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Harry glanced at his watch and muttered a curse. [b "He's right, we're going to be late unless we do this right now. We'll see you after rounds!"] he grabbed Hermione's hand and bid Ron farewell.
He could feel prying eyes of other students and was intently aware of the fact that he was holding her hand quite firmly. Rumors were definitely going to come of it, but with the urgency of the situation, Harry couldn't bring himself to care very much.
[b "Did you ever think in your wildest dreams that we'd willingly go to the twins for help with anything?"] he glanced over at his closest friend with a slight grin.
To be perfectly honest, there wasn't much that Harry would rely on the twins for other than pure entertainment and loyalty. Advice would likely get him into danger, and their school knowledge was at best mediocre. Still, at that moment he couldn't think of anyone else he'd rather go to for help.
When they finally track them down, Harry isn't exactly surprised that they're huddled over a piece of parchment and arguing quietly among themselves over which ingredients would be appropriate. [b "Guys,"] Harry came to a stop in front of them.
As always, they looked up at the same time with a mischievous grin. [i "Well well well, what's this we have here?"] Fred taunted, gesturing with the quill to their hands still clutched together.
Harry sputtered and let go, crossing his arms over his chest. [b "We're not here for jokes. We're here for help."] He glanced around before kneeling a few steps below where the twins were sitting. [b "We need to spy on Umbridge."]
The girl's eyes had been on the floor. She could not believe the way the year was shaping up and it was only their second day. Everyone seemed to be against the other and they had a pink beast running about. Could the year get any worse? And as that thought crossed her mind, the girl jumped faintly as that was when he hand had gently been gripped by Harry to get her attention.
It took her a second to take in everything and piece together what had been said. Usually she was not about breaking the rules, but again the situation seemed to call for it. With a timid smile she nodded, cheeks faintly dusted in a brighter pink than normal as Harry's hand still had hers in it.
[b "Yeah, that sounds like a good plan. It doesn't seem like we have the choice and knowing will help us stay ahead of her. I can't believe how this year is already starting out."] The girl said quietly.
Ron coughed faintly and was looking at their hands. But his attention was soon on them fully. [i "If you don't want to be late to class and still want to talk to Fred and George the time to do that would be now."] Their redhaired friend said with a pointed look.
Harry watched Umbridge go in one direction, and McGonnagal in the other. In the five years they'd been at the school, he'd never seen their head of house look so agitated, including when Malfoy had been transformed into a ferret the previous year. [b "I think we're going to need the twins' help with this one."]
Turning to his friends, he saw Ron's eyebrow raised. [b "Think about it! They have those gadgets they've been working on. The spy ears, and all that. If we can plant something in her office to keep tabs on her plans, we may be able to have the upper hand against her."]
Ron scratched at the back of his head. [i "I mean, I guess you've got a good point. Wouldn't hurt to know what the beast has up her sleeve. The less advantage she has, the better prepared we'll be."]
Harry looked to Hermione and reached for her hand to get her attention. [b "What do you think? You and I can talk to the twins while Ron does his rounds. Then the two of you can keep a look out while I sneak into her office to hide the stuff after dark. I'll use my cloak. Does it sound like a plan?"]
Hermione poked her head around the corner to watch their head of house and the pink gargoyle as the two were in the center of the hall. She couldn't help the sinking feeling in her stomach as each word left Umbridge's lips. Just that twinkle in the woman's eyes as she spoke and her never wavering confidence was enough to shake anyone. Or nearly anyone, but to her surprise McGonagall did not back down.
[i "So Cornelius is aware that you torture students with midieval methods and has approved them?"] The head of Gryffindor shot at the woman in pink before her. She was still angered by what she had been told and now more than ever saw one Dolores Jane Umbridge a threat to her students and her fellow collegues.
Umbridge simply gave her sweet as candy smile and gave a shrug. [i "I can assure you he knows how I do my discipline and has given me free reign to do as I see fit."] She said and then looked to the students who had gathered in the hall to watch them. Slowly the woman in pink stepped back onto the steps behind her. [i "Things here are Hogwarts are much worse than I had originally thought and Ministry action will be taken immediately."] With that, the woman turned and made her leave, leaving a shocked McGonagall and students in her wake.
Hermione groaned as she turned back around the corner and looked to both Harry and Ron. [b "This year just got worse. We have to find out what she is up to. From her words and how scared the professors seem aside from McGonagall it can't be good."] The bushy haired brunette said, quietly with determination.
[b "Think of it as broadening your horizons,"] he smiled at her.
Ron nodded. [i "We both attempted reading for fun last year, just because you asked. It didn't last long, but at least we tried it! You can't say 'no' to these faces can you?"]
