Chapter 29 Inner Connection Joséphine stirred and tried to get her bearings. She couldn’t recollect what happened or where she was except for a few hazy pictures of being in several parts of the school, but she had no sense of time. She remembered the nightmare she had of hearing Harry screaming in agony, and the dark maniacal voice of Voldemort that she had heard before from Harry’s memories. But this had been different. As soon as she had woken, she sensed Harry’s erratic bursts of magic and she had run to his room to wake him. She had touched his cheek and instantly she’d been drawn into Harry’s nightmare. She tried to help, and the last thing she could remember clearly was Harry opening his eyes. She had whirled around to see a bolt of green light impact her as Harry pulled them both awake. Now, she had woken up to a dark room and squinted and rubbed her eyes. She realized then that something felt off. Joséphine opened her eyes and stared at her hands and could barely focus on them. Something compelled her to reach to the bedside table for her glasses. Glasses? She didn’t wear glasses Nonetheless, she placed a pair of glasses on her face. Her hands looked so different. She sat up and examined her hands then she noticed something else. Her chest was flat! She palpated her breasts and instead of the soft curves of her small breasts, her chest was flat and her muscles taut. Only then, she realized that she was wearing a boy’s uniform, and then she felt something really strange and unfamiliar between her legs. Without thinking she automatically reached for the bump in her pants. Her hand jerked back, she was stunned. Qu’est-ce que c’est!? She jumped from the bed and raced to a mirror, and noticed in passing that she was in the boys’ dormitory and not her own. “Mon dieu! Ceci ne peut pas se produire! Ceci ne peut pas être vrai!” She stopped in front of the mirror, but instead of her reflection she stared at the pair of green eyes behind round rimmed glasses staring right back at her, a lightning bolt scar was on her forehead. She screamed in horror, “Ce n’est pas possible!” “Harry, are you alright?” Ron asked seeing Harry looking horrified and frightened. But what surprised him was that Harry had been speaking in French. “Je ne suis pas Harry! Eet’s me! Joséphine!” Harry exclaimed with a perfect imitation of Joséphine’s accent. His voice was even higher pitched than normal, but it was his voice. Hermione and Ron were horrified. Harry had gone mad! “WHAT?” They both exclaimed in unison. “I don’t know ‘ow eet ‘appen, but I am trapped in Harry’s body,” Joséphine gushed frantically. “Oh my God!” Hermione exclaimed as it dawned on her that it wasn’t Harry barking mad. “It is you in there!” Harry nodded. “How can that be possible? And where is Harry?” Ron asked bewildered. “Ow, my head. Hermione do you have a potion or something for this headache?” Harry shook his head as if to rid himself of the unpleasantness and asked in his normal voice. “Harry?” Harry looked up to them. “Yes?” he noticed their bewildered looks. Hermione grabbed him by the hand and began to drag him. “We’re going to Dumbledore’s right now.” “What? Why? Wait a minute!” Harry pulled his hand back. “Harry, listen to me. When Joséphine tried to transfer her magical energy into you, something must have happened and she transferred herself, her soul, her presence or something… but she is trapped inside of you!” “Do you have any idea how crazy that sounds?!” Harry exclaimed. “I know, but think about it. You’ve been feeling really weird and weird things keep happening. I was worried that you might have received some sort of brain damage because you seemed confused, then you would exclaim something in French, and then be back to normal. I know you’ve felt her presence… you said so yesterday. Just now you went to bed, and then you got up and screamed and told us you were Joséphine!” “I did?” Ron nodded in affirmative. “Dumbledore needs to know… if Joséphine is trapped inside your body, then we have to do something,” Hermione said and began to drag him again. Harry followed her completely shocked. “’Ermione? Where are wee going?” Harry’s voice became high pitched and the French accent returned. “To see Dumbledore. I’ve explained things to Harry already… you are trapped in Harry’s body with him and you are flipping back and forth between the two and we need to…” “I can walk by myself,” Harry said jerking his hand away from Hermione. “Sorry, I was trying to explain things to Jo,” Hermione said and Harry hurried to catch up to her. Ron was walking behind them. “Really?” He walked next to her and just couldn’t believe that he would blank out and she would take over. He was not aware of her at all. They reached the office. “Smarties,” Harry exclaimed and the trio raced up the escalating steps. The door to the office was open and Dumbledore was facing the windows, looking out to the grounds. He turned around to face them, a bit surprised to see them. Hermione began to speak really fast, while Harry seemed to be lost in concentration. Dumbledore asked her to slow down and made them take a seat. Hermione began explaining things and Dumbledore’s eyebrows rose into his forehead. He looked at Harry. “Is this true?” Harry nodded confirming certain parts of Hermione’s story. After all, he wasn’t completely aware of Joséphine within him. “What do we do, Professor?” Hermione asked fidgeting with her hands in worry. Dumbledore formed a steeple with his hands and lowered his head a little, the tip of his index fingers almost touching his lips. The trio stayed quiet while Dumbledore seemed to think. “This situation is unusual. We must proceed with caution yet I fear that we must act at once. If what you say is true, that Miss Bellow is indeed within Harry’s being and the fact that she is now surfacing completely taking over Harry’s body and mind, it may be potentially serious in which both her and Harry will be hurt permanently…” Dumbledore began in seriousness and Hermione gasped a little with horror. She looked like her suspicions were being confirmed. “How do we reverse it?” Harry asked frowning. “First, I believe we must learn more about how this is possible before we proceed. I also believe that this is closely related to your Mageabilities and that Professor Donovan might be able to