I know, I know, you're all ready to kill me - if there are any of you left that is. Okay, I admit, I may have been busy but I have been writing other stuff; I just didn't feel motivated enough. I did want to write it though. Suffice to say that this morning I decided that enough was enough, and sat down and wrote this. It took me all day.
Anyway, as I said before, this will be finished. Eventually.
Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter nor Twilight. And again, some dialogue came straight from HP and Order of the Phoenix by JK Rowling. I do try to change as much as I can though, if only slightly. But I just don't see how I could make the story any better than it is. I'm just adding the Cullens in. :D
A Time of Troubles
The rest of the weekend was absolutely ridiculous. Yeah, yeah, I know what you're thinking. How could anything be called ridiculous when I live with a bunch of vampires and a werewolf/shapeshifter and currently reside in a magical castle surrounded by a forest filled with unicorns and a lake filled with mermaids and a giant squid – a castle which also just happens to be the same place that the mighty Merlin went to school and learned magic. Wow, it actually does sound rather weird when you lay it out like that…
But anyway, Harry, Ron and Hermione spent the entire time outside studying. Now, this was great for them, as they were able to spend time outside of the castle and lounge in the warm, fresh air. For us, however, it was a little bit of a problem.
Damn sun. Why can't it just stay hidden?
When I voiced this thought aloud, I received several amused looks. A few years ago, you wouldn't have caught me saying that if my life depended on it. Well, okay, maybe then. But not often.
Most people were –understandably – a little suspicious as to why we stayed inside. The Hogwarts teachers that didn't know about us especially. I didn't quite understand that – why force students to go outside purely because it was sunny? Did they want to force sunburn on everyone?
Jasper said that he just hoped it was because they didn't get very many sunny days at Hogwarts and the teachers wanted the students to make the best of what they could.
Emmett said it was because he thought the teachers believed that the giant squid was more active on sunny days and they hoped it would eat the students, giving them less idiots to teach and less homework to mark.
I know who I hoped was right.
Jake spent the weekend outside as well, taunting us. Ness stayed inside though, just in case – she may not sparkle, but she does almost glow, and we thought that with minds like Hermione's around the place it would be better not to risk it.
So we stayed inside, using the excuse that we couldn't study outside because we just weren't used to it.
There were many up sides to the weekend though – Emmett being one of them.
There are not very many times that I manage to get one over Emmett – but this time was one of the best. He couldn't make any noise at all – not when he was trying to communicate, not when he was 'eating', not even when he was walking – I told him to be completely silent, so even the sound of his footsteps would make him loose the bet.
Of course, it is very easy for a vampire to walk silently – but he couldn't let anyone else know that. So, he took to tiptoeing around in his socks.
One of the funniest things about the bet, however, was that he couldn't get into his common room on his own. Like the other three houses, the Hufflepuff common room required a password to enter – as Emmett had so wonderfully demonstrated to us that night he tried to get through the Fat Lady, to enter the Hufflepuff common room you must tap out the rhythm of Helga Hufflepuff. But this made a noise, and so Emmett was forced to always wait for another person let him into his dormitory.
Jake, knowing this, passed the word around to the other Hufflepuffs that they weren't to help him get in. Many of them were sympathetic to his plight, but not to Emmett himself – apparently, Emmett had 'subtly' taken a leaf out of Fred and George's book, except he only ever pranked in his own common room because he still couldn't figure out how to get into the others and he didn't want to draw attention to himself in the main school. So, naturally, the kind hearted Hufflepuffs were very ready to get one over the guy who transformed their room into Slytherin colours, made their fire cold and used sticking charms on their pillows.
So, that night, Emmett found himself 'sleeping' in the corridor next to the kitchens. He seemed very determined to finish the bet, however. I may have felt a bit sorry for him… actually, nah.
Plus, watching Emmett jump around waving his arms about whenever he wanted to say something was incredibly amusing.
When the time came for Emmett to be able to talk again, he yelled so loudly that I think Harry, Ron and Hermione would have been able to hear him from their spot near the lake. We were in the library at the time, so naturally Madam Prince chased him out with a very heavy looking book, becoming especially more vicious after the yell that escaped him when Alice said he'd opened his mouth five seconds too early, leaving me to think about what I would use my favours for.
The other exciting… odd… ridiculous… strange thing that kept happening over the weekend was that Rose and Jazz would constantly sneak off together and come back grinning like Cheshire cats. Jacob had joked that maybe Alice and Emm should start thinking about finding new mates.
Yeah, he spent the rest of the day outside after that.
But, either way, I was very curious as to what they were doing. I could tell Emmett was as well – it was the only thing that even seemed coming close to annoying him as much as staying silent did. Edward and Alice were a little too smug in my opinion, knowing what was going on.
Either way, I couldn't wait to see what Rose and Jazz were planning – especially after they got another set of punishments after managing to turn another poor, innocent classroom purple, although, according to Jazz, they had now stopped 'experimenting on live animals', which Rose continued to claim was 'All Jasper's fault in the first place'.
They did seem to have stayed under McGonagall's radar for now though, and Umbridge's, which I guess is all we could ask for. However, it was kind of hard to keep a track of what she was doing all the time, even with the ten off us and our super string hearing in the castle. What we really needed was a spy, someone who could go unnoticed…
By the time Monday rolled around, we were all rather glad, as we would have more of an excuse to stay inside – even if we had to deal with Umbridge's classes.
However, our mood was severely dampened when we saw the notice board Monday morning.
BY ORDER OF THE HIGH INQUISITOR OF HOGWARTS
All student organizations, societies, teams, groups and clubs are henceforth disbanded.
An organization, society, team, group or club is hereby defined as a regular meeting of three or more students.
Permission to re-form may be sought from the High Inquisitor (Professor Umbridge).
No student organization, society, team, group or club may exist without the knowledge and approval of the High Inquisitor.
Any student found to have formed, or to belong to, an organization, society, team, group or club that has not been approved by the High Inquisitor will be expelled.
The above is in accordance with Educational Decree Number Twenty-four.
Signed: Dolores Jane Umbridge, High Inquisitor
Harry and Ron were both in the crowd surrounding the notice board.
"This isn't a coincidence," said Harry. "She knows."
"She can't," said Ron.
"Yes, she can," interrupted Edward. "She must have had a friend – or maybe someone that owed her a favour that overheard us on Saturday and told her."
"Perhaps," said Ron, "but-"
"We shouldn't be talking about this here," I said. "Just in case."
Harry nodded, and we moved away from the board.
"I wonder where Hermione is," said Ron. "She'd want to know about this."
"I'm sure she would," said Edward. "She'll be down soon."
"How can you know that?" asked Ron. Edward shrugged. "Well, I still think she'll want to know. Bella, go and get her."
"You're in the same dorm as her, so you can go and get her."
"Or we can just wait until she comes down. She won't be long – do you honestly expect her to risk being late for class?"
Ron pulled a face, which Hermione appeared just in time to see.
Before she could comment, however, Harry took her arm and dragged her over to look at the notice.
"Look at this!" exclaimed Harry. "Some one must have overheard us-"
"I still think someone blabbed," muttered Ron.
