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Ron looked between them, already knowing Harry's decision. [i "I've already beaten you twice tonight anyway. I could use the extra sleep. You two can sit and be nerds with your books,"] he joked. [i "Night."]
Harry stayed firmly where he was. He'd left her on her own once already tonight, and he was damned if he was going to do it again. He leaned back and rested his head against the couch, feeling the fire warming his feet. [b "Read as much as you'd like. I have my own book to occupy myself with."]
He'd been rereading the Quidditch book she'd gotten him the year before on his birthday, and it was his luck that it was still sitting in his bag by the edge of the couch. Stretching out on the now empty sofa facing her chair, he laid back and crossed his feet, the book settled on his stomach strategically so he could watch her without her knowing.
She looked exhausted. More so than he could ever remember seeing her. She wasn't even this stressed in second year while making the Polyjuice potion all on her own. She was starting to get shadows under her eyes, a clear indicator of how little rest she was actually getting. That weekend Harry was going to do everything in his power to show her a fun time so she could take her mind off of everything causing her distress. Namely the pink nightmare with a target on them.
[b "You think Madam Rosmerta will sneak us a couple drinks of firewhisky in Hogsmead? I bet if I pout enough, we might get something stronger than Butterbeer,"] he grinned.
The girl managed to rewrap her hand but was mentally kicking herself as she realized that Harry had seen a small part of it. And she could see his mind working and the guilt in his eyes. Well she could before he had looked away and refused to meet her gaze. [b "It would have only gotten you into more trouble...and she would have added even more lines. I don't blame you for not putting up the fight. That woman is more than exhausting.. So really, don't worry about it."] The girl tried. She only hoped he would listen and stop beating himself up over it.
Her eyes went to Ron as the boy spoke, a small smile coming to her lips. It was one of the most sensible things that he had said. That and she knew he was trying to help her get Harry to bed. Even if he still had ordered his Queen across the board. [i "You both know it's true..."] Ron tried again.
Hermione's eyes had gone back to her book after that and she stiffened. Ron would get bored and be off to bed. Harry on the other hand would not leave her and would stay if she did. She had learned that just last year. [b "Give me an hour and then I will go up to bed...but please you and Ron go.. It's late."] Hermione tried aa she slowly looked between the two boys, eyes lingering on Harry.
His stomach turned to knots once more as he caught sight of the bottom edge of her raw skin. She truly had gotten the worst of it tonight. Not for the first time, he considered marching over to Umbridge's office and unleashing all of his build up anger on her, cursing her into oblivion. This thought, however, only made him feel guilty. He didn't want to be like Umbridge or Voldemort. Hurting people isn't who he was.
When it came to Hermione, however, he was willing to make exceptions.
[b "I'm not worried about sleep right now,"] he answered. [b "I'm worried about you. I didn't want to go to bed before I made sure you were alright. I'm sorry that I wasn't more help when she kicked me out. I should have fought harder to stay."]
Harry still couldn't quite meet her eye. He felt horrible for having left her there. He was supposed to be the Boy Who Lived, unafraid of anything. Yet he allowed their professor to order him out without so much as fight.
[i "You'll both need sleep,"] Ron interjected, ordering his queen to move across the board. [i "Those hands will feel rough tomorrow, and it might take a while for you to even get comfortable enough to sleep with the pain."]
Harry looked to the girl beside him. [b "I'm only going to bed if you are. I am more than willing to sit here all night if that's what you're planning to do. I can see your brain overthinking from here."]
The girl had brushed off Ron's question by distracting him with the chess board, KNOWING he would be easily focused back on the game. That and she did like to play indirectly by helping Harry like she did. Brown eyes still never came up as their red haired friend grumbled and the other boy pointed out he still had not touched the board in the sing song voice.
Only did she look up when Harry was sitting right beside her and asking if she was alright. The girl knew that he had been worried and didn't mean for him to be. [b "It still stings quite a bit... but nowhere near as badly as it did earlier. And then you had Malfoy being his usual self. Making me deal with the other students as he watched..."] Hermione said quietly and looked to the salve tin that the boy had been holding.
