The original Trio has been together for more than five years at Hogwarts, their friendship formed by the adventures they've faced. But what happens now that there's a chance to deepen the friendship with another threesome?
Sixpack Fic: Extra Credit
"Honestly, you boys," Ginny sighed, shaking her head. "A girl flops in your lap and you freeze solid."
Neville went pink at her comment, gazing down at Luna's dirty-blonde hair spilling along his robes. The fifth-year Ravenclaw had been studying with the Gryffindors as she and Ginny prepared for their OWLs. And she had just tucked her wand behind her ear, sighed, and slumped over into Neville's lap.
"Are you okay, Luna?" Hermione asked worriedly, sitting up from her spot at the foot of Ron's bed.
Luna opened one silver eye and gazed at Harry, Ron, and Hermione. "Hmmmm . . . my brain's full," she murmured. "All those little house-elves in my head couldn't file that much information fast enough. Break time?" She rolled onto her back to peer up at a blushing Neville. "You're very comfy. I think I'll stay like this for a while." She smiled dreamily, then abruptly blinked in surprise. "Is that your wand in your front pocket?"
The rest of the group laughed as Neville stammered and yanked his new wand out of his robes.
Studying as a group had become rather difficult since the inclusion of Luna Lovegood, who was of a different House than the other five students. Not that there was bad blood between Ravenclaw and Gryffindor. Just that it was extremely rare to see students of other Houses in the Gryffindor common room, other than Parvati Patil's twin sister Padma who was a Ravenclaw, but exceptions like that were made for family members to come and go between the Houses.
Luna, on the other hand, was regarded as something of an oddity by most of the other students at Hogwarts, including members of her own House. Harry and his friends had learned otherwise during the fight in the Department of Mysteries last year. As far as they were concerned, she was welcome in their midst any time. Consequently, she spent more time studying with the five Gryffindors than in her own common room. She may have been a year behind them, but both she and Ginny brought new perspectives to sixth-year work, while the four older students helped the girls prepare for their OWL exams.
The six of them had found the stares in the common room more than a bit distracting so they often used the boys' dormitory, sometime accompanied by Dean and Seamus, more often not. Tonight was a case of the latter.
Ginny giggled and gently pried Neville's wand from his fingers, setting it beside his Divination homework. "Neville, you need to relax. You've already had your OWLs." She felt his shoulders. "You were looser in the Department of Mysteries last year, I swear. Come here." Tugging her robes out from under her knees, she slid over to kneel behind him and put her hands on his back.
One deep push of her thumbs made Neville gasp but after a few circles into his shoulders, he slumped and let his breath out slowly.
"There we go," the redhead nodded, flexing his shoulders back and forth carefully. "Don't worry about Luna down there. She won't do anything."
Hermione quirked an eyebrow at Ron, who was redder than Neville. "Secret family talent?" she inquired.
He sputtered incoherently in reply.
"Guess not," she sighed. "Heaven only knows I could have used one or two of those in the last few years."
Ginny smirked. "Oh, then you should have asked Fred or George before they left last year. Where do you think I learned this?" Her hands cupped Neville's shoulders one at a time, pulling them back and stretching him.
"So how did you guys convince Dean and Seamus to let us have the dorm to ourselves tonight?" Hermione asked.
Another smirk from Ginny as she ran her fingers up into Neville's thick, black hair, making him sigh and relax even more. "That's my doing. I told Dean that if they left us alone tonight, I'd give him that kiss he's been asking for."
Ron shot up, knocking his spellbook off the bed. "He's been WHAT?"
His sister shot him an amused look that she had most likely learned from Hermione. "Only joking, Ron. Lighten up a bit about that. You do go off the deep end about any guy that shows interest in me." She slyly glanced down. "How about Neville? You aren't complaining about what I'm doing to him right now. What if I kissed him?" Leaning into the older boy's back, Ginny nudged him. "Oh, Neville?"
As he dazedly turned to look at her, she leaned over his shoulder, cupped the back of his head and pressed her lips against his warmly.
Neville blinked in surprise, eyes wide. "Mmmmph!" He tried to pull away, but Ginny held him against her. With Luna still half-draped over his lap (and watching the goings-on about her with great curiosity), he was trapped. Slowly, his tension eased and he was drawn back into her arms, her lips soft as she gave him more slow, comfortable kisses on the mouth.
Ginny drew back and sighed softly. "Hermione, would you either sit on or jinx my brother before he leaps off the bed?"
There was a strangled yelp as Hermione obligingly Leg-Locked Ron and then sat on his back. "Got him."
"Thank you." Ginny rested her chin on Neville's shoulder. "What did you think?"
He blushed as her hair brushed his cheek warmly. "That if he was going to kill me, I might as well deserve it? And that it was nice, too?"
Her arms slipped under his, wrapping around his chest to hug him from behind. "Neville, you deserve a lot more than that kiss. Luna and I wouldn't be passing Herbology without you this year. You're also one of the most teased and bullied Gryffindors in the last forty years. And yet, you're still here, with both a handful of OWLs and a fight against Death Eaters to your credit. No sixth-year Slytherin or Ravenclaw can say they've beaten those odds."
