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He shrugged half-heartedly. [b "Never a dull moment for us, right?"]
Care of Magical Creatures was a welcomed distraction. The Nifflers were handled by four new volunteers, while the rest of the class took notes and listened intently to Grubbly-Plank's lecture. [i "If you aren't careful, one of these buggers could swipe your wedding ring off your finger, and you'll be left to explain where it's gone,"] she tapped at her empty fourth-finger.
[i "And Mr Scamander actually loved these things?"] Neville raised his free hand, the other occupied with one of the chubby creatures.
[i "Not only that, it roamed free in his house. His wife would tear the house apart looking for something that'd gone missing, and she'd find it stuffed under a pile the Niffler had made of their jewelry,"] she explained.
[b "Sounds like something you'd want as a pet,"] Harry grinned at Hermione. [b "He could steal a diamond ring for a bloke who's gonna propose."]
[i "Leave the thieving rodent to a guy who actually needs it to steal a diamond ring,"] Ron shoved at his shoulder.
The girl agreed with both of Harry and Ron's statements. Anything would be better than having the pink gargoyle as their professor. And anything would be better than having any form of education taken away from them. Now if any was the time to teach them more. The time to help them know what was out there and the dangers they faced. It was not the time to hide anything and to play as if the world was safe. Fudge was initially risking everyone with his madness.
Her mind was completely reeling with those thoughts as she walked with the boys. But the girl had dropped behind slightly when Harry matched her steps. The worry in those green eyes tore at her. She hadn't meant to worry him. Not at all but she had and she had become added to his plate of worried.
Slowly she reached up and pushed some of the hair that had fallen from the hair tie back. If she lied to him, Harry would know. He almost always did. [b "I'm just a little tired..but mostly good. Are you doing alright?"] Hermione asked as she turned the question back to him and the two were still being led by Ron.
Harry fought back a yawn, brought on by sheer boredom. [b "I think I'd much rather face the Basilisk a hundred times over than sit through that sad excuse of a class,"] he agreed.
[i "Honestly, it's like the Ministry sucked anything educational out of the school and replaced it with their history,"] Ron frowned. [i "I never thought I'd demand something educational."]
Harry let out a quick exhale of laughter through his nose. [b "I don't think education is on their priority list. If we get smarter, they can't wrangle us into submission."]
Fudge would have been more than happy to keep everyone as dumb as bricks if it meant he could convince them there was no danger. How anyone in a high government position could be willing to deny Voldemort's return was beyond Harry. It wasn't as if it was going to do them any good either. The Ministry officials would leave their own families vulnerable to an attack.
[b "I'll write to Kingsley during lunch and send it off with Hedwig. Maybe the Order is already aware of everything, and will have some suggestions,"] Harry said quietly.
He matched Hermione's steps, with Ron leading just ahead of them. [b "You doing alright?"] he murmured to her, concern in his eyes over what had transpired earlier that morning.
Hermione had given Harry a look when he had said he would rather the dragon over Umbridge. It was more because she worried about him. But even she could agree the dragon would be easier than the pink devil at the front of the room.
Her eyes weren on the parchment, but she could feel the daggered look of the woman at her desk. And the ice from her too. Clearly she was not used to not having her way. And the fact that it was her and Harry made it all the worse. She was almost sure of it. And the more she wrote, the more it reminded her of the scathibg pain in her hand of the night before. But she had to shake it off as she looked up at Harry and gave a small smile at his eyes roll.
As soon as Umbridge stood to speak, Hermione had to bite baco her words. The girl had plenty she wanted to say. But because of the detention and how things gone, the girl kept her mouth shut.
[b "I can't believe her.."] She hissed at the end of class and when they were out of the room. The girl was fuming. And now more than ever did she wish they could get that orb back or do something
[b "I'd gladly go up against the Horntail again if it rid us of her,"] Harry murmured back before taking his seat.
It was almost too unbearable to sit under Umbridge's beady stare. If she could fire magic with her eyes, Harry was sure he and Hermione would have caught fire. She was clearly thrown by the excuse letters from Pomfrey. Even more clearly, she was not used to being defied. Whatever her role is here, she demanded obedience from the staff. Unfortunately for her, Hogwarts staff was not one to bow down.
