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Harry laughed. [b "I'm not sure there's anything about dancing I'll feel comfortable with. Give me a broomstick a hundred feet in the air, and I'm golden. Ask me to dance without tripping over myself and I'm a lost cause."]
Any chance he could get to ensure she wouldn't have to suffer around Malfoy alone was an opportunity he was going to take. [b "I like where your head is at. I'm always on board with keeping Malfoy in check."]
With a plan to meet her outside of the portrait, he dashed upstairs to get the invisibility cloak. Everyone in the common room was far too engrossed in their own activities to notice him sneak back down the dormitory stairs and disappear out of the door. Unable to help himself, he had thrown the cloak on before exiting the portrait hole. [b "Ready?"] he announced himself by grabbing her sides to scare her.
Prefect rounds were never fun, and he didn't envy the sheer amount of night rounds she was assigned. The silence of the castle made the job seemingly never ending. [b "Think we can lock him in a closet if he gets too annoying?"] he asked, adjusting to make sure he was fully covered by the cloak.
Hermione huffed and had to stop a snort from escaping her. He had been handsome but never the sort she would consider and not her type. [b "To be fair, I think the Bulgarian 'bon-bon' as he was commonly referred to would be more Ron's type than my own. I prefer boys who are not overly broody and have a charm about them. A way of getting into trouble too."] She teased softly. She couldn't help that she was still in a good mood and was just going with things for the moment.
Ron caught her words and his head did shoot up as he looked to them. [i "Oi!"] Their red haired fried huffed and the older Weasley boys laughed. They had immediately gone back to how much Ron had idolized Krum during the Quidditch World Cup and so had begun their little song to terrorize him a bit.
So it had been a little mean, but she knew her words would get all the Weasleys off their backs for a few moments at least as they were soon closer to the middle of the floor space. Her hand in his as she gave him a smile. [b "You know dancing doesn't have to match the music. It's what we're comfortable with..and to just have fun."] She said with a smile, looking him in the eyes as she fell into step with him quite easily.
Dancing still was not her thing but she happened to enjoy it when with him. She didn't have to pretend to be something or someone she wasn't. [b "Feel like taking the cloak out and coming with me and Malfoy on rounds? I really can't handle another night alone with him and his mouth.. He is the most arrogant boy in this entite castle."] She whispered.
Harry feigned flattery, pressing his free hand against his chest. [b "Are you saying that plain old Harry Potter is a better date than the Bulgarian bon-bon, Viktor Krum?"]
[i "Well, you don't stand around brooding with a scowl half the time, so that's a point in your favour,"] Ginny joked.
He pulled Hermione to a bit more open space. [b "I'm just saying, the papers were all about his - how did they phrase it? Right, his 'chiseled marble' good looks. How could I ever compete with the Quidditch dream boat?"]
[i "Merlin's beard, don't fish for compliments. It's not becoming of a gentleman,"] the Weasley sister rolled her eyes. [i "Shut up and dance already."]
Harry was halfway to a waltz step when he hesitated. [b "Knowing how to swing dance would be really handy right about now,"] his feet moved a bit awkwardly as they searched for a rhythm to the big band playing from the record. [b "McGonagall's ballroom lessons won't do me much good right now, I'm afraid."]
Despite the clumsy shuffling, the smile hadn't left his face as he held her right hand in his left, while his own right rested on her waist.
The laugh that came from Harry and that bounced around the stonewalls was a nice sound to hear. A rare sound as he didn't laugh that much. So she would definitely try and remember the sound of it. [b "How about we try and make that our goal by the end of the term? Up to the challenge?"] The girl asked with a laugh of her own as the two of them made their way up the last staircase that would lead them into Gryffindor Tower.
When they entered, Hermione could only picture those television shows she would watch every once in awhile with her mum and dad. The music and the dancing and just everyone being strung about doing their own thing. It made her think for a moment that they were more in a muggle setting than in a mgical school. And just for a moment their was really no reason for them to be the odd ones out.
A hand moved into Harry's that had been held out and a smile crossed her lips. [b "Three it is. And I think I'm a little better now than I had been too..might be easier with someone you actually like."] Her words were soft as she spoke them. Only meant for his ears. But Ron's comment brought a fire to her eyes and she had to literally bite her tongue to not retort. She would NOT ruin her last free hour or two before patrolling with a troll arguing with their red haired friend.
[b "Shall we?"] She asked, turning back to Harry with a small smile.
