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Harry found himself wishing the house-elf had stayed. He grabbed his own glass of water and took a gulp, willing his cheeks to go back to their pasty colour. [b "Everything smells delicious,"] he changed the subject, piling food onto his plate.
Curse Sirius and his need to poke at them. Harry had been content to bury any potential romantic feelings towards his friend. Then the mischievous Marauder had to go and plant these ideas in his head. [i Thanks for nothing, Sirius,] the boy grumbled internally.
It wasn't helping at all that the oversize-fireplace was casting a warm glow across her features. This girl that he had come to trust more than anyone else was the only constant in his life. No matter how much he screwed up, she had been right there to help. Unfortunately, the same could not be said for their redheaded friend.
Realizing he was staring, Harry snagged another bite of roasted chicken and looked anywhere but her. No need to be obvious. He wouldn't want to make her uncomfortable. [i Keep it together, Potter], his conscience ordered him.
[b "I don't suppose I've kept my promise of behaving today, have I? I'm sorry if I dragged you into any trouble,"] he broke the silence. [b "I just can't believe the Ministry is going this far to denounce last year. I guess the most we can do is make the best of it, right? I promise I'll behave more tomorrow,"] he held out his pinky with a grin, waiting for her to lock her own around it.
The two of them had never been tense around the other or even awkward before. But in those moments it seemed to weigh in the air between them. When had that started? Hermione was trying to trace it but the only thing she could think of was back at headquarters and after...Sirius... As soon as that realization hit, her cheeks turned even redder and the heat rose. Which was perfect timing for Harry to notice it.
[b "I...Harry I'm fine."] She tried to say it but before she could the boy had felt her forehead and cheeks and also went to get a glass of water. It was nice of him, but it made her feel a little awkward that he saw the need to look after her like that. Usually she was the one looking after him and Ron. A small smile came to her lips as she slowly took a sip from the water. [b "Thank you."]
Her eyes fell on the boy and she bit on her lip. [b "Are you sure you're okay?"] She asked as she noticed the slight red in his cheeks. Slowly she got up before Dobby returned and brought him a glass of water. [b "You should drink too.."] And once more she took her seat, looking to the little elf as Harry gestured to him. With a smile, the girl took the plates from him.
[b "Did you want to join us, Dobby?"] Hernione asked as she then looked over to Harry.
Dobby looked between the two teenagers and it seemed as if he was putting pieces of a puzzle together. The little house-elf then shook his head. [i "No, Dobby thanks you for the kind offer. But Dobby has other duties to attend. If Harry Potter and Missus Granger needs anything else call for Dobby."] And with that he was gone again
If it was just Ron and his Hufflepuff partner, Harry wasn't too worried that he'd get in much trouble. [b "Ron might even convince her to join us,"] he joked, reaching for a brownie that was on a plate in front of them.
There was a few moments of awkward silence, aside from listening to the elves gather food. Harry wasn't quite sure about the sudden change in atmosphere surrounding him and Hermione, but he knew it had something to do with whatever had been brewing between them the past few days. Tension, maybe?
[b "Are you okay? You look a little red,"] he noticed her flushed complexion.
Reaching out a hand, he presses the back of it to her cheek and then forehead, testing for a fever. [b "You're a little warm. Should I get you something?"]
Without waiting for an answer, he rose from the chair and crossed to the sink to fill a glass with water. [b "Here, drink it. You may be dehydrated after the stress of the day. I don't want you to get sick."]
It surprised him that none of this felt odd. It came naturally to worry about her, and want to protect her. With Ron, it wouldn't have been a concern. Now Harry's face felt warm. [b "Dobby's back,"] he quickly uttered, gesturing to the small house-elf with stacks of plates in his hands.
The closeness distracted her a little more than she would have liked to admit as the two made their was through the empty halls. It took her back to the Ancient House of Black just the night before and how comfortable that had been. Somehow the time being spent so close had her picturing that. But she had to shake her head to clear her thoughts before they could wander elsewhere. Friends, they were just friends. Though she did want more or at least wondered what them being a couple would be like. Her thoughts caused her cheeks to become a bright pink as her mind had done what she had been trying to avoid.
When they got to the kitchen, Harry called out to Dobby and removed the cloak. Brown eyes fell on the little house elf and she offered him a small smile. She still had it in her head that they were treated horribly and wanted to do something to help. Only thing was her last attemp hadn't quite gone well. They had tried to tell her they didn't mind it, which had left her thoroughly confused. It still did really as other elves were hovering around when Dobby had left them as if waiting for either Harry or Hermione to give them something to do.
