Sign of the Lion
Chapter 10 - Slapdash
The Common Room lacked any students below fourth year while the older ones scribbled on parchment furiously. Ron, for once, appeared to be attempting his homework the night after receiving it. Most unusually, there was no sight of Hermione but Ron had pointed out that she might prefer the library. He was convinced that she was doing it so she didn't have to help them with their work.
Harry had his own problems - he had essays from both Transfiguration and Potions to finish by the end of the week. Any notes he'd made on the Transaxle Transformation swam before his eyes until he put them out of sight. Just when he thought he'd go mad in the silence, though there were many others in the room, the portrait swung open and admitted two giggling girls.
"What a toad!" exclaimed Alex, gasping for breath. "Detention for a week!"
Siobhan jumped into a vacated chair and sighed dramatically. "All because we failed to clean every desk in the Charms corridor within three hours."
Harry looked over at them and shook his head, trying to remember what the properties of a bezoar were. It didn't surprise him that he didn't actually know what it was. He gave up on the essay as Hermione came down the staircase to the girls' dormitories, carrying the lion book distinctly, a look of concentration on her face. Ron set aside his quill and yawned. "Excellent, you can help me with - "
Hermione frowned at him before he could finish the sentence and perched the lion book on top of Harry's stack of notes. Ron reached over and flicked through a few pages, looking puzzled. He pushed the book back at Harry. "You bought a book full of poems, mate."
"They're not poems," Hermione corrected patiently. "They're predictions. There is a possibility that this Jarvis Trelawney has at least some connection with the fraud that teaches Divination."
Harry looked through the book himself slowly. He didn't think that Professor Trelawney could have spoken any more than two prophecies, if he was inclined to believe Dumbledore. Though, why should he? The Headmaster had been wary of him without reason all of the year before. Harry turned to Ron, who was avoiding any eye contact with Hermione. "Do you remember when Umbridge asked Professor Trelawney if she was related to a Cassandra Trelawney?"
"Yes...so?" Ron smirked as he thought back to it.
"So," Hermione answered instead, "Cassandra Trelawney was a trusted seer and rarely interpreted her predictions incorrectly. This book must be fairly old. It surprises me that it turned up at Flourish and Blotts and remained there."
Ron looked dubiously at her. "I thought you didn't believe in that kind of stuff."
Wisely choosing not to comment, Hermione thoughtfully tucked the book under her arm and disappeared up into her dormitory. Ron waited until she was out of sight then thrust some parchment in front of Harry. "Do you know anything about the Giant Wars?"
Hermione arrived later than them at breakfast the next morning, looking pleased with herself. She sat down and reached for some toast. "Professor McGonagall has given us permission to use the Great Hall for DA."
Ron spat out some juice. "You asked her?"
"Of course," Hermione said calmly. "I expect it will be just enough room."
Harry wiped Ron's mess with a serviette and said warily, "I think there'll be more than enough room for the DA in here, Hermione."
Siobhan McPherson burst into the Great Hall and virtually screamed, "A Duelling Club! Cool, Harry!"
Ron and Harry exchanged aggravated looks. Hermione didn't say anything, preferring to pick apart the food on her plate with apparent enthusiasm. Those in the Great Hall who had not yet read the notice looked over at the three of them in excited interest.
"You invited the whole school?" demanded Ron in disbelief.
Hermione ignored him and smiled at those looking. Before any argument could take place, Harry quickly asked, "Have you found anything else about the book?"
Pleased that at least he hadn't forgotten about it, Hermione pulled out the book in question. She selected a marked page and showed it to Harry triumphantly. Harry read it then looked up, puzzled. He didn't understand why she was showing him that particular prophecy.
"Don't you recognise it?" Hermione said earnestly. "It's what the Sorting Hat sang at the feast."
And so it was. Ron, deciding that he didn't like this train of conversation, nudged Harry in the ribs and pointed towards the Ravenclaw table. "See that tall blonde girl there? Name's Arisa Quintly. Just heard that she's been accepted as a Ravenclaw Chaser without a try out."
Harry gave him a perplexed look. "And I wanted to know that because?"
"You're Quidditch Captain," Ron grumbled, annoyed. "You're supposed to figure out how we knock them off their brooms."
Harry and Ron had just left the entrance hall to make their way down to N.E.W.T. Care of Magical Creatures when Hermione caught up to them, breathless. She waved the lion book in front of them while struggling to speak.
"Aren't you supposed to be going to Ancient Runes?" Ron asked, dumbfounded.
Hermione said breathlessly, slamming the book into Harry's hands, "Here, take it. You'll get away with reading it."
She then sprinted back into the castle and disappeared. Harry stuffed the book into his robes and rubbed his sore hands. With Ron, he walked down to Hagrid's hut where a group of students were congregated. Harry noticed, relieved, that there were no Slytherins in the class. Taking advantage of Hagrid's lateness, he opened the book to where Hermione had left a short note.
She thought the prophecy had to do with him. Harry snorted. He really needed another one, sure. He scanned the prophecy slowly, trying to see what obviously Hermione saw. Her note adamantly made reference to the mark he had on his arm. Giving up, Harry tucked the book away as Hagrid appeared from behind the hut.
"You should tell Dumbledore," Hermione pressed the moment she saw Harry - during compulsory Charms.
To Harry's annoyance, Ron didn't try to argue on his behalf. Harry was bothered by the way they kept going on about it. He was dreading the mayhem that usually accompanied Flitwick's class - Hermione and Ron would be able to send more comments his way. Just as he'd thought, Neville Longbottom (who always had some trouble or other with his wand skills), mispronounced one syllable in a basic revision of the Accio charm and watched in horror as plants sprouted from the walls, floor and ceiling.
