Looking Beyond: Chapter Ninety-One: Exams and Perils

"Guess who?"

It was the last Hogsmeade weekend before exams were to start. Most students stayed back to cram in a bit more of studying, but Angelina had insinuated that there might be a lovely surprise waiting for Hope in Hogsmeade, so she had gone down with her, only to be dragged into an alley with hands clamped over her eyes and a familiar voice singing the question.

Hope grinned. "Oh, I don't know…maybe if you kissed me I'd know who you were…"

"Demanding little thing, aren't you?"

But Hope reached out blindly to jerk him to her, allowing him to bestow a fiery kiss upon her lips before she was allowed to open her eyes. She threw her arms around his neck, hugging him tightly.

"I missed you," she murmured into his ear.

"I missed you more."

She drew back giving him a look. "Very doubtful, Georgie."

"No, it's not!" George cried affronted as Hope kissed the corner of his mouth.

"Mmhm…so you're my surprise that Angelina's been talking about?"

George scratched his cheek looking particularly shameless. "Half of it."

"Half-? What're you talking about?"

"Let's go on a little walk," George suggested, taking her hand and placing it on his arm as they ducked out of the alleyway to head in the direction of the edge of town.

"You're up to something," Hope noted shrewdly.

"I'm always up to something!" He leaned down to whisper into her ear. "Hold on tight."

"Wh-" He twisted and Hope was suddenly pulled harshly in several different directions forcing her to tighten her grip on his arm further before the world stopped spinning around her and they were standing before a polished door.

Hope punched George in the arm.

"Ow!" he complained, rubbing at the spot. "What was that for?"

"A little warning next time," Hope sniffed, starting a little as he pressed something small and cold into her hand.

It was a key.

Her eyes widened and she looked up at him in surprise and another emotion that George couldn't quite identify.

"Want to have a look?" he asked her softly, gesturing to the door in front of them.

Hope swallowed thickly, looking at the key for a long moment before sliding it into the keyhole and twisting until the door swung open.

The flat was wide and spacious, though, now that she thought about it, that might have been because of magic. The kitchen wasn't cramped, there was soft sofa before the fire, a roomy bedroom...

"George," she whispered, taking his hand, her voice softer and quieter than usual, bursting with emotion that made his heart clench, "it's perfect."

His face brightened. It was so bright, Hope rather thought it was a bit like looking into the sun, but then, the sun really had nothing on George, did it?

Hope's good mood continued all the way back to the castle and up to the common room until she flopped down on the couch beside Hermione.

"If you were any happier, I swear, you'd be floating," Hermione told her.

Hope pushed her friend slightly with her arm.

"What's wrong with being a little happy?" Hope asked brightly.

"Because we've got exams in exactly one week to study for," Hermione answered swiftly. "And because Hagrid's hiding a giant in the forest."

Ron looked up from his practice Potions exam to stare at her with Hope. "What?"

"Wait, how do you even know that?" Hope demanded lowly, careful of fellow Gryffindors passing them by. "When did you see Hagrid?"

"Erm, he came up into the stands soon after the match started," Hermione admitted, her cheeks burning pink. "The only part I got to see was Davies' first goal."

Ron's crestfallen expression would have made even Professor McGonagall hand him a handkerchief. "You didn't see me make any of those saves?"

"I'm sorry," Hermione squeaked, looking a little cornered, "I wanted to stay, but Hagrid insisted. He'd decided to tell why he was always so injured, you know? He took me into the forest and he showed me—"

"He can't have," Ron said stunned, "he would've had to bring him all the way down from those mountains Dumbledore had him and Maxime staying in."

"But it would explain why he took so long getting back," Hope said thoughtfully, "and why Maxime split off from him, getting back to Beauxbatons before he got back."

"And Grawp's about sixteen feet tall, enjoys ripping up twenty-foot pine trees, and knows me," Hermione said with a bit of annoyance, "as Hermy."

Hope arched an eyebrow and Ron expertly hid his snigger behind a cough, but Hermione saw through it, if her venomous glare was anything to go by.

