Disclaimer: I do not own any characters used in this story, all recognizable names, locations, and characters are property of the wonderful JK Rowling, who was lovely enough to bless us with the Harry Potter books to become obsessed with as I have. (The italics at the beginning of the story are quoted from Order of the Phoenix. My story starts when the italics end, but they were necessary to set up the plotline.)
Summary: AU fifth-year. After McGonagall takes point from Harry for getting yet another week's worth of detentions in the second week of school, she overhears him say "She's taken points off Gryffindor because I'm getting my hand sliced open every night!" and questions him about it. Harry's a bit OOC. Complete.
"Miss Johnson, how dare you make such a racket in the Great Hall! Five points from Gryffindor!"
"But Professor — he's gone and landed himself in detention again —"
"What's this, Potter?" said Professor McGonagall sharply, rounding on Harry. "Detention? From whom?"
"From Professor Umbridge," muttered Harry, not meeting Professor McGonagall's beady, square-framed eyes.
"Are you telling me," she said, lowering her voice so that the group of curious Ravenclaws behind them could not hear, "that after the warning I gave you last Monday you lost your temper in Professor Umbridge's class again?"
"Yes," Harry muttered, speaking to the floor.
"Potter, you must get a grip on yourself! You are heading for serious trouble! Another five points from Gryffindor!"
"But — what? Professor, no!" Harry said, furious at this injustice. "I'm already being punished by her, why do you have to take points as well?"
"Because detentions do not appear to have any effect on you whatsoever!" said Professor McGonagall tartly. "No, not another word of complaint, Potter! And as for you, Miss Johnson, you will confine your shouting matches to the Quidditch pitch in future or risk losing the team Captaincy!"
She strode back toward the staff table. Angelina gave Harry a look of deepest disgust and stalked away, upon which Harry flung himself onto the bench beside Ron, fuming.
"She's taken points off Gryffindor because I'm having my hand sliced open every night! How is that fair, how?"
"What did you just say Potter?" McGonagall whipped around, her eyes ablaze.
"I said many different things, Professor. To which are you referring to?" Harry asked, sarcasm dripping from his words.
McGonagall's eyes narrowed, then swiftly glanced down at Harry's hand, but the sleeve of his robe was covering it. "My office. Now."
"But what about my classes, Professor?" Harry asked.
"You will be excused." McGonagall replied curtly. She then turned swiftly and marched out of the Great Hall, Harry in her wake. He shot a worried look over his shoulder at Ron and Hermione before making his way out of the hall.
Once Harry entered her office, McGonagall shot a spell at the door, causing it to slam shut and lock.
"I'm not going to beat around the bush, Potter. Explain what you meant by that statement in the Great Hall." McGonagall snapped. She was standing behind her desk with her arms crossed. She looked very stern indeed.
"Which statement, Professor?" Harry asked sardonically.
"Don't play games with me, Potter! What did you mean when you said, 'She's taken points off Gryffindor because I'm having my hand sliced open every night!'?"
"I meant I thought it unfair that you were taking points from me when I was already dealing with detentions from Umbridge." Harry responded.
"I figured that much, Potter. What did you mean by 'I'm having my hand sliced open every night,'?" McGonagall replied curtly.
"Hand, Potter. Let me see your hand." McGonagall snapped, coming out from behind her desk and holding her hand out. Harry reached his left hand out to her. She grabbed it and pulled up his sleeve. She sighed, a slight note of anger apparent within it. "I should have figured. The other one, Potter. You can't fool me."
"No really, Professor, I didn't mean anything by it. I was just angry. There's nothing wrong with my hand." Harry stuttered hurriedly.
"Your hand, Potter!" McGonagall cut across him sharply.
Harry sighed and held his right hand out for McGonagall to take, waiting for the explosion that was bound to happen.
McGonagall studied Harry's worried expression for a moment before taking hold of his hand. She heard a sharp intake of breath from Harry. Figuring it hurt, for some unknown reason, she let go and simply placed his hand in hers, careful not to touch the back of it. She then grabbed ahold of his sleeve and pulled it up.
Harry knew she would be angry, but he was not prepared for McGonagall's reaction to the cuts on the back of his hand caused by Umbridge's special quill.
"I must not tell…WHAT?! HOW DID THIS GET ON THE BACK OF YOUR HAND, HARRY?!" McGonagall screamed.
"Um…well…" Harry stuttered.
"THAT EVIL TOAD! HOW DARE SHE DO THIS TO ONE OF MY STUDENTS! HOW DID THIS HAPPEN, HARRY?! ANSWER ME!" She continued to scream.