share some light on this incident. Unfortunately, I have been unable to locate him. The Ministry is unwilling to reveal his location to me, and all forms of communication attempts have failed,” Dumbledore said, clearly disturbed by this. “When is he supposed to be back?” Ron asked. “Not for another week.” None of them seemed to think that it would be a good idea to wait that long. “Harry I want you to try and think of every detail of your dream and Joséphine’s intervention. It might shed some clues,” Dumbledore said. Harry nodded and began to recollect everything he could. Hermione had hoped that Joséphine would surface again so they could ask her directly what she knew… but she didn’t. Dumbledore paced in front of his desk. He turned towards Harry. “Harry, would you mind if I try something?” “No Professor,” Harry said and Dumbledore pulled out his wand. “Legilimens,” Dumbledore muttered softly and tried to bypass Harry’s mind searching for Joséphine, but he was unable to find her. He broke the mind connection. “Mmmh.” “What?” Hermione said unable to help herself. “It appears that Miss Bellow is not part of Harry’s consciousness. Are you sure she is within him?” he asked again. So far he hadn’t really seen proof of her presence within Harry’s being, yet he believed them wholeheartedly. “Yes, Professor… but we don’t know what causes them to flip back and forth. It seems that while one is surfaced, they are not aware of the other,” Hermione offered. Dumbledore contemplated this new information and the trio remained silent. “Do you think you can make contact with her, Harry?” Dumbledore asked Harry suddenly. “I don’t know Professor, but I can try,” Harry said and closed his eyes, his brow furrowed with concentration. He didn’t know what he was looking for and felt foolish trying to talk to himself. He tried by calling her name. “Joséphine? Jo?” Nothing happened. “Professor… I think I can sense her…” Harry said frowning with his eyes closed… “But I can’t…” Harry opened his eyes and Dumbledore noticed a different quality to them. His body automatically changed positions, and the physical change was uncanny. Harry’s posture became more… effeminate. “Professeur?” Harry’s voice spoke with surprise in a higher pitch and he had a full French accent. “Joséphine?” Dumbledore asked astounded. He had prepared for the change, yet it was still quite disturbing to see the actual change. She nodded. Dumbledore began to explain his theory now to her, and she tried to recall everything that had happened that night. Mid-speech, Harry’s eyes opened wide, surprised, “I think I’ve found her!” he blurted in his normal voice. “We were just speaking to her,” Hermione said. “Really?” Harry asked baffled. He tried to contact Joséphine again, but he was unable. “I must speak with Joséphine to get all of the details,” Dumbledore said and sat down on his chair. “There must be a way to trigger the switch…” “Professeur, I may ‘ave an idea,” Joséphine spoke now catching Dumbledore slightly off-guard as he thought he was speaking to Harry. “I can try Psionic magic to create a connection ,” she offered tentatively. After a moment’s pause, Dumbledore nodded. Joséphine clasped her hands together and gasped. “I think this time I did find her!” Harry exclaimed excitedly. He wasn’t aware of his hands clasped together. “What do you meen you ‘ave found ’er?” “I’ve found you, inside me…” “Eet was me who found you…” Joséphine exclaimed. Ron was shaking his head frowning. “Excellent, can you maintain the connection… erm… Joséphine? “No, it’s Harry but yes, I can hear her now inside my head,” Harry replied to Dumbledore and paused as if thinking or perhaps Joséphine was saying something. “Can she come to the surface so I may speak with her?” “Eet’s me now…” Now that they had established a connection, inside Harry’s own head, they each could hear each other and also they could hear everyone else. He took over when he had a question. The three other people were bewildered to see them switching back and forth. “Will you quit it? I am trying to talk to the Professor!” Harry exclaimed annoyed. “Je suis désolé,” he answered to himself with a French accent. Then he switched back to Harry. Despite the graveness of the situation, Professor Dumbledore was becoming amused. Ron could only gape at them, and Hermione was frowning. They were all startled when an Eagle began to peck at the window. “That’s Professor Donovan’s!” Harry exclaimed and Dumbledore allowed the eagle to get through the window. “Is he coming back?” “Where is he?” the students asked, but Dumbledore took the note the eagle offered him and read it quickly. He took one look at the clock on the wall and rushed to the fireplace. He muttered something none of the three students could quite catch and jumped aside just as the fireplace burst green and a figure stumbled through, crashing onto the coffee table, knocking everything to the floor. “Finite Incantatem!” Dumbledore said aiming his wand at the fireplace, and the green flames died out, ceasing all noise. They all stared at Professor Donovan sprawled on the floor. He was trying to stand up, however it was difficult since he was covered from head to toe in a black slime that seemed extremely slippery. “Professor Donovan!?” Harry exclaimed and stood to help him. “Quite the stunt you have pulled Professor Donovan. How did you manage to gain access to my office through the Floo?” Dumbledore asked with a serious tone. “Emergency fire connection,” Donovan said standing up. “Did you receive any of my messages?” Dumbledore inquired wondering how Donovan knew to return early. “No; however I left Eni to keep an eye out on Harry and Joséphine, he always knows where I am. When I saw him I knew something must have happened and made arrangements to return sooner than expected.” “Eni?” Dumbledore queried. “My eagle,” Donovan motioned to the open window where the eagle stoically perched on the sill. At a nod from Donovan, the eagle took off. Harry watched as Donovan became really concerned to hear of what had happened. He once again retold the story of his nightmare, and Joséphine gave her take on her memories of the incident. It was long time before Donovan spoke again. “I want to first try to establish a connection between you and Joséphine’s body before we resort to any other methods,” Donovan said after a long pause. “I can’t be certain, but I hope that all we need to do is to provide for Josephine a way out of Harry’s body and into her own. I don’t make any guarantees, I myself do not understand how it is possible for her to have transferred into Harry,” Donovan cautioned. Dumbledore nodded and after another short discussion, he conjured a Portkey to St. Mungo’s. He suggested it would be best if Ron and Hermione stayed at Hogwarts, so the pair left Dumbledore’s office back to Gryffindor. Dumbledore told them that they would probably not be back until tomorrow, as long as everything went well. Hermione gave Harry a hug before she left, and Ron shook his hand. It was obvious that they were worried. Harry himself couldn’t deny that he was worried. What if it didn’t work? Would he have to live the rest of his life with Joséphine inside of him? I ‘ope not! What if he ended up in Joséphine’s body, and she in his and there was no way of changing it back? Harry, you are beginning to panic me! I am sure Professeur Donovan will set it right… Isn’t she the least bit worried about this situation? Of course I am, and I can ‘ear you… which by the way, your ‘ead is very beesy place… “Shut up!” Donovan and Dumbledore turned to look at Harry. Harry blushed and apologized. The three of them took the Portkey to St. Mungo’s then they were led to the small private room where Joséphine’s body lay on a bed. Before they entered, Dumbledore halted them. “Joséphine… this may be a bit of a shock. You might want to prepare yourself,” Dumbledore said grabbing Harry by the shoulders. He bit his lip and nodded. They entered the room and approached the sole bed. All sorts of magical machines were hooked up to the young girl. Joséphine was to the forefront and gasped. Donovan looked at Harry. His eyes rolled back and he fainted. Immediately, Harry took over and tried to catch himself, but still fell. “Joséphine… Joséphine!?” Harry muttered with his eyes closed and with an expression of worry. His facial lines changes and he becamed worried and agitated. “I’m sorry… eet was… too much,” Joséphine said as Dumbledore helped her to her feet. They spent some time with the Mediwitch in charge explaining the situation to her, and they made preparations in case something went wrong. “Joséphine, I want you to be in the forefront and I want you to summon some yellow magic before you attempt to establish a connection. I am not sure, but you may feel a strong pull to revert to yourself. If that’s the case, let your own body pull you, but be careful and conscious of Harry. We don’t want him to be pulled into you,” Donovan instructed and Joséphine nodded. “Are you ready?” Donovan asked. Harry/Joséphine nodded. Josephine reached for her own body’s hand and clutched it tightly. The moment both bodies touched hands she felt a strong pull, almost like being sucked towards her body. She resisted the urge to let go and was barely conscious to the fact that she was screaming. Harry felt Joséphine within his own body as she somehow ‘slipped’ past him. The pulling sensation stopped and he felt that Joséphine was now into her body and he found himself aware of his own. At that same moment, Joséphine’s body jerked and she sat up, opened her eyes wide and the two stared at each other; Harry was startled to see her eyes were green before they rolled towards the back of her head and she slumped onto the bed. Donovan jumped and held onto her to prevent her from falling off the bed. Harry’s legs gave way beneath him and he collapsed. Dumbledore caught him in his arms. While the Mediwitch began to frantically work with Joséphine whose magical medical equipment began to sound alarms. More Mediwitches rushed into the room. They pushed Donovan out of the way and he helped Dumbledore and a Mediwizard place Harry onto an empty bed. He had passed out. Another Mediwitch came over to examine him while someone escorted Dumbledore and Donovan outside of the room to wait. Harry regained consciousness and watched as the Mediwitches were trying to revive Joséphine whose heart had suddenly stopped. Harry’s heart stammered as he watched Joséphine’s body jerk with every shocking spell. “We have a pulse!” One Mediwitch shouted and Harry felt the vice grip in his heart loosen as he let his breath out. It was a while later that Joséphine was finally left to rest comfortably in her bed. Many of the whirring and weird contraptions that had been hooked up to her were removed. A Mediwizard noticed that Harry was awake and came over to assess his condition. She gave him a clean bill of health. “How is she?” Harry asked with worry. “She appears to be back to normal. She should be fine and will probably need some rest” the young man said to Harry with a reassuring smile. Dumbledore and Donovan were let back into the room. Harry was instructed to rest, and Dumbledore and Donovan said they would be back the next day to collect them. Very early the next morning, it was Donovan alone who returned for them. Dumbledore had remained at Hogwarts. In that brief instant that she had opened her eyes before collapsing again, Donovan saw that Joséphine’s eyes no longer were blue, and he frowned. He moved his hand to Joséphine’s face as he reached to stroke her cheek and see if he could rouse her. “Joséphine?” “Mmmh?” she answered back. She opened her eyes and blinked a few times. Her pale blue eyes took a moment to adjust to Donovan’s face. Donovan noticed their colour was back, and he frowned slightly before he smiled at her. “Eet worked,” she whispered hoarsely. “Is she alright?” Harry asked, wakened by the sound of their voices. Donovan nodded then asked “How are you feeling?” “I seem to be doing fine. You Jo?” “I am fine,” she replied and sat up on her bed. The Mediwitch in charge came to her bed. “If you would excuse us, I will examine her now,” she said as she began to look over at Joséphine. Donovan waited outside the room for a few minutes then Harry and Joséphine came out looking as healthy and normal as ever, so they left St. Mungos and headed back to Hogwarts. They arrived at the entrance and the Fat Lady was asleep. Before they went in, Donovan had a few words with them. “I would like to intensify your training Joséphine, to prevent your Psionic ability from escaping your control. Harry, I want