Harry & Hermione
UltimateHPfanfiction.com Story id: 2849639 (Please submit reviews!)
chem prof - End Game
Chapter 2 - Classes Begin: Not the Same Old Hogwarts
Disclaimer and Acknowledgements
The Harry Potter universe and all the characters in it belong to J. K. Rowling. I get nothing out of this except enjoyment.
Thanks to Old Crow and Dee for prereading this chapter.
Chapter 2, Classes Begin: Not the Same Old Hogwarts
Tuesday, September 2
Harry awoke early and lay in bed awhile thinking about his plans for the day. Most of his time during the day each week would be spent in Defense Against the Dark Arts classes. Today he had second years in the morning and sixth years in the afternoon, but right now he had some free time before his first class. Finally he stretched and got up and made his way into the bathroom. The Head suite was quite nice. He had a good size bedroom with a private bath. On the other side of the baths Hermione's room was a mirror image of his own. Their rooms opened to a large common room, with two couches and several comfortable chairs. They each had a desk and a bookshelf in their bedrooms, and there were two more desks and multiple bookshelves in the common room, which Hermione had managed to fill already. There also was a nice fireplace in the common room, with a floo connection to McGonagall's office. Overall, it was similar to their house this summer, but with only two bedrooms and without the kitchen.
As he got dressed, Hedwig opened an eye and hooted softly at him. He had missed his owl this summer. Most summers, Hedwig had been his faithful companion and his only link with the wizarding world. This year, Hedwig had stayed with Ron at the Burrow, one of the concessions Harry had needed to make while hiding out as a muggle. He spent some time stroking his pet's soft feathers and Hedwig hooted again in appreciation.
He went out into the common room and knocked on Hermione's door. When she responded he inquired, "Do you want to go out for a run this morning?"
"Sure. Just let me get changed." Harry went back into his room and emerged shortly in a pair of sweats and a tee shirt. As he was lacing up his trainers Hermione came out of her room in a pair of sweats of her own, pulling a tee shirt over her sports bra.
No one was stirring in castle yet except a few excited first years and they made their way out onto the grounds undisturbed and took off around the lake. As they ran, they filled each other in on the previous night's conversations. Harry related how Neville had been the subject of a lot of good-natured kidding about his new relationship with Ginny. Seamus had joked that he must be next in line, since Ginny had now dated every other Gryffindor seventh year but her brother. Hermione smiled a little at that comment, then laughed out loud when Harry revealed that Ron's reaction to the remark had turned Seamus's hair green for half an hour. He had apparently learned a lot of new pranks while working for his brothers during the summer. She also blushed a little when Harry informed her that Dean and Seamus had congratulated him on his new relationship with her and had both commented on how good she looked this year.
Hermione then told about her grilling from Parvati, Lavender, and the other older girls, and the story she had made up about how they had finally (in Parvati's words) got together. She let him know that the story was that they had written each other all summer, then he had come to visit her and things just developed from there. She had firmly resisted the Gryffindor gossip twins' demands for the juicy details, so Harry didn't need to worry about making anything up in that department. He jokingly pointed out that it would be amusing to see their reaction to hearing of their exploits at the Granger swimming pool, and she laughed that she didn't think that they would be able to handle having their image of their bookworm roommate shattered that thoroughly. He was pleased that the tale she had concocted had a certain amount of truth to it and wasn't that much of a stretch.
By the time they were halfway around the lake both of their tee shirts were damp and they removed them as they stopped to stretch a while.
"We need to take advantage of this warm weather while it lasts. What's your schedule like?"
"I have NEWT Potions Tuesday morning and Arithmency Thursday morning. We have Charms and Transfiguration together Wednesday and Thursday afternoons. I'm seeing Tonks today to work out a time to meet with her every week. How about you?"
"Besides the classes I have with you, I have Defense classes on Monday and Tuesday afternoons and Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday mornings, but nothing before 10:00 AM. And I'm finished by 3:00 every day."
They finished stretching and resumed their run around the lake back towards the castle. After a while Hermione proceeded with the discussion. "OK, so let's try to run every morning before breakfast as long as the weather holds. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays we'll lift weights, too. Has Dobby finished moving our weights to our training room on the third corridor?"
"I'll check to make sure he's finished today so we can start tomorrow," Harry responded. "Is there a place to keep running once we have to move indoors? I don't think the staff would be too happy to have us racing up and down the corridors."
"I wonder if the Room of Requirement can make us an indoor track?" Hermione mused.
"I bet it can," Harry said excitedly. "It can probably become an indoor pool, too!"
"Oh, that's a great idea. We can alternate swimming and running in the mornings and evenings."
Their workout plan decided, the pair relaxed and chatted about the previous day's activities for the rest of their run. As they approached the castle Hermione nudged Harry and said, with a gleam in her eye, "Better put our shirts back on. We don't want anyone to see us in this indecent muggle clothing."
Harry just laughed. He had been astounded when she had told him about her conversation with Molly and had ended up shaking his head in wonder. There were still things about the wizarding world that he just hadn't gotten used to. They stopped and pulled their tee shirts back on and headed back into the castle to shower and change for breakfast.
Harry had stopped in the Gryffindor common room on the way to breakfast to see if Ron, Neville, or Ginny were ready to go when he was spotted by Kristin and Laura. He smiled as he noticed that Kristin had jumped right up and called out to him while Laura was tugging on her arm trying to tell her not to bother the Head Boy.
"Hi kids, are you ready for breakfast?" Harry looked around and decided the other three could catch up later and escorted the two first years down to the Great Hall, where he joined Hermione at one of the tables. As McGonagall had promised, there were twenty smaller tables each seating a dozen students replacing the four house tables, and Hermione had already sat down with Carolyn and some other Ravenclaw first years. Soon their whole table was full of young students excited to be eating with the Head Girl and Head Boy. Eventually it was time for class, and Hermione went off to Potions while Harry made his way to the Defense classroom.
Hermione's good mood vanished as she started toward the dungeons for Potions. Never before had she made this trek without Harry and Ron, and it was not a particularly pleasant part of the castle. Suddenly she heard her name being called and turned to see Ernie MacMillan hurrying to catch up with her. It turned out that he was the only Hufflepuff and she was the only Gryffindor in their year taking Potions, so they decided to walk down together. Her spirits lifted somewhat now that she knew she would have at least one friend in the class.
When they entered the Potions lab they found that there were eight students in NEWT Potions this year, with three Ravenclaws and three Slytherins accounting for the rest. There were four two-person tables set up for their use and Hermione and Ernie moved to an empty one as Slughorn swept into the room from his office. He immediately launched into a lament about the absence from his class of Harry Potter. Hermione grimaced. Tonks had informed them last week that Slughorn had not taken the news that Harry was dropping Potions very well, going on and on about Harry's natural talent in the subject that he had inherited from his mother.
Well, we'll see who has the potions talent now, thought Hermione irritably. She had the Half Blood Prince's book in her bag, and while she wasn't planning to follow it as single-mindedly as Harry had, she did intend to check it for tips on whatever potions they were assigned to make. Finally Slughorn decided to get on with the class. He began by announcing that in accordance with the headmistress's emphasis on interhouse cooperation, the potions students were going to pair up with others outside of their house. Despite the fact that Hermione was already sitting with someone from another house, he moved her to another table. When the rearrangement was finished, there were two Slytherin-Ravenclaw pairs, Tracey Davis with Anthony Goldstein and Daphne Greengrass with Terry Boot, and a Hufflepuff-Ravenclaw combination, Ernie and Padma. To her disappointment, she found herself paired with Blaise Zabini. But when he came over he grinned at her and greeted her warmly, saying how much he was looking forward to working with her this year. He does have a nice smile though, she thought, and she unpacked her supplies and began to work.
