The fire crackled loudly, juxtaposed against the silence that hovered in the common room. Ron, Hermione, Harry and Parvati were the only ones left - whilst the majority of Gryffindors were sound asleep, many where currently attending a party in the Ravenclaw house. It was the perfect opportunity for the quartet to discuss matters without being overheard.
"So…" began Hermione. "I suppose we should start this meeting."
The bright witch received nods at her suggestion. Hermione smiled and drew in a nervous breath. She was in her element: Harry knew how much Hermione loved organising things. Harry just hoped she wouldn't go mental like she had at lunch when Harry and Ron had admitted they hadn't started studying for exams yet. They were only a day away, and Hermione had been stressing out like mad. She'd been studying for her O.W.L's for the past two months.
"I call the first meeting of…whatever this is going to be called…to order."
Ron grinned. "Catchy title."
Hermione shot him a contemptuous look. Harry smiled at his two best friends from where he lay down on the lounge. His girlfriend Parvati was resting on top of him, comfortably lazing in the fire's warmth. It had been almost five weeks since they had left Grimmauld Place. Mr Weasley had recovered nicely and Harry and Parvati had been slowly working through their problems; Harry was starting to open up more, not only Parvati, but to Ron and Hermione too. Even so, nightmares still haunted the Boy Who Lived: his dreams were ghosted by images of that room, that same room…
Harry refocused on the conversation at hand.
"So, we've all agreed that we need to actually learn how to defend ourselves against Dark magic, and that Umbridge is not the person who can teach us properly," said Hermione. "Plus, Harry has finally agreed to be the one to teach us what we need to know."
Harry rolled his eyes as Hermione smirked, satisfied with her victory. She had nagged him for weeks.
"Now all we need to do is figure out how to recruit people, and where to have meetings."
Harry frowned, unsure. "Hermione, it's not like people will be lining up…"
"You're more popular than you think, Harry," protested Parvati before turning to Hermione. "How about we just get the word around? I'm sure Padma will tell all the Ravenclaws."
"Sounds good," she agreed, "but where can we actually meet?"
The group discussed possible meeting places - empty classrooms, Hogsmeade - but these places weren't secretive enough for a band of students to illegally meet regularly, particularly considering Professor Umbridge's most recent restrictions.
Hermione set finding a place to set up for their defence meetings as homework for herself and her three friends, and they finished plotting for the night.
Hermione bade them all goodnight as she put the fire out with a quick wave of her wand. She made her way up to her dorm room. Ron slowly made his way up the boy's staircase.
Harry kissed Parvati goodnight as he leaned against the back of the lounge: out of the corner of his eyes, he saw Ron pull a face. Harry smiled inwardly and kissed Parvati more passionately. Ron quickly retreated to his dorm.
Parvati ended the kiss and leant her head tenderly against Harry's chest, her hands snaking around his warm, defined waist.
"Ugh," Parvati groaned, "We have that stupid career thing with McGonagall tomorrow."
Harry rolled his eyes. "It won't be that bad, Par."
"Yeah, but I don't really know what I want to do when I leave school!"
Harry lightly kissed his girlfriend on her forehead reassuringly, and she lifted her head so her eyes met with his. She traced the dark shadows under his eyes delicately.
"If you can't sleep tonight, come and wake me up and we'll share my bed together?" Parvati suggested. He's obviously still dreaming about that weird room, she decided. He looked like he hadn't slept properly for weeks.
"Sounds tempting…you know how I love your bunny pyjamas." Harry joked weakly. "But then you won't get any sleep either."
"But I'll be with you."
"Mmmm," Harry considered the enticing option. He swore that sometimes Parvati was better than a Calming Draught. "Thanks. I might take you up on that offer."
Harry embraced Parvati once more, his lips lingering on hers.
Harry awoke the next morning to a rain soaked sky.
He watched as the rain hit against the far dormitory window, each clear droplet winding down the length of the window and conforming into the puddle on the window ledge. Each transparent globule was predictable in its movements, but the monotony was mesmerising to watch. The quick and graceful fall of each raindrop and the way it trickled down until it pooled on the ledge. The predictability made Harry wistful: if he truly thought about it, his only constants were Ron, Hermione and Parvati.
