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Hermione's gaze never faltered as she stared down Umbridge, the defiance clearly written in her eyes. She was not going to let the crazed ministry hound insult her that way. [b "Perhaps I am merely interested in the history of our Ministry and famous cases. I do intend to be a part of the Ministry when I leave here. And would it not be a good idea to understand the history in order to try and not have it repeat?"] The girl retorted, keeping her voice as even as she possibly could. There was no reason for her to be playing nice with the woman before them.
For a moment, beady eyes were upon her and her lips pursed. But her attention was soon turned back to Harry and she decided to pick at him. And her chosen topics to go for were of course Sirius and his family. Almost immediately her hand took Harry's hand under the desk. She could tell he was going to snap but there was no way she could stop him from it.
[i "How dare you speak on matters you don't know anything about, Mister Potter?"] The woman asked, having to work hard to keep her own composure. She was looking between Hermione and Harry both.
[b "The Ministry didn't even give him a proper trial. A PROPER trial would have given him the chance. It was only assumed due to the streets and supposed witnesses."] The girl hissed. When it came to Harry and being attacked like that, her temper was short and she became protective.
It was those words that had Umbridge lose her own temper. [i "That's it! I will not be spoken to in such a manner! The both of you have another detention with me tonight after dinner!"] She snapped as she went back to the front of the room.
Harry didn't even make an attempt to hide the smirk that graced his face while listening to Hermione expertly put Umbridge in her place. He stretched a foot to tap against hers to say job well done. Their professor, on the other hand, wasn't as pleased to be responded to so curtly. [i "I see you've studied the case, Miss Granger. Perhaps you focus too much on the activities of criminals."]
She took a step forward towards the desks, and Harry nearly snorted when he spotted Neville and Seamus scoot their table back to keep the space. [i "Grindlewald also had an interest in criminals. This should have been the first warning that wickedness was imminent. The Ministry is working diligently to ensure that suspicious activities and interests are monitored carefully. Those who show interest no doubt almost always turn evil themselves,"] she clacked her tongue while attempting to stare down Hermione.
Harry's smirk disappeared, but he forced his face to remain blank. Hermione was more than capable of defending herself; she didn't need him to be chivalrous to try and defend her honour. He clenched his fists tightly enough that crescent moons began to speckle with blood from his fingernails.
[i "Given Hogwarts' history with future criminals, I'd say we can all agree that this new course of action is best. Especially with the Sirius Black incident two years ago. I assure you students that we will find that deplorable man, and he will face justice. The Dementors will see to that,"] she had a sinister smile as she spoke.
Harry's ears began ringing and he had no choice but to look down at the desk and bite his tongue. [i "Mr Potter, I thought you would be comforted to have protection from Mr Black.,"] Umbridge tilted her head. [i "After all, your family doesn't have the best history with him, if my memory serves correctly."]
He was sure that everyone around him could hear his teeth grinding together. [i "Your memory could use some work, because your Ministry failed to apprehend the real suspect,"] he spat out, snapping his eyes back up to meet hers. [i "But the Ministry is too proud to admit fault, isn't that right? Your evidence against Sirius Black is circumstantial at best."]
Her cheeks flushed the slightest at the nudge and his words. She had beem thinking on others to ask and since they had asked the twins for the orb figured they would be good as any to get involved. [b "I blame you and Ron for that. You two are bad influences on me."] The girl said with a faint smile as she too got up from her place at the table with Ron following suit.
If she were jonest, Hermione would have preferred ANY class over the one that they would be going to. She hated Umbridge's lectures and often felt like they were being talked down to. She also hated how it was all praise of the Ministry and its rise to power. They were being robbed of an education and it was purely boring. But just like Harry, the girl would not let Umbridge get to her. She couldn't if they were really goong through with their plans for an Underground Defense class. All she could do was grin and bear it.
When they got to the class, the girl nearly did head to their normal spot. Or she did until Harry guided them to somewhere in the middle of the room. It actually was rarher brilliant. Sitting where they did was a good way to stay just under her radar but also without her suspicion either. And when they took their seats, the girl pulled out the dreaded book and her quill for notes.
[b "Thinking on anything else is a good eacape. And it is the only way to get through this."] Hermione whispered as she gave the boy a small smile. Besides, it would give her time to get her thoughts together. What she could say to him. But it also let her think over what she had in mind as well. So it really was perfect all the way around.
The dreaded click and clacking of pink heels could be heard and they were enough to have her stiffen. And after a moment, brown eyes were drawn to the front and to the ponk nightmare who was smiling out at them. She looked happy to be torturing them for an hour.
