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 Now It’s Getting Serious!, chapter 86

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Anzahl der Beiträge : 46
Anmeldedatum : 25.10.14
Ort : Bodensee

BeitragThema: Now It’s Getting Serious!, chapter 86   Di Okt 30, 2018 8:10 am

Chapter beta: Dani
Chapter translator: Aivy




McGonagall called us into the Great Hall which was now empty without the four House tables. Instead, there were four desks next to each other in neat rows with plenty of space between the seats standing down the hall up to the door.

This alone was exciting for many as it screamed ’exam’.

The mood of the students knew no bounds; the tension was palpable. Finally, the professor asked us in her usual stern way to sit down. I felt, as so often at exams, an exciting tickle of anticipation. No, no fear or nervousness took possession of me, but rather an icy calm, conscious that I wanted to do everything right and perfect. In order to also find fun and enjoyment in the whole thing, I also set myself a time limit, with the goal to make it as fast as possible.

“Please sit down completely randomly. You do not have to sit next to your friends as the parchments are magically protected against cheating!” her hard, magically amplified voice sounded through the hall.

I could see the panic in Ron's eyes and looked at him reassuringly.

“I would like to introduce you all to the Chairman of the Examination Board, Professor Griselda Marchbanks,” she pointed to the ancient woman standing next to her, who, when she spoke, did so very loudly because she was almost deaf because of her age. She had already taken Dumbledore's O.W.L.s a hundred years ago and well, she had the wrinkled look to go with it. The question of whether the magical world didn’t know retirement suggested itself to me.

Now I was curious to see what we had to do.

Charms, one of the basic subjects taught at Hogwarts by little Flitwick, was a challenge for many of us, though it had always been surprisingly easy for me. In this subject, we learned to enchant items or sentient beings with a wand in conjunction with a spell so that they acted differently than usual because here only the behaviour was changed, not the shape.

This art also involved manipulating and erasing desired memories with a spell that was not taught in practise, but as we all know, had been applied by me and successfully, as I remembered pensively and somewhat self-righteously my altercation with the two attackers in the alley and how I victoriously defended myself against them.

In Charms, to get the magical effect you wanted, you needed exactly the right wand movement and you had to be very precise. It was therefore not allowed to swing the wand too violently or too laxly. Do not make the movement too fast or too slow, not too wide but not too short and so on. As I said, that was the art of the whole thing: Sensitivity, tact and an understanding of the magic!

For the normal wizards and witches, it is important to say the spell with the proper intonation and inflexion.

Those like me who had been cramming non-verbal magic like a madman since this year, had to put more power and force into the spells to make them work without words. The more imagination and willpower was required, the harder it became to execute the spell as desired. But for me, the will was the smallest problem. Thus, it wouldn’t even have been necessary for me to verbalise the spell in the practical exam on this day in Charms, however, I treasured my secrets way too much to brag about it.

The practical task was the same for everyone.

We should subject the Nifflers in front of us to a colour change. What colour didn’t matter, they only had to lose the rich black of their coat and I would have managed that without a sound as well. It was ridiculously easy and I made mine a deep purple so you noticed easily that the spell had succeeded. I glanced around and saw how Harry was doing the wrong wand movement. He made a similar move to the growth spell.

A careless mistake. I rolled my eyes over his nervousness because he recognised his mistake shortly thereafter and then corrected himself properly. Keep your cool, Harry, it's not that hard.

It went blow upon blow. Next was Transfiguration which was taught by McGonagall.

Here we learned to enchant the objects or living beings with spell and wand in such a way that they changed their form or their state of being. So you could turn any animal into any object and vice versa. The poor critters!

Here, too, great care had to be taken in the execution of the spell. In this way, it did not differ from Charms.

The theoretical, as well as the practical exam, didn’t cause me any problems, and hence I turned the mouse with a swish of my wand into a beautiful, filigree and lavishly decorated cup.

After that, we had Defense Against the Dark Arts. Really easy. Suddenly a silvery stag galloped across the room and a small, bald-headed examiner named Tofty scribbled happily on his board.

I knew to whom this magnificent Patronus belonged and smiled at how pleased Harry looked!

In this subject, we were taught to defend against dangerous magical threats and attacks. So we should be able to protect ourselves against hinkypunks or vampires, destroy boggarts and learn to resist black magic attacks.

