The sound of Uncle Vernon's bellowing voice still rung in Harry's ears, though he had already been whisked away in a whirlwind of loud voices and panic. [b "What is going on?"] he called over the wind, looking to Lupin riding alongside him.
[i "I promise Harry, we will tell you when it is appropriate. Just trust me until we get you safe!"] his former teacher responded.
Despite it being summer, there was a chill in his bones, though it could just have been from his anxiety. Gripping tighter to the broomstick, Harry remained silent for the remainder of the journey, until they touched down on a dimly lit street.
[b "This is the safe house?"] he questioned, raising an eyebrow. The rows of houses didn't seem any more safe than Privet Drive.
Moody grumbled something incoherently. [i "Just take this and don't be a smart ass."]
Looking at the scrap of paper, Harry read the scrawl in his head. [i What is Grimmauld Place?] Before the thought was finished, the sound of bricks scraping together reached his ears. Looking up, Harry's jaw fell as an addition unit appeared before them.
Without a word, Lupin led the way to the door, gesturing for Harry to enter first. The interior wasn't any better lit. [i "Come along, no point in straggling in the doorway,"] Remus pressed against his back, urging him forward.
In the darkness, Harry squinted to try and navigate his way. He barely made it in to the first room on his right before a pair of arms squeezed the air out of him. [i "Harry, dear!"] Molly Weasley's voice met his ears.
[b "Mrs. Weasley?"] he sputtered, eyes adjusting to the faint glow of the fire behind her.
[i "You had us all worried, Harry dear.] Mrs.Weasley continued as she kept her hold on him. After a moment, the woman pulled back and looked down at him. [i "You're looking a bit thin, dear but I am afraid that you will have to wait about an hour or so for supper.. the meeting is still going."] She said and gave a small smile.
Remus gave Harry a small smile and shook his head as if telling the boy not to ask. [i "Ron and Hermione should be upstairs.. If I remember the room that you and Ron will be sharing is up the stairs on the right.] And with that he followed Mrs. Weasley into the kitchen.
Hermione was sitting in the room with Ron and rolled her eyes. [b "How could they be saying this about him? They can't just put him on trail and expel him, it's not right!"] The girl was ranting about what they had heard and had decided to look through a book or two just to prove Harry had done nothing wrong.
[i "I know Mione, but you also know EVERYTHING that has been printed. They will make something else up about him and about Dumbledore."] Ron said.
It was his words that had made her sigh. And before she could say something she could hear creaking on the steps and stood from the bed and walked out of the room and noticed Harry below. Without much thinking, the girl ran down to greet him, hugging him when she got downstairs. [b "It is so good to see you! Are you okay?"]
The adults disappeared in to the room, closing the door behind them. Harry stood alone in the hall, looking around for some kind of idea of where the hell they'd taken him. A surge of annoyance rose in his chest at being rustled to a strange place without any explanation. He hadn't heard from them, and now they wanted him to be patient?
Mumbling under his breath, he had begun climbing the stairs, winding his way up to the second floor landing when a body collided with his. A mouthful of hair and the voice gave the person away. [b "Hello, Hermione,"] he answered back, returning the hug. [b "I'm fine. Really."]
Backing up slightly, Harry noticed Ron standing behind her. [b "Is everyone here?"] he asked.
The redhead nodded. [i "They figured it would be the safest place. Come on in here. Your bed is all ready."]
A muscle in Harry's jaw twitched. How long had they all been shut up in here together, while he had endured a summer of Dursleys? Inside the room, Harry sat on his bed, looking around at the clearly lived-in room. Apparently the Weasleys had at least been here for a while. [b "Is someone going to explain what's going on? Lupin and the others show up at Privet Drive, haul me out of there, and can't even offer a simple explanation."]
His eyes flickered between his two best friends, taking in the differences since he had last seen them. Ron, impossibly even more gangly. Hermione, her soft featured creased with worry. [b "If the two of you know something I don't, it'd be nice to be informed for once."] Harry's tone was more clipped and short than usual. [b "I deserve that, at least."]
Ron had been the one to speak and to lead the other two into the room that he and Hermione had come out of. The boy leaned on the wall and Hermione took a seat on one of the beds. Since they had entered the room, the pair stayed silent and watched their best friend, who by the looks and sounds of things was VERY annoyed and if they couldn't offer him any sort of an explanation would be yelling soon.
The girl finally dropped her gaze to the bed, her hand tracing small shapes as she was thinking on how best to explain everything. In truth, Hermione and Ron didn't know very much more than Harry himself did. Sure they had been around Grimmauld Place most the summer, but that didn't mean the 'Order' had told them much. Actually they had been kept pretty much in the dark only learning small things here and there and mostly kept busy by TRYING to make the old house seem livable again, which honestly was not an easy task.
A sigh slipped from Ron's lips as he looked between Harry and Hermione. [i "Might as well tell him what we DO know, Mione. He's right about deserving to know something."] The redhead said, but he didn't offer any answers, figuring that Harry would go easier on Hermione if she were the one to tell him.
Slowly, Hermione's head bobbed up and down and brown eyes found their way to the green ones that seemed to have never left her and Ron. [b "This is Grimmauld Place where they keep the headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix...a group that Dumbledore has put together in order to fight Voldemort.. We've been here since the beginning of summer, but we were sworn not to tell you anything. According to Dumbledore, the less you knew the better. But Harry we wanted to tell you!"] The girl said, her eyes sparkling with tears that wanted to fall.
Harry had thought that he would have felt better knowing the truth. However, once the words had poured from Hermione's mouth, the more bitter he felt. Scoffing, he rose to his feet and had begun pacing. [b "[i Dumbledore] thought it was best for me, huh? Tell me, how is being kept in the dark best for anyone? I could have died yesterday! I had Dementors nearly suck the life out of me, but it must be fine, since it's according to Dumbledore's plan, which is apparently for my well-being."]
His jaw tensed and fists curled at his sides. [b "I'm the one that has to fight this war. I am the only weapon they can throw at Voldemort,"] he saw Ron flinch. [b "That can actually stand a chance at defeating him. But how in the bloody hell do they expect me to be in this war, if I'm kept from knowing what's going on?"]
He wanted to believe that they were right, and that it would all workout as they were apparently planning. But at that moment, all Harry felt was betrayal. [b "Why have you lot been allowed to be here, around everything, while I've been stuck in a tiny bedroom, waiting for some kind of news that never came! I'm the one Voldemort wants, but I'm not permitted to join in whatever meetings this Order has been holding? What kind of rubbish is that?"] By now, his voice has raised.
The anger that the boy was displaying was the thing that she had been afraid of. It wasn't that she blamed Harry for the way he felt or the words that he spoke but the girl had hoped he wouldn't take it out on them. Obviously that had been a lost hope, but a hope nonetheless. So she let him rant and say his piece because she was trying to figure out some sort of an answer for what was said.
But of course, before Hermione could open her mouth, Ron had beaten her to it. And she was rather nervous as the redheaded boy now spoke. [i "Harry, we understand your anger. But you need to know that we've been kept in the dark on this just as much as you have. We've only learned bits and pieces from Fred and George using extendable ears that they've developed... Mum found out and was furious and has destroyed most the lot...So we haven't heard anything since."] The boy tried to explain, obviously hoping that his words would help to calm the dark haired boy who was still pacing about.
As soon as she heard the words Ron spoke, a groan slipped from the girl's lips. She should have beaten him to speaking, but it was too late and she was sure they would be hearing more. [b "It's not that he doesn't want you knowing Harry, but I think with all that the Ministry has been saying he thought it better to keep all of this on the down low. You see...it seems that Fudge is going more and more 'mad', thinking that Dumbledore is making everything up just because he wants his job... And what Ron said...we've honestly not much a clue as to what is going on either. If we did, we would definitely fill you in now. Just with our letters it was thought that they would be intercepted...Also..you aren't alone in this Harry.. you know that we want to help too."] The girl tried again, biting on her lip as her eyes were once more on the boy.
As his anger deflated, Harry grew tired. He knew his friends were right. He had no reason to not trust them. They had been there for him for the past few years, so why would this be any different? Feeling like a jerk, he sunk to his bed and reached up to take his glasses off. He rubbed his eyes to try and alleviate the headache that was beginning to form. [b "I just...I lived eleven years being lied to every single day. I don't want to be lied to anymore. I understand that they think they're protecting me, but what good is it going to do if I don't know Voldemort's plans, and I'm his primary target?"]
Sighing, he put his glasses back on, and Ron and Hermione came back in to clear focus. [b "I'm sorry. I'm just tired."]
