Categories > Books > Harry Potter

Ficlet #13: Careful

by Rihaan 7 reviews

Survival lesson #13 - Don't piss off Hermione.

Category: Harry Potter - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Humor - Characters: Harry,Hermione,Umbridge - Warnings: [!!] [V] - Published: 2021-05-16 - 3909 words - Complete

Summary: Survival lesson #13 - Don't piss off Hermione. Ugly-shaming ahead, but that goes without saying. It's Umbridge.



Hermione tensed. Harry, however, replaced the cap on his pen and sat back. "Professor Umbridge. To what do I owe the pleasure of seeing your charming smile this late at night?"

"You missed your detention, Mister Potter. I wondered if you had lost track of time."

"Oh, sorry. I thought Professor McGonagall had told you? She pulled me aside and informed me that I was serving the rest of my detentions with her."

"And whatever inspired her to do that?"

"I asked her to." He shrugged. "She's my head of house. I told her that I was uncomfortable being alone with you, and I guess she felt some sort of sympathy."

"Mister Potter, I have not harmed a single hair on your unkempt head. I have been nothing but hospitable. I will inform Deputy Headmistress McGonagall that my detentions are non-negotiable, and you'd do well to remember that as your Defense Professor, your grades depend on your attendance."

"Professor, I've seen the way you look at me. Your eyes didn't stray once through our sitting. Even when we're in class. Maybe it's that arrogance Snape keeps talking about, but I think I could do better, shouldn't we agree?"

"Excuse me?”

They both winced at the sound. "Please, Professor. Hermione just repaired my glasses after the last Quidditch match. No need to go breaking them again."

She turned her beady glare towards Hermione, who shrunk in the loveseat. "This does not concern you, Miss Granger. You may go upstairs, or towards the library, or wherever you go."

She steeled herself, tucking her legs closer as she sat back on the cushion. "Right now, I go where Harry goes. So I'm staying here."

She tittered. "I'll note your insubordination, girl. Now run along."

"I noticed you won't give her detention."

"Are you asking me to give your friend detention?"

"Yes. I am. Because I'm the only student you've given detention to so far. Frankly, you're not being subtle about your obsession with me. If you gave yourself a few decent glamour charms, and had the magical ability to hold them, I might indulge you, but as it stands..."

Her face twisted into a snarl. "How dare you, child! You just earned yourself detentions every week for the rest of the year!"

"I'll be sure to inform Professor McGonagall. Do you have anything regarding my lessons you'd like to talk about? I've never known a professor to keep conversing so casually with a student, and so late at night. Couldn't sleep?"

"Mister Potter," she gritted out. "You are treading on very dangerous territory. I wouldn't suggest another untoward word coming out of your mouth."

The common room was silent, as the professor and student stared each other down. Harry was unflinching in his gaze, vibrant green eyes intense and unyielding, and more than one soul in the room wished he would look at them like that.

"I bet it's the hair," Hermione noted airily, spinning her pen around in her fingers. "Unkempt, she called it? Trust me, running your fingers through that ebony forest is the best feeling in the world. If I had never known the sensation, I'd stay up all night thinking about it, too."

"It truly is the best feeling," Lavender sighed, sitting at one of the tables against the wall in the otherwise silent common room, "and you know how I normally feel about messy hair. No offense, Hermione."

"It's a vice," Parvati agreed, sitting across from her best friend. "We all have our vices. I don't blame you, Professor. It's rough as a thistle weed bush, but smooth like... mud? Grass? What would you describe it as?"

"Have you ever run your hand through a trough of warm noodles? It's very similar, actually."

"Luna? When did you get here?"

"Hm? Oh. Ginny couldn't sleep. I had something for her insomnia."

"It seems our professor is having trouble sleeping. Could you give her what you gave Ginny?"

The dreamy blonde took one look at Umbridge's puce visage, and wrinkled her pixie nose. "Oh, no thank you. I mean, I could try, but I don't think I'll be getting much sleep for a few days."

"Miss Lovegood! Go back to your dorm!”

