I own nothing.

Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum

-Chapter Three:

"So, how was Divination?" Hermione asked as she met her friends at the dinner table. "Did Trelawney predict Harry's death?"

"No," Ron grumbled.

"Gee Ron, try not to sound too disappointed."

"I had a knut riding on it," Ron stated. "Hey Luna."

"Hello!" the blond chirped. "I have the pre-copy of tomorrow's Quibbler!"

"Tomorrow's what now?" Harry asked.

"The paper my father writes!" Harry stared down at the newspaper that had been shoved under his nose. The first page picture showed himself, Ron and Hermione gawking at the photographer and scratching their heads as something vaguely snake-like moved in the shadows behind them.

"Hogwarts Hero Trio Tackles the Chamber of Secrets," he mumbled aloud as he read the headline. "What do you mean Hero Trio?"

"You, Ron and Hermione!" Luna stated.

"But, you were there," Ron stated, catching Harry's train of thought. "Shouldn't it be Hero Quartet?" He tapped his chin. "Hero Legion."

"Honestly Ron, don't be dramatic," Hermione stated. "Hero Quartet would be better."

"Nothing wrong with being dramatic sometimes," Ron shot back.

"But, you're the three," Luna stated.

"And now we're the four," Harry replied.

"Trust me Luna, this kind of thing makes you friends for life," Hermione added. "If it weren't for a troll, I would probably still not pay any mind to these two."

"Probably true," Ron admitted. Luna stared at them with big, surprisingly focused eyes. Then the air in Harry's lungs was squeezed out as she caught him in a rib crushing hug.

"Thanks Luna," he managed, awkwardly patting her on the head. The blond detached herself and lunged across the table to hug Ron and Hermione before jumping up.

"I'll go tell father to fix the story."

"Sweet girl," Hermione commented as they watched her run off.

"Might odd, but true," Ron replied as he took the paper from Harry and began skimming it.

"Oh good Weasley!" Malfoy announced, crashing to halt before them. "I see you've already seen the news."

"Yup, invasive jackalopes are breeding exponentially in Whales," Ron replied without looking up from the paper. "The Ministry should probably look in to that." He finally lowered the paper and looked at Hermione. "What the hell is a jackalope?" The bushy-haired girl shrugged. "Ah, Hagrid strikes again."

"Your father is in the Daily Prophet," Malfoy sneared.

"He is?"

"Ministry official Arnold Weasley was involved with a tussle with Muggle law-keepers over highly aggressive dustbins!" Malfoy read.

"Ron?"

"Don't look at me, first I've heard of it," Ron replied. "Arnold?"

"Seems he's so unimportant that they can't even be bothered to remember his name. Mister Weasley appears. . ." Malfoy trailed off as he looked up and saw Ron's face. "Stop smiling every time you see me!"

"Can't help it, mate," Ron replied. "I wanted it to be a secret, but your father is paying us a two hundred thousand Galleon bounty!"

"What?" Malfoy asked blankly.

"Isn't that great?" Ron asked. "Now what was that about dustbins?"

"It involved him rushing to help Mad Eye Moody," Malfoy stated, all the smugness now gone from his voice.

"That does sound like my dad," Ron admitted. "Helpful sort of fellow, you know?"

"What the hell is a Mad Eye Moody?" Harry asked.

"He's the new Defense Against the Dark Arts professor," Hermione stated. "I heard about it in class."

"Good to know," Harry admitted, "but less than helpful. Ron?"

"Old friend of the family," Ron explained. "He was the most feared auror during You-Know-Who's last reign. He's the one that caught Malfoy's father."

"My father was exonerated on all charges due to the Imperious Curse!" Malfoy snapped.

"Yeah, Mad Eye told me the whole thing as a bedtime story once," Ron stated. "He burst into a Death Eater hideout and your dad tried to run. He tripped over his own feet and slammed his head on a table. Fortunately, that released the Imperious Curse. Unfortunately, that also caused him to soil himself when he woke up and saw Mad Eye staring down at him." Malfoy's face turned scarlet.

