"Harry, you heard Madam Pomfrey. She's going to be fine."
"I know, Hermione."
"You should go and get some sleep."
"So should you."
"No…I have to stay."
Harry locked his gaze with Hermione's. She bit her lip, her eyes downcast. "It's my fault Parvati's like this," mumbled Hermione awkwardly. "I stupidly abandoned my Prefect principles…I completely disregarded the rules, just because I knew Lavender and Parvati. I should have stepped in and stopped Lavender." She slumped in her seat, her eyes surveying a deeply sleeping Parvati, clothed in hospital attire.
Harry placed an awkward hand on Hermione's shoulder. "It's not your fault, Hermione- it's not," the green-eyed teen added firmly as Hermione didn't look convinced.
Hermione rolled her eyes. "Fine, fine," she conceded, "But will you please go to bed? You're getting little sleep already without this….what, you think I don't notice?"
Harry smiled weakly. "Can we not talk about that?"
Hermione stared at Harry for a moment before relenting. "So how are you and Parvati going?"
"Harry….when was the time last you took her out?"
"Uh, after the second task last year?"
"Oh, no. What have I done wrong now?"
"You've got to be a little more romantic, or Parvati will feel like you don't like her that much anymore."
"Did she tell you that?" Harry queried worriedly.
"No, but every girl likes a bit of affection. And not just on Valentine's Day, either." pointed out Hermione.
"So…what should I do?"
"Honestly, Harry, sometimes I think you're as bad as Ron."
"I'll take that as a compliment."
"Take her out. Surprise her with flowers. Do whatever you did at Grimmauld Place that made her smile for the rest of the day."
Harry's face went as red as Weasley hair.
"Ooooh…" teased Hermione. "What did you do, Harry?"
"Nothing," said Harry firmly.
The two friends were silent for a moment, before Hermione whispered, "We're lucky Madam Pomfrey won't tell anyone what happened. Very lucky. It was very nice of her. Lavender could get expelled."
"Harry, go to bed."
"I'll bet you ten galleons Professor Umbridge will be looking out for anything to make you look stupid, so we can't have you falling asleep in class." Harry sighed, and got up. He squeezed Parvati's hand.
Hermione was deadly serious as Harry went to bid her goodnight.
"We can't let Fudge or the Daily Prophet spin more lies about you. There are lives at stake, Harry. You-Know-Who's returned, and the saner you seem, the more insane rumours will stop."
Parvati awoke, bleary-eyed. She saw on a small clock next to her that it was five in the morning. There was something brown and bushy draped over her right arm.
"Hermione," Parvati whispered. "Hermione, wake up."
Hermione, still in her pyjamas, groaned and pushed herself up, slowly registering Parvati's conscious presence.
"Parvati!" she cried. "You're awake! How are you feeling? Oh, gosh, I'm so so sorry-"
"I'm okay, Hermione. Thanks…guess I'm just a lightweight," the brown haired girl joked weakly. "Um, how did I get here?" The last thing she remembered was seeing and hearing all those weird, disconnected visions - about people and places she had never know - and then passing out.
"I got Harry and Dean to carry you up to the hospital wing; it was terrifying, we didn't want to get caught. Of course, we had Harry's invisibility cloak draped over you, so it would just look like Harry and Dean were in weird positions, but still. I tried to get Ron to help, because he's stronger than Dean, but the stupid prat wouldn't wake up." Here Hermione paused. "Again, I'd like to apologise. I feel so horrid for letting this happen to you."
Parvati shook her head in disagreement, and to her relief it didn't hurt one bit. "It's my fault, I shouldn't have given into 'peer pressure', as you put it….although I don't think anyone could have guessed what would happen."
"Guess you're sight isn't as sharp as we thought it was, Pav," came a sweet voice from the hospital wing threshold. Parvati looked up to see an uncharacteristically guilty-looking, pyjama-clad Lavender Brown. Lavender walked to Parvati's side, apologising at a mile a minute. Hermione left and returned with Madam Pomfrey, who told Parvati she was okay to go, and not to worry about her Head of House finding out- apparently Madam Pomfrey had dealt with much more scandalous things in the past. The Matron only advised Parvati to think wisely next time, to which Parvati embarrassedly and guiltily agreed.
Together, the three unlikely companions sneaked back to their dorm room.
"Hey," came a familiar, concerned voice from behind Parvati, and she turned to see Harry. They were standing near the common room fire; Parvati was sorting out her books for today before she went down for breakfast. "How are you feeling?"
Parvati replied by giving her boyfriend a tight hug. "Better," she said softly, looking embarrassed. "Thanks for carrying me up to the Wing." She let out a nervous chuckle. "I was so stupid."
Harry frowned and kissed Parvati on the nose. "That's okay," he said quietly, ignoring her previous comment. Parvati let her head rest into Harry's chest, sighing. "You smell good," she commented randomly. "Like soap."
Harry smiled. "Yeah, I just had a shower. Um, hey, I was thinking, maybe on Saturday we could go on a date? It's not a Hogsmeade weekend or anything, but I know this place in the castle we could go."
Parvati smiled. Her day just got a whole lot brighter. "That'd be great!"
Parvati grabbed her book bag, linked her hand with Harry's, and together they walked down to the Great Hall.
"You ready to get back into school?" she asked.
"Yeah, it should be all right. Not too keen on Umbridge though."
Parvati frowned. "No."
"Speaking of unpleasant things," Harry said dryly, gesturing towards Seamus and Ron, who were having a contest to see who could eat their breakfast the quickest. Lavender had her hand on Seamus' forearm, torn between looking flirtatiously amused and degusted. Parvati giggled as they joined the table.