"They can't have done," said Hermione.
"You have too much trust in people," said Ron. "Just because people like you and I would keep our word doesn't mean that the likes of Zacharias Smith-"
"No, honestly, they can't have done, because I put a jinx on that parchment we all signed. Believe me, if anyone's run off and told Umbridge, we'll know exactly who they are and they'll regret it."
"What'll happen?" asked Ron.
"Let's just say it'll make Eliose Midgen's acne look like a couple of cute freckles."
Although a little harsh, I liked the way she described that… when added to the evil little smirk Hermione had going, it made me almost hope that someone would tell on us, just so I could see what would happen.
Almost, but not quite.
We headed down to breakfast - not the best way to start the day, although necessary – where we were immediately attacked by the school populace. At least, that's what it felt like. Many of those who had been at the Hogs Head came up to us – well, Harry and Hermione – asking if it was still on. Harry's answer made me grin:
"We're going to do it anyway of course."
Of course. I loved that. It was done deal, now – Harry had the idea in his head and it was going to stay. Besides, we all knew when we started that Umbridge wasn't going to like the idea. In that aspect, nothing had really changed.
Eventually, Hermione succeeded in stopping the seemingly continuous flow of people – good thing, too, it was getting a little bit suspicious – and we were able to eat our breakfast in peace. That is, if you consider feeling like you're about to gag peaceful.
When Angelina came over to talk to Harry – well, let's just say that Emmett heard and leave it at that, shall we? I don't particularly want to think about the high-pitched wail that filled the hall… and I didn't even know Emmett was capable of making such a sound.
The real interesting thing happened in history of magic. Man, I never thought that sentence would ever come out of my mouth. Oh well. It's true. But anyway, there we were, just sitting there, falling half asleep (if that were possible), when we heard a small tap on the window.
"Oh no," whispered Edward.
When I looked at him curiously, he gestured to the window. There, sitting on the sill, was Hedwig.
"What is it?" I asked, speaking quietly so no humans would be able to hear.
"Look at her wing," whispered Jake. "I think it's broken."
I looked a little closer and realised that he was right. Uh oh. I could think of something that might have put her in that state, and apparently Emmett was thinking along the same lines.
"You don't think she's been intercepted?" he asked.
"Hermione seems to think so," muttered Edward. By now, Harry had retrieved Hedwig and was heading out the door, Hermione watching him carefully.
"This is bad," she whispered to Ron.
"How come?" asked Ron. "I mean, yeah, it's not good that Harry's owl has been attacked but… oh."
"Exactly," hissed Hermione. "I'm sure that Harry must have sent something to Sirius, and that would mean-"
"If the old toad has managed to get her stubby little fingers on it, we're stuffed," whispered Ron seriously.
"Pretty much," said Hermione. She glanced over at me worriedly, obviously wondering if we'd heard what she'd said. I smiled at her with what I hoped look like encouragement. Hopefully she would trust us enough to talk to us later.
"Harry's given Hedwig to Grubbly-Plank," said Edward, a distant look on his face. "And he's pretty much just confirmed to McGonagall that the letter went to London."
"Crap," said Emmett.
"At least Hedwig's being looked after," I said.
"Yeah," said Jake, "But it's still not good."
"Understatement of the century," muttered Emmett.
During break, Edward and I waited with Ron and Hermione for Harry.
"Is Hedwig okay?" asked Hermione the moment Harry was in earshot.
"She's fine," said Harry, "I took her to Grubbly-Plank. And I talked to McGonagall – listen, she thinks that communications going in and out from Hogwarts are being watched. She thinks that perhaps Umbridge is-"
"We know, Harry," said Hermione. "Ron and I were just thinking that what if Hedwig had been intercepted?"
"Who was it from?" asked Ron.
"Snuffles - but the letter was still sealed and everything," said Harry.
"Mate, seals aren't too hard to redo with magic," said Ron.
"Unless, of course, Snuffles had done an un-resealable charm on the envelope, and let's be honest, I don't think he would have thought of that," said Hermione.
I almost groaned. Of course Sirius wouldn't have thought about that.
"Look," said Edward, "This isn't the end of the world – Snuffles may not have done an un-resealable charm, but he would have known not to put anything important in the letter. If Umbridge doesn't know what it means then we should be okay."
Hermione didn't look so sure, but the other two seemed to cheer up a little at this.
"What does the letter say?" I asked.
"Same time, same place," said Harry.
"That would mean the common room at midnight, right?" asked Ron, ignoring Hermione's indignant 'shush!' "Well, that's not too bad… Umbridge would only know what that meant if she'd seen your other letter, and Hedwig hasn't seemed to be intercepted before now, right?"
"We can't be sure," said Hermione. "But oh, what if she does know? Snuffles will be in danger if he comes and we have no way of getting a message to him without that being intercepted as well!"
I glanced across the courtyard and saw Alice standing there with Nessie, Jake and Jasper, watching us with a concerned expression on her face. That didn't bode well for any of us.
After a few minutes, we all headed for the dungeons, not wanting to risk being late for Snape's class. As we got closer to the dungeons we could hear his voice… although he only started on his little speech – which had clearly been rehearsed, if you don't mind my saying so – when we came around the corner.
"Yeah, Umbridge gave the Slytherin Quidditch team permission to continue playing straightaway; I went to ask her first thing this morning. Well, it was pretty much automatic, I mean, she knows my father really well, he's always popping in and out of the Ministry… it'll be interesting to see whether Gryffindor are allowed to keep playing, won't it?"
"Bloody hell," growled Ron. "Hermione, you wouldn't mind going and giving him a little smack, would you? He's getting on my nerves."
"Ron!" exclaimed Hermione.
"What? You've done it before!"
"I mean," said Malfoy, raising his voice a little more, glancing towards our direction, "If it's a question of influence with the Ministry, I don't think they've got much chance… from what my father says, they've been looking for an excuse to sack Arthur Weasley for years… and as for Potter… my father says it's a matter of time before the Ministry has him carted off to St. Mungo's… apparently they've got a special ward for people whose brains have been addled by magic."
"Honestly," I muttered, "It's like he's proud of being a product of abject nepotism."
The others, however, had noticed the more pressing issues regarding what he had just said.
"Don't rise," Hermione hissed and Ron and Harry. "It's just what he wants. Don't give him what he wants!"
Edward, on the other hand, had noticed something else. But he only had time to let an 'oh no' slip past his lips before Neville was streaking past us, heading for Malfoy.
Luckily Harry, who was closer to Neville than us, also noticed and managed to grab Neville's robes.
Ron rushed forward to help, as did Edward. I stayed by Hermione, both of us looking on in horror.
Crabbe and Goyle stepped in front of Malfoy – which, I might add, caused Rose to roll her eyes in disgust – and cracked their knuckles 'threateningly'. With Edward's help, Ron and Harry were easily able to pull the struggling Neville back to where we were standing.
"Not… funny… don't… Mungo's… show… him…" growled Neville, still trying to get away from the three.
"Neville, you have to stop," whispered Edward.
"Come on, Neville, Crabbe and Goyle will rip you to shreds," hissed Ron.
