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Harry inwardly groaned, barely containing his disappointment. He was awful at tests he studied for, let alone surprise quizzes on textbook chapters he hadn't bothered to read over the summer in preparation for classes. [b "I could use the invisibility cloak right about now,"] he muttered.
[i "I'm sure you'll do your readings next time, Harry,"] Neville teased, patting him on the shoulder.
[b "Can I cause a minor explosion and escape while they're distracted?"] he looked to Hermione with a playful pout.
[i "Now, quills at the ready, and silence please,"] Professor Binns began.
As expected, Harry stared at his parchment with a glazed over gaze. The questions were probably straight-forward for students like Hermione, who came prepared to every class without exception. Others, like Ron and himself, were floundering under their teacher's dull droning.
Even Neville seemed to have a decent idea about the correct answers, scrawling answers diligently. Harry found himself wishing the Chamber of Secrets would suddenly open a new doorway beneath him to swallow him whole. He'd rather sit with the Basilisk corpse instead of take the quiz.
He wrote random answers that sounded like they could be mildly correct. As the quiz wrapped up, he signed his name at the bottom and passed it along to the edge of the row for Binns to collect. [b "Well, that just made me feel like I should be back in first year,"] he let his head fall back in faux shame. [b "How did you do, Madam Prefect?"] he lolled his head to the side to look at her.
Hermione's eyes also had glanced to Ton as she and Harry had passed the boy. There had been the quickest of nods but it could have been mistaken for him trying to get hair out of his face or something. It seemed that their friend was just as desparate to keep up the appearances as they were to make sure that they had the upperhand for at least a little longer.
Her notebook was out and so was her History of Magic book. The girl couldn't help a faint smirk as the heard the words between Neville and Harry. Both of them were right
Professor Binns was the only ghost teacher at Hogwarts, yet the man was so horribly boting. That monotone made the class hard for even her to bear. Though she still did a better job at paying attention than half their class did.
[b "The only way I do pay attention is I've already read it. I don't trust him not to say a few extra things that he may put on a quiz or an exam."] She admitted as she gave both boys a faint smile.
It was after her words did their professor stop to look at them. [i "Since I am sure over half the lot of you were tuning me out we will be having a quiz. Parchment and quills out. You will have ten minutes to answer the questions I ask you."]
Harry noted that Ron was maintaining his distance to keep up appearances. The redhead had claimed a seat once again between Seamus and Dean. He gave Harry a quick glance and a nod, silently confirming that he ran into no complications. Harry nodded back, sliding into his seat beside Neville.
[i "Binns is late, as usual. You probably could have taken another few minutes,"] Neville teased.
[b "Nah, we're on the radar enough for my liking. We may show up fifteen minutes early from now on,"] he joked in return.
Binns slumped into class moments later in a dreary trudge of robes and textbooks. [i "Hello, class,"] he drawled in his monotonous tone.
Notorious for being one of the more dull professors of the school, it was easy to zone in and out during a Binns lesson. He read directly from the textbook, barely raising his eyes to meet their gaze. Despite this fact, it was still infinitely better than Umbridge's class, in the sense that they were actually learning what they were supposed to.
[b "How many students do you think have fallen asleep in his lectures?"] Harry whispered to his table mates.
[i "Probably higher than we can count,"] Neville answered. [i "Even Hermione can't fake being interested."]
If she were honest, this was a time she was doubting herself and her ability. Before with everyone calling her "brilliant" or "the brightest witch of their age" it had made her a little smug and prideful. It kept her wanting to be the best that she could be and to prove herself. But to hear Harry basically say the words and how their friends and classmates would more than likely trust her more than they boys..it honestly scared her. Could she help Harry pull this off? Or had she unintentionally signed a death warrant for them?
The girl had to push those thoughts away. They had to at least try because otherwise everyone would be in danger and have NO idea on how to even defend themselves. A smile came to her lips at Harry's words and how he had tried to speak pompously. [b "They're right. But a gentleman also always tries to be there."] Hermione said as she did take the offered arm. Her words had been meant in a sense to say to not worry and that she liked him the way he was. That he was ALWAYS there for her. She only hoped that her bestfriend would understand the underlying meaning as she was still shy to say a lot of what she thought and felt out loud.
[b "You're right. She's easily got half the Slytherins watching us and the others...so Ron did save us here.."] Her words were quiet as she spoke them to make sure only he could hear her. It had not taken them too much longer to get to class and she walked witj Harry towards the back where Neville was saving them both a seat.
