“Skiving Snackbox.” Remus said as he walked into Dumbledore’s office to see a large table set out in the enlarged room. Dumbledore was sat at the far end of it with Minerva, Filius and Severus already in their seats.
“I see you didn’t forget then…” Minerva said coolly and as Remus met Filius’ eyes he bit back laughter; Minerva had been constantly reminding all members of the Order that she could find not to forget the meeting throughout the day. At one point Remus had considered not turning up to see what she said but considering the number of nasty things that she could turn him into he decided against it and took a seat at the head of the table next to Minerva and opposite Severus.
Soon more people began to file into the room through the fireplace and Remus suddenly wondered why he hadn’t just taken the fire to Dumbledore’s office – it would have been much faster and he would only have had to throw the floo into the fire, say ‘Dumbledore’s Office’ and step through the flames, no spinning, no nausea just step through. That was the benefit of an internal floo system in a building, it was quick and efficient but most people forgot to use it and walked instead.
“Hello Arthur, Molly.” Albus smiled as the two eldest Weasleys sat down at the table. Next through the fireplace came Bill and Charlie who staggered through it together and had evidently tried to floo at the same time. The result was that the fireplace was too small and Charlie had cut his arm, whilst Bill fell over his own feet and landed on the floor with all the grace of Neville Longbottom blindfolded and told he was running from a Hungarian Horntail.
After Bill and Charlie, Fred and George pulled the same stunt and tried to floo together. They had even less luck and appeared with slightly torn robes, covered in soot and blood but grinning inanely nonetheless as they offered Snape a Ton-Tongue Toffee, which he politely (and wisely) declined. Then came Mad Eye, who after entering the room by floo proceeded to check the rest of the room for intruders and began asking the occupants of the room searching questions which ranged from ‘name?’ to ‘ever considering becoming a Death Eater?’.
Tonks staggered out of the fireplace and landed on her face before dragging herself to her feet and attempting to sit Mad Eye down before he hexed Minerva who didn’t appear to be answering his questions to his satisfaction; her claim that she was Merlin had not gone down well, nor had her accusation that he was really a Death Eater in disguise. Kingsley walked calmly through the fireplace and sat down at the end of the table and looked around him at the people idly chatting to one another and waiting for the meeting to begin.
“I believe that is everyone…” Dumbledore said at the end of the table and all became quiet. “Let the meeting begin…
“The first reason why I have called you here today is to discuss Voldemort and his discovery of Severus’ previous duplicitous role in his Death Eaters.”
“I think he wants to know how You Know Who knows Snape’s a spy for the Order.” Fred whispered loudly to George.
“Very well translated, Mr Weasley.” Dumbledore smiled. “Any suggestions?”
“Maybe he read his mind…” Tonks suggested.
“Miss Tonks, do you really suggest that my skills in Occlumency are poor enough to give myself away that easily?!” Severus barked at her and she was instantly silent.
“Well Harry hasn’t been having much success with it so you say,” Remus said delicately, “Perhaps it’s down to your not having enough skill in the subject.”
“How dare you insinuate that Potter’s failure is down to my own poor skill in Occlumency!” Severus shouted at him and Remus smiled slightly.
“Well if you are good at Occlumency then it must be your teaching at fault then…” Remus said and Snape’s expression darkened.
“DON’T YOU BLAME YOUR MORONIC GODSON’S FAILURE ON ME! MY TEACHING IS BETTER THAN YOURS WILL EVER BE!” Severus was shouting at the top of his voice now.
“Your teaching seems to involve incessant bullying of the students entrusted to you.” Remus noted as he twirled his wand between his fingers. The gesture was not unnoticed by Severus.
“I do not bully –”
“You terrorise then…” George said quietly and Snape shot him a dirty look.
“Just because you’re a fully-fledged member of the Harry Potter fan club and are now mimicking his every move as well as giving him ridiculously high marks in every test, Lupin. I do not know the meaning of the word ‘favouritism’ where as you seem to live by it.” Severus snapped. Minerva tutted and rolled her eyes at his last sentence.
“No, you’re not biased for your own house at all, Severus.” Minerva said coldly.
“Harry deserves high marks; he’s excellent at Defence Against the Dark Arts.” Remus scowled.