"I'll… he'll… Mungo's… regret…"
"Yeah Neville, he will, but Snape's about to open the door and we don't want him to-"
"Come on, Neville," growled Ron.
Unfortunately, just as Edward had said he would, Snape chose that moment to enter the hallway.
"Well, well, well, what do we have here? Fighting, Potter, Longbottom, Weasley, Masen? I think that'll be five points from Gryffindor each… Release Longbottom, the three of you, or it'll be detention."
"We had to stop you," said Harry, looking apologetic as he let Neville go. "Like Ron said, Crabbe and Goyle would've torn you apart."
Neville didn't say anything. He just picked up his bag and stalked off.
"What in the name of Merlin was that about?" asked Ron, as we took our seats.
Hermione seemed as if she did not know, but Harry… Harry looked pained. Like he knew what was going on but couldn't say anything. Like it was one of the most horrible things he had ever heard of. I glanced over to see a similar expression on Edward's face – he had clearly read what it was about in Neville's mind.
When we all filed into the room, we found yet another nasty surprise waiting for us.
Yeah, today was not a good day.
Although I must admit, Snape's inspection was quite amusing, even if it did cause Harry to get another zero.
Rose and Jasper looked shifty though. I could have sworn I saw them smuggling potions ingredients into their bags when they thought no one was looking…
If I don't find out what they they're doing soon, I'm going to explode.
Lunch was uneventful, unless you count Harry trying to skive off divination as eventful. It was on our way up to the top of the North Tower that I got my amazing idea…
We were 'sprinting' up the steps, running late for divination, as usual, with Ron complaining loudly, as usual, when we were interrupted.
"Aye there, why the rush? Are you on a quest? Searching for something? Call on Sir Cadogan, my fair damsels and sirs, if you are ever in need of assistance!"
The others ignored him and I was about to do the same. But then I remembered something I had thought about over the weekend, and skidded to a halt, almost causing Harry, who was behind me, to fall down.
"What are you doing Bella?" he asked, panting hard. "We're nearly late as it is! Keep moving!"
"Can I help you, my lady?" asked the portrait.
"Actually.." I said thinking. "Yes, you can. But, as you pointed out, I am in a bit of a hurry – would you mind terribly if I came and had a bit of a chat later?"
"But of course!" He cried.
"Come on!" said Harry in exasperation, grabbing my arm and tugging me towards the classroom. Ron had already rounded the corner, not noticing we had stopped.
Alice, however, had clearly seen what I was planning, as she turned to me, a huge grin on her face and said:
"You, my sister, are brilliant. BRILLIANT!"
'Why, thank you, Alice," I said. "Remind me to mention that the next time you try to give me a makeover."
"So, what was all that about?" asked Harry, still pulling me along.
"Oh, nothing," I said. "Just an idea for a prank on Emmett."
"Twins," he muttered rolling his eyes. "They're all the same…"
"Come on guys, look at this! What teacher would want you in their classroom when there's a risk you might throw up on the precious pile of papers they've just marked? Just take one of these, and you've got yourself a one-way ticket out of that boring lesson and towards hours of endless procrastination! Just watch as Weasley and Weasley prove just how effective these amazing Weasley's Wizard Wheezes' Puking Pastilles really are!"
"You know, I think those boys might just be pure genius," I commented, watching as Lee Jordon collected Gold from the crowd of adoring students. "I mean, they really know what a group of students want, especially with Umbridge in the school."
"Alice will be mad that she never thought of this," said Edward, grinning. "If she had, she could have left the stocks alone for a few decades. It really annoys her, watching them you know. Gives her a headache."
"Emmett enjoys it, though," I said, remembering Emmett jumping around like a crazy buffoon the day facebook joined the stock-market.
"Emmett is the reason we can't just leave our money in the bank to accumulate interest," said Edward dryly. "If we let him have his way, all our money would be gone in a second. Literally all of it."
We were in the common room, waiting. I needed to go and talk to that damn portrait, but I couldn't until after Sirius turned up – we didn't have to be in the room, of course, but really we should know what was going on.
We had finished all our work over the weekend, having been stuck inside, and we had managed to get what work we given over the course of the day done fairly quickly. Harry was still working on the essay Snape had given him, whilst Ron was practically asleep next to him and Hermione scowled at the twins. We didn't want to go over to them yet… we would wait a bit.
Only thing was that left us with nothing to do.
We didn't have to wait long though. Soon enough, the students dispersed to bed and Fred, George and Lee, left with no customers, followed the crowd up to the dormitories. That just left the five of us.
"I suppose you two want to stay for a chat as well?" asked Hermione. We moved closer to them.
"If that's okay…" I said.
"We'd just like to know what's going on," said Edward. "No one tells us anything."
"I know the feeling," said Harry, pushing his essay away from him. "And there is no way I'm going to be able to do any more of this tonight. It's giving me a headache."
"Good call, mate," said Ron, waking himself up with a yawn and a shake. Then suddenly he jumped, and almost fell off his chair. "Sirius!"
"You were expecting me, weren't you? Didn't you get my letter?"
"Yeah, we did," said Harry. "Ron's just asleep."
"What? It's true."
"How're things?" asked Sirius.
"Not good," said Harry.
"Umbridge is being a right toad," said Ron.
"And she's put through another degree!" said Hermione. "She's horrible, she-"
"Sirius," cut in Harry, "This new degree, it means that we can't have Quidditch teams-"
"Or secret Defence Against the Dark Arts groups?" asked Sirius with a grin. I had to suppress a laugh.
"How did you know about that?" demanded Harry.
"You need to pick your meeting places more carefully," said Sirius. "The Hogs Head, I ask you."
"It was better than the Three Broomsticks," said Hermione indignantly. "That's always packed with people-"
"So it would be incredibly hard for people to hear you," said Sirius. "You've got to learn, Hermione."
"Bloody hell," said Ron, looking over at me. "That's exactly what you said."
Hermione looked sheepish.
"That still doesn't answer my question," Harry pointed out.
"Just because Mundungus is one of the worst spies ever doesn't mean we don't have other ways of finding things out." Sirius winked. "Dumbledore, er, knows the owner of the Hogs Head."
"Dumbledore is friends with that old guy?" asked Ron, twisting his face.
"I wouldn't say friends, exactly," said Sirius.
"Wait, wait, wait," said Hermione. "What do you mean, Mundungus was there?"
"Well, he was there, but he managed to get himself kicked out. Although, he was not with help, I believe," said Sirius, passing his gaze over us.
"Hey, don't look at me," I said, holding up my hands. "That was all Emmett."
"Wait, you knew Mundungus was in there?" asked Ron. "Why didn't you say anything?"
"As Sirius said, he got kicked out before you turned up," said Edward. "Besides, it didn't seem that important. You guys had other things to worry about."
"What was he even doing there, anyway?" asked Harry.
Sirius gave him a significant look.
"What! No way! I'm still being followed?"
"Yeah, of course you are. What did you expect? And good thing too, seeing as the first thing you do is go off and form an illegal defence group."
"It's not illegal," said Ron, cutting off any further argument from Harry. "At least, it wasn't then."
