I'm back! :D


But first! Before we get into this super long chapter, thank you for all your questions and predictions about this chapter about Danny and the Patronus charm and how they may interact! It was so interesting to see what you guys thought would happen, and I wish I could I could have put all of them in here somehow! In any case, I hope you all like my interpretation of what I think the interaction would be like!

I also received a direct question from ghust95 who asked: If Danny were able to cast a patronus in this story what form would it take?

I had to take some time to think about it, but I finally narrowed it down to two possible Patronus forms that I think represent Danny pretty well:

- First, a crow: A well known bird that often gets associated with dark and bad things. However, they are actually very resourceful and ambitious, and very determined to achieve their goals. They are also incredibly intelligent and fearless and are able to find creative ways to overcome or overpower anything that stands in the way of what they want. Plus, Danny loves to fly.

- Second... a badger, hear me out! : Despite it being Vlad's super creepy nickname for Danny, badgers are also known to be very determined and intelligent. They are normally pretty docile and keep to themselves, unless they are threatened which then prompts them to become aggressive. They are also known for their stubbornness, and instinctual protectiveness. Plus... they're black and white.

Let me know in the comments which form you think Danny's Patronus could take, or if you think it would have take a completely different form! I'd love to hear what you guys think!

Thank you for reading!


Harry continued to deny him an explanation of what exactly the Patronus was and why Ron and Hermione were so excited to learn it. It must be a pretty important piece of magic to have the entire session be devoted to a single charm instead of dividing the group and learning multiple or practicing old spells and hand to hand. He'd be helping Draco and Seamus today to catch up with the rest of the DA for a bit, but otherwise it looked like he was just observing today.

Which was cool with him. Magic was an amazing thing to witness after all, and was oftentimes really fun to watch his friends practice. It was also pretty educational, since he'd been accidentally hit by a few wayward spells over the past few months, which showed them all that while he was largely magic proof, some spells affected him more than others (especially in human form). Specifically, spells that acted on something external or created something that wasn't magical affected him just like anyone else.

Hermione theorized that he was largely immune to direct magic, but not immune to indirect magic. Ron said it was like he was immune to being transformed into a slug, but not immune to a magically created fireball, which made a lot more sense to him.

While this was good information to know, Harry suggested to just made it a habit to avoid being hit with any kind of magic, and Danny thought that was probably a good call.

Just as they finished setting out the cushions for people to sit on for the start of the meeting, the rest of DA arrived. As he was chatting with Draco and Michael Corner, convincing them that astronauts were a real thing and that people, specifically Muggles, had been to space and walked on the moon; he noticed Cho Chang, one of the Ravenclaw sixth years, make her way over to Harry to speak with him quietly with a worried frown.

"She's worried about her friend Marietta." Michael startled him from his observation.

"What?"

"You were wondering what was wrong with Cho, right? Marietta got a letter this morning from her Mum that upset her, and Cho hasn't seen her since."

"You're talking about Marietta Edgecombe right?" Draco asked quietly, to which Michael nodded. "Her mother works in the Ministry, in the Department of Magical Transportation."

"Hmm, well I hope everything is all righ- wait. How- Why do you even know that?" Danny asked.

Draco gave him quick look, but instead of answering, turned to where Harry was now standing, ready to begin.

"Hello everyone." Harry began with a wave, "We're going to get started after a bit of a lesson first since we'll be doing something a bit different today."

"What's the lesson plan, teach?" Lee Jordan called out to the muffled laughter of the group.

Harry smiled ruefully, before answering.

"Today, we'll be working on the Patronus charm." Shocked gasps and cries of delight rippled through the DA members.

"You're serious! That's beyond NEWT level, that is!" Angelina Johnson called excitedly, inciting more chatter and awe from the DA.

"Yes, alright everyone, I know you're all excited to learn, but first," Harry's tone turned serious, quieting the excitement, "you have to understand that you're learning this because there is now a very real danger of going up against a dementor, and since the Patronus charm is the only thing that works against them..." Harry trailed off as the atmosphere of the Room turned stony.

Danny looked around and found nothing but cold determination masking fear as it dawned on everyone that Harry was exactly right. After the news of the Azkaban breakout and then Harry's subsequent story of what had happened to him, the mood of the DA had shifted slightly as it's members realized that what they were learning could very well save their lives one day.

"However," Harry cut through the quiet, "while that's one important reason for learning the charm, the other is that Angelina's right; this is one of the most difficult protective charms out there. I think all of you are more than ready to give it a go, and I can't wait to see the toad's face when she realizes we're all capable of producing a patronus." Harry said with a hint of glee, which caused many to laugh at the image, thoroughly lightening the mood once more.

"Let's get started then. Draco, Seamus, since you both have some catching up to do with the physical training, I'll have you work with Danny for a while, and then we'll get you on practicing the Patronus as well, alright?" Both boys grumbled a bit, but nodded. "Before you go though, there's some technical stuff you should all know about the charm itself, so... Hermione? Would you like to do the honors?"

Hermione shot up from her cushion with a smile and then turned to face the group at large before beginning to recite what Danny thought must have been a word-for-word readback of a textbook paragraph.

"The Patronus charm is one of the most difficult and complicated defensive charms for a wizard to perform, and if performed to it's full potential, it creates a partially tangible force that acts a spirit guardian."

Danny perked up a bit at that. Spirit Guardian? They were learning how to create their own protectors?

"A guardian against demetors?" He called out.

"Yes. This is the only known magic that will protect you from dementors and lethifolds, but it's more likely for us to come across a dementor, as lethifolds are incredibly rare."

"What do you mean by 'full potential'?" Ginny asked.

"There are typically two forms a patronus can take." Hermione explained. "The first is an incorporeal patronus, which doesn't have a definite form. Still difficult to achieve, and won't fully repel a demetor, only keep it away temporarily, but much better to have at least an incorporeal patronus instead of no defense at all. The second form is a corporeal patronus-"

"Like the one Harry can do?" Came an excited voice from near the front, instantly making Harry avert his eyes and begin rubbing the back of his neck. Hermione shot Harry a quick smile before answering.

