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Ron grimaced, recalling the blonde's smug rant an hour ago. [i "Just kept going on about how he was going to crack down on Gryffindors to 'knock them down a peg,'"] he gestured with quotations. [i "From the sounds of it, he's watching our every move to see what he can call us on."]
Fantastic. As if they didn't already have to watch out for Umbridge and Snape, now they could add the greasy haired weasel to their list. [b "We should have left him as a ferret,"] Harry grumbled, wondering how much he could bribe Moody to make a guest appearance.
[i "Maybe Fred and George could whip something up to get back at him, just in case he does decide to let the power go to his head. Which, you know, we already guarantee he will,"] Ron suggested.
[b "It's not the worst idea,"] Harry acknowledged, thinking of the trouble the twins could cook up.
Was it childish? Probably. Did he want to cause Malfoy some embarrassment for the headaches he'd given them over the last five years? Of course. But, one look from Hermione made him think twice. [i Right], he thought. [i Supposed to behave.]
[b "Let's just see if he actually does anything. He's probably just all talk, trying to impress girls. If he abuses his power, he'll lose his badge,"] he compromised.
Ron appeared to agree, and went back to work. [b "Let me know if he causes you trouble though,"] Harry murmured to Hermione. [b "I'll drop him in the Black Lake,"] he was only half-joking.
[b "We won't be that lucky. You heard what she was making us read in class and saw how she was trying not to full on let us have it when she told us to stop with all the nonesense. It's just a matter of what she could make us do and will. Honestly she scares me too with that expression of hers. It's like behind that calm there is an evil waiting to come out..."] Hermione said quietly as she couldn't help answering both Harry's and Ron's words. And she meant all of what she had said, though she didn't know why she felt the way she did. It was odd to say the least as not even Snape gave her that feeling and he had been their strickest professor and scared most students.
Her eyes went to Professor Sprout for a moment. And she could not help wondering if the woman knew who or what they were talking about. If she did, the woman gave no indications and didn't try to stop them either. In fact, she seemed VERY on edge like she was expecting the worst possible thing to come bursting in. It was strange. VERY strange and made the girl even more sure of Umbridge and the power she held over the head of their Professors and the school.
The girl eeped and tossed the root back at Harry. [b "I'm not the one to worry about. Draco would be. He is already becoming a nuisance with his power."] The girl said with a sigh and then looked to Ron. [b "How much worse is it, Ron? And if he tries to take points from any of us we can doc him as well."] And for an instant her protective part of her nature was showing. She would do it too.
Detentions and research. Quite the combination for the first day of school. [b "I don't know which one I'm less looking forward to. On one hand, Snape is a nightmare to begin with. On the other, I know what to expect with his detentions. We're going in blind with Umbridge."]
[i "She's probably going to make you paint her entire classroom pink. Either that, or make you read those Ministry law books. Either way, I don't envy you two,"] Ron chimed in.
[b "Something tells me she's not going to let us off that easy. I don't trust her. She always looks like she's plotting something with that blank stare of hers,"] Harry noted.
If Sprout overheard them discussing the new professor, she didn't tell them to stop. Truth be told, she looked on edge. Every few moments, she would glance at the door of the greenhouse as though expecting someone to burst in at any moment.
[b "You'll have patrol right after your detention, then. Try not to dock me points for being in the corridors after my detention with Snape finishes,"] Harry teased Hermione, tossing a scrap of root at her.
[i "I'm sure Malfoy would jump on the chance to take house points from any of us. Should have heard him during lunch. His ego's gotten even bigger, if that's possible,"] Ron said.
The girl gave a slight pout as she had expected they would beed their books. But she quickly put the book away and put her bag next to Harry's and Ron's. The two boys looked a little irritable from what she could tell as she put her work gloves on as well, offering a small smile to Harry as he gave the exaggerated praying hands. Honestly between Snape and Umbridge they had a rather harsh morning and first day back, so even she was grateful for it.
As she cut leaves and gently pulled some of the roots the girl nodded. [b "Getting two of the books started is a good way to go. And I think I found something in one of them...Hopefully we can manage before my patrol and our detentions."] The words were quiet and a little bit whined. She would have never expected that the both of them would have gotten into so much trouble. Well at least not so soon.