Harry was returning to the Great Hall for lunch, his mind on the morning's Defense classes. He had just sat in on consecutive second year sessions, first with Gryffindor and Slytherin and then with Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff. What a contrast Lupin's lesson had been to the first lesson from his own second year defense class. He would never forget how Lockhart had released the pixies and then fled the room, leaving him, Ron, and Hermione to capture them. Good thing we had Hermione with us or we would never have got out of there. As he entered the hall he automatically looked for Hermione, but she was sitting at a table with the rest of her potions class, right between Ernie and Blaise. Harry stared for a moment, a feeling of 'wrongness' filling him. For nearly his entire time at Hogwarts, Hermione had sat with him and Ron at meals. A tugging at his arm brought him back from his gloomy thoughts. Some of the Hufflepuff students who had accompanied him back from Defense class were urging him to join them for lunch, and with one last dispirited look over at Hermione, he turned and walked over to their table.
Eventually Ron and Neville came in along with Ginny and filled the remainder of the table. Harry asked them how their day had been so far, while trying to remember the names of the Hufflepuffs he was eating with. But it just didn't feel right without Hermione.
"Honestly, why don't you two just go over and talk to her?" Harry had just glanced over at Hermione for the fourth or fifth time when his attention was abruptly drawn back to his own table. Ginny was smirking at him and Ron and had managed to imitate Hermione's voice and style of speaking perfectly. Startled, Harry and Ron exchanged a look, then turned sheepishly back to Ginny. Apparently Ron had been doing the same thing he had. "You look like a pair of lost puppies," she teased. Harry managed a shrug and turned back to his lunch. Ginny, however, would not let it go. "Harry," she said pointedly, "you don't want it to look like you're having a fight with your girlfriend on the first day of school."
Harry had a puzzled look on his face for a moment, then realized what she was telling him. "Right," he muttered and he climbed to his feet and hesitantly approached the other table, Ron trailing him.
"Harry!" Hermione said looking up with a smile on her face. "Where have you been?" Her smile fell when she noticed that something was troubling him. Ernie looked up and slid over, making room for him but he kept standing.
"We've been over there," he gestured to the other table where everyone quickly looked down at their plates.
Hermione was perplexed. "Why didn't you join us?"
"You looked busy."
Ron, having decided that Harry wasn't going to take the place Ernie had made, sat down and shrugged apologetically.
The atmosphere between Harry and Hermione was growing more uncomfortable by the second. The look on Hermione's face indicated that she had no idea what was going on. Finally Harry said, "Look, I've got to get to class. I guess I'll see you later," and turned away.
Hermione quickly decided that whatever was happening, she shouldn't let it go any further and leapt to her feet. In a few strides she caught up to Harry and grabbed his arm. Pretending that nothing out of the ordinary had just happened, she said cheerfully, "We're going off to the library to work on our potions assignment. I'll see you back at the room after your classes, OK?"
Harry nodded in confusion and she reached up and gave him a quick kiss on the cheek while giving his hand a squeeze. Harry finally managed a smile, then turned to see Ginny, Luna, and Colin waiting for him. Ginny nodded her approval to Hermione, then came forward and grabbed Harry's arm and the four of them made their way to the Defense classroom.
The afternoon class was considerably different than the morning ones. This was sixth year NEWT level Defense Against the Dark Arts, a double period, and Remus decided to spend this first class period testing the students on what spells they had mastered. He and Harry were both busy as they moved about the classroom, observing the students casting spells and making suggestions, while recording their impressions about each student's ability level. It was quickly apparent to Harry that Ginny, Luna, and Colin were the best in the class. They were the only three from their year that had been in the DA, and the rest had still not recovered from Umbridge's miserable excuse for Defense lessons. It was further obvious that Ginny was far ahead of everyone.
"Someone's been practicing this summer," Harry muttered in her ear when he managed to get her where no one would overhear. Ginny turned to him with a bright smile on her face, delighted that he recognized the hard work she had put in. Pretending to show her something, he gave her a quick hug before he moved away, leaving a very happy Ginny behind him.
After Remus and Harry conferred a bit, Remus asked Colin, Luna, and Ginny to remain after he dismissed the class. They congratulated the three on their performance, then Harry asked if they would be willing to take a leadership role in the DA this year. Of course, Colin was thrilled beyond belief. Harry had already had this conversation with Ginny and she also accepted enthusiastically, while Luna just smiled and told them of course she would. Harry accompanied Colin and Ginny back to Gryffindor tower, his mood considerably brighter than it had been at the beginning of the lesson.
Hermione was sitting in their common room reading a book when Harry returned to the Heads suite. Quickly putting it aside, she asked, "What was that all about at lunch?"
Harry's good mood dissipated and he just shrugged and started toward his room. He wasn't sure he could explain it.
"Harry James Potter!" Startled, he turned to see Hermione standing with her hands on her hips, an anxious look on her face. "We didn't make all that progress getting closer to each other and having you learn to share your feelings with me this summer only to have you go back to withdrawing into yourself once we're back here." She moved up to take his hands in hers and lowered her voice. "Talk to me," she pleaded. She pulled him over to the couch and sat him down, then curled up next to him. She had said as much as she dared. It was up to him now.
Harry gathered his thoughts. "I'm sorry," he began. "I didn't mean to do that. I'm just having trouble explaining it." He paused, searching for the words. "I know we wanted things to change, but … When I came into the Great Hall I was looking for you and then I saw you sitting with your potions class and it didn't seem like there was any room for me."
"Harry, there were only eight of us. There was plenty of room …"
"Not by you. Ernie and Blaise were budged up next to you." Hermione's eyes widened a little. It had been flattering, she recalled guiltily, when the two boys had sat down right by her. It hadn't occurred to her how Harry would view that.
"Ernie moved over as soon as you came to the table," she protested.
"What, I'm supposed to just march up and say 'Get out of my way, I want to sit next to Hermione'?"
"Well, yes actually." Noticing his startled look she explained, "Maybe not in those words, but you're supposed to be my boyfriend. You can do that."
"I never had to do it before. You always saved me a seat." Hermione nodded in understanding. The Gryffindors had always automatically left an empty spot by her or Ron for Harry.
"It's more than that, though. Ever since we discovered this connection between us I can sense whenever you come into a room." Hermione nodded again. She could do the same with him. "I was there for more than half an hour and you never noticed. Usually you're looking for me."
Hermione was dismayed to realize that he was right. She had been so caught up with the attention that the others were paying to her, especially Ernie and Blaise she admitted to herself, that she hadn't even realized that Harry was there. That had never happened before. It was the sort of thing that would have annoyed her when Harry or Ron did it, she thought uncomfortably, thinking back to Ron's infatuation with Fleur or Harry's distraction by Cho during fourth year.
She reached out and took his hand. "You have a point; I'm sorry it made you feel bad. But, let's agree that we both could have acted differently. I should have been watching for you and you should have come over to at least let me know you were there. OK?" Harry agreed and they both felt a sense of relief. They decided that they would look for each other at mealtimes, and if one of them wanted to sit with someone else they would let the other person know.
"Ginny told me it wouldn't look good if I had a fight with my girlfriend on the first day," Harry informed her with a smile. "That wasn't a fight, was it?"
"Not even close," Hermione reassured him. "When we have a fight I'll be sure to let you know," she grinned, then went on. "We don't quite have the hang of this boyfriend/girlfriend thing yet, do we?" Harry agreed and they both leaned back on the couch for a while, with Hermione's head resting against his shoulder.
"Hey, I have an idea to cheer us up," Hermione announced suddenly, sitting up. "Let's try to get the Room of Requirement to make us an indoor pool."
After the requisite pacing back and forth by the portrait of Barnabus the Barmy, the door appeared and they entered to find a pool that was twenty-five meters long but only three meters wide. Harry realized that they had needed a pool to swim laps in and the room had given them exactly that. Looking around, Harry noticed that there was no place to change into their suits, and suggested to Hermione that they turn their backs to each other. Hermione just looked at him and shook her head.
"Harry, it's the Room of Requirement," she reminded him. "If we need changing rooms it will give them to us." She concentrated for a moment and two doors appeared. Harry gave her a sheepish look and headed to one while she went to the other. Just before they closed the doors she added teasingly, "besides, I would have peeked."
Harry groaned as he pulled off his shirt and pants, trying to think of a retaliatory remark. (Somehow, saying he would have peeked too didn't strike him as being that clever.) He eventually gave up, reminding himself that he never won one of these teasing battles with Hermione.