Harry closed his eyes. He needed to really thank them for all they had done for him lately. Ron had stayed up with Harry a couple of nights playing Wizards Chess so he could keep his nightmares at bay; Hermione had even done his whole Transfiguration essay because he'd fallen asleep in class when they'd been taking notes on the subject; Parvati had always patiently listened to his theories about the mysterious room that ghosted his dreams and distracted him in the most wonderful ways when need be. His friends had been right. Sharing what was happening…was actually helpful. It made him process events better, and it was good to hear other people's opinions on matters. It felt good to listen and talk to people he could trust.
Harry opened his eyes as the pressure of rain became denser and stared at out the window languidly. The white-grey expanse of sky did nothing to pry Harry from under his covers. He wished he could stay in bed today, falling asleep to the sound of rainwater lightly smacking against glass.
Harry gave the dreary sky an annoyed glance, as if it were the sky's fault he had to get out of bed and go to school. The only good thing about Harry's lessons would be that his career meeting with his head of house fell into the same time slot as Defence against the Dark Arts.
No Umbridge today!
It took a couple of minutes, but soon enough Harry made his way into the Great Hall. The sleep-deprived teen slid into the breakfast table to the left of his girlfriend. Harry's fellow dorm mates were sitting at the far end of the Gryffindor table. Dean and Neville were chatting amiably while Seamus seemed to be brooding over his bacon. Parvati and Lavender were having hushed conversation next to Harry: it seemed Lavender was refusing to tell Parvati something. Parvati was playfully prodding her friend with the end of her fork, trying to force the answer out. Harry swiftly gave Parvati a kiss on the cheek as a way of saying hello. She shot him a quick smile over her shoulder as she continued to badger Lavender.
Harry felt satisfied with his morning - seeing Parvati always brightened his day - until he looked across the breakfast table to see Hermione looking something akin to proud, flicking her wand absentmindedly. She paused in effortlessly changing the colour of her fork from metallic silver to periwinkle blue - a prerequisite for the Charms exams Harry had yet to fully accomplish. Harry lowered his gaze to his empty plate as he felt his face heat up in slight embarrassment.
"Excited for no Defence today, Harry?" asked Hermione conversationally as Harry scooped his scrambled eggs onto his spoon. Harry inwardly felt relief: it seemed he wouldn't be getting a lecture about exams this morning after all.
Harry swallowed his first mouthful before answering. "Yeah, it should be good."
"Have you picked a career yet, Harry?" prodded Hermione, idly changing her knife to a tangerine hue.
"Not really," replied Harry honestly, distracted for a moment as a wave of Hermione's wand turned the knife bright yellow. "Sirius said I'd be a good Auror, but I dunno…I reckon I'll just wait and see what McGonagall thinks I should do. What about you?"
"Mmm, kind of…I can't really decide. All of those pamphlets we were given made even Filch's job sound interesting! I'm debating between, well, becoming a professor or becoming a fiction writer."
"I can see you as a writer," replied Harry encouragingly. "You certainly read enough."
"What abouuuut…" Harry elongated the word as he thought, "…what about…being an Auror?"
Ron, who was sitting next to Hermione, let his spoon fall out of his mouth and into his bowl of porridge. He was consequently flecked with his breakfast but didn't appear to notice.
"Hermione?" repeated Ron loudly as a globule of his breakfast slid down his long nose. "Hermione be an Auror? You must be mental, Harry!"
Harry frowned, quickly casting a look at Hermione who appeared to be very hurt by Ron's words. "No way, Ron." he argued. "Hermione's smart and a heck of a lot better than most of us with wand work."
Ron still looked at Harry as though he had lost his marbles. "But -"
Hermione spoke indignantly through her teeth. "But what, Ronald?" she asked shrilly.
Ron's brown eyes widened: Hermione could be well fierce when she wanted to be.
"Uh, I mean…I was just…" Ron fumbled anxiously.
Hermione stood up.
"You know what, Ronald Weasley? I don't care what you think career I should have. God knows anything career I choose will be far better than any job a prat like you could do."
And with that, Hermione lifted up Ron's bowl of porridge, tipped it onto his head and stalked out of the Great Hall with her head held high.
Ron comically spat out a mouthful of porridge.
Harry gave his friend a look. "You deserved that," he said bluntly. He decided Ron didn't deserve him using the incantation evanesco to clean the porridge off his head, either. He still thought Hermione would make a rather good Auror.
