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Hermione and the New Girl….

Part Two

By Mena Baines

It was the next morning, only the second day since Rosa M. McNally had arrived at Hogwarts, and Hermione was fighting with Harry. She hadn’t quite realized the two of them were fighting at any given point, it just came to be a fact as the day went on. Hermione didn’t even see Harry until after breakfast was almost over, but still, she knew they were having a fight—their very first since they’d known each other. Hermione was suprisingly unaffected—she was almost realived to be angry with Harry for once—being infatuated with him all the time was tiresome.

In the meantime, Ron was totally oblivious. He was looking over his Potions notes so that he wouldn’t be lost on today’s test. Hermione clicked her tounge at him, but helped him, nevertheless.

“ You’ll never learn,” Hermione said, shaking her head at the nervous Ron, “ You can’t just study ten minutes before the test and expect to feel confident about the information!”

“ Save the speech,” Ron pleaded, “ Just tell me what poisonous flowers you need to make weightless potion—quick!” Hermione groaned.

“ Come on, Ron, you should know that—“ she heard a familier carefree laugh from across the Great Hall and turned to see Rosa and Harry walking in together, wearing Quidditch robes. Hermione remembered with disgust that they’d planned last night on practicing Quidditch together that morning. Among other things, I’m sure, Hermione thought sourly.

“ Here comes Miss America,” she muttered as Harry and Rosa approached the Quidditch table. Ron was too busy breaking out into a cold sweat over the 15 uses of thoguiuf blubs to notice her comment.

“ Hey guys,” Harry said, speaking most obviously to Ron and Ginny more than to Hermione. Hermione grabbed a page of Ron’s notes and pretended to read it with intent. Rosa sat down next to her and peered over her shoulder at the paper.

“ Ick, Potions.” She said, “ My worst subject. I hope the teacher is nice, at least.” Everyone else at the table snorted with laughter. “What?” she asked.

“ Man, Ron, you should have seen Rosa on the Quidditch court!” Harry exclaimed, “ Like a brick wall on a broom stick—nothing gets past her.”

“ Uh-huh,” Ron said hurriedly scribbling some Potions equations down on his notes. “ How did that weightless one go, exactly, Hermione?”

Hermione smiled, pleased to see Harry getting ignored. She helped Ron with his equations, trying not to notice the flitty, easy way Rosa and Harry spoke to each other.

“ Oh, I’ve taken some nasty falls on the court, too—why just a couple weeks ago…”

“ Really? Well have you ever flew off your broomstick at 70 miles per hour on a….”

“ Blimey—unbelieveable—it’s a wonder you don’t have scars!”

“ Well, yeah, speaking of scars, I must say yours is most impressive in person…”

“ Hermione!” Ron shouted, “ Are you listening to me?” he was glancing furioulsy back and forth from the clock on the wall to her, “ We haven’t got much time!” he whined. Hermione was silently stirring with anger that increased with every light-hearted giggle from Harry and Rosa’s side of the table.

“ Well it’s not my fault that you’re totally un-prepared!” Hermione shouted at Ron. He looked back at her, surprised and hurt. Hermione had no sympathy for him—did Ron know what she was going through here? Did he care? No—all he wanted was the answers to the barage of homework sheets he hadn’t bothered to do. Hermione was tired of it. She gathered up her things and stomped off.

“ Hermione!” she heard someone calling to her as she walked off, and she turned to see Ginny hurrying after her and looking worried. “ Hermione—what’s wrong?” she asked, placing a friendly hand on her shoulder.

“ Oh, it’s…nothing,” Hermione said through gritted teeth. “ I’m…having a fight with Harry. I think.”

“ Really? I’ve never seen the two of you fight…he didn’t seem very cross with you this morning.” Ginny reasoned.

“ Probably because he didn’t even notice I was there,” Hermione said huffily, “ Too busy pining over the “ brick wall”.” She said with a scoff.

“ Ohhh…” Ginny said, a tiny smile playing on her lips.

“ Don’t get smug!” Hermione shouted before she could say anything, “ I’m NOT jealous. I’m just…just…”

“ Jealous?”

