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[b "Anyone would feel the same in your place Harry.. It's all so much to handle and to come to terms with.. Actually I'm quite impressed at how you have been handling it."] The girl admitted, almost timidly. She was hoping her words wouldn't push any buttons with him. Honestly that was the last thing she wanted to do, but she also wanted him to know that he truly wasn't being as silly as he thought he was being.
As he teased her, a real smile graced her lips and she shrugged as a laugh slipped her lips. [b "Come on.. You know even if I didn't suggest it you would want to do it anyway and probably would. But I suppose being round Fred and George all summer has rubbed off a bit."] Hermione found herself saying, the smile still gracing her lips.
Her brown eyes fell on the boy and she could not help the red that rose in her cheeks. [b "I, ah well... People change. But I know I did for the better because I've got you as a friend..."] The words were out before she could stop them. And then she pouted when he stole the rest of her biscuit from her plate. [b "That was mine."] She whined, clearly teasing the boy.
A cough came from the entrance to the kitchen and Sirius came into the moonlight. [i "Enjoying a late night snack are we?"] The man asked the two teens with a wink
Harry lifted his head but couldn't bring himself to do more than a forced smile as he squeezed her hand in return. [b "I feel like I'm just being overly sensitive. Being kept in the dark all summer and now this, it's all just gotten to me. Won't be the same without being around you as much."]
Her mention of Quidditch made him feel slightly better. He'd momentarily forgot his place as seeker would keep him occupied outside of class hours. Harry supposed he could just throw most of his time at practicing even outside of Gryffindor team sessions. It would be far better than sitting in the Common Room and listening to Seamus and Dean talk about their latest romantic prospects. Still, the suggestion to join her and Ron on their rounds was tempting.
[b "Hermione Granger is suggesting that we break school rules? Being around the twins this long has changed you,"] he teased as a real smile bloomed on his face. [b "I recall a certain young girl scolding Ron and I quite savagely for even considering breaking curfew."]
He could still remember it clearly. Eleven year old Hermione, wise beyond her years, telling them both off after their run-in with Fluffy. [b "Maybe I've been a bad influence on you after all,"] he stole the remainder of her biscuit from her plate.
Dark eyes softened as she listened to his spoken words. So he saw it in the same light that she did. Honestly, the bushy haired girl couldn't even farhom how Ron had become the prefect with her. It wasn't like she wasn't happy for him. Wasn't happy that at least one of her two friends was prefect with her, but it just felt odd. And now looking at it, Hermione knew she would have even more to worry about as she didn't see the boy chosen taking it seriously and the power of it going to his head.
[b "I don't think it terrible, Harry. Quite honestly I always saw it as you and me becoming the Gryffindor Prefects together. Everyone knows you and I work very well together and get along A LOT better than Ron and I do...you're the one I was looking forward to working with...I mean I know Ron has his good points and I'm happy for him...but this...it won't be the same without you..and I'm...."] But she quickly cut her last words off. She didn't want to tell him that she was afraid she would be failing and would lose her temper more often than not.
Slowly she shook her head and plucked a biscuit from the plate, only nibbling on it. She wasn't all that hungry but was more or less using it to buy herself a little time. When she heard his muffled words, her hand slowly reached over and rested on his and she gave it a small squeeze. [b "I'm sure Quidditch will help keep you busy too...and you could use the time with your homework...or even come with Ron and me on the rounds"] And she knew he would know what she was implying. Usually she wouldn't suggest breaking the rules as she was normally better behaved than the boys were, but that was how much she would miss his company. And it was also a way she knew she would be able to fight herself in getting overly moody with Ron.
Harry gave her a faint smile. [b "Don't worry, I was awake long before you came to the door."]
He set their snacks on the table and grabbed some milk to go with it. He wasn't particularly hungry, but he knew it was only from his nerves. By now, his stomach would normally be craving something to eat. His mood was the only thing keeping him from shoveling everything in his mouth.
