Evangeline and Hermione awoke the next morning like any other morning, and dressed, but in a pleasant change of pace were able to take the slide down to the common room.
"Wonder who tried to get in?" Evangeline giggled, skidding to a halt at the bottom beside Hermione.
The answer was immediately apparent, however, when they saw Ron, hair entirely out of place and tie askew. Evangeline had to laugh.
"That's completely sexist..." He grumbled, pointing at the stone slide. Evangeline chuckled and straightened out his tie for him, before flattening his hair with her fingers. Ron momentarily forgot about his reason for going upstairs, before it dawned on him. "You two, look at this." He led Hermione and Evangeline over to the notice board.
BY ORDER OF THE HIGH INQUISITOR OF HOGWARTS
All student organisations, societies, teams, groups and dubs are henceforth disbanded. An organisation, 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 organisation, 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 organisation, 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
"Oh, bloody hell." Said Evangeline, under her breath. 'Are we going to have to not do the group now?'
It was immediately apparent on entering the Great Hall that Umbridge's sign had not only appeared in Gryffindor Tower. There was a peculiar intensity about the chatter and an extra measure of movement in the Hall as people scurried up and down their tables conferring on what they had read. The four had barely taken their seats when Neville, Dean, Fred, George and Ginny descended upon them.
"Did you see it?"
"D'you reckon she knows?"
"What are we going to do?"
Harry glanced around to make sure there were no teachers near them.
"We're going to do it anyway of course," he said quietly. Evangeline grinned, finding it ridiculous that she ever doubted him for a second.
"Knew you'd say that," said George, beaming and thumping Harry on the arm.
"Here come Ernie and Hannah Abbott," said Ron, looking over his shoulder. "And those Ravenclaw blokes and Smith: and no one looks very spotty." He said in reference to Hermione's curse.
Breakfast continued as normal, with the four trying to look inconspicuous as they ate. When they left to head to History of Magic, they were hit with more bad news.
"Harry! Ron!" It was Angelina and she was hurrying towards them looking exasperated.
"It's OK," said Harry quietly, when she was near enough to hear him. "We're still going to –"
"You realise she's including Quidditch in this?" Angelina said over him.
"What?" said Harry.
"No way," said Ron, appalled.
"That's bollocks." Evangeline shook her head.
"You read the sign, it mentions teams too! So listen, Harry: I am saying this for the last time: please, please don't lose your temper with Umbridge again or she might not let us play anymore."
"Okay, okay." said Harry, soothingly, Angelina looked as though she was on the verge of tears. "Don't worry, I'll behave myself." He assured her.
"I cannot believe that old toad. I bet you she makes it harder for Gryffindor than Slytherin." Evangeline said bitterly.
"Doubt McGonagall will let that lie though." Said Harry grimly.
"Bet Umbridge is in History of Magic," said Ron darkly, as they headed toward their lesson. "She hasn't inspected Binns yet."
Thankfully, Ron was wrong; the only teacher present when they entered was Professor Binns, floating just above the floor and dreamily waiting for the class to take their seats.
As usual, Evangeline, Ron and Harry fell to doodling on a sheet of parchment while Hermione looked at them disapprovingly. Evangeline drew a picture of a small smiling stickman, and discretely enchanted it to wave and walk across the paper. Ron chuckled at the doodle quietly, and added a little poorly-drawn doodle of a puppy to the image, which Evangeline made chase the stickman across the paper, Ron laughed quietly again, and she grinned.
The lesson continued in this fashion, until once again it was time for dreaded Potions.
As they reached the bottom of the steps of the Dungeons, they heard the voice of Draco Malfoy, who was standing just outside Snape's classroom door, waving around an official-looking piece of parchment and talking much louder than was necessary so that they could hear every word.
"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?"
"Don't rise," Hermione whispered imploringly to Harry and Ron, who were both watching Malfoy, faces set and fists clenched. "It's what he wants."
"She's right." Evangeline agreed, gripping Ron's lower arm firmly.
"I mean," said Malfoy, raising his voice a little more, his grey eyes glittering malevolently in Evangeline, Harry, Ron's 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." Malfoy made an awful face, eyes rolling a tongue lolling. Crabbe and Goyle grunted and laughed, Pansy Parkinson let out a shriek of giggles.
"You fucking-" Evangeline rolled up her sleeves, finding magic irrelevant, but Hermione grabbed her arm and pulled her back with all her strength. It made no matter anyway, for Neville charged past them, jaw set and making a beeline for Malfoy.
"Neville don't!" Harry called, seizing the back of his robes. Neville frantically struggled, and Harry pleaded Ron for help, and both, with great difficulty, managed to restrain him. Hermione was still holding onto Evangeline's arm, and Crabbe and Goyle had stepped in front of Malfoy like bodyguards. Neville's face was scarlet from the pressure Ron and Harry were exerting trying to hold him back.
"Not-funny... Mungo's... Teach him a lesson."
The dungeon door opened and Snape appeared there. His black eyes swept up the Gryffindor line to the point where Harry and Ron were wrestling with Neville.
"Fighting, Potter, Weasley, Longbottom?" Snape said in his cold voice. "Ten points from Gryffindor. Release Longbottom, Potter, or it will be detention. Inside, all of you."
Harry let go of Neville, whom was panting a glaring at him.
"I had to stop you. Crabbe and Goyle would've killed you." Harry gasped, catching his breath. Neville did not reply, he just snatched up his bag and stormed into Snape's classroom.
"What was that about?" Ron asked, as they followed him in. Evangeline shook her head, frowning in worry as she watched Neville sit down. The four took their own seats at the back of the class, pulled out parchment, quills and their copies of One Thousand Magical Herbs and Fungi. The class around them was whispering about what Neville had just done, but when Snape closed the dungeon door with an echoing bang, everybody immediately fell silent.