“ Precisely.”

Hermione spent the rest of the morning hanging around with Ginny and complaining about Harry’s sudden interest in Rosa. Ginny insisted that he was just happy to have a talented new Keeper on his team, but Hermione could certainly see past that patronizing argument. When Seamus showed up and threw his arm around Ginny, Hermione couldn’t take the sight of the two of them together, and excused herself to go apologize to Ron.

But when she got back to the Gryfinndor table she realized with a growing fear that there was no place for her there. Rosa had moved over into her old seat, and was patiently instructing Ron on how to mix gouieg weed with salamander tails to make water replelant potion. Hermione recalled sadly one rainy Quidditch match when she’d used that very potion to keep the rain off of Harry’s glasses so that he could see the little Snitch through the down-pour. She looked around for Harry, but he was no where to be seen. Hermione looked at the clock—she still had ten minutes before she had to be in Potions. She considered going to Moaning Myrtle’s bathroom hangout to mope for awhile, and then decided that would only make her feel worse. She headed on to Potions, figuring she could get in some extra studing before class started. Snape will probably tease me, Hermione thought, but it’s not as if I could feel any worse.

****************************************************************************

When Hermione arrived in class, she saw Harry already there, working out some practice problems with a few other Gryffindors he had been studying with. Hermione wanted to join them, but couldn’t bear the thought of Harry ignoring her anymore, so she sat as far from their group as possible, trying not to let her eyes water up.

She heard someone approach her, and worried it was Snape, looked up timidly, only to see Harry staring down at her, looking distressed.

“ What?” she asked, quickly looking back at her notes. Harry sat down next to her.

“ Are you mad at me?” he asked. Hermione wanted to smack him. Of COURSE she was mad at him—why were boys so dense?

“ Why would I be mad at you?” she asked haltingly. “ I…I’m just trying to study.”

“ Well you screamed at me last night and we haven’t really spoken since.” He said, leaning over her shoulder to read her notes. “ Cripes—I’m doomed. I haven’t studied for this at all. I got back from practice so late last night, and this morning Rosa got me up at the crack of dawn to tryout for Keeper.” Hermione saw him roll his eyes and her heart jumped with delight.

“ Maybe you should pay less attention to Quidditch and more to your…” Harry sighed loudly and Hermione let her lecture trail off. They looked at each other like each was trying to read the other’s mind. Other students were starting to file into the classroom, all looking paniced about the up-coming test. Hermione’s mind was so far from the test they were about to have that for the first time in her life she didn’t really care what she made on it.

“ Anyway, tommorow’s the weekend.” Harry said, looking away, “ So we’re going to Hogsmeade, right?”

“ Right.” Hermione said. Maybe they could work some things out there…

“ Remind Rosa about it, huh?” Harry said, getting up, “ I invited her this morning, but she probably gets so many invitations, that…well, you know,” he said, smiling.

“ Fine.” Hermione said flatly, her hopes of reconciling with Harry flying out the window. She glued her eyes to her notes and he walked away. Rosa then walked in with Ron looking at her adoreingly as she put the finishing touches on her expert explanations of the workings of Potions. I thought she said it was her worst subject, Hermione thought bitterly. Ron went to sit with Harry, and Rosa sat down beside Hermione before she could pretend the seat was reserved.

“ Ick, what a creepy classroom,” she said, looking around Snape’s dungeon. “ And the teacher doensn’t look much better,” she said, glancing at Snape, who was giving the class his usual introduction glare. Hermione didn’t respond, though Rosa didn’t seem to notice, as she was curiously surveying the Slyterin side of the classroom.

“ Put your notes AWAY!” Snape was shouting in the direction of Ron and Harry, who were getting in some last minute reviewing. “ Five points from Gryffindor for Potter and Weasley’s dawdling.” He said snidely.

Rosa’s hand went up in the air. Hermione tried to supress a groan. If she was going to try arguing with Snape about his unfair removal of Gryffindor points….Hermione covered her face with her hand.

“ What?” Snape snapped in her direction.

