Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.

Summary: Harry Potter is a blithering idiot. Hermione sticks by him anyway.

Author's Note: This was written one day before the release of HBP, as a birthday present for Oh Honestleigh. As such, it focuses on Harry and Hermione, but once again I failed to write actual romance. Sorry, Anne -- I tried!

...And in all honesty, I think the story's kind of cute anyway, romantic or not. :-)

Of a Feather

Harry Potter was a blithering idiot.

Hermione slammed Draughts and Infusions of Use on the Field of Battle onto her desk and decided she liked the sound. So she picked up Discovering Your Inner Animagus and dropped it beside Arsenius Jigger's compendium of potions. Then, one by one, she dropped her new collection of hexes, curses, shielding charms, countercurses, and various other books of Dark Arts and Defense spells.

The books made a satisfying series of thumps and bangs.

"Hermione?" her mother called up the stairs. "Is something wrong?"

Hermione sighed and set A Complete History of the British Goblin Rebellions: From Linchpin's Revolt to the Grindelwald War down gently instead of slamming it onto her growing pile of books. "No, Mum, everything's fine. I knocked over some books, that's all."

"Oh, that's too bad. Pick them up, please, and remember to come down for dinner in an hour."

Hermione leaned forward over her desk, hands clenched on the edges of her stack of books, and counted slowly to ten. "Harry Potter," she told A Complete History of the British Goblin Rebellions, "is a blithering idiot. And I can't complain to Mum and Dad because then I'd have to tell them I'm going back into a war zone come September, and that one of my best friends is the chief target."

A Complete History of the British Goblin Rebellions made no reply.

Hermione walked over to her bed with its flowered quilt and hospital corners, and flopped onto her back. "Why am I the only one who sees that getting angry won't help?" she asked her ceiling. "I'm sorry that Sirius is dead. I'm furious at Fudge and I'm not happy with Professor Dumbledore -- I'm sure he's been keeping things from Harry, or Harry wouldn't have gone off half-cocked like he did. There aren't words for how much I despise Professor Snape."

The ceiling refrained from commenting.

Hermione rolled over and addressed her pillow. "But all Harry wants to do is stew over the way nobody tells him things. He still isn't practicing Occlumency right -- I just know it. And every time I send him lists of information I've put together from the Daily Prophet and talking to the Order members when they stop by, he sends them straight back. He won't tell me anything about how he's feeling."

She gestured with her hand as if writing a letter. "'Hermione, I'm alive. I got your letter. The Dursleys are the same as always. -Harry' That's all he ever writes. What sort of letter is that to send to your best friend after you've both nearly been killed?"

Her pillow proved taciturn.

"At least he isn't writing anything more to Ron," Hermione mumbled. While on the one hand, that was bad, since if he were writing to Ron, at least Harry wouldn't be bottling everything inside... on the other hand, she had to fight down a surge of jealousy at the thought that Harry might think she wasn't quite as important as Ron. She was glad he wasn't writing to Ron -- guilty, but glad. She couldn't help it, not when she remembered the way he'd sided with Ron over Crookshanks and the Firebolt, and the way Ron had been the thing he'd miss most during the Second Task. Those memories still burned.

"It might've been me in the lake," Hermione muttered now, the same way she always did. "It might've been me, if Victor's family had been at Hogwarts and he hadn't chosen me. At least it probably would've been Ron and me, together."

The pillow maintained its neutral silence.

But anyway, Harry was being completely irrational this summer. And while he was a sixteen year old boy and thus somewhat excused for any stupidity on grounds of hormonally-induced insanity, Harry couldn't afford to be stupid. He had a war to fight. If he didn't shape up, he was going to die.

Hermione refused to let that happen, but it was a lot harder to make Harry pay attention when she was too far away to yell in his face and shove books under his nose until the especially interesting bits caught his attention and he started putting things together on his own. She was reduced to sending letters that came right back with the barest acknowledgment of her existence. She was reduced to slamming books onto her desk and talking out loud at her bedroom furnishings.

Why, exactly, did she keep beating her head against the brick wall of Harry's indifference?

Hermione tugged her pillow over her face and tried to concentrate. Harry was her friend. (But he wasn't acting much like it lately.) Harry was the only person, besides Professor Dumbledore, that Voldemort seemed to worry about; naturally she should do her best to keep him alive. (But why would a powerful wizard worry about a teenage boy?) Harry had saved her life; she owed him. (But he'd dragged her into danger in the first place.)

Logically, she might as well give in and let him deal with his own problems. Clearly she wasn't doing much good anyway.

Hermione groaned. "Harry Potter is an infuriating, pig-headed, head-in-the-sand, blithering idiot," she informed her pillow, and she trudged over to her desk to write another letter.

Idiots should stick together, after all.


AN: Thanks for reading, and please review.