The next morning there was a sealed letter on my nightstand. At first I thought it was too out in the open, then I spent half an hour trying to open it, casting spell after spell until finally I was able to get it unlocked.
J. As ever your attempt to bury the real purpose of your letter is noted.
I assume you’re able to ignore Umbridge even if others are not. It is important that you do so. Just because every other one of those dunderheads believe Potter is receiving a zero does not mean that is the case, though I am quite certain forgetting one of the easiest steps is indeed worth nothing. Unfortunately that would lead to at least 95% of all my students failing, which as satisfying as it would be for me personally, is not acceptable by Dumbledore’s standards. As for Goyle’s potion, any day he does not injure others is a day he far exceeds my lackluster standards for him.
Now onto bowtruckles. Dobby is also able to sense you at times, do not let it overly worry you, although I would suggest practicing caution until I have sufficient time to look into it. Did others realize your affect on them or not?
As for Nott, while I applaud your mantra of not underestimating him, do kindly also try not to shove him into the Black Lake or I will be required to assign you detention.
I do not choose prefects so feel free to pass your complaints on to the Headmaster. Personally I would have thought you’d be more interested in the other Slytherin prefect.
P.S. Do not mistake politeness for affection.
P.P.S. Why are we writing letters when you are perfectly capable of walking down to my office? This seems like a rather poor attempt to avoid me. At least put some effort into it.
I rolled my eyes and penned a quick response.
Yes other people saw the bowtruckles, there was nothing I could do to prevent it. I’ll keep back in class to make sure it doesn’t happen again. No comment on the matter of prefects, I regret ever bringing it up.
P.S. I have about a dozen different essays to write and as lovely as it would be to speak to you face to face, you do tend to go on and on and on in a rambling matter that cuts into precious homework time.
It was a lie. I knew it was a lie. Snape would know it was a lie. Still I wasn’t ready for a one on one talk. It would have to happen eventually, I just wanted to put it off for as long as possible. As long as nothing too serious transpired, I was hoping Snape would keep accepting letters. That’s why I didn’t point out Dobby only sensing me when something serious was wrong.
I planned on popping down to the kitchens before heading to the Great Hall so I could give Dobby the letter but it became unnecessary. As soon as I stepped out of eyesight of the Fat Lady, Dobby popped beside me in the corridor.
“Bloody hell,” I muttered, jumping. “Is he having you follow me?” I whispered.
“Sir is telling Dobby Miss would send a morning letter. Dobby is meeting Miss so Miss does not have to keep coming to Dobby.”
“Why do I get the feeling you two plot more than you’re letting on?” I said, pulling the letter out of my bag.
“Dobby is only trying to do what is best for Miss.”
“That’s not a denial,” I pointed out, handing Dobby the letter.
“Have a good day, Miss,” Dobby squeaked before popping away.
I raised an eyebrow at his abrupt departure then continued on to the Great Hall.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Snape had to resist another glance at the clock. She had to be awake by now. She would have spotted the letter immediately. Maybe he was wrong. Maybe he was reading too far into it.
There was a pop beside him and he felt his apprehension grow. “What happened?” Snape asked Dobby quickly. Dobby held out a letter, his gaze cast downward. After opening and skimming the letter he set it aside. “How long?” Dobby fidgeted but didn’t answer. “How long?” Snape asked again, more firmly.
“Thirty minutes, sir.”
“How strong of a spell did you use?”
“Dobby is using his strongest, sir.”
“You’re certain you did it correctly?”
“Dobby is sure. Dobby is checking many times to be sure.”
Snape reread Jade’s letter as he rubbed his head. Half an hour. A brief thirty minutes to break a house elf’s strongest sealing spell. “Can you pick up on the magic yet?”
“Dobby-Dobby is trying but Miss is hiding it well. Only when Miss touches Dobby can he feel it. It is very strange –”
“Dobby doesn’t know,” he said, wringing his hands. “It is different than before.”
“Stronger?” Snape asked cautiously. Dobby nodded reluctantly. “If the bowtruckles are already sensing it then who else can?” Snape wondered aloud.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Unsurprisingly I was given more homework that day…a lot more. It was like the professors were trying to drown the fifth years in essays before the first week was even over. Were four more essays really necessary? Were they trying to induce nervous breakdowns? At least nothing strange happened during the day.
