Disclaimer, I do not own Harry Potter or any of the characters and this is not a way for me to criticize the books. It's just how I believe the characters would react if they read JK Rowling's brilliant work.
In this chapter: Harry's sent multiple letters, and Uncle Vernon goes to extreme lengths to keep him from reading said letters, including staying on an old shack in the middle of the ocean. But before he does that, he gives Harry a real room!
"It's just horrible!" sobbed one of the little Ravenclaw girls Draco, Crabbe, and Goyle were walking in front of to get to the front hall. She couldn't be older than a third year. Because of the different times and days of DADA for each year and house, different groups of people were at different places in the books. Some were just starting them today, others may be on chapter four already. This little group of girls had obviously gotten to chapter two already, maybe even chapter three. He'd be reading that in class today since he had Double DADA. It couldn't be anything worse than what's in the second chapter in there.
Draco reflected, as he walked into The Great Hall, he might have been a little hard on Pansy the night before. Even he was cringing at Potter's treatment. It was deplorable, and he would probably laugh hearing about it but reading about it in detail was something he could have gone the rest of his life without. Still, it was more than a little annoying to have a friend of yours cooing over poor Harry bloody Potter. From what Draco's seen, every female in the damn school was mopping their eyes over Potter, and come to think of it, some of the blokes too. Even some of his Slytherin peers who usually have much more sense were warming up to him it seems.
Daphne Greengrass obviously hadn't done the reading the night before and had been catching up in History Of Magic, where they could be taking notes or dueling each other and Binns wouldn't notice either way. Draco noted that in the beginning she snickered, and soon she was gasping. By the end of the class she looked sullen faced and was trying to discreetly brush away a tear or two. Draco was starting to wonder if this was Potter's plan from the start.
Lunch was uneventful for the most part, until Potter and his mudblood and blood traitor pets came in. Just from the looks on their faces Draco could tell they hadn't read chapter two. Whether or not they read chapter one, he wasn't sure of. However, Draco wasn't stupid enough to believe they'd look as carefree (albeit uncomfortable with the stares coming their way) as they did right at that moment if they read that chapter.
"Do you think Professor Dumbledore could have done something about this?" Draco heard someone he did not know say a little later.
"Of course he could have!" said the other person. "But he likely didn't know!"
Draco glanced at the Gryffindor table as Harry took his last bite of food and rolled his eyes. "Draco!"
He snapped out of his thoughts and looked at Pansy. "What?"
"Do you want to take our break?" she asked. He saw she, Blaise, Crabbe, and Goyle were all looking at him expectedly. He nodded, "Alright."
They got up, and not until they'd gotten to the edge of the table did they notice Potter and company had done the same. They didn't seem to see him or his friends, so Draco slowed down a bit.
"Just wish everyone would stop staring at me." he heard Potter say as they walked towards the exit.
"This will all..." Weasley began but the door shut and the rest of what he said was lost. When they opened the doors again, he heard Potter's response.
"I don't think any of this will ever be normal, Ron."
"I know this is strange, I know it's horrible. But really, Harry, you're putting off reading the chapters we were assigned." Granger said. "We agreed to read together, but we can't wait until right before class on Friday. We can start now if you'd like."
Potter muttered something and Granger sighed.
"We'll do it right before Care of Magical Creatures then."
Almost at the same time, they all realized they were following Potter and his friends and quickly made their way to the dungeons. Nothing really happened. They chatted, Blaise and Nott played chess, just lounged around. When the time came, he gathered his things and he and the others began walking to the Defense Classroom. He took his usual seat, in the front. Umbridge was looking quite pleased with herself.
"Good afternoon, class!" she grinned.
"Good afternoon, Professor Umbridge."
"Did everyone do the reading?"
Mumbled yes's were heard, although no one sounded too happy about it. Draco found he was almost on Potter's side in all of this. That didn't mean if Potter tried to do something like steal the books from everyone and burn them up, which Draco would not put past him, he'd assist the nitwit. It just meant he'd understand if he did. He couldn't imagine having the entire school read about his personal life. He might still mock him about it all, after all, everyone else would be falling over themselves to help him now that he's got another sob story.
Oh my parents died, I had to live with muggles, they treat me like their servant, love me!
"Very good." Umbridge said. "We will be continuing today, reading chapter three. Would anyone want to volunteer to do the reading? Draco?"
Draco frowned. "No thank you."
Umbridge looked unhappy and turned to the rest of the class, but no one spoke up. "Very well, I will do the reading." She cleared her throat and began.
Umbridge finished the chapter with Harry's realization that someone was trying to get into their cabin. For a moment, it made people worry, who in the world could have been attempting to go into that place at midnight.
"It might be a teacher." Said a Ravenclaw mudblood. "When we wrote the letter off as a prank, a professor came and explained everything to us."
