Harry Potter and the Gemini Curse @ghostandmiracle42
Act IV, Chapter 5

Act IV, Chapter 5: The First Strike

The moment Harry sat down in his first Defence Against the Dark Arts Class of the year, he knew he was in trouble. Lupin, who was only three days past the Full Moon, was sitting on his desk, book in hand, looking incredibly frail. Sitting in the corner on a fluorescent pink plush armchair, was Umbridge, sipping a cup of tea. Harry sat next to Hermione in the middle of the room, and carefully extracted his textbook – Curses and their Counters: The Art of Magical Duelling – out of his bookbag. He glanced at Brains, who was looking equally as anxious. Once the rest of the class had sat down, Malfoy in the very front row – which was incredibly unlike him – Lupin stood up, dusted off his robes, and placed his book down on the desk.

"Welcome back for your fifth year. I take it you've already been dumped with mountains of homework by your other classes today?" A murmur of agreement passed through the class, and Lupin smiled softly at them all.

"Well, you'll be pleased to know that you won't be getting any extra work from me." The entire room let out a collective sigh of relief. "But this is your O.W.L year, so don't expect me to go easy on you forever. Now, you'll be delighted to hear that last year we finished all our new content for this course. And that means, this year we bring everything you've learnt together, and we prepare you for exactly what a Magical Duel, be it with a fellow wizard, or a beast, may entail."

'Hem, Hem.' Umbridge cleared her throat and pulled out a clipboard.

"Yes, Madame Umbridge?" Lupin asked politely as Malfoy sniggered in his seat.

"I apologise for interrupting, Mr Lupin, but I couldn't help but notice that you plan to teach these young people how to duel?" Lupin frowned.

"Yes, that is what's set out in my lesson plan. The one I submitted before term started, as every teacher does every year," he said, seemingly confused.

"Oh no," Hermione whispered in Harry's ear, "This is a lot worse than we feared." Harry didn't have a chance to answer, as Umbridge spoke again in her high-pitched girly voice.

"Yes, I've been looking over your plan, and I must say, it is far from the Ministry-approved course outlined for this subject."

Lupin raised an eyebrow at the woman. "The Ministry-approved course is highly insufficient to pass an O.W.L exam Madame Umbridge. My lesson plan is drawn from the ICW Defence Against the Dark Arts Syllabus for the Ordinary Wizarding Level. If you have a problem with it, I suggest you take it up with the ICW Department of Education and Magical Testing," he said flatly, before returning his attention to the class. Harry breathed a sigh of relief.

See, don't worry. Hermione was freaking about nothing. Ginny told him through their connection. She was rather board in Transfiguration, having already succeeded in transfiguring her gerbil.

"First things first, let's see if you remember what I taught you last year. The most important spell when facing any opponent is what?"

Hermione's hand shot into the air, "The Shield Charm, Professor."

"Correct Miss Granger, take two points for Gryffindor."

"And just why is it the most important? Someone else?"

"Because it can be used, depending on the focus and will of the caster, to defend against any spell," Daphne Greengrass recited.

"Exactly, two points to Slytherin. And what are the exceptions to that rule?"

"The Unforgivable Curses," the class replied. Umbridge's face contorted into a scowl.

"Excellent." Lupin exclaimed, "Now if you'll all stand up. Let's see if your memory extends beyond theory, shall we?" Lupin pulled out his wand and, once everyone was on their feet, sent all the desks to the side of the room. He spun his wand over his head and three targets dropped from the roof.

"Wands out everyone. We'll start with Expelliarmus, then make our way up. Every week from now until O.W.L's we'll be having a little competition. The person who gets the most spells in the target by the end of the period will receive a two-week homework exemption." That got everyone moving fast to line up behind a target. Harry led the right-hand line, Malfoy the left, and Ron ended up in the lead of the middle line.

Lupin stepped to the side of the room and flicked his wand to his record player, which he kept in the back corner.

"Disarming Charms on three! One, two thr…"

"Enough!" Umbridge cried, stepping straight between the students and the targets. Her face was bright red, and her hands were visibly shaking. Harry had forgotten she was even in the room. She banished the targets and silenced the record player. Every student, even Malfoy, had their jaw drop open. Lupin's expression had grown quite dark.

"I'm sorry? I wasn't aware you had the right to disrupt my class Madame Umbridge. I must have missed that in the fifty-page memo you Owled us." Hermione, who was behind Harry, gripped his shoulder.

Okay… this is bad.

A bitter cold began to creep out from the Gemini Rune.

"You were going to have school children casting deadly spells! I cannot allow such a thing. I should have expected it from… from… something like you," Umbridge fumed. She was trembling something fierce. Harry's jaw dropped open.

"Something like me?" Lupin said, taking a step forward, "to what exactly are you referring to Madame?"

"I held my tongue over the goblin half breed, and you mark my words that games keeper will be gone before he's even back from whatever leave he's on. But you teaching students how to attack each other; I will not have!"

"Pardon me, Professor Lupin, but Madame Umbridge, I'm afraid you're mistaken," Hermione said, stepping between Harry and Ron, "The disarming charm is not lethal. In fact, it's potential for damage is quite minimal, as evidenced by the fact that it is a charm and not…"

"Silence! You don't know what you're saying. This… thing… has been corrupting your mind."

"Actually," Ron said hesitantly, "it's right here in the textbook." He opened his book and pointed to a page with the Disarming Charm written in bold ink at the top. Harry couldn't help the smirk that hinted at the edge of his mouth.

Is Ron defending Hermione? Ginny's voice echoed.


Hm. The flame's still burning, I guess.


You never noticed? Ron likes Hermione. Has since the second year. That's why they're always fighting. Or were.

Harry's smile definitely came out that time.

You're so cute when you're oblivious.

"The Ministry will not allow you to teach these dangerous spells to school children," Umbridge stated firmly, as if her words would make the fact reality.

"As Miss Granger, who is an exemplary student, stated. The Disarming Charm is not lethal as you seem to believe. You can borrow one of the textbooks and check if you'd like?" Remus said, a smug smirk on his face.

Umbridge looked about five seconds away from blowing steam out her ears she was so red.

"It is the view of the Ministry of Magic that a theoretical knowledge will be more than sufficient to get students through their examinations. The ICW course is unacceptable and out of date for modern peaceful times."

"Um, Madame Umbridge," Parvati stuttered, "There's a practical element to our defence exam. If we don't practice, how will we pass?"

