So, for the record, this is what my star ratings mean:
5 stars = FREAKING EPIC, gigantic story, everything works well, my mind is blown that a human being thought this up.
4 stars = love this book, it's just not as humongous in scope as a 5. But it's totally awesome and everyone should read it, it's a keeper.
3 stars = mixed feelings (this is where the "I think others might like it, it's just not for me" reviews are likely to go). Not that bad, but has some issues, or it's an okay story but nothing really stands out to me as being memorable. It was a pleasant enough read for a few days, but I'll probably just end up giving the book away rather than rereading it again.
2 stars = generally pretty terrible, but not 100% so. There was at least one thing in this book that made it not totally horrible. This book isn't really recommended to all and sundry, but you might get some value out of the one thing if you try.
1 star (rarely seen here): It's a wallbanger. Nothing is redeemable about this book, it's utter crap, and I probably only finished reading it so I could do an awesome bitchrant about it and I can't justify doing that to books I didn't finish.
I'm not at all sure what's going on at the start of this chapter. In-universe fanfic or journal entries or...something? Some kind of summary? Anyway, the only crucial bit in here is finding out which Chaos soldiers got divided and where. Dean went to Dragon, Seamus got traded for the "underutilized" Blaise in Sunshine, Lavender went to Sunshine. Tracey, no shock there, remains with Chaos. And nobody knows what Draco is plotting.
"So you can work your charms on General Potter?" said Lavender, as Hermione ignored both of them as hard as she could. "I've got to say, Traces, I think our Sunshine General has him pretty well sewn up by now - you'd have better luck convincing Hermione that the three of you should have one of those, you know, arrangements -"
HAHHAHAAHAH POLY THREESOMES AT HOGWARTS.
So it's time for tea in the Defense Professor's office (not Mary's Place), and Harry wants to talk about the giant hate-on all of Slytherin House has for Hermione. Why should I care, Quirrell asks. Harry says he's just going to ignore that, and then points out that Quirrell has been plotting to restore his House's reputation all year. Quirrell concurs that yeah, "the present outlook is not favorable for your little friend." It doesn't pay to piss off Most Ancient Houses Of Snobby Purebloods. Also, the Gryffindors aren't too happy with her heroism gambitting either. Oh yeah, and that whole Slytherin's ghost rumor will really piss them off.
Harry asks for help and Quirrell says he made Hermione an offer and she turned him down. He tells Harry not to worry about it and she's not in as much danger as he thinks.
"When you are older, you will learn that the first and foremost thing which any ordinary person does is nothing."
Well, MOST of the time, that's true. But you never know...This is reminding me of all of the whopping amounts of sexual harassment and other harassment going on these days. Sure, right now you assume all they're going to do is troll you online, but the day someone actually gets killed...and it'll probably happen too. Ugh doesn't even begin to cover it.
The Slytherin System sends Daphne a note from Millicent, indicating a hard battle. Millicent won't even look in Daphne's direction, either.
"Daphne told Hannah and Susan and everyone, that her informant had warned her that the next bully was going to target Hufflepuffs in particular, and that the bully planned to risk the teachers' wrath in order to really hurt either Hannah or Susan, like seriously, and the two of them needed to stay out of this one.
Hannah had agreed to stay out of it.
Susan had -"
Argh, cut off. Cut to....what?
Cut to Hermione yelling at Susan to ask what she's doing here when she said she wouldn't come. Susan is bizarrely rather smug and blank about why she's here after all. She admits this isn't like her, but "People don't always behave like themselves, you know." Daphne is freaking out that somehow the hard battle will be made even worse. Hermione tells Daphne to get a teacher, but Daphne says she can't because it gets worse every time you try to fight it. Hermione dispatches Padma instead.
Three older bullies show up: Reese Belka. lieutenant from the 7th-year-armies, Randolph Lee, dueller, and Robert Jugson III, son of a Death Eater. They're prepared with Shielding Charms and...have Hannah tied up and Quietused. Ruh-roh. Jugson pitches Hannah at them and Susan casts Wingardium Leviosa so she lands gently. Hannah yells at them to run, but now the corridor is blocked at both ends with a barrier spell.
Lee starts to do a cheerful evil monologue, which Jugson cuts off with spellcasting. Susan repels it with her Prismatic Sphere. The bad guys brag that they've got everyone, so letting them go (as per Hermione's pleading) ain't gonna happen. But Susan keeps on fighting back--and she ends up flying into a wall and her head --OMG DID SHE JUST BREAK HER NECK AND DIE?!?!!!!!
Never mind, Lee casts some spell on Susan's body and says it's probably just a broken collarbone. Daphne casts some spells and is gotten by a hex instead.
Hermione gets Innervated and wakes up to find Parvati the last girl standing and about to get her ass beat. Hermione casts Innervate on Tracey near by her, but nothing happens. Parvati falls. Just as the bad guys say they'll wake up Hermione and find out who's really behind them, but tie them up first, suddenly one of the guys ends up being zapped. Susan rises (thinking all of her compatriots are asleep, I guess) and fixes her neck. She's Polyjuiced! A bad guy casts a reversal spell and--nope, still looks like Susan! Who says "You don't mess with the 'Puffs" and REALLY starts fighting. Some of the ceiling gets melted. Eventually everyone is fully beaten and Susan is worn out. The other girls wake up and are impressed.
"Ah... could I convince you that you hallucinated all that?"
"Oh, hell," said Susan again. "Look I'll be back in a few minutes but I've really got to go now please don't say anything bye!"
And Susan ran out into the hallway, moving surprisingly fast, before anyone could say another word."
Oh, this IS fun.
Hannah is Innervated and is all what, we won? How? Why is the ceiling melted? Parvati explains it all:
"it turns out that Susan Bones is the Heir of Hufflepuff and she's opened up the long-lost entrance to Helga Hufflepuff's Chamber of Hard Work and Practice."
Tracey's theory is that Susan is a "double witch." Whatever THAT is. Rumor mill discussion suddenly abounds. But what's a double witch? Let Lavender explain for ya:
"You see," said Lavender, speaking very rapidly, "There've always been stories, about these children who are born as super magicians who can cast spells no one else can, and there's a whole secret school hidden inside Hogwarts with classes that only they can see and go to -"
"Those are just stories! " yelled Parvati. "That's not how real life works! I mean, sure, I read those books too -"
"Just a minute, please," said Hermione. Maybe her mind was feeling a little slow after all. "You mean even though you already get to go to a magical school and everything, you still want to go to a double magical school?"
Lavender looked at her, puzzled. "What?" said Lavender. "Who wouldn't want to have super extra magical powers? It would be like this whole amazing destiny and everything! It'd mean you were special! "
Even magical kids aren't immune to wanting to be DOUBLE MAGICAL kids. I love this.
The rumor mill is interrupted by a returning Padma and Flitwick wanting to know what's going on.
Susan asks Susan what went on. Turns out Battle Susan is really...TONKS! I love this!
"Sorry but I couldn't think of anything myself so you've got about three minutes to decide on an answer to that -"
The members of SPHEW agree to keep their mouths shut on what they saw, but the bullies didn't, and now everyone has detention.
"and also that Susan Bones had sacrificed her soul to dreadful forbidden powers which now inhabited the hulk of her body and that was why they'd all gotten detention."
At dinner, Harry tentatively says to Hermione that he thinks this is all starting to spin out of control. She agrees, pointing out that Flitwick actually set her ears on fire saying the same thing.
Hermione asks Harry if he ever wishes he was a Muggle. Of course not, even as a Muggle he would have probably tried to take over the world....
"I mean optimize of course, you know that's what I really mean, Hermione! My point is, it's not like my goals would change one way or another. But with magic it's going to be a lot easier to get things done than if I had to do stuff using only the Muggle capability set. If you think about it logically, that's why I'm going to Hogwarts instead of just ignoring all this and studying for a career in nanotechnology."
So yeah. Hermione is suddenly feeling weird about having wanted to be a witch. She asks Harry if he ever wanted to be a wizard:
"Of course," Harry said promptly. "I also wanted psychic powers and super-strength and adamantium-reinforced bones and my own flying castle and sometimes I felt sad that I might have to settle for just being a famous scientist and an astronaut."
I love you, Harry.
Hermione says that she thinks the magic-born don't really appreciate magic properly, and Harry agrees and says it gives them an advantage. Duh?!
Okay, I give this chapter four stars for Tonks and badassery. It was a thing of beauty. Also, the quotes from Harry. Where's my castle and psychic powers and jetpack and all that shit again?! Damn you, adulthood! You suck!
Infamous Quote Corner:
"Hey, Hermione, remember when we were young and naive and we still thought the world was a relatively understandable place?"
Hermione and Harry are going off to a study session together. She asks him why he didn't just tell somebody no, and his response cracks me up:
"I can't just go around saying 'no' every time someone asks me about something I haven't done. I mean, suppose someone asks me, 'Harry, did you pull the prank with the invisible paint?' and I say 'No' and then they say 'Harry, do you know who messed with the Gryffindor Seeker's broomstick?' and I say 'I refuse to answer that question.' It's sort of a giveaway."
"And that's why," Hermione said carefully, "you told everyone..." She concentrated, rembering the exact words. "That if hypothetically there was a conspiracy, you could not confirm or deny that the true master of the conspiracy was Salazar Slytherin's ghost, and in fact you wouldn't even be able to admit the conspiracy existed so people ought to stop asking you questions about it."
"Yep," said Harry Potter, smiling slightly. "That'll teach them to take hypothetical scenarios too seriously."
"And you told me not to answer anything -"
"They might not believe you, if you deny it," said Harry. "So it's better to say nothing, unless you want them to think you're a liar."
"But -" Hermione said helplessly. "But - but now people think I'm doing things for Salazar Slytherin! " The way the Gryffindors had been looking at her - the way the Slytherins had been looking at her -
"It goes along with being a hero," Harry said. "Have you seen what the Quibbler says about me? "
Oh, being a celebrity:
"For a brief second Hermione imagined her parents reading a newspaper article about her, and instead of the story being about her winning a nationwide spelling bee or any of the other ways she'd imagined getting into the papers, the headline said "HERMIONE GRANGER GETS DRACO MALFOY PREGNANT".
It was enough to make you think twice about the whole heroine business."
BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH. Yes, yes it does. Especially these days, it's very debatable whether or not it's worth it to become famous if you're going to impregnate a dude in The Quibbler.
Harry asks how the bullies quest is going, and it's not going, unless they get some help. Harry thinks it's not fair that some folks get a lot more help that others in being heroes, and he slaps on some Quietus charms on them before revealing his Invisibility Cloak. Well, you know what I mean about "revealing an Invisibility Cloak." Har. He loans it to her and tells her to keep it secret. Also, it's so rare that there's no school rule against them. Har again.
"Because there's nothing even the tiniest bit fair about my finding this gift-wrapped in a box next to my bed one morning, and you... not." Harry paused thoughtfully. "Unless you did get your own invisibility cloak, in which case never mind."
Suddenly, Hermione's figured out a few of Harry's tricks, like where to find bullies. Except now she's not sure if it's the world's best idea because people might get hurt. Harry says that's the other girls' choice to make, like it's hers.
"I decided not to do the obvious stupid thing that everyone does in books, try to keep you safe and protected and helpless, and have you get really angry at me, and push me away while you go off on your own and get into even more trouble, and then heroically pull through it successfully, after which I'd finally have my epiphany and realize that blah blah blah etcetera. I know how that part of my life story goes, so I'm just skipping over it. If I can predict what I'm going to think later, I might as well go ahead and think it now."
*applause applause applause for genre savvy and skipping a trope everyone hates!*
"Anyway, my point is, you shouldn't smother your friends to keep them safe, either. Just tell them up front it's predictably going to go horribly wrong, and if they still want to be heroines after that, fine."
I'm down with that, but Hermione isn't. She's like, blaming herself for their deaths already or something here.
"I don't see what could realistically happen to them that would be worse for them, in the long run, than not trying."
Hm, interesting. But she's still flipping out that they'll get hurt and chicken out on life.
"The important thing is believing about yourself that you're someone who can break your boundaries. Trying and getting hurt can't possibly be worse for you than being... stuck."
Once again, the author is totally on my wavelength about my shitty life and my personal issues with this sort of thing! Whee!
Hermione hands the cloak back and says she'll think about it, but also it's not right to spy on people. Harry's all, not even to rescue victims? Have you been bullied? She hasn't, but she won't take the cloak still. She does, however, recognize it from a book she read...
"I cannot confirm or deny that I possess magical artifacts of incredible power."
Hermione is still debating and debating in her head and generally flipping out about what Harry said. And wondering if he actually likey-likes her if he's willing to loan out ancient artifacts willy-nilly like that.
When she wakes up, she finds a note: "At half-past ten you will find a bully in the fourth passageway to the left of the hall leaving the Potions classroom - S."
Who the hell is S? Slytherin's ghost? Santa?
Hermione continues to flip out as she approaches the other members of SPHEW at breakfast.
"Hermione knew she was being faced with a Moral Dilemma, just like all those wizards and witches she'd read about in stories. Only in stories people always got a right choice and a wrong choice, not two wrong ones, which seemed a bit unfair. But she had the sense, somehow - maybe it came from the way Harry always talked about how the history books would see them - that she was faced with a Heroic Decision, and that her whole life might end up going one way or another, depending on what she chose right now, this morning.
Hermione sat down at the table without looking to either side, just gazing at the plate and silverware like they might have answers hidden inside, thinking as hard as she ever had, and a few seconds later she heard Padma's voice whispering almost in her ear, "Daphne says she knows where a bully's going to be at ten-thirty today."
Okay, so never mind the moral dilemma then!
So cut to everybody charging off to find the bully. And kinda failing at the code signals. And Susan thinks they're all doomed. To the tune of the Chaos Legion's marching song. They have, at least, shown up half an hour before the bully will though. Maybe they're only slightly doomed?
The girls have hidden themselves behind thin panels that they Transfigured into looking like a brick wall, with secret eye holes so they can spy on the bully. He looks like a seventh-year dueller. Here come the other kids! They watch as he picks on a fourth-year Gryffindor. And says some super obvious dialogue about how he's a bully and we'll see if anyone stops him from beating the kid up.
IT'S A TRAP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
And here goes Lavender, who's easily neutralized with "Accio stupid heroine." But she's not in her Hogwarts outfit? This is apparently suspicious. Anyway, the other girls start aiming, and most of them miss except for Hermione, who gets...the victim.
SO THAT'S GOING WELL.
Lots of charms are being yelled about and I am not going to be able to keep track of it all. Damn you, confusing battle scenes. Bodies are flying and then lying all over the ground. The bully is totally fine. Hannah survives and runs for it, and then he catches her too. Until Daphne "stabbed her Most Ancient Blade directly into his groin." That just made me happy. There's a flash that lights up the whole corridor and--
Cut to Hannah being left behind in Madam Pomfrey's while the other girls skulk out, healed up. Susan thinks they should stop doing this. Hermione says Hannah said they shouldn't stop, and if she's braver than us... Parvati thinks this is as bad as it get sand they can handle it.
"Susan couldn't think of anything to say to that. She didn't think that shrieking at the top of her lungs about blatant stupidity and DOOM would be persuasive. And she couldn't just leave the other girls, either. Wasn't it enough to be cursed with hard work, why did Hufflepuffs have to be loyal on top of everything else?"
Darn that Hufflepuff loyalty! Darn it to hell!
Oh, Lavender, what the heck were you wearing? A hero outfit that she Transfigured into looking like a regular outfit. REVERSE CLARK KENTING....I think? Anyway, it's a costume from a play. Everyone starts arguing over whether or not they all need hero outfits.
"Susan ignored the argument. She was trying to think up some sort of clever strategy for being less doomed."
Oh, Susan. Maybe you're the only sane person at Hogwarts?
When the remaining members of SPHEW enter the Great Hall, scattered applause breaks out. Mostly from Gryffindor, but none from Slytherin, which embarrasses Daphne. Neville is applauding, she notices. The professors don't look happy. Snape gives ONE lone clap and then goes back to eating.