[i "Now before we begin..can anyone tell me what the Ministry did with the first Wizarding war back with Grindlewald?"] She asked as those beady eyes began to scan the room. And her lips pursed when they landed on Harry, Ron and Hermione. [i "Would one of you like to answer?"]
[b "They were scared of him as they hadn't faced a threat so bad in centuries. For the first time they had reached out to all nations for the help. The ministry integraded into schools to make sure he was not recruiting srudents to join him. In the end, it was the American Ministry who caught him with the help of Newt Scamander and he was brought back to Europe. Though he was not fully done yet. Not until a final battle with Dumbledore."] The girl said, never taking her eyes from Umbridge as she spoke.
Harry grinned, completely impressed. He hadn't considered getting the twins in on their plans other than seeking their help with the orb. Hermione was a step ahead of him as usual. [b "Look at you, turning rebel on us,"] he nudged her as he rose from the table.
He wasn't quite looking forward to sitting through another Umbridge lecture but there wasn't much sense in complaining. He would be damned if he continued to let the pink nightmare get to him for the entire semester. He would make do with plastering on a fake smile to get through the lectures. Besides, if they were really going to go forward with their underground defense classes, then Umbridge's attempts to derail their education were for nothing.
In an attempt to make them less of a target for her, Harry directed them to seats in the middle of the classroom. Not quite close enough to be picked out for every question, but not far enough to cause Umbridge to get suspicious.
[b "We'll get through this easier if we think if things that make us happy. Which is literally everything other than this godforsaken class,"] he encouraged his two friends. [b "Think of cakes and books and all things not Ministry related."]
It wasn't a bad strategy. It also gave him an excuse to think of his meeting with Hermione later on. What the hell was he going to talk about? Obviously, their date, but he wanted to keep things interesting. Hermione loved good conversation, and lately he'd been little more than a bumbling fool around her.
The click clack of those dangerous heels drew his eyes to the front of the class. He took a breath and settled in for another painful hour.
The twins were working WAY too fiercely for it to be so early. And it had ONLY started after Umbridge had began her words and announcement. So she knew straight out that the answer that they gave Harry was a lie. And for a couple of moments just listened and studied the twins.
[b "I find it hardly likely the two of you would be up to a new joke product so early. You didn't start until noon back at Grimmauld Place...so there's really no need to accuse us of an investigation...Just maybe thought you would like to be in on something. But if not and want us leaving the pair of you alone, we can do that too."] Hermione said with a shrug as she picked up her cup of coffee and took a couple small sips from it, trying to wake herself up more.
Ron shot a look at Hermione, that asked her what she was up to. It was very clear he was surprised with her new attitude this year. [i "What are you trying to play at?"] Ron asked as he looked between Harry and Hermione.
The girl shrugged and set her cup down. [b "What have we been going over, Ronald?"] She asked almost impatiently.
By now, the twins were intrigued and staring at the three. [i "When have you known us to ever shy away from a bit of trouble? What have you got in mind?"] Both asked as they leaned in closer.
[b "We'll tell you later."] Hermione said as she gave a small smile. Her hand moved into Harry's and she leaned close to the boy. [b [i "Sorry...but we need all the help we can get...and playing this is the way to lure the twins in.."]] She whispered, letting out a groan when the bells began to chime. They would be in hell that morning. [b "Ready to face our makers?"]
Harry leaned closer to hear her, his eyes immediately drifting to where the twins were scrawling on a piece of parchment. [b "I'd bet anything that they aren't working on homework,"] he agreed, unable to see quite what they were planning.
Known for his subtlety, he picked up a grape and tossed it at George's head. The twins' eyes snapped up towards them and then narrowed. [i "Trying to start a food fight, Potter?"] one of the smirked.
[i "I'll have you know that we're undefeated,"] the other chimed in.
Harry rolled his eyes. [b "It's not a food fight invitation. It's too early in the morning for that much energy."]
He scooted closer to Hermione, leaning in so they wouldn't be overheard. [b "Wouldn't be planning something mischievous, would you? Something the Marauders would most definitely approve of?"]
Fred - or was it George?- held a hand to his chest as though scandalized. [i "I'll have you know that we're perfectly innocent of whatever it is you're trying to accuse us of."]
[b "You know that only makes you more suspicious, right?"] Harry raised an eyebrow at them. [b "What do you think, Hermione? Ron? Don't the twins seem a little too focused for such an early morning?"]
