"I knew you'd get it, Harry."
"You're the best, Harry."
"That's so amazing, Harry!"
Harry smiled at the various Gryffindor students who cheerfully greeted him as he walked down the hall for dinner that night. News of his Captain status has spread quickly and the boy was reminded again of how much people obsessed over Quidditch in this school. It was wicked to get the role, but after the first ten people had congratulated him, Harry was getting a little sick of smiling. Especially since half the people who beamed at him were people he didn't know or barely spoke to.
"Yet another thing for the adoring crowd to fawn over," the slightly amused voice of Hermione Granger greeted him as he sat down in the Great Hall. Harry sheepishly smiled. As Hermione dug into her plate of food, she stated matter-of-factly, "In all seriousness, I don't really get what all the fuss is about. You're the youngest seeker in, what, a century? Who else did they all think would possibly get it?" Plopping a helping of peas in front of her, she continued on, "Honestly. It's hardly surprising. Of course, I'm proud of you, Harry, but I just already knew that you're the best player in this school."
"Go on for much longer and my ears might burn off." Harry answered with a grin.
"Of course, you can't expect that it's all fame and glory," Katie Bell chimed in as she slid into a seat diagonal from Harry. "You'll have to hold team try-outs. Now that the twins are graduated and Angelina's gone, you'll have to replace them very soon. While you're at it, you may want to think about re-auditioning the other positions as well."
"Yeah, I know." He said. "I figure Wood and Angelina couldn't have been that stressed out for no reason."
"But you do get a shiny badge, prefect privileges, and the position to anger loads of your friends during the tryouts." Hermione cheerfully pointed out.
"Bright ray of sunshine, you are." Harry snorted. "I knew there was a reason McGonagall wanted to start training two weeks early."
"Be thankful you're not doing this and NEWT classes as well, as both Oliver and Angelina had to do." Katie reminded him. "This year is going to be killer for me, stupid wizarding exams. Speaking of which, I'd better go, I've got to study for a beginning of term test Flitwick is springing on us tomorrow. As if he actually expects us all to remember all those spells through the summer." She shook her head sadly, took one last bite of her bread roll, and strode off.
"Can you believe we're in our second to last year in this school?" Harry sighed, "I expect I'll be needing your help a lot more than even now when next year comes along."
"And you will get the privilege of juggling Quidditch Captain and NEWTs, considering you're going to reprise your position unless you royally muck it up this year." Hermione said. "But don't worry. If I could handle my doubling of course load in year three I'm sure you'll manage fine."
"…I'm going to have to take Advanced Potions, aren't I?" the thought suddenly popped into Harry's mind and he dropped his fork in horror.
"If you're serious about being an Auror, yes." She shrugged. "Which, not that I don't think you could handle it- quite the contrary, actually- but I don't think you should take up that career path."
"I've been fighting dark wizards since I was eleven. I think I can handle myself."
"I believe that's her point," Ron pointed out.
"Where were you?" Harry frowned at his red headed friend.
"Finishing up that last round of laps you told me to do for practice." Ron answered reproachfully. "I know how important Quidditch is, but seriously, you were just given the title today."
"Quit whining, Ron." Hermione rolled her eyes. "As I was saying, I don't think you should pursue dark wizard catching for a living. You've been doing it as a child; do you really want to be doing it every day, all day, for the rest of your life? Protecting people is one thing, but you might as well scrawl 'Come and Slaughter Me' across your chest in glowing red letters."
"What would you suggest I do, then?"
"We've got loads of time to think of that," Ron brushed off, ignoring Hermione's look of protest. "Now pass the potatoes. I'll need to eat the entire bowl to gain back what your routine made me lose."
Harry shook his head and handed over the food, suppressing a small smile as he heard Hermione mutter something about an infantile pig.
In so many ways, the three of them were still the same. Ron and Hermione argued, Hermione was focused on school, Ron was determined to focus on anything but. However, if you were looking past the superfluous, everything was changed. During the summer, neither Ron nor Hermione wanted to leave Harry by himself. After spending one week at the beginning of summer with the Dursleys, Ron had managed to get Harry over. Hermione was vacationing some where at the time, so for the first time in the history of their friendship, Harry got to have just guy time, since Ginny had decided to stay with Charlie for the summer.
