Came Out of the Darkness 59 – Hogwarts Happenings
Created in the amazing world that belongs to J. K. Rowling.
As always thank you for reading, reviewing, favoriting, and following! I posted numbers in chapter 50, by chapter 58 each number has doubled! Wow.
Sitting here typing with the TV on as I usually am and saw a preview for the new US show "How to Get Away with Murder" and guess who is in it – Dean! Cool!
They tried to break us, looks like they'll try again…
Wild boys wonder where is glory?
Where is all you angels?
Now the figureheads have fell
and nobles war with arrows over secrets they can tell
They tried to tame us, looks like they'll try again…
Lyrics by Allen, Christopher Thomas; Cann, Warren Reginald; Currie, William; Ure, Midge © Universal Music Publishing Group; EMI Music Publishing
The clock struck nine. Sprout startled, "My goodness where has the time gone? The firsties should have been in bed a half hour ago!" She was met with a chorus of 'Awww!' "Come along, you have all had a busy day and tomorrow will be too. You will see each other in the morning."
"She's right," Flitwick said as he emerged from the Gryffindor corridor, "Bedtime."
"Do we have a bedtime?" Euan's friend David asked.
"Gryffindors never have," a second year replied.
"Well, you do now," Severus said. "All first years will be in bed by 8:30 for the next two weeks until you are all settled. After that it will be 9:30 for everyone up through fourth years. Fifth through seventh years bedtime is 11:00 pm." He gestured for his snakes to go through the Slytherin door.
"Cedric can you walk through the dorm and be sure everyone is settled in about an hour?" Sprout asked as she gestured the firsties through the Hufflepuff door. "I need to help Minerva with the Sorting letters to the parents."
"Of course," Cedric replied. "I can get the firsties settled if you want to go now."
"Are you sure?"
"Yes, I'll draft the Prefects to help."
Hannah Abbott and Susan Bones approached, "We'll give you a hand," Hannah offered. "Come on firsties."
Padma and Parvati hugged and separated to escort the firsties down Ravenclaw and Gryffindor corridors. The other students began to file out and return to their dormitories.
Harry and Hermione followed the others, intending to help settle the littler ones. They walked by a Quiet Room and Dean called out. "Hey Harry! Come see!"
Hermione smiled, "Go on, I'll go help Parvati." She kissed him before leaving.
Harry walked into the room to find an antique printing press, "Cool!"
"I got the idea after Neville's birthday," Seamus said. "I want to start a school paper. My Da found this old thing for sale real cheap and we figured out how it works. We needed one that doesn't run on electricity and this is all manual. Or was before Professor Flitwick charmed it. All we need to do is set the type, tell it how many copies we want and it'll print them out."
Dean ran his hand over the machine, "We need to figure out how much ink and paper will be for each edition to decide how much to charge. Not worried about making money, it's more about getting the truth out there."
"How about advertising?" George said from the doorway where he and Fred were listening. "We could hammer out a deal to pay for you to run ads for Weasleys' Wizarding Wheezes. That would help keep the costs down."
"Sounds great," Dean said. "Let's talk."
Harry slipped out as Angelina slipped in and the business discussion began. He walked through the corridor winding around then into the Gryffindor common room. The room was empty except for one very angry red-head.
"What's going on?" Ron snarled. "First I'm in a room by myself. None of the other doors will open for me! Now I can't even go down that corridor!" He tried to put his hand through the doorway and it looked like he was pressing on a glass window. No amount of pressure would allow him to pass through.
Harry shrugged, "I don't know and frankly I don't care. You chose your path, you'll have to walk it. I really do not give a shit how much you hate it."
Harry walked up the steps to the boys dorms. He found that the first year boys were all in their pajamas and starting to settle in. He moved on to the second years and spent a few minutes with Dennis Creevey and Nigel Wolpert before urging them to also get to bed. The third years were being watched over by the sixth year Prefect who nodded as Harry went by. He found the fourth years already in bed. Colin Creevey was asleep with his camera clutched in his hand so Harry carefully pulled it free and sat it on the boy's nightstand before leaving the room.
He glanced at the doors leading to the two fifth year rooms. "Going to go tuck your buddy into bed?" Cormac McLaggen cooed from his doorway. Harry rolled his eyes and walked away. Ron was coming up the steps and slammed his shoulder against Harry's. Harry just kept going. Ron went to his room and slammed the door loudly behind him.
Harry returned to the Suite to find Neville and Luna had emerged from their room. Neville was sitting upright on one sofa in front of the fire with Luna reclined against him.
"Hey," Harry greeted, "You two want the room to yourselves?"
"No," Neville replied. "We wanted to come out and talk to everyone. Where is everyone?"
"Putting the little ones to bed," Harry replied as he sat on the opposite sofa. "Professor Sprout is going to help McGonagall with the first night letters so Cedric went to get the firsties settled. Sev gave the Gryffindors a bedtime so Maya went with Parvati to get them to bed."
Luna frowned, "You didn't have a bedtime before?"
