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[i "So where did you and Harry disappear to during dinner?"] Ron asked the bushy-haired girl when their friend had left them to take his cloak back up the stairs. He was not going to let up on it this time. The tone to his words made Hermione realize that and her cheeks flushed a rather deep pink at that. [i "C'ommon Mione. I'm just curious."] The boy tried again as he moved to the couch before the fire.
Her eyes were on the ground as she followed the boy and took the seat opposite of him and was near curled against the arm with the the pillow in her arms. She had taken to looking into the fire, almost blankly as she was trying to think what to tell the boy. The girl was wishing their friend was back so she didn't have to be subjected to Ron's questions and because she was close to snapping off again.
[b "The prefects' bathrooms...we thought baths would be nice and being in silence would be. If you've not noticed, Ronald this isn't exactly a great start to the year."] She whispered, cheeks flushing a darker pink as she spoke and her mind was once more revisiting its thoughts. And once more she snapped her mouth shut and gazed into the flames, only vaguely aware when Harry had come back down and Ron's bantering of the boy.
It was his words of Hogsmeade that got her attention and the gleam in those blue eyes. Before she could say anything, the redhead was on his feet and smirking a little at the two. [i "Well c'ommon we don't want to be late. The last thing you two need is another detention."]
Hermione rolled her eyes as she got up. [b "Very funny, Ronald."] The girl snapped, still quite bitter over Umbridge and what the woman had done to her and to Harry. Slowly did she move to where Harry lay and offer the boy a hand up.
He let out a nervous laugh at the mention of Ron. The redhead would no doubt have pestered him endlessly if he saw how bashful he was becoming around Hermione. Ron knew far too much already.
Speak of the devil and he shall appear. The youngest Weasley boy sent a smirk Harry's way when Hermione turned her back to them. [b "Mouth shut,"] Harry muttered under his breath as he moved past them to tuck his cloak back into the trunk upstairs.
[i "I don't know, mate,"] Ron called after him. [i "You're looking a little flushed. Not feeling well, perhaps?"]
He was definitely going to get revenge after the boys had gone to bed later that night. For the moment, Harry tossed a wave of his hand to confirm that he was fine.
[b "Get it together. Game face. You've faced Voldemort and dragons and merpeople. You're not a lovesick puppy,"] he scolded himself.
Harry granted himself five minutes of just lying on his bed staring at the ceiling. The quiet was welcomed. The boys downstairs certainly weren't going to be as silent when they made their way to bed later on.
When he rejoined them in the common room, Ron had swiped the couch in front of the fire for them. [i "Almost thought you two were going to bail on Astronomy tonight. Didn't want to have to get all authoritative on you,"] the Weasley boy playfully aimed a kick at Harry's shin as the dark-haired boy laid on the carpet in front of the couch.
[b "Well we can't have that,"] Harry kicked back. [b "Don't want that authority to go to your head. It already barely fits through the door."]
He chanced a look at Hermione, trying to gauge her thoughts from her expression. He used to be much better at this. Now he just got distracted by her features every time he looked at her. Had she always had that freckle by her nose? Oh god, he was looking at her lips again.
Ron must have noticed, because Harry got another kick to the shin. [b "What?"] he snapped out of it.
[i "I said that I'm bailing on you guys for Hogsmeade weekend. Seamus and Dean want to check out the new Zonkos shipment and invited me along. You're on your own,"] Ron's eyes practically glinted with mischief.
A small smile had come to her lips when the boy had emerged from the boys' bathroom. He did look better, but his cheeks were a red. Had the water been that hot? She couldn't help but wonder but shook the thought from her head. [b "Yeah.. feeling much better too. It really was relaxing and well needed."] She found herself saying, though it was a lie. She would rather die than admit where her heas been and that she had failed at being able to shut her brain off. It was hell and she felt bad, but she did NOT want him to know.
When he fumbled with the cloak and cleared his throat, her head tilted a little. [b "Harry..are you sure that you're alright?"] Hermione asked, worry etching her features as he did seem a little off. But she was quick to nod in reponse to the proposed question of if they should go.
The cloak seemed smaller now and more crowded. Not only had her mind been reaching for staws she would not let it have , but he filled her sense. He was so warm and smelled so good. She wished that she could just lose herself and just hide against him. CRAP! She had to REALLY reign her thoughts in as they began to to slowly make their way back.