"As long as you have studied the theory hard enough, there is no reason you should not be able to perform the spells under carefully controlled examination conditions," Umbridge said, clearly regaining her stride.

"I'm afraid that's highly inaccurate Madame. Numerous studies prove…"

"Silence! I will not be contradicted by the likes of you! As long as the children have studied the theory hard enough…"

"And how's theory supposed to prepare us for what's out in the real world?" Harry yelled, and most of the class murmured their agreement. Umbridge turned her gaze on him, and Harry was actually put back at how much hatred he saw there.

What did you ever do to her?

She must really not have liked me calling her out in front of Fudge.

This is more than that.

"This is a school, not the real world."

"School is meant to prepare you for the real world, that is what school is all about, Madame Umbridge. Now I suggest you sit down and allow me to continue with my class," Lupin said firmly, trying to diffuse the growing tension. But Harry was having none of it.

"So, we're not supposed to be prepared for what's waiting for us out there? Is that your view? You want us all to be killed or worse?!"

"There is nothing waiting out there, Mr Potter. Who do you imagine wants to attack children like yourself?" Umbridge said, a sudden glean appearing in her eye.

It's bait! Don't fall for it!

"Have you not been paying attention the last months? People have started disappearing across the country! I've been abducted not once, but twice by the same people. I'd wager they'd like to attack and rape children, like myself," Harry raged.

"And who exactly is this group you keep mentioning. You haven't even given us a name. I am inclined to think you have made the whole thing up in your quest for more attention!" Harry's jaw fell clean open, Ron gasped in shock, Neville fell over, Lavender Brown let out a tiny squeal, and Lance Hunter short whistled in shock.

Okay. I've had it with this hag.

You and me both love.

"Now, all of you, let us make things quite plain. You have been frightened into believing that you are at risk of attack by dark forces. This is a lie. The only thing you need to fear is the half-breed standing in front of me…"

The Gemini Rune blazed forth in fury, and Harry snapped.

"Watch your language, Toad-face. Or I'll have to watch it for you." Everyone turned to face Harry, but he didn't care. He stepped forward, wand still in his hand – though it was by his side in a non-threatening manner – and glared at Umbridge, who suddenly looked very frightened.

"I do not tolerate slurs against good people. Especially slurs based on the pathetic belief that you are better than anyone else. Is that clear?"

I'm on my way. McGonagall's chasing after me. Keep her distracted for a few seconds…

"Are you threatening me, Mr Potter," Umbridge asked coldly.

"Harry stand down," Lupin said sharply. Harry ignored him.

"I guess I am," Harry said. The Firebrand was searing against his arm. He knew that he wasn't doing an excellent job of keeping his anger, or his power, in check, but he didn't care. This woman, no matter her position, would not be calling anyone a half breed in front of him. Especially not Remus.

"Then I'll see you expelled," Umbridge said sweetly.

"Good luck with that," Ginny exclaimed, blasting the classroom door off its hinges and waltzing into the room as if she owned it, "You can't do shit to him. Your boss wouldn't dare. Not with a potentially dangerous element out there. Not to mention, you couldn't expel him anyway, he's emancipated you, idiot. You can't touch him. So, get off your high horse and calm the fuck down, bitch."

"Now," Harry said, restoring the room's attention to him, "You are going to apologise to Professor Lupin, then I am going to write a letter to the Minister for Magic, your boss, asking him to curtail your behaviour or have you removed."

"Mr Potter, Mrs Potter! What is going on here!?" McGonagall yelled, entering the room with heavy breathing.

"Madame Umbridge called Professor Lupin an inappropriate racial slur in front of the class, Professor McGonagall. I was requesting she apologise for her offensive comment," Harry said, turning and nodding to his Head of House respectfully.

McGonagall's face softened, and she nodded to Harry and Ginny.

"Professor Lupin, is Mr Potter correct?" Remus, who now had his hand on Harry's shoulder, turned to McGonagall.

"I'm afraid so. I had intended to ignore it, but Mr Potter was highly offended," He said simply.

"Well, Dolores? Anything to say?"

"Mr Potter threatened me and should be expelled from the school immediately, and so should Miss Weasley!"

"Mrs Potter. Get it right, hag," Ginny growled, fire alight in her eyes.

Damn your hot when you're mad.

Thanks. I have a feeling I'm going to be like this a lot with this toad around.

"Mr Potter and Mrs Potter cannot be expelled from the school Dolores. You know that, as you tried it before they even reached the castle and were told the same thing. They are not considered minors in the eyes of the law and attend the school of their own free will. They are not subjugated to the board's Duty of Care policy."

Umbridge's face made a remarkable impression of Uncle Vernon's, and she stormed towards the door. Harry narrowed his eyes and watched her go.

"Potters, you need to be careful. You're smart. You know why Madame Umbridge is here, she's going to report you to the Minister now."

Harry shrugged, "what's he going to do?"

"Send you to Azkaban if you aren't careful."

Ginny scoffed, "I'd like to see him try."

Umbridge's next inspection was a Charms class with the fourth-year Gryffindors and Ravenclaws. Thankfully it ran a lot smoother than Harry's Defence Against the Dark Arts class. Umbridge attempted to goad both Flitwick and Ginny into a confrontation, but neither of them rose to the bait. In fact, Flitwick had designed his lesson so that they didn't actually use any practical charm work that might have set the woman off. Instead, he set it for homework. Umbridge had still found ways to attack the diminutive teacher however, highly offending the Ravenclaws in the process. Unfortunately for Umbridge, Professor Flitwick was hands down the most well-liked teacher at the school, so even the Slytherin's were loath to say anything bad about him. Well except Malfoy, but it seemed even his own house was turning against him in their hatred of Umbridge. Many of them might hate half breeds as much as she did, but they cared more about getting good grades in their classes than getting rid of the best teachers in the school.

Harry sent off a rather annoyed letter to Fudge via Hedwig written with help from Hermione that he hoped might diffuse the situation slightly. Harry didn't like using such underhanded tactics, but Hermione and Matt had assured him they were necessary. Both of them being much smarter than he was, he deferred to their judgement. He just wished that Jessica could put her opinion in too, she was the best at these things.

