Chapter beta: Dani. What would I do without you?
Chapter translator: Aivy
When Harry and I entered the Great Hall, it suddenly became quieter as the entire Gryffindor table fell silent, which usually contributed greatly to the overall volume in the Hall. If a table, especially our table, went completely silent, well, then it became quite quiet in the Great Hall.
We attracted everyone's attention. More and more heads went up in the air because of this unusualness. Above all, Harry and I were aware of the lion's dissecting gazes. Suddenly, to my surprise, which I knew how to hide through a blank mask, Harry put an arm around my waist, hugged me tightly and pulled me close. I looked at his so close face and he whispered:
And suddenly he bridged the short distance between our lips, put his mouth to my lips and kissed me. This action silenced the Hall completely. Only the clank of falling cutlery, the startled breaths and a few shocked shouts were still ringing as Harry kissed me like this at the entrance to the Great Hall in front of the whole school.
Okay, I didn't do anything. I didn't really return that kiss that made me feel nothing, but neither was I pushing him away as he intensified his efforts. I tilted my head slightly to make it easier for him since I already knew what he wanted to achieve: that everyone thought we were having our fun yesterday when we didn't return to our common room. And for Snape's sake and for Harry's sake, I would do anything to make the story believable and to avoid probing questions. Let the students think what they wanted to think. Draco was something different. His fury would be terrible to behold.
Now Harry broke away and put his forehead against mine, whispering apologetically with a visibly bad conscience: "Thanks for playing along. It was a spontaneous idea. Sorry, that came to me when they all stared like that!"
"I thought so," I admitted and was not feeling any anger towards him. Then, with a laugh, I broke away from him, resolutely taking his hand in mine, and pulled him to the table where Fred and George made space for us while Ron stared as if he had seen a ghost.
"Hey man, mate. Congrats! You caught a real hottie there!" he was praised, while Fred clapped his back proudly. George looked at me with a raised, questioning eyebrow and I shook my head slightly and he exhaled with relief, then grinned openly and cheekily to Draco and shook his head. I had watched this communication and made out Draco's cold and rigid mask and now looked at him slightly apologetically, which made his elegantly curved eyebrow rise in reproach. However, he had understood George's message and mine, and had noticed the strange behaviour of the Gryffindors and was now calmer, sitting back a bit more relaxed.
"Uhm, thanks, Fred!" the answer came timidly from Harry and he ruffled through his dishevelled hair.
"Since when?!" Ron voice was unnaturally high and cracking. "Since when, Harry?!" The question got more insistent and Ron's head increasingly red. Ginny had jumped up from her place further down the table, looking frantic, and was hurrying towards us with a deep blush on her cheeks.
"Hermione, what are you thinking throwing yourself at Harry? You know Ron's got a crush on you!" she exclaimed indignantly and loudly in the still very quiet Hall. "And Harry, I ... I thought you didn't see anything special in Hermione!" Her shrieking, agitated voice echoed from the high walls of the Great Hall. It was always nice when we were able to contribute to the excitement and entertainment at Hogwarts. Our relationship drama took place before the eyes of the whole student body, wonderful.
"Ginny, please stop screaming!" Harry requested resignedly and looked up, annoyed.
"No, Harry, I'm interested as well. Constantly you talk about Hermione being like a sister to you and now that… I even let her into your bed, supported you with that and everything!" Ron declared loudly and with outrage. Many sucked in air at the last part and started to whisper again. It left me cold and I looked around with my head raised high. If they thought I was a slut - well, I wouldn't tell them how right they were with that assessment.
"Would you stop it, Ronald? This is nobody's business but our own!" I fixed my hard gaze on Ron with an angry spark in my eyes.
"Tut! Afraid to tarnish your reputation as a goody two shoes, Hermione?" Ginny asked sarcastically. She glared at me fiercely, her red, long hair wafting around her upset head. I ventured a look at the Slytherin table and noticed that everyone was watching us with great excitement. Draco, too, but now he had a more amused expression on his face. George's open negation seemed to have reassured him completely.
At Ginny's maliciousness, Harry slammed his flat hand on the table and made all the low whispering and chattering stop abruptly.
"Ginny, stop insulting Hermione right now! What's the issue? I don't understand your problem. Are you upset about Ron? I think I can sort that out with him! Are you upset that I kissed Hermione? I'm sorry to draw your attention to it, but that's none of your business! It's my private life and besides ... you have a boyfriend!" he pointed out very sharply, looking pretty pissed.
