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What She Hears

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Part one summary: Wherein a bit of mutual history is discussed and Millicent is not that precocious.
***
Millicent knows what Hermione Granger sounds like when she comes. She thinks it’s a bit funny: she’s heard the sounds from Granger so often and only just learned that it’s the sound she makes then, too. It’s an odd series of whimpers, like she’s being hurt, strangled, suffocated; Millicent’s not heard anything like it from anyone else ever.

She’s known since second year. Oh, she didn’t know then what she was hearing; whatever you’ve heard about Slytherins, they’re not quite that precocious.  

She first heard the sound during the single Dueling Club meeting, in full view of Professor Snape and That Git Lockhart. She got paired off with Granger, of all the rotten luck.  Millicent knew her strengths well, but she also knew her own weaknesses. So as soon as she could, she tossed her wand and tackled the much slighter girl. Millicent might not be quick with the hexes, but she put Granger in a headlock in just moments. It was a rush, knowing she’d won, hearing Granger’s little moans of pain, deep in her throat.

She felt oddly triumphant for far longer than she thought she ought to have. At the time, though, all she knew was that Granger was whimpering and not talking for once and she was so angry when Potter tried to peel her away from Granger she wanted to spit.

Then she heard it again, in fifth year. She had been on the Inquisitorial Squad headed by That Bitch Umbridge. They had caught Potter and his gang, including Granger, trying to break into Umbridge’s office right after the exams. She had been trying to subdue Granger so she could be questioned, and when she had Granger crowded into the wall about as far as she could go, Granger started making the sounds again, low in her throat. She clearly wasn’t in favor of the close quarters. Millicent was starting to be mildly aware, in the back of her mind, that she was perhaps enjoying having Granger pinned down, whimpering, a little more than she ought. But then the low whimpers changed to snivelling against her back and Millicent had stepped away, alarmed. She might find Granger’s whimpers of pain and frustration amusing, but snot on her robes was a different story entirely.

They had several more run-ins in the next year and a half or so. Most times, Millicent simply couldn’t stop herself from slamming Granger into the walls whenever they ran into each other in the hallways between classes. Sometimes, when Granger was alone, Millicent was rewarded with another set of whimpers. More often, Potter or Weasley or both would glare and threaten to hex her, and she’d miss hearing Granger’s complaint. She began to enjoy the way Granger would gasp and pale when she saw Millicent approach. Once, just to mess with Granger’s mind, she simply ignored her and walked straight past, not even brushing against her. She snuck a backwards glance and saw Granger standing in the middle of the hallway, staring at her in puzzlement. But confusing Granger wasn’t nearly as enjoyable as hearing her whimper just so, and so it was only the once that she tried that trick.
***
Part two summary: Wherein Potter needs a diversion and Millicent cooperates.
***
But in seventh year their tension came to a head.  Potter was having another damn-fool heroic stand against Yet Another Bloody Evil Defence Instructor and dragging his ever-growing set of sidekicks along.  To her surprise, Millicent found herself in agreement with Potter; unfortunately, she was officially on the wrong side of things, again. Which is part of the reason that she cooperated with Granger.

Millicent was blocking Granger in again, this time face-to-face. Granger, as usual, was making her trapped noises, but both girls were more interested in the battle that was happening in the main part of the room between Potter and the Evil of the Year, and so Millicent saw Potter’s desperate glance at Granger as he circled around. The whimpers stopped and Granger took a deep breath and –

-- and just as Potter’s opponent was facing Millicent and Granger, Granger yanked Millicent’s face down to hers and pressed their lips together. Startled, Millicent cooperated in the kiss until a yelp to her left made her break the kiss to turn her gaze back to the action. Potter had taken full advantage of his opponent’s distraction and his opponent was now lying on the floor, stupefied.

In fact, stupefied was a good word for the rest of the room as well, even Potter. Clearly he had had in mind something along the lines of a scream or even some kind of well-timed interjected comment to serve as a distraction, instead of a rather shocking kiss.

Millicent was rather taken aback as well, to tell the truth. She had heard the rumours about herself, of course; it seemed that a girl who didn’t date, even when her eligible male peers were spectacularly ugly, opened herself up to taunts about her sexuality. And it didn’t help that the rumours happened to be pretty close to the truth, as it happened. But she hadn’t heard any rumours about Granger being gay. In fact, the only whispers currently going around about Granger involved kinky threesomes with her two chums. Her two male chums.

Granger took advantage of Millicent’s temporary abstraction to squeeze out from her place against the wall and join Harry in binding the Evil Professor. Malfoy and his gang departed fairly quickly, now looking outnumbered and rather foolish with their authoritative backing now lying on the floor swathed in ropes. But Millicent stayed behind. She definitely wanted to talk about this new development. It had been quite a nice kiss, after all.
***
Part three summary: Wherein there is finally dialogue. Millicent impugns Granger’s sexuality and implies wrong things about her, Harry, and Ron. She convinces Granger that they should kiss again. PG-13 for mentions of kinky threesomes.
***
“Granger,” Millicent said. Granger, on the verge of leaving the room, half turned back. “I want to talk to you.”

When Granger hesitated, Potter and Weasley swung around to flank her defensively. “Maybe she doesn’t want to talk to you, Bulstrode,” snapped Potter. Weasley cracked his knuckles threateningly.

“Oh, honestly, Harry, I’ll be fine,” said Granger. But she didn’t look nearly as sure of that as she sounded. The boys unwillingly left the room, as slowly as possible.

“We’ll be waiting up in the Common Room,” Weasley growled in parting. “To make sure you get back in one piece.”

