The Sugar Quill
Author: B. Nonymous (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Mischief Managed  Chapter: Discussion
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Mischief Managed. - B. Nonymous

Mischief Managed.

Thanks to Mrs. Nonymous for help with the Common Room scene. (You'll see! :)

Discussion

The Owlery buzzed with activity. Eleven o'clock in the evening was prime hunting time for many of its denizens. When Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Professor McGonagall walked in, they kept an eye open for sudden swooshes and for rare, but annoying, owl droplets. Ron and Harry took an additional step forward, and took turns shouting.

"Oi, Pig!" shouted Ron, in the same tone of voice he used to cheer his Chudley Cannons when they played.

"Hedwig?!" called Harry, much more softly than Ron. Harry knew that Hedwig responded better to the subtle than to the grotesque.

Without warning, a fluffy blur flew a figure-eight around Professor McGonagall's and Hermione's heads. The blur, Ron's owl Pigwidgeon, landed on Ron's shoulder. The owl started hopping up and down and hooting - his peculiar way of showing enthusiasm.

"Relax, you bloody fuzzball." Ron winced as he remembered both Hermione and Professor McGonagall were with him, but he continued, "Meet me in my room. I've got to write something to Fred and George."

Pigwidgeon took off, did three circles around Ron's head, and then flew up the steep heights of the Owlery. A larger, more graceful snowy owl landed directly on Harry's shoulder after Pigwidgeon left the Owlery. Seeing the crowd, Hedwig was determined to show grace and restraint - perhaps attempting to be an antidote to the immature antics of Pigwidgeon.

Harry gently stroked Hedwig before speaking. "Do you mind carrying a message from us to Ron's parents?"

Hedwig gently nipped Harry's hand before taking off. Harry knew that Hedwig would fly to her perch in Harry's room in Gryffindor Tower, and wait there for Harry to tie any note or parcel to her leg for delivery.

. . .

Professor McGonagall led Harry, Ron, and Hermione up the stairs of Gryffindor Tower. She paused at the portrait of the Fat Lady, and turned around.

"Try and get some sleep, you three - even though I know you'll be talking more than sleeping this evening. Miss Granger, if you would do the honors..."

"Rebirth," spoke Hermione to the Fat Lady, as McGonagall trekked back down the stairs. The password was one of many phoenix-related phrases for Gryffindor this year. Almost all of the Gryffindors thought that the passwords were just a way of acknowledging fellow Gryffindor Professor Dumbledore's pet. Out of all of the Gryffindor students, only Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Ron's sister Ginny knew that the real reason was because the Order of the Phoenix had arisen from the ashes of Lord Voldemort's terror. Only two other students - one Hufflepuff, and one Slytherin - also knew of the reborn Order and its activities.

Harry, Ron, and Hermione quickly and quietly sat down in the Gryffindor Common Room. They were all relieved that, at least for the moment, nobody else was in there. Ron and Hermione shared a space on the large sofa, and after glancing at each other uncomfortably, reached to join hands. Harry, sitting on a large padded leather chair, gazed at their clasped hands and spoke.

"Took you two long enough," said Harry, raising his eyebrows as he glanced at Hermione, and then at Ron.

Ron blushed, and so did Hermione. Ron quickly changed the subject.

"Do you think Sc... I keep saying Scabbers. Do you think Wormtail killed himself? I mean that house looked pretty burned up."

"I don't think he did. Harry, didn't he do the same thing when," Hermione looked around and dropped her voice to a near-whisper, "he framed Sirius and murdered those people?"

Harry nodded his head in agreement. "I reckon he did exactly that. He's still a slimy git, even though he saved us."

Hermione replied, "But he did save us, Harry. He must have finally remembered who his friends really were - you know, in the map."

Harry crunched his face, "I don't trust him. When he confesses his crimes... then I'll trust him."

Ron lit up when Harry mentioned the word "confess". "If he says he killed those Muggles, the Ministry will have to believe You-Know-Who..."

"Say his name, Ron," Harry said with annoyance - he knew Ron only slipped occasionally now.

"...Voldemort has returned." Ron's voice and head lowered. "Even Percy will believe..."

Hermione grabbed Ron's other hand, turning him to face her in the process. "Percy will believe! You know how he is about rules. And it's not like he's Crouch."

Ron tried to believe Hermione, but he let his anger get the better of him for a second, "Only because he hasn't turned in Fred and George!" Ron's changed the subject again, "I need to thank those two for the Creams. They saved our lives as much as Wormtail did."

Harry looked sober, but his green eyes showed a bit of hope, "I hope our friends can find him before Voldemort does."

Before Hermione or Ron could reply, they were interrupted by the opening door, and a surprised scream of happiness.

"You're back!" shouted a haggard-looking red-headed girl.

"GINNY!" shouted Ron and Hermione in unison.

"Good to see you, Ginny," said Harry, turning around to face her.

All three of them stood up as Ginny dropped her large pile of books and ran over to them. She hugged Ron, kissing him on the cheek in a way that reminded Harry of Mrs. Weasley. She hugged Hermione, and Hermione whispered something into Ginny's ear that made her giggle and look at Ron briefly. She then hugged Harry, kissing him on the cheek in a way that did not remind Harry of Mrs. Weasley at all. Harry, dazed from his ordeal, did not think to extrapolate further from his observation.

"What happened?" asked Ginny. "Professor Dumbledore didn't say anything at the feast, and there were rumors about kidnapping, or that there was another troll in the dungeon, or..."

"We were transported to Voldemort," said Hermione softly. Ginny winced slightly, in a manner similar to Ron.

As Hermione spoke, several people came down the stairs of Gryffindor Tower. Voices started shouting, "They're back," and "All three of them, look!" Soon, the common room was packed to capacity as Harry, Ron, and Hermione stood in the middle of the crowd and started to recount their five-hour ordeal at the Riddle Mansion.

During the part where Harry talked about the Cruciatus Curse, Neville Longbottom stood up and pushed his way through the crowd, heading upstairs. The look on his face as he left, however, was not one of fear, but one of eagerness. Noticing this, Harry paused, but then continued. The rest of the room never noticed Neville's departure as Harry told of being trapped by six dementors for several hours.

Ron and Hermione then continued, explaining how one of Lord Voldemort's Death Eaters took pity and set them free. They chose not to go into details about the Death Eater being the same man who framed Sirius Black. They did not wish to reveal any of the secrets with which they were entrusted. Ron described how he retrieved the long-lasting Canary Creams before the dementors who were guarding Harry started to surround them.

"It was weird. After they dropped Hermione, they seemed to want the Death Eater," noted a puzzled Ron.

"It was awful. I've never felt so frightened and hopeless in all my life. If our Patroni hadn't worked as well as they did, I don't know what we would have done," added Hermione.

Harry grinned evilly, "You never did explain to me how you managed to conjure such Patroni. It took me weeks with Professor Lupin, and don't tell me you learned it in Figg's class last year. You must've had some really happy thoughts."

Several sixth-year Gryffindors laughed. Only Harry had been able to conjure a Patronus in Defense Against the Dark Arts class with Professor Figg.

Ron's ears turned pink as he glanced at a blushing Hermione. "We've been... practicing."

Harry would not hear of it. "Bollocks, Weasley. We've been so busy at Quidditch, you haven't been able to do your regular work."

Pavarti giggled, "Practicing what? Hermione, don't hold out on us!"

Hermione's eyes grew wide as the task fell to her to explain just what had happened. She glanced around and stammered, "Well... we... um... remembered all of the tough times we've come through. Like the troll..."

"Yeah, yeah. The troll!" shouted Ron, like a drowning man clinging to a deflating life-raft.

"And where was this memory during Mrs. Figg's class?!" asked Harry slyly. He still called her Mrs. Figg as he had since his childhood.

"Um... um... well, this summer," Ron's mind cast about wildly, searching for something... anything.

Ginny started to speak, but then caught Hermione's eyes and looked down.

Seamus jumped in with a theory, "Fred & George moved out, and you got their room."

A look of relief spread across Ron's face. "Yeah, that's it. It's further away from the ghoul, y'know."

Harry grinned again, "Ahh, okay. And Hermione? I suppose you're going to tell us about your summer holiday with your parents."

Hermione grimaced. "No... actually, I thought of... my Transfiguration O.W.L., and how I knew there would be a section on Animagus law."

A ripple of laughter spread through the room. Everyone knew how obsessively Hermione studied.

After a nudge from Pavarti, Lavender spoke up. "C'mon, you two. You don't actually expect us to believe that those are happy thoughts, do you?"

"Yeah," chimed in Pavarti, "we already know. Just say it."

"Say what?" asked Ron indignantly.

Hermione glanced at Harry, her eyes begging for help. Harry's eyes danced mischievously, but he said nothing.

Hermione sighed. "We, um..."

Ron looked at the floor and mumbled, "kissed."

Dennis Creevey shouted from the back of the common room, "What?!? What did you do?"

Dean Thomas threw himself in, "Yeah, speak up for the young folks. They need to hear this too!"

Ron huffed in exasperation, finally losing it. "We KISSED, okay!"

Ron's face was so red, his freckles disappeared. Hermione resembled a beet. The whole Gryffindor Common Room filled with catcalls, giggles, and a few mumblings of "finally."

A group of fifth- and sixth-year girls instantly huddled and began whispering. Seamus gave Ron a high-five, congratulating him. Harry just smiled, knowing that Ron and Hermione would get back at him somehow. Ginny rolled her eyes, glad she did not partake in any of the tomfoolery.

It took the room several minutes to calm down before Harry, Ron, and Hermione could finish their story. As they recounted their experiences as canaries flying to Professor Lupin's house, Neville returned with a cup in his hand. He managed to squeeze his way up to Harry, and held out the cup, containing an orange liquid percolating with small, but distinct, bubbles.

"Drink this. I've been working on it with Professor Sprout and Professor Wollenstone." Professor Wollenstone was both the new head of Slytherin House and the new Potions professor. His curatives were known throughout the magical world, and the fame they brought him seemed to satisfy his Slytherin-bred ambition. He reminded many students of Professor Lockhart, but with actual ability to back up his arrogance.

Harry looked at the potion, and then drank it. He looked at the empty cup, then at Neville, and then at his fingers, which he moved with greater ease than he had before he drank the potion. Since Ron and Hermione were addressing the crowd, he decided to talk with Neville.

"Thanks. What is this?"

Neville looked bashful. "Deadening Draft. It's supposed to selectively numb the nerve endings for pain."

Neville stumbled over his next sentence, "Cruciatus victims have lots of residual pain in their nerve endings. This draft helps them."

Harry knew why Neville was spending his spare time on this potion. His parents were in their fourteenth year in St. Mungo's Cruciatus ward - terminally insane from repeated applications of the Cruciatus Curse. Neville had told the rest of Gryffindor about this during their fifth year. When Professor Snape mysteriously disappeared in the middle of fifth year, Neville started to gain more confidence in Potions. His already formidable knowledge of Herbology, especially of curative plants, made him a favorite student of Professor Wollenstone.

Ginny let Neville take her place near the storytelling trio. She yawned, and smiled at Harry.

"It's 11:30. I've been studying for hours", she said, pulling a little chain around her neck and winking at Hermione. "I should sack out."

Ginny was spending the first half of the year doing what Hermione had done in her third year - taking double lessons with the aid of a Time-Turner. Unlike Hermione, who had done it out of academic enthusiasm, Ginny was using the Time-Turner to catch up on missed lessons from fourth year. Around the same time Snape went missing, Hogwarts suffered an invasion of dementors. Several students spent hours reliving the worst moments of their lives. Ginny - having been subjected to far greater evils than most - spent the rest of her fourth year recovering in the hospital wing. With her Ordinary Wizarding Levels coming up this year, she had to make sure she was adequately prepared.

Harry smiled at Ginny as she turned around and headed upstairs. He kept looking at her as she climbed out of his sight. Harry suddenly winced in severe pain and groaned loudly, balling his left hand into a fist and gripping his forehead with his right hand. He closed his eyes and could sense anger, fury, and slight betrayal. Harry opened his eyes, and all eyes focused on him.

"He's back. And he knows about Wormtail."

Keep those comments coming, please! Enjoy the next chapter (which should be up within a week of this one) - Displeasure.
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