Forbidden

Helpless

Disclaimer: I am, unfortunately, not J.K. Rowling.

"Merlin, did you read these Harry?" Hermione said, looking at her copy of the daily prophet. "More and more raids every week. I can't believe they're being so . . . reckless. Harry? Harry, are you listening?"

"Huh?" Truth be told I wasn't listening. I already knew about the Death Eater raids. Those were easy to figure out. Meanwhile, things that weren't so easy to figure were how Snape all the sudden became the DADA teacher (not that that was entirely all that bad considering that job is cursed which meant that there was absolutely no way he was coming back next year), why Draco Malfoy seemed, if possible, paler than usual and always seemed to be nervous, why one book seemed to be the turning point in my horrible potions career, and the last being why, whenever I saw Josephine I couldn't shake the stupid grin that came to my face.

At that thought, my eyes moved over to the Slytherin table where Josephine sat next to her brother, her fork lazily scrapped across her plate as she glanced out of the corners of her eyes at Draco. Maybe, she was worried that her brother knew about us (not that there was much to tell; I mean, we were just hanging out right? Right) or maybe she too noticed that her brother was acting just a tad bit off.

But that seemed far off from my mind as I just focused on Josephine. Her beautiful, long, flowing hair . . . the perfect shape of her face . . . the way her eyelashes curved up . . . the way –

I cried out as Ron slugged me in my arm. "What was that for?" I asked.

"How about you put your eyes back in your head and pay attention?" Ron asked, frowning.

"Pay attention to what? The stories on Death Eaters?" I said. "What more can we possibly learn from them? I mean we knew this was going to happen, didn't we? Besides we have more important stuff to think about."

"Like what?" Ron said. "What kind of perfume Josephine wears?"

"Oh, seriously," Hermione said, folding up her paper. "You two are helpless. And besides, it's not as if you could talk, Ronald," she added, and I couldn't help but notice the bitter edge in her voice.

"And what's that supposed to mean?"

Just then, Lavender Brown and Parvati Patil walked past, giggling. Lavender waved flirtatiously at Ron, fluttering her eyelashes.

Ron's ears turned tomato red as he ducked down lower in his seat.

Hermione huffed, gathering her stuff. "I'll be in the library," she said, getting up.

Ron followed her with his eyes as she walked out of the Great Hall. "What's her problem?"

"Maybe Hermione is right," I told him, shaking my head. "You are totally helpless."

"Josephine's looking at you."

"She is?"

". . . . And I'm totally helpless?"

". . . . Whatever Ron."

But at that moment, Josephine really did look at me, the corner of her mouth lifting up in a half smile. She tilted her head slightly in the direction of the exit. She was asking me to meet her later. I nodded slightly, a small smile on my face.

Good because I had a lot of things to catch her up on.

"Hey Harry," Ron said. "Do you think Hermione and Krum ever, ya know, snogged?"

Merlin help me.

"It's gotten worse hasn't it."

I sighed, walking over to join Josephine on the blanket that she had set out for us. "Much worse. I shouldn't have told Ron that Hermione and Krum probably did snog. He's on a rampage now. I don't think they'll ever be friends again."

"Or they'll come out of this and become the most fabulous couple ever," Josephine said, with a grin. "So, show me this mysterious Potions book of yours."

Grinning, I pulled the book from my bag, handing it over to her and watching while she skimmed through it. "Well one thing's for sure. Whoever wrote this had atrocious writing," she said, smiling.

I laughed, my eyes on her fingers as they trailed the pages. Suddenly, her fingers stopped. I looked up at her face to see her smile had faded, replaced by a frown.

"Joey?" I asked. She looked up at me. "Is everything all right?"

"Yeah," she said, looking back at the book. "Or at least I hope so. Draco's been acting weird lately and I think mom and dad know what's going on but, of course, me being the 'Death-Eater's-Wife-In-Training', no one tells me what's up. So all I can do is sit there while Draco loses weight because he's not eating and I find him sitting awake in the common room at all hours of the night. I mean, I know my brother is a git at times, but he's still my brother and I still love him. I'm still worried."

When I didn't say anything, she looked up at me again. "You've noticed too, haven't you."

It was a question, but I still replied, "Yes."

Josephine grabbed my hands, leaning close to me. "Harry, you have to promise me that if you hear anything, anything at all, you'll let me know."

"Joey, I –"

"Please, Harry. Pinkie promise?"

She held up her slender pinkie. How could I possibly tell her if my suspicions ended up being right and her bother was a Death Eater? That kind of information was supposed to go to Dumbledore.

But as she stared at me, her eyes wide and bright with earnest and her lips set in a slight pout, my resolve died. Sighing, I wrapped my pinkie finger around hers. "I promise."

Unexpectedly, she wrapped her arms around my shoulders, enveloping me in a warm hug as she quickly pressed her lips against my cheek. "Thank you, Harry. You're the greatest."

My arms moved around her waist though I didn't realize it. It was as if someone had just switched the off switch and I was simply running on auto-pilot.

The only thing I could feel was the fact that my cheek was steadily getting hotter where she had kissed me.

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