Chapter Thirteen: Romeo and Juliet
The rest of Harry's first week passed in a rush of timetables, homework and revision booklets. He spent first lesson on Wednesday in the library with Hermione, doing more research for his Potions project, and Snape even checked it for him when he got back to class. History of Magic was dull as ever, though the entire year had their first Miscellaneous Magic class straight after break. Professor Pebblebank, today in very wide-legged blue trousers and a t-shirt with a glittery star on the front, took them through details of what they'd be doing during the year. It seemed there had been some sort of problem at the ministry of magic, and somebody had tried to pass a law banning the classes. They could only start properly learning in a month, and so until then, the hour would be free-time for them to do homework and research things they'd like to learn about. Hermione simply quivered with excitement next to Harry. Everybody else seemed very interested too, even Draco, who sat forward intently when Professor Pebblebank got onto the part about Chinese Dragon magic.
"My father taught me some," he explained. "The summer before he was taken away."
After that, Harry had Transfiguration. Professor McGonagall was straight into preparation for their first project, and Harry was pleased to completely transfigure his turtle into a rabbit by the end of the lesson. Professor McGonagall explained that human transfiguration would be taught to them throughout the project, and they had to break the gap between different species first.
In Care of Magical Creatures, they were getting more things ready for the imminent arrival of the dragons. Hagrid had them all slicing up great steaks made from what were probably once elephants, though it was rather hard to tell.
After school on Wednesday, Harry had his DMT lesson with Snape. They were practicing how to lie this evening, and how to detect a lie. Harry couldn't help but laugh inwardly as he realised he was playing Truth or Dare with Professor Snape. Each would ask the other a question, then decide whether the answer was a lie or not. Harry found out that Snape had indeed vandalised something once, which turned out be a phone-box in his seventh year on graduation night; that Snape was allergic to cat fur; that Snape had drunk Firewhiskey well under the legal age, and that Snape had once eaten half a scroll of parchment as a dare set by Lucius Malfoy. Snape also swore blind that he had never ever been tempted to jinx a first year, though Harry knew this was a lie.
On Thursday, first thing, Harry was out in the grounds again, this time learning how to control dragons with various spells, taught by Charlie Weasley. It was a very enjoyable lesson, even though Neville did catch him in the eye with a conjunctivitis curse and he couldn't see for the rest of the day. This wasn't helpful, as after Magical Creatures, he was straight off to Pure Arts. As he predicted, Alrister was lurking behind the door with his stick when they all walked in. Draco was promptly declared dead after a good whack around the head, and Hermione barely avoided getting poked herself, using a clever little move that set Alrister's curtains on fire. Once they'd beaten him out, Hermione apologised over and over again, and transfigured the curtains back to their original state. Alrister said it was quite alright; he'd never liked them anyway.
At the end of the day was double Defence Against the Dark Arts with Professor Lupin. He told them they were starting their first project, about the common dangers found in England, and by the time the two hours was over, Harry had done his first five pages. Lupin gave him ten points to the school. Throughout the lesson, Madam Ivy was nowhere to be seen. Harry had a sneaking suspicion that Lupin had banned her from the class when he was teaching.
Friday came, and Harry was glad it was nearly the weekend. He'd enjoyed his first week back, but definitely needed a break, and some time to finish all of his start-of-term homework. First thing he had Potions. While most people went off to the library to do yet more research, Harry had finished his, and stayed behind in the classroom. Snape taught him the correct way to slice Exploding Caterpillar Bulbs without getting showered in the sticky sap, and when he saw how much work Harry had done on his project already, he was startled into giving Harry five points.
After Potions, Harry had Pure Arts, and once again avoided the stick. Almost a quarter of the class was sitting at a Dead desk by now, and Alrister managed to catch three more people by the time the bell went. They all hobbled out of the class, nursing various small bruises. Draco remarked that if Alrister turned on them again, they should just beat him to the floor with his own stick and lock him in a cupboard somewhere.