"And it still isn't," said Hermione. "It's only against the rules that Umbridge made up to be enforced within the school; they can't send us to Azkaban for trying to study so we can pass our Defence OWLs."
"Oh is that the story you're planning on using?" asked Sirius.
Hermione nodded proudly, but her smile was wiped off her face with Sirius' next words.
"And here I was considering inaugurating the three of you – and Fred and George, of course – as the next generation of Marauders. You lot seriously need to work on your excuses."
"What's wrong with that?" asked Ron, looking a little put out.
"First off, wouldn't it seem strange that you've got third and fourth years in your group – surely they don't need to be studying for OWLs already?"
"I guess," sighed Hermione.
"Secondly, saying that you need a group to study defence and no other subject is a great big insult to Umbridge's teaching skills."
"It's hardly a-"
"I know, Ron, but how do you think she'll see it?"
"That's true," I said.
"And thirdly; by starting up a defence group, you have pretty much just confirmed Cornelius Fudge's greatest fear. Do you think he's going to allow that to go unnoticed? This is more than just a school rule you're dealing with here, Hermione."
"What has that got to do with Hermione's excuse?" asked Ron.
"Never mind that, what's Fudge's greatest fear?" asked Hermione.
"Of course," said Edward. Sirius looked at him expectantly. "Fudge thinks we're not acting alone; he thinks that Dumbledore told Harry to start up this group so he can build an army to overthrow the Ministry."
"Exactly," said Sirius.
"But that's ridiculous," said Harry. "If Dumbledore wanted to overthrow the ministry, all he'd have to do is say the word and he'd have most of the magical population behind him in a heartbeat!"
"At least, he would have done before the Prophet started spreading lies," added Hermione.
"I know that," said Sirius. "Anyone in their right mind knows that. But you see, Fudge isn't in his right mind."
It was silent for a moment as we turned this over in our own minds.
"Oh, that reminds me," said Sirius, "Ron, I have a message from your mother."
How anything that we had been talking about could have reminded Sirius about a message from Molly, I have no idea, but, apparently it did, so there you go.
"Wait a second," said Ron. "You mean my mother knows that you were going to come and speak to us and didn't do anything about it? That she actually gave you a message to pass on rather than using a more conventional means like, oh, I don't know, an owl?"
"She seems to think that it is more important to inform you that you are under no circumstances to join an illegal secret Defence Against the Dark Arts group. She says you'll be expelled for sure and your future will be ruined. She says there will be plenty of time to learn how to defend yourself later and that you are too young to be worrying about that right now. She also" (Sirius's eyes turned to the other two) "advises Harry and Hermione not to proceed with the group, though she accepts that she has no authority over either of them and simply begs them to remember that she has their best interests at heart. She would have written all this to you, but if the owl had been intercepted you'd all have been in real trouble, and so she thinks it is more important that you heard this NOW rather than later, no matter how. Oh, and she can't say it for herself because she's on duty tonight."
"You mean she was considering actually coming here herself?" asked Ron, shaking his head. "Man, she must really want me to not- hey, hang on, there is no way I'm going to do that! I'm sticking with this no matter what Mum says!"
"That's the spirit!" said Sirius.
"Wait, so you don't mind if I go ahead with this?" asked Harry.
"Of course I don't! Who do you take me for, a prefect?" At this, Hermione and Ron shot offended looks at Sirius, who ignored them. "Harry, I'm a Marauder, of course I think you should go through with this!"
"But last year you said not to take any risks!"
"This is a completely different situation from last year!"
"Plus, you have that lot this year," said Sirius, gesturing to us.
"That doesn't make a-"
"Harry, do you want me to forbid you from doing this? Not that I could anyway, mind you."
"No, of course not!"
"Then be quiet! Honestly, if you didn't look so much like James would doubt you were his son!"
"Sirius! I exclaimed. "That was uncalled for!"
"Sorry," he said, shaking his head. "It's just, well, you want to do this, don't you Harry?"
"Yes, of course!"
"Then what's stopping you? A couple of rules? Well, they don't matter as long you don't… get… caught…"
Sirius' head had turned in the fire, and his eyes were widening as he stared at something coming out of the side of the wall. A second later, his head disappeared with a pop!
"Quick," hissed Edward, grabbing Harry and Ron's arms. "Get to the dormitory, now!"
The three of them rushed up the steps, and I grabbed Hermione, pulling her along as fast as I thought I could.
When we reached the top of the steps, we looked back.
There, in the fire, was a small hand with stubby fingers covered in rings, groping right where Sirius' head was, as if it were expecting to grab something.
I grabbed Hermione by the shoulder and pulled her into the dormitory.
"That was close," she whispered, panting heavily. "Way too close. I knew something was wrong when Hedwig came in earlier… I just knew it!"
"There wasn't anything we could have done," I said. "As you said this morning, we couldn't have gotten a message to him without that being intercepted as well."
"But that's what worries me," said Hermione, though I had a feeling she hadn't heard me at all. "Did she intercept Harry's other letter? How did she know what 'Same time, same place' meant?"
"Even Mrs. Weasley knew that letters were being intercepted! We should have told Sirius the moment he got here that he needed to leave!"
"You know you couldn't have done that," I said, quickly looking around to make sure that the other girls in the room were asleep. "Harry needed to talk to Snuffles."
"Yes," she said, "But we didn't even talk about anything important! I completely forgot to ask him anything about where we could hold the meetings! Completely forgot! He was a Marauder, surely he would have been able to think of something!"
"Perhaps," I said, "But I'm sure we can think of something. After all, if we get really desperate, we can always ask Sir Nicholas. Surely, after all the time he's spent in the castle, he'll know of somewhere, and I'm sure we can trust him."
"Maybe…" said Hermione.
"It's late," I said, firmly. "We should get some sleep. We have lessons tomorrow morning after all."
"Good idea," sighed Hermione. "I'll have to think about this in the morning…"
Finally, finally she started to get ready for bed. I just hoped she'd fall asleep quickly; I still had a stupid picture to go and talk to.
I didn't want Edward to come.
He was annoyed about that, as I knew he would be, but there was no helping it. He couldn't come. Edward didn't do divination, and so he'd never been in the North Tower. This meant that Sir Cadogan had never seen him, which worked to my advantage. Sir Cadogan was a knight – and not just any knight, but an incredibly, erm, chivalrous knight, and therefore I knew he would help out a 'damsel in distress'. Of course, the image would be completely ruined if that damsel already had a man to look after her (I feel so anti-feminist saying that, but oh well) so therefore, Edward couldn't come.
He didn't seem to understand this.
He wanted to come with me; I gave him my explanation. He wanted to hide around the corner; I told him that Sir Cadogan can walk through every portrait and therefore may see him if he were not in his portrait as I walk up. He wanted to hide several corridors away.
Well, that was just ridiculous.
For that one, I told him that if I got caught then there would be nothing he could do about it, and that if we both got caught it would be even worse.
Eventually, he agreed to stay in the dorms, and slouched back up the stairs looking dejected.
I waited until I was outside the very disgruntled Fat Lady before I allowed myself to do a victory dance.
It took me quite a while to reach the North Tower, what with having to avoid teachers and prefects and all, but I made it eventually. And there he was, Sir Cadogan, the round little knight leaning against his even rounder little grey pony, fast asleep.
