This one's dedicated to Cheyla. Happy New Year to her and everyone else reading this!
Disclaimer: I owneth not Harry Potter.
"AHH!" Umbridge ran away screaming and soaking wet from the edge of the Great Lake as the Giant Squid shook its tentacles together in a triumphant gesture.
"That was pretty fun to watch…" Harry, Ron and Hermione watched laughing along with many of the other Hogwarts students.
"Yeah. Who knew that Luna could actually persuade the Giant Squid to dunk the old toad?" Ron snickered.
"It wasn't so hard. Marty is actually a pretty sweet creature. He wouldn't hurt a fly. Umbridge on the other hand being the toad she is…" Luna commented behind them in her usual dreamy tone, startling them.
"Blimey, Luna! Don't sneak up on us like that!" Ron clutched his chest.
"How would you like me to sneak up on you then?" Luna smiled sweetly.
Harry and Hermione looked at one another for a brief second before bursting into fits of laughter once again.
After the Weasley twins had made their spectacular exit from Hogwarts, everyone was eager to do their part in causing trouble in the school just to piss off Dolores Jane Umbridge or as she was called by most of the students (and even some of the teachers!), Umbitch.
Every day, the distinctly more unpleasant, uglier, witch version of Hyacinth Bucket was terrorized by a broad spectrum of pranks and while they never measured up to the Weasley twins, they certainly came close.
Last week, someone had set off several Dungbombs in her class that had sent not only her, but the students running for cover- though the students at least were smart enough to perform Bubblehead charms…
Then there was the matter of Fred and George's fireworks becoming extremely popular amongst the students. They were set off anywhere at any time.
The Creevy brothers at one point hand managed to sneak a small firework into Umbridge's mashed potatoes at dinner where it promptly exploded as soon as Umbridge touched it with a fork. The teachers struggled to conceal their amusement (even Snape oddly enough…), but the students had no such limitations and some of them were even rolling around on the floor in tears of mirth.
However, one incident soon occurred that would surpass what the Weasley twins could have ever done and it wasn't even on purpose. At least at first…
It should be known that Care of Magical Creatures was not a favourite class of many of the students- when Hagrid was teaching it.
From the boring Flobberworms to the… unnerving Hippogriffs, his class had been full of many… interesting creatures.
He surpassed himself with the creatures he called Blast-Ended Skrewts.
Everyone hated those creatures. Everyone.
Except Hagrid himself- though he failed to realise this.
Given past… episodes involving dragons, Acromantulas and goodness knows what else, no one should have been surprised…
"Today, we will be revisiting the Blast-Ended Skrewts I showed ya las' year. Remember 'em?" Hagrid asked.
"I was hoping we'd be able to forget them…" Dean Thomas muttered under his breath and several other nearby nodded in agreement.
"Well, over the summer they breeded…"
Lavender Brown and Parvati Patil let out terrified whimpers as they huddled one another as were other members of the class.
"Well, today we'll be…"
Lucky for them, they only managed to cover the theory before Hagrid got sacked.
Unfortunately, someone forgot to get rid of the Skrewts…
A group of third year Slytherins were walking around the area of Hagrid's hut laughing and talking amongst themselves.
"I'm glad that big lug Hagrid's gone!" One dark-blonde haired boy exclaimed.
"So am I. His lessons were a joke!" Another auburn-haired boy agreed with him.
"You mean he was a joke…" This one, a brown-haired girl, muttered under her breath.
"True that, Astoria…" Another young brunette girl nodded sagely.
"Since Umbridge gave his arse a kick from this school, why are they allowing this hovel to still stand? If I were her, I'd have had it demolished immediately…" A boy with black curly hair wrinkled his face in disgust.
"Is that dung I smell?" What looked like a female version of the previous boy matched his facial expression, tossing her own dark hair aside.
"I think so…" Astoria answered.
"Hey guys! Look what I found!" The auburn-haired boy gestured to a large pen.
"What's that, Andrew?" Curly-haired boy asked.
The pen began to rattle and shake and some of them backed away cautiously.
"I wouldn't go any nearer, if I were you…" Astoria warned.
"We don't know what's in there!" The other female exclaimed.
"You don't have to be such a coward, Sarafina!" Curly addressed his sister.
"I'm not scared, Leonard. I'm simply backing away so in case whatever's in there gets out, I'll be far away!"
The six Slytherins jumped, startled.
