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What If by Teddy1993

Format: Novel
Chapters: 27
Word Count: 75,368
Status: COMPLETED

Rating: 15+
Warnings: Strong Language, Strong Violence, Scenes of a Mild Sexual Nature

Genres: Romance, Action/Adventure, AU
Characters: Harry, Ron, Hermione, Dumbledore, Snape, Ginny
Pairings: Harry/Ginny

First Published: 12/17/2013
Last Chapter: 04/29/2014
Last Updated: 04/29/2014

Summary:
 What would have happened if Harry had asked Ginny to the Yule Ball?

This story has various plot points that aren't in the HP books.

 


Chapter 1: A Date
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Chapter 1: A Date

“Harry, the ball’s in five days. We can’t be the only guys who don’t have a date!”

“I know, Ron,” Harry sighed. “But if it weren’t for bloody Cedric Diggory, I’d already have a date.”

Harry and Ron were sitting in the common room after dinner. The Yule Ball was coming up in five days and neither of them had managed to successfully get a girl to go with them. Harry had asked Cho between classes just that day, but she had rejected him, as she had already agreed to go with Cedric. Cedric Diggory… Harry had just started to like him, too, maybe even be friends with him, despite the fact that Cedric seemed to be “everyone’s favorite champion,” seeing as he was handsome, athletic and smart. Ron, meanwhile, in a moment of madness, had asked Fleur Delacour. Of course, Fleur had rejected Ron, looking rather disgusted while she did it. Harry had already thought of asking Hermione to the ball, but he didn’t really like that idea either. Not only would Ron kill him for trying, Harry also didn’t want Hermione to think that he had any romantic feelings for her. He was sure that she was waiting for Ron to ask her, even shooting down Viktor. Then, there was that other option…

At that moment, he saw a couple of third year girls come into the common room, closely followed by Hermione. She had, naturally, been in the library. Not that she had that much homework to do with the Christmas holidays coming up, but she took SPEW very seriously. Actually, a little too seriously… Harry wouldn’t really mind that much if she didn’t keep trying to advertise elf rights in the common room and trying to get people to join up . Luckily, since Harry was a school champion in the Triwizard Tournament, and was still trying to figure out the clue to the second task, she had stopped bothering him. Of course, this meant that she started bothering Ron about it.

“I sold three more badges today,” Hermione said brightly. “I think more people are starting to get interested in house elf rights!”

“No, they’re not,” Ron laughed. “They’re only paying you to stop you from bothering them!”

“Very funny, Ron. Ha, ha.”

“Oh, come on, Hermione. You don’t honestly think you’re going to get somewhere with this SPEW thing.”

“It’s not SPEW, Ron!,” Hermione angrily retorted. “Just because you have medieval views doesn’t mean we all share them!”

Ron spat back a bitter reply, and the two argued at it for over an hour before Ron, too tired to continue arguing further, went to his bed.

“I can’t believe you two,” Harry said to Hermione.

“Never mind about us,” Hermione said, sitting down a little wearily. “Do you have a date to the ball, Harry?”

He shook his head.

“What happened? I thought you wanted to ask Cho? Did she reject you?”

“Yeah. She’s already going with” -Harry paused to stop himself from cursing- “Cedric Diggory.”

Hermione laughed. “Jealous, much?”

“You’re one to talk,” Harry retorted. “Or did you reject Viktor Krum for no reason at all?”

Hermione’s smile slid from her face instantly. “Do you think he’s ever going to ask me?”

“Who is?” Harry said, playing a little dumb.

“Oh, please, Harry. You’ve known us for more than three years.”

Harry sighed. “It’s not like he doesn’t want to ask you, Hermione. He’s just scared of rejection. He thinks that if you say no, your friendship would be ruined. And, it’s Ron, Hermione. It’s obviously a big step for him. Do you want me to talk to him?”

“Maybe. Just don’t make me come off as needy and desperate,” Hermione said with a small smile. “But never mind me now. You’re the important one at the moment. You’re school champion, you have to open the dance. It would be rather embarrassing if you showed up alone.”

“You don’t have to tell me,” grumbled Harry. “I’m having nightmares about the stupid thing. I’d much rather take another go with that Hungarian Horntail than the ball.”

“Come on, there must be someone you want to go with. And don’t start about Cho again,” she added warningly.

“Well, I thought of asking you,” he admitted. “You know, as a friend. But then Ron would kill me of course. Then, there’s…”

 “Yes..?”

“Well, it’s – ”

“It’s Ginny, isn’t it?”

Harry gave Hermione a wan smile. “Nothing goes past you, does it, Granger?”

“Do you like her?” Hermione asked.

“Well… I guess,” Harry said. He then admitted, “I’ve never really spent much time with her.”

“I think it’s a great idea!” Hermione exclaimed. “You shouldn’t worry about Ron. Of course he won’t like it, you’ve seen how overprotective he is. He’ll come around, though. Eventually. And I think you’ll really like Ginny if you get to know her. Once you get past her shell.” She smirked a little at this.

“Maybe you’re right. I’ll ask Ginny tomorrow. I just have to make sure Ron isn’t around,” Harry laughed. All of a sudden, it seemed as if a large weight had come off his chest. At least, before he heard a voice.

“Excuse me? You wouldn’t happen to be talking about the Yule Ball now, would you?”

Fred and George Weasley stood there staring at him with two identical grins.

“Oh, great,” Harry grumbled. “Always good to keep things private.”

“Don’t worry, Harry. You have our blessing. At least we know she’ll be with a gentleman,” George smirked. “But I wouldn’t wait too long to ask her. She’s far too popular with them teenage boys, our little sister is.”

“She’s not going with anyone, is she?” Harry panicked a little at this thought. To his relief, Fred replied, “Nah, not that I know of. Actually, she wouldn’t tell us.” Fred grinned a little before saying, “Alright, we’ll leave you two kids alone. We have important business matters to discuss with Lee. Goodnight!” and walking up the stairs.

It wasn’t five minutes after Fred and George had left that Ginny joined Harry and Hermione. “Hi, guys,” she said brightly. “What’s up?”

“Well, I’m off to bed,” Hermione said rather suddenly. “Goodnight!” With that, she promptly walked up the stairs to the girl’s dormitories.

“Well, that was weird,” Ginny said. She couldn’t help but feeling slightly uneasy, all alone with Harry.  Hermione had convinced her to be herself around Harry, but Ginny couldn’t help feeling a little nervous as Harry stammered, “Er, well, I was thinking – ”

“Yeah?” Ginny couldn’t help but notice that Harry seemed quite flustered.

“Are you – ,” he stuttered. “Are you going to the Yule Ball, Ginny?”

“No,” she sighed. “I’m not allowed. Unless someone older asks me, at least. And that’s not likely to happen, so…”

“Oh,” Harry said, as his face turned fiery red. “I was thinking, maybe you’d want to go with me.”

“You want to go with me?” Ginny asked. Oh my god! She couldn’t believe she could have been so oblivious. Hermione would have caught on instantly. She saw a whole web of future outcomes, some of them ending with a happy marriage, and others with a rather hard breakup. She sat there silently, thinking, for a while.

Harry looked rather dejected at Ginny’s lack of response. “Well, yeah, if you don’t feel like it… don’t worry about it.”

“No!” she exclaimed, snapping out of her train of thought. “I’d love to go with you!”

“Great,” Harry beamed. “I’ll meet you in the common room at eight then?”

“It’s a date.” Ginny smiled a little as she watched Harry walk up the stairs.

When Harry woke up later that morning, his dreams full of Hungarian Horntails, angry Rons, and a Yule Ball that ended in humiliation, he lay on his bed for quite a long time, staying completely still with his eyes wide open. Harry felt uneasy about how Ron would react if – no, when – he found out about the date.

I should’ve talked to him first, he thought. Harry knew he wouldn’t jeopardize his friendship with Ron for anything. Ron had been his first real friend, as Harry had never had any friends before he came to Hogwarts. They’d had their ups and downs, of course, but Ron had almost always been there for him, sticking up for his best mate.

I’ll go talk to him later, Harry thought. I don’t think he’ll kill me that fast.

Harry dressed rather slowly and walked downstairs to the common room, expecting an empty room. However, he spotted an extremely nervous Ron sitting in an armchair near the dead fire.

“Hey, Ron,” Harry said, nervous as well. “What are you doing up so early?”

“Couldn’t sleep,” Ron replied, grinning broadly and looking rather pleased with himself. “I’m waiting for Hermione, actually. I decided I’m going to ask her to the ball!”

“Shocking,” Harry said.

“What do you mean? You think she’ll say yes?” Ron said, immediately nervous again.

“You’re kidding me, right?,” Harry laughed. “You guys have been circling around each other for months like vultures. Why do you think she turned down Viktor?”

“Yeah, well…” Ron then abruptly changed the topic, surprising Harry. “What about you then? You’ll have to ask someone soon or everyone will be taken. And you can’t afford to show up by yourself. You’re a champion, you have to open the ball!”

“I know already,” Harry exclaimed. “Hermione told me! And I asked someone already. Actually, I wanted to talk to you about it…”

“Why? Who is it? It’s not Hermione, is it?”

“No, you git. Er, well, it’s Ginny,” Harry mumbled. Ron looked flabbergasted.

“Ginny? Why would you want to go with Ginny?”

Harry frowned at him a little, and said, “Because she’s pretty nice, and cool to hang with, and…"

"Annoying? Loud? Nosey?"

Harry laughed. "If you say so. So you don't have a problem with this?"

"No, I don't think so." Ron said slowly. He looked at Harry inquisitively. "Do you like her?"

"Well, of course I like her. We're friends."

"You know what I mean."

"It's not that I know her that well, but yeah, she's cute. Maybe once we get to know each other better."

Ron looked as if he was wondering what it would be like if his best mate and his little sister were dating. He wasn’t sure he would like it too much, but Harry was only fourteen after all and Ginny was even a year younger than him. It was not like they would have a very physical relationship if it ever came to that. Besides her school girl crush on Harry, Ginny had never showed much interest in the opposite sex. But Ron knew his sister had reached an age where she would begin dating. He didn’t think he would ever approve of any guy who would want to be with her. But if she had to date, then she could better be with Harry. Ron knew his best friend would never do anything to hurt a girl, especially when that girl was a Weasley. He knew his family meant the world to Harry and was much more family than his own.


Chapter 2: Christmas Day
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Chapter 2: Christmas Day

When Harry awoke on Christmas Day, the usual feeling of Christmas joy and excitement was marred by nervousness and anxiety. Not only did he have to dance in front of three famous Wizarding schools, he had a date with his best mate’s sister. If anyone would have told him that this was going to happen months earlier, he would have declared them mad. Although Ginny was cute, she wasn’t really a pretty girl, like Cho Chang or the Patil sisters. Not that it mattered to Harry. He had realized that if he’d gone with a girl like that, he would never be at ease, and both his and his date’s night would have been ruined. He lay awake for another half hour, pondering about how the day would be, before a pillow hit him rather hard in the face.

“Merry Christmas!” Ron shouted. “Come on, move your arses! There’s presents!”

Neville, Dean, and Seamus rather grumpily got out of bed, but still looked eagerly at the pile of presents at the foot of each bed.

“God, Harry, you’re a life saver! This must be the best present you’ve ever gotten me!” Ron exclaimed as he held up the dress robes Harry and Hermione had got him.

“Oh, they match your eyes, Ron! You’ll look so handsome!” Seamus gushed in a falsetto.

“Shut it, Seamus.”



The morning passed by quickly in the common room, where they enjoyed their presents while hanging out with Hermione, Parvati, and Lavender. Harry noticed that the people in his year got along much better than other years. Parvati and Lavender had always distanced themselves, thinking that Hermione was weird for hanging out with boys, while Neville had been an outcast to others because of his low self-esteem and inability to form friendships. The other guys had taken him in, and although they laughed at his clumsiness and awkwardness, they would always stand up for him.

The entire group went down to lunch together, and had a massive snowball fight with Ginny, the twins, Lee Jordan, and the Creevey brothers afterwards. Truly, it was the best Christmas Harry had had at Hogwarts, even better than his first year.

“What’s McGonagall doing by the lake?” Colin suddenly asked.

Professor McGonagall seemed to be enjoying an afternoon walk around the lake, warmly clothed with a tartan scarf and hat. She was facing away from the group, walking slowly along the bank of the lake.

“10 galleons says that I can hit her from here,” Fred whispered.

“No way,” Seamus said. “She’ll bury you alive, mate. No one has the guts to do something like that to McGonagall. Not even you.”

“I smell a wager!” the twins sang.

“Terms?”

“If I hit her, you wear Ron's dress robes to the ball tonight. To be clear, his original dress robes.”

“Forget it,” Seamus spat. “I've got a date with Padma Patil. Do you know how long I've been looking forward to this?”

“Weren’t you just so sure of yourself?”

“All right, then. . It's a bet. . But you can't use your wand, alright?”

“Deal,” Fred said with a devilish grin.

“You're not actually going to do this, are you?” Hermione said, more than a little frightened.

“Hermione. We have a chance to see Seamus wear those ghastly dress robes in front of the whole school. It's too beautiful to give up now, isn't it?” He made a snowball, carefully aimed, threw, and hit Professor McGonagall right on the back of her head. Absolutely livid, she marched up to them, and shouted, “What do you think you are doing? If you want to badger each other with your childish behavior, then go ahead! But this is a show of severe disrespect! From my own house, as well! Now, who threw that snowball?”

“I did, Professor,” Fred admitted rather proudly. “It was for a bet, you see.”

“Of course you did,” McGonagall snapped. “Well, if that bet is worth a month’s worth of detention, then good for you. If not, too bad.”

With that, she marched back to the castle, still fuming and muttering under her breath.

“It certainly was,” Fred muttered back. He suddenly turned and shot a devilish grin at a pale Seamus.

“She didn't take points from Gryffindor,” Harry noticed.

“She didn't?” George seemed rather surprised. “Would she really be getting a soft spot?”

“Speak for yourself. I just got detention for a month!” Fred shouted. “But that's a sacrifice I'm willing to make for the show we can all enjoy tonight.”

 

“Honestly Ron, you're more nervous than I am. You don't have to open the ball in front of the whole school!” Harry exclaimed. Ron had been pacing around the boy’s dormitory for the past hour, nervously fiddling the neck-piece of his dress robes.

“Harry, if tonight doesn't go well, It’ll never work out between me and Hermione. And, our friendship would be ruined, too!”

“Nonsense,” Harry said firmly. “You guys have been best friends for over three years. That doesn't just end because of a bad date. Relax, she likes you. Just be nice and don't do anything stupid. Well, too stupid.”

Ron grinned and visibly relaxed. “You make sure you behave yourself around my sister, Potter. Or I might have to reconsider my decision about not killing you. Now, come on, let's go.”

Laughing, the two friends descended the stairs to see Hermione and Ginny already waiting for them. Hermione was wearing nice periwinkle dress robes that accented her figure. Her hair was tied elegantly in a knot. Even Harry had to admit that she looked rather pretty. It was a spectacular change compared to the Hermione who carried a dozen books over her shoulder. Ginny was dressed in stunning light green dress robes that complimented her long red hair. She smiled at Harry, who was happy to see she didn't look too nervous at all. They went down to the Great Hall together, where they met a still irate Professor McGonagall at the entrance.

“Good evening, Potter, Miss Weasley. If you could please wait with the other champions. Mr. Weasley and Miss Granger, you may proceed into the Great Hall.”

Harry and Ginny joined Cedric and Cho. Harry was surprised and pleased to notice that he didn’t mind Cho and Cedric together. He actually managed to have a civil conversation with the two, but were snapped out of it by the arrival of Krum and – was that Eloise Midgen?

“You have to be kidding me,” Harry muttered. Cedric looked just as flabbergasted as he was.

“Hey. Just because she’s a bit heavier than most other girls doesn’t make her ugly. I think it’s great that Krum asked someone that’s not a perfect model. Heaven knows that he could have asked whoever he wanted. Except Hermione, that is,” Ginny retorted.

“Well, at least he doesn't go for looks alone, you've got to give him that.” Harry smiled at his own words.

“You can say that again,” Cedric mumbled.

“Oh don't be such a prat, Cedric,” Cho scolded.

“Hello, everyone.” Fleur Delacour had arrived and by her side was none other than…

“Surprise!” shouted Fred.



A/N: Many thanks to JoonBang for helping me edit! Please review, as I value your opinion very much. Any criticism is welcome, as it can only improve my writing. Thanks for reading!


Chapter 3: The Yule Ball
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Chapter 3: The Yule Ball

Harry couldn't imagine how on earth Fred Weasley got Fleur Delacour to go to the ball with him.

“What did you do, Fred? Drug her with a love potion?” he asked.

“Who knows?” Fred grinned. “Either way, I got lucky tonight.”

“Fred,” Fleur chided. “You’re such a show-off! We came here as friends,” she said to Harry. “I have a boyfriend back in France, you see, but he couldn't be here. So, I wanted to go with someone I can have fun with without obligations.” She smirked at Fred. Harry noticed that Fleur was a lot less arrogant than he had first thought. It was the first time she was having an actual conversation with him, and she didn't seem haughty or condescending at all.

“You tricked me!” Fred said, and everyone laughed. Then, the doors of the Great Hall swung open, a signalling for the champions and partners to enter the Hall, and were all greeted with applause and some raucous cheers. Harry noticed that Ginny’s face reddened a little bit. Truth be told, he didn’t really like the attention either, but of the two of them, he had had more experience with it. He grabbed her hand, and together, they walked to the long table where the champions and partners were supposed to sit with the judges: Dumbledore, Karkaroff, Madame Maxime, Bagman, and –was that Percy? –. Percy waved at Harry and Ginny, seemingly happy to see the two.

“Oh, damn,” Ginny grumbled. “Now we have to go sit next to him.”

Harry smiled, but led her to the seats next to Percy. Ginny ended up sitting next to Percy, with Harry on the other side. He was happy to see that the other seat next to him was occupied by Dumbledore.

Well, he reflected. At least I’m going to have some interesting dinner conversation.

“Good evening, Harry, Ginny,” the headmaster said. “Merry Christmas.”

“Merry Christmas, Professor,” they replied.

Dinner passed by rather quickly, and soon enough, it was time for the dance. Dumbledore smiled and winked at Harry as he got up with Ginny and moved over to the dance floor. Harry’s face had paled by the time they had got to the middle of the Great Hall, and Ginny smiled at his expression.

“Don’t worry, Harry, I’ll lead. Just follow me, okay?”

The music started up, a slow ballad, and Harry and Ginny danced for a while. The teachers quickly followed, along with other students. After a couple of songs, tired and happy, they went to sit down and enjoy a butterbeer together.

“You're a good dancer,” remarked Harry. “I didn’t imagine you would be that good. No offense,” he added quickly.

“None taken.” Ginny laughed, and told him, “My mom taught me when I was a little girl. She thinks that a proper lady should know her way on the dance floor. I really loathed it. I don’t really think that Mum liked that a lot, seeing that I’m one of the only girl Weasleys in a couple generations.” She laughed again. “I still don't like to dance very much. I guess that's a bit of the rebellion left in me.”

“She didn't let you play outside, then?”

“Of course she did! Instead, she would always fret about it, and flying was out of question. I still don't have my own broom. Though that never stopped me before.”

“What do you mean?”

“Since I was six, I’ve been breaking into our broom shed and nicking my brothers' brooms to practice. I've gotten pretty good actually. Well, I think so,” she confessed.

Harry couldn't help but smile. There sure was more to Ginny than met the eye.

“You want to play Quidditch?”

“Yeah, I'd like to play Chaser, but, well, I'll have to wait until Angelina and Alicia have graduated. Maybe in fifth year. I don’t think I would be a bad Seeker too, but we all know that that spot's not going to open up soon.” She smiled at him. “I honestly haven’t seen a Seeker that’s as good as you are, Harry. And that’s saying something, seeing as I watched Charlie play, who, according to McGonagall, could have been a professional player if he hadn’t run off to Romania to chase down dragons.”

She laughed out loud. Harry reddened a bit at her compliment. For some reason, it was a lot different when Ginny complimented him than when Ron or Hermione or Hagrid did it. When he heard her laugh, his stomach gave a little jolt. He had never seen this side of her before. This was the first time they really spent time together alone, after all, and Harry was happy that she wasn’t as shy as she used to be.

After a while, Ron and Hermione, flushed and breathless, came and joined them. Over time, more couples came to sit next to them. Fred and Fleur, Cedric and Cho, Dean and Lavender, Colin and Parvati, George and Angelina, and Neville, who was with –Luna? – yes, Luna was her name. Harry saw Lavender raise her eyebrows a bit at the couple, but thankfully, she didn't say anything. He knew Neville had had a hard time finding a date, not because he was that unpopular, but because he simply was too nervous to ask someone. He actually seemed to have fun with Luna, so everyone accepted her without further questions.

“So, anybody seen Seamus yet?” Fred asked. “I'd love to see how those robes look on him.”

“He put them on, right? It's one thing to make a fool out of yourself for a bet, but not living up to it is just dishonourable.” George laughed.

“Oh, he put them on, alright,” Dean said, shaking with laughter. “Didn't stop complaining about it, too.” The whole group erupted into laughter.

“I think we're missing something here,” Cedric said with raised eyebrows, and Cho nodded in assent. Ron quickly explained, and by the time he was done, all of them were shaking with laughter.

As if on cue, Seamus and Padma joined the group, Seamus in the dress robes.

“What are you all laughing about?” he asked.

The whole table erupted in fits of laughter again when they saw him in person.

Just then, Professor McGonagall happened to pass by, and she stopped, noticing Seamus’ robes. She examined Seamus' outfit with raised eyebrows and asked, “I assume that this is the bet that sent a snowball to my head?”

“Yes, Professor,” Fred replied with a wide grin, quite proud at the outcome. Harry was extremely surprised when he saw the corner of McGonagall's mouth twitch as if she was withholding herself from laughing. She nodded quickly and walked on.

“I'm telling you, she's getting a soft spot for us,” George said. “I swear she was cracking up inside.”

“Well, yeah, look at him,” Harry contributed. “How couldn’t she laugh? I think even Snape would be laughing if he saw anyone like that.”

“Thanks, Potter,” Seamus retorted. “I'll take that in mind for the second task. You've got yourself another supporter, Diggory.”

The evening passed by quickly in enjoyable conversation and playful banter. At a quarter to midnight, Harry whispered to Ginny, “You want to go for a walk in the garden? We still have fifteen minutes.” Ginny accepted gladly and they said their goodbyes to their friends before leaving. Harry noticed Ron looking at them rather suspiciously. He knew that Ginny had seen it too, but she didn't say anything, so he didn't bring it up either. They walked slowly through the garden that was specially installed for this evening. They finally decided to rest on a bank overlooking rather magnificent ice sculptures. They sat and talked, and talked, and talked. He told about his life with the Dursleys, his adventures in his first year with Quirrell and the Philosopher's Stone, since Ginny hadn't been in school yet. He told her about visits with Hagrid. About dragons and Acromantulas. About Dementors and illegal visits to Hogsmeade. About his fear that Voldemort was getting stronger and he would maybe find a way to come back. Afterwards, Ginny told him about growing up at The Burrow. About being overshadowed by six older brothers and always getting second hand clothing. About being over-protected by her brothers and her mum. About her pranks with and on the twins, who had always been her favourite brothers. And about writing to Tom Riddle and awakening, scared and frightened in the Chamber, with Harry leaning over her, covered in blood with a sword in his hand. About her school crush that she had always had, and getting over that schoolgirl crush. About finally learning to be herself around him…

“It's beautiful here,” Ginny whispered.

“Yeah, it really is.”

Ginny turned and saw Harry gazing at her. Harry was trying to think clearly, but he couldn’t seem to find anything else to say. He had imagined a nice evening with her, but he hadn't imagined he would find himself liking her this much. He thought he had known Ginny Weasley. She was Ron's little sister, a friend. But after tonight, he had to admit that he had known almost nothing about her. He didn't even know her real name, Ginevra.

“But don't you ever call me that,” she had laughed.

“I, I really had fun tonight, Harry,” she stuttered.

“Me too,” he answered. “I… I really like you.”

 He slowly leaned in towards her. Ginny held her breath, leaning in too, but they were startled by the appearance of Professor McGonagall.

“What on earth do you think you two are doing here?” she exclaimed. Harry turned around quickly and saw her glaring at them.

“It's two o'clock in the morning. Explain yourselves, both of you!”

“Er, we, er,” stuttered Harry.

“We lost track of time, Professor,” Ginny answered quickly.

“Lost track of time? You should have been in bed two hours ago!”

“We were just talking Professor, really. We're very sorry.”

“You will serve detention with me for a week. And you can consider yourselves lucky with that punishment. Now off to bed, both of you. And no dawdling!”

“Yes, Professor.” They quickly climbed the stairs to Gryffindor Tower.

“Stupid,” Harry said. “We should have brought my Invisibility Cloak.”

“Well, it's not that bad. Could have been much worse. Imagine Snape catching us. Maybe we'll be allowed to serve our detention together. Did you notice? She didn't take points from Gryffindor. That's the second time today. Think she's losing her touch?”

Harry laughed.  “I think she's getting used having the House Cup in her office. I don't think she wants to give it back to Snape.”

“Well, all you have to do is win the Tournament and the other houses don't stand a chance,” Ginny smiled.

Harry's stomach gave a nasty turn when he realized he wasn't even close to finding the solution for his egg, but he didn't talk about it.

“Fairy Lights,” he said to a rather irate Fat Lady, who swung open. They climbed into the Gryffindor Common Room, which was deserted except for two figures sitting on a couch by the fire.

“Harry, Ginny! There you are! We were dead worried!” Hermione exclaimed.

Harry gulped when he saw Ron glaring at him.

“So, where you've been?” he asked.

“We were outside, we kind of lost track of time,” Harry answered.

“Lost track of time. Huh.” Ron's ears were glowing red, and Harry knew that wasn't a good sign.

“Honestly, Ron, we were just talking. Besides, what Harry and I do is our business, not yours. You understand?” Ginny glared at Ron and she looked so much like Mrs. Weasley that he wasn't surprised Ron looked away.

“Alright, alright. I'm going to bed, you coming?” he asked Harry.

“Yeah, in a minute.”

Unfortunately, Ron waited until Harry came with him, so he grudgingly said goodnight to Hermione and Ginny and followed them up the stairs. When he closed the drapes of his four-poster, he realized how beaten he really was. He fell asleep the second his head touched his pillow. What followed was a night full of flashes of red and brown.




“Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful.” – Norman Vincent Peale

A/N: Please review. I value your opinion very much. Thanks again to JoonBang for helping me edit this story!


Chapter 4: Two Beavers Are Better Than One
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 Chapter 4: Two Beavers Are Better Than One

The rest of the Christmas holidays passed in a blur. Everybody had been procrastinating the first week of the holidays, because everyone was too excited about the Yule Ball, but now it was back to harsh reality. The fourth years had been assigned mountains of homework. The teachers were saying they were preparing their students for O.W.L. examinations, although those didn’t come until fifth year. Harry also had the mystery of his golden egg that he couldn’t seem to figure out. All of the free time he had left from his school work he was spending on listening to the screams that came out of the egg. Therefore Harry had barely had time to talk to Ginny. He felt really badly about it. After all, he had told her that he liked her and he knew what would have happened if McGonagall hadn’t interrupted them. He thought Ginny would be mad or at least annoyed at him, but when he spoke to her in the common room, she was just her friendly self.

One Tuesday, when Harry had stayed behind at Potions because Snape wanted him to clean out the wall cabinets (without  magic), Cedric Diggory approached him on his way to the Great Hall.

“Hey Harry, you seem a bit stressed these days?”

“Yeah well, I’ve been a bit busy, between homework and that bloody egg.”

“Hm. Does your egg also shriek when you open it?”, Cedric asked.

“Yeah”.

“Open it underwater.”

“What?”

“Trust me” Cedric insisted.

“Why are you telling me this?”

“Are you kidding me? You saved my neck by telling me about the first task. If I wouldn’t have known in advance I’d have fainted on the spot. And we’re friends, aren’t we?”

“Yes we are”, Harry said. “But we’re also competitors.”

“Harry”, Cedric said. “Does it really matter that much who wins. I’d be just as happy if you win as if I win. We’re playing for Hogwarts. Personally I don’t care that much for money and eternal glory. And I know for a fact that you don’t either. If the four of us all play for ourselves one of us might win. But if we form a team, I don’t think Krum or Fleur has much of a chance, do you?”

Harry looked at the older boy. Cedric had gained an enormous amount of respect from Harry with what he just said. He pondered his words before he answered him: “A team huh. I think I’d like that.”

That evening Harry went to the Prefect’s bathroom. Cedric had proposed to use it, because he would be less likely to be disturbed. Although he went at night, he still chose to follow Cedric’s advice. When he came to the entrance he gave the password (Pine Fresh) and entered the gigantic bathroom. When he had heard the song it only took him a few minutes to figure out they were merpeople. He would have to go into the Black Lake. He never even learned to swim. Trying not to panic, Harry got dressed and went back to the Gryffindor Common Room, which was empty, at least almost.

“Ginny!”, Harry exclaimed when he saw her on the couch before the fire. He quickly went over and gave her a kiss on the cheek. “I’m really sorry we haven’t been able to spend time together, Ginny.”

“It’s alright, Harry.” Ginny gave him a small smile. I know how busy you’ve been. You don’t have to spend too much time on me.”

“Of course, I do. It’s just – well, it’s a bit hectic, is all.”

“I understand”, Ginny smiled. “So, went for a night time stroll?”

“I went to figure that bloody egg out. Cedric told me to hold it underwater before listening to it.”

“Why did he tell you that”, Ginny frowned. “Aren’t you supposed to be competitors?”

That’s what I said.” Harry laughed. “He said he wanted to repay me for tipping him off about the dragons for the first task. He told me he wants to form a team.”

“A team?”

“Yeah, me and him. He says we’ll be stronger if we work together. It doesn’t matter who wins, if only it’s one of us. None of us care for money or eternal glory so. We just want to win for Hogwarts.”

“I think that’s a great idea. If you work together, Krum and Fleur don’t stand a chance! So what did you find out?” Ginny asked.

“It was a song by merpeople”, Harry explained. “They will take something from me that I sorely miss. I have an hour to go look for it in the Black Lake.”

“An hour? How could you possibly breathe under water for an hour?”

“That’s not even my first concern.”, Harry said with a grim look on his face.

“What do you mean?”, Ginny asked.

“I can’t swim”, Harry stated simply.

“You can’t swim?!”

“Never learned it”, Harry admitted. “My aunt and uncle never sent me to swimming lessons. I think they hoped I would drown one lucky day.”

“Oh well, you’ll have to learn then.”

“How? It’s not like we have a swimming pool at Hogwarts. And the lake is freezing right now.”

Ginny thought for a moment. “I once heard of a room…”

“A room?”

“Yes, Fred and George told me about it. They were once running away from Filch when they stumbled upon a broom closet they could hide in and Filch couldn’t find them. It’s really strange, because they had passed there twice already and they swore there was nothing there then, except for a wall. They were still trying to find a place to hide when they passed the third time and then there was a door. They went inside and it was a cupboard. They heard Filch walk by outside, but apparently he couldn’t see the door.”

“That’s a nice story”, Harry said surprised. “But what does it have to do with this?”

“Well, Fred and George still know exactly where that door was, but it has never appeared again”, Ginny informed him. “There was also no indication that something was there on the Marauder’s Map. They did some research and there have been stories that the founders built a secret room in the castle. Not like the Chamber of Secrets”, she added when she saw Harry’s look. “It’s a room who answers to the needs of the users. For example, Fred and George desperately needed a place to hide…”

“So it would turn into a broom cabinet”, Harry finished her sentence. “So… If you would be in desperate need of a bathroom…”

“That’s clever, Harry.” Ginny laughed.

“Is there any proof that this room actually exists?”, Harry asked.

“Not that I know of. But there have been a lot of stories, plus Fred and George’s experience… The Chamber of Secrets was also based on stories”, she remembered him.

“You’re right. So if this room exists, Fred and George know exactly where it is?”

“Yes.”

“Then why didn’t they use it again?”, Harry asked.

“They don’t know how”, Ginny replied simply.

Harry’s eyes lightened up. He had an idea. “Dobby!”

BANG

“Good night Harry Potter, sir and miss Wheezy. What can Dobby do for you?”

“I have a question for you Dobby”, Harry said. “Have you ever heard of a room in Hogwarts that fulfils the user’s needs. That can take the form of whatever the user needs at that moment?”

Dobby answered immediately: “Yes sir, we house elves call it the Come and Go Room sir, more commonly known as the Room of Requirement.”

“More commonly known, you say?”, Harry inquired. “How many people do exactly know of this room?”

“Oh, not many people, sir. I think on this day only Professor Dumbledore sir, and maybe Professor McGonagall.”

“That’s great!” Ginny exclaimed. “Can you show us how to use it Dobby?”

“It is very easy to use, miss.”, Dobby squeaked. “You just walk passed the blank piece of wall three times while thinking about what you really need and then the room will appear, miss.”

Harry and Ginny looked at each other. It seemed like they had discovered one of Hogwarts deepest secrets that only Dumbledore knew about. “We should keep this for ourselves for now”, Harry said.

“I agree.” Ginny affirmed. “But we should tell Fred and George. They would be furious if we let them out of this.”

Harry laughed. “Very true. And Ron and Hermione, I think.”

“Well that’s it then. You can learn how to swim Harry!”

Harry paled. “How?”

“Oh it’s easy”, Ginny reassured him. “I’ll teach you.”

 

Starting from the next day, Ginny gave him swimming lessons every evening. Harry found himself thinking about her more and more, even daydreaming during the lessons. Hermione noticed something was going on of course. Harry knew that she had her ideas and as always, her ideas were far too accurate. Harry realized he was falling for the youngest Weasley. He couldn’t do anything about it and to be quite honest, he didn’t want to do anything about it. He loved spending time with her and became more and more attracted to her. Seeing her in a two piece bathing suit during his swimming lessons wasn’t doing much good for his teenage hormones too. He knew if Ron could watch in his head, he would strangle Harry in his sleep, best mate or not.

Although Harry and Ginny were spending much more time together now, and in the eyes of most of the Gryffindor students were actually dating, they still weren’t a couple yet. Harry knew he wanted to be with her, and that she wanted to be with him (unless he was very much mistaken), but he was totally new at this. He had never kissed a girl before, let alone had a relationship. His only regular female contacts were Hermione, who was his best friend, and Parvati and Lavender, who were just friends. Harry knew that he had to do something soon or she was going to get tired of waiting and move on.

“That’s it, Harry!”, Ginny yelled from the side of the pool. “You’re getting really good, you’re certainly able to swim to the bottom of the lake now.”

“Yeah”, Harry grinned. “Now we only have that tiny problem of breathing underwater for an hour.”

“Don’t worry, we’ll find something”, Ginny reassured him while they were walking back to the common room. They walked in silence for a few minutes. Suddenly Harry said: “There’s a Hogsmeade visit the weekend after the second task.”

“There is?”, Ginny asked. She couldn’t help but smile to herself for her acting skills. She had known about the Hogsmeade trip for days, from the moment the message had been hung at the board in the common room. Justin Finch-Fletchley and Michael Corner had both asked her out but she rejected them, still waiting for Harry.

“Yeah”, Harry continued. “Would you… I mean do you want to.. Do you want to go with me?”

Ginny’s heart started beating faster. She couldn’t help it. He was Harry Potter, probably the most famous wizard in Britain and still he was here, asking her out as shy as can be. “I’d love to Harry.” She had the widest smile on her face. They had reached the Fat Lady.

“So we er, we’ll go out then”, Harry stuttered.

Ginny took his hand. “What are you so nervous about, Harry? I had to overcome my shyness to talk to you and now that I’m over it, you’re here stammering like an idiot”, she said with a loving smile.

“It’s just. I really like you, Ginny. And I don’t want things to be weird with you being Ron’s sister and all, but I really want to be with you.” Harry’s heart flushed. Had he really just said that?

Ginny gazed into those green eyes she had come to know so well over the past weeks. “I’d really like that”, she whispered. She closed the space between her and Harry and Harry leaned in, closing the gap between their heads. When their lips met, Harry’s heart jolted around in his chest. This was the most amazing feeling he ever experienced. He wanted to stay here forever, one hand on her back and one caressing her beautiful, long, red hair…

“Ahum.”

Harry and Ginny let go of each other and looked at the Fat Lady. Expect the Fat Lady wasn’t looking back at them. Apparently Hermione was on her way to the library when she opened the portrait hole and found two of her best friends in a very tight embrace. Over her shoulder they saw half of Gryffindor house stare at them with open mouths.

 

The fact that Harry Potter and Ginny Weasley were an official couple was apparently big news at Hogwarts. Of course every student in the school knew Harry, but Ginny was also rather known. Her red hair and freckles gave away immediately that she was a Weasley and the Weasleys were a rather well known pureblood family, although they were considered blood traitors by certain other families.

Harry had to endure some bantering over the next few days. He didn’t mind much, because most of the time, it was in good nature. But of course, there were the usual exceptions.

“So, got hold of the blood traitor girl, eh, Potter.”

“Shut up, Malfoy.”

“I don’t understand you can touch her, Potter. Especially after she was already used and thrown away by the Dark Lord.” Being the son of Lucius, Draco knew of course that it had been Ginny who had opened the Chamber of Secrets two years ago.

Harry lost his temper. “Furnunculus”, he yelled. Malfoy’s face became immediately covered in boils, much to the amusement of the many Gryffindors in the corridor. Unfortunately for Harry there also happened to be walking a teacher by at the moment.

“50 points from Gryffindor, Potter. And a week’s worth detention.”, Snape sneered.

Harry shrugged and walked on. He had agreed to meet Cedric in the library. He wanted to talk to him about the second task. When he got there, Cedric was already waiting for him, as he expected. He went and joined him.

“Sorry I’m late, had to stop and hex Malfoy on the way here.”

“I can understand that”, Cedric smirked. “Look about the second task, I think I found something. It’s actually a charm we learned in Charms class last year, so you wouldn’t know about it yet. It’s called the Bubblehead Charm. Basically it just forms a sort of air bubble around your head, so you always have a supply of fresh air. It should work.”

“Sounds good”, Harry said. “Is it difficult to master?”

“It’s a fairly advanced charm. I had some problems with it last year”, Cedric admitted. “But I’ll help you. And I think you’re a far more accomplished wizard than I am.” He grinned.

“Oh shut it.” They laughed.                      

“Hey guys. Mind if I join you?”

“Not at all, Neville”, Cedric said. “What you’re working on?”

“I’m doing some Herbology research for Professor Sprout on water plants. What about you? Triwizard Tournament?”

“Yeah, I’ll have to learn the Bubblehead Charm”, Harry said. He quickly explained the charm and the second task. “We have to be able to breathe underwater for an hour.”

“Breathe underwater?”, Neville asked. “Why don’t you use Gillyweed?”

“Gillyweed?”, Harry and Cedric replied in unison.

“Yeah”, Neville said. “Well that Bubblehead Charm looks okay to me, but if I understand it, it just gives you a supply of fresh air and the rest of your body stays unchanged right?”

“Yeah”, Cedric said slowly.

“Well, Gillyweed gives you gills, so you’ll be able to breathe underwater like it’s your own habitat. Plus, you will have flippers, so you’ll be able to move through the water much faster.”

“That’s brilliant, Neville!”, Harry yelled and immediately received an angry glare from Madam Pince.

“It is”, Cedric agreed, although a bit softer than Harry. “I think we should use that if we can, Harry.”

Harry nodded. “So Neville, where do we get Gillyweed?”

Neville’s grin slowly slid of his face. “Oh”, he said. “That could be potentially problematic.”

A/N: Thank you very much for reading!

I was planning on writing out the rest of the series out of the point where Harry and Ginny go to the Yule Ball together, but I think if I’ll do that I’m going to need several more stories. So we’ll see how far it goes.


Chapter 5: The Second Task
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Chapter 5: The Second Task

"You're kidding me right?"

"Ssh, Harry, not so loud", whispered Neville.

"Sorry.", Harry mumbled. "So you're absolutely sure that it's the only way?"

"As far as I know."

" It's not impossible, it has been done before.", Cedric said.

"Yeah, I know. Hermione did it back in second year.", Harry said.

"Hermione?" Cedric smirked. "Not the good girl she'd like you to believe, eh."

"Never mind. Is it worth the risk though? I mean, we could just use the Bubblehead Charm." Harry sighed. After hearing about the other option he didn't feel like using the Bubblehead Charm at all, but it seemed like they had no other choice. "Even if I get in there I wouldn't know how to look for it, I don't even know what it looks like." He turned to Cedric. "Do you?"

"Nope", Cedric replied solemnly. "It's the first time I hear about it. I've never been great at Herbology."

"I could go with you.", Neville proposed.

"I don't think we would all fit under the cloak", answered Harry. "We've gotten a lot bigger and Cedric isn't that short either."

"Well, you and I go then", Neville said. "I could find the Gillyweed immediately. We'd be out of there in no time."

Harry knew how frightened Neville must be, considering what they were planning. But the fact his friend was determined to accompany him so he could help him, struck him as extremely loyal. A trait Neville never hesitated to show.

"Alright", Harry said. "We're going to break into Snape's office."

 

That night Neville and Harry departed on their little quest. They were both under the Invisibility Cloak, so they couldn't be caught. That thought didn't calm Harry, he knew this was the easy part. "Okay, we're here", Harry whispered. "There's no light, let's hope he doesn't like to hang out in the dark." Neville let out a nervous laugh.

"Alohomora."

The door opened with a soft cracking, but in the silent dungeons it seemed extremely loud. Harry and Neville stayed under the cloak while they went inside to be sure. Once it was clear the office was empty, they closed the door and slipped of the Invisibility Cloak.

"Here's the cupboard", Harry said. He opened it and saw dozens and dozens of boxes. How would they ever find what they needed. Than he had an idea. "Accio Gillyweed." A little cardboard box came flying out of the closet in Harry's hand. He grinned at Neville.

"I can't believe we didn't think of that before."

Neville grinned too. "Let's just take enough, so Snape won't notice too fast something is missing."

"I think he'll figure it out Saturday anyway, Neville. If both me and Cedric use Gillyweed, he will know we didn't get it out of our backyard."

Neville paled.

"Don't worry. He won't be able to prove anything. If we get back to the common room without being caught, that is."

Harry and Neville returned to the common room. The only things they encountered on their journey was the Bloody Baron, who was moaning softly when they passed him and Peeves the Poltergeist, who had apparently just locked Mrs Norris inside an armour.

"Quickly", Harry hissed, when he heard the shuffling footsteps and the angry muttering of Argus Filch coming from around the corner. They ducked behind a tapestry that hid a secret passageway that was a shorter route to the corridor of the Fat Lady.

"Been out again?", she reprimanded them. "You know, in all the years I'm doing this job, there's not one student who I had to let in after curfew as much as you, Harry Potter. One of these days, I'm going to have to report you to Professor McGonagall, surely you realize that?"

"Flibbertigibbet.", Harry said with a sweet smile.

"Oh alright, come on in", the Fat Lady said.









Next Saturday brought a new task for the champions of the Triwizard Tournament. Although Harry didn't look forward to eating slimy Gillyweed and going into the Black Lake looking for merpeople who stole something from him, he looked forward to this task with more confidence than the first one. First of all, although the cold water may be very uncomfortable and the merpeople a bit scary, he didn't have to fear a fire breathing creature trying to kill him this time. Harry and Cedric had done some research on merpeople. They might look violent and aggressive, but in fact merpeople were apparently quite peaceful creatures. And maybe most importantly, he wouldn't be alone this time. Cedric had meant it when he said he wanted to form a team with Harry. Not only did they work together on the solution for the second task, they also agreed to stay together at all times in the lake. He would never admit it to anybody, but the thought that Cedric would stay with him and they would watch each other's backs was a huge reassurance for Harry.

In fact, Harry had been happier for the last couple of days than he had been in a long time. He was perfectly prepared for the second task, or as prepared as he would ever be. And on top of it he was dating Ginny Weasley, an amazing young witch who could still surprise him every day.

When the morning of the second task came, Harry awoke in an empty dormitory. When he came downstairs he saw there was no one in the common room as well. Panicking slightly, he looked at his watch. It was a quarter to nine, still and hour and fifteen minutes until the test started. Where was everyone? He wouldn't have gotten the time wrong would he? But no, Bagman had clearly said ten o'clock in the morning. He went downstairs to the Great Hall by himself. When he walked through the doors, the Great Hall erupted in applause. Harry saw that whole Gryffindor house was in the Hall and they had all jumped out of their seats when he entered. They waved with flags, scarfs and banners, saying things like 'Potter for President', 'They won't tame the lion' and 'Hogwarts For TWC'. Harry was overwhelmed by all the support and he just stood there for a few moments until he realized he was standing in the middle of the Hall. He went to sit with his friends and said: "Thanks guys, this really means a lot to me." He saw a lot of people beaming at him. When he looked over at the Staff Table, he saw Dumbledore looking at him with the characteristic twinkle in his eye and McGonagall was beaming, obviously very proud of the unity her house showed. Harry quickly glanced over to the Hufflepuff table. He caught Cedric's eye and he gave Harry a wink.

"Where's Ginny", asked Harry, after he had looked up and down the table for a second and third time.

"I don't know Harry", Hermione said, looking slightly worried. "She hasn't come down for breakfast yet.

"Maybe she's sick", offered Ron.

"Oh honestly Ron", Hermione snapped. "Ginny could be dying and she wouldn't miss the task."

"Oh well" Ron shrugged. "She'll come out."

Hermione rolled her eyes. Harry felt a great part of his confidence disappear. Yesterday evening and even now at this very table a few moments ago, Harry had been boasting with self-esteem. But now that Ginny was nowhere to be seen, he found himself doubting himself again. It seemed only a couple of seconds later Professor Dumbledore stood up from the staff table and announced it was time for the champions to head to the Black Lake. Harry saw many students look at each other with puzzled looks of their faces when the headmaster mentioned the lake. He joined Cedric at the entrance of the Great Hall and side by side, they headed to the lake.

