Chapter Five

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"I bet you think you're hot stuff, don't you, Granger?"

Hermione hadn't been outside during her break time for five minutes when Pansy approached her. She closed her book and set it to her side on the bench.

"I don't know what you mean, Pansy," said Hermione. "Please elaborate on what a slut you think I am, because I know it's coming."

For days Pansy hadn't seemed like herself. Well, she did, but just a bit more spiteful towards Hermione . . . if that was even possible. Having been paired for patrol duties with Ernie MacMillan, Hermione didn't exactly expect her to take it well, especially when Hermione was paired with what Pansy considered her "boyfriend," an association Hermione found nearly comical, but still sad, after what Malfoy had told her.

"You know what I mean," snarled Pansy. "And you are a slut, you're right . . . but what have you done to Draco?"

Hermione blinked. "Again, Pansy, I don't know what you're talking about."

Pansy's eye twitched slightly. "I'm not stupid, Granger. Neither are you, 'cleverest witch of our age.' We both know you've messed him up badly."

Hermione heaved a great sigh, slipped her book into her bag, and stood up to face Pansy. "Look, I don't know if something's wrong with Malfoy. All I know is that he's seemed sick since Monday morning. He's probably just not feeling well."

"How would you know he was sick Monday morning?" asked Pansy, placing her hands on her hips.

"I happened to glance over at the Slytherin table in a casual, non-awkward, normal way to see if anyone else wasn't feeling well," said Hermione. "I wasn't feeling great that morning, either, so I just glanced over to see if anyone who was on patrol duty was sick, because Ron seemed fine." She analyzed the angry expression on Pansy's face and shrugged. "Curiosity isn't a sin, Pansy."

Pansy rolled her eyes. "I get that. I just wanted to know if you maybe knew why he wasn't feeling well." She looked around, as if to check for other students who might've been eavesdropping. When she saw that no one was listening, she sighed and looked down. "He's hardly talked to any of us these past few days, and I wasn't sure if you had something to do with it." She now looked back up at Hermione, glaring. "I thought maybe you'd upset him or something."

"As much as I wish that I was always responsible for Malfoy's terrible moods," said Hermione, "I didn't do anything to him. Really, I could care less about him, so don't worry about me taking him from you. I didn't hurt his feelings because, again, we didn't speak at all on our last shift."

"You didn't have to speak," said Pansy. "I bet you came onto him, didn't you ― ?"

"For the last time, Pansy, I don't care about Malfoy!" said Hermione, with a raised voice. "He's your idiot of a boyfriend and you're his pathetic, tag-along girlfriend. Are we clear? To be honest, I don't think that anyone in their right mind would come onto someone like Malfoy. . . . You really need to refine your tastes, Pansy."

Pansy scowled. "Draco's worlds better than your blood-traitor, Muggle-loving boyfriend."

"He isn't my boyfriend," said Hermione, "because I, unlike you, don't need constant validation from a member of the opposite sex that I'm not stupid and desperate."

Hermione stormed past Pansy, preventing her from saying another word or objection. Pansy had been acting like this ever since Malfoy wasn't well, but Hermione never had to talk to Pansy about it. . . . She was snapped out of her thoughts by the sight of Harry and Ron coming towards her, looking a bit exasperated.

"Sorry," said Ron, once he reached her, "but we got stuck talking to some Slytherins back there..."

Hermione glanced over at the congregation of Slytherins, which Pansy had now joined, flashing their silver badges and singing a chorus of "Weasley is Our King."

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