Chapter 18 : Circumstances
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Heather laughed but couldn’t help but feel sorry for Ron and Hermione; they would have their hands full this year with the twins. She decided to stay within the common room and read, keeping and eye on others who surprisingly didn’t seem moved by her Animagus form. In fact, when the three annoyances walked downstairs they didn’t even look at Heather; it was like it had never happened. Isaac came down before Kira, he smiled at her but when he didn’t get a smile back he flopped onto the couch beside her and asked: “What happened?”
“Padma and her friends were getting on my nerves, so I sort of threatened them.” Heather said
“Couldn’t be that bad, what’d you threaten them with?” he asked,
“Probably to them a good bit out of their legs,” Heather said sheepishly as h is eyes grew wide.
“You revealed yourself!” he gasped quietly looking around.
“Yeah, but listen, there isn’t a fuss about it, they aren’t freaking out like they did last night.” Heather said
“Odd, they are usually the ‘freak-out’ type,” Isaac said thoughtfully.
Heather shrugged, “I’ll take it over them screaming,”
“Don’t suppose Kira was quick enough with another memory spell?” he asked.
“No, I don’t think she’s speaking to me actually.” Heather said.
To prove her right, Kira walked downstairs said ‘hi’ to Isaac before leaving the common room, probably to see Neville.
“Yeah, she isn’t talking to you.” Isaac said
“Don’t rub it on, come on,” she said and he followed her out of the common room.
Professor Flitwick came around the tables handing out schedules, today wasn’t so bad, she had Divination, History of Magic, double Potions, and double Defense Against the Darks Arts. She could deal with History of Magic, Divination she could weather through, Potions would be a killer and she didn’t really know what Darks Arts would be like. Isaac had History of Magic, Divination, Care of Magical Creatures, Charms and double Potions.
Heather got an early start to the Divination classroom, she found out Kira didn’t have the same class because she didn’t show up. Even in the chilly air of September Trelawney’s tower was as warm and smoky as ever. Heather wasn’t paying attention as she went on about some sort of dream diary they would have to keep. She was too busy wondering why no one was freaking out about her being an Animagus, let alone an unregistered one. That was another thing, why wasn’t Dumbledore or Remus making her march down to the ministry to get registered?
These thoughts troubled her all the way through Mr. Binns droning voice and to Potions in the hazy drizzle of the morning. Isaac and Kira met up with her there, Kira was still not speaking to her, though she was to Isaac and left to sit with Neville.
“Before we begin today’s lesson,” said Snape, sweeping over to his desk and staring around at them all, “I think it appropriate to remind you that next June you will be sitting an important examination, during which you will prove how much you have learned about the composition and use of magical potions. Moronic though some of this class undoubtedly are, I expect you to scrape and ‘acceptable’ in your O.W.L., or suffer my….displeasure.” his gaze lingered on this time upon Neville, who gulped. “After this year, of course, many of you will cease studying with me,” he went on. “I take only the very best into my N.E.W.T. Potions class, which means that some of us will certainly be saying good-bye.”
Heather looked up after a moment to find Snape’s gaze upon her now, but she only gave a small fleeting grin at him before going back to her usually staring spot of the board. Today they would be conjuring up the potion called The Draught of Peace, a dangerous potions that if too much could put the victim into a permanent sleep. They were given instructions on the board, ingredients from the cupboard and a half hour.
Surprisingly this potion seemed rather easy, of course the problem was as Snape walked around saying: “A light silver vapor should now be rising from your potion,” hers wasn’t doing anything. It was a perfectly clear liquid like water, though she knew that she added no water to it. He then went to Harry’s who cauldron was emitting great amounts of grey steam, Ron’s was shooting green sparks and Neville looked as though he was mixing cement. Kira however, along with Hermione’s cauldrons were both emitting a shimmering silver smoke, just like Snape said. It was then he came to her table, Heather expected the usual, either he would do what he did to Harry or make her do it over. But this time Snape stood there, eh was stone faced and rather ridged as he stared at her cauldron.
“Smith,” he said, picking up a ladle of her potion. “You have successfully made the Draught of the Living Dead Potion. A qualification to get into my N.E.W.T potions class, a step up from the Draught of Peace.”