His laugh bounced off the stone walls. [b "So two dates in one day is the high score to beat. Soon enough we'll have to have a date every hour on the hour. I'm sure we could manage twenty four dates in a day."]
Surprisingly, the Gryffindor common room was still fairly lively upon their return. Someone had brought out a charmed record player that was filling the air with an upbeat jazz number, with Ginny and a few of her friends dancing along. Small groups of classmates were scattered around the room; some bobbing along as they did their homework, others focused intensely on card games and chess boards in front of them.
[b "Did we not get invited to the party?"] Harry raised an eyebrow.
[i "It was dreary around here. We needed to liven things up a bit,"] Ginny answered. [i "It's Saturday night, why should we leave the fun in Hogsmead?"]
It was hard to argue with that logic. Harry put the basket on a table and held a hand out to Hermione. [b "What do you say? Want to raise the high score to three dates? I promise I dance a bit better than I did at the Yule Ball."]
[i "You're nauseating,"] Ron chimed from his place by the fire, not even taking his eyes off the chess board as he faced off against Neville.
[b "Harry, you took on a troll in our first year to save me...Third year let me take you back in time to help an innocent man AND took one easily a hundred dementors. And last year had the Tri Wizard...someone who isn't brave would have never been able to face all of that. So I think you have filled the name and more. And you could never disappoint me."] The girl said with a soft smile as she explained the true reasons behind the name that she had chose. Ever the shy one..but this was something she needed for him to understand. AND something she was more than sure that he needed to be hearing to help get him through the times ahead.
Her own cheeks flushed when he mentioned "when you're head girl" and she couldn't help her small and almost timid smile. [b "You know there is no one else I would rather do that for or with.."] Came her soft words as she watched the blanket and food pack itself back into the basket. He really had become better with his magic.
Soon her hand was taken by his and she nodded. [b "We should perhaps make a game? See how many dates we can go on at a time? Because I do know I loved the two today."] She said as the walked the mercifully quiet and empty corridors. Her mind was starting to wander and the moment Harry stepped closer was the moment that she unconsciously had done the same. The warmth for one...and just she found the closeness a comfort.
Harry nudged her shoulder. [b "You made a very adorable cat. The prettiest in all the land,"] he teased in good humor.
Puffing out his chest, he donned a superhero pose. [b "I was thinking something humble for myself. The Golden Boy, or Prince Charming. Are those too obvious?"]
He hadn't been expecting the title she went with. His head tilted in thought. [i Fortem]. Ever one to be bashful at even the slightest compliment, his face flushed red. [b "You think I'm brave enough to earn that name? Seems like some big shoes to fill. I'd hate to disappoint you."]
The boy who lived scowled and pouted when she pointed out that it was time to head back. [b "Wait until you're Head Girl. Then we can stay away as long as we'd like. So long as you sneak me out late at night on your rounds to join you. It'll be our own stealthy adventure."]
A wave of his wand saw their food and blanket packed back into the basket. Without hesitation, Harry reached down to take her hand for their walk back. [b "Two dates in one day. We've got quite the record to beat next time around. You up for the challenge, Miss Granger?"]
The corridor was mercifully empty this time around, with only the distant noise of portraits chattering to each other on the walls. Late September had put a chill in the air, made worse by the poorly heated stone hallways. For more reasons than one, Harry stepped a bit closer to her so their shoulders practically touched as they walked.
A smile crossed her lips when Harry had said he wanted to let her mum and dad know he was on their side and didn't like getting her into the trouble they got into. But the truth was she didn't mind. She would ALWAYS be there for him and she would always help him. He was her bestfriend after all. This time she didn't voice it, but she was sure he knew it.
[b "New marauders.. You know that's actually kind of the case."] Her words were thoughtful as she fell silent again and listened to his next words.
[b "If you want to call me Whiskers, it would make sense. And it is fitting with Crookshanks and our little Poly Juice mishaps. Still can't believe I had been so stupid. I should have realised the difference between human hair and cat fur."] The girl muttered with a shake of her head. Every now and again Ron did like to tease her and say how she looked good with ears and a tail. Of course no one really knew what that meant but the three of them.. But she STILL hated that it had happened and even was embarrassed of it. [b "For you, your name could always be 'Fortem'.. It's Latin for brave.."] And she had chosen it because he was the bravest person she knew. It was one of the things that drew her to him in the first place. One of the things she had found so very endearing.
Her hand soon moved into his. [b "Come on..we best be getting back. The others will probably start a search party or something if we're not careful. And I do have...prefect duty too.."] Those last words were quiet as she was inwardly cringing. Draco still wasn't much better about it. Still pigheaded and still made her do most of the scolding or telling off when they needed to do it.
