“I still can’t believe you agreed to do it.” Harry looked across the large dining table at Hermione, as he reached for a breakfast scone.
“It’s 250 points for Gryffindor, Harry!” Hermione countered.
“Don’t forget the Friday night food parties!” Ron mumbled stuffing through a large bite of pancake in his mouth. “I think you’re spot on, Hermione! How hard can it be to come up with a few dance steps, and then reap the rewards all year!” Ron had purposely directed the response at Hermione, completely ignoring Harry. They may be have been sitting at the same table, but Ron was not speaking to Harry.
“Slytherin also gets the house points as well, don’t they?” Harry pointed out to Hermione, upset that Ron was being a complete git, and ignoring him. “AND they get to come to the Friday night mixers as well. So how does that put us ahead of them?”
While Harry was speaking, Ron had turned to face Seamus and Dean and was whispering something to them, and chuckling, while Harry was speaking. Hermione knew that her two best friends were not on speaking terms, and it frustrated her to no end. Boys could be so immature at times!
“Harry, it puts us ahead, because we get the chance to finally put Malfoy in his place,” Hermione said triumphantly. "We may not have an opportunity like this again! And you can't tell me you don't want to get him back for trying to hex you while your back was turned!"
Harry shrugged, and then a slow grin spread across his face. "Something tells me that Malfoy will think twice before he tries something like that again." He chuckled as he recalled Moody transforming Draco Malfoy into a blond ferret, and the scene it caused! If there was ever sweet justice, that had been it: After three long years of taking Malfoy's insults and pranks, that was his payback.
Harry's grin was contagious, and Hermione giggled at the infamous ferret transformation. She was usually very principled about keeping to the rules of Hogwarts, but this was an exception. Malfoy deserved it!
She glanced over at the Slytherin table just in time to see Malfoy sliding a “Potter Stinks” button at Blaise Zabini and laughing. Blaise reached down to pick up the badge and pinned it on his robes, both spinning the offensive button simultaneously and laughing loudly. She looked away and for the first time noticed that most of the dining hall had those same offensive buttons on. Even some of the Gryffindors were wearing them!
“Don’t look at them, Harry.” Hermione reached across the table and held out her hand, palm up. “They all have those ridiculous buttons on, just to show what real prats they are! You’re above them.”
They both heard a loud snort come from Ron. Hermione shot an icy glare at him, but he had angled his body so that his shoulder was turned to her, and she couldn't see his face.
Harry swallowed a bite of his scone, and reached his hand over and placed it on top of Hermione’s. He gave it a gentle squeeze. “I know, Hermione,” he reassured her. “The buttons don’t bother me. But it worries me that you’ll have to spend time alone with that prick. I swear, if he does anything to you...”
Ron straightened his shoulders and wiped the residue of syrup off his lips with a linen serviette. He turned to face Hermione and noticed the clasped hands across the table. Hermione said, "He'll answer to us — he wouldn't dare after the ferret incident!"
“He’s Malfoy... he’ll try something,” Harry concluded.
“But I’ll be ready for him, Harry. You know I’m not stupid. I can actually think of a hex or two to defend myself. It’s not like I won’t have my wand.”
“Or your fists,” Harry added, as he looked up at Hermione and smiled at the memory of her plowing her fist into Malfoy’s face last year. “You've got quite the right hook!”
They both laughed at this and Hermione locked fingers with Harry’s hand, which was still lying on the table. Ron was still looking at their intertwined hands and squirming. Hermione chanced another glance over at the Slytherin table and saw Malfoy glaring openly at her, with a look of disgust. Ron cleared his throat. “Pass the scones, Hermione — that is if you can manage to unglue your hand.”
Hermione and Harry then withdrew their hands, and she reached for scones. “Honestly, Ron, I don’t know what’s gotten into you lately,” Hermione observed. “You’re acting so sullen one minute and then flinging rude remarks off the next.”
