Hermione sighed as she and her fellow fifth yeas left Potions only to head to Defense. It was a truly sad day when the Gryffindors preferred to stay in Potions with Snape than to leave and head to a new class.
"Can't it be lunch now?" Ron whined. To Hermione's dismay, she agreed. Anything was better than Umbridge.
"Harry," Hermione said softly.
As expected, Ron made a disgruntled noise in the background.
"… would like you to practice with the Hufflepuffs at quidditch today if you're willing. Angelina was not completely happy with his proposal but since Umbridge has taken it upon herself to delegate you detention during all the Gryffindor practices-so far."
"The Hufflepuff's are okay with me joining them for practice?" He doubted because Wood would not have agreed to anyone intruding on their practice with all the galleons in the world.
Hermione nearly beamed. "Yes, they really don't mind who watches the practices and I'm sure they'd be welcoming to you joining them… the whole Hufflepuff house stands behind you and Cedric as much as Ron and I do."
Harry raised a brow as he looked at Ron who didn't seem to look that keen on being called out for standing behind Cedric.
"I would actually like that- it'd be good getting on a broom again."
The idea of flying and practicing quidditch again put Harry in a good enough mood that he was able to ignore most of Umbridge's barbs and instigations so she would be able to dock points or assign more detentions.
Still they lost almost 50 points because she said Hermione had not been paying attention and Hermione had gone too ahead in her reading and was out of line with the curriculum. How she justified that, none of them knew. In fact Anthony Goldstein passed Hermione a note saying he did not believe the deduction would go through as it had no merit. It made Hermione smile to see her fellow students stand behind them.
However as they were leaving, Umbridge coolly spoke out. "Mr. Potter, the assignment I assigned was for a three thousand word essay on the virtues of conflict avoidance. I see only 2,813 words on this paper. Another night's detention for not completing assignment as told." She smiled triumphantly.
Hermione gasped. This woman! Hermione whirled around- about to give the vile woman a piece of her mind but Harry dragged her out; his grip on her almost so tight it hurt. "Don't engage her Hermione." Harry muttered coldly, only walking ahead before they gave Umbridge what she wanted. The woman was not going to ruin his afternoon. Detentions were a norm by now for him, regardless.
"No! She has got to be stopped." Hermione saw red as she walked towards the dining hall for lunch. How Dumbledore or even Professor McGonagall could let Umbridge get away with using Harry as an example of what happens when you go against the Ministry?
"Mimi?" Ian asked as Hermione stomped, almost past him.
"I'm going to talk to Professor McGonagall."
"Uh," Ian looked around for his best friend. Of course when you wanted to find the bloke- he was nowhere to be seen. "How about you have some lunch and blow off some steam with me?"
"Ian someone's got to stop that woman."
"Hermione," Ian stopped and whispered. "We have something planned, don't worry. The professors here have their hands tied with Ministry politics. It's our job now as 7th yeas to make Hogwarts proud and show the world despite the turmoil of the past years- we can handle whatever they will throw at us. Let Cedric and I handle this alright? Just wait a little more patiently please."
Hermione crossed her arms with a frown as Ian leaned back so he wasn't towering over her and whispering in her ear- the two having looked rather intimate.
"Do I want to know what is going on?" Cedric Diggory asked upon spotting the two.
Ian's eyes sparked with mischievousness. "Mimi thinks you've always been a handsome guy so I was telling her a story about when you this adorable chubby toddler with long hair and people couldn't tell if you were supposed to be a boy or a girl."
Ian laughed as he picked up Hermione and ran down to the end of the table with her, his original destination when he walked into her.
"Are you satisfied with yourself?" Cedric glared at his best friend as he helped Hermione down from the bench seat that Ian had deposited her feet on.
"Very," Ian grinned.
Hermione rested her head on Cedric's should without thinking. How could she just let Cedric and Ian deal with Umbridge alone? Harry was her best friend. She did not want to sit still and let them do everything! But what could she do? Harry refused to let her do anything to really ire Umbridge- he wanted her nowhere near Umbridge's detentions. He was trying to protect her when it should have been her protecting him!
Feeling her emotions rise, Cedric kissed the side of Hermione's temple.
"Awe," Heidi smiled at them. "Robbie, why don't you ever just kiss me like that?"
"Because the last time I kissed you without warning you, I had a bruised jaw for a week." Robbie said dryly.
"Oh… yeah." Heidi blushed. She'd been surprised when someone randomly grabbed her from behind into a hug that she'd whirled around and socked them as her muggle father- who just so happened to be a boxer- taught her.
The group laughed as Robbie rubbed his jaw. "That's what I get for dating a daddy's girl."
"Her dad's a muggle boxer." Cedric whispered as Hermione looked slightly confused at the exchange.
Hermione's eyes widened as she remembered Heidi's last name on her Hufflepuff quidditch robes. "Wait Heidi, what's your dad's name?"
