Heather followed quickly down the halls after Professor Dumbledore. The whole way a soft sobbing could be heard, growing louder as they went. When they got close enough the voice of Professor Umrbidge echoed through the hall just beyond the front oak doors.
“Oh really, Professor McGonagall?” she said in a deadly voice. “And your authority for that statement is…?”
“That would be me,”
Dumbledore pushed open the oak front doors, Heather stayed behind, watching as students scuffled out of the way. Heather listened as Umrbidge went on about her authority and the decrees, explaining why she was dismissing Professor Trelawney. Dumbledore to Heather’s surprise agreed whole heartedly, but he clarified that she did not have the power to banish them from the castle.
“No-no, I’ll g-go, Dumbledore! I sh-shall l-leave Hogwarts and s-seek my fortune elsewhere-”
“No,” said Dumbledore sharply, “it is my wish that you remain, Sibyll.”
He requested Professor McGonagall to take Professor Trelawney back upstairs; Professor Sprout and Flitwick followed in suit with her luggage. Professor Umrbidge stood stock-still, staring at Dumbledore who continued to smiling benignly.
“And what,” she whispered, “are you going to do with her once I appoint a new Divination teacher who needs her lodgings?”
Heather smiled, she knew with a centaur as the new teacher he wouldn’t need her lodgings, he had hooves and probably isn’t the best ladder climber. Behind her Heather heard him approach as Professor Dumbledore introduced him. There was a shocked murmur around the hall and those nearest the door hastily moved even farther backward.
“This is Firenze,” said Dumbledore happily to a thunderstruck Umrbidge. “I think you’ll find him suitable.”
The hall dissipated quickly as Umrbidge strode away from Dumbledore, he turned away as well and made eye contact with Heather and she followed in suit. In his office he offered Heather a seat, paced a moment, then sat opposite her.
“What did you see, Heather?” he asked.
“Snape, in my front yard the very moment m mother was murdered.” Heather said bitterly. “Why did no one tell me!”
“I did not think it would come to concern you.” he said calmly.
“Concern me?” Heather asked, standing up now. “He could have saved her! But he didn’t, he stood there and watched!”
“Professor Snape was on the wrong side, on the verge of the right. It was he who contacted me first of her murder.”
“No, Remus did, he found her then….then…contacted you by Floo…how do I know that?”
“Occlumency opens our minds to pasts unknown,” Dumbledore said, staring at her with calm blue eyes. “Snape was acting upon orders that night, if he failed it would have been his life.”
“Better his life than my mothers…” Heather whispered.
“Better her life than yours,” Dumbledore said knowingly.
“Heather, do you know why Remus found you locked in your room?” he asked.
“Professor Snape put a locking charm upon it, your father merely thought it was your mothers protection and made a quick escape.” Dumbledore explained. “It was your mothers wish.”
“How did he know that?” Heather asked, “He wasn’t in the Order then you said that yourself and she didn’t associate with my father either.”
“Professor Snape was once a great friend of your fathers,” Dumbledore said.
“I know…they played pranks Remus said, like Sirius had done.” Heather sighed, sitting down. “I don’t wish to return.”
“it is your choice, but I, Remus, and Sirius strongly urge you both to continue.”
Heather sat silent for a moment staring at the floor, she heard Dumbledore stand and come to her side. She looked up, no warmth came from him, his emotions seemed almost none existent.
“Heather, I beseech you, do not decide now. Rest and get a good meal, then decide.”
Heather nodded and left his office, but had no intention of taking his advice. On the contrary she planned to do the completely opposite, for the first time Heather didn’t trust Dumbledore or his judgement. She knew if she couldn’t talk to Remus she could go to the next person who knew her mother just as well. Heather went back to her common room and snuck upstairs, changing quickly she took her wand and transformed slipping back out unnoticed.
She made her way to the courtyard and to the Hogsmeade trail’; once there she stood by the road and stuck out her wand. At first Heather thought it hadn’t worked then ‘BANG!’, she fell back and found herself at the wheels of the Knight Bus.