Much to my regret, Dumbledore taught only the defence and not the offence. How should you be able to defend successfully against the Dark Arts if you couldn’t understand them? But enough, otherwise I would just get angry again over the narrow-mindedness of the old professor and I should rather focus on my exam.

My test was a Stupefy, which I demonstrated smoothly. I passed on the chance to imitate Harry. Too many people already knew my otter patronus. In that regard, I was a secret-monger, and I had to laugh inwardly, assuming everyone would lose faith if they knew that the over-zealous miss-know-it-all deliberately held back her knowledge and skills in an exam.

This was followed by Potions, the first subject in which we worked without our wands and put them away. There were many important steps that needed to be taken with the utmost accuracy and attention.

But that's what I loved about this subject, to meticulously pay attention to every detail and so I brewed the Shrinking Potion with relish. It was a joke. But alright, you had to be exact here too. This potion had to make the living being that took it younger and younger and reduce their size and appearance accordingly.

The following ingredients had to be prepared: The daisy root, which I had to grate especially fine, shrivelfig that I had to shred well, cut rat spleen, mince the caterpillars and add only one shot of the leech juice.

Adding all ingredients at the right time, brewing it at the right heat, and accurately carrying out the stirring motions, the potion unfolded its magical effect under my swiftly working hands as it took on the proper colour and consistency.

I was outstandingly successful and I handed in my sample very satisfied with myself. Even Harry didn’t seem to have trouble brewing this time with Snape breathing down his neck.

Care of magical creatures was only tested in theory.

The trivial questions centred on knarls, bowtruckles, the keeping of fire crabs and the explanation of the correct diet for sick unicorns. This was a test I could answer in my sleep. From that point on, I didn’t have to worry about it and was only trying to fight falling asleep.

The Herbology exam was a breeze, only the practical part was a challenge, in my case.

We had to transplant a Fanged Geranium. Exactly my nightmare, because that was the plant that I had so easily killed. But thanks to an unseen non-verbal spell, I put the bloody thing into stasis and worked unimpeded. I know, I cheated but by now I was so bored that I was beyond caring.

Then there was another break and I had to continue alone, too Ancient Runes and Arithmancy.

Ancient Runes at least partially resembled the Muggle runes used since the first century AD. And here my first mistake happened in the whole O.W.L. exams so far.

I mixed up the runes Ehwaz and Eihwaz, which was too annoying. Pride comes before a fall. These two runes were featured in the Futhark row, the first complete transmission of the 3rd-century runic alphabet.

It was too frustrating. I translated the Ehwaz rune as ‘partnership’ because it could mean either horse or marriage. Eihwaz, however, meant yew, especially derived from the world tree Yggdrasil, since here the old Germanic runic alphabet came to fruition where Eihwaz was called Ihwa. It was a mistake because unfortunately this rune was asked for.

I had to quickly regain my equilibrium after this blunder - which I noticed myself after the test by checking in a book and I was terribly annoyed about it.

Next Arithmancy was on the schedule. It was considered one of the most difficult subjects because it was a combination of arithmetic and divination. More my thing than Divination on its own, a class I had farsightedly dropped out of in third grade.

This though was about predictions with the help of numbers. Many numerical tables and combinations of numbers were created and large numbers were calculated. I don’t know, but here I enjoyed predicting the future and working with the mysticism of numbers and did my job with flying colours because here the whole thing was based on logic, not on nebulous delusions!

During this time, Harry and Ron had their exam in Divination. Later, the two told me that they just made something up. Harry said he certainly hadn’t passed. I consoled him by saying that it was all humbug anyway.

After that, everyone was so exhausted that we were lying in the common room like discarded dolls. Unfortunately, we were all unable to go to sleep as we had the next exam at 11 pm. Astronomy was unfortunately taught at night since the stars were, of course, observed by telescopes and we marked their position in maps and that was only possible at night.

Really a mammoth task after such a long, tiring day, although I still felt relatively fit. But then no one else completed such a day's quota of work as I demanded it from myself every day.

So Gryffindor's fifth grade dragged itself onto the Astronomy Tower and stared into the dark night sky so that it would reveal its secrets to us. We scrupulously recorded the planetary constellations as I nudged Harry.

