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Harry couldn't quite meet her eyes. [b "The thing is that I knew what she was capable of, and I still didn't keep you and Ron safe from punishment. I was so desperate to keep it a secret that I didn't think about alerting the two of you to what she had up her sleeve."]
He wanted more than anything to take her to the hospital wing, but with her being so weak and injured, he wasn't about to further upset her by forcing her to see the healer unwillingly. Instead, he bit down on the inside of his cheek and kept his mouth shut.
Gryffindor Tower was mercifully empty. Everyone must have wandered down to dinner, leaving the common room silent other than the crackling fire. Still, he didn't want to risk someone coming back with Hermione just lying in agony on the couches. [b "You can lie in my bed while I go and sneak some pain relief potion. I'd help you to the girl's dorm, but I'm afraid the stairs will just send us sprawling back down."]
His bed was still unmade and he scurried to remove his pajamas from sight before helping her lie down. Harry knew he was likely being overbearing, but he stole pillows from Ron's bed as well, fluffing them up to make her as comfortable as he could.
Settling down to sit beside her, he brushed some loose hair from his forehead. [b "I'll be back as quickly as I can. And I'll have the cloak, so don't worry about me being caught. Try to stay still and rest."]
She did seem to have lost it slightly. The girl should have known that Harry would put off tryouts if it meant helping her. After all, when she had passed out in class thanks to Malfoy and even been cursed by the ferret Harry had been the one to help her. So this...she should have known would be no different. She just felt guilty in breaking her promise to watch and making him break his on being there. The girl though honestly could not find the words to argue with the boys. Neither of them would let her get a word in as it was.
Soon, Ron was off to find the twins and Harry had her arm around his shoulders and his own arm was around her waist. Hermione almost immediately did find herself leaning against him as they walked slowly back towards the common room. [b "It wasn't your fault...you have nothing to be sorry for.. She is just pure evil..how did you manage with this..?"] Her words were barely above a whisper as she spoke them. She honestly only wanted him to hear it.
When he asked about the hospital wing, the girl shook her head. [b "No...she...Umbridge will make things worse. She...she threatened that no one was to know."] But she would not tell the boy that the main reason she refused was because Umbridge had threatened him if she opened her mouth.
Harry did his best not to scoff out loud. [b "You've gone mad if you think I'm going to go to Quidditch tryouts instead of taking care of you."]
Ron nodded in agreement. [i "He's right, you shouldn't be left alone after something like that. As captain, Harry can appoint another teammate to run tryouts. Fred and George are already on the team, so they can run tryouts."]
It didn't take much to convince Harry. [b "See that? Weasleys to the rescue. Fred and George will stand in for me, and I'll take you up to the Common Room."]
As gently as he could, he maneuvered her arm around his shoulders and rested his own around her waist, so that she could lean against him. [b "Ron, best go find the twins. I'll get her settled."]
The redhead boy looked guilty about leaving, but did as he was instructed. Harry put all of his attention on Hermione, walking slowly with her so as to not agitate her pain further. [b "I'm so sorry, Hermione,"] he murmured. [b "I'm so fucking sorry."]
He should have protected her better. He should have stood up to Umbridge before she dragged Hermione off. He should have rushed to get Professor McGonnagal, to catch Umbridge in the act of using an Unforgiveable Curse on a student. He felt the pressure of blame resting on his chest, and that pesky voice in the back of his head taunting [i you should have been stronger for her].
[b "Are you sure you don't want to go right to the hospital wing?"] he asked.
It pained her to make her friends apologise and ti fall into what that devil woman wanted from them. But she would be damned to have them suffer like she did. Harry she now knew what he had been through and she did not want it for him again. And well Ron she just didn't want him to have to experience it. Her eyes were pained and full of an unspoken apology as she KNEW how painful giving into Umbridge had been.
The girl was trying to keep on her feet but very near fell again just as the woman turned away, dismissing them. The hag was not even fully gone when Harry rushed to her to help keep her on her feet. The words hit her ears but took a moment to register as her mind was still fogged from the curse and her body still feeling like it was in hell. But she did manage a weak shake of her head. [b "No...I'll be okay.. You two still have tryouts to do...If this is still hell after that...then I will see Madam Pomfrey."] Her words were quiet as she spoke them. As usual, she was trying to keep strong and not let her friends know how bad it really was.
Both boys felt sick to their stomachs as they watched Hermione limp painfully towards them behind Umbridge. Harry's eyes remained locked on her as the professor snapped at them, but he felt Ron's hand on his forearm, squeezing a warning.
He wanted to fight. He wanted to curse Umbridge into oblivion and see how she liked the feeling of the Cruciatus curse. He'd never felt such rage towards another human being before. Not even the Dursleys, in all the years of verbal abuse and smacks upside the head he'd endured, brought out this much anger in him.
