Chapter beta: Dani
Chapter translator: Nik (& Aivy)
Having finished changing my clothes, I now left Gryffindor tower again. Since it was the last day of the term at Hogwarts, I wore a form-fitting, dark blue jersey dress with half-length sleeves, foregoing my uniform. I felt very beautiful and desirable after last night and I wanted to express that. It had gotten quite late and I was in a hurry on my way to the Great Hall.
Despite everything, I felt great. The night with Draco had been wonderful, but Snape's last words to Draco, “she fits right in with us”, were difficult to grasp after all that had occurred... I swallowed harder than ever when Snape said that I fitted wonderfully into the Malfoy family.
How much I had changed. I had already broken almost every taboo and he seemed to like what was presented to him. Snape himself had admitted that he was very satisfied with the way I skillfully put everything I had learned into practice!
Draco's last words concerning Snape did not go out of my mind as easily. “You’ll soon be expected to call him by his first name.” For heaven's sake, I didn't know if I could or even wanted to. I was still very wary when he came as close to me as yesterday because I could never predict what he was going to do to me and that made me a little insecure. Oh well!
What did Draco say? I would snub Snape by acting formally if he wanted to be on familial terms? But please, the two of them were always so formal with one another in public! Well, to be fair, nobody seemed to know that Snape was Draco's godfather and a close relative. That also meant that I would always have to keep up appearances and if I was clever with questions and answers in his presence, maybe I could ignore it all and avoid addressing him in a familiar manner. I was uncomfortable with the thought. He was my teacher... He was... arrrghhh... I would have to take things as they come.
I was in a real mess of emotions because what these snakes did with me was incredible, even on an emotional level. Sometimes Draco was so loving and gentle, but other times, the untouchable sovereign. And don't let me get started with Snape: Sometimes reserved and stoic, then expressing the fiery, violent temper hidden behind his icy mask. Thanks to hiding their feelings behind their facades, they would inevitably bubble over when they got involved, unfortunately acting on those feelings not only verbally but also physically, as I had experienced and suffered yesterday.
With a shudder, this made me think of Lucius. As so often though, I trusted my luck which had so excellently brought me through life so far. I once again took my motto to heart: Take it as it comes! You have to and you will deal with everything!
As I entered the Great Hall, I saw a beaming Harry which managed to cheer me up. He looked up at me, radiating joy. As always, we were the center of attention thanks to many incidents and events as he quickly ran towards me. But we didn’t care, long ago having accepted this as the status quo.
Sneaking a quick glance at the serpents’ table, I noticed Draco's emotionless facade and Daphne, who also tried somewhat naively to maintain her indifferent Slytherin mask but clearly would have loved to switch places with me. Now, Harry breathed a light good-morning-kiss on my cheek before he led me to our table with a mischievous grin.
“What have I done to deserve such a passionate greeting, Harry?” I laughed quietly as he began to serve me breakfast just like the Twins used to, and I shook my head very much amused. For everyone except Daphne, Blaise and Draco it must seem like we were really a couple because I just received my much-needed coffee from him - how thoughtful of him.
“Here you go... And why, you ask? I think you know the reason! I think I can say I have my first girlfriend and if I have my way, the last one too! She is lovely. I'm deeply in love,” he whispered excitedly into my ear and I grinned back happily.
Wasn't he just too darn sweet? Always so loyal and faithful. His first girlfriend and mentally already his last, but that was Harry to a T.
“Wow, do tell! How far did you two go when you make a statement like that?” I asked curiously.
“Oh, we... not what you think, we just kissed. You mustn't forget, she comes from a good family and is still... well, you know, one who likes to wait until marriage!” he said insistently and just blushed a fiery red, looking like Ron at his worst times, and I tried not to giggle.
“Aha! Say, Harry, don't you think that you shouldn't approach a first date in this way? Talking about sex already...” I teased without any hesitation and if you can believe it, he became even redder. There clearly were no issues with his blood circulation. If I told him about my night with Draco, he probably wouldn't have any blood left in his body because everything would get into his head, I thought nastily, yet very amused.
“What? You misunderstood me, I would never behave like that! It was simply that I kissed her and she kissed me. I initiated it and it was much better than with Cho... oh, ... I just wanted to say that I fell in love with her, and, at that, much more intensely and sincerely than with Cho! I am in love, she is so nice, dear and above all honest.” His shining green eyes took on a very far-away look and I quickly glanced at Daphne who seemed to be in the process of being mercilessly interrogated by Blaise.
