|SIYE Time:17:50 on 16th January 2018|
Category: Pre-OotP, Post-OotP, Alternate Universe
Characters:Albus Dumbledore, Draco Malfoy, Harry/Ginny, Hermione Granger, Luna Lovegood, Minerva McGonagall, Neville Longbottom, Nymphadora Tonks, Other, Remus Lupin, Ron Weasley, Severus Snape, Sirius Black
Genres: Drama, Romance
Warnings: Dark Fiction, Death, Disturbing Imagery, Extreme Language, Intimate Sexual Situations, Mild Language, Mild Sexual Situations, Negative Alcohol Use, Sexual Situations, Violence/Physical Abuse
Summary: Sequel to Darkness Within. This story begins the night before Harry's fifth year at Hogwarts. Canon couples accurate to JKR. The romance between Harry and Ginny will develop slowly due to their ages. Please note rating and warnings.
Hitcount: Story Total: 13399; Chapter Total: 654
Awards: View Trophy Room
Tremendous thanks to Arnel for her beta work with this chapter!!!!!
A Different Hogwarts
As they approached the stone steps to the Entrance Hall, Ginny glanced around to the others. “I wonder if Professor Grubbly-Plank will be teaching the Care of Magical Creatures lessons. Do you suppose Hagrid’s sick or something?”
“Dunno,” Ron muttered. “He’s always been here to take the first years across the lake. Odd he missed it this year.”
“Well, his cabin’s dark,” Harry observed, looking out across the grounds and towards the Forbidden Forest beyond. “I don’t think he’s actually at Hogwarts right now.”
Hermione nodded. “Let’s go on in and get seats,” she said, leading the way into the Great Hall.
“Hey, Seamus, Dean,” Neville called out, raising a hand in greeting and pausing to wait for them, as the others entered the Hall.
The boys smiled and walked over. Seamus had just reached them when he was shoved forcefully from behind and stumbled into Anna. They both ended up in a heap of tangled limbs on the hard stone floor.
“Bloody hell!” Seamus cursed, looking down at the girl under him and quickly shifting off her.
“Anna, are you alright?” Neville asked, kneeling to help her and Seamus. “You didn’t hit your head, did you?”
Anna winced as she sat up and shook her head slightly. “No, I’m fine. What happened?”
“Couple of Hufflepuff second years,” Dean gestured towards the two boys who were clearly being told off by their irate prefects, Ernie Macmillan and Hannah Abbott. “Barmpots playing tag in the Entrance Hall. Looks like your bleeding, mate,” he said with a slight grimace as he helped Seamus up off the floor.
Ernie hurried over to them just as Neville pulled Anna gently to her feet. “I’m sorry about them.” He jerked a thumb in the direction of the second years, who were still being berated by Hannah as she pushed them ahead of her into the Great Hall. “Do you want me to get Madam Pomfrey?”
“Nah, no need,” Seamus replied, looking down at the blood slowly dripping from his heavily scraped right forearm. “I’ll just wash up. You all go ahead in or you’ll miss the Sorting.”
Anna heard Professor McGonagall’s brisk voice nearby and realized the first years were indeed rapidly approaching. “Go on ahead, Neville. I’m going to wash up as well.” She smiled reassuringly at him and turned to follow Seamus towards the bathrooms.
Once he turned the corner, Seamus slowed down to wait for her. “Sorry about that, Anna. Are you really okay?”
She nodded. “You broke my fall quite effectively.”
He blushed. “I’m thinking you might have a couple of bruises though. Didn’t mean to grab you like that. It was just instinct I guess.”
He had grabbed her tightly around the waist with his left arm and managed to turn slightly as they fell so that his right arm hit the floor first.
“Come on,” she smiled, her cheeks slightly flushed. “Let me fix your arm.”
They went into the boys’ bathroom. Anna pulled out her wand and carefully pulled up the sleeve of his shirt before muttering a quick “Episkey” to heal his wound and “Tergeo” to remove the blood. “Reparo” mended the torn shirt.
“Thanks, Anna,” Seamus said, as they both washed their hands. “The Sorting’s probably started by now.”
“Yes,” she agreed. “I think I’d rather wait in here and slip into the Great Hall once the feast starts.”
“Sounds like a good plan,” he said, buttoning the cuff of his shirt. “So, how was your summer?”
“Good… a bit quiet,” she sighed. “Aunt Augusta wouldn’t let us leave the Manor, except once to go to Gringotts. She wouldn’t let us have anyone over either. Remus was away a lot more than usual, and tired and tense when he was at home.”