"Exactly like that, yes. Conjuring a corporeal patronus is an incredibly rare skill, very few ever achieve it. What's more, is that a corporeal patronus' form is unique to the caster, like a finger print; even identical twins will have different presenting patronus forms."

Danny caught Fred and George look incredulously at each other, and wondered if they'd ever had anything distinguish them definitively before.

"What determines the corporeal patronus form?" Ernie McMillan askes while jotting down everything Hermione had explained so far.

"A corporeal patronus takes the form of an animal, commonly non-magical but sometimes magical creatures can be produced as well. This is where it gets speculative though, so no one knows for sure what determines a persons patronus form, but it is thought to represent a deep, personal part of the caster that they themselves may not have been totally aware of."

Danny blinked. That sounded an awful lot like...

"But what if you're patronus' form is really small, like a... uh, mouse or fly or something?" Hannah Abbott asked.

"No matter what size or type of creature a patronus presents as, it will still be incredibly effective against dementors and will be a remarkable show of high level magic. No matter what form, any witch or wizard that can produce a patronus is revered and respected and known to be incredibly magically powerful."

There was a moment of silence as everyone mulled over Hermione's words, looks of determination and glimmers of pride shining within all of the DA members eyes. Harry waited a moment more for any more questions, and when none came he stepped up beside Hermione once more.

"Alright, now that we know what the patronus is we can get started learning how to make them." Determination morphed into anticipation and excitement as Harry continued.

"To perform the Patronus charm, the incantation is by far the simplest part; and it's Expecto Patronum. But for the charm to work you need to draw power from the very things that will be the hardest to access when facing a real dementor; happiness, hope… a desire to survive."

The atmosphere became fragile as Harry paused for a breath.

"A patronus projects all the positive feelings you cast it with, which both keeps the dementors from taking those feelings from you and leaving you with nothing but the negative, but also overwhelms the dementors enough that they have to retreat entirely or risk ceasing to exist. A negative being can't exist around pure positive feelings, after all." Harry said with a small smile.

"So, the trick to casting the Patronus charm, is to think of a happy memory, or imagine a scenario that would make for a happy memory if or when that scenario happens to you. It will take practice, so find your happy memories, draw those positive feelings out and make them the core of your patronus."

"Wow-" Danny whispered in awe. This didn't sound like an ordinary spell, and he was just as excited as all the others to see one of these corporeal patronuses.

"Before we get started, are there any more questions?" Harry asked the DA at large.

"Yeah! Can you teach all of the classes from now on? Like Potions?" Katie Bell said loudly, the Room bursting out into appreciative laughter in response, with several added cries of 'Yes please! I would learn so much more!' and 'I learn more in these few hours than I do all week!'.

Danny laughed with them as Harry tried and failed to hide his blush, the softy. Hermione smiled bright and proud as she patted Harry's shoulder and Ron ribbed him with a wide grin.

Once everyone had calmed down, Harry did receive a genuine question before they all got started.

"I'm sure I'm not the only one to have never seen a patronus up close, let alone a corporeal patronus. Mind demonstrating for us before we get started, so we have a general idea of what we're aiming for?" Draco asked, and Danny was glad to see that he wasn't the only one wanting to see an example of the magic the DA would be learning today.

It took a little convincing but eventually Harry agreed, to the entire DA's delight. They all got up from their cushions and lined the walls, leaving Harry in the middle to make sure that everyone could get a clear view. All eyes were on Harry as he drew his wand and closed his eyes for a moment, likely finding and holding his happy memory in his mind. Occlumency was likely coming in handy for this particular spell.

Then, all at once, Danny's breath was stolen from him as Harry cast the charm.

'Expecto Patronum!'

From the tip of Harry's wand burst an exceptional swirl of pearlescent light that coalesced and solidified into an enormous animal.

A proud stag with crowned head held high.

Danny stepped toward the creature made of swirling starlight, and felt his core hum happily as it was inundated with powerful waves of happiness, joy, pride, and something that was so deeply Harry that Danny was almost convinced that Harry had transformed himself like Sirius could.

The antlered head turned to him in curiosity and Danny hadn't realized how very large the creature was until it was right in front of him. His breath caught at the beauty of it. This… this was…

"-nny? Danny?" Oh, that was his name wasn't it? He turned slowly, reluctantly tearing his eyes from the stag to find Harry looking up at him. He saw Harry saying his name again, but everything seemed to be moving in slow motion, sounds reaching his brain through a cottony fog. Then, Harry put a had on his shoulder, and everything snapped back into sharp, fractal clarity.

"Danny? You with us?" Harry asked worriedly, hand still on his shoulder and slowly pulling him down to the ground. When had he... when had he transformed? Oh, Hermione, Ron and Draco were there too. They were all standing in the middle of the Room, the walls still lined with the DA who were watching with fascination.

"Danny?" Harry asked again.

"Yeah?"

"Oh thank goodness." Hermione sighed in relief.

"What happened, Danny? Why'd you transform? And why do you look like that?" Ron asked, as the low voices of incredulity began to pick up from the Room's other occupants.

"I don't kn- wait, look like what?" Now that Danny could think clearly again, he could easily push the intense emotions that the patronus was radiating in waves aside, so he could focus on looking to see what the heck Ron was talking about.

He nearly fell out of the air at what he found.

His ghost form did indeed look different. The white parts of his jumpsuit seemed to be made entirely of the same pearlescent, starry stuff that Harry's patronus was made of, brightly glowing and constantly shifting like smoke from a blown out candle. The black portions of his suit now seemed to be studded with stars, like the deep space he saw through a telescope on clear, cold nights. He could only imagine what his eyes or hair may look like now.