"And," she continued, clearing her throat uncomfortably, "Hagrid wants us to teach him English."

"He's gone completely mental," Ron said resolutely and Hope nodded in agreement. Teach a giant English? When they were already busy enough as it was? Where would you even start?

"I'm starting to think he has," Hermione agreed with a rather sour expression. "But, unfortunately, he made me promise."

"Well, you're just going to have to break your promise, that's all," Ron said with a scowl. "I mean, come on...we've got exams and I for one need to pass a few of my subjects if I want to be considered for Auror. And anyways...remember Norbert? Remember Aragog? Have we ever come off better for mixing with any of Hagrid's monster mates?"

"Probably never," Hope interjected. "Just pray that Hagrid doesn't get sacked until the end of school, eh?"

It was downright ridiculous to entertain the thought that he wouldn't be fired at this rate, considering Umbridge's increasing dislike for the half-giant whom she hadn't been much of a fan of in the first place. And Hope would rather not have to deal with a sixteen foot giant on top of everything else, so she slumped lower into the cushions and plastered her eyes to one of her books.

Hope was sure she was very nearly dead on the first day of their OWL exams right after their Theory exam for Charms. Neville poked her elbow where it was resting on the table beneath her head.

"Hope, exactly how much sleep did you get?" he wondered.

"Enough to not kill her, right, Hope?" Seamus laughed.

Hope gave him a thumbs-up without raising her head. "Why can't I just give up?" she bemoaned. "There's…toomuch…"

Hermione pushed a plate of food towards her and Hope lifted her eyes slightly at the heavenly smell. "Think about it this way," she said, trying to keep her voice upbeat, "you're halfway through the first day."

Hope stared a bit blankly.

"I don't think that really helped," Ron said, forcing a fork into Hope's hand.

Hermione glared and the few other fifth years sitting with them laughed as Hope reluctantly began to eat, waiting out her time until they were all sitting in the antechamber waiting to be called into the testing area for their practical Charms exam. Hope was so nervous that her hair was fluctuating from one colour to the next so much so that it was becoming quite distracting.

She jumped when her name was called along with Parvati, Padma, and Pansy Parkinson.

"You'll be fine," Ron told her, pushing her towards the door, "just remember everything you studied."

Hope could only gulp and enter into the brightly lit room, her knuckles white around her wand. She could've sworn it warmed under her hand, but that was probably her imagination.

"Professor Tofty is free, Potter," Professor Flitwick informed her kindly as Hope took a calming breath, heading towards a table in a far corner where a wizard sat, his wrinkled hands clutching a quill and parchment.

"Potter is it?" he asked in a voice that cracked on every word. "The famous Potter?"

Hope winced. "Er…I suppose."

"Well," Professor Tofty smiled a little, "your mother was just as nervous when she took this exam too, but there's no need to be." Hope blinked in surprise at the mention of her mother. "Now, if I could ask you to take this egg cup and make it do some cartwheels for me."

It wasn't very difficult work, Hope mused, as she did just that, however, she must have been a little enthusiastic, because the cup went over the edge with its cartwheels and shattered.


"No matter," Professor Tofty said, vanishing the pieces, placing a wine glass onto the table. "Now I want you to levitate this glass."

"Wingardium Leviosa!" Hope said with certainty, lifting the glass through the air to hover about the table by several feet unattached to anything before bringing it back down.

"Very good! Now for the Colour Change charm, please turn this rat orange."

Hope nodded and five minutes later she was walking out of the room feeling very drained, but also pleased that she had one less subject to study as she collapsed into her bed, staring blearily at her Transfiguration notes for the next day. But Hope found it to not be as hard as she had been imagining so fearfully in her mind, though that could be chalked up to the sheer amount of hours she'd spent studying for everything. Somehow, though, several other students had managed to have a meltdown or two over the exam in question.

Herbology was a little more difficult on Wednesday than Hope had considered, but, then again, plants weren't really her strong suit. That one made her a little nervous, because all the plants kind of blended together in front of her eyes…which could have also been caused by lack of sleep.

