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Harry remained firmly faced forward to ignore the blonde boy. [b "He's trying to get under my skin, but it won't work."]
He glanced at her out of the corner of his eyes, squeezing her hand in return. [b "Dating you wouldn't be something to be embarrassed about. I won't let him think so by reacting to it his taunts,"] he assured her.
Snape drifted in to the room with his usual sour expression and slam of the door. [i "I'll not permit a repeat of what happened yesterday. If any student decides to give me a headache, it will be immediately dismissal from my class, and you will have to serve nightly detentions."]
He paused, waiting for some reason to dismiss the first student who dared to challenge him. [i "Open your textbooks and keep up; I'll not be repeating myself."]
He turned his back to them, scrawling hastily on the blackboard behind him. Harry released Hermione's hand to prepare his supplies, catching sight of Malfoy's snarl at having failed to start a fight.
When they had gotten to class, Ron immediately left them to sit with Seamus. And once more her cheeks were on fire. It was like he had held a banner over them that said they were together and almost all eyes seemed to be on them. The girl didn't mind so much aside from the fact that she knew runours would spread and again Harry would have more to deal with. A small smile traced her lips when he had pulled out her seat for her. [b "Thanks."] She whispered.
It was when Malfoy came in did her eyes come up from the desk and the book she had opened. The girl could not help shooting the greasy ferret a glare. [b "And just what are you on about, Malfoy?"] Hermione asked. Somehow she had the feeling she would regret it with the smirk that the blonde gave.
[i "Just that you and Potter seem to be a thing. Bout time the two of you came out with it. Though I always thought Potter could do better than a filthy little mudblood like you. Seems the apple doesn't fall far from the tree, does it Potter?"] Draco said, his devilish little smirk upon his lips.
Hermione's hand instantly took Harry's. [b "Don't...he is trying to get you to do something to get Snape on your case again."] She whispered. More like pleaded with the boy at her side.
Ron took their locked hands as a sign it was safe to interrupt. He threw his arms around both of their shoulders, separating them in the middle. [i "I hate to ditch you both, but I can't betray Zonko's to another joke shop, and I refuse to step foot in a bookstore unless it's for school purposes. You're on your own."]
Harry was forced to drop Hermione's hand, wanting to strangle their redheaded friend for his poor timing. [b "I think we'll get along just fine without you,"] he said through clenched teeth.
Once they made it to the potions class, Ron not-so-subtly chose to sit beside Seamus instead of his usual spot, leaving the table for two free for Hermione and Harry. He couldn't have been more obvious if he were holding a flashing neon heart.
Harry even pulled her chair out for her, before noticing people watching. [b "Sorry,"] he cleared his throat, quickly taking his own seat.
[i "Isn't that sweet?"] Malfoy's voice drawled as he entered the class, sitting opposite them.
Her own cheeks heated up and turned a bright red at his words. God she wished she had not glamoured her hair or had it tied back. She couldn't hide her own blush and slowly her eyes went to him. [b "I...Yes, that sounds amazing. I think they said it was like a joke shop or another book shop. If it is a book shop, I'm really sorry."] Hermione found the words rushed as she was actually a little nervous.
The hand that had been taken without her conscious moment had actually gently gripped onto his hand. What was she doing? Did he actually like her? Was Ginny right? Her heart and mind were both racing and her blush wasn't calming down either. Now she really did want to be stricken dead as she couldn't find anything else to say.
Harry momentarily forgot his inner monologue at the mention of the sweets shop. His head tilted back and he practically moaned. [b "I could definitely use a month's supply of candy and chocolate."]
[i "Save it for your broomstick kit. The Firebolt's looking a little rough,"] Ron gave him a light shove.
[b "You'd look rough too if a dragon nearly burned you to a crisp. My Firebolt has been nothing but good to you,"] Harry joked back.
