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Harry let his eyes fall closed and listened to her detail her family life. He'd always imagined the Grangers to be loving parents, doting on their only daughter. He saw them around their living room, sharing stories of what each of them had missed while she was away at school. He had longed for such a home life while growing up, but it made him happy that Hermione actually got to experience it.
[b "What I'm getting from this story is that when you have your own place after all of this, you're going to have your own cozy little library, and a big old tree in the backyard to read under when it's warm and sunny,"] he smiled at her.
Sitting up, he crossed his legs and turned slightly to be facing her. [b "And if you think for a second that you don't belong to either world, allow me to remind you that I also grew up in the Muggle world and jump between them. So, by that logic, if we don't fully belong in either world, then we can at least belong by each other's side. Then we're never alone,"] he tried to comfort her.
She didn't know why she had told him who she would want to see. And she had thought for a moment he would maybe judge her choice as silly and impractical. But as always, Harry never ceased to amaze her. He listened and even seemed thoughful about her words. And a small smile came to her lips as he had said he didn't know why she hung around him and Ron. [b "It's mostly you I choose to hang around...You've always understood me in ways others couldn't and can't... You don't judge that sometimes I can seem too smart for my own good...and You've also saved me more times than I can count... Ron easily gets under my skin...and even if I shouldn't sometimes I enjoy getting under his by pointing out his ignorance.."] Her words were quiet as she was embarrassed to admit all of that to her best friend.
Her arms had crossed around her knees and her head rested on her lap as she turned brown gaze upon the lake before them. There was a short silence that fell between them before Harry gently nudged her knee with his elbow and asked about her muggle life. And she actually had to think on it. She could not say it was "normal" because he had never had a normal life. And her hand had moved to to gently touched the arm of the elbow he had nudged her with.
[b "It is a nice little townhouse...White and I guess what you could picture from the movies... a flower garden out front and a trimmed lawn.. We even have a some blossom trees which in the summer I love to sit under and read. It's also funny to watch Crookshanks chase the birds about and pout because he just misses them. Mum and dad are also very nice...and try to be understanding about this world and that I have a life in a sense they can't fully understand or be a part of. They've seen me with you and Ron...have even asked about the two of you. Sometimes we spend long nights in front of the fireplace in the living room and they'll tell me what I have missed...their normal lives...and I tell them about here at school. And there is also a small library and as you guessed I tend to curl up and hide away reading....It's always hard to go home...and always hard to come back here. I don't feel like I truly belong in either world.."] Her last words were the softest of what she had spoken.
Of course she'd want to see one of the most brilliant women to ever exist in history. That was just her. Brave beyond recognition, and holding her head up high against the odds. Elizabeth had been everything that Hermione Granger was.
He grinned at her. [b "Makes sense that you'd want to meet her. You're both strong, independent women. I don't know why you hang around Ron and I half the time. You're far more intelligent than either of us."]
His feet were getting numb from the water, so he waded back to shore to sit with her. A quick wave of his wand and his feet were dry and clean once more. Harry laid back against the grass and tucked his arms under his head.
[b "You know, I've never asked about your family. And I've only met your parents a few times. What's it like when you're home with them? I'm picturing your home as a nice townhouse with a private library where you tuck away every evening,"] he looked up at her.
[b "What's the muggle life of Hermione Granger like?"] he flashed her a warm smile and nudged her leg with his elbow.
Her cheeks flushed as she realized she had been logical again and had ruined her friend's fun. It had not been meant, but she had always been a bit more down to earth and worried about the outcome of the trouble they got into, even if she did not always voice it. [b "Eventually we will..."] Hermione said quietly.
And for a few mintues, it seemed a silence had fallen between them. Brown eyes had gone to green and she could see the boy was thinking about something. Something it appeared he would not say. And she wanted to ask him, but it was better not to. If she did, the girl feared she would ruin the capm that they had at the lake and honestly she didn't want to as it was the most at ease she was sure the pair had felt in days.
[b "Honestly I've read about the Middle Ages and times to come after it. All of them are fascinating...but I think personally I would choose Elizabeth I's ruling of England...It's always drawn me in...and I would love to meet her and understand more of her thought process and how she kept so strong and courageous even with all the odds against her.."] And again her cheeks flushed as she looked away. When she said it out loud, the girl realized how silly it must sound. Or how she must be rambling. [b "I'm sorry....I'm rambling again.."] Hermione said apologetically when she turned to face Harry again.
Harry snapped his fingers in disappointment. [b "Right. Probably good to obey the law to some degree. We may need them on our side eventually."]