I knew he was supposed to be trying to work on the cottage situation, but as red as she looked, especially given her innate restraint in showing feelings, I wasn't so sure that that was what the conversation was about. Probably not the cottage, but Harry. Poor Daphne, Blaise was just too curious.
In truth, I was glad that she showed such a reaction. It endeared her to me that she wasn't such a hardened bitch as I would call myself. I know this outlook wasn't flattering, but then, I was just being brutally honest with myself.
She and her feelings for Harry came across as being very happy and honest, and she didn't boast about it. Probably for the best as the snakes wouldn't meet the news with much love either. It showed me her feelings were probably also deep, intimate and sincere. That's what I hoped for her, too, because if she only faked it or hurt Harry now that he was so blissfully happy and hoped to have someone here to whom he could build an intimate relationship with, and do all this so recently after Sirius' death, then, Merlin have mercy on her, all the gods of this world would not be able to protect her from my wrath.
Eventually, I pulled myself out of my observations and thoughts and asked:
“Oh, that would be so nice. And her? Is she in love as well?” I wanted to know and was pretty sure of the answer.
“Yes. Unlike with Cho, I am very sure that she liked our date and liked me, t-”
We were abruptly interrupted as the owls came fluttering in with the mail and I waited with dread, wondering how Harry would react to the horror that all Death Eaters had broken out of Azkaban. I quickly drank my coffee while he was reading. I closed my eyes and counted to five. Why did our happiness always have to be so close to bad news?
“What? What? What?!”Harry erupted. The noise level in the hall had also increased dangerously when the first people spotted the cover story. I grabbed Harry by the collar and hissed:
“Compose yourself! Keep your cool; it would be the wrong thing to get all upset in public,” I advised him firmly, and now occured what I had been observing from him for some time and what had become so apparent since Sirius' death.
Immediately, he pinched his lips, narrowed his eyes to strained slits, and did what he had promised me in the Room of Requirement that night: First think, then act. First think, then react. Finally, he nodded his head and pulled the Prophet closer to continue reading peacefully and I released my firm grip from his neck.
I looked at the snakes, who now knew that their fathers were free again, but I didn’t really see happy faces. They looked as always, even Daphne didn't let me know how she felt. Although Draco had put on an impenetrably masked face he looked at me sharply and nodded slightly, showing me that he had noticed Harry's behaviour as well, and that he was glad that he hadn't exploded like an erupting volcano.
“You knew it, you knew it! How did you know, Hermione?” Harry hissed through clenched teeth and looked slightly wild with his disheveled hair but he still controlled himself with difficulty.
Wow. Slowly, I became concerned. Some time ago he wouldn't have noticed this. I shouldn't be surprised; he had became really attentive and very good at combining clues.
“Hermione, answer me!” He struck the table as Blaise would, which was totally not attracting attention, I thought sardonically. Here and now, I decided that I wouldn't come to breakfast anymore if I was always in the centre of interest. That wouldn't go well for much longer... How good that the holidays started tomorrow.
“No, Harry, I didn't know... I only learned of it last night. So would you be so kind as to turn it down a bit?” I hissed at him angrily and thus earned many confused faces. Ever since I had turned on Dumbledore so cheekily, they were longing to know if my warnings were true and Harry seemed to confirm that to them by saying:
“Hermione, from where do you always get all you information? Why do you always know everything before everyone else?” and with that he gave the curious people around us the revelation that my threat yesterday to Dumbledore was meant seriously; that the headmaster actually caved because I always knew everything before the plebian, ignorant masses.
“Well, that's my secret, Harry! Just think of the beetle, then you might understand that I have many contacts,” I grinned devilishly and guessed that this was overheard by some, but that was fine by me. Harry's eyes suddenly reflected his understanding when he remembered that I had told him some time ago that I was blackmailing Rita.
I couldn't tell him that I had my knowledge from Draco. Not yet, but soon!
“Tell me, Harry, when are we going to the infirmary?” I turned to another, more harmless subject, which made Harry blink in confusion behind his round glasses. I waited for him to catch up and looked at him with my head tilted.
