He hated his relatives with a passion.

They just loved finding an opportunity to ruin his life, even when he wasn't in their care.

He didn't feel guilty in the slightest, she deserved what she got. What did they expect him to do when she started speaking about his parents as though he weren't there, nod in an agreement to her words? What a load of toss.

The ministry would retrieve her, unfortunately. He had nothing to be sorry for; he couldn't exactly control it.

His only regret was not getting his permission slip signed, he wouldn't be surprised if they were planning on refusing in the end anyway.

He had tried so hard to get through her stay without even the slightest slip-up and he blew it, not that his actions were unjustified. Simple things such as their cover story were easy to keep up, as not everything was a complete lie.

Oh, yeah. Yeah, he's been beaten loads of times. Trust me. Even if it wasn't as frequent now, as it was easier to pretend he didn't exist, and they were terrified of the freaks, there was still the occasional blow.

It was their little secret.

But this, this was worse than anything they could have done. A kick? A punch? It was nothing but numbness now. Taking away his freedom, even at Hogwarts? That's different.

He couldn't escape them, not even when he was here.

And now, he couldn't escape her.

"There is no way I'm leaving you on your own, at least one of us has to stay with you, it would be selfish just to leave!" The brunette eyed her now returned permission slip in disgust.

After Harry's failed attempt to gain permission to venture to the nearby village, Hermione had flung her bag down, marched up to McGonagall and thrust her permission slip into the professor's hands, stating she would no longer be needing it as she was now adamant about staying with him during every Hogsmeade visit. She began the same argument she had put forward in Diagonally; claiming that simply leaving him on his own would be cruel.

"Hermione, I'm not letting you miss your first Hogsmeade visit, you need to go and enjoy yourself."

"There will be plenty of other Hogsmeade visits that we can go on when you are allowed to attend too. I won't be enjoying myself if you're not coming too, will I? Never mind knowing you're here alone." Her hands were on her hips in challenge, she wasn't going to back down.

"Ron will be going, you'll be fine."

"He'll be going with Dean and Seamus, he won't spend his time with me. And frankly, I don't want to, the last thing I need is a row to make me feel even worse."

Harry sighed and shook his head at the fourteen-year-old girl, the large group of students now beginning to exit the courtyard, towards the carriages.

At his silence, Hermione continued, "I know I'm not Ron, and I know you'd prefer to spend time with him but–"

"That's not it at all!" Harry cut her off quickly, "I love spending time with you, you're my best friend! I just don't want you to feel obligated to stay with me when you could be having fun."

The young witch had gone bright red halfway through his sentence, for reasons Harry didn't know, It wasn't that cold, was it?

"I'll feel bad if you stay." He tried weakly when she didn't say anything.

"I'll feel bad if I go!" She stomped her foot, her brown eyes flashing, apparently finding her composure. Harry had to smile.

Again, there was silence, this girl was as stubborn as a damn mule. They were either going to stay out here and argue for the rest of the day, or they could actually do something fun. Harry sighed again.

"Fine, fine, you can stay with me." He held his arms up in defeat, "It would be nice to spend some time with just you, for a change." The young wizard muttered absently, completely unaware of what was going to happen next.

There was a loud squeal–or it may have been a sob–and then something brown and bushy had propelled itself into his chest and held on tight. Harry found himself feeling very embarrassed and very flustered. He was partly aware that the students had now left for the carriages, Ron along with them. Even if he hadn't cracked, Hermione had probably missed her chance to go anyway.

"Woah, 'Mione!" The Raven haired boy choked, his voice muffled by her hair, he reached up and to pull a lock out of his mouth, but he didn't move away from her. "What's wrong?"

"Oh, Harry," Her slender arms tightened around his waist; her face hidden securely in the crook of his neck. "I'm just fine." She pulled back a fraction, emerald eyes meeting almond, she smiled. "Come on, we can go down to the lake and do some–"

"If you actually say Homework, I'm feeding myself to the giant squid." Harry butt in quickly, giving her his crooked grin as laughter bubbled out if her.

"I was going to say talking!" Hermione attempted to sound offended through her giggles. "But now that you mention it, we could go back to Gryffindor Tower and collect our books–"

"As enjoyable as that sounds," He cut her off one more time, "I suggest we head to the great hall and grab what's left of breakfast, then go to the lake, come on, " And with that, he grabbed her hand and practically dragged her in back into the castle.

He didn't notice how her face was flushed again, or how her eyes were glued to their joined hands.

Nor did he know that his relatives may have unknowingly done the oblivious boy a favor.