"You will notice," said Snape, in his low, sneering voice, "that we have a guest with us today." He gestured towards the dim corner of the dungeon and they saw Professor Umbridge sitting there, clipboard on her knee.
"As if this lesson couldn't get any worse." Evangeline grumbled.
Snape tried to continue as normal, asking the class to work from textbooks, which Evangeline was glad for. She was entirely not in the mood for making a potion. She crossed her arms on the desk, and tried to keep focused on the book, however the temptation to eavesdrop on what Umbridge was saying to Snape was very strong.
"You applied first for the Defense Against the Dark Arts post, is that correct?" Umbridge had her quill poised above her clipboard as she eagerly followed Snape around the room, where he peered over student's shoulders.
"Yes." He said, in his usual tone.
"But you were unsuccessful?" She questioned in a high voice, and Evangeline had to fight back a laugh at the look on Snape's face.
"Ob-viously." Snape pronounced each syllable carefully, lip curling. Evangeline bit the inside of her mouth and fought off a grin, Ron however, snorted audibly, which earned him a sharp book to the back of the head, messing up his hair. Evangeline's body shook now, her eyes watering.
"Maybe I'll skive off Divination," Harry said glumly, as they stood in the courtyard after lunch.
Evangeline yawned. "I have to agree with you there. I'm sure we can find a place to hang out with the help of our trusty Marauders'." She said, and Ron nodded in agreement.
"You can't skive off Divination," said Hermione briskly.
"Hark who's talking, you walked out of Divination, you hate Trelawney!" said Ron indignantly.
"I don't hate her." Hermione sighed. "But I really don't think you lot can afford to get in trouble right now." There was too much truth in this to ignore, so half an hour later they were in Trelawney's classroom, sitting at their usual table. Professor Trelawney was yet again handing out copies of The Dream Oracle, and Evangeline sighed as she opened hers. She hated how Divination made her face the dreams that she'd had about Ron. The bloody stupid persistent dreams.
It was the same for him, the last one that particularly stuck in his memory was where he had been casually sitting on his bed alone, and she had entered, dressed in the kind of sexual and flattering underwear that you only found in the middle of certain magazine's, only she had a pair of white wings on her back... Her hair disheveled and her lips pouted and ruby.
"Well, carry on!" said Professor Trelawney loudly, her voice high-pitched and somewhat hysterical, breaking Ron from his reverie like a whip-crack, "you know what to do! Or am I such a sub-standard teacher that you have never learned how to open a book?"
The class stared perplexedly at her, then at each other.
"Think she's got the results of her inspection back." Harry mumbled to Ron and Evangeline.
"Professor?" said Parvati Patil in a hushed and worried. "Professor, is there anything - er - wrong?"
"Wrong!" cried Professor Trelawney in a voice throbbing with emotion, Evangeline felt a little uncomfortable. "Certainly not! I have been insulted, certainly: insinuations have been made against me: unfounded accusations leveled: but no, there is nothing wrong, certainly not!" She took a great shuddering breath and looked away from Parvati, angry tears spilling from under her glasses. "I say nothing," she choked, "of sixteen years of devoted service: it has passed, apparently, unnoticed: but I shall not be insulted, no, I shall not!"
"But, Professor, who's insulting you?" asked Parvati timidly.
"The Establishment!" said Professor Trelawney, in a deep, dramatic, wavering voice. "Yes, those with eyes too clouded by the mundane to See as I See, to Know as I Know: of course, we Seers have always been feared, always persecuted: it is - alas -our fate." She gulped, and pulled a handkerchief from her sleeve, and blew her nose very hard with a sound like Peeves blowing a raspberry. Ron sniggered. Lavender shot him a disgusted look, and Evangeline shot her a mocking one right back.
"Professor," said Parvati, "do you mean: is it something Professor Umbridge -?"
"Do not speak to me about that woman!" cried Professor Trelawney, leaping to her feet, her beads rattling and her spectacles flashing. "Kindly continue with your work!"
She spent the rest of the lesson walking amongst them, weeping into her handkerchief.
As if to be the cherry on top of a terrible day, Defense Against the Dark Arts came next, they of course began with the usual 'wands away' greeting, before getting down to a very interesting session of reading mundane books. After what felt like an age, the day was over, and the four finally could retire to the Gryffindor Common Room where they slumped around the fire. Evangeline stretched out her arms, before resting her head on Ron's shoulder. Baldrick jumped up and curled himself between them happily. "Hello sweetie." Evangeline said to him, and scratched him behind the ear lazily. Ron smiled at her, and stroked Baldrick's back.
Their brief moment of happy calm, however, was broken by the voice of Angelina Johnson.
"No Quidditch practice," she said in hollow tones.
"But I kept my temper!" said Harry, horrified. "I didn't say anything to her, Angelina, I swear, I –"
"I know, I know," said Angelina miserably. "She just said she needed a bit of time to consider."
"Consider what?" said Ron angrily. "She's given the Slytherins permission, why not us?"
"Don't be stupid, imagine how much she is loving holding this over our heads?" Evangeline grumbled against Ron's shoulder.
They all nodded solemnly in agreement, and Evangeline went back to staring at the fire and stroking lazy circles on Baldrick's back. Soon, everyone dispersed to bed, and the only sounds were that of Harry's quill scratching on the parchment, Baldrick's small snores and Hermione's knitting needles clicking together as she made another House Elf hat. Evangeline didn't move her head from Ron's comfortable shoulder, enjoying a calm time with her three best friends, as it seemed to be such a rarity at the time.
... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ...
