Of Cunning and Courage

Chapter 3

Pansy, Daphne, and Hermione found themselves walking to the dungeons from the Great Hall, chatting about their new professors. The prefects were at the front of the herd, leading them towards their common room. The deeper they went into the castle, the darker it got, the only light being the eerie glow of the magic lit lamps casting shadows on the walls.

The group stopped in front of a large portrait of a man in a green turban with a flute in between his lips, a woven basket set in front of him. They watched as the man began to play, the top of the basket slowly rising to reveal a silvery snake. "Password?" the snake hissed.

The prefect in front of them, Higgs, she remembered, a boy with sandy hair and oddly kind eyes for a Slytherin, raised his voice to them. "The password is Sanguinem vincit omnia, it changes every fortnight so be sure to pick up the password from you House prefects."

The portrait slid aside as the wall behind it parted, and Hermione stifled a giggle, thinking 'How utterly Slytherin.' The group walked onwards into the passage that had opened in front of them, a green light at the end of the tunnel the only thing guiding there way.

Daphne had taken her hand, Hermione spared a glance to the girl, seeing that she had gone from cheery and laughing to anxious. They reached the end of the passage, and were met by a multitude of green and silver, Slytherin monochrome. The group inspected their common room for the first time, most of them finding it acceptable. A l couch sat facing a large fireplace, the flames glowing green, with windows on either side, looking out into Merlin knows what, because Hermione was sure that it wasn't the castle grounds. For a brief moment, she thought she saw a flash of fish scales, but she brushed it off as a trick of the light. Later on, she would discover that they were, in fact, fish scales, for their common room had a magical view into the Black Lake.

All around the room were small tables and armchairs, a few study desks and suits of armor standing guard. The furniture was tasteful and elegant, her mother would have approved, and the entire feel of the room was comforting, to her at least. She knew she should have felt cold, but the dampness of the dungeons had been magically taken away, leaving a comfortable warmth surrounding them all.

"Now, all of you listen up." Terence Higgs called out. "You lot are Slytherin now, and that means upholding all beliefs of Salazar Slytherin. People expect great things from you, and you will do your best to meet those expectations, no matter what. We upper years are here for questions, but try to get the answers on your own. Your timetables will be given to you tomorrow morning. Breakfast is served in the Great Hall at 7:30. Classes begin at 9:00. Observe curfew, and don't get in trouble. Girls, your dorms are along the corridor on the left, boys, on the right. That is all."

The three girls quickly went on their way, Hermione hurriedly taking a bed by the window, seeing that her trunk had already been brought up, placed on the foot of her bed. The beds were once again adorned in green, as were the curtains, that shifted into silver when moved. Daphne had taken the bed to her right, Tracey to her left, which left Pansy in the far right, and Millicent opposite to her, nearest to the door.

The girls were silent as they began emptying their trunks, arranging their belongings in the cabinets beside their beds. Hermione set aside her school things, placing them in a new canvas bag with her initials embroidered in the center. She folded her clothes, placing them neatly into drawers, hanging up her school robes. Finally, she had taken out a set of dress robes that her mother insisted she bring, for what, she didn't know. They were a pale shade of blue silk, lined in gold stitching, she hung it up, along with a matching dress.

"Oh, you brought dress robes too?" Daphne asked, noticing the curly haired witch. "My mother made me bring mine along, said that there would be a need for them later in the year."

Hermione smiled politely, already busy wondering what the event could be if it required the use of fine clothing. She stripped off her robes, and began getting ready for bed, brushing out her hair, the charms her mother had placed on it disappearing. She padded back to her bed, in silver pajamas and house slippers, slipping into the covers. Pansy was sitting on Daphne's bed, giggling while the blonde witch rolled her eyes. "Admit it Daph, Terrence is fit."

"He's a fourth year, Pans, he wouldn't give you the time of day. He's too good looking for you anyway."

Hermione smirked into her pillow, amused. She had never been one for boy talk. Pansy lightly hit the other girl on the shoulder at being insulted, and continued giggling. Hermione drew her curtains closed, and settled into the bed, ignoring the endless giggles, and nodded off to sleep.

She walked into the great hall after a grueling experience of trying to replicate her mother's hair charms to perfection, a few minutes to spare before breakfast. The rest of the girls had already left by the time she was finished, leaving her to walk the way from the dungeons alone.

"Here's your time table." Theodore said as she approached them, smiling at her with kind green eyes as he handed her a piece of parchment when she had taken the seat next to him.

"Thank you." she said, glancing at it briefly before scooping up a helping of scrambled eggs and bacon.

"So, Hermione, what's -" Theodore started to say, but was cut off by the head that had appeared in the middle of their table. The boy yelped in surprise, and would've tumbled out of his seat had Hermione not grabbed hold of him.

"Good morning, Baron." she said to the specter as he begun to float upwards. The ghost faced her, "Good? What's good about it?" he muttered darkly before floating away.