History of Magic and Transfiguration were dull as ever, and McGonagall was really testing their knowledge today. She made Harry turn a mouse into a gecko in front of the class, and when the gecko was revealed to still have little furry ears, she made him do it three more times until he got the hang of it.
Though Harry was hardly bothered by this, as last thing on Friday, he was due in Defence Against the Dark Arts with Madam Ivy. He took a seat at the front of the class today, wanting to prove he wasn't one of those slack students that hung around on the back row and talked all lesson. She handed back the pieces of project she had marked, and Harry's mood was enlightened when he saw that she had given him an O. She perched herself on the edge of Lupin's desk as usual, and addressed them all, hands clasped neatly in her lap.
"I'm sure you'll have all seen your marks by now," she said, smartly, putting an end to the chatter. "And I'm glad that some of you are pleased by your result, though I know there are a few people in here who could do much better. Obviously, I've only marked the first part of your project, and if you wish to redo it to a better standard, you may. Remember that the final grade you get for this work will go towards your NEWT, and a low grade could mean disaster if you want a job that deals with Defence Against the Dark Arts. And of course, we are entering dark times at the moment. The more well defended you are, the better.
"Today, we are to start looking at specific dark creatures. I want you to include four, minimum, in your project. Reference books are at the back in the separate boxes, and I will answer any questions you have. All clear?"
Harry kept his head down, and after retrieving a book, started working hard on the task set. By the end of the hour, he was exhausted and his brain felt numb with information about all the dark creatures he'd ever learnt anything about. He handed in his notes, and Madam Ivy looked rather taken aback at how much work he'd done. She turned it over, her eyes skimming through it, and said, with a little smile, "Well, this certainly seems to be a good standard, Potter... though you've spelt a few things wrong just down at the bottom. Clear those up and Professor Lupin will take you through some more guidelines next week."
Harry was strongly reminded of a young Professor McGonagall.
That night, Harry, Ron, Hermione and Ginny were all sitting in the common room, finishing off bits of homework that needed to be done, ready for the weekend. Tomorrow morning, Harry had his learning to kill lesson with Professor Lupin, and he wasn't exactly looking forward to it. In the afternoon, Hagrid's dragons were expected to arrive, and Harry wanted to go and help get them settled in. He was becoming quite used to dragons now.
Gradually, the common room started to empty of people, until nine o' clock came, and only Harry, Ron, Hermione and Ginny were left. Hermione was bent over a huge sheet covered in runes, translating it all onto a clean piece of parchment, and Ron was teaching Sneezy the alphabet, without much luck. Ginny seemed to be quite agitated about something.
"Are you okay?" Harry asked her, after the third time she shifted in her chair, closed her book, then re-opened it.
"Oh, yes, I'm fine," she said, smiling slightly. "Just a bit nervy. I think I might go to the bathroom before I turn in for the night, I could do with a shower." She stood up, and leaving her books and bag scattered around the table, she headed up to her dormitory.
Harry had just picked up his quill to start writing again when she suddenly arrived, carrying a shower bag. "That was a very quickly packed shower bag," he said.
"Well, I've wanted a shower all day," she said, idly. "See you all soon." And she walked out through the portrait hole without a word.
Everything was quiet for a moment, then Hermione voiced what everybody was thinking.
"Why couldn't she just use the Gryffindor showers?" she said, frowning, and putting down her quill. "And why did she have the bag packed and ready? Do you think she's up to something?"
"Yes," said Ron, stoutly. He got up, and left his books where they were, heading over to Harry's trunk in the corner. Without asking for permission, he opened it up, and rooted through for a few minutes before getting out Harry's old invisibility cloak. "You don't mind if I borrow this, do you?" he said, throwing it on around his shoulders. His head floated towards the door.
"Not if you'll let me come with you," said Harry. Ignoring Hermione's protests about them going out so late at night, he hurried over to Ron, and his cousin threw the cloak over both of them. Harry didn't know why he wanted to follow Ginny - suspicion, perhaps, or maybe he just wanted to stretch his legs and it was a good excuse to get away from homework.