"You seem nervous". Cedric sure had a thing with stating the obvious. "I thought you were more confident for this task?"

"I was", Harry said. "I mean, I am." After a short pause he added. "I didn't see Ginny this morning."

Cedric frowned. "Hm, I didn't see Cho this morning too." He hesitated. "Do you think they're using them?"

Harry looked at him. "You mean like hostages?"

"Well yeah. I mean, it makes sense doesn't it?", Cedric answered. "They would both want to be here and neither of them are. Kind of a big coincidence isn't it?"

"I guess so. But wouldn't that be dangerous?"

"Of course not", Cedric reassured him. "They would be safe of course. Dumbledore wouldn’t permit it if it put them in any danger.”

Harry nodded. The headmaster might be eccentric and incomprehensible sometimes, but Harry knew he would give his own life before endangering one of his students. They arrived at the lake.

"Gather round, gather round", Ludo Bagman said, his face flushed with excitement once more. "Alright, lady, gentlemen. I'm sure you have all figured out the clue that was in your golden egg?" They all nodded. "Very well. So you know you have one hour to recover the treasure they took from you. Get on your marks."

Harry stood between Cedric and Fleur. When the signal was given, Harry saw Fleur perform the Bubblehead Charm and dive straight into the water. Krum had also disappeared, though he didn't see what he had done. Harry and Cedric simply walked into the water, quickly chewing on the Gillyweed. The spectators were watching with puzzled looks on their faces. Suddenly Harry wasn't able to breathe and instinctively he dived head first underwater. Out of the corner of his eye he saw Cedric do the same.

They were searching for the merpeople for about half an hour when they encountered Moaning Myrtle. They were panicking slightly, because the task only gave them an hour and the Gillyweed wouldn't work much longer than that. Moaning Myrtle grinned as she saw them struggle. "I'd try that way"*, she said. She pointed to her left. "Quickly."

Harry and Cedric swam together through the village of the merpeople. They attracted a lot of curiosity, many merpeople came out of their small houses to look at them as they passed. They arrived at a public square of sorts, where four people were tied up to wooden poles. Harry immediately recognized Ginny and Cho, apparently sleeping. Next to them, there was a small girl with silver hair, which probably was Fleur's little sister and a foreign looking boy.

Harry suddenly felt a hand on his shoulder. He startled, but relaxed when he saw it was just Cedric. ‘Are you okay’, his face asked and Harry realized he had been staring at Ginny for a long time. Seeing her bounded there, away from the world and helpless, brought back memories to him he’d rather forget.

Harry pulled out the knife he received from Sirius out of his pocket and cut down the robes that were holding Ginny. When he wanted to do the same with Cho, the mermaid next to him stopped him and shook his head. "Only your own hostage.**"

Harry stared at him and shrugged. Then he simply gave his knife to Cedric who smiled and released Cho. Together, they were making their way back to the surface. When they had just left the village, they met Fleur, who smiled at them. Krum was nowhere to be seen. The Gillyweed stopped working when they were about to resurface.

"Now that's what they call timing.", Cedric grinned.

They were met by a deafening noise. Now that they were in the fresh air again, Ginny and Cho woke up.

"You did it!", Ginny yelled. She hugged Harry closely, while Cho was doing the same with Cedric. "Not going for anything less than first place, huh?"

Harry and Cedric were grinning broadly. They finished first and Harry was leading the Tournament, closely followed by Cedric. They didn't know what the third task would be, but at the moment, they couldn’t care less.








"We shall win only by working together." – Gnassingbe Eyadema

* Quote from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, chapter 26: The Second Task by J.K. Rowling

** Quote from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, chapter 26: The Second Task by J.K. Rowling

 


Chapter 6: We Can Win This
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 For the rest of the weekend, the only thing Harry did was relax. He decided he deserved a break from his school work and the third task was planned on June 24th, ages from now. He spent a lot of time with Ginny, who he felt he had been neglecting again. Not that she would complain, but he always felt guilty when he didn't have much time for her. He also realized he would have to talk about Sirius with her soon. He didn't like keeping things from her. The last push he needed to finally tell her about him came at breakfast on Monday. Hedwig landed before him and after Harry took his letter and offered her a piece of his toast, she flew off to the Owlery. Harry recognized the handwriting immediately.

Harry

I know there's a Hogsmeade visit planned for this Saturday. Make sure you are at the stile at the end of the road out of Hogsmeade (passed Dervish and Banges) at three o'clock. Make sure you're not followed.

Snuffles

Harry frowned. This letter clearly meant Sirius was in Hogsmeade. What was he thinking? If the Dementors found him he would be back in Azkaban before he could say 'innocent'. If he was lucky. Last year the Ministry had given the Dementors permission to perform the kiss if they found him. On the other hand, Harry would be very happy to see Sirius. He had only met his godfather in person once, when he was still convinced he was a deranged mass murderer who betrayed his parents, but his letters were a huge comfort to him through the Triwizard Tournament. The fact that there was an adult out there who cared for him and looked out for him like a father would, was a feeling Harry never had before he met Sirius. He shoot a glance at Ginny who was looking at him questioningly.

"Come on, let's go", he said. They left the crowded Great Hall and Harry led his girlfriend outside and walked in the direction of the lake.

"Harry, what is it?", Ginny asked. "Who was that letter from?"

"It was from my godfather", Harry answered.

"You have a godfather?" Ginny looked positively dumbfounded. "How come you never told me?"

"It's a long story", Harry said. "Just let me finish, okay?" She nodded with a curious expression on her face and he continued to tell her everything from the time he overheard Professor McGonagall saying Sirius was his godfather until the evening in the Shrieking Shack and Sirius' escape from the Dementors.

Ginny was looking at him with her mouth wide open. "Wow. And he was Ron's rat?!"

"Yeah." Harry frowned. "If we hadn't let him escape Sirius' name would have been cleared right now. He wouldn't have to be on the run. We could live together." Harry still thought from time to time about the life he could have had if Peter Pettigrew hadn't escaped. "Anyway, we kept contact and he wants to meet me Saturday in Hogsmeade."

"Oh", Ginny said, looking a bit disappointed. "No problem."

"I'm not blowing you off, Ginny", Harry said quickly when he realized what was bothering her. "I'm not meeting him until three o'clock and, well, I thought maybe you'd want to come to?"

Ginny smiled. "Of course I want to come. Wouldn't he mind though?"

"Of course not! Ron and Hermione will want to come too I think, they'll want to see him."

They were walking back to the castle when Harry said: "I'm sorry I didn't tell you earlier. I didn't know if – ". He hesitated.

"If I would believe you?", Ginny asked with raised eyebrows. "You should know better than that!"

"I know. I guess I didn't know how you would react."

Ginny stopped and pressed her lips to his. "Don't worry about it. You told me now. And I'm glad you did."

 

When Saturday morning came, Harry couldn't help but feel a bit nervous. Although he had been seeing Ginny for several weeks, this would be their first real date. He looked over to Ron's bed. His best friend was still snoring loudly with his mouth wide open. Ron asked Hermione to go to Hogsmeade with him and she gladly accepted. Although they went to the Yule Ball together, nothing had happened between his two best friends. Ron still lacked a lot of confidence. Harry knew Hermione liked him, but she was still waiting for him to make the first move. If it was going to keep moving forward at this rate, they wouldn't be a couple until seventh year.

Harry and Ginny enjoyed their time together in Hogsmeade very much. They went to Honeydukes and Zonko's, where they met Fred, George en Lee, and went to have lunch in the Three Broomsticks. When they found a table the door opened again and Ron and Hermione walked in. They had lunch with the four of them and then left together to meet Sirius. When they got there a large black dog was waiting for them. He looked from Ginny to Harry.

"It's okay. She knows", Harry said. "Ginny, meet my godfather."

Ginny nervously petted the dog in front of her. He wagged his tail before he turned around and led them to a cave outside of Hogsmeade. When they entered the cave they met Buckbeak, who was looking extremely bored, being locked up in a cave. The four of them bowed nervously. After he bowed back, Hermione and Ginny started stroking his feathers. Harry and Ron turned to the dog who had changed back into Harry's godfather, Sirius Black.

"How are you doing?", Sirius asked with a grin. "Leading the Triwizard Tournament now, huh? I wouldn't expect less from you."

Harry laughed and hugged his godfather. "What are you doing here? What if they find you?"

"What's life without a little risk", Sirius smirked. "Besides, the Aurors have absolutely no idea about my whereabouts. They probably think I fled to another country and won't risk to come back. Besides, I still have the best disguise a man could need. But I believe introductions are in order?" He looked at Ginny questioningly.

"Oh yeah. This is Ginny Weasley. She's Ron's sister and my girlfriend", Harry said, blushing lightly.

"Girlfriend, huh?" Sirius was grinning broadly, seeing Harry's discomfort. "Well, nice to meet you! I'm Sirius, but you already know that of course."

"Nice to meet you", Ginny said with a small voice.

"Don't be shy, I won't kill you. Broke off the habit", Sirius joked. Harry, Ron and Hermione were laughing out loud and Ginny smiled.

"I'm sorry", she muttered.

"Don't worry about it", Sirius said. "People are bound to react this way after hearing that I'm a murdering lunatic for all those years. You're taking it quite well, actually. You should have seen Harry when he first saw me. He tried to kill me!"

After the ice was broken, the afternoon passed in pleasant conversation. Harry was enjoying spending time with his godfather immensely and was reluctant to go back to the castle when it was five o'clock. Promising he would write soon, Sirius said goodbye and the four friends returned to the school.




When Harry woke up Monday morning he decided he had to talk to Dumbledore. He had had a dream that night about Voldemort and Wormtail again. This time Voldemort had punished Wormtail because of a mistake he made. He had said that his mistake had been rectified by his trusted servant at Hogwarts. This wasn't the first time Harry dreamt about Voldemort and Wormtail and he knew Dumbledore would want him to tell him. After his last class of the day, Transfiguration, Harry stayed behind to ask McGonagall the password to get past the gargoyle. Then he walked straight up to Dumbledore's office.

"Ah Harry. To what do I owe this pleasure?"

"I wanted to talk to you, Professor", Harry said nervously. He hesitated. He didn't want Dumbledore to think he was worrying needlessly about a simple dream.

"Sit down, Harry. Tell me what is bothering you."

Harry told him everything about the dream he had that night and the other dreams about Voldemort. A long silence followed. Dumbledore seemed to be thinking deeply about what Harry told him. Harry noticed his headmaster was looking worried.

"Sir?", Harry said at last. "You don't think this dreams are really happening, do you?"

Dumbledore looked at him. "As a matter of fact, I do, Harry. You see, the night Voldemort tried to kill you, he transformed some powers of his own to you, as I told you before. That is the reason you can speak to snakes. I think that scar on your forehead is a connection to him. It is my believe that that is the reason you have these dreams."

"But I've had that scar since I was a year old. I never had these dreams before." Harry pondered for a moment. "Do you think Voldemort is getting stronger, sir?"

Dumbledore looked at him worriedly. "I think you already know the answer to that, Harry."

Harry's insides were turning. "Do you think he will come back?"

"Yes.", Dumbledore stated simply. "I have always known that Voldemort was bound to find a way to return. He never succeeded, because he was weak and alone. All his followers had abandoned him. You know he tried to steal the Philosopher's Stone with the goal to recreate a body of his own. His plan failed, thanks to you, but now he is no longer alone. He has a faithful servant by his side again and I am afraid this time he will succeed."

"It's my fault", Harry said solemnly. "I convinced Sirius and Professor Lupin to let Wormtail live. If I hadn't, Voldemort wouldn't be getting stronger."

"Don't blame yourself, Harry", Dumbledore said sternly. "You did the right thing that night. Wormtail owns you a life debt and you can be sure that that will make a difference. As for Voldemort, I believe his return is inevitable, with or without Wormtail."

"Professor", Harry said. "Voldemort mentioned that there was a Death Eater at Hogwarts in my dream."

Dumbledore didn't look surprised. "I had my suspicions."

"Do you think it was him who put my name into the Goblet of Fire?", Harry asked.

"Him or her. Though what Voldemort's intentions are, I do not know. If only I knew who it was."

Harry was thinking about what Sirius had told him in the fire of the Gryffindor common room. "You don't think it could be Karkaroff, sir?"

"I am quite certain it is not Professor Karkaroff, Harry", Dumbledore said. "According to Professor Snape he is more frightened the Dark Lord may return than most of the magical community. I am certain you know about his past, but he gave a lot of names of Death Eaters to keep himself out of Azkaban. He would not be welcomed back into Voldemort's inner circle and most likely be killed."

"Snape, sir?", Harry asked puzzled. "How would Snape know?"

"Professor Snape, Harry", Dumbledore corrected him. He looked at Harry for a minute and said: "What I'm about to tell you should not be commonly known, Harry. It would not do for too many people to know." He hesitated before he said: "Professor Snape used to be a Death Eater."

Harry was shocked, but after a minute he thought he should have realized it all along. "No one stops being a Death Eater", he said firmly.

Dumbledore chuckled. "I can see you have been talking to Sirius Black a lot since you met him. He is already rubbing of on you! But I can assure you Severus is not loyal to Voldemort, Harry. He changed sides more than a year before Voldemort's downfall. He was spying for our side."

Harry decided to not argue with Dumbledore about it. He went down to the Great Hall for dinner and silently told Ginny, Hermione and Ron about his conversation with the headmaster.

"Snape was a Death Eater?", Ginny asked shocked.

"We should have known it!", Ron exclaimed. "How could he not be? I can't believe Dumbledore trusts that git!"

"Ssh Ronald!", Hermione said sternly. "If Dumbledore trusts him, who are we to question it? He's the greatest wizard in the world. Snape wouldn't be able to deceive him."

The weeks passed quickly and the third task of the Triwizard Tournament was approaching. Harry didn't hear anything until a month before the task, McGonagall informed him the presence of the champions was required at the Quidditch pitch at eight o'clock that night.

When he got there the other champions were already waiting for him with Ludo Bagman.

"Now that we're all here, I'll inform you about the third task. Anyone care to guess what we're growing here?" He gestured to the pitch which was covered in what seemed to be short hedges.

"A maze?", Cedric offered.

"Exactly! It's very simple. The Triwizard Cup will be placed inside the maze and the first champion who reaches it, wins the tournament!"

"So, all we have to do is find our way through the maze?", Harry asked sceptically. It didn't seem dangerous enough to be a task in the tournament, especially if it was the last one.

"Well, of course they'll be extra obstacles" answered Bagman. "They're will be spells, enchantments to get past. And Hagrid is providing us with some magical creatures."

Harry and Cedric were looking at each other. They knew exactly which sort of creatures Hagrid would consider appropriate for this task. "I swear if I see one Blast-Ended Skrewt…", Cedric said. Harry laughed out loud, while Bagman, Fleur and Krum looked at them inquisitively.

Harry, Cedric and Fleur walked back to the castle together, while Krum was walking back to the ship quickly. He was being even more silent and gruff than before. There had been a lot of rumours about the boy he had rescued out of the lake during the second task. There were whispers he would have been more than a friend and Rita Skeeter had of course written an animated article about it in Witch Weekly.

The weeks leading up to the third task, Harry and Cedric trained together. They used empty classrooms, until Professor McGonagall who had found them several times, offered to use the Transfiguration classroom so they wouldn't get into trouble. They practiced disarming and stunning, and several curses. Harry was fairly confident. He knew it would be difficult, but he thought they were well prepared and the nature of the task allowed Harry and Cedric to work together again. They were both glad, because it meant they either both won, or none of them did.

The evening before the final task, Harry saw his old vision of winning the Triwizard Cup, only this time Cedric was beside him and the girl looking admiringly at him wasn't Cho, but Ginny.

"In union there is strength" – Aesop Fabulist


Chapter 7: The Third Task
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 Chapter 7: The Third Task

When Harry arrived in the Great Hall the following morning, he could feel the tension and excitement. Tonight, the Triwizard Tournament would end with the third task. For the other students it was the last day of exams. Harry had sat in the back of the room researching for more curses while the others took their exams, as he was excused from taking them. When his friends got up Harry made to follow them, but he was stopped by Professor McGonagall.

“Potter! You are expected in the antechamber of the Great Hall. The family of the champions has been invited to watch the third task.”

Harry looked at her, dumbfounded. “I don’t think my family would want to visit Hogwarts, Professor. They hate magic.”

Professor McGonagall merely smiled. “I think you’d be surprised”, she said and she left him alone.

Not knowing what to expect he entered the chamber. He saw Fleur and Krum with their families close to the door. By the fire he saw Cedric with his parents and talking to them were Arthur, Molly and Bill Weasley and Remus Lupin.

“Harry!”, Lupin exclaimed. He hugged Harry and said: “I’m proud of you, Harry. I knew you were capable of holding your own in this tournament, but you’re doing better than even I expected!”

Harry grinned. “I learned from the best”, and Lupin smiled broadly.

After greeting the Weasleys, Harry took them for a tour around Hogwarts. Mr and Mrs Weasley were very interested in the Whomping Willow, as they had never seen it before. Harry and Lupin looked at each other briefly and smiled. After the tour they had dinner in the Great Hall with all the other Weasleys and Hermione. Harry had the time of his life. It was like being back at The Burrow. That illusion was scattered by Professor Dumbledore who had raised from the staff table and requested the champions to accompany Ludo Bagman to the Quidditch field. Harry started to get nervous again, but was still fairly confident. They all wished them good luck and Hermione and Ginny kissed him on the cheek. They hadn’t told Mr and Mrs Weasley they were dating yet.

Harry met Cedric at the doors of the Great Hall.

“You ready?”, Cedric asked.

“As ready as I’ll ever be”, Harry said, but there was confidence in his voice.

Cedric gave him a pat on the back. “We can win this.”

Seeing as Harry was in the lead he entered the maze first, but he assured Cedric he would wait. Five minutes later Cedric met up with him and smiled. “I was hoping you wouldn’t ditch me.”

“You didn’t really expect that, did you?”, Harry said.

“Not a moment. You’re a Gryffindor”, Cedric stated. “Come on, let’s go.”

They quickly searched their way through the maze. They had been walking for about half an hour and still hadn’t encountered anything.

“Point Me”, Cedric said. Hermione had discovered the spell when they were training for the task. “We’ve wandered too far to the north, let’s go to the left.”

They walked around the corner and saw…

“Oh bloody hell”, Cedric said when he saw the Blast-Ended Skrewt. He paled and looked extremely frightened. “Impedimenta”, he shouted but the spell missed. The Skrewt was advancing rapidly, but Cedric looked too petrified to move.

Harry jumped in front of him and sent a stunning spell at the Skrewt, only there wasn’t a Skrewt anymore. It had whirled and changed into a Dementor. Harry stood there stunned for a moment and then he realized what it was. “Riddikulus!” The Boggart disappeared and Harry looked at Cedric, who seemed rather embarassed.

“Sorry about that”, he muttered.

“No problem.” Harry grinned. “Blast-Ended Skrewts... Hagrid really messed you up, didn't he?"

Cedric blushed. “Have you seen those things. They’re gigantic.” But he was grinning too. “Let’s go.”

Harry and Cedric hurried through the maze and encountered several more creatures. When they came across a sort of fog the two friends stood still.

“Should we go on?” Harry asked.

“It could be dangerous”, Cedric answered. We could try and find a way around.”

“But we have to be almost there! And there’s two of us. I doubt we’d really be in any danger.”

“All right”, Cedric agreed. “I’ll try and walk through it. You stay here in case something happens.”

Harry nodded and Cedric slowly approached the weird fog that blocked their path. Suddenly he gave a yell of fear.

“What? What’s wrong?”, Harry asked.

“I’m upside down!” Cedric yelled. “The whole world is upside down!”

Harry looked at him dumbfounded. “What are you talking about? You’re just standing there!” Then it hit him. “It has to be an illusion! Just walk on.”

Cedric looked terrified but moved one step further. His face visibly relaxed. “It’s alright, you just have to walk through it.”

Harry followed him and after having the weird feeling that the world had turned upside down they were at the other side of the fog. They continued their path. Suddenly they stood in front of a sphinx who told them they had almost reached their goal and would be allowed passage if they answered her riddle. To his own astonishment it was Harry who was able to give the correct answer and they hurried around the corner. There, they finally saw it. The Triwizard Cup. They ran towards it, but suddenly Harry felt smack something against him. He tumbled onto the ground and dropped his wand. His insides turned into ice when he saw he was being attacked by a giant spider.

<=>

Cedric was running towards the Triwizard Cup when he suddenly noticed Harry wasn’t beside him. He looked after him and saw a giant spider. Harry was nowhere to be seen. Cedric realized the spider had to be on top of Harry and his heart stopped for a moment.

“Impedimenta!”

Cedric’s spell hit the creature, but he could just as easily have thrown a pebble at the spider. However, the beast did leave Harry alone and went after him instead. Cedric panicked when he saw it approaching. “Stupefy!”

<=>



Harry wondered why the spider had suddenly left him alone, but wasn’t complaining. He sat up with a lot of effort and watched how the beast that had attacked him moments ago was quickly approaching Cedric. He realized his friend had come to his rescue, but was now in danger himself. He swiftly grabbed his wand that had fallen beside him. “Stupefy!”

Two spells did what one spell would never have been able to do. The beast fell on the ground unconscious and Cedric hurried over to Harry.

“Are you okay?”, he asked, looking extremely worried.

“Yeah, I think I’m fine. It got my leg, though.”

Cedric helped Harry get up and looked at his leg. “Looks painful. But nothing Madam Pomfrey can’t fix. Come on, let’s get out of here.”

The two of them moved over to the Triwizard Cup, Harry leaning heavily on Cedric’s shoulder. “Alright, you ready?” Cedric asked.

Harry nodded. “On three”, he said. “One, Two, Three.” He felt a hook somewhere behind his navel pull him away and they arrived on a graveyard that looked deserted. The moment his feet touched the ground, his injured leg bend and he fell to his knees.

Cedric looked at him worriedly before he examined his surroundings. “Where the hell are we? I thought the task was just finding the cup in the maze? Why is it a Portkey?”, Cedric asked. “Someone’s coming”, he added after a short silence.

Harry got back to his legs, quickly aided by Cedric. Harry looked around and his eyes narrowed when he saw the closest tombstone. “Tom Marvolo Riddle”, he muttered. “Cedric we have to get out of here!”, he yelled as his scar started burning. “We have to get back to the Cup!”

“Harry? What the hell is going on?”

“It’s him, Cedric! It’s Voldemort!”

“What?!” He turned to the cloaked figure who had almost reached them.

“Kill the spare”*, a high voice ordered.

The cloaked figure pulled out his wand, but Harry was faster. “Expelliarmus!”

The man was blown backwards by the force of Harry’s spell and his head hit the tombstone behind him. He fell on the ground, unconscious, next to the Triwizard Cup.

“Harry, tell me what’s going on”, Cedric demanded.

“I don’t know either, but we need to leave now.”

“But how do you know it’s him?”

“Because my scar – “, Harry started. “We don’t have time for this now. Just get to the cup.”

Cedric looked at him for a moment and then followed him to the Cup. “Alright”, he said. “One, Two, Three.”

The moment Harry took hold of the Portkey, he felt a hand gripping his arm firmly.

“We are in the same boat and we owe each other a terrible loyalty” – G.K. Chesterson

*Quote from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, chapter 32: Flesh, Blood and Bone by J.K. Rowling


Chapter 8: I'm Not Going Home
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Chapter 8: I'm Not Going Home 



Back at Hogwarts, chaos had broken out among the spectators. Dumbledore had installed a big screen so people could follow what happened in the maze. The headmaster had watched how Harry and Cedric had stayed together every single moment and had helped each other. When they took out the giant spider together, he had perhaps never felt more proud of two students before. But then he watched how Harry and Cedric took the cup together and he saw the two friends disappear. He immediately descended the stands and now he was pacing in front of the entrance of the maze. He felt helpless and useless. He knew Harry and Cedric were probably in danger and he couldn’t help but think that it had something to do with Voldemort and the fact that Harry’s name had come out of the Goblet of Fire.

Suddenly three figures appeared on the grass right in front of them. Dumbledore felt a wave of relief roll over him as he recognized Harry and Cedric, but who was the third one?

Cedric jumped to his legs quickly. “Petrificus Totalus!” and the cloaked figure fell petrified on the grass.

“Harry, Cedric!”, Dumbledore exclaimed. “What on earth happened?”

“The Cup was a Portkey!”, Harry answered.

“Of course it was a Portkey”, Dumbledore stated. “It was supposed to bring you back here in front of the maze.”

“Well it didn’t”, Cedric said. “It brought us to a graveyard and we were attacked.”

“Professor, who placed the cup in the maze?”, Harry asked.

“Professor Moody”, Dumbledore said, looking dumbfounded.

“Then he is the Death Eater, sir! The cup transported us directly to Voldemort. His Death Eater there tried to kill Cedric before I disarmed him.”

Dumbledore looked at the cloaked figure on the ground. “Incarcerous”, he muttered, binding the Death Eater. “That is impossible, Harry. Of all the people in the world, Alastor Moody is the last one who would join the Death Eaters." Realization suddenly hit him. "He must be an imposter. Severus! Please - "

“I think he is gone, headmaster”, Snape answered. “Nobody has seen him since the beginning of the third task.”

“Harry, Cedric, Severus, follow me”, Dumbledore ordered.

He levitated the petrified Death Eater, who was still wearing his cloak and his mask and led Harry and Cedric to the office of Professor Moody. There he set the Death Eater on a chair, ordered Snape to guard him and began searching the office.  When he opened a wooden chest, they saw dozens of flasks. Dumbledore took one, smelled it and handed it to Snape. The Potions master also smelled it and said: “Polyjuice Potion.” Dumbledore nodded.

“Do you think he – “Harry hesitated. “Do you think he killed the real Professor Moody, sir?”

Dumbledore shook his head. “No”, he said. “No, he would have had to keep him alive to make the Polyjuice Potion. He would have had to keep him within his reach.” And his eyes glided across the room. When his eyes saw the trunk in the corner of the office, he quickly walked over and opened it. On the bottom of the trunk lay an unconscious and very weak Mad-Eye Moody. Then the door flew open and Professor McGonagall entered the office.

“Albus, what on earth is going on? What happened down there?”, she demanded to know.

“Ah, Minerva, your arrival is most opportune. Would you please escort Alastor to the hospital wing. I am sure Madam Pomfrey will be able to patch him up.”

“But – “.

“I will explain everything to you later, Minerva”, Dumbledore promised. “Now please go.”

Professor McGonagall obeyed without further comments and left, floating the still unconscious body of the real Mad-Eye Moody in front of her.

“As for you”, Dumbledore said. He looked at the Death Eater. Harry looked in awe at his headmaster. He had never seen him angry before. He knew many people considered him to be the greatest sorcerer in centuries, but to Harry he had always been more of a good-humoured grandfather. Right now, Dumbledore’s face radiated nothing but raw power. He ripped the mask of his face and lowered the hood.

“Peter Pettigrew!”, Harry shouted.

“You know him?”, Cedric asked confused.

“You could say that”, Harry answered his friend with a grim look on his face. “He betrayed my parents to Voldemort.” He had unconsciously pulled out his wand again and pointed it at his face. “Don’t wake him, Professor. He can change into a rat and escape.”

“I know, Harry”, Dumbledore reassured him. He muttered something under his breath. “But not anymore now.”

Harry realized Dumbledore had used some spell that would prevent Pettigrew from changing into his animal form and escape.

“Severus, please take this man to the dungeons and lock him up. Guard him until I come and get you. I will go and get the Minister so we can get him out of here and he can be taken to Azkaban”, Dumbledore ordered. When Snape had left, he turned to Harry and said: “Well, this part did turn out for the better didn’t it.”

Harry was puzzled for a moment before he realized what Dumbledore meant. With Pettigrew captured, the Ministry would be able to question him and Sirius’ name could be cleared. He smiled at his headmaster.

“So Harry, Cedric”, Dumbledore said. “Could you tell me exactly what happened from the moment you touched the Triwizard Cup in the maze?”

Harry and Cedric filled Dumbledore in on the events of that night. The headmaster was drained in his thoughts for a while. Dumbledore realized that Cedric just as easily could have been killed and was happy his students were far more difficult to overpower than Voldemort apparently had thought.

“Do you know what the meaning of this was, Professor?”, Harry suddenly asked.

“I believe I do, Harry”, Dumbledore answered. “But I do not know if I should tell you.”

“We have the right to know”, Cedric said. “If that was really You-Know-Who out there, he transported us to that graveyard for a reason. We want to know what it is.”

Dumbledore nodded. “Very well. It is my belief that Voldemort was planning on recreating his body tonight.”

“How?”, Harry asked. He wasn’t really surprised.

Cedric on the contrary was looking at his headmaster with his mouth wide open. “Why did he need us?”

“Not as much you, Cedric”, Dumbledore answered. “I think he only intended to transport Harry to that graveyard tonight, but seeing as you so admirably worked together until the very end, you were transported there too.”

“But why did he want me?”, Harry asked.

“There is an old dark ritual. I have heard from it before, but how it really works, I do not know. It’s been known to help dark wizards who have in one way or another been banished from their corporeal form to recreate their bodies. It requires three main substances. Bone of the father, flesh of the servant and blood of the enemy.”

“He needed my blood”, Harry realized. “And I saw a tombstone on that graveyard with Voldemort’s name on it. Was that his father?”

“Indeed”, Dumbledore said. “And I believe Peter Pettigrew was in charge of the last substance, flesh of the servant. He would probably have needed to cut off a body part.”

Cedric shuddered. “But his plan didn’t work then”, he said. “He won’t come back?”

Harry looked at Dumbledore. “This time his plan failed indeed. But he will not give up after one failed attempt, I am afraid. He has gained a lot of strength the way I hear it and you can be sure that the man or woman who posed so successfully as Alastor Moody for the entire year will have joined his master by now, along with a lot of other old Death Eaters.”

Harry and Cedric looked at each other uncomfortably. Dumbledore smiled at them. “I do not think it is wise to worry too much about it right now. We have been gotten on quite a side track, but I believe congratulations are in order. You both have won the Triwizard Tournament! You could have brought no higher honour to Hogwarts. I am extremely proud of you, especially of the unity you have showed throughout the Tournament. Now let us go down for the ceremony. Your friends and class mates will be waiting impatiently.”






“Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you the winners of the Triwizard Tournament, both from Hogwarts: Harry James Potter and Cedric Jasper Diggory!”, the magically enforced voice of Ludo Bagman shouted.

Harry and Cedric were met by a standing ovation by the Hogwarts staff and students. They both grinned at each other before they walked forward and raised the Triwizard Cup above their heads.  After a dull speech from Cornelius Fudge, the Minister of Magic, Harry and Cedric both got a bag of money pushed into their hands and were pulled of the podium again.

Harry was making his way through the crowd looking for his friends, which wasn’t easy to do. Everyone wanted to congratulate him and shake his hand.

“Harry!”, he heard a familiar voice shout. He turned and around and was suddenly surrounded by Weasleys. They were all hugging him and in the sea of red hair, he also spotted a bushy brown-haired witch.

When they released him, he grinned broadly and said: “So you were rooting for me!”

They all laughed and headed back to the castle. The evening passed in a blur. Harry was overwhelmed by all the congratulations he got and all the hands he had to shake. Finally he got some rest and he sat in the Gryffindor common room with Ginny, Hermione and Ron. He finally told them everything that happened after he and Cedric disappeared from Hogwarts and they were looking positively shocked.

“And Dumbledore thinks he will be successful next time?”, Hermione asked looking dead worried.

“Well, some time. He does think he won’t try to get to me again, because I’m too well protected apparently”, Harry answered. “He needs the blood of an enemy, but I guess he could use pretty much any witch or wizard for that. I mean, who doesn’t hate Voldemort?”

Shortly after that Ron and Hermione went to bed and Harry and Ginny stayed behind. Ginny was looking rather pale and hadn’t said much since Harry told them everything.

“You okay?”, he asked.

“Yeah sure”, she answered. “It’s just, you could have been killed! What would I have done?”

Harry chuckled. “Come here, Ginny.” She snuggled into his arms and he pulled her close to him. “I’m not planning on going anywhere”, he whispered. “You’re going to have to put up with me for a very long time.”

Ginny giggled and gave him a soft kiss on his lips. “You’d better”, she whispered back and she fell slowly asleep in his arms.

 

“Another year at Hogwarts has passed and a very eventful year at that”, Dumbledore spoke to the assembled Great Hall. The Hall was decorated in the scarlet and gold colours of Gryffindor and the yellow-black from Hufflepuff. For the first time in 250 years two houses shared the first position for the House Cup, thanks to the spectacular performances in the Triwizard Tournament. “First of all, I would like to congratulate our two school champions once more, who have won the Triwizard Cup for Hogwarts. Can I please have an applause for Harry Potter and Cedric Diggory!”

All of the students got to their feet and gave Harry and Cedric a standing ovation. They were both watching a bit shyly. After awarding the House Cup to Gryffindor and Hufflepuff, Dumbledore opened the feast.

Harry grew more silent as he thought about the next day and the weeks that would follow. He would be returning to the Dursleys and that seemed to be even harder than the other years. Harry hoped that he would be able to live with Sirius now that Wormtail had been caught, but that wouldn’t happen soon. Dumbledore had convinced Cornelius Fudge to hold a full trial against Peter Pettigrew, but that wasn’t planned until July 24th. Almost a month from now. But Ron already assured him that he would be able to stay at The Burrow again for at least part of the summer. Harry already looked forward to that time, not in the least because of Ginny. Her parents still didn’t know that they were a couple, Ginny was afraid they might think she was too young to date, but at least he would be able to spend time with her then.

When he got off the Hogwarts Express the next day he was more gloomy than ever.

“Oh, come on, Harry”, Hermione said, looking at him worriedly. “It’s not that long. We’ll see you sooner than you think.”

“Yeah mate”, Ron agreed. “We’ll get you out of that Muggle hole as fast as we can.”

“I just don’t understand why I have to go back every year”, Harry mumbled. Ginny smiled at him and gave his hand a squeeze.

“Dunno, mate”, Ron shrugged. “I overheard mom asking Dumbledore if you could come straight to The Burrow after the third task, but he said it was important you returned.”

They passed the passage of Platform Nine and Three Quarters and appeared in King’s Cross Station.

“Well”, Harry said. “I’ll see you guys later then.”

Ginny and Hermione both kissed him on the cheek and hugged him tightly. Even Ron gave him a brief manly hug. “Take care, mate.

“Write us, Harry”, Hermione said.

“We’ll see you soon”, Ginny whispered somberly.

Harry managed a smile, waved and headed over to the Dursleys who were waiting impatiently. He certainly didn’t look forward to the following weeks, but he knew he would eventually go back home.

"A winner is a dreamer who never gives up" - Nelson Mandela


Chapter 9: It Happened
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 It Happened

Cornelius Fudge walked from his office to the Atrium in the Ministry of Magic. He was extremely tired. The Triwizard Tournament was finally over, but instead of lessening, the working pressure seemed to keep getting higher. There was Dumbledore’s constant warnings about He Who Must Not Be Named gaining strength. Fudge knew better than to not take Dumbledore’s opinion seriously. He was after all an extremely powerful wizard and a highly respected member of the wizarding community. Fudge shuddered if he thought about the possibility of the Dark Lord returning. Not only would his people be in grave danger and would a second wizarding war be inevitable, there was also a chance that his greatest secret would come out into the open. A secret that would most certainly cost him his job, and his job was worth more to him than he cared to admit. Above all that, there was still no sign of Bartemius Crouch, the head of the Department of International Magical Cooperation, who had disappeared months ago.

Fudge sighed, looked at his watch and saw it was already 11 o’clock in the evening. He would get another lecture from his wife, who thought he was spending far too much time at the office. But as Minister for Magic he didn’t really had a choice in the matter. Ill-tempered, he made his way through the deserted building. Rufus Scrimgeour, the Head of the Auror Office had decided the Ministry wasn’t protected well enough and had made sure that it was impossible to Floo into the Ministry outside of the Atrium. Even the fireplace in his own office was unusable.

When he arrived in the Atrium he wasn’t surprised it was empty too, though it did strike him as odd that he didn’t see the night guard. He decided to take a look at his desk that was located right in front of the visitor’s entrance. When he looked behind the counter his heart stopped for a second. Eric Munch, who had been working as a receptionist and night guard for the Ministry for nearly 30 years lay on his back on the ground, his open eyes staring at nothing. Fudge looked at his lifeless body and realized he must’ve been the victim of the killing curse. That must mean there were intruders in the building.

Fudge quickly turned around and found himself staring at the tip of a wand.

“Hello Minister.”

“That’s impossible”, Fudge muttered, staring at the man in front of him. “You’re dead!”

Barty Crouch Jr looked at him with a deranged smile on his face. “Now now, Minister. You must have me confused with my father. Very important and respected man he was, but that didn’t stop me from killing him like a dog in the street.”

He spoke so calmly and matter of factly about killing his father that Fudge felt a shiver go down his spine. “What do you want from me?”, he asked him. “It was 16 years ago. I was a fool! Don’t do anything you’ll regret.”

Crouch grinned. “You’re coming with me Fudge”, he said. “But first you will very slowly take out your wand and put it on the ground.”

Fudge did as he said but tried to outsmart the man in front of him. “Stupe – “

“Expelliarmus! Dear dear, still not much of a dueller aren’t you. And that’s what they chose as Minister for Magic?” Crouch was laughing out loud. “Crucio!”

 

Crouch grabbed Fudge and took him to the telephone booth that functioned as visitor’s entrance. When they were outside, he grabbed Fudge’s arm firmly and turned around, disapparating. When Fudge opened his eyes he didn’t really register what he saw. After a minute he realized they seemed to be on a graveyard. What on earth was Crouch planning with him? And then he remembered what Dumbledore told him after the third task of the Triwizard Tournament. “No”, he muttered. “No. you’re mad! It won’t work!”

“Silence him”, a high pitched voice said.

Crouch threw Fudge onto a tombstone, bound him against it and put a scarf in his mouth. After using the bones of Tom Riddle Senior, chopping off his own hand and stealing Fudge’s blood, the ritual was complete. Fudge was looking with terror in his eyes as Lord Voldemort rose out of the cauldron.

“No”, he thought. “This can’t be happening.”

“Good evening, Cornelius”, Voldemort sneered. “It has been so long. Are you not happy to see me? We are old friends after all.”

Tears were leaking down Fudge’s cheeks when he looked at the monster he once called his master.

“Or at least we were, until you decided to take your chance”, Voldemort laughed, a high, cruel, humourless laugh. “How did you ever think you could take my place, Cornelius? How could you ever think that a pathetic, little excuse for a wizard like you could beat Lord Voldemort, the greatest wizard that ever walked this earth? Crucio!”

Fudge couldn’t scream, but he was groaning and moaning in pain. This pain was so much worse than the pain that was inflicted by the Cruciatus Curse Crouch threw at him. This was pain he had never felt before. He had been tortured by the Dark Lord during his time as a Death Eater, but either he had forgotten how much it hurt or Voldemort was even more powerful and more vicious than he was before. Fudge lost track of how long he lie there, drifting in and out of consciousness as Voldemort kept torturing him. When he opened his eyes once more he realized he had to have been unconscious for a longer time now. He saw there were more people on the graveyard. People wearing black robes and hoods and masks. They were all bowing deeply for their master. The Death Eaters had returned.

“Ah Cornelius, I see you are back with us”, Voldemort said. “I truly appreciate all of your help on this festive night, but I think you are no longer of any need for us now. Barty, if you please?”

Crouch grinned broadly as he put his wand up to the skies. “Morsmordre!”

Fudge watched in terror as for the second time in a year he saw the dreaded mark appear in the skies. The mark he hadn’t seen for so many years and he had hoped to never see again.

“Goodbye Cornelius.” The red eyes were staring cruelly into his victim’s eyes. “Avada Kedavra!”

 

In a bed in an ordinary Muggle house in the Privet Drive in Little Whinging , Surrey, an almost 15-year old boy sat straight up in bed, panting heavily.

I have to warn Dumbledore. He took his quill and parchment but then he remembered that Dumbledore warned him to be careful when he sent letters with owl post. They couldn’t be sure his mail wouldn’t be intercepted. He knew he had to let his headmaster know about what happened, but how could he if he couldn’t write to him? After a few minutes he scribbled a quick note.

Professor Dumbledore,

It happened. Contact me asap.

Harry Potter

He called over Hedwig, tied the note to her paw and walked her to the window.

“Be quick, Hedwig.”

She hooted soothingly and flew off. Harry looked at the alarm clock next to his bed. Only 6.30h in the morning. He didn’t go back to bed. He knew he wouldn’t be able to sleep until he received some kind of answer from Dumbledore. He tried to work on the homework he was assigned for the summer, but he kept thinking about his dream. He still hoped it was just a dream, but his common sense said that it really happened. Dumbledore himself had told him last year that the dreams he had about Voldemort were really happening.

About an hour later Harry heard his aunt and uncle get up and make their way downstairs for breakfast. Harry stayed in his room. He had avoided his relatives as much as he could this summer. They seemed to be gladly accepting his behaviour. The presence of their nephew in their house had brought some troubles for them over the last few years. An important business meeting had gone terribly wrong, uncle Vernon’s sister Marge had been blown up by Harry after she insulted his parents and the year before, Mr Weasley had blown up the Dursleys’ fire place.

Suddenly there was a flash and Fawkes the phoenix appeared in Harry’s room. He dropped a letter on Harry’s lap and disappeared with another flash. Harry opened the letter and was extremely relieved when he recognized the handwriting of his headmaster.

Harry,

I will stop by at Privet Drive later this day. Do not leave the house until I get there. I’ll talk to you in a couple of hours.

Albus Dumbledore

The panic Harry had felt since he woke up from his dream seemed to lessen a bit. The knowledge that he would be able to talk to his headmaster in a couple of hours was a huge comfort for him. He raised from his chair, got dressed and made his way downstairs. He realized he would have to tell the Dursleys that Dumbledore would be standing on their doorstep that day. Bracing himself, he made his way downstairs.

“Whatever is going to happen will happen, whether we worry or not” – Ana Monnar

A/N: Thank you to those who have reviewed my story. I’m very happy you seem to enjoy it. It’s my first fan fiction story and I’m still rather self-conscious about my writing and my English. It really means a lot to me to read what you’re thinking. If you have any criticism or remarks, don’t hesitate to tell me. It can only help me to become a better writer.


Chapter 10: Grimmauld Place
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Chapter 10: Grimmauld Place

Harry was sitting on the garden bench of the Dursleys later that morning. He had told his aunt and uncle that Dumbledore would be coming by that day. His aunt didn't seem to care much, but his uncle was furious.

"It's enough we have to take you in!", he had shouted. "We don't need to see any more of your freak friends!"

Then he had sent Harry outside, ordering him to mow the lawn. Harry had finished his chore over half an hour ago, but didn't go back inside. The backdoor was open so he would hear it when the bell rang and he wanted to stay out of the reach of his relatives as long as possible.

He shot up when he heard the bell ring. He waited a minute, but when he saw Dudley running away from the hall as quick as he could, Harry smiled and made his way inside.

"Ah Harry", Dumbledore said calmly when Harry entered the hall. "I believe we need to have a talk. Is there anywhere we can talk in private?", he asked aunt Petunia, who had opened the door. She didn't give any sign that she had heard him.

"Er, we could go upstairs, Professor", Harry said nervously.

"Of course, lead the way Harry." Dumbledore didn't seem the least bit uncomfortable with the inhospitality and rudeness of the Dursleys.

Harry was a bit self-conscious about having his headmaster in his room at Privet Drive, but Dumbledore seemed completely at ease and plumped down on Harry's bed. He looked at Harry and said: "Tell me everything, Harry."

Harry told Dumbledore everything he had witnessed in his dream. He didn't leave out any details and he felt a strange sense of relief wave over him as he finished his story. A huge weight seemed to have disappeared. "Do you think it is the same as my other dreams, sir? Do you think he's really back?"

Dumbledore looked into the green eyes from his favourite student and thought deeply for a moment before he answered: "What do you think yourself, Harry?"

Harry was surprised Dumbledore seemed to value his opinion just as much as his own. "Well... It sure felt the same."

Dumbledore nodded with grief on his face. "Yes, Harry. What you just told me explains a lot. You see, this morning I was called to the Ministry of Magic by the Head of the Auror Office, Rufus Scrimgeour. It was clear intruders had penetrated the Ministry last night. Eric Munch, who had night duty was found dead and only feet away from his body they found a wand. The Aurors believed it to be from the killer who had left it there so his wand wouldn't betray him, but after a quick investigation, they found out the wand belonged to Cornelius Fudge. Prior Incantato made clear the wand wasn't used for the murder of Eric Munch. The last spell detected was a stunning spell, so we know the Minister tried to defend himself. The Aurors interrogated Fudge's wife, but she told him he hadn't come home the night before. It was quite obvious the Minister had been abducted… Or worse."

"This is bad", Harry said.

"I am afraid so", Dumbledore said calmly. "Not only has Lord Voldemort returned, by killing the Minister of Magic, he has made sure that the Ministry is one big mess right now. It is my belief that under normal circumstances, Voldemort would lie low for now. He would not want his return to be known to the greater public as he likes so much to operate in secret. Manipulating and deceiving are only two of his best practices. On the other hand, now that all is chaos at the Ministry, Voldemort will be tempted to strike hard. He is extremely intelligent, but he still is very arrogant. He will want to make sure everyone knows that Lord Voldemort cheated death, that he is indestructible."

Harry felt himself shivering. The passive threat of Voldemort seemed to be floating in the room with them. "What are you going to do, Professor?"

"All I can, Harry", Dumbledore answered. "Back when Voldemort was at large the first time I founded a secret society. It was called the Order of the Phoenix and it consisted of people who wanted to fight Voldemort and his Death Eaters." He paused. "Your parents were members too, as were Sirius and Remus. My first step will be contacting all of the old members and recruit new members. We can be certain Voldemort will be recruiting new Death Eaters too."

"What about the Ministry?"

Dumbledore sighed. "Much will depend on who the Wizengamot will put forth as new Minister for Magic."

"The Wizengamot?", Harry asked. "Aren't there elections in the wizarding world?"