It was so much more carefree without the third member of their group with them, yet Harry had found himself missing her very much. It wasn't right without her. Ron had agreed, as shown through his occasional muttering about the fact that she had mentioned in a very off hand manner in one of her letters to Harry that she had met up with Viktor for a few days. It was times like those that made Harry wish that Ron would just get on with it and ask her out. He was constantly jealous, and Harry's suspicion that it wasn't a strictly platonic concern had grown stronger. Then again, the raven-haired Boy-Who-Lived never actually brought it up with Ron… he had to spend nearly the whole summer in his company. Somehow, Harry didn't think prodding Ron about their best friend would lead to anywhere good. Of course, he could just be reading too much into the situation and Ron may just have a brotherly protective instinct towards Hermione, and not a possessive romantic one.
"Hermione, can I borrow your notes on-" Ron began.
"What about that assignment due-"
"But we have a test on it in-"
"Damn you, woman! What have I done now to make you upset enough to withhold homework help?"
"I'm not upset. It's the second to last year, Ron. If you don't learn responsibility now you never will."
"Harry, talk some sense into her."
"Hermione, you did say you'd help us with our work-"
"I said I'd help you, Harry. You actually attempt to do work before asking me. And you actually show gratitude."
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"It means, Ron, that I am sick of being your crutch, your excuse for laziness."
"You do take her for granted."
"You're taking her side?"
"Don't be so immature, Ron!" Hermione exclaimed.
"I think we should branch out our friend circle. What about that Ravenclaw girl of yours, she must be smart, and no one can be as anal as Hermione." Ron sniffed, nodding at the girl who had just left her table and was proceeding towards the doors. She gave him a funny look as Ron continued on, "You'd help your friends with homework if their grade depended on it, wouldn't you? Because you're a decent human being. Isn't that right?"
"…I guess?" the girl answered nervously.
"Ron-" Harry sighed. Hermione was going to blow.
"Excuse me for trying to help you out in the long run, you ungrateful, slimy, annoying, childish-"
"I'll meet you back in the common room." Harry rolled his eyes, leaving them at their rant. They would get over it eventually, but he really felt like normal conversation. Alternating between playing the peacemaker and the Golden Boy was getting tiresome that day.
"They do get rather riled, don't they?" It was the Ravenclaw girl whom Ron had made mention to.
"Uh, sorry about that. Ron was sort of in the heat of the moment." Harry said apologetically.
"At least we didn't make physical contact with each other this time around." She shrugged with a small smile. "Is Hermione all right? She did look quite upset."
"They get into a row at least once a week." Harry laughed. "I'll intervene if it gets serious, but mainly it's just how they interact."
"Women." Ron exhaled sharply as he swung open the doors, exiting the Great Hall in a huff. He caught sight of the girl and launched into another tirade, "Why must you all get so angry at the tiniest things? I only called her anal and self-righteous, nothing to go mad over. The paper's due tomorrow, how am I supposed to do it now? She's just going to sit there and stew while I fail. I suspect she'll secretly enjoy it, too." He took a breath, and the girl looked like she wanted to bolt, but Ron suddenly asked, "You must be taking the same course load, I'm sure McGonagall gave you that paper to do as well. How in God's name are you supposed to fill up four feet of parchment over it? I'll be up all night. How long did it take you? Better yet, would you let me borrow it? Just for pointers?"
"Pleading with every person you see just because you were too lazy to get it done earlier. You're pathetic, Ronald." Hermione snapped as she joined them outside the Hall.
"I, uh… I don't actually know you people, maybe I'd just better not be involved in this…" the Ravenclaw muttered, backing away slowly.
"Will anyone with a brain help me out?" Ron groaned in frustration.
"Are you implying I don't have a brain?" Harry couldn't help himself.
"You could have done it yourself if only you were willing to take the time to research it instead of getting all your facts from the hours of research I myself have done!" Hermione hissed.
"I think I preferred slamming into you." Harry whispered to the Ravenclaw, as the two both slowly moved away from the two bickering sixth years who were drawing quite a bit of attention, seeing as though they were standing so close to the doors.
"Funny thing is I did do McGonagall's paper. It takes all of two hours. If he spent half the effort of trying to get someone to help him and used it to actually work, he'd be finished by now." She whispered back.
Harry laughed and the two left, unnoticed by the screaming match still taking place.
"Good luck with them." She chuckled, making her way down the hallway with the boy. They reached the staircase leading to the Gryffindor common room. "I'll see you around, Harry." And with a bid of good night, she continued steadily down the corridor.
It took him all of five seconds to realize that she knew who he was and yet he was still standing here referring to her as 'the Ravenclaw girl'.
A/N: It's been nearly a year, which is why I felt it necessary to post up something. Anything. It's really filler, and I'm sorry that there was such a long wait for a chapter that essentially moved nothing ahead, but I felt really guilty.