Harry was separated from Ron and Hermione by a thick forest of mandrakes. Pushing past a growling Begonia, he went floundering into Neville who had lost his grip on his wand. Harry caught him as he fell. "Are you alright?"
"I didn't mean to!" Neville said immediately. "I thought I said it right."
Harry dodged as a purple flower spat thorns at him, hissing when it missed. He kept a hold on the back of Neville's robes so that the boy wouldn't get into any more trouble. "Don't move! Flitwick'll have it fixed in no time."
The stuttering of their Charms professor disagreed. A huge vine was hanging him upside down above the class. Harry sighed, remembering that his wand was at his desk - if it was still there. He just hoped no one would notice. Pushing a squirming Neville in front of him, he flicked a hand.
"Move!" a voice cried and Harry realised it was his own.
The plants struggled violently, but wilted into a corner. Flitwick, once again touching the ground, reversed the spell and breathlessly looked around at the speechless class. He squeaked, "Who was it that caused the plants to retreat? A worthy tactic!"
But no one was holding their wands, all of which lying in various places around the room. Quietly, Harry picked up his wand and slid it into his pocket. Thus it was a confused Professor Flitwick that saw the class out. None of the students noticed that the teacher looked at each of them carefully, even with a small amount of suspicion.
"That was a fun revision lesson," Ron commented lightly as they ate lunch.
He seemed to find it funny, but Hermione was scowling at Harry. She told him severely, "You could have at least let Professor Flitwick handle it rather than flaunt it in front of the class."
Harry rolled his eyes, spearing a sandwich with his fork so hard that it broke in two. Hermione opened her mouth to further discussion, but the arrival of Siobhan distracted her. Pursing her lips in a way that reminded Harry of Aunt Petunia, she poured over an Arithmancy text.
"So, Harry." Siobhan beamed. "What are you teaching us tonight?"
Ron said around a mouthful of food, "How to say Accio right."
Siobhan gave him an odd look then went in an exuberant whoop at the sight of her cousin, Seamus, who turned to walk the way he had come as soon as he saw her. When the excited first year was out of ear shot, Hermione turned back to Harry. "You're becoming careless. Can you imagine what Voldemort would do if he heard that Harry Potter was doing wandless magic?"
"Don't say that name," gritted Ron. "Who cares if Harry's a bit slapdash*? Give You-Know-Who something to sweat about."
Privately, Harry agreed.
That evening, Hermione found Harry in front of the fire in the deserted common room. She made an impatient sound and gestured around at the empty room. "Are you going to come down or not? The only reason everyone is there is that you lead the DA."
"Yay," Harry said gloomily, but got up anyway.
He smothered a yawn and picked up his wand. "Where are we again? The Great Hall was it?"
Hermione was about to confirm this when Harry took a hold of her elbow and the next moment they were in the Entrance Hall. Hermione was beside herself.
"Harry!" she seethed. "You don't just Apparate in plain view of everyone."
The accused looked around at the empty area with a smirk. "Here I was thinking you'd say 'You can't Apparate or Disapparate in the school grounds'."
Hermione did not answer. She led him into the Great Hall where at once the buzz of many students talking swamped over both of them. Harry was certain that the whole school was waiting expectantly for his arrival. Notably, Tonks was on hand. Probably in case I do something stupid, thought Harry crossly. He supposed Dumbledore put her up to it.
A hush had fallen over the students and they looked at him excitedly. Harry had a sudden urge to run the opposite direction, much like Seamus did whenever Siobhan was near. He swallowed and walked up to a raised platform. Hermione would have pushed him if he hadn't. Harry had a sudden feeling of nausea and wondered if his dinner was going to jump straight back out again.
"Um, hi," he managed and mentally cursed himself. "Some of you might remember the, er, Duelling Club we had some time ago and that it wasn't much help..."
Feeling stupid, he was surprised to find that his audience was rapt. Tonks made to give him the thumbs up but decided against anything which might make her topple over.
Harry cleared his throat. "Last year, I formed a group called the DA, which stands for...uh...Dumbledore's Army." Someone sniggered. "And we practised some defence spells..." Catching Hermione's eye, he suddenly lit on an idea. Harry forced a smile to his face. "Tonight, those who were in DA last year and I will assist you with the proper usage of the Expelliarmus spell."
He saw Neville go bright red as the Great Hall became a noisy din once more. Harry was not surprised to find that Malfoy and his cronies were nowhere in sight. He hopped down and went over to Hermione who had made no moves to organise anything. Harry muttered in her ear, "Tell the DA there's a meeting in the Room of Requirement afterwards."
Hermione nodded and was lost in a sea of people. He then sought Tonks, who was standing flat against one wall and plainly hoping to be invisible.
"Come on," Harry persisted, "we need some adult influence."
Tonks pushed up a mop of brown hair. "More like comic relief."
Harry weaved through students turning their wands on each other under at least some supervision. After he dodged a second wayward blast, he decided that things were getting out of hand. He tried shouting, but this drove him hoarse.
"Sonorous," he muttered, then shouted without much effort, "STOP!"
Jumping back onto the platform, Harry proceeded to explain that to work, the wand must be pointed*at* the intended person and that it be pronounced properly. Before he knew it, the hour was up and he heaved a sigh of relief. Watching the students forward out, Harry got down off the platform and made his way along the corridors to the Room of Requirement.