As the girls go to their respective tables, Hermione is suddenly tripped and lands into Marcus Flint's meal. He demands an apology. And suddenly, folks from other Houses start standing up, while Dumbledore just watches (and holds McGonagall back). But it's Draco who apologizes TO HERMIONE, and cleans up Hermione with a spell, and offers her a hand up. "Just remember, being cunning and ambitious doesn't mean you have to be like that."
Inside, Draco is freaking out, but he's been trained to never show fear. He realized now was the time to start rescuing Slytherin's reputation, and he moved on it. The folks at his table ask why he did that, and he takes some time to respond.
"You know," Draco said, making his voice as cutting as he could - as his heart thumped even harder in his chest, as everyone around him stopped talking to listen - "there's probably some way to make Slytherin look even worse than attacking eight first-year girls from all four Houses who are working together to stop bullies, but I can't think of how. This way we get the benefit of what Greengrass is doing."
The puzzled faces stayed puzzled.
"What?" said the sixth-year boy, and "Wait, what benefit?" said a fifth-year girl sitting to his right.
"It makes Slytherin House look better," said Draco.
The Slytherins around him were giving him quizzical gazes like he'd just tried to explain algebra.
"Look better to who? " said the sixth-year boy.
"But you just helped a mudblood," said the fifth-year girl. "How's that supposed to look good?"
So he's having about as much fun as Hermione did trying to explain feminism, then.
"It's probably some kind of tremendously clever scheme Malfoy's got going," said a fifth-year boy. "You know, like in The Tragedy of Light, where everything that looks like a setback is part of the plot. And it ends with Granger's head on a stick and nobody suspecting that it was him."
"That makes sense," someone said from further down the table, and there was a lot of nodding."
NEVER MIND. Goyle is quietly freaking out in his own head.
Hermione loses her appetite and leaves early, and Daphne runs to her to warn her that Draco isn't her friend just because he acted nice, and generally goes on about how awful and Death Eater-y the Malfoys are. Maybe he's not like them, Hermione wonders? Nope, Daphne really super warns her that it must be all part of his evil pan.
"Draco sat eating his steak with roasted cauliflower florets and Ashwinder sauce (it wasn't made from real Ashwinder eggs, it just tasted like fire), trying not to laugh and trying not to cry.
He'd heard about plausible deniability, but hadn't realized how much it mattered until he found that Malfoys didn't have any.
"You want to know my plot?" said Draco. "Here's my plot. I'm not going to do anything and then the next time people think I'm plotting something, they won't be sure."
"Huh..." said the fifth-year boy. "I don't think I believe you, that doesn't sound cunning enough to be really it -"
"That's what he wants you to think," said the fifth-year girl."
So that's fun.
McGonagall is wondering if all of this is part of Dumbledore's evil plan, incidentally. And I gather someone asked Harry if he was snapping his fingers under the table again--which of course he won't answer.
So Daphne and Millicent are talking about her Seer powers (or um, whatever). Millicent claims she saw the girls winning. But he expected us, Daphne said. "Well, yeah, everyone knows you're hunting bullies." Daphne says if they're friends, Millicent should have warned her, and Millicent says that what she sees has to come to pass, and even worse things happen if you try to change it and then it happens anyway. (Okay, so she's genuinely a seer, then. No Time Turner? I'm a little confused/intrigued.)
"I mean, what happens if we just don't go?"
"I don't know! " said Millicent. "But it probably makes being eaten by Lethifolds look like a tea party!"
Daphne ponders how Genre Savvy she is when it comes to prophecies. That isn't how they work in plays...but this isn't a play. Millicent finally says she can tell Daphne if it'll be a hard or easy battle, but that's all she can do, and they can't just bail if she says hard.
Susan has gone to Professor Sprout, who is refusing to help her. But you helped Harry that one time-- Sprout says it was made clear to her that it was Snape's job to keep order in Slytherin. Susan says she has to do (something) because Hufflepuffs have to be loyal. Huh?
THIS IS AN EXHAUSTING CHAPTER TO RECAP, JUST SO YOU KNOW.
Hermione tells Harry about the note under her pillow. Was it from Santa Claus? Hermione won't ask and she doesn't want Harry to tell and let's pretend that never happened.
Susan approaches a seventh-year Hufflepuff for private help.
Cut to Snape, chewing out Jaime Astorga, seventh-year Slytherin for being taken by surprise and being incautious. Maybe Malfoy has a point that it looks terrible for Slytherins to be beaten by a bunch of little girls. If you hadn't been defeated by a Noble of Slytherin, he would have had points deducted from that. Presumably Jaime the bully hasn't had a good time after that.
Draco gets an owl from Dad asking what he's doing. Trying to stop harm being done to Slytherin's reputation, Draco says. No, what are you REALLY doing? Draco's next answer: preparing for the next war. There's no reply from Dad after that.
Oh, if these two could text. I can see various websites (The Hairpin, most likely) doing "Texts From Draco's Dad" or something.
That was a tiring chapter. Three and a half stars for fighting, ambiguity, and the possible saving of reputations? Anyway, I'm pooped out. Fighting bad guys: harder than you thought, 11 and 12-year-old magical girls of Britain. But I guess you gotta learn the hard way, right?
Also, I find it hard to worry about OMG PEOPLE MIGHT GET HURT when they all get magically healed at least within 24 hours most of the time. Just saying.
Infamous Quote Corner:
"Auntie sometimes told stories which started out like this, people doing something they knew was stupid, and the stories usually ended with someone being doomed all over the floor and all over the walls and getting on Auntie's shoes."
"Well," Daphne whispered, keeping her voice as low as she could, "at least now I don't feel like the only sane person in Hogwarts any more."
"Because now you've got the rest of us as friends?" whispered Lavender Brown, who was tiptoeing along at her left side.
"I don't think that's what she means," General Granger murmured from Lavender's own left."
So that's a promising start to the chapter? Everyone's creeping through the corridors looking for bullies to Vanquish in between classes.
"Lavender had argued that if one first-year girl could take down three older bullies, then eight first-year girls ought to be able to outfight twenty-four older bullies because of Multiplication.
Judging by her frantic spluttering and waving of hands, General Granger hadn't found this convincing."
*snicker* I'm not going to recap all of the previous arguing the girls did. Anyway, they're bored. Or Lavender is, anyway.
"Padma made a show of taking a pocketwatch out of her robes and looking at it. "Sixteen minutes and thirty seconds," she said. "A new record for the longest attention span in Gryffindor."
"I don't think this is going to work either," said Susan. "And I'm a Hufflepuff."
"Y'know," Lavender said thoughtfully, "I wonder if maybe what really makes someone a hero, is that when they try something like this, something interesting actually happens."
"I bet you're right," said Tracey. "I bet if we had Harry Potter with us, we'd run into three bullies and a hidden room full of treasure in the first five minutes. I bet that all General Chaos has to do is go to the bathroom and he, like, finds Slytherin's Chamber of Secrets or something -"
Daphne couldn't quite let that one go past. "You think Lord Slytherin would've put the entrance to the Chamber of Secrets in a bathroom -"
Except uh...yeah. But also, Harry is a General Chaos magnet, so.... But anyway, how do you find bullies at the right time? Good question. How the hell did Harry do it on the first day of school? Padma deduces it was Slytherin's ghost, which boggles Daphne's mind. I guess we should ask Harry. Or tie him up and bring him along, suggests Tracey way too enthusiastically. Seriously, that Tracey is creeeeeeepy weirdness.
The conversation moves on to boys they like--Hannah apparently joined up because of one. Lavender brags that she likes five guys, Padma and Parvati like the same ones and flip a coin to pick, and Tracey brags about who she's destined to marry, who cares what the world says. They all stare at Hermione after that one. We find out that Hannah likes Neville, but according to Daphne he'll marry someone else. She won't say who. Hermione thinks that being a heroine to catch a boy isn't very feminist, and then the other girls argue about the nature of femininity.
"The ensuing discussion would not be remembered by Hermione Granger as one of her most successful forays into the realms of political education. She tried to explain, and then after the resulting argument tried to explain again, while the other seven girls looked at her more and more skeptically. Afterward Daphne declared in the imperious tones of the future Lady Greengrass that if this feminism business meant girls weren't allowed to pursue boys in whichever way they pleased, then feminism could stay in the Muggle lands where it belonged. Lavender suggested that maybe witchism could say that witches got to do anything they wanted, which sounded like more fun than feminism. And finally Padma closed off further discussion by observing wearily that she didn't see much point to going on arguing, since S.P.H.E.W. wasn't about anything to do with feminism in the first place, it was just about more girls becoming heroes.
Hermione had given up at that point."
....so, yeah. Hermione has a headache and witches need a Gloria Steinem.
Padma asks Harry how he talks to Slytherin's ghost so he can find bullies before Hermione can bring it up. After putting on a Quietus charm, he tells Padma she made an interesting guess and has she mentioned it to anyone else--everyone in SPHEW, Hermione says.
"She said it in front of Lavender and Tracey."
"Um," said Padma. "Should I not've done that?"
YUP. Cut to Tracey going to visit Draco to blab to him.
"a Slytherin had to do what was necessary to achieve her Ambitions. She'd been collecting Ambitions ever since Professor Quirrell told her off, and so far she'd decided that she wanted to own her own Nimbus 2000 broomstick, become super famous, marry Harry Potter, eat Chocolate Frogs for breakfast every day, and defeat at least three Dark Lords just to show Professor Quirrell who was ordinary."
You go, Tracey! Rack up those ambitions!!!!!! Okay, normally I find her freaky-deaky, but I enjoyed this bit. She adds having her own servants to the list after Mr. Goyle pulls his mobster routine.
Anyway, Tracey blabs the whole Slytherin's ghost idea, and it occurs to her that Draco isn't buying it. He says that he does believe that Padma and Daphne said what they said, at any rate. Tracey tries to go into some sort of mobster mode about talking about what to get (or not, in this case) for the information, which is surprising to Draco. He tells her it's not that easy to befriend a Malfoy, but she'll go on being friendly anyway. And add Draco to the list of future husbands.
After she leaves: "I can't believe I believed every word of that," said Draco."
Daphne is noticing that people find her more impressive as a beautiful heroine born to a Most Ancient House instead of just a pretty noble girl.
"Fighting bullies might not be the best way to become a heroine. But Father had once told her that the trouble with passing up opportunities was that it was habit-forming. If you told yourself you were waiting for a better opportunity next time, why, next time you'd probably tell yourself the same thing. Father had said that most people spent their whole lives waiting for an opportunity that was good enough, and then they died. Father had said that while seizing opportunities would mean that all sorts of things went wrong, it wasn't nearly as bad as being a hopeless lump. Father had said that after she got into the habit of seizing opportunities, then it was time to start being picky about them."
You know, that's a good point.
"On the other hand, Mother had warned her not to take all of Father's advice, and said that Daphne wasn't allowed to ask about Father's sixth year in Hogwarts until she was at least thirty years old.
But in the end Father had gotten Mother to marry him and successfully plotted his way into a Most Ancient House, so there was that."
So Daphne passes on to Millicent an even better thing she figured out than the ghost bit: how Millicent gets her information. "Don't worry," said Daphne with her sweetest smile, "I won't tell anyone else you're a seer. I mean, we're friends, right?"
Um, okay. It's an interesting guess....as Harry might say.
Cut to a seventh-year Slytherin girl, Rianne, who just had Snape demand to see her. He casts a shit ton of charms and then tells her she'll never talk of this.
"The task I have for you is very simple, Miss Felthorne," said Professor Snape's toneless voice, "and your extremely generous pay of fifty Galleons is merely to compensate you for being Memory-Charmed afterward."
She drew an involuntary breath. Her family might be rich but they had other daughters and kept her on a tight leash and it was certainly a lot of money for her.
Then her ears caught up with the words Memory-Charmed and for a moment she felt outraged, there was no point if she couldn't keep the memories, what sort of girl did Professor Snape think she was?
"You surely know," said Severus Snape, "of Miss Hermione Granger, the Sunshine General?"
"What? " said Rianne Felthorne in sudden horror and disgust. "She's in her first year! Ew! "
Um....what? I don't even get where that just went, but someone has a dirty mind.
Anyway, weird chapter with freaky girl behavior, so three stars. These folks are strange indeed.
I wasn't very thrilled at having to read this one because of the idea behind it: the bad guy is a serial killer who likes to imitate other serial killers. Ugh, like that makes you special? Guess what, a shit ton of guys like killing bitches, or killing lots of bitches. You ain't a special snowflake, dude. So when I lost my copy of the book for over a week at my volunteer job when I wasn't all that far through it, I was kinda like "oh well, no big loss." But the book turned up, and I did finish it, and surprise! It was good. (Also, I enjoyed Eve's dissing of the guy being a copycat with no imagination.)
Mostly what makes this one is that there are so many good candidates for the job--the killer likes to send Eve notes on distinctively fancy English notepaper, so she finds a lot of suspects when she tracks down who owns that paper. Promising candidates who have that notepaper AND have issues with authoritative women include a musician who makes a big deal of keeping things calm, the shitty cheating boyfriend of an awesome actress who used to date Roarke, a snotty snobby English diplomat, and a guy who just loves to write books about serial killers. So many choices and options to choose from! However will Eve narrow it down? But eventually yes, she does narrow it down, and gets an ID from a surviving victim, and then it's up to her to entrap the guy as he tries to imitate someone else. And having so many good suspects kept it interesting.
In other news, there's big things going down in the world of Eve's aide, Peabody. She's sitting for the detective test and officially moving in with her boyfriend--the latter leading to an interesting discussion of being freaked out and being married. (Why did Eve get married? "He wanted to.") Though at this point Eve has some interesting insights on married people during the case, which are presumably based on her own experiences of healthy partnership. Oh, one random note: McNab, don't refer to Peabody as your "sex queen" publicly during a sting operation. Seriously, dude?! TACKY.
The roster of SPHEW so far includes Padma, Parvati, Hannah, Tracey, Susan, Lavender, and Daphne, McGonagall recounts to Dumbledore. Also, Hermione's recounting of Dumbledore's "you should be happy to be just a sidekick" has made older girls interested and they're asking McG if it's true.
"It placed me in something of a dilemma, Albus," said Professor McGonagall. Her face stayed quite neutral, she made sure of that. "I now know that you did not truly mean to discourage the girl. Quite the opposite, in fact. But you and Severus have often told me that to keep a secret I must give no sign that differs from the reaction of someone truly ignorant. Thus I had no choice but to confirm that Miss Granger's account was accurate, and feign the appropriate degree of worry, with a slight overtone of offense. After all, had I not known you were deliberately manipulating Miss Granger, I might have been rather put out."
Har. Also, two professors--Sinistra and Vector (who's that?) now have SPHEW buttons. Which are enchanted with the girls' voices yelling "We won't settle for second best, it's time to give a witch a quest! "
I LOVE THIS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Fifty buttons have been sold so far. And the girls are going to protest outside Dumbledore's office. Bwahahahah. McGonagall totally gave permission and even told them what time to do it at. HAH. I love you when you're angry, McG. She leaves after giving a "honeyed smile." Sounds like me when I'm at work. She doesn't respond when Dumbledore yells her name, and leaves.
Cut to the protest--lots of people wanted to come, but there's only so much room in that hall. The aforementioned professors with buttons, some prefects.... McGonagall, Sprout, and Flitwick still have no buttons and are there to observe, as is Harry. The girls form a picket line with signs. Hermione's says "NOBODY'S SIDEKICK." Quirrell also watches, idly tossing his button in his hand. Hermione is quietly reconsidering this idea in her head, but it's too late now and time to go through with it.
"Hermione wondered how much heroism had gone on for reasons like that. Most books didn't say "And then they refused to give up, no matter how sensible it would have been, because that would've been too embarrassing"; but a great deal of history made a lot more sense that way."
We find out that after she'd decided to become a hero, Hermione did the "obvious thing" and read books on the topic. "Then she'd returned those books back to their shelves, because it'd been patently obvious that none of the authors had been actual heroes themselves." Har again. So instead she memorizes the thirty inches Godric Gryffindor wrote of his autobiography/life's advice.