Slowly she gave a faint smile and took the tin, unwrapping her hand and putting more on it. But she was quick to try and wrap it again so her friend wouldn't see it. She didn't even want to look at her cut into hand. [b "You best get some sleep soon..the gargoyle will want you before breakfast..."] The girl whispered, blushing as Ron had now taken to staring at the two of them.
The boys were in the midst of bickering over Harry's move, deemed 'cheating' by Ron. [b "You can't cheat in wizard's chess!"] he chucked the rook back at Ron. [b "We don't even touch the board."]
Ron was about to respond when they heard the portrait door open, and watched her walk in. [i "Alright, there?"] the redhead asked, forehead creased with worry as she sits with them.
In typical Hermione fashion, she brushed off his question by pointing out his next move on the board to Harry. [i "Well that's definitely cheating!"] Ron aimed an accusing finger.
Harry just smirked down at her and winked. [b "Still not touching the board,"] he replied in a sing-song voice before ordering his bishop to take the knight.
Leaving Ron to grumble and contemplate his next move, Harry slid onto the floor with her. [b "Seriously,"] he whispered. [b "Are you alright? I nearly followed you with the cloak again."]
He reached out to take her wounded hand, making sure that the bandage is still secured properly. Thankfully, it didn't appear to be bleeding through. [b "I have the salve if you need more,"] he turned hurriedly to snatch it off the arm of the chair. [b "I kind of...squeezed it a bit too hard,"] he held the misshapen tin in his hand.
If she could have gotten out of it, the girl would have avoided her patrol with Malfoy. Because when she got to the vile blonde he was smirking like the Chesire Cat. It was obvious he had heard what had happened and kept making remarks about how some should learn to keep quiet. Or that rules were there for a reason. Just about anything he could say to get under her skin, Malfoy was. Very clearly was he doing it on purpose to try and get a rise out of her so that he could go abd run to the gargoyle.
The minutes of the hour seemed even more muderously slow than was usual. And she had to constantly try and get her mind on ANYTHING just to block out her patrol partner. Malfoy was even so bad as to put the telling other students what to do on her just because he was enjoying seeing her miserable. In fact, he was being more a prat than was usual.
As soon as the hour was over, Hermione went back to Gryffindor Tower as quickly as she could. And it was when she slipped into the common room did she see Ron and Harry at a game of chess. A faint smile traced her lips as she went over to where they were sat with their game and took a seat on the floor, leaning against one of the chairs and had one of their class books in her lap. [b "Wouldn't make that move there. He's trying to set you up for an early pitfall.."] The girl said, not looking up from her book.
Harry opened his mouth to argue about her going off with Malfoy after being tortured for the last hour, but she was down the hall before he could form words. Gritting his teeth, he squeezed the tin can of salve in his fist until it began to dent. He didn't want her to think he didn't trust her, so he couldn't even get his cloak to follow her.
Ron was waiting in the common room when he returned, forehead already creased. [i "How bad this time?"] he asked.
Harry lifted his hand, which wasn't as agitated with the layer of ointment coating it. [b "Hermione got it worse. That gargoyle sent me away and gave her extra lines to write, so it was practically to the bone."]
Slumping into one of the leather chairs, he took his glasses off to rub his eyes. [b "The woman is clinically insane, Ron. Even Madam Pomfrey said that she's never seen punishments like this used in a school before. It's stuff I'd expect to see in Azkaban."]
Ron's face flashed with sympathy. [i "I shouldn't have questioned the two of you about being defiant with her. This is wrong. And now Hermione's off dealing with Malfoy for the next hour. She hasn't had the best day, has she?"]
Harry huffed a laugh. [b "Hasn't had a single good one yet, I'm afraid."] He paused and glanced at Ron. [b "Although I asked her to Hogsmead this weekend, so maybe that'll cheer her up a bit."]
The redhead pumped a fist dramatically in the air. [i "My little Harry's all grown up. I remember you being this high, like it was just yesterday,"] he pestered, holding his hand barely a foot off the ground.