"What in the world?" He asked as he twisted and turned, trying to get a good look at himself. He stopped when there were snickers and muffled laughter at how ridiculous he probably looked.

"By your reaction, I'm going to assume you also don't know what's going on." Draco drawled, but his eyes still betrayed his wonder as he watched Danny's legs disappear into his misty tail as he floated back down to them once more.

"Well, it must have something to do with Harry's patronus." Hermione said thoughtfully.

"The patronus!" Danny exclaimed startling his friends. He quickly looked back to the beautiful magic, as it tilted it's antlered head, curious about all the attention. Danny could've kicked himself, he should've known that magic that created a spirit guardian that protected against soul eaters by projecting strong emotions would have some kind of effect on him. He groaned, hiding his face in his hands as he curled into a ball and twisted upside-down in midair.

"So it is my patronus, then?" Harry asked, more confused than worried.

"Well... I'm only guessing here, but I might be- I don't know the right word... resonating, I guess, with the literal ghost of your soul standing right over there. At least the positive parts that you drew power from." Danny said as he uncurled himself and flew around the stags head.

Looking back over to his friends, he found them all staring at him in astonishment.

"What?"

"What do you mean, 'ghost of my soul?'" Harry asked slowly.

"Well, that's one way I would describe what I'm feeling. It's not a true ghost, and hasn't been to the Infinite Realms or anything like that, but it's essentially a projection of the light side of your soul. I'm sorry I kind of lost myself for a bit there, but I just wasn't expecting the emotional energy to be that strong."

The entire Room fell silent for a moment, staring at either Danny or Harry's patronus in awe. Danny took the time to drift back down to ground, solidly planting his feet and fighting his core a bit to bring his transformation rings out. The pure positivity that the stag was still radiating made it difficult, since a part of his mind wanted to stay in ghost form, to absorb all that positive energy and just bask in the lightness of it. When he managed to transform he could still feel the warmth of the magic tingling on his skin, but it was dampened and less concentrated.

The beautiful stag also dimmed slightly, and after trotting silently up to Danny, turned it's head to Harry and dissipated into silvery mist that had Danny sighing with disappointment as the Room was plunged into a sudden darkness with the absence of the bright magic.

The silence was then shattered as the DA members lining the walls cheered and whooped and excitedly rushed forward, more than ready to begin after the magnificent display.

"Danny? Will you be alright if we get started?" Harry asked, as he quieted the group down with difficulty. Danny was about to nod yes, when he spotted both Draco and Seamus looking a little crestfallen that they won't be joining the others just yet.

"Yeah, I should be fine now that I know what to expect, but I'm not sure I'll be able to concentrate enough to effectively help Draco or Seamus out today. How about they join the others and we make this session a wholly magical one?"

At Draco's quick look of eagerness and Seamus' blatant excitement, it looked like the decision was already made.

Nearly an hour and a half later, Harry was walking through the practicing members, Danny flying beside him. He'd tried very hard to stay in his human form, but eventually just stopped fighting the instinct. The Room was aglow with bright and beautiful magic, and with all the positive energy saturating every corner of the space, the DA members had found that it was a perfect environment to draw on their happiest memories. Laughter rang and soft smiles were abundant as everyone delved into their past happy memories as they practiced the charm.

The silvery mist of incorporeal patronuses swirled and eddied around Danny as he flew through it to watch the few successfully formed corporeal charms meander and playfully roam through the DA members. Hermione's otter, and Ron's beagle were the first few successful attempts, followed closely by Luna's hare and Tracy's dolphin.

As the session continued, an owl, a horse, a bobcat, a raven, a butterfly and a swan joined the other corporeal spirit gaurdians, filling the Room with incredibly potent positive energy. Danny beamed as those who'd been successful encouraged those who were having a bit more trouble focusing their minds on a happy enough memory to produce a full patronus. Draco and Neville seemed to be having more trouble than most, but they were determined to succeed.

Even through the veritable solar storm of emotions, Danny could still pick out Harry's bursting pride while standing beside him and watching the controlled chaos of thirty or so teenagers perform magic that most fully trained adults couldn't hope to achieve.

He almost didn't notice the crack that sounded behind him and Harry.

He turned quickly to find a shaking house elf.

"Dobby?" Harry asked, having turned with Danny to find out what the noise was. "What are you doing here? What's wrong?"

"Harry Potter sir!" Dobby exclaimed shrilly, drawing attention from the rest of the DA. The Room dimmed slightly as some of the patronuses faded in the face if Dobby's obvious distress.

Something was very wrong.

"Dobby- Dobby! It's alright, just take a breath, alright? Alright, now, what's the matter?" Harry knelt next to Dobby and spoke softly, but he was clearly worried.

"Harry Potter sir! I know not how she found out- I know not! But she is coming! They is coming!" Dobby sobbed in desperation.

The Room held still for a shivering breath of silence, plunged into darkness as the last patronus faded. Harry turned and locked eyes with Danny, all panic and dread and sudden fear. Harry then shot to his feet, shattering the tense silence.

"Run!"

The DA made a mad dash for the door, faces pale and eyes wide in panic, but Danny took a quick breath washing away the last vestiges of positive energy muffling his senses. Now wasn't the time to panic.

"Wait!" He shouted, flying forwards towards the door. "Wait! Not that way!" He managed to phase through the panicking crowd and slam the door shut before it could be opened fully.

"Where do you expect us to go then?! We're trapped!" Came a frantic shout.

"This is the Room of Requirement! And we require a secret door out of here! Somewhere where it won't look weird to have a bunch of students nearby!" No sooner had the thought entered his mind and the words exited his mouth, an intricately carved door formed just to the right of the one Danny was holding closed.

Danny's dread was briefly overshadowed by relief that that had actually worked.

"Alright, everybody through!"

The DA scrambled to make it through the new door.

When about half of the group had made it through, Danny felt a sudden shudder and then a harsh wave of magic trying to force open the door he was still holding shut.