"No more…! Harry, Michael and I broke up, you must have heard that!" Ginny yelled agitatedly, visibly upset that Harry seemingly hadn't noticed, wringing her hands. Everyone watched the drama very closely so as not to miss anything, even the two teachers who were still there because all the others had already finished their breakfast.
"Why?" Simply this one irritated word, spoken so curtly, so disinterested, could destroy a girl. I heard a dry, heartless laugh and knew without looking that it had been Draco and when I looked, I saw his amusement. He liked how Harry had just revealed his disinterest to Ginny. I think if it were not Harry, he would have even lowered himself and applauded him.
"Because I've seen your looks, Harry!" she said very confidently and I grabbed the drink served to me by Fred and wished for something stronger even at this early hour. The drama was unbearable. I was ashamed of Ginny. It was a wonder that she wasn't even slightly embarrassed, to say the least.
"Ginny, I don't know what looks you saw, but there was nothing… no looks, no nothing!" Harry stated seriously, shaking his head apologetically.
"Maybe that comes from your glasses, Harry, the sealing," Fred was laughing tears. They, the Twins, could be so mean to their siblings and reaped uncomprehending glances by some lions over Fred's vicious amusement about the tragic fate of his sister being publicly brushed off.
"Very funny, you jokester! Ginny, if I've given you false hopes by 'looks', I apologise!" That was Harry! Always so honourable.
"Yes, but what about Ron?" Ginny stammered in a flat voice. She made a completely stunned face but wasn't ready to give up. "... everyone knows that he and Hermione belong together!" I thought I had misheard and here my control over my facial features actually slipped. I looked up, shocked. The Twins nearly succumbed to a heart condition, they laughed so hard, and that laughter echoed all the louder, dirtier, and more devilishly from the ceiling for being the only sound in the room. Even the snakes struggled to maintain the expressionless masks.
Ron and I? Could there be something more distasteful?
"Please, come on! Which planet do you come from? The idiot who's almost a squib and a blood traitor too? I have almost more respect for the Mudblood! The two are as much a mismatch as you and Potter!" Draco had now raised his sardonic voice, which sounded even more viciously in the quiet environment, as he announced his mockery of Ginny to the Great Hall. His possessiveness must have taken over after all and his sparkling grey eyes were fixed on me.
"Ginny, you can't force feelings!" Harry ignored Draco's throw-in expertly and looked at Ginny very intensively now, taking her hand into his own, wanting to appease her.
"Harry, don't you want to rebuke Malfoy?" Ron interrupted Harry brusquely and was visibly upset.
"Um, why?" Harry stared at Ron in bewilderment, released Ginny's hand, and turned back to Ron.
"Because of what he said!" Ron blared now and almost jumped off the bench in his anger. "First of all, that Hermione and I don't fit together and then he insulted us! He called her that name again …" The tension in the hall was almost palpable. It was worth seeing the best friends arguing like that.
"Ron… First, I agree with him. I'm sorry to tell you that, but I think you and Hermione have never been a good match…" His proclamation led to a collective gasp and Draco, too, looked puzzled for a moment. "...and now don't start screaming! You hate books, she loves books. She loves learning, you hate learning. You love Quidditch, she hates Quidditch and flying. Now tell me, what are your similarities?" Harry said harshly and provocatively, making Ron speechless, who looked at him dumbfounded with his mouth open. "...And his insults? I don't even hear them anymore. What did the potty mouth say this time?" he asked visibly irritated, making clear that he had ignored the 'Mudblood', as I had been doing for years. Since Ron was only staring at Harry with his mouth wide open and his expression shocked, I was so free to interject.
"He called Ron an idiot and a squib and me a Mudblood!" I listed dutifully and earned startled looks when I spoke the swear word so casually. Many had breathed in sharply. Please, the gasping in perpetuity annoyed me. Were they all affected with asthma all of a sudden?
"Aha, Ron ... So you're certainly not an idiot. You are very smart, you beat me in chess every time! You're a wizard who successfully performs a lot of spells, remember the terrier…? So you're not a squib! What should I say to Malfoy now? Bad, bad Slytherin? You insulted Ron, stop it? He wouldn't do that, he is too stubborn for that!" Harry responded to Ron. Draco still seemed to be having a great time. "...And regarding Hermione. Well, she is a Mudblood!" Collective shocked inhaling and gasping set in. Many seemed downright outraged. But I only nodded. "She has long since resigned herself to him calling her that and is ignoring it. I would not do her any favour by reacting to Malfoy's spitefulness and escalating it further. That would be a battle fought on Hermione's back!" Man, I got scared. Harry was developing fast, I liked that. "If his insults bounce off her, then it should bounce off me all the more, and I should take an example of her behaviour, standing above it!"
