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Summary: During his fourth year, Gryffindor house is not as accepting of Harry's participation in the TriWizard Tournament, and use an old tradition called exclusion to force him into complaisance. Harry finds out who his true friends are and uses cunning to get his own brand of revenge.
A.N.: So with the finishing of Conspiracy I went hunting in my hard drive for another fic to start. This fic is notcompleted, however it does have about a third written already, and the plot is fully formed. There is a fic that helped spawn the idea but I can't find it anywhere. If it seems familiar, please let me know and I'll assign credit where credit is due. The Harry/Hermione is not a full blown relationship, but they will become closer by the end.
Harry was fuming.
He knew better than to hope for a normal school year. He should have known that something bad would happen on Halloween. After a troll, the Chamber being opened and an attempted attack by a mass murderer he should have been anticipating something that could top all previous Halloweens.
Half walking, half stomping back to the common room he wondered at the reception he was going to get. It hadn't escaped his notice that many of the shouts of cheat thrown at his back had come from the Gryffindor table.
Knowing that this year would be hard enough he hoped that at least he didn't have to deal with scorn from his own housemates.
How little did he know.
The mood in the common room was ugly. Harry felt it even before he recognised the looks on his housemates faces, living with the Dursley's had given him a sixth sense about these things.
Looking around he spotted Hermione, Neville and the Twins backed into the corner by the door with looks of helpless disbelief on their faces and directly opposite was Ron, holding court and as red in the face and his hair colour. Ginny was almost hidden by her year mates and was being comforted by Colin Creevey.
Next to them, but separate from the main group was Alicia, Angelina and Katie, his fellow Quidditch players. Before he could ask what was going on, a seventh year prefect, Collins Harry thought, walked forward and presented Harry with a rolled up piece of parchment.
"Harry Potter, due to your recent behaviour which has brought this house into disrepute, Gryffindor House has voted and the vote has passed with a majority. You are hereby excluded from Gryffindor House until such time as certain conditions are met. So Mote it Be."
With that Hermione pulled him back through the portrait hole he had just entered through. In a daze Harry followed her, only slightly aware of being followed by Neville and the twins.
"Hermione what was...?"
"Not now Harry, and not here."
They followed the Twins to the kitchens and sat at one of the side tables. No one spoke as helpful elves placed tea and cakes in front of them.
"Exclusion is an old right, not used in a couple of decades. It allows the students of a house to exclude a member that does something that they do not agree with. Previously, it was used for actions like constantly being in detention, or losing lots of points, that sort of thing. Behaviour that lowers the reputation of a House as a whole. It's a way of forcing said student to change their ways."
"And they can just do that? What about McGonagall?"
"She can't help Harry."
Hermione was almost sobbing now.
"I don't understand. It normally takes time, but Collins just called for a vote, and everyone was so worked up that the conditions were bandied about and written down so quickly, there was hardly time to think."
"That's probably because they didn't want anyone to calm down."
Fred nodded in agreement and Harry looked to George to explain further.
"Ron's always been jealous, but he was fuming when everyone met in the common room. Going on about how you always use you fame, and rub your wealth in his face all the time."
Harry made to interrupt, deny it, something but Fred got there first.
"We know you don't Harry, but they were angry and it was coming from your best friend, and then Collins starts going on about house pride..."
"And then someone says 'threaten him with exclusion, that'll make him tell the truth'. And it kind of went from there. Quite a few people tried to back out when the proclamation was being written, but Collins threatened anyone who didn't at least abstain would be considered the same as you. That quieted everyone down quickly."
"What did I ever do to Collins? I barely know him."
"He was the substitute seeker, didn't have a great record, but was going to get the position anyway as there was no one else who was even remotely good."
"And then I come in as a first year..." Harry understood but still.
"He took some ribbing for that."
"Quidditch? That's it?"
"That and he blames his rather poor OWLs on the whole Chamber of Secrets debacle. Said that no one could work with the distractions and babysitting the younger years. Blames you for that somehow."
"Blames me for the Basilisk? But I stopped it!"
"And don't think we've forgotten. Unlike some, we remember our debts."
"What? No! You don't owe me anything."
"Well actually we do, you saved our sisters life,"
"... but we would've stood by you even if you hadn't."
"Anyway, Collins seems rather like Ron in a way, blaming everything on someone else."
"He's nearly lost his badge twice,"
"...and was never even in the running for Head Boy,"
"...he must have thought this was his moment to shine."
They all sat in silence to absorb that.
"What about my things? All of our things?"
"Traditionally excluded students are housed elsewhere until the exclusion is over. Our things would be taken there."
"I'm not waiting that long, who knows what they'll do to it."
