Disclaimer: I do Not Own Harry Potter. Also all the information of the Hufflepuff/Ravenclaw Common room is canon and comes from J.K Rowling and her site, Pottermore.
Ginny sat on her bed, the curtains drawn around her, a book laid on her legs as she rubbed the temples of her head. A few weeks ago when Harry asked her to start learning Occlumency she wasn't quite aware of what Harry was asking of her. Sure, she knew it was difficult and would take time, but she hadn't realized what it took to learn Occlumency. Ginny had just finished reading about techniques to shield her mind, organisation and how it would help her, not only to remember things more clearly, but also to stop her mind wandering. As she thought about what she had read, she realized that she would need to start thinking about things that happened in the past; things that were not as great as last year's April Fool's Day prank, or the kisses she shared with Harry daily. Harry had sat her down after a couple of days' reading and explained to her, regarding her past memories, that it would be best to organise something bad and then something good. Also, she didn't need to work in chronological order either: the brain didn't work that way. She could try and organise and lock away in her mind her eighth birthday party, and then organise and lock away the Transfiguration class that she had that morning, but it made no difference on how effective her Occlumency was. Organizing the mind was only a part of Occlumency. The other part was shielding. Harry explained that some people advise organizing the mind first, while others suggested the defence was the most important thing to focus on and then there was no worry on whether people could view your secrets whilst you organised them. Naturally Harry ignored both normal suggestions and told her to do a bit of both each night before going to bed.
As Ginny sat, organising the memories the way the book suggested, she came across the memory of last year's April Fool's Day. Smiling, she remembered as they stayed up half the night planning, or at least Harry and her brothers did, she herself was worn out from all the practising of magic throughout the day and had fallen asleep right at the beginning of the planning stages. This year would be different! Looking at the time on her wrist watch she sighed as she laid back down, finishing her Occlumency exercises and planning on drifting off to the realm of dreams when she frowned. Something had been nagging her ever since she had finished her occluding her mind that evening. Bolting up in bed she slapped a palm to her forehead. It was the thirty-first today. This meant tomorrow, would be the first. The first of April. April Fool's Day!
Guiltily she sighed, as she had even forgotten to wrap her brothers' birthday present. It was all Harry's fault. He was the one who had distracted her with Occlumency and the promise to let her fully in once she had learnt it properly. Yes, it was Harry's fault. Not hers!
Sighing, she leapt out of bed quietly, making sure not to wake her dorm mates and silently crept out of the room, shutting the door with barely a squeak of its hinges. Hugging the warm home-knitted dressing gown around her to keep the cold of the tower out, she crept quickly past the five dormitory doors below her and into the common room. She was glad that Hermione's dorm was above her and not below her. It always seemed that when she or Harry was up to mischief Hermione's ears were extra sensitive, like a werewolf. As she got to the common room she saw the twins, unsurprisingly, sitting by the fire chatting quietly and working on a piece of parchment.
"What are you two up to?" Ginny said tiredly.
"Ginny, dear sister," Fred said looking up.
"How are you this fine evening," George said smiling at her.
"Don't change the subject," Ginny said walking over to them, "That's not homework. You two don't do homework, what are you doing?"
"Well," Fred said looking at his brother, "It isn't something we wish to discuss at this time."
"We will let you into the secret soon," George said, "Both you and Harry, but not quite now. This is our future, this is."
"Right…" Ginny said shaking her head. "I'll go wake Harry, shall I?"
"No need," Harry said, walking down the boys' staircase and into the common room.
"How is it that you always know when something is going on?" Fred enquired.
"It's Dumbledore-like," George muttered. "He hasn't been teaching you his tricks, has he?"
"He doesn't need to," Harry said laughing and sitting down on the couch opposite the twins. He held out his left arm out to Ginny and she smiled as she too sat down and snuggled into Harry's side. This was the best feeling in the world. She smiled as the feeling of content and safety washed over her.
"So, late night tonight?" Fred asked.
"I suppose," Harry said, "It depends on what we want to do."
"It has to be bigger than last year," Ginny stated.
"What's bigger than turning all the school body into animals?" George asked.
"Yeah," Fred agreed, "I mean, me and George have been discussing this for the past couple of weeks, and we can't really think of something better than that. But we don't want to disappoint our fans, do we?"
"I agree," Harry said nodding, "Maybe rather than do one big prank, we should do lots of little pranks. And I mean lots. After all, it's the Easter holidays; we don't have to worry about interfering with classes."
"True, but O.W.L's and N.E.W.T's have lots of homework and revision to do," George said, "We don't want to interfere with their ability to study."
"You care about studying?" Ginny asked laughing.
"Well, no," Fred said.
"But we've always respected others' right to study," George continued.
"Just imagine what the fifth and seventh year Ravenclaws will do if we took away their right to study just before their O. and N.E. ," Fred answered, "They're smart, they are, imagine what they could come up with to get us back."
All four of them shivered in fear.
"Yes," Harry agreed, "Whilst they may not be on our level they could think of up some nasty ways to get us back, plus just think what the Slytherin seventh years could do. No, you are right; it shouldn't be something that interferes with their ability to study."
"Also, I don't think we should concentrate it on food and the meal times," Harry said. "That is where we always do our pranks, and as it's April the first, everyone will be on the lookout. No, we should concentrate on other things, like common rooms, bathrooms, and dare I say it, the library?"
"Library?" Ginny exclaimed. "You want to risk the anger of Madam Pince?"
"We won't do anything that harms the books," Harry said.
"Harry," Fed said eyeing him, "Pince thinks breathing too heavily does harm to the books!"
"Well, okay," Harry said shrugging, "We can leave the library alone if you want… such a shame, I had such a great idea… but if you don't want to risk it, if it's too much for you…"
"Now, now," George said hastily.
"None of that," Fred continued.
"We were not saying we were against setting up pranks in the library," George explained.
"Just if you are prepared for the trouble we might face," Fred finished.
"I'm always prepared for trouble!" Harry said smiling.
"Yeah," Ginny said sulkily, "Doesn't it suck that your life has been full of trouble that you have to prepare for it."
"I know," Harry said dramatically, "I really don't know what I did to deserve it, I really don't."
"Well, it's not been all your life," George said
"Yeah, you grew up with us," Fred said.
"Yeah, I grew up with you three!" Harry said smirking, "there can't be an even more dangerous childhood if you tried!"
"Watch it, Potter," Ginny said, "Or you might not have a girlfriend for much longer!"
"Ah, bless," Fred said, "Ginny's gotten to the stage where she can threaten to break up with Harry with the knowledge Harry won't go through with it!"
"Ginnykins has all grown up!" George said, whilst both of them looked at her proudly.
"Don't ever call me that again!" Ginny said heatedly. God, it was worse than them calling her Gin Gin!
"Okay, Gin Gin," Fred said.
Ginny took her wand and pointed it at Fred, but Harry's hand came lay on her arm. He simply shook his head.
"You think you can stop me if I really wanted to," Ginny asked with a raised eyebrow.
"Well no…" Harry said hesitantly and Ginny smiled before looking back at her brothers. Sighing dramatically she dropped her wand to her side.
"Let's get back to the pranks, shall we," Fred said hastily casting a wary eye over Ginny's hand that still held her wand. "No need to get all bat-bogey on us."
"Oh, I wouldn't bat bogey you," Ginny said smiling sweetly, "I've found something better."
The other three looked horrified at Ginny. Truth was that she hadn't found anything better than her faithful Bat-Bogey Hex. But then they didn't need to know that.
"Right, so pranks!" Harry said rapidly changing the subject back once again to the next day.
They spent the best part of two hours discussing various ideas, discarding some and shelving others to use for another time. It was hard work but fun! A thought suddenly flashed in Ginny's mind and she quickly excused herself from Harry and the rather comfortable couch by the fire as she slipped back up the stairs to the girls' dormitories. She had remembered a slight comment made from Hermione and she was planning on keeping her to her word.
Quickly and quietly she crept up to the top of the tower and sneaked into the third year Gryffindor dorm room. The bed she wanted was the second to her right; a slight snore came from Lavender Brown's bed. She made her way very quietly to the bed of her bushy hair friend and shook her awake.
"Ginny?" Hermione whispered waking up. "Whatz ze matter?" she asked sleepily.
"Meet me down in the common room," Ginny whispered back.
"What?" Hermione asked awaking some more but Ginny was already moving back to the dormitory door. Ginny made her way back down the stairs to meet her boyfriend and her brothers. Both were giving her questioning looks but Ginny simply picked up the list of pranks she was set to arrange that night. There was a good selection of pranks, but there was one specific prank she was looking forward to setting up the most. That one she would do with Harry.
There was noise from the girl staircase and the four of them looked up to see Hermione come down in her dressing gown, a frown on her face.
"What on earth is going on here?" Hermione asked. "Ginny, why did you wake me up?"
"It is April Fool's Day tomorrow" Ginny told her.
"So it is," Hermione said eyeing the four of them, "I guess you're planning some pranks, what does this have to do with me?"
"Well, I seem to recall a conversation a couple of weeks back about you helping us one night to stage some pranks," Ginny said she went through the set of pranks she was to organise through her mind. "I thought you would be disappointed if we left you out!"
"You woke me up to help you set some pranks!" Hermione said outraged. "What were you thinking?"
"That we discussed what an excellent idea it was a couple of weeks ago," Ginny said smiling.
"I said that as a joke!" Hermione insisted.
"True," Ginny said, "but are you not just a little bit interested on how we prank. Don't worry, we've already gone through the planning, didn't want you to sit here for a couple of hours doing nothing."
"A couple of hours?" Hermione asked intrigued. "What on earth are you planning that takes that long?"
"Come along and find out" Ginny said smiling, trying to entice Hermione.
"I couldn't possibly…" Hermione said appalled. "Imagine if we're caught!"
"We won't be," Harry said. "We've got The Marauders Map, and the invisibility cloak. We got Peeves looking out and willing to make distractions if needed. We never got caught before setting up all the pranks we have in the past. It will be quite safe, and fun!"
"Aren't you just a little bit intrigued, Hermione?" Fred asked.
"Well," Hermione said slowly, "I mean, maybe…"
"Jolly good, old girl," George said walking beside her and throwing an arm around her shoulder. "You can go with Harry and Ginny. No offense but me and George always work best as a twosome when doing the practical work."
"Right then," Harry said rummaging through his and Ginny's share of the plans for that night, "You better do these." Harry handed Fred and George a piece of parchment and Ginny recognised the pranks they had planned for the library. Ginny nodded in agreement. It was one thing getting Hermione to come along tonight and help set up the pranks, but it was quite another thing to ask her to help organise the pranks in her precious library. George looked at the parchment before nodding.
"Right you are, Harry," George said before handing him back a different piece of parchment. "You three do these then." Ginny saw Harry look at his watch before gazing at the other four.
"Right, we will be back before four," Harry told them, "If you need help holler for Peeves, he'll create a distraction. Hermione, you'll have the Marauder's Map. Tell us if you think a teacher is on its way towards either us or the twins. We need enough time so that we can get Peeves to intercept."
"I always did wonder what Peeves did," Hermione said thoughtfully. "I mean, he can't cast magic."
"No, he helps with the practical side of things sometimes if they encounter into our preparations but mostly all our pranks are magical, so Peeves looks out for trouble and makes sure we don't get caught" Ginny explained.
"Right you are, sis," Fred said, "Well, me and George are off, places to be, pranks to pull off. See you guys later."
Ginny watched her brothers walk out of the portrait hole before she turned back to see Harry hand over the Marauder's Map to Hermione.
"Keep an eye on this, tell us if the twins or us are going to come anywhere near teachers or Filch," Harry explained to her. "Also keep an eye out and not just on the parchment. It only shows humans, not animals, we need to make sure Mrs. Norris doesn't spot us either, otherwise we will be chased."
Hermione nodded nervously. Ginny observed her carefully before speaking.
"If you really don't want to help us we're okay with that, Hermione," Ginny said quietly. "We're not going to force you to go along with this if you are dead set against helping. It's just that you're one of our best friends, and we thought you might also be interested in the magic we use."
Hermione looked between the two before slowly nodding in agreement.
"Good," Harry said before walking towards the portrait hole. The three of them slipped out of the portrait hole and then quickly walked along the seventh floor corridor towards the main staircase. Hermione told them nervously that Filch was currently walking along the fourth corridor whilst the twins had already reached the second floor.
"How did they get there so quickly," Hermione asked.
"This passageway here," Harry said pointing out a secret passage way on the map. "It's not well known but you can skip a couple of floors."
"Whilst I don't condone what you're forcing me to do tonight," Hermione said. "It is fascinating learning about Hogwarts secret passageways. And this map really is a brilliant piece of magic."
"Yes, Remus researched most of the magic," Harry said, "My dad and Sirius cast the spells. Really, best bit of pranking kit ever." Slowly they made their ways down the stairs of Hogwarts and finally reached the entrance hall.
"Right, so Slytherin's first," Harry said before turning towards Hermione, "you got the map, and have been there before. You wish to lead the way?"
"Umm, okay," Hermione said before looking down once more at the map. "Oh, Fred and George are coming up to Filch!"
"Right then," Harry said before calling out to Peeves. The poltergeist appeared out of thin air before them.
"Prince and Wild-fire," Peeves said bowing, "how are you tonight?"
"Excellent Peeves," Harry said smiling, "Where is Filch at the moment, Hermione?"
"The first floor, about a couple of minutes away from the library," Hermione said watching at the map before looking up at Harry and Ginny, "You're pranking the library!" she hissed as she saw Fred and George inside the sacred ground.
"Not now," Harry said again before turning to Peeves.
"Already on the way, My Prince!" Peeves said before Harry could speak and he disappeared with a crack.
"Really," Hermione said looking at the two of them.
"It won't stop people being able to study, we swear." Harry said before starting to move towards the dungeons, "Now come on."
"It won't?" Hermione asked them carefully, walking beside him.
"Of course not!" Ginny said, "It's the Easter Holidays, we understand that these two weeks are of the utmost importance to both O.W.L and N.E.W.T students. We won't do anything that stops them from being able to study. That wouldn't be right."
"I guess I don't give you lot enough credit," Hermione said slowly, "it is just last year's prank…"
"We've already admitted was too much," Ginny said. "We won't do anything that stops people from studying. But it's not often April Fool's Day falls on a weekend or holiday; we're going to make the most of it."
They finished descending the stairs and turned towards the Slytherin common room. Harry and Ginny carefully and quietly followed Hermione as they moved through the labyrinth that was the dungeons before Hermione stopped some five minutes later in front of a blank wall.
"I believe," Hermione said slowly "That this is the place, but how are you ever going to get in? Nothing dangerous, I hope."
"Getting in is easy," Harry said, before Ginny and himself brought out their wands, "but we've got some pranks to set up on their entrance first. You sure this is the place? Remember we've never been here before."
Hermione nodded. Ginny hopped that she was right; it wouldn't be good if they set up the pranks on a blank wall. The Marauder's Map didn't show the common rooms, although Harry had told her he knew where each of them was located. She also knew that Harry could put the common rooms onto the map. She guessed Harry had too much on his mind to do so. She filed that information away to remind him later to do so. It be would useful information to have.
Carefully they whispered incantations and hexes on the entrance of the Slytherin common room. Making sure that the volatile magic they were casting would not backlash and cover them, it wouldn't be good for the reputation if they got caught up in their own prank. Ginny wiped her brow as she finished whispering her spells and waited for Harry to finish knitting the spells all together and for them be able to move on. It was a further five minutes before Harry stopped muttering and dropped his wand.
"That was harder than I thought," Harry muttered.
"It is done?" Ginny asked nervously.
"Yes, all good." Harry told her. "They won't activate for another hour, so we should have time to get in and out before we prank ourselves."
"Yes, we will save that for later," Ginny said nodding.
"Wait, we're going to prank ourselves?" Hermione asked.
"It's only fair," Harry said. "Right, turn around."
"What?" Hermione asked and Ginny saw her frown.
"How I get in is a trade secret," Harry said. "Only Ginny knows how."
Ginny saw Hermione pale.
"We're actually going into the common room?" Hermione asked.
"What's the problem?" Harry asked, "You went in last Christmas."
"Yes, disguised as a Slytherin," Hermione said, "the amount of trouble if we're caught, oh why did I let you talk me into this?"
Ginny saw her bushy-haired friend start to panic slightly and took pity on her. Her curiosity to learn more magic and her deep religious belief in rules was quietly raging a war in her.
"You don't have to come in," Ginny said silently, "You can keep watch."
"No," Hermione said, "I'm the only one of us three that's been in there, you might need my help."
"Okay," Harry said. "We need to be careful and quiet; it would not be good for a Slytherin to catch us."
"Agreed," Ginny said. Hermione turned around so she wouldn't spot how they got in and Ginny saw Harry learn against the wall slightly and whisper to it. There was a click, and Ginny heard the wall start to move out of the way. She could never quite work it out, but for a little while now, whenever she saw Harry do some impressive magic, or something not quite normal, it was slightly, arousing. She couldn't quite work it out, but she guessed it was the start of her hormones playing tricks on her body; after all she was thirteen that summer. Seeing Harry do amazing feats with magic turned her on. And she quickly crept up to Harry and gave him a surprised chaste kiss.
"Thanks," Harry said smiling. "After you?" he bowed waving the way into the common room and Ginny quickly jumped though the opening silently, Harry following suit. There was no changing of appearance to Harry and Ginny and Ginny sighed in relief. Hermione quickly followed them.
"Well," Harry whispered. "I'm glad I managed to get that correct, good to know." Ginny shook her head in exasperation. Sometimes with Harry it was just better to ignore certain things, like forgetting to tell her that they were at risk of being pranked by themselves.