Meanwhile, the protesting ladies are discussing how Muggle women couldn't vote. After Professor Sinistra informs them of Muggle history, everyone's horrified.
"You mean that's how men would treat us if we didn't have wands to defend ourselves?"
OH HOLY DAMN THAT JUST SCARED ME. So that's why women are equals (ish?) in magical Britain: brawn meets magical brawn. Yeah, that figures. The only way to stop dudes is to be just as strong and able to abuse as they are, apparently?
Quirrell starts musing to himself in an amused tone about how witches could mistreat Muggle men--oh, wait, like Voldemort's mom.
"I'm sorry," Professor Quirrell said mildly, his eyes still looking down on the button in his hand, "are we all still pretending it doesn't happen? My apologies, then."
Heh. Sinistra points out that she doesn't get prejudice for being a woman since she got her Hogwarts letter--the prejudice goes to her being Muggleborn instead. Hermione, didn't you say it was just with heroes that you were having a problem? Um, yes. According to her reading, it's pretty equal on the genders for Ministers of Magic, and pretty similar for the Supreme Mugwumps. But as to the evil folks... most of them are men. Meanwhile, Quirrell notes that heroes and dark wizards are "similar career paths followed by similar people."
"Oh, now I see!" said Tracey Davis, speaking up so suddenly that Hermione gave a small startle. "You're joining our protest because you're worried that not enough girls are becoming Dark Witches!" Then Tracey giggled, which Hermione couldn't have managed at this point if you paid her a million pounds sterling."
Oh god, that Tracy.
Quirrell says he doesn't care, but snipes that Tracy is ambitious without having ambition. ME TOO, actually. Which is a shame. Tracy is all "that's not true!" and "what dose that mean?" Quirrell says while she's interested in advancement and will take the opportunities she has given, she has no great goal she wants to achieve and won't make her opportunities. (Again, sounds like me. Ugh, but true.) Eh, maybe she'll like, make Minister of Magic ("or some other high position of unimportance"), but that'll be it. Hey, Hermione, do you have an ambition?
(Cut to me thinking of the movie Clueless. "Towards the mall." Which is highly inappropriate here. Sorry. I'm having some nice quiet time for a change to think of jokes.)
Hermione doesn't know how to answer this, and Quirrell snarks that she can do it in a homework essay. Hermione says she disagrees with everything he said, and Quirrell still wants to know why she's doing this.
"Hermione knew the correct answer wouldn't impress Professor Quirrell, but it was the correct answer, so she said it. "I don't think you need ambition to be a hero," Hermione said. Her voice wavered but it didn't crack. "I think you just have to do what's right. And they're not my followers, we're friends."
Professor Quirrell leaned back against the wall again. The half-smile had faded from his face. "Most folk tell themselves they are doing right, Miss Granger. They do not thereby rise above the ordinary."
Hermione took a couple of deep breaths, trying to be brave. "It's not about being not ordinary," she said as stoutly as she could. "But I think if someone just tries to do what's right, over and over again, and they're not too lazy to do all the work it takes, and they think about what they're doing, and they're brave enough to do it even when they're scared -" Hermione paused for an instant, her eyes darting to Tracey and Daphne, "- and they cleverly plan how to do it - and they don't just do what other people do - then I think someone like that would already get into enough trouble."
Quirrell concedes that she might be right, and he throws her his button as his donation to her cause. Whatever that means. He leaves.
"I do too have an ambition!" said Tracey, who seemed to be almost on the verge of tears. "I'm - I'm - I'll figure out what it is by tomorrow, but I have one, I'm sure!"
"If you really can't think of anything," Daphne said, giving Tracey a comforting pat on the shoulder, "just go with the oldie but goodie and try to take over the world."
"Hey!" said Susan sharply. "You're supposed to be heroes now! That means you have to be good! "
"No, it's all right," said Lavender, "I'm pretty sure General Chaos wants to take over the world and he's sort of a good guy."
"My goodness," said Penelope Clearwater. "I think that's the most overtly evil Defense Professor we've ever had."
Professor McGonagall coughed warningly, and the Head Boy said, "You weren't around for Professor Barney," which made several people twitch.
"Professor Quirrell just talks like that," said Harry Potter, though he sounded less certain than before. "I mean, think about it, he doesn't do anything like what Professor Snape does -"
"Mr. Potter," squeaked Professor Flitwick, voice polite and face stern, "why did you ask me to stay silent?"
"Professor Quirrell was testing Hermione to see if he wanted to be her mysterious old wizard," Harry said. "Which totally would not have worked out in any way, shape, or form, but she had to answer for herself."
Well, that was weird.
Then Hermione blinked again, as she realized that it was Professor Quirrell who was Harry Potter's mysterious old wizard, and not Dumbledore at all, and that really wasn't a good sign -"
True dat. Anyway, Dumbledore arrives, all benevolent and twinkly. He says he didn't mean to imply she couldn't be a hero, or witches couldn't in general, just that she was a bit young. Hermione's checked the books: there's been 11 heroes to graduate from Hogwarts, and let's have some geek references that make me happy here!
"I mean people like Lupe Cazaril and so on, and ten of those were boys. Cimorene Linderwall was the only witch."
Bwah! Lupe Cazaril (a dude, btw) and Cimorene! If you haven't read those books/series, then read them, it's an order from me. Love those folks. Though I kinda wish there was an Ista reference in there too.
Dumbledore's not into tallying numbers, and he notes that Alice Longbottom and Lily Potter weren't included in her list. But how many heroes were here before Dumbledore ruled the school? He counts three, all that were men. Hermione says she thinks society, Headmasters before him, etc. might be discouraging girls.
"Miss Granger, it might be possible to discourage witches from becoming Charms Mistresses, or Quidditch players, or even Aurors. But not heroes. If someone is meant to be a hero then a hero they will be. They will walk through fire and swim through ice. Dementors will not stop them, nor the deaths of friends, and not discouragement either."
Okay, so that's impressive. Hermione suggests that witches be taught heroing, and Dumbledore says most people are heroes in their dreams, if not IRL.
"It is a hard life, sometimes lonely, often short. I have told none to refuse that calling, but neither would I wish to increase their number."
Hermione hesitated; there was something in the lined face that stopped her, like a hint to all the emotion that wasn't being displayed, years and years of it...
"Maybe if there were more heroes, their lives wouldn't be so lonely, or so short."
She couldn't bring herself to say that, though, not to him.
"But the point is moot," said the old wizard. He smiled, a bit ruefully she thought. "Miss Granger, you cannot teach heroism like you would teach Charms. You cannot assign twelve inches on how to carry on when all hope seems lost. You cannot rehearse students on when to stand up and tell the Headmaster he has done wrong. Heroes are born, not taught. And for whatever reason, more of them are born boys than girls." The Headmaster shrugged, as if to say that he was helpless to do anything about that."
Well, that's awkward and kinda sad. Hermione still points out he wasn't very encouraging, and Dumbledore calls on Harry to give his impression of their first meeting. Was I encouraging to you?
"Um," Harry's voice said from further back, sounding extremely reluctant. "Um... well, actually in my case the Headmaster set fire to a chicken."
BWHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Harry tries to explain the situation and it gets even worse (remember the rock?), and Susan blurts out that's crazy, and then Dumbledore STARES at her.
"Dumbledore put a finger to his lips and twiddled them, making a bweeble-bweeble-bweeble sound."
Yeah, your guess is as good as mine on that one.
Dumbledore leaves with the ending line, "Still, rest assured that I am inscrutable at everyone, not just witches."
"There was a long silence.
"He really set a chicken on fire?" said Hannah."
The protest continues, but the heart has gone out of it. After they quit protesting, the SPHEW ladies debate whether or not they were being unfair to Dumbledore. Heroing can't be learned, he says, and he doesn't even think it's a good idea. That's kind of a downer. But Daphne fires everyone up again, and Tracy's super mad and plans to SHOW THEM ALL! just like Chaos Legion. She stomps off like she's in a movie. Parvati still thinks of what the Headmaster thinks of them all coming off as silly girls protesting, and Lavender thinks they should do something heroic. Er, heroinic. However that's spelled. Parvati suggests going through a forbidden corridor and Hermione is all "no, I don't want you doing anything dangerous!"
Cue a metaphorical record scratch and dead silence. And yeah, you have to do dangerous things when you're a heroine. Duh! Besides, nothing really bad happens in Hogwarts--except to Defense Professors.
"Why, that's brilliant, Hermione!" said Daphne in a tone of great amazement. "The way you set it up means we can get away with anything! And I didn't even notice your cunning plan until now!"
"UM -" said Hermione, Hannah, and Susan.
"Right!" said Parvati. "So now it's time for us to become real heroines. We'll come for the darkness -"
"And make it face us -" said Lavender.
"And teach it to be afraid," Tracey Davis said grimly."
Oookay then. I'm giving this three stars for general weirdness and fumbling in the dark and Dumbledore being Dumbledore.
Infamous Quote Corner:
"Hermione was starting to worry about what exactly the impressionable youths of the Chaos Legion were learning from Harry Potter."
So Hermione thinks it's Fawkes and goes running for it, but doesn't find him. What she eventually finds are three bullies hanging another kid in the air.
"The Sunshine General didn't even think about it, people who stopped to think didn't spring very good ambushes."
Hermione casts Somnium on two of the three bullies, but the third casts a Shielding Charm on himself first and then goes for Stupefy. Hermione ducks it, and NOW since she's been thinking of a bunch of other spells she could have cast...She keeps dodging spells (except for Jellyfy and eventually manages to get him to slip on the floor and THEN go to sleep.
The victim recognizes her as General Sunshine. "If the Hufflepuff boy said anything about her being Harry Potter's love interest, she decided, he was going to die." Bwahahahah. Anyway, the kid is impressed, but Hermione still has to ask him to Unjellyfy her legs from the battle. They shake hands and the kid (Mike of Hufflepuff, 4th year) says thanks.
"Hermione wasn't prepared for the rush of euphoria that hit her then, saving someone like that literally felt better than anything she'd ever felt in her whole life.
She turned to look at the bullies.
They were very big and they looked, she thought, around fifteen years old, and she was suddenly realizing just how large a difference had sprung up between Hogwarts students who'd signed up for all of Professor Quirrell's extra-curricular activities, and students who'd had years of being taught by the worst Professors ever to go Professing. Being able to hit things that you aimed at, for example; or being able to think well enough in the middle of a fight to realize that you ought to Innervate your fallen allies. And other things Professor Quirrell had said, like that in the real world almost any fight would be settled by a surprise attack, suddenly made a lot more sense to her.
Still trying to catch her breath, she looked back at Mike.
"Would you (gasp) believe," said Hermione Granger, "that five minutes ago I was (gasp) having trouble figuring out how to become a (gasp) hero?"
Had she really thought she needed permission from someone, or that heroes sat around waiting for someone else to give them quests? It was very simple actually, you just went where the evil was, that was all it ever took to be a hero."
Hermione thinks of (a) how those bullies could hurt her, (b) Harry threw himself into the midst of 5 Slytherin bullies on the first day of school, (c) you grow up by being put in grownup situations, (d) "you are twelve."
"And then Hermione Granger strolled away from the heap of unconscious bullies, making sure to put a smile on her face as she walked.
She knew that she was probably going to get hurt sooner or later. But if you were too scared of getting hurt to do what was right, then you couldn't be a hero, it was as simple as that; and if you'd put the Sorting Hat on her head at that moment it wouldn't have waited even one second before calling out 'GRYFFINDOR!'
At dinner, Hermione asks Harry a question: how do you think people fail to become themselves? He thinks we already are ourselves, but if he tries to run with the sense of the question, he thinks we don't become ourselves because we absorb all of this crazy stuff from our environment and regurgitate it. GOOD POINT, TOTALLY TRUE. So what makes someone a hero? Harry says he thinks people can do things when the world channels them into it/expects them to do it/an authority is watching your back for mistakes. But if problems are already being solved, then there's no need for heroes, and that's why they're rare--because they have to make everything up as they go along and most people aren't comfortable with that. Whyever do you ask?
"Oh, I just stunned three older Slytherin bullies and rescued a Hufflepuff," said Hermione. "I'm going to be a hero."
Harry chokes on his dinner, and Hermione tells the tale, minus the phoenix bit. He is shocked into silence. Hermione apologizes to him for earlier, and Harry asks if she's sure if this is who she is and not who HE is.
"I'm quite certain," said Hermione. "Why, my name practically spells out 'heroine' except for the extra 'm', I never noticed that until today."
SUBTLE HINT, J.K. ROWLING.
"Being a hero isn't all fun and games," said Harry. "Not real heroing, the sort grownups have to do, it isn't like this, it isn't going to be this easy."
"I know," said Hermione.
"It's hard and it's painful and you've got to make decisions where there isn't any good answer -"
"Yes, Harry, I read those books too."
"No," said Harry, "you don't understand, even if the books warn you there's no way you can understand until -"
"That doesn't stop you," said Hermione. "It doesn't stop you even a little. I bet you never even considered not being a hero because of that. So why d'you think it'll stop me?"
There was a pause.
A sudden huge smile lit Harry's face, a smile that was as bright and as boyish as the frown had been grim and adult, and everything was all right again between them.
"This is going to go horribly mind-bogglingly wrong somehow," said Harry, still smiling hugely. "You know that, right?"
"Oh, I know," said Hermione. She ate another bite of toast. "That reminds me, Dumbledore refused to be my mysterious old wizard, is there someplace I can write to get another one?"
Cut to McGonagall and Dumbledore discussing Hermione's unshakeable determinism.
"Hermione Granger has decided she's going to be a hero and she's not taking no for an answer. I doubt you could have pushed her into this any harder if you had tried to -"
It took all of five full seconds for Minerva's brain to process the realization.
"ALBUS!" she shrieked.
"My dear," said the old wizard, "after you have dealt with your thirtieth hero or so, you will realize that they react quite predictably to certain things; such as being told that they are too young, or that they are not destined to be heroes, or that being a hero is unpleasant; and if you truly wish to be sure you should tell them all three. Although," with a brief sigh, "it does not do to be too blatant, or your Deputy Headmistress might catch you."
"Albus," Minerva said, her voice even tighter, "if she is hurt, I swear this time I'll -"
"She would have come to that same place in due time," Albus said, the distant sad look still in his eyes. "If someone is meant to become a hero then they will not listen to our warnings, Minerva, no matter how hard we try. And given that, it is better for Harry if Miss Granger does not fall too far behind him." Albus produced, as though from nowhere, a tin which flipped open to reveal small yellow lumps, she'd never been able to figure out where he kept it and she'd never been able to detect the magic involved. "Lemon drop?"
"She is a twelve-year-old girl, Albus! "
Oh, Dumbledore, you crafty bastard.
After the aftermath.... Daphne is angsting that nobody has figured out that she likey-likes Neville, and they are instead of making fun of her for calling herself Greengrass of Sunshine during the duel.
"Currently she was being referred to as the Sparkly Unicorn Princess of the Noble and Most Ancient House of Sparklypoo."
I love this. Meanwhile, someone hit her with a Sparkling Jinx, which she didn't know existed (I feel like a Twilight joke should go in here somewhere....), and Daphne hasn't been able to get any of her so-called friends to take it off.
"and then she'd threatened the caster with grievous political mayhem wreaked by her father and nonetheless Daphne Greengrass was still sitting in the Slytherin common room with her head in her hands, sparkling brightly and wondering how she'd ended up as the only sane person in Hogwarts."
Everyone continues to make fun of Daphne, until Hermione comes to visit and Millicent brags about Hermione beating up bullies.
"Well," said Hermione Granger with a strange smile on her face, "I've decided it's not fair if mysterious old wizards give some people a chance to be heroes and not others, and also I've read history books and there aren't nearly enough girl heroes in them. So I thought I'd just drop by and see if you wanted to be a hero and why are you glowing like that?"
There was another silence.