When they emerged he noticed that she was wearing a bikini that was considerably different than any she had worn during the summer. Instead of her customary triangle top with string ties, this suit had a top that resembled a sports bra. The bottom with two-inch sides had more coverage than her other suits with string tied bottoms. Aware of his inspection, Hermione waited until he was finished and then commented that this suit was designed for swimming rather than sunbathing. Since they were indoors, she pointed out, she wouldn't be doing any sunning.
Harry took all this in, then grinned at her. "That's OK, you look good in this, too."
Hermione smiled with pleasure at the compliment, and on an impulse leaned in and kissed him on the mouth. "Thank you, you're so sweet."
Harry looked back in surprise. "Um, Hermione, there's no one else here. Why'd you kiss me like that?"
Hermione inwardly berated herself for the slipup. She simply had to hide her feelings better than that! Recovering, she responded, "Oh. Well it's more convincing if we act like that all the time instead of trying to turn it on and off. Don't you think?" she added anxiously.
"I … I guess so." Harry looked at her strangely, but then shrugged and dove into the pool and started swimming. Relieved, Hermione sighed and dove in after him.
"What have you two been doing?" asked Ron as they joined their friends at the Gryffindor table for supper. "We didn't see you all afternoon."
"Swimming," Hermione responded simply. At Ron's puzzled look she explained. "For exercise. Harry and I try to run or swim every day to stay fit. You should try it," she added, looking around at the others. Most of the Gryffindors gave them a strange look and went back to their meal. Exercise was not something most wizards did. Ginny had a thoughtful expression on her face, though, and Neville, noticing this, decided he should pay attention as well.
Ron spoke up again. "Quidditch keeps me in pretty good shape. No fat on me, is there?"
Ginny rolled her eyes at her brother. "Trust me, Ron, Harry is in a lot better shape than you are." Suddenly she blushed as she realized the implications of what she had said. Several of the Gryffindors returned their attention, deciding that this conversation was more interesting than they had thought.
Ron turned to her suspiciously. "And you would know that how, exactly?"
Harry was getting nervous at where this discussion was heading, but Hermione quickly interjected, "Ginny came swimming with Harry and me one time at the end of the summer. But that's not the point. By exercising all summer Harry is in a lot better condition than he was before, even with playing quidditch. It really helps with your stamina when you're dueling." She was choosing her words very carefully now. She had been closely watching the Gryffindor students during this exchange. There had been quite a few looks of jealousy at her first statement, mostly by the female students at the thought of her and Ginny being familiar with Harry's physique. She was hoping to deflect their thoughts onto dueling and avoid them dwelling on words like 'stamina' or 'endurance' in regards to romantic relationships.
Ginny had recovered her composure and picked up on Hermione's argument. "I'd like to join you guys when you exercise if you don't mind. After some of those attacks this summer I think we should have every advantage we can get in a fight with Death Eaters." Neville immediately agreed, having finally made the connection between swimming and how girls were customarily dressed while swimming and decided that this suddenly sounded like a very good idea. Ron was unconvinced about his need for more exercise, but knew from long experience the downside of disagreeing with Hermione about something.
The next morning was a real eye-opener for a few Gryffindors. This time Hermione decided to wear a T-back tank top instead of a sports bra, and put on long stretch pants instead of shorts under her sweats. Otherwise, she and Harry looked much the same as they had the previous day, with loose tee shirts and sweat pants. On their way out of the castle they stopped at Gryffindor tower to see who was going to take them up on their offer. To their surprise a half dozen students were ready to give it a go, including Ron, Ginny, Neville, Colin, and two younger years. The two younger students were muggleborn and had exercise clothing, but the other four were wearing jeans and tee shirts.
Since Ron and Ginny had been training to some extent during the summer, they were able to keep up better than Neville and Colin, but slowed to a walk before long. Harry and Hermione stopped part way again and did other exercises while waiting, and eventually Ginny and Ron trotted up. Ron dropped to one knee to catch his breath while Ginny leaned weakly against a tree. Harry paused from where he was doing situps while Hermione was holding his ankles and gave them both a smirk.