[b "It's just Astronomy..and then free for the rest of the night.. At least that class won't be completely painful..Well I can imagine..she is so used to beingn with you..."] Oh god, she was struggling too with talking and rambling. [b "I was maybe going to start to study more for Flitwick's examine and the gargoyle's.."]
As his hand brushed hers, Hermione hand found herself stiffen. She had to stop herself from taking his hand. [b "Oh it's fine, really. We're not kids anymore...think how much worse this would be with Ron."] She said, giving a weak laugh of her own. The girl unfortunately was wishing someone would kill her because her mind was back to its thoughts of him. And she also fell silent as they walked back to the common room, hidden by the cloak.
Outside the common room, Hermione slipped into a side hall and slipped the cloak off them both and folded it for the boy, handing it back. A small smile was on her lips as she walked with him back, muttering the password so that the pair of them were let back in.
Ron looked to them when they came back with a raised brow. But he stood and walked over to them. [i "Where were the two of you? You missed out on amazing food."]
When he emerged from the boys' bathroom his face was still red, though not from the heat of the water. He wiped the fog away from his glasses and gave her a small smile, but he couldn't meet her eyes. [b "Feel any better?"] he asked. [b "I'm feeling better. Refreshed. Relaxed. All of those things."]
Clearing his throat, he fumbled with the cloak. [b "Shall we?"]
He waited for her permission before hiding them from view. Harry realized his mistake immediately. Not only were his thoughts still flooded with her, but now so were his senses. She was warm. Bloody hell, her hair smelled nice. [i Focus, man!]
Harry put as much space as he could between them while still keeping them covered. [b "Just gotta survive the last class of the day, then we're free,"] he broke the silence with babble.
[b "I think I'm gonna visit Hedwig before bed. Make sure she's alright. She gets lonely,"] he rambled.
When his hand accidentally brushed against hers, he practically jumped. [b "Sorry! Sorry, I know it's crowded under here. We're not kids anymore,"] he tried a laugh, unfortunately thinking about how she was much more a woman than a kid, and [i very] close to him. [i Bring the Horntail back to just kill me now!] he kicked himself internally.
His words were not lost on the girl nor was the warning finger. Her first thought was to tell him that it was silly and he knew better. But she only shook her head. [b "I know...see you later."] She said as she had slipped into the girls' bathroom and looked around. It really was more elegant and more beautifully done than the bathrooms the rest the school had to share. She did feel bad for the others because they didn't get the little treats and spoils that prefects got. And as those thoughts were in her head, the girl had to stop them. She had been told to NOT think for once, which again made her almost laugh. That wasn't who she was.
Hermione slowly undid her hair from the ponytail that she had had it in and began to slip out of her clothing. At first she ran a hand over the water and found that it was blissfully hot and slipped in, letting the bubbles cover her as she leaned back against the wall with her eyes closed. The girl was trying. She really was. And for a little while she had managed. But as fate would have it, Harry came to mind. She was thinking about her bestfriend on the other side of the wall. Not just everything that they had been through, but also some thoughts that friends should NOT be having about the other. God he would absolutely kill her if he knew what kind of thoughts were going through her head.
The girl's eyes opened and she bit her lip. Between thinking of her best friend as she had been and letting her mind become busy again with ways to fight back against Umbridge, Hermione for lack of better words began to let her thoughts turn themselves back on. She had already figured they would need a distraction to get the gargoyle out of her office and to get the orb. She and Ron would also have to talk to others about forming some kind of a club or something. And that led to her thinking of having to write to Lupin too. God there was so much to do.
Before she knew it, the half hour was spent. Because she had said she would neet Harry, Hermione got out of the bath, dried and dressed again. Once she made sure she had everything, the girl slipped out of the bathroom and leaned on the wall to wait for the boy who lived. She only hoped he would not ask if she had "turned off her brain". And with a sigh, the girl ran a hand through her still slightly damp hair.
Harry felt relief rush through him when she seemed to cave at the idea. He was paranoid that she wasn't going to focus on herself at all, only looking out for him instead of giving herself a bit of time to be selfish. When they separated at the prefects' bathrooms, he gave her a beaming smile. [b "Remember; turn your brain off!"] he aimed a warning finger at her before stepping inside the boys' room.