"Nope," Neville replied, "McGonagall would shoo us up if we were in the common room too late but never set a bedtime. I just usually went to bed the same time Gran set for me over the summer." He glanced over as Draco entered through the Slytherin door, "Where's Pansy?"
"She's gone to bed," Draco replied as he dropped into a chair. "She's tired. And she gets that we need to talk. I haven't told her anything but she seems to realize the connection between us…" he broke off unable to really put it into words. He looked back as Hermione entered. "Little ones asleep?"
"No," she replied, "Little ones are in bed though." She stretched out on the sofa and leaned against Harry with a yawn. "How are you two doing?"
"We're good," Luna replied. "Should have bonded this summer in the Village like I wanted to."
Neville sighed, "Yes you were right. I thought your Dad and Gran would take it better if we'd both turned fifteen. Everyone made such a fuss because you two were only fourteen. But when we watch called them they were both thrilled. Gran's first words were 'it's about time'."
"Dad cried," Luna said. "Gran said to call her Gran from now on. They already know we are fated to wed. We'll start planning the wedding soon. I want a summer wedding. Oh look, Wuzzy popped home for it," she showed off her left hand. "I picked it out from the Longbottom jewelry this summer. It was Gran's mother's engagement ring." The gold ring on her finger looked like a vine set with small diamonds ending in a blooming flower with a brilliant blue sapphire in the center.
"It's gorgeous," Hermione smiled, "It is very you two. Unique and perfect." She absently ran a finger over her wedding band. Harry watched her silently.
Cedric dropped into a chair, "Looks like I'm the last bachelor standing," he smirked.
"Sev's never married," Neville replied. "Neither have Remus or Sirius or Alastor. We have a lot more Dads than Moms in this family."
They sat quietly for a few moments as the Elves scooted around cleaning up the remains of the snacks they'd set out. Hizzy approached them, "Elves be done cleaning. Does Young Ones need anything? Hizzy be sending Elves to bed if not."
"No, Hizzy," Harry replied. "Thank you for all you did today. Go on to bed. We shouldn't need anything in the morning, we have breakfast in the Great Hall then classes all day." The others expressed their thanks and the Elves left the room.
Seamus and Dean knocked on the Gryffindor door even though it was still sitting open, "Can we come in?" Dean asked.
"Sure," Draco gestured them in. "Food's all gone."
"I'm stuffed," Seamus said. "We've got the first edition of Hogwarts Happenings ready for review. Hey Master Snape."
Snape walked in through the Slytherin door, "Hello. Are you all planning to go to bed at some point?"
"We just got the paper ready to print," Seamus took him a copy.
Dean nodded, "We want to start a school newspaper. Lots of schools do it. We think this one is ready to go but wanted a fresh set of eyes first. Mine are too tired."
"Mine are crossing," Seamus yawned.
"This is so cool!" Cedric said as he glanced over the copy. "Still a bit damp."
Sev took the copy from Seamus and walked over to sit at the table. He conjoured a red pencil and began to read through, marking a few places. "You only have a few typos that I see. This is very well done. I'd like to see the printing press."
"Sure!" Dean grinned.
Luna scowled, "I can't believe you started a newspaper without me!" Dean and Seamus exchanged shocked glances. Luna stomped over to them and crossed her arms, "I want to be a reporter. Let me see what you've done." Seamus handed over a copy instantly. "You're charging a knut? That's good. Are you planning on a daily edition or weekly?"
"Weekly," Dean replied. "For now at least. Fred and George bought advertising space. Angelina helped us figure out cost of paper and ink. She's got an amazing business mind."
"I like the name. Hogwarts Happenings," Luna reviewed the copy. "Did you do the artwork Dean? It's really good."
Dean grinned, "Thanks. The press came with plates that Flitwick was able to show us how to imprint with my drawings. So glad to see they came out clear."
"I see you've listed all the Prefects, that's a good idea," Luna said.
"Speaking of which," Neville pulled the Prefect badge from his pocket. "This was in my new room on the nightstand. One of you needs to take it."
"Not it," Dean replied instantly. "HA!" he pointed to Seamus.
"I don't want it," Seamus said. "It's yours Neville. Weasley seemed to be trying to find it after everyone left the table. From his stomping and slamming I figured he couldn't find it. Which makes sense, again because it is yours."
"Umbitch said I can't keep it," Neville said trying to hand over the badge. The boys dissolved into hysterical laughter over his slip.
"Actually," Sev said as he finished reviewing the paper, "Since UmBRIDGE is only a professor she has no right to strip you of your badge Neville. Nor can she change your House. Hat sorted you into Gryffindor and you will always be a Gryffindor. Even if you're not sleeping in the tower. You will still take classes with your House mates."
"Why didn't McGonagall say anything?" Seamus finally accepting the badge only to pin it onto Neville's shirt.
Sev sighed heavily, "The Headmistress has been placed in a difficult position with very little warning. You were all listening to Umbit… Umbridge's speech. What did you gather from the rambling rhetoric?"
Everyone silently exchanged glances. "The Ministry is interfering with Hogwarts," Hermione started them off.
"And they would prefer that nothing changes," Cedric said.