"Is there a problem Mister Malfoy?" Malfoy spun on his heel and came face-to-face with the school's transfiguration mistress herself.

"No problem Professor," Malfoy managed before stalking off.

"I just wanted to remind you that you will all be in the transfiguration classroom thirty minutes after your dinner," Minerva stated. "I suggest bringing something to work on and please tell Miss Lovegood when you see her."

"Yes Professor." She turned and swept away.

"So the new Defense teacher is the most terrifying auror to ever live?" Harry asked.

"Yup."

"That could be either very good or very bad," Harry stated. "He either doesn't want to kill me, or he's going to be very hard to stop."

"If it makes you feel better, Moody would rather blow himself up than do anything for the Death Eaters," Ron commented. "Also, if he wanted you dead, you'd probably already be dead."

"That does make me feel better, actually."

(:ii:)

"This is weird, right?" Harry ventured in a whisper.

"Yeah," Hermione whispered back.

"Do you think he's ill?" Minerva ventured.

"He hasn't mentioned feeling sick." They watched as Ron continued to pour over the books and map he had spread across the floor.

"Should I call Poppy?" Minerva asked.

"Uh. . .couldn't hurt." Ron looked up and frowned as he saw the three of them staring at him. Luna was leaping around the classroom trying to catch something only she could see.

"What?"

"What are you working on Mister Weasley?" Minerva ventured.

"Just some extra credit for Hagrid," Ron stated before turning back to his map and flipping open a book that was about a foot deep.

"Madame Pomfrey might be a good idea." There was a knock at the door and it creaked open to reveal the school healer.

"Did someone call?"

"Does she do that normally?" Harry asked.

"Only when she can creep us out," Minerva admitted. "Mister Weasley has been studying for an hour and a half."

"Huh, that's weird, right?" Poppy asked.

"Yeah," Hermione replied.

"Anyway, I heard that you had already snagged four students for detention," Poppy commented, happily ignoring the overly-studious student. "Mind if I borrow one? I'm doing inventory."

"I guess," Minerva allowed, glancing at the two students who weren't currently chasing their non-existent tails or studying.

"Ron?" Harry called.

"Huh?" Ron asked without looking up.

"Madame Pomfrey is doing an inventory, would you rather do that than study?" Harry asked.

"Nah, go ahead mate," Ron replied as he flipped a page and annotated something on his map. "I'm good. I really need to keep working on this."

"Well, I guess I'll help," Harry stated.

"Excellent!" Poppy announced. "This way." Harry followed the school nurse out into the hallway.

"He's going to be okay, isn't he?"

"I'm sure Mister Weasley is just fine," Poppy stated. "Maybe he's just decided to start taking his studies. . ."

"He's just decided to start taking he studies. . ." Harry supplied.

"Sorry, I just couldn't finish that sentence with a straight face."

"Yeah, that's fair. So, what do you need me to do?"

"Mostly you'll just be inventorying my potion ingredients," Poppy stated. "It'll be wonderfully boring. I dare say, you won't figure out a single way to endanger yourself while you do it."

"Madame Pomfrey?"

"Yes?"

"I think you and I have a profound misunderstanding."

"How so?" Poppy asked.

"You seem to think that I keep endangering myself and my friends because I enjoy it," Harry stated. "That's a gross mischaracterization."

"Is it?"

"Absolutely, as a matter of fact, I'm working very hard this year to make sure that next year is completely quiet."

"If you don't enjoy it then why do you have to do anything this year?" Poppy asked suspiciously.

"Because I have to do something at least twice a year."

"You are aware that there are fully-grown, combat-experience witches and wizards inside this castle, are you not?" Poppy pressed.

"For some reason, they never seem to be around when everything goes wrong," Harry grumbled. "Usually, my only options are to grab my friends and go, or allow something bad to happen." Poppy gave him a sour look.

"I see."

(:ii:)

"And two hundred Mandrake roots," Harry grumbled as he wrote it down on a piece of parchment. "Why do you even have two hundred of these miserable things?"