“Well if the only subject he can do well in Defence Against the Dark Arts which is taught by his second godfather and bearing in mind that he’s been taught duelling all summer I find it highly pathetic that’s the only thing he ‘excels’ in.” Severus said.
“I seem to recall that he got an Outstanding potions mark in his OWLs…” Minerva said.
“And an O in charms as well.” Filius piped up.
“So it would appear that he is not such a failure as you’re so desperate to make out Severus.” Remus said.
“Tell me, Lupin, are you worried for your safety?” Severus asked with a malicious glint in his eye, “I would be if I were you… considering that Potter only had parents for a year before they died, the muggles hated him and his last godfather died after only two years of knowing him… seems like an unfortunate pattern to me. Perhaps the deaths of the Potters and Black were connected to the fact that Potter is such an insufferable brat and they had to end their own lives rather than live another moment in his god-awful company…” Severus said lightly.
“HOW DARE YOU!” The yell came not only from Remus but from Molly, Tonks, Fred, George and Minerva all at once. Everyone was outraged by the fact that Severus dared to suggest that Harry caused his parents and godfather to commit suicide and they were not about to let him get away with it. Even those who did not shout out were enraged with him but didn’t feel the need to show it since everyone else would do it for them.
“THAT IS ENOUGH!” Dumbledore’s voice rose over the top of them all and they were silent in a moment. No one dared to disobey him when he raised his voice to that extent and few could blame them. “This is a meeting of the Order of the Phoenix and we are here to discuss two very important topics this evening. We must discover just how Voldemort found out that Severus was a spy.”
“Who cares?” Remus muttered under his breath and Albus turned to him as if to reprimand him but he didn’t speak to him and their discussion began again, as if nothing had ever happened between them.
“Well if Severus didn’t let Voldemort into his mind then I suppose he could have got the information from somewhere else…” Minerva said.
“What about Harry’s mind?’ Severus suggested quite meekly, afraid that everyone was going to see this as another assault on the boy and begin to attack him again.
“Couldn’t have been, he would have known if Voldemort had gained that kind of information from him.” Kingsley said quietly.
“He would have said something to someone.” Charlie agreed.
“But what if Voldemort got the information and Harry knew that he had failed in his Occlumency and didn’t want to say anything…?” Tonks asked.
“He would have said something to Remus at the very least.” Filius said and there was a slight murmur of consent around them. “And he can’t break into anyone else’s mind from such a distance away as Azkaban.”
“Then that leaves only one solution…” Remus said quietly and everyone turned to him, “There’s a spy in the Order.”
“Lies! All Lies!”
“I bet it’s Dumbledore, he’s got that suspicious beard…”
“Or what about Harry, he’s got a shifty look about him.”
“Yes, definitely Harry… He’s a Death Eater if ever I saw one.”
“YOU TWO SHUT UP RIGHT NOW!” Molly barked at Fred and George who had spent the last twenty seconds crying out in protest in various voices and accents. No one else had said a word but only looked around at those with them in disbelief – it couldn’t be any of them, right?
There was Dumbledore and Harry who could never be Death Eaters. After all, if either of them were working for Voldemort then they may as well throw themselves of the Astronomy tower for all the chance they had of winning the war. Then there was Minerva who would stand by Dumbledore and Hogwarts until the last breath was hexed from her body – a true Gryffindor if ever there was one and the mere idea of her being a Death Eater was enough to bring about laugher. Then there was Remus who was a parent to Harry, he loved him as a son and the feeling was not unrequited. Remus Lupin betray Harry and the Order to Voldemort? Never! The suggestion of which would probably cause the suggester to find himself with a face full of fist in a moment.
Remus sighed inwardly as he looked around the room and saw misery and suspicion on everyone’s face. An idea had been planted into the group and ideas could be dangerous things, especially when they promoted distrust and discord in the group as this had already done. At times like this they needed to stand together as the united group against Voldemort, not spend their time suspecting each other of feeding information to the enemy. At the same time if they didn’t suspect one another and find the culprit soon then they may as well owl their plans to Voldemort for all the good it would do.
“Now that unpleasant topic has been raised I feel it is time to move on.” Dumbledore said, cutting through the tension and the silence between them. “There is a mission to be completed by three people in this room. I have selected the three I would prefer to undertake it after a lot of thought and consideration.