“I-I have?” Heather asked, staring into her cauldron.
“Ten points…to Ravenclaw, your grade will be determined when you turn it in.” Snape said grudgingly and walked away.
Heather looked to Isaac who grinned, and then to Kira, she gave her a feeble smile before turning away again. She had outsmarted Snape, for once, she felt sorry for Harry though, and Snape hadn’t even considered his potion. She gave him a feeble smile as she walked up to the room, but he didn’t return it as he sit in the back of the class gathering his things. Heather was happy though with her stroke of luck, it had been the best thing that happened so far this year and they weren’t far into the year.
Kira still wasn’t talking with her as she departed as quickly as she could from the room and she and Isaac went off to Defense Against the Dark Arts.
“Kira says she’s a piece of work,” Isaac said on the way there. “Not really mean but passive aggressive, sickly sweet I guess you could say.”
“Sound fun,” Heather snorted as they walked into the classroom.
Professor Umbridge was already seated at the teachers’ desk, wearing the fluffy pink cardigan of the night before and the black velvet bow on top of her head. Heather cringed at her fashion choices before taking a seat next to Isaac and took out her books and wand.
“Well, good afternoon!” she said when finally the whole class had sat down.
“Good afternoon,” was the low rumble of a few people.
“Tut, tut,” said Professor Umbridge. “That won’t do, now, will it? I should like you, please, to reply ‘Good afternoon, Professor Umbrige.’ One more time, please. Good afternoon, class!”
“Good afternoon, Professor Umbridge,” they chanted back at her.
“There now,” she said sweetly. “That wasn’t too difficult, was sit? Wands away and quills out please.”
Many of the class exchanged gloomy looks; the order “wands away?” had never yet been followed by a lesson they had found interesting. Heather slid her wand back into her pack and pulled out ink, a quill and parchment. Professor Umbridge opened her handbag, extracted her own wand, which was an unusually short one, and tapped the blackboard sharply with it; words appeared on the board at once:
Defense Against the Dark Arts
A Return to Basic Principles
“Well, now your teaching in this subject has been rather disrupted and fragmented, hasn’t it?” she stated, turning to face the class with her hands clasped neatly in front of her. “The constant changing of teachers, many of whom do not seem to have followed any Ministry-approved curriculum, has unfortunately resulted in your being far below the standard we would expect to see in your O.W.L. year.”
Kira’s voice rang clearly in Heather’s head at this statement, ‘…she’s from the Ministry, and they are interfering with Hogwarts!’“You will be pleased to know, however, that these problems are now to be rectified. We will be following a carefully structured, theory-centered, Ministry-approved course of defensive magic this year. Copy down the follow, please.”
She rapped the blackboard again; the first message vanished and was replaced by:
1. Understanding the principles underlying defensive magic.
2. Learning to recognize situations in which defensive magic can legally be used.
3. Placing the use of defensive magic in a context for practical use.
For a couple of minutes the room was full of the sound of scratching quills on parchment. When everyone had copied down Professor Umbridge’s three course aims she said, “Has everybody got a copy of Defensive Magical Theory by Wilbert Slinkhard?” There was a dull murmur of assent throughout the class. “I think we’ll try that again,” she said. “When I ask you a question, I should like you to reply ‘Yes, Professor Umbridge,’ or ‘No, Professor Umbridge.’ So, has everyone got a copy of Defensive Magical Theory by Wilbert Slinkhard?”
“Yes, Professor Umbridge.” ran through the room.
“Good,” she said. “I should like you to turn to page five and read chapter one, ‘Basics for Beginners.’ There will be no need to talk.”
She left the blackboard and settled herself in the chair behind the teachers’ desk, observing them all closely with those pouchy toad’s eyes. With a glance to Isaac Heather turned to page five in her copy of Defensive Magical Theory and started to read. The reading was hopelessly dull, quite as bad as listening to Professor Binns. Heather’s attention soon slipped, she read the lines but didn’t really read them her eyes just moved over the words.
Heather looked up slightly Isaac was almost done with the chapter, Kira was still reading but then Hermione caught her eye. She was sitting there, her book untouched and her hand in the air staring fixedly at Professor Umbrige. She nudged Isaac and he looked up and stared at Hermione for a moment before shrugging. It was a surprise that Hermione had actually disobeyed a teacher, she never failed to complete a task she was told to do.