“Where would ye’ be off ter’-hey, ain’t you a student?” asked Stan Shunpike.
“No,” growled Heather and stood giving him money. “Number 12 Grimmuald Place.”
Stan took her money and stopped questioning what looked like an out of sorts vampire women. About half an hour later Heather stood between number eleven and thirteen Grimmuald Place, at a loss about how to get in. She had never really seen how to get in the front door when there, they always Flooed or just walked out. After a few moments and good many charms she gave and exasperated sigh and rapped her wand roughly on the door. Then a loud metallic clicks came to her heard and what sounded like a chain came from the door and it unlocked.
“Yes!” she said and walked inside.
Heather closed the door behind her and began down the hall that was just as dark and dim as it was when she was here.
“Hello?” she called into the house.
The house was silent until a low growl came from behind her, she dropped her wand as her hair stood on end. Whirling around she found Sirius as a huge black dog, he barked and she jumped before clutching her heart in relief as he transformed.
“Heather, what in Merlin’s name are you doing here?”
“I-I-” Heather began.
“Do you think this wise? With Umrbidge there, you could get caught!” he snapped.
“What were you thinking?”
“I was thinking I could talk to you!” Heather snapped. “That maybe you could explain to me why Snape was at my mothers d-death!”
“Heather…” Sirius sighed.
“I can’t write Remus, it would get intercepted by her. Besides its not like I would get a reply.”
“Come on,” he said and led her to the kitchen.
“Why couldn’t Snape stop him? He seemed to realize his actions quickly afterward.” Heather asked, accepting a cup of tea from Sirius.
“I never knew Snape’s intentions, but he saved your life. You father’s true intentions were sinister.” Sirius told her.
“I don’t want to go back to lessons,” Heather sniffed, “not with him.”
“I think you should,” Sirius told her, “those lessons protect you and Harry.”
“No offence, Sirius, but I’m already much more skilled than Harry.” Heather said, smiling.
Sirius laughed, “I know, Snape has told the Order that, multiple times. As a vampire you are more gifted in the skill, it’s in your blood.”
“But I still have to go back?”
“No one is making you, Heather, though I know Remus wouldn’t be too happy about it.” He told her.
“Remus is never here,” she said bitterly. “How would he know?”
Sirius stood up and sat down next to her then lifted her chin to him. “Remus would know because I will tell him.”
“How can you?” she asked. “I can never get to him at all.”
“I have my ways, you know under the table,” Sirius told her knowingly.
Heather sighed and shook her head. “I can’t go back, I’m not sure if I can even look at him.”
“If you want my opinion, I don’t blame you. I never thought it right for Snape to be so privileged.” Sirius said. “I’m not sure why Dumbledore trusts him."
“I won’t go back,” Heather said definitively.
“Okay, but you need to back to Hogwarts before you and I both get caught.” he told her.
Heather nodded, “Are you going to tell Remus?”
Sirius smiled, “Well, not this second…let’s say.”
Heather grinned and hugged him, “Thanks, Sirius,”
“You’re welcome, but you have to leave, anyone can come here at any moment.” Sirius said.
Heather nodded and made her way back to Hogwarts, this time Stan didn’t ask one questions, barely a ‘hello’ even. She go back to her common room safely and unnoticed by anyone and with just enough time for sleep. She didn’t go back to the lessons, though in Potions Snape seemed ruthless. But she didn’t care, she hadn’t gotten a disappointing letter form Remus, and Divination was almost fun in a way.
With Firenze teaching he seemed very easy-going and didn’t want to impress much of what was right and wrong on them. He had apparently been banished from his heard for taking the job and helping Dumbledore. Professor Umbridge seemed unaware of her escape although she was continually present at all of the Care of Magical Creatures classes, monitoring Hagrid.
