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Harry had his head in his hands when he felt her take the seat next to him. He muttered a quick, "Thanks" for her offer, leaning back to offer a pained smile.
Picking up his quill, he halfheartedly started copying her work. Flitwick droned on in the background, but Harry couldn't focus on anything other than what had gone on in Dumbledore's office.
[b "Things are much worse than we thought,"] he answered her question quietly.
He glanced around to make sure that they wouldn't be overheard. [b "I used the cloak and snuck in to Dumbledore's office. Umbridge was there, going on and on about the staff and students being insubordinate to Ministry regulations. She was threatening him to fall in line with what Fudge has ordered."]
Harry's face took on a look of concern. [b "It won't take long for Voldemort to figure out that the Ministry is trying to hush Hogwarts up. Once he knows what's going on, who's stopping him or the Death Eaters from staging an attack?"]
Hermione sat with her eyes on the parchment on the desk in front of her. The girl was writing the notes as they were spoken, but her mind truly was not on the class or the lecture. Her mind was on Harry and how late to the class he seemed to be. Every few moments her head would pop up and her eyes would dart to the door just to see if he was coming. It was getting later and later and the girl nearly asked Professor Flitwick if she could go to the bathroom. Of course that wasn't what she had in mind. If he did allow it, the girl would try to find her vest friend.
But that plan no longer became necessarry as Harry finally came walking in. And from what she could see he looked rather deflated and defeated as well. Slowly, the girl slipped out of her usual seat and moved to the empty seat beside Harry in the back. [b "He's not going to go over much more...this spell is really simple and I can show you tonight...Harry, what's happened?"] Hermione whispered as she pushed her notes to him so he could copy them as Flitwick got off topic on the summer since only ten minutes of class remained.
It took everything in him to keep quiet while listening to Umbridge's threats. Dumbledore seemed unfazed, as always. Harry, on the other hand, was ready to drop the cloak and curse the pink nightmare into the next century. She held herself in such high authority that she couldn't see past the Ministry's lies.
[i "Don't think I won't be writing to Minister Fudge about this, Professor. Insubordination will not be tolerated,"] she snipped once more before storming out.
It was a good moment before Albus cleared his throat. [i "You're lucky that she is not as observant as I am, Harry. You can come out now."]
Harry couldn't even bring himself to be embarrassed about being caught. [b "Professor, she can't do this. She's washed the entire class of any Defense skills, and is teaching Ministry law. How are we supposed to prepare for Voldemort if our own government is denying his return?"]
[i "Cornelius has never been known to be an easy man to deal with. His position of power leaves him in a difficult place, I'm afraid. I'm not condoning his actions or statements, but he has an entire wizarding world hanging on his every word, and I'm choosing to think that he is doing his best to avoid a national panic. That being said, his actions have been foolish as of late and sending Dolores to Hogwarts is not a wise one. Policing an educational institute is not something that my staff and I will take sitting down. Just because we are not fighting back visually does not mean we aren't taking every precaution against this government invasion."]
[b "By not doing anything about her, we may as well be saying that we're not going to defend ourselves. If Voldemort hears that the Ministry is interfering, it's only more ammunition he has against us. He'll know we're ill-prepared for an attack,"] Harry argued.
Dumbledore raised a hand. [i "I'm on your side, Harry. Believe me when I say that I am not taking her threats likely. We are watching her just as much as she's watching us. Now, I believe you are supposed to be in class. I suggest you get there before another detention falls your way."]
Wanting to continue the fight, but knowing better, Harry tucked the cloak away in his bag. He grumbled to himself the entire way to class, barely muttering an apology to Professor Flitwick as he slumped in a seat at the back, his regular spot having been taken by Neville.
Her hand had stayed in Harry's until he had let it go. Even she had noticed that he seemed off and like any small thing would or could set the boy off. And it worried her because she knew that was not how he was. Malfoy may have been a snide little prat, but even he wasn't worth the rising temper. But she had to quickly reign her thoughts in as the "Ferret" and his cronies were gone. Even she visibily relaxed when he was.
[i "He sure is, mate. But I've never seen you get like that over him before. Are you sure you're okay?"] Ron asked as he looked between Harry, his brothers and lastly Hermione.
[b "He's been purposely flaunting his newly found position again. And had threatened to turn the four of us into Umbridge all because we were just talking."] The bushy haires girl said huffily. She was trying to get Ron's attention off Harry and make it seem that his actions had been justified. Though later when they had a moment alone she would be asking.
When Harry said he would catch up with them, the girl bit her lip. She knew that he would but she didn't want to quite let him go off on his own. [b "Erm, yeah we'll see you in class."] The girl said, watching as he walked off.
