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It was curious how all the woman did was put a quill before them and without ink as well. There didn't seem anythihg different about it, so maybe it was charmed in some way? The question was in what way. Her eyes were still on the quill until she heard Harry and looked over to him and also heard their professor. And then it was that it dawned on her what had been done. [b "This is completely barbaric and unethical."] The girl said, her eyes shooting to the woman.
[b i "The both of you need to learn to keep quiet and to bot spread lies. This is simply a way to remind you and have it sink in. What I do in my classroom is purely under my control. Now the both of you best write your lines and serve your detenions or I will be adding more."] Her smile never faded, but the gleam in those eyes was bright. It was scary even.
The girl looked to Harry and gave a weak smile. [b [i 'I'm sorry...']] She mouthed as she looked down. Slowly the girl picked up the quill and began to write. Each letter and word hurting more than the last. But she did not whimper or did not let her tears fall. Like she knew Harry wouldn't, Hermione would not give Umbridge the satisfaction as she continued to write her lines.
[i "I would follow Miss Granger's example Mister Potter. The sooner the lesson sinks in, the sooner you may leave."]
Harry hadn't noticed that he was still holding her hand, but it grabbed his attention quickly when she suddenly withdrew her own from his. It had been easy to continue holding it as they left the common room. [i Maybe too easy,] he thought to himself with a red face.
The atmosphere immediately grew more tense as Umbridge greeted them and instructed them to sit. Harry took a desk beside Hermione and did as they were told. When the quill was set in front of him, he eyed it warily. Perhaps it was simply charmed to prevent cheating. Though how they would cheat at writing lines was a mystery.
[b "Professor,"] Harry called as she walked away. [b "You haven't given us any ink to write with."]
Umbridge's smile got tighter. [i "You won't need any, Mr Potter."]
Harry's eyebrows furrowed as he glanced at Hermione. Picking up the quill, he hesitated before beginning the first set of lines. By the third word, his hand was burning, and it was then he noticed the words etching into his skin. [b "Are you mad?"] he snapped his eyes up to the professor, dropping the quill and rising from his seat.
Her smile never wavered. [i "Mr Potter, you are to serve your detention silently, or I will add another. This will ensure that the message sticks with you. That you must not tell lies."]
Harry looked to Hermione, angered that she was going to have to deal with the same punishment. He gave her a small shake of his head. [i No]. Umbridge cleared her throat. [i "Mr Potter, I will say it only once more. Write your lines, or I will see you for another detention."]
Hermione was rubbing her temples. So they found their reason for what was going on. But no hints or ways to stop it. It was dangerous with how it could and most likely play out. [b "They will get people killed and then blame those who knew he was back because they were too thick to listen."] She said quietly as she pushed the book she had been reading closed and back to the stack. Each book would most likely say the same and honestly her mood was dampened by it.
Slowly she took Harry's offered hand and her eyes went to Ron as he offered to keep reading. [b "It's okay. A break for you might be good since we do have a basic idea. Besides I can see the chess game is calling your name."] And with those being her last words the busshy haired girl walked with Harry out of the common room, the portrait swingining closed behind them.
[b "I can't imagine it would be that horrid.. But she makes me anxious. Especially with what we now know. So we need to be careful."] She found herself saying, a heat rising in her cheeks as she realized her hand was still in Harry's. And with that realization, the girl let go and her hand returned to her side.
When the two teens entered the office, Umbridge looked up at them with her smile. [i "Good evening children. Please take a seat and take out some parchment. I will be having the both of you writing lines for me. But you will be using some special quills of mine."] The woman said and set two quills on the desk and waited for Hermione and Harry to take their seats. [i "Mister Potter I want you writing 'I must not tell lies' and Miss Granger, I want you writing 'I will not question what I am being taught'."
It was clear that the Ministry was attempting to paint themselves as saints who know best. It would probably be similar in every book on the table. [b "Much of the same,"] Harry answered her question. [b "So far this one has talked about how the Ministry retains the right to intervene any wizarding institute, in the event that a threat of peace is recognized."]
Harry dropped the book open on his lap and rubbed at his eyes. [b "So essentially, if the Ministry feels their authority is under scrutiny, they can have a tantrum and block conflicting news sources from speaking out."]
Ron grimaced. [i "They can brainwash people by doing that."]
It wasn't the only thing they can do with that power. [b "They can endanger lives doing this,"] Harry added. [b "If people believe that Voldemort doesn't pose any real threat, then they leave themselves open for Death Eaters to attack. What the Ministry is doing is incredibly irresponsible."]