After they had left, there was a long silence. Millicent simply looked at Granger, sizing her up. She had never really thought about the possibilites of Granger actually playing for her team, but if her first impulse for a distraction had been a kiss, she had to have been thinking about it beforehand, right? Or have at least thought about it before. Questions were racing through Millicent’s mind, sensible questions like ‘why did you kiss me?’ and ‘who taught you to kiss like that?’ and ‘so, does this mean you’re playing for the other side?’

But what came out of her mouth was, “I thought you and Potter were shagging.”

Granger blushed purple. “No!” she exclaimed. “That stupid article – people still think that – that – No!” Millicent blinked. What article? Then she remembered – fourth year, there was gossip about some weekly rag. Must be that.

“No,” said Millicent slowly, “I thought it because you three are always together. With no boyfriends or girlfriends on the side. You’re not doing both of them, are you?”

Granger shuddered at the suggestion. “Oh, that’s so tacky,” she said. “Why do people say things like that – I’m not interested in Harry or Ron!”

Millicent cocked her head to the side. “Fancy girls then, do you? Thought you’d try it on with me in front of an audience so if I knocked your block off you’d have someone to defend you, is that it?” If it was, she’d give Granger credit for more brains than she’d thought.

But Granger looked puzzled, then mildly horrified. “No!” she said. “I’m not – “

“Gay?” Millicent wryly provided. “Sure. Of course not. You didn’t enjoy that kiss one bit.”

“I’m not! I didn’t!” Hermione said insistently. Then she repeated herself, softer. “I didn’t.”

Millicent could hear the note of doubt in her voice.

“So then, d’you want to try another kiss? See if it was a fluke?” She couldn’t believe she was trying this old hack. ‘Oh, it’ll just be an experiment, I’m sure you’re straight too, it’s just for kicks…’, honestly. Sure enough, Granger was skeptical.

“Kiss you? You?” said Granger, disbelievingly.

Millicent felt vaguely insulted. Sure, she might not be little, gigglesome, and cute like most of the other girls in their year, but then, neither was Granger.  She didn’t think she was flattering herself to think of herself as striking. Statuesque. Certainly, she was at least as attractive as Granger, with all that bushy hair and “I’ve-read-every-book-in-the-library-at-least-twice” posture.

“Why not me?” she said defensively, crossing her arms over her chest (which was definitely better than Granger’s).

“Well,” said Granger slowly, as if speaking to an idiot, “You’re a Slytherin and I’m a Gryffindor. If your Housemates didn’t try to kill me, mine certainly would.”

“Oh,” snorted Millicent, “House prejudices are your only reason? That’s stupid.”

Hermione looked frustrated. “How about the fact that you try to kill me every time you see me?”

Millicent snorted again and waved her hand. “Flirtation. Innocent antics.”

Hermione looked flabbergasted. “Innoc — I had bruises, Bulstrode!”

Millicent looked vaguely intrigued. “Really? Where?”

Granger threw her hands up into the air and turned her back, pacing around the room. She seemed to be muttering to herself, although Millicent couldn’t make out what she was saying. Finally she seemed to come to a decision, and halted in front of Millicent.

“Fine,” she said. “Why not. But shove me into the wall one more time, Bulstrode, and you’ll regret it.”
***
Part four summary: Wherein Millicent shoves Hermione into the wall once more. There is snogging. And they are late to Potions.
***
Millicent could see Granger gathering up her courage.  She tentatively raised herself up onto her tiptoes, cautiously put her hands on Millicent’s shoulders, and leaned in for their kiss. Millicent knew better than to expect fireworks or a chorus of little birdies, but it was – mmm – quite a nice kiss. That was – hey – over. Far too short, in Millicent’s opinion. Granger had her fingertips pressed to her lips, looking shocked.

“Liked it, did you, Granger?” Millicent asked.

“Yes,” said Granger, looking a bit bewildered.

“Then you won’t mind if I –“ and Millicent shoved Granger against the wall, this time cupping her hand between the other girl’s head and the stone wall, and pressing their lips together once more. This time, Granger had her hands right near her face, so it felt quite natural that they would drift into Millicent’s hair, tugging her even closer.

Millicent could hear Granger whimpering in the back of her throat. She raised her head just a hair to check. Ah, still enjoying herself. That’s all right then, she thought, rather bemusedly. She went back to exploring the inside of Granger’s mouth. Mmm, definitely getting a bit warm. Wonder who taught her to kiss like this? Surely it can’t be natural talent.

Just then a voice interrupted their focused attention. “Hermione, we decided to come back and check on you – Oh!”

Millicent reluctantly let Granger’s mouth slip away, but she saw no reason why the git at the door should distract her. She took the opportunity to investigate the hollow beneath Granger’s jaw, right in front of her ear. Oh, lovely, soft skin. She licked that spot, and vaguely heard Granger’s breath hitch.  

She was distantly aware of Granger speaking in a calm, reassuring kind of way that was only interrupted by her occasional gasps of enjoyment. But she did notice when the door slammed shut behind whoever had come in, because Hermione turned her attention back to Millicent and was clutching a handful of robes, panting approval of the wicked things Millicent was doing to her throat.

Millicent thought her ears had started to ring, but Granger pulled away with a deep sigh.

“That’s the bell for class,” she said thickly. “Potions. We’ve got to run.”  Millicent looked up from Granger’s collarbone.

“You’ve got to be joking,” she said. “You want to go to class? Now?”

Granger grimaced, but nodded. “Can you imagine the points he’d take off Gryffindor if I skived off?” Millicent grinned. “Okay, fine, I know you’d be in favor of that. But we can meet later and –“ Granger’s voice broke a bit and she looked away shyly, “—finish up?”

Millicent grinned her approval. They snatched up their bookbags and left the Defense classroom at a run, heading for the dungeons.

They arrived five minutes late, panting and out of breath. Snape raised an eyebrow when they tumbled into the classroom and took the last available workspace.