His thoughts, honestly, were in an absolute jumble. Half of his brain was focused on her at all times; wondering if she's alright, what he could do to make her smile, and how he could make sure she had fun with him in Hogsmead. The other half was a disaster of anxiety and insecurity. Was he good enough to be trusted with his classmates' defense education?
[b "I don't think there is any way, shape or form, that we could feel prepared enough for this,"] he laughed. [b "But, I trust you and I have no doubt in my mind that the three of us will work as hard as we need to. I think our friends will have more faith in you than in us, but it's not exactly misplaced faith. You're the most brilliant student at this school."]
At that point he realized that the coast was probably clear for them to get to class. [b "Shall we?"] he offered his arm with a cheeky grin. [b "A gentleman always escorts a lady,"] he tried sounding pompous. [b "At least, that's what I've heard the girls in the common room say."]
While he was the furthest thing from a proper gentleman, he wanted to try his hand at attempting romance. He likely wasn't doing things as well as the men in stories Lavender and Parvati fawned over, but he hoped he wasn't too terrible at it. If he couldn't manage to woo Hermione with a Hogsmead date, she likely wouldn't want to join him on another one.
[b "I think Ron really saved us with this idea,"] he broke the silence as they walked the corridor. [b "I can imagine that Umbridge has eyes all over this school. If she caught him with us, we'd lose our advantage over her."]
She had packed her own list and the "galleon" into her bag and had it over her shoulder. [b "You've a good point. She doesn't know that we've begun to talk again and it very well could come in handy. Thanks for the cover Ron...and it really is good to have you back."] The girl found herself saying with a small smile.
As soon as Ron left, Hermione leaned lightly against Harry and kept her eyes upon the clock as she was keeping track of the minutes that passed. [b "It's actually much easier knowing we don't have to fight with him..Three heads are better than one. So...yes..it does feel like a huge weight has been lifted for the moment."] She answered, seeming a little distracted.
Hardly had she noticed Harry's question as she had begun to space again. But she quickly shook her head and gave the boy a faint smile. [b "I think I am just anxious to get all of this started. And trying to figure out how to keep us completely under the radar."] She admitted and then her cheeks flushed as she quickly looked away. Hermione was not going to admit that she had been thinking also about the upcoming weekend's Hogsmead trip and how in a sense she was thinking of it ALMOST like a date. No..she could not let him know that. [b "What are your own thoughts? Ready for all of this?"]
Harry packed his things back up as Ron stood and stretched. [i "That's right. You're on her hit list. I'm not saying you have to stop your plans, but just be careful about who sees you doing whatever plans you make. Right now, I'm still just off her sights. As far as she's aware, we're not on speaking terms, and we can use that to our advantage."]
The raven haired boy stood and ruffled Ron's hair, despite being slightly shorter. [b "Good to have you back. I knew there was some fight left in you."]
[i "Give me a few minute's head start. I'll take the east corridor to class. It's a bit longer, but I can use my prefect rounds as an excuse. You guys take the fastest way back so we're not seen together,"] Ron flashed them a smile.
He cautiously left the classroom, and Harry started counting. He sagged a bit, leaning against Hermione carefully. [b "Is it just me, or does a massive weight feel like it's been lifted now that he's not being a complete idiot about this whole thing?"] he sighed in relief.
Three brains were better than two. Despite Ron's temper, he was intelligent when he focused and used his skills. Growing up with Fred and George meant that he'd learned how to get around without being noticed, and talking his way out of suspicious activities. [b "Galleon for your thoughts?"] he asked, noticing her faraway expression.
Hermione gave Harry and Ron both a small smile. She couldn't help being pleased with the fact that the boys seemed to like the galleon idea and soon she took a seat. She leaned her cheek on her hand as she listened to both Ron and Harry as the two began to brainstorm. And as Harry spoke about all their previous professors, the girl inwardly cringes. They were REALLY lacking in proper education and techniques.
[b "You have memory charms if they will be useful.. like the one Lockhart had tried to use. There is also 'portego' which actually acts as a shield and rebounds a spell back at the caster... You can use Confundo which temporaily confuses a person..Petrificus Totalus as you know is binding...just to name a couple others.. But we may have to talk to Lupin for help.. And if not him then Tonks."] The girl said as she stood.