"And that we not question anything," Seamus added. "Or anyone."
"If Headmistress McGonagall becomes too much of an obstacle, they could get rid of her completely, couldn't they?" Dean asked. Sev nodded. "This really sucks."
"Yes it does. Come," Sev ordered, "I'll help you fix the errors and get it set to print. I assume that was what Flitwick was doing?" Dean and Seamus nodded. "Then you need to go to bed."
Before they could leave the room, a piercing scream of pure terror reached them. It was instantly followed by overlapping shrieks. Sev reacted instantly and ran for the Hufflepuff door. He reached the doorway with everyone on his heels, just as the five firstie girls raced out. Rebecca Roderick was in the lead. She saw Sev and leapt for him. He caught her in his arms as the other four girls swarmed.
"There's a ghost in our room!" Rebecca cried as she wrapped her arms and legs around him and buried her face in Sev's neck. The other little girls babbled as tears streamed down their faces. "His head came off!"
"Nicholas!" Severus shouted.
Sir Nicholas was in the corridor peering out cautiously, "I am so sorry Master Snape. We don't usually go into the other dormitories until the little ones have met us but we've never had access like this before."
"Where were you during dinner?" Luna asked.
"Arguing," Nicholas admitted. "We weren't informed until this evening that Dumbledore had left. The Baron was… quite put out."
Rebecca peeked up at the ghost then hid her face again. Sev moved over to the couch and sat down so he could turn her around. The other girls immediately climbed onto the cushions around him, two on each side.
"Ladies," Cedric spoke gently, "This is Sir Nicholas de Mimsy-Porpington. He is the Gryffindor resident ghost. Each house has one."
"No one told us that this place had ghosts," one little girl with a stuffed unicorn tucked in her arms sniffled. "No one even told us ghosts were real. This place is so strange. I miss my mum."
Severus stroked her back, "First nights are always the hardest. And yes I know this place seems very strange at first. What's your name?"
"Melinda," she replied. "My mum and daddy always said magic was make-believe. But then Professor Sprout came and told us it was real. Everything is real. Even unicorns! I wanted to come to see and to learn. But it's scary here."
"It's alright to get scared sometimes," Hermione said. "Everyone does. But the ghosts won't hurt you. Sir Nicholas is very nice." Nicholas bowed low, holding his head firmly in place with his hand. "So is Lady Helena Ravenclaw, she's the Ravenclaw ghost."
"The Bloody Baron looks scary," Draco admitted, "And he's very somber, but he'd never hurt you."
"And our ghost is the Friar," Cedric added. "He's very jolly and looks a little bit like Friar Tuck from the Robin Hood book."
Snape cocked his head as the soft, sweet sounds of one of Eva Rosier (now Blishwick) recorded songs flowed into the room. The gentle tune soothed the girls even further. Rebecca yawned widely.
Flitwick smiled as the song drifted up through the Ravenclaw tower where he was soothing a few homesick little ones. The happy melody helped them drift off into sweet dreams.
It flowed up through Gryffindor tower where Parvati and the other prefects were dealing with a few tears common to first night.
Down through the Slytherin and Hufflepuff rooms soothing and sweet.
"Come along," Snape said. He stood lifting a dozing Rebecca to his shoulder. He guided Melinda with a hand on her back as she leaned against his hip. Luna and Hermione each took a little one by the hand to lead them. Cedric picked up the last one to carry behind them.
"This is my room," Cedric pointed as they went by, "And there are Prefects in fifth, sixth, and seventh years too." They entered the Hufflepuff common room. "That over there is the hallway to Professor Sprout's rooms. She's usually in the common room at night for the first week or so if you need her. Tonight was just… unusual."
"My momma always said if something bad happens to find an adult you trust," the little girl he carried reported. "I remembered that Professor Flitwick and Snape were up there." She yawned and dropped her head to Cedric's shoulder.
They reached the first years' room. Luna and Hermione helped their charges into bed, tucking them in, then slipped back out. Sev helped Melinda climb into her bed and covered her with one hand. Then he carried Rebecca to her bed and laid her down.
"My cousin graduated from Hogwarts two years ago," Rebecca reported. "He said you were the meanest teacher ever."
"Oh?" Sev asked as he tucked the blanket around her and her doll.
"Yeah. He's an idiot."
Cedric was grinning at Sev as they walked back to his room.
"What?" Sev snapped.
"Your reputation is in tatters Master Snape. Not even little Puff firstie girls are afraid of you anymore."
Snape scowled at him, "Go to bed."
Cedric laughed, "Doesn't work. I know you too well to be afraid, even of that look. Good night."
"Good night," Sev walked back into the now empty Suite. He went over to the Gryffindor hallway. Eva's first song ended and another one began. A check of Harry and Hermione's rooms showed both bathroom doors closed so he walked on. He glanced into Dean and Seamus's printing room to find Luna and Neville helping fix the minor typos. He examined the press briefly then stepped back as Seamus cast the spell that started the printing.
"Be sure I get a copy in the morning," Sev said sitting a Knut on the table of supplies.