Angelina and Miranda were shepherding the last of the younger students through, leaving only Harry, Ron, and Draco along with himself left in the Room. The door gave another massive heave and he was nearly dislodged, until Harry and Hermione joined him in pushing the door closed with all their might. Ron ran and grabbed the parchment of all the DA members signatures that had been hung on the Foe Glass in the corner, the shadowy figure within the dusty surface beginning to come into focus.

"Hermione, Harry, get to the exit! I'll ice this door closed so we can get out of here!" Danny grunted, just as Ron made it to the secret exit. Hermione and Harry hesitated to leave him alone for only a moment before running to the exit as well.

Using his ghostly strength to keep the door shut from the magical onslaught outside, he pulled on his core and felt the familiar frigid energy swirling to the surface.

It was then that he felt his mind explode with pain as electricity arced off his skin, burning and biting and bursting the door open behind him. He was blasted into the Room, nerves on fire and his head snapping forwards as it was was slammed from behind. He fell into darkness before he hit the ground.


When the Room was blown apart, Ron threw himself in front of Hermione and Harry without thinking, grabbing them and dragging them down to avoid the worst of the blast. The door that Danny had been holding closed had blown open with a crack and fizzle of lightning, static still lingering in the air and making their hair stand on end.

His heart dropped as he saw the flash of Danny's transformation through the stone dust now filling the air and obscuring his vision. Hermione gasped and trained her eyes on where Danny had been thrown, and Harry still had his wand ready and his jaw set as he glared at what used to be the door.

There stood the toad, smugly standing behind a brood of five burly aurors, all of which were standing with their wands pointed through the hole they'd just blasted through the Room's door. He watched through the haze as Umbridge's wide smile faltered at the sight of the empty Room. Hermione gave a cursory glare at the flabbergasted ministry witch before rushing out to Danny's still form among the rubble.

"Where are they?! Where did they go?!"

Ron quickly locked eyes with Harry, and they both nodded before jumping up and closing the door to the secret passage Danny had opened to get the rest of the DA out. No need for the rest of the DA to get into trouble. As soon as the door was shut, it faded back into the wall, once again non-existent; he quickly shoved the list of the DA's members into his sock before they hurried to Hermione's side just as the dust settled enough for Umbridge to spot them.

"There they are! Get them! Don't let them escape!"

The adult aurors rushed forwards into the destroyed space, quickly grabbing them all and taking their wands. Ron grit his teeth as he was grabbed by the hands and held still, wanting nothing more than to take these thugs down the way Danny had taught them, but Hermione had grabbed both Harry and his robes to stop them just before all of them were grabbed, and he saw why when two of the aurors lifted Danny up with bruising grips on his arms, even though their friend's head hung limp and his feet dragged on the ground. Whether he was just knocked out from the blast or hurt from something else… they couldn't chance a brawl with full grown wizards.

That didn't mean they had to go down easily.

Harry kept stomping- hard- on the feet of the man dragging him through the halls, making them constantly stumble and trip; Hermione was jabbing her elbows into her guard's solar plexus with viscous accuracy and was rewarded with pained grunts for her efforts. He'd chosen to drop his entire body into a boneless slump, forcing the man holding him to carry his entire dead weight through the halls, meaning that he and his guard was trailing near the back of the pack near Danny and his two guards.

They were also far from quiet throughout the entire trek.

"You hag! You hurt Danny!"

"What have we done?!"

"You have no right to do this to us!"

"Let us go!"

"You incompetent, useless excuse of an adult!"

"Have to have ministry thugs standing behind you to take on four students?!"

"Pathetic!"

"Ugly, warty toa-"

"ENOUGH!" Umbridge screamed, face red and blotchy in her rage and embarrassment. They'd amassed a following of students crowding around and behind them now, who'd begun to shout insults of their own as they were forcibly taken towards where Harry had said Dumbledore's office was.

He'd hoped that the noise would at least wake Danny up, but their friend was still dead to the world as they stood before a stone griffin statute. The students around them still continued to shout and scream insults, he even saw a few members of the DA who had escaped, including Malfoy. He was worriedly looking at each of them in turn, eyes lingering on the unconscious Danny with horror and fear.

They were roughly shoved through a wooden door at the top of a rotating staircase, and Ron got his first look at the Headmaster's office. He probably would have been impressed by it all if he wasn't so worried about what the toad had in store for them. His fears mounted as he recognized the Minister for Magic standing smugly in front of Kingsley and another auror that his Dad had once introduced as Dawlish.

Dumbledore was there, standing serenely next to his desk, looking for all the world like he was watching clouds drift past his window. The Headmaster's only acknowledgment of their entrance and rough treatment was when his eyes sharpened at the sight of all of them being forced to the ground at wand point, and Danny being thrown unceremoniously to the ground right beside them.

Professor McGonagall was far less quiet in her disapproval.

"What-! What in the world is all this! Why have you marched these students in here as if they were criminals on a one way trip to Azkaban! And what have you done to Mr. Fenton?! You've injured a student!"

"Now, now Minerva, we have every right to have caution when dealing with blatant rule-breakers such as these." Umbridge puffed grandly, the image of superiority and power in the presence of the Minister.

As McGonagall sputtered in outrage, Dumbledore spoke calmly.

"Even so, Dolores, I would appreciate that the students be treated with respect." Dumbledore's tone was even, but there was a sharpness to it that had the aurors stiffening with unease, and slowly lowering their wands. "Now, what evidence do you have that could possibly justify this kind of treatment and an audience with the Minister and his assistant?"

Assistant? What-

"We were told that Professor Umbridge had been informed of illegal student activity, namely a banned training group, here at Hogwarts. The Senior Undersecretary to the Minister and High Inquisitor of Hogwarts specifically requested the Minister's presence for when the perpetrators had been apprehended." A very familiar voice cut in.

