Here is the Prologue to the final book: Sacrifice.
You need to read all books in the series first before reading this.
In order, they are: Lost, Connections, Revelation, Identity, Traitor and Sacrifice.
Thanks to my beta Arnel for all her work on all the stories.
June 23rd 1997 Alastor Moody's Residence
Arthur looked at each person who was currently sitting around the table in the dining room of Alastor Moody's house. It seemed as if none of the members of the Order of The Phoenix quite knew what to do or what to say. The room felt empty without Albus Dumbledore.
Arthur didn't know exactly what had happened the night Dumbledore had died. All he knew was that Albus had died and the boy he had come to think of as his seventh son had been accused, and seemingly already convicted, by the Ministry.
Unfortunately, as a result of the accusations made against him, Adam had run. It seemed to be an unfortunate recurring trait in the boy's life that he was accused of things he didn't do. Arthur was certain he had been abused as a child due to his magical nature. Even Molly had been guilty of accusing him over the incidents surrounding the Chamber of Secrets and Adam had been openly accused by the Ministry of calling the Dark Mark at the Quidditch World Cup.
Arthur could understand Adam's reluctance to stay around when people were accusing him of murder. Ironically, this was the one time that, if he had stayed to fight his case, he would have had people who would support him. Arthur knew that he and his wife would definitely support him. Arthur had known, even before his daughter had pleaded Adam's innocence to him, that he could not have done such a thing. Adam had had a hard life, but he wasn't a murderer.
Arthur had suspected for several years that there was more than just friendship between Adam and Ginny, but when the family had been attacked by You-Know-Who's followers last Christmas, he had known there was something much deeper between the two of them. The way they had both fought so ferociously to defend each other and the family, the way they had clung to each other after the battle, and when he had found them together on the sofa in the Gryffindor common room the next morning — that was when he had known for certain.
In the last year, Arthur had begun to realise that there was something extraordinary about Adam, something hidden just beneath the surