The Falling

Three Days of the Weasley (Part One)

The following are the accounts of September 20th, 1995, as told by Harry James Potter and Hermione Jean Granger. The facts have been verified by others that witnessed the events of that fateful day. This was the first day of three days known now and forever as "Three Days of The Weasley".


September 20th, 1995 (Day One)

BOOM...BOOM...BOOM...

Harry jumped out of bed, grabbed his glasses and wand, then looked around to see that the sunlight coming through his window was being marred by purple smoke outside rising from below. He looked over at Ron's bed to see that it was empty.

BOOM...BOOM...BOOM...

Harry knew that either Death Eaters were attacking the castle, or the Weasleys were wasting no time getting started. He really wished they had confided in him a little as to what they were up to, but knew they were only protecting he and Hermione from the consequences should they get caught.

BOOM...BOOM...BOOM...

The third round of explosions caused the floors of Gryffindor tower to tremor. Harry dressed as quickly as possible; not sure where to go first, but wanting to be ready for anything. Dean and Seamus had rolled out of their beds and were stumbling around; completely disorientated by the sounds and vibrations.

"Bloody hell." said Seamus, awestruck by the purple smoke that now obscured the morning sun.

"What's going on, Harry?" asked Dean, holding his wand and looking alert.

"Dunno, Dean." replied Harry honestly. "But we best be getting to the common room. I imagine the whole castle is awake by now."

BOOM...BOOM...BOOM...

'They promised they wouldn't level the place', thought Harry reassuringly as he Seamus, and Dean made their way downstairs to the common room. When they reached the common room, it was full of Gryffindors. Professor McGonagall appeared moments later in the common room through the portrait hole, a mixture of trepidation and amusement on her face. Upon seeing that all of Gryffindor was in the common room already, her face quickly became as stone.

Hermione slipped between Seamus and Harry, taking his hand in hers. Harry gave her a wry smile and squeezed her hand affectionately. Her touch was better than any calming draft Madam Pomfrey had ever given him.

"Someone has set off some type of magical explosions all around the perimeter of the castle." said Professor McGonagall coldly. "These explosions apparently contained a mixture of Pruritus, Sternuo, and Ridere potions that cause anyone that breathes in the purple smoke to laugh, sneeze, and itch all at the same time." McGonagall's mouth twitched at this. "Please keep all doors and windows to the outside closed until the wind dissipates the smoke. Professor Flitwick is charming all entrances to repel the smoke from entering the castle. It may be several hours before it is safe to exit the castle."

The first years looked scared while the second, third, and fourth years looked about at Professor McGonagall expectantly for more answers. Most of the fifth, sixth, and seventh years looked between Harry and the Weasley twins with grins of admiration, naturally assuming they were behind the commotion. Professor McGonagall gave the twins an appraising glance before exiting the common room.

"Where's Ron?" asked Seamus.

"Our brother Ron." said Fred, as the Alliance gathered around Harry.

"Is visiting Neville in the hospital." said George.

"He wanted to see him before breakfast." said Fred.

The calm and almost affectionate demeanor in which the twins spoke of Ron gave Harry goosebumps. They had never passed up an opportunity to make jest of their youngest brother, let alone sound almost proud. Angelina caught this too; giving them a suspicious look.

"How about we all go see Neville, then we can head down to the Great Hall for breakfast." said Hermione, an Imperious tone to her voice.

"Maybe by then this purple smoke will have dissipated." said Dean, staring at the twins.

"Don't count on it." said the twins in unison.

The Alliance arrived outside the hospital wing a few minutes later; Seamus still quietly interrogating the twins as to how they produced the purple smoke. Though they thoroughly denied it while acting shocked and mortified at being accused, Seamus refused to believe them.

"So what do –" began Hermione, though her question for Harry would never be known.

The doors to the hospital wing opened as Professor Snape exited and the strangest sound caught the Alliance's attention, causing the group to fall silent. It sounded as though someone within was laughing and screaming incoherently at the same time. Snape glared at the group before him; accusation filling his face.

"Come to admire your handiwork?" sneered Snape silkily.

"W-Who's in there screaming?" asked Hermione, gripping Harry's hand tighter.

"One of your victims." replied Snape.

Harry glared at the Potions Master and felt his rage burn. 'Always ready to accuse somone else for everything, regardless of the circumstances', thought Harry. He hated the man that stood before him; the 'Great Bat' and his smug attitude. Harry could not allow himself to dwell on the fact that Snape knew what was going on and, like Dumbledore, chose to do nothing to help.

"Professor Snape, I didn't realize you were still here. I thought you said –" rolled Madam Pomfrey like the Hogwarts Express until she spotted Harry and the Alliance. "I suppose you lot are here to see Mr. Longbottom?" Harry and the Alliance members nodded. "Very well. He's still in the same bed as before."

Snape swept past them, allowing his robes to brush Harry who shivered with disgust at the gesture.

"Who's screaming, Madam Pomfrey?" asked Hermione.

"Mr. Filch." replied the matron. "He was patrolling the first floor when the thunderous explosions began. He immediately stormed outside, walking directly into the smoke. Professor Snape has gone to brew an antidote."

"Was anyone else affected by the smoke?" asked Dean.

"Three Aurors were patrolling the grounds when the explosions occurred, however they were immediately transported to St Mungos." replied Madam Pomfrey. "Mr. Filch requested to stay here. Now, on with you lot before I change my mind and turn you away."

Madam Pomfrey smiled when she said it, causing Dean and Parvati to look alarmed at a friendly matron. They quickly entered the wing, trying hard not to stare at Filch who was laughing hysterically, sneezing, and scratching his arms and chest. Harry personally thought that the sound of Filch laughing was quite disturbing for he could not recall ever hearing more than an evil chuckle from the old caretaker.

"Lovely morning." said Ron, sitting beside Neville's bed as they approached. "Almost temped to take a stroll by the Black Lake before breakfast... well almost. Looks a bit cloudy."

Susan, who was sitting on the other side of Neville's bed, rolled her eyes dramatically.

"Don't be thick younger brother." said Fred.

"The outskirts of the Forbidden Forest." said George.

"Is the best choice for a morning stroll." said Fred.

"Though you're right. It does look a bit cloudy." said the twins in unison. "Storm clouds even."

Harry could not help but shiver at the banter between the brothers while Filch screamed uncontrollably at the other end of the wing. Madam Pomfrey finally placed silencing wards around his bed, leaving an eerie silence in its place.

"When did Malfoy check out, Neville?" asked Seamus.

"Oh, right after Ron got here." replied Neville smirking. "Looked quite pleased to be gone too."