"Fool me once, shame on me. Nobody gets to fool me again," Poppy stated plainly. "I will not be caught shorthanded by something like a basilisk again. No student in this school will be forced to endure a prolonged period of paralysis under my care again."

"Hopefully the one we took care of will be the last one," Harry grumbled.

"A full team from the Department of Mysteries has already investigated," Poppy stated. "They have located a cache of what may be basilisk eggs and removed them."

"And why didn't they do that the first time?" Harry asked.

"I refuse to participate in gossip Mister Potter," Poppy stated. "However, I will speculate that the fact that the attacks continued after the head master was forced out would have laid the responsibility on the Ministry. I believe that they would have simply enjoyed the fact that the attacks ceased and not bothered to investigate further as that would draw attention."

"Couldn't Professor Dumbledore have forced them?"

"Politics are a disgusting game of give and take with no cooperation," Poppy stated. "To force anything would be to give up something and that must be measured carefully. That is all I will say."

"I think my uncle may have had a point when he said that all politicians should he executed," Harry said in disgust, both at politics and at his uncle for being right about anything. He turned back to the cupboard and began counting troll livers.

"I also need to make sure that I am fully stocked for the TriWizard Tournament," Poppy added.

"Oh, that horrible thing."

"That horrible thing," Poppy parroted. "Mister Potter, the TriWizard Tournament is an event with a long and glorious tradition. . ."

". . .of killing students," Harry interrupted. Poppy was silent for a few seconds and he glanced back at the school healer.

"Exactly!" she exploded suddenly, making him jump. "Bringing back that miserable contest is the most ridiculous thing I can think of. Do you know how many students died for it?"

"Hermione said about twenty-five percent," Harry stated.

"Twenty-five percent!" Poppy snapped. "I don't care that they've set an age limit now. There is no excuse for putting students at risk for a school's honor."

"Imagine dying for something as stupid as someone else's honor," Harry commented.

"I know!" They were interrupted as the door burst open and a first year stumbled in dragging another first year.

"Madame Pomfrey!"

"On the bed!" Poppy ordered as she swept in. "What happened?"

"She fell down the moving stairs," the uninjured first year gasped.

"If I've told the Head Master once," Poppy grumbled. Harry made his way over and stared at the young girl's arm.

"Broken?"

"Your medical opinion Mister Potter?" Poppy asked as she waved her wand over the appendage.

"Just speaking from experience," Harry replied.

"I suppose you would. . .stop that!" Poppy snapped as the first year began to prod the suddenly pain free appendage. "I took the pain away, but it's still broken. Mister Potter, please hold this." Harry seized the young girl's wrist and elbow. "Now apply some traction."

"What?"

"Pull gently."

"Oh." He watched curiously as Madame Pompfrey's wand danced across the swollen appendage.

"That easy?"

"If by easy you mean the culmination of years of study and practice, than yes," Poppy stated and Harry flinched a bit.

"I'm sorry, I just meant that you made it look easy," he corrected himself quickly. "She doesn't need any disgusting potions? She's not going to spend the night in agonizing pain?"

"Sorry Mister Potter, it turns out that when I don't have to replace every bone below the clavicle, healing isn't that bad," Poppy sniped.

"You're Harry Potter," the injured first year gasped.

"That's right," Harry stated, forcing a smile. The girl looked away as her cheeks turned bright red. "What's wrong?"

"I can't believe I broke my arm falling down a staircase."

"A moving staircase," Harry corrected. "It happens every year."

"It does?" the girl asked.

"Of course. I fell down those stairs my first year." Harry managed another smile and went back to cataloging potion supplies. The healer moved to his side after assuring herself of her patient's health.

"Of all the things you've managed to hurt yourself with, you never fell down the moving stairs Mister Potter," Poppy commented quietly.

"Well, that wouldn't make a first year feel better, would it?" Harry countered. He finished counting troll livers. "Madame Pomfrey?"

"Yes Mister Potter?"

