It was Friday and Hermione only had a Potions lesson left before lunch then she was finished for the weekend. She was looking forward to doing nothing but her homework and prefect duties for the rest of the weekend but if recent events were anything to go by then she wasn't sure if she would even get the peace or the time to study uninterrupted.
It was sixth year and so far things were going well, Hermione was throwing herself into her studies as much as possible, trying her best to ignore that the Dark Lord was on the rise and threatening their entire existence, wanting, for once in her life, to just be a normal teenager with normal teenage worries. It seemed she was getting what she wanted even if the normal teenage worries she had wanted so much did seem to revolve around Draco Malfoy, yes the son of a death eater, the arch enemy of her two best friends. The irony of it was not totally lost on her but right now she could talk more to him than the two boys who were supposed to be practically family to her. It didn't help that she and Ron had barely spoken a word to each other in weeks, he always seemed to have his tongue down Lavender Brown's throat these days, which wouldn't bother her so much if it wasn't so constant and shoved under her nose everywhere she turned. That, plus the fact that they actually looked like they were eating each others faces. It made her sick and distracted her from her work. So she'd go to her dorm but that was always filled with the other girls and Hermione really couldn't bare to listen to gossip any more than she could stand listening to Won-Won and Lavender kiss Merlin, did they have to do it so loudly?
The cherry on the cake was Harry hardly ever seemed to be around much, he was either playing quidditch, taking extra occlumency lessons, with Ginny or on the rare occasion he could be seen actually doing his homework. Of course she still sat with him at meal times if she attended. But trying to eat while Ron and Lavender were draped around one another making those godforsaken noises was nauseating so she tried to either get there after them or eat as quickly as she could and excuse herself declaring she had prefect duties to attend to. She knew Harry could see through her excuses but he didn't try to confront her about it. She thought he probably felt the same way.
It was this situation that lead to her and Malfoy having the strange relationship they had. Of course they were not friends, far from it, but they were not exactly enemies either, at least that's what she thought. It had all started one evening when once again Hermione had trouble concentrating on her homework, she was really going to lose marks if it continued and as it was after curfew the library was closed so she decided to go to the room of requirement. It was the only place in the castle she knew she would be alone and able to get on with her assignments. Except she hadn't been alone for long when Draco Malfoy turned up seemingly with the same idea she had had.
"Granger, what are you doing here?"
Hermione looked at her classmate in veiled shock, trying to understand how they were both able to use the room at the same time. "The same as you I imagine." She sighed as she saw his school bag slung over his shoulder, the bulges that so obviously from books being stuffed inside haphazardly.
"You're hiding in the room of requirement too?" He asked with a raised brow.
"I would rather put it as 'doing my homework in peace," she answered testily
"You're out past curfew," he had said as if it wasn't already completely obvious
"And I see I'm not the only one. Good job we're both prefects. Why are you here, Malfoy?" She asked wondering why they were managing to be halfway civil to one another though the boy in front of her looked more tired and drawn than any other she knew. Of course she knew why.
"I guess we both had the same idea. I needed to go somewhere quiet before my brain exploded." He muttered quietly.
Hermione looked at him through narrowed eyes and went back to her work where she was sat at a desk covered in books, parchment and quills and a fire lit on the wall to her left. The room resembled a small study, big enough for about maybe four people, lit with lanterns and candles, a large battered leather couch was on the back wall and a rug covered the hard cherrywood floor.
"How did I get in here if you're in here already?" He had asked her though it was clear it was already on her mind. They both had much experience with this room, her hiding in it with Dumbledore's Army and him trying to infiltrate it with the Inquisitorial Squad. It was only when the walls had been knocked through that the room had revealed itself to those not invited. It had repaired itself of course, that was one of the charms of the room.
"I guess it's because we both came here with clear intentions and were not here to bring harm to nor specifically hide from anyone. It's all I can think of," Hermione mused loudly and hopefully as she glanced at him.
"I guess that makes sense," he said obviously thinking about what her answer meant. "So what's going on in the Gryffindor common room that is rendering you unable to work there?" Small talk, he thought to himself. He was making small talk with her now? What was he going to do next, join her?
Hermione made a disgusted face just at the thought of what she knew what happening up in the Gryffindor tower.
"I take it the Weasel has something to do with it?" He said with a grin.
"What makes you think that?" She snapped back.
"Because the whole school has had to witness those two sucking faces for the past few weeks, it's disgusting and if it was going on in my common room I'd have had to leave too, or hex them."
"I've been pretty tempted to hex them." She admitted.
"I thought you two were supposed to be friends anyway? Why don't you just tell him he's putting the whole school off their food?" Draco asked.
"I've not even spoken to him in weeks. I think he's forgotten I even exist." Why was she even confiding this in him? She asked herself. What a bizarre night it was turning out to be.
"What about Potter?"
"He's around less than I am right now."
"Some great best friends you three are. What happened to the golden trio?"
"Hormones, it seems" She replied with a soft laugh. "Ron's always got himself glued to Lavender and Harry is with Ginny whenever he's not off doing whatever it is he's doing these days so I'm enjoying the peace for a few weeks. I could do with more quiet in my life anyway."
"What, no boyfriend?" He teased. He was asking her about her love-life now? Why?
"Hardly" She scoffed. "Well, I need to get back to this essay, I've got so much to do. You're welcome to stay if it keeps your brain from exploding." She said to him though more out of politeness than anything else so she was shocked when he put his bag on the other side of the desk and pulled out his own homework.
She thought back to that night three weeks ago, the night that started off all the secrecy and hiding. She didn't mind it. In fact it was partly her idea, it just wouldn't do if the occupants of the castle found out that Hermione Granger and Draco Malfoy were meeting up in a secret room after curfew and studying together late into the night, even if it was some of the most intellectually mind-blowing conversations either of them had engaged in for some time. It had fast become Hermione's favourite time of day when they met up each night. She found she was even spending more time there than the library these days, only using the library to check her books in and out since there always seemed to be hushed arguments and students who couldn't study in the proper manner.
Since it was Friday afternoon and the common room was about to start coming to life for the weekend she packed up her bag and headed for the door, she would go the the room of requirement after lunch. A much better idea than being around riled up teenagers all evening.
Hermione walked into the great hall and sat next to Ginny feeling very thankful that Ron had not arrived yet, she started to plate up her food and just enjoyed spending a few moments with her friend since it had been so long that they had had the chance.
"Hey Gin! how's fifth year going?"
"Awful! We've only been back six weeks and already I feel like I'm going to have a breakdown from all this homework. Did you know Professor Snape gave me a six foot essay yesterday on the qualities and uses for Draught of Peace, I'm half in a mind to brew it just to give myself some peace!" Ginny exclaimed.
"Six feet? What did you do to earn that much homework?" Hermione asked as she slathered butter on her bread roll.
"Well I didn't exactly do anything more than I said something." She replied with a grin.
"Ginny, you should know better than to talk back to professors." Hermione scolded.
"I didn't say anything to or about Snape, he just happened to be in the vicinity when I was talking to that idiot Crabbe. Anyway, it's okay my best friend got an O in her O.W.L's last year and I'm sure if I asked nicely she will help me if I need it." Ginny said with a quick wink and smile to Hermione.
"You're relentless, you know that? Fine, I'll help but only and I mean only, if you do your best then I will check it over for you and help where I can. Deal?"
"Deal." Ginny replied with a much brighter smile than before.
"Anyway, since when have I been your best friend Gin?"
"Errr since we met, obviously." The red-headed girl replied with a roll of her eyes.
"Okay, okay sorry, so other than this wonderful six foot essay you have what else are you doing this weekend?" Hermione asked.
"Well I have tons of homework to do, then a date with Harry tomorrow as it's a Hogsmeade weekend, then probably more homework on Sunday and some quidditch practice when our wondrous captain gets off his arse and lets the rest of the team know when the practice actually is. Staying as far away from Won-Won and Lav-Lav as possible and somewhere in all that I am going to find out where you go every night when you think no one has noticed. What about you?" Ginny answered with a smirk that made her look like the cat that got the cream.
"What do you mean?" Hermione's heart was hammering in her chest but she ignored it as she tried to play dumb. Not a good look for her she had to admit.
"Oh come on 'Mione, the boys may not have noticed because you know, they're boys, but don't think I've not noticed that you disappear every night until well after curfew. Last night you only came in after 3am and don't even tell me that's because you're in the library or being a prefect because I'm a prefect and I know the library shuts before curfew." Ginny said looking pointedly at Hermione clearly giving her no choice but to answer.
"This is why most of my friends are male," Hermione muttered back.
"Come on, tell me, you know I won't stop until you do and I'll even follow you if I have to." Ginny said all sing-song like.
Hermione sighed in obvious defeat. She knew she'd lost this one but it would also be good to have someone to talk to about it. Whatever it is.
"Okay but you have to promise not to tell anyone. I mean it promise me. No one can know, especially not Harry and Ron"
"I swear on Godric 'Mione, I won't tell a soul. Is everything okay?"
"Everything is fine." Hermione reassured.
"Well then tell me!" Ginny exclaimed.
"I go to the room of requirement to get away from the common room, it's not exactly the best place to get work done these days with the Ron and Lavender show that's on repeat. It's a wonder how any Gryffindor's are getting any work done outside of class, I dread to think how much Ron's work is suffering!"
"Okay so every night you go, alone, to the room of requirement and do homework until the sun is practically up? That's your big secret that I can't tell? I have to say I am a bit disappointed."
"I never said I went alone," HErmione muttered, feeling her face flood of colour.
Ginny's eyes narrowed. "You always leave alone and come back alone."
"Okay well I guess I do go alone but I'm not there alone." Hermione admitted.
"So you meet up with someone while you're there? Who the hell can you be meeting up with that needs to be such a secret?" Ginny's interest clearly becoming too much for her.
"Draco Malfoy." Hermione replied resignedly as she tried to look at anywhere but the Slytherin table.
There was silence for a few moments while Ginny recovered the ability to speak.
"Draco Malfoy? Really?"
"Yeah, it was just a coincidence the first time it happened. I went there like I usually do and he turned up while I was doing my homework"
"And that was that he just stayed?"
"Well no, I guess we talked a bit first, you know the way we usually do. He asked why I was there and out after curfew, I asked back. A few smart remarks here and a smirk there and he decided to stay. We did our work in silence that night. I went again the next night and he turned up again. For the first week or so we just sat in silence doing our work then one night he got really worked up over something in the Runes book he was working from so I had a look at it for him and helped him with it. After that we helped each other and end up in discussions about Runes or Charms, basically whatever we are working on. He's actually really intelligent and a good study partner to have." Hermione admitted, biting her lip, waiting for her friends reaction.
"And these discussions last until 3am?"
"I guess they do."
Ginny narrowed her eyes just slightly."He's not being a prat is he? I mean everything is okay?"
"Ginny, he's Malfoy, of course he is being a prat but I can handle myself. Anyway I've already warned him I knew the ferret trick, just in case." Hermione replied mischievously.
"Oh you're so bad 'Mione!"
"Where do you think the boys learnt it all?"
Ginny just laughed at her friend and moved on to her chocolate ice cream.
"So what are you doing this weekend then? More studying with the ferret?"
"I guess so. I'm heading there after here just to get some peace. I'm not sure I'll be going to Hogsmeade though. I don't fancy going alone and you're going with Harry, Ron will be with Lavender although it's not like he's even spoken a word to me in weeks anyway so he wouldn't even notice."
"Come with us."
"I am not coming on your date with you Gin, thanks for the offer but I don't feel much like being the third wheel."
"Oh come on, it wouldn't be like that!"
"It would be exactly like that but it's okay. I have loads of work to do anyway and I don't really need extra supplies, we only started the school year a few weeks ago I'm not about to run out any time soon."
"Positive" Hermione smiled to her friend.
"Sure about what?" Harry asked as he sat across from both girls
"Nothing really, I just decided to stay in the castle this weekend. Catch up on my homework. I'll let you two love birds make the most of the freedom though whilst I make the most of the quiet common room for once. Anyway, I'm going to enjoy the rest of the afternoon with a book, see you later." She said as she stood from the table and picked up her bag.
"Bye," Harry and Ginny replied in unison as she started to walk back towards the entrance of the great hall where she walked right past Ron and Lavender and immediately headed in the direction of the room of requirement.