"Surprised mummy didn't take her baby with her yesterday." snorted Dean.

"I see I was right to hand out your punishment, Mr. Thomas." said the girlish tone from behind them that made Harry's stomach clinch tight.

The Alliance turned as one to see Professor Umbridge standing right behind them; her toad-like face filled with vindictive pleasure.

"Good morning, Professor." greeted Harry, showing no emotion.

"Mr. Potter, did you have anything to do with the purple fog that has formed around or school?" asked Umbridge in her sweetest tone, jumping straight to the point.

"No Professor." replied Harry.

"Do you know which one of your House is responsible?" asked Umbridge, bearing her teeth like a predator before it eats its prey.

Harry looked about the group mockingly before he raised his eyebrows into his hairline and asked, "No Professor. What makes you think it was a Gryffindor?"

Umbridge's countenance dropped and the toad looked hungrily at the Alliance.

"I know that it was one of your friends, Mr. Potter, and when I find the person responsible – they will be suspended indefinitely from Hogwarts!" replied Umbridge, her tone icy.

"Yes – cause you can't just attempt to send every student to Azkaban, now can you?" retorted Harry coldly, his eyes locking with the toad's.

Hermione grabbed Harry's hand, but before he could turn to look at her the floor of the hospital wing shook violently; the sound of explosions could be heard reverberating in the corridors.

"Cold bloody hell!" exclaimed Umbridge.

She quickly regained her composure, gave Harry and the Alliance another accusing glare, then stormed out of the wing; stopping only long enough to tell Madam Pomfrey that Mr. Longbottom was to be cleared and released from her care immediately. Neville was elated by the idea while the matron looked in as fowl of a mood as Harry had ever seen.

"What were those explosions?" asked Susan.

"Could have been anything." said Fred, pretending to think hard.

"Old castle and all." said George.

"Let's go!" said Neville excitedly, as he sprung from bed.

Madam Pomfrey came bustling up and pushed Neville back into a sitting position on the bed.

"The Headmistress may have requested your release, Mr. Longbottom, however I need to check you over before doing so."

"I'll catch up with you lot in the Great Hall." sighed Neville.

"Alright, Neville." said Harry smirking, before turning to leave; curious to see what the Weasley brothers have done now.

"You comin' Susan?" asked Seamus.

Harry turned back to see Susan still standing near Neville's bed.

"You all go on." replied Susan. "I'll walk down with Neville."

"Stay alert on your way down." said Hermione. "Never know what's around the corner these days."

She glanced at the twins who merely shrugged. As they exited the wing into the corridor, the overwhelming smell of burning wood filled Harry's nostrils. He glanced at Fred; worry masking his face. Fred smirked and just shook his head to say, 'Not to worry'. The Weasleys took the lead as they descended the stairs.

"Mind your robes." said Ron, as they reached the bottom.

Harry looked down to see that the entire floor was covered with ash. He looked up, but there was no sign of anything burnt. The ash was so thick that Lee nearly slipped as they entered the Great Hall. Umbridge was walking about, scourging the ash from atop the tables and draperies. She shot a menacing glaring at the Alliance once more, like a cougar assessing its prey, before continuing the task at hand.

"Best take a seat." said Ron. "The show – I mean, breakfast is about to begin."

Angelina simply stared at Ron, clearly dumbfounded, before taking a seat at Gryffindor table. Luna slid across the floor merrily to join Terry Boot and the rest of the Ravenclaws; Ron's eyes tracing her path. Just as the food began to appear, Harry saw Neville and Susan enter the Great Hall. Susan quickly joined the Hufflepuffs while Neville took a seat beside him.

"Is all safe here?" asked Dean cautiously, pointing to the food.

"Of course." said Fred.

"Hogwarts house-elves make the food." said George.

"After all." said Fred.

"Hem, hem." came the familiar sound that made Harry cringe.

Everyone in the Great Hall turned to see Professor Umbridge standing at the podium.

"I know that there have been some distractions this morning." began Umbridge. "However, I would like to take this time as we eat to assure you –"

Umbridge halted as a strange hissing sound began to fill the Great Hall; slowly growing louder and louder.

"To assure you that Hogwarts is safe for –"

Umbridge squeaked as the hissing began to form syllables, finally hissing one solitary word; repeating it over and over again. 'Umbridge'. At that moment, Harry realized that the ash on the floor all around them had began to move – no, slither. The floor was filling with thousands of small hissing snakes made of ash. Several students screamed as the ash snakes moved beneath their feet; making their way towards the staff table and congregating just in front of the podium. Umbridge backed away from the podium, wand drawn, and her free hand over her mouth; eyes bulging in horror. Professors McGonagall, Flitwick, Sinistra, and Trelawney stood up and backed away from the staff table.

The forming pile of ash snakes, all hissing the Headmistress' name, began to morph again to form what looked like a giant black pillar raising towards the enchanted ceiling. Just as it looked as though it might touch the rafters, a head formed at the top; an ugly head that Harry had seen many times in his nightmares with its unmistakable snout and long fangs. The, now ash Basilisk, looked down at Umbridge who was moving her mouth, though nothing was coming out. A deep voice raked the air, hissing one word, 'Umbridge'. Quicker than anyone could blink, the ash Basilisk dove at the spot where Umbridge stood; exploding as it struck and sending a cloud of ash high into the air.

Harry, Hermione, and many other students covered their faces against the cloud of ash until it had settled. As the podium came back into view, Harry could see a large pile of ash where Umbridge had stood. Just as he began to imagine her disintegrating, the pile of ash shook violently as Umbridge's head and shoulders burst free; followed by a bloodcurdling scream of fury. Umbridge then staggered forward before falling flat on her face.

"Damn." muttered Ron, as he purged the ash from his plate of food with his wand then stabbed his sausage vengefully with his fork.

"That was wicked!" breathed Neville.

Harry watched as Professor McGonagall almost joyfully levitated Umbridge off the floor and into a chair before stepping to the podium.

"All students," began McGonagall, calling the Great Hall to order "please return to your common rooms while we sort out this mess. The kitchen house-elves will bring the morning breakfast to you there."

The entire body sat silently, everyone waiting for the other to move.

"Mr. Perks, Ms. Knott, if you'd be so kind." said McGonagall to the Head Boy and Girl.

"Prefects, please assist your Houses." said Perks, standing up and brushing the ash out of his hair.

To Harry's surprise, Ron and Parvati stood up and began ushering Gryffindors out of the Great Hall. When Parvati turned in Hermione's direction, he heard her whisper, "McGonagall had to give the post to somebody."