“ I’m new here,” Rosa said cheerily, “ And I’d like to introduce myself to the class if you don’t mind.” She said, getting up. Hermione snickered. She’d never heard of a student ASKING to go before the class to talk about themselves.

“ Take a SEAT.” Snape barked at her, and Rosa frowned. “ We have a test today and we don’t have time for your biographical monolouge.” He added viciously.

The Slytherin side of the room laughed, as they often did, at Snape’s cruelty. Draco Malfoy looked especially tickled.

“ We don’t really care who you are, anyway.” Malfoy assured her with a mean grin.

“ Is that so?” Rosa asked cooly, not sitting down.

“ Rosa,” Hermione muttered, tugging on her skirt to try and make her sit.

“ I believe I asked you to TAKE A SEAT,” Snape said, fuming.

“ Well maybe I have another QUESTION.” Rosa shot back rudely.

“ Well perhaps you can ask it FROM YOUR SEAT!” Snape returned, furious. “ Ten points from Gryffindor for this NEW girl’s insubordination.” The Slytherins were rolling with laughter by this point.

“ RO-SA!” Hermione said, yanking her into her seat.

“ Ms. Granger, I know how much you relish bossing the other students around, but if you could please allow the new student to learn her own lessons it would be GREATLY APPRECIATED!” Snape shouted, practically in Hermione’s face. She felt tears welling up behind her eyes. I was only trying to help…

“ HEY!” Rosa said, jumping up again, “ Don’t you dare be mean to her! Hermione didn’t do anything—“

“ LOOK HERE—“ Hermione had never seen Snape’s face go so red with anger…

“ And you’d better get used to insubordination around here from now on, Mister Snape, because I’M ROSA MCNALLY AND INSUBORDINATION IS MY MIDDLE NAME!!” Rosa screamed, suprisingly evoking cheers from the Gryffindor side of the room. Hermione would have thought they’d be upset—their house would surely lose a boat-load of points after this incident.

“ Rosa Insubordination McNally.” They heard Draco say over the cheers and laughter, “ Do they call you RIM for short?” he asked, sending the Slyterins into more fits of laughter. Rosa only looked at him and smiled. She seemed so totally unaffected by what was going on that Hermione wondered again if she was human.

“ GET OUT OF MY CLASSROOM!” Snape shouted. By now several other Professors had gathered at the door to see what the commotion was. Rosa went to Professor McGonagall, who stood looking baffled.

“ He was mean to me!” Rosa said, “ And it’s only my first day…he…he….” Hermione saw tears rush down her cheeks that she was sure were phony. McGonagall didn’t seem fooled, but Professors Flitwick and Sprout gave Snape a harsh look as they left with the sobbing Rosa.

“ Unbelieveable,” Hermione whispered to herself, still not sure what to think about what had just happened.

“ SILENCE!” Snape shouted, throwing a test in front of her. “ NO ONE IS TO SPEAK FOR THE REST OF CLASS!” He said, throwing himself down at his desk to calm down. There were snickers from both the Gryffindor and the Slthyterin side before they started in on their test.

Hermione looked over at Harry and they exchanged a wide eyed look and a grin. Hermione’s heart over-flowed with happiness and she looked down at her test, unable to see the words on the paper, or anything but the image of Harry’s smile.

****************************************************************************

At lunch, they met up with Rosa at the Gryffindor table. She was calmly snacking on chocalate frogs and reading a book Hermione had never heard of: The Werewolf Who Loved Me.

“ Hey,” she said, looking up as the group approached the table. “ Look what Dumbledore gave me after my ordeal. Want one?” she asked, tossing Hermione a chocalate frog. Harry caught it and handed to her.

“ What…happened to you?” he asked, “ Were you punished? Did they take more points from our house?”

“ No, no.” Rosa said with a mouthful of chocalate, “ I told them what happened and they said they’d have Snape apologize to me if I would apologize to him.” She rolled her eyes. “ As if he deserves it. Then they gave me the day off to cool down.” She shrugged. “ I just hung out with Madame Hooch on the Quidditch court all morning. She’s really nice. And now—here I am.” She smiled, and Harry grinned back at her.

