"This is unfair! I did nothing wrong!"
Sighing at this latest childish display to refuse responsibility for their actions, the aged Headmaster ensured his tone was gentle, yet firm as he addressed the more talkative member of the youthful trio.
"Unfortunately that is not the case Mr. Malfoy. Like Mr. Potter, you were not only caught out of your dormitory past curfew, but also outside of the Castle's walls."
Naturally, this caused Lucius's son to try and deflect blame for his actions. The only issue was that he lacked his father's ability to do so in an eloquent manner.
Not that it would have mattered since the elder Malfoy could never distract him from the topic at hand. But he felt it better that he try to work to discourage Draco's attempt rather than doing something that would force him to better follow in his father's footsteps.
"Only because I suspected Potter and that oa…I mean groundskeeper of doing something illegal. And I was right! The man's raising a bloody dragon in his hut!"
Knowing he would have to speak to Hagrid about this, mostly due to the fact that the timing for his more recent 'acquisition' was rather suspicious, Dumbledore found himself frowning as the more smug-looking member of the trio spoke out.
"Then you should have gotten a teacher instead of doing it on your own."
Shooting the Gryffindor first year a look that displayed his disappointment, for her smugness was frightfully close to Tom's during his school years, the aged headmaster felt his frown deepen as the more sullen of the three students finally broke his silence.
"And yet how did you know to get a teacher Granger? The fact that you were there with McGonagall kinda indicates that your are just as guilty as breaking the rules as we are."
Knowing that there was too much animosity between the three to have a proper discussion of the night's events, Dumbledore felt his frown became less than warm as his faithful deputy swiftly put an end to the developing argument.
"That is enough! Regardless of your reasons, all three of you were out of bed after hours. And yes that includes you Ms. Granger. While I can admire your willingness to enforce the rules, and coming to one of the staff with your concerns, the fact remains that you are also guilty of wandering the halls after curfew. Which is why you and Mr. Malfoy will both be deducted 50 points, and serve the next four weeks in detention. And as for you Mr. Potter.."
His frown deepened as he noticed the subtle, but nevertheless, defiant look in Harry's eyes as he stared at his colleague, Dumbledore was more than a touch concerned as he noticed his hands twitch in an unmistakably threatening manner as Minerva pronounced her punishment.
"If I had my way I would seriously consider expelling you for your actions. Fighting with your fellow students is already reprehensible enough. But the manner in which you were acting…the 100 points and detention until the end of the year is not nearly enough."
Seeing Harry open his mouth to no doubt offer some sort of excuse for his actions, it was at this point that Dumbledore decided to intervene.
"But it will nevertheless serve it's purpose for the moment Minerva. Now, if you would be kind as to send Ms. Granger and Mr. Malfoy off to their dormitories, I would like to have a quick word with Mr. Potter."
Receiving a curt nod from the Scotswoman, Dumbledore waited until both she and her sullen charges were gone before breaking the silence.
"Do you know why you haven't been expelled for your actions Harry?"
Sadly, while his question was enough to engage the young Hufflepuff in conversation, it was nevertheless revealed that the situation was more serious than he had expected.
"Because the school finally is taking a firmer stance on equality?"
Shaking his head in an attempt to rid it of an impending headache, Dumbledore tried again.
"No. Because your actions, while both extreme and troubling, were nevertheless done so out of your desire to help your friend."
While he was pleased that Harry seemed willing to reflect on this, his next words nearly caused him to experience a feeling that he hadn't felt in decades.
"So you're saying that my punishment is lessened because I was acting for the greater good?"
Doing his best to push past the anguish he felt at THAT particular saying, though he doubted that Harry knew of his personal history with it, the aged wizard nodded his head.
"Not…quite how I would put it, but essentially you are correct Harry. Hagrid is a decent individual, whose ability to see the good in things that most would consider dangerous is rather uncommon nowadays. And since he, unfortunately, has a history of having others misuse his kind nature for their own purposes, your actions, while far more violent than I would have liked, nevertheless prevented him from becoming a target."
At least until the young Malfoy had a chance to contact his father. But he was confident that he would be able to do something that would both limit Hagrid's inevitable heartbreak and prevent Lucious from increasing his foothold in the school.
Though it was because of the elder Malfoy's nature that caused him to address another concern of his.
"Which reminds me. I believe we have previously talked about your…preference for dealing with troubling situations."
He had expected a grunt of disinterest. Or even a curt nod.
But not the words that fell out of his mouth.
"Would have thought that guy as old as you would remember what happens when you allow racist, bullying behavior to continue without consequences."
His mind briefly flashing back to his early, and somewhat cowardly attempts to prevent the rise of a wizard who was far more dangerous than Riddle could ever be, Dumbledore found himself shaking his head since he suspected that the boy was referring to the Muggle issues of 1930's Europe rather than the magical ones of the mid 1920's.