Moony was forced to dull down his Defence classes. His planned 'no homework competitions' got scrapped, and they weren't allowed to do spells in class. But he still had them practising wand movements, and they were learning about dodging and quick shielding. These were both things Lupin and Sirius had drilled into the Defenders the previous year in their first term lessons in the Home, so Harry and Hermione were quite good at it. As was Lance Hunter from Slytherin. Harry didn't really know much about him, other than that he was a Half-Blood and hadn't called Hermione a Mudblood before, so he couldn't be all bad. What he did know was that he was a fair hand at duelling, – or at least the parts they could do without angering Umbridge – so much so that he was the only one beside Hermione and Lupin himself that kept up with him. Was having the Firebrand cheating? Hermione insisted it was, but Harry preferred Matt's view of using all abilities available.

Harry had not heard from Sirius at all since he returned to school, and he wasn't sure exactly how he felt about that. On the one hand, he was still slightly mad at him for tricking him into visiting his boss Amelia Bones about his treatment at the Dursley's, which he had researched behind Harry's back. On the other, the silence was killing him.

Snape was also a victim of Umbridge. Harry almost felt sorry for him… actually, that would be a lie. He had thoroughly enjoyed his humiliation.

Harry was sitting in his customary seat with Hermione at the very back of the room, using Lily Potter's copy of the Potions Textbook rather than Snape's instructions on the board to prepare a Strengthening Solution when the pink toad let herself into the Dungeon classroom without so much as a knock. Snape looked absolutely furious for a few moments, before schooling his features and continuing to prowl around people's Cauldrons.

Snape seemed to be intent on taking out all the rage he'd missed out on imparting on Harry while he and Hermione had been off, to quote Snape himself, "gallivanting in other countries," the previous year. As such, he and Hermione worked diligently every period they had with the greasy git to make sure their potion was perfect. If it was anything less than, Snape would vanish the potion and fail them, as even he couldn't fail them if they created a perfect brew.

Initially, Umbridge sat at a corner desk making notes. Then, about halfway through the lesson, she started interrogating Snape as he prowled, specifically as he reached Harry and Hermione's table.

"Well, the class does seem quite advanced for their level," Umbridge said in her annoying voice, which had quickly risen to above even Voldemort's high-pitched cackle to achieve first place on Harry's list of most hated noises. Snape stopped from his rigorous examination of Harry's potion to stare at Umbridge with his usual sneer.

"How long have you been teaching at Hogwarts?"

"Fourteen years," Snape told her. Harry, trying desperately hard not to laugh as Snape's sneer became even more fixed on his face, accidentally dropped his Salamander blood into his potion much too early. Hermione hissed at him and began fiddling with his potion to fix it, but Harry was too fixated on Snape to care.

"You applied first for the Defence Against the Dark Arts post is that correct?" Umbridge asked.

"Yes," Snape said quietly.

"But you were unsuccessful?"

Snape's eyes went wide, and Harry choked on his tongue.

"Obviously." He couldn't help it. Harry, Neville, Dean, Seamus and Ron all burst out laughing in unison.

"And you have regularly applied for the Defence Post since you first joined the school, I believe?"

"Yes," Snape said quietly. Harry spotted his hand hovering dangerously close to his wand, and quickly turned back to his potion, only to realise it was now the exact opposite of the colour it was meant to be. And his cauldron was starting to melt. Hermione was hiding under her desk, Lily Potter's textbook clutched in her robes, a shield charm brandished in front of her.

Honey, please duck.

Harry dove to the ground and thrust his hand out behind him, "Protego!" A shimmering shield appeared around him, drawing the attention of everyone in the room. A second later, Harry's cauldron detonated, and a mushroom cloud filled the air. Harry dropped his shield and risked an upward glance. His desk had been evaporated, as had the first layer of stone flooring. Snape was sitting on the floor, robes on fire and supporting a distinct lack of hair on his head. Also, it looked like his nose was broken, though Harry couldn't be sure, as it had always been long, pointy and crooked at an odd angle.

"Potter. Detention for the rest of the month. How many times must I tell you not to add Salamander Blood to anything if not handling the mixture properly?" Snape asked coldly.

Umbridge, who was somehow completely unaffected, scribbled on her clipboard, cleared her throat yet again and left the room.

The final straw that turned the entire school against Umbridge was when she 'inspected' McGonagall's Transfiguration class in the second week of term. Neither Harry nor Ginny had been in the class, but the first-year students who were had regaled any who would listen of McGonagall's virtual dressing down of the most hated person in Hogwarts.

Professor Flitwick may have been the most well-liked of the Hogwarts staff, but Professor McGonagall was undoubtedly the most respected. You did not interrupt or insult Professor McGonagall. Especially not to her face.

But Harry and the Defenders couldn't figure out what to do about her. Harry's letter to Fudge had gone unanswered, and by the end of the third week of September, Hedwig had yet to return, which was increasing Harry's insecurity. The only stabilising element was Ginny. She was always there in the back of his mind whenever Harry and Umbridge were in the same room, and her constant reminders to keep his cool had spared him numerous Detentions. Ginny herself was leaning heavily on Harry for the same reason: it wasn't as if her being the more trigger happy of the two was unknown after all. Malfoy took exceptional joy in needling the two of them. Ginny was itching to Bat Bogey him, but Umbridge seemed to always be just around the corner whenever Malfoy baited them. As a result, they kept as close to Matt as possible when they were outside of class. His senses always gave them forewarning before Umbridge could sneak up on them, and they'd managed to avoid detentions with her so far.

On the Friday of the third week, Harry was beginning to go stir crazy, and he couldn't help ranting to Hermione and Susan Bones as they stepped into Ancient Runes.

"I have a theory. No, no, no, hear me out. This one's good. So, what if she's actually the offspring of a toad and a Dementor? Wouldn't that make sense?" Harry exclaimed as they took seats in the front row. Harry had taken significant joy in watching people slowly trickle out of this class. They had started with about twenty students in third year, but now they only had nine. Himself, Hermione, Susan Bones, Daphne Greengrass, Anthony Goldstein, Padma Patil, Leopold Fitz and Jemma Simmons. Fitz and Simmons, a pair of inseparable Ravenclaws Harry quite liked, sat down beside them as Harry made his piece.

"I can see it," Jemma agreed, pulling out her book. But Fitz was shaking his head rapidly and gesturing behind them. Harry, a look of mortification sliding onto his face, turned around to see Umbridge sitting elegantly in the back row, clipboard out. Harry glanced to Hermione, a look of horror on his face. They'd thought at least Professor Babbling and Professor Vector – both Purebloods – would be safe from Umbridge. They were wrong.

Professor Babbling stepped out of her office and into the classroom proper fiddling with a large astrolabe as she did so.

