Disclaimer: I don't own a damn thing in this. Not even a George Foreman Lean Mean Fat Reducing Grilling Machine™. I knew a guy who owned one, though. He was a creeper.
Description: After Cedric's death, Harry and company summon a demon to kill Lord Voldemort. Except, well, when the hell is summoning a demon ever turn out just the way you planned? A Crossover with Disgaea: Hour of Darkness that doesn't require you to have any idea what Disgaea: Hour of Darkness is beyond "Here be Demons."
Note: I've proofed the first five chapters, and made a few small changes here and there. I've also kept what few Author's Notes are still in here, as well.
"Explain to me why we're doing this again?" asked Harry, watching as Hermione copied the letters onto the floorboards with a piece of chalk from the sheet of parchment in her hand.
"Because if he doesn't want to fight fair, then why should we? He's already tried to sic Dementors on you, we might as well sick something back on him, right?" replied Ron, sitting opposite the incense burner.
"I guess." Harry glanced at the cauldron once more. "Some of the ingredients in this are insane. Lightning-seared salamander? A house-cat's right fang? A George Foreman Grill™?" asked Harry.
"Well, I suppose this is what happens when I ask Luna for advice," said Ron. "My question, though, is why she had a complete seal for binding a demon written in Latin? And why she was carrying it with her?"
"Sometimes," said Hermione, "I think its best not to ask," recalling the few times she ever spoke with the strange blonde Ravenclaw.
"I guess," said Ron looking at Hermione a moment, swearing to himself that he thought he'd never hear those words out of her mouth. "Are we ready to do this? Because I'm about ready to retch if I have to smell that incense any more."
"There. That's all set," said Hermione, standing and looking at the symbols she had drawn onto the floor. They were in Ron and Harry's room (of course) at 12 Grimmauld Place. It took a little time to find the right ingredients, but it seemed Luna had already had a few of the weirder ones stashed away. Hermione took the cauldron sitting on the bed, frowning at its contents once more, and placed it on top of the writing at the center of the symbol.
"Still can't believe this is going to work," said Ron.
"I checked the ingredients against a book in the library here. The ingredients are esoteric, but the arithmatic principles on them all check out."
"The book came from that one shelf that bleeds, didn't it," said Harry.
Hermione ignored him as she picked up a bamboo flute and sat down at the edge of the circle with the sheet music, also provided by Luna.
"Just have to wonder why Luna has stuff for... for... this, you know?" said Ron. "She wasn't always... off, but she's always been rather nice."
"You were the one that talked to her," replied Harry, having never met the girl.
"Yeah, I know. I think she was saying something about having a power that the Rotfangs didn't have control over or something. My eyes glazed over a bit, and before I knew it, everything was in my hands."
"Then how did I agree to this?" he asked.
"You agreed because we want to do something that'll help us win," replied Hermoine. "If we don't kill him, then we all die." And with that, Hermione raised the flute to her lips, and began to play the notes. The tune was simple enough, rising and falling up and down the music scale. It was gentle and happy at its peak, speaking to Harry of the times he was with friends at Hogwarts, or at the Burrow, and when it reached its lows, it reminded him of Quirrell, the Diary, and Voldemort himself, standing over Cedric's corpse.
Hermione kept playing, with each set of low, depressing notes, she would then rise back up into the joyous, living high notes, then once more falling into the funeral dirge of the low notes. It seemed with each rise and fall, the music got more complex, the combinations of notes more complicated, the music seemed to take a life of its own, the highs becoming higher, and the lows lower as new melodies joined into the tune Hermione played. But through it all, she played. Harry could hear the music in his chest, pounding in his ears, as each new instrument joined into the song.
He could feel the world around him, the living breath of each of his companions in this madness. He could feel the living breath of the world around him on his skin, he could hear the inhalation and exhalation of the other inhabitants of the building, he could see the living worlds turning through the depths of space, he could taste colors the human eye couldn't comprehend, and they were full of life.
Hermione was drifting to the end of it, feeling out her last notes as the song continued around them, in them, through them, centering itself on the cauldron.
She lowered the flute from her lips, and spoke the words she knew she had to speak as the music peaked.
"By the spirits of darkness and light... In the name of Harry James Potter, I hereby summon A Cunning and Murderous Demon to his side!"
The music plummeted into the depths of range, and a chorus of voices, just beyond human hearing, whispering, chanting, joining it as motes of light raised from the seal drawn on the floor. The cauldron began to bubble, even without liquid in it, power overflowing from it, and a column of light erupted.
As it faded, a figure stood next to the cauldron. Harry looked and saw a girl about his age, dressed in a black leather tube top and mini-skirt with knee-high boots and a choker with a silver skull on it. Her hair was maroon, and held into two unkept pig-tails that splayed out. Her eyes were red, her ears were pointed, a tail twitched behind her, and a small pair of bat wings twitched on her back. In her right hand, quite suddenly, was a spear.
"Who summoned me?" she asked in a low voice.
"We did," replied Hermione. "And by the seal we used, you are bound to him, conditionally."
The girl reached out her hand, and the seal that was drawn on the floor now floated in mid-air. There was a circle, and latin words floated in mid-air around it, orbiting a center circle where it was written "Tom Marvolo Riddle - the Dark Lord Voldemort."
"Oh, you just want me to kill someone, and then I go free, right?"
"No," said Hermione. "Then you get returned to whence you came."
"Very smart," replied the girl, still looking over the seal.
The center circle pulsed, and six pillars grew from it, interweaving between the latin words before breaking out of the outer circle, each one creating a crest at its peak that Harry, Ron, and Hermione recognized. Five glowed with the rest of the seal, but one just looked like it was written in chalk.
"Eh?" asked the girl, looking at each of her summoners, in turn.
"Don't look at us," replied Ron. "And especially don't look at me. I don't know a damned thing about this stuff."
"It's the Dark Mark," said Harry.
"The Dark Mark? Tacky," said the girl, examining the symbol, poking it with her spear. The snake shifted out of the way of it. "Very tacky. So who am I here to kill?"
"The Dark Lord Voldemort," replied Harry, ignoring Ron and Hermione as they winced.
"Who?" asked the girl.
"He's a wizard. An evil one. He tried to kill me when I was young, but instead it almost killed him. He's killed a lot of people, and now he's finally come back. Properly, that is."
"Oh. I'd have expected to kill a good guy, not a bad guy."
"Yeah, well, when someone kills your friend, you want to kill them back."
"Ah, revenge. That I can understand. Alright, so where is he."
All three of them shrug.
"Of course. You expected me to just know, didn't you."
"Or to be able to find him," piped in Ron.
"Yeah, no. I need to know where he is, before I can charge off and kill him for you." She sighed, sitting down on the bed, the spear gone. "This is going to take a while. I can tell." She flopped back onto the bed.
There was a knock at the door, and Sirius poked his head in, looking at each of the inhabitants.
"Heard some noises in here, thought I'd check up." He looked at the girl. "Ah. Harry, you're a little young for getting a whore. Ron, so are you. Hermione, I didn't know you swung that way."
"WHAT?" screamed all three of them. The girl just signaled her displeasure with her right hand.
"I mean, certainly, I may have done a few things, as such, back when I was in school, but I waited until I was in my seventh year for something like this."
"She isn't a whore!" said Hermione.
"She isn't? She's dressed like one."
The girl raised her other hand, to signal her added displeasure at the situation.
"Yes, that's very nice, young lady, but still. How did you even get her in here? I mean, the magic that protects the house doesn't even let you write down the secret, let alone share it with someone else."
"Well... see, it's about that whole 'she's not a whore' thing, see," said Ron.
"She's a demon," filled in Harry.
"Really?" asked Sirius. "I'd like proof of this."
One of the girl's hands became an open palm, and the seal appeared in mid air.
Sirius stepped into the room, inspecting the seal.
"You bound a demon to kill Voldemort?" asked Sirius, staring at the center. "And his middle name is Marvolo?"
"Yes," replied Hermione. "It seemed like a good idea at the time."
"There's a phrase I've said before," chuckled Sirius. "Did you write this?"
"No, Luna had it," replied Hermione.
"Lovegood," replied Ron.
"Lovegood, Lovegood... oh, Merlin, of course the Lovegoods." Sirius sighed. "Like mother like daughter," he muttered. "Well, that seal is as good as its going to get. I'll have Remus look it over later, I can't remember my Latin for the life of me."
The seal vanished.
"First dementors, now this. Merlin you're making this summer interesting. I'm gonna have to get Remus and Dumbledore in on this, though. Let's not tell Molly quite yet, alright?"
"Yeah, I think that'd be good," said Ron, suddenly realizing the implications of summoning a demon in the presence of Molly Weasley.
"At least you don't have to go to the court about this," said Sirius, looking at Harry. "Keep her up here, for now. I'll send out some owls. Hermione, you think you can spare her some clothing?"
"What's wrong with my clothing?" asked the girl.
"I thought you were a whore. That needs to change before we introduce you to the rest of the order. That means proper clothing."
"This is proper clothing."
"Proper human clothing."
With a sigh, the girl once more gestured her displeasure.
"Trust me, you'll agree once you meet Molly."
She sat up, frowning, then sighed.
Hermione left for her room, and Sirius sat down, leaning against the door, blocking entry into it. He tapped his wand against it twice.
"That's better. Molly shouldn't hear a thing, now. You've got a quill and parchment?" Ron handed Sirius some, and he began to scratch out a message. "Remus'll be by tomorrow morning for Molly's cooking. Dumbledore, however... he'll probably come by tonight, for all I know. Hedwig? Be a dear and get this to Albus for me? And take your time getting back. I don't think anybody'd mind if you spent some time outside."