“Five points from Gryffindor for lateness,” he said. “Miss Bulstrode, do try to be on time in future.” His eyes lingered on the mark on Granger’s neck, but he made no comment, merely quirking an eyebrow at Millicent.

Hermione nearly choked, but managed to stay silent. When Millicent saw her turn in her seat, she shot her a sly grin. Granger blushed and looked at her notes.

The class was mostly quiet, interrupted only by Longbottom’s occasional mishaps. Millicent took advantage of the peacefulness to fire off the occasional saucy note to Granger, who simply blushed and snuck a glance at her from under her lashes. But the last note just before the end of class, which read, “I hear Head Girls get private bedrooms,” earned a slight nod and a return note. With directions and the password.

Granger looked over and mouthed, “Tonight?” Millicent nodded dumbly. As if that was even a question.
***
Part five summary: Wherein there is smut (finally!). The next morning, plot slowly begins to rear its ugly head.
***
Millicent walked into the Gryffindor Common Room at half past eight. She’d half expected to be confronted by scads of angry Gryffs, demanding that the Slytherin leave their space at once.

But nobody seemed to particularly notice her. The third-years kept playing Exploding Snap, fifth-years giggled and blushed in little bunches, and seventh-years had their heads down over books and parchments. Millicent cast another look around. No Potter or Weasley; that must be why the room was so peaceful. She shrugged and headed up towards the girls’ dormitories, where Granger had said her room was.

She finally found the room, way at the end of the hall. She stared at the door a moment, then knocked. Granger sounded rather irritated when she said “Yes? Come in,” which made Millicent a bit nervous about her welcome.

But it seemed that Granger had not been expecting her this early. Her bushy head was bent over some schoolbooks and she hadn’t paused in her note-taking to see who was at the door. “Yes? What do you want?” she said shortly.

Millicent didn’t reply. Instead, she walked forward and took the quill out of Granger’s hand and began to pack up her books and parchments.

“What? Hey!” she protested, swatting ineffectively at Millicent’s busy hands, but her protests died away when Millicent finished her tidying up and leaned down to kiss her. Granger melted into the kiss, reaching up to pull Millicent closer. Unfortunately, that meant that Millicent was now bending nearly double. At this rate, she’d get a crick in her neck.

Millicent reluctantly broke the kiss. Granger hummed in disappointment and dragged her eyes open. Millicent grabbed her under the elbows and pulled her to her feet, then turned her around so that Granger’s bottom was resting on her newly-clear desk. Granger didn’t seem to object to this peremptory treatment, especially when Millicent stepped in between her knees and pulled them together snugly before resuming the kiss. That was much more comfortable, Millicent thought smugly, before her thoughts ceased to be quite that coherent.

After a few minutes of intense snogging, Millicent’s hands began to wander. She began tugging at Granger’s robes; she wanted access to more skin, dammit. Granger protested dimly when Millicent had to break the kiss to undo the fastenings of the robe, but she cooperated in pulling the robes off, then began to tug at Millicent’s. Millicent was more than happy to cooperate, and soon both girls were clad in their skirts and blouses. This was definitely not enough for Millicent, though, and she began working on Granger’s buttons. Granger blushed and looked like she was going to protest in shyness, but Millicent leaned back in and kissed the mark on Granger’s neck, and she moaned and relaxed.

Finally, finally, the shirt was off. Millicent kissed her way down Granger’s quite nice chest. Granger gasped when she felt the first touch of Millicent’s lips on her rosy nipple, and when Millicent flicked her tongue against the puckered bud, she cried out sharply. Millicent paid equal attention to the other breast, and after only a few moments Granger was panting and squirming around on the desk.

Granger seemed to come to her senses a bit, though, and reached for the buttons of Millicent’s blouse. A bit of reciprocity wouldn’t come amiss for Millicent, and she eagerly flung her shirt off, hearing several buttons come undone. Granger frowned a bit; clearly, she was unable to see buttons come off without wanting to fix them, but she seemed to forget the askew buttons at the sight of Millicent removing her vest.

Millicent wasn’t nearly as outspoken as Granger; thus, the sight of Granger kissing her breasts only made her want to shout. She couldn’t even muster up the words to suggest that they ought to move this party to the bed, but she tugged at Hermione until she got the idea and followed.

Millicent twisted so that Granger would land on her back on the bed, and so Hermione squeaked when Millicent landed on top of her.  But she seemed to find the arrangement satisfactory, especially with Millicent’s hand up her skirt and mouth pressed to hers.

Granger ran a hand down Millicent’s back and cupped her arse, causing Millicent to grind herself slightly against Hermione’s thigh. Then Hermione’s hand slipped under Millicent’s skirt as well, pushing it up to her waist and tugging on her knickers. Without breaking the kiss, Millicent helped, then tugged down Granger’s.

Hermione seemed unsure of what to do next, so Millicent guided her fingers against her clit, with the hand that wasn’t busy between Granger’s legs. Ever an apt pupil, she caught on quickly. Granger began to whine as Millicent found a sensitive spot and worked her fingers rhythmically against it. She came with a set of high-pitched whimpers that Millicent could have sworn she’d heard before, but didn’t want to divert her attention to think about. Instead, she gave Granger a couple of moments to gather her breath, then rolled them over so that Millicent was on her back and Hermione was lying on her side next to her.

Millicent tugged down on Granger’s hair, and she obeyed, kissing her way down Millicent’s body. When she realised what Millicent wanted, her eyes flashed up to meet with Millicent’s, but clearly her curiosity, academic or otherwise, took over and she wordlesssly acquiesced.

Millicent threw back her head in delight; Granger might be a novice, but she was a natural at this. She was – oh – was –

And silently but no less intensely, Millicent came, her whole body shaking.