Theodore was staring at her like he'd just seen a ghost, which he had. "How the hell are you so bloody calm?"

"Language, Theodore." she scolded. "They're ghosts, not a big deal. There are scarier things than dead people, you know."

The boy next to her mumbled something she almost didn't catch, a faint flush appearing on his cheeks. "Theo. Call me Theo."

The witch smiled at him and nodded, turning to face the rest of the table who were busy either talking about flying lessons later in the week, or their next class, Transfiguration with the Ravenclaws.

"Do you play Quidditch, Hermione?: Blaise had asked her from across the table.

"Merlin, no. I hate flying." she said, nose scrunched up in disdain.

"Maybe you just don't know how." Draco said with a condescending smirk.

She rolled her eyes at the boy, "Of course I know how, don't be daft, I'm a witch, after all. I'm just worried about falling."

"Falling's's half the fun!" Blaise exclaimed in disbelief. "I don't know how anyone wouldn't like flying."

The rest of breakfast went on with them trying to convince her of the wonders of flying, annoying her to no end. When it was time for classes, she was relieved at being able to escape them.

Professor McGonagall was a severe witch who did not like talking in her class, and seemed to be suspicious of every little thing her students were doing, or maybe it was just because they were Slytherin. She was efficient, very much so, as Hermione had spent the class taking notes and already had a couple or so feet of parchment written down.

At the end of the lecture, the professor had each given them a match, and instructed them to apply the lesson to turn the match into a needle. Hermione got to work quickly, already familiar with the subject from her readings. Daphne was sitting next to her, brows pulled together in concentration, repeating the incantation, but the match had remained as it was.

Hermione tried the spell herself, only succeeding in getting a faint metallic sheen to appear over the tiny stick. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Crabbe mutter the spell incorrectly, lighting the match on fire. He looked on hopelessly as it burned into a pile of ash on his desk.

She tried again, this time, the silver more defined, and one end had tapered into a sharp tip. She grinned, then trying to create the eye of the needle.

This went on for a few more minutes before McGonagall cleared her throat, calling an end to the exercise, inspecting the work of each student. When she got to Hermione, the professor almost smiled, picking up the needle and showing it to the class, congratulating the little witch. The girl bloomed under the praise, and left the room with a grin.

Her classes had so far passed her expectations, Charms with Flitwick was by far her favorite, Defence Against the Dark Arts was a sad let down, owing to their professor being a trembling, stuttering mess. They had yet to experience Potions with Snape, but what the witch dreaded the most was the next class of the day.

All first years had a compulsory flying course, taught by Madam Hooch, who had instructed the class to stand by a broomstick. They shuffled off, falling into two separate lines, Gryffindors facing Slytherins, each with a broom at their feet.

"Stick your right hand over your broom," the witch called at the front, "and say, 'Up!'"

"UP!" Hermione said, with less enthusiasm than everyone else. Her broom floated up but wavered midway, dropping to the grass with a soft thud. The second time she tried, it was better. The broom flew up into her hand, albeit slowly, not like Harry Potter's which had shot up the moment he had said the order. She grumbled at not being the best at something, noticing Draco was brandishing the broom on his hand quite proudly. That is, until Madam Hooch had told him that he had been doing it wrong for years.

The blonde scowled at the teacher, but fixed his grip nonetheless, flushing in embarrassment. He didn't fail to notice Potter and Weasley hiding their laughter at him being corrected, and Hermione noted the dangerous glint in his eye as he focused his scowl onto the two boys.

"Now, when I blow my whistle, kick off from the ground hard. Keep your brooms steady, rise a few feet, and come straight back down. On my whistle - three - two-"

But before Madam Hooch could even bring the whistle to her lips, Neville had pushed off hard, rising straight up, going farther and farther up until he was at least twenty feet into the air. Their teacher was yelling at the boy to come down, but either he didn't hear her, or had no control whatsoever.

Suddenly, the pale faced boy slipped sideways off the broom, landing with a horrible crack. They approached the boy, who was lying facedown in the grass, groaning in pain. Hermione heard their teacher mutter, "Broken wrist, come boy, we've got to get you to Madam Pomfrey."

The games keeper turned to the rest of the class, "No one is allowed to move until I get back, is that clear?" The two walked off into the castle, with Neville clutching his arm as tears streamed down his face.

As soon as they were out of sight, Draco erupted in a fit of laughter, Hermione glared at him, but he was busy making fun of the boy. "Did you see his face?" The other Slytherins guffawed and began joining in, mocking the way Neville had groaned in pain.

"Shut up, Malfoy." A girl from Gryffindor snapped, one of the Patil twins.

Pansy laughed, "Sticking up for Longbottom, Parvati? Didn't think that you'd like the pudgy crybaby type." she said snidely.

"What do we have here?" Draco said, noticing a shiny orb in the grass. "It's the loser's Remembrall."

"Give that to me, Malfoy." Potter said quietly to the smirking blonde.