“We must infiltrate Malfoy Manor as I have good reason to believe that there is hidden information in Lucius’ study which would be extremely useful to us.” Dumbledore said, “Arthur, Filius, Alastor… would you be willing to go?”
“Yes.” The three men said as one. There was no hesitation between them; they would do what they had to. Remus felt a strange sense of relief inside him. He had been worried for a moment that it would be he who had to go on a mission for the Order and he would be forced to leave Harry and leave the school even just for a night to endanger himself by walking into Death Eater territory. There was always a chance that the people sent would never come back, despite the precautions that were taken, the means of communication that were used constantly between those back at Head Quarters and those in peril not to mention the extensive planning which had taken place beforehand. Something was always in danger of going wrong and Remus didn’t want to go on a mission where something went wrong and he would never see Harry again.
“Excellent.” Albus responded and glanced around the room at them all, “The rest of this meeting will be taken up with planning for the mission ahead. Is there anyone here who would rather leave now?”
“I would, Headmaster.” Severus said, “I am of no use here and I have extensive homework to mark.”
“Very well, Severus, anyone else?” Albus asked, “Remus, you look exhausted.”
“Two hours of wandless magic with Harry can do that to a person.” Remus replied with a slight smile and Albus smiled.
“I trust all went well?”
“Of course, he is an attentive pupil as always and is picking it up quickly.” Remus replied, “But as I said, it is rather draining on ones energy.”
“Then leave and get a good night’s rest.” Minerva advised and Albus nodded to him.
“I will, good night.” Remus said to them all and crossed the room to the fireplace. “Lupin’s office.” He said quietly and stepped through the flames into his office. His eyes slipped shut for a few moments and he felt as if he could have fallen asleep standing but he shook himself out of his stupor for long enough to get to his room and into his bed, changing into his pyjamas with a small amount of energy. His eyes closed again and he fell into a deep sleep.
“Get up now!” Remus’ small alarm clock yelled at him as it jumped up and down on his side. Remus was beginning to regret charming his clock so that it would take an active role in getting him up during the morning. “You’re going to be late!” The voice was quite squeaky and shrill enough to cut through his slumber. Remus snuggled up under his heavy duvet, enjoying the warmth and the strange state between sleep and dreams that he was currently in. He was aware that he was in his bed being woken by an irritating little clock and yet at the same time he was in Gryffindor tower talking to Harry about the best way to hurt Snape whilst in the background James was getting ready to fight Dumbledore and Lily was asleep on the sofa whilst Sirius drew red dots on her face with his wand.
“I think we should kick him in the shins with an iron boot…” Harry said to Remus.
“Get up you lazy man!”
“You’re going down Dumbledore!” James yelled at the old man as he pulled out a sword and the old man did the same.
“If you don’t get up by the time I count to ten, Remus!” The clock threatened.
“A good idea but I really think that knocking him down the stairs with a sledgehammer would work as well.” Remus said thoughtfully to his godson.
“One … Two … Three …” The clock started slowly.
“I don’t think that I am, James.” Said Dumbledore calmly, “I rather think that it is you that will be going down.”
“Four … Five … Six …” The clock continued, becoming more impatient.
“I don’t like being down here so close to their fight.” Harry said to Remus as he twirled his wand between his fingers, not really registering that he had seven fingers and no thumbs on each hand.
“Go sit on the cuckoo clock then.” Remus said to him and Harry nodded and went and sat on a large cuckoo clock on the wall, looking down at James and Dumbledore who were fighting below him with swords and Sirius who had almost done drawing red spots on Lily’s angelic complexion. Remus only stood at the side, watching to see who would win between Dumbledore and his friend.
“Seven … Eight …” The clock continued.
“Avast ye mutinous landlubber!” James shouted at Dumbledore and somewhere in Remus’ mind he questioned why James had spoken with the voice of a pirate.
“I’ve got people pox!” Lily cried as she awoke.
“Ten!” The clock yelled at him and began to make a noise like a cuckoo clock in his ear.
“Cuckoo!” The clock on the wall squawked and Harry flew forwards on the giant bird from the rather small clock.
“Aha!” James and Dumbledore said together as they struck forwards at one another as Harry flew between them on the giant cuckoo. Their swords plunged into either side of Harry who fell of the bird and landed on the floor. Blood spurted out of his body as he convulsed on the floor and splattered all over Remus.