Her eyes went to the clock and then the boys. [b "I think we should get to class...I mean we're late as it is...and IF Umbridge gets wind of this..well."] She gave both a small smile. Harry and she already had another detention with the woman in pink and didn't want Ron to suffer as she had the feeling it would be much the same as they suffered already.
The spell on the coin made both boys smile and laugh. [i "Wicked,"] Ron picked it up from her hand and twisted it in his fingers.
[b "Is there anything you can't do?"] Harry raised a playful eyebrow at her, nudging her hip with his.
Grabbing a piece of parchment and quill from his bag, he sat down and began writing. [b "Okay, so we need both defensive spells and offensive. We're going to want to be able to fight back, not just buying time until backup helps. We should make a list, so we know what we need to work on."]
[i "Never hurts to brush up on Expelliarmus,"] Ron offered, pulling a chair up to the table.
[b "Saved us more than once,"] Harry agreed, jotting it down. [b "Accio could be useful, as well."]
The boys began brainstorming, looking to Hermione for any suggestions she would be able to provide. [b "I'm just realizing how ill trained we've been in terms of Defense Against the Dark Arts. Between Quirrell teaching us basic spells, Lockhart teaching us about himself, Lupin being absent half the time, and the Tournament taking up our time last year, we've barely scratched the surface of spells we can learn,"] Harry rubbed at his temple with frustration.
When she had done with her full explanation in why she and Harry had thought this a good idea, Hermione was on edge. Afterall, in the last couple of days, Ron had literally gotten irritable with them for getting into some much trouble. So she was anxious to see what their third member of the group would think amd say. And for a few moments, he had a frown but that soon softened and he only looked tired. [b "It wouldn't be pur lives or Hogwarts if things were easy for a year. Besides even if it was at least a bit normal, trouble would find us somehow."] The girl said and then fell silent to met Harry explain just what the plan was.
[i "But don't the two of you think that Umbridge will find out about this and make it hell for us to pay?"] Ron asked after it had been explained. The boy however did have a smirk on his lips. It was true that this did sound exactly like something they would be getting into.
[b "I think we can worry about a proper name for the group after we've got it fully formed. Right now I think we best focus on learning the spells we want to teach and keeping under the radar."] Hermione said, though her lips had twitched some in her amusement at the name that Harry had thrown out. He was right though, it would DEFINITELT be a mouthful.
[b "Once we've got others to join we'll need a way to let them know about meeting and practice...and that would be with something like this."] She said as she took out something that looked like a galleon and set it on the desk in front of Harry and Ron came over to look too. To anyone outside the group it would look like a galleon but to them it was a coin that flashed, words appearing to say 'practice now' on it. [b "I can work on making these better later...but it's an idea.."]
Ron's frown slowly softened until his forehead smoothed out again. He looked tired, more than anything. [i "Guess we couldn't have a normal year, could we?"] he sighed. [i "Alright then. What's the plan from here?"]
Harry breathed a sigh of relief that he wasn't jumping into criticizing them. He approached the desks and began pushing them along the wall. [b "Hermione helped me prepare for the first task last year. We would come here every other evening and practice the Accio spell. If we follow the same plan, but work it into every day practice, we should be ready to train the others within a few weeks."]
[i "And you think the others will sign on to participate in a highly illegal and unauthorized underground training group?"] Ron's lips tugged up in a smirk.
Harry breathed a laugh. [b "We're Gryffindors. Getting into mischief is in our nature. As for the other houses,"] he paused. [b "Ravenclaws don't back down from a challenge. Hufflepuffs are almost inherently good to their core, and if they think they're fighting for the benefit of good winning over evil, they'll be signing up quickly. Slytherins don't need to know."]
He sat down on top of one of the desks. [b "But, I guess we won't know for sure until we announce the group."]
Harry glanced to Hermione. [b "I feel like we should think of a name. Unauthorized Defense Against the Dark Arts Club is a bit of a mouthful."]
The classroom was unlocked and empty just as they hoped it would be. And it was indeed bigger than half their other classes. Hermione had gone over to a desk and set her bag down before she went back to stand near Harry, giving the boy a quick nod when Ron had asked what they had in mind. There really was no going back now and she knew that Harry would have better luck in explaining it all to Ron than she would. Ron was known to say something to get under her skin or she didn"t always quite have the patience with the Weasley boy she should. ESPECIALLY when the thing she was explaing was VERY easy that even a child could pick it up.
