Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter.
Note: The idea for this story came from a comment in a review from excessivelyperky for "Run that by me again?"
Professor Umbridge paced back in forth in front of Harry. He had been just been caught fleeing from a meeting of his illicit Defense Association and so he was sitting in Dumbledore's office with only the Headmaster – who was ignoring him much as he had all year – standing between him and whatever twisted form of punishment Umbridge had in mind for him.
"Did you really think that I wouldn't find out about this?" Umbridge demanded, stopping suddenly in front of him.
Harry didn't reply. Obviously if he had thought there was a good chance of being caught he would have taken some extra precautions. Or rather, Hermione would have.
Umbridge held up the parchment in her hand that Harry knew contained the names of everyone involved with the DA. " 'Dolores' Angels,'" she read off. "Can you explain that, Mr. Potter?"
Harry's eyes widened and he tried not to look too startled. "Dolores' Angels?" he repeated. He could have sworn they had all agreed to Ginny's defiant suggestion of 'Dumbledore's Army.' Then again, Hermione hadn't looked pleased with such a provocative name when they were trying to stay out of trouble and so perhaps she had gone back and changed it. "Oh, well, that was just…"
"Just what, Mr. Potter?" Umbridge pressed, looking positively gleeful that after all this time she finally had him.
Harry, for his part, was feeling grateful for Hermione's foresight but really wished she had felt the need to explain her plan so he wouldn't have to make something up on the spot. Still, he'd learned early on that that was what stalling was for. "It's really embarrassing."
"I assure you that that is the least of your problems right now," Umbridge said flatly.
Harry closed his eyes tight and hoped that this would work. "Well, as you know, our Defense Against the Dark Arts curriculum has been…irregular, to say the least. Hermione was excited that the Ministry was finally trying to give us a more even education. Since you and I have had a few problems since school started and I keep getting detention, it took me awhile to realize that she was right."
"You should know that the Ministry does not take kindly to private arm-" Umbridge continued before freezing as what he had just said sunk in. "Pardon me, what was that?"
"We're your biggest fans," Harry claimed in what he hoped was a convincing tone. He really hoped Dumbledore would see fit to step in at some point but he looked content to just let Harry try and get out of this.
"I…that's just…" Umbridge sputtered, clearly thrown. Whatever defense she had expected him to mount against her charges of building a private army – if she even expected him to have one – this was certainly not it. "How do you explain the fact that this so-called fan club is a secret, then?"
"There's a couple of reasons, really," Harry explained, starting to feel more confident in his lie. "We're teenagers and we like using our wands in class even though it may not be the safest thing to do and having to get permission for everything – while sensible – also does little to endear you to students and so we didn't want to open our club up to people who would just show up to mock it. Draco Malfoy, for one, shows up to mock whatever I happen to do ever and he's very loud and obnoxious about it. Additionally, my involvement would draw everyone attention to our political differences and not to what a wonderful influence you are on the school. Not to mention that we didn't want to put you in an awkward position."
"Because of our…how did you put it? Oh, right. Our 'political differences'?" It was clear what Umbridge thought about that particular understatement.
"Well, partly," Harry confirmed. "Mostly, though, it would be how it looked. One of the educational decrees – I'm afraid I don't remember which one – mandates that students get permission before we form a club. If you approved of us forming a fan club for you…well, people might think that it was your idea and we wouldn't want our heartfelt appreciation to cause problems for you."
"So you claim this 'Dolores' Angels' is a fan club and not, shall we say, an elaborate plot to turn Hogwarts into a breeding ground for assassins to dispose of first me and then Cornelius and the rest of the Ministry?" Umbridge might have phrased that as a question but it was clear that she was already convinced.
Harry just stared at her for a minute. Even what they were actually doing was more for OWLs than anything else. She really was quite paranoid, wasn't she? He'd have to watch out for that. "No, I'm pretty sure it's just a fan club. Hermione picked the name and I believe that it was a reference to an old Muggle TV show called 'Charlie's Angels.' It might be a little audacious for the name to contain your first name but 'Umbridge's Angels' just sounded…weird. I hope you don't mind," he added almost as an afterthought. Really, any time Dumbledore wanted to step in would be just great.
"Say I believe that this ridiculous story is true," Umbridge began slowly.
Harry knew that he was potentially in a great deal of very serious trouble and really shouldn't do anything to aggravate her more but he couldn't help himself. "It might help if you didn't refer to it as a 'ridiculous' story," he suggested helpfully. "I can only suspend my disbelief so far, you know."
"I'll keep that in mind," Umbridge said dryly. "If this is a very bizarre and yet still flattering attempt at a fan club then why did Miss Edgecombe come to me about her concerns that you were building an army?"
Harry looked uncomfortable as he realized that that was what had happened. Fortunately he had a lot of practice over the years or else he would really be in trouble right now. And why was he getting the feeling he really should have seen this coming? "About that…"
"Come on, Mr. Potter, I assure you that I am most interested in hearing your explanation," Umbridge urged smugly.
"I know. I just…well, I don't want to get her in trouble," Harry lied.
Umbridge raised an eyebrow. "You don't want to get her in trouble? You mean Miss Edgecombe?"
Harry nodded. "Exactly. She's never been all that fond of you, you know, or at all enthusiastic about being a part of the club. My girlfriend didn't want to come by herself, however, so she dragged poor Marietta along."
"You claim Miss Edgecombe lied to me?" Umbridge's skepticism was almost palpable. "Why ever would she do that? Her mother is a fine, upstanding Ministry employee."
Harry winced. "This is where it gets awkward. Marietta seems to think that her mother is in danger of losing her job and as you're the most visible Ministry employee for any of us she naturally blamed you although I, for one, am reasonably sure that you're not involved."
"I see," Umbridge said shortly. Behind her, Dumbledore murmured something into his wand. "That would be very childish and pretty of her, not to mention counterproductive if I really were involved with her mother's supposed troubles. If I were to find Miss Edgecombe right now, would she have any idea what you were talking about?"
Harry watched Dumbledore lower his wand after what appeared to be a Patronus escaped from it and took off through the wall. "I'm nearly positive that she will," he decided.
"Excellent," Dumbledore finally deigned to interject now that the hard part was over. He stood up. "Let's go then and hopefully sort out this dreadful misunderstanding…"