"This," said Daphne, "was probably not the best time to ask me that question -"
"I'll take it! " shouted Tracey Davis, leaping off her sofa.
And thus was born the Society for the Promotion of Heroic Equality for Witches."
This chapter gets five stars for heroic gumption and Dumbledore trickery. I love this. I love this, I love this, I love this. (Also, best rewriting of the horrible SPEW plotline, in which nobody could quite argue that Hermione was wrong about it, but goddamn, house elves are still creepy unpleasant little buggers.) YOU GO BE A HEROINE, HERMIONE! YOU AND ALL THE OTHER GIRLS! Y'ALL GO KICK ASS NOW, YOU HEAR!?!?!
"Hermione wasn't feeling very nice right now, or Good either, there was a hot ball of anger burning inside her and she wondered if this was something like Harry's darkness (though it probably wasn't even close) and she shouldn't have felt that way over some silly little game but - Her whole army. Two soldiers had beaten her whole army. That was what she'd been told after she woke up. It was a little too much."
Yeah. All three generals are in conference with Quirrell. Malfoy may know why, he says.
"General Potter against the two of us isn't a fair fight anymore," Draco Malfoy said in a quiet voice."
Yup. Quirrell basically rips Hermione a new one for her whopping failure and inability to break mental patterns. And she keeps on doing it. Since Chaos is so utterly better than the two of you.... Harry will have to lose 8 soldiers to be divided among the other two armies. Harry is shocked, Draco is resigned.
"General Potter is stronger than both of you together," Professor Quirrell said with calm precision. "Your contest is over, he has won, and it is time to rebalance the three armies to present him with a renewed challenge."
So that was fun. Quirrell also bitches Harry out a bit for playing weak for fear of what his friends might think.
"She left the Defense Professor's office with a larger army, and less dignity, and feeling a lot like a sad little bug that had just been squished, and trying very very hard not to cry."
Harry denies trying to let others win--I buy it. Draco is suspicious. Hermione's trying not to cry and about to fail.
"So if she ever got close to winning against Harry when it really mattered, he could just go into his dark side and crush her, was that it?
...of course it was. She couldn't even look Harry in the eyes when he was being scary, how had she ever thought she could beat him for real?"
"He didn't understand, and he would never understand, Harry Potter would never understand, because no matter what contest he lost he would still be the Boy-Who-Lived, if you were Harry Potter and Hermione Granger was beating you then it meant everyone was expecting you to rise to the challenge, if you were Hermione Granger and Harry Potter was beating you that meant you were just no one."
The following argument between Harry and Hermione is not fun. She ends up running away from him. Cut to Hermione going to see McGonagall. You said if I was ever worried or uncomfortable about anything to tell you....
Cut to Hermione going to see Dumbledore. Oh, this can't go well. But she'll recap for you what went down in the last scene.
"Even if she lost to Harry Potter she was never, ever going to lose to Draco Malfoy, that was just totally absolutely unacceptable, and Professor Quirrell had praised General Malfoy for not ignoring his thousand alternatives; and so after Hermione had cried herself out she'd thought of fourteen other spells she should've tried against Harry and Neville, and then she'd started wondering if she might be making the same sort of mistake about other things; and that was how she'd ended up knocking on Professor McGonagall's door. Not asking for help, right now Hermione didn't have any plans she could ask for help with, just telling Professor McGonagall everything, because when she'd thought of it that had seemed like one of the thousand alternatives that Professor Quirrell had been talking about.
And she'd told Professor McGonagall about how Harry Potter had changed since the day the phoenix had been on his shoulder, and about how people more and more seemed to see her as just something of Harry's, and how it seemed like Harry was pulling farther and farther away from everyone else in their school year and went around with a sad air sometimes like he was losing something, and she didn't know what to do anymore.
And Professor McGonagall had told her that they needed to talk to the Headmaster."
I'm not sure that'll help. After Hermione tells the same story, Dumbledore is all "well, that's unfortunate, but that's a hero's burden and it's what they have to do. If there's anything you can do to make his path better, you can do it better than me because I'm not his friend. Which Hermione might want to quit doing. She doesn't think it's fair that she has to be his friend because there's nobody else, and Dumbledore can't figure out why she'd want to quit.
"If you get too near Harry - you get swallowed up, and no one sees you any more, you're just something of his, everyone thinks the whole world revolves around him and..." She didn't have the words."
And Dumbledore says yes, THE WORLD DOES REVOLVE AROUND HIM. Literally, and all you might get is to be remembered as his companion. Ever. Period. Hermione says it's not about the glory, it's about the possession, and he's all "what, you think you want to be a hero? Speaking as a hero, I'd rather have been the sidekick so I didn't have to make the hard decisions. You're LUCKY." McGonagall is clearly regretting this talk to the Headmaster idea. As well she should.
"I don't want to be a hero," said Hermione Granger, "I don't want to be a hero's companion, I just want to be me."
(The thought came to her a few seconds later that maybe she did in fact want to be a hero, but she decided not to change what she'd said.)"
Oh, sweetie. Oh, sweetie.
Dumbledore categorizes people by how they would fail to be. Hufflepuffs would say people fail to be who they are meant to be by being too lazy. Ravenclaws would say it's because of ignorance and lack of thought. Slytherin himself would say we become who we are meant to be by following our desires, so maybe failing to become yourself comes from refusing to do what is necessary to achieve their ambitions.
OH, THIS IS HITTING WAY TOO CLOSE TO HOME FOR ME RIGHT NOW, YOU HAVE NO IDEA.
*feeling like shit*
Hermione, what would a Gryffindor say on this subject? She says its that people don't become what they should be because they're afraid, and Dumbledore says most people are circumscribed by crippling fear (like oh, me), but it's not what the original Gryffidor would have said. Dumbledore says that Gryffindor would say that people become who they are meant to be by doing what is right. What seems like the right choice to you, Hermione? She doesn't think it's right to have to be the wind beneath his wings, and he tells her outright that things could go REALLY BAD for Harry and if she only knew, she would never bail. WHAT QUEST? Well, he grew up after being in a grownup situation. I can't tell you why, but that's why he needs his friends. Who's he going to have to fight? Dumbledore won't say.
"Is there any way I can keep up with Harry?" said Hermione. "I mean, I'm not saying it's what I'll do, but - if he needs friends then can we be equal friends? Can I be a hero too?"
"Ah," said the old wizard, and smiled. "Only you can decide that, Miss Granger."
"But you're not going to help me like you're helping Harry."
Dumbledore doesn't think he's been very helpful, and for once he's all "stay a kid," McGonagall-style. Harry's younger than I am, Hermione says. But Harry's special...and presumably, you're not. McGonagall steers Hermione out, and as they leave, Dumbledore asks what path she's chosen. She'll...do what's right.
After they're out, McGonagall apologizes. Hermione says if she wants to be a hero, can McGonagall help? Nope. Hermione asks if she can be alone right now--sure. She ponders what other professors might help and is coming up with nobody (except Quirrell, but she doesn't think she wants that kind of help)--
"She had almost gotten to the Ravenclaw tower when she saw the flash of gold."
Anyway, I found this to be a really affecting chapter. It tugs the heartstrings. Who the hell wants to be told they're just the sidekick, especially when Hermione is the smartest person around in the original world and probably at least tying with Harry in this one? In all other stories, she'd be the most awesome one. Is it fair? Nope, it's not.
Something I've always thought is that if Joanne Rowling had written "Hermione Granger and the Philosopher's Stone," the series would probably not have been a hit and we'd have probably never heard of any of this. Most things aren't hits when they're about girls, as we all know, and we tend to think it's a total fluke when say, Elsa or Katniss become the hottest thing ever. Of course, that's now and back when HP started, maybe that wasn't as much of the case. I'm guessing the author of this fanfic might perhaps agree, given where this storyline is going.
And yeah, it's infuriating! Maybe Dumbledore's right about the life of the sidekick being easier (though really, I dunno, just because you're not making the decisions doesn't mean you can't get killed), but Hermione's smart enough to handle it, even if she's not the best in Battle Studies. Why can't she be a hero? Why can't she be awesome? Why can't she be equal? Come onnnnnnnnnnnnn.
You know what, I'm giving this four and a half stars (not quite epic but close) because this is a gutkicker chapter for Hermione, and for all girls who ever read this and think the same things. Women are second class (at best) pretty much everywhere, and we're angry, and we don't want to have to take it any more, dammit.
It's March 1, and time for battles again in the high reaches of Hogwarts. Each general has a compass keyed to the other armies' largest active contingent. "Without those compasses they might have searched for days and never found each other, which was a territorial hazard of fighting in the upper levels of Hogwarts." Anyway, Draco wishes Hermione was on his side, but she wanted to go it alone.
"The Noble and Most Ancient House of Malfoy had maintained their influence over Britain for centuries by understanding that you couldn't always be the most powerful. Sometimes another Lord was just stronger, and you had to settle for merely being his foremost lieutenant. You could build up quite a position of wealth and power over a dozen generations of being second in command. You just had to be careful, each time, not to let your House be dragged down with the fall of the Lord you served. That was the Malfoy tradition which centuries of experience had honed...
And so Father had thoroughly explained to Draco that if he ran into someone who was obviously stronger than him, Draco was not to resent this and not to deny it and not to throw a tantrum that could sabotage his potential position, but Draco was to make sure that his place in the next generation's power structure wasn't any lower than second.
Granger, apparently, had never gotten this lecture from her own parents, and was still in denial about the obvious fact that Harry Potter was becoming stronger than her.
So Draco had secretly met with Captain Goldstein and Captain Bones and Captain Macmillan and they'd agreed to all do their best to make sure that Dragon and Sunshine didn't engage each other before they engaged the larger threat of Chaos.
It wasn't really violating the agreement against traitors, you weren't soliciting traitors if you honestly meant to help the other army."
Ooookay then. Harry and Neville are casually strolling and talking about the weightlifting. No, that doesn't count as Transfiguring a Muggle artifact.
Hermione's tactic is to mix in with the enemy soldiers as fast as possible, while avoiding hitting each other. They've practiced this for four hours. I dunno on this method, but I don't study battles so what do I know. Meanwhile, everyone in Sunshine is still freaking about Harry and Neville.
"Potter thinks we're allied so he's attacking Malfoy now, before Dragon can link up with us," said Blaise Zabini from the common ranks of soldiers. "Or Potter just thinks he can beat both armies in a row, if he attacks them separately." The Slytherin boy gave a condescending sigh. "Are you going to promote me back to officer now? You lot are hopeless without me, you know."
They all ignored the talking noises coming from Zabini's mouth."
And then two hooded figures emerge! Stupefying! Somniuming! Shots are fired! We're the Grey Knights of Chaos!
"We'll be your opponents for this battle," said Harry's voice, "while Chaos's other army slaughters the Dragons."
"And by the way," said Neville's voice, "we're invincible."
Oh, of COURSE you are.
Meanwhile, Daphne is starting to be attracted to Neville. Just so you know. Spells are flying. Daphne is casting!
"I hight Daphne, of the Noble and Most Ancient House of Greengrass! " she cried. "Greengrass of Sunshine! " The dueling forms had gone completely out of her mind, she'd seen enough plays to remember death challenges and blood challenges but she couldn't remember at all what was appropriate for this, so she just pointed the incandescent sword toward the object of her crush and yelled, "Let's see what you got, Nevvy! "
Daphne manages to hit Harry's stunbolt back at him, which he avoids. Neville and Daphne "start whacking at each other," slowly.
"It wasn't very impressive by comparison, if you were a Muggleborn and you'd watched certain movies.
But you still had to give them extra credit for using lightsabers at all."
*laughs* I'm not sure where these Most Noble House kids got the idea for lightsabers, though...?
They're using the Charm of the Most Ancient Blade, which is only legal for Noble and Most Ancient Houses to use. Harry and Hermione argue a bit about his invincibility and whether or not he can take down all of Sunshine by himself.
"There was a slight pause, as nearby a boy and a girl breathing in audible gasps slowly whacked at each other with lightsabers."
Hermione is shielded by members of her army ash Harry threatens to use Somnium on her.
"You know," said Hermione Granger, "I understand that it's not really your fault, but I'm getting tired of hearing people talk about the Boy-Who-Lived like you're - like you're some kind of god or something."
"Same here, I must say," said Harry Potter. "It's sad how people keep underestimating me."
Her wand kept rehearsing the diamond within the circle, over and over. Harry would be recharging his own strength, she knew, even as she practiced as much as she could before her attack. "I'm starting to think you need taking down a peg, General Chaos."
"You could be right," Harry said equably. His feet began to shuffle through what she recognized as a duelist's dance. "Unfortunately there's nothing left that can defeat me now except another Harry Potter."
"Let me be specific, Mr. Potter. I'm taking you down a peg."
"You and what other army?"
"You think you're pretty cool, don't you," said Hermione.
"Why, yes," said Harry. "Yes, I do. Some might call that arrogant, but am I supposed to be the last person in Hogwarts to notice how awesome I am?"
Wow, what did happen to Harry to get all braggypants? Oh, right, he's a god. Never mind. Braggypants on.
So Hermione tries her next trick: "You pretend you're Superman. Well here's Super Hermione!" She flies through the air, screams "Stupefy!" and hits the wall. Harry dodges the spell. So much for that. Draco's not doing so well throwing Somnium shade around either. Theodore's acting like he's not even being hit, somehow. Finally, enough spells get thrown about and Theo hits the ground, but still manages to dodge...I get confused reading this, but Padma finally casts a rainbow shield around the remains of the Dragon Army. Draco finally figures out that people are wearing metal shirts. That...stops spells? Huh? Metal stops spells now? Someone breaks the Prismatic Wall, everyone is screaming, and Harry puts Hermione to sleep. The end.
Um, I'm giving it 2.5 stars for "what the hell, I'm confused." Anyway, I guess the major lesson of this is Hermione is sucking at battle.
Harry and Hermione are at lunch, debating how Fawkes should prove that someone is a good person, but according to "Light-Side Slytherin" (and what the hell is that?!), maybe not? Well, just because Dumbledore has a phoenix doesn't mean that the opposition will let up on him. So they invent something that disses Fawkes/makes him not important.
"Every force for Good that exists in this universe, there's someone else who benefits from people discounting it, or fencing it into a narrow box where it can't get to them."
After Harry finishes eating, Hermione looks at the eavesdropping Anthony and Padma nearby. They think Harry is sounding even more complicated than usual. It's worrying to everyone. He seems a lot older now. The kids debate their battles a bit--specifically about teaming with Dragon to beat up Chaos--but maybe not? Hermione doesn't think they need to do that now that Muggle artifacts are ruled out of battles.
Hah. I have a bit of foreboding that this will not go well for Hermione, somehow.
Harry visits McGonagall, who has good news to tell him. #1: do you remember Mr. Hagrid? I sure don't in this book, he's pretty much not the hell in it. Harry barely remembers meeting him himself. Anyway, Hagrid has been proven innocent of the crime (murder) that he lost his wand for. This was five decades ago, COINCIDENTALLY the same time the last time someone heard the Sorting Hat's secret message. Dumbledore located the additional enchantment on the Sorting Hat and showed it to a Wizengamot panel, and Hagrid's sentence has been revoked! He can even get a new wand! McGonagall asks if they can tell Hagrid Harry helped? It'd make him so happy....
"She could see it, though, on Harry's face, the moment when he decided that Rubeus wouldn't be any use to him."
And that's one of the differences between original recipe and Harry Potter-Evans-Verres, all right. No fluffy fun people like Ron and Hagrid in this story, for the most part. Though in all honesty I can't say I've really noticed missing them much. Hm.
"Harry shook his head. "Bad enough that someone might deduce there was a Parselmouth in this year's crop of students," Harry said. "I think it'd be more prudent to just keep it all as secret as possible."
She remembered James and Lily, who'd never hesitated to return the friendship the huge, bluff man had offered them, for all that James was the scion of a wealthy House or Lily a budding Charms Mistress, and Rubeus a mere half-giant whose wand had been snapped...
"Because you don't expect him to prove useful, Mr. Potter?"