"The circumstances are different Mr. Potter. At this stage, Mr. Malfoy is still a child who doesn't know any better."
"Have you ever considered adding a mandatory human rights course to the curriculum? It might help."
Though finding the idea intriguing, the sarcastic manner in which Harry suggested it caused the bearded headmaster to continue as if he didn't hear it.
"And that means that your attempts to 'correct' him of his behavior will only result in him clinging on to what he knows."
One could easily mistake the silence to mean that Harry agreed with his argument.
But the subtle, but unmistakable sneer that was on his face made it clear that the young Hufflepuff continued to cling to his belief that violence was the best solution for dealing with a problem.
A mindset that historically was never reliable in the wizarding world.
Yes, one could not cave into the demands of bullies, for it just made them hungrier for more power.
But at the same time, displays or threats of violence could result in making an already volatile situation worse.
Popular support for Gellert's message had soared during the early stages of his rise thanks to the heavy-handed methods of several Ministries. Who, as ever, hated to be confronted with movements that challenged their authority.
Which in turn had allowed Tom to act mostly unhindered during the first years of his rise to power. For his message of restoring the 'traditional' ways, while merely a cover for his true goals, had nevertheless caused the more conservative members of the Ministry to dismiss him as a proper menace.
Foolishly believing that if they actively moved against him and his followers it would result in a repeat of the disaster in Paris.
Pulling himself back to the present, for it was becoming obvious that there was a strong chance of history repeating itself, even if Harry lacked the charisma and manipulative talents of Gellert and Riddle, Dumbledore thought of how to halt the boy's obvious descent into darkness.
He wasn't sure it would help in the short term.
Especially since not enough time had passed to allow tempers to cool.
But it was the best option available.
For if he was willing to use violence to help out a friend in need, then he could continue showing support for his friend's plight by helping him solve a case of violence.
Should the opportunity present itself?
And considering Hagrid's concerns about the unicorns, he was certain that it would happen sooner rather than later.
Though he hadn't given much thought on how the rest of his House would react once they learned about his late night adventure, not that he actually cared since he was more concerned about his parents' reaction, Harry was nevertheless caught off guard by how chill everyone was.
"So your saying that you only snuck out, and attacked Malfoy because he was looking to get the groundskeeper in trouble? Good show Potter. Good show."
Slowly nodding his head to show that he appreciated the show of support from his fellow first year, he couldn't recall if his last name was Maximillian or Macgellen, Harry felt his eyes narrow as his older friend proceeded to announce her presence by stealing a piece of bacon from his plate.
"Don't look so stunned Potter. Yeah you fucked up our chances of winning the House Cup, not that it matters since Snape gives out points to his house like they're candy, but you did it while sticking to the principles of our house. So can't really be angry with you. Though I can't say our 'generosity' would be shared by the other houses."
Agreeing with this sentiment, for he strongly believed that the other houses would publicly turn against their own members if they got into trouble, with the possible exception of perhaps Slytherin since they seemed the type to deal with their issues 'in house', Harry felt some of his good mood evaporate as a most unwelcome presence announced itself.
"Well I think his punishment is fully warranted. Breaking curfew, fighting with other stud.."
Yes he drew more than a few looks of astonishment for being able to cast a fifth-year-level charm.
But considering it served his purpose of shutting up the annoying pain in his ass, he gladly endured the looks he received from his housemates as he turned to glare at the bushy-haired girl.
"And just why are you here Granger? I would have thought that since you are to blame for what happened last evening, you would be smart enough to stay at your own table."
Enjoying the look of indignation that had come over the usually smug girl's face, Harry's day only got better as Tonks FINALLY did something he had been hoping for ever since Granger had become part of their little circle.
Albeit in a manner that sadly stated that such a thing was temporary
"I think….it would probably be best if you left Hermione. At least until things calmed down."
It was petty of him, but he enjoyed the look of betrayal that came over her face. As well as the look of anger that been caused by his mocking wave of farewell.
His good mood restored, partially because no one at his table had seen fit to cancel the spell before she left, Harry felt his eyes slightly twitch in annoyance as he was once again prevented from concentrating on his breakfast.
Though he had to admit that he didn't object to his presence nearly as much as he did Granger's.
"Woah! You gotta teach me that spell mate."
Shooting the grinning ginger a look that, while not overtly hostile, still managed to convey his annoyance, Harry quickly broke out into a smirk as he 'instructed' the first year Weasley.
"Well, if you're willing to put in the hours of study, and concentration in order to master it, I suppose that I can.."
"On second thought, maybe I'll just wait until we cover it in class."
