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Harry did his best not to laugh at Ron's suspicious glare towards the potted plant. The redhead was rightfully wary, seeing as the last time they'd had a run in with Devil's Snare, they'd been eleven years old and getting strangled by it. He swore that Ron was grumbling threats to it as he carefully groomed it with pruning shears.
[b "What if we snuck some of this into Umbridge's office and let it get her out of the way for us?"] Harry murmured to Hermione, mostly joking.
He could picture it now. Umbridge in all of her gaudy pink glory waltzing in to her office, only to be trapped and suffocated by large vines strategically placed around the room. He doubted the woman knew that Lumos would save her; there was nothing light about Dolores Umbridge, including her knowledge of spells.
[b "Maybe even hide some in the Slytherin common room,"] he continued picturing their petty revenge. [b "Give Malfoy a real reason to whine to his father. Can't you see it?"] He forced his voice into a mocking parody of Draco. [b "Father! This joke of a school tried to kill me with botanical gardens!"]
Him jumping like he did didn't do much in the way of reasuring her that he was okay. It seemed to her like he was really bothered by something. Sure a small smile had come to his lips but it did not meet his eyes. [b "I am holding you to it, Harry.."] Hermione whispered but it was the only words she could get out before their professor came bounding in with her usual energy.
The girl listened to what they were told and looked to the plants. After their first year, she had never quite been fond on the Devil's Snare. But she knew they had to do this if they expected to one get a grade and two had any hope at house points. All she hoped was it was not going to lose it and try and ensnare them again.
[b "Trust me I will. Either that or we can always have Professor Sprout save us. That way she's the one killing her plant and not us."] The girl whispered with a small smile. And after she had apoken, Hermione began to work with the plant they had been given and gave both Harry and Ron a look as if saying it shouldn't bite them.
Harry jumped slightly as her hand made contact with his. He'd gotten lost in his thoughts. He tightened his grip on her hand in return, wanting to reassure her. A small smile graced his face. [b "I'm okay, I promise."] [i You also promised not to lie to her, Potter,] he scolded himself internally. [b "Just in my head. I'll tell you later,"] he added.
Thankfully he didn't have a chance to say anything more before Professor Sprout burst through the open door with her usual boisterous energy. [i "Good afternoon, class!"] she called loudly, as though they weren't only a few feet away.
The students mumbled through their own greetings. [i "As you can see, today is a review of what you learned last year. I'm going easy on you, so don't say I never do anything to help you,"] she threw them a smile. [i "Devil's Snare, as you all remember, is very sensitive to fertilization and pruning in its young stage. You are to complete the task of trimming your plant and properly fertilizing the soil with the mixture I've already put together for you. Don't kill my plants!"] she aimed a warning finger at them.
[b "After first year, I'd rather not help any kind of Devil's Snare grow,"] Harry muttered to Ron and Hermione with a smirk. [b "Keep your wand handy, Hermione, we may need a Lumos rescue again."]
Ron didn't seem all that impressed with them and their teasing but at least he knew how to throw it back at them. And with his words, the girl rolled her eyes. [b "It wasn't that old Ronald. Looking into fashions it was about twenty. So give the poor robes a break."] The bushy haired girl said with a sparkling in her eyes.
When they came to the green house, the girl was surprised to see that she had been right in what they were to be working with. But it was nice that would be easy. Their bags were under the table and they had the heavy aprons over their robes which she hated. And soon everyone were at their usual tables. All that was left was to wait for their professor to arrive and to tell them what she was expecting them to do.
Brown eyes moved to Harry as he was more quiet and seemed to be staring at his shoes. Without thinking, the girl's hand moved into his and gave a small squeeze. [b [i "You okay..?"]] She whispered as she was worried about him.
Ron mocked their laughing. [i "Say what you want, I pulled that frilly nightmare off. At the time it was brutal, but looking I think I looked rather charming. Not everyone can wear maroon robes that are fifty years old."]
[b "I'm sure your ancestors were very proud,"] Harry rolled his eyes.
Inside of the greenhouse, they all shrugged on the thick leather aprons over their uniform. The protective gloves were waiting at their stations, and as Hermione anticipated, pots of infant Devil's Snare vines were in place. The trio took their usual spots around the large work table, waiitng for their professor to arrive.
While they waited, Harry couldn't help but stare at his shoes. [i It's hard to have feelings for someone and them to not even know you exist.] Her words echoed in his head. Had he ever made her feel that way? He knew things were rocky in first year, but since then she'd pretty much always had his attention. Especially after second year, having watched her frozen body lie in the Hospital Wing for half a semester. The idea that she could have ever thought he never noticed her made his stomach twist in knots.
The girl wasn't sometimes sure if Ron even realised that she was a girl at times. It was the way he talked and acted that had the girl questioning. But hearing even him speak up made her smile a little. [b "It depends how you want to look at it. In the emotional sense I would her. It's hard to have feelings for someone and them to not even know you exist.. But when it comes to an annoyance standpoint.. Then I would the bouncing ferret because she is ALWAYS pining and chasing after him."] Her words were soft as she spoke them.