After several more minutes had passed, others started to notice Hermione, the chapter so dull they would rather watch her attempt and catching Umbridge’s eye. Heather caught Kira’s eye who shrugged as well before turning her gaze back to her, but Professor Umbrige continued to ignore her blatantly. It was after another few moments that she asked: “Did you want to ask something about the chapter, dear?” she asked as though she had just noticed Hermione.
“Not about the chapter, no,” she said
“Well, we’re reading just now,” she said showing her small, pointed teeth. “If you have other queries we can deal with them at the end of class.”
“I’ve got a query about your course aims.” said Hermione.
“And your name is-?”
“Hermione Granger,” she told her.
“Well, Miss Granger, I think the course aims are perfectly clear if you read them through carefully,” said Professor Umbridge in a voice of determined sweetness.
“Well, I don’t,” said Hermione bluntly. “There’s nothing written up there about using defensive spells.”
There was a short silence in which many members of the class turned their heads to frown at the three course aims still written on the blackboard.
“Using defensive spells?” Professor Umbridge repeated with a little laugh. “Why, I can’t imagine any situation arising in my classroom that would require you to use a defensive spell, Miss Granger. You surely aren’t expecting to be attacked during class?”
“We’re not going to use magic?” both Ron and Isaac said loudly.
“Students raise their hands when they wish to speak in my class, Mr.-” she addressed Ron.
“Weasley,” said Ron and thrust his hand into the air.
She merely smiled more widely at him then turned her back on him, Harry and Hermione raised their hands immediately. Professor Umbrige’s pouchy eyes lingered on Harry for a moment before she addressed Hermione.
“Yes, Miss. Granger?” You wanted to ask something else?”
“Yes,” she said. “Surely the whole point of Defense Against the Dark Arts is to practice defensive spells?”
“Are you a Ministry-trained education expert, Miss Granger?” she asked in her false sweetness and Heather really wished she would stop referring to the Ministry as if it were a saint sent from heaven.
“Well, then, I’m afraid you are not qualified to decided what the ‘whole point’ of any class is. Wizards much older and cleverer that you have devised our new program of study. You will be learning about defensive spells in a secure, risk-free way-”
“Risk free?” Heather asked.
“What use is that?” Harry asked loudly. “If we’re going to be attacked it won’t be in a-”
“Hands!” sang Umbridge.
Harry and Heather thrust their hands into the air. Professor Umbridge promptly turned away from Harry and Heather and to Dean as several more hands rose into the air.
“And your name is?” she said to her.
“Well, Mr. Thomas?”
“It’s like Harry said, if we’re going to be attacked, it won’t be risk-free-”
“I repeat,” she said sternly, “do you expect to be attacked during my classes?”
“I do not wish to criticize the way things have been run in this school,” she said over her, an unconvincing smile stretching her wide mouth, “but you have been exposed to some very irresponsible wizards in this class, very irresponsible indeed- not to mention,” she gave a nasty little laugh, “extremely dangerous half-breeds.”
“I’m a half-breed!” Heather snapped,
“And if you mean Professor Lupin,” piped up Dean Thomas angrily, “he was the best we ever-”
“Hand, Mr. Thomas!” As I was saying- you have been introduced to spells that have been complex, inappropriate to your age group, and potentially lethal. You have been frightened into believing that you are likely to meet Dark attacks every other day-”
“No we haven’t,” Hermione said, “we just-”
“You hand is not up, Miss Granger!”
Hermione put up her hand; Professor Umbrige turned away from her.
“It is my understanding that my predecessor not only preformed illegal curses in front of you, he actually performed them on you-”
“Well, he turned out to be a maniac, didn’t he?” Heather said hotly. “A death eater at that and we still learned loads-”
“Your hand is not up, Miss-” thrilled Umbridge and turned to her.
“Smith.” Heather threw her hand into the air.
“Now, it is the view of the Ministry that a theoretical knowledge will be more than sufficient to get you through your examinations, which, after all, is what school is all about. And your name is?” she added, staring at Parvati, whose hand had just shot up.