He didn't want to verbalize it to her, but he wasn't altogether too concerned with how fast Ron would forgive them. He was tired of their redheaded friend always demanding that Harry take his side, and it was past due for him to start standing up for Hermione. Ron could be miserable for as long as he wanted. Harry wasn't going to budge.
[b "Hypothetical question,"] he continued their game of Twenty Questions. [b "You get to go anywhere in time. Not using a time turner,"] he grinned. [b "Actual time travel to a different century, or country. Where would you go?"]
He used to play this question over in his mind to kill boredom while stuck with the Dursleys. His imagination was all he had for the longest time. [b "I'd go back to the Middle Ages. See all of the tournaments with knights jousting and competing. Maybe compete in a joust, if I could figure out how to properly ride a horse."]
The girl sat and slipped her flats and stockings off as she watched the boy. Sometimes she did wonder how he managed the chill of the lake, but she did have to take Quidditch into consideration as well. Constantly were they playing or practicing in the pouring down and cold rain. And as those thoughts were in her head, a little of the water was splashed her way and Hermione let out a squeak. [b "That wasn't very nice you know. Especially when it isn't expected."] She said huffily, though it was obvious she had not meant it and did soon join her friend on the almost "ice-like" water and give him a small splash in return.
[b "Well I am sure you'll find somewhere with a pool or lake. There are actually plenty of places."] The girl said and cringed as she looked back seeing the spots of red that were Gryffindors beginning their practice. It was all a blurr to her really and she shook her head. [b "He always does. And will use it against us for days... Well me anyway. He is always so bored when the two of you are at it that he will forgive you faster."] She was honestly thinking of Grimmauld Place when she had spoken.
And a laugh slipped from her. [b "We can think about it all we want. But won't do us much good and being under-aged."] And of course she had to be logical.
Harry plopped on the ground and began untying his shoelaces. His socks were next to come off, and his pant legs were rolled up. [b "Who needs a swimming pool when the school has a perfectly good, and mostly safe, lake?"] he said, wading calf-deep into the water.
It was still a little cold, given that it was only September. Five years of playing Quidditch in the pouring rain, however, made him comfortable with cold water. [b "Mark it down on my list of things I want when I buy a house. It has to either have my own personal lake, or a pool."]
Grinning, Harry turned and sent a little splash her way. It was rare that they had a moment to just breathe without stress weighing them down. In the distance, he could see the Gryffindor Quidditch players beginning their practice. [b "I wonder if he'll even notice we aren't there."] Then again, this was Ron they were talking about. [b "Actually, no, he'll definitely notice. And then he'll use that to wallow in more self-pity."]
His face scrunched up. [b "Can we potentially discuss just running away again? Maybe hide out in the Giant Squid's evil lair? We'll need a lot of gillyweed, though."]
[b "I read things less than eight hundred pages. You've seen one of the books."] The girl said with a mocking pout. She knew that Harry had been teasing her. And honestly she didn't mind because most times she DID read books that were six hundred or more pages. In fact, she often kept an extra book or two with her aside from those she needed for class. But that had always been her and so she was fine with the weight of her bag. Though sometimes she did entertain the idea of Ron or Harry with her bookbag as she knew they ONLY kept what they needed for class in their bags.
[b "You know that's not a bad idea. They might have a book or two on that topic. Or even how to survive mad women who want to ruin your life."] Okay so that should not have been said. But their new defense professor was completely bonkers. And NOT in the good way either. She was a raving lunatic who quite reminded Hermione of the Red Queen from Alice in Wonderland.
After suggesting the walk, the girl had fallen into silence. For a moment, Hermione had almost expected a scolding on wanting to bail on their promise. But when Harry agreed, the girl smiled. She should have known he would be more than okay with it. Besides he had had even a harder time with Ron than she had. So the break would very much be welcomed, especially since later ANOTHER scolding would be coming their way.
[b "I think the pet shop can also be on our to do list. We can never have enough treats or bribes for them."] She said with a laugh when he mentioned getting their pets something special. The girl stopped by the lake and looked across the sparkling and clam water. And she couldn't help the sigh as it looked so calm and peaceful. Everything their lives weren't.
[b "Light reading?"] he grinned and bumped her shoulder as they walked. [b "That means nothing less than eight-hundred pages on some kind of historical subject,"] Harry teased.
How she hadn't suffered back damage with the sheer weight of her bag, he'd never understand. She carried no less than five books - not including ones for class - at all times, in the event she had a spare fifteen minutes to read. [b "I think we can make time for the bookstore. Maybe I'll even find something to catch my interest. I wonder if they sell books on surviving a school year without constant danger?"]
