The game continues
It was no wonder when I woke up the next morning at seven o'clock feeling beaten. I wouldn't run today because, thanks to Sirius, I felt like I was surrounded by cotton balls. Thank God, Lav, Pav and the other two were still in a comatose sleep, triggered by the sweets of the Twins, very handy. So I dragged myself like a walking corpse into the bathroom and put myself under an invigorating shower. After my shower, I stepped almost daringly in front of the mirror and looked at my face. I was on the brink of ejecting a shout of rage. What did the stupid mutt think about beating me like that?
I looked coloured like a rainbow, absolutely great. After brushing my teeth, I rubbed the new ointment all over my face and tada! I was a genius! I looked just like new again. I would carry that new ointment with me for the immediate future, so I could quickly apply it again in case the effect would fade. Really wonderful, as if I didn't have to think about anything else. So I stepped back into the dormitory, shining in my natural beauty and dressed in my school uniform and a cloak. Hopefully, the sleeping beauties would soon wake up from their sleep, I thought, and then - with an indifferent shrug - I went to our common room to browse a bit in the books while the first few people slowly began to stir awake. While I sat in my chair, the thought of yesterday came unstoppably along with questions about the why. But seriously, I brutally pushed my whining to the side, 'learn to live with it', because it can't be changed anymore anyway. But there was a sad, empty, and hollow feeling, leaving an acid taste in my mouth. My thoughts went to Draco. Should something change for me because of what Draco had told me?
That he had raped... No, that wasn't true, that he had been forced to rape! What did I think about it? Nothing, I didn't care. Draco didn't change in my eyes, that was something he had to do! And I had noticed that he was sorry, but also that he was resigned to the fact that he had had to do it. I had also learned that my professor had done similar atrocities during his time as a spy, but he didn't like it either, but here too, it didn't change my attitude towards him. It touched me no further, except that I felt compassion for him, for them, as I knew Draco hadn't explicitly liked what he had to do to these women and I respected him even more, felt even closer to him. As I said, we lived in a shitty time, ugly things happened to all of us, so one had to learn to live with it and accept what one did. What really interested me was, had all been watching? Was this a kind of orgy? Or, how would I need to imagine this? The thoughts that went through my head were strange, and the questions were even more unusual, but they came to me quite naturally. What kind of life were we living, that I was asking questions like this? I hope I found the courage to ask him on Saturday!
And for the first time in weeks, I was really glad to see Harry and Ron stepping into the room. I positively beamed at them, but I instantly lost it when I saw Harry's expression, which immediately worried me. What had happened?
"Harry, what happened?" I exclaimed worried and quickly changed seats, sitting down on the couch next to him. "What's wrong?" I asked urgently.
"Oh.. Hermione, if I tell you, you'll just be angry with me again!" he said sadly, his eyes unhappy.
"I promise faithfully, I won't be angry with you, please trust me, what happened?" I thought that it could only be something important, since his tone was so tense.
"I... I've had a lot of headaches and my scar hurt too in the last few weeks, it's almost unbearable sometimes... especially at night!" he whined, pressing his fist to his reddish bolt-shaped scar.
"Do you think it's coming from him?" I asked, whispering, somewhat insecure and slightly frightened. Apparently, the connection between the two went deeper than previously assumed, but was it good or bad for us? Harry nodded sadly, but was clearly relieved that I took him seriously and that I could say the terrible assumptions out loud, that he wouldn't even dare to speak.
"Oh ... that's not good, not good at all!" I groaned anxiously.
"I know that," he hissed furiously, which I forgave him, I'd react like him if I had such a close connection to a madman.
"What am I supposed to do?" he whined a second later almost sobbing.
"Maybe you should tell Sirius?" Ron said cautiously. The name alone made me stiffen, even if I realized that Ron just meant well.
"I don't know…” I let myself be heard dismissively but I had a distressed grimace on my face.
"No, this is an excellent idea, Ron! I'll owl him right now and ask him how we can talk to each other," Harry looked much happier and was hooked already. I didn't look forward to that meeting which would probably await me, but I could save myself the stress of trying to get Harry out of that idea, because his eyes shone with feverish anticipation.