[i "We're sorry, Professor,"] Ron grit through his teeth. [i "We'll stay better behaved. No more fighting."]
Her beady little eyes turned towards Harry. [i "Mr Potter?"]
He continued to stare past her at his best friend. He could see the pain in her eyes that she'd had to endure. He hated it. She didn't deserve any of it. But, he wasn't going to cause her more pain. She'd asked them to apologize to the Ministry witch, and he wasn't going to deny her anything. [b "My apologies, Professor Umbridge,"] he drawled in a monotonous tone similar to Snape's. [b "It won't happen again."]
Satisfied that she'd effectively broke them down, Umbridge stood straighter and nodded. [i "See to it that it doesn't. You're dismissed."]
Harry didn't even wait for her to be fully gone around the corner before he rushed forward to help Hermione stay standing. [b "I'm not even going to ask if you're alright, but do you need one of us to carry you? We can get you back to the common room and maybe sneak some pain relief potion from the hospital wing."]
The chill from the woman scared the girl as did that icy glare. No more did she look purely angry but there was an evil hidden in those piercing blue eyes of hers. It was like nothing she had felt or seen before. But she could not and would not show the woman fear. She refused to give that satisfaction.
[i "You should be scared, Miss Granger. Mr. Potter has already suffered this punishment. But if you are to apologise and promise to do as I say from now on and keep your mouth shut.. then I may be persauded to overlook all of your behaviour. But if you refuse, then I will have no choice but to teach you a lesson and hope you learn it."] The woman said, her eyes locking with the dark brown of the girl.
[b "I will not apologise for anything..i've not done anything wrong..all I have done is stood up for my best friend and also told you facts you clearly overlooked."] The girl muttered and soon found herself sat in a chair with her whole body seeming restrained. Before she could speak, the girl felt exscruisiating pain going through her. And it got worse and worse. She wanted to cry out, she really did but she couldn't. Her muscles and bones felt like they were on fire or even breaking. It was horrible and the pain was enough to blurr her vision with tears and to make her feel sick.
The pain only last a couple moments but seemed to last forever. When she was released, Hermione fell from the chair and was on her hands and knees. Her entire body was shaking and she could not help her tears or getting sick. Her muscles and joints still felt on fire and like she could not move. [i "I tried to give you the out. But you would not take it. Now I do hope you learned your lesson. If not, well there will be more of this. As I said, Mr.Potter has already been through this. And I suggest if you don't want him to again then you will keep your mouth shut. No one is to know."] The woman said with her sick smile, clearly enjoying the pain the girl was in as she had not moved.
There was so much she wanted to say. But she could not with the threat of Harry held over her head. It took her a few long moments before she wiped her lips and was even able to move. But when she was, the bushy haired girl got to her feet and moved slowly to the door and went back to the boys. The whole time she was fighting herself and collapsing so she leaned on the wall. Dark eyes locked specifically on Harry and she gave a faint nod. She meant she knew what had happened. And she also meant that she was still going to help with the student rebellion they had planned.
[i "Have the two of you had time to think about what you have done? Now perhaps if you apologise and agree to stay out of trouble I will overlook this here today. After all, it would be a pity to have to punish all of you."] The woman said, her voice back to its normal high and annoying pitch.
[b [i 'Say yes...the two of you don't need to go through that..']] Hermione mouthed from behind Umbridge where the woman could not see it.
Harry made a step forward the moment he watched Umbridge's claw of a hand latch on to Hermione's arm. [b "Keep your-"] he was cut off by Ron's hand slapping over his mouth.
The redhead did his best to restrain the agitated boy, planting his feet firmly to keep control. [i "Don't make it worse, Harry. She can handle herself,"] he warned in Harry's ear.
The boys waited until the door to Umbridge's office slammed shut. Ron reluctantly let Harry go, feeling guilty but knowing they didn't have a choice. [i "She's had the blood pen detention before. Hermione is tough, she won't break."]
Harry spun around, fists clenched tightly. [b "She's not going to use the stupid pens on her,"] he snapped. [b "She's going to do exactly what she did to me this morning."]
He could still feel the burn of pain in his muscles. It was mind-numbing to experience, and it was killing him that he couldn't do anything to stop it from happening to her. [i "Harry?"] Ron caught him by the shoulders. [i "What exactly is she going to do in there?"]
He knew he shouldn't tell. His lips should remain sealed. But all logic left his head at the image of Hermione suffering under the Unforgivable Curse. [b "The Cruciatus,"] he whispered, unable to meet Ron's eye.