Ron's response was that of silence, so Harry dug into his breakfast once more, vowing never to cross Hermione - especially around examination time.
Harry felt a small pair of arms wrap around his waist as Parvati leant against him.
"Hey, Harry," greeted Parvati softly. "Did you sleep okay?"
"Not too badly…better than the night before."
Parvati nuzzled her head against Harry's chest. Her voice was muffled as she spoke.
"I was thinking that maybe tonight we could, you know, do something nice."
"That'd be great," replied Harry with a small smile. "What are you thinking?"
Parvati lifted her head, her brown hair all mussed up just the way Harry liked it, and the look in her eyes was devious. "It's a surprise!" she said wickedly.
"What's brought this on?"
"Oh, you know, just talking to Lavender. Apparently we are the most boring item in Hogwarts because we don't go on dates much or some rubbish."
Harry quirked an eyebrow at Parvati's comment as her responded, "She should trying having confusing visions and fighting Death Eaters and see how she manages to find time to go out."
Parvati rolled her eyes. "Knowing Lavender, she'd manage it."
Soon enough, time came for their first class. Harry bade his girlfriend goodbye as he headed off to Transfiguration and she went to Divination.
"I hope your career advice thingy goes well." Parvati wished Harry, referring to his appointment that filled the time slot for their second class of the day. They shared a kiss before parting ways.
"I'll meet you in the common room at six-thirty tonight, Harry!" she called.
Parvati giggled as she led Harry down the corridor, a hand pressed to his back so as the steady him. They had met in the common room shortly after dinner, just as planned. Parvati must have said something to Hermione because she didn't kick up a fuss about exams, which were the following day.
"There wasn't much point in blindfolding me," Harry reasoned as he blindly walked forward, "I can barely see without my glasses."
Parvati smiled broadly as she turned another corner. "Shush, you, we might get caught by Filch again."
Harry let out an amused laugh. "Where are you taking me?" he asked.
"I'm not going to tell you," said Parvati in a singsong voice that echoed off the decadent walls.
Harry groaned. "You can be such a tease…"
A voice stirred from the left wall. A rather uptight looking man was leaning against the edge of his portrait as he reprimanded, "I say, young man, that's no way to speak to a lady!"
"What the-?" Harry began as Parvati burst out laughing. She proceeded to steer Harry faster down the corridor as they ran past the very affronted oil painting. After a while they slowed down: Harry began to get used to walking without sight.
"So," began Harry conversationally, "how your career's advice go?"
"Pretty good," Parvati answered, "McGonagall gave me all this advice about different careers and stuff that she thought I'd be good at. She said my Sight would be a big hiring advantage. Um…I told her about the whole fashion designing stuff, and she gave my bucket loads of pamphlets and information about textiles in the Wizarding World, which was cool. How about you?"
"It wasn't bad. I'm still pretty undecided: McGonagall said I'd be a good Auror, but she mentioned other things like teaching."
"What, like be a professor at Hogwarts?"
"Wow, that'd be awesome."
It took a few more minutes for the pair to reach their destination. Parvati undid the blindfold and gave Harry his glasses to put back on. His eyes adjusted to the lenses, and everything came in focus. In front of Harry was a plain wall.
"Uhhh...Parvati?" inquired Harry awkwardly, "What are we doing in front of a wall?"
The brown haired witch was busy pacing back and forth in front of the wall.
"This is no ordinary wall, Harry. It's apparently called the Come and Go room, or the Room of Requirement."
In a split second, the wall had transformed. Harry was awestruck as Parvati excitedly led him into the room. Parvati was animatedly babbling about their surroundings, looking very pleased with what she had accomplished.
"Well, I thought about the Astronomy Tower, you know, but I thought the chances of finding it unoccupied would be pretty low. So I asked Lavender where we could have a few hours alone to ourselves…and she suggested this place."
Harry looked at his surroundings. In the middle of the room, there was a large queen-sized bed, encircled with small candles. The ceiling had been enchanted like the one in the Great Hall – it showed a perfect starry night.
"This is amazing, Par," said the raven-haired wizard in awe. "How…?" He left the question hanging.
Parvati explained to Harry how the Room worked as she pulled off her coat. Harry's mouth went dry as he saw what his girlfriend was wearing underneath.
