What Would Slytherin Harry Do: The Sneak
Disclaimer: Not Mine. No Profit. No Shit.
by Big D
"EXPECTO PATRONUM!!!!" Daphne Greengrass bellowed fiercely.
Her robes fluttered in an unfelt wind and long, dark brown hair lifted off her shoulders, waving about as if she were underwater as she forced every drop of magic she could possibly channel into the spell. Her wand responded with a brief, almost taunting puff of silver mist that looked like it should have been accompanied by a rude noise.
"BLOODY FUCKING USELESS SPELL!!!!" she howled, clenching her wand in a white-knuckled fist and glaring around the room as if searching for someone to curse. Most of the students in the Room of Requirement edged away from her carefully, trying not to draw the rather unbalanced girl's attention to them with any sudden moves. Most of them had been witnesses to at least one of her temper tantrums, and while no one had been permanently injured yet, none of them wanted to take a chance on being the first.
A few feet away, leaning against a table with his arms folded across his chest, stood a slender, neatly-dressed young man with shoulder-length black hair tied back in a loose tail. Bright green eyes contemplated the frustrated girl as he gave her a second or two to calm down before asking a question.
"What memory did you use?"
Daphne turned to look at him and grinned slightly. It was a feral smile, more at home on a Doberman than a debutante. "The time I hexed Longbottom's elbows backwards."
Over her shoulder, Harry could see the boy in question lift his head and narrow his eyes at her. His thumb tapped the grip of his wand, but Harry caught his gaze and shook his head almost imperceptibly. Neville frowned slightly, then returned to his practice. He had not been one of the students who had moved away from Daphne once her temper had started to flare. If anything, it looked like he might have drifted a few feet closer. He made a mental note to schedule an exhibition duel between the two of them for the next meeting. Longbottom had been progressing by leaps and bounds and was itching to show off what he could do, particularly against one of the people who had made his life miserable over the previous four years. Greengrass just needed to be taken down a peg or two, and shown that there was someone in the school other than himself who wasn't afraid of her. Getting her delightfully rounded backside handed to her by an ickle Griffy would also be excellent motivation for her to improve her occasionally sloppy wandwork.
Focusing back on the matter at hand, he chuckled slightly. "I don't think that's quite the sort of happy memory you want to conjure a Patronus with. Perhaps something a little more... innocent."
She rolled her eyes at him. "I don't do innocent."
"You also apparently don't do Patroni." he chided.
She growled at him slightly, but they were distracted by a chorus of gasps and coos from the other side of the room. Cho Chang had just managed a corporal Patronus, a bright silver swan that was currently preening its shimmering feathers under the admiring eyes of a widening circle of students. She was the third person in the group, other than Harry himself, who had managed the feat so far. The other two, Hermione Granger and Tracy Davis, had each settled in at opposite ends of the room from each other and seemed dead set on pretending that the other girl didn't exist. They had also conspicuously allowed their Patroni to continue manifesting themselves, Tracy's tiger lounging sleepily at her feet while Hermione's otter swam gracefully through the air around the room.
"I'll bet her happy memory didn't involve any painful joint bending," he said, nodding at the Ravenclaw girl.
Daphne raised an eyebrow at him. "I guess that depends on exactly what the two of you got up to after you nicked her away from Diggory and disappeared after the end of the Yule Ball last year."
He made a pained face. "Never gonna live that one down, am I? Anyway, it doesn't count, I was only trying to get into Diggory's head."
"So you took a shortcut through Chang's knickers?"
He shrugged. "You know what they say: It's not the destination that matters, it's the journey."
She snorted. "And now you've got your own lovesick little eagle following you around, whimpering for you to notice her again."
He winced again. "It's not my fault. I tried to give her back to Diggory, but she wouldn't go for it. Even tried a Memory Charm, but I think I twiddled it. She still remembered what we had done, but she kept forgetting where her bed was."
Daphne started to say something else, but they both turned as the door banged open and a tiny figure dressed in garish, but perfectly tailored robes that made him look like a miniature version of Albus Dumbledore rushed in and scurried over to Harry, glancing around fearfully and knotting his hands through the long fake beard glued to his chin. Harry bit down a laugh at the sight of his house-elf. He had mentioned in passing over the summer that imitation was the sincerest form of flattery, and Dobby had taken the words rather literally. He'd barely managed to prevent the creature from carving a lightening bolt into his own forehead with a butcher's knife and had given firm orders never to try and imitate him again. So Dobby had settled on the next best thing. Harry had to admit that it was a rather artful, Slytherin-esque, dodge of a direct order and had allowed him to keep the look. Dumbledore himself seemed to get a kick out of it as well.
Daphne didn't bother to hide her guffaws, but Dobby ignored her. Several other students, including Tracy and Hermione, had seen the house-elf's frantic entrance and had wandered over to investigate.
"Master Harry, Master Harry!!!" he squeaked. Hermione huffed at the "Master" part, but was fighting back a smile at Dobby's choice of lime green robes trimmed in neon yellow. Someone in the back joked that he looked like a billboard for 7-Up, but many of those in attendance had no idea what either one of those items were, so it didn't draw many laughs.