you to begin taking Occlumency lessons. I believe that if you learn to understand about Occlumency, we might be able to prevent your mind connection with Joséphine and prevent another incident like this one. I will have to speak with the Headmaster first to approve.” Harry nodded. He had been putting off doing anything with Occlumency this year, he hadn’t really needed it since Voldemort seemed to be using Occlumency against him. Now he had no choice, he was supposed to be having lessons with Snape again, and now Donovan wanted him to start as well. Harry chose not to mention his lessons with Snape. He wondered if Donovan was an Occlumens as well, and if he would teach him. Harry also wondered if lessons would be better with him than with Snape. They watched Professor Donovan leave then Harry spoke the password. The Fat Lady grumbled as she swung open the door. “Harry! Jo!” Hermione exclaimed as she jumped from the couch effectively waking Ron, Fred, George, and Ginny who had stayed up waiting for Harry to return but they had all dozed off in the common room. They had not expected Joséphine. “Hi guys,” “’ello” “Thank goodness you are ok. I kept worrying that things had gone horribly wrong,” Hermione exclaimed as she hugged Harry. “Eet is nice to be w’ole again,” Joséphine replied returning Hermione’s hug. They were becoming good friends in the short amount of time that she had been here. But sharing a common secret sometimes helped to create a closer bond. Ginny yawned. “I am glad you are back, but now I think it is time to bed.” “Bed? More like breakfast,” Fred pointed out nodding to the grandfather clock by the entrance. They groaned collectively as none of them had really slept very well, and went to their rooms to change for class. Other Gryffindors had started to make their way to the common room, where Dobby set up their usual early morning snack breakfast before DADA. Harry and Joséphine had been excused from attending the early DADA training session, but both of them had felt good enough to go. Besides, today Professor Donovan would begin teaching them dueling, something that Harry was looking forward to do. “Today we will start our dueling training sessions by beginning to practice evasive maneuvers without the aid of any magic,” Donovan began and the students murmured. “Now, Professor De Valerio and I will demonstrate.” Professor De Valerio threw aside her cloak, and the boys were delighted to see her again wearing her signature leather outfits. In each hand she held a sai. She nodded in readiness. Donovan conjured a shield around the dueling area to absorb any stray curses, and the students sat in circular bleachers that had been conjured around the arena for them to sit and watch. Donovan and De Valerio faced each other and bowed, but they didn’t take their eyes off each other. Each turned their bodies a little and presented a slim profile to their opponent. Professor Donovan’s right foot was in front of his body about two feet; his body turned sideways presenting his right side to De Valerio, thus protecting his midsection from direct attack. His left foot was directly underneath his left shoulder, turned perpendicular to his right foot, with the line of outside his right foot aligned with the toes of his left foot. Both knees were bent, with his right knee facing upwards, while his left knee faced in front of his body and was bent low. His weight was equally balanced between each foot. His right arm was extending forward, his wand pointed at De Valerio. His head was turned so that his line of vision was aligned with his right arm. His left arm was bent, with his forearm and hand in a horizontal position, palm facing down, fingers outstretched. He was holding his left arm so that his hand aligned with his breastbone. De Valerio had also turned to show only one side of her body to Donovan, although hers was her left side. Her left foot was in front of her, her knee bent so that it was above her ankle. He right leg was back, her heel back and toes facing forward and out. Her right leg was extended, but her knee was not locked. Her left arm was extended in front of her, her hand turned so that the hilt of the handle of the sais pointed up, while the tips pointed down at a 45 degree angle from horizontal. Her right arm was pressed against her right side, the sais resting lightly on her right thigh. For a moment neither moved, each studying their opponent. Everyone knew that Donovan would be the first one to make a move, since De Valerio didn’t have a wand. Her role was to demonstrate how to evade curses. “Stupefy!” Donovan screamed sending the stunner towards De Valerio. Lilian bent her body forward, dodging the curse while at the same time she kicked with her right foot and pivoted on the left foot, and came to rest facing Donovan who had sent a redactor curse her way. The students gasped. Lilian bent backwards, the projectile missed her as she placed her hands on the ground and back flipped landing on her feet. Donovan sent curse after curse and Lilian effectively dodged each one. She surprised the students when she used her sais to intercept a freezing charm and reflected it back towards Donovan who ducked and it missed him. Both teachers stopped, perhaps after signaling each other in some way, and bowed. The students erupted in cheers amazed at the spectacle they had witnessed. “That was so cool!” Ron exclaimed clapping hard for Professor De Valerio. She had demonstrated an impressive skill in agility, flexibility and reaction response to Donovan’s attack. Donovan smirked at his partner. “Should we really demonstrate our skill?” He asked with one eyebrow arched. She smiled and nodded. The students became excited when they noted the Professors bowing to each other again, and assuming their preferred dueling positions. They were stunned when Donovan pulled out a second wand and held one in each hand. “Two wands! I can’t believe he can wield two wands!!!” Hermione exclaimed quite shocked. She’d read about this ability, but only highly trained special operations division of the Ministry ever got to train like this. She remembered then that Donovan had recently transferred from the Special Operations Team to the Department of Mysteries. The students watched as Donovan used both wands with equal power and skill, and