Chapter 20 : Reactions
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So she waited, laying in her bed wondering if and how much Lupin knew about Umbridge’s teachings. But also another just as important issue plagued her mind, the kiss she exchanged with Isaac. Of course she thought it wonderful, but is also felt overwhelming at a time like this. The hours past as she sat there, rays of sunshine falling through the misty windows making blurred shapes upon the ground. It was then the door to Madam Pomfrey’s office open, she stopped at her bed.
“Smith, you’re up early,” she took out her wand and waved it over Heather.
Suddenly through the room echoed Heather’s heart beat, it was a rapid thud-thud, thud-thud.
“You see this was your heart beat four days ago,” said the nurse and waved her wand into the air, the echo increased at a frightening rate then silence.
“I-I died?” Heather gasped.
“No, your heart failed, which is why you slipped into a coma. But it seems to have caught up and rested now. I implore upon you, Smith, get exactly five hours of sleep or more. Any less and it could kill you.” She said sternly and gave her a goblet.
She went bustling on, Heather looked into the goblet of liquid before shrugging and drank it. Heather gagged and spewed the potion over the side of her bed.
“Yuck!” she gasped, wiping her lips.
“Scourgify, here let me have that,” Madam Pomfrey said, the potion on the floor had cleaned and her took the goblet from her. “From Pepper-up potion to a strengthening solutions vampires half or whole won’t tolerate them.”
“Why?” Heather asked, trying to get the taste from her mouth.
“No ones really sure,” she said, “many wizard medical practitioners and healers think it’s similar to the allergic reaction to garlic or blood.”
As she walked away with the goblet the two oak doors opened and Kira, Isaac and Neville strode in.
“Heather!” Kira squealed and ran to her bed hugging her. “You’re awake!”
“Yes, I am.” Heather said, Kira let go and she was met by Isaac’s arms.
“Ugh!” he said, “You smell awful, what have you been drinking? Ouch!”
“Isaac!” Kira snapped, bunching him in the arm.
“What, can’t you smell it?”
“She can’t, you and I can’t tolerate strengthening potions, so it smells and tastes fowl to us. She can so it’s no difference to her or Neville.” Heather told him.
“Oh…Ouch!” he yelped as Heather punched him. “What was that for?”
“For being rude,” Heather said with a smirk and Kira smiled. “So where is Remus?”
“He left to go back to his job.” Kira said pointedly.
“Oh, right,” Heather said getting it. “does he know about my injury?”
“Yes and no,” Isaac said, seemingly trying to differ if Heather meant her fainting or her hand.
“I think we have bigger problems though,” Neville said, assuming Heather’s fainting was her injury. He pulled the prophet from his pocket and gave it to her and she read the front page.
MINISTRY SEEKS EDUCATION REFORM
DOLORES UMBRIDGE APPOINTED FIRST EVER “HIGH INQUISITOR”
In a surprise move last night the Ministry of Magic passed new legislation giving itself an unprecedented level of control at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. ‘The minister has been growing uneasy about the goings-on at Hogwarts for some time,’ said Junior Assistant to the Minister, Percy Weasley. ‘He is now responding to concerns voiced by anxious parents, who feel the school may be moving a direction they do not approve.’ This is not the first time in recent weeks Fudge has used new laws to effect improvements at the Wizarding school. As recently as August 30th Education Decree-Twenty-two was passed, to ensure that, in the event of the current headmaster being unable to provide a candidate for a teaching post, the Ministry should select and appropriate person. ‘That’s how Dolores Umbridge came to be appointed to the teaching staff at Hogwarts,’ said Weasley last night. ‘Dumbledore couldn’t find anyone’s o the Minister put in Umbrige and of course, she’s been an immediate success-’
“Immediate success my arse!” Heather cursed then looked up. “High Inquisitor?”
“Read, there’s more,” Kira said.