Hedwig swooped down to Sirius, and he tied the parchment to her leg. Harry opened the window, and Hedwig took off into the night.
"And now, once more, we wait."
"So is the rest of my time in the human world going to be this boring?" asked the girl on the bed.
"Yeah, probably," replied Sirius.
"Well, there's school," said Ron.
"Oh joy. Human school."
"Hey, it's not boring," said Ron. "At least, when we're not in History of Magic, it's not boring."
"Do they allow dueling, at least?"
"Nope," replied Sirius. "Banned that about four years before I got to Hogwarts. Dear old mum had a big row about that, trust me." He stood, and let Hermione back into the room as she stood at the door, ready to knock. "Any trouble?"
"No, Ginny was asleep. I think Mrs. Weasley's finally asleep, too. I brought some pajamas and some clothes for tomorrow."
"Good thinking. We still need to figure out sleeping arrangements," said Sirius, animating a quilt to act as a curtain.
"Can I get my own room?" asked the girl, peeling off her tube top.
"No. You lot think you'll survive with an extra occupant for the night?" he asked, looking at Harry and Ron. Harry shrugged, while Ron looked worried. The girl pulled on a pale blue night shirt.
"Not afraid I'll corrupt them?" asked the girl as she flicked a pair of white cotton panties at Hermione. "By the way, the tail doesn't work with those.
Hermione went beet red as she sat there, holding them in front of everybody.
"No, they've got enough corrupting influences on them, already," commented Sirius with a wry smile.
The girl shrugs as she pushes the curtain out the way. Her tail twitched, trapped down the right leg of the flannel pajama pants, but she looked mostly normal.
"So where am I sleeping? With him?" she pointed at Harry, whose eyes bugged out.
"No, you're sleeping on that," said Sirius, and with a wave of his wand, an ugly and tarnished silver writing desk became a bed with plain wooden head board. "I'll grab some blankets for you, but you're staying in here tonight. After that, we'll figure it out."
Sirius stood, tapped his wand twice more on the door, and left.
"Why do I feel that I've made my life much more complicated?" asked Hermione.
"Because whenever humans and demons meet, things get complicated," replied the girl, walking over to her bed and flopping down. "You summoned a demon. What did you expect? That it'd make everything perfect? Puh-leeze. You humans are idiots, if you think magic can just solve your problems."
"Yeah, well, if you want to get home, you'll have to help us," replied Ron.
"Try 'if I want to live, I have to help you.' That seal binds me to Harry James Potter until this is done. If he dies, I die."
"What?" asked Hermione, terrified.
"That's the language of the seal. It's to prevent me from just waiting for one of the two to kill each other, or even just kidnapping you and running off to the Netherworld. Most seals I've seen, I could just sit on my butt and wait for somebody to die of old age. This one binds my life to Harry."
There was silence until Sirius re-entered, carrying a set of heavy quilts, and threw them on top of the girl.
"Paisley? Must everything be paisley?" she asked, shoving them off of her face.
"Because Molly brought along all the linens from her place, so there's nothing but paisley."
"What? You mean there's nothing with snakes and stuff on it? I want something to match the doorknob."
"I burned them all, much to Kreacher's dismay," replied Sirius.
"Bah," she replied, laying back on the bed. "So who am I working for? Maybe starting from most intelligent?" she said, looking at Sirius.
"Sirius Black, unfortunate owner of this house, and wrongly convicted escaped felon."
"Wrongly convicted? What, you show up for the wrong trial?"
"Nah. Didn't get one," he replied.
The girl nodded, then glared at Hermione and Harry.
"So who are you bumbling idiots who didn't think twice about summoning me?"
"Er, Hermione Granger."
"Ron Weasley," said Ron, put off by the whole situation.
"I'm Harry Potter. Who are you?"
"Etna. So why do a bunch of teenagers want some Dark Lord dead? I mean, besides the fact that he's a Dark Lord and stuff?"
"Because he wants me dead," replied Harry.
"Well, he's a Dark Lord, and you're fighting him. So why does he want you specifically dead. I mean, I've seen more than a few Dark Lords of the Netherworld, and most of them want to kill a lot of people before somebody smacks them back down."
"You know what Avada Kedavra is?" asked Sirius.
"Wand-based insta-kill spell."
Sirius nodded. "It went Avada Ke-doink when he was about one a and a half. Gave him that scar on his forehead."
Harry pulled aside his bangs to illustrate.
"Huh," said Etna, staring at Harry's head for a moment. "I'm guessing some sort of blood-based sacrifice ritual?"
"Your guess is as good as anybody else's, whatever his mum did, she didn't share with me," said Sirius.
"Eitherway, it should have killed this dork lord. It didn't?"
"Not all the way," replied Harry. "He survived, a little bit, and could possess animals and people. He took over one of my teachers and tried to kill me my first year at school."
Etna leaned back on the bed.
"Sounds like a horcrux," she replied, staring at the ceiling.
"A what?" asked Hermione.
"Don't you lot know anything?" asked Etna. "You split off a chunk of your soul and dump it in an object. Someone kills you, your soul is anchored to the object and you can come back, just as strong as before."
"Could it take the shape of a diary that possess's people?" asked Hermione.
"Sure, if you're strong enough to put that much of your soul into it."
"Greatest wizard in living memory?" asked Harry.
"Sure, why not. Why? You find one?"
"And stabbed it with a basilisk fang."
Etna raised an eyebrow.
"That's... one way to do it. You should learn how to cast a bloodwolf, instead. Much safer."
"Bloodwolf?" asked Ron. "That just sounds dark."
"Yeah, well, most of the deadly stuff is. That's why its dark. Come on, I'll teach you." In her hand was a wand made from a black wood. She flicked it, cutting open her palm, and then flicking the wand again, muttering "Cruor Lupus." The splotches turned black, making a shadow in the ground. A black-haired wolf leapt up from the shadow, shaking itself, and stared down at Sirius with seven eyes.
"Ah," replied Sirius. "That's a hellhound, isn't it."
"Nah. Hellhounds have eight eyes, look more like overgrown welsh corgis. This is a bloodwolf. Entirely magical. Well, you going to try?"
"Er... I can't. Laws against underage magic, you see."
"Laws against underage magic? Seriously? How the hell are you supposed to practice, then? At school?"
"Duh," said Ron.
"Seriously, if this Dark Lord is after you, why don't you have a 'Practice magic anytime I want' card?"
"Because nobody believes he's back," replied Harry.
"What? Did he have a secret resurrection party in some secluded graveyard?"
"Yes," replied Harry.
"Really?" asked Etna. "In a graveyard?"
"Wow. I didn't think people actually did that." She waved her wand, and the bloodwolf sank back into its shadow and disappeared. A faint green sheen formed on her hand, and the wound closed.
"So, basically, I'm gonna sit on my ass until your school starts... when?"
"A month," said Harry.
Etna nodded. "Thirty days of boredom, here we go."
"I'm sure," said Sirius, as he opened the door. Albus Dumbledore stood, ready to knock, but merely raised an eyebrow at Sirius.
"Honestly Sirius, you would have been a much better student had you tried."
"Hello to you to, Albus. Honestly, this is the most fun I've had in months."
"I know, Sirius, but you're a wanted man." Albus stepped into the room and surveyed its occupants with a sigh. "Lovegood, you say?"
Sirius nodded. Albus looked at Etna.
"I suppose that means if I try to banish you, I'll kill young Mr. Potter, correct?"
"Can you use a wand?"
Etna used her wand to conjure a glass of water.
"Might I see your seal?"
Etna's wand disappeared once more, and she held out her hand. The seal once more floated in mid-air. Albus pulled out his own wand, sifting through the dead language.
"I'm afraid my latin's a tad rusty, but it seems this should hold her in check. That there are seven spokes to the seal and only one target, however... that's unusual. The demon Grindlewald's supporters summoned had a single target, myself, but the few studies I've done indicate that multiple spokes means multiple targets."
"I don't know why that happened, Headmaster," said Hermione. "The seal I drew to summon her didn't have the spokes."
"I thought that was obvious," said Etna. "One spoke for each Horcrux, plus him. One spoke is already done, that's the diary you mentioned. The rest are waiting to be found."
"These Horcrux's, they are parts of his soul? Anchoring him to this world, even when his body is destroyed?"
"How do you know of this?"
"I'm a demon. We know things."
"I am more than certain of that," replied Albus. "I just wonder how much you will... corrupt young Mr. Potter."
"Meh. I've probably got some succubus somewhere in my blood, but not much given how flat my chest is."
"I was describing you as a demon in general, not as a demon in specific. I imagine, however, his friends will keep the pair of you in check. My one concern is whether or not you will blend in during the school year."
"Blend in during the school year?" asked Hermione, Ron, and Sirius.
"Oh, that's easy," replied Etna. She cracked her knuckles and assumed a lotus position on the bed. She began muttering under her breath, and Harry could feel the hairs on the back of his neck rise. Something about what she was saying, he could feel it. Just as quickly as it started, it was done. The small batwings and tail were gone, and her eyes had taken on a deeper purple color, rather than the blood red they were originally. Her pointed ears were also mostly round. "There, all done. Hey Hermione, you still have those panties? Cause they'll fit now. Granted, your bras won't, cause you're a bit bigger than me."
Hermione was silent.
"But seriously, blend in during the school year? You're going to make me go to a human school?"
"Yes." Albus looked at Harry. "While I do not approve of this... method, I am well aware of the late Mrs. Lovegood's abilities in regards to the summoning and the sealing of demons. I imagine that you three will be able to keep her in line, and that, in turn, she will be able to teach you a few more... interesting spells. Now, I suggest we all get some sleep, so that we are better equipped to deal with the consequences of our actions in the morning."