[i "You're the boss. And I do need the practice. Maybe I can take Fred and George with me."] The red haired boy seemed almost appeased from what had been said and the kick. Though he still didn't get what seemed to have gotten into both Harry and Hermione.
Ron's words irked Harry and the dark haired boy gave their friend a pointed stare. [b "Reading won't kill you. Besides, we've let Hermione take most of the work long enough. We need to start helping. If you don't want to, then fine, but I'm going to spend my free time going over those books with her whether you like it or not."]
Sure, it was probably a little too harsh, but Hermione already got snarky remarks from Malfoy. She didn't need it from one of her friends, either. Ron flushed red and turned his attention to putting his work gloves on. Harry fought the urge to roll his eyes and took a breath to calm himself.
[i "I'm taking pity on you all, so it'll be an easy class for your first day. We'll be preparing ingredients to stock Professor Snape's potions class. Get your pruning shears and get started,"] Professor Sprout entered the greenhouse, looking just as excited to be there as the rest of them.
Harry caught Hermione's eye over the table and mouthed, 'thank god' with an exaggerated prayer gesture. He set to work trimming off leaves and stems from the potted plants lining the middle of the table. [b "We can start two of those books before your patrol tonight, to get a head start on the research,"] he spoke to Hermione, glancing up over his glasses.
Ron grumbled beside him and Harry aimed a kick at his shin. [i "What the bloody hell was that for?"] Ron growled.
[i "Language, Mr Weasley,"] Sprout glared his way.
[b "Since we don't need you moping around while we work, you may as well go down to the Quidditch field and practice for the tryouts,"] Harry responded to him, seemingly appeasing the Weasley boy.
The girl held her stack of books against her chest, again her cheeks flushing from his words. Honestly she wished she would have known that before because she had spent many lonely hours in the library in their earlier years. [b "You're company would have been nice. And I could have helped you with assignments had you needed it. Ron on the otherhand would have been distracting. He just always complains over the reading or the assignment before he's even looked at it. He bases it on who gave it and not what we're asked to do."] The girl said quietly. Even to her it sounded like she had been complaining when she had done. [b "I'm sorry...I know I shouldn't be saying this or complaining."] Hermione quickly added as an after thought.
When the two walked into Herbology, Hermione smirked at Ron who gave Harry a wide-eyed look when told he would have to look into the books with them. [b "You knew you would get dragged into this too, Ron. Don't look so heartbroken."] The girl said as she took the books from Harry and put them and her own in her bag and getting out her herbology book and partchment for notes.
[i "Bloody girl is already trying to kill us with extra reading. What does she expect we'll find in those books anyway?"] Ron asked as he motioned to Hermione's bag and was still giving Harry one of his sour looks. The boy had been thinking he and Harry could leave the reading to Hermione as it was more her thing anyway.
His smile turned bashful. "I just got the simplest robes available. Poor Ron had to fiddle with all of those ruffles just to button everything. Maybe we should get him new dress robes for Christmas," he joked.
The bell interrupted their conversation, and Harry cursed it internally. It would be more class and then she'd be off to patrol again after dinner. Maybe he'd get his cloak and keep her company. While he knew she could take care of herself, he didn't like the idea of her having to be alone with someone who was basically a stranger. Harry didn't trust many people when it came to Hermione.
"Right. Best be off," he agreed reluctantly, taking his share of the book stack. "But just so you know, I'm more than happy to hang out in here with you any time you want. I just thought Ron and I would be too distracting for you, so we left you be."
Their next class was Herbology, so it was a welcomed break from the morning tension. Ron was already waiting for them, having snagged their usual place in the middle of the work bench. "Find what you were looking for?" He joked with a smirk towards the books in their arms.
"I don't know what you're laughing at," Harry replied. "You get to help us read them."
[b "Rita was hard to handle last year and was constantly after all of us...And it is really sweet that you thought about it that way, Harry.. but I could have handled her and the rumours that spread. The ball and dancing would have been a much better time had I spent it with you and not trying to constantly communicate with Viktor."] The girl was trying to get him to understand that she would have said yes. That she would have much rathered spent the night with him. Honestly she had found herself jealous and thinking that he was fawning over Cho or that he had asked one of the Patils because well he simply had not wanted to go with her. It in a way had made her feel better when he had explained it to her.