what made it even more exciting was the fact that he was using non-verbal spells. Curses were flying faster and faster than anyone had ever witnessed before, and Professor De Valerio kept up with everyone of them. This time her sais were in more use, blocking some spells and hurling them back at Donovan until she lost one, then the other sais. The duel was over when Professor De Valerio used her whip to snatch each wand away from Professor Donovan. The student’s cheers had gone wild! Once the cheering had calm down, the students sat down excited waiting for instruction. Could they learn to do that? “The demonstration that we have given you should give you plenty of proof that it is possible to dodge a curse without the aid of a wand. In the beginning of the term I explained to you the importance of achieving high stamina, strength, and flexibility. If you apply yourselves with discipline, you too could someday achieve this level of expertise. I know some of you are in this class only because of the fact that it has been made mandatory for everyone in fifth year and higher. Those of you who would not consider a career that involved the knowledge of attack and defense techniques may be thinking that you do not need to learn this. Indeed, perhaps these skills will not be relevant to your chosen profession directly. But we are in dark times, there is a dark lord rising to power as I speak and the future may not be as bright as all wish to believe. Some of you will join forces with the dark side, other will choose to fight it.” “Regardless, my job is not to judge you by what path you may follow. My job is to prepare you for the reality of the world out there where at any moment you may be faced with a life and death situation. My hope is that each and every one of you will learn the meaning of honor, courage, and discipline. We will dedicate this next hour to learn stances, body movement, and techniques. Those of you of Muggle background may recognize some of these movements from several of what Muggles call the martial arts. We will spend our last hour this morning working on a new and improved obstacle course. This course is a lot harder than the original. From now on we will split our class time in this same manner. Part of your last exam of this term will consist of a test on the obstacle course. This time there will be no partial credit and only a Pass/Fail grade will be assigned. Let us begin.” The students again aligned themselves in their order, and Professor De Valerio instructed them through the different poses. By the end of the hour they had began to work in a synchronized matter through a routine. Then they spent the last hour trying to tackle the new obstacle course. Professor Donovan was not exaggerating when he said this course was harder. No one made it past the third obstacle. “Good work everyone. For our next class, please read pages 317 through 408. We will begin working on nonverbal spells. You can begin practicing before the next class, but only the disarming and shielding charms. Understood? I will give detention to anyone that dares use anything else for this class assignment. And do trust me, I will learn of it. You are dismissed for today.” The students returned to their common rooms exhausted, but excitedly chattering about the demonstration between the two Professors. Veronica caught up to Harry’s group. “Hey, Harry. Wait!” She called and Harry told the others to go ahead, he’d meet them later. “I missed you last night,” she said rubbing her cheek against his and sounding a kiss. “Ron and Hermione told me that you had to go with Professor Dumbledore to St. Mungos for a check up to make sure you were ok. I was worried about you.” She said as she reached for his hand. “Yeah, I got a clean bill of health. Sorry I wasn’t able to come see you at the library,” he replied feeling a bit self conscious of the fact that Veronica was holding his hand. It didn’t help that some of his friends and classmates were jeering him behind Veronica. Harry tried not to smile and focused on Veronica’s face. “I like this,” she said indicating to his long hair tied at the nape of his neck. “It isn’t permanent; Hermione fixes me just for class in the morning. I’ll be back to normal in a little while,” he said shrugging. He didn’t notice the look Veronica gave him for a few seconds. She dismissed her thoughts and smiled. “I like you that way too,” Veronica giggled. “That’s good then,” Harry smiled at her. He was really happy to have her around. He had missed her terribly since she had left, and he was looking forward to spend more time with her. Already a second trip to Hogsmeade had been announced for the weekend after Halloween. He had thought that maybe after the incident in Hogsmeade that they would be cancelled. He was glad they hadn’t. Harry was making plans. “I better go get ready for class, I have double Charms this morning. What is your schedule today? Maybe we can meet later?” Veronica asked hopeful. “I’ve got double potions after break and Charms and Care of Magical Creatures after lunch. I’m meeting with Hermione after class to work on finishing up our Charms project that is due tomorrow, and then I have Detention with Professor Donovan this evening after dinner,” Harry replied, “but I have about an hour just before dinner free.” “I have to meet with Professor Lupin after class, and then I meet with Professor Sinistra after that. I won’t be free then. How about I join you for lunch, and maybe dinner as well?” She asked as she looped her arm through his and began walking towards the staircases. “That’ll work, I’ll draw up my schedule and give it to you and you can give me yours. Maybe we ought to set up a time for each other so we can see each other,” Harry said as they stopped. “Sounds like a plan. I will see you at lunch then,” she said and gave him a peck on the lips. Harry turned to continue upstairs to the Gryffindor tower. He took a quick shower and joined the group at the table. Hermione barely paid attention to them since she had a test in Arithmancy this morning and thought she forgot something, so she was studying (for the fifteenth time in two days). Harry and Ron spent their free time doing homework. For some reason it seemed that the Professors thought that only in their class was homework assigned, so they gave