That night I lingered in the common room in case Dobby returned with another letter. There was also the fact that writing so many essays took time. After I finished Astronomy I pulled out Defensive Magical Theory and began reading. It really was as horrible as I’d imagined. Not only did it seem like it was written for people ten years younger, but it was like the author didn’t have a shred of practical experience, defensive or offensive.
Slowly the common room emptied out until finally there was only me. Dobby never came so maybe Snape wasn’t going to write. Well that saved having to make up another lie about not coming to see him.
It was well past midnight when the portrait hole opened and Harry came through, looking exhausted. Instead of going to bed he sat down at a table and started pulling out parchment and his Potions book. He hadn’t even noticed me with the dim lighting.
“Moonstones, eh?” I said out loud, causing him to jump.
“You’re still up?” he asked, finding me sitting in the corner.
“I function better with less sleep. You on the other hand, look like you’re about to pass out.”
Harry didn’t respond, instead he grudgingly opened his text book and dipped his quill into ink before writing a few words. I didn’t have anything better to do so I sat there watching him. He looked up at me and frowned before writing a bit more.
“Er…is there something you wanted?” he asked after a couple minutes.
“You’re a bit behind on your homework if you’ve barely started Potions,” I replied instead of answering his question.
“Thanks for pointing that out,” he said roughly, jabbing his quill into the ink bottle again.
“Want me to write it?”
“Do you want me to write your moonstones essay?”
“I –why are you offering?” he asked suspiciously.
“Obviously it’s a Death Eater plot,” I said, rolling my eyes. “They want you to be well rested and receive a passing grade in Potions. It certainly isn’t because I see that you’re dead tired and know you probably have half a dozen other assignments you need to finish so I’m attempting to be friendly and offer to help you with one.”
“Why are you trying to be nice? You don’t even like me.”
“I never said I didn’t like you.”
“Snape doesn’t like me –”
“Snape doesn’t like anyone,” I snapped at him. Of course after Crouch Jr. influencing me to help Harry with the second task last year, Harry would be suspicious of any help I offered now. I rubbed my head, deciding to be frank. “Death Eaters don’t like you –”
“Yeah, I had picked up on that.”
“–I’d like to…differentiate myself from them. Being nice to you is a good start. Considering we’re both on the same side, I don’t think it’s asking a lot from you to help out a bit. And while I don’t think we’ll be staying up till the wee hours of the morning, sitting in the common room as we roast marshmallows and gossip, I would settle for not being so suspicious every time I offer a little assistance.” I let out a sigh. Sounding this rude wasn’t the best strategy when you’re trying to befriend someone. “I also happen to think you were right to call Umbridge out over Cedric Diggory’s death. Claiming it was an accident is an insult to his memory. Not many people would have stood their ground, it takes guts to do that.”
Harry and I sat there in silence for an awkward minute.
“Why don’t you like Sirius?”
“The same reason he doesn’t like me,” I answered wearily. “We’re both very…er, opinionated. We happen to have radically different views on something, or rather someone.”
“That would be the one.” Snape wasn’t the whole reason but I didn’t think it would go over so well if I started badmouthing Black at the moment.
“Snape would know the difference between our handwriting,” Harry muttered.
“You do realize we’re wizards and there are spells for getting around these types of problems?”
I pulled a blank piece of parchment out of my bag as I moved over to Harry’s table. “Write every letter,” I instructed. “And zero through nine while you’re at it.” He looked at me like he was trying to figure out if I was joking or not. Seeing that I wasn’t, he wrote out the alphabet and jotted the numbers below. After he was done I took the parchment back and on a fresh sheet wrote out a few words, embellishing the writing so it looked nothing like Harry’s. Two spells later my words had morphed into Harry’s usual scrawl. “Magic,” I said dramatically, handing Harry the parchment so he could inspect it.
“You have spells for everything, don’t you?”
“You’d be surprised what sorts of spells come in use. So…moonstone essay?”