Her cheeks flushed a dark red as she heard Harry's added words. He had told her that she had looked beautiful and that he wished that they would have gone to the Ball together last year. But she had not known that was what he had really thought. Almost did she ask the boy if he really meant it, but Ron cut in and made jokes over his dress robes.
And again the two were like brothers with the banter that went back and forth between them. Listening actually made her forget about Pansy and Draco. [b "Dun't think any one should have had that much lace. Kind of made me jealous too."] Hermione teased, her spirits much better thanks to the boys
[i "Don't even worry about them, Hermione,"] Ron assured her. [i "Pansy's just jealous that you have two guys that actually enjoy spending time with you. I bet she has to pay Draco to put up with her. Truthfully, I don't know who I feel more sorry for, her or the ferret."]
Harry snorted a laugh. [b "Not to mention how you out-shined the other girls at the Yule Ball. Half of them are probably still talking about how beautiful you looked. I'm sure it riled Pansy and the other Slytherin girls right up."]
The words hit his ears as they spilled out of his mouth. He clamped down on his tongue to keep from saying anything further, spotting Ron's smirk over Hermione's head. [b "Shut up,"] Harry mouthed silently to him.
The redhead rolled his eyes and looked forward once more. [i "I don't mean to brag, but I looked pretty good in those frilly robes. Those girls are probably disappointed they didn't get a chance to dance with me last year. My looks can be intimidating,"] he joked.
[b "I think they were more angry that your robes had more lace than their dresses did. Not nice for a boy's robes to be prettier,"] Harry taunted in return.
Brown eyes rolled at the comments both the Slytherins used. Apparently they were still implying she was a whore and liked to play with the hearts of her two best friends. Honestly they had been using those lines since third year and she thought that the lines since they were older would get better. [b "Coming from two half-wits I suppose I really can't take it seriously."] Hermione muttered. But before Parkinson or Malfoy could say anything, Ron amd Harry had literally jumped to her defense.
It wasn't like she needed them too. Though admittedly, Pansy's words had hit something in jer much harder then they should have. And she was trying not to let it show, though tears did sting her eyes. The girl hated how easily it seemed certain comments got under her skin or got to her. [b "Thanks you two..."] Hermione whispered to Ron and Harry as they were side-stepping the Slytherins and starting on their way again to class.
But those had been the only words she spoke, falling silent. Though she shouldn't have been, Hermione was thinking about Pansy's words. MAYBE she could try just a little more. And it was with that thought did a sigh slip from her.
Harry's mood noticeably soured the second he saw the Slytherin goons walking towards them. [b "No promises,"] he muttered to Hermione out of the corner of his mouth.
As expected, nothing original was thrown their way. Malfoy and Pansy were using recycled lines that they never seemed to upgrade, looking to get a rise out of them. Still, he could practically hear Ron's teeth grinding together. [b "McLaggen is nursing wounded pride, and if he wants to keep his spot at tryouts, he might want to reconsider who he bitches to,"] Harry spoke lowly.
Hearing Pansy's comments, anger swirled in his chest. Ron, however, barked out a laugh. [i "Are you serious?"] he looked the Slytherin girl up and down. [i "Maybe we like her because she isn't wearing a pound of makeup caked on to her face, or trailing after the ferret here hoping to get some attention. Self-respect is an admirable quality."]
Pansy's glare narrowed further. [i "What the hell does that mean, Weasley?"]
[b "It means that your pathetic attempts to get Malfoy to notice you are tragic, given that he's never looked at anyone with love that he didn't see in a mirror,"] Harry snapped. [b "Ron and I appreciate classic beauty, not the several layers of powder and paint you used this morning."]
Tugging Hermione and Ron along, he side-stepped the Slytherins. [b "By the way, Pansy, your face and neck are two different colours."]
The two boys really did act like brothers and after the talk they had been having it was comical and a relief. It made things feel normal and not at all as dark and dreary as things were going to get. And it was that thought that made the girl inwardly cringe. She and Harry would have to fill their red haired friend in on the new information that they had found out.
[b "Ron you know that's not true. Your mum would not let any of you starve or not eat. May scold you a bit but then give you food. Remember how many times she did back at Grimmauld Place."] The bushy haired girl said as she gave a roll of her eyes. Again she was trying to be as normal as she could be.
Her eyes soon fell on Malfoy and Parkinson and she shook her head, her hands moving into both Harry's and Ron's. [b "Whatever he says...don't give him the satisfaction.."] Hermione whispered to the two boys, keeping her hands tightly wrapped around theirs.
[i "So McLaggen says that Granger has both of you wrapped around her finger. Seeing the three of you like this proves the point."] Malfoy said with a smirk.
Parkinson laughed at Draco's words, dark eyes going to Hermione. [i "Pity you two could always do so much better than this little mudblood. She's not even that pretty. So how she has you both is beyond me."]
[b "We've conquered the Shrieking Shack while entirely sober, so it should be a piece of cake to go inside while a bit under the influence,"] he joked. [b "Slap some paint on it and it's almost a spa retreat."]
