Summary: Harry overhears some of the boys talk about Hermione and he's not entirely sure how he feels about it...
A/N: I wrote this piece all in good fun. I do not condone the objectification of women but um, hello, have you all heard of locker room talk? It happens. Also, my advance apologies to any slang terms that do not fit... I am but an overly Americanized Canadian person who likes to write fanfiction.
"When it comes to gossip, I have to readily admit that men are as guilty as women."
- Marilyn Monroe
Harry sneezed as he inhaled a cloud of dust, the dull "thud!" of the pile of books dropping on the table echoing throughout the library.
"Really, Hermione?" Harry asked. Her head poked out from behind the pile, a radiant smile lighting up her entire face.
"There's still a couple more that I need to find before we can start studying!" she told him sternly, but judging from the look on her face, she might as well have said that Christmas had come early. "I'm positive Professor McGonagall won't go easy on our N.E.W.T. final."
"Right..." Harry replied, thumbing through the ancient pages of one particularly daunting tome entitled Comestible Transfiguration: Making the Inedible Edible. He cringed at the thought of having to eat a transfigured chamberpot.
"You can start taking notes from these ones while I look for the other books. I'll join you once I find them," Hermione said, consulting her list. "They should be right here in this section..."
Harry sighed as he propped Comestible Transfiguration open, and unrolled a new scroll of parchment. Not for the first time, he cursed his decision to come back to Hogwarts to obtain his N.E.W.T.'s. However, Hermione had convinced him otherwise, claiming that it would be a good way to find a "new normal" after the War. Most people were coming back anyway - Ron, Neville, Ginny, Luna, Dean, and Seamus included.
But who are you kidding? Hermione could have persuaded you to work at Madam Puddifoot's for the year and you'd have done it.
Harry shook his head, willing the small voice that had just spoken to shut up.
Wimp, it said, sounding remarkably like Peeves. Harry even whirled his head around, half expecting to see the offensive poltergeist floating amongst the bookshelves.
"All right, Harry?" Hermione asked him from not too far away, looking away from the rows of books she was perusing.
"Fine!" Harry answered, wondering if she noticed the odd little hitch in his voice. Seemingly unfazed, she resumed her task, softly mumbling to herself as she read off book titles.
Harry sighed again, slumping back in his seat.
Harry turned, only seeing more bookshelves. It sounded like it had come from behind the shelf, the sound traveling through a gap where a considerable amount of books was missing. He shrugged, turning back to the blank parchment on the table ready to be filled with Transfiguration notes.
"Oy, Neville! Come sit here and study with us!" someone hissed.
With final examinations fast approaching, Harry wasn't surprised to learn that he and Hermione weren't the only ones studying in the library today.
"Oh hey, Seamus. Dean. All right?" Neville whispered. Harry heard the sound of shuffling parchment and ink pots as Seamus and Dean made room at their table.
"Decent," Dean rasped. "Studying for Binns' N.E.W.T."
"History of Magic definitely fits in with this 'return to normalcy' craze they're pushing here at Hogwarts - I mean, I wonder if Binns even knows what happened at all last year," Seamus said in a low voice, causing the other two boys (and even Harry, to himself) to stifle their laughter.
"There's still lots work that needs to be done, but at least they're trying," Harry heard Neville say.
"Yeah...all the changes and exceptions they had to do this year..."
"Even Katie Bell and Cormac McLaggen are here part-time to make up for everything that's been messed up the past couple of years! They should've been done by now."
"I wonder if Katie knows what's going to be on Binns' test... I think she already took it. She only needs to complete one or two more N.E.W.T.'s..."
"And why would she give it to you? Have you ever spoken to Katie?" Dean asked Seamus incredulously.
"Sure I have! Couple of times..."
"Like once?" Neville snickered.
"No need to get cheeky, Longbottom," Seamus spat. Harry could almost picture his ears turning pink like they so often did when riled up. "More than that. She may have been a year ahead of us, and I may not have been on the Quidditch team with her, but Katie Bell once told me that she liked my accent! So you know what that means!"
"It's not like you're the only one who's Irish at this school, mate," Dean said, sounding amused.
"Aw, you weren't there when she said it! She fancied me," Seamus stated confidently.
"What?! Katie? Fancy you?!" Dean sniggered, earning a harsh Shhh! directed at their table. He muttered a couple sorry's in between breaths as he urged himself to calm down. Even Harry had to bite his lip to keep from laughing. He chanced a look over at Hermione who was still studiously scouring the shelves, oblivious to anyone else around her.