"Are we charging professors?" Seamus asked.
"Yes, you are," Sev replied.
Severus walked through the empty Gryffindor common room and up through the boys dormitory first. He knocked on the older boys' doors, trying to ignore the shock on their faces as he checked in. He examined the fifth years doors but didn't knock, knowing that Dean and Seamus were still down with the printing press and having no desire to make contact with Weasley. The younger boys were all asleep as he peeked in silently. It wasn't until the firsties that he found anyone awake.
The little boy was lying on his stomach with his face buried in the pillow. When Sev opened the door, he lifted his tear streaked face. "Hi Master Snape."
"Hello. What's wrong?"
The boy shrugged, "Kinda miss my Dad. Is that the castle singing?"
"No," Sev replied. "It is the recording of a Slytherin who graduated a few years ago."
"Oh. My Dad was a Slytherin. Mum was a Ravenclaw," he yawned widely. "Gryffindor was a surprise."
"I'll bet," Sev stood watch as the boy drifted off to sleep. He emerged to find Dean and Seamus coming up the hall. "All set?"
Seamus nodded, "Printer is printing. We set it to print enough for everyone to get one. Might be optimistic."
"Nothing wrong with optimism. Good night."
A sweep through the girls' dorms found Parvati asleep in a chair in the first years' room. He woke her quietly and walked out with her.
"Thanks Master Snape," she yawned. "I've never heard singing like that in the school before."
"The Houses were never linked before."
"True. Good night."
The printing press spit out page after page of Hogwarts Happenings. They dropped into a stack and automatically folded in half making a four page edition. The first page announced the creation of the paper. The second page listed the rules that McGonagall hadn't gotten to in her speech such as the Dark Forest being off limits and a list provided by Filch of items that are banned. The third page listed the House Prefects for each year (including Neville still listed as Gryffindor) along with sketches of each House mascot drawn by Dean. It also listed a schedule for Quidditch tryouts organized by Cedric and Angelina so that each House would have equal access to the pitch (the newly regrown pitch illustrated) as well as the year's match schedule. The fourth and final page was devoted to Weasley Wizarding Wheezes with a list of available products.
A beetle landed on the windowsill but before it could approach the press, Crookshanks hissed and stalked towards it. The beetle fled, barely escaping from a swarm of owls outside.
Sev walked in through Harry's open bedroom door and found him looking at a photograph of his parents. "Are you alright?"
"Did my Dad give my Mom an engagement ring?"
Sev blinked at the unexpected question, "Yes. It's probably in the vault since it is a valuable Potter family heirloom. Why?"
"Wondering if I should give Maya one. What do you think?"
Sev replied, "I don't know. You've given her all of your mother's other jewelry, haven't you?"
"Yeah," Harry nodded, "She wears a lot of it. The bracelets and earrings especially. Everything except for the watches. She never takes off the watch you gave Mom."
"She better not," Sev glowered and put the full force of his intense gaze on Harry. "That goes for all of you."
Harry rolled his eyes, "Yes, yes, you are terrifying. Can we get back to my question?"
"You want to know what I think?" Sev asked. Harry nodded. "I think you should talk to her. Ask Maya if she wants one."
"Wants one what?" Hermione asked from the open archway between the rooms.
"An engagement ring," Harry admitted. "I never thought about one until now. Do you want one?"
Hermione shook her head, "Not really. I love my wedding band. I love the fact that it looks so plain until I run my thumb over it. Your Dad made sure it is completely potion proof so I never have to take it off. It's perfect and it is all I need." She hugged Harry close and he nuzzled her hair.
Sev quietly let himself out. He was still smiling slightly as he made one final sweep of his own House. He tucked in a few blankets, retrieved a few comfort toys from the floor and slipped them back into hands, found one firstie boy who had scooched around until his feet were on his pillow so he gently righted him in the bed. Everyone was in place and asleep or nearly there so he returned to his quarters and dropped into his bed without even changing into night clothes.
He sat up and looked. Instead of the regular Hogwarts sheets, which were nice enough, his bed had been made up with the exquisite cotton sheets he'd grown used to from his bed in the Potter house. He stretched out and sank into a deep, restful sleep.
Severus woke up early in the morning to find a pot of freshly brewed coffee waiting for him. Not unusual, but the inclusion of the extra-large coffee mug he'd used over the summer told him that likely Elsie had delivered it. He took a long drink and found it to be very strong, just like Elsie had learned he liked it.
As happened every year since Severus took the position as Head of Slytherin house, his students were up early. The older ones rousing the younger and directing them in the morning routine that would be expected of them. Draco and Pansy had emerged from their rooms not long after Sev himself had reached the common room. As fifth years, they were responsible for making sure the firsties were awake and getting dressed. Next year they would be handling the same group as second years and assisting the fifth year prefects with the new class of firsties.
"I can't believe we can't eat with our friends anymore," a third year boy complained.
"I know," a fourth year girl replied. "It was great to be able to talk to them about classes and stuff. It was really helpful to get my friend's help with Arithmancy. She's in Ravenclaw. At least I can talk to her at night."