There was silence. She hadn't intended to say that out loud.
Sadness crossed Harry's face. "Probably," Harry said quietly. "But I don't think he and I would get along, do you?"
Well, yeah....that's hard to argue. It's making McGonagall choke.
"Speaking of making use of people," Harry said. "It seems I'm going to be thrown into a war with a Dark Lord sometime soon. So while I'm in your office, I'd like to ask that my sleep cycle be extended to thirty hours per day. Neville Longbottom wants to start practicing dueling, there's an older Hufflepuff who offered to teach him, and they invited me to join. Plus there's other things I want to learn too - and if you or the Headmaster think I should study anything in particular, in order to become a powerful wizard when I grow up, let me know. Please direct Madam Pomfrey to administer the appropriate potion, or whatever it is that she needs to do -"
"Mr. Potter! "
Harry's eyes gazed directly into her own. "Yes, Minerva? I know it wasn't your idea, but I'd like to survive the use the Headmaster's making of me. Please don't be an obstacle to that."
Ouch. Once again, McGonagall is all "kids shouldn't have to do this!" Well, kids shouldn't have to be child soldiers in Africa, or child prostitutes, but shit happens, lady. I love McGonagall (even the alt-McG is cool), but after awhile I just want to be like lady, it's not helping to protest the inevitable here. Wah wah kids should be kids. This is never happening with HPEV. Which sounds like an STD. Let's move on.
"I'm not going to pity myself, Professor McGonagall, not when there are people out there in real trouble and I'm not one of them."
She swallowed, hard, and said, "Mr. Potter, at thirty hours per day, you'll - get older, you'll age faster -" Like Albus.
"And in my fifth year I'll be around the same physiological age as Hermione," said Harry. "Doesn't seem that terrible." There was a wry smile now on Harry's face. "Honestly, I'd probably want this even if there weren't a Dark Lord. Wizards live for a while, and either wizards or Muggles will probably push that out even further over the next century. There's no reason not to pack as many hours into a day as I can. I've got things I plan to do, and 'twere well they were done quickly."
I can't argue this point and neither can McGonagall. If Dumbledore approves it, she will too.
"Then please remind the Headmaster that Godric Gryffindor, in his last words, said that if it had been the right thing for him to do, then he wouldn't tell anyone else to choose wrongly, not even the youngest student in Hogwarts."
And she knew with a hollow feeling that any chance of Albus stopping this, stopping any of this, had just Vanished into nothingness."
Oh, btw, what's the other good news? Quirrell is awake! Cut to the infirmary. Quirrell looks a little worse for wear. He busts out about six secret-hiding incantations rather than the usual thirty--that's all he's up to right now, but still, watch your language. Yes, he knows about no more lunches. It sounds like Harry was hoping Quirrell would pull some strings to get him released, but...
Time for snake talk. Harry informs Quirrell that Dumbledore thinks the Dark Lord did the escape. (Harry doesn't mention the prophecy, though.) This amuses Quirrell.
"I have decided that I will, indeed, sseek power; and confinement iss not helpful for that. Musst convince sschoolmasster that Dark Lord iss not yet awakened, that esscape was work of ssome other power -"
Again the rapid flickering of the snake's tongue; the snakish laughter was stronger, dryer, this time. "Amateur foolisshnesss."
"Pardon? " hissed Harry.
"You ssee misstake, think of undoing, ssetting time back to sstart. Yet not even with hourglasss can time be undone. Musst move forward insstead. You think of convincing otherss they are misstaken. Far eassier to convince them they are right. Sso conssider, boy: what new happensstance would make schoolmasster decide you were ssafe once more, ssimultaneoussly advance your other agendass?"
Harry stared at the snake, puzzled. His mind tried to comprehend and unravel the riddle -
"Iss it not obviouss? " hissed the snake. Again the tongue flickered sardonic laughter. "To free yoursself, to gain power in Britain, you musst again be sseen to defeat the Dark Lord."
I don't know how a tongue flicks sardonic laughter. This is not good writing there. But other than that....OH GOOD ONE! So, set up an impersonator of the DL, then? Sure, Bellatrix will help. they set up a fake public kidnapping, a duel, Fake DL cats a killing curse that you block--Harry is all, who's going to think the Dark Lord is dumb enough to try that on me again, and Quirrell is all "you and I are the only ones who'd notice that." O RLY? Anyway, this play should have an open ending to make it look like the DL could return, and only Harry can save everyone. Someone watches a lot of theater here, I think. Harry says he'll think about it.
He shows his "Santa Claus" gift to Quirrell (we're told afterwards, but I'm keeping it present tense for...some reason), but doesn't mention Santa or what the portkey would do. Quirrell examines it and can only tell that it will send him somewhere in London. It doesn't say it'd take him to Salem...pay attention to that kind of subtlety.
"He was starting to wonder if all the other wizarding schools were also like this, or if it was only Hogwarts that had a problem."
Not sure what to say to this. Three stars.
Infamous Quote Corner:
"Madam Pomfrey had told Harry that he was absolutely forbidden to pester her patient.
Harry had said, "I understand", which technically did not say anything about obedience."
Should Harry wait around on making this decision or not? Is he hedging? I...don't feel like recapping all the hedging. Anyway, Harry decides no on this idea. In snake talk, he breaks the news to Quirrell. It's too risky. Quirrell is annoyed at this, saying he learned the wrong lesson from previous failures and Quirrell's plans don't fail except if Harry like, bombed them. Smug bragger there, ain't ya? No perfect plan survives contact with the enemy!
"Correct lessson iss to follow ssteps laid down for you by older and wisser Sslytherin, tame your wild impulssess."
"Lessson I learned is not to try plotss that would make girl-child friend think I am evil or boy-child friend think I am sstupid," Harry snapped back. He'd been planning a more temporizing response than that, but somehow the words had just slipped out."
Oops, that made Quirrell mad. No, Harry didn't tell them, but he knows what they'd say. Why do you care, Quirrell says, they're only kids.
"Might have done better than me," Harry hissed. "Boy-child friend would have assked after ssecret motivess before asssenting to resscue woman -"
Well, good point. Harry says he'll resign himself to six years of prison with books, friends, and strange but tasty food. Quirrell thinks he'll get fed up long before seventh year, and shall plan accordingly.
Cut to Hannah Abbott, dragging Hermione away to tell her that Neville and Harry are taking dueling lessons ("not the sort with rules, I hope," says Quirrell) from Cedric Diggory, Super Hufflepuff. She's not so much freaked about duels going down in battle class so much as she's freaked that Neville is doing this to go after Bellatrix-- "They're going to go through us like a Bludger through a stack of pancakes!" Hermione isn't terribly worried.
"I don't think a few weeks of practice is going to make anyone an invincible fighter. Plus we already know how to handle invincible fighters. We'll concentrate fire on them and they'll go down just like Draco."
"Sometimes it was hard being the only sensible person in your whole school year. "Haven't you ever heard the saying, the only thing we have to fear is fear itself?"
"What? " said Hannah. "That's crazy, what about Lethifolds lurking in the darkness, and being put under the Imperius Curse, and horrible Transfiguration accidents and -"
"I mean," said Hermione, exasperation leaking out into her now-raised voice, she'd been hearing this sort of thing all week now, "how about if we wait until after the Chaos Legion actually crushes us to get so scared of them and did you just mutter 'Gryffindors' under your voice? "
A few moments later, Hermione was walking back to her place at the table with a sweet smile plastered onto her young face, it wasn't the terrible cold glare of Harry's dark side but it was the scariest face she knew how to make.
Harry Potter was going down."
Cut to the boys dueling with metal weights all over them.
"Where do you get these ideas, Mr. Potter?"
"A strange old shop... in Oxford... and I'm never... shopping there... again." Thud.
SEE, I TOLD YOU THIS SAGA WASN'T ACTUALLY OVER YET.
Aftermath, Hermione Granger: Harry and Fawkes come to visit Hermione. Harry looks wrung out.
"In theory she wasn't talking to Harry Potter yet, his week wasn't up until tomorrow, but whatever was going on was clearly a whole lot more important than that -
"Fawkes," Harry said, just as she was opening her mouth, "that girl over there is Hermione Granger, she's not talking to me right now because I'm an idiot, but if you want to be on a good person's shoulder she's better than me."
Awww. Fawkes launches and flies in front of Hermione's face. She doesn't speak bird, and is "feeling like she was facing a question on a test she'd forgotten to study for, the one most important question and she'd gone her whole life without studying for it, she couldn't find anything to say."
"I'm -" she said. "I'm only twelve, I haven't done anything yet -"
The phoenix just glided gently around, rotating around one wingtip like the being of light and air that it was, and soared back to Harry Potter's shoulder, where it settled down quite firmly.
"You silly boy," said Padma across from her, looking like she was deciding whether to laugh or grimace, "phoenixes aren't for smart girls who do their homework, they're for idiots who charge straight at five older Slytherin bullies. There's a reason why the Gryffindor colors are red and gold, you know."
There was a lot of friendly laughter in the Ravenclaw common room.
Hermione wasn't one of the laughing ones.
Neither was Harry."
Harry tells Padma to tell Hermione he's sorry, he forgot phoenixes are animals who don't get time and planning and age and people who will do good things later instead of right now. Then he leaves. Hermione frantically claims that she was going to run in front of the Dementor to try to save Harry. That was stupid and courageous, right?
Fawkes's response is to fly around her a few times, then go back to Harry. Harry mutters "told you so" and goes to bed. Hermione touches her face where his wing hit her.
"She'd answered the question of the phoenix, she supposed, but it felt to her like she'd just barely squeaked by on the test, like she'd gotten a 62 and she could've gotten 104 if she'd tried harder."
Ouch. For a school nerd, OUCH.
Aftermath, Fawkes:Harry expected to have nightmares. Fawkes saves him from that. D'awwwwwwww.
Aftermath, Draco Malfoy: Draco (remember him? I've like, forgotten him in all this prison break drama) gets a secret message from his dad and picks it up, then goes in to breakfast with his minions. An exhausted Snape stomps over to Draco to pass on the news about Bellatrix, which Draco hasn't heard yet. (Probably because he didn't like, OPEN that envelope.) Draco boggles and kinda starts to freak out. Vincent is all "why'd we do that, boss?" and Draco is all "we didn't!" She's tortured everyone, even herself when the Dark Lord told her to!
This happy little gripe scene is interrupted by the Carrow family, who receive Draco's Number Three sneer. Because he CLASSIFIES HIS SNEERS.
"Draco said in their general direction, certainly not deigning to address them in particular, "There's Death Eaters and then there's Death Eaters," and then turned back to his food."
Keep it classy, Draco. The Carrows huff off, and then Millicent runs up with the latest gossip. Not about Bellatrix, but about Harry wandering around with a phoenix that took him to Azkaban and blew up half the fortress.
"What? " said Draco. "Oh, there is just no way that -"
He'd said that a number of times about Harry Potter and had started to notice a trend.
Millicent ran off to tell someone else.
"You don't really think -" said Gregory.
"I honestly don't know anymore," said Draco."
Harry enters the hall, looking all thoughtful. Draco rushes towards Harry, Harry glances at him and then walks right past him out of the hall. A minute and plausible deniability later, the boys meet and Draco passes on his envelope from his father. It's a message for Harry. Oh. He seems quite shocked at the contents, then asks if Draco was asked to report on Harry's reaction. Yup. What will you tell him? That you were surprised. Good, let's go with that.
Harry shows Draco the letter's contents: "I know it was you." WHAT?! Draco, what is up with your dad?
Draco asks if Harry did. Harry denies it very well. Draco asks about the rumor mill about the phoenix taking him to Azkaban-- AND THAT'S IT! CUT AWAY!
Aftermath: Neville Longbottom: Harry finally attempts to eat a meal, and then hears someone screaming. Harry rushes over to the Hufflepuff table, where Neville is eating, a bit shakily.
"Hello, General," Neville said, his voice wavering only slightly. "Did you fight a duel with Bellatrix Black last night?"
"No," Harry said. His own voice was also wavery, for some reason.
"Didn't think so," said Neville. There was a scraping sound as his knife cut the sausage again. "I'm going to hunt her down and kill her, can I count on you to help?"
"There were startled gasps from the mass of Hufflepuffs who had gathered around Neville.
"If she comes after you," Harry said hoarsely, if it was all a terrible mistake, if it was all a lie, "I'll defend you even with my life," won't let you get hurt for what I did, no matter what, "but I won't help you go after her, Neville, friends don't help friends commit suicide."
Neville didn't mean like, right now, he meant like, after graduation. Harry tries to say that even after graduation that might not be the world's best idea. Neville quietly walks off in response, then heads to the Gryffindor table looking for volunteers for the killing squad. The Weasleys are totes on board with that.
"Ron Weasley said loudly, "Get in line, you lot, I got an owl from Mum this morning, she says to tell everyone she's called dibs" and someone said "Molly Weasley against Bellatrix Black? Who does she even think she's kidding -"
LOL NOT MY DAUGHTER YOU BITCH!
Harry gets a Slytherin System delivery, which we have explained to us again just in case we forgot from the last chapter. It's from "LL" wanting a meeting. Hm, wait, who's that again....oh, wait.... Harry thinks it's Luna Lovegood, for the record. Oops. Didn't get that one right, Harry. Also, she's not even IN Hogwarts yet.
Aftermath: Lesath Lestrange.D'oh! Lesath looks a bit worse for wear and he's been crying. He drops to his knees and bows to Harry, swearing his life and death to his. This is a little hardcore even for this Harry. The poor kid is thanking him and trying to abase himself enough. Harry lies and says he had nothing to do with it, finding that hard going. I'm not sure if Lesath buys the denial or just figures he's supposed to do so publicly, and calls Harry his Lord anyway. Before leaving, he asks if Harry sent her to someone who would take care of her, and did she ask about him. Harry doesn't answer that.
"And some unbelievably tactless part of him thought, Yay, we completed a quest and got a minion -"
Aftermath, Amelia Bones: Amelia is in with the healer and a certain burn victim that might recover, or not, nobody knows yet.
"Some good and innocent person, capable of casting the Patronus Charm, had been tricked into rescuing Bellatrix Black.
Some innocent had fought Bahry One-Hand, carefully subduing an experienced Auror without significantly injuring him.
Some innocent had Transfigured the fuel for the Muggle artifact on which the two of them had been to ride out of Azkaban, making it from frozen water for the benefit of her Aurors.
And then their usefulness to Bellatrix Black had ended.
You would have expected anyone capable of subduing Bahry One-Hand to have foreseen that part. But then you wouldn't have expected anyone who could cast the Patronus Charm to try rescuing Bellatrix Black in the first place."
Poor Amelia, wondering what's going on.
Aftermath, Albus Dumbledore:
"Headmaster?" squeaked the polite voice of Professor Filius Flitwick, as the old wizard passed him by on his way to his seat. "Mr. Potter left a message for you."
The old wizard stopped. He looked inquiringly at the Charms Professor.
"Mr. Potter said that after he woke up, he realized how unfair had been the things he said to you after Fawkes screamed. Mr. Potter said that he wasn't saying anything about anything else, just apologizing for that one part."
Aftermath, Professor Quirrell: "No," Madam Pomfrey snapped at the child, "you may not see him! You may not pester him! You may not ask him one little question! He is to rest in bed and do nothing for at least three days! "
Aftermath, Minerva McGonagall: Two ships (McGonagall and Harry) pass in the night around the infirmary. Harry looks at her rather blankly. They say nothing. That was so exciting to recap.
Aftermath, Fred and George Weasley: Dumbledore surprises the twins, being as intimidating as he can pull off. He tells them Harry's in danger and needs to NOT LEAVE HOGWARTS, so please don't sneak him out, seriously, he might die if you do it. Even they agree.
Aftermath, Alastor Moody and Severus Snape: We find out how Moody got the Eye of Vance. Ew. Now he's hanging around the graveyard of Little Hangleton.
"Sometimes people called Moody 'paranoid'.
Moody always told them to survive a hundred years of hunting Dark Wizards and then get back to him about that."