Both boys began pouting at her, but she was looking past them to the teachers. Harry's smile vanished and he turned to follow her gaze. [b "This won't be good,"] he got to his feet with her, scrambling with Ron to keep pace with their friend.
Harry caught sight of McGonnagal and Umbridge up ahead and reached forward to grab Hermione's cloak and pull her with them around the corner to stay out of sight. [b "Just listen,"] he murmured in her ear.
If there was anything to say about Minerva McGonnagal, it's that she was not known to be quiet when angered. [i "I don't know who you think you are, or what kind of corporal punishment you think you can inflict on my students, but I assure you that it will not be tolerated. I have heard several concerns about your wicked idea of detention. You will cease this at once,"] Minerva stood taller than the pink woman, and held her head high.
Umbridge's smile didn't once waver. [i "And I assure you, Minerva, that my methods are Ministry approved. It is quite clear what my job is here, and I am to complete my job by any means necessary. Tell me, would you be this upset if it were a Ravenclaw or Slytherin student who were on the receiving end of my detention? Or are you upset that I have disciplined two of your own?"]
[i "She's mental,"] Ron muttered to Harry.
Minerva looked ready to spit fire. [i "My duty is to protect these students. All of them. Against anyone I deem a threat. You, ma'am, are a threat."]
Umbridge clicked her tongue. [i "I am not the villain here. I am merely trying to restore order to this school. And if you feel that you can interfere with my goal, then I will have to include that in my report back to Minister Fudge."]
Brown eyes were on the table and the plate that Harry had put food on for her. The girl had just realized the seriousness of what was to come. If they were right about Umbridge she still had more power than McGongall and she almost felt they sent their head of house into a den of lions. Her mind was racing and her stomach was in knots over her thoughts.
But she was called out of her thoughts when she felt the gentle nudge. It actually made her jump slightly and let out a squeak as she had been so far lost to her mind. With the snicker from Ron, Hermione shot the boy one of her death glares. She then looked to Harry, slightly plae. [b "You're really trying to kill me, aren't you?"] The girl asked, thinking of her fear of flying when it came to anyhing nonmuggle related.
She was about to try and wiggle out of Quidditch, but then froze when she heard the clatter of plates up at the teacher's table. It seemed that their head of house had found her victim and was like a lioness hunting her prey. The woman said something that could not be heard but the bushy haired girl took as being "Dolores a word?" Because the pink nightmare was soon on her feet and following Professor McGonagall. Hermione was soon on her feet. [b "I have the feeling this won't end well."] She whispered to Harry and Ron before she made her way after their two professors more than anxious to see what would happen.
Harry was in stunned silence as they left the room. He'd never been afraid of McGonnagal before. Sure, he respected her position of authority and toed the line, but he'd never feared that she would hurt someone. Then again, Umbridge deserved whatever storm was heading her way.
His brow furrowed. [b "To be perfectly honest, I think we're going to be in much bigger trouble once Umbridge figures out it was us who told McGonnagal what happened. We're the only two who had these,"] he held out his hand. [b "It won't take her long to figure out who the informants are."]
He tried to put on a brave face. [b "At least with our head of house knowing what's going on, McGonnagal will be on the lookout for anything out of the ordinary happening with Umbridge."]
Ron must have been waiting for their arrival, because as soon as they walked through the doors, he was waving them over to the table. [i "What the bloody hell was that all about?"] he looked concerned.
Harry rubbed at his forehead absentmindedly and reached for the coffee with his free hand. [b "Something tells me we're not going to get the quiet year we were hoping for. I believe the head of Gryffindor is about to wage war on our new professor."]
The boys glanced to the teachers' table where Umbridge sat blissfully unaware of the animagous currently hunting for her. [i "God, I'd love to see that,"] Ron sighed.
Harry scooped some food onto his and Hermione's plates. [b "We just might. When have you ever know Professor McGonnagal to not be dramatic about things? She enjoys instilling a sense of fear in people. It's why she's such a good teacher."]
He leaned sideways slightly to bump Hermione's shoulder. [b "Better eat up. I believe we have Quidditch practice today,"] he smirked at her.
It was curious to see how quickly their head of house's demeanor had changed. No longer did she seem upset with them, but beyond angry with Professor Umbridge. The woman also seemed to have a fire and intensity that the girl had never seen before
The changes in her went from simply a teacher to that of a protective mother about to defend her children. How very strange, but it also gave the girl a new warmth and appreciation for Minerva McGonagall.
Very slowly did the girl lift her own still wrapped hand and undo the tightly tied bow. Her own words as Harry's had been were still red and ingrained but not the sweltering red they had been. Some of the swelling had gone down as well. And just had happened before, the woman's eyes seemed to darken and more of a fire could be seen in her piercing gaze.
[i "That will be all you two. Now you may go back to the Great Hall and have some breakfast with the rest of the students. I will be having some words with Dolores."] Her voice was calm but her eyes were a raging storm of emotions.