lots of it since they were under the belief that the students were swimming in free time. On top of regular homework, each class seemed to have a project to be due this week. Finally, when break time came about, Harry and Ron each finished their assignments. Hermione was reading more of the scrolls that she had bought at Zibiki’s since she had finished her homework the day before. So far nothing new had surfaced on the monolith portals, but she had eliminated two more Planes of Magic from the list. “Finally!” Harry exclaimed putting down his quill. A few moments later Ron too finished. “Are you done?” Hermione looked up from her reading. “Yep.” “Ok, hand them over,” she said setting her scrolls aside. “You’re my saviour, Hermione,” Ron said standing up and flopping on a chair. She skimmed through Harry’s essay fairly quickly, scribbling a little bit here and a little bit there for minor corrections. When it came Ron’s turn it seemed to both of them that she scribbled a lot more. She handed them their homework back. “I’ve made a few suggestions, and pointed to your spelling and grammar errors, so you might want to fix those before turning them it. Otherwise they look good,” She said nodding with approval. She would never correct the work herself. She believed that if they fixed their mistakes than they were bound to learn. “Wow, that’s a first,” Ron exclaimed “Usually you seem ready to tear our essays out and have us start over.” “This time you didn’t put it off until the last minute and you are not frantic to finish it off, so you actually concentrated on doing a better job,” she replied. “Thanks Hermione. Sometimes I forget to thank you,” said Harry as he rolled his parchment. He could finish making the corrections to his DADA homework during his free period before lunch tomorrow. “You’re welcome,” Hermione beamed at him. Ron too thanked her. After break, they headed down to the Dungeon’s for their potions class. They caught up with Neville (He almost forgot that it was Potions, but Parvati reminded him.) The students quieted when Snape entered the classroom, his dark robe billowing behind him and his signature scowl on his face. He seemed to be in a really bad mood. The whole class quieted down even more, and was afraid to even breathe. “Leave it to you to completely waste my time!” He bellowed at the class as essays flew towards their owners. “Pathetic! I wonder why I deserve to waste my time with incompetents such as you!” He muttered darkly as he paced in front of his classroom. He paused and turned to look at them, “you began a potion last week! What are you waiting for? Get to work!” Snape snapped and the students jumped and quickly set to work on the potion they began last Thursday. When the bell rang signifying the end of class, the students scrambled to leave the classroom. “Potter. I must have a word with you,” Snape snarled just as Harry was about to go out the door. “We’ll see you later,” Ron and Hermione said to him and Harry nodded. He turned to face Professor Snape. “Close the door…” Harry did as told. “We will resume your Occlumency lessons next Monday at 8:00 pm. I hope you have figured out the cube by then. I do not wish to waste any more time than necessary,” Snape said with glaring eyes at Harry. “Believe me Potter, if I had any choice you would be learning from Professor Dumbledore,” Snape spat at Harry with venom. Harry snarled under his breath and cursed inwardly as Snape had read his mind. “Now go before I take more house points from you today for wasting more of my time,” Snape sneered at Harry. Harry glared at his Professor before he stormed from the dungeons. How he hated Snape! **** Wednesday night, Harry, Ron and Hermione waited in an empty classroom as the members of the DA began to arrive. It was their luck that no one else had figured out how to use the Room of Requirement so Harry had decided to keep that use as secret as possible for the time being. He knew that Malfoy knew how to get in, mainly, but Harry didn’t worry about him. The last time they had held a DA meeting, Dobby had told Harry that Draco Malfoy had tried to get in, but because Harry had devised a specific need, including to keep anyone not belonging to the DA out when he walked in front of the Room of Requirement, Draco had failed to make it appear. Harry new that Malfoy would figure out that the room was in use when he couldn’t get in, but Harry would worry about that later. Since today they would be bringing new potential members to the meeting, they decided to hold the meeting in an empty classroom. Only after people had signed up would he reveal the Room of Requirement to them. Everyone agreed it was a good plan. Soon students began to arrive and Harry began to take notice of the new possible members. They had decided to limit the students to third year and higher, and they had discussed the possibility of assigning a few of the old members who volunteered to head extra DA meetings for the newer and younger members of the group who would need help catching up. After all, those in third year never had Lupin for a teacher, and their DADA experience had been with the impostor Moody, and with Umbridge. There were twenty-four original members of the DA this year. From Hufflepuff there was Hannah Abbott, Susan Bones, Justin Finch-Fletchley, and Ernie Macmillan. From Ravenclaw the members were Terry Boot, Cho Chang, Michael Corner, Anthony Goldstein, and Luna Lovegood. The Gryffindors were everybody in Harry’s year, except for Johana Moon, it also included the Creevey brothers, and the Weasley siblings. Harry waved at Josephine who arrived with Fred. A few minutes later, George entered the room with four other seventh years. Harry knew their names, but he hadn’t really ever been around them much. They were Betrum Dunstan (who preferred to be called Berty), and Jonathan Lake from Gryffindor, Bianca Lake and William Ashford were from Hufflepuff. Derek Finnelas (the other Gryffindor fifth year prefect), Jack Slopper and Geoffrey Hooper arrived with Ginny; Colin Creevey entered the room accompanied by Jessica Marie King from fourth year and Natalie McDonald from third year, both Gryffindors. Harry saw Megan Jones, a Hufflepuff fifth year, arrive with Lee Jordan’s little brother, Simon. Harry wondered who had invited them since they