Ye Olde Disclaimer: I used to wish I could write a great novel, then I saw what the press and some fans do to famous people. I think I'll stick to fanfiction for now. Consequently, I don't lay any claim to Harry Potter or his world, nor do I make any money from this.
Ye Olde Author's Notes: This is just a fluffy piece with a twist, but it does contain some rather graphic language in a few spots and descriptions of adult activities. There is also some considerable Ron and Ginny Weasley bashing. If you don't like that kind of stuff, best to turn back now.
Ye Not-So-Olde Story:
Late one evening, Hermione and Harry were walking back from the library as their sixth year at Hogwarts ground inexorably through late winter and into early spring. They had been at loggerheads over some things during the year, to be certain, but they were still good friends. Ron was continuing his fling, or whatever it was, with Lavender and had no time for his two friends, nor did he seem to have time to study until the very last minute. Which is why the two of them were alone, having been in the library researching for a couple of essays due soon.
Hermione had often seemed quite upset over Ron and Lavender sucking face all over on a regular basis. For that matter, Harry wasn't exactly happy with it either. He and Ron had done a lot together with Hermione, and the redhead had expressed interest in their bushy haired friend to him on several occasions. Of his own perceived necessity, Harry had convinced himself she had feelings for Ron as well. It was for those reasons that Harry had held his own feelings in check for his very bright friend, and hoped he had never let on that he might think of her as other than a close friend. As well, he had, of course, spent considerable time, and still did on occasion, in convincing himself that Hermione had only ever thought of him in the same way; as a brother of sorts.
As a consequence of how he'd stifled his own feelings, and that he wanted his best female friend to be happy, he was often incensed now. It upset him immensely that the redheaded prat was ignoring the girl he, Harry, was fairly sure he loved, but would give up for the happiness of his two friends. He wondered though, on occasion, how the girl could still hold feelings for the insensitive prat, but hoped, for her sake, the fool would come to his senses soon.
As they walked along, the conversation ranged over their classes as it often did when coming from studying, though they studiously avoided the subject of potions. They had finally just decided to agree to disagree on the topic of his text for that class. He didn't understand why she refused to see it as anything other than a great study aid, one that had proven itself over and over. But she still thought of it as cheating and dangerous to be using something of which he had no idea as to its history. Had he even known who had written in it she would have been more accepting, she assured him.
As they neared an unused classroom not far from Gryffindor Tower they heard noises from within, sort of like someone scuffling. The door was not quite latched, as if someone had entered in a big hurry and not completely closed it. As well, they thought they heard a grunting groan, as of someone in pain. Harry pulled out his wand, as did Hermione upon seeing his movements, and they carefully approached the almost closed entry. From within they could hear the low murmur of two voices, and one seemed to be pleading.
Then, just as Harry was reaching for the door handle, a very familiar female voice said loudly, "Well you selfish fucking bastard." That stopped Harry's hand and both of them froze.
Another, even more familiar male voice, yelled back, louder than the girl, "What do you mean selfish? What the bloody hell else is it you want?"
Neither Harry, nor Hermione could understand what the problem could be, but it sounded like it could wind up in bloodshed. They didn't want to intrude, however, so they stayed a few feet from the door ready to help if need be. The next exchange had them even more baffled.
The girl's voice was nearly screeching when she answered, "What the bloody hell do I want? You selfish prig! I want my turn, dammit!"
"What the fuck do you mean, your fucking turn?" was the angry reply.
Harry and Hermione stepped toward the door again, as it sounded like this was a lot worse than the lovers' spat they had at first assumed it to be. However, as they carefully eased open the door just enough for both to see in, the sight that met them caused both to freeze again. But this time it was in shock, and left both their mouths hanging uncharacteristically open while they blushed mightily.
Lavender Brown was perched on a desk, legs dangling off, with her knickers around one ankle and her robes undone. She was hiding none of her rather considerable assets. The other occupant of the room, one Ronald Weasley, was standing just in front of her with his pants around his ankles, and his robes also blowing in the breeze and showing his not too impressive asset. Said breeze seemed to be coming off the rather irate witch. But, before either of the intruders could move, collect their wits to leave the scene, or even clear a throat, the yelling began afresh.
Lavender stated in no uncertain terms, "You daft prick, how could you not know that women come too? Are you that fucking insensitive to the needs of others? Didn't you bother reading the book I KNOW you got the summer before third year? The book all Purebloods are required to receive by law?"
"What the fuck are you talking about? I read that book, I had to. My dad sat right there and watched me, you silly bint. It didn't say shite about women coming. Why would they need to?"
By now the gobsmacked duo had managed to return the door to its former almost closed position and back away, each wishing they could remove from his or her mind the scene they had just witnessed. They could not, of course, nor could they make themselves leave. It was like watching a train wreck in slow motion, so they stood by the hinge side of the door listening.
"You really are a piece of work," Lavender continued. "No wonder your grades suck. I've no idea why Granger's put up with you for so long. It's obvious to those of us who know you, that you only hang around her when your grades are slipping or you need your homework checked. Why she thinks of you as a friend, I'll never know. Do you even know how to read? Don't you remember what was in that fucking book, you MORON? It says quite clearly that women come too, and it's even more intense than men's, dickhead."
"You're full of shite, you stupid cunt. It says no such thing. It only said that people have something called an orajammy, or orajismy, or some such shite. Never did say what the fuck that was. You're so fucked in the head you don't even know what it says yourself."
Harry heard Hermione stifle a giggle, and had to hold in a laugh at that one himself. He hadn't even seen the book the were talking about and knew that much.
Lavender laughed loudly at that. "It's ORGASM, you stupid, stupid little boy. WHAT THE FUCK DO YOU THINK A FUCKING ORGASM IS? That means coming, you shite-for-brains! I'll bet you didn't ask your father a single damn question about it, did you?"