“Parvati Patil, and isn’t there a practical bit in our Defense Against the Dark Arts O.W.L.? Aren’t we supposed to show that we can actually dot he coutercurses and things?”
“As long as you have studied the theory hard enough, there is not reason why you should not be able to perform the spells under carefully controlled examination conditions,” she said dismissively. Heather snorted, if she had studied the way Umbrige suggested about Animagus she would be a very sorry witch trying to get rid of permanent ears and a tail of a wolf.
“Without every practicing them before?” said Parvati incredulously. “Are you telling us that the first time we’ll do the spells will be during our exam?”
“I repeat,” Heather wished she wouldn’t, “as long as you have studied the theory hard enough-”
“And what good’s theory going to be in the real world?” said Harry loudly, his fist in the air again.
Heather smiled as Professor Umbrige looked up. “This school, Mr. Potter, not the real world,” she said softly.
“So we’re not supposed to be prepared for what’s waiting out there?” Heather asked
“There is nothing waiting out there, Miss Smith.”
“Oh yeah?” said Harry.
“What do you imagine wants to attack children like yourselves?” inquired Umbrige in a horribly honeyed voice.
“Hmm, let’s see…Death Eaters!” Heather snapped and turned to Harry. “Oh…and what else that’s right,”
“Maybe Lord Voldemort?” they both snapped.
Ron gasped; Lavender Brown uttered a little scream; Kira had her hands over her mouth and Neville had slipped sideways off his stool. Umbridge, however, did not flinch. She was staring at them with a grimly satisfied expression on her face.
“Ten points from Gryffindor and Ravenclaw.”
The classroom was silent and still. Everyone was staring at either Umbridge, or one of them.
“Now, let’s make a few things quite plain.” Professor Umbrige stood up and leaned toward them, her stubby-fingered hands played on her desk. “You have been told that a certain Dark wizard has returned from the dead-”
“He wasn’t dead,” said Harry angrily.
“But wait he has returned!” Heather snapped.
“Mr.-Potter-and-Miss-Smith-you-already-lost-your-Houses-ten-points-do-not-make-matters-worse-for-yourselves,” said Professor Umbridge in one breath without looking at them. “As I was saying, you have been informed that a certain Dark wizard is at large once again. This is a lie.”
“It is NOT a lie!” Heather snapped with Harry. “I saw him, I fought him!”
“I saw him do it!” Heather argued, “I was with him!”
“Detention, the both of you!” said Professor Umbridge triumphantly. “Tomorrow evening. Five o’ clock. My office. I repeat, this is a lie. The Ministry of Magic guarantees that you are not in danger form any Dark wizard. If you are still worried, by all means come and see me outside class hours. If someone is alarming you with fibs about reborn Dark wizards, I would like to hear about it. I am here to help. I am your friend. And now, you will kindly continue your reading. Page five, ‘Basics for Beginners.’”
Heather stood with Harry as she sat back down in her test; Isaac took her hand and tugged at her. “Heather, please don’t…” he hissed. Everyone was staring at them; Heather pulled her hand away from Isaac.
“So, according to you, Cedric Diggory dropped dead of his own accord, did he?” Harry asked, his voice shaking.
There was a collective intake of breath from the class, for none of them, apart from Ron, Hermione, Kira and Neville, had ever heard them talk about what had happened on that night that Cedric had died. They stared avidly from them to Umbridge, who had raised her eyes and was staring at them without blinking a trace of a fake smile on her face.
“Cedric Diggory’s death was a tragic accident,” she said coldly.
“It was murder,” Heather said, trembling ignoring the flashing images across her eyes. “Voldmeort killed him, and you know it.”
Professor Umbridge’s face was quite blank. For a movement she though she was going to scream at them. Then she said, in her softest, most sweetly girlish voice, “Come here dears,”
Heather walked from her desk, Harry had kicked his chair aside and she followed him up to her desk. She didn’t care what Umbridge did as she walked up there, the whole class holding her breath. She stood next to him as Umbrige pulled a small roll of pink parchment out of her handbag, stretched it out on the desk, dipped her quill into a bottle of ink and started scribbling, hunched over so they couldn’t see what she was writing. Nobody spoke. After a minute or so she rolled up the parchment and tapped it with her wand; it sealed itself seamlessly so they couldn’t open it.