"I hate it when she does that…" Astoria thought.
"What are you students doing lurking around the half-breed's filthy hut? You all should be back in the castle where you belong." Umbridge smiled her sickening smile that even got to some of the Slytherins- including this group.
"Nothing, Professor Umbridge! We were just going for a walk! We'll be going now!" Blonde boy said.
"Good. Can't have proper pure-bloods roaming around where anything could attack them, now can we?"
"No, Professor!" The five Slytherin students exclaimed in unison
"Now what is it that that filthy halfbreed had in here…?" Umbridge looked into the pen.
Unfortunately for her and the school populace, the Blast-Ended Skrewts in there decided that they didn't like her face and turned to fire at her.
Luckily for her at that moment and unluckily for most Hogwartians, it missed her face by inches.
Her luck would end there as their fire hit somewhere else: the lock on the pen, which Hagrid had forgotten to magically reinforce.
"Oh, sweet Merlin…" Sarafina gasped.
"Well, what are you waiting for? RUN!" Astoria was first in the lead of everyone trying to get away from the rampaging Blast-Ended Skrewts.
Harry, Ron and Hermione sat under a tree near the Great Lake watching Luna feed Marty some fish she'd gotten from the house elves when they heard a lot of screaming and what looked like explosions in the distance.
"What is that?" Ron asked, shading his eyes, trying to get a better view.
"Oh Harry, you don't think that it's Death Eaters trying to get into the castle again, do you?" Hermione clung to Harry's arm tightly, eyes wide.
Some of those closer to the explosions began running and screaming themselves as the six third year Slytherins came running across the grounds.
"RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!" Andrew screamed.
Astoria came up to Daphne and grabbed her arm.
"Come on, sister! We have to get inside the castle, NOW!" She exclaimed, trying to drag her off, but Daphne was having none of it.
"Why should I? What's going on?" Daphne asked.
"It's Hagrid's Blast-Ended Skrewts! Umbridge accidentally set them loose!" Leonard screamed, not stopping as he sped past the Greengrass sisters.
There was silence amongst all nearby who heard for a few seconds, at least until they spotted the explosions coming closer…
"OH DEAR, SWEET MERLIN!" Draco Malfoy was the first to run off.
Everyone looked at one another slowly and then started running towards the castle, screaming.
"Let's go, let's go, let's go!" The prefects who were out on the lawn began shepherding students into the castle
Ron and Hermione hurried off to join the other prefects while Harry himself tried to help as best he could.
He saw the two of them backing away from a Skrewt that had taken a special interest in them.
"STUPEFY!" He raised his wand but he wasn't the only one to do so.
Five other streaks of red light besides his own hit the Skrewt in a crack in its shell and it tumbled over onto its back, stunned.
Luna Lovegood, Ginny Weasley, Susan Bones, Justin Fintch-Fletchley and Parvati Patil had all fired stunners as well.
"Thanks for the help, guys!" Colin helped his brother up.
"You should thank Harry. After all, he's the one who taught us these spells…" Luna said in her usual dreamy tone.
"Let's hope I can teach you how to run too!" Harry took off with the others, firing off random stunners at the Skrewts as he went.
When they came to the castle, Argus Filtch and Severus Snape had come to the entryway to investigate the noise.
Snape was ready to take points from them for causing such a ruckus, when he and Filtch were trampled by the first of the crowd.
"URK!" Snape gurgled as he was trampled silly by the hordes of Hogwarts students.
He tried to get back up again, but was trampled by Zacharias Smith and a bunch of his friends. Then Terry Boot and a bunch of his friends came speeding over, but the knock out tramplings came from Vincent Crabbe and Gregory Goyle, whose feet felt more like those of a troll on top of his now fractured back.
"What do we do, what do we do, what do we do?" Lavender Brown was in a panic as the Gryffindors remained holed up in Gryffindor Tower as the teachers tried to eradicate the Skrewts out on the grounds.
"Lavender, are you a Gryffindor or not? Stop acting like a wimp! We're all safe up here!" Hermione exclaimed, annoyed.
Lavender glared back at her and was about to open her mouth when Professor Flitwick's voice rang through the castle walls.
"Attention students: The Blast-Ended Skrewts have breached the castle. I repeat: the Blast-Ended Skrewts have breached the castle. Do NOT under ANY circumstances leave your Dormitories. I repeat- huh? What?- NYAGHAHA!" They heard Professor Flitwick screaming as several explosions went off in the background.