“Uh... and you don't have anything to say about this?” He tipped on the newspaper.
“Well, what can you say about that except that the Ministry is best characterised by frightening incompetence?” I elaborated disparagingly, giving a snort.
My scornful words immediately led to a huge whisper and I rolled my eyes in annoyance. Sure, criticism of the Ministry was looked down upon, but after Umbridge you would think they could think for themselves!
“While you're right, isn't this bad?” he admitted sadly and still showed total despair that the Death Eaters had escaped.
“Of course it's bad, but you and I, we can't do anything about it,” I confessed realistically and shrugged unhappily, but also fatefully, and drank greedily to avoid getting angry about something we really couldn't change at all.
I turned my attention to other things when all of a sudden two men and a woman, in formation, came in through the large, open double doors. Their steps were loud and very brisk, their demeanor self-confident.
One was Tonks, who today wore her original heart-shaped face along with her inconspicuous, light brown hair and sporty figure. She looked very dedicated and showed a serious expression. The man walking beside her was perhaps a bit older than Tonks, but not by much. He wore his long blond hair tied to in a neat plait, his face meaning business as they walked past the students in such a pompous manner. They sported the striking, scarlet robes of the Auror corps.
“What are they doing here...? Tonks and the one next to her is Williamson, I met him before my hearing,” Harry whispered more and more quietly.
“Can't you figure it out?” I pulled up my eyebrow mockingly and could watch as understanding slowly entered Harry's eyes and I nodded contentedly when I realised that Harry had understood it and was now looking up with a downright arrogant look and stretching his chin briskly.
Tonks and Williamson trailed after the brawny black-haired Dawlish. With his brushed haircut, and out-stretched chest, he was the epitome of the embodied discipline and obedience expected of law-abiding aurors.
My gaze went back and forth inconspicuously as Dumbledore rose and addressed the the new arrivals with care:
“My esteemed Aurors, what can we do for you?”
I felt Dawlish come to a stop behind Harry and me.
“Professor Dumbledore, we are here on behalf of the Ministry to investigate the murders of the first Undersecretary to the Minister of Magic, Dolores Jane Umbridge and Peter Jugson. In the course of this, we would like to have Miss Granger and Mr Potter sit down for questioning...” The business-like man was interrupted by the loud blustering of the whispered and horrified conversations of our classmates.
I, however, remained completely calm and unmoved at this opening. They could do nothing to me. Nothing would happen to us and certainly not Harry, since he had done nothing at all. This will be fun, so I raised my cup, completely unconcerned, and drank a sip after this revelation. I just wanted to hide my snide grin, which was broadly showing on my face. But this gesture made me look damn cool and relaxed to everyone, which I only realised when when several Gryffindors stared at me in shock.
I had expected something like this, sooner or later. They had to ask us questions. It figured that they had to make a public spectacle of it. Here I shall insert my thesis again: one had to have luck, and of that I had plenty.
“But gentlemen...!”, Dumbledore began placatingly but I interrupted him and his this-shan't-be-necessary speech resolutely by standing up with gusto and turning to the aurors. Harry made me proud with his reaction to my action, demonstrating his unity with me by rising almost in sync with me. He hadn't shown surprise either, only frowned reluctantly.
“With pleasure, Auror Dawlish,” I chirped at the aurors and looked out of the corner of my eye as Harry nodded. I noticed Tonks pulling the corners of her mouth down in a disgruntled manner and a horrified silence spread that I was once again cutting Dumbledore's word off.
“I'll be happy to join,” said Harry said jovially and surprised everyone with his sociable manner, even the Slytherins looked like fish out of water. Dumbledore didn't seem happy at all, but he couldn't do anything if we agreed to cooperate.
“Well, that's good! Would you provide us with a room, Headmaster Dumbledore?” a satisfied, smug expression appeared on the hard face of Dawlish, as if we had already sprung the trap with our consent and had made a confession. What a conceited, rash Ministry man. Too bad he didn’t know he had found a born opportunist in me.
“Uh, of course, as you wish. Best right here in this room... here,” our headmaster reluctantly pointed behind him to the door through which Harry had had to pass after his name came out of the Goblet of Fire during the Triwizard Tournament. The auror nodded in agreement and Harry and I walked forward under the oh-so-attentive and scandalously curious eyes of the entire Hogwarts student body.
