151 Breaking Bonds
Classes started again the next day. The last thing anyone felt like doing was spending two hours on the grounds on a raw January morning, except for Arth who swam in the lake every morning no matter the weather and wouldn't mind a slight cold weather, but Hagrid had provided a bonfire full of salamanders for their enjoyment, and they spent an unusually good lesson collecting dry wood and leaves to keep the fire blazing while the flame-loving lizards scampered up and down the crumbling, white-hot logs.
The first Divination lesson of the new term was much less fun; Professor Trelawney was now teaching them palmistry, and she lost no time in informing Harry that he had the shortest life line she had ever seen.
Ever since the day Arth had arrived from vacation, Arth and Hermione spent very little time with the other two boys.
In fact, both Hermione and Arth started to spend more time in the library than in the Gryffindor Common room. Hermione didn't want to meet them as she still felt a little guilty while Arth had enough of their idiotic behavior.
After Divination, it was Defense Against the Dark Arts. After the class had ended, Arth and Hermione couldn't help but overhear Ron and Harry talking about Professor Lupin.
"Still looks ill, doesn't he?" said Ron. "What d'you reckon's the matter with him?"
There was a loud and impatient "tuh" from Hermione.
"And what are you tutting at us for?" said Ron irritably.
"Nothing," said Hermione in a lofty voice, heaving her bag back over her shoulder.
"Yes, you were," said Ron. "I said I wonder what's wrong with Lupin, and you —"
"Well, isn't it obvious?" said Hermione, with a look of maddening superiority.
Arth raised an eyebrow.
"You also figured it out Hermione?"
"You did too! I knew it that you would figure out!"
"If you don't want to tell us, don't, go flirt somewhere else. I don't want to hear you two kids each other's butts," snapped Ron.
Arth coldly glared at Ron before turning away.
"Let's go Hermione. They don't deserve to hear from you anyways."
"They Don't know a thing," said Ron loudly making sure both Hermione and Arth heard. "They are just trying to get us to talk to them again."
Arth frowned and turned around.
"Why would we want to talk to two dense idiots who don't understand a thing about anything? Hermione, let's just go already."
They marched off leaving the two boys alone.
As more and more time went by, the workload of Hermione and Arth seemed to increase.
Every night, they were to be seen in a corner of the common room, several tables spread with books, Arithmancy charts, rune dictionaries, diagrams of Muggles lifting heavy objects, and file upon file of extensive notes.
If it wasn't for the time turners, it would've been almost impossible to finish all of their homework.
Of course, they had to find a hidden room to work, or at least wait until everyone else had gone to bed.
One time, while Hermione was sleeping on one of the tables, Arth took the time turner and turned back time. It was a very weird experience, staring at himself and working together with an exact duplicate.
Gladly, neither him or his other self made any attempt to kill each other.
January faded imperceptibly into February, with no change in the bitterly cold weather.
Arth and Hermione were working on finishing their homework when Harry and Ron came bathing into the common room with a broom in their hands.
There was a sudden, excited murmur as every head turned and the next moment, Harry was surrounded by people exclaiming over his Firebolt.
"Where'd you get it, Harry?" "Will you let me have a go?"
"Have you ridden it yet, Harry?"
"Ravenclaw'll have no chance, they're all on Cleansweep Sevens!"
"Can I just hold it, Harry?"
After ten minutes or so, during which the Firebolt was passed around and admired from every angle, the crowd dispersed and Arthur had a clear view of Harry and Ron. Hermione was purposefully averting her eyes.Harry and Ron approached their table and at last, she looked up.
"I got it back," said Harry, grinning at her and holding up the Firebolt.
"That's good," said Hermione with a stiff smile. "I suppose I'm glad to know that the broom is safe."
"See, Hermione? There wasn't anything wrong with it! you were just being too nit-picky." said Ron.
Hermione slammed her book onto the table and let out a shrill voice.
"I'm sorry for caring whether or not Harry would be safe! Next time I'll just watch him get thrown off a cursed broom I suppose."