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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."]
It was the times like these she loved to be around her friend. Well she always did, but it was nice to see him relax and to seem more his age. And it was a breath of fresh air to the both of them. Something they both truly needed. Harry of course had been quick to ditch the tie and robe, but she only took off her robe, leaving the tie. If he needed help with his tie, the girl would end up redoing it for him when they were done in the owlery.
[b "Well hello there pretty girl. Has the mean boy been leaving you on your own?"] She cooed softly to snowey white owl who had abandoned her owner to rest upon her shoulder. Of course she didn't mean her words to be serious but was only saying them as she was giving attention to the indignant white owl who felt she was deprived.
[b "She really is calm and helpful. I see why it is you come up here to get away when you've the chance. Truly the view is amazing...stunning even."] The girl commented as her eyes were on one of the windows. It was when Harry had gotten closer so he could pet Hegwig and asked about her cat did her attention come back to him and she offered a small smile. [b "Honestly I don't know where he's been or what he's been up to. He only.comes to see me for food or to comfort me late at night.] She admitted as ahe sat on the ground and pulled out a piece of parchmet and quill, beginning to write.
He grinned. [b "Come on, then. Let's go find some solitude away from the chaos that is our school,"] he announced dramatically.
It was more than a rush of freedom. Harry loosened his tie and tucked his robes away in his bag. The higher they rose, the fresher the air seemed. Even with the occasional shriek of an owl, the tower was more peaceful than anywhere else in the castle. [b "Hedwig!"] he called through the open arch.
Always obedient, his snowy owl came soaring from the highest peak, coming to rest on his outstretched forearm. [b "Sorry I haven't visited sooner. But look, we have a guest,"] he shifted slightly so Hedwig could see Hermione.
Also ever the traitor when attention-deprived, Hedwig soared the few feet to rest on the girl's shoulder. [b "I try to come here whenever I'm stressed. Being around her helps. She's so calm,"] he stepped into her space to stroke his fingers through Hedwig's chest feathers.
[b "Where's Crookshanks been? I've barely seen him since we got back to school,"] he tried to broach a subject that might bring her a bit of joy to talk about. [b "Causing trouble, I'm sure,"] he tried to smile and catch her eye.
Her cheeks became a bright pink at the praise from both their professor and from her best friend. But she didn't say anything and gave a nod and smile. As much as she hated herself for it, the praise ALWAYS made her feel good and clever.
When they two were in the deserted corridors, the girl stretched. Never was it so quiet and empty and she honestly couldn't be any more grateful. Hermione didn't feel like being around anyone but Harry. But then he was in just as much trouble as she was and knew exactly what was going on. [b "Oh..we'll be getting the cold shoulder from him for the nexr few days easily..this is how it went at Grimauld Place really..I'm still sorry he is being such a prat.."] She said, turning to give the boy a sad smile.
Hermione's hand was still in his from when they had left McGonagall's office. Usually she was more aware but the contact was nice. And it comforted her. [b "Actually, that sounds like a really good idea. We'll be away from everyone and can relax. Even send a letter to the others."] The girl said, brown eyes looking up at him.
It was comfortable to have at least one professor on their side. Granted, most of the teachers were against Umbridge and her tactics, but few were willing to boldly stand against her and the Ministry, lest they lose their careers. Harry didn't blame them. Hogwarts was everyone's home, and they weren't about to risk it.
[b "We'll try, Professor,"] Harry promised, taking the notes from her.
He held his hand for Hermione to take, pulling her towards the door. [i "And Miss Granger,"] McGonnagal called out, stopping them in their tracks. [i "Excellent work with the observation device,"] she smirked proudly.
Harry smiled softly. [b "Told you that you're amazing,"] he murmured to his best friend as he led her out to the hall and down the spiral staircase.
With class in session, the corridors were empty. [b "Well, I doubt that Ron is going to want us at the Quidditch pitch to watch them practice. And,"] he waved the excuse notes in front of her. [b "We now have a double free period. What do you say we go up to the owl observatory to see Hedwig. Sit on the balcony and take in the fresh air with some peace and quiet?"]
When Harry didn't budge when she tried to tug on him for them to go, the girl was a bit nervous. She almost thougt that he wanted to be on his own and she too had gotten under his skin like Ron had. But when she was pulled into the tight hug, Hermione was shocked. Usually they were both more careful about their amount of contact and it quite literally had her at a loss as she did hide her face against him with a few tears slipping down her cheeks.
[b "He does need to learn...and we had a right.. But it's just we were told to stick together and well..."] Usually she was much better in means of having her thoughts in order. Usually she could at least speak coherently, but she was still trying to regain heraelf. And instead listened to Harry's words as her hand was in his. [b "I'm always on your side too...and that's true...Only Umbridge seems to like to cross...maybe we can even go for that walk we wanted?"] Silly of her to ask, but Hermione figured it woulr at least give them a chance to clear their heads and relax a bit.
It was a shock to see their head of house standinf before her desk and waiting for them. And when Harry took the seat before the woman, the brown eyed girl too sat but her eyes were on her lap. Even in all that was said and being told they weren't in trouble, she was still inwardly shaking and feeling as if they were. Only when the letter had been mentioned did her gaze come up and her mouth was opened in shock. [b "Professor?"] The girl whispered but it was all she could get out.
Her hand that was still in Harry's gave it a small squeeze. She was going to tell the woman what they had done. After all, it seemed she was trying to find out more on Umbridge and would need the help. [b "There is a cat plate in her office hidden among the others...It's of two orange tabbied playing with a red ball...That plate should also have some answers for you.."]
The woman looked at the two, the faintest hin of a smirk on her lips. [i "I'll look into it. But for now I suggest the two of you get going. These are for you and do try and stay out of trouble for the rest of the day."] McGonagall said as she handed them both excemption letters for potions, dimissing them.
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