Hermione seemed to understand his panic, though the other three couldn't. Did he really think they would damage his things? No matter what, McGonagall wouldn't stand for that.
"Harry, no. You're not allowed back in, not until exclusion is over." Harry sat back down looking despondent.
"Look McGonagall will be able to get our things. I'm sure nothing will be taken." Harry nodded and stared at the still rolled up parchment detailing the proclamation until a passing elf caught his notice.
"Master Harry Potter calls for Dobby! What can Dobby be ...?"
Harry had grabbed the elf by his shoulders and looked him straight in the eye, before the others had even recognised the pop as the elf's arrival.
"Dobby I need you to listen. I need you to get all my things out of the tower and bring them here. My trunk, everything Dobby, as quickly as you can."
A quick pop was his answer and then silence while Harry got up and paced. Not a few seconds later Dobby appeared with Harry's trunk open and a pile of clothes, books and toiletries piled on top of it.
"Did you open the trunk Dobby?" Harry asked warily.
"No Master Harry Potter, Mr. Potter's Wheezy was looking, searching through it, but Dobby had his orders Master Harry Potter Sir."
At the word 'No' both Harry and Hermione dove towards the trunk and started throwing clothes and books out, obviously searching for something.
"Map..." An old folded piece of parchment was quickly placed on the table before Harry dove back in.
Seconds later "Cloak." This time from Hermione untangling a shimmery fabric from the pile of clothes that had been tossed.
"Photo album and money pouch."
There was a pause before both turned back. A drawer slid from nowhere and both of them started rummaging around until they were satisfied. The drawer was closed before anyone else could see what was in there.
"Later guys." Harry said, stalling any questions, before turning to Dobby who was now wringing his hands so hard it must have hurt.
"Did Dobby do wrong?" He seemed a second away from seizing the teapot from the table and bashing himself over the head with it.
"No! No, Dobby you were great. I have valuable things in my trunk, precious things. And you got them before anyone could get them. Thank you Dobby." Before there was an onslaught of tears Harry quickly continued.
"Could you do the same for Neville's, Hermione's and the twins things and bring them here as well."
Looking to the mentioned students and getting nods Dobby popped out again. Harry looked at the mess he and Hermione had made. Sighing he started the fun task of trying to put everything back in some sort of order, when a passing elf clicked her fingers and his things were packed neatly away, even his books had been alphabetised. Looking up to say thank you, said elf had disappeared into the many still working at this hour. Harry shook his head. Why anyone would abuse such wonderful creatures he never knew. He probably thought that twice as strongly as most wizards though, he had had experience of being a house elf, and so loved them even more.
After refreshing their tea and thanking Dobby once he returned with all four trunks untouched, the five of them rolled out the parchment that Harry had been given and which had been ignored until now. Though the others knew what it said, for Harry it was the first time reading it, and he suddenly realised why disbelief was the prominent emotions on his friend's faces when he entered the common room.
The conditions would be humiliating if he hadplaced his name in the goblet, even more so when he knew he hadn't. Exclusion was meant to be a big punishment, but looking at the conditions set down Harry was sure trying to end it would be worse.
A full public apology. Academic probation for a year, which meant he would have been excluded from playing Quidditch. It also meant mandatory monthly class tests. Harry couldn't help but think that was Ron's contribution to the mandate. He did seem more excited about the suspension of end of year tests than the prize money. House probation for a month, with weekly detentions and suspension of Hogsmeade privileges. But what really made him angry was that those conditions applied to those that supported him as well.
Harry looked at the names on the sheet again and was grateful for his true friends. His fame meant that he rarely interacted with the majority of his housemates in anything more deeply than a conversation over homework. They all wanted a piece of the Boy Who Lived, nobody cared about Harry, except his true friends. A few hours ago Harry would have sworn that Ron was one of them. Just goes to show that nothing could be taken for granted.
He looked up at those he could count on. Hermione, Neville, Fred and George.
Hermione had been his friend since Halloween first year when Ron had carelessly hurt her with his words, trying to impress Harry and cover his embarrassment at being outshone by a Muggleborn.
Neville was always on the outskirts of Harry's friends. He didn't fit in with Seamus and Dean either, and Harry was ashamed to admit, he had allowed Ron to be rather overbearing as to who else they spent time with.
The twins were Ron's prankster brothers who were always there when he needed them. They had given him their most prised possession to help him out, even before they knew who his father was.
And tonight they had stood up against their brother and the rest of the house. Ginny had done so too, but was apparently cowed enough to at least abstain by the threat of the exclusion applying to her as well.
To be honest, quite a few of those he thought of as casual friends had abstained. He wondered if the conditions weren't so harsh, how many of them would have actually voted outright against exclusion. But then again that was probably the point. Only when the vote was close, was the abstained votes brought into consideration and the leaders wouldn't risk failing to get the majority.