For a few moments she watched after Harry and then went off with Ron to class. Only did she hope their friend would not find himself in trouble again before he rejoined them.
Harry wasn't sure what the hell was wrong with him as he felt his temper rise. It seemed like everything was setting him off lately, no matter how small. He'd learned long ago that Malfoy was just a pest looking for trouble. He shouldn't be rising to the bait. So when Hermione's hand slid in to his, he used it to ground himself.
The twins rose to their feet and crossed their arms as Malfoy backed away, only releasing their tension when the blonde parasite was around the corner and out of their hair. [i "He gets more unbearable every year, doesn't he?"] Fred huffed.
[i "All that grease is going to his head,"] George answered.
It took Harry a moment before realizing that Ron had joined them and was looking for an answer to his question. [b "Yeah, we're fine. You know how Malfoy is. Always causing trouble for us."]
He released Hermione's hand and patted his pocket to make sure the spying orb was secure. [b "You guys go on ahead. I have to check on something. I'll catch up with you in class, yeah?"]
The orb would have to be tucked away in his trunk until they could safely sneak out that night. Harry wasn't exactly comfortable keeping it hidden in his cloak all day. In the privacy of the boys' dorms, he dropped to his knees and opened his trunk, rifling through the contents.
When his hand brushed against the Marauder's Map, he pulled it free and opened it. [b "I solemnly swear that I am up to no good,"] he quickly tapped the parchment.
It didn't take long to locate Umbridge's feet pacing rapidly in Dumbledore's office. Grabbing his cloak, Harry hurried from Gryffindor Tower. A quick run and a whisper of 'Caramel Toffee', and he was standing outside of Dumbledore's office. As quietly as he could while keeping himself hidden under his cloak, he eased the door open and stepped inside.
Umbridge turned abruptly at the sound. [i "What exactly was that?"] her lips pursed as she looked to Albus for an explanation.
[i "It's an old castle, Professor. Drafts and such,"] he remained as calm as ever, passively waving his hand to shut the door again. [i "Please continue."]
[i "I don't think you're taking this situation as seriously as you need to, Professor Dumbledore. Your staff are directly disrespecting Ministry demands. If you do not get them under control, I will be forced to take matters into my own hands,"] Dolores stood as tall as her short stature would allow.
Brown eyes weren't on Harry or Malfoy for the moment but on the corner Malfoy had come around. For the briefest she had seen a glimpse of the two goons that usually flanked the blonde before them. [b "Clever to pick a fight now. You're clearly wanting one and then going to tell Professor Umbridge how we just attacked you."] The girl said.
Her hand did grip Harry's as a warning to keep calm. The last he needed was another detention. [b "And last I checked, Draco we were allowed to speak with whoever we like. Fred and George were just telling us their new plans for Quidditch this term. And then you have to get snarky, thinking everything is suspicious. It seems being a Prefect has gotten to your already swelled head."]
Draco flushed at the girl's words. She was right but curse the little mudblood for pointing it out. [i "You'll pay for that Granger. And Professor Umbridge will be hearing of this."] He said as he looked at the four of them. He was about to say something more but decided against it as Ron came to join them, glaring at Malfoy as well.
[i "You guys okay?"]
Harry took the orb from the twins, and examined it in his hands. It looked like a simple glass ball that Trelawney would use in her Divination classes. [b "We can probably hide it in her office and she wouldn't notice it. She has enough trinkets on her desk, I'm sure there'll be more we can stick it behind,"] he rolled it in his hands.
He was running through a list of potential spies for them when the platinum slimeball cleared his throat behind them. [i "What do we have here? Two Weasleys, a Mudblood, and the pathetic orphan himself. Is this the Gryffindor's loser club?"] he taunted.
Harry slid the orb into his robes pocket and rose to his feet. [b "No, it's actually three of the seven Quidditch players who've beat Slytherin for the past five years, and Hogwarts' smartest student. Feeling a little inferior there, ferret?"]
[i "Just keeping an eye out for Professor Umbridge, Potter. Little suspicious to find you in the company of the school's resident troublemakers. Especially after your detention. I'm wondering if I should be taking notes to report back with. Maybe another few detentions will do you some good,"] Draco wasn't phased, so Harry was sure that Crabbe and Goyle must be waiting nearby to jump in for a fight.
The girl's cheeks lit up a dark red when the twins motioned to their hands and smirked. She couldn't help looking away as she needed the moment to regain herself. She knew they were jokers and liked to tease, but why did they have to about them? They knew that the pair were close. But she had to push those thoughts away as they only sereved to make her more flustered and she could not afford for that to be the case. Eapecially with Imbridge and their need to find out more about the pink devil.