He and Ron headed towards the door, and stepped out. Hermione called after them that she wasn't going to vouch for them when they got in trouble, but they didn't listen, and slipped out into the corridor, closing the portrait behind them. It was immediately obvious where Ginny was going. They just saw her bright red hair slip away around the corner, and silently, they followed.
Both of them had grown since they last used the cloak, and it was hard to walk at the same time whilst keeping all ankles and limbs out of sight, though they managed it. Fairly soon, they had caught up with Ginny, and it was clear that she was not going anywhere near the bathrooms. They were careful to stay a good distance behind and silent. They didn't want her to know they were following, even if she was doing something as innocent as going to the library to get out a book, or heading to the owlery to post a letter.
They passed the staircase to the owlery though, and didn't seem to be going anywhere near the library. Harry was getting more and more suspicious with every step that Ginny took, and he couldn't think of where she was going at all. The astronomy tower seemed the most logical place, but Ginny would have to be incredibly thick to try and go there at night. Professor Sinistra was infamously protective of her chambers, and the only excuse for being around the astronomy tower at night was a lesson - but surely Ginny would have told them, if she had a lesson, instead of pretending to go to the bathroom. And why had she left her bag back in the common room?
Sure enough, as the winding stone staircase to the astronomy tower appeared, Ginny turned up it, and started to climb. Here, every single noise echoed upwards, and Harry and Ron had a hard time struggling up it sideways while staying hidden. Harry didn't know how he could tell, but he just knew Ron was getting angry. Perhaps it was just the sound of his cousin's breathing, or the way he kept pushing Harry, wanting him to hurry up.
Harry wondered whether Ginny was perhaps visiting the dragons that were still living in the astronomy hall, but she went past that door as well, climbing up and up towards the very highest tower in the school. Harry had a dangerous sensation of being watched by unseen eyes. He didn't know for sure exactly how Professor Sinistra guarded the astronomy tower from intruders, but he was pretty sure it would not be pleasant. A slap on the wrist and a few points from the school total was too much to hope for.
After many long minutes of climbing and getting shunted along by Ron, Harry heard a trap door open above them, and cold night air flooded the staircase. Ginny climbed out carefully, and to Harry's relief, she left it open. He and Ron managed to do a sort of twizzle to get through without making any noise or falling over each other. Ginny was alone in the tower, sitting on the low wall and gazing out across the lake, silent and still like a statue. Ron tugged on Harry's sleeve to pull him away from the trapdoor, and next second, Harry realised why, as he heard the footsteps coming up the stone staircase. He tensed, expecting Professor Sinistra to fly out and strangle them all to death. Ginny clearly thought the same thing, and moved to hide, though next second, a figure had stepped out through the trap door.
"Hiya," said Ginny, smiling. "I was worried I was too late... I told them all I had to take a shower." She held up the bag, and showed her visitor, smiling still. "What was your excuse?"
"I didn't need one," was the reply. "I just got up and left. Nobody noticed."
Ron had gone so still and stiff that Harry got worried he had actually died of horror, and gave him a poke in the side. Ron poked him back, hard.
Draco sat down on the wall next to Ginny, kicking the trap door shut with the heel of his dragon-hide boots. Ginny smiled shyly. "So..." she said. "What did you want to see me about?"
"Just a little something," Draco murmured, and he leant forward, touching her face.
Ron made an odd squeak of disgust and shock as their lips met, and Ginny instantly pulled back, looking around nervously. "What was that?" she said.
"Nothing," said Draco, pulling her into another kiss.
Ron was trembling with rage next to Harry. Harry could feel his cousin's hands balling into fists and shaking, as though he would dearly love to just burst out from under the cloak and knock Malfoy off the top of the tower. Harry had absolutely no idea what to do. With the trap door now shut, he and Ron couldn't make their escape, and there was nothing they could do but watch helplessly. Harry found he couldn't avert his eyes. It was like a road accident - he just had to have a look.
