[...] and his vision was completely obscured by a large quantity of very bushy hair. Hermione had thrown herself on to him in a hug that nearly knocked him flat [...]
"HARRY! Ron, he's here, Harrys here! We didn't hear you arrive! Oh, how are you? Are you all right? Have you been furious with us? I bet you have, I know our letters were useless - but we couldn't tell you anything, Dumbledore made us swear we wouldn't, oh, we've got so much to tell you, and you've got things to tell us -the Dementors! When we heard - and that Ministry hearing - it's just outrageous, I've looked it all up, they can't expel you, they just can't, there's provision in the Decree for the Reasonable Restriction of Underage Sorcery for the use of magic in life-threatening situations -'
'Let him breathe, Hermione,' said Ron,

Still beaming, Hermione let go of Harry, [...]

"Hermione was going spare, she kept saying you'd do something stupid if you were stuck all on your own without news, but Dumbledore made us-"
"— swear not to tell me," said Harry. "Yeah, Hermione's already said."

Ron was standing there with his mouth half-open, clearly stunned and at a loss for anything to say, whilst Hermione looked on the verge of tears.

"Harry we're really sorry!" said Hermione desperately, her eyes now sparkling with tears. "You're absolutely right, Harry - I'd be furious if it was me!"

Harry snorted. He walked around the room again, looking anywhere but at Ron and Hermione. "So, what have you two been doing, if you're not allowed in meetings?" he demanded. "You said you'd been busy."

"Well, they're writing about you as though you're this deluded, attention-seeking person who thinks he's a great tragic hero or something," said Hermione, very fast, as though it would be less unpleasant for Harry to hear these facts quickly. "They keep slipping in snide comments about you. If some far-fetched story appears, they say something like, "A tale worthy of Harry Potter", and if anyone has a funny accident or anything it's, "Let's hope he hasn't got a scar on his forehead or we'll be asked to worship him next" -"
"I don't want anyone to worship -" Harry began hotly.
"I know you don't," said Hermione quickly, looking frightened. "I know, Harry."

Hermione's face was half concealed by a tea towel but Harry distinctly saw her throw a reproachful look at Mrs Weasley.

"They were bound to clear you," said Hermione, who had looked positively faint with anxiety when Harry had entered the kitchen and was now holding a shaking hand over her eyes, "there was no case against you, none at all."

And as he thought this, the scar on his forehead burned so badly that he clapped his hand to it.
"What's up?" said Hermione, looking alarmed.
"Scar," Harry mumbled. "But it's nothing ... it happens all the time now ..."
None of the others had noticed a thing [...]

"Don't you go feeling guilty!" said Hermione sternly, after Harry had confided some of his feelings to her and Ron while they scrubbed out a mouldy cupboard on the third floor a few days later.

"So you think he's touched in the head?" said Harry heatedly.
"No, I just think he's been very lonely for a long time," said Hermione simply.

The door banged open. Hermione came tearing into the room, her cheeks flushed and her hair flying. There was an envelope in her hand.
"Did you - did you get -?" She spotted the badge in Harry's hand and let out a shriek. "I knew it!" she said excitedly, brandishing her letter. "Me too, Harry, me too!"
"No," said Harry quickly, pushing the badge back into Ron's hand. "It's Ron, not me."
"It - what? I-"
"Ron's prefect, not me," Harry said.
"Ron?" said Hermione, her jaw dropping. "But ... are you sure? I mean -" She turned red as Ron looked round at her with a defiant expression on his face.
"It's my name on the letter," he said.
"I ..." said Hermione, looking thoroughly bewildered.

He dashed from the room, leaving Harry and Hermione alone.
For some reason, Harry found he did not want to look at Hermione. He turned to his bed, picked up the pile of clean robes Mrs Weasley had laid on it and crossed the room to his trunk.
"Harry?" said Hermione tentatively.
"Well done, Hermione," said Harry, so heartily it did not sound like his voice at all, and, still not looking at her, "brilliant. Prefect. Great."
"Thanks," said Hermione. "Erm - Harry - could I borrow Hedwig so I can tell Mum and Dad? They'll be really pleased - I mean prefect is something they can understand."
"Yeah, no problem," said Harry, still in the horrible hearty voice that did not belong to him. "Take her!"