His head snapped around to find Percy, his older brother, standing just behind the Minister with a quill and parchment at the ready. Percy was determinedly looking anywhere but at him, and he felt shame and anger and sadness all at once at the sight.

"That's right, thank you Weasley. Now, Dolores, are these the students you know to be guilty of illegal activity? What have they been doing?" The Minister, Cornelius Fudge finally spoke up.

"Well, Minister, Potter and his friends and the half-breed Muggle were illegally training students to fight against the Ministry! Right under Dumbledore's nose! We may even have evidence that it was on Dumbledore's orders that these children were training to usurp the Ministry's power! Not to mention the muggle! Being shown all of the offensive and defensive magic at a wizards disposal so that it could be prepared to defend itself against it!"

"Muggle-? You mean this-" Fudge asked while pointing a slightly shaking finger at Danny's unconscious form, "Is the half-ghost hybrid? This creature was learning about our magic and how to defend itself against it?"

Ron bit back a snarl, as he shuffled closer to Danny, Harry and Hermione doing the same while sending scathing glares at the Minister and the aurors present, just daring them to try anything. Percy's eyebrows rose in shock at the display, but he quickly turned away.

"That is hardly a fair assumption, Minster! I have yet to see any evidence for these wild accusations! Students training to fight against the Ministry? What rubbish!" McGonagall scoffed loudly, drawing attention away from the students present. "Utter nonsense! You make us out to be raising child soldiers!"

Fudge began sputtering at the implication and Umbridge's expression dropped into something uglier than usual.

"Proof, you say? Well Minerva, what do you say to this? I had a student who was involved in this illegal training group come to me and explicitly tell me what Potter and his little friends were up to!"

Hermione gasped and Harry stiffened while his own heart jumped into his throat.

Someone had ratted them out.

The traitor was quickly revealed as the one of the older Ravenclaw girls from the DA, as Umbridge dragged her forward from some back corner of Dumbledore's office.

"Minster, this is Marietta Edgecombe; her mother works in the Department of Magical Transportation and has been doing a lovely job of monitoring the Floo network throughout Hogwarts for us." Umbridge preened as she gripped Marietta's arms firmly.

It was odd though, the Ravenclaw was shaking and struggling to get out of everyone's line of sight, trembling hands pulling the collar of her robes up over the bottom half of her face, her eyes streaming with anguished tears. As Umbridge jostled her to the forefront of the large group within Dumbldore's office, her hand slipped on her robe and revealed red, raised, painful looking boils forming the word 'SNEAK' across the girl's face.

She quickly cried out and frantically tried to hide her face once more as sobs wracked her frame. He shot a look at his friends and found Harry looking just as shocked as he was at the sight, but Hermione…

Hermione was glaring with a vindictive gleam in her eye that had a sliver of fear slip down his spine. He would rather face a forest full of giant spiders without a wand than make an enemy of Hermione Granger.

As Marietta began sobbing in earnest, her robes pulled up to hide her face once again, Umbridge was getting impatient and embarrassed in front of her precious Minister and the burly hired muscle they brought with them.

"I apologize Minister, once Miss Edgecombe came to me with concerns about the illegal activity she had been forced to participate in, her face had been badly transfigured with a curse, that I have yet to break, as soon as she admitted that the group existed at all! I'd had my suspicions of groups at Hogwarts being allowed to participate in non-Ministry sanctioned activities, which is why I passed Educational Decree Number twenty-four; which, if you'll remember, disbanded all student organizations, societies, teams, groups, and clubs." Umbridge said with all the puffed up importance she could muster, grabbing the Ravenclaw sneak by her upper arm in a bruising grip.

"Now my dear," Umbridge spoke with sickly sweet poison directed right at the trapped and sobbing student in her grip, "go on and tell the Minister what you told me. About Potter gathering students and forming a training group in some deluded fantasy of protecting themselves from what doesn't exist! About the secret meetings that have been taking place all year! And about the one that was planned for tonight!"

Marietta shook her head frantically and tried to back away, but Umbridge held her firmly in place.

"I'm sure the curse won't get any worse, dear. Now just tell the Minister-" When Marietta refused once again, Umbridge got so frustrated that she actually shook the girl by her shoulders.

"Delores!" Fudge looked scandalized and Delores quickly let Marietta go as Dumbledore, McGonagall and Kingsley stepped forward with hands twitching towards their wands.

"Oh, alright then! When Miss Edgecombe came to me and informed me of the meeting tonight, I immediately gathered my security detail and apprehended all the students at the meeting place!"

"All the students?" McGonagall said scathingly. "You've attacked four students who are known to be good friends and were most likely studying together. What true evidence do you have of an actual illegal activity taking place? What even makes you think there was anyone else there at all?"

"I agree Delores, there doesn't seem to much supporting your claim and rather aggressive actions against my students." Dumbledore said. Fudge had been glaring triumphantly at the Headmaster for much of this terrible situation, but now he seemed a bit unsteady, afraid he'd be made a fool of in front of everyone on account of his Undersecretary on a power trip.

"Miss Edgecombe said there were well over two dozen students involved, from all four houses no less! They must have known I was coming, or they were warned! Yes! They must have escaped before I made it to their meeting place!" Umbridge defended hotly, when suddenly her bulging eyes landed on them. He tensed and shifted closer to Harry, Hermione and the still unconscious Danny, glaring right back into the toad's searching gaze. "Who else was there!? What are their names!?"

"There wasn't anyone else there! We were studying together when you blew open the door!" Hermione said hotly.

"And it's not like we would tell you if there were after what you did to us and Danny!" Harry added.

"You're insane!" He spat, the list of the DA's members seemed to burn against the skin of his ankle.

"They're obviously lying! We should search them to make sure they aren't hiding anything!" Umbridge exclaimed, advancing on them threateningly.