"I'm sorry, mate," Dean whispered, finally calm enough to speak in hushed tones. "It's just that - Katie - well, she's - she's bloody hot!"
"Why does that mean she can't fancy a bloke like me?" Seamus asked indignantly. "Longbottom, help me out here!"
"She's all right, I guess..."
"All right? That's it?"
"Hey, this is Neville. He fancies Luna."
"Luna is gorgeous," Neville said so matter of fact that Harry had to admire how sure he was of his affections.
Unlike someone we all know.
"What is with you two and girls younger than us, eh? First there was you and Ginny, now Longbottom here and Lovegood!"
"Come on, Ginny's fit! All of bloody Hogwarts would agree on that!"
Harry shook his head, imagining Ron's reaction had he been there. Luckily for him, he was not taking the Transfiguration N.E.W.T. and had therefore escaped Hermione's study-clutches for that day.
"Ginny's pretty," Neville agreed.
Harry had heard his fair share of guys talk about Ginny-hell, he himself had gone out with her once, too. He and their housemates had mostly been considerate when the subject of Ginny came up in their dorm, but that didn't stop the occasional comment to slip out, which left Ron red-faced and sputtering.
"You better not let that oaf of a brother overhear you lot," someone piped up, voicing Harry's thoughts. Harry heard a chair being dragged to the table and the newcomer flop down in the seat, throwing his rucksack onto the table. "Drooling over the little Weasley girl?"
"Nice of you to finally show up, McLaggen. Next time you want to bum study time off of us, be on time, yeah?"
Harry heard Cormac McLaggen scoff, the sound causing an unpleasant feeling to spread along his skin. Something about Cormac just never sat well with him.
"I was helping my uncle with something. I couldn't care less about getting this stupid N.E.W.T. but my family thinks otherwise. Plus, it didn't sound like you were studying --" Harry could almost hear the leer in his whisper. -for N.E.W.T.'s anyway."
"Fine, you caught us. We're only blokes now, aren't we?"
"So, what're your thoughts on Ginny Weasley?" Seamus asked, although he didn't sound that interested in Cormac's thoughts at all.
"She's all right, I guess, if you have a thing for red hair... I wonder if the carpet matches the drapes?"
"You're scum, McLaggen," Neville said.
"Yeah, sod off, why don'tcha, you bastard. I used to date Ginny," Dean hissed, Harry hearing what he hoped was a very large and very hard book against Cormac's head.
"You probably didn't get to see anything anyway," Cormac drawled. "Maybe someone can ask Potter?"
Harry gripped the quill in his hand a little tighter, scratching whatever sentence he'd been writing hard enough to tear through the parchment.
"Oy, don't go staring at me like that! You lot started this conversation!" A strained silence followed this statement almost as if Neville, Dean and Seamus united to not speak ill of Harry. A strong sense of gratitude welled up within Harry for his fellow Gryffindor housemates.
"'Sides I'm not interested in her. She's always seemed too young for me-" Cormac mused out loud, pursuing the subject and proving to Harry that he was indeed, the scum of the Earth.
"It's only two years..." Seamus pointed out.
"I always thought the girls in your year were quite fit."
The other three were quiet for a moment as they thought about Cormac's statement almost as if the thought of ogling the girls in their own year never crossed their minds.
"Lavender is cute, I suppose..."
"She has a great rack. Ron used to go on about it."
"She smells nice..."
"The Patil twins are the best-looking girls in our year... I've been saying that for ages!"
"I know they're identical, but I swear Parvati has the better arse out of the two."
"Oh! Bugger!" Hermione cried out, followed by a loud slap of a book falling onto the floor. Hushed conversations stopped at the sudden noise. Harry whipped his head up to see Hermione sheepishly pick up the book she had just dropped, placing it back in its spot on the shelf, and mumbling apologies at some of the people sitting nearby.
"Speaking of girls in your year ... what about Granger?" Harry heard Cormac ask. Harry's ears perked up immediately. He had never really heard guys talk about Hermione like that before.
"Shh! Keep your voice down, she'll hear! She's right there!" Neville hissed.
Harry snuck a glance behind him. While he remained blocked by the bookshelves, it seemed the table of boys had the perfect view through the gap of books to see Hermione, who was still seeking out titles, blissfully unaware that she was the current topic of a most interesting conversation.