Chapter 1 ½
Well, I needed to add a few scenes.
Ginny knew something was going on. Hermione had been in and out of their room all night long. And now she wasn't the first person down for breakfast. Therefore, something was going on.
Her mother had long practice with determining something was going on, but was sufficiently distracted by the presence of Albus Dumbledore that she didn't really have time to make any comment on it. Remus Lupin arrived as well for breakfast, dragging down Sirius, and the pair of them were chatting at one end of the table. Sirius seemed to be in a very good mood, which just confirmed it more for Ginny. She kept glancing at the stairs, waiting for the other shoe to drop.
And drop it did, as Harry lead the others down the stairs, as there was a fourth person in the trio. She smirked, watching the quiet, guilty shuffling of Hermione and Ron, while Harry seemed to just ignore all the pressure. The girl seemed entirely blasé about the whole experience.
"Who is that?" asked her mother.
"Ah, she's a recent arrival from America," began Dumbledore, who promptly began spinning a story with soliloquies that Ginny had a hard time keeping track of, at least until she glanced at her mother.
Molly's eyebrow twitched, and Ginny knew she wasn't buying it. Seven children, and the twins especially, had honed her ability to see through bullshit like it was spring water.
"Who is she really?" ground out Molly Weasley.
"Told you it wouldn't work," said Sirius, smug as ever.
"Oh, I had hoped," replied Dumbledore.
"I'm a demon," replied the girl, sitting down at the table, and starting to shift food onto her plate.
There was a quiet silence at the table.
"A demon," repeated Molly.
"Yep," replied the girl. She held up her hand. "See the seal?"
Ginny watched as a glowing runic circle appeared before them.
"And why does it say You-Know-Who in the center of it?" Molly demanded.
"Because I was summoned to kill Whoever-He-Is," replied the girl, who promptly began eating the food in front of her.
"A demon," ground out Molly.
"I do believe I said that. You aren't deaf or anything, are you? I know that old fart isn't, but I never know with you humans."
Ginny laughed as Molly Weasley immediately began tearing into both Sirius and Dumbledore for somehow allowing this to happen.
"Well, Harry, do you have anything to say for yourself about this?" asked Molly Weasley, having finished tearing into everyone and everything in sight.
"No," replied Harry.
"No?" asked Molly. "And why's that?"
"Because it's not like anyone'll listen," replied Harry.
Molly's mouth snapped shut, while Etna cackled with glee.
"You are not allowed to use your wand!" shouted Molly Weasley.
"Sure I can," replied Etna, stacking the plates in their appropriate cabinets. "It's not like I'm underage."
"Yes you are!"
"No, I'm older than you, you annoying hag. Now quit your whining, and let me do the chores you've dumped on me."
Sirius was laughing at this.
Fred and George Weasley were sitting at the kitchen table, clutching on to mugs of hot chocolate for dear life. They'd turned up two hours previously, and they still hadn't said a word of what happened to them during the day they were missing. Everyone did notice that Kreacher was now smiling, and nobody really wanted to know why.
Harry knew that Molly was making a fair impression of that volcano in the US that exploded when he was six. The silver was rattling, four glasses had shattered, and nearly everyone else had left. Arthur had tried to remove Harry, but stopped at Harry's reasons.
"I brought her here, she's my responsibility," said Harry.
Arthur nodded, glanced at his wife, still screeching at Etna, and wisely left. The twins remained at the table, completely ignorant of their mother's apocalyptic rant. Molly hadn't noticed Harry's presence, so focused on Etna as she was.
Harry wasn't even paying attention to what she was saying anymore, tuning her out like he did Vernon and Petunia when they got a good rant going. And then he realized that Molly wasn't Vernon, wasn't Petunia, and uttered two words.
It still took Molly half a minute to realize she wasn't making a sound, which was roughly the same amount of time it took Harry to realize he'd silenced her without his wand. When she did, she quickly realized who did it, and pulled her wand.
The tip was pointed at him, as she began to angrily mouth words at him.
Harry looked at the tip of the wand, and watched it glow.
"You're no better than Snape," he said, glaring at her. Molly looked somewhere between shocked and brained at the look of outright hatred directed at her. "Fred and George stole from her, and then refused to give it back. And since apparently even the twins can do no wrong when it comes to her, no one did anything. So Shut. Up."
And with that, Harry turned and left. Etna watched him go, a thoughtful expression on her face.
Hermione was worried. Per the usual, she was worried about Harry.
Something had happened, and now Harry was supremely civil to Mrs. Weasley. Normally, there was a level of warmth in their conversations, but Harry was distant, even if Molly acted like nothing was wrong.
Hermione wanted to ask questions, but knew it was a fruitless endeavor. The more important it was, the less Harry would talk about it. She knew she could try to talk with Etna, except that would be going behind Harry's back, and that would make things worse. Talking with Mrs. Weasley was utterly pointless, since in Mrs. Weasley's mind, she could do no wrong.
So Hermione kept a close eye on Harry, as she always did. And she would stand by him, as she always did.
Author's Note: Originally, I'd planned an Angry Harry Rant in this part. Then I realized that Harry never gives an Angry Harry Rant unless someone's died, and the one he's got is being saved for Umbridge. He does, however, defend others. There was also a really really good bit of Hermione introspection... that didn't really work within the framework of the story unless I wanted to do some orbital bombardment on later chapters. So I'll save it for something else.
"Shall we find a compartment, then?" asked Harry.
"We're... well... Ron and I are supposed to go into the prefect carriage," said Hermione.
"Oh, right. Fine."
"Harry, it'll be alright," said Ginny. "Come on, we'll find a carriage and they can catch up."
"Yeah," said Ron. "It's not like we want to, well, we want to be prefects, but we don't want to be in that carriage instead of, well, with you. I mean, I'm not Percy."
Hermione rolled her eyes.
"No one's accusing you of being a prat, Ron. Now come on, we don't want to be late."
Hermione and Ron went forward, while Harry, Ginny, and Etna went backwards into the train. Harry couldn't decide if they were staring at him, because of the Daily Prophet, or at Etna because she was, supposedly, an American. His eventual conclusion was, "maybe a little bit of both."
In the last carriage was a puffing Neville Longbottom.
"Hi Harry, Hi Ginny... err... hi," he said, looking at Etna.
"Etna de Malebolge. I'm an American transfer student from New Salem. And you are?"
"Neville. Neville Longbottom. Harry, everywhere's full, I can't find a seat."
"What about right here?" asked Ginny. "There's room here, it's only Loony Lovegood."
Neville mumbled something about not wanting to disturb anyone.
"Did you say 'Lovegood?'" asked Etna.
"Yeah. She's odd, but alright. Why?"
"Ron mentioned talking with her. I've always found it interesting to meet people with interesting points of view."
Ginny was silent as she opened the door.
"Hi Luna, is it okay if we take these seats?"
She looked at the four people wishing entrance into the compartment, then nodded, her eyes finally resting on Harry.
"Had a good summer, Luna?" asked Ginny as the four of them sat down.
"Yes," said Luna, not taking her eyes off Harry. "Yes, it was quite enjoyable. You're Harry Potter."
"I know I am," said Harry.
Neville chuckled. Luna turned to him.
"I've seen you before, but I don't know who you are."
"I'm nobody," murmured Neville.
"No you're not," said Ginny. "Neville Longbottom – Luna Lovegood. Luna's in my year, but in Ravenclaw."
"Wit beyond measure is man's great treasure," said Luna in a singsong voice. She turned to Etna. "And I don't recognize you at all."
"Etna de Malebolge, American Transfer student," said Etna. "I've heard about the Lovegoods prior to this, however. Ron had interesting things to say about you."
"I imagine so," she replied. "I believe my father is interested in writing an article on you. Just why are you here?"
"My parents were English wizards who were killed in the war, but they had some muggle friends looking after me. As near as I've been able to find out, I was left to them for my own safety, and they left for America to escape the war. A few years later, they were killed in a car crash, and I was put into the American foster care system. I received my letter, started at New Salem, and took an interest in finding out who my parents really were. I got that much of the story through correspondence with the American Department of Magic and the British government, but I've hit a brick wall with the Ministry of Magic and Gringotts. They need papers signed in blood in front of witnesses and that sort of thing, so the Headmistress over at New Salem had me transferred across the pond."
"A fascinating story," said Luna. "I'm certain the Quibbler would be very interested in running an expose on the truth."
"Oh, I'm more than certain," replied Etna. She turned to Harry. "I like her. Can I keep her?"
"No," replied Harry.
"Sadly, slavery has been outlawed by Wizarding Law since 1954. Mind you, it's been outlawed by Muggle Law in the United Kingdom since 1833..." said Luna, drifting off. "One has wonder the implications of that upon a society, to be one hundred years behind another. Granted, America abolished slavery in 1865, and because of the structure of the American Department of Magic, it followed suit with only a fair bit of grumbling."
"Humph," replied Etna. With that, the door to the compartment slid open.
"Hello, Harry," said a nervous voice.
"Hi, Cho," said Harry, bolting upright.
She surveyed the compartment, with Luna staring at her upside-down quibbler, Neville looking anxious for some reason or another, Ginny eyeing her for some reason or another, and a girl she didn't recognize sitting next to Harry.
"I... I just wanted to say hello," she said. "Bye then." The door closed and she was gone.
"Interesting," said Etna, looking at Ginny.
"What?" asked Ginny.
"You can learn so much about people's reactions by looking at them," said Etna. She glanced at Luna. "You don't like that girl, do you Luna?"