[b "I'll make sure they're aware that I'm on their side, and wish we could keep you out of harm's way,"] he grinned. [b "I know better than to boss you around though. No one can tell you to do anything you don't want to do, and no one can deter you once you've set your mind to it. Hence helping me break out an escaped criminal and now helping me start an underground rebellion."]
As a matter of fact, he adored her for it. Some of their classmates were quick to brush her aside as a straight-laced teacher's pet, but were simply ignorant to see how she could be headstrong and determined like the rest of them. Broken school rules were no longer an oddity, in fact they were becoming more and more common for them. The wild side of Hermione Granger was entirely too endearing for his own good.
[b "It's always good to know I have a permanent partner in crime, should I find myself in mountains of trouble. Because let's be honest, I don't even have to look for it for it to find me. We can be the new generation of Marauders,"] Harry looked quite amused by his own suggestion.
[b "We'll have to come up with catchy nicknames though. It's a tradition, after all."] He looked at her from the corner of his eye, a playful smirk tugging at the corner of his lips. [b "Let's see...what about Whiskers? You know, since you have a cat. And the whole polyjuice potion mishap."]
Brown eyes watched out the great arch before them as the owls swooped in and out of the night sky. It was peaceful and almost freeing in its way to be watching them. It was like a calmness overtook her as she and Harry sat in the others company. Up here there was no school to worry about. No Ministry officials who seemed to want their heads. And there certainly was no Voldemort or the threat of a rising army. It was simply them and a bit of a reprieve. [b "Once a week doing this would be nice..It would give us a much needed break..."] Her words were as soft and thoughtful as ever as she spoke them.
She actually felt guilty saying how she had wanted to keep this a secret. Them a secret. Or she did until she knew that they were on the same page. Sometimes...having privacy and ONE thing for them could be nice..and this was that one thing she wanted.
[b "Mum and dad like you Harry...they aren't fond on the danger I get into..But they don't blame you. They know that I choose to do it because I want to help. And they know it is just me doing what they always taught me..Stand for the things I believe in."] The girl said, slowly turning her gaze to meet his as her hand gave his a small squeeze. She needed him to understand that she meant EVERYTHING that she had just said.
He stared out the open archway, at the stars littering the night sky. Reality would eventually come crashing back in - with a sociopathic Ministry spy stalking their every move, and Voldemort's return promising an influx of his followers, it was lining up to be another year of chaos for them. Not for the first time, he longed for a normal school term. [b "We can make it a weekly thing; disappearing for a few hours, just the two of us so we can get a break from everything."]
For now, Harry was content to just be in her company. It was reassuring that they were on the same page regarding just how much they were willing to share with their friends. He was fearful she'd think him a jerk for not wanting to divulge much information, or that he wanted to keep her some kind of secret out of shame. Knowing that she felt the same about their privacy put his mind at ease.
That is, until his brain took a detour and considered something more terrifying.
[b "Is your father going to kill me?"] he blurted out, twisting his head slightly to look at her. [b "Do they even like me? Oh god, are they going to be angry about the harm you've been in for my sake?"]
Harry couldn't recall any conversations he'd actually had with her parents that didn't involve just routine small talk. It was always polite, but the matter was certain to change with his new status as potential boyfriend, and not just her friend Harry.
The thought hadn't even crossed his mind about what her parents would think. He certainly wasn't going to mention anything to the Dursleys, and therefore had neglected to consider what Mr and Mrs Granger would think of the situation.
To her, Harry was not at all a boring date. He was actually the sort of date she had always dreamed about. A best friend and someone who took an interest. What more could a girl want? But he was right.. If she didn't tell the other girls that he was boring, then they would never let her sleep. And she hardly got sleep as it was with her classes and the prefect duties being added. The last thing she needed was to add a bunch of daft school girls to her list of reasons.
[b "You're not boring. At least not to me. But you are right...telling them otherwise and I won't hear the end of it. So know whatever they say because of their loose tongues and gossip isn't the truth.."] She was practically begging the boy.
And the mention of Ginny and Ron made her sigh. They were their other best friends, but he was right.. They had NO idea what privacy even was. She, like Harry knew it was due to the size of their family and not having any themselves. [b "Give them basics. Enough to keep them off our backs, but enough to where we don't have to share this side of the other with them.. To be honest...it would be nice to have something just for us. So I don't think you selfish at all.."] She said with a small smile, her hand moving into his and giving a small squeeze.