Ron said nothing in reaction to that, but he didn't seem hungry anymore and I drank greedily again while George whispered to me:
"You should take care of your blondie! You should have seen his face when you pulled off this show with Harry. By the way, quite credible, that. Only our poor little brother still has to get over your loss!" He chuckled viciously.
"Oh, George, don't say that. He should be happy that he doesn't have to put up with our most beautiful here. I think she would have flattened him in a day. Although I don't like to admit it, she needs a different caliber! Maybe she should put us on the shortlist after all," Fred shook his head sympathetically as his sarcasm got the better of him.
"I don't know how to tell you guys, but I don't fancy redheads. It has never been an option!" I declared nastily and not the least bit cattily to the Twins who stared at me in indignation in return.
"Ahh, you know how to tear a man's heart out!" Fred shouted theatrically, then mimed dramatically ripping his heart out of his chest, and sobbed. "That was really not nice, bear in mind that we are redheaded!"
"I think that's why she rubbed it in. Man, that hurts, that was not nice!" George complained while giving me a piteous look.
"Who said that I'm nice?" I asked pragmatically, shaking my head over the two morons.
"Ouch! You're in a good mood today, just like Harry. Didn't you have a pleasant night? Oh, look, the white one is leaving. So, go make an exit, beautiful!" He slapped my thigh to punctuate his prompt and grinned wickedly.
"Harry, I'll go already. Will you get our stuff from the Tower?"
"Yes, sure, will do… Ron, do you want to accompany me? I think the two of us should talk in private... " he asked, turning to his speechless best friend, who looked deeply hurt.
I hurried out of the Great Hall, making sure no one pursued me, and scurried back into the darkness of the dungeons.
"Draco!" I jumped into the dark corner and embraced him passionately. He closed his arms possessively around me, hugged me close, buried his face in my hair and I pressed mine to his strong chest.
"Are you going to tell me why the lions made such a fuss and you felt the need to pull off a show like that? Now I can't even kiss you because those adorable lips stuck to Potter's ugly dinghies!" he replied with disgust, lifting my chin to look down at me reproachfully.
"I'd much rather hear whether the show was good and then whether it was believable!" I smiled cheekily.
"Mh-hm, both! Even though I would like to punch my fist into his face. However, if you had to be credible, it was enough. None of them knows how passionate you really are, because under these aspects nobody who really knows you would buy it," he explained and - aha! - I understood, apparently, I was more active on a normal day. I had to smile about it. "So, what was the occasion for this unworthy drama?"
"Yesterday we had bad trouble in the common room. There were problems between Harry and Snape! He fetched me and the way that happened didn't please the Lions!" I explained in a roundabout way.
"Oh, when do the two of them don't have 'problems'?" Draco groaned sufferingly. "But why are the Gryffindors acting so strange. I don't understand."
"Yesss. That sums up quite well what's going on between Harry and Snape, but unfortunately, the professor has requested my silence. However, the whole thing was so volatile that Harry fetched me from the common room and, well, the Gryffindors are crossed with us both because of attention-whoring and the like. Since Harry doesn't even want to tell Ron about Snape - and can't - he had that idea of avoiding stupid questions by pretending that we had been together overnight - which we were not - and he wanted to solidify that impression with the performance earlier!" I justified our action, while Draco listened to me without interrupting me.
"Clever, very Slytherin of him, not facing the griping of your House. Now they are so distracted - it is much more interesting - that they forget your behaviour yesterday. I wouldn't have thought him capable of so much cunning!" Draco was really impressed.
"You won't pester me about Snape?" I asked in disbelief.
"No, better not. I think Severus probably said something like, 'My godson does not have to know everything' and if he did... if he doesn't want me to know, it shouldn't concern me! Hence I accept his decision!" He rolled his eyes and kissed my brow. "And how was Potter's kiss?"
"Not at all. I didn't feel anything and we just put our lips together so nothing dramatic!" I shrugged and wrapped my arms around Draco's hip.
"Just make sure he doesn't change his mind someday because one thing should be clear: I may be ready to overlook him, but I won't accept it should he forget himself and cross certain boundaries!" he threatened a little bit dangerously. I found him too cute.