"I'm afraid my house and I have differences of opinion."
"That a nice way of saying they don't like you?"
"I suppose it is," said Luna. "But, I think, the more important question is do I care whether they like me or not?"
"I definitely like you. So what's your opinion on the girl that just stopped by?"
"Cho Chang," supplied Luna. "She was very interested in Cedric, before he died." Luna cocked her head in thought for a moment, and looked at Harry. "I imagine since she came all the way to the last car, she is likewise interested in you. I do hope you don't die, you seem rather fascinating."
"I'll try not to," replied Harry, looking at his hands.
There was silence in the car, as Ginny glared at Etna, Luna raised her magazine once more, and Neville sat and looked confused.
"So... Neville was it?," said Etna, getting a feel for her cabin mates. "I'm trapped here with you for the next few hours, tell me about yourself."
"I said 'tell me about yourself.' That means say something about yourself. Especially when a girl does it. This is an important life skill for a boy, so get some practice!"
"I'm good with plants?"
"Nevermind," said Etna.
An hour passed in silence and discomfort, broken only by the food cart.
The door opened again, this time Hermione and Ron stepping inside. Ron flopped onto the bench between Harry and Etna, while Hermione sat next to Luna, but with as much distance between them as possible.
"I'm starving," said Ron, biting off the head of a chocolate frog. With a quick discussion of the merits of the various new prefects and the Quibbler (which amused both Ginny and Etna to no end), the door opened a third time to reveal a boy with blonde hair, flanked by two half-trolls.
"What?" asked Harry.
"Manners, Potter, or I'll have to give you a detention. You see, I, unlike you, have been made a prefect, which means that I, unlike you, have the power to hand out punishments."
"This is Malfeasance, or whatever his name is?" asked Etna.
"It's Malfoy. And just who are you?"
"Etna de Malebolge, proud owner of a far more awesome last name than you."
"The American," spat Malfoy. "I imagine we'll be running into each other a fair bit as well, no matter what house you wind up in."
"Careful now, or I'll end up in yours. What'll you do then?"
"Like you could ever meet the standards to be in my house."
Etna leaned forward, looking at the two boys behind Draco.
"You sure about that? Because I'm amazed those two can stand upright, let alone get an education."
"The purity of their blood is the standard they are held to," replied Draco.
"Oh, so it's a matter of inbreeding," said Etna. "That just makes me even happier that I'm an orphan. Run along before I have an actual urge to hurt you."
"Do you have any idea who my father is?"
"Nope," replied Etna, glancing at her finger nails. She breathed on them, and buffed them on her shirt. "I'm very sorry, but I am from America, which means I am an uncouth barbarian. The names and faces of high society are beyond me. As I recall, we Americans attempted to outlaw foreign titles for our citizens in order to tell people such as yourself to fuck off and die."
"I should have you in detention for a month for that insult," said Draco.
"Insult you? I insulted you? Why would I need to? You're an insult to your species as it is. Telling you that is a public service," said Etna, not looking up.
Draco started drawing his wand, only to find Etna's under his nose.
"You keep drawing, and they'll be scraping you off the walls."
"I'll teach you your place, bitch."
"I welcome you to try."
Draco stepped back, and looked at Harry.
"And I'll be dogging your steps all year long, Potter. You can be sure of that." With that, he escaped back up the train.
"Were you trying to provoke him?" asked Luna, glancing over the top of her quibbler.
"Yeah. I was hoping for something to ease the boredom, but I guess I'm losing my touch."
"Hmm. Given Draco's temper, I would likely blame Uksprogs. They cause a calming affect to prevent injury to their natural habitat."
"And just what is their 'natural habitat'?" asked Hermione.
"Hair with to much product in it. I imagine he got the infestation from his father."
Ron giggled at that.
"How'd the twins describe Lucius? A French Pornographer?" asked Ginny.
"His dad's name is Lucius?" asked Etna. "No wonder the kid's got problems."
"Trust me Harry, you aren't crazy. Only special people can see the zombie horses."
"Well now, it's not often I find a demon under my brim."
Aw, I'm not your first?
The Hat chuckled.
"No, a rather memorable succubus was my first, back in the 1300s. I sorted her into Gryffindor. You on the other hand... hmm, no, you don't have the right insanity for Gryffindor. I'm not even going to consider Ravenclaw, but Slytherin... oh, you have ambition and cunning to spare, young lady."
That obvious, huh?
"Oh, yes. You'll backstab and double-cross just about anyone to get what you want. Everyone except the ones you trust. You'll stand by them until the end, won't you? Sorry, no Slytherin for you. Besides, you have to admit, no one expects the demon to be in HUFFLEPUFF!"
"How did you get sorted into Hufflepuff?" asked Hermione in the hallways. "I expected you to be in Slytherin."
"I think the hat didn't want a bloodbath."
"Pity," said Ron. "So it dumped you in Hufflepuff?"
"Nah, the hat just thought I wasn't crazy enough to be in Gryffindor."
"What?" asked Hermione.
"Sorry, I'll tell you later," and walked past Hermione and Ron, and onwards into the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom.
Once there, she sat with Susan Bones. Silence reigned until everyone was seated.
"Well, good afternoon!" she said.
"Good afternoon" was the half-hearted reply.
"Tut, tut. That won't do, now, will it? I should like you, please, to reply 'Good afternoon, Professor Umbridge.' One more time, please. Good afternoon, class!"
"Good afternoon, Professor Umbridge," most chanted back at her. Etna remained silent.
"There, now. That wasn't too difficult, was it? Wands away and quills out, please."
Etna pulled out a purple fountain pen with platinum trimmings.
Professor Umbridge tapped her own short wand against the blackboard, and began to lecture them on the deficiencies of their previous professors. Etna began to write out the passage with the pen.
"Excuse me, what is your name, miss?"
"Etna de Malebolge," said Etna, placing her pen back on her desk as she finished.
"I said quills out, Miss de Malebolge."
"Is there a problem with me using a fountain pen?" asked Etna. "I apologize, but as an American student, I never learned to use a quill."
Umbridge made a humph noise. Susan furrowed her brow. She recalled Etna using a quill in potions not an hour before.
"I suppose in your ignorance, I can excuse you this once. Endeavor to learn how to use a quill, Miss de Malebolge. Fountain pens will not be allowed on the OWLs. Please borrow one from a neighbor. I will be taking your pen," said Professor Umbridg with a smile..
"I am quite capable of putting away a pen," said Etna, capping it and placing it in her bag.
"No, dear. I said I will be taking your pen," Professor Umbridge replied, her smile getting only wider.
"And I said I'm putting it away, because I don't want to lose it."
"Are you suggesting I will lose your possession?" Umbridge's head leaned to one side.
"Suggesting? No. I just don't trust you."
"I am a Professor of this institution. Why wouldn't you trust me?"
"Because I don't trust anybody with it, except the person who gave it to me."
"Accio Pen," said Umbridge with a wave of her wand. "Accio Bag," she said again, and found that not even the strap of the bag moved.
"Anti-summoning charm," supplied Etna with practiced ease.
Professor Umbridge narrowed her eyes, and walked up to Etna's desk, picking up the bag.
"I wouldn't," said Etna, leaning back in her seat, with her hands behind her head.
Umbridge touched the clasp of the bag. Terror – raw, bowel-loosening, run-the-fuck-away-screaming terror took hold of Umbridge as she threw the bag across the room and ran screaming out the door.
"What did you do?" asked Susan, as Etna flicked her wand, and a burst of wind threw her bag back across the room.
"Terror ward on the clasp," replied Etna, opening her bag. "I just ignore it." She picked through the contents, and examined the pen in question. She returned it to its place, and then closed the bag. "Stupid bitch didn't even realize it was there until it hit her."
"Terror ward? You aren't even in ancient runes."
"That's cause you guys learn Norse and Celt. There's more languages than those two, and I don't feel like learning a new one. Besides, every Dark Arts teacher I've had before knew my bag was warded from the first day."
"She should have?" asked Ernie, a seat in front of them.
"If she was any good, yeah. Snape noticed it when I walked into potions."
"Was that why he held you after class?" asked Susan. "I thought it was because you were a friend of Harry's."
"He asked me a few questions about it. McGonagall was annoyed by it, and Flitwick was fascinated by it, too."
"So... you're a friend of Harry's, right?" asked Ernie.
"Do you know anything about what happened at the end of last year?"
"What, the whole Voldemort thing?" She smiled as the others flinched at the name, but nodded. "Yeah, I asked Harry about it. Cedric was killed with a killing curse from Voldemort. Voldemort underwent a ritual to bring back his body, then summoned his Death Eaters and tried to duel Harry. Instead of sticking around to be killed, Harry grabbed Cedric's body and ran for it."
"So you believe him?" asked Ernie.
"That portkey had to go somewhere, and people don't just drop dead of an Avada Kedava of their own volition. You have a better explanation?" Etna looked at each of her new housemates in turn. "I didn't think so."
"You know, Albus warned us about you," said Pomona Sprout. "Told us you were a demon and how you were summoned to kill... to kill... you-know-who."
Etna was seated across from her, hands clasped on her lap, looking moderately innocent. Pomona had a half-empty bottle of vodka sitting on her desk, and a half-full glass in her hand.
"He said you would likely be source of headaches, no matter what house you wound up in."
"I imagine I'm source for him, as well," said Etna, almost trying to be helpful. Pomona stared at Etna for a moment, and then emptied the glass.
"The amount of trouble you have caused..." Pomona closed her eyes and took a depth breath. When she opened them, she poured herself another glass. "You're been given a detention for the rest of the week. That bitch isn't someone to just annoy."