“ I don’t believe you.” He said, “ I would have been killed.” Rosa shrugged.

“ Yeah, well.” She said, “ I don’t deal with authority figures unless they’re…well…SANE. What’s WRONG with that guy?”

“ Who knows.” Ron said. “ I try not to notice. I just hope I passed his test.”

Hermione slumped down on the other side of the table. As was the trend when Rosa was around, she was being ignored.

“ So are you coming to Hogsmeade with us tommorow Herm-oine?” Rosa asked.

“ Of course she’s coming,” Ron said, “ Hermione never misses a trip to Hogsmeade.” Hermione smiled slightly at him, glad he wasn’t mad at her for snapping at him that morning. She remembered when they were kids and Harry wasn’t allowed to go to Hogsmeade. She used to go just to fill her pockets with candy for him, so that he wouldn’t feel too left out.

“ I suppose I could go for a few hours.” Hermione said, casualy. “ I really have a lot I need to get done before the winter holidays…”

“ That’s the spirit, Herm-oine!” Rosa said, beaming. “ Homework later, friends first.” She said, throwing her arms around Ron and Harry, who sat on either side of her. Yeah, my friends, Hermione thought, you theif.

****************************************************************************

Hermione went to bed early that night, skipping her usuall routine of pretending to do her homework while bonding with Harry in the common room. I’m too tired for that, she thought sullenly, dragging into her bedroom. Besides, Rosa had already launched into her story about making it rain in the gym the night of her homecoming dance, after she’d lost the vote for homecoming queen. It only took one “ You’d surely win, Rosa, if we had a homecoming queen here!” from Dean Thomas to send Hermione off to bed.

She wasn’t really sleeping, mostly just thinking sadly of the good times she’d had with Harry before Rosa had come and ousted her without even meaning to. Hermione had finally begun to drift off when she heard Rosa come in from the common room. It was so quiet in Gryffindor Tower, the other students must have turned in as well. Rosa crept in quietly so that Hermione wouldn’t wake. The only sound Hermione could hear as she succumbed to sleep was the clinking of Rosa’s many earrings as she took them off and dropped them into the little china dish she kept on their dresser. Clink. Hermione started to remember something as her eyelids dropped. Clink. Something shimmering and soft and satiny tan. Clink. It was a nightgown…she was wearing it. Clink. The earrings sounded far away now.

Hermione was walking through the forrest, quickly, and looking worried. She was wearing the nightgown—long, satin and sleeveless with small straps—where had she gotten that thing? She could sense suddenly that something was wrong. She had a long, bloodly gash on her left arm. I should really put a bandage on that, Hermione thought as she watched herself walking more quickly through the woods, searching for something with eyes that grew more terrified with each step. I wonder where I got such a nasty cut, Hermione wondered, wishing she could reach inside and stop the blood from dripping onto her pretty nightgown. No, the Hermione in the dream seemed to tell her subconciously, no, that doesn’t matter. All that matters is Harry. You have to find Harry! Then Hermione heard it, a scream that pierced through the serenity of the forrest and stirred her uncomfortablly. “ HARRY!”

Hermione’s eyes popped open with a start. She was lying in her bed, staring at the ceiling. But she was out of breath, gasping for air as if she HAD been walking quickly though the forbidden forrest. Hermione looked down to see herself wearing her usual lavander, cotton nightgown, and glanced at her bare arm to make sure she didn’t actually have a bleeding wound. Of course she didn’t, but the dream had seemed so real. I hope I really didn’t scream Harry’s name like that, Hermione thought, shivering. She didn’t think so, though, because Rosa was still sound asleep in her bed. Nevertheless, Hermione climbed out of her bed and walked quietly toward the boy’s dorms. Something about that dream worried her…

In the dark it was almost difficult to tell which room was Harry and Ron’s. She peeked into one of the rooms near the end of the hall and saw the brilliant red of a sleeping Ron’s hair. Hermione crept inside, peering over at Harry’s bed to make sure he was asleep there, safe and sound.

