Studying was easier than listening to Umbridge.
Studying was easier than seeing Dumbledore’s eyes flick away from him.
From dealing with the student body once again calling him crazy.
From the reminder that no one listened.
Harry studied anything he could get his hands on, because he was quite done. If the school, the teachers, and the Ministry wouldn’t listen, then he wouldn’t be restrained. His spell reptoire had never been subtle, hadn’t ever been large either. He felt equal parts foolish and guilty about that.
His potions were a hot mess which he diligently worked on fixing.
There were no other skills that Harry had when it came to more varied magical abilities.
“It’s good that you’re studying.” Hermione said, she had been saying that a lot. She had barely held her tongue just like Harry did that first day in Umbridge’s class.
Harry flicked a glance at her and smiled fondly. Even if he was still a little bitter at Ron and Hermione not telling him anything during the summer they were still his psuedo-family. “Have to learn somehow,” He said and got a snort from her.
First Harry learned defense, notice me not charms, disillusionment, shields, and minor wards that didn’t need five years to learn (though they weren’t as good as the ones that needed multiple branches of magic to make).
That led to an abandoned classroom where he could hole up and practice spells – hexes, and curses that Harry felt uncomfortable but determined to learn. If the magical world wouldn’t play fair, neither would Harry.
Occlumency came next, because Harry was quite tired of the dreams and sharp stabbing pain and the only books that indicated something like that at all were healing spells for evil curses (something he had to read up on but had no time to learn three years worth of theory to cast properly), and occlumency.
Then there was potion making.
A month flew by that way. Where Harry kept his eyes on studying and learning. He dropped Divination almost a week into classes realizing just how wasteful of a time it was.
“Would you like to take another elective Mr. Potter?” Professor McGongall asked, which was rather kind of her.
But Harry didn’t know if he could learn enough Ancient Runes fast enough to get to a fifth year education. Even his minor studying during the TriWizard Tournament had been very specific. No, better self study for any runic-magic he decided to fall back onto. “No thank you, Professor,” He said with a neutral expression. He wasn’t sure if he could give her a smile. Clearly her hands were tied if Dumbledore did nothing as Headmaster, but he didn’t think she had tried arguing the matter well enough.
The first mishap for Umbridge happened in the second week of October. On her seat, behind her class desk, was a potion that would slowly enter her body through her clothing.
It had taken quite a bit of tinkering for Harry to make the potion adapt in a way that only the observant would notice a hint of wetness—the potion spreading across cloth and skin too quickly to ‘sit’ and stay damp.
Not much happened during class, but Harry didn’t expect it too. There were hours yet before the full force of the Tongue of Liars potion took effect.
Unlike truth potions, lying potions were a lot easier to make—probably because they didn’t force the individual to tell the truth. Harry didn’t think even with his self study that he could make even a minor truth serum right now at his skill level.
But the Tongue of Liars? Even a second year could make that one, and while Harry’s skills weren’t terrible , they still needed refinement. He had even practiced enough that he was sure this batch of potion vials were his most potent.
A twist of Harry’s wand has the accompanying hex Hex of Temptation , to hit Umbridge right as she’s walking out of the classroom.
Their group of Gryffindors was thankfully too far away for Umbridge to accuse them of the spell hit.
Hermione jostled Harry, “You going back to study?” She hadn’t taken long to realize that Harry had his own ‘study room’ as it were. Any other transgression and Harry was sure she would have disapproved, but there were quite a few empty rooms and he supposed she saw it as using empty space.
“Yeah, wanna join?” Harry had a fondness for hexes by now, and Hermione didn’t quite approve but she also seemed to understand that it would keep him safe; or maybe she didn’t disapprove, after all Voldemort was alive. He settled on ignoring Hermione’s possible thoughts on the matter for now.
“Yes!” Hermione’s excitement was contagious and if Ron’s longsuffering sigh was any indication he followed more out of friendship then any desire to learn.
They slipped out of the stream of classmates and Harry led them to his somewhat sanctuary. A few twists of his wand and the charms and wards around the door bent just enough so the three could walk in.
Another few hours of studying, and potion making went by and Harry wondered belatedly if a future like this could exist with Hermione and Ron one day.
It was certainly a nice thought.
“I still don’t understand why you don’t like a simple knockback charm, and stunning spell,” Hermione muttered disgruntled.
“Because I doubt that combination would work on any war trained wixen,” Harry replied dryly. Not that he hadn’t learned both of those spells for school yard bullies, namely Malfoy, but he knew that any Death Eater and especially Voldemort, wouldn’t fall for that. At all.
“He has a point ‘Mione,” Even Ron had started learning a few spells; though unfortunately (in Harry’s opinion) he refused to study the same hexes that Harry was reading up on. “Death Eaters aren’t exactly going to bend over backwards and let us stun them, and a shield spell can block both of those; we would be bloody fucked--”
“Language,” Hermione snapped.
They reached the Great Hall just in that moment.
It was there that Harry got to see the fruits of his labor.
