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Dumbledore looked graver than Harry had ever seen him. Sirius sat up straighter, valiantly attempting to keep the look of pain that it caused him off his face. “What is it?” Sirius asked at once. Dumbledore moved closer to them and wearily sat down in a chair. “It has finally dawned on me exactly what happened in the Room of Requirement.” “What happened?” Harry asked, his heart pounding. The old man gazed at the two of them, seemingly solemn. “Harry, I just need to know before I tell this to you. . . was that the only occasion where Ron was not acting like himself?” Harry was about to say, “Yes, of course!” but stopped. He slowly shook his head. Sirius stared at him. “Why didn’t you say anything?” Sirius exclaimed. “Hermione and I didn’t know what it was!” Harry said. “And I thought he was just—just talking in his sleep or something. . .” “Harry,” the old man said urgently. “What did Ron do?” “Well, one time we were walking to the dungeons for Potions—“ “Which could addle anyone’s brains,” Sirius muttered, earning himself a reproachful look from Dumbledore. “Please continue,” Dumbledore said. “And then,” Harry said cautiously, not knowing what his tale would bring, “Ron stopped and kind of blinked, and he said that he had seen a bunch of people in dark robes.” “Were there any other instances?” “Yes, one,” Harry said. “I heard him talking in his sleep, saying something about having to—um—Malfoy’s dirty work or something.” Sighing heavily, Dumbledore leaned back in his chair and formed his fingers into a steeple. “Then that merely proves my theory.” “Which was. . .” Sirius prompted. “It is my suspicion that Ron has been possessed by Lord Voldemort.” The silence in the hospital wing was profound. It was finally broken by Sirius. “But how?” “Sirius,” Dumbledore said. “Remember when we were in St. Mungo’s due to the Ethereal Plague?” “Yes, what about it?” Sirius asked. “I had to search your mind,” Dumbledore said quietly, and Sirius flinched involuntarily. “I was under the impression that, if Ron healed properly, he would be able to close off the connection between himself and Voldemort. However, it appears I was gravely mistaken.” Harry was about to give him a scathing reply of, “Well, we’re getting used to that, aren’t we?!” but held himself back. Sirius, who must have noticed Harry’s restraint, took over. “So Voldemort was using Ron to try and get to Harry?” “Yes,” Dumbledore said. “He knew that he could not kill Harry directly, and so used his Plague to try and attack him through other means.” “That’s right,” Sirius said, comprehension dawning on his face. “Ron said, back in St. Mungo’s—something about ‘whispers’—“ “Whispers following him to the ends of the earth,” Dumbledore said. “Voldemort must have known that his Plague might not be successful, and thus created his back up plan. He could use anyone his Plague touched, but he focused on Ron because Harry would never suspect him. It was a clever plan.” “Clever?” Sirius snapped. “And what do we do now? Ron’s possessed!” “Undoubtedly he has surmised that Ron will serve another purpose,” Dumbledore said, standing up to stare out of the window. “But if this is the case, then Hogwarts is no longer safe for Harry.” “What?!” Sirius and Harry exclaimed at the same time. “Don’t you see?” Dumbledore asked, turning to face him. “If Voldemort could manipulate Ron, he could manipulate anyone else that was infected. How many other boys in your dormitory fell? How many in the Gryffindor Common Room? At any moment they could turn on you.” Harry stared at him. “Voldemort wants this,” he said slowly. “He wants me out of the castle.” “Indeed it would appear,” Dumbledore said. “But where should he go?” Sirius asked. “Grimmauld Place?” Even in the tense air, Harry could see the distaste of those words on his godfather’s lips. “For the time being,” Dumbledore said. “Although Kreacher may have alerted our enemies to our Headquarters, it is the only safe place as of now.” “Can I go with him?” Sirius asked. Dumbledore hesitated, and then shook his head. “Remus is still unconscious,” the Headmaster said gently. “And we do need a Defense Against the Darks Arts professor.” “But Harry can’t stay there all by himself!” Sirius shouted. “Sirius, please, calm yourself!” Dumbledore said firmly. “You can follow him soon, but he has to leave as soon as possible. Tonight, if that can be arranged.” Harry could not say anything. It was all happening so fast that it seemed unreal. “Can you walk, Harry?” Dumbledore asked. Harry nodded immediately. The old man sighed. “Then we shall go to your dormitory and gather your things. . . you will be leaving immediately.” Harry gave Sirius a tortured look, and his godfather let out a deep groan. “I hate this, Albus,” he said. “Yes, Sirius, I know,” Dumbledore said heavily. “But Harry must be out of the line of fire until we sort this out.” He looked at Harry. “Come now. . . we must get your trunk.” *My apologies for not updating sooner… trying to pass classes, you know…. Sorry it’s short! I’ll do more later this week.

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