Harry threw a pillow in his direction and reached for the chess board they'd stuffed under the couch. [b "Might as well kill time while we wait for her,"] he said while setting up the pieces.
The girl sat on one of the stools beside Harry as the nurse began to take care of the boy first and he explained what had happened. A faint smile did come to her lips as Madam Pomfrey said she would be talking to their head of house. It was nice to know that they weren't alone in dealing with the Ministry witch. But that didn't matter as it seemed that they REALLY did seem to be on the woman's list of enemies.
Her hand stung as the salve was gently applied to her own hand with the cuts. This time hurt so much more and she could not help visibly flinching. As much as she hated herself for it, there were times she couldn't hide pain or fatigue as well as she wished. [b "We're sorry Madam Pomfrey...she just seems to have it out for us.. Everytime she says something and we try and defend ourselves or each other this happens...Now she will be punishing us separately... As Harry said we don't know what he is getting tomorrow...or what she plans for me next time around.."] She said quietly, her eyes on her lap as the woman wrapped her hand.
Slowly she nodded as they had both been told that they would be expected to come to her if Umbridge did anything else that could harm them. She had nodded, but she would be reluctant to do it. And she winced as the bandaging was done tightly. [b "I will keep it covered...thank you.."] She said quitely, getting up as soon as the woman was done and let them free.
[b "I'll meet you later, Harry..."] Hermione whispered as the clock chimed eight and they were in the hall. She knew that their new personal hell would LOVE for Malfoy to turn her in for not making rounds. [b "Let Ron know what happened?"] She whispered and gave the boy a quick hug before she pulled back and hurried off.
Harry knew they were in for an interrogation the second they entered the Hospital Wing. Madam Pomfrey looked ready to skin Umbridge alive, already knowing that she had something to do with it. [b "Detention,"] Harry held up his left hand. [b "A wall,"] he held up the other.
[i "Stubborn and temperamental like your father, Mr Potter,"] she shook her head.
His broken knuckle felt instantly better after a spell cast, but the salve stung at the cuts on his other hand. He watched Hermione closely, waiting for any sign of the pain getting too much. Madam Pomfrey was surprisingly gentle with them this time around, taking pity on their extended torture at the hands of the Ministry witch.
[i "I'll not tolerate my students being maimed every other night. Merlin's sake, how can this be justified,"] she snapped, mostly speaking to herself. [i "Minerva will hear about this, I promise you both that. That woman has brought nothing but strife to this school. The Tournament last year was bad enough. This is inflicting deliberate harm on underage wizards."]
[b "She said my next detention will be different, but I won't find out what it is until tomorrow,"] Harry spoke. [b "Can I still come by if..."]
[i "Mr Potter, as much as I despise seeing you in my Hospital Wing as often as I do, I assure you that I expect you to come straight here if there is any harm done to you. Either of you,"] she nodded to Hermione.
She examined the cuts on Hermione's hand a little more closely. [i "You'll need this carefully wrapped, young lady. The salve will heal it, but these are deeper than before. Best to keep it covered to prevent infection."]
Her eyes had trailed to both of Harry's hands. [b "They both look bad.. you should have gone and gotten taken care of. I would have found you eventually."] Her words were soft as she spoke them. [b "And you are a bit..but one of the many things that make you so very you.."] The girl had not meant the words to be spoken but they had been.
When he gently began to wipe the oozing liquid from her hand and the deeply cut words, Hermione couldn't help nearly flinching back. She had to bite her lip to not let out any whines or whimpers either. [b "Don't worry about me.. I knew what I was getting into and should have known to keep my mouth shut.. But just the words she says and the way she says it.. It really gets under my skin as I know it does for you too.."] Again her words were spoken before she could fully think them out and pick which to put under filter and which to let slip out.
As soon as Harry picked up his own bag, Hermione shifted hers to her other shoulder and looked once more at his hands and her own. This time she would probably need something more than the slave. [b "You're right..best be getting to Madam Pomfrey and then I've got to meet Malfoy.."] She said with a roll of her eyes as the two began towards the hospital wing.