Ron glared at his brothers with curiosity. [i "Whatever you're doing, I want no part in it. I don't need another Howler, or to lose my prefect badge."]
[i "Fear not, dear brother of ours. We're simply discussing a new joke item we've been working on. Nothing out of place at all. So you two,"] George aimed a fork at Harry and Hermione. [i "Can call off your investigation."]
Hermione wasn't afraid of the gargoyle, nor was she really intimidated either. She just didn't want to look at the woman because when she did she seriously had the urge to vomit or something. Umbridge was literally becoming the bane of their existence and having such a grand time. She was arrogant and annoying. And to the Gryffindor girl's surprise, the pink nightmare was even worse than the bouncing ferret. And that was truly saying something for Malfoy was near ALWAYS under the skin of her and her friends. And she figured that meeting the gaze of the woman would provoke her more than they already had and so she refused to do as such.
It was both Harry's and Ron's words about Ubridge that had her eyes come up and she had to fight a laugh and shake of her head. [b "Oh please. You've seen the woman in class. She is a bloody nightmare and if she is not talking or controlling something in one way or another she isn't happy. It is very much like her head will explode, which at this rate would be very welcomed and save us a lot of trouble."] The girl could not stop her words as she spoke and also noted that the twins had their heads bent close together and were whispering back and forth. Obviously they were just as upset as she, Harry and possibly Ron were by the toad's interference. And she made metnal note to ask them what they were up to later.
The woman spoke for a little longer and when done left to a silent and tension filled Great Hall. She was actually relieved when Umbridge was gone and visibly relaxed. Now that the woman was gone, Hermione could focus on the fact that she actually had a date with her best friend. Actually had a date with the boy whom she had had feelings for since their third year. But she had to reign in those thoughts as Harry spoke, telling Ron that after Potions and Defense Against the Dark Arts they would watch from the bleachers.
[b "You know we'll definitely be cheering both you and Gin on. You guys'll do amazing."] The girl added as she was trying to refocus on the conversation they had been having before the great toad had come in and shot off her mouth.
[b [i "I think we should ask the twins what they're up to.."]] Hermione whispered as she leaned close enough to where only Harry heard her. So far only she and he had been working on a means to get past their new professor. She would let Ron in more later but for the moment he seemed to be enjoying being a prefect and his breakfast.
Harry stared back at the pink professor with defiance in his eyes. He wasn't going to be intimidated by a Ministry lackey on a power trip. [b "We're on the right track as long as we show that she's not getting to us. Any semblance of us cowering to her tactics will give her the idea that she's winning, and we can't have that."]
[i "Your cooperation,"] Umbridge continued. [i "Will be rewarded, and will ensure that your school year goes by as smoothly as possible."]
Harry noted that Fred and George looked more annoyed than he'd ever seen them. The boys were leaning their heads together, mumbling to each other while maintaining eye contact with Umbridge. It was almost unnerving to see them so agitated.
[i "Now, enjoy your breakfast! Gryffindors and Hufflepuffs, I will see you in first period,"] she concluded her speech to absolutely no applause from the students or teachers.
[b "Do you think we can make a petition that she's not allowed to speak until at least nine o'clock, so we can have some peace and quiet first thing in the morning?"] Harry said, reaching for more bacon.
[i "I think her head would explode,"] Ron retorted around a laugh.
Harry couldn't bring himself to be bothered by Dolores Umbridge today. He was walking on clouds after his brief conversation with Hermione. Hope had been restored! He may actually stand a chance to have a real romantic date with the girl he'd been pining after. Umbridge could do her worst, and it still wouldn't dampen his mood.
[b "So, we just have to get through first period with Satan, then Potions, and then Hermione and I will make our way to the bleachers while you guys get your Quidditch gear,"] he steered the conversation back to before they'd been interrupted.
From the smirk on Ron's face, Hermione couldn't decide whether she wanted to thank him or if she wanted to give him a scolding. The red haired boy looked rather smug and like he as proud of himself. And this was the reason most times he got under her skin and so easily too. But she resolved to looking away from him and back to her food, her cheeks again with their bright pink in them.
[b "Perhaps the Quidditch Pitch would be a better choice. It's still a nice day and we'll have the sunshine. Ron's also right that you'll need to see who all will be trying out this year."] The girl said. Her words were showing the more logical side to what their friend had so "pleasantly asked". But in a sense, Hermione knew there was more to it. That he was perhaps trying to give them a cover of sorts that would keep this as much under the radar of students as it would the professors. So as mad as she wanted to be at Ron, she couldn't be this time.