"No, no worries. I will give him no reason to want to cross those boundaries! I promise… That reminds me that Easter is in a week. Are you going to leave Hogwarts?"
"If I do, then on short notice! ...But so I'm wondering what's going on with Potter, considering how he just acted in the hall. This is not the same guy who until recently has stumbled around like a blind donkey. And I'm not talking about the kiss! Mind you, it was the first time I ever saw Potter exchange a kiss with a girl. His behaviour towards the weasels was... harsh. The tiny redhead seemed to be quite persistent, but that he also gave his bosom friend a piece of his mind... Marvellous, I haven't enjoyed myself so much for a long time!" He smirked diabolically. When the ringing of the bell sounded through the school corridors, he pulled me close again and kissed my forehead very lovingly and I moaned in response.
"Yes, I have to say that was something to behold. Harry is growing up, Draco! But come, we have to go. We have Umbridge next!" I said quickly and we started on our way. We parted before we reached the classroom.
Guesses and rumours whirred through the castle, almost shaking the school. Harry and Hermione, the friends who became a couple, that was the dominant theme. Only a minor matter managed to find mention as well. At least Harry found it much more interesting than us and our nonbeing. Today he had had his very first lesson with Firenze, the centaur.
He and Ron were very excited, although Ron showed some distance, especially towards me. The male friendship seemed to be stronger after all. Apparently, talking things out between the two of them had been enough to make them make up again, but alright, it should suit me for Harry's sake.
All eyes were fixed on us, but we ignored them skillfully and so I listened intently to what they had to tell.
So both of them told me that Firenze had been viciously expelled from his herd when it became known that he had talked to Dumbledore and considered taking over the Divination class. He took advantage of this opportunity, as he had almost no other option left and he would otherwise have to survive alone in the forest, which would have been an impossibility considering the dangers lurking there. Especially for him, Dumbledore had made a huge classroom on the ground floor that looked like a forest clearing, with a meadow and trees and all the trimmings. The lessons took place on the floor at the hooves of the teacher.
However, what I heard didn't make me doubt my resolve to have renounced the subject, as the centaur taught star gazing and its interpretation the centaur way. So, Ron told the whole lunch table, the magical world was currently only on a break between two wars. Oh really, I wondered perplexed, I didn't have to stare into the sky and look at the constellation of the stars for that. What did I say? All nonsense, whether from Trelawney or the centaurs!
The girls raved about the look of the half-man. The centaur had long, light blond hair, a striking face and intriguing blue eyes. His naked, impressive torso, which merged into a magnificent Palomino body. The all-beautiful golden coat, with the silvery white mane. Despite all the gushing, there was an unexpected quarrel between Lav and Pav and Firenze, who dismissed the astrological predictions of personal fortunes that Professor Trelawney had taught as human superstition, bringing tears of rage to the eyes of the two girls. Phew, man, could somebody shoot me? That hurt! But who had ever said that the thought processes of airheads didn't cause me any headaches?
Harry beamed at me now with amusement and told me that the best was still to come and that this would be a pleasure for me, which made me listen curiously. The centaur had stated that they, the centaur community, firmly believed that we, the humans, were incapable of recognizing the signs of the future and thus taught the pitiful students that had the luck, or rather the misfortune, to attend this subject to always doubt divinations and prophecies. Hallelujah!
I say it: Take the subject from the lesson plan! It's misleading people, especially since the centaurs in my opinion just saw the obvious as well! Oh, what a nonsense.
Harry excused himself and left the Hall. A short time later, my coin and also those of the other members suddenly became hot and so I made my way to a spontaneous meeting of the DA.
Only I wasn't supposed to come that far, because on the third floor my coin began to heat again and suddenly I heard a voice from a corridor calling softly for me. Confused, I followed it into a dark, windowless hallway and encountered a figure with very light hair, which looked at me slightly worried.
"Draco, what's up? Did you activate the Galleon?" I enquired, walking up to him.
"Your cover has been blown! You were betrayed. I hope the Twins understand the message and keep the others from your squad away! Blaise is also on the way and putting obstacles in the path of everyone of your group that he finds…" he whispered quickly and furiously, taking me by the arms and holding me tightly.
"Who?" I breathed angrily, my eyes narrowed to slits.
"A Ravenclaw girl. No idea about the name of the traitor… Umbridge has blown your cover. She, the traitor, could only say that the DA exists and that the meeting is taking place on the seventh floor, then she turned silent and something happened to her face. It wasn't pretty!" he said in disgust, but quickly.