Pausing, Harry looked to Ron. [b "I'm almost afraid to ask what 'extendable ears' are. If Fred and George are behind it, it can't be safe,"] he tried to lighten the mood, feeling guilty about lashing out at the two of them.
Perhaps he could persuade Lupin to allow him in on certain meetings, Harry thought internally. His former professor had always been a man of wisdom and understand. He, more than anyone, would sympathize with Harry about the situation he found himself in.
Nervously toying with a piece of stray thread at the hem of his shirt, he cleared his throat. [b "Since you guys have been here for a while, why not give me a tour? It would probably be better than being cooped up in here."]
[b "Both Ron and I completely understand your anger, Harry...and we wouldn't much like to be in that situation either... It was wrong of us to keep you in the dark, just as if is for them. But they do really care about you and want to try and keep you safe. Honestly though, I don't think they much know what is going on themselves... All they can do is guess at the moment."] Hermione said, giving a weak smile.
A smirk and chuckle came from Ron as Hermione rolled her eyes when they had been asked about the extendable ears. [i "Actually, Harry they aren't as bad as you think. They are pieces of plastic shaped like ears with a long strong between them and enchanted to hear things at a safe distance. But knowing Fred and George, I can see where you would think it to be something much worse."] The Weasley boy said, smile still in place as it seemed Harry was more at ease now.
Hermione and Ron were both about to open their mouths, but instead of speaking yelps slipped from them as both the twins appeared on either side of Harry. [#f1be0e "Hiya Harry. We could hear you all the way from our room. Oh and these are what were being talked about. We've got Ginny downstairs checking to make sure we can use them."] Fred said, smirking as he looked to the three friends who they had decided to come and 'bother.'
[b "And you REALLY think your mum won't be finding out again?"] The girl asked as she shot the twins a disapproving look, though her eyes gave way that she was just as curious to know what was going on.
[i "Well since Harry does want to know...maybe this won't be such a bad idea."] Ron said with a shrug.
At that moment, Ginny came into the room, her eyes landing on Harry and she blushed. Quickly, the girl looked away from the boy and looked to Fred and George. [#2caaf6 "Seems safe to use the ears..."] She said, giving a smile as she wanted to know just as badly as the older teens just what was being kept from them.
[#f90120 "So what do you say, Harry? Explore Grimmauld Place or try and hear what's going on downstairs?"] George asked with a cheeky smirk, waiting for the boy to make the decision.
Harry jumped and emitted a quick yell of fright as either twin appeared beside him. [b "Don't do that!"]
His heart hammered in his chest as they spoke. His green eyes landed on the fake ear that Fred held in his hands, feeling somewhat impressed that it wasn't as grotesque as he had originally anticipated. Truth be told, he had pictured the 'extendable ear' as one of their own ears just turning in to putty-like form and pulling it away from their heads.
While the twins bickered playfully with Hermione, Harry looked back up as they addressed him once more. [b "I'm hurt that you'd even have to ask. Where can we hear best from?"] For the first time since arriving, the Boy-Who-Lived had a smile on his face.
Huddled on the landing together, Harry watched as one of the twins lowered the ear down a few floors, outside of the room where the meeting was being held. He bit his lip nervously, only slightly afraid of what they might hear. [b "You barely put up a fuss about this. Perhaps Ron and I have corrupted you more than we'd thought,"] he murmured to Hermione, who was standing next to him.
[b "Maybe the two of you have. But in something like this, I don't think wanting to know is such a bad thing. Besides, being here and knowing nothing can be quite a bother really."] Hermione whispered to Harry, a light pink in her cheeks as she spoke her words. It wasn't the best answer that she could give, but it was somewhat true as well.
The six teens stood huddled together on the landing as the twins slowly lowered the extendable ear. It seemed like the voices were hushed for a few moments, but then it seemed they got louder and louder to where the words spoken could actually be heard. As she listened, Hermione seemed to be holding in a breath, her eyebrows furrowing as they were speaking about the hearing that Harry would be forced to attend since he "broke the law".
[i "Why haven't I the right to go with him? He needs someone in his corner on this and I want to be able to give him moral support."] Sirius was saying and it seemed as if he was on the defensive side as he spoke.
"If you haven't forgotten, Sirius you are still a WANTED man and meant to be keeping as low a profile as you can. Besides, Arthur will be escorting him, and then Dumbledore with be taking it from there. Or have you forgotten?" Mrs. Weasley's voice was also seeming on the defensive as she spoke her words.
[b "Oh no...Seems they are about to get into another bout. They haven't been getting along very well since they've both been under the same roof."] The bushy haired girl whispered as she looked to the others, who nodded having pained looks as they two remembered the yelling matches and how it took quite awhile for the two adults to regain themselves.
Harry knew his godfather could have a strong opinion, but he also knew that Molly would not back down from an argument. After having seven children of her own, her motherly instincts were bound to kick in quickly. [b "This could get very ugly very quickly,"] he murmured back.
[i "Of course I haven't forgotten, Molly. How could I with you reminding me every hour that I'm a wanted man?"] Sirius' voice snapped.
[i "Well if you wouldn't be so reckless all the time, I wouldn't have to bring it up. What good will it do Harry if you are found? Have you thought about him?"] Molly grew louder.
[i "All I think about is Harry's well-being!"] A fist slammed on the table, and Harry could only assume it was Sirius.
More voices joined in, and the conversation became muffled. Harry leaned forward over the railing to try and discern who was who, but an orange blob began waddling its way across the floor below. [b "Hermione!"] Harry whispered, tapping her arm and pointing.
Crookshanks took an immediate interest in the ear, pawing at it curiously. [b "Crookshanks, don't!"] he hissed, tapping the rail to try and distract the cat.
[i "Leave it alone, you stupid brute!"] Ron growled.
[#2caaf6 "It always does. Mum and Sirius have been having yelling matches all summer long. The both of them can't seem to back down from an argument.. They are so much alike that it is kind of scary. Half the time the others have to drag them apart before they kill the other."] Ginny said, casting Harry a sideways glance as she explained what she and the others had been watching and hearing for a while now.
Hermione's eyes were on the door down below them and she cringed inwardly as she heard the words passed between Sirius and Molly. In their own right, the girl believed both had very good points, but she ALMOST agreed with Mrs.Weasley. It was when the loud thud was heard did she jump, letting out a soft yelp and look to the others, to see if them had had the same sort of reaction as she had.
But of course they hadn't. They all seemed almost fine. It was a couple seconds later was she nudged by Harry, who was making sounds to try and get Crookshanks' attention. As soon as she looked to her ginger cat, the girl gasped. [b "No, bad Crookshanks. Get away from the ear."] She also began to try and distract the cat, who by now looked up at them, but instead of listening bit onto the ear and pulled it off with him.
[b "He's a cat...he didn't mean any harm. He..he just wanted something to play with. I'm sorry."] Hermione said, biting on her lip as she looked to the others.
The others walked off, grumbling. [i "Stupid cat,"] the twins grumbled in unison.
Harry definitely felt disappointed, but not as much as the others. He felt confident that if he got Sirius alone, his godfather would not hesitate to give him some kind of information that was being withheld from him. The problem was, he hadn't had the chance to see Sirius at all, let alone speak with him privately.
Seeing that Hermione was growing upset, he placed a hand on her shoulder. [b "Don't mind them. It's fine. It's not like we won't get another chance."]
Glancing over the landing, they heard muffled voices yelling. [b "Besides, it doesn't sound like they're discussing much right now anyways. Who wants to hear them fight?"] he put a small smile on his face to show he wasn't angry, though he did feel mildly disappointed.
The twins and Ginny had disappeared somewhere in the house, leaving the trio alone. [b "I'm going to look around. You guys want to come?"] Harry looked between his friends.
The girl still felt REALLY bad that her cat had taken the ear off with him. But there honestly wasn't much she could do from where they all stood. And for a moment, the girl wondered if they didn't want Crookshanks near the thing, why didn't either Fred of George just apparate or something and get it away from him? But she was quick to shake that thought away as she knew the answer would be the annoying crack that would give them all away in an instant.
Her mind seemed to be running away slightly, so she didn't notice when Ginny, Fred, and George had left the three of them. What snapped her out of her thoughts was Harry's hand on her shoulder and soft words. A sad smile came to her lips and she nodded. [b "I know...but I still feel bad, and almost like everyone is mad at me. But looking at what you just said, I almost think I'm glad he took the ear... I mean none of us need to hear them fighting as we've heard A LOT of it as it is."] The girl said, looking to Ron, who still wore the look of total disgust and disappointment.
