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The girl sat and slipped her flats and stockings off as she watched the boy. Sometimes she did wonder how he managed the chill of the lake, but she did have to take Quidditch into consideration as well. Constantly were they playing or practicing in the pouring down and cold rain. And as those thoughts were in her head, a little of the water was splashed her way and Hermione let out a squeak. [b "That wasn't very nice you know. Especially when it isn't expected."] She said huffily, though it was obvious she had not meant it and did soon join her friend on the almost "ice-like" water and give him a small splash in return.
[b "Well I am sure you'll find somewhere with a pool or lake. There are actually plenty of places."] The girl said and cringed as she looked back seeing the spots of red that were Gryffindors beginning their practice. It was all a blurr to her really and she shook her head. [b "He always does. And will use it against us for days... Well me anyway. He is always so bored when the two of you are at it that he will forgive you faster."] She was honestly thinking of Grimmauld Place when she had spoken.
And a laugh slipped from her. [b "We can think about it all we want. But won't do us much good and being under-aged."] And of course she had to be logical.
Harry plopped on the ground and began untying his shoelaces. His socks were next to come off, and his pant legs were rolled up. [b "Who needs a swimming pool when the school has a perfectly good, and mostly safe, lake?"] he said, wading calf-deep into the water.
It was still a little cold, given that it was only September. Five years of playing Quidditch in the pouring rain, however, made him comfortable with cold water. [b "Mark it down on my list of things I want when I buy a house. It has to either have my own personal lake, or a pool."]
Grinning, Harry turned and sent a little splash her way. It was rare that they had a moment to just breathe without stress weighing them down. In the distance, he could see the Gryffindor Quidditch players beginning their practice. [b "I wonder if he'll even notice we aren't there."] Then again, this was Ron they were talking about. [b "Actually, no, he'll definitely notice. And then he'll use that to wallow in more self-pity."]
His face scrunched up. [b "Can we potentially discuss just running away again? Maybe hide out in the Giant Squid's evil lair? We'll need a lot of gillyweed, though."]
[b "I read things less than eight hundred pages. You've seen one of the books."] The girl said with a mocking pout. She knew that Harry had been teasing her. And honestly she didn't mind because most times she DID read books that were six hundred or more pages. In fact, she often kept an extra book or two with her aside from those she needed for class. But that had always been her and so she was fine with the weight of her bag. Though sometimes she did entertain the idea of Ron or Harry with her bookbag as she knew they ONLY kept what they needed for class in their bags.
[b "You know that's not a bad idea. They might have a book or two on that topic. Or even how to survive mad women who want to ruin your life."] Okay so that should not have been said. But their new defense professor was completely bonkers. And NOT in the good way either. She was a raving lunatic who quite reminded Hermione of the Red Queen from Alice in Wonderland.
After suggesting the walk, the girl had fallen into silence. For a moment, Hermione had almost expected a scolding on wanting to bail on their promise. But when Harry agreed, the girl smiled. She should have known he would be more than okay with it. Besides he had had even a harder time with Ron than she had. So the break would very much be welcomed, especially since later ANOTHER scolding would be coming their way.
[b "I think the pet shop can also be on our to do list. We can never have enough treats or bribes for them."] She said with a laugh when he mentioned getting their pets something special. The girl stopped by the lake and looked across the sparkling and clam water. And she couldn't help the sigh as it looked so calm and peaceful. Everything their lives weren't.
[b "Light reading?"] he grinned and bumped her shoulder as they walked. [b "That means nothing less than eight-hundred pages on some kind of historical subject,"] Harry teased.
How she hadn't suffered back damage with the sheer weight of her bag, he'd never understand. She carried no less than five books - not including ones for class - at all times, in the event she had a spare fifteen minutes to read. [b "I think we can make time for the bookstore. Maybe I'll even find something to catch my interest. I wonder if they sell books on surviving a school year without constant danger?"]
Her suggestion of a walk was music to his ears. [b "Thank god, I wasn't the only one thinking about bailing on practice. I'd rather not have Ron chuck the quaffle at my head. A walk sounds perfect."]
The wonderful thing about the Hogwarts campus was that there were no bad views. With rolling hills, the lake, and miles of forest, it was the picture-perfect location. Even the lake water seemed calm. No signs of the squid pitching a fit under the water, causing rough waves to hit the bank.