Ron caught his eye and started slowing down, flashing Harry a thumbs up as he put some distance between them, pretending to be preoccupied with the portraits hanging on the walls.
Before he could lose his nerve, Harry caught Hermione's hand to get her attention. [b "Maybe we could check out one of the new shops? Uh...together?"] he choked on the word, feeling his face flush in utter betrayal.
Hermione was lost to her own thoughts and was on auto pilot herself it seemed. The mostions or the walk to the dungeons at this rate was robotic and mere muscle memory. This was awlward and still almost like it had been that morning. She almost wished someone would just put her out of her misery.
That thought had just crossed her mind when Harry's blurted out question hit her ears and drew her back to attention. The girl slowed her steps to allow the other boy to catch up to them and be on her other side as was the usual. Slowly a smile came to her lips and she nodded.
[b "After the first few days back we've had.. it's a welcome distraction. I had really missed the butter beers and the sweet shop. But I'm sure maybe you missed the broom shop?"] She asked, actually grateful for the topic of Hogsmeade. It was something to think on for a little while other than that morning or Ginny's words.
[b "It's less about finding her class fun, and more of the fact that it's an easy grade,"] Harry smiled. [b "We could both use at least one easy class."]
When she turned and started walking, Harry's feet couldn't seem to follow her. Ron nudged him from behind. [i "Yeah mate, come on. Let's not make detention a habit."]
The redhead leaned close to Harry's ear. [i "Put us out of our misery and say something to her because I can't do another year like this."]
With that, Ron walked off to join Hermione, leaving Harry to trail behind them. It was more of a robotic autopilot. He stared at the back of Hermione's head, hearing [i She'll hate you] repeatedly chanted in his head.
Hogsmeade was coming up. Maybe he could say something then? Convince Ron to leave them alone to wander the shops so there's no pressure of a third person. No, then it may attach a sour memory to the village for her if she were to say no.
Then again, it might be the only place they'll find solitude away from prying eyes in order to say something. [i Now you just have to figure out what to say,] he thought to himself.
[b "You guys excited for Hogsmeade?"] he heard himself blurt out.
Smooth, Potter. Real subtle.
The girl took Harry's hand and let him pull her up. Brown eyes rolled at both the boys. [b "I still don't understand how anyone can see this as useful. Use your inner eye..see into the future. It's rubbish and completely mad."] She said as she shifted her bag and gave the boys a faint smile.
[b "I'm sorry...I know you two have fun with her. I do hope the leason was at least interesting."] She was trying to change topics as she moved a couple of steps away and towards the direction of the dungeons. [b "We best be getting going..there is no way to tell what sort of mood Professor Snape will be in."]
God she was trying. She really was. But Ginny's words were still buzzing around in her head. The girl was also feeling rather light headed too, but trying not to show it to the boys. [b "Well, are the two of you coming?"]
Harry could barely pay attention in class. Granted, he never did give Trelawny much of his focus when she began ranting about the foreshadowing tea leaves. This time, however, he wasn't distracted by an escaped prisoner potentially being after him. [i "Do you think she's drunk?"] Ron muttered to him at one point.
[b "I think if Trelawny were drunk, she's actually make some sense,"] Harry murmured back.
By the end of the lecture, the boys dumped their books back into their messenger bags and headed for the door. [i "Bloody hell, didn't even see you, Hermione,"] Ron sidestepped her before he managed to trip over her foot.
[b "Did you miss Divination that much that you sat out here the whole time? I'm sure Trelawny would have let you sit inside,"] Harry held his hand out to help her to her feet.
[i "I don't know. After Hermione stormed out that one time, I'm sure she'd rather not be in the same room. You leave quite the impression,"] Ron nudged her with his elbow.
If Ginny knew, then there was the chance others did. And that was the last thing that Harry needed. Right now he had enough to worry about with the Ministry calling him a liar and making him look bad to their whole world. It was sickening really. She couldn't help imagining what would happen if everyone found out that she, a muggle born no one had a crush on him. The prophet would have so much fun with the news. They had just last year and it looked like the would use ANYTHING and ANYONE against the boy.