[i "Well it doesn't seem we've anything better to do since that stupid brute of hers took the ear... And you don't know much about this place.. So exploring and roaming the house would be good."] The red haired boy muttered, leaving Hermione to only nod as she knew if she said anything she and Ron would be getting into it as well, which at the moment was the last thing she wanted.
The manor was impressive, compared to the small constraining home of Privet Drive. Though it definitely was not being taken care of properly. Cobwebs decorated the ceiling, spiral in patterns too complex to comprehend. A thick layer of dust had grown over each piece of furniture along the hallways. Some of the doors Harry tried to pry open were locked, with rust built up over the knobs.
[b "Whoever owns this place doesn't seem to have much care for it,"] he theorized out loud to his companions.
Harry missed the look that Ron threw to Hermione. He was too busy looking at the empty frames that once held portraits, with bits of canvas still clinging to the edges. It was hard to see without much light, but they weren't able to use their wands outside of school yet.
The first door that finally opened for them opened to reveal a large library, fully stocked with thick volumes on the shelves. There are a few books stacked on the round center table, with one still open. [b "I assume Hermione found this room rather quickly,"] he questioned, raising a playful eyebrow.
[i "Bloody girl spent the first three days in here. We had to pry her away,"] Ron crossed his arms over his chest, leaning against the door frame.
The girl and boy weren't as interested in the house as Harry was because they had been there for the past few weeks. But when they came to an area with house elf heads, Hermione cringed and quickly looked away, keeping her eyes on the floor until they got past that particular area. As soon as they did, she looked up and offered Ron a weak smile as the boy gave her a look as if asking if she were okay. He knew how she felt about that particular place in the house, and she was glad Harry had no idea of her actions.
The two stayed silent as they followed Harry through the house as he seemed intrigued with the house. There were many rooms that wouldn't open and so much dust that they could have made a second house with it all. It was when Harry mentioned the owner of the house not taking care of it did Hermione and Ron share quick glances. Ron looked like he wanted to say something, but the bush haired girl gave a sharp shake of her head. It was NOT there place to tell Harry about the house or the owner. They didn't want to make him feel bad over indirectly insulting his godfather.
When a door did open FINALLY, Hermione's cheeks lit up. For the room that had opened was the library where she had spent the first three days. [b "It wasn't my fault! There were just so many books and they all seemed so interesting. Besides, how do you think I KNOW for fact that you didn't do anything wrong?"] The girl said almost huffily as her hands went to her hips and her eyes went between both Harry and Ron.
The reminder of the trial halted his hand on the table. With a groan, he dropped himself in to a seat. [b "I don't think they're going to be too concerned about technicalities that might get me out of this. The letter seemed pretty clear. They don't want me at Hogwarts anymore. All they have to do is make the expulsion official."]
A knot formed in Harry's stomach at the mere idea that he wouldn't be allowed to return to the only place he's ever considered his home. How would he even begin to function without Hogwarts? [b "If anyone could have found me a loophole, I trust that it would be you, Hermione, but I don't think it's going to make much of a difference. Fudge isn't exactly my number one fan, and the Ministry is still on the fence about whether they want to believe what happened last year."]
He appreciated the effort that his friend had gone through to try and help him, but it didn't seem like anything would be able to save his place at Hogwarts. [b "Ron's dad is going with me, so at least someone there will be on my side, right?"] Harry attempted a weak smile to try and lighten the mood.
[i "Of course they won't be. You haven't seen half the stuff that's been printed about you and Dumbledore. And it just looks like they want to get you out of school. Dad told us what sort of letter was given, and it's not at all pretty."] Ron muttered, being blunt and actually letting Harry know a little more and trying not to keep him as in the dark as he had been. But of course not having the letter himself, Ron didn't take into account how nervous or much worse his words could make his friend feel.
The girl on the other hand groaned as Ron spoke out right. She had been trying to avoid it as she didn't want to make Harry feel worse about everything. But of course, Ron had ruined that and she sighed. [b "Sadly...Ron's right.. It seems that Fudge is more 'mad' than he's ever been. And as long as he can help it, the truth of the last year will be kept secret and played off as one of your 'well rehearsed stories'."] The girl quoted as she would not look to either boy.
[b "And yes..Ron's dad is meant to take you, but he won't really be there. You see he's got work...and well is only going to escort you there. Dumbledore will be the one who will be in your corner on this. So really, he'll be able to get you out of this. He always knows what to do."] And with that, a small smile did come to her lips and both Ron and Hermione nodded.
Of course she knew it wouldn't help much, but she had been trying to give him a little more confidence. Well anything that could make him feel a little bit better.
Before anything else could be said, Mrs.Weasley called up the stairs, letting them know that the meeting was over and that dinner was nearly done and to get down to the dining hall.
Harry guessed that it would be a plus to have Dumbledore, if anyone, on his side. He knew that the wise wizard believed him about Voldemort, and would do what he could to help him. [b "I guess it isn't all bad news, then. I hadn't heard that he would join me."]
They were interrupted by Ron's mother, and they knew better than to make her wait. The scent of the food greeted them the second they came within view of the dining hall. [b "I've missed homecooked meals,"] Harry spoke, his mouth watering.
[i "It's a good thing there is plenty for everyone,"] a new voice joined from behind him.
Turning, Harry came face to face with his smiling godfather. [b "Sirius!"]
Not caring that they were being watched, Harry threw his arms around Sirius, who graciously returned the hug. [b "What are you doing here?"]
[i "What do you mean 'what am I doing here'? Welcome to my humble abode,"] Sirius released him, gesturing to the house around them.
Harry glanced at his friends, before turning back to the man in front of him. [b "But I thought this was-"]
[i "Headquarters for the Order of the Phoenix? It is, indeed. But, it is also known as Grimmauld Place, which is also known as the home of one Sirius Black. But, we can discuss that later. For now, we need to get some food in to that skinny body of yours,"] Sirius guided him through the door in to the dining room.
[b "We thought that they would have told you that. I mean it would have made you feel almost better instantly to know you would have someone on your side... Though..."] But before the girl could say much more, Molly Weasley called up to them, interrupting them.
Hermione wanted to tell Harry a little more about the house and some of what they had gotten Tonks to tell them, but she knew how the woman could be and so trailed after her two best friends. As soon as Harry said how he missed home cooked meals, a voice came from behind them, and it did make her jump as she would have thought that Srius would have still been in the kitchen. But she had learned when in the old house of Black to expect the unexpected.
So the girl pulled Ron to the side with her and the pair watched the exchange between Harry and Sirius. Watching them, almost gave her a sad feeling because it made her think back to their third year when he had almost been free. Back to where things could have been different, better for her best friend. But she had to quickly shake it off as the exchange between the other two had come to an end and they were motioned to follow into the dining room as well.
"Now Sirius, I expect you won't be saying anything will you? They are all too young and this is meant to be left to us." Molly was saying as she sent Hermione to help Ginny set the table and motioned Ron to sit and be out of the way as she was putting a pot of stew in the middle of the table.
[i "Wouldn't dream of it, Molly"] Sirius muttered with a roll of his eyes and then gave a wink to Harry. The man had no intentions of 'behaving'.
Harry had to bite his lip to suppress a smirk that was begging to appear on his face. He knew well enough that Sirius would not cower to anyone, let alone Molly Weasley. All Harry had to do was wait a few hours, and then he could get Sirius alone to start asking questions. At the moment, however, he was only focused on the mounds of food appearing along the table.
Before long, a miniature mountain of potatoes was protruding from Harry's bowl of stew, and a plate sat waiting for him, piled with an assortment of goods from the rest of the dishes. He had begun scarfing it down quickly, but a raised eyebrow from Lupin made him cough, and slow his pace. [b "It's delicious,"] he offered a compliment to Molly.
[i "Eat more, please! You're far too thin for your age. By fifteen, Bill was already towering over the family. We'll get you there, too,"] she stepped up behind him, dropping some more slices of roast beef on to the plate.
[i "He can't get too big, Mum, he's the seeker! He needs speed,"] Ron interjected.
[b "I don't know. A little weight sounds nice. I'm sure my bones poked poor Hermione when we hugged earlier,"] Harry grinned lightly.
It didn't take long for everything to be set out on the table and for those who stayed for dinner or even stayed in the old house to take their places at the table. Hermione was whispering something to Tonks, who sighed shaking her head and then began to change her face to make both her and Ginny laugh.