Her suggestion of a walk was music to his ears. [b "Thank god, I wasn't the only one thinking about bailing on practice. I'd rather not have Ron chuck the quaffle at my head. A walk sounds perfect."]
The wonderful thing about the Hogwarts campus was that there were no bad views. With rolling hills, the lake, and miles of forest, it was the picture-perfect location. Even the lake water seemed calm. No signs of the squid pitching a fit under the water, causing rough waves to hit the bank.
Harry briefly let go of her hand to roll his sleeves to his elbows. [b "So food, books, and candy. Not a bad list of activities so far. Maybe we can stop by the pet store to buy something for Crookshanks and Hedwig to bribe them for affection,"] he teased.
When Harry mentioned doing something wrong because they weren't having fun with the "trouble" and the week dragging on the girl could not help but pocture his godfather. She probably shouldn't have but it made her wonder if the Marauders ever felt that way. [b "Well if we want pointers on how to make this fun, I am sure Sirius would be more than willing to help. Afterall, he was a resident trouble maker here at school. And now has a run for his money with the twins."] Hermione reminded her friend, TRYING to lighten their moods a little as both of them were leaned against the cool stone wall.
They hadn't been leaned on the wall too long when the boy's hand took hers again and she was being gently tugged through the corridor. [b "Actually the new bookshop that opened. I was thinking to explore and see what 'light' reading I could find...I need something other than that horrid defense book we've been given. And also the sweet shop. Like you I need to restock and have my fun while I've not got mum and dad telling me what I can and can't have."] Though with her last words, her cheeks flushed and she looked away. [b "Please ignore my words on my mum and dad...that was just rambling."]
If she were honest, the brunette was both nervous and excited for the trip into Hogsemeade that weekend. [b "Fancy skipping watching Quidditch practice and just taking a walk by the lake? Honestly I can't face Ron yet...."] She admitted but felt guilty since Harry HAD promised to watch during the free period which they now had.
He let his head fall back to rest against the stone wall. [b "I know, it seems like this week just keeps dragging on. I thought being mischievous helped pass the time? I feel like we're doing something incredibly wrong if we're not having much fun."]
Taking her hand once more, he tugged her along the corridor. [b "I don't know about you, but I will definitely be buying an unhealthy amount of candy at the shop. Something sweet enough to practically ruin my teeth for a month. I've gone through my stash from Diagon Alley, so I'd best re-stock."]
Harry caught her eye and grinned. [b "Anything in particular you're looking forward to? New books? Maybe some junk food for you as well, since your parents aren't here to give you the dentist lectures of teeth safety?"]
The adrenaline rush from his spat with Umbridge was beginning to wear off. All that was left was a fluttering in his chest over discussing details of their date. If he had a better idea of what she was interested in doing, he could plan ahead.
Quite honestly, the bushy haired girl was in shock that Harry's plan had actually worked. She had ALMOST seen it coming back at them. But when it didn't and the toad got all huffy before she walked off, the girl let out the breath she had been holding. Her own heart was all but pounding in her chest. [b "I thought she was going to be trying to tear into us even more...that was risky, Harry.. But at least now she knows we're not alone. Though HAVE to get that plate...that is if Professor McGonagall hasn't already.."] She whispered, her mind already jumping back into planning things though she was still looking tired.
A soft laugh slipped from her and she nodded. [b "Actually...we have I think five new ones coming. Speaking against the Ministry and their actions, Skipping class, Smarting off to a Ministry Official, Going to a Professor and telling lies, and still Spreading the remours that Voldemort is back."] The girl listed off as she looked up at Harry.
Lightly she leaned on the wall behing them as he had pulled her out of the way so that their classmates could get around them. Many of the others turned to look at the pair but didn't stop. [b "Ron would do that...and he will be yelling at us again for sure tonight.."] She said with a sigh. The girl was not looking foward to facing their friend or the rest of their classes for the day. [b "Can we just have our weekend yet?"]
[b "I think you'll find she was in no breach of school rules. Meetings with prefects and team captains are quite common. Perhaps you should speak with the other heads of houses to verify this information. Professor Flitwick holds weekly meetings with the Hufflepuff students."]
She was nearly foaming at the mouth by the time she stormed off through the sea of students. Next thing Harry knew, his arms were full of Hermione. [b "I'm not going to lie, I wasn't entirely sure that would work,"] he finally let out the breath he'd been holding anxiously.