"Why the fuck should I? I understood everything in there, some of which was shite I sure as hell don't fucking need to know either; that stuff about girls' flows and shite. That was fucking stupid to give a boy to read about."
"Merlin!" She said explosively, then yelled again, "YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THAT SO YOU KNOW WHY THINGS HAPPEN THE WAY THEY DO, YOU FUCKING MORON. How goddamn dense are you? One thing is for sure, though, this is the only fucking time you'll see this pussy, peabrain. Call me a bint and a cunt will you; tell me I'm fucked in the head... By this time tomorrow every girl in the castle will know how fucking stupid you are. You'll be lucky to even get a girl to look at you without laughing, let alone go out with your stupid arse."
"You're full of shite, Brown. You think I didn't see Granger mooning over me the past couple months. All I gotta do is be nice to her and I'll be going out with her in a week's time. I'll probably be in her knickers inside two weeks. You just watch. She may not be all that good looking, like you, but her body ain't bad and I'm sure even bookworms have got all the right equipment." He sounded like he was sneering as badly as Malfoy.
Harry heard a soft gasp followed by a sob from next to him. But before she could bolt, as he knew she was about to, he grabbed Hermione in the first hug he'd ever initiated with anyone and pulled her back from the door a bit. He first of all wanted to comfort her, but he also didn't want the two inside to know they'd been listening. That could get ugly.
She began sobbing silently into his chest, her whole body shaking, as the conversation in the room continued, albeit not quite as loudly as before. Slowly her arms went around his waist and she held onto him as if her life depended on it.
Lavender said mockingly, "Yeah, right. You fucking dipshit. Did you not hear what I said about EVERY GIRL? Bookworm or not, she is my dorm mate and you can bet your sorry arse she'll know what you just said. Fuck, come to think of it, I bet you only hang around Potter for the reflected glory of his fame. Must be great knowing you're the buffoon sidekick of the Boy-Who-Lived." Her sarcasm was as thick as honey, and Harry could hear the rustling of clothes, as the two apparently got dressed again.
"Not exactly," Ron replied just as sarcastically. Then he went on, sounding somewhat amused now as well as sardonic, "I used to think we were going to be best mates forever, but then he got all high and mighty, got into the tournament, started cutting us out of shite, and then dragged us off to the ministry and all that other stupid shite he's done. I hang around him mostly because he hangs around Granger and I need the grades."
They heard footsteps and her voice getting closer to the door as she replied, "You're pathetic, and a complete fool. And so is your sister for playing games. Shite; going out with others in a pathetic attempt to make Harry jealous? Puhlease!" Then her footsteps paused for a moment and she apparently turned back to Ron. She said mockingly "Oh, and as for your sweet and innocent little sister? I've heard her brag about how jealous he's getting. I just hope she gets caught out before she dumps Thomas and makes a play for Harry. She's as fucking stupid as you are. You better tell her to be more careful, as well. I hope she's on the potion, 'cause I saw her, Dean, and Seamus all going at it last week."
"WHAT? YOU'RE LYING!" came Ron's enraged sounding reply.
"Nope, I stumbled on 'em in a classroom, just like we were here… and never will be again." She snorted derisively, then went on snidely, telling him, "Dean had her bent over pumping her quim for all he was worth while she sucked off Seamus. And it wasn't by force that's for damn sure. She was thoroughly enjoying all of it. Better tell them to watch themselves, or they will get caught." Then, laughing mockingly at his enraged spluttering, she threw the door open forcefully.
Luckily, Harry and Hermione were behind the door and next to the wall. He held her tightly, protectively, and held out an arm to keep the door from hitting them. Lavender stalked swiftly the other way down the hall, obviously not noticing them.
She had apparently kept Ron off balance enough that he still had to finish getting dressed again, judging by the cloth rustling sounds they heard. But moments later a very red Weasley left the room and failed, as well, to see the couple behind the door.
Harry thought that the lousy rat not noticing them was fortuitous for all concerned. Undoubtedly the git would have had to further prove his lack of sense and intelligence by yelling something idiotic at them; probably blaming his now former friends for what just happened. Harry would likely have then hexed him into oblivion, right after breaking his jaw with a well place upper cut. Hermione, naturally, would have first slapped him silly, before pulling some esoteric and long-forgotten hex out of her prodigious memory. The inane fool would very likely have required an extended stay in the hospital wing to recover from the experience. And the other two would probably have had detention for the rest of the school year.
For several minutes Harry just held his friend as she cried, sobbing uncontrollably, but still quietly, against him. In his own chest, the creature that had kept coming to life every time he saw Ginny with Dean, curled up, whimpered, and died painfully. He felt almost like crying himself. He'd never be able to look at Ginny again without the scene Lavender had described playing in his mind. Then, as his anger flared, a loud rushing sound filled his hearing and his vision narrowed slightly. He closed his eyes, trying to regain his composure, while hanging onto Hermione tightly. He was drawing as much support and comfort from her as he was providing.
After a time, he came back to himself, Hermione calmed down, and Harry pulled a clean handkerchief from his book bag to offer her. Hermione took it with a shaky hand while still leaning against him, wiped her face, and softly blew her nose. She then looked up at him with sad eyes.
"Why?" She asked plaintively.
Harry knew what she was asking but could only answer, "I don't know… I… I thought we knew him, that he was our friend. But then as nearly as I can tell I've only really had a few friends my whole life. Come to think of it, seems I've only one close friend and that is you, Hermione.
She smiled a watery smile at him, but looked surprised. "Really, Harry? Am I your only good friend?"
"Well, I guess Neville and Luna can be counted as friends, but not close ones. For certain those other two worms in my dorm will never be friends, though it isn't really their fault I suppose… Fred and George acted like friends for a few years, though after what we just learned about… the youngest two… redheads… I'm kind of questioning all Weasleys for now." Harry was having a hard time not swearing.