After she recovered her faculties, Millicent found herself remembering all the times since second year when she had heard Granger’s whimpers of pain. And now she’d heard them once more. The whimpers weren’t from pain or frustration anymore, and Millicent found that she liked them much better that way. They weren’t the only noises Granger made, either. When Millicent kissed her, deep and hot and wet, she hummed lowly, happily. She squeaked and squirmed when Millicent’s hand drifted lightly down her ribcage. And when, late at night, Millicent forgot herself and said, ”Good night, Hermione,” she nearly purred.

Millicent had sworn up and down to herself that she wasn’t going to stay the night. She was just going to get some and get gone, because Granger probably was just as loud after sex as she was before and during and Millicent absolutely could not stand stupid chatter after sex. It was distracting. But Granger had a charming way of cuddling after sex absolutely silently, for which Millicent was quite thankful.

The next morning, Millicent was eating breakfast and trying not to look over at Granger too obviously when Dumbledore rose to make an announcement.

“If I might have your attention, please?” All heads swiveled to the front of the Hall as the bleary-eyed students perked up their ears. Even if they hadn’t been at the duel, they all knew about the defeat of the now-former Defense professor. Millicent had been wondering herself what they’d do about their NEWTs now, with no professor.

“As you all must know by now, Professor Touche-Feele has been disclosed as a spy for Voldemort.” Several students winced at the name, but Millicent didn’t bother. “As Defense Against the Dark Arts is regrettably quite necessary these days, I feel the need to replace the professor immediately. I will be able to teach a few of the most advanced classes, but the majority of them, will, I’m afraid, be beyond my powers of time-management. To that end, there will be a number of schedule changes to accommodate our new professor. As he seems to have a talent for disposing of my Defense professors, I have asked Harry Potter to assist in teaching for the rest of the year.”

The hall broke out into loud conversation. Millicent blinked. So that was why Potter hadn’t been in the common room last night.

She looked over at the Gryffindor table. Potter was sitting there, blushing and looking pleased and gratified. Granger looked stunned. Clearly this was news to her as well.

***
Part six summary: Wherein they chat in bed. And then find a better use for it.
***

After a few more nights of noisy shagging followed by complete silence, Millicent finally couldn’t stop herself from asking something she’d been wondering. “Won’t they start missing you in the evenings? Potter and Weasley?”

“Oh, them,” Hermione huffed unexpectedly, changing the mood abruptly from contemplative post-sex vagueness to – well, the only way Millicent could describe it was as ‘girl talk’. Millicent supposed it was her own fault for bringing talk of the boys into bed with them like that. “Ron’s off practising Quidditch all the time, all he thinks about is his broomstick –“ Millicent interrupted her with a snicker. Hermione blushed and rushed on. “And Harry’s – well, Harry’s busy too.”

Millicent raised an eyebrow. “And you just hate it that you weren’t asked, too, don’t you, Granger? After all, if a student is going to be asked to teach some classes, you’d have expected it to be you?” She’d expected a rant on this topic from Granger ages ago – even the day of the announcement. But perhaps it was too touchy a subject for her to talk about casually, or perhaps she’d been waiting to be asked.

Hermione grumped a moment indignantly, then confessed. “Yes! It’s so -- but it’s Harry. I mean, he did defeat Professor Touche-Feele; if Dumbledore had asked any other student after that, it would have been a bit ridiculous, don’t you think? But still, I mean, I could have taken at least some of the theory-based classes. Harry has his NEWTs to study for, after all.”

Millicent rolled over and kissed the tip of Hermione’s nose affectionately. “Shut it, Granger, you know Potter won’t be able to handle it without you. He’ll come crying for help and you’ll get your classroom full of innocent victims to overload with work and study timetables.”

Hermione was quiet for nearly a full minute. “He hasn’t yet,” she said softly. “He loves it. He’s only teaching in the periods he had free, but he spends all of his time planning out the lessons and he’s so happy to do it. A Hufflepuff first-year called him Professor Potter the other day, and I thought he’d float to the ceiling. Professor Dumbledore’s talking about arranging private tutorials in Harry’s other classes, so he can teach more of the Defense classes.”

“Ah,” said Millicent, suddenly catching on. “He’s the smart one now, is that what you’re thinking? There’s not room in this House for the both of us, Granger,” she suddenly growled in an appalling American accent. “You and me, shootout at high noon.”

Hermione dissolved in giggles at the ridiculous put-on, but quickly recovered her composure. “Well, yes,” she said. “I know it’s silly, but I can’t help but feel –“

“Left out? Unnecessary? Su-per-flu-ous?” Millicent drawled, rather amused.

Hermione blushed, but nodded. Millicent kissed Hermione’s nose again, consideringly. “Well, bugger them,” she said finally. “You can stay right here, and we’ll see how long it takes them to notice. And I get to keep you until then.”

“Keep me?” Hermione asked, part-indignantly but seeming to be mostly amused. “Like a toy?”

“Like a doll, Granger.” Millicent contemplated the distinctly sentimental tone that the conversation was taking, then mock-grimaced at Hermione. “We’d have to do something about that hair, though. ‘S too big for a doll’s.”

Hermione gasped with a sudden giggle and moved her hands up to push Millicent away. But Millicent grabbed her wrists and pushed up, trapping her hands above afore-mentioned bushy hair. Millicent was very aware that the change in position had left her pressed up against Granger’s naked body from breast to knee, and from the hitch in Hermione’s breathing, she had taken notice of the new situation as well.

Mischeviously, Millicent lowered her head and nipped at Hermione’s collarbone. Rather than the objection she had expected, though, she got a moan. Internally, she raised an eyebrow. So Hermione liked it a bit rougher? She had no problem with that. She alternatively licked and nipped her way down Hermione’s torso, earning a string of moans and gasps, culminating in a near shriek when Millicent pressed a kiss directly against her clit, hard. As a general rule, Millicent wasn’t particularly fond of doing this; however, now that she had license to be a bit rougher? She’d be happy to, thank you.