Ron caught up with them near the Great Hall, toting his bag in one hand, and balancing two muffins in the other. [b "Those for us?"] Harry reached out to grab one.
The redhead pulled them back and licked the tops of each muffins to claim them as his. [i "As if! I snuck down to the kitchens to get these since my break was cut short for rounds. You should have thought to get food."]
It was almost impressive how quickly he managed to stuff his face with each blueberry muffin. He didn't so much as chew them as he did shove it in his mouth to pack down in order to take another bite. [b "Do you think his jaw unhinges to eat, like a snake?"] Harry teased, grinning at Hermione. [b "Maybe that's his special talent."]
Ron tried making a comeback but only managed to choke on the mouthful of food. [b "Alright, don't hurt yourself,"] Harry smacked him on the back until his airway cleared and he was able to take deep breaths.
[i "I have five older brothers. If you don't eat fast in my house, you don't eat,"] he remarked.
After them talking like they had and those carefree moments, Hermione was feeling much better. And she had Harry to thank for that. The boy never knew how much he truly did help her and she wished she had the courage to tell him. Only a little had she told him when they spoke of themselves in the third person. But it had to be enough for now as she was still so new to the idea that he actually felt the same about her that she did him.
[b "I think she is giving us some repeat lessons to keep things easy. This time I think flytraps and devil snare. Professor Sprout doesn't trust Umbridge and so wants to make sure it is something all of us can manage."] Hermione said as she had been pulled up and the last tears stains wiped away by Harry's sleeve.
[b "Honestly I'm looking forward to it. We really just need the day away from school. And some firewhisky to help us forget."] The girl teased as she nudged him and took his hand as they made their way down to the greenhouses.
Harry looked down at their hands and extended his out in front of them to look at it. [b "Hawaii might test the pastiness of English skin. We'd better invest in the strongest sunblock on the market. But I'm willing to burn if it means seeing the ocean in actual warm weather."]
Time was running out to hang around in peace and quiet. Soon enough they'd be wandering down to Herbology to attempt keeping whatever plant Professor Sprout had gotten them alive. As long as they weren't Mandrakes again, they might actually be successful. Well, he and Ron at least. Hermione rarely made mistakes in Herbology.
Rising to his feet, Harry grabbed her hand and hauled her up with him. [b "No more tears,"] he playfully scolds, wiping the remaining tear stain from her cheek with his sleeve. [b "Umbridge certainly isn't worth it. And tomorrow is Hogsmead. We'll get away from the castle and enjoy the cloudy skies and crowded shops. And don't forget the firewhisky mission,"] he grinned at her.
[b "I think we've certaintly had our fair share of both those things. So no I don't think the new adventures will have anything to do with mad dark wizards or pink hags of terror."] The girl said with a laugh and shake of her head.
Honestly anything would sound good to her as long as they did it together. It could be something really out there or something simple to a log cabin in the woods. All she wanted was for this nightmare to finally end and for once let them be their age and to relax. She didn't want to have to worry like this anymore.. No..she didn't want to watch Harry have to worry anymore.
[b Switzerland would be nice.. Actually getting to hide away and tp eat sweets would be. I could try and teach you to ski..but to be fair I'm not very good. Dad tried to teach me and when I landed on my bum for the tenth time I gave up and went to hide with my book by the fire in an armchair until mum and dad came back in."] The girl admitted, her cheeks flushing a bright pink. She had never told that to anyone and prayed he would not find her ridiculous for it.
Then when somewhere warm was mentioned, Hermione smile a smile only Harry ever saw. And as of late it had been less and less given. [b "We could always do Hawaii and lay on the beach and let the sun warm us and tan us... As to skydiving, I dun't think so. I hate heights."] The girl said and gave him a pout. Oh she knew he had been teasing her but the idea still scared her. It was silly because she could break school rules and fight evil wizards..but she could not do flying or heights.
He grinned. [b "As long as the adventure doesn't involve battling evil wizards or frightening women with pink obsessions, I think I'm up for just about anything you can suggest."]
Honestly, he'd even be happy to just get a large hotel room and sleep for the next six years. Nothing sounded more relaxing than sitting on a balcony overlooking a city they've never seen, gorging themselves on junk food, and feeling the weight of the world leave their shoulders.
[b "Maybe Switzerland, first. I'll buy a boat load of chocolate and we can hide out in the Alps so no one can find us. Not even Mrs Weasley's howlers would figure out where we are. You can teach me to ski,"] he bumped her shoulder with his. [b "I've heard you and your parents have done it before. You'll have to keep me from tumbling down the mountain like an idiot."]
Harry was more comfortable on a broomstick than anything else, but he'd be willing to try whatever she wanted to do. Heights weren't an issue for him, but the idea of strapping bits of lumber to his feet and propelling himself down the face of a mountain was a little daunting.
[b "After Switzerland, we'll do someplace warm, where we can go scuba diving. All the cliche things people have on their bucket lists. Maybe I can even get you to skydive,"] he issued a playful challenge.
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