The next day, they remained inside over break due to the downpour outside. They found seats in a noisy and overcrowded classroom on the first floor in which Peeves was floating dreamily up near the chandelier, occasionally blowing an ink pellet at the top of somebody's head. They had barely sat down when Angelina came struggling towards them through the groups of gossiping students.
"I've got permission!" she said cheerily. "To re-form the Quidditch team!"
"Excellent!" said Ron and Harry together.
"Yeah," said Angelina, beaming. "I went to McGonagall and I think she might have appealed to Dumbledore. Anyway, Umbridge had to give in. Ha! So I want you down at the pitch at seven o'clock tonight, alright? Because we've got to make up time. You realise we're only three weeks away from our first match?" She squeezed away from them, through the crowd.
Ron looked slightly worried at the prospect, and Evangeline noticed.
"You'll be great." She assured him, tapping his hand. Ron felt heartened.
The rain still poured as the day went on, at when 7pm arrived, Harry and Ron had to trudge to Quidditch Practice. Evangeline opted not to watch them that time, rather staying in the warm and attempting to catch up on the mountain of homework that had piled up on her.
"Hermione, when did the Hogsmeade Goblin Rebellion take place?" Evangeline had sat herself on the floor beside the table in the Common room, books out in front of her and parchment, quills and ink at the ready.
"1612." Hermione answered straight away, not looking up from her book.
"Thank yoou." Evangeline said in a singsong voice, and continued to scribble.
"Have you met up with Dumbledore lately?" Hermione asked.
"We've had a couple of meetings. He's just testing out what exactly I can do, and he says he thinks they're emotion related. Like, if I'm really angry or scared." Evangeline explained and Hermione nodded.
"Does he have any idea where your ability comes from?"
"It seems not as yet. But he's looking into it." She shrugged, finishing the last word of her last sentence on her essay with a long breath. "Finally. Done." She set down her quill and rotated her wrist, glancing out of the window.
"I do not envy Ron and Harry tonight." She commented, shaking her head at the rain throwing itself at the window.
"Me neither," Hermione chuckled.
"The Room of Requirement." Harry sat down across from them at breakfast. Evangeline and Hermione looked at each other.
"The Room of Re-whattement?" Evangeline raised her eyebrows.
"Dobby came to see me and Ron last night and he told us about it," he explained. "He says that it's a room on the seventh floor that a person can only find when they have real need of it. Across from the statue of Barnabus the Barmy."
"That's brilliant," Evangeline beamed, "we must let everyone know."
"Angeline, Katie and Alicia already know, we just need to spread the word," Harry said, before noticing the slightly worried expression on Hermione's face.
"What?" he said thickly.
"Well: it's just that Dobby's plans aren't always that safe. Don't you remember when he lost you all the bones in your arm?"
"This room isn't just some mad idea of Dobby's; Dumbledore knows about it, too, he mentioned it tome at the Yule Ball." Hermione's expression cleared.
"Dumbledore told you about it?"
"Just in passing," said Harry, shrugging.
"Oh, well, that's all right then," said Hermione briskly and raised no more objections.
"Tonight at 8 o' clock then?" Evangeline questioned.
"Yeah, 8 'o clock."
By dinner, everyone who had been at the Hog's Head knew of the meeting, and at half past seven, Evangeline, Harry, Ron and Hermione left the Gryffindor Common Room, Harry producing the Marauders Map as they did so. They kept glancing around nervously, just in case anyone saw them and questioned where they were going.
"Okay, we're safe, let's go."
Keeping close, they made their way to the statue of Barnabus the Barmy, and quickly arrived.
"Dobby said to walk past this bit of wall three times, concentrating hard on what we need."
They did so, turning sharply at the window just beyond the blank stretch of wall, then at the man-sized vase on its other side. Ron had screwed up his eyes in concentration; Hermione was whispering something under her breath; Harry's fists were clenched as he stared ahead of him.
"Harry!" said Hermione sharply, A highly polished door had appeared in the wall. Ron was staring at it, looking slightly wary. Harry reached out, seized the brass handle, pulled open the door and led the way into a spacious room lit with flickering torches like those that illuminated the dungeons. The walls were lined with wooden bookcases and instead of chairs there were large silk cushions on the floor. A set of shelves at the far end of the room carried a range of instruments such as Sneakoscopes, Secrecy Sensors and a large, cracked Foe-Glass that Harry was sure had hung, the previous year, in the fake Moody's office.
"Just look at these books!' said Hermione excitedly, running a finger along the spines of the large leather-bound tomes. "A Compendium of Common Curses and their Counter-Actions: The Dark Arts Out-smarted: Self-Defensive Spellwork: wow."
Evangeline chuckled at her friend's delight, as she examined the books for herself.
"Harry, this is wonderful, there's everything we need here." Hermione grinned.
"She's really right," Evangeline grinned, "this is bloody brilliant." She beamed at the Sneakoscopes. Hermione had slid Jinxes for the Jinxed from its shelf, sank on to the nearest cushion and began to read.
"Ron, Ron look." Evangeline whispered, childishly grinning as she picked up three Sneakoscopes and began to juggle them expertly. Ron laughed at the look of concentration on her face, and this brought Hermione's attention to her.
"Evey!" Evangeline jumped and proceeded to drop the Sneakoscopes, however managing to wandlessly stop them in mid-air just before they hit the stone floor. "Honestly, you're such a child." Hermione shook her head as Evangeline put the Sneakoscopes back on the shelf, an 'oopsie' look on her face.
There was a soft knock at the door, and soon Ginny, Neville, Lavender, Parvati and Dean entered.
"Whoa," said Dean, staring around, impressed. "What is this place?" Harry began to explain, but before he had finished more people had arrived and he had to start allover again. By the time eight o'clock arrived, every cushion was occupied.