Ginny looked around the Slytherin common room in awe. Whilst she was a Gryffindor at heart, after all, the boy she loved had Gryffindor blood running through his veins, she couldn't help but be impressed and awed at the Slytherin common room. Silver and green upholstery lined the walls as she expected, but the impressive thing in the dark common room was that the opposite wall of the common room wasn't a stone wall, but was rather made of glass. They couldn't see much in the night murky waters of the black lake, but she expected that in the middle of the day and with the sun's rays piercing the surface of the water, the view would be rather spectacular.
"It's quite something," Ginny muttered to Harry.
"I suppose," Harry said, "Seems a bit cold though."
Ginny nodded, whilst the view of the lake was rather imaginative, she couldn't help get the distinct feeling of the Chamber of Secrets out from her. The coldness of the common was not something she enjoyed, having lived all her life in the warmth of The Burrow, and then the tower of Gryffindor, the Slytherin common room felt cold and unwelcoming. She felt sudden gratitude then for Harry for stepping in at her sorting and making sure she ended up in Gryffindor. She knew that that was where she truly belonged.
"Now, where are the boys' dormitories," Harry whispered questionably to Ginny as he looked around.
"Are we sure Malfoy won't wake up?" Ginny said quietly as she tried to see if she could figure out which side the boys' dormitories were.
"I can do a couple of spells, silencing, notice me not," Harry muttered, "we should be okay whilst we curse his clothes. We just need to get there."
Ginny looked along with Harry between the two corridors, neither showing any hidden signs of which was the boys and which one was the girls.
"Do you think the Girls' corridors will have protection spells on it like the Gryffindor girls' staircase?" Ginny asked Harry.
"Almost positive," Harry asked.
"Indeed," Hermione said nodding. "It's written in 'Hogwarts: a History.'"
"Great," Ginny muttered.
"Well, I'll go check first," Ginny said walking over to the right hand side corridor. Carefully and quietly not make sure she wouldn't wake anyone, she walked down the corridor and came to the first door. She opened it carefully, trying to make little noise and be as quiet as possible. She carefully looked around, silver hangings drowsed the beds, making it hard to tell whether this was a girls or boys dormitory. Squinting, hoping her eyes would get used to the light she looked around, hoping to see maybe make-up or any clothing that would give the tell all sign which year and more importantly, which gender this room belonged to.
She tiptoed a little into the room, making sure that she wouldn't do anything to arouse the occupants of the beds when she saw a piece of clothing that told her which dorm this belonged to. She crept back out of the doom, carefully closing the door behind her, and quickly as she could, headed back to the common room.
"Any luck?" Harry asked her quietly.
"Girls," Ginny said her mind fleeting back to the bra she saw on the floor. "Either that or there are some really weird people in Slytherin."
"That's just a given, love," Harry joked as he turned to the other corridor and started to walk down it. Ginny's heart swelled just as it always did when he called her an affectionate name. She wished it would do so for a long time to come.
Ginny followed Harry down the corridor, Hermione behind her as she kept an eye on the map. Fred and George were finished in the library and were headed now towards the Great Hall. Ginny walked along until they found a door which was marked third years, and Harry slowly opened the door whispering incantations and spells.
"I've casted some privacy charms, they shouldn't hear us," Harry explained.
"Right," Ginny replied.
Harry and Ginny then made their way into the common room, carefully trying to make sure, even though they had privacy charms, not to wake the Slytherin boys. They reached Malfoy's bed, his Nimbus Two Thousand and One lying polished next to it.
"You know," Harry said quickly eyeing the broom. "I just thought of another prank." Ginny eyed the broom before looking back at Harry.
"Can you interfere with the broom's magic?" Ginny asked. "And don't do anything too drastic, we don't want to send him to the hospital wing."
"We don't?" Harry asked as his eyebrows rose.
"Well maybe we do," Ginny admitted, she still felt angry over the truth sweet incident, and the fact that he was causing Buckbeak trouble. "But we would get into serious trouble. More than normal, plus I know we hate Malfoy, but I remember what it was like at Christmas when your broom had that hurling hex."
"Don't worry," Harry said waving his wand and hand over the broom muttering spells, "It won't hurt him; in fact, it won't do anything to him."
Ginny shrugged in confusion; now wasn't the time to ask, she could ask later. After Harry had finished on the broom he quickly moved to Malfoy's clothes. This time Ginny helped him. They both muttered curses over clothes and undergarments. Ginny added a rather nasty curse to his underwear which would only slowly activate when it came in contact with human skin. After finishing up, the both of them quietly crept back out of the dormitory and back to the common room where they found Hermione waiting for them.
"How did it go?" Hermione asked nervously.
"Perfect," Harry said "In fact, we managed to cast another prank I was inspired to do."
"Malfoy is not going to be a happy snake tomorrow," Ginny said smiling. She would tell Harry what she had done to Malfoy's undergarments later. She hadn't been too vindictive had she? But after thinking about everything Malfoy had done to her, worry quickly evaporated. No, Malfoy deserved it, plus it wasn't anything dangerous or which would send him to the hospital, or well it wouldn't if he didn't leave it too long.
After announcing to Hermione that they were done, they quickly left the Slytherin common room, but was still slightly nervous for a couple of corridors before they truly felt that they had successfully left without anyone finding their presence. Hermione quickly led the way along the dungeons to the steps that led to the entrance hall.
"Right," Harry said turning to Hermione, "where's Filch?"
"Seventh floor," Hermione muttered before they heard a noise from grand stair case. They quickly turned before seeing Fred and George walking towards them smiling.
"Hello, you three," Fred said greeting them.
"Thanks for the heads up with Filch," George thanked them, "that would have been a problem. How did it go with the Slytherins?"
"Good," Ginny said, "And wait until you hear what we have done to Malfoy."
"Yeah, what did you do?" Harry asked her and Ginny just smiled innocently.
"Just wait until the morning," Ginny told them. "Trust me, it will be worth the wait."
The four them regarded Ginny for a second before moving on.
"Right," Harry said looking at them, "We've got the Hufflepuffs to do and the Ravenclaws. The Ravenclaw common room is in one of the other towers, so we will do that on the way back."
"So Hufflepuff common room," Ginny said nodding in agreement, "Where is it?"
"It's actually by the kitchens," Harry said smiling. "I guess that's where you guys are off to next?" Harry asked Ginny's brothers.
"Indeed," Fred said nodding.
"Food to spike," George said
"Drink to contaminate," Fred continued.
"Well," Hermione said, "What are we waiting for? We don't want to hang around in one place and risk getting caught!"
The five of them headed off to the same corridor that they saw the Hufflepuffs come from each morning. Hermione still looking out for Filch or any teachers that could possible catch them. They walked along a little while before they came to a portrait of a fruit of bowl.
"And here be the kitchens," Fred said.
"Where the slaves are, you mean," Hermione told them coldly.
"Why don't you come on in," George said smiling.
"Yeah, meet them," Fred said. "You'll soon understand that they like work. It's in their nature to do so, just as it's in the nature of a hippogriff to attack someone when insulted."
Hermione frowned at them.
"Just because they like doing work doesn't mean they shouldn't be paid to do so!" Hermione countered. "And it's all brainwashing anyway."
"No it's not," Harry said. "Just like Fred said, it's in their nature to like work. You like studying, what if someone said to you that you can't open a library book without permission or getting paid."
"That's entirely different," Hermione said intently, "I choose to enjoy doing that, the house elves don't choose to work."
"True, but what you need to do is simply make sure they get that choice. Not try and force them to make the choice you feel is best for them," Harry explained. "You have to understand, that they aren't human…"
"So because they aren't human, it's okay to enslave them!" Hermione hissed at him interrupting.
"I didn't say nor will I ever say that," Harry told her coldly. "Believe it or not I am on your side of the fence when it comes to house-elves. Like I was saying and please let me finish. They are not human, therefore they do not have the same beliefs or even the same customs as we humans do. You have to understand, they are a separate race, an intelligent race, which is why I am against enslaving them, which are not brainwashed. Their race is different to us humans and therefore like and do certain things different. What you need to do, is to start understanding their race and stop looking at them as humans. After you understood their race, rather than force your own view on them, you need to give them a choice. They're intelligent enough to make the choice once given it."
"Hmm," Hermione hummed thoughtfully, "It's still wrong what happens, but maybe you are right, I'm looking at them as humans. But they are still not treated right, look how Dobby was treated by the Malfoys!"
"Agreed," Harry told her. "You need further understanding; the house-elf situation is a lot more complicated than you realise. You need to understand both your point of view, and the point of view of the house-elves. Why don't you go with Fred and George, and rather than ask them why they are enslaved and tell them that they need to be free, maybe you should ask them what they enjoy so much about serving?"
"Well," Hermione said slowly, "I guess getting it from the house-elves themselves would be a good idea, good research. And I certainly don't want to insult them."
"There you go," Harry said nodding. "Plus you get to see how Fred and George convince them to cooperate and put the potions in the food."
"Too true," Fred said, "Now, how we do this is a secret only we two know. It was agreed upon from the very beginning that we wouldn't tell either Harry or Ginny, wasn't it George."
"Too right," George agreed, "Now we don't mind if you come along, but anything you happen to learn about how we do what we do must be kept to yourself and yourself only.
"Not even Harry or Ginny can know," Fred explained.
"I still think that's not right," Ginny objected, "We are your pranking partners!"
"Maybe one day little sis," George said. "Maybe one day."
"All right," Hermione agreed. "I promise not to tell Harry or Ginny."
Ginny and Harry glared at Hermione half-heartedly before sighing and waved them on. Ginny watched as one of her brothers tickled the pear in the portrait which turned into a door knob for them to pull. Turning back round she continued to follow Harry further along the corridor until they got to a shadowy stone recess on the right had side of the corridor, barrels laid there on their side filling up the space. Ginny watched Harry as he carefully counted the barrels.
"Two from bottom, middle of second row," Ginny heard Harry mutter to himself before Harry put his wand close to the barrel.
"Got to get this right," Harry said, "Don't want the security measure to back fire on us do we."
"Why don't you just ask Hogwarts to open up the common room for us like you did with Slytherin?" Ginny asked him, wandering what Harry was playing at.
"Because this is more fun," Harry tried to explain and before Ginny could stop him, Harry started to tap the barrel with his wand. It distinctively sounded to Ginny like 'Helga Hufflepuff' but she wasn't sure if that was correct.
Ginny watched in fascination as the barrel opened to reveal an earth passage way leading slightly upwards. Harry led the way and Ginny followed him as they walked through the passage and came into a low ceilinged room. The room was decorated in yellow and black, with the tables and doors which obviously led to the dormitories was made of honey-coloured wood that was obviously varnished quite regularly. Plants and flowers decorated the edge of the common room, with various cacti filled wooden shelves which was curved to fit the rounded common room. The roof held ivy and ferns that just reached Ginny's head, causing them to brush her hair as they walked further into the common room.
"Now," said a voice causing both Harry and Ginny to jump, "What is the meaning of this?"
A portrait of a woman had spoken to them; it hung over the mantel piece of the biggest fire. She had in her hand a golden cup which been embezzled with the image of a small badger.
"Hmm hi," Harry said startled. Ginny could tell he wasn't expecting a portrait to be in the common room or be awake. "Could you, hmm, not tell anyone we were in here?"
"I suppose as Gryffindor's heir," the woman said, "you could bind me not to say anything. I know who you two are. My Puffs have told me all about Harry Potter and his girlfriend Ginny Weasley. I suppose you're here to pull off some pranks on my unsuspecting students."
"Yes, we are," Harry said.
"Nothing harmful though," Ginny added hastily.
"Hmm, I remember the prank you pulled last April Fool's Day," the lady said as she eyed both Harry and Ginny.
"Yes, we agreed it was over the top," Harry explained, "We're not doing anything quite so, elaborate, this time."
"Oh," the woman said, "I was just about to say I quite enjoyed it, the common room was filled with badgers all day, and it was quite amusing. When they all changed back I told them to respect the magic you had cast, and not seek rectification. It's not what Hufflepuffs are about."
"I'm sorry," Ginny said frowning, "I'm not trying to be rude, but what is your name?"
"Oh dear lord," The lady said, "You are not trying to be rude? My dear child it was myself that failed to introduce who I am. I was the rude one. But please, allow me to make you my acquaintance. Helga Hufflepuff at your service."
Ginny's eye's widened in shock; this was one of the four founders, another portrait of them, just like Harry had of Godric Gryffindor in his bedroom at Potter Manor.
"Helga Hufflepuff!" Harry said quietly in shock. "Oh dear me, I'm very honoured to meet you."
"Pissh possh, stop that nonsense!" Helga Hufflepuff said waving her hand. "I told my Hufflepuffs and I'll tell you, I'm here to be a friendly companion, not someone to be worshipped. So please, just Helga."
"Helga, then," Harry said smiling, "Please be certain, we are not here to harm your students. Also, it won't affect their ability to study; we know just how important the Easter holidays are to O.W.L and N.E.W.T students. We just wish to bring cheer to this April the first."
"Oh, I'm not going to stop you," Helga said smiling, "And between you and me, most of my students enjoy your pranks anyway. They don't discriminate or attack, they are purely for fun. My Hufflepuffs recognise that. They won't be mad, so please continue."
"Thank you," Ginny said looking around at the common room. Ginny noticed that there were small round windows just level with the ground that surrounded the castle. She could see dandelions and rippling of grass in the moonlight. "This is rather a nice common room, much nicer than Slytherin."
"Oh, you have been there too tonight?" Helga asked, "Be glad you weren't caught, some of those Slytherins can be rather nasty. But I must say I am impressed. Did you know that you two are the first outsiders to ever grace the common room of Hufflepuff?
"Really?" Ginny said astounded, "I mean Hogwarts was founded over a thousand years ago…"
"Indeed," Helga said, "and you're the first non-Hufflepuffs to see inside the common room. How do you like it?"
"It is cosy," Ginny said looking around, "It reminds me of my home, the Burrow. You know, if I wasn't a Gryffindor, I wouldn't mind being a Hufflepuff purely because how homely this place is."
"Well, I'm very glad to hear that," Helga said smiling. "Now may I suggest you quickly do what you come here to do before one of my badgers wake up? Whilst we might get on the best with Gryffindors, I'm sure they won't be pleased with you for infiltrating their common room."
"Too right," Harry said before turning to Ginny, "You do one door and I'll do the other."
Ginny turned towards too doors embedded into the wall, it was obvious that these led to the two set of dormitories. Quietly, she moved over to one door and started to cast her spells. She eyed Harry quickly doing the same to the other door. It took them less time that it did at the Slytherin entrance, most notably because they had casting similar spells to what they done to the Slytherins and knew what to do better. After five minutes Ginny pulled back to see Harry watching her patiently. Smiling she stepped away from the door and over to Harry.
"All done," Ginny said to him, "Do you want to check?"
"No, no," Harry said taking her hand, "I trust you impeccably."
"Long word, Potter," Ginny said smirking, "Hermione taught you that one, did she?"
"As I matter of fact, yes," Harry mumbled causing Ginny to laugh quietly.
"You're one of a kind, Harry Potter," Ginny whispered before giving him a quick kiss.
"I love you," Harry told her and once again the warm feeling she always got when Harry spoke those three magical words swept through her body.
"And I you," Ginny replied smiling. "Come on, were done here, let's get out of here before we get caught." Harry agreed so they left the common room, saying a quick goodbye to the portrait of Helga Hufflepuff and quickly made their way back along the corridor towards the kitchens. They were waiting outside the portrait of the bowl of portrait for no more than a couple of seconds before Hermione, Fred, and George stepped out from the kitchens.
"So," Harry asked Hermione tentatively, "How did it go?"
"It's absolutely appalling," Hermione said. "Those uniforms, if you can call them that, they are forced to wear, they might like serving but there is still a lot that could be improved."
"Agreed," Harry said nodding, "So what did you find out? Anything helpful?"
"Well," Hermione said, "I did take your words to heart and didn't suggest they stop serving. But it really is slavery, whether they like it or not. They don't have a choice."
"So what are you going to do?" Harry asked her.
"Give them that choice," Hermione responded. "But if it's like how you explained that's a lot of work to do, do I have the time…"
"Let's not stand around here chatting," Ginny said rolling her eyes at Hermione. She really didn't get the fuss about the house-elves, it had always been that way for centuries, but she knew when Hermione got into something it was very hard to talk her out of it.
"Indeed," Harry said, "We've still got Ravenclaw tower to do. Fred, George, I believe you're off to Professor Snape's quarters?"
"Of course," Fred said nodding.
"Can't go through an April Fool's Day without pranking the snivelling git," George said.
"We will meet you back in the common room," Harry told the twins before turning to Ginny. "We now need to head to Ravenclaw Tower."
"I suppose you know where that is too?" Ginny asked him wandering just how Harry knew all these things. She knew however that Harry was planning on telling her. It was why she was learning Occlumency. She must put more effort into learning it. There were memories that she had been avoiding sorting because of the fact that was so scared to go through them. Harry had offered to be there for her through her most serious memories, mostly last year. It was the Easter holidays, now would be perfect time to sort through them. No classes or teachers to worry about for another week. Yes, maybe sometime next week she would sit down with Harry for the day and go through her terrible ordeal. It made the most sense.
"Of course!" Harry said smiling and Ginny took his hand.
"Lead the way then," Ginny told him.
Harry took Ginny's hand, and started to lead her through the corridors back to the entrance hall and the grand staircase, Hermione following behind with the Marauder's Map. Fred and George left them, saying that they could make their own way back after pranking Snape, and that afterwards they had some supplies to acquire.
Ginny followed Harry, Hermione just behind her through the corridors to the west side of the castle. They reached the fifth floor and started to walk along, the portraits either snoozing or pointing and whispering. In front of them Ginny saw a tightly winding spiral staircase. Curious, she followed Harry up and kept circling around until they came to a bronze knocker in the shape if an eagle.