The girl was hardly paying attention to the details around the kitchen and was actually eating quickly herself. She wanted to get back up to the library and read a little more and she was also anxious as she could feel the tension between Sirius and Mrs. Weasley again. It was horrifying to see the tempers flare between the two and always sent everyone 'running for the hills'.
Hermione was getting so lost in her head that it took Ron's words about Harry being Seeker to pull her back to 'reality' and she nudged the redhead in the ribs. [b "Ronald, that's not THAT important... You know how he is treated and so let him enjoy it."] She almost said haughtily, earning snickers from Fred and George and a look from Ron which had her cheeks burn a bright red and she snapped her mouth shut, falling into silence as she ate.
Harry caught Hermione's eye across the table and mouthed 'thank you' with a grateful expression. He knew Ron meant well, but their red-headed friend could be rather thoughtless with his comments on occasion. It had caused many fights between himself and Hermione. But for the current conversation, it seemed that he was willing to drop it, and go back to eating.
Everything was so delicious that Harry went back for seconds, and then thirds. He couldn't remember the last time he had gotten to eat an actual meal, and not just the leftovers after the Dursleys had finished stuffing their faces.
The conversation during dinner was lax, with the most noise coming from the scraping of knives and forks on the plates. Whenever Harry made eye contact with someone from the Order, they would polite smile, and then immediately look down to their plate. It was beginning to drive him crazy.
[i "So Harry, would you care to give us your side of the story, about what happened with those Dementors?"] Sirius was the one to break the silence.
Swallowing his mouthful, Harry frowned. [b "They came out of nowhere, really. My cousin was giving me a hard time when I was at the park, and they just sort of appeared. We tried to get away, but they chased us until they got us cornered. I had no choice but to use my Patronus,"] he looked to the adults, hoping that he wasn't about to get a lecture.
Brown eyes met green eyes and a small smile came to her lips at his mouthed words as she mouthed back a 'you're welcome.' Of course she knew that their redheaded friend had meant no harm, but he did have a way of giving little to no thought before he said or did something and quite often it landed the pair in the most ridiculous of arguments. Quickly brown eyes went to Ron who gave a look, but decided to let it drop, which she was grateful for. The girl REALLY didn't want another of their petty fights, especially not that night since so much had already happened.
And just as what had been before, she went back to eating. This time she was more slow and actually trying to taste the food as she realized that the library would still be there after and she wanted to make sure that Ron didn't say or do anything else stupid through the rest of the meal. But that wasn't the only thing, it was a 'law' of Molly Weasley's that no one leave the table until everyone was done and the mess was cleaned. And usually she was one of the ones chosen to help in that aspect.
Silence or little chatter here and there came from around the table. Most of it having to do with trying to clean the old Black House or some from of work that one of the adults sitting about had. But mostly there was the clattering of silverware hitting plates or scraping from knives. So not really at all what one could call a calm and happy 'family'
Slowly, Hermione's eyes came up to look at Harry and she could see the look of annoyance starting to once more appear upon the boy's face. But before the girl could ask what was on his mind, Sirius cut in and asked what had happended with the dementors.
[b "But that doesn't make any sense...they are supposed to be at Azkaban... Unless..."] But at some looks she was getting, Hermione quickly looked down and blushed, keeping quiet. If she could, the girl would tell both Ron and Harry what she had been thinking.
"No need to look like a child being scolded, Harry. You did the right thing. Only wish I could have been out there too having a bit of fun. Sounds much more exciting than being 'prisoner' to your old childhood home." Sirius said, sounding both impressed with his godson and glum for his lack of adventure.
Harry looked to Hermione, nodding silently to her comment. There was no explanation for why the Dementors had been roaming away from the wizard prison. It made the boy nervous. It was unlikely that the Ministry would admit any fault for their creatures abandoning post.
He was grateful for Sirius' praise, but it was short lived once Molly glared at his godfather. [i "You suppose Harry was having fun, fighting for his life, do you? I swear, Sirius, I think you have never grown up. This is a frightening situation!"]
By the look of the Weasley children, Harry assumed that another bout was on the cusp of starting. [i "I'm not trying to lessen the seriousness of the matter. I'm merely saying I'm impressed with the way he handled it."] Sirius took a sip of wine, not phased by her.
[b "You've been locked up this whole time?"] Harry interjected to try and aim the topic away from himself.
[i "The whole 'wanted' status has yet to be lifted. So, the dear Order has made sure that I don't step outside of these walls,"] Sirius answered.
[i "It's for your own good. And Harry's. Remember that you're doing this for him,"] Lupin tried to mediate.
[i "That's the only reason I've listened to the Order."]
A frustrated sigh came from the other end of the table, but Harry wasn't sure who it came from. How had they all been here without killing each other? It didn't seem like anyone was getting along.
[b "Will we have to stay cooped us, as well?"] Harry looked for an answer from anyone who would give it.
It wasn't like the ministry would take any form of responsibility for their creatures leaving post, and she knew it too. But something about it seemed off, far too off. It almost seemed like an order of sorts. Almost like someone didn't want for Harry to be returning to school. But how was she going to voice what she was thinking without any proof and without being thought 'mental'? In all honesty, this very much looked like a time where keeping her thoughts to herself would be a good idea. Or would be until she could get her two friends alone.
Brown eyes snapped up from her plate as soon as she heard the words snapped out by Mrs. Weasley and a shiver ran through her. The girl had been at headquarters long enough to know another bout was on the way and bit her lip, praying it would be interjected quickly. And as soon as Harry's words were spoken before Lupin's had been, the breath she had been holding slowly slipped from her lips. It wasn't much help, but it was calling them off the matter that had happened and the fight that had been coming.
[b "We've all been cooped up here for the most part. They think it better for us not to wander so we don't get into trouble...look for it or it find us. And this way we're safe.. or it's what the rest of us have been told. But it isn't all that bad..."] Hermione said, trying to answer Harry's question.
"Oh yeah, not that bad?! Have you lost it, Hermione? We've been trying to clean this place for weeks, and still haven't got much done." Ron said with a roll of his eyes at the way the girl had tried to make the house seem better than it was. It wad quite clear that the redhead was starting to get tired of being 'cooped up' as Harry had put it.
It was his words that struck a nerve with her. She had been trying not to fight with Ron, but he was being a bit of a prat. [b "Thank you for dinner Mrs. Weasley... I'll take the plates of those who are done and then I think I am going up to the library to do a bit of 'light' reading."] The girl said quietly, pushing her chair back and gathering plates before depositing them to the sink and leaving the kitchen.
"What's with her? All I said was we're stuck and it hasn't been fun." Ron said with a shrug, seemingly not seeing the big deal at all.
Harry could tell that Hermione was upset. He wondered how many times she and Ron had fought over the summer. [b "I'm going to go join Hermione. Thank you for dinner,"] Harry rose from his seat, excusing himself.
[i "Oh."] Was Ron's response, as the redhead looked at the plates of dessert that were being placed on the table, clearly torn between joining his friends, and stuffing his face.
[b "It's fine, Ron. You stay and eat. I'll find you later, and we'll play chess,"] Harry dismissed him.
This seemed to pacify the other boy, whose features got more bright, immediately. As he left the room, Harry couldn't help but notice that the conversation seemed to become easier for those he left behind, and it stung a little bit. He didn't want everyone to tiptoe around him for the rest of the summer.
He retraced his footsteps to find his way back to the library. Rapping his knuckles on the door, he peeked in and found her curled in a chair with a book in her lap. [b "I wanted to make sure you were okay. I know Ron can get under your skin,"] his voice broke the calm silence of the room.
Stepping inside, Harry moved to a chair beside her, making himself comfortable and looking to her with a soft smile. There was something calming about being around Hermione in her little haven.
The girl didn't mean to let Ronald once more get under her skin, but the boy just had a way of doing so. He never thought his words through, nor had he seemed to realize that she WAS a girl and sometimes wasn't as emotionally strong as he and some the others could be. And to top it off, it just seemed like he enjoyed making her irritable just to see how long she lasted. It almost seemed like a game, one she was getting so tired of playing and didn't know how much longer she could take it.
As all of that was spinning around in the girl's head, a few tears began to slip down her cheeks. She had been trying so hard not to let them, but this time the boy had gone too far. He had been doing this all summer and didn't seem to care. And what was worse was she just let it go and hod how she felt, or would just hide herself up in the library like she had chosen now. It was the only way she knew and the only comfort since she wasn't really incredibly close with anyone in the house, well aside from perhaps Tonks and Ginny but she didn't want to seek them out constantly.
