Harry sat in his usual corner in the library, shielded from intrusive view by the rather coincidental cover provided by two bookshelves situated on either side of him, and on the table in front of him was a rather thick textbook, labelled 'Magical Drafts and Potions'. Next to him was a roll of parchment, an inkpot, and his bookbag.
Potions classes had not seen any improvement. Snape was still out to get him, and his insistence that Harry was an arrogant child incapable of understanding the nuanced subject of potion-making certainly did not help. Harry was sure his recent victory against Slytherin did not aid matters in anyway either. 'Thank god for textbooks, otherwise I have no idea where I'd be right now.' As it turned out, the school-issued book deserved its Hogwarts endorsement. He had really begun picking up the slack with his theoretical knowledge, and it turned out Potions was not nearly as difficult as Snape had made it out to be – at least not at the first-year level.
It was the day after the Quidditch match, so it was a Sunday, and Harry had come to the library not only to continue his extra reading on Potions, but to also escape the stifling looks he seemed to be getting from everyone in the castle. One of the newest rumours had been that the Nimbus 2000 had actually been a secret gift from Draco Malfoy but had been enchanted to help Slytherin win, and it was the first rumour that Harry could honestly live with.
His work was cut short by a slight rumble in his stomach, which made him glance up at the clock. It was almost eleven. 'Maybe skipping breakfast to get away from it all wasn't the best of ideas. Though I'm lucky its Sunday, brunch should still be on the table.' Harry gathered his books, grabbed his bookbag and marched out of the library, making sure to avoid the more popular corridors. The trip ended up taking him an extra ten minutes, but it was well worth knowing that he wasn't being watched by the usual eyes that would follow him.
When he entered the Hall, he was surprised to see just how little the number of students present actually was. He scanned the Gryffindor table and quickly found a familiar head of bushy brown hair, and made his way along the table till he sat down in front of the girl.
"Hey Hermione, what're you reading?" Harry asked curiously as he gestured to the small book open in front of the girl, as he reached for a glass of orange juice. "Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë." The girl drawled plainly without looking up. Her rather lackadaisical response immediately made Harry a touch more curious – he knew Hermione well enough to know that she never lacked any zest when it came to speaking about books.
"Uh…is it a good story?" He asked carefully, hoping to see whether she was just particularly captured by the book at the moment or if there was something else on her mind.
Hermione still refused to look up. "It's actually a novel, and yes, it happens to be one of the greatest classics of the Romantic era. But I've read it multiple times before." She carefully and deliberately flipped a page. At this point, Harry was feeling more than a little worried. Sure, he had spent time with Hermione while she had been reading over the past couple weeks, but she didn't usually act quite this…cold, to put it in a word.
"Hermione, is everything okay?" It was at this point that the girl finally looked up at Harry, and he didn't need her to say anything to know the answer to his question. Having grown up in the Dursley home, reading and understanding facial expressions had been an all too important skill for Harry. The slightest curve in the lip could be the difference between Uncle Vernon only being a little annoyed or stewing in quiet outrage, and Harry had caught on to this fact rather early on. Her lips were thinned far more than he had ever seen, her eyes seemed slightly puffy, as if slightly irritated, and her eyes were narrowed just a tad more than usual. "Everything is just fine Harry. Don't you have some locker room talk and Quidditch trivia to get to with Ronald."
It was the emphatic distaste placed on the last word that really put everything into perspective for Harry. He hadn't really thought too much of it yesterday, but it was very clear that Hermione still had a strong opinion on Ron.
"Hermione, I know that what Ron did and said wasn't mature or nice, but he isn't actually a terrible person. His heart is in the right place, he can just be a little insensitive and exaggerate at times. If I'm sure of one thing, it's that he cares about every single Gryffindor and you fall under that category." He urged.