Harry heard a few chairs creak as the boys leaned in closer to each other. He shifted slightly too, straining his ears. The parchment lay pitifully scarce, while the ink at the end of his quill had already dried up after being poised above the page for so long.
"Oh, Hermione's fit," Dean said, the words and the easy manner in which they were spoken startling Harry somewhat.
"She wasn't always," Seamus said, not menacingly, but in a pensive way. "I remember when her teeth were like this and her hair was out to there!"
"What? Really? I don't believe you," Cormac muttered.
"Oh yeah, there's no way you can tell from looking at her now. She's ... she's really grown up nicely." Seamus said, as Dean and Neville made noises of agreement.
Harry was dumbfounded. He had no idea that guys - much less his own housemates - thought Hermione was fit. He couldn't really argue with them though. Hermione had indeed grown up spectacularly from first year.
"I always thought she had a perfect arse."
Harry silently choked on his own spit.
"Good call, Finnegan. Granger's definitely got a nice-"
"Harry and Ron would hex us if they heard us talking about her like this!" Neville whispered conspiratorially.
"Oh, right. So which one of them has she shagged?" Cormac asked, the words lazily falling out of his mouth. Harry felt his face burn.
"No idea. Her and Weasley had a thing, but I never heard him talk about it. At least not as much as he went on about Lavender!"
"Reckon 'cause Harry's around..."
"So? Why does that matter? Is there something going on between her and Potter?" Cormac asked.
There was a moment's silence before anyone answered.
"There've been rumours..."
"I think that's why she and Weasley never got serious," Seamus remarked.
"Maybe ... but why isn't anything happening between her and Harry now then?"
Harry felt like his entire body was burning. He waited for his quill to catch fire any second.
"They're both pansies if you ask me," Cormac scoffed, that unpleasantness crawling up Harry's spine again. "I would've done something with her by now if I were them. I hear she likes being in the library ... so maybe right here on this desk ... or up against that shelf there," he said lasciviously.
Harry's quill lay scrunched up and forgotten as he focused instead on clenching and unclenching his fist.
"Pfft ... good luck with that," Seamus proclaimed.
"Hermione's the studious type. I don't think she-"
"They say it's the quiet ones you have to watch out for, don't they?"
"You dropped something!" Harry heard someone cry out. He swiveled his head around to see Hermione thank a younger Hufflepuff girl who marched away under her own towering stack of books. Bending down to retrieve the book, Harry's eyes widened as he realized that the table of Gryffindor boys had the most perfect view of-
"Blimey, speaking of Granger's perfect arse..."
Alarms went off in Harry's head. He catapulted himself up from his chair, moving fast but not fast enough.
"HERMIONE!" Harry yelled, his voice bouncing off the ancient books and shelves of Hogwarts' library.
Before she could bend all the way down and cause her skirt to tighten around her shapely bottom and ride up, exposing more leg than was absolutely necessary, Hermione jolted to an upright position at Harry's thunderous yell.
Harry distinctly heard a collective groan of boys behind him as he breathed a huge sigh of relief.
"Harry!" Hermione exclaimed upon seeing his form almost directly beside her when just a moment ago he was sitting at the table. "What's wrong with you?" He looked tall and menacing, standing at his full height, breathing hard. He looked from side to side suspiciously, as if he expected someone to come out at them from behind the bookshelves. It was all a little disconcerting, but Hermione had to admit that seeing Harry act protective around her was quite alluring. "What are yo-"
But before Hermione could question him further or Harry could explain his strange behaviour a reverberant yell echoed from the other side of the library.
"MR. POTTER! MISS GRANGER!"
War or not, Madam Pince still made the hairs on Harry's neck stand on end. He looked around to see her small form rampaging towards them. He grabbed a hold of Hermione's hand, ignoring the bolts of electricity that buzzed up and down his arm at the contact.
"C'mon. We've got to go!" He proceeded to drag her out of the library before the raging librarian could reach them. For some reason Room of Requirement dominating his thoughts...
"Looks like you were wrong, McLaggen," Neville said, as their table watched Harry and Hermione bolt out the doors as if they needed to be somewhere very important. "Hermione seems to be taken, quite literally, by that pansy, Potter, as you so eloquently put it."
"Proves nothing," Cormac humphed, grabbing his books out of his rucksack and throwing them on to the table almost petulantly.
"I don't know ... did you see the look on his face as they ran out of here? If he was a pansy before, something tells me he won't be right now..."
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