Her head fell onto the book she had been staring down blankly at. She had read the words, but with her mind on Harry and everything Ginny said she had not taken anything in. She was losing focus and couldn't afford to be. It also very much felt as if her head were splitting and a migraine was coming on.
She didn't know how long she sat staring at the page with her racing thoughts but when the bell tolled, the girl found herself jumping. As quickly as she could, the bushy haired girl gathered her books and stuffed them into her bag. She had to go meet the boys and try to act as normally as she could. The day seemed like a good one to be missing classes as she truly did feel horrible.
Pushing any thoughts of what had happened from her mind, Hermione forced herself to smile and walked to the Divination class. As she peeked into the room, the girl saw that the class was just getting ready to go. And she could hear the maddening woman speaking all the nonesense of "the inner eye". With a roll of her eyes, Hermione leaned of the wall, more like let herself slide down against it to wait for both Ron and Harry.
[i "You understand that none of this information is new, right?"] Ron leaned against the wall with his arms crossed.
Harry stood opposite him, letting his head fall back repeatedly against the stone wall. [b "Well it's new to me,"] he groaned.
To be perfectly honest, he'd expected a harsher reaction from the redhead. He's had jealousy issues in the past - the Triwizard Tournament being the latest example - and Harry had fully anticipated another fit. Ron, however, merely looked annoyed that the conversation had taken so long to happen.
[i "The two of you have been all googly-eyes for each other since you got to Grimmauld Place. It's almost nauseating. The twins haven't shut up about it, they wanted to start a betting pool like last year, but Ginny made them scrap the idea,"] the redhead shrugged.
[b "What the hell am I going to do?"] Harry pushed off from the wall. [b "I can't have feelings like this. For one, you guys are already in danger just being friends with me, let alone me being practically in love with her. Secondly, there's no way this is going to end well. Hermione doesn't see me like that, and I'm not going to be the creepy guy who couldn't be okay with just being friends."]
It was more stressful than the Umrbidge situation. He nearly felt a migraine coming on. [i "Well, she knows you're not a creep. It's not like you're stalking her,"] Ron tried to reason with him.
[b "This is a disaster,"] Harry rubbed at his temple.
[i "Well if you're going to be a disaster, let's at least be a disaster on the way to Divination. We're running late,"] Ron hauled him by the elbow down the hall towards the ominous class where Trelawny was waiting.
A thick silence and tension seemed to hang in the air between them. It was almost as thick as the one on the Hogwarts' Express had been and it was making her jittery. It had never been this bad and it worried her that she had done something. But the girl didn't want to ask because the last it had been really awkward. And so their steps echoed upon the stone hallways.
[b "A couple of days should be enough to find out something hopefully useful. But we'll have to plan this next time a little better than before. We don't need to become trapped again."] She said, trying to speak as if things were normal. But it was a failed attempt and once more it seemed a heavy silence fell until they came to the halfway point.
[b "Good luck with that mad woman... And thanks. It won't be so bad.."] God what was with them both? A sigh slipped from her lips as Harry all but rushed off again. For a moment she stood and watched him before she headed off to the library. When she walked in, brown eyes locked on Ginny who looked like she had been waiting for her.
[i "Hermione, can I talk to you?"] The Weasley girl asked as she walked up to her. The look in the other girl's eyes told her she had no choice. So slowly she nodded. [b "Sure, what's up Ginny?"] The girl asked, her head tilting to the side.
[i "It's actually about your crush on Harry..."] Ginny didn't waste any time and it had her blanching. And before Hermione could object, Ginny was dragging her to a private conrner to talk.
[b "How...How long have you known about that?"] She whispered as she was trying to keep the squeak from her voice.