Harry saw Hermione wink at Parvati as they stood up to make their way back to the common room. The twins nearly took the lead as they proceeded up the staircases. When they reached the third floor Harry stumbled to a halt and shrieks filled the air as Angelina, the twins, and several other Gryffindors fell dramatically; for the third floor was now a solid sheet of ice.

"What's going on!" shouted Perks as he made his way through the crowd.

"The entire third floor is solid ice!" shouted Sarah Thompson, a sixth year of Ravenclaw. "One of the Weasley twins looks to be hurt."

Sure enough, Fred was holding his ankle and grimacing in pain. 'Was this part of the act or had he accidentally slipped', pondered Harry. Perks pondered melting the ice until he realized that the entire floor had indeed been turned to ice. At that point he conjured a long rug and spread it across the ice so that he could walk out to help the fallen Gryffindors.

"What is going on here!" shouted Professor Flitwick as he made his way up the stairs, followed by Professor McGonagall and a very shaky Professor Umbridge.

"Sir, the entire third floor is made of ice." replied Perks, as he helped Fred back to the stairs. "Fred Weasley has injured his ankle."

"Y-You?" stuttered Umbridge, staring at Perks and Fred. "B-But I thought –"

"You assumed that the Weasleys were behind this?" asked Professor Flitwick.

Umbridge did not answer, but simply continued to stare at Fred in disbelief and suspicion. Professor McGonagall waved her wand and transfigured the tapestries hanging on the walls and from the ceiling into a large carpet that covered the icy floor.

"Ravenclaw and Gryffindor students, please continue on to your common rooms." said Professor McGonagall. "Mr. Perks, please help Mr. Weasley to the hospital wing. I will escort the Headmistress to the hospital wing as well." The edges of McGonagall's mouth twitched as she said, "I believe she is in shock."

Fred winked at Harry as Perks helped him up the stairs. When they reached the fourth floor, Harry watched as an uneasy Umbridge and a very large ham known as Fred Weasley made their way to the hospital wing. Someone made a hissing sound, causing Umbridge to squeak and jump around madly before McGonagall was able to settle her back down.

"What do you think Fred is up to?" whispered Hermione in Harry's ear.

Harry ignored the urge her breath on his ear gave him and replied, "We'll know soon enough."

Upon reaching the seventh floor and the portrait of the Fat Lady, Parvati and Ron ushered the Gryffindors into the common room. The Hogwarts house-elves had setup tables, chairs, and plates for the Gryffindors inside the common room; replacing the usual tables, sofas, and cushioned chairs. Taking a seat next to Hermione, Harry looked outside through a nearby window. Harry thought it looked as though the purple smoke was thickening; as though it was becoming something solid.

"Shouldn't the purple smoke have thinned in the morning breeze?" asked Hermione, noticing the same thing.

"Most peculiar, don't you think Ronald?" asked George innocently as his plate filled with food in front of him.

"I'm sure Umbridge will sort it out." replied Ron off-handedly grabbing a biscuit.

Thirty minutes later Fred rejoined them in the common room; a gleeful look upon his face. He was followed closely by Professor McGonagall, who announced that morning classes would be only a few minutes behind schedule, but that Care Of Magical Creatures was canceled until the smoke dissipated. Both Harry and Hermione had dropped that class from their electives before start of term, so this meant that the free period would be slightly more crowded than usual.

Potions was their first class and though that normally would have made Harry's stomach knot up, the thought of seeing Draco brought a dark smirk to his face. He knew that the ferret would blame him for the purple smoke and he wasn't going to let the Weasleys have all the fun. This was war and the Malfoys were the enemy.

Harry pondered the future as he headed down to the dungeons for lessons with Hermione at his side. After this weekend, he knew that the chances were he would never return to Hogwarts again. If all went well, Hermione's parents and Ginny would be rescued and the world would be undeniably aware of Voldemort's return. This also meant that all-out war would be upon them. On the other hand, if all did not go well, this could be the last few days he had left; for he had promised himself that no matter what Hermione thought, he would die protecting her.


Hermione felt her wand grow warm inside her robes and knew Harry was thinking about her. She reached over and took hold of his hand. Even though the entire school knew that they were together, they rarely held hands in public. It wasn't because she didn't want to hold his hand all the time; it was because she knew it made Harry uncomfortable. He had held her hand the entire night after Cho's death, but that had been in private. Publicly, Harry never initiated contact unless it was needed.

Harry smiled at her when he realized her hand was in his and she could feel what she had determined to be 'his magic' pulsing up her arm. While Harry had become her boyfriend amongst all the chaos and had even professed his love for her; Hermione felt that their relationship was a bit forced upon him. She knew that he had never known what it was like to be loved before her and wondered if any doubt lingered behind those emerald green eyes.

When they arrived in Potions, Snape was his usual self. He immediately deducted five points from Gryffindor for being too noisy while entering the classroom. Draco was constantly glaring at Neville, who seemed to be enjoying this immensely; basking in the fact that Draco wanted to hex him, but did not dare.

Just as class was almost over and Hermione thought that they might just scrape out without incident, the doors to the classroom burst open; Umbridge steaming as she stormed into the room and walked up to the front desk.

"Forgive my interruption, Professor, but there is a matter that I need to address." said Umbridge, her tone harsh and cold.

"By all means, Headmistress." said Snape. "I doubt half the class was listening anyway."

"If anyone here knows whom is responsible for the cloud surrounding the school and the attack on me this morning, please come forth now." said Umbridge, her eyes fixed upon Harry.

"It's obvious, Professor!" spat Malfoy. "Dark Lord Potter and his band of followers are behind it!"

Harry smirked at Draco's comment as Umbridge's brow furrowed.

"Mr. Malfoy," said Umbridge "thank you for your insight, however I do not believe this to be the work of Dark Lord Potter. I do believe though that it is the work of vengeance," her eyes shot to Ron and Neville "and when I find those responsible they will be expelled."

"As much as I'd like to see Mr. Potter, Mr. Weasley, or Mr. Longbottom expelled, Headmistress," interjected Snape "I do not believe that any of them possess the abilities or knowledge –"

Snape froze, his eyes darting to Hermione's face, as he contemplated the Muggleborn sitting before him.

"Oh please." spat Hermione. "Would you like to check my wand or test my cauldrons, cause I assure you that this is not my doing."

Umbridge walked over to Harry and Hermione's table and stood facing them.

"No need, Ms. Granger." said Umbridge sweetly. "I'm sure that you would not have done such. It is amazing though, how well trained your year is in defensive spells being that all your lessons this year have been purely theoretical work."