Har. Anyway, Moody has been told by Dumbledore about the whole horcrux thing, and he was irritated. "D'you realize how long it'll take me to do the grave of every ancestor of every Dark Wizard I've ever killed who could've been smart enough to make a horcrux? You're not just now doing this one, are you?" Yeah, good point.
Snape has been dosing graves to prevent this sort of thing, apparently. He uses a lot of bottles on original graves.
"What's in the bottles?"
Snape opened the fifth bottle, gestured with his wand to begin the substance flowing toward the grave, and said, "This one? A Muggle narcotic called LSD. A conversation yesterday put me in mind of Muggle things, and LSD seemed the most interesting option, so I hurried to obtain some. If it is incorporated into the resurrection potion, I suspect its effects will be permanent."
"What does it do?" said Moody.
"It is said that the effects are impossible to describe to anyone who has not used it," drawled Snape, "and I have not used it."
The next bottle up is a love potion. Wait, what? Thre's also Malaclaw venom, iocane powder, Bahl's Stupefaction, basilisk venom....okay, not really.
Aftermath, Blaise Zabini: "At a table in the exact middle of the room, Blaise Zabini sat by himself, smirking as he did his homework. He had a reputation now, and meant to keep it."
Aftermath, Daphne Greengrass and Tracey Davis:
"You doing anything interesting today?" said Tracey.
"Nope," said Daphne."
WHO CARES ABOUT THESE PEOPLE RIGHT NOW? NOBODY CARES.
Aftermath, Harry Potter: Harry is feeling like he wants a jailbreak himself right now.
"You know the research on this, observed some part of himself,it's just standard scarcity effects, like that time where as soon as a county outlawed phosphate detergents, people who'd never cared before drove to the next county in order to buy huge loads of phosphate detergent, and surveys showed that they rated phosphate detergents as gentler and more effective and even easier-pouring... and if you give two-year-olds a choice between a toy in the open and one protected by a barrier they can go around, they'll ignore the toy in the open and go for the one behind the barrier... salespeople know that they can sell things just by telling the customer it might not be available... it was all in Cialdini's book Influence, everything you're feeling right now, the grass is always greener on the side that's not allowed.
If Harry hadn't been told that he couldn't leave, he probably would've jumped at the chance to stay at Hogwarts over the summer...
...but not the rest of his life.
That was sort of the problem, really.
Who knew whether there was still a Dark Lord Voldemort for him to defeat?"
Well, yeah. Dumbledore is sounding a false alarm that Harry set off himself. He feels bad/guilty/etc. He broods. He's still in shock he did what he did. He argues with himself about why he did it.
"He'd thought, somewhere deep inside him, that if your mysterious teacher offered you the first mission, the first chance, the call to adventure, and you said no, then your mysterious teacher walked away from you in disgust, and you never got another chance to be a hero...
...yeah, that had been it. In retrospect, that had been it. He'd gone and started thinking his life had a plot and here was a plot twist, as opposed to, oh, say, here was a proposal to break Bellatrix Black out of Azkaban. That had been the true and original reason for the decision in the split second where it had been made, his brain perceptually recognizing the narrative where he said 'no' as dissonant. And when you thought about it, that wasn't a rational way to make decisions. Professor Quirrell's ulterior motive to obtain the last remains of Slytherin's lost lore, before Bellatrix died and it was irrevocably forgotten, seemed impressively sane by comparison; a benefit commensurate with what had appeared at the time as a small risk."
The second you lose your grip on being a rationalist, shit happens. Welcome to life, Harry, it sucks, bro.
"Harry didn't want to confess and ruin his reputation forever and get everyone angry at him and maybe end up killed by the Dark Lord later. He'd rather be trapped in Hogwarts for six years than face that."
Harry muses about what to do about Azkaban/magical Britain/whether or not Quirrell is too negative or whether or not he's sane. He ponders the Milgram experiment.
"So he had designed an experiment to investigate obedience, to see if Germans were, for some reason, more liable to obey harmful orders from authority figures.
First he'd run a pilot version of his experiment on American subjects, as a control.
And afterward he hadn't bothered trying it in Germany."
"Harry blinked, then; because his brain had just made the connection between Milgram's experiment and what Hermione had done on her first day of Defense class, she'd refused to shoot a fellow student, even when Authority had told her that she must, she had trembled and been afraid but she had still refused. Harry had seen that happen right in front of his own eyes and he still hadn't made the connection until now..."
Harry wonders about the Hermiones of the world and what makes them different enough to hide Jews from Nazis and stuff like that.
"Harry looked at the sunset, on the second day of the rest of his life, and knew that he had switched sides.
Because he couldn't believe in it any more, he couldn't really, not after going to Azkaban. He couldn't do what 37 out of 40 people would vote for him to do. Everyone might have inside them what it took to be Hermione, and someday they might learn; but someday wasn't now, not here, not today, not in the real world. If you were on the side of 3 out of 40 people then you weren't a political majority, and Professor Quirrell had been right, Harry would not bow his head in submission when that happened.
There was a sort of awful appropriateness to it. You shouldn't go to Azkaban and come back having not changed your mind about anything important."
Good point. Harry and his mental House counterparts debate whether or not Harry should rule, or be trusted with it.
"It was strange, this feeling of not quite knowing who you were, which side you were on, of having not already made up your mind about something as major as that, there was an unfamiliar sensation of freedom in it..."
Harry feels sad every time he thinks about Quirrell, like he's already lost him. How many different people is the guy, anyway? (YOU HAVE NO IDEA, HARRY, CHECK THE HAT.)
"How many different people are you, anyway?
I cannot say that I bothered keeping count."
Okay, I don't think Harry can judge on that one either. How many multiple personalities does he have again? I count his dark side, and four House sides, so at least six.
Harry feels like he lost the connection to his best friend. And even if he has other friends/better people to befriend, but they're not his superiors, and therefore they can't be his mentor like Quirrell was. Is. Who knows.
"There ought to always be one real person who you truly were, at the center of everything..."
Well, one hopes. I guess. Or maybe we're all just a mix of a bunch of different people. We just don't label 'em like Harry does so much.
Cut to Harry entering the Ravenclaw common room to see Hermione. Yeah, she'll talk to him again. What's going on? Which rumors are true? Harry says he can't talk about it, but he won't go to lunch with Quirrell any more. He's crying. Hermione doesn't know what to do about it. She asks if there's anything she can do to help, and Harry says he wants to do something that NORMAL kids do. Like... play Exploding Snap? Do either of them know that game? How should they know what normal kids do, they read! After chuckling at that, Harry feels better and heads off to bed.
He finds something under his pillow:
"There was a parchment, and a deck of playing cards.
The parchment read,
A little bird told me that Dumbledore has shut the door of your cage.
I must admit, on this occasion, that Dumbledore may have a point. Bellatrix Black is loosed upon the world once more, and that is not good news for any good person. If I stood in Dumbledore's place, I might well do the same.
But just in case... The Salem Witches' Institute in America accepts boys as well, despite the name. They are good people and would protect you even from Dumbledore, if you needed it. Britain holds that you need Dumbledore's permission to emigrate to magical America, but magical America disagrees. So in the final extremity, get outside the wards of Hogwarts and tear in half the King of Hearts from this deck of cards.
That you should resort to it only in the final extremity goes without saying.
Be well, Harry Potter.
- Santa Claus"
WHO THE HECK IS SANTA CLAUS IN THIS STORY, ANYWAY? Also, Salem Witches! THAT IS TOO COOL! I love Salem, I went there a few years ago and wished I could have hung around longer.
Without a phoenix about, Harry dreams about Azkaban, and cries, and it's a good thing he puts a Quieting Charm on himself before going to bed.
"He'd sworn upon his life and magic and his art as a rationalist, he'd sworn by all he held sacred and all his happy memories, he'd given his oath so now he had to do something, had to do something, had to DO SOMETHING -
Maybe it was pointless.
Maybe trying to follow rules was pointless.
Maybe you just burned down Azkaban however.
And in fact he'd sworn he'd do it, so now that was what he had to do.
He'd just do whatever it took to get rid of Azkaban, that was all. If that meant ruling Britain, fine, if that meant finding a spell to whisper that would echo all across the sky, whatever, the important thing was to destroy Azkaban.
That was the side he was on, that was who he was, so there, it was done."
Okay, so that's done. Good resolution, Harry.
FINAL AFTERMATH. BECAUSE OUT OF ALL THESE DAMN AFTERMATHS, IT''S FINALLY GOING TO END. RIGHT? RIGHT?!?! Trelawney wakes up from freaky 2 in the morning dreams of her own.
Jesus, I'm exhausted reading and writing all of that. It took me days to write this thing, you guys. And while I appreciate the super deep thoughts and giant implications and general freakiness...I'm also like, fuck, this is tooooooooooo looooooooooooooong. Sure, throw in Blaise and Daphne or whoever just for funsies of the author, but I'm tiiiiiiiiiiiiiiired.
Okay, I'm trying to think of how one would really summarize the actions of this:
Harry and Hermione are friends again.
Nevile's plotting murder.
Draco's kinda in the dark.
Harry's locked up on campus and generally devastated.
Everyone thinks there's a war on again.
Fawkes is very sweet.
You know, I'd probably give this more stars for epic, but I'm tiiiiiiiiiiiiired. Three and a half stars of exhaustion. It should probably get another star or so, but boy, did this lose energy for me. But still, big deep shit, so.... okay, whatever. Moving on.
Infamous Quote Corner:
"whichever school official had dubbed it 'The Forbidden Forest' really hadn't understood marketing, the name just made you want to go there even more."
"If you were given a glass half-empty and half-full, then that was the way reality was, that was the truth and it was so; but you still had a choice of how to feel about it, whether you would despair over the empty half or rejoice in the water that was there." Good point.
"Imagine how loudly Mum would scream if she'd heard you'd been elected Prime Minister, now ask yourself, are you sure she's wrong about that?"
AND NOW, LET'S TAKE A BREATHER FOR THINGS TO GET WACKY! Remember omake? I think I've forgotten what it is by now, but the author's gonna give you a sampling of other fanfictions he could be doing instead!
Actually, I am totally going to skip reviewing this because I have not read half of the stories and know I'm missing the jokes. I'll just note the ones I actually get and tack this on to the endless writeup of chapter 64. Moving on....
Anita Blake, Erdos in Change! ""How could you do it, Anita?" said Richard, his voice very tight. "How could you coauthor a paper with Jean-Claude? You study the undead, you don't collaborate with them on papers!"
Jasmine and the Lamp: "Excuse me," said Jasmine. "Aladdin, my darling, you're cute but you're an idiot, do you know that? Did you not notice how once Jafar got his hands on this lamp, he got his own three wishes - oh, never mind. Genie, I wish for everyone to always be young and healthy, I wish nobody ever had to die if they didn't want to, and I wish for everyone's intelligence to gradually increase at a rate of 1 IQ point per year." She tossed the lamp back to Aladdin. "Go back to what you were doing."
Moby Dick and the Methods of Rationality: "Revenge?" said the peg-legged man. "On a whale? No, I decided I'd just get on with my life."
Hahahahahah, he says "final." Final, my butt, this still goes on a bit longer. Anyhoo....
McGonagall is stressing out at the idea of another war, and how this isn't fair to stick an 11-year-old with. (This is a theme with McGonagall, she's big on letting kids be kids. Which so isn't working in this universe, I think.) She wishes she could save Harry from the fate of being a hero, but you can't save some folks.
Harry arrives, wanting to know if it's time for him to find out what's going on. Dumbledore didn't tell him shit, apparently. McGonagall says it's not her place to explain (oh, come on, wussing out), but if Dumbledore STILL won't tell anything, THEN she'll yell at him for Harry. Uh....thanks?
Back on topic, she asks him to use his Time-Turner to go back six hours (to 3 p.m.) and give a message to Flitwick: "silver on the tree." Note the time of the message, then go meet with Dumbledore again. Harry reasonably suspects he's being suspected, and McGonagall denies it was her idea. He shrugs and goes "oh well on my sleep schedule again" and then does it. She waits.... and sends her Patronus to Flitwick to see what happened.
One hour earlier, Harry's used up his last spin of the day and he's got the Invisibility Cloak on. (On a random note, I get tired of having to Capitalize words that normally don't particularly need it, just because I'm mentioning a Magical Item. Thanks, JKR.) He heads towards the Slytherin dorms and does a little cryptography message.
"In principle, of course, Harry could've done all that hours earlier, but somehow waiting until after he heard the message from Professor McGonagall's own lips seemed less like Messing With Time."
Harry's secretly taking advantage of the Slytherin Messaging System, which I ... think....gets introduced here for the first time? (It's fun writing these things when I'm like 14 chapters ahead in reading and trying to recall stuff like that.) Basically people send around envelopes within envelopes addressed to different people, with payment enclosed for their trouble. Harry sends his message to Merry Tavington, who in turn will be sending a message to Margaret Bulstrode, who will be delivering her envelope to a deserted classroom..."...after she used her Time-Turner to go back five hours..." and Harry will be lurking invisibly in the room just to check. Quirrell suggested it, saying he'd noticed that Margaret has a Time-Turner to get the best gossip.
"Now there remained only the confrontation with Dumbledore, and then he was done for the day... he'd go to the Headmaster's gargoyles at 9PM, since doing it at 8PM would seem more suspicious. This way he could claim that he'd just misunderstood what Professor McGonagall had meant by "afterward"..."
"There would come a reckoning, but sometimes you had to borrow everything you could today, and let the payments come due tomorrow."
Even Harry's dark side is tired. He's four hours past bedtime when he heads to Dumbledore's office. Harry pretends to be innocent and grumbles that he'd like to know what's going on now. Dumbledore says that Bellatrix escaped, and Voldemort's back, and he's reconstituting the Order of the Phoenix. Oh, Harry, do you recognize the book on my desk? Sure, it's Lord of the Rings. Dumbledore grumbles that Gandalf should have moved Frodo to Rivendell once he realized who had the One Ring, and Frodo shouldn't have left without a guard. Which means....Harry's not going home for Easter. Or summer. Or skipping out for lunches at Diagon Alley. No leaving the grounds unless there's a very good reason and a very strong guard. But your parents can visit.
Dumbledore's Genre Savvy. Who knew? It's that half-Muggle upbringing again.
Harry is not happy, but he did kinda do it to himself there, didn't he?
Dumbledore warns Harry that Arthur Weasley is going to ban all Muggle artifacts in Battle Magic battles, so "In the future, when you have a good idea, keep it closer about yourself."
Then Dumbledore gets all goddamned emo again and is crying (seriously, Dumbledore in the books wasn't a crier, it's just WEIRD to me) and wants Harry's forgiveness, or at least for Harry to say he understand why. Well, he sorta does. Harry tries to make him feel better about it by claiming he wanted to stay over the summer to read the library. (Poor alt-Harry, original recipe Harry would have loved staying over the summer.)
As Harry turns to leave, here comes Fawkes, hovering in front of him. Fawkes screams, "the most terrible cry Harry had ever heard." It knocks down all of Harry's defenses and layers and priorities, we're told, and he starts crying.
"Fawkes says," Harry's voice said, "he wants me, to do, something, about, the prisoners, in Azkaban -"
"Fawkes, no! " said the old wizard. Dumbledore strode forward, reaching out to the phoenix with a pleading hand. The old wizard's voice was almost as desperate as the phoenix's scream had been. "You cannot ask that of him, Fawkes, he's only a boy still!"
"You went to Azkaban," Harry whispered, "you took Fawkes with you, he saw - you saw - you were there, you saw - WHY DIDN'T YOU DO ANYTHING? WHY DIDN'T YOU LET THEM OUT? "
When the instruments stopped vibrating, Harry realized that Fawkes had screamed at the same time as his own scream, that the phoenix was now flying next to Harry and facing Dumbledore at his side, the red-golden head level with his own.
"Can you," whispered the old wizard, "can you truly hear the voice of the phoenix so clearly?"
