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[b "Let's just hope he doesn't get hit by a bludger quite as often as Oliver did,"] Harry joked back.
As it always seemed to when they were finally having fun, their time ran down until the announcement bells chimed. [b "Thank you for suggesting this. I'm proud that you tried it. And if you'd like, I'd be happy to give you those private lessons,"] he beamed at her.
The boys hauled the equipment back to the locker room and teased each other the whole way, with her by their side. [b "I hope you don't leave the hoops open as much when we play Ravenclaw. They'll never let us hear the end of it,"] Harry knocked him with his elbow.
[i "I'd like to see you try to block three giant goals,"] Ron snipped back good-naturedly.
Harry tucked the Firebolt back into his locker and turned to the others. [b "I don't know about you lot but I'm starving."]
The girl had to admit it was nice to join the boys for once. And with Harry there she wasn't as afraid. It did make her wish that she wasn't afraid of heights and flying on brooms though. She still couldn't help her snickers as Ron had again been taken off his guard by Harry's looping around the goal on his weaker side.
[b "Have to give him credit though. He's good at figuring where the quaffle will go. Still not as good as Wood had been but definitely good."] The girl said as she threw another throw towards the goal Ron was not guarding.
Almost had she lost track of the time. Or she had until the bells up at the school tolled. [b "We should probably be heading in...and Harry, thanks."] Hermione whispered as she turned to look over her shoulder and gave the boy a smile.
Harry let out a bellowing laugh at Ron's blunder. [b "What happened to the confidence from five minutes ago?"] he called back.
Her shot had been right on the mark. He'd seen chasers with worse aim. [b "Excellent throw, Prefect Granger,"] he praised in her ear.
Taking control of the broom, Harry grasped the broom handle in front of her. [b "I'll steer us, while you throw. Let's see how well we can get him while on the move."]
Harry kept them at a reasonable speed, not wanting to throw her too off-balance. Ron threw more playful taunts their way. [b "Let's take advantage of his weak side, shall we?"] he murmured to her.
The dark haired boy quickly spun them around and looped around the goal posts to catch Ron by surprise.
Hermione could not believe she had let her words slip. She had almost expected a slight repremendation because she had said she would try on her own. But when it had not come, a small smile came to her lips. [b "Thanks, Harry...maybe you can even give me private lessons and help me learn?"] Again the words slipped without her full intentions. It seemed being as close as they were was clouding her own thoughts abit.
Harry led her through a couple of laps and soon guided her to line up with the goals. His breath in her ear as he gave the instructions was distracting in its own right and even sent soft shivers through the girl. But she kept herself as steady as she could, praying her didn't notice.
[b "So for Ron that would be his left."] The girl said. And with Ron's taunting she threw the quaffle as hard as she could towards the open left hoop. And she couldn't help laughing as their friend seemed a bit clumsy upon trying to stop it. Clearly he hadn't expected it.
[i "Oi! Not fair on the first shot you two!"] Ron called as he threw the quaffle back to them.
[b "You don't have to ride on your own if you don't want to,"] he assured her. [b "I can teach you from here."]
Harry guided her through two laps before he instructed her to line herself up by the goal posts. Ron had already retrieved the quaffle from the box. He tossed it to Harry and got into position.
[b "Now you're going to want to hold it sort of around the grooves to get a better grip,"] he showed her, once more working with his arms around her to put his hands on hers.
He aimed a finger just past Ron, towards the middle post. [b "You want to shoot for one of the spots he leaves open. Usually their non-dominant hand. Make sure you put enough power behind it, or it'll fall short."]
Ron sat on his broom, ready. He flexed his fingers and pretended to stretch. [i "Show me what you got, Granger!"] he playfully taunted.
The girl had at first had her eyes closed. Honestly she could not help it and had been trying to calm the poinding of her heart and to regain herself. She did not like heights and having made the mistake she had in making the broom shoot off as she had had not helped. But when he said to keep her eyes open, the girl opened her eyes again and rolled them at Ron. He seemed to be finding her pain and fear funny.
She had been about to shoot a comment back at their friend, but Harry had. And she was actually more able to focus on him and being pressed against him which did help to come her. The girl was slowly getting better but doubted that she would ever fully get over her fear of heights coupled with flying.
[b "Not so bad...at least not with you here. But I don't think I would manage on my own."] The words slipped from her lips before she had meant to say it.
He grinned at her. [b "Exactly like riding a bike. I think. I actually don't know, I've never ridden a bike before. But I would assume it's the same physics."]