"Good Morning, Class!" She exclaimed in her usual exuberant manner. "I've got a real treat for us today! I've borrowed this wonderful piece of technology from a friend of mine who works in the Department of… Mysteries…" Babbling had just noticed Umbridge sitting in the corner.

"Oh, don't halt your lesson on my account, Professor. Please continue," she beckoned in a honeyed voice Harry just knew meant they should all pack up and reschedule the lesson. Babbling, most of the colour vanished from her face, nodded a few times, before drawing her wand and raising a pedestal from the floor.

"Gather around everyone," she said, her cheeriness a thing of the past. Everyone stood and surrounded the Astrolabe. It was a thing of beauty, Harry thought. A dozen rings all orbiting a single sphere in the heart. Each ring had a series of images depicted on them… many of them Harry recognised from Astronomy.

"Are those constellations, Professor?" Susan asked, voicing Harry's thoughts.

"Indeed, they are Miss Bones! Well spotted, indeed. Each ring of the Astrolabe as you see it here is etched with one of the 39 runic symbols based upon the constellations we see in the night sky. Even the Zodiac Runes." Babbling glanced to Harry at this point. "The Astrolabe, a tool of the ancient Witches and Wizards, allows us to use the stars as guidance across the world. It has naturally few uses in the modern world, but it's use in Ancient Runes remains." Babbling levitated the Astrolabe over the pedestal and pointed her wand at the core with two hands.

"Activation of the Astrolabe requires a direct connection to the Magical Core or the Soul." Babbling closed her eyes, and her wand began to glow with an ethereal white light. A beam of energy light up the room, before colliding with the Astrolabe core. Babbling stumbled back and was caught by Fitz and Simmons. Harry and Hermione both stood transfixed by the Astrolabe. The rings were slowly beginning to spin around the core, and all the hairs on the back of Harry's neck were standing at full attention.

"Now, let's dim these lights shall we," Babbling said, and with another flick of her wand, all the lights in the room went out. Except for the Astrolabe. Now the pulsing glow of the core was even stronger, and all the runes on the orbiting rings were glowing as they rotated. Then, in a burst of light, each rune began emitting rays of their own, and the entire room was filled with images. All 39 symbols flying across the walls. Even Umbridge looked impressed, which was saying something.

"You can see why these patterns were invaluable to old-world travellers – muggle and magical alike. But for us Runic Masters, which all of you are well on your way to being, they carry an even greater meaning. It is this knowledge that led us to the invention of Apparation!" The entire class awed, and Babbling's smile fully returned to her face. "If we have enough power, we can create a wormhole, a tear in the fabric of space-time, which enables us to travel between locations instantaneously, move between parallel dimensions or, theoretically, even travel through time!" Harry's head snapped towards the astrolabe. Could this be the secret of the Home's existence? Had his mum been sitting in a similar class thinking the same thing Harry was right now? It was enough to make his head spin.

"For example. We can use six runes to mark a three-dimensional location within space, then add a seventh to represent the point of origin. This will open a wormhole between the point of origin and the target destination. The only problem is that opening such a bridge, and then maintaining the connection long enough to be of any use requires massive amounts of power. In the past, Runic Masters have used energy channelled directly from the sun, or from an active volcano to power such a bridge, and even further back still, there is evidence to suggest that the Ancients drew on a type of unknown power to achieve sustained connections for almost half an hour! Incredible, isn't it?!" Harry certainly agreed. This was incredible. He couldn't help but stare in awe at the symbols rotating around the room. But there was something that didn't quite make sense. He was sure he'd seen these patterns before somewhere. But for the life of him, he couldn't think of where. It was on the tip of his tongue, but he just couldn't place it.

"A few of my colleagues have requested access to the new Muggle invention known as Nuclear Reactors, as they believe that such power would be sufficient…"

"Enough of this!" Umbridge yelled, and the entire class – Babbling included – groaned. Harry turned towards the toad woman, who was hurrying down the stairs, wand in hand. Harry moved to stand in front of the Astrolabe, and Professor Babbling, having guessed as well as he had what was about to happen, quickly disabled the device before Umbridge could damage it and possibly kill them all.

"I will not have you filling these children's heads with fanciful notions of Ancients and Wormholes and Muggle Power. The Ancients are a lie spread by other nations to make themselves sound better than us, the original decedents of Merlin!"

"The Founders predated Merlin – he was a Slytherin for starters, and Merlin himself was an Ancient," Hermione muttered under her breath.

"These wormholes do not exist and cannot exist!"

"Then how do we apparate or use portkeys?" Susan whispered into Harry's ear, and he couldn't help smirking.

"And the Muggles are still living in squaller like the inferior filth they are!"

"Then why are we hiding from them?" Daphne Greengrass of all people whispered, arms folded across her chest.

"This… device will be confiscated into Ministry custody at once!"

Babbling snorted, her smile gone once more as she returned light to the room.

"Sure. It's Ministry property you idiot. I have to have it back to Croaker within half an hour. It's an annual contract we have the DoM. So have fun dealing with the Unspeakables when they come asking for it." With that, Babbling turned on her heel and walked out the door. Harry and the other eight kids quickly gathered their books and followed her out.

"We have to do something about her," Susan moaned as they made their way towards the Great Hall.

"Like what?" Fitz asked, "She controls the entire school."

"I don't know. At the very least we need to be actually practising defence, and I could use help with the charms too. Not having Flitwick helping us with them in class anymore is making things a lot harder," Susan sighed, "Harry being attacked twice now just proves that everything she says about no threat out there is hogwash."

"Not to mention all the ordinary thieves and magical beasts we might encounter," Anthony Goldstein added.

"We need a teacher," Hermione perked up, "someone Umbridge can't do anything about. All the Hogwarts staff, except maybe McGonagall, are in Umbridge's firing line. Professor Lupin will be gone by Christmas, Professor Flitwick not long after, and I doubt Professor Babbling will be safe either after that."

"But who then?" Jemma asked.

"It would have to be some teacher," Padma said as they reached the Hall.

"Yeah. Let me know if you find one. I might be a Slytherin, but I want to pass my O.W.L's as much as you guys," Daphne stated. Then she turned on her heel and walked over to the Slytherin table.

"Guys, I'll catch up to you… I… I've had an idea," Hermione stuttered, eyes fixed on Harry. Then she fled up the Grand Staircase in the direction of Gryffindor Tower.