There was a moment of surprise in Ron's face before his arms dropped back down to his sides. [i "She can't do that. It's illegal. It's torture!"] his voice grew louder, prompting Harry to step forward and silencing him with a hand.
[b "We can't make things worse. Who knows what else she'll do,"] he spoke lowly.
When his hand found hers and clasped it, Hermione gave a small squeeze. She could see the irritation on Ron's face and hear it in his steps. She was just thankful it was not them this time it was directed at. A faint smile tugged at the corner of her lips when Harry mentioned the Wizard of Oz. [b "We can only wish...but sadly I don't think we'll have any luck."] She whispered back, having to again bite into her lip with the insults thrown at them.
It was Harry's words and Umbridge's final retors that made her snap. [b "Last I read, the Ministry's name was allowed from the mouth's of anyone professor. And he's not said anything wrong..just a question to understand what exactly you mean. And trying to get explanation of how laughter and grass can count as such an offense."] Hermione muttered. The one about Gryffindors having no manners had been hard enough. It was a direct attack on her friends and the rest of the house. But she had been able to let it go. This because it was one hundred percent shot at someone she very much adored she had not been able to keep her mouth shut or the bite from her words. And she didn't care what her punishment would be. There had been SO MANY times Harry had jumped to her defense and this time it had been her turn.
Defiant brown gaze never left the pink nightmare as her lips became a tight line. Her cheeks clearly were reddening with anger as well. But Umbridge kept composure and that little smile of hers that made it well known she was angry appeared on her lips after many moments. [i "Since you seem to think you can say what you want, Miss Granger and clearly my punishment is lost on you I will have to try something else. It will be you first and then the boys."] The woman said, turning a quick and sparkling eyed gaze to Harry. It would be very telling what she had in mind. She was tired on the defiance and so figured her new punishment would get through.
[i "Come along, Miss Granger."] The woman said and motioned Hermione forward. When the girl refused to move, Umbridge gripped the girl's arm and pulled her forwards. She was much stronger than Hermione thought and the grip actually hurt as she was all but dragged forwards. Brown eyes moved between Harry and Ron and she gave a quick shake of her head. It was her begging them not to do anything. She had brought this on herself.
It was like the woman had a radar system for whenever students are having fun, so she can shut it down immediately. Harry grit his teeth as they untangled their limbs and began the trek behind the pink nightmare. He felt Hermione's hand looking for his, and was more than happy to clasp it in his. [b "I wonder if she'll melt if we pour water on her, like in the Wizard of Oz,"] he murmured to her, hoping to at least draw a small smile.
Ron looked beyond agitated, but thankfully it wasn't aimed at them again. He glared daggers at the back of Umbridge's head, making sure to drag his feet extra noticeably along the stone floors of the castle. [i "I would expect better behaviour from two prefects,"] the professor spoke over her shoulder at them. [i "Then again, perhaps asking for respectful manners from Gryffindors is just too much."]
She was trying to bait one of them to jump on the personal attack, but they knew better by now. So, there was nothing but the scuff of shoes to answer her taunt. [i "I'm sure you're all aware of the zero tolerance for violence on school grounds. Fighting of any kind is not permitted."]
[b "Violence? I admit, Professor, I've never seen a violent fight that involved giggling and smiling. See much of that at the Ministry, have you?"] Harry snapped.
Umbridge came to a halt, almost causing Ron to walk into her. Turning on her heel, she eyed the trio. [i "It would be best to keep the Ministry's good reputation out of your filthy mouths,"] she warned.
[b "He really does look like Ginny with the pouting. Though she is a THOUSAND times better at it. And so the student surpasses the master."] The girl said with a laugh. She only laughed the harder when Ron had been compared to Malfoy. And as bad as it was, he had sounded SO like the dreaded blonde terror. But before she could speak again, Harry was tackled and she too had been dragged down.
They must have looked like the equivalent of small children wrestling in the grass as some of those on free period had stopped to watch. Some of them looked confused and others amused like they were watching their favourite show. If she had not actually been having fun and feeling free, Hermione would have been embarrassed and tried to get away. Or she might had tried to stop the other two. But as it stood the girl could not be bothered.
Or she could not be until that clearing of a voice that had come to be haunting and the bane of their existance had come. And before she knew it, the pink hag was standing over them and looking down at them in disdain. [i "The three of you, my office immediately. Get your things. Quickly now."] She croned.
Hermione had to bite her lip to not say anything. Slowly the girl moved away from the boys and got up, dusting her robes to get the grass off. Once she had, the girl got her bag and moved to stand beside Harry and Ron. Without thinking and it seemed more on instinct that her hand had moved into Harry's as she glared at the woman who glared right back.
