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The mood was almost light again but of course for the trio, that kind of luck never lasted. Harry could practically smell the oil on Malfoy's head before he'd actually noticed he'd interrupted them. The hair on the back of his neck stood up in annoyance.
[b "Must be a nice weight off of your shoulders, Malfoy, knowing that you won't have to compete with me as prefect. I'm sure it gets tough losing all the time,"] Harry snapped back.
No sooner had the words left his mouth that Hermione was on her feet to defend him. Harry smirked in Malfoy's direction, but it disappeared as the blonde hinted at them. The boy-who-lived jumped up and shoved Malfoy before Ron grabbed his arms and pulled him back. [i "Do you really want detention before classes even start?"] Ron forced him against the window to keep him from a fight.
[i "Watch it this year, Potter. Wouldn't want to cross a prefect, would you?"] Malfoy straightened his clothes and stomped off, Crabbe and Goyle in his wake.
[i "Are you insane? He's actually got some power over you now with this title. You two are always on me to ignore Malfoy, and now you both let him under your skin. What's going on?"] Ron stepped back and shut the door before turning to face them.
[b "Maybe I've been wrong. Maybe I should have let you punch him every time he opens his stupid mouth,"] Harry grumbled, sitting down with his arms crossed over his chest.
The words she spoke about Harry being her best friend and nothing changing it had hurt and a lot for her to say. But what could she have said? That she had fallen in love with him and wanted so much more? That she wanted things to change between them? Definitely not and she wouldn't be saying it to him unless she knew how he felt. So until she knew, them being best friends would have to be the best that could be. Her own smile was forced and she even forced a laugh at his next words. [b "It being Sirius and him being as bored as he is has probably already started to do just that."] It had been meant to lighten things a bit, though after she said it she was sure it probably made things worse.
As much as she wanted to say something, Hermione could only nod. She had not been honest herself. And had in a sense tried to avoid him since King's Cross and being on the train. A small smile came to her lips as she held out her pinky and linked them for a moment. [b "And I promise at least when it comes to you to try and not take things personally.. Or at least to try and talk to you."] The words slipped from her lips as she slowly stepped back and suddenly did realize how close they were do to the small space around them.
Slowly she nodded. [b "Probably a good idea. We both know how Ron can be."] The girl said as the door was opened and she stepped out. Her eyes were on the ground as the pair walked bacl to the compartment and re-entered to a confused looking Ron. It seemed he didn't understand and seemed just as confused as he had when they left or even more so. She couldn't tell and managed to smile and shrugged.
[b "Dunno, Ron. You know we wouldn't dream of getting into trouble without you."] She said sweetly and took her seat once more. The girl was trying not to appear as if she were thinking about the conversation she and Harry had had.
After awhile, the compartment door slid open and there stood Malfoy. His smirk was as smug as ever. [i "Just came to tell Granger and Weasley it's their turn for patrolling. Pity, Potter, Granger I would expect but you were the one I thought would be the male Prefect. What happened, was it decided that the golden boy isn't so golden. Wouldn't surprise me with all the rumours going round"]. The blonde said. He was clearly trying to get under Harry's skin.
Brown eyes shot to Draco as he began and she stood. [b "Just because you're a prefect doesn't mean you get to abuse it, Malfoy."] The girl said, glaring at the blonde boy. Maybe she shouldn't have let him get under her skin but she hated that he was taunting Harry like he was.
As soon as the girl stood and spoke, glaring a smirk crossed Draco's lips. [i "Didn't see this coming. So you and Granger, hm Potter?"]
Harry hadn't been expecting a love confession, but he had to admit that it stung a bit to hear her emphasize their close friendship, and that 'nothing would change it'. He wanted many changes, and that was at the top of the list. But, he hadn't exactly spilled his feelings, so he couldn't fault her for anything. He forced a smile on his face and nodded. [b "I think we might have to. Wouldn't want him to start planning a wedding in a fit of boredom, would we?"]
He pressed his fingernails in to his palms to calm down. [b "I'm sorry I didn't say anything this morning. You're right. It would have been easier to just talk about it instead of letting it get to me."]