Hermione missed History of Magic. For anyone else, this wouldn't have been very notable. Harry himself skipped History of Magic all the time. But Hermione had never missed a lesson in her life. Not only was Hermione missing, but Ron and Parvati were gone as well. So as soon as class finished, Harry bolted to the Gryffindor Common Room. He arrived at the same time as Ginny and Luna, who'd been in Herbology together. When they stepped inside, they found Hermione, Ron, Parvati, Fred, George and Katie Bell, all yelling at each other in front of the fire.

"We can't do much by ourselves," Ron was saying in a defeated voice, "I mean, all right, we can go and look jinxes up in the library and try and practice them, I suppose."

"Ron's right. It would be like shooting in the dark…" Fred pointed out.

"… and we can't go to Madam Pomfrey if we get ourselves injured," George added.

"No, I agree, we've gone past the stage where we can just learn things out of books," Hermione admitted.

"We need a teacher," Parvati concluded, mirroring Hermione's statement earlier that morning.

"But who?" Katie asked.

"What are you guys up to?" Harry asked, walking over to them with a raised eyebrow. Everyone looked at him, and based on Hermione's evil grin, he had the feeling he had just walked into a trap.

"We need someone that can teach us DADA, Charms and even Runes that Umbridge won't let us learn. Someone that knows what's out there, and can correct us if we're doing anything wrong," Hermione said, an odd sparkle to her eye that Harry wasn't sure he liked directed at him.

"I can't get Sirius in here. Or Tonks. I don't know who you'd get," Harry admitted, slumping his shoulders.

"No. Padfoot and Tonks aren't who I have in mind."

"Who then?" Harry asked.

"Isn't it obvious?" Luna said dreamily, "She's talking about you, Harry." Harry looked from Luna to Hermione, to Ginny, waiting for one of them to admit to pulling his leg. But on the contrary, Ginny was giving him that blazing look that he both loved and feared.

"Excellent," She beamed, cracking her fingers.

Oh yeah. Definitely a trap.

The Hogs Head was not an establishment Harry would ever willingly step into. He decided this very quickly after walking in with Hermione and Ginny. He wasn't sure whether it was the thick smell of goats, the shady looking customers, the ragged old bartender, or just the overall atmosphere that gave credence to the notion that more than one person had been murdered inside it. But despite this, he entered the dingy pub anyway, and Hermione led him to a back room, where almost thirty people were waiting for them.

Wow. I never expected so many…

Harry's jaw actually dropped open slightly. When Hermione had unveiled her plan to create a secret study group to practice the DADA and offensive Charms that had now been banned, he had laughed it off. But after some serious thought, he'd finally decided that it wasn't a bad idea. Plus, as Matt had pointed out, more allies was never a bad thing, especially with Voldemort on the rise. They had still heard nothing from Sirius, Hedwig was missing, Fudge certainly wasn't helping them as they'd initially hoped he would, and the Dragons had vanished. There had been a massive explosion near the Wakandan Border, but no evidence any of the Defenders could actually connect to them. Harry had even used Matt's owl Stick to send a letter to Doctor Strange. The Doctor's assistant, Wong, had sent back a short two-sentence reply, "Doctor Strange is currently occupied in the Dark Dimension. He will address your inquiry upon his return." Not very helpful. So, it was just Harry and the seven of them, and now Harry stood, nerves the highest since his confrontation with the Ministry.

Danny stood with fellow Hufflepuffs Susan Bones, Hannah Abbot, Ernie MacMillan, Eloise Midgen, Zacharias Smith, Megan Jones and Justin Finch-Fletchley. The Ravenclaws (Terry Boot, Anthony Goldstein, Michael Corner, Padma, Cho, Marietta Edgecombe, Foggy, Matt and Luna) were gathered around Fitz and Simmons, who were regaling them with how incredible the Astrolabe had been. And occupying the chairs in the centre of the room were the Gryffindors – Fred and George, Lee Jordan, Alicia, Katie, Lavender, Parvati, Dean, Seamus, Neville, Colin and Dennis Creevey, Demelza, Vicky Frobisher, Luke and Ron.

It was far more than he'd expected. But there were no Slytherins. None at all. Maybe Jessica hadn't gotten his message? He had thought at least Daphne might have come… The door swung open one final time, and Daphne Greengrass, her sister Astoria, Lance Hunter, Cassius Warrington, a seventh year with short black hair he didn't know, a girl with stringy brown hair who Harry thought was called Emilie, and finally, Jessica herself entered the room. Half the Gryffindors jumped to their feet and pulled their wands. Harry and Ginny instantly stepped between the two groups.

"Whoah, whoah, whoah. Wands down people. We're all friends here," Harry said calmly.

"What are they doing here?" Lee asked, angrily.

I don't think they're catching onto the friends part of your statement Harry.

What gave you that impression?

"We're here to listen to what Potter has to say. Just like you, Jordan," Warrington snapped, eyes narrowed and arms folded.

"I invited them, Lee," Harry told the Gryffindors, "they have just as much right to learn as the rest of us."

Lee huffed something about Slytherins and evil gits, before sitting back down in his seat. Ginny frowned

Ron didn't get up.


But she was right. Ron hadn't gotten up at all. Instead, his gaze was fixed on Jessica, who was doing her best to hide behind her hair at the back of the group.

Harry shrugged and called everyone together. All four houses took their seats, although the Slytherins were slightly apart from the other three, and nervous glances kept sliding their way.

Harry cleared his throat, and the chatter in the room slowly died away. Everyone was looking up at him now. It was ten times worse than at the Ministry. There he didn't know anyone, here he knew all of them.

You'll do fine.

I wish I had your confidence.

Suddenly the Gemini Rune bristled with a bright warmth that made Harry stumble slightly. He glared at Ginny, who winked sweetly at him, before taking a deep breath and standing up.

"Okay… um… well, we all know why we're here. Umbridge is taking over Hogwarts on behalf of the Ministry. Why? Well, we're not exactly sure," Harry began nervously.

"And that means that Professor Lupin and Professor Flitwick's days are numbered. Umbridge has already taken control of the school curriculum. It won't be long before she controls the staff too," Hermione said stiffly.

"Which means we need a teacher who can show us what we need to do. We need to be able to protect ourselves against what's out there, and if Umbridge doesn't let us learn how, we have to take matters into our own hands," Ginny proclaimed.

Then, surprising the hell out of both Harry and Ginny, Susan Bones stood up from her seat and stared straight at Harry.

"I know… I know why Umbridge is doing what she's doing," she said hesitantly. Everyone in the room turned towards her.

"You do?" Hermione asked, incredulously.