"I've been thinking about that," Pansy said while she brushed a first year's long hair and braided it. "Umbridge has only been here for less than a day. What are the odds she even knows what Houses we're supposed to be in? Except for those of us who came to her attention last night."
The fourth year girl grinned and used her wand to remove the Slytherin patch from the front of her robes. The firstie with the freshly braided hair yanked off her tie and tucked it into her pocket. Draco grinned and went back down the corridor to the Suite to pass the idea on to the other Houses.
When four groups of students met up in the Entry Hall, there were no signs of House colors on anyone. Harry grinned over at Draco who winked back.
Umbridge was in the doorway to the Great Hall, she glanced over to the arriving students but didn't seem to notice the absence of patches or ties. She was too busy raging. "This is entirely unacceptable!" the toad croaked.
McGonagall sighed, "As I have said, no one has any idea who changed the formation or why. We have tried to move them but we cannot. And the original ones cannot be found. There is nothing we can do unless you plan on not feeding the children."
Umbridge let out a wordless shriek, threw up her hands, and stalked away.
McGonagall inhaled deeply, closing her eyes for a moment. She opened them and looked at the closest students, "Where are your…" she realized that no one was technically in uniform and a small smile spread across her face. "As you can see, there have been a few changes to the Hall. Please find a seat, breakfast will be served in a few minutes."
Inside the Great Hall, instead of four long tables and benches, there were multiple large round wooden tables with semi-circular benches. Each table was set for eight. Each one had a centerpiece consisting of a vase containing the Hogwarts seal and a bouquet of flowers in red, green, blue, and yellow. At the front of the Hall were two tables, larger than the others, set for twenty each. Above those floated two banners reading "Welcome First Years."
"Come along Firsties," Flitwick called. "Come find a seat up here. The rest of you sit wherever!"
Cedric commandeered a table on the far side and waved to the others. Harry, Hermione, Neville, Luna, Draco, and Pansy joined him. Seamus and Dean snagged the next table followed by Fred, George, Angelina, and Lee. Dennis Creevey was waved over and the conversation quickly turned to the paper and the possibility of adding photographs. Collin and Nigel had been given the task of paper sales. They walked around the tables with messenger bags over their shoulders hawking. At least a few people at each table bought one and as word spread, the boys were tracked down by others to buy their copy. By the time breakfast appeared on the tables, the boys were out of papers and loaded down with Knuts. Angelina fetched them and squeezed them into the table with the others to eat.
Rebecca was holding court over the firsties at her table with the tale of Sir Nicholas' midnight visit. She waved her arms then gripped her chin and head as though taking her head off. As she was talking she turned and pointed over to Severus who was reading Hogwarts' Happenings.
McGonagall looked exhausted but she was speaking with Flitwick as she examined the paper.
There were two tables of all girls giggling and twittering. Another two of various Quidditch players talking strategy. A table of students of various ages and sex were actively trading Chocolate Frog Famous Wizard and Witch cards while they ate.
Ron and Ginny sat at a table in the far back corner by themselves.
History of Magic was as boring as ever. An hour and a half drone of the Ministry version of the Giant Wars. Harry, Hermione, and Neville took advantage of the time, sitting side by side and reading new books that she had bought while shopping with Lady Craven. Harry was so fully engrossed in the real history of Goblins that he was shocked to realize class was over and it was time to move on to Potions.
"This is a most important year in your educational career," Snape greeted the fifth year class of mixed Slytherin and Gryffindor. "And for many of you, this will be your final year in my classroom. I only take the best students into my N.E.W.T. level class so anyone who does not receive an Outstanding grade on their O.W.L. exam will not be accepted. However I will be severely disappointed if anyone fails to receive at least an Acceptable." He glowered firmly. "Open your books to page 43." He turned and flicked his wand at the blackboard. "And copy down the corrections as you see on the board. As with many methods in your textbook, the Draught of Peace instructions will produce the correct potion, however it can be done better. Take it slow and steady, you have ninety minutes. Anyone whose potion does not emit a silver vapor will receive a zero for the assignment. Begin."
As everyone stirred to begin modifying the book instructions as directed, Neville leaned over to Hermione, "How much of this did we brew this summer? We should've kept a few vials." He caught Severus' glare and straightened up to copy the notes.
With ten minutes left in the class, the entire back row consisting of Neville, Harry, Hermione, Draco, Pansy, and Isabel had potions that emitted the required silvery mist. Harry made a production of wiping his brow with his sleeve as Severus walked around checking cauldrons. Severus winked as he stopped between Parvati and Lavender.
"I don't know what's wrong," Lavender whimpered as she stared down into her cauldron which was obviously the wrong color.
"You did not allow it to simmer long enough," Severus replied. "The ingredients need a chance to dissolve and blend before you continue. Half credit for the day."
"Yes, sir, thank you." Lavender nodded as she underlined and made notes in her book.
Parvati smiled as her own potion began to produce the correctly colored steam. Severus nodded to her and moved on.
"Mr. Weasley," Snape sighed. "How did you manage to produce something that smells strongly of sulfur?"