So I admitted defeat. "Well then! Come on, I want to read the Prophet and I need my coffee," I said ill-humoured, but surrendering to my fate. Shortly after we had sat down, the owls entered the hall, as if on command, and brought us the newspapers. What I read made it difficult to suppress a devious grin. Draco's smug behaviour, as he sat at his table acting like a king, didn't really help me maintain my indifferent facade, because I was extremely pleased with myself and the effect the article would have. The article I had discussed with Rita was the title story! As one shouldn't laugh about murder, but be indignant, I should stop my almost dopey grin, damn! And the big hall was buzzing like a beehive. Everyone cast a covert glance at Harry, which he didn't understand at first until I gave him the article.
"Oh god! What happened, who could've done that?" He echoed in horror. Well, I wanted to see his horror when he learned that it was me.
"Yes, horrifying, sounds quite brutal.. almost beheaded," said Ron, munching and shaking in disgust, but continued to eat as cool as a cucumber and still hungry. I rolled my eyes, how could one just eat like that with such news? He had to have a really strong stomach, but he also didn't have the pictures of those scenes in his mind. If I would say: "Hey guys, that was me"... no, no one would believe me.
"Do you think, they finally believe that Voldemort is back?" Harry asked hopefully.
"Yeah, I mean the Dark Mark can't just fall from the sky, right," Ron said attention-seeking. And actually they were quite right, but nothing could be done against idiots like those in the ministry.
"It won't do much, but maybe one of them will change his mind and face reality?" I said hopefully, looking into the excited crowd of students who looked around anxiously and uneasily, sometimes looking skeptically to our trio. Since everyone had known Bole and Derrick, and they thus were shocked, the Slytherin table seemed to be in a state of turmoil after these news, as there were some heated but quiet discussions. Draco directed them like a king and tried to calm them down.
"You know, I find it really crass. The two had finished school just last year and are now dead, just like Cedric," Harry considered, sounding very sad.
"Well, they were only two stupid Slytherins, it's not a pity," Ron exclaimed indifferently, and it was nice to see how pragmatic this boy could be.
"Yes horrible, but unlike Cedric they had a choice and have clearly chosen the wrong path!", it came hard from me, because Cedric's fate was still painful and therefore I didn't go into it.
"Do you think it was someone from the Order?" Harry inquired fearfully. Oh, if you knew, my dear.
"Really, do you think so, Harry?" Ron asked hyper, looking around covertly. "That would be so cool!"
"Ronald, nothing is cool about murder!" I exclaimed. In what world was this boy living? "... and Harry, no, I don't think it was anyone from the Order, Dumbledore isn't like that..." I had to admit to my dismay.
"I think you're right, Hermione! But who else would work so rigorously against Death Eaters?" he mused.
"Well, that's the big question.." I exclaimed, suppressing an superior smirk. What was that? Draco looked at me very intensely and caught my attention this way. He subtly pointed to something else, further back in the newspaper. I reacted quickly and nodded inconspicuously that I had understood and reached again for the newspaper to look through it, then I found what he meant. In an article farther back, we were informed about what Draco had already told us on the train: ‘Sirius Black sighted in London’!
But what caught my attention, too, was the fact that Sturgis Podmore - a member of the Order, as I knew - had been caught during the night of the 31st of August to the 1st of September in the ministry in an attempt to break through a high security door and got sentenced to six months in Azkaban. All in all, very interesting news. I looked thankfully into those silvery eyes and nodded to him secretly, then I pouted and now told the other two as well about those extraordinary contents. Shortly after, the bell rang for the first class and we had to hurry. The rest of the day went on quietly until we went outside to the afternoon classes with the new Professor Grubbly-Plank, as she filled in for Hagrid, who was no longer present.
"Do you think Hagrid will be back soon? I don't understand why he disappeared immediately after the feast... I'm worried!" Harry said, looking suspiciously through his glasses.
"No idea... He'll be alright," Ron replied, uninterested. Suddenly Draco bumped into Harry from behind.
"Can't you be careful Potter? When I come, you have to get out of the way," he said arrogantly and smugly, while he wrinkled his beautiful nose and grinned at me. I could only roll my eyes. He would never change in this respect, would he?
"Are you missing this giant, unkempt idiot? Perhaps he got himself into something that is too big for him?", it came very ambiguous of him, while he laughed maliciously, but he had reached the point where we three pointed our ears. But especially me, as his eyes so intensely gleamed at me. He seemed to have received a letter this morning with new information from Lucius and now shared it with me.