"We had an excellent defense professor our third year." said Harry smirking.

"Ah, yes... the werewolf." mused Umbridge.

"And a Death Eater as our defense professor last year." continued Harry, glancing at Snape. "I was surprised we didn't have another one for Defense Against the Dark Arts this year. Guess he wasn't up to the task."

Hermione saw white hot rage flood Snape's face as he glared at Harry. Umbridge missed the reaction completely as she was still staring at Harry; contemplating what he meant by his comment. It was amazing to Hermione that Snape somehow kept his temper in check and wondered if he suffered a mild stroke in the process.

"Well, it seems fairly obvious to me that you all have been staying in practice." said Umbridge. "How and when are questions I will find answers to... later. Until tonight, Mr. Potter."

Umbridge swept away from their table and back to the front of the classroom. She drew up a chair and took a seat before motioning for Snape to continue the lesson. It took him several minutes to get back on pace, though Hermione could tell that Harry had soured Snape's demeanor severely.

As she expected, Harry received an unjustifiable zero for his work. Umbridge left abruptly right before the end of the lesson when Professor Grubly-Plank swooped into the dungeons to fetch her. It wasn't until they made their way back up from the dungeons themselves after class, that Harry or Hermione knew what had caused the sudden and abrupt departure.

"Oi!" shouted Perks as the Gryffindor and Slytherin fifth years ascended the stairs.

"Why are you stopping us, Perks?" sneered Draco.

"Watch your tone, Malfoy." snapped Perks. "I have orders to not allow anyone onto the first floor. See to it, Malfoy, that your year stays right here. You're still a Prefect and –"

What Perks was about to say was lost as a rumbling noise echoed through the first floor and water began gushing down the grand staircase. Draco screamed in terror as they watched the river of water slam into the doors and the walls as it flooded the first floor, searching for a way out.

"Bloody hell! They used a melting charm!" muttered Ron aloud from behind Hermione.

As the water headed for the stairs to the dungeons, Hermione and the rest of the fifth year Gryffindors made to brace themselves against the wall. Harry, however, stepped forward and stretched out both hands towards the oncoming tidal wave. When the water reached Harry it flowed away from him and the Gryffindors; redirected by the strength of his shield charm. Draco and the rest of the Slytherins, however were not so fortunate. Hermione watched as they were swept past Harry's shield charm and down the staircase, back to the dungeons; Draco's screams of panic heard above all others.

When the water finally ceased, Harry lowered his shield charm, took Hermione's hand, and led the Gryffindors past a startled and soaked Perks, whom had braced himself against the banister.

"Is everyone alright?" asked Professor McGonagall, as she hurried down the wet grand staircase.

"We are, thanks to Harry." said Seamus. "Might want to check on the Slytherins though."

"Where are they?" asked McGonagall, looking about.

"Swept down the stairs, Professor." said Dean.

"Go into the Great Hall and wait for me." said McGonagall sharply before hurrying down towards the dungeons.

"What did you mean by melting charm?" whispered Hermione to Ron as they took a seat at the Gryffindor table.

Ron sighed then whispered, "Bill said that Flitwick would be too wise to use such a charm."

"Professor Flitwick might be," said Harry "but not her." He pointed towards the doors to the Great Hall where a very wet and angry Umbridge was striding in; flanked by Professors Sprout and Grubly-Plank.

"You should have consulted Professor Flitwick, Headmistress." said Professor Sprout.

"I am the Headmistress!" snapped Umbridge. "I do not need to consult other teachers!"

Hermione covered her mouth with her hand so that Umbridge would not spy the wicked grin that had filled her face. The Weasleys were out for revenge and Umbridge was reeling.

"Oh well." muttered Ron.

Hermione glanced at Ron as Professor McGonagall returned from the dungeons and escorted the Gryffindors to their next class, A History of Magic, without even a glance in Umbridge's direction. After another boring class with Professor Binns, though Hermione would never admit that to Harry, the fifth year Gryffindors had a free session. Instead of using it to catch up on homework, the Alliance members retreated to the Room of Requirement to regroup.

"So how much more do you and the twins have planned, Ron?" asked Harry bluntly after closing the door behind him.

"All I can tell you mate, is that come Saturday, Umbridge will wish she had never framed our little sister." said Ron evenly.

"The ash Basilisk was WICKED MAGIC!" exclaimed Neville, a mischievous grin curling his lips.

"Is there any way to exit the castle without being affected by that purple smoke?" asked Parvati.

"Unless you're a Weasley, I'm afraid not." replied Ron.

"Unless you're a Weasley?" repeated Lavender.

"He means that whatever curse they used doesn't affect the caster." said Hermione, trying not to sound too much like a textbook.

"Wait... you're not using dark magic, are you?" asked Parvati nervously.

"Of course not!" retorted Ron. "My brother Bill might have shown us a few Gringotts curses once, but even Gringotts doesn't use dark magic."

Hermione had read of the Gringotts curses that protect the wizarding bank and her eyes widened as she remembered the dragon. Harry, on the other hand, looked delighted at the news. She could see him imagining all that the Weasleys might have in-store for Umbridge behind those emerald eyes.

"Spread the word to the other Alliance members that there is nothing to fear from what is going on and that we will be having a meeting tonight at seven." said Harry. "Tell them to be careful as Umbitch is watching us."

"Do you approve this, Harry?" asked Parvati.

"We're at war, Parvati." replied Harry solemnly. "You can back out at any time."

"We're with you, Harry." said Lavender and Parvati nodded.

"We'd better be getting down to lunch." said Hermione, looking at the time. "Umbitch will be looking for us."

"Agreed." said Harry. "We'll discuss Saturday in detail tonight."

Harry checked the map as they left the room to make sure the corridor was clear. When they went downstairs for lunch, Hermione looked out a window and realized that the purple smoke had done nothing but intensified. When they entered the Great Hall, those that were already there were pointing and staring at the enchanted ceiling which had started turning purple. It was clear that the purple smoke was not going to simply blow away in the breeze; it was encompassing the entire castle.

The twins joined them shortly after they arrived, along with the rest of the Alliance members in Gryffindor. They quickly filled them in on the meeting time while Ron got up and boldly walked over to the Ravenclaw table, kissed Luna on the cheek, causing her to blush, then whispered in her ear.

"Ah, love is in the air." sighed Fred mischievously.

"Definitely." sighed George, grinning broadly.

"What are you two –" began Hermione, but was cut off by Umbridge taking the podium.