Problem was, now it was going to stick in his head for a lot longer now that she knew of the situation. [b "I solemnly swear that I will not avoid you from now on,"] he joked, holding his pinkie out as a promise.
The close proximity of the small washroom was abruptly obvious. [b "We should probably get back to our compartment. Ron will be wondering where we got off to. Wouldn't want him to think I'm stealing his job,"] he forced a laugh.
Harry opened the door to let her out, taking a deep breath before following. Ron looked just as confused at their return as he had at their departure. [i "Should I be worried?"] he looked between them.
[b "Of course not. When have we ever gotten in to any trouble without you around?"] Harry mussed the redhead's hair as he flopped beside him.
Speaking her words had not exactly been easy for her. She knew they would come across badly and possibly hurt the boy. Not at all what she had wanted to do, but he did need to know why she was acting the way she was. And having heard his words had not exactly helped much either. Why on earth had Sirius even said what he had the night before? It made facing the one person that came to mean so much to her rather difficult. And there was no way she could bring herself to tell Harry what Sirius had said to her when he had left them. How did someone bring that sort of a thing up?
Slowly she looked to the boy once more. Seeing how difficult this conversation was on him made her feel doubly bad for how she had behaved. [b "I've noticed that he seems to have no filter before speaking.. It's partly how he and Mrs.Weasley have been arguing all summer long...but I do wish you would have told me.. I would have understood better if you had.."] The girl whispered and then gave a weak smile.
[b "It does seem rather odd that he kept being the one we got caught by.. So it is only natural he might think that. You..you're my best friend, Harry and nothing is going to change that. He just...I can see why..."] Even Hermione was fumbling around her words. The girl was still picturing how blunt Sirius had been the night before when she had scolded the man. And she was also thinking how she could not tell Harry how she really felt either. Her crush on him was becoming unmanageable and harder to keep hidden.
[b "Maybe we should both talk to Sirius next we have the chance? And tell him the truth?"] The truth she meant was that they were close and best friends. And as much as she hated it, there was nothing going on btween them. How could there be? He was The Boy Who Lived and well she was one of several silly girls who had a thing for him. He was her best friend and as far as she knew he only saw her as a sister.
His eyes clenched shut. [b "You did nothing wrong. I didn't mean to make you feel that way."] God, he had been a terrible friend. [b "I just didn't know how to approach the situation."]
There was no way this was going to get easier to talk about. Harry took one look at her and saw the concern in her eyes, and he felt lightheaded. Was there an appropriate way to tell her that his godfather hoped that they would get together? No, definitely not. Maybe he could bend the truth just a smidge to make it less awkward to deal with. [i Right,] he told himself. [i Rip it off like a bandage.]
[b "Sirius just mentioned...it's uh..."] his foot began to bounce anxiously. [b "He noticed that we were spending a lot of time together."] Make eye contact, Harry. [b "He wondered if something was going on."]
There. It was out. Well, sort of. He managed to tell her what Sirius had hinted at without admitting that his godfather had noticed his almost painful crush on her. It would have to do for now.
[b "I got flustered and I didn't want to make things awkward for you. Sirius doesn't really have a filter before he speaks and the last thing I wanted to do was make you uncomfortable, so I thought it would be easier to avoid talking about it until I got less...flustered,"] he concluded like an idiot.
The girl was thankful for her hair which curtained around her face when she left the boys. She was trying so hard to not let tears fall that were threatening to fall. She honestly hated that she seemed so snippy and moody, but she couldn't much help it either. What hurt the most was that she was acting the way she was towards Harry. Ron she could handle doing it to because she was always mad at him, but not the Boy Who Lived.
Her hand came up to brush her hair back and she froze as she heard the steps coming after her. She hoped that maybe it was just someone who decided to roam, but that was a long shot in hell when Harry caught up to her and she heard his words. Did she really want to talk to him and in private? No, not at that moment but she hated being so angry and so followed after the boy. If they didn't try and at lwast sort things out the others would continue to press them both for what seemed to be the problem.