"And then there is you, Hermione, you've been my friend since first year. You've stuck by me through everything. We've had our arguments and whatnot, but it has always been you who was there for me; who cared about me. Yes, even about the silly broom." He grinned self-deprecatingly at the last comment. "I think that makes you my best friend, as well."
"Thanks, Harry," her smile was a little less watery now, though rather tentative. "You're definitely my best friend, as well, and for mostly the same reasons. I never told you, but after I told McGonagall about the broom, and then you got so mad at me, I felt I really should have talked to you alone, without Ron there, before I went to her. I think you'd have been more reasonable about seeing the possible danger and at least talked to McGonagall or Flitwick about it; without Ron's interference, that is. I never did do this, but I want to apologize now for that."
Harry smiled softly at her, suddenly realizing how much prettier she'd gotten since last year, and she'd been quite attractive then. He had to clear his throat to say. "I should have listened to you and ignored Ron on that, so no apology needed, but it is accepted. In fourth year when he was so mad at me, I shouldn't have taken him back and I should have been nicer to you as well. You might not have been as much fun as Ron was in some ways, but at least you never got jealous of me. He's done that too many times. And after the way he just talked about you, well, both of us, I can never be friends with him again. He might have said those things in anger, but he still said them."
"Yes, he did," she replied sadly, "I'm not sure what to do now though. Tomorrow morning he's going to want to be pals with us again. What do we do?"
Harry thought for a couple of moments, then grinned maliciously. "We take a page out of the Weasley personal relationship manual and cross it with the deviousness of the Marauders, that's what."
He then quietly explained his idea, she came back with a couple of suggestions, and they batted ideas around briefly. But it took them only a few moments to agree on a course of action which was fairly simple, but should prove quite effective. They continued on toward Gryffindor tower then, sporting rather wicked smiles and equally wicked gleams in their eyes.
The following morning Harry and Hermione met half an hour earlier than they normally did and walked swiftly from Gryffindor tower. As they made their way to their first destination, she asked, "Was he up yet?"
"Nah," was his amused reply, "he was still snoring like always. He'll come rushing in about fifteen or twenty minutes before the end of breakfast complaining that I didn't wake him, just like always."
Snickering, she smiled at her best friend ever, saying, "I guess I shouldn't laugh, but he is so predictable. It should be fun, and somehow satisfying I think, so I do hope his tart of a sister is on time as well."
"Yeah," he laughed darkly, "I do, too." Brightening, he asked, "You get it all prepared, alright?"
"Yes, we just have to put the charms on when we get there."
"Good," he smiled and winked at her. He was very glad to have such a very smart best friend. He expected the old saying, that revenge is a dish best served cold, would shortly be quite appropriate. It was fairly well assured the two dinguses were going to be getting the cold shoulder from just about everyone for quite a while.
It only took a few minutes at their initial destination to get things prepared. Having set up the first part of their revenge, they went on to breakfast to await the main event. What they planned would enlighten a lot of people, not to mention embarrass the two who had earned it by being complete berks.
In the Great Hall, Harry and Hermione were among the earliest arrivals. Having their pick of spots they chose to sit at the end nearest the head table, which was generally somewhat quieter. Not even many of the staff were there yet. The two took their time over their meal, glancing at each other often, and trying not to smile too much or to break out laughing in anticipation. By way of diversion, they talked quietly about things that they were looking forward to, and how well they would get along without the distractions of two certain people in their lives.
After they finished their leisurely breakfast, she suggested they get something out to study so as to keep themselves occupied, since they would be waiting quite some time. It was unusual for Harry to read at breakfast, but he'd done so on occasion and even more so the last couple of months. If anyone asked he could always say he was trying to bring his marks up, which was quite true.
About half way through the ninety minute breakfast period Ginny and Dean strolled in arm in arm, with Seamus just behind. Harry didn't notice them until Hermione touched his arm, and when he did look it was plain that the Irish boy's gaze was firmly fixated on the redhead's bum. Her hips seemed to be swaying rather more than normal as well, as if she was tantalizing him. Harry reflected that the guy never could keep the lust off his face when he was remembering or imagining something. Harry wondered which it was, but the spectacle seemed to corroborate what they'd heard about her last night. The trio settled in toward the end of the table nearest the doors, the two wizards bracketing the red haired witch.
There were several empty places between that trio and anyone else at the table, and no one across from them. But, the space around them was not all that unusual since the tables were never full in the morning. Still, it was fairly obvious they'd chosen that location for the modicum of privacy it afforded. They seemed quite pleased with the arrangement and were conversing in low tones. She blushed at something, then giggled and threw a piece of toast at Seamus. He leered at her and whispered something else, and she touched his arm, leaning against him for a moment and smiling fondly as she replied softly. That was all Harry needed, to be sure of the truth, though he'd no reason to doubt what Lavender had said the night before.
When Neville walked in shortly after that and scanned the table, he quickly spotted Harry and Hermione, bypassing the three lovebirds without a glance. As he most often was for meals, he was soon seated across from the two unknown pranksters who were among the few he counted as friends. They all smiled as they greeted one another. The pair paused in their reading for some idle chitchat with the new arrival. He didn't seem too surprised that they were sitting so closely together, merely got a knowing look on his face. The young Longbottom scion had changed a lot in the last six years, and had learned to take in his surroundings without necessarily commenting on them.
While Neville dug into his breakfast, opening a book on advanced Herbology, the other two went back to their own reading. Shortly after that the whoosh of owls entering en-mass was heard, and the three friends glanced up, as most did upon hearing that. Hedwig came down, seeming to be miffed a bit that she'd not had much to do lately; at least that is what anyone else would have thought. She landed on Harry's shoulder closest to Hermione, as if seeking moral support from her, and looked at him balefully.