She was wearing her usual pair of blue jeans, but Harry wasn't noticing that. All he could focus on was the low-cut black t-shirt with tiny straps. It fit her body perfectly. Harry almost choked when he saw the necklace he had given her as a birthday present dangling close to her generous cleavage. The amethyst jewels on the locket glittered in the starlight. Parvati's brown eyes were warm. Once again Harry noticed how visible Parvati's cleavage was.
"Wow," was all Harry could manage to say.
Parvati ducked her head in embarrassment. Parvati left he coat on the ground and wrapped her arms around Harry's waist. He pulled them both onto the bed. For a long while they stared at the enchanted dark sky above them, at peace in each other's presence.
Harry traced out a pattern of twinkling celestial bodies with his finger. "Look," he said quietly, pointing at a formation of stars, "it's the Orion constellation."
Parvati let out a half groan, half laugh beside him. "Please, I don't want to think about Astronomy until the actual exam."
Parvati smiled up at the sky as she continued. "I have no idea why Hermione's freaking out - she's going to beat us all, she's way too smart. …Uhhh. Defence exam tomorrow, first thing."
Parvati frowned: Harry wasn't talking much. She propped herself up on her elbow to get a better look at her boyfriend. "Harry, are you okay?"
"I'm sorry," Harry apologised sincerely, "I just…I can't stop thinking about the room. I mean, I'm scared. Its obvious Voldemort wants me for something but no one's telling me anything…not even Sirius. I just feel very lost sometimes."
Harry faltered, his voice cracking. "I'm so sorry, I - I should just shut up, I'm totally ruining this night. I'm sorry."
Parvati stared at him for a moment before giving him a comforting kiss. "It's okay, Harry, it's okay," she soothed. She moved her fingers though his messy hair in a mothering gesture, and Harry leant into her. "I'm scared too," she replied honestly. "I don't know how to control my visions and it kills me that I can't help you out."
Parvati traced the tired circles under Harry's eyes that seemed to be eternally etched into his skin. He looked so weary.
Harry cleared his throat, trying not to let Parvati see that he was choked up.
Parvati closed her eyes for a moment. When she opened them, she seemed a lot happier. "This is why I wanted to do this tonight. To be with you, alone. So for at least one night we can forget everything apart from ourselves."
Harry let himself be overcome by Parvati's presence. He slowly calmed himself until all he could see and think of was Parvati. He watched as she moved so her body was above his.
Parvati moulded her body slowly down against Harry's, her lips to his. Harry hungrily kissed Parvati back, until he let his mouth be parted by her tongue. They began kissing deeper, his tongue exploring hers into her glorious mouth. Harry's hands travelled downward as he reached up under Parvati's shirt, her skin smooth and hot against his touch.
Parvati began suckling Harry's neck, her soft, warm lips pressing hard and lovely against his ivory skin. Harry's mouth explored new places: the back of her mocha-hued neck, her collarbone, her earlobe. A few times their eyes would meet; the corners of her lips would quirk, her eyes heavily lidded with lust. Their words of love were whispered in the night air.
Parvati's hands were in Harry's sable hair. The mothering gesture had turned into something fierce and ravenous. They bodies were leisurely moving in reply to one another's. Slowly, Parvati smoothed her hands down Harry's front. Harry's back arched and she motioned him to take off his shirt. Harry felt the soft texture of the sheets underneath his back.
The room was silent apart from their heavy breathing. Harry stared up at the starry ceiling, deciding as Parvati lay a kiss on his neck that she was far more beautiful than any constellation. She left a trail of kisses along his torso as she moved towards his jeans.
Harry felt hyper-aware of his body's reactions towards Parvati. He looked down as she slowly undid the zipper. Harry could feel himself starting to rise. Parvati removed his jeans, and then his underwear. Harry looked at Parvati. He loved the way her shirt fitted her torso, the way her perfect breasts were cupped with a purple bra beneath her shirt, the way her skin glowed in the candlelight.
Harry could feel himself erect and in Parvati's hands.
He didn't want to put Parvati in a position where she didn't feel comfortable, but oh sweet Merlin Harry felt comfortable in her hands. He wished he could return the feeling to her. He wished he could make her moan as he sucked her nipples; hear her pleasure as he felt her wetness.
Parvati slowly touched the length of Harry's erection, and she moved closer. He gave out a little moan of pleasure. Harry breathed in and out quickly, his body aflame with rash and irrevocable desire. Harry asked, "Are you sure…?"