Hermione, who Harry had expected to react angrily on his behalf, sighed.
"Yes, Lavender thinks so too," she said gloomily.
"Been having a nice little chat with her about whether or not I'm a lying, attention-seeking prat, have you?" Harry said loudly.
"No," said Hermione calmly. "I told her to keep her big fat mouth shut about you, actually. And it would be quite nice if you stopped jumping down our throats, Harry, because in case you haven't noticed, Ron and I are on your side."
There was a short pause.
"Sorry," said Harry in a low voice.

"Oh, shut up, the pair of you," said Harry heavily, as Ron opened his mouth to argue back. Hermione and Ron both froze, looking angry and offended. "Can't you give it a rest?" said Harry. "You're always having a go at each other, it's driving me mad." And abandoning his shepherd's pie, he swung his schoolbag back over his shoulder and left them sitting there.

"But Hermione says she thinks it would be nice if you stopped taking out your temper on us," said Ron.
"I'm not -"
"I'm just passing on the message," said Ron, talking over him.

Harry looked right and received a surprise to shake him out of his torpor. Hermione had not even opened her copy of Defensive Magical Theory. She was staring fixedly at Professor Umbridge with her hand in the air.
Harry could not remember Hermione ever neglecting to read when instructed to, or indeed resisting the temptation to open any book that came under her nose. He looked at her enquiringly, but she merely shook her head slightly to indicate that she was not about to answer questions, and continued to stare at Professor Umbridge, who was looking just as resolutely in another direction.

After several more minutes had passed, however, Harry was not the only one watching Hermione.

"Well, I'm glad you listen to Hermione Granger at any rate," she said, pointing him out of her office.


"I know it is, Harry, so will you please stop biting my head off?" said Hermione wearily.
"D'you mind not offending the only people who believe me?" Harry asked Hermione as they made their way into class.
"Oh, for heaven's sake, Harry, you can do better than her," said Hermione.

"Er ... no, I don't think I will, thanks," he said. "Er- not tomorrow. I've got loads of homework to do ..."
And he traipsed off to the boys' stairs, leaving her looking slightly disappointed.

He imagined trying to conceal from Hermione that he had received T's in all his OWLs and immediately resolved to work harder from now on.

"What is it this time, Miss Granger?"
"I've already read Chapter Two," said Hermione.
"Well then, proceed to Chapter Three."
"I've read that, too. I've read the whole book."
Professor Umbridge blinked but recovered her poise almost instantly. "Well, then, you should be able to tell me what Slinkhard says about counterjinxes in Chapter Fifteen."
"He says that counter-jinxes are improperly named," said Hermione promptly.
"He says "counter-jinx" is just a name people give their jinxes when they want to make them sound more acceptable."
Professor Umbridge raised her eyebrows and Harry knew she was impressed, against her will.
"But I disagree," Hermione continued.
Professor Umbridge's eyebrows rose a little higher and her gaze became distinctly colder.
"You disagree?" she repeated.
"Yes, I do," said Hermione, who, unlike Umbridge, was not whispering, but speaking in a clear, carrying voice that had by now attracted the attention of the rest of the class. "Mr Slinkhard doesn't like jinxes, does he? But I think they can be very useful when they're used defensively."

"Miss Granger, I am going to take five points from Gryffindor house."
There was an outbreak of muttering at this. "What for?" said Harry angrily.
"Don't you get involved!" Hermione whispered urgently to him.

Harry did not speak to Hermione all through Charms, but when they entered Transfiguration he forgot about being cross with her.

"Well," said Hermione tentatively. "You know, I was thinking today ..." she shot a slightly nervous look at Harry and then plunged on, "I was thinking that - maybe the time's come when we should just - just do it ourselves."
"Do what ourselves?" said Harry suspiciously, still floating his hand in the essence of Murtlap tentacles.
"Well - learn Defence Against the Dark Arts ourselves," said Hermione.

