Chapter 17 : Dumbledore's Army Will Bring Us Together
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We started meeting in the Room of Requirement, after Dobby showed the place to Harry. I had been skeptical at first, but when I found out that Dumbledore had mentioned it, I figured it couldn't be too dangerous. Plus, once I had seen the place and how beautiful it could be, I realized it's potential. Draco and I had the chance to be completely private here, and we seized every chance we could get.
Both being prefects, it wasn't abnormal or even questioned for either of us to be walking around the castle after hours. So we started meeting every night in the Room of Requirement. Each time we visited the Room, we perfected what it became for us. It started out as a simple room with a beautiful and wonderfully comfortable couch, soft light, and our romantic playlist playing in the background. After a couple weeks of changes, however, it became much more than that. When we entered the Room of Requirement now, we opened the door to find a vintage sofa and armchairs, a beautiful carved coffee table holding mugs and a teapot, a large bed adorned with fluffy pillows and yellow striped bedding, candles everywhere, and the softest most amazing lush carpet. It was absolute bliss, and we began to stay every night in the Room of Requirement, sleeping soundly in each other's arms. Malfoy's friends didn't pay attention to him, so he could leave whenever and not be questioned. I, however, had Harry and Ron to look out for and fool, not to mention the girls in my dormitory who were constantly asking questions about my love life.
I had begun to tell Lavender and Parvati that I was enamored by Ron. They believed me.
It was true that Ron and I had always had an odd bond. And I had a crush on him the year before and had always wondered what would have happened if he had asked me to the ball and kissed me. But the truth was, Ron was a pig, and sort of a jerk. I loved him, yes, but my love for him had turned from possibly romantic to strictly that of a brother or cousin. He was my best friend now, nothing more. At least not to me. Lavender and Parvati were incessant on analyzing every single detail of mine and Ron's relationship. They pointed out simple things that meant nothing and said that each one of those things were "signs" that told us that Ron and I were "meant to be."
Anything to keep them from sticking their nose in my real relationship with Draco.
Hagrid got home and told us about the giants. He was impressed that I had known about them, but I really only knew that that's where he had been because that's what Draco had told me.
Soon after that, Harry had an odd dream where he claimed he saw Mr. Weasley get attacked. He woke everyone up and Professor McGonagall escorted him to the headmaster's office; Draco and I had been on our way back to our dormitories when we saw it, but thankfully everyone had been too distressed when they passed, so they didn't see us. I ran back to the dormitory without a word to Draco so I could check on Ginny. I snuck into her room and woke her, and we waited in the common room until McGonagall came back to fetch her and her brothers. Neither of us knew what was going on, just that something had happened to Harry and Ron, but we were very stressed out.
The next day, Professor McGonagall filled me in, and though I had to go to the rest of my classes, I was allowed to take the Knight Bus to Grimmuald Place that afternoon. We visited Mr. Weasley on Christmas, and I ended up spending most of my Christmas Holiday hanging out with Ron and Ginny. Harry was acting all misunderstood as usual and it wasn't until the thousandth time that we were able to convince him to stop acting so stupid. We phrased it differently, of course. Draco wrote to me once, and I wasn't allowed to respond in case his parents or one of the Death Eaters at his house saw the letter. But he told me that he had continued practicing Occlumency, which Snape had begun to teach him only weeks before the holidays had begun. He told me that he was successful so far, and that his father and Lord Voldemort had yet to be suspicious of anything. It relieved him, as it was the first time he had seen an Death Eaters since he decided on becoming a spy for Professor Dumbledore. He said he had mostly kept to himself, but still, no one suspected anything.
When we returned to Hogwarts, Harry had begun Occlumency lessons with Snape as well. He and Draco had them at different times, and as I wasn't allowed to tell anyone of either's lessons, neither knew about the other. I believe Snape, Dumbledore, and I were the only three to know of both taking lessons.
One day, when Harry and Ron had practically sprinted from Potion's class and I was left to pick up my things, Professor Snape asked me to stay behind. This was the first time he had sought one on one conversation with me ever, and I assumed that it was something about Draco. Snape was, after all, one of the only two people in the world that knew about our relationship. I was mostly wrong.