Harry, knowing why she was not best pleased this morning, mollified his feathered friend by handing her a rasher of bacon and saying, "Hermione will have a letter to send in the next day or two, I think, Hed. I'm really sorry I haven't had much for you to do lately, but it will get better soon, I promise." His animal friend looked at him for a moment, still working on the bacon, before swivelling her head to gaze at the girl next to him.
Hermione smiled, and told her, "That's right, Hedwig. I'm going to write a nice long letter to my parents this evening. Would you be so good as to take it to them for me?" The owl bobbed her head almost as enthusiastically as Dobby would have, causing both her favourite humans and Neville to chuckle. "You're such a smart girl," Hermione added. She reached up to stroke the owl's chest as Hedwig puffed out her feathers and started preening, getting more chuckles from the three young people.
Neville, still smiling from their shared amusement, commented, "Harry, she has to be the smartest owl ever. We've had really good owls all my life, but none like her. You sure got lucky."
Looking first at Hedwig, who had taken the praise quite in stride and was still preening, then across at the other young man, Harry told him, "I think you're quite right, Neville. At times she has been the only friend I've had to hand, and has been more than a pet then. She seems to know my needs, as well, and has even turned up at Hermione's when she wanted to send me something." Under the table, out of sight, the couple gripped hands for a moment in knowing support of each other.
Hermione agreed, and told of some of those instances. The three discussed Hedwig, and post owls in general for a couple of minutes, then returned to their reading.
True to form and prediction, Ron came skidding into the Great Hall less than twenty minutes before the end of breakfast. He plopped down next to Neville and snarled at Harry, "How come you didn't wake me up, mate?" He was, naturally, using the demanding tone of voice that drove both his now ex-friends buggy. As he dumped enough food onto his plate for three normal people, he went on with more inanity adding, "I nearly missed breakfast, and it woulda been your fault. Hell, Harry, I mighta been late for class. Don't ever forget again, will ya?" He shovelled and stuffed food into his mouth, chewing noisily, and looked expectantly at Harry. The latter studiously ignored him for the moment, while Neville gaped at the temerity of the prat. Harry then pointed upward as something happened.
That was when one of two owls dove out of the rafters at a surreptitious wand gesture from Hermione. It headed for Ms Super-Fan-Girl, aka She-Who-Sluts, and dropped a smoking red envelope, on her plate. The owl streaked for the owl exit from the Great Hall apparently knowing what it had delivered. Even Hedwig beat a hasty retreat on seeing what it carried. Harry looked up and saw that the other owl still up in the rafters seemed to be cringing. He didn't blame it.
Hermione, ever the thoughtful one, quickly cast muffling charms on both their ears and Neville's to insulate them from the impending noise. Harry thought he saw her do one for the remaining owl as well. Neville nodded his thanks. Across the room, Nott stood up and yelled, "Go ahead and open it Weaselette, we want to hear what your cow of a mother has to say today." With that he sat back down and covered his ears, as did most of the rest of the students and staff members. Malfoy oddly remained silent, though he was smirking just as much as Nott. Most of the Slytherins were laughing uproariously, of course, as were many others in the Great Hall.
With shaky hands Ginny gingerly picked up the envelope, looking both mortified and mystified. The former emotional state was about to take over and become dominant for some time. It was clear she had no idea what this could possibly be about, but she was about to be enlightened whether she wanted to or not. Her trembling fingers opened the envelope, which exploded in sound as she dropped it to the table.
At least two voices bellowed in unison, which oddly masked the owners' identities, "GINEVRA MOLLY WEASLEY, HAVE YOU NO SHAME?" The voices gave nasty laughs. "OBVIOUSLY NOT, WHEN YOU TEASE THE YOUNG MAN WHO WOULD GLADLY HAVE GIVEN YOU HIS HEART LAST FALL. HOW PATHETIC YOU ARE, IN YOUR SILLY ATTEMPT TO MAKE HIM JEALOUS BY GOING OUT WITH OTHERS. BUT REALLY, GIN-GIN, GOING AT IT WITH TWO BOYS AT ONCE? YOU REALLY DO HAVE NO STANDARDS OR MORALS, DO YOU? NOTHING LIKE SCREWING UP IN A VERY BIG WAY, FANGIRL. IN CONSOLATION, THOUGH, YOU'LL BE VERY POPULAR WITH THE OTHER BOYS NOW. SHOULD BE NO PROBLEM TO GET LOADS OF DATES, AS LONG AS YOU'RE WILLING TO KEEP PUTTING OUT. LOOKS LIKE YOU'RE TOO MUCH LIKE YOUR YOUNGEST BROTHER WHEN IT COMES TO OTHER PEOPLE'S FEELINGS." More nasty laughs faded into the silence that followed.
That silence had barely descended on the hall, when Michael Corner got up and stalked out, giving Ginny a withering, disgusted glare. His look said all too clearly that either he didn't get any the year before, or it wasn't more than once or twice. Harry wondered if he'd been the first and thought he probably was. Hermione immediately lifted the muffling charm so they could hear any reactions. But she waited only a moment as the dead silence continued, and with a surreptitious gesture from her the second owl descended on Mr I'm-So-Clueless-I-Need-Help-Dressing. It dropped its identical cargo on top of the huge pile on his plate and beat as equally hasty a retreat as its brethren.
Mr Clueless was busily gaping at Ginny, whose face was buried in her hands, though what was visible was glowing bright red. However, his attention was brought to his own ominously smoking missive when Neville said, "Better open that, Weasley, you know what happens when you don't."
Harry saw Neville cast his own muffling charm on himself this time, as Hermione reapplied the one to the two of them. Harry and Neville put up shield charms just in case, which was fortunate for all three.