Draco and Ginny, distracted as they were, apparently had no sense of time anymore. Harry and Ron did though. The moments lengthened into minutes, and after quarter of an hour, Harry was getting very cold and stiff from standing still so long, and the entertainment was losing its novelty. The only warmth anywhere in the tower was Ron, who was still shaking with fury and breathing like a rhinoceros. Harry kept having to poke him to get him to shut up, though Ron just jabbed him back twice as hard. After twenty minutes, Harry was even more cold and covered in bruises. He quite wanted to knock Malfoy off the tower now, just to break up the kissing session so he could get to bed.
Draco let Ginny go again, and she immediately leant forward, though he held up a hand. "It's late," he murmured. "The Gryffindors will get suspicious of you being gone for so long. I'd suggest a quick shower before you get back to the common room, so there's nothing for them to be suspicious about."
She nodded, with a smile, her cheeks slightly pink. "Okay... same time same place tomorrow?"
"Hopefully," he said. "An hour earlier though. Say you've got a detention or something ludicrous like that." He smiled, weaving his fingers through her hair. "I told you there was nothing wrong with coming up to the astronomy tower at night... all those rumours about it being protected... I mean, she's a little paranoid, but really Professor Sinistr-AAARGH!!!"
The stone they were sitting on had seemingly come alive, and with a hissing noise, a great coil like an octopus's arm had shot out, wrapping itself around Malfoy and trying to crush him. Ginny screamed as more tentacles shot out of the wall for her too, but she leapt away out of reach, staring in horror at the stone snake trying to squeeze Draco to death. He choked, struggling wildly, before he managed to break its grip and fling himself aside. A light flicked on in a room across the tower, and Draco shouted, "RUN!" at Ginny, before wrenching the trap door open and leaping down it out of sight. She followed quickly, and Harry and Ron bolted into action under the cloak, waddling as fast as they could for the door, but before they had even got halfway there, Ginny slammed it shut behind her.
"There's no way out!" Harry choked, desperately. "What are we going to do?"
Ron tore off the invisibility cloak, and bent down, saying in a furious voice, "Stuff the astronomy tower, I'm going to MURDER Malfoy!!" He gave a few enraged tugs to the handle of the trap door, but it just wouldn't open. It was locked. "Oh COME ON!!" Ron bellowed at it.
Harry jabbed him in the chest and hissed, "Shhhh, you'll get us caught!"
But the words had barely left his mouth before Harry felt a lurch under his feet. He shot downwards, grabbed out for Ron, and both of them screamed as the stone floor of the tower gave way and they were sucked down into blackness. They hit the floor moments later with loud shouts of pain. It was pitch black wherever they were now. Wheezing, Harry groped for Ron and gasped, "Ron! Ron, where are you?"
Ron grabbed his arm in the dark. "I'm here," he breathed, and apparently, the wind had been knocked out of Ron too. "Where are we?"
"I don't know," said Harry, fighting for breath. He drew his wand, and said, "Lumos!"
A ball of light flicked on at the end of his wand, just enough to trace around the few metres around them. The room seemed to be bare, just stone walls and floor. Harry held his wand towards the ceiling, but it had reformed.
"We're trapped," Ron squeaked. "There's no way out! We're going to starve in here! They can't do this! This is a SCHOOL, not AZKABAN!!" He leapt at one of the walls and started beating it frantically with his fists, though Harry grabbed him and pulled him away before he could break his knuckles on the hard stone.
"There must be some way out!" he said. "We've just got to think and stay calm. There's a way out of everywhere in Hogwarts, and the founders wouldn't build somewhere that would endanger the lives of the students."
"OH yeah?!" said Ron, quite delirious now. "And the Chamber of Secrets is just happy dandy fairyland now, is it?!"
"That was different!" said Harry desperately. "And Slytherin's heir was fine in the chamber, wasn't he? We've just got to work out who built the astronomy tower."
