Harry scratched his quill across the parchment without really thinking. He was working on Defense Against the Dark Arts homework in the library with his friends. Naturally, it was just copying chapters from the textbook, so there was truly no need to think.
"Hey, Draco," a girl's voice said, sidling up to the table.
Instantly, everyone's heads snapped up. Daphne Greengrass stood there, looking at them all with wide eyes.
"I don't mean to bother you, I just came to ask about the meeting. No one else seems to think I should know," she muttered, sweeping her long dark hair over her shoulder.
It had been a week and a half since the meeting in the Hog's Head and they'd decided on a place and time for the first real session. It seemed that nobody had bothered to inform Daphne, though.
"Oh, sure," Draco replied. "We're meeting at- Ow. What was that for, Ron?"
Ron turned red and looked down. "Are you sure we can trust her?" he muttered so low that Harry could hardly hear him from across the table. Daphne watched with a placid face.
Draco looked at her and they locked eyes. Without breaking gaze, he replied, "I'm sure. It's Monday at seven in the Room of Requirement. Meet us on the seventh floor and we'll lead you."
Daphne gave a half smile, looking at him curiously. "Thank you," she said. She looked like she wanted to say more, but Hermione was currently glaring at her. Daphne tossed her a glance before turning and walking away, followed by Draco's gaze.
Hermione coughed loudly. Draco turned to look at her in a hurry.
"Don't you think you should've discussed that with us first?" she demanded.
"What, tell her, 'Oh, come back later when we've passed judgement on your character'?" Draco suggested snidely.
Hermione pressed her lips into a line and didn't reply. They worked for a moment in tense silence.
"If she betrays us-" Hermione began.
"She won't, okay?" Draco snapped. "Not all Slytherins are bad. I thought you knew that."
He stood abruptly and closed his book. "I'm going to get some fresh air."
Meanwhile the wind howled outside the window and snow flew about. Draco looked at it, then at them, as if daring them to say something. Then he turned on his heel and strode from the room. Hermione watched him go, jaw set in a hard line. Ron watched Hermione, scowling. Harry looked between the two of them in confusion.
"Uh..." he muttered.
"What?" they snapped in unison, both sounding guilty. Blushing, they looked away.
"Nothing," Harry replied hastily. He turned his attention back to his work, silently hoping that Hermione and Draco wouldn't stay mad at each other for too long. After all, he really needed them to help with the DA. Sure, they'd chosen Harry as leader but when push came to shove, Harry was utterly lost. He didn't know how to get people to listen to him, but Draco did. He didn't know how best to introduce new spells, but Hermione did. And Ron was always helpful in getting people to shut up. Harry needed his friends; they couldn't be divided now.
"I'm done," he announced after a decent amount of time had passed. "I'm going to go drop my things off in the dorm," Harry said. "Maybe give Sirius a call. See you later."
Harry did need to call his godfather, but first he went looking for Draco. It wasn't long before he found him sitting on a windowsill in one of the remote stairways of the school. He looked desolately out the window, watching the snowy white swirls fly through the air.
Draco shifted to look at Harry.
"You okay?" Harry asked when Draco didn't say anything.
Harry let out a low whistle. "I thought snapping and running out angrily was my thing," he muttered. Draco cracked a smile. It faded quickly and he went back to looking out the window.
"Is she still mad at me?" Draco asked quietly.
Harry shrugged. "I don't know. Girls aren't my area of expertise."
Draco was silent.
Harry punched his friend lightly in the arm. "She's just jealous, you know."
"Of Daphne. Hermione probably feels threatened," Harry guessed.
"I thought girls weren't your area of expertise," Draco muttered.
Harry chuckled. "True. But Rhea has taught me a few things," he admitted. "You like her, don't you?"
"Rhea? No. Well, I mean I like her and all-"
"Hermione," Harry interrupted. "Don't try to avoid the question."
Draco sighed. "You know I do."
"Does she know you do?"
Draco was quiet for a long while. Harry leaned against the cold stone wall, but soon the silence became awkward.
"I'll leave you to your thoughts," Harry said, starting to head back. Before he had gone two steps, Draco said something so quietly that Harry almost missed it.
"I just don't want to ruin our friendship. And Ron..."
Harry nodded. "I get it, Draco. Take your time. Maybe things will end up working out on their own."
Draco looked over and rolled his eyes. "You sure are great at giving advice, Harry. 'Just wait. Hope for a miracle. Smile and be friendly!'," he said snidely.
Instead of being offended, Harry simply laughed. "I'll be in the dorm if you need me, Draco."
"Thanks, Harry. Really."
Harry simple nodded and headed back the way he had he got back to the dorm room, it was empty. Harry didn't mind, however, as it gave him a good chance for a long overdue call with his godfather.
"Hi, Sirius," Harry said when Sirius's face appeared in the mirror.
"Hey, Harry! How are things going over at Hogwarts?"
"More like over in hell," Harry muttered.
Sirius looked at him in concern. "What, why?"
"Umbridge," Harry offered as explanation.
"And girl trouble," he said, adding quickly, "Not mine! But my friend's."
Sirius shook his head. "Vicious creatures, girls."
"Yeah." There was a momentary silence. "Umbridge made a new rule that teachers and students aren't allowed to be alone together. Now I have to sneak down to see Severus."
"Somebody really needs to teach that woman a lesson," Sirius said with venom.
"We're working on it," Harry answered with a grin.
"Really?" Sirius asked, perking up. "How so?"
"We formed a defense group," Harry replied. "I'm going to teach the others everything I know. We've named it Dumbledore's Army."
"Nice!" Sirius said with feeling. "And you're going to make sure to slip Umbridge some of the Weasley products while you're at the whole rebellion thing, too, right?"
"Good. That'd be some excellent publicity," Sirius said happily. "But back to your group - she doesn't know?"
"Not that I know of," he replied. "We're going to meet in the Room of Requirement. It's this room Severus showe-"
"Harry, I know what the Room of Requirement is," Sirius said with a gleam in his eye. "Don't forget that you're talking to one of the Marauders here. We didn't need Snivell-"
"Sirius," Harry warned.
"-Severus to tell us about the hidden rooms in Hogwarts," Sirius said. "That room should work excellently for you."
Harry nodded. "That's the plan."
From somewhere behind Sirius a crash emanated. He looked over his shoulder. "Looks like Tonks and Remus have come for dinner. Sorry to cut this short-"
"It's fine," Harry assured him. "I've got work to do anyway. Goodnight."
"'Night, Harry," Sirius said. "Call again soon."
AN: Sorry I haven't posted in forever - here's a mini chapter to make up for the fact that I might not be posting again soon either... I'm trying to re-motivate myself to finish this book at the very least, but I've got several other original writing projects that occupy much of my free time. I apologize to those who think I'm abandoning this story (whether I am or not, I'm unsure of at the moment), but fanfiction was a good tool to help me grow to become a better writer. With those skills under my belt, I'd rather move on to the original works that could one day lead to something real. So sorry again. I'll try to at least wrap this story up; I don't want to just leave it unfinished.