[i "Well, come on then."] Umbridge said as she turned on her heel. And soon sje was leading them through the almost desolate halls and to her office.
Harry's face scrunched with amusement. [b "He really looks like Ginny when he tries to pout, doesn't he? I think she does the puppy dog eyes better, though. It's not quite as tragic on you, Ron."]
The redhead's pout dropped to a scowl. [i "I'll have you know that I taught her how to do the puppy dog eyes!"]
[b "Sorry mate, she's surpassed your capabilities. But you really channeled your inner Draco Malfoy with that line. It was close to his whole 'my father will hear about this' tone,"] Harry teased.
Jumping on the advantage of Harry being distracted, Ron charged the boy and caught him around the middle, dragging him to the grass. [i "You'll pay for that, Potter!"] he sneered with a triumphant smirk.
Catching Hermione by the sleeve of her robes, he pulled her down too. [i "You too, Granger! We'll see how tough you both are."]
Harry tried to wiggle free, gagging as Ron stuck a saliva covered finger into his ear. [b "Oh god, how do you even know about that?"] So much for avoiding Muggle schoolyard bully tactics.
[i "You think Muggles are the only ones grossed out by Wet Willies?"] Ron snorted. [i "I grew up with five older brothers, Harry. They've mastered every art of sibling torture."]
Both she and Harry took off after Ron, his getting himself cornered as she figured he probably would. It was funny how he tried to pout and even was saying not to punish him. It felt more like teenagers at a park or something rather than being in school. Her own arms had crossed over her chest and she glanced to Harry. [b "Assaulting someone with grass is the crime of the century. We really must teach you a lesson."] The girl said as she was trying not to laugh.
Her arms were still crossed but her eyes were alight with laughter. And Harry's ideas did sound perfect. [b "I think we should bleach his hair. It would definitely teach him to mind his manners."] The girl said.
Ron looked at them almost pained. [i "You two wouldn't really, would you?"] He was thinking about Malfoy and that greasy blonde hair. He really was pouting at the two of them now.
Harry took her hand and let her haul him to his feet. [b "Let's chuck him in the Black Lake,"] he suggested, taking off after Ron.
The duo managed to corner him around the side of the castle, blocking him between them and the stone wall. Any window he could have used to escape their clutches were too tall above them for him to reach. Ron held his hands up in surrender, panting from having run so quickly. [i "Let's be rational here. I'm on your side. Your old pal Ron. You wouldn't want to hurt me, would you?"] he tried to put a pout on his face.
Harry smirked at Hermione, crossing his arms over his chest. [b "I don't know. You assaulted us with grass. This is a punishable offense."]
He cracked his knuckles and made a step forward. [b "I think we should shave his head. That'll teach him a lesson. Maybe bleach it to look like Malfoy's hair."]
It was the moments like these that the girl actually enjoyed and wished they had more of it. They were actually acting near their age and having fun. Well the boys were acting like children and she was being quite literally dragged into it, but it was fun. [b "Honestly how can I save you? He's going to end up getting the both of us. If there is one thing he's learned it's to take your chances while you have them."] The girl said with a laugh as she even chucked some grass at Ron who was giving them an evil grin. She was honestly trying not to pay attention to the fact that she was very near in Harry's lap as he was using her as a shield.
[i "Oh the both of you will pay."] Ron said as he had his hands filled with grass and moved closer to them and dropped it on both their heads. He then moved away and ducked behind the bench.
Hermione squeaked when the grass fell into her hair and began to try and pick it out. [b "Ronald you'll pay for that!"] The girl laughed as she moved out of Harry's lap and got more grass. She then looked to Harry. [b "Want to help?"]
Harry snorted a laugh. [b "Not very good friends, but immensely better students. If it wasn't for me pulling you guys into trouble all the time, Ron might actually get a grade higher than a Satisfactory,"] he chucked a handful of grass at him, having plucked them from the ground as he was thinking.
[i "Jokes on you, I was always going to be a bad student,"] Ron taunted in return. [i "Don't think yourself so special that my grades count on whatever shenanigans you manage to drag us in to."]
Harry nudged Hermione's knee with his own. [b "Do you hear him? Acting as though I'm not the center of the universe? It's like he doesn't know that I'm the Boy Who Lived, most eligible wizard this side of the Atlantic!"] he announced dramatically.
[i "The Boy Who Lived is going to get a punch if he doesn't pipe down,"] Ron threatened, though a smirk was on his face.
Harry reached for Hermione, pulling her partially in front of him on the ground. [b "You can't hit me, I've got a human shield here! You wouldn't hit an innocent bystander, would you?"] he laughed behind her shoulder, trying not to think about the fact that he'd practically pulled her halfway on to his lap. [b "Save me, Hermione!"]
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