"Let's start a music club!"
When Daphne finally saw Hermione after her arduous summer filled with training, she expected the brunette to tell her 'Daphne I missed you!' or 'Gosh it's been so boring without you.' in that cute cheerful tone of hers with her usual warm and comforting embrace determined to convey all the warmth the ice princess herself gave out effortlessly to her loved ones.
So starting a music club wasn't exactly what she expected to hear from the unusually fired up brunette.
"Wh-where did that come from, Hermione?" She tried to mask her confusion, amusement and slight disappointment with a lopsided grin that never failed to betray her cool appearance.
"Well, remember I told you about seeing and fleeing from my f-father?"
"Right… that guy… you said you fixed matters with him?"
"Better than before, surely, but… it's a work in progress." She uttered her words hesitantly, clearing her throat uncomfortably as she looked away for a brief moment before looking back up at her friend with an awkward grin.
Daphne frowned at the brunette who was about to change the subject, or resume the original topic to be more exact, when she pinched and pulled Hermione's cheeks, surprising her as she stuttered.
"D-deaph shtopp ithh!"
"Not until you stop faking that smile! If you don't like the idiot just say it! He doesn't owe you shit!"
"L-languaage" She tried to pry the stern but smirking blonde's arms away from her face, but found they wouldn't budge- wow she had pretty toned tan arms. She's definitely been training hard in the summer like her! It made her feel bad for hiding things from her best friend, but that doesn't mean she gets a free 'tease Hermione' card. In any case, two can play at that game!
"Please don't mimic Cho."
"Wwet Goww!" She grit her teeth and stood on her tip toes pinching and stretching out Daphne's cheeks too, much to the blonde's guffawing and amused chuckle.
"Youw Lwittle Squirwt! Wet gow!"
"Youw firwst!" Hermione only frowned more at the Slytherin, unrelenting. Unfortunately for her, said Slytherin was just as bull headed as the little Gryffindor.
Approaching from the distance, Harry and Cho stopped at the sound of the two silhouettes bickering from outside the train compartment, Harry hesitantly approaching, and looking back at Cho with a question mark written all over his face.
"Don't bother… they're both being idiots again…" Not one minute back at Hogwarts- no not even at the castle, but on the bloody train!- and those two were already fooling around. Cho shut her eyes and pinched the bridge of her nose in hopes of preventing the oncoming headache, and was surprised when she felt two cool, calloused hands rubbing her shoulders.
She opened her eyes to look into emerald eyes tilting down to look into her onyx ones with a gentle smile.
"You should wait a day or two before getting riled up." She sighed with a small smile, unable to stay made when Harry was smiling at her like that; she really couldn't stand letting him down- she wrote it off as her protective instinct acting up- so she rolled her eyes with amusement.
"Those two will be the death of me, but alright. We better break it up before their cheeks permanently stay red." In the midst of their small conversation, they hadn't realized the two girls were laughing and groaning at the same time, as the act of smiling hurt their poor tomato red cheeks.
"At least now we match." Daphne winked playfully at Hermione who merely stuck her tongue out at her best friend before taking a deep breath.
"So as I was saying, I had this idea after running awa- Harry! Cho!" She lunged at the two students who just slid the door open with stars shining in her eyes, her smile bright enough to rival the sun.
The two enveloped her with welcoming arms, laughing and returning her eagerness.
'Why didn't she greet me like that…?' Daphne's paper white visage froze in a small smile, comically tearing up as she stood a few steps away from the warm three way embrace, frozen in place like a marble slab of stone, arms glued to her side and looking like someone cast a petrificus totalus on her.
… until Hermione grabbed a hold of her arm and pulled her into the group hug, squeezing her shoulders affectionately.
"Of course I missed you too, you drama queen."
"Whatever you say Gryffindork…" Daphne grinned and squeezed the brunette's waist when the latter scoffed and giggled into the taller girl's shoulder, before the Greengrass heir used her other arm to hug Cho and Harry closer, amused and more than a little smug that she was now the tallest out of the bunch.
Even with all the healing potions, Harry's natural height hadn't kicked in yet… or his parents just weren't as tall as everyone thought they were.
"Let's cast a privacy charm to talk about this sudden epiphany you got."
"You make it sound like I'm crazy…"
"So you want to start some sort of program, like a conservatory at Hogwarts?" Cho rehashed what Hermione had gone over and was rewarded with frantic nodding from her small friend.
"There could be so many people that play instruments, that have the potential to amplify their minds and their magic, and we can't leave them practicing in isolation if they don't want to."
"As long as you don't drag them into it or anything." Daphne joked, nudging Hermione's shoulder, and the teen turned serious at the statement.