Harry briefly let go of her hand to roll his sleeves to his elbows. [b "So food, books, and candy. Not a bad list of activities so far. Maybe we can stop by the pet store to buy something for Crookshanks and Hedwig to bribe them for affection,"] he teased.
When Harry mentioned doing something wrong because they weren't having fun with the "trouble" and the week dragging on the girl could not help but pocture his godfather. She probably shouldn't have but it made her wonder if the Marauders ever felt that way. [b "Well if we want pointers on how to make this fun, I am sure Sirius would be more than willing to help. Afterall, he was a resident trouble maker here at school. And now has a run for his money with the twins."] Hermione reminded her friend, TRYING to lighten their moods a little as both of them were leaned against the cool stone wall.
They hadn't been leaned on the wall too long when the boy's hand took hers again and she was being gently tugged through the corridor. [b "Actually the new bookshop that opened. I was thinking to explore and see what 'light' reading I could find...I need something other than that horrid defense book we've been given. And also the sweet shop. Like you I need to restock and have my fun while I've not got mum and dad telling me what I can and can't have."] Though with her last words, her cheeks flushed and she looked away. [b "Please ignore my words on my mum and dad...that was just rambling."]
If she were honest, the brunette was both nervous and excited for the trip into Hogsemeade that weekend. [b "Fancy skipping watching Quidditch practice and just taking a walk by the lake? Honestly I can't face Ron yet...."] She admitted but felt guilty since Harry HAD promised to watch during the free period which they now had.
He let his head fall back to rest against the stone wall. [b "I know, it seems like this week just keeps dragging on. I thought being mischievous helped pass the time? I feel like we're doing something incredibly wrong if we're not having much fun."]
Taking her hand once more, he tugged her along the corridor. [b "I don't know about you, but I will definitely be buying an unhealthy amount of candy at the shop. Something sweet enough to practically ruin my teeth for a month. I've gone through my stash from Diagon Alley, so I'd best re-stock."]
Harry caught her eye and grinned. [b "Anything in particular you're looking forward to? New books? Maybe some junk food for you as well, since your parents aren't here to give you the dentist lectures of teeth safety?"]
The adrenaline rush from his spat with Umbridge was beginning to wear off. All that was left was a fluttering in his chest over discussing details of their date. If he had a better idea of what she was interested in doing, he could plan ahead.
Quite honestly, the bushy haired girl was in shock that Harry's plan had actually worked. She had ALMOST seen it coming back at them. But when it didn't and the toad got all huffy before she walked off, the girl let out the breath she had been holding. Her own heart was all but pounding in her chest. [b "I thought she was going to be trying to tear into us even more...that was risky, Harry.. But at least now she knows we're not alone. Though HAVE to get that plate...that is if Professor McGonagall hasn't already.."] She whispered, her mind already jumping back into planning things though she was still looking tired.
A soft laugh slipped from her and she nodded. [b "Actually...we have I think five new ones coming. Speaking against the Ministry and their actions, Skipping class, Smarting off to a Ministry Official, Going to a Professor and telling lies, and still Spreading the remours that Voldemort is back."] The girl listed off as she looked up at Harry.
Lightly she leaned on the wall behing them as he had pulled her out of the way so that their classmates could get around them. Many of the others turned to look at the pair but didn't stop. [b "Ron would do that...and he will be yelling at us again for sure tonight.."] She said with a sigh. The girl was not looking foward to facing their friend or the rest of their classes for the day. [b "Can we just have our weekend yet?"]
[b "I think you'll find she was in no breach of school rules. Meetings with prefects and team captains are quite common. Perhaps you should speak with the other heads of houses to verify this information. Professor Flitwick holds weekly meetings with the Hufflepuff students."]
She was nearly foaming at the mouth by the time she stormed off through the sea of students. Next thing Harry knew, his arms were full of Hermione. [b "I'm not going to lie, I wasn't entirely sure that would work,"] he finally let out the breath he'd been holding anxiously.
Releasing her, he pressed his hand to his heart where it was beating against his ribs. [b "I'm a little light headed,"] he laughed softly, not quite believing he'd pulled off the risky play.
