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Chapter 17: Chapter 17
A few days later the rest of the school returned and classes began. Hermione still spent a lot of time in the library, usually working on school assignments but sometimes I would find her pouring over old law books. Curious, I asked her about them. Reluctantly she told me the hippogriff that attacked Draco was being investigated at the request of Lucius. I knew Lucius well enough to know that if he had pushed this far for a trial, he was counting on winning. I told Hermione I would help her and spent all my extra time looking through old law books as well. Most of the time it was boring, every now and then I would find something useful and jot it down though.
Today it was the Ravenclaw/Slytherin quidditch match. It was only six in the morning so I was sitting on one of the common room couches reading a very musty book, looking for anything useful. Not thinking anyone would be up for a few hours, I was surprised to see Fred Weasley stumble down the boy’s staircase. He was still wearing his pajamas and his hair was disheveled. He plopped down on the couch beside me.
“Do you ever sleep?” he asked rubbing his eyes.
“It’s been known to happen once or twice a month,” I lightly teased.
“What are you doing?”
“Helping Hermione with something.” He mumbled something incoherent. “Huh?” I asked tearing my eyes away from the book to look at him.
“I said ‘do you know who I am?’”
“Here I thought I had won ‘guess the Weasley.’” He kept watching me, something about it sent a jolt through my stomach. “Yes Fred, I know who you are,” I said turning back to the book.
“Tell me how you know.”
“Plural then. Tell me one.” I sat back against the couch, watching him again.
“By your eye.”
“Which one?” he asked again with a small smile. I rolled my eyes and reached out to touch said freckle, right above his cheek bone.
“This one. George doesn’t have one.”
“Your hands are cold.”
“Sorry,” I said instantly drawing it back to my side thinking that I actually felt rather warm.
“Not complaining. Tell me another.”
“Mmm…George’s left ear sticks out a bit more than yours.”
“I’m always telling him that,” Fred said with a light chuckle. “Another?” I raised my eyebrow. “Last one, promise.”
“Your ring finger is longer than your pointer one, George is the opposite.”
Fred put his hands out in front of him, examining his fingers. “Who notices that?” he asked in an amused voice, causing me to blush a bit.
“This is why I don’t tell you,” I said reopening the book I’d been reading while frowning.
“Remember what I told you about smiling,” Fred teased, bringing up his hand to my cheek. I swatted him away.
“Nutter,” I muttered.
“Isn’t that why you like me so much?”
“Keep telling yourself that.”
“Going to the game today?”
“Gryffindor’s not playing.”
“Still, you could come. I could tell you the rules.”
“Just because I’m not into flying doesn’t mean I don’t know the rules,” I pointed out.
“Hmm…how about you just come for the joy of not having to read for a while?”
I rolled my eyes again. “You really don’t care for books, do you?”
“They’re boring. You can’t find reading an old musty book that’s a hundred times older than you that interesting.”
“One, I’m reading to help Hermione. Two, it’s only fifty times older than me.”
“Come to the quidditch match,” he insisted again. I looked at him again, he was grinning at me.
“Damn you,” I muttered. He laughed knowing he’d convinced me.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
By the beginning of April, Hermione and I had gone through nearly all of the law books in the Hogwarts library. I’d even gone through books about how the trial would play out and created a guideline for the evidence we’d complied. There was one serious problem though, and I didn’t have the heart to mention it to Hermione – money. No matter how much evidence Hagrid had backing him up, Lucius had something stronger. It was unfair, corrupt, and completely out of our hands.
Lucius didn’t even care about the hippogriff or Draco I was certain, he just wanted to win. It frustrated me so much that I’d even given a fleeting thought to how many votes could be bought with 1.5k Galleons. No, I wasn’t really going to sink to Lucius’s level.
Hermione desperately needed a break. She was still not speaking to Weasley or Potter. Mostly Weasley it seemed. His rat had disappeared, presumably eaten by Crookshanks. Hermione should have watched her cat more, yes but throwing away your best friend because her cat had eaten your rat? This is why people annoyed me.
The amount of homework she had wasn’t helping matters either. I got stressed just looking at all of those books, charts, essays and random bits of parchment. Thankfully the Gryffindor/Ravenclaw match was close and she’d get at least a couple hours of free time.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Walking to the Great Hall, a figure appeared on each side of me.
“Coming to the match?”
“We’ll keep it exciting.”
“Just for you.”
“Don’t make it last all night, Hermione will go crazy not doing homework for that long,” I warned.
“You won’t be able to tell us apart while we’re flying,” Fred said smugly.
“You’re number four and George is number five.”