Ron shrugged and Snape vanished the potion and thankfully the smell. He cast several more 'Evanesco" spells including Crabbe's which was beginning to bubble over. When Goyle dipped in his flagon, Severus was quick to contain the resulting explosion.
Harry very proudly labeled his flagon and sat it on the front desk.
They gathered again at the same table for lunch. Cedric was talking to another seventh year as he entered and the girl joined them. They were talking about Muggle studies and how far out of date the information they were being taught was. They talked about life in the Village where Magical and Non mixed daily.
After lunch Neville went off to Divination with Dean while Harry and Hermione went to Ancient Runes.
All too soon, it was time for the class they'd been dreading. Defense Against the Dark Arts. They trooped into the classroom, duplicated the greeting Umbridge demanded, put their wands away (Harry, Hermione, and Neville hadn't even bothered drawing them from their wrist holsters), and copied down her 'Ministry Approved', 'Ministry Structured', 'Tried and True' course aims for the term.
But when she instructed them to open their books and read the first chapter, Harry and Hermione stopped obeying. They had been planning this, just the two of them. With a tug on the bond to send support to one another, they both sat down the text on their shared desk and instead pulled out their own personal books to begin reading.
"Hem-hem," Umbridge coughed, "What do you think you are doing? That is not the approved text."
Harry nodded, "I've read the approved text cover to cover. Now I'm reading something that could actually teach me how to defend myself." He could feel the weight of Neville's stare. They hadn't told him about this, not wanting to involve him if it went badly.
"Defend yourself?" Umbridge giggled like a little girl, "Do you expect to be attacked in my classroom, Mr. Potter?"
"One never knows," Harry replied, not bothering to correct his title, "But mainly I don't plan to spend the rest of my life in a classroom, Professor. And the world outside is a very dangerous place."
"Nonsense," Umbridge shook her head.
"Oh," Harry gave her a fake smile and a syrupy sweet voice, "Right. Of course Professor Umbridge, the world has not changed in the slightest, tranquil and serene, and completely safe. Tra-La-La."
"Mr. Potter you have just earned a detention with me tomorrow night at five pm for your blatant disrespect," Umbridge glowered. She snatched the book from Hermione's hand. "You will read the approved text."
Harry felt the surge from Hermione as she reached out her hand and the book flew back to her, "That is my book. And I've read the 'approved' text."
"YOU WILL NOT DISRESPECT ME WHILE I AM TEACHING!"
Hermione remained stoic in the face of the toad's rage, "But you are not teaching." She gestured to the textbook lying untouched on the desk, "Wilbert Slinkhard is. I've learned what little he has to teach and like my husband, would prefer to study something that might actually save my life. Especially since you intend for us to go into the O.W.L. exam without ever having practiced any of the spells."
"We're not going to practice? How will we know we can perform the spells?" voices overlapped.
"Raise your hands to ask a question!" Two thirds of the class's hands shot into the air. Umbridge clenched her jaw, "If you have successfully learned the spell theories, there will be no need to practice. You will perform them perfectly for your exams, which is the only time you will need to perform them."
"Yeah, right," Hermione scoffed.
"Professor Umbridge?" Lavender's hand shook as it rose, "Usually professors start with point deductions."
"Well I believe that the punishment should fit the crime," Umbridge replied. "And such deliberate insolence requires a bit more that the loss of House points. Enough talking! Read!"
Glances were exchanged, jaws clenched, scowls set but silence fell. Umbridge seemed to calm herself with several deep breaths, "Children there are many lies and rumors floating about our world today. Many people whose sole ambition is to create discord and draw the spotlight to themselves. I caution you to always consider the source of the information. If it is someone who has been known to lie or to be unstable, perhaps the information is not all that accurate. I am here on behalf of the Ministry for you children. If you are being told such lies, please report them to me. The Minister himself has grown concerned over your wellbeing and will do everything in his power to ensure you have a safe, stable environment to learn and grow in." Her droning voice took on that same patronizing tone, "Now I feel we've gotten off on the wrong foot. You must be patient with me as I am so new to the teaching profession. Let us begin again."
She greeted them again, and had them greet her. She reread through the course aims and once again directed them to read the first chapter in the textbook. This time she didn't say a word about the books Harry and Hermione were reading instead.
Parvati's hand went up. Umbridge smiled warmly at her, "Yes, Miss…"
"Patil," Parvati replied. "I was just wondering why Ron Weasley doesn't seem to be required to do the reading." Ron turned around from his spot in the front row. He hadn't even pulled his book out instead was immersed in a Quidditch magazine.
"Miss Pattel," Umbridge's smile disappeared. "Do you honestly think there is anything in this classroom I have missed?"
"And as I am the professor, perhaps you should leave the classroom control to me. Alright Miss Pattel?"
"Patil," Parvati replied coldly. "P-A-T-I-L."
"Well Miss Patil, you have also earned a detention with your two Housemates tomorrow evening. Now read your books, there will be no further need for talking."