"Now wait just a moment! That is completely uncalled for!" McGonagall cried, but Umbridge was already stalking towards them, her hired muscle stepping closer too, all with wands raised. Ron crowded closer to his friends, baring his teeth in a snarl. He glimpsed Percy make an aborted step forward, eyes wide with shock.

Amidst more protests from McGonagall that went completely ignored, Umbridge and her hired aurors raised their wands to search them. Harry and Hermione tensed beside him, arms raising and crouched on the balls of their feet, ready to make a fight of it if they needed to. On the brink of chaos erupting, the entire office froze as a groan sounded from the floor.

Danny shifted slowly, turning until he was on his elbows, struggling into consciousness.

"Danny!" Hermione breathed, but they didn't dare move. The atmosphere was charged and ready to blow and anything could set the frozen adults off.

"Ugh, what hit me… Where are we…?" Danny asked in a daze, as he looked up. He gasped at seeing half a dozen wands trained on him and shot up to his knees.

There was an immense gasp from Fudge, which shattered the atmosphere into frenzied panic.

"He's awake!"

"Stun it! Stop it, quickly!"

"Put it down! Don't let it attack-"

Red jets of light soared towards them, and they threw themselves to the side, just barely avoiding them, dragging Danny along with them. Chaos reigned as there were shouts and further spells cast. He grabbed Harry's and Hermione's hands instinctively as they both grabbed hold of Danny as they ducked and dodged what they could. Suddenly, they were all untouchable as the cool power of intangibility protected them from most of the onslaught.

Professor McGonagall protected them from the rest of the utter madness as she suddenly appeared before them, Marietta pulled close to her side. She threw up an impressive shield charm, and then turned to face them, expression hard.

"Come on! Quickly!"

They all obeyed automatically, following closely as they navigated through the mess of Ministry wizards in a panicked haze while Dumbledore valiantly tried to mitigate the damage, only for a shriek to sound and golden talons and fiery wings to land on two unlucky aurors making the whole mess even worse. Fudge was cowering behind Dawlish, as Kingsley valiantly tried to calm the situation to no avail. Umbridge was shouting and screeching in a confused rage, doing nothing of any use to anyone, while her brutish aurors blundered and shot off spells in every direction, thoroughly destroying the office.

Just before the students managed to rush through the door, half dragging Danny who was still dazed and confused, Ron glanced back into the whirlwind of fear induced magic to find Percy, cowering beside a bookshelf, beloved parchment and quill forgotten in the chaos.

His brother looked up at the last moment and met Ron's eyes. Ron resolutely turned back to his friends, leaving the adults to the mess of their own making, bitter betrayal on his tongue.


The resolution of the raid on the DA hadn't been a pretty one.

They'd escaped with McGonagall and fled to the Hospital Wing where Marietta, the sneak, was left with Madame Pomfrey to treat the aftereffects of the curse that had bound the DA to secrecy. Danny was given the diagnosis of a mild concussion and electrical burns. Since there wasn't anything to treat Danny with, Professor McGonagall escorted them quickly to the Gryffindor Common room where they were told stay and rest, no exceptions.

The following morning, Danny was all healed up (thanks to his enhanced healing), and her wand, along with Harry's and Ron's were returned to them by their Head of House with news that had them all dreading the coming days.

Dumbledore was accused of attacking the Minister without provocation and was sentenced on the spot to be sent to Azkaban as punishment. The current rumor, after it being weeks since the Headmaster's escape, was that Dumbledore escaped through the window, summoning a broom like Harry did in the first task of the tournament last year and flying away into the sunset.

Hermione snorted as she overheard two first year Gryffindors whispering about it in awe.

She might not have been there the witness Dumbledore's escape from over half a dozen fully trained aurors, the toad, the Minister and Percy, but she knew it couldn't have been that dramatic.

She sighed quietly as she thought over everything that had happened since that fateful DA meeting that had been so rudely interrupted.

As soon as Dumbledore had been removed as Headmaster, Umbridge was given the position for no other reason than she'd had a right tantrum when the position was about to rightly be given to the Deputy Headmistress, McGonagall. Once holding her deluded impression of absolute power over students, Umbridge had promptly gone after Danny like a niffler after gold.

The other professors, particularly McGonagall and Sinistra, had had none of that. The shouting match held just outside the firmly closed portrait to the Gryffindor common room could be heard all the way across the still thawing Black Lake.

Umbridge only just barely backed down after McGonagall cited some ancient case of Hogwarts protecting a student while within the school's walls, but not before the toad banned Danny from entering any classrooms or leaving Hogwarts proper, or he would be immediately detained. It had been a long night of fighting back vile thoughts and actions being taken against the toad as they tried to comfort and reassure Danny through a rough, sleepless, and panic filled night in the dorms.

It only got worse for the students of Hogwarts from there.

The quidditch season was immediately canceled, citing the danger and distraction from important studies. Hogsmeade visits were banned, as well as all other activities outside of the castle walls unless they were explicitly given permission by the new headmistress and never without being constantly monitored by the ever present Ministry appointed "protection."

Rules were rigid and fiercely upheld through harsh punishment. Every class was monitored, every corridor watched, every public space so systematically supervised that Hermione likened this to be more of a prison than a school. It was so bad that Harry hadn't been able to continue with Occlumency lessons with Snape, and had to make so with what he'd learned already. Which, thankfully, was enough for him to keep a lid on most of the dreams and outbursts from the soul shard.

Months passed within this torment, and unfortunately Danny and Harry took the brunt of the toad's vileness. Harry, for his growing support and for slipping past the Ministry's rules and protecting the rest of the DA from being found out, (he'd been called away to a private meeting with Umbridge and several of her thugs and had come out fuming and shaking but wouldn't say much about what they'd tried to get him to talk about... or how they'd tried to get him to talk); and then Danny, treated so horribly simply for existing within Umbridge's general vicinity.

Not allowed to join them in classes anymore, and often reluctant to go into any of the public spaces within the castle due to Umbridge and her aurors breathing down his neck and watching his every move with their wands gripped tightly; it was no small wonder that Danny rarely left the Common Room anymore.