It seemed Hermione was quite happy to as well, judging from the tenor of the sounds she was now emitting. She was also squirming so hard Millicent was sure that she’d have finger-shaped bruises on her hips in the morning; Millicent was having trouble keeping her still. She furled her tongue and gave Hermione one more rough flick, and Hermione came, loudly.

Millicent slid back up Hermione’s body and kissed her deeply. She suspected Hermione would take the gesture more romantically than it was meant; she really just wanted to get the taste out of her mouth. If she was going to do this on a regular basis, they would need to start having a glass of water or something on the bedside table.

***
Part seven: the plot advances inexorably! (Cue dramatic sound effects.) Hermione is worried about Harry, who is acting strangely. Is it Voldemort? The upcoming NEWTs? Or is the DADA position really cursed? PG-13 for snogging in corridors and really, really moody Defense instructors.
***

Just as Millicent was about to enter the Potions classroom the following Wednesday, Hermione tugged her aside, down to a dark alcove. Millicent looked at her, puzzled.

“We do have few minutes before class starts, you know,” Hermione whispered, looking up at Millicent through her eyelashes. Millicent blinked at this bit of uncharacteristic boldness, then decided to go with it. She leaned down for a quick snog.

Once more, it was Hermione who noticed the bell ringing. Since they were so close to the classroom, they were only moments late. This time, Snape didn’t say anything; he merely looked amused once more.

This set a routine for their days. Whenever they had class together, either Millicent or Hermione would tug the other aside into a side corridor or empty classroom. Millicent enjoyed the expressions on Potter and Weasley’s faces when she and Hermione would tumble into their shared classes barely on time, lips swollen with stolen kisses, but few of their classmates seemed to notice – or particularly care.

One Wednesday, about three weeks after that first corridor snog, they met in their alcove as usual. But this time, Hermione was unresponsive when Millicent tried to kiss her.

This, of course, made Millicent rather cross. She snapped, “What is wrong with you today, Granger?”

Hermione hesitated a moment, then blurted out something that had clearly been worrying her for more than just a day.

“It’s Harry,” she said. “He’s been acting so oddly lately. He’s never been this moody, not even during fifth year when everything went so badly for him. One minute he’ll be patting some little Ravenclaw on the head for doing well in class, then he’ll be trying to smite Seamus for chewing too loudly or something ridiculous like that, and I actually caught him signing an autograph the other day, which, if you knew Harry a bit better, would worry you more than anything else. I’ve been trying to keep an eye on him, to figure out what the matter is, but Ron refuses to help and everyone else is terrified of him by now. Honestly, if Ron would think of Quidditch a little less and his friends a little more, we could probably take care of this in no time. But no. Quidditch has to come first.” Hermione was practically growling in frustration.

Millicent nodded. “But you haven’t seen the beauty of a perfectly executed save, Granger,” she said mock-seriously. Hermione gaped at her for a moment, then swatted her on the shoulder.

“I’m serious!” she said crossly.

“Fine, fine, Granger,” said Millicent. “I’ll see if Malfoy has noticed anything. He always knows what’s going on with Potter.”  

Hermione smirked suddenly. “Haven’t you always wondered about him and his obsession with Harry?” she said slyly. Millicent grinned.

“I never took you for a gossip, Granger,” she said. “But now that you mention it…” And both girls broke up laughing.

The next morning at breakfast, she did what she had promised and talked to Malfoy. “So, Malfoy,” Millicent began.

He looked mildly shocked at being spoken to by her. “What do you want, Bulstrode?”

“I want to know what’s up with Potter. Granger said he’s acting funny lately.”

“So?” Malfoy said. “Why are you asking me?”

“Well, you fancy him, don’t you? You’re always watching him.”

Malfoy spluttered. “I’m not – I don’t –“ He suddenly drew himself together. “However did you come to that ridiculous conclusion, Bulstrode?” he asked arrogantly.

Millicent sighed. “That’s not important, Malfoy. Just, have you noticed Potter doing anything out of the ordinary for the last couple of weeks.”

Malfoy grimaced but appeared to think. “Well, actually, no; he’s been a model of good behaviour,” he said finally. “And that’s what’s odd. He hasn’t responded to anything. He hasn’t drawn a wand on me in days, he smiles politely when we pass in the corridor, and there’ve been absolutely no fights at all.” Malfoy frowned petulantly. “It’s quite disappointing, really.”

“Ah,” said Millicent. “You’re upset because Potter hasn’t flung himself at you and rolled around on the ground with you lately.”

Malfoy nodded enthusiastically, then frowned. “Hey. That sounds so poofy when you put it that way.”

Millicent smirked at him, then rose to go to class. Hermione would want to hear about this.

She met a nearly frantic-looking Hermione just outside the Great Hall. After Millicent recounted what little she had been able to learn from Malfoy, Hermione threw up her hands.

“Well, I asked a few people from our House, and it’s so much worse than I thought! Listen to this: He stutters in lecture. He’s never stuttered before! When he clears his throat to interrupt someone, it sounds more and more like he’s saying hem hem. He signs autographs and poses for pictures, tossing his hair to make it look like he just got off his broom. He started shouting “Constant vigilance” at Lavender for no reason the other day in the Common Room, and he threatens to turn people into small woodland creatures if they irritate him. He carries on whole conversations with himself, and gets upset if anyone interrupts ‘them’ while he’s still mid-thought.+ And I heard him pondering bringing in some Cornish pixies for a demonstration to the second years! Plus, as it gets closer to the full moon, it’s all getting worse!” By the end of this recitation, Hermione was shrieking.

