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He let his head fall back to rest against the stone wall. [b "I know, it seems like this week just keeps dragging on. I thought being mischievous helped pass the time? I feel like we're doing something incredibly wrong if we're not having much fun."]
Taking her hand once more, he tugged her along the corridor. [b "I don't know about you, but I will definitely be buying an unhealthy amount of candy at the shop. Something sweet enough to practically ruin my teeth for a month. I've gone through my stash from Diagon Alley, so I'd best re-stock."]
Harry caught her eye and grinned. [b "Anything in particular you're looking forward to? New books? Maybe some junk food for you as well, since your parents aren't here to give you the dentist lectures of teeth safety?"]
The adrenaline rush from his spat with Umbridge was beginning to wear off. All that was left was a fluttering in his chest over discussing details of their date. If he had a better idea of what she was interested in doing, he could plan ahead.
Quite honestly, the bushy haired girl was in shock that Harry's plan had actually worked. She had ALMOST seen it coming back at them. But when it didn't and the toad got all huffy before she walked off, the girl let out the breath she had been holding. Her own heart was all but pounding in her chest. [b "I thought she was going to be trying to tear into us even more...that was risky, Harry.. But at least now she knows we're not alone. Though HAVE to get that plate...that is if Professor McGonagall hasn't already.."] She whispered, her mind already jumping back into planning things though she was still looking tired.
A soft laugh slipped from her and she nodded. [b "Actually...we have I think five new ones coming. Speaking against the Ministry and their actions, Skipping class, Smarting off to a Ministry Official, Going to a Professor and telling lies, and still Spreading the remours that Voldemort is back."] The girl listed off as she looked up at Harry.
Lightly she leaned on the wall behing them as he had pulled her out of the way so that their classmates could get around them. Many of the others turned to look at the pair but didn't stop. [b "Ron would do that...and he will be yelling at us again for sure tonight.."] She said with a sigh. The girl was not looking foward to facing their friend or the rest of their classes for the day. [b "Can we just have our weekend yet?"]
[b "I think you'll find she was in no breach of school rules. Meetings with prefects and team captains are quite common. Perhaps you should speak with the other heads of houses to verify this information. Professor Flitwick holds weekly meetings with the Hufflepuff students."]
She was nearly foaming at the mouth by the time she stormed off through the sea of students. Next thing Harry knew, his arms were full of Hermione. [b "I'm not going to lie, I wasn't entirely sure that would work,"] he finally let out the breath he'd been holding anxiously.
Releasing her, he pressed his hand to his heart where it was beating against his ribs. [b "I'm a little light headed,"] he laughed softly, not quite believing he'd pulled off the risky play.
McGonnagal wouldn't back down from any fight, let alone one with Dolores Umbridge. Harry was confident that the Gryffindor Head of House would be more than capable of handling the Ministry goon. It was just a matter of how escalated the argument would get. [b "I probably just instigated at least three new Ministry decrees,"] he said, moving aside so the other students could walk around them. [b "But I think we got the message across. She knows now that we have allies here."]
Leaning close, he grinned. [b "If you think Ron pitched a fit earlier, wait until he hears about this. He might actually send us a howler,"] he joked.
Hermione didn't know what Harry had in mind. At this rate, the girl was about to cave to Umbridge. At least for the moment to keep out of trouble. But the squeeze of her hand when he had pulled her to her feet and his muttered words had gotten her attention. Soothed her in a sense. [b "With my life.."] The girl whispered, her hand giving his a squeeze as he still held her hand tightly and the pair followed after the pink devil.
Her mind and heart was racing. Sure she had broken a few rules already but those had been at night and also unseen. The game Harry was playing now was in broad daylight and was VERY dangerous. But perhaps that was one thing she had always admired in the boy. His courage and the fact that he was not afraid to take risks or stand for what he believed in. Only she wished she were as brave.
The pair followed the woman through the halls as students were coming out of classes. And all two soon the pair stopped and were watching as Umbridge turned on them. Her hand gripped Harry's tigher as she hoped he knew what he was doing. [b "Harry..?"] She whispered, but then she blinked seeing the nites they had been given. And then she realized it. He was trying to teach the woman a leason and to knock her down a VERY much needed peg.
[i "So it appears that the two of you have been given excuses from class. And I WILL be talking to your head of house. It appears that she thinks she can continuously protect the pair of you. You are free for now, but mark my words Potter, Granger I will have the both of you for detention."] There was not much the woman could do for the moment and even she knew it.