"Kay." With nary a word, she skipped towards the portrait, which swung open for her, and an amused Daphne stepped through. "Don't be a stranger, Luna~~" she waved to the retreating blonde, before turning towards the rest of the common room. "Professor? Am I interrupting something?"

"Professor Umbridge is just trying her attempt at subtlety in getting Harry alone for a couple of hours."

"Oh." She wrinkled her eyebrows together. "I knew one of these days the staff would get in on it, but I thought maybe Sinistra would try first. Don't you think we're scraping the bottom of the barrel, here?"

A high-pitched growl escaped the professor's lips. "Miss Greengrass, care to explain what you mean by that?"

"Professor, I hope you never need a reason to go into the Ravenclaw dorms, if that went over your head." She turned to Hermione. "I just got the owl from Father. It's done."

The brunette suddenly brightened, closing her book. "Alright, Harry. You're safe."

He snorted. "I'm always safe when your mind is at work, Hermione. I didn't doubt you for a moment."

"I needed to make sure. The repercussions – anyway," she shook her head. "Thank you, Daphne. Would you like to do the honors?"

She shrugged, before clearing her throat dramatically – an entirely useless gesture, as everyone was already listening, unlike when Dolores did it, when no one wanted to listen. "The Board of Governors has just made the decision to make Defense Against the Dark Arts an elective, rather than a core class." She smirked at Umbridge, who was shaking in fury. "Something about solidarity in their belief that there isn't any 'Dark Arts' out there to defend against."

"Is Babbling taking any more students?" Harry suddenly asked his best friend, and she beamed.

"I'm sure I could catch you up with – ”

"Enough! Mister Potter, you're coming with me right this instant!"

Harry made a face. "That sounds painful."

"Granger, Brown, Patil, and Greengrass, you will report to my office tomorrow, and you can bring Lovegood with you. If the resident bookworm has done her homework, she should have known that it's too late in the term to switch courses. It is unfortunate that you didn't think this through."

Harry guffawed, so loudly that everyone in the room flinched. "That's funny! I like a comedian. You might have a chance, Dolores. Although, if you were serious, I truly wonder how you got your teaching license."

"She never had one," Hermione said testily, glaring at her with hard eyes. "She's never had a degree, an award, anything with her own name on it that proved she ever accomplished anything - in her life. She passed with minimum OWLS, and dropped out before her NEWTS. But she had a few old boyfriends – quite a few, actually – who opened a few connections for her. Didn't they?"

She sputtered indignantly, her jaw moving about wordlessly. Hermione didn't give her the time to flounder. "But of course, she was never good enough to take home. Just decent enough to take to the cheapest room at the Leaky Cauldron. Fortunately, she was too cheap to ever pay Tom for her discretion. He has to keep a log for insurance purposes, you see, and it goes back years. Names, dates, and some rather inappropriately timed events. Does anyone at the Ministry know that you had several meetings with some Azkaban guards a few days before Harry was accused of using magic in front of his relatives?" She paused, pursing her lips. "Don't get me wrong, I'm sure money was also involved. Or Polyjuice potion."

"Ministry-grade Polyjuice," Daphne clarified. "Something from the Department of Mysteries, something we've yet heard of. And Firewhiskey."

"And a gun," Parvati added helpfully. "In case the memory charms can't get the burning memories out of your mind."

Hermione shrugged, brimming with amusement as she watched the Undersecretary silently fuming. "Alright, girls, I think she's suffered enough at the hands of her masters. She doesn't need another beating – you wouldn't believe the things I've heard about you. Then again – maybe I can." She leaned against the arm of the couch, her inquisitive eyes searching. "But that's not what you asked, did you? You are correct that we can't leave your class, yes. But it's an elective now, isn't it? Would anyone like to tell me what the penalties are for failing an elective class?"

"Barely a slap on the wrist," Lavender proudly guffawed. "I skipped Hagrid's class all the time. Bless him, but he's a half-giant. He can protect himself from those creatures, but he can't protect the whole class. I'd skip Sprout, too, if it was an elective. But thanks to Hermione and Daphne, I know what my next free period's going to be..."

