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Chapter eight: “She doesn’t touch anyone any longer, I’m worried about her.” Lily said to Amelia as they sat in their room. “What are you talking about? She touches Sirius quite frequently.” Her tall friend answered. It was true, in fact, Megan seemed to be addicted to touching Sirius. Laying her hand on the back of his neck in the dining hall, leaning her cheek against his as he embraced her. It could only be guessed what they got up to when they were alone. “But she doesn’t touch anyone else, ever. Not any more.” Lily was concerned her vivid green eyes were troubled. “That’s not that odd, Lily. After all, how often do you touch people other than James?” Amelia couldn’t understand her friend’s apprehension. “No. You don’t understand, she’s afraid to touch people, or be touched. The other day Hawkins was reaching for a pot of ink at the same time Megan was and their hands brushed. She was shaking and saying ‘Don’t touch me, whatever you do, don’t touch me.’” Lily felt tears come to her eyes. She feared for her friend’s sanity. Amelia considered this for a moment, “Well, that is odd.” “Remember how she used to do our hair for us? Help us with our clothes? Hug people just because she was affectionate? She hasn’t done any of that in months now and I’m getting worried. I think we need to talk to McGonagall about her.” Lily was obviously frightened. “Or, you could just trying asking me, I suppose that’s one approach.” Megan Hogan stood quietly at the door, her hands shoved into the pockets of her jeans. Lily and Amelia both flushed with guilt. They had been caught out, talking about their friend. But Megan did not seem angry, or upset, instead she just looked weary. “I was wondering how long it would take you to notice. You’re too damned bright for your own good, Lily.” Megan said with a sigh. “What?” Lily was completely astonished. Megan walked into the room and sat down at Lily’s desk. “Well, there’s nothing for it but to confess I suppose. But I can’t, see, there’s the problem. I haven’t been able to touch anyone since the term break and it’s been two months and I knew sooner or later you’d all catch on.” “What is it Meg, you can tell us, are you in trouble?” Lily Evans was one of the kindest souls on earth. “No. I’m not in any trouble. I swear to you.” Megan looked about the room desperately, “Very soon it will all be explained but you’ve got to promise me…you can’t tell another living soul about this, I’ll go now and talk to someone, someone who can explain to you.” Lily’s confusion was deepening, Megan sounded a bit as if she had lost her mind. “I’m perfectly sane Lily.” Megan said, it was one of those odd moments when she caught a thought. “You’re going to have to trust me.” :::::::: Every now and then something happens in life. Circumstances align, fates converge and perhaps it is destiny that is fulfilled. If only she hadn’t tripped. As she had been doing for months Megan Hogan walked down the deserted hallway to the secret room, her wand out ready to hex anyone who crossed her path. She stopped in front of the statue of the Phoenix, whispered the password and waited until the staircase was revealed. She stepped into the secret room and called for Dumbledore softly, although she knew no one but he could hear her when she spoke here. Then she settled down to wait. Within minutes he joined her. “What is it Megan?” He asked promptly, conjuring a pot of tea for the young woman, she looked a bit pale. “Sir, listen, we’ve got to tell them.” Megan was desperate. “I can’t keep this up much longer. My friends know there is something wrong with me and I’m not any good at lying to them.” Dumbledore regarded her. She had done so well developing her powers. Now with the slightest brush of her hand she could tell if a person was trustworthy if they had true hatred within their heart. It was seeing their fate that stung her and Dumbledore desperately wanted to tone down this side effect of her abilities before he gathered together the Order of the Phoenix. “I know you need me, and you know I want to help.” Megan was crying now. “But they could help me. They could make sure that no one got too close, hell I’ve touched nearly all of them at one time or another, I know their fate…even if I don’t truly understand what it means. It used to be hands. But now it’s any exposed skin. I brushed against Fielding in the hall the other day and his hand touched my arm…do you know what’s going to happen to the poor little mite?” “I confess, I do not.” Dumbledore watched the young girl carefully she was near the end of her tether. “He’s going to die in agony. Sheer, utter, complete agony but that isn’t all, first he’ll get to watch his parents die in front of his eyes.” She was sobbing. “And I felt it! I felt the pain of his death in that split second he brushed against me. The only person I can stand to touch is Sirius because he feels so cool and lovely.” It would have taken a stone not to be moved by Megan. Dumbledore was not a stone. He had let her pain go on too long hoping that he could help her refine what was in her. She was very strong and he had recruited her for this but he had let this continue too long. In more than four centuries there had not been a seer with Meg Hogan’s particular gift. There were seers who made prophecies but Meg was a tactile seer, if she touched someone she knew both their fate and the quality of their soul. Megan collapsed on the floor sobbing, “Please, tell them. I need their help, just as you told me you needed mine.” Dumbledore stood and walked to the girl. He offered her a handkerchief after gasping for a moment she took it and wiped her eyes and nose. “I can get Madam Pompfrey to give you a potion to soothe you.” He said kindly. “No. I don’t need it. I’ll be all right.” He had been right to choose her, she had the heart of a lion. “Will you tell them? Not everyone you need yet, but at least tell my friends?” “Yes, it is the very least I can do for you.” Dumbledore decided. “I will go now and gather them in my office, but Megan you need to understand something…” She looked up at him and waited. “I will need you to shake their hands before I tell any of them anything.” Dumbledore hated to ask this of her. “Then, when we know it is safe, we can bring them here and explain the rest.” “I can do it.” Megan said and Dumbledore knew she was telling the truth. “Take a few moments to compose yourself and then go to my office, they will be waiting there for you.” In the years that were to follow, Albus Dumbledore knew it was one of the few times that he let his emotions overwhelm everything. It was a mistake he vowed ever afterwards not to make again. But on that night, with the nearly broken, sixteen year old girl in front of him, he acted with his heart, and not his mind. It was the reason he forgot that Severus Snape was due in the room at any moment. It was the moment that forever sealed Megan Hogan’s fate. :::::::: Megan drew a deep breath, it was going to be all right. She sat for a moment and felt truly happy for the first time in months. They could help her they could make sure that she remained isolated until she got this under control. She stepped from the room and onto the staircase, just as it began to rotate. The sudden motion caused her to stumble and it was thus that Megan Hogan tumbled down the stairs and right into Severus Snape’s arms. It had been a reflex to catch her, Snape cursed himself. He saw her eyes fly open wide and her mouth gape momentarily and then he was dragging her up the stairs and flinging her into the room. “You!” Megan gasped. “How can it possibly be you?” But she had seen his soul in that moment. Yes, there was hatred there but there was honor. He would die rather than betray Dumbledore or the Order and what he was doing was the most dangerous thing she could imagine. She had seen him, Voldemort, talking to the young man she had felt Snape’s deeply buried pain, his revulsion. “Shut up! I need to think.” Snape paced the carpet his wand out all the time. Finally he decided. “Stand still, I’ll obliviate your memory of this, it won’t effect your abilities.” He said with a strong voice. “It won’t work, I’m protected by every known anti-hex, anti-curse spell on the planet.” Megan was now watching him with interest. “Damn.” “I could obliviate you, I’m quite good at it. Then you would have no memory of meeting me here.” She said hopefully. “No, I’m equally protected. Probably more than you.” Snape sank to the floor and stared at the girl in front of him. “What do we do now?” Megan had an appointment to keep. “I have no idea whatsoever.” And for the first time ever, Megan Hogan realized that Snape was as human as the rest of them. “You’re doing something very brave.” She said. “So are you.” Snape said grudgingly. Megan decided what was to be done. She stood, and so did Snape. “Listen, we’ll have to tell Dumbledore about this, he’ll have to decide if there’s anything to be done.” “Agreed.” Snape said with a sniff. “Fine then.” Hogan made towards the door and then paused. “Snape?” She called to him. “What is it?” “I don’t see everything, just little bits here and there. I know when someone can be trusted, and you can be.” The tall boy with the sallow skin and hooked nose just glared at her. These were things he already knew. “You can’t ever, ever speak to me again Hogan. No matter what.” Severus was trying to protect both their lives. “I know, but there’s something you need to know.” Hogan hesitated. “You’re going to live through this battle.” He digested this in silence. He knew he would not, particularly if he became too cocky and believed it to be so. “What about you?” “I haven’t the first, foggiest notion.” She said with a smile, and left. Severus Snape had to sit down again for a moment before leaving. He had never understood until then how brave these strange, half-Muggles could be. She was trying to do something just as dangerous as he was. It stood to reason that because of what she had to do, she would know the most about the Order and the people in it. The Dark Lord would kill to get his hands upon her, quite literally. ::::::::::: Fate could be changed, Megan told herself firmly as she walked to Dumbledore’s office. At least she thought it could. If they all fought hard enough, if they sacrificed enough, if they were very, very careful then things could be all right. She told herself this because