"Yes there are, but we won't have those for a long time, I'm afraid. By unexpected retirement or death of a Minister, the Wizengamot puts forward a Minister ad interim. Other witches or wizards who wish to stand for election have ten weeks to put their names forward. Only then the magical community votes."

Harry once again realized that even after four years in the wizarding world, there was still so much he didn't know.

"For now, Head Auror Scrimgeour is keeping everything under control at the Ministry", Dumbledore continued. "I will have to talk to him about Voldemort's return."

"Will he believe you?", Harry wondered. "I mean, I don't think a dream of a 15-year old boy is going to be sufficient evidence for the Auror office."

Dumbledore smiled. "I will not mention your dream, Harry. I do not think it wise for too many people to know about your connection with Voldemort. By the way, Harry, do not be alarmed if that connection intensifies. Now that Voldemort is back among the living, I expect you to have a lot more of those dreams now." He looked at Harry as if he was thinking of something. "Perhaps it would not be a bad idea for you to learn Occlumency."

"Occlumency, sir?"

"It will allow you to protect your mind from any attack of others", Dumbledore explained. "Voldemort is a very accomplished Legilimens. It means he can penetrate the minds of his victims", he added when he saw Harry's confused look. "But I will talk about this with you later. I will make arrangements for you to leave this place in the course of this week. I think two weeks should be sufficient."

"Sufficient, Professor?"

"I will explain it to you later, Harry. I really need to go back to the Ministry now."

Headmaster and student descended the stairs together. Dumbledore lifted his hat at the Dursleys, who were peering at them through the window in the kitchen door. His eyes were twinkling brightly. When he walked out the door he turned around and said: "I will see you later this summer, Harry." He shook his hand and smiled. Harry watched his favourite Professor walk away. He looked hilariously out of place in the very normal Muggle suburb. When Harry blinked, Dumbledore had disappeared.




Harry spent the following days waiting impatiently for someone to come and get him. When uncle Vernon came into his room on Thursday night and informed Harry aunt Petunia, Dudley and himself wouldn't be home that evening, Harry merely shrugged. It didn't make that big of a difference if his relatives were or were not home. Harry only saw them during meals, the rest of the day he spent in his room.

Harry lay on his back, reading Flying with the Cannons for the fourth time when there was a knock on his door. He hadn't heard anyone come home or enter the house. It couldn't be someone from his family, they would never knock before entering his room. He jumped of his bed and pointed his wand at the door. "Who's there?"

"Remus John Lupin, werewolf and former Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher of Hogwarts, who thought you, Harry, to perform a Patronus that takes the form of a stag."

Harry quickly walked to the door, threw it open and saw Remus Lupin beaming at him. "Remus!", he exclaimed and hugged his former Professor. "Sorry about that."

"Don't mention it, Harry. You were right to be cautious", Remus said. "Now Mad-Eye will have my skin if I don't make sure you're not an imposter so, which creature did I have in my office the first time you visited me at Hogwarts?"

"Er, a Grindylow, right?", Harry said.

"Very good", Remus smiled. "Now let me help you pack your things. The others are waiting downstairs."

"Others?"

"Yes, the Advance Guard. We were assigned by Dumbledore to escort you to headquarters", Remus explained.

"Headquarters? You mean of the Order of the Phoenix?", Harry asked.

"Oh of course", Remus said. "Dumbledore must already have told you about it."

"So we won't be going to The Burrow?"

Remus couldn't help but smile. "I'm afraid not, Harry. But all the Weasleys are staying at the headquarters over the summer too, so you'll feel at home."

"Where is it?", Harry asked.

"Better not to mention that here", Remus said. "But it's well hidden and Dumbledore performed the Fidelius Charm so you will be perfectly safe."

Harry nodded. He grabbed his trunk and Hedwig's cage and made his way downstairs together with Lupin. When they arrived in the kitchen, Harry was greeted by a big group of witches and wizards, all of them carrying a broomstick with them.

"I believe you have already met Alastor Moody", Remus said.

Moody nodded. "Evening, Potter."

"This is Kingsley Shacklebolt and the colourful young witch next to him is Nymphadora Tonks", Remus continued. "They both work for the Ministry of Magic as Aurors." They both nodded and smiled at Harry, who did the same. Remus continued to introduce the other members of the Order of the Phoenix to Harry: Dedalus Diggle, Hestia Jones, Emmeline Vance, Sturgis Podmore and Elphias Doge.

"Alright everyone, enough chitchat", Moody said bluntly. "Let's go."

The others followed him outside and got on their brooms and got off. Harry followed Tonks' tail. At first he was enjoying the freedom of flying again after being stuck at Privet Drive for almost three weeks. After flying for a couple of hours, he started to long for their arrival though. He was absolutely freezing, he had never been this cold on a broomstick.

Finally Tonks was lowering and eventually they landed on a forlorn square. Harry wondered where on earth they were when Moody motioned him over. "Read this", he grumbled and he pushed a piece of parchment in Harry's hand. "Memorize it." Harry looked at the parchment and saw the familiar handwriting of Albus Dumbledore.

The headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix are located at number twelve Grimmauld Place, London.*

When Harry thought about the words he saw and old house had appeared and they all hurriedly made their way inside.

"They probably already started the meeting", Lupin whispered. "You go straight upstairs, Harry. You're sharing a room with Ron. It's on the first floor, second door to the right."

Harry nodded and made his way upstairs. When he opened the door Lupin had sent him too, he heard two squeals and a body smaller than his hit him rock-hard.

"Ginny", he murmured and pulled his girlfriend even closer to him. He buried his head in her red hair and inhaled the soft flowery scent he had missed so much. "I missed you", he whispered. "I missed you so much." Ginny looked up at him smiling happily and kissed him deeply.

"Hey!"

"Oh for Merlin's sake, Ronald. You said you were okay with them being together!"

"Yeah, but that doesn't mean I want to see my little sister and my best mate snog each other in front of my eyes!"

Harry couldn't help but grin when he looked over Ginny's head and saw his two best friends bickering. He realized he had even missed that.

"Hermione! I didn't know you'd be here", Harry said happily as he finally let go of Ginny.

Hermione smiled at him. "Ron wrote me you would be arriving today. I convinced my parents to let me stay here for two weeks, so I'll be here for your birthday. But then I have to go back." She walked over to her best friend and hugged him. "How are you?"

"I'm fine", he said.

"So what exactly happened, mate?", Ron asked.

"You don't know what's happening?"

"Not a clue", he said, while Harry and Ginny went to sit down on the unused bed. "One day dad comes home from work and tells us Fudge was killed and that You-Know-Who was back. Next thing we know they tell us they were joining the Order of the Phoenix and we moved in here."

Harry told his friends everything about the dream he had and the talk he had with Dumbledore. They were looking terrified. It seemed to Harry that they hadn't fully realized Voldemort had really returned until they heard Harry confirm it.

Harry enjoyed being able to talk and laugh with his friends again until they waited for Mrs Weasley to call them down for dinner.

* Quote from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, chapter 3: The Advance Guard by J.K. Rowling

 


Chapter 11: I Have To Do What Now?
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Chapter 11: I Have To Do What Now?

When the four friends arrived in the kitchen for dinner, they were greeted by a familiar face.

“Sirius!” Harry hugged his godfather.

Sirius grinned broadly. “It’s great to see you”, he said. How have you been?”

Harry hadn’t seen Sirius since the last Hogsmeade visit and they had a lot of catching up to do, while the others went and helped Mrs Weasley to set the table for dinner.

Mr and Mrs Weasley and Bill, Charlie and Percy had all joined the Order of the Phoenix over the summer. Bill was now going out with Fleur Delacour, who had broken up with her French boyfriend and stayed in Britain after the Triwizard Tournament. She greeted Harry happily. Harry learned that Cedric Diggory had also joined the Order, but he had already left.

During dinner Harry learned of what had been going on the last few days from the members of the Order of the Phoenix. Apparently Rufus Scrimgeour had been appointed Minister for Magic ad interim. Dumbledore had said that Scrimgeour was probably a better leader in this situation than Fudge would have been. Scrimgeour had a long career as an Auror behind him and didn’t underestimate Voldemort and his Death Eaters.

“By the way, Harry,” Remus said, “Dumbledore is stopping by tomorrow. He said he needed to talk to you.”

“Alright”, Harry answered. He directed his next question to Sirius: “What about Pettigrew’s trial. Is it still up for next week?”

Sirius nodded. “Yes the date still stands for Monday. Too bad I can’t be there to see that rat go down.”

Harry had a grim look on his face. “Oh I’ll give you all the details afterwards, I’ll make sure I’m there.” He paused. “So…” He looked at the adults. “What has Voldemort been up to? Has he come out in the open yet?”

“No”, Remus said. “He has been extraordinary silent. It is weird, because Scrimgeour has alerted the magical community that he had returned. He even warned the Muggle Prime Minister.”

Harry didn’t understand. “Then why is he lying low? I thought he would want to show everyone he was back?”

“Maybe that isn’t his main concern”, Sirius answered. “Maybe he wants to obtain something before he comes out into the open.”

“What do you mean?”

“Something that will give him answers. Something he didn’t know last time.”

“That’s enough, Sirius”, Molly said sharply. He doesn’t need to know everything. Otherwise we might as well take him into the Order.”

“Why not?”, Harry asked. “If Voldemort is getting stronger I want to fight!”

“No”, Sirius said. “I’m sorry Harry, but you’re too young to be a fully-fledged member of the Order. The Order of the Phoenix consists of people who are adults – “

“We are adults”, Fred said and he pointed at George and himself.

“People who have finished their education”, Sirius corrected himself. “We won’t keep everything from you Harry, we know you have a right to know what’s going on.”

“Then why can’t you tell me?”

“The decision which information you will hear isn’t ours to make”, Remus said. “All the information you will hear will be via Dumbledore.”

After dinner Harry, Ginny, Ron, Hermione, Fred and George were all in Harry and Ron’s room, talking about what Sirius had said (or not said).

“Maybe he’s after some weapon”, Fred said.

“No, Sirius said it was something that would give him answers”, Hermione pointed out. “Something he didn’t know last time…”

Harry spoke up: “Maybe he wants to find out why he wasn’t able to kill me when I was a baby.”

“Oh but surely he has realized that already, Harry!”, Hermione said.

“Well then, maybe he’s trying to find a way around it.”

“There is no way around it!”, Ginny said fearfully. “Is there?”

They all looked at Hermione who shrugged: “Not that I know of, but that doesn’t guarantee anything.”

Ginny was looking at Harry worriedly. “Don’t worry, Ginny”, he said, putting his arms around her. “I’m probably the most protected kid in the world. He’d have a tough job getting to me.”

“On a different note”, George grinned. “When are you going to tell Mum and Dad you’re dating?”

Harry and Ginny looked at each other. The looks Bill, Charlie and  Percy had given him over dinner told Harry that the three older Weasley brothers already knew about it, but Mr and Mrs Weasley were still oblivious. They looked anxious just thinking about it. The others laughed at their expressions.

“Honestly, I don’t understand what you guys are worried about”, Ron laughed. “Mom and Dad are fond of Harry, they couldn’t love him more if he was their own son!”

“Yeah”, Fred agreed. “They’d be happy for you, you know that.”

“What if they say I’m too young?”, Ginny asked.

“You’re going to be fourteen soon, it’s not that young”, Hermione stated. If she was honest with herself she had to admit that she was a bit jealous of Ginny. It had been a while until they officially started dating after they went to the Yule Ball together last year, but Harry had expressed his feelings for Ginny fairly quickly, a lot more quickly than Hermione expected actually. Ron on the other hand was still completely daft.

 



When Harry entered the kitchen the next morning, he was enveloped in a manly bear hug.

“Hey Cedric!” He smiled broadly. It was great to see his co-champion again. “How are you?”

“Can’t complain”, Cedric grinned. “What about you? Sorry I didn’t see you yesterday. I was on night duty.”

“Night duty?”, Harry asked.

Cedric nodded. “For the Order”, he explained. “It’s great to see you again! I must say it’s a little weird I won’t be going back to Hogwarts this year.”

“Right! What are you planning to do?”

“I’m in Auror training actually”, Cedric said proudly. “Kingsley is my mentor. Tough one, that one is. But I’m learning a lot from him. He has tons of experience.”

Harry thought about Cedric had said. He wondered if the Auror Office would be a good career path for him when he was finished at Hogwarts. He could perfectly picture himself chasing bad guys and fighting the dark arts for a living.

Shortly after lunch Sirius knocked on the door of Harry’s room where he was playing an exciting game of Wizard’s Chess with Ron, while Ginny and Hermione were watching from the other bed.

“Harry”, he said, poking his head around the door. “Dumbledore is here, he wants to talk to us.”

Harry followed his godfather to the living room where Dumbledore sat waiting for him. Harry hadn’t been in this room before and he watched the tapestry of the Black family on the wall. He frowned when he read the words Toujours Pur. Harry knew this had been the house of the parents of Sirius, but he didn’t know they were purists.

“Good afternoon, Harry”, Dumbledore said looking up from the Pensieve that was placed on the desk in front of him. “I am here to discuss some important matters with you and as Sirius is your godfather I found it wisely that he would also be present.”

Harry nodded as Sirius put his hand on his shoulder.

“First of all, Harry, it is with great grief that I have to inform you that Professor Trelawney has been killed in her home yesterday.”

Harry’s hart sank. He had never liked Professor Trelawney. She was a fraud and a dismal teacher, but her fate shocked him. “Why?”, he asked. “Why did they go after her?” He couldn't imagine a person with less value to Voldemort or the Death Eaters than his old Divination teacher.

Dumbledore looked extremely old when he looked at Harry. “Do you remember that Professor Trelawney made a prediction about Wormtail returning to his master, shortly before you met Sirius?” He gestured at his godfather. Harry nodded. “Do you also remember me telling you then that that was probably Professor Trelawney’s second accurate prediction?”

Harry nodded again. He hadn’t given much thought to the words of Dumbledore back then because he had had other things on his mind.

“Sixteen years ago”, Dumbledore continued. “Professor Trelawney made a Prophecy. A Prophecy that is registered in the Hall of Prophecy in the Department of Mysteries in the Ministry of Magic.”

Sirius sat up a bit more straight. “That’s the Prophecy we’ve been guarding.”

Dumbledore nodded. “The Prophecy is about you and Voldemort, Harry.”

Harry was staring at his headmaster, flabbergasted. “There is a Prophecy about me and Voldemort?”

Dumbledore nodded. “And the content of that Prophecy is of great importance.”

“But no one knows what the Prophecy says”, Sirius said. “We decided we wouldn’t try to find out the contents so Voldemort wouldn’t find out either!”

“Very true, Sirius”, Dumbledore agreed. “But the Prophecy was made to someone. And that someone remembers every word of it.”

“It was made to you, wasn’t it”, Harry stated. Dumbledore nodded. “What did it say?”

Dumbledore sighed deeply. He suddenly looked uncharacteristically old. He took his wand, whirled around in the contents of the Pensieve and then the face of the now late Sybill Trelawney floated to the surface.

“The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches.
Born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies.
And the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not.
And either must die at the hand of the other, for neither can live while the other survives. *


What followed was a deafening silence. Sirius was the first to speak up. “Does that mean – “, he stuttered. “Dumbledore, what does it mean?”

Harry had never seen his headmaster look older than he did this very moment. “It means”, he answered, “that there is only one person that has the power to defeat Voldemort. A person who was born at the end of July and who was marked by Voldemort himself as his equal.”

“And that’s me”, Harry said. He was surprised how calm his voice sounded.

“The description could have been about one other boy”, Dumbledore said. “But by attacking you when you were a baby – “

“Voldemort marked me as his equal”, Harry nodded. “I have to kill him.”

“No!”, Sirius shouted. “You can’t expect a fifteen year old boy to defeat the darkest wizard our world has ever seen!”

“I am afraid there is no other way, Sirius”, Dumbledore said. “The second part of the Prophecy says that neither can live while the other survives. It has to be Harry. He is the only one who can do it.”

Sirius looked beaten. Harry was staring at his headmaster. Finally he said: “You have known this all along, haven’t you? You should have told me. I had the right to know!”

“I know, Harry”, Dumbledore sighed. “I should probably have told you the moment you set foot into Hogwarts, but I couldn’t bring myself to put that kind of burden onto an eleven year old boy. As the years passed, I have had many opportunities to tell you, but I cared too much about you to worry you that much. I wanted you to be happy.”

Harry looked at Dumbledore and to his embarrassment, he saw tears welling in his blue eyes. He didn’t have the heart to be angry at his headmaster, but he still felt mad about being kept in the dark. He merely nodded and said: “The Prophecy says that I would have power the Dark Lord knows not.”

Dumbledore nodded. “It does.”

“But”, Harry continued, puzzled. “How can I? Voldemort is probably the most powerful wizard in the world, except for you. How could I have any power that he doesn’t have?”

“Yes Harry, Voldemort is an extremely powerful wizard”, Dumbledore answered. “But he has one very big flaw: Voldemort is not capable of love. He has never felt it, he has never received it, and therefore he does  not understand it.”

“That may be”, Harry said. “But how will that help me? Voldemort possesses and kills people in a heartbeat. I’m not capable of such things.”

Dumbledore considered his words before he spoke. “It may seem insignificant to you right now, Harry, but trust me when I say that there is no greater power in this world than the power of love.” Harry looked at him sceptically, but Dumbledore merely smiled. “Harry, do you remember I told you after your confrontation with Quirrell three years ago, how you were able to survive when Voldemort first tried to kill you?”

Harry nodded. “Because my mother gave her life for me.” Sirius shifted on his chair when he said that.

“Indeed”, Dumbledore confirmed. “She refused to step aside when Voldemort tried to kill you. Her love saved you that night, Harry. Her determination to protect her only son made sure that the Killing Curse Voldemort shot at you rebounded and your life was spared. You are still the only person ever to be known to survive that curse. The Killing Curse never fails. According to all magical laws, there is no protection possible against it. But love made sure you survived that night. Love is the only power in this world that can cheat death.”

Harry let Dumbledore’s words sink in and looked over at Sirius. He saw his godfather had tears streaming down his face. The combined story of Lily’s sacrifice and the Prophecy had probably been a bit much for him. Harry didn’t know why he wasn’t more afraid. He should be, shouldn’t he? Not only did the darkest wizard in the world want to kill him, now he also found out he was the only one who could stop him and that he would either have to kill him or be killed. But Harry felt that he had always known it would end like that eventually. Although he  didn’t know the reason, it had always been clear that Voldemort wanted him dead since he was only a year old. He had known that Voldemort would keep hunting after him until he succeeded. Or until he was killed himself.

“Does he know?”, Sirius asked. “Voldemort? Has Trelawney told him?”

“Sybill Trelawney did not have any recollection of the Prophecy.”, Dumbledore answered. “But I am afraid that there are ways to recover lost memories, ways Voldemort undoubtedly knows of. So yes, I am afraid he knows about the Prophecy.”

After a long silence Dumbledore spoke up again. “I realize that this is a lot to take in, Harry. Unfortunately I have not much time left and I still wanted to  talk to you about the coming school year.” Dumbledore paused until Harry had nodded and then he continued. “Now that Voldemort has returned and that you know about the Prophecy, I think it is time that I am personally more engaged in your education. I will be giving you private lessons next school year.”

“What will you teach me?”, Harry asked.

Dumbledore simply answered: “Everything I can, Harry.” He rose from his seat. “I’m afraid I need to leave now. I am sure I will see you soon”, he said to Harry. He walked over to the door, turned around and said: “I am sure you understand, Harry, that it would not be good if the contents of the Prophecy would be known by too many.”

Harry hesitated. “What about my friends?”

Dumbledore nodded and said: “I think that your friends, Mr Weasley and Mrs Granger are to be trusted. So is Miss Weasley”, he added with a small smile. “Actually, I would encourage you to tell them. They would want to know and I think you would be doing them a disservice by keeping them in the dark. Tell them when you are ready Harry, but know that you are not alone in this. Do not make the same mistakes that I did” And with a polite nod to Harry and Sirius, he left the room.

Harry looked over at his godfather with a puzzled look on his face at that last remark from his headmaster. Sirius merely shrugged, but then the worried look he had been wearing ever since they heard the Prophecy slid back over his face. He didn’t seem to know what he had to say to Harry, but Harry didn’t really mind. He didn’t want to hear he was sorry, he didn’t want to hear everything was going to be alright. Harry knew just as much as Sirius did that would all be empty words. No one could guarantee how the Prophecy would turn out. The only thing Harry was sure of, was that one day he would have to face his arch enemy. One day, he would have to face the man that still filled his nightmares, who took the lives of his parents and so many other innocent people.

I have to kill him. The realization hit Harry as he was thinking about the words he had heard about half an hour before. Harry knew that Voldemort was a monster. He had to be stopped and Voldemort wasn’t the average criminal who would let himself get caught. He knew the only way of stopping Voldemort was killing him, but now that he knew he had to be the one to do it, he doubted if he would be able to. Not only because Voldemort was so much stronger than him, but also because Harry didn’t think himself capable of killing someone, even if it was Voldemort. If I kill him, would I be any better than him? Wouldn’t I be just as much of a monster as he is?

*The words from the Prophecy are taken from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, chapter 37: The Lost Prophecy by J.K. Rowling.


Chapter 12: The Trial of Peter Pettigrew
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Chapter 12 The Trial of Peter Pettigrew


 Harry thought a lot about the contents of the Prophecy over the next few days. He felt many things when he thought about the words he heard in the Blacks’ living room. He was afraid, but it seemed like it was controllable fear. He now knew the truth, all the cards were on the table. He had to say goodbye to his illusions of a normal life, but he knew that it was for the best. Harry realized Dumbledore was right that Ron, Hermione and Ginny would want to know about the Prophecy, but he hadn’t be able to bare himself to tell them. He didn’t really know why. He knew his friends wouldn’t abandon him and would always want to stand beside him and help him. He just didn’t want to see the looks on their faces when they heard he would either be killed or become a murderer. Harry now knew what the members of the Order had meant when they told him what Voldemort was trying to do. He wanted to know the contents of the Prophecy, and now he did. He was still protected by his mother’s sacrifice, Harry knew. Voldemort wouldn’t be able to harm him, but how literally would he take the Prophecy? Either must die at the hand of the other. Voldemort would think he would have to kill Harry himself. He knew he was safe for the time being.

More urgent was the upcoming trial for Peter Pettigrew. He would have to appear before the Wizengamot for the crimes Sirius was sentenced with. Harry, Ron, Hermione and Remus Lupin were all called in as witnesses  for the prosecution. Sirius would be called in too, but officially, the Ministry still had no idea where he was.

When the day of the trial came, Harry and Ron got dressed more carefully than they usually did. When they arrived downstairs in the kitchen, Hermione was already there, looking slightly stressed. Ginny had gotten up early too to wish them luck. They would use the fireplace to Floo directly into the Ministry of Magic. Mr Weasley would accompany them on his way to work. When they were in the middle of breakfast, Sirius walked into the kitchen. He looked extremely pale and looked as if he had been up all night. Harry thought his godfather had to be the most nervous of all of them. Today’s trial would determine the rest of his life. If Pettigrew was found guilty, Sirius’ name would be cleared and he would finally be able to live as a free man.

When they were walking to the fireplace, Harry patted Sirius’ back and said: “Don’t worry, with the evidence they have, Pettigrew has to be convicted.”

Sirius merely nodded and managed to produce a small smile.

Harry grinned and said: “Well, see you later. We’re off to clear your name.” And without further ado he followed Ron into the fireplace to the Ministry.

“The trial is in Courtroom 5”, Mr Weasley said, after they registered at the reception. “I’ll walk you guys there.”

The group took an elevator and made their way downstairs. When they stopped the female voice that announced which level they were on merely said: “Department of Mysteries.” They walked down the hall and descended the stairs that led to the courtrooms.

When they arrived at Courtroom 5, Mr Weasley said: “Here we are. Good luck, all of you. Don’t forget to stop by my office before you go back.”

Harry, Ron, Hermione and Lupin walked into the courtroom and saw the entire Wizengamot was already present, as was Peter Pettigrew, who sat on a chair in the middle of the room, bound in chains. Albus Dumbledore was one of the three people on the front bench and when Harry saw him he became more relaxed. Dumbledore’s presence worked as a reassurance. If Dumbledore was here, it couldn’t go wrong.

While Harry and his friends were waiting for the trial to begin, he noticed that the opposite side of the stands was occupied by a delegation from the press. He recognized Rita Skeeter, who was looking extremely eager with parchment and quill ready before her. He nudged Hermione and nodded in her direction. Hermione’s eyes narrowed as she recognized Skeeter. She probably also hadn’t forgotten about the article she had written about Harry before the first task of the Triwizard Tournament.

The wizard next to him, in the middle of the front bench had stood up and Harry recognized him as the new Minister of Magic. On his right side was a witch Harry had never seen before.

“Trial against Peter Pettigrew for Death Eater activities and murder. Interrogators: Rufus Oberon Scrimgeour, Minster for Magic. Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore, Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot. And Amelia Susan Bones, Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement.” Scrimgeour paused and took a parchment of the pile that lay in front of him. “The charges are as followed: the murder of twelve muggles on November 2, 1981 and passing information to He Who Must Not Be Named during the first wizarding war, most significantly the whereabouts of Lily and James Potter. How do you plead?”

Pettigrew shifted uncomfortably onto his chair, but the chains prevented him from moving too much. “Not guilty”, he said.

Lupin made an unbelieving noise beside Harry. “I can’t believe he’ll still try to weasel his way out of this”, he said. “The Aurors have taken precautions so he can’t turn into his animal form, so he must know the Ministry knows he’s an Animagus.”

Scrimgeour looked at Pettigrew with raised eyebrows. “Very well”, he said. “I believe it is time for our first witness.” He bent his head to Dumbledore for a moment and nodded. “The witnesses will be interrogated by Albus Dumbledore, on his own request”, he informed the members of the Wizengamot.

Dumbledore stood and said with a loud, clear voice: “The Wizengamot calls to the stand: Remus John Lupin.”

Lupin stood and descended the stands. He received a seat between the court and the accused with his back to the press, so he would have both the Wizengamot and Pettigrew in sight.

Dumbledore walked towards him. “You were in the same group of friends during your time at Hogwarts as Mr Pettigrew?”

“I was.”

“And so were James Potter – one of the supposed victims of Pettigrew and father of Harry Potter – and Sirius Black, who was convicted of the crimes Pettigrew faces trial for today?”

“They were”, Lupin answered.

Dumbledore continued to interrogate him and Lupin told the Wizengamot everything about the school time of the Marauders. How his friends had found out that he was a werewolf. How they decided to become Animagi to help make his transformations tolerable and how he had lost everything the night Harry’s parents were killed.

Next, Harry, Ron and Hermione were called together. Dumbledore smiled reassuringly at them. “Mr Potter, Mr Weasley, Miss Granger, can you please tell us what happened when you first met Sirius Black and Peter Pettigrew, in human form, that is.”

Harry, Ron and Hermione told everything that happened from the moment Sirius dragged Ron into the passageway under the Whomping Willow up to when the Dementors tried to kiss Harry, Hermione and Sirius by the lake. They knew that didn’t explain the fact that Sirius had managed to escape that night, but fortunately no one elaborated on that. Apparently, nobody thought that two thirteen year old kids would be able to defy the Ministry of Magic.

“So Peter Pettigrew confessed that night that he was the one who led Voldemort to Lily and James Potter and he was the one who killed all those Muggles?”, Dumbledore asked. The three of them merely nodded. Dumbledore looked at the court. “I think we have made our case. Three people have testified the confession of Peter Pettigrew and their story has been confirmed by Remus Lupin. It is clear that these people have absolutely no reason to lie about the facts that have occurred that night.”

Scrimgeour looked at Dumbledore and said: “I do believe that Pettigrew has committed this crimes, Albus. But he pleads not guilty. We will have to come up with absolute proof.”

Dumbledore nodded. He turned to Pettigrew and said: “Mr Pettigrew, would you care to roll up your left sleeve and show your arm to the Wizengamot?”

Pettigrew paled. “What? That is totally unnecessary!”

Scrimgeour looked irritated. “Mr Pettigrew, please roll up your left sleeve.”

Pettigrew scowled and slowly rolled up his left sleeve and exposed his left fore-arm to the whole room. There, clearly visible, the Dark Mark was branded. Scrimgeour stared at him with a look of absolute disgust on his face. “Well, look at that”, he said. “Not only working for He Who Must Not Be Named, but apparently even part of his inner circle.” There were a lot of murmurs among the members of the Wizengamot and the press until Scrimgeour called for order. “The case has been made and it is time for the Wizengamot to form a verdict. Those in favour of conviction?”

Harry looked at the members of the Wizengamot and he was pleased to see that almost the entire body had their hands in the air. Scrimgeour merely nodded as if he hadn’t expected anything else and said: “As Minister for Magic, I pronounce the punishment of life-long imprisonment in Azkaban, for various murders and Death Eater activities during the first wizarding war. Those in favour?”

This time about three quarters of the members of the Wizengamot raised their hands and Scrimgeour turned to Pettigrew. “You will be brought to Azkaban immediately. Your wand has been confiscated when you were arrested and will be snapped in two.”

Dumbledore cleared his trout loudly to attract the attention of the court. “The matter of Sirius Black?”

“Oh yes”, Scrimgeour said. “That was clearly a big mistake of the Ministry. His name will naturally be cleared and when he hears the news he merely has to stop by the Ministry to arrange his affairs and he will certainly receive a full pardon. He will however be held liable for being an unregistered Animagus”

He looked at Dumbledore meaningfully and Harry realized Scrimgeour knew that Sirius wasn’t as far away as most of the people thought. He didn’t know if Dumbledore had trusted Scrimgeour with the information or if he had guessed it himself, but he knew the new Minister of Magic wasn’t a fool like the last one was. If that was a good thing or not, would have to point out itself.

Harry suddenly received a blow on the back of his head and he realized he was still staring at Scrimgeour. He looked to his right and saw Ron grinning broadly at him.

“Don’t hit him, Ronald!”, Hermione said disapprovingly.

Harry suddenly realized what the outcome of the trial really meant. “He’s free”, he muttered. He couldn’t believe it. Sirius would be a free man again. Of course he had been out of Azkaban for two years now, but he had always been on the run. He wasn’t able to lead a normal life as he had to hide from the Dementors. But now that Pettigrew was finally convicted for his crimes, Sirius was a free man. He would be able to live a normal life again and Harry would be able to move in with him. Sirius had proposed it to him when they had first met, but then Pettigrew had escaped and he had been forced to flee. Now there was nothing that would stand in his way to move in with his godfather, his father’s best friend. Harry felt a wonderful warm feeling wave over him.

But suddenly he realized that it wasn’t at all that sure if he would be able to move in with Sirius. He knew that Dumbledore would have to give his permission. He looked at Dumbledore who was talking to Scrimgeour and Madam Bones. Ron and Hermione were walking back to Lupin, but Harry walked towards Dumbledore. Not held back by the fact he would be interrupting a conversation between three of the most important members of wizarding society, he bluntly tapped Dumbledore’s shoulder. “Can I talk to you, sir?” Scrimgeour gave him a disapproving look, but madam Bones gave him a friendly smile. Dumbledore walked with Harry until they were out of earshot.

“What can I do for you, Harry?”, Dumbledore asked politely.

“I was wondering, sir. Sirius’ name will be cleared now, right?” Dumbledore nodded. “Well, I was thinking.. Will I be allowed to move in with him, now?”

Dumbledore looked at him rather surprised. “Of course, why would you not be? He is your godfather and your legal guardian, Harry. Your parents had arranged it so that if something happened to them, he would be the one to take care of you. But if you want to make other arrangements, I’m sure Sirius will – “

“No!”, Harry shouted, causing several heads to turn their way. “I mean, no”, he continued more silently. “I want to move in with him. I just thought you might think I would be safer at the Dursleys..”

Dumbledore smiled. “Yes, Harry. Whenever you stayed at your aunt and uncle’s house you were perfectly safe. But that was only because your mother’s blood lived there. The combination of her sacrifice and my protective enchantments made sure that no one could harm you as long as you could call it your home. But now that Sirius’ name has been cleared and you would in theory be able to live with him, I very much doubt that you would still call Privet Drive your home. Grimmauld Place does not have the protection of your mother’s blood, Harry, but the house is very well protected. Plus we have produced the Fidelius Charm when we chose it as the Order’s headquarters so I do not think it would be less safe than your aunt and uncle’s house.”

Harry didn’t think he had ever felt this happy before. He would be living with his godfather, the best friend of his parents. He would never have to go back to the Dursleys.

After stopping by Mr Weasley’s office to tell him the outcome of the trial, the group Flood back to Grimmauld Place. Harry grinned when he looked around the gloomy kitchen. It wasn’t the most cheerful place, but they would make it a home. Sirius was sitting at the wooden table with his cousin, Nymphadora Tonks. When they appeared in the kitchen he stood up immediately with an anxious look on his face. When he saw Harry beaming at him, his heart leapt. “Did he - ?”

“You’re free”, Harry said. Sirius pulled his godson in a tight embrace. “Well, I’m moving in”, Harry grinned. “You’re stuck with me now.”

Sirius grinned broadly. “I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

The next day Sirius went to the Ministry of Magic to turn himself in for questioning. It had not even been two hours when he was already back at Grimmauld Place, his name cleared. Now a free man, Sirius finally had his life back.

“The truth is never pure and rarely simple.” – Oscar Wilde


Chapter 13: Happy Birthday
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Chapter 13: Happy Birthday

The happiness Harry felt after clearing Sirius' name lasted several days, but then his mind went back to the Prophecy. He knew he couldn't postpone telling his friends any longer. Three days before Harry's sixteenth birthday, he found himself alone with Ron, Hermione and Ginny in his and Ron's bedroom and decided that a better opportunity would not occur.

"I er –", Harry stammered. "I have to tell you guys something." The tone of his voice clearly showed that it was something serious and he immediately had their attention. "Dumbledore told me Trelawney made a Prophecy about me and Voldemort." He hesitated. Ron and Ginny were looking at him bewildered, but Hermione had an anxious look on her face. "Apparently, I'm the only one who is able to kill him. According to the Prophecy, one of us will eventually have to kill the other."

Ron and Ginny were staring at him with their mouths open. Hermione seemed less surprised. Harry wondered if she had suspected to hear something like that sooner or later. She was looking at Harry sympathetically.

"But", Ron finally said. "It can't be real right? Prophecies are balderdash. Look at Trelawney. She's a total fraud."

Hermione shifted uncomfortably and said: "Prophecies do exist, Ron. Trelawney may be a fraud , but she did made a real Prophecy once, didn't she? Remember when Pettigrew escaped?"

Ginny was looking at Harry tearfully. "Oh Harry. Are you – " She hesitated. "Are you scared?"

"I am", he answered. "I think I'd be a fool not to be. But I've thought about it quite a bit and it's like I always knew it would have to end like that. I mean, he has been after me since I was only a year old. He must've had a reason for that."

"Well", Hermione said. "We will have to train defending ourselves!"

"We?", Harry asked.

"Of course we!", Ginny said firmly.

"We're your best friends and your girlfriend, mate", Ron said. "If You-Know-Who is after you, we're going to have to be able to defend ourselves, aren't we? How are we going to help you otherwise?"

"Help – ", Harry stammered. "Help me?"

"Harry, you don't think we are going to let you face him alone, are you?", Ginny asked with a determined expression on her face. "Don't even think about being the noble prat you are and pull away from us."

Their determination to help him and fight with him meant the world to Harry, but he still felt he had to protest. "But we're talking about Voldemort. You don't know what he's capable of. He will use you to get to me, that's how he is. If you didn't care about me – "

"Well, it's too late for that, isn't it", Ginny interrupted.

"But – "

"Drop it", Ron adviced.

"You need us, Harry", Hermione said with a definitive tone. Harry realized she considered the discussion closed. They talked about the Prophecy and Voldemort and his Death Eaters until Mrs Weasley called them down for lunch.

 

The next few days passed quickly seeing how busy Mrs Weasley and Sirius kept them all. Grimmauld Place had been uninhabited for many years and the decay of the house was clearly visible. Harry, Hermione and the Weasleys helped to make the place liveable again. Sirius hadn't been too thrilled with her plans first, but now that his name had been cleared and he would be living here with Harry, he became much more enthusiastic. He asked Harry what he wanted to do for his birthday. Harry quickly told him that he didn't want any racket.

"Happy Birthday, mate!", Ron grinned when Harry awoke on the morning of July 31st. "You'll get your present tonight."

When they arrived in the kitchen, Harry was met by the entire Weasley family plus Hermione, Sirius and Lupin, wishing him a happy birthday. After they all finished breakfast, Harry, Ginny, Ron, Hermione and Fred and George went into the backyard of Grimmauld Place to play some three on three Quidditch. Harry, Ginny and Fred played against Ron, Hermione and George.

After lunch they all left for Diagon Alley. Their book lists had arrived a few days before and they planned to get all of their school supplies today. Fred and George had been a little disappointed none of them had been appointed captain of the Gryffindor Quidditch team. "It's bound to be Angelina", George said. "She has been on the team just as long as us and McGonagall is fond of her."

They used the Floo Network to travel to the Leaky Cauldron. After they had purchased all of their school supplies, Fred and George dragged them to Gambol and Japes. Harry watched the twins looking interestedly at all the joke products. "Are you still serious about beginning your own joke shop?"

"Yeah", Fred said. "We have been saving as much as we can but, well." He looked a bit ashamed. "Materials are expensive, and then we don't even have premises yet."

"But we're planning on using our last year at Hogwarts productively", George continued. "We don't really need NEWT's, so we'll have a lot of free time to do market research."

"And we will sell as much of our products to the students as we can. We'll see where it gets us", Fred said, but Harry noticed he didn't look very convinced.

"You're not by any chance looking for an investor?", Harry grinned.

Fred and George looked at him startled. "Are you serious?"

"Yeah sure", Harry said. "I have money and what better use for it than help Weasley's Wizard Wheezes to get off the ground? I'll help you to pay for premises and chip in where else you need it. Just do me one favour, finish your seventh year at Hogwarts. Your mom would kill me if she knew I pushed you out of school early."

Fred and George didn't seem too convinced. "Harry, we can't accept that." George said.

"Well, you'll have to."

"Alright", Fred said. "But we're paying you back as soon as we can."

"Every last Knut", George added.

"Whatever you say." Harry laughed. "So, I guess I am going to be an official partner in Weasley's Wizard Wheezes."

"You sure are." And Fred and George stepped forward and pulled Harry into a big sandwich hug. "We will never forget this, Harry."

"What are you so happy about?", Ron asked suspiciously as he walked from behind a shelf with nose-biting teacups.

Fred and George looked at Harry quickly who gave them a warning glance. "Nothing", George said. "Let's go, Sirius will have dinner ready soon."

They used the Floo Network in the Leaky Cauldron again and Harry was the last one to Floo back to Grimmauld Place. When he appeared into the kitchen his heart seemed to stop for a second.

"Surprise!"

The kitchen was packed with people. Harry was met by several members of the Order of the Phoenix and his classmates from Hogwarts and the members of his Quidditch team. Even Oliver Wood, who had graduated a year earlier was present.

They all sat down for dinner, that once hadn't been prepared by Mrs Weasley, but by Sirius, who was wearing a chef's cap and an apron with 'Kiss the Chef' on it. It seemed he had a wide interpretation of the phrase 'not wanting any racket'. Harry knew his godfather wanted to make sure that his first birthday in his new home was the best birthday he ever had.

After dinner, Ginny decided it was time for Harry to open his presents. Harry made his way to the giant pile that was placed on a smaller table away from the dining table. Among other things, he received a series of books on Defence Against the Dark Arts from Hermione and Ron, a bag of joke products from Fred and George, a weird brown plant from Neville and a dream catcher from Luna. When he opened Dumbledore's present, Harry gasped involuntarily. It was a Pensieve.

"I thought that might come in handy some time", Dumbledore smiled.

All the irritations Harry had felt for his headmaster about not telling him about the Prophecy vanished when he looked into his blue eyes that were twinkling cheerfully. He walked over to Dumbledore and embraced him. "Thank you", he whispered.

"You're very welcome, Harry", he answered.

Harry's classmates were watching the very friendly behaviour between Harry and their headmaster a bit surprised, but then Ginny stood up and said: "Time for my present! I'll go get it." And she ran into the hallway.

Harry looked after her a bit puzzled. Then Ginny re-entered holding a cute hazel coloured puppy with a scarlet and gold bow around his neck.

"You got me a dog?", Harry asked unbelievingly. He took the Labrador from her and started petting it.

"For your new house", Ginny beamed. "A house is not a home without a dog, isn't it?" She glanced over at her mother. She had been nagging her for a dog for nearly ten years but she never gave in. She had even nearly forbidden her from buying Harry one, but Sirius had said it was okay. "Do you like it?", she asked anxiously.

"I love it", Harry grinned broadly. He didn't want to kiss her in front of her parents but gave her a tight hug. "Thank you", he whispered in her ear.

"You can do better than that, Harry!", Seamus yelled. "Why don't you – Ow!" Hermione had slapped him on the back of his head. "What was that for?"

"Keep your big mouth shut", she hissed and she glanced over at Mr and Mrs Weasley who were looking at Seamus and Hermione, not understanding what was going on.

Sirius seemed to notice the danger and quickly said: "So what are you going to name him, Harry?"

Harry looked at the dog who was licking his hand as he petted him and said: "What about Prongs?"

Sirius smiled widely. "It's perfect."

Harry saw Fred and George looking at him with raised eyebrows and he suddenly realized he had never told the twins that he had found out the true identity of the Marauders. Sirius walked over to him and whispered: "I'll give you my present when the guests have left. I think it's better if you open it without too many spectators." Harry looked at him interrogatively, but Sirius merely winked and walked over to Remus and Tonks.

After a couple of Butterbeers and a tantrum from Mrs Weasley when she caught Fred and George drinking Firewhiskey with Mundungus in a corner of the kitchen, the party came to a close. When the guests had left, most of the inhabitants of the house started to spread out too. Soon, only Harry, Ginny, Ron, Hermione and Sirius were left in the kitchen. "So Harry", Sirius said. "Are you ready to open your present?" Harry nodded.

Sirius opened the door of the cupboard in the corner and pulled out a big rectangular package packed in brown paper. "This has been left to me by your parents", he said. "It was blocked and kept by the Ministry of Magic when I was arrested of course." He frowned and shrugged. "But after my name was cleared it was transferred to my vault at Gringotts. I didn't even know it existed until I discovered it, but well, just open it."

Harry carefully unwrapped the package and gasped when he removed the brown wrapping paper. It was a portrait, similar to the ones in Dumbledore's office at Hogwarts. But on this portrait wasn't the image of previous Hogwarts headmasters, but of Lily and James Potter, Harry's parents.

"He he, finally", James said. "We finally get out to see something different than the inside of some storage unit at the Ministry or your Gringotts vault and you wrap us up!" He looked at Sirius accusingly.

"James", Lily scoffed. "I'm sure he had his reasons. You are so – " She stopped talking abruptly when she saw Harry. Her eyes glided over his face. "Harry?"

Harry nodded, tears rolling down his face. James was staring at Harry now too. "Sirius told us everything about you", he said silently. "Everything you've done."

"We are so proud of you", Lily whispered.

Harry was feeling much like when he had seen his parents in the Mirror of Erised. Although now they were able to talk to each other, they still weren't really his parents. But it was the closest he would ever get. "I am so sorry", he said, tears still running down his cheeks. "I'm so sorry that you died because of me."

"Don't be silly, dear", Lily said. "If we gave our life for you, we haven't died in vain."

James nodded. "We would do it again if we could Harry", he said.

Harry looked at his friends. Sirius was looking at him with a compassionate expression. Hermione and Ginny had tears in their eyes too and Ron was looking very pale and uncharacteristically quiet. "Mom, Dad", he said. "This is my girlfriend, Ginny Weasley."

Ginny smiled feebly and said: "It's nice to meet you."

"And these are my best friends, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger."

Lily smiled while James said: "You are Arthur and Molly's children! I still remember when you were born", he said to Ron. "A few months before Harry, right?"

Ron nodded and said: "Did you... do you know our parents?"

James nodded, but it was Lily that answered: "Oh yes. Great people. Arthur has helped us out of quite some sticky spots during the war. They weren't fully-fledged members of the Order of the Phoenix of course, having such a big family, and you were still all so young then. But they did play their role in the fight against Voldemort."

"And I see Molly got her wish and finally got her baby girl", James added. He looked at Harry meaningfully. "I'm sure you're not sorry about that!"

"Don't tease him, James", Lily scolded.

Harry laughed for the first time since he had seen the portrait. He was extremely grateful that Sirius had given it to him. When Ginny, Hermione and Ron had gone to bed, Harry and Sirius stayed in the kitchen talking with Lily and James. When Harry finally went to bed, it was already three in the morning.

"I will not say, do not weep, for not all tears are an evil." – J.R.R. Tolkien


Chapter 14: Coming Home
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Chapter 14: Coming Home


 The summer before his fifth year at Hogwarts was by far the busiest summer of Harry’s life. He didn’t mind that much, because he finally had a home that he could really call his home. The only problem was that he hadn’t had much time to spend alone with Ginny. He knew he and Ginny weren’t that kind of couple that needed to spend every minute of every day together, but still he felt like he had been neglecting her again.

Hermione had left after Harry’s birthday to spend the rest of the holidays with her parents. The final day of the holidays, Ron had left for Diagon Alley with Fred and George. Harry had transferred a considerable amount of gold from his vault in Gringotts to the private vault the twins had received when they turned seventeen. It was more than enough to afford a vacant building in Diagon Alley, so the twins had decided to buy Ron a new broom and had taken him to choose one. Harry decided to go look for Ginny. He looked in her room, the kitchen and the backyard but didn’t find her. Trying one of the only options left he walked into the living room and found his girlfriend curled up on the couch, watching the portrait of his parents they had hung above the mantelpiece. Harry saw that his parents were peacefully sleeping in their frame.

“Ginny?”, he asked carefully. “You okay?”

Ginny smiled when she looked at him. “Yeah”, she answered. “I like it here. I often find myself watching their portrait.” She looked at Lily and James. “It makes me wonder how it could have been, you know?”

