Continuing Tales

Just Let it Happen

A Harry Potter Story
by La. Bel. LM

Part 4 of 35

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Just Let It Happen

That night was the first in which Hermione walked in her sleep. Or, at least, it was the first night she noticed. There was every possibility that she had roamed around the castle as an unconscious zombie before, and had simply woken the next morning none the wiser.

This morning, however, she noticed.

When she first awoke, her entire body seemed to ache from exhaustion. It took a few moments before she could muster up the will to open her eyes - though, when at last she did, she immediately wished she hadn't. Surrounding her bed was what appeared to be a crowd of whispering, giggling, First and Second Year Gryffindors (boys included!), all of whom were staring at her intently.

"Wh-what are you doing in my bedroom?" Hermione started to say, rubbing at her eyes groggily. Then, as she looked blearily around, she discovered something else rather odd.

"Oh!" Hermione sat up with a gasp, at last aware that what she was currently looking at was not the familiar red cotton of her bed curtains. "Oh," she groaned again as she glanced around and found herself sprawled, rather ungracefully, smack in the middle of the Gryffindor common room floor.

Well, not the middle exactly…

"Would you mind moving? We have projects to check on in Green House Four before breakfast and you are blocking our exit."

Hermione scrambled to her feet, too mortified to register the young girl's snippety tone. Struck by another realization, Hermione looked down and felt her cheeks burn as she confirmed that she was indeed wearing her baby blue flannel nightgown (complete with miniature bows and a rather frilly collar). She flushed all the way from the tips of her hair down to her thick, woolen socks. "I–I–I," she stammered helplessly as they all filed past her and out the Portrait hole, a few of the girls giving her very odd sideways looks and bending their heads together to whisper quietly to themselves.

"I – er – Sorry I was in the way," she called after them lamely as the Portrait hole closed, leaving her alone once again. Then, with a barely contained sob of embarrassment, Hermione turned and scurried up to the girls' dormitory as fast as her legs could carry her.

"Hermione, what's the matter? You look sort of pale." Harry's dark eyebrows were furrowed in concern.

Hermione just shook her head tiredly, the aftereffects of that morning still weighing heavily on her ego.

The three of them sat in the Great Hall, taking turns playing each other at Wizard Chess and eating breakfast. Or, in Hermione's case, nibbling distractedly on a small piece of toast.

"I think you need more sleep," said Ron as he dug a substantial chunk out of the butter bowl with his knife and slapped it on a biscuit.

"Brilliant observation, Ronald," Hermione snapped, opening her copy of The Daily Prophet with a noisy flourish. A picture of Cornelius Fudge shaking hands with an extremely large, dark-haired man flashed under a headline that read: MINISTRY MAKES A NEW FREND.

"Who wrote that article?" asked Harry quickly, cutting off Ron, who had just opened his mouth for what Harry was sure would be a very unhelpful remark. "Looks like they need a new editor." Harry pointed at the gross misspelling of the word 'friend.'

Hermione heaved a huge sigh. "No, Harry, it's a pun. Though a very tacky one, so I agree with you that they need a new editor. You see that man in the picture?" She pointed to the massive man shaking the Minister's hand. "His name is Turnus Frend. Stupid name, if you ask me. What? Sorry, I know that was rude. But there's something about him that rubs me the wrong way. And would you believe—It says right here, he recently signed on with the Ministry to head up the Department of International Magical Cooperation. Huge mistake."

"Why?" asked Harry, who hadn't the faintest idea what she was talking about.

"Well, he's... I mean obviously he... Haven't you been reading the news?"

Harry looked slightly affronted. "Of course I read the news! Alright... I've just been sort of scanning the front page for the past month or so. But you know I'm only interested in big stuff anyway."

Hermione rolled her eyes and flattened out the newspaper on the table so that Harry could get a better look. "This is big stuff, Harry. Frend joining the Ministry is a very big deal. Especially after the mud-slinging that's been going on between our Ministry and the M.A.R. I suppose a lot of it hasn't been front page news. You just have to read between the lines, and it's not hard to pick most of this up if you pay attention."

