Chapter 24 Hot Chocolate For the Win

Okay, so I felt this chapter was too short, so I added a bit to it. I'm not up for writing a full one. So, like the Walking Dead Utopia, this one is added too.

I hope you all are doing well. I want to thank those who wished me luck on my surgery. Right now, it is scheduled for the beginning of Dec. I know, but I live in a small town and the Doc is only here once a week. Anyway, I might be a bit longer getting back.

There's a poll on my ffn profile. it has little to do with this story, just a question that bugs me.

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Harry heard the group Floo in, and he rushed up the stairs, taking them two at a time. Remus was not far behind him. As he skidded into the kitchen, he noted that they were all pale, pinch-faced and drawn. "What happened?" he questioned, going to his brother, who looked the worse of the bunch.

"Dementors," they all said, sitting in the nearest chairs. Sirius was shaking still and ordered Kreacher to fetch some hot chocolate. After a moment cups appeared around the table. Everyone grabbed one and started sipping. Even Harry and Remus, who had been at the house. Hot chocolate was a cure-all for everything, according to Remus.

"Shite," Harry cursed, picking up his cup, a frown marring his face. "Where's Tonks?" he asked, looking around. He took a sip and glanced around the table waiting for someone to answer.

The elves popped in and distributed more chocolate, liquid or otherwise. Dobby was setting about refilling the hot cocoa, since Sirius and Ron gulped theirs down, not caring how hot it was.

"She had to change into herself and fight the Dementors. Good thing you helped her with that. Can you do that for the rest of us?" Hermione asked, taking a small bite of some candy, closing her eyes at the feeling of warmth that spread throughout her body.

"You leave tomorrow," Harry pointed out, rubbing his brother's back, trying to snap the man out of the daze he seemed to be in.

"Right, I meant, when we are all together again," she said, still basking in the warm feeling. "I know the basics, but I'm having a bit of difficulty getting the memory right," she confessed.

"Yeah, I can do that. I know how hard it is to get the correct memory. How about we communicate over the mirrors while you're at school?" he offered, giving his friend a small smile.

"That would be wonderful, Harry. Thank you," she said, returning his smile with a glowing grin.

"By the way, are you joining us for the Christmas holiday? I mean, aren't your parents going to want you home. You've been here all summer," Harry inquired, realizing that her folks might be miffed that their daughter was missing from their home for the better part of the year.

"I am going to see them the first week of break," she said, tapping her chin in thought. "They're still out of the country, and Sirius said he can get me a portkey to where they are. So, they're not as upset as you would think. They know that they're in danger, and they have taken a… job, I guess you can call it, overseas for the next five years. I had to promise to spend more time with them once this whole war is over."

That bit of news had both Harry and Sirius sigh in relief. Hermione was the only one who had parents that could not defend themselves. Well, Neville's parents were pretty much in the same boat, but they were protected in St. Mungo's. If all hell broke loose than his grandmother could transport them to their manor. Thinking on that, Harry decided to write Neville with that bit of advice.

"Oh, well, that's good, I reckon," the dark-haired teen said, nodding his head in agreement that her parents were safer out of the country. "Why did they decide to leave?" he asked, looking to his brother, who seem to come out of his Dementor coma. "Did you have something to do with it?"

"I did help them," Sirius confessed, his face still pale but he was feeling more like himself. "When they tried to stop my post to you, I got in touch with the Drs. Granger, and gave them the news that Riddle was back and that they might want to leave. At first, they were upset that their daughter was in danger, still are I'm sure, then they realized it would hamper Hermione for them to stay. So, they took a volunteer job in Africa, I think," he added, taking a huge hip of his cocoa.

"And I, for one, will be ever so grateful to you for being one of the only adults to think of my parents," Hermione said, grabbing ahold of his arm and squeezing it. "Now that I know what you did, I feel like an idiot for thinking that you only ever thought of yourself," she said, her eyes a bit misty.

"It's alright, Hermione, I understand," the dogman said, finally getting some color back in his face.

"Right, now that that is settled, what now?" Ron asked, eating a huge chunk of chocolate, then talking with it still melting in his mouth. Something, he never grew out of, no matter how many times he was chastised. "We got all our books and stuff. And we have the house elves to pack them, so what say we have a going away party tonight?" he asked, trying to lighten the mood.

"Who would we invite so last minute?" Ginny asked, after she slap his head for talking with his mouth full.

"I guess, we can ask everyone who in the know about Harry's secret. I'm sure they could use some down time too," the youngest male redhead shrugged.

"I know I can," mumbled Sirius, then perked up a bit and left the room.

"Well, that seemed to bring him out of it. Thanks, mate," Harry said, beaming a smile to his friend, only to cringe at the melted chocolate around his mouth and down his chin. "Gross, Ron. Seriously, wipe you mouth," he said, picking up the nearest piece of cloth and threw it in his friends face.