Brown eyes fell on the boy when the only place they were able to find was a washroom. It would not have been her own personal choice, but everywhere else had been full and being overheard at this rate was the last thing they needed. For a few moments she was silent and then looked down, a hand coming up and again pushing her bushy hair back. [b "I...Harry I'm sorry. But I just couldn't help getting hurt by it. All morning I've been trying to get your attention and to talk to you about.. What he did and said didn't help anything and I wanted to see if you were okay...but you wouldn't give me the chance and I just thought you were upset with me. I do hate being angry with you...and I'm sorry too."] As she spoke her eyes had gone to the floor and bit her lip.
Harry had jostled awake as Ron entered the compartment and sat on his feet. He shifted and dropped his hood, tugging his feet free and adjusting them to the floor. [b "Sorry,"] he murmured.
A risky glance towards Hermione told him all he needed to know. She was still hurt. He could tell by the way she was glaring at her book like she could make it explode with her eyes. It made his chest ache.
[i "Are the two of you okay?"] he heard Ron ask.
Her book snapped shut before Harry could answer. He watched her rise and exit the compartment, letting the door close a little more harshly than necessary. [i "Seriously, what's going on?"]
[b "Excuse me,"] Harry ignored the question and rose to follow her.
She was already halfway down the hall before he caught up to her. [b "I'm sorry,"] he blurted out.
There was a moment of silence. [b "Can we talk?"]
He wasn't sure she'd even look at him. [b "Somewhere private?"]
There are no free compartments with the amount of students on board, but he managed to find them an empty washroom. He slid the lock in place behind them and let his head hit the wood. [b "I shouldn't have ignored you. And I certainly didn't mean to upset you. I didn't sleep well, and Sirius got me a bit agitated so I haven't been myself today. I'm sorry,"] he repeated.
The girl sat with her knees pulled up and her head on her lap in the Prefect's Compartement with all the other prefects. She had tried to find a place where she didn't have to be close to them becauae her mind was on Harry and not the job. They had yet to be given their job descriptions and so she knew there was still time to let her mind roam.
When the seat beside her sank down the slightest bit her head slowly raised. Beside her sat Ron who had a brow raised and a bit of a concerned look on his face. He knew ahe had been moody, but seeing her not at all happy to be a prefect was clearly something the boy didn't understand. [i "Everything alright, Hermione? You seem like you don't want to be here...or more like your mind isn't here."] The Weasley boy said.
A sigh slipped from the girl's lips as she forced herself to smile. She would be damned to tell Ron anything that had happened. [b "I'm just tired, Ron. Couldn't sleep much last night because was anxious for school to be starting again and our new positions."] The girl said and then stood to move closer to the others. And when she did, all the others took their seats as well as their responsibilities were divided and explained to them.
Ron and she would be the last two doing patrols and so were free to wander the train. Slowly, Hermione walked with Ron, checking in compartments until they found Harry alone in one. Without even hesitating, Ron slid the door open and walked in, taking a seat. Hermione was a little slower to slip into the compartment and when she did, the girl took the seat opposite the boys and opened her book to read. She didn't even try to talk to them.
Ron blinked as he looked between Hermione and Harry. Usually the two would be talking or at least near the other. What had happened? [i "Are the two of you okay?"] The red haired boy asked.
Hermione's book snapped shut as she looked to the two boys. [b "I'm perfectly fine. If the two of you will excuse me...I am going to see if one of the others want to trade out for a little while."] She most certaintly was not okay and honestly was looking for an excuse to get away.
Harry watched her scurry off and had to stop himself from following her and apologizing. He knew his avoidance had upset her, and noticed the way she kept trying to catch his eye. He just needed to clear his head of the thoughts Sirius had placed there.
The boy was so lost in thought that he hadn't noticed Ginny come up beside him. It isn't until she nudged his arm and repeated her question that he acknowledged her. [b "I'm sorry, I'm not quite here this morning,"] Harry gestured to his head.