Umbridge was screeching, “Voldemort is not real! Whoever cast this foul magic will be punished! I will not go back on my words!” Her voice grew higher and higher with pain.
Harry felt little sympathy when he saw the pustules across the woman’s hands and throat. The Tongue of Liars suited the punishment to the recipient, and he was admittedly disappointed that it was just a skin condition.
“Harry,” Hermione murmured, and she really was too clever by far, “Impressive.”
That was a surprise. Harry blinked up at her. He had settled in a chair far enough away from the gawping, and standing, students so he could eat in some semblance of peace.
Hermione flushed and started piling mashed potatoes on her and Harry’s plates, “She’s a foul woman,” Was what she finally said before digging into her meal.
Harry grinned and he barely caught the interested looks Fred and George were giving him; he wasn’t sure if they had heard Hermione or just suspected him, either way it made his belly flip in an awkwardly familiar way.
Madam Pomfrey had Umbridge up and out after two days.
Harry was pretty upset that it had only taken two days for his potion and spellwork to be undone, but then again he wasn’t as advanced as a Medi-witch. Even if he had Umbridge’s awful tongue on his side.
More reading was needed. If he wanted to do spellwork or potions that kept Umbridge firmly in the Hospital Wing, or curbing her tongue (he doubted the latter would ever happen) he needed to learn more.
Thankfully, after hearing Ron complain about reading for the fifth hundredth time , Hermione had come up with two solutions.
One a whispering spell allowed Harry to listen to any book he cast it on, as long as he wasn’t too far from the book (fifty meters seemed the limit).
Second was a Diligent Brew, a potion made about two hundred years ago. It had minor addictive properties which was probably why it wasn’t taught until seventh year, but Hermione, a good book, and the whispering spell on repeat had the three of them working on making it and succeeding only a day after Umbridge was out.
The first drink, Harry honestly wished he had had it his first year. Suddenly things made so much more sense. And he had an assortment of ideas on old spells written down while he listened with full focus to another book Making an Enemy Suffer.
October was hardly a footnote in Fifth Year. Harry still was quite mad, but it was easier for the moment to focus on learning. He consumed books thanks to the potion (though Hermione made a timetable so they wouldn’t get too addicted to it), spell and brewing practice became much easier with such razor sharp focus, and he had crossed off, and marked down, more ideas than he thought he ever had in the last four years of schooling.
It was only seeing Ginny’s hand covered in scabbed lines that pulled the trio out of their own little world.
“We want in.” Fred and George said to Harry.
Harry wasn’t sure what gave him away. Perhaps it was his magic, thrumming deep and heavy. Ever since he had started practicing so thoroughly it felt like he had a better connection and that his magic was starting to conform to being swift, painful and stunning like the hexes he had learned. “It’s going to be subtle,” He wasn’t sure if the twins knew the word. Sure they didn’t get caught as much as they did when pranking, but their pranks tended to be signaturely theirs.
“We won’t be caught,” George looked serious. It made him rather handsome.
(Not that Harry was thinking about how handsome the two were. Or that they were twins.)
“Mom would be furious if we let Ginny keep getting hurt,” Fred added. As if he didn’t look like the embodiment of rage right about now.
“I have a few ideas.” Harry admitted.
Ron was already waiting for Harry at their little nook. It was far enough away from most that people didn’t really pay attention when the trio went inside of it. “They’re not going to make a mess of it are they?” Ron asked Harry with a frown at his brothers.
The lack of Ron we’re hurt you would say that from either of them was disconcerting.
“They said they understood.” Harry had had to learn a new ward that Hermione added into the schema, which had taken a full week of frustration because he didn’t know as much Ancient Runes as she did. It took a dedicated bit of power and a twist of magic to open the runes blocking the door.
“So, what’s the plan?” Fred asked.
“I have a few, actually.” Harry admitted. He was saving some of them, preferably when there was more time between his last attempt. He didn’t want people to catch him in the act. But if Ginny was asking Hermione for a way to heal her hand, then there had to be more people being hurt. The fact that none of the teachers, and specifically Dumbledore, were doing nothing left a horrid taste in Harry’s mouth.
A flick of Harry’s wand had the cabinet he had found, and stickied onto a wall not too near, but near enough, to his little potions lab, opened to show an assortment of potions and tiny objects-- some were buttons, others fake homework assignments, a few necklaces and rings.
“Blimey, Harry, it’s like you were going to war,” Ron said with a healthy amount of fear.
A grim smile bloomed on Harry’s face, he admitted at least, to himself, that these devices and potions weren’t just for Umbridge. He had no idea what would happen in the future but he planned to be prepped as best he could.
“Some of these aren’t going easy,” George said, he had come up to Harry, and Harry was a little distracted by the heat of his body, warm and the smell of him—a little like ginger and cinnamon.
“Can’t go easy on Death Eaters,” Harry said dryly.
“Uhuh, and that’s all you’re gonna use them for, Har?” Fred asked with an amused tilt to his lips.
“Oh, look at this beauty,” George took one of the potion vials with care, it was a dabbled green and blue. “What’s it do?”