Quickly Hermione stood and took Harry's hand. With McGongall's current mood there were no questions to be asked and she gently dragged the boy with her. [b "I've never seen her like that...but...at least if someone can do something about that gargoyle Professor McGonagall can. Though I thought that would have gone a lot worse..."] She whispered as they were getting closer to the Great Hall and other students who were rushing because clearly they had overslept.
[b "Harry...what are your thoughts on what just happened?"] Truly she was curious and wanted to know.
Harry was quick to jump in and agree. [b "It's true, Professor. The woman is clinically insane. She doesn't want us to learn anything even remotely about defending ourselves against Voldemort and his army."]
McGonngal repeated her question. [i "I have been informed that there is a questionable punishment method being used, and I'd like to understand what it is."]
He hesitated, looking briefly to his companion before pulling at the tie on his bandage. The skin was still puckered where the words had been carved, but was no longer the angry red that it had been the previous night. He held it out to their professor, who took his hand in hers to examine it closer.
Harry hadn't thought it was possible, but McGonnagal's jaw tensed even further as she ghosted a finger over the words, as if to test if they were real. When she looked to them again, her eyes flashed with a protectiveness that Harry hadn't seen before. [b "Professor?"] he quietly tried to draw her attention.
[i "I assure both of you that I will be speaking to Dolores about this barbaric form of punishment immediately. And the next time she attempts something like this, you are to inform me straight away. Do I make myself clear?"] she looked at them over her glasses. [i "Miss Granger, might I see your wound as well? I'll need my temper has fueled as it can get."]
[b "No...I am sure no one saw us last night but Ron and Hannah...So I don't think that is what this about. For once we haven't done anything yet."] The girl whispered in response to Harry. But she almost immediately regretted it when their head of house said they would discuss it all in her office. Like Harry, Hermione had forgotten just how sharp McGonagall's senses truly were and could not help stiffening. Almost did she want to grip the boy's hand but refrained from doing. After all more suspicions were the last thing they needed.
As soon as they were let into her office and sat before her, Hermione instantly bowed her head and felt like a child under scruitiny. She hated being in trouble and feeling like she let someone she respected as much as the Gryffindor head of House down. [b "We...honestly Professor didn't meant it. Professor Snape seemed in a bad mood and I said something I shouldn't and so Harry defended me on it...and then Profeasor Umbridge...we were looking through the course book and realized it doesn't teach us anything. I had just mentioned that and Harry mentioned last year. She called him a liar for it...and then because we didn't agree with her methods had called us for detentions last night."] All the words were said quickly and quietly. They sounded more whimpered than she had meant them to be but then there was that child-like hating trouble air about her.
Their professor sighed and rubbed the bridge of her nose. [i "Is that all of it, Potter? And perhaps you would like to tell me just what Dolores made the two of you do? Madam Pomfrey seemed infuriated when she came to me this morning."] The woman said, not being nearly as harsh as she had been, her look instead was softer.
All three subjects were by far some of Harry's best. The homework was easier, and the professors were more lenient. Hagrid always made classes interesting. Though, Harry could do without another hyppogriff taking him on an unwilling surprise ride around the castle. [b "At least our books won't try to eat us again,"] Harry noted, holding up a perfectly normal leatherbound book.
They'd almost made it to the Great Hall when McGonnagal caught them. It was far too early for them to be in any trouble, Harry thought. [b "Professor?"] he asked, but she merely gestured for them to follow her.
His brain quickly ran through any scenario that might be the reason for this meeting. [b "Nobody saw us last night,"] he muttered to Hermione. [b "And we both went right to bed. For once, we actually didn't do anything wrong. I mean, aside from going to the kitchens. That can't be it, right?"]
[i "We will discuss everything in my office, Potter,"] Minerva answered from a few paces ahead of them.
Shit. He'd forgotten how good her hearing was. Sometimes he thought that being a cat half the time caused her senses to be heightened when she went back to normal. By the time she had them sit in front of her desk, Harry's brain was glitching, trying to figure out what they'd done wrong.
[i "Care to tell me how two of my best Gryffindor students ended up with detentions on the first day of classes?"] she stared at them with pursed lips.
The girl rolled her eyes at Ron's words. She knew the boy was only teasing, but sometimes is struck a nerve. Well her fear did more so. But instead of answering, Hermione kept her pace beside Harry and couldn't help a small smirk. [b "If anyone can teach me or make that happen it'll be you. But lets make the bet with him later on it and see if he takes it?"] The girl whispered, a slight michievious smiling gracing her lips.
[i "Oi! Will the two of you hurry up? I'm starving here!"] Ron shouted as he looked back at them. And again there was that same look he had given them the night before. Again it seemed he was reading into something that was not there.