Seamus nodded slowly. “Me mam didn’t want me to come back to Hogwarts.”
“Why wouldn’t she want you to come back?” Anna asked quietly.
He shrugged awkwardly before replying. “The news in the Daily Prophet has been a bit concerning, you know?”
She nodded. “They’ve been reporting so many half-truths lately. Aunt Augusta finally cancelled her subscription because she was so tired of reading erroneous information.”
“You definitely think it’s false then, the bad stuff they’ve been printing about Harry and Dumbledore,” he inquired.
“Of course, it’s false!” Anna exclaimed. “I mean, everyone knows how brilliant and powerful Dumbledore is. I’m not saying he never makes mistakes, but he’s not wrong about this. We know Harry. He would never make up a story to gain attention. He hates being in the spotlight — well, except for Quidditch, of course.” She took a deep breath. “I’m quite sure Voldemort is back, horrifying as that is.” Her voice cracked slightly, and she pressed her lips together hard.
Seamus grabbed her hand, giving it a gentle squeeze. “You’re right, of course. Not fair for the newspaper to print rubbish about Harry and Dumbledore.”
She nodded and forced a smile. “Not fair at all.”
They began to talk about the better aspects of their summer holidays. Seamus had just finished telling her about an unfortunate yet highly amusing incident involving a pile of steaming manure and the vegetable garden at his parents’ house when they both noticed a slight rise in the noise level coming from the Great Hall.
“Ready to go sneak in?” he asked, holding out his hand.
She smiled and took his hand. They made their way quietly to the seats Neville and Dean had saved for them at the Gryffindor table.
“How did the Sorting go?” Anna asked as she sat down and fixed her plate.
“Well enough,” Neville replied. “The Sorting Hat gave a warning to the students though. It said Hogwarts was in danger, and the Houses needed to unite.”
“Well, that’s certainly comforting,” she muttered.
When the meal was over, the Headmaster rose to make the usual start-of-term notices, including welcoming back Professor Grubbly-Plank as the Care of Magical Creatures teacher and introducing the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, Professor Umbridge. Anna was as startled as the rest of the student body when Professor Umbridge stood up to make a speech. She couldn’t remember anyone ever interrupting Professor Dumbledore previously. Umbridge’s sycophantic tone when referencing the Ministry of Magic combined with her redundancy, in emphasizing the need to stop progress for the sake of progress and the importance of preserving what ought to be preserved, was mind-numbing. By the end of the speech, Anna was having difficulty focusing, and Hermione were staring at the woman with barely concealed contempt.
Finally, the exhausted and thoroughly bored students were dismissed. Slowly ascending the stairs towards the Painting of the Fat Lady that guarded the entrance to their common room, Anna couldn’t help laughing when Neville told her the new password for Gryffindor was Mimbulus mimbletonia.
Ginny grabbed Anna’s hand the moment she saw her enter the Gryffindor common room. “Please come upstairs. I need to talk to you!” she murmured, as she pulled her towards the stone spiral staircase leading to the dormitories.
Anna hissed in pain and pulled her hand out of Ginny’s grasp.
Ginny turned back questioningly and looked down at Anna’s left hand in surprise. “I’m sorry,” she said contritely, noticing the vivid red scar there. “Is that why you missed dinner?”
Anna nodded and continued walking up the stairs, following Ginny to the relative privacy of the dormitories.
“How often do you practice the blood ward?” Ginny whispered.
“Once or twice a month,” Anna responded quietly. “I usually practice on a weekend, but…Professor Umbridge…there’s something about her.”
“What do you mean? What happened in class today?” Ginny sat on the bed and looked up expectantly. “Everyone was talking at dinner about how Harry got into a shouting match with her and she gave him detention.”
Anna nodded and sighed. “Well, that’s certainly true, although in Harry’s defense, he didn’t start it.” She rubbed her forehead and sat down on the edge of her bed next to Ginny. “Hermione asked Professor Umbridge about the course aims, since they didn’t include any actual use of magic. Once she pointed it out, everyone realized that the professor doesn’t intend to teach us any real magic this year. Dean was upset as well, and questioned her on it, but she won’t be allowing us to practice any defensive spells in her class.”
“But, how will everyone pass their exams?” Ginny sputtered. “I mean the O.W.L. and N.E.W.T. exams always have a practical, don’t they?”
“Yes,” she agreed. “That’s what Parvati pointed out, but the professor didn’t seem impressed by that argument.”