Harry nodded. He had frequently had those same thoughts. How it would have been if his parents had been alive and he could introduce Ginny to them as his girlfriend in person, instead of to a portrait. He walked over to the couch and snuggled close to Ginny. “I missed you”, he murmured.

“I haven’t gone anywhere”, Ginny laughed.

Harry smiled shyly. “Yeah, but we haven’t had much time alone since I got here”, he said. “With everything that’s been going on.”

Ginny smiled and pulled her boyfriend closer. “We’re alone now she whispered.” She pulled Harry’s face towards her and kissed him. She slowly parted her lips, allowing Harry to deepen the kiss. She sank down into the couch while they continued to kiss passionately. And that moment, she knew that she loved Harry. She knew everyone would say that she was too young to have such feelings, but as they lay together in each other’s embrace on that couch in the Black’s living room, she knew that she never wanted to be with anyone else than the one who was with her now.

The door opened and Mrs Weasley walked in. “Ginny dear, do you have – “ She stopped talking abruptly when she saw what was happening in front of her.

Harry jumped up immediately, looking extremely guilty. “Mrs Weasley!”, he said, panicking. “I, I didn’t, I mean – “

Mrs Weasley stood frozen for a few seconds and then said. “Well, maybe it’s for the best. I don’t think you would have told me any time soon anyway.”

Ginny looked at her mom flabbergasted. “Did you know?”

“Oh Ginny”, Mrs Weasley sighed. “Do you think I don’t know my own children? You may have your dad fooled, but certainly not me.”

“So”, Ginny stammered. “So dad doesn’t know?”

“Oh god no”, Mrs Weasley smiled. “He’s just as oblivious as Ron is when it comes to romance.”

“I’m sorry, Mrs Weasley”, Harry said. “You should know that I, that I won’t – “

“Oh Harry, don’t worry about it”, Mrs Weasley said. “We know you and we know you won’t do anything to hurt Ginny. But I do think you would do good to exercise some discretion.” She gave them a slight smirk and she left, muttering something under her breath about ‘snogging in the middle of the living room’.

“Snogging in the middle of the living room?”, Ginny mimicked in a huff. “We barely touched each other all summer!”

Harry groaned. “We should have told her before she caught us, even if she already knew.”

He was interrupted by a loud laugh. He turned around and saw that his father was doubling up with laughter in his frame. “You should’ve seen your face! I thought you were going to run for it.” Even Lily couldn’t suppress a grin.

Although they knew Mrs Weasley wouldn’t say anything about what she walked in on to her husband, Harry and Ginny decided that they would tell Mr Weasley that they were going out that night. They had been dating for about six months and they felt bad to keep him in the dark, though Harry was still anxious about how the Weasley patriarch would react. After all he was dating his only daughter.

At dinner, Ginny finally managed to interrupt Ron’s continuous bragging about his brand new Cleansweep 11 and told her father about her relationship with Harry. Mr Weasley seemed shocked at first, but quickly told them he was happy for them. Then he turned to the rest of his family who were all wearing smug smiles. “And of course all of you already knew of this?”, but he was smiling. Sirius couldn’t suppress a snort of laughter when he saw his godson letting out a breath of relief.

 

Their departure for King’s Cross Station, the next morning passed by in the usual Weasley chaos. Fred and George were working just as much on Mrs Weasley’s nerves by apparating around the house as Ron, who had again put off packing until the very last moment.

When they took off for the station, that was within walking distance of Grimmauld Place, Sirius said: “You have no idea how good this feels.”

The others looked at him puzzled. “What do you mean?”, Fred asked.

“Walking around without being forced to hide. Finally.” He turned to Harry and put an arm around his shoulder. “You’re already a fifth year and it’s the first time I’m able to see my godson off to school!”

Harry grinned. “Getting sentimental now, are we?” But he was enjoying it just as much as his godfather was.

When they had passed the barrier to Platform Nine and Three-Quarters, it became clear however that Sirius was still a figure that stood out in the wizarding world. Especially the older people who came to send their children off to school were staring at him. Sirius looked agitated.

“Don’t worry”, Harry told him. “They’re staring at me. It may not have been so when you were younger, but I am extremely famous, you know.” Sirius laughed out loud.

The Weasleys, Harry and Sirius were soon joined by Hermione, who had just said goodbye to her parents and was dragging her trunk and Crookshanks’ basket with her. After saying goodbye to the elder Weasleys and Sirius they finally boarded the Hogwarts Express. Though Harry finally had a real home with his godfather, he was still very excited to go back to school. Hogwarts had been his first home and his escape from the Dursleys.

The twins left to find Lee Jordan and Harry, Ginny, Ron and Hermione went to find an empty compartment together. There, they were joined by Neville Longbottom and Luna Lovegood. Despite the fact they went to the Yule Ball together the previous year, Neville and Luna apparently decided to just stay friends. Luna never really had any friends before she met Neville, due to the fact that she was a bit odd to say at least. Despite that, she was very loveable in her own way and she had been accepted into the group of friends.

After everyone had stored their luggage, Hermione and Neville left for their first Prefect meeting. No one had been surprised when Hermione had received her badge, but the fact that Neville had been named Prefect had been quite a surprise. Neville was extremely proud though, and everyone had been happy for him.

The lunch trolley had already stopped by and the others were in the middle of their fifth game of Exploding Snap, when the Gryffindor Prefects finally returned. Neville seemed really anxious and Hermione simply livid.

“I can’t believe Dumbledore made that ferret a Prefect!”

“Malfoy’s a Prefect?, Harry said in a sharp voice. “That git!”

“What’s Dumbledore playing at?”, Ron asked. “He knows who Malfoy is. His father has probably joined You-Know-Who again by now!”

Neville shrugged and Hermione said: “I know. Don’t let him provoke you too much this year. He could make life really hard for you.” She was looking at Harry and Ron sternly.

“Who are the other Prefects?”, Harry asked.

“That pug Pansy Parkinson is the other one from Slytherin”, Hermione said with a disgusted expression on her face. “Padma Patil and Terry Boot for Ravenclaw and Hannah Abbot and Zacharias Smith for Hufflepuff.”

“Zacharias Smith?”, Ginny asked sharply.

“Yes. You know him?”

Ginny shrugged. “He asked me to the ball last year, but I turned him down. He got really… persistent though. Quite annoying.”

“He asked you to the ball?”, Ron asked raising an eyebrow. “After Harry asked you, you mean?”

“No, before.”

“Then why did you turn him down? You wouldn’t have been able to go if someone older didn’t ask you.”

“Because he’s disgusting!”, Ginny said, annoyed by the fact her brother would even consider her going on a date with Smith. “He’s a git. And besides, I was still waiting for a miracle.” She looked at Harry meaningfully when she said that. Harry merely smiled in amusement. He couldn’t believe he had been so blind to think Ginny had been over her feelings for him.

The train pulled to a stop in Hogsmeade station and they all made their way out on the platform. There, they were greeted by the usual ‘first years this way’ from Hagrid. They grinned and walked through the rain towards their tallest friend.

“Hagrid!”

“Hey, you lot. Had good holidays, yeah? Hurry up before you all drown!”, as it was raining cats and dogs.

They were all grateful when they entered the Great Hall. Luna murmured a vague goodbye and strolled to the Ravenclaw table.

When everyone was seated, the doors opened again and Professor McGonagall walked in with the Sorting Hat, followed by a long row of terrified first-years. The Sorting passed quickly without anything extraordinary until Professor McGonagall reached the M’s.

“Jacinta Malfoy!”

A small sweet looking girl with sleek blonde hair walked to the stool. She looked nervous but held her head straight up when she put the Sorting Hat on her head.

“Malfoy?”, Ron muttered. “You don’t think –?” He looked over at Harry.

It was Hermione who answered: “Must be. I never heard of any other relatives of them. As far as I know, Lucius was the only heir of the Malfoy family.”

“You do know everything”, Ron said.

Harry looked at the little girl. He had never known Malfoy had a little sister. On the other hand, Malfoy was not the kind of person to talk about his personal life with him. But somehow Harry had always pictured Malfoy as an only child.

The Sorting Hat seemed to find Jacinta extremely difficult to sort, because the Hat took several minutes of consideration until it finally called out: “Gryffindor!”

“Well, would you look at that”, Ron mumbled.

Jacinta seemed relieved at first, but when she sat down at the Gryffindor table, Harry saw her expression had changed to anxious. He followed her glance and saw Malfoy who was looking at her with an expression of disgust on his face.

When the Sorting was over, Harry looked over the staff table for the first time. He was curious who their new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher would be. The only professor he didn’t recognize was a pretty young witch with long auburn hair that was seated next to Hagrid. They seemed to know each other quite well as they were talking animatedly. Then, Dumbledore rose from his seat and spoke: “After two months apart, we have many things to say to each other, but this is not the time. Tuck in!”

“Who would’ve thought Malfoy’s sister would be a Gryffindor?”, Ron smirked. “Maybe there’s hope for that rotten family after all.”

“We don’t even know for sure she’s his sister, Ron”, Ginny said with raised eyebrows.

“Well, there’s only one way to find out, isn’t there?”, Ron retorded. “Oi Jacinta! Are you Draco Malfoy’s sister?”

Jacinta nodded, looking frightened by the fact she was addressed by a fifth year student, while Hermione whacked Ron on the back of the head.

“Honestly Ronald, don’t you have one tactful bone in that stretched out body of yours?”

Harry, Ginny and the rest of the Gryffindor fifth years were roaring with laughter when they saw the look on Ron’s face.

When the feast had ended, Dumbledore raised from the staff table again.

“Welcome all, for another year of learning at Hogwarts. First of all, I want to introduce all of you to our new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher: Professor Nymphadora Tonks.”

The witch that had been sitting next to Hagrid stood and bowed to the students. Harry, Ginny, Ron and Hermione were staring at each other in surprise for a moment, before they joined the applause. Tonks gave a slight wink in their direction when she sat down again.

“Why didn’t she tell us?”, Ron frowned. “She has – “ He stopped talking when Dumbledore started talking again and Hermione nudged him.

“On a different note, you have undoubtedly all heard the news that the wizard who calls himself Lord Voldemort has returned to this country and is at large again. I do not want to alarm you or frighten you, but the seriousness of the situation our world is currently in cannot be stressed enough and I want to impress caution on all of you. Voldemort is an extremely powerful dark wizard whose viciousness knows no match today. He will not show mercy and will not make any difference between age, origins or heritage.” He glanced over at the Slytherin table when he said this last word. “Let it be very clear”, he continued, “that there will be no place at Hogwarts for violence of any kind. Nor will there be a place for discrimination against anyone because of blood-status. You can be sure that punishment in case of such violations will be very severe.”

Many students were glancing at each other uncomfortably at Dumbledore’s speech. They weren’t used to so much seriousness and severity from their headmaster.

Dumbledore looked around the room again and said: “The Houses at Hogwarts are meant to gather people of the same nature together. They are not meant to divide people. Though we have inter-house championships like the House Cup and the Quidditch Cup, unity between the four houses has always been of great importance to this school. In light of recent events, we can be sure that it has never been of greater importance than today. That’s something to think about. No off to bed. Good night.”

“Now we have to make friends with the Slytherins. He’s not asking too much from us now, is he?”, Ron said sarcastically when they joined Hermione and Neville in leading the first years to the Gryffindor Common Room.

“Oh Ron”, Hermione sighed. “I think it wouldn’t hurt if the houses were a bit more united. I mean, can one of us honestly say we have friends from other houses?”

“There’s Luna”, Harry pointed out.

“Yeah, but she’s the only one we sometimes hang out with that isn’t a Gryffindor”, Ginny said. “I think Hermione’s right. We don’t even know most of them.”

“Yeah, let’s have lunch with Malfoy tomorrow”, Ron said. “With a bit of luck we won’t have ripped each other’s throats by the end of the meal.”

“Ron!”, Hermione snapped.

Ron looked up and saw a terrified Jacinta Malfoy staring at him. Ron had the decency to look slightly guilty. “Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t – “, he muttered.

“Don’t worry about it, he was just joking”, Neville told her and she gave him a small smile.

“This way”, Hermione told the first years as they rounded the corner of the Fat Lady’s corridor.

“Fawkes”, Neville said rather proudly and the Fat Lady swung open to allow them access to the Gryffindor common room.

“You remembered”, Harry stated. He had to admit he was quite impressed. During the previous four years he didn’t recall Neville remembering any of the passwords.

“I’m a Prefect now”, he answered. “I have to set an example." Ron frowned when Hermione looked at Neville proudly.

Hermione and Neville showed the first years to their dormitories before they joined the rest of the fifth years and Ginny, who had gathered by the fire to catch up with each other. They talked about their summer holidays, about who would be the new Gryffindor keeper as Oliver Wood had graduated the year before last and about their new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher. Ron was still insulted Tonks hadn’t said anything to them.

After about an hour, Harry and Ginny were the only ones left. They snuggled up on the couch in front of the fire and Ginny rested her head on Harry’s chest.

“It’s great to be back”, Ginny mumbled, sleep getting the better of her.

“It is”, Harry responded. And contented, they fell asleep in each other’s arms.


Chapter 15: Professor Tonks
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Chapter 15: Professor Tonks


When Harry woke up the next day, he couldn’t help but smile when he looked at Ginny, who was still asleep in his arms with a peaceful look on her face. He looked at her for a few minutes until she too slowly started moving and opened her eyes. She noticed Harry looking at her and smiled.

“I could get used to this.”

Harry laughed. “Me too. But I’ll pay for it when Ron finds out I didn’t come upstairs last night.”

As he said that, the door that led to the girls dormitories opened and Hermione entered the common room, fully clothed with her Prefect badge pinned on the front of her robes.

She looked at the couple surprised. “Are you already up?” When they didn’t reply, she observed their wrinkled robes and sighed. “You didn’t go upstairs at all last night, did you?” Ginny gave her a guilty smile. “You know that’s not allowed! I’m a Prefect now, you can’t keep going around breaking all the rules and expect me to do nothing about it.”

Harry grinned at her. “You’re not going to give us a detention on our first day back, are you now Hermione?”

She glared at him. “Now, get upstairs and get dressed. You can’t be late for class on your first day.” She walked towards the portrait hole. Before she left the common room, she turned around and said: “You didn’t.. You know?”

“No!”, Ginny said outraged. “What do you take us for?”

“Well I just wanted to make sure. You know how Ron will take this”, she said to Harry. “You better hope he didn’t notice anything.”

Harry and Ginny went to their respective dormitories to change clothes. When Harry entered the room of the fifth year boys, he saw that Ron was still snoring loudly. Neville was the only one who was already awake. He had already put on his school robes and was carefully pinning his Prefect badge on his chest when Harry walked in.

“Where were you last night?”, Neville asked. Harry put a finger on his lips and pointed to Ron. Neville nodded understandingly.

When Ron finally woke up it became clear that he was oblivious of the fact Harry hadn’t slept in his bed that night. Harry had closed the drapes of his four-poster so Ron wouldn’t notice his bed had not been slept in. Then he dragged his best friend along to go have breakfast with him and Ginny.

They sat down at the Gryffindor table, next to Fred and George and Lee Jordan. After peering down the table they noticed Hermione wasn’t there. They didn’t have time to wonder too much about it as they were joined by a tall, black seventh year girl.

“At your service, Captain!”, Fred said.

“Oh shut it”, Angelina sighed.

Harry smiled at her. “Congratulations.”

“Thanks”, she said gracefully, giving Fred a dirty look. “I’m thinking of holding the selections Friday afternoon, after classes. We’ll need a new Keeper. It won’t be easy to find someone as good as Oliver though.”

Harry nodded. Oliver Wood had been their Captain and Keeper for the first three years Harry had been part of the team. He had been obsessed with Quidditch, almost maniacal, but he had been an excellent Keeper. Harry knew Oliver was now playing in the second team of Pullover United, hoping to make it as a professional Quidditch player.

Towards the end of breakfast, Hermione finally showed up in the Great Hall.

“Where on earth have you been?”, Ginny asked.

“I er, I had an appointment with Professor Dumbledore.”

“Dumbledore?”, Ron asked. “What for?”

Harry looked at Hermione anxiously. “You’re not getting another Time Turner, are you, Hermione? I don’t think we can survive another year of that.”

Hermione gave him a small smile. “No, skipped the habit. Actually I wanted to propose something to him, but I’ll talk to you about it, tonight.” She quickly ate a little breakfast, before the food would disappear.

When breakfast was over, Professor McGonagall appeared and handed them their schedules. Harry groaned when he saw it. They would be starting with two of his least favourite subjects: History of Magic and Potions. The afternoon looked much better with Care of Magical Creatures with Hagrid (although they didn’t know which creatures he would have up his sleeve for them), followed by Defense Against the Dark Arts. “Guess we won’t have to wait long to see Tonks.”, Harry mumbled.

Hermione nodded. “I’m really looking forward to it. And she’s an Auror! We’ll finally have a decent Defence teacher.”

Harry and Ron followed Hermione unwillingly towards the History of Magic classroom. Professor Binns had never been able to intrigue them with his boring lectures and this year was no different. Harry spent the class looking at every bird that passed the window and Ron was nodding off in his chair. Hermione kept giving them irritated glances, but didn’t say anything. After the class, she sighed and said: “You could at least try to pay attention. You won’t be able to borrow my notes for ever, you know.”

“Why not?”, Harry and Ron asked together, shocked.

“Well, once we’re out of school you won’t be able to rely on me for everything!”

“Why would we need this when we’re out of school? We’re going to be Aurors”, Ron said. “Why would we care about History of Magic?”

Hermione rolled her eyes, but didn’t elaborate on the subject while the trio descended the stairs on their way to Potions.

Harry wasn’t looking forward too much to the class in the dungeon. Potions wouldn’t be such a bad subject for him if it was taught by someone else, but Snape had hated his guts since the moment he set foot in Hogwarts. Harry never really knew why, although he had heard from Sirius and Professor Lupin that Snape and his father had been tremendous enemies. It wasn’t the worst Potions lesson he had, despite the fact that Snape took 20 points from Gryffindor (10 for laughing and 10 for looking at him cheekily) and Malfoy ‘accidentally’ spilled a gallon of armadillo bile over his robes.

Despite the fact he had to run all the way up to Gryffindor Tower to change his robes and therefore he only had time for a quick lunch, Harry felt extremely glad that horrid morning was over. After lunch they headed for Hagrid’s hut on the school grounds, discussing what Hagrid would have planned for them this year.

“As long as he has slaughtered those bloody Skrewts, it can’t be too bad”, Ron said. Harry and Hermione fervently agreed.

When they arrived they greeted Hagrid happily. Hagrid seemed very excited about the lesson, excitement that was normally reserved for Blast-Ended Skrewts and baby dragons. Harry started to feel a little anxious, especially when Hagrid went inside his house and came out with something that looked like half a cow.

“Ah Potter”, a voice sneered from behind them. “Still in the company of the vermin of wizarding society I see.” The Slytherins had arrived and Draco Malfoy was smirking at the trio.

“Shut up, Malfoy”, Hermione sighed.

“Don’t you dare tell me what to do, you filthy Mudblood.”

Ron pulled out his wand but Harry stood in front of him. Hermione was right, Malfoy could make it really difficult for him now that he was a Prefect.

“Detention, Malfoy”, Hagrid growled. “And one hundred points from Slytherin.”

“One hundred?”, Malfoy said unbelievingly, accompanied by many mutterings from the rest of the Slytherins.

“You heard the headmaster last night, Malfoy”, Hagrid said. “Such behaviour is not tolerated at Hogwarts. There is zero tolerance from now on.”

“But – “

“No buts!”, Hagrid said firmly. “I will talk to Professor Dumbledore about you later. Now if you could stop whining, we can finally begin this class.”

Harry looked at Hagrid gratefully, as they accompanied him into the Forbidden Forest. A lot of the students seemed terrified about entering the forest, despite the fact that they didn’t go very far. Harry, Ron and Hermione who had entered the forest much deeper than that were completely comfortable.

What followed was an unusually interesting lesson about Thestrals, although Neville and someone from Slytherin called Theodore Nott were the only one who could see them. When Hagrid told them how it was possible that they were the only ones to see them, Harry was glad they were invisible.

After the break, they made their way to their first Defence lesson with Tonks rather hurriedly. The classroom door stood open as they arrived, but Tonks wasn’t there yet. After about five minutes she appeared and said: “Sorry I’m a bit late. I spilled tea over my robes during break and had to go and change.”

Her confession was met by a few chuckles and Harry grinned knowingly at her. Tonks was probably the clumsiest person he knew.

“Okay well”, she restarted. “Welcome to fifth year Defence Against the Dark Arts. I am Professor Tonks as you know and I work as an Auror. I decided however to take a year-long sabbatical to help out Professor Dumbledore, who was once again in desperate need of a new teacher.”

“So you’re not staying?”, Parvati asked.

“I’m afraid not”, Tonks smiled. “I will contribute to the tradition of your previous Defence teachers, although I hope to surpass their teaching capacities. I believe apart from Professor Lupin, you haven’t had a very”, she hesitated, “adequate education in this subject.”

“You can say that again”, Dean muttered, but it was clearly audible in the silent classroom.

Tonks smiled again before she continued: “I have high expectations of this class. Professor Lupin has told me a great lot about you, and it was quite clear you were his favourite class.”

“You know Professor Lupin?”, Seamus shouted.

“He is an acquaintance”, Tonks said after hesitating briefly.

Hermione snorted. “What?”, Harry asked, but Hermione merely shook her head.

“Now back to fifth year Defence”, Tonks said after a pointed look at Hermione. “As I said, I have high hopes for this class, but I’m afraid that your discontinuous education in this subject can’t have been left without consequences. I am of course here to help you guys to pass your O.W.L.’s, but I don’t consider that as my most important task as your Defence teacher.” She paused briefly as the whole class stared at her. “You all know about the recent developments in the greater wizarding world. There is a very big chance that we will have a war at our hands in the near future. I don’t say this to make you guys scared, I say this because you have to be aware. Ignorance would be our greatest threat right now. You have to be able to defend yourselves and above all you have to be prepared at any time. I do believe the words ‘constant vigilance’ will still ring a bell with you?”

The whole class smirked as they thought of their previous Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher.

“Therefore the main focus this year will be duelling”, Tonks continued. “Not only one on one, but also in groups. And today I will test all of you right away.” She smiled when she saw the anxious faces looking up at her. “Don’t worry, you won’t be judged. I just need to have an idea where you’re standing.”

The rest of the lesson Tonks called two students at a time to the front to demonstrate a duel. Nobody really could do much more than disarm the other, except for Harry, Ron and Hermione who had learned a lot of curses during Harry’s preparation for the third task of the Triwizard Tournament. Hermione had stunned her opponent long before Lavender had even raised her wand. Harry and Ron’s duel took quite some time longer and it wasn’t until after a well-timed Body-Bind Curse that Harry was able to defeat his best friend.

“Very good”, Tonks said after she had revived Ron. “I see the two of you are quite advanced already, as is Hermione. Now before you go, I still want to tell you something. I know every teacher probably thinks his own subject is the most important, but I don’t think I have to point out the great importance of Defence Against the Dark Arts in this time. Therefore, merely coming to classes and making your homework won’t be enough. You will have to practice duelling on your own as much as you can. Please don’t take this lightly, for it might just save a life.” She glanced at Hermione and added: “But maybe Professor Dumbledore might have an idea for that. Class dismissed.”

When they left the classroom Harry asked Hermione: “What did she mean by that?”

Hermione merely shrugged. Harry knew his best friend knew more about it, but decided not to push it. That didn’t usually help much with Hermione, she would tell them when she wanted to.

The sixth years met up with Ginny and the twins for dinner and afterwards all of them returned to the Gryffindor common room together. When they sat down on various couches and armchairs, Hermione cleared her throat, looking quite nervous.

Ron looked at her with a raised eyebrow: “What’s up?”

“We’re finally going to find out now?”, Harry asked.

“Find out what?”, Parvati asked, looking puzzled.

“Why she had to go to Dumbledore this morning.”, Ron said.

“Maybe you should let her talk”, Harry laughed as he saw Hermione struggling to get a word in between. Something she normally didn’t have a problem with.

“Well”, Hermione said. “I talked to Dumbledore about an idea I had.” She hesitated.

“Yes…”, Ginny said impatiently.

“I thought that now that You-Know-Who is back, we will need to learn to defend ourselves.”

“Yeah, but that’s not a problem, is it?”, Ron said. “Tonks is here now. She’ll be a decent teacher, I reckon.”

“I am sure she will be”, Hermione said. “But you heard what she said. It’s not enough to just go to classes and make homework. We have to practice as much as we can. Tonks won’t have time to supervise more than the classes, she will be preparing seventh year N.E.W.T. students who want to get into Auror training after hours. So I thought we could start a group.”

“A group?”, Dean asked.

“Yes, like a study group, you know?”, Hermione explained. “Only this group would be exclusively practical Defence stuff. I asked Dumbledore what he thought about it.”

“What did he say?”, Harry asked.

Hermione hesitated before she answered him. “He thought it was a good idea over all, but I think he had another view on it when I proposed it to him. He wanted to confer with Tonks and with you before he responded.”

“With me?”, Harry asked. “What do I have to do with it? What did you say?”

“Nothing about you, Harry!”, Hermione assured him. “I merely proposed a Defense Against the Dark Arts practice group, but I think he might want you to, well…”

“To what?”

“Well”, Hermione said. She didn’t seem to understand Harry didn’t comprehend it immediately. “He might want you to lead the group.”

“Me? Why me?”

“That’s a good one”, Ron said and the rest of them laughed. “You’re probably the only student in this school that has actual experience with fighting the Dark Arts. You stopped You-Know-Who from stealing the Philosopher’s Stone. You saved Ginny’s life back in second year.”

“Yeah well”, Harry said. “I’ll have enough work with classes and homework and Quidditch practice. And Dumbledore told me he wanted to give me private lessons too. I probably won’t have time for some study group.”

Hermione looked at him a bit disappointed, but didn’t say anything for the time being. She wouldn’t force Harry to do anything he didn’t want to, but she knew she wouldn’t give up without a fight. And if Dumbledore had in mind what she thought he did, this would be considerably more than a simple study group.

“Wisdom is not a product of schooling, but of the lifelong attempt to acquire it” – Albert Einstein


Chapter 16: Birth of a Legend
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Chapter 16: Birth of a Legend


Harry had known that his fifth year would be extremely busy, but he hadn’t been prepared for the amount of homework that would be loaded upon them. Tuesday and Wednesday night, all of the fifth year Gryffindors were around one big table in the common room, working together on their piles of work. Currently they were working on the newest essay Snape had ordered them to write. In the end, it was still Hermione who made sure that they all finished that night.

“Honestly Hermione, you’re an angel,” Harry yawned. “I don’t know what we would do without you.” He was quickly agreed by his other class mates. Hermione gave him a small smile.

“If this is how it’s going to be all year, they can just kill me now." Ron grumbled. “And it’s already dark again.”

“What does that have to do with our homework?” Neville asked puzzled.

“Nothing.” Ron shrugged.

“Weren’t Fred and George almost ready working on those Skiving Snackboxes of them?” Dean asked. “I wouldn’t say no to a day off tomorrow. I’m beat.”

“Honestly!” Hermione rolled her eyes. “It’s only the third day of the school year and you’re already nagging.”

 



On Thursday after Transfiguration, which was their last class of the day, Ron pulled Harry aside as they exited the classroom. “Hey, you think we could go flying?”

“Flying?” Harry asked. He looked out of the nearest window. “Well at least it isn’t raining. Sure.”

When they walked over the grounds towards the Quidditch pitch, Harry noticed that Ron was uncharacteristically silent and seemed slightly nervous. Suddenly he realized where the sudden desire of his best friend to go flying came from. He didn’t just want to use his new broom.

“You want to try out for Keeper, don’t you?”

Ron looked at him startled. “Well yeah, I reckoned it wouldn't hurt to try, you know.”

“Great!” Harry grinned. “It would be cool to be in the same team.”

Ron seemed to relax a little, obviously happy that Harry had reacted enthusiastically about the idea. The two friends flied for over an hour. Ron was playing Keeper as Harry played as Chaser and tried to get past him. Harry was happy to notice Ron was more than a fair Keeper. At first sight he may not have possessed the confidence and skill of Oliver Wood, but with a bit of training he could give the old Gryffindor captain a run for his money.

When the try-outs came Friday afternoon though, Ron got more nervous and nervous. Harry was glad he was the only one of the fifth years that decided to try out for the team. Seamus and Dean were both quite interested in Quidditch, but said they were more drawn to playing Beater. Seeing as Fred and George were still on the team, they would have to wait for another year before they could try out. Hermione, Neville, Lavender and Parvati always came to support Gryffindor in the games, but personally they preferred to stay as far away from a broomstick as possibly. That way all Ron’s classmates were in the stands rooting for him as he mounted his Cleansweep 11.

Harry didn’t know what Ron had been worrying about. After an excellent try-out it was apparent to the whole team that he was the best candidate to be their new Keeper. Angelina grinned at him as she patted him on the back. “Congratulations Ron, welcome to the team.”

When they had changed back into their school robes in the changing-rooms, Katie Bell, another Gryffindor Chaser, walked up to Harry. “I almost forgot, Harry, Dumbledore asked me to tell you to go to his office after the training. He said I had to tell you he liked Licorice Wands, whatever that may mean.”

“Oh” Harry said, slightly surprised. “Alright. Thanks, Katie.” She smiled at him and left the changing-room together with Angelina and Alicia Spinnet, their brooms over their shoulders.

Harry walked up to the castle with Ron and the twins a few minutes later. When they were on the seventh floor, they parted ways as Harry made his way to the gargoyle that guarded Dumbledore’s office. “Licorice Wand.” The gargoyle stood aside and revealed the stone escalator that led to the office and Harry knocked on the door.

“Come in, Harry.”

“Good evening, Professor.” he said politely.

“Good evening, Harry. Thank you for coming on such short notice. Please sit down.”

He gestured to the chair in front of his desk and Harry nervously sat down.

“I wanted to talk to you about a few things, Harry.” Dumbledore said. “First of all, I am sure you remember me informing you about the private lessons I intended to give you?”

Harry nodded.

“Well, I think it would be wise for us to meet at least one evening every two weeks. Let us say, every other Monday starting from next? Does that suit you?”

“It does, Sir.”

“I also think it would not be a bad idea for you to learn Occlumency and Legilimency. Lord Voldemort is highly skilled at both and he would not hesitate to use it against you.”

“Occlumency and Legilimency, sir?”

“Oh of course, I should explain.” Dumbledore said politely. “Legilimency is a very obscure branch of magic. It allows the caster to navigate through the many layers of his opponent’s mind and therefore he would be able to correctly interpret his findings.”

Harry repeated the words in his mind. It took a moment until the meaning of what Dumbledore had just said dawned on him. “Voldemort can read minds?” he asked.

“It is of course a lot more complicated than that, but I guess that is the general idea, yes.”

Harry looked at his headmaster alarmed.

“It is therefore that I think it would be wise for you to learn Occlumency too, Harry. You see, Occlumency allows a witch or wizard to protect his mind against external penetration. If you would completely master Occlumency, you would be able to block anyone who would try to invade your mind. Unfortunately, despite the fact that I am quite skilled at both Legilimency and Occlumency, I am not skilled enough to teach you enough.”

“Then who would teach me, Sir?”

“Professor Snape.”

“Snape?!”

“Professor Snape, Harry.” Dumbledore corrected him. “And yes, him. He is the most accomplished Legilimens and Occlumens I know and he will be able to teach you rather quickly. For me on the other hand, it would take years to fully teach you everything.”

Harry looked at him horrified. Extra lessons from Snape? Where on earth had he deserved that? “But Professor,” Harry tried to reason with Dumbledore, “Snape hates me. He can barely stand me when I’m in a class full of people. How would he act towards me if we had private lessons?”

“I am sure Professor Snape can put aside a school boy grudge long enough to teach you, Harry. He knows it is extremely important that you learn Occlumency and he will do the best he can to make sure you do.”

Harry was still not convinced, but he nodded anyway.

Dumbledore looked relieved Harry had agreed and said: “Good, I will arrange with Professor Snape that the lessons will be planned on the Monday evenings you do not have lessons with me if that is good for you. That way you will have the rest of your evenings free for Quidditch practice.” He smiled at him.

Harry nodded his agreement.

“There is one more thing I wanted to discuss with you, Harry." Dumbledore said. “I am sure you are aware of Miss Granger’s visit with me earlier this week.”

“About the Defence group?”

“Indeed.” Dumbledore smiled. “I think it was a wonderful idea, but I must admit that I had already planned to talk to you about a similar organisation.”

Harry looked at him with astonishment. “What do you mean, Sir?”

Dumbledore looked a bit at unease as he continued: “Well Harry, now that Voldemort has returned I have to make precautions. I am sure the protective enchantments around Hogwarts are still working and will keep working for the time being, but as headmaster I must anticipate the fact that intruders might get within these walls. Voldemort might find a way around the enchantments or he might even have a man inside. The thing is that I need to have a group of people that I can trust completely. There are of course the teachers, but the past has showed us that even they are not always trustworthy. Therefore I thought of establishing a select elite group of students.”

“I’m not sure what you mean, Professor.” Harry said politely.

“It would not be as much a study group, Harry, but a real Defence group. A group of students that I can count on will keep the other students as safe as possible would Hogwarts ever be under attack. Students that I can trust above all others.”

“And you want me to be a part of that group?” Harry asked.

“No Harry.” Dumbledore said slowly. “I want you to lead that group.”

Harry looked at him shocked. “But.. But Professor.” he stuttered. “You can’t be serious, can you? I’m not a leader!”

“If you say you are not a leader who likes to use his authority and likes to boss people around, you are absolutely right, Harry.” Dumbledore said. “But you are a natural leader. People will follow you. Not because you are famous,” he quickly added as Harry wanted to interrupt, “but because you inspire people to. You have no idea what kind of influence you have on people. Your bravery inspires them.” Harry blushed as his headmaster complimented him. “You do not need to answer me tonight, Harry. The only thing I ask of you is to think about it.”

Harry nodded and asked: “This group. What exactly would we have to do. I mean, if Death Eaters manage to get into the school, will we have to fight?”

Dumbledore shook his head. “No, your first priority will be to get the students to their dormitories safely and to keep them there. That’s why it would be good to have members of every house, except for Slytherin.”

“I thought unity between houses was so important?” Harry asked, his eyebrows raised.

“Yes.” Dumbledore nodded. “And I am very sure not every Slytherin is a pureblood fanatic and not every Gryffindor is pure of heart.” Harry thought of Peter Pettigrew. “But the fact is that there are children of known Death Eaters in Slytherin house and it would not be good for them to hear about this.”

“Has Lucius Malfoy re-joined the Death Eaters, Sir?” Harry asked.

Dumbledore nodded. “Our source has informed us that Lucius Malfoy has indeed returned to Voldemort’s inner circle. Unfortunately, he is still considered to be a highly respected member of the wizarding community. If Fudge would still be Minister he would not believe any accusations against Malfoy whatsoever. We cannot be sure Minister Scrimgeour would not react in the same way.”

Harry nodded and thought back to the group Dumbledore wanted him to lead. “So you would like to have members of Gryffindor, Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw.” Harry repeated. “Who?”

“That would be entirely up to you, Harry.” Dumbledore said. “I know you would only choose those who you trust. I entirely trust your judgement.”

Harry looked at him in disbelief. “But? Won’t you be involved at all?”

“No, unfortunately I will not have time to be involved myself. That is the reason I trust you to form and train the group during the year. I am sure you would do so very well.”

Harry nodded and said: “Alright, I will think about it.”

Dumbledore smiled widely. “That is all I am asking from you, Harry. Think about it, discuss it with your closest friends, but make sure that it does not go too far. I have only conferred with Professor Tonks so far and she fully supported the idea, but I am not certain that the rest of the teachers will react the same way.”

“The teachers won’t know about it?” Harry asked disbelievingly.

“I would have to inform the heads of houses, but I think there is no need for the news to spread wider than that.”

Harry nodded as he stood up from his chair. “I’ll make sure it doesn’t leak out, Professor.”

“Very well, Harry. I will see you on Monday. Good night.”

“Good night, Professor.”

Harry found his friends in the common room. He kissed Ginny lightly on the lips as he sat down beside her.

“So what did Dumbledore want?” Fred asked.

Harry told his friends everything he had discussed with his headmaster. Starting from the extra lessons he would have with Dumbledore and Snape (Ron groaned sympathetically) right through their conversation about Dumbledore’s defence group. When he finished he looked over at Hermione who was watching him expectantly. “Did you know about this?”

Hermione shook her head. “He didn’t tell me, but I had guessed as much from what he said when I asked him about the study group.” She paused. “I think it would be a great idea Harry. It probably won’t be necessary, but it can’t hurt being prepared, can it? And we would be able to train together…”

Harry didn’t look convinced.

“Oh come on, mate. If anyone could do it, it’s you.” Ron said.

Harry looked at his friends. “Would you all join?”

“I’d be in”, Neville said immediately.

“Us too”, George said resolutely, indicating Fred and himself.

“Hell yeah”, Seamus grinned. The rest of them nodded fervently.

“I’ll think about it.” Harry said.



 

The Gryffindors spent the better part of their weekend doing homework. The only variety came on Saturday afternoon with the first real Quidditch practice of the season. By Sunday night however, Harry had done a lot of thinking and had made his decision. If Dumbledore wanted him to do this than he couldn’t let his headmaster down. He told his friends on Sunday night when they had finally abandoned their homework to relax a little before the new school week would start. They were all enthusiastic when they heard the news.

“Slow down, slow down!” Harry called out over the jubilant cries of his friends. “We still have to decide a lot. First of all, who do we ask to join?”

“Well, Luna obviously.” Ginny said. “She’s kind of our only friend that isn’t in Gryffindor and she would want to be a part of this. Plus, Dumbledore told you he wanted members of all the houses, didn’t he?”

Harry nodded. “So definitely Luna. Other suggestions?”

“Lee.” George said. “And we should ask Angelina, Alicia and Katie. They would kill us if we left them out of this.”

“True.” Harry said, scribbling names on a piece of parchment. “Then there is already fifteen of us in total. What about Cho?”

Ginny raised her eyebrows at him. “Trying to make me jealous, Potter?”

“No, but she would probably want to join too. Her boyfriend is in the Order of the Phoenix and Cedric told me she wants to join too after she graduated.”

“I was kidding, you prat.”

“We have no one from Hufflepuff and only two from Ravenclaw.” Lavender pointed out.

“I can’t think of anyone for Hufflepuff really.” Harry said, ruffling his hair. “I mean we know a few of them, like Justin, but if we can trust them to join this…?”

“Maybe we could ask the Prefects from our year?” Hermione asked. “Even if they don’t want to join, they wouldn’t blab about if we say Dumbledore wants to keep it quiet. They wouldn’t want to risk their badges.”

“No way.” Ginny said. Everyone stared at her. “Smith is a Hufflepuff Prefect, I don’t want him with us.”

“It’s the only one we can ask from Hufflepuff though.” Harry pointed out.

“Oh alright." Ginny grumbled.

Harry smiled and added four more names to his list. “So that’s Zacharias Smith and Hannah Abbott for Huffelpuff and Padma Patil and Terry Boot for Ravenclaw.”

“I’ll talk to Padma.” Parvati said as she gave him a wide smile. “I’m sure she’ll want to join.”

“We don’t have a name.” Fred pointed out.

“A name?” Hermione asked sceptically.

“Well yeah, if we form a group, we’ll have to have a name!”

“Dumbledore’s Army.” Harry muttered.

“Come again?” Ron said.

“Dumbledore’s Army.” Harry repeated.

Seamus nodded. “It is what we will be essentially. I’m in favour.”

Everyone nodded and Harry grinned as he watched his friends. “Dumbledore’s Army, it is.”

“Leadership is not about titles, positions or flowcharts. It is about one life influencing another” – John C. Maxwell


Chapter 17: An Army Is Formed
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Chapter 17: An Army Is Formed

The next day Harry’s friends took it upon them to alert the students they had decided to ask to join Dumbledore’s Army. That evening after dinner, they gathered in the common room to go over the state of affairs. Luna had already told them she would be joining when they saw her at breakfast that morning.

“Padma and Terry are both in.” Parvati said. “Terry wants to bring two of his friends. Cho has also agreed and wanted to bring one of her friends too. I agreed on the terms we decided this morning.”

Harry nodded. That morning they had agreed that if anyone would want to bring friends, they should be able to. However, because of the importance of secrecy they had told everyone they would have to sign a magical contract that would swear them to secrecy about anything that was discussed and done during meetings. “Very good. Thanks Parvati.” She smiled at him sweetly and Ginny raised her eyebrows. “What about the Hufflepuffs?” Harry asked. He looked over at Seamus and Dean.

Seamus answered: “Smith and Hannah both wanted to join. I think you’re right about Smith though.” He looked at Ginny. “Seems like a real git to me, but he wanted to come. Hannah wanted to bring Susan Bones and apparently Ernie and Justin want to come too.”

“That’s good. So we’ll have students of every house except Slytherin then.” Harry said. “But I guess the grand majority will still be Gryffindors?” He looked over at the twins who nodded.

“Yeah.” Fred said. “Lee was all for it and our three Chasers want to be part of it too.”

“There’s one more thing, Harry.” Parvati said. “Colin Creevey overheard me talking to Cho and he and his brother want to join too. I said I didn’t know if you would be okay with it, but that I would ask you.”

Harry looked troubled. “They’re young.” he said.

“Colin is in the same year as Ginny and Luna.” Hermione pointed out. “They are both members.”

“Yeah, but Dennis is only a second year.”

“What about this Harry.” Ginny said. “You let them join so they can train with us, but in the unlikely event something really happens, Dennis has to bring himself to safety.”

“Alright, they’re in.” Harry said reluctantly. “Friday night eight o’clock will be our first meeting.” He explained to everyone how they could find the Room of Requirement and how they could get in and the others promised him to pass on the message. After that Harry had to leave, because he would be late for his first lesson with Dumbledore.

When he arrived in the office of his headmaster, Dumbledore was sitting behind his desk with his Pensieve in front of him.

"We're gonna use your Pensieve?" Harry asked surprised after greeting his headmaster.



“Indeed.” Dumbledore said. "We will not need the Pensieve today, but in future lessons I am certain it will come in handy.”

Harry looked at the Pensieve a bit anxiously as Dumbledore put it away in a cabinet. “So Harry.” his headmaster said. “We have arrived at your first private lesson of this year. I sense you are a bit anxious about what will come.”

Harry smiled slightly. “Maybe a bit, sir.”

“Well Harry, in these lessons we will try to learn as much as we can about Voldemort’s past.”

“Why, sir?”

“Because only by analysing his past, we can find a way to destroy him. However, we will have to postpone those plans seeing as I have not been able to see the full picture myself and it would be counter-productive to tell you everything before I am absolutely sure what we are dealing with.”

There followed a short silence after that cryptic remark.

“For now, we will concentrate on improving your magic. Although I am very sure you have a very competent Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher this year, I am afraid that the stuff you will see in class will not suffice to face Lord Voldemort. I should make it clear to you though that some spells that I will teach you should not be used too frequently out in the open. It would not do good for too many people to know that you can do such magic as there are extremely powerful spells and curses among them.”

Harry looked at Dumbledore eagerly. He couldn’t wait to learn the stuff his headmaster had described to him just now.

“We won’t start with such spells today however”, Dumbledore continued and Harry felt slightly disappointed. “Today I will show you how you can incapacitate your opponents with more basic magic like stunning spells and reductor curses.”

Harry looked at him puzzled. “I know how to do those spells, Professor. I learned them when I was training for the Triwizard Tournament.”

“I am very aware of that, Harry”, Dumbledore smiled. “Please do not think I underestimate your abilities! But what you can do is simply stun your opponent and although that is very useful, they could easily be awakened by a friendly wand or wake up on their own accord.”

He walked up to another cabinet and pulled out a target to practice on. “If you use a stunning spell and you hit your target in the stomach or any other body part, they will wake up fairly quickly or can be immediately woken up by a friendly wand. When you hit your target with your stunning spell in the right place of his chest, around his heart for example or in the head, he will be out for a very long time and it would take a lot of effort from someone to wake him up. Do you understand?”

Harry nodded. He spent the following thirty minutes firing stunning spells at his target, until Dumbledore was happy with his aim.

“Now for Reductor curses.” Dumbledore said. “They are far more dangerous. You do not need an Unforgivable Curse to kill a person. I do not want to encourage you to kill, Harry, but there might come a time when you do not see another way out of a tight spot. I must encourage you Harry to never use lethal force deliberately unless there is absolutely no other way out.”

Harry nodded. “Of course.”

“Alright. A powerful Reductor Curse can take out an opponent just as much as a Killing Curse. No matter if it hits the head, the chest or the stomach, if a Reductor Curse is powerful enough to reach deeply, it can damage vital organs, which can lead to incapacitation or worse.”

Harry spent the remainder of the lesson on practicing the Reductor Curse. When he returned to his four-poster in Gryffindor Tower, he was extremely tired but satisfied.









Friday night eight o’clock, Harry was in the Room of Requirement facing a large group of students. He was getting a bit self-conscious when he saw all those faces looking up at him. “Well er, you all know why we’re here.” He explained them about the request Dumbledore made him and about their decision to form Dumbledore’s Army to protect the Hogwarts students from harm.

“I just don’t understand why Dumbledore needs students to protect his school.” Zacharias Smith said.

“I think you can fill the library with thinks you don’t understand, Smith.” said Seamus heatedly.

“No, it is a fair question.” Harry said. “Dumbledore wants a group of people who he can trust completely. I don’t have to tell you that the teachers aren’t always to be completely trusted, seeing as you all know which teachers have been here the previous years.”

“But how does he know he can trust every one of us?” Zacharias asked.