"Hem, hem. Well now, it seems that the purple smoke hasn't diminished at all." said Umbridge irritatedly. "So, all outdoor activities are hereby canceled for the entire day and I have sent word to the Ministry of our situation. They will be sending Curse Breakers to deal with this purple smoke – and to find out who has done this to our school."

Hermione and Harry both glanced at Ron, as he rejoined the group, and the twins. To her surprise, all three were smiling broadly.

"As for the rest of the day –" continued Umbridge, but was cut off by the doors to the Great Hall bursting open.

"YOU!" shouted Professor Trelawney. "YOU HAVE BETRAYED YOUR POST! THE CRYSTAL BALL DOES NOT LIE!" Her eyes were completely out of focus as she stumbled into the Great Hall. "THE BLOOD OF THE INNOCENT BE UPON YOU! THE FATES HAVE DEMANDED ATONEMENT AND THIS CASTLE WILL COLLAPSE UPON YOU AND CAST YOU OUT!"

At that moment she collapsed upon the floor. Professor McGonagall raced down from the staff table to her friend's side. Hermione, along with the rest of the Great Hall stood to see what had happened to their Divination teacher. Madam Pomfrey was only a few steps behind McGonagall, immediately checking Professor Trelawney before levitating her slowly out of the Great Hall. Umbridge stood speechless, staring at the floor where Professor Trelawney had laid.

"No quiet meals anymore?" asked Dean, eyebrows raised.

"Highly doubt it." replied Neville.

"Everyone, please settle down and return to your seats." said the magically magnified voice of Professor Flitwick. "Your food will now be served."

Hermione looked to see that Umbridge had slipped out of the Great Hall while everyone was watching Trelawney being levitated to, she was sure, the hospital wing. She settled back into her seat next to Harry and realized that the food had indeed been served. The entire hall was discussing what had just happened. Harry nudged her in the side and pointed to the twins who gave her a wink. Hermione sighed as she fought the urge to shake her head in amazement. The twins and Ron must be extremely busy and she pondered what was next.

The remaining classes for the day passed without incident; making Hermione wonder if the high jinx of the Weasleys was done for the evening. Then she remembered that the stage would be set one more time today for their theatrics as supper in the Great Hall approached.

As they left their final class, Hermione needed to use the lavatory so she dashed ahead and told Harry that she would meet him in the Gryffindor common room. She smiled as she saw Harry reach inside his robes to make sure he had his map. She wondered sometimes if he watched the map at night while she slept; keeping guard over her.

As Hermione left the lavatory she heard a voice that made her blood run cold.

"Remember me, mudblood?" sneered Draco.

Hermione's wand flew into her hand as she spun on the spot, pointing it directly into the ferret's face; her wand tip glowing dangerously red.

"Go ahead, Granger. See what happens to them." said Draco, an evil smirk crossing his face.

She knew that them, meant her parents and she bit her lip as she lowered her wand.

"Wise decision, Granger." sneered Draco. "Step into this classroom. We have things to discuss."

Draco waved her into a nearby classroom. Hermione knew that Harry would be watching and if anything went wrong, he would come to her aide. Draco closed the door behind him then rounded on Hermione.

"I know what Potter is planning, Granger, but does he really believe he can become as powerful as the Dark Lord?" asked Draco.

"How could you know anything, Malfoy?" asked Hermione in mock defiance.

"I have my ways, Granger." replied Draco. "Now, when Potter retrieves the last artifact, bring it to me and we can arrange a trade. The artifact for your parents and we'll consider your part of the agreement complete."

"Let's play along for a moment and say you're correct." said Hermione. "How can I be sure that your father will hand over my parents? How can I be sure that he won't just kill us the moment he has what he wants?"

"What are you proposing, Granger?" asked Draco, his eyes narrowing.

"A magical oath." replied Hermione, thinking hard. "You swear that you won't allow anyone to kill me or my parents before the end of this month, else you forfeit your magic. That should give us enough time to be far away from Britain and your father."

"How do you propose I do that?" spat Draco. "Don't expect me to stand between you and a Death Eater, Granger."

"Wouldn't think of it, Malfoy." retorted Hermione. "However, should you tell your father of your oath in order to obtain the artifact, I'm sure he'd do whatever was necessary to preserve it."

"Why are you so willing to do this?" asked Draco suspiciously. "If you do this, you're betraying Potter."

"Willing, isn't a word I would use, Malfoy." spat Hermione. "However, I want my parents back safe and I'm not so sure I want Harry to have that artifact. Besides, it means I won't have to deal with you anymore."

Hermione could see the ferret pondering the bargain. If she could get him to agree, they could use this against the Malfoys if needed during the rescue. She was hoping that Draco's greed and desire to beat Harry would overrule the obvious flaw for him and his family in this.

"Okay, Granger." said Draco finally. "I'll take this oath – on one condition."

"And what's that?" asked Hermione, wondering what had crossed his mind.

"That the oath does not take effect until the moment your parents are with you again." replied Draco silkily. "Wouldn't want you to think that they were untouchable before then, now would we."

Hermione thought hard about how Draco had worded the condition and realized she could still use it against him.

"Agreed." sighed Hermione, pretending to be upset.

"You may be a bookworm, Granger," sneered Draco "but I am a Malfoy. Now, let's be done with this oath. You have an artifact to retrieve."

Draco stuck out his free hand and she knew they had to make contact to initiate the oath. Hermione gripped his wrist and glared at him, daring the ferret to try anything funny.

"Need help with the words?" asked Hermione, causing Draco to sneer.

"I, Draco Malfoy, do hereby swear to protect Hermione Granger and her parents from death until the end of the month of September once they have been reunited, lest my magic be stripped from me."

A golden glow emitted from where they touched and she knew the oath was set. Once they rescued her parents, the Malfoys won't dare touch them until the end of the month; giving them plenty of time to do what was necessary. She was surprised that he didn't opt for protection too, but then again he was an arrogant Malfoy after all.

"Do not back out on this deal, Granger," sneered Malfoy, as he released her arm "if you ever want to see them alive again."

"Just remember, Malfoy," retorted Hermione as she swept past him to leave "welsh on this deal and Harry will do to you what he did to that dragon."

Hermione was satisfied to see the little color drain from Draco's face as she left the room. The ferret did not realize it yet, but he might have just sealed his own fate come Sunday. 'How well will the Slytherin Prince fare in a fight with the bookworm he's too afraid to harm, should the opportunity arise', thought Hermione as she headed to the Gryffindor common room.

Harry was waiting for her when she arrived in the common room, immediately questioning what the little ferret wanted. Hermione explained what happened and had to stomp Harry's foot to silence him as he burst into laughter; for non-Alliance members were taking too much notice of the commotion.