That this was the first interrogation by the Ministry’s aurors taking place at school to investigate the murder of a professor. Wasn’t that sensational news? Harry Potter and the unexplained, mysterious murder of the former headmistress of Hogwarts. Oh yes, yes, the gossip mongers would have a field day.
When Harry and I, apparently unperturbed, were led away by Dawlish and followed by Tonks and the other man, we were likely to give the image of delinquents who had already been convicted and whose transfer to Azkaban was just a formality. The game was only beginning, though, wasn't it?
And one thing was clear, I was delighted and my fingers were itching dangerously to get involved in the game.
Hopefully, this Dawlish was an opponent with whom it was worthwhile to cross blades. Oh, I was curious about my first interrogation, but then I dared to ask myself for a moment if it would be the last one in my life.
As we left the Great Hall in uproar behind us, I turned around once more and I locked eyes with Draco's. In the light of the candles, his eyes glittered dangerously and I knew if they tried anything, he would order and lead the next attack on Azkaban. The cold flash of the ice-grey eyes sent little waves of excitement through me and I had to deny myself a diabolical grin. It was nice to know that I belonged to a family that also had the power and ability to do whatever it took, without being held back by annoying scruples or misunderstood morals.
When we entered the room, which contained both tables and large glass showcases displaying different trophies, medals and large plates in gold, silver and bronze which sparkled and flashed in the light of the candles. It was clear the room was built to impress, especially with the enormous arched roof. This room had no windows, which gave it a very peculiar atmosphere.
Pretty. I thought. Such a shame that it wasn't open to anyone otherwise, as it was very nice. We headed for a big table. Dawlish sat confidently opposite us, while Tonks and Williamson took up their positions behind us. We were told to take a seat, which we did after the unanimous nod we gave each other.
Their attempt to intimidate us with their encirclement didn’t quite succeed.
I was slightly confused. The Muggles always interrogated separately, so that no agreement or influence was possible. I was astonished, even the wizards must have heard of this?
“So... Mr Potter and Miss Granger, as you can imagine, the Ministry has many questions about your deeds and undertakings of the days before last,” Dawlish began with a weighty tone and looked at us insistently and sternly. “We are charged by the highest powers that be with answering these unresolved questions about the events that led to the death of Dolores Jane Umbridge, the former Headmistress of Hogwarts. “Statements are to be made about the fighting in the Ministry's Department of Mysteries, which also resulted in a death. We hope for your full cooperation,” and he said this seriously and harshly, very routinely.
Suddenly, I felt Harry's knee as he pressed it firmly against mine. Please, if he wanted to, he could go first. I would give him the right of way and so I nudged back inconspicuously.
“Of course we want to help, Mr Dawlish, what would you like to know?” Harry eagerly offered and opened his eyes wide. Faced with such zeal, a happy smile appeared on the Auror's features as Harry quickly continued: “At the Ministry, the Death Eater had gone wild, and we were lucky that all six of us left alive. You can be assured that they were throwing around the Killing Curse without restraint! We, on the other hand, defended ourselves with only Light, Ministry-approved spells. Is that what you're asking about, or is this about something else?” He ended with a provocative question, putting on a concerned expression.
“Well, Mr Potter, if you say so, but we still have a dead man on our hands! Mr Jugson is dead and Mr Nott was handicapped by a Dark curse. Everything here must be written down and recorded; Auror Tonks, if you would be so kind... and now, what exactly did you do, Mr Potter?” demanded the brawny, unappealing auror. We heard Tonks behind us conjuring the requested parchment and heard the quill scratching as it quickly noted down what had been said.
“Oh please, shouldn't the Ministry be looking for the Death Eaters that have broken out?” Harry didn't indulge him at all, looking at him angrily as he asked his provocative question.
“Let the Ministry worry about that. We'll take care of it, don't worry yourself,” Dawlish said smugly where it certainly wasn't appropriate.
“Exactly that is what I'm worried about!” Harry murmured maliciously. Hey, Harry's really become quite the cynic. Did he get that from me?
“Mr Potter, really! What happened?” Dawlish rebuked indignantly, becoming impatient.
“Nothing! The curses just flew all around us - what can I say, they were so dumb, it is quite possible that they hit each other with their own curses,” Harry angrily folded his arms over his chest and slumped against the back of his chair.