He glanced at the large grandfather clock in the corner of the room. [b "We'd best get to Umbridge's detention. Wouldn't want her to tack on another one,"] he rose from his seat and offered his hand to Hermione to pull her up.
[i "I'll read some more. You guys just focus on detention,"] Ron tried to sound helpful, but Harry caught him looking wistfully over to the chess game Seamus and Neville were starting up.
Once the portrait door closed behind them, Harry let out a deep breath. [b "I'm too tired to deal with her. How strict do you think she's going to be? I can't imagine it'll be worse than going into the Forbidden Forest when we were eleven."]
It had shocked Hermione that even Ron had agreed to help them in the reading. Usually their red haired friend would be moaning and groaning about the idea of reading. But his statement about Umbridge said that he understood how much problematic the woman may be. So all she did was give a small smile as Harry gathered the snacks onto the plate and they made their way up to the Gryffindor common room.
The three were able to find a comfortable corner and the room was prettt much empty with most their house going down to dinner. It would be easy enough ane quiet enough to get some reading down. Or it would be if they focused on what they were looking for. It was after Harry had grabbed the great leather bound volume did she take one like it and huddle up in an armchair with it, instantly burying her nose in the book. Her attention was no longer in Hogwarts but upon what she was reading.
Page after page seemed almost useless and lacking in what they were looking for. But when she heard Harry's question did her eyes find a little bit of something she found of interest. [b "The last time they sent out Ministry personnel like this was when Gellert Grindelwald was at large and they worried he would corrupt the minds of young witches and wizards. For a little while they were in each of the schools to try and keep watch. Reports were constantly being sent to the Minister and read to make sure that all was as it should be.."] The girl said quietly as she looked to Ron and Harry.
Ron looked a little unsettled as that had been said. [i "So you're saying that they think You Know Who will try to get into the school again?"] Ron questioned.
Hermione rolled her eyes. [b "No, Ron... I think that they don't trust Dumbledore and think that he will try and get into our heads. You know all the rubbish that has been printed about both Harry and Dumbledore."] The girl said pointedly. She then sighed and looked down. Already she was tired and in need of coffee, but didn't say it. [b "Did either of you find anything?"]
Harry shifted the books in his arms, glancing at the hall as it filled up. [b "It's probably our best bet. With detentions tonight, this will be our only chance to get started today."]
[i "I'll come help,"] Ron chimed in. [i "You're right. Something's off about that woman."]
Harry raised his eyebrows with a smirk. [b "You're going to willingly read?"]
Ron shrugged. [i "Just give me the shortest book,"] he joked.
The black-haired boy quickly piled some snacks on to a plate and handed the books to Ron to carry. [b "We're going to need food before we go to Umbridge's class,"] he justified.
Back in the Gryffindor common room, they were fairly left alone with the majority of the students flooding to the Great Hall for dinner. Harry grabbed a thick leather-bound volume and dove in. It was mind-numbing and tedious, but if it gave them any clue as to what the Ministry could and couldn't get away with, it would be worth it.
Harry munched on a cookie as he turned the page, blinking away the sleep that was building up. He'd need a coffee before detention. [b "Any luck with you guys?"] he glanced up to look at Ron and Hermione over his glasses.
Brown eyes grew icy when the pink gargoyle had walked past them. Just a feeling of tension eminated around the woman. An off and odf feeling that was hardly given by others, but it was enough to once more put the bushy haired brunette on her guard again. Something just didn't sit right, especially with what they had heard about Umbridge and her seeming to evaulute the Herbology professor.
Quickly she shook her head and her attention was back on the boys as she followed after them. [b "I'm guessing we we're not. All the professors seemed off... And with Umbridge being a Ministry spy.. well she will be watching all of us like hawks. I think we should do what we had planned and soon, Harry."] Her words were quick and quiet as if she was afraid that they might be overheard.
As soon as they entered the Great Hall again, Hermione looked to the other two. [b "We have a free period... do you think maybe looking into the books now would be a good idea?"] The look she gave was pointed, especially after Umbridge's visit to the greenhouse.
Harry merely grinned back at her and shrugged. [b "Worth it,"] is all he replied.
He barely spared Professor Sprout a glance as she dismissed them. He pulled off the thick leather work gloves and held his hand out to collect Ron and Hermione's as well. He threw them back in to the bin and quickly cleaned his station to get out of the greenhouse as fast as possible. With the sun beating down through the glass walls, it was beginning to get stifling.