Ron didn’t reply just shrugged off the comment and grabbed a scone from the basket that she had offered him. “Just thinking about how many secrets my mates keep from me. First someone here somehow miraculously has his name entered in the Goblet — something that not even Fred and George could accomplish, and not for lack of trying! And then you end up revealing that you’ll be fraternizing with public enemy number one, Malfoy. What’s next? It just looks to me that you have a little more on your mind with him than a tango, Hermione.”
Hermione sucked in her breath, and slammed down the basket of scones she was holding. Her face was beet red as she gathered her messenger bag and got up to leave.
Harry shot up to face Ron. “Look, Ron, I don’t know why you insist on being a complete arse about this, but you don’t have to take it out on Hermione! She’s done nothing but be a friend to you.”
Ron climbed over the bench, and looked across the table facing Harry. “I don’t need you to tell me how much of a friend I am to Hermione. She makes it perfectly clear.” He glanced quickly over at Hermione and noticed how upset she appeared and felt a tinge of regret. “At least I know where I stand with her, mate.” He stormed out of the dining hall and Hermione looked over at Harry.
“What did I say wrong?” she asked.
Harry pointed his head toward the door, and they began to walk out together with the table between them. He stopped at the end of the table, waiting for Hermione to join him from the other side. He gently placed his arm around her and leaned in close to her ear, lowering his voice to ensure privacy. “It’s not so much what you said. Who knows what's going on with that twit. But I have a feeling it’s what you don’t say, Mione.”
Hermione liked how she felt with Harry’s arm around her, comforting her. She liked the warmth of his breath against her ear. Harry was her most precious friend in the world. She never had to question his loyalty or love. They had been through so much over the years, without a doubt, they would always be together... no matter what.
“What don’t I say?” she asked asking softly, hooking an arm around Harry’s waist and leaning her head on his shoulder as they walked out of the hall.
Harry took in her quizzical expression, and took a deep breath. “Hermione, you have a lot to learn about the opposite sex. You just have no idea.” They walked arm in arm, and he gave her shoulder a squeeze. “But it’s okay. That’s what makes you so special. It’s part of what I cherish about you.”
Hermione nudged him in the ribs, and swung her right leg over Harry's left leg, momentarily blocking him.
“Oh don’t assume, Mr. Potter! I may know more than you think I do!"
Harry smiled at her, and countered, moving his left leg back over and in front of Hermione's right leg, swinging his hip into her as he did so.
"Yeah right, Hermione! If it's not in Hogwarts, A History, I doubt you do!"
Laughing now, she swung her own hip back into Harry, crossing her leg back over his.
"If you’re such an expert, why don’t you enlighten me?"
Harry stopped and turned to face Hermione, looking down into her eyes. He reached over with his free hand and pushed back a stray ringlet of curl behind her ear and smiled. Her eyes held his as she waited for his response.
“Friggin’ Get a room or at least clear out of the way, Potthead.”
Draco, with Blaise at his side, bumped roughly into Harry’s shoulder and pushed by him.
“Guess we know why the Weasel ran off to lick his wounds, now don’t we?” Draco said over his shoulder, not bothering to look at them. He directed his next comment to Blaise, but he said it loud enough for Harry and Hermione. “Can you imagine how common the Gryffindor common room actually is? They certainly aren’t very selective are they?”
“Malfoy!” Harry gritted between his teeth and let go of Hermione as he charged forward.
Hermione grabbed on to his arm sleeve and pulled him back. “Harry, don’t. He’s not worth it, and he never will be.”
Harry hesitated, and Hermione handed him her messenger bag. “Come on, why don’t you tell me about your first task?”
Harry grinned at Hermione and took the bag strap and placed it on his shoulder, and they continued to class. “I’m not sure what it is. They don’t tell us anything. They don’t want to give us an advantage, I suppose.”
“You will be careful, won’t you, Harry?”
“Come on, Mione.” Harry nudged her as they walked. “You know I’m indestructible— The Boy Who Drooled, and all.”
Hermione laughed with her best friend at that, and countered, “The Boy Who Fought!”