He tightened his hold on her as they shot off faster than either were expecting. He couldn't help but laugh when he heard her slight shriek of surprise. [b "It's okay, we're fine! Just remember to keep your eyes open so we don't run into the Whomping Willow or something,"] he joked.
Her hair was smacking him in the face but he couldn't really bring himself to care very much. His senses were flooded. He could feel her pressed close, and all he could smell was her shampoo. It was almost too distracting.
[i "Not bad, Granger!"] Ron called to them, zooming by to circle around them.
[b "She'll be racing you soon enough,"] Harry yelled back.
Harry tempted fate and pressed his chest closer against her back so that he could rest his chin on her shoulder. [b "Not so bad, is it?"] he asked her, hoping that he wasn't just terrifying her even more with her fear of heights.
A small smile did slowly come to her lips and she nodded. Honestly she would habe preferred the whole time on the brooms to stay riding with him, but she would not say it. If she had, it could give the wrong idea or it could reveal something she didn't want him knowing. Still she only thought he saw her as his best friend and sister and she did not want to say or do things to make things awkward between them.
Slowly, Hermione found herself sliding onto the broom when he had slid back. She could not help stiffening the faintest bit when his arms had gone around her waist to show her how tightly to hold onto the neck of the broom. The stiffeness had not been because she was nervous but she had liked it. [b "So...this would be in a sense like riding a bike? I mean the idea of keeping balanced?"] She found herself asking as Harry had gently kicked off the ground and they were now hovering about ten feet off the ground.
Her cheeks heated up with a blush as Ron teased. She knew he was only joking as he sped off, but again it had felt more like a jab at her fear of the brooms and flying. [b "Right...just take it slowly.."] The words were whispered before she had done as she had been told and leaned forward the slightest bit, the broom shooting off much faster than she had intended and she could not help her squeal.
Harry smiled and felt pride in how she was facing one of her worst fears. Smartest [i and] bravest in their year, without question. [b "Come on, you can ride with me for the first lap or two, and then we can get you on your own broom,"] he offered.
He mounted the Firebolt and slid back so she could take the place in front of him. He could only pray that his body didn't betray him when he put his arms around her waist to show her how tightly to grip the handle to stay properly in place.
[b "It's mostly balancing your posture to stay steady,"] he advised in her ear.
His knees lightly touched the back of hers as he carefully kicked off the ground. They hovered about ten feet from the ground, with him murmuring praises in her ear. [b "Lead the way, Ron,"] Harry called to their friend.
[i "Try to keep up,"] he joked in return, speeding off.
[b "Just lean forward slightly, and stay calm. I'm right here and I won't let you fall. Go as fast as you're comfortable with. We don't have to race him,"] Harry moved his hands to wrap his arms around her middle. [b "You'll be on the Quidditch team in no time,"] he tilted his head slightly to grin down at her.
Hermione couldn't help a faint laugh at the comment of throwing things at Ron. [b "Merlin knows I've been wanting to throw things at him all summer. And this would be a good excuse to do it."] She was half joking and half serious in her words. But she hoped the boys would only catch onto the part that had been the joke.
When they had gotten to the lockerroom, Hermione took both hers and Ron's broom that they would be using. She listened to what was said and nodded slowly. It didn't seem so bad and it was good to see both Harry and Ron lighten up.
Thr boys were quick to shed their robes and ties and even to roll up their sleeves. The girl herself only slipped the robe off and moved over to Harry. Her eyes had gone to look up at the great rings above them. [b "The practice laps... I think they might help a bit."] She was trying to keep her voice even but some of her fear did slip into her voice
Ron was already on his broom and had his eyes on the two. [i "Come on! What are the two of you waiting for? We've only got two hours and I need the practice."] Cealry he was back to his impatient self.
[b "Yes!"] Harry threw his fist in the air victoriously.
He jumped to his feet and wrapped his arms around her, spinning her in a circle. [b "Thank you thank you thank you,"] he smiled against her cheek.
Ron threw his arms around both of them with a grin. [i "We even promise not to release the bludgers. We'll keep it nice and civil. You guys can help me with keeper practice."]
Harry nodded. [b "Throwing things at Ron while on a broom. Sounds fun, doesn't it?"]
He led them off to the Gryffindor locker room, grabbing his broom and the box with the practice quaffles. He gestured over to the spare brooms leaning against the wall. [b "You can ride with me to get the hand of it, and then we'll get you on a broom of your own. You won't have to fly by yourself until you're comfortable. Deal?"]
