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Chapter 6:
Congressus
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"Let us not look back in anger, nor forward in fear, but around in awareness."
--James Thurber

Harry looked up from his charms book and rubbed his eyes tiredly as the portrait hole opened and Professor McGonagall stepped through. She glanced over at them, and he frowned. He knew why she was there—Umbridge. Despite what he'd been told, he couldn't help but feel that he'd let Umbridge win by letting Snape find out about her detentions.

"Mr. Weasley, Miss Granger, please fetch the rest of the Gryffindors." She glanced around the common room. "We're having a whole House meeting, so I need everyone to stay here," her voice was pitched to carry.

"What's this about?" Ron muttered as he got up.

"Umbridge, I expect," Harry whispered. "Professor Snape saw my scar."

"I told you that you should tell," Hermione said before darting towards the girls' dorms.

"Prat," Ron called after her as he headed towards the boys' side.

Harry drew his knees up to his chest and wrapped his arms around them. He really didn't want to be a part of this meeting. In fact, he'd have given anything to disappear right then. "Mr. Potter," Professor McGonagall's quiet voice interrupted his musings.

"Yes, Professor?" he answered neutrally.

She studied him for a moment before speaking. "It will get better," she promised.

Harry scowled. "Will it?" he asked. "Because from my perspective, everything keeps getting worse."

Before McGonagall could answer, students began to come down the stairs, filling the common room, chattering to each other. "Gryffindors, settle down," she said.

Slowly, silence fell over the room, so she nodded in satisfaction. "It has been brought to our attention that Professor Umbridge has been using a highly illegal and dangerous object in her detentions," she said.

Harry repressed a snort, and other students stirred restlessly.

"We do not have long until the end of the term, but Umbridge has made herself untouchable. Therefore, I and the other Heads are asking that as much as possible, do not draw her attention. Do your best not to get caught doing anything that could cause her to subject you to one of her punishments. If you do get one assigned to you, you are to come to me or one of the other Heads of House immediately."

Harry sank lower in his chair, trying to hide from sight. Umbridge hadn't be pleased with the Quibbler article, but there was no way in hell that he'd retract what he'd told Rita Skeeter.

"I need to see every student who has served a detention with Umbridge to come and see me," McGonagall said. "The rest of you, get up to your dormitories-—there will be no wandering tonight."

Harry, Lee, and almost a dozen other students made their way to her as the other students headed into the dormitories. He stayed silent, unwilling to be the first one to speak. "Is this about that quill, Professor?" Lee asked.

Professor McGonagall inclined her head. "Yes. I'm assuming that she had all of you use it?"

Out of the corner of his eyes, Harry saw everyone nod. Mentally, he winced. Perhaps if he'd told the first week, everyone else could've been spared Umbridge's detentions.

"Very well, then," McGonagall said briskly. "Tomorrow, during your free periods, all of you are to report to Madam Pomfrey. An Auror will be there to take your statements, and any marks left from Professor Umbridge's detentions will be documented."

She was answered by a ragged chorus of, "Yes, ma'am," and "Yes, Professor."

"All of you except Mr. Potter are dismissed,” she said. “Up to your beds, please."

The others left, trooping towards the stairs. Harry shifted from foot to foot uneasily. He didn't want to talk about either Umbridge or the Dursleys, and that seemed to be what his professors always wanted to talk to him about lately.

Professor McGonagall motioned for him to sit in one of the squashier armchairs. "Harry--"

His head snapped up when she addressed him by his given name; it simply wasn't normal for a teacher to call him anything but his surname. "Yes, Professor?" Harry deliberately kept his tone neutral.

"Have you had any more visions?" she asked.

"Just the one with the doors that I told Professor Snape about," he answered cautiously.

Professor McGonagall reached out, as if to touch him. Harry shrank back into his chair, avoiding the touch.

Professor McGonagall sighed quietly. "Harry, you do know that you can trust us, don't you?"

Harry wasn't so sure of that, but he gave her a cautious nod, anyway. He'd long since learned that it was safer to simply agree with what the adults said, and right now he was vulnerable to whatever they wanted to do with him.

McGonagall frowned slightly. He could tell that she didn't entirely believe his nod. "If you have another vision," she began, "I want you to go straight to either Professor Snape or myself; Professor Snape would probably be a better choice because he's still reporting You-Know-Who's plans to the Headmaster."

"Yes, ma'am," he said. While Harry could see the logic in that, it also felt like a rejection. She was shoving him off on someone else, which, frankly, wasn't anything new.

"If you need anything, Mr. Potter, come and see me," she said. "Now off to bed with you."

Harry simply nodded and headed up into his dormitory. Moving slowly over to his bed, he fished his worn pajamas out of his trunk and changed into them. He climbed onto his bed and wrapped his arms around his knees.