Her question reached his ears and for a moment he debated lying. Telling her that he was perfectly fine would have been easy. But this was Hermione. Brightest witch of their age, compassionate, considerate Hermione. With the amount of times Harry had put her in danger, there was no way that he was going to lie to her again.
[b "It's stupid, really. Just a bit of hurt pride, I guess."]
He toyed with a biscuit in his hands before meeting her eyes. [b "I guess I always thought it would have been you and I as Gryffindor prefects. Spending more time together, going on patrols of the castle. I was kind of looking forward to it. But then..."] Harry trailed off.
He let out an awkward cough. [b "I'm happy for him, truly. He's one of my best friends. I'd be selfish to not be. But you and I always got along better then you and him. And...I guess I'm jealous, in a way, that he'll get to see you more than I will, when he couldn't even care less about the job."]
Ashamed, he dropped his head to the table. [b "I'm sorry, that sounds terrible. I have no right to be jealous. It's not like I have a claim to your time. I'll be fine, once school starts. I'll find something to occupy myself with while you two are off on rounds. Maybe even do all of my homework,"] his voice was muffled by the wood.
The girl couldn't say she was shocked that Harry had been awake. She knew from experience that he didn't much sleep, but she still couldn't help feeling slightly guilty for having come to him. If she were honest and had any sense left for the night she would have stayed in her bed. She would have tried to make herself get some sleep, but something deep down had tugged at her. If asked Hermione knew she would not be able to explain it other than she has just wanted one more quiet night with the boy she had seen as a brother but now saw as so much more even if she couldn't bring herself to tell him so.
For a moment, brown eyes were locked on the boy before her and then moved to the other boy who was still for lack of better words dead to the world. [b "Everything's fine..."] Came her whispered words as she gave a weak smile before looking once more at the floor feeling her cheeks heat up in a blush she didn't want seen.
When the two teens entered the kitchen, Hermione closed the door behind them and turned her attention to the raven haired boy who was getting biscuits out for them. [b "No...I wasn't able to sleep either...And you really don't have to worry about me...I'm honestly sorry I was thoughtless and bothered you..."] She found the words rushing past her lips before she could stop them and was mentally kicking herself for letting them slip.
Quickly she busied herself getting some of the tea that had been left over onto a tray to try and distract herself. [b "You said that you couldn't sleep either...did you need to talk about it..?"] Hermione finally asked as she moved over to his side, handing him one of the cups she had been holding.
Harry didn't know how long he'd been lying there. The cracks in the ceiling had been counted several times over, and he couldn't be bothered to do it again. Ron continued to snore, unbothered by the dark-haired boy's inability to rest.
He rose from the bed and padded over to Ron's side of the room. There, on his desk, was the prefect letter. Harry grabbed it and retreated to the window where he could by the light of the moon. It hurt far more to read it in person. Right there, clear as day, the congratulations for having been selected as Gryffindor's male prefect. It took all of his willpower to not crumple the parchment in his fist.
Harry returned the paper to the desk, readying himself to get back in to bed though his stomach now churned worse than it had already been. As he pulled back the blanket, he heard it. A faint knock. For a moment he thought he had imagined it, or just heard the house creaking. Then he heard the slight shuffle outside the door.
He crossed the floor and pulled the door toward him, revealing Hermione standing nervously. [b "Is everything okay?"] he asked, his brow furrowing as his eyes searched her for an injury.
Glancing back at Ron, he held a finger to his lips and gestured for her to follow him. It wasn't until they were safe in the kitchen that he spoke again. [b "You couldn't sleep either?"]
He should be more concerned that she wasn't in bed, but at the moment, he was just grateful to have some company. [b "If you want to talk about it, I'd be happy to try and help,"] he offered as he pulled some biscuits out of a cupboard for them.