The rest of the group laughed at the byplay.

Harry, who had always tried to find a way for Ron to stop eating with his mouth full, got a sly grin on his face and said, "You know, Ron, you're never going to get a girlfriend if you don't start using those manners that I know your mum taught you. Birds don't like ill mannered people. That and I'd hate to date one that does. Can you imagine that?" he said as he shuddered at the thought.

"Too right," said Fred, clapping his younger brother on the back.

"Those hormones will be kicking in soon, if they haven't already, so you'd better get a move on one cleaning up your manners," George added, smirking at Ron.

"As I girl, I can say that they are right," Ginny added, grimacing at the chocolate that still lined Ron's mouth. "Really, Ron, Mum taught you better."

"Hmmm," was all the younger redhead had to say as he glanced at his female friend, noting the look of disgust on her face. He quickly used the cloth to wipe his face. Then Fred took pity on him and cleansed it with magic.

Hermione agreed with the others. It was one of the things that she disliked about the redhead, his lack of table manners. Nothing she or his family did, or said, seemed to stop that. It was beyond frustrating. Perhaps, Harry hit it on the nose, and this would help.

"Remus, can you tell us a bit more about the OWL requirements, so we know what to study?" Hermione asked, changing the subject away from the embarrassed boy.

"Well, if rumor is right and you get Umbridge, then you will need to self-study. Even if it is for only a week or so," the werewolf said, grinning to himself. "So, I would recommend reading the books you got today." He shrugged, like it was obvious. "There are a few in the school library that will give you extra insight. I'll write up a list tonight."

"That would be wonderful," the bushy-haired girl said, beaming at her ex-professor.

"We can also use that room Dobby told us about. That way even if Tonks gets rid of the Toad, then we can still have somewhere to practice. Wouldn't want the junior Death Eaters to know we're practicing," Ron said, finally swallowing before he talked.

"That's a marvelous idea," Hermione said, grinning at her friend. It fit nicely with her plan anyway. Even if Harry was staying here, she could still help her fellow year mates. This was one of the most important year for them, and with the shoddy instructors they had, bar Remus, and if she was reluctant to admit, the false Moody, they would need all the help they can get. All she had to do was make so those forementioned Jr. Death Eaters didn't crash the party. Something she was going to have to think hard on.

"Yeah, it is," Harry agreed, glad they would have somewhere to do what they needed.

"Okay, so, you lot, go upstairs and get your stuff put away, come back down and we'll have a nice dinner. Sorry Ron, no party. Fidelius, remember?" Sirius said, coming back to the room. "I did invite your parents, but Molly started in on me the moment I Flooed, so you guys are to go see her after dinner, alright?"

The Weasley children all agreed that would be proper.

"Right, I forgot about that spell," the glum boy said, chugging down the rest of his cup and wiping his mouth. If what Harry and the others said was true, he would have to watch his p's and q's. It wasn't like he didn't know them, he just never really cared before. But the birds would want him to at least be neat, well, he could do that. Probably. He hoped. No, he had a strong will. He was a Gryffindor after all.

They all went upstairs and put their things away. A few washed up and changed into something more casual. Trooping back down, they gathered for dinner.

Tonks showed up a bit later and told them that no one was in trouble for the Dementors. The final record was that they went rogue. She did say that Bones was going to be keeping a closer watch on the 'request' that needed to be filled out to even think of 'recruiting' the demons.

While slightly good news, the kids were still pissed off that someone was getting away with today's fiasco. No one had a clue as to why they were there, but Tonks figured it was Umbridge trying to get Harry in trouble. Since she had Harry's glass frames, with plain glass, they all thought that maybe there was a tracking charm on them.

That said, Tonks and Remus fussed over said frames, and sure enough there were three tracking spells. This caused a lot of cussing.

Sirius was the most pissed, berating himself for not checking in the first place. The strange thing was, he had no clue how or when it had been applied. He had gone over all Harry's stuff when he showed up. Was it when they were in the Ministry? Possible. Now he felt like a right idiot for now checking as soon as they came home.

Dinner that night was a boisterous affair. They all had a great time over some Beef Wellington with the fixings, and a large chocolate cake for afters. The Weasley kids all went home for a few hours to see if their parents would be meeting them at the station, or did they want them to just Floo over. It turned out that Molly had already packed lunches and was only waiting for them to recognize her as their mother again.

They kids were unsure how to feel about that. They loved their mum, no doubt, but to lay the guilt on them for staying safe, when it was their dad's idea, well that just rubbed them wrong. Still, they gave her hugs and told her they loved her. Then accepted the offer that they all meet at the station in the morning.

The next morning was an orchestrated chaos. Everyone had their trunks packed, but they all seemed to forget something, mostly pets. Ginny and the twins sat on their trunks while they waited for Ron and Hermione to say good-bye to Harry.