She felt him relax again in her embrace. "Neville . . . . I've got six brothers at home. And my parents." Pausing, she leaned in to kiss him on the cheek. "And there are times when they drive me barmy, but I'd never, *ever* live down losing them like you lost your parents. I'd go mad." She kissed him again softly. "I've also never said how sorry I was last Christmas, and for that . . . I'm very, very sorry. And the Christmas before that, at the Yule Ball, when you were brave enough to ask me. You deserve better than we've given you, even this year." Ginny rubbed her cheek against his shoulder, almost catlike.
Neville glanced down, not meeting Luna's bright eyes, his own hands gently stroking the blonde head in his lap. "I don't tell people about my parents, Ginny. There's more than one reason, though."
Harry, Hermione, and Ron had become invisible to the other threesome now, all of them knowing he didn't discuss his parents in St. Mungo's. Even Ron had stopped struggling against Hermione's jinx to listen, letting the young witch straddle him and lean on his back without complaint.
"People out there, older witches and wizards who know the family name, they always had this pitying look in their eyes when they saw me. I didn't need that here, or want to have Draco Malfoy find out, even though I'd bet his father's already given him all our families' histories. We're pure-bloods after all, both our families. . . . " He took a deep breath, looking back at the warm brown eyes so close to his. "Harry's known longer than any of you, which I expected. He kind of falls over things like that, like I fall over a broomstick." His gaze settled on Harry across the room. "You kept it to yourself, though, which helped."
Harry could only shrug, since Dumbledore had asked him to tell no one. "We're sort of in the same boat, Neville. And I know what too much attention's like."
"Being an almost Squib doesn't help, either," Neville sighed, returning his own attention to Luna and rubbing the Ravenclaw's forehead with his thumbs, making her groan softly. "Wand-work isn't my specialty."
The blonde blinked up at him from his lap, looking like she was enjoying her head massage. "I believe in you, Neville. You know that Professor McGonagall keeps telling you that there's nothing wrong with your work. You just need more confidence, as if OWLs in Defence against the Dark Arts, Astronomy, and Herbology weren't good enough. And you were injured in the Ministry last year, not slow, stupid, or incapable."
Ginny squeezed his shoulders. "We can work on your confidence, Neville. That's no problem as long as you realize that you can talk to us and we aren't nice to you out of pity. It's never been like that." Her hands rubbed along his spine. "Want proof? Look in your lap."
"Hmm, does this mean I get a kiss, too?" Luna murmured, sitting up beside the pair and turning to face Ginny over Neville's shoulder. She adjusted her wand behind her ear and crossed her legs, looking expectantly at the pair. "So, who's going first?"
Trying not to laugh at Neville's expression, Harry jumped a bit as a handful of golden sparks spattered on the sleeve of his robes. Turning, he saw Hermione beckoning him to come over to Ron's bed. As he joined them, he watched the young witch prod Ron in the ribs with her wand and mutter, "Silencio!" This left him still purple in the face, but with no voice.
At Harry's inquiring look, she shrugged. "He was about to say something immature."
"Hermione, you're still a prefect. Are you sure about all this?"
She shrugged again, adding a wry smile. "This is too important for Neville to stop now. And for us."
Accepting that, but wondering what she meant by the second part, Harry turned his attention back to the trio by Neville's bed.
Ginny seemed unfazed by Luna's question, probably since the girls had been together for a few years. "Neville's first, Luna," she smiled, not letting him go.
The blonde nodded and rolled her head around on her shoulders. Slipping her arm around both Ginny's and Neville's arms, she brought her lips up to his in a slow, deep kiss.
Harry heard Hermione's breath catch in her throat and stole a quick glance over at her, seeing her flush beet-red. He had known that most girls put great stock in kissing, but why . . . .
Luna eased back from a panting Neville, her usually wide eyes now hooded in pleasure. Promptly turning to Ginny, who was still cuddled into Neville's back, she cupped her friend's cheek and pressed her mouth against hers.
Harry now understood why Hermione had blushed, wondering why his robes felt suddenly tighter around his neck and groin.
Ginny's voice was purring a little while later as she pulled away from Luna. "Mmm . . . I think you kiss better than most guys." She gave Neville a gentle peck on the side of his neck. "No offense, Neville. Did you enjoy that?" At his silent, nervous nod, she shifted and freed an arm to slide it around Luna's waist and bring her fully into their hug.
Hermione turned to Harry as she cast the counter-charms on Ron to free his legs and voice. "That's it. We won't be doing any more studying tonight, it seems. And I think it's time we merged our two groups properly." She saw his puzzled expression. "Harry, we've been a trio for almost six years. We've done great things together since that troll at our first Halloween feast."
Ron sat up, rubbing his knees to get the blood flowing after her Leg-Locker curse. "Yeah, so?"