"Don't be silly, of course there is," said Hermione, and Harry saw, with an ominous feeling, that her face was suddenly alight with the kind of fervour that SPEW usually inspired in her.

"No, no, I'm not talking about Lupin," said Hermione. "He's too busy with the Order and, anyway, the most we could see him is during Hogsmeade weekends and that's not nearly often enough."
"Who, then?" said Harry, frowning at her.
Hermione heaved a very deep sigh. "Isn't it obvious?" she said. "I'm talking about you, Harry."
[...] "Harry, you're the best in the year at Defence Against the Dark Arts," said Hermione.
"Me?" said Harry, now grinning more broadly than ever. "No I'm not, you've beaten me in every test -"

He looked helplessly at Hermione, whose face was stricken.
"Harry," she said timidly, "don't you see? This ... this is exactly why we need you ... we need to know what it's r-really like ... facing him ... facing V...Voldemort."
It was the first time she had ever said Voldemort's name and it was this, more than anything else, that calmed Harry.

"Well ... think about it," said Hermione quietly. "Please?"
Harry could not think of anything to say. He was feeling ashamed of his outburst already. He nodded, hardly aware of what he was agreeing to. Hermione stood up.
"Well, I'm off to bed," she said, in a voice that was clearly as natural as she could make it. "Erm ... night."

However, Hermione, who was taking more subjects than either of them, had not only finished all her homework but was also finding time to knit more elf clothes. Harry had to admit that she was getting better; it was now almost always possible to distinguish between the hats and the socks.

"Ginny used to fancy Harry, but she gave up on him months ago. Not that she doesn't like you, of course," she added kindly to Harry while she examined a long black and gold quill.

Harry, whose head was still full of Cho's parting wave, did not find this subject quite as interesting as Ron, who was positively quivering with indignation, but it did bring something home to him that until now he had not really registered.
"So that's why she talks now?" he asked Hermione. "She never used to talk in front of me."
"Exactly," said Hermione.

For a moment Harry was tempted to go with Dobby. He was halfway out of his seat, intending to hurry upstairs for his Invisibility Cloak when, not for the first time, a voice very much like Hermione's whispered in his ear: reckless.

A blank silence greeted Hermione's words. She looked around at all the faces upturned to her, rather disconcerted.
"Well - I thought it was a good idea," she said uncertainly, "I mean, even if Umbridge asked us to turn out our pockets, there's nothing fishy about carrying a Galleon, is there? But ... well, if you don't want to use them -"
"You can do a Protean Charm?" said Terry Boot.
"Yes," said Hermione.
"But that's ... that's NEWT standard, that is," he said weakly.
"Oh," said Hermione, trying to look modest. "Oh ... well ... yes, I suppose it is."
"How come you're not in Ravenclaw?" he demanded, staring at Hermione with something close to wonder. "With brains like yours?"
[...] Harry looked sideways at Hermione.
"You know what these remind me of?"
"No, what's that?"
"The Death Eaters' scars. Voldemort touches one of them, and all their scars burn, and they know they've got to join him."
"Well ... yes," said Hermione quietly, "that is where I got the idea. But you'll notice I decided to engrave the date on bits of metal rather than on our members' skin."
"Yeah ... I prefer your way," said Harry, grinning,

That foul, lying, twisting old gargoyle!' stormed Hermione half an hour later,

"[...] but, well, they are very interesting, aren't they? The way some people can see them and some can't! I wish I could."
"Do you?" Harry asked her quietly. She looked suddenly horrorstruck.
"Oh, Harry - I'm sorry - no, of course I don't - that was a really stupid thing to say."
"It's OK," he said quickly, "don't worry."

Just as he had decided not to say anything, Hermione took matters out of his hands.
"Is it Cho?" she asked in a businesslike way. "Did she corner you after the meeting?"
Numbly surprised, Harry nodded. Ron sniggered, breaking off when Hermione caught his eye.
"So - er - what did she want?" she asked in a mock casual voice.
"She -" Harry began, rather hoarsely; he cleared his throat and tried again. "She -er -"
"Did you kiss?" asked Hermione briskly.[...]