"Give me food and I will live, but give me water and I will die, what am I?" the knocker stated.
"Wait, there's no password?" Ginny asked frowning.
"No," Harry said smiling, "You have to solve the riddle." Ginny saw Harry eye Hermione and she knew he didn't want to use his station as the heir of one of the four founders to gain entrance whilst Hermione was watching.
"Do you know what the answer to the riddle is?" Ginny asked Harry.
"Hmm, no," Harry said smiling uneasily.
"Oh honestly," Hermione said. "The answer is fire!"
"Well done, young lady," the knocker said before the door swung open to reveal the Ravenclaw common room.
"How did you expect to get in without me, I do not know," Hermione said as the three of them entered the common room.
The room, just like the Slytherin common room and the Hufflepuff common room, was decorated in its house colours. A midnight blue carpet sprinkled with silver stars covered the floor, with blue and silver wall hangings. The room itself was circular just like Gryffindor common room, owing to the fact, like its Gryffindor counterpart, it was stationed in one of the towers. The walls itself held rather large arch like windows giving a wonderful view of the surrounding mountain range that Hogwarts and its grounds was nestled in. Bookcases lined the walls with comfortable chairs and couches surrounded a very large fireplace. Opposite the entrance, there were two wooden doors where the dormitories obviously were. Beside the door on a plinth was a life-size statue or Rowena Ravenclaw, wearing, Harry noticed, a rather small crown-like object. On her hand were her wedding ring and the infamous engagement ring, the one Voldemort found and had used to make a Horcrux.
To the right of the dormitories was an archway leading towards a smaller library, type section, although to Ginny the entire tower seemed to be a library with the amount of books that lined the walls in the bookcases. It was only then did Ginny notice a single silhouette of a person sitting at the table smiling as she wrote along her parchment.
"Luna?" Ginny whispered quietly.
"Oh hello Ginny, Harry, Hermione," Luna said looking up at the sound of her name, "What brings you three to Ravenclaw tower?"
"Well," Ginny started wondering how to explain this to her.
"We're casting some pranks, April Fool's Day and all," Harry explained to her.
"Oh that's nice," Luna said smiling. "I rather enjoyed that last year. It was a very impressive bit of magic. Most Ravenclaws spent the evening after being changed back researching what you had done."
"I'm glad that we inspired so many people to study with our pranks," Harry said from Ginny's side.
"Oh yes," Luna said smiling, "You inspire quite a few people to do some research."
"Luna," Hermione said slowly looking around. "These books are just copies of books that are already in the main library aren't they?" she asked with a hopeful voice and Ginny knew that Hermione would be very disappointed if that wasn't the case.
"Well, yes, most of them," Luna said, "but we do have some very rare books that famous Ravenclaws have donated to our own library that aren't in the student body one. For example, there's this book about wards that we know isn't even available in the London Magical Library. The only other place and the only other copy of the book would be found at Gringotts and the goblins wouldn't look too kindly on witches and wizards coming up to them and asking after it."
"Don't you think it's unfair," Hermione began, "that the Ravenclaws get better privileges like that?"
"I'm sure each house gets better privileges in some thing or another, I know the Slytherins get better privileges in Potions," Luna explained.
"Well, we need to get casting these spells," Ginny said promptly changing the subject. It would not be good for Hermione and Luna to get in another disagreement. It seemed to be happening a lot since Luna joined their group of friends.
"Of course, if you need anything just say so," Luna said. "I need to get back to this anyway, my father rather liked my research into the Dabberblimps but I don't think I explored the habitual instincts of the creature fully, so I am sending him some more info on it so he can plan our summer exploration better."
"That's nice," Ginny said smiling before turning back to Harry who was oddly grinning like Christmas had come early, very early.
"Always did like Luna," Harry whispered to her.
"Yes," Ginny said shaking her head. Sometimes it just wasn't worth the bother to figure Harry out.
Together and carefully, the two of them, with Hermione watching the Marauder's Map and Luna sitting, smiling, doing her research, Harry and Ginny waved their wands and muttered incantations to finally cast the last of their pranks and to bring the Ravenclaws into the best celebrated day of the year. They were even quicker this time and before they knew it, it was time to leave the tower. They bade farewell to Luna and told her that she was more than welcome to sit with them at breakfast. Luna thanked them for the invite and said she would see them the next morning.
"Just Gryffindor tower to do now," Harry said yawning.
"Then sleep," Ginny said.
"Agreed," Harry muttered. "Casting spells with little sleep can cause you to come very tired. Plus we want to view our spells tomorrow, not sleep the day away."
They quickly made their way back to the Gryffindor tower, stopping only avoid Snape. They hid in a not well known secret passageway, where Hermione stood shaking with nerves. After Snape had passed they waited for a few minutes just in case the potion master retraced his steps before continuing along the corridors until they reached the familiar fat-lady. After giving the password they scrambled through the portrait hole where they saw Fred and George half asleep on the couch next to the extinguished fire. The twins woke up as Ginny and the other two walked towards them.
"All worked out?" Fred asked.
"Any problems?" George added.
"No, all g-g-good here," Harry said, stifling a yawn.
"Good, just one more to go," Ginny said tiredly. "Harry and I can do this. You three can go to bed."
George nodded as Fred and Hermione bade them goodnight and walked up their respective staircases. Harry and Ginny brought out their wands whilst casting spells which were quickly coming second nature to them and soon they were finished in record time.
"I'll see you in the morning then, love," Harry said as he walked over to Ginny just as she finished her own set of spells. He leant down and kissed her goodnight, sending once again shivers down her spine.
"Love you," Harry said as they pulled apart.
"Love you, too," Ginny yawned. Ginny turned and made the trek up the stairs to the second year dormitories. She swore that the staircase had been made longer. It took her longer than normal, being as tired as she was. She slipped into her dorm room to make sure she wouldn't wake up her dorm mates, and crept into her own warm bed. The warmth of the bed caused her to feel even more tired, if that was even possible. She had originally planned to occlude her memories of the night before she slept but she never even had the chance. She had fallen asleep before her head had even touched the pillow.
Harry awoke the next morning to loud shouting and exclamations coming from the common room. Harry quickly glanced at his cloak on the bedside table before moaning and pulling a pillow over his head. It was eight thirty. He had been asleep for only five hours. He wanted to sleep more. Groaning, he grabbed his nearest pillow and stuffed it over his head, trying to block out the sound. There were footsteps coming up to his dormitory and Harry lazily grabbed his wand from his bedside table and pointed it towards the door as it swung open.
"Friend or foe?" Harry said sleepily without even looking.
"Friend," Harry heard Neville's voice say and he looked up and couldn't help but give out a short burst of laughter. Neville's hair had changed colour from its normal dark brown. It was now luminous red on one half, and luminous gold on the other. Yes, that spell was definitely a good find.
"And how many friends do I have?" Harry said sitting up and stretching.
"More than you expect," Neville said. "Although I would hide from most of the girls, especially Lavender and Parvati."
"They haven't been too hard on Ginny have they?" Harry said seriously.
"Well," Neville started, "they were, until Ginny Bat-Bogey Hexed them. After that no one has had the courage to go after her. The twins though, they are in the common room enjoying the attention like always."
"Typical," Harry said getting up out of bed. "Let me take a shower and I'll be down, no point going back to sleep now."
After showing and dressing, Harry made his way down to the common room where various students, all with the same hair style as Neville, sat either talking or doing homework. Harry saw Ginny grinning like a mad cat, her hair luminous red and gold just like every other Gryffindor, sitting on their usual couch by the fire, looking over a piece of parchment.
"Hey," Harry greeted her as he went and sat down next to her on the couch and gave her a quick kiss good morning. "I heard there was a bit of a commotion with Lavender and Parvati."
"Well," Ginny started smiling up at Harry. "There was until I Bat-Bogey Hexed them."
"And here I thought you had found something better…" Harry said grinning.
"Well," Ginny said slowly, looking back down at the parchment in front of her. "Maybe I thought I'd save that for someone more deserving…"
"Or maybe," Harry said working it out, "you just said that as an empty threat to get us to toe the line." Ginny eyed Harry out of the corner of her eye whilst still reading the parchment.
"I have no idea what you mean," Ginny said smiling as she ticked a box. "But er, don't mention your theory to Fred and George."
"Don't worry," Harry said laughing, "My theory is just between you and me."
"Good," Ginny said kissing Harry once more. Harry looked down at the parchment Ginny was looking over and noticed it was her form for choosing her electives for the next year.
"So, what are you thinking of?" Harry asked and Ginny saw him looking at the parchment.
"Well it is quite simple, really," Ginny explained. "According to Ron Divination is a joke and an easy O, but I kind of want to be pushed. But I also don't want something too hard and having to find myself working all the time to understand what's going on in class. So I thought I would take Care of Magical Creatures, and Ancient Runes. That way if I get stuck, I can just ask for your help."
"Makes sense," Harry agreed.
"Hello, you two," Hermione said walking over to them. "I must admit, these pranks, although tamer than last year, are definitely better. I wasn't quite sure if you really meant that it wouldn't stop people from studying but it appears that I should have had more faith in you, although I haven't seen the library yet."
"Yes," Ginny said slowly, "Maybe you should avoid that for today, it won't stop people from studying, but you won't be exactly ecstatic with what we've done. Plus we really want to avoid Madam Pince."
"So are you just going to hide yourselves away in here for the whole day?" Hermione asked them.
"God no," Harry exclaimed. "It looks like spring is really in the air outside; I was going to take Ginny to do some flying!"
"Oh that sounds nice," Ginny said, "But we must go down to breakfast, remember we promised Luna we would be there."
"Ah yes, I had almost forgotten," Harry said standing up. Harry looked around and saw Neville and Ron walking over to them.
"Harry," Ron said grinning, "Nice pranks."
"Wait until you see what we did to Malfoy," Ginny smirked.
"Yes," Harry said "Will you tell me now what you did to him?"
"Nope," Ginny said smiling, "but I hope we see him. Maybe he will think about doing some flying later like we are."
"He can think all he wants," Harry muttered quietly to her. Malfoy really was going to be angry if he tried flying today.
"What did you two do to Malfoy?" Ron asked.
"Wait and see, Ron," Ginny said.
Together the five of them headed out of the common room, getting some thumbs up but also some glares from various dorm mates, and headed down to the Great Hall. As they walked in, they saw various students all from different houses, chatting quietly to one another, although the chatting got louder when Harry and Ginny arrived. The students at the Slytherin table were all glaring at them, their hair luminous silver and green, whilst at the Ravenclaw table there were students with books out, luminous blue and bronze hair covering their heads. The Hufflepuffs had luminous yellow on one side of their hair and pure black on the other.
Harry and the others made their way over to the Gryffindor table before sitting down and eating breakfast. Once they sat down Luna quickly joined them.
"Hello," Luna said smiling, "I love how all four houses decided to show their house pride and have their hair dyed their representative house colours."
"Sure, Luna," Harry said smiling. "I agree."
"Do you think they will have the courage to keep their hair like that all day?" Luna asked.
"I suspect so," Ginny smiled.
"What's the plan for today?" Ron asked smiling.
"We're going to the library first thing!" Hermione said.
"What!" Ron exclaimed, "Hermione, we've got another week for homework! We're not going to the library."
"We're not going to study," Hermione said, "Although you should, Ron, don't leave it to the last minute, but I want to see what prank was pulled in the library."
"You pranked the library?" Neville said to Harry whilst eyeing Hermione apprehensively. "Bit brave, aren't you?"
"Ah, Neville," Harry said smiling at him. "Are you not wondering how Hermione knew that considering we only just woke up and walked from the dormitory to the Great Hall?"
Neville frowned and then looked at Hermione and then frowned some more.
"Well actually, yes." Neville said confused.
"Do you want to tell them or shall I?" Ginny asked Hermione. Hermione looked at Ginny and then sighed in resignation.
"Maybe," Hermione began slowly, "they might have had a little help last night. Only a little, mind, and I am highly ashamed and cannot believe you managed to convince me to help. Just thank god I didn't actually cast any of the spells. Maybe if I'm caught they won't give me detention!" she added the last two sentence rather fast, her face flush with embarrassment.
"Let me get this straight," Ron said slowly as if his brain was still trying to process the information. "You helped Harry and Ginny pull a prank last night?"
"Helped pull all of them," Ginny said happily.
"Who are you and what have you done with Hermione Granger?" Ron asked her, aghast.
"It was your sister's fault!" Hermione said uneasily. "She dragged me along."
"Oh don't lie," Ginny countered. "I might have woken you up and dragged you into the common room, but it was you that decided to come along. What was it again? Something about being fascinated about the magic we use to pull the pranks?"
"Well, it was a learning experience watching you cast the charms, there are so many I want to go look up," Hermione said, "and if I so happen to see what George and Fred did to the library then so be it!"
Ron and Neville continued to stare in wonderment at Hermione.
"Mr. Potter," came the drawl of Severus Snape behind him and Harry turned around to look at his Potions Professor. Harry let out a gasp that sounded awfully like a hushed giggle. Professor Snape's hair was red and gold, and his robes were covered with lions. The Quidditch cup was in the middle of the chest with the words, 'Gryffindor for the Cup' in a semi-circle just above.
"Hi Professor," Harry said trying desperately not to burst out in laughter.
"I think fifty points and a week's detention will be perfectly acceptable, and that's just for your prank on myself. Oh, you are invited too, Ms. Weasley." Snape drawled.
"But we didn't do anything!" Ginny protested.
"You are telling me that my attire and the colourful hair on display had nothing to do with you!" Snape hissed at them.
"That's exactly what we are saying," Harry said lying. "And you know we always take credit for our pranks. No, this was someone else. We didn't do any of these pranks."
At that time Professor McGonagall was walking towards them. Harry watched as Snape glared at Ginny and then at Harry and then back to Ginny. McGonagall was closer now, striding purposely towards the Gryffindor table. Harry watched as Ginny frowned, her mouth moved open a little, as if she was trying to figure something out.
"Mr. Potter," McGonagall said as she arrived at the table. "Whilst I'm pleased to see that your prank hasn't interfered with the student ability to study like last year, pranking is still, against school rules."
"But we didn't do it," Harry said to his Head of House. "And we always take credit for the pranks we pull. You know that." McGonagall frowned in thoughtfulness before she was interrupted by Ginny.
"Professor, are you using Legilimency against me?" Ginny asked, causing Harry to whip his head around to see Snape glaring at Ginny, his eyes unblinking. Ginny herself was frowning and Harry immediately saw the tell-tale signs of a mental attack. Enraged, Harry stood up his wand already in his hand.
"Mr. Potter," Dumbledore said quietly to Harry as he walked over to them, "please calm yourself."
"Calm myself," Harry said angrily. "One of your professors is raping my girlfriend's mind!"
"We will get to the bottom of this Mr. Potter," Dumbledore said seriously. "Do you have anything to say, Severus?"
"The girl is lying," Snape said, sneering.
"I am not!" Ginny protested. "Harry is teaching me Occlumency, I can tell when someone is trying to access my mind. Although I can't block them at the moment."
"Do you know Occlumency is a controlled art by the Ministry," Snape sneered. "You do not have permission to learn it."
"On the contrary, Severus," Dumbledore said softly but with power. "As head of the Wizengamot I gave Harry here permission to teach Ginny. Now please, head towards my office, I will meet you there soon."
"Headmaster, Potter and his friends flouted the rules…" Snape began but was cut off by Dumbledore and Harry could tell a hint of anger had entered his voice.
"My office, Severus."
Maybe Snape could tell the hidden anger too, because rather than arguing, Snape simple turned and marched away out of the Great Hall.
"My apologies, Ms. Weasley," Dumbledore said, turning to Ginny. "I promise this incident will not be swept under a rug. I will see to it personally that action is taken. And Mr. Potter, whilst Professor Snape's actions are most displeasing, please restrain yourself from taking drastic actions. No points will be taken or any detentions served for your actions, Mr. Potter, and since there is no proof that any of you were the cause of today's pranks, no points or detentions will be handed out, now if you'll excuse me."
Dumbledore nodded to Harry and then to Ginny before walking away and out of the Great Hall and following his Potions master to his office.
"I apologise, Ms. Weasley, for my colleague's actions," Professor McGonagall said. "I hope you don't judge all of us on his behaviour."
"Thank you," Ginny said quietly. "And no, Professor, I know not all of you are like that."
"Good," Professor McGonagall said, "Now if you'll excuse me, I think someone should be fighting the student's side of this in that office."
Harry watched Professor McGonagall march her way out of the Great Hall. Harry took Ginny's hand.
"Are you okay?" Harry asked her quietly.
"Yes," Ginny responded. "He didn't see anything; I noticed it as soon as he started. He stopped as soon as I called him out on it. He didn't have time to search for anything."
"He should be fired!" Hermione said outraged. "I've just lost all respect for that man."
"You had respect for him!" Ron said shocked.
"As a teacher it's obvious he had earned respect somehow." Hermione explained. "But attacking a student like that. Is that what you two have been up to when you're alone, teaching Ginny Occlumency?"
"Among other things," Harry said. "We've only really just been starting on Occlumency this past month."
"Well, I'm pleased," Hermione said.
"Ginny," Harry said catching his girlfriend's attention. "Are you seriously okay?"
"I'm okay," Ginny said. "It just, reminded me of Tom and what he did to me last year."
"I'll kill him," Ron said.
"Don't be stupid, Ron," Hermione said "You don't know enough and you'll be expelled."
"I know enough, though," Harry said darkly.
"Yes, but we don't want you to be expelled either," Hermione said.
"Fine," Harry said. "Let's get out of here. We should go flying, Ginny, take our minds off things."