Many students were cracking under the pressure of the up coming O.W.L. exam’s. But she, Kira, Isaac and Neville faired fine, reassured by Isaac who helped them, especially Neville, with their harder classes. The real escape for all of them was the D.A., Heather loved the satisfaction of seeing her friends learn and excel. Today they had finally gotten to Patronuses. Everyone was excited, including Heather, but, like Harry, she had to warn them not to expect much on their first try.
Heather turned to see a silver streak of smoke form into a humming bird.
“You too, Hermione!” called Harry as Hermione’s silver otter gambolled around the room.
Then the door of The Room of Requirement opened then closed again; Heather looked to the door, but there was no one there. The people nearest the door fell silent, she looked to Harry to see a house-elf tugging on his pant-leg. The Patronuses faded dimming the room as they listened to the out of breath elf.
“Harry Potter, sir…Dobby has come to warn you…but the house-elves have been warned not to tell…”
Heather jumped back as the elf ran head first at he wall. Harry seemed to react instinctively and went to catch him but the elf merely bounced off the stone, cushioned by his eight hats.
“What’s happened, Dobby?” Harry asked, grabbing the elf’s tiny arm and holding him away from anything with which he might seek to hurt himself.
“Harry Potter…she….she…” he hit himself strait in the nose with his fist that Harry seized too.
“Who’s ‘she’ Dobby?”
Heather turned to the door, taking in what the elf said as her stomach sank.
“Is she coming?”
“Yes, Harry Potter, yes!”
Heather whirled around at those words as Harry stood and they shouted orders to run in unison. Heather ran after Harry watching the others sprint out of sigh. The Owlerly was close, if she could transform and make it there-
She heard Harry fall but realized she had been missed and continued to run only making far enough to hear ‘Bang!’. Heather cried out only to be silenced by ropes as she fell to the ground.
“Good, find the other one, use chains if you must!”
Heather’s anger boiled over, they wouldn’t do that to Isaac, she wouldn’t let them. Her muffled yelled echoed down the hall as she broke free of the ropes and tried to rip the rest off of her.
That was the last thing she hard before the world around her went black. Umrbidge levitated Heather and took Harry by the arm and bustled down the hall. She didn’t not bother to knock at the polished door of Dumbledore’s office, but merely strode in.
“Dolores!” Professor McGonagall gasped and strode forward to Heather now laid on the floor.
“Well,” said Cornelius Fudge glaring at Harry with a kind of vicious satisfaction upon his face. “Well, well, well…”
“He was heading back to Gryffindor Tower. She probably to hide.” Umrbidge said excitement in her voice. “The Malfoy boy cornered them.”
“Did he, did he?” said Fudge appreciatively. “I must remember to tell Lucius. Well, Potter…I expect you know why you are here?”
“I be your pardon?” Fudge asked.
“You don’t know why you are here?” he asked again.
“No I don’t.”
“Neither of you, Smith?” he asked as McGonagall helped her up.
“Not presently, no,” Heather said glaring at him.
“No school rules, Ministry Decrees?”
“No, sir,” said Harry, Heather could feel the apprehension off of him.
“So it’s news to you, is it,” he asked angrily, “that an illegal student organization has been discovered within this school?”
“Yes, it is,” Harry said.
“Yes, sir,” Heather responded.
It was then Umbridge went to fetch their ‘witness’. There was a wait of several minutes in which nobody looked at each other, then Heather heard the footsteps come up the spiral stairs. Umbridge moved past them into the room, gripping by the shoulder Cho’s curly haired friend Marietta, who was hiding her face in her hands.
“Don’t be scared, dear, don’t’ be frightened,” said Professor Umrbidge softly, patting her on the back.
Heather glared at her and delved into her psyche, if she was frightened, Heather made sure she was the cause of it.
“Jolly good, jolly good!” said Fudge heartily. “Like mother, like daughter, eh? Well, come on, now, dear, look up, don’t be shy, let’s hear what you’ve got to- galloping gargoyles!”