“He doesn’t.” Harry simply said. “But he trusts me.” There followed a long silence. “I trust everyone in this room. You are either friends or friends of friends. However we can’t afford to take chances. Therefore we asked all of you if you were prepared to sign a magical contract. Every one of you has agreed to do so and now is the time. Hermione, the list?” He looked over at Hermione, who was holding the list on which Harry had written the names of all the members. She gave it to Neville to  pass it along. “Just sign beneath your name.” Harry continued. “Now, I am seeing some new faces and I’m sure I can’t be the only one so maybe it wouldn’t be a bad idea if everyone introduced themselves.”

After a short round of introduction, Harry asked everyone to pair up and practice Disarming. After about thirty minutes he switched over to the Impediment Jinx. Then he saw it was already forty minutes after curfew and he ended the meeting for that day.

Harry and Ginny stayed behind in the Room of Requirement  for a while. Harry walked over at the wall where the parchment with all the names of the members was hung. He saw Hermione had written ‘Dumbledore’s Army’ in curly letters above the names. He didn’t expect himself to do anything like this before Dumbledore asked him, but as he watched the list with the 28 names of the members, he felt proud about starting the group for the first time.

 Ginny came standing beside him and pulled something out of her pocket. She pinned it to the wall next to the list. Harry saw that it was a picture of the original Order of the Phoenix. Harry recognized his parents, Sirius and Lupin among many others. “Where did you get that?” he asked softly.

“Sirius showed it to me during the summer.” she answered. “I asked him if I could keep it. I wanted to show you, but I was a bit scared how you would react.”

Harry smiled. “It’s amazing.” Suddenly he realized that a great lot of these people had died since that picture was taken. Suddenly the realization that Voldemort was back and people would be disappearing and dying again hit him hard. He squeezed Ginny’s hand as he kept looking at the picture. “I won’t let anything happen to you.” he whispered.

Ginny didn’t have to ask what he meant. “I know.” she whispered back as she pulled him close. When they let go of each other, Ginny was happy to see a smile on Harry’s face. “We should make a picture with Dumbledore’s Army too.” she said smiling.

“The next generation!” Harry laughed. He looked at his watch and sighed. “We’d better go, if Filch catches us we’re toast.”

“We should have brought the Invisibility Cloak.” Ginny grumbled.

Harry smiled, took her hand again and led her out of the Room of Requirement.

When they were almost at the corridor of the Fat Lady, Ginny suddenly stopped Harry. “Ginny, what?”

“Sst!” she said. “Listen.”

They heard a soft crying coming from an empty classroom on their right. They saw the door had been left ajar. Ginny looked at the door indecisively, but Harry walked over to the classroom and softly pulled the door open. He was shocked when he looked into the big grey eyes of Jacinta Malfoy. She sat on a desk, like she was just following a class. Only it was more than 10 o’clock in the evening and her face showed traces of a serious beating. Her left eye was closed up and it was bruising quickly, while her nose was bleeding profusely. It seemed to Harry it had been broken.

“Jacinta!”, Harry moved over to her quickly and kneeled in front of her. “Who did this to you?” She shook her head.

He heard Ginny, who had followed when Harry had hurried inside gasp as she saw Jacinta’s face. “Harry, we have to get her to the hospital wing!”

Jacinta fiercely shook her head which seemed to hurt her, seeing as her eyes narrowed in pain. Harry sighed. “Jacinta, you’ll have to come with us. We can get you fixed up. You do understand we can’t leave you here like this, don’t you?”

After a lot of coaxing from Harry, Jacinta finally agreed to go with them to Madam Pomfrey. The whole way down to the hospital wing Harry and Ginny tried to question Jacinta about what happened to her, but she didn’t say a word. It was apparent that she had received quite a beating. This weren’t just the injuries of an enthusiastic first-year who had been to careless. They had to bang on the door of the hospital wing for several minutes before an agitated Madam Pomfrey opened the door.

“What is – Oh Mr Potter! I thought two weeks was a bit long before having you over. What is it now?”

“I have nothing, Madam Pomfrey, it’s Jacinta.” he gestured at the little girl who was holding onto his hand and Madam Pomfrey seemed to notice her for the first time.

“Oh Merlin, what has happened to you, dear? Come in, quickly.”

Harry was happy Madam Pomfrey ushered the three of them into the hospital wing quickly. He had been afraid Madam Pomfrey would be annoyed with them for turning up on her doorstep that late, but she didn’t even comment on the fact they should have been in their houses a long time ago. Harry reckoned her motherly instincts had played up the moment she saw the little girl.

After she had fixed Jacinta’s injuries, she pushed her down onto the bed and told her to rest. Then she gestured for Harry and Ginny to follow her to her office. Once there she closed the door and immediately asked what happened.

“We have no idea, Madam Pomfrey.” Harry said.

Ginny told the matron how they had found Jacinta in an empty classroom, apparently afraid to return to Gryffindor Tower.

“Look I get a lot of first years here.” Madam Pomfrey said. “They are still a bit more playful than older students and they tend to get quite a lot of injuries. Of course one more than the other.” she added glancing at Harry. “But these are not injuries from a simple fall or running into something. This isn’t something she received playing around.”

“She was beaten.” Harry said.

“It seems so.” Madam Pomfrey said.

“Malfoy.” Harry said through clenched teeth.

“Harry,” Ginny said, “we don’t have any proof it was him. Jacinta hasn’t said one word since we saw her.”

“Of course, she wouldn’t want to say anything if it was her own family, would she? You know how that family is. Do you think they are very happy with her after she was put into Gryffindor?” Harry was absolutely livid that someone would do something like that to an eleven year old girl.

“Mr Potter,” Madam Pomfrey soothed, “I understand your anger, I really do. I am appalled myself, but we must not jump to conclusions. I will report to the headmaster first thing in the morning and we will see what we can do about this. For the moment there is nothing you can do for her, she is in good hands.”

Harry and Ginny nodded and left the office together with Madam Pomfrey who wanted to check up on Jacinta. When the three of them reached her bed, they saw she had already fallen asleep. Harry carefully tucked her in before he left with Ginny. Madam Pomfrey looked one last time at the girl before she put out the lights and returned to the back.

When the door to Madam Pomfrey’s office closed, Jacinta Malfoy opened her eyes again. She looked at the door of the hospital wing through which the boy she had been brought up to hate just left. All her life her parents had said anyone whose blood wasn’t pure was not a worthy member of the wizarding society. All of her life, her brother had said that Harry Potter was a worthless egocentric kid who didn’t care for anyone but himself. Two weeks at Hogwarts had already proven both statements wrong. Harry Potter was probably the only one in this school who knew what it was like to be in her shoes. He must know what it’s like being brought up in the wrong family too, she thought, as she cried herself to sleep.

“Children must be taught how to think, not what to think” – Margaret Mead          

A/N: There are ten more chapters after this one before the story is finished. Thank you for reading this and especially those who have left a review. I love to hear what you think about it and I really appreciate every comment.


Chapter 18: Secrets From The Past
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Chapter 18: Secrets From The Past

Harry went to the hospital wing the first thing after breakfast on Saturday. He wanted to check on Jacinta. He didn’t know what it was, but something about that girl seemed to draw his attention, as if she needed his help. Madam Pomfrey was just cleaning up the remains of Jacinta’s breakfast when Harry walked in. “Good morning, Mr Potter. I had a feeling I would see you this morning.” she said approvingly. Apparently, she had hoped Harry would stop by to see Jacinta, as the first year girl didn’t seem to have many friends.

Harry smiled weakly and sat down next to Jacinta’s bed. “How are you?” he asked.

“I’m fine.” She smiled at him. “Madam Pomfrey healed me in a heartbeat, I was just very tired.”

Harry gave her a piercing look. “I expect you don’t want to talk about it?” She shook her head. “Jacinta, I understand that you don’t want to talk about it, I really do, but this was not innocent. Next time you could get really hurt…”

“There won’t be a next time.” Jacinta said. “He... There won’t be a next time.” she resolved a bit ineptly.

Harry nodded sadly and took her hand. “I know you really don’t know me that well, but you can always tell me everything, alright?” he said. “Even when you think it is stupid or not worth mentioning, I still want to hear it, got it?”

Jacinta seemed to cheer up as he said that. “You mean like a friend?" she asked, almost disbelievingly.

Harry was struck by the fact that she was so happy someone would want to be her friend. He was oddly reminded of himself when he was a first-year. He had been an outcast himself and had been just as surprised when Ron and Hermione wanted to be friends with him after ten years of being bullied and being ruled out by Dudley and his friends. Had this girl gone through the same miserable childhood he had?

“Yes.” he said. “Exactly like a friend.” He squeezed her hand and said goodbye as he returned to Gryffindor Tower to look for Ginny. Madam Pomfrey had tears in her eyes when she saw her most frequent patient leave her hospital wing.



 

In the afternoon, Harry stopped by Dumbledore’s office. He wanted to hear what he thought about the incident with Jacinta and if he shared his suspicions about Malfoy.

“Harry, how are you this afternoon?”

“Fine, sir.” Harry said shortly.

“Sit down.” Dumbledore said gesturing to the chair in front of his desk. “I am quite certain you are here concerning the regrettable incident of yesterday evening.”

“Yes I am.”

“Madam Pomfrey has told me everything this morning.” Dumbledore said before Harry could elaborate. “She also told me about your concerns about Mr Malfoy.”

Harry merely nodded.

“I must admit that the first name that popped into my head was also the one of Draco Malfoy.” Dumbledore said. “But we cannot proof anything, Harry. It would not be right to judge people by looking at their family. Jacinta Malfoy is the best example of that. Her parents are not very nice people to say at the least,” Harry snorted, “but personally I think Miss Malfoy is an engaging child.”

“I understand that, Professor, but she’s an eleven year old girl.” Harry said. “She shouldn’t go through this. And what if it happens again?”

Dumbledore nodded sadly. “I know, Harry. And if I had one tiny bit of proof that Jacinta has ever been assaulted by any member of her family, I would have her pulled away from there immediately. Unfortunately there is not, so there is nothing I can do at the moment.”

Harry nodded unwillingly and said goodbye to his headmaster.





The following Monday evening, Harry had his much dreaded first Occlumency lesson with Snape. Although Dumbledore had said he was sure Snape could push aside his schoolboy grudge for his father, Harry was pretty sure Snape wouldn’t act anything else than usual. And he was not disappointed.

“Stand up, Potter.”

Snape had attacked Harry’s mind three times and it had every time ended with Harry falling to his knees in agony.

Snape looked at him hatefully as Harry pulled himself of the floor. “You are not even trying to block your mind, I can see right through it!”

“You haven’t even said what I should do!”

“Manners, Potter.” Snape sneered. “Prepare yourself. Legilimens!”

Hagrid was showing Harry the dragons before the First Task in the Triwizard Tournament. Harry and Ron were drinking Polyjuice Potion in Moaning Myrtle’s bathroom. Cedric and Harry lifted the Triwizard Cup in front of a crowd of students and Professors. Harry, Ron and Hermione attacked Snape in the Shrieking Shack, blowing him backwards and beating him unconscious.

Suddenly the chain of memories stopped and Harry thought he had finally made some progress, but Snape was looking at him with a look of pure loathing and he realized he had broken the connection himself. One look at his Potions Master told Harry he was not to speak about what they had just seen. Snape curled his lip. “Legilimens!” Snape attacked him with more force than ever.

Harry was hugging Sirius in a cave in Hogsmeade. His parents were looking at him from inside the Mirror of Erised. Hermione ran towards Harry and hugged him after she had been petrified and awoken by the Mandrake Draught. Ron and Harry at eleven years old were playing Wizard’s Chess by the fire in the Common Room, wearing Weasley Christmas jumpers. Ginny and Harry were kissing on the couch in the living room of Grimmauld Place.

“You make me sick.” Snape snarled.

Something inside Harry exploded when he realized Snape had seen all those personal memories and addressed them in such way.

“You are pathetic!” he grumbled at his Potions Master.

“What did you say?" Snape snapped.

“You’re pathetic, that’s what I said.” Harry ranted on. “You think it is necessary to keep pestering me, because you couldn’t stand my father when you were in school together all those years ago. A man who has been dead for almost fourteen years! It’s ridiculous!” Harry turned around and was ready to storm out of the dungeon when…

"Stop."

Harry turned around, expecting to see someone else standing behind the desk. The voice had sounded soft and defeated. A voice that didn’t usually come out of Severus Snape’s mouth. 

"We were friends." the Potions master said.

“You what?”

“We were friends.” Snape repeated. “Your father and I. We were friends until our sixth year at Hogwarts.”

Every instinct in Harry’s body screamed that Snape was lying, but he had never seen his Potions Master this vulnerable. Not even he would be able to act that well, would he? “But what about Sirius? And Lupin?”

Snape sighed. “We were friends too.”

Harry couldn’t believe what he was hearing. “What happened?”

Snape shrugged. “They were all Gryffindors, I was a Slytherin. We were in the middle of the first wizarding war, so you can imagine how friendships between those two houses were received by the general public.”

“But you stayed friends until you were in your sixth year?”, Harry said. “Why would you be friends until then if it was just about differences between houses?”

Snape sighed deeply. He hadn’t looked Harry in the eye since Harry had shouted at him. “We fell in love with the same girl. Sirius and Remus took James’ side of course. I didn’t give them much reason to decide otherwise.”

“When you say you fell in love with the same girl...” Harry said slowly. “You don’t mean –?”

Snape looked at him at last. “Yes. Your mother.” He paused and said: “She was extremely kind, even to a Slytherin like me.” He frowned. “Bright, talented, beautiful. Those green eyes...” He finally looked Harry in the eyes. “Every time I look at you, I am reminded of the mistakes I made in my past. When I see you, I see James. In your appearance, your talent on the Quidditch pitch, even your duelling skills. And I see Lily, her eyes, her personality, her laugh. It always made me so angry. Knowing that it was all my fault. If I hadn’t chosen the wrong side back then…”

“Why have you never told me?” Harry asked. “This could have done so much if you had told me before now.”

“Because I was ashamed of course. And afraid. I knew that I could never face you after what I had done.”

“Of course you could.” Harry said, although he had no idea what Snape was talking about.

Snape shook his head. “You don’t know what I have done – “

“And I don’t want to know.” Harry interrupted him. “I don’t care who you used to work for. I don’t care if you have the Dark Mark on your arm.” Snape looked at him startled. “You’re on our side now. Dumbledore trusts you. And if Dumbledore trusts you, I trust you.” Harry couldn’t believe he was saying this words to Severus Snape, but he knew he was doing right by saying it.

Snape looked at him with an extremely strange expression on his face Harry couldn’t place. Suddenly he realized it was gratitude. It took so long for him to notice because he never expected to see Snape look grateful at anyone, let alone Harry. He nodded at Harry and mumbled: “I’m sorry.”

Harry nodded. He knew his Potions Master wouldn’t say more than that to him and he didn’t need to hear anymore too. He took his bag and left the room without another word, he needed time to think this over.

As Severus Snape watched Harry leave his office, he felt like a huge weight had been lifted from his chest. A weight that had been there for nearly fourteen years. A weight that had doubled the moment Harry Potter had set foot in Hogwarts. Maybe he would be able to live again.

When Harry entered the Gryffindor common room, his head was still spinning from everything he had heard in the dungeons. He noticed his friends occupying a wide range of chairs at the fire. He vaguely noticed their usual group was accompanied by Lee Jordan and Angelina, Alicia and Katie. Still speechless he plumped down onto a couch next to Ginny, who rubbed his thigh.

“Are you okay, sweetie?”

“Did Snape give you such a rough time?” Ron asked, looking at Harry worriedly.

Harry shook his head. Stammering he recounted everything Snape had told him after Harry lashed out at him. A deafening silence followed his story.

“Is this some kind of sick joke?”

“Ronald!” Hermione scolded. “Can’t you see he is being serious, honestly.”

Harry talked with his friends about Snape for quite some time, but the ones he really wanted to talk about were Sirius and Remus Lupin. They never told him anything about Snape being friends with them during their years at Hogwarts and he had to admit he felt a bit betrayed about that. He thought about writing, but they had ordered them to be careful with what he wrote in his letters. His owl could be intercepted. Harry knew Snape was still working as a spy for the Order and if Hedwig was intercepted, Snape risked to blow his cover. The only thing he could do was wait for the Christmas Holidays to come and hope Snape would be acting more civilly towards him now he had told Harry the secrets from his past.


Chapter 19: Gryffindor versus Slytherin
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Chapter 19: Gryffindor versus Slytherin

On Wednesday Harry went down to the Great Hall rather  nervously. Potions would be their first class that day and it would be the first time he would see Snape again after their memorable first Occlumency lesson. They didn’t see Snape at breakfast, but he hadn’t turned up for meals in the Great Hall the day before too. Grudgingly, Harry followed Ron and Hermione to the dungeons.

It was one of the quietest Potions lessons Harry had ever had. Snape didn’t actually act friendlier towards Harry, he just ignored him. Harry found out to his joy that he didn’t have much problems with his potion, now that he was left alone. The only sign Snape had changed his attitude towards him showed at the end of the lesson. When Harry was carrying his potion sample to Snape’s desk for marking, Malfoy made him trip so his potion fell on the ground. Instead of smirking at Harry as usual, Snape took five points from Slytherin. The whole class was staring at him with open mouths. This was probably the first time in years Snape had taken points from his own house.

In his next Occlumency lesson Snape didn’t act very different from that. Maybe he acted a bit more friendly towards  him than in class, but he was still rather reserved. He did however seem to put a bigger effort in teaching Harry Occlumency. Instead of continuously attacking him, Snape told him to visualize building a wall with his mind behind his eyes. At the end of the second lesson, Harry was able to hold Snape up for a while, but he still was not able to push him out.

The weeks at Hogwarts passed quickly as Harry was so busy with classes, homework, Quidditch training and the meetings of Dumbledore’s Army, not to mention the extra lessons with Dumbledore and Snape which grew increasingly harder.

On Halloween, the third year students and above were allowed their first Hogsmeade visit of the year. Harry was relieved when he saw the announcement on the notice board in the Gryffindor common room. He was afraid they might have decided to cancel the trips due to Voldemort’s return. He immediately asked Ginny to go with him and she happily accepted. Although they hung out together all the time, they were always surrounded by their friends. They were happy to be, but it would feel good to be alone with the two of them for a few hours. They did have a great time, but they still constantly met DA members on the way who wanted to come and say hello to them.

The Friday night before their first Quidditch match of the season, Harry stayed behind in the Room of Requirement after the DA meeting to clean up the mess they had made during practice. He had thought he was alone in the Room, but when he turned around he saw Angelina Johnson watching the picture of the Order of the Phoenix that was still pinned on the wall. Harry walked over to her and stood beside her in silence. After a few moments he looked at Angelina and he saw she had tears in her eyes. “Are you - ” Harry said nervously. “Are you okay?”

Angelina smiled at him and nodded. "Yeah, sure."

“I never told you about my parents, didn’t I?” she said after a long silence. Harry shook his head. “They were in the Order of the Phoenix too.” She pointed at a black woman and a white man, waving happily into the camera.

“What happened?” Harry asked softly.

“They were killed.” Angelina said. “They were Aurors, you know. When You-Know-Who disappeared the first time, when he, well you know.” She nodded a bit uncomfortably at Harry and he gave her a weak smile. “When You-Know-Who vanished, most of the Death Eaters knew their time was over. A lot of them were arrested, some of them were killed. But the most of them fled or went scot-free because they claimed to be under the Imperius Curse. However there was one group of four Death Eaters that didn’t want to put up with the fact it was over. They were convinced that You-Know-Who was still alive somewhere and that the Ministry of Magic knew where he was.” She paused. “So they went after the Aurors.” Her voice sounded suddenly bitter.

“Those bastards tortured my parents for information they couldn’t give them. When they finally realized they wouldn’t be of any use to them, they killed them. Just like that. Like two cockroaches.”

Tears were now streaming freely down Angelina’s cheeks. Harry put an arm around her and she rested her head on his shoulder. He found himself rather uncomfortable. Had this been Ginny or Hermione he would be more at ease, But Angelina was two years older than him and Harry had always thought of her as extremely tough. Her reputation on the Quidditch field played a big role in that image.

"Did they catch them?" Harry asked.

"They did." Angelina said "But not in time. A few weeks later they made two new victims, Frank and Alice Longbottom.”

“Longbottom?” Harry asked. “Do you mean...”

Angelina looked at him. “He never told you?" Harry shook his head. “Then I shouldn’t tell you either. He should be able to do so himself when he wants to.”

“Were they killed too?” Harry asked. He couldn’t help himself.

Angelina shook her head and smiled. “Never mind, Harry. It’s not my place to tell.”

Harry nodded, understanding. He looked at his watch. “Let’s go.” he said silently. “We have a game to win tomorrow.”

Angelina smiled. “That we have.”

They walked to the door of the Room of Requirement together. Just before they reached the door, Angelina turned around and said: “Thanks Harry.” and gave him a hug. “I normally don’t really talk about this, but sometimes it feels good to get some of it of my chest.”

Harry nodded. He hadn’t even known Angelina had been an orphan, just like him. That was probably part of the reason she decided she would be able to talk to Harry about what happened without having to endure the constant sympathy of people who didn’t remotely know what it felt like to grow up without parents.







“Hello everybody and welcome to the opening of the new Quidditch season here at Hogwarts!”, the voice of Lee Jordan shouted through his megaphone, while the Gryffindor Quidditch team stood ready to fly onto the pitch. Harry glanced at Ron, who looked a bit pale, but seemed to have his nerves under control.

“Today’s game is between Gryffindor and Slytherin! And here is the Gryffindor team, with Captain Angelina Johnson, Alicia Spinnet, Katie Bell, Ron Weasley, Fred Weasley, George Weasley aaaaaaaand Harry Potter!”

The Gryffindor team was met by deafening noise as they flew out of the catacombs and flew a lap around the pitch. Most students from Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw were also rooting for Gryffindor. As it was the first match of the season, it still made no real difference for them who won and in that case Slytherin was always the least favourite house of other students.

“And here is the Slytherin team!” Lee announced a bit less enthusiastic. “With Captain Graham Montague, Chris Warrington, Adrian Pucey, Miles Bletchley, Vincent Crabbe, Gregory Goyle aaaand Draco Malfoy. The Snitch is gone, followed by the Bludgers. The Quaffle is thrown up and they’re off!”

Angelina grabbed hold of the Quaffle first, but was immediately approached by Warrington. Angelina was too quick for him and passed it over to Katie who sped up along the right side of the pitch. Meanwhile Harry rose above all the other players, followed closely by Malfoy.

Katie scored the first goal for Gryffindor by aiming the Quaffle through the right hoop. Harry winked at Malfoy when he passed him.

It became quickly clear that Slytherin would be no match for this Gryffindor. Crabbe and Goyle, their new Beaters hadn’t successfully hit one Bludger while Fred and George performed as excellent as always. The three Chasers worked together seamless as they had been playing together for years and Ron stopped the few shots Slytherin managed to attempt. About one hour into the game it was already 150 to nothing.

Harry noticed Malfoy was still tailing him. Apparently the Slytherin had decided against looking for the Snitch and was waiting for Harry to find it for him. Harry didn’t really understand his tactics as Malfoy’s Nimbus 2001 was no match for Harry’s Firebolt when it came to speed.

The three Chasers scored another two times each, bringing the score to 210 to nothing. The Slytherins were getting more and more aggressive, but the Gryffindors were simply too fast for them to do any damage.

Harry decided to try something he had never tried before, but if he ever wanted to, this was the moment to do it as they were so far in the lead. He suddenly narrowed his eyes and made a dive towards the Gryffindor stands. Malfoy had noticed it immediately and sped after him, slowly pulling up. Had he been keeping attention that would have already given away Harry’s plan, but he was happy to see Malfoy was arrogant enough to believe he could actually keep up with Harry. Just before they would hit the ground, Harry turned up sharply, causing shrieks to emerge from the stands. Malfoy smacked into the field with a muffled thump, right in front of the Gryffindor supporters, who were cheering loudly for their Seeker. Malfoy needed a few minutes to get patched up and that was all Harry needed to finally spot the Snitch. By the time Malfoy had gotten onto his broom again, Harry was already speeding to the opposite end of the pitch and before Malfoy even knew where Harry was, he was circling the pitch with his hand raised high above his head, the Golden Snitch struggling feebly in his hand.

“He got the Snitch!” Lee Jordan yelled above the deafening noise that emerged from the stands. “Harry Potter has caught the Snitch! Gryffindor wins! 360 to nothing! In your face you dirty – “

The megaphone was - not for the first time - taken away from Lee by Professor McGonagall. She tried to look at Lee sternly, but didn’t really manage to as Gryffindor has just got the biggest win in 300 years at Hogwarts. This was a humiliation Slytherin wouldn’t be able to forget soon.

Harry landed and was immediately surrounded by his teammates. Angelina hugged him tightly and kissed the top of his head. “You were brilliant, Harry, as always.” She was beaming at him.

Katie and Alicia both kissed him too and Fred, George and Ron enveloped him in manly bear hugs. When they were walking towards the changing rooms, Ron said: “A Wronski Feint, Harry! That was absolutely brilliant. If Krum would have seen this...”

“Actually I have seen it.” a gruff voice came from beside them. They looked to the right and saw Viktor Krum, accompanied by Fleur Delacour and Bill Weasley.

The Gryffindor Team looked at them surprised. “What are you all doing here?” Fred asked.

“Professor Dumbledore invited all the Triwizard Champions to come watch the game.” Fleur answered. “And Bill tagged along.”

“Cedric couldn’t come.” Bill said. “Auror business.”

“You play very well.” Krum said. “I think you could play professionally if you wanted. That Wronski Feint was perfectly executed."

“Thanks.” Harry said, grinning. “But I don’t really know yet what I’m going to do when I’m done here.”

“Well,” Krum said, “if you decide to take a shot at it, let me now. I could always get you in contact with some people.”

“Thanks Viktor.” Harry said, a bit surprised. The year before Krum had been distant and at times even surly, but now he seemed a whole other person. Maybe the stress from the Triwizard Tournament had done more to him than they expected. After a quick goodbye he took off.

Bill and Fleur decided to leave too. “Mum and Dad will want to know how the game went. After all there are four of her sons in the team now.” He winked at Harry as he said that and laughed when he noticed the younger boy’s cheeks going red. He decided to take it one step further. “And I’ll have to let Charlie know he’s not the best Gryffindor Seeker in known history anymore.”

They all laughed out loud when they saw Harry’s embarrassment. “Yeah, that’s quite enough." Harry grinned. “Go on like that and I’ll get a fat head.”

“The day you get a fat head is the day Ron doesn’t eat for a day.” Fred laughed.

“Well, we got to be off.” Bill said. “Have fun at your party. I remember those Gryffindor parties can get out of hand now and then. So behave yourself. Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do!”

Fleur smacked him on the back of the head playfully. “Au revoir.”

When they said their goodbyes to Bill and Fleur, the team quickly changed and headed for their common room to attend their victory party. And indeed, that night was one of those evenings Gryffindor house was famous for.

“Play to win, not ‘not to lose’” – Dondi Scumaci


Chapter 20: Eventful Holidays
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Chapter 20: Eventful Holidays


Before they knew it, it was time to pack their trunks to go home for the Christmas holidays.  Harry was looking forward to his first Christmas with Sirius. However he didn’t like the idea of being apart from Ginny for two weeks, but then Ron told him Sirius had invited all the Weasleys to spend the Christmas holidays at Grimmauld Place and they had gladly accepted. Hermione would spend the first week of the holidays with her parents, but after Christmas she would come to Grimmauld Place too. The biggest reason Harry was looking forward to talking to Sirius, was that he wanted to talk to him about Snape. He hadn’t really spoken much with his Potions Master anymore after his outburst in his first Occlumency lesson, despite the fact that they still had private lessons together. It was clear to everyone, however, that the open hostility between Harry and Snape had been replaced by a certain quiet understanding. Even Dumbledore, who had never seen Harry and Snape in class, noticed something had changed, but he didn’t say anything about it. He had an idea what it was about and knew Harry would have a hard time coping with the knowledge of his father and Snape being friends.

On their first night back at Grimmauld Place, Sirius cooked up an exquisite dinner. Harry had never really imagined his godfather to be a good cook, but he had to admit he even gave Mrs Weasley a run for her money.

After dinner, Harry and Ginny were seated on their favourite couch in the living room on the first floor. They had been telling Lily and James about their school year for quite some time when Sirius walked in, followed closely by Remus Lupin, who was staying with Sirius at Grimmauld Place.

They talked for a while before Harry decided to bring up the subject of Snape. He told the adults everything that had occurred in Snape’s office during his first Occlumency lesson. They were watching him, looking defeated.

“It’s really true?” Harry asked. They nodded. “Why did you never tell me?”

Sirius took a deep breath before he answered him: “We decided it wasn’t a good idea to tell you. When we met you, you were thirteen and you hated Snape, with reason seeing how he has treated you.”

“You still should have told me.”

“How would you have felt, Harry?” Remus said. “How would you have felt if you found out he used to be one of your parents best friends?”

James was shifting a bit. “You told me he has been spying for the Order since we passed?” They nodded. “I’m glad he seems to have redeemed himself. I was cut up by it when he took the Dark Mark.”

“But how?”, Harry asked. “What happened between you?”

It was Lily who answered. “I met Severus when were kids, before we even went to Hogwarts. I was muggle-born as you know, so I had no idea all those things I could do were magic. Severus lived in the same neighbourhood as we did and he had seen me perform accidental magic. He approached me and told me everything about magic and Hogwarts. I didn’t believe him of course.” She smiled. “But he was determined to convince me and eventually he did. We became friends.”

Harry and Ginny were sitting upright on the couch, hanging on to every word Lily said.

“Then we went to Hogwarts. We met up with each other on Platform Nine and Three Quarters. He was extremely excited to leave his home behind and start his own life. He wasn’t brought up in the most loving family.” she continued. “On the Hogwarts Express we met James and Sirius. I thought they were the most arrogant, insufferable prats I had ever met.”

Harry looked at his father and godfather who were grinning broadly. “We weren’t that bad!” James said. “A bit conceited maybe.”

Sirius snorted. “A bit conceited? We thought the sun was shining out of our – “

“Okay okay!” Lily said. “The thing is Severus was the only friend I had in the wizarding world, until I met Remus. I became close friends with him and so did Severus, until we found out that two of Remus’ best friends were the two bullies from the Hogwarts Express.”

Remus smiled. “Lily gave me quite a telling off then. We were still first years, but I can assure you she had no problem with telling people what she thought.”

 Harry smiled as he was reminded of Hermione trying to prevent them from sneaking out at night back in their first year.

“She couldn’t believe I would be friends with them,” Remus continued, “but I managed to convince her they weren’t that bad once you knew them. After many objections she started to hang out with the four of us.”

“The fact that I became friends with the infamous Marauders meant that Severus automatically spent time with them too.” Lily said. “And miraculously, they seemed to get along. Quite well actually.”

“Now during our first years at Hogwarts Voldemort was steadily gaining power.”James jumped in. “But when we were in our fifth year, the first wizarding war erupted in all its cruelty. What first had been nasty incidents and disappearances now became open war.”

“It was common knowledge at Hogwarts that Snape was friends with us.” Sirius said. “We were never really best friends like the four of us were since our first day at Hogwarts , but it was clear for everyone that we were friends nonetheless. Snape had always had to endure provocations and torments from his fellow Slytherins, but when the war really started, it was hell for him.”

“Severus had friends in his own house too, but they had always kind of ignored the fact his other friends were in Gryffindor.” Remus spoke. “But many of the Slytherins back then were children of Death Eaters and a lot of them couldn’t wait to join them once they left Hogwarts.”

“It wasn’t bearable for him anymore.” James said. “Dumbledore knew about it, but there was only so much Dumbledore could do without proof. Snape couldn’t enter his own common room or dormitory without being at constant of risk of being cursed into oblivion.”

“Eventually Severus stopped hanging out with us.” Lily said sadly. “He still talked to us and we knew we were still friends, but he just couldn’t hang out with us without being  a constant target for his classmates.”

“So Severus started hanging out more with the members of his own house.” Remus said. “You can imagine what that must have been like.”

“What do you mean?” Ginny asked.

“You see, the older Slytherin students took it upon themselves to make sure the younger ones had the beliefs and the views that can be expected from a Slytherin.” Remus answered. “Those kids were brainwashed from the moment they stepped foot into Hogwarts.” He had a disgusted look on his face. “They were more or less trained to join the Death Eaters.”

“We still kept contact, but then…” Sirius looked at the portrait of Harry’s parents uncomfortably.

Lily spoke up: “In our sixth year, James and I started going out.” She hesitated. “I always knew Severus had kind of a thing for me, but I had no idea…”

James sighed. “Snape was furious when he found out about Lily and I.”

“He didn’t think clearly anymore.” Lily said sadly. “He started ignoring all of us. Remus and Sirius both tried to talk to him, but to no avail.”

“Snape automatically assumed that the rest of us were siding with James.” Sirius said. “We have kept trying for months to get him to talk to us, but he hasn’t spoken a word to one of us for the rest of our time at Hogwarts.”

“The next thing we heard from him was when we all joined the Order of the Phoenix and Dumbledore told us he had taken the Dark Mark.” Remus said sombrely.

There followed a long silence while Harry and Ginny contemplated what they had heard. “Why did he return to our side?” Ginny asked finally.

“Apparently he switched sides when it became apparent Voldemort was after the Potter family.” Remus said. “But Dumbledore has kept it to himself.”

“No one of the Order knew.” Sirius said. “I only found out for myself when I talked to Dumbledore the night I was captured at Hogwarts, two years ago.”

“He regrets it.” Harry said. “It’s killing him.”

The adults looked at him inquisitively.

“You have to talk to him.” Harry continued. “This has happened so many years ago and you are all on the same side now. You should talk this out.”

Remus looked at him sombrely. “Harry, in the year I have thought at Hogwarts I have attempted to talk to Severus multiple times. My approaches were denied every time. I’m afraid he is adamant about closing that chapter in his life.”

“Well then you have to try again.” Harry said stubbornly. “If he has talked about it to me, he’ll certainly will talk about it to you. He has hated me for four years.”

“He didn’t hate you, Harry.” Remus said.

Harry laughed. “I think it was very clear for everyone to see that he did hate me.”

Sirius spoke up: “Harry, I don’t think it was as much you he hated, but the memories you brought back to him. You remind everyone of James and Lily when they see you, he wouldn’t be any different. He must have been constantly reminded by the mistakes he made in his past and the friends he lost.”

“Still.” Harry said. “I still think you should talk to him.”

Sirius nodded. “I think you’re right.”

He glanced over at Remus who was looking at him not too convinced.

“Oh alright.” Remus said. “But I never thought Harry Potter and Sirius Black would convince me to have a conversation with Severus Snape.”

Sirius told Harry a few days later that Lupin and him had talked with Snape. They had decided to bury the hatchet. They couldn’t erase everything that had happened between them in the past, but maybe someday they would be able to have a friendly relationship again. Snape had also promised Sirius he would treat Harry better than he had previously.



 

Harry enjoyed his Christmas holidays just as much as when he stayed at Hogwarts. Most of his friends were spending the holidays with him and Sirius was extremely enthusiastic about hosting Christmas. Harry was happy to see that Remus Lupin seemed very happy too. The fact that he had gotten one of his best friends back after Sirius’ name had been cleared, seemed to have given him a boost and he had never looked younger.



 

On Christmas Day after dinner, Fred finally asked Harry something he had been wondering about for quite some time now. The twins, Harry and Ginny were on the floor playing with Prongs when he said: “You never told us why you named your dog Prongs, Harry. I mean, the Marauder’s Map is brilliant and all, but why not one of the other three?”

Harry grinned. “Right, I meant to tell you guys about that.” He looked at Ginny who was grinning too.

“What do you know that we don’t?” George asked.

“Well we had the pleasure to meet the real Marauders in person.” Harry said. “You did too, actually.”

Fred and George stared at him with open-mouthed. “What are you talking about? Who are they?”

Coincidentally Sirius chose that moment to join the four teens. Harry gestured to his godfather and said: “It’s my pleasure to introduce to you the one and only Mr Padfoot.”

“No way.” George said.

“You’re yanking our wands.” Fred spoke.

Sirius laughed as he saw their shocked expressions. “Oh right, Harry told me you were the ones that found the Marauder’s Map. Nicked it from Filch’ office right? Couldn’t approve more.”

“You’re being serious, aren’t you?”

Sirius nodded. “We developed the Map back when we were at Hogwarts.”

“Moony.” Fred said slowly. He looked over at Lupin who was still seated at the table. “Of course. Lupin is Moony. It totally makes sense.”

“And Prongs was my father.” Harry stated.

“So Wormtail...” George said. “Wormtail must have been that bloke that pretended to be Scabbers right?”

They nodded. “Peter Pettigrew.” Sirius muttered.

Fred and George were deeply impressed. “You have no idea how much you have taught us.” Fred said with a wide grin.

Sirius laughed at this. “I’m glad the Map fell in the right hands to carry on the legacy of the Marauders.” he said pompously.

At that moment the fireplace lighted up and Albus Dumbledore stepped out of the fire, looking extremely worried. He looked around to see who was there and said: “I am afraid I have very bad news.”

Dumbledore told them there had been a mass break-out in Azkaban that day. It seemed like the Dementors had decided to side with Voldemort and all of the convicted Death Eaters had escaped and had probably joined their master again by now.

Harry felt anger running through him as he realized the man who had betrayed his father was free again, but the concerns of the Order members didn’t seem to be about Wormtail. He heard them talking about Death Eaters who had been in Azkaban who were just as feared and supposed to be just as cruel as Voldemort himself. Sirius told Harry, Ginny, Ron and the twins about Bellatrix Lestrange, his deranged cousin who had been Voldemort’s biggest supporter during the first wizarding war. The thought that she would join him again seemed to worry him a lot more than that Peter Pettigrew had escaped too.



 

Hermione joined them at Grimmauld Place two days after Christmas and stayed the rest of the holidays. One afternoon, three days before they would return to Hogwarts they were in the kitchen playing a game of Exploding Snap, when Dumbledore appeared via the Floo Network again. One look at his headmaster’s face told Harry something had happened again.

“What’s wrong, Albus?” Sirius asked, looking up from his game.

Dumbledore sat down at the table and looked at Harry compassionately. Harry watched his headmaster anxiously. “I am afraid I am the carrier of bad news again, Harry.” He hesitated before he continued: “This morning I received a message from St Mungo’s Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries that one of my students had been brought in with serious injuries.”

Harry needn’t hear more to realize who Dumbledore was talking about. “Jacinta?”

Dumbledore nodded. “She had been beaten severely and was in bad condition. Naturally, I went to St Mungo’s immediately to follow up on her condition – “

“Will she be alright?” Harry interrupted him. He had grown quite fond of the little girl, despite the fact that she was a Malfoy.

“Yes Harry.” Dumbledore reassured him. “She will make a full recovery soon. That is actually why I am here. She has regained consciousness a while ago, but she didn’t want to tell me anything about what happened. She did ask after you.”

Harry stood up immediately. “Well let’s go then.”

Dumbledore followed his example and they walked towards the fireplace. After a quick goodbye to his friends Harry Flood to St Mungo’s Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries.

Once they arrived in the reception area of the hospital, Harry asked: “Who brought her here?”

“Her mother.” Dumbledore answered.

Harry furrowed his brow. “Do you think her father beat her?”

“That is exactly what I think, Harry.” Dumbledore said. “But if Jacinta doesn’t want to speak about it, I am afraid there is nothing we can do. This way.”

They had arrived on the first floor and Dumbledore led him to the door on their right at the end of the hallway. “Here it is.” Dumbledore said softly. “I think it is better if you go in alone.”

Harry entered the room nervously. A female Healer was writing something down on her clipboard while she examined Jacinta. When she spotted Harry, she smiled and said: “Ah Mr Potter. It’s good that you’re here. Jacinta has been asking for you for a while.” She smiled encouragingly and left the room.

Harry sat down next to Jacinta’s bed and took her hand. He was happy to see she was sitting up with a pile of cushions in her back, but she looked as if she had been through hell. She had a turban of bandages on her head, what told him she must have been hit on the head repeatedly. Her face was bruised much worse than the first time Harry had seen her like this and there were even bruises on her arms. In her neck, Harry saw a large dark purple bruise as if someone had tried to strangle her.

“What happened to you?” Harry whispered.

Jacinta started crying silently as Harry stroked her arm carefully.

“Did you father do this to you, Jacinta?”

The girl looked at him frightfully, tears still leaking from her big grey eyes.

“I know it is hard for you to talk about,” Harry said, “but if you don’t say anything it is impossible for us to help you. And we do want to help you, Jacinta. Really, we do.”

Jacinta squeezed his hand tightly. “I don’t want to go back there.” she whispered. “I don’t want to ever go back there.”

Harry felt a lump forming in his throat as he watched her. “Was it...” he said slowly. “Was it your father?”

Jacinta hesitated, but then she nodded slowly. Harry hugged her carefully and said: “You don’t have to go back to him, I promise. I’ll make sure of that.”

Jacinta smiled weakly and buried her head in Harry’s shoulder. “Mom tried to stop him.” she said. “But he was way too strong for her.”

“Who stopped him then?” Harry asked puzzled. Narcissa Malfoy was the one that had brought Jacinta to St Mungo’s. He had automatically assumed she had been the one to stop Lucius Malfoy from killing his own daughter.

“Draco.”

“Draco?!” Harry yelled. “But who was the one that hurt you the first time then? It can’t have been your father then, you were at Hogwarts.”

“Crabbe and Goyle.”

It actually made perfect sense to Harry. Draco wasn’t the person to do his nasty chores himself. Of course he would have send Crabbe and Goyle to do the job for him. But why did he stop his father today? Maybe even Malfoy realized Lucius was taking it too far. He decided not to elaborate on the subject.

“Jacinta?” he asked carefully. “Do you think you could tell what you just told me to Professor Dumbledore? He will know what we have to do.”

Jacinta seemed scared to death but she nodded. Harry went to fetch his headmaster and Jacinta told him everything. When she was finished, Harry looked at Dumbledore and even he jumped at the expression on his face. He had never seen him look so angry and disgusted.

“I will make sure you do not have to return home.” Dumbledore said. “The Healers already said you will not be allowed to leave the hospital before the new term starts so we have until the end of the school year to make new arrangements.”

After this, the friendly Healer reappeared and asked them politely to leave, so her patient could rest. Harry smiled one last time at Jacinta, who gave him a real smile this time and exited the room together with Dumbledore.

“What will happen with her now?” Harry asked the moment the door had closed behind them.

“She will stay here for the remainder of the holidays.” Dumbledore said. “Then she will come back to Hogwarts, but she will have to stay in the hospital wing for some time, I’m afraid.”

“What about later?” Harry asked. “Where will she go when school is over?”

“The first thing I will have to do is file a complaint with the Ministry of Magic for child abuse. There will be a trial against Lucius Malfoy and if everything goes well, he will be convicted and Jacinta will be taken away from her home.”

“What if it doesn’t go well?” Harry panicked at the thought there was still a chance Jacinta would have to go back to Malfoy Manor.

“I think with this evidence there is no chance he will get out of this, Harry.” Dumbledore reassured him. “The testimony Jacinta gave me today will be useable in court as I am a senior member of the Wizengamot. A Ministry official will visit her shortly to take note of her injuries and the Healers who have treated her and will treat her will be called in to testify as well.”

Harry nodded. “And then? She won’t have to go to an orphanage, will she?”

“Not unless she is very unlucky, Harry.” Dumbledore said. “Once Malfoy is convicted, the Ministry will go looking for people who are willing to adopt her.”

“I could ask Sirius.” Harry said immediately. “Maybe he would be willing to take her in.”

“If Sirius would want to file for custody, I would strongly support that.” Dumbledore smiled. “But it’s quite a complex matter. The Wizengamot will have to consider all the pros and cons of every option and of course they will listen to the wishes of Jacinta herself. But let us not get ahead of ourselves, Harry. We have still a long way to go, before it will come to that.

Harry nodded, but decided to talk to Sirius about it anyway. “What about Draco sir? He might have stopped his father now, but the first time Jacinta was injured he wasn’t that innocent.”

“We cannot prove that, Harry.” Dumbledore said sombrely. “Jacinta told us she was attacked by Vincent Crabbe and Gregory Goyle. She did not see her brother anywhere around the incident. We will have to see what Mr Crabbe and Mr Goyle will tell us when we interrogate them.”

“What will happen to them, sir? To Crabbe and Goyle?”

Dumbledore sighed. “I expect they will be brought before Hogwarts High Court.”

“Hogwarts High Court?” Harry asked puzzled.

Dumbledore smiled slightly. “I am not surprised you have never heard of it. It has been a very long time since it was last necessary to call it together. 53 years to be exact.”

“So what is it?”

“It is sort of a law court, only it does not consist of members of the Wizengamot. The members of the Hogwarts High Court are the current Headmaster, the heads of houses, the Head Boy and Head Girl and the Prefects. And of course the members of the school board. It is only called together to determine a punishment when the offenses are too serious to let it be determined by one person. The decision to call the Court together rests with the current headmaster and the board of gouvernors. It is the only way a student can be expelled from Hogwarts, how different your teachers may want you to think”, Dumbledore added with a smirk.

“You think they’ll be expelled?” Harry asked.

“I think that would only be fair.” Dumbledore stated calmly. “Attacking a younger student in such way, with no ways of defending herself is a very low act. I think expulsion is the only suitable punishment. But as I said I cannot decide that alone.”

They had reached the reception area and Harry took the Floo Network back to Grimmauld Place. When he arrived there he was bombarded with questions from his worried friends. After he told them everything, they were appalled. Leaving his friends at the kitchen table, who were still debating the best punishments for Lucius Malfoy, Harry approached his godfather who was standing by the stove with a cup of tea.

“So you convinced her to tell Dumbledore everything?” Sirius smiled. “You did a good thing, Harry.”

“I didn’t do anything.” Harry muttered. “If I would have persisted more the first time this might not have happened.” He still felt sick if he thought of Jacinta, lying broken and bruised in a bed at St Mungo’s.

Sirius laid a hand on Harry’s shoulder. “You couldn’t have done anything, Harry. But she’s safe now and she will never have to go back to that abusive bastard.” Harry was slightly startled by the grim expression on Sirius’ face.

“When she is taken away from her home....” Harry said carefully. “She will need a new family.”

