To say that Draco was angry with her would be putting it lightly. When Potter and Weasley had show up in the Great Hall for breakfast the next day, he had scowled at her, "Remind me next time not to take advice from you." he snapped.
Hermione was having none of it, noticing the two boys looked worse for wear as they whispered to each other. They seemed to be talking about something important because both boys kept glancing around to see if anyone was listening to their conversation, and looking at the Headmaster. A creeping suspicion filled Hermione as she watched the two wizards, wondering what they could be talking about.
"They know something. Something must have happened last night." she said to Draco, trying to ease the tension between them.
"How do you know that?" he asked her, still with annoyance in his voice.
"They keep whispering and pointing at Professor Dumbledore. Potter can't seem to stop looking at the doors. They're hiding something."
"Well, if you're right, I want to find out what it is." he said, focusing his eyes on the Gryffindor table.
"Bloody hell." Blaise said out of nowhere, looking at the horde of owls that had just come swooping in.
"What is it?" asked the blonde witch sitting across from him, craning her next to try and see what the other boy was looking at.
"Look at that parcel over there, the one being carried by six owls. That's a broomstick! I wonder who's it for." he said in awe.
They all watched as the owls made their way for the Gryffindor table, coming to a stop at, of course, Harry Potter.
Draco and Blaise swore at the same time, glaring at the boy across the room, probably wishing the owls would start pecking him violently. Potter and Weasley both took the parcel and ran quickly out of the Hall, Draco, too, stood up, followed by Blaise, Crabbe, and Goyle.
Hermione resisted the urge to stop them, knowing that she had done enough to annoy Draco for the week, and left them to torment Potter in whatever way they saw fit. She turned to Daphne, who immediately wrapped her in a conversation she and Pansy were having about a Wizarding band called the Weird Sisters.
Hermione sat next to Draco in Potions, since Pansy had carted Daphne off to a corner of the room, and Blaise and Theo had paired up with each other. Their professor swooped into the room in a flurry of dark robes, and immediately started with roll call. He had paused at Potter's name, to say "Ah, yes, Harry Potter. Our new — celebrity." Hermione and Draco both sniggered at their professor's obvious dislike towards the boy, relishing in the fact that not all their teachers were enamored by the Chosen One.
"Potter!" Snape had said, interrupting his own lecture, "What would I get if I added powdered root of asphodel to an infusion of wormwood?"
Hermione's arm was ready to shoot up to answer, like always, but she was restrained by a hand clutching her wrist, she faced Draco in confusion. "For once in you life, don't be such a swot and let Potter squirm." he whispered. She nodded and relaxed her arm, turning to look at the dark haired boy who had muttered, "I don't know, sir."
"Let's try again, shall we? Where would you look if I told you to find me a bezoar?" Snape asked.
She held her hand back, smirking at the absent look on the boy's face. "I don't know, sir." he said again. Next to her, Draco was shaking with barely controlled laughter.
"What is the difference between monkshood and wolfsbane?" the Potions professor asked one more time.
Hermione could almost see Harry bite back a snide remark, "I don't know sir."
"Pity." Snape said, turning to the rest of the room. "To anyone who possibly redeem this class by answering all three questions, I shall give a total of twenty points."
Draco turned to face her sharply, but her hand was already up, waiting to be called upon. "Yes, Miss Dagworth-Granger?" Snape asked in acknowledgement.
"Asphodel and wormwood, Sir, are used to create a powerful sleeping potion known as the Draught of Living Death. A bezoar is a stone taken from the stomach of a goat, and it can be used as a cure to most poisons. While monkshood and wolfsbane are the same plant, also known as aconite, which is the key ingredient to the Wolfsbane Potion." she recited from memory, thanking her father for his tutelage.
"Quite, Miss Dagworth-Granger, though, I suppose I could expect nothing less from you. Twenty points to Slytherin." her professor said. He then went on to put them into pairs, Hermione was a little worried at being paired with Draco, since she wasn't sure of his prowess in the subject, but decided to give him the benefit of the doubt. Snape then set them to mixing a potion to cure boils, simple enough.
To her delight, Draco was as meticulous at she was in preparing the ingredients. He would add and remove the needed amount of dried nettles until they weighed the exact amount specified, and crushed the snake fangs so finely that they could have been sold at an apothecary, when the professor had passed to inspect their work, he had nodded in approval, theirs being the only station he commented on positively, praising the way Hermione had stewed their horned slugs when acid green smoke stemmed from their cauldron. The two eleven year olds shared a high five under the table before carrying on their work.
They watched as Longbottom and Finnegan floundered to try and save their potion, for their cauldron had somehow begun to melt, the green potion seeping into the cracks on the floor and covering Longbottom in it. Draco laughed as Snape reprimanded them for their idiocy, his laughs becoming louder as boils began to appear all over his skin. Hermione looked on in worry and disbelief at how they could have messed up their potion so badly as to create a potion to create boils rather than cure them.
Snape ordered Finnegan to take the boy to the Hospital Wing, he then turned to Potter and Weasley, who were working next to the pair of boys. "Potter, why didn't you tell him not to add the quills? Thought you'd look good if he got it wrong, eh? Another point from Gryffindor."