"I wasn't going to give up my pen."
"It was given to me by my lord. He signed my contract as his vassal with it, and gave me that pen."
"He's the reason you're in my house, isn't it? Your loyalty to him."
"That's what the hat said."
"I just hope some of that loyalty goes over to Potter. Merlin knows he needs it."
"You too?" asked Etna, walking up to the doorway to Professor Umbridge's office.
"Said Voldemort was alive to her face," said Harry. "I heard you had her running screaming."
"Twins'll probably ask me how."
"Maybe," said Harry, but then recalled what she did to them to stop them from pranking her. "But I doubt it."
"Let's just get this over with," said Etna.
"I think I'm going to kill her," said Etna. She was sitting with Harry and Hermione in Herbology two days later.
"Why would you kill Professor Sprout?" asked Hermione, horrified.
"Not, Sprout. She's nice. I'm talking about Umbridge. Just a knife between the shoulder blades. That's all I'm asking for."
"You're horrible," said Hermione.
"No, this is horrible," replied Etna, putting her hand on the table.
"What... what is that?"
"This is what happens when you have to write lines with a blood quill. Harry, show her yours."
"I told you, I'm not raising a fuss over this."
"Harry, that's illegal!" said Hermione. "Blood quills are only to be used for signing legal documents!"
"Is something the matter?" asked Professor Sprout from the fore of the green house, where she was speaking with Neville.
"Yes!" said Hermione and Etna, while Harry said "No!"
"I'm telling my Head of House," said Etna to Harry. "If it gets the bitch fired, then we don't have to deal with her."
"What is it?" asked Professor Sprout, walking up to their workbench.
"I was wondering about the school's policy on blood quills," said Etna, pulling her sleeve back over the wound as Harry glared at her.
"For the most part, they're banned. Last I recall, there are a few in Madame Pompfrey's office for signing off on certain medical procedures and in Dumbledore's office for writing some of the larger bank drafts. Why?"
"So Professor Umbridge shouldn't have brought any onto school grounds?" asked Etna.
"Nor should she make students write lines with them?"
"Miss Granger, partner with Mr. Longbottom, and make sure the rest of the class completes the assignment. I will be escorting Mr. Potter and Miss de Malebolge to Professor McGonagall, and then we will be speaking with Professor Dumbledore."
Harry once more found himself in the Headmaster's office. Professor McGonagall and Sprout were both standing in front of the Headmaster's desk, while he and Etna were seated off to the side. She had an odd smile on her face, and Harry guessed she was enjoying the trouble she was causing. Professors Sprout and McGonagall were both mad, Harry could see that much. Sprout was shaking with rage, but hadn't unleashed it on anything yet. McGonagall, if it was possible, was even more stern and severe than usual.
Harry had only met Susan's aunt once before, and that was at the same time as Dolores Umbridge. She was back from Umbridge's office, with eight feet of parchment in hand, standing at Dumbledore's shoulder.
When she had arrived, she inspected Harry's hand with her monocle, and then Etna's. She had glared at Etna, and after a hushed conversation with Dumbledore and an inspection of Etna's seal, she left Dumbledore's office for Professor Umbridge's with only a single comment.
"The greatest proof he's alive, and I have to cover it up. We'll have words about this, Albus."
Dumbledore had merely nodded.
Dolores walked in behind Snape and Flitwick, and Harry would later tell Hermione she knew she was in for it.
Dumbledore conjured a simple wooden chair in front of his desk, and pointed at it. Dolores sat down. Harry saw Snape smirk, and Flitwick smile. Etna leaned back in her chair, expecting a show.
Albus leaned forward, and unrolled the parchment. One said "I must not tell lies." The other said "I must do what the teacher tells me." Each was written in the rusty red of dried blood.
"Dolores, please explain to me why I should not let you rot in Azkaban for assault of a wizarding minor?"
"Assault? I think not. How I punish my students is up to my own determination."
"The law argues otherwise," said Dumbledore.
"Forced use of a blood quill is assault," added Director Bones.
"And I forced them to do it?"
"You just admitted it, Dolores," replied Director Bones, tapping her monocle.
"I haven't said anything."
"No, but you all but confirmed that you did force them to use a blood quill. In Harry's case, I imagine he didn't even know what it was. Miss de Malebolge, did you know what it was?"
"Yep," replied Etna.
"Well, then, if I'm to be arrested, I want my right to consul."
"It's very unfortunate, but you aren't going to be arrested, Dolores. Due to the politics of the situation, any attempt at arresting you right now will result in nothing more than a pardon from Cornelius. However, the statute of limitations on assault, especially on a minor, is a very long time, Dolores. And we both know with Voldemort's return, it's only a matter of time. If you ever set foot on the premises of Hogwarts again, you will leave it in chains."
"I'm afraid I can't leave until my replacement has been selected," said Dolores with a toady smile.
"Given my recent findings, I'm afraid that a replacement cannot be selected by the current administration," supplied Director Bones.
"Professor Dumbledore's comments on the dementors made me check their presence at Azkahban. There, I made a disturbing discovery. For three days, two of their number were missing. We track their numbers at the prison, Madame Undersecretary, using very refined and specialized magic. While every once in a while one of their number will leave the premises for short periods of time, this never exceeds more than five hours. Those three days were August 1st to August 3rd. On July 29th, Percy Weasley made a visit to Azkaban to deliver a sealed letter from Minister Cornelius Fudge himself. The stated reason for this letter was to, quote, 'ascertain the position of the dementors on this supposed impossible and illogical return of You-Know-Who,' end quote. The dementor's written response was, quote, 'we have heard nothing,' end quote. According to Mr. Weasley, his letter was then crumpled up, and thrown into the sea. I asked Mr. Weasley from whom he originally received the letter, and he stated you, Madame Undersecretary, gave him that letter, on behalf of Minister Fudge.
"Today, I have learned you tortured Mr. Potter and his friend, Miss de Malebolge.
"In my business, Madame Undersecretary, that is to much of a coincidence to ignore."
There was silence in the room. Etna was leaning forward in her chair with rapt attention. Snape, Harry would later swear upon his parents grave (he then wondered where it was, so he could visit it), was smirking.
"Well," said Dolores. "Well," she repeated, trying to find some ground on which to stand.
"As such, I will be appointing a Senior Auror to teach this class. Someone with both the qualifications to teach it and the restraint to not torture one of her charges."
Dumbledore stood up from his desk, and walked to the fireplace. With a pinch of floo powder, the flames turned green.
"Ministry of Magic." He turned to Dolores. "Madame Bones, if you would escort her from the premises?"
"Certainly Professor Dumbledore."
"I look forward to your selection of a teacher for this school," said Dumbledore.
Once they had left, Etna was first to speak.
"Damn, I was hoping for some blood."
"I think she wants to tear out all of her hair," said Etna, about the new DADA teacher.
"Oh, come on, we aren't that bad," said Ron.
"No, you lot aren't. Everybody else is," replied Etna. "That, and she's used to people that know how to cast a basic protego."
"Aren't you supposed to have high marks in DADA?" asked Ron.
"Nope. I've got high marks in Understanding the Dark Arts," said Etna. "Entirely different. Less focus on creatures, more focus on spells. Dark creatures would be covered under a NEWT level Care of Magical Creatures elective, since its America, and most of the Dark Creatures are kept in Wyoming and Montana."
"Why do you even know that?" asked Hermione.
"Because I studied my syllabus and the course book for New Salem. Mostly because I want to blend in. The longer I blend in, the more likely I'll be able to kill Moldevort."
"Voldemort," supplied Harry as Ron flinched.
"Right. Moldevort," said Etna. "Come on, Harry, time to train you. You two coming?" asked Etna, walking up the stairs to the seventh floor.
"Why are we coming here?"
"Because Dobby said to," replied Etna, stopping at a landscape painting that contained a group of giants playing golf with human skulls. Etna glared at the wall opposite it for a moment, then paced back and forth a few times before an arching doorway revealed itself. "Hermione, remind me to give the little runt some work to do."
Hermione sputtered until she stepped into the room.
"The Come-and-Go room," said Etna. "It's what you need, when you need it. And right now, it's a dueling chamber."
The three humans stared at the "dueling chamber." The walls were black obsidian, a pair of candelabras casting strange shadows. Snakes and skulls adorned the columns placed at random through the room, and statues of things Hermione thought it best not to think about lined the room.
"This is..." started Ron, trailing off, unsure of what, exactly, this was.
"You two staying?"
Hermione and Ron both supplied affirmatives.
"Then I'm going to assess your skills individually. Ron, you first."
"What? Oh, um, Ex-URK," cried Ron as he was thrown into the obsidian wall. He felt the back of his head and then screamed as a spear of ice smashed into the walls, he scrambled away, casting a protego only to have a blade of green slash through it, this giving him barely enough time to duck as it gouged out a trench where his neck was.
"Come on! You can't suck that much!" yelled Etna. "Now get up! Give me a solid protego!"
Ron stood, his knees shaking, and screamed the spell, a semi-solid wall of light forming in front of him.
"Better," said Etna. A tongue of flame splashed across Ron's protego, and beads of sweat began to roll down his forehead. "Oh, come on! I'm going easy on you."
"Should we try and save him?" asked Harry.
"I think she knows what she's doing..." said Hermione. "Or, at least, I hope she does. I'm impressed, though."
"She hasn't vocalized a single spell. It's all silent magic, and it's all elemental conjuration."
Flame cut out, and another spear of ice sent Ron dodging behind a pillar, screaming.
"Good! You figured out how to dodge. Now pay close attention, Hermione, you're next!"
