Disclaimer: I'm not disclaiming any more. Anyone who thinks that I own multiple castles is obviously either very hopeful or off the deep end.
Harry threw the school robe across the room. That one wasn't his. He dug around and found another. Too big in the shoulders. Ron's, then. He yanked it off.
"Oi, Ron, I found yours!" he declared, waving the garment proudly above his head. He threw an arm over his face to keep from being pelted by the candies inside the pockets.
"Hey, found yours, too!" The Weasley boy looked at the numerous pieces of golden-colored candies on the floor. "Might want to be careful with those, mate. Fred 'n George might say it's one thing, but you never can tell until it's too late."
They tossed each other their robes, and both began to pick up the sweets, trying to hurry. They had ten minutes to get to Defense Against the Dark Arts, their alarms having been "mysteriously" turned off. Ron had grumbled that the only person it could have been was Seamus. Harry agreed somewhat, but there wasn't time to go at it now, especially since the Irishman wasn't even in. He was in class with the rest of the Sixth Year Gryffindors.
"Here, Harry, just shove some in your pockets."
Harry and Ron grabbed their bags and wands, hastening out the room.
"What are they?" asked Harry as he closed the door.
"Honesty Honeys, they say. Make you tell the truth, and each works for five minutes." They stomped down the stairs.
"That could be handy…"
"There you two are! I was just about to rush up to get you!" said Hermione. The boys stopped, thinking they had somehow plunged down the stairs and hit their heads.
"Well, what're you waiting for? We've got to go!"
She yanked both of them by their sleeves, and once they had gained momentum, they were sprinting down hallways and across corridors.
"Why'd you wait for us, Hermione?" Ron asked, a strange note in his voice. Harry tried to keep from grinning. It was obvious to all but those two that Ron was mad for Hermione – and vice versa.
"I didn't. I woke up seven minutes ago and heard you two shouting about the time."
The three were breathing heavily, but not heavily enough to stop the conversation.
"Was your alarm turned off?" Ron asked. Hermione nodded.
"Yes. I clearly remember setting it last night, though. I couldn't say how it happened."
Ron brooded. His expression changed to indignation a moment later.
"Aren't you going to ask us why we're up so late?"
From where Harry was positioned, he could see Hermione's lips quirk.
"I just assumed you'd both overslept. Which is strange, since your stomach is your alarm, isn't it, Ron?"
Ron elbowed his mate as he chuckled.
They made it in just as the bell rang. And were very surprised to see all of the Sixth Years, not just the norm of Gryffindors and Slytherins.
Professor Tatoian looked up from reading the novel on her desk. She raised an eyebrow as the trio mumbled apologies and took the seats they could find.
The professor closed her book and stood.
"Things are going to change up a bit, as you can tell. Rather than continuing on as we have, I thought it best that we tackle something different. So, from today on, you'll all be working in groups of three – or in some cases, two – and following through–" she flicked her wand towards a storage closet behind her. It opened, and multiple stacks of the same book floated out, dividing themselves up to the students. "–this. Zelbon Alberrey's Finding the Psyche Through Spellwork. I've chosen this deviation from the course because I believe that to defend yourself, you must know yourself: what most frightens you, what most motivates you, and so on. There are ten chapters, and we shall be covering one chapter a week until just before the Christmas holidays."
"Didn't we finish one for another class just last week?!" Ron hissed to Hermione and Harry.
"It isn't that awful, Ronald. It sounds exciting, actually," she whispered back. She began flipping through the book as soon as she had one, eager to begin. Ron made a face so Harry could see. Harry grinned.
"Depending upon what the chapter calls for, we will either work the spell given, write a reflection, or, in the case of chapter ten, use a potion. No one is exempt from this, and I mean no one." She gave the Slytherins a pointed look.
On the other side of the room, Draco rolled his eyes. He thought all this sounded like psycho-babble bullshit. He turned to the table of contents.