"I think I'll leave it somewhere for him to find. Like a treasure hunt. How does up a tree sound? Or on one of the towers?"

"Draco." Hermione warned, her voice soft enough to be heard only by Draco. He glanced at her for a second, but turned his attention back on Harry, ignoring the girl completely.

"Give it here!" Potter had yelled, but Draco was already in the air, proving to the class that he was actually a good flyer. The blond hovered over a nearby tree, waving the orb in hill hand, "Get it if you can, Potter!" he taunted.

The bespectacled boy mounted his broom, and kicked off, and Hermione anxiously watched him fly up to Malfoy, his face set in determination and anger. The two boys zoomed in the air, Potter was actually a talented flying, considering that he had never flown on a broom before. The two were yelling at each other, their words indiscernible to the students on the ground. Suddenly, Draco threw the Remembrall high into the air, then hastily made his way back to the ground. Potter dove down, gathering speed, and just as the ball was about to hit the ground, caught it and swerved up, face beaming in triumph,


All of them turned to face a red faced McGonagall running towards them, the class all craned their heads forward, trying to hear what the professor was saying to the boy who had landed back on the ground, looking sheepish. Then, she grabbed potter by the collar, and the two walked back into the castle, the woman still muttering under her breath.

Draco, who stood behind her next to Crabbe and Goyle barked out a laugh, "He'll be scrubbing cauldrons in detention for weeks!" he said gleefully.

When Hermione had arrived at the dinner table from the library, she immediately noticed the grey storm cloud hovering over it. Taking a seat next to Daphne, she turned to ask what had happened when Draco said, "Have you heard? Saint Potter got on the Gryffindor quidditch team."

Hermione's eyebrows shot up in surprise. "What? But I thought first years weren't allowed?"

"McGonagall pulled some strings for the Chosen One, of course." he snapped angrily. "He isn't even that good!" The boy went on to rant about Potter, ruining dinner for the entire table. Finally, as they were finishing, Hermione decided that she couldn't take it anymore.

"It's your fault, anyways. If you hadn't baited him into flying, he wouldn't have been caught by the professor. So shut up already." she snapped, getting up in a huff, leaving him to glare at her as she walked away.

Daphne found her in their common room, legs folded under her, with a book in her hands. The blonde witch quickly took a seat next to her, a worried look in her face. "Hermione, you won't believe what just happened." she said. "Draco went up to Potter and Weasley just after you left and challenged him to a wizard's duel! They're doing it at midnight."

Hermione snorted. "So? It's not my business what Prince Draco does in his spare time. What's the worst they could do? A couple of tickling jinxes and stinging hexes and they're done."

"What if they get caught? They'd get in trouble and think of all the house points they'll lose us! Oh, Hermione, you have to stop him!" Daphne replied.

The curly haired witch bit her lip, arguing with herself, "Why don't you do it?"

"You and I both know Draco listens to you. Come on, Hermione."

"Alright, fine, I'll do it." she conceded with a sigh.

"You're a saint!" Daphne said, hugging her. "Now let's go and do something fun, my mum sent me a box of new lip colors that I want to try out, you can tell me which ones look pretty!"

Hermione smiled at the girl, allowing herself to be pulled along. Even though make up didn't interest her, she was more than happy to watch her friend go crazy over it and give her opinion.

They had tried every color of lipstick in the parcel, the colors ranging from a sweet baby pink to the most ghastly shade of green. Daphne had manipulated her into trying on a bright orange color that looked like she had had too many glasses of pumpkin juice. They had cast a silencing charm over Daphne's bed, so they wouldn't wake up the rest of the girls with their giggling.

In the common room, the clock chimed twelve, and Hermione only then realize it had gotten so late. "Daph! It's midnight. I've got to go talk to Draco."

"Take that horrible lipstick off first." the witch said. She brushed the color off in a quick swipe, and hurried to them common room, catching Draco and Crabbe in the middle of sneaking out.

"Where do you two think you're going?" she said, hands on her hips.

"Why do you care? Want to save Potter, do you?" Draco sneered at her.

"Come off it, Draco." she said rolling her eyes. "You know as well as I do that you're going to get caught."

"So little faith in me." he said. "We won't get caught."

"Yes, you will, and you'll lose us points. Terrence won't be happy with you for it, and you'll get detention. Just leave Potter alone. Look, those Gryffindors don't have the brains to think that you'd trick them into wandering around the castle after curfew. Filch will catch them, and they'll be the only ones in trouble." she tried to reason.

Draco narrowed his eyes at her, she could see he was thinking about it, weighing down his options.

"Fine. Just this once, Hermione." he said, waving his hand at Crabbe to go back to the dormitories. Draco followed, but as he passed her, he caught her wrist, "And don't ever talk to me like you did at dinner again, or you'll be sorry."

Hermione smirked at the boy, "I will talk to you anyway I see fit, Draco. I'm not afraid of you."

The boy only glared at her in reply.