The bushy-haired witch bumped him with her shoulder. "That little tussle cemented our friendship as an obscure Charm, known as the Catenata. Professor Flitwick just assigned research on that as one of my extra projects for this term. We three are magically a trio, Ron."
He snorted quietly. "Come off it, Hermione. We've been Charmed together for the last five years? I don't believe it."
"Well, if you bothered actually researching your homework instead of cramming it all at the last possible second, you'd learn a few things," she told him tolerantly. That particular argument between the pair had been going on so long, it had stopped affecting either. In fact, Hermione had smiled as she wagged her wand at him, as did Ron.
"Anyway," she continued, "Take my word for it: The troll, the Philosopher's Stone, you and Harry in the Chamber of Secrets, Harry and I with the Time Turner. They all made the bonds stronger. It could be one reason we keep getting in so much trouble, unconsciously trying to strengthen the connection." She nodded at Luna, Neville, and Ginny, who had separated and were now also listening to her lecture. "You three started last year in Professor Umbridge's office, then built on it by not letting any of us talk you out of joining the rescue and the fight in the Department of Mysteries in which we all had a few close calls. That's when things began to cross over between you and our trio." She slid off the bed at that point and held out her hands to her two friends. "Which is why we need to get stronger with you and bring our two groups together."
Neville eyed her nervously as she led Ron and Harry over to sit down with them. "What does that mean, Hermione?"
"It means she's signing you three up for SPEW if Luna lets her join the hunt for Crumple-Horned Snorkacks," Ron cracked, only to get another elbow from the witch. "OW!"
"Ignore him," Hermione grinned. "Neville, different things happen with each instance of the Catenata, with different results, different bonds and even changed power levels. In third year, Ron, Harry and I tried the Disarming Charm on Professor Snape simultaneously." She shivered. "A bit too powerful, it turned out. It sent him flying."
She nodded at a book buried in the pile she had brought in to study from. "I looked up our respective situations in a book Professor Flitwick let me borrow from the Restricted Section. And we both have potential in a couple of areas, if we're open to exploring them."
"Oh, if it's from the Restricted Section, it's *got* to be good," Ginny grinned, half understanding.
Hermione smiled back. "I'll let you borrow it if you like. It would help you three understand the Catenata you've started. With two witches and a wizard, you've got a great deal of affection and finesse in your trio, even with your power base, Ginny. We've watched that all year with you three, no question. Our Catenata is two wizards and a witch, so we received more power and ability to attract trouble." Her smile got wider. "You've seen *that* happen far too often with us. Now cross-links have been started and we need to start learning from each other." Putting her arm around Ron's shoulders, she slid her other arm through Harry's to clasp his hand in hers. "You three had a head start on trouble last year, so I'm not going to suggest you learn to get more of it. On the other hand, we're not an affectionate trio, as you've seen. We're more used to fighting with each other and making up again. I think there's definite room for improvement here."
Luna nodded in understanding and held out her free hand to Ron, the other twined with Neville's. On the other side, Ginny nestled herself into Harry and took his free hand to complete the circle. There was silence for a while as everyone stayed with his or her own thoughts.
Luna lifted Ron's hand to her lips. Dreamily, she kissed the back of his wrist. "I've been waiting to do that for a little while," she smiled, watching him redden. Then she leaned in to nip at his nose. "Hmm. Nice way to go about studying magic."
Ginny giggled as she squeezed Neville's hand gently and leaned over to whisper in Harry's ear. "Oh, we're studying now, are we?" She gently brushed herself against him, also squeezing his fingers with hers.
Harry blushed as he felt her chest against his arm, her fingers a warm, steady pressure on his palm. "Seems that way. We just have to trust her and hope she knows . . . ." Then he cut himself off as he felt Hermione's warm breath on his neck and glanced over to see her face inches from his. A sudden thought came to him. "Um . . . Hermione, tonight's study group was your idea. You're not just doing all this for that project Flitwick gave you, are you?"
She grinned wickedly and nudged his nose with hers softly. "Mmmmm. How could you think something like that of me, Harry, after all we've been through together?" she asked softly. "I've got our best interests at heart here. I'm fond of Ron and Ginny as well, just as Luna is. And I'm sure you and Neville could benefit from this the most, both in magic and personal feelings. We're going to need all the love and affection we can get down the road when Voldemort makes his first appearance and officially declares war on us. More power never hurts, either. And I can't think of a place I'd rather start with than our closest friends. Can you?"
She gave him another gentle nose rub and laughed. "However, there's also just something . . . lovely, about practical research for extra credit," she purred, eyes shining. "Nothing makes me happier, you know . . . now stop complaining and kiss me." And her lips and tongue brushed his.
- - - - -
Professor Flitwick eyed the rolled parchment from Miss Granger. Even fastened down with Spellotape, it still was more than three inches in diameter, meaning she had once again outdone herself on her research project by more than a few feet, if not yards.
Well, extra credit would surely have to be considered. She always did throw herself into her work.
Thanks to Chaos and our captain Eighth Weasley for beta and editing. ^^ The Ship will not sink!