And once more she was leaned against him. The silence that had fallen between them was a comfortable one. And it was more than peaceful. [b "I wish we could stay like this forever..."] She found herself whispering.
[b "Careful now, I may take you up on that offer right now,"] he teased. [b "You'll have to read me your favourite one, when we get the chance."]
It was peacefully quiet with just the two of them. The food was delicious, with the flaky and fresh pastries and sweet cider making the perfect dessert to end their day. Every few moments an owl would pass by one of the large arched windows, going to and from the observatory in the next tower. The whole day had gone better than he could have ever expected, topped with a perfect evening.
[b "We should just stay up here until classes on Monday. I can almost guarantee the second we get back to the dorms, we'll be hounded with questions,"] Harry mused as they ate. [b "Ginny's probably already recruited Lavender and Parvati to get answers out of you. You'll have to tell them all about how Harry Potter is a boring date, or else they'll never let you sleep."]
He knew his own interrogation was waiting for him in the dorm rooms. Ron wasn't good at leaving things alone, and he was most likely betting that he'd get more answers out of Harry without the others being around. He loved their friends dearly but boundaries were not a thing they were worried about.
[b "I'm not sure how much information I want them to know. We already share so much of our lives with them, I kind of like having something that they aren't involved with,"] he admitted. [b "They mean well, but coming from such a big family means that privacy isn't something they think about much. Call me selfish, but I'm not sure I want to share you with them. At least, this side of you."]
She had been watching Harry as he handed her the wrapped goft and he had seemed nervous. VERY nervous, which she hated him feeling. Especially when around her. The truth was, she would have loved anything he had chosen because it came from him. It really was more the thought that counted than anything else. But when she unwrapped the book she really was happy with it. Loved it even and that was one reason of many she had hugged him, her cheeks flushing when he returned the embrace.
She had soon sat back against the wall again amd was flipping through the pages as she was listening to him speak his words. Ramble, but it was adorably him. And when he called her a young rebel before she got into trouble with him and Ron, the girl looked up at him and gave an almost skittish smile. It was the ONLY thing she disobeyed her parents on. But she REALLY had wanted to read the stories. [b "I guess you could say so. But in my defense I had read all the Disney versions and wanted to see the tales from another perspective."] She explained as she went back to the book and was trying to decide which tale she would be reading first. It literally had been years since she had read any of them.
And again her eyes came up. [b "You really are amazing for getting this.. I honestly didn't have a copy and had been thinking to get one.. So thank you again."] Her cheeks flushed even more when he mentioned reading him a bedtime story and perhaps even liking it in her voice. To her, that was embarrassing to say thr least as she was more than sure she came across as annoying. But the nudge made her smile and she shook her head. [b "You got the book for me.. So the least I can do is read you a story and if you want even tuck you in."] The last part to her words was teasing him just as he had her and she nudged him back gently, taking one of the glasses of cider that he had reached to pour.
There was a tidal wave of relief as he realized she didn't hate the present. His face flushed and a stupid grin grew on his face as he returned the embrace. [b "I remembered that you'd told me before about how you liked the Grimm Brothers books when you were little. You said you used to check them out of the library without telling your parents, because they thought they'd be too scary. Little Hermione was quite the rebel, even before she got sucked into my web of trouble,"] he bumped her shoulder with his.
[b "I saw it at the shop today and thankfully Klaus was more than willing to wrap it up while you were browsing. I don't even know if you already have copies of their stories or not, but if you do, this can just sit on a shelf or something like a souvenir. The display said it was a first edition, so it's got history to it as well."]
Harry was fully aware that he was rambling. Unfortunately, his brain never knew when to shut up and enjoy the moment. The fact that she seemed to sincerely love the gift was the only thing keeping him from doubting himself. Settling back against the stone wall, he watched fondly as she skimmed the pages. [b "You'll have to read me one of the stories one day. I've never heard any of them, and I think I'd enjoy them a lot more if it was in your voice."]
More than once over the course of their friendship he'd noticed that she'd occasionally get so swept up in whatever she was reading that she'd murmur the words under her breath. It was usually when the common room was deserted; late at night when the only sounds were the crackling fire, his quill scratching out last-minute homework, and her quiet voice speaking the words on the page in front of her. It nearly lulled him to sleep with how relaxing it was.
[b "You can be the first person to read me a bedtime story. I'll expect to be tucked into bed, as well,"] he teased, reaching to pour them each a glass of cider that Dobby so graciously added to the basket.
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