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Harry's heart seemed to rise from his stomach as Hermione slowly came back to consciousness. His hand sought hers immediately and he interlocked their fingers to give it a reassuring squeeze. Madam Pomfrey's question hung in the air, but he couldn't take his eyes off of his best friend.
He'd never felt so sick in his life. For all he knew, Malfoy had uttered a curse under his breath that had harmed her. He'd been ready to kill the blonde boy. Even though it was a reaction to the ingredients in the cupboard, Harry hadn't even hesitated in his thoughts of retaliation. If he hadn't been so urgent to get her to the infirmary, he may have attacked Malfoy right there.
[i "Mr Potter!"] Madam Pomfrey pulled him from his thoughts. [i "I asked you if there's been any changes in her sleeping or eating habits."]
He didn't want to lie. He'd more than just noticed that she hadn't had quite as the usual amounts of food, and she'd seemed more exhausted than ever before. Still, she was looking at him with pleading eyes, and he felt himself cave.
[b "No. No changes in any of those."]
The girl didn't even know what had happened. Just the smell of the ingredient had her collapsing. She could hear both Harry and Ron along with the others, but she wasn't able to open her eyes. She hadn't been able to respond either. Hermione wished more than anything that she had been able to fight the haze that had filled her head and kept her swimming beneath the surface.
Only vaguely was she aware of being scooped up and moving. And where she was being taken became clear when Madam Pomfrey's voice could be heard. Harry was freaking out and the woman was telling him not to panic. She was telling him that she would be fine. Though she knew she was in for a scolding as well when she woke.
Something was put beneath her nose and she was cringing from the smell. As her eyes opened, the girl slowly began to sit up with her head still spinning. [i "What she had been made to smell was the reason sleeping draughts are so strong. It clouded her mind and nearly shut it down."] The woman explained to the two of them as she ga e the girl something else to help with the spinning of her head.
[i "Usually it just has them out for a few moments...Not like this. Since I know Miss Granger will be reluctant to tell the truth.. Mister Potter have thier been changes in either sleep or eating patterns?"] The woman asked, her pointed glare on Hermione.
Hermione's eyes locked on Harry. She was begging that he not say anything to the nurse. The girl had known her head was spinning and she felt off that morning but had not wanted to miss classes. She had thought she could handle it. But mostly she had been trying not to worry Harry or give him something more to deal with
[i "Hermione!"] Ron called, pulling Harry's attention to where the girl wobbled and collapsed.
[b "What the hell did you do?"] Harry bolted from his seat to her side, shoving Malfoy out of the way.
He rested a hand on her cheek. [b "Hermione, can you hear me?"] he gave her a shake with his free hand.
A small group of Gryffindors crowded around, ignoring Snape calling for them to return to their seats. [i "Potter, take Granger to the infirmary before you both disrupt my class any more than you already have today,"] he ordered.
Harry bit back a scathing retort. Now was not the time. Thanking the stars for the bit of muscle he'd gained thanks to Quidditch, he hooked his arms under her shoulders and knees. [i "I'll take your stuff with me after class,"] Ron said, nudging the two towards the door.
Thanks to the adrenaline rush coursing through him, Harry reached the Hospital Wing on autopilot. [b "Madam Pomfrey!"] he called out, carefully depositing Hermione on the nearest bed. [b "Something's wrong!"]
The woman came striding over, immediately peppering him with questions. [b "I don't know, we were in Potions, and she collapsed. She was by the ingredients cabinet."]
[i "Settle down, Potter. I'll get her right as rain. Don't give yourself a panic attack,"] Madam Pomfrey moved him aside to begin her work.
Her eyes stung a bit from Malfoy's words, but she did not let her eyes meet Harry's. The girl by now was used to hos words and calling her that, though that didn't make it much easier. As his hand squeezed hers in return, a small smile came to her lips as she looked ahead towards the board. [b "I...thanks."] Hermione found herself whispering as she was at a loss for words.
It wasn't long after the words between them had been passed and the potions' master entered in his usual way. Some gasps could be heard around the room and some of the others even jumped. Somehow, his words had been expected. But no one even dared to back mouth him. And with silence, Sanpe began to scrawl the instructions that he had expected them to follow.
Hermione was writing them as the man at the board did. Just for a moment her gaze caught Malfoy's and he looked like a pouting child, trying to snarl at the pair. Slowly, the girl moved from the table to get some of the ingredients that would be needed, Malfoy having come up after her. The boy had opened something that could make anyone dizzy for just a second and as it had been the intent, the girl had caught the scent of it. Before she really knew what happened, everything was spinning and then went dark.
Harry remained firmly faced forward to ignore the blonde boy. [b "He's trying to get under my skin, but it won't work."]
He glanced at her out of the corner of his eyes, squeezing her hand in return. [b "Dating you wouldn't be something to be embarrassed about. I won't let him think so by reacting to it his taunts,"] he assured her.
