**Disclaimer: I own nothing; everything belongs to the wonderful J. K. Rowling.
***Okay, this is not a sequel to my R/H fic, or an alternate ending. This is a D/H fic. If you don't like D/H fics then don't read this. I happen to believe that Ron and Hermione are meant for each other; however, it is amusing to entertain other options. Harry and Ron don't play a very large part in this fic either, Hermione and Draco are the main characters, everything is from their point of view. So you have been warned... ;-) It also takes a long time to get to the romance part because you can't just stick Draco and Hermione together and expect them to fall madly in love right away. They need time, but I swear this fic will get there eventually. So with this being said.......
Chapter 1: Seating Arrangements
"Good morning class, I hope that you all had a nice summer," Professor Vector smiled widely at her students. "As you can see our class is a little larger this year when compared to previous years. For some reason, there isn't a very high demand for Arithmancy among most of your classmates. I have no idea why," she grinned wryly at her class. "But since the numbers were so low, Headmaster Dumbledore has decided to combine all the houses together to have their Arithmancy lesson at the same time."
Hermione sat at the front table smiling at Professor Vector, next to her sat Dean Thomas, they had worked together for the last two years. For the first time, Hermione actually noticed that the class was larger than it had been before, not much larger though. Dean and her were the only fifth year Gryffindors taking Arithmancy, they'd had it last year and the year before with the Ravenclaws while Hufflepuff and Slytherin were together on a separate day. But now that she looked around the classroom she was surprised to see Hannah Abbot and Justin Finch-Fletchely, two Hufflepuffs. She could also see Blaise Zambini, a Slytherin, out of the corner of her eye. Hermione had to admit that it was still a small class. She turned her attention back to the Professor who was still talking.
"I believe that you have all fallen into a rut of conformity and tradition. You all sit together, ready to work with the exact same people, your books are out and prepared, you even sit in the same seats as last year. You are young! You must seize life, you must experience new things, and I'm about to help you do it." She smiled at them again, ignoring their shocked faces.
Hermione turned to Dean with an eyebrow raised; this wasn't the Professor Vector that she knew. This wasn't the same quiet; shy Professor that they'd had in previous years. What Hermione didn't know was that over the summer Professor Vector had experienced a little unpleasantness with a banshee. She returned to Hogwarts a changed woman longing for adventure, and she had decided to help her students experience life to it's fullest, whether they wanted to or not.
"With this being said, I've decided to change some things around here. First off, all of your work will be done in pairs. We won't be using the books nearly as much as we have before. Arithmancy is a delightful and complicated magic, but you need to put it to use. So we will be having a more hands on year. I'm sure that we will all have fun." Professor Vector grinned triumphantly at their doubting faces.
"Oh yes, one more thing, I'm assigning you new partners." Hannah and Justin looked petrified around the room, they were the only Hufflepuffs there, and they also happened to be a couple. Professor Vector saw their distraught faces and laughed.
"Now, now Justin, Hannah, it won't harm either of you to spend a few hours apart." But from the looks on their faces, Hermione could tell that they greatly doubted this. "I've already broken you up into pairs that I believe will suit you all nicely." And with this the Professor pulled a list out of her book and started to read the new groupings.
"Ms. Abbot and Mr. Boot"
"Mr. Finch-Fletchley and Ms Perks"
"Mr. Thomas and Ms. Broklehurst"
Hermione sighed as Dean stood up and collected his things. He smiled at her before walking over to where Mandy Broklehurst, a Ravenclaw, was sitting. Hermione was sad to see him go, Dean was surprisingly good at Arithmancy, and they had worked very well together. She suddenly realized that almost everyone else had been paired up, had she missed her name?
"Oh yes, Ms. Granger and Mr. Malfoy." Professor Vector folded up her list and turned to put it away.
Hermione choked, Malfoy? "But Malfoy isn't even in this class, is he?" She wondered to herself. A sickening feeling was rising up inside of her, "He's not in this class, I heard wrong, he's not in this class," she repeated to herself. Slowly she turned around in her seat and sure enough, sitting in the last row was Draco Malfoy, glaring at her.
"Pr...Professor Vector?" She called out in a shaky voice, Professor Vector turned to look at her, "Professor, I don't think that Malfoy and I can work together." The Professor raised her eyebrows in amazement; Hermione never questioned a teacher.
"It's just that...that our views are so often...opposing." Hermione continued trying to give the professor a charming smile while that nauseous feeling swirled in her stomach.
"Nonsense Ms. Granger, my two best Arithmancy students paired together, I can't wait to see what the two of you can do. And besides, opposites attract." Hermione blanched at her teacher's words. She couldn't believe her luck, her favorite class. She turned and looked over her shoulder at Malfoy, he was giving her a dark look. Finally he spoke.