Hermione turned to Harry and hugged him tightly. [b "Harry, that was brilliant... daring and dangerous but brilliant. But we both best be careful."] She said, blushing when she let him go. The whole of the students had seen the exchange and she was biting her lip and looked down as whispers began amd stares stayed on them.
Harry lost all sense of calm at the unnecessary interruption. [b "I wouldn't be so smug if I were you, professor. Wouldn't want to look like one of those squished-faced cats in your classroom."]
Her smirk remained, but her eyes turned shady. [i "Do not make me drag you by the ear to my office, Potter. I'm not above corporal punishment. You have been caught skipping class, and that is a punishable offence."]
An idea struck Harry.
[b "Of course. Right away, Professor Umbridge,"] he forced a smile.
As he pulled Hermione to her feet, he caught her eye as Umbridge turned to lead the way. [b "Trust me,"] he murmured to her.
He kept his hand clasped tightly around hers for reassurance. Dolores held her head high and proudly through the corridors, her arrogance practically oozing from her. Harry fought the urge to roll his eyes. The woman wouldn't be pleased for long.
As students filed out of the classrooms and into the hallways, Harry halted his steps, drawing Hermione to a stop with them. [b "Professor, I don't think we're going to be needing to come with you to your class,"] his voice was bright.
Umbridge turned on her heel and tilted her head. [i "I don't believe I gave you a choice, Mr Potter. Your actions have consequences, and I will not have students skipping classes on my watch. You are to follow me immediately."]
[b "You know, I don't think I will."]
Her smile faltered. [i "Excuse me?"]
[b "You see, I just happened to remember that Hermione and I caught up with Professor McGonnagal this morning. She wanted to know how Gryffindor's Quidditch team and students are doing, so we had a meeting to discuss it. And,"] he produced the excuse notes from his pocket. [b "We've been respectfully dismissed from class. You seem to like reading those endless Ministry papers, so I'm sure this won't take you long."]
Students watched with rapt attention as she snatched the parchment from his hand. Her eyes poured over the document like a hungry tiger. It crumpled under her fist. With a snap of her head, she met his eyes once more.
[b "I'm sure you won't want to argue Professor McGonnagal's authority as Head of Gryffindor House,"] Harry's smirk turned vicious. [b "After all, we were discussing school matters, which you'll find is what the Ministry is claiming to uphold."]
Those surrounding them were practically holding their breath as they watched the showdown. Harry's eyes never wavered. Umbridge was a bully, and needed a good dose of public embarrassment.
Never had she felt the overwhelming pressure or shyness around the boy that she now felt and it was...sad because he was her best friend. But when he had admitted that he felt the same way, Hermione found that she was comforted by it. It seemed they both needed to learn that it was okay and that they actually did feel the same way. Which actually seemed to lift a weight from her shoulders. Perhaps it would be okay to let him know how she really felt. The only thing was when would be the time for it.
[b "We do always..and there is no one I rather figure it out with.."] The girl found herself whispering, being perfecrtly at ease and content beside the boy.
Outside the sun was still shining and the birds could be heard calling to one another. There was still laughter of students who had a free period and there was also the softness of the waves on the lake. Beautiful and peaceful. Nothing like the headache that the school had become. It was really like all fears and worries for those moments they were sat against the other were gone. It was only them and the peace and quiet.
[b "Could always convince Sirius to stay as Padfoot..he'd like that life...and it sounds so peaceful."] Hermione whispered as she was still leaned against Harry. But she stiffened, hearing clicking on the steps up to the tower. She was praying that it would not be the pink devil, but it was.
[i "Mr.Potter, Miss Granger, Professor Snape informed me the two of you did not turn up for class. You best have good reason for skipping class. Rule breaking will not be tolerated. I thought this morning that was made perfectly clear? And since it is free period now, why don't you both accompany me to my office for your detention? In fact it will be double."] The woman said with her sickly sweet smile and giggle. Hermione was only glad she had her letter written and had hidden it just before Umbridge had come up to the tower.
It was a relief that he wasn't the only one experiencing this intense pressure of nerves; to know that she was just as shy around him as he was feeling around her. It made him warm. A calming contentment settled over him.
[b "We'll figure it out. We always do,"] he assured her, confidence rising.
For a few moments, he let silence fall around them. He could hear every bird outside, calling to others in the tree tops of the Forbidden Forest. The gentle waves from the lake, moving in the wind. Serenity. Harry's eyes drifted closed once more. His head fell back to rest against the stone wall.
Hermione was warm beside him, and he let his body lean into hers to soak up some of the heat. He didn't want to go back downstairs, where headaches awaited them. He could sit here and pretend they were sitting under the sun on the beach, and not in the tower at school.