The girl snorted. "Insensitive comments aren't a problem, Harry, I'm used to those. But what he said on Halloween, trying to embarrass me in front of our housemates, trying to make it look like I wouldn't fit in, that I was any less a witch than him, that's more than being insensitive. But he's not what matters to me. I know I like reading and studying, maybe more so than other kids, and bullies are something I've had no shortage of in my life, but what was more upsetting was how you acted as if he did nothing. I thought you were my friend Harry." She finished a little more emotionally than she had begun, but Harry could see that she was restraining the most of her emotions. Her last sentence really did make him flinch though. To Harry, there was something about the idea of failing as a friend that sounded worse than even death.
"Hermione I- I am your friend, and I mean it when I say it. And I'm not going to condone what Ron said, I'm never going to do that. But I do believe he deserves a second chance, at least on my part. Obviously, I can't forgive him for what he did to you, that's up to you." He gingerly reached forward and grabbed her left hand which limply lay on the open book, acting as a paper weight. "But trust me when I say I'm your friend. And as far as liking books goes, that isn't anything bad. If anything, I'm a little envious of how you know just about anything across our curriculum, that must come in handy." He finished with a little chuckle, and couldn't help but notice a grin beginning to pull at the corners of Hermione's own lips.
"Well, would you look at what we have here?" A familiar, nasally voice came from behind Harry. "Potter seems to have taken a liking to the Mudblood. Good for you, scar face, I heard your idiot father was into their kind too. Just the thought of being with even a half-blood like you should be a dream come true for her, am I right Crabbe, Goyle?" Draco's two gorillas seemed to grunt in agreement. Harry saw that Hermione was furiously glaring at the spot just above his head, but he was already seeing red himself. He had had it with Malfoy. He had had it with his arrogant behaviour, his insulting of his friends, his bigoted views, but more than that, he had had enough of people like him and Hermione being bullied by those who thought they were better than them.
Draco mentioning his parents was only the straw that truly broke the camel's back. Harry rose up from his bench, and in a flash, he had tossed one foot over to the other side of the table, giving his torso enough room to spin around and throw a punch straight at the blonde's face. He noticed that his aim was a little off, but he'd still be able to land a solid hit to the side of Draco's skull, and the terrified and panicked look on the boy suddenly made him feel a little good about what he was about to do.
"Immobulus!" Harry froze, rather involuntarily, as a strange feeling washed over him. It felt as if his body just refused to move, and was just stuck in place. His fist was still carried by a bit of momentum, but it barely tapped the side of Malfoy's face. A sudden apprehension overcame Harry as he realised that he had just lost control of his temper completely, and that was just what Malfoy would have wanted: to get a rise out of him in the Great Hall, in front of everyone present. And Harry definitely recognised the low voice that had called out the spell.
"Tsk tsk, Mr. Potter. Starting fights in the Hall, not the best of manners now is that." Harry saw Snape's cloak. "And trying to hit a fellow student on top of it all…" Snape drawled, and Harry could practically hear the glee in his voice at having caught the boy, and he was sure there must have been a smirk on his face, not that he could check to see at the moment.
Snape then turned to Draco. "Well Draco, what happened?" The question snapped the boy out of his slight shock. It had really seemed like Harry was going to get that punch in on him. 'Well, not like the halfblood could do anything with magic, obviously he'd resort to his fists like a savage.' "Well Professor, I merely walked over to say hi, when Potter tried to assault me."
Harry felt a furious rage well up within him, but he still could not utter a word because of the spell upon him. "Is this true, Mr. Crabbe, Mr. Goyle?" Snape continued. The two boys immediately nodded.
"Well, Mr Potter, it seems my intervention was quite beneficial to you. Causing a physical altercation, now that is certainly something that would have fetched a dire punishment." Harry swore he could hear a certain disappointment in Snape's voice. 'I'm betting he wishes he didn't stop me just so that he could see me expelled.' Suddenly, Harry felt himself lurch forward and his knee hit the bench, sending him down to the floor. Clearly, Snape didn't deem a warning necessary before he removed the effects of his spell.
