Disclaimer: the characters and settings in this story belong to J.K. Rowling, not me.
Chapter 13: Taking Charge
Hogsmeade weekend, the very sound of those two magical words made every student above second year jump with joy. The chance to escape from the school grounds, to go shopping at Honeydukes or Zonkos, the golden opportunity that only comes a few times a year. Harry couldn’t wait to get off of Hogwarts grounds and enjoy a butterbeer in the three broomsticks and some of his favorite candies at Honeydukes.
Then they came, Ron and Hermione cornered him in the common room on his way out and he sighed in impatience.
“We’re meeting up with everyone for the study group today, it would be a great help if you came along,” Hermione said eagerly, she was obviously expecting him to say yes.
“You want to start this study group; it would defeat the purpose if I showed up. Look, I think we can agree that people should join because they are genuinely interested in learning defensive magic, not because they want answers from me or a piece of my fame. If they still want to join after they know that I won’t be there, then they’re the people you should want in this group. I’m not saying I refuse to come to these meetings, though I doubt I’ll come to very many of them, I’m saying that you don’t need me and my name to start your study group and you shouldn’t be using it.”
“Oh, well, if you change your mind, we’re meeting in the Hog’s Head at ten.”
They let Harry walk away from them, he wasn’t going to go to this meeting and put himself on the spot.
“Harry!” he stopped at the sound of McGonagall calling his name and he made his way back through the crowd in the entrance hall to face the teacher and Prongs chirped a greeting at her, making her lips twitch in a smile.
“I’m afraid you won’t be able to go to Hogsmeade this time.”
“I don’t understand.”
“Both Dumbledore and your guardians have decided that the dangers are just too great to allow you to go there, you’ll be staying at Hogwarts until they decide otherwise.”
“But Professor, it’s Hogsmeade, they wouldn’t try something with so many people around, aren’t they trying to stay quiet now?”
“It wasn’t my decision Harry; you’ll have to talk to your guardians about this.”
Harry took in a deep breath and let it out slow to try and exhale his frustrations, he had been looking forward to this day all week and now it was ruined.
“Alright, thank you Professor.”
Harry left before he could feel any more of her sympathy and returned to the Gryffindor tower, passing Ron and Hermione on the way and ignoring them completely as he went in search of the mirror that Sirius had given him.
“Sirius,” he called when he had found it among his socks.
“Hello Harry, I’ve been expecting you to call.”
“Well, care to explain?”
“It’s just too dangerous for you right now, Remus and I agree that you’re safer at Hogwarts until this whole thing has been taken care of.”
“That will take years Sirius. With so many people around he won’t show himself, he hasn’t made a public move yet, right? He’s trying to stay hidden so that the Ministry won’t act until it’s too late and he’s won this war.”
“We understand where you’re coming from Harry, we really do, but we would just feel better knowing that you’re at Hogwarts where there are barriers rather than out in the open at Hogsmeade. I’m sorry kiddo; we aren’t going to change our mind in this matter.”
Harry stared into the mirror at his godfather for a moment before heaving a depressed sigh to emphasize how upset he was with this news. “If I don’t have your approval then I can’t leave, I suppose I’ll just have to finish off my homework alone in the library, on a Saturday.”
“Stop trying to make me feel guilty!”
“Not until it works!”
Harry grinned at his godfather, and got a grin in return and the two laughed for a minute but finally said their goodbyes and Harry stored his mirror away with his socks once more and he grabbed a bit of money from his coin stash and pocketed the coins, placing a spell so they didn’t jingle. With some wandless and silent magic the teen disappeared and became absolutely silent.
We are going to Hogsmeade? Prongs asked, he was excited and he shivered when Harry placed the spells on him too.
That’s right, if no one can hear us and no one can see us, then it’s the same as not having gone, right? We won’t be long, but I’m not going to stay coped up here all day.
Harry Jumped straight to the Shrieking Shack and from there made his way up to the Three Broomsticks for that butterbeer. Since no one could hear or see him it was easy to slip through the crowd of people and make his way to the counter where Madam Rosemerta was hastily serving everyone there. Without the ability to ask for what he wanted, Harry slipped past the counter and set the payment for his drink on the floor under the register and he grabbed up the bottle and turned it invisible at the same moment. After that he was gone again, heading out of the warm place and into the cold October air, taking occasional drinks of his butterbeer as he headed towards Honeydukes.
Let me try!
