Hermione Granger and the Half-Blood Prince

Chapter 3

Author's Note: I'd like to thank everyone who's read the first two chapters, followed, favorited, and reviewed. Your support is GREATLY appreciated and encouraging. Here's chapter three, and I hope you enjoy it.

Chapter Three: The Cursing of Katie Bell

Hermione, despite herself, found herself hoping to see Callum Rafferty again. Her thoughts often drifted back to that Saturday when they had sat together watching the Gryffindor Quidditch Tryouts.

Before Hermione knew it September was gone, and October had arrived.

Once, Hermione had thought she had seen Rafferty rounding a corner on the third floor corridor. She had quickened her pace and rounded the corner, but if it had been him, he had already been gone. Disappointed, she had continued on to the Gryffindor Common Room to open the package her parents had sent her for her seventeenth birthday. She had not seen hide nor hair of Rafferty since.

Two weeks into October was when the first trip to Hogsmeade was scheduled. It was a terrible day to be outside. The wind and snow seemed to grow fiercer with every step they took. They weren't even a hundred feet from the castle when Ron had confessed a desire to turn back.

"Blimey," he'd said, his scarf flying over his face. "It's awful out here. What d'you say we head back?"

Hermione's heart sunk. Granted, it was cold, but Rafferty was staying in Hogsmeade, and she was hoping to see him. She looked over at Harry whose cheeks were flushed from the cold. She could tell he was in agreement with Ron.

"Come on," Hermione urged, "It's not that far of a walk. We could stop in at Zonko's Joke Shop." She knew this would appeal to both of the boys, especially Ron. "Then we can run by Honeydukes and then The Three Broomsticks for a Butterbeer."

Ron grinned. "I wouldn't mind going to Zonko's." Harry agreed, and they trudged along through the snow.

When they reached the small village of Hogsmeade, they found that Zonko's Joke shop had been boarded up.

Ron moaned. "Oh, no."

Hermione heard Harry sigh, and Ron suggested, "Let's go to Honeydukes then." Harry and Hermione followed.

The moment they stepped inside Honeydukes they were enveloped by warmth and the enticing smells of countless sweets. Hermione made her way past a group of first years, their arms full of Skiving Snackboxes, Fizzing Whizbees, and Acid Pops, and wondered how long it would be before they'd be making a trip up to the Hospital Wing to see Madam Pomfrey.

Hermione picked up a misplaced Blood-flavored lollipop and made a disgusted face. She startled and about dropped the lollipop as a booming voice called out to Harry from across the shop.

Hermione turned around to see Professor Slughorn coming toward them, a box of Crystalized Pineapple in his hand. Hermione shoved the lollipop back where she found it as Professor Slughorn began to lightly scold Harry for missing his suppers and Harry made an excuse about Quidditch practice.
The two of them haggled over it for several minutes before Slughorn left, having never once cast his gaze toward Ron. The door closed behind him, and a cool chill shot through the store. One of the first years closest to the door shivered and dropped his candies to the floor, blushing as his friends giggled and helped him pick them up.

Hermione turned to Harry and tried to convince him that Slughorn's dinner parties weren't as bad as he thought. Then she noticed Ron's sullen face, so she quickly changed the subject to the first piece of candy that she saw: a sugar quill, but Ron's mood didn't change.

After they had fully perused the shop and Hermione had purchased a box of Pumpkin Pasties to send to her parents (they had become fond of the small pies when Hermione had taken a box home in her third year), Harry suggested they go to the Three Broomsticks.

Once again they stepped out into the cold. Chills went down Hermione as they made their way down the street against the wind. She had been so busy looking up and down the street— hoping to catch sight of Rafferty— that she hadn't even noticed Harry and Ron having a conversation with Mundungus Fletcher until Mundungus was flung against the wall of the Three Broomsticks, and Harry's hand was pressed against his throat.

"Harry!" Hermione yelled as Harry pointed his wand at Mundungus.