"You were saying, smartass?" Lavender folded her arms and raised an eyebrow at Hermione.
"Well, we're still Gryffindors! The lions! The house of the brave, noble, courageous! Are we going to let those monstrosities keep us holed up in this tower?"
"Have you ever been burnt by one of those things, Granger? Those things hurt. A lot!" Dean exclaimed.
"One almost singed off my hair!" Parvati whimpered.
"They actually set my hair on fire." Lee Jordan held his dreadlocks close.
"How do we get the Skrewts out of the castle is the important question here…" Harry pointed out.
Everyone nodded in agreement with him.
"Maybe if we gave them a sacrifice?" Colin suggested.
"A sacrifice?" Hermione raised an eyebrow sceptically.
"Yeah. Let the Skrewts take someone else in exchange for leaving the rest of us alone!" Ron exclaimed.
"Ron, you're not actually suggesting that we throw one of us Lions out the Skrewts, are you?" Ginny inched away from him.
"Of course not! I suggest we sacrifice a nice, delicious Slytherin of course!" Ron suggested.
The others seemed to like this idea as they chattered excitedly about it.
"Uh-huh. And if we were to sacrifice one of the Slytherins, who would you suggest we offer as a sacrifice?" Hermione was having none of this.
"How about Malfoy?" Harry suggested.
"Oh yeah, sacrifice Malfoy!"
"No, what about Snape?"
"Do you think they'd want to have something as slimy and greasy as that git to eat?"
"How about Pansy Parkinson or Millicent Bulstrode?"
"Do they like beef?" Hermione asked, snickering.
"How about UMBITCH?" Someone called out.
The room went completely silent as it took some time for that suggestion to sink in.
"Well, it was her that supposedly upset them in the first place and got them pissed, so why not her? It makes sense!" An Asian sixth-year witch sat next to her twin sister, who nodded in agreement with her.
"I agree with Joanna. She upset them, so Umbitch should be sacrificed!" Katie Bell piped up.
Hermione paused in thought.
"Harry, Ron, what do you think?" She turned to them and so did everyone else.
They looked at one another.
"Umbridge is to be the sacrifice." They said in unison.
All the Gryffindors cheered.
"Yes, but how do we pull this one off?" Hermione asked. "There's still logistics and other things to consider. How will we move about the castle without being detected by beast or wizard?"
Angelina Johnson spoke next. "How about we take those of us best at Defence, Charms and Transfiguration? Ten of us, tops. We'd be able to capture Umbitch and draw the Skrewts out the castle with her! Plus if anything goes wrong, those people who go would be able to fight back!"
Everyone clapped at her idea.
"Okay then. Who's going?" Hermione conjured up a piece of parchment and a quill.
"Well, besides you obviously, there's me, Lee, Katie, Harry, Ginny, Alicia, Colin and the Seondo twins over there…" Angelina nodded to Jillian and her sister, who waved.
"Wait, why them?" Ron asked.
"Well, we all know about Hermione's brilliance, me, Katie and Alicia have great reflexes from playing Quidditch all these years plus we're almost done with school so we're bound to know a few things, Harry has all that plus being great at Defence despite what he thinks, Ginny's hexes will come in handy, Colin is actually pretty handy with Charms and the Seondo twins are good with Transfiguration…" Angelina counted off her reasons on her fingers.
"Okay then. If everyone Angelina suggested is okay with this…" Hermione waved around the parchment.
It took a few minutes, but finally everyone nominated for the mission agreed.
Operation: Sacrifice Umbridge To The Skrewts (O.S.U.T.T.S.) was officially in motion.
Early the next day, the ten brave Gryffindors stood outside Umbridge's office, completely invisible to everyone except themselves, courtesy of charms from Colin, Alicia, Hermione and Angelina.
"Ready, everyone?" Hermione asked.
They all nodded and raised their wands.
"On the count of three. One, two, three… ALOHOMORA!"
The door to Umbridge's office was blasted off its hinges by the force of ten charms at once.
Umbridge, who was having her morning tea in the safety of her office, looked up startled.
"Stupefy!" Harry, Katie and Ginny cried.
Umbridge slumped down on her desk, dropping the teacup she held, splattering tea all over the floor.
"Okay people. We've got the sacrifice." Hermione snickered.
Angelina performed the concealment charm on Umbridge.