‘-and immediate success, totally revolutionizing the teaching of Defense Against the Dark Arts and providing the Minister with on-the-ground feedback about what’s really happening at Hogwarts.’ It is this last function that the Ministry has now formalized with the passing of Educational Decree Twenty-three, which creates the new position of ‘Hogwarts High Inquisitor. ‘This is an exciting new phase in the Minister’s plan to get rips with that some are calling the “falling standards” at Hogwarts,’ said Weasley. ‘The Inquisitor will have powers to inspect her fellow educators and make sure that t hey are coming up to scratch. Professor Umbridge has been offered this position in addition to her own teaching post, and we are delighted to say that she has accepted.’
The Ministry’s new moves have received enthusiastic support from parents of students at Hogwarts. ‘I feel much easier in my mind now that I know that Dumbledore is being subjected to fair and objective evaluation,’ said Mr. Lucius Malfoy, 41, speaking form his Wiltshire mansion last night. ‘Many of us with our children’s best interest at heart have been concerned about some of Dumbledore’s eccentric decisions in the last few years and will be glad to know that the Ministry is keeping an eye on the situation.’ Among those ‘eccentric decisions’ are undoubtedly the controversial staff appointments previously described in this newspaper which have included the hiring of werewolf Remus Lupin, half-giant Rubeus Hagrid, and delusional ex-Auror ‘Mad-eye’ Moody.
Rumors abound, of course, that Albus Dumbledore, once Supreme Mugwump of the International Confederation of Wizards and Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot, is no longer up to the task of managing the prestigious school of Hogwarts. ‘I think the appointment of the Inquisitor is a first step toward ensuring that Hogwarts has a headmaster in whom we can all repose confidence,’ said Ministry insider last night. ‘Wizengamot elders Griselda Marchbanks and Tiberius Ogden have resigned in protest at the introduction of the post of Inquisitor to Hogwarts. ‘Hogwarts is a school, not an outpost of Cornelius Fudge’s office,” said Madam Marchbanks. ‘This is a further disgusting attempt to discredit Albus Dumbledore.’
Heather sighed and let the paper fall to her lap, there is was, that is why they were stuck with Umbrige. The Minister of Magic passed and Education Decree and forced her onto the school and everyone else.
“Wait until she inspects Professor McGonagall,” Heathers said and grinned. “She won’t know what hit her.”
Heather was released that morning and ate dinner with her friends, their classes were not inspected however. She wasn’t in double potions as Heather arrived after Transfiguration, she wondered what Trelawney’s class would be like.
“The general standard of this homework was abysmal. Most of you would have failed had this been your examination. I expect to see a great deal more effort for this week’s essay on the various varieties of venom antidotes, or I shall have to start handing out detentions to those dunces who get D’s.”
Heather’s moonstone essay had a dark black A’s scratched upon it, she looked to Isaac who winked at her. Kira had an A as well but Neville had a D, Kira was trying the best she could to help him understand.
“We’ll practice more tonight,” Kira said reassuringly, “You won’t fail,”
“Thanks,” Neville said dejectedly still reading it over to see what he did wrong.
“Thanks for this,” Heather said, lifting her paper to Isaac as they sat down for lunch.
“My pleasure,” he said.
Heather smiled, he was brave that night but now as shy as a lamb, she leaned over and kissed him on the cheek. He gave a sort of crooked smile before they went back to lunch, this happiness was short lived though. Just as lunch ended she and Isaac received by owl two parchments that said they’re detentions for disorderly conduct in the halls was to be tomorrow.
Heather and Isaac were now in Divination, he trying to fill out the last page secretly in the back of class before it started. The class was talking cheerily as Trelawney wafted about handing out Dream Oracles. It was then Heather saw her, Professor Umbridge walked though the door and everyone fell silent. Professor Trelawney looked around at the sudden silence and nodded curtly to her question of a note holding the date and time of her inspection.