“Look…” I pointed to the Hogwarts grounds below and, despite the darkness, we could watch Umbridge, accompanied by four Aurors, heading for Hagrid’s cabin in the middle of the night.

“There is Dawlish who was also in Dumbledore’s office!” Harry excitedly showed me the man with the crew cut, easy to see thanks to my telescope, adding in a fearful whisper: “What do you think they want from him?”

“No idea. Nothing good,” I replied in a low voice. Already Professors Marchbanks and Tofty, who were also supervising this exam, had noticed us.

“What are you whispering there?” Tofty asked sternly.

I didn’t even get to answer. I pointed with an outstretched finger to the events happening out on the grounds that finally distracted everyone from the test.

Because now it started: The five attackers shot Stunning Spell after Stunning Spell at Hagrid. They attacked him just like that; the glaring and bright lights of the spells that struck Hagrid flashed through the dark night.

However, since Hagrid had giant blood in him, he was quite immune to these spells and they hit him - if at all - ineffectively. Now we could observe how a single person, in whom we recognized Professor McGonagall, was rushing to this event.

As we all looked through our telescopes at the prevailing chaos, we had to watch shocked and helplessly, as four red Stunning Spells hit the old woman in the middle of her chest and immediately knocked her down. All of us, even the examiners, gasped and flinched back, concerned about this public and very brutal violence.

Hagrid’s loud roar could even be heard by us on the highest tower as clear as a bell, whereupon he now threw himself fully into the fray. We all saw through our telescopes how he brutally and ruthlessly knocked three attackers unconscious.

Ouch, they would have to get one or the other broken rib mended, but I didn’t feel sorry for them. Served them right! Then he grabbed the unconscious Fang, threw him over his shoulder and disappeared into the dark forest, leaving everyone behind quite flummoxed.

Harry looked at me with big, terrified eyes.

“Do you think McGonagall is alright?” he asked shakily, the horror shimmering in his dark, green eyes.

“No idea. Four stunners… We will see,” I said with worry. I handed my test in listlessly since I had already been finished before the drama and everyone else followed my lead, even if many, like Harry, hadn’t finished yet. However, everyone just couldn’t be bothered doing that after what they had just experienced. What was a grade against a life? Considering what we had seen, it quickly became apparent that real life played out there, and a mark here or there wasn’t that important.

The topic of conversation, no matter where, was the nightly happenings. It was a restless night for the Tower, as our Head of House was the injured party and so there was much discussion and talk. With the last exam taking place tomorrow, the agitated minds didn’t come to rest.

The next morning, after perhaps three hours of sleep, if at all, Harry appeared completely exhausted. I didn’t like how he looked, battered and as if his mental walls were down. He was very much affected by the experience, and as we sat again in the Great Hall for the History of Magic exam, I threw worried glances at his back repeatedly.

It was an extensive scope of questions and I wrote and wrote as if the devil was after me because the topics were wide-ranging. First, the medieval witch hunt, the revolts of the goblins against the supremacy of wizards, and finally the persecution, forced migration and extermination of the giants were tested.

I was making good progress; I had just finished my last paragraph and wanted to start proofreading everything again when I noticed Harry flinching and shifting restlessly right in front of me and I worriedly put the quill aside!

Shit, that had all been too much for Harry's mind. Suddenly, he cramped and cried out in agony. It was a frightening, painful sound and he clapped his hands over his face and slid off his chair in slow motion, impacting hard with the floor of the Hall. Everyone looked up horrified to see what had happened to cause such a loud cry.

“Harry!” I exclaimed in shock, rushing towards him. The scratching of quills on parchment stopped immediately and uneasy whispering and rustling began.

“Make way! What does he have? You cannot interrupt the exam, Miss Granger!” Umbridge shouted at me while I hid Harry's head anxiously in my lap. Fuck, that had certainly been a vision again, but worse and more intense than the last few times.

“I’m finished, Professor, as is Harry. I’ll bring him to the infirmary!” I hissed at her with suppressed rage, but waiting, too. Everyone else sat there like bumps on a log and stared at the scene presented to them. Only Draco showed me a flare in his eyes and I returned his intense gaze anxiously, stroking Harry's red hot scar.