Well, okay, I guess I should have expected this. All the other portraits were asleep, after all. I suppose it just didn't occur to me that Cadogan would be as well.
"Ahem." I did a little fake cough, but Cadogan didn't even budge.
"Shh!" hissed a painting a little ways down the corridor. "I'm trying to sleep here!"
"Sorry," I whispered, turning back to Cadogan.
Clearly, this required a little bit of thinking.
Then it hit me.
"Sir Cadogan," I said, "Please help me. Sir Cadogan, please, I desperately need a favor. I have a quest for you, Sir Cadogan!"
And like a bullet of a gun, Sir Cadogan was up, pulling his sword from it's sheath (it actually came out this time) and held it in the air and – apart from his belly – looked rather like one of the legendary knights of the round table.
That is, until he started spinning in circles to detect the disturbance.
The pony, on the other hand, simply snorted in annoyance and went back to sleep.
"Over here, Sir," I said.
Abruptly, he stopped spinning and faced me.
"Aha! It's you, my fair lady! You said earlier that you are in need of my aid, did you not? A Quest you say! Ah! Well, you have come to the right place! Allow Sir Cadogan to aid you in any way possible!"
"Well, I really do need your help with something," I said.
"Go on," he said.
"Well, you see-" I paused, and looked around, as if searching for eavesdroppers, before leaning in closer to the canvas. "This is not just about me. This is a matter of the protection of the entire castle."
I expected those to be the magic words. I expected Sir Cadogan to puff out his chest and announce that I had come to the right place, and that he would help me and defend the castle in any way portraitly possible. But that isn't what he did.
Sir Cadogan seemed to shrink in upon himself, and he backed away from the frame of the portrait.
"I'm sorry," He stuttered, his odd way of speaking completely disappearing. "But I'm not sure I'll be able to help you with that."
Okay, no need to say that confused me.
"But I thought you said you'd be able to help me with anything?" I asked.
"Old habit, I suppose, my lady," said Cadogan. "There was once a time when I believed that. When the headmaster asked me to do my part and defend the school I jumped at the opportunity. But I am afraid to say that I failed in my quest, and a student was nearly killed because of it."
Wow, um okay. So the portrait nearly got someone killed…
"When was this?" I asked.
"Two years ago."
Okay, so the portrait almost got someone that I probably knew killed.
"The young Potter's friend, the rogue."
"Ron?" I said, shocked, knowing he wouldn't describe Hermione as a 'rogue'. "What happened?"
"I'd rather not speak of it, my lady, if it's all the same to ye."
I sighed, and rubbed my forehead. I thought this would be easy… Apparently not.
"Sir Cadogan," I said. "Are you are knight or not?"
"I don't deserve to be," he said.
"Stop moping! What ever you did can't be as bad as what will happen if you do not help me now! Hogwarts is in grave danger, Sir Cadogan, and I require your help! Do not desert your castle when she is dire need! Now, I ask you again, Sir; Are you a knight!"
Cadogan stood up straight, snapped his legs together and saluted.
"Will you help me to defend our school?"
"Right then! Now we've got that sorted, here's what I need you to do…"
"Bloody hell," groaned Ron as he collapsed into his chair in the Charms classroom. "Why can't Snuffles pick a better time? I mean, I know he needs to be careful and all, but I only got about two hours of sleep last night!"
"Liar," said Edward. "You had at least seven. You went to bed at about one and only woke up fifteen minutes ago."
"Yeah," said Ron, "Which means I missed breakfast. Honestly, I think missing breakfast is the equivalent of missing four hours of sleep. Therefore-"
"Honestly, you're as bad as Jake," I said, earning a laugh from Renesmee who was seated on the other side of the room.
"Besides," said Hermione, "If breakfast is worth four hours why didn't you just wake up a half hour earlier? That way you wouldn't have missed breakfast and you would still have slept."
"Hermione, you're a girl," said Ron. "You just don't understand."
"Edward and I woke up, and we're not girls," said Harry.
"Well, that's just beside the point," spluttered Ron.
Our laughter was interrupted by Flitwick as he began his lesson on silencing charms After that, our conversation became much more serious. After all, what better place is there to hold a secret conversation than a lesson filled with squawking and croaking?
"What I don't understand," said Ron, "Is how the toad knew what Harry's letter meant. Silencio."
"I've been thinking the same thing," said Hermione. "Silencio. I mean, there was no indication that Hedwig was intercepted before yesterday."
"She didn't necessarily need to," I said. "Silencio."
"Silencio. What do you mean?" asked Harry.
"Well, you see," I said, "Silencio. If someone saw that letter then they would easily be able to figure out that a meeting was going to take place. Silencio."
"Oh, I see. If they knew a meeting was going to taking place, it wouldn't be too hard to figure out that whoever it was would be using the Floo Network. And as the note was attached to Harry's owl, Umbridge would know that the most likely place would be Gryffindor tower. All she would have to do then is watch the fireplace. Silencio!" Hermione grinned triumphantly, both due to figuring out the problem and because her raven just stopped mid squawk.
"Of course," said Harry, "How could we have been so stupid?"
"No one would have ever thought of that," said Edward. "Silencio. Okay, well, maybe Dumbledore would have, but that's completely different."
"Either way, this all comes down to the fact that Umbridge is watching your mail, Harry," said Hermione.
"No, really?" asked Ron, sarcasm practically dripping from his mouth. "Silencio. Silencio. SILENCIO! Damn it, why won't this bloody spell work?"
"I've been considering the possibility ever since you said Filch asked you about dungbombs, Harry," said Hermione, completely ignoring Ron. "Oh, and watch your frog, by the way, it's escaping."
"Oh for goodness sake, Ronald, you're moving your wand wrong. It isn't a wave, it's sort of more of a jab-"
"Oh, shut up, Hermione," groaned Ron. Though I did notice that he changed his wand movements after that.
Nothing really happened for the rest of the day (unless you count Angelina announcing that the Quidditch team had gained permission to reform), although it did begin to rain, thank god. I could only hope the rain would remain for a while longer… a long while longer.
Harry and Ron headed out to Quidditch practice leaving Hermione to do some knitting in the common room (which, if I'm honest, I did not want to get involved in), so I sent Edward off to go talk to Nessie while I went to get a report from Sir Cadogan.
"Did you get anything?" I asked.
"Well, my Lady, I digress, it has been less than a day-"
"I know, I know. I'm sorry. I suppose I shouldn't have expected you to-"
"My Lady, I had not yet finished!"
"Sorry," I said, starting to smile. It seemed like this had been a good idea…
"I managed to visit one of those fluffy demonic felines you told me about – in disguise, of course – and let me tell you, those braggarts were the most fiendish creatures I've come across. Fortunately, they did not blow my cover and I heard the – you called her a 'toad' – speak of a message."
"One between Potter and what she believed to be his godfather."
My eyes widened. So she did know it was Sirius… how, though? I asked Cadogan if he knew.
"I know not, my lady. The toad merely stated that she would be continuing to watch the fire. Also, she will be looking for a way to punish the Potter boy."