Defence Against the Dark Arts on Thursday, if Hope did say so herself. A number of her classmates gave her subtle thank-yous as they passed her on the way out of the Practical Exam (Theory hadn't been any trouble, she had noticed to her relief). Hope had easily demonstrated her knowledge of counter-jinxes, the Stunning Spell, the Full-Body Bind, Explosion Hex, and the Boggart-banishing spell.

"Oh, bravo! Very good indeed!" Professor Tofty cried ecstatically. "Well, I think that's all, Potter...unless..." He gave her a conspirator wink, leaning in slightly to speak in lower tones. "I heard, from my dear friend Tiberius Ogden, that you can produce a Patronus? For a bonus point...?"

Hope opened her mouth and froze. "Er, well, I'm not the only one that can do it," she admitted. "There are a couple of us, and if you're offering me credit, shouldn't you offer everyone else the opportunity too?"

His eyes glimmered and Hope could see that she had impressed him.

"Quite right," he agreed. "We will allow the rest of your year to do the same."

Hope smiled, thinking of Ron and Hermione, and Sirius and George and Remus, of George's kiss… "Expecto Patronum!"

The panther exploded from her wand tip to race in a rather majestic manner around the examiners and examinees before fading into nothing.

"Excellent!" Professor Tofty said in his raspy voice. "Very well, Potter, you may go!"

Hope flashed Umbridge a superior smirk on the way out. None of what she could do in there was proof of Umbridge's magical skill…if she had any to begin with, in the first place…

Hermione and Hope had to sit their next exam without Ron, seeing as they both took Ancient Runes while he had taken Divination which he wouldn't be taking until next week. So Ron got a break while Hope and Hermione were hard at work in a classroom, translating as many Runes as they could and choosing which ones would be best to use in certain scenarios. All in all, Hope had to say that that one was one of her favourite exams ever (she wouldn't mention it to Ron because he'd call her a nerd), but she could see the scale tipping towards Curse-breaker than Auror. But it was only much later on the Astronomy Tower while completing her exam that the scales truly tipped.

Stars and planets weren't difficult to discern tonight, due to the lack of clouds in the sky. Hope knew her stars considering just how much stargazing she did. Astronomy fell under the "Not-worried-about-passing-would-have-to-fail-terribly-to-not-pass" category; sadly there weren't a lot in that category.

Hope labelled Mars and the Pleiades correctly, including their positions in the night sky, almost completely finished with it when the creak of the castle doors opening jolted her from her remaining questions. Hope, being the overly suspicious person that she was, pointed her telescope opposite to the heavens, aiming it at the ground instead to the at least half-dozen shadows that melded into the darkness as they made towards Hagrid's door.

Hope's heart hammered in her chest. They couldn't be here for a good reason, to be creeping along in the night…led by someone in what looked to be pink.

And Hope doubted Umbridge was up to anything good, something that became startlingly obvious at the loud bang of Hagrid's door and the bright red light of Stunners being shot towards him. Hope gasped out-loud, and she certainly wasn't the only one.

"No!" Hermione said, completely stunned and horrified.

"My dear! This is an examination!"

Nobody seemed to care that they were in the middle of their exam, far more fascinated with the scene bellow. The Stunners weren't having a very visible effect on the half-Giant (possibly because he was half-giant).

"Be reasonable, Hagrid!" one of the men cried.

"Reasonable be damned!" Hope couldn't help but agree with Hagrid there. "Yeh won' take me like this, Dawlish!"

One of the Stunners hit Fang, who had thrown himself in its path in an attempt to protect his master, and the dog went limp instantly.

Hagrid made a loud, out of control sound, throwing the man who had downed his faithful pet back. He must have put a lot of power behind the hit, because the man didn't move.

"Look!" It was Parvati who had spoken, her finger directing their eyes to the front doors as another figure stepped out to join the fray, but which side was yet to be made evident.