The Vial was well, new. Harry’s first, or second if he counted spellcrafting and potion crafting the same, foray into creation.
“Didn’t you work on that for the last three weeks?” Ron perked up. He and Hermione had been trying to get Harry to tell them what it was for a while now.
It was probably a good thing Hermione was still in her Arithmancy class or she would be dogging Harry endlessly.
“Yes, it’s a new potion.” Harry was rather, okay, very proud of himself. It had taken a lot of prep work and a lot less sleep then he was used too even with the Dursleys. But he had made it.
“What’s it do?” Fred leaned forward, the visible excitement on his face made him look boyishly cute.
Harry really needed to stop finding Ron’s male family members attractive, first Bill, then Charlie, and now the twins. Shaking his head he looked at his well, second pride and joy (the first being the hex he had created), “It causes the person who drinks it to feel every inflicted wrong they have done to others onto themselves.” He knew that the potion wouldn’t be written in a publishable book. He didn’t want people pranking eachother with something like this. Even if it was restricted to advanced study he wasn’t sure if he could trust this Wixen world to behave with it. After all they had the Dementors and instead of either destroying their ability to suck souls out of people, or destroying the creatures, they had turned them into unstable prison guards.
“Hell.” Ron whispered. He looked equal parts impressed and frightened.
“Marry me,” George said. His free hand took Harry’s and his eyes were intense.
Harry wasn’t actually sure if the other teen was joking or not.
“You have to marry me too,” Fred said and how the hell he got onto Harry’s other side, Harry had no idea.
“I’m a bit too young for marriage,” Keeping his cool when part of him was swooning was rather hard. Who knew the universe would come to bite him in the ass for second year where he gave Hermione a hard time about Lockhart, in the form of mentally swooning over the twins.
Fred waved a hand in the air, “Then we’ll just have to woo you while we wait, right George?”
“I’m not sure when we decided to make it a double wedding but alright,” George’s tone betrayed his amusement.
Ron glared at the twins and then looked at Harry’s flushed face.
There were no need for words, Harry knew his best friend was going to give him hell for this.
“How are you going to get it into her drink or food?” Hermione didn’t sound upset. Which was a relief, and a surprise. She looked at Ron and Harry and sighed at whatever expression she saw on their faces, “She used an Evil Object; class six on magically banned objects out of ten classes, meaning it’s six away from being the death penalty on the International Wixen Association’s laws on Evil Magics. Even if she fled out of country she would be at least imprisoned if not have her wand snapped.” She frowned, “And if Ginny of all people came to me for help, who knows how many others she’s used that quill on.” She grimaced and shivered, “It’s not right, so, how are you going to get it into her food or drink?”
“I admit I’m leaning on my new hex.” Harry scratched his nose and smiled at Hermione’s surprised delight and Ron’s gawping.
“You made two things? We’re fifth years!” Ron groaned, “I’m going to have to catch up if I don’t want the Twins to make even more of a fuss. You know they asked him to marry them? And the besotted ass didn’t even say no.”
At those words Hermione laughed uproariously.
Harry on the other hand felt a hot flush cross his cheeks.
“Very funny, Ron. Your brothers are just very pretty.” Harry said, it was sweet revenge to see Ron’s face grow red and him to start sputtering.
When they finally calmed down Harry explained, “The Hex is simple, it causes the person to ignore oddities. Like a pinpoint notice me not charm. But it’s a hex because it’s verging on compulsion curses.” Harry had read a lot on spell categorizing and what made hexes different from curses (earlier in Britian’s history, admittedly it had been more based on anything a Witch created or used; curses or offensive spells being put under hexes) and he knew that his hex was in the grey area between curse and hex. But most of the two groups really were similar. Unlike Curses though, Hexes tended to take time to build up their power, and didn’t necessarily require any emotional input on the users side. Hexes were neutral emotion magic. They weren’t like the Patronus that required good emotions or the Stomach Expelling Curse that required a vengeful surge.
Hermione nodded, “That would work, I suppose but you would have to either magic the potion into her drink while having a drink with her or somehow do it in the Great Hall.”
It didn’t take much for Harry to see what Hermione meant. The easiest method, and less likely to be caught, would to somehow have tea with Umbridge. He grimaced at the thought.
“If you want Harry I can do it. I’m not great at Hexes,” Ron grinned abashed, he was after all much better at offensive elemental spells, not a surprise really they required quick bursts of action and Ron’s natural tendency to aggravate his wand movements certainly helped, “But I could learn it.”
“You’d be caught even with the hex,” Hermione said dryly, “You’re too awkward.” She added at Ron’s annoyed look, “You wouldn’t be able to hold it together until she drank enough of the potion for it to work. Then she would be too on-guard to get dosed again.”
Harry had to agree, even if silently. “ I’ll do it. Sucking up can’t be that bad. Especially for a good cause.” The bitter taste in his mouth was still there though. But he couldn’t let this stand. And hell if he was lucky maybe it would make Dumbledore and the Ministry open their eyes.
Harry doubted it though.