Harry was sobbing almost too hard to speak, for all the metal doors he'd passed, the voices he'd heard, the worst memories, the desperate begging as he walked away, all of it had burst into his mind like fire at the phoenix's scream, all the inner bulwarks smashed. Harry didn't know whether he could truly hear the voice of the phoenix so clearly, whether he would have understood Fawkes without already knowing. All Harry knew was that he had a plausible excuse to say the things Professor Quirrell had told him he must never raise in conversation from this day forth; because this was just what an innocent Harry would have said, would have done, if he had heard so clearly. "They're hurting - we have to help them -"
"I can't! " cried Albus Dumbledore. "Harry, Fawkes, I can't, there's nothing I can do!"
Another piercing scream.
"WHY NOT? JUST GO IN AND TAKE THEM OUT!"
The old wizard wrenched his gaze from the phoenix, his eyes meeting Harry's instead. "Harry, tell Fawkes for me! Tell him it's not that simple! Phoenixes aren't mere animals but they are animals, Harry, they can't understand -"
"I don't understand either," Harry said, his voice trembling. "I don't understand why you're feeding people to Dementors! Azkaban isn't a prison, it's a torture chamber and you're torturing those people to DEATH! "
"Percival," said the old wizard hoarsely, "Percival Dumbledore, my own father, Harry, my own father died in Azkaban! I know, I know it is a horror! But what would you have of me? To break Azkaban by force? Would you have me declare open rebellion against the Ministry?"
Yes, we're all down with open rebellion around here. Also, a bird doesn't care about governments, and Harry bets they could get away with it. Dumbledore continues to cry and say that phoenixes don't understand. Harry offers to start destroying Dementors, like fifteen at a time, and Dumbledore says it was hard enough to hide losing one and they're national possessions/weapons for war. This ticks off Harry some more and he wants to know how bad things have to get before he ought to decide he's not on the side of the country any more. He's basically just losing his shit and Dumbledore is being forced to defend the indefensible. FUN TIMEZ AROUND HERE, YOU GUYS.
Harry stomps out, with Fawkes still aboard his shoulder. Harry wonders if Fawkes has suddenly ditched Dumbledore for good--I guess not, but I don't speak bird and apparently Harry does now so he's translating. Fawkes is just stomping off to make a point too.
Oooookay.....I'm giving this three and a half stars. On the one hand, Harry outwits the Time Turner issue again. On the other hand, Dumbledore being all emo is the worst Dumbledore. On a third imaginary hand, Fawkes is being shockingly interesting. Almost cuddly for a fire being.
Infamous Quote Corner (haven't done this in a while, so why not):
"There was something about Dumbledore when he was like this, which made it hard to stay properly cold; his dark side had trouble with weird."
Evie is a 16-year-old orphan with the talent of being able to see through ANY paranormal creature's glamour. When she was discovered as a child as having that ability, she was immediately snapped up by the International Paranormal Containment Agency. Now she lives there in her own private apartment with tutors, being sent out on snag-and-tag jobs with her trusty taser, Tasey.
IPCA essentially catches paranormals and forces them to go to work for them, which Evie hasn't thought about as an issue all that hard, especially since as far as she knows she's a normal human girl. Who would, admittedly, like to go to a real high school and prom like the stuff she sees on her favorite TV show, Easton Heights. She'd also like to have a typical dating experience--getting involved with a faerie she knows at work, Reth, turned out to be a TERRIBLE idea and she's still incredibly creeped out by dealing with him. Or faeries in general, for that matter. IPCA thinks they have them contained by knowing a few faeries' real names--if you order a faerie to do something by their full name they have to--but Evie rightly doesn't trust that worth a damn.
Anyway, one day a cute boy--some kind of watery shapeshifter nobody's seen before--is brought in to IPCA, and Evie and him end up hitting it off right away because she can see him for what he's really like. The boy, Lend (as in lend me your body because I can copy it), wanted to get into IPCA because he's trying to investigate the murders of various paranormals that are starting to go on. Like the giant pack of vampires that thought Evie was going to kill them. And there's some weird poem prophecy going around that seems to refer to Evie. When Lend tells Evie she's not human, she doesn't really buy it until she has her best friend Lish look at her file. Not only do they consider her some kind of unknown paranormal, she's at a super high ranking? What the hell? And her faerie ex at one point does something to her that Evie finds really disturbing--and makes it look like she's on fire.
And then the killer starts invading IPCA facilities....including Evie's own, and her best friend is murdered. She and Lend make a break for it, and setting him free so he can run for it is considered treason, so she can't go home again. However, during that experience, she meets the killer...a girl named Vivian who looks suspiciously like Evie and who wants to connect with her. What are Evie and Vivian? Can Evie get away from Reth coming after her? And can she and Lend attempt to live a normal teenage life despite all of this drama?
I think writing this is making the book sound like a bad teen soap (Easton Heights!). But it's not. Evie is a charming, friendly, spunky girl who loves to shop and do girly things, but also cares about other people and trying to figure out what's going on. Lend is also a totally decent and adorable dude, though Evie starts to wonder how she's affecting him after awhile. As she starts to find out more about what she and Vivian are, things get worrying. But she does a good job in figuring out how to cope with things after awhile. She's authentically a teenage girl, but she's not dumb and is very sweet.
I really enjoyed reading this book, and would certainly like to read more in the series when I find them. So, four stars.
McGonagall and Snape take the Floo network to Gringotts, and then head to Mary's Place's alley, which is empty. Snape disappears, and as McGonagall is about to do the same, Dumbledore shows up. They hope Harry's still in the can, but all they find is a note:
"M: What did the hat tell me to tell you?
"Ah," Minerva said aloud in surprise, her mind taking a moment to place the question, it wasn't the sort of thing you'd forget but she hadn't been thinking in that mode, really - "I'm an impudent youngster and I should get off its lawn."
"Eh? " said the air in Albus's voice, as if even he could be shocked.
And then Harry Potter's head appeared, suspended next to the air beside the toilet, his face was cold and alert, the too-adult Harry she'd seen sometimes, eyes darting back and forth and around."
Smooth move, Harry! Dumbledore plucks a hair of Harry's head and swoops away with him. McGonagall and Snape remain, and Snape dumps the hair into the Polyjuice so he can act as bait. Snape wonders why Harry wasn't picked up earlier, and McGonagall deduces that Harry must have an invisibility cloak.
Cut to McGonagall in her office. Dumbledore's in, and Snape comes in, wanting to know if anyone's heard from Mad-Eye. He hasn't seen anything, so there's REALLY nothing to see. Snape reports that nobody's tried to get his blood. "Except the Defense Professor." WHAT? Snape was busted as an imposter immediately by Quirrell, wanting to know where Harry was. "Shouting that I was Severus Snape did not seem to reassure him, for some reason. I do believe that man would kill me for a Sickle and give back five Knuts change."
Snape had to stun Quirrell, who wasn't easy to do that to, nor did he react well. Fake-Harry reported it to the order, and Quirrell was hauled to St. Mungo's for "exhaustion." I didn't know Quirrell was a celebrity, snerk. Anyway, nobody's out for Potter blood.
"She felt like a Polyjuiced impostor, sitting with those two. War was not her art, nor plotting. She had to strain to keep one step ahead of the Weasley twins, and sometimes she failed at that."
Dumbledore thinks that only two wizards could have engineered this escape. Was it...You-Know-Who? He's suspect #1, at least. There's three ways for him to return: (a) the Philosopher's Stone, which is being scrapped for this plot, (b) the whole flesh/blood/bone prophecy thing. What's number three? Anyway, #2 is why he'd want Bellatrix back, and maybe he was keeping her around in case the Stone wasn't an option, so maybe that's why he wasn't after Harry at the same time. But how did he do it?
"Unfortunately there is now another wizard who laughs at impossibilities. A wizard who, not long ago, developed a new and powerful Charm which could have blinded the Dementors to Bellatrix Black's escape. And he is implicated for other reasons, as well."
DUM DUM DUMMMMMMMMMMMMMM. Snape thinks if Harry's a suspect, this is a joke, but McGonagall knows better. And she gets ticked when she finds out that Quirrell knows about the super-Patronus.
"Mr. Potter is an Occlumens? You gave him an invisibility cloak and he is immune to Veritaserum and he is friends with the Weasley twins? Albus, do you have any idea what you have unleashed upon this school?" Her voice was nearly shrieking, now. "By his seventh year there won't be anything left of Hogwarts but a smoking hole in the ground!"
Albus leaned back in his great cushioned chair, and said, smiling, "Don't forget the Time-Turner."
She did scream then, but quietly."
Oh, poor McGonagall. She might have a nervous breakdown by the end of this year. And I'd bet that Hogwarts becomes a smoking hole by the end of book 2 of this fanfic world, not book 7. Just a thought.
"Severus drawled, "Should I teach him to brew Polyjuice, Headmaster? I ask only for the sake of completeness, in case you are not satisfied with the magnitude of your pet disaster."
So, did Harry do it? Snape votes no. Dumbledore wants to know why he'd have a paradox on his hands. McGonagall crumples into her chair. Dumbledore seems to think it could go either way on whether or not it was Harry or Voldemort. At this point I can't keep track of the Time-Turner guessing here and Snape thinks they need to draw diagrams. I WANT PICTURES, PLZ. As they draw, McGonagall tries not to go insane. Was Harry's Time-Turner tampered with? Not that Dumbledore could tell, but it might not be impossible.
So, what's the results of all that drawing?
"We have concluded," the Headmaster said gravely, "that either Harry was involved or he was not; that either Voldemort has access to a Time-Turner or he does not; and that regardless of what could have happened within Azkaban, nobody would have visited the Little Hangleton graveyard during the period Moody has already watched over it within my own past."
"In short," Severus drawled, "we know nothing, dear Minerva; though it seems at least likely that another Time-Turner was involved, somehow. My own suspicion is that Potter has been bribed, tricked, or threatened into conveying messages backward in time, perhaps even regarding this very prison break. I shall not make the obvious suggestion as to who is pulling his strings. But I suggest that at nine o' clock tonight, we test whether Potter is able to travel the full six hours backward to three o' clock, to see if he has yet used his Time-Turner."
ALLRIGHTY THEN, THAT WAS HELPFUL. But good idea on Snape's part. Anyway, Dumbledore thinks it's Harry and Snape thinks it's Voldemort, and Harry has to stop in after he uses his Time-Turner anyway. Snape briefly Floo's out to check a theory, and he comes up with a motive for Harry's doing it: Lesath Lestrange's special request.
"Mr. Potter thinks he is God," Severus said without expression, "and Lesath Lestrange fell to his knees before him in a heartfelt cry of prayer."
OHHHHHHH DAMN. See, that's why this shit is cooooooooooool. Harry Potter's a fuckin' god.
"She had studied Muggle religion - it was the most common reason for needing to Memory-Charm the parents of Muggleborns"
Wait, what?! Lemme guess, it's to get the born-again Christians to let their kids attend school?
Anyway, Lesath doesn't know about the escape, but he's going to assume who did it. Dumbledore considers this good news. Wait, what?!
"It is the best reason I can possibly imagine for removing Bellatrix from Azkaban," Albus said quietly. "And if it is not Harry, let us recall, then it is certainly Voldemort himself making his first moves. But let us not be hasty in judgment while there is much we do not yet know, but soon will."
Well, good point there. Dumbledore calls up Amelia Bones to ask for news, and she's all "are you going to tell ME anything while you're at it?" Or to quote her, "If any Auror dies of your reticence, old meddler, I will hold you responsible in full measure." Har. Anyway, four hours in the future, a Muggleborn saw the escape and recognized a "Muggle artifact." I love how they call them "artifacts" like they're all archaeologists digging for ancient tools in the dirt, instead of like, cars being used now. Hi-larious, wizards. Arthur Weasley, who knows more about Muggle artifacts than any wizard alive, deduces it was a.... rocker!
Yes, rocker. "and they call it that because you'd have to be off your rocker to ride one. Just six years ago one of their rockers blew up, killed hundreds of Muggles in a flash and almost set fire to the Moon."
Bwahahahahahahahahahah. Oh, that Muggle rumor mill gone awry again! The moon was totes on fire!
Okay, this is probably some sort of Challenger or other space explosion reference (I forget when the last explosion was), and normally I find that sort of thing very sad. But in this context, it's a little lulzy. Forgive me, Challenger crew on high.
"Weasley says that rockers use a special kind of science called opposite reaction, so the plan is to develop a jinx which will prevent that science from working around Azkaban."
Dumbledore declines to give any news of his own, but says he might have word soon. Dumbledore is also a half-blood, who grew up in a Muggle town, and he knows it's a rockeT. And Harry steals enough money out of his vaults to afford it.
"Minerva quietly thudded her head a few times against the headrest of her chair."
Snape points out that Voldemort may also be aware of the existence of rockets, so he's not ruled out yet. This flips out Dumbledore.
"Severus," Albus Dumbledore said, and his voice almost cracked, "do you realize what you are saying? If Harry Potter and Voldemort fight their war with Muggle weapons there will be nothing left of the world but fire!"
DA ROOF, DA ROOF, DA ROOF IS ON FIRE. WE DON'T WANT NO WATER LET THE MOTHERFUCKER BURN.
Dumbledore is now hoping it was Harry and what have I done and blah de blah. What's worse, Muggle weapons or magic? Muggle weapons are only slightly worse.... but on the other hand, they're hard to get ahold of. UNLESS YOU TRANSFIGURE LIKE HARRY DOES....
Another report comes in from Bones' assistant, from six hours ahead. They figured out it was done with an Animagus potion. Bellatrix used to be one but Azkaban got rid of it for her. Did someone get it back? In about three hours. Everyone wonders why the vial was left behind. They eventually conclude it was Voldemort.
"What will you tell Madam Bones?" she whispered.
Albus stood from his desk and paced to the center of the room, his hand lightly touching the devices, here an instrument of light, there an instrument of sound; he adjusted his glasses with one hand, used the other to center the long silver beard against his robes, and then finally that ancient wizard turned back and faced them.
"I will tell her what little I know of the Dark Art called horcrux, by which a soul is deprived of death," said Albus Dumbledore, in a soft voice that seemed to fill the whole room, "and I will tell her what may be done with the flesh of the servant."
"I will tell her that I am reconstituting the Order of the Phoenix."
"I will tell her that Voldemort has returned."
"And that the Second Wizarding War is begun."
RUH-ROHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH YOU JUST STARTED A WAR, SIX YEARS EARLY, HARRY POTTER-EVANS-VERRES, WITH A GUY WHO'S NOT EVEN IN THE FIGHT YET that we know of check Quirrell's head
Some hours later, McGonagall is waiting to check Harry's Time-Turner. But um....
"It was 8:43 PM, and the time approached when Harry's Time-Turner would open, to be tested in the one way that no imaginable spell could fool, unless that spell could bypass the laws of Time itself. No body or soul, no knowledge or substance, could stretch an extra seven hours in a single day. She would make up a message on the spot, and tell Harry to take that message back six hours to Professor Flitwick at 3PM, and she would ask Professor Flitwick if he had received it in that hour.
And Professor Flitwick would tell her that he had indeed received it at 3PM.
And she would tell Severus and Albus to have a little more faith in Harry next time.
Professor McGonagall cast the Patronus Charm, and told her shining cat, "Go to Mr. Potter, and tell him this: Mr. Potter, please come to my office as soon as you hear this, without doing anything else along the way."
Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaat?!?! I'm not even sure.
Okay, you know what? FIVE STARS FOR THIS CHAPTER BECAUSE HARRY MANAGED TO START A FUCKING WAR WITH A DEAD GUY WHO'S MAYBE NOT EVEN AWARE OF WHAT'S GOING ON NOW. Damn. Damn, Yudkowsky, damn. Wowza. When is this guy gonna write a non-fanfic fiction and get it published? Because minds would be blown if he got around even more.
Harry is awoken by Quirrell, who wants to talk to him before Harry needs to use the Time-Turner again. Harry is exhausted and having horrible flashbacks already. He's expressing his horror at Azkaban. How could anybody do that to somebody?!?!