That Umbridge knew of anyway.

It's honestly a little sad that after making such a enormous deal of Danny's status as half-ghost, the toad seems to have forgotten that Danny had ghost powers and was incredibly adept at using them secretly.

He snuck out invisibly all the time, flying through the castle towers at night to see the stars unimpeded, and often just 'happened' to be nearby during their Astronomy lessons on Wednesdays. If Professor Sinistra knew he was there, she never said anything.

Danny also snuck them out of the castle to visit Hagrid whenever they could find the time, seeing as how they were never able to talk to him during his classes anymore, constantly monitored as they were now that Umbridge had him on probation. One such visit, only two weeks ago now was when Hagrid had confided in them the origin of all his still constant injuries.

Hermione smacked her palm across her face at the memory of that visit. She loved Hagrid, in all his kind hearted glory; but bringing a full giant and forcing them to stay in the Forbidden Forest while simultaneously trying to teach them English? Even if Grawp was his half-brother, it was incredibly dangerous for both Hagrid and Grawp both, to be anywhere near England in it's current climate. She could only sigh and hope it didn't all blow up in their faces more than it already had.

"You alright, 'Mione?" Ron asked softly. She looked up at them all, her boys. They were all sitting together in a secluded corner, textbooks open and notes strewn everywhere. They were one of many small pockets of students still up and studying.

"Yes, just tired that's all."

"Aren't we all." He said, flopping over onto his side.

"I'm just holding onto the peaceful image of some form of freedom once exams are over." Harry said leaning back in his chair. "Maybe Snuffles will let me and Danny stay with them over the summer."

Danny huffed. "If I'm even allowed to leave over the summer. And jeez, these OWL exams seem brutal. Not just a written exam but a practical too? That's rough." Danny said. He was constantly fidgeting with his hands and shifting in his seat. She sent him a commiserating grimace. He had the look of a caged animal, being cooped up with them and all the other fifth and seventh years for the past few days, refusing to sneak out and insisting on helping them all study for their OWLs. Their exams began the very next day.

A swoop of dreaded panic at how close the exams were suddenly filled her gut, but she pushed it down with a slow exhale. They'd been studying for ages. More-so with all the horrible restrictions on what they were allowed to do with their free time these days. They were as ready as they possibly could be… but still. Seeing the proctors for the exams earlier that evening had done nothing for her test taking nerves.

She should probably head to bed soon if her mind was drifting so far while trying to fit in some last minute studying.

"Yes, all for our… future." She trailed off hesitantly.

Ron scoffed as he sat back up again, using Harry's shoulder as leverage.

"Why couldn't Fred and George have just… I don't know- Blown the toad up on their way out, eh?"

As Harry and Danny snorted with laughter, Hermione couldn't help but hide a grin behind her hand as she remembered what was likely the most daring and dangerous event of the Weasley twin's pranking careers.

While they weren't able to do much with exams right around the corner, she had no small amount of appreciation for the students and teachers of Hogwarts doing everything in their power to make Umbridge's stint as headmistress as challenging as possible, Fred and George leading the charge.

Fainting fancies made bringing a cushion with you to the toad's class commonplace, Puking Pastilles and Nosebleed Nougats were used so often that blood and vomit stains on robes became a fashion statement, as gross as that was. The ghosts of the castle were constantly 'accidentally' floating through Umbridge and her hired aurors, subjecting them to frequent frigid immersions that often allowed Danny to slip by unnoticed.

Peeves was in his element, and while sticking to Danny's advice and keeping the pranks safe for the living, he'd amped up the meanness when targeting the Ministry cronies and no one had done a thing to stop him. The DA members had taken to employing some of Danny's good teaching and subtly kicked, punched, elbowed, slapped, kneed and all other assorted physical assaults that couldn't be traced back to magic of any kind.

But Fred and George?

Well- nothing could compare.

Magically animated desks stampeded through the halls during classes. The suits of armor that lined the halls were charmed to leave their plinths and rattle behind Umbridge whenever she passed them and would not be released from their duty until she sang to them in a falsetto voice that made ears bleed. Impossibly large swamps and bogs appeared along several key corridors and could not be removed by Umbridge and her mediocre magic, the other professors resolutely refusing to help.

To top it all off, Fred and George made sure to make it definitively clear that they were behind their pranks, making sure that no one else could be blamed for it; but they were so careful that they never left enough actual evidence for Umbridge to use to justify their expulsion.

It was honestly, a beautiful show of ingenious magic and exceptional planning on the twin's part.

That is, until they got caught.

It had happened not two weeks ago. An unfortunate slip up that had been no fault but lady luck's that Umbridge just happened to be roving the very hall the twins had staged their latest prank. She'd been there to witness Fred and George release a veritable army of transfigured pillows and sheets that had been charmed to be softer and safe to absolutely pummel your friends with, (a fact that was not missed by students which had a school-wide pillow fight instantly commence which was so incredibly fun that even she and her fellow fifth and seventh years took a break from studying to join in.)

Umbridge, unfortunately, tracked the twins down eventually; fighting her way through the students who should have been in classes but were instead in the hall beating each other silly with cloth covered clouds of feathers. She'd cornered them, and the whole thing probably would have been much more dreadful and frightening if the twins hadn't looked so terribly pleased with themselves.

Surrounded on all sides by students and teachers alike, the twins had stood tall and proud, grins all teeth as the toad raged at them, spitting mad. Without acknowledging the toad or her advancing Ministry cronies, they'd turned around and announced to the gathered students.

"We hope everyone enjoyed our little prank today!"

"But! Since we've been 'caught red handed', as they say-"

"We've decided that continuing our education here will not benefit us in the slightest!"

"We'll be leaving now- but not to worry!"

"You can come by and see us at our new property at 93 Diagon Alley!"