The boy being spoken to began to open his mouth to complain, looking indignant, but closed it almost immediately, turning to scowl at his partner. Snape called the class to an end after collecting vials of each potion, and the class began packing up.
"I can't believe it, it's so unfair. He gave points to Dagworth and Malfoy just because they're in Slytherin, I bet. They're potion couldn't have been as perfect as he said. I mean, no one else got it right, right?" Potter said loudly when the professor had exited the room. Both Hermione and Draco turned to face the boy in question, eyes blazing in anger, Draco moved to reply but Hermione beat him to it.
"Nothing in life is fair Potter, you're too used to being the Golden Boy that it's gotten into your enormous head. There are people who are more deserving than you are. You get glory just because of that scar on your head, we get it because we work for it. My father is the top leading Potioneer in all of Europe so don't bloody tell my potion wasn't perfect. And it's Dagworth-Granger to you." she spat, turning to leave so fast, her hair whipped around behind her. She hadn't even realized that Draco wasn't following her, so she was surprised when she turned to talk to him to find only Blaise and Theo behind her.
"He stayed back with Crabbe and Goyle." was all Theo said.
Blaise slung his arm over Hermione, grinning at her, "Don't listen to them, they're a bunch of bumbling idiots, you heard Snape. Besides, everyone knows that everything you do is perfect. You're already top of the class, and you've earned Slytherin half the points we have since classes started! Everyone except Potter knows that."
"I know that. It just irritates me that he gets special treatment and is allowed to break the rules. He's still a student, he's just like one of us." she complained.
"But he isn't one of us, is he?" Theo said somberly.
Hermione turned to him in confusion, "What do you mean?"
"I mean, he defeated the Dark Lord, he's basically untouchable, and we," he gestured to the three of them, " are Slytherin, Dark Witches and Wizards and all that shite."
"But we aren't!" Hermione exclaimed.
"They don't know that. For all they care, I'm the son of a Death Eater, Blaise's mother is a murderous leech, and you're a Black, who to be honest, aren't the sanest family in the Wizarding world." he said.
Hermione sighed, "I wish there was something we could do about it."
"The best thing to do is show them that we aren't who they think we are. Prove all of them wrong."
"That's easy, I'm already the top of our class." she said, winking at Blaise, who laughed.
"That's because you're a such bloody swot." Theo teased.
"Watch it. I'm a Black, you know, we're not the sanest family in the world." she said, laughing as the group of three headed to the Great Hall for lunch.
They were halfway through the meal when the three missing Slytherins walked into the Hall, Crabbe had the beginnings of a bruise blooming on his left eye, and Draco's hair had been messed up from its usual slicked back perfection, but other than that, they looked triumphant. Hermione bristled at the three of them.
"What did you do?" she asked, horrified.
"Oh, calm down, its nothing, right boys?" Draco said with a smirk as his two friends shrugged.
"What do you mean nothing? Crabbe has a black eye!" she screeched.
"Lower you voice, wont you? The professors might hear us." he said, sitting down in front of her.
"What happened to you, you poor thing?" Pansy cooed beside Draco. Hermione struggled not to cringe.
"I said, it's nothing. Just ran into a couple of idiots who didn't know how to keep their mouths shut."
"You didn't?" she said, not wanting to now the answer. She glanced quickly at the Gryffindor table where two boys were having trouble hiding their injuries, a few bruises showing on their faces. "Draco Abraxas Malfoy, what were you thinking!"
"You could be more grateful you know. The Weasel said some pretty nasty things when you left." he said, rolling his eyes at her, as if causing a brawl was something to be grateful for.
"Be that as it may, I fight my own battles, and I don't use brute force to do it either." she huffed. "I didn't know you were such a Gryffindor."
"Weasley started it. I was only returning the favor." he replied, as if justifying his actions.
"Whatever. Just eat or you'll be late for Charms." she and Daphne got up to leave, but before she turned away, she looked at the blonde, quietly saying, "Thank you." She did not see the bright smile that had appeared on his face as she and her friend walked away.
"That was a very nice thing to do, you know." Daphne said while they walked.
"His intentions were nice but I don't like violence." Hermione had said simply.
"Still, it was sweet of him."
"We're family, Daph, his father probably told him to watch over me."
"You're second cousins, it doesn't count." her friend said. "Besides, didn't Walburga Black marry her cousin?"
"Shut up, Daphne." Hermione said, not wanting to talk about it.
"Alright, alright. By the way, did you actually write two feet on Cheering Charms, or one and a half with, you know, really big handwriting?"
Hermione laughed, "I wrote three feet, excluding the references."
"Bloody hell, Hermione, you don't give it a rest, do you?" the blonde said, eyes wide at her admission.
"Language, Daph." was all she said in reply.
The professors had somehow been informed of the fight that had occurred in the dungeons, and somehow, their version of the story painted Draco as the instigator of the whole thing, and despite trying to say what really happened, he Crabbe, and Goyle had been sentenced to detention with Filch every night for the next two weeks. Draco had told his friends this at dinner, in a furious tone that made her wonder if he had already written his father.