Millicent blinked, then grinned. “I heard about that pixie business. We laughed ourselves silly for days. But the rest of that doesn’t sound too bad. A bit odd, perhaps…”

“That’s not the point, Millicent! It’s the combination of all of that that’s so worrisome –“ Just then, Potter himself walked up to them. He caught the tail end of Hermione’s thought and frowned.

“You’re worried about something, Hermione? How does that make you feel?” he questioned earnestly.

She smiled thinly, and replied in a tight voice, “Oh, Harry, I’m fine. It’s just schoolwork, you know. How are you doing today?”

“I’m feeling good about this teaching business,” he said. “Really positive. The good energy is definitely flowing between me and the students, and I can feel the negativity washing away with the tides.” He strolled away, whistling tunelessly.

This time, Millicent was the one to pale. Hermione caught her eye and nodded grimly. Professor Touche-Feele. This was serious.


+Obviously, we don’t know the sixth-year professor’s habits yet. I’ve decided that multiple personalities are an entertaining quirk to give poor Harry, and so that was his/hers (beyond the Evaaal-ness, of course). Eh, good as any. Just so you know. It may be important later (probably not, though).

***
Part eight summary: Wherein Hermione is bewildered and Millicent suggests possibility of curse, and there is much research, punctuated by snogging.
***
A few days later, the two girls were sitting in Hermione’s bedroom, discussing the situation.

“I just don’t know what to do!” Hermione burst out in frustration.

As this had been a fairly regular occurrence over the past three days, Millicent merely patted her on the shoulder and leaned in to kiss her temple. “I know you’ve been doing research on personality-switching spells and delusion hexes, but have you thought that maybe it’s not Harry?”

Hermione narrowed her eyes thoughtfully. “What do you mean?”

Millicent shrugged. “Well, all of our Defense professors have been absolutely insane, not to mention evil–“

“—except Professor Lupin—“

“—Right, except for the werewolf–“ Hermione scowled but stayed silent this time. “Maybe it’s not the people, but more of an occupational hazard. I bet anyone would lose it trying to teach a bunch of grotty little first-years.”

Hermione remained silent for a moment, although it was clear that her mind was working double-time. Suddenly she sprang up and planted a deep, heart-felt kiss square on Millicent’s mouth. “Mill, you’re brilliant!” she gasped out, tearing away, and rushed to the door. “Sorry, I have to go to the library!”

Millicent scowled. “Don’t call me that!” she hollered after the swiftly moving form. She sank back against the pillows. So much for her hopes of some quality snogging. Jilted for a pile of books. She sighed and got up. No use sticking around here then; might as well try to help out in the library.

When Millicent arrived at the library, only a few minutes after Hermione, the other girl was already nearly buried under a pile of books. Millicent shared a look of amusement with Madam Pince and went to help Hermione cart her booty to a study table. They divided books between them and began to read.

After a few minutes of fruitlessly scanning indices for references to job-related stress and similar topics, Millicent leaned over to Hermione and whispered, “What exactly are we looking for again?”

Hermione hissed in irritation at being pulled away from her book, but raised her eyes and replied. “Curses, of course. You said it yourself – the position is cursed!”

***
Part nine summary: Wherein Hermione has found proof of existence of curse on DADA position. They go to Harry with proof. He goes berserk, as proof comes from Snape (horrors!). They go to Dumbledore. He agrees with them. Hermione works out the solution, but Millicent falls asleep and misses it.
***

Hermione sighed and rubbed her eyes, heavy with sleep and library dust. “It’s not here,” she said thickly.

Millicent raised her head from the table where she had been resting it (resting! For just a moment, honestly!) and tried to make her tired eyes focus on Hermione. “Mmm?” she questioned.

“I keep thinking it’ll be in the next book and there’s nothing. Just page after page of nothing. But you have to be right, there has to be a curse. Oh, why can’t they have said something about this the last time they updated Hogwarts, A History?”

Millicent propped her chin on her hand. “Probably because it hasn’t been edited in fifty years?” she said dryly, waking up a bit more. “I honestly doubt even Dumbledore could have failed to notice a pattern like that.”

Hermione suddenly sat straight up. “Of course!” she exclaimed. Madam Pince shot a nasty glare at her, and she lowered her voice. “First, we need to find out when this started — who was the last person to hold the position for more than a year without going evil?”

“I don’t know,” said Millicent slowly, “but I know who might – Professor Snape. He was here ages before Quirrel.” Hermione grimaced and Millicent snorted. “Oh, just because you don’t like him doesn’t mean he’s not useful, Gryffindor. Besides, if I go and ask he’ll be civil.” She paused. “Probably.”

They walked down to the dungeons, hopeful that despite the late hour Professor Snape would still be awake. They were in luck – he was in his office, greasy head bent over a stack of student parchments. When they entered, he looked up with what appeared to be relief, although that was quickly replaced with a look of impatience upon seeing Granger.

“Yes?” he said curtly. “Can I help you? Do make it brief, Miss Granger,” he said, holding his hand up as Hermione began to speak. She frowned but opened her mouth again. Millicent elbowed her in the ribs. Hermione looked at her, a bit hurt. Millicent tried to communicate shut up, let me talk, but suspected she only looked irritated.

“Professor,” said Millicent, “we were wondering if you could tell us a bit about the Defense instructors before we came to Hogwarts.”

As she had expected, Snape frowned deeply. But also as she had expected, he wasn’t able to resist expounding on one of his favourite topics: Other People’s Incompetence. “Well. Where should I begin, Miss Bulstrode? Should I describe the utter nincompoop who had the position the year of Quirrel’s sabbatical? Or the disaster that was Quirrel’s first year of teaching? Before him, there was Stevens, Fostre, Spelmont, MacEuan – I could go on for days. What information, precisely, are you in search of?”

Hermione jumped in, clearly unable to resist a direct question, even one not aimed at her. “Are there any Defense instructors who lasted more than a year, Professor Snape?” Millicent shot her another quick glare, but Professor Snape only spared her a scowl and continued his tirade.