[i "What happned to the pair of you?"] Madam Pomfrey gave both Harry and Hermione a pointed look when the two came in and her eyes were drawn to their hands. The woman was quick to mend Harry's broken knuckle and to start cleaning both their cuts. She was waiting for one of the two teens to speak and explain it to her.
Harry's head snapped up at the sound of footsteps. Hurrying to his feet, he felt a wave of relief when he saw it was her. [b "I wasn't about to leave you to go by yourself,"] he scoffed at the idea.
Feeling her take his hand, the pain of what he'd done came back. Now both hands felt like hell. [b "You know me,"] he spoke quietly. [b "Always a hot head,"] he tried to brush it off.
He took the opportunity to exam her own hand, raw and oozing blood from the deep wounds. [b "She did a number on you tonight,"] his tone was low and sad, reaching in his pocket to grab the handkerchief he'd stored, knowing what they would be dealing with.
As delicately as he could, he placed the cloth on top of the bleeding words, trying to soak up some of the dripping liquid. [b "I'm sorry I wasn't in there with you,"] he couldn't quite meet her eye.
With the pain in both of his hands, and her own wound needing tending to, Harry reached down to grab his bag. [b "We'd better get to Madam Pomfrey. You might need a bit more than just salve for that."]
As soon as she heard Harry start to speak, more like argue with the woman her eyes snapped up. She was about to try and stop him and tell the boy she had gotten herself into it. But Umbridge had already engaged Harry and he was no longer going to take it. And that was when the woman fell silent and looked between the two of them. It was the look that visibly had Hermione flinch as a gleam filled the woman's eyes. The pink devil then proceeded to tell the pair that she would punish them separately because she did not want them to feed off the other.
Brown eyes locked with green when the boy looked at desparetly. The look was one that said she would be fine and find him after. She did not want him to get into anymore trouble. Especially not because of her.
[i "If you want to make your rounds you best get started. Or rather start your lines again. There isn't much time left and the clock is ticking, Miss Granger."] The woman said as her cool look came back to the girl.
Hermione gave the woman a cool look of her own. It was VERY tempting to open her mouth again. But she had gotten the hint that if she did Harry would be suffering in the morning. So she snapped her eyes back to the parchment and wrote the lines. She was again thinking on how to do the Defense class they had in mind and the futures she and Harry had talked about. She NEEDED to distract her mind because the sheering pain in her hand was starting to really get to her.
About half an hour later, the girl packed her bag and turned the lines into the crazy devil woman. She could no longer feel her hand and had her sleeve wrapped around it. As soon as she could, the bushy haired brunette left the class room and began to roam the hall. But it had not taken long for her to turn the corner that Harry was waiting around. [b "Harry? I thought you would have gone to Madame Pomfrey to get your hand..."] Before she finished, the girl saw the swelling of his knuckles and slowly lifted his hand. [b "What did you do?"] She asked, brown eyes looking up at him as she bit on her lip.
Harry's teeth ground together as he listened to the exchange. Umbridge seemed the thrive on getting responses from them, eager to dish out more punishment. The woman was certifiably insane. [b "We may be children, but we have more experience fighting the dark arts than you could possibly imagine, sitting behind your cozy desk at the Ministry,"] Harry spat out, infuriated that she was making Hermione suffer for speaking the truth.
The piercing eyes turned on him. [i "I suggest, boy, that you think twice before questioning the Ministry's resolve to fight enemies of our world. We fight real threats, not fairy tales made up by fame-seeking little boys and girls who delve into threats of the past in hopes to get another article in the newspapers."]
[b "I suppose Cedric Diggory dropped dead of his own accord then,"] he argued.
[i "Cedric Diggory's death was a tragedy, but could easily have been caused by an underlying medical issue that he was not aware of. The stress of the Tournament could have put too much strain on his body, and he succumbed to it. There is absolutely no evidence whatsoever that the Dark Lord returned and murdered the boy,"] she clicked her tongue as if to say the argument was over.
