The next morning Harry, Ron and Hermione avoided going downstairs as long as they possibly could. They were still embarrassed over what had happened last night and weren't looking forward to facing their housemates. Dean and Seamus took their stuff and headed to the boys' shower just off the common room as usual, figuring the Trio was just sleeping in, now that everyone knew their secret and after last night's excitement they were probably exhausted. Neville, however, knew better. He stayed behind and walked over to Ron's bed and pulled back the hangings. As he had suspected he found three pairs of eyes looking back at him. They were awake, just stalling.
"You guys are going to miss breakfast." Neville pointed out.
"So what..." Ron mumbled, for once he didn't care about food.
"We don't feel like eating." Harry added, his voice was muffled by the fact that he'd hidden his face in Hermione's shoulder
"Come on, you need to eat. You can't hide up here forever." Neville said "Tell you what..I'll walk down with you..would that make you feel better."
"I guess." Hermione said "What do you think guys?" Harry and Ron nodded and they got out of bed. Neville, Harry and Ron gathered their things for the shower and then the four headed down to the common room. Neville walking a bit ahead and shooting glances at the others in the common room. He seemed to be challenging them to say anything. Nobody did. Angelina came out of the girls' shower, fully dressed and pulling her long braided hair back into a ponytail. She spotted the four second years and waved at them.
"Morning, guys." she said. Harry, Ron and Hermione smiled. Everyone was acting normally around them. With this encouraging sign Harry and Ron headed to shower and Hermione slipped up to the girls' dorm to get her stuff.
At breakfast Harry noticed that Ginny was picking at her food and hardly eating a thing. She looked thinner and paler. Harry hoped she was okay.
Later that day in Defense against The Dark Arts it was time to put their plan into action. Lockhart hadn't brought live creatures to class since the fiasco with the pixies in their first lesson, instead he'd started to act out scenes from his books. He always chose Harry to help him with this. Today he was forced to act the part of a werewolf. If he hadn't needed to keep Lockhart in a good mood he would have refused.
The bell rang and Lockhart set them homework (Writing a poem of all things). The class began to file out.
Go on, 'Mione Harry thought
Wait until everyone's gone. Hermione replied nervously. Once everyone else had left the three of them approached the teacher's desk
"Er..Professor Lockhart.." Hermione began nervously "I wanted to get a book for some background reading but it's in the restricted section of the library so I need a signed note from a teacher." At this she handed out a note she'd written "It'll help me understand what you say about slow acting venom in Gadding with Ghouls."
They went back and forth on the book, Lockhart saying it was his favorite and Hermione excitedly saying she'd enjoyed it. The boys stood behind her, exchanging looks and rolling their eyes. Both feeling the familiar stabs of annoyance that they always seemed to get when Hermione acted like this around Lockhart.
Lockhart took out an enormous peacock feather quill that he apparently usually saved for signing books and signed the note without even reading it.
"Now, I hear that the first Quidditch match of the season is tomorrow?" Lockhart said, looking at Harry "Gryffindor against Slytherin, right? I was a seeker once you know before I decided to dedicate myself to eradicating the dark forces so if you ever needed any private training feel free to let me know, always will to help out less able players!"
Harry, already annoyed with Lockhart and Hermione's fawning over him, felt another stab of annoyance. Less able? Him? He was the youngest Quidditch Player in a Century last year for cripes sake. He made an indistinct noise in his throat and followed Ron and Hermione out of the classroom. The three of them headed straight for the library.
He didn't even look at what book we wanted. Harry thought
Yeah well he's a brainless git. Ron said, shrugging
He is not! Hermione retorted.
Once they reached the library they showed madame Pince their note.
"Moste Potente Potions." Said the librarian suspiciously. She tried to take the note from Hermione but she wouldn't let go of it.
"I..umm..I was wondering if I could keep it." She said. Ron rolled his eyes and snatched the note from Hermione and gave it to Madame Pince
"We'll get you another autograph." Ron snapped.
Ten minutes later they had barricaded themselves into Moaning Myrtle's out of order bathroom. Hermione had overridden the boys' objections by telling them that this would be the best place for privacy because it was the last place anyone would go. Myrtle was ignoring them and they her.
She opened the book carefully and turned to the page on Polyjuice potion Harry hoped that the expressions of pain on the faces of the people in the pictures was a figment of the artist's imagination. Hermione reported that this was the most difficult potion she'd ever seen and that some of the ingredients were going to be difficult to get their hands on because they were kept in Snape's private stores. They would also need "A bit of whoever we're changing into."
That thought made Harry a bit sick. He was also worried about how much they would have to steal.
I don't know if this is such a good idea 'Mione.. He thought
Hermione glared at him Well if you don't want to find out if it's Malfoy then fine. I don't want to brake rules either but I think that the threats to muggle borns is more important. If you're going to chicken out though, then I'll turn the book back in.
Ron and Harry exchanged a look. She was right. Until they found out who was behind this Hermione and others were in danger.
Fine..let's do it. Ron thought Never thought I'd see the day you actually encouraged us to break the rules.
How long will it take to make? Harry asked as Hermione opened the book again looking happier.
A month. She reported, scanning the recipe again
A month? Ron thought, looking shocked But Hermione..if Malfoy is the heir he could attack half the muggle borns in the school by then!
He exchanged a significant look with Harry but Hermione narrowed her eyes again and Ron added hastily But it's the best plan we've got..
Hermione went to check if the coast was clear for them to leave the bathroom
"It'll be a lot less complicated if you just knock Malfoy off his broom tomorrow." Ron whispered to Harry, giving him a small grin and a wink. Harry grinned back..if only it could be that easy.