"Oh," said Ron, his smile fading slightly. "Are you that bad at kissing?"
"Dunno," said Harry, who hadn't considered this, and immediately felt rather worried. "Maybe I am."
"Of course you're not," said Hermione absently, still scribbling away at her letter.
"How do you know?" said Ron very sharply.
"Because Cho spends half her time crying these days," said Hermione vaguely. "She does it at mealtimes, in the loos, all over the place."
[...]
"She was the one who started it," said Harry. "I wouldn't of -[...]"

It came as a slight shock when somebody hammered hard on the door a few minutes later.
"I know you're in there," said Hermione's voice. "Will you please come out? I want to talk to you."
"What are you doing here?" Harry asked her, pulling open the door as Buckbeak resumed his scratching at the straw-strewn floor for any fragments of rat he may have dropped. "I thought you were skiing with your mum and dad?"
"Well, to tell the truth, skiing's not really my thing," said Hermione. "So, I've come here for Christmas." There was snow in her hair and her face was pink with cold.


"Very funny," snapped Harry, turning away.
"Oh, stop feeling all misunderstood," said Hermione sharply.

Harry sorted through his presents and found one with Hermione's handwriting on it.

"Er… listen, d'you want to come with me to the Three Broomsticks at lunchtime? I'm meeting Hermione Granger there."
Cho raised her eyebrows. "You're meeting Hermione Granger? Today?"
"Yeah. Well, she asked me to, so I thought I would. D'you want to come with me? She said it wouldn't matter if you did."
"Oh, well, that was nice of her." But Cho did not sound as though she thought it was nice at all. On the contrary, her tone was cold and all of a sudden she looked rather forbidding.

"Well - I have talked about it," Harry said in a whisper, "to Ron and Hermione, but -"
"Oh, you'll talk to Hermione Granger!" she said shrilly, her face now shining with tears. Several more kissing couples broke apart to stare. "But you won't talk to me! P - perhaps it would be best if we just… just p - paid and you went and met up with Hermione G - Granger, like you obviously want to!"

"You should have told her differently," said Hermione, still with that maddeningly patient air. "You should have said it was really annoying, but I'd made you promise to come along to the Three Broomsticks, and you really didn't want to go, you'd much rather spend the whole day with her, but unfortunately you thought you really ought to meet me and would she please, please come along with you and hopefully you'd be able to get away more quickly. And it might have been a good idea to mention how ugly you think I am, too," Hermione added as an afterthought.
"But I don't think you're ugly," said Harry, bemused.
Hermione laughed.

"Haven't we got a counter-jinx for this?" Fudge asked Umbridge impatiently, gesturing at Marietta's face. "So she can speak freely?"
"I have not yet managed to find one," Umbridge admitted grudgingly, and Harry felt a surge of pride in Hermione's jinxing ability. "But it doesn't matter if she won't speak, I can take up the story from here. [...]"

"See what they've named themselves?" said Fudge quietly. "Dumbledore's Army."
Dumbledore reached out and took the piece of parchment from Fudge. He gazed at the heading scribbled by Hermione months before and for a moment seemed unable to speak. Then he looked up, smiling.

"She's a lovely person really," said Cho. "She just made a mistake -"
Harry looked at her incredulously. "A lovely person who made a mistake? She sold us all out, including you!"
"Well, we all got away, didn't we?" said Cho pleadingly. "You know, her mum works for the Ministry, it's really difficult for her -"
"Ron's dad works for the Ministry too!" Harry said furiously. "And in case you hadn't noticed, he hasn't got sneak written across his face -"
"That was a really horrible trick of Hermione Granger's," said Cho fiercely. "She should have told us she'd jinxed that list -"
"I think it was a brilliant idea," said Harry coldly. Cho flushed and her eyes grew brighter.
"Oh yes, I forgot - of course, if it was darling Hermione's idea -"

Grawp's hand had shot out of nowhere towards Hermione; Harry seized her and pulled her backwards behind the tree, so that Grawp's fist scraped the trunk but closed on thin air.
"BAD BOY, GRAWPY!" they heard Hagrid yelling, as Hermione clung to Harry behind the tree, shaking and whimpering.