"I'll lock the door." Evangeline spoke into the quiet, standing and doing so with a loud 'click,' before re-taking the large cushion she was sharing with Ron, thighs pressed together; neither minded.
"Well," said Harry, nerves in his voice. "This is the place we've found for practice sessions, and you've -er - obviously found it okay."
"It's fantastic!" said Cho enthusiastically, and several people murmured their agreement.
"It's weird," said Fred, frowning around at it. "We once hid from Filch in here, remember, George? But it was just a broom cupboard then."
"Well, I've been thinking about the sort of stuff we ought to do first and - er –" Harry continued, then he noticed a raised hand.
"I think we ought to elect a leader," said Hermione.
"Harry's leader," said Cho immediately, looking at Hermione as though she were thick. Evangeline noted the look of happiness on Harry's face at her words.
"Yes, but I think we ought to vote on it properly," said Hermione, unperturbed.
"So -everyone who thinks Harry ought to be our leader?" Everybody put up their hand, even Zacharias Smith, though he did it very half-heartedly.
"Er - right, thanks," said Harry, blushing slightly. "And - what, Hermione?"
"I also think we ought to have a name," she said brightly, her hand still in the air.
"Even here she has to be top of the class." Evangeline murmured to Ron, smiling at her bushy-haired friend.
"It would promote a feeling of team spirit and unity, don't you think?"
"Can we be the Anti-Umbridge League?" Angelina hopefully suggested.
"Or the Ministry of Magic are Morons Group?" said Fred.
"Or the 'Sod the High Inquisitor Association'?" Evangeline said, eyebrows high. There were a few murmurs of laughter.
"I was thinking," said Hermione, frowning slightly, "more of a name that didn't tell everyone what we were up to, so we can refer to it safely outside meetings."
"The Defense Association?" said Cho. "The DA for short, so nobody knows what we're talking about?"
"I like it, Cho." Evangeline smiled.
"Yeah, the DA's good," said Ginny. "Only let's make it stand for Dumbledore's Army, because that's the Ministry's worst fear, isn't it?" There was a good deal of appreciative murmuring and laughter at this.
"All in favour of the DA?" said Hermione bossily, kneeling up on her cushion to count. "That's a majority- motion passed!" She pinned the piece of parchment with all of their signatures on it on to the wall and wrote across the top in large letters: 'DUMBLEDORE'S ARMY.'
"Right," said Harry, when she had sat 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." Zacharias Smith rolled his eyes. "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."
Smith opened his mouth stupidly. The rest of the room was very quiet.
"But if you think it's beneath you, you can leave," Harry said. Smith did not move. Nor did anybody else. "I reckon we should all divide into pairs and practice." Harry went on.
Everybody got to their feet at once and divided up
"Right - on the count of three, then - one, two, three –" The room was suddenly full of shouts of 'Expelliarmus.' Wands flew in all directions; missed spells hit books on shelves and sent them flying into the air.
"Do you really dare, Weasley?" Evangeline grinned challengingly at Ron, as they stood a few feet apart, wands in their hand.
"Don't worry Evey, I won't hurt you." Ron told her condescendingly. Evangeline laughed slightly, before flicking her wrist, 'Expelliarmus!'
Ron's wand flew into the air with such speed that it hit the Foe Glass and cracked it slightly. Evangeline looked triumphant as Ron watched after his wand with a look of surprise.
"Oh dear," Evangeline mocked putting a hang to her lips and looking to the side, "how did that happen?"
Ron couldn't fight off a smile as he attempted to frown at her, and picked up his wand, quickly repairing the mirror before he headed back to her. Harry walked round them, observing in a 'teacherly' way.
"Okay Ron, you try." Harry said to him. Ron cleared his throat, and held out his wand.
"Expelliarmus!" The light from the incantation was made, and Evangeline felt her arm jolt slightly as she tried to keep hold of her wand, but he did not disarm her. Ron flushed. "Expelliarmus!" He tried again, and the same thing happened. "What's going on?" He said exasperatedly, looking at his wand as if trying to find a defect.
"I reckon Evey's wandless magic makes it so she can keep hold of her wand." Harry said, and Evangeline had a dawning expression.
"Or you're just really crap at this spell." She teased and Ron made a sarcastic 'ha ha' face.
Harry laughed, before calling everyone to a halt.
"That wasn't bad," he said, "but there's definite room for improvemen. Let's try again." He moved off around the room again, stopping here and there to make suggestions. Slowly, the general performance improved, and Ron eventually managed to make Evangeline's wand leave her fingers, (in fairness, she hadn't been paying attention and immediately pulled it back to her wandlessly, but his look of pride meant she didn't want to point that out).
"Hey, Harry," Hermione called from the other end of the room, where she had been practicing with Michael Danbury, "have you checked the time?"
They all looked up at the ancient looking clock on the wall, and saw that it was ten past night.
"Bloody hell, we'd better go hadn't we?" Evangeline said, picking up Ron's wand and handing to him.
"Well, that was pretty good," said Harry to the room, "but we've overrun, we'd better leave it here. Same time, same place next week?"
"Sooner!" said Dean eagerly and many people nodded in agreement. Angelina, however, reminded them that Quidditch Season was about to start.
"Let's say next Wednesday night, then," said Harry, "we can decide on additional meetings then. Come on, we'd better get going."
Everyone let them all leave in threes and fours on Harry's instruction as he watched the map. Evangeline, Harry, Ron and Hermione were the last to leave.
"That was really, really good, Harry." said Hermione, when finally it was just her, Harry and Ron who were left.
"Yeah, it was!" said Ron enthusiastically, as they slipped out of the door and watched it melt back into stone behind them.
"It was fantastic, we've definitely done the right thing.