Neville, Dean, Seamus, and Ron joined them as they made their way downstairs for supper. The rest of the Alliance was waiting at the bottom of the grand staircase for them; Ron moving past them to Luna's side. Hermione also noticed that Susan seemed to be purposely edging closer to Neville. She glanced at Lavender who just winked.

"Well, well, well." said the sickeningly sweet voice of Umbridge. "Seems the Potter fan club is growing quite large these days."

"Last year was all about magical collaboration, Professor." said Harry. "If we don't start to get along here inside the school, how can we expect it to work anywhere else?"

"Ah, but I do not see any Slytherins amongst your group." said Umbridge. "Magical collaboration, as you say, cannot be selective."

"I agree." said Harry. "However, we cannot force anyone to be our friends, now can we?"

"Mr. Potter, you always have an answer for everything." said Umbridge. "Let's hope that continues tonight."

Umbridge then, without another word, walked into the Great Hall. Many of the Alliance glared at the toad, but the twins simply smiled. Hermione smiled too, knowing that whatever they were up to was not good news for Umbridge. She silently wondered if Umbridge would attempt to hex Harry the moment he entered her office tonight or if she still trusted to his innocence and believed him manipulated.

"Don't worry Harry." whispered Fred.

"She still believes you're the victim." whispered George.

Harry and Hermione rounded to look at them.

"We heard her tell the Minister this morning." whispered Fred.

"That she did not believe that you were responsible for the fog." whispered George.

Hermione thought of the sugar bowl and could hear in her mind Harry say, 'Money well spent'. At that, she burst out giggling sadistically to everyone's surprise. Ms. Norris made her way between the group and stared up into their midst. They all knew that Mr. Filch couldn't be too far behind.

"We're going, you wretched cat!" snarled Ron as they made their way into the Great Hall.

"Professor Snape must have been able to cure Filch." said Susan, sounding disappointed.

The group adjourned as they entered; each heading to their respective house table. The meal was excellent as usual, though Hermione did find it hard to eat while Ron sat across from her shoveling food into his mouth like he had not ate in weeks. Parvati seemed to share her distaste for the display; scrunching her nose up every time she looked his direction.

Suddenly, Peeves flew into the Great Hall cackling madly, zooming all around the rafters caring something shiny with him.

"I CANNOT TAKE IT ANYMORE!" shouted Filch as he ran into the middle of the Great Hall. "I'M LEAVING!"

Hermione shook her head and covered her eyes with her hands. Every year it was the exact same thing; Peeves would do something and Filch would demand that either Peeves was banished from Hogwarts or Filch was going to leave. She secretly wished that it could have taken longer for Snape to cure him.

"YOU'VE TORN MY HEART IN TWO!" shouted Filch. "GIVE ME A TUNE PEEVESIE!"

Hermione's hands flew from her face and the entire Great Hall fell silent in shock as Peeves started blowing on what could now be clearly seen as a saxophone. It was the strangest tune she had ever heard and it was followed by the most awful sound that had ever assaulted her ears; Filch singing.

(Peeves blaring on his sax)

Fare-thee-well my dark eyed girl,

Fare-thee-well my dearest one. (Hermione's eyes bulged as she realized Filch was pointing at Umbridge. Umbridge looked extremely pale, even for her.)

I am leaving tonight on the Hogwarts Express,

And I won't be comin' home.

I fell in love under enchanted skies,

I pledged forever to be true, (Filch pointed to the enchanted ceiling)

But fate can turn on you like a Hyppogriff,

She turned into someone new. (Filch pointed again at Umbridge)

So fare-thee-well my dark eyed girl,

Fare-thee-well my dearest one.

I am leaving tonight on the Hogwarts Express,

And I won't be comin' home.

What would I give for your true love,

I would give my very soul.

I would suffer the Dementor's Kiss,

Though it means my very soul. (Filch dropped to his knees and spread his arms wide)

A jet of red light struck Filch in the chest and he slumped forward. Hermione's eyes darted from Filch to Umbridge; the tip of her wand still glowing and trained upon her fallen victim. Suddenly, the Great Hall drew breath and waited for Umbridge to completely explode. Peeves blew what sounded like raspberries through the sax in protest, then dodged a jet of blue light from Umbridge as she shouted in a shaky voice, "HOW DARE YOU! YOU FILTHY LITTLE IMP!"

Peeves cackled merrily as he soared out of the Great Hall singing, "Umbitch and Filchy... the thought will make you icky!"

"DOLORES!" shouted Professor McGonagall. "Control yourself!"

"Blimey, I'd beg for the Dementor's Kiss just to never hear that again!" exclaimed Lee.

"What in Merlin came over him?" shouted Professor Flitwick as he ran to check on Filch.

"All houses are dismissed to their common rooms." said Professor McGonagall, stepping in front of Umbridge.

"How dare you overstep me, Minerva." growled Umbridge. "I am Headmistress here, not you!"

"Of course you are Dolores." retorted McGonagall calmly. "As Deputy Headmistress, I was merely coming to your aide."

"Oh no, no, no." simpered Umbridge. "Do not think me a fool, Minerva. I know how you've been patiently waiting to take over after Dumbledore's reign. Why else would you turn down a Ministry post?"

The whole student body remained quiet; silently watching as Professor McGonagall and Professor Umbridge stared at each other mere inches apart. McGonagall was looking down at Umbridge with a look of pure pity; as though this was the most pathetic sight she had ever beheld.

"Has it ever occurred to you that I, like Dumbledore, stayed here at Hogwarts simply because we enjoyed teaching?" asked McGonagall haughtily.

Before Umbridge could answer, Professor Grubly-Plank cleared her throat loudly. McGonagall and Umbridge turned to look at her.

"Excuse me for interrupting," said Professor Grubly-Plank "but Mr. Filch needs –"

"IN CASE ANYONE ELSE HAS FORGOTTEN, I AM HEADMISTRESS HERE!" interrupted Umbridge hotly. "I do not need to be told what needs to be done!" Umbridge's eyes raked the Great Hall madly. "As of tomorrow, Ministry support will be here to help clean up the mess that one of you has created! Do not think for one moment that the people responsible for all of this will not be caught!"

Umbridge marched past McGonagall and towards the stunned Filch; Professor Flitwick watching her carefully as she approached. Hermione stood to watch as Umbridge shoved Filch over with the heel of her shoe before muttering something that sounded like, "Useless."

"All students are dismissed to your common rooms immediately!" shouted Umbridge, a manic look in her eyes.

