Harry Potter wondered why he was in the position for some of the things that he would. Hermione, in her grand wisdom, thought that it would be a good idea to teach a bunch students Defense Against the Dark Arts. Granted, Harry thought that it was a halfway decent idea, given that the Ministry had decided to ruin their education just to spite Harry and Dumbledore. And Fudge had been a paranoid bastard who had Lucius Malfoy constantly whispering in his ear.
Harry doubted Fudge even needed the Imperius Curse to follow Malfoy's discreet suggestions. The almighty Galleon was big enough, to be honest.
"So, I think that we should….figure out something, where it's the best for all of us," Hermione said. She seemed a bit more nervous, a little less confident, and Harry thought that it was healthy for her. She was called the smartest witch of her age so often that she was starting to believe it and believing her own hype never was a good thing.
"So, I guess that's, that," Harry said. He was going to have a long talk with Hermione later about what a couple of people meant. And after he had that long time, he was not speaking to her for at least a week.
"Well, not quite," Hermione answered. She frowned. "I need you to sign something, all of you…to make sure that we'll all agree not to tell anyone, especially, Professor Umbridge."
Susan Bones opened her mouth. "And what are you having us sign?"
Hermione looked at her and Padma Patil added. "Yeah, I mean, I trust you and all Hermione…but I don't trust you enough to sign a piece of paper without knowing what the piece of paper is all about."
"It's just…a sign of trust, a pact that we won't tell Dolores Umbridge anything," Hermione answered.
"There's something you don't want to tell us, isn't there?" Zacharias Smith asked.
Harry frowned. Douchebag as he may be, Smith did have a point. Several sets of eyes looked towards him.
"Don't look at me, whatever she's doing, she didn't run it by me," Harry said.
Some of the students looked a bit too uncertain. Luna whistled nonchalantly, but at the same time, she gave Hermione a slightly disappointed look.
Ginny cleared her throat. "Hermione, what are you doing?"
"I just think it would be for the best for us to sign this, that's all," Hermione said.
"Hermione, my aunt is the head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement," Susan commented. "And one of the biggest things she's drilled into my head is that you never sign a magically binding contact, without full knowledge of the consequences."
"Seemed to work well in the Triwizard Tournament," Harry spoke up nonchalantly. "Just as well as someone being placed in the tournament that didn't put their name in their in the first place."
"If you would have backed out of the first task, you would have not had any consequences, providing that you didn't enter sign your name to the piece of paper," Susan said. "If it was a magically created copy of your handwriting, it would have been voided too….but when you agreed to compete in the first task, that was just as good as a contract."
"Funny enough, I never knew that," Harry said.
Neville frowned. "Dumbledore never told you about that?"
"You'd be surprised how much Dumbledore doesn't tell me, Neville," Harry said.
"And here on thought that Harry Potter was an Albus Dumbledore guy," Megan Jones said. She could see Harry's agitated stare. "I guess not."
"You guessed wrong," Harry said. He frowned. "Susan, can I ask you a question? Since…you might know because of your aunt."
"Um, yes, I guess," Susan said. She felt a little flushed about having to answer a question for Harry Potter.
"Shouldn't I have gotten someone to defend me at that farce of a trial?" Harry asked. "You know, like a lawyer or an attorney or some kind of defender?"
"Dumbledore mentioned that you waived your right, and his testimony was all that you needed, at least that's what I heard Aunt Amelia telling Andromeda Tonks," Susan said. Harry said. "Not true?"
"No bloody way," Harry grumbled.
"I thought it might be, because any kind of defender would have gotten the charges thrown out before you got to full court," Susan said. "And….I'm really surprised that you haven't went after the Daily Prophet."
"What you mean for slander?" Harry asked.
"Harry, it's not slander if it's in print," Luna said nonchalantly. "It's libel."
"Oh, thanks, Luna," Harry said.
"I hate to say this, but we're getting off of the subject," Ginny said. She could see Hermione flinching at the attention being directed back towards her. "What are we signing?"
"I told you it's an agreement that we say that we're to tell anyone, Umbridge, especially," Hermione said.
"Yes, but that doesn't stop any of us from walking out of here right now and not signing and going straight to Umbridge's office and telling her right now," Padma said. She got her share of cross looks and she sighed. "I won't do that, but someone could in theory. Do you really think that you could stop them, Hermione?"
"But, you'd be in trouble for being at the meeting in the first place," Hermione protested.
"Yes," Luna commented. "But no."
Luna shook her head. For the smartest girl of her age, Hermione could be completely and utterly bloody stupid sometimes. Well not book stupid, more like common sense stupid. But common sense really shouldn't be called common sense, because it really wasn't too common now closely. And she could be as close minded as your average pureblood was.
"I'm sure that she'd be over the moon that someone got the dirt on that nasty liar Harry Potter," George said.
"Yes, she'd cream her panties in delight," Fred said. That caused a good eighty percent of the group to recoil in absolute horror..
"Oh, thanks for the image, Fred," Ginny groaned.
