Author's Note: Written for the FicExchange at HH-Writersblock on LiveJournal – a gift for Jessica (thebloodinside) of Slytherin
"Just give me a moment to grab a book."
The boys exchanged a glance, and Ron rolled his eyes.
"Hermione, the point is to bnot/b do homework! To bNOT/b think about school – at least for a couple of hours!"
Huffing out a breath, the bushy-haired witch stopped on the third step and turned back to face them.
"It is inot/i a school book, Ron. It happens to be a novel – one of my favorites."
With a quick turn, she continued up the stairs. Ron rolled his eyes at Harry, and leaned against the wall. Harry suppressed a smile as the redhead began to mutter.
"Always a book with her. Honestly, what does she do that doesn't include a book?"
Paperback book in hand, folded blanket over her arm, Hermione returned to the common room. All three now accounted for, they headed outside and down towards the lake. Passing a small knot of Gryffindors, they came to an abrupt stop when one of the girls gave a small shriek and jumped backwards. Lee Jordan grinned, winking at the trio, as he put the lid back on top of a box he was holding. This time, it was Hermione rolling her eyes.
"Oh, really, he's had that thing for ihow/i long?"
The boys snickered as they pulled her away from the group. Neither Harry nor Hermione mentioned anything about Ron keeping them carefully between himself and Lee. Finding a nice shade tree right on the edge of the lake, they spread out the blanket Hermione had brought, and made themselves comfortable. Harry looked around.
The eccentric House Elf popped in right next to him.
"Harry Potter, sir! You is calling Dobby?"
The green-eyed wizard smiled.
"We were hoping to have a picnic here by the lake, but we don't want to bother the elves in the kitchen. Would you mind bringing us something to snack on, please?"
Tears welled up in the large eyes.
"Oh, you is asking please! You is too nice to Dobby! Dobby gets you good eats from the kitchens, Harry Potter! For you and you friends!"
He popped back out. The three friends relaxed, watching their fellow students play games, read, or toss balls and Frisbees back and forth. They could see Fred and George running along the edge of the lake, followed by Percy. As they sped past the trio, Ron spotted a book in Fred's hand. Apparently they had decided to liven up their older brother's afternoon. Ginny strolled past with her a couple of classmates, giving a small wave as she caught their eye.
"Harry Potter! Dobby is back! I has your picnicky basket!"
Turning, the three friends bit back snorts. Dobby had brought a large picnic basket, complete with red and white checkered cloth. It was so big that it covered most of the house elf's figure. It looked like the basket had sprouted legs and ears – that was all they could see of Dobby. Hermione took the basket, and Harry smiled at him.
"Yeah, thanks a lot, Dobby."
The elf's eyes teared up again.
"Oh, you is thanking Dobby! And yous is so polite to a house elf!"
With that, he popped away, wiping his eyes.
Opening the basket, Ron almost moaned with happiness. Dobby had brought several types of sandwiches, some cold chicken, potato salad, different cheeses, and a variety of cookies and small cakes. They had a lovely time eating their fill while commenting on the various people around them.
After they had finished eating, Ron stood at the edge of the blanket, tossing some of the leftovers to the giant squid while Hermione opened her book to the first page. Harry lay back on the blanket next to her. His eyes closed, he felt fully relaxed with his friends nearby. His mouth quirked in a small smile as Hermione began reading aloud.
"In a hole in the ground, there lived a Hobbit."