Harry tried to tug his hand away from hers but she grabbed hold, causing him to wince in pain. McGonagall was physically shaking with rage, but that didn't stop her from noticing Harry's wince and his sharp intake of breath, causing her to immediately let go of his hand.
"I'm so sorry, Harry, I didn't mean to hurt you. I shouldn't have lost control like that, I apologize. Please, have a seat." She gestured to one of the chairs that sat in front of her desk. Still shaken by her outburst, Harry sat. he was not used to his calm, collected Head of House losing control like that.
Instead of sitting behind her desk like usual, McGonagall sat in the seat next to Harry. "Harry, may I see your hand again. I promise I won't grab it like I did earlier. I did not mean to hurt you." She seemed unsure when she said this, as if she was afraid of being rejected.
Harry, having complete trust in his Head of House, obediently held out his hand and set it atop hers. While he had never wanted any of the staff members to find out about his detentions, he figured she had already seen, so there was no point in denying her the opportunity of looking at his hand again. She gently pulled up his sleeve again and examined his hand. This time, though Harry could see rage burning in her eyes, she did not start yelling, she just calmly examined his cut up, and swollen hand.
After a few moments of silence, McGonagall let go of his hand and looked up. She sighed. "Harry, can you explain to me exactly how those cuts got on the back of your hand?" She asked quietly.
"Professor, it's no big deal, honestly. I don't care. Just let it be." Harry responded, with as must respect as he could imply.
"Harry, I can't help you if you don't tell me what happened. What's going on?" McGonagall replied, anger, once again, starting to color her words.
"I don't need help Professor, just let it be. Please." Harry pleaded.
"No, Potter. I will not allow a student in this school, especially one of my Gryffindors, be harmed in this manner. I don't care if it was a student, a professor, or the Minister for Magic himself that did it. I will not tolerate this. Now what happened?" McGonagall became her stern self once again, but Harry could see the care and anger burning in her eyes, and could hear the sadness and hurt underlying the stern tone.
Harry sighed. "Well, Professor. It's my detentions with Umbridge. She has this…uh…special quill she makes me write lines with. Every time I write 'I must not tell lies' it's etched into the back of my hand. It used to heal, but I've written so many lines now that it no longer heals, the words stay and they bleed long into the night. Hermione has given me essence of murtlap to soothe the pain but it doesn't make the words go away. I don't think they ever will now. But I don't want you to get involved and risk your career, Professor. I'm not worth it." Harry explained.
McGonagall sat quietly through the whole explanation. She stayed silent, and deadly calm, but Harry could see that she was getting angrier by the second. He could tell by her eyes. Even though McGonagall could hide her emotions extremely well from her face, she had always been able to do this exceptionally well, her eyes always conveyed all. Not unlike Dumbledore.
However, when Harry started asking her not to get involved and saying he wasn't worth the effort, she cut him off. "Stop, Harry. I will not allow you to demean yourself simply because the Ministry and that evil toad decided they didn't like you. It's very hard not to like you, believe it or not. Do not say you are not worth me risking my career to help, because you are. Very much so." Harry could still see that McGonagall's blood was boiling, however she stayed very calm through her little speech.
"She…" McGonagall started to say, but she seemed so overwhelmed with anger that she could not get the words out. After a moment of struggling to control her rage, she continued. "She used a blood quill on you, Harry." She finished. She seemed to want to continue, but she was unable to, she was seething.
"I'm…I'm not really sure what that is, Professor. In any case, I can handle it. No problem. Thank you for your concern, but it's all right, really." Harry made to leave, but was stopped when McGonagall laid a hand on his arm.
"Stop. I am quite aware that you can handle this, Harry. Merlin knows you've handled a lot more. What with You-Know-Who torturing you last year…" she started. She paused for a moment to regain her composer. "However, what she made you use to write your lines – a blood quill – is extremely illegal. Even the Minister himself will not be able to get her out of punishment. She may not have to go to Azkaban, because of the Minister," She put so much venom in the word "Minister" that Harry was visibly taken aback, "However she will most certainly lose her post here at Hogwarts. We must go see the Headmaster."
"No!" Harry tugged his arm out of her grip. "Honestly, Professor, we don't need to bother Professor Dumbledore with this. He doesn't need to know. I'm fine." He made to leave again.
"Harry, he must be made aware of this. It is not up to you. Follow me." And with that McGonagall swept from her office into the corridor. Knowing he had no choice, though he desperately wanted to go to class, for the first time in his life, rather than go to the Headmaster's office, Harry followed.