"Did you see me disarm Evey, Harry?" Ron said eagerly, sending a smirk to Evangeline.
"Once." She smirked back. "Remind me, how many times did I get you?" She raised her eyebrow challengingly, and Ron didn't reply and Evangeline laughed and stepped closer to him, linking arms all the way back to the tower.
The next few weeks seemed to fly by to Evangeline. The idea that they were resisting just made the days so much easier. The meetings got better and better, and the group felt more and more like a unit. The feeling of being able to grin to themselves when Umbridge said 'wands away' was great, and knowing that it was all happening under her nose made it even better. Hermione soon devised a very clever method of communicating the time and date of the next meeting to all the members in case they needed to change it at short notice, because it would look suspicious if people from different Houses were seen crossing the Great Hall to talk to each other too often. She gave each of the members of the DA a fake gold). Coins on which the numbers would change to show the date of the next meeting, and heat up in their pockets so they could feel them. She and Evangeline had stayed up most of the night studying Protean charms and putting them on each coin.
The first Quidditch Match of the season drew close, and the DA meetings were put on hold for almost daily practices. Evangeline attended as many as she could, as she knew that her presence relaxed Ron slightly, (and seeing her sitting in the stands tended to discourage the less brave Slytherin's from watching and putting them off).
The morning of the match rolled around soon enough, cold and bright. Evangeline had decided to adorn herself in the house colors, laying her Gryffindor scarf, deep red hat, jumper with the crest on the breast, and scarlet sneakers with a little lion painted on the heel, care of Mrs Weasley. Evangeline had been sitting on the couch when Harry came downstairs and bent to speak to her.
"Can you talk to Ron please? He's a little nervous."
Evangeline chuckled and made her way up the stairs to the boys dormitory.
"Knock knock." She softly called as she pushed open the heavy wooden door. She found Ron sitting in bed still, in his pajama vest, arms around his knees and staring into space with his face resembling the time George had fed him an earwax flavored Bertie Bot's bean. He barely looked at her when she came in, and she let out a small sympathetic laugh.
"Oh Ron, you can't be that nervous." She said, walking over to sit beside him on the bed. He just slowly nodded. "Listen," she picked up his hand and his eyes immediately went to her face. Her hair was curlier than usual, and she had red lipstick on. He liked it. "You have nothing to be nervous about because you are going to be brilliant." She picked up his hand and kissed the back of it, and he swore he could feel the blood rush through his body.
Ron let out a shaky breath and nodded.
She gave him one last re-assuring smile, before standing and leaving him to get ready.
Ron looked at the lipstick mark on the back of his hand, feeling better than he had before.
Hermione was already at breakfast when Evangeline, Harry and Ron headed down, and as they passed the Slytherin table there was an upsurge of noise. Evangeline looked round and saw that in addition to the usual green and silver scarves and hats, every one of them was wearing a silver badge in the shape of what seemed to be a crown. For some reason many of them waved at Ron, laughing heartily.
Evangeline frowned and tried to see what the badges said, but the Slytherin's were too far away. They received a rousing welcome at the Gryffindor table, where everyone was wearing red and gold, but far from raising Ron's spirits he just looked worse than ever as he flopped down onto the bench, looking down at his breakfast like he was about to vomit on it.
"I must've been mental to do this," he said in a croaky whisper. "Mental."
"Don't be thick," said Harry firmly, passing him a choice of cereals, "you're going to be fine. It's normal to be nervous."
"I'm rubbish," croaked Ron. "I'm lousy. I can't play to save my life. What was I thinking?"
"Get a grip," said Harry sternly.
"Look at that save you made with your foot the other day, even Fred and George said it was brilliant." Evangeline pointed out, trying to hearten him.
"That was an accident," he whispered, his voice doing that high, squeaky thing it did when he was scared. "I didn't mean to do it - I slipped off my broom when none of you were looking and when I was trying to get back on I kicked the Quaffle by accident."
"Well," said Harry, "a few more accidents like that and the game's in the bag, isn't it?" He tried to joke. It didn't work.
Before they were going to head down to the pitch, Hermione pulled Harry and Evangeline to one side.
"Don't let Ron see what's written on the badges." She said urgently.
"What does it say?" Evangeline worriedly asked, hand on her forehead. Hermione quickly shook her head as she saw Ron walking over to them, looking lost.
"Good luck you two." Hermione said brightly, giving both quick hugs.
"Yeah, don't worry." Evangeline squeezed his hand, and leaned up to peck his cheek gently. Ron seemed to come back to himself slightly at this, touching his cheek as Harry led him away through the Great Hall.
"What do the badges say?" Evangeline hurriedly whispered to Hermione. Hermione opened her mouth to answer, but it became apparent when Malfoy stalked over to them, sneer firmly placed on his face. Evangeline's face fell when she saw the words 'Weasley Is Our King' embezzled on the bage.
"What does that mean, Draco?" She asked darkly, crossing her arms, knowing that it wouldn't be good.
"You'll see in good time Evangeline." He said, looking thoroughly amused. He looked her up and down shamelessly, angering her even more. "Not sure I like that colour on you, maybe put on some green next time." He smirked.
Evangeline laughed bitterly. "Red is for brave lions Draco," she said, tugging at her jumper, "green is for slimy snakes."
With that, she and Hermione departed for the stands.
A roar of sound erupted when the teams marched onto the pitch, each house trying to outdo each other with the loudness of their cheers. Evangeline had jostled her way to the front, dragging Hermione with her so that Ron and Harry had a good chance of seeing them.
"Go go, Gryffindor, go go, Gryffindor!" She chanted, scarf held in the air until everyone else joined in, booming over the shouts of the Slytherin supporters. Evangeline spotted Ron's bright hair sticking out from his rather ill-fitting brown leather helmet, and could see his bulky form in his Keeper's kit. She grinned: he looked truly adorable.