"No problem, sis," Fred said, patting her on the head and Ginny scowled.
"Point does stand, she would think that we're doing our civic duty and being extremely brave to support the Ministry in the face of that dangerous delusional lunatic Harry Potter," Megan chimed in.
"Megan does have a point," Ernie said. "We could all walk out of here, leaving you with your trousers down."
Hermione didn't know what to do. This wasn't going the way that she thought that this was supposed to go. It threw her completely out of her comfort zone.
She looked towards Harry. Harry smiled and casually leaned back in the chair. He gave her a look that said "okay, you're so smart, have fun digging yourself out of this mess."
"The contract….has a curse on it," Hermione said.
"What kind of curse?" Padma asked.
"Well….we'll know who told on us right away, because it will mark them," Hermione said. Everyone looked at her. "It will write the word sneak on their face in disgusting pimples that ooze puss."
Susan raised her hand and palmed herself on the face. "Oh, Hermione."
"What?" Hermione asked.
"First of all, the earlier point of you not being able to stop us from walking out of here still stands," Susan said.
"The second point is, the contract doesn't stop you from telling the person, it just causes them to be disfigured horrifically," Ginny said.
"Well, what would you have me do?" Hermione asked.
"Oh, maybe a spell to tie their tongue," Padma answered.
"Or a spell to cause them to forget where they were going if they ever tried to tell Umbridge," Cho said. "You know, like the Muggle repelling spells on the school, only modified slightly. I'm sure that you know about those."
"Of course, I do," Hermione said.
"Well, it's simple to modify a spell," Luna commented.
"I've never modified a spell before that's….that's….it's just not done," Hermione stammered.
"It's done all of the time, how do you think spells get created?" Padma asked.
Hermione looked like a fish out of water, opening her mouth and closing it. She looked at Harry, helpfully.
"Harry, what do you think we should do?" Ginny asked.
Harry frowned. "The contract was a sound idea, even if the execution was sloppy and unrefined, Miss Granger."
Hermione wanted to punch Harry, even more so because she knew that he had a point.
"I think that Cho's idea has a lot of merit," Harry said. Cho looked utterly smug that Harry said that she had a better idea than Hermione Granger. "So, is there anyone here that can pull it off?"
"I can," a voice said. They all turned around and saw Daphne Greengrass, who was standing in the shadows with her friends Tracey Davis and Lillian Moon, along with her younger sister Astoria.
"It's a Slytherin!" Ron yelled, getting up to his feet. Ginny smacked him hard and forced him to sit down.
"If anyone asks, you're adopted," Ginny said.
"Wow, you're quick, took you only five years to figure that out," Daphne said. "Hello, Potter."
"Greengrass," Harry said. He smiled. "So, I guess you overheard all of that."
"Enough," Daphne said. "But, I believe we have a mutually beneficial partnership for us. Umbridge's….methods could be a problem to my future career goals. While she will be gone in year, I figure that she'll do damage to my education."
She fixed her eyes on Hermione.
"I think even you might agree that your hero Lockhart did more than enough damage with his glorified PR tour during our second year," Daphne said. Hermione didn't say anything. "The four of us, we'd like to get in on this group…..but only if we have a fool proof way to weed out people who might get cold feet."
Daphne sat down at the table, pulling her wand out. She cast a series of charms on the paper and pulled out a second one.
"There are two contracts here," she explained. "If you don't want to be a part of it, if you feel that you would jeopardize your families standing in the Ministry, sign this one. You'll wake up in the morning with a beautiful headache and this meeting will be the furthest thing from your mind."
"You mean…you're going to modify their memories," Hermione said.
"Yes, it doesn't have the sophistication of your pimple problem, but it will do in a pinch," Daphne said shrewdly. "The other contract offers the same principle, with the curse kicking in if you have a serious intent of going turning us in to Umbridge. The headache won't be as beautiful though."
She pointed out the contracts. Green paper meant go and the red paper meant go.
"I trust that's sufficient for you, Potter," Daphne said.
"Yes, that is, thank you," Harry said.
Everyone lined up, and signed the green paper, except for Cho's friend. Cho looked at her, in surprise.
"I kind of made her come in the first place," Cho said, shaking her head. She was only trying to help Marietta, but it was obvious that she wasn't too into this. And she seemed jealous every time she talked to Harry, and also when she was Cedric last year.
"That might have not been the best idea, her mother is a Fudge backer and she's in close with Professor Umbridge," Susan said.
"Sometimes our friends aren't as stable as we think that they are," Daphne answered. "But sometimes, they define who you are."
Everyone, but Cho's friend signed the paper.
"Harry, do you think that I can have a word with you?" Susan asked. "If it's okay with Hermione."
"She doesn't speak for me, it's fine," Harry said crisply. Hermione opened her mouth to protest, but Harry silenced her before she could even protest. "I'll see you later."
Hermione slumped her shoulders and everyone left, leaving her alone with Ron.
She thought that it would be much better off to be alone.