"Armin Cartwright." Heidi grinned at her proudly.
"Oh my goodness, my best friend from back home is a huge fan of your father's. He has a poster of your father's last bout with Horace Notice in 1986!"
"Are you serious?" Heidi perked up. It was so rare to find someone at Hogwarts who knew who her father was so she could brag proudly about him.
Yeah we were seven but Andrew said that your father had the better technique. He should've won if your father would have had the other two extra days of rest from fighting that Notice had.
"Yes, my mom was so mad! She said the same thing. How they expected a fair and fierce fight when my father just had a fight the night before and how he had to compete with a guy ten years his junior at that!"
Hermione smiled as she couldn't help but wish Andrew was here. He would die to meet Armin Cartwright's daughter and talk about the boxing matches.
Heidi beamed back at her. The two bonding in that moment. She then turned to Cedric. "Not that she didn't have my seal of approval before- but now she was it in a tenfold and I will join the Weasley twins in torturing you if you hurt her. Anyone that is a fan of my father's is under my protection.
Hermione bit her lip. She didn't bother to correct her that it was Andrew that was a fan. She'd take what she could take. Cedric's friends were wonderful.
"Thanks Heidi," Cedric shook his head before pulling Hermione back down to rest her head on his ready shoulder.
Harry prepared for his practice with the Hufflepuffs.
"Angelina really okay with this?" Ron asked.
Harry nodded. Their captain had stopped by at lunch and ushered him aside. She told him that she wasn't a fan but even she knew that Diggory only had good intentions. As long as he got in practice. She also whispered for Harry to carefully observe Cedric since it was not a game and learn from him. He had not been picked as a quidditch captain his fifth year over the seventh years for nothing.
"Where's Hermione?" Ron asked.
Harry grimaced. "Ron don't do anything such as make her pick us over Cedric." He said to his best friend. Ron gave him a puzzled expression but Harry didn't retract his words. Cedric… was now something he trusted and found kinship with. He was a good guy. Probably one of the most strong willed, intelligent, and kind blokes out there. If anyone deserved to stand next to Hermione Granger, it would be Cedric Diggory in Harry's opinion. They just fit… Also Harry wasn't so sure him and Ron would be chosen any longer if it came to that…
Ron joined Hermione sitting with Ian and the other Hufflepuffs.
"Hello," Wendy greeted him with a small wave.
Ron waved back with a small blush as Wendy was a very attractive female. Her skin was a little lighter than Angelina but her lean lithe body made her stood out. With her short pixie cut that framed her small face, she looked like she could have been posing for Witch Weekly any moment, not sitting next to them with an oversized coat and black tights.
"Hey Baby Weasley," Brice said.
"Brice you do know Ginny Weasley is technically the youngest." Ian corrected him.
"She's Girl Weasley though. Youngest Male Weasley is a mouthful." Brice defended.
"Oh Merlin," Wendy rolled her eyes. "You could just call him Ronald or Ron Weasley."
"No, I have to keep the tradition alive. The twins are Twin Weasley. The one who was headboy a few years ago was Boring Weasley."
"Percy Weasley was not boring!"
"Actually he rather is," Ron interjected.
"See, even his own brother thinks he's boring. Just because you had a crush on him doesn't mean he wasn't boring!"
"Brice!" Wendy threw her shoe at him.
Ron's jaw drooped. What? "Percy, you do mean Percy?"
"Yeah, the nerdier they are, the more attracted to them Wendy is." Ian confirmed, dodging Wendy's second shoe just in time.
Ron was even more flabbergasted.
Hermione stopped paying attention to the chatter around her as she watched the two seekers on the field.
"I'm not your captain and I'm not going to pretend to be. Please do what you want or you can join us in our practice."
"I think I'd like to practice with all of you."
"Great! We practice as a team for the first half hour before we practice in our own groups, beaters together, chasers with the keeper." Harry nodded in understanding.
"Do you want to practice some dives then?" Cedric asked.
Hermione's heart almost jumped out of her chest as all the players began to fly straight to the ground only to reverse a the very last second. The worst of them (or was it best?) all was her boyfriend. He seemed to really be testing the limits of his mortality. Hermione almost swore she saw his broom brush the grass field, having waited until the very last second. And Harry was copying him!
"He's good." Ron grumbled in admiration to his chagrin.
Ian smirked. A day for the history books, Ronald Weasley complimenting Cedric.
Cedric had to refrain them before from giving the young male an earful for calling Cedric Pretty boy in his condescending manner.
"If our roles were reversed, I'm not so sure I'd be so kind either."
Cedric looked over at the younger male. He was happy to see a smile on Harry's lips. They did ten more dives before moving onto sharp turns.
"Smith, don't hold onto your broom so tight until just before you make your turn. You jerk too much otherwise and lose momentum at the turn!" Cedric called out.