Ron grabbed the rest of the equipment and together they marched to the Quidditch pitch. The boys shed their robes and ties, rolling their sleeves up to their elbows. [b "We have two hours. Do you want to do some warm up laps first?"] he offered Hermione.
The girl had not seen his first michievous grin but when the wicked one came to his lips and he turned to her even she froze. She knew the mention of brooms and Quidditch had been a blunder on her part. Hermione had honestly forgotten she mentioned that one day she might actually join them. In all honesty, she had been hoping both her friends would have forgotten that little detail. But as it stood, both Harry and Ron remembered and she was out of luck.
Even she couldn't help but to laugh as Harry had gotten down on his knees and asked if she would fly with them. It was something she feared the most, but for him she could do it. She had already done more dangerous things than flying in the last few years. Besides when he looked as he did now, the girl had a hard time telling him no.
[b "Fine, but the both of you better not take us too far off the ground. And make sure not to do something that can get us hurt either."] She was trying to sound as if she were scolding, but still she could not help a small smile tugging the corner of her lips.
He couldn't help but smile as he listened to her recite a synopsis of what Newt Scamander had written on these chubby little beings. Her intelligence was one of the things he was most drawn to when it came to Hermione. She was beautiful, yes, but her wit and knowledge was what got his attention. [i "Correct, Miss Granger. Scamander would have filled his house with Nifflers, if his wife had let him. Still, they're loyal when treated properly, and harmless. Well, harmless if you don't count repeated theft,"] Grubbly-Plank lectured.
At the dismissal of class, the crowd gathered their things and began heading back to the castle. Ron strayed behind to wait for the other two. As Hermione listed the rest of their schedule, Harry froze halfway through tucking the Niffler back into the crate. A mischievous grin appeared on his face. [b "Why Hermione,"] he turned to her wickedly. [b "How thoughtful of you to mention Quidditch. If I recall correctly, you said you would think about joining us, didn't you?"]
Ron beamed. [i "I think you might be right, Harry. She did say that she would consider riding a broom with us."]
This was just the distraction he needed. Harry stepped close to Hermione and got on his knees with both of his hands gripping one of hers. [b "Would you do us the biggest honor and come flying with us, Hermione?"] he tried pouting to really sell it, but he couldn't help the laughter bubbling in his chest.
[b "Never had he referred to them as terrors. Highly curious and lovely creatures. They reminded him of small children with their curiosity and love of shiny things. If anything Nifflers were one of many of his favourite magical beasts that he had taken in and had become like family to him. All of his creatures did really."] Hermione said as she was looking down at the Niffler in her arms that she too had given a galleon to.
The girl hadn't meant to become a know-it-all again. But she had read some of the book that had been shot at them to read. And she couldn't help mentioning it because she could in fact see how Newt Scamander had become quite fond on them.
When they had done feeding the Nifflers and the class was dismissed with reading up on Nifflers and writing a partchment on them, Hermione could not help being relieved. The morning and Malfoy had really gotten her into low spirits, though she was trying not to show it.
[b "There was lunch and then a free peroid next, wasn't there? Maybe we could look more at the books we got yesterday..or you and Ron could practice for Quidditch?"] She asked as they walked, trying to break the silence and hoping to get Harry excited for something.
Harry eased down from the tree with the Niffler still firmly secured against his chest. A little challenging with only one arm, but he managed to not fall. He plopped the beast into the crate with the Galleon still cradled in its small hands. Reaching for another one from his pocket, Harry flashed it to Malfoy's Niffler who quickly abandoned the blonde haired boy for the gold.
[b "Maybe buying people's affections really do work. I guess you've been doing friendship right this whole time, Malfoy,"] Harry smirked as Draco stormed off with threats of telling his father.
[i "Yeah, go on and tell him you got bested by a little fat blob,"] Seamus taunted.
Grubbly-Plank grabbed Pansy's Niffler from the bushes and handed it off to Hermione in exchange for the now-fed one in her arms. [i "Finish feeding this one, and I'll give you and Potter both extra points,"] the teacher muttered to her.
Harry took a seat beside Hermione and flashed a smile. [b "They're kind of cute, actually,"] he looked down to the strange creature nursing from the bottle as it played with the Galleon in its hands. [b "I mean, when they aren't being royal terrors."]
Grubbly-Plank huffed. [i "They're never not royal terrors. I suggest you read Newt Scamander's book. He was always fond of them, but I don't agree with his affections."]
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