As always, the characters and settings in this story belong to J.K. Rowling not me, but enjoy anyway!
Chapter 14: Still Fighting
Harry knocked on the door and entered when told, the pink office made him sick every time, but he walked over to the spindly table and set his bag down before taking his seat and picking up the black feathered quill. He wasn’t exactly sure what it was he had done, but it had earned him another detention and so here he was, writing in his own blood as his hand opened up and started bleeding again. Now he was getting single detentions all the time for the smallest things, Umbridge was definitely out to get him, but he was not going to give in to her, he was never out after hours, he was only ever in the library or the common room in his free time, he had stopped running in the halls after the first detention for that, he tucked in his shirt and wore his tie properly after a detention for that, he made sure all of the papers he handed in to her were spotless without stray marks, he never talked back, he had finished her beloved book and pretended to reread it in class, he avoided her if he could and yet here he was, again. Hermione kept insisting that he go to Dumbledore, but Harry felt that he couldn’t he didn’t want to see the old man, he didn’t want to go tattle, he was going to fight Umbridge to the end, he was going to prove to her that he couldn’t be broken.
Nearly two hours had passed before Harry realized that her ramblings were getting longer, she still spoke of how much of a burden and trouble maker he was and how he would never amount to anything and other similar topics, but they hadn’t reached him yet, granted, he was doing his best to keep himself from being a burden, but he had been doing that for a few years so it hardly mattered.
“Let me ask you something Harry,” Umbridge said, Harry looked up at her but didn’t set down the quill.
“Yes Professor Umbridge?”
“What’s your favorite beast?”
“My favorite beast? Magical or normal? Or do you care which?”
Harry thought for a moment, any beast at all… “I like deer, but my favorite would have to be sky foxes.”
“Because of your little friend?”
“Yes, and because a sky fox is loyal and brave, I admire that.”
“And why is it you like deer?”
“Deer remind me of my parents Professor.”
“Is that so?” Umbridge seemed to think for a few minutes and Harry watched her, wondering where this conversation was going.
“Should I continue my lines now Professor?” he asked after a minute.
“No, you are free to go for the night.”
“Thank you Professor.”
Harry was thrilled, he had only been there for three hours, maybe she was learning that she couldn’t get to him. He quickly went to the nearest bathroom and took care of his hand, using Tarragon’s cream since he didn’t have a scheduled detention tomorrow.
“Harry! You’re back early today,” Hermione said happily when he joined her and Ron at their table to do homework.
Prongs was on his shoulders and rubbing against his cheek before he even set his bag down.
“He doesn’t like it when you’re in detentions, he just curls up and ignores everyone,” Hermione said.
“I don’t like it when I’m in detentions either,” Harry said, rubbing Prongs’ head as he fell into the chair and pulled out his books and his potions essay that he had started before detention.
“We decided on a time by the way, it will be at seven on Friday,” she whispered, referring to the study group that she had started. Harry had already promised he would attend the first meeting and hopefully he would be able to make it.
“The day before the Quidditch match, alright.”
The hours passed much faster when Harry wasn’t spending the night writing in blood, he finished two essays before deciding he was going to go to bed early and bid goodnight to his two best friends. Ron would have followed him, but he was further behind in their homework and Hermione wouldn’t let him go unless he finished one more essay.
I don’t like that woman, her words are mean and her actions are foul, Prongs muttered.
I don’t like her either, that’s why I won’t let you near her, you’d only get me in trouble. And let her do what she wants, I won’t be broken, I’m stronger than her.
Of course, I have you to keep me sane after all. I’m tired, and so are you, so let’s just sleep tonight, we could both use it more than we would ever admit to.
Five o’clock, that was the time Harry normally woke up these days, but having gone to bed so much earlier than he usually did, he woke just after four but still grinned, he hadn’t felt so rested in a long time. As always before five, the Great Hall was empty and he spread out his homework and set to yet another essay before breakfast as Prongs watched him work. He had nearly finished when the food appeared at five and was done by the time the earlier risers started arriving half an hour later and he put his books away and started to eat, he hadn’t had much of an appetite lately and he would get scolded for losing weight again, but today was different, he was still eating when Ron and Hermione walked down at six, though he had been eating slowly. Hermione grinned at sight of him with food on his plate and Ron didn’t notice until he had gotten a few mouthfuls of food himself.