After the customary handshake between the captains, the balls were released and the fourteen players shot upwards. Evangeline kept her eye firmly on Ron as he zoomed into the air and took his place at the goalposts.
"And it's Johnson -Johnson with the Quaffle, what a player that girl is, I've been saying it for years but she still won't go out with me –"
"JORDAN!" yelled Professor McGonagall, and Evangeline laughed, "- just a fun fact, Professor, adds a bit of interest - and she's ducked Warrington, she's passed Montague, she's - ouch - been hit from behind by a Bludger from Crabbe." Lee's commentary rang through the stadium as the supporters eyes darted as the Quaffle and Bludgers flew.
"-dodges Warrington, avoids a Bludger - close call, Alicia - and the crowd are loving this, just listen to them, what's that they're singing?"
AsLee paused to listen, the song rose loud and clear from the sea of green and silver in the Slytherin section of the stands:
"Weasley cannot save a thing, He cannot block a single ring, That's why Slytherins all sing: Weasley is our King! Weasley was born in a bin He always lets the Quaffle in Weasley will make sure we win, Weasley is our King!"
"- and Alicia passes back to Angelina!"
Evangeline felt her insides burn at the sound, and the heat crept up her neck and set her face alight.
"Those fuckers I'll-" Evangeline went to push her way out of the stands and inflict serious damage on every single Slytherin singing that song.
"NO, Evey, that won't help anything." Hermione pulled her back, her own face stony as she looked at the Slytherins. "Satisfying as it would be..." She added.
Evangeline nodded stoically, frown firmly on her face, and settled for watching the game, squeezing the wooden barrier in front of her until her knuckles went white.
"Come on now, Angelina - looks like she's got just the Keeper to beat! - SHE SHOOTS - SHE – aaaah, Bletchley saves!"
He threw the Quaffle to Warrington who sped off with it, zig-zagging in between Alicia and Katie; the singing from below grew louder and louder as he drew nearer and nearer Ron. Evangeline could almost see the pinkness on his face from where she was, and felt as if she wanted nothing more than to hug him tightly, to kiss him and to tell him to ignore those pathetic bastards.
But she couldn't, she just mentally urged him to save the goal.
"Weasley was born in a bin He always lets the Quaffle in Weasley will make sure we win, Weasley is our King!"
"- And it's Warrington with the Quaffle, Warrington heading for goal, he's out of Bludger range with just the Keeper ahead –"
"Weasley cannot save a thing, He cannot block a single ring!"
"- So it's the first test for new Gryffindor Keeper Weasley, brother of Beaters Fred and George, and a promising new talent on the team - come on, Ron!"
A scream of delight came from the Slytherins' end: Ron had dived wildly, his arms wide, and the Quaffle had soared between them straight through Ron's central hoop.
"Slytherin score!" came Lee's voice amid the cheering and booing from the crowds below, "so that's ten-nil to Slytherin - bad luck, Ron." Evangeline swore under her breath, he wouldn't have missed it if they hadn't been putting him off.
"WEASLEY WAS BORN IN A BINHE ALWAYS LETS THE QUAFFLE IN!"
"- and Gryffindor back in possession and it's Katie Bell tanking up the pitch –" cried Lee valiantly, though the singing was now so deafening that he could hardly make himself heard above it.
"WEASLEY WILL MAKE SURE WE WIN WEASLEY IS OUR KING!"
Evangeline contemplated how she could set the Slytherin stands on fire unnoticed...
Ron let in a few more goals before Angelina scored, and the Slytherin singing did not relent with each one. Evangeline could see Harry darting around in the air, obviously frantically trying to find the Snitch and end the game.
"WEASLEY WAS BORN IN A BIN HE ALWAYS LETS THE QUAFFLE IN! WEASLEY WILL MAKE SURE WE WIN!"
Evangeline saw Harry stop momentarily, before darting forward with clear determination.
"He's seen the Snitch!" She shouted to Hermione over the noise. "GO ON HARRY!" She screamed, but was barely loud enough to be heard by Hermione, was right beside her, over the noise of the Slytherins.
"POTTER CATCHES THE SNITCH, GRYFFINDOR WIN!" Lee called over the noise, and a massive uproar came from the Gryffindors. Evangeline could barely join in, she was just glad it was over. Her relief seemed to be for naught though, for in the moment Harry's hand closed round the Snitch, Crabbe had smacked a Bludger straight for his head, sending him falling off the broom. A disgusted outcry came from the crowd.
"What a dirty trick!" Parvati shouted with indignation.
"AS IF THE HAVEN'T DONE ENOUGH TODAY, THOSE MOTHERFUCKERS!" Evangeline screeched, and before Hermione could stop her, she had fled from the stands and was sprinting toward the pitch where the teams had landed.
But Ron wasn't there when she arrived, he had obviously gone straight back to the castle when he had landed, and Evangeline felt a pang of sadness for him at the idea.
"Are you alright?" She asked Harry.
"I'm fine." He gruffly replied, rubbing the back of his head.
"We wanted to write another couple of verses!" Malfoy called, as Katie and Alicia hugged Harry. "But we couldn't find rhymes for fat and ugly - we wanted to sing about his mother, see –"
"Talk about sour grapes," said Angelina, casting Malfoy a disgusted look.
Evangeline had clenched her fists, and was willing Malfoy not to say another word.
"- We couldn't fit in useless loser either - for his father, you know –"
Fred and George had realised what Malfoy was talking about. Halfway through shaking Harry's hand, they stiffened, looking round at Malfoy.