The sound of scratching quills made Harry's hand ache. He could still feel the words being carved into the back of his palm. He rubbed at it, knowing that the scars would remain for quite some time. Catching Hermione's eye, he gave a small smile and sarcastic roll of his eyes when Umbridge's gaze turned to another student.
With ten minutes left to class, the pink nightmare rose from her seat and cleared her throat. [i "Now students, I hate to think we've all gotten off on the wrong foot. I know it must be jarring to have your classes changed so drastically all of the sudden, but I promise that it is in your best interest. Yesterday I was forced to demonstrate my authority. I hope that we can put that past us, so that we may have a fun and instructive learning environment. Wouldn't you all agree?"]
Hermione couldn't help a small laugh and shake of her head. [b "Madam Pomfrey would tell her off for sure. Remember how angry she was the night we got these?"] The girl said as she held up her hand. It was fading, but there was still the scare of the words. Now that it didn't hurt, the girl almost found that it wasn't there unless she looked at it.
The two walked into class and as was expected, the devil in pink was at her desk. And she has given them one of her sickly sweet smiles as she spoke. She was clearly looking to have them for detention again. But when Harry gave her the late passes that they had had, Umbridge's smile dropped. [i "Well the both of you can take your seats. We are working out of the book and there is to be no talking. If I catch talking, I will assume you are cheating and another detention will be given."] Shensaid dismissing the two.
A sigh slipped the girl's lips. [b "Unreasonable, isn't she?"] She whispered to only Harry as the two went to their seats beside Ron. And in seconds, Hermione had her book and some parchment out and was scowling at the work they had been given. Almost did she wish for the bell and the end of the class.
Harry groaned and pushed his seat back to rise from the table. [b "I suppose we can't,"] he agreed.
With a farewell to the elves, they re-entered the hallway to return to classes. [b "I'd like to see Umbridge try to argue with Madam Pomfrey over giving us late passes. Can you imagine how that would go?"] he grinned.
He could picture it now. Umbridge, in all her short glory, attempting to argue with the short-tempered, no nonsense doctor. Pomfrey might even slip her a sleeping draught just to get her to shut up.
Not to anyone's surprise, the pink nightmare was seated at her desk with the smug smile. [i "Well. I can't say I'm not intrigued by your inevitable excuses. But, I will remind you that I do not permit tardiness in my classroom."]
Harry marched up to her desk and dropped the papers in front of her. [b "I think you'll have to take it up with Madam Pomfrey, if you really want to push this."]
A small smile came to her lips as Harry seemed in a lighter mood and even had joked about turning down a dessert. [b "Never that I know of. But there's still time."] The girl said with her small smile still in place.
She felt bad lying to the little elf. Truly she did, but there was nonwas she could stomach it. Quite literally. But she agreed with Harry just so Dobby didn't feel bad and watched when he went to get more.
[b "Sorry...I'll make this up to you somehow."] Hermione whispered as she took a banana from the bowl he had pushed her way. She was grateful to the boy. And she had meant what she said about making it up to him.
The house elves were amazing. They told stories and spilt their tasks. They even called questions back and forth as they helped one another. So very like family and it almost made her sad in a sense. More like it made her miss her parents.
As Dobby checked on the cupcakes, watching them Hermione picked one up and took a small bite. It was good and she flashed the little elf a bright smile. After a moment she moved and got one of the napkins and wiped th3 chocolate crumbs from his cbin and smiled. [b "Try not to. We don't need another of us in the hospital today."] She said gently as she slipped an apple into her bag and looked to Harry again.
[b "Shall we? Can't keep the pink beast waiting can we?"]
Harry smiled. [b "When have I ever turned down cupcakes?"]
He reached out to grab one from Dobby's tray, not even hesitating before taking a massive bite. It truly did taste better than it looked. The inside even had some kind of custard. [b "Well done, Dobby!"] he praised the elf, who lit up like a Christmas tree at the compliment.