"Harry?" Ron came over and joined him.

"Yeah?"

"Somebody saw the Umbitch's scar, didn't they?" he asked.

"Snape did," Harry muttered. "He wasn't happy about it."

Ron gave him a one-armed hug. "I'd imagine not," he said dryly. "Hogwarts is supposed to be the safest place in Britain; it's part of why so many people send their kids here."

Harry allowed himself to lean against his best friend for a moment. "Just once," he said, "I'd like to have a normal year. One with nobody out to kill me in which my biggest worry is passing potions."

Ron snorted. "Not bloody likely," he commented. "Trouble seems to find us."

They lapsed into silence for a few minutes. Neville, Dean, and Seamus were talking softly at the other end of the room, stopping occasionally to shoot glances at him. Ron opened his mouth to say something, but he was interrupted by the twins entering the room.

"Aww, isn't that sweet..." Fred began.

"...Ickle Ronniekins..." George continued.

"...And Ickle Harrykins..." Fred said.

"...Together." George finished with a wide grin.

"Shut it," Harry said, rolling his eyes.

"Aren't you supposed to be in your dormitory?" Ron asked, crossing his arms over his chest.

"The shame," George said.

"...The infamy..." Fred moaned.

"...Why in Merlin's name..." George put his hand over his heart.

"...Did we get another brother..." Fred shook his head sadly.

"...Who's a prefect?" George pretended to wipe away tears.

"At least Harry..." Fred clapped George on the shoulder.

“...Didn't let us down." George nodded in satisfaction.

Both Harry and Ron rolled their eyes. "We thought you were over that," Harry said.

"Yeah--I've been a prefect for a while now, and I usually don't let it get in the way," Ron pointed out.

Fred and George exchanged identical smiles. "Well, little twins..."

At this, Harry choked, so Ron pounded him on the back. "Does this mean that we're Hon and Rarry now, Gred and Forge?" Ron asked with a grin.

"Well, Harry's one of us..." Fred said.

"...And since you're the same age..." George continued.

"...We figure that..." Fred grinned.

"...It makes you..."

"...Twins, too."

Harry and Ron exchanged glances. "Guess we must be fraternal, then, because we look nothing alike," Harry observed.

Ron shrugged. "Well, we could adopt you, but I'm older than you are by about five months."

Fred and George collapsed onto Harry's bed. "Poor Mum," George said with a grin.

"...It was a difficult pregnancy..." Fred said with a mischievous smile.

Before George could continue, Harry smacked him upside the head. "Hey! What was that for?" he protested.

Harry rolled his eyes again. "What are you two doing here, anyway?" he asked.

"Yeah," Ron said. "Knowing McGonagall, she'll probably choose tonight to do a bed check since she sent all of us up so early, and if you get caught..."

"We won't," Fred promised.

"We're just here to tell Harry that Snape and the Aurors interviewed us about the Dursleys," George said.

"We knew they would," Harry said in a strained voice. He shot a quick glance at the rest of his roommates; none of them were paying the twins any mind.

"But we thought you'd like to hear it from us," Fred said. "We're sorry it took so long, but with pranking Umbridge..."

"We haven't had the time, and we've a message from Snuffles for you, too," George informed them.

"He said to tell you that the package he gave you was a two way mirror..." Fred began.

"And you're to use it to talk to him..." George finished.

"How did you manage to get word from him?" Harry asked, puzzled. Umbridge had been monitoring the mail for some time now, after all.

A wicked grin spread over Fred's face. "The Owl Office in Hogsmeade isn't monitored," he informed them.

"We sent an owl from there and had them hold return owls to us." George said, obviously pleased by their own cleverness.

"Wicked," Ron breathed.

"Why didn't we think of that?" Harry wondered out loud.

"It's not like we don't know how to sneak into Hogsmeade," Ron said.

"We could've been sending letters that way all year!" Harry moaned.

Fred shook his head. “They're just not devious enough,” he lamented.

"Pity, that," George said. "Harry, as both our unofficial brother, and Ron's unofficial twin..."

"...If you need anything whilst we're still here..."

"...You can come and see us..."

"...But we'd better go now..."

"...Pranks to plan..."

"...Umbridge to embarrass..."

"...Be sure to..."

"...Watch the Head Table at breakfast..."

"Don't get caught," Ron warned them. "We don't need you expelled, and the Umbitch has that power now."

"Yes, Mum," George quipped. The twins stood up and left.

"Barmy, both of them," Harry muttered.

"They made you smile," Ron pointed out.

"Yeah," he said. Harry got up and started rummaging in his trunk. "Maybe I should call Sirius," he said.

Ron moved back over to his own bed. "Tell him I said hello, all right?"

"Sure," Harry answered. He found the mirror, climbed into his bed, shut the curtains, and cast a silencing spell. He had a lot to tell his godfather.