Parvati sat in shocked silence. She'd been in trouble before but never anything more serious than a few House points. She had never earned detention. Her hands shook as they opened the textbook to the first chapter. Lavender subtly reached over and stroked the back of her friend's hand.
Hermione sent one word through the bond, "Shit."
"Would one of you like to explain to me how you managed to receive a detention during your very first day of classes?"
Severus had stalked up into the Suite where many students were gathered and ordered Harry, Hermione, and Parvati to follow him into the Slytherin corridor and a private room.
"She punished Harry and Maya because they weren't reading," Parvati explained. "But completely ignored Weasley sitting right in front of her flipping through a magazine."
Severus glowered and she flinched. "And why was it any of your business what she chose to do about Weasley?"
"It wasn't fair," she whispered shakily.
"Life isn't fair, Miss Patil," Severus replied. "Professors shouldn't have favorites among students but they often do. If she chooses to allow Mr. Weasley to play rather than learn, that is her choice."
"I told you," Hermione said. "Last night. The best thing you can do around Umbridge is to watch and listen while keeping quiet."
"You antagonized her," Parvati said. "Bringing in your own books! I've never had a detention in my life!" she bit her lip as tears filled her eyes.
Severus sighed, "It will be fine, Parvati. Go on back to the Suite, your sister is probably looking for you."
Parvati nodded and fled.
"You. ANTAGONIZED. Her," Severus growled. His eyes drilled into Harry's and for the first time in a long time, Harry remembered what it was like to fear this man. "You two deliberately provoked Umbridge? What were you thinking?"
Harry reached through the bond for support and found that Hermione was also feeling Sev's wrath. "We had to know for sure. I had to know that our plan for her detentions was successful."
"What are you talking about?"
"Blood quills," Hermione replied softly. "She punished with blood quills last time."
Severus was silent, breathing deep but quickly as he reined in his fury. "Blood quills are illegal. And potentially very dangerous. She was using them on children?"
"Yes," Harry replied. "And they hurt like hell." He rubbed his hand absently where the scars had been.
"And in the wrong hands can be used to poison," Sev snarled. "Why didn't you tell me?"
"Because you'd be as pissed off as you are right now," Harry replied. "We talked to the Castle and the Elves. They aren't going to let her use them. But we had to be sure they were able to get rid of them. So we pushed today, assuming she'd give us detention. We didn't expect Parvati to follow our lead and get in trouble too." He sighed and rubbed his forehead where the scar burned slightly.
"When is the detention?"
"Five," Hermione asked. "Last time she kept him until after midnight the first detention."
"Whatever time you return, you come straight down to me, is that understood?" Severus was still radiating fury so both of them simply nodded.
Umbridge was waiting when the three of them walked into her classroom just before five the following evening. "Good to see you are all on time. Please take a seat where the parchment and quills are waiting." Harry and Hermione separated to place Parvati between them at the desks. "You will write lines tonight. I will show respect."
Harry stared at the dreaded quill looking so harmless on the desk. As soon as she finished speaking, the quills vanished.
"Professor Umbridge, I don't have a quill," Hermione said, barely keeping the smugness from her voice.
"I think I have an extra one," Parvati said.
"No," Umbridge snapped, "These are… special quills designed for detention. I place one on each parchment. What did you do to them?"
"Nothing, Professor Umbridge," Harry replied.
Umbridge lifted up the piece of parchment then checked the rest of the desk and the floor under it. "Wait here. I have others." She stalked over to her cabinet and unlocked it by muttering a password. She opened it and took out a metal box. As soon as she opened the box, the contents burst into flames. She shrieked and dropped the box, setting the papers on her desk on fire. Smoke filled the classroom in the seconds before Umbridge could draw her wand and extinguish the flames.
Harry had pulled Hermione and Parvati out of their seats and back away from the danger. Hermione waved her hand back and forth to clear the air in front of them as Umbridge coughed heavily.
"I… I just… uhm… take your seats. Write the sentence out… twenty five times." Umbridge was completely flustered.
The line written twenty five times, took them all of five minutes. Harry gathered them together and walked up to Umbridge where she was trying to sort out the damp, burnt mess on her desk. He laid them neatly on the corner, then walked out with Hermione and Parvati on his arm.
Severus looked up as they entered the Great Hall. Hermione smiled as Harry winked. They dropped Parvati at the table with her friends then walked over to join theirs.
Severus walked into the teachers meeting after dinner with a blood quill in his hand.
"Where did you get that?" Umbridge immediately snarled at him.
"Found it in the corridor outside of the Dark Arts classroom. Strange thing to find in a school," Snape said calmly.
"Hand it over," she demanded, "It is obviously not a Potions related matter."
As he extended his arm, he quietly snapped the stalk of the quill with his thumb, "It appears to have been damaged."
"Do you have any idea how expensive these are? How difficult to obtain?"
"No," Sev lied, "Why would I? It's not something we use as Professors at Hogwarts since they are so highly illegal and immoral."
Umbridge snarled under her breath. "Since I have been here many of my items have gone missing. Supplies and personal possessions. I would like an explanation!"
"And my finding a broken blood quill reminded you of your missing property?" Severus asked.