Hermione blanched as a blast of wind sent Ron flying across the room, skidding to a halt. He scrambled to his feet, screaming as a bolt of electiricty shattered the stone behind him.
"Faster! You need to run faster!" shouted Etna. Her wand twisted, a burst of flame was curved by a gust of wind, rounding around the pillar.
"I SURRENDER!" screamed Ron.
"NO MERCY!" screamed Etna back, and then cackled as she sprayed water across the floor, and then sent another bolt of electricity into it.
Ron and Hermione were propped near where the door should have been, watching as Harry take the beating Etna was dishing out.
"Do you think she's tired at all?" asked Ron.
Hermione shook her head. She was panting, and wondering where she'd find enough hair restorative to get back all of her hair after Etna "accidentally" got a little close with a flame conjuration. Not that having her head on fire slowed Etna down.
Harry cast another protego, but only used it to provide Etna with another target, letting her destroy it with a wind-based cutter. He threw a regular cutter and a stunner back at her. She took the cutter on her arm, a small red welt rising underneath her destroyed clothing, but dodged the stunner and returned with a projection of flame that Harry had to outrun. As he fled, he launched a stream of random jinxes and hexes in Etna's general direction that she just ignored. How? wondered Hermione. Was it because she's a demon? She noticed Etna's legs wobble a little from a jelly-legs jinx, but everything else she just outright ignored.
Ron shielded a random jinx that Harry hadn't aimed right as he slid behind a pillar to try and catch his breath.
"You're doing better than your friends, Harry, but now its time for things to get more complicated." With two quick wand movements, a blood wolf grew from the floor. "Kill it, or explain to Miss Pompfrey how you got injured! Your choice! Tonare!" shouted Etna, the blasting curse shattering the pillar as Harry dived away, casting a cutter to make the wolf howl as it scrambled across the obsidian floor. It skidded past Harry, trying to snap at his legs, but missed as Etna sent a bolt of lightening in Harry's general direction. She cackled again, ignoring the bludgeoner returned with, taking it in the gut with a mild cough. With a whip of her wand, she cracked a firewhip in Harry's general direction, and began moving opposite of the blood wolf.
Harry's cutter caught the wolf off guard, digging into its front shoulder, grazing part of its neck. Harry made a run for it, tossing a bludgeoner and a reducto behind himself, hoping to at least slow Etna and the wolf down.
"That tickled, Harry!" was Etna's return, snapping the firewhip through another of obsidian pillars, already half destroyed by several of Etna's spells. The wolf limped after Harry, and he threw another blasting curse at it, tearing the creature in half. Its body sank into the floor as Harry sent another cutter and stunner at Etna, followed up by an expelliarmous.
"Oh, come on!" taunted Etna, taking the cutter, but dodging the stunner and the disarming spell. "Is that it? Is that all you've got? I want some creativity!"
Harry launched a set of silver ropes at Etna, who caught them. He sent a bolt of electricity through them, causing Etna to twitch and laugh.
"That's the spirit! Keep it up!" she shouted.
"I want to die," groaned Ron from his bunk. Harry was entering the room, having finally gotten out of the shower.
"It wasn't that bad," said Harry, disbelieving what he was saying as he ran the towel through his hair. Every part of his body ached.
"She wanted to kill us!"
"If she wanted to do that, she'd have done it," said Harry, falling onto his own bunk.
"She's teaching us how to fight," said Harry.
"You don't teach someone how to fight by trying to kill them!"
"I don't know, it's always been a good teacher for me," grumbled Harry. "When are quidditch tryouts?" he asked, shoving the conversation in an entirely different direction.
"End of the week," said Ron.
"Then we also need you to practice for Keeper."
"You think I could pull it off?" asked Ron.
"I know you can pull it off. You just have to do it."
"How do you manage to keep up on homework?" asked Harry, collapsed at one end of a destroyed Room of Requirement.
"By being smarter than you," replied Etna, tapping her foot on the obsidian floor. "I thought that was obvious. Come on, I want you to cast that other shield charm I taught you."
"What, the bunker shield?" He waved his wand, not bothering to stand up, muttered the incantation under his breath and a column of blue light formed a few feet away. A sickly yellow bolt of power splashed through it, and Harry screamed in pain.
He jumped to his feet.
"What the bloody hell was that?"
"Shieldbreaker's curse. Pretty specialized charm for hurting someone hiding behind a shield charm."
Harry glanced at his bunker, realizing it was just as solid as before.
"What does it do?"
"It hurts whoever set up the shield charm. Voldemort isn't one for casting shields, but it'll cause pain in a priori incantatem if you want to go for one."
"How do you know these things?" asked Harry, practicing the wand motion he had seen Etna make.
"My boss's wife taught me. She was a witch, and she wanted to pass on what she knew. Even made me my wand. Enough of the ancient history, though. Try it out."
"What's the incantation?" asked Harry.
"Intent's more important, anyways." She threw up a bunker shield. "So go on, I know you want to hurt me after the amount of shit I've done to you," she said with a smile.
Harry went through the wand motions, focusing his intent on making the spell happen. A faint yellow splotch lept from his wand to the shield.
Etna glared at him, then made two quick slashes with her wand.
Harry promptly fell to the ground, trying not to scream.
"That was a bloody crucio!"
"Yeah, so? Now cast the shield breaker, or it's only going to get more painful."
Harry made the wand motions again, the sickly yellow curse leapt from his wand and slammed into the bunker shield. Etna twitched.
"Much better!" said Etna. "Congratulations, your first bit of silent magic! Just to warn you, from here on out, I expect everything to be silent."
The blood drained from Harry's face as Etna pulled out a piece of tape, and banished it across Harry's face. While he clawed at it, Etna conjured a firewhip. He deemed it smarter to just run for it.
Harry held the letter in his hands, having taken a more roundabout route at Nearly-Headless Nick's advice. It had taken him quite a while to write it, and he had gone over it in his head a few times just in case.
Hope you're okay, the first week back here's been terrible, I'm really glad it's the weekend.
Our new friend is nearly as nice as your mum when it comes to teaching. I'm writing because that thing I wrote to you about last summer happened again last night. Our new friend was watching, and noticed immediately, and after I explained what I wrote you last summer, our new friend became rather quiet. Do you have any thoughts as to why?
We're all missing our biggest friend, we hope he'll be back soon.
Harry called down Hedwig, and gave her the letter. He stood at the windows, watching Hedwig fly off into the distance, and just feeling better at the day. He had a better Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, Etna wouldn't try to kill him until Tuesday evening, and it was beautiful Quidditch weather. Then he saw it rise out of the trees.
The zombie horse Etna had joked about, and Luna had, apparently, also seen.
It soared in a wide circle over the trees, then dived back into them. Gone before he could do anything, think anything, but just go into shock at having once more seen one.
The Owlery door opened behind him, and he jumped and quickly spun around, seeing Cho holding a parcel and letter.
"Hi," said Harry.
"Oh... hi," she said. "I didn't think anyone would be up here this early... I only remembered five minutes ago, it's my mum's birthday." She held up the parcel as evidence.
"Right," said Harry. His brain attempted to catch up with his mouth, attempting to find something suitably witty to remark upon, but there had been a zombie horse. His brain failed.
"Nice day," he said, gesturing at the windows. His brain smacked his mouth upside the head while screaming The weather? You idiot! in a voice that sounded suspiciously like Etna's.
"Yeah," said Cho, looking for an owl. "Good Quidditch conditions. I haven't been out all week, have you?"
"I was for tryouts," said Harry.
Cho picked one of the school barn owls. She coaxed it down onto her arm, where it held out a leg for the parcel.
"Hey, has Gryffindor got a new Keeper yet?" she asked.
"Yeah," said Harry. "It's my friend Ron Weasley, d'you know him?"
"The Tornado-hater?" said Cho. "Is he any good?"
"Yeah," said Harry, remembering the tryout itself. "He needs a bit of work, though," thinking of just how nervous Ron had been the entire time. It didn't help when the pain lanced across his scar. Etna had been watching the practice, stating she was under orders from the Hufflepuff captain, since she was "friends" with Harry.
Of course she had noticed it. She'd pumped him for information afterward.
"You'll have to forgive me when I say I hope he stays nervous."
"I- er- I heard about what happened with Umbridge," said Cho. "Putting you in detention, and doing- doing what you had to do for telling how- how he died."
"It was mostly Etna," said Harry, looking at his feet. "Getting her fired, and all."
"You stood up to her, anyways," said Cho. "You were really brave for doing that."
Harry's brain near melted at that, thoughts tumbling through it as he ran on automatic, helping Cho with tying the parcel to the owl.
"I couldn't help it," said Harry, as they watched the school owl take flight out the window. "Just what she was saying, I had to say it. It couldn't not be said. I was there, I watched- I watched it happen. And she was saying it didn't, even though Cedric was dead."
Cho smiled at that, and Harry knew he'd said the right thing as they left the owlery.
Etna yawned as Snape talked about the various properties of Moonstones.
"Is the subject matter to uninteresting to hold you attention, Miss de Malebolge?"
"Yes, actually. It's moonstone. It's a sodium-potassium-aluminum silicate. It's not interesting to look at. Ground up, it's even less interesting to look at. It's uses in potion-making are even less interesting than that."
The Ravenclaws were all deathly silent. A few of the Hufflepuffs were shaking in their seats as Snape glowered at Etna. Etna grinned.
"Miss de Malebolge, we will speak with the Headmaster after class."
The rest of class passed, Etna smirking in her seat, while the other students were worried for her sanity. Then again, she was both a Yankee, and friends with Harry Potter. It was par for the course.
When the bell rang, Etna remained in her seat, while the rest of the class filed out like a funeral procession.
