Chapter 1 : "Um, Hermione? Where are we?"
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"Well, Mr Potter, you are in very, very big trouble right now, aren't you?" said Dolores Umbridge in her awful high-pitched voice, smiling in her horribly sweet way. "Unless, of course, you will consent to tell me who you were communicating with using my fire."
Harry was starting to feel sick with fear. He'd known that he was risking it when he'd come into Umbridge's office in the first place, but he had been willing to take that risk - Sirius was being tortured by Voldemort, and he needed to save him! Every second wasted in here with Umbridge and her inquisitorial squad just increased the chances of Sirius' death ... but there was no chance of reaching Sirius quickly now. Not when Ron, Hermione, Ginny, and Luna were being held by Slytherin captors, Neville was being suffocated by Crabbe, and Umbridge was staring down at Harry with a look of triumph, probably just itching to tell Harry what he feared most ...
"I'm not going to tell you anything!" shouted Harry, trying to be brave, despite the fact that his heart was pumping so hard he thought it might come out of his chest. "You're a stupid old toad, and you'd better let us go!"
The members of the inquisitorial squad laughed cruelly, Draco Malfoy included, who obviously enjoyed having Harry in such a vulnerable position. Umbridge's smile widened.
"Or what?" she said with a smirk. "May I remind you that I am senior undersecretary to the Minister for Magic, as well as the high inquisitor and headmistress of this school? I'm afraid that you do not have the authority to threaten me, Mr. Potter." Harry glared at her.
"I'm afraid that it is my duty to inform you that as of this moment, you have been expelled from Hogwarts School," Umbridge said triumphantly. "As are you, Miss Granger, and Mr. Weasley, Miss Weasley, Mr. Longbottom, and Miss Lovegood."
Hermione let out a wail of despair. The others stared at Umbridge in horror, and even Luna did not look particularly bored anymore. As for Harry, he felt completely numb. This couldn't be happening, this was a dream, just a dream ...
"But that's not all, Potter!" blurted Malfoy, who had never looked so smug in his life. "Is it, professor?" he added quickly. Harry heard a sharp intake of breath from Hermione's direction.
Umbridge looked slightly annoyed. "I was coming to that, Mr. Malfoy," she said with a slight frown. "Never interrupt the headmistress, is that understood?"
"Yes, of course," said Malfoy quickly. Harry shot Malfoy a poisonous look, which was returned with an equally nasty one. This was typical Malfoy - always sucking up to the teachers to achieve one of his biggest goals: to have power over people like Harry.
"Mr. Potter, it has been clear from the start that you have been extremely spoiled by Dumbledore," Umbridge continued, oblivious to Harry and Malfoy's glaring contest. "It seems to me that you are in need of either corporal punishment or extensive hard work. As I don't think Cornelius - I mean, the minister - would approve of my using the Cruciatus curse on you, I have another plan in mind. However, be warned; if we ever meet again in the future, I will not hesitate to use the cruciatus curse."
Harry's heart skipped a beat. He wasn't too concerned about being cursed (after all, he very much doubted whether Umbridge would actually use an unforgivable curse), but why had Umbridge said, "if we ever meet again in the future"?
"Really, you should be thanking me," said Umbridge, obviously enjoying herself. "Not many students ever have the honor, no, the privelege, to go on an extended vacation with their friends, courtesy of their Headmistress. The portkey if you please, Malfoy." She waved her hand lazily in his direction.
Malfoy stood up and went over to Umbridge's wooden cabinet (actually, it was rightfully Dumbledore's cabinet). From the front pocket of his robes he pulled out a ring of silver keys, each one inlaid with different colored gems. He turned around and smirked at Harry, as though to show him how deeply Umbridge trusted him with her most precious items, before putting the diamond key into the lock and turning it with a click.
Harry had expected Umbridge to keep her more impressive items locked up in a cabinet like that. He was surprised when the door was opened to reveal ... popcans. Nothing more, just popcans of all kinds: coke cans, sprite cans, Dr. Pepper cans, and many more. Umbridge must drink a lot of pop, Harry thought to himself. Either that or she needed a lot of portkeys. But for what? Where was she sending them?
Malfoy paused, before selecting a cream soda can from one of the inside shelves. He carefully placed it on the centre of Umbridge's desk before locking the cabinet once again, and placing the keys in his pocket again. Umbridge nodded in approval. She raised her wand, pointed it at the can, and said the incantation.
The can glowed for a moment, then turned back to normal. At a signal from Umbridge, the members of the inquisitorial squad dragged their prisoners toward the table. Harry felt someone pin his arms to his sides and shove him forward, and realized too late that Malfoy had a firm grip on him from behind. He struggled, but found to his surprise that Malfoy actually had a large amount of strength. Meanwhile, he heard a grunt of pain; Ginny had finally succeeded in jamming her heel into the middle of her female captor's foot. The girl retaliated by grabbing a bunch of Ginny's long red hair and giving it a jerk. Ginny let out a cry of pain and did not try to escape again.
"If you would please put your hand on the portkey," said Umbridge silkily. Harry felt Malfoy grab his wrist and press his hand firmly onto the top of the can. The other Slytherin's followed suit. "On three, then ... one .... two .... three ..."
The next thing Harry knew, he had landed face first on the ground. For a moment, he just lay there, to stunned to move, but then he realized something ...
The ground was soaking wet. In fact, the air was wet, too, but not because it was raining. It was humid, extremely humid, and Harry could feel the back of his shirt sticking to his skin. He stood up, but all he could see around him were trees, some of the biggesr trees he had ever seen in his life. He could hear the distant cries of birds, the wind rustling in the leaves of the trees, water splashing in the distance ...
"Um, Hermione? Where are we?"