"And I guess if this giant idiot comes back, he's certainly not going to stay a teacher, as my father has assured me that from now on, the minister is going to get tough with Hogwarts!" He snarled at us. At that moment, he constantly looked at me, which caused me to give him a covert smile. "It's ridiculous here, everything goes to the dogs, doesn't it?" He looked at us arrogantly as he sighed dramatically, acting compassionate. He was a perfect actor.
"Take that back, immediately, you little, vicious ferret. Who do you think you are?" Ron bleated as expected. "You're no better than us!" he hissed.
"Calm down, Ron," I said deliberately and scoldingly. After all, Draco had just told us more than the entire Order together had done, one should appreciate that. After all, we had the news that Hagrid was with the giants, and the confirmation from Lucius Malfoy personally, that Umbridge, as announced in her own speech, would do much more in Hogwarts, than just be a professor in ‘Defense Against the Dark Arts’. Draco turned his back on us with an arrogant grin, and went on with his laughing entourage, which was celebrating him, and left us behind. Harry surprised me positively by remaining silent and talking only when we were alone. He seemed to be thinking about what Draco had said, perhaps not all hope had been lost, and he was still developing.
"Harry, why didn't you say something to Malfoy, instead letting him go through with it! I mean, you can't let him treat you like that?" Ron ranted aggressively and indignantly at the same time.
"Didn't you listen, I think he just answered our question of where Hagrid is! Didn't you hear how he used the words ‘giant’ and ‘too big’? I think Hagrid's with the giants, but why exactly would Malfoy tell us this?" Harry said very considerately. He was right, and now it meant for me to distract, clearly, not that he would question me even more.
"Exactly, I ask myself the same question, but now we know it at least. I hope Hagrid is alright... what do you mean think is Dumbledore's intend?" I said trying to distract and was delighted that Draco was so skillful when he wanted to. And so we continued to discuss, endlessly! I was very relieved when the classes began.
At the time just before dinner started, I had been in the library and had pursued my own interests, and now I walked alone in the direction of the Great Hall until a white blond head appeared next to me. That sneaking he had probably learned it from a black-cloaked, grumpy teacher, for he moved as silently and smoothly as him. Not quite, but he was on the way to perfection.
"Thanks, Pureblood. Did your father write to you today?" I said cheerfully. We were alone in the hallways.
"Correct, did you understand it?" One of his nobly curved, pale eyebrows moved up.
"Am I red-haired?" I said very cynically and received an amused snort.
"Good one, Mudblood. How are you today?" He nodded at my vicious statement and gave me a scrutinizing look that contained concern and I could see him scanning my face. "The ointment works wonderfully. I wouldn't have thought that it would work like this, but you look refreshed, without the smallest bruise. Congratulations on your invention! But now tell, how are you feeling in there?", and while walking he put his hand over my chest, it took me a little by surprise.
"Since when are you so caring, so worried?" I summed up my astonishment.
"Let that be my concern! Answer," he showed himself impatient, rolling his eyes.
"Good, I think? I haven't thought about it until now... just...", and nibbled at my lower lip, feeling uncomfortable.
"Don't do that! ‘Just..’ what?" He ordered harshly.
“Mhm, Harry, wants to talk to him and I have to be there... I don't know how..." I made a gesture with my hand and underlined my inner turmoil.
"You can do that, Mudblood, put on the mask, don't let the fucking mutt see anything, I'll take care of him when the time comes!" His icy voice rattled through the deserted corridors, like a dangerous threat.
"Draco, we spoke about that. Let him be, he's history!" I immediately tried to calm him down and touched, as if by coincidence his hand, pleading.
"But, of course. Whatever you say, my Mudblood and enjoy your two mindless idiots!" He bid goodbye chivalrously as usual, breathing a kiss on my cheek and walking away majestically.
Wow, he'd really learned a lot from the bat, just as I could see his cloak floating with his movements impressively. Thank goddess, I was spared from the bat today, thank you, thank you, thank you, for I would see him soon enough!
In the evening, almost at midnight, Harry and Ron played chess and as always Harry was losing spectacularly. The Twins set their business in motion by bringing their Skiving Snackboxes to the public together with Lee and holding a sales event. Many students were bleeding and/or succumbing to a collapse, lying on the floor. I was a prefect, but I played blind, I didn't care, because there was more important things for me! I myself worked through some dark books, which I had disguised as harmless reading material, so the time went on until we three were the last ones in the common room.