Before she could speak more, clicking of heels on the stone floors could be heard and their pink nightmare was stood at the head of the teacher's table with her wand to her throat. The great toad looked as self-important as ever and it had her skin crawling and her feeling literally sick. Whatever was about to.come could NOT be good, especially when it came from the Ministry Dog.
Brown eyes were upon the woman and without thinking Hermione's hand took Harry's under the table and squeezed it. [b "Lockhart...or even 'Moody' from last year would be better than this crone... We have to start doing something soon...she is..."] But the girl cut her words off and looked down as Umbridge's gaze particularly fell on both her and Harry
[i Another yes!] Harry was trying to play it cool and not seem too eager, but his dopey smile was back. Ron looked far too smug. If Hermione wasn't sitting right next to him, Harry might have even tossed an orange at his head to wipe the smirk off his face. [b "Sure. Either one would be great,"] he stared their friend down.
[i "Come by the Quidditch pitch then,"] Ron answered, not even remotely bothered by Harry's glare. [i "Me and some of the others are going to practice for the team tryouts. Can't hurt to check them out early to get an idea of who to choose."]
It wasn't even a subtle nudge that he wanted Harry to watch in order to get feedback before the actual day of tryouts. For that reason alone, the raven-haired boy had no choice but to concede. [b "Alright, we'll come watch you practice. Since you asked so nicely,"] he grumbled.
He couldn't even be upset. He'd have time with Hermione while still not being obvious enough to get on other students' radar. [b "Is that okay with you?"] he leaned to bump her shoulder with his.
The sound of high heels slapping against stone stole his attention. Umbridge stood proud in front of the teacher's head table, holding her want to her throat to amplify her already shrill voice. [i "Good morning, students! Welcome to another beautiful day at Hogwarts. I trust you're all looking forward to a day of lessons and learning."]
[i "She think she's headmaster now?"] Ron frowned around a mouthful of toast.
[b "Is it too late to get Lockhart back? At least he was harmless,"] Harry let his head fall into his hand.
[i "We've gotten off to a rocky start to our relationship together, but I assure you all that we will be fond of one another by the end of this term,"] she smiled widely. [i "This is just a reminder that we are now enforcing a strict tardiness policy. Any students caught being late, or skipping classes, will be serving detentions with me. This is part of the Ministry's plan to ensure you receive the most of your education."]
[b "Why not just put bells on us all?"] Harry grumbled.
Did she just agree to a date with her best friend??? Well it wasn't like she didn't want it because she did. She was more surprised by the fact that he had asked her out, well sort of to begin with. And she couldn't help but to find his seeming struggle with words endearingly adroable. It was one of many thing she had come to greatly like and even love about her best friend. Though never had she or would she speak the words aloud. It was almost strange to let herself think it and so freely with him near her.
[b "Honestly...so would I."] The girl whispered with an almost shy smile. And she meant it. She really did want for them to be able to consider it a date. Maybe it would even help them stop being so awkward. Maybe it would let them see how the other felt for a change without the pressure of hiding it. Maybe... but she had to stop her mind as it was beginning to race.
A faint laugh slipped the girl's lips and she shook her head. [b "I wouldn't expect anything less, Harry. Now come.on."] Hermione said as she fell into step beside him and walked with him inyo the Great Hall. It was when they entered were blue eyes of a certain red head in them and he looked suspicious. Which she honestly couldn't have fathomed as this had been HIS idea in the first place.
But instead of speaking, Hermione took her seat beside Harry on the bench across from Ron. The girl was still not to the point where she wanted to be eating a whole lot and so settled on toast and some of the fruit salad. She had just taken a sip from her orange juice and nearly choked on the sip as she heard Ron's words. Blimey, couldn't he give them a break?
The girl was quick to regain herself and couldn't seem to help that on instinct she subtly moved closer to Harry as well. [b "A walk after those two classes... It will really be needed and sounds perfect. Off by the lake? Or maybe even the Quidditch Pitch?"] The girl asked, letting her fork push her food back and forth as she awaited an answer.
Ron of course had taken to watching the two. Apparently they had become his morning entertainment.
Like the charming boy he was, Harry stared blankly back at her with his mouth hanging slightly open. He'd heard wrong. He must have. [b "You would-"] he cut himself off, unable to come up with something coherent to say.
She'd said yes. Hermione Granger had said [i yes] to a date with him. Well, sort of. [b "I would definitely like that."] The stupid grin was back.