[b "Um, hi Harry... I'm fine really, just wanted to do some 'light' reading.. Thank you for coming to check on me though..."] Hermione whispered, almost fighting the lump in her throat from her emotions starting to get to her as she slowly reached up and wiped a stray tear off her cheek.
Slowly, the girl marked the page she had been reading and closed the book. Her head titled a little and she gave a small smile. [b "It really is nice to have you here.. I mean.."] But for some reason she found herself tongue tied and once more got comfortable, just his presence almost being soothing.
[b "Are you okay?"] She couldn't help asking as she remembered dinner and how things had seemed. And the look he had been giving off and on. She did want to help if she could, and she was trying to distract herself from her emotions.
Harry gave her a sad smile. He could tell that she was more upset than she was willing to let on. He'd gotten to know Hermione well enough in their five years of friendship to see that she was doing her best to hold in her emotions. Ever the stubborn one. But he wouldn't push it. He'd respect her wishes.
He let out a soft breath, leaning his head back against the chair. [b "I'm happy to be here. I know I acted like a complete jerk earlier, and I'm sorry. I really am happy to see everyone again. I don't like being away from you and the others. You're my family."]
Harry grew quiet for a few moments, recalling the events of that summer. He'd gone to bed every night wishing that he'd be able to escape to the Burrow again. Grimmauld Place wasn't ideal, but at least he was with them. He shuddered at the thought of spending any longer with the Dursleys.
Her question drew him back to the conversation, and he offered her a tired smile. [b "I'm just nervous. And a bit angry, to be honest. Everyone is tiptoeing around me, as if they're afraid to let something slip. I don't want them to be secretive about all of this. We're not children. We need to know what is out there, so we can protect ourselves."]
His green eyes looked to her. [b "Do you think I'm being stupid?"]
It seemed as usual the boy could see past the facade that she was trying to put up and she was almost worried that he would ask. But when no questions came, the breath she hadn't realized she had been holding in slipped from her lips. And once more a small yet forced smile came to her lips as she stayed silent and let the boy speak.
[b "You were the first person who tried to get to know me past the 'clever know it all' that everyone thought me to be...and I will never forget that...since then I have thought of you like family...the others too once getting to know them..And I know that we are just as happy to see you as you are us."] The girl found herself saying without taking much time to think it through.
For the first time she wasn't quite being as careful and thoughtful as everyone thought her to be. A hand slowly came up and pushed bushy brown hair back as she bit softly on her lip, thinking over his answer to her question that she had asked of him. [b "No...they have been tiptoeing around all of us, really. The Order think we are just children and shouldn't worry about all of this...want us to have as 'normal' a life as we can... But I don't think you are at all wrong. They need to know that Voldemort seems to always come back and after you...if they don't tell us...they should at least you so that you can defend yourself."] Hermione said softly, being totally honest in what she thought.
Harry smiled. [b "As long as you don't think I'm crazy. I don't think I could take it if you didn't believe me. Even Ron has had his doubts about me."]
He was reminded of the previous year, when his other best friend had all but abandoned him during the beginning of the Tri-Wizard Tournament. It had been a harsh blow to Harry to think that Ron had not believed him. The two had been inseparable since they'd met, and to no longer have the redhead's friendship for that time made Harry almost depressed. But Hermione had been a constant in his life. She'd never given up on him yet, but he still feared that one day, something might change that.
[b "How are you, Hermione? Truly."] He added the last bit when he knew that she would hold back the honest truth, even if it was to spare him worry.
He never liked when she was upset, and he'd had many bickering matches with Ron, when he'd made her cry or angry. He just wanted to make sure that if there was a way he could make her happy, or smile, he would do it.
The faintest of smiles came to the girl's lips and she shook her head slowly. [b "I could never find you to be crazy Harry... Brave and a little stupid sometimes...but never crazy. And I know all too well that Ronald was stupid last year and has had his doubts about you.. But there is no reason to. I mean you were right in our first year when you thought Voldemort was trying to steal the stone, right in second when you said that you were not the heir and that you feared bad things were coming, right with third year...Needless to say, every time you have had a feeling of something you have been right. You know I'll always be there for you and help."] Those were the only words she could say as she wanted him to know that she was NOT like Ron in the slightest. She wanted for Harry to know that she would never turn away and would help him if she could. He was her one true friend. Even truer than Ron.
Her mind was wandering a bit through the years. Ron had been the reason that she had become friends with the pair in the first place, but even in that being so, there was just something about Harry. He never tried to pick fights with her and had always been there when she needed him. Like the brother she had always wanted. But as of late, the girl did find herself as possibly wanting more. Of course he could never and she knew it, and so she would have to be content with their friendship and how things were.
As soon as she heard the boy's soft voice, brown eyes came up from her lap where she had taken to staring and she bit lightly on the corner of her lip. Had he not asked her for the truth, the girl would not have felt guilty in lying to him. She would not have felt guilty about trying to be strong. After all, her best friend did have so much to deal with and didn't need her silly problems added to what he had.
[b "Honestly...tired...Ron and I have been at it all summer.. And I...just tonight I took it more personally than I should have. I know he doesn't mean it.. But Harry, don't worry about me. You've your own worries."] The girl said, offering a weak smile.
Harry shook his head. [b "You're always at the top of my worry list when you're upset. Kind of hard to focus on anything else. Maybe I should go downstairs and give Ron a good swat upside the head. He seems like he needs it."]
He knew all too well about the pain that their other friend could be. But he was always worse when it came to Hermione. Harry figured that Ron was just easily irritated when Hermione proved him wrong, or pointed out his mistakes. She never meant any harm. All she wanted to do was keep him informed so he wasn't quite as ignorant.
[b "What do you say we have a night for just the two of us? We can catch up without Ron giving us attitude. Once everyone goes to bed, we can sneak back here and just have a quiet evening. I think I'm far too wired to even think about falling asleep. What do you say?"] he asked, looking hopeful.
He'd always had fun with Hermione when she let herself relax. She was always so wound at school with her heavy workloads, that they rarely got to spend time together, just the two of them. He and Ron were always together, but he didn't get that same luxury with Hermione. As much as he loved when the three of them were able to sit around and talk, it almost always ended with an argument, and two of them going to bed angry, while Harry sat awkwardly by.
[b "I'll use the cloak and sneak down to the kitchen for snacks and some pumpkin juice. It'll be fun, I promise,"] he gave her his best puppy dog eyes.
A sad smile traced her lips and the girl shook her head slowly. [b "I don't mean to get you so distracted, Harry..most the time I try and hide it, but I guess I do rather poorly...Especially where Ron is concerned.. and he does need the slap, but you know him and how he never learns."] The girl couldn't help a weak laugh at her last words as she knew that the boy sitting across from her knew the redhead just as well if not better than she did.
But when she sat and thought about it, Ron really was more of a pain to her. He was always shooting her down or shooting snide comments her way all because she was trying to correct him and help him learn something. Of course she was more than aware of the saying 'ignorance is bliss', but when it came to Ronald Weasley, he was straight out arrogant and it really made her skin crawl. At least with Harry he made the effort to try and learn or actually ask when he didn't know something. He was also more kind in the way he asked her not to say anything, and for that reason the girl (as hard as it could be for her) was able to 'bite her tongue' and keep quiet.
[b "Actually...a night just the two of us catching up once everyone is asleep sounds really nice. As much as I have liked being around the others...there has been constant stress and tension around...And of course I have missed you and would love the chance to talk without...."] But she quickly snapped her mouth shut and let her words trail off.
How could she have said the words that she had? It wasn't that she didn't like having Ron as a friend, but she just liked Harry more. The two of them got on well and he never made it a point go try and get under her skin. Also she thought this would be good for them as she knew once at school she wouldn't get much one on one time to spend with him because of both Ron and her school work.
[b "Yes, Harry, it sounds brilliant. I will definitely meet you back here later tonight and we can have the just us night."] The girl said with a soft laugh at his puupyish look though she had tried not to.
Harry smiled widely, like a child on Christmas. [b "Brilliant! I'm sure there'll be plenty of leftovers for us to steal. So long as Ron doesn't eat them all before the night is over."]
After a while, he bid her farewell, after informing her that the rule for the night was that she was to wear pajamas, as he would. While he decided to be the respectful guest and visit with the others, he couldn't help but glance at the clock every few moments, awaiting the appropriate time to say goodnight, to excuse him from further participation. Since he would be rooming with Ron, the redhead had followed him to bed.