“Well –“ he began, then paused. He appeared to be thinking. “The first year I was on staff, there was a man here who had taught Defense since my own final year. He left halfway through the year in disgrace, however.”

Millicent’s ears pricked up. “Disgrace, sir?” she questioned.

Snape looked disgusted. “He took advantage of a student.” He snorted. “A very young student, actually. He was last seen leaving the castle pursued by the young lady’s mother, father, and several older brothers.” He looked into the distance. “It was quite a nice funeral,” he said thoughtfully.

Hermione was nodding vehemently at Millicent, indicating the door. She said hastily, “Thank you sir, you’ve been most helpful, we have to go now.” And the two girls rushed out of the office.

Hermione panted out, “We have to get to Harry.” Millicent almost protested, but decided to go with Hermione’s plan, whatever it was, rather than stop and argue.

They reached the Gryffindor portrait hole, and Hermione gasped out the password. As soon as the portrait swung open, Hermione dived inside. Millicent followed, cautiously.  

Harry had been sitting in front of the fire, nearly nodding off. He was now being talked at, quite quickly, and looked bewildered. Millicent reached Hermione, and laid a hand on her shoulder. Hermione looked around, took a deep breath, and then began again, much more slowly.

“Oh, Harry! We’ve figured it out. I don’t know if you, er,” she stumbled a bit, “noticed, but you’ve been acting a bit unusual since you’ve been appointed Defense Professor. Well, I – we, really, Milllicent and I – discovered why! Professor Snape—“ but she got no further.

Harry rose from the chair, absolutely incandescent with rage at the mention of Professor Snape. And, as it turned out, incoherent. He fumed a bit at the two of them, but Millicent could only decipher one word in ten, and most of those were swearwords. Clearly, though, Hermione had had better luck, because her eyes were beginning to shine.

Millicent put an arm around Hermione’s shoulders and began to steer her away, toward the portrait hole. Hermione put up little resistance, and looking back, Millicent could see Potter storming up towards the boys’ dorms.

Hermione seemed to regain a bit of composure as they left the Common Room. She sniffled and straightened herself up. “Dumbledore,” she said. “We have to go to Dumbledore.”

“You have to go to bed, Miss Granger. Miss Bulstrode,” came a sharp voice from behind them. Hermione stiffened under Millicent’s arm for a moment, then turned.

“Professor McGonagall,” she said.

McGonagall raised an eyebrow and sniffed. “I’m surprised at you, Hermione,” she said. “Out so late after hours!” Millicent suppressed the urge to look at her watch; it couldn’t be more than half an hour after curfew.

“Please, Professor,” pleaded Hermione. “We need to see Professor Dumbledore. It’s about Harry.”

Professor McGonagall visibly wavered, then relented. “Very well,” she said reluctantly. “Come with me.”

As they ascended the steps behind the gargoyle that protected Dumbledore’s office, Millicent tried not to fall asleep standing up. It had been quite a long day, after all, and she hadn’t gotten much sleep for the past few nights. The memory of exactly why she hadn’t slept revived her a bit, however, and she smiled in recollection.

“Ah,” said Professor Dumbledore, “do come in. I’ve been waiting for you, Miss Granger.” He nodded to Millicent, who couldn’t help but feel a bit stroppy. It had been her idea about the curse, after all. Hermione seemed to sense her indignation and squeezed her hand.

They sat down and poured out the whole tale to Professors Dumbledore and McGonagall. Harry’s odd behaviour, their research, Millicent’s guess (which Hermione emphasised), and their chat with Professor Snape. When they reached the part about the instructor who had left, Professor Dumbledore’s eyes lost a great deal of their twinkle.

“Yes, indeed,” he said heavily. “That was a sad day in Hogwarts’ history. But what relevance do you believe it has to young Harry’s behaviour, Miss Granger?”

“Well, isn’t it obvious?” she said, a bit impatiently. “He left the position cursed. Can you name even one professor who served for more than one year and retained both their sanity and their ethics? Even Professor Lupin, who was the best professor we’ve had, concealed vital information about Sirius Black and forgot his Wolfsbane potion.” Millicent stared. She’d definitely have to get that story.

Dumbledore appeared to be deep in thought. “Now that you mention it, yes,” he said slowly. “I hadn’t noticed a pattern, exactly, but it does stretch coincidence a bit thin, doesn’t it?”

Hermione nodded enthusiastically, her bushy hair even more wild in her excitement.

Dumbledore hummed for a moment to himself under his breath. “I believe I should give this some serious thought,” he said.

Hermione broke in. “Oh, but Professor, I have an idea!” Millicent stared again. When did Granger get the time to come up with a solution; she was still trying to wrap her head around the problem, for heaven’s sake. Hermione leaned forward and began to speak in a low, confidential tone.

Millicent listened to her voice rise and drop, rise and drop, until she jerked upright and realised that she hadn’t heard a single word of the explanation. Further, she saw Professor Dumbledore, and, to her humiliation, McGonagall, twinkling at her as Hermione shook her awake and walked her back to her room.

***
Part ten summary: Wherein Harry is officially re-appointed normal-student-who-happens-to-teach-a-couple-of-club-sessions-in-the-evenings. Comes back to senses. Millicent decides to set him up with Malfoy, now that he is Officially Not Evil (be good influence on him). Also, will distract Granger’s attention back onto her. Jealous, jealous, jealous.
***

The next morning, Millicent met Hermione just outside the Great Hall. The other girl was practically bouncing with excitement.

“Dumbledore’s going to make the announcement this morning,” she bubbled. “With any luck, this curse nonsense will be cleared right up and Harry will be back to normal!”