Ron, who had previously been pondering over his next move, caught Harry's gaze and rolled his eyes.

Harry smiled knowingly in return and shrugged. "I guess you're right, Hermione," he said, wincing as Ron's queen pounded one of his poor, unsuspecting pawns into dust. "I don't read as thoroughly as you do." Harry then hesitated for a moment, feeling as though he should at least make an attempt to get caught up on current affairs, but not terribly keen on sitting through another all-too-explicit-Hermione-lecture. Finally, throwing caution to the wind, Harry asked tentatively, "What's the M.A.R.?"

"It stands for Magical Administration of Russia," said Ron promptly, finally taking interest in the subject now that he had done significant damage to Harry's line of defense (also perhaps because he was looking to intercept Hermione before she could really get rolling). "And I've heard of that, whathisname, Frend. Dad's with you, Hermione, doesn't like him at all. Then again, Dad also says he's siding with Russia when it comes down to that nasty business with the Giants, so he's a bit partial to—"

Harry looked up from the chessboard, the pawn in his hand momentarily forgotten. "What Giants?"

"I uh... I'm not exactly sure on the exact details," said Ron offhandedly. "Dad goes on and on sometimes and I sort of zone out, you know. All I remember is that they found some Giants in Russia and Fudge went mental."

Hermione could no longer contain herself. "You see, Harry," she began enthusiastically, "it all started with this undiscovered tribe of Giants hiding out in the western mountain ranges of Russia—"

"Oh yeah! That's right," interrupted Ron.

Hermione ignored him. "They had been hiding there for hundreds of years apparently – of course, they claim that they were simply living there, not hiding at all – but who can really know? Anyway, some researchers from the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures stumbled on them about four months ago while following some leads on a new species of Chimera. And they – the researchers, I mean – must not have made many friends on their trip, because they reported back to Fudge that the people of western Russia had known all along about the Giants and were helping to keep their existence a secret—"

Harry raised his eyebrows. "I'll bet Fudge wasn't pleased about that."

"Not particularly," Hermione replied.

"I'm telling you, he went mad," interjected Ron again. "I didn't see Dad for a week, he was at the office so often."

"What did he do?" asked Harry.

Ron opened his mouth to reply, but Hermione jumped in. "An awful lot of whining and complaining. Every quote the Daily Prophet has printed about him since July has been some sort of insult over the 'blatant deceitfulness' of the M.A.R."

"Didn't he also—" Ron started to say.

Hermione cut him off once again. "Then, of course, Fudge called an International Magical Cooperation council meeting near the end of summer. Fudge finally approached Oleg – the Russian representative and figurehead for the M.A.R. – and accused him of conspiring with the Giants. Obviously Oleg took extreme offense at that. He flatly denied everything and then started off on the Minister, accusing him of sending the Ministry in to spy on Russia's administration."

Harry whistled, paying absolutely no attention to his hand as he haphazardly placed his only remaining rook directly in the path of Ron's bishop, which, with a small encouragement from Ron, proceeded to dismember the rook with a particularly violent swing.

Hermione nodded. "Exactly. And so that's when the big debate started. Or at least I assume it was a big debate, because all of this information is suspiciously hard to find in the papers. A few interviews here and there, and I had to ask around a bit to get the full story. Anyway, Oleg refused to cooperate, saying that none of this was even Fudge's business to begin with, while Fudge claimed that he had every right to interfere because of some clause called... called... Well I can't remember exactly, it was rather long..." Hermione started flicking through the paper looking for quotes, but gave up a few moments later. "Whatever the clause was, Oleg didn't seem to believe it was very legitimate because he wouldn't budge, and neither would Fudge. So the two administrations have simply been in a deadlock for these past few months."

Harry opened his mouth, and was cut short as Ron proudly exclaimed, "Checkmate."

Startled, Harry looked over at Ron. "Right, good game," he replied with a dismissive wave.