"I'm sure you know that Mr. Potter and Mr. Malfoy have both taken on extra classes from me this term, Ms. Granger."
I nodded in agreement. "Yes, they've both told me, Professor."
Snape took a couple steps toward me, and I clutched my bulging book bag closer to my chest. I respected Professor Snape, but I still harbored a bit of a grudge against him. Even though I knew that he had always been loyal to Dumbledore, it still frustrated me that he was so rude and frankly, mean, to everyone. But, as I said, I respected him for his loyalty.
"I hope that you know that these classes are to be held in the strictest of confidence, and no one but yourself, the headmaster, Mr. Weasley, and I are meant to know of their existence."
"Yes, professor," I said quietly.
"And you are not to tell Mr. Potter or Mr. Malfoy of each other's private lessons."
"Of course not."
"There is one thing I would like to ask of you, Ms. Granger."
Shocked at this prospect, I quickly regained my posture and nodded vigorously. "Anything, Professor."
"Potter is not improving in his classes. I would like you to speak to Mr. Malfoy, ask him nonchalantly how to perform Occlumency, and then try to teach Mr. Potter in your free time that you spend with him. It is more important than he can understand that he perfects this. I need you, Miss Granger, to be his biggest fan, and his most influential friend."
Taken aback at the responsibility of this, I nodded. "Of course, sir."
"You may go."
I tried. I really did. I tried as hard as I possibly could to convince Harry to try harder in Occlumency. But he didn't want to listen to me. In fact, my attempts at fulfilling Professor Snape's request frustrated Harry and Ron. They started to avoid me in the hall.
In order to get Harry to like me again, I tried to make it as obvious as I could that Cho was into him. I knew they had kissed, so I tried to get him to ask her out to the Valentine's visit to Hogsmede. He did, though it took him longer than it should have to realize that that's what she wanted. I was sparked with the idea to have Rita Skeeter interview Harry, and didn't have the chance to tell him, and when I invited him and Cho to both meet me in the Three Broomsticks, disaster ensued.
Draco thought that Cho's jealousy was hysterical. Sitting on our red sofa past midnight one night, with my feet on Draco's lap and his hand in both of mine, we were gossiping happily about the two of them and the interview that had made the Quibbler.
"I can't believe she banned it!" I exclaimed excitedly, shaking Draco's hand back and forth with enthusiasm. I beamed at Draco, who had this month's issue of the Quibbler in his hand. He was shaking his head amusedly and smiling down at the cover picture of Harry.
"Potter's a lot of things," Draco began, "but a wuss, he is not."
I cackled at Draco's masked compliment for the man he had always so actively loathed.
"He's so great," I said, and Draco chuckled softly, shrugging his shoulders in defeat. "He is just such an influence you know? Such a role model. He stands up for what he believes in and it's so inspirational, you know?" I was getting slightly passionate in talking about my best friend, and I could tell it was starting to make Draco feel somewhat less important. He playfully let go of my hands and turned his head away from me, saying, "Well if you love him so much then why don't you go snuggle with him on his deliciously comfortable four poster bed, huh?"
I began to giggle uncontrollably, reaching for Draco as he continued to push me away in mock anger. "But!" I kept saying, laughing and trying to grab his hands while he pushed mine away. He pushed my fee off his laugh and I pretended to be affronted. Still giggling, I attempted to hug him and put my head on his shoulder, but he continued to push me away.
Finally, he let me touch him. I stopped laughing hysterically and simply smiled as I brushed my thin fingers through his blonde hair, and my smile faded into an expression of wonder as I placed the palm of my hand gently against his cheek, softly turning his head to face mine. His eyes were wide and somehow soft, and for just a second I stared into them and my lips turned upwards into half a smile. Draco's face mirrored my own and soon we were both bursting into laughter.
"Cuz you know, Harry's just so hot." I said.
Draco thought that was hilarious as well.
The Quibbler fad had gone down some and Professor Umbridge was still incessantly making the average Hogwarts student's life a living hell. She even sacked Professor Trelawney, which really shouldn't have bothered me seeing how much of a fraud she is, but still triggered my guilty reflexes and caused me to feel an ounce of pity for the woman. Parvati and Lavender were upset too, but only for about a second. They were anxious as anyone to meet the new Divination teacher, Firenze, who was supposedly a hunk on four legs.