Harry laughed but tilted the bottle for Prongs to have a little of the warm drink as well.
I knew you would say that.
The same routine went for when he got his candy, the money was placed on the floor to make it seem as though it had been dropped and he pocketed his now invisible candy for later consumption, though he did allow Prongs to start nibbling on the sweet he had chosen. But with his errands over with and nowhere to go, it was perfect timing when Ron and Hermione passed by, their heads together as they headed towards the Hog’s Head. He had told them he wouldn’t be there, and to them, he wouldn’t be, but he couldn’t help wondering how well it would go, so he followed them, taking another swig of his drink.
Slipping into the bar was easy enough, he settled himself in a corner behind his two friends and waited and eventually people started to show up, mostly Gryffindors, but then some Hufflepuffs came and some Ravenclaws including Cho Chang and then all twenty eight people were there, twenty nine if Harry counted himself.
“Harry’s not here,” one boy, a Hufflepuff in Harry’s year stated it clearly as though it wasn’t already obvious enough.
“No he’s not. And if you came here just to see him then leave now,” Hermione countered, her voice commanding.
No one left.
She’s more commanding than I thought she would be, Prongs muttered.
Hermione is stronger than most people think, now we just have to wait and see if she can keep it up.
“You’re all here to learn proper defensive magic, as much as I’d rather not say it, our current teacher is lacking in this field and so I’ve taken it upon myself to try and prepare myself and anyone else who wants for the O.W.L tests and the real world.”
“What do you mean the real world?” one of the Ravenclaws asked, he was in Harry’s year too and a prefect.
“I mean Voldemort and his Death Eaters.” It had taken a lot of courage for Hermione to say that and Harry was proud of her for using his name. “They are out there, whether you believe it or not. It doesn’t matter, you want to learn defense and so we’re all going to help each other learn it. You can’t tell anyone outside of those of us here about this, we’re going against a professor in teaching ourselves and so we will get in trouble if anyone finds out. Any questions so far?”
“Will Harry be coming to the meetings?”
“He knows about them but it’s very likely that he won’t come, he’s already teaching himself defensive magic and doesn’t have the time to teach us as well. And I thought I told you to leave if all you wanted out of this was to see Harry.”
The boy, the same Hufflepuff that had asked about Harry the first time, shut up but didn’t leave.
“Now, since you’re all here, I take it you want to join, just write your names on this so we know who to contact about a time and place when they’ve been decided, we’ll do our best to work these meetings around Quidditch practices since we have a lot of players here.”
Hermione placed a piece of parchment on a table with a quill and ink and several Gryffindors, the Weasleys first, jumped up to sign followed by several of the Hufflepuffs and Ravenclaws, only a few were hesitant to sign and in the end the last two seemed almost reluctant.
“Well, that’s all; we’ll let all of you know.”
Before Hermione took up the parchment and while no one was looking, Harry spelled his name onto the bottom of the list, she didn’t notice when she rolled it up and put it into her bag with the quill and ink.
“Is it really alright to let some of them join, those last ones didn’t look like they could keep the secret,” Ron said as they left and started walking back up the street.
“If anyone tells, we’ll know who it was, trust me.”
Harry did trust Hermione, he could feel the tiny trace of magic on that parchment, she had cursed it and he almost wished that someone would tell so he could see what would happen to them. He followed his best friends up until they entered the Three Broomsticks and then he gave a heavy sigh and returned to Hogwarts, removing the spells he had placed on himself and Prongs and banishing his now empty bottle of butterbeer to erase evidence that he had been to Hogsmeade, his candy would have to wait to be eaten.
Prongs chattered with excitement for a while as Harry gathered up some books and headed to the library, but he quieted when he set to work on his potions essay that he had planned on putting off until the next day.
He must have lost track of time because the next thing he knew Ron and Hermione were sitting at his table and he looked up at them.
“We didn’t see you at Hogsmeade mate,” Ron said quietly.
“Because I didn’t go.”
“What do you mean you didn’t go? Why not?”
“Because I’m not allowed to go to Hogsmeade anymore, Sirius and Remus decided that it was too dangerous for me and they banned me from going.”
“You should have told us, we would have brought you back some candy from Honeydukes,” Hermione said. “Have you been in the library this whole time?”
“No, I spent the first two hours after you left catching up on some sleep, and then I came here. And don’t worry about the candy, Professor McGonagall was there and she brought some back for me.”