“Er…aren’t you tired? Do you really want to spend two hours flipping through books for an essay you’ve already finished?”
“Who said anything about books?” I responded. I pulled Harry’s essay towards me and began writing before he could stop me. “I figure I should leave a few errors or sloppy directions. He’d be suspicious if you suddenly handed in a Hermione worthy essay.”
“I would suggest doing McGonagall’s questions. Those will take more time than the bowtruckle essay.”
For an hour we sat there silently working. Every once in a while I could see Harry look up, likely confused about how much I could write without needing to look in a book. At two in the morning I laid down my quill and after casting the two spells to change the writing into Harry’s, I rolled the essay up.
“Done?” I asked ten minutes later when Harry closed his Care of Magical Creatures book.
“Yeah, finally,” he answered, looking relieved. I handed over the Potions essay and started packing my stuff into my bag. “Thanks,” Harry said awkwardly. “I’d probably still be working on Potions if you hadn’t helped.”
“You should read over that essay during breakfast so you at least have some idea about what moonstones do.”
“Right,” he agreed, packing his own things.
I wasn’t sure what came over me but before I could stop myself I blurted out, “He didn’t give you a zero.”
“Huh?” Harry asked.
“On your potion. He didn’t give you a zero. I…er, might have mentioned some unfairness from his end and he let it slip. Just thought you should know even if this does end up being your last year in Potions, well you won’t fail it. Try and keep it to yourself though.”
Harry looked quite taken aback for a moment before nodding. “I will. Thanks for the heads up.”
As we both went up our separate staircases, I couldn’t help but think maybe being friends with Harry Potter wouldn’t be so bad. Or maybe he’d been really desperate for some Potions help.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Saturday evening Fred sat down beside me in the common room. He looked tired and miffed about something. I’m guessing it was Quidditch related since he still had his team robes on. When I looked closer at his uniform, I spotted dark red drops.
“Is that blood?” I whispered fervently.
“What? Oh, yeah.”
“Are you hurt?” I asked, alarmed by his offhand answer.
“No, course not. Why–oh! No, no. It’s Katie’s blood. She…er…had a bad nose bleed during practice. She’s fine now. Madam Pomfrey patched her up.”
“Bad practice?” I questioned delicately.
“I’m not sure how it could have gone worse,” Fred answered, letting out a sigh. “Ron’s acting like he doesn’t have a clue what he’s doing even though he’s played loads better at home.” Ron Weasley had been chosen for Gryffindor’s new Keeper only yesterday.
“Angelina wouldn’t have picked him if he didn’t have enough skill. Anyways, it was his first practice, he’ll do ok. He comes from a talented Quidditch family.”
“Well look at you,” Fred said, smirking. “Any more compliments tonight?”
“Hmm? Oh! I meant Bill, Charlie, and George. But yeah, you too, you’re pretty decent,” I teased. Fred’s smirk slid off his face.
“You’re a heart breaker, you know that?” His eyes narrowed. “This is about the ginger thing, isn’t it?”
“I haven’t any idea what you’re talking about.”
“Why you cheeky, little –” I raised an eyebrow at him. “–wonderfully, beautiful lady.”
“Good save,” I commended.
“I’m always at the top of my game when I’m with you,” Fred replied with a grin. For a few minutes I sat there reading as Fred traced his fingers over the top of my hand. When I turned the page he spoke up again. “I don’t suppose you have any dirt on Malfoy we could use against him.”
“What?” I asked sharply.
“He and the other Slytherins in your year were at practice, taunting us. I have a feeling they’re going to be a permanent fixture after they saw how much they got to Ron. Me and George were thinking about giving them a taste of their own medicine. Malfoy’s their ring leader, might as well go for him.”
“No, I don’t know anything you could use,” I lied. “Don’t sink to their level.” I quickly changed topics before Fred could respond. “How’s the joke shop coming along?”
A/N: Just going to say this, I personally don’t approve of fully doing other people’s homework for them, even if they are Harry Potter. That’s my public service announcement for the day.
Ron’s first Quidditch practice is from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by JK Rowling, Chapter 14, Percy and Padfoot.
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