Sure enough, there was Harry, curled up under the covers with one arm around his pillow. His glasses rested on the bedside table, a reflection of the moon shining brightly from their lenses. Hermione stood there for a moment, watching Harry sleeping. He was really handsome without his glasses on, and almost angelic-looking as he slept peacefully. Hermione turned to leave, telling herself that being half-asleep was no excuse for sneaking into the boys’ dorms.

She was almost to the door when she heard a tiny voice call to her through the darkness. “ Hermione? ” Hermione bit her lip, embarrassed, and turned to try and explain to her friend why she’d barged into his room at night. But Harry was still asleep. Hermione looked at Ron, and he was also slumbering silently. She glanced back at Harry and saw that he’d rolled over onto his back, and was turning his head back in forth fitfully. He’s talking in his sleep, Hermione realized, not knowing what to think.

“ Don’t…” Harry was muttering, eyes closed, lost in some dream…or nightmare. “ Don’t, it’s not…don’t…you don’t…” he mumbled erratically, his brows creased into a subconcious frown. Hermione felt very entrusive, and went to leave again, but Harry seemed so upset…

“ Hermione!” he cried, so loudly that she was afraid he’d wake Ron. Hermione’s heart broke for Harry—he’d told her before that he sometimes had horrible nightmares about his parents’ deaths. But why was he calling her name. “ Oh, no—please!” Harry wailed, and Hermione couldn’t bear to watch him so uneasy, even in his sleep. She went to his bed and gingerly placed a hand on his shoulder.

“ Hermione!” Harry shouted, sitting bolt upright in bed, his eyes suddenly snapping open. Hermione jumped and gasped in surprise. Her cheeks flushed red and she struggled to explain what she was doing there.

“ Harry, I--,” she began, but before she could finish, Harry fell into her arms, buring his face againist her shoulder and wrapping his arms around her waist. Hermione, startled, didn’t know what to think.

“ There, there,” she whispered, placing her arms gentley around his shoulders. He was shaking like a twig—or was it she who was trembling enough to shake both of them? Hermione took a deep breath. “ It’s okay, Harry, I’m…here.” She cooed.

“ I know,” Harry said, deliriously, “ We’ll be alright. My blood, your blood. It’s okay.” He muttered, his voice muffled againist her bare shoulder and the lacy strap of her nightgown.

“ Harry,” Hermione said, stroking his messy hair and realizing with relief that he was still asleep. “ You’re talking nonsense.”

“ We’ll be alright.” Harry whispered again, squeezing Hermione closer to him. Hermione bent her head and rested her cheek atop his mop of black hair for a moment.

“ Shhh…,” she whispered, “ Go back to sleep.” Hermione wondered if Harry was coming down with something—his forehead felt warm againist her shoulder—or was it just his scar that was warmer than usual? Hermione shuddered. She wondered what he’d been dreaming about…if it had anything to do with the odd dreams she’d been having about the forrest. What had he been mumbling? My blood, your blood…Hermione felt a shiver creep down her spine.

She could have stayed there all night, holding Harry and rocking him to sleep. But she was afraid someone would catch her there—Ron, or even Harry himself, if he suddenly woke. As soon as she felt his breathing become calm and even, she settled him carefully back againist his pillows. Then she left, but not before kissing the lightening scar on his forehead.

“ Sweet dreams, Harry.” Hermione whispered softly.

****************************************************************************

Hermione awoke groggily the next morning to Rosa’s smiling face. The room was filled with an unusual brightness, and when she glanced out the window she saw brilliant white snow covering the trees outside.

“ Happy Thanksgiving!” Rosa shouted, jumping on her bed.

“ Huh? Happy what?” Hermione asked, rubbing her eyes.

“ Thanksgiving!” Rosa proclaimed cheerfully, “ It’s an American holiday. When we celebrate the blessed day we escaped from evil old England!”

“ Oh,” Hermione said, climbing reluctantly out of her warm covers, “ Right.”

“ No offense.” Rosa said, beaming, now jumping on her own bed.

“ Right.” Hermione said again, disappearing into the bathroom to get changed.