"Trust me. The last thing I'll ever do is force anyone into playing." Hermione said this with a solemn conviction, looking ahead, pointedly avoiding Daphne's inquisitive eyes. She knew the blonde would easily read her newly surfaced thoughts and memories.
Harry caught her gaze though and smiled sympathetically before speaking up.
"This could also be a great chance to teach others instruments we play."
"That's a great idea! But I think first we should track down all the different musicians to see what instruments we can actually teach. And to see what kinds of different bands we can form."
"Track down? This isn't a hunt…" Harry butt in with a nervous smile.
"Says you. I'm gonna catch them all! Starting with you~" Her voice took a playful lilt as she grabbed the brunette taken by surprise beside her before hugging her waist and nuzzling her soft bushy hair with her cheek with a coy grin, giggling as the embarrassed Gryffindor tried to wriggle out of her grip with a whine.
"Daphneeee, come on…"
"Not letting go until you say the magic words…" She elongated 'words' with a highly amused voice, clearly grinning wider than a Cheshire cat even though Hermione couldn't turn to see.
Damn her tall and lean constitution.
"Quit fooling around, damn it!"
Hermione's savior came in the form of a Quibbler magazine pelted by a miffed Cho straight at Daphne's forehead who ended up falling sideways on the couch with Hermione still in her arms, but loosening them enough that the brunette plopped onto the floor and rolled away and onto her back, panting, and aiming a small glare at the blonde too amused to pull off a sheepish or apologetic expression.
She smiled softly at the brunette as she got up, turning to mockingly bow at Cho with a drawled apology before turning back to the brunette staring up at her with a small smile, unable to stay made at the laid back Slytherin for long, and accepted the extended hand.
"Wow, and you almost managed to last a whole day without pissing Cho off, Daph. Better luck next time!" Harry quipped, erasing the number of days Cho was calm from a small black board and chalk he conjured up with a silent wave of his wand before willing it away with another wave, very satisfied with himself. Hermione gave a thumbs up and a pat on his head for the great casting, while Cho and Daphne spluttered, glaring at the two and at each other simultaneously, somehow.
A sudden knock at the door and its subsequent sliding open brought them out of their musings as they were accosted with a sea of red: that is to say, red haired troublemakers and siblings, charging at the 4 terribly underprepared students.
"I'm too young to die!"
"Stop being so dramatic you snake and let me hug you before I regret it."
"Whatever weasel, I'm only getting along because it makes Hermione and Harry happy."
"That's supposed to be my line…" Both their expressions darkened, noses wrinkling at the prospect of even touching.
Daphne and Ron reluctantly hugged each other, Ron mimicking a puking motion, while Daphne shook in suppressed rage. It wasn't clear whether they were repulsed from each other or were trying to literally squeeze the life out of each other..
"I think that's the most hateful hug I've seen so far."
"It's impressive how fast Daphne turned from heater to icebox just by touching Ron."
"Yeah, Ron would usually blush when he's hugging cute girls, but near Daphne he's as pale as snow…" Ginny added coyly while hugging Hermione tightly.
"You're calling me ugly, you twerp?"
"Now she's mad, you better run Ginny…" Hermione, who Ginny was hugging tightly, spoke with slight worry for the redhead who only hugged her tighter, and blowing the blonde a raspberry, if Hermione heard right.
"So what is I did? I have Hermione hostage, so you can't do anything."
"Not again…" Hermione muttered, struggling but unable to loosen the slightly taller red head's grip. This was ridiculous; why was everyone so strong? Did the fruits of her strength training rot away already?
She yelped in surprise when two sets of arms hoisted her, before being handed to yet another set, barely grasping the newest captor's neck before she ended up hugging the floor again.
"We have Granger, We have Granger!" The twins raucously cheered while Ron laughed, nearly as surprised and embarrassed as Hermione to be carrying her, right before the 4 red heads ran out of the compartment, leaving the rest of the quartet outrage.
"They did not just steal our violinist!"
"After them!" Harry uncharacteristically yelled, raising his fist high in the sky and practically leaping out from the couch with a burst of energy, laughing all the way as Cho followed right after and Daphne took the tail, seething at the sheer gall of the two idiotic twins. Stupid Gryffindors!
They were halfway across the hallway when Ginny noticed Luna conversing pleasantly with Padma, Parvati and Lavender with an issue of the Quibbler in her hand and happily showing her radish earrings to the confused but curious blonde gossip loving Gryffindor.
The red head grinned toothily, zooming right beside the whimsical Ravenclaw and successfully hooking her arm before whisking her away in their group sprint with a surprised gasp from the latter, leaving behind a cloud of dust and three disgruntled students
"Hey, I wasn't done talking to her, Ginny!"
