Two weeks later, Hermione brings up the idea of Harry giving Defense Against the Dark Arts lessons again. Harry says that he's thought about it, but reminds Hermione that most of his success was due to luck. Hermione points out that Viktor Krum even said that Harry was advanced. Ron latches onto the fact that Hermione is still in communication with Krum, but Hermione ignores him and asks Harry if he'll teach them and possibly some other people. She suggests that they meet up with any interested students in Hogsmeade next week, since she reasons that they'll need to keep their group quiet.
Though Harry is humble about his experience level, it's still important to remember that whether he's inexperienced or not, Harry still has something that's allowed him to successfully fight Voldemort on several occasions—and whatever that is, even if it's luck or critical thinking skills, it's something that others could benefit from hearing about. This again reminds the reader that success isn't all about skills acquired in class; it's also about learning to read and respond to others.
In the week before the Hogsmeade trip, Harry worries that Sirius will try to show up. Ron and Hermione reason that Sirius will listen to Dumbledore, and Dumbledore certainly wouldn't allow it. On the morning of the trip, Filch sniffs at Harry before he lets Harry out of the gates. Harry laughs and tells Ron and Hermione about Filch's Dungbomb accusation, which concerns Hermione.
Hermione's concern speaks to her status as a bit of an outsider to Harry's experience. Especially because she's still regularly reading the Daily Prophet and knows what the Ministry is doing to discredit Harry, she's able to put the Dungbomb accusation in a wider context and see it as the worrying thing it is.
They walk through the village to the Hog's Head pub, which is a dodgy establishment and where Hermione believes the group won't be overheard. Harry is concerned; there are few patrons, but all of them look secretive. The bartender seems surprised when Harry, Ron, and Hermione order butterbeers. They find a table and soon after, a crowd of people arrives. It includes Neville, Dean, Lavender, Parvati and Padma, and Cho with one of her friends, Marietta. Luna, the entire Gryffindor Quidditch team, and several Hufflepuffs and Ravenclaws walk in as well. Fred counts and orders 25 butterbeers for the crowd.
Harry's instinct is correct here; both the Order and the Ministry will find out that this meeting happened because such a quiet pub means it's easier to hear what's going on. This shows the reader that Harry does have skills and instincts that Hermione doesn't. The interest in the group suggests that Hermione is correct, and more people want to believe Harry (or at least hear his story) than he thought.
Harry looks furiously at Hermione, who assures him that she'll speak first. Hermione awkwardly tells the group that they need to take their Defense Against the Dark Arts education into their own hands, both to pass their O.W.L.s and because Voldemort is back. Zacharias Smith, a Hufflepuff Quidditch player, asks Hermione for proof, and Harry realizes what everyone wants: to hear what he has to say about Voldemort. He tells Zacharias that he saw Voldemort but won't waste time convincing anyone or talking about Cedric's murder. A girl named Susan Bones asks Harry if he can conjure a Patronus, and others ask Harry about other skills he has. Harry tries to brush them off, but Hermione brings things back to order.
Harry's coldness with Zacharias shows that Harry doesn't necessarily see those in other Houses as friends or allies. This goes back to the Sorting Hat's suggestion that sorting students doesn't do them any favors. The fact that even Harry, the hero of the novel, looks at other Houses with suspicion shows that even the "good guys" don’t think of Hogwarts as a unified whole, thanks to the way the school is set up.
Ernie MacMillan suggests that this is the most important thing for them to do right now, and Hermione shares that Umbridge thinks that Dumbledore is trying to mobilize an army of students. Luna says that Fudge has his own private army of heliopaths, but Hermione snaps that heliopaths aren't real. The students discuss when and how often they should meet, but decide to figure out where to meet later. Taking a deep breath, Hermione suggests they sign their names and agree to not tell Umbridge about what they're doing. Ernie and Zacharias seem concerned, but everyone signs.
By asking everyone to sign their names and keep the meeting a secret, Hermione ensures that their group will function much like the Order of the Phoenix does: secretly, but pulling from people in society to form it. The fact that Hermione is choosing to model this group on the Order of the Phoenix shows what she learned from living at Grimmauld Place over the summer. Now, she's able to put her knowledge to work.
As the trio leaves, Ron spits that Zacharias is a jerk. Hermione says that it's better to have more people, and mentions that Michael Corner only came because he's dating Ginny. They enter a quill shop as Ron sputters angrily about learning that Ginny has a boyfriend. Harry realizes that this is why Ginny will talk to him now, as Hermione tells Ron to calm down. She also asks Harry about how things are going with Cho, but Harry ignores her.
Ginny having a boyfriend at all speaks to the fact that all of the characters are beginning to come of age. The fact that she's dating a Ravenclaw also shows that there are people who see individuals in other Houses as worthy of consideration and of interacting with as partners, not adversaries. This suggests that romantic coming of age can potentially help heal divisions in the Houses.