It was just as intricate as he remembered from last year. He felt a momentary twinge of jealousy that it was so much more elegant than the bathroom the rest of the boys had to share. [b "Lucky bastards,"] he grumbled, shedding his clothes.
The water was mercifully hot. Harry could feel his muscles relaxing within moments of sliding in. He forced all of the stress from the past few days out of his head. Think of the bubbles and the water. Eyes closed.
Under no circumstances was he to even remotely consider the idea of Hermione sitting in the tub on the other side of the wall. [b "Nope,"] he shook his head. [b "Stop it."
He dunked under the water. Stupid brain. Stupid stupid stupid. [i Friends do not think of friends like that!] he scolded himself. Especially not when said friend is the person he trusted most in the world, and who would likely find him disgusting for harboring such thoughts.
[b "Think of gross things,"] he ran through a list in his head.
Mandrakes. Whomping Willow. The Giant Squid. Shrieking Shack.
Anything to keep those pesky thoughts from his brain. Hell, he even conjured an image of Umbridge in a swimsuit just to make sure he mind didn't wander back to his beautiful friend.
Harry slumped against the wall, letting his head fall back against the stone. [b "You bloody moron."]
His challenge had definitely caught her offguard. There was no way she would be able to do it either. Hermione's mind was known to ALWAYS be on something or trying to figure something out. And it most likely would do the same in the bath. A small smile did slip to her lips, however. [b "Being my friend for the last five years..you should know me better. My brain is hardly ever off."] The girl said quietly.
After his spoken words, brown eyes were taking the boy in. He seemed almost as tense as she did, though didn't quite have the dark circles..well yet. But even she noted that he looked worried. And why wouldn't he be? The last four years, minus third someone or something had been after him. Had tried to kill him. It was truly like Harry had a target painted upon his back. But this year seemed even worse in some ways. There was the Ministry trying to keep Voldemort's return a secret, all sorts of runours flying around, a Ministry guard dog watching them all, and now the usual Slytherin bullies but with power. A true recipe for a disastrous year.
But she was pulled from her thoughts when she felt the pressure of Harry's hands on her shoulders and her eyes found themselves locked to his. [b "I...I don't know. Worrying about the two of you is what I'm good at.."] She whispered, biting her lip and shook her head when he had said she deserved it more. After what her brain had gone over, she couldn't think of anyone who needed the break more than he did.
The girl was about to try and bring up her thoughts, but before Hermione could, Harry was gone. It didn't take more than a few moments to rejoin her and hold his hand out to her. Hermione gave the boy a smile and took his hand, following him from the common room and the both of them going up to the prefects' bathrooms. [b "I'll meet you back here in half an hour.."] She said as she had let him into the boys' bathroom and left him to take a bath in the girls'.
Harry let her take his hand, but kept his feet planted on the floor as he stood. [b "I'd say we both could use a bit of a spa break,"] he took in the dark circles under her eyes and the tenseness of her posture.
[b "I'll make you a deal. I'll relax in the boys' bathroom if you take advantage of the girls' bathroom. At least just to shut your mind off for half an hour, or so,"] he challenged.
He was more than worried about her. It was a task and a half being friends with him, seeing as trouble followed wherever he went. Add in a Ministry guard dog watching their every move and pesky Slytherin bullies, and it was a recipe for anxiety. [b "Take thirty minutes to yourself. You're always worrying about Ron and I, especially lately. I want you to be selfish for once. Thirty minutes of complete silence and relaxation to spoil yourself."] He put his hands on her shoulders. [b "You deserve it more than I do."]
Harry let her think about it as he ran to gather his cloak. [b "Come on, Prefect Granger,"] he offered his hand. [b "Our spas await."]
Brown eyes had closed as she was leaned against the boy. Just being near him as she was happened to be calming and relaxing to the girl. And it was the moments like them sitting together as they were that moment that always made her seem to forget how bad everything else around them seemed. A small smile was on her lips as she heard his words. [b "Skipping dinner wouldn't be a bright idea..you already scolded me a bit for that, remember? And as much as I would love to sleep through the next class..we can't. We've the Astronomy Tower after dinner for the night class."] The girl whispered with a soft sigh.