Umbridge just glowered.
"Nargles possibly," Flitwick said. "Though it is a bit early for them."
Severus nodded, "Possibly because the weather has been so erratic."
"What are you two babbling on about?"
"Nargles," Severus repeated. "Small creatures who hide in tightly grown plants such as mistletoe. They are well known thieves. If it's Nargles, your items will return when you most need them."
"I needed them tonight! Some disappeared, others burst into flames right in front of me. I've spent the last hour trying to locate my reserve supply that I just purchased a week ago but the box seems to have disappeared. Not to mention as I was searching around, there were doors that I could not open. They weren't locked. Some of them weren't even closed but I still couldn't access the rooms."
"Which rooms where you denied access to?" McGonagall asked.
"What difference does that make?" Umbridge snapped. "There shouldn't be anywhere in this castle that I cannot go."
"Traditionally we do not enter the Houses other than our own unless it's an emergency or have been invited," Sprout reported. "Were you trying to get into one of the dorms?"
Umbridge just sat there and huffed. "We're only trying to help Professor Umbridge. That's why Minerva asked the question."
"Obviously there is much more wrong at this school than we thought," Umbridge said as she stood up to stomp away. "Thieves. Self-sealing doors that do not recognize my authority. Students blatantly lying and disrespecting professors. Excuse me I have a report to write."
"Disrespect?" Flitwick asked.
"I handled them," Sev replied. "They had detention with her at five. It didn't last long at all so I suspect lines were written. I believe I instilled the need to show proper respect to the professor."
"Which of your snakes were disrespectful?" McGonagall asked.
"Actually it was three Lions Minerva," Sev replied. "I handled it as I assumed you were busy. Letters to write, scrolls to grade, Dumbledore to consult with, kissing a toad's ass."
"SEVERUS!" Minerva snapped. "That was uncalled for!"
"Really? This woman comes in from the Ministry to tell us we're doing everything wrong. Hoping to stomp out any sign of rebellion or freethinking. Stop the tide of change and take us back to the old ways. Don't question, just obey. Don't argue, just agree. Don't think. Don't feel. Just comply. And you are holding the door opened for her. Inviting the monster into your sanctuary turns your refuge into your misery."
"Dumbledore said to cooperate," McGonagall said. "He told all of us."
"Not me," Severus replied. "Hasn't said a word to me since giving me the order to resume spying for him. Hasn't asked me for a single report. Nothing. I didn't even know he was leaving until I read it in the paper."
"Dumbledore says to keep quiet, keep safe, not rock the boat with Umbridge. We do what we have to do to keep our jobs."
"Our Jobs," Sev sneered, "I thought they were to educate the children, prepare them for the world outside, and protect them from all harm, not dangle them on a hook like a worm hoping to catch a big fish. Tell you what, you keep keeping your job, we'll keep *doing* our jobs. When you decide to start thinking for yourself, let us know."
Severus was halfway down the hall when his feet tangled up and he tripped. Flitwick was hurrying out to him. "Sorry, needed to slow you up a bit. What the hell was that?"
"I lost my temper with Minerva."
Flitwick snorted, "That part I figured out, Sev. The blood quills? Is Umbridge using blood quills? On our children?"
Snape glanced around to confirm no portrait spies were close by, "She was going to try. Castle said no. Her supply vanished or was incinerated. Any of yours get a detention yet?"
"Harry, Maya, and Parvati Patil. Apparently within five minutes of the first class," Sev sighed.
"Do you still have that map?" Flitwick asked.
"No," Sev replied. "Got a few people working on duplicating it. Should have it back soon."
"Anyway I can get one, too?"
"Should be able to."
"Think there will be a mischief night soon?"
Snape shrugged, "I don't know. But considering Umbitch's recent tactics I wouldn't be surprised. Why?"
Flitwick grinned broadly, "I have a couple dozen slingshots and a few other things capable of launching potion filled balloons some distance. You might want to consider what we could load those balloons with instead of paint."
Sev smiled and offered his hand, "Welcome to the revolution. Come up to the Suite after everyone's settled and we'll see what the plan is."
The wild boys are calling
On their way back from the fire
In august moon's surrender to
A dust cloud on the rise
Wild boys fallen far from glory
Reckless and so hungered
On the razors edge you trail
because there's murder by the roadside
In this sore afraid new world
They tried to break us, looks like they'll try again
Wild boys never lose it
Wild boys never chose this way
Wild boys never close your eyes
Wild boys always
You've got sirens for a welcome
There's bloodstain for your pain
and your telephone been ringing
while you're dancing in the rain
Wild boys wonder where is glory
where is all you angels
now the figureheads have fell
and nobles war with arrows over secrets they can tell
they tried to tame you looks like they'll try again
Wild boys never lose it
Wild boys never chose this way
Wild boys never close your eyes
Wild boys always ... shine
Wild Boys – Duran Duran – lyrics by Allen, Christopher Thomas; Cann, Warren Reginald; Currie, William; Ure, Midge © Universal Music Publishing Group; EMI Music Publishing