The room giggled, including the lone Slytherin, and the professor trembled on her feet.

"I will make sure you are all expelled! Each and every one of you! And I'll be having a talk with your father, Miss Greengrass!"

The cool blonde crossed her arms, not worried in the slightest. "Didn't I tell you that it was my father that gave me the news? Who do you think put the whole thing in motion? He's in the bloody Board of Governors, so perhaps it is you who should mind their tongue, you stupid twat."


"See? Spineless. Like I told you, she wouldn't speak back to a noble. It's in her very core." Icy blue eyes wandered the room. "Feel free to skip the chain of command, and if you ignore traditional house squabbles for a moment, like Hermione did, we can combat a greater evil. Would she stop at teaching? Or will she try to take over the school next? Would she stop us all from using our wands in every class?"

"You are mistaken, Miss Greengrass." Her voice took on an eerie calm, her tone sickly sweet. "Your silly conspiracy notions are clearly a result of spending too much time with these two. Perhaps I can persuade your father to the truth."

She scoffed. "My father's happily married, thank you. But our hippogriff farm could use – "

The pink-clad professor took a couple steps forward, and Daphne's wand dropped from her sleeve. "And what do you plan to do with that wand?"

"Not a damn thing. No one's teaching me how to use it, if you remember. But it's a rather pointy piece of Willow. Made from the tree outside, so I've been told."

"Is that a threat?"

"No, Professor," Hermione said from behind her, very close behind her, "but this is. Use a blood quill on my friend again, and I'll drain you of all ten litres the old-fashioned way. Do we have an understanding, Umbitch?”

She gasped, her hand covering your mouth. "Y-you... You!"

"I mean, we've all called her that before," Parvati noted, with some surprise. "But I wouldn't say it to her face like that."

"When you insult Hermione's intelligence to her face..." her friend shook her head, letting the sentence hang. "I'm surprised her bladder control's still intact at this point. Remember what happened to Malfoy?"

"It's the sole reason I bought a pensieve," Harry revealed, standing beside the mightily pissed witch. "Really, I should start charging to let people see these memories."

"About that. I... have questions," Lavender proposed slowly. "Can a memory of a basilisk paralyze you? Or will I only have to worry about wetting myself?"

"B-basilisk?" Umbridge stuttered, nearly paralyzed herself.

"When I was twelve. I could show you the carcass if you want."

"I still can't promise you'll leave that Chamber," Hermione muttered, still peeved. "If you thought you could do what Voldemort tried and failed four bloody times – oh, wait, that last one didn't happen, did it? And stop flinching, for God's sake! He's dead, isn't he? You're flinching at the name of a dead man! But a muggleborn like me can do what you never could? Do you even know magic, or are you a squib?"

The room was eerily quiet, as if everyone was asking the same question. As if they had always wanted to ask. As if they could already hear the answer.

"You stupid little girl," she sneered. "Don't you dare question my birth right, my heritage!" She took a deep breath, straightening her pink blazer, and gave her an imperious eye. "A duel, child. A public challenge for your insubordination against the ministry, between me and you."

"You and me," Hermione corrected, rolling her eyes. "You should've participated in more practical lessons in your Literature class. And no, I'm not indulging in your childish duel. If you want to kill me, do it like an adult, unsanctioned and unsupervised. I prefer it, actually; call it the muggle side of me."

"I'll take her up on the offer." Harry crossed his arms. "Hermione could wipe the floor with you, but I haven't had the chance to use my wand in so long." He absently ran a hand through his raven locks, and the humidity of the room went up. "Tomorrow sound good?"

She narrowed her eyes. "Be careful what you wish for, Potter."


But he was careful. He and Hermione had been very careful.

After the confrontation, a water beetle flew from Hermione's wild mane, and after being promised a future run through Harry's locks instead, she flew off to write her story.

All four houses had found out about the duel by breakfast time, which was truly impressive to Hermione, as it was so late the previous night when the challenge was presented.