Ron looked mildly affronted, but Harry did not seem to notice.

"So how does this Turny fellow fit into all of this?" Harry grabbed the paper from Hermione and flipped it to the front page again. "And how come he's headline news all of a sudden?"

"That's Turnus," Hermione corrected patiently. "And how he fits into all of this is actually rather tricky. You see, after all that horrible nonsense that went back and forth between our administration and theirs, obviously tensions were running high. Then, about two weeks ago, Oleg turned up dead."

Harry's eyes widened.

"At first the papers just had a little note in the back, saying he had fallen and hit his head on the bathroom sink, and wasn't it an unfortunate accident, blah, blah. But that didn't seem to satisfy a lot of people in the M.A.R. They all started to get really suspicious, saying that somehow Fudge was directly responsible for Oleg's death. At least, I think that's what they were saying. I had to read a German newspaper to get this part, and I don't think my translation was very good."

"Wow," Harry breathed. "Why haven't we talked about this before? I know I should read the paper more often, but honestly, you'd think you could have mentioned it."

"I don't know," Hermione replied evasively. "I suppose it never came up. It didn't have anything to do with…You-Know-Who, so… Anyway, we're talking about it now."

Harry gave her a look. "Fine. So what happened after that?"

"Right. A few weeks after Oleg died, this Frend fellow shows up out of nowhere and takes over his position. Couldn't tell you if he was voted in or not, I'm not quite sure how they do things over there. Either way, Frend somehow came to power and surprised everyone by instantly setting out to resolve the whole dispute with Fudge. He gave our Ministry full permission to poke around the mountains all we wanted, and Fudge, along with all the other representatives, elected him Chairman of the Foreign Affairs committee in return. That's what made headlines today. It sounds flashy and all that, but I don't think we've managed to mend any ties between us and the M.A.R. Personally, I think they got the short end of the stick – publicly accused and investigated and all that, and I'm sure they feel the same way. But sometimes I guess there are just no other options when it comes to a man like Fudge.

"Oh, I despise that man!" she hissed angrily. "Here he is causing trouble with one of our very few allies, and right when we really need them the most! He still won't admit to Vo-Vol… You-Know-Who's return! He is so foul! All the evidence he needs is sitting right there in front of him and he just refuses to – Oops, sorry, Ron…"

Hermione had gesticulated a bit too energetically and accidentally knocked a goblet of pumpkin juice directly into Ron's lap, who then leapt out of his chair with a yelp.

Harry, his head buzzing with Hermione's lengthy exposition, turned back to studying the picture on the front page of The Daily Prophet.

Turnus Frend was at least two feet taller than Fudge, with broad shoulders and charcoal hair that was parted right down the middle in an immaculate and disturbingly neat sort of way. He had a jutting, sturdy jaw, and two of the most piercing blue eyes Harry had ever seen, ones that glinted menacingly from beneath a very prominent brow. And although Frend and Fudge appeared to be shaking hands jovially, Harry had the feeling that neither of them liked each other very much at all.

"It's fine, Hermione, I've got it – I've got it!" Ron's face was scarlet as he batted Hermione's wand away; she was making a very valiant, yet admittedly awkward attempt at drying his pants for him.

Sparing a quick glance and amused snort at their expense, Harry then began to flick through the rest of The Daily Prophet, wondering what other snippets of news he had missed lately.

"There's really nothing else of interest in there, Harry," Hermione said finally as she sat back in her chair, shaking her head at a very flustered and red-faced Ron, who had clearly not enjoyed the sensation of having Hermione's wand pointed at his privates.

A group of girls at the Ravenclaw table had obviously witnessed the whole scene because they were giggling madly and looking pointedly at Ron.

Ron immediately made himself very busy putting away the chess set.

Harry flipped another page, utterly engrossed in his reading. "Well this is… This is kind of funny actually. Have either of you seen this story about a… Lentlowe. Charlie Lentlowe?"

Ron outright laughed. "Is that the bloke from Denmark who smuggled love potion in the water pipes? Dean was telling me about it this morning. Brilliant."