"I think it was Slytherin," Ron choked. "He was really paranoid about his quarters and his rooms. He'll have done this. It's all his fault!" And he launched himself at the wall again, yelling and battering it with his fists.
Harry pulled him away again. "Ron, don't!" he hissed. "We've just got to be calm and find a way out. I'll try and blast away some of the wall." He aimed his wand, and whispered, "Reducto!"
A jet of light struck the stone and a few chunks cracked away, hitting the floor. Praying that the wall was fairly thin, and not two metres thick, Harry start chipping away at it bit by bit with the reducto curse. Finally, after what seemed like hours, they could see light through the hole. Ron got out his wand too, and both of them shattered a hole big enough to crawl through, then squeezed their way out of the chamber.
They were now in what seemed to be a small store-room. Boxes littered the floor, and candles were attached to all the walls, bathing everything in a soothing amber glow. Ron had momentarily forgotten about Malfoy, it seemed, and paced across the room to a door. He yanked it open, and there was only darkness ahead.
"Get a few of these candles," said Harry, unclipping some from their torch brackets. "We've got to try and find a corridor, or somewhere that we recognise. Then we can start working our way back to Gryffindor Tower."
Ron got a candle from the wall, and quietly, the two of them crept through into the next room. Candlelight washed across the stone walls in an eerie sort of wave, and at first, Harry thought it was just another empty room, except that the walls were glistening were something gooey like lemon jelly. There was something stuck to the far wall. As Harry held the candle a little higher, it washed over the figure glued to the wall by the sticky substance. Harry barely had time to register the flash of white-blonde hair before Ron gave a furious yell next to him and launched himself at Malfoy, attempting to wrench him out of the jelly on the walls and probably kill him. Harry ran after Ron and tried to pull him off Malfoy, Malfoy was shouting at Ron, Ron was throttling Malfoy, and only when Harry bellowed in both their ears did they stop with loud cries of pain.
"Thankyou!" Harry shouted. "Now, stop it! Malfoy, what are you doing stuck to the wall?"
"It sucked me in," said Draco, angrily, a black-eye now blooming on his face. "What are you doing here?"
"Hey," said Ron, suddenly, before Harry could answer. He gave a tug to his hands, which had sunk into the jelly to strangle Draco, but they didn't come out. Ron screamed. "Get me OFF!!"
Harry linked his arms around Ron's stomach, and pulled as hard as he could, trying to remove him from the sticky goo. Draco, who was stuck spread-eagled to the wall, couldn't really do much but laugh. Ron's face worked in a snarl, though with his hands out of action, couldn't punch Draco, and just got angrier and angrier. Harry wasn't getting anywhere with pulling him off, and so just gave up, collapsing on the floor and panting. Draco was still laughing. Ron spat in his face, and he stopped.
"Try a melting curse," said Ron, trying to twist his head and look at Harry on the floor, though it was hard, stuck against Draco as he was. "Or a dissolving curse, anything."
"DON'T use a dissolving curse, you'll dissolve all our skin!" Draco shouted.
"Correction," said Ron, angrily. "It'll dissolve all YOUR skin, and I'll only lose my hands, which I think is a pretty good price to pay to see you frazzled to a crisp! What do you think you're doing with MY sister?!"
"How the hell does your sister come into this?" said Malfoy, furiously.
"Stop it! Stop fighting!" said Harry. "We've got to get out of here before Professor Sinistra catches us all; we'll fight about Ginny later. Ron, put your knee on Malfoy's stomach, and pull back with your hands. It might get them free. Then we'll try and get Malfoy out."
Ron stared at him. "I'm sorry? You're actually giving me permission to knee Malfoy in the stomach?"
"Do I get a choice in this at all?" said Draco, raising both eyebrows.
"No," said Harry. "Ron, I'll stand behind you to catch you, alright? Just bring your left knee up, and place it GENTLY on Draco's stomach. Then you can get a bit more force to pull on. Okay?"
