Chapter 15 : Chapter 15
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Absolutely not. This was mental. Completely nutters. What the heck was the Ministry thinking?! Umbridge as the first High Inquisitor?! How could anyone let Fudge have this much control over Hogwarts? So not only was he allowed to muck up wizarding society as Minister, but he was giving himself more and more power at Hogwarts too? It was ridiculous, absolutely ridiculous. And Umbridge was an immediate success?! Do they even know what those words mean? As far as I could tell, very, very few students enjoyed her teaching methods, let alone Umbridge herself. How was it that the one teacher who couldn’t teach was going to be allowed to judge all the others?
I reread Lucius’ quote three times, the scowl on my face deepening. “Our children’s best interest at heart.” What a load of – when had Lucius – never, never once in over fifteen years. He didn’t care about Draco unless it reflected on the Malfoy name. Draco was nothing more than a continuation of the Malfoy family to Lucius.
While my annoyed mood lasted through History of Magic, it was mostly replaced with curiosity after Snape handed back our moonstone essays. There was a large A scribbled on the top of mine but it was written oddly, not at all like Snape’s usual writing. When Snape announced he’d graded them based on the O.W.L. scale I realized what happened. It had started as an E that he must have quickly changed his mind about. So now he couldn’t give me the grade I earned? Or was he doing what he did with Harry, publicly giving me a lower grade but privately marking it higher? I stuffed the essay into my bag and caught Harry doing the same thing. I sent a questioning look his way. He saw me but obviously couldn’t say anything during class. I guess I could ask him later about it.
Turns out I didn’t have to wait long to find out about Harry’s grade because he hung back at the foot of the dungeon stairs. We were the last two people and were able to have a quiet, private conversation.
“How did –?”
“P,” he answered before I finished the question.
“P? That was definitely A worthy.”
“I guess he didn’t feel that way. How’d you do?”
“An A,” I admitted bitterly.
“That’s…er, good, right?”
“Lowest passing grade,” I corrected him.
“Oh, maybe Snape –”
“Even Parkinson got an A and she’s about as smart as a sack of rocks. Honestly, a P,” I complained, shaking my head. I was starting to get a feel for the blatant discrimination Snape held towards Harry.
“You’re actually surprised I got marked unfairly in Potions?”
“He could at least be a bit discreet about not liking you.”
“Er…have you ever met Snape?” Harry asked incredulously. “I’m just impressed I didn’t get a D.”
“Well when you put it that way,” I muttered.
“There’s Ron and Hermione, I have to go.”
“Yeah, bye,” I mumbled as he caught up with the other two.
Really Snape, a P?
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The next day, despite not having Defense, Umbridge was still in two classes. First there was Transfiguration. I was impressed with McGonagall’s handling of Umbridge, though at the same time, a bit worried. She may have put Umbridge in her place but everyone knew McGonagall was loyal to Dumbledore, surely that made her someone Umbridge would love to replace.
Umbridge showed up again during Care of Magical Creatures. We were still studying bowtruckles and I know I should have remained behind the rest of the class, but when I saw a familiar small bowtruckle looking up at the students, I stepped forward. As Grubbly-Plank answered Umbridge’s questions I reached my hand down towards the table. The bowtruckle hopped on, surprising Dean Thomas and Parvati who were on either side of me.
“Miss Lestrange,” Grubbly-Plank called out sharply. “We are simply observing today.”
I resisted the urge to roll my eyes, instead I nudged the bowtruckle, hoping it would get the hint. Unfortunately it didn’t seem to care. It climbed its way up to my shoulder and sat down, observing its surroundings. “Miss Lestrange,” Grubbly-Plank said disapprovingly.
“That was all him,” I pointed out, raising my hands in surrender. She frowned and stared at me suspiciously but then continued on with the lesson. Umbridge was also watching me closely. I tried to ignore it. It was just a bowtruckle, there was nothing sinister or against school rules about it.
After interrogating students about the class, Umbridge asked about injures sustained during lessons.
“A hippogriff cut me,” Draco told her quite simply.
“O–” I stomped on Harry’s foot, effectively shutting him up so he wouldn’t land another week of detention. The gesture went unnoticed by Umbridge but not by Draco who gave Harry a dark look, full of loathing.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
“Er…hi,” Hermione greeted awkwardly, standing next to the table I was seated at in the back of the library. “Can I sit down?”
“Yeah, go ahead. Why do you sound so nervous?” I asked curiously.
“I wanted to talk to you about something,” Hermione said, glancing around to check if there was anyone eavesdropping. I cast a few spells around us, surprising her.
“Privacy spells,” I explained.
“Oh, alright. Well, I wanted – want to form a study group.” I certainly wasn’t expecting that.
“You know, O.W.L.s are like eight months away. I don’t think you need that much time to prepare.”