"I don't know," said Hermione miserably. Harry saw that she looked much the worse for wear; her hair was full of twigs and leaves, her robes were ripped in several places and there were numerous scratches on her face and arms.

"Harry!" said Hermione at once, looking very frightened. "What happened? Are you all right? Are you ill?"

"Harry, I'm begging you, please!" said Hermione desperately. "Please let's just check that Sirius isn't at home before we go charging off to London. If we find out he's not there, then I swear I won't try to stop you. I'll come, I'll d - do whatever it takes to try and save him."

It was a mark of the seriousness of the situation that Hermione made no objection to the smashing up of the Transfiguration department.
[...]
Even through his anger and impatience, Harry recognised Hermione's offer to accompany him into Umbridge's office as a sign of solidarity and loyalty.
"OK, thanks," he muttered.

"The Cruciatus Curse ought to loosen your tongue," said Umbridge quietly.
"No!" shrieked Hermione. "Professor Umbridge - it's illegal."

"Well, well, well!" said Umbridge, looking triumphant. "Little Miss Question-all is going to give us some answers! Come on then, girl, come on!"
"Er - my - nee - no!" shouted Ron through his gag.
Ginny was staring at Hermione as though she had never seen her before. Neville, still choking for breath, was gazing at her, too. But Harry had just noticed something. Though Hermione was sobbing desperately into her hands, there was no trace of a tear.
"I'm - I'm sorry everyone," said Hermione. "But - I can't stand it -"
"That's right, that's right, girl!" said Umbridge, seizing Hermione by the shoulders, thrusting her into the abandoned chintz chair and leaning over her. "Now then, with whom was Potter communicating just now?"
"Well," gulped Hermione into her hands, "well, he was trying to speak to Professor Dumbledore."
Ron froze, his eyes wide; Ginny stopped trying to stamp on her Slytherin captor's toes; and even Luna looked mildly surprised. Fortunately, the attention of Umbridge and her minions was focused too exclusively upon Hermione to notice these suspicious signs.

Hermione had been dropped, too, and Harry hurried towards her as two thick tree trunks parted ominously and the monstrous form of Grawp the giant appeared in the gap.

[...] he was watching Grawp's feet, which were almost as long as Harry's whole body. Hermione gripped his arm tightly; [...]

Harry could feel Hermione shaking [...]

Harry and Hermione moved together instinctively and peered through the trees.

"Well done, Ha - "
But the Death Eater Hermione had just struck dumb made a sudden slashing movement with his wand; a streak of what looked like purple flame passed right across Hermione's chest. She gave a tiny "Oh!" as though of surprise and crumpled on to the floor, where she lay motionless.
"HERMIONE!"
Harry fell to his knees beside her as Neville crawled rapidly towards her from under the desk, his wand held up in front of him.
[...]
A whine of panic inside his head was preventing him thinking properly: he had one hand on Hermione's shoulder, which was still warm, yet did not dare look at her properly. Don't let her be dead, don't let her be dead, it's my fault if she's dead...
[...]
"Hermione," Harry said at once, shaking her as the baby-headed Death Eater blundered out of sight again. "Hermione, wake up,"
[...]
"Dat's a pulse, Harry, I'b sure id is."
Such a powerful wave of relief swept through Harry that for a moment he felt light-headed.
[...]
''Well, I'b going do find dem wid you," said Neville firmly.
"But Hermione,"

"But I didn't," muttered Harry. He said it aloud to try and ease the dead weight of guilt inside him: a confession must surely relieve some of the terrible pressure squeezing his heart. "I didn't practise, I didn't bother, I could've stopped myself having those dreams, Hermione kept telling me to do it, if I had, he'd never have been able to show me where to go, and - Sirius wouldn't - Sirius wouldn't ..."

"I - er - heard she's going out with someone else now," said Hermione tentatively.
Harry was surprised to find that this information did not hurt at all.