"Sacrifice concealed for transport." She reported.
Hermione grinned a deranged grin which scared them all.
The Seondo twins levitated Umbridge out the door of her office and made their way down to an exit.
Along the way they encountered Filtch, but Ginny made short work of him courtesy of a Bat Bogey Hex.
Near the doors, they spotted a pair of Skrewts, looking as if they were standing guard there.
Hermione moved to the front of their group and revealed herself.
The others watched anxiously; ready to cast their spells if something went wrong.
"Um, hello there, Blast-Ended Skrewts. We would like for you to let us Hogwarts students and staff live freely in the castle and on the grounds without fear of getting burnt, so if we offer you a sacrifice, will you, uh, er… Let us have some peace of mind?" Hermione tapped her fingers together nervously.
"Clickety-clik-ti-click-clickety-click-click?" They clicked their pincers.
(Where is the sacrifice of yours?)
"Um, we kinda have it concealed. Some friends of mine. They helped to er… Capture it…" Hermione said.
(Friends of yours? Where are they? Are they concealed too?)
"Yes, they're concealed too…"
(Can we see them?)
"They're asking to see you." Hermione turned to them and they revealed themselves.
"Since when do wizards speak Blast-Ended Skrewt?" Joanna whispered to her sister.
"It's Hermione Granger. Kinda figures she'd be the one to figure it out…"
"How right you are, Jillian. How right you are…"
(Come bushy-haired one and friends. We will take you to our Queen.)
Hermione turned to them. "Okay everyone. The Skrewts have agreed to take us to their leader. So, everyone… Let's go."
Near Hagrid's hut, where the now smouldering pen stood, the Queen of the Skrewts sat on top of some rubble, watching the approaching wand carriers with their sacrifice carried aloft and the two Guard Skrewts in front of them.
(Your Majesty, these wand carriers wish to present a sacrifice to you in exchange for giving back the castle.)
(Let them present it then.)
The two Guard Skrewts turned to Hermione and the others.
(Queen Newalla would like to see the sacrifice you offer before deciding.)
"Okay. You can lower Umbitch now." Hermione said to the witches levitating her up.
They looked at one another, shrugged and dropped the charm abruptly, landing the toad-like, so-called teacher in front of the Queen.
(Wait, this is the toad wand carrier that insulted Hagrid and called us ugly!) Newalla clacked angrily.
"This is oddly reminiscent of Aragog and his children…" Chills went down Harry's spine at the thought.
Just then, Umbridge began to wake up.
The witches and wizards all raised their wands, ready to stun her again, but Newalla stopped them.
(We will accept this sacrifice, but we prefer to have her… awake.)
Hermione turned to the others, smiling broadly. "They will accept the sacrifice!"
Everyone began cheering as they went back to the castle.
"Wha- what's going on here?" Umbridge's eyesight was blurry as she awoke.
"Clack, clack, clack, clack, clack…"
"What's that horrible clacking noise?" She wondered.
Then her focus came into full function as she saw several large pincers hovering above her face.
The Gryffindors cheered even more once they heard the loud screams coming from the area of Hagrid's hut.
"Cheers!" Hermione clinked her bottle of Butterbeer with Harry and Ron.
"Hey, Hermione! How did you manage to communicate with the Skrewts anyway?" harry asked, puzzled.
"Simple. I did some research and Accio-ed some of Hagrid's notes from his hut." Hermione answered casually as she munched on a Pumpkin Pasty and watched Parvati Patil turn into a canary courtesy of Canary Creams.
Ron and Harry glanced at one another.
"Bloody Hell! Remind me not to mess with her…" They said in unison.
Eventually, word spread throughout the school that the Skrewts had completely left the castle and slowly, but surely the students began to emerge from their dorms.
When they discovered that Umbridge was missing as well, that gave them all the reason to cheer more.
The Ministry and the teachers of Hogwarts conducted a search of the grounds (the latter half-heartedly, with the exception of Filtch), but were unsuccessful in finding her.
Questioning of the students revealed nothing as those responsible and those who knew of the plot took great care to hide that information.
It wasn't until Dumbledore had finally returned (they called him back after all this mess…) and strode into the forest looking for her that she was found in a comatose, half-cooked state, muttering incoherently.
She was admitted to a permanent ward on St Mungo's, where she would live for another twenty three miserable years, until she died from a heart attack after hearing the clacking of equipment that Healers were transporting to another ward.