"That's an excellent idea," Ginny said. smiling.
"Do you mind if we come?" Ron asked.
"Possibly," Ginny said. "If you're lucky we might let you borrow one of our brooms."
"Really?" Ron asked in shock, his eyes lighting up in excitement.
"Well, not mine," Ginny said quickly. "But I'm sure Harry will let you borrow his."
"You're an excellent sister, you know that," Harry drawled.
"I'm an even better girlfriend," Ginny said, standing up.
"Sometimes I have to question that," Harry muttered under his breath as he stood up too.
"What was that, Harry?" Ginny asked lightly.
"I love you?" Harry said questionably.
Ginny laughed softly before taking his hand and they walked together, the others following behind them as they walked along the hallways. Harry had noticed that since he had started to teach Ginny Occlumency that she had become more relaxed, more trusting in their relationship. They both knew that there were secrets to tell, and Harry still wondered what Ginny's reaction would be. He hoped Ginny would give him enough time to explain the Chamber of Secrets fully but he was glad that Ginny was starting to trust in their love for one another.
"I call dibs on the first ride," Ron said excitedly after Ginny and Harry had grabbed their own brooms. Ron carried his own Nimbus Two Thousand that Harry had given him after receiving the Firebolt from Sirius over his shoulder.
"Ron," Ginny sighed. "You have a Nimbus Two thousand, given you by Harry. The others are just on school brooms; let the others have a go."
"Well," Neville said uneasily. "After my flying lesson, I'm not sure I want to have a go. So I don't mind Ron taking my go first."
"I'm not too keen on flying either," Hermione said.
"You both need to learn," Harry said resolutely.
"It's not that hard," Ginny said, "and the feeling of being free; it's the most wonderful feeling in the world." Harry coughed slightly, gaining Ginny's attention.
"After kissing Harry, of course," she added swiftly.
Luna re-joined them in the entrance hall and the small group of third and two second years walked down the lawns of Hogwarts and towards the Quidditch pitch. Gladly, the sun had started to warm the air around the Scottish mountains and the temperature was pleasantly warm. They asked Luna what classes she was thinking of taking and she said quite confidently that she couldn't possibly not sign up for Care of Magical creatures after her and her father's research into the matter, although she hadn't decided on what her other elective would be. She was also pleased when Ginny told her that she could borrow her broom and have a go at flying.
"Thank you," Luna had responded and then went on a tirade about one of the imaginary creatures this month's Quibbler had reported on. Ginny listened along with Harry, who was smiling at the care free attitude of Luna. This was what he was fighting for. For the right to have Ginny, Luna, and all his friends be care free for as long as possible.
For a couple of hours they flew around the stadium, taking turns on the Firebolt, although neither Neville nor Hermione touched it. However, Harry did manage to get them to try on a school broom. Once Neville was up in the air he started to become more confident and was drifting slowly around. Hermione, on the other hand, was a bit more problematic.
"No," Hermione resolutely said. "I will not fly on a broom stick! I like my feet firmly on the ground!"
"Well that's good, Granger," drawled the voice of Malfoy from behind the group and Harry turned around to see the Slytherin Quidditch team walking onto the pitch. He was sure that no one had booked the pitch that day but truth be told they had been flying for a couple of hours now and there was no need to have a confrontation, but he was going to stick around to laugh at Malfoy. "I doubt a Mudblood like you would be any good with flying anyway."
"I doubt a Squib like you could even get a broom to work," Harry said smiling.
"I'm one of the best flyers in the school, Potter!" Malfoy hissed at him.
"Is that what your daddy's money says, is it?" Ginny retorted.
"Watch your mouth, Weaslette," Malfoy said.
"Or what?" Harry said, bringing out his wand and twirling it around in his fingers. Everyone on the pitch waited anxiously to see what would happen before Harry sighed and put his wand back up his sleeve and turning to the others. "Come on, let's leave them alone. Unlike us, the Slytherin team actually needs the practise to stand a chance."
"We will win that cup, Potter," hissed Flint.
"And how do you expect to do that?" Harry asked. "I'm pretty sure we beat you back in November. Yes, my memory is correct, we did beat you and then Ravenclaw in February. We only need to win versus Hufflepuff to get the cup which you unfairly won last year."
"The best team won," Malfoy drawled.
"Yeah because Gryffindor played all three matches," Harry said sarcastically.
"Well," Malfoy said smiling, "That wouldn't be our fault would it? The fault blames to the person standing on your left."
Harry pointed his wand at the face of Malfoy, his anger rising.
"Really Malfoy, watch what you say next," Harry threatened.
"Come on, let's go," Hermione said to the others. "Leave them, it's not worth it."
"Listen to the Mudblood, Potter!" Malfoy said laughing.
Whoosh! A spell whizzed past Harry and hit Malfoy in his face as Harry recognised the yellow hint of the Bat-Bogey Hex. Harry turned his head slightly to notice Ginny smiling.
"One would think after the amount of times we have cursed and pranked you after each time you use that word, you would have learnt by now," Ginny said.
"I think it's the inbreeding," Harry smiled as he watched Malfoy try and swat away the bogeys which were now chasing after his face. After laughing at the sight, Harry indicated to his friends that they should leave and laughing they walked out of the stadium.
"Right, want to see our next prank?" Harry said smiling as he quickly indicated that they should go sit in the stands. Intrigued, his friends followed Harry and Ginny as they walked up the staircase to the seating around the stadium to watch the show. Once they had seated themselves they saw that the Slytherin team had gathered around Flint who was giving a team speech. Harry saw Malfoy shift uncomfortably and reach down to his backside and shift his underwear slightly. That was not a site he really wanted to see. Harry suddenly heard and felt Ginny, who was leant against him, giggle.
"Hmm," Harry said looking at Ginny confused, "what did you do to Malfoy's underwear?"
"Moi?" Ginny said in fake surprise. She then giggled again and snuggled into Harry's side. "Maybe I'll explain later, if we don't get to find out today." Harry, deciding that was good enough let it lie.
"Oh, they are finally starting to fly!" Luna said as the two Slytherin Beaters took to the air. One by one the Slytherin team took the sky until Malfoy was the last one. Harry watched eagerly as he mounted his broom, looked skywards, and kicked off. Malfoy reached about thirty centimetres off the ground, before falling flat on his face. The row of seats Harry and his friends were sat in roared with laughter as Flint shouted at Malfoy to stop messing about. Harry and Ginny watched eagerly as Malfoy frowned before once again mounting his broom and kicking off. Harry swore Malfoy went five centimetres more this time than in his previous attempt before Malfoy crashed landed in a heap on the pitch. Laughter once again rang from Harry and his friends.
"What did you do?" Ron said between laughs as Malfoy looked up at them glaring in anger.
"Officially?" Harry asked. "Nothing."
"Unofficially?" Hermione asked gently.
"Well, his broom might not work for him for most of today, maybe even some of tomorrow either," Harry said smiling.
"You will get in so much trouble," Hermione said worried.
"No, we won't," Ginny said smiling. "We talked about this before I grabbed you last night. Whilst eventually we will lay claim these pranks, we decided that none of us actually have the time for detentions, nor do we want to risk losing the house cup to Slytherin after all the points we would lose from our pranks today."
"So we decided that we won't official claim these pranks as ours. Officially the ghosts will have only pulled one prank today." Harry continued.
"But unofficially, this was you, right?" Neville asked intrigued.
"Who else do you think is smart enough or powerful enough to interfere with Malfoy's broom?" Harry said joyfully.
"I think that's very clever," Luna said.
"Thank you, Luna," Harry laughed. "Come on, we've watched enough." And sadly, because they really wanted to sit and watch Malfoy jump onto the pitch over and over, they made their way down the stairs and back to the castle for lunch.
"Did you also notice that there was something up with Malfoy before he got onto the broom?" Hermione asked the group once they sat down at the Gryffindor table. "There was something wrong with his backside."
"Why are you looking at Malfoy's butt?" Ginny teased. "Is there something you want to tell us?"
"Eww, no," Hermione said outraged whilst Ron spit out a mouthful of food over his plate. "But there was something wrong. And Ron, that was disgusting."
"Correct," Ginny said smiling.
"Don't even bother asking her," Harry said. "She won't even tell me what she did!"
The group ate lunch in peace, smiling at their luminous hair every now and then whilst enjoying scrumptious steak and kidney pie. Their peaceful lunch however was interrupted when Professor McGonagall walked over to them.
"Mr. Potter, would you and your friends come with me please," she said, her voice indicating that someone was in trouble.
"Sure, Professor!" Harry said smiling as they all got up and followed Professor McGonagall out of the Great Hall and out of the doors and back out into the grounds and then down the lawns where Professor Dumbledore, Professor Snape and Malfoy with his Quidditch broom were waiting.
"You will be expelled this time, Potter!" Snape sneered.
"Empty threat considering I haven't done anything, although after what you did to my girlfriend earlier I'm surprised you still have a job!" Harry said angrily at him.
"That's enough, Mr. Potter!" Dumbledore said severely and Harry was caught by surprise just how angry Dumbledore seemed to be.
"I'm sure you know why you have been brought here," Snape said. "Interfering with a fellow student's broom is a rather serious offence."
"Something is wrong with Malfoy's broom?" Harry asked innocently.
"You have a chance to admit what you have done now," McGonagall said gently, "and the punishment won't be quite so serious."
"But we haven't done anything," Harry reiterated.
"Mr. Malfoy's broom has stopped working!" Snape clarified.
"How?" Harry asked. "Interfering with a broom's magic is difficult, removing the broom's magic altogether is almost downright impossible."
"And we all know that you're quite the expert in doing the impossible, wandless spells, surviving the Killing Curse," Snape explained. "We all know what day it is today, but this prank has gone too far!"
"We haven't pulled any pranks today!" Harry said "and you will find it difficult to prove otherwise. Also, how do you know Mr. Malfoy is not lying?"
"Mr. Malfoy showed us that the broom is not working twice," McGonagall explained.
"And how do you know he isn't faking it just to try and get us into trouble?" Ginny asked. "I mean, has someone else tried to ride his broom? He could be falling onto the ground on purpose!"
"Ms. Weasley makes an excellent point," Dumbledore said. "Maybe someone else should try the broom?"
"You can't be seriously entertaining their excuses, Headmaster!" Snape almost shouted.
"As always it is innocent until proven guilty, Severus," Dumbledore explained. "And I, for one am intrigued to see if the broom is really faulty or if it's just Mr. Malfoy trying to get his fellow students into trouble. Mr. Smith?"
Dumbledore called out to a student walking by and Harry saw Zacharias Smith of Hufflepuff turn and start walking towards them with his friends.
"Professor Dumbledore?" Smith asked as he reached the group.
"We were wondering if you could help us settle a small dispute," Dumbledore explained.
"Certainly, Headmaster," Smith said sticking his chest out, proud that the headmaster had called on him.
"We were wondering if you could fly this broom," Dumbledore explained. "You will get fifty points for Hufflepuff if you try and sixty if you succeed."
"For flying the broom?" Smith asked.
"Correct," Dumbledore said smiling.
Smith looked at the broom before shrugging and walked over to Malfoy, who reluctantly handed over the broom. Harry smiled as Smith mounted the broom and kicked off gently. The broom started to fly through the air. Smith did two circles of the group and then landed perfectly on the lawn before handing Malfoy his broom back.
"Thank you, Mr. Smith," Dumbledore said smiling, "Sixty points to Hufflepuff."
"But!" Malfoy explained in shock.
"But nothing," Professor McGonagall said tartly, "Fifty points from Slytherin for lying and purposely trying to get your fellow students into trouble. Mr. Potter, I'm sorry to have bothered you and your friends, if you would like to follow me back to the castle?"
"But my underwear!" Malfoy shouted at them.
"What on earth are you going on about, Mr. Malfoy?" McGonagall asked.
"My underwear!" Malfoy started to explain. "They keep shrinking!"
Harry fought back the laughter as he felt Ginny shudder with silent giggles next to him. So that is what Ginny did? Boy he never wanted to get on Ginny's vindictive side.
"Your underwear keeps shrinking?" Professor McGonagall asked.
"Yes!" Malfoy said as he moved uncomfortably. "I've had to change them three times already so far today! But they keep shrinking! It's painful."
"Maybe if you change them before they get that small?" Ginny suggested half-heartedly.
"See," Malfoy said angrily "I told you they did it!"
"I was merely making a suggestion on how he could avoid discomfort!" Ginny explained. "That wasn't a confession; we didn't do anything, for we all know he could be lying about his underwear also."
"Correct," Dumbledore agreed. "That was not a confession. There is no proof that Mr. Potter or Miss Weasley or any of their friends are responsible for anything that has gone on today."
"Headmaster!" Snape cried.
"I think we are done now?" McGonagall said before turning to Harry and his friends. "If you would like to follow me?"
Harry and the others happily agreed and followed the Gryffindor Head of House as she directed them back up the lawns. When they reached the Great Hall Professor McGonagall turned to them.
"Mr. Potter, Ms. Weasley, I have something delicate to discuss with you in my office if you would like to follow me, the rest of you, please enjoy the rest of your lunch." McGonagall said to them.
Harry and Ginny looked at one another, neither knowing why the professor would need to talk to them privately. Saying goodbye to their friends they followed the professor through the halls until they reached her office. Walking in they found it airily and light, parchments of students' homework stacked neatly on the desk. McGonagall indicated them to sit down in the two chairs in front of her desk.
"Do not worry, neither of you are in trouble," McGonagall began whilst smiling at them. "However, I feel it is my duty to inform you that Professor Snape has been put on probation due to his actions this morning against Ginny."
Wait, probation? Harry thought, his mind reeling. Dumbledore was actually taking action against the Death Eater?
"Seriously?" Harry asked. "I mean we all know Dumbledore is loyal to Snape…"
"Indeed," McGonagall said nodding. "But it appears that today Professor Snape has taken Dumbledore's blind faith in him a step too far. Dumbledore was furious with him after this morning. Like I said, he has been put on probation. He will be judged not only on his, shall we put it, abuse of authority, but also his teaching methods."
"I cannot tell you how long I have been campaigning against that monster," McGonagall continued. "His blatant abuse of power and favouritism of his own house has caused far too much damage that is quite hard to see from your perspective, but to shed some light. Aurors, which you may know from Mr. Longbottom, are dark wizard catchers and law enforcers, although there are normal law enforcer sections as well in the Ministry. To become an Auror you need an Outstanding N.E.W.T. in Potions, as well as becoming a new law enforcer. Sadly, because of Professor Snape's teaching methods only a handful of select students ever decide to stay onto N.E.W.T potions, all from Slytherin house. This has caused applicants for both the Healers and Aurors to be almost non-existent since he became the Potions Professor. But it appears that the Headmaster is overlooking this."
"What I would like to ask of both of you is that if Professor Snape does anything unsavoury towards you or your friends please come and find me. I think it is high time something is done so that Potions stops being a torture class for non-Slytherins."
Harry frowned about what the professor was trying to do. He knew it was a good cause and heaven forbid what Potions would be like with a decent professor teaching. The reason Harry hadn't done anything with Snape before was because he wanted to keep the timeline in tact so that come end of next year he would meet Voldemort as planned, weakened and at his most vulnerable. How much would firing Snape now alter the timeline? He had wanted to keep the timeline as close as possible in order to be able to predict and counter Voldemort's movements. With Snape gone would he still be able to?
Harry thought about it and truth be told he couldn't see how getting rid of Snape now would alter things too much. Pettigrew would soon get tired of chasing after Harry and failing, so he would go off to Voldemort like last time, as he had nowhere else to go. How would having Snape fired alter that? Snape wasn't the kind of person to chase after Voldemort in Albania. He would sit and wait like Lucious Malfoy. He wouldn't affect the timeline at all in that regard. Harry couldn't see how it would be a problem. Maybe having a decent Potions teacher would be nice for once. He had quite enjoyed Potions the year Slughorn taught the subject.
No, he decided he would talk to the headmaster. He wasn't quite sure how he would react, but he was sure that Snape being fired wouldn't alter the timeline of next year if he managed to persuade Pettigrew to go after Voldemort.
"Harry?" Ginny asked quietly and Harry came out of his thoughts to see Ginny and Professor McGonagall looking at him intently.
"I'll help gather the memories, how much do you think this will help in persuading the headmaster?" Harry asked McGonagall.
"I've done this with the headmaster before," McGonagall told them. "I have gathered evidence against that Professor Snape for a while. Each time I show the headmaster he simply says that he will speak to Professor Snape but nothing changes. No this time, I will be giving the memories to the board of governors. I would never have tried before with Lucius Malfoy on the board but he resigned last summer for unknown reasons."
"I'll help gather memories, but please go to the headmaster first," Harry said gently. "I'd think you'll find he will be more understanding this time." McGonagall looked at Harry closely.
"What are you not telling me, Mr. Potter?" McGonagall asked.
"Nothing," Harry said, "but even you admitted Dumbledore has never put him on probation, maybe this time will be different?"
"Possibly," McGonagall said. "Very well, I will order a Pensieve this very evening. God knows how much they cost."
"I can help with that if you want," Harry suggested. "Just owl Sirius and say that it's to try and get Snape fired. He would be more than willing to help."
"Very well," McGonagall said smiling, "but not a word to anyone else about this. Your closest friends obviously need to know so we can have more than just your two perspectives but none else. I do not wish for Severus to find out what I am up to."
Harry and Ginny left McGonagall's office and started to walk the long walk back through the castle and towards the Great Hall in order to join the rest of their friends for lunch. Ginny walked beside him, her hand gently holding his.
"Can you imagine what Hogwarts would be like without Snape?" Ginny asked, "Heck, potions might actually be a fun lesson to learn!"