At Harry's words, the twins perked up. [i "We knew that you would want to, Harry. But for her to want to as well is interesting. Seems you and Ron are terrible influences on Hermione."] Fred teased as Hermione moved over and knelt beside Harry and looked up at him and George.
[i "We can give you this orb for starters. It helps to keep watch on whoever you want. We can also get you more of the extendable ears to listen when you want to sneak out."] They said slowly.
[b "Is that all...? Or have you other ways to help..?"] Hermione asked and looked up at Harry to see what he was thinking about their help so far. [b "We'll need you to convince whoever you can to act as spies during classes too...but be careful not to get her detentions..they are harsh."] She whispered and cursed when Malfoy seemed to be the one to catch the four of them just sitting there.
Harry glanced at his watch and muttered a curse. [b "He's right, we're going to be late unless we do this right now. We'll see you after rounds!"] he grabbed Hermione's hand and bid Ron farewell.
He could feel prying eyes of other students and was intently aware of the fact that he was holding her hand quite firmly. Rumors were definitely going to come of it, but with the urgency of the situation, Harry couldn't bring himself to care very much.
[b "Did you ever think in your wildest dreams that we'd willingly go to the twins for help with anything?"] he glanced over at his closest friend with a slight grin.
To be perfectly honest, there wasn't much that Harry would rely on the twins for other than pure entertainment and loyalty. Advice would likely get him into danger, and their school knowledge was at best mediocre. Still, at that moment he couldn't think of anyone else he'd rather go to for help.
When they finally track them down, Harry isn't exactly surprised that they're huddled over a piece of parchment and arguing quietly among themselves over which ingredients would be appropriate. [b "Guys,"] Harry came to a stop in front of them.
As always, they looked up at the same time with a mischievous grin. [i "Well well well, what's this we have here?"] Fred taunted, gesturing with the quill to their hands still clutched together.
Harry sputtered and let go, crossing his arms over his chest. [b "We're not here for jokes. We're here for help."] He glanced around before kneeling a few steps below where the twins were sitting. [b "We need to spy on Umbridge."]
The girl's eyes had been on the floor. She could not believe the way the year was shaping up and it was only their second day. Everyone seemed to be against the other and they had a pink beast running about. Could the year get any worse? And as that thought crossed her mind, the girl jumped faintly as that was when he hand had gently been gripped by Harry to get her attention.
It took her a second to take in everything and piece together what had been said. Usually she was not about breaking the rules, but again the situation seemed to call for it. With a timid smile she nodded, cheeks faintly dusted in a brighter pink than normal as Harry's hand still had hers in it.
[b "Yeah, that sounds like a good plan. It doesn't seem like we have the choice and knowing will help us stay ahead of her. I can't believe how this year is already starting out."] The girl said quietly.
Ron coughed faintly and was looking at their hands. But his attention was soon on them fully. [i "If you don't want to be late to class and still want to talk to Fred and George the time to do that would be now."] Their redhaired friend said with a pointed look.
Harry watched Umbridge go in one direction, and McGonnagal in the other. In the five years they'd been at the school, he'd never seen their head of house look so agitated, including when Malfoy had been transformed into a ferret the previous year. [b "I think we're going to need the twins' help with this one."]
Turning to his friends, he saw Ron's eyebrow raised. [b "Think about it! They have those gadgets they've been working on. The spy ears, and all that. If we can plant something in her office to keep tabs on her plans, we may be able to have the upper hand against her."]
Ron scratched at the back of his head. [i "I mean, I guess you've got a good point. Wouldn't hurt to know what the beast has up her sleeve. The less advantage she has, the better prepared we'll be."]
Harry looked to Hermione and reached for her hand to get her attention. [b "What do you think? You and I can talk to the twins while Ron does his rounds. Then the two of you can keep a look out while I sneak into her office to hide the stuff after dark. I'll use my cloak. Does it sound like a plan?"]
Hermione poked her head around the corner to watch their head of house and the pink gargoyle as the two were in the center of the hall. She couldn't help the sinking feeling in her stomach as each word left Umbridge's lips. Just that twinkle in the woman's eyes as she spoke and her never wavering confidence was enough to shake anyone. Or nearly anyone, but to her surprise McGonagall did not back down.
[i "So Cornelius is aware that you torture students with midieval methods and has approved them?"] The head of Gryffindor shot at the woman in pink before her. She was still angered by what she had been told and now more than ever saw one Dolores Jane Umbridge a threat to her students and her fellow collegues.
Umbridge simply gave her sweet as candy smile and gave a shrug. [i "I can assure you he knows how I do my discipline and has given me free reign to do as I see fit."] She said and then looked to the students who had gathered in the hall to watch them. Slowly the woman in pink stepped back onto the steps behind her. [i "Things here are Hogwarts are much worse than I had originally thought and Ministry action will be taken immediately."] With that, the woman turned and made her leave, leaving a shocked McGonagall and students in her wake.