When they had gotten down to dinner, Hermione's cheeks were still a bit pink. One reason they were pink had been that Harry had compared her to Matilda which had been one of her favourite book characters when she was growing up; the other reason for the pinkness in her cheeks was that she had snapped off at Ron AGAIN. She really couldn't tell what was wrong with her, but for some reason this summer he had gotten under her skin more and more. Was it becausw she had been trapped with their red haired friend and there was truly no place for her to retreat? Or was everything slowly adding up?
Dinner was relatively quiet. It was more a time of bonding than anything else. And even if she didn't say it, it almost made her sad. Because seeing the Weasleys together as they were and getting those last hours with their parents made her miss her own. It was a silly thought compared to everything and compared to her other best friend who didn't even know his family. But nonetheless it stung and she was grateful for the packing she still had to do as it gave her reason to retreat for a little while and to get away.
As the hours ticked by and brown eyes stared up into the darkness, Hermione found sleep almost impossible. Her mind was racing, which wasn't anything new compared to their last school years or even the time when they had off. She almost wished for time to spend with Harry alone again. It had been nice and quiet and it had been something she realized that once back at Hogwarts she would miss. God she wished it had been him instead of Ron who had become a prefect with her. Now it seemed she would always get less time with Harry and spend more time trying to keep her temper in check, making sure Ron didn't get under her skin. So far though, the bushy-haired brunette seemed to be failing miserably.
By two, Hermione found she still couldn't find sleep and so slowly slipped out of bed and the room, padding as silently down the hall as she could. The girl stopped outside of Harry and Ron's shared room and bit her lip as she could hear the grizzly snores of Ron. Did that mean that Harry was asleep too? It was late afterall, but before she made a conscious choice, her hand that had been raised tapped lightly on the door and she stood there frozen. What had she done? Possibly woken her best friend because she was being selfish and couldn't sleep. She hoped he wouldn't be angry with her.
Harry held his hand out, looking to make sure that she was okay that he took the book from her. He skimmed the summary on the back, and quickly read over the first page. [b "This Matilda sounds familiar,"] he smiled wryly at her. [b "Talented girl, far more intelligent than her age. It's like I'm reading the story of Hermione Granger. Minus the mean family."]
He handed it back when Molly called them for dinner. [b "Best not keep her waiting too long. Wouldn't want the food to get cold. You know, it's not like we can magically keep it warm,"] he joked.
Dinner was fairly quiet, as far as Weasley family meals go. They'd be back at Hogwarts in just over a day, and it seemed like they were all just enjoying each other's company before the parents bid their children farewell for another school year. Luckily for Harry, he'd yet to unpack all of his things.
By the time they retired for bed, Harry's head was throbbing. The events of the past few days had caught up with him finally, and his thoughts were running rampant. He still wasn't completely thrilled about being left in the dark all summer, but he was doing his best to try to understand their reasoning.
He was almost tempted to drag Hermione from her bed for another late night tea session, but couldn't bring himself to do it. He didn't want to risk sulking about not being a prefect with her, and ruin her excitement. She deserved it more than anyone, and if Harry had to bite his tongue and smile for her, he damn well would.
Her eyes didn't come up from her book again until she felt the nudge by Harry and heard his question. [b "It's when you see the yelling matches they have. So mostly when they get it wrong."] The girl responded with a faintly amused smile.
She could feel the soft burning in her cheeks and the flutter of her heart beat pick up when the boy's shoulder was pressed against hers that slightest bit. Though she hated to say it or admit it, Harry being close had affected her in such ways since their third year but she had always pushed it to the side. Had alwayd told herself that he was her friend and only could see her as a sister. Besides, she knew how Ginny felt and didn't want to step on her toes. So she had to regain herself and regain herself quickly.
Hernione closed the book and offered a small smile. [b "When I say a light read..this time I mean a very light read. It's 'Matilda'. When I was just learning to read, mum would sit with me at night and read it with me...just it made me think of home and I thought it would be a nice read."] The girl explained and then quickly looked down. [b "I'm sorry...rambling again.."]