Remus sat up sharply and his hands reached up to his face, feeling the dampness there. He pulled them back infront of him, almost convinced that they would be covered in the blood of his godson and he felt a strange sense of relief as he realised he had only been dowsed in water. He breathed deeply for a moment, trying not to think of James and Dumbledore stabbing Harry in his sides before he looked to his bedside table. The little clock was grinning sheepishly and holding an empty bucket which had been filled with water only moments before.
“I dislike you.” He said coldly to the clock as he got out of bed and walked into the shower. He relaxed as he felt the warm water rushing over him… it would be oh so easy to fall asleep again in here… “Ah, Jesus Christ! What the hell?!” He cried as the water turned icy cold and he leapt out of the shower and wrapped himself in a towel.
“Just making sure that you stay awake.” The clock grinned at him and Remus glared at it.
“Your job is to wake me and you did so!” Remus scolded as he marched back into his bedroom to find some robes.
“But you could have fallen back asleep in there.” The clock argued as it leapt back onto it’s table.
“Just shut up.” Remus ordered when he realised that he was arguing with a timepiece. He waved his wand over him and a moment later he was wearing a clean set of robes. He shot a nasty look at the clock before walking down to breakfast.
“Morning Remus.” Filius greeted him as he sat down. Minerva and Severus were already there. Severus was cautiously watching Pomona, Sabina, Poppy and Heilia at the other end of the table, an expression of dislike and fear on his face.
“They’re going to get me.” Snape muttered as he looked back to the table and took a slice of toast and quickly spread some marmalade over it.
“They will do if you keep glaring at them.” Remus told him.
“But they were glaring first.” Severus said, sounding rather childish. “Besides, I need to think of how I can best get them…”
“Well get each of them in turn.” Filius suggested, “Burn Heilia’s broom.”
“And you can put a ceiling on the Astronomy tower.” Minerva added.
“Kill all Pomona’s plants.” Remus said.
“Hold Mrs Norris hostage.” Filius said.
“And what about Sybil and Poppy?” Severus asked.
“You could always burn Poppy’s patients at the stake.” Minerva suggested.
“And make sure that Malfoy’s one of them.” Remus said.
“I don’t know why you complain about him, you don’t have to teach him anymore!” Filius said indignantly. “With Sybil you could always follow her around predicting her death.”
“And fill the school full of death omens.” Minerva added.
“Those are rather good ideas for a Thursday morning, you know.” Severus said as he finished his toast and took a sip of his coffee before spitting it out as a long plant coiled out of it and went for his neck.
!” Minerva said loudly, “Who puts Devil’s Snare in coffee?!”
“Take a good guess.” Severus scowled as he shot the now incinerated plant down the table at Pomona’s face.
“I hope they remember that they started this…” Remus said lightly as he finished his tea. “What was the first suggestion?”
“Burning Heilia’s broom.” Filius answered.
“Broom burning it is.” Minerva said. “Sadly I don’t have any free lessons today so it’s going to have to wait until dinner at least since I’ve got an Animagus lesson with Harry after tea.”
“And I’m teaching him more wandless magic after that.” Remus said.
“He really is going to take up all your time with this, you know.” Filius said to him and Remus nodded.
“He wants to learn it as fast as he can basically.” Remus said, “So I’m teaching him whenever I don’t have anything better to do and he’s not in any ‘extracurricular’ lessons.”
“Speaking of extracurricular lessons…” Minerva said with a slight smile on her face, “Have you heard what happened to the youngest Mr Weasley yesterday during his Apparation lesson?”
“I haven’t but I hope it’s something nasty…” Severus said and Filius rolled his eyes.
“It is quite.” Minerva said, “He was apparating about a mile from Grimmauld Place but he went the wrong way and ended up in a field full of sheep so he tried to apparate back to Grimmauld Place, not realising that he had splinched himself and he splinched himself again trying to get back to the house. Then once he was back the twins had gone down into the garden. The foolish boy apparated there as well, splinching himself once again before there was too little of him left to apparate any more!”
“He splinched himself three times!” Remus laughed and tried not to become hysterical at the idea.
“What did he lose?” Severus asked.