Hermione wasn’t very cross with Rosa that morning, not after what had happened last night with Harry. At least he’s dreaming about me, Hermione thought happily, he’s got me on his subcoiuncious mind, anyway. Hermione let Rosa brush her hair and wrap it into tight braids.

“ Now do mine!” Rosa said, excited. Hermione didn’t know where to begin with hair—she’d been trying to ignore hers for years. She remembered a charm she’d learned from her 365 Days of Enchantments calendar last week, and preformed it on Rosa’s hair, so that it shimmered with a magical luster. Rosa was absolutely delighted.

“ Ingenius!” she proclaimed happily of Hermione’s efforts, and Hermione couldn’t help returning her friendly smile. Rosa insisted that Hermione borrow one of her patterned skirts, and though Hermione knew she’d freeze, she had to admit it looked good. She pulled on a pair of black stockings and hurried to the common room with Rosa to meet the boys before they left for Hogsmeade.

Harry and Ron were lazily playing chess on the floor while they waited. Rosa cleared her throat as they entered the room.

“ Whoa!” Ron said, looking up. “ Your—hair!” he said, marveling.

“ Cool,” Harry said, getting up. “ How’d you do that, Rosa?”

“ Me?” Rosa said, “ I had nothing to do with it. This is the work of master soceress Hermione Granger,” she annouced jovially flipping her sparkling hair over her shoulder. “ Isn’t it neat?”

“ I should say so,” Harry said, examing Rosa’s hair a little too closely for Hermione’s comfort. “ Where’d you learn to do that, Hermione?” he asked.

“ Oh, it was…nothing,” Hermione said, looking away from him, still embarrassed somehow about having walked in on his nightmare last night. Harry didn’t seem to have the faintest idea, though, as he was obliviously grinning at her.

“ Hey, look at you!” Ron said, glancing over Hermione’s new hairstyle and shorter than usaual skirt.“ Hermione, you’ve lost your identity.” He proclaimed.

“ I have not.” Hermione muttered, tugging the hem of her skirt down towards her knees.

They met Ginny and Seamus in the Great Hall and left for Hogsmeade as soon as they’d finished breakfast. Of course Rosa was not content to ride there with the rest of the students.

“ Come on!” she said, as they snuck away from the group. “ We can take the Waverunner!”

“ We can take the who?” Ron asked, confused. Rosa looked at Hermione and giggled, but Hermione did not return her enthusiam.

“ There’s no way we can all fit on that thing.” Hermoine said, “ And anyway, it’s dangerous!” Rosa just shrugged and reached into the bushes near the castle where the Waverunner was hidden. She yanked it out, evoking excited gasps from Ron and Harry.

“ Amazing!” Harry said, touching it’s sleek surface as it floated effortlessly beside Rosa. “ How did you—“

“ What IS that thing?” Ron asked.

“ It’s a Muggle machine.” Rosa said, jumping into it’s seat. “ For driving on water. Or air, if you’re me.” She added with a grin. “ Who’s coming with me?” she asked. “ I know Hermione is dying to try it out,” she teased with a devilish grin. Hermione snorted.

“ I want to try!” Harry said, his eyes wide with an odd sort of wonderment. Ron looked hesitant.

“ I’ve had bad experiences with flying Muggle devices.” He muttered, “ Remember Harry? The whomping willow?”

“ Sure, sure.” Harry said, ignoring him and climbing onto the Waverunner with Rosa. Hermione flinched. They were sitting awfully close together…

“ We’ll meet you in town then,” Rosa shouted breezily, taking off, “ At the Three Broomsticks, eh? See you there!” she called as the Waverunner rose higher and sped off towards Hogsmeade.

“ Geez, she sure is…brave,” Ron said. Hermione groaned and stomped off, kicking up snow as she went.

“ Bullocks to her!” Hermione shouted, unable to control herself. “ And to Harry, too! I hope they get caught and are thrown out of Hogwarts. When is Harry going to learn?”

“ Hermione,” Ron said, rolling his eyes. “ Calm down. Let’s go before we miss the train to Hogsmeade.”

“ Why should I want to go to Hogsmeade?” Hermione asked huffily, still angry. “ To see Harry and Little Miss Waverunner drool all over each other? Thanks, but I’ll pass!”