"We're getting ahead of ourselves here, love," Harry told her. "We're not even sure that Snape will get fired."
"Yeah, but it's nice to dream isn't it? To have hope?" Ginny said smiling.
"Yes, it is," Harry agreed.
They continued to walk along the corridors as they envisioned a Potions class where Slytherin didn't sabotage your potions and got away with it, where they were held accountable for the dangerous practise of putting unwanted ingredients in the potions of Gryffindor students. It was a very happy dream, one Harry would be glad to see, he just hoped that Dumbledore would listen to him about Snape. He should, but his prior attitude when it came to Snape in the past gave Harry a little bit of doubt. He just hoped Dumbledore trusted his future-self memories.
Once they got to the Great Hall they sat down with the others and started to eat their lunch, the discussion was about the pranks of the day.
"I think the best one had to be Malfoy's broom!" Neville argued.
"I don't know," Ron said between mouthful of food, "Ginny's prank on his underwear was rather fitting, close fitting mind, but fitting."
"I liked the hair," Luna said airily.
"I do too," Harry said agreeing. "Although you guys haven't seen the library yet."
"We will after lunch," Hermione said. "And if you have harmed any of the books!"
"We promise we haven't, Hermione," Harry said.
It was a rather quick lunch whilst Hermione was all glaring at them hoping they would hurry up and finish so she could go inspect her precious library. Harry and Ginny were the last to finish, a combination of arriving late and the dreaded anticipation of how Hermione would react to what the twins had done to the library.
It was Hermione who led the way out of the Great hall and up the grand staircase to the fourth floor. She marched with a purpose. The closer they got to the library the more nervous Harry and Ginny became.
"Just remember it was Fred and George who did this!" Ginny said as they turned the corner.
"Yeah it was totally those two!" Harry said quickly and Ginny glared at him at how quickly he agreed with her.
"Oh no, I know you had something to do with this," Hermione said. "I'm pretty sure it was original planned for you two to do the library but you passed it off onto Fred and George. I remember you swapping pranks."
Ginny gave Harry another glare. Obviously she blamed him for Hermione figuring it out, it wasn't like it was his fault! She was the one that invited Hermione along.
"Just remember we're friends!" Harry said cautiously.
"For now," Hermione said teasingly as they turned the corner and saw the library doors in front of them. Hermione strode towards the doors, and opened them up and stepped through, Harry and Ginny following along after the others have moved inside.
Inside, the library looked slightly different. Fred and George had decorated it with floating Easter bunnies, the book cases were different colours of the rainbow and little patches of grass were on the floor here and there. By the main desk there was a giant stand of another Easter bunny magically handing out pieces of parchment. Frowning, Hermione went over to the bunny and took the parchment it gave her.
"It's a clue…" Hermione said looking at the parchment.
"Well," Fred said from behind Harry causing him to jump. "You can't have Easter without a scavenger hunt now, can you?"
"It's not Easter Sunday yet," Harry pointed out.
"Details, Harry," George said from beside his twin.
"Sadly as we were the ones who did the clues we can't exactly do the hunt," Fred said.
"Too right," George agreed, "That would be unsporting, that would."
"What do you get at the end of it?" Neville asked.
"Chocolate?" Ron asked eagerly thinking with his stomach.
"Chocolate? Seriously, do you want Madam Pince to kill us?" Fred exclaimed.
"Speaking of which, where is the librarian?" Ginny asked.
"Well, after spending all morning trying to get rid of the hunt…" Fred said.
"Which was not in the holiday spirit at all." George said.
"Too right, George."
"Thank you, Fred."
"She decided to go complain to the headmaster," Fred continued. "Who is currently out for a long walk along the grounds and no one really knows where he is, according to McGonagall."
"So she will be awhile," George said.
"So if you wish to have a go and see if you can reach the prize at the end, be our guest." Fred finished.
"I'm really looking forward to this," Ginny said her eyes gleaming. "We don't know what the clues are. We planned on making them up while we got here. But since Fred and George did it we don't know the clues. What is the first clue, Hermione?"
"Which famous Muggle station was built in 1852?" Hermione read aloud.
"How on earth are wizards and witches meant to know that?" Ron asked. "How hard are these clues?"
"Oh Ron," Hermione said sighing. "Not even Fred and George would do something like that. And it was King Cross station!"
"Oh right," Neville said "But where's the next clue?"
"In must be in the section about nine and three quarters," Hermione said smiling.
"Where's that?" Luna asked.
"This way," Hermione said as she led the six of them through the library to the section on Kings Cross station. Sure enough, stuck to the shelf what held various books on the station, was stuck another piece of parchment with the next clue.
"I cry in the face of rain." Luna said to the others as she read the parchment.
"Cry in the face of rain?" Hermione asked, thinking allowed.
"Well, what could that be?" Ron asked, "it's not like rain is hurtful!"
"Well crying could mean something else, I mean someone cries out in shock or sometimes in warning…" Hermione said thinking.
"So what cries in the face of rain?" Ginny asked.
"Oh," Harry said remembering something Estelle told him. "Auguery!"
"Bless you," Neville said.
"No, silly," Luna said "Auguery are cousins of the phoenix. They cry out in warning when rain comes. Although some people say hearing it means death too. I wouldn't want to test it out."
"I guess they would be in the area about phoenixes then? If they are cousins of them?" Hermione said. "I think that's back this way."
Hermione led them to the next clue and soon all six of them was eagerly walking around the library, looking up and finding information and valuable clues to the next location they had to find. All in all it was rather fun. Two hours later they had found yet again another clue.
"Closer to the end you are, with just a few more to go. Read my warnings closely or surely failure will follow. I am not a spell or an object but I will save you from most curses. But be wary, too much of me can become quite hairy."
"Oh I'm going to kill Fred and George!" Ginny hissed.
"Why?" Ron asked.
"It's murtlap!" Ginny said as she folded her arms angry and bothered.
"Well, not everyone will remember that," Harry said smiling knowing that she was angry that her brothers had brought up her instance from her defence lesson. "It's not like you really had to shave your ears, did you?" he added the last part hesitantly.
"No, I damn well didn't, Harry Potter!" Ginny said playfully hitting him.
"So where is the section on murtlap?" Ginny asked
"I'm shocked you don't know already, love," Harry said in mock shock.
"Last warning, Potter!" Ginny growled out.
"It's this way," Hermione said once again leading them through the library, passing other students, who also had found the scavenger hunt and was following the clues the six of them had figured out earlier. "I must say I'm impressed with today. The pranks have been rather impressive bits of magic."
"Thank you," Harry said. "And on the plus side, none of them interfere with student's ability to study."
"True," Hermione said as they came to the section and Ginny grabbed the next clue.
"At the end of the road you are, with just one more clue to unlock," Ginny stated as she read the parchment. "The team of twelve o three are unique in a distinctive way, for no man can say he played in the teams own special way."
"No man can say?" Neville said "So there's a Quidditch team no one has played for? Great Quidditch team that is!"
"It's a riddle, it doesn't have to mean literally," Ron said thinking.
"I got it!" Ginny exclaimed grinning.
"Wait, no I'm the Quidditch expert!" Ron said moaning.
"Fine then, name the team that no man has played for," Ginny said emphasizing the word man.
"No man," Ron said thinking allowed. "Wait no man, but women… the Holyhead Harpies!"
"Just only my favourite team, founded in 1203," Ginny said rolling her eyes. "and yet again the supposed Quidditch expert gets shown up by his younger sister."
"Shut it you," Ron said, "The quidditch section is this way."
"I'm not sure I should be surprised you actually know some part of the library and your way to it, or not be surprised that you know everything there is to know about Quidditch, including the section in the school library!" Hermione stated.
"Well, I need to keep myself entertained somehow when you drag us in here almost every day," Ron said as he led them around a corner.
"You are meant to be studying!" Hermione scolded him.
"Well, I knew I was forgetting something!" Ron shot back, "and anyway I'm studying Quidditch. It was you who failed to specify what subject I was meant to study."
Together they walked along the hallways between stacks of books as they headed towards the section on Quidditch. As they got closer they saw others whispering with noted in their hands excitingly looking towards the row containing the information about the Holyhead Harpies.
"It should be down this aisle," Ron said as they walked between two stacks. In the middle were three people, Cho Chang, Roger Davis and Grant Page, who Harry recognised as the Ravenclaw Keeper.
"Wouldn't doing your own scavenger hunt count as cheating?" Roger Davis asked as he saw Harry and Ginny following behind Ron.
"It would but Fred and George set this up, we didn't have any input in the clues," Harry said smiling, "It's been fun!"
"True," Cho said, "Although the hair…"
"What is it with girls and their hair!" Harry asked Ginny standing next to him.
"Well," Ginny said thoughtfully. "It's one of the main ways we attract boys, the style of our hair!"
"If girls want to attract boys it's not the hair they need to show off but rather what's on their chest!" Roger Davis said causing Cho to hit him over the head.
"I can't believe you just made that comment!" Cho said.
"Moving on, you guys want the next clue?" Roger Davis said quickly.
"I thought the last one was the last clue?" Neville said. "That what the clue said."
"Did it?" Roger Davis asked. "I wasn't paying attention."
"Yeah, you were too busy starring at Cho's ass," Grant Page said.
"It's a sexy ass!" Rodger Davis said in his defence.
"You're a pig!" Cho said "Why I even agreed to go to the next Hogsmeade weekend with you I have no idea."
"Because I'm good looking," Rodger Davis replied.
"Well the date is off; finish the scavenger hunt on your own!" Cho said walking off.
"Cho?" Rodger called out after her as Cho walked away. "Cho?" he repeated as he walked after her.
"I'd better go after them," Grant Page said "Sorry about that."
"Well, that was weird." Neville said after the three Ravenclaws left them.
"So, what do we get for finishing the hunt?" Luna asked.
"Well," Harry said looking around, "I can't see any Easter Eggs."
"If Fred and George left Easter Eggs, do you really think Madam Prince wouldn't have confiscated them?" Hermione asked.
"Well I suppose so," Harry said shrugging. "But we haven't found the book on the Holyhead Harpies yet!"
"But there's so many of them," Ron said frowning. "Which one is the right one?"
"Well, which shelf?" Ginny asked.
"This one," Ron said as he walked over and pointed to the third from bottom.
"Well, maybe we should try removing the books," Harry said as he crouched down and gently started to remove the books from the shelves. His idea was spot on, as behind the books was hiding a bowl of sweets. However, once he saw the sweets, Harry frowned. He recognised them easily. They were obviously early prototypes of Ton-Tongue Toffees. Remembering a memory his future-self had sent back of his cousin eating one of them he respectfully refused to eat one.
"Go on, Harry, take one," Ron said as he unwrapped his sweet. Ginny was eyeing hers wearily.
"Fred and George left them here, Ron. Fred and George!" Harry reminded him. "Sure whatever they do will probably be quickly countered by Madam Pomfrey, but I bet whatever they do will still send you to the hospital wing."
"Hmm, they won't actually hurt you seriously, I don't think," Neville said. "I mean Fred and George aren't like that. But heck, maybe whatever they do will get you out of a Potions lesson or something."
"Neville!" Hermione said outraged.
"You know what," Harry said thinking, "That's not a bad idea." Harry quickly grabbed a handful and stuffed them into his pocket for later.
"Harry!" Hermione rounded onto him.
"What?" Harry said innocently as Ginny and the others quickly grabbed a few too.
"You know, I don't recognise these from Zonko's," Ron said as they started to head out of the library, passing a rather irritated looking Madam Prince at her desk.
"Where else could they have gotten them from?" Ginny asked eyeing hers.
"Maybe they made them?" Harry hinted.
"Then they could possibly do anything," Neville said uneasily.
"Oh goody," Luna said dreamily from beside him. "I always did like surprises."
The rest of the day was spent wondering what the sweets did. Ron and Neville kept trying to persuade the other to test them out but neither were willing to test them themselves. Harry, who didn't want Ginny to be annoyed at him when she found out he knew what the sweets did, kindly and quietly told her what they did. After that she herself, although intrigued on how Harry knew, gave her sweet to someone else and then spent the rest of the day trying to persuade Ron to eat his. Eventually Ron relented, an hour before dinner. Hermione had scolded him but Ron himself moaned around his new length tongue that he was getting hungry and how did he know what they would do. Neville and Ginny laughed at him good heartedly all the way to the hospital wing. Harry noticed that Ron wasn't the only one with six inch tongues. Other students was sitting on the hospital beds as Madam Pomfrey with her wand was walking around to them, shrinking their tongues down to size. It was a few minutes before Madam Pomfrey reached Ron.
"Even pranking your friends, Mr. Potter," Madam Pomfrey said as she waved her wand and cast the Shrinking Charm.
"I do not know what you are talking about, we haven't pulled any pranks whatsoever today, so far," Harry said sweetly.
"Just imagine how many school rules these perpetrators have broken, all those detentions," Ginny said smiling. "We learnt our lesson with the last detention. No more pranks."
"I'll believe that when I see it, Ms. Weasley," Madam Pomfrey said as she lifted her wand, finishing the counter-curse and making sure Ron's tongue was the right size. "All done, Mr. Weasley."
"You know, it could have been worse," Ron said happily as they walked out of the hospital wing and started to head down the corridors to dinner.
"That's the spirit, little brother," Fred said as he and his twin came out of a secret passageway behind a portrait.
"No need to be a pessimist," George said.
"What kind of sweets were they?" Ginny asked them.
"Homemade?" Harry asked.
"Well, now you mention it," Fred said. "They were…" but stopped when George elbowed him.
"Trade secret," George said smiling.
"Ah right, yeah, don't want too many to know our secrets," Fred said.
"I actually want a word with you two about that," Harry said smiling. "I fancy coming to somewhat of an arrangement with you. How about you two follow me and Ginny and just listen to what I got to say?"
"Well…" Fred started.
"Only if were listening…" George said uneasily.
"We'll see you at dinner," Harry said to the others, and ignoring their curious glances, headed back into the secret passageway Fred and George had emerged from.
"So what do you want to discuss?" Fred asked eying the two of them.
"These sweets were made by you, correct?" Harry asked them, knowing their answers already.
"Well," George started. "Possibly."
"Come on," Ginny said sighing, "We're family, your pranking partners!"
"Fine, okay yeah," Fred said. "They are our own invention. Tongue-Tied Toffees. A prototype, mind."
"They're not the finished article," George continued, "but when you gave us the scavenger hunt to set up, we thought it would be the perfect situation to test what we have."
"After all it is April Fools Day, why not a trick sweet at the end?" Fred finished.
"So you are creating your own jokes now?" Ginny asked.
Fred looked at George who shrugged.
"We might as well tell them the whole deal, Fred," George said shrugging. "We know we can trust them."
"Alright, George," Fred said. "Remember last night, when we were huddled over a piece of parchment."
"Yeah," Ginny said slowly.
"Well on that piece of paper were our plans for our own joke shop!" George announced. "And the sweets we're intending to invent!"
"You're really going through with it, your own joke shop, I mean?" Ginny said eagerly.
"Too right, little sis," Fred said smiling. "We haven't quite worked out the title of our joke shop yet, but it's getting there."
"Well," Harry said knowing this might be a slight risk but he knew Fred and George wouldn't ask questions, and Ginny would find out soon enough anyway. "I've always favoured Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes, to be honest."
Fred and George stared at him in utter shock before smiling to one another.
"And how, dear little brother, did you know that was one of the titles we were considering?" George asked him.
"Trade Secret," Harry said repeating the words George said to him. "Now, if I'm correct, all these ingredients you need for creating these sweets, would cost quite a lot."
"Well yeah," Fred said now eyeing Harry trying to work out where he was going with this. "It takes time ordering all the ingredients, especially with our, say, financial situation."
"Not that this is why we're doing this," George added quickly.
"Too right, brother," Fred agreed.
"We would never think that," Harry said smiling.
"Yeah, we know it's always been your dream to open up a joke shop," Ginny said.
"Which is why we are here," Harry said. "We want to help you with your dream."
"Help how?" Fred said intrigued.
"A partnership," Harry said smiling.
"Partnership?" George asked. "What kind?"
"Silent partnership," Harry said. "The partnership would be quiet simple; I will financially back you on buying any ingredients, no matter how rare they are or how expensive they are."
Fred and George eyes lit up in excitement as he told them his news.
"I will also, when the time is right, if needed, buy you a plot in Diagon Alley for your shop," Harry continued. "All of this for forty per cent."
"Forty per cent?" George asked him.
"Of Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes," Harry said. "I will own forty percent of the company. Take forty percent of the profits. That was another thing; you must call it Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes."
"Thirty," Fred said.
"Deal," Harry said holding out his hand. Fred and George eyed him thoughtfully.
"Do you know how much trouble you will get in with Mum when she finds out?" George told him.
"I don't care," Harry said. "I really think you two would be brilliant with your own joke shop. And I want to help in any way possible. Both of us do. We want to be your silent partners."
"I see what you bring to the table Harry, but what about Ginny?" Fred asked.
"Willing test subject maybe?" Harry joked.
"Not on your life!" Ginny hissed. "You think I want a thirty foot tongue? I can help think up ideas. You've seen me in action when we plan our pranks together."
"Anyway, I'm sure we can think of something for Ginny," Harry said. "Maybe something in research?"
"Okay then," George said shaking his hand, "Welcome to Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes."
"If you need anything, money for potion ingredients, anything at all, just speak to me." Harry said.
"Will do, partner," George said. "As a matter of fact, that was all our Tongue-Tied Toffees."
"Okay, just tell me how much you need, or if you rather, how much ingredients you need and I'll owl Diagon Alley and get some ingredients owl ordered," Harry told them.
"You know, Fred," George said smiling. "I think this partnership is going to be rather fruitful."
"I think the same thing, George," Fred said smiling too.