Heather bit back a laugh at the sigh of Marietta. Her face, now hidden back under her robes, had the word ‘SNEAK’ written across it in close-set purple pustules. She refused to show her face so Umrbidge proceeded to tell what she had done. She gave Umrbidge a hint of the Room of Requirement but when spoke of a meeting the curse took over. With no counter jinx and Marietta refusing to speak they got nothing out of her.
“You will remember, Minister, that I sent you a report back in October that Potter and Smith had met in a number of fellow students in the Hog’s Head in Hogsmeade.”
“And what is your evidence for that?” cut in Professor McGonagall, still stood by Heather a firm grip on her shoulder.
“I have testimony from Willy Widdershins, Minerva, who happened to be in the bar at the time. He was heavily bandaged, it is true but his hearing was quite unimpaired,” said Umrbidge smugly. “He heard every word they said and hastened straight to the school to report to me-”
“Oh, so that’s why he wasn’t prosecuted for setting up all those regurgitating toilets!” said Professor McGonagall raising her eye brows. “What an interesting insight into our justice system!”
A portrait burst out on the wall, roaring that ion his day criminals were not fraternized with, but Dumbledore shushed him.
“The purpose of their meeting with these students,” continued Umrbidge, “was to persuade them to join an illegal society, whose aim was to learn spells and curses the Ministry has decided are inappropriate for school-age-”
“I think you’ll find you’re wrong there, Dolores,” said Dumbledore.
Heather stared at him. If that man, Widdershins, heard everything they were screwed. Apparently the Minister thought so as well as he urged Dumbledore to tell his ‘cock-and-bull’ story to save them. Percy Weasley laughed and Heather refrained from attaching his mind and un-hinging it if you will.
“Cornelius, I do not deny- and nor, I am sure, does Harry or Heather-that they were in the Hog’s Head that day, nor that they were trying to recruit students to a Defence Against the Dark Arts group. I am merely pointing out that Dolores is quite wrong to suggest that such a group was, at the time, illegal.”
It then hit Heather, the Decree came out two days after that, but even then how would he explain why they continued it. Umrbidge stepped in, agreeing with Heather’s thoughts. But Dumbledore countered asking if she had any evidence that these meetings did continue.
“Evidence?” repeated Umrbidge with that horrible wide toad-like smile. “Have you not been listening Dumbledore? Why do you think Miss Edgecombe is here?”
“Oh, can she tell us about six months worth of meetings?” said Dumbledore. “I was under the impression that she was merely reporting a meeting tonight.”
“Miss Edgecombe,” said Umrbidge, “tell us how long these meetings have been going on, dear, you can simply nod or shake your head, I’m sure that won’t make the spots worse. Have they been happening regularly over the last 6 months?”
Heather felt her heart skip a few beats, they were in too deep. But then she felt something odd as she looked to Marietta, she wasn’t the same, it was then she knew, her memory had been modified. Heather could have laughed at the bewilderment of Umrbidge and Fudge insisting that she didn’t understand the question. At one time Umrbidge seized Marietta, pulled her ace around to face her, and began shaking her very hard. Kingsley started forward and Umbridge leapt back from Marietta, waving her hands in the air as though they had been burned. Dumbledore was now on his feet, his wand raised.
“I cannot allow you to manhandle my students, Dolores,” he said, for the first time looking angry.
“You want to calm yourself, Madam Umrbidge,” said Kingsley in his deep, slow voice. “You don’t want to get yourself into trouble now.”
“No,” said Umrbidge breathlessly, glancing upward at him. “I mean yes-you’re right, Shacklebolt-I-I forget myself.”
Marietta was standing exactly where Umbridge had released her. She seemed undisturbed or to Heather unaware of Umbridges’ sudden attack. Heather glanced up at Shacklebolt, he gave her the smallest wink before resuming a watchful eye as Fudge spoke again.
“Dolores, the meeting tonight-the one we know definitely happened-”
She told him how often Marietta reported the meeting, she gather some ‘trustworthy’ students, so as to catch those in the meeting red-handed. She had an Inkling that they were warned and sent in Pansy Parkinson who found the charmed list of names.