The jokes ended when Dobby finally spit out his message. "She is coming, Master!!! She knows Master is here!!!"
"Umbridge?" Harry asked, and several people gasped when Dobby nodded. "Shit!"
Harry glanced around the room, counting heads. "Who's not here?" he barked.
Tracy and Hermione were the quickest on the uptake and answered almost in unison, with equal amounts of venom. "Edgecombe." They blinked in surprise, then glared at each other for a moment before turning back to him.
He made another mental note to arrange a duel between those two as well, should they ever have another DA meeting after this. Maybe he could sell tickets, with the Longbottom-Greengrass tilt as an undercard. He'd probably sell a lot more if he could convince them to make it some kind of Bikini Bookworm Pillow Fight. He could tell Granger that the proceeds would go to SPEW, then tell Davis that he was tricking Granger into thinking that the proceeds were going to SPEW. It might work. It might also explode in his face and he'd have the two smartest witches in the school putting aside their personal and House feuds to team up and kick his ass... but what's life without a little risk?
He was pulled out of his train of thought by someone asking him what they were going to do. Glancing up, he could see panic etching the faces of the people around him and bit back a sigh. All right, Potter, time to show them why you're the one in charge. He put on his game face.
"Dobby," he ordered, "Bug out back to the kitchens. You were never here. We never spoke. Got it?" The house-elf nodded and scampered away.
Some of the students seemed to take that as an indication that they too should leave and began making for the door. Harry snapped his fingers and willed it closed.
"Um, Harry?" Neville ventured, raising his hand. "Shouldn't we be bugging out too?" Several people around him nodded eagerly. "You know, with the Pink Toad Bitch on her way and all?"
He snapped his fingers again and willed enough chairs for everyone into existence. "No, we have a lesson to finish. Now everyone sit down." A number of people looked at him doubtfully and eyed the door again. Harry felt a stab of irritation go through him. "Sit!" he snapped.
If he didn't know better he'd have thought that they all apparated to their seats. The DA members moved in such a rush that Tracy and Hermione actually ended up right next to each other, much to their mutual disgust. Maybe mud wrestling instead of a pillow fight. Bet he could make a fortune off the omniocular recordings.
"Now listen, 'cause I'm only going to say this once," he told them. "If you don't want to be expelled, keep your mouths shut and follow my lead. Everything is completely under control, so all you have to do is try not to look guilty." He raised an eyebrow. "Creevy! What in the name of Morgana's saggy tits are you doing?"
"I'm pinching myself to make myself cry. If I cry, my mummy always lets me off easy."
Harry rolled his eyes and stared at the ceiling for a moment while the rest of the room snickered. "Bloody Gryffindors," he grumbled. "Still, for him, I suppose that qualifies as cunning." He glanced back down and saw that Collin was still at it. "Stop pinching yourself, you little git! You're fourteen years old! Act like it! And if you so much as sniffle when Umbridge gets here, I'll shackle you to a tree in the Forbidden Forest and make you chew off your own leg to get loose!"
That got their attention. Nothing quite like the threat of imminent violence from the Boy-Who-Duels-With-Dark-Lords-And-Lives-To-Tell-The-Tale to remind people that he was much more frightening than Umbridge could ever hope to be.
Harry began to walk them through the basics of the Patronus Charm one more time, but had hardly gotten started before the door flew open and in marched the Frilly Pink Nightmare herself, followed by a dozen of her hand-picked Inquisitorial Squad. The Squad consisted mainly of the upperclass Slytherins who weren't members of the DA, which meant Malfoy and his little tribe of inbred mutants. The single exception was a rather uncomfortable looking redheaded Gryffindor, who was trying to appear menacing while avoiding the venomous glares of his little sister and twin brothers. He tried to surreptitiously catch Harry's eye, but Harry ignored Ron in favor of gracing the High Inquisitor with a pleased smile.
"Professor Umbridge, how very nice to see you," he said brightly, without a trace of sarcasm. "Is there something we can help you with?"
"You're caught now, Potter," Draco Malfoy spat. "Maybe if I ask them nice they'll let me be the one to snap your wand for you." He seemed gleeful at the prospect, but Harry didn't even bother to acknowledge him. He continued to patiently watch Professor Umbridge, waiting for her to say something.
She had stopped just inside the door and was taken aback for a moment by the fact that none of the students whom she was about to expel seemed very bothered by her presence. Most of them looked at her with varying degrees of disinterest, as if she were just briefly interrupting and they would soon go back to whatever they were doing. She quickly regained her composure and her wide mouth split open in a smile that seemed to literally go from ear to ear. "Well, well, well," she simpered in that horrendous, little girl manner of hers. "If it isn't the Boy-Who-Lies," she said, stretching out and emphasizing the last word.
Harry kept the easy, polite smile plastered onto his face and resisted the urge to scratch the back of his right hand. I must not tell lies was all but carved into his flesh at this point, but nothing would be served by rising to her pitiful bait. 'You want to play, bitch?' he thought, 'Then let's play.'