"Professor, really. Does he really need to know?" Harry pleaded desperately.
"Yes, Potter. Do you know of anyone else who has been made to use a blood quill by Professor Umbridge?" she asked, still visibly seething. He all but spat out the word "professor." She seemed to have calmed down a bit, but she was still extremely angry.
"Um…well…yes, Professor. I know that Lee Jordan has been made to use the quill to write lines, as well as a few others. But still..." Harry replied. He was still desperately trying to avoid going to Dumbledore's office.
"Enough, Potter. We're going. As far as I know, only Professor Dumbledore is in his office currently, but he may want to call in the other Heads of Houses, to make them aware of the situation, as well as Madam Pomfrey, to attend to your hand. No arguments. You are to tell him exactly what has been happening so he can take appropriate action. Do I make myself clear?" She interrupted.
Though Harry was dead-set against going to Dumbledore's office, he knew it wasn't up for debate, so he conceded. "Yes, Professor."
After that, Harry and McGonagall made their way to Dumbledore's office in silence. All that was heard was the distant rumble from noisy classrooms and Peeves smashing things a few floors above. Sooner than Harry would have liked, they reached the stone gargoyle guarding the Headmaster's office.
"Acid pops." McGonagall snapped at the gargoyle. It seemed to jump out of the way very fast, faster than usual. Even stone gargoyles knew to steer clear of an enraged Professor McGonagall, Harry thought to himself.
McGonagall and Harry made their way up the spiral staircase. When they made it to the door, McGonagall pounded it once with her fist and then barged in without waiting for a reply. What came as a shock was the presence of Severus Snape in the office.
"Minerva." He said shortly. "I see privacy is not something you value anymore."
"Shut up, Severus. This is more important than your complaints about Harry." McGonagall snapped.
Snape seemed taken aback by McGonagall being short with him and telling him to shut up, but he didn't say anything. He just sat back in his chair and listened, with a scowl on his face.
"Albus, why the hell did you allow that evil, twisted bitch to get a post here?!" McGonagall was on the verge of yelling.
"Minerva!" Dumbledore was shocked at her anger and language.
"Don't, Albus. That bitch is using blood quill on our students during detention!" McGonagall yelled. As she did this, she grabbed Harry's arm and thrust it at Dumbledore, so the light from his desk lamp threw the cuts on the back of his hand into strong relief. The words "I must not tell lies" were clearly visible in the back of his hand, cracked and bleeding again.
Dumbledore stared at Harry's hand for a full five minutes before he even moved. He just sat in his chair, leaning forward, with his fingers intertwined and covering his nose and mouth. All he did was blink and breathe for five minutes straight. Not even a muscle twitched.
Snape, on the other hand, did not remain still. He leaned forward in his chair at first, because he could not see Harry's hand from where he sat. when he got a good enough look at his hand, however, and was able to read the words etched into Harry's skin, he growled and threw himself from his chair, pacing back and forth by the office door. He continuously muttered under his breath while he did so, but he was so quiet that nobody could hear what he was saying.
Finally, Dumbledore leaned back in his chair and turned to look at Fawkes. He seemed unable to look at Harry's hand any longer. Harry was surprised that he didn't see anger in Dumbledore's eyes. All he saw was sadness.
What Dumbledore moved, it seemed to pull Snape out of his trance. He stepped forward and gently took Harry's hand from McGonagall. Harry was more than a little shocked at how gentle Snape was being. He seemed to be taking a lot of care not to hurt Harry, which surprised him, since he thought for sure Snape would want to cause him as much pain as possible.
Snape slowly turned Harry's hand this way and that so he could observe what damage had been done. "What have you done to your hand medically? Did you bandage it or do anything for the pain?" He asked quietly. He didn't seem to want to disturb Dumbledore or McGonagall, who were both sitting in their respective chairs, staring off into the distance. McGonagall had occupied the chair that Snape had recently vacated. The only difference was that McGonagall was seething, and Dumbledore just looked sad.
"I've bandaged it a couple times, well Hermione has, when it was bleeding badly. I didn't want anyone to notice that the back of my hand was bleeding profusely. I've also dipped it in a bowl of essence of murtlap a few times, also courtesy of Hermione. I…uh…think she may have gotten it from…uh…your stores, sir. Please don't punish her, Professor, she was only trying to help me. I was in quite a bit of pain." Harry replied.
"It's quite all right, Potter. I'm not going to punish her. It was actually quite a brilliant idea to use essence of murtlap for the pain. She really is very bright." Snape responded. "We should probably take you to Madam Pomfrey, Potter."