Umbridge sat just inches behind Professor Trelawney in a large armchair, scratching upon a clipboard as she taught class. Heather put the copy of The Dream Oracle upon her desk open and watched Umbridge as she scratched further notes upon her clipboard.
“There almost to Ron and Harry, how’d think Neville held up?” Isaac asked.
“Don’t know, you do you have a dream?” Heather asked
“Yeah, but I’m no so sure I want to share it with her in the room.” Isaac said.
Heather didn’t hear the last bit of his rant because she could feel a presence near her and it scared her. It was demanding and stern, very angry and upset about something, making her feel uneasy. But she couldn’t trace it to anyone in the room, it was just there is was almost like it was her. She then realized it was her, it was with her in her mind, she was being watched and she took a large intake of breath.
“Heather?” she could hear Isaac faintly.
Heather grasped his hand and clung to his consciousness, she could feel his concern drive away the presence.
“Help me,” she hissed to him.
Isaac seemed to understand completely and took both her hands, sudden he was there, almost like a hero coming in on a white stead. The angry presence left and lifted from her, it was only her and him now, a wall protecting them both. Slowly but surely it faded, the protection gone as well as the presence and nothing more but her and her own mind.
“What was that?” he asked
“You felt it too?” she asked.
“It was you,” Isaac said, “but it wasn’t…something was watching you or trying to.”
“What do you mean?” she asked.
“I’ll tell you later,” he said letting go of her hands.
It was just then Professor Umbridge asked for a prediction from Professor Trelawney. Heather felt sympathy for her, she could barely protect herself she didn’t even know if she could predict something.
“The Inner Eye does not See upon command!” she said in scandalized tones.
“I see,” said Professor Umbridge softly, making yet another note on her clipboard.
“I-but-but…wait!” she said suddenly, in an attempt at her usual ethereal voice, though the mystical effect was ruined somewhat by the way it was shaking with anger. “I…I think I do see something…something that concerns you…Why, I sense something…something dark…some grave peril…” she pointed a shaking finger at Umbridge who rose her eyes raised blandly. “I am afraid….I am afraid that you are in grave danger!”
“Right,” she said softly, scribbling on her clipboard once more. “Well, if that’s really the best you can do…”
She turned away, leaving Professor Trelawney standing rooted to the spot, her chest heaving. Heather looked sideways to Isaac, she had always though Trelawney an old fraud but now with her new sense of things she could feel the vagueness of Occumlens coming off her. Though it was dull and not well exercised it was there, whether it be true or not they loathed Umbridge as much as she did and was on her side.
“Well?” she said, snapping her long fingers under Harry’s nose, uncharacteristically brisk. “Let me see the start you’ve made on your dream diary, please.”
She was in a bad mood all day, after reading Harry’s dream at the top of her voice all of which apparently foretold a gruesome and early death. All the while, Professor Umbridge stood a few feet away, making notes on that clipboard, an when the bell rang she descended the silver ladder first so that she was waiting for them all when they reached their Defense Against the Dark Arts lesson ten minutes later.
Kira had departed for charms class, Isaac still wouldn’t explain what had happened and what he did to help her in Divination. Every time she asked he would either shake his head or say ‘later, I promise’ and continue his work.
Umbridge’s appearances continued through the day, in each class she seemed to want to bring down the teacher. Almost all said though that Dumbledore was a great headmaster and was running the school wonderfully. Heather and Isaac’s detention were set on the same date with Harry’s. They were all set to lines, but one thing Heather noticed is that Isaac’s had didn’t rip open with his writing. Harry’s hand now looked worse than when it had started, Heather’s was as well, it now refused to heal over.
“Bye, Harry,” Heather said
“Goodnight, Harry,” Isaac said
“Night, guys,” he said, as they departed, Harry’s bleeding hand wrapped in his scarf.
Heather’s wasn’t quite as bad but still she bandaged it and kept it out of sigh frequently. It was that night, nearly midnight in the common room and she sit with Kira and Isaac around the fire speculating.