"It's cool Luna has so many friends outside Ravenclaw." Padma commented with a small grin, before opening her rare book on manipulating magic through sound she was given by her proud Grandmother during her and Parvati's vacation visiting their relatives in different parts of India.
"If only I can play an instrument…" She muttered wistfully, watching Parvati laugh at the look of outrage on Lavender's face before consoling her with a pat on the back and telling to just catch up to Luna at Hogwarts.
Going back to the Ravenclaw, it only took her a few moments of looking back and forth at the gleeful faces of Ginny's lovable siblings and the mortified Hermione being carried bridal style by Ronald to piece their newest misadventure.
"I take it we're kidnapping Hermione?"
"Quite right you are, dearest best friend."
"You know Daphne's going to kill you." She smirked at the smug look Ginny wore while puffing out her chest.
"I'd like to see her try-" She didn't even finish her sentence when she heard a loud thud and pained squeal, followed by a few swears as Daphne's shoe connected with the back of Ron's head, making him drop Hermione who barely managed to cast leviosa at the ground to float herself, watching as the shoe flew back like a boomerang to hit Fred and George and finally come at a terrified Ginny who resorted to running behind Luna, hoping she'd escape. And just when she thought she did, she painfully felt another shoe pelt the back of her head with enough force to send her lurching into Luna and topple both of them to the ground to join the heap of limbs and groans comprised of the twins lying on top of one squished Ronald Weasely.
"You seem to have forgotten I have two feet, Pumpkin head." The blonde Slytherin smirked as she stood above the disgruntled red head, looking down at her as she smugly caught her two shoes that flew back at her, having long since pocketed her wand she used to cast the tricky spell that was a combination of Wingardium Leviosa and anchoring spell with her as the final receiver.
"Well played Daph." Harry took the moment to playfully pat the blonde's back before heading to help up the tangled lot- after having a small laughing fit and posing besides the human pile with Daphne and dragging in Cho so Hermione could take a picture.
Just as the flash went off, a compartment door slid open, revealing a thoroughly miffed Pansy who surprisingly wasn't flanked by Draco.
Though Crabbe and Goyle were inside playing exploding snap as soon as the snappy Slytherin turned her back to scold the miscreant bothering her beauty sleep.
"What the hell do you barn animals think you're doing? It's not even noon and you're making all this ruckus and- Why are you just lying there? Daphne did you finally kill them?"
"Well I did pelt them with my shoes. Hermione and Harry wouldn't like it if I murdered their housemates, and Cho definitely won't let me hear the end of it if I did." She dramatically sighed with a hand on her brow, grinning back at her scoffing housemate.
"That's fair enough. I'd spare them too if it meant sparing me from a whiny Ravenclaw's endless squawking. She shot at the outraged Cho, whose hair puffed up like an upset crow's feathers.
Although before she got to reply, or throw her meanest glare at the flippant young Slytherin with maybe a Tantallegra spell she'd discreetly fire with the wand hidden within the folds of her robes, the train lurched to an abrupt stop, violently throwing many roaming the hallways off balance.
Fortunately for those on the ground, they were spared from students barreling into them like cannons, but Hermione who had just gotten off and dusted herself off, was bowled over by a surprised and flailing Daphne, who avoided completely squishing her poor friend with her quick reflexes and landing on her knees and elbows, staring down at the Gryffindor who mirrored her looks of equal parts confusion and concern.
"Wh-why did the train stop…? That's never happened before…" Neville, who just came out of a compartment shared with Seamus and Dean, remarked, fearfully clutching his pet toad Trevor he luckily hadn't lost- too many times- this time, thanks to the handy point me spell Hermione showed him.
His worried inquiry was followed by further mutterings in many of the compartments, while the hallway's occupants remained suspiciously silent.
"Is everyone okay?" Cho asked, helping Harry and Ron up while the twins hoisted each other and then a dazed Ginerva up, followed by Luna who frowned instead of the small peaceful smile she usually donned.
"Hey Luna, what's wrong?" Ginny uncertainly placed a hand on the blonde's shoulder, voice uncharacteristically soft. She was taken back with the small fog coming out of her mouth when she spoke.
"All the wrackspurts on the train fled from the train… I don't like this feeling." Luna muttered crossly, crossing her arms and placing one hand on her wand just in case, many others on the train mirroring her primal instinct.
"Hey, why is it getting dark?"
"Is it cold or is it just me?"
"Let's do a group hug"
"Where's your wand?"