Her cheeks were still a dark pink when she looked up at him and gave a small smile. [b "That really is nice of you.. And honestly you had looked amazing in your dress robes."] Hermione attempted to return the complement to the boy, giving a small smile.
She couldn't help jumping as the bell signalling the end of the end of lunch rang. Quickly she closed the book she had been looking at and stood. [b "Erm...we should probably check these out and get to class? And Harry...thanks for coming to help. I've really liked having the company."] Why did she say that? And slowly she turned away from the boy and began to the librarian's desk to check the books out, but stayed close by after she had to wait for the boy.
Harry cleared his throat and fidgeted in his seat, still unable to meet her eyes. [b "I just...um..."] his brain was failing at making a coherent sentence.
He remembered the previous year that the jealousy had flared in him upon seeing Hermione dance with Krum. He let Ron believe that it was over not enjoying the dance, but he just couldn't stand watching Krum fawn over her all night. Harry had never felt jealousy like that before, he and didn't like how it felt.
[b "I would have asked,"] he clarified. [b "I wanted to. But with everything that had been going on with Rita insulting you in her articles, I didn't want to run the risk of you getting further press you didn't want. I thought you'd be better off not going with me. You don't need someone campaigning against you just because you went with me to the Ball."]
It was a partial truth. He had been more afraid that she would reject him on the basis that she would rather go with someone else. Harry wouldn't have blamed her. Being his friend was hard enough. Having to fight off romance rumors was something else entirely.
[b "You were still the best dressed person there,"] he attempted a compliment with a nervous smile.
[b "Lupin would be the best link to Kingsley...either him or Tonks. But she would as you pointed out somehow make a mess of things. Or more like be willing to try and get a revolution started. Though if it comes to it I know she would be more than willing to help us get the information."] Her words were thoughtful as she spoke. Her words also told the boy that she agreed that the Order did seem close knit but also as if they were at a loss as well and not much could be done.
Her nose was still in the book by the time Harry had mentioned the rule breaking and being back to it. There was still that eleven year old self to her that hated it and feared "getting killed or worse expelled" but there was also the fact that she was growing up. There was the fact that she realized if they were the good boys and girls everyone expected too many could be at risk. She was silent a moment before she looked up at her best friend and nodded. [b "It would appear we are. And IF this woman is as bad as we think...going to have to do our best to not get caught either. We've got to be the ones to do something."] Hermione found herself saying before she once more looked back to the book and the pair fell into a silence that was usual and comfoetable for them.
The girl was getting lost in the books she had taken to look through. And she was thoroughly focused as well. Only did she seem to lose her thought process for an instant each time her hair would fall into her face and she would swipe it away. It was Harry's blurted out words that had her breath catch and her eyes come up from the page she had been reading and rereading. Her cheeks held a pink in them and she quickly looked down as he was avoiding looking at her. [b "I wish I would have gone with you.. it would have truly been more fun."] Those were the only words she could say that would not, or she hoped would not give anything away.
Harry snorted with a grin. It wasn't often he got to hear Hermione openly criticize a professor. She was even willing to give Snape the benefit of the doubt half the time. Umbridge must have left quite the sour taste in her mouth. [b "I'll add Kingsley to the list of people to contact. Lupin might have a better shot at reaching him. The Order seems to be in permanent contact with each other."]
She was right about the monarchy of the Ministry. Everything he'd had to read about it proved that they were practically invincible. No one openly defied any decree legislated by the government, and there was little to be done in regards to breaching their laws.
He ran a hand through his hair, making it even more tousled and disheveled. Pretty soon he would be bald, given how often he found himself grabbing at the dark locks in frustration. [b "Looks like we're back to breaking rules,"] he tried to make light of the situation.
A comfortable silence fell over their table as they both dove into the books in front of them. Harry was not as devoted a reader and quickly became distracted by watching her. He could practically pinpoint every mannerism of hers by now. He found it especially endearing when Hermione would quickly swipe away locks of hair that fell in her eyes. She also had a small wrinkle in her forehead that would appear any time she was intensely focused, like she was at that moment.
[b "I should have asked you to the Yule Ball last year,"] he heard himself blurt out before his eyes flew wide and he looked everywhere but at her.