Harry stayed quiet for almost two hours, listening to the snores pour from his friend. It hadn't taken long for Ron to fall asleep, but Harry was waiting for the sounds of the rest of the house to quiet down before getting up. His invisibility cloak was already waiting for him when he rises from the bed, draped over a desk chair. Slipping it over his oversized t-shirt and flannel pajama pants, he ducks out of the room, and tries to navigate his way back to the kitchen.
It took him several tries before he found the right hallway, since the house looked even more grim in the darkness of the night. He carefully wrapped some scones and cookies in a hand towel, and grabbed the pitcher of pumpkin juice. It wasn't quite midnight yet, so he was the firs to arrive to the library.
Harry placed the treats and drinks on the table in front of the only couch in the room, which faced the large window overlooking a field across from the house. He lit a few lanterns, but other than that kept the room dim, so as not to raise suspicion or curiosity from anyone in the house who might get out of bed.
The girl smiled at seeing the boy seeming so happy. If she were to be honest, it was the happiest that she had seen him all evening and she wished that she could see him as such at all times. But she knew better and knew that it was just a 'pretty thought' because life for all of them, most of all him would never be a 'walk in the park.'
[b "Mrs.Weasley would kill him before he could. She knows how everyone enjoys her cooking and goes to great lengths to make sure that it lasts a few days at a time. But somehow, I could see Ron if given the chance, eating it all."] Hermione couldn't help but muse with a soft giggle at the thought of Ron leaving them nothing.
For a little while, the boy and girl spoke and then Harry was bidding her a 'farewell' and letting her know the rule for the night, which she thought cute. And though 'sleepovers' were not her thing, the girl did agree and would even indulge in the whole they had to wear pajama rule. After she watched him go, Hermione read for a little longer and then headed up to the room that she and Ginny shared.
Upon getting to the room, the brunette found the redhead sitting on one of the beds and motioning her over. [#2caaf6 "Why don't we have a little girl talk before bed? I am so bored and the others keep telling me that I've no business in their 'boy talk.'"] The younger girl said with a pout, eyes begging Hermione to indulge her wishes.
She found herself inwardly groaning as it was not her thing. But she did feel bad for the other girl as it seemed she was lonely, and she herself knew all too well what it was to listen to talk and to be excluded. So 'unwillingly' the girl sat and talked about boys, and anything else Ginny chose to bring up.
When it was time 'for bed' the girl was more than thankful. The hours of talking, but mostly listening had been painful. So when the light was out, brown eyes stared up into the darkness, waiting to hear the soft breaths of Ginny to let her know the other was asleep. As soon as she heard them, the girl silently slipped out of bed and tiptoed her way through the now silent, dimly lit house until she came upon the library and peeked in to find that Harry was there, waiting.
Quickly, she slipped in and closed the door behind her and walked over, taking a seat. [b "I'm sorry if I kept you waiting..Ginny wanted to talk and so I decided to humour her...I also had to wait for her to fall asleep."] The girl said, seeming a little nervous as she spoke, fearing that he might be a tad mad for having been made to wait.
Harry looked over his shoulder at her as her voice fills the room. [b "No worries at all. I've only been here for a few minutes. As heavy as Ron sleeps, it takes him forever to actually pass out. It's unbelievable."]
Patting the spot next to him on the sofa, he waited for her to join him. [b "I present to you, our feast for the night."]
The assortment of goodies had been categorized in to little groups, and the drinks were already poured. [b "A feast fit for kings, don't you think?"] he teased, lifting a chocolate pastry to his mouth.
He was already feeling relaxed. He knew they didn't even have to have conversation to enjoy their time together. Hermione was just as happy to sit in silence as he was, but if they wanted to talk, the topics were endless. It helped that they both came from Muggle backgrounds. [b "So. I want to hear about Hermione Granger's summer. Before you were locked away in this dungeon with the rest of the prisoners."]
He stretched his legs out in front of him, with his toes reaching under the table. The pillows on the couch made it a much comfier spot to sit than the one he had the unpleasant experience with downstairs.
His green eyes peered at her with a goofy smile on his face, sincerely interested in her story.
The girl couldn't help but to let out the breath that she had not even realized that she had been holding. Deep down, she knew that Harry wouldn't have been angry with her if she had made him wait; knew that he was much more patient than their redheaded friend but she couldn't help the feeling of guilt. And when the boy mentioned the other boy whom they has left out, a soft laugh came from her lips and she nodded. Many a night had she roamed the halls of the silent Grimauld Place when she couldn't sleep and heard those thunderous snores. It was always a wonder to her how for lack of better wording 'the dead was not woken' by Ron and his snoring. It was truly horrid.
[b "He's much like a bear...very loud and it's a wonder anyone can sleep. But I never did notice how long it took for him to actually fall asleep as I have only ever heard him, of you know what I mean."] The girl said, her cheeks almost instantly going pink as she realized what she had said and just how rude it had sounded. [b "I'm sorry, Harry I shouldn't have said that....it really was rude."] Hermione said as she finally made her way over to where Harry was sitting and had even pat the seat beside him.
Slowly she took the seat at the boy's side and her eyes went to the treats he had knicked from the kitchen and she couldn't help a soft laugh at his joking words. [b "It looks to die for."] The girl teased back as she too picked up one of the pastries and began to nibble on it, just enjoying the silence between them. And as they sat, the girl allowed herself to enjoy it and remind her that the times like these with her friend were ones she had so very dearly missed. There was just something so relaxing about being with Harry. The fact that he was just as content to silence as she was was a huge plus as it mean she didn't have to strain to find something for them to talk about. And the fact that they both came from muggle backgrounds was nice as she could talk to him about 'normal' life and he would understand without her having to explain and have someone (namely Ron) angry because she supposedly sounded snide.
[b "Actually it was quite nice getting to see mum and dad again, though it wasn't long. It was nice talking to my dad about his work and helping my mum out in the garden and just doing all the things I used to with them before I started at Hogwarts...I had forgotten what life outside of this world was like and how I missed it...the simple joys and the not having to be afraid...to just be 'normal.'"] The girl said, having picked up one of the glasses and staring into it as she spoke.
As soon as she realized what she had said, the girl mentally kicked herself. What she had told Harry was something she had never confided in to anyone, not even her own parents. What had made her say what she had? [b "I'm sorry, all of that must sound silly and like I am complaining.....Aside from what we so know...how has your summer been?"] It was more than clear that she was embarrassed and trying to change topics.
Harry listened with nothing but interest. A soft smile rested on his lips. He didn't mind her rambling. He often found in amusing how she could just talk about something she enjoyed, while barely pausing to take a breath. He shifted on the couch slightly, so he could see her better. Her summer sounded like everything he wished his would have been.
When she cut herself off, looking embarrassed, Harry brushed off her apology. [b "You don't have anything to apologize for. I understand what you're talking about. Sometimes it's nice to not have to worry about dark magic, or annoying blonds with a horrible ego,"] he joked, almost wincing at his own mention of a certain Malfoy.
The topic changed to his summer, and he gave a light shrug, trying to make light of it. [b "Oh, the usual. Chores, threatening the Dursleys with magic if they didn't let me out for my daily walks. And the Dementors. Just a regular teenage summer, if you ask me,"] he took another bite of cookie.
It wasn't the first time Harry had poked fun at his own misfortune, but he found it was easier to joke about the minor things, like his obnoxious family, than to let it bother him. He had more important things to worry about.
[b "I have to say though, I have missed the deliciousness of Mrs Weasley's cooking. And magical candy tastes so much better than regular chocolate,"] he gestured to the mound of Bertie Botts and Chocolate Frogs he had lifted from Ron's stash.
The girl was amazed at how he didn't seem to think what she had said boring. All the others when they had asked about her summer before being stuck at the "Ancient House of Black" got bored or asked her over and over again to explain certain things to them (particularly Mr.Weasely because of his fascination with muggle life). And she couldn't help as if feeling like she didn't really belong. But with Harry, that feeling wasn't there. She knew that he knew what it was like and would understand. It was one of the many reasons she loved the fact that he was her friend. He would listen and let her speak, even if he did find what she said a bit boring.
[b "Sometimes it is nice to have normal summers without all this magic... But being away from this world and back home... Sometimes it feels like you don't belong in your normal life anymore. At least sometimes it does with my mum and dad.. They try and understand, but they can't relate, not really..."] The girl almost said sadly and then found herself cringing when a certain blonde had been mentioned.