“The moment I saw their names on the list, I knew what we were dealing with,” she said softly.
“See what they’ve named themselves?” said Fudge quietly. “Dumbledore’s Army.”
Dumbledore reached out and took the paper ready its heading an then he smiled.
“Well, the game is up,” he said simply, “would you like a written confession from the, Cornelius-or will a statement before these witnesses suffice?”
Heather saw McGonagall and Kingsley look at each other. There was fear in both faces.
“Statement?” Fudge said slowly. “What-I don’t-?”
“Dumbledore’s Army, Cornelius,” Dumbledore said, still smiling as he waved the list of names before Fudge’s face. “Not Potters Army or Smith’s Army. Dumbledore’s Army.”
Heather really anted to cry out and confess as Dumbledore turned himself in. He was taking the blame and with Marietta’s memory gone she agreed with him.
“NO!” shouted Harry.
Heather felt the atmosphere change as Kingsley flashed a look of warning at him. McGonagall widened her eyes threateningly but Harry ignored them.
“No- Professor Dumbledore!”
“Be quiet, Harry, or I am afraid you will have to leave my office,” said Dumbledore calmly.
Heather extended out to Harry and tapped into his conscious giving him a silent warning of ‘just wait and watch’. He glared at her and Heather stepped back, but in turn gave him a murderous glare.
“Ah,” said Dumbledore gently, “yes. Yes, I thought we might hit a little snag.”
“Snag?” said Fudge. “I see no sang, Dumbledore!”
“Well,” said Dumbledore apologetically, “I’m afraid I do.”
Heather had a vague idea of what Dumbledore was doing, escaping of course, but how? Kingsley was on his side, yes, but it seemed like a foolish act to try an escape with all these witnesses. Of course she and Harry could fight for him, but that didn’t seem to be his intentions.
“Don’t be silly, Dawlish,” said Dumbledore kindly. “I’m sure you are an excellent Auror, I seem to remember that you achieved ‘Outstanding’ in all your N.E.W.T.’s but if you attempt to -er- ‘bring me in’ by force, I will have to hurt you.”
“So,” sneered Fudge, “you intend to take on Dawlish, Shacklebolt, Dolores and myself single-handed, do you, Dumbledore?”
“Merlin’s beard, no,” he said smiling. “Not unless you are foolish enough to force me to.”
“He will not be single-handed!” said Professor McGonagall loudly, plunging her hand inside her robes.
“Oh yes he will, Minerva!” he said sharply. “Hogwarts needs you!”
“Enough of this rubbish!” said Fudge, pulling out his own wand. “Dawlish! Shacklebolt! Take him!”
A streak of silver light flashed around the room. There was a bang like a gunshot, and the floor trembled. A hand grabbed Heather by the arm and pulled her back as second silver flash went off- several of the portraits yelled, Fawkes screeched, and a cloud of dust filled the air. Coughing in the dust, Heather looked up to see Kingsley fall to the ground with a crash in front of her. She instinctively went forward but the hand on her arm grabbed her shoulder and pulled her back once more. There was a shriek and a thud and somebody cried ‘No!’ Then the sound of breaking glass, frantically scuffling footsteps, a groan-and silence.
Dust settled slowly to the floor, turning around Heather saw it was Dumbledore who had forced her out of harms way. Professor McGonagall had forced Harry and Marietta to the ground for safety as well. Dumbledore push Heather gently forward and across the room to them.
“Are you all right?” said Dumbledore.
“Yes!” replied McGonagall, getting up and dragging Harry and Marietta with her.
The dust was clearing. The wreckage of the office loomed into view: Dumbledore’s desk had been overturned, all of the spindly tables had been knocked to the floor, their silver instruments in pieces. Fudge, Umrbidge, Kingsley and Dawlish lay motionless on the floor. Fawkes the phoenix soared in circles above them, singing softly.