“It’s good to see you eating again Harry, how do you feel today?”
“Good, I have a good feeling about today,” Harry said, though he wasn’t exactly sure why he had that feeling.
The sudden banging of Filch putting up another educational degree reached the ears of everyone in the hall and a lot of people jumped up to go and see, Harry wasn’t one of them.
“Aren’t you going to see what it says?” Ron asked, he was already out of his seat.
“Nope, I’m going to enjoy this breakfast, then I’m going to go to my classes and I’m going to ignore it until after I’ve eaten my dinner and it can no longer ruin this beautiful day.” The ceiling was turning a pale blue; there wasn’t a single cloud in the sky today.
“I’m going to go and see, I won’t tell you if you don’t want me to,” Hermione said, walking away with Ron to see the degree.
Do you really not want to know?
Not until the day is over, what’s the worst that could happen?
You could get detention again.
Harry knew that already, but even still, he didn’t want to know. And when Ron and Hermione returned they didn’t seem quite so depressed, merely uncertain.
“I don’t want to know until after dinner,” Harry said quickly, stopping their questions before they started.
“I don’t think you’ll be able to avoid it for long, but alright, we won’t say a word until after dinner.”
“Thank you Hermione.”
Harry continued to eat his eggs and when he was done and it was time for class, he left with his two friends and didn’t even think about the degree hanging on the wall that he passed. Hermione parted with Ron and Harry halfway to Divination for her Ancient Runes class and the two went on in less than cheerful moods, no matter how good he felt, having to submit one’s self to having their own death prophesized yet again, would put a damper on anyone’s mood, though Harry remained optimistic for what the rest of the day held.
Double Transfiguration was a continuation of human transfiguration, they were mostly still working with hair, spells to change the color and the length, but with how good Harry and Hermione were at it, they had moved on to manipulating noses with two of their other classmates. As always, Harry was quick to catch on and was soon entertaining the others with various noses, including a pig snout, a goose beak, and his version of Crookshanks’ squished face, which Hermione didn’t like but couldn’t help but laugh at. When lunch came around and a grumpy Ron joined Harry and Hermione at the door, Professor McGonagall called Harry back.
“Is there something I can do for you Professor?” he asked.
Prongs leapt to the woman’s lap as she sat at her desk and purred like he often did when he was happy.
“Your father was just like you in this class, he was one of the best students I’ve ever had at Transfiguration, him and your godfather. When they started jumping ahead of the rest of the class in their skill level, I gave them a challenge, the same challenge that I am going to give you. Every night I will give you a spell for different human transfigurations and once you have been given all of them, I expect someone that I don’t recognize to come into my class every day and not just the same person, different people.”
“People you don’t recognize? So once I’ve been given all of these spells, then you don’t want to see me walk into this class again?”
“That’s right, what do you think?”
“It sounds fun, I accept, what’s tonight’s spell?”
McGonagall laughed and shook her head but handed over a small scroll that she had already prepared, there were several more on the desk behind her and Harry grinned and once Prongs had returned to his shoulder he rejoined his two friends just outside and they went to lunch.
“What was that about?” Hermione asked.
“Nothing, just a challenge, you’ll see.”
“A challenge? Is it because you’re so good at Transfiguration?”
“Yeah, she gave my dad and Sirius the same challenge when they were students here; both of them were really good at this sort of thing too.”
“So you got your talent for transfiguration from your dad?”
“And Defense Against the Dark Arts I was kind of forced to be good at.”
“But your good at other things too, like Potions and Charms and Care of Magical Creatures, and you’ve even gotten better at History of Magic.”
“I’ve gotten better at History because I learned how to listen to Binns drone on without falling asleep, and I’m only average at Potions, Charms and Creatures.”
“No, you’re not, you don’t make any mistakes in potions, you can master a charm before the class is over and all the creatures seem to like you and it’s like they listen to you.”
“That’s ridiculous Hermione, I just follow the instructions Snape gives and most of the charms we’re learning are things that I learned for the tournament or at least looked into, and creatures don’t listen to me, why would they do that?”
Hermione looked at him for a while longer, she was catching on, she was doing research and figuring it out, she was learning about empathy, but that didn’t explain everything, so she wasn’t sure yet. Harry cursed himself, he should have known she wouldn’t let it alone, but he couldn’t tell her, he would just have to deny it for a while longer until she actually accused him.