Refusing to point out that the Silencing Charm was something that he wouldn't learn until his fifth year, and that the only reason he knew it was because he had recognized it's potential when on a 'job', Harry once again made a move to enjoy his breakfast.
Only to be interrupted by yet another annoying female.
Something which Tonks wasted no time in pointing out.
"Not your lucky day is it Potter?"
Ignoring the amused-sounding seventh year as he watched his white feathered courier dive-bomb him with a letter before flying away with two talons worth of HIS bacon, Harry felt his momentary feeling of panic morph into one of confusion as he noticed that the handwriting didn't belong to either his parents or Stolas.
Opening it while ignoring the Ginger's comment about how he was lucky not to have received a howler, whatever the fuck that was, Harry wasn't sure if he should feel relieved or concerned at the not-so-subtle reminder that he had other 'interested parties' rooting for him.
'To my favorite draconic badger.
I trust that the events of the previous evening have not seriously affected your usual morning routine.
It would be a shame if you allowed such trivialities to get in the way of your 'education'.
In case you are wondering as to why you are receiving MY correspondence instead of your parents', well let's just say that my ability to intercept your school's outgoing mail without being caught is rather…substantial.
Though I trust that you will not come to expect this as a regular occurrence.
I applaud your actions in 'dealing' with troublesome nuisances. But I suggest that the next time you wish to 'instruct' your peers, you do so in a location where the risk of being interrupted by those in an authoritative position is limited.
That being said, considering that you are now in the final months of the school year, I will not be repeating this gesture unless I feel it is necessary.
Parental responsibility is something I highly value after all. And I would hate to deny yours the opportunity to punish you should your more impulsive actions land you in the type of trouble that you cannot talk your way out of.
Anyways, hopefully, you will take my friendly warning to heart since it would be a shame if you found yourself in a situation that jeopardizes your continued enrollment at Hogwarts..
Though I'm sure you have taken measures to read this letter in private, on the off chance that you haven't rest assured that the only person who can read the true contents of this letter is you. Anyone else would just be able to read the standard response one could expect from a parent who cared about the well-being of their only child.'
Quickly hiding the letter, for even if he did believe that it was 'shielded' he didn't really want to know what the Devil considered to be a 'standard response' when it came to parental concern, Harry was prevented from thinking too deeply about the Devil's warning thanks to the inquisitive nature of his older housemate.
"Sooo, considering the table isn't ringing with the angry shouts of your parents, I take it that you're in the clear?"
Schooling his troubled expression into one of relief as he answered Tonks's question with a nod of his head, Harry just happened to catch a burst of movement over at the Gryffindor table.
If it had been any other time, he wouldn't have really cared.
But considering the perpetrators had been the youngest Weasley and the ass-kissing grade grubber, his interest was piqued.
For while their Head of House might have been the first one to talk about loyalty between housemates, it was obvious that the House of the Brave could be rather 'catty' when properly motivated.
Something that he would no doubt find useful in the future since Granger's sanctimonious meddling was making him wonder if he could convince Blitzo to mark her down for a future job.
She hadn't crossed the line that would make him actively help her 'win' a trip downstairs.
But that didn't mean that he couldn't make her life hell before she went ended up in Hell.
It was petty.
But he really didn't care.
She wasn't sure which was worse.
The fact that she was being punished, by her favorite professor no less, for stopping a dangerously violent altercation. Though even she had to admit that it was hard to feel sympathy for Malfoy given his dangerously outdated views.
Or the fact that her punishment included sharing it with Potter.
It wasn't as if she was scared of him. For apart from that infuriating silencing spell, which had thankfully been removed by the more admirable member of the Weasley, they were finally evenly matched when it came to magical knowledge and ability.
Though she did recognize that Potter possessed a more 'creative' mind when it came to using certain spells.
But being forced to carry out her late-night detention with Potter AND Malfoy.
She would have preferred to continue to deal with her house's childish animosity towards her unwarranted loss of points than spend any time with the glaring duo.
And the commentary offered by their escort was hardly helping manners.
"You brats are lucky. Back in the old days, step out of line and they'd hang you by your thumbs in the deepest part of the dungeons. God I miss the screaming"
Refusing to believe such an obvious lie, even though she was starting to wonder as to why Professor Dumbledore would continue to employ a man who possessed such a personality, Hermione felt her eyes roll as Potter made his own snark-filled observation.
"So you're telling me that not only are you a creep who gets off on tormenting minors, but you also have a past history of actually torturing children? What the fuck is wrong with this school?!"
Keeping her attention straight ahead, for in no way did she want to be drawn into this conversation, the bushy-haired Muggleborn felt herself frown as Potter's observation managed to set Malfoy off on his own tangent.