“Unfortunately, I had to hex Kingsley too, or it would have looked very suspicious,” said Dumbledore in a low voice. “He was remarkably quick on the uptake, modifying Miss Edgecombe’s memory like that while everyone as looking the other way-thank him for me, won’t you, Minerva?
“Now, they will all awake very soon and it will be best if they do not know what we had time to communicate you must act as though no time has passed, as though they were merely knocked to the ground, they will not remember-”
“Where will you go, Dumbledore?” whispered Professor McGonagall. “Grimmuald Place?”
“Oh no,” said Dumbledore with a grim smile. “I am not leaving to go into hiding. Fudge will soon wish he’d never dislodged me from Hogwarts, I promise you…”
“Professor Dumbledore…” Harry began.
Heather felt she probably shared the same guilt as Harry, they should have never started the D.A. in the first place. Now it was their fault that Dumbledore was leaving to save them from expulsion.
“Listen to me, Harry,” he said urgently, “you must study Occlumency as hard as you can, do you understand me? Do everything Professor Snape tells you and practice it particularly every night before sleeping so that you can close your mind to bad dreams-you will understand why soon enough, but you must promise me-”
The man called Dawlish was stirring. Dumbledore turned to Heather and held her shoulder firm.
“Heather, you must as well, do everything Professor Snape says. I do not care what Sirius told you, nor what you think is best. Go back to your lessons, that is not a request it’s an order.”
“Remember-close your mind-”
A moment before saying that he took Harry’s wrist and just as his fingers closed around it Heather felt anger boil next to her from Harry. It scared her, it was not a defiant anger but it felt dangerous, deadly even. It was gone the moment he let go, Fawkes circled the office and swooped love over him. Dumbledore released Harry, raised his hand, and grasped the phoenix’s long golden tail. There was a flash of fire and the pair of them had gone.
“Where is he?” yelled Fudge, pushing himself up from the ground, “Where is he?”
“I don’t know!” shouted Kinglsey, also leaping to his feet.
“Well, he can’t have Disapparated!” cried Umrbidge. “You can’t inside this school-”
“The stairs!” cried Dawlish, and he flung himself upon the door, wrenched it opened, and disappeared, followed closely by Kingsley and Umrbidge. Fudge hesitated, they got to his feet slowly, brushing dust from his front. There was a long painful silence.
“Well, Minerva,” said Fudge nastily, straining his torn shirtsleeve, “I’m afraid this is the end of your friend Dumbledore.”
“You think so, do you?” said Professor McGonagall scornfully
Fudge seemed to not hear her. He was looking around at the wrecked office. A few of the portrait hissed at him; one or two even made rude hand gestures.
“You’d better get those three off to bed,” said Fudge, looking back at Professor McGonagall with admissive nod to Harry, Heather and Marietta.
Heather felt dazed as she walked down the hall, wondering how clear her memory was about everything that had just happened. How had Dumbledore known she was at Grimmuald Place with Sirius? Will Remus know soon enough as well? It was then McGonagall stopped and said “I trust you two can find your way back, I shall have to escort Marietta back.”
As soon as they were alone, Harry asked, “Why did you do that?”
“Invade my mind or whatever, it’s not right.” Harry hissed.
“If I hadn’t you would have gotten Dumbledore into more trouble.” Heather snapped.
“Me? You agreed to the D.A. too don’t forget that!” he barked.
There was a long silence in which they just marched down the hall he then asked.
“When did you go see, Sirius, how?” he asked.
“It was that night, after out lesson when I found out about Snape. I went to talk to him…I can’t write Remus.” Heather explained.
“And he told you to quit?” he asked.
“I wish he would have told me that.” Harry said bitterly.
“It’s no use now, I’m going back.” Heather said.
They departed silently, Harry through the moving staircases and Heather down another all to the east tower. No one was awake, Heather knew the whole story would be around school by morning. with the ominous thought of Occlumency lessons and Dumbledore gone and Umrbidge looming over the school as they slept she tried to clear her mind and get some rest.