This earned him a pondering look from the attentive auror's eyes. Harry gleamed at him with angry eyes, but kept his temper under control and so the auror’s watchful eyes wandered from him to look at me.
“And what about you, Miss Granger? What did you do in the Ministry?” he now enquired, seemingly friendly, and apparently tried to read me. Thought he could unsettle a poor, naive little girl under his piercing gaze. Uh huh, exactly. Come on boy, let's play!
“Much... I ran for my life, for example”, I replied very sarcastically.
What an idiot, such a stupid question! What was Fudge thinking about subjecting us to something like that? Maybe... damn it, I had to go to Umbridge's office, hoping it wasn't empty yet, when a terrific idea shot into my head and I forced myself not to get restless.
“Miss Granger, that is not what I meant! We are interested in what you did do, what kind of spells you cast,” it came brashly and bossily out of this idiotic man in front of me. While he chastised me and accused me somehow, I blinked in irritation and placed my hand against my chest.
“What... is it not of interest that we were attacked? Us children? They tried to kill underage wizards! And that doesn’t interest you? You shock me,” I spoke very coolly to him and after a quick glance at Harry I recognised how he was grinding his teeth, his jaw clenched.
Ah, I had forgotten, the Death Eaters had to be protected of course. Forget about protecting the victims, it clearly came behind protecting the perpetrators. We certainly live in a strange world.
“Would you please answer the question?” the Ministry-loyal employee remained stubborn and I groaned with a fair amount of annoyance.
“I defended myself with Stupefies and Reductos, then I hid and tried to help Ginny and Luna”, I lied as a matter of course and leaned back afterwards.
“Good and now back to you, Mr Potter,” his piercing gaze quickly turned to Harry.
“The same, add in Impedimenta and Petrificus Totalus, that's all!” Harry provided in a strained voice. It was impressive how he fought against his fiery temper.
“Well, then you’ll have no problem surrendering your wand to us for inspection,” Dawlish hissed suddenly very aggressively as if he had us now and we blinked irritated at this very harsh demand.
I wanted to open my mouth in protest because such an examination would only be admissible after an accusation in court, if at all, but there was someone faster than I and a wand flew in a high arc through the air and landed on the wooden tabletop.
“Yes, well, as you wish”, Harry spat out viciously and I just gasped for air.
Was he nuts? I hadn't been able to blink that fast. I had told him at his hearing in the Wizengamot how it worked and the last spell was his Cruciatus Curse on Lestrange. Why had he done that?
The Ministry had no means against us to demand this examination. Harry just gave me a unique kind of heart attack!
“Harry, you don't have to!” I yelled, startled.
“I know that but I want to help our Ministry catch the bad guys,” he snarled venomously and I just sat there like frozen and we faced a maliciously smiling Dawlish. However, one thing I could deduct clearly from Harry's answer was that he seemed to know something I didn't know, so I shrugged my shoulders and slumped back. I would do Harry the same honour, trust him and pray that he knew what he was doing.
“The Ministry appreciates your cooperation, Mr Potter.”
I could easily hear Tonks breathe a deep sigh from behind me; she didn't sound happy with Dawlish's slimy words. Next, this unsympathetic dimwit of an auror pulled his dark brown wand and pointed it at Harry's still lying on the table and intoned Prior Incantato, and we could all observe how a beautiful, large, silvery bouquet of orchids broke from the top of the wooden stick and came to rest on the table in all its splendour, promptly disintegrating.
Damn, I couldn't believe it, he had conjured a bouquet of flowers for Daphne with the Orchideus spell. And hey, as far as I could say it was really well-done. Kudos, Harry, she certainly must have liked that. But, phew... for a moment I had been worried. Luckily, Harry wasn't stupid. Wasn't he cute? Such a sweet one; Daphne had made quite a catch there, and I was sincerely happy for both of them.
Now we were allowed to look into the deeply unsatisfied face of Dawlish and how he angrily pinched his lips. He turned to me with a snort, more or less gruffly flicking Harry’s wand back towards its owner and Harry’s face showed deep satisfaction.
“Miss Granger, what happened when Professor Umbridge went into the forest with you two?” he asked me urgently and I turned my cold eyes to him and said nothing at first, took my time.