“ Hey—stop it Hermione!” Ron said crossly. “ Boy, you sure do think you know everything, huh?”

“ What’s that supposed to mean?” she demanded.

“ NOTHING.” Ron said, frowning. “ Only that you don’t. Jimminy Christmas, Hermione…”

“ Oh, Ron,” Hermione said, “ I don’t want to hear it. Let’s just get this over with.”

With that they joined the other students climbing onto the train. Hermione and Ron sat in ackward silence as they rode with Ginny and Seamus, who were holding hands and behaving like a couple of lovebirds. Hermione wanted to puke. If she couldn’t be half of a happy couple then she didn’t want to see anyone else behaving so.

When they arrived in Hogsmeade they found it already covered in traditional Christmas decorations. Ron led the way to the Three Broomsticks, and Hermione followed him, sulkingly staring at the ground. Once they walked inside they saw Harry and Rosa sitting at a quiet little table near the back and sharing a mug of butterbeer. Hermione scoffed irately.

“ Should we interupt?” she asked Ron callously. “ They look awfully cozy without us.”

“ Hermione,” Ron said through his teeth, “ You’re being ridiculous.”

They walked to the table and joined the two of them, and Rosa ordered two more mugs of butterbeer.

“ My treat,” she insisted in a sweet voice that made Hermione want to throw a few punches in her direction.

“ You guys have got to try out that Waverunner sometime,” Harry said, shaking his head. “ It’s no Firebird, but it’s awfully fun.”

“ I highly doubt it’s worth getting expelled from school.” Hermione snapped. Before Harry had a chance to retaliate, a smug looking Malfoy approached their table, with Crabbe and Goyle not far behind.

“ Well, well.” He said, “ If it isn’t Insubordination McNally.” He said with a sneer.

“ In the flesh.” Rosa chirped proudly.

“ I see you’ve chosen to hang out the dregs of society.” He said, glancing around the table.

“ Unlike yourself, of course.” Rosa quipped back sarcastically, eyeing Crabbe and Goyle. Harry and Ron snickered.

Malfoy glared at her hotly, “ What do you know about my friends?” he asked. Hermione was surprised that Malfoy was letting the new girl get to him—he was usually pretty cool and indifferent.

“ Probably about as much as you know about mine.” Rosa answered evenly, taking a dainty sip of butterbeer.

“ I know that they consist of a Mudblood and a pauper!” Malfoy annouced.

Harry yawned. “ Malfoy,” he said, “ It’s really getting old.”

“ Potter!” Malfoy yelled, “ You—you shut up!” he stuttered, before stumbling away, embarrassed. Rosa grinned, and leaned forward, watching him go.

“ Well done!” Ron said, slapping her on the back. “ You handled Malfoy like a pro.”

" Potter—you…you shut up!” Harry whimpered, imitating Malfoy and sending Ron into a fit of giggles. “ What a nerd!” he said laughing.

“ Yeah,” Rosa said, still smiling and watching Malfoy from across the bar. “ You think he likes me?”

Hermione’s eyes shot up, and Harry and Ron stopped laughing abrutly.

“ Huh?” Hermione asked, not daring to hope…

“ Draco Malfoy?” Ron asked, in disbelief.

“ Draco Malfoy,” Rosa repeated, “ What a cutie.”

“ Cutie??” Ron asked, “ That means…jerk…in America….Right?”

Rosa laughed, her eyes twinkling. “ Sort of,” she said with a impish grin, “ In America we always fall for the jerks.”

“ Fall for the…but…you…” Ron stuttered, confused. “ Draco??” Rosa laughed again, and stood up.

“ Would you be a dear and take the Waverunner back for me, Harry?” Rosa asked, “ I think I’m going to ride back with Mr. Malfoy, if you don’t mind.”

Harry laughed and shook his head, “ I don’t mind.” He said.

“ Great!” she said, “ See you guys later!” she winked at Hermione.

Hermione felt lost. She jumped up and caught Rosa before she could leave. “ Wait a minute, here.” Hermione said, glancing behind her to make sure the boys were out of earshot. “ But I thought…you and Harry…?”