"Now, really! Only sixteen minutes left, you know!" Professor Tofty could not hope to bring his examinees back to order with the events unfolding in front of them.

"How dare you!" a familiar voice raged. "How dare you!"

Hope moaned into her hand as Hermione whimpered, "It's McGonagall!"

"Leave him alone!" Professor McGonagall yelled, racing forward. "On what grounds are you attacking him? He has done nothing, nothing to warrant such–"

Hope released a cry of alarm as four Stunners struck her professor; Lavender, Hermione, and Parvati surpassed her completely, screaming out loud as Professor McGonagall was thrown back, crumpling in a heap.

Hermione didn't understand what Hope yelled next, only that it was in Latin, however it became clear it was an order of sorts when a suit of armour lumbered out into the darkness to scoop up the unconscious professor and rush back inside, no doubt making for the hospital wing.

"Galloping gargoyles!" Professor Tofty had finally abandoned all of his attempts to redirect their attentions back to the exam. "Not so much as a warning! Outrageous behaviour!"

"COWARDS!" Hagrid roared so loudly that it caused some of the windows to be illuminated by lights as some students or staff awoke. "RUDDY COWARDS! HAVE SOME O' THAT –AN' THAT—"

"Oh, my—"

Hope was filled with vindictive pleasure as Hagrid threw his massive fists in a wide circle to collide with his opponents; they dropped like marionettes that had their strings cut. He ducked to heave the unconscious bloodhound over his shoulder

"Get him, get him!"

Hagrid ran faster than Hope would have thought possible towards the front gates, Fang's form swaying from the movement, just missing one last Stunner by a few inches.

"She's a monster," Hope muttered, "a fucking monster…poor Professor McGonagall…"

Ron turned to look at Hope, but her face was shrouded in darkness. Her shoulders were shaking but from repressing tears or anger, Ron couldn't be sure.

"Er…five minutes to go, everybody…"

But who was going to care about the stupid exam now, after what they had just seen? And Hope…Hope just wanted to beat the ever-living shite out of that toad-faced woman.

"If you ever interfere with my business again, Miss Potter," Lee heard the next morning as he left the common room, freezing at the sound of their lovely headmistress, "I promise you will regret it."

"Hardly," Hope's voice echoed sharp and cold. "I'm holding out that you'll be long gone by next year and I'll never have to see your ugly mug again."

The sound of loud, angry feet told him it was Hope that was approaching. Once she came into view, she did a double-take.

"Lee," she sighed, "I didn't think anyone was awake."

Lee waggled his eyebrows. "Makes it easier to cause mischief."

Her lips curled upwards. "I'm not sure if you got that from Fred and George or you were normally this much of a troublemaker."

"Hard to tell these days," Lee agreed as she came closer. She looked like she needed to spend a few days fast asleep, if you asked Lee. "Those exams tiring you out?" he guessed.

Hope gave a slight shrug. "At least I've got my last one today, there's always that."

"Mm," Lee agreed, "until you take your NEWTs."

"Please don't make me think about that," Hope said, "I might become sick."

"Nah! You've got a strong stomach."

Hope arched an eyebrow, but she couldn't help smiling. "I remember why I called you, Fred, and George the Laughing Gas back in first year," she chuckled.

"Nicest title I've ever had," Lee informed her with a wide grin. "It's a pity you grew out of it." Giving people group names, he meant.

"I grew out of a lot of things," Hope said dryly, thinking of the beads she used string in her hair before glancing down at her watch. "I should go get some early breakfast so I can squeeze in some extra studying…see you around."

Lee barely had time to wave before she disappeared down the stairs.

"Hope Potter…always on the move."

This statement was rather true as Hope moved her legs back and forth under her desk as she scrawled out answers to question after question. She was itching to get out of the class, that much was true. As it was the last exam, they were told that once they'd completed their work and turned it in, they could leave, even if others were still testing.

Which ancient civilizations have the oldest recorded use of magic?

That one was easy. Ancient Greece and Egypt.