McGonnagal wouldn't back down from any fight, let alone one with Dolores Umbridge. Harry was confident that the Gryffindor Head of House would be more than capable of handling the Ministry goon. It was just a matter of how escalated the argument would get. [b "I probably just instigated at least three new Ministry decrees,"] he said, moving aside so the other students could walk around them. [b "But I think we got the message across. She knows now that we have allies here."]
Leaning close, he grinned. [b "If you think Ron pitched a fit earlier, wait until he hears about this. He might actually send us a howler,"] he joked.
Hermione didn't know what Harry had in mind. At this rate, the girl was about to cave to Umbridge. At least for the moment to keep out of trouble. But the squeeze of her hand when he had pulled her to her feet and his muttered words had gotten her attention. Soothed her in a sense. [b "With my life.."] The girl whispered, her hand giving his a squeeze as he still held her hand tightly and the pair followed after the pink devil.
Her mind and heart was racing. Sure she had broken a few rules already but those had been at night and also unseen. The game Harry was playing now was in broad daylight and was VERY dangerous. But perhaps that was one thing she had always admired in the boy. His courage and the fact that he was not afraid to take risks or stand for what he believed in. Only she wished she were as brave.
The pair followed the woman through the halls as students were coming out of classes. And all two soon the pair stopped and were watching as Umbridge turned on them. Her hand gripped Harry's tigher as she hoped he knew what he was doing. [b "Harry..?"] She whispered, but then she blinked seeing the nites they had been given. And then she realized it. He was trying to teach the woman a leason and to knock her down a VERY much needed peg.
[i "So it appears that the two of you have been given excuses from class. And I WILL be talking to your head of house. It appears that she thinks she can continuously protect the pair of you. You are free for now, but mark my words Potter, Granger I will have the both of you for detention."] There was not much the woman could do for the moment and even she knew it.
Hermione turned to Harry and hugged him tightly. [b "Harry, that was brilliant... daring and dangerous but brilliant. But we both best be careful."] She said, blushing when she let him go. The whole of the students had seen the exchange and she was biting her lip and looked down as whispers began amd stares stayed on them.
Harry lost all sense of calm at the unnecessary interruption. [b "I wouldn't be so smug if I were you, professor. Wouldn't want to look like one of those squished-faced cats in your classroom."]
Her smirk remained, but her eyes turned shady. [i "Do not make me drag you by the ear to my office, Potter. I'm not above corporal punishment. You have been caught skipping class, and that is a punishable offence."]
An idea struck Harry.
[b "Of course. Right away, Professor Umbridge,"] he forced a smile.
As he pulled Hermione to her feet, he caught her eye as Umbridge turned to lead the way. [b "Trust me,"] he murmured to her.
He kept his hand clasped tightly around hers for reassurance. Dolores held her head high and proudly through the corridors, her arrogance practically oozing from her. Harry fought the urge to roll his eyes. The woman wouldn't be pleased for long.
As students filed out of the classrooms and into the hallways, Harry halted his steps, drawing Hermione to a stop with them. [b "Professor, I don't think we're going to be needing to come with you to your class,"] his voice was bright.
Umbridge turned on her heel and tilted her head. [i "I don't believe I gave you a choice, Mr Potter. Your actions have consequences, and I will not have students skipping classes on my watch. You are to follow me immediately."]
[b "You know, I don't think I will."]
Her smile faltered. [i "Excuse me?"]
[b "You see, I just happened to remember that Hermione and I caught up with Professor McGonnagal this morning. She wanted to know how Gryffindor's Quidditch team and students are doing, so we had a meeting to discuss it. And,"] he produced the excuse notes from his pocket. [b "We've been respectfully dismissed from class. You seem to like reading those endless Ministry papers, so I'm sure this won't take you long."]
Students watched with rapt attention as she snatched the parchment from his hand. Her eyes poured over the document like a hungry tiger. It crumpled under her fist. With a snap of her head, she met his eyes once more.
[b "I'm sure you won't want to argue Professor McGonnagal's authority as Head of Gryffindor House,"] Harry's smirk turned vicious. [b "After all, we were discussing school matters, which you'll find is what the Ministry is claiming to uphold."]
Those surrounding them were practically holding their breath as they watched the showdown. Harry's eyes never wavered. Umbridge was a bully, and needed a good dose of public embarrassment.
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.
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