"I'm feeling sleepy…"
All around them, as Hermione and Luna heard more and more of the cross comments, whispers, mumbles and yells, they saw everyone's aura, even those from across the pale yellow compartment's screens, and even each other's, become shakier, and bluer. Panic and sadness? What gives?
"Hermione, you're shivering…" Daphne stared down at her alertly wide eyed and trembling friend, with her own torn between a fight, flight or freeze reaction. Still lying on top of her with elbows and knees rooted onto the chilly carpet floor, she felt a weight settle on her back, too heavy to muster the strength to roll over.
"Hey, calm down, what's wrong?"
"I-I d-don't know, b-but it's cold…" Hermione couldn't afford to wrap her arms around herself, for she had one hand tightly grasping her arm and the other ready to cast wandlessly if need be- it was more through her mind, but waving her hands helped her concentrate her magic.
"Cold? If you say so… but I definitely feel something ominous…" Daphne grunted, looking sideways at Harry, Cho and Ron trying to help each other off the floor Daphne swore was covered with frost, wands in Harry's and Cho's palms, at the ready to fight away this invisible danger.
Except, it wasn't invisible anymore. Not after the temperature drastically dropped once again, welcoming a small flock of dark cloaked individuals floating through the air like gossamer cloth.
What made many of the students gasp, shriek and faint right away was the sight of bony arms and dark gaping holes under the tent like tattered hood and ripped cloths- truly the stuff of nightmares.
Unfortunately for the rest, they could do nothing but stare in transfixed horror as they skimmed through the compartments, almost sucking their body heats like a vacuum cleaner, until they zoned in on the quartet of all people. Specifically Harry, much to the terrified boy's luck as he hurriedly fumbled with his wand while trying to shield Ron and Cho with the other hand.
Even when he was scared out of his wits, his considerate nature never failed to shine through. But seeing the boy who lived break into a cold sweat made the rest shiver and begin to despair as well.
'Damn it Hermione… fight it with fire!' She chided herself for not considering the element she seemed to have an affinity for and with all her fear, set her arms on fire, trying to focus the flames into the palms of her hands to blast at these creatures of darkness. They turned to the brunette, successfully distracted, but now dunking the two girls in boiling- or in this case freezing- water.
Unfortunately, the closer they got, the more frantic the brunette became and lost control of her flames, the element extinguishing almost as fast as the brunette's common sense, brain too busy being bombarded with images she thought she had locked away or dealt with.
"Hermione! Damn it…" She hissed, staring up at the approaching figures and snarling at them, trying to shield the brunette as best as she could with her body, frantically thinking up any spell she could cast to ward these things away.
When one of them got too close to her liking, her body reacted automatically, mind shutting down temporarily as her hand shot out and fired a jet of water that froze on contact with the dark being, and taking it by surprise. Of course, it wasn't enough for the Slytherin backed heavily by adrenalin, as she kept on going until there was a wall of ice separating them from the rest of the monsters.
Unfortunately, it was too early for those conscious to celebrate, as one of them had stuck to Harry, grasping his thin shoulders with its long bony fingers and almost looking like it was sucking at a vapor that was his dissolving face, a face slowly turning to sand, a face too shocked to react, despite the body flailing as if it was electrocuted.
"Expecto Patronum!" Their saving grace came when a voice behind them confidently yelled out a spell accompanied by a powerful burst of light that ripped through the atmosphere out of nowhere and drove away the cloaked spirits that struggled but failed to overcome this dazzling, hope filling energy.
Soon enough, they were gone and had long since flown away from the train, the lights coming back on with their ice and Daphne's dissolving into meager puddles of water. Still, no one dared to lift a finger, and it was still dark for many. At least on the inside.
It was only Remus Lupin who stood tall and stern, wand long since sheathed as he and calmed down the students, re-enervated many, and tended to those in the hallway.
"Eat these children, you'll better." His gaze lasted longer than normal on Harry, who was oddly despondent after being awoken by a frantic but faint pulsed Cho. Said girl hesitantly grabbed the tablet and nibbled at it, looking back up at the professor, a grateful glint in her eyes and immensely thankful words on the tip of her tongue
"Thank you so much! Is that chocolate…?"
"Indeed, it is. Please stay with Harry while I tend to others." She could only nod as she watched him head toward the only two girls still lying on the floor, and it was clear why.
Hermione wrapped around Daphne with all her limbs and all her might, burrowing her head in the latter's shoulder and shaking like a leaf. Daphne herself wasn't doing much better, but hugging Hermione almost as tightly helped ground her. She did stare surprised at her hand though, still in disbelief of what just happened.
Maybe that hug Daphne and Ron shared may have made hell freeze over.