Sitting in the kitchens watching the house elves move around tidying up after another horrible Halloween, they were all still shell shocked by what had happened in the space of an hour. Now however wasn't the time to go to pieces. Now was the time to plan, but first they had to let McGonagall know.
Sending a note with Dobby, McGonagall arrived not ten minutes later. It was obvious that she had still been up, though the more relaxed attire she was wearing made her seem that much more approachable. After a quick discussion and seeing her students' state she decided that the conversation could wait until tomorrow.
Leading them to rarely used guest quarters she was pleased to see the Hogwarts elves had beaten them there. Though rather spartan, everything was clean and usable.
"Well make yourselves at home. Though I normally wouldn't trust you two," she asked looking at the twins "please look after the other three."
Shushing the objections of all of the students in front of her McGonagall explained further.
"Though I am sure you three can look after yourselves, rules state that there must be a responsible presence around, which is one of the reasons prefect positions are granted in fifth year. Though the idea of these two as prefects makes me shudder, it allows all of you to stay together. Otherwise I might be forced to find housing elsewhere."
Nodding in acceptance they watched as she left them to get settled, with the promise of a meeting tomorrow evening to discuss the next steps. They were in a small sitting room, a smaller version of the Gryffindor common room, with seats around a fire and book shelves along the walls. To the side there was a large table that could be used for dining or work space. There were three doors leading off from the room, two on one side and one on the other. Seeing the boys head off to the two doors to the right Hermione headed to the room on the left where she found her room.
A queen sized bed, bookshelves all along the walls, a large desk and matching chest of drawers were changes to the usual fare of Gryffindor dormitories. Wondering at the luxury Hermione found an even greater surprise when she discovered the attached en suite. It made sense as she was the only girl that was staying there, but found it great that she wouldn't have to battle for bathroom time with Parvati and Lavender. Dragging her trunk to the end of the bed she set about enthusiastically setting out her things. Forget the en suite; having a dedicated space for her work and books was like a dream come true.
Discovering two rooms instead of the communal dormitory they were expecting, the boys split up without thinking. The twins taking one room, and Harry and Neville the other. Like Hermione they found two queen sized beds, a chest of drawers and desk each, though the furniture was squashed into a limited space perhaps even using a little magic here and there. It was however, much roomier than what they were used to, and having someone they knew sharing with them made sure they wouldn't get lonely. The bathroom was entered via a connecting door and they found another one straight to the twins room.
Quickly collecting the twins who were no doubt planning mischief, they made their way back into the common room and weren't surprised in the least to see that Hermione had beaten them there, her head already in a book. Seeing them enter she settled the book on the small table in front of her and gave them all an appraising look. Harry used to this just sat down and returned it, but the twins unsettled as to the resemblance to a Professor they all knew, started to squirm.
Laughing at their reaction she asked them all to sit.
"I've been thinking," continuing on over the snorts of laughter, "what do you know about exclusion, aside from the basics?" Harry also seeing where this was going spoke up first.
"Exclusion is a house punishment towards an individual or group that have done something to dishonour their house. It has to be voted for by the students of the house in question with a majority vote. Basically it's used when they don't want you in the House anymore. I only really know what you covered before. Why?"
"That's basically correct. It's the students' way of denouncing behaviour mostly. Say if one student is always doing bad things, such as lying, losing points and getting detentions. They have the ability to basically shun that student until the behaviour is corrected. Now the vote has to be passed with a majority. And if the vote is passed they can put conditions, on when the exclusion is lifted."
"Admit I entered? No way am I going to lie to get back into a house that doesn't show me loyalty."
"I wasn't going to ask you to. Anyway, the reason that most of these exclusions are successful is because if you vote to support the person you are normally included in the exclusion if the vote is passed. As such, most just vote to abstain, they support the person in an abstract way while not being punished if the vote is successful."
"Yeah. Thanks guys." Harry said, chocked with feeling.
He was grateful that he had some good friends that would risk something of this magnitude. He found himself with a strong comforting hand on his shoulder and found himself looking at a changed Neville Longbottom.
"Well that was rather my point. Most students who were excluded didn't have any support. Okay, so in most cases that was probably deserved, but it was an added pressure to behave better. Now any student excluded is no longer part of the House. That means that aside from not living in the dormitories and eating at the house table, they can't play Quidditch and no points can be taken from the house total."
"Seems simple enough?"
"Yes but what if we were to turn it on them? A little payback maybe?"
"Hermione Granger suggesting a prank? I never thought I would see the day Gred."
"The world must surely be ending Forge."
"Oh hush you two. Now what do you think about this..."
And so The Plan was born.