Ginny shook her head in disbelief. “How could she not let us practice spells in class? That’s madness.” She leapt up and started pacing in front of the bed. “I mean Voldemort’s back. He’s back, and the Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher is not going to let us do magic!”
“And that’s what caused the shouting match between Harry and Professor Umbridge,” Anna continued. “He insisted that Voldemort is back. Umbridge denied it and called him a liar. He started yelling at her, she assigned him detention, and then sent him to Professor McGonagall.”
Ginny sat back down on the bed. “What are we going to do?”
“I have no idea,” Anna murmured with a shrug. “I think I’d better start some homework though. It’s only the first day, and this year already feels like it will be even more fun than last year!”
Ginny stared at her for a moment and then burst out laughing. Anna quickly joined her, and was wiping a few tears from her cheeks by the time her giggles subsided.
The rest of the first week of school continued rather quietly for Ginny. As she watched her friends in fifth year struggle to keep up with their homework every night, she was glad she still had a year to go before facing her own O.W.L. year. Harry returned late to the dorm every night due to his detentions.
Listening to the gossip around Hogwarts, Ginny realized that most Gryffindors quickly decided that Professor Umbridge was a horrible teacher. She was also pleased to note that just about everyone in her House accepted the fact of Tom Riddle’s return, even though most spoke in hushed whispers about the danger from You-Know-Who. Unfortunately, Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff seemed to be about evenly split in their belief that Voldemort was back, though most acknowledged disappointment in their new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher.
Friday night, Ginny was happy to celebrate the end of the first week of school with the rest of the residents of Gryffindor Tower. Her brother, Ron, had joined the Quidditch team as the new Keeper, and Harry was finally, hopefully, finished with his week of detentions with Professor Umbridge. Fred and George had managed to obtain a large case of butterbeer, and everyone was relaxing as they enjoyed the relative freedom of their first weekend.
“He did what?” Ginny seethed, staring at her brother in frustration.
Ron swallowed. “Percy sent me a letter congratulating me on being a prefect and encouraging me to… well, to not be friends with Harry any longer.”
“Give me the letter,” she demanded imperiously, holding out her hand. “I want to see exactly what that git wrote!”
“I tore it up and put it in the fire,” Ron admitted.
Ginny sighed angrily. “Well, that’s something, then.” She sat down, and pushed both hands through her hair before sitting up straight. “What else was in the letter?”
“Percy…” he began, looking from his sister to his twin brothers and finally to their friends. “Percy said some stuff about Mum and Dad. Basically, he wrote that they’re misguided and should choose their friends more wisely.” Ron paused as he rubbed his hands together for a moment. “He wrote that he would accept their apology when they realize how wrong they are about Harry and Dumbledore.”
“Bloody moron,” Fred exclaimed.
“More like a pompous arse,” George corrected.
Neville looked at Anna with a raised eyebrow, but remained quiet. He knew it was better to let the Weasleys vent their anger with each other about their older brother rather than join in the conversation. Judging by their silence, apparently, Harry and Hermione felt the same way. It was shaping up to be a horrible start to the school year. Harry had landed himself in detention with Professor Umbridge for the second week in a row. Hermione had started the confrontation in the Defense classroom, just as she had the first week, and Harry had joined in, clearly unable to restrain his temper.
Harry hid the truth of his detentions initially, but by mid-way through the second week, the scars forming on the back of his right hand had become apparent to his close friends. Neville had been horrified when he realized that “doing lines for detention” with Professor Umbridge meant using a blood quill to repeatedly cut a message into his skin. I must not tell lies was now clearly visible on the back of Harry’s hand. Ginny’s jaw had locked in silent fury when she saw the words. Anna had tried the “Episkey” spell to heal his hand, but the charm had no noticeable effect. The girls had decided that either the cumulative effect of the continual use of the blood quill or some Dark magic in the object itself made it difficult to heal his wound. Hermione prepared Murtlap Essence, which at least eased the pain, though it did not make the scar disappear.
Lessons were also being interrupted by Professor Umbridge in her new role as “High Inquisitor” of Hogwarts. She was observing many of their classes and taking copious notes, as well as questioning students about what they were learning. It quickly became evident that Professor Trelawney was one of her targets. The Divination Professor had been extremely uncomfortable during the observation and had made a rather wild and unspecified prediction that Professor Umbridge was in grave danger and might soon face mortal peril. Neville noticed a few of the students had looked momentarily hopeful before remembering that Professor Trelawney frequently predicted horrible events that never actually occurred. The other professors had not seemed intimidated by her presence in their classrooms, though all were clearly irritated by her questions and constant interruptions.