Hermione flushed from their friend's look and looked to the floor. [b "We're still waking up, Ronald. I'm actually surprised you're this awake for how early it is."] The bushy haired brunette muttered as soon the three were side by side.
[b "Today we've got History of Magic, Charms, and Care of Magical Creatures. They should be less gruesome than yesterday."] The girl said with a faint smile. But it quickly vanished when Professor McGonagall strolled up to them.
[i "Mister Potter, Miss Granger a word if you please?"] The woman said, giving Ron a look which said he was dismissed but the other two had to stay with her.
Harry smiled at her around a yawn, letting her fix his tie so it lay properly around his neck. [b "But you do such a nice job of them. Ron even looks presentable when you straighten his,"] he attempted to flatten his hair as she moved to the redhead's red and gold striped cloth.
[i "We look good enough to work at the Ministry,"] Ron agreed.
Harry winced. [b "Too early for Ministry talk. Let's eat."]
Ron waved his hand to motion for them to join him. [i "You've read my mind."]
Harry nudged Hermione along first, falling in to step beside her. Everything was easy again, as if the new day wiped his awkwardness from the night before. Then again, maybe he was just too groggy to remember what he'd said the night before. [b "Hey Ron! Hermione said she might go for a ride later with us while we practice your Keeper stills,"] he called ahead of them.
The Weasley boy laughed. [i "I'll give you a Galleon if you manage to get her more than ten feet off the ground."]
Harry leaned close to Hermione's ear. [b "Ten Galleons says I can help you score on him before practice is over."]
The girl couldn't help the red rising in her cheeks at hos words. She very well knew what had been meant but for a moment her mind had wandered somewhere it shouldn't have. [b "Erm...maybe you could. Or you could teach me to fly?"] The words were out before she could stop them. Again the girl was kicking herself because she knew she had made things awkward too.
[b "Have a good night, Harry.. And try to get some rest too."] The words were quick as the boy left her and she sighed. Slowly she ran a hand through her hair and once Harry was out of view, the girl made her way up to her own dormitory. All the other girls seemed to either be asleep or giggling over some crush they had or somethung. But not her. I stead she went to her bed and opened a book, one of the ones she had gotten from the library and tried to focus on the reading. But it was no use. No matter how she tried to keep her mind focused it kept wandering to Harry.
When she heard the rustling and shuffling of the other girls, Hermione groaned as she had not even realized she had fallen asleep. And more so she didn't feel like she had gotten any. As tempted as she was to try and go back to sleep, the bushy haired girl denied herself and dragged herself out of bed and got into her uniform and robes. She even had her tie tied and grabbed the books from the library so she could look at them during a free period since she had dropped Muggle Studies and Divination.
The girl had gotten to the common room just before the boys came down and shook her head at the both of them. Slowly she moved to both Ron and Harry, straightening their ties, lingering on Harry's a little longer than she should have before she pulled bacl and gave a small smile. [b "Honestly you two. Have to learn to do your ties yourselves."] The girl teased as she soon moved to the portrait and walked down towards the Great Hall with them, keeping pretty much silent as Ron went on and on about his patrol.
Harry laughed quietly and looked to the floor. If he tried hard enough to remember, he could almost feel her arms wrapped around his waist, squeezing as hard as she could. [b "I would never let you fall. Maybe you can join me for a ride. I'll show you how amazing it can feel."]
Realizing just how that sentence could be taken, he flushed red. [b "Anyways, I'm gonna head up. Get some sleep, and all that."]
He started backing away slowly, giving the most pathetic wave of his life as he bumped into the table behind him. [b "Goodnight, Hermione."]
In the privacy of his bed with the curtains drawn and a silencing charm protecting him, he groaned out loud at how he managed to make a complete fool out of himself in front of the girl he'd been crushing on for the past year.
[b "Genius, Harry. Just brilliant. May as well take flirting advice from Neville,"] he snapped at himself.
Burying his face into the pillow, he sighed and let sleep claim him for a few hours. His embarrassment must have drained the last of his energy, because he didn't wake up until Ron started shaking him the next morning. [i "You're going to be late for breakfast. Unless that's your next plan to get Hermione alone in the kitchens with you,"] Ron taunted, hauling the blankets off of Harry.
[b "I promise you, we were just getting something to eat, since we both missed dinner,"] the groggy boy explained himself.
[i "Whatever you say,"] Ron didn't believe a word coming out of his mouth. [i "But don't expect me to be so lenient the next time I catch you out of bed after hours."]
Harry rolled his eyes and scratched at his hair. [b "Remind me to thank you for your generosity."]
He pulled on his uniform but left his tie untied around his neck. [b "Let's go before your stomach eats you alive,"] he shoved Ron towards the door.
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