As soon as she turned the conversation to his summer, Hermione almost wished that she hadn't. It wasn't that she didn't like hearing about how things were for him, it was just she figured he had been through enough. So when he spoke, the girl gave a weak smile and nodded. Though she couldn't imagine just what he was going through, the girl couldn't help but feeling sorry for him. Harry did have it worst of all among all of them and they all knew it too.
[b "Yeah, she does make amazing foods. And given the way your aunt and uncle are, I can see why you are happy to be back with the group and the candies and food."] The girl said, smiling a bit more, a real smile now as she picked up a chocolate frog herself and opened it, nibbling on it.
Harry gestured to the food. [b "Muggle chocolate just can't compete with this. Besides, good luck to anyone who tries to wrestle a candy bar away from Dudley. He'd probably bite their fingers. He says he's training for boxing matches, but I know he has a stash of candy hidden in the garden shed."]
He dusted off his hands of crumbs before reaching for his pumpkin juice. [b "I just wish I lived closer to your family. At least we could have enjoyed a muggle summer together. Maybe gone to the cinema and made fun of the cheesy acting. I don't think it's something that Ron would be interested in. I mean, they have moving and talking portraits in the magic world. He wouldn't appreciate it."]
It didn't help that Ron didn't care about muggle things. He found them too boring. He'd always question why it was so interesting to Harry and Hermione when they had talked about things from their lives prior to Hogwarts. [i What's so great about swing sets and playgrounds when you can fly on broomsticks?] The two had stopped trying to make their lives sound fun to Ron.
[b "I say that we have one night a week, just for us one school starts. I'm sure we can sneak down to the kitchens. The cloak would come in handy for that. As much as I love our Gryffindor house, they can be unbelievably loud and nosy,"] Harry joked, sitting back so their arms were against each other.
The girl couldn't help a laugh at the way her best friend described his cousin. It was terrible and she knew that she shouldn't, but it was just one of those things. Besides, she was more or less picturing a pig doing these things rather than a boy. Again, bad on her part, but Harry had described him in such a light as to where she, though never meeting the boy had no taste for him whatsoever and so didn't really feel bad when her mind wandered as it did at that moment.
[b "With how nosy and into everything as your aunt is...I am kind of surprised she hasn't found his stash...or is she ones of those where everything, no matter what he child does he's perfect?"] It was rude, but she couldn't help the question from slipping her lips as almost everything about Harry's family mystified her and though she had muggle parents, his relatives were the worst she had heard of or could picture.
Slowly, the bushy haired girl set down her chocolate frog and picked up her drink, taking a sip, before listening to Harry's next words. And as she heard them, a soft pink rose in her cheeks. Honestly she had quite thought of that herself and had always wondered if the boy had himself. [b "Living closer really would be nice...and having someone my own age to do things like that with would be too...though you're right that Ron would never get it...but that's his loss."] She couldn't help her last words from slipping from her lips.
Though he was their friend, Ron irritated her to no ends. Just because their worlds were so different didn't mean that he couldn't try to at least show a little care. But alas, she knew that was too much to ask for and so like Harry had long given up in trying to make anything nonmagical sound of interest to the Weasley boy.
[b "Actually, that's a good idea. It would give us a chance to just relax and be ourselves.. and admittedly, they are a bit nosy and loud...I honestly like times like this.."] And as his arm brushed hers, Hermione turned to where her eyes met his and she gave a small smile, once more her cheeks alight with blush.
Harry snorted. [b "Dudley could set fire to the entire block of Privet Drive, and Aunt Petunia would find a way to believe that it was everyone else's fault. The boy has been able to get away with everything our entire lives. He once tossed my shoes over the fence for the neighbour's dog to chew on, and his mother told me it was my fault for leaving them out. The entire family is mental."]
He'd long since come to terms with the fact that he wouldn't have a loving relationship with his remaining family. It was much easier to let things go and laugh off their ridiculousness than to let it bother him for the two months he was with them every summer.
Throwing an arm around her shoulder playfully, Harry gave her a hug. [b "We Muggle raised wizards have to stick together. Otherwise things like going to the cinema and carnivals will go unappreciated. I'd love nothing more than to spend a day at a carnival stuffing my face with cotton candy and going on cheap rides. I've never actually been to one before."]
He glanced at her with a crooked grin. [b "After all of this is over, we're going to a carnival. I demand it."]
The door creaked and for a moment, Harry stilled, wondering if someone had woken up. His fears were put to rest when the faint meow of Crookshanks came through the wood. Rolling his eyes, the boy got up and opened the door, letting the fat orange cat waddle in to find his owner. [b "I believe I may have made someone jealous. My apologies, Crookshanks. We can share her."]
From what she heard of Harry's family, the girl did not at all like them. And his next words made her detest them all the more. She could understand protecting a five year old in that matter, but a boy his cousin's age was more than mental. It was ludicrous and she really wanted to say something, but she couldn't bring herself to. In her opinion, her friend suffered much more than he should have at the hands of his remaining family and she didn't want to remind him of it.
[b "Well if we didn't who would enjoy the simple nonmagical pleasures in life? And you've honestly never been? Maybe..."] But her words trailed off at his crooked smile and his demand, a soft giggle that nearly no one ever heard escaped her. It was nice talking with Harry like this and simply being free.
[b "How about this...when all this is 'said and done' we do the carnival or anything else you want? Cinema..you name it and we'll make a week or some short time just to have normal, muggle fun. Sound like a plan?"] The girl asked, brown eyes locking on the boy before a creaking was heard outside the room and she froze, hoping they wouldn't be caught or told off for being up so late.
But as soon as she heard the yowl of a meow from beyond the door, the girl let out the she had been holding and rolled her eyes. It was only her cat, which she considered her baby and so when the fat ginger furball padded in and hopped into her lap she giggled and stroked behind his ears and beneath his chin. Her eyes then found their way to Harry and she couldn't help the soft blush from rising in her cheeks.
[b "Sorry...you know how he can be...and next time the three of us?"] She asked, still petting the cat who looked content.
He rejoined her on the couch, reaching out a hand to scratch the cat under his chin. [b "Well, I'm only willing to share you with Crookshanks. Wouldn't be fair to keep you all to myself. I just got him to like me, and I'd rather not go back to him hissing at me every time I got too close to him."]
It was more of a mutual understanding of tolerating each other. Harry broke off a piece of a croissant and held it out to the giant orange cat, who gobbled it up without a second thought. [b "A little bribery doesn't hurt though, just so he remembers that I'm cool,"] Harry joked.
He rested his head back against the couch and gave her a lazy smile. [b "I'm taking you up on that deal. A week of muggle activities is just what we need. I'd suggest we do something this summer, but something tells me that the Order isn't going to be on board with us leaving headquarters."]
His thoughts drifted back to the previous school year, and all of the trying events that the Tri-Wizard Tournament had caused. If Hermione hadn't stood by him and helped with each event, Harry wasn't sure he would have made it out alive. [b "Thank you, by the way. If you weren't there to help last year, I probably wouldn't even be alive this summer. That dragon would have had me as a snack,"] he chuckled, remembering the intense stare of the Hungarian Horntail as it stared him down while practically licking its lips.
The girl's hand continued absently along her cat's soft ginger fur as Harry came back and joined them on the couch and reached out to stroke Crookshank's chin. [b "Oh that's right... he was rather possessive. Funny thing is, he still hasn't let Ron close without a growl or hiss."] The girl said, a chuckle slipping her lips as she could not help but be amused with her 'baby's' opinion of their other friend.
And soon, brown eyes fell on the cat as he gobbled up the treat that had been given, brown eyes going back to Harry. [b "Bribery is not an honest way to get him to like you.. but I can't blame you as he can be very picky and spoiled. Rather have him like you and see that you are a brilliant friend."] She whispered and then smiled again, eyes lightening with a spark.
[b "When we get the chance, a week of muggle fun and all we have in mind would be brilliant! Gives us a break...oh and no, the Order won't let us out. We've been begging for a while. But they keep us locked up here..lucky for me there are tons of books."] She commented, half joking and half serious in what she had said.
As soon as Harry mentioned the help she had given him the year before, a bright pink came to her cheeks and she shook her head. [b "Honestly Harry, it was nothing..you're my best friend and so I wanted to help you. Besides, you would have done the same for me."] The girl said and then bit her lip as she wanted so to ask him how he had been holding up since the graveyard and watching Voldemort kill Cederic and come back from the dead. But seeing the look on his face and having spent the time catching up and them being so content she could not bring herself to even say anything.
And so she fell i to silence, resting her head on the couch and enjoying her friend's company.