They hadn't made it five feet from the greenhouse when they spotted the pink nightmare walking towards them. [i "Children,"] Umbridge greeted.
Harry bit back a response as she sauntered past them into the greenhouse. [b "What do you think she wants with Sprout?"] he looked to his friends.
[i "Beats me. But I know I don't want to stick around to find out,"] Ron answered, turning back towards the castle.
Harry hesitated, not sure Sprout should be left alone with the Ministry spy. He only relented after Ron called for him to follow. [b "I feel like we're not the only ones who need to be on alert."]
As much as she would have loved to cause Malfoy grievances for the way he behaved, even she knew better. Asking the twins could have been safe as far as getting the "foul, loathsome, evil, cockroach" back it was still risky. No doubt all of them had a reputation with the Ministry already and would already be on Umbridge's list. But aside from that, the girl was sure they couldn't quite blame Draco for the way he was. She was willing to still give the blonde annoyance a chance and knew that it was best to keep Harry and Ron out of trouble.
And so the girl gave both of them a look, which told them to stop and to behave. [b "It's only Malfoy. We all know his bark is typically bigger than his bite. The power will go to his head and he is only doing all of this to get attention. If we can ignore him, then he will get bored and find someone else to bother."] Hermione was not at all sure of her words. After all, Malfoy had been a thorn in their side since their first year when they all got detention in the Forbidden Forest and had found out about the stone that had been hidden in the school.
Ron seemed more appeased by Harry and had given her a raised eyebrow. But the boy shook it off and got back to work. Both Harry and Hermione had a point as it was.
The girl's hand did go to Harry's for a second and gave a small squeeze. [b "Thanks for that..but we both know Malfoy is the least of my worries. I don't need you doing anything to get yourself into trouble."] She whispered and went back to working on the plants.
Professor Sprout came around and examined everyone's plants and made sure they had collected what was on the lists she had given each group. [i "Very good everyone. That's all we are doing for this class peroid. And as that is the case I want you all to have the first couple chapters read before next class. You can go as soon as you finish cleaning up your work tables and return your gloves."] The woman said, still seeming to be on edge.
Ron grimaced, recalling the blonde's smug rant an hour ago. [i "Just kept going on about how he was going to crack down on Gryffindors to 'knock them down a peg,'"] he gestured with quotations. [i "From the sounds of it, he's watching our every move to see what he can call us on."]
Fantastic. As if they didn't already have to watch out for Umbridge and Snape, now they could add the greasy haired weasel to their list. [b "We should have left him as a ferret,"] Harry grumbled, wondering how much he could bribe Moody to make a guest appearance.
[i "Maybe Fred and George could whip something up to get back at him, just in case he does decide to let the power go to his head. Which, you know, we already guarantee he will,"] Ron suggested.
[b "It's not the worst idea,"] Harry acknowledged, thinking of the trouble the twins could cook up.
Was it childish? Probably. Did he want to cause Malfoy some embarrassment for the headaches he'd given them over the last five years? Of course. But, one look from Hermione made him think twice. [i Right], he thought. [i Supposed to behave.]
[b "Let's just see if he actually does anything. He's probably just all talk, trying to impress girls. If he abuses his power, he'll lose his badge,"] he compromised.
Ron appeared to agree, and went back to work. [b "Let me know if he causes you trouble though,"] Harry murmured to Hermione. [b "I'll drop him in the Black Lake,"] he was only half-joking.
[b "We won't be that lucky. You heard what she was making us read in class and saw how she was trying not to full on let us have it when she told us to stop with all the nonesense. It's just a matter of what she could make us do and will. Honestly she scares me too with that expression of hers. It's like behind that calm there is an evil waiting to come out..."] Hermione said quietly as she couldn't help answering both Harry's and Ron's words. And she meant all of what she had said, though she didn't know why she felt the way she did. It was odd to say the least as not even Snape gave her that feeling and he had been their strickest professor and scared most students.
Her eyes went to Professor Sprout for a moment. And she could not help wondering if the woman knew who or what they were talking about. If she did, the woman gave no indications and didn't try to stop them either. In fact, she seemed VERY on edge like she was expecting the worst possible thing to come bursting in. It was strange. VERY strange and made the girl even more sure of Umbridge and the power she held over the head of their Professors and the school.
The girl eeped and tossed the root back at Harry. [b "I'm not the one to worry about. Draco would be. He is already becoming a nuisance with his power."] The girl said with a sigh and then looked to Ron. [b "How much worse is it, Ron? And if he tries to take points from any of us we can doc him as well."] And for an instant her protective part of her nature was showing. She would do it too.