"Alright," said Ron. He smiled. "Gently. Huh." He carefully pulled up one knee, and pushed it against Draco's stomach, but before he'd even thought of pulling his hands out of the goo, there was a noise like custard getting sucked up a vacuum cleaner. The jelly spread itself around Draco's stomach in a great glistening mass, slurping itself around Ron's knee, locking it in place.
There was silence for a moment, before Ron said, sniffily, "Got any more bright ideas, Harry? Maybe I should press my face into the jelly, and see if it does any good?"
Draco heaved a very dramatic sigh. "Whatever did the art of sarcasm do to you, Weasley? Surely it doesn't deserve to be butchered like that."
"You shut up! This is all your fault!"
"Gosh, I'm so scared."
"Or what? You'll kick me and get that leg stuck to the wall as well?"
"Stop it!" said Harry. "Come on, we've got to work together. Maybe... maybe if you just lift up your other leg, Ron, then the weight will bring you out of the jelly."
"Or maybe," said Draco, dryly, "if we just stay here, wait for Professor Sinistra, and then calmly explain the situation we'll be allowed out. After all, I am a prefect, and I have a perfectly good excuse for being out at night. As much as I hate it, so does Weasley, and Ginny hasn't been caught so she's fine. Oh wait, what about you, Potter? Well, one out of four people getting expelled isn't too bad, I suppose."
At that moment, there were soft footsteps from behind them, and the swish of a cloak across the floor. Harry whipped around. Standing in the doorway was Professor Sinistra, in all her glory, arms folded, and triumph in her eyes.
"Well, well..." she whispered. "Seventh years I would have expected better of. And two prefects. The headmaster isn't going to like this at all, boys. Not one bit."
"Professor?" came Draco's voice from behind Ron. "Professor, I can certainly explain all this. At least, I can explain why I was in your tower, though Weasley and Potter are another story I'm afraid. You see, I was just on my prefect rounds, when - "
"Save it for the headmaster, Draco." Sinistra raised one hand, snapped her fingers, and the two boys were instantly released from the jelly. Another snap, and thin ropes spread from the silver bracelets around her wrists, winding around each boy's neck in a tight grip. "Come with me."
When they arrived in Dumbledore's office, all looking very guilty, three other people were already there. Ginny sat in front of the headmaster's desk, pink in the face and playing with her fingers, with McGonagall standing at her side. Professor Snape was lurking near the fire, and as Sinistra lead Draco in by the scruff of his neck, one of Snape's eyebrows arched.
"Malfoy...?" he whispered, dangerously.
"Professor!" said Draco, clearly spotting another chance to worm his way out of trouble. "Professor, you have to believe me, I can explain all this. I was on my prefect rounds, when - "
"Oh, cram it, Malfoy," Ron muttered, rolling his eyes.
Sinistra snapped her fingers, and the thin cords around their necks were released. Harry winced, reaching up to feel the red marks where the ropes had been, as Professor Sinistra turned to the headmaster.
"Dumbledore," she said, icily. "I found them trying to escape the tower. My defences caught them, though they were making so much noise, it wasn't hard to find them."
"Thankyou, Sarabi," said Dumbledore, pleasantly. He sat in a large purple winged armchair behind his desk. "Sit down please, boys. Minerva, Severus, Sarabi, feel free to draw up some of the other armchairs."
They did so. Draco instantly moved to sit next to Ginny, but Ron gave him a shove in the shoulder and took the place next to his sister defiantly. Draco opened his mouth to say something that was undoubtedly scathing, but Snape clipped him smartly around the ear and pushed him down into a chair. The Potions master then gave Harry a meaningful look, his hand curling around the back of the chair next to Draco. Harry sat down in it obediently. McGonagall stood behind Ginny and Ron, while Professor Sinistra took Snape's old position by the fireplace, watching the four students with a cat-like smile on her pale face.