[i "Harry, Ginny, Fred, George, Ron, Hernione get down here you lot! It's time for dinner!"] Mrs. Weasley shouted up the stairs before Hermione could even think of anything else to say.
Ginny and the twins scrambled from the room. They were trying to make sure that their mother wouldn't be coming up the stairs as there was still a little smoke left from the failed attempt. Besides they wanted the food too.
Ron moved back over to Harry and Hermione. [i "Fun talk? And can we please go now? I want foood."] The redhead said, seeing that both had not yet moved from the couch.
Hermione moved her book to the small table and stood as she shot Ron a look. [b "Sometimes Ronald, I think you care about food more than anything else."] She couldn't help the snap as her mood was still sour with the boy from earlier. Brown eyes then went to Harry. [b "I'll see you downstairs..."] And with that the bush-haired brunette left the room and made her way down the stairs.
Harry rolled his eyes and smirked at the redhead. [b "I think you'll be surprised at my skills."]
He settled on the floor with his back against the couch. It wasn't even five minutes in to the game when he started to lose terribly. His brow furrowed as he scowled at the board, trying to figure out where he went wrong. Truth be told, he wasn't focused completely on the game.
Jealousy still burned in his chest over losing the prefect position to Ron. Granted, he wasn't the most studious and he tended to attract trouble, but surely he was the best option from Gryffindor? Compared to the other boys in his year, he was by far the top prospect.
He gave his head a shake. Pride would get him nowhere. He should be happy that his friend was selected. Ron would be a good prefect. Maybe it would even give him some maturity. Then again, the realization that Ron would get more time with Hermione was enough to keep the jealousy burning. Harry had always considered himself closer to their friend than Ron had ever been. It irked him that he would be losing time with her over this.
He heard Ginny repeat his name, and he snapped out of his thoughts. [b "Sorry, what?"]
[i "I said 'checkmate'. I think that's the worst game you've played yet,"] she tried to smile, but it didn't quite reach her eyes.
[b "It's been a long few days. My head's not quite in the right place. Next time, I'll be the winner,"] he assured her, rising from the table.
A small fire erupted in the corner where the twins frantically grabbed a blanket to extinguish it. Another failed experiment. [i "No trouble at all. We'll figure it out in a jiff,"] George quickly announced.
[b "I'm not sure what's more frightening; when they fail, or when they succeed,"] Harry grinned, nudging Hermione a bit to take a seat next to her.
[i "Trick question! The most frightening is when Mum starts yelling,"] Ron taunted his brothers.
[b "Good book?"] Harry took a moment while the brothers argued to lean closer to Hermione. His heart sped up slightly at the warmth of their shoulders pressed together, but he dismissed the thought. [b "I don't think I've seen you read this one before."]
She felt bad acting the way she did, but Ron was always so thoughtless ans it made her skin crawl. She had been lucky not to lash out at him and tell him directly what she was thinking. Even Hermione was aware, more than aware of the last days that had been spent at the dark and dreary Grimmauld Place and didn't want to have another of hers and Ron's ever famous show downs. Honestly she was tired of them as they had many bouts as it was and still the holiday wasn't over. The only good thing about being stuck in the grim old once noble House of Black was the being able to see Harrt again and them being able to have some free time to themselves to catch up.
Without thinking, thw tirl's hand had given the raven-haires boy's hand a faint squeeze as brown eyes just managed to fall on him before he had made his way past her. [b "Yeah, I'm fine..don't worry about me."] Hermione whispered before Harry was completely past her and had taken his seat. Her words had been meant as a comfort to her best friend, though she hadn't spoken them with much conviction and didn't even fully believe them herself.