"OK, I admit it", Ron shot between deep breaths. "You're in better shape. I'll try to run with you sometimes but I'm definitely not swimming."
Harry and Hermione turned puzzled looks toward Ginny, and she gave them an 'I'll explain later' look. Harry turned back to Ron. "You should try to lift weights with us, too. Build up your upper body, and also improve your leg strength."
This time it was Ginny's turn to tease her older brother. "Yeah, the girls just love those rippling chest muscles." Before Ron could think of a comeback the two muggleborns arrived. They had been setting a moderate jogging pace and were breathing normally. After a brief pause they headed off again. Finally Neville and Colin staggered up to them. Harry winced in sympathy. While Neville had lost the pudgy look he had in his first few years at Hogwarts, he clearly wasn't in condition for this. Hermione had just finished her own set of situps and Harry released her ankles and moved over to talk quietly to Neville and Colin. After he got their agreement to take it easy and not push so hard right away, the two decided not to continue around the lake, but rest there a while and then head back. By now Ginny and Ron were ready to continue, so the four friends set off again, eventually finding a pace they were all comfortable with. Harry ran with Ron a bit and they talked about quidditch, while Ginny stayed with Hermione and asked her about her exercise clothing. When they returned to the castle they had some breakfast and then split up, Ginny going off to shower before Charms while Harry and Hermione took Ron to the weight room.
Ron decided he liked lifting weights a lot more than running and the trio spent an enjoyable time together. Harry and Hermione removed their sweats and Hermione her tee shirt when they started on the weights, and Harry had to grin at the wide-eyed look on Ron's face at the sight of Hermione's exercise clothing. After a good workout they all returned to their respective rooms to shower and change. Harry and Ron had Defense next and they decided to meet Hermione in Gryffindor tower before lunch and left her at the library.
Remus decided to do the same thing with the seventh year NEWT Defense class as he had the previous day with the sixth years. Once again, the former DA members were head and shoulders above the other students. As Harry moved about the room observing and taking notes many of them asked him when the DA would start up again. Harry told them to keep their charmed coins handy and he would signal them when he was ready to start. This caused quite a few embarrassed looks to be exchanged between several of them. While Harry hadn't been aware of it, word had spread throughout the group after the battle last spring about how Hermione had tried to call for their help with the coins and only Neville and Luna had responded. Justin and Ernie had gathered some of others together and they had vowed that they wouldn't let Harry down again.
Hermione was waiting with Ginny for them when they emerged from class, and they all had lunch together. Harry told the rest about the enthusiasm the DA members had shown, and they agreed to have their first meeting the following week with only the original DA members, then expand it later to the rest of the school. After lunch Ginny gave Neville a kiss and went off with Colin and Luna to Potions while the seventh years had Charms.
Harry was feeling great that afternoon, and he realized that this was their first 'normal' class. Finally he was in a familiar setting, with Ron and Hermione sitting on either side of him in a classroom. As usual, Hermione had to nag Ron at least once to pay attention and she was the first one to master that day's charm. For a change, though, Harry was almost as quick to get it as she was. As the year progressed, this was to become commonplace. Whether it was due to all the study during the summer, or the fact that he was taking his studies more seriously than ever, or something unexplainable, Harry began to be one of the top students in his classes.
The next afternoon Ginny brought Neville to the Heads suite and asked if they could try swimming with them. Harry loaned Neville one of his suits (one of the baggy ones; he realized the pureblood wizard would freak out if he had to wear one of the racing suits) and they returned to the Room of Requirement. Ginny had on an old one-piece suit and Harry had to admit that as she had claimed during the summer, it pretty much covered up everything. Harry and Ginny started swimming while Hermione stayed at one end with Neville to teach him to swim. Reaching the other end of the pool Harry and Ginny stopped to talk.
Harry asked about Ron and Ginny explained that Ron didn't know how to swim and had some bad childhood memories of the water from some pranking by the twins while they were little. Harry recalled that Ron's fear of spiders was also due to a prank by the twins, and realized that while he had always envied his friend for his large family, there was a downside with having the twins for older brothers. Then he and Ginny turned their attention to Hermione and Neville and Harry laughed.