“What makes you think something happened?” I replied calmly with a counter-question.
“Well, it was learned that you showed no shock about the Professor’s death when it was announced,” he said with a lot of venom, leaning forward slightly over the table.
“I also stand by that. But only because I didn’t shed a tear for the death of a person not particularly close to me, doesn’t necessarily mean that I murdered them,” I replied dryly and heard Tonks take a startled breath. My only thought was that the dear still had to work on her composure. You had to grant Dawlish that he remained unmoved and continued to scrutinise me.
“You were talking about a weapon in the Forbidden Forest, what was that all about?” He didn't go any further into my statement and one of my eyebrows went up.
“Nothing,” I explained briefly.
“What do you mean, nothing?” His gaze penetrated further into me and I brushed a strand of my curly hair behind my ear.
“As I said, nothing! There was no weapon, that was only a trick to escape the torture that the professor threatened us with. She wanted to put the Cruciatus Curse on Mr Potter and I couldn't let her do that. I couldn't think of anything faster to distract her, so please forgive me my ruse,” the words dropped cynically from my lips. Sooner or later, I would get payback on the Ministry. Outwardly, I remained cool and played the role of a student eager to help solving the case even if I was seething on the inside.
“Well, are there any witnesses to your claim?” he asked doubtingly and frowned disapprovingly at my statement that the high-born Umbridge threatened to use an Unforgivable.
“Of course, the Gryffindors Ron and Ginny Weasley, Neville Longbottom, the Ravenclaw Luna Lovegood and the Slytherins Malfoy, Zabini, Nott, Crabbe, Goyle, Parkinson, and Bullstrode. Professor Umbridge has also said that she was responsible for the attack on Mr Potter during the summer holidays last year and that she ordered the dementors unto Privet Drive that time!” That's when I heard Tonk's quiet but very surprised wheeze, Williamson’s hiss, and Dawlish's complacent mask cracked for the first time. That was a shock to the dear aurors, wasn't it? Oh, how I pitied them.
“Miss Granger, you are aware that these are serious accusations against a highly decorated Ministry employee whose memory is held in high esteem,” he hissed angrily, turning slightly red, but I remained very calm.
“Yes, but if it's true? How did the much-loved Professor Umbridge insist to say? ‘You must not tell lies’“, I alluded to Harry's torture with the blood quill and I noticed from the corner of my eye how he instinctively reached for the scar on the back of his hand and lightly stroked it. One could never forget something like that.
“We'll check that during the interrogations of the people you named,” Dawlish stuck to protocol with a sour face. The interrogation didn't go as well as he had hoped, I thought maliciously, as he cleared his throat again and tried to continue.
I wonder what Fudge wanted to achieve with it.
Most likely, he hoped - in his peculiar way of thinking - to gather dirt on Harry so he could offer him a small deal to generously sweep everything under the table if he, Harry, allowed himself to be paraded around by the Ministry.
Yes, exactly, only such a power-obsessed and status-clinging fool as Fudge could come up with such a thing. Or was he trying to pin something on me or our friends to blackmail Harry?
Oh yes, that just fit too well with his previous antics, but we wouldn't him get away with it. Dawlish would get a surprise when he interrogated the Slytherins because Draco wouldn't lie for Umbridge. In reality, of course, he would only do it for me, but the Ministry didn't have to know that.
I would have loved to laugh out loud now. The Ministry and Fudge were going to embarrass themselves again. First Fudge’s denial that the Dark Lord was back, then the outbreak of the Death Eaters yesterday and now this: a crazy witch who wanted to torture the children of Britain’s magical community. Not good at all. Ouch! But I didn’t find it in me to feel sorry for him.
“Then what did you hope to get out of this walk in the woods? What happened in the forest that led to the death of Undersecretary Umbridge?” the auror asked again very harshly and tried to re-take the lead.
“I hoped that the centaurs would come to help us, but it didn't get that far...” I explained as Harry loudly interrupted me.