The gobsmacked, slow-witted redhead just stared at the now dangerously darkening envelope, until it exploded in front of him moments later, spraying him with food. Harry, Hermione, and Neville were spared the indignity, thanks to their shields. Ron, of course, was rather too preoccupied at the moment to notice he was covered with the remains of his breakfast, as the Howler roared in those same, oddly obscured multiple voices, "RONALD BILIUS WEASLEY, HOW DARE YOU TAKE ADVANTAGE OF A GIRL, GET YOUR ROCKS OFF, AND NOT GIVE HER A TURN. YOU REALLY ARE A DAFT PRICK, NOT TO KNOW THAT GIRLS HAVE ORGASMS. AND THAT IS NOT TO MENTION HOW YOU SPEAK OF YOUR TWO SUPPOSED BEST FRIENDS. ONE WOULD THINK YOU FEEL THE WORLD SHOULD BE HANDED TO YOU ON A SILVER PLATTER. GUESS WHAT; THE SILVER PLATTER IS PAPER AND IS ABOUT TO BURN UP WITH THIS HOWLER. LIFE WILL CERTAINLY BE MORE LONELY NOW, WON-WON. HOW MANY FRIENDS DO YOU THINK YOU HAVE LEFT? HOW MANY GIRLS WILL GO OUT WITH A SELF-CENTERED PRAT LIKE YOU FROM HERE ON? GOOD GO, LOSER."
Ron seemed barely conscious, was just staring at the smoking hole in his breakfast, as Lavender stalked up a moment later, looking righteously cheesed off, and leaned down to him. In a soft, but very angry voice that only he, Harry, Hermione and Neville could hear, she said, "Way to go, ace. I guess someone was listening at the door last night. One day, if you ever get laid again, I do hope you at least try to learn what a lady likes." In a normal voice she added, "Might be good to read that book again, if you didn't throw it away, loser." She then spun on her heel, and as she walked off, she announced to the room in a clear voice "I like that; Loser Weasley, has a nice ring to it." She paused for a second, then, looked back over her shoulder, and said derisively, "On second thought, I think I'll start calling you Mo-Ron. Yeah, I like that. Mo-Ron Weasley. Seems to fit oh so well, doesn't it?" She got a round of applause, mostly from the girls present.
At the same time, farther down the table, Ginny was losing it, tears of anger and embarrassment rolling down her face. Dean and Seamus had both scooted away a little and were glaring daggers at her. Finally, in a loud hiss, which was clear to most in the largely silent Great Hall, she demanded "Who did you tell, you bloody wankers?"
Both boys, however, looked at her like she was trash, and Dean said, "We didn't say a word to anyone. Shite, woman, we aren't stupid enough to screw up a good thing. So the question is, who were you bragging to, you slag. How many others you been doing since the school year started. I really wasn't the first was I? And it sounds like Seamus wasn't the latest either." The two young men rose as one and joined Lavender in stalking angrily toward the doors.
Before any of them could reach the exit, however, Professor McGonagall stood and loudly called, "HALT, YOU THREE!" Somewhat quieter, she commanded, "Miss Brown, Mr Thomas, Mr Finnegan, and you, Mr Weasley and Miss Weasley, will accompany me to my office. It is quite clear you are all involved in this shameful breach of decorum." The obviously quite angry professor then ended by demanding, "And I want to know who it was sent those howlers!"
Professor Flitwick added his two Knut's worth, saying amusedly, "I want to know as well, that was some impressive charms work."
Minerva only glared at her fellow professor, but Harry and Hermione could have sworn her lips twitched at the corners. A glance at the aging and ailing headmaster showed his eyes twinkling slightly and his lips, moustache, and beard twitching as well, though the rest of his countenance remained stern.
As McGonagall started from her place at the head table, Harry and Hermione got up, avoided even looking at their former friend, and casually strolled toward the doors, holding hands as if they'd been doing so for years. For them, it felt as natural as walking, it also felt great to so casually reveal their new relationship which had started the night before thanks to their serendipitous eavesdropping. They didn't have to say a thing, nor did anyone else at first, though they found Ginny's glare rather entertaining.
They were expecting an explosion from the other twit, and sure enough they were barely half way down the table when the dippy dork, now aka Mo-Ron Weasley, finally got his mouth in gear, without also engaging his brain, as usual. "What… What… What the bloody hell do you two think you're doing? Holding hands like you're going out? How long…? How damn long has this been going on? Oh, I see you two've been going behind my back – behind Ginny's back. You bloody damned arses have really torn it this time." He then proved his complete lack of common sense and low intelligence by sneering, "Don't come crawling to me asking for my friendship back, it's bloody well over between us, you traitors."
The pair turned and looked calmly at him, shaking their heads. Harry's voice was as cold and hard as steel in a Siberian January, when he said "I beg your pardon, Mr Weasley," but I seem to recall that until apparently this morning you were dating Miss Brown. Why should our relationship have any bearing on you or your… sister? She," he glanced with loathing over his shoulder at the girl, "seems to have been dating at least two of our classmates."
In the same bitterly cold tone he went on, "And as for any friendship between us, Mr Weasley, I have it on good authority that ended on Halloween of our fourth year when my name came out of that blasted goblet and you let jealousy override any thoughts of friendship. If you even think about crawling to either of us asking forgiveness, you had best hope you don't get hexed into the next century." They then turned, and just as calmly continued walking, ignoring the redheaded girl still at the table and the three people they passed near the doors.
Even Professor McGonagall had paused, at the searing iciness of his tone, in her march from the head table to collect her errant house members. She thought that one could practically feel the room chilling. There was a smug smile hidden behind her customary stern look, as she continued on with her unpleasant task. It was good, she felt, that at least some good had apparently come out of this quite disturbing event.
Arriving behind the redheaded boy, she told him, "That will be twenty points for your horrid language Mr Weasley, along with a week's detention with Mr Filch. Now get yourself moving before I find more punishment for you."