“Do that, my dear. The boy isn’t even there!” Professor Marchbanks took the lead and ignored Umbridge's artificial and annoying throat-clearing.

“Hem hem,” it also accompanied me as I got up and levitated the unconscious Harry in front of me out of the room, feeling once again all eyes on us and also some vicious whispering that Harry once again needed special treatment.

In the next empty classroom, I let Harry float onto a table and tried a Reviving Spell to wake him up again and it actually worked. Harry moaned and whimpered and immediately pressed a hand to his scar.

“Harry, what happened? Did you forget your mental shields?” I asked in agitation but worried nonetheless.

“Hermione, Hermione, ahhh… Does that hurt. My head is bursting!” he held his head in agony, his face twisted into a painful grimace.

“Here, take that,” I held the vial of Headache Reliever to his mouth and he swallowed obediently. I tried to calm him gently so that he would become master of his senses again. “Steady, shhh, calm down! What happened? Tell me, if you can.”

“Oh god… I fell asleep... All those exams, the stress! ... I nodded off over the test and then... then I was in a black tiled room that was filled with narrow shelves all over and there were small transparent orbs ... Sirius lay on the ground, writhing in pain and Voldemort stood over him and tortured him; it looked awful... He said he wants to kill Sirius! The scar burns like hell!” He pressed his fist roughly to his forehead as if he wanted to fight pain with pain.

After he had finished his story, I stood contemplating in front of Harry, who was still lying on the tabletop, and deliberately pushed my lower lip forward.

“I am sorry that I lowered my walls!” he apologised breathlessly and got up shakily, now sitting sweaty on the table and burying his head in his hands.

“Better again? Well, after the stress and the mental strain and the less than restful night, it is understandable. You're still not good enough to withstand anything and keep your mind constantly closed. That comes with time, we just have to keep working!” I said for the sake of saying something.

“Hermione, why are we reacting so calm, so…? Well, I mean, you believe as well that Sirius is alright, don’t you?” he asked very insecurely, blinking uneasily at me.

“Mh-mh. You never know. But yes, I think it is a trap of the Dark Lord, yes!” I agreed with a nod, glad that Harry hadn’t immediately dashed off headlessly.

“What should we do? I'd like to check if Sirius is home!” Harry admitted with concern and looked steadfastly into my eyes.

“I’m rather positively surprised that you are not running all over the place like a headless chicken and are actually thinking about it first!” I rubbed my face, voicing my thoughts.

“Alas, you are rubbing off on me. And if he has Sirius, the few minutes to give it some thought won’t make a difference.” He grimaced painfully.

“Was it that bad what you saw?” I enquired softly. He only nodded and looked at me unhappily and very anxiously. He tried to act deliberately, but was on the verge of a panic attack, as you could glean from his frightened expression. “But well, what do we want to do? Ask the members of the Order?”

“Um. Should we go to McGonagall?” Harry asked and I nodded and helped him to his feet.

“Alright?” I wanted to know and supported him.

“Thanks to you and the potion, yes, it has to be. Come quickly!” Thanks to our daily joint training, we ran through the school corridors, dodging the swamps skilfully via the secret passages and arriving noisily in the hospital wing.

“What kind of noise are you making, Mr Potter, Miss Granger?” The school medi-witch, Madame Pomfrey, gave us an indignant look and frowned at us from under her white, pleated bonnet that was hiding her snow-white hair.

“Professor… we need to get to Professor McGonagall. It’s very important,” it bubbled out of me breathlessly.

“Always nice and slow, Miss Granger! Professor McGonagall is no longer here, she had to be transferred to St. Mungo's. Unfortunately, she is no longer the youngest, but she will be back, they can just help her better,” said the old lady amicably and seemed touched.

“Oh, oh, if that's so, thank you!” Immediately, we left a surprised Pomfrey standing, who gasped outraged by our rudeness and scolded us for so much impoliteness. Harry and I didn’t pay attention to it and just moved on quickly. That was too stupid. What now?

“We could go to Snape, Harry,” I suggested, even though it was not my dream to meet him again from eye to eye so soon.

“Yes, I know. But - not that I want to accuse him of anything - but I think the longer I ponder the idea that they wouldn’t tell us the truth anyway. You know, kinda: ‘He's fine! Don’t worry,’ even if my vision was true, which I don’t believe!” Harry made a crystal-clear observation that showed how much his confidence in the Order was already shaken.