[i "That doesn't quite answer the question,"] Ginny pressed.
[b "It's kind of hard to explain,"] Harry continued to dodge the question, stepping off the platform and on to the train.
[i "Well we have a bit of a long train ride. Plenty of time to try, at least,"] the girl was determined.
Harry bit his tongue before he could say anything rude. He located an empty compartment and quickly claimed it for them. [b "It was just a conversation I had with Sirius last night, that's all. It's got me thinking."]
[i "And it has something to do with Hermione,"] she stated instead of questioning.
The boy sighed and let his head hit the seat behind him. [b "It's not something I want to particularly discuss, Ginny. I'm sorry."]
He felt guilty just referencing something about Hermione to Ginny. He knew that she nursed a crush on him a few years prior, and he would feel like a jerk for talking about fancying another girl in front of her. Still, she didn't seem angry. In fact, her expression was almost understanding. [i "Well, if you change your mind, I'll be a few compartments down. My friends are waiting."]
She softly closed the door behind her and Harry groaned. He'd upset his two close friends in less than twelve hours, and now had to sit alone for most of the ride. Harry turned sideways on the seat and drew his knees up to his chest with his back to the window. He tugged the hood of his sweater over his eyes and tried to relax, willing sleep to take him before his thoughts ran even more wild.
Hermione was woken by Lupin who had been sent to find her after Molly had gone to wake her and Ginny but found that Hermione was not in her bed. The man had given her a light scolding and even had asked how she had fallen asleep in the study. Having a respect of the man, especially since they had him as a teacher in their third year. So she told him simply that she had not been able to sleep and had found that reading was a comfort and had helped her fall asleep. It wasn't a full lie, but not the full truth either. The girl just couldn't tell him that she had been up with Harry and then Sirius had made things awkward.
When she had left the study to wash up and then to dress, Hermione couldn't keep her mind off a certain wizard who happened to be her best friend. The girl wanted to talk to him. She wanted to make sure that they were okay, especially after what Sirius had done. But whenever she tried, it seemed everyone got in the way or he purposely tried to avoid her. And it did sting and a lot. A couple of times she had to stop herself crying because of it.
[i "Hermione, are you okay? You seem a bit down.."] Ginny said as the two girl stood beside Mrs.Weasley whom was barking out instructions on how things were going to go. And who would be paired with which escorts.
Quickly she brushed the stray tear from her cheek as for a moment she caught sight of Harry and he was then towards the back with Tonks, Lupin and Sirius. [b "Yeah, I'm fine.. just didn't sleep much because of nerves. I mean being a prefect is a bit scary."] The girl lied because she didn't want the other girl or ANYONE to really know why she seemed so off.
The journey to King's Cross was an awkward one. Everytime she tried to catch the boy's gaze it was like he would look away. Her mind began reeling and she was getting worried he was angry with her or something. When finally at the station and making their way through it, the big shaggy black dog who decides to accompany them pranced around her feet. Several times did he nearly trip her until she did end up literally falling into Harry. With a dark red in her cheeks, the girl regained herself and backed away. She would not look him in the eye, but merely scowled at the black dog sitting near them who appeared to be snickering.
[b "Harry...I'm sorry..."] But it was all she could manage to say. Her emotions were getting to her and she knew that she had to be one of the first ones on the train because of her newly found prefect's duty. [b "Erm...see you later.."] And with that she all but scampered off.
Ginny stopped beside Harry and tilted her head. She knew that Harry and Hermione usually got along really well and seeing the exchange between them was odd to say the least. [i "Umm..is everything okay?"] The Weasley girl asked as she looked at the boy.
Harry took advantage of the morning rush and busied himself with dodging between Weasleys as they prepared to leave for the train. It gave him an excuse to avoid running in to Hermione, whom he couldn't quite look in the eye after the previous night's conversation with Sirius. So, he kept his eyes on the floor and hurried between the washroom and the bedroom, gathering the last of his things.
[i "Come on, you lot! I'll leave you at the train station if you miss the Express!"] Molly called up the stairs to the teens.