“It’s not for O.W.L.s…not fully. It’s-it’s a practical defense study group.”
“A practical defense study group?” I repeated.
“Yes. That’s the idea.”
“What else besides O.W.L.s are you trying to accomplish?” I asked suspiciously.
“Umbridge is a horrible teacher. We need a proper one, someone who can help teach us how to defend ourselves against V-Voldemort.”
“I’m not entirely sure why you’re here,” I told her.
“I’ve already talked to Harry and Ron about it. I just…how would we go about it? Obviously we don’t want Umbridge finding out –”
“Study groups are allowed.”
“I know but this one is a bit…radical, don’t you think? She’d probably ban it if she found out.”
“So you’re here because I’m the best person you could think of for tips on sneaking around?” I asked, raising an eyebrow.
“No,” Hermione said hastily. “I meant…I think people who want to, should be allowed to join and learn how to defend themselves but it’s like the…the Order,” she whispered. “Last time Wormtail was a spy and nobody knew. How do we know someone isn’t going to tell Umbridge?”
“Just how many people are we talking about?”
“I’m not sure, but I’m certain there’s quite a few who would want to learn from Harry.”
“Harry’s your teacher?” No offense but if anyone was going to teach spells, Hermione was the logical choice.
“I thought it would be good for him. To show him not everyone believes all this Ministry rubbish. And he’s good at spells and knows what it’s like facing those situations. It would also show the others in the group that Harry isn’t what the Prophet is trying to make him seem like.” Well when she put it that way.
“He agreed to teach however many students you recruit?”
“Er…I think he will. We haven’t gone into all the details yet but he did say he’d think about it.”
“Ok. Throw some names at me, who do you plan on asking?” As surreal as this idea sounded, it was nearly the same thing I’d wanted over the summer, so why not? Let’s have one of the people who’s faced the Dark Lord and managed to live through it, teach others about defending themselves.
“Me, Harry and Ron. The rest of the Weasleys,” she named first. “I…I thought you might join, unless you can’t because of…your situation. I would understand,” she said quickly. Wait, me not join? What sort of crazy nonsense was that?!
“There’s Dean, Neville, Lavender, and Parvati. I think the rest of the Gryffindor Quidditch team would join. Lee Jordan, the Creevey brothers.”
“These are all Gryffindors,” I pointed out.
“A few Hufflepuffs and Ravenclaws in our year. Ernie Macmillan and Hannah Abbot. Maybe Susan Bones but her aunt does work at the Ministry. And I’m sure Cho Chang would want to join.”
“So, like twenty?”
“I’m hoping for a few more if I can manage. Maybe the Ravenclaw prefects. Anthony and Padma are nice enough and it would be nice to have the six prefects unified.”
“Alright. What idea did you have for getting them to keep quiet?”
“Ideally a secrecy charm, but we can’t possibly cast that on everyone –”
“Well not directly,” I added.
“I’m not sure we should start placing spells on everyone we’re trying to recruit,” Hermione replied with a touch of disapproval in her voice.
“Well if you’re going to be noble about it,” I muttered.
“I was thinking I could cast a charm on a piece of parchment then everybody’s signature would bind them to it. So if they ever did tell, we’d know who it was.”
“So discreetly casting a charm on them isn’t allowed, but letting them unknowingly bind themselves to a sheet of parchment is ok by you?”
“It’s just to tell us if they do tell someone,” Hermione rationalized. “It doesn’t stop them from telling.” I chose to let it go and moved on to the next obstacle.
“Where are we all going to meet?”
“I thought I could get the word out about a meeting in Hogsmeade during the first visit.”
“You’ll need to contact everyone during the next week without making yourself look suspicious,” I warned her. “You can’t just walk up to somebody unless you have a good cover story in case you’re questioned about it.”
“I’ll manage,” Hermione said confidently.
“Where in Hogsmeade?”
“I checked the rules and even asked Professor Flitwick about it. The Hog’s Head seems like the best choice –”
“Hermione…there would be two dozen of us in one place. We’ll stick out immediately if we go there.”
“The Three Broomsticks would be better.”
“It’ll be packed! Anyone could hear us.”
“That’s why they invented privacy charms in the first place. Or better yet, we’ll get our own parlor for an hour and place spells all around that.”
“You don’t think that will stand out?” Hermione asked skeptically.
“Trust me, I know a lot about sneaking around. We’ll be fine.” Hermione didn’t look completely reassured but nodded nonetheless and said she’d start reaching out to people. She began to rise from her seat but paused, looking like she was having a mental debate. “Yes?” I asked.
“I was wondering…last year during Defense, when Moody – well Crouch Jr., cast the Imperius Curse on us all.” Internally I froze, worried about what Hermione was about to say. “What did it feel like for you?” I looked up, confused by the question. “You fought it off so fast, I just…I was wondering if there was anything different you did.”