“Oh, well are you done yet, it’s almost time for dinner.”
“Yeah, I can finish it all tomorrow.” Harry packed up his books and stood, walking with his two friends up to the tower to put his bag away before they headed down to the Great Hall.
“How did your get together go anyway?”
“It went well, they all signed on so there are now twenty eight people, I think it would be a great help if you came to the first meeting, you could help to get us all organized and that way you can know when the meetings will be held too, incase you want to come to future ones that is.”
“Of course I’ll come to your first meeting; I just didn’t want to go to this one because I didn’t want people joining your group because of me. Don’t worry, I’ll definitely be there. Oh, I never showed you where you can meet did I; I’ll show you after dinner if you like.”
“Why are you in such a good mood after being banned from Hogsmeade?” Ron demanded.
“I just feel like being in a good mood right now, there’s nothing wrong with that. Besides, I’ve only got one more essay to write tomorrow and if I do it tonight then I have an entire day free.”
Ron stared at Harry as if unsure whether to be mad at him for having an entire day free tomorrow while he was stuck doing homework, or glad that he wasn’t upset about being banned from Hogsmeade, which made Prongs start laughing. Hermione however, was thrilled to hear that at least one of her friends was taking his schoolwork seriously for once.
“I bet I can get some of the others to come out and do a little extra Quidditch practice with me,” Harry said, intentionally trying to get Ron mad by adding a smirk to the comment.
“No fair Harry!”
“You should keep up with your homework if you want to have more free days.”
“The only reason you have a free day is because you didn’t go to Hogsmeade like the rest of us!”
Harry spent the rest of dinner taunting Ron about his mountain of homework and afterwards he showed them the Room of Requirement, Hermione was thrilled while Ron was simply imagining how he could use the magical room. Then he finished his final essay in the common room and went to bed early, Prongs had long since fallen asleep after the excitement of the day.
The next morning was a breakthrough for him, Harry slept until almost eight o’clock and when he realized this he lay in bed longer, enjoying the feeling of sleeping in until the others started to wake up. With an entire day of freedom ahead, Harry wasn’t quite sure where to start, but he headed down to breakfast with Ron and Hermione and stopped in the entrance hall to find Filch putting up another of the educational degrees, it was the first one since the announcement of Umbridge being appointed as High Inquisitor and there was a small crowd starting to form to see what this one was.
Finally, when Filch moved away Harry stepped up and saw it, Educational Degree number 24; all student organizations had been banned.
“She can’t do that! Can she?” Hermione asked.
“Yes, she can,” Harry said as he moved away to get his breakfast. “And this doesn’t just include your group; it also includes Quidditch and all the other clubs at Hogwarts. We’ll have to ask for our right to reform them, which means that the study group will have to be kept even more secret now.”
“What do you mean she banned Quidditch, she can’t do that?” Ron complained. “I just joined the team, what if she doesn’t let us reform it?”
“She will,” Harry stated firmly. “She favors the Slytherins and so she’ll give them their Quidditch team back, if she gives it to one house she has to give it to the others, if not then I’ll speak with Dumbledore about it, this is one thing that I can’t let pass.”
“You’ll talk to him about the Quidditch team but not unfair detentions?” Hermione asked.
“Quidditch is far more important that a few detentions Hermione!”
“How can you say that?”
“It’s quite easy, if you just string all the syllables together.”
“Harry!” Angelina, Alicia, and Katie ran over and took seats around the trio. “What are we going to do? She canceled Quidditch! And Hermione, are we still going to… you know?”
“Just ask her if we can reform the team, be nice and polite and don’t push her, if she says no I’ll do something about it. As to Hermione’s group, I’m going to the first meeting, we’re continuing with it but secrecy is more important now than it was before.”
“So you are going to go?”
“Not all the time I don’t think, but I will come if I can.”
Harry looked past the three girls and his eyes hardened as his head shook ever so slightly before they softened again. Those around him looked to find a few of the Ravenclaws and Hufflepuffs walking towards them.
“How did you know they were in the group?”
“Why else would so many people from other houses be making a bee line for our little group? We’ll spread the word when we get the chance, discreetly of course, we can’t let Umbridge or the Slytherins overhear.”
Those around him stared and Harry didn’t care for once, they admired him, and while he didn’t want that, he understood why. He had just taken charge of a hard situation and handled it masterfully; if he had been in their situation he would have admired him too.
And I thought you didn’t like attention, Prongs chided.