arrived without the escort of a DA member. He saw Justin Finch-Fletchley call them over to sit by him. The Ravenclaws seemed to arrive in a huge large group, when in fact they had set out in separate groups and after taking different detours they happened to arrive here at about the same time. Cho Chang was accompanied by Jane Lambert, and Izabelle Slopper. They were in seventh year. Harry was glad that she hadn’t invited Veronica yet. They had discussed previously who to invite, and Veronica hadn’t been part of the school yet. It would look like an unfair thing to do to invite her just because she was Harry’s girlfriend. He would invite her next time, after sharing this with the group, of course. Terry Boot and Michael Corner had invited Su Li from fifth year and Lisa Chambers from fourth year Ravenclaw. Anthony Goldstein arrived alone, while Padma Patil arrived with third year Orla Quirke. Luna Lovegood was the last to arrive with her classmates Edith Lake and Christopher Lambert. “Is everyone here?” Harry asked trying to get the chattering group’s attention. He cleared his throat, and tried again. He felt nervous. “Are we waiting for anyone else?” This time the group noticed Harry and the noise died down and they looked around to see who was missing. Luna raised her hand. “There are two more people coming,” she said just as two Slytherin boys arrived at the door and stared wide eyed at the large group of students and all devoid of Slytherins. Miles Lambert and Vincent Lake looked ready to bolt, but Luna waved them over. Vincent was a fourth year Slytherin and he was brother to Edith, Bianca and Jonathan Lake. Miles was Christopher’s twin and they were Jane’s younger brothers. It had been quite a riot trying to agree to let two Slytherin boys be members of the DA the last time they had met. But Luna Lovegood had insisted Miles and Vincent were good choices. Cho Chang had said that she knew Miles because he was Christopher’s twin and Jane, their older sister, had good things to say about them. The Weasley twins, surprisingly, said that the little Lake bloke was alright. Both Mr. and Mrs. Lake were part of the Auror division. They knew his older brother and sister who where in seventh year. “Well, don’t just stand there! Find a seat,” Ron said to the two boys who jumped, startled. Vincent and Miles nervously moved over to sit with Luna, Edith Lake and Chris Lambert. “Alright, is that everyone then?” Harry asked again and there were nods of agreement. “Let’s get started.” Hermione closed the door. She cast a silencing charm on the walls, the windows, and the door to keep any outside snoopers from hearing any of the conversation. The younger students looked at her with mixed expressions of awe, fear, and jealousy. Hermione was without a doubt the smartest witch in school. “Before we get started,” began Hermione, “I will like everybody new to sign up on this register.” Hermione passed a parchment and a quill. The original members of the order looked over the shoulders of the new members to make sure everybody signed their names. It was a precaution they had all agreed to take. Hermione counted the names of the new members and nodded to Harry. “All right; most of you were not told what this is all about. You were simply invited to a secret meeting to a secret club. Now, before I proceed I want everyone new to know that the parchment you have just signed is charmed. Our club is to remain a secret, and you are not allowed to speak of it to anyone outside this group. If you do, you will suffer a worse fate than the just the word SNEAK written upon your entire body.” Harry began with a serious tone, “Just make sure you don’t let it slip to anyone. Does everyone understand what I am saying?” The new members nodded, everyone could see Marieta’s pimples under the heavy coat of make-up and none wished the same fate. “Ok. First order of business is to explain to you what we do in this club. We are a club dedicated to learning and practicing Defense Against the Dark Arts beyond the scope of what the school teaches us. We learn more about dark magic and how to best be prepared against it.” “So you are a Defense Against Dark Arts club?” Jonathan Lake asked incredulous. “That’s it? A frigging Defense Against Dark Arts club?” “Yes, we are a Defense Against Dark Arts club,” Hermione replied hotly. “We are preparing ourselves for the war. Voldemort…” a shudder passed through the crowd, while some of them gasped in horror, “is rising in power and it is only a matter of time before he rises to full power again.” A few of the original members also flinched a bit. “So a requirement to be a member of this society is to reject Voldemort and the Dark Forces he commands, which brings us to our second order of business. As part of our group you will be required to swear an oath to defend that which is right, and to take allegiance against Voldemort,” Harry stepped in to try and control Hermione. “WHAT? This is madness?” Isabelle Slopper shouted as she stood up alarmed. “I might as well put a sign on my back that says ‘kill me, I want to die’!” she said in a panic. “I will not take sides, I won’t get involved.” “Like it or not there are only two sides to this!” Ron answered her with a serious tone. “To V... Vol… Voldemort you are with him or against him.” “We will not force anyone into this, so you each have a choice. You can stay and pledge your oath, or you can go. You will still not be able to speak with anyone about us, you signed the parchment. So it is your choice Isabelle.” There were many of the new students that were reconsidering staying. Their curiosity had been piqued, but they also feared He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named because their parents feared him. Yet, there were some who wanted to stay, even if only to satisfy their curiosity. Not to mention that Harry Potter, The-Boy-Who-Lived, was the leader. Isabelle stood up and grabbed her brother Jack. “Come, we’re going. This is non-sense!” “What? No!” Jack said pulling his hand away. “I am staying!” “Don’t be ridiculous!” She screamed at him. “I said I want to stay!” “I’ll tell mother…” Jack paled for a moment. “You can’t! You signed the parchment!” he said hoping that was enough to convince her to keep her mouth shut. “You are a fool! All of you are a bunch of