After finishing off their discussion and giving Harry a list of all the ingredients they wished to owl order, the four of them headed off down the corridors eagerly waiting to see the prank they had planned for dinner that evening.
They reached the Great Hall and entered. Fellow students, still with their hair in the luminous colours of their respective house, looked at the four of them, mostly some amused but some angry, most females, but some males, as the prank of their hair colour still hadn't ended.
Harry noticed that walking towards them as they headed towards the Gryffindor table to sit with the rest of Harry's friends, was the first year Romilda Vane and her friends.
"Undo it!" Romilda shrieked.
"Excuse me?" Ginny said, rather put out that she had just been shouted at rudely.
"You heard me, wench!" Romilda said and causing Harry to look darkly on the girl.
"I don't know what you're talking about," Ginny said. "We have not pulled any prank today so far. But call me that again and I will prank you, and you will regret it."
"My hair!" Romilda hissed.
"Yes, I know," Ginny said smiling, "Rather fetching."
"Look, it's just a prank," Fred said.
"Probably someone's idea as an April Fool's Day joke," George said.
"I don't care," Romilda moaned.
"Well, I'm sorry but as we didn't pull the prank we don't know how to undo it," Harry said faking sincerity.
"It's April Fool's Day!" Romilda hissed at him. "Everyone knows it was you!"
"Whilst we would love to take credit for the prank," Harry said, "Sadly it's against the pranksters' code. One must not take credit for another person's prank."
"Is there a problem here?" Professor McGonagall asked she walked over to them. Romilda continued to stare at Ginny in hatred. "Ms. Vane?"
"No, Professor," Romilda answered.
"Then to your seats please," McGonagall told them and she watched them as the two groups walked to the opposite ends of the Gryffindor table.
"You know everyone knows it was you," Hermione said once the four of them had reached the others.
"Of course they do, but the professors have no proof!" Fred said as he tucked into his shepherd's pie.
"Plus I always thought on our birthday we should be allowed one free prank!" George said thinking.
"Too right there, George," Fred agreed. "It's a shame no one else agreed to it."
"But don't you think it will be suspicious when you guys don't actually pull a prank?" Hermione asked. "The professor will figure it out."
"Who says we're not pulling a prank?" Harry said innocently.
"So what are you guys pulling that you will admit to?" Ron asked.
"I guess it's Lupin," Neville said.
"Professor Lupin, Neville," Hermione corrected him.
"Possibly," Ginny said. "but then there could be someone else."
There was a sudden bang at the headmaster's table, and the group of friends turned to look, eager to see what they had done to the defence teacher. However it wasn't the werewolf that had changed. Instead, the headmaster sat, his robes now replaced by white fur covering his body, his ears large and tall, the same as a bunny. In front of him where his dinner plate used to be, was now a basket full of Easter Eggs.
"Oh my god," Hermione whispered her hand covering her mouth in shock.
"Nice," Ron said looking at the headmaster smiling.
"Oh my god," Hermione repeated. "I helped prank the headmaster! I helped prank Dumbledore!"
"Yes, you did," George said smiling.
"I'm in so much trouble," Hermione whispered.
There was a sudden bang above the student body as the usual ribbon that Harry conjured floating above the school body.
The Ghosts of the Marauders would like to thank the Headmaster in the participation of their April Fool's Day prank.
Prince of Mischief would like to say that the headmaster looked rather fetching in his attire and should dress up as the Easter bunny more often.
Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum would like to say that they never knew that the Headmaster could be so generous in giving out free Easter eggs.
Wildfire would like to add that it should be an Easter tradition that the headmaster gives out free Easter eggs each year and thanks the headmaster for his generosity and was glad that he decided to dress up for the occasion.
We would also like to thank Bookworm for her help in this Prank and hope that she will continue to work with us in the future.
There was another bang as the wandlessly conjured ribbon disappeared, leaving the headmaster smiling at the four pranksters.
"I would like to thank the Ghosts for their seasonal prank," Dumbledore announced. "However, I would like to see them in my office after dinner to discuss detention. If Bookworm would also like to join them, then please do."
"Oh no, no, no," Hermione said moaning. "How did I let you talk me into this?"
"In the meantime," Dumbledore said standing up so that the school could see his fluffy tale. The hall erupted in laughter at the sight. Dumbledore chuckled as he continued. "As I was saying, in the meantime, who would like some Easter eggs?"
Harry, Ginny, Hermione, Fred and George stood in front of the Headmaster's table, Hermione shifting uncomfortably in front of the eyes of the headmaster, Professor McGonagall and Severus Snape.
"Really, Ms. Granger," McGonagall said, disappointing in her voice. "I'm very surprised at you. This is not something I would expect from your previous record here at Hogwarts."
Hermione looked down in embarrassment.
"Please, Professor," Ginny said speaking for Hermione. "Hermione had nothing to do with this. I forced her to come with us because I wanted to share what I enjoy with one of my friends. She didn't want to come along."
"Did you force her at wand point, Ms. Weasley?" Snape drawled.
Ginny looked down rather than speaking, ashamed that she had gotten her friend in trouble.
"So not even the perfect Ms. Granger is spared from your bad influence, Potter," Snape said. "Headmaster, I think expulsion for the boy before he corrupts anymore students."
"Expulsion for a prank?" McGonagall asked outraged. "That's far too harsh. And would I like to remind you, Serverus, due to your conversation this afternoon with the headmaster, you have no power of punishment over any students apart from your own!"
"Minerva," Dumbledore said harshly as he eyed the students in front of him and Harry knew that they were never meant to know that. In fact Fred and George had looked like McGonagall had asked them to pull pranks for the rest of the day. Had Dumbledore really removed Snape's ability to punish anybody but his own Slytherin students?
"I don't understand why Professor Snape is even here," Harry said. "No offence meant, but the prank was on Dumbledore, the headmaster and our own Head of House should be here, of course, but we never did anything to Professor Snape."
"Talk about disrespect, Headmaster," Snape said to Dumbledore. "But don't forget Potter, about your prank on Mr Malfoy and myself. Not to mention what you did to the library."
"Like I said earlier, we did not pull those pranks," Harry said. "We always take credit for our pranks. Our April Fool's Day prank was pranking the headmaster. We felt it was the only way to top what we did last year, to be able to prank the great Albus Dumbledore."
"Regarding Hermione," Harry continued. "Yes, she did come along and help us prank the headmaster, but only because we forced her to come with us. You can add forcing another student along with us to our crimes. But that is the only two crimes we have committed today."
"You expect us to believe that Potter?" Snape drawled.
"I ask you to find proof of it being otherwise," Harry said. "We always take credit for our pranks."
"That is enough," Dumbledore said looking over at the students in front of him. "As always, it is innocent until proven guilty." Snape gave out an angry yell. "They have admitted to pranking myself and therefore will receive detention, tonight, at seven o clock with myself. Please meet me in the entrance hall at precisely seven o clock. You may leave."
Harry looked at the others before the five of them headed towards the door. They had just opened the office door before the headmaster called out to them.
"One other thing," Dumbledore said looking over them with deadly seriousness. "If you tell anyone in this school, and I mean anyone, that includes Mr. Weasley, Mr. Longbottom, Mr. Jordan, and Ms. Lovegood, about Snape's current situation regarding punishments, then you will have a detention with myself every night from now to the end of the school year, do I make myself clear?"
"Yes, Headmaster," the group of them said together before they turned and left the office. It wasn't until they had travelled down the staircase, popped out from behind the gargoyle on the seventh floor, and had walked halfway back to their common room did they start speaking again.
"I don't believe it," George said. "Snape, unable to punish us!"
"I know," Fred said.
"Be careful," Harry said. "Just because he can't hand out punishments doesn't mean that you can get away with everything."
"Why can't he give out punishments though," George wondered.
"It must be part of his probation," Ginny said.
"Snape is on probation?" Fred asked shocked. "When? How?"
"Ginny, we aren't meant to know any of this," Harry reminded her.
"What's going on with Snape?" George asked.
"Let's just say that maybe next year we might not have to put up with the greasy git." Harry said.
"What? No, don't joke like that," Fred said.
"Yeah, you will get all our hopes up for nothing," George said.
"I doubt it, Harry," Ginny said. "Like McGonagall told us, it was just to show that he is punishing Snape. Dumbledore always gives Snape another chance."
"We'll see," Harry said cryptically.
That evening the five of them met the headmaster in the entrance hall. He was wearing a navy blue cloak with stars actually twinkling all over.
"Right on time I see," Dumbledore said smiling.
"Nice cloak, sir," Harry said eyeing the twinkling robe.
"Thank you, my dear boy," Dumbledore said. "It was a gift from Sirius and Jo for Christmas."
"Wow," Harry said. "They are sending Christmas presents together now? This must be really serious."
"Indeed," Dumbledore chuckled.
"I can't believe it's been over a year since they started dating," Harry stated.
"Well from what Remus told be a couple of days ago, Sirius asked Jo to move in with him," Dumbledore said eyes twinkling. "Isn't love grand?"
"Don't I get a say in that? Since it's my house?" Harry asked.
"No," Ginny said from beside him.
"Well, that doesn't seem right," Harry argued.
"You be nice to Jo this summer, Harry," Ginny told him. "Who knows, maybe one day you will have a godmother."
"Sirius?" George asked.
"Married?" Fred continued.
"Well, I think it's nice that he's found love," Hermione said.
"I'm surprised Jo hasn't given up on Sirius yet," Harry said.
"Well," Dumbledore interrupted smiling. "Fascinating as it is to see Sirius in a committed relationship, we do have a detention to be getting on with."
Dumbledore eyed the five of them before smiling.
"I was wondering, Harry," Dumbledore started, "that since tonight I will be telling you one of my secrets which you have wished to know for a long time, then you should tell me one of your own. Where is this private place that you take Ginny to teach her that no prefect or professor can find?"
"Wait," Fred said. "Harry has a place he can take our sister that no one knows about or can find them!"
"Why weren't we told about this?" George said eyeing Harry dangerously.
"Knock it off, you two," Ginny said. "The worst me and Harry have ever done is snog."
"And it's staying that way for a long time!" Fred said causing Ginny to roll her eyes.
"And who says snogging is not bad anyway!" George added.
"Now is not the time to go into over brotherly protection mode," Ginny said irritated. "Especially after we just become partners in your business opportunity, and that I got a lot more spells then the Bat Bogey to threaten you with."
Ginny then realised that Dumbledore was standing next to them and turned and grinned innocently hoping he wouldn't berate her for threatening her brothers with curses.
"Yes, Ms. Weasley?" Dumbledore asked. "Did you want something? Sorry, I have temporarily gone death and didn't hear a word you just said."
"Oh nothing, Professor!" Ginny said smiling.
"Business opportunity?" Hermione asked looking between the other four.
"So, detention?" Harry said eagerly, not wanting Hermione to guess what they and the twins had agreed to. It would not go down well if Molly Weasley found out.
"Certainly, Harry," Dumbledore said, "As soon as you come up with an area to practise."
"Alright," Harry said sighing, "Room of Requirement it is."
"Which way would that be?" Dumbledore asked.
"This way," Hermione said turning and leading the way up the staircase.
"Are you alright," Harry asked Ginny quietly. "With everyone finding out about the Room of Requirement?"
"Yes and no," Ginny replied. "I knew deep down it couldn't stay hidden forever, and the reason of telling Hermione was a very good one. I noticed she doesn't get as stressed this term then she did the last one. Although you can still see she doesn't get as much sleep as she should. I was just happy to have an area that was just ours. I know it sounds corny, but the Room of Requirement was our special place. Where just the two of us hung out. It's where we first kissed. It's where I can go with you and get away from my annoying brothers and relax. Now, everyone knows about it, everyone can get in."
"Remember, Ginny," Harry said squeezing her hand as they turned a corner. "It can become whatever you require, if you need a room no one can get into, I'm pretty sure that the room will seal itself off."
"I never thought of that," Ginny said thinking.
"Good thing I'm here," Harry said. "I always did think I was the smarter one."
"You are not smarter than me!" Ginny said quickly.
"All those spells I taught you," Harry protested.
"Yes, but you're a boy," Ginny giggled. "There's no way a boy can be smarter than a girl. It just doesn't happen, Harry, I'm sorry."
"What about Dumbledore?" Harry asked.
"The jury is out on that one?" Ginny quipped.
"I don't think you can deny how smart Dumbledore is," Harry said grinning as they started to head up some more stairs.
"Oh no," Ginny said agreeing, "You would be stupid to say that, question is why? Because he's just a very smart boy? Or that he's secretly a girl in disguise, the fact that boys are not smarter than girls kind of makes one lean to the latter. Plus the devious rumour that he likes males over females.
"You are weird, Ginny," Harry said laughing. "And Fred and George made that rumour up last term."
"Yes, but Dumbledore never denied it, did he!" Ginny protested.
"Oh yes, Dumbledore's secret is that he's gay!" Harry said rolling his eyes as they finally came to the seventh floor corridor.
"You never know, he could be," Ginny said pretending to be affronted that Harry didn't buy into her theory.
"Here we are," Hermione said.
"A blank wall," Dumbledore said looking around before noticing the tapestry depicting the attempt of Barnabas the Barmy to teach trolls ballet. "This is where I found Mr. Potter and Ms. Weasley here with Professor Lupin. I'm guessing there is a secret room or passageway here that is unknown to myself."
"You would be correct," Harry said.
"Hey," Fred said speaking up. "We don't even know about anything here."
"I'm sure we knew everything about Hogwarts," George muttered.
"You only know what the Marauders know," Harry said smiling. "Which, admittedly is a lot, but not everything. For example, that room." Harry pointed to the door to the Room of Requirement that had just appeared after Harry silently asked Hogwarts to open the room for them.
"How did you do that?" Fred asked.
"If I wanted you to know I would have showed you just then," Harry said. "This way you can't get in without me or Ginny."
"That also means that if you two are in there we can't get in ourselves!" George said.
"That was the general idea yes," Harry responded. "Now, shall we?"
Harry walked over to the door and held it open, ignoring the glaring looks on the twins faces. Ginny beamed in delight, knowing that they still had a private place where they couldn't be bothered by her brothers. As she walked into the room and past Harry, she quickly leant up and gave him a kiss in delight.
"Oi!" Fred and George complained.
Once they were all inside the room they looked around. The room itself was covered in vines, grass covered the ground, and the sun shone brightly in the sky.
"Hmm, this will do," Dumbledore said looking around. Harry and the others eagerly walked over to Dumbledore as they waited for their detention to begin.
"So what massive secret are you teaching us, Professor?" Ginny asked.
"I seem to remember you saying once, Harry, that you knew how to become invisible without that cloak of yours," Dumbledore said to him.
"Yes, I did," Harry said. "I willed my magic to make me invisible."
"Is that so?" Dumbledore said. "Fascinating, how hard was it to do this?"
"Very hard," Harry admitted. "I can't hold it very long because it takes up a lot of magic.
"Indeed," Dumbledore said nodding. "I expect it would. You are not aware then, there is a far easier way of becoming invisible, with enough practise?"
"I am not," Harry said slowly. "Are you going to teach us?"
"Certainly," Dumbledore said smiling causing the five of them to look at him in shock.
"Wow, Professor," Fred said in awe.
"This isn't normally taught in classes, is it, Professor?" Hermione said thinking.
"You are correct, Ms. Granger," Dumbledore said. "The board of Governors fear what troublemakers could do with the ability to hide in plain sight, therefore it was removed from the Charm curriculum in the early seventies."
"Seventies?" Harry questioned. "For some reason I have a feeling it was our namesakes' fault it was removed?"
"Indeed, you are correct," Dumbledore said smiling, a twinkle in his eye. "Your father and his friends misused this spell so frequently it was decided that it was better if certain troublemakers would not be taught the spell."
"So, in defiance you decide to teach the four most troublesome students in the school the spell now?" Ginny asked confused.
"I have my reasons," Dumbledore said smiling. "Now, to business. The spell itself is called the Disillusionment Charm. This charm is actually quite easy, I wouldn't be surprise if all five of you manage to some degree to Disillusion yourselves by the end of the evening. However, it will take far more practise to be able to come practically invisible. But I'm sure at least four of you, will continue practising."
"There are two ways of casting this charm. To cast it on yourself you simply wave your wand around yourself whilst saying the incantation," Dumbledore explained. "To cast it on someone else you gently tap them on the head whilst saying the incantation. The incantation itself is tricky to say so pay attention."
The following hour the five of them learnt the incantation and wand movement for both placing the spell on themselves and on each other.
"Okay then," Dumbledore said smiling as each of them got a hold of the spell. All five of them could now cast the spell, although with various degrease of success. Harry, knowing how to put a certain amount of power behind a spell, was the closest to being near invisible, although he hadn't quite managed it. Surprisingly it was Ginny next, who managed to fade into the background better than the others. She was closely followed by Hermione. The twins struggled slightly. Harry was surprised that the twins were having slight trouble but knew that they would still practise after the detention as over. "I think it's time to have some fun, I take it you all know the Stinging Hex?"
Of course all of them did, the Stinging Hex was a first year charm spell. Nodding to Dumbledore that they did indeed know the spell the headmaster continued.
"Great, so time to play a game," Dumbledore said smiling. "I want all five of you to go to a hiding place in the room, but not too far away. When you have found your hiding place, cast the Disillusionment Spell on yourselves. Once I give the signal, it is your aim to sneak about carefully trying not to give away your position whilst also trying to find each other. If you are hit by a Stinging Hex, you are to cancel your Disillusionment Charm and join me by the door."
"Are we allowed to cast detection spells?" Harry asked him.
"No," Dumbledore said. "You must use your eyes and ears. So, when you are ready."
Harry walked about trying to find his hiding place. He spotted a tree so Harry quickly rushed over before casting the Disillusionment Charm on himself.