"Is that all?"
"Yes Ma'am. But never fear – I shall continue on this quest until there is but no breath in my body!"
"Thank you, Sir knight," I said. "This is much more than I had hoped for."
"You were right," said Cadogan. "I must put aside my prattilish worries and defend my castle when she needs it most! I have you to thank for helping me realize such. I am in your debt, my lady."
With that, he bowed.
"Oh no," I said, shaking my head. "What you are doing is more than I could have asked for."
"Then I shall continue to the best of my ability!
"And the others?" I asked. His expression became forlorn.
"Alas, the only one of my comrades that I have accosted be my noble steed, but between you and me, he isn't really all that noble. But, I am sure that when I get around to asking them, the others will be sure to join with me on this noble quest!"
"Are you alright for now, though?" I asked. "I'm sure I could convince the Fat Lady to ask Violet-"
"I can manage alone for now, my lady. Never fear – Sir Cadogan will complete this quest!"
"I know you will," I said. "Just make sure you aren't seen."
"Please," said Cadogan. "I was an expert at sneaking past my lord to get to the tavern back in the day!"
"I'm sure you were," I said, chuckling as he walked out of the African landscape he had entered to talk to me.
I was still chuckling as I walked past an 'empty' classroom, the door of which slammed open as I passed, spilling out a very orange looking Rosalie and a very blue – and shimmering – looking Jasper.
"I don't even want to know," I said, continuing on walking towards the common room.
When I got there, I immediately noticed the tense look on Edward's face.
It was late by now; Hermione had clearly already gone to bed, and Harry, Ron and Edward were some of the very few students left still up, with the two humans looking like they were working on their charms essay.
However, Harry didn't seem to be getting much done – he looked troubled. Thinking that this probably had something to do with the expression on Edward's face, I lifted my shield and wondered what was going on.
"It's Harry's scar," said Edward quietly. "It's bothering him again."
"No, not what you're thinking," said Edward. "No cause for alarm, but…"
"Well, Harry found that he was able to feel what Voldemort was feeling."
But that meant… that meant that their link was getting stronger…
"Exactly," whispered Edward.
I let my shield snap back into place in shock.
This was bad. This was very bad. If Harry knew what Voldemort was feeling… did the connection go both ways? Was Harry in danger?
I didn't know, but I knew exactly who I was going to talk to.
I grabbed Edwards arm and dragged him through the school, this time not even commenting when we passed the now fluffy Slytherin members of our family.
"So… It is as I feared," said Dumbledore.
We were sitting across from him in his office, having just told him of what Harry felt. I felt kind of bad doing this, like I was betraying Harry's trust. Not that I had is trust, anyway – he didn't exactly tell me what he had felt. Edward did. But that just made it even worse…
Still, I knew that this was the right thing to do. If we did nothing Harry would just keep it to himself, or at least only tell Ron and Hermione, and then the situation would just get worse. If Dumbledore knew, then maybe he would be able to do something about it.
"You knew something like this would happen?" asked Edward.
"I didn't know, but I suspected it, yes," said Dumbledore. "I knew that when that curse hit Harry it would not be without consequences… I had thought about the possibility of there being a connection. When I discovered that Harry's scar was causing him pain, and then when he began to have dreams relating to Voldemort last year, my suspicions were all but confirmed. There is a link between Harry and Voldemort's minds…"
"That's why you haven't been talking to him," said Edward, realizing spreading across his face. "You managed to hide that from me."
"Yes, you are right. I must stay away from Harry, as I do not wish to give Voldemort another reason to enter Harry's mind completely. Although, I do not think he is aware of the connection."
"Who, Harry or Voldemort?" I asked.
"Both. While Harry knows that he must have some sort of connection due to the pain, the dreams and now these emotions the two of you told me about, he has no idea of the extend. Voldemort, on the other hand, I am sure knows nothing of this connection. If he did, he would have already taken advantage of it."
Dumbledore suddenly jumped out of his chair and began pacing.
"The best thing to do would be to have Harry learn Occlumency," said Dumbledore. "But if I did that e would be aware that something was very wrong…"
"But surely it is better to act now before something really bad does happen?" I asked.
"Yes, but If Harry becomes aware of the potency of the connection, then it is likely Voldemort will as well. That is something I cannot risk."
"So you will put him at risk instead?" I asked.
"The safest thing to do now is to encourage Harry not to think of it," said Dumbledore.
"But surely that will make him suspicious?" asked Edward.
"Yes, but it is the best we can do at the moment."
"Well what if I try to shield him?" I asked. "Then he would not have to know, and it would protect him!"
"That would not work," said Dumbledore, shaking his head.
"But the only person or thing that we know of that can get past my shield is Renesmee, and that's because she's my daughter," I said. "Surely I should be able to-"
"Bella, you once told me that your shield was like a bubble that surrounds you and the person you want to protect, and it acts to stop things from getting inside that bubble, am I right?" said Dumbledore.
I nodded mutely.
"In that case, it would not work in this situation, as the source of the connection is inside Harry himself. You would not be able to put him inside your shield and block out the connection at the same time."
I didn't reply. It was obvious that he was right.
"I think that all we can do now is sit and wait. You are right, Edward; if we try and encourage Harry not to think of it, he will only become frustrated and curious, and will try to figure it out by himself."
"What can we do in the mean time?" asked Edward.
"Just try and keep him out of trouble," sighed Dumbledore, finally sitting back down. "Especially when it comes to Umbridge."
"That reminds me," I said, "Last night-"
"I already know, Bella," said Dumbledore, sounding every bit the old man that he was. "Sirius informed me after it happened."
"He actually told you?" I said, stunned. Sirius didn't seem the type to dob himself in.
"Sirius may not like to admit it when he is wrong, but he knows when it is more important that we all learn of what happened. He's a smart man… most of the time."
"I'm sorry, Professor," said Edward. "We should have tried to stop him-"
"No," said Dumbledore, "You wouldn't have been able to, and you would have probably alienated Harry."
He pressed his fingertips together, and looked over them to us, his blue eyes sparkling.
"Watch him, but make sure you do not push him away. Harry will need as many friends as he can get if he is to survive all that is to come."
It was obvious that the conversation was over, so we nodded to him and stood, taking our leave. Just before we reached the door, however, Dumbledore called us back.
"Oh, and Bella, Edward. Make sure that whatever it is your siblings are planning they do not completely destroy the Quidditch pitch. It would be a real shame if we had to cancel the season after the first game to get it rebuilt."
The next morning, we came down to breakfast to find Harry and Ron almost gushing in excitement, whilst Hermione watched them cautiously.
"Great, you're here," said Harry as we sat down. "Listen – I've found us a place to hold the defence meetings!"
"You have?" I asked. "That's brilliant! Where?"
"The Room of Requirement," said Ron.
The what? Where on earth did Harry and Ron manage to find a room that none of us had ever heard of before in a castle they had lived in for over four years? Apparently, Edward was thinking along the same lines.
"Where?" asked Edward in confusion. "I don't remember you ever telling us about a 'Room of Requirement' before. Though I have to admit, the name sounds promising."
"We didn't tell you before because we didn't know before," said Ron.