"Now then," said Dumbledore, kindly. "Professor Sinistra says that she caught all four of you up in the astronomy tower. According to my clock, it is nearly ten o' clock at night, far too late for you all to be up and about. I was wondering if you could tell me why..."
Instantly, Ron shot in with, "Malfoy was kissing MY sister!"
Ginny went scarlet, and squealed, "Ron, he wasn't, don't say that!"
"We saw you!" said Ron angrily. "Me and Harry, we were there, we - "
"Why were you following us in the first place?!" Draco demanded, rounding on Ron. "Whoever gave you the right to sneak around school and stick your great fat nose into other people's business!?"
"Because we knew you were up to something!!" Ron bellowed, turning as red as Ginny. "And I've got the proof, because Harry was there too, and I'll have you know that I've got JUST as much right as you to sneak around school, because I'M a prefect too, OKAY?!"
"Then what about Potter? What sort of a prefect would blatantly endanger another student's place at Hogwarts by bringing them along on - "
"Don't bring me into this!" Harry said, having to shout to make himself heard.
"WHY SHOULDN'T I?!" Ron yelled, standing up and glaring hatefully at Malfoy. "YOU WERE THERE! YOU'RE THE PROOF, YOU SAW WHAT HAPPENED! YOU SAY MALFOY KISSING MY - "
"WEASLEY, it's her CHOICE who she kisses, YOU CAN'T DECIDE EVERYTHING FOR HER!" bellowed Draco, getting to his feet as well.
Ginny burst into tears, as Ron and Draco continued to scream, now jabbing each other in the chest too. Harry was trying to stay out of it, but couldn't hold back as Draco started insinuating that Harry and Ron were both up to something suspicious. He jumped to his feet and started shouting as well, Snape was yelling at Harry and Draco to sit down, McGonagall was trying to stop Ron killing Draco, Ginny was crying even harder now, Sinistra was adding her own screams to the mixture, and for a few moments it was total chaos until -
"WOULD ANYBODY CARE FOR A FAIRY CAKE?!!" Dumbledore roared over all the noise.
Everybody instantly stopped shouting, and turned to stare at him. Ron even let go of Draco's throat. Dumbledore smiled pleasantly and held out a tray of iced buns.
"Well?" he said, brightly.
"With all due respect, Albus, this is not the time for fairy cakes," said McGonagall, crisply. She pushed down hard on Ron's shoulders, making him sit.
Snape did the same with Harry and Draco, after wisely making them swap sides, so Draco was as far from Ron as possible. Harry realised that Snape had put him directly in the line of fire, and wasn't comforted by this.
"Now... Sarabi, has any damage been done to anything in the astronomy tower?" said Dumbledore, kindly.
She shook her head. "Though it could easily have been, Headmaster. Very easily. These students were trespassing in the tower at night, and a great deal of very sophisticated equipment was put at risk. If they had been wanting to break something, they - "
"Though they didn't, Sarabi," said Dumbledore calmly. "The only problem we have here are two lovestruck teenagers, an overly protective brother, and a good friend. I won't take any points away this time, but I will ask you to stay in your common rooms after dark in future. The astronomy tower is out of bounds to students if they aren't in class, or with another good excuse. Please remember this. Severus, Minerva, if you wish to give detentions then that is up to you to decide."
"I think it would help reinforce the message," said McGonagall, wisely. "All three of you can come to my office on Monday, eight o' clock, and - "
"Potter will not be attending," said Snape, calmly. "He already has a remedial potions class, and trust me, he certainly needs it."
Harry thought this was a bit harsh, but said nothing, simply staring at a point on Dumbledore's desk as though it was fascinating.
"Then perhaps Harry should serve his detention with you, Severus," said Dumbledore, pleasantly. "Just before his remedial potions class. It would be a great deal more convenient to all, I think. Minerva, are you okay with this?"
McGonagall nodded crisply. Dumbledore smiled. "Excellent. Now then, it is late, and you should all be in bed, unless anybody has anything else to say. No? Then goodnight to you all, and please think more in future."
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