Just when he was about to go into his fifteenth minute of complaining, Professor Quirrell sprinted into the hall, his face a mask of terror as he half yelled, half gasped at the professor's table, "TROLL! In the dungeons-troll!" before promptly slipping into a dead faint.
The Great Hall erupted in an uproar, students jumped out of their seats, a few girls screaming, Pansy being one of them as they went into a panic. Out of nowhere, purple sparks flew out of the Headmaster's wand, with a booming, "SILENCE!"
Everyone in the hall turned to look at the old professor. "Prefects, lead your House back to the dormitories immediately!"
Terence Higgs immediately shot up, ordering the Slytherins out of the door. They were herded by another prefect, Willow Farley, a blonde fifth year, and another boy. Daphne had taken Hermione's hand, pulling her along. The large group of Slytherins thundered through the castle halls, the prefects barking out the password to the common rooms immediately.
"No one is allowed to leave until further notice." Terrence called out to his house.
They made themselves comfortable in one of the corners of the room, Hermione already sitting on a large green love seat, said "How did a troll get into the castle? Aren't they supposed to be, well, trolls?"
"Someone must have let it in." pondered Theo.
"Who, though?" she asked.
"Maybe it was Potter. I mean, what if he has a hero complex and wants to save the day so he created his own villain?" Blaise suggested, Draco nodded his assent, agreeing to everything said against his enemy.
"How could an eleven year old lead a troll into the castle?" Daphne argued, not believing Potter could have done it.
"Ugh, why do you want to know who let it in? As long as someone gets rid of it, I'm alright." Pansy said, "Anyone up for a game of Exploding Snap?" her eyes were oddly fixated on Draco as she said this, Hermione noticed, but the blonde seemed oblivious to the dark haired witch, still deep in thought. Hermione took out a piece of parchment from her bag, the people around her left her alone, thinking she was doing a bit of revision, but with a quill, she wrote, in a practiced, elegant script, "Harry Potter, Ronald Weasley, Neville Longbottom." then "Secret whispers." then "Troll in Hogwarts" then "Forbidden corridor"
It wasn't much to go by, but if anything, it was a start. Hermione's suspicions were on high alert, and she wanted to have them proven.
The next morning, the Great Hall was abuzz with gossip. Hermione sipped on her pumpkin juice as Pansy retold the story she heard from Tracey Davis, who heard from Marietta Edgecomb, who heard from Hannah Abott, who heard from Parvati Patel that Harry, Ron and Neville had defeated the mountain troll in one of the abandoned classrooms. Longbottom had lost his way to their common rooms, and when the two boys noticed they had gone after him. When the professors arrived, hearing the shouts, they found the three boys standing over the knocked out mountain troll.
Blaise smirked at Daphne, "Still dont believe Saint Potter let the troll in?"
"Of course not. If he let the troll in, he wouldn't have gotten that gash on his head from trying to knock it out." she reasoned. The two of them began bickering rapidly, Hermione ignored their arguing and turned her gaze to the boys of the moment, they looked fine to her, save for a coupe scratches and bruises here and there. Harry was flushing at the attention, as was Neville, but Ron seemed to be basking in it, loudly regaling the tale. She did not fail to notice that the three boys seemed to be sitting closer to each other, and she realized that they had bonded over the accident, they seemed to be smiling at each other more too.
With a sign, Hermione realized that they had taken Neville into their fold. 'Pity," she thought, "I thought he would be a good friend."
Hermione had chosen to sit out the first Quidditch match of the year, so she was the only one not decorated in Slytherin colors that morning at breakfast, she ignored the anxious chatting of her classmates, eyes on a book she had borrowed from the library, unaware of the goings on around her.
"Hermione!" someone had yelled into her ear.
She jumped in surprise. When she saw her friends chuckling at her expense she growled, "What?"
"Are you sure you don't want to watch the match with us?" Theo asked, with pleading eyes.
"No, I have to do a bit of advanced reading, and I like it when the library is empty." she said, still annoyed at being distracted.
"Alright, we're headed off then." he said, as the rest of the group stood to leave for the Quidditch pitch. She nodded her goodbye and quickly finished the last of her scrambled eggs. She was just about to leave when her Potions professor entered the Great Hall, robes billowing around him. She noticed he was walking with a limp, which was odd, because it hadn't been there yesterday.
Her professor noticed her looking at him, and said, "Anything I can help you with, Miss Dagworth-Granger?"
"No, Sir." she chirped back, quickly exciting the hall.
She glanced back at the man, trying to get a good look at his leg, because for a moment there, she thought she had seen bandages wrapped around it tinged with the scarlet color of blood.
"So you mean to tell me, someone cursed Potter's broom, causing it to spin out of control, almost throwing him off," Draco coughed, muttering something that sounded really close to "Shame." Hermione ignored him. "Then, Professor Snape's robe caught on fire, then, Potter caught the Snitch with his mouth?"
The group nodded back at her almost comically. She laughed, "You're joking, right?" The group shook their heads.
She sat there, astounded. "Looks like I'll be at the next match, then." she said.
Next to her, Blaise let out a whoop of joy.