"In any case, fifty points docked seems a suitable punishment for your…rash behaviour," the man continued as Harry rose to his feet. "And two weeks of detention, to be served with me on Saturdays." Snape finished rather smugly.
That caused Harry's eyes to widen with shock. The points he could live with, but Snape knew that Saturdays were reserved for either Quidditch games or training, and he had a nasty feeling the potions master had chosen that day for detention with said knowledge in mind. That feeling only grew stronger when he saw the slight upward turn on the man's lips, a hint of a subtle smirk as he stared back at him. But just as Harry was about to make the issue known, Hermione spoke up from the other side of the table.
"But Professor, it wasn't Harry that started it, it was Malfoy. He walked over here and began saying the vilest of things about Harry and his parents, without any preamble. Harry shouldn't be the one getting the detention." The girl said from her seat, and Harry was honestly surprised. The times he had seen Hermione question any teachers' words or punishment were few and far between, and he'd never seen her actually say something straight to any Professor's face. Snape might have felt a similar surprise, judging from his short silence, but he quickly seemed to turn to her with an irritated look. "It's unfortunate to see the effect Mr. Potter here is having on you, Miss Granger, but very well. If you feel so strongly about this then you may continue to discuss it with Mr. Potter, in detention."
Hermione's face paled instantly, and Harry felt his own jaw drop open. "B-But Professor, that isn't fair. Hermione did nothing, and she's telling the truth!" Harry exclaimed, but his plea fell on deaf ears. "That'll be another ten points from Gryffindor, Mr. Potter, and I suggest you keep your voice low lest you wish to take a chance at an additional week of detention, for the both of you." That clammed Harry up, but Snape took a deliberate pause, almost as if challenging the boy to say something. By this point, the group had certainly gained the attention of the entire Hall, and Harry knew that it wouldn't help his case to say anything else. The least he could do was make sure Hermione didn't have to sit through an additional week's detention.
"If that's sorted out, I'd like a word with the three of you. Malfoy, Crabbe, Goyle, follow me. Potter, Granger, I shall inform you of the venue and timing of your detentions in our next class." With that, the man broke into a sharp gait, headed out of the Hall, with the three Slytherins following after him, after giving the two their own smug grins.
Harry was fuming. 'Malfoy's a git, and that's one thing, but why'd I lose control of my temper like that? He's going to take every chance he gets to get a dig in at me, but I've got to make sure I brush it off. Now I've gone and gotten myself and Hermione into trouble.' Harry looked over to the girl, and was a little worried to see that she still looked decidedly paler than usual. "Hermione, I'm really sorry for dragging you into that. You know how Snape gets whenever he wants to make my life miserable."
Hermione looked at him funnily for a moment. "Harry, you don't honestly think I blame you for my detention, do you? I could have been on the other end of this table and that wouldn't have stopped Professor Snape, especially after Malfoy all but testified." The last sentence got a chuckle out of Harry. "Well, looks like our first detention at Hogwarts is going to be with Professor Snape. I don't imagine that could be much fun," the girl sighed, "Some of the older kids say they've been hanged by their toes, or sent to the Forbidden Forest for detentions. And I don't really put much stock in rumours, but knowing Professor Snape, I can't be too sure."
Harry had to agree. He wasn't about to take any more chances with Snape, but a more rational part of him felt a wave of resignation. "I'd say it's too late for that. It's not like he'd listen to us on anything or that we can change what he'll do."
It was later the same day that Harry finally found Nym in the library. He walked into the same hidden corner, and saw her lounging in one of the chairs, balancing her wand on her upper lip. Or trying to balance it, at the very least. It rolled off just as she caught sight of the boy entering, leading to her scrambling to grab it before it rolled down to the floor. "Hey Harry, how's it going? Oh, and that was some really fine flying on the pitch yesterday, Hufflepuff'll have their work cut out for them." She said, forcing the boy to scratch the back of his neck as his cheeks glowed a little. "Thanks for that, and you were right, it really was all a team effort on the field." He said as he sat down in the chair next to her. "But Wood's already told us that we'll be back to training full steam. He really wants to make sure we take the Cup this year, and he's taking no chances."