"Leave it!" said Angelina at once, taking Fred by the arm. "Leave it, Fred, let him yell, he's just sore he lost, the jumped-up little –"
"- but you like the Weasleys, don't you, Potter?" said Malfoy, sneering. "Spend holidays there and everything, don't you? Can't see how you stand the stink, but I suppose when you've been dragged up by Muggles, even the Weasleys' hovel smells okay." Harry grabbed hold of Evangeline by the waist, as she was just about to lunge, and held her there tightly. She wasn't making it easy. Meanwhile, it was taking the combined efforts of Angelina, Alicia and Katie to stop Fred and George leaping on Malfoy, who was laughing openly, "and you live there, don't you Brown? I suppose it must attract stray little witches and wizards."
"You better shut your fucking mouth you greasy little arsehole." Evangeline pointed at Malfoy warningly, jaw set and still fighting against Harry's arm.
"Or perhaps," Malfoy went on leering as he backed away, "you can remember what your parents houses stank like Potter, Brown, and Weasleys pigsty reminds you of it –"
Harry was seemingly unaware of releasing Evangeline, both had their minds set on one thing. Hurting Draco Malfoy as badly as possible. Both sprinted toward him, forgetting about the existence of magic as Evangeline's shoulder colliding with his so he fell to the ground, and Harry punched him squarely in the stomach.
They girls' voices screaming, Malfoy yelling, George swearing, a whistle blowing and the bellowing of the crowd around him, but didn't care. Evangeline had her fist drawn back and ready to strike before she was caught by Angeline, and forcebly dragged backwards.
"He's not worth it!" She shouted in her ear so the words would get through, "he's not worth it!"
Not until Madam Hooch yelled, "Impedimenta!" and Harry was knocked over backwards by the force of the spell, did Harry stop trying to punch Malfoy, and Evangeline stopped struggling against Angelina's strong arms.
"What do you think you're doing?" Screamed Madam Hooch, as Harry leapt to his feet, she was holding her whistle in one hand and a wand in the other; her broom lay abandoned several feet away. Malfoy was curled up on the ground, whimpering and moaning, his nose bloody; George was sporting a swollen lip; Fred was still being forcibly restrained by two Chasers, and Crabbe was cackling in the background.
"I've never seen behavior like it - back up to the castle, both of you, and straight to your Head of House's office! Go! Now!" Harry and George turned on their heels and marched off the pitch, both panting, and Evangeline watched after them, angry tears burning her eyes.
Evangeline had walked through the castle numbly late that evening, trying to tell him the news of Harry, Fred and George's banning from Quidditch. The rage she had felt toward Malfoy earlier was like nothing she had ever felt before, and her hands still shook from the memory of it. That, coupled with the unfairness of their banning, meant that Evangeline's day had changed greatly from laying out her red clothes the night before. After not being able to find him in the usual places, she headed back to the common room where everyone was silently sitting around the fire, angrily staring at the flames.
"I'm going to bed," Angelina stood up slowly, "Maybe this will all turn out to have been a bad dream: maybe I'll wake up tomorrow and find we haven't played yet."
She was soon followed by Alicia and Katie. Fred and George sloped off to bed some time later, glowering at everyone they passed, and Ginny went not long after that.
Only Evangeline, Harry and Hermione were left beside the fire.
"Have you seen Ron?" Hermione asked in a low voice.
"I couldn't find him." Evangeline said, shaking her head.
"Where do you think he-?" But at that precise moment, there was a creaking sound behind them as the Fat Lady swung forwards and Ron came clambering through the portrait hole. He was very pale indeed and there was snow in his hair. When he saw Evangeline, Harry and Hermione, he stopped dead in his tracks.
"Where the hell have you been?" Evangeline asked, an edge to her voice from her anger and worry.
"Walking," Ron mumbled. He was still wearing his Quidditch things.
"Sit down by the fire, you look freezing." Evangeline commanded, her caring nature getting the better of her.
"I'm sorry," Ron mumbled, looking at his feet.
"What for?" said Harry.
"For thinking I can play Quidditch," said Ron. 'I'm going to resign first thing tomorrow.
"If you resign," said Harry testily, "there'll only be three players left on the team. ' And when Ron looked puzzled, he said, "I've been given a lifetime ban. So've Fred and George."
"What?" Ron's eyes were wide, and Hermione relayed the whole story.
When she had finished, Ron looked worse than ever, and continued to blame himself as Evangeline watched Hermione wander to the window and look outside at the snow.
"This is the worst I've ever felt in my life."
"Join the club," said Harry bitterly.
"Well," said Hermione, her voice trembling slightly. "I can think of one thing that might cheer you lot up.
"Good luck, Herms." Said Evangeline skeptically.
Hermione, turned away from the pitch-black, snow-flecked window, a broad smile spreading across her face.
... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ...
Hagrid relayed to them his story about his time with the Giants after the four had run to his cabin. They had listened urgently, fascinated by his story but also delighted to have their good friend back. Hagrid was like a rock at Hogwarts, a big, lovely, hairy, rock. The only problem about his return drew back to most of the problems at the time: the Hogwarts High Inquisitor. The four seriously doubted that Hagrid would be at all exempt with her thorough inspection, and with her reaction to Trelawney, truly doubted that he would get a glowing report. Evangeline, Ron, Harry and Hermione loved Hagrid, but in their heart of hearts knew that he was not a good teacher. His first lesson since his return was where they learned about Thestrals, Evangeline found them genuinely interesting (although she couldn't see them), Umbridge spoiled the lesson, treating Hagrid like an idiot and scribbling notes the whole way through.