Soon, the girl made her way over towards where Ginny and Harry sat and she took a seat, opening her book. Slowly she looked over towards the twins and Ron. [b "You know the lot of you are in for another scolding and again your mum will try and hide all of your experiments. Best try and keep it from exploding too much."] It came out a lot more haughty than was meant, but she was trying to look out for the Weasley boys as she didn't want to watch or hear another yelling match between the twins and Mrs. Weasley. Personally all the arguments in the past weeks had left her with a headache and she just wanted some peace.
After her words had been spoken, brown eyes fell to the pages of the book that lay open across her lap as she began to read. A soft red rose in her cheeks and her eyes quickly came up and locked on Harry and a small smile traced her lips. [b "You know I'll always bail you out.."] But her words were meant as more than just the game he was about to start with Ginny.
The red-haired girl tilted her head as she watched the two. A small frown was upon her lips as watching them clearly stung. [i "Are you ready to play and to lose?"] Ginny asked, smugly as she tried to regain her composure.
It was at Ginny's reaction did Hermione move slightly back and once more bury her nose in the book. But even as she was reading as each piece shattered, the girl would look up to see who was winning.
The bitter feeling in his chest prevented Harry from meeting Ron's eyes on the way out of the room. [b "Not sure. Maybe she's just tired. It's been a hectic few days, I imagine."]
Whatever was bothering her, Harry made note to ask her about it privately. With no outdoor escape like at the Burrow, the last thing any of them needed was another Hermione and Ron fight while being cooped up in Grimmauld Place. No doubt Ron would take Hermione's sudden mood swing personally. Poor girl never could seem to voice her feelings without him jumping down her throat.
[b "You alright?"] Harry murmured from behind her when they locate the Weasley siblings, crowded around some fizzing contraption the twins had been working on.
He allowed his hand to give hers a faint squeeze on his way by, offering whatever silent comfort he could. [b "That's not going to catch the room on fire, is it?"] Harry asked the twins, taking a seat on the cushy chair by the fire.
Fred snorted. [i "That would be the least of our worries."]
[b "I don't think that's as reassuring as you think it is,"] the raven-haired boy retorted.
[i "It's meant to do a miniature fireworks show. We just can't get the mixture quite right,"] George responded.
[b "Oh, that makes me feel loads better,"] Harry caught Hermione's eye and rolled his own with a playful smirk. [b "Anyone up for a game of chess, or Exploding Snap? We need some entertainment after the day we've had."]
Ron brushed off the offer, choosing instead to watch his brothers and their latest experiment. Ginny was the one who accepted the challenge, excitedly pulling out the chessboard. [i "I think I have a chance. I've been practicing against Ron,"] she said smugly, setting up the pieces.
[b "Hermione, I may need you to bail me out if it gets too bad,"] he turned to nudge her knee with his hand, drawing her attention. [b "You'll rescue me, right?"]
Brown eyes had been on her lap and she was mentally cursing her cat for having done what he had. She had intended to tell Harry on her own, but had been waiting for all the excitement to die down first. Besides, she and Ron had only found out that morning about the prefects and had gotten the badges.
Slowly her eyes came up to look at her best friend when he had congradulated her on being named prefect. Because of how she was, she couldn't help her heart swelling with pride as he had praised her. It was silly, but it meant so much coming from Harry, almost as much as it would mean to hear it from her own parents. But the moment he began to ask if the male prefect had been named, the girl felt her heart sink and brown eyes nervously went between Harry and Ron as Ron pulled out his own badge and showed it to Harry.
[b "Harry...."] God she wanted to say something, anything but for the first time in ages she could come up with nothing. She could see the hurt and the jealousy even when he tried so hard to hide it. Ron on the other hand didn't notice it at all.
"Yeah, that's a great idea mate. Maybe they'll have found a new way for us to listen to what's going on downstairs." Their red-haired friend said, moving to the door, stopping to look back at both Hermione and Harry.
Hermione stood and slipped her badge into her pocket and made her way passed Ron, not looking at the boys. Either of them. [b "Last I knew they were talking to Dung..."] And with that she made her way down the hall and to the study with all the books.