"As I said, it is of course a pleasure to see you, Professor Umbridge. But I'm at a loss to understand what all of you are doing here." He snapped his fingers as if he'd just thought of something. "Unless you were planning on joining us? You're certainly welcome to, there's plenty of room." He snapped his fingers again and thirteen more chairs appeared. Several of the Inquisitorial Squad raised their wands at the display, but they were just as confused by Harry's offer as everyone in the DA was. Most of them had turned back to face Harry so that Umbridge couldn't see the astonished looks on their faces.
She marched towards him while the IS spread themselves out to prevent anyone from making a break for the door, not than any of them appeared to have any interest in leaving. "I have not come here to join you, you arrogant, ungrateful little child, I have come to remove you from this school!" she hissed once they were face to face. Harry allowed his eyebrows to knot in confusion, as if he couldn't imagine why she would possibly want to expel him, but said nothing.
Adopting a more conciliatory tone, she turned back to the rest of the DA. "But that fate does not have to befall the rest of you poor darlings. I can give you all my personal word that no one who cooperates with us will be expelled. I am well aware of how confusing Mister Potter's lies can be, and I'm sure that none of you knew that you were breaking the law by allowing him to lead you astray." She blinked at a soft snort by Daphne, but pressed on. "Miss Granger? You have such a bright future ahead of you. Do you really want to throw it all away for a silly boy with delusions of grandeur?"
Hermione folded her hands primly across her lap and looked up at Umbridge with an level gaze. "I'm sure I have no idea what you're talking about, Professor. No one's doing anything wrong here, least of all Harry," she said with total conviction.
Umbridge frowned, then turned to Neville. "Mister Longbottom. What would your dear Grandmother think if you came home with your wand snapped? Your parents were heroes to the Ministry. If they were here, they would tell you to do the right thing. You can be a hero as well, all you have to do is help us."
Neville's fists clenched angrily as she brought up his parents. "You're right. My mum and dad were heroes. And if they were here they'd tell you exactly where you could stick my broken wand."
The Room of Requirement filled with barely stifled laughter, some of it coming from the Inquisitorial Squad, until Umbridge flicked her wand and set off a blast of sound that nearly deafened everyone inside. Her eyes scanned the still snickering DA, trying to see if there was anyone who might crack. She seemed to be looking for Gryffindors, hoping to exploit the divide between them and Slytherin. Her eyes fell on Fred and George, whom she immediately dismissed as irredeemable, then landed on Ginny, who cut her off before she could even get started.
"Percy's a useless bootlicker. Ron's a horrid prat. And those robes make you look like one of those awful pink muggle snack cakes that my father skips across our pond," she stated with a bright, cheerful smile. More laughter ensued. She reached back to slap away Fred's hand as it tried to ruffle her hair and saw Harry looking at her pointedly. "Oh, and we're not doing anything wrong," she said almost as an afterthought. Behind her, Ron flinched as if someone had punched him in the gut and tried to draw Harry's attention again, to no avail.
Umbridge rounded on Harry again, who was still smiling politely, and not laughing in the slightest. "Come with me," she growled. "The Minister is waiting for us in the Headmaster's office. He will deal with you."
Harry clapped his hands excitedly. "Wicked! Come on, gang, let's go talk to the Minister!"
"I didn't mean all of you."
"Well, if we're all supposed to be in trouble, shouldn't we all go?"
She frowned at the large group of students who, only minutes before, had been practicing Merlin only knew what kind of curses and hexes. "You will have to surrender your wands."
Harry smiled again. "Of course." He handed over his wand and motioned to the others that they should do the same. None of them looked happy about it, but they complied.
They marched to the Headmaster's office, Umbridge in the lead, with Harry whistling an annoying little tune next to her and the Inquisitorial Squad bringing up the rear. Harry could hear snatches of conversation behind him, most of it insults being traded between the DA and the IS. So far the plan had gone perfectly. The only real danger had been if one of the DA members had cracked, but they had held together like the army they were supposed to be. He frowned for a split second. Except for Edgecombe, but that was a matter for another time.
Dumbledore's eyes tightened as he saw Harry and Umbridge enter his office, then blinked several times as nearly fifty students, DA and IS combined, piled in behind them. Percy leapt to his feet sputtering, but Kingsley merely caught Harry's eye and chuckled, knowing that he was in for a show. He was sitting with another man that Harry didn't recognize, but who held himself like a fighter. McGonagall was also there, and looked worriedly at the mass of students trooping in. Edgecombe sat in the corner, sniffling, and Harry had to bite the inside of his cheek to keep himself from bursting out with laughter when he saw her. Most of the rest of the DA weren't quite so kind and Hermione looked particularly pleased with herself, but Harry shot them a look that told them that now wasn't the time. Fudge was sitting opposite of Dumbledore, glaring at the older wizard, hardly noticing the number of students flooding into the room until it was very nearly full.
Once he did notice, he gasped and stood. "This is not a town meeting!" he declared. "Get these children out of here!"
