I am not J.K. Rowling, and I do not own Harry Potter (although I do own a copy of all the books and movies), and am certainly not making any money off of this.
I'm writing this purely because I enjoy it, and I hope you do, too.
A Sirius Matter
Chapter 31 – What's the News?
Almost every girl in the school applauded at Dumbledore's announcement of the ball, while several boys groaned. Harry looked at Hermione to judge her reaction. She had an almost wistful expression as she glanced at him, only to find he was looking at her. She blushed and turned away quickly.
Harry wasn't sure how he felt about the ball, and knew that he couldn't dance. However, he knew that he had to be a dutiful boyfriend, and it was obvious that Hermione wanted to go. Figuring that he might as well get it over with, he said, "Hermione?"
"Yes," she replied, looking at him hopefully.
"Would you like to go to the ball with me?"
She smiled brightly, and he thought that smile was worth enduring a Yule Ball. "I'd love to, Harry."
"Good," he responded as he smiled back at her, glad that he'd done something right. He looked at the package of horntail armor that had arrived minutes before Dumbledore's announcement. "Come on. I'd like to put on my armor before we go to class, and I'd like it if you would, too."
They went to the Gryffindor common room, where he opened his package and took out Hermione's outfit, giving it to her. She went to her dormitory to change while he brought the box up to his. After he'd put his armor on beneath his clothes (all but the hood and gloves, which he put in his book bag), he put the box, which contained eight more outfits, into his trunk. He would give one to Sirius, Ron, Neville, and Ginny (they would magically shrink to the size of the wearer to be skin tight so they'd fit anyone from five feet to six-and-a-half feet tall). He'd still have four outfits to spare, but wasn't sure who to give them to, or if he should keep them as spares. He put his new boots on and walked down the stairs.
He saw that the common room was empty, so he sat down on a couch and waited for Hermione. After five minutes, he saw her walking down the stairs. She was wearing the boots, but he could see the bottom of her legs beneath her uniform skirt, so he assumed she was wearing the shorts without legs as they'd agreed on (whatever was practical for the situation). She looked a bit nervous as she approached him.
"I was wondering. Um, I know the Dursleys wouldn't have taught…Do you know how to dance?"
A frown formed on his face as he put his head down, feeling a bit ashamed. He took a deep breath. Looking at the ground, he answered, "No. I'm sorry, I…"
"It's all right, Harry," she assured him, putting her hand on his arm. "I only asked because I thought I could teach you if you didn't know how."
He looked up at her with a neutral expression. "Teach me?"
"Yes. If you can learn advanced dueling, charming broomsticks to fly, and occlumency, then surely you can learn how to dance."
Nodding, Harry agreed, "When you put it that way, I suppose…"
"Excellent! We'll add that to our training." She took a deep breath. "I suppose you'll want to do it in your trunk so nobody knows."
"Of course. And don't tell anyone, either."
"Don't worry," Hermione replied with a big smile. "This'll be fun. I just have to borrow a…Wait a minute. That Pensieve Professor Dumbledore gave you for your birthday will be even better! I'll put memories of my dance lessons in there and we can go in together."
"You took dance lessons?"
"Yes. A few years before I came to Hogwarts. My parents thought it was important for me to learn ballroom dancing. It'll be good for me to review as well."
"I, I guess we can do it, but actually, the Pensieve is in my bedroom in my trunk, so we'll still have to do it in there."
"Okay." She took a deep breath. "We'd better get to class or we'll be late."
Shortly after dinner, Harry and Hermione showed up at the Defense Against the Dark Arts office.
"Hi, guys," greeted Sirius with a grin.
"Hi, Sirius, I mean, Professor Black," replied Harry.
"Hello," said Hermione.
"Come on in."
After they'd come inside and closed the door, Sirius asked, "What can I do for you?"
"Actually," answered Harry, "There are two things. The armor arrived this morning."
"Yes it is. The other thing is that we need to do some…extra training in my trunk."
He smiled. "Still obsessed with not being caught in the trunk. Even with wards against tampering on it."
"We just don't want it to be common knowledge that my trunk has an apartment inside it. I get enough grief over the closet. Everyone wants to hang their dress robes in it. I tell them to get their own."
With a wink, Sirius commented, "I'm not sure if I should let the two of you be alone in there…"
"If we were doing something…inappropriate, we wouldn't bring it to your office."
"So you bring it somewhere else for that?"
"No," replied Harry, now blushing, "We stick to broom closets for that."
Chuckling, Professor Black said, "I see."
Harry pulled the miniaturized trunk out of his pocket and set it on the floor. He then resized it and opened the closet compartment, causing a small closet to pop out of the trunk.
Here's your dragon hide outfit," Harry explained as he pulled it off the rack. He then grabbed the boots to go with it.
Harry then closed that compartment, and opened the one that had stairs leading down. "Ladies first," he said to his girlfriend, who smiled and began walking down. Once Harry got inside, he closed the trunk and set the security system.
They walked past the living (training) room, which now had a screen that Hermione had invented that showed a view of the room the trunk was in – in this case, Sirius' office.
When they entered his bedroom, Harry declared, "Now, I've got you right where I want you!"