“How did you – “
“Oh, wouldn’t you love to know. Have a good game boys. I’ll be cheering for you.” I clapped their shoulders and left them standing there. Thank you Ginny Weasley for that small tidbit of information.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
People are insane. I’m sitting in the stands and even I feel in danger. Honestly somebody was going to break their neck. How is this sport allowed but Fanged Frisbees aren’t? Bloody lunatics playing this game.
“You’re not very big on quidditch, are you?” Ginny Weasley asked half laughing. “You’re perfectly fine in the stands.” Oh hell, apparently I’d been talking out loud. Hermione looked amused as well.
“I don’t understand how broken limbs and concussions can be fun.”
“I guess you just have to try it,” Ginny replied shrugging.
“I’ll pass.” I’m not bloody likely to get on a broom again.
The game seemed pretty normal until three figures, robed in black, entered the field. They were dressed like Dementors, but it was obvious to me that they weren’t. A silvery mist from above hit the figures and they fell over. Yeah, obviously not Dementors. The next minute the game was over, Potter had caught the Snitch.
The figures turned out to be Slytherins, Draco being one of them. McGonagall had been laying into them as the Gryffindor house headed back to the common room for a party.
Parties, like dresses or skirts, aren’t really my thing. I sat in the far corner near Hermione who immediately began working. I was just watching other people. Everybody was congratulating Potter. I’m not sure why but it annoyed me.
“You’re supposed to be smiling. It’s a party after all.” I turned to see Fred Weasley holding out a Butterbeer. “For you,” he said.
“How in the world did you get all these Butterbeers?” I asked genuinely curious.
“Oh, wouldn’t you love to know,” he answered with a huge grin plastered on his face.
I rolled my eyes and accepted the bottle. “Git,” I muttered, making him laugh.
“Why are you over here?” Fred asked as he balanced on the window seat beside me.
“I’m not huge on parties.”
“What? Everyone loves a good party.”
“I’ve been to far too many sophisticated and proper parties. They kind of ruined the mood for me.”
“Ah, you definitely need to come to a Weasley party. Nothing proper or sophisticated about those.”
“I can’t imagine Percy enjoying those,” I said laughing.
“That’s what makes it even better.”
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
The party ended late and only when McGonagall had ordered us to bed. This meant I was late meeting Kuniye, she didn’t mention it though. Tsukino probably knew I would be late anyways, come to think of it. Halfway through a set of drills Kuniye stopped.
“You need to go,” she said suddenly.
“What’s happening?” I asked instantly.
“It’s on your end.” I froze wondering what had happened. “Go now.”
I sprinted to the estate gate, once I was clear of it the world dissolved and I woke up in my bed. I removed the spells from the hangings to open them. Hermione and Lavender were sitting up in their beds, Parvati was at the dormitory door. I could hear other girls and the sound of distant, confused voices.
“Something’s going on in the common room,” Parvati said. “Everybody’s heading down there.”
I walked past her and down the stairs, I could hear the other three behind me. Down in the common room were nearly all the Gryffindor students and McGonagall was speaking to Sir Cadogan.
The portrait had allowed Sirius Black to enter Gryffindor tower.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Everyone sat in the common room until dawn, when McGonagall returned. Sirius Black had escaped again. Some of the students went back to bed, too exhausted to stay awake. Others started whispering to the people around them. Not wanting to overhear any more ridiculous rumors, I went back to bed to lie down. I couldn’t sleep.
Twice Sirius Black had entered the castle, at least. It seemed probable that he was after Potter. Surely there were easier ways to kill someone. “Surely?” Who am I kidding, I could think of twenty ways right now that didn’t involve me entering Hogwarts. Something about Black’s behavior was off, I just didn’t know what.
An alarm went off, signaling that someone was pulling open my hangings. Quickly canceling the spells, I opened them myself and came face to face with Hermione.
“Oh,” she said startled. “I didn’t mean to wake you, it’s just Professor McGonagall said she needs to see you.”
“Yeah, ok,” I said sitting up. “I need five minutes to get ready.” Hermione nodded and left the room. As fast as possible I got dressed and headed down the staircase. I ignored the people in the common room and went straight for the portrait hole.
There were several teachers here and Filch. The portrait of the fat lady was leaning against the wall. McGonagall spotted me and summoned me over.
“With me Miss Lestrange,” she said sounding rather awkward.
I didn’t recognize where we were going until we were nearly there. She was leading me to Dumbledore’s office. Panic set in. A hundred things went through my mind, but nothing close to what awaited me.
McGonagall opened the Headmaster’s door and four people were already waiting. Dumbledore was there of course, and a man I didn’t know. Shacklebolt was there also but the last person, that was what set off every internal warning signal. It was Cornelius Fudge, the Minister of Magic.