Dumbledore sat back in his chair. "Come now, Cornelius. If you intend to expel all of these wonderful young men and women, don't you at least owe it to them to look them in the eyes and tell them why?" The old man's eyes twinkled even more than usual.
Fudge gritted his teeth. "Whatever explanation they are owed, now is not the time. This room is far too small for so many people." Indeed, it was like a sardine can inside, with students packed together front to back, though Daphne appeared to have a few feet of clear air around her for some reason.
Harry raised his hand. "That's no problem that a little magic can't solve." He looked Umbridge in the eye and smirked, then snapped his fingers just as he had done in the Room of Requirement. She gasped and stepped back as the room began to subtly expand. As soon as the room was big enough, a chair for each person appeared. Everyone except Harry and Dumbledore seemed stunned for a moment at the sight of such powerful wandless magic, but soon they were all settled in and comfortable.
"Now," Harry said, leaning back and clasping his hands in front of him. "Can someone explain to me what all this fuss is about?"
"Don't play dumb with me, boy," Fudge snapped. "You know exactly why you are here."
"No, I'm afraid I don't," Harry said slowly. "Why don't you tell me?"
Fudge drew himself up in his chair. "You are here to be expelled for your blatant and repeated violations of Ministry Educational Decree Number Twenty-Four. Should you attempt to resist, you will be arrested."
Harry snorted a laugh. "That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard in my life."
"Don't you dare laugh at me, boy! If you think I won't have you arrested you are sorely mistaken. No one is above the law, not even grandstanding liars such as yourself!"
"Oh, I don't doubt your willingness to have me arrested, you proved you had no problem with that this summer. All I meant was that I haven't broken Ministry Educational Decree Number Twenty-Four. None of us have." There were some faint mutters from the DA and Dumbledore fingered his beard slowly, but right now the floor belonged to Harry and the Minister.
"Preposterous," Fudge snarled. "I have a witness." He stabbed a finger in the corner where Edgecombe was. "Right there." Marietta glanced up at Harry for a split second, then let out another soft sob and shrunk back into her chair. Across her forehead was a series of angry, painful-looking purple pustules that spelled out the word "SNEAK".
Harry raised an eyebrow. "And what exactly does Miss Edgecombe claim to have witnessed?" he asked mildly, ignoring the girl's condition. He planned to visit far worse on her once he got the chance. "Perhaps she could tell us herself." The girl whimpered again.
"She is currently incapable of speaking properly," Umbridge cut in. "She very wisely came to me and informed me I would find something quite interesting, should I visit the so-called Room of Requirement tonight. Once I finally got her to admit that it was a meeting of an illegal Dark Arts club, a pair of Binding Spells were called into effect and she was rendered unable to communicate."
Deep within his black little Slytherin heart, Harry was laughing his ass off and tipping his hat to the DA's resident pair of soon-to-be-bikini-clad brainiacs. But on the surface all he did was furrow his brow slightly and ask... "How do you know that it was a spell? I mean, most teenaged girls do tend to get blemishes at some point in their lives. Just because her's happened to have arranged themselves in a pattern that might be misconstrued as a word doesn't mean that there was magic involved."
Slytherin Motto: Deny. Deny. Deny. Well, there was also that thing about "better a cousin than a mudblood", but whoever wrote that had obviously never met Harry's cousin.
"Show him the other one," Umbridge ordered Marietta.
She squinched her eyes closed and opened her mouth. Where her normal flat pink tongue should have been was a nearly foot-and-a-half-long, slender, dark black snake's tongue with a forked tip. It flicked out into the air for a moment, then slid back into Marietta's mouth.
Behind him, Harry heard Hermione gasp and Tracy let out a self-satisfied snort.
"What do you say to that?"
Harry shrugged. "I'd say that her boyfriend is a very lucky man," he replied dryly. Edgecombe went so red with embarrassment that for a moment you could hardly read the word on her forehead and most of the males in the room grinned knowingly. Creevy looked confused, then blushed nearly as hard as Marietta when Fred and George leaned in on either side of him and began whispering in his ears.
Umbridge made a disgusted face, but Fudge ignored her and took over the questioning. "You say that you have not broken any Ministry laws or decrees, correct?" he said harshly.
Harry paused for a moment, thinking it over. He had broken dozens of laws in his short but full life, including several that would have had him in Azkaban in a trice, but nothing that Minister Fudge could possibly know about. "Absolutely not," he stated firmly.
"Then you haven't been secretly teaching a large number of students spells that have been forbidden by the Ministry?"
Harry acted as if he were pleasantly surprised. "Oh, is that what this is about? Well, actually yes, I have been teaching quite a few people at Hogwarts how to defend themselves for some time now, including a bit of what some would consider the Dark Arts. But I can assure you that none of the spells I've been teaching are forbidden or illegal in any way. In fact, we were working on the Patronus Charm just before Professor Umbridge graced us with her delightful presence." He flashed her a charming smile and inwardly howled with laughter at the confused look on her face.