[i "Since Grimmauld Place really.. You should just tell him, Mione. Boys are clueless when it comes to seeing how you feel about them."] She said with a shrug. But there was a sadness to her eyes even though she tried to hide it.
[b "He's my best friend, Ginny... He could and would never like me more than that. Or more than a sister. So it is pointless and easier to keep our friendship and to not make it awkward. Besides...even if he did...I know how you feel about him and couldn't possibly.."] The bushy haired girl said, quietly. Honestly she didn't want to talk about this and before Ginny could even say anything more, Hermione gathered her things and all but darted from the library. She would find an empty classroom to do her work and to also calm her racing heart and thoughts before she saw Harry again. Why did Ginny have to do this?
Bloody hell, this was worse than when Peeves had locked him in the girls' bathroom with Moaning Myrtle. Harry was beginning to feel like he was betraying her trust in him as a friend by having less-than-merely-friendly thoughts. [b "Yes. Breakfast. Great idea."]
Their footfalls echoed against the stone walls of the castle, the only sound breaking through the tense silence. [b "Hopefully we'll get something incriminating soon, from that spying glass,"] he spoke at last, once they're almost to the halfway mark.
How the hell was he going to defeat Voldemort if he couldn't quell this crush? Get it together, Potter! [b "We can give it a few days and then sneak back in to get the orb."]
It should give them more than enough time to gather evidence against Umbridge, to use as blackmail if need be. Mostly it was just to ensure that they were staying as informed as possible. [b "Well, we're here,"] Harry cleared his throat, wishing someone would strike him dead on the spot.
[b "I'll see you in a bit. Divination with Ron this morning. Good luck reading,"] Harry smiled before immediately turning and walking away before he did something completely stupid again, like kiss her.
[b "We have a serious problem,"] he flung himself on to the bench beside Ron.
[i "Yeah, I know, Umbridge. I was part of the conversation,"] Ron paid him no mind as he continued to eat and read from the Daily Prophet.
[b "No!"] Harry leaned closer, making sure no one overheard. [b "I, specifically, have a problem."]
[i "Is this about you liking Hermione?"] Ron finally turned to him with a blank expression, though one eyebrow was raised.
[b "Keep your voice down!"] Harry grabbed him by the robes and hauled him to his feet to drag out of the hall for privacy.
He seemed really off. And it wasn't escaping her attention either. A sigh slipped from her as he spoke and she managed a weak smile. [b "They both do snore horribly, don't they. If you forget the silencing charm...did you want me to help with a sleeping draught?"] The girl asked, her hand moving to the strap of her own bag as she shifted it up on her shoulder.
Brown eyes went to the ground as she looked down, guiltily when he mentioned heading to breakfast. [b "I had actually planned on heading to the library to do some of the homework we had been given.. Not exactly hungry after last night."] She found herself explaining quickly. Purposely had she avoided mentioning the other girls and their pestering her about how close they were.
Again she shifted her bag and moved forward. [b "But I'll walk halfway with you to the Great Hall."] Hermione said, attempting to gain semi normalacy back between them. [b "Come on, don't want to miss breakfast do you?"]
Harry couldn't even stop himself from jumping in surprise when he heard her voice. [b "Uh, I just um..."] he stammered over a sentence, feeling his brain immediately turn to mush.
It took a moment before her question registered. [b "Right! No, I didn't sleep well, I'm afraid. Brain was on rapid fire. Plus, Ron and Seamus both snore,"] he forced a laugh. [b "I should have used a silencing charm, huh?"]
Clearing his throat, he gestured to the portrait hole. [b "Should we head to breakfast then? Wouldn't want you to have class on an empty stomach."]
Harry forced his hands to stay firmly at his sides. No casual bumps or nudges that morning. His eyes, however, strayed to the spot on her cheek where his lips had been less than twelve hours ago.
[i Stop staring, you idiot!] he scolded himself. He faced straight ahead once more, both hands grasping at his backpack strap across his chest.
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