"How would someone learn healing magic?"

"Are you planning on being a healer?" Poppy asked.

"Well, I never really considered it before," Harry admitted, "but even if I don't, it seems like something that would be good to know."

"I see." Poppy stroked her chin for a moment. "I suppose I could speak with Minerva. If you'd be willing to be my aide during your detentions, I could teach you some of the basics? Deal?"

"Deal."

(:ii:)

Harry made his way through the portrait hole and frowned as he found Hermione, Ron and Luna gathered around one of the tables in the mostly empty common room. He made his way over and looked down at the map that they had spread out on the table. "What's happening?"

"When we were in Hagrid's shack, I noticed the map he keeps above his fireplace," Ron stated. Harry studied the map a little more thoroughly. It was of the Forbidden Forest. "I got to thinking, we forgot about something from second year." Harry's eyes fell upon a circled area of the map and the name written next to it.

"Ron, you just stopped waking up screaming at the end of last year," he stated.

"No, you just mentioned it and I began putting up silencing charms," Ron stated. Harry took a deep breath.

"Aragog."

"And all his children," Ron stated. Harry sat down.

"There must be hundreds," he stated.

"Hundreds living in a box canyon with only one way in," Ron added. "I've been trying to figure this out, but I can't think of anything the four of us could do. We'd need something that could hit all of them almost simultaneously. If we attacked and we couldn't do that, we'd be swarmed." His hands were shaking and Hermione rested a comforting hand on his shoulder. "Can you think of anything, Harry?"

"Not off the top of my head," Harry stated. He stared down at the map. He had no fear of spiders, but the memory of being chased made even his hands tremble. He folded them in front of himself. He glanced at the blond member of their group.

"Any thoughts Luna?"

"Fire cleanses all!" Luna chirped as she stared over Harry's shoulder.

"That's less than useful."

"No," Ron stated suddenly as he leaned forward, his eyes practically glowing as he studied the map. "That could work. If we could hold the opening and start a big enough fire, that could work."

"Could we get close enough?" Harry asked.

"No," Hermione stated. "Acromantulas have an excellent sense of smell. They would smell humans coming from half a mile away."

"Of course," Ron growled. "All nightmares just get worse."

"This is a solution," Harry stated firmly. "We have our end goal, we just need to figure out how to get there." The redhead leaned back in his chair.

"What about the professors?" Hermione asked. "This is different. We know that they're out there. This isn't us "just checking." This is us going out there to kill them."

"We can't let the professors know," Harry stated after a moment of contemplation. "This all comes back to Hagrid. He could get in trouble for putting them there. If everyone already knows they're there, than Hagrid finds out that we did it. I don't think I could take that."

"You're right," Ron stated. "I'm not close like you are, but I do like the guy. I wouldn't want him to know what we did." Harry sighed and climbed to his feet.

"I say we all get some sleep. We can talk about this at breakfast." He glanced at the newest member of their clique. "Can you get back to your dorm, or do you need help?"

"I have my ways!" Luna chirped.

"Fair enough."

-End

(:ii:)

-Author's notes. So, hey. Should I change this section to: "author's drunken ramblings"? That just seems so much more accurate. Notes are clinical. Drunken rambling is exactly what I'm doing in these things anyway.

You know, unfortunately, I've kind of been wrapped up more in fanon than canon for a few years. While I knew that shitting on Ron was mostly a fan thing, when I reread the books for this story, it was pretty funny to note that Hermione is the one who shoves food in her face for most of the book. I kind of wonder if most fan writers even know that. I mean, I was in fifth of sixth grade when I first read the first book and that was because a teacher had said: "Hey, you like reading. You should try this new book series". I know I'm kind of an old fogey for a fanfic writer, but it's kind of funny to notice the differences between what happened and what most people seem to think happens. I think one of the more common stories is that Ron wasn't there to help with the troll in the first book and Harry, possibly with the help of someone who is probably an OC, defeats the troll. Ironically, Harry always seems to replace Ron in using a levitation charm, or uses some cool new spell the OC taught him. You know, trying to be closer to canon will probably mark me as some kind of Ron-sympathizer who ignores the books. Odd that. Sorry for not writing Ron as a food-obsessed idiot who can't do anything intelligent, but you know, fuck you. What do I care?