idiots! You will all end up killed if you run around with him. That’s all you will get, just like Cedric…” she said pointing at Harry. There was a sharp intake of breath, Harry noticed Cho looking appalled. Stunned silence followed for a moment. Harry paled as Isabelle pointed her finger at him. Then Fred, George, Ron, Hermione, and several of the original members of the DA jumped to Harry’s defense. Jane Lambert joined Isabelle, she was one who wanted to stay, but she couldn’t let them gang up against her friend. Cho looked undecidedly between the two groups. Chaos erupted in the group. Harry tried to calm them down. “SILENCIO,” Harry screamed above the commotion. The whole room suddenly became quiet, yet the people were still screaming at each other without a voice. Finally they realized what happened and they all turned to look at Harry. The older students were stunned that Harry could perform a Silencing Charm so powerful that worked on more than one person. This helped convince some of those who were wondering. They would stay. “Please, calm down,” Harry called to the group. “If I lift the spell, will you all just shut up? There’s no need to be shouting,” Harry said and finally the students agreed. “Finite” Harry said and people began to talk, just to test their voices again. “Look Isabelle, you are more than welcome to leave. I don’t care what your reasons are; if you won’t do the pledge, then you don’t belong with us,” Harry said sternly. He was not playing games; he had decided the moment he agreed to continue the DA that this was not a social club, so he wouldn’t treat them like little kids playing games. Several select few thought like him, especially those who had gone to the Ministry with him last year. “Everyone here is old enough to make their own choices, and, like I said, nobody will force anyone to leave or to stay. So who else is going with Isabelle?” Nobody volunteered. Isabelle glared at Harry, and then turned to her brother Jack. “Fine!” she spat at Jack as he stood firm and shook his head no. Isabelle stormed towards the door. She opened the door and walked out. Hermione followed after her. She pulled out her wand, and walked towards the retreating girl. “Isabelle?” she called just as Isabelle passed the threshold. Hermione stepped outside and pulled the door closed behind her. “WHAT?” Isabelle said as she spun around. “Obliviate” Hermione said pointing her wand at Isabelle, then hid her wand behind her quickly. “Thank you Isabelle for your help with that Freezing charm,” Hermione said as she turned Isabelle around and helped her to walk down the hallway. “Now you can go back to your common room.” Isabelle blinked and focused on Hermione. She smiled at the bushy haired girl. “You’re welcome Hermione. I can help anytime. I guess I better get back to my room. I have to study.” “Goodnight,” Hermione waved at her and smiled. Once Isabelle had turned around the corner, Hermione re-entered the room. Hermione whispered something to Harry. Harry looked at her, blinked a few times. He couldn’t believe that she had done that. “It’s for her own good; the charms I used this time are pretty nasty.” He nodded. Harry turned back to the group. “Isabelle is right on something. If Voldemort finds out that you are ‘running around’, as she puts it, with me, then you will move up his target list. This is why it is very important that none of you let it slip who we are. We call ourselves Dumbledore’s Army, or the DA for short.” Vincent and Miles, the two Slytherin boys, began to laugh. Soon other new members laughed as well. “So you think this is funny?” Ron bellowed at the students silencing them immediately. “This is no joke. People have died at the hands of V…Voldemort and his Death Eaters. You all remember Cedric? And many of you have heard the stories of before, when he was in power?” he said causing the students to pale and become serious. “Many of you know that he has been after Harry since he was a baby. So this is your last chance. If you want to leave, say so now,” said Ron and leveled a hard gaze at everyone. He saw the determined faces of the DA members. The new members looked more scared, and they looked at each other and the older members. Nobody moved to leave. “Good,” Ron nodded and turned it to Hermione. “By your choice to remain with us you are saying that you will not join forces with V… Voldemort,” Hermione began. She still stuttered saying the name sometimes, even after Harry had made it clear to the DA members that he wanted them to stop fearing the name. The DA members had been making an effort to say his name outright, at least among each other. Ron and Hermione where the only ones so far who constantly used his name, although Ron stuttered most of the time. Hermione made every new member say an oath to prove they were not Voldemort’s supporters. Many DA original members managed to choke out Voldemort’s name by now, but the new members couldn’t do it. He was still You-Know-Who to them. Hermione reminded them that a magical oath carried an obligation with it, and a curse if it was broken. Hermione pulled out a sack full of galleons. “These are DA galleons… and they are fake, so don’t use them to buy anything,” she began and proceeded to explain their use. “As a new member, you each receive one of these. When Harry chooses the date and time of our next meeting, your galleon will grow warm, and they will change to notify you of this information. So, next time you feel your galleon get warm, please contact an older member to arrange a guide to our meeting room. Like our group, the way to get into this room is a secret while we are inside,” said Hermione as handed the purse full of galleons to the students and they passed it around. The new members chatted excitedly about the charmed fake galleons, and the news of a secret room in Hogwarts. “That’s it for tonight. Next time we meet, we will see what the new members are capable of. We have discussed the possibility of holding extra meetings for the new members to bring them up to speed with the rest of us. We’ll decide that next time. Remember, take separate routes to your common rooms and always go in smaller groups. We don’t want other students to question what we’re up to,” said Harry and dismissed the group.
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