“Yes… You could be right. I wouldn’t put it past the Order members to do that to protect you. But what do you want to do then? The only other adult we know is Hagrid and he fled! And I don’t think the vision is real, too. I mean, it's rush hour in the Ministry; the activities of the Dark Lord fall more into night time!” Harry nodded at my argument.

“You know I broke into Umbridge's office…” Harry blinked at me.

“You want to use her fireplace again?” I asked sufferingly and he nodded.

“Well, let's try it. What do we have to lose?” I decided and Harry shrugged.

“Thanks! Come quickly!” he said and we rushed again when we met a worried-looking at the end of the hallway.

“There you are! Harry, mate, what was wrong? Are you alright?” He rattled off his questions anxiously. We waved away his concern.

“Not now, Ron! We need to check if Sirius is in the hands of Voldemort. For that, we have to get into the bitch’s office. Can you distract her?” Harry enquired quickly and clipped.

“What should I tell her?” Ron wondered, willing to help, and seemed to be feverishly thinking before he offered: “I could say that Peeves is devastating the Transfiguration classroom!”

“Why would you say something like that, Ron?” Ginny asked suddenly, rounding the corner together with Luna. Both girls stared at the three of us with curiosity.

“Ginny!” Harry shouted and she looked at him bewildered as his voice had sounded so delighted. “Would you like to help us? We have to get into the toad’s office. You could stand sentry, making sure nobody comes and disturbs us.”

“Sure… Why?”

“What happened?”

“If you need us.” They offered dumbfounded but without hesitation.

“Later,” I interjected and got a glare from Ginny when we disregarded her question. “Let us know someone is coming by making noise!”

No sooner said than done. Harry was in a hurry and I ran alongside him. As soon as we closed the classroom door, I dissolved the wards on the office door excitedly with my wand, non-verbally. When Harry put his hand out for the latch, I stopped him, my left hand determinedly closing around his, and showed him with a disapproving shake of the head that he should wait. He stared at me, surprised.

“What?” he asked, bemused.

“Sshh, not now!” I just broke the black and last spell, very practised by now. Hence, I squeezed his hand down the latch and entered the tasteless little girl's office with him.

Harry swallowed down his questions and sprinted to the fireplace. Without hesitation, he threw in the floo powder he had taken from the ledge, dropped to his knees, and thrust his head into the green flames of the blazing hearth.

I was restless. What would be the outcome? I had an uneasy feeling and I had learned to rely on my instincts so I raised my staff and did several detection spells.

I stopped. There were still no additional spells on the desk I had searched, but there was one on the fireplace now! That one was new.

On Harry's last visit, he must have changed something by the fireplace, prompting her to lay a ward on it that would alert her if it got used. Shit, we had to get out of here; we were caught. I was just about to grab for Harry when the door was torn open already.

The Inquisitorial Squad around Draco appeared and led or rather shoved Ron, Ginny and Luna inside and I froze and wanted to fight back when Crabbe came close and tried to grab me.

“Leave the Mudblood to me!” Draco snarled coldly. A certain shake of his head stopped my immediate attempts, but I thought I saw a flash of worry in his eyes. I did as he asked me to and kept still as he took my school wand and then he suddenly grabbed me roughly and wrapped his arms around my body. I would say, he positively enjoyed being so close to me. Each of us was now held by a Slytherin.

Harry still had his butt in the air while his head was stuck into the fireplace and not aware of our little drama.

Neville was also pushed through the door at last, which made me look surprised. He hadn’t been involved so far, right?

I was still annoyed that I hadn’t checked the fireplace. Then, the toad entered her office with a satisfied and triumphant smile, grabbed Harry's shoulder roughly and pulled him back into the office.

He looked up slightly perplexed from his kneeling position, his gaze travelling around the room, until he realised that we had all been caught and his eyes narrowed angrily while he pressed his lips together moodily.

“Well, well, well. You came into my office, Mr Potter, to use my fireplace... Who did you contact?” she purred sweetly at him and chuckled horribly at the end. She clapped her hands and her cheeks flushed excitedly.

“I won’t tell you anything!” Harry, still kneeling, crossed his arms aggressively and dismissively in front of his chest and his facial expression showed his stubbornness.