Alright, here's your random story of the week. So, I'm drinking in a local watering hole. Shocking, I know. Anyway, this watering hole is right by a college. What do colleges have? Lots of liberal college kids who just heard this great thing their liberal professor said and are happy to parrot it without understanding the why behind it. Please note, I don't really have any problems with people who have differing opinions that me, but if you want to start with me, you better know what you're talking about.

To be fair to this college kid. I do wear plaid, cause it's comfortable and durable. And I do have a beard, cause I'm lazy and the military made me very adverse to shaving. Anyway, he goes on an anti-gun screed. I was very willing to ignore it because Belator was on and I wanted to see whatever freak show fight they had cooked up, but then he turned to me looking for support. In the words of my drinking buddy: "Jack. Jack, no. Noooooo. Jack, don't. . .oh shit."

Now, in case you've failed to notice. I'm kind of a gun guy. The kind of gun guy who is so confident in my gun knowledge that I don't try to correct people. I'm the kind of gun guy that makes other gun guys look like assholes, which too many of them are, to be fair. I say certain things (silencer, clip) when I'm drunk just to see if I can get into a fight with gun guys. I built my rifle, which is a story for another day.

So, this kid kind of quickly realized that he had fucked up. I had counters to every debate point he tried to bring up. And I was drunk, so I could not shut up and disengage. Your mind must be blown by that fact. Anyway, he tempts me into an hour long bang stick debate during which we attracted probably half the bar. I blame college kids being trained to unthinkingly listen to anyone who sounds like they know what they're talking about. I kind of made him look like a bit of a dumbass, which most gun owners could do, but I also kind of made him look like the asshole, which is kind of what I do.

Anyway, moral of the story: if you are anti-gun, don't try to debate gun owners. Anti-gun folks are kind of like creationists. They have a limited playbook of debate points. Gun owners have long since learned that play book and countered it. Trust me. I had to take a debate class with my chosen topic being gun control and I kind of made my opponent cry. No, I'm not proud of that. She was a very nice, very passionate lady that I made friends with and she got a C on her final debate because of me. . .and because she said: "Think of the children!"

Although, at least in a debate class, the opponent loses immediately if they wail: "Think of the children!" because that doesn't really work with logic. In real life, yes, we have a counter for that too. It's: "I am thinking of the children. I don't want my children to have less rights than I do." To be fair, I don't want children, but my niece and nephew will both learn to shoot from me if they want to when I think they're old enough.

Honestly, my personal opinion is, my nephew is probably too timid. He may shoot once to say he did it. My niece on the other hand, yeah, I think she may be a traditional American rifleman when she's older. She'll be one of the President's Hundred if she wants to.

So, yeah. Lessons learned. Don't go into a debate halfcocked, no pun intended. Especially if you're arguing something older than you are.

I will leave you with this statement that kind of sums up guns in America. If you are anti-gun, you probably don't like guns. This is logical. If you don't like guns, you probably don't understand or study guns and gun culture. This is logical. If you don't understand or study guns and gun culture, you want to write legislature affecting guns. This makes no fucking sense. This is why so many gun control politicians cry about gun owners following the letter of the law, instead of the spirit of the law.

Thus the eternal debate about guns in America.

So, have I mentioned yet that, what with the lovely weather, I've switched back to my nice weather drink of gin? Yeah, you could probably tell. That was long winded, even for me.

Anyway, with the nice weather I've been suppin the gin and drinking at a few of my preferred watering holes again. Yes. That is a whole lot of fodder for future notes.

Next week you get to hear the story of how Uncle Jack knocked out two assholes with two punches in twenty seconds with zero idea of what is going on. That is, if I remember to tell that one.

Fuck you. Love you. Drink!