The Great Hall thundered as all the students exited at once.

"Ah, such a thin line." whispered George breathlessly, as he climbed the staircase.

"Between love and hate." whispered Fred breathlessly.

"We should all be careful." said George.

"Lest we end up like poor Filch." said Fred.

"Our Hogwarts Romeo!" said the twins in unison.

Hermione silently mouthed, "How?"

Ron walked behind them, grinning sadistically. Harry shook his head as Hermione wondered how far would the Weasleys go to get revenge.


Later that night the Alliance met briefly to go over Saturday's plan again before Harry headed off to detention. The twins assured them that by Saturday the purple fog would be completely gone. Tried as he may, Seamus was unable to get Ron or the twins to tell them how they got Filch to do that.

"By the time we're finished." said Fred.

"With our overgrown amphibian." said George.

"She will twitch uncontrollably at the very mention of Weasley." said the twins in unison.

"Umbitch is definitely in a foul mood now." said Lavender. "You three had better be really careful."

"We follow the three C's." said Ron.

"Careful, cunning, and calculating." said the twins in unison.

"If she catches you, she'll add another C," said Padma "for convicted."

"You two could have been Slytherins." said Dean.

"No they couldn't." said Harry firmly. "They have too much heart and courage to ever be Slytherins."

The twins hid their faces in mock embarrassment, causing everyone to burst out in laughter. Harry knew that this was their other great talent; they could lighten almost any mood.

~0~

Harry was still smiling as he walked towards the toad's lair, noticing that the floor was ice once more and the rugs McGonagall had conjured were starting to freeze. He figured that by morning they would be covered with ice. He always knew that the twins were a dangerous pair, but with vengeance in their hearts they were truly taking it to new heights.

He knocked twice on Umbridge's door then waited for her bid him enter. After about two minutes, Harry knocked again. He wondered if after all that transpired this evening, had she forgotten his detention. He wasn't so lucky.

"Come in." called the rather weak voice of Professor Umbridge.

Harry entered to find her office in shambles; only her most delicate objects, that included the sugar bowl, seemed to be intact. Umbridge herself looked completely undone, as though she had been attempting to pull her hair out. Upon realizing her appearance, she waved her wand and looked sickeningly neat once more.

"Please excuse my office, Mr. Potter." said Umbridge. "I have misplaced something and was in the process of finding it."

"No worries, Professor." said Harry, trying hard not to smirk.

"Now, let's start this detention with a little open conversation." said Umbridge sweetly, making Harry's stomach churn. "Is there anything that you would like to tell me?"

So many answers swarmed into Harry's head, but there was only one answer that made him tingle with glee; one that he could use to mesmerize and scare the toad. "I'm tired of being used."

The reaction was immediate. Umbridge nearly stood up in excitement as she heard his statement. He could feel her sense of victory.

"Who's using you, Mr. Potter?" asked Umbridge sweetly, trying to control herself.

"Everyone." replied Harry bitterly. "Everyone tries to use me in some way. To make them feel tougher or more popular or as a way to manipulate others to do what they want."

He knew that this wasn't entirely true, however he had to sell the toad on it.

"Mr. Potter," said Umbridge softly "I do not wish to use you."

"Right," spat Harry "so you and the Ministry don't want me to convince the world that Dumbledore is a fraud and that Minister Fudge is right. You just want to help me because you like me." Harry mustered his new-found wandless magic, imagining different objects in the room, and pushed. "I'M NOTHING MORE THAN A SCAR AND THE BOY-WHO-LIVED!"

At that moment several pictures flew from the walls and hit the floor along with two books from a nearby table. Umbridge's eyes bulged in fright and for a moment Harry thought that he had overdone the show.

"Mr. Potter," said Umbridge breathlessly "was that... is that how... I mean, I heard tale but I didn't..."

"I'm very sorry Professor." said Harry, lowering his head so that she wouldn't see him smile.

"No, no, no." said Umbridge in a higher tone than usual. "You have incredible talent for someone so young! Given the right training... and a proper teacher there's no telling what you could do!"

Harry looked up to see her flipping madly through a book on her desk. She then scribbled something on a scrap of parchment, threw floo powder into the fireplace, and threw the parchment into the flames.

"Next week I would like you to begin some advanced lessons with a Ministry Unspeakable." said Umbridge excitedly. "He is the best there is at using wandless magic. He will come to the school and teach you here."

"An Unspeakable?" repeated Harry, knowing her version of next week would never come.

"Yes." said Umbridge. "They are some of the best wizards in the country, if not the world. He can examine your abilities and train you to use them safely." Umbridge placed her hands together atop her desk. "Now, until then I think it's best you remain calm, so no more getting excited and I'm afraid that means no Quidditch. We don't want you to hurt anyone while on the pitch."

Harry sighed to cover his laughter. He couldn't wait to hear what she told Fudge this time.

"Now," continued Umbridge, her voice greedy "when did you realize you had these advanced abilities? Was it during the Tri-Wizard tournament?"

"No Professor." replied Harry, thinking hard. "I guess I've always had them. How else could I have did all the things I've done."

Harry could almost see the rusty wheels spinning hard inside the toad's head. He knew that this would indeed be taken as the reasons for how he killed a Basilisk and survived the Tri-Wizard tournament; regardless of whether it be true. He needed her to focus on her disillusions of Dumbledore plotting to overthrow Fudge rather than what he and the Alliance were up to. He wasn't the brightest student at Hogwarts, but it wasn't too hard to see Umbridge eventually blaming all the activities of the Weasleys on the Dumbledore faithful.

"Mr. Potter, there are a few things that I need to do before the night's end." said Umbridge grinning sweetly. "So how about we end tonight's detention early and we'll pick this topic back up tomorrow evening."

"Thanks Professor. That would be swell." said Harry, standing to take his leave.

"Go straight back to your common room, Mr. Potter." said Umbridge sternly. "Do not let me catch you out. It is already past curfew."

"Yes Professor." said Harry, as he turned and left Umbridge's office.

When Harry arrived back at the Gryffindor common room it was empty except for Hermione, Ron, and the twins who were sitting on the sofa together nearest the fireplace. They were so engrossed in something that they did not even notice him enter. Harry walked over and sat on the arm of the sofa to look over Ron's shoulder. The moment he touched the sofa, Ron leapt off like he was shot.

"Bloody hell, Harry!" exclaimed Ron, glaring at him. "Could at least make some noise when you enter a room!"

Harry and the twins broke down laughing, but Hermione looked cross.

"Don't tell me you're on Ron's side, Hermione." said Harry.