All in all, Neville was very pleased when they finally escaped from the castle for the first Hogsmeade weekend at the beginning of October. Hermione had invited a large group of students to meet at the Hog’s Head pub to discuss the creation of a defense club. She was determined that they practice defensive spells rather than just reading about them in their Defense Against the Dark Arts class. Many of the Gryffindors from fourth year to seventh year came to the pub, bought bottles of butterbeer, and settled in chairs around Harry. Several members of Hufflepuff House, including Ernie Macmillan, Justin Finch-Fletchley, Hannah Abbott, and Susan Bones arrived shortly thereafter and joined them at the bar to place their orders. A few Ravenclaws also arrived led by Cho Chang, Padma Patil, and Luna Lovegood. Once they were all gathered in the back corner of the pub, Hermione stood up.
“Thank you all for coming,” she began somewhat nervously. “We…well, we all know that we need to be learning more defensive magic than the rubbish we’re learning in class. I mean…well, we need to be practicing real spells, and…getting ready to…to defend ourselves properly.”
“Not to mention some of us are hoping to pass our Defense Against the Dark Arts N.E.W.T.,” mentioned Angelina Johnson.
“And, our O.W.L.,” added Susan Bones, before turning to look directly at Harry. “My Aunt Amelia said you can produce a corporeal Patronus.” She glanced around quickly and lowered her voice. “She’s concerned about the possibility of Dementors not always being under the control of the Ministry. Knowing how to produce a Patronus could be really important in defending ourselves from them. Would you try to teach us how to cast one?”
Harry nodded slowly. “Two Dementors came after me this past summer in my neighborhood.”
Several students gasped in alarm. Those who already knew about the incident nodded solemnly.
“I was able to conjure my stag Patronus and drive them away,” Harry continued, rubbing his chin. “I don’t know if that was an isolated incident, or if Dementors really could be roaming freely about sometime soon.” He took a drink from his bottle of butterbeer. “I can try to teach you all how to produce one. It’s advanced magic, though, not easy to learn, and it could take a while.”
“Harry, I think many of us would really like to learn to defend ourselves from Dementors,” Ginny said quietly. “I know I would.”
He focused intensely on her for a moment and then nodded.
“Harry knows a lot of other spells as well,” Ron stated as he glanced around at the assembled group. “Stuff he learned for the Triwizard Tournament last year.”
“Yeah,” Neville agreed. “Getting past the dragon, and all those creatures in the lake…” his voice trailed off as he thought about the maze. Everyone was quiet for a moment.
Hermione nodded. “So…are we all agreed that we want to take defense lessons from Harry?”
A murmur of general agreement was immediately followed by her asking how often the group should plan to meet.
“Once a week would be good,” Ernie suggested. “With You-Know-Who back, we’ve all got to learn to defend ourselves. I still don’t understand why the Ministry would give us such a useless teacher.”
“Well, we think Professor Umbridge may be trying to prevent us from learning defensive spells so that we can’t ever be used as a force against the Ministry,” Hermione explained.
“What?” several voices muttered in confusion.
“Some important members of the Ministry apparently believe that Dumbledore could use students to create a private army that would be loyal to him alone,” Harry said. “They would rather leave us defenseless and powerless than ever have to face us in a conflict.”
“Hard to imagine them being that paranoid,” Fred muttered. “So, we’ll meet once a week. We just need to avoid the Quidditch practice times.”
The other Quidditch players from each House nodded.
“We also need a place to meet,” George added.
“It would have to be a rather large space,” Ginny commented, glancing around. “There are a lot of us, and we’ll need room to move around to cast spells.”
The group was quiet for a moment.
“The library?” Katie Bell suggested with a shrug.
“Madam Pince wouldn’t like that,” Harry said smirking.
“We could use the Come and Go room,” Anna murmured.
“The what?” Hermione asked.
“The Come and Go room,” Anna repeated, focusing on Harry. “It’s on the seventh floor. I can show you the room and we can start meeting there.”
He nodded and smiled. “Alright, so…I guess we’ll spread the word about the first meeting soon.”
“Before we leave, we need everyone to write their name on this parchment,” Hermione said. “That way we know who is interested in being part of the defense club. And, I think we need to all agree not to tell anyone about this - especially Professor Umbridge.”
There were a few uneasy glances, particularly among the members of Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw, but soon everyone had agreed to keep the meetings a secret. One by one, they wrote their names on the parchment before exiting the Hog’s Head.
Author’s Notes: Disclaimer — Part of this chapter comes from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling
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