"Well," he drawled out, "I'm not coming to you Granger." Hermione sent him a cold glare before she started to gather her books. As she walked towards the back of the room Dean caught her eye and gave her a commiserating smile.
"Yeah, like he has any idea," grumbled Hermione, "he gets to work with a Ravenclaw, I have to work with a Slytherin, and not just any Slytherin." She thought angrily as she reached the table where Malfoy was sitting. With a deep sigh she placed her books as far from Malfoy as possibly. She pulled out a quill and started to diligently take notes. After a few minutes she was able to forget that she was sitting next to her most hated adversary, that is, until a strong breeze from the open window blew a roll of parchment across the table coming to rest against Malfoy's arm. Not paying any attention, Hermione reached out for it, accidentally brushing Malfoy with her fingertips as she took back the parchment.
"Don't, touch me Mudblood," Malfoy hissed at her, moving farther down the table from her. Hermione looked up startled, with extreme dislike she glared at him.
"Malfoy, the day that I willingly touch you is the day that you can stick a bow on my head and ship me off to Voldemort to become a Death Eater." She snapped at him angrily, putting the misbehaving parchment back into her bag.
Draco was oddly impressed, not many people were brave enough to say the Dark Lord's name, he was sure that his father never said it if at all possible. He returned to his notes, his were almost as neat and orderly as Hermione's. Draco was beginning to get bored though; Professor Vector was now explaining something to that stupid Hufflepuff girl, something that Draco had figured out ages ago. Turning to look at Granger, he noticed that she too wasn't listening. "No time like the present to wreck some havoc," he thought with an evil grin.
"So Granger, where are Potty and the Weasel?" Hermione didn't look up. "I wouldn't think that you'd be able to stand being separated from your boyfriend for a whole class period. Which one is it again? Or do they just trade you amongst themselves?" Draco was pleased to see that Hermione was starting to flush with anger. "Not that it's your fault, you might be a dirty Mudblood, but I can understand how neither Potty or the Weasel would be enough of a man for any girl, if you can call yourself a gi..."
Before Malfoy could finish his sentence, Hermione had taken her Arithmancy book, which was four times larger than any of their other books, and soundly hit him in the shoulder with it. She hit him hard enough that Malfoy, who had certainly not expected an attack, was knocked right out of his chair.
"Ms. Granger!" Professor Vector was staring at her, the book still clenched in her hands daring Malfoy to keep talking. Hermione was suddenly aware of all eyes upon her.
"Umm...Professor, I'm so sorry, I slipped." Hermione started to count to ten under her breath as she put the book back down on the desk. Malfoy stood up, still rubbing his shoulder, and warily sat in his chair.
"Yes, well we'll try to avoid that in the future. Right Ms. Granger?" Professor Vector asked.
"Of course Professor, of course." Hermione gave her a sweet smile and tried to look innocent and turned once again to her notes. She kept her head down afraid that Professor Vector might notice the triumphant smile on her face. Dean certainly had, he turned and gave her a thumbs-up when Vector was looking away.
Hermione and Malfoy sat silently for the rest of the class, pointedly ignoring each other, although Malfoy did keep a wary eye on her. Professor Vector passed out a few Arithmancy chart for their homework. Hermione was surprised, they were more detailed than any previous chart that she had done before, and it was also much longer.
"Now don't be concerned class, I know this looks a little long, but you're supposed to be working with your partner now. I expect you to do this work together." Vector smiled at Hermione, obviously oblivious to the look of absolute disbelief that she was wearing.
"How can she possibly expect me to work with that...that self-centered, egotistical, malicious, evil..." Hermione probably would have continued muttering expletives at Malfoy under her breath if he hadn't reached over and plucked the chart out of her hands. "Hey, give that back, that's my homework!" She reached out angrily for it.
"It's my homework to you know," he snapped at her, "just let me do it."
"Oh of course Malfoy, I'm going to entrust my grade to the likes of you! Give it to me, I'll do it!" Hermione again lunged forward and tried to pluck the parchments from his hands.
"Yes, I'm dying to let my excellent grade rest in your ever so caring hands. There is no way that I'm going to let you do this." Malfoy stepped back dodging her hands as she grabbed for the charts.
"Fine, we'll have to do it together then." She muttered.
"Fine, we'll meet in the library," Malfoy agreed finally, spitting the words out as if they hurt him.
"Fine, seven o'clock tonight." Hermione spat back, and then seeing her opportunity, swept for forward and snatched several of the charts back out of his hands. "And I'll just keep these with me until then." And before he could even react she had plunged them deep into her bag and slipped down out into the corridor to be lost amid the bustle of the students.