[i "Does Missus Granger enjoy them as well?"] the small creature scrambled onto the table to kneel in front of them eagerly.
[b "I think she's already had about two of them,"] Harry quickly assured him, knowing Hermione probably wouldn't be up for a rich dessert if her stomach was bothering her.
The house elf clapped his hands enthusiastically. [i "Dobby will make more!"] he hurried off the table.
[b "Try something light to start,"] Harry slid a bowl of fruit towards her. [b "I'll make the sacrifice of having another cupcake so it looks like you had one too,"] he stuffed the rest of his in his mouth and reached for another.
It was an amiable atmosphere in the kitchen. The elves would call to one another with questions and stories, and they all seemed fairly happy in their roles. Harry noted Dobby looking over with his big eyes to check the cupcakes, so he immediately began eating a third, flashing a thumbs up.
[b "I may go into a sugar coma by the end of this,"] he joked to Hermione, with chocolate cupcake crumbs on his chin.
The girl knew she had him worried. And that had honestly been the last thing she has wanted. Slowly she pushed herself off the wall and stayed at the boy's side. Usually she was used to dealing with everything on her own. But she had never let it get this far either. Almost in third year but hadn't.
[b "I've just been distracted is all... Between classes and trying to figure Umbridge out..my mind has been elsewhere. And I've not thought much about food or sleep. Being a prefect and having patrols with Malfoy of all people too..."] The girl explained. She did feel like she owed him some sort of an explanation. Though she had purposely left out that he took up a great deal of her thoughts and she was worried about him.
After she had spoken, the girl fell into silence and continued to walk at his side. Her head was still fuzzy and she was trying to focus. The girl also found herself wondering about his Hogsmeade invitation. It had sounded like he had been asking her on a date..but that couldn't have been right. Could it? He was her best friend and had never seen her as anything more than his best friend and like a sister. So she was overthinking as she always did.
In the kitchens, the elves were happy to have something to do and bustled off. Dobby even brought a tray of cup cakes he had tried to make out. Slowly brown eyes went to Harry as he spoke. [b "Only if you have some too...It would be silly to eat without company."] She whispered with a small, almost timid smile
Harry followed Hermione from the infirmary, unable to meet Madam Pomfrey's eye. He knew that she didn't believe them. But, he was grateful that she didn't press the matter. Clutching their excused notes in his hand, he walked beside her, ready to move into action if she began to stumble.
[b "I don't entirely understand what's been going on,"] he began to speak. [b "And I'm not going to make you tell me, if you don't want to. But I'm here to listen to anything you have to say. I just want to help you be okay, in any way that I can."]
His eyes stayed glued to the floor ahead of them. All of his senses were screaming at him to hug her until she was well again, but that would be a line he wouldn't cross. Besides, he never quite knew what was normal affection to give a friend, having never received any kind of fond attention growing up. His entire basis of comfort is what's been provided to him by Hermione, and by extention, the Weasley family.
In this circumstance, however, Harry thought it best to refrain from touching her. He'd essentially asked her on a date to Hogsmeade. She seemed excited by the prospect, but Harry's nagging thoughts had him convinced that perhaps he hadn't been direct enough, and she was under the impression that it was nothing more than a friendly outing. Best not risk doing something dangerous, like holding her hand while they walked.
In the kitchen, the house elves were bursting with energy. They greeted the teens enthusiastically and set out gathering snacks for them. [i "Dobby made this!"] Harry's favourite elf had proudly proclaimed, beaming as he held out a tray of lopsided cupcakes that tasted far better than they looked.
[b "You don't have to eat everything,"] Harry assured Hermione once they were sitting. [b "But just a little? To keep your strength up?"]
The girl's eyes had moved to their still interlocked fingers. She knew what she was asking of him. Knew that he would feel bad about it. But she did not want to have to explain to the nurse anything.
When she heard Harry's answer, brown eyes came up again. [i 'Thank you.'] She mouthed as the nurse huffed at them. Hermione was sure she would have to explain to Harry about it. But the girl would rather tell her best friend than earn herself a scolding from Madam Pomfrey.