Several members of the DA gasped behind him. McGonagall paled and brought a hand to her chest. Dumbledore hurriedly opened his mouth to speak, but Harry silenced him with a quick look and a discrete gesture of his hand. He sensed Shacklebolt shifting in the seat to his left, getting ready to stand and fight if it came to that, but Harry still had everything under control.
Fudge smiled for the first time since Harry had entered the room. It gave him a shark-like aspect. "So you do admit to breaking the Decree?" he purred.
He shrugged. "I don't see what my teaching Defensive spells to my classmates has to do with any Educational Decrees."
Fudge blinked. "Are you mad? Ministry Educational Decree Number Twenty-Four expressly forbids any such thing without approval from the High Inquisitor!"
Harry smiled at him one more time. This time it was neither polite nor playful. If anything, it was even more shark-like than the one Fudge had just given him. "Actually, it doesn't." He took a moment to soak in the Minister's gobsmacked face before continuing. "Ministry Educational Decree Number Twenty-Four only forbids Student Organizations, Societies, Teams, Groups, and Clubs. The classes that I have conducted don't fall into any of those categories, and so are exempt from it."
There was more muttering behind him. Percy and McGonagall both looked completely lost. Dumbledore eyebrows furrowed briefly, then a tiny, knowing smile crossed his lips. Fudge looked at him like he was a raving lunatic.
"Then what do you call this!" he demanded, jabbing his finger at the assembled DA members.
Harry leaned back in his chair and crossed his legs. "Well, I don't know what you call it, but I know that since Ministry Educational Decree Number Twenty-Four expressly defines all Organizations, Societies, Teams, Groups, and Clubs as, and I quote: a regular meeting of three or more students, then my classes can't possibly qualify as any of them."
He heard a soft gasp followed by a sharp laugh behind him and glanced back to see Tracy staring at him and shaking her head in amusement. He winked at her and she just laughed harder. Hermione looked between them in frustration, still not getting it, then closed her eyes and muttered something briefly to herself. A second later, her eyes popped back open and her mouth formed a into a surprised "O". A catlike grin spread across her lips as she leaned back in her chair, crossed one leg over the other and lifted her chin proudly. Harry smirked at her and her cheeks tinged slightly pink.
Fudge obviously had no idea where Harry was going with this, but could sense that it was going to be unpleasant. "Why not?"
"Because my classes weren't regular," Harry stated simply. "Each and every one of them occurred on a different day and time from the one before. You might say that they were the opposite of regular, random even. Or at the very least intermittent. And since the Oxford English Dictionary defines regular in this context as: occurring at fixed times, then there is no way that we could have possibly broken the Decree." Fudge looked at him in confusion and Harry flashed him another polite grin. "If you don't believe me, just ask your witness over there," he said, nodding at Marietta. He caught Edgecombe's eye for a split second and could see that she now knew just how badly she had fucked up. Harry was mere moments from wiggling his way out of this mess, and they both knew that, once he had, it would be open season on all Sneaks.
Inside, he was laughing a laugh that would have frightened Voldemort. Even if he had wanted to have regular meetings, it would have been impossible, given the need for secrecy and the conflicting schedules of everyone involved. So he had just taken advantage of the lorry-sized loophole that Fudge and Umbridge had dropped into his lap when they had rushed the Decree through the Wizengamot without taking the time to have a solicitor look it over properly.
The goblins would be so proud.
Behind him, the DA also realized that they were in the clear. Several of them were talking excitedly amongst themselves, and the Weasley's twins shared a high-five before directing an identical pair of rude gestures at Ron, who sat near the door with his Prefect and Inquisitorial Squad pins on either side of his collar. He closed his eyes and shook his head, but said nothing.
"You can't possibly be serious!" Fudge sputtered. "You know bloody damn well that's not what the law is referring to!"
Harry's eyes narrowed. "I think you made it perfectly clear at my hearing this summer that the spirit of the law is irrelevant, and it is only the letter of the law that counts. And according to the letter of the law, we have done absolutely nothing wrong," he said in a voice like a razor blade.
Calming himself slightly, he reapplied his polite smile and easy manner. "Now... not to tell you how to do your job, but if I were you, I would have banned organized meetings of three or more people. Had you used that language, then we would have been in clear violation of the Decree."
At this point, Dumbledore broke in. He looked like he was just holding in a belly laugh, and his eyes were twinkling like mad. "I realize that I am no longer sitting on the Wizengamot, Cornelius, but I do still have a great deal of experience in these matters and Mister Potter is quite correct. Should you attempt to bring any of these students up on charges, they will be quickly dismissed."
Fudge looked between him and Harry furiously. His face had gone beet red and each breath seemed to be louder than the last. For a split second, Harry thought he was going to have the immense pleasure of watching the Minister of Magic stroke out and drop dead right here on the Headmaster's carpet, but no such luck.
He pointed a trembling finger at Harry. "You stay," he hissed. "The rest of you children, get out!"
The Inquisitorial Squad wasted no time in jumping up and making for the door. The DA didn't so much as twitch.
"What are you waiting for!" Fudge demanded.