“Here, Hermione is giving this to Harry, his is more severe but it should help you too.” Isaac said setting down a bowl of yellow liquid. “it’s a solution of strained and pickled murlap tentacles, it should help.”
Heather submerged her hand in the liquid and sighed, the persistent throb went away and the sting on her skin disappeared.
“Thank you,” Heather said.
“We told Lupin,” Kira said, “but haven’t heard from him or anyone else since.”
“There’s probably not much he can do,” Heather said, really hoping that was the case.
“Maybe there’s something we can do,” Isaac said. “we’re not learning anything, she’s an awful woman.”
“We could turn her office black…” Heather said grinning.
“No, we need something permanent,” he said grinning. “But really, I mean we aren’t learning anything in that class, just writing down a chapter.”
“What do you have in mind?” Kira asked.
“Well, it’s Hermione actually, she approached me a few days ago, while Heather was still unconscious. What if we did it ourselves?” he said.
“Do it ourselves, you mean teach ourselves?” Heather asked.
“Extra work?” Kira asked, “No! I can’t and we would need more people Neville can barely handle what Snape has us on now.”
“We just need to practice, nothing from the books we need to learn physically how to do the spells.” Isaac said. “We would need a teacher, though, someone to correct us and help us.”
“If you’re talking about Lupin there’s no way, he’s too involved with the Order right now. I can barely get a hold of him,” Heather said
“No, we aren’t talking about Lupin,” Isaac said, “We’re talking about you and Harry.”
“Us?” Heather gaped at him. “Why us? If you haven’t noticed Isaac I’m not all that special, I’m failing potions and almost everything else!”
“But you’re the best in school at Transfiguration you mastered it in practically one year. Harry has learned the Patronus from Lupin, you and I are vampires we have a wealth of knowledge available.” Isaac said
“You do, but I don’t, I didn’t even know my heart could stop!” Heather said. “Isaac, Harry and I are barely keeping out of detention, where do you expect we teach ourselves, speaking of which who would we be teaching?”
“We’re not sure yet, but think Heather, in your third year you saved Harry and Hermione’s life by taking on a werewolf. You escaped Voldemort with Harry and challenged your father. You’re a master at Occlumens!”
“Isaac!” Heather snapped, “Those things are luck, I was nearly killed by Lupin and Harry did most of the work escaping in our fourth year. I barely challenged my father by running then tripped and broke my arm, barely heroic. I was born with Transfiguration and Occlumens, I know nothing of the subjects!”
Isaac grinned, “That’s just it Heather, who better to teach us than someone who has been there? You were born with those powers and have explored them, help others to do so.”
Heather sighed, here they sat around her, her friends who fully understood that they knew absolutely nothing of what they were facing. But in this recognition they still wanted to fight, but they couldn’t do it alone, that they needed help.
“I will think about it,” Heather said, “just let me do that,”
“That’s all we ask,” Isaac said.
“I think you would be a great teacher!” Kira chimed in, “You’re the best at Transfiguration and even if you’re not the best in Divination you know more than Trelawney does.”
It was two whole weeks before Isaac brought up the subjects once more of the outside teaching of Defense Against the Dark Arts. They were now heading toward the library, each in need of research for three different classes.
“So have you thought about our suggestion?” Isaac asked.
“I have,” Heather said, “how couldn’t I have? With Umbridge teaching…”
“And?” Kira asked.
Heather sighed, “You both know what I said about those things being luck, it won’t be easy.”
“We know that, Heather,” Kira said, “You’ve told us, we weren’t there we don’t understand fully but to an extent.”
“But you must understand,” Isaac said, “you’re gifted, Heather, you can’t deny that.”
“If you can get something together, but I don’t want to be alone. Only if Harry, Hermione and Ron are in on it. Even then, who would want to be taught by us, two nutters one whose half vampire and an heir to a death eater?”