A few tearful minutes later the everyone but Harry and Sirius were gone. The other adults accompanying the teens.

"Are you 100% sure this is what you want?" Sirius asked before it was too late for Harry to change his mind.

"It is," the teen said with a firm nod.

"Okay, well let's get back to work," his brother said, putting a hand on the other boy's shoulder and steering him to the dungeon where they practiced. Harry looked at the cold Floo and then shook his head and let himself be lead away.

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The train ride was quiet, the group were sequestered in a compartment with Neville and Luna, who everyone but Tonks and Hermione knew. They talked of casual things, before the train left the station.

Malfoy made he yearly foray into the 'Potter' compartment, but Tonks quick wit soon and a confused blonde almost running for the hills. Ginny told the girl quietly that what she had done was not a 'Harry' thing. Tonks thanked her and settled in to do a bit of meditation to get in character. She made sure to put a brooding mask on, making it seem more like Harry.

Several boring hours later they were at Hogwarts. Every Gryffindor was sitting at their table waiting for the feast to start. Ron was even keeping quiet and not whining about the sorting going slow.

When the food appeared, they all had their fill, and Dumbledore stood to make a speech just as the pudding disappeared. When he introduced the DADA professor, he was interrupted by an ugly woman dressed in pink, the group paid attention. This was one of the reasons that Tonks was here, to make sure that this woman didn't hurt anyone.

The speech the Toad gave was downright disgusting. Tonks, Ginny, and Hermione, probably others as well, bristled at the blatant propaganda and made note to find out how to stop this woman. If Tonks couldn't get her out of the castle soon, Hermione's study group would have to be formed as soon as possible. Not that she wasn't planning on it anyway, but the damage might have to be mitigated right away.

McGonagall announced the prefects, which for Gryffindor fifth years were Hermione and Neville, much to the shock of everyone. Tonks was glad, but Ron was miffed. Until the Deputy Headmistress announced the Quidditch Captains, who in this case was Katie. Ron was just glad it wasn't 'Harry'.

There was a bit of an ordeal before the Gryffindor fifth year boys went to bed. Tonks pulled off a Harry impersonation quite well. Self-righteous anger was easy to do. Especially, when she agreed with the Boy-Who-Lived about how their society treated him. She could see now that Harry had the right of it. Good thing he wasn't coming back to this school. She figured that she'd tell them to sod off far sooner that Harry had.

Ron was a lot of help, in that he threatened the Finnegan boy and stood up for his best mate.

It could have been a lot worse, she supposed.

On the way to the Great Hall for breakfast, 'Harry' was stopped many times by people telling 'him' they believed him. There were quite a few Hufflepuffs that thanked him for the article. She noted they though they were pleasant, they didn't apologize for their treatment the times they weren't as pleasant. One more check mark for Harry never to return.

The schedules were handed out at breakfast and all the fifth years groaned. It was a nightmare of a day. All the worst classes were at the start of the week. Snape, Trelawney, Binns and Umbridge. Only Hermione was exempt from Divination. For some reason all the fifth year Gryffindors took that class. The females of that year actually enjoyed it.

"Think of it this way," Tonks said, putting the parchment in her history book, and looking at Harry's friends, "you'll get the worst out of the way sooner." She shrugged and finished her eggs.

"I guess that's one way to put it," Hermione agreed, drinking the last of her pumpkin juice.

"Still," Ron countered, "it's going to be a bloody nightmare." He slammed his head on the table and groaned. A few others looked like they wanted to do the same.

Classes were going okay, though Tonks made note of how awful Snape treated the students, sure she had had the man, but she could see the difference on how he treated Hufflepuffs to Gryffindors. It was outright abuse, and she had no clue why the man still held his station. She was going to tell Bones what was going on. If the Ministry was going to interfere, then they bloody well should do it right.

After three grueling, not to mention boring, classes, it was time for DADA. They all filed in and took the seats they usually did. The pink woman was at the front of the class, wearing a saccharine smile. Not one single person believed she was as benevolent as she was trying to portray. Still, they kept quiet and looked to the front.

When the bell rang and the door closed, Umbridge started her speech. Hermione took exception the curriculum and called the woman out on it. An argument soon began and for some reason only 'Harry' was given detention. Not at all on purpose, no.

"Detention, with me, tonight, at seven, Potter," Umbridge said with a vindictive smile on her face.

Tonks countered that smile with a Black Family Crazy Smile™, which looked worse on Harry's face. "Perfect," she purred and left the room.

Umbridge felt a cold chill go down her back and wondered if she should carry out with her plans.

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Everything that was glossed over you can take that it was the same as canon. I'm not going to rehash Rowling's story. Don't worry, it'll change soon enough.