Hermione groaned as she turned back around the corner and looked to both Harry and Ron. [b "This year just got worse. We have to find out what she is up to. From her words and how scared the professors seem aside from McGonagall it can't be good."] The bushy haired brunette said, quietly with determination.
[b "Think of it as broadening your horizons,"] he smiled at her.
Ron nodded. [i "We both attempted reading for fun last year, just because you asked. It didn't last long, but at least we tried it! You can't say 'no' to these faces can you?"]
Both boys began pouting at her, but she was looking past them to the teachers. Harry's smile vanished and he turned to follow her gaze. [b "This won't be good,"] he got to his feet with her, scrambling with Ron to keep pace with their friend.
Harry caught sight of McGonnagal and Umbridge up ahead and reached forward to grab Hermione's cloak and pull her with them around the corner to stay out of sight. [b "Just listen,"] he murmured in her ear.
If there was anything to say about Minerva McGonnagal, it's that she was not known to be quiet when angered. [i "I don't know who you think you are, or what kind of corporal punishment you think you can inflict on my students, but I assure you that it will not be tolerated. I have heard several concerns about your wicked idea of detention. You will cease this at once,"] Minerva stood taller than the pink woman, and held her head high.
Umbridge's smile didn't once waver. [i "And I assure you, Minerva, that my methods are Ministry approved. It is quite clear what my job is here, and I am to complete my job by any means necessary. Tell me, would you be this upset if it were a Ravenclaw or Slytherin student who were on the receiving end of my detention? Or are you upset that I have disciplined two of your own?"]
[i "She's mental,"] Ron muttered to Harry.
Minerva looked ready to spit fire. [i "My duty is to protect these students. All of them. Against anyone I deem a threat. You, ma'am, are a threat."]
Umbridge clicked her tongue. [i "I am not the villain here. I am merely trying to restore order to this school. And if you feel that you can interfere with my goal, then I will have to include that in my report back to Minister Fudge."]
Brown eyes were on the table and the plate that Harry had put food on for her. The girl had just realized the seriousness of what was to come. If they were right about Umbridge she still had more power than McGongall and she almost felt they sent their head of house into a den of lions. Her mind was racing and her stomach was in knots over her thoughts.
But she was called out of her thoughts when she felt the gentle nudge. It actually made her jump slightly and let out a squeak as she had been so far lost to her mind. With the snicker from Ron, Hermione shot the boy one of her death glares. She then looked to Harry, slightly plae. [b "You're really trying to kill me, aren't you?"] The girl asked, thinking of her fear of flying when it came to anyhing nonmuggle related.
She was about to try and wiggle out of Quidditch, but then froze when she heard the clatter of plates up at the teacher's table. It seemed that their head of house had found her victim and was like a lioness hunting her prey. The woman said something that could not be heard but the bushy haired girl took as being "Dolores a word?" Because the pink nightmare was soon on her feet and following Professor McGonagall. Hermione was soon on her feet. [b "I have the feeling this won't end well."] She whispered to Harry and Ron before she made her way after their two professors more than anxious to see what would happen.
Harry was in stunned silence as they left the room. He'd never been afraid of McGonnagal before. Sure, he respected her position of authority and toed the line, but he'd never feared that she would hurt someone. Then again, Umbridge deserved whatever storm was heading her way.
His brow furrowed. [b "To be perfectly honest, I think we're going to be in much bigger trouble once Umbridge figures out it was us who told McGonnagal what happened. We're the only two who had these,"] he held out his hand. [b "It won't take her long to figure out who the informants are."]
He tried to put on a brave face. [b "At least with our head of house knowing what's going on, McGonnagal will be on the lookout for anything out of the ordinary happening with Umbridge."]
Ron must have been waiting for their arrival, because as soon as they walked through the doors, he was waving them over to the table. [i "What the bloody hell was that all about?"] he looked concerned.
Harry rubbed at his forehead absentmindedly and reached for the coffee with his free hand. [b "Something tells me we're not going to get the quiet year we were hoping for. I believe the head of Gryffindor is about to wage war on our new professor."]
The boys glanced to the teachers' table where Umbridge sat blissfully unaware of the animagous currently hunting for her. [i "God, I'd love to see that,"] Ron sighed.
Harry scooped some food onto his and Hermione's plates. [b "We just might. When have you ever know Professor McGonnagal to not be dramatic about things? She enjoys instilling a sense of fear in people. It's why she's such a good teacher."]
He leaned sideways slightly to bump Hermione's shoulder. [b "Better eat up. I believe we have Quidditch practice today,"] he smirked at her.
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