He knew she was right, however. This was not a conversation they wanted to have in public where they could be overheard by anyone. Especially with Slytherin lackeys waiting to report back to Umbridge. [b "Right. Later. I'll hold you to that,"] he felt a rare giddiness building in his chest.
In the Great Hall, Ron eyed them suspiciously as they sat down. [i "You're looking a little red, mate. Coming down with something?"]
Harry cleared his throat and piled food on his plate. [b "Not at all. Just fine. Looks like it'll be a beautiful day, doesn't it?"]
The suspicion turned mischievous. [i "I'm sure it will be. Might be a good idea for a walk on the grounds. Fresh air, you know?"]
Ron was both the best and worst wingman in history. Harry choked on a piece of bacon. [b "I suppose. Maybe during free period."]
He adjusted in his seat, subtly trying to move a little closer to Hermione beside him. [b "Fresh air might be nice after being stuck in Potions and Defense Against the Dark Arts all morning."]
Hermione was still scolding herself over her last words. She could not believe she had even mentioned the Shrieking Shack like she had. It made it sound like she had been thinking date rather than just a friendly day in the village. But maybe he wouldn't take it badly? The girl had to believe that he wouldn't because it was Harry and he knew her by now. That she honestly never meant harm.
But it was his words that got her attention again. The boy was stumbling just as badly as she had herself. And it seemed he had no filter? This really was bad and like all those movies she had seen where their were crushes and things became awkward. And all because one or both couldn't admit how they felt. So had both Ginny and Ron been right? Did he feel the same way?
For a moment after he was done, Hermione was silent and taking it all in. Had he kind of asked her for this to be a date? [b "We could...it could count as a date if you'd like. I mean..."] Now it was her turn to feel a right idiot and like she had just inserted her own foot in her mouth. God why couldn't the ground just swallow her up?
[b "Would you like to talk about this more later? I mean just us?"] Why did she keep talking?
To his guilty relief, Harry noted her blushing complexion. At least he wasn't the only one feeling nervous. He just didn't know what she was nervous about. Had he been acting too strange, and now she was uncomfortable alone with him? Merlin, he didn't think he'd be able to forgive himself if he mucked things up with her. Then again, Ron had hinted that Harry wasn't the only one fighting a crush. Could she just be feeling bashful? He was so busy with his thoughts that he barely caught her confirmation for Hogsmeade.
Success! Maybe he hadn't blown it after all!
Harry felt a stupid smile stretching across his face. [b "The Shrieking Shack? That's at least a third date activity."]
Scratch that. He'd definitely blown it.
[b "I mean, that's what I've heard. I overheard Seamus talking to Dean about it. Using the spooky factor to get closer."] [i Damn it, Potter!] [b "Not that I'm saying that's your plan. Because it's not. You don't need the Shrieking Shack to get a bloke close to you, especially on a date."]
[i Stop talking!]
[b "Not that this is a date. You have better options, and I wouldn't think for a second that you'd be interested in a date with me. We're friends, right? Best friends. This clearly isn't a date."] Before he could stop himself, he blurted, [b "But it could be, if you'd like."]
Open mouth. Insert foot.
Brown eyes were scowling at the backs of their red haired friend and the Ravenclaw girl who had dragged him off. Internally, the girl was screaming at the both of them. She was cursing them both for leaving her and Harry alone as they had. That morning had already had a "brilliant" start and she was afraid that somehow she would and could make things worse. God, when had conversing with Harry become so bloody difficult? Oh that was right..the moment that his godfather decided to make some comments about them being attracted to the other. Now it seemed they were lucky if they could have a decent conversation AT ALL, which really hurt because he was one person who meant most to her.
It was his stammered words that got her attention and she gave a small smile and a nod. [b "Yes...It would probably be best as we don't need a lecture coming our way."] Hermione whispered, trying to make light of the day before. She was also trying to at least talk a bit and not let the heaviness that seemed to settle between them become so incredibly suffocating.
Again the girl found herself falling to silence as she fell into step beside the boy. She was trying to keep her mind focused. And with his next words, well the whole sentence really had her cheeks powdered with a soft pink blush. Was Ron right? Did Harry actually like her more than just a friend like she happened to him? She was overthinking and had to push those thoughts from her head. And a smile came to her lips, the one that only he ever saw. [b "I'd like that. Maybe we can even see the joke shop in the village or sneak off to the Shrieking Shack if we really want to be away from our classmates."] Oh no! Did she really just say that? And out loud to him? How on earth would Harry take it? [b "Erm...uh...I mean..."] But the girl could not find any words to cover what she said. She sounded like a stammering idiot in those moments.
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