Hermione gave the boy a small smile as she took the seat he had held out for her. [b "The funny part about that is..given that we really haven't eaten much today it would be welcome."] The words were soft and she looked down, avoiding his gaze as she realized what she said.
[b "If a prefect comes to check and make sure students haven't sneaked down here.. It's Ron and the Hufflepuff Prefect. They were assigned the kitchens after mine and Malfoy's shift."] The bushy haired girl was trying to change the subject and found her hand running over her injured one.
Harry grinned and covered them both with the cloak. [b "I knew I could count on you. This is why you're my favourite."]
They moved quietly through the corridors to make sure they weren't discovered. Being in such close quarters to her was more than just a slight distraction. He could breathe in her shampoo and it relaxed him more than anything else could. He tried not to let it show just how at ease he was, pressed close to her like that.
Harry checked that the coast was clear and tugged her in to the confines of the kitchen, where several houseelves were cleaning. [b "Dobby?"] he called out, slipping the cloak off.
A high squeal reached their ears and the bubbling little creature appeared before them in a rush. [i "Mr Harry Potter, sir! And Missus Granger! What an honor it is,"] Dobby attempted to bow, but Harry intercepted and lifted his head.
[b "No bowing to us. We're friends, Dobby. You don't bow to anyone anymore,"] he smiled at his little friend.
Dobby smiled bashfully and gestured for them to sit at the large table in the middle of the kitchen. [i "Dobby assumes you are here for a snack, sir. Dobby will get you food!"]
[b "You don't have to rush,"] Harry tried calming him, but the houseelf was moving in a flurry. [b "I have a feeling we're going to be eating enough for an army,"] he looked to Hermione, pulling her chair out for her.
The tension around the nurse was strong as they told her what had happened. And the muttering told both Harry and Hermione that the woman was not at all pleased. In fact, Hermione half expected the nurse to near go mama bear and hunt Professor Umbridge down. When it didn't happen and they were told to tell Professor McGonagall the girl only nodded. She hoped that perhaps something would be able to be down about the pink nightmare.
[b "Thanks Madam Pomfrey."] She said as the woman retreated to her office and was clearly done with her and Harry. Her hand still stung but it was better than it had been. A sigh slipped her lips and she shook her head. An eventful first day and night back. Even more so than the start of the last year. It almost had the prefect girl wondering what else would be coming their way if their first day was already so hellish.
Quickly she had to push that thought out of her head and looked to the cloak Harry was pulling out of his bag again. She knew they SHOULD behave and go to the common room and off to bed but she was hungry. After all, both she and Harrt had not had a proper meal that night. [b "Actually breaking one more rule doesn't sound too bad. Getting food and then back to Gryffindor Tower and to bed. We have early classes tomorrow."] She reminded him as she took the cloak from him and threw it over the both of them.
Harry gave her a wince of sympathy. [b "I don't think I'd wish that on my worst enemy."] He paused. [b "Actually, scratch that. Malfoy and Voldemort deserve to be miserable together."]
He threw an arm around her shoulders and squeezed lightly. [b "All is well now. You're in better company. From what I'm told, I'm rather famous,"] he joked as the moved along.
In the Hospital Wing, he thought for sure that Madam Pomfrey was going to storm off after Umbridge once they'd told her what happened. As she properly applied healing salve and bandages, she grumbled under her breath about Ministry employees being scoundrels. [i "You make sure Professor McGonnagal sees these,"] she looked to them both sternly. [i "I don't want this undocumented. Torturing students like this. On day one, nonetheless!"]
She stomped off to her office, leaving them in the dark medical bay. [b "We have two options. We can either be good students who go back to their common room and get to bed, or we can use my cloak to go get food from the kitchens, seeing as we haven't had a proper meal this evening."]
He tugged the cloak from his bag and gave her a wicked grin. [b "What do you say, Prefect Granger? Break another rule with me?"]
The girl couldn't help the squeal and laugh as she was hoisted of the ground and thrown over only what she could guess to be her best friend's shoulder as his still had the cloak on. If it had been anyone else she would have demanded that they stop and set her back down, but she loved the times that they could be carefree. [b "Bet they would love that."] She said, her words obviously amused as the game was kept up for a few moments more and then she was back on the ground.
Brown eyes locked in Harry and she gave him a mocking glare. [b "And just how much did you see?"] She had joined him for a moment before the cloak was placed back in the bag and she fell into step beside him. Het hand had come up to rub the side of her head as she gave the boy at her side a faint smile and nod. She was surprised he even had to ask as it was Malfoy after all.