“Take this to Professor McGonagall, dear,” she said giving the note to Harry.
Harry took it from her without saying a word, turned on his heel, and left the room. She looked to Umbrige; still standing there she smiled but was glaring at her. “You go with him, dear,”
Heather swept away from her and met Harry at the door which they slammed behind themselves and stormed down the hall. They turned down the hall, when Harry walked slap into Peeves the Poltergeist, a wide-faced little man floating on his back in midair juggling several inkwells.
“Why, it’s Potty Wee Potter!” he cackled, letting two bottles fall and splash to the ground. “And the Ruby Eyed Vampire Princess!”
“Get out of it, Peeves.” Harry snarled.
“Oooh, Crackpot’s feeling cranky,” said Peeves, pursuing Harry along the corridor, leering as he zoomed along above him. “What is it this time, my fine Potty friend? Hearing voices? Seeing visions…Blood cravings?”
“Leave us ALONE!” Heather shouted at him, following Harry as they ran down the nearest flight of stairs, but Peeves merely slid down the banister on his back side him.
“Oh, most think their barking, the Potty Wee lad and his accomplice,
But some are more kindly and think their just sad,
But Peeves know better and say that they’re mad-”
“SHUT UP!” They roared
A door to their left flew open and Professor McGonagall emerged from her office looking grim and slightly harassed. “What on earth are you shouting about, Potter, Smith?” she snapped, as Peeves cackled gleefully and zoomed out of sight. “Why aren’t you in class?”
“We’ve been sent to see you,” said Harry stiffly.
“Sent? What do you mean, sent?”
He held out the note from Professor Umbridge. Professor McGonagall took it from him, frowning, slit it open with a tap of her wand, stretched it out and began to read. Her eyes zoomed from side to side behind their square spectacles as she read what Umbridge had written, and with each line they became narrower.
“Come in here, the both of you.” They walked inside and the door snapped behind them. “Well?” she asked rounding on them. “Is this true?”
“Is what true?” Harry asked. “Professor?” he added in attempt to sound more polite.
“Is it true that you shouted at Professor Umbridge?”
“Yes,” they said.
“You called her a liar?”
“You both told her He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named is back?”
She sat down behind her desk, watching them both closely then said, “Have a biscuit,”
“Have-What?” Harry asked.
“Have a biscuit,” she repeated impatiently, indicating the tartan tin of cookies lying on top of one of the piles of papers on her desk. “Sit down, the both of you.”
Heather was thrown for a loop, she expected her to start going off on them, taking off points like there was no tomorrow. She sat down and took one of the cookies, biting a bit off, staring at her bewildered.
“Potter, Smith, you both need to be careful.”
Her tone of voice was odd, it had changed in all the years Heather had heard it, it was not brisk, crisp and stern; it was low and anxious and somehow much more human than usual.
“Misbehaver in Dolores Umbrige’s class could cost you much more than House points and detention.”
“What do you-?” Harry began.
“Potter, use your common sense,” she snapped.
“She’s from the Ministry,” Heather said,
“Precisely, you know where she comes from, you must know to whom she is reporting.”
The bell rang for the end of the lesson. Overhead and all around came the elephantine sounds of hundreds of students on the move.
“It says here she’s given you detention every evening this week, staring tomorrow,” Professor McGonagall said, looking down at the note again.
“All week?” Heather asked horrified.
“But, Professor couldn’t you-?”
“No, I couldn’t,” said Professor McGonagall flatly.
“She is your teacher and has every right to give you detention. You will both go to her room at five o’ clock tomorrow for the first one. Just remember: Tread carefully around Dolores Umbridge.”
“But we were telling the truth!” Heather snapped, “Voldemort’s back, you know he is, Professor Dumbledore knows he is-”
“For heavens sake, Smith!” said McGonagall, straitened her glasses angrily (shad had winced horribly when she had used Voldemort’s name). “Do you really think this is about truth or lies? It’s about keeping your heads down and your tempers under control!”
She stood up, nostrils wide and mouth very thing, and they stood too.
“Have another biscuit,” she said irritably, thrusting the tin at him.
“No, thanks,” they said coldly.