"Dobby told me about it last night," said Harry.
"Who's Dobby?" I asked.
"A house elf," said Hermione, sniffing with disdain. Although it was obvious she was not demeaning Dobby's species – anyone who had heard of S.P.E.W would know that.
"I haven't met any of the house elves yet," I said. Which was kind of half true. I didn't think Kreacher counted – he could hardly be a good example of his race. If he was, surely Hermione wouldn't be defending them in the way she is…
Although, Hermione seems like someone who would fight for the rights of anything if she felt like she needed to.
"Oh, I'll have to take you down to the kitchens later, Bella," said Ron happily, while Hermione looked at him in disapproval. "The house elves are brilliant; amazing service!"
"I'd rather not, thanks," I said quickly, partly to stop the Hermione-Ron argument I could sense was about to erupt and partly because the thought of being in the place where the masses of food was actually cooked made me feel slightly nauseous.
Being at breakfast certainly didn't help. How on earth had I ever found this stuff appetizing beck when I was human?
The only thing that made breakfast slightly worthwhile was the look on Angelina's face when Harry told her it was 'good' that Quidditch practice was cancelled.
Honestly, if this goes on much longer I'll have to buy Angelina some flowers or something. She always seems to make things more entertaining.
That made me think of what Dumbledore had said the night before… It almost made me hope that whatever Rose and Jazz were planning would result in the demolition of the Quidditch pitch. Boy, would Angelina be a sight to see if that happened…
Okay, okay, I did say almost, didn't I?
That evening, we all headed up to the seventh floor, and stared at a wall opposite one of the oddest tapestries I had ever seen. Honestly, why on earth would anyone in their right mind try and teach ballet to bunch of trolls?
Well, I guess that's why he's known as Barnabas the Barmy.
"You know, that thing is absolutely amazing," said Edward pointing to the piece of parchment in Harry's hand, which was apparently a map.
"Um, thanks," said Harry.
"So, what do we have to do again?" asked Ron.
"Well, Dobby said that we have to walk past this bit of wall three times, thinking hard about what we need," said Harry.
"Are you sure Harry?"
"Of course, he told me last night."
"No, I mean… well, it's just that Dobby's plans aren't really safe, are they, and well…"
I sighed. For someone who was fighting so hard for elf rights, she didn't have much trust in them.
"This room isn't just some random idea of Dobby's," said Harry. "Dumbledore mentioned it to me as well."
"Dumbledore?" I said, surprised. I didn't think he would have suggested a meeting place for Harry to hold the defence meetings… but then, he was a strange man. I don't think I'd ever be able to predict what he would do next.
"He only mentioned it in passing," explained Harry. "It was last year, at the Yule Ball."
"Oh, well, if Dumbledore mentioned it then it must be alright," said Hermione, her reservations seemingly fading.
Well, good. We don't want to have to tell everyone to just leave when they turn up; I have a feeling that they have all been looking forward to this. I know I have.
We walked in front of the wall together, all thinking the same thing – or at least variations of the same thing.
We need a place to learn defensive magic… We need a place to learn defensive magic… somewhere that we won't be found by anyone that we don't wish to be involved… somewhere Umbridge will never come across… we need a place to learn defensive magic…
"Guys, look!" said Ron.
As one, we all looked up to see a shiny door in the wall – one that had certainly not been there a few seconds earlier.
"That's amazing," I said.
"Well, don't just stand there staring at it," said Harry, heading for the door. "Come on!"
The room was brilliant. It was everything we needed and a whole lot more. There were cushions on the ground which, as Ron said, would be brilliant for practicing stunning. The walls were lined with bookcases which held hundreds of books, all of them about defensive technique. There was also a shelf filled with loads of curious objects which I figured must be somehow defensive as well.
Hermione, predictably, headed straight for the books and plopped down on a cushion with one in hand.
Not long afterwards, the others began to arrive.
"This place is brilliant!" yelled Emmett as he walked through the door, scaring several people.
"Shut up Em," said Renesmee as she entered, her eyes alight with wonder.
"He is right though," said Jake. "This is great. Perfect, even."
"Of course it is," huffed Alice, sitting next to me. "Didn't I tell you it would be?"
Everyone that had been in the Hogs Head were there; Ginny, Fred, George, Lee, Angelina, Dean, Seamus, Neville, Luna, Lavender, Parvati, Padma, Cho, her friend, Angelina, the other two Gryffindor Chasers, the three Ravenclaw boys, Colin, Dennis, Ernie, Hannah, another Hufflepuff, Susan bones, a few others that I didn't know and even bloody Zacharias Smith.
No need to say Harry seemed a little nervous as he stood in front of us all.
"Well," he said.
I grinned. Oh, nice start, Harry. Well done. Brilliantly played.
"So, er, this is the place we've found for practice sessions and, er, you've obviously found it okay…"
I exchanged a look with Jake, noticing that he too was grinning. This was getting better and better.
Yeah, that's it, Harry, keep going. You'll have them eating from the palm of your hand in no time.
I almost giggled. Almost.
"Stop it Mom," Nessie hissed at me quietly. "It's not nice. He's probably really nervous!"
Emmett snickered quietly, probably because I just got told off by my own daughter, but thankfully Alice quieted him with a look before Harry noticed.
"So, I've been thinking of some things we could start with and – what, Hermione?"
Damn it Hermione! Of course you interrupted just as he got going!
"I think we should elect a leader," she said brightly.
"Harry's leader," said Ginny immediately.
"Yes, but we should vote on it. That way he has more authority," said Hermione.
"Yes," said Emmett quietly, "Because Winston Churchill had so much more authority than Adolf Hitler did."
"That's beside the point," I hissed at him. "Hitler was elected too, you know."
Emmett looked annoyed, but didn't say anything else.
"Alright," said Hermione, having not heard Emm's comment. "Who thinks Harry should be leader?"
Everyone rose their hand.
"Er, thanks," said Harry, rubbing the back of his neck nervously. "So – What now, Hermione?"
"I think we should have a name," she said. "It would promote a feeling of team spirit and unity."
A swear I had to force myself not to roll my eyes. Yeah, okay, so maybe we needed a name. But couldn't she have just said 'I think we need a name?'
"Good idea, Hermione," said Alice, causing Hermione to grin.
"Can we be the Anti-Umbridge league?" asked Angelina.
"The Slytherins are Savage Syndicate!" said George.
"No way," said Fred. "It has to be the Ministry of Magic are Morons Movement!"
"I like that one," said Emmett, reaching over to give Fred a high-five.
"Why don't we just call ourselves the You-know-who-is-back-no-matter-what-the-Prophet-says-so-we-need-to-learn-more-magic Guild and be done with it?" growled Smith.
Understandably, no one listened to him.
"Death to the Toad Society?" said a Ravenclaw who I did not know.
"Wait, wait, wait," said Hermione, glaring at Fred and George in particular. "We can't have something so obvious, we need to be able to talk about this around other people."
"Harry's Infantry?" suggested Nessie. Harry made a face at that.
"What about the Defence Association?" said Cho, actually suggesting something realistic. "DA for short, so no one would know what we're talking about."