Funnily enough, Harry skipped DADA to refresh on some last-minute spells with Hermione. Lavender, Parvati, Luna and Daphne watched from the side, for moral support.

It was... a wasted effort, really. Dobby had sent him the signal as soon as he saw the guests pop in outside of the gates of Hogwarts. Harry nodded to Flitwick, and the duel began. He thought he had timed it perfectly.

Cornelius charged into the Great Hall, a line of aurors behind him, but he was too late. Dolores was slowly crawling away, towards her wand, while Harry sat with crossed legs, tapping his own holly wand on the stage floor, tiny sparks jumping along the ground, stewing in his own disappointment. It wasn't timed well enough, it seemed. He had gotten hasty.

One of the aurors broke the line, approaching Hermione at the side of the stage, while Fudge rolled onto the elevated platform to check on his undersecretary.

Hermione talked to the unassumingly brown-haired, but clumsy auror with the cockney accent, while Harry shrugged himself up to his feet. He looked out towards the packed Great Hall, spotting a few members of his Army.

"Terry? What did she do wrong?"

He was silent. "You want me to tell you everything she did wrong?"

"Of course not, I'm not Snape. Keep the essay to a minimum."

"Professor Snape, Harry." Dumbledore looked absolutely miserable at the head table, but the duel couldn't be helped if one of them could threaten to get a Ministry grant to force the duel, if necessary. Then it would have made the papers, and that absolutely couldn't happen.

Harry didn't correct himself, waiting for Boot's answer.

"Um... she didn't bow?"

"Courtesy aside, what did she do during the duel itself?"

"She didn't move."

"Correct, Mister Boot. She was sensible enough to wear flats, but her footwear leaves little to be desired for movement. Marietta?"

"She kept shouting her spells."

"Exactly. The shield around this stage had dampened the sound considerably, yet I reckon you could all still hear her. Note that it did not reflect the power of her spell one bit. That is why I stress the ability to whisper cast, and liberal use of the spells you can cast silently. Cho?"

"She... she used an Unforgiveable."

"Yes, that's the one I was looking for. By all accounts, the duel was over then, and she has forfeited not only her wand and positions, but her freedom." He gave Fudge a look, who stared back and forth between the two participants with a slackened jaw. "And yes, I decided to take the full brunt of the spell. Despite her mediocre spell-casting, the Unforgivables are channelled through intent, and make no mistake about it, she hates me. Not as much as Voldemort, so I felt confident. It hurt, but... well, that leads to a lesson that she couldn't teach you; take advantage of every surprise. She assumed I was beaten because she had me under the Cruciatis, and she never saw the disarming spell."

"Actually," Hermione gently interrupted, stepping up to the platform. "She taught all of us a valuable lesson. One that she's just starting to learn. Physical conditioning, natural skill and aptitude, survival instincts, and an advanced knowledge of spells – ”

“ – Hardly my doing on that last one – ”

“ – A beyond healthy retainment of the spells you learn," she quickly corrected, taking her friend's hand. "None of that compares to basic common sense in battle. As she reminded us countless times, Voldemort is dead, which makes Harry, unequivocally, indisputably, the Conqueror of Lord Voldemort. And yet, she chose to face him in a duel." She shook her head. "Your skill and power, how much or how little you have, means nothing if you're stupid."

No one had an argument to that.


I must know my place.
I must know my place.
I must know

She winced again, forcing back tears as she held her hand.

"Hem-hem. Problem?"

Dolores held her hand gingerly, grimacing. "I need to rest."

"How many breaks did you give Harry?"

She chose not to answer. "You can't force me to keep using this!"

"You chose this quill. It was either this, or the pen."

She grit her teeth, and returned to writing. my place.

"Legally, we could have just sent you to Azkaban, you know. When Harry came to me with those marks on his hand, that could have been the end of you." She leaned against the professor's desk, Dolores's desk, as she hugged her elbows. "But you made him hurt. You prolonged his pain, and humiliated him. I hope you understand what I had to do in return. Muggles call it an 'Eye for an Eye'. I suppose you would call it Karma."