"Under the name Weasley's Wizard Wheezes!"

"Anyone who promises to use our products on this hag for the betterment of everyone's Hogwarts experience will get half off!"

"Be seein' ya, lads!"

"Have another demonstration, on the house!"

"It's a banger!"

They danced and swerved through Umbridge and the aurors, putting DA practice to good use, ending up back to back and still grinning in front of the wide corridor windows. With a sharp flick of their wands the glass behind them shattered and the air was filled with light and color and cracks and pops and the delighted screams of students as they were treated to breathtaking magical fireworks.

They banged and fizzled and shrieked and changed a kaleidoscope of different colors, and were distracting enough that only she, Harry, Ron and Danny seemed to notice the two retreating figures on broomsticks making their way towards the school gate.

She sighed again with a small smile as she remembered the look on Umbridge's face when she tried to vanish one of the long lasting fireworks and it multiplying into a dozen more instead. What an incredible show of complex magic. Fred and George were far more intelligent than most gave them credit for.

She looked up as Ron talked through the differences between conjuring an object and transfiguring something into the same object, and the pros and cons of doing either form of magic, both Harry and Danny listening intently.

She tried to focus back on studying but her mind was taking her every which way and she just couldn't concentrate. Any studying she did now would be useless to her, so she bid her boys goodnight and tried to get at least a little sleep before the Transfiguration exams the next day.

.

.

.

All in all, she'd say the exams were going quite well. Disregarding the fact that several OWL and NEWT takers needing a calming draught from Madame Pomfrey, and the semi-frequent tears brought on by stress, she felt that she and her friends had done the very best they could despite the many inconsistencies and adventurous setbacks in their magical education the last five years.

She felt particularly confident in the written exam they'd taken an hour ago now, Defense Against the Dark Arts. By the looks of relief and calm on the rest of the DA's fifth years, they had felt confident in that exam as well. Now, having left Danny all by himself in the common room, they trekked through the castle to take the DADA practical. They lined up beside the rest of the fifth years from other houses, waving discretely to any DA members they could see and quietly waiting for their names to be called once a proctor was free.

She was one of the first to be called amongst her gathered friends, so she made her way into the Great Hall and stood before her exam proctor. She had to fight to keep a grin off her face as she noticed Umbrige standing off to the side, noticeably struggling to keep the glare off her face as she tried to make a good impression on the invited exam proctors.

She didn't need any clues as to why Umbridge was struggling; several DA members had already finished the practical, and Umbridge was sure to have noticed the gap between the abilities of those taught through the Ministry's approved methods, and those taught by Harry and Danny.

She performed all that was asked of her with ease, and was lucky enough to still be present when Harry came in and aced everything so seamlessly and gracefully that his proctor had apparently asked him to perform his Patronus charm.

As the brilliantly bright and beautiful stag patronus trotted around the gathered examinees, she had the great pleasure of seeing the toad's expression twist and deform into something far uglier than normal as she tried and failed to keep her true feelings in check.

Once the exam was over, they waved to their friends in Slytherin and Hufflepuff as they descended towards their common rooms, and then followed their fellow Gryffindors and the Ravenclaws towards their towers.

Danny met them the moment they clamored through the portrait hole.

"Guys! Welcome back! How'd it go?"

Ron laughed as they all sat around their studying table.

"This exam is probably the only one I know I did well in, Danny. Thanks to Harry of course. Merlin, can't imagine having to take that without any of your help mate, with only ever having actually learned something useful from Lupin and fake Moody." Ron said.

Harry hummed his agreement with a small smile of pride.

"And we'll ace the lest one as well, thanks to Danny."

"Me?"

"Yep." Ron said popping the 'p'. "With all your blabbering on about the stars and whatnot, the Astronomy OWL is sure to be a breeze."

Hermione laughed softly as Danny abashedly rubbed a hand over the back of his neck.

"Don't worry Danny, we're grateful to you and your love of the cosmos." She said.

"Mmmm. I just wish I could take the exam too."

"Why?" Ron asked incredulously.

"I'd like to take a test that I know I can do well on, for one. Second, Professor Sinistra is awesome and I want to prove to her that I learned a lot from her about the magical aspects of space."

"You could always watch us invisibly, you know. See if you know the answers and things." Harry said.

"Nah." Danny said shaking his head. "I don't want to risk distracting you guys, especially since it's your very last exam. I'll wait up for you though."

"Oh, you don't have to Danny. We'll be getting out of the exam at around two in the morning and-"

"Come on Hermione, I won't be able to sleep thinking of you guys getting to look through telescopes all night. It's supposed to be a really clear night tonight as well." Danny trailed off wistfully. "Anyway, I wont be alone. I'm going to go and visit Hagrid while you guys are taking your exam. I want to make sure he and his... little friend are doing all right, and visit the thestral herd if I've got time."

"Ah, that's alright then. Say 'hello' to him from us, alright?"

"Just make sure not to get caught. The look on the toad's face during the Defense exam when Harry cast his patronus... she'll be out for blood soon enough, just to feel like she's in control again."

"You were close enough to see her face? Oh, please Hermione, tell us everything and don't be skimpy with the details." Ron said gleefully, Harry chuckling softly beside him.

After a quick dinner and some last minute studying that she had insisted on, they bid Danny goodbye as he wished them them luck at quarter to midnight, so they could make their way to the top of the Astronomy tower. Just as the portrait hole was closing behind them, she glanced back in time to glimpse the bright flash of a transformation before Danny disappeared, no doubt already halfway to Hagrid's cabin.

She turned her thoughts back to the stars, and the wonder that Danny found in the expansive universe filled her with confidence for the coming exam. It was nice that their last OWL was one they felt good about.

She was also glad that Danny would wait up for them, for she felt that he, unlike Harry and Ron, would like to talk over the exam questions with her, after the fact. She smiled at the thought, as she followed Harry and Ron up the tower stairs.