Truth be told, Hermione didn't want to do anything. She was looking forward to the Hogsmeade weekend and just being out of the castle. And that was really saying something because usually the girl loved school. But she wanted the chance to have the day with Harry more. Maybe the two of them could help the other set aside their worries for just a couple of days? He seemed even more stressed than she did and the girl hated that she could not really do anything to help him.
Her eyes blinked open at the boy's words and her head tilted. At first she wasn't sure where he was going with his words and her cheeks flushed a little. Her mind had connected the words of him not having access to the prefect's bathroom anymore to the baths. God she hated being a teen girl sometimes and had to look away.
[b "That...all of that is true. But it's not like I really need to use it. If you wanted I could let you into the boy's prefect's bathroom.."] She whispered. Though he was showing the concern for her, the girl was more worried about him. [b "I'm sure you could use it more.."] And with that, the girl was on her feet and held her hand out to Harry, giving him a small smile.
Harry smiled and leaned his head against hers. His eyes drifted closed. [b "I don't suppose we could just stay here and nap while this lot goes to dinner? Maybe sleep through the next week?"]
A soft breath exhaled through his nose. It had been an exhausting two days. Poor Hermione appeared to have the weight of the world on her shoulders, and he just wanted to make things better. Hogsmeade weekend couldn't come soon enough. He'd do his best to make sure she had a good time. A nice break from the stress she was currently bearing.
[b "Wish I still had access to the prefects' bathroom,"] he muttered.
His eyes flashed open. [b "That's not a terrible idea,"] he said outloud, though it was meant for his thoughts.
Harry looked to her. [b "You're a prefect,"] he noted. [b "You have access to the prefects' private bathroom. It's like a spa in there. You've been so worn out lately, I'm sure it would be relaxing for you to enjoy a nice bath in the quiet."]
His traitorous brain then decided to make the connection of Hermione and a bathtub, and Harry flushed red. Stupid teenage hormones. [b "I mean, if you'd like. I could use the cloak to sneak you down, stand guard outside to make sure no one gets in. Then sneak you back up, so no one notices."]
The girl knew that she wasn't as subtle as she should be. Knew that she was slipping up more this year than she had before. But it was for some reason harder to ignore how she felt for the boy who lived. Her only hope at this point was that he was still unsure about how she truly felt. If he knew and IF by some miracle he actually felt the same and that got out, the Ministry would REALLY use it against him. More rumours would spread and just even more hell would be breaking loose. It was there did she have to stop her thoughts. She was overthinking it like always. He was just her best friend. He cared for her like a brother did a sister and that was why he had been so apt to jump in and help her both that morning with Malfoy and also with the blonde ferret's assualt.
[b "I'm glad it helps...and I'm really not. It was just a late night at Grimmauld Place I couldn't sleep and so I decided to do this..something practical and not breaking any rules."] The girl whispered and groaned at the now familiar heat in her cheeks that betrayed her and made her blush painfully obvious. She had also been rambling again. [b "Sorry..."] Hermione found herself saying and squeaking a little when she had been pulled down beside him on the couch.
A soft laugh did slip from the girl as she gave a smile. [b "You're my favourite too.."] She whispered, the pink once again in her cheeks. But at this rate she didn't even try to hide it and just leaned against the boy. Tired, she was tired from the long day and not looking forward to dinner and their evening class in the Astronomy Tower.
Harry smiled at her, grateful once more that her brilliance was saving him from getting into trouble. [b "That sounds perfect, Hermione, thank you. See Ron? Problem solved."]
The trio retired to their common room, greeting other friends who were getting comfy in the chairs. Harry's eyes followed Hermione as she made her way to get the paste to help him. [i "You're not even subtle,"] Ron nudged him on his way to the chess table to observe Neville play Seamus.
The dark haired boy's eyes dropped to the floor, and upon Hermione's return, he found it hard to make eye contact with her again. The gel was cool against his skin. A relief. He practically moaned at the relief of pain as it chilled the ache.
[b "You are an absolutely godsend, Hermione Granger,"] he sighed.