[i "Your next class will be starting soon. But I want the two of you heading down to the kitchens and the house elves. After you are done there, head to class. I'll give you both a note."] Madam Pomfrey said. Clearly she didn't believe them, but she was in no mood to be scolding them for the moment. It happened again and she would talk to their head of house.
Hermione only nodded to the woman as she slowly got up. Her eyes were on the ground when she took the scroll and slowly she exited the hospital wing, leaning on the wall. Honestly she was not looking forward to having to explain to Harry when he joined her.
Harry's heart seemed to rise from his stomach as Hermione slowly came back to consciousness. His hand sought hers immediately and he interlocked their fingers to give it a reassuring squeeze. Madam Pomfrey's question hung in the air, but he couldn't take his eyes off of his best friend.
He'd never felt so sick in his life. For all he knew, Malfoy had uttered a curse under his breath that had harmed her. He'd been ready to kill the blonde boy. Even though it was a reaction to the ingredients in the cupboard, Harry hadn't even hesitated in his thoughts of retaliation. If he hadn't been so urgent to get her to the infirmary, he may have attacked Malfoy right there.
[i "Mr Potter!"] Madam Pomfrey pulled him from his thoughts. [i "I asked you if there's been any changes in her sleeping or eating habits."]
He didn't want to lie. He'd more than just noticed that she hadn't had quite as the usual amounts of food, and she'd seemed more exhausted than ever before. Still, she was looking at him with pleading eyes, and he felt himself cave.
[b "No. No changes in any of those."]
The girl didn't even know what had happened. Just the smell of the ingredient had her collapsing. She could hear both Harry and Ron along with the others, but she wasn't able to open her eyes. She hadn't been able to respond either. Hermione wished more than anything that she had been able to fight the haze that had filled her head and kept her swimming beneath the surface.
Only vaguely was she aware of being scooped up and moving. And where she was being taken became clear when Madam Pomfrey's voice could be heard. Harry was freaking out and the woman was telling him not to panic. She was telling him that she would be fine. Though she knew she was in for a scolding as well when she woke.
Something was put beneath her nose and she was cringing from the smell. As her eyes opened, the girl slowly began to sit up with her head still spinning. [i "What she had been made to smell was the reason sleeping draughts are so strong. It clouded her mind and nearly shut it down."] The woman explained to the two of them as she ga e the girl something else to help with the spinning of her head.
[i "Usually it just has them out for a few moments...Not like this. Since I know Miss Granger will be reluctant to tell the truth.. Mister Potter have thier been changes in either sleep or eating patterns?"] The woman asked, her pointed glare on Hermione.
Hermione's eyes locked on Harry. She was begging that he not say anything to the nurse. The girl had known her head was spinning and she felt off that morning but had not wanted to miss classes. She had thought she could handle it. But mostly she had been trying not to worry Harry or give him something more to deal with
[i "Hermione!"] Ron called, pulling Harry's attention to where the girl wobbled and collapsed.
[b "What the hell did you do?"] Harry bolted from his seat to her side, shoving Malfoy out of the way.
He rested a hand on her cheek. [b "Hermione, can you hear me?"] he gave her a shake with his free hand.
A small group of Gryffindors crowded around, ignoring Snape calling for them to return to their seats. [i "Potter, take Granger to the infirmary before you both disrupt my class any more than you already have today,"] he ordered.
Harry bit back a scathing retort. Now was not the time. Thanking the stars for the bit of muscle he'd gained thanks to Quidditch, he hooked his arms under her shoulders and knees. [i "I'll take your stuff with me after class,"] Ron said, nudging the two towards the door.
Thanks to the adrenaline rush coursing through him, Harry reached the Hospital Wing on autopilot. [b "Madam Pomfrey!"] he called out, carefully depositing Hermione on the nearest bed. [b "Something's wrong!"]
The woman came striding over, immediately peppering him with questions. [b "I don't know, we were in Potions, and she collapsed. She was by the ingredients cabinet."]
[i "Settle down, Potter. I'll get her right as rain. Don't give yourself a panic attack,"] Madam Pomfrey moved him aside to begin her work.
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