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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!"]
So much for the calm year that they had hoped for. So far they had an insane new Defense Against the Dark Arts professor who wanted to make their lives hell AND now were planning an underground student rebellion. It seemed that so far this year had almost taken the cake as far as trouble that they would be able to get into. Truly it was times like these that she did yearn for either their first or second year again. But she had to quickly push those thoughts aside.
[b "This scroll will be the best to have the twins use when gathering names. Right now it's enchanted in the same sense as the Marauder's Map...but we just have to tap it with our wands...no fancy little saying with it.."] The girl said with a small smile as she was trying to make light of what they were doing. Because honestly she was nervous. Very nervous of what they were going to be doing. If it wasn't for the boys, the girl would never do anything like this.
It was as she watched Ron trying to get Harry's attention did she tilt her head. She had not realised that he had again been seeming to space. Later she was definitely going to talk to him and make sure he was okay. [b "You know we can't let you get into trouble on your own...what kind of friends would that make us?"] The girl asked with a small smile.
Ron set his jaw and nodded. [i "I'll get the twins on it tonight. They've been looking for a new project. This will keep them busy for the time being."]
As Harry sat and listened to his friends, he felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude for both of them. Hermione had stuck to his side like glue with her loyalty, never wavering even when he was subjected to taunting by the rest of the school. And though Ron had his moments of being a pain in the ass, he came through whenever they really needed him.
He was so lost in his thoughts that Ron had to wave his hand in front of Harry's face and whistle to get his attention. [i "Not planning battle strategy without us, are you?"] the Weasley boy joked.
Harry smiled. [b "Not at all. Wouldn't want to take the fun away from you two. I'm just glad to have you on my side. I don't even want to think about how all of this would go if I had to do it on my own. I'd be dead four times over, at least. And definitely not brave enough to conduct an illegal training group under the nose of the Ministry."]
It was true. He could fight no problem, and wasn't afraid of being in trouble with authority figures, that was for sure. But the idea of taking on this level of disobedience without a support system was daunting. [b "You're the best partners in crime I could ask for,"] he pretended to wipe tears from his eyes.
The girl refused to take the book back until Ron read more. She WANTED him to understand just what they were in for and why she and Harry had seemed in odd moods when coming down. And when the book had been given back, Hermione slipped it back into her bag and had dark eyes trained on both her friends. She has known this would be difficult but what they had found out made it all the worse. She would have ALMOST preferred facing the last four years over again than trying to face this new challenge.
[b "Harry's right. Until this comes to light and the Order gets direct proof we do as we planned. We raise the student rebellion and help them learn to defend themselves. They've just as much a right to know what is coming as anyone else. Besides...if history repeats our age group witll be targetted as well. We have to know what is going on."] She said quietly, leaning back against the tree behind them.
Eleven year old her would have NEVER thought she would help in something like this. But the truth of the matter was if they didn't do something, nothing would be done. And they would be doomed. This fight was not just the Order's and Ministy's fight but theirs as well. They needed a fighting chance. [b "Tomorrow we will have the twins help us get others signed up and see a head count...and from there we will start things off. Everything is moving quickly and so we have to too.."] Hermione said and gave them both a determined look. Oh this had just added to everything else and it would be just as stressful as things had been. But she WOULD NOT tell that to Harry or anyone else. She had to be able to keep it together and to help him out.
Harry slumped back against the tree, diligently watching Ron's face morph into sheer disgust as he read on. [i "Now what do we do?"] the redhead looked between his two friends.
The bark was rough as Harry let his head fall back against the trunk. [b "What we can do is continue the plan to stir the rebellion at our own level. By the sounds of it, Kingsley is working on getting the information to the rest of the Order as soon as he can. Once they get word of the hidden raids, then they'll come up with a way to make it public knowledge. Until they get evidence, though, it needs to be kept quiet."]
It was an awful situation to be caught in the middle of. Secrecy on both levels, and full on Ministry corruption. Harry would be quite happy to just battle Voldemort in lieu of running an underground Defense Against the Dark Arts club. It would probably be less stressful, if he was quite honest.
[b "Hogsmead is tomorrow. If we tell Fred and George tonight, they can spread the word while everyone is in town, without prying eyes from the teachers. They can sign a piece of parchment so we can get a headcount and figure out who we need to get the word out to when we plan the first meeting,"] he spoke as quietly as he could to not draw attention from anyone in the greenhouses.
Ron caught the look given between Hermione and Harry. He had been about to ask, no demand what the pair were on about. But before he could even say one word, Harry was asking Professor Sprout if they could go outside and do homework. He was about to protest, but the fact that they were granted permissiom stopped him. Well more like Harry's look and taking off the apron and gloves. [i "Yeah, I want to know what this is really about.."] The Weasley boy muttered as he took off his own apron and gloves.
Hermione had slipped the book back into her bag and at Professor Sprout's given permission has begun to slowly move their plants back to their proper place. She knew the boys were still not comfortable with the Devil's Snare. And if she were to be honest she wasn't either but could handle it better.
When she had come back to the pair, the bushy haired girl nodded and removed her gloves and apron as well. [b "Trust us...you won't like this. It really is complicated."] But those had been her only spoken words as she walked with Harry and Ron from the greenhouse and found them a nice little shady spot. As soon as they were seated, Hermione passed the book to Ron.
Ron only read the first little bit and looked to the other two. [i "This is bloody insane...are they serious?"] He asked turning pale and all but shoving the book back at Hermione as he didn't want to read all of it.
[b "Look at that, you're right,"] he admired their still-standing plants, properly trimmed and filled with fresh soil. [b "We didn't even lose a limb."]
[i "Don't trust them just yet. That's what they're waiting for,"] Ron warned. [i "One brief moment of peace, and then they'll choke you."]
Harry kept his laughs to a quiet chuckle, catching Hermione's eye. His gaze dropped to the book in her hands, hidden just under the table. Glancing back up to her face, he gave a faint nod. Clearing his throat, he turned to Professor Sprout.
[b "We're finished. If we put everything back, is it okay if we catch up with some homework outside? We'll stay where you can see us, so you know we aren't skipping class,"] he requested, trying to tap into whatever boyish charm he could muster.
Professor Sprout's eyes wandered just past them to where Seamus was defending himself against a more hostile vine. [i "Alright, make space. Finnegan looks like he's going to need it."]
Looking to his friends, Harry nodded to the door with his head. [b "Shall we?"] he murmured, removing his apron and gloves.
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