As soon as we were really alone, the fireplace gave obvious, odd signs and suddenly Sirius' head emerged in the flames and gave me a deep blow. As soon as I could see his cheeky grin in the fire, I swallowed uncomfortably, but I made myself see reason and kept my mask on, even though his face looked swollen and very bloodshot! The cracks and cuts seemed to have been treated with a healing spell. But I must say, I was very pleased looking at my colorful work and a certain, inner calm came over me, because I had defended myself and that very successfully. He looked at us one after the other, only with me, his eyes stopped for a second and he saw my impeccable appearance, which caused him to raise his brow in surprise. A reaction that made me smile derisively.
As Draco had said, don't show him anything, not the least bit of what's going on in myself, and I just followed that advice. And already, Harry had thrown himself with a big cheer in front of the fireplace and greeted Sirius loudly and with delight and told him now all events at a furious speed and he answered the questions in the letters and so it resulted:
Dumbledore already assumed that Harry's scar would often hurt if Voldemort had strong emotions at the same time and Umbridge probably wasn't a Death Eater! I wondered about the connection between Harry’s scar and the Dark Lord’s feelings and about Dumbledore thinking about it. It was really odd, that he discussed this with the Order, but not with the boy who was in pain because of it. I was, to say the least, confused and disgruntled, because what was going on? In my humble opinion, Harry had the right to learn about these things, but he was left in the dark by the wise, old professor, because pain, unknown pain was so pleasant to bear! Nevertheless, Umbridge was absolutely nasty and disgusting, and as an example, decided two years ago to make life even harder for werewolves. Consequently, it was impossible for werewolves, such as Remus was one, to find a job, which I already knew thanks to Rita's exposé, but had thought it to be unimportant. I knew that the woman was evil. That's why Umbridge didn't teach any combat charms and only defensive spells at Hogwarts, because Fudge and his followers feared that Dumbledore wanted to build an army in Hogwarts to take over the ministry, which was the most stupid thing I had ever heard, but had I ever said that Fudge had a brain?
The Order itself knew nothing specific about Hagrid. He had been on the road with Madame Maxime and they had lost each other on the journey to return. But Hagrid was tough, he would come back for sure. We shouldn't ask too much about him so that his absence wouldn't be so conspicuous, which was, in my opinion, a futile try, but didn't matter. And so we were allowed to listen to these insights of the Order through the fireplace.
"You know what, I have a great idea, we could meet again in the cave in Hogsmeade," he said conspiratorially and grinned absolutely moronic, and looked around like a moronic idiot. I let my face drop into my hands, feeling terribly sorry for myself, and dared to ask if he wanted to get close to me again like this.
"No Sirius, that's way too dangerous. If you read the article today, you've been sighted and unmasked in London," I opened my mouth for the first time since the start of the conversation and said it firmly but exasperated. I couldn't allow it, it was far too dangerous. Which earned me a bitter, reproachful look in more than one respect.
"Stay out of this!" He sounded cold.
"I agree with Hermione, Sirius, it's way too dangerous. The way Malfoy has told it to us... I take it very seriously. How do you look like anyway... like you got beaten?" Harry took my side rigorously but tried to change the mood with the worst possible topic.
"What? Another snake? That's why... maybe...", he muttered slightly mad into his non-existing beard, which made me look at him gloomily. How dare he, though he wasn't even wrong.
"What do you mean, Sirius?" Harry asked, interested.
"Oh, nothing, and if you agree with her so much, ask her!" It came harshly from Sirius, then he withdrew abruptly from the flames, visibly insulted.
"Wow, what was that?" Ron scratched his red head.
"I.. I.." Harry said, slightly overwhelmed. I felt sorry for him, that once again Sirius had himself not under control and let his bitterness and hatred towards me out on Harry. What a child!
"Oh Harry, don't worry so much. I think the house arrest makes him depressed. Don't mind him," I actually defended Sirius.
"If you're sure Hermione, but that behaviour is odd even for him. I don't know like that," Harry gave me a sad smile.
"Oh, he'll be alright again. Now I say, we should go to bed, tomorrow will be a long day... shoo, goodnight you two," and shooed them to the boys' dormitories. I withdrew as well and was still annoyed by Sirius' completely inappropriate behaviour while lying in bed, trying to calm myself down, to empty my mind. I shouldn't get so angry about it, it wasn't worth it.