"The fact that a senile Muggle lover is in charge of it is what's wrong Potter. Though honestly, I don't see why you're complaining. Its only thanks to his loosening grip that you haven't been expelled for what you did."
"And its only thanks to Granger that you're currently in a state to bitch about your current circumstances. Though considering you have some weird obsession with me, her 'intervention' was the only thing that was preventing you from being put into a body cast."
Actually from what she had seen it looked like Potter had intended to do a lot more.
But of course, such a thought was ridiculous since even if he was a jerk, he was still eleven years old.
Hardly mature enough to actually think about killing someone.
Though Malfoy's reply did make her wish that she hadn't been as quick as she had been in getting a teacher.
"The day I ask a filthy mudblood for help is the day when I decide to snap my wand and go live with the muggles."
Fighting the urge to snort at that rather improbable image, Hermione wasn't too surprised that Potter had a witty retort for this claim as well.
"Will keep that in mind the next time you piss me off. Kinda funny how all you magical nazis stop acting so superior once you've lost the ability to cast a spell. Which if you think about it kinda indicates that Muggles are more evolved than the rest of wizarding kind."
Intrigued by this line of thought, though it pained her to admit it, she made a questioning sound to prompt Potter to explain this theory.
Though the answer she received was as barbaric as she should have anticipated.
"A Muggle doesn't need a weapon if they want to take some out. Oh sure, its pretty easy if they got a knife, bat, knuckle duster, taser, guns, gas, explosives, bio/chemical weapons, the list goes on. But a few jabs in the right places, my personal favorite is the throat, and it doesn't matter if they have magic or not. Whereas a magic user is, for the most part, kinda fucked if they lose their wand. Which is precisely what I wanted to make plain to you Malfoy when you decided to once again piss me off."
Opening her mouth to list the various flaws in Potter's argument, though even she had to concede that from what she had read witches and wizards were generally helpless without their wands, Hermione was beaten too it by Filch.
"Shut up the lot of you. Doesn't matter how you brats decided to rough each other up. Where you're going, its gonna take more than a punch to face to get you out of trouble."
And he was right.
As a first year student, albeit one that was both smarter and somewhat more gifted than some of her older housemates, she was woefully unprepared for facing the dangers of the Forbidden Forest.
Which, for the first time made her wonder if perhaps Malfoy was right.
If THIS was how Hogwarts chose to chastise it's students, either those that deserved it or those who had been unjustly punished, then perhaps it was true that Dumbledore was losing it.
ANNNND gonna end it here for now lol.
I know, a bit of a cliff hanger. But considering the speed in which I wrote this…plus the build up that went behind it, think its better to have an entire chapter devoted to the 'forest experience' rather than a third of it.
ANYWAYS…to summarize what has happened.
1st segment deals with the mismatched trio being punished for their actions. Hermione's smugness and then reaction to being punished was largely inspired by what I remember from how Malfoy reacted in the first film. McGonagall of course comes down harder on Harry due to the position she found him in (i..e. physically assaulting a 'defenseless' Malfoy).
Dumbledore's attempts to reason with Harry I thought was a good way to show why Dumbles is the way I think he is (or at least my spin on it) when it comes to conflict. At least for those he thinks are still redeemable. Not gonna go into too much detail, but drew heavily on British appeasement policy, both those who were for it and against, to draw my suspicions on how the wizarding world reacted to Grindelwald and Voldemorts rise to power.
Morning at the breakfast table….well for this segment I decided to go a different direction than what was shown in the book, cant recall how it was done in the movies. That being the reaction of Harry's house to the loss of 100 points. Considering Harry's personality is much different than the books, the fact that Hufflepuff is generally seen, in the books at least, to actually stick close to their core tenants (i.e. loyalty) I think that their reaction would be loads better than the ostracism that was practiced by Gryffindor in cannon.
Hermione….well she isn't so lucky considering her inner house support group is much smaller/less influential than it was in the books/movies. Plus her actions would be seen as a betrayal by many Hufflepuffs. The Silencio bit, while done for humor purposes, does have the potential to be a conversational topic in the future. Looked it up, it is a 5th year spell.
Then of course there is the letter from 'L'. Basically a subtle warning from Hell's ruler that Harry should be a little more careful when it comes to getting into trouble. Their take is 'it doesn't matter what you did as long as you don't get caught for it.' Their reasoning for doing this will be revealed in the next few chapters or so.
And the last one, well basically Hermione's pov on whats happened to her, and whats gonna happen.
Anyways, hoped you all enjoyed this. Pleased with the speed it took to write. As well as the fact that the story is nearly reached 1mil views, and is close to 3000 followers. And with there being a tv tropes page...motivated to keep the numbers growing lol
Plz review. No flames.
Til next time.