Millicent frowned. Everything seemed to centre around Potter these days. She preferred to have Hermione’s undivided attention centred on her; this sharing her with Potter business was for the birds. She saw Hermione looking at her worriedly, and forced a smile. “Wonderful,” she said, with what she hoped sounded enough like enthusiasm.

Hermione seemed satisfied with that, though, and they went in for breakfast.

As he had several weeks ago, Dumbledore rose. “If I may have your attention for an important announcement? I regret to inform you that Defense Against the Dark Arts has been permanently dropped from the Hogwarts curriculum.”

The Great Hall broke out in excited whispers, but Dumbledore raised his hand for silence. ”Instead,” he continued, “each year will be assigned one evening per week where they will be instructed in subjects remarkably similar to those they would have learned in Defense lessons, should we still have those on the curriculum. These group meetings are mandatory and will be led by a rotating group of seventh-year students, who are not under any circumstance to be referred to as ‘Professor’. The seventh-year lessons will be led by the four Heads of Houses. Please see a Prefect in your House for your assigned evening. Thank you for your attention.”

He sat down and chaos reigned. Students were craning their necks to look at Potter and gossiping about the reasons behind the sudden change. Millicent looked over at Hermione. So this was her plan? Eliminate the curse by getting rid of the class and the position and spreading out the responsibility? Hermione met her eyes and Millicent saluted her with her glass of pumpkin juice. Pretty goddamned brilliant, Granger.

Potter suddenly swayed in his seat. If Hermione hadn’t been sitting next to him and caught his elbow, Millicent could have sworn he nearly fell over. She saw him shake his head and glance around the Hall as if bewildered for a moment, then seemingly regain his senses. He turned to Hermione and they began to talk intensely, heads bent together. Millicent scowled. She definitely needed to get that boy someone new to pay attention to.

She turned to Malfoy. “So,” she said, “Potter’s sane again.”

He quirked an eyebrow. “And?” he drawled.

“Well,” she said impatiently, “it means you might have a chance at him before anything else dramatic comes along. You never know – a stray demonic possession could ruin your game for the rest of the year, and then where would you be?”

Malfoy looked at her in disbelief. “You — Are you encouraging me to kill Potter? I thought that bird of yours would –“

Millicent cut him off. “Not kill him, idiot. Snog him.”

Malfoy sputtered impotently. Millicent tuned his indignant protests out as she looked across the tables at Hermione and winked. Hermione nodded slightly back and turned to Harry once more. Millicent could see his gaze shoot over to Malfoy after a few minutes. He blushed redder than Millicent had ever seen anyone blush.

Millicent looked at Malfoy. He, too, seemed to be blushing. “Did you and your Mudblood girlfriend set this up, Bulstrode?” snapped Malfoy.

“Watch it with the Mudbloods, Malfoy,” said Millicent automatically. “And we might have discussed it. It’s not like we’re the only ones who have, either.”

Malfoy went even redder. “You mean—“

Millicent nodded and said, a little maliciously, “Oh, yes, there’s been loads of bets on about you and Potter. The more unimaginative say you’ll end by killing each other. But the odds have been pretty even on snogging for a couple of years now.”

Malfoy seemed to have recovered his composure. He looked speculatively over at Potter. He raised an eyebrow and Potter blushed once more. Malfoy smirked and stood. “Place a bet for me, Bulstrode,” he tossed over his shoulder as he left. Millicent grunted and waved a hand in acknowledgement, her attention already back on Hermione.

Millicent was happy to see that Granger was staring at her for once, rather than mooning over Potter. She jerked her head toward the door, and Hermione nodded in agreement. Both girls rose from their seats and left the Hall.

They met in a shadowy alcove just off the Entrance Hall for several minutes of heavy snogging, and were, as usual, late for class.

***
Part eleven summary: Wherein Millicent’s ploy to divert Granger’s attention didn’t work; Granger now obsessed with Potter’s relationship with boyfiend [sic]. Decides: No more Potter in bed. Granger’s eyes glaze. Millicent thwaps, but fondly. Mentions leather. Granger’s eyes glaze again.
***

“Granger,” said Millicent mildly, “kindly get Potter out of bed with us.” Hermione started and looked around for a moment before laughing a bit, nervously. Millicent looked at her more penetratingly. “You were thinking about Potter!” she accused.

“Well, not so much thinking about, really,” squeaked Hermione defensively. “More like, wondering. Idle curiosity, really. I mean, I was just thinking about him and Malfoy and my mind…drifted.”

Millicent grinned widely. “Remembering the leather pants incident from last year?”

Hermione said indignantly, “No!” But her eyes glazed over slightly, as if that had triggered the memory. “Although, that was a – was quite a display.” Millicent convulsed with laughter. Hermione swatted at her shoulder ineffectively, as she always did when she wasn’t really mad but felt that she should reprimand Millicent for the look of it.

“Remember – when – he tried – tried to get – up?” Millicent gasped out, and that did it for Hermione, who lost her sternness and collapsed in giggles herself. Who could forget that, after all? Malfoy had come to breakfast one Hogsmeade Saturday wearing a plain jumper – and tight leather pants. He strutted in, seeming to think that the pants were dead sexy, although Millicent couldn’t say for sure, not fancying boys. She wasn’t blind, though. The pants were indeed quite taut. So much so, in fact, that when Malfoy made to rise from the table, the pants protested and parted company at the seams. The rear seams.

That memory would hold a treasured place in the hearts of all present. Whether for aesthetic appreciation or for blackmail possibilities, Millicent wouldn’t venture a guess.

Millicent suddenly got a wicked idea of her own. “Granger?” she said suddenly, “what do you think about wearing leather?”

Hermione’s giggles ceased. When Millicent looked over her, her eyes were glazed again. They were focused on Millicent now though, so she definitely couldn’t complain.

No, no complaints here, Millicent smugly decided, as she pictured her girlfriend in leather.

End.