Another ten more minutes passed before Robbie and Cedric descended. They reached for the quidditch equipment trunk.
"Get ready!" Robbie told the beaters.
"Here Heidi!" Cedric tossed the quaffle to her as she was hovering nearby.
"Be alert Harry!" Cedric finally said before releasing the snitch.
Robbie and Cedric clapped hands before ascending to practice the last hour in their specific positions.
"Hey you three want to join us tonight in the Herbology greenhouse?" Ian whispered to Hermione and Ron.
"What for?" Ron asked.
"Cedric wants us to practice nonverbal spells for the N.E.W.T."
Hermione's eyes widened. "Does Professor Sprout know?"
Ian winked. "Oh she definitely has an idea. Especially after Robbie went a little wild with Incendio and burnt the arms off of the Venomous Tentacula."
"And you didn't get in trouble?" Ron asked in wonder.
Ian grinned this time. "Nah, Professor Sprout said thanks, she didn't have to prune that mean as hell bastard."
Hermione walked beside Ron and Harry towards the Hogwarts greenhouse. Cedric waited outside for them.
"Sorry we're late." Harry muttered darkly.
"Don't worry Harry, we now it's not your choice." Cedric tried to smile at him but Harry didn't smile back, his mood still foul from detention with Umbridge.
"Come on you three," Cedric ushered them in quickly, his hand on the small of Hermione's back.
They came in just to watch Brice fall over onto a pile of pillows. Hermione blinked as Ian waved at them, grinning maniacally.
"Don't worry, I just did a nonverbal stunning spell on Brice."
"Amazing," Harry whispered before stepping forward leaving them to join the guys.
Hermione let out a frustrated sound as she couldn't even nonverbally shoot red sparks from her wand. She'd gotten on spark so far. Ron was doing no better but Harry had already progressed from summon speaks to silent counter jinxes. He was able to use Nox on Robbie's Lumos without a problem.
Cedric worked with both the fifth years who he quickly realized were not ready for nonverbal. They still had to develop the will for defense spells and perfect them…
Harry left the greenhouse in a much better mood than he'd been in when he'd entered.
Hermione though was silent as she looked down.
Harry and Cedric said simultaneously.
"Can we talk in the Hufflepuff common room?" She whispered.
Cedric and Harry looked at each other. Harry shrugged.
"Yes, of course," Cedric nodded.
Hermione fidgeted as they all sat down in the Hufflepuff common room together. Ron and Harry still looked to be a little shocked at just how complicated it was to get to the Hufflepuff house. The room itself was also amazing. Everything about it was cozy and bright despite the fact that it was the middle of the night. Two walls were lined with pictures of the seventh year Hufflepuff's for the past two centuries before they left Hogwarts. Harry had even seen the one with Tonks smiling broadly in her year.
At Harry staring at them, Ian explained that they would get their picture taken after getting back their N.E.W.T. results, hence some of the wide eyed looks of fright.
"Meems," Cedric said taking her hand. Hermione squeezed his hand before sitting up straight.
"Tonight has really enlightened me on how ill prepared myself and," She glanced at Ron. "those in my year are to protect ourselves. Well except Harry." Hermione added.
Harry slightly blushed.
"No one blames you guys," Robbie shrugged.
"Yeah, these past years, we've had volatile relations with our Defense Against the Dark Arts Professors." Ian added.
Hermione nodded. She knew they were right but. "I think we need to expand these lessons… if you boys don't mind. I can't be the only one that feels this way." Hermione said at last.
Cedric squeezed her hand as he looked up at his close mates. They all looked to be thinking about it. It only took a few seconds for them though before they nodded at him. "Okay Mimi."
"We're all in," Brice said, stepping up this time. Robbie and Ian nodded.
"But who's going to teach? Cedric still has Head Boy and Quidditch captain duties." Harry asked only for them all to stare at him.
No one said anything, letting Harry silent read the situation.
At last Ian spoke up. "Ced will teach nonverbal." Ian volunteered his best friend.
"But Harry you should definitely teach too. You may not have as much experience but your spells pack a stronger punch." Cedric explained.
"But who would let me teach them defense spells?" Harry protested.
As if on cue, Justin Finch-Fletchy and Susan Bones stepped out from their hiding spot. "We would."
So I already got an annoyed review that Hermione is better at Magic than Harry... which is true, overall! She gets exactly 10 Os in her Owls. However she gets an E in defense which is Harry's only O. So this is cannon. The whole concept of DA is about the fact that Harry has amazing skills in Defense...
I did not and would not downplay Hermiones genius to lift Harry's. I am merely trying to be true to the 5th book. Nonverbal magic is something they learn in the 6th book. Hermione might know it- and she's probably excellent at nonverbal charms, transfigurations and such but it is literally cannon that Harry is better at Defense than Hermione.?