"This isn't the end, mudblood. I bet on my magic that I would finish this, and when I do, nothing changes. I will be back in charge, and I will tear your little boyfriend – ”

She laughed in return. "Will you? After all your boasting? There's someone who would disagree with you." She pointed to the corner of the room, at the giant black cauldron. "Harry's pensieve over there, and the business that he started, has certainly recouped the cost of that bloody thing, and I had thought it was a silly, frivolous purchase. Until he pointed out something that seems rather obvious, in hindsight. Did you know that you can add tamper-proof spells to that thing?"

"What is your point?"

"I'll allow you a break. Fifteen minutes. There is one memory in there that I think you should see - your boss certainly had a time and a half watching it. When you finish, I want you to see the headline that directly contradicts your adamant claims." She tilted her head to the rolled up paper, sitting on the desk. "Fresh copy. Some really damning quotes in there. It's a rather interesting read. Thanks to this morning's duel, the article is being edited now as we speak, but I'm sure the headline, and its meaning, won't change." She rolled her eyes. "Even if they had to censor the bloody name."

She blinked once, then again. She took a look at the title - UNDERSECRETARY CHALLENGES BOY-WHO-LIVED, PROMISES TO DO WHAT YOU KNOW WHO COULDN'T - Then she began to write.

I must know my place.

As soon as she was done, she needed to pack.

I must know my place.

She wasn't an idiot. She was never an idiot. Cornelius was the idiot, and she was the messenger.

I must know my place.

Messengers... despite the common phrase, they never fare all that well, do they? And even if she did, career-wise, she was over. So she needed to pack, and she needed to run.

I must know my place.

And she wouldn't - couldn't - come back. Assuming that The Dark Lord had returned - because the girl seemed very confident in that fact, considering the pensieve - her goose was cooked. And even if The Dark Lord were to be slain again, it would be by Potter and Granger's hands, and quite frankly, she wasn't sure which fate was worse.

I must know my place.
I must know my

"Your handwriting's getting sloppy," she chastised, and Dolores didn't have the energy to snatch it back when Granger slipped the sheet from under her quill, the long red scratch it left on the parchment angrily tearing into her arm. "Your punishment isn't fulfilled until I get concise, neat lines. Try again. And try not to get any of your tears on this one; Harry at least had the decency to face away."

With trembling hands, she dropped the quill. "I want the pen."


"I want the damn pen."

"Oh." She pondered. "Well, you called me a mudblood, didn't you? Threatened Harry and me yet again? Demanding, aren't you?" She raised the ruined parchment. "The message clearly hasn't sunk in, has it? Perhaps if you removed those gaudy pink gloves, you'd see the message sink in faster."

She scowled, covering her hand, hissing as the cotton dug into her open cuts. Hermione was unimpressed.

"You're a vile, unmerciful monster. You have no one to support you, no one to protect you. All you have is me to decide your fate. To live, or to die. You are all that's wrong with this world, and your ignorance is why I don't see any hope for wizard-kind."

She jumped in her chair when abruptly, the girl tapped the wand on the table, and a blue fountain pen replaced the red quill. "Luckily, this isn't for me, this is for Harry. And he'd want me to allow you this reprieve. And more importantly, when the memory of this comes forward, perhaps you will be the catalyst for the change you were so desperate to prevent. A renaissance of new understanding." She looked wistful, and proud, suddenly holding the blood quill that started it all in her hand, her fingers grazing over the feather with reverence. "I have you to thank for that, Dolores. A thousand lines; begin."

I must know my place.
I must know my place.
I must know my place.

And somehow, though the painless, smooth glide against the parchment with the muggle instrument, Dolores Umbridge still wasn't sure if she wanted the quill back or not, and suffered through the worst tremors of her entire life.


I'm retired, now. Well, semi-retired. So I'm just posting old stories. More ficlets on my site (along with extended explanation of what's been going on.) rsfics dot com!
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