Hermione made a small noise of disgust. "It was not brilliant," she quipped. "Rather stupid and immature, to be honest. If you keep reading, you'll see the article explains how the waterline he contaminated only reached about fifty people or so, all Muggles, and, according to the leading experts, the potion was not even well-made to begin with. Hardly affected most people and only acted like a common aphrodisiac to the rest. Honestly, it's ridiculous what some people consider news these days."

"I still think it's brilliant," Ron said as he put away the last chess piece and stored the set in his bag. "Just imagine watching those poor idiots wander the city, all flushed and goofy, coming-on to anything that moves."

"Oh yes, I wonder what that's like," Hermione said sarcastically, staring pointedly at him.

Harry started to laugh, but quickly suppressed it.

"Come on, Hermione," Ron pressed, "what if someone did that at Hogwarts? Don't tell me you wouldn't laugh if we were in Charms and some girl was being all mooney over Professor Flitwick."

Despite herself, Hermione giggled.

"Or how about Malfoy trying to woo McGonagall?" chimed Harry.

Ron roared with laughter.

"Well, all I've got to say," Hermione cut in, once she had finished giggling, "is that neither of you would think it was very funny if you were the ones on your knees in front of the whole class, spouting sonnets to Professor Trelawney. Honestly, can you imagine how embarrassing that would be? You'd be laughed into oblivion. It just seems so painful, and unnerving, and degrading, and utterly... utterly..." Suddenly, Hermione slammed her cup down on the table and reached under the bench for her bag.

"Er... Hermione?" Ron stopped laughing as Hermione continued to gather up belongings in a furious rush. "Is something wrong?" he asked tentatively.

"I'm going to the library," she said quickly, slinging her book bag over her shoulder and trotting away.

The boys watched her go with mirrored expressions of confusion.

"I hate it when you do that!" Ron called after her, but she was already out the door.

Hermione blew through the aisles, snatching down book after book and throwing them all into a steadily growing heap on one of the many large study tables in a back corner of the library.

"Hermione, what are you doing?" Ginny asked as she saw her fellow Gryffindor and approached, gingerly picked up one of the books Hermione had just discarded.

Ginny took one glance at the title and gasped. "Love potions?" she asked, her eyebrows raised so high that they were in danger of disappearing into her ginger hair. Then she smiled. "You know, if you really want Ron to like you, you could just try telling him–"

"Don't be ridiculous." Hermione snatched the book out of Ginny's hands. "I like Ron just fine as a friend... And I'm not making a love potion. There are simply a few ingredients in there that may help me with a new project I'm working on."

Ginny made an exasperated noise. "A new project? Are you mad? I thought you just started one."

Hermione stopped shuffling through the shelves long enough to give Ginny a sidelong glance and an uncharacteristically mischievous smile. "This is not a project for school," she said slyly.

Ginny's eyes narrowed suspiciously. "What do you mean? What was that look for?"

"Oh, nothing." Hermione grabbed another book off the shelf and set it down behind her. "But I promise it'll be fun. Want to help?"

There was a slight pause. "I suppose so," said Ginny warily as she slowly sat in the nearest vacant seat. "What is this new project of yours called?"


If Ginny had been drinking something at that moment, there was no doubt in her mind that it would have come shooting straight out her nose. "You?" she sputtered. "Revenge? On whom? What for? It's not illegal is it?"

Hermione laughed. "Yes, it is revenge — No, I'm not telling who for — And I'm quite sure it is illegal actually... but then again I suppose that's half the fun." Then she turned, grabbed the largest and most intimidating book from her monstrous pile, and sat down to read it. "Of course, if you don't want to help," she hastened to add, "I completely understand. I'm giving you a chance to back out now. I won't hold it against you if you don't want to risk it."

Immediately Ginny's face lit up. "Are you kidding? And give up the chance of seeing you do something illegal? Count me in!"

Just Let it Happen

A Harry Potter Story
by La. Bel. LM

Part 4 of 35

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