“Quite a few people actually, Hermione and I have thought about spreading the idea around to those who were interested. They could meet us in the village at the first Hogsmead weekend in October.”
Heather nodded and grinned, “Okay, I’ll help, but it won’t be easy.”
“We don’t want or expect it to be,” Kira said, as she pushed open the doors to the library.
That weekend they made their way through the village of Hogsmead, past Zonko’s and the post office room which owls issued at regular intervals and turned up a side street at the top of which stood a small inn. Inside the Hogs Head they sat with Hermione, Ron and Harry who had ordered butterbeers.
“So who did you say is supposed to be meeting us?” Harry asked.
“Just a couple of people,” Hermione said, checking her watch and then looked anxiously toward the door with Isaac. “I told them to be here about now and I’m sure they all know where it is-oh look, this might be them now-”
First came Neville with Dean and Lavender who were closely followed by Parvati and Padma Patil with Cho and one of her usually giggling girlfriends, then Luna Lovegood; then Katie Bell, Alicia Spinnet, and Angelina Johnson, Colin and Dennis Creevey, Ernie Macmillan, Justin FinchFletchley, Hannah Abbot, and a Hufflepuff girl with a long plait down her back whose name Heather didn’t know. Anthony Goldstein, Michael Corner and Terry Boot walked in closely followed by Ginny and a skinny blond boy with an upturned nose from the Hufflepuff Quidditch team. The last to walk in was Fred, George and Lee Jordan whom Heather had seen outside Zonko’s joke shop.
Heather ribbed Isaac and hissed, “How big is this class?”
“We-well, between myself and Hermione…ahem…” he said quickly as everyone sat down.
“Hi,” said Fred, reaching the bar first to a very shocked barman, having never seen his pub this full. “Could we have…twenty-eight butterbeers, please?”
The barman glared at him for a moment, then, throwing down his rag irritably as though he had been interrupted in something very important, he started passing up dusty butterbeers from under the bar.
“Cheers,” said Fred, hading them out. “Cough up, everyone, I haven’t got enough gold for all of these…”
Heather passed her coins up to Fred for her drink and took one passed down to her by Kira. She watched as everyone else scrambled for money and looked to Harry who had her same feeling upon his face ‘would they be teaching all these people?’. Neville sat next to Kira and greeted her with a kiss on the cheek before beaming at Harry and saying ‘Hi,’.
“Er,” said Hermione, her voice slightly higher than usual out of nerves. “Well-er-hi.”
“Well…er…well, you know why you’re here. Erm…well, Harry here, had the idea-I mean” At a shooting glare from Harry, Isaac took over.
“Hermione and I came up with this idea, that it might be good if we started learning to defend ourselves and not just reading about it. As you all know Umbridge is succeeded at being a horrible teacher.” he said and looked to Hermione.
“Right, nobody could call her lessons and effects Defense Against the Dark arts,” Hermione said, now more confident receiving a “Hear, hear,” from Anthony Goldstein. “Well, Isaac and I thought it would be good if we, well, took matters into our own hands.” She glanced at Harry and Isaac to Heather before continuing. “And by that we mean learning how to defend ourselves properly, not just theory just the real spells-”
“You want to pass your Defense Against the Dark Arts O.W.L. too though, I bet?” said Michael Corner, who was watching her closely.
“Of course I do,” she said at once. “But I want more than that, I want to be properly trained in Defense because…because…” she took a great breath and finished. “Because Lord Voldemort back.”
The reaction around the table was immediate and predictable. Cho’s friend shrieked and slopped butterbeer down herself, Terry Boot gave a kind of involuntary twitch, Padma Patil shuddered, and Neville gave an odd yelp that he managed to turn into a cough. All of them, however, looked between herself and Harry eagerly.
“Well…that’s the plan anyway,” said Hermione. “If you want to join us, we need to decide how we’re going to-”
“Where’s the proof You-Know-Who’s back?” said the blond Hufflepuff player in a rather aggressive voice.