"Looks like Neville is having the same trouble learning to swim that I did." Down at the other end of the pool, Neville was finding it difficult to keep his eyes off of Hermione's bikini top and to concentrate on what she was trying to show him. "I think I had it even tougher than he does," Harry mused, thinking back to his first swimming lesson.
"Oh? Something you want to tell me?" Ginny prompted.
Harry hesitated. Actually, he didn't especially want to relate that story to Ginny, not being certain how she would react. Ginny saw his hesitation and frowned. She wished he would be more open with her.
"Promise you won't get mad?"
Several different retorts raced through Ginny's mind before she decided that this was an opportunity for her. "Is this the sort of thing you could tell Hermione?" He shrugged. "Harry, I want you to get to be as comfortable talking to me you are to her. I promise I won't get mad."
"OK. You know that bikini you wore when you came over to Hermione's house? Well, she wore that suit the first time she tried to teach me to float."
"So she er, fills it out a little more than you do, and it was very distracting." He motioned down the pool to where Hermione was leaning over Neville as he was floating on his back, trying unsuccessfully to keep his mind on swimming.
Ginny's eyes grew wide as she realized exactly what he was saying, then she giggled. "Oh, Harry, is that all? That just proves you're a guy." She glanced back down to the other end. "Poor Neville, this must be really embarrassing for him." She looked back at Harry and deliberately ran her eyes up and down his body. "You know, I had a similar reaction when I first saw you in this swimsuit." Harry turned red and she laughed out loud before pulling him into a hug. "You're really a sweetheart, Harry."
After a moment she leaned back with a mischievous look in her eye. "So, Harry, who looked better in that suit, me or Hermione?"
Harry wasn't about to fall for that one. "I enjoyed it a lot more on you." At her raised eyebrow he explained. "I was so embarrassed when she wore it that I couldn't really appreciate it but with you it was OK to look so I could enjoy it." She nodded, satisfied with his answer so he decided to tease a little. "And then you had that little accident and I really enjoyed it then."
"Oh! You!" she sputtered, turning even redder than he had and began hitting him on the chest. "Oh that was so embarrassing. I can't believe you reminded me of that. You …" Harry suddenly ended her protests by the simple expedient of pulling her into a kiss. Ginny immediately decided that the kiss was a much better idea than whatever she had been about to say.
"Hey!" came Hermione's voice from the other end of the pool. "Are you guys here to swim or make out?" Harry and Ginny pulled apart and laughed, then began swimming again.
As the weeks went on, things would come to settle into a pattern. Harry and Hermione would be up early to exercise along with anyone who wanted to join them, then again in the late afternoons. During the evenings when most of the students were doing homework, they and Ron would work on attack and defense spells with Remus or Tonks or another defense instructor.
As far as meals went, after their morning workouts they would shower and go to breakfast with whomever was up. Usually they tried to join a few of the younger students, especially looking for the muggleborns. On Tuesdays Hermione came to lunch with her Potions class and Harry joined her. Initially Ron joined them also, but he soon changed his mind, citing the conversation at the table. They quickly discovered that lunchtime conversation at a table with Hermione and three Ravenclaws was considerably different than what it had been at the Gryffindor table. These students tended to discuss in detail their coursework, particularly the class they had just come from or their upcoming classes. Unlike Ron, however, Harry decided it was worthwhile to stay and listen because he might learn something useful. Ginny and Neville usually joined them, too. Ginny was still taking Potions and she found the discussions helpful, not to mention that it was a chance to spend time with Harry.
On Thursdays it would be the same with Hermione's Arithmency class. This time it was Hermione and mostly Ravenclaws, along with Tracey Davis and a few Hufflepuffs. As a result of these lunchtime interactions Harry would gradually get to know some students that he really hadn't spent much time with before, and particularly grow to like Padma and Tracey, as well as Susan Bones and Ernie. And that after all, he thought with satisfaction, was the whole point of rearranging the mealtime seating.
A/N Just to avoid any confusion – we didn't race through the first month of classes in that last section, we just looked ahead a little and described how their schedules work out and the mealtime seating arrangements. The next chapter continues with the first week of classes.