"My Aunt Amelia figured it out. It was something Fudge mentioned to her. He thinks that Dumbledore is going to use us to take over the Ministry. To train us up like some wizard army. That's why he's making such a big deal about the Headmaster's claims that You-Know-Who is back. Says it's all a game to take the Minister's position."

"What a load of rubbish," Ron snorted.

"As much as I hate to agree with my brother on anything, that does seem a bit out there," Fred said, scratching his head.

"That's what my Aunt thinks, and she's the head of the DMLE, so I wouldn't dismiss it out of hand," Susan said grumpily.

"All I'm saying is…"

"No think about it. It makes sense." The voice belonged to Jessica, who quickly became the centre of attention. She blushed scarlet, which clashed terribly with her raven coloured hair, but ploughed forward.

"Fudge is terrified that Dumbledore's right and the Dark Lord might actually be back. The evidence is everywhere. People disappearing. Harry being kidnapped twice. So, he's doing the only thing he can, try and place the public onto someone else's radar. He's painted Dumbledore as the enemy and used that to strip him of as much power as he can. He's been kicked off the Wizengamot, he's lost his position in the ICW, and now the school is under threat. The more Fudge targets Dumbledore…"

"The easier it is to silence him, and make himself look better in the progress," Lance finished. Harry grinned.

This is why I love Slytherins.

Certainly, make it easy to figure things out, don't they?

"So, what's the last thing he has on his side?" Daphne Greengrass said simply.

"Us," Matt said. Harry was pleased to note that many of the others, even some of the Gryffindors, were taking in what the Slytherins had to say.

"So Umbridge's goal is to get Dumbledore kicked out of the school, why go after Lupin and Flitwick then?" Ernie Macmillan asked. Daphne moved to say something, but then stopped, frowning to herself. It was Luna who eventually answered.

"Threats," she stated simply, and all the Ravenclaws nodded, though the other three houses looked confused.

"It's her paradigm," Anthony elaborated.

"Still not getting it," Dean said, looking highly bamboozled.

"Umbridge looks at the world through, forgive the pun, pink-tinged glasses. Only things in her world view – that of a pureblood with a hatred of all things not like her – can ever fit into it," Fitz began, though his explanation involved a great deal of hand waving.

"As a result, the people she hates the most – her so-called 'half-breeds' – are the biggest threat. She sees them as the people Dumbledore – aka the enemy – will go to first, so she gets rid of them. Whether it's the truth or not is irrelevant. That's what she sees; therefore, it must be the truth," Simmons finished.

"That's also why she's baiting Harry," Padma added, "He's the one we all look up to. He's powerful, respected and famous. The perfect target leader figure for Dumbledore's supposed student army. If she gets him expelled, the odds of us doing anything fall dramatically." Harry's jaw fell open, and he glanced to Hermione, who was in a similar state of shock. He hadn't thought about that before. Umbridge was baiting him so he couldn't unite the students?

"And that is why Ravenclaws and Slytherins should never be left alone in the same room," Danny stated, clapping softly.


But Harry was now beaming.

"Exactly. Umbridge doesn't want us uniting, because if the houses stay at odds with one another, we'll never get anywhere. Remember the Sorting Hat's song? "We must unite inside her, or we'll crumble from within." Just look at what we've accomplished already. A couple of Slytherins and Ravenclaws working together solved a riddle I've been trying to solve on my own for weeks. Imagine what we could do together? I'm a Gryffindor, proud and true. I may not be a genius, but I'm not stupid; I'm a good fighter, and, as Ginny keeps telling me though I'm not sure I believe it myself, a fair leader." Several people, Ron and Hermione included, laughed at this point. "But that doesn't mean I'm any better than the rest of you. I'm a Gryffindor because I play the hero card, I value everyone else above myself. Hermione calls it my saving people thing, but that's what makes me me. Ravenclaws are the most creative and knowledgeable people you'll meet. They can solve problems and puzzles I'd never be able too." Most of the Ravens were blushing hard by now. "Hufflepuffs come in all shapes and sizes, but there's one thing you can always count on them for. You guys are loyal bastards, and if the rest of us lose track of where we're going, we can always count on you guys to pull our heads in." Finally, Harry turned to the Slytherins. "And without Slytherin, understanding people's actions, uncovering secrets and seeing the big picture would be nigh impossible. Not to mention you guys are very good at coming up with plans that won't get the rest of us screwed."

Nice job.

Everyone in the room, even the Slytherins Harry was happy to note, were smiling now.

"This is just the first step. We need to learn to fight the battles Umbridge doesn't want us too, we need to pass our O.W.L's, and N.E.W.T's, and we need to fight back against Umbridge herself. We aren't going to let her just take over our school, so I say we get rid of her. Together."

The room broke out in cheers, and Harry couldn't help the heat that rose to his cheeks.

Nice going, Harry.

Ginny grabbed his hand and squeezed, pushing as much love as she could through the rune.

Eventually, the cheering died down, and Hermione stood up, her voice suddenly very high pitched, "Well. Now that we have that settled, we need to decide on a place to meet, how often, how to keep it a…"

"Wait a moment," Cassius stated, standing up from his seat, "what makes him the leader of this group?"

Almost everyone, Slytherins included, turned to look at the seventh year as if he had just sprouted a second head. Oddly enough, this filled Harry with a giddy sort of confidence, and he couldn't help but step up to the burly older boy, shoulders pulled back, eyes narrowed. Ginny let his hand go, and Harry was now standing face to face with Warrington. Well, he would have been face to face if he was taller… or Warrington shorter. Either one would have worked.

"You reckon you can do it better?" He asked. Warrington merely raised an eyebrow at him, not intimidated in the slightest. Ginny was simply shaking her head.

"I'm seventh year for starters. I've got loads more experience than you. I could take you down easy. If anyone should be leading this club, it's me or at the very least a seventh year who actually knows a thing or two. What are you going to teach us, Potter? A third-year spell?"

Ron cracked up laughing, and Fred, George, Ginny, Lee Jordan, Matt, Luna, Luke, Danny, Susan and Hermione all quickly followed suit. The rest of the group were all holding back their sniggers. Well, all except Cassius's brown-haired friend.

Kick his ass.

Harry made to say something, but Hermione beat him to it.

"Can you summon a fully corporeal Patronus powerful enough to force back an army of Dementors at once?" Hermione wheezed through her laughter.

"Or defeat a 50ft Basilisk at twelve years old?" Ginny stated, pointedly.