Lunch was just as good as breakfast, Harry ignored the new degree and ate as much as he liked, stopping only when he could no longer eat any more. Then they had care of magical creatures and just as Hermione had already observed, the little bowtruckles liked Harry, leaping off the table to hang on him, making him look very much like a tree until Prongs chased them off. After that the rest of the class was rather boring, they just sketched the small twig like creatures and labeled all of their parts, hardly a challenge.
Astronomy was more charts, it wasn’t exciting, but that was the whole point of taking it in the first place. The trio was leaving the tower when they crossed Malfoy’s path, but Harry didn’t care, he was still in a carefree mood and the Slytherin wasn’t going to ruin that.
“Well well Potter, just where are you going?”
“To dinner, why?”
“Haven’t you heard about the Inquisitorial Squad?” Malfoy demanded, pointing to the silver I.S. badge on his chest beside his prefect P.
“Is that what that stands for? I thought it was Idiot Slytherin.” Prongs shook with held in laughter on Harry’s shoulder.
“Watch it Potter, I have the authority to take points and give you detention.”
Harry didn’t so much care about him taking points, but the detention part just ruined his appetite. “Forgive me then, and excuse me, I’d invite you to share dinner with us, but you don’t like us so I won’t,” Harry said as he walked past and strode calmly down the hall, silently begging for him not to say anything; he loved it when silent begging worked.
“Harry? Why did you say all that?”
“I don’t care if he can take points, but all detentions are controlled by Umbridge and I for one, don’t want any more of that for a while.”
“Oh, so you’ll be nice to him from now on?”
“Civil, I’m not going to play nice, but I’ll treat him like anyone else and be civil to him.”
Dinner wasn’t as good as Harry had hoped, he had lost his appetite and regressed to his old ways, barely touching his food, he no longer needed to look at the new degree, Malfoy had given it away and Hermione explained it when he asked.
Miraculously, Harry didn’t get a single detention for the rest of the week, which left him free for Friday night and the study group, it was just getting to Friday night that was hard. All of their classes were over and they were spending time getting homework out of the way, Harry was nearly caught up again, but Ron was as behind as ever and Hermione was forcing him to sit there and do homework, a funny sight when he tried to get up but otherwise pathetic.
“I’m going to take a walk, I’ll see you both in an hour,” Harry said at last, standing up and taking his bag up to his room before returning downstairs and fighting his way through a crowded common room.
The halls were clear, but Harry was restless and bored, he gave up his wandering only minutes after he had started and made his way to the seventh floor corridor and walked into the Room of Requirement. He had used it for muggle fighting practice before, but it had been a while, and this was the perfect opportunity.
Let me know when they all start arriving, I don’t want them to see this, Harry said to Prongs, who settled onto the only pillow in the room to watch.
Just remember to listen when I tell you, you do tend to get absorbed in this and you don’t hear me when I talk to you.
I apologize, and I will listen, I promise.
Prongs clearly didn’t trust that promise but that didn’t stop Harry from taking off his shoes and shirt. He wove through the movements that he had learned over the summer as though only a day had passed and he did get absorbed in it, it was a good release and he felt better with every motion he made, it calmed him and suddenly all those detentions weren’t as bad as they had once been.
HARRY! Prongs leapt onto his shoulders and Harry froze, Prongs had been right, he always was. He let out a heavy sigh and looked over his shoulder at the large group of twenty eight students standing there staring, a few of them slack jawed.
“Sorry, I lost track of time,” he said, waving his hand as the room changed to a library like one with big pillows on the floor, “Have a seat.”
Harry quickly pulled on his shirt and rubbed his already messy hair with the towel that was suddenly in his hand and collapsed onto one of the more squishy looking pillows, he had worked up a sweat and the clock on the wall told him that they had probably seen about three minutes of his drills. The twins were the first to recover; they sat on either side of him and put their arms around his shoulders, grins on their faces.
“No,” Harry said before they opened their mouths.
“We haven’t said anything yet!” they objected.
“I know what you’re going to ask, and I’m not teaching that to anyone, there will be no discussion.”
“You’re no fun,” they chorused, moving away to where everyone else was starting to sit down.
Ron and Hermione sat on either side of Harry, though they were uncertain and he hated it when they were like that, there was a lot of awe going around, as wizards no one else would have seen anything like what Harry had been doing before and they were amazed, and rightly so, though he would never admit to that out loud. Prongs growled at the group at large, warning them to keep back and leave Harry alone.