The new couple continued gripping each other's hands tightly, in mutual reassurance, as they then left the Great Hall. Walking silently to their first class, Harry used the better of the two memories from the prior evening to help avoid laughing out loud at the looks on the redheaded fools' faces. From the serene appearance of Hermione's countenance, and somewhat glazed look in her eyes, she was doing the same. They each were happily remembering what had happened, the conversation they'd had, while returning to the common room the night before. It occurred shortly after they'd decided on the prank they had just pulled so successfully.
The previous evening, after Lavender and Ron-the-rat had gone, Hermione and Harry eventually regained their composures and made their way back to the tower. However, as they neared the tower, he told her, "Erm, Hermione, I don't know if this is the right time to tell you this. But I want to say something that I hope might make you feel a little bit better."
She looked at him quizzically, though with sad eyes, and asked softly, "What is it, Harry?"
It came out haltingly, but with feeling, he said "Erm, ah, that is to say, I want you to know… that if Ron… if he hadn't told me a couple times that he was… interested in you… I probably would have asked you out last year, even before Cho cried all over me. Maybe even in fourth year… to the ball."
The young witch stopped dead, gaping at her handsome wizard friend. She almost never gaped, but this was indeed an announcement she had never expected.
Misinterpreting her actions, as usual, he stopped just beyond, and still facing away from her, stared at his shoes for a moment. Then he mumbled, "I'm sorry, I shouldn't have said that. I know you don't feel like that about me, I just wanted you to know someone thinks you're pretty and a great person, and that I would have been honoured to go out with you."
Finally regaining the ability of speech, which almost never left her, she asked with great warmth in her voice, "Are you asking me out, Harry? Are you saying you'd still like to go out with me?" She then thought, "Please, please, please say that you are."
Catching her tone of voice Harry looked up, and turned back to face his best friend. Smiling shyly he told her, still haltingly, "Ah, erm, yes… Yes, I guess I am. Would you…" he cleared his throat, "go with me on the next Hogwarts weekend, Hermione?"
Then the young witch attacked, throwing herself against him in a hug tighter than any they'd shared before. She pressed her whole body against his, even dropping her book bag rather than setting it down carefully. "Yes, Harry, yes, yes, yes," she said into his shoulder, smiling fit to burst. "And just so you know, that makes me feel a lot better."
"I'm glad," he smiled very happily into her hair, as his arms once more held her tightly, and yet more tenderly than ever before. "You've always meant a lot to me, but I never wanted to get in the way of your happiness. I really thought you wanted to go out with Ron."
They eventually released the full body hug after having enjoyed it long enough to partially awaken a certain portion of Harry's anatomy which would have soon embarrassed him to no end. After picking up her bag Hermione latched onto his arm as a substitute for the hug and held them closely together as they continued along the hallway.
"It's nearly curfew, so we better hurry," she told him in a tone which clearly said, even to his clueless male mind, she would have preferred saying to hell with curfew. But, she was a prefect, and he knew how important that was to her, so they would obey the rules.
As they walked, in a voice laden with soft emotion, she related, "Truth is, Harry, I really wanted to go out with you, too, since third year actually. I so wished it was Ron who was stuck in the castle that year instead of you. I just didn't think you liked me that way at all, especially with the way I've acted this year." Then she smacked herself on the forehead and muttered the usual, "How could I have been so stupid?" She looked up at him, and queried, "Dursleys, right?"
"Huh?" He answered not-so-intelligently.
"You have no idea what feelings of love are, do you? The only warmth and affection you've ever felt have been with people in the Wizarding World. You had no idea how to show you cared for me. Am I right?"
"Yeah, I guess you are. I'm sorry I couldn't tell you sooner, Hermione."
"I'm sorry too, Harry. I should have figured that out sooner. We both know now, so no real harm done. Just means we might have gotten together sooner, but this is still great. Erm," she uncharacteristically paused in her speaking, stopping them a few yards from the portrait of the fat lady. She turned to face him, standing very close and holding both his hands. Her voice grew even softer, and tentative, as she said "Er, Harry, I know the guy usually does this, but it seems to me that as long as we've known each other, we could skip a few steps. If you wouldn't mind too terribly, that is… Er, ah, Harry, would you like me to be your girlfriend?"
It was Harry's turn to be stunned. He looked at his lovely bushy-haired friend and worked his mouth a few times. It took a few seconds, but he finally was able to clear his throat and ask, "Would you, erm, would you like me to be your boyfriend, Hermione? Would you really?" To her he sounded almost like a lost little boy.
"Yes, Harry, without any doubt. I want to be your girlfriend; I want you to be my boyfriend; I want us to be together, a couple."
Lovingly wrapping her in his arms again, and pulling her close, he replied, "Then that is exactly what I want too. I guess we can't break the news to the carrot topped git or anyone until after breakfast tomorrow, but then should do. Hmm, that could cap our prank off right nicely, don't you think?" She laughed, and stretched up toward his lips as he leaned down, and they shared their first, very sweet, kiss, one laden with promises of many more to come.
It seemed like a long time before the fat lady cleared her throat and announced, "It is now curfew time. Unless you two want to chance getting caught, you had best get inside."
Harry gave the password absent-mindedly, as they approached with eyes only for each other, then ushered his new girlfriend through the portrait hole. His mind was, understandably, a bit befuddled by the first kiss they'd ever shared, not to mention what they had just decided. Inside, they touched hands in parting and said good night as they normally would, each going up their respective dormitory stairs. Before getting out of sight of each other, though, they stopped for one last longing look between them. That night they both had very pleasant dreams, though his were a bit messier than hers; not that she didn't need clean knickers in the morning, herself.
After lunch that day, Hermione and Harry were preparing to leave following their Transfiguration class, when Professor McGonagall quietly asked them to stay behind. The talk of the school was still the two Howlers of that morning, and naturally the rumour mill was going full tilt. They could hear various theories being traded among the other students who were leaving.
While the new couple had sat where they always had, in front of the professor's desk, Mo-Ron had been at the back, quite alone, no one even to either side, as it seemed not a soul, even other boys, wanted to be anywhere near him at present. From the itchy feeling in their backs he was apparently staring daggers at them, though they were wholly unconcerned.