she would be shaking her friend’s hands soon, seeing whether they were to live or die. She wasn’t sure that anything could be changed, but she had to bolster herself up somehow. They were all standing at the base of the other Phoenix statue, the one that led to Dumbledore’s office. Professor McGonagall was with them. James, Lily, Sirius, Amelia, Remus and Peter all looked towards her. “Hello.” She said cheerfully. McGonagall said the password and another staircase rolled into view. They trooped up together, completely silent. Dumbledore sat behind his desk, his long thin fingers pressed together beneath his nose. As they entered, they were instructed to remain standing by Professor McGonagall. “Good evening.” The headmaster began. “This, I promise you, will not take up much of your time.” Lily looked to James who nodded his encouragement, but he looked equally baffled. “As you all know, there is a dark force at work in the wizarding world. It threatens our very existence and the lives of many.” Everyone was nodding and as Dumbledore spoke, Sirius hedged over to Megan and placed his hand in hers. “All means necessary must be utilized to try and stop this force. Already there is an organization that fights against this tyranny and I would like you all to join us.” More hesitant glances were exchanged between the students. “However, I cannot lie to you, this is an extremely dangerous undertaking and your lives may well be at risk. I will give you a few minutes to decide whether or not you are willing to make such sacrifices. If you are not, you may leave and I assure you no one will think the less of you.” “You’re forming a society to fight Voldemort?” Sirius asked. “Sign me up.” “And me.” Said Remus without hesitation. Lily was torn for just a moment but then she thought of the increasing death toll. The terror in which the wizarding world was living and the answer was clear to her: “And me, of course.” She said, her eyes blazing. “I’m in.” James said, all he had needed to hear was that Lily was on board and then he felt free to act upon his first inclination. All eyes turned towards Amelia, Peter and Megan. “Well, I’m in, but I expect at least some of you already knew that.” Megan said and Lily’s head turned towards her, sudden realization dawning on her face. “I’m not sure what good I will be, but I want to help.” Amelia said. “Count me in too.” Peter Pettigrew wasn’t sure what to do. He half wanted to leave right then and there. The other half of him was curious, he had yet to act on anything in any other camp. “Yes. Yes it needs to be done. Me too.” He finally said. “That is precisely what I had hoped would be your reactions. Now, I suggest we all shake hands with one another to guarantee our secrecy that we may not break faith with one another.” Dumbledore’s voice was casual but Lily’s clever gaze was upon him. She understood what Megan had been trained for now. The handshakes took a fairly long time but Megan knew her mission, she had to make sure she shook the hand of every student in that room. She turned first to Amelia, just as she broke off her handclasp with Remus. Amelia readily put her hand in Meg’s. It was like being punched in the stomach now, but Megan smiled through it all. She saw Amelia’s trustworthy soul and once again felt the terror, only more deeply this time. She wanted to blurt out once more, ‘Don’t stray too far from Remus Amelia, there will be a night when you think it’s safe, but it won’t be’. She kept her mouth closed and simply smiled. Lily put forth her hand next and Megan steeled herself. The feeling of her utter goodness washed over her and then she heard a scream and saw a blinding flash of green light. She knew in her heart that it was Lily screaming. Fighting tears like mad, she smiled happily into her friend’s questioning gaze. James was almost too much for her, his handshake was almost exactly like Lily’s. So full of love, trust and bravery and then the acid green flash of light. He had screamed something, but she couldn’t make out what it was. She grinned at Remus as he put his hand into hers. Steadfast, kind, brave of heart and just that touch of loneliness. Sirius’s hand was in hers now and she felt his goodness, his loyalty and then the hysterical laughter and the deadening cold but this time she heard him shriek “I am innocent.” She shivered slightly. She began to cross the room to shake Peter’s hand. Their fingertips were within inches of each other when it happened, a huge wave of nausea swept over her and she became lightheaded. She stumbled and started to fall but Sirius was there as quick as a flash, catching her before she ever hit the carpet. In the turmoil that followed, Megan completely forgot to mention that she hadn’t shaken Peter’s hand. She must have touched him at some point, she was sure of it. Only of course, she had not. She had however touched Sirius Black on more than one occasion. Poor, affectionate Megan, cut off from the world had taken him back to the necessary room again and again. They did love each other after all, there was nothing wrong with it. But it was still an inopportune time to discover that she was pregnant. :::::::::

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