"For you to give them their wands back," Harry replied calmly, as if it were the most obvious thing in the world, which it was.
Fudge snarled, but nodded at Umbridge. Once their wands had been returned the DA finally made to leave. Several lingered near the door until Harry nodded that it was all right to go, which seemed to make Fudge that much more angry.
As soon as the door shut on the last student, Fudge rounded on Harry and started shouting.
Half an hour later, Harry was making his way back to the Slytherin dorms, letting his feet guide him absently as he furiously went over what had just happened in his mind. Plans were made, discarded, rethought, reworked, and discarded again with every footstep. As he passed through the Charms corridor, he heard someone hissing at him. Looking up, he could see Ginny waving at him from an empty classroom. Inside were several members of the unofficial DA "Inner Circle".
"How did you enlarge the room and conjure all those chairs without a wand?" Hermione asked excitedly as soon as he entered. "That was amazing!" She had clearly been dying to ask him about it.
Harry chuckled at her. "What makes you think I did that?"
"We all saw you!"
He shrugged. "You saw me say that magic could fix the problem, then snap my fingers. Doesn't mean that I cast any spells."
"Dumbledore," Tracy breathed.
He nodded. "Just some good old-fashioned slight of hand. Get the marks looking one way, while the real magic is happening behind the scenes. And if Umbridge and Fudge got the wrong idea about how powerful I am... well, that's not my fault, is it?"
"I wouldn't have thought that the old man had it in him to be so devious," Daphne said.
He gave her a flat look. "Trust me, Albus Dumbledore is the most Slytherin son of a bitch you'll ever meet in your life. How he weaseled his way into Gryffindor, I'll never know. Probably blackmailed the Sorting Hat."
He grimaced and sighed. "And now he's been sacked."
"WHAT!!!" several voices shouted at once.
There was stunned silence for several seconds before Ginny spoke up. "How?"
"Well," Harry began. "After you guys left, Pudgy Fudgey started ranting and raving like a loon. Frankly, I stopped paying much attention after the third time he told me that I wasn't going to get away with making a fool out of him. Anyway, at some point, Umbridge realized that she still had the parchment that we all signed back at the first meeting."
Tracy frowned. "Why would that matter? They already know who we are."
"True. But they were more interested in what was written at the top of the list... Dumbledore's Army."
She gasped. "You don't mean..." He nodded. "They can't have actually took that seriously!" He nodded again. Tracy rounded on Hermione. "You! I told you that was a stupid name!"
Hermione bristled. "I didn't pick the name!" she hissed. "And besides, we all voted on it."
"But you were the one dumb enough to write it on the top of the paper!"
"I didn't see you trying to stop me! You must of seen it while you were putting another Binding Spell on it behind my back! Where do you get off with that anyway?!"
"Someone had to make sure it was done properly!"
Ginny turned to Harry. "Are you going to stop this?"
"I'm thinking about it," he told her. What he was really doing was trying to remember the incantation to conjure mud, but was drawing a blank.
Ginny frowned and muttered a spell, setting off a bright flash of light that drew the attention of the fighting girls, who were rapidly approaching the hair-pulling stage, or at least the point where they hexed each other into smears on the wall. Harry's money was on Granger if it came to follicle removal, but thought that Davis might be able to take her with a wand. Granger was probably more powerful, but Slytherins fought dirty.
Tracy and Hermione turned away from each other, but both of them glared at the Weasley twins when they started applauding.
"If you two are done, maybe we can figure out what we're supposed to do now," Ginny said pointedly. They had the grace to blush, but still wouldn't acknowledge each other.
"If Professor Dumbledore is gone, who's supposed to be running the school?" Hermione asked, trying to regain her composure.
"Who do you think?" Harry replied.
Tracy's face twisted in revulsion. "Not?"
"Bloody hell," the twins said together.
"So what's the plan?" Ginny asked.
They all looked at Harry, waiting. He folded his arms across his chest and studied them in return, taking their measure, then spoke in a firm voice.
"If they think we're an army, then I say let's give them a war."
There were fierce grins around the room at that.
"It's not going to get any easier from here on out, so if you want to quit, do it now," he warned them. No one moved. They weren't about to turn tail and run now. He continued. "As we speak, Fudge is probably scurrying back to the Ministry to revise Decree Number Twenty-Four. If we're lucky, he'll revise it the way I told him to, which means that this is the last time we're going to be able to meet together like this."
Neville raised his hand. "I don't get it. Why would you want him to make it impossible for us to have lessons?"
Harry grinned at him. "Not impossible to have lessons. Just impossible to meet in groups of three or more. Which means that we can still do one-on-one tutoring."
Hermione frowned. "Harry, you can't tutor us all individually. There's not enough hours in the day."
"You're right, I can't tutor everyone, but I can tutor the two of you separately," he said, pointing at her and Tracy. "And then you each tutor two people. And then those four each tutor two people. We pass it down the chain. I'll write out teaching plans for you all to follow, and do spot lessons with anyone who starts to fall behind. From here on out, everything stays compartmentalized. They'll be watching each and every one of us, so whatever else happens we can't let them catch us in groups of more than two. I know it's not perfect, but it's definitely workable."