Earlier in the year, despite that it seemed strange at first, Harry had been delighted to find that by studying almost exclusively with Hermione, and without the constant poor influence of the redheaded twit, he had actually begun understanding things a lot better. Transfiguration and Charms especially were coming much easier for him. He hoped that the reason the professor was holding them after was about his improvement in class and how Hermione had helped him in that.
His hopes were quickly dashed by the professor as soon as the other students had all left and the door closed behind the last one. He wasn't, however, entirely sure he wanted to talk with his head of house about what had happened.
McGonagall was standing in front of her desk, leaning back against it, as she gave the two of them a look that said they were not in trouble but they had best tell the truth. First she cast a silencing charm on the door, then bent towards them, hands on her thighs. In a low voice she asked, "It was the two of you who sent the howlers, wasn't it?" While phrased as a question, her tone made it a statement.
Harry looked at his girlfriend for a moment of silent communication, before looking back at the professor. He noted the quizzically amused expression on the professor's face as he replied, "Yes, Hermione wrote them, though I helped with the wording, and we did the charms together so it was both our voices." Hermione nodded along with her boyfriend, smiling warmly at him.
McGonagall now straightened up and crossed her arms. That these two could communicate so well without words had amazed her for several years now. She smiled and told them, still quietly, "Professor Flitwick was very impressed, and told me in no uncertain terms to find out who had done that, even if we were both fairly sure it was the two of you. I can't say I've ever heard of two people's voices being in a howler before, and he said the same."
Harry grinned, and Hermione blushed some. She said softly, "I didn't know you couldn't, or weren't supposed to be able to do that. I remembered reading briefly about them the first time Ron got one, but didn't go into it too deeply, just remembered the charm. We looked it up just before lunch today to find out what Professor Flitwick meant; I'm still not sure why it worked as it did."
Harry's smile widened as he looked from his favourite witch to their professor and stated, "That's my Hermione, always coming up with the unexpected. We simply cast them at exactly the same time."
The professor smiled at her two currently favourite students and told them, "Nevertheless, Filius asked me to award twenty-five points to each of you for your excellent charms. I think I'll add another twenty to you Miss Granger for your inventiveness. Unfortunately," she added darkly, "it only partially offsets the thirty points apiece I removed this morning from your house mates, and the extra twenty from Mr Weasley." Her smile returned, however, because of Harry's reference to "his Hermione". She asked, "I take it you two are a couple now?"
After once more sharing a quick look at each other and a brief smile, Hermione replied, "Yes, Professor, since last night, and we are both extremely happy about it. In fact it feels as natural as anything I've ever done."
Harry just nodded, smiling at the girl he now realized he'd loved for a long time. He wondered why he'd not been able to see how she felt for him until the previous night. But, he also realized it didn't matter because they had each other now. He just hoped it would last a very long time.
McGonagall said, "I'm very pleased for you two, and think you make a fine couple. However, I'd like to ask something that may be a bit distressing, but I'd greatly appreciate an answer. How is it that you learned of the indiscretions and such of the two who were the subjects of your excellent prank this morning?" She laughed at the incredulous looks on their faces for a moment. "Oh don't be so shocked, even we teachers can enjoy a good prank now and then. If it happens to be retribution for something, whether great or small, and is in proportion to what was done, then we see little harm in it; so long as it doesn't go too far, of course."
Hermione's hand trembled a bit, and Harry saw she was in fact slightly upset at remembering what had happened the night before. He knew it would be harder for her, so he chose to answer. "Professor, we were returning to the common room from the library near curfew time, and heard a scuffle in a classroom not far from the tower." He went on to detail, as best he could recall, what they had seen and heard.
McGonagall's face clouded as she considered all that he'd said, but then she brightened knowing it was not in any way the fault of the two before her. "I think you were very restrained, frankly, in how you responded," she told them. "Thank you for not making it worse than that. I think you have proven your point, taken your revenge, and I hope that will be the end of it."
The two looked at one another again, and Hermione answered this time, although her voice shook slightly with emotion. "We don't want to start a war with those people, we only wish for them to leave us alone. I am very sorry this happened, but I'm also happy it did now, before something worse might have."
The elderly professor had seen many similar situations in her forty years of teaching and knew it would eventually blow over. She told them as much, smiling as the realization that this was indeed the truth came to their eyes and faces. They both smiled while voicing their acceptance of what she said.
Hermione's expression darkened a bit then, and she asked, "Professor, last night Lavender mentioned a book that all Purebloods get, by law, before the start of third year. It sounded like it dealt with… the facts of life, if you will. Could you tell me why they get that and the rest of us don't?"
A dark cloud seemed to descend over the mood of the older witch then, and she told them, "That, my dears, is something I and many other professors here have fought over with Headmaster Dumbledore and the Board of Governors, and even the Ministry, for many years. We keep bringing it up, nearly every year, and we always get shot down. I swear to you, that if I ever become headmistress of this school I will ensure that all students get that booklet if I have to pay for the extra ones myself. At least once each year there is some boy or girl, or both, who come to one of us with a problem of some kind related to not knowing. Unfortunately it is usually an unplanned or unwanted pregnancy. Muggles mostly do a better job of explaining to their children than we do without that booklet, but not all, it would seem. I would also make sure there was always someone on staff available who could accurately, and without causing undue embarrassment, answer questions any children might have."
Hermione was outraged that the bias of the Wizarding World should extend to something as important as this, but said nothing, until she could do so without yelling, or acting in anger. She had learned her lesson on such things with the House Elves issue and that had taken a lecture from both Harry and Dobby a couple of months prior to set her straight.
All three of them became quiet for a few moments, then Harry asked, "Would it be possible for me to… get one of those, ma'am." He was as red as he could be, but admitted, "I know very little, only what I hear in the dorms and such. I doubt that is really very accurate."