"DA is good, and so is the idea of some sort of soldiers," said Ginny, smiling at Ness. "So what about Dumbledore's Army? That is, after all, the ministry's worst fear, isn't it?"
Everyone seemed to think it was a good name, and so, after a vote, we were officially Dumbledore's Army, the DA for short.
"Right," said Harry, once everyone had settled down again, "shall we get practicing then? I was thinking, the first thing we should do is Expelliarmus, you know, the Disarming Charm. I know it's pretty basic but I've found it really useful –"
"Oh, please," said Zacharias Smith, rolling his eyes and folding his arms. I groaned – and I reckon everyone else in the room did too. "I don't think Expelliarmus is exactly going to help us against You-Know-Who, do you?"
"I've used it against him," said Harry quietly. "It saved my life in June."
The room was deathly quiet now. Smith just sat there looking stupid.
"But if you think it's beneath you, you can leave," said Harry. "Go on; I won't stop you."
I smiled. It was clear that anger was all Harry needed to get over his nerves. It had been like this in the Hogs Head, as well. It was pretty cool though, to see the control he had over the people in the room, even though he didn't know it.
Nobody even moved an inch.
"Okay," said Harry. "So, basically, I think we should divide into pairs and practice."
Immediately, everyone stood up and found a partner.
"Do you want to be my partner Bella?" asked Hermione, turning to me.
"Aww, but Bella, you promised you would be my partner, remember?" whined Alice, quickly cutting in.
"When was that?" I asked.
"In divination, silly," said Alice. The quietly, she added, "You know we can't pair off with the humans! They'll notice we're different."
I nodded in understanding, and looked at Hermione.
"Sorry," I said. "I would be your partner, It's just that she'll-"
"Bella, it's alright," said Hermione, smiling, although I did detect a bit of disappointment in her eyes. I wonder if she wanted another opportunity to see if we were different… but I didn't see anything else, as she went to partner with Ron.
There was an odd number of people so Harry paired with Neville, although after a while he put Neville with Ron and Hermione – which I thought was a great idea because they had both already mastered the spell and Hermione would be a great help for Neville – while he went and watched the others.
I had to hand it to him – Harry was a great teacher.
It was fairly hard for us. We were all paired together, as Alice had ensured. I was with Alice, obviously; Edward was with Emmett, and Renesmee and Jake were together, as they were closer in relation to how powerful their spells were.
When we cast the spell at each other, it had the same effect as if a human had cast the spell at another human. However, if we missed…
Well, let's just say that we were all really careful with our aim.
After a little while, Harry yelled for us to stop. We did, but none of the humans heard.
I quickly glanced at Hermione, but she had her back to us, concentrating on catching Ron's wand. I sighed, relieved that no one had noticed. Or so I thought...
Harry finally got everyone's attention with a whistle he must have found on the shelves. He told us that we had done well and then said to keep going.
"Well, what was the point in stopping us, then?" asked Emmett.
I completely agreed with him. If Hermione had seen us stop when no one else did, what would she have thought?
Oh well, no need to dwell on what didn't happen.
We were stopped again a little while later – thankfully, Harry just went straight to the whistle this time – as it was getting late and we all needed to get back to the common rooms.
"This was such a good idea," said Nessie before she left. "I'm so glad Hermione thought of it!"
"It is, isn't it?" I said. "I'm glad they're all learning how to defend themselves."
"You coming Nessie?" asked Luna, walking up to us.
"Yeah, just a sec," said Nessie. Then she stood on her tip toes and kissed me on the cheek. "Night, Mom," she whispered.
"'Night, Ness," I said. "Night, Luna."
"See you in the morning Bella," said Luna. She gave me a searching look before taking Nessie's arm and walking out the door, Alice (who had been talking to Edward) following closely behind.
"We may have a problem," said Edward from behind me. I spun to face him.
"What do you mean?"
"I'll tell you later," said Edward, walking over to talk to Emmett and Jacob as Ron came over to me.
"Hey Bella, listen; just then, were you watching me? Because I've got this bet going with Fred, you see, and I would really appreciate it if you could just…"
I tuned Ron out and tried to listen to Edward, Emmett and Jake's conversation, But they were speaking so, so quietly… luckily, they had to speak a little louder than their absolute quietest, as Jake could not hear as well as a vampire, so I could just hear snippets.
"… but if she suspects…"
"It could just be a coincidence…"
" …we're lucky, right? It's not like it was…"
"If Umbridge finds out…
"…always happy anyway…"
"…a little bit odd…
"... I'm sure…"
"… all of us…"
"… it must have been…"
"… disgusting to Hermione's bloody cat! Bella, are you listening to me?"
"Um, sorry what?"
"Oh, a great help, you are," said Ron, huffing in annoyance. "Look, can you just tell Fred and George that I disarmed Hermione? Hermione's too damn proud to say so herself, they won't believe Harry and Neville will stutter so much they'll think he's lying."
"And did you disarm Hermione?" I asked.
"Of course I did," said Ron indignantly. "But they don't believe me!"
"Okay, okay, I believe you," I said, my eyes following Emmett and Jake's exit.
I didn't even know why I had been so intent on listening to their conversation. I mean, Edward said he'd tell me later and I know he would if it was important. This wasn't like back then; he doesn't keep things from me to protect me any more.
"So, you'll do it?"
"Oh, you really are hopeless."
"Sorry Ron," I said. "I'm just tired."
"Hmm, you do look tired," said Ron, scrutinizing the shadows below my eyes. They weren't very pronounced; Edward and I had gone hunting on Friday, and it was only Tuesday. But still, they were there.
"But don't worry," I said. "I'll tell them."
"Oh, thank Merlin," sighed Ron. "I was really worried… not that I ever said that, mind you!"
"Of course not," I said, amused.
"And now, Fred owes me three sickles! Yes!"
I laughed. Humans… so excited by the smallest things. But then, I guess vampires are exactly the same. Worse in Emmett and Alice's case, in fact.
Ron was still practically bouncing of the walls when we made it to the common room.
"So," I said, after Harry, Ron, and Hermione had gone up to the dormitories. "What was it that you were going to tell me back in the Room of Requirement?"
"Oh, it was nothing," said Edward.
"Nothing?" I asked, arching an eyebrow. "You seemed pretty stressed about it before."
"I talked about it with Emmett and Jake, and we realized that it was nothing," said Edward.
"Edward," I said, worrying again. "You're not… keeping things from me again, are you?"
"No, of course not," he said, smiling. "It really was nothing, I was just being paranoid, as usual."
"Are you sure?"
"Can't you just tell me what it was anyway?"
"There's no need to worry, Bella, really," he insisted, looking at me intensely. "Now, I think we had better head up to our dormitories, don't you? The others might get suspicious…"
"Alright," I said.
He kissed me, smiled, and then headed up the steps.
I watched him go, thinking.
He was so adamant that it was nothing, but I think - no, I'm sure - he really thought that it was nothing. He had promised not to keep anything like this from me ever again, and I believed that he wouldn't, I really did.
But if it really was nothing, why was he so stressed out when he told me that we had a problem?
I hope you all enjoyed it.
And in the next chapter Rosalie will finally act... ;)