At a quarter of three, the door creaked open and there stood Sirius looking at the two. A light smile traced his lips as he gave both a pointed look. [#9251c1 "Have a good night you two? Best be off to bed or at least your rooms before Molly's up and sees you."] The man said with a chuckle, eyes continuing back and forth between the boy and the girl.
[i I'd die for you], Harry wanted to tell her, but he knew that would only upset her. They'd had far too many conversations regarding his total disregard for his own safety. So, he made do with giving her a small smile and a quiet laugh. [b "I think you might have done a bit more for me in this friendship. I've lost count of the number of times that you saved my skin in class, or last year with the Tournament. I'd have been a goner."]
The conversation lulled in to a peaceful serenity with the two just listening to the other breathe. It wasn't often that they got a chance to just relax. Harry's eyes had fallen closed by the time Sirius found them hours later with a playful smile. Harry couldn't even be bothered to feel embarrassed. [b "Right. Don't want to get Mrs. Weasley upset,"] he agreed, hauling himself up off of the couch.
Reaching out a hand, he helped Hermione up. [b "I'll see you in a few hours then?"] he ran a hand through his hair, making it stand up even more.
He waited for her to leave the room before looking at his smirking godfather. [b "Don't start."]
[i "I wasn't going to say anything."]
[b "We were just talking."]
[i "I'm sure."]
[b "I'm going to bed. I'll clean up in the morning,"] Harry shook his head, moving past Sirius.
[i "No need. Kreacher will have it cleaned before you get up. He can't stand leaving something dirty."]
Harry was grateful that Ron was still snoring when he returned to their room, sliding in to his bed. He felt lighter than he had earlier. As guilty as he felt for thinking it, he wanted to spend more time with Hermione, without the company of their redheaded friend every now and then. It was nice to have a conversation that didn't turn in to a fight. As he rolled over and buried his face in his pillow, he heaved out a sigh. Maybe they could talk about it tomorrow.
Eyes had closed and she had nearly found herself asleep when the creaking of the door and the voice of Sirius woke her. The girl was almost grudging getting up and even leaving the library as it had been the most at ease that she had been since she had been in the Black House, but even she could agree that getting on Mrs. Weasley's bad side would be stupid as the woman could hold a grudge and make you feel her displeasure.
So when the hand was offered to her, a soft smile traced her lips as her cat lazily hopped down from her lap. [b "Thanks for the warning, Sirius..it is the last thing we need and the night was nice."] The girl said as she answered the question that Harry's godfather had asked of them.
Slowly she turned and gave Harry a soft smile, a giggle slipping her lips as his hair was sticking up. [b "Of course, see you in a few hours. Sleep well while you can."] And with that, the girl walked out of the room past the two males and off down the hall and to the room that she shared with Ginny, thankful that the other girl was still asleep.
When she got into bed, brown eyes stared up at the ceiling and she ran a hand through her hair. The alone time with Harry had been just what she needed. She had not felt so light or happy since she had arrived. And though she felt bad for admitting it, the girl wanted more times like the one they had had that night and soon she found herself falling into sleep.
It seemed only a few moments to the girl when she felt hands on her shoulders, shaking her to wake up. A groan slipped her lips as she covered her head with the blanket. She was not wanting to get up, but before she could even turn over the blanket was yanked from her.
[i "Breakfast will be ready soon and I need you to wake the boys while I get everyone else. Come on get up."] Molly Weasley was saying as once more she shook the girl.
As soon as the blanket was yanked from her and the cool morning air hit her, brown eyes opened and fell on Mrs.Weasley and after a moment she nodded. When the woman was gone, Hermione was up and padded across cold wooden floors as she slipped out of her room and down the hall to where Ron and Harry were staying. Without knocking, the bushy haired girl slipped into the room and gently began to shake Harry as she knew he would be easier to wake.
[b "Harry, it's time to get up.. Mrs.Weasley wants us all up and downstairs for breakfast soon. I have the feeling she is going to have us all cleaning again.. Please wake up."] Came her whispered words as she would more than need his help with Ron.
(I am so sorry that this took so long to do and is so bad!)
Harry had been slumbering peacefully for once, without traumatic memories flashing in his dreams. In fact, he hadn't dreamed of anything. It was possibly the most restful sleep he'd gotten since he was young. It was disturbed, however, when a pair of hands gave him a bit of a shake. [b "What?"] he slurs groggily, trying to see through half-closed eyes.
Seeing that it was only Hermione, and not a threat, his head dropped back down against the fluffy pillow. [b "Don't want to get up. Don't make me,"] he pleaded, wanting to go back to that peaceful state of no worries.
The threat of Mrs. Weasley forced his eyes open fully, knowing that the matriarch of the family would not stand for them skipping any kind of chores. [b "Think we can hide out in the attic until she stops looking for us?"] he asked hopefully.
Already knowing the answer, he slid his blankets off and threw his legs over the side of the bed, reaching for his glasses. [b "I see you haven't attempted to wake the beast yet,"] he noted the sound of Ron snoring across the room.
Rising to his feet, Harry snatched his pillow up and padded across the room, not even bothering to be quiet since it wouldn't rouse the redhead anyway. In one smooth motion, he swung the pillow around and bashed Ron in the face with it. [b "Wake up, Ronniekins,"] Harry tried to sound chipper, knowing it would just make his friend more irritated.
Ron groaned and rolled over, murmuring incoherently. [b "Let's go,"] Harry swung again, connecting with the back of his head.
[i "I'm going to kill you,"] their friend growls, glaring up at them from under his hair.
[b "I already have one psychotic wizard trying to kill me. I don't need another. Get up, it's time for breakfast,"] Harry drops the pillow on to the bed, turning to Hermione. [b "Is everyone else awake?"]
It was as miserable to the girl to be waking the boy as it was for him to be waking. She knew just how he felt as she didn't want to be up either, but given the threat of Mrs. Weasley and knowing what the woman could be like when upset it was better they listened. A small laugh did slip from her lips as she shook her head. [b "Honestly I wish we could hide.. But you know as well as I do that she would only hunt us down and give us even more to do and even watch to make sure we get our chores done. Or worse, she'll give us even more. I do like to help...but...well you'll see why this place makes you wish that you could hide."] Hermione found herself saying as she offered an apologetic smile and then looked back at the redhead of their little group and sighed.
He slept and snored like a bear. It was a wonder that anyone could even sleep with Ronald and even have a good night's sleep. Sometimes the girl was tempted to ask Harry how on earth he managed, but she always thought better of it. Though she was curious, the bushy haired girl thought it would be both rude and offensive, which was the last things she ever wanted to be to her best friends, well mostly to Harry because Ron hardly ever took care not to be rude to her. Sometimes she wondered if the Weasley boy even knew that she was a girl and not just one of the boys. And as that thought crossed her mind, brown eyes stung with tears she refused to let fall.
Quickly her hands came up and rubbed her eyes as she turned back to give the dark haired boy another apologetic smile and shake of her head. [b "I haven't even bothered with him. Everytime I do, he tends to bite and is not very nice about it. You see..I thought I might get you up first and maybe get some help in waking the 'beast'."] She said quietly, giving and almost pleading look.
Hermione was about to once more turn back to Ron but before she could even make her way over to try and wake him, Harry was out of bed and acting in the manner of a chipper child. At first, Hermione had no idea what he was doing, but as he hit Ron in the head with the pillow and once more sounded all awake and chipper she couldn't help a giggle. Though it was early, she couldn't help but find the antics amusing. Or rather she did until Ron grouched at Harry because he was trying to help her wake him.
[b "Ronald, he doesn't need the threat. And incase you haven't noticed he's enough on his plate. Besides, your mum wanted us all up for breakfast and then more cleaning."] Her words were sharp and her hands were on her hips as she spoke.
[i "Blimey, Mione it was a joke. And urgh, really? She's been making us clean all summer."] The Weasley boy groaned as he turned over on his side and covered his head once more. It was clear he was awake and not at all happy about it. It was also clear he would not leave the room until the other two did as well.
Brown eyes rolled and glared at the blanket. But soon her attention went back to Harry and once more she sighed. [b "Honestly, I don't know. Mrs.Weasley said that she would wake them...I was just to wake you and Ron."] Hermione said, a little pink in her cheeks.
[i "RON, HARRY, HERMIONE HURRY OR YOU WON'T GET ANY BREAKFAST!"] Molly yelled from downstairs.
[b "Guess we better go. She's not kidding...you know how the others eat."] The girl said and then turned, almost rushing from the room, but stopping just down the hall to wait for the other two.
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