Soon after his appointment, however, chaos regarding Dumbledore's Army ensued.
We had been practicing defense spells, the last meeting before Easter Holidays, when I saw Dobby the house-elf running through the crowd of people, heading straight for Harry. Sensing his uneasiness, I found myself listening to what the elf was saying. The gist of it was that Professor Umbridge knew about Dumbledore's Army, and we were busted. According to Dobby, Umbridge and some students were on their way to the Room of Requirement as we spoke.
"RUN!" Harry yelled, and run we did. Ron and I sprinted past everyone and headed towards the door. We opened them and saw to it that everyone left the room safely, then ran together to the next floor down, where we ran into Draco, Crabbe, and Goyle. Ron saw them as they were heading up the corridor, straight towards us, and grabbed my hand and pulled me into an empty classroom. As we were disappearing behind the door, however, Draco caught site of us and looked straight at mine and Ron's intertwined hands. He then continued more slowly up the stairs.
Ron saw that Draco had seen us.
"What was that all about?" he asked breathlessly, doubled over with his hands on his knees and a strange expression on his face.
"What, Malfoy?" I asked, breathless as well.
"Yeah," Ron said, standing up to his full height and peeking out the door. "He totally saw us and didn't do anything."
I shrugged. "He probably thinks we're together," I said, hoping to keep Ron from being suspicious of me and especially from mentioning this to Harry. "He saw our hands and saw us coming in here, for all he knows we could be hooking up in here."
"Hooking -- hooking up?" Ron scoffed. "Psh, as if." And that was that for the conversation.
Ron was striving to change the subject, and I let him. "So what the bloody hell was that all about? Why did we have to run?" He was still breathing heavily, and his ears were red from the prospect of us "hooking up."
"Umbridge found out," I said. Ron hadn't been there for that part. "Dobby came in and warned us, I guess Malfoy and Filch and them are after us right now."
Ron was speechless. He shook his head in frustration and gripped his hair, putting his head between his knees after he took a seat on one of the unused desks. "Shit."
"C'mon," I said tiredly. "Let's go to the Common Room and make sure everyone got out of there safely."
We made our way back to Griffindor Tower, expecting to see Harry comforting a group of restless D.A members, but we were wrong. Harry was nowhere to be seen.
We found out later that Harry had been caught. He had even witnessed a fight between Dumbledore and Umbridge, and told us how Dumbledore escaped going to Azkaban. The rumors spread fast, and soon Harry was even more of a celebrity than usual. Umbridge then became headmistress, and with her new appointment came the Inquisitorial Squad, something Snape and I together convinced Draco to join. He was hesitant, but he was definitely excited to be able to dock me points whenever he felt like it.
Draco eventually found out about Harry's Occlumency lessons. He had to warn Snape about the ruckus that Fred and George were causing during one of the lessons and saw Harry standing across the room from Snape. He said that Snape had mentioned Remedial Potions and, knowing that that was to be the excuse if anyone found out about his own classes, figured it out immediately. He mentioned it to me only once, but never brought it up again after he saw how upset I had been when he did try to talk about it.
We had a few days of classes where we were allowed to leave for small moments in time and speak to our Head of House to discuss our career opportunities. Mine came during Herbology, and I was shocked to see Professor Umbridge sitting with a clipboard behind Professor McGonagall.
We discussed what I wanted to do; which was a lot. We talked about working for the Daily Prophet, which I denied up front and spoke up about how I hate that the Ministry is behind it nowadays. We talked about my ideal career, working in the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures, and changing the name to something much more tolerant. I mentioned my S.P.E.W work and heard a chuckle from behind McGonagall but ignored it. Professor McGonagall shook her head as if to convey to me that she doesn't agree with Umbridge's patronizing tone, and said, "Miss Granger, I firmly believe that you can do anything you can set your mind to. You have perfect grades and a very promising future. I will personally make sure that you achieve your dreams."
I smiled, stood up, said my thanks, and walked out of the door with a smile on my face. Now on to study for O.W.L.S!