"Professor McGonagall wanted me to explain everything to Professor Dumbledore, sir."
"Then we'll have to take you afterward. There is a good chance that this could get infected if she doesn't give you some potions and bandage this up. Should we get their attention?" Snape explained.
"Probably, sir. I feel I should probably get to class at some point." Harry smirked as he said this, even though he dreaded having to explain it all again, especially to Dumbledore and Snape. Harry cleared his throat. "Professors!"
McGonagall's head snapped up. "So sorry, Harry. I must have zoned out. I have a few ideas for that toad…please, sit." She conjured up an extra chair, since three people had to sit in front of Dumbledore's desk, and there were only two chairs. Harry took a seat in the conjured chair, which sat between Snape and McGonagall. Snape sat down in the remaining chair.
"Professor Dumbledore!" Harry called. He seemed to still be in a trance. He reached over the desk and tapped Dumbledore lightly on the shoulder. "Sir?"
This seemed to bring Dumbledore to his senses. "Sorry, Harry. Can you…can you explain what exactly happened to your hand?'" He asked. He still seemed exceptionally sad, though a hint of extreme rage was starting to shine through.
"Well, for all the detentions I've had with Professor Umbridge, she's made me write lines. Every time, I've had to write "I must not tell lies" until she told me I could leave. She has this special quill, I think Professor McGonagall called it a blood quill, that she makes me write with so the words will be etched into the back of my hand." There was a sharp intake of breath from both Dumbledore and Snape at the mention of blood quills.
Dumbledore seemed, yet again, to be at a loss for words, so Snape decided to ask questions. "How many detentions have you had with her, Potter? How many times have you been forced to use a blood quill, and for how long each time?" He asked. There was a large quantity of venom in his voice. Dumbledore seemed to still be listening, so Harry answered.
"I've had two full weeks of detention with her. She makes me stay for about four to five hours each time. I've got homework up to my eyeballs because I have to stay so long."
Snape was now having trouble keeping his anger at bay. "Do you know of any other students who have been forced to use blood quills in detention with her?" his voice was shaking.
"As far as I know, everyone who gets detentions from her has to use the quill. I know of people who have gotten detention from her from every House except Slytherin, though there may be some from there too. I let Lee Jordan borrow my bowl of essence of murtlap just the other day." Harry replied.
Snape suddenly whipped around to face Dumbledore. "Headmaster, we must do something!" his voice wasn't nearly as smooth as usual. Harry was having a hard time understanding why he cared. No Slytherins had been hurt, as far as he knew, surely Snape didn't care about anyone else?
Dumbledore was staring at his desk, seemingly in a state of total shock, and unyielding anger.
"Headmaster!" Snape yelled.
"Sorry, Severus. I just…Minerva how did you find out about this?" He suddenly asked.
A bit taken aback, McGonagall replied, "I overheard him make a comment in the Great Hall at breakfast this morning along the lines of 'she's taken points off Gryffindor because I'm getting my hand sliced open every night!' Naturally, I brought him to my office and questioned him, finally examining his hand and finding those cuts."
"Hmm." Dumbledore lapsed back into silence. He seemed on the verge of either crying or putting his fist through the wall. Neither option seemed good to Harry.
"Headmaster, what are we to do about this?!" Snape yelled.
"Please, Severus. I'm thinking. This is going to be very hard to deal with, as Dolores is the Minister's pet toad." Harry smiled when Dumbledore said this. "We will have to proceed very carefully. Minerva, I would like you to please escort Harry to the hospital wing so Madam Pomfrey can examine his hand. When she finishes, please come back here, along with Harry. Severus, if you could please go and retrieve Filius and Pomona, so all the Heads of Houses can be made aware of this. I am going to contact Sirius, Remus, Molly, and Arthur. I feel they should know of this. If you please." He gestured toward the door.
At once, everyone stood and moved toward the door. Snape headed in the direction of the Charms classroom while McGonagall and Harry turned in the opposite direction, toward the hospital wing. They didn't make conversation, as McGonagall was still overwhelmed with anger toward Umbridge.
Once they made inside the wing, McGonagall called for Madam Pomfrey. "Poppy! Can you come here please?!" she yelled curtly. Madam Pomfrey bustled out from behind the curtains drawn around a bed. Harry heard soft moaning coming from behind them. Madam Pomfrey saw him looking.
"Quidditch injury." She said shortly, but not unkindly. "What's the problem, Minerva?" she directed this question at McGonagall.
"Well, Potter here has a few cuts on the back of his hand that we feel could possibly become infected if they are not attended to." She answered.