“Don’t be ridiculous,” she snapped.
Harry took one but Heather refused, “Thanks,” he said grudgingly.
“Did either of you listen to Dolores Umbridge’s speech at the start-of-term feast?”
“Yeah,” said Harry. “Yeah….she said…progress will be prohibited or…well it meant that….that the Ministry of Magic is trying interfere at Hogwarts.”
“I tuned her out,” Heather said being arrogantly honest. “But Kira did tell me that it’s bluntly what she said, the Ministry is interfering.”
“Well, I’m glad you listen to Hermione Granger and Kira Wong at any rate. One thing I do encourage is you both, stick together, its best to keep close in these times.” said she and pointed him out of her office. “Not you Smith, you stay.”
Harry walked out of the door and it closed, Heather stood standing at her desk, wondering what would happen.
“Sit, Smith,” Heather sat down, McGonagall strode around her desk again and sat down. “Professor Flitwick told me about the happenings of your first evening here. Padma, Lisa, Mandy as well as others have had their memory modified. Dumbledore has been notified of it as well as Remus.”
“Wha-what?” Heather asked rather shocked.
“None of the students who have heard or seen you in your Animagus form will remember it.” she said, and then looked at her sternly. “Honestly, Smith, what were you thinking? That power is a protection to all wizards who have it, registered or not. It was irresponsible and reckless, Miss Wong has also notified Professor Dumbledore and he explained the circumstances to her.”
“Circumstances?” Heather asked.
“We don’t want to register you, Heather, by all means. It seems almost cruel to expose you in that way. But by the behavior you have exhibited the other night it seems you could give a darn whether you exposed or not. The circumstances are if another incident like that arises you will be registered, not questions asked.” she stood now, looking at Heather. “As I said before, this a time for keeping your head down and your temper in check. I have a great hunch that Remus will contact you in one way or another,” Heather looked up to her hopefully. “No, Smith, I will not tell you where he is, though I think you already know.”
Heather sighed, “Yes, ma’am.”
“As I said Smith, keep your head down, listen to your friends.” she said, Heather stood with her and walked out of her office.
Heather looked up into the busy hallway and saw Kira and Isaac standing on the other side. Kira grinned at her as she walked across through the students tot hem, Heather grinned back before saying sheepishly: “Sorry, you know, for everything.”
Kira’s grin widened, “Happens to the best of us, eh?”
Heather hugged her as they set off to the Great Hall for Dinner, it wasn’t as pleasant experience the news of Heather and Harry’s shouting match with Umbridge spread fast. Whispers erupted all around her as she sat eating; she knew Harry was probably going through the same. Heather could hear them all with her hearing, but even the ones who at times tried to hide it from her didn’t’ seem to be trying to hard.
“They say they saw Cedric Diggory murdered…”
“She says Harry dueled with You-Know-Who…”
“Come off it…”
“Who do they think they’re kidding?”
Heather sighed and set down her fork and knife, her plate half finished she left the Great Hall. Just a few steps outside was Harry, Ron, and Hermione, she turned to her and beckoned her closer.
“The thing is, Harry, I’m not sure they did,” said Hermione grimly.
Heather knew what they were talking about, it was about the whole school believing the first day then turning on them the next.
“What d’you mean, you’re not sure they believed Dumbledore?” Harry asked.
“Look, you don’t understand what it was like after it happened, neither of you do.” she said quietly. “You arrived back in the middle of the lawn clutching Cedric’s dead body…the cup…None of us saw what happened in the maze…We just have Dumbledore’s word for it that You-Know-Who had come back and killed Cedric and fought you.”
“Which is the truth!” said Harry loudly.
“Yes, it is!” Heather snapped at him. “But they weren’t there Harry, they can’t imagine because they haven’t seen it. They didn’t experience what we did, have you heard of the phrase seeing is believing, of which most of us live by?”
“That’s what I am saying!” Hermione said wearily. “I know it’s the truth, Harry, so will you please stop biting my head off? It’s just that before the truth could sink in, everyone went home for the summer, where they spent two months reading about how you’re a nutcase and Dumbledore’s gone senile!”
Heather departed from them down a corridor as they went to the Gryffindor common room through the moving stairs.
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