"Damn, Harry is already up there!" I shouted agitatedly and Draco shrugged in apology.
"It just happened. I immediately disappeared from her office to intercept you! What is that noise?" Draco suddenly asked, pricking his ears. We glanced cautiously around the corner and could see Harry getting escorted by Umbridge and Filch to Dumbledore's second-floor office entrance.
The smug, triumphant face of the old hag was unbearable, but Harry had raised his chin determinedly and had a straight posture. He didn't appear truly worried. Rightly so, Harry! I crossed my fingers for him. It seemed like Draco's action had helped and the Twins and Blaise had all been able to warn the others, preventing worse. We had been lucky for once.
"Thank you, Draco. The toad has him now and I won't be able to help Harry! I have an idea!" I murmured to Draco and, with my white wand now drawn, I aimed at my shoes and spoke the Sonus Ex and then I pointed the wand at myself and became invisible in front of Draco.
"Hermione, darling, what are you up to?" he said, concerned, and looked at the spot where I had been visible until a few seconds ago.
"Shsh, Draco… I'm about to do something forbidden…" I breathed lasciviously and joyfully into his ear, as I had sneaked up to him silently. I'd say the spells were all working as they should for he jumped in alarm as my hot breath brushed his skin.
"Great, you can never let anything be. Will you tell me what you are planning to do?"
"I have to be quick. Can't you guess it? But I'll do it alone, that works best. That's how I'm used to it. Look what happens… Keep the toad out of my hair and if she's done with Harry and Dumbledore, activate the coin!" I demanded quickly and kissed him, which startled him slightly as he couldn't see me.
"You are impossible! Take care of yourself. And have fun!" Draco whispered, and I was glad and grateful for his confidence, which he apparently had in my abilities and my decisions, and that he did not question what I intended to do. I silently sped along the corridors.
I was glad that he obviously realised that I liked what I did, that I enjoyed it and that I liked it. Few men would stand there so calmly, wishing their girlfriends a lot of fun for what I was about to do. I really liked Draco for that, because he probably suspected quite well what illegal activities I was about to commit.
I scurried to the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom, which was also on the third floor and was adjoined by Umbridge's office. I didn't want to miss out on the opportunity that presented itself to me, and I was in the right mood to break in. When I went too long without it always started to itch dangerously.
The empty classroom lay deserted, only the dark brown, wooden desks lined up in the stone-walled, grey-looking room whose gloomy atmosphere was softened only by the large windows that let in a lot of light. I walked purposefully to the small spiral staircase that ended in a gallery and housed the door that led to the professor's office.
I applied one tracking charm after the next as I approached the door cautiously, breaking Umbridge's curses and spells one after another. I had to remember them all, and then put them back in later. Then a smirk escaped me and I whispered, "Dolores, Dolores, who would have thought you had it in you?" The fat bitch had a Black locking spell on her door as a last failsafe. But what can I say, it was as always shockingly simple. I would have a lot more problems to open the door with a lockpick but so it swung noiselessly into the room and revealed to me ... For heaven's' sake, I would prefer a torture chamber! I almost had a stroke!
Poor Harry! Had he had to spend his many detentions in that pink candy box? At the sight, it surprised me that he still had all his senses together. He had never mentioned what it looked like in here. Maybe an unconscious protective mechanism to hide from the horror? Pink and rosé were the predominant colours and gave me a shock for life in terms of colours. I frowned in disgust, a grimace on my invisible face, checked the room for safety, and when I realised that there were no spells left in place, I entered and closed the door.
The room was awful. On the walls hung wall plates with moving cats of every breed. They even made sounds and meowed non-stop. Well, that would drive me crazy. Maybe that explained the madness of Umbridge? There were lace doilies everywhere. From the windows, one had a good view over the grounds of the school. You could make out the lake and the Quidditch field, but this magnificent view was ruined by voluminous, pink lace flouncing. It was just hideous; the true little girl hell, unequivocally hideous... Maybe you should give Snape a detention here, I thought with vicious irony and then called myself resolutely to order. I wasn't here for fun.
I hurried toward her baroque-style desk, which stood in the middle of the room and was meticulously kept in order. Krass, the toad was pedantic! Even the quills and parchments were arranged in exact, straight lines.
But how does the saying go? Pride goes before a fall. She was so ignorant and had foregone any protective measures inside her room. How stupid of her, but she seemed to think that no one would be able to overcome her protective spells at the door. I mean, hello, that was nothing! Did I sweat? No! Had I had to make an effort? No!