Ron's eyes followed Hermione and then went to Harry. "What do s'pose the matter with her is?" He asked, shoulders hunched for a moment before he straightened again. "Right, still want to find Fred and George?"
Harry rubbed at his eyes wearily. This had added more stress that they didn't need. [b "Maybe Dumbledore will slip us some information. I'd like to believe he wouldn't leave us completely in the dark,"] he hoped.
Before they could dwell on the issue much longer, the orange ball of fluff that made up Crookshanks waltzed in proudly. Harry swore that the cat glared openly at Ron before his eyes caught the flash in his mouth. Almost as if he read Harry's thoughts, the cat pounced to him and dropped the shiny badge to the floor, as if to say [i 'Bet you didn't think things could get worse!']
With a twitch of his hand, he reached down to scoop up the Prefect badge, gliding his fingers along the gold. Looking up, he met Hermione's nervous eyes. [b "Congratulations! This is...fantastic. I never doubted you."] He gave her a smile. [b "Did they name which boy won?"] Harry began to ask, but Ron had slowly withdrawn his own badge from his pocket before the question was finished.
Not for the first time, he felt a flare of jealousy towards his red-headed friend. Harry hadn't ever thought that he would achieve the position, figuring it would go to someone more studious like Hermione. However, it irks him that Ron had beaten him for the job. Harry's grades were significantly better than his friend's, and Ron had never been motivated to do anything at school. It almost felt like a slap in the face.
Still, he forced the smile to reappear. [b "Wow, that's great, Ron. Really. I'm happy for you both. Really proud."] He cleared his throat and handed the lump of gold back to Hermione. [b "I'm sure it'll keep you both quite busy. Meetings and such."]
Oh god, this was the first time Harry had wished it to be September strictly to get distracted by schoolwork. He practically jumped to his feet, avoiding their eyes. [b "Let's find the twins and Ginny, maybe get a game of Exploding Snap going. Or whatever Fred and George are currently scheming."]
The girl's hands were folded neatly in her lap as she had her eyes trained on Harry. She was listening to everything said and trying to take it all in. All of it seemed strange and something out of a movie, which was ironic to her as she and Harry had talked about movies and such the night before. But she quickly had to push that out of her mind as she really needed to be focused on what had been told to them.
[i "There's got to be something we're missing. Fudge doesn't just back down and bow to anyone.. So how do we know that Dumbledore's not got something on him?"] Ron asked as Harry had finished and Hermione had yet to speak.
A sigh slipped from the bushy haired girl as she pushed herself up from where she had been seated. Brown eyes locked with green for a moment and then found their way to the dust old carpet. [b "Ron's right, surprisingly...If Dumbledore's got something on him..or he's not any real support he can't much touch him and has no choice but to back off.."] The girl muttered.
As she fell silent again, Hermione began to pace back and forth thinking over Harry's words of the Order and how they would be done for if Fudge was ever to know. [b "And that's why Mister Weasley, Tonks and Shacklebolt can't say anything and it makes things difficult...Fudge suspects that Dumbledore has help inside the Ministry...If he finds out he is right..You are right all of us are done for and can be sent to Azkaban...That's why Dumbledore tries to take the wrap for any motions made.."] She whispered. This time there was nothing that she could say or do to make the situation seem any lighter. For now all they could do was sit and wait watching things play out.
As the girl once more took a seat, her cat came in and hopped up on the bed. He had something shiny in his mouth and she tried to quickly take it from Crrokshanks before it was seen. There was no way she wanted Harry knowing that she and Ron were named prefects and got the letter while he was gone, but Crookshanks had other plans and hopped away from her, lazily going to Harry and dropping the badge at the boy's feet.
[b "Bad cat..."] Hermione whispered and quickly looked down at her lap. After his anger of them knowing about the Order she was scared what drama the prefect thing would bring up.
Even Ron looked a little skittish.
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