“Mr Crabbe, go and fetch Professor Snape!” she ordered with a velvet voice. At these words, I tensed as well as Harry did, while Draco kept me in his arms and I could feel his breath on my hair. What should we do?

Only a short time later, the door opened and a visibly ill-tempered professor stormed the office, who didn’t show his astonishment to see us all here and find Umbridge office crowded like this. Amazing how much Snape was always in control, since the sight of six Gryffindors, all kept in the Slytherins strong holds in the small circular room, had to catch him unprepared.

But, as always, he showed us his stiff, cold mask and snarled impatiently at the toad:

“You wish?” He looked frostily at Umbridge, who was still leaning over the kneeling Harry.

“Ah, Professor Snape. Lovely that you could come so fast! I need another vial of Veritaserum,” she extended her toad fingers towards Snape.

“I just recently gave you the last available serum. My supply of this potion is not unlimited as it is usually never needed here. I can offer to make more; it will be ready in four weeks!” The reply came from him in the best cutting manner. He was great. He liked the old witch as much as I did, even if he seemed very helpful.

“Four weeks!” Umbridge shouted indignantly at once and her face got red spots which didn’t go well with her pink dress.

“I'm sorry, this potion in particular needs to heed many phases of the moon, Madame!” He shrugged his shoulders indifferently and asked in his usual could manner: “Was that all?” After Umbridge gave him a tight nod, he turned around as Harry suddenly shouted:

“He’s got Padfoot at the place where IT is hidden!”

Snape turned in slow motion and looked at him emotionlessly, while Umbridge watched everything excitedly.

“What does he mean?” she asked excitedly, and Snape didn’t show the slightest bit, not even if he understood the message. But well, I understood him. If he did, he'd have to answer Umbridge's questions.

“I have no idea! I have absolutely no idea what kind of nonsense this brat is spouting! I’ll take my leave,” he declared stroppily, slamming the door behind him. Harry's shoulders sagged forward. It seemed his conversation hadn’t gone well, so no Sirius! But what had Harry expected? That Snape would make it clear that he understood him?

When the door slammed shut, Umbridge said:

“Tsk tsk… Too bad, Potter. But well, for the good of the Ministry, I need the information and that means every means should be allowed, right?” She addressed the Squad, looking for confirmation, and the Slytherins nodded obediently.

“Of course, Madam,” Pansy Parkinson squeaked. Groaning, I leaned heavily against Draco, who was hugging me as if he wanted to protect me rather than hurt me.

“I mean, it is against the law, however, what Cornelius doesn’t know won’t hurt him. The dementor attack I ordered did please him, after all!” When she announced this dreamily, babbling away like a madman, I opened my eyes wide in horror. That lunatic had set the dementors on Harry? She had risked his life, the loss of his soul, and that made me so angry that I thought I would burst the next moment. It started to boil in me and my decision fell in that second. That woman was evil!

“Now, last chance, Potter. Tell me or I’ll have to torture you!” A crazy, eager glow came to her eyes.

“Don’t hold your breath!” Harry replied hotly, all tough and stubborn. But given that he knew first-hand how the Cruciatus worked, I could even believe that it was a cold-blooded decision on his side to behave that way.

Then I felt Draco's warm breath on my ear and heard his urgent whisper:

“Do something!”

He sounded distinctly angry. It didn’t seem to be to his liking that he wasn’t in control of the situation - that’s what I thought - and he seemed worried that if Harry didn’t talk, then sooner or later I would be next. And Draco certainly disliked that scenario. Now it was time to start the show. I screamed in panic

“Harry, please, you have to tell her!” I shrieked and fought dramatically against Draco's not-so-firm grip. Harry looked at me as if I had lost my marbles, shaking his head in shock at my performance, and shouted:

“Hermione, are you crazy? I won’t tell her anything!” Harry jumped to his feet.

“Harry, tell her!” I insisted, sniffling.

“Grab him, Zabini!” The madwoman shrieked and Blaise grabbed Harry and forced him to calm. Umbridge hissed, “Shut up, Potter!”

I sniffed, the tears streaming down my face, and I looked around the room with a panicked expression. The Gryffindors and Luna stared at me in horror, and the Slytherins, except for Blaise, measured me with a heretically satisfied look.