1 Predator of the Psyche: Facing the Dementor
2 Intuition: Trusting Your Gut Feeling
Yeah, thought Draco, well my "gut feeling" is telling me this is going to fuck me over royally.
"I have all the houses here," continued Tatoian, "because there will be no two people from the same house in a group."
There was instant grumbling.
"Oh, be quiet," said the professor playfully. "You'll live." She pulled a scroll from her desk, looking it over while nodding her head.
"Yes… all right. When I call your name, write down the names of those in your group, and the number of your group."
Draco partially tuned her out, turning lazily to watch Harry. The Boy-Who-Lived didn't seem to care much about this.
"Group One: Seamus Finnegan, Gregory Goyle, Hannah Abbott…"
Draco became relaxed, content just to be looking at the messy-haired boy. Much as he wanted that small chance of being paired with Harry, he highly doubted it would happen.
When Harry's name was called, Draco crossed his fingers. Maybe he'd get to work with Harry, but with another person in the group. That thought didn't phase him much. Time with Harry was still the same – he'd just have to keep up the usual appearance of animosity, was all.
"Group Four: Harry Potter, Samantha Moon, Terry Boot."
Draco made a face, but didn't comment, not that he would to any of his lot. The Slytherin was thankful that Boot was a womanizer in any case, and wouldn't go after Harry. That was when the question came into Draco's mind of Is Harry Potter even gay?
Draco hadn't even stopped to bother with this. He'd just assumed from that day on the Quidditch Pitch that when Harry seemed to respond to Draco's… advances, it meant Harry was gay. It was a mistake on Draco's part to go after the object of his affection like that, only to have toyed with him.
He didn't want to think about this, it involved too much soul searching. So he did what he was good at and repressed these thoughts, pushing them away to examine them when he had nothing better to do.
The class was starting to get restless, almost everyone now named.
"Everyone quiet, there are only two groups left! Group Eight: Hermione Granger and Draco Malfoy…"
The room was immediately silent, and Group Nine was able to hear their names easily. Everyone was looking between a red Hermione, and a disinterested Draco.
From the corner of his eye, Draco tried to gauge Harry's reaction. The Gryffindor seemed to be signaling his friend with significant looks. The Weasel looked to be murmuring words of comfort, and glaring at the slick blonde.
"A few last notes. When you meet together individually, I suggest somewhere devoid of other people. There are plenty of empty rooms in the castle, so I suggest you find one and mark it as your own. We'll all be meeting like this on Wednesdays. For the rest of the time, including today, use this class as a study period, or leisurely reading – I don't want to see anyone without something to do."
Now all Draco wanted to do was close his eyes and lay down on his cold bed in the dorm. But he decided to attempt being productive, and took out his Ancient Runes text to quiz himself.
Author's Note Sorry I haven't updated 'til now, and that it's such a short chapter. I promise, it may seem like filler, but shit's going down with this, so just try to bear with it. I'm also sorry that I don't typically respond to reviews – I just feel awkward about it, but I'm extremely appreciative to all of you. From now on, I promise to answer when you talk to me. And not just because Adica called me a wuss, either. I'm not so easily goaded. Well, I am, but – you get the idea.
For anyone who's curious about the groups, here they are…
1: Seamus Finnegan (G), Gregory Goyle (S), Hannah Abbott (H)
2: Neville Longbottom (G), Blaise Zabini (S), Susan Bones (H)
3: Millicent Bullstrode (S), Morag MacDougal (R), Sally-Anne Perkins (H)
4: Harry Potter (G), Samantha Moon (H), Terry Boot (R)
5: Lavender Brown (G), Padma Patil (R), Vincent Crabbe (S)
6: Ron Weasley (G), Pansy Parkinson (S), Justin Flinch-Fletchly (H)
7: Dean Thomas (G), Lisa Turpin (R), Theodore Nott (S)
8: Hermione Granger (G), Draco Malfoy (S)
9: Parvati Patil (G), Mandy Brocklehurst (R)