Okay, my dear Hermione, do not become over-confident now, I reminded myself; reflect and think everything through and so I still did a few checks before I started to open the drawers.
Mh-mh, no, school records. Interesting what she thought about me and everyone else in general, but not what I was after for now. Next, please! The lower right drawer was locked, a little unlocking spell and voilà. Nice when someone was so tidy, that sped up the search for relevant information very much.
I pulled out the big file labelled Fudge and sat on her soft plush seat, ugh. I got a quick overview of the entries. She seemed to monitor her revered boss minutely. Oh, Lucius, did you have to stick so much money up the ass of this brain-crazed idiot? Over the years, as I noticed, a considerable sum had accumulated on Lucius' side alone... Mh-hm, Fudge had also received some 'donations' from others. Many names were listed here. What? The Prophet paid for interviews? Since when? The association of Fudge and the Prophet seemed to go very deep, but I wanted to keep searching. So I spoke a duplicating charm and held a copy of the file in my hand, which I quickly reduced in size and stashed away in my invisible cloak. I swiftly continued my search. Fudge was really nothing but power-hungry and money-hungry, I thought slightly distracted when I paused. I knew that name.
Rufus Scrimgeour, of whom I had once read in the Prophet. Here was written exactly ... he was the Head of the Auror Department. Oh well, he had an extramarital relationship with Edgecombe and she worked in the Floo Network Authority of the Ministry of Magic. Great! And Umbridge knew something like that about the Head Auror, just great! But now my brain was working at full speed.
Draco had said that a Ravenclaw had blown the whistle on us, and let's face it, it wasn't Cho. Even though she looked like she would start to spew fire in the Great Hall after Harry's and my performance at breakfast today, she would never betray all members of the DA. But with these insights in my hands, her best friend probably had nothing keeping her back anymore, now that Harry was finally off the market, and she had to protect herself and her mother. I could imagine that Umbridge, the old extortionist, had rubbed her mother's relationship under Marietta's nose and that it would be overlooked if she revealed some secrets. The date when this info had been received was from the day before yesterday, so several unfortunate circumstances came together. I copied this file carefully, too.
Because of these new insights, perhaps, should this drama end reasonably mild for Harry, I would lower myself to give her her voice again. Wasn't I a goody-goody? She didn't deserve it, but I didn't want to be like that! But the scarred pimples that carved the word SNEAK on her forehead, I wouldn't remove and so she would be reminded of her traitorous act for the rest of her life and no makeup, or anything else, could mask this blemish or hide it. I was, if I wanted, brilliant and as I said, I wasn't nice, had never been actually!
Oh, what was that? Percy? What did she have from Percy? I was about to reach for the file as the coin got hot on my skin. Shit, she was coming back! What would I be without Draco? And so I got up and made everything appear as it had been before. The drawer closed and I was already out the door and quickly rebuilt the wards. I didn't want the toad to know she was not as smart as she thought.
I hurried and scurried down the spiral staircase, enjoying the adrenaline rushing through my veins. I jumped behind the teacher's desk more than I walked and stayed on my knees on the floor, roughly covering my mouth with my hands to keep any sound from escaping while I heard her clacking heels enter the classroom, echoing on the floor. Phhhew, that had been really close. My heart pounded against my chest.
"An impudence... against... the ministry... against Fudge... that senile old... They'll be surprised... impossible... terrible Potter!" From my hiding place, I listened to her slightly crazy mumbling, occasionally interrupted by a high giggle, until she stood in front of her door and opened it.
"Oh, my babies, Mommy is home. She is now the Headmistress of Hogwarts. You're moving, my darlings!" she cooed in a horribly high, sickly-sweet voice. Shit, I had to get to Harry. What had happened to Dumbledore? Was she now headmistress? If the lunatic now became the head of the school, that would be unbearable. Where was a murdering Death Eater if you needed one? Right, not here, unfortunately!
I got up from my aching knees - ouch, the rough stone floor was not the best for my bare knees, I had scratched them open slightly - and slipped out the door unnoticed. The blood still rushed in my ears. I looked left and right for a moment and then quickly cancelled the spells that lay on top of me and showed a contented face. Too bad that my time had been limited, but better than nothing. Although I would still be interested in that information about Percy. Pity!
Unfortunately, I didn't meet Draco again. The castle seemed deserted and so I reached our common room, which was bursting at the seams and in which a great chaos reigned, as the rumours rushed through the castle with lightning speed.