Minerva smiled at her young friend, saying, "Of course Mr Potter, I do have a few in my office. Stop by later and I'll give it to you. I assure you that what you hear is, as you say, usually quite inaccurate."
"Thank you, professor," he replied.
She then asked, "Hermione, would you like one as well?"
The girl blushed as heartily as her boyfriend, but admitted, "I can borrow Harry's when he's done with it, if he won't mind." She glanced sideways, and he nodded, still beet root red. She added, still quite red as well, "My parents are dentists, so I suppose because of working in health care they were very thorough in their explanation. I doubt there is much, if anything, your booklet could tell me. And, I was given something similar by our family doctor, but thank you for asking Professor."
"You are welcome, Miss Granger; and Mr Potter, I will find someone to speak with you after you have read it, most likely Madame Pomfrey as there are so few men on staff."
Harry thanked her, then after thinking for a moment, asked, "What would it take to get those out to all kids? Are they really as good as what it seems they are?"
"To answer your second question first, yes, Mr Potter, the information in them is fully accurate and surprisingly comprehensive, even compared to some Muggle ones I've seen. As for what it would take, that would be money, regrettably. Each year I am required to give a list to the headmaster of British Purebloods who are or would be third years here, whether or not they attend Hogwarts. After he approves it, I then order the books printed. I always add a couple of extra in case someone should not get theirs, or lose it and need to know more. I am, however, constrained by the budget Professor Dumbledore allows as to how many I can have printed."
Harry then asked, "If someone were to provide the money needed each year to make up the difference, would you be able to get printed what you need?"
Hermione thought she knew where this was going and was quite surprised. She knew that Harry was fairly well off, but assumed he couldn't finance something like this. Out of concern, she said, "Harry, you can't possibly be thinking of paying for this by yourself, can you? I mean, that could add up to a lot of Galleons in just a few years."
It seemed she was only a moment ahead of the professor whose voice started and cut off half a second after she began speaking. But when Hermione finished, the Professor added, "She's right, Harry. I can't ask, or even allow you to do such a thing. You need to look out for your own future."
Harry, whose colour had only just returned to normal, blushed again slightly, then looked lovingly at Hermione, though he was speaking to both, "I've started receiving statements, finally, from Gringotts. Seems the headmaster, in his infinite wisdom, deemed that was one more thing I didn't need to be troubled with." His tone was slightly bitter, and both women knew of at least some of the things, including prefect status, to which he was referring. Each wondered if there were more they were unaware of.
Continuing, he temporarily ignored their concern, looking now at the professor, "Neither of you has seen my vault, and for that matter neither have I since before third year, but the goblins tell me I have much more gold than I would ever have believed. Being his beneficiary, Sirius..." he trailed off for a moment to clear his throat before going on, "he left me much more than a bit of gold, which is what the headmaster told me last summer. It was in fact a lot of gold, nearly a million Galleons. I could use a portion of that to finance this."
"Erm," he looked down for a moment, then back up at each of them as he said, "to be truthful, I've been communicating with the goblins and a wizarding solicitor about setting up what will be called "The Prongs & Padfoot Foundation". It will use all of what he gave me, along with a matching amount from my parents' main vault after I inherit that next summer." Sounding almost angry, yet somewhat plaintive as well, he continued, "In truth, there are things I want to change that I see wrong in the Wizarding World, and this is just one of so many." Turning to his girlfriend he smiled at her stunned look, and added, "That will naturally include funds to work for the reinstatement of House Elves as an independent race who are not enslaved to wizards and witches."
Both women were absolutely stunned. Hermione finally grabbed him in a very tight hug and planted a very passionate kiss on his lips. She came to her senses a moment later to once more blush heartily, and looked at the older witch's feet as she told her, "Sorry, Professor, but you know how I feel about House Elves, and that Harry wants to do something like this…" she trailed off uncharacteristically, and Harry squeezed tenderly her with the arm he still had around her from their hug.
The young wizard was blushing as well, but looked at the girl he loved and said softly, "It is because you feel so strongly about that, Hermione – that and many other things, of course – those are the reasons I care so much about you and why I wanted to do this. And," he laughed sadly, because I really don't need what Padfoot left me. I assure you both," he nodded at McGonagall, "I am in no way whatsoever jeopardizing my own future or well-being. But, thank you both for caring so much."
Hermione just leaned farther into his embrace and smile up at him. She couldn't believe how big his heart was, though after a moment's thought it didn't surprise her all that much. In one of those odd moments of clarity, she realized how very glad she was to have learned all of this after they got together as a couple, even if it was by less than twenty-four hours
After a brief silence, Professor McGonagall said, "Harry, that is very commendable of you, and I hope you truly are being realistic about this. You're very welcome, by the way, since I do care about you. It would be part of my position regardless, but in some cases it becomes much easier to be sincere." She smiled at him, then added, "Perhaps the three of us could discuss this when you come to pick up that booklet. For now, I have other duties I must get on with, so why don't you stop by after four p.m. today."
At his nod, she smiled warmly, though there was one more thing she wanted to know, before sending them off. "I'm curious," she stated, "about you two getting together last evening. How do you think that came about at this time? I'd have thought learning what you did about people you thought of as friends, and potentially more, would have made you rather depressed or at least unhappy for a while."
They looked at each other for a moment, then turned back to her as one, and together said, "We decided it was our turn, Professor," then smiled lovingly at each other.
Thanks to my betas Tommy, who is also my Brit-picker and keeps me straight as to how they do things across the pond, and Mike. Look for their own writings under Tumshie and grenouille7777, respectively, both are quite good. Also, a big thanks to the many members of my Yahoo! Group for their assistance in spotting the mistakes all three of us missed. I'm grateful for all the help of every one of these folks in polishing this up a bit. I take any and all responsibility for any errors that remain.