“Yes, it didn't come to that because we, Hermione and I, were grabbed by a root, similar to Devil's Snare. It was so strong that it wrestled us to the ground and pinned us down, nearly choking us to death. It was really frightening in the dark forest! But Umbridge didn't attempt to help us and so we tried to stay calm. It helped. When we had come to terms with our fate, the root became more yielding and we were able to move a little again. After we had done this all by ourselves and got free, there was nobody to be seen far and wide, nobody! It was as if the ground had swallowed Umbridge whole, so we made our way back... We didn't want to spend the night in the woods. On the way back, we met our friends and flew to London on the back of the thestrals. I can't tell you any more than that!” Harry made me speechless. My heartbeat had doubled. He knew it... He had to know, he had to have know!
It was the only way to explain his lie and that he had run over my mouth like that to give me a false alibi. He must know! He had to know, or suspect, why else would he lie like that?
Harry knew I had murdered Umbridge!
And he lied like it was nothing and didn't even blush, stutter or show any other sign of insecurity. He seemed rather sovereign as he told his story of lies and thus let me know what to say.
And what should I say, I accepted the help gracefully and denied myself a smile. Harry was a bigger snake than I had previously thought.
“Exactly, Auror Dawlish, when we had fought our way out, which was hard enough, I couldn't see the Professor anymore. However, I’m sure you are aware how unpredictable the dark and dangerous forest is,” I took the same line and could see how Dawlish looked very upset and didn't like it at all how we covered for each other!
“Well, then it shouldn't be a problem for you to hand me your wand for inspection, Miss Granger, right?” He pulled up his eyebrow calculatingly and looked at me superiorly.
“No, sir, as you wish,” I quietly pulled my school wand out of my robe pocket and handed him the good, pure and virgin piece of wood.
And just like before, he intoned “Prior Incantato” and a silvery beam came out of it, made a loud, popping noise and flashed red, clearly identifying the Stupefy. I had known this was what it would show because I had attacked the shelves and the Death Eaters with my school wand in the Department of Mystery with Stunning Spells and Reductor Curses before I changed to my other, my white wand.
Only then did I perform my dark curses. I wasn't stupid after all.
Of course, the Auror could have gone back further with both my wand and Harry’s but after these bitter setbacks, he lacked any basis to do so. The fact that we gave him our wands voluntarily was actually a big courtesy on our part as we didn't have to do that. And with Harry's wand, this was a great blessing!
Dawlish looked very unsatisfied when I pulled my wand out of his hands.
“Satisfied?” I asked, but he did not answer and only looked at us suspiciously.
“Would that be it then, sir? We still have to pack,” an annoyed Harry interjected.
“Um, yes, well, we still have to question the others.” Dawlish rose unhappily, his bad mood obvious.
We all got up and left the room behind the professor's table, re-entering the Great Hall, stepped down from the dais, looking into an amazingly full hall. Everyone had probably wanted to stay and see whether we would be taken to Azkaban immediately or not.
They looked up at us like blithering idiots and I could see that Draco elegantly raised the aristocratic eyebrow; I nodded minimally which he registered, pleased.Dawlish surprised me as he now raised his voice.
“Are the students Malfoy, Zabini, Crabbe, Goyle, Nott, Parkinson, and Bullstrode present?”
Great whispering was the result and the Slytherins, concerned, looked at Draco, who, with a quick look made them understand that this was fine, and thus they came obediently and silently towards us.
“Auror Dawlish, may I ask what you want from these students? I see you've finished with Mr Potter and Miss Granger,” Dumbledore demanded, being the only professor present alongside McGonagall, sitting in his seat at the table.
“Of course, Professor Dumbledore. I need these students to clear up the circumstances and verify Mr Potter's and Miss Granger's statements,” Dawlish barked which led to a huge rumbling. The Slytherins backing up our story?! Now that was just hilarious and unbelievable! I knew, though, that the Slytherins wouldn't lie thanks to Draco.
And so, armed with the truth, they would confirm our statement and help us. Perfect, there was no better statement to reinforce your own than that from your enemy, and it would show what the toad had really been like. Thanks to Fudge's hasty, much too obvious action Umbridge’s misdeeds would become publicly known, and this would then cast a doubly bad light on him and his Ministry. Oh, how wonderful it was dealing with fools.
Rita would still receive a report from me today about what had transpired, and you really couldn’t say that the auror’s investigation was in any way covert.
Harry and I left Dumbledore and his potential questions behind us, nipping all inquiries in the bud. The aurors disappeared through the door again with the snakes in tow and while everyone would have loved to pester us with questions, we marched on quickly. I still had something to do and Harry would be at my side.