[2nd chapter of the day]
Harry remembered first year, when Ron and Hermione and he'd spent the entire time whispering in corners. It wasn't gossiping, no, it was more important than that. And, somehow, less so too.
Hadn't stopped Voldemort.
Hadn't really dented him, either.
Second year had been more of that, with the added feeling that Everyone Else was against Harry Potter.
Just somewhere, along the line, he'd gotten out of the habit of telling his friends everything.
No, maybe he'd never had it proper in the first place. They'd wormed things out of him - nightmares and the walking nightmares that were the Dursleys, and the fear of going mad, hearing things that couldn't be.
Harry was pants at lying, and maybe, just maybe, that was a good thing.
Today, though, Harry was going to try - try, at least, to tell them something. Because he needed a second - a third set of eyes.
And besides, wasn't that was friends did? Shared trials and trivialities alike?
It was after dinner, and Harry's eyes had started hurting awhile ago. So he'd taken off his glasses.
"Harry, there you are!" Hermione said, announcing herself as if Harry had somehow gone somewhere, and thus she'd been searching for him - though she knew perfectly well he'd stay in the infirmary.
Well, maybe not perfectly. Harry wasn't a very perfect person.
Ron didn't so much come in as he sauntered in, recovering with a burning blush from a kiss that Lavender had smacked on his lips before smacking his rump and sending him in "To Spend Some Time With His Friends."
Harry thought that was loud and obnoxious enough to be distasteful, but why judge? He didn't have a girlfriend, so he'd just seem jealous anyway.
And maybe he was. He didn't think so, but... Delusions are human, and he'd rather not be Dudley-thinking-he-was-attractive-in-a-hammy-sort-of-way.
"How'd you manage to be out in the Forbidden Forest that early, mate?" Ron asked. Hermione looked on, that particular stillness she got when she was fully listening.
Harry shrugged. "I got an owl today. Banded and barded."
Ron whistled, "Blimey, who'd you piss off now?"
Hermione giggled, "Besides the muggle trapper."
Harry snorted softly at that, "Bet he's going to be upset that someone stole the trap." He really ought to ask if Snape wanted him to put it back for the next run-through.
Harry straightened up, "It wasn't angry. It was from Pansy's parents, congratulating me on my betrothal."
"Betrothal?" Hermione got in, though Harry could see that Ron had wanted to express his shock. With Hermione, it was shock fading quickly into white-hot anger.
Harry covered his face with his hands.
Angry Hermione was easier to deal with that way.
"I know... I know..." Harry said, "It was an accident! I didn't know any better!"
Hermione put her hand on his shoulder, "Relax, Harry and just tell us what's happened."
"You... you saw..." Harry said, "Potions class, when I kissed her... Apparently Potions Class counts as being 'in public' - and kisses in public are... Well, I think I managed to flummox Snape. Well, everyone really, but mostly the Slytherins."
Ron looked green, "You don't mean-?"
Harry nodded, looking grim, "Yeah, I know, it's an old rule and an old tradition, but you know how Slytherins are."
Hermione was starting to simmer again, "Harry Potter, you tell me what you're on about right this instant."
"A kiss, in public, used to be used only during a Marriage Ceremony." Harry looked very uncomfortable, because Harry felt very uncomfortable. "Somewhere along the line, it got watered down to be used during Betrothals..."
Harry gulped, and finished.
"If Pansy's parents had wanted, they could have declared us married, that day, all legal and proper."
Hermione's eyes were wide. "Ha-rry..." It was a first - Hermione didn't even have words to scold him with.
"Pansy's nicer than she seems." Ron said, and Harry wanted to hiss back at him, you haven't seen her vamping about.
"So." said Harry, collecting himself, "now I need to be sufficiently inflammatory and provocative, in order to convince Parkinson's parents that they should break the betrothal."
"You sure you don't just want to keep her, mate?" Ron asked, leaning backward on the next bed.
Even the thought had Harry's face going white, "Nah, mate, she'd murder me. Just a question of how, and how quickly she could pull it off."
Hermione looked at him, gauging what he'd said. "You're serious?"
Harry nodded, "Better to kill someone than live as their ... sexual slave? I don't even know what a Magical Marriage does to people who aren't in love!"
Hermione's mouth had narrowed to a line. "I'll find you a book or two." She stalked out of the infirmary.
"How are you going to get them to call it off?" Ron said.
"Do something stupid." Harry said, with an easy grin. "Rinse, Wash, Repeat." Then, of course, he had to explain what that saying meant.
[a/n: All indications, for those not particularly Slytherin, are that the Parkinsons want to call this off as soon as possible. Leave a review?
Next one's going to be a hard one to write. wish me luck!]