“Please, please, don’t hurt Harry! I’ll tell you everything, everything you want! Just don’t hurt him!” I sobbed theatrically and tried to free my arms. My mind rattled, trying to figure out how to get us out of here. I had to get away from so many witnesses. I had my white wand and my daggers too, and my pure, well-trained physical strength would be enough to disable Umbridge.

“Hermione, no!” Harry protested worriedly, not understanding what I wanted from him, and Umbridge hit him with a Silencio, which made him glare angrily at her and me. Perfect. Harry, keep it up; if you doubt me like that, she'll think even more that I'm telling her the truth. On the inside, I was grinning very nastily. Everything was going very well.

“He… he tried to… contact… Dumbledore… We…!” I stuttered, sobbing frantically and saw Harry give up struggling when he heard that I was lying. Don’t, you idiot, I thought annoyed and looked at him venomously! And he actually turned on his brain and understood, raging on. Well, at least he had understood the hint.

Umbridge, on the other hand, looked like it was Christmas and she had just gotten a lot of pink gifts with ornate, magenta ribbons. I'd now rub them into her toad face.

“Yes! Where is he?” she pushed excitedly and turned to me eagerly.

“I… No idea. We should contact him when IT was done and you prevented that!” I sniffed less than ladylike, but with outstanding acting.

“What is IT?” she snapped, piqued, wringing her thick sausage-like fingers.

“A weapon that we should forge,” I breathed bashfully and lowered my eyes. Harry, however, was learning to play drama in a crash course. He even rolled his eyes so that only the whites were visible and didn’t make it easy for Blaise to hold onto him.

“Weapon? What kind of weapon? Where?” Umbridge asked with increasing excitement. She was as stupid as they come, I thought contemptuously. Ron’s eyes were trying to pop out of his head and Ginny, Luna and Neville looked completely overwhelmed. I felt Draco slowly relax behind me. He certainly recognised my trick and that I was acting. I sniffed again and then desperately shook my head and looked up at her in disbelief.

“You don’t want me to say that in front of everyone, do you? It is too powerful! Everyone wants it!” I whispered fervently, unobtrusively rubbing my butt against Draco, hoping he understood how he should react.

I, on the other hand, saw Umbridge's little eyes flickering at Draco's face and I hoped he showed something like greed in his eyes for once, and, going by the way she twitched, my dear Draco had expressed his feelings to my utter satisfaction.

“Where is the weapon?” she barked at me sharply.

“Outside of the school. It would be much too dangerous to keep it here.” I writhed as if in agony at the confession.

“Mh-hm-mh,” she tripped her feet restlessly, holding her chin deliberately. Then she made a decision. “You two will come with me and show me the hiding place and if you don’t do as you are told, I'll torture Potter here. Understood?” she hissed at me and I jumped as if scared. Understood, you toad, you just fell into my trap. Amateur, I thought sardonically. You won’t like the surprise, not at all.

“Inquisitorial Squad, you guard the prisoners. But you, Mr Malfoy, will go to Professor Snape and inform him that I am ordering two Aurors of the Ministry here to confiscate the weapon!” she delegated gravely and business-like.

“Of course, Professor Umbridge. Might I take Mr Zabini with me?” Draco asked with the expert snarkiness that he had learned from his uncle.

“As you want. One guard per person should be enough. Now come!” The small, stupid woman barged out of the office, impatiently ordering: “Go ahead, Granger. Hurry up!”

Draco released me and she aimed her wand threateningly at Harry because she thought she could control me through him. For what I planned, I needed seclusion and where would that be more complete than in the Forbidden Forest?

I headed for the grounds, followed by the other two and strode purposefully onwards. I knew Harry had no idea what I was planning. On and on, I went deep into the forest, along the rough, arduous path that Hagrid had taken with us, hoping he would slowly understand where I was leading us.

“Where is this weapon now?” she barked at me impatiently after a while.

“Just around the corner!” I pointed to a dark spot. Soon you are done for, I thought coldly and absolutely determined.

I hoped we wouldn’t encounter the centaurs. Unobtrusively, I pulled my white wand out of my holster and spoke a non-verbal spell on the roots of a tree I had just passed. It came - as I had wished - to life and attacked Harry, who followed directly after me, assaulting him with its long roots.