"Your Occlumency is impressive," said Snape.
"You don't get to my age without learning a few tricks," replied Etna.
Snape was unimpressed, then with a swirl of his cape, stalked out of the potions classroom. Etna followed behind, bag over her shoulder. It was a short hike to the Headmaster's office, and Etna wondered just how mad Albus was to use "Mars Bar" as the gargoyle's password, but didn't comment.
"Ah, Miss de Malebolge, so pleasant to see you," said Albus, unfazed.
"I'm sure. So when were you going to tell me that Harry needed to die so Voldemort could?"
"Ah," replied Albus. He shifted in his seat uncomfortably, Etna tapping her foot on the stone floor. "I was unaware."
"Albus, I'm a demon. You can't lay the bullshit thick enough with me."
"Potter has to die?" asked Snape.
"They can get into each other's head for a reason, you idiot. Doesn't anybody here know anything about horcruxes, let alone a living horcrux?"
"I had guessed it was such a thing, but to have confirmation... they share souls?"
"Yeah. Pieces of them, anyways. But Harry doesn't have the sort of power to- wait, Sirius said it went Avada Ke-doink. Did he mean the spell bounced?"
Etna muttered something incomprehensible, then flopped into one of the Headmaster's chairs. She stared at Fawkes, who stared back at her, annoyed to be in the presence of a creature so unrepentantly dark.
"His mother sacrificed herself for Harry, didn't she? I mean, actively stood in front of Voldemort and said, 'take me, not him,' right?"
"Correct," said Albus, Severus blanching at the Dark Lord's name.
Etna rubbed her temples.
"Blood magic," muttered Etna. "Always comes back to blood. He doesn't have the knowledge to survive." She stared at Fawkes another moment, before nodding to herself.
"What are you planning?" asked Albus.
"Blood is the life," Etna quoted to herself. "Another mother's sacrifice. Typical," she muttered. "Albus, just so we understand each other, if you think I'm going to go quietly, you can think again. And if you think that kid can go dark? Given how he was raised, there's no way. If he hasn't lost the plot already, he isn't going to lose it ever."
"It's only going to end in heartbreak and misery," said Etna, looking down the corridor at Harry chatting with Cho.
"And what do you know?" asked Ginny.
"Harry's thick as this rockpile's walls, while Cho is whiney, needy, and looking for a good rebound guy. I give it two months before they actually try to date, when we show up, and watch them wallow in the misery of being with each other."
"Why are you telling me this?"
"How did you react to me?" asked Etna, still staring as Harry wandered away from Cho, the pair of them splitting, heading off to classes.
"What, when Harry and Ron and Hermione lead you down to breakfast? The way they just knew Mum was going to scream at them?"
"It was hilarious," said Ginny, giggling as she remembered it.
"You know I'm training Harry, right?"
"I want to see how well you can do," said Etna. "Alongside Harry."
The spear came from nowhere, shattering the pillar between Ginny and Harry. Shards of obsidian dug into their sides as they both leapt away. Harry sent some blue-green curse at Etna's blood wolf, while Ginny scrambled to her feet, sending a bat-bogey hex at Etna.
The mucus bat attempted to claw at Etna's face, but she just reached out and crushed it with her bare hand, a spray of mucus splashing across the ground.
The wolf was coming apart all along its left side, chunks of fur and flesh falling off and melting into the shadow beneath the creature, but it limped after Harry. He cut his own hand, and his own blood wolf, barely half the size of Etna's, leapt from the floor and launched into a rolling brawl.
Harry was terrified.
He'd never seen Etna so calm, before. Normally, she taunted, teased, and cackled as they trained. Instead, she was silent, precise, methodical. Flames were contained, controlled cones rather than the wild sprays she usually sent. The curses she sent were painful, nothing murderous, but still horrifying in the amount of power behind them. Poisoned flames, cursed winds all spread through the room. Half the time, Harry had no idea what Etna even cast, let alone how to counter it. Only once did she speak an incantation for a spell, and Harry wasn't even sure if she was using a human language when she spoke it. Etna coughed and sputtered, her voice screeching through whatever madness her throat attempted to produce, and there was a blast of flame in a color that Harry wasn't sure existed. It enveloped the pillar he had just run from, crackling obsidian tentacles splaying off it, attempting to reach for him and grab him with it's glass clutches.
He and Ginny had sent three blasting curses each into that pillar.
It wasn't long, though, before Ginny climbed the stairs and collapsed next to Ron, watching Harry and Etna sling spells back and forth in their dueling pit.
"Don't want to be down there?" she asked between gasps.
"Made that mistake once," said Ron. "Now we make the room with an observation platform."
Hermione was silent, watching in awe as Etna cast spell after spell, never repeating herself, barely making the wand motions, and never uttering a word.
"What's gotten into her, you think?" asked Ron.
"What, she's not usually like this?" asked Ginny.
"Nah, usually she has more fun with it," said Ron. "Maybe she's just having a bad day? Hermione, do demon's have that time of the month?"
Hermione turned to glare at Ron, and a wave of orange hit the observation deck, knocking Ron back against the wall.
"You think she heard?" asked Ginny, shaking her head at her brother's stupidity, only to find Hermione already turned back to the fight beneath them. Harry had just caught some magenta hex in the leg, tripping over himself as a turquoise bolt hit him, sending him across the room and smashing into a pillar.
"Get up," said Etna.
Harry dragged himself to his feet, wand shaking in his hand as he pulled himself to his feet.
"We're done. Go get some rest."
Harry frowned, but let it go. He limped to the stairs to the observation box, pulling up his pants leg. His entire calf was steadily purpling from a bruise. He watched Etna leave as Hermione started with some basic first aid charms, reducing the size of the bruise to merely a quaffle.
"So what's got your panties in a twist?" asked Ginny.
Etna was silent as Ginny followed her down the hall.
"No, really. Yesterday was horrible. Ron said usually you're vaguely nice. Granted, Ron's also an idiot, but generally if he says you're vaguely nice, that means you aren't Snape."
Etna stopped, and stared out the window. Ginny gave her a minute, frowned, then tried a different tactic.
"So I was trying to cast that spell you and Harry used. The wolf spell."
"Didn't work?" asked Etna, still staring out the window.
"No, it didn't. I was wondering why?"
"You have to watch someone die, first."
Ginny turned white.
"I've got to get to class," said Etna. "I'll see you at lunch, alright?"
I wonder if throwing a Prinnie at a Horcrux would destroy it?
Either way, Etna has a Plan. Granted, she's not one for step-by-step methodical plans, really. She does things by the seat of her pants. So I guess she has more of an Idea.
Which can be just as terrifying, honestly.
"Blood is the life" comes from the bible. Since nobody actually reads the bible, check out Dracula instead. Renfield says it. Crour Lupus only works if you've seen death for a reason, by the way, and it's also a very dark spell for that reason.
"Will you two just get over yourselves and fuck already?" asked Etna.
"Wh-WHAT?" shouted Ron and Hermione, stunned in place by the words. Ron promptly caught a banisher to the chest while Hermione stumbled through a protego to stop the one aimed at her. Ginny just laughed and laughed at that, while Harry sat in slack-jawed horror.
"And THAT is witty banter," shouted Etna, focusing on Hermione as Ron pulled himself to his feet.
"Glad someone else noticed that," said Ginny.
"Ron and Hermione?" asked Harry.
"Well, yeah. You remember the Yule Ball, right?" asked Ginny, watching as Ron joined the light show below.
"Unfortunately," said Harry, recalling the disaster of dating the Patil twins.
"Remember how Ron spent the entire time staring at Hermione?"
"Well, yeah, I do. Wait. You mean Ron was jealous?"
"Get over the unresolved sexual tension," continued Etna, "and make like the rabbits!"
Ginny snorted, as Etna smacked around Ron and Hermione.
"Why's she saying it, though?" asked Harry.
"Bunnies!" cackled Etna, a barrage of wind cutters tearing apart the pillar Hermione was hiding behind.
"Either to distract them, or she's sick of them not figuring it out."
"Hermione?" asked Harry. "Not figuring something out?"
"If it's in a book, I'd ask her," said Ginny. "If it's about herself or another person?" Ginny just laughed.
"Yeah, I suppose you're right," said Harry, turning back to the duel below.
Etna cackled again with sadistic glee, a spray of leaf green sparks leaping from her wand and causing brambles to grow on whatever they touched.
"So what about you?" asked Ginny.
"What about me?"
"What are you looking for in someone?"
"I dunno. I mean, I haven't thought about it."
"You seem pretty interested in Cho," said Ginny, staying focused on Ron and Hermione's progress.
"Yeah," said Harry, wondering why this conversation was even happening. "But she talks about Cedric a lot." He sighed. "It's like I'm supposed to replace him. I mean, yeah, it's nice not to be the Boy-Who-Lived, but now I'm supposed to be this really nice guy I watched die."
"I- that sucks," said Ginny.
"Yeah. Then she gets edgy whenever she sees me talking with Hermione, or even Etna. Are we even together? Or are we just talking about Cedric? I don't even know if she knows at all."
"Sounds like it's a bad idea, then."
"Yeah. Yeah, I guess it is," said Harry, watching Etna spread white smoke that lit all of Hermione's conjured birds on fire. "So, er, what are you looking for in someone?"
"Oh, you get to ask me that, just because I asked you?"
"I guess. If you don't want to tell me, you don't have to. I mean, you just listened to me whine about Cho."
"No, it's alright," said Ginny, looking Harry in the eye. "Someone cute, humble, and who doesn't treat me like some pretty piece of porcelain on the mantle."
"I don't think anybody could treat you like a dish, after seeing you with Etna," said Harry. "I guess that's not me, though, huh?"