Sirius grim expression changed into a smile. “I reckon she will.”

Harry watched his godfather uncomfortably. He couldn’t just ask him to take in another child, could he?

Sirius grinned. “You never struck me as the big brother type, Harry.” he said cheekily.

Harry looked at Sirius hopefully. “Would you?”

“Let’s not get ahead of ourselves.” Sirius said. “If that girl needs a place to stay I’d be happy to take her in, but it’s not that simple. We’ll go visit her together tomorrow so I can meet her. Let’s start from there.”

Harry grinned broadly, gave his godfather a hug and walked back to his friends. Sirius watched him walk away, finding himself amazed for the millionth time at how selfless and kind-hearted that boy really was. There was no doubt in his mind that this boy was the son of Lily and James Potter.

“The wounded recognize the wounded” – Nora Roberts


Chapter 21: War Childs
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Chapter 21: War Childs

When everyone was back at Hogwarts to start the new term, Harry expected to hear a lot of rumours and gossips about the absence of Jacinta Malfoy. As Dumbledore said, she had been transferred from St Mungo’s to Hogwarts at the end of the holidays, but she was still in the hospital wing under the care of Madam Pomfrey. Still it was the second time she wasn’t able to attend classes and no one knew why. As Harry and his friends were the only ones who knew about what happened to the first year, the assault by her father was one of the few well kept secrets within Hogwarts’ walls. The only sign that still pointed to the incident was the bruised face of Draco Malfoy, undoubtedly the price he paid for trying to help his sister. Harry was still convinced that Malfoy had ordered Crabbe and Goyle to beat his own sister up the first time and he didn’t feel one bit sorry for his Slytherin nemesis.

As he promised, Sirius had visited Jacinta at St Mungo’s together with Harry. They didn’t talk with her about moving with them or even the trial that was coming up as they didn’t want to scare her. Instead, they talked about everyday things as school and Quidditch. Jacinta had looked anxious when Sirius entered her room as the adults who had been in her life up to this moment hadn’t exactly taken great care of her.  The fact that he was with Harry, however, together with the reassuring and calm demeanour Sirius had over him, reassured the girl greatly.

The fifth years weren’t blessed with an easy start after the holidays. The classes themselves weren’t really getting harder, but the homework load had even increased opposed to last term. Despite the fact that he was extremely busy keeping up with his schoolwork, Harry did keep making time for Dumbledore’s Army. Hermione had come up with a very convenient method to inform all the members of their next meeting without having to inform everyone in person. She enchanted fake coins with the Protean Charm, so that when Harry changed the date on his coin, it would immediately change on all the other coins too.

The first DA meeting was scheduled for Thursday night and when Harry and Ginny arrived in the Room of Requirement, together with Ron and Hermione, they saw almost everyone was already there. The DA had been an enormous success and although there hadn’t been need for their services yet, the meetings were the favourite time of the week for all of the members. Harry silently hoped that Dumbledore would never need them, but if he did, the DA leader knew they would be ready. The members had improved immensely over the last term, most significantly Neville Longbottom. The Gryffindor Prefect had always been self-conscious about his magic. Being named Prefect by Dumbledore, however, had given his self-esteem a boost and his skills had improved noticeably during the DA meetings.

Harry spend the first half hour of the meeting revising everything that they had been practicing before the holidays and to his happiness he saw that his members seemed to have remembered everything he taught them.

“Alright everyone!” he shouted. He waited until the last Stunning spells and jinxes had died out before he continued. “Good job everyone, really.” he praised. “I see that you have all mastered the basic duelling skills. We will keep practice duelling during our meetings, but I think you guys are ready to try some of the more advanced stuff now.”

There rose some exciting murmurs.

“Okay.” Harry said. “Do you all know what the Patronus charm is?”

Nearly everyone nodded, but Dennis Creevey said he hadn’t heard from it. Harry realized that Dennis, only a second year, had never seen the spell in class. As he came to think of it, he hadn’t either. Remus Lupin had taught him how to produce a Patronus back in third year, because Cornelius Fudge, in all his wisdom, had stationed Dementors at Hogwarts to protect the school from Sirius Black. Tonks had talked about it in her Defence Against the Dark Arts class, but they had never practiced the spell. Harry realized he was the only student he knew of who was able to produce a corporeal Patronus and he hoped he didn't start to early with it.

“Alright Dennis.” he said after shortly hesitating. “The Patronus charm is very advanced. When you are able to produce a fully-fledged Patronus, it will help you to ward off several dark creatures as Lethifolds, but most importantly, Dementors.”

“That will come in handy now they have sided with You-Know-Who.” Seamus spoke.

“I can’t believe the Ministry didn’t see this coming.” Luna said dreamily. “The Dementors were bound to betray them. They are of the same gender as Popperknockles.”

“What are Popperknockles?” Lee Jordan asked, genuinly interested.

“Never mind.” Hermione said quickly, before Luna could answer. “Go on, Harry.”

Harry realized he had been staring at Luna after her strange interruption and quickly regained his composure. “Okay right.” he said. “The incantation is Expecto Patronum. A Patronus is actually kind of an outward projection of happiness, so when you cast the spell, you will have to think of a happy memory. It will have to be powerful, so think of the happiest memory you can imagine.” He paused a minute while everyone thought of a good memory. “Now I don’t want you to think that you will master this spell just as quickly and easily as you have most of the other spells. I can’t express enough how advanced this is. It took me long to even produce a silver mist and weeks before I first produced a corporeal Patronus. There are a lot of fully qualified wizards who are not able to do it.”

“Can you show us?” Parvati asked eagerly.

Harry thought of Ginny and him on the couch in the living room at Grimmauld Place. “Expecto Patronum!”

The silver stag jumped out of the tip of his wand and galloped around the Room of Requirement. The members of the DA automatically began applauding. Harry grinned. “Okay, let’s see how you do.”

The rest of the meeting was spent by practicing the Patronus charm. Harry wasn’t surprised that only a few people were already able to produce a silver mist that lasted more than a few seconds. Nobody, not even Hermione, managed to produce a corporeal Patronus. Although Harry had warned them not to expect too much too fast, he saw that a lot of members were feeling disappointed.

“Don’t worry guys.” he encouraged them. “I’m sure you’ll get the hang of it. We’ll keep working on it until everyone gets it right.”

He dismissed the meeting and the members started gathering their things to leave. The members from Gryffindor sat down in the soft chairs that had been placed in a corner of the room, accompanied by Luna. They talked about Voldemort and the war for a while.

“I don’t understand.” Dean said suddenly. “You-Know-Who is back right? He has all his powers again. Why doesn’t he show himself in the open?”

“We believe he doesn’t want to attract attention to himself.” Hermione said after a quick glance at Harry.

“Yeah I could believe that.” Dean agreed. “But everyone already knows he’s back.”

Colin nodded. “I would understand he would want to keep quiet if the magical world didn’t know about his return, but there’s really no point now, is there? The Ministry knows about it and they are actively looking for him and his Death Eaters.”

Hermione didn’t really know what to say and looked at Harry. The latter shifted uncomfortably in his chair and hesitated. Finally he said: “We believe Voldemort doesn’t want to start an open war before he has done something.” He ignored the winces and protesting shrieks accompanying his mention of Voldemort’s name. “Something he wasn’t able to finish last time.”

“What do you mean?” Dennis asked eagerly.

Harry remained silent. He didn’t want to tell too many people about the Prophecy. He couldn’t just assume that every member of Dumbledore’s Army was as loyal as Ron, Hermione and Ginny or even the twins. On the other hand, this were his friends and if anyone within Dumbledore’s Army was completely trustworthy, it was them. Before he could say anything, Luna interrupted his thoughts.

“It’s obvious, isn’t it?” she said matter of factly. “Voldemort wants to kill Harry.”

Harry looked at his Ravenclaw friend dumbfounded. That was the last thing he expected to hear and on top of that she said Voldemort’s name. She was the only other student he ever witnessed to do that.

Luna looked around her and smiled when she saw seventeen surprised faces staring at her. “It’s only logical. Voldemort wanted to kill Harry when he was a baby. He not only failed, his power was also broken. Voldemort must think that Harry is some kind of threat to him and he probably wants to kill him before he tries to take over the country.” She looked expectantly at Harry.

Harry nodded. “That’s more or less what we were thinking.” he said softly. A long silence followed.

“How the hell did you figure that out?” Lee asked them.

“It’s quite simple.” Luna said. “It’s important to know your enemy. And I think Voldemort is pretty easy to read.”

“Would you stop saying his name?” Ron snapped.

Luna smiled at him, apparently not caring about his rudeness. “Why? It’s just a name, you know.”

Ron glared at her, but Harry said: “She’s absolutely right. She should be asking you why you don’t say his name.” He had never understood that habit in the magical world. “It’s kind of ridiculous to be afraid of a name, isn’t it?”

Harry looked at his friends and saw that they were looking confused. They had all grown up with the habit of saying You-Know-Who or He Who Must Not Be Named instead of Voldemort. They had never asked themselves any questions about it.

From that day on, the members of Dumbledore’s Army always called Voldemort by his name. Harry noticed that Muggle-born students like Hermione, Justin and the Creevey brothers had actually little trouble with it. He supposed that they had, just like him, thought it strange not to say his name, but didn’t to fit in with the magical world. The purebloods on the other hand had learned not to say his name from the moment they could talk and it wasn’t easy to quit the habit.






Saturday started off great. When Harry and Ron came downstairs in the common room, they saw that Jacinta Malfoy had been released from the hospital wing. They invited her to go downstairs for breakfast with them and Ginny and Hermione. When Harry and Ron left for Quidditch practice the younger girl grabbed his arm and whispered: “Thank you. For everything.” She gave him a quick hug and returned to her seat.

Unfortunately, the day did not end as great as it began. When Harry arrived in Dumbledore’s office for his private lesson, he received some unnerving news.

“I am afraid that Voldemort has found a way around the blood protection, Harry.” Dumbledore said.

“What?!” Harry exclaimed. “Is that even possible?”

“I am afraid so.” Dumbledore said gravely. “It is an ancient potion. Naturally, Voldemort has instructed Professor Snape to brew it for him. He does, however, lack one very important ingredient.”

Harry could already guess what ingredient Voldemort needed. “My blood.”

Dumbledore nodded. “Unfortunately, that has not only put Voldemort in a tight spot, but us as well.”

“How, sir?”

“He has instructed Professor Snape with the task to obtain it from you.” Dumbledore said sombrely.

Harry felt his heart sink. He only saw three options. Snape would have to refuse to perform his task and openly show his allegiance to the Order of the Phoenix, or he would have to tell Voldemort the task was impossible to fulfil, which would probably mean his death. Or…

“He has to do it.”

Dumbledore looked up at Harry, but didn’t seem surprised. “I expected you would say that.”

“It’s the only way, isn’t it? He can’t refuse without openly showing his loyalty to you and the Order. The Order would lose its only spy.”

Dumbledore nodded slowly. Harry knew that his headmaster had also arrived at that conclusion before he told Harry about it, but he didn’t want Harry to do it. On the other hand, Severus Snape was an extremely useful spy. If they lost him, it would be a major setback for the Order of the Phoenix. Sending another person to try to infiltrate Voldemort’s inner circle would be too dangerous.

“Are you sure about this, Harry?”

Harry remained silent for a minute. He had really relied on the blood protection. He knew he was in danger, but he had always felt kind of safe, knowing that Voldemort couldn’t hurt him. For a moment he felt as stupid as Goyle for even considering giving Voldemort exactly what he wanted. But it seemed to be the only way. Then he nodded and was already preparing himself for the lecture he would receive from Ginny and Hermione.

When he arrived in the Gryffindor Common Room later that night, he saw that it was already empty. Almost empty. Ginny lay curled up like a cat in front of the fire, obviously waiting for him to get back. Harry sat down on the couch and put Ginny’s legs on his lap. “Hey.”

“Hey.” Ginny smiled. “How was your lesson?”

Harry decided he’d better get it over with. He braced himself and told his girlfriend about the potion and Snape.

Ginny narrowed her eyes. “That’s ridiculous, Harry. You can’t do that.”

Harry gulped. “I already did.”

Ginny sat up straight at once and looked at him outraged. He saw her ears turning slowly red and braced himself for what was coming. “You already did? What were you thinking? You couldn’t at least talk to me about it first?”

“There was really not much to talk about, Ginny.” Harry said. “I had no choice.”

Ginny growled. “I can’t believe Dumbledore made you do that.”

“He didn’t make me do anything. He didn’t even suggest it. I did.”

“You suggested it?” Ginny shrieked and Harry realized he had said something stupid again. “You just decided to give up the only protection you have against Voldemort and you didn’t even think to discuss it with your friends or – I don’t know – your girlfriend?”

She jumped up from the couch and glared at him. Then, without another word, she marched over to the door that led to the girls dormitories and disappeared out of sight. Harry sighed and leaned back into the sofa. He suddenly realized that he had his first real fight with Ginny. He decided he didn’t like it one bit.



The following morning Harry told Ron and Hermione about the potion and Snape. They didn’t like it either, nor the fact he had acted without talking to them, but seemed to understand better than Ginny. Harry didn’t see her all day until she walked into the common room late Sunday night, with her broom over her shoulder. Harry was the only one still awake in the common room, accept for the Creevey brothers. One look of Ginny in their direction was enough for them to quickly disappear to the boys dormitories.

“Hi.” Harry said warily.

“Hey.” Ginny said while she sat beside him. She felt slightly guilty when she saw Harry’s cautiousness. “Look, I’m sorry I lashed out at you yesterday.”

“That’s alright.” Harry mumbled.

“I know you really had no choice.” Ginny continued. “But you still should have talked to me first. I’m your girlfriend, Harry, you can’t decide everything on your own.”

“I know I should have talked to you, Ginny.” Harry said. “You’re right. You are my girlfriend. I guess I’m still not used to it yet.”

Despite the fact that they had been going on for almost a year, Harry still felt as a rookie when it came to relationships. Ginny was his first girlfriend after all. He didn’t even go as far as a kiss on the cheek with any other girl. Except for Hermione of course, but that didn’t really count.

Ginny smiled for the first time that day. She took Harry’s hand. “Well in that case, I think you need to practice as much as you can.”

She leaned in and pressed her lips softly to Harry’s. After she pulled away, Harry said: “So we’re okay then?”

“Oh yes, we are.” And together they sank down onto the couch.






The day after Harry and Ginny’s one year anniversary, Gryffidor’s second game of the Quidditch season was planned. They would be playing Hufflepuff. The expectations after the demolition of Slytherin in the first match were sky-high. Hufflepuff had lost their first game against Ravenclaw without a chance. After the graduation of their captain, Cedric Diggory, the team had fallen apart. The new captain, Zacharias Smith, didn’t live up to his predecessor.

“And we’re off.” Lee Jordan shouted excitedly as Madam Hooch threw the Quaffle up in the air. Smith immediately grasped it and ten seconds later, Ron was beaten for the first time in his career.

The game went on and it became clear Zacharias Smith had given quite a pep-talk before the match. The Hufflepuff Chasers were easily outmatching the Gryffindor Chasers and despite some spectacular saves from Ron, the score quickly rose to 80-10 for Hufflepuff.

When Katie scored the second goal of the match for Gryffindor, Harry spotted the Golden Snitch. It was flying after the Gryffindor goalposts. He glanced over at Summerby, the Hufflepuff Seeker. He was floating over the stands where the teachers sat and obviously hadn’t spotted the Snitch yet. Harry raced towards the goalposts. The Snitch sped off towards the ground. Harry dived sharply. Stebbins who had seen Harry was racing towards him from the other end of the pitch. When he finally spotted the Snitch, it was already too late. Harry pulled up from his dive with his fist triumphantly raised in the air.

He was met in the middle of the pitch by the rest of the team. Angelina hugged him tightly and said: “You saved us once again, Harry. We were getting slaughtered out there.”

Despite the fact that the performance of the team wasn’t at all that good, Gryffindor was now comfortably in the lead for the Quidditch Cup.The party in Gryffindor common room again lasted until late in the night.






Life had never been more busy for Harry. Between his classes, homework, Quidditch and private lessons with both Dumbledore and Snape he barely had time for anything else. He spend as much time with Ginny and Ron and Hermione as he could, but he barely had time to hang out with his other friends. Therefore it took him quite some time before he noticed that Neville was acting rather strangely. He barely spoke with anyone but Luna, who was his best friend. He never participated in classes, didn’t talk to anyone in the common room and the only thing he did during the meetings of Dumbledore’s Army was work. That was of course the point of the DA, but the members generally considered it also as a time to have fun with their friends.

When Harry asked Ron about it, his friend merely shrugged. “I don’t know, mate. He’s been kind of depressed lately. Ever since we came back after Christmas actually.”

“Maybe we should talk to him.” Harry said.

“Already did man.” Seamus said as he was listening from his bed. “We’ve been trying to get something out of him for weeks now. He still just talks when you start a conversation with him, but when you ask him what’s wrong he shuts down.”

The mystery of the behaviour of Neville Longbottom was quickly joined by another mystery. The behaviour of another sixth year. Harry had noticed that Draco Malfoy seemed to have distanced himself from his friends. He still sat with the Slytherins during classes, but Harry had encountered him by himself a couple of times in the hallways. Those encounters also weren’t accompanied by the usual insults or taunts. Harry wondered if he maybe was not a copy of his father after all, but then he thought of Jacinta’s face as she lay in St Mungo’s and was reminded by the fact that Malfoy had sent his goonies to beat his own little sister up.

There was a new Hogsmeade weekend coming up, but first, on Friday night, there was another DA meeting.

They were still working on the Patronus charm. Everyone, even Dennis Creevey, was now able to produce a silver mist that didn’t vanish immediately, but Harry was still the only one who could produce a corporeal Patronus.

Harry walked around the Room, inspecting and helping his classmates. He inadvertently admired Neville’s dedication as he saw his sweaty face. Suddenly a silver otter formed itself in the middle of the room. There fell a silence.

“I did it!” Hermione squealed. “I actually did it!”

The whole room burst into applause. Harry grinned broadly. “Great job, Hermione. Brilliant!” he said as he patted her on the back. Hermione reddened slightly as he whispered: “I never doubted you’d be the first.”

After the meeting Harry, Ginny, Ron and Hermione were talking about their plans for Hogsmeade the day after when they were approached by Angelina Johnson.

“Is everything alright with Neville?” she asked. She nodded towards the wall with pictures, where Neville stood by himself. At first, there only hung a picture of the Order of the Phoenix, but the members of Dumbledore’s Army had decorated the wall with many pictures that were taken by Colin Creevey during the meetings.

“He’s been acting a bit… strange lately.” Hermione said softly. “We try to get him to say something, but it’s like he wants to shut himself off from us.”

Angelina nodded slowly. “We should go talk to him.”

The small group walked hesitantly over to Neville. Angelina put a hand on his shoulder. “You want to talk, Neville?”

To the surprise of the other four, he nodded. “She escaped.” he said softly.

Angelina looked at the younger student compassionately. “I know.” she said. “But she will pay for it. I'm sure about that.”

Harry didn’t have a clue what they were talking about. Suddenly, Neville seemed to realize that they were there too. He looked down and said: “Bellatrix Lestrange.”

“The Death Eater?” Hermione asked.

Neville nodded. Harry looked at Angelina and said carefully: “Wasn’t she the one who…”

“Who killed my parents, yes.” Angelina completed his question. She looked at Neville as if asking for permission, who nodded. “You remember when I said Bellatrix Lestrange was leading a little group of Death Eaters after the fall of Voldemort to search for him?”

“Yeah...” Harry said slowly. “You said they went after Aurors, because they believed the Ministry knew where Voldemort was.”

Angelina nodded and looked over at Neville. He shuffled his feet and said: “My parents were Aurors too.”

Harry felt a heavy weight fall into his stomach. Neville had been raised by his grandmother. He knew that, Neville had said so himself, but he had never wondered why. And now he knew. Neville was an orphan, just like him. His parents were killed when he was just a baby, he couldn’t have been much older than Harry was when he lost his parents.

“They were – ” Ginny stammered. “They were killed too?” Neville slowly shook his head.

“They weren’t that lucky.” Angelina grumbled.

“What do you mean?” Hermione asked. Her voice was not much louder than a whisper.

“Bellatrix Lestrange was convinced that my parents knew where V-Voldemort was.” Neville said. “So she tortured them.” He paused and gulped. His voice was shaking when he continued: “She used the Cruciatus Curse on them. She was determined to torture them until they would give her the information.”

Harry’s head was spinning. Ron was white as a sheet and Ginny and Hermione had tears in their eyes.

“They knew nothing.” Neville said harshly. “They couldn’t give her what she wanted, so she kept on torturing them.” Tears appeared in his eyes too. Angelina put a comforting arm around his shoulders. “Until they snapped.”

“They – “ Harry whispered. “They snapped? But you said they weren’t killed?”

“They weren’t.” Neville said. “They’re still alive today, but they don’t even know it themselves.” They looked at him dumbfounded. “They have lost their minds. They are at St Mungo’s. On a closed ward, because they are a danger to themselves and others.” Tears were now streaming down his face. “They don’t even recognize me.”

Harry felt sick. He looked at the photograph of the Order of the Phoenix and saw Frank and Alice Longbottom, smiling and waving happily at them. Not knowing what they would have to endure later. He stepped to Neville and gave him a firm hug.

“I’m sorry, Neville.” he said. “I can’t believe we never knew.”

“I didn’t want you to know”, Neville said calmly. “I was afraid of how you guys would react. I had a hard enough time to fit in here as it was.”

Harry looked at Ron and saw that his best mate felt just as guilty as he did. They had always liked Neville, but during their first years at Hogwarts they had often teased him and laughed with him. They never bullied him or anything from the sort and it was always good-natured, but they knew Neville had a hard time fitting in back then and they could have done much more to help him.

“They are heroes, Neville.” Angelina said firmly.

“I know they are.” Neville answered. “Gran told me a lot of their achievements during the wizarding war. I’m proud to be their son. And I’m glad I told you. I just don’t think the whole school should know about this.”

They all nodded. They knew exactly what Neville would have to endure from the Slytherins if they knew about his parents.

Harry looked at Neville and Angelina and knew that these two people had suffered just as much at the hands of Voldemort as he himself had. He had always thought he stood out because of his past. Sure that scar on his forehead meant that he was unique in his way, but he now knew that the war had touched many more lives. There were so many more people like him and Angelina and Neville out there. He just didn’t always know about it.

When he stepped into bed that night, he made a vow. It was all because of Voldemort. He had ruined so many people, in so many different ways. He had to be stopped. Harry knew he was far from ready to fight him, but he knew that one day, he would. I’m going to kill you, Tom, he thought, as he turned on his side. I promise you I will kill you.

“Only the dead have seen the end of war” – Plato


Chapter 22: Fallen
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Chapter 22: Fallen

 

Harry, Ginny, Ron and Hermione had planned to go to Hogsmeade together and were joined at the last moment by Neville and Luna. After a quick visit at Honeydukes Sweet Shop (mainly for Ron’s benefit), they made their way to the Three Broomsticks to warm themselves up with a Butterbeer. They found an empty table in the corner of the tavern and sat down contently.

 

“I’m surprised Dumbledore still allows us to come to Hogsmeade.” Ron said. “With Voldemort being back and all.”  

 

“Well he has been laying low for now, hasn’t he?” Hermione said. “He probably wouldn’t attack Hogsmeade with Dumbledore so close.” 

 

“But is he?” Ginny wondered. “He has been away a lot lately. I haven’t seen him at all this week." 

 

Harry nodded. He knew Dumbledore had left the school on various occasions. He had tried to ask him where he went during his private lessons, but his headmaster had merely said Harry would find out in time. Dumbledore was still teaching Harry advanced magic that would help him in combat, but he had also talked to Harry many times about Tom Riddle when he was at Hogwarts. He apparently thought it was important for Harry to know as much as possible about his enemy.  

 

They had been sitting in the Three Broomsticks for about an hour when they heard screams coming from the High Street. Harry, Ron, Hermione and Ginny immediately jumped from their seats with their wands drawn, quickly followed by Neville and Luna. Harry noticed that about half of the tavern had followed their example. Apparently, the better part of Dumbledore’s Army had been sitting in the Three Broomsticks as well.

 

Madam Rosmerta quickly ran to the door to see what was going on. She paled when she saw what was happening. “Death Eaters!”, she screamed, terrified.

Harry ran to the door and saw that a large group of at least forty Death Eaters had apparated into Hogsmeade and were attacking innocent bystanders. His heart dropped when he saw Seamus Finnigan and Dean Thomas were under attack from four masked Death Eaters and were struggling to keep up with them. Without thinking he made to go outside to help them, but Madam Rosmerta grabbed his arm and pulled him back.

“Don’t be silly, Harry, you can’t go out there.” she said with a shaking voice. “We all have to stay inside and secure the building.”

Harry nodded. “Yes, you do that. But I am going to help my friends."

His five companions made to follow, but Harry told them to stay inside and keep safe.

“Like hell we will.” Ron said.

“We’re with you, Harry.” Ginny said, looking at him determinately.

Harry wanted to protest, but Neville cut him off: “We’re Dumbledore’s Army, Harry. This is what we have been training for. We can’t hide now.”

Harry looked around the tavern and saw that all the DA members that had been sitting there were standing with their wands drawn, ready to follow him.

 

“Alright then.” he said. He turned to Colin Creevey. “Colin, once you are outside, I don’t want you to fight – “

 

Colin cut him off immediately: “I can fight!”

 

“I know you can.” Harry said. “But I need you to go to Hogwarts as fast as you can to alert the teachers. We are going to need help. Try to find McGonagall or Snape if you can.”

 

Then, he turned to Anthony, Michael and Terry and said: “I need you three to give him cover. Make sure he gets out of here safely before you help others.” The three Ravenclaw fifth years nodded.

 

“Alright.” Harry said. “The rest of you, follow me. I don’t want you to seek unnecessary danger. Protect everyone who needs it. Don’t attack blindly. If you have stunned or petrified one of them, make sure you tie them up, so they can’t re-join the fight when they wake up.”

 

He was afraid his friends didn’t really know what they were getting into, but when he saw their determinate faces, he knew he wouldn’t be able to talk them out of it. “Let’s go.”

 

Harry lead them outside and saw to his surprise that other members of Dumbledore’s Army had already joined the fight. Hannah Abbot and Ernie Macmillan had come to the aid of Dean and Seamus. Seamus was still standing, but Dean was on the ground, bleeding profusely from his head.

 

He saw a Death Eater fire a Killing Curse towards him. “Protego Yomorus!” Harry yelled.

 

A big gold shield appeared before Dean and the green beam bounced away and hit another Death Eater in the back. The Death Eater who had fired the Killing Curse turned to him and pointed her wand at him.

 

“Well if it isn’t the great Harry Potter.” a female voice sneered. “I see you have been training with Dumbledore. He is the only one who can block unforgivable curses after all.”

 

She pulled her mask from her face and Harry recognised Bellatrix Lestrange, Sirius’ cousin and one of Voldemort’s most trusted Death Eaters. A blind hatred took over his mind. “Stupefy!” he shouted.

 

Bellatrix blocked his spell easily and laughed. “You want to play do you, dear Harry? I am afraid we don’t have time for games. I’m here to take you to my master.”

 

A familiar voice spoke up behind Harry’s back. “I’m afraid your master will have to wait a little longer.”

 

Harry turned around and saw that Neville had come to his aid. Bellatrix took advantage of this moment of inadvertency and quickly shot a binding spell at him, which was blocked by Neville.

 

“Well... Who might you be?”

 

“Neville Longbottom.” Neville said blatantly.

 

The eyes of Bellatrix dilated in recognition before she started laughing tauntingly

 

“Oh, I had the pleasure to meet your parents, dear boy. How are mum and dad?"

 

They started duelling heatedly. Bellatrix was outmatched two to one, but she held her own quite easily. She was an extremely talented and heartless witch, but she didn’t manage to incapacitate either of the younger boys, until suddenly she managed to disarm Neville. She instantly followed the disarming spell with a Cruciatus Curse and Neville writhed on the cobblestones in pain.

 

“Stupefy!” Harry yelled, at the exact same moment as someone from behind Bellatrix.

 

The two stunners hit her simultaneously and she was blown back from the force of the spells and disappeared behind Katie Bell and Alicia Spinnet who were taking on four Death Eaters. Harry saw Angelina Johnson standing before him, wand in hand.

 

“Thought you might want some help.” she said simply.

 

“Didn’t need it though.” Harry grinned. “I had her.”

 

“Sure you did." Angelina smirked. “Duck!”, she yelled and pulled Harry to the ground as two Killing Curses flew over their heads.

 

“That I did need.” Harry mumbled. Angelina grinned.

 

They weren’t able to catch their breath as they were immediately engaged in a duel with five more Death Eaters. Neville had jumped to his feet again and came to their aid. They were able to take two of the five out and tie them up, before a series of pops announced the arrival of a large group of wizards. Harry’s heart sank as he thought that a Death Eater had left to get reinforcements, but then he saw Tonks and Lupin appear hand in hand to his right.

 

“Wotcher, Harry!” Tonks said cheerfully, before she easily took out a third Death Eater.

 

Harry looked around and saw that members of the Order of the Phoenix were helping the students and teachers from Hogwarts and inhabitants from Hogsmeade.

 

“About time.” Harry said.

 

The remaining Death Eaters were rounded up quickly. The two Death Eaters who were still standing were now outnumbered five to two against Harry and his friends, but they didn’t give up without a fight.

 

A Reductor Curse fired by someone behind them blew of the mask of the shortest of the Death Eaters and Harry was shocked to see the face of Peter Pettigrew.

 

Lupin’s face hardened when he saw his former friend and yelled: “Animagus Dolorius!"

 

Harry realized Lupin had prevented Pettigrew from turning to his animal form, so he wouldn’t be able to escape this time.

 

Harry and Lupin duelled Pettigrew, while Neville, Angelina and Tonks took on the other Death Eater. When the latter was incapacitated they joined the other duel and Pettigrew , who was barely holding his own against Harry and Lupin knew he was cornered. Instead of surrendering, he used the last means of resistance he had: “Avada Kedavra!”

 

Harry saw a body crumple to the ground in the corner of his eye when it was hit with the green beam of light from Pettigrew’s wand. A blind rage and hatred took over his mind. “Reducto!”

 

The Reductor Curse was so powerful Pettigrew was blown backwards and hit the brick wall of a house headfirst. A sickening crunch of skull against stone told Harry that the man who had betrayed his parents couldn’t possibly have survived. He was shaken for a moment by the fact that he had killed a man. Then he remembered that one of his friends had been struck by a Killing Curse from the now fallen Death Eater.

 

He turned around and felt his heart sink to his stomach when he saw Neville and Lupin kneeling by the lifeless body of Angelina Johnson.



 

“Where was Dumbledore?” Ron asked gruffly. “He should have been there.”

 

“He isn’t at school, according to McGonagall.” Ginny answered. “No one knows where he is. He probably still doesn’t know what happened."

 

Ginny, Ron, Hermione and Luna had all suffered minor injuries during the battle. Though not seriously harmed, Madam Pomfrey wanted them to stay the night in the hospital wing. Neville also stayed as he was still suffering from the after effects of the Cruciatus Curse.

 

There were no members of Dumbledore’s Army that were gravely injured. Dean and Seamus were in the hospital wing too, as were Hannah Abbott and Terry Boot, but they would all be allowed to leave in the morning. The scars that were left by the loss of one of their members would be much more difficult to heal.

 

Harry and Neville were probably affected the most by Angelina’s death, as they were there fighting with her when it happened. Especially the fact that she died when the fight was almost over and they thought they would be safe hit them hard. A terrible feeling of guilt plagued Harry as he realized this would not have happened if he had told everyone to stay in the Three Broomsticks and to secure the building.

 

Harry’s friends didn’t really know what to say to him. As they knew Harry, they realized he would be beating himself up and blaming himself. They wanted to comfort him and tell him it wasn’t his fault, but Harry seemed to have shut himself off from them. When he had returned to the school, he had rushed to the hospital wing to see if everyone else was alright, but he hadn’t spoken a word since he verified that all the other DA members would be fine.

 

After sitting silently with his friends for a while, he stood up without a word and left the hospital wing. He walked slowly to Gryffindor Tower and locked himself in the fifth year boys dormitory. The only advantage of the fact his friends were in the hospital wing was that he had the room for himself. He really didn’t want to see anyone.

 

He lied down on his bed and he grieved for his fallen friend. Angelina, the though Quidditch captain with the big mouth, but with a very good heart. He remembered Angelina comforting Neville the night before and her telling Harry about her parents in the Room of Requirement last fall. It was a soft spot Harry had never seen of her, but it was there. But now she was gone. She would never cheek him again, never lash out at the twins because they were goofing around at Quidditch practice. Tears were streaming down his cheeks when he fell asleep.

 

“Death is harder on those who are left behind” – Robert La Fosse


Chapter 23: It Has Begun
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Chapter 23: It Has Begun


HOGSMEADE UNDER ATTACK

by Rita Skeeter

Last Saturday a large group of followers of He Who Must Not Be Named, commonly known as Death Eaters have attacked Hogsmeade, the only all wizarding village in the country. On the moment of the attack, the village was visited by students of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The reasons for the attack remain unclear, although many people believe that it was orchestrated with the purpose of capturing Harry Potter, who was also visiting Hogsmeade at the moment of the attack.

The Death Eaters were met by a group of students of Hogwarts, who were supposedly under the command of Harry Potter. They were quickly aided by Aurors and Hogwarts teachers. Unfortunately, one Hogwarts student found the death. Three Death Eaters have also been killed.

After some deep research we can uncover that the group of students that followed The Boy Who Lived into battle is known as Dumbledore’s Army. Many students of Hogwarts know of the existence of the group, but no one actually knows what their purpose is. The name of the group, however, indicates that it has been founded by Albus Dumbledore, current headmaster of the school, who was absent at the moment of the attack. Where Dumbledore was and why he apparently wasn’t able to help and protect his students is a question the Ministry of Magic will surely want to investigate thoroughly.

Hermione made a disgusted noise as she threw her copy of the Sunday Prophet on the table. She had been reading the article to Harry, Ginny and Ron at breakfast the morning after the attack.

“I can’t believe they blame Dumbledore.” Harry grumbled. It was one of the first things he had said since he had left the hospital wing the day before. “It’s like he could have known this was going to happen.”

“Of course he couldn’t have known, Harry.” Hermione said carefully. “But no one knows where he was. I think many parents will ask themselves the same question as that Skeeter woman.”

“Don’t you dare blame Dumbledore for this.” Harry blurted out. Although he had had the same thoughts at several moments, he didn’t want anyone to think bad of his headmaster.

“Of course I don’t blame him!” Hermione looked affronted. “I’m just saying that maybe if he had been here it would have been over sooner and – “

“And Angelina wouldn’t have died? Is that what you’re saying?” Harry asked aggressively. “Dumbledore will be blaming himself hard enough, Hermione. He doesn’t need you for that.”

He made to stand up and leave the Great Hall, but Ginny lay a hand on his arm. “Don’t go, Harry.” she said soothingly. “Hermione didn’t mean it like that, you know she didn’t.”

Harry looked at his best female friend who looked extremely anxious and suddenly felt bad for snapping at her. “I’m sorry.” he mumbled.

Ron changed the topic with a tactfulness that hadn’t been known until this day. “Well, so much for secrecy then.” he said, still looking nervously between his two best friends. “Skeeter found out about the DA.”

“You think someone blabbed?” Ginny asked.

“That’s impossible.” Hermione said quietly, still looking a bit nervous. “Everyone signed a magical contract.”

“Maybe you made a mistake.” Ron said. “It is very advanced magic to set up such a contract.”

“I don’t think so.” Harry said before Hermione could protest. “Look at the article. Skeeter is just writing about a group of students who call themselves Dumbledore’s Army. She doesn’t know anything about the purpose of the group. I’m sure some students have already heard the name. We’ve been talking about it openly quite a few times, haven’t we? And surely everyone who was at Hogsmeade must have noticed we weren’t just a random selection of students who joined the fight.”

Hermione smiled at him gratefully and Harry felt relieved. He had been afraid Hermione would be angry with him for lashing out at her like that, but he realized she wasn’t one to hold a grudge.

“I agree.” Ginny said. “I couldn’t think of anyone either. Even Smith has been rather civil lately.”

She looked at Harry, expecting him to act mockingly jealous like he normally would, but he didn’t give a reaction whatsoever.

“Yeah.” Ron said. “I can’t believe he actually fought yesterday. I didn’t think he would have the guts.”

Harry suddenly stood from his seat. “I’m going back to the common room.” he informed them flatly.

Ginny looked at him worriedly. “Do you want me to come with you?”

“No, I have some homework to do.” And without another word he turned around and left the Great Hall.

“He’s really taking it hard isn’t he?” Hermione said softly. “Angelina?”

Ginny nodded. “He’s blaming himself of course. No matter what I say, he keeps thinking she would still be alive if it weren’t for him. He doesn’t say much, but I can see it.” She sighed.

“What?” Ron asked astounded. “Why?”

“Honestly, Ron.” Hermione sighed. “You’ve known Harry long enough, haven’t you? Of course he’s blaming himself.”

“But how could this be his fault? Pettigrew killed her, didn’t he?”

“Yes.” Ginny said. “But he thinks if he hadn’t started Dumbledore’s Army, she wouldn’t have died. And he was fighting alongside her when it happened. He thinks if he had taken Pettigrew out sooner, Angelina would still be alive.”

“He did everything he could.” Ron protested.

“We know that, Ron, but you know how Harry thinks.” Hermione said. She turned to Ginny. “So Pettigrew’s really dead then?”

Ginny nodded. “He was still alive when the Healers arrived and they took him to St Mungo’s. They intended to treat him there, before he was healthy and could be taken back to Azkaban, but he died after a couple of hours. Harry got an owl from Sirius last night.”

“He’s probably beating himself up over that too.” Hermione said concernedly.

Ginny nodded again. “He knows he didn’t mean to kill him, but well… it was his curse.” She paused before she softly said: “He thinks he’s no better than V-Voldemort or his Death Eaters. I think in some way this is harder for him than we can imagine.”




Harry didn’t show himself for the rest of the day and his friends knew better than to force their company on him. They knew if Harry separated himself from everyone, it wouldn’t do to bug him. It meant he just wanted to be alone for a few hours and he would come back on his own accord. But when they came back from dinner, he still hadn’t left his dormitory.

Harry lie on his back on his bed with a book on his chest he hadn’t opened all day. The only thing that he had done was just lie there and think about the events that occurred the day before. The images of the battle played before his eyes over and over again. Neville being tortured by Bellatrix Lestrange, Angelina falling to the Killing Curse of Peter Pettigrew, the same Pettigrew being blown backwards against a wall and dying because of Harry’s actions. Maybe that was the toughest thing to process. He was no longer an innocent teenager, he was a killer. He didn’t spoke the curse with the intention to kill his opponent, but still. It were Harry’s actions that ended Peter Pettigrew’s life. Harry felt like he had crossed a line and that he would never be able to go back to the other side again. Maybe Voldemort was right back in first year when Harry stopped him from stealing the Philosopher’s Stone. Maybe he wasn’t as good as everyone thought he was. Maybe he was a dark wizard.

He had barely noticed it was already dark outside. Suddenly someone softly knocked on the door of the dormitory. Harry rolled his eyes, but didn’t answer. It was probably Hermione trying to get him to talk to her about everything. Ron and Ginny knew perfectly when to leave Harry with his thoughts. Hermione did too most of the time, but she usually felt so bad about it that she still tried to get Harry to talk to her.

After a few moments, the door slowly opened and Sirius entered. “Hey kiddo.” he said softly.

“Sirius!” Harry said surprised. “What are you doing here?”

“I wanted to talk to you.” he said.

Harry narrowed his eyes. “Did Hermione send you an owl?” he asked suspiciously.

Sirius laughed his bark-like laugh. “She didn’t.” he answered. “Kind of surprised me. She was terribly relieved when I showed up downstairs though.”

He sat down at the foot of Harry’s bed and said: “I kind of forced Dumbledore to let me come. I needed to talk to you after what happened.” He remained silent for a few moments before he said: “Quite of an appearance I made. A lot of your housemates were apparently anticipating a murder attempt.”

Although Sirius had been cleared of all charges and his name had been cleared publicly, it was still strange for some people to see him in public. They had been hearing he was a dangerous mass murderer for fourteen years after all.

“I’m sorry I didn’t see you yesterday, Harry.” Sirius said. “I was on a secret mission for the Order of the Phoenix and I only heard about the attack when I returned to Grimmauld Place in the late afternoon.”

Harry nodded.

“I’m really sorry to hear about your friend.”

Harry felt tears sting behind his eyes, but was determined not to cry. “You knew her parents, didn’t you?”

Sirius nodded. “They were in the Order of the Phoenix. Extremely talented witch and wizard. Two of the finest Aurors the Ministry had back then. Together with Frank and Alice of course.”

“Neville’s parents?”

“Yes.” Sirius said slowly. “He told you about them then?” Harry nodded and Sirius sighed. “Poor guys. I sometimes think I’ve got it the easiest of all of us.”

Harry hardly thought that twelve years in Azkaban could be categorized as easy, but he didn’t elaborated. “So you heard about Pettigrew then?” he asked softly.

Sirius nodded. “Dumbledore told me you were the one that…”

“Killed him.” Harry finished.

Sirius noticed his godson had a haunted look on his face and knew he had been right to come. Although Harry would never say it, Sirius knew he felt extremely guilty about killing Pettigrew. He remembered how James had acted after he first had killed a Death Eater.

“First of all, Harry’, he said, carefully pondering his words. “You didn’t mean to kill him. The intention is always more important than the action. Remember that.”

“Yes, but he’s dead.” Harry said. “He’s dead because of me. What does that make me? Am I any better than Voldemort?”

“I think you can answer that for yourself, Harry.” Sirius said calmly. “When you realized you had killed Pettigrew, how did you feel?”

Harry remained silent for quite some time, but Sirius didn’t do anything to break that silence. “Horrible.” Harry finally admitted.

“And that’s exactly what makes you so different from Voldemort, Harry!” Sirius said firmly. “Do you think Voldemort feels anything if he kills someone, however innocent or young that person may be? Do you think he ever thinks of their faces again? Of course he doesn’t. You killed Peter Pettigrew inadvertently Harry, a man who has taken so much from you and is responsible for so much of what you have been through, but here you are feeling extremely bad about it. I’m not saying you shouldn’t feel that way, cause I know better than anyone you don’t choose to. But it proofs that you are a more good-hearted and admirable person than Voldemort or any one of his Death Eaters will ever be.”

Sirius’ little speech was followed by a long silence. Harry thought about what his godfather had said. He still hated the fact that he was responsible for the death of another person, but he knew that this was a war and death was inevitable. And if he was the only one who would be able to kill Voldemort, he would be facing a lot more Death Eaters and battles in the future before he got to him.

“He wasn’t the last one, was he?” he asked flatly.

Sirius looked at him sympathetically. “I’m afraid not. This was the first time the Death Eaters have openly showed themselves since Voldemort returned. There are bound to be other attacks soon. There will probably come times that you have no other choice than to take a life, Harry, but there is nothing we can do about that. Your safety and the safety of your friends always comes first.”

Harry nodded. Voldemort had been laying low until yesterday. He knew what the attack on Hogsmeade meant. Snape had given Voldemort his blood and had finished the potion. Voldemort was now able to harm him. The only thing he didn’t understand was why Voldemort didn’t come to Hogsmeade himself.

When he asked Sirius, he merely shrugged. “Voldemort rarely shows himself. During the last war I only saw him twice. He usually lets the Death Eaters do his dirty work.”

“Do you think I did a stupid thing?” Harry asked tentatively. “Giving my blood?”

“Oh right.” Sirius said. “Well, I wasn’t happy about it, I must admit, but Dumbledore talked to me and I think you did the right thing. Voldemort was bound to find a way around the protection one way or another and this way we still have our spy. And I am fully confident you’ll be able to defeat him one day without the protection.”

Harry looked at him sceptically. “He’s so powerful”, he said. “And I’m just.. I’m just me.”

“Well, I think ‘just you’ is pretty powerful as well.” Sirius said.

“I’m nothing special.” Harry said. “I’m just an average student.”

“You are.” Sirius agreed. “But I think that’s mainly because your priorities are more outside the classroom.” He grinned. “Besides, Remus told me all about your achievements when he taught you Defence Against the Dark Arts, Harry.” Sirius said more seriously. “He said you were by far the top student in your year and better than a lot of the older students. He said even your parents couldn’t have matched your level and that is saying something.”

After a short silence Sirius said: “Well, there’s someone outside who’s been dying to see you. You think you’re up for some younger company than me?”

Harry nodded. Sirius walked over to the door and opened it. Jacinta Malfoy entered the room anxiously. When she saw Harry sitting on the edge of his bed, she didn’t seem to be able to withhold herself anymore. She ran towards him and hugged him tightly.

A smile appeared on Harry’s face for the first time since the previous morning. “Hi.” he mumbled as Sirius sat back down on the edge of Ron’s bed.

“I was so worried.” Jacinta said with a small voice.

“It’s alright. I’m okay." Harry said reassuringly, but Jacinta seemed reluctant to let go of him. Harry didn’t realize he had had such an impact on the girl.

 Harry’s stomach grumbled and he realized he hadn’t eaten anything since breakfast. Sirius laughed. “Let’s go down to the kitchen, I bet those house elves are still as helpful as they used to be right?”

Harry grinned. “Don’t let Hermione hear you.”

Sirius laughed loudly. “You want to come?” he asked Jacinta.

“I can’t” she answered softly. “It’s passed curfew for the first years.”

“No problem.” Harry said, as he pulled his Invisibility Cloak out of his trunk. “I think it’ll cover both of us.”

As he saw Harry standing there with his Cloak, Sirius got hit by a memory of James standing in that precise dormitory holding the same Cloak. His smile faded.

“Something wrong?” Harry asked.

“Nah.” Sirius answered quickly. “I’m glad the Marauders still have their heirs in these halls.”