Giving her a dopey smile, he settled back against the couch, tugging her with him. [b "You're my favourite,"] he murmured to her, attempting to wink but with a swollen eye, it looked more like regular blinking.
Harry did have a point. The Slytherins would as they had in their third year be hanging on the "prince's" every word. And they would believe that Draco really had done that to Harry's eye. Their third year had been bad enough and even now, some of their classmates believed the tale that the blonde male had told.
But for a little as the three walked, Hermione was silent. She was trying to keep herself from crying over what had happened. From crying in front of the boys. Later she would let herself and make sure the girls in the dormitories didn't hear her. [b "Actually...I think I might have something back in the common room...It's a simple potion...but it might help with the swelling and some of the pain. That is if you want to try it out and stay away from the hospital wing."] Her words were soft as she spoke them, but she had kind of forgotten until they began to head back up towards their house tower.
The girl soon did go off ahead of the boys and slip into the common room, refusing to look at their housemates who had stopped what they were doing to look. But she was quick to go up the stairs and scavenger around in her trunk and soon came back with the potion. [b "Sorry...this will be a little cold and gelled like...but it should help."] And with her words spoken, Hermione slowly opened it and put a little on Harry's swelling cheek to let him see how it felt and worked. She did not want to put it on or by his eye in case he decided he didn't want it used and decided to see the nurse after all.
[b "You have my word. I'll stay quiet and let you take the lead,"] he promised.
It was with sheer stupidity that he let his eyes fall to her lips. Why hadn't he ever noticed how soft they looked? Was he that blind? He barely heard Ron's footsteps finding them until the redhead spoke, snapping Harry out of his revere. [b "What?"] he blurted, having not heard a thing they'd said.
Ron raised an eyebrow and pointed at his own cheekbone. [i "Your eye, mate. It's getting swollen. Might want to get Madam Pomfrey to take a look, otherwise it'll be swollen shut by morning."]
Right. He'd been in a fight. Having his black eye pointed out was enough to realize that it was aching. [b "It's not as bad as it looks,"] he tried to assure them. [b "I'll just put some ice on it, it'll be fine. Wouldn't want to trouble Madam Pomfrey again this early in the term. I know she's on our side, but that woman is terrifying. If we go back there again, she may poison us herself just to keep us from going back for any more ailments."]
He motioned for them to start walking. [b "Besides, I don't want to give Malfoy the ego boost of me needing the Hospital Wing after fighting him. I'll never hear the end of his taunts. It'll be like the Dementors situation all over again with his gaggle of Slytherins hanging on his every word."]
Brown eyes were locked on their professor as the woman gave her trademark stare over the tops of her glasses at them. Behind the anger and storm, Hermione could see the calculating starting. If they were still there, the woman would not focus much on whatever she had in mind. And that thought had the fifteen year old girl curious because with Umbridge literally being a government official there was not much she and Dumbledore could do. At least not outright. But she didn't hesistate to leave when her hand had been taken and Harry had helped her up and the pair left their head of house's office.
[b "He'll wonder how we got out of this in one piece and without detentions. But he'll be wanting to get into this too..Or we'll be getting scolded by him..which will be a first"] She whispered with a sigh. Her head was starting to hurt with it all. There was just so much to take in. Too much to take in. With Umbridge having the control and power that she did and giving it to Malfoy and his friends they would have to work quicker and try harder to keep the secret.
It was when Harry gave the tug on her arm and stopped their stride did brown eyes meet green. Did she want him doing what he had in mind? No because it would and could get him into more trouble than he was already in. But with his pleading like he was, the girl was having a hard time saying no. He was the ONLY one she had a hard time saying no to.
[b "You have to promise to keep under the cloak at all times...and to not be heard.. Also if something happens you have to promise to let me try and deal with it myself first. If you get into more trouble...and because of me..I..I don't know what I'll do."] She whispered, giving him one of her firm looks, hoping he would listen to her.
[i "There you two are. I've been going mad and thinking Professor McGonagall had eaten the two of you alive. Blimey, Harry that's starting to look bad. We should get you to see Madam Pomfry."] Ron was saying.
Hermione had stepped back, her eyes going to the ground and her hair now covering slightly brighter pink cheeks. [b "Ron's right, Harry...I can go with you to explain..or I'll wait in the common room."]
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