"Did you outfly a Dragon?" Lavender asked, an intense sparkle in her eye.

"Fight your way through a gauntlet of terrorists?" Susan posed, more people joining the laughter by the second.

"Out duel a serial killer?" Danny queried.

"Apparate at fourteen without splinching?" Luna provided. Harry's face was burning quite spectacularly now.

"Or win the Triwizard Tournament?" Fitz and Simmons finished in unison. Then, as the laughter reached a crescendo, the Firebrand burned white-hot against Harry's arm, and he dropped to the floor, swinging out with his left leg in the process. Warrington had pulled his wand from beneath his robes, face scarlet and tense, and fired off a stunning spell in seconds. His draw was fast, but Harry was faster. He swept Warrington off his feet, and he landed on the floor of the pub with a thud. Harry stabilised himself, drawing his own wand and pointing it at Warrington. He wasn't the only one. Ginny, Hermione, Matt and Ron were all there, wands at the ready. The rest of the room was in shocked silence.

"Anyone else?" Harry asked, looking around. Nobody stood up. Harry pocketed his wand and held his hand out to Warrington. Cassius took it hesitantly, wary for any sort of trap.

"I don't do that," Harry stated firmly, and he pulled the older boy back to his feet. Then a round of clapping broke out in the room. Harry spun around and saw Sirius standing at the entrance to the private room, Hedwig resting on his shoulder.

"Now that was neat!" He exclaimed. He was wearing his Auror robes Harry noticed, with a silver pendant on his collar.

"Hedwig!" Harry beamed. The Snowy Owl flew from Sirius to Harry, landing on his shoulder and nipping his ear.

"Where have you been?!" He asked. Though it was more to Hedwig than Sirius, it was the old dog who answered, rather than the Owl.

"Busy. Got promoted. Thanks for noticing by the way," Sirius said, rolling his eyes.

"Yeah, yeah, good job. What about Hedwig?" Harry said hurriedly, not really paying attention to anything Sirius said as he inspected his friend for anything amiss. One of her feathers was misaligned, and she was favouring one leg.

"She was attacked," Sirius said.


Harry calm down.

"Not sure, but it happened up here somewhere. Must have known it wasn't safe because she winged it all the way to me instead. Slept for three days." Harry was currently sliding from panicked to mortified as he stroked Hedwig's feathers.

"Attacked by what?" Ginny asked.

"It wasn't an animal. Odds are it was a person," Sirius explained, a grim look on his face that matched his Animagus form.

"Umbridge," Hermione whispered.

"My thoughts exactly."

"Can she do that? Read our mail?" Susan asked, and several others mirrored the statement.

"Legally? No," Anthony said, "But somehow I doubt that would stop her."

"Kid's right," Sirius admitted, scratching his beard, "I'd be careful what you say in messages if I was you." Several hushed whispers broke out, and Sirius beckoned Harry into a corner of the room.

"So, what's the news?" Harry asked quickly.

"Not much, I'm afraid. The Dragons are missing, but I'd wager you already figured that out. The Order is still watching something in the Department of Mysteries. We, the Auror Corp that is, caught Sturgis Podmore on his way out. Confiscated his invisibility cloak, so at least we have that now. Moody and Tonks are giving us regular updates, but the Order seems to be still sitting on the fence, not willing to get their toes wet if you get what I mean. I'm just glad I'm a free man, Dumbledore probably would've had me locked in Grimmauld Place if I wasn't."

Harry cringed. "You would've gone nuts."

"Big-time," Sirius confirmed, then he folded his arms and smirked, "So, illegal defence group hmm?"

"Wasn't my idea," Harry told him sharply.

"Had a feeling it wasn't. You've got too much of your mother in you. I kind of wish James and I were still in school, though. We would've loved it. A smashing idea if ever I've heard one," he exclaimed. Harry grinned. Knowing that his godfather approved made him feel a lot better about it.

"I've also got a message to pass on for Amelia's niece," he said, looking up. Harry followed his gaze to Susan, who was currently signing a piece of paper Hermione had placed on a desk. Actually, everyone was lining up to sign the document. That wasn't part of the plan…

I don't know. She just pulled it out and asked everyone to sign, so she had a record of who to contact once we've got a place to practice.

Okay, Brain's knows what she's doing.

"Susan!" Harry called as the strawberry blonde handed the quill to Hannah Abbot. Susan smiled sweetly and rushed over to them.

Dirty, rotten, no good…

Harry pushed Ginny's commentary on Susan to the back of his mind and focussed on the Hufflepuff.


"I have a message from your Aunt," Sirius said, taking the girls attention, "She says not to send her any more letters and to stay close to Harry. Fudge is trying to cut funding to the DMLE, but he needs Cabinet approval to do it, and the Department heads not in his pocket are holding out. She's worried Umbridge might…"

"Do something to get to me. Got it. Stay close to Harry," Susan confirmed, "Thanks Senior Auror Black." She smiled to the pair of them, before meeting back up with Hannah and departing the room with the rest of the students.

As the last student – Ron – left the room, leaving Harry, Hermione and Ginny alone with Sirius, a crack rent the air, and a tiny House Elf with the longest set of ears Harry had ever seen appeared, causing all of them to jump.

"Apologies good sirs and mams. Wicken is to be delivering a message from Doctor Strange to Mr Harry Potter," the elf said.

"Praise Morgana!" Ginny exclaimed.

Harry blinked rapidly and accepted the offered letter, and the elf vanished.

"Doctor Strange uses House Elves?" Hermione exclaimed, clearly scandalised, "I would've thought he of all people would understand their plight! I'll have to…" But Harry wasn't listening, he was fixated on the letter, which brought only more bad news.


Time is of the essence, so I must reply to your message with haste. Voldemort remains elusive, and the Dragons have indeed vanished. I have no knowledge as to where they might be, but I received a similar request for aid from Claire O'Neill, so we must assume the situation is dire. Unfortunately, I am in no position to help them. Voldemort has made use of the Darkhold to undo the traps I put in place to fend off Dormammu and his horde. It is taking all my efforts to restore them once more, but the Lord of Chaos is a cunning adversary, and he thwarts me at every turn.

Based on your letter, Albus is no doubt similarly disabled. The Dragons will have to help themselves I'm afraid.

Kind Regards, Stephen Strange.

Harry scowled and handed the letter to Hermione.

Not good.

Not good at all.

The next day, Harry, Hermione, Dean, Neville, Ginny and Demelza were walking into breakfast in the Great Hall when they encountered a crowd milling about the notice board. The last time Harry had seen a crowd that large around the notice board was when the Hogwarts Delegation was announced.