"That's funny. I thought I had you right where I wanted you," she replied with a smirk as she walked toward the desk where the Pensieve was kept. She put her wand to her temple and extracted the silvery memory, depositing it into the Pensieve. Grabbing his hand, she said, "Let's go," and they fell down into the memory.
Harry looked around and saw a short, bushy-haired little girl with buckteeth walking into a room with a blond-haired man who appeared to be in his early thirties. She was accompanied by Mrs. Granger, who hadn't changed much, aside from a few gray hairs.
"Hello, Miss Granger," greeted the man. "My name is Mr. Carsini, and I'll be your dance instructor."
"Hello, Mr. Carsini," the girl responded politely.
"You really were little," commented Harry to the older Hermione. "How old were you, anyway?"
"Nine," she answered quickly, "Now be quiet and listen."
The man started playing a cassette of ballroom music. "Now, the first step I'll show you is…"
An agonizing hour later, the two of them emerged from the Pensieve. For Harry, it was agonizing because of his humiliation. For Hermione, it was for the frustration of being stepped on. She had mentioned that she was glad she was wearing her new boots. Otherwise he'd have injured her feet. Toward the end of the lesson, however, he had begun to catch on, and he agreed to practice with her every day until he'd gone through all the lessons, and then once a week until the ball. Hermione looked around the room as she sat down on the bed for a minute. She noticed something that she'd told Harry not to bring.
"Harry! Why do you have that Cupid painting in here?"
He chuckled. "I have the cure for it in the medicine cabinet."
"You're not seriously considering using that on someone, are you?"
"Only the deserving," answered Harry with an evil grin.
"Such as…" asked Hermione.
He looked at her for a moment with an unreadable expression. "You're not gonna turn this in to McGonagall like the broom, are you?"
She looked hurt. "Of course not. I only did that because I thought that broom would endanger your life. You said you understood."
He put his arms around her. "I do understand. I'm sorry I asked. I know better than to think you'd try to get me in trouble."
"All right," she murmured into his chest. She then looked at him with mischief in her eyes. "So, who are you planning on using it on?"
Not long after, they left the trunk and Sirius asked, "Did you have fun?" with a wink.
Harry blushed but Hermione replied, "Oh yes! I was in Harry's arms almost the whole time," and they walked off, hand in hand.
Exactly one week after the Daily Prophet had gone out of business, Harry was sitting at breakfast with Hermione, Ron, Ginny, and Neville. Each of them was now wearing dragon armor beneath their clothes. Suddenly, a huge flock of owls seemed to fill up the Great Hall, each of them laden with a parcel. One of them flew to each of the students. Harry untied the package from the owl's foot and it flew off, as did the other owls when they were relieved of their packages.
He unrolled it and found that he was holding a wizarding newspaper, but it wasn't the one he was familiar with. It was called, 'The Howler.'
Harry smiled, remembering the howler Ron had received a few years ago, and read the front page article.
"The Howler eats up the Daily Prophet after Readers Demand the Truth
By Anna Jesse
Several weeks ago, a group of dragon tamers from Romania led by Charlie Weasley called into Listening Lucy Lenour's talk show to complain about the outright lies that the newspaper formerly known as the Daily Prophet printed on a regular basis.
The specific case that drove Mr. Weasley to this action was when the now bankrupt newspaper completely misrepresented an incident in which the wanted murderer Lucius Malfoy and accomplice Igor Karkaroff (believed to be dead) captured Harry Potter (the Boy-Who-Lived) and trapped him in an enclosure with three attacking dragons. Not only did Mr. Potter survive, but he managed to kill a Hungarian Horntail in front of the trapped dragon keepers.
'We'd never seen anything like it,' said Mr. Weasley. 'We all thought he was a goner. That fourteen-year-old boy shot a spell that actually killed a horntail. Normally, it takes four of us casting together to even affect a dragon.' For more details on this story, see page eight.
The point is that the Daily Prophet reporter Rita Skeeter claimed that Harry had snuck in and killed the horntail while it was asleep, damaging his reputation. Those dragon tamers called upon the public to stop paying for a newspaper full of lies, and the public answered, canceling subscriptions until finally the so-called newspaper went bankrupt.
Their equipment and office were recently purchased by Augusta Longbottom, matriarch of the Longbottom family. 'Without communications, our society would fall apart. The wizarding world needed a reliable newspaper, and no one else seemed willing to do something about it, so I decided to buy it, and you'd better believe that I won't tolerate any lying from my reporters!' Madam Longbottom has long been a respected member of wizarding society known for her integrity.
She chased out several former Daily Prophet reporters attempting to gain employment, threatening to hex them. She claimed they deserved it for the lies they'd spread. She hired a new staff and put out this special sample issue for every magical person in Europe. If you wish to continue receiving this paper, fill out and mail the subscription form on the last page of this issue."
Harry flipped through the newspaper happily, although he frowned while reading about Death Eater attacks. He (along with everyone else) turned to Neville, who had his face buried in his copy.
"How come you didn't tell us your grandmother was starting a new newspaper?" asked Ginny.
"I, I didn't know."
"Well, I think that's great, Neville," said Harry. "I'm going to subscribe."
"Me, too," added Hermione.