"Okay then," Dumbledore said smiling. "Each of you has successfully cast the spell, now I would like you to move about the room in any way you wish, keeping a look out to see if you spot anyone moving about.
Harry started to gently move about; keeping his eyes strained for any movement of any kind or disturbance suggesting a Disillusionment Charm. Harry spent five minutes looking before a shout appeared from the bushes a little away from him and one of the twins came into view as Dumbledore cancelled the twin's spell.
"Whoever that was," the twin said, "Could you have at least hit me somewhere else."
"Come, Mr. Weasley," Dumbledore said smiling. "The stinging will stop in a minute, please join me. The rest of you, carry on."
Harry looked carefully about, trying to distinguish between the background and a disillusioned person. He thought he caught movement once in the corner of his eye but when he turned he couldn't spot anyone. Five minutes passed before there was another shout. Hermione appeared out of thin air, she was rubbing her arm and looking in a direction to her right. On an off chance Harry quickly shot a Stinging Hex in the direction she was looking and heard scuffling as someone quickly dodged the hex.
Harry threw two more hexes in the general direction whilst also walking to his right, seeing if they would catch the perpetrator. Unfortunately they didn't hit and smashed into the spell protected wall. All of a sudden there was a noise from his right as Harry turned to see a hex flying his way. He only just had enough time roll out of the way as another hex soon joined the other. Now it was two on one.
Looking carefully to his right and then to his left, he strained his eyes to see if he could spot someone. It took a minute for his eyes to adjust but he could faintly make out an outline of someone and he hastily sent a hex, hitting its target. The other twin became visible as he walked over to the headmaster rubbing his chest.
As soon Harry had shot his hex, another was sent his way. It was just him and Ginny now. Walking slowly he eyes peeled, Harry walked around the room, casting glances to where he thought he heard noises. Every now and then a spell whizzed his way but by the time he looked in the generally direction and threw his spell back Ginny was gone. Frowning he looked carefully around the room. Ginny's Disillusionment Charm must be much better than his, as for a third time Ginny sent another hex his way. Harry dived out of the way but not before Ginny sent two more that barely missed. Harry quickly sent his own back in the direction Ginny's had come from and heard her dive out of the way. Harry quickly got back to his feet, quickly looking for any sign of her before once again a hex came his way before he could really look.
Ginny must have a way of noticing him, Harry thought as he dodged another hex. Frowning and wondering how, he quickly looked around, maybe it was the background? He wasn't sure. He was in front of some bushes at the moment so Harry decided to try and move around so he was in clear air, carefully whilst looking for any sign of Ginny he crept out into the open he strained he eyes looking for any clue. Suddenly a spell came from behind him and he dodged it only just turning around to look in the general direction the spell came from. How was Ginny finding him without being able to sense magic? He carefully looked around, maybe she was down close to the floor? Which is why all his retaliation spells missed. Carefully looking at the grass, he looked for any spot that Ginny might hide, for any disturbance in the air that might indicate that Ginny was there. All of a sudden Harry heard a light crunch from beside him and he quickly turned his wand and head to look down to see if he could see Ginny. What he spotted was the grass not ten feet away from him was flat where feet were standing. Knowing it was too late to move away, the Stinging Hex hit him right in the chest.
"Bravo," Dumbledore announced as he waved his wand and Harry and Ginny came into full view. "I must say I'm impressed, Ms. Weasley."
"Yeah," Fred said from next to Dumbledore. "I was expecting Harry to win."
"How did you find us so easily?" Hermione asked. "I found it so hard to notice, I only saw glimpses but you found and hexed all of us."
"Because she's smart!" Harry said laughing. "I figured it out just at the end."
"I thought it was a rather obvious thing to look for…" Ginny said sheepishly.
"If you would like to explain, Ms. Weasley, for the others' benefit," Dumbledore stated.
"Well, we were all on grass," Ginny explained. "Wherever we stand, we leave imprints in the grass. All I was doing was looking in the grass for where there were flat bits."
"That's ingenious!" George said.
"I'm proud," Harry said taking her hand and leaning down slightly to kiss her lips. "Well done."
"I think we should end the detention there," Dumbledore said looking at his pocket watch. "It's getting late; I hope you practise with this spell some more. There was a reason I taught you this tonight. Some of you could do with some more practice. And do not forget the lesson Ginny has taught us tonight. Just because you cannot be seen does not mean you cannot be detected."
One late evening later on during the second week of the Easter holidays, Harry quietly crept out of his bed, in order not to wake his fellow thirds years, got dressed, and headed out of Gryffindor tower. Whilst the spring was in the air and the days were warmer, the nights were still cool and he found himself wrapping his cloak closely around his body as he thought over the detention he had with Dumbledore. It was interesting. He wondered why Dumbledore had decided to teach them that particular spell. All of Dumbledore's actions had hidden meanings. However, that wasn't what his agenda was for tonight. No, tonight there was something much more important. He had thought long and hard over the past couple days over the situation with Professor Snape, and he had finally made a decision.
Arriving at the stone gargoyle Harry quietly asked it to move aside before he walked through the small opening and onto the upward revolving staircase. As the staircase lifted him up he thought back to Ginny and how she was coming along with her Occlumency. She had continued through the Easter holidays to organise more and more of her memories. She had come to him that evening saying that she wanted to organize her memories of last year but she wasn't sure if she should do it alone. Harry had instantly agreed to be with her, so they made an arrangement for the next day for him and Ginny to go to the Room of Requirement and have Ginny finish off organizing her mind.
Harry reached the top of the staircase where he stepped off the revolving stone stairway and quickly gave a soft knock on the door.
"Come on in, Harry," Dumbledore called out to him. Harry opened the door smiling as he looked around the room. Dumbledore sat at his desk, paperwork surrounding him.
"Lemon drop, Harry?" Dumbledore said, indicating the bowl full of the sugary sweet.
"No, thank you," Harry said smiling.
"So what brings you here this evening," Dumbledore said as he looked over his spectacles. "I believe there have been no sightings of Peter recently."
"I'm not here to talk about Peter," Harry said. "I'm here to talk about Snape, actually."
"Professor Snape, Harry," Dumbledore corrected gently.
"No," Harry said. "He stopped having that right when he raped Ginny's mind. Can I ask how you still let him teach here after that?"
"Harry, I do not wish to get into a conversation about this right now," Dumbledore said quietly.
"Why?" Harry asked him heatedly. "Afraid I might reveal some home truths?"
"I understand why you are upset with Professor Snape," Dumbledore began.
"No, you don't," Harry interrupted. "You have no idea, and I wanted it that way, because I wanted the timeline to stay intact. But I realised something this holiday, whether Snape stays or goes, it won't affect the timeline now."
"Please, Harry," Dumbledore said. "Snape may have made some mistakes…"
"You forget who you're talking to," Harry said angrily. "You forget the memories my future self-sent back to me. Memories of Snape. Some mistakes, my dear Headmaster the person who is making the mistake is you, in trusting that Death Eater."
"I assure you Harry, Snape is loyal," Dumbledore said gently.
"To Voldemort!" Harry shouted. "He's loyal to Voldemort, the only reason I haven't talked to you about this is because I wanted to keep the timeline intact. With Pettigrew escaping, the timeline no longer exists. There's no need to keep a Death Eater like him in the school."
"If you only knew!" Dumbledore said gently.
"I do know!" Harry shouted. "I know because I see it every night, I see him murdering countless people. You might not have memories of a war that happens in the future, but I do."
"I see him murder countless Muggles," Harry shouted. "I see him worship the monster that killed my parents. I see him help murder innocents when attacking St. Mungo's. I see him torture Malfoy Junior into insanity because he didn't want to follow in his father's footsteps. I see him laugh as he watches countless of innocents die in front of him. I see him murder YOU!"
"Do not sit there and say I do don't know about Severus Snape," Harry hissed at the headmaster's now white face. "You sit there believing his innocence because he told you about how he regretted my parent's death. How he never meant to send Voldemort after my parents. How he didn't know it would be my parents that Voldemort would choose. You're wrong! He did know! Or at least he knew it was a possibility."
"Explain," Dumbledore said quietly.
"Explain what," Harry hissed.
"Explain how he knew," Dumbledore stated.
"Are you that naïve when it comes to Snape!" Harry told him. "You know how obsessed he was with my mother! He didn't love her, he just desired her for himself. He kept tracks on her. He knew she was pregnant. So when he heard the prophecy he raced back to his master, desperate to save him, but also knowing that he could get revenge on my mother for rejecting him."
"If you don't believe me, go to the Room of Requirement," Harry continued. "Enter the room where my memories are waiting to show Ginny. View them. And you will see. Snape is loyal to Voldemort. Voldemort knew that you had a weak spot in giving second chances. Knew that the thing you believed in most was love. So they used that to get a loyal Death Eater close to you."
"It couldn't have fallen better for them," Harry said, disgusted. "They made up some stupid stories about being in love and never wanting to hurt my mother, begging for second chances and you lapped it up. Did you know that Snape has always known it was Pettigrew that was the Secret keeper? That it was Pettigrew that betrayed my parents and not Sirius. Don't get me wrong, he didn't know that Pettigrew was alive, but he always knew that it was Pettigrew that betrayed my parents. For all we know Snape could be helping Pettigrew into the castle."
"How sure are you of this Harry?" Dumbledore asked and for the first time in a long while Harry saw the headmaster looking old and warn and broken.
"I have memories of my future self living through it!" Harry exclaimed. "You can view them yourself! What more do you need! He murdered you!"
"I did not wish to question your integrity," Dumbledore said quietly. "I just…"
"You just wished that there was a way that you weren't wrong, weren't fooled," Harry said.
"No, I wish that the boy I often glimpsed whilst he was at school, the soft spoken Slytherin that didn't hurt people, was still there inside him." Dumbledore said, "I wish to see your memories."
"They are all ready to view in the Room of Requirement," Harry said. "They are labelled as well. Walk past the wall three times and ask the room to become somewhere to show Ginny my memories. I have already keyed you into the wards surrounding the room, only you can get in."
"If what you say is true…" Dumbledore began.
"You doubt me?" Harry asked.
"No," Dumbledore said. "I just wish that I haven't made such a grave mistake."
"You let a monster teach and help mould students," Harry said quietly. "You even made him Head of House. I told you when I first met you that you have made some terrible mistakes. Snape was one of them. But I needed him to stay to keep the timeline intact. I hope, with what I tell you, Snape's position as a teacher will not last. How many more students is he using Legilimency on that can't detect it because they do not have me teaching them Occlumency?"
"I assure you, Harry," Dumbledore said quietly. "I will take the necessary actions."
"And they are?" Harry asked quietly.
"You have left me with a lot to think about, Harry," Dumbledore said tiredly. "I must process what I have learnt before I can act."
"The only action I care about is that Death Eater fired," Harry replied. "You never know, you might find that there will be less fighting between Slytherin and the rest of the school after."
"How can you be so sure it won't affect the timeline," Dumbledore asked gently. "Wouldn't it be better to keep him in the school? Make sure the timeline is intact so we can be prepared for next year."
"But the timeline isn't intact, is it?" Harry said. "Things are different now, Pettigrew isn't trying to find Voldemort, he's trying to kill me. The timeline is different. So why the need to keep someone like Snape, who I might add, does not do a damn to teach Potions?"
"Also, if we do manage to get Pettigrew off to Voldemort in time, how does Snape not being here affect the timeline?" Harry said. "It doesn't affect it; it's Pettigrew who finds Voldemort. All Snape will do is plot and plan and sit in the shadows just like his buddy Lucius. You know this to be true."
"I do," Dumbledore said gently. "Very well, you have given me a lot more to think about then I ever thought possible. I will look into this matter with great haste."
"Be warned," Harry said standing up. "McGonagall is collecting memories again. Myself and Ginny have already given her some. You're lucky, this time she wanted to go over your head and to the Governors now that Lucius is off the board."
"Believe me," Dumbledore said quietly, sad that someone he thought as a friend would betray him so. "That won't be necessary."
"I do not question that this indeed happened in the future, but is there no way to see if we can deter him from the future and keep him on the side of the light?" Dumbledore asked.
"He tried to rape Ginny's mind," Harry said coldly. "He's killed and tortured many in the past, and my memories show he is willing to do so again. Someone like this cannot be saved. No matter how much you want to save them. And he most definitely does not belong in a school full of children."
"Perhaps not no, but I will not give up on him," Dumbledore said quietly.
"You are fighting a losing battle," Harry said quietly as he headed to the door.
"I pray in this instance, that you are wrong," Dumbledore responded. "But needs be, I will start looking for a replacement Potions Professor."
The news that he wouldn't have to put up with Snape's abysmal teaching methods in Potions for too much longer brought happiness to Harry over the next couple of days. He just hoped that the headmaster would find a replacement soon and that he and his friends would no longer have to put up with the greasy git.
Fred and George were considerably happy after handing Harry the list of potion ingredients they needed for their sweets. They also put on the list, ingredients they might need for future projects, although they never said what particular sweets they were inventing. Harry happily sent Hedwig off to Diagon Alley to buy the ingredients.
The Friday before the summer term was due to start Harry found Hermione sitting by herself in the library. The rest of their friends were taking a long walk around the sunny grounds, before they were forced back in doors for classes and homework. Hermione, being the student she was, decided to go to the library to read ahead. Harry sighed as he saw piles and piles of books surrounding her. Smiling gently as he sat down Harry interrupted her train of thought.
"Didn't you do all your homework last week?" Harry asked her gently.
"Yes," Hermione said not looking up from her boom
"Then why are you still doing school work?" Harry said gently moving a book aside. "You need to take some rest when you can, before you go back to never ending school days. I still don't get how you do it. I don't think I could, not for the whole year."
"They end eventually, Harry," Hermione said as looked at the page of her book before scribbling down a note.
"Haven't you had enough yet?" Harry said gently.
"It's school work, Harry, it's important!" Hermione argued.
"You cannot really think Divination is important?" Harry countered causing Hermione to sigh.
"Well, I suppose not," Hermione relented.
"Then drop it!" Harry said, "McGonagall will understand, and I'm sure you don't care what Trelawney thinks, I know McGonagall doesn't.
"What good will it do," Hermione said. "I would still need to use the time turner! Although granted not as much."
"Then drop another subject!" Harry exclaimed. "Drop Muggle Studies, you're Muggle-born for goodness sake!"
Hermione eyed Harry before sighing.
"Don't think I haven't thought about it, this past year has just been a nightmare," Hermione muttered.
"Then please listen to me," Harry said taking her hand. "I know I keep nagging but it's only because I care for you. You're one of my best friends."
"I know, Harry," Hermione said. "and you know what, I've been thinking about something, but I know I don't have the time to do what I want."
"What is it?" Harry asked wondering what the next thing Hermione had decided to do to add onto her already hectic schedule.
"Well you remember the house-elves and what you said last week about them?" Hermione asked before continuing. "Well, that is what I'm doing at the moment." She lifted up a book entitled, 'The History of a house-elf, our natural servants."
"It really is disgraceful," Hermione added. "This book is horrible. It was obviously written from a pureblood perspective. But I just don't have the time to dedicate to this at the moment."
"You would if you dropped Divination and Muggle Studies," Harry pointed out, causing Hermione to bite her lip. Harry knew from experience that Hermione was finally really considering dropping the two subjects. "Heck, if you asked McGonagall, I'm sure you would still be allowed to take the Muggle Studies exam."
"Without finishing the class?" Hermione asked shocked.
"You're Muggleborn!" Harry argued. "You don't need to take the lessons to be able to score full marks on that test! I'm sure you've already taken practise exams for it! You know I'm right. Just think of all the time you have to devote to helping the house-elves."
"Do you really think McGonagall will still allow me to take the exam?" Hermione quietly asked.
"Yes, I do," Harry replied. "And if she doesn't where, at least, is the harm in asking? Just think what you could do with the house elves if you had the time. Listen, I'm going to tell you something which you must promise not to tell Mr. and Mrs. Weasley about."
"What is it?" Hermione asked.
"Promise first," Harry told her.
"Is it bad?" Hermione said. "Will it get me into trouble?"
"Not in the trouble you're thinking of, no," Harry said. "Just that they might not approve entirely right away, but they will come round once they've gotten used to it."
"Fine okay," Hermione said. "But I'm taking a lot on faith to trust you."
"I know and I thank you," Harry said. "But you know Fred and George and their sweet at the end of that scavenger hunt last week."
"Of course they said it was their own invention," Hermione said frowning, wondering where this was going.
"Indeed it was," Harry said nodding, "Their wish is to open up a joke shop to rival Zonkos. But the problem is that, well, they didn't have enough capital to buy the ingredients to make the jokes they needed."
"Oh Harry, you didn't," Hermione said wide eyed.
"I did," Harry said. "I am now a very proud owner of thirty percent of the company, Weasley Wizards Wheezes, with them getting my full financial backing, in ingredients and in the renting of a shop once their business is big enough."
"Now I know this isn't a business, but the campaign that will be needed to make people aware and to finally help the house-elves and other like creatures that are not so well treated will need financial baking, and that is what I'm offering you. Whether you need money for leaflets, flyers, badges, whatever. Whatever you need I will provide for you."
Hermione looked on Harry like she had just been awarded the Noble Prize
"All of this I am willing to do for you and for the house-elves, if you drop Muggle Studies and Divination," Harry finished.
Hermione laughed out loud at Harry's terms. Shaking her head she smiled at Harry.
"What did I do to get such a good friend like you, Harry," Hermione said quietly. "I know I often nag you about your secrets and I'll admit, I wonder why you need to keep such secrets from us. Is it because it really needs to be kept secret or that you just don't think of us, of me, that highly as a friend…"
"Don't ever think that, Hermione," Harry said quickly. "You are one of my best friends and I trust and think of you as a sister."