They all started to chuckle as they realized that Harry had outsmarted Fudge and Umbridge yet again.
"That boy is scary," Fred stage whispered to his brother.
"Good thing he's on our side," George replied.
Harry smirked at them. "Maybe that's just what I want you to think."
They thought about that and suddenly looked a little queasy.
He turned back to Hermione and Tracy. "Now what I need from you two is a plan for the rest of the chain. Who teaches who and so forth. I also need you to figure out a way for the entire DA to communicate discretely. The Galleons are fine for calling meetings, but we need a way to coordinate without having to play Chinese Whispers or pass notes."
"I don't need her help," they both replied instantly.
He snickered. "Probably not. But since circumstances seem to be conspiring against me getting to see you fight it out, then you can both amuse me by trying to work together."
They snorted indignantly at him.
"You know, it's really cute when you guys do that."
They each reddened, then sneered at each other and stomped away. Hermione sat by Ginny who whispered something in her ear that made her blush deepen. Tracy took a seat near Fred and George, who popped up and moved quickly over towards Harry when she glared at them, daring them to say anything.
They took up spots on either side of him.
"Come on, General," Fred started eagerly.
"What do we get to do?" George continued.
"Can we be in charge of chemical warfare?"
"How about letting us turn the Inquisitorial Squad into our personal firing range?"
"Particularly the redheaded git members."
"Viva la Hogwarts!"
"Viva la Revolution!"
Harry started to get dizzy from snapping his head back and forth. "Hold on, hold on," he said, throwing an arm over each of their shoulders companionably. I've got something in mind for you, don't worry. But first I need to ask you a question." He stopped for a moment, gathering his thoughts, before nodding to himself and putting on his most endearing smile. He looked at each of them for a moment.
"We're friends, right?" He asked them.
"Yeah," Fred said.
"Of course," George said.
"And you guys trust me, right?"
"Yeah," George said.
"Of course," Fred said.
"Great. Let me ask you one more thing. Do either of you know what the word kamikaze means?"
They shook their heads. "Nope," they said in unison.
Harry's grin widened. "Perfect. In that case, I'd like to officially put the two of you in charge of Operation Too Hot To Handle."
"Wicked!" they said together. "What are we supposed to do?"
"Your job is to make Acting Headmistress Dolores Umbridge kill herself."
"Harry!" Hermione snapped.
He rolled his eyes and sighed. "Fine. Your job is to make her quit." He raised an eyebrow at her at her and she nodded. "Bloody lionesses... too protective by half," he muttered before addressing the twins again. "You are hereby authorized... nay, encouraged... nay, ordered to get yourselves expelled in the course of accomplishing your assigned task."
"Wicked!" the twins said again.
"But won't they have their wands snapped?" Ginny asked.
"They're of age and have already sat their OWLs," Harry answered. "They can be kicked out, but they can't have their wands taken."
Ginny thought about that for a second. "What about mum? She'll kill them if they get expelled."
"That's why he called them kamikazes," Hermione whispered. Ginny nodded.
Harry pulled the twins away from the girls. "Ignore them, they don't what they're talking about. The estrogen makes them crazy. Now listen. If you need money or advice, get in touch with Sirius. He'll sort you out. If you need accomplices, you can use any of the DA members who haven't already been assigned something else, but try not to get them expelled if you can help it. Remember, pairs only. Got it?"
They each snapped a smart salute. "Yes, sir!"
"Great, now get to work." They stood there for several seconds, still holding their salutes until Harry rolled his eyes and returned it.
They might not have noticed the door opening if not for the fact that the twins were heading towards it. Fred was closest and dove forward, grabbing at something unseen. George quickly moved to help his brother and soon they were struggling with what appeared to be thin air.
Harry grinned to himself and grabbed a chair, flipping it backwards and settling down to watch.
"Let me go, you two!" the invisible person shouted.
Ginny's eyes widened at the sound of the voice and her mouth split in an angry snarl. She hopped up and stalked over, yanking the invisibility cloak off of Ron and pointing her wand squarely in his face.
Fred had him by the right arm. "Well, well, if it isn't our former little brother."
George had him by the left. "Moving up in the world, are you?"
"First just a traitorous bastard."
"Now a sneaking rotten thief."
"Because that is definitely not your cloak."
"Even if you were the one who ratted Harry out and got it confiscated."
Daphne had her wand out and was moving forward, but Harry caught her lightly by the wrist as she passed him. "This is a family matter," he said quietly. "Let them sort it out." She opened her mouth, but he silenced her with a quick wink.
Ginny's wand was practically touching Ron's eye. "Give me one good reason why I shouldn't hex your foul, lying face off," she said in a soft, deadly tone.
Ron's mouth opened and a painful, choking sound came out. He made a frustrated noise, then looked desperately over his sister's shoulder at Harry. "Potter!" he shouted. "Do something!"