[b "He was on about Quidditch and what his father bought for the team, talking about how rumours are spreading about us...and also making me deal with most the others. He's really a headache and I can't believe he's a prefect."] The girl said with a groan. She didn't mean to rant but she was tired enough for one night.
After she realized what she said, Hermione's cheeks turned a bright pink and she looked away. [b "I'm sorry for the rant..."] And once more she fell into silence as soon they reached the Hospital Wing and Madam Pomfrey who began asking them what happened as she set to helping them.
Staying silent, Harry waited until Draco had rounded the corner and was out of sight before turning to his next victim. Hermione clearly knew he was there, but he still wanted to have some fun. Lurching forward, with his cloak still on, he hoisted her over his shoulder.
[b "Imagine how odd it would be for someone to walk by and see you floating in mid-air like this. They'd probably think Hermione Granger had gone crazy and jinxed herself,"] he spoke with an innocent tone.
He kept the game up for another few moments before placing her back on her feet and removing his cloak. [b "Did you know that you were floating in the air, just then? Surprised the hell out of me when I saw it,"] he played dumb.
Stuffing the cloak back in his bag, he set them off towards the Hospital Wing. [b "Was he talking the whole two hours you were patrolling? I could hear him four corridors away,"] he exaggerated. [b "At least detention with Snape gave me some peace and quiet. You've had an evening of headaches."]
Having Harry left to Professor Snape after they had "tended" to the residue of their last detention left the girl on edge. She knew that the Potion's Master could be harsh but hoped for her friend's sake it wasn't as hellish as Umbridge. Her mind was more on what could be going on in the dungeon but she was still aware enough of the patrol and reminding students they had to be back to their common rooms. Honestly the night and hours seemed to go on and on. Half of the watch Draco was complaining about how dull it was or making her be the one to deal with the students. It was a nightmare as he still was mocking her for how she and Harry seemed to be together.
Only was she putting up with it because she didn't have the energy to argue with him. She was still tired from the night before, classes, and her hand was throbbing. [b "You know what Draco, I think I see a couple over there snogging. Why don't you go and tell them they have to stop and they must be back to their respective houses before curfew?"] She asked, earning a glare from the Malfoy but he did it.
When the pair was almost done, Hermione was stuck walking with him and listening to all the new Quidditch equipment his father had apparently bought the Slytherin team. Honestly she was tuning him out or was until he fell face first onto floor. Hermione had to bite back a laugh as she reached out a hand to the boy which he only smacked away. [i "How dare you trip me like that? Watch yourself Granger."] Malfoy said as he scrambled to get up and soon took off.
She waited until the blonde terror was far away from them before she laughed and shook her head. There was no way she had tripped him and no way he was that clumsy. [b "Harry that was horrible. But I was close to hitting him. So thanks. Ready to get going?"] The bushy haired brunette asked as she shifted her bag on her shoulder and waited for Harry to remove the cloak. If she was talking to the air then she really was out of it, but somehow she didn't think she was.
[b "I solemnly swear that I will come find you so that we can go to the Hospital Wing together,"] he smiled softly. [b "But if I have to drink anything gross, I'm blaming you, and I expect a pile of sweets to make up for it."]
Harry made sure their bandages were secured before going back to the hall. He hesitated. On one hand, he knew he had to meet Professor Snape for detention. On the other, he didn't want to leave Hermione after such an awful experience. [b "I'll come find you right away. Don't put up with anyone's attitude,"] he advises her, stepping backwards as he spoke.
He forced himself not to look back as he headed in the direction of the dungeons. Snape was waiting for him, motioning silently to the cupboards caked with dust that Harry was to clean out. Not as harsh as their previous punishment. It was almost a relief.
The hours ticked by painfully, both from the throbbing ache of his hand, and the dullness of the detention. [b "I'm finished, Professor,"] Harry grumbled, dropping the rag back into the bucket of soapy water.
A pain in the ass as always, Snape moved to drag a finger over the top of one of the cupboards. [i "I'd advise against a career as a custodian, Potter. It'll have to do, however. You're dismissed."]
It was nearing curfew but Harry hurried through the dimly lit corridors in search of the Gryffindor prefect. He'd come across the Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw duo, who were quick to remind him of the time. [b "I'm going, I promise,"] he lied, turning away to continue his search.
Pausing in an abandoned corridor, he laughed. [b "How dumb can I be,"] he muttered to himself, pulling his neatly folded cloak from his bag that he'd forgotten he had packed away that morning.