“ Oh,” Rosa said, laughing. “ As if Harry would ever be interested in me!” she said, “ And anyway, I wouldn’t do that to you.” She said, “ When you’re so obviously in love with him.”

Hermione choaked on air for a moment, and Rosa giggled, “ Did I mention,” she whispered in Hermione’s ear, “ That I’m majoring in Divination?” she tossed Hermione a meaningful look before strutting over to Draco’s table. Hermione just stood there, letting relief wash over her, and feeling that for a moment, Rosa was the greatest person she’d ever met. And then, of course, the feeling passed. *******************************************************************************

Hermione spent the rest of the day ice-skating and eating Peppermint Toads with Ron and Harry. It was quite a sensation to be flying across the ice with a boatload of candy toads dancing around in your stomach. By the end of the day the three of them had laughed so hard that their red cheeks were sore and their voices were horse. Worn out, they followed the crowd to the train station, looking forward to getting back to Hogwarts and having hot showers, and perhaps some food that didn’t bounce around in your stomach.

“ Oh man,” Ron said, still chuckling, “ I’m beat.”

“ Me too,” Harry said, “ And I’ve got to fly Rosa’s Waverunner back to the castle.”

“ Speaking of Rosa,” Hermione said with a satisfied grin, nodding towards her. Rosa was standing on the platform with Malfoy, who had, for once, abandoned Crabbe and Goyle. They appeared to be arguing, but Hermione could see that Rosa was enjoying his company in her own weird little way.

“ I don’t get it.” Ron muttered.

“ Well, I’m off,” Harry said, with a sigh, “ I think she left the Waverunner over by the Three Broomsticks.”

“ Be careful.” Hermione warned.

Harry hesitated for a moment. “ Come with me.” He said, as Ron boarded the train.

“ Me?” Hermione asked, a funny feeling arising in her stomach. “ Oh, no, no—I’m not one for flying.”

“ Hermione,” Harry said, giving her a pitiful look, “ I don’t want to go alone. It’ll be fun—come on.”

“ Harry…,” Hermione moaned, wishing it was anything but Rosa’s homemade flying device that he was inviting her to ride.

“ Come on…” Harry said, slowly grinning, “ You don’t want to ride home on that stuffy old train.”

“ Harry,” Hermione said, grinning slightly, “ I’ve got to go.”

“ Alright, then, it’s settled!” Harry annouced happily, grabbing her around the waist.

“ Harry!” Hermione squealed gleefully, trying to sound annoyed, “ What are you doing!” she was laughing too hard to resist as Harry threw her over one of his broad shoulders. “ Stop this!” she managed to say threw her laughter.

“ Right this way, madam,” Harry said, leading her over to where the Waverunner was stashed.

“ Oh, no, Harry,” Hermione said, as he set her down. “ I’m…scared of that thing.” She admitted reluctantly.

“ I know,” Harry said, climbing on, “ But, here I am, to hold you on. Here, sit in front of me.” Hermione reluctantly stepped forward.

“ I…can’t…” she said, “ I’m no good at this sort of thing.”

“ You don’t have to do anything!” Harry said, “ Just sit here with me and keep me company. Look—it’s almost sunset. It’ll be a beautiful view.”

Hermione let herself smile slowly, and stepped onto the Waverunner with shaky knees. She squeezed onto the seat in front of Harry, and when she settled back into his lap, she had to admit that it wasn’t so scary.

“ Alright,” Harry said, wrapping his arms around her and taking hold of the steering controls, “ We’re off!” he said, and Hermione gasped as the Waverunner rose quickly, lifting them high above the Hogsmeade skyline.

“ Harry,” Hermione said nervously, “ Don’t let me fall.” She whimpered, trying not to look down.

“ Hermione,” Harry said softly, resting his chin on her shoulder and tightening his grip on her, “ I would never let you fall.”

“ I know,” she whispered back. And suddenly, as they soared through the orange-tinted sky toward Hogwarts, with Harry holding her close and the wind in her hair, flying didn’t seem so scary at all.

THE END