Hermione was thoughtful when he said he would be asking Sirius and Lupin about the situation and had to stop the small smile when Moody and Tonks was mentioned. But he had a point. Tonks and Moody were more than willing to get into trouble and to stand up against the Ministry. And then Sirius and Lupin would argue how best to get the information to them and what to do. It was interesting to say the least. But even she knew there were those they could not ask and in a sense that did sadden her. It saddened her because she felt they were going behind their backs in a sense. But they needed to know and couldn't afford to play the games.
[b "Kingsley might know....it would just be a chore to find a way of asking him. Because it is curious in how the other Professors avoid her like the plague. Though after today I can see why. The woman is a right gargoyle."]
When they got to the table, the girl was instantly sitting near one of the piles of books and shuffling through them. [b "You have to remember that while technically we are free...we are still in a different society than that of muggles, Harry. That we have a separate set of laws we follow being magical...even if some of us are originally from muggle society. They or rather the Ministry is like a monarchy in it's own way and is more powerful than we think. And in times like these they will exercise powers they don't usually... So yes they do have the power to censor our teachers."] Her nose had found its way into a book as she answered the question that had been asked. She didn't mean to sound like a little know -it-all but it was something she in a sense remembered after their second year and when Hagrid had been hauled off to Azkaban.
Harry held his arms out to take the books as she pulled them from the shelves. [b "Up until recently, I can't remember the Ministry ever taking such a defensive stance against threats. I don't recall any cover ups by them either. But, you're right. The book will tell us more."]
The books were heavy, but he stayed quiet as she piled them on. [b "I can try contacting Sirius later, and I'll get a letter out to Lupin. I'd suggest asking Moody as well, but he may just tell us to go ahead and start a revolution. And Tonks would be far too happy to back up that idea."]
It would be best to avoid speaking with select Order members regarding this new issue. Mr and Mrs Weasley would demand that they let it go and follow the rules, while the two remaining Marauders would bicker about how they should go about gathering information. [b "They must know about Umbridge, right? Especially if Kingsley works at the Ministry. She doesn't seem to have the best reputation, considering the other teachers are avoiding her like the plague."]
Once the books had been collected, he followed her to a table to place them down. The volumes varied in size, but most looked like they would take weeks to finish. [b "Does the Ministry really have the power to censor teachers? I heard a Hufflepuff mention that Umbridge sat in on their Herbology class first thing this morning, and took notes. He said that Sprout looked nervous,"] Harry mentioned as he skimmed through one of the history books.
The girl was skimming the titles on the shelf and pulling a big leather bound book down when Harry came up behind her. The girl held the book close ane couldn't help givint one of her looks that she was famous for giving either to him or to Ron. [b "Actually it's not. Without Divination I don't need my Time Turner anymore. I honestly wonder what the use to that class."] For a moment she couldn't help getting side-tracked.
Quickly the girl shook her head and a small smile was once more on her lips as the boy had moved closer. She knew it was so they could speak and not be shushed for it. Slowly she turned the book so he could see the title. [b "Wizarding Wars through the ages... I thought this might be useful to us...It may explain what happened before and previous Ministries and how things had been handled..."] She explained quickly in the event that someone be listening to theie conversation.
Almost as quickly as she had pulled the first book down, Hermione whirled around and was pulling more books from the shelves. [b "Sirius or Lupin may be good to ask about this...maybe they can tell us more too. I don't like that Umbridge woman and have the feeling she will ruin us all."]
Harry watched her go with a frown on his face. [b "It's Hermione. She's probably three steps ahead of us with whatever she's researching."]
He put down the half-eaten piece of toast he'd been snacking on and brushed crumbs off of his shirt. [b "I'm going to see if she needs any help. You okay for a bit?"]
Ron waved him off with a mouthful of chicken. [i "See you in class."]
She likely wasn't going to need his help at all, but knowing Hermione, she would lose track of time with her research. Better to stay with her and get them both to class on time. She hadn't left that long before he had, but she was already pulling something off the shelf when he found her.
[b "Please tell me this isn't another Time Turner situation where you have fifty classes at once? I don't think I can handle lecturing you on that one again,"] he leaned against a bookcase and grinned at her.
Seeing as it was only the first day, only a few other students hung around tables during their break from classes. [b "Anything I can help with?"] Harry stepped closer to her so they wouldn't be shushed by the librarian.
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