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Signum Vitalis

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Hermione stirred her tea in its styrofoam cup and wished she was actually interested in its contents. Around her, her American classmates had begun to form huddled groups, chatting and laughing over their steaming coffee cups. She was reminded of her first year and fought down the urge to pull one of the textbooks from her book-bag and start reading.

She scanned the break room, trying to find a familiar face. The school was completely different from Hogwarts, filled with metal chairs and several distinctly muggle-looking contraptions along the walls. It was too sleek and modern, just like the students. At least half of them weren't wearing robes, and most of those who wore 'robes' would still have easily blended in with the muggles outside. Near one of the doors, she spotted a short girl with red hair, similar to Ginny's, wearing a brilliant color of green robes. After a deep breath, she edged from her corner towards the girl, weaving around the other students.

Once she reached the girl's side, Hermione realized that the girl had little resemblance to Ginny besides her hair color. This girl wore a noticeable amount of makeup and was whispering snarkily behind her hand to a short-haired girl across from her. Hermione swallowed, searching around for a different reason to be there, but the red-haired girl looked over and raised an eyebrow.

"Er, Hi!" Hermione tried to say brightly. "My name is Hermione Granger, how about you?"

The red-haired girl glanced from Hermione's shoes up to her hair, "Hermione Granger? Weren't you always in that London paper… The Seer was it?"

"The Prophet, yes, I was occasionally. Though-"

"Caught up in the middle of that nasty pureblood business weren't you?"

"Er… I'm a muggle-born who fought with many others against Voldemort to protect the lives and magical rights of all witches and wizards." Hermione responded, trying to keep the terseness out of her voice. "I'm sorry, what did you say your name was?"

"Shandra," the girl responded, flipping her hair over her shoulder and staring Hermione down with her brown eyes.

"Nice to meet you," Hermione said as genuinely as she could. "How about you?" Hermione turned to the short-haired girl.

"Lorraine," the girl said with a large smile. "Kinda cool to be meeting a magical celebrity like you, Hermione. What was it like, fighting in a war with magic?"

Hermione bit her lip and swallowed. "Probably very similar to one without magic." She had to get out of there before these girls said something to trigger her flashbacks. She could already feel the sweat at the back of her neck. "Excuse me, I need to-" she trailed off when nothing good came to mind. She turned away, looking for a large group to duck behind before things could get worse. Instead, she nearly spilled her tea all over a boy's front.

"I'm so sorry!" Hermione stepped backwards and fought the burn in her cheeks and eyes. She quickly whipped out her wand to remove a few tea droplets on herself with a quick 'tergeo' and examined the boys sweater vest as well. "I don't think I got anything on you…" she trailed off as she recognized the green and silver stripes along the sweater's neck. Her breath stopped, and inevitably her eyes trailed up to meet unmistakably grey ones. Her hand had already changed positions on her wand before she formed a complete thought. Adrenaline beat against her temples, and her vision narrowed so she could make out his eye's dark blue outline and the gold specks around his pupils.

"Granger." His voice had gotten deeper, or maybe she could only remember it from when he still had his high boy's voice.

"...Malfoy?" she was still bracing herself for… a curse? a taunt? She wasn't sure. The adrenaline was still pumping and she had already identified the closest exit and the best spell to throw in a crowded place.

"What are the chances of meeting an old schoolmate here of all places?"

"Yes," she replied a bit numbly. "What are you doing here Malfoy?"

"I thought someone with a supposedly brilliant mind like you would be able to deduce that easily," Malfoy sneered, and even with his deeper voice and mature face, he sounded like the old Malfoy. The one she had slapped after he insulted Hagrid.

"I meant in New York, Malfoy," she answered in her prefect tone saved for snogging tossers who pretended they didn't know they were out past curfew.

Malfoy leered over her and said condescendingly, "I'll take pity on you, since it seems your hair finally grew enough to take over you brain, I'm going to Healer's School."

Hermione gritted her teeth. Ignoring how much she wanted to bite out a sharp reply to his insult, she smiled tightly, "Well, good luck." She turned back to the lesser evils, but Shandra and Lorraine were both looking over her shoulder.

"Hermione, please introduce us to your friend!" Lorraine smiled her large smile full of beautiful teeth. Shandra batted her eyes at Malfoy and didn't bother looking at Hermione at all.

Hermione winced, "Girls, this is Draco Malfoy, we went to school together. I'm sure he'd be better at introducing himself beyond that." She moved away from the group, hoping that she had just hit three birds with the same stone.

"Aw, Hermione, I think it would be much more entertaining coming from you," Malfoy caught the wrist of her wand hand.

Hermione froze and then turned to glare at him. "We are not friends, as you well know. Do not address me informally and remove your hand immediately," she hissed. She glanced over to Shandra and Lorraine who were watching the exchange with fascination.

Instead of answering, Malfoy was looking past her, "is that tea, Granger?"

Hermione registered the cup of tea in her other hand.

"Breakfast tea?" he asked.

"Let me go, Malfoy."

Surprisingly, he did.

"Where is the tea? I can't drink coffee," he scanned the room behind her.

"What, didn't bring your own special pureblood blend with you?" Hermione asked sarcastically as she backed out of reach.

"Shut it, Granger," Malfoy said fiercely, backing her against another group of students. "Don't mention that I'm a pureblood around here," he leaned down to breath the last part angrily into her ear.

"What?" Hermione asked.

Right behind Malfoy, an older man in healer's robes cleared his throat and Malfoy froze.

Hey Guys this is my Author's Note.

I've read quite a few fanfics but I'm rather new at actually writing one! I would REALLY appreciate any feedback on anything about this- really. House points and eternal gratitude to anyone who is so kind as to review!