Parvati's chocolate eyes met Harry's. "I want to," she said in a soft voice, her lips wet.
Harry willingly gave himself to her.
He woke up to a decadent sight in the morning. The sun was bright and hot above their bed. He didn't want to move.
Parvati was soundly asleep beside him, her small hands resting on his bare chest. Her hair was an adorable mess, framing her face. She was dressed in Harry's shirt and tangled in the soft sheets.
Harry gave her a tender kiss on her forehead, and smoothed her hair lovingly. Parvati squirmed and unconsciously turned so that she wasn't facing Harry. Her breathing was still deep.
Harry draped an arm over Parvati as he whispered in her ear, "Par, it's time to get up."
Parvati pulled the sheets closer to her body. "No, m'sleep," she mumbled.
Harry placed a kiss on her check, noticing with a weird sort of pride that there was a love bite on her neck. "Come on, exams, remember?"
Parvati sighed heavily, and threw back her covers. She turned to face Harry.
"Good morning," she said quietly, a coy smile on her face. She batted her eyelashes at Harry.
Harry gulped. "Good morning," he replied as Parvati flung her arms around his neck and gave him a huge hug.
"Thank you," he said genuinely in her ear, "for last night."
"It wasn't, wasn't it?" said Parvati almost dreamily. "I had fun."
Parvati let out a giggle as she adjusted Harry's glasses. He hadn't realised they had already become lopsided. "Oh, wow, did I do that?"
Harry frowned. "Do what?"
Parvati laughed as she climbed out of bed and changed into her school robes that had magically appeared earlier that morning. "You'll see," she impishly said.
It took them a little longer than usual - Harry had decided to show his gratitude to Parvati by overwhelming her with kisses - to get up to breakfast.
Harry resisted the urge to pull Parvati into his lap as they sat down side by side for breakfast. Hermione was frantically scouring her Defence against the Dark Arts notes, and Ron was devouring his bacon and eggs. Seamus, who was sitting next to Lavender, arched an eyebrow at Harry.
"Looks like you had fun last night, Harry," he commented. Lavender arched over to see what Seamus was looking at and laughed.
"Nice, Parvati," she praised.
"What did you do to me?" Harry wondered.
Neville looked amused, even though he blushed, as Dean told, "Harry, mate, it looks like Parvati sucked half your neck off. You have about a zillion hickeys."
Harry had the decency to look a little embarrassed, but he didn't really mind. He hadn't felt this carefree in a while. "I love you," Harry whispered to Parvati as he kissed on the cheek quickly.
Hermione stopped looking over at her notes and spoke to him for a moment.
"Okay, okay, fun's over. Don't you realise in less than five minutes our first exam is scheduled?"
Dean checked his watch. "Actually, it's on now."
Hermione's eyes were wide. "What!" she cried hysterically. "You mean we're late? Oh, God, oh…"
Ron rolled his eyes. "Honestly, Hermione, sop worrying! This exam is going to be easy."
The Defence against the Dark Arts exam was not easy, Harry was finding out. The questions were hard.
He looked at the back of Parvati's head as he tapped his quill absentmindedly on the wooden desk. The noise reverberated around the room. He wished he could see through her head and onto her exam paper. He'd love to know the answer to question thirty-two…
…A cold voice spoke over the screams of the man.
"I see you will not be easily persuading in fetching it for me."
Sirius was crouched on the ground backed up against tall shelves full of glass spheres. It was the cathedral-sized room that had been haunting Harry's dreams. There was a long gash on Sirius's face and he looked severely shaken.
Sirius's head was raised and his voice was coloured with the utmost defiance and loathing as he replied to Lord Voldemort, "I will never do your bidding. You'll have to kill me first."
An eerie laugh echoed along the high shelves. Lord Voldemort's eyes were red slits, cold and furious.
"Very well," Voldemort replied, and raised his wand high into the air…
Harry screamed and he wrenched open his eyes. He was staring at the ceiling. He could feel the cool marble floor of the examination area beneath. He could feel his scar burning horribly, and something cold was dripping down his face. He could see Ron and Hermione's worried faces above him. Parvati helped him unsteadily to his feet.
"Your scar!" Parvati exclaimed shakily. "Harry, your scar is bleeding! What happened?"
"Sirius," was all that Harry could manage to choke out.