Harry crossed his arms over the backrest of his chair and set his chin down on top of them contentedly. He didn't say a word, just smiled at the redheaded boy's predicament.
"Bloody hell, Potter! Call them off!"
A split second before Ginny was about to cast a spell, Harry interrupted her with a reluctant sigh.
"Turn him loose."
"Huh?" the twins said together.
Ginny spun around, looking at him incredulously. "What?!"
"You heard me. Let him go."
Fred and George let go of Ron's arms and he took a step back, straightening his robes. "About bloody time," he muttered.
Harry studied him for a moment before shaking his head. "The concept of a double agent is completely lost on you, isn't it, Weasley?"
Ginny's mouth dropped open. "Wait a second... what do you mean, double agent?" she sputtered, looking between Harry and Ron in confusion. "You mean Ron's not a prat?"
"Of course he's a prat," Harry returned. "I mean, he is still Ron, so that goes without saying. He's just not a backstabbing prat."
Harry could see that she still had no idea what was going on, so tried to explain it as best he could. "You remember that letter Percy sent to Ron, the one where he told him to stay away from me and get close to Umbridge?" She nodded. "Well... it sounded like a pretty good idea to me as well, so I talked him into going along with it, at least on the surface. That way I could keep an eye on her from the inside."
Fred laughed and clapped Ron on the shoulder. "Good show, old chap!"
George pretended to wipe a joyous tear from his eye. "My brother, the spy."
Ron puffed up under their praise.
"Who'd have thought he had it in him?"
"Of course, you know what this means."
"Indeed I do."
"We have our own little Snape in the family!"
"OI!" Ron shouted indignantly. "I'm no Snape!"
Ginny let out a little sob and flung her arms around him. "Oh, Ron! I'm so sorry! We all said such terrible things about you!"
He embraced her awkwardly. "It's okay, I suppose. Besides, I didn't mind that nearly as much as the way you all kept hexing me when I wasn't looking."
Ginny pulled away from him and grimaced slightly. "Yeah... sorry about that."
George had picked up the invisibility cloak and was looking it over. "But what about this?" he asked Harry. "If Ron was a spy the whole time, why did he rat you out and get it taken away?"
"It was a setup," Harry explained. "I figured that Umbridge wouldn't trust him right off the bat, so I arranged for her to catch me with it, with Ron's help of course. She was so pleased that she allowed him to keep it as a reward. So you might say that I loaned it to him in exchange for his undercover work, and occasionally borrowed it back when I needed it. And since Umbridge knew that I didn't have it anymore, she couldn't suspect that I might still be using it. Much easier than trying to dodge her at every corner, if I do say so myself."
"Brilliant," the twins whispered.
Ginny frowned and turned to Ron. "But why didn't you say anything?"
"He put a spell on me!" Ron shouted accusingly, pointing at Harry. "He made it so I couldn't tell anyone!"
Ginny rounded on him. "Did you?"
Harry shrugged, but didn't deny it.
He frowned at her. "Let me ask you this. If you had a secret that you couldn't afford to let loose, would you tell Ron?"
"Of course not."
"Oi!" Ron huffed. "I'm right here!"
"Yes you are," Harry shot back. "And that makes twice tonight that you've screwed up. Once by failing to warn me that Umbridge was coming, and just now by breaking cover."
"I didn't have a chance to tell you. I didn't find out where we were going until just before we left."
"What about the charmed Galleon I gave you for emergencies?"
Ron blushed and said nothing.
Harry sighed. "You spent it, didn't you?"
"It was an accident! I thought it was a different one!"
Ginny growled. "I know what you get for an allowance. You don't have any other Galleons." Ron leapt back as she aimed a kick at one of his shins. "Are you trying to get us caught!"
As she began to tear into her brother again, Harry made eye contact with Daphne and nodded towards the door.
Once they were outside, she folded her arms and leaned against the wall. "Does this mean that I get a mission, too?" she asked with a raised eyebrow.
"Indeed it does. In fact, I have a very special mission for you. Something that's right up your alley. Something that the little lion cubs in there probably don't have the stomach for," he told her.
Daphne's lips peeled back, showing off bright white teeth. It was eager, but it wasn't a smile.
"I like to call it... Operation Sneak Attack."
AN: I may do a few more of these, depending on the reaction to this one and how inspired I get. I had this buzzing in my head even while I was reading book five. My Harry in this is a Slytherin, but it could have been done just as easily with Gryffindor Harry in OotP. All the elements were there in the book: the Decree that stipulated regular meetings and the fact that the DA met irregularly. The part with Ron acting as a spy would have been easy enough as well, and would have helped make him more than just the whiny best friend. I remember thinking that this would have been a prefect way for JKR to allow Harry to express his Slytherin side without coming off as evil, and fully expected that it was where she was going with the story. I was pretty annoyed once I got to the scene in the Headmaster's office and saw that it was just more of the same old "Dumbledore saves Harry from his own stupidity". I don't make a habit of bashing JKR and I think it's unfair that so many people do, but I really feel like she swung and missed badly on that one.
Anyway, hope you enjoyed it!