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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."]
[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.
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