It didn't take Hermione long to assess what the problem was: Mundungus had stolen something from Number Twelve, Grimmauld Place.
Hermione, despite her best efforts, couldn't convince Harry to let go of Mundungus. She was getting worried. She didn't think she had ever seen Harry this angry before.

Just when Hermione felt as if she would have to physically tear Harry away from Mundungus, Tonks showed up. She convinced Harry to let Mundungus, who Disapparated the moment he could, go.

As Harry and Ron trudged around the corner toward the door of the Three Broomsticks, Hermione hung back to ask Tonks something.

"Tonks, do you know Callum Rafferty?"

Tonks pulled her jacket around her tighter in an effort to fight off the cold. "Yeah, he's an Auror. We were in the same year together at Hogwarts."

"Is he trustworthy?" Hermione was sure she sounded ridiculous asking all these questions.

"Yeah, he is. He's a friend of mine actually. Why?"

"No reason... Just curious. I'd better get inside."

Hermione bid Tonks farewell and joined the boys inside the Three Broomsticks. "I'll get the Butterbeers," she told them as they went to find a table.

Harry was still fuming when Hermione returned to their booth with three Butterbeers. She slid in next to Harry and tried to calm him.

Eventually, after suggesting that he tell Dumbledore what had happened with Mundungus, Harry calmed down, and Hermione turned to Ron who was staring longingly toward the bar. Hermione asked him what he was staring at, but he quickly looked away and sheepishly said they he wasn't looking at anything.

Hermione made a snide remark regarding Madam Rosmerta, who Hermione knew was who he had been hoping to see. I wish Ron would acquire good taste in women already, she thought to herself.
Ron ignored her and merely drank his Butterbeer in silence.

Hermione glanced around, once more hoping to see Rafferty, but he wasn't there. She resided herself to the fact that she wasn't going to see him that day, and once Harry had finished his drink, she suggested they start back for Hogwarts. Both he and Ron agreed, so they followed Katie Bell and Leanne outdoors.

They weren't far before Hermione noticed that Katie and Leanna were getting into a heated discussion. Hermione gathered that it was over the package Katie was carrying.
After several more minutes of arguing Leanna made a grab for the package. Katie resisted, and the package fell to the ground, opening in the process.

Katie instantly shot up into the air and began screaming. Hermione had never seen anything like it before, and it sent chills down her spine. Then, as suddenly as Katie had ascended, she fell to the ground with a thud. She squirmed and continued to scream in the snow, as if having a seizure.

Harry ran to get help and soon returned with Hagrid who carried Katie back to the castle. Harry picked up the package, careful to pick it up with his scarf and not touch it, and Hermione put an arm around Leanne to help her back to the castle.

Professor McGonagall met them all and led them to her office where Leanne explained what had happened. Apparently, Katie had returned from the loo, instructed to give the package to someone at Hogwarts, but she wouldn't tell Leanne who she was to deliver it to or who had given it to her. Leanne confessed her suspicion that Katie had been under the influence of the Imperius Curse.

Once she had finished recounting the string of events that had led up to where they were now, Professor McGonagall instructed Leanne to go see Madam Pomfrey for a calming draught.

After Leanna had left, Professor McGonagall questioned the three of them, and Hermione moaned internally when Harry accused Draco Malfoy of the day's events.

Hermione could tell that even after Professor McGonagall had explained to Harry that Draco Malfoy had been in detention with herself that day, Harry was still convinced that Draco Malfoy had been behind the cursing of Katie Bell.

After they left Professor McGonagall's office, both she and Ron attempted to dissuade Harry from his suspicions about Draco Malfoy, but to no avail.

Thanks so much for reading! I hope you enjoyed chapter three. I know it was sparse on dialogue, but I promise there will be more dialogue forthwith. Chapter four is written and just needs some editing, so I should be uploading it soon. As always suggestions are always welcome. Thank you!