Harry was sitting on the couch with Ron, looking like a picture of misery, and I went to my worn out knees in front of the couch as I put my arms on Harry's thigh, able to discern from his lowered head that he was blaming himself for whatever!
"Hermione, there you are!" Ron groaned in relief. "Have you heard already? Dumbledore is gone!" Ron had apparently forgotten or forgiven our argument in the morning, he was sometimes quite simply like that, looking at me with big eyes anxiously.
"Wait, Ron!" I drew my school wand and warded ourselves against the audience. Harry had not responded yet and just kept his head down.
"So, Harry, tell us. You were on the seventh floor and then?" I nudged him encouragingly. Now he looked up at me with sad eyes but also very desperately. Then he cleared his throat and began hoarsely:
"Yes, I was. I heard noises outside the door and so I went out and there some Slytherins overwhelmed me. Luckily, there was only a storeroom behind the door when they entered, but the mirror with the DA parchment was still in there, for whatever reason. Filch gave it to the Bitch and then they dragged me to Dumbledore. Luckily none of the DA was already there…" he whispered quietly.
"Well, in Dumbledore's office were McGonagall, Fudge, Percy and, and two Aurors ... I knew Shacklebolt from Grimmauld Place and a ... wait ... Dawlish, that's right! I mean, I was totally steamrollered!" He stuttered. I nodded, I could understand that.
"But then I saw a girl standing in a dark corner, Cho's friend!" he spat in disdain and looked wildly around. "She looked very frightened and the toad then pulled her into the middle of the room, but she couldn't say anything and cried her eyes out. Best of all, there was a completely ugly, scarred, pimple-strewn script on her forehead! Sneak. And ... and a question, was that your work, Hermione?" Harry now tilted his head and studied me carefully.
"Yes, these were my safety spells. Because of them, everyone had to sign the contract. If I don't give her her voice back she will never speak again!" I declared visibly proud and saw how Harry's eyes grew big and he frowned.
"What? You can't do that!" Ron shouted in shock.
"She would have earned it!" Harry and I said at the same time, which made us both smile amicably. We threw ourselves understanding looks because we were both angry with the sneak.
"You don't mean that!" Ron looked horrified, his big blue eyes wide open.
"No, Ron. Don't get upset. At the end of the school year, when the teachers and healers have given up, I'll give her her voice back on the train, gracious as I am. However, she has to be punished!" I stated, hard and uncompromising.
"But… what about her face?" Ron continued to stutter, horrified.
"You mean the word 'sneak'? With that she will have to learn to live, there is nothing against it. The healers won't be able to help her and there is no way to cover it. I warned everyone back then. Insistently, I pointed this out and Ron, I'm so sorry, it was her decision to betray us, now she has to live with the consequences! There must also be an incentive to remain silent for the others; I point subtly to McLaggen and Smith!" I was tough and showed a determined face.
"That's pretty hard to disfigure someone like that, Hermione, I hope you know that!" Ron showed his sympathetic side, but I shrugged and turned to Harry. Ron had too many moral concerns that I didn't have and that were alien to me.
"What do you think?"
"What, about Marietta? Hm, she has nobody to blame but herself. She won't get any sympathy from me. I'm so mad, I think it's still too little!" Harry hissed furiously.
"But…" Ron started again when Harry ignored him and just kept talking.
"Wait, Ron. Hear me out and decide afterwards!" Harry requested and Ron nodded slowly in reply. "...So, Umbridge persisted in saying that Marietta should answer with a nod or a shake of her head. That was pretty strange because she covered us now, and didn't react at all. But then I saw how concentrated Shacklebolt looked and I figured he was working magic... When the toad realised that she wouldn't get any more answers, McGonagall took care of the girl! Then the Bitch started to spread her evidence before Fudge. Woah, I thought, I would be sick... Firstly, someone overheard us in the Hog's Head, then she pulled out the parchment with the DA heading and waved it around and now comes the worst…" Harry described and his cheeks were bright red.
"Don't keep us on tenterhooks, Harry!" Ron whinged.