Tonks nodded. Sure, she knew how to enjoy a good game of Quidditch as good as any other witch, but Wood truly took it to an extreme that was intimidating. "Well, I'm sure you'll find a way to survive. After all you've lived through a run in with a troll and a whacky broom, and it's really just been the first few months you've been here." She snorted. "If I didn't know better, I'd say you've been planning this stuff yourself. Wild coincidences these have been."
Harry nodded. "God, I never quite realised how packed the last couple months have been." The thought lingered on his mind. He really hadn't expected such outrageous adventure in the magical world. He would have been completely fine with just blending into the background, learning magic, and growing up. But it seemed he couldn't expect such a lucky break. The worst thing about the misadventures so far had definitely been the helplessness that came about with them. He hated that feeling he had gotten when he was running away from the troll, or when he had been gripping on to his broom, hanging on for dear life. And he was trying to be optimistic, but he doubted this would be the very end of his terrible luck so far.
"Hey, what's got you down all of a sudden?" Nym asked as she noticed his eyes had turned glassy and unfocused. "Everything alright?"
"Yeah," Harry snapped back to reality all of a sudden. "Well, not exactly. I was just thinking, I don't like being in all these different situations and being unable to do anything but be a nuisance to others."
Tonks quirked an eyebrow. "What do you mean?"
Harry sighed. "I mean when I went and got a troll running after me and ended up making Hermione have to save me, or when I was up in the air on that broom. These bizarre situations keep on finding me and getting me when I'm on my backfoot."
The girl stared at Harry with a bit of strange look, before delivering a light smack to the back of his head. "Harry, you can't seriously think you being in the wrong place at the wrong time makes you a nuisance, do you? I'm sure you would have done the same for Hermione or anyone else. I mean, that was the very reason you went to find her in the first place. And that broomstick situation could have just happened to anyone, you were just having a spot of bad luck." She saw that Harry wasn't really about to take all these things being normal at face value. "Well, if you really want to be able to maybe defend yourself better, why not look into studying ahead in Charms or Defence. You can even check out specific spells for specific purposes if you want."
Harry looked at her questioningly, as he realised just how simple the solution seemed to be. 'Hermione did the same thing. She was quick on her feet, thought of a spell she knew that could help in the situation, and knocked out the troll.' "I- I really can't believe I didn't think of that."
Tonks chuckled. "Yeah, a lot of kids that grow up in the Muggle world really don't see magic in the same way when they start out, but magic will pretty much help you in any situation you want it to, it's much less rigid and patterned than you might think. The classes at Hogwarts tend to just stick to the most commonly used fields of magic is all, because that's the magic used most. Incantations and wand movements have been discovered which make the same magic more focused and efficient. The real magic comes from things like intention and magical theory."
Harry really seemed amazed by the idea. "I never did look at it like that, and the teachers haven't ever described it in quite the same way either, but it makes a lot of sense. It's amazing how much you know about magic." He added, earning a bit of a smirk from Tonks. "Well, I've had to look into more advanced magic myself, as learning ahead is highly recommended to future Aurors like I want to be." She noticed that Harry seemed slightly confused. "Aurors are like the police of the magical world, and becoming one usually means undergoing rigorous training after Hogwarts."
Harry was once again amazed. He didn't know why he hadn't thought of it earlier, but it really did make sense that the wizarding world would have some sort of police forces too. 'I've really got to look into learning more about the wizarding world.' He pinned the thought in the back of his mind, intending on getting to it soon. "Well, do you have any ideas for where I could get started? I mean, if I'm going to do it, it might actually do me some good to get started on it as soon as possible, before giving my bad luck another shot at messing things up." Tonks did give a slight chuckle in response to his words, but she honestly could not know how much of his words were a joke.