Releasing her, he pressed his hand to his heart where it was beating against his ribs. [b "I'm a little light headed,"] he laughed softly, not quite believing he'd pulled off the risky play.
McGonnagal wouldn't back down from any fight, let alone one with Dolores Umbridge. Harry was confident that the Gryffindor Head of House would be more than capable of handling the Ministry goon. It was just a matter of how escalated the argument would get. [b "I probably just instigated at least three new Ministry decrees,"] he said, moving aside so the other students could walk around them. [b "But I think we got the message across. She knows now that we have allies here."]
Leaning close, he grinned. [b "If you think Ron pitched a fit earlier, wait until he hears about this. He might actually send us a howler,"] he joked.
Hermione didn't know what Harry had in mind. At this rate, the girl was about to cave to Umbridge. At least for the moment to keep out of trouble. But the squeeze of her hand when he had pulled her to her feet and his muttered words had gotten her attention. Soothed her in a sense. [b "With my life.."] The girl whispered, her hand giving his a squeeze as he still held her hand tightly and the pair followed after the pink devil.
Her mind and heart was racing. Sure she had broken a few rules already but those had been at night and also unseen. The game Harry was playing now was in broad daylight and was VERY dangerous. But perhaps that was one thing she had always admired in the boy. His courage and the fact that he was not afraid to take risks or stand for what he believed in. Only she wished she were as brave.
The pair followed the woman through the halls as students were coming out of classes. And all two soon the pair stopped and were watching as Umbridge turned on them. Her hand gripped Harry's tigher as she hoped he knew what he was doing. [b "Harry..?"] She whispered, but then she blinked seeing the nites they had been given. And then she realized it. He was trying to teach the woman a leason and to knock her down a VERY much needed peg.
[i "So it appears that the two of you have been given excuses from class. And I WILL be talking to your head of house. It appears that she thinks she can continuously protect the pair of you. You are free for now, but mark my words Potter, Granger I will have the both of you for detention."] There was not much the woman could do for the moment and even she knew it.
Hermione turned to Harry and hugged him tightly. [b "Harry, that was brilliant... daring and dangerous but brilliant. But we both best be careful."] She said, blushing when she let him go. The whole of the students had seen the exchange and she was biting her lip and looked down as whispers began amd stares stayed on them.
Harry lost all sense of calm at the unnecessary interruption. [b "I wouldn't be so smug if I were you, professor. Wouldn't want to look like one of those squished-faced cats in your classroom."]
Her smirk remained, but her eyes turned shady. [i "Do not make me drag you by the ear to my office, Potter. I'm not above corporal punishment. You have been caught skipping class, and that is a punishable offence."]
An idea struck Harry.
[b "Of course. Right away, Professor Umbridge,"] he forced a smile.
As he pulled Hermione to her feet, he caught her eye as Umbridge turned to lead the way. [b "Trust me,"] he murmured to her.
He kept his hand clasped tightly around hers for reassurance. Dolores held her head high and proudly through the corridors, her arrogance practically oozing from her. Harry fought the urge to roll his eyes. The woman wouldn't be pleased for long.
As students filed out of the classrooms and into the hallways, Harry halted his steps, drawing Hermione to a stop with them. [b "Professor, I don't think we're going to be needing to come with you to your class,"] his voice was bright.
Umbridge turned on her heel and tilted her head. [i "I don't believe I gave you a choice, Mr Potter. Your actions have consequences, and I will not have students skipping classes on my watch. You are to follow me immediately."]
[b "You know, I don't think I will."]
Her smile faltered. [i "Excuse me?"]
[b "You see, I just happened to remember that Hermione and I caught up with Professor McGonnagal this morning. She wanted to know how Gryffindor's Quidditch team and students are doing, so we had a meeting to discuss it. And,"] he produced the excuse notes from his pocket. [b "We've been respectfully dismissed from class. You seem to like reading those endless Ministry papers, so I'm sure this won't take you long."]
Students watched with rapt attention as she snatched the parchment from his hand. Her eyes poured over the document like a hungry tiger. It crumpled under her fist. With a snap of her head, she met his eyes once more.
[b "I'm sure you won't want to argue Professor McGonnagal's authority as Head of Gryffindor House,"] Harry's smirk turned vicious. [b "After all, we were discussing school matters, which you'll find is what the Ministry is claiming to uphold."]
Those surrounding them were practically holding their breath as they watched the showdown. Harry's eyes never wavered. Umbridge was a bully, and needed a good dose of public embarrassment.
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