[i "It happens one year, and you never hear the end of it,"] Ron grumbled as he latched his suitcase.
[b "We did destroy the car,"] Harry reminded him, hoisting his own trunk off the bed.
The boys bantered back and forth all the way down to the main floor where they joined the rest of the family. The dark-haired boy carefully maneuvered himself around the group, so as to not get caught pressed near Hermione. Instead, he stood himself by Lupin and Tonks, listening as they rambled on about the procedure for leaving.
[i "Wouldn't be avoiding a certain witch now, would you? Don't want to be rude, Harry,"] Sirius walked up behind him and leaned close to talk.
[b "I was fine until you opened your big mouth,"] Harry snipped back.
[i "Trying to help things along, that's all."]
And what a help he was. The entire journey to King's Cross filled him with paranoia. It was almost a mantra of 'don't stare at her, don't stare at her' in the back of his head, in fear that he'd look Hermione's way too long. When they finally arrive at the station, Harry once more tried to take his place near the back of the pack to avoid interaction.
The final exchange between Harry and Sirius got the girl's attention because it seemed to really unnerve Harry. Her head tilted to the side, but before she could even ask what had been said, because she had not heard it Harry was quickly getting up and retreating. Just from how her friend looked, it was like he was trying to hide something and that in itself kind of hurt but she wasn't being honest herself.
[b "Erm...Yeah, see you in the morning. Sleep well."] Hermione managed just before the boy was fully out of the kitchen. When he was gone, brown eyes shot to Sirius who looked back at her lazily. [b "And just what did you say to him?"] The girl demanded as she stood, arms crossing as she gave the man a pointed look. She wanted to know because Harry had been fine before whatever Sirius last said to him.
Sirius couldn't help his chuckle as he looked at the girl. Sometimes she did remind him a lot of Lily, minus the red hair and green eyes. The man slowly stood and raised his hands as if he were innocent. [i "I simply asked if the two of you would be admitting how you feel anytime soon."] There was no point in lying to the girl and he wanted to clearly see how Hermione would take it.
Her cheeks almost instantly reddened and she looked away from the man. [b "We...uh..we are just friends. There is nothing between us. Besides he only sees me as a sister and someone else already has her eyes on him... But..I..um I'm going to bed now. Night, Sirius."] And with those words, the bushy haired teen girl quickly left the kitchen. But instead of going back to bed as she said, she found her way back to the study and curled up on the little sofa within, reading until she fell into sleep. Her dreams being about her and a certain green-eyed boy whom she very much adored and found herself quite smitten with.
Harry felt her hand grasp his and did his best to fight off the blush creeping across his cheeks. [b "If you're sure then. A little bit longer won't hurt."]
He returned the grip on her hand, praying that his godfather wouldn't take notice. It really shouldn't have come as a surprise when the older man caught on and leaned close to call them on it. Any chance of staying calm was immediately erased.
[b "I don't...we uh...actually, we should be going,"] Harry sputtered and stood quickly, nearly knocking his chair over in the rush. [b "I'm feeling a little more tired than I was earlier. Better try to get some rest if I'm going to get up in time to beat the Weasleys to the washroom."]
The boy couldn't even look them in the eye as he backed towards the door. [b "Goodnight Sirius,"] he cast a wave in their direction. [b "Hermione, I'll see you in the morning."]
Harry let the kitchen door swing shut behind him and for a moment he stood in the darkness of the hallway. He'd been doing his best to keep those thoughts locked away, and with one sentence, Sirius had managed to ruin that progress. He simply couldn't think of Hermione in that way. There's far too much danger just being his friend, let alone getting any closer.
With stumbling steps, he found his way back to the bedroom and collapsed on to the bed. With only a few hours left before they were all due to be up, he let himself fall in to a fitful slumber, where a girl with bushy brown hair and chocolate eyes awaited him.
Hermione gave another playful pout at him. [b "Still could have asked. Though, given what the Dursleys are like you're forgiven."] The girl said as she pushed the plate away. Honestly she was kind of relieved that Harry had stolen the rest of her buscuit because she hadn't really wanted it but would feel guilty if she didn't eat it.
