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Story Notes:
It’s cheating.

She doesn’t care what excuses Harry and Ron give to her. She knows the truth even if they refuse to acknowledge it. She’s disappointed in Harry and disgusted with Ron, which could also be contributed to the entire Lavender mess that just nauseates her. Hermione is also fed up with hearing Slughorn praise Harry as if he’s some second coming of a Potions Master.

Harry is good at a great many things, flying and Defense Against the Dark Arts among them, but he doesn’t have a natural affinity for potions. She’s had to help him for five years now, though not as much help as Neville required, but now he doesn’t need her because of that silly book. Hermione doesn’t do well with not being needed. Ron doesn’t need her because he’s got Lavender and Harry doesn’t need her because he’s got that old book, which means she’s left alone with nothing.

She hates being alone. She’s not a social creature, in fact dislikes many of their schoolmates for being immature and unfocused, but Harry and Ron have always needed her. It’s her place in their trio, after all. Harry saves them, Ron comes up with surprisingly good strategic plans, and she’s needed for research, support, speeches, or whatever task is available. She nags them because she loves them, possibly more than she should when she gives the topic serious attention, which isn’t often since that realization over the summer because it’s just confusing and illogical.

Slughorn rattles on about how perfect Harry’s potion is and she tightens her hands into fists to keep from reaching over and showing his book to the professor. She’s proud of Harry and Ron when they do things on their own and she’s not above helping them achieve the potential she believes they have, whether it’s tutoring or possibly a small curse at a competing Qudditch player in a moment of utter weakness that makes her rather ashamed after, but she finds it unacceptable to listen to praise for actions that aren’t their own.

Harry is cheating, regardless of what word he chooses he uses to justify his behavior, and it’s not fair to anyone else, but most of all it’s not fair to him. He’s not learning anything. He’s simply following instructions that are in his book without giving them any thought whatsoever. She also worries that he’s so stupidly trusting because, really, after Riddle’s diary in second year, she’d have expected more suspicion and caution from him. Instead, he holds that bloody book like it’s precious and quotes it as if it has all the answers to the universe.

He’s never once praised her for her help like he has that bloody book.

She feels someone watching her and glances over to find Zabini smirking at her. Her eyes narrow as she glares at him, which just amuses him. With a toss of her hair, she looks back at her potion and tries to focus. It doesn’t do her any good to dwell on Harry’s cheating because she knows she won’t tell on him and can only hope that he’ll realize what he’s doing and get rid of that blasted book.

Until then, she vows to learn every potion better than anyone else without cheating just to show him that it’s far better to receive credit for your work versus copying someone else’s. Then maybe he’ll realize he doesn’t need the book and he’ll need her again. With that thought in mind, she begins to stir her potion as a hopeful smile crosses her lips.