Confidently invisible, he trekked on. When he finally spied Hermione and Malfoy ahead, he decided to have a little fun. He could hear Malfoy's sneering voice bragging about some kind of new Quidditch equipment that his father had generously purchased for the Slytherin team. Getting into place, Harry knelt down and waited for them to get closer before reaching out and grabbing Malfoy's ankle, causing him to faceplant.
Hermione couldn't help wincing a little as Harry tried to help clean the engraved words in her pale hand and it didn't want to stop bleeding. The gargoyle really had done a number on both of them. [b "I can't believe she even thinks something like this would be okay..this is a punishment of torture and one that had been used in the dark ages. You're right...we have to talk to someone and see if something can be done."] The girl said quietly as her own hand had been wrapped with the cloth and she began to help Harry with hers.
She didn't want to make that promise but knew that he would only push her until she agreed to it. Slowly, brown eyes came to meet green as she had wrapped his raw and tender hand as well. [b "I'll only promise that if you promise to come find me after. I'll take you to Madam Pomfrey so that way Malfoy or one of the others can't dock more points. Besides...I want to see what advice we both can be given if any to hide these."] She said, holding up her injured hand.
Harry wasted no time pushing his chair back and grabbing Hermione's non-injured hand to drag her from the room. [b "She's mad. Absolutely insane. If she's the representative of the Ministry, I'd hate to see what the rest of them are like,"] he grumbled as they walked as far from the room as they could get.
He ducked them down a short hallway, calling out from the doorway before pushing the heavy door open to pull her inside. It was a boy's bathroom, but thankfully empty. After ensuring the door is well locked, he led her to the sinks. [b "This might sting,"] he wet a cloth and then held it over her cut flesh.
The blood was wiped away but returned as soon as the cloth was lifted. [b "We'll have to make some kind of paste to put on this to fight infection,"] he murmured quietly, holding her hand carefully as he dabbed at the words engraved in her pale skin.
He looked up to catch her eye. It hurt to see the glassy appearance of unshed tears, and he pulled her into a hug. [b "We can go to Dumbledore. Maybe there's something he can do about this."]
Pulling back, he grabbed a dry cloth to wrap around her hand. [b "Not a very good bandage, but it'll have to do until you can get to the Hospital Wing. Promise you'll go before your patrol? Mine will have to wait until after my next detention."]
By the tenth line, her hand was near howling her from the pain of it. But she still didn't say anything as tears stung her eyes. The girl was trying her best not to show how it affecting her, knowing that it could set Harry off. Her best friend was already in enough trouble that she couldn't let him get into more. Not because of her at least.
As the lines went on, the more blood began to dribble onto the desk. And the louder the humming of the pink nightmare seemed to grow in her ears. Of course she was being silly, but the annoyance was grating on her nerves. She could not think how someone could be so cold and enjoy to cause pain. Well Voldemort, but others especially a ministry official. Slowly did she allow her eyes to come up and see the smug little smile that never faultered from Umbridge's lips as she read from the text book she had given them.
After what seemed forever, the woman stood and came to check on their progress in their lines. Her hand was raw and still bleeding by the time the woman came and snatched her wrist to see it. Almost emotionless brown eyes came up to the woman and she nodded. [b "Yes, Professor."] It was all she said, but in the back of her mind she was thinking on finding someone who might be able or willing to actually teach them.
[i "The two of you seem to have learned. So you may leave. See you next class."] The woman said, smile never faltering as she watched both Harry and Hermione gather their things and leave
Harry's jaw was beginning to twitch with how hard he was clenching his teeth. He lowered himself back into his seat and picked up the quill. He did his best not to glance towards Hermione, already feeling sick from the tears welling in her eyes. He felt a hated towards Umbridge that he had only felt towards Voldemort until that moment.
He took deep breaths to try and ease the pain as the words etched deeper in to his skin. Blood leaked out and dribbled onto the desk. He pushed the thoughts of pain aside and focused on getting the lines done.
Umbridge began humming by his thirtieth line. Harry looked up at her smug smile as she read from one of her Ministry books. He wanted nothing more than to curse her into oblivion. He spared a look of apology towards Hermione, hoping that she was holding up alright.
It seemed like the parchment went on forever. Their professor's humming grated on his nerves more than the punishment was. His skin was raw and throbbing by the time she cleared her throat and stood. [i "Let me see your progress,"] she spoke as she came to stand in front of them.
She held her hand out and took Harry's in her grasp, examining the bleeding words shining back at her. [i "Maybe this will remind you to know your place, Mr Potter,"] she snipped, dropping his hand and grabbing Hermione's. [i "And you, Miss Granger? I trust this has been a valuable lesson."]
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