“The Boy Who Choked!” he volleyed.
“The Boy Who Won!” she challenged.
It was a game that they had come up with a few years ago, a parody that they enjoyed privately. As the bell rang, Harry grabbed Hermione’s hand, and pulled her with him as they began to sprint across the courtyard to class.
“The Boy Who Failed,” he laughed as he ran.
“The Boy Who Soared!” she returned, taking deep breaths as she tried to keep up.
Their footsteps rang out down the hallway as they headed toward their dreaded Potions class, knowing that Snape would deduct house points if they were late. Harry tightened his grip on Hermione’s hand and picked up the pace of the sprint.
Even as her lungs filled with air, she challenged her legs to keep stride with Harry. She wasn’t a Quidditch player, but she did enjoy a good workout, and wasn’t going to have house points taken off because of her.
“The Boy Who Bombed!” Harry’s hair flew from around his forehead, revealing his the infamous scar that had often caused so much trouble for him.
“The Boy Who Succeeded!”
“Hey, that’s the same thing as ‘won!’” Harry chided.
“And ‘bombed’ isn’t the same as ‘failed?’” She gasped for deeper breaths as they approached the Potions door.
“Point taken,” Harry conceded. He and Hermione ground to a stop, banging into the door. Both panted heavily with hair, uniforms, and robes askew. Harry handed the messenger bag over to her. He looked at Hermione’s red cheeks, flushed from running, and reached up and to pull another strand of hair that had attached itself on to her lips. His chest rose and fell, rapidly, but before he could remove the strand, he found himself mesmerized by Hermione’s mouth. Her lips were parted as she tried to catch her breath. She looked at his hand frozen in midair, and pulled the strand from her mouth. They held each other’s eyes as he reached for the door handle. He gulped in more air. “The Boy Who...”
“GOT DETENTION!” Snape finished as he swung the door completely open.
They had not realized that Professor Snape had already opened the door and were not aware of how long he had been standing there.
“Good of you to join us, Mr. Potter and Miss Granger. Now if you are finished eye-groping each other, could you come in and take your seats?”
The entire class had turned to watch them as they came down to the front of the room.
“Pathetic,” Draco spat out, as Hermione walked past him.
“As I was saying, before Mr. Potter deemed it necessary to so rudely interrupt class and grace us with his belated presence... You will work in pairs. Each team will conjure a potion that will be used for some sort of healing.”
He took in the still flushed cheeks of Harry and Hermione, and added, “It can be cosmetic, or topical. I would not suggest anything to be ingestable unless you scored 100% on the last exam.”
Hermione took out her notebook and began writing notes as Harry reached down between them, getting her potions book for from her bag. He opened it and placed it between them on the desk.
“In deference to the tournament Tournament of Champions,” his lips curled around the word as he looked at Harry, “the headmaster has asked that we extend deadlines for major projects by a week, since the first task will be held next week. Therefore, you will need to have this potion ready in a fortnight.”
There was instant chatter of approval and relief around the classroom.
“However,” Snape continued, “I expect your potions to be all the more complex since you are being given an extra week. Please do not insult yourselves or your classmates by handing in shoddy work. You shall have the remainder of this period to come up with an idea for your potion.”
Draco had been watching Harry and Hermione as they entered the classroom, cheeks flushed red, breathing heavily, clothes askew, glistening with perspiration, as if they had just tumbled off a cliff, or had just had the best snog ever. He forced himself to look away as they panted for each other, eyes locked together. He felt heat rise in his chest, and his pulse quicken. Remembering their idiotic and childish display — walking arm arm-in in-arm, crisscrossing each other's legs as they walked — increased the disgust he was feeling. He seethed as they began setting up their table area together, working so pathetically perfectly together. He felt the bile rise when he saw them put their heads together in discussion for the potion.
He turned to Blaise and said, “Listen, I’ve already got an idea for the potion. I’ve even come up with a perfect plan to do research on it! The dance practice sessions will be the ideal laboratory.”
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