Harry laughed, but when he followed his godfather to the door, Harry thought about what Sirius had said before Jacinta had come in. Just before they entered the common room he stopped. “It has begun, hasn’t it? The second wizarding war?”

Sirius stopped too and looked more serious than Harry had ever seen him. “Yes. It has begun.”




“Come in, Potter.”

Harry entered Snape’s office for the umpteenth time that year. His lessons had improved dramatically since Snape had been acting more civilly towards him. He knew they would never become the best of friends, but a sort of mutual understanding had risen between them. Harry had finally made great progress with Occlumency, he was now able to push Snape completely out of his mind. Today they would be starting on Legilimency, which promised to be even harder.

“Good evening, Professor.”

Snape nodded at the chair in front of his desk and Harry sat down a bit nervously. Snape had never asked him to sit down but always started the lesson immediately.

“First of all I want to offer you my condolences for the loss of your friend.” Snape said.

Harry looked at him unbelievingly. Snape had never shown any interest in students that weren’t in his own house. “Thank you.” he mumbled.

“Secondly I wanted to congratulate you.” Snape said. He smirked when the disbelief dripped of Harry’s face. “Don’t look so surprised, Potter. You have done a great job on Saturday. You stayed calm and you evaluated the situation well. I believe your decisiveness and your efficient actions have spared a lot of lives that day.”

“Not all of them.” Harry mumbled.

Snape looked at him almost sympathetically. “Not all of them.” he affirmed. “But a lot. I am afraid no mortal has the power to save everyone, Potter.”

Harry was waiting for him to add ‘not even the Boy Who Lived’ with a sneer, but Snape considered the topic closed.

“Now, I recall we were planning on starting with Legilimency.” Snape started. “But first I want to teach you some useful magic. Magic that will help you in situations like last weekend.”

“I am already practicing defensive magic with Professor Dumbledore, sir.” Harry said.

“I realize that.” Snape said. “But there are spells – lesser common spells – that Professor Dumbledore would not be able to teach you. Spells that are not known by many witches or wizards.”

“Why wouldn’t he be able to teach me?” Harry asked. He knew Dumbledore was the most powerful wizard alive and that he was extremely smart. He would have thought that he would know even the lesser known spells.

“Because I invented them.” Snape said smoothly. “There is a chance the headmaster may not like what I intend to teach you, but I think that it will be useful to you.”

Harry nodded. He realized Snape left it up to him to tell Dumbledore about it or not, but he had made it clear the headmaster wouldn’t hear it from him.

“Okay.” Snape said. “Let’s begin with one of the easier spells. This spell is very useful to keep your conversations private. The incantation is Muffliato…”




By the end of the week Harry was approached by several members of the DA to ask when there would be a meeting. Harry had been putting of changing the date on his coin, because he didn’t exactly look forward to it. Right after the battle at Hogsmeade, Harry had wanted to quit the DA, but his friends had quickly talked him out of it. He realized last Saturday had shown exactly why the DA was needed, but Harry asked himself how he could expect anyone to turn up for the next meeting after it became so painfully clear how dangerous it was. The constant inquiries of the members, however, showed him at least most of them still wanted to go on with it. By Friday, he was constantly stopped between classes by members. His answer was every time the same. “I’ll let you know in the usual way, but it’s not tonight. I’ve got an appointment with Dumbledore.”

Indeed after dinner, Harry made his way to Dumbledore’s office for his private lesson of that week. Dumbledore and Harry had agreed on a fixed day for their lessons at the beginning of the year, but seeing as Dumbledore had been away a lot and Harry had a lot of other commitments, it varied a lot.

Dumbledore, like Snape, started with praising Harry for his bravery and actions during the attack on Hogsmeade. Despite all the praises and consolations he had received over the past week, Harry still felt slightly guilty about the death of Angelina. He was no longer sorry he had started the DA, but he did still believe he should have been able to take out Pettigrew sooner.

“Secondly, I owe you an explanation, Harry.” Dumbledore said seriously. “I am extremely sorry for the fact that I was not here when the Death Eaters stroke. If I would have been here the battle would probably have ended sooner and maybe…” His voice faded and Harry saw tears blinking in his eyes.

He realized he had been right. Dumbledore felt at least as guilty about Angelina’s death as he had felt. “I have received quite some angry letters from parents about that matter.” Dumbledore continued. “And of course they are right in their concern.”

“No one of the students blames you”, Harry said firmly. “We know you wouldn’t leave without a good reason.”

“Thank you for those words, Harry”, Dumbledore said. “On a more positive note. I have heard that your group has done a great job in the battle.”

Harry shrugged. “Actually, I wanted them to keep safe, but they all wanted to help.”

Dumbledore smiled at him. “A great sign of loyalty.” he said. “I must congratulate you for composing this group. It seems you have chosen the right people. Thank you for that.”

“I don’t think we have done so much good.” Harry said. “They are all talented, but to put them against Death Eaters…” He paused. “And we lost a member.” he quietly added.

Dumbledore nodded sombrely. “Unfortunately you did. The loss of Miss Johnson has hit us all rather hard. But the first part of your statement could not be more wrong, Harry.”

Harry looked up at him, surprised. “What do you mean?”

“I left Alastor in command of the Order of the Phoenix in my absence.” Dumbledore said. “Professor Tonks immediately apparated to Grimmauld Place when Mr Creevey came with the news of the attack and the Order members immediately alerted the Auror Office and apparated straight to Hogsmeade, under Alastor’s lead. He told me if you and your friends hadn’t been there, they would have been outnumbered three to one until the Aurors got there. The presence of the DA has saved a lot of lives that day, Harry.”

Harry nodded and couldn’t help but feel proud of the members of the DA. This was the first test they had, the first time they were ever exposed to real danger and they had all fought more bravely and valiantly than could be expected from them.

“Now Harry, I realize you have been very curious as to where I have been all those times I left the school.” Dumbledore said. “But I am afraid the truth is far less exciting than the many theories you have undoubtedly formed yourself.” He smiled serenely. “The truth is, I have been tracking an old friend and colleague of mine.”

“All this time?” Harry asked puzzled.

“Yes.” Dumbledore stated. “He is an extremely intelligent and competent wizard and he has been trying very hard to remain undetected.”

“Why?”

Dumbledore stood and walked over to the cabinet that he used to store his Pensieve. He took the Pensieve, sat it carefully on his desk and sat down in front of Harry again. “The man I am talking about is Horace Slughorn. He was the Potions master when he was at Hogwarts. Among others, he has taught your parents, Sirius, Hagrid and Tom Riddle.”

“He has taught Voldemort?” Harry asked eagerly.

“Indeed”, Dumbledore said. “The reason Horace was in hiding is that Voldemort has people looking for him ever since he came back. Luckily for him, those Death Eaters do not possess the powers – forgive me my immodesty – and means I possess to track him.”

“Why does Voldemort wants to find his old Potions master?” Harry asked. “It can’t be for the potion to get around the blood protection. He has Professor Snape for that.”

“Indeed he has.” Dumbledore agreed. “But there are some things that Horace knows that could be dangerous for Voldemort to get out in the open. He could have spared himself the effort. It has taken even me hours to persuade Horace to give me this.” He took a glass phial out of his top desk drawer that clearly contained a memory. “It has affirmed to me what I expected, but the problem is more complex than I initially thought. I would like you to see it.”

Harry and Dumbledore entered the Pensieve together and watched a memory of the sixteen year old Tom Riddle who asked his large Potions master about some very dark piece of magic.

When they resurfaced from the Pensieve, Harry immediately said: “A Horcrux! Did he create a Horcrux?”

Dumbledore nodded as he indicated for Harry to take his seat again. He took his own seat after his desk before he said: “Yes. I was fairly certain that he made one even before I found Horace. It seemed to me that was the only way he could have survived when the Killing Curse he fired at you backfired and hit him instead. Normally he should have been killed on the spot, but he wasn’t.”

“So if you find this Horcrux and destroy it...” Harry said slowly. “He’ll be mortal again.”

“That’s the general idea.” Dumbledore said. “But I am afraid it will be a bit more complicated than that.” He paused. “You can barely call Voldemort human anymore. He has a human body, but his features have been so twisted and distorted… I can hardly believe that is the work of one Horcrux.”

“You mean he has split his soul more than once?” Harry asked disbelievingly. “He has made more than one Horcrux?”

“Do you remember what the young Tom Riddle asked Horace in the memory, Harry?”

“Isn’t seven the most magical number…”*, Harry mumbled. Dumbledore nodded. “Seven Horcruxes?!”

“Actually, six. The seventh part of his soul still resides within his body.”

“So all of the Horcruxes, which could be any object hidden anywhere in the world, have to be destroyed and only then there is a slight chance of defeating him?”

“Yes.” Dumbledore said. “That is quite correct.”

“Well, we’d better start thinking than, hadn’t we?”




 The first thing Harry did when he was back in the Gryffindor common room was tell Ginny, Ron and Hermione everything Dumbledore had told him, after performing Snape’s Muffliato charm. Dumbledore had asked him to keep the information secret, but agreed with Harry when he said his two best friends and his girlfriend ought to be trusted.

“Wow.” Ron said. “So there are six Horcruxes out there that have to be destroyed before he’s even mortal?”

“Actually five.” Harry said with a nervous look at Ginny, who was sitting beside him. “One has already been destroyed.”

“By Dumbledore?” Hermione asked.

“No”, Harry said, hesitating. “By me, actually.”

“By you?” Ron asked non understanding.

Ginny didn’t seem to follow either, but Hermione gasped. “You mean the diary?”

Harry nodded and looked at Ginny who had paled. “That was a piece of his soul?”, she asked softly. “I was possessed by an actual piece of his soul?” She looked disgustedly.

Harry put a comforting arm around her as Hermione and Ron left the two alone. “It’s okay” Harry said softly. “It’s destroyed now, isn’t it?”

Ginny nodded, but she was still looking appalled.

After a few moments Harry said: “Look Ginny, I’m really sorry about how I acted towards you after – after what happened.”

Ginny looked at him surprised. “You don’t need to apologize, Harry. We were all shaken by what happened. And quite understandable at that.”

“No, I do.” Harry said determinedly. “I know you don’t deserve that. You have done so much for me. Much more than you know. And you’re always so good to me, even when I’m an ungrateful prat.”

He hugged her closely and she rested her head on his shoulder. “I love you, Ginny.”

He had said it before he realized he had formed the words in his mind. Ginny looked up at him abruptly. “Did you just say…?”

Harry felt himself reddening when Ginny looked at him with wide, brown eyes.

“I guess I did.” he said softly. Ginny pushed him backwards on the couch forcefully and kissed him passionately.

“I love you too, Harry.”

 

“Love means never having to say you’re sorry” – Love Story (film)

*Quote from Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince


Chapter 24: Moving On
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Chapter 24: Moving On

Saturday morning, a week after the attack on Hogsmeade, Angelina would be buried in her hometown, Mould-on-the-Would. Dumbledore had granted the members of Dumbledore’s Army special permission to attend the funeral. They took a Portkey together with a delegation of teachers and Dumbledore himself.

The cemetery where the funeral would take place had been charmed with Muggle repelling charms and the service would take place in a tent on the adjacent lawn. Harry regretted to see how few relatives Angelina had had left when he took his place somewhere in the middle of the tent.

The service was led by a small wizard who probably was a Ministry official. He talked for a while about the innocent life that had been taken and coping with loss for those who are left behind. Harry couldn’t really relate to his words much.

After that there were short speeches by Professor McGonagall, who talked about Angelina’s achievements in school and on the Quidditch pitch and Alicia Spinnet, Angelina’s best friend.

After the funeral, Harry was approached by Oliver Wood, Angelina’s predecessor as Gryffindor Quidditch captain.

“I just can’t believe she’s gone.” Oliver said after shortly greeting Ginny, Ron and Hermione . “How did she ever deserve this?”

“I know.” Harry said sombrely. “She was always the toughest of us, wasn’t she? Well, after you of course.”

Oliver managed a watery smile, but just for a second. “I just feel so helpless.” he said. “She was out there fighting Death Eaters and all I am doing is playing Quidditch.” He sighed. “I read you formed a group at school that helped fight that day.” he continued. “Too bad I’m not at school anymore. I would have loved to join you.”

“You could join the Order.” Ron blurted out. “Ouch!” Hermione had given him a punch on his arm. “What was that for?”

Oliver looked at them curiously. “The Order?”

“The Order of the Phoenix.” Harry explained. “It’s a secret society. They try to oppose Voldemort and his Death Eaters.”

Oliver seemed very interested. “Could anyone join them? I’m not the best dueller or anything, but if I could do something to stop those gits…”

“I guess…” Harry said. “Maybe if you talk to Dumbledore. He’s their leader.”

Oliver nodded, apparently not surprised. “Maybe I should do that soon.” he mumbled.

When he had left, Ginny took Harry's hand and squeezed it gently. “Come on.” she said softly. “They’re waiting for us.”

They took the Portkey back to Hogwarts and appeared in the Entrance Hall. Harry looked at the DA members and said: “Tonight at eight. The usual place. Alright?”

They all agreed and went their own ways.

When the DA had gathered in the Room of Requirement that night, the atmosphere wasn’t excited and cheerful like usual, but rather depressed. Over the last week Harry had been able to put what happened out of his mind sometimes, as he was busy with classes and his private lessons, but attending Angelina’s funeral had hit everyone pretty hard. They were still waiting for one member before they would start the meeting.

“Did he say anything?” Harry asked Seamus.

The Irish boy nodded. “Yeah, he said he was working on something. Has been at it for quite some time actually. He said he would be right here.”

As if on cue, the door opened and Dean Thomas entered, carrying what looked like a large rolled up sheet of Muggle drawing paper.

“What do you have there?” Harry asked.

Dean shrugged. “It’s a drawing. I thought maybe we could hang it out somewhere.”

“Let us see.” Seamus encouraged him.

Dean rolled the drawing out and showed it to everyone. Harry’s heart gave a painful stab when he saw the drawing. It was Angelina, naturally, sitting on her broom in Gryffindor Quidditch robes with her captain badge proudly pinned on her chest.

“It’s Angelina like I remember her.” Dean said softly.

“It’s beautiful.” Padma said with tears in her eyes.

Harry looked around and saw that a lot of other DA members were choking up.

“Let’s hang it over here.” he said and walked to the wall where there already hung various pictures. Harry and Dean pinned it to the wall next to the picture the DA had taken in happier times.

“I’m very glad that you have all come tonight.” Harry said when everyone had sat down again. “Even after what happened last week.”

There fell a silence while everyone was staring at him. “Now I want you to know that none of you have any obligations whatsoever to be here. The contract you signed states that you won’t give away any information about us, it doesn’t bind you to us. Whenever you want to leave this group, you can. No one will think any less of you.”

“What are you talking about, mate?” Seamus said. “We’re Dumbledore’s Army.”

“I know." Harry said patiently. “But we have been forced to fight last week, at a terrible price and no one can guarantee that that was the last time.”

“No one was forced to fight, Harry.” Parvati said. “We chose to.”

Harry had been convinced that would be the reaction of the members from Gryffindor, but he wasn’t so sure everyone would think the same way. He glanced at the Hufflepuffs and Ravenclaws.

“Not only Gryffindors are brave, Harry.” Luna smiled.

“It’s the same for us.” Ernie said. “No one forced us to fight. We wanted to.”

Harry nodded. “But now you know what’s out there.” he said. “You know what can happen if you stay with us. We lost Angelina. What if this happens again…”

“Then so be it.” Fred said harshly. “We knew perfectly well what we got into, mate. All of us did.”

“We all know what can happen.” Ginny spoke up. “But that’s precisely the reason why we have to do it. Everyone will have to contribute if we want to end this bloody war.”

“But we’re teenagers.” Harry said slowly.

“That didn’t ever stop Voldemort or his Death Eaters from killing anyone, did it?” George asked. “We can’t expect the grown-ups to take care of everything. We might have had when we were kids, but it doesn’t work that way. Not anymore.”

“It’s more or less what Oliver meant this morning.” Hermione said. “Whatever someone can do to make a difference, they should do it. However little that difference may be.”

Harry nodded and looked at his fellow DA members with a strange pride. These were the real heroes. Not those people at the Ministry who were too afraid of Voldemort to even speak his name.

“Very well.” he said. “I have one more thing to say. I spoke to Dumbledore yesterday and he didn’t seem to think the difference we made was that little. He told me our participation in the battle has probably spared many lives. I realize I haven’t said this to any of you, but good job!”

The spirits lifted noticeably after that. However they didn’t practice at all that meeting. They just sat and talked. Mostly about Angelina, but also about the battle and memorable achievements from various DA members.




On Monday morning, Harry and Ron got a note from Professor McGonagall at breakfast.

Mr Potter

Please report to my office at 5 o’clock this afternoon.

Professor M. McGonagall

Harry looked over at Ron’s note and saw that it was exactly the same. “What’s that about?”

“Dunno.” Ron said. “Ginny and Hermione didn’t get it.”

Harry looked around and saw that Fred and George had received an identical note. If the twins had anything to do with it, it would probably mean trouble. Although Harry couldn’t recall of breaking any school rules lately. Not more than usual anyway.

When he arrived at Professor McGonagall’s office that afternoon, Fred and George were already there, along with Alicia Spinnet and Katie Bell.

“Ah Mr Potter, good you’re here.” McGonagall said. She gestured to the only empty chair in front of her desk for him to sit down. When he had sat beside Katie she said: “I think you all know why I called you here today. I did not want to do this too close after the devastating events of the weekend before last, but after the unfortunate passing of Miss Johnson the Gryffindor Quidditch team is one player short.”

The six remaining players of the team looked at her silently.

“I wanted to consult with you before I made any decisions. You have after all been playing together for five years now, except for Mr Weasley, and I think it is best if you make arrangements for a replacement yourself. That is, if you want to.” She looked at them inquisitively.

“She can’t be replaced.” Fred said.

“I understand that the Quidditch Cup is the least of your worries now.” Professor McGonagall said soothingly. “But – “

“I wouldn’t say the least of our worries.” Harry interrupted her. “Angelina was supposed to be graduating. This was her last year on the team. She wanted that Cup. We owe it to her.”

Alicia nodded. “It’s the only thing we can do for her.” she said softly.

“Well, Gryffindor is comfortably in the lead at the moment...” Professor McGonagall said.

“Exactly.” George said. “We don’t need a new Chaser. We’ll win that Cup with the six of us.”

When they all agreed, Professor McGonagall said: “Very well. I suppose that you don’t want to appoint a new captain too then?”

“Angelina is our captain.” Harry said.

Professor McGonagall swallowed and seemed to have a hard time to keep herself together for a moment. “Very good. It will be as you wish. Normally a team would not be allowed to play without a captain, but I am sure Madam Hooch will be willing to make an exception for these – “, she hesitated, “special circumstances.”

They all nodded. “Alright then. Off you go.”

“We did the right thing, right?” Alicia asked as they walked back to the common room.

“Of course we did.” George said. “You know what she would say to us though, right?”

“’Are you bloody crazy?”’ Harry said. “’If we lose that Cup because of your foolish sentimental feelings, I will come and haunt you for the rest of your lives!’”

They all laughed and it felt strangely relieving. It was the first time they had been remembering Angelina and it made them laugh instead of cry. Harry thought that would probably be more like how she wanted to be remembered.

“Well, you sure are going to have a lot of work next year.” Alicia said to Harry as they entered the common room and took a seat by the fire.

“What do you mean?”

“Fred, George and I will be gone too next year. You’ll have to form half a new team.”

“Who says I’ll be the new captain? Ron and Katie are still here too.” Harry said.

“Well yeah, but Ron has only been with the team for one year. McGonagall won’t choose him over people who have been with the team for so long. And Katie, well – “ She smirked.

“Let’s just say I’m not really the captain type.” Katie said merrily. “Do you see me lead a training? No one would pay attention to me.” She laughed.

Shortly after Ginny and Hermione entered the common room, returning from the library. They seemed extremely satisfied with something.

“What’s up?” Ron asked.

“Malfoy’s busted.” Ginny said happily. “Pince heard him call Justin a Mudblood. She took him straight to Dumbledore. You know, zero tolerance and all.”

Ron shrugged. “So? He’ll lose some points from Slytherin. It’s not that big a deal.”

Neville, who had come to sit with them as Ginny was talking, answered: “Nah. Remember when he called Hermione – “ he paused, “that word? McGonagall was furious. She said at the next Prefect meeting that he was a pathetic excuse for a Prefect in her opinion and she would make sure he lost his badge if it ever happened again.”

“Yeah but it’s not her decision, is it?” Ron asked. “He’s a Slytherin. It’s Snape’s decision.”

“Not if Dumbledore overrules him.” Hermione said.

Harry wasn’t very interested in whether or not Malfoy would lose his Prefect badge. Malfoy had been unusually quiet since Christmas. He hadn’t thrown one insult in their direction in the corridors or during class and he seemed to be almost always on his own. It struck him as rather odd he would return to his old habits so suddenly.

“What happened?” he asked the girls. “With Malfoy and Justin I mean?”

Ginny shrugged. “Dunno. We only heard him saying something about not needing help from filthy you-know-what’s.”

“Help?” Harry asked. “Like homework or something?”

“I don’t know.” Hermione said slowly. “Didn’t seem like it. Why?”

Harry ran his fingers through his hair. “Where there others there?” he asked as the other members of the Quidditch team left for dinner.

“Yeah, just his two gorilla bodyguards.” Ginny answered. “What are their names again?”

“Crabbe and Goyle.” Hermione said.

“Didn’t they kind of stopped being friends?” Harry asked.

Ron shrugged. “Seems like they are hanging out again. Come on, let’s go to dinner. I’m starving.”

Harry was quiet the whole way down to dinner, thinking about what Hermione and Ginny had told them. He didn’t really believe that Malfoy had jumped back to his old behaviour. He was sure something was going on with the Slytherin and he was determined to find out what.






 After the next DA meeting Harry hung back in the Room of Requirement and asked Justin to give him a hand to clean everything up. The real reason was of course to ask him about Malfoy. He had told Ginny, Ron and Hermione to go on without him and that he would catch up with them later. He knew they would try to get his mind of the whole Malfoy thing, especially Hermione.

“I don’t really know, Harry.” Justin said when he asked him. “I happened to run into them in the library. They seemed to be arguing about something, but I couldn’t really make out what exactly.”

“Do you remember anything they said at all?” Harry asked exasperated.

The Hufflepuff shrugged. “Goyle didn’t actually say anything. I don’t think I have ever heard him talk now I come to think of it. Crabbe said something about where Malfoy’s loyalties lie and Malfoy retorted that he knew perfectly well what he was doing and something about his father.”

“About Lucius?” Harry asked curiously.

“No, Crabbe’s father I think” Justin said. “I didn’t really understand it. I didn’t want to go any closer or they might have seen me eavesdropping.”

Harry nodded understandingly.

“Anyway. Whatever he said must have been insulting because Crabbe grabbed him by his robes and Goyle was right behind him of course. They looked like they were going to give them a good pounding and well… Malfoy may be a git, but it seemed a bit unfair. So I used that Bat Bogey Hex on them you taught us before Christmas. Crabbe mumbled something about Malfoy’s new friends helping him and that’s when Malfoy said he didn’t need help from filthy Mudbloods like me.”

“Something’s going on with Malfoy.” Harry muttered.

“Yeah, it didn’t really make sense to me either.” Justin agreed. “You don’t reckon it has something to do with his sister?”

They had shared Jacinta’s story with the DA after Christmas, so the members could all keep an eye on her during the year.

“What do you mean?”

“Well he had some injuries when we came back after Christmas right?” Justin said. “He had clearly been beaten too. Maybe he tried to stop his father.”

Harry nodded. That had been his own theory too, but he didn’t see what this had to do with it. “Yeah I think he did.” he said. “But that doesn’t explain his change of behaviour.”

“Maybe he doesn’t agree with his father’s beliefs anymore.” Justin said. “Maybe he finally formed a mind of his own.”

Harry looked at Justin, thinking deeply. He knew it was in the nature of Hufflepuffs to think the best of people. Cedric Diggory was the best example of that, he thought. He briefly considered talking to Malfoy, but he quickly dismissed the thought as ridiculous. This was Draco Malfoy for Merlin’s sake. If there’s one person in this world who would never change, it was Draco Malfoy right?






 Harry didn’t tell Ginny or his friends anything about his thoughts about Malfoy, but whenever he encountered him in the corridors or they shared a class with the Slytherins, he paid special attention to him. It was like the argument between Malfoy and his former best friends had never taken place though. Nothing had changed, except for the fact that Malfoy’s Prefect badge had indeed been taken away.

Ron and Hermione remained oblivious about Harry’s interest in Draco Malfoy, but Ginny was not that easily fooled. She felt a little insulted that Harry hadn’t told her anything about it, but decided she wouldn’t ask anything until he said something himself. She managed to hold out until Saturday night. Harry and Ginny were again the last people that were down in the common room and had snuggled up onto their favourite couch in front of the fire.

“So when are you planning to tell me?” Ginny asked suddenly.

“Tell you what?” Harry asked slowly.

“Where this sudden interest in Draco Malfoy comes from.”

Harry looked at her. Her brown eyes were twinkling softly. “What makes you say that?” he said.

“Oh please, Harry.” Ginny laughed. “You may have Ron and Hermione fooled, but I know you better than that.”

“Do you now?” Harry said mischievously. “So you think you know me better than Ron and Hermione do?”

“I’m quite certain I do.” Ginny said as she lay her head on his shoulder. “I know you always have treacle tart for dessert on the Welcoming Feast, because it’s your favourite and you missed it all summer. I know you always run a hand through your hair when you’re thinking hard about something. I know your Firebolt is the most precious gift you ever got, not because it’s a world class broomstick but because it was the first present Sirius ever got you. I know that I’ll always say no if someone asks me again if I’m not jealous of Hermione because she spends so much time with you, because you think of her as your obnoxious, brilliant sister. I know Hogwarts will always be your favourite place in this world, because it was your first home. I know you love coming to The Burrow because you never had a real family and everyone considers you family when you’re there…”

Harry didn’t say anything. Ginny looked at him with a more brilliant twinkle in her eyes. “I bet not all of your friends know all that, do they?”

Impressed, Harry cleared his throat and muttered: “No, I bet they don’t.”

And then he pulled Ginny closer and kissed her more fiercely and passionately than he had ever kissed her. When they pulled apart, he hid his face in her long, red hair and breathed in her flowery scent. “I love you.” he whispered.

“I love you too, Harry.” Ginny said softly. After a few minutes she sat up and said: “Don’t think you’re getting away that easily. You’re still going to tell me.”

Harry smiled and told her everything, from the moment Malfoy returned after Christmas up to his conversation with Justin in the Room of Requirement after the last DA meeting.

“And Justin thinks Malfoy may have turned around?” Ginny asked sceptically.

“Yeah and the more I think about it, the more I think he might be right.” Harry said.

Ginny looked at him thoughtfully. “It may seem to fit, Harry, but we’re still talking about Malfoy here.”

“I know it doesn’t seem very likely.” Harry said. “But stranger things have happened.”

Ginny laughed. “I guess that’s true. Maybe you’re right.”

“I don’t know what I have to think, really.” Harry said. He was glad he told Ginny. He knew if he had told Ron and Hermione they would have thought he lost his mind. He knew Ginny would never mock a theory, however far-fetched it may be.

“Maybe you should talk to Dumbledore.” Ginny said.

Harry shrugged. “I don’t know. He has enough to worry about with everything that’s been going on.”

Since the Hogsmeade attack the Death Eaters had also attacked both Diagon Alley and Ottery St Catchpole. They had received the news that the Weasleys had permanently moved in with Sirius and Lupin at Grimmauld Place as they couldn’t be sure The Burrow was save anymore.






 The last Quidditch game of the season was approaching fast. Gryffindor and Ravenclaw would decide in a direct confrontation who would win the Quidditch Cup. Gryffindor currently had 250 points more, however the spirits of the team had never been lower. They still practiced together, but only one time in a week and they didn’t do much more than flying around a bit.

The day before the Quidditch final however, Harry and Ginny had another commitment. The trial against Lucius Malfoy was scheduled that morning and Harry and Ginny had both been called as witnesses. They were expected at Dumbledore’s office 9.45 am sharp to take the Floo Network with him to the Ministry. When they arrived Dumbledore was already waiting, together with Draco Malfoy. It seemed like they had been discussing something, but both stopped talking when Harry and Ginny entered. The Slytherin didn’t acknowledge the presence of the couple in anyway so Harry and Ginny did the same.

“Ah Harry, Ginny.” Dumbledore said. “I trust you are both ready to go?”

They nodded. “Isn’t Jacinta coming?” Harry asked.

Malfoy looked at Harry briefly when he mentioned his sister’s name.

“No, she is not.” Dumbledore said. “The Wizengamot believes it is best she is not present during the trial. I will read her statement to the court myself as I was the one who executed the interrogation.”

Harry was relieved. He didn’t know how Jacinta would react if she would stand eye to eye with her father again. Maybe she would even be too frightened to testify against him. It was also reassuring that Dumbledore had been the one to interrogate her and not some unknown member of the Wizengamot.

“Let us go then.” Dumbledore said as he took a pot of Floo Powder from the mantelpiece. “Sirius will be waiting for us in the Atrium. He wanted to be there.”

Harry nodded. Sirius had written him already, colourfully describing the fact that he wanted to see that child-abusing prat go down. He had used some words in his vivid description Harry never expected to hear from an adult.

“Ladies first.” Dumbledore smiled to Ginny.

They met Sirius by the Fountain of Magical Brethren and together they made their way down to the courtrooms. When they reached courtroom ten, where the trial would be held, they saw Narcissa and Lucius Malfoy already waiting by the door for the trial to begin, accompanied by two Aurors.  Draco immediately went to sit with them. Lucius, despite the charges still a respected man in the wizarding community had been granted permission to await his trial at home, but Malfoy Manor had been guarded by Aurors day and night.

Dumbledore gave Harry and Ginny an encouraging smile and entered the courtroom to take his place with the Wizengamot. Harry felt himself getting more nervous by the minute and wished they would get it over with. He felt Ginny take his hand and squeeze it reassuringly but he saw she was just as nervous as he was.

“You’d better be ready for this.” they heard the silky voice of Lucius Malfoy saying softly after the Aurors had left. “I hope you rehearsed your story very well.”

Apparently Draco had received specific orders about what he would have to say.

Sirius looked about ready to punch Malfoy in the face. “Pathetic ferret.” he grumbled.

Harry caught Ginny’s eyes and they both grinned. They had never told Sirius the story of the amazing bouncing ferret, so the older wizard didn’t realize he had said something funny.

The doors to the courtroom opened on their own accord and they all got to their feet and slowly walked inside. The trial was again led by the Minister of Magic himself, together with Dumbledore and Madam Bones. The only difference with the last time Harry had been called before the Wizengamot was that the benches around the room were empty. Apparently this was to be a closed trial and not even the press was allowed inside the courtroom. Sirius was probably only allowed to be here because Harry was still underage and Sirius was his legal guardian.

After Scrimgeour opened the trial, Dumbledore read the statement of Jacinta to the Wizengamot. Then, the friendly Healer that treated Jacinta at St Mungo’s entered and told them everything about the injuries the girl had when she was brought in and by what possible ways she could have gotten him. She was beyond all doubt the girl had been beaten severely when she was brought in.

When he was done with the Healer, Scrimgeour interrogated Harry and Ginny about the time they had found Jacinta when she had been beaten up by Crabbe and Goyle. When they finished their story Scrimgeour turned to Dumbledore. “These students were expelled, I trust?”, he demanded.

Dumbledore looked extremely uncomfortable. “I am afraid not.” he answered. “I am not authorized to make that decision by myself in such an extreme case. I asked the board of school governors to let the accused students appear before Hogwarts High Court, but they refused.”

“What do you mean they refused?” Madam Bones asked flabbergasted.

“There were no witnesses to the incident. The only proof we have is the word of young Jacinta Malfoy.” Dumbledore said regrettably. “The governors didn’t think that was sufficient evidence to call together the High Court.”

Scrimgeour nodded, but Madam Bones didn’t seem to accept that so easily. “But that’s outrageous! If those students are guilty, there is no place for them in a school!”

“I quite agree, Madam Bones.” Scrimgeour said firmly. “But unfortunately that is a decision that rests with the Board of Governors and the Board of Governors only. It is not within our powers to overrule their decisions.”

He turned to Lucius Malfoy. “As for you, we can do something.” he said. “Witnesses for the defence?” he added dully as if there really wasn’t a point in still listening to his defence.

“My wife and son, Narcissa and Draco Malfoy.”

Narcissa was called to the stand and hung up quite a nice story of a devoted husband and father who would never harms his kids. When asked about the injuries Jacinta suffered, she stuck with the story she had told at St Mungo’s back on Christmas: she had fallen down the stairs.

“The Wizengamot calls to the stand: Draco Lucius Malfoy.” Scrimgeour said after Narcissa’s interrogation. “Mr Malfoy will be questioned by Albus Dumbledore.”

“Do you confirm the story of your mother, Draco?” Dumbledore simply asked.

Malfoy looked down at the floor and slowly shook his head.

“What?” Harry said. He couldn’t have been more surprised. He looked at Ginny and Sirius. They seemed just as baffled as he was.

“Jacinta had been beaten when she was brought to St Mungo’s last Christmas.” Dumbledore said. “Severely beaten. Could you tell us who was the one that did that to her?”

Draco looked at him hesitantly. Dumbledore looked piercingly into Draco’s eyes.

“My father” he finally mumbled.

Lucius jumped from his chair. “You filthy traitor!” he shouted and tried to get to his son.

“Incarcerous” a deep voice said from by the door and Lucius was immediately bound in ropes, still shouting and cursing at his son. They saw Kingsley Shacklebolt had been one of the two Aurors who had taken the place of their colleagues. Kingsley subtly winked at them.

“Order!” Scrimgeour shouted. “Mr Malfoy, please sit down and be silent or you will removed from the courtroom.” He nodded to Dumbledore to continue.

“Was that the first time your father attacked your sister?”

“No.” Draco said, still looking shocked by his father’s reaction. “He has beaten her before. Repeatedly.” He swallowed. “I have heard it a lot, but I… I always acted like I didn’t know it. Like it didn’t happen… He made sure he never did it front of me.”

“Until last Christmas.” Dumbledore added and Malfoy nodded. “What did you do when he started hitting her?”

“I was frozen.” Malfoy said. “I never really wanted to believe it and as long as I never saw it… I could imagine it wasn’t real. He kept hitting her and…” Harry was shocked to see tears appear in Malfoy’s eyes. “I was afraid he would kill her. It was like he hadn’t any control over himself anymore. So I tried to stop him. And then he turned on me.”

“What did your mother do then?” Dumbledore asked.

“She took Jacinta to St Mungo’s. She knew father would never hit me to the extent he did with Jacinta.”

“Alright, Mr Malfoy. Thank you for you testimony.” Dumbledore said friendly. “I have one more question. Could you please tell the Wizengamot the reason your father justified his actions of last Christmas with?”

Draco looked back at the floor. “She spoke the Dark Lord’s name.”

Harry couldn’t believe his ears. Lucius had beaten his only daughter into the hospital, simply because she had the nerve to speak Voldemort’s name? It took all the self-control he had not to pull his wand and curse Lucius on the spot.

The Wizengamot didn’t need to consider long about the verdict. Lucius and Narcissa both lost their parental authority and Lucius was sentenced to one year in Azkaban for intentional assault and battery. They would search for a solution for the Malfoy children shortly.

Harry looked at Draco Malfoy as Dumbledore guided him out of the courtroom. He was even more pale than usual and it seemed like he started to realize what he had done. He had blown up the ties with his family. He would never be able to go back home and he probably shouldn’t expect a warm welcome in the Slytherin common room when they got back. Harry wondered what would happen to him now and even felt slightly sorry for him. But then he realized that this was Malfoy. Despite the fact that he had done the right thing today, he had still ignored the abuse of his sister for years, acting like it wasn’t real. It was a lot harder to worry about him when he had acted just like his own cousin had all those years.

“Moving on is a simple thing, what it leaves behind is hard” – Dave Mustaine


Chapter 25: A New Home
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Chapter 25: A New Home


After saying goodbye to Sirius, Harry and Ginny accompanied Dumbledore and Malfoy back to Hogwarts. Malfoy left Dumbledore’s office without another word, but Harry turned to his headmaster.

“You knew, didn’t you?” he asked.

Dumbledore nodded. “Mr Malfoy came to see me a couple of days ago. He told me everything that has been going on in Malfoy Manor and he asked me to make sure Jacinta would never have to return there. I persuaded him to testify against his father, in exchange for protection.”

Harry narrowed his eyes. “Who does he need protection from? He’s one of them, isn’t he!” He conveniently forgot about the fact that he had doubted that himself.

Dumbledore smiled serenely before he answered. “I do not blame you for thinking that, Harry. He has never given you a reason to believe otherwise. But I can assure you that Draco Malfoy would never join the Death Eaters.”

“He only cares about himself, Professor.” Harry said.

Ginny nodded. “Maybe he doesn’t agree with everything they stand for, but he would join them in a heartbeat if he thought he would be safe that way.”

Dumbledore nodded. “Indeed he would have done. But the Draco Malfoy that came back after Christmas is not the same boy he was for the last years. I am certain two perceptive young people as yourselves have already figured that out for yourselves.”

“I just thought he felt guilty about what happened.” Harry said. “That doesn’t change everything he stands for.”

“You are quite right about that, Harry.” Dumbledore said calmly. “But it is my believe there is much more to Draco Malfoy then meets the eye.”

“What do you mean?” Ginny asked.

“Mr Malfoy spent the first eleven years of his life being brainwashed. His views on Muggles and Muggleborns are just the same as those of his parents, because that is how he was brought up.”

“Jacinta had the exact same upbringing and she doesn’t think that way.” Harry protested.

“And Harry spent all those years with the Dursleys and they hated everything about the wizarding world. That hasn’t influenced him about it.” Ginny spoke up.

“Yes indeed, but you have an entirely different personality than Mr Malfoy.” Dumbledore stated. “You and Jacinta have far more bravery in you than Mr Malfoy will ever have. But that does not automatically make him a bad person.” He smiled. “I do not expect you to become the best of friends. All I ask is to try and understand where he came from.”

He walked over to the door and opened it. “And now you had better go down for lunch. I have to speak to young Miss Malfoy about the trial.”

“What will happen to her now, Professor?” Ginny asked softly.

“She will be placed into a foster home.” Dumbledore answered. “Do not worry. I will make sure that we find a good family for her.”

Harry and Ginny went down for lunch and joined Ron, Hermione, Neville, Luna and the twins at the Gryffindor table. Luna generally sat with them during meals now as she had few friends in her own house.  Her first three years at Hogwarts had been quite lonely. Her eccentricity put off a lot of people. Neville had been her first real friend and she was happier about being accepted in his circle of friends than she let on.

Harry and Ginny told their friends everything about the trial and what Dumbledore had said in his office.

“Dumbledore’s definitely off his rocker.” Ron said. “Malfoy would be too glad to join the Death Eaters.”

“I don’t know.” Hermione mused. “He has been acting rather odd lately, hasn’t he? He hasn’t insulted me in months.” She looked over at Malfoy, who was eating by himself at the end of the Slytherin table.

Harry and Ginny grinned at each other. They shouldn’t have doubted her. Nothing goes past Hermione.

When they left the Great Hall after lunch they bumped into Malfoy at the double doors. Malfoy stood there staring at Harry for a moment. Then he muttered: “Thanks” and disappeared towards the dungeons.

“Bloody hell.” Ron mumbled. “Did Malfoy just thank you? What did you do?” He looked at Harry as if he had affronted him terribly.

Harry shrugged. “No idea.”






The next day, the last Quidditch game of the season was planned. Normally this was one of the most exciting events of the school year as the game normally decided who would win the Quidditch Cup. However, the fact that one of the teams had lost their captain during the attack on Hogsmeade created a grim atmosphere around the match.

The six remaining members of the Gryffindor Quidditch team changed into their red robes without saying a word. When everyone was ready to go, they seemed to be waiting for a pep talk that would never come. At last they just nodded and walked upon the pitch.

Lee Jordan, who was commentating as usual, asked the spectators to join the players in a moment of silence as a tribute to Angelina. Even the Slytherins in the stands seemed to realize this wasn’t the time for snide remarks or taunts.

“Let’s do this.” Fred said softly, as Madam Hooch released the Bludgers and the Snitch. “For Angelina.”

The five other team members nodded. “For Angelina.” they repeated.

The least you could say was that the game was over quickly. Alicia and Katie put up a good fight against the three Ravenclaw Chasers, but weren’t really a fair match.

Cho didn’t use the same approach as she did the last time Gryffindor played Ravenclaw. Back then she had tailed Harry instead of looking for the Snitch herself. This time however, Ravenclaw was behind Gryffindor in the ranking and she had no choice but to look for the Snitch herself. She had spotted the Snitch when Ravenclaw was leading 180 to 20. If she caught the Snitch Ravenclaw would win the Quidditch Cup.

Harry reacted quickly when he saw Cho diving towards the ground and speeded after her. He thought of a Wronksi Feint first, because he didn’t spot the Snitch right away, but then he saw it had changed direction and was speeding towards the Gryffindor stands. This change of course was an advantage for Harry. He turned swiftly and now he lay several feet before Cho. He knew Cho was no match for him when it came to speed and he easily caught the snitch right above the Gryffindor stands.

Harry slowly flew a lap around the pitch with his fist in the air. He was met halfway by his teammates. He noticed that Alicia and Katie had tears in their eyes and even the Weasley brothers seemed to be lost for words. They had lost for the first time that year, 180 to 170, but they had won the Quidditch Cup for the second time in a row.

The team slowly descended towards the pitch and they walked over to the platform where Dumbledore was waiting for them with the big silver Cup. They looked at each other uncomfortably. Normally the Cup would be presented to the captain of the team. Finally, they all grabbed the Cup, three on each side, and lifted it in the air.

It was the strangest feeling Harry had ever felt. The pride and happiness about winning the Quidditch Cup were mixed with the feeling of utter loss.






Harry and Ron were the last ones left in the locker rooms. They weren’t in any rush. Neither of them fancied going to an overcrowded common room to celebrate. When they finally left, they saw that Ginny and Hermione were waiting for them outside.

“Fancy a visit to Hagrid?” Ginny asked. The girls had guessed Harry and Ron wouldn’t be in any mood to attend  a victory party at the moment.

They happily agreed and they made their way across the grounds towards the Forbidden Forest. Harry felt slightly guilty as he realized his visits with the gamekeeper had decreased greatly this year, but he just didn’t have time mostly.

Hagrid was as happy as he always was to see his favourite students.

“Come in, come in.” he said eagerly. “Sit down. Want some tea?”

Hagrid put a plate of his famous rock cakes on the table, but they remained untouched.

Hagrid congratulated Harry and Ron about winning  the Quidditch Cup. They were talking for a while when Hagrid turned to Harry. “So did you already hear from Sirius today? Dumbledore said he had to appear before the Wizengamot this morning.”

“He what?” Harry asked dumbfounded. Sirius hadn’t said anything about it to him when he saw him yesterday. “Why?”

Hagrid looked at him startled. “I don’t really know. Maybe I shouldn’t have told you.”

Harry stood up immediately. “Come on”, he mumbled to the others and they followed him outside.

They walked straight to Gryffindor Tower. Harry crossed the common room without saying anything to anyone and ran up the stairs to the fifth year boys dormitory with Ginny, Ron and Hermione in his wake.

“Harry, what are you doing?” Ron asked pressingly, but Ginny and Hermione seemed to understand.

Harry opened the drawer in his nightstand and grasped the Two-Way Mirror Sirius had given him for Christmas. “Sirius Black.” he said clearly to the glass.

After a few seconds Sirius’ face appeared.

“Harry!” He looked at him worriedly.

“Why did you have to appear before the Wizengamot?” Harry asked before his godfather could say anything else.

Sirius’ face seemed to relax. “Oh. How do you know about that?”

“Hagrid told me.” Harry said. “Now tell me! They aren’t sending you back to Azkaban, are they?”

“Don’t worry, Harry.” Sirius smiled. “It’s nothing of the sort. I can’t say anything now. I have to go back this afternoon for – “ he paused. “For the decision.”

“But – “

“I have to go now, Harry. Sorry.” Sirius said quickly. “Go to Dumbledore’s office after dinner tonight. I understand you have one of your lessons planned with him later anyway, yeah? I’ll meet you there.” And he disappeared.

Harry looked at his friends, who looked just as stunned as he was.

“What was that all about?” Ginny wondered.

“No idea.” Hermione said. “Well, you’ll hear it tonight I guess.”

None of them felt like going down to the common room or to the Great Hall for lunch, so the four of them stayed in the dormitory and hung out together.

“I wonder where Jacinta is.” Ginny suddenly said.

“What do you mean?” Ron asked. “She’s downstairs, isn’t she?”

Hermione shook her head. “I don’t think so. I haven’t seen her all day. We didn’t even see her at the game and she loves Quidditch.”

“I don’t think it’s Quidditch she loves.” Ginny laughed. “She loves Harry.”

Harry looked at her stunned.

“Oh, I don’t mean it like that.” Ginny said. “But she’s really fond of you. You made quite an impression on her.”

The silence that followed was only interrupted by the grumbling of Ron’s stomach. “I’m famished.“ he said, but he didn’t seem to be eager to get up and go downstairs. “We should have a house elf.”

Hermione looked at him severely. “You’re just lazy, Ron.” House elf rights were still a sensitive topic with her.

“I wonder if Dobby would come if I called him.” Harry mused.

Hermione had discovered last school year that Harry’s old house elf friend Dobby was working at Hogwarts now. Dumbledore had been the only person Dobby could find who was prepared to pay him.

“You shouldn’t – “ Hermione began.

“He gets paid, Hermione.” Ginny said quickly. “Try it”, she said to Harry.

“Er, okay.” Harry hesitated. “Dobby!”

There was a loud crack and Dobby appeared in the middle of the room. He looked around confused for a moment, but then he saw Harry.

“Harry Potter, sir!” He bowed deeply.

“Hi Dobby.” Harry grinned. He had grown to like the little elf since he freed him back in his second year. “So I am able to call you.”