Breakfast was a loud, quick affair (Ron won the contest), and soon enough they were headed to Defence against the Dark Arts. ("Perfect," Harry had muttered.)
"Oh, bugger," cursed Parvati as she took her seat next to Lavender.
"What?" her friend asked.
"My butterfly clip!" gestured Parvati sadly to the bejewelled hairpiece. "It broke!"
Lavender rolled at her eyes at Parvati. "Honey, that's what magic is for. Reparo!"
"Five points from Gryffindor…Miss Brown, is it?"
The whole class turned to the sugary speaker. There, in all her toad-like glory, was Professor Umbridge. She was wearing shades of horrid pink Parvati didn't even know existed. Oh, Merlin, did that tweed jacket have silk on it? Deftly Parvati clipped her fixed butterfly back into her hair, blessing magic and cursing her toad teacher.
"Yeah, Lavender Brown, Professor." replied Lavender, flipping her long brown hair over her shoulder as her teacher walked to the front of the classroom.
"Oh, does your father work at the Ministry?"
"Uhh, yeah. At the International Magic Office of Law."
"Well, Miss Brown," continued Umbridge in her sickly sweet voice, "You see, in my classroom, wand-waving and magic is not permitted. Three points from Gryffindor then, and best sure to send my best to your father."
Lavender nodded, her mouth hanging open slightly. The class started to murmur.
"No magic?" cried out Harry from where he sat with Ron. "You're kidding me, right?"
"She's off her bloody rocker, the old toad."
"Just leave it, Ron."
"But a week of detentions!"
"RON! Just leave it, alright?" hissed Harry back at his friend, who looked affronted at this. Harry dumped his bag on the space free next to him as he sat down for lunch, fuming. Ten minutes and three people scolding him later (Hermione, McGonagall and Angelina, the new Quidditch Captain), Harry wasn't doing so well. He picked moodily at his food. Why the heck wouldn't everyone leave him alone? He could deal with things on his own! He wasn't two!
Trying to calm himself down, Harry engaged in conversation again. Padma had come over to their table, talking to Hermione excitedly about Ancient Runes.
"Professor Babbling says it's time to be 'out with the old, in with the new'," quoted Hermione.
"Like Shiva," piped up Padma, only to shrink away as everyone gave her confused looks. "Hindi god, part of the Trimurti…God of creative destruction…never mind…" She sighed. "So yeah, we get to find hidden messages in children's books."
Harry frowned. "Best not let Umbridge find out. She's anti everything, apart from the Ministry."
"Well, yeah, I'm doing Cinderella…but Hermione's sweet, she's doing The Tale of the Three Brothers."
"It doesn't sound very ancient runes…there's no runes," said Neville nervously.
"Well, it's looking for hidden meaning in stuff…besides, there's only so much you can do on Wizarding runes written in 6000 BCE."
Harry smiled faintly, hoping his classes were as good as Hermione's had been.
The rest of the week for Harry was torture; literally, with Umbridge, and Harry swore that Dumbledore was avoiding him. The only thing Harry had to look forward to was his date with Parvati.
"Where are you taking me, Harry?" laughed Parvati, her hoop earrings sparkling in the light. Of course, she looked amazing.
Harry grinned. "Oh, you'll see….here we are!"
"It's a pear."
"A ticklish pear."
"You brought me to a ticklish pear…oh, wow."
Harry grabbed Parvati's hand and lead her through to the kitchens, where Dobby had happily set up a table and two chairs for the two. Parvati excitedly plonked herself into her chair, and met Dobby, who was easily just as excited.
"I is wearing the socks you and Harry Potter sir picked for Dobby!" the house-elf cried, to which Parvati laughed.
"Hey, Harry, so what are we eating this evening?"
"Uh, pizza." Harry grinned.
Parvati giggled. "How romantic; now all we need are-"
"Oh, look, they brought candles."
Parvati squeezed Harry's hand. "This is lovely, Harry. Thank you."
"No problem, let's just hope Colin doesn't spring out from somewhere!"
"Hey, we never got those photos from him, did we? We'll have to get them."
The date went smoothly (Colin Creevy was nowhere in sight), and at ten-thirty pm, Harry and Parvati were sneaking back under the invisibility cloak. They got - distracted - at one point, so it took them at least half an hour to reach the Fat Lady. Once inside the common room, Parvati said, "Harry, thanks again. I had such a great time." She looked down at his hand as she squeezed it gently.
"Harry…Harry….what's that on your hand?" Parvati asked fearfully. "Oh my god. That's not writing lines. That's sick."
Harry quickly drew back his hand. "It's nothing, Par. Don't worry about it."
"Worry? Worry! How can I not worry, Harry! You're not sleeping, I know you blame yourself for everything that's happened, and now this! You don't need this! That's it, I'm telling Dumbledore-"
"NO!" shouted Harry angrily. Parvati froze. Harry had never raised his voice with her before. "Parvati, I'm fine, I don't need Dumbledore, I don't need anyone-"
"Oh?" cried Parvati, close to tears. "So, what, you don't need me?"
"No, no, no, that's not what I meant- of course I need you-"
"Don't you trust me?"
"Then why didn't you tell me what that horrible woman was doing, huh?!"
"I didn't want to worry you. You'd just get upset."
"You don't tell me anything!"
"What's the point?" snarled Harry. "You'd probably just go tell Lavender anyway."
"Hey, don't make this about me! And don't bring Lavender into this!"
"I'll do whatever I want, Parvati."
"Fine," choked Parvati, "fine. You can do whatever you want without me."
Harry looked like he was going to be sick. "Fine."
"Fine!" yelled Parvati back, furious that she let him see her tears, and stormed up into her dorm. She slammed the door shut before letting out a sob.