“Well, Dumbledore believes it-” Hermione began.
“You mean, Dumbledore believes them,” said the blonde boy nodding to her and Harry.
“Who are you?” Ron and Isaac asked rudely.
“Zacharias Smith,” said the boy, “and I think we’ve got the right to know exactly what makes them You-Know-Who’s back.”
“Look,” said Hermione, intervening swiftly, “that’s really not what this meeting was suppose to be about-”
“Wait, Hermione,” Heather said, she then realized why so many were there. “What makes us say You-Know-Who’s back?” she asked, looking strait at him. “Dumbledore told the whole school what happened last year, and if you didn’t believe him, you don’t believe us.”
“We aren’t going to waste and afternoon trying to convince anyone.” Harry said.
Heather sat back and watched the whole group as they held their breath as they talked. Heather could feel the barman trying to listening even, he was wiping the same glass with the dirty rag making it steadily dirtier.
“All Dumbledore told us last year was that Cedric Diggory got killed by You-Know-Who an that you brought Diggory’s body back to Hogwarts. He didn’t give us details, he didn’t’ tell us exactly how Diggory got murdered, I think we’d all like to know-”
“We aren’t going to discuss that, we don’t want to.” Heather said
“If you’ve come to hear exactly what it looks like when Voldemort murders someone we can’t help you,” Harry said.
“If that’s all you’re here for you might as well leave,” Heather said, trying to stomach her anger.
But none left their seats, not even Zacharias Smith, though he continued to gaze intently at them.
“So,” Isaac said. “like Hermione was saying…if you want to learn some defense, then we need to work out how we’re going to do it, how often we’re going to meet, and where we’re going to-”
“Is it true,” interrupted a girl with the long plait down her back, looking at Harry, “that you can produce a Patronus?”
There was a murmur of interest around the group at this.
“Yeah,” Harry said, Heather could feel the defiance ebb off him.
“A corporeal Patronus?”
He asked briefly if the girl new Madam Bones and she replied that she was her Aunt; she asked again and he answered yes.
“Blimey, Harry!” said Lee, looking deeply impressed. “I never knew that!”
This went on, everyone expelling the stories they had heard to see if they were true, all were. Heather felt Harry’s agitation slip away and a pleased feeling about himself fell around him as he smiled.
“And nobody helped you get rid of those demeanors this summer,’ said Susan Bones.
“No,” said Harry, “no, okay, I know I did bits of it without help, but the point I’m trying to make is-”
“Are you trying to weasel out of showing us any of this stuff?” said Zacharias Smith.
“Look, do you want proof of what I and Harry can teach you?” Heather asked.
“Yeah, what about you?” asked Cho, “You’re the best in Transfiguration,”
“Fine,” Heather said, she sat up straighter and smiled at everyone around.
For a moment no one noticed but predictably as everyone stared at her there was a collective gasp. Heather had transformed her ears into that of a wolf and they were gone before they were seen by others. Many around them let a glance slip at what the shock was about but upon seeing nothing they turned away. Heather smiled again giving a wink before, another spoke.
“Well, we’ve all turned up to learn from his as well, and now he’s telling us he can’t really do any of it,” he said, Heather sighed and sat back in her chair folding her arms.
“Would you like us to clean out your ears for you?” inquired George, pulling a long and lethal-looking metal instrument from inside one of the Zonko’s bag.
“Or any part of your body, really, we’re not fussy where we stick this,” said Fred.
“Yes, well,” said Hermione hastily, “moving on…the point is, are we agreed we want to take lessons from Harry and Heather?”
With this they made a date of once a week, not interfering with Quidditch of course. Hermione took out a piece of paper and quill, everyone wrote down their names, Zacharias signed last. Everyone left in twos and threes, she Kira, Isaac and Neville one of the last few to leave.
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