"Hm, yeah, yeah… Dumbledore said that the 'D' stands for 'Dumbledore' and the 'A' for 'army' and that he and not I wanted to start a student army this evening. That was unreal! Fudge and the toad couldn't get over their joy and the Minister said that Dumbledore was under arrest until his trial for inciting against the Ministry. When he gave the order, Dumbledore only casually asked whether Fudge thought he was going to let himself be arrested so easily and then unleashed a massive, magical explosion. Suddenly, there was dust all around and everything was devastated. It went lightning fast! With a swish from him, all of them collapsed, stunned. It's really wicked, what level of power Dumbledore has! Then he quickly told me and McGonagall that he was going to work underground, and then the most frightening thing happened. He declared that I should continue learning Occlumency, as that was important, and I would learn the reason later, and when he touched me, I wanted to bite him again, especially as I was angry about another cryptic message from him. And then he got out of there, grabbed the tail feather of Fawkes, and with a jet of flame, he was gone," Harry told me, quite pragmatically and without emotion, while I had listened with interest.
"Dumbledore is gone!" Ron visibly swallowed hard about this final revelation.
"Yes, Umbridge is now Headmistress and it's my fault!" Harry whined tonelessly and lowered his head again.
"Nonsense! If, then I'm to blame, I instigated the DA and got you to lead it. But it would have happened either way, sooner or later, so fuck it!" Harry just gave us a tormented look, but I thought it was true. The toad had been working all the time with the goal to replace Dumbledore.
"Ey, mate. She is right. The Bitch worked on it all the time and we've at least learned something from you!" Ron agreed with me and, to my astonishment, put my thoughts into words.
We were interrupted when a big black owl bore down on me. I was startled and looked at the window that had been opened by Colin. What? The wards kept us completely isolated from our environment, which I also found better when I became aware of the glares. Was it only my fault that our stand in Gryffindor seemed to be getting more difficult each day?
"What's that, Hermione? Who writes to you at that hour?" Ron asked curiously and Harry, too, looked at me questioningly, when the owl started to leave and sailed away. I held the letter in my hand as if it was on fire, shrugged, and tried to distract the two of them from my post.
"Harry, how are you by now?" I said, worried.
"Actually pretty good, even if I don't know exactly how it will go from here, but I think, I or we cannot change anything about the whole thing!" he groaned, taking off his glasses and rubbing his tired eyes.
"That's right and I'm glad you see it that way too. It's best you're invisible from now on. I'm serious, don't mess with Umbridge anymore, please! No detentions…" I implored him urgently and stroked his knee reassuringly.
"Yes, Harry. Don't start another fight with the fat toad. She's going to make our lives hell right now!" Ron agreed enthusiastically.
"Harry, and that with the biting of Dumbledore: Do me the favour and meditate today; try to clear your mind and keep it clear!"
"What? Are not you going to sleep with Harry and us in the boy's dorm today?" Ron teased me mockingly and wiggled his eyebrows.
"Are you over it? I really like you, Ron, just not as...!" I looked at him hopefully, but also apologetically.
"Let it be, Hermione. Harry is right, it was a crazy idea. I mean, you look really good ... A man can get stupid ideas. But Harry's hint with the similarities, that opened my eyes! He was right about that!" He showed himself very mature. Apparently, the events in our fourth year had left their marks on him as well and his knowledge of how much the friendship with Harry meant to him and that we both had no similarities… Well, everybody could see that.
"And besides, as a smart boy, you already know a replacement for me, right?" I was the one to wiggle my eyebrows now playfully, laughing all the while.
"Who?" Harry asked, looking up.
"Say, Harry, are you blind?" I enquired and Ron laughed merrily.
"Yes, when he takes his glasses off…!" Ron stated, his laughter turning dirty, and Harry rolled his eyes.
"Lav, Harry, um… I mean, Lavender…" I explained and waved over my shoulder where Gryffindor's girlie connection was gathered, gossiping, giggling and just chatting silly nonsense.
"Really… Lavender fancies Ron?" Harry had opened his eyes and I rolled mine. How could one show oneself so ignorant?
"Yes. And look at Ron, he's trying to compete with his hair, so I suppose he's already noticed!" Upon my words, Ron rubbed his red cheeks.
"What? Never, Hermione. What are you saying?"
I laughed out loud. "Good luck Ron, I'll keep my fingers crossed!"
"Um, me too, of course. Have fun with her. Please excuse me, it was a long night and the day wasn't any better!" Harry got up, looking exhausted, and stroked my hair.
"Then I'll go too. Good night, guys!" I kissed both goodnight. I was relieved that at least between our Trio unity was restored and rushed to my bedroom.
As I walked up the stairs, my fake smile left my face and it darkened considerably. When I approached my bed and tore open the envelope, my expression didn't get any happier reading the contents and so I released a depressed groan.
Snape was expecting Minna during the Easter holidays...