Snape drifted in to the room with his usual sour expression and slam of the door. [i "I'll not permit a repeat of what happened yesterday. If any student decides to give me a headache, it will be immediately dismissal from my class, and you will have to serve nightly detentions."]
He paused, waiting for some reason to dismiss the first student who dared to challenge him. [i "Open your textbooks and keep up; I'll not be repeating myself."]
He turned his back to them, scrawling hastily on the blackboard behind him. Harry released Hermione's hand to prepare his supplies, catching sight of Malfoy's snarl at having failed to start a fight.
When they had gotten to class, Ron immediately left them to sit with Seamus. And once more her cheeks were on fire. It was like he had held a banner over them that said they were together and almost all eyes seemed to be on them. The girl didn't mind so much aside from the fact that she knew runours would spread and again Harry would have more to deal with. A small smile traced her lips when he had pulled out her seat for her. [b "Thanks."] She whispered.
It was when Malfoy came in did her eyes come up from the desk and the book she had opened. The girl could not help shooting the greasy ferret a glare. [b "And just what are you on about, Malfoy?"] Hermione asked. Somehow she had the feeling she would regret it with the smirk that the blonde gave.
[i "Just that you and Potter seem to be a thing. Bout time the two of you came out with it. Though I always thought Potter could do better than a filthy little mudblood like you. Seems the apple doesn't fall far from the tree, does it Potter?"] Draco said, his devilish little smirk upon his lips.
Hermione's hand instantly took Harry's. [b "Don't...he is trying to get you to do something to get Snape on your case again."] She whispered. More like pleaded with the boy at her side.
Ron took their locked hands as a sign it was safe to interrupt. He threw his arms around both of their shoulders, separating them in the middle. [i "I hate to ditch you both, but I can't betray Zonko's to another joke shop, and I refuse to step foot in a bookstore unless it's for school purposes. You're on your own."]
Harry was forced to drop Hermione's hand, wanting to strangle their redheaded friend for his poor timing. [b "I think we'll get along just fine without you,"] he said through clenched teeth.
Once they made it to the potions class, Ron not-so-subtly chose to sit beside Seamus instead of his usual spot, leaving the table for two free for Hermione and Harry. He couldn't have been more obvious if he were holding a flashing neon heart.
Harry even pulled her chair out for her, before noticing people watching. [b "Sorry,"] he cleared his throat, quickly taking his own seat.
[i "Isn't that sweet?"] Malfoy's voice drawled as he entered the class, sitting opposite them.
Her own cheeks heated up and turned a bright red at his words. God she wished she had not glamoured her hair or had it tied back. She couldn't hide her own blush and slowly her eyes went to him. [b "I...Yes, that sounds amazing. I think they said it was like a joke shop or another book shop. If it is a book shop, I'm really sorry."] Hermione found the words rushed as she was actually a little nervous.
The hand that had been taken without her conscious moment had actually gently gripped onto his hand. What was she doing? Did he actually like her? Was Ginny right? Her heart and mind were both racing and her blush wasn't calming down either. Now she really did want to be stricken dead as she couldn't find anything else to say.
Harry momentarily forgot his inner monologue at the mention of the sweets shop. His head tilted back and he practically moaned. [b "I could definitely use a month's supply of candy and chocolate."]
[i "Save it for your broomstick kit. The Firebolt's looking a little rough,"] Ron gave him a light shove.
[b "You'd look rough too if a dragon nearly burned you to a crisp. My Firebolt has been nothing but good to you,"] Harry joked back.
Ron caught his eye and started slowing down, flashing Harry a thumbs up as he put some distance between them, pretending to be preoccupied with the portraits hanging on the walls.
Before he could lose his nerve, Harry caught Hermione's hand to get her attention. [b "Maybe we could check out one of the new shops? Uh...together?"] he choked on the word, feeling his face flush in utter betrayal.
Hermione was lost to her own thoughts and was on auto pilot herself it seemed. The mostions or the walk to the dungeons at this rate was robotic and mere muscle memory. This was awlward and still almost like it had been that morning. She almost wished someone would just put her out of her misery.
That thought had just crossed her mind when Harry's blurted out question hit her ears and drew her back to attention. The girl slowed her steps to allow the other boy to catch up to them and be on her other side as was the usual. Slowly a smile came to her lips and she nodded.
[b "After the first few days back we've had.. it's a welcome distraction. I had really missed the butter beers and the sweet shop. But I'm sure maybe you missed the broom shop?"] She asked, actually grateful for the topic of Hogsmeade. It was something to think on for a little while other than that morning or Ginny's words.
[b "It's less about finding her class fun, and more of the fact that it's an easy grade,"] Harry smiled. [b "We could both use at least one easy class."]
When she turned and started walking, Harry's feet couldn't seem to follow her. Ron nudged him from behind. [i "Yeah mate, come on. Let's not make detention a habit."]
The redhead leaned close to Harry's ear. [i "Put us out of our misery and say something to her because I can't do another year like this."]