December rolled around, and with it a blanket of snow that covered the grounds and the tops of the turrets. Christmas was certainly in the air, and Evangeline relished it, her favourite time of the year put her in far better spirits than she had been in, and she could be caught at most times hanging decorations around the Gryffindor common room, singing Muggle songs cheerily. Ron walked into the common room just before the last DA meeting before people went home for Christmas, and found her standing precariously on the back of a chair, hanging glittery red and gold sheer material over the top of a window. The hem of her white sweater had ridden up so he could see the bottom of her back, and her arms were stretched high in front of her.
"Evey, what are you doing?" He shook his head at her, smiling.
"Decorating." She replied, sticking a small brass pin in the last corner, before jumping down. "Like it?"
"Yeah it's great," he chuckled, "mum's not going to be pleased when we let you loose at home."
"She was cleaning up glitter until June last time." He laughed, and Evangeline chuckled and blushed.
"I put some Mistletoe up." She said, pointing at the ceiling above her where the pretty plant was flourishing on the stone. Ron's throat and mouth went dry, and he nodded.
"Yeah..." his voice was weak, "i-it's nice."
The room was too quiet, and Ron noticed her step forward slightly. Evangeline wasn't quite sure what she was doing, and was very aware of her heartbeat in her chest and her breath.
"Evey! Glad I caught you before the meeting." Ron and Evangeline hurriedly stepped back, both turning pink at the sound of Angelina Johnson's voice. "I hear you're a dab hand at Beating." She said.
"Well, I'm alright..." She said uncertainly.
"More than alright Evey, you're almost as good as Fred and George." Ron spoke up for her.
"Fancy joining the team in Fred's place?" Angelina offered, eyebrows raised. Evangeline was taken aback, and she looked at Ron for help. He only smiled encouragingly at her.
"Well, uh... I'm not sure..."
"Oh go on Evey," Ron urged her, "you'll be brilliant."
Evangeline felt the smile tug at the corners of her mouth and licked her lips.
"Alright then, I'll give it a go." She conceded.
"Yes!" Angelina hugged her, "Thank you."
"No problem." Evangeline chuckled, tapping her back.
"I thought this evening we should just go over the things we've done so far, because it's the last meeting before the holidays and there's no point starting anything new right before a three-week break –"
"We're not doing anything new?" said Zacharias Smith, in a disgruntled whisper loud enough to carry through the room. "If I'd known that, I wouldn't have come."
"We're all really sorry Harry didn't tell you, then," said Fred loudly. Several people sniggered.
"- we can practice in pairs," said Harry. "We'll start with the Impediment Jinx, for ten minutes, then we can get out the cushions and try Stunning again.
The room was soon full of cries of "Impedimenta!" People froze for a minute or so, during which their partner would stare aimlessly around the room watching other pairs at work, then would unfreeze and take their turn at the jinx.
After ten minutes of that, they brought out the cushions and got to Stunning, sending people flying backwards into the cushions, it was actually rather fun in Evangeline's opinion. When Ron finally managed it, (he was reluctant to do so), she went falling back, and landed with an 'oomph!' hair messy around her face and t-shirt somewhat slipping up. She looked good like that in Ron's opinion.
At the end of an hour, Harry called a halt.
"You're getting really good," he said, beaming around at them. "When we get back from the holidays we can start doing some of the big stuff - maybe even Patronuses."
There was a murmur of excitement. The room began to clear in the usual twos and threes; most people wished Harry a 'Happy Christmas' as they went. The four collected up the cushions before Evangeline, Hermione and Ron left and headed back to the common room, leaving Harry alone with Cho.
"Well?" Ron said, looking up at Harry. "How was it?"
Harry considered for a moment.
"Wet," he said truthfully. Ron made a noise that might have indicated jubilation or disgust, it was hard to tell. "Because she was crying," Harry continued heavily.
"Oh," said Ron, his smile fading slightly. "Are you that bad at kissing?"
"Dunno," said Harry, who hadn't considered this, and immediately felt rather worried. "Maybe I am."
"Of course you're not," said Evangeline absently, wrapping some green and red tinsel around Baldrick's collar.
"How do you know?" said Ron very sharply.
"Because Cho spends half her time crying these days," Hermione answered for her. "She does it at meal-times, in the loos, all over the place."
"You'd think a bit of snogging would cheer her up," said Ron, grinning.
"Ron," Evangeline sighed, "don't be so insensitive."
"What's that supposed to mean?" said Ron indignantly. "What sort of person cries while someone's kissing them?"
"Yeah," said Harry, slightly desperately, "who does?"
Hermione looked at the pair of them with an almost pitying expression on her face, and then looked at Evangeline for help, Evangeline rolled her eyes at the boys.
"Don't you understand how Cho must be feeling at the moment?" she asked.
"No," said Harry and Ron together.
"Well, obviously, she's feeling very sad, because of Cedric dying. Then I expect she's feeling confused because she liked Cedric and now she likes Harry, and she can't work out who she likes best. Then she'll be feeling guilty, thinking it's an insult to Cedric's memory to be kissing Harry at all, and she'll be worrying about what everyone else might say about her if she starts going out with Harry. And she probably can't work out what her feelings towards Harry are, anyway, because he was the one who was with Cedric when Cedric died, so that's all very mixed up and painful. Oh, and she's afraid she's going to be thrown off the Ravenclaw Quidditch team because she's been flying so badly." Hermione said, having to take only a few breaths in between her speech, Evangeline had be nodding along with what she said, and the boys looked at the two girls in stunned silence.
"One person can't feel all that at once, they'd explode." Ron commented, shaking his head.
"Just because you've got the emotional range of a teaspoon." Hermione replied. Evangeline frowned amusedly in her friend, before all four broke into laughter.
It was only a few hours after getting in bed that Evangeline was woken with news that Arthur had been attacked.
Again, reviews are needed for me to continue. I went a bit longer with this chapter, just because the last few have been rather short. Let me know if you enjoyed it!