“Apart from any dignity he may once have had, you mean?” Minerva asked him with amusement, “He left an ear, a hand and his hair in the kitchen when he went to the field of sheep. Then he left an arm, four fingers, three toes and his robes in the field when he tried to get back to the house. Then when he apparated to the twins in the garden he left his other leg, part of his torso, his right eye and his trousers which he’d had on under his robes on the doorstep.” There was collective laughter from their end of the table and from the Gryffindor table Ron had a good idea as to what they were talking about.
“What’s up, Ron?” Hermione asked him and Harry hid a smile – he had heard from Fred what had happened to him and decided not to comment.
“So George was quite stunned when half his brother appeared next to him then?” Filius asked her.
“They laughed for a long time, needless to say that Ron didn’t.” Minerva said, “And then Mad Eye arrived on the scene with Kingsley and Charlie and they helped him get back together.
“He is rather lacking in hair today.” Remus commented as he looked at Ron and smiled slightly.
“Speaking of lacking in hair…” Minerva said as Sybil walked past in a muggle baseball cap. It was clear to all that she was completely bald underneath it and Severus, Minerva, Filius and Remus all succumbed to hysterical laughter as she passed them. Some of the students looked up in surprise to see four of their teachers laughing together but soon saw the reason for their mirth and many of them began to giggle as well.
“Aw Sybil, don’t worry dear.” Said Pomona Sprout as the wannabe Seer sat down with them, “We’ll get revenge.”
“Oh really, and what are you planning to do?” Sybil sniffed.
“For starters we’re going to steal all Snape’s potions supplies.” Heilia said and laughed manically. No one else laughed and sat there in stunned silence. “No?” She asked.
“Please, they couldn’t put a plan together to save their lives!” Minerva said as she looked down the table at those who opposed them.
“I’d watch out for flying crystal balls for a day or two though.” Remus said as he took a sip of his tea and wished it was hot chocolate but the house elves didn’t seem to send any to the staff table.
“You don’t have any of that potion you used on Trelawney left do you, Severus?” Minerva asked him.
“I’m afraid not.” He replied apologetically, “But I do have first years first thing. I can give them dangerous chemicals and see whether they make something lethal if you’d like.”
“Yes, alright.” Minerva said to him, “And you have the sixth years after break don’t you?” He nodded.
“I’m sure Malfoy can concoct something poisonous during that lesson.” Filius said.
“That’s the problem…” Severus said, “I think he might be improving…”
“What?!” Minerva said, “Don’t be ridiculous, Malfoy doesn’t improve
“Unfortunately he appears to be doing so.” Severus said sullenly.
“So just put blood in his cauldron when he’s not looking and see what happens.” Remus suggested.
“I suppose I could sabotage it.” Severus admitted.
“And then you can have the fun of ruining NEWT potions and hoping no one catches you in the act.” Filius informed him.
“Yes, I suppose it won’t be that bad.” Severus said, “And then there’s poisoning them to look forward to.” He looked down at Sybil, Pomona, Sabina, Heilia and Poppy who glared at him in return.
“Today might not be so bad after all.” Minerva said as she rose from the table and left the great hall, hoping that she could beat the Ravenclaws to her classroom in the hopes of making them appear late for once. Needless to say, she failed and the Ravenclaws had already arrived and were making notes when she walked briskly into the room five minutes before the lesson started. “Damned Ravenclaws.” She muttered.
“What was that Professor?” One of them asked.
“Nothing…” Minerva said as she sat down behind her desk and left them to it.
A/N: How irritating is it to write an A/N at the end of something like this and then try to add the story, only to discover that I've taken too long and need to be logged in again?! Well I was quite annoyed anyway because I took too long (as you may be able to have guessed) and then I got logged off. Anyway, random babblings aside, I apologise for the fact that this chapter was all adults and no Harry but it was necessary for the plot, although not majorly so. It's going to be one of those small things after you've read the story that you might look back on and realise that it was a tiny tiny indication of what was to happen. Basically I'm leaving miniscule clues throughout the story so you can't cruficy me at the end when the overall plot is revealed.
Well, thanks to you all for reading thirty chapters of this drivel, I'm shocked, amused and rather thankful all at once, imaginary chocolate for all! Next chapter coming on Thursday and will be entitled 'A Change Of Form'. :o)