[b "I'm going to buy a house somewhere hidden away. Nothing but trees and wild animals all around. Ignore the world, for once. And I'd get a dog. I've never had a pet other than Hedwig. A dog seems like a good step forward. A big old active thing that loves hiking,"] he dreamed aloud wistfully.
Hermione was almost surprised when he had heard the last part of her words, but it was nice to hear that he felt the same. It was comforting to have their fingers laced and she gently gave his hand a squeeze. The boy at her side meant so very much to her. He had been the one to show her "there's more to life than books and cleverness". And she was grateful to him.
Ron was a different story altogether. If she were honest, the brown haired girl did owe the Weasley boy though. Had he not made her cry that Halloween back in their firsr year she would have never befriended them. Yes he challenged her and got under her skin but it was more the annoying brother type of a relationship. With Harry, she and he were perfectly equal. When she needed someone he was there and she was for him. He stuck up for her and she helped him with assignments and such. Both of them strived to push the other to do better or to catch the other when they fell.
Slowly she moved away enough that she could look at him and gave a sift, yet nervous smile of her own. [b "I'm looking forward to it too...and honestly neither have I, so I'm sorry too...But we can learn together."] She whispered.
Harry let his head fall against hers and reached to lace their hands together. [b "You mean a lot to me, too,"] he assured her softly.
She had brought affection and adoration into his life. Ron had been his first friend, yes, but he'd never known companionship before Hermione. Light touch of their hands, casual hugs. All had been foreign to him before he'd met her. He adored everything about her. It was a different friendship than what he had with Ron.
They were equals, through and through. There was never a jealous resentment over what the other had. She couldn't care less about his unwanted fame, and he held nothing but gratitude for her parents, for having given her a loving home. Competition was nonexistent between them; they only served to motivate each other to do better.
[b "I'm looking forward to Hogsmeade with you,"] he swallowed nervously. [b "I've never done this before, so I apologize if I'm bad at it."]
When he mentioned the giant spiders falling on him in Australia, Hermione couldn't help laughing. Here at Hogwarts he faced SO much worse and here he was mentioning spiders. [b "Think you've already done that once...But compared to here Australia also sounds nice. There are so many places I do want to see..."] The girl admitted as she did stay leaned against Harry.
The boy had come to mean so much to her over the last few years. Became a friend when she had no one and was always there for her. If she were honest, the girl did owe him her life. Without him, everything would seem to lose meaning. Always did she want to be there for him and there with him. Well that was as long as he would let her. With her thoughts, her cheeks became red enough to make lobsters jealous and her heart hammered in her chest.
[b "If we make it past this year and everything works out I would really like that. It would be nice to have some normal muggle fun with someone who means so much to me.."] Her last words were said so much lower than the first been. She could not believe it had been said, but she had done it.
Harry let his eyes drift closed and imagine the beach she described. He'd never been anywhere warm in his life. England was perpetually raining, and Scotland always seemed to carry a sharp chill in the air. Half the students at Hogwarts were rarely without a sweater in an attempt to stay warm.
[b "Doesn't sound silly at all. We might even get a tan,"] he joked, looking at his hands. [b "We're quite pale, aren't we?"]
If he imagined hard enough, he could feel hot sand beneath his feet. [b "Somewhere warm sounds perfect. A resort with unlimited food. Cozy hammock to nap in. I'm definitely stealing your vacation idea and making it mine, too. We don't even have to come back."]
An ideal world indeed. Never having to experience people staring at him for his fame, which had been ninety percent of his wizarding world experience the past few years. A warm beach where he could disappear and be Just Harry for the rest of his life? He'd leave tomorrow.
[b "I'd say Australia, too, but I've had just about enough of everything trying to kill me. Last thing I need is to be hiking and a giant spider falls on me from a tree. It might be the most dangerous place in the world, outside of Hogwarts,"] he joked.
Try as hard as he might, he couldn't picture a world without her in it. She was the only constant in his life. If she let him, he'd follow her to the ends of the earth. [b "If things work out and I get to live with Sirius next year, maybe we could spend more time together over the summer, instead of just the last few weeks. Enjoy some of the Muggle world together while we're free."]
He was right in his words. Harry almost NEVER said no to an adventure or sneaking about the halls at night. At least once every year since they had started the boy was in trouble or caught wandering. A laugh slipped from her and she nodded. [b "Almost never. Which is why I think I had asked if we could."] Hermione said and smiled as she heard what it could be like. Again so enchanting and calming. A beauty she was sure not many had taken the chance to really connect. The girl almost bet that Harry did because it was his own way of escape. Where she had her books, her best friend had his knack for adventure and enjoying the small joys in life when he was able.