The girl was about to ask if Harry was bothered by anything else, but jumped slightly when the cough came and a new presence had joined them. When she saw who it was, Hermione's cheeks lit up a bright pink and her heart was fluttering in her chest. Why did it seem like they were always caught by Sirius, and why did it almost feel like they had done something wrong? There shouldn't have been anything wrong with them wanting a late night snack or wanting to chat for a little while, surely?
Hermione's hands now sat folded in her lap as she listened to the banter between godfather and godson. It almost made her heart ache for the pair because they did seem almost a proper family and to enjoy the others company. In all actuality, Harry and Sirius were very similar and happened to both be locked away against their wills or kept out of things. But when she heard her name mentioned, the brunette was brought out of her thoughts and her cheeks flushed.
Brown eyes went between Sirius and Harry and a small smile came to her lips. [b "Ronald and I do have patrols during the train ride.. But we share the responsibilty with the other prefects...and I am sure Ron and I can take turns.. So..there will be some time to sleep if we want."] The girl said, shooting her words at Sirius mostly. She then looked to Harry fully and the same soft smile that had become a trademark of hers with him was back in place. Her hand slowly went to his under the table and hopefully out of Sirius's view as she gave his hand a gentle squeeze. [b "I don't mind staying up at all...Besides...I'm not really getting tired..nerves have me up and I like listening since I can't really do anything else."] She whispered.
Sirius was watching the two teens and couldn't help a smirk. The man shook his head and ate his biscuit. [i "The two of you do plan on getting to bed soon, though?"] He asked with a pointed look at the two.
He then leaned over to whisper in Harry's ear. [i "When are the two of you going to admit it?"] He asked, with a chuckle and them leaned away again. The man knew Harry would know what his words had meant. And he knew that Hermione and Harry liked the other, but was curious if even they were aware that they seemed closer than friends and the others talked about it when the two teens were not around.
[b "You were taking too long. It looked too delicious to pass up,"] he tried to play innocent, smiling mischievously. [b "Besides, I'm famished. Dursleys don't keep good snacks now that Dudley is attempting a boxing career."]
He felt mildly better that Hermione shared his thoughts on Ron being a prefect. Still, he felt like an ass that he was jealous in the first place. If McGonnagal thought their friend would be a good choice, then there was clearly a reason. He just had to accept that.
Harry opened his mouth and was about to speak when they were interrupted by a new presence. His heart stopped for a brief moment before realizing who it was. A flush crept on to his neck and face. [b "You know me. Always hungry,"] he pulled his hand back to his lap.
Why did it feel like they'd been caught doing something far more scandalous? Sirius was casting a playful grin at them, and it was getting hard to meet his eyes. [i "Ah yes, I'm sure these biscuits are quite appetizing. I felt like having one myself, so I got out of bed at,"] he glanced at the clock on the wall. [b "Three o'clock in the morning to have one. Couldn't wait until breakfast. I'm sure you had the same thoughts."]
The Boy Who Lived felt like a child under scrutiny. [b "Didn't eat much at breakfast. Then I couldn't sleep. Guess I'm excited to head back to school tomorrow."]
[i "How nice of our dear Hermione to keep you company, and protect you against the likes of the dangerous Kreacher,"] Sirius took a place at the table. [i "But I do suggest getting sleep at some point. We'll have to leave early to get to the train on time. Especially if we're going to miraculously get the entire Weasley clan out of here on time. Those twins are a handful, aren't they?"]
[b "No worse than you Marauders,"] Harry teased. [b "Besides, we can always sleep on the train. Wouldn't be the first time."]
[i "You can be lazy all you like, but if memory serves, our two prefects will be occupied during much of the ride. Hermione will have to be alert for that,"] he looked to the young girl.
Harry felt a stab of guilt. Of course, she would need rest. He was being a pain by keeping her up. [b "He's right. You don't have to stay and listen to me mope. I'm sure you're getting tired."]
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