“Alright, enough ogling,” Hermione commanded, standing up to get everyone’s attention. “This meeting is to figure out exactly how this group will function, the first thing we need is a name, something that can be said in the presence of others, any ideas?”
“The Anti Umbridge Society, AUS?” Ginny suggested to the laughter of everyone else, including Harry.
“The Defense Association, DA, everyone will think we’re talking about class,” Dean said.
“Maybe, are there any other ideas?” Hermione asked.
“Dumbledore’s Army,” Harry said, his voice was quiet but everyone stopped talking to look at him. “That’s what Fudge fears most, Dumbledore rising against him and Umbridge is nothing without Fudge, she practically lives for the man, and we can call this DA too.”
“I vote for Dumbledore’s Army!” Ginny shouted, raising her hand.
One by one, or two in Fred and George’s case, all the hands rose into the air and Hermione nodded, she wrote Dumbledore’s Army at the top of the list of names that she pulled from her bag and tacked it to a wall.
“Alright, next is the meeting times, once a week should be alright, here, everyone take one of these, the numbers around the edge would normally be a serial number, but keep an eye on them, they’ll change to show the day and the time,” Hermione explained, passing around a bag from which everyone pulled a golden galleon, she already had one of her own that she was holding up. “Just don’t mistake them for real galleons.”
“Why aren’t you in Ravenclaw Hermione?” Anthony Goldstein asked, he was a Ravenclaw and a Prefect.
Hermione blushed but didn’t hide, that was the reason why right there, she was brave. “The next thing we need is someone to lead us, I figure –”
“I say Harry should lead us, since he’s so good at Defense and all,” Lee Jordan cut in.
“Harry had already declined,” Hermione stated quite firmly.
“Why?” Neville asked.
“Because I get a lot of detentions and what will happen to the group if I get a detention on the night of a meeting, there would be nothing for anyone to do.”
“There, now as I was saying,” Hermione continued, “I think we should have a group of people, two from each house to figure out what we should learn and who are willing to put in extra time to make sure they know it all first. I also think that Prefects and Quidditch players shouldn’t volunteer because it would be a little too much.”
“Will Harry teach us how to produce a corporeal patronus?” Susan Bones, a Ravenclaw asked, looking straight at him.
Harry looked back at the girl; her aunt must have told her that he could do that particularly difficult spell. “If all of you can master the disarming, the shield, the summoning, and the stunning charms, then I will consider it, and I know those seem basic, but the basics have saved my life on more than one occasion. When all of you can perform those spells to my satisfaction, then I might teach you, I doubt it would be right away, there are better spells to learn before the patronus charm, but maybe towards the end of the year.”
“I don’t think you can even do that charm, it’s beyond N.E.W.T. level, I think it’s just a rumor,” Zacharias Smith, a Hufflepuff and one of the few that had always doubted Harry was casting a challenge.
Prongs growled at the boy until Harry started stroking his long body. “I take it you want proof then,” Harry said his voice lazy and eyes half closed.
“Yes, I do, cast your patronus and let us see.”
Harry flung his arm out towards the other boy and his wand leapt into his hand from up his sleeve to point at Zacharias. Then Harry moved his arm until it was pointing straight up. “Expecto Patronum!”
A silver cloud jumped from his wand and twirled around him, flowing out behind him to form itself into the overly large stag that was his patronus, it was a little intimidating with everyone having to look up from the floor.
“Yeah, a stag, regal and strong,” Harry said, his laziness putting the other boy on edge. The stag disappeared and the rest of the group started whispering.
“Alright!” Hermione called to get everyone’s attention again. “Well that’s really all there is to this meeting other than picking the leaders, we’ll call them the council to keep it short, and any volunteers should stay after, two from each house. Everyone else, we’re done for today so you can go and keep an eye on your coins for the next meeting.”
“Hufflepuffs should watch out for Filch, he’s patrolling in the Entrance Hall right now,” Harry said.
“How do you know that?” Fred and George asked.
Harry held up an old folded bit of parchment, “I’m up to no good of course.” He got up and was the first to leave, flipping his fake galleon up and catching it again before storing it away in a pocket with the Marauder’s map.
Show off, Prongs scolded.
You’re one to talk.