With that, Ron walked off to join Hermione, leaving Harry to trail behind them. It was more of a robotic autopilot. He stared at the back of Hermione's head, hearing [i She'll hate you] repeatedly chanted in his head.
Hogsmeade was coming up. Maybe he could say something then? Convince Ron to leave them alone to wander the shops so there's no pressure of a third person. No, then it may attach a sour memory to the village for her if she were to say no.
Then again, it might be the only place they'll find solitude away from prying eyes in order to say something. [i Now you just have to figure out what to say,] he thought to himself.
[b "You guys excited for Hogsmeade?"] he heard himself blurt out.
Smooth, Potter. Real subtle.
The girl took Harry's hand and let him pull her up. Brown eyes rolled at both the boys. [b "I still don't understand how anyone can see this as useful. Use your inner eye..see into the future. It's rubbish and completely mad."] She said as she shifted her bag and gave the boys a faint smile.
[b "I'm sorry...I know you two have fun with her. I do hope the leason was at least interesting."] She was trying to change topics as she moved a couple of steps away and towards the direction of the dungeons. [b "We best be getting going..there is no way to tell what sort of mood Professor Snape will be in."]
God she was trying. She really was. But Ginny's words were still buzzing around in her head. The girl was also feeling rather light headed too, but trying not to show it to the boys. [b "Well, are the two of you coming?"]
Harry could barely pay attention in class. Granted, he never did give Trelawny much of his focus when she began ranting about the foreshadowing tea leaves. This time, however, he wasn't distracted by an escaped prisoner potentially being after him. [i "Do you think she's drunk?"] Ron muttered to him at one point.
[b "I think if Trelawny were drunk, she's actually make some sense,"] Harry murmured back.
By the end of the lecture, the boys dumped their books back into their messenger bags and headed for the door. [i "Bloody hell, didn't even see you, Hermione,"] Ron sidestepped her before he managed to trip over her foot.
[b "Did you miss Divination that much that you sat out here the whole time? I'm sure Trelawny would have let you sit inside,"] Harry held his hand out to help her to her feet.
[i "I don't know. After Hermione stormed out that one time, I'm sure she'd rather not be in the same room. You leave quite the impression,"] Ron nudged her with his elbow.
If Ginny knew, then there was the chance others did. And that was the last thing that Harry needed. Right now he had enough to worry about with the Ministry calling him a liar and making him look bad to their whole world. It was sickening really. She couldn't help imagining what would happen if everyone found out that she, a muggle born no one had a crush on him. The prophet would have so much fun with the news. They had just last year and it looked like the would use ANYTHING and ANYONE against the boy.
Her head fell onto the book she had been staring down blankly at. She had read the words, but with her mind on Harry and everything Ginny said she had not taken anything in. She was losing focus and couldn't afford to be. It also very much felt as if her head were splitting and a migraine was coming on.
She didn't know how long she sat staring at the page with her racing thoughts but when the bell tolled, the girl found herself jumping. As quickly as she could, the bushy haired girl gathered her books and stuffed them into her bag. She had to go meet the boys and try to act as normally as she could. The day seemed like a good one to be missing classes as she truly did feel horrible.
Pushing any thoughts of what had happened from her mind, Hermione forced herself to smile and walked to the Divination class. As she peeked into the room, the girl saw that the class was just getting ready to go. And she could hear the maddening woman speaking all the nonesense of "the inner eye". With a roll of her eyes, Hermione leaned of the wall, more like let herself slide down against it to wait for both Ron and Harry.
[i "You understand that none of this information is new, right?"] Ron leaned against the wall with his arms crossed.
Harry stood opposite him, letting his head fall back repeatedly against the stone wall. [b "Well it's new to me,"] he groaned.
To be perfectly honest, he'd expected a harsher reaction from the redhead. He's had jealousy issues in the past - the Triwizard Tournament being the latest example - and Harry had fully anticipated another fit. Ron, however, merely looked annoyed that the conversation had taken so long to happen.
[i "The two of you have been all googly-eyes for each other since you got to Grimmauld Place. It's almost nauseating. The twins haven't shut up about it, they wanted to start a betting pool like last year, but Ginny made them scrap the idea,"] the redhead shrugged.
[b "What the hell am I going to do?"] Harry pushed off from the wall. [b "I can't have feelings like this. For one, you guys are already in danger just being friends with me, let alone me being practically in love with her. Secondly, there's no way this is going to end well. Hermione doesn't see me like that, and I'm not going to be the creepy guy who couldn't be okay with just being friends."]
It was more stressful than the Umrbidge situation. He nearly felt a migraine coming on. [i "Well, she knows you're not a creep. It's not like you're stalking her,"] Ron tried to reason with him.
[b "This is a disaster,"] Harry rubbed at his temple.
[i "Well if you're going to be a disaster, let's at least be a disaster on the way to Divination. We're running late,"] Ron hauled him by the elbow down the hall towards the ominous class where Trelawny was waiting.
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