In your opinion, did wand legislation contribute to, or lead to better control of, goblin riots of the eighteenth century?

It led to better control of goblin riots, however the relationship between goblin and wand-carrier deteriorated rather quickly.

How was the Statute of Secrecy breached in 1749 and what measures were introduced to prevent a recurrence?

A clan of Vampires broke their treaty with the nation of Britain, attacking a small town and nearly exposing themselves to Muggles. This brought about Clause 73 which stated that should any magical creatures cause harm to Muggles, that Wizarding nation's governing body would be subject to discipline by the International Confederation of Wizards.

Describe the circumstances that led to the formation of the International Confederation of Wizards and explain why the warlocks of Liechtenstein refused to join.

The formation of the International Confederation of Wizards was created in the event that entire governing bodies were found at fault due to certain circumstances. The first Supreme Mugwump of the International Confederation of Wizards was Pierre Bonaccord, but his appointment was contested by the Wizarding community of Liechtenstein, because Bonaccord had wanted to stop troll-hunting and give the trolls rights, however, at the time Liechtenstein was having problems with a tribe of particularly vicious mountain trolls. The first meeting was in France and was limited to wizard-folk, as goblins had tried to attend but had been forced out.

The steady scratch of the quill against the parchment almost lulled her to sleep, but Hope had to focus, Hope needed at least an 'E' in this class to be considered for Curse-breaker. Think, think…Hope pinched herself several times to keep herself awake. Maybe she shouldn't have pulled so many hours of study without sleeping…that didn't sound like such a good idea in retrospect, but Hope had needed to force the information into her head somehow, so…what could you really do?

Goblins…Ministry of Magic…Secrecy…Clause… Hope lost count of how many times she wrote those words, but on the upside, she was nearly done, and that meant she could head upstairs and sleep for hours afterwards, and that was enough to keep her going, if nothing else.

And at long last she set her quill down and examined her exam with pride. She'd done it! No more OWLs to study for…she could sleep for days

She stood, looping her bag over her shoulder and handing over the parchments to the examiner before leaving the room in a state of euphoria. She was so happy to be done, in fact, that she hardly remembered the trip all the way up to the common room. The only thing she really remembered was hitting the mattress of her bed and falling asleep instantly.

The first thing she dreamed of was of two figures in the distance, a dark haired man and a red-haired woman. They were hard to see, Hope had remembered, she was too far away from them and then she had been jolted back to earth as she was revived…Hope wasn't sure if it was a good dream or a bad dream, but it was a memory.

Then everything around her twisted and she was back in that hallway made of smooth black stone, the Department of Mysteries. Suddenly she was running, running through the door, moving in a straight line through another door directly opposite hers…then to a third…she could see rows upon rows of fragile-looking ghostly white spheres that reminded her slightly of crystal balls.

Number Ninety-Seven…Hope ran left, moving in the aisle between two rows until she reached the end where she saw a dark figure huddled on the ground, cowering before her.

Hope first felt fear, but then excitement, something she could not explain as her lips twisted into an unfeeling smirk.

"Take it for me," she said, breathless with anticipation, "lift it down, now…I cannot touch it…but you can…"

Hope knew this was a lie, even as she said the words, words that were not her own. Anger flashed inside of her at the resilience of his prisoner. "Crucio!"

The man, for it was now revealed to be as such, let loose a scream of agony that Hope understood completely. He tried to stand despite the pain, but it proved too much as he collapsed on the tile, twitching as Hope lifted the curse.

"Lord Voldemort is waiting…" She said quietly as the man lifted his head and Hope was suddenly pierced by Sirius Black's fierce grey eyes, unyielding in the face of his end.

"You'll have to kill me," Sirius rasped with difficulty, his voice harsh from the pain.

"Undoubtedly I shall in the end," Hope agreed in Voldemort's voice. "But you will fetch it for me first, Black...you think you have felt pain thus far? Think again...we have hours ahead of us and nobody to hear you scream..."

Sirius screamed again and Hope opened her eyes, jolting awake in a cold sweat.