"Harry, sometimes you might just be a little too humble."
Harry smirked, then looked back down at the rout that was occurring.
"Your turn," said Ron, crawling up onto the observation platform, and collapsing onto a cushion that materialized just for his benefit. Hermione pulled herself up the stairs, and sat down on Ron's back without realizing it. She leaned against the back of the observation platform, eyes closed, and wiped the sweat from her forehead with the sleeve of her robes.
"Should we tell her?" asked Ginny.
"I think she's asleep," said Harry, poking Hermione with his wand.
"Get down here, you two," said Etna. "I start cursing in ten seconds."
Harry and Ginny looked at each other, jumped down the stairs, and started throwing hexes and jinxes a full five seconds before Etna said she would.
"Very good!" said Etna, batting aside spell after spell without a concern in the world. "Take the initiative! If you aren't forward, you'll never get anywhere!" She lead off with a massive twisting blob of orange light, with twisting pseudopods grappling the pillars, obsidian dripping like candle-wax where it touched. Harry snapped a quick cutter into his arm, sprinkling the blood and sending his wolf at the orange thing as Ginny sent a splash of water into.
The water turned a brilliant green, splashing to the ground and turning into a troupe of spiders. Ginny swore, then sent a wash of flames into neon spiders. They crackled and screamed, catching alight, but the flames turned purple as the orange thing itself tackled with Harry's blood wolf.
"Ginny, focus on Etna!" shouted Harry, sending a set of cutters into the floating orange blob as his blood wolf launched into it, it's jaws tearing off flecks of greying magical glop.
Ginny began sending a stream of muttered hexes and jinxes at Etna, which she continued to ignore and bat aside.
"You'll never get anywhere doing that," said Etna, sending a tongue of flame at Ginny. She dodged, still slinging minor spells constantly. "You're not being forward enough! You've got to batter down the walls!"
Ginny growled under her breath, and her next set of spells were all meant to maim.
"Much better!" said Etna, side stepping a reducter curse that shattered a pillar, and replying with her usual mix of random conjuration and curses. Ginny tried to weather it, throwing shields to be battered down, dodging as much as she could but with Harry she could barely keep up with Etna. Without him, it was hopeless. Harry, though, had asked her to keep Etna busy.
She'd pull it off. I mean, it's not like Etna was trying to kill her, right?
There was something like a screeching sound, but it went more through her head than her ears. She glanced over, the orange blob was turning grey and flaking apart, and she took a bludgeoner to the stomach for her lack of attention.
"Ginny!" shouted Harry, and he whipped his wand around, angry bolts and slashes of red shattering the pillars and walls around Etna, as she dodged and weaved through them, even taking a few hits for the hell of it, as she sent waves of cascading purple energy rippling back against him. Harry weaved through the magic, taking up station in front of Ginny.
"Are you alright," he asked, not looking back, and casting as strong a protego as he could.
"Yeah," said Ginny, pulling herself to her feet.
Harry gritted his teeth as a yellow spell hit his shield.
"I'll have none of that!" shouted Etna, twirling her wand in her finger tips.
"We're taking her down," said Harry. "Hard, fast, and meaner than hell itself."
They both split, one right, one left, and began throwing bone-breakers, cutters, and anything else that was suitably painful and deadly at Etna. She ducked, weaved, dodged, conjured pillars of ice and earth, anything to stay out of their way. Then Harry's blood wolf leapt, knocking her to the floor.
"Genius bastard!" shouted Etna, her fist smashing apart the blood wolf's jaw, black shadows of blood leaking onto the floor, even as the wolf jumped at her again. She took one of Ginny's bone-breakers to her back and grunted with pain. She grabbed the animal by the scuff of its neck, and threw it into the way of one of Ginny's cutters, Etna's wand conjuring a wall of ice to slow Harry's barrage. She backed away, the ice exploding with a blasting hex from Harry, followed once more by his continuing barrage of cutters and bone-breakers.
"This is more like it!" shouted Etna, her wand spray flames indiscriminately as a supply of spells cut through the flames, barely aimed. Ginny sent spells through the barrage, as Etna tried her hand at wandless conjuration against Harry. The flames dispersed, and Etna's blood wolf leapt at Ginny, but a reflexive bone-breaker followed with a banisher dropped it to the floor. She followed up with cutters and curses, trying to trip up Etna as she fought with Harry. The fact that he could keep up with Etna, and keep up with her without saying a damn spell, was terrifying and wonderful to Ginny.
She knew, if she wanted to be with Harry, she'd have to keep up.
"Miss Weasley, if you would stay after class please?"
"Yes, Professor McGogonagall."
Ginny wondered what this was about as she took her time packing away her books. She waved to a few of the other students, saying she'd catch up with them later.
"Miss Weasley, the Headmaster has brought to my attention that you're also training with Mr. Potter and Miss de Malebolge?"
"What sort of training is she doing?"
"Dueling, Professor. Well, not so much dueling as outright fighting," said Ginny.
"She doesn't use anything that'll kill very often, but she expects us to send everything we've got at her. Bone-breakers, cutters, bludgeoners, everything. She's even got Harry casting everything silent."
"Silent spell-casting? Everything?" asked McGonagall, thinking she now needed to talk with Filius.
"Yeah," said Ginny, nodding. "Harry told me not to ask her to teach me, for some reason. We've both gone up against her, even after Hermione and Ron have worked on her, and she can still take the both of us." She thought a moment. "Which is why I've been thinking, and I suppose now is as good a time as any. A lot of Etna's casting is elemental conjuration and curses, but she rarely does transfiguration. Could I work on that with you?"
McGonagall paused a moment before she spoke.
"Do you expect to fight alongside Mr. Potter?"
"I do, Professor."
"Do you expect to kill alongside Mr. Potter?"
It was Ginny's turn to pause a moment before she spoke.
"If I have to."
"You're doing this to prove yourself to Mr. Potter, aren't you?"
"That's- That's part of it. The other part of it is- is-" Ginny paused and took a breath to screw her courage to the sticking place. "I don't want to be the scared little girl who needs to be rescued, Professor. I've been that once, and once was enough. Knowing that V- Voldemort is going after Harry, I want to be there for him. And in order to do that, I can't ever be that scared little girl again."
"You've been thinking about this," said McGonagall.
"Of course I have! You think I'd just jump into this like my brother would? Please. I owe Harry my life. I'm not going to waste it by acting like a meat shield."
"You think he'll attack Harry directly?"
"Etna says she knows the type. If V- Voldemort was so fixated on Harry last year, she thinks he'll try to kill Harry this year as well. I think her statement was 'let's face it, murdering the Boy-Who-Lived is the most dramatic way of returning, and all Dark Lords are-' err-"
"Are what?" asked McGonagall.
"Drama whores," Ginny quoted, sheepishly.
McGonagall took a breath as she considered Etna's words. She'd have to talk with Albus, as well.
"What makes you think you'll be dragged into this?"
"Professor, it's because You-Know-Who is You-Know-Who. We're friends with Harry. Why wouldn't he drag us into this? The more capable of defending ourselves we are, the better."
"I wish I could fault that logic, Ms. Weasley. I wish I could. I hate to use an argument of your own mother's, but I worry that you and Mr. Potter are to young for these horrors."
"We are, but that doesn't change the facts."
"Then I will see you in this classroom after dinner, Ms. Weasley."
"Harry?" asked Cho, catching Harry and Hermione as they left Potions.
"Yes?" asked Harry, nowhere near in the mood to deal with anyone.
"I- I wanted to talk with you."
Hermione took one look at Cho, and gave Harry a glance that said he was on his own, before heading off to the Great Hall for lunch. Ron was no where to be found, on the basis that he still couldn't look Hermione in the face, and barely survived being in class with her.
"Alright," said Harry, and followed her into one of the many disused classrooms that littered the castle. He wondered just what was going to happen now.
"I've been- I've been meaning to ask. Did Cedric mention me at all before he died?" stuttered Cho.
"No," said Harry. "It was all- it was all pretty sudden. There wasn't really any time." He stared at the rows of empty desks. "Listen, we should talk about something else."
"Something else?" asked Cho. "I thought that you, of all people, would understand. I need to talk about it. Surely you need to talk about it too! I mean, you saw it happen, didn't you?"
"Of course I bloody saw it happen! I was standing next to him when Voldemort himself said kill the spare. Are you happy now? Do you think I want to think about how Cedric died in front of me? How Voldemort used my own damn blood to resurrect himself? You don't think I've talked about it to people? I've talked to Ron, Hermione-"
"Oh, you'll talk to Hermione Granger!" she shouted, tears streaming down her face. "But you won't talk to me?"
"Yes! How long have I known you? How long have I known Hermione? I don't even know what the hell we are, and we've only talked in the halls for two months, and you expect me to spill everything to you?"
Harry realized what he'd done.
"Listen, I'm sorry, I shouldn't be blowing up at you. Cedric... Cedric was a great bloke, and it's utter shit that he's dead." Harry looked everywhere but Cho, at the unused chalk board at the front of the classroom, at how the desks were arranged in perfect rows, how there wasn't the slightest bit of dust anywhere, but he could still tell this classroom hasn't been used in years. "His last words, his last words were 'wands out, you reckon?' I didn't talk with him much before the tournament, but during the tournament, we watched out for each other."
Harry heard Cho sob louder, and then she stumbled forward and grabbed Harry, her face on Harry's shoulder as tears streamed down onto his robes. Unsure of what to do, he put his hands around her, and whispered "I'm sorry."
This only caused her to cry louder, much to his dismay.
He did not, however, leave. Nor did he make it to lunch.