Her hands had gone behind her back and clasped as brown eyes were on thier red haired friend. It appeared that Harry's words weren't quiet clicking. She would give it a few seconds more before she went back over everything and simplified it all. But Ron fid get it and seemed even more shocked, blue gaze locked on her as if not at all believing this had been her idea.
[b "Umbridge is Fudge's Minstry dog...as long as she is here we are under the Ministry's watch and we will not learn anything. They are making it to where we will not know what is out there and cannot defend ourselves. 'You Know Who' goes after everyone and with him being back and Fudge being a right git...it is leaving everyone defenseless...so we thought this would be a good idea...and Hogwarts deserves a fight...this our home.."] The girl explained.
[b "Aw!"] Harry cooed. [b "The family is all back together,"] he stepped forward and wrapped them both in a bear hug.
He released them and backed towards the door, taking one last look around before opening it and gesturing for them to get inside. [b "Meet our home away from home, Ron,"] he made a dramatic show of sweeping his arm in presentation.
[i "You promised no bookwork!"] Ron playfully scolded them.
[b "I solemnly swear that we are up to no good,"] Harry swore. [b "And that means no books involved. This is where we're going to practice, before we find something bigger."]
Ron frowned in confusion. [i "Practice for what? And why would we need a bigger space? This room is bigger than half of our classrooms."]
Harry traded a last glance with Hermione. No going back now. [b "Hermione and I - actually, mostly Hermione - had an idea regarding our Defense Against the Dark Arts class."]
[i "What about it?"]
[b "The fact this it's utter shit, and we need real practice. So, we thought it would be a good idea to train ourselves in here. Make sure we're up to par with where we should be,"] Harry explained.
[i "And...the bigger space?"] Ron waited.
[b "We're going to train other students how to properly defend themselves,"] Harry answered confidently, standing next to Hermione as Ron took it all in.
Their friend looked rather stunned. [i "And you agreed to this?"] he looked to Hermione, as though surprised she'd think of something so against the rules.
The girl turned as soon as she felt the hand on her shoulder. Honestly she had wondered how long it would take their words to get through to the third of their group. And a small smile tugged at the corner of her lips as she took a step back and watched the boys. It was always easier for them to sort things than it was initially for her and Ron. But hearing that Ron was willing to help and didn't want to be "Percy" was a relief. She couldn't really handle Umbridge and trying to help Harry organise what they had in mind while fighting with Ron.
[b "I shouldn't have gone off on you either...just...I'm sorry too."] Hermione whispered. Honestly it did surprise her that their friend had apologised and sounded as genuine while doing so as he did. The girl's eyes did catch Harry's just the briefest. She knew he was wanting them to sort things out.
At Harry's words, a small smile tugged at her lips. [b "Of course.."] The girl said after a moment and did hug the boy. After a moment, she stepped back again.
[i "So what have the two of you got in mind?"] Ron asked the two of them. It was more than obvious he was eager to get things started.
Harry turned around to meet their friend's eye, though Ron was still having trouble maintaining eye contact with them. [b "We never wanted you gone, Ron. We're the trio, and we always wanted it that way. You're always welcomed back."]
He let Hermione's hand go to step forward and reach it out to Ron. [b "We could really use your help, if you're willing to have us."]
There was barely a pause before Ron shook his hand. [i "I'm ready to help."]
Harry was relieved that he was coming around. He could barely stand to see Hermione so stressed, and he knew that fighting with the third member of their group was causing her more anxiety. Working together again would alleviate some of her stress.
[b "I will warn you. It's going to involve some shenanigans. Prefect Granger is up for it. What about you, Prefect Weasley? Ready to harness whatever mischief the twins have taught you?"] Harry offered a grin.
Ron rolled his eyes, but a smile tugged at the corner of his lips. [i "I wouldn't be a proper Weasley if I didn't. It's exhausting trying to be Percy all the time. I think George and Fred are more fun to look up to."]
Harry watched as Ron hesitantly stepped towards Hermione. [i "I really am sorry. I didn't mean to fight with you. I didn't give you a chance to defend yourself, and you didn't deserve it.] He opened his arms. [i "Can I hug you?"]
Over his shoulder, Harry tried to catch her eye with a smile. [b "If she doesn't hug you, I will. We missed you."]
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