[b "There's plenty of evidence if you got off your high horse to see it,"] he growled.
Umbridge went silent and gave a slight tilt of her head. [i "You know something, I think the two of you feed off of each other. I think the only solution is to punish you separately. That way, I'll have none of this talking back to defend each other. Miss Granger, you are to remain here to finish your lines. Mr Potter, you are dismissed, and I will see you first thing in the morning to discuss your next punishment. I'm not sure the lines are working to silence your lies."]
[b "I'm not leaving Herm-"] he began, only to be silenced with a wave of Umbridge's wand.
She'd actually used a spell on a student, he thought, trying to force words and only finding silence. [i "I said, you are dismissed Mr Potter,"] she repeated looking all too pleased with herself. [i "Any more attempts to fight with me will only result in Miss Granger writing additional lines. I don't think you want to add to that."]
Harry looked desperately at Hermione. He didn't want to leave her here, but he also didn't want to be the cause of more pain for her. In a fury, he gathered his bag and stormed towards the door into the hallway. He strode just around the corner before dropping his bag. He turned and punched the wall without thinking, feeling a knuckle break. [b "Fuck!"] he snapped, his voice having returned after leaving the room.
He may not have been permitted to stay with Hermione, but he was going to be damned if he didn't wait right there for her to be finished.
Snape was harsh but even he was not this harsh. The man was constantly saying all sorts of things to Harry to make him feel like nothing. And to her, Snape was always reminding her what an "insufferable know-it-all" she was. But even the man though as cold as he was seemed to understand the things that they did. Or he did after though she was sure he still hated them for their freeing of Sirius from the Astronomy Tower two years ago.
[b "But I'm also sure that in seeing those reports that things could have gone a lot worse... Second year for example.. Had Harry and Ron not gone into the Chamber Ginny would be d--"] But before the girl could finish, Unbridge's gaze shot to her. And it was one of hate. Clearly Hermione had gotten under the woman's skin with her retort even if she had only been stating a well known fact.
[i "Regardless you and the other two acted insubordinately. You did as you saw fit and put yourselves into a place to be idolized. And since again you spoke out of turn and dared to disregard me you can write a hundred and fifty more lines. I will make the message sink in. You. Are. Just. Children."] It was obvioius the woman was starting to more than lose her patience.
Brown eyes stared at the pink devil cooly. She had spoken and she knew she should not have. With a quick apologetic glance over to Harry, Hermione again picked up the "special" quill. Her hand was more than tender and quite easily began to bleed with the new set of lines. But this time she did not whimper or flinch. After what the woman said to both her and Harry, the girl would not give the satisfaction. Though that did not stop her from wishing their detention would end soon.
Harry could hardly imagine what other torturous punishments she could come up with that would still be legal. Then again, he was entirely convinced that the current method of writing lines into their skin wasn't exactly listed under 'acceptable school punishments'. He bit his lip to keep from replying sarcastically.
Umbridge, however, seemed eager to poke at them to get a reaction. [i "If you ask me, your little trio - or is it just a duo now - has gotten away with far too much at Hogwarts. I've read previous reports of insubordination, and blatantly ignoring authority figures to do what you think is best."]
She came to a stop in front of their desks. [i "But you see, students, you are not experienced enough in adult matters to handle things as you see fit. You are nothing more than children who want to play make-belief. It's probably why you are so desperate for attention. If you play hero to a fake threat, then you have everyone hanging on your every word. I'm here to put a stop to that. By spreading false information, you are putting yourself in an idolized role to glorify yourselves."]
Her smug smile returned. [i "As such, I will keep you in detention as long as it takes to drive home the message that you are no one, and your disobedience will no longer be tolerated."]
Harry stared back defiantly, ignoring the throbbing in his hand. He'd had five years of Snape making similar comments in hopes to get a rise out of him. All he had to do was keep his mouth shut for another seventy-five lines. Let her look for an edge. He wasn't going to break under her pressure.
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