“Oh yes, sir.” Dobby said. “Every inhabitant of the castle is able to call Dobby, but not many people know him, sir.”

He turned to Ginny, Ron and Hermione and bowed for them too.

“Do you think you could bring us some food here, Dobby?” Harry asked friendly.

“Of course, Harry Potter! What do you wish Dobby to bring you?”

“Some sandwiches will do, I think.” Harry said and Ron nodded approvingly.

“Right away, sir!” Dobby said and he vanished with another crack.

After they had finished their lunch, Hermione started another long discussion about the suppression of house elves.






When Harry entered the Great Hall that night for dinner, he wasn’t surprised to see that Dumbledore wasn’t sitting at the staff table. He ate quickly because he was eager to hear from Sirius.

“Ton Tongue Toffee.” he said to the gargoyle. The statue jumped aside and revealed the stone staircase that led to Dumbledore’s office. When he entered the room, he was surprised to see that not only Dumbledore and Sirius were there, but also Jacinta.

“Harry!” she said happily when she saw him. “I’m coming to live with you!”

“You – what?” Harry asked stunned.

Sirius grinned at him. “I filed for custody this morning. They had their doubts because I had been in Azkaban for so long, but when they saw it would be Jacinta’s first choice too it was a formality really. They already decided this afternoon.” He smiled at Harry. “You have a little sister” he added.

Jacinta hugged Harry tightly. “That’s great.” Harry smiled, rubbing her back. “You sure you’ll be able to handle a girl in the house?” he grinned at his godfather.

Sirius grinned back broadly. “We’ll survive. We still outnumber her.”

Dumbledore looked happily at the scene before him. He had strongly supported the idea of Jacinta living with Harry and Sirius before the Wizengamot. The idea that a man who recently spent twelve years in Azkaban gained custody of a child was controversial at the least, despite the fact Sirius had been proven innocent and his name had been cleared. Finally however, Dumbledore had been able to persuade them. The headmaster knew Jacinta couldn’t find a better home. He also knew that having Harry and Jacinta to take care of was the best thing that could have happened to Sirius. The light-hearted, sometimes irresponsible, young man he knew from before had grown up and changed into a caring father figure.

“What will happen to Draco now?” Harry asked Dumbledore with a quick glance at Jacinta.

“Mr Malfoy will spend his holidays at Hogwarts.” Dumbledore stated. “When he graduates, he will have to live on his own.”

“Is that even allowed?” Harry wondered.

“Normally students are not allowed to stay at Hogwarts during summer break, but in this case the board has made an exception.” Dumbledore said. “He will be given his own living quarters within the school. I am afraid I cannot let him stay in the Slytherin dormitories.”

“Why not?” Jacinta asked softly.

Dumbledore sighed. “There have been several – “ he hesitated, “several incidents in the Slytherin dungeon since yesterday.”

He looked at Harry meaningfully and Harry realized Malfoy had been given a hard time because of his testimony against his father.

Sirius and Jacinta both left soon. Harry stayed as he had a private lesson planned with Dumbledore, although the word lesson wasn’t really an accurate description of their meetings anymore. They still practiced duelling, but Dumbledore hadn’t showed Harry any new spells lately. Harry had mastered everything Dumbledore had taught him and had even started teaching some of it to the DA. Over the last few weeks however, every time Harry and Dumbledore met they discussed the Horcruxes and possible hiding places.

They knew there were still five Horcruxes out there. Dumbledore was convinced that Hufflepuff’s Cup and Slytherin’s locket were Horcruxes too. He also thought the ring that belonged to his grandfather was one. He had showed Harry all three objects in the Pensieve. Harry had offered that the final two Horcruxes might be relics of the other two founders, but Dumbledore didn’t think it possible. It was there where they had left of in their last meeting and Dumbledore continued as if they had only interrupted their discussion for a few moments.

“There are only two objects that were known to belong to Godric Gryffindor, Harry.” he said after Harry had sit down in front of his desk. “And they are both still here.” He gestured towards the sword and the Sorting Hat. “And I am certain neither of them is a Horcrux.”

“Alright.” Harry said. “What about that diadem you told me about?”

Dumbledore nodded. “The only known relic of Rowena Ravenclaw. A very curious object. Legend tells us that it sharpens the brain of the wearer. There are a lot of stories about it, but there is no proof that the diadem even existed. It is lost.”

“Well, maybe it’s lost because Voldemort hid it.” Harry tried.

Dumbledore shook his head slowly. “I do not think that is a possibility, Harry. The diadem is not lost for a few years. It has been lost for centuries. No person alive has ever seen it.”

Dumbledore stood up from his chair and started pacing around his office. “I have the feeling we are looking too far. Every Horcrux he made has to do something with Hogwarts or the founders, I am certain of that. The ring once belonged to Slytherin, as did the locket. The cup belonged to Hufflepuff…”

“What about the diary?” Harry asked. “That never belonged to one of the founders.”

“Indeed it did not.” Dumbledore said. “But the diary was the proof that Voldemort was the one who continued the work of his ancestor, Salazar Slytherin. In his mind it did bind himself to Slytherin in some way.”

“Bind himself to Slytherin…” Harry mumbled under his breath. “Professor...” he spoke out loud. “Is it possible for a Horcrux to be a living thing?”

Dumbledore looked at him confused. “I would think so, Harry, but it seems unlikely Voldemort would choose that. I do not think he would trust any creature with a mind of his own to harbour a part of his soul.”

“What if there was a creature who’s mind can be easily controlled by Voldemort?”

Dumbledore looked at him for a second. “Nagini.” he said.

Harry nodded. “Voldemort thinks he’s the only Parselmouth alive.” he said. “I’m sure he would think that binds him to Slytherin.”

“He certainly would.” Dumbledore said. He looked impressed. “It is a possibility. I will look into it.”

“Did you try the orphanage already?” Harry asked.

They had come up with several possible places where Voldemort could have hidden his Horcruxes. Dumbledore had already checked out Borgin and Burkes, Godric’s Hollow and the Riddle House and the orphanage where Voldemort grew up was next on the list.

“Yes.” Dumbledore said. “Nothing.”

He didn’t seem the least bit agitated about the fact that another one of their theories had been proven wrong. “I will travel to the Gaunt house next weekend.”

“The Gaunt House?” Harry asked. “I thought you would have checked that out when you went to the Riddle House.”

Dumbledore nodded. “Yes I intended to, but I am not comfortable with leaving the school for too long anymore. After what happened in Hogsmeade…”

Harry wished he hadn’t said anything. He knew his headmaster still felt terribly guilty because he wasn’t there when his students were in danger. “Okay”, he said quickly. “And will you still take me?”

“Yes, Harry. Once I find a hiding place, I will come and get you.”  Dumbledore smiled at him. “But remember, keep as quiet as you can about this. It would be catastrophic if Voldemort found out what we knew.”

“Of course, Professor.”

“Then you can go, Harry.”






The lonely cloaked figure stared up at the gates of Hogwarts before him. The protective enchantments that had been installed after the Dark Lord’s return would prevent him from entering, but he had to get inside. It was of vital importance that he talked to him. He remembered one of the secret passageways that his brother had discovered during their time at Hogwarts. He would have to take the slight risk of being caught breaking in, but it would have to do. He turned around and made his way towards Honeydukes.



“The truth is: you don’t know what is going to happen tomorrow. Life is a crazy ride and nothing is guaranteed” – Eminem

 

A/N: Please tell me what you think. Every review is highly appreciated.

 


Chapter 26: Guilt
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Chapter 26: Guilt

Harry entered the Gryffindor common room and smiled to himself when he saw the curled up form on the couch by the fire. Ginny had been waiting up for him to return when she fell asleep. Harry sat down carefully and stroked her hair softly. Ginny stirred and opened her eyes. She smiled when she saw Harry looking down at her.

“I fell asleep again, didn’t I?” she said as she sat up straight.

“Yeah. You really don’t have to wait up for me, you know.” Harry said, even though he knew better. He knew Ginny never wanted to go to bed until she had seen him.

Ginny merely shrugged at his last statement. “So, Jacinta will live with you and Sirius then?” she asked.

Harry nodded. “She already told you?”

“She told all of us.” Ginny laughed. “Well, me, Ron, Hermione and the twins at least.”

Harry smiled. “She seemed really happy about it.”

“Of course she did!” Ginny said. “She’ll finally have a home. A real home.”

“Well, it’s not exactly the brightest home.” Harry grinned. “I wonder how Sirius and Lupin are getting on with the redecorating.”

The two Marauders were planning to renovate Grimmauld Place by the time Harry would return for the summer.

Ginny laughed. “Mum wrote me about it. She’s helping them, but I think she didn’t know what she was getting into. I think Lupin is fine, but Sirius has horrible taste apparently.”

“I can imagine.” Harry laughed.

“So how was Dumbledore?” Ginny asked when they were done laughing. “Did you guys think of anything new for the last two… you know?”

Harry looked around the common room quickly. Although it was empty except for them, he casted a quick Muffliato charm before he answered.

“He still doesn’t think Voldemort found relics of Gryffindor and Ravenclaw, but we think we know what one of the remaining two is.”

“What then?”

“Nagini.”

“Nagini?” Ginny asked surprised. “That’s his snake, isn’t it? Why would he do that?”

Harry shrugged. “Because he’s a Parselmouth, I think.” he said. “He inherited the ability to talk to snakes from Slytherin himself, so it would be a powerful symbol for him.”

Ginny nodded slowly. “You may be right.”

She stretched out on the couch again and Harry cuddled next to her, hugging her from behind.

“Are you smelling my hair?” she said after a few minutes.

“Maybe.” Harry mumbled and she laughed. He loved the smell of her hair. It always made him think of carefree summer days at the Burrow.

Ginny turned around on the couch so she would face Harry. She cupped the right side of his face with her left hand. “I love you, Harry.” she said softly.

“I love you too.” Harry muttered. He gave her a soft kiss on the lips.

“Will Dumbledore really take you with him then? When he tries to get hold of a Horcrux?”

Harry nodded. “He said he would.”

“It could be dangerous.” Ginny said.

“Perhaps.” Harry said slowly. “But I’ll have Dumbledore with me. I’ll be fine.”

“That’s just the beginning though.” Ginny said softly. “The Horcruxes. Even if you can destroy all of them, you will still have to beat him.”

“Better not to think about that too much.” Harry said.

“But I have no choice, Harry.” Ginny said more loudly now. “I can’t help but think about it. I think about it all the time.”

Harry pulled Ginny towards him and she buried her face in his shoulder. He felt Ginny crying against him, something that didn’t happen often.

“I can’t lose you, Harry”, she muttered. “Not now I know how it is to finally be with you.”

Harry hugged her silently until she had calmed down and then said: “Look, Ginny. I can’t promise you that we will all see the end of this mess, no one can. But I can promise you one thing. I will do everything I can to stop him, whatever it may take. But I will also do everything I can to come back to you, so we can have a future together.”

Ginny looked up at him silently.

“That’s why we’re doing it.” Harry continued. “That’s why we can’t just stand by and let others do the work. That’s why we have to fight. Because none of us can ever think of a future as long as Voldemort is alive.”






When Harry woke up the next morning, he instantly realized they had fallen asleep together again. Harry looked at Ginny’s peaceful face for a few moments until someone nearby cleared their throat. Harry jumped. He had thought they were still alone in the common room. He sat up and saw his godfather sitting in an armchair nearby, watching him with raised eyebrows.

“We fell asleep last night.” Harry said quickly. “We didn’t… Nothing happened or anything.”

Sirius grinned. “Well I had guessed if you chose to take your relationship a step further you would have found a more appropriate place for that.”

“It’s nothing like that.” Harry said.

“Relax, Harry. I know it’s not.” Sirius laughed. “We never had that talk, did we? Maybe we should do that soon.”

To his consternation Sirius seemed to mean the last part.

“What are you doing here anyway?”, he quickly asked before Sirius could start to tell him everything about the birds and the bees.

Ginny started to stir on the couch and slowly opened her eyes.

“Who are you talking to, sweetie?” she mumbled.

“To me, pumpkin.” Sirius said dryly.

“Sirius! What are you doing here?”

“I was just about to say.” Sirius grinned. “Dumbledore sent me a Patronus this morning, asking me to meet him as soon as possible and to bring you, Harry.”

Harry looked stunned. “Why? Is it about Jacinta?”

“No idea.” Sirius admitted. “But we’d better go and see now. See you later, cutie pie!” he called to Ginny as he followed Harry through the portrait hole.

The scatter pillow missed him only by an inch.

 

Harry entered Dumbledore’s office with Sirius in his wake.

“Good morning, Professor.” Harry said politely.

Only then he saw that there was another man in the room. He seemed to be around Sirius’ age and he looked slightly familiar to Harry. Dumbledore and the man were both looking very pale and had heavy bags under their eyes, as if they hadn’t slept at all that night. Harry turned to Sirius, ready to exchange a clueless look, but his godfather was staring at the stranger with wide eyes.

“This isn’t possible.” he muttered.

“Hello, Sirius.” the stranger said. His voice trembled slightly.

Sirius plumped down into one of the chairs in front of Dumbledore’s desk.

“How?” he asked.

“It’s a long story.” the stranger said.

“What the hell is going on?” Harry asked urgently. “Sorry, sir.” he added quickly when he realized what he had said, but Dumbledore smiled at him.

“Maybe you should sit down too, Harry.” he said. “It is indeed a long story and I think you should both here it.”

“Who are you?” Harry asked the stranger.

The man turned to him and said: “My name is Regulus.”

The name was certainly familiar, but he couldn’t place it immediately.

“Regulus Black.” the stranger added.

An image of the Black family tapestry flashed before his eyes and he remembered what Sirius had told him about his family. He also realized where he recognized Regulus from. He looked very much like his mother.

“You’re Sirius’ brother?” he asked dumbfounded. He looked at Sirius who was still frozen in his seat. “But didn’t you – I mean – weren’t you…”

“Dead?” Regulus said and for the first time a hint of a smile appeared on his face. “Yes, that’s what I wanted people to believe.”

He turned to Sirius and said solemnly: “I am really sorry, brother. I owe you an explanation.”

“I would think so.” Sirius grumbled. “Why don’t you start with the time you decided to join the Death Eaters!”

Regulus nodded. “I know that came as a shock to you. We may have had very different believes back then, but you knew I didn’t agree with the methods Voldemort used. I never dreamed of joining him.”

“Then why did you do it?” Sirius asked.

“Because I found out Voldemort’s secret.”

Harry quickly glanced at Dumbledore who nodded almost unnoticeably.

“It was at the wedding reception of Lucius and Narcissa.” Regulus continued. “We were in the garden of Malfoy Manor – me, Lucius, Narcissa and Bellatrix. Lucius was bragging about something of extreme importance Voldemort had given him to keep safe. I must admit I was quite curious and I persuaded him to show it to me.”

“The diary.” Harry said.

“Indeed.” Regulus said with a short nod in Harry’s direction. “I recognized it immediately for what it was.”

“How did you recognize a Horcrux?” Sirius asked.

“You know about the Horcruxes?” Harry asked surprised.

"I informed a few select members of the Order about the Horcruxes after our last meeting." Dumbledore explained.

“This is all really confusing.” Harry grumbled and Dumbledore smiled.

“So, how did you recognize it?” Sirius insisted. “You weren’t planning on – “

“No of course I wasn’t!” Regulus said firmly. “But I had come across the term once when I was reading and I admit that it quite intrigued me. I asked our father and he knew everything about it. But I would never sink to such low deeds, you must know that.”

Sirius looked at him sceptically and shrugged. “Then why would you keep quiet?” he asked. “You knew I had joined the Order of the Phoenix after I left Hogwarts. You could have told me and then Dumbledore would have known.”

“I didn’t trust anyone, Sirius.” Regulus stated. “I knew Dumbledore had spies among the Death Eaters and Voldemort had spies within the Order. I think you can imagine what would have happened to our family if Voldemort heard from one of his inside men I told Dumbledore about his greatest secret.”

Sirius sighed. “And you thought the next best thing would be joining him?”

“I thought that it would place me in a position to find out more. And I did. I found out about at least three other Horcruxes. One of them is in my possession.”

“What are they?” Harry asked eagerly. “Which one do you have?”

Regulus gestured to Dumbledore and the latter opened the top drawer of his desk. He pulled out an old golden locket with a snake-like S on the front.

“Slytherin’s locket!” Harry said. “Where did you find it?”

“It was hidden in a cave somewhere up north.” Regulus said.

“A cave.” Harry mused. He turned to Dumbledore. “Was it – “

“The same.” Dumbledore nodded.

“The protection was rather effective.” Regulus continued. “It would have been my death if it weren’t for Kreacher. He apparated me away when I was attacked by Inferi.”

“Kreacher?” Harry asked involuntarily.

“He was our house elf back when we were kids.” Sirius explained. “Nasty piece of work, he was.”

“What happened to him anyway?” Regulus asked.

“He died.” Sirius said. “Right before I moved back into Grimmauld Place, by the looks of it. I think he might have seen it coming that I’d return.”

“I’m sorry to hear that.” Regulus said.

“Yeah, you would be.” Sirius grumbled.

“So you had found the locket.” Harry said. “What were the other two you knew off?”

“Firstly, there’s his snake, Nagini.” Regulus said. “I can’t be one hundred per cent sure of that one, but Voldemort has an unusual control over her, even for a Parselmouth. The only logical explanation seemed to me that a piece of his soul resided within her body. But Dumbledore told me you already thought of that too.” He nodded to Harry again. “I am afraid I never got the chance to kill the beast though.”

“What about the other one?” Sirius asked.

“Yes you have not told me about that one either.” Dumbledore said.

“Well I don’t really know what it is exactly, except that it once belonged to Rowena Ravenclaw. It’s supposed to be hidden here somewhere.”

“What do you mean, here?” Harry asked. “Here in the castle?”

“At Hogwarts, yes.”

Harry looked at Dumbledore. All this time they had been discussing places of significance to Voldemort, but they had never thought of Hogwarts.

“But how did he get it here?” Sirius asked. “Surely, this was a long time after he graduated. And you don’t simply walk into Hogwarts.”

“Of course…” Dumbledore said. “Voldemort visited me all those years ago to ask for a job. I was certain that he knew I would never hire him, but he still came. I was convinced he had a reason, but I never found out…”

“So now you did.” Regulus said.

“You have to explain one more thing to me, Regulus.” Sirius said  after a long silence. “I believe everything you told us, but why did you disappear. Why did you make everyone believe you were dead. If you were really opposing him, than there was no reason to hide after he disappeared, was there?”

“Lucius and Narcissa caught me when I was trying to steal the diary from Malfoy Manor.” Regulus explained. “I knew my game was over. Once Voldemort heard about it, he would know and he would be able to use other measures to maintain his immortality. I narrowly escaped, but I knew I had to flee the country. I went into hiding in Belgium for a long time. I didn’t return when Voldemort fell, because I knew the Malfoys had talked their way out of Azkaban as expected and our cousin Bellatrix hadn’t been caught yet either. We both know what she’d like to do to me now that I betrayed her master.”

Sirius nodded grimly.

“I only returned briefly once to ask Kreacher to spread the rumour that I had been killed by Voldemort himself shortly before his downfall.” Regulus continued. “That way I was sure our family would be left alone by the remaining Death Eaters and Voldemort wasn’t there to contradict the rumours.”

“Why didn’t you ever contact me?” Sirius asked.

“The whole world thought you had changed sides shortly before Voldemort disappeared.” Regulus said. “And I was silly enough to believe them. Probably more evidence of how little we knew each other.”

Sirius nodded slowly. “You seem a different man than you were before.”

“I am.” Regulus said. “I have learned a lot over the past years and I see now how insignificant lineage and origins really are. I know we had a lot of problems in the past, Sirius, but I hope we can get that behind us now.”

He held out his hand and after shortly hesitating Sirius shook it.

Dumbledore seemed extremely pleased about the reunion of the Black brothers. “Alright.” he said after a few silent moments. “We finally have a Horcrux in our possession. I think it is about time we got rid of it, don’t you?”

They all nodded. Suddenly Harry realized that despite the fact that he and Dumbledore had talked about the Horcuxes for hours together, they never really discussed this point. “Er, how?” he asked.

“Pardon me?” Dumbledore said politely.

“How are we going to destroy it? It won’t be as easy as just to smash it, will it?”

“Oh no, certainly not.” Dumbledore agreed. “But surely, you remember how you destroyed Tom Riddle’s diary in the Chamber of Secrets, Harry?”

“I stabbed it with a Basilisk fang.” Harry said slowly.

“Indeed you did. Basilisk venom is one of the few substances that can destroy a Horcrux.”

“Do you mean we have to go down there?” Harry asked.

He knew there wasn’t any danger anymore in the Chamber as the Basilisk had been killed, but it wasn’t a place he fancied to visit anytime soon.

“Heavens no.” Dumbledore chuckled. “Although that might be a solution for the future when we have no other choice. But for now, I think we can use this.”

He walked over to the wall and took down the sword of Godric Gryffindor.

“The sword?” Harry asked puzzled.

“Yes.” Dumbledore said simply.

“I don’t understand.”

“That’s the sword you killed the Basilisk with, isn’t it?” Sirius asked as he was looking at the sword in awe.

“Of course...” Regulus said. “The sword is Goblin-made, I guess?”

Dumbledore nodded encouragingly.

“Then it should work”, Regulus agreed.

“Sorry, what does the fact that it’s made by Goblins have to do with it?” Harry asked.

“Metal that has been forged by Goblins repels all substances” Dumbledore explained. “Therefore the sword never needs to be polished or anything of the sort. Dirt and rust don’t have any influence on it.”

“So…”

“There are some substances that it would absorb. In general, anything that makes it stronger.”

Harry was speechless for a moment, but then he understood. “The sword’s impregnated with the Basilisk venom!”

“Exactly.” Dumbledore said. “And therefore I would think it is capable of destroying Horcruxes.”

He walked over to a three-legged table by the window and put the locket on it.

“Who would like to do the honours?”

Regulus and Sirius looked at each other briefly.

“I’ll do it.” Sirius said.

He took the sword from Dumbledore, lifted it above his head and struck the locket. Except he didn’t.

“I can’t touch it.” Sirius frowned as he was seemingly probing the air surrounding the locket.

“Of course.” Dumbledore said. “It has to be opened.”

“I tried that.” Regulus said. “Dozens of times. It won’t budge.”

“No, it would not." Dumbledore said slowly. “I think there’s only one way to open it.”

“How?” Sirius asked impatiently.

“We will simply have to ask it to. In Parseltongue.”

“Well, we’re screwed then." Regulus said. “The only known Parselmouth alive is Voldemort and he’s not bloody likely to help us, is he.”

“You forget who’s with us." Sirius grinned and he looked at Harry. Regulus looked at him disbelievingly.

Harry looked intensely at the snake-like S on the locket and imagined it to be a real snake.

“Open.” he said with a low hissing sound. The locket clicked open and Sirius stepped forward with the sword ready.

A terrified scream came out of the locket. Harry felt his insides turn to ice. He knew that scream. He had heard it hundreds of times in his dreams or when he was near Dementors, when he was forced to relive the last moments of his parents’ lives.

Sirius paled as he stared at the locket. “Lily.” he muttered.

“Don’t wait, Sirius. Stab it!” Regulus said firmly, but Sirius was staring as if he was in a trance at the two figures that rose out of the windows of the locket.

“Why did you kill us?” the form of James said, but he spoke with the voice of Tom Riddle.

“I – I didn’t.” Sirius stammered.

“You told us to change Secret Keepers.” the Riddle-Lily said. “You told us to choose him. You murdered us.”

“I thought we were best friends, but you couldn’t even do that for us when we were in danger.” the Riddle-James continued. “You could have kept us safe. You could have saved us. But you killed us instead. Murderer.”

“Murderer.” the Riddle-Lily repeated with a high unnatural voice. “Traitor!”

With an agonizing scream Sirius forced the sword into the locket. One last shriek and the Horcrux was destroyed. Harry looked at his godfather. He was white as a sheet and he had tears in his eyes.

“I’m so sorry, Harry.” Sirius said. “But it’s true. I did kill them.”

He collapsed into a chair and put a trembling hand before his eyes. Harry sat down beside him.

“It’s been almost fifteen years and still not a day goes by that I don’t think about what I should have done differently back then. If I had used my brains your parents would still be alive today and you wouldn’t have this horrible burden to bear.”

“I don’t blame you.” Harry said. “You told me what happened the first night I met you and I have never blamed you for it. And neither do they. Those weren’t real. It was just one of Voldemort's sick, twisted tricks.”

Harry looked at his headmaster. Dumbledore was as white as a sheet too.

“I have made many mistakes back then too, Sirius.” he said. “And it’s keeping me awake just as much as it does you, I think. But we cannot live in the past. They have moved on. And so should we.”






“If only. Those must be the two saddest words in the world” – Mercedes Lackey 


Chapter 27: O.W.L.'s and Surprises
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Chapter 27: O.W.L.'s and Surprises


“That was great everyone. Thank you. We’ll see each other next year.” Harry said.

It was the end of the last DA meeting of the year. The next week, fifth and seventh years would already start O.W.L. and N.E.W.T. exams and the other years would start their own exams not much later. None of the DA members seemed to be in a hurry to leave however, and they all hung out in the Room of Requirement for a while.

After they had been chatting for a while, Seamus suddenly said: “What if something happens during the holidays?”

“What do you mean?” Harry asked.

“Well, if the Death Eaters attack somewhere during the summer… I know we’re not going to fight all the time, but if there is an attack and one of us is in danger. We should have a way to warn each other, right? Owls are too slow.”

“You’re right.” Harry said. “But I don’t know…” He looked helplessly over to Hermione.

“I already thought of that.” Hermione said.

“Of course you did.” Colin Creevey grinned.

Hermione gave him a warning look before she said: “I have been working on a variation of the Protean Charm. You know the one I used on the coins? I think I might alter them so we can send each other small messages.”

“But there is no known variation on the Protean Charm, is there?” Michael Corner asked. He looked at the other Ravenclaws who all shook their heads.

“Well, no.” Hermione admitted. “I kind of – you know – invented it myself.”

She reddened slightly when they all watched her with open mouths.

“You invented your own spell?” Fred asked weakly.

“Well it wouldn’t be the first time.” Harry said. “You discovered that four point spell last year. But this is far more advanced, isn’t it?”

“It’s not really a new spell.” Hermione said modestly. “I just changed the formula a bit. And I’m not even sure it will work.”

“Of course it will.” Ginny said confidently. “You’re absolutely brilliant Hermione.

The others nodded agreeingly.

“We should have a place where we can get together outside of Hogwarts too.” Ron said slowly. “I mean if something happens over the summer and we need to get together, we won’t be able to get into the Room of Requirement. We should have a fixed place where we can meet safely before we do something. Even when that charm of Hermione’s works, we will only be able to send very short messages.”

“What about Grimmauld Place?” Ginny asked.

Ron nodded, but Harry shook his head.

“Not everyone can get in there. The only fireplace that’s connected to the Floo Network of Grimmauld Place is The Burrow. For obvious reasons. Otherwise anyone could get in.”

“Hogsmeade?” Parvati proposed.

“Too dangerous. It would be kind of suspicious if we suddenly turned up with all of us in the Three Broomsticks during the holidays.” Hermione said.

“What about the Shrieking Shack then?” Ron offered.

“I’m not going into the Shrieking Shack!” Lavender said immediately.

“It’s too dangerous anyway.” Hermione said. “Wormtail knew how to get in there. He probably told Voldemort. Don’t you think it would seem like a good hiding place for the Death Eaters?”

Harry nodded. “Well, I’ll talk to Dumbledore about it. Maybe he’ll know something.”

“It’s 10.30h.” Hermione pointed out. “We broke curfew again.”

“You’re going to have to give us detention, Hermione.” George smirked.

“Otherwise we’re never going to learn.” Fred added.






It became quickly clear that the last D.A. meeting was the last fun they would have for a very long time. All that was happening in their lives was studying right now. Harry had one last lesson with Dumbledore planned on Thursday. His last lesson with Snape had already passed. Harry could push Snape out of his mind now if he tried to invade it and he had learned a lot of useful spells from him too. The only thing that still troubled him was Legilimency. Snape had told him that he definitely had an aptitude for it, but he just needed practice. He already promised him to try and come by Grimmauld Place as much as he could to continue his lessons.

When Harry met with Dumbledore for his last lesson, he was disappointed to hear his headmaster hadn’t found the time yet to search for the rest of the Horcruxes. Apparently there had been a lot of problems at the Ministry lately, because it had been infiltrated by several Death Eaters and Scrimgeour seemed to count on Dumbledore to clean up his mess. Therefore, there wasn’t really new information for them to discuss and they just talked about the investigation of the Aurors and the progress of Dumbledore’s Army. Dumbledore seemed to be extremely pleased about the latter.

Right before Harry would leave, he suddenly remembered something he needed to ask Dumbledore. “Professor, could I ask you something?”

“You just did, Harry.” Dumbledore said and Harry smiled involuntarily when he thought of the memory of his first year. “Go ahead.”

“Actually, it was something Ron said at our final meeting.” Harry said. “We were talking about communicating with each other over the summer in case one of us was in danger. Ron said that we should have a place outside of Hogwarts where we can meet safely. We thought of Grimmauld Place of course, but well, no one can get in there except for members of the Order.”

Dumbledore nodded. “That is quite perceptive of Mr Weasley.” he said. “And as for sending each other messages…?”

“Oh, Hermione already took care of that.” Harry said. He quickly explained about the Protean Charm and the alterations Hermione managed to make. Dumbledore looked genuinely impressed.

“Very impressive.” he mumbled. “Very clever indeed. Of course Miss Granger is one of the cleverest students Hogwarts has seen in decades. But still…”

Harry smiled to himself as he thought of what Hermione’s face would look like if she had heard the headmaster.

“So you have already overcome that problem.” Dumbledore said. “As for the second part, may I suggest the Hog’s Head?”

“The Hog’s Head?” Harry asked surprised. “We thought of Hogsmeade, but we thought it would be suspicious if a large group of students suddenly appeared there during the holidays.”

“Indeed it would.” Dumbledore said. “But you could use the Floo Network or apparate directly into the bar for those of you who can. The Hog’s Head is rarely full and those who go there never ask many questions.”

“But still...” Harry said slowly. “It’s kind of public, isn’t it?”

“Well yes, but I am sure the owner can provide you with private quarters, if needed." Dumbledore said. “He won’t mind.” he added when Harry wanted to interrupt.

“You know him well?”

“We are quite familiar, yes.”

“Well, I guess that will be it then." Harry said, still not really sure about the whole idea.

“Great. I will ask Aberforth myself, but I don’t think he’ll have any problems with it. He can be a bit blunt, but he’s a good man.”

“Aberforth?” Harry asked, remembering the name Dumbledore had mentioned once before. “Wasn’t he – ?”

“My brother, yes.”






The next two weeks were dominated by the exams. The first exam for the fifth years on Monday would be Charms. When they entered the Great Hall where the theoretical part of the exam would take place, they saw that the staff table and the house tables had disappeared and were replaced by dozens of small tables for the students to take their exams.

Although he never suffered much of school-related stress, Harry felt slightly nervous when Professor McGonagall handed out the exams.

All the fifth years turned over their parchments simultaneously as Professor McGonagall told them they could start and turned around the giant hourglass that stood in front of them. Harry breathed out slowly and started to read the first question:

How does the Protean Charm work and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

Harry quickly glanced at Hermione who was seated two seats in front of him on the left. He saw that she was already smiling at him knowingly. He smiled back, turned back to his parchment and started to write.






After the first week had passed, Harry was relatively content about his exams. Charms had been quite easy for him, as was Care of Magical Creatures. Divination had been a disaster of course, but Herbology and Astronomy had gone fairly well.

They still had four exams left after the weekend and the first two were the worst. Professor McGonagall had told him which N.E.W.T.’s he needed to get into Auror training and Potions and Transfiguration were two of them. He would need at least an Exceeds Expectations to get into McGonagall’s N.E.W.T. class and he knew he didn’t receive that mark from her much. Potions seemed to be the biggest problem. Despite the fact that Snape had been much more lenient towards Harry, he still refused to let anyone into his N.E.W.T. class who didn’t receive an Outstanding on his O.W.L.. Harry’s potion making skills had improved drastically, thanks to a lot of useful hints from Snape, but he still didn’t quite reach that level.

Monday evening after their Potions exam, the Gryffindors were complaining loudly in the common room. Even if the exam hadn’t been made by Snape, it still was one of the hardest, probably the hardest, they had had so far. Harry didn’t say much. His exam had gone surprisingly well and he was silently hoping he managed to get that O.

Transfiguration made him a lot less optimistic the next day. He managed to succeed in all the assignments during the practical exam, but he knew he had made several small mistakes. His examiner seemed to be unsure of his judgement until they came to the part of animal transfiguration.

“Now Mr Potter, if you would please transfigure this book into a small animal? Your choice.” the examiner said.

Harry pointed his wand and quickly looked over at Malfoy who just started his practical exam next to them. He knew Malfoy hadn’t really done anything to him lately, but he just couldn’t resist. “Viverra Mutatio!”

The examiner clapped into his hands enthusiastically as he watched the white ferret scurry around.

“Very good, Mr Potter! Very fine, indeed!”

Malfoy seemed a little less approving.

History of Magic the next day was another disaster, as was to be expected. The last exam was the only exam Harry had full confidence in and he actually looked forward to: Defence Against the Dark Arts.

Harry never thought he would ever enjoy an exam, but the practical part in the afternoon was rather a piece of cake. Various DA members were doing their practical exam at the same time as Harry and he was proud to see that they had little to no difficulties with the spells. Harry had taught them much more advanced magic during their meetings, way beyond O.W.L. level.

The end of the exams brought an exuberant atmosphere into Gryffindor common room that night. The next day they would return home for the holidays, but that night the common room finally hosted one of those famous Gryffindor parties again.

Harry and Ginny sat down on the couch and discussed their plans for the holidays. Seeing as the Death Eaters were openly showing themselves, they probably wouldn’t be able to leave the house at all for two months, but the fact that the Weasleys were staying at Grimmauld Place made a big difference. He wouldn’t be separated from Ginny at all this summer.

His eyes were drawn to the entrance of the common room when the portrait of the Fat Lady opened. He was surprised to see Albus Dumbledore climbing through the portrait hole. The noise in the common room ceased at once. The only teacher who they had ever seen in the common room was Professor McGonagall and she was head of Gryffindor. The fact that the headmaster was there now couldn’t mean good news and that foreboding wasn’t negated by the solemn look on Dumbledore’s face. Seamus Finnigan quickly stuffed two bottles of Firewhiskey under the cushions of an armchair.

“I am sorry to disturb you everyone. Harry, could you come with me for a moment please?”

Harry slowly stood from the couch and followed Dumbledore outside. His first thought was that Dumbledore had found another hiding place of a Horcrux and had fetched him to go and get it, but the troubled look in his headmaster's eyes confused him.

“I do not really know how to tell you this, Harry, but I do not have much time.” Dumbledore said. “Grimmauld Place is currently under attack.”

“What?” Harry asked. “What do you mean under attack? It’s protected by a Fidelius Charm.”

“I do not know how, but I received a Patronus from Remus Lupin ten minutes ago. Hagrid, Minerva and Nymphadora have already left to help them there. I need to leave too.”

“I need to go.” Harry said immediately.

Dumbledore sighed, but Harry knew he had expected him to say that. “I told you this because I thought you and the Weasleys should know as your families are there, but you will be safe here, Harry.”

“I don’t care.” Harry said stubbornly.

“Alright then.” Dumbledore sighed again. “But we cannot use the Floo Powder. We will take a Portkey from my office. Go fetch your friends.”

“My – my friends, sir?”

“Yes, Dumbledore’s Army.” Dumbledore said. “They will not thank you for it if you go there without them, Harry. I give you the choice to do what you think is best. You should not deprive them from the same choice.”

“But most of them don’t know anyone who lives there right now.” Harry said. “Why would they come?”

“Do it, Harry. Quickly.”

Harry looked at his headmaster for a moment and nodded. He jumped back into the common room and ran over to Ron, Hermione and Ginny.

“Harry, what’s wrong?” Ginny asked anxiously.

“They’re attacking Grimmauld Place, the Death Eaters.” Harry said quickly. “I have to go and help them. You guys can come if you want. You don’t have to.”

But the three of them had already jumped up and were making their way out of the common room, calling Fred and George on the way out. Lee Jordan immediately followed them.

“Grimmauld Place?” Neville asked. “Your house?”

Harry nodded and Neville walked towards him. “I’m coming with you.”

He was immediately joined by the rest of the fifth years and Alicia and Katie.

Harry looked at them surprised. “You all want to come?” he asked.

“Of course, you prat.” Seamus said. “Let’s go!”

Harry thought of resisting for a moment, but he immediately knew it wouldn’t help.

“How are we getting there?” Katie asked.

“Portkey.” Harry said. “Dumbledore’s arranging it.”

He quickly left the common room with the rest of the DA members from Gryffindor in his wake. They were watched leaving by the other students admiringly, sometimes enviously.

“Good, there you are.” Dumbledore said relieved. “Let’s go, quickly.”

Crossing the seventh floor towards Dumbledore’s office, Harry said to Hermione: “Shouldn’t we send a message to the rest? Luna would probably want to come.”

“Already did.” Hermione said. “And they’re all coming. The only one that didn’t respond was Zacharias.”

“Weaseled out, did he?” Dean said.

“Hey!” Ron and Ginny shouted together.

When they arrived at the gargoyle that led to Dumbledore’s office, the rest of the DA were already waiting for them.

“Zacharias?” Ron asked.

“He didn’t see the message and we didn’t tell him what was going on.” Ernie responded. “He’s – er – he’s not feeling too well.”

Harry raised his eyebrows at Justin. Justin grinned and mouthed ‘drunk’ to him.

“What about Colin and Dennis?” Luna said as they entered the office.

“Oh they had already gone to bed.” Hermione said. “We didn’t actually think about it… Should we have woken them?”

“Well, it’s too late now. We don’t have time.” Harry said.

He was secretly happy about it. He didn’t want Dennis fighting Death Eaters just yet if he could help it.

Meanwhile, Dumbledore had taken two books from his desk and gestured everyone to gather around him.

“Portus.” he said as he tapped both books. “This will take us to the highest bedroom of Grimmauld Place so we won’t appear in the middle of fighting. Before we go, I want to say that I truly appreciate that you are all here, but I have to ask you not to take unnecessary risks. Our primary concern is to protect each other and the inhabitants of Grimmauld Place.”

They all nodded and lay their finger on one of the books.

“Everyone ready? Three, two, one…”

Harry felt the familiar pull behind his navel and they were transported instantly to Grimmauld Place. They landed in a bedroom where the floor was covered in feathers.

“Didn’t Buckbeak stay here?” Harry asked Dumbledore.

“I did not think of that, to be honest.” Dumbledore said apologetically. He looked at the open door. “Seems like he left.”

“Buckbeak? Wasn’t that the Hippogriff that attacked Malfoy back in third year?” Seamus asked as they made their way to the door.

“Yeah, long story.” Harry said.

“Oh dear.” Dumbledore muttered as they came into the hallway.

Buckbeak had apparently cornered two Death Eaters who were searching the house and they were both cowering against the wall at the end of the hallway.

“This way, quickly.”

He led them to the staircase and they descended the stairs following the noise coming from downstairs. It became quickly clear that the fighting took place in the living room.

Dumbledore walked straight through the open door without a hint of fear or cautiousness with an anxious Harry in his wake. Dumbledore immediately took out four Death Eaters with one spell.

“It’s him!” one of the masked men shouted in panic and without another word he jumped out of the nearest window.

Harry saw Sirius battling a giant blond Death Eater who had pulled of his mask and he quickly jumped to his aid.

“About time!” Sirius shouted as they took the Death Eater on two against one.

“You mean you didn’t expect me to stay safely at Hogwarts?” Harry asked. “Protego!”

“Stupefy!” Sirius shouted. The red beam of light missed the Death Eater by an inch.

“Expelliarmus!” Harry shouted. The Death Eater’s wand flew into Harry’s outstretched hand.

“Incarcerous!” and the Death Eater was bound in robes and fell down. “You’re a Potter.” Sirius said simply. “I would have been baffled if you stayed safely at Hogwarts.”

Harry grinned.

They saw Regulus laying in a pool of blood by the fireplace and a hairy man scurried over to him on all fours.

“What is he doing?” Harry asked puzzled, but Sirius was already hurrying over to them.

“Greyback!” he shouted.

The man – if it was a man, he didn’t seem to be quite human – growled and turned around.

“Impedimenta!” and Greyback was thrown backwards over two people duelling viciously.

“Stupefy!” the masked person of the two said and the other, who Harry now recognized as Sturgis Podmore fell . The Death Eater pulled of her mask and Harry recognized her immediately.

“Well well, if it isn’t my two dearest cousins.” Bellatrix sneered. “You don’t look so good Regulus. Surely you knew you were choosing the losing side when you defected?”

Sirius attacked immediately. “Sectumsempra!”

Bellatrix jumped out of the way and her smile faded. “You dare use such spells, dear Sirius? Taken a fancy to our magic at last?”

“You’re insane.” Sirius growled. “Stupefy!”

Bellatrix blocked him and smirked again. “You can’t win from me, cousin. You never could and you never will. I think your time has come. Avada Kedavra!”

“No!” Harry shouted. He jumped towards Sirius and they both crashed into the ground on top of each other. Bellatrix’ killing curse skimmed over their heads and hit the wall, a few inches of James’ and Lily’s portrait.

“Impedimenta!”

Hermione’s voice came from nowhere and Bellatrix was thrown backwards in the same direction as Greyback.

“Thanks” Harry muttered.

“Bloody noble Potters.” Sirius mumbled. “You could have been killed.”

“So could you.” Harry rebuted.

Sirius slowly started to grin, but then –

“Quickly behind that couch!” he shouted.

The three of them jumped behind the couch as two more Killing curses came their way. The two short Death Eaters – they looked like brother and sister – came their way, but were taken out by Cho and Luna.

“Nice one.” Sirius said, receiving a sweet smile from Luna that seemed to threw him of his balance for a bit.

They looked around them and saw that the fight was almost over. A lot of the Death Eaters had fled when Dumbledore arrived. Harry saw Ron take out the final Death Eater with a well-timed stunning spell and he quickly bound him so he couldn’t escape too.

“Where’s Bellatrix?” Sirius said.

“She’s gone.” Dumbledore said walking over to them. “She fled the moment she saw me.”

“Bloody coward.” Sirius grumbled.

“If she was brave she wouldn’t be a Death Eater.” Lupin said calmly while Tonks and Mrs Weasley were taking care of Regulus. Harry and Sirius kneeled beside them.

“Will he be alright?” Harry asked with a look at the white, concerned face of his godfather.

“He’ll be fine.” Mrs Weasley reassured them. “But he has lost a lot of blood. He will have to rest for a while.”

“How did they get in?” Ron asked sharply. “The Fidelius Charm didn’t just stop working. We must have been betrayed. Who is the Secret Keeper?”

“I am, Mr Weasley.” Dumbledore said calmly.

Ron turned red immediately. “But – but then, how?” he stammered.

“A question I have asked myself also.” Dumbledore said, turning to Sirius, but it was Bill that answered him.

“The Floo Network.” he said. “They used the Floo Network.”

Harry frowned. That was impossible, wasn’t it? You could Floo out of Grimmauld Place, but the only place from where you could Floo in was…

“The Burrow.” Dumbledore said, just as Harry reached the same conclusion. “We didn’t turn off the Floo connection with the Burrow after the Weasleys moved in here.”

Sirius cursed loudly. “I’ll do it immediately.”

He left the living room and they heard him descend the stairs towards the kitchen.

“So they got into the Burrow?” Molly asked weakly. She and Tonks had just returned from bringing Regulus to his bedroom.

“I am afraid so.” Dumbledore said. “I am very sorry, Molly.”

“The important thing is that we weren’t there.” Arthur stated, putting an arm around his wife’s shoulders. “We’re all safe here now. They won’t be able to get in again.”

Meanwhile Harry was already checking up on all the DA members. He was extremely relieved to see that all of them were unharmed, accept for some scratches and bruises. After he had made sure everyone would be fine he turned back to Dumbledore.

“Why did they attack?” he asked. “They knew I wouldn’t be here.”

Dumbledore quickly glanced at the other DA members before he answered and Harry knew he was wondering how much he had told them.

“I think they wanted to drive you out of here. Voldemort wants you to think you’re not safe here. He wants you out in the open so he can finish this.”

He seemed to thinking for a minute before he said: “He wants to finish this before you get stronger. I think he is more afraid of you than you are of him, Harry.”

A long silence followed. “What?” Harry asked, half laughing. “Why would he be afraid of me? He’s one of the most powerful wizards in the world. I’m not even sixteen years old yet.”

“Age plays a small role when it comes to power, Harry.” Dumbledore said. “Just as small as ancestry does. You survived when he tried to kill you as a baby and he has been trying to get to you ever since. You stopped him from stealing the Philosopher’s Stone when you were only eleven years old... There is something about you, Harry, that Voldemort does not understand, nor match. And I am fairly confident that that will be the reason of his demise.”

Harry looked around him at his friends and family and saw they were all looking at him with a mixture of pride and awe. “But still”, he said stubbornly. “I’m not nearly as powerful as he is.”

“Oh you have a power, Harry, that exceeds all the powers Voldemort has combined.” Dumbledore said earnestly. “That power has saved your life on numerous occasions. It saved Sirius’ life when he was caught and it saved Ginny’s life in the Chamber of Secrets.”

“What power?” Harry asked puzzled.

“Love, Harry.” Sirius said from the doorway. “Love.”






“Love is not the opposite of power. Love IS power. Love is the strongest power there is” – Vironika Tugaleva



 

A/N: So this is the final chapter of this story. I know the story isn’t finished, but I decided to start a new story, so this one wouldn’t get stretched out too much. The new story will be titled ‘This Is The End’ and as the title says it will lead up to the final confrontation with Voldemort.

I want to thank all of you who read this story and especially those who left kind reviews. I hope you stay with me for the sequel and I hope you like it too.

Teddy 


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