"A sister," Hermione whispered in shock.
"Yes, Hermione," Harry said gently. "A sister. I don't keep these secrets from you for fun, or from the lack of trust. I keep them for your safety, if word got out that you knew of some of the things I know… You would be in incredible danger. And I don't want my sister in that kind of danger."
"Oh, Harry," Hermione said her eyes watering. "I had no idea. I think of you like a brother too, I do. I know I don't show it much…"
"Don't show it much!" Harry exclaimed. "You show it all the time, you don't look into my secrets because you want to treat me like a research project, you look into my secrets because you care and want to help me! You want to understand what is going on so you can be prepared to help me if I need it. Trust me, I know that. I know it kills you every time I succumb to a Dementor just as much as it kills Ginny. Believe me, I know you have my best interests at heart. But please, allow me to come to you with the secrets you need to know."
"I just want to help," Hermione said quietly. "It's what friends are meant to do, I never had friends before I came to Hogwarts, then I met you and Ron, Neville and Ginny. And now even Luna, and I never imagined once that I could be this happy with this amount of friends. I care deeply about you all."
"I know," Harry said gently. "You know Luna said something familiar about having friends now just like you said only the other day."
Hermione looked down sheepishly.
"I guess I've been too hard on her," Hermione said smiling, "but I just don't understand all those made up creatures she keeps talking about."
"Maybe if you start letting her in," Harry said. "Luna will start opening up about it."
"You think it's a defence mechanism?" Hermione asked.
"Yes, I think it is," Harry said. "I don't think she truly believes about all these animals she talks about. I just think it's her way to make sure she doesn't get hurt. She was very close to her mother before she died. It hurt her very badly. She was always talking about her dad's magical creatures before her mum died, but it wasn't until the accident that she started to be dedicated to it like she is now."
"I think she knows how her behaviour pushes people away, and it's her way to keep her distance so she doesn't get hurt anymore; you don't know how cruel the people from the village were to her after her mum died." Harry finished.
"I never knew," Hermione said horrified. "and all the nasty things I thought about her…"
"It's not your fault," Harry said gently. "Just be there for Luna like you are for rest of us, that's all you need to do."
"I will," Hermione said nodding. "I will be a better friend to her. Well then, I think we need to go talk to Professor McGonagall, you are right, the house-elves are so much more important than learning from that old fraud. And I know everything about Muggles anyway. Or at least, everything the witch can teach us. You would have thought they at least hire a Muggle-born to teach the class, wouldn't you?"
"The teacher is a pureblood?" Harry asked shocked.
"Half-blood," Hermione said standing up. "But she was raised as a witch, so whilst she knows some things, she doesn't know nearly enough to teach the subject. On some occasions I find myself even correcting her."
"Wow, that does sound bad," Harry said.
"You know, you never explained," Hermione said. "How you know so much about the Muggle way of life. You were only six when you left the Dursleys."
"True, but considering they made me clean and cook food," Harry said. "I knew more than your average six year old."
"Oh god, Harry, I'm so sorry," Hermione said. "I shouldn't have said anything."
"Hey, don't be sorry," Harry said. "If I can't talk to my sister about this who can I talk to?"
"I promise," Hermione said. "I will stop treating you as a subject to study; I will start treating you as my brother."
"Thank you," Harry said. "Now let's go talk to McGonagall."
It took them a further five minutes before they found themselves outside the office of their Head of House. Harry quickly knocked on the door and waited until Professor McGonagall told them to enter before walking into her office.
"Mr. Potter, Ms. Granger," Professor McGonagall said questionably. "What can I do for you this afternoon?"
"I've come to talk about my class schedule," Hermione said uneasily whilst shifting awkwardly in her seat. "I wish to drop a couple of subjects possibly."
"What made you decide this Ms Granger?" Professor McGonagall asked her. "You were very vocal in your belief that you could handle the class schedule."
"I could possibly push myself for the rest of the year," Hermione admitted.
"Yeah right," Harry muttered.
"How does this concern you, Mr. Potter?" Professor McGonagall asked him.
"Apart from the fact that one of my best friends is stressing out and possible making herself ill?" Harry asked her.
Professor McGonagall turned her eyes back to Hermione studying her carefully.
"How are you handling the schedule Ms Granger?" Professor McGonagall asked her gently.
Hermione turned to look at Harry before looking back at her head of house.
"To be honest it wasn't handling it very well before Harry stepped in to help," Hermione began slowly. "But then things got much better."
"I would like to say Hermione didn't tell me how she was getting to all her classes," Harry said speaking up.
"I wouldn't have thought Ms. Granger would," Professor McGonagall said.
"Although I would like to say that my opinion is that it's entirely stupid to give someone our age a Time-turner," Harry continued. "Not that Hermione would or has ever misused it, but the stress and the workload to put on her, even one as smart as Hermione, was rather naïve of the school board."
McGonagall took a couple of moments to gather herself before replying.
"And of myself, you mean?" Professor McGonagall said carefully.
"My opinion only Professor, but yes," Harry said. Hermione looked at Harry astonished that he would say something like that.
"Tell me, Mr. Potter," Professor McGonagall said eyeing him carefully. "How has Ms. Granger, in your opinion, been handling it?"
"To be honest," Harry said slowly. "Better than you would think. But still, she gets tired very easily, gets snappy at her friends and is standoffish all the time due to the stress her brain is under from the lack of rest. Until I figured out what was happening, there was no plan to give her the extra rest her mind and body would need. There was no one looking out to see if she was handling her situation in the right way."
"She was given an extremely powerful object, and then left to her own devices after telling her that she was only meant to use to get to her classes which, I will add, was extremely stupid of the person that made that decision. It's not just the classes she needed more time for. She had three times the normal amount of homework to do. And until she started to use the Time Turner as I pointed out to her, she only had the same amount of sleep as the rest of the student body."
"When you're living though that much extra time, the body will need extra sleep," Harry explained. "Surely, if Madam Pomfrey was questioned about this situation in regard to Hermione's health, then she would have explained this to you and the headmaster. Was her opinion sought after in the discussions on whether allowing Hermione to do this?"
"No, it was not," Professor McGonagall said slowly.
"Maybe after Hermione has handed the Time Turner back in you should go and ask Madam Pomfrey how not having the extra sleep has possible affected Hermione this year," Harry said. McGonagall eyed both Hermione and then Harry before responding.
"First off, Mr. Potter," Professor McGonagall started, "I would like to say that I care about all my students' wellbeing so don't you dare question that. And I feel you questioning if I have my students best interest at heart as a terrible insult. I will always place the care of my students before anything else. But I'll admit that maybe we have been a bit, relaxed, when it comes to Miss Granger's situation. And for that I apologise, Ms. Granger. Now, you said you wish to drop Muggle Studies and Divination? Well I have no problem with either of those choices. I will inform your professors that you will not be returning to their classes on Monday."
"Thank you, Professor," Hermione said taking the golden necklace out of her shirt, undoing the clasp, and handing it over to McGonagall. Once she had safely put the Time Turner in her drawer she then turned to Harry.
"Mr. Potter," Professor McGonagall continued and Hermione eyed Harry nervously. "You came into my office, accused me of not caring for my students, accused me of naivety when regarding my students' wellbeing, and close to gross negligence. Twenty points will be awarded to Gryffindor for your bravery."
Harry looked at Professor McGonagall in shock.
"What?" Harry asked questionably. Surely he was going to get a detention for the way he spoke to his Head of House.
"The thing that this house prides itself on above all else, Mr. Potter, is courage and bravery," Professor McGonagall began. "You had the courage to stick up and help your friend when she was in desperate need of it, and also had the bravery to stand up to myself, when you believed that your best friend's interests were not being met during my care. Whilst you might have been a little bit disrespectful, it was not on purpose, and was out of dire need to help your friend when she needed it the most. I'll admit I am myself guilty of not looking out for Ms. Granger as much as I should have done these past two terms. You were correct in that. I will not punish you for doing what I should be doing in the first place."
"I would like to assure both of you, from now own, I will do more in my duty of care towards you, and to the rest of the students in this castle," Professor McGonagall continued. "I will keep a closer eye on students to make sure that I do not fail anymore in the role as your Head of House and deputy headmistress to this school. Although, Mr. Potter, next time you speak to me like that, you may not find me so willingly to forgive."
"Yes, Professor," Harry replied.
"Now, if that is all, I have essays that are in dire need of marking," McGonagall said looking not so lovingly at her desk.
"Thank you, Professor," Hermione said.
"You're quite welcome, but I would also thank Mr. Potter here if I were you, friends like him only come round once in a life time," McGonagall finished, causing Harry to blush slightly.
"I will," Hermione answered.
Harry and Hermione stood up smiling at their Head of House before they headed towards the door. Once they had left the office, they turned left, to head towards the main staircase and down to dinner where they would meet the others. They had decided to go walk around the lake in the lovely spring weather. Harry had told them that he would meet them at Hagrid's later before walking off to find Hermione.
"Thank you, Harry," Hermione said quietly walking beside him as they walked down the staircase that lead to the entrance hall.
"I only did what any good friend would do," Harry told her smiling.
"I don't see Ron or Neville or Ginny here," Hermione pointed out to him.
"They don't know about your Time Turner," Harry replied.
"Doesn't stop them from seeing that I was stressed out," Hermione said. "Don't get me wrong, I don't hold anything against them for it. God knows how you figured it all out, so I don't expect them to, but you did figure it out, you did help me, and you did get me to drop the classes."
"Only way I managed to do that was to give you another project, a more important project then Divination and re-learning stuff you were taught when you were five." Harry told her.
They got to the bottom of the staircase, walked along the marble floor of the entrance hall, and then out of the front doors and onto the lawns of Hogwarts.
"I'm trying to say thank you here, Harry," Hermione sighed. "Can you at least let me do that?"
"Hmm, I seem to recall a similar situation with Ginny," Harry said. "She kept forgiving me and I don't see why she needed too. I only did what any good friend would do."
"Exactly," Hermione said causing Harry to frown in confusion. "We're not thanking you for the action you did, well, actually, we are, but we are thanking you for more than that. It's more than just thanking you for helping me through the stress of my lessons or, well I don't know what you did for Ginny but I'm sure it was very good of you to do so. It's thanking you for being the friend you are, Harry. Believe it or not, the type of friend you are to all of us, don't come around too often. So please, when we want to thank you, let us!"
Harry smiled sheepishly.
"Fine," Harry said uneasily.
"Good, between me and Ginny maybe you will learn to accept a compliment without arguing soon," Hermione said teasingly.
"Nah never going to happen," Harry replied.
The next day Harry and Ginny were sitting alone inside the Room of Requirement, Harry reading and Ginny staring at the fire the room conjured. The evening before Ginny had come to Harry stating that she had managed to finally finish organising most of her memories but there was still her first year and the summer nightmares to go through. Harry suggested the Saturday afternoon and Ginny eagerly agreed. Harry had brought a book on Quidditch to read whilst Ginny was sorting through her memories.
For most of the time at the beginning, things were mostly quiet between the two. Harry would be reading his book, whilst Ginny was looking into the fire place. It wasn't until Harry heard a small sob from Ginny about forty minutes later that Harry slowly closed the book and went to kneel down next to Ginny seat by the fire. Ginny didn't speak at first when Harry gently placed his hand over her own, she simple leant slightly into him, the only evidence that Ginny was aware that Harry was there. They stayed like that for the next few minutes, Harry simple being there for morale support until Ginny sniffed slightly and started to talk.
"I must have been so foolish to believe someone like Tom," Ginny muttered and Harry turned to her in shock. "I must have been so weak to be fooled into thinking that Tom was a good person."
"Remember what Dumbledore said," Harry said gently. "He's fooled brighter and smarter people, Ginny. You couldn't possible have known. There was no way of figuring it out."
"You did," Ginny sighed.
"Not entirely," Harry responded. "To be truthful, I didn't figure out that much, I simple looked at what was different and the only thing that stood out was Tom Riddle. So I went and looked him up. Slytherin Prefect, got special services to the school fifty years ago. So I wondered why, and I asked Dumbledore."
"You asked Dumbledore?" Ginny asked. "But didn't he want to know where you got the information."
"He did," Harry said.
"So what did you tell him," Ginny questioned looking into the fire.
"The truth," Harry responded. Ginny turned to look at him in shock.
"So Dumbledore knew…?" Ginny asked shakily.
"Yes, Dumbledore knew," Harry nodded. "You and I know my relationship with the headmaster is more than just student and professor. Why, you will be told once your Occlumency shields are strong enough, of that I promise. But we talk, quite a few times actually. I knew I could trust Dumbledore, and I knew he would know it wasn't your fault and wouldn't blame you. So when I went to speak to him about the diary, he told me who Tom Riddle grew up to be."
"I should have concentrated on destroying the diary then and there, or given it to Dumbledore to destroy. But I didn't, instead I chose to forget about it and concentrate on the girl I was falling in love with. I regret my decision, and I always will. It allowed Tom to take a hold of you again and take you down to the Chamber of Secrets."
"Don't regret it, Harry," Ginny said. "You made the right decision. I needed you more than anything. I'm glad you made that decision."
"But if I had destroyed it…" Harry muttered. "You could have gotten killed in that chamber; I could have lost you because of my stupidity in not looking for a way to destroy the stupid thing. I would of never of forgiven myself if that had happened."
"I was the one that trusted Tom," Ginny said. "Not you, the blame falls on me."
"The blame doesn't fall solely on one person," Harry said gently shaking his head. "We all each had a small part to play. It's something that I'm sure everyone regrets happening. If anyone had a chance to change it, stop it from ever happening, we all would do so."
Ginny stayed quiet as she looked into the fire.
"Are you done with your memories?" Harry asked her.
"Everything with the chamber yes, now a few more memories and that will be mostly my mind organised." Ginny said quietly. "It's funny, how much you can actually remember when you put your mind to it."
"What've you got left?" Harry asked her.
"Happy memories," Ginny said smiling slightly and leaning into Harry. Harry opened up his arm and wrapped Ginny into a one arm hug. "I decided to leave the moment you told me you loved me to last."
"Oh?" Harry asked intrigued.
"I know I needed to leave last year till last, mostly because I wanted to get used to organizing the memories, so I could go through it as quickly as possible. So I thought I'd leave the thing that made me the happiest the most, so that I had something to concentrate on after going through everything of last year," Ginny explained.
"Well I'll be here," Harry said.
"I know, I love you, Harry," Ginny said smiling. "I will always love you."
"I'm sorry you had to live through this a second time," Harry said.
"It was needed," Ginny said, "I don't want your secrets out there just because I couldn't protect them. Who knows how many times Snape has looked inside my head without knowing, I only noticed him after I started learning Occlumency. He could have been looking inside my mind for months without me knowing."
"I don't think so," Harry said slowly. "But it's a horrible thought."
"You sure?" Ginny asked.
"Have you looked Snape squarely in the eyes for more than a couple of seconds whilst thinking about my secrets?" Harry asked her.
"No, never," Ginny said shaking her head.
"Have they ever popped into your mind without you knowing why whilst looking at Snape?" Harry asked her.
"No," Ginny said again.
"Then Snape has never found them out," Harry told her. "Trust me."
"Good," Ginny said snuggling closer. She spent another fifteen minutes organizing the rest of her memories before she told Harry that she had finally finished, after over a month, she had finally organized her memories, and could concentrate on building up her shields.
"Harry," Ginny asked breaking the comfortable silence that had falling between them. "Can I make a confession?"
"If you're telling me you're secretly a guy…" Harry joked causing Ginny to hit him.
"I'm being serious," Ginny said.
"Ginny, I love you, you can tell me anything and I will still love you," Harry said kindly.
"It's about last year," Ginny said slowly.
"What is it?" Harry asked intrigued.
"You know that you said a while back that if you could you would change it so that the Chamber of Secrets never happened?" Ginny asked slowly.
"Yes," Harry asked wondering.
"Whilst I regret what happened to Colin, and possibly Mrs Norris," Ginny continued. "And if I could I would make it so neither of them was attacked, I wouldn't change what happened to me."
"You wouldn't?" Harry asked her, hardly believing that Ginny was saying this. It was eerily similar to a conversation his future self and Ginny had on their wedding night.
"What happened with Tom was horrible," Ginny said slowly. "It will haunt me for the rest of my life. It has a left a mark and changed the person I am today. But you know what? I like the person I am today. Our experiences in life make us the people we grow up to be. The Chamber of Secrets changed me, Harry. I won't say I wouldn't like who I would be if the Chamber of Secrets never happened. But it did happen. And I'm pretty proud of the girl I am because of it and the woman I will grow up to be, and the Chamber of Secrets played a part of that. If someone offered me the chance to change the past, stop the Chamber of Secrets entirely, I don't think I would accept their offer."
"I know this sounds cruel, and if I could I would wish that Colin was never attacked. But apart from that, I wouldn't change anything. Because I don't want to change the person I've become because of it. I like who I am, who I've become due to last year. I know you won't agree…"
"I understand slightly," Harry explained, "But no, I don't agree. Yes, the Chamber of Secrets changed you. But not as much as you think, you're still Ginny."
"Yes, mostly," Ginny said nodding. "But still, you can't say last year hasn't affected me. I'll agree, I could have done without the nightmares last summer, but even those, in a little way, affected me and the person I've become. There are many things I would wish to change about last year. But the one thing I do not wish to change is the person I've become. And the person I've become happened because of Tom. If I had a choice, I wouldn't change a thing."
AN: So here is the next chapter, finally. The Biggest ever! 30k words. Regarding what Ginny said at the end there. I would like to just say. Always planned. Hope you enjoyed reading. Now press that nice shiny review button. He He. I hope you guy's had a wonderful Christmas.