"We?" Madam Pomfrey looked confused as to why more than one person had opinions on the back of Harry's hand.
"Professors Dumbledore, Snape, and I."
"Oh. Well, all right. Can I see your hand, Potter?" Madam Pomfrey asked kindly. Harry sighed deeply and held out his hand for Madam Pomfrey to examine.
She grabbed his hand and tugged the sleeve up to get a look at the cuts. Harry saw many emotions flash across her face at the sight of the words carved into the back of his hand, however she did not mention it.
"Right. Well I have a few potions I should apply to this. I don't think a spell can be used to heal these, as a dark artifact seems to have created them. I have some cream that will be able to prevent infection, as well as a potion for the pain and some essence of murtlap to use for a half hour every night. I'll bandage this up as well, to prevent germs getting into it. I'm afraid that is all I will be able to do. Give me a moment to round up my supplies. Minerva, will you come help me?" She said this with a lot of strain in her voice, evidently emotional.
Harry knew full well that Madam Pomfrey could have summoned those things using her wand, however he figured she had questions for McGonagall, so he just quietly sat down on the nearest bed and examined his hand. It really did look terrible.
Meanwhile, over at the supply cabinets on the other side of the hospital wing, Madam Pomfrey was urgently whispering to McGonagall.
"Why was Potter using a blood quill?!" she whispered as she gathered up the cream and bandages.
"Professor Umbridge, it seems, has been making students write lines using a blood quill for her detentions. Rest assured, Poppy, it is being handled. Severus is currently retrieving Filius and Pomona so they can be apprised of the situation. In any case, Umbridge will not be here much longer. Even her precious Minister will not be able to get her off the charges and keep her here. She will at least have to leave. Thank Merlin." McGonagall smiled, though it was very strained, and grabbed the potion Madam Pomfrey pointed out. They then made their way back over to Harry, who was sitting on a bed examining his hand.
"Here, Potter." Madam Pomfrey gently grabbed his hand and spread the thick cream over the cuts. She then waved her wand, causing the cream to be absorbed into his hand. She waved her wand again, setting a charm on the bandage so they would keep all unwanted particles out of the injured area. "Drink this, Potter." She motioned to McGonagall, who gave Harry the potion. He gulped it down.
"Since I'm assuming you will be showing Professors Flitwick and Sprout your hand, put these on afterward. Minerva, you know the spell, correct?" Madam Pomfrey asked. McGonagall nodded. "Good. I have placed a germ-repelling charm on the bandages, and you will be able to take them off and put them back on at will. Here is a small jar of cream, put it on once in the morning before breakfast and once at night before bed. You don't have to make it absorb as I did, just put the bandages on once you spread it." She handed the bandages to McGonagall.
"Thank you, Madam Pomfrey." He said politely.
"It's no trouble, dear. You are free to go. If anything happens with the cuts or the bandages or anything, come back here at once and let me know." She replied.
"I will." Madam Pomfrey smiled at Harry and summoned some essence of murtlap from the shelves behind them.
"Use this for a half hour every night before bed. It will sooth the cuts. Have a good day, Potter." She smiled again and motioned toward the door.
"Wait for me out there, Potter. I would like a private word with Madam Pomfrey. I will be out in a moment." McGonagall said.
"Yes, Professor." Harry made his way out in the hallway, making sure the door was shut behind him before shoving the bottle of essence of murtlap in his pocket and taking out his wand.
Back in the hospital wing, McGonagall was whispering to Madam Pomfrey.
"You can't say anything about this to anyone, Poppy. Albus, Severus, and I already know, and Pomona and Filius will shortly, but nobody else can find out until action is taken. We will, no doubt, have more students who have had this happen to them. All Heads of Houses are going to go into their common rooms, once they are made aware of the situation, and find out who has had detentions with Dolores and bring them to you once we update Pomona and Filius. Do you have enough supplies?"
"Probably. Depends how many students I need to tend to." Madam Pomfrey replied.
"Shouldn't be more than thirty." McGonagall responded.
"Then I have enough supplies. I won't say anything, trust me, but I'm so angry!"
"I am too. I yelled and swore at Albus and Severus earlier." McGonagall replied. "Best to just calm down for a bit. No one must know until we get rid of the toad."
"I won't say anything."
"Thank you. Now I must be off. We will be back in an hour or so."
"See you then, Minerva." Madam Pomfrey made her way back over to the curtained bed while McGonagall made her way to the door and exited, to find Harry leaning against the wall twiddling his wand.
"Back to the Headmaster's office, Potter.