Quirrell's as much of a cynic as I am, and says why shouldn't they, nobody cares about those prisoners.
"You know, Mr. Potter, if He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named had come to rule over magical Britain, and built such a place as Azkaban, he would have built it because he enjoyed seeing his enemies suffer. And if instead he began to find their suffering distasteful, why, he would order Azkaban torn down the next day. As for those who did make Azkaban, and those who do not tear it down, while preaching lofty sermons and imagining themselves not to be villains... well, Mr. Potter, I think if I had my choice of taking tea with them, or taking tea with You-Know-Who, I should find my sensibilities less offended by the Dark Lord."
And now Harry finally gets to our long-neglected title reference of The Stanford Prison Experiment and recapping it. He doesn't get why magical Britain does this shit, and Quirrell is all "welcome to politics" about it. Prisoners offer no advantage to anyone, and it only hurts politicians to help them. It's everyone's instinct to back a winner! And hey, as long as YOU'RE never going to Azkaban, why would you care? Clearly, some things don't change between magical prison and Muggle prison here.
"I admit, Mr. Potter, that I see little hope for democracy as an effective form of government, but I admire the poetry of how it makes its victims complicit in their own destruction."
Yup. Quirrell, your dark side reminds me of me.
"All the other wizards of this country are no different within than he who sought to rule over them, You-Know-Who; they only lack his power and his... frankness."
"You once offered to support me if my ambition were to be the next Dark Lord. Is that why, Professor?"
The Defense Professor inclined his head, a thin smile on his lips. "Learn all that I have to teach you, Mr. Potter, and you will rule this country in time. Then you may tear down the prison that democracy made, if you find that Azkaban still offends your sensibilities. Like it or not, Mr. Potter, you have seen this day that your own will conflicts with the will of this country's populace, and that you do not bow your head and submit to their decision when that occurs. So to them, whether or not they know it, and whether or not you acknowledge it, you are their next Dark Lord."
Hoooooooooo boy. See, that's why I like this alt-universe fanfic thing: it's hardcore.
"On our first day of class, you tried to convince my classmates I was a killer."
"You are." Amusedly. "But if your question is why I told them that, Mr. Potter, the answer is that you will find ambiguity a great ally on your road to power. Give a sign of Slytherin on one day, and contradict it with a sign of Gryffindor the next; and the Slytherins will be enabled to believe what they wish, while the Gryffindors argue themselves into supporting you as well. So long as there is uncertainty, people can believe whatever seems to be to their own advantage. And so long as you appear strong, so long as you appear to be winning, their instincts will tell them that their advantage lies with you. Walk always in the shadow, and light and darkness both will follow."
"And," said the boy, his voice level, "just what do you want out of all this?"
Professor Quirrell had leaned further back against the wall from where he sat, casting his face into shadow, his eyes changing from pale ice into dark pits like those of his snake form. "I wish for Britain to grow strong under a strong leader; that is my desire. As for my reasons why," Professor Quirrell smiled without mirth, "I think they shall stay my own."
"The sense of doom that I feel around you." The words were becoming harder and harder to say, as the subject danced closer and closer to something terrible and forbidden. "You always knew what it meant."
"I had several guesses," said Professor Quirrell, his expression unreadable. "And I will not yet say all I guessed. But this much I will tell you: it is your doom which flares when we come near, not mine."
O RLY? I always assumed this Dooooooooooom thing was just what came along with being the DADA instructor. I....guess not?
"Why do you sometimes turn into a zombie?"
"Personal reasons," said Professor Quirrell with no humor at all in his voice."
I'm trying very hard not to snicker in public at this one. GREAT ANSWER, DUDE. I seriously wonder if the same "personal reason" is going on in this fic than the original...but I'm guessing I won't find out for a long. ass. time. Knowing this author, he probably won't do it that easily, though here it would work even better, eh?
Harry wants to know what the ulterior motive for rescuing Bellatrix was. Quirrell is all, you should have deduced that she would have been most likely to have been entrusted with the lost lore of Slytherin. Though yeah, she was totes innocent, and Quirrell did seem to feel sorry for her.
"the degree to which all her choices were taken away from her, so that she never had a chance to suffer for her own mistakes... it struck me as excessive, Mr. Potter. If she tells you nothing of use -" The Defense Professor gave another small shrug. "I shall not consider this day's work a waste."
"How altruistic of you," Harry said coldly. "So if all wizards are like You-Know-Who inside, are you an exception to that, then?"
The Defense Professor's eyes were still in shadow, dark pits that could not be met. "Call it a whim, Mr. Potter. It has sometimes amused me to play the part of a hero. Who knows but that You-Know-Who would say the same."
Harry has one question left, the most important one--and he can't spit it out. But now Quirrell wants to know what Harry has to say about nearly killing him. Where's my apology, dude? Um..... Harry is all hey, I went to major trouble to get you out even after I thought you tried to kill a cop, I faced down twelve dementors, where's my thank you?
"It seems you still cannot bring yourself to lose, Mr. Potter."
"Did the thought of a calculated false apology even cross your mind? Me neither, Professor Quirrell."
OH, YOU GUYS.
Harry says he pondered deliberately losing/turning himself over/giving up, a lot, except he couldn't bear to lose Quirrell. There's dead silence for awhile, and finally Quirrell wants to know what he should be apologizing for since Harry fucked up. Harry says Quirrell should have warned him that he might fake a Killing Curse, because otherwise he reasonably assumes that you'd want to actually kill him.
"Shouldn't that be the first rule of Unforgivable Curse Safety?"
Bwah, just like gun safety! I'd totally snark this myself!
"Rules are for duels," said the Defense Professor. Some of the coldness had returned to his voice. "And dueling is a sport, not a branch of Battle Magic. In a real fight, a curse which cannot be blocked and must be dodged is an indispensable tactic. I would have thought this obvious to you, but it seems I misjudged your intellect."
I agree with Harry: warn a dude first. Harry also grumbles that he should have known that casting a spell on Quirrell might kill them both, because that could have gotten them into some shit. Harry eventually says he regrets hurting him, but he doesn't think he has to submit to him.
"I never really did understand the concept of apology, still less as it applies to a situation like this; if you have my regrets, but not my submission, does that count as saying sorry?"
Hah. Like Quirrell knows. I think it ends in a tie. Harry points out that Hermione would never build Azkaban, so she's not like all other wizards. Quirrell is all "you don't know what she's like deep down" and Harry remains convinced of her goodness anyway. He asks if Quirrell ever has the urge to improve something awful and Quirrell is all "Oh ha ha ha, Harry, how naive you are. Check out my jade colored glasses. I had to get new ones after my rose ones were crushed." Quirrell has also figured out most of the "impossible things" Harry did to get them out of jail, he brags.
And finally Harry blurts out his last, terrible question: "Why am I not like the other children my own age?"
Because you're weird, same as everyone else. Same answer I give to myself.
Cut to Dumbledore apparating into an alley, where he finds a note. It says "NO." In his handwriting. So much for his plan to go back three hours to catch Harry upon his arrival. Paradox?
Back to Harry getting his answer: Quirrell doesn't know, but...... and that's the end.
Four stars for Quirrell being a total cynic like myself. I'm biased like that.
Harry is very well practiced in Transfiguration, so now he's trying to ...well, do something possibly explodey as he cuts a hole in the wall. He'd probably not be trying this, except Quirrell will go to Azkaban and he can't lose him (good luck with that with a DADA instructor). Except Harry already kinda "lost him" because he went all evil 'n shit. Is there an explanation for why? Can he come up with an excuse?
"And Harry went on cutting the hole in the wall. He was using partial Transfiguration on a thin cylindrical shell of metal, two meters in diameter and half a millimeter thick, running all the way through the wall. He was Transfiguring that half-millimeter thickness of metal into motor oil. Motor oil was a liquid and you weren't to Transfigure liquids because they might evaporate, but he and Bellatrix and the snake all had Bubble-Head Charms. And Harry would cast Finite on the oil immediately after, dispelling his own Transfiguration...
...as soon as the separated and lubricated hunk of metal slid out of the wall and onto the floor of their cell, he'd slanted it so gravity would pull it in, once the Transfiguration was done.
If Harry and Bellatrix didn't exit on his broomstick through the resulting hole in the wall...
Harry's brain suggested that he could try to Transfigure a surface cover over the hole in the wall, leaving a space for Bellatrix and Professor Quirrell to hide in, wearing the Cloak, while Harry turned himself in. And Professor Quirrell would eventually wake up, and he and Bellatrix could try to figure out how to exit Azkaban on their own.
It was, first of all, a dumb idea, and second, there would still be a huge hunk of metal on the floor of the cell, which would give it away.
And then Harry's brain saw the obvious.
Let Bellatrix and Professor Quirrell use the escape route you invented. You stay behind, and turn yourself in."
Harry deems that officially "out of the box" enough to approve of this idea. Everyone will assume he's been kidnapped! Though he is tempted to go along. Uh-oh, what's that noise? Quirrell-snake has just woken up and Harry informs him of the situation. Harry says there's no time to explain, you must go now, I've been glad to know you if I never see you again, "even though you are probably evil." He hands Bellatrix the broomstick and tells her to get on. Quirrell objects to leaving Harry behind, but Harry says he no longer trusts Quirrell since he saw him try to kill the Auror. Quirrell is all "that makes no sense, if I wanted him dead he would have been dead, I just wanted to force him to drop shields so I could read his mind." But you cast the Killing Curse! "I knew he'd dodge it!"
"Wass hiss life worth sso little? What if he did not dodge? "
"Would have pusshed him out of the way with own magic, fool boy! "
Again the pause in the planet's spin. Harry hadn't thought of that.
It's kind of hard to argue when they end up in danger if they do from Dementors. Quirrell wants to hear the escape plan, which is a little hard to describe in Parseltongue (it's interesting how they talk around using terminology snakes can't say, for the record), but the message gets across. Quirrell says he'll help and Harry doubts there is a healer available. Quirrell is all "if I'm evil, obviously ending you here wasn't my plan." Harry feels kinda dumb and not entirely reassured, and asks what Quirrell's plan for him is.
"You ssaid no time," came the snake's hiss, "but plan iss for you to rule country, obvioussly, even your young noble friend hass undersstood that by now, assk him on return if you wissh."
Oh, BUT OF COURSE. Obviously.
Dumbledore and Fawkes and the Patronus-phoenix are still looking, and everyone goes running or flying.
Quirrell goes back to being human and himself again and gets to work putting charms on it to get Harry's device to work right. Bellatrix is fed a potion, Harry goes back to being invisible, Quirrell puts some kind of harness/handcuffs on Bellatrix...who suddenly becomes more cheerful and colorful and starts laughing. This is a sudden boost sort of potion that will make her pass out later, but right now she's got a bit of boost. Quirrell goes back to being a snake and hops on, and so does Harry. Everybody flies through the hole in the wall and Harry activates his BOOMSTICK.
A hundred Dementors rise into the air! KABOOOOOOOOOOOOM goes off! The prison break gang flies away, despite the Aurors trying to disable the broom.
Okay, that was impressive. Complicated but impressive. So, four stars.
"Broomsticks worked so much like the human mind instinctively expected them to work that his brain had managed to entirely overlook their physical absurdity."
For once, Harry's rational brain failed that one.
"Harry, on his first Thursday of broomstick lessons, had been distracted by more interesting-seeming phenomena, words written on paper and a glowing red ball. So his brain had simply suspended its disbelief, marked the reality of broomsticks as accepted, and proceeded to have its fun, without ever once thinking of the question whose answer would have been obvious. For it is a sad fact that we only ever think about a tiny fraction of all the phenomena we encounter...
That is the story of how Harry James Potter-Evans-Verres was almost killed by his own lack of curiosity.
Because rockets did not work by Aristotelian physics.
Rockets did not work like a human mind instinctively thought a flying thing should work.
A rocket-assisted broomstick, therefore, did not move like the magical broomsticks upon which Harry was such a very good flyer.
None of this actually went through Harry's mind at the time."
Ruh-roh! Anyway, it's incredibly loud, they're going very fast in 2.5 seconds, and flying has become very difficult and he's trying not to crash into anyone and....well, they seem to have gotten away.
"After that, once Harry could hear himself think again, when there was only the howling wind from their ridiculous speed, and Harry's enchantment-assisted fingers gripping the broomstick were merely resisting the decelerating drag of moving way faster than terminal velocity, that was when Harry actually thought all that stuff about Newtonian mechanics and Aristotelian physics and broomsticks and rocketry and the importance of curiosity and how he was never going to do anything this Gryffindor ever again or at least not until after he learned the Dark Lord's secret of immortality and why had he listened to Professor Quirinus "I asssure you, boy, I would not attempt thisss if I did not anticipate my own ssurvival " Quirrell instead of Professor Michael "Son, if you try anything to do with rockets on your own, I mean anything whatsoever without a trained professonal watching, you will die and that will make Mum sad" Verres-Evans."
A Quieting Charm can't quiet anything this loud, for the record. But everyone's still attached, at least. Bellatrix fixes Harry's hearing. He regrets this because hoo boy, is she ever cussing out EVERYBODY. He tells her to stop, and she does. Bella no longer recognizes what the sun and clouds are, apparently. Poor Harry is quietly bursting into tears at this. Then she passes out on the broom and Harry wonders if she just died, but he can't check or do anything right now. Starting to worry about his passengers, Harry busts out his portkey.
Back at Azkaban, Dumbledore demands the fastest broomstick they have, and Amelia says she'll accompany him. Dumbledore's worried about that prophecy...you remember, somewhere around book 4 or so, I think? (It's been awhile, other people made off with my copies of the books, SHUT UP)
"Three things they need for perfection, if it is that one: The flesh of the Dark Lord's most faithful servant, the blood of the Dark Lord's greatest foe, and access to a certain grave."
Oh yeah, THAT. Yeah, I guess we should all be worried about that.
Harry and company have landed in a different unidentified country, and are greeted by a lady who's "a race unfamiliar to Harry" with "umber" skin. Umber?!? I thought they had black people in England--Dean Thomas, at least. Anyway, she's annoyed they're 2 hours late and is all "you're not Mr. Jaffe" to the invisible talker. Harry says that's the snake-Animagus guy. She Innervates Quirrell and he wakes up, then quickly falls down. The lady is Dr. Crystal Camblebunker and she's not into formality, except for reiterating the "Doctor" bit. Quirrell declines to introduce the invisible friend and the doctor asks how wrong it went.
"You can read about it tomorrow in any newspaper with an international section."
Apparently the doctor owes "Jeremy" and didn't miss him, but Harry can't tell if she's serious or not right now. He's not in top critical form. Harry asks how likely it is to undo everything done to Bellatrix.
"Oh, let's see. Legilimency and unknown Dark rituals, ten years for that to set in place, followed by ten years of Dementor exposure? Undo that? You're out of your skull, Mister Whoever-You-Are. The question is whether there's anything left, and I'd call that maybe one chance in three -" The witch suddenly cut herself off. Her voice, when it spoke again, was quieter. "If you were her friend, before... then no, you're never getting her back. Best understand that now."
Oh. She asks what spell Bellatrix got, and it was Pepper-Up. Were you out of your mind?! She'll be asleep for a week. Got anything to stop her from killing me if she wakes up in a month? Quirrell provides her with some sort of paper, which the doctor grumbles better work. After Bellatrix is Oblivated, the healer takes off with her via apparition. Harry's inner critic and his various personality aspects debate her acting skills. Actual Harry asks how many people Quirrell is, and he says he hasn't bothered to keep count. How many are you, Harry? (Hah, like he knows.)
Harry uses another portkey and ends up back in a Muggle warehouse. He passes out.
Meanwhile, Dumbledore is heading back in time to protect Harry, and he Apparates away with Fawkes, ditching Amelia and the broomstick.
Well, that was interesting. I wonder what country they went to, America? Salem witches? What the hell color is umber, anyway?
I feel tired just reading this, don't you? And you're reading the damn shortcutted recap. Anyhoo, four stars, I guess. Didn't expect it to go quite that way.