It was at the bump to her shoulder did the girl give a faint pout. [b "I know..I know. But you know what my mind is like when it gets stuck on something."] She whispered and then gave a thoughtful look. His question had been an interesting one and was something she used to think about. But since coming to school and knowing Voldemort was a threat to her best friend that kind of became more her focus. Usually she was thinking on classes or ways to help Harry that she did not ever really think much on what she wanted anymore.
Lightly she leaned against the boy, brown eyes once more on the window as she watched the rays of sun glisten on grounds. [b "I'd like to think maybe in America...Hawaii. Perhaps a beach at sunset and just watching the boats sail on the horizon...listen to the soft calls of the seagulls and the water lapping at the shore...to feel the warmth of the sun and the breeze. Or maybe just doing touristy things. Shops, musuems..." She said, her cheeks colouring as she spoke her words. It probably wasn't what her friend would expect from her. [b "I'm sorry...that sounded so silly. What about you? If you could what would you do?"]
Harry smiled softly at her. [b "When have I ever said 'no' to sneaking out?"] he joked. [b "You'll love it. The owls get quiet, and all you can hear is the pouring rain and the thunder. It gets a bit cold, but I'll have a blanket for us."]
Leaning slightly towards her, he bumped her shoulder with his. [b "Now, I believe we came up here for some peace and quiet. No dwelling on the nightmare outside of this tower. Time for relaxation."]
Harry stretched his legs out and ignored Hedwig's hoot of disapproval. [b "Tell me what your ideal vacation would be. At the end of the school year, and you have the chance to go anywhere in the world, and do anything you wanted. What would you do?"]
It was something he'd considered himself many times. His curse of having an evil wizard after him had prevented him from imagining much of a future for himself. He'd tried to come up with plans for the future, but he rarely saw himself living long enough to get one. Travel never seemed possible.
[b "Even if it's just relaxing on a beach with a book in your hand,"] he teased. [b "Whatever you can think of that would make you the happiest away from here."]
[b "I think it is a pet thing honestly. But we can't help but to love them because they love us even when we are at our lowest moments."] Her words were quiet and thoughtful as she spoke them. The girl was thinking to the many nights she had near cried herself to sleep after arguments with Ron amd even the last couple of days back at school. Though her cat wasn't always around, he always did try to comfort her when she needed him the most.
Brown eyes were on the parchment she was scrawling away on as she listened to Harry's playful banter of his owl. And a couple times she let out soft giggles at how much it sounded like a parent gently scolding a child. Well it did until the "tempermental bird" comment. But it was still enough to send her mind into thinking about him being a father in the future. As soon as she realized where her mind had gone, Hermione had to reign it back in and began writing again.
[b "Tonks, Mister Wessley, and Kingsley all are getting as much information as they can from the inside...it's not been much. Kingsley being higher up has the best bet and can help clue us all in here...But as you said him finding out the details of that Gargoyle's antics here at Hogwarts may help him even more...Though you and I may end up getting a 'slap on the wrist' for this."] The girl said softly as her eyes finally moved up from the parchment and followed Harry's gaze.
There were now some students wandering and the faint laughter could be heard. And at his spoken words, a hand slowly moved over his without her notice. [b "Perhaps one night we can sneak up here during a storm and watch it? I don't spend much time up here...but it really did help, thanks..."] She whispered and looked to her best friend.
Harry fights back a smirk to try and remain straight-faced. [b "Typical boys. Only around when they want something. Crookshanks is lucky you love him so much,"] he sighed dramatically and slumped into the spot next to her.
Hedwig came to rest on his elevated knee, silently demanding more pets with her piercing golden stare. [b "As if you're any better, Miss!"] Harry playfully scolded his beloved owl. [b "Nipping at me all the time when my attention is elsewhere. It's not all about you."]
She screamed at him, flapping her wings at his face. [b "Temperamental bird,"] he stuck his tongue out.
Glancing over at his human companion, he stretched his neck slightly to see what she was writing. [b "At least we know Kingsley is working for the Order from the inside of the Ministry. Hearing what's going on here might give him clues on what to look for at work. Especially with these new decrees Umbridge has started nailing up on the walls."]
The wide open arches gave them the perfect view of the grounds. Small specks of students strolled through the grass, faint laughs rising up to the tower. It was the most peaceful Harry had ever felt at school. [b "This is the best place to watch storms,"] he spoke quietly, almost just to himself. [b "Everything feels more alive from up here."]
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