"I couldn't give a care whether you scared all of bloody Gryffindor." said Hermione harshly. "I want to know what the bloody hell you were thinking!"

"What are you going on about?" asked Harry, thoroughly confused.

"Going on about you say?" spat Hermione, causing Harry to swallow at the expression on her face. "Everyone uses you?"

"Hermione!" pleaded Harry, now fully understanding. "I had to sell the toad on my tortured state."

"You could have said everyone but Hermione!" spat Hermione. "Didn't even cross your mind, did it Boy-Who-Lived?"

"Hermione Granger," growled Harry "we have other priorities at hand." He gripped Hermione by both shoulders. "However, if I ever forget to exclude you from my list of people who use me for gain again, I give you full permission to hex me."

"How sweet. You think I need your permission to hex you." said Hermione, smirking and causing Harry to smirk.

"Save it mates." said Fred.

"For the honeymoon." said George, sighing and batting his eyes.

"While you two were spatting." said Fred.

"Old Fudgy answered the toad." said George.

"Answered her." retorted Harry. "What did she ask him?"

"She flooed him to tell him about your session tonight." replied Hermione. "We were in the midst of reading when you scared Ron."

"What did we miss?" asked Ron dismissively.

"Well, it seems that old Fudgy is all for training the prodigy." said George.

"And commended her for gaining the trust of the Boy-Who-Lied, I mean Lived." said Fred with an evil grin.

"Excellent." said Harry. "You three keep her busy, I'll keep her dreaming of whatever political aspirations, and she'll never even know what's going on until it's over."

"Keep her busy?" repeated Fred.

"You underestimate us mate." said George.

"We won't stop." said Fred.

"Until we drive the toad totally mad." said Ron, smiling sadistically.


Ginny blinked rapidly as she opened her eyes, sat up, and began to look around. She had expected to see the cold stone walls of a prison or dungeon, but instead was staring at an old yet regal bedroom. The air smelt musty, as though the room had been shut up for ages. The dark tapestries and black cherry furniture made her think of when she visited her great aunt's home.

Suddenly, the door to the bedroom opened and sheer panic flooded the youngest Weasley. In walked Bellatrix Lestrange, like something from her worst nightmares; confident and proud with a sense of power in her cold eyes.

"Glad to see you're awake." said Bellatrix in a softer tone than Ginny had anticipated.

"Wh-What d-do y-you plan to do to me?" stammered Ginny, failing to mask her fear.

"Right now, I intend to take you downstairs and feed you." replied Bellatrix, pulling a chair from the vanity and sitting down. "But first, I think we need to talk."

"Why did you abduct me?" asked Ginny, trying to press past the false pleasantries.

"We rescued you, dear." said Bellatrix in a kind tone that did not match her eyes. "The Ministry was preparing to send you to Azkaban for a murder you never committed and my ignorant cousin wasn't doing a fair job on your behalf."

"Rescued?" repeated Ginny. "I'm supposed to believe that you came there to rescue me?"

"You're a bright young witch from a pure bloodline that has gotten caught in a web of politics and power struggles." said Bellatrix. "The Ministry set you up to take the fall so that they could oust Albus Dumbledore."

"Why would you care what happens to a blood traitor like me?" spat Ginny, finding her courage.

"You're too young to be held responsible for the mistakes of your family." replied Bellatrix. "We rescued you because you shouldn't have to rot in Azkaban like I did."

"You were in Azkaban because you destroyed Neville's parents." said Ginny with all the venom she could muster. "He told me what you did to them!"

"He told you what he was told." retorted Bellatrix. "I was forced to do what I had to do. The Longbottoms were good Aurors, but they were too foolish to know when the fight was over. They would have killed us if I had relented. I refused to use the Killing curse and because they refused to give in, they suffered the price."

"You can't fool me!" spat Ginny. "I know what you are!"

"Foolish girl." said Bellatrix in a silkily dangerous tone. "Do you really think I care what you think? Do you really think I care what you've heard about me? I only answer to the Dark Lord; him only do I serve. I care not of what others say. He cares for me, for I am his most trusted and faithful. He protects me from all those that would persecute me for upholding the Laws of Magic and protecting our world."

"Laws of magic?" repeated Ginny, unable to control herself.

"Yes, girl. The Laws of Magic are what our world is founded on." said Bellatrix. "They are what the Dark Lord is going to re-establish; he will finish the work of Salazar Slytherin. Over a thousand years ago the race of witches and wizards was strong in the world. We were the pinnacle of the human race and balanced the structure of nature. This structure was held in place by the Laws of Magic. The Laws dictated that in order to preserve the power of our magical core, we must stay pure and that all Muggleborn witches and wizards must marry amongst themselves until the line reached three generations. Once the male line reached three generations, it was considered pure and strong enough to support marrying other pure lines without weakening the line. The Laws also state that the marrying of any Muggle was illegal as it would weaken the line."

"That's insane." said Ginny weakly. "Dictating who you can marry by blood status is – is –"

"Medieval is the word I believe you are searching for." interjected Bellatrix. "People call it that because it's the only thing negative they can say about it. Truth is, it makes sense and most people think it invades their freedom to do whatever the bloody hell they want. In my opinion, marrying regardless of blood status is as bad as murder without cause."

"So you believe yourself better than any Muggleborn?" asked Ginny boldly.

"Not better, child; stronger." replied Bellatrix. "Name one Muggleborn that is stronger than the strongest of wizards in their generation?"

"Hermione Granger." replied Ginny without hesitation.

"Ah, Granger." repeated Bellatrix. "Just because she is good at casting spells and perfecting the method does not mean that she is more powerful. Tell me, is she more powerful than Potter?"

Ginny did not answer, but merely stared at the grin that was slowly creeping up the face of her capture. She knew that Harry was more powerful than Hermione, but that did not make what Bellatrix was saying right either.

"Do you believe that You-Know-Who is trying to do good?" asked Ginny as bravely as she could in the face of madness.

"Foolish girl. There is no good or evil; only power and those too weak to use it." replied Bellatrix. "The Dark Lord will rescue the wizarding world from itself and from Potter."

"Rescue the world from Potter?" repeated Ginny incredulously.

She was tired, hungry, and starting to get confused.

"That's enough for now." said Bellatrix, spying Ginny's face. "We will have much more time to talk. Right now, you look as though you need some nourishment. Go wash up then we'll go downstairs together."

Ginny rose unsteadily then slowly proceeded to the bathroom. If she hadn't been so busy staying upright, she would have noticed the sinister grin that had appeared on Bellatrix Lestrange's face.


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