Watch Your Sass
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Friday morning Harry woke up late. He made it to breakfast in time to chug down a glass of pumpkin juice and cram in two pieces of toast before the food disappeared. Ron and Hermione had already left for class so he knew he would have to brave the storm of students alone.

Consequently, he was late for Defense Against the Dark Arts. Again. He was seven minutes late, which was better than yesterday, when he had been nearly 15 minutes late after hiding out in the loo to avoid a 4th year trying to feed him suspiciously homemade cookies.

At the door, Professor Liore stopped him when he entered, and asked, "Mr. Potter, is there a reason you can't seem to get to my class on time?" Even when she was being irritating, her voice seemed to float like a melody.

"Yes, Professor," Harry replied, "There was a group of girls in the hallway that accosted me. No disrespect, but I'd think you would be able to tell that," he finished, motioning to the tear in his robe on the left sleeve.

Professor Liore pointed her wand at the tear and cast a quick mending charm. She then, pointedly look him up and down, and said, "I honestly thought that this is just how you look everyday," her eyes wandered again over his disheveled robes, his hair, and then met his eyes, "No disrespect."

Harry huffed and fought not to glance at the students lined up against the back wall, many of whom were snickering.

The Professor flashed him a bright smile, bright blue eyes glittering, "All the students are paired up so you will be judging with me instead of dueling today."

"Of course, Professor."

The class paired off on the mats and began to duel. Harry watched them closely, noting the difference between his style and his classmates. He stopped to watch Neville and Ron, as Ron hit Neville with a bat bogey hex. Neville tried to block and counter at the same time and ended up taking the hex on his right thigh.

Professor Loire came up to him then, standing to close and spoke in a voice that only he could hear, "Now now Potter, don't get distracted," she said in a sweet tone. "You are supposed to be watching their technique, not admiring them."

Harry's jaw dropped and he turned to stare at her profile in stunned silence. Her red hair was pulled up into a tight bun, allowing him to see the slightest smirk on her lips.

Harry narrowed his eyes and said, very quietly, "What are you, early twenties? We are only a couple years younger than you. Are you projecting?"

The smirk grew and she slanted those blue eyes on him, her head tilting only a fraction towards him, "Watch your sass, Gryffindor."

Harry stared at her as she walked away to view the duel between Hermione and Ernie, until Blaise came up beside him.

"Hey Scarhead, I know you like redheads but I thought you'd worked that out of your system, yeah?" Blaise asked.

Harry turned a shocked expression on the other boy, who smiled with false innocence. "Can I help you with something?" Harry asked.

"Nope, I just came over to tell you that I will dismember you if I find out you hurt one of my best friends," Blaise said easily.

"I see," Harry replied slowly, he wasn't concerned with the threat, only worried about the subject, "and we are talking about Parkinson?" he asked hopefully.

Blaise chuckled, "Both of them," he said, looking over to the mat where Pansy and Draco were finishing their duel.



Draco was absent for dinner, along with the Headmistress. They were having their first meeting for the Wizengamot. Harry hoped they would be done by 8, that's when he was supposed to meet Draco at the lake.

Currently, Harry sat with Ron and Hermione at the 8th year table and listened to Ron talk about Percy's attempts to regulate the firework displays sold at his brother's shop. He was feeling supremely guilty about the fact that his best friends didn't know something about him that all of the returning Slytherins knew. And possibly Neville. Probably Neville.

"Hey, guys," Harry said, "I need to tell you something."

They both looked over at him, along with everyone in hearing distance. Pansy leaned around Terry Boot who was sitting next to Harry. "You can't be serious," she said to Harry. "Do not do this here, take them to the hallway at least!"

Harry scowled at her, wondering how it was that she could always tell what he was thinking. Maybe she was smarter than him.

"She's right," Hermione said quietly, "we shouldn't talk here." She pulled a confused Ron to his feet and left the great hall. Once Harry joined them she said in a rush, "Listen, I just want to say that I love you no matter what. I think this is a very stupid idea, but if it makes you happy, I will support you and be as nice as I can."

Harry smiled at her. He promised himself for the hundredth time that he would stop taking her for granted, "Mione, I," he stopped talking and hugged her instead. He looked over the top of her head at Ron.

"I don't understand," Ron said, "didn't we already have this conversation when you told us you like blokes?"

"Ron!" Hermione said, rounding on him, "I did not say that liking blokes was a stupid idea!"

"Yeah but you said the rest, and it feels the same," Ron replied. He turned to Harry, "So what the hell is going on? Do you like girls again? Are you," he grimaced, "getting back with Ginny?"

"No, no. Merlin. Um, ok so," Harry ran his hand through his hair and then across the back of his neck. Just say it and it will be fine, Hermione is ok with it, he thought. "I'm going on a datewithdraco," he swallowed through the dryness in his throat, "tonight."

It was not fine.

"What!?!" Ron shouted, making both Hermione and Harry flinch. "Bloody hell, have you lost your mind?"

"Possibly, but not because of this" Harry said weakly.

"No! You can't do this! You hate each other. He's- he's Draco Malfoy!" Ron cried. "He's drugged you with a love potion, it's the only explanation."

"Ronald! Shut up, you're going to draw attention," Hermione said, hitting him on the arm with her book.

Ron turned desperate eyes on Hermione, "This is our fault. We've been ignoring him. We were gone all summer and that snake-" 

"Ron," Harry cut in, and Ron turned to look at him. "You're my best mate and I love you like family, so please do not finish that sentence." He reached out and put a hand on Ron's shoulder, giving it a reassuring squeeze, "I like him a lot. I'm not spelled or drugged, I promise."

"Harry, I can hook you up with a nice guy, just give me ten minutes," Ron said.

"At least we're at the bargaining stage," Hermione said quietly.

Harry huffed a laugh, "No thanks mate, you have great taste in women, stick to what you know."

Hermione smiled. "Thank you, Harry," she said sweetly. "I'm going to take him away now. Have fun tonight, but not too much. Make sure you talk first."

"Yeah," Harry said with a grin, "o'course."