Honestly I hadn’t felt a thing. I couldn’t admit that to Hermione though, it would lead to questions I couldn’t answer. “It…it was like someone trying to take control of my limbs,” I lied. “I suppose I fought it off so quickly because I wanted to stay in control. Plus I’ve got some practice with that,” I said, tapping my head pointedly. Hermione’s eyes went wide.
“I–I’ll leave you to get back to your homework,” she said awkwardly. “Bye.”
Well at least mentioning my father in my head was useful at making Hermione clear off quickly.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
“That’s the standard rate.”
“I’m only using it for two hours.”
“Fifteen Galleons an hour.”
“I at least want a free bag of crisps thrown in.” Madam Rosmerta reached under the counter and pulled out a small bag of crisps, setting them down in front of me. “If I’m giving you thirty Galleons you can at least spare a bigger bag.” The barmaid rolled her eyes but did replace the small bag with a much larger one. I reached out to grab it, only to have Rosmerta stop me and hold out her hand expectantly. I counted out thirty gold coins and handed them over.
“Room two, down the hall on your left. And you need to sign this.” She held out a slip of parchment.
“What’s this for?” I asked suspiciously.
“It’s saying you agree to pay for any damage that occurs.”
“I’ve already paid you thirty Galleons, you really think I’m going to do anything that would cost me more?” I said in disbelief.
“It’s happened before with students,” Rosmerta responded coolly. “I think it’s only fair you pay for excessive damage. If you don’t break anything then you won’t owe anything.” Grudgingly I signed the parchment before handing it back. “Have a nice day,” Rosmerta said before turning towards a different patron at the bar.
“You too,” I muttered sarcastically. I grabbed the crisps and worked my way through the crowd back to the table Fred, George, and Lee Jordan were sitting at.
“Were you haggling Rosmerta?” Fred asked, laughing.
“I was not haggling,” I said defensively as I sat down. “I was getting my money’s worth.”
The three boys glanced at each other. “Haggling,” they declared in unison.
“Just for that I’m not sharing these,” I replied, opening the bag of crisps and purposely making a show of eating them. I swatted Fred’s hand when he tried to reach into the bag.
“Aren’t you supposed to be casting privacy spells while we play look out?” George reminded me.
“Right. Two of you stay here and keep an eye on things.” I stood up again and Fred moved to join me. “Er…” I said awkwardly. “It might not look…appropriate if…if you and me go into a private room together,” I explained, my face feeling warm. George let out a snort of laughter and Lee smirked.
“Guess I’m up then, seeing as it can’t be either of you,” Lee said.
“You sure?” Fred asked me.
“We’ll be fine. Just keep an eye on the crowd out here. You know who to watch for. It should only take fifteen to twenty minutes. Oh, also Hermione, Harry, and Ron might show up early.”
“I’ll behave myself, mate,” Lee said jokingly, standing up.
I cast a glare at him as George took a swig of his Butterbeer. “It’s not Fred you have to watch out for,” he advised. Lee glanced at me, the smirk slipping off his face.
“Come on,” I ordered. “Let’s see if you can make yourself useful.” Lee followed me, looking sheepish as Fred and George happily split the crisps.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Well it definitely could have gone worse. Especially with the number of people Hermione had recruited. Nearly thirty of us met in room two in the Three Broomsticks and for most of the time, everybody’s eyes were on Harry. I don’t think Hermione quite explained all the details to him because he looked very shocked to see us all. It was crowded with us all in one room but we managed. Things did get heated with a Hufflepuff bloke, Zacharias Smith, but he was quickly silenced by Fred and George. I also expected Hermione to keep arguing with Luna Lovegood who I was honestly surprised to see there.
Then as we were wrapping up, Hermione pulled out a quill and parchment. “I-I think everybody should write their name down, just so we know who was here.”
I’m sure nobody else found the rest of her words odd, yet I picked up on the other meaning. It was a thin warning that signing meant you agreed not to tell and if you did, Hermione would know about it.
This is where people showed a bit of reluctance. The Gryffindors all signed but a few of the others didn’t feel comfortable with it. In the end, Hermione’s assurances that she would keep the list safe convinced them, even Smith, though he was the last to sign.
There was a pause afterwards, like no one knew what to do next. I glanced up at the clock on the wall.
“Er…you’re all going to have to clear out before I get charged another fifteen Galleons.”
A/N: Alright, did Hermione really need Jade’s help for setting up the D.A.? Not particularly. So ask yourself, why was Hermione really there?
Hermione’s quote and the first meeting of the D.A. are from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by JK Rowling, Chapter 16, In the Hog’s Head and Umbridge being made High Inquisitor is from Chapter 15, The Hogwarts High Inquisitor.
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