As soon as the people, many of whom had been at the Hogs Head the previous day, spotted them, they parted, leaving Harry and his companions a straight line to the board.

By order of the Hogwarts High Inquisitor, all student organisations are henceforth disbanded. Any student caught engaging in illicit activities will be expelled.

"Fuck," Harry said flatly.

"What about Quidditch?" Alicia whispered to Katie, who just shrugged her shoulders.

"Or charms club?" Simmons exclaimed. More hurried muttering rushed through the crowd about the fates of several clubs or study groups.

"This isn't a coincidence Harry, Umbridge knows," Jessica hissed in his ear. Harry turned towards her, but she was already gone, melted into the crowd as if she was never there.

"This is bad," Neville muttered.

"What are we going to do?" Ron asked. Several other people echoed his statement.

Harry moulded his face into a confident grin reminiscent of Sirius and turned to the crowd.

"This doesn't change anything. We go on as planned. It's not as if she wasn't going to try and stop us," He said. Several people sighed in relief, others looked anxious, and those who hadn't been to the meeting just stared at him, confused.

"What if someone ratted us out?" Ginny whispered to Hermione.

"If they did, we'd know it," Hermione murmured back so quietly Harry only heard it thanks to his link with Ginny.


"I put a spell on the parchment everyone signed. Trust me, we'll know."

"Well Potty, what's going on here? Meeting up with your fan club?" Malfoy drawled as he stepped up from the dungeons with his entourage.

Harry just sighed, "I don't have time for you today, Malfoy." Malfoy at least had the intelligence to realise Harry was deeply troubled by something, though it seemed that his newfound mental capacity didn't extend far enough to cover the English language.

"What?" he asked dumbly. Harry gestured to the board, absorbed in his own thoughts and not really caring. Where were they going to practice? It had to be somewhere Umbridge wouldn't find them. Now more than ever. But where could they go? The Forest was a no go. Ginny had suggested the Shrieking Shack, but it was too small and getting everyone out there would've been too hard. An abandoned classroom had been his original plan, but they couldn't trust the paintings not to spy on them.

"Quidditch is banned?" Malfoy exclaimed.

"Yep," Harry said, again not really paying attention.

Harry, focus, please.


"Potter. You got every student organisation banned?!" Malfoy yelled. Harry finally looked towards Malfoy. The pale-haired boy was redder than any Weasley he'd ever seen. His hands were shaking, and his gaze was practically murderous. Harry raised an eyebrow at him.

"No, Umbridge banned student organisations. Yes, that includes Quidditch." He said it slowly and patronisingly, the same way one would speak to a child. Several people sniggered, but most remained quiet, watching the confrontation simmer. It was Malfoy who cracked.

In a rage, he pulled out his wand and screamed, "Crucio!" Harry was so stunned his long-time rival had actually used an Unforgivable Curse on him, in the middle of a crowd of students, in the heart of the school, that he froze in shock. He must have looked quite the sight. It was only the Firebrand that saved him. Using years of honing his reflexes to his advantage, as soon as the Firebrand began to sting against his arm, Harry leapt up into the air. He somersaulted over the spell, and using a trick he'd learned from Claire O'Neill, flicked his wand towards the crowd.

"Protego Maximus Ventus!"

A shield materialised around the surrounding students, and a gust of wind pushed all of them, even the Defenders, to the stonework floor.


Harry landed in front of Malfoy, fist raised towards his face.

"You colossal idiot!" He screamed, and Malfoy flinched away from him.

"You cast an Unforgiveable Curse into a crowd of people! Are you insane!?" Malfoy's mouth opened and closed like a fish.

Harry was so mad both he and Ginny missed the Firebrand heating up against Harry's skin once more. And they missed Pansy Parkinson's retaliation, much to their internal shame.

A spell hit Harry in the back, and his throat instantly constricted on itself. Harry tried to breathe, but no air made it to his lungs. He choked on the lack of air and spun around, the Firebrand searing painfully against his arm. He raised his hands to his throat, desperately trying to force air inside.


Ginny's voice was distant, and the freezing fear that flooded the rune on his neck was vague and confusing. Harry tried to wretch, but no matter what he tried no air made it to his lungs. He tried to point his wand at Parkinson, who had somehow gotten around the shield spell blocking the rest of the people away, but his arm wouldn't obey him. He lost his grip on the shaft of wood and tripped to the floor. Then a fist hit the back of his head, and he lurched forward.

"Expelliarmus!" Harry couldn't tell who the voice belonged too precisely. Everything was swimming, people and objects blurring in and out of sight even with his glasses. The Gemini Rune has gone quiet.

Then suddenly, the constriction vanished. Harry gasped and air flooded into his lungs. He vomited blood on the floor and took as many deep breathes as he could. The Gemini Rune snapped back into place, a mixture of fire and ice. His vision came back into focus, and on shaking legs, he grabbed his wand and pulled himself to his feet. Arms grabbed him from behind, steadying him, but he couldn't tell who it was. What he could see, was Ron Weasley standing over Pansy Parkinson, wand at her throat. Ginny was throwing spell after spell at Malfoy, who was desperately trying to maintain a shield of his own. And Susan Bones and Neville Longbottom of all people had Blaise Zabini at wand point. Hermione ran out of the crowd in slow motion and waved her hands about.

"Everybody stop this!" She cried.

"I quite agree." Harry snapped back into clear-headedness and stared in horror as Umbridge descended the Grand Staircase with a clipboard.

The people behind him, who Harry realised were the Patil Twins, helped him upright and Harry whispered his thanks, before catching Ginny's eye.

Harry! Harry, are you okay!

I think so, what the hell was that spell?

A chocking spell! That vile bitch! If Ron hadn't have gotten to her first, I would have…

"Fighting on school grounds. Unacceptable. I thought the students of Hogwarts would have more appreciation for their fellow students. Clearly, I was mistaken," Umbridge said in a cheerful demeanour that set Harry's teeth on edge. There was a sharp gleam in her eye as she looked from Harry to Ginny, to Susan.

"Mr Potter, Miss Weasley, Mr Weasley, Miss Bones, Mr Longbottom. Detentions. All of you. Mr Crabbe, Mr Goyle, please help Mr Malfoy, Miss Parkinson and Mr Zabini to the Hospital Wing." With that, Umbridge turned and entered the Great Hall with a spring in her step that wasn't there before.

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