He screamed in shock as the roots grabbed him and brought him down. Only you couldn’t hear it for he was still silenced. Meanwhile, I took advantage of Umbridge's surprise over Harry's fall and slid right into the darkness, becoming one with it and quickly circling the big tree to stand in her back. This had happened so fast, within a few seconds, that she hadn’t noticed where I was. Thus, I silently walked up to her as she watched Harry fighting hard with the root. However, the root wouldn’t kill him, just keep him in place.

As if to confirm my bad impression of her, she did nothing, neither did she help Harry nor did she do anything except stand there stupidly. So I slid close to her in her back and roughly rammed my wand into her plump neck and immediately heard her screaming.

“Ahhhhh, who is there?!” She wanted to turn around but I had my arm around her upper body. Before that, I had knocked the wand out of her limp fingers with a hard slap of the edge of my hand. It was just falling unspectacularly to the ground and she whimpered helplessly and screamed in outrage. Annoyed, I quickly cast a Silencing Spell on her.

“Who else would be here? Come along!” I breathed silkily and felt her tense when she identified me in her back. Harry moaned weakly and called softly for me. After disarming her, her spells had also been broken and thus his voice had been given back to him.

Quickly, I pulled her away from Harry and she stumbled awkwardly with me. As soon as we were out of his sight, it was time. I whirled around and slammed her with force against a tree. She collided forcefully and unrestrained with it, causing her head to connect with a thud.

Ooh, headache, I thought pitilessly. Well, it wouldn’t be for long! A nasty grin graced my expression.

Now, when she opened her eyes wide after slowly taking in my presence in front of her, my eyes narrowed maliciously.

“If you don’t scream, I’ll take the spell off of you!” I promised and a swipe later she actually had her voice back.

“How dare you, dirty little Mudblood, raising your wand against me and attacking me, a high-ranking employee of the Ministry!” she snarled at me venomously and condescendingly, infusing every word with her contempt for me.

“Well, how do I dare? … Simple, I just do. And I can!” I sneered and showed her my wand.

“What about the weapon?” She didn’t give up her arrogant manner and glared at me. I rolled her eyes in front of her.

“What weapon? You are just too stupid, my dear!” I spat at her feet with disdain.

“As soon as we are back, Azkaban awaits you, you inferior Mudblood!” she flung at me haughtily and hatefully, glaring at me, her face twisting into a furious grimace.

“You flatter me. You're right though, I actually I belong there and when the two of us are through, I’ll do even more!” I promised softly, my eyes narrowing threateningly and I knew, I meant that deadly seriously. Only she looked at me rather contemptuously and snorted derogatorily, not believing a word I said!

“You are threatening me!” she replied indignantly. “Child, you’ll have to get up earlier for that. You can’t do anything to me! Fudge is a close friend of mine... you, on the other hand, are nothing!” The spiteful words dripped contemptuously from her malicious tongue. I really wanted to show her right then that in name only I was more than she would ever be.

“That's what you think; All right, but in a few minutes you'll think differently. Do the names Bole and Derrick mean something to you?” I could watch as she thought hard and then connected the names with the deed. The recalled memory reflected in her eyes while her pupils widened significantly.

“Oh, I see, you know what happened to them. I'll tell you a secret, Dolores, I happened to them!” I whispered softly, which gave the whole an eerie aspect and was allowed to witness something like fear entering her expression after this revelation.

“What? You? You did that? You belong in prison!” she shrieked immediately and I rolled my eyes. Hadn’t I just said that myself earlier? Dumb, stupid toad.

“Didn’t you listen to me? But don’t worry, that won’t be necessary from now on anyway. You've been holding me up too long, I have to get back to Harry!” I stared coldly and murderously determined at her.

“What are you up to?” she croaked now fearfully, backing away before my look, but unfortunately that was not possible because the trunk was in her way.

“Say your goodbye!” I shot her a mild smile. This would be a first.

I gathered my anger and my icy will and said resolutely:

“Avada Kedavra!”

She tore open her eyes that reflected pure terror in fear and disbelief that it was over and screamed desperately. Then she was hit by the cold, green beam of light in the middle of her chest. The spark of life in her eyes extinguished and her evil spirit broke away from her body, which then sagged seamlessly to the ground, limp and powerless.
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