Detentions and research. Quite the combination for the first day of school. [b "I don't know which one I'm less looking forward to. On one hand, Snape is a nightmare to begin with. On the other, I know what to expect with his detentions. We're going in blind with Umbridge."]
[i "She's probably going to make you paint her entire classroom pink. Either that, or make you read those Ministry law books. Either way, I don't envy you two,"] Ron chimed in.
[b "Something tells me she's not going to let us off that easy. I don't trust her. She always looks like she's plotting something with that blank stare of hers,"] Harry noted.
If Sprout overheard them discussing the new professor, she didn't tell them to stop. Truth be told, she looked on edge. Every few moments, she would glance at the door of the greenhouse as though expecting someone to burst in at any moment.
[b "You'll have patrol right after your detention, then. Try not to dock me points for being in the corridors after my detention with Snape finishes,"] Harry teased Hermione, tossing a scrap of root at her.
[i "I'm sure Malfoy would jump on the chance to take house points from any of us. Should have heard him during lunch. His ego's gotten even bigger, if that's possible,"] Ron said.
The girl gave a slight pout as she had expected they would beed their books. But she quickly put the book away and put her bag next to Harry's and Ron's. The two boys looked a little irritable from what she could tell as she put her work gloves on as well, offering a small smile to Harry as he gave the exaggerated praying hands. Honestly between Snape and Umbridge they had a rather harsh morning and first day back, so even she was grateful for it.
As she cut leaves and gently pulled some of the roots the girl nodded. [b "Getting two of the books started is a good way to go. And I think I found something in one of them...Hopefully we can manage before my patrol and our detentions."] The words were quiet and a little bit whined. She would have never expected that the both of them would have gotten into so much trouble. Well at least not so soon.
[i "You're the boss. And I do need the practice. Maybe I can take Fred and George with me."] The red haired boy seemed almost appeased from what had been said and the kick. Though he still didn't get what seemed to have gotten into both Harry and Hermione.
Ron's words irked Harry and the dark haired boy gave their friend a pointed stare. [b "Reading won't kill you. Besides, we've let Hermione take most of the work long enough. We need to start helping. If you don't want to, then fine, but I'm going to spend my free time going over those books with her whether you like it or not."]
Sure, it was probably a little too harsh, but Hermione already got snarky remarks from Malfoy. She didn't need it from one of her friends, either. Ron flushed red and turned his attention to putting his work gloves on. Harry fought the urge to roll his eyes and took a breath to calm himself.
[i "I'm taking pity on you all, so it'll be an easy class for your first day. We'll be preparing ingredients to stock Professor Snape's potions class. Get your pruning shears and get started,"] Professor Sprout entered the greenhouse, looking just as excited to be there as the rest of them.
Harry caught Hermione's eye over the table and mouthed, 'thank god' with an exaggerated prayer gesture. He set to work trimming off leaves and stems from the potted plants lining the middle of the table. [b "We can start two of those books before your patrol tonight, to get a head start on the research,"] he spoke to Hermione, glancing up over his glasses.
Ron grumbled beside him and Harry aimed a kick at his shin. [i "What the bloody hell was that for?"] Ron growled.
[i "Language, Mr Weasley,"] Sprout glared his way.
[b "Since we don't need you moping around while we work, you may as well go down to the Quidditch field and practice for the tryouts,"] Harry responded to him, seemingly appeasing the Weasley boy.
The girl held her stack of books against her chest, again her cheeks flushing from his words. Honestly she wished she would have known that before because she had spent many lonely hours in the library in their earlier years. [b "You're company would have been nice. And I could have helped you with assignments had you needed it. Ron on the otherhand would have been distracting. He just always complains over the reading or the assignment before he's even looked at it. He bases it on who gave it and not what we're asked to do."] The girl said quietly. Even to her it sounded like she had been complaining when she had done. [b "I'm sorry...I know I shouldn't be saying this or complaining."] Hermione quickly added as an after thought.
When the two walked into Herbology, Hermione smirked at Ron who gave Harry a wide-eyed look when told he would have to look into the books with them. [b "You knew you would get dragged into this too, Ron. Don't look so heartbroken."] The girl said as she took the books from Harry and put them and her own in her bag and getting out her herbology book and partchment for notes.
[i "Bloody girl is already trying to kill us with extra reading. What does she expect we'll find in those books anyway?"] Ron asked as he motioned to Hermione's bag and was still giving Harry one of his sour looks. The boy had been thinking he and Harry could leave the reading to Hermione as it was more her thing anyway.
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