"Thank you for that, next time do not speak out of turn." Umbridge said. "Anyone have anything else to add? What have we learned from this chapter?"
Michael Corner raised his hand and when called on said, "That this is one of the most depressing books ever created."
That was something everyone seemed to agree on. Well, everyone except maybe Umbridge, who had smiled every once and awhile at random while exposing Potter's secrets. Even Draco thought so. When Draco heard that Potter had only gotten a coat hanger and an old sock for his birthday, his jaw dropped. Of course he should have expected that Potter's birthdays were horrible as well, but not even a damn card? He couldn't imagine getting nothing but a coat hanger and old socks on his birthday.
Umbridge was not amused now, however. "Anything else?"
"That you can't reason with loons." Corner added on, referring to Vernon Dursley's obsessed and insane behavior. "Especially with logic, like the aunt was trying to do."
Blaise snorted and whispered, "I wrote something similar down."
A Ravenclaw girl raised her hand hesitantly. Umbridge studied her for a moment before saying, "Yes?"
"How did they know he didn't read his letter?" she said. "I mean, he opened the first one, and even nearly unfolded it."
"There's a charm on there that sends word back that the person whom is addressed in the letter has read the entirety of it." Umbridge said, looking a little annoyed at the interruption. "If said person hasn't read it, they will send another."
"And another," Crabbe said under his breath. "And another, and another, and another…"
"Shut up, Crabbe." Malfoy snapped. Crabbe had been annoying him the whole chapter. Especially when he took it upon himself to start humming Hogwarts, Hogwarts, Hoggy-wartty Hogwarts whenever Potter would get a letter. So a lot.
"Does anyone else have something to say?" Umbridge asked.
"That Potter's an idiot." Blaise mumbled. "Why wouldn't he open the letter in the hall in the first place?"
"Maybe he was in shock." Pansy said thoughtfully. "He'd never gotten a letter before, right? How was he supposed to know the giant arse would take it from him?"
Draco was gritting his teeth. He could admit that he had a bit of sympathy for Potter's situation, but now Pansy's defending him. Defending Potter! He whispered, his head turned ever so slightly so that they'd hear, "That would imply he has common sense."
He didn't get a reply back.
"If it says the cupboard on the letter, does that mean they know where he sleeps?" Corner asked.
"There is an automatic system." Umbridge said dismissively. "No wizard has been involved in the actual writing and mailing of the letters for nearly a century when the charm was placed."
"Of course," Blaise mumbled. "No one knows Potter lived in an effing cupboard," Blaise mumbled.
"The prophet would have a field day." Pansy said. Draco raised an eyebrow.
"Is there any reason the prophet shouldn't know?" he asked. Blaise and Pansy looked at each other. Draco was starting to get angry. Last week had he known Potter lived in a cupboard for nine years of his life, he, Blaise, and Pansy would have had a party while sending a letter to the prophet. Now they were more than hesitant. They were sympathizing.
"Erm." Blaise said still looking at Pansy. "I guess… not."
"But it's a little unnecessary, isn't it?" Pansy said quickly. "The entire student body already knows, and I don't think he very much cares what people outside of Hogwarts thinks."
"That's a good point." Blaise said. They looked at Draco, who was playing off his annoyance. Draco shrugged and turned away. Poor Potter had a hard childhood. He wasn't the only one! Why was he stealing Draco's friends. Draco wouldn't send the prophet news on Harry's living arrangements, it'd just continue the trend of Poor Poor Potter. He'd figure out something to do with this information. Last week he would have hexed anybody- hell everybody for the kind of embarrassing shit he was being handed. Why should that change now? Everyone else may be singing to Potter's tune, but not Draco.
"I didn't know Harry had such a temper! I was surprised by the way he yelled at his uncle about wanting his letter!" the more tolerable Patil twin said after being called on. Then, very quietly she added, "Unless you count what happens between him and her," she glanced at Umbridge, "Which- well who could blame him, but he's always so... so serene."
Umbridge didn't hear the second part of what Patil said. "Yes, he was extremely disrespectful in this chapter, and did not follow his uncle's instructions." she tisked. Draco raised an eyebrow. He doubted he'd follow anything that man said as well. Not that he was defending Potter.
"Potter's funny when he has a temper." Pansy said while giggling quietly. Giggling for Merlin's sake! And he remembered hearing Blaise clearly whenever the students laughed while they were reading. Blaise and Pansy were clearly warming up to the Golden Boy, whether they'd admit it or not, and Draco didn't like that at all. No, Potter had enough allies, he didn't need to take any of Draco's. "His response to Dudley was so great I thought I'd die from laughing so hard."
When Potter told Dudley the toilet would get sick from having something horrible like Dudley's head down it, Umbridge actually had to pause reading because most of the class had laughed for so long. Even many of the Slytherins. Draco knew of Potter's cheek, as he was often on the other side of it, even he managed a chuckle from that one.
"In fact, I think that was a Common Room Line!" Pansy continued
A Common Room Line. Being in Slytherin meant constantly proving yourself. In the first year, a good witty remark or comeback usually meant you got to sit in one of the good seats. Draco had used one on his second day, and had a seat ever since. Keeping the seat meant throwing one out every once and awhile to keep that respect. Some of the best quotes and comebacks Draco had ever heard had been in the common room, and there was now a list of the very best ones that was posted on their wall, entitled Common Room Lines. Pansy calling what Potter said a CRL meant it was a really good one. Draco had said some great stuff, and he was only on the list twice. Pansy was giving Potter quite the compliment.
"No one pointed out one of the most important things we've gained from this chapter." Umbridge said. "You notice his helplessness in this situation he's in? His inability to make things better for himself? You all should have made note of that. Miss. Parkinson, give me one example of this."
Pansy was aware that she had been called on because she had been talking and Umbridge wanted to punish her without giving her a detention or taking away points. But she had an answer ready anyway. "When the Uncle yelled at him for a long time, and then told him to go make him tea."
Many people mumbled their agreement.
Pansy continued in a low voice so that Umbridge couldn't hear, "I wanted to yell 'poison it. Poison it, Harry!'" Draco scowled. No, it wasn't that he didn't agree with what she said, he'd have actually gone up to Potter and clapped him on the back if he had done that. No, it was the fact that Pansy had called him Harry. It was likely just a slip of the tongue, the books didn't call him Potter after all, but still. These books, they were becoming more of a menace than a laugh.
"Or how about the fact that they have a guest room and a second room for their brat of a son and Potter still had to sleep in a cupboard! I mean, are you kidding me?" Blaise went off. Draco glanced back and Blaise looked legitimately angry. "Are you joking? Four rooms and two of them aren't even used? And Potter's sleeping in a bloody-fucking-"
"Mr. Zabini!" Umbridge hushed. "Five points from Slytherin!"
Blaise quieted down for the most part. Draco thought he could still hear heavy breathing. He thought he saw Boot giving them a strange look, so he quickly glared at him and Boot looked away.
"But you do make a valid point, that is another example of when Mr. Potter was helpless. Remember this when you continue reading. Right now, however, we are out of time." Umbridge eyed the book thoughtfully, and then nodded to herself. "Draco, do you read this alone?"
Draco raised an eyebrow and shook his head. "I read it with Pansy, Blaise, Crabbe, and Goyle."
She nodded. "I suspected as much. This is the best way to read outside of class. I want everyone to read chapters five through seven this weekend with the groups which I will assign for you. I will have a the list of groups posted in each of your common rooms with who you'll be reading with and I don't want to hear any complaints. As for now, read chapter four before the weekend, class dismissed."
"Why is she assigning groups?" Crabbe asked him much later as they walked to Care of Magical Creatures. Draco shrugged with one shoulder, unbothered, as long as he didn't get anyone stupid. Although he was reading with Crabbe and Goyle...
Care of Magical Creatures was Draco's least favorite class. The giant was a bloody imbecile and the creatures were menaces. So it wasn't hard to notice three people missing from class (what else was he supposed to do? Pay attention?). Potter, Weasley, and Granger. He remembered Granger saying they would read before this class, but he had no idea why that would make them late. If they had a break before Care of Magical Creatures, depending how long the break was, they may not have finished a chapter and lost track of time or something. Draco wasn't going to spend too much time thinking about it
They didn't end up showing up until dinner, and they certainly didn't show up quietly.
They were a few minutes late, so everyone was already beginning their food when the doors flew open and a red in the face Weasley came stomping in. Granger was right behind him, wet cheeks and swollen red eyes noticeable from a distance. Potter was several steps behind them looking like he wanted the earth to swallow him whole. Weasley was marching straight past the Gryffindor table, not seeming to care that all eyes were on him. His left hand was holding the book of Potter's life, his thumb keeping track of a certain page, and his right hand held his wand. Granger was trying to keep him from doing whatever stupid thing he was about to do, although from where he was Draco thought a part of her may want to join him in it.
Potter seemed to realize they weren't simply going to eat and quickly caught up trying to defuse the Weasley, but Weasley was already at the head table holding the book out in front of Dumbledore. "No meals!"
His loud voice coupled with the pin drop silence of the hall made his words echo all around.
"No bloody meals?!" he threw the book to the side but his wand was already up and pointed at their headmaster before the book made impact with something, so it was the last thing on any of their minds. "You knew didn't you? You knew this was happening!"
Potter and Granger were now trying to physically remove him but he didn't budge as he just started breathing heavily like a dragon about to breathe fire. Umbridge was grinning, not daring to stop as the longer Weasley would go on the more she'd be able to get him in trouble for. Snape, however, stepped in.
"It would behoove you to hold your tongue, Weasley, and maybe point your wand somewhere else."
"Bite me, Snape!"
"Shut up Hermione!" Granger jumped, the hurt and anger battling on her face and the anger was winning. But Weasley had already rounded back on Dumbledore.
"Do you even care? Do you even give a damn? Maybe you didn't know about all of this, maybe you just dropped him on the doorstep and didn't look back!" Weasley was near growling now. "He's ten here! Who- Who treats a ten year old like- like-"
He broke out in line of vulgar curses. Draco was so far quite entertained, and began eating his soup while watching the show. Dumbledore looked no different than he normally did, simply watching the scene unfold. Granger watched Weasley for a moment before she turned on Dumbledore as well.
"When you took him as your responsibility that night, sir, you made him your responsibility as... as almost another guardian! With all due respect, you should have checked on him constantly and consistently! Forgive me, sir, but what were you thinking? He'd lost everyone, the least he could have had was someone who gave a-" she seemed to catch herself, remembering where she was and who she was talking to. "Someone who cared about him."
Potter mumbled something, tugging on both of them.
"Why didn't you tell us!" Weasley yelled, now looking almost hysterical. Potter kept his mouth tightly shut. Granger was a lot softer.
"Harry, we're your best friends... we care about you..." she glanced at Weasley. "We're not blaming you. Ron's just... he isn't mad at you. We know it's not your fault, but you... you could have told us."
Potter took a deep breath. Draco glanced at the head table. Snape still looked angry at being told to 'bite' Weasley, almost looking like he wanted to hex Weasley himself but he had more sense and self control. Dumbledore looked pensive. McGonagall looked like she wanted to break this up, but from the looks she was giving Dumbledore, also agreed with everything that had been said. Umbridge looked on eagerly.
"You want to talk about it?" Harry asked calmly. "Alright let's talk about it, but not here."
Granger nodded but Weasley was still thinking with his rage. "No! You know what? I'm not done with him!" he pointed at Dumbledore. He didn't notice the angry look on Potter's face "Maybe he'd like to hear what you've got to say? See what excuses he comes up with, how it was for the best-"
"Ron if you want to talk let's bloody well talk! But I'm not having something else about me that should be private broadcasted to everyone, AGAIN!" Potter yelled louder than Weasley had ever been, his voice sending vibrations onto the table Draco was sitting at. His hand was outstretched towards the tables to fully make his point. Umbridge looked like she'd gotten the best present of her life. Draco was amused to see that some people had actually jumped.
"That's the I want my letter rage there." Blaise mumbled.
Harry wasn't finished. "For ONCE I'd like something to be my own bloody business! So let's GO!"'
Weasley glanced around, as if finally realizing where he was.
"Perhaps a talk between the three of you is necessary." Dumbledore finally said. Weasley looked like he wanted to point his wand at the man again, but finally controlled himself and nodded at Potter. Everyone watched the three of them walk out, and the hall was quiet. Those who hadn't understood what Weasley was talking about because they hadn't read that far, like Weasley's siblings from the looks of it, went about pulling out their books.
Dumbledore raised a hand, "You may read in your own free time, let us continue dinner now."
People were muttering and whispering to themselves and each other about what had just happened, some began eating again, and then a girlish giggle could be heard.
"Well, I think something must be done about that little display. I'll have them in my office right after dinner-"
"That's quite alright, Dolores. As I was the target, I'll deal with this." Dumbledore said as if he were doing her a favor. Umbridge smiled sweetly.
"May I remind you of Decree Number Twenty-Five?" Umbridge said pleasantly. "In which I was given supreme authority of all punishments-"
"If they break school rules, and while it's certainly frowned upon to make such a scene, it is not against any written school rules."
"Mr. Weasley threatened you!"
"He was simply pointing with a hand that happened to hold his wand."
"He threw a book! It could have hit a student!"
"Simply dropped it from what I saw." Dumbledore smiled, and even from a distance Draco thought he saw his eyes doing that glinting, twinkling thing they liked to do.
"I saw the same thing." McGonagall. Said taking a sip from her glass. "Pomona?"
"Same thing!" Sprout giggled.
"I saw the same as well!" Flitwick squeaked.
"So as you can see, it's all been handled." Dumbledore said. "But I thank you for caring for my well being."
Draco couldn't quite believe what just happened. Potter and his friends got off easy again, and most of the Heads of Houses helped! But Snape didn't, he looked just as bitter as Draco felt.