Chapter Two

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Ignore him, Hermione, ignore him. . . .

Harry and Ron tried, she knew that they did. She was grateful for it, for having friends who cared enough to take time out of their evening to care about her. But those friends couldn't stop those cold, grey eyes from glaring at her from the Slytherin table.

He had been waiting for her. She was convinced. He wanted to give her that same look that he gave her earlier to make her feel worse. Why should he care? He was nothing but a heartless, cruel —

"Hermione?" Harry whispered, quickly snapping her out of her once-again rambling thoughts. He raised his eyebrows curiously.

"I just don't like the view at all." She shook her head and mindlessly moved a few peas around on her plate with her fork.

Having gotten to dinner later than most of the students, she, Harry, and Ron were forced to sit wherever they could find space. Tonight, for her, that was right across from Malfoy at the Slytherin table.

Ron narrowed his eyes at her. "You could try to stop looking, you know. . . ."

"Gee, Ron, why didn't I think of that?" she snapped. She hung her head down and sighed. "I — I'm sorry, Ron. I didn't mean to lash out at you like that…I'm just a bit frustrated."

"What are you frustrated about?" asked Harry, who was now grabbing a dinner roll.

"We have a lot on our plates, don't we?" She sighed exasperatedly. "I mean, what with O.W.L.'s coming up, not to mention prefect duties . . ." She glanced at Ron. "We have night shift tonight."

Ron looked at her over his glass of pumpkin juice. He set it down gently and raised his eyebrows. "Who with?" She nodded in the direction of the Slytherin table. "Malfoy and Pansy?"

She nodded again. "They won't be that close, though…they're positioned closer to the dungeon…you know, patrolling around the Slytherin common room. Shouldn't be a problem," she said, taking a bite of food. Her eyes met Ron's confused glare. "I'm not exactly happy about it, obviously. I'm just trying to look on the bright side. . . ." She caught Malfoy's eye; he shifted his glance to Crabbe, who was seated beside him, and muttered something to him. Looking a few students down from where Malfoy was seated, she noticed a pretty girl, with long brunette hair, blue eyes, and a lightly tanned complexion sitting at the Slytherin table. She didn't appear to be too much like the other students; while the others were all loudly discussing classes, Quidditch, and other students, she was quietly reading a book. Looking up, she caught Hermione's eye and quickly looked down.

Hermione leaned across the table to be quieter. "Do you know that girl over there?" she whispered. "The one about five seats down from Malfoy?"

Ron turned around. "Oh, yeah ― that's Charlotte Butler. She's in our Divination class. You've seen her before, haven't you?"

"No ― I guess I never really noticed her before…"

He smiled amusedly. "She's a bit of an odd one, as far as Slytherins go. Most people say she'd be a great Ravenclaw. . . . She's one of the top students in the school," he said, laughing lightly at Hermione's shocked impression, "but not surpassing you, of course."

Hermione gave an appreciative smile. "Thank you, Ron." She looked over at the clock on the wall and began to stand up. "Well, we better head towards the corridors . . . don't want any wanderers, you know." She turned to Harry and waved. "Bye, Harry."

"See you," he replied, with a forced smile.

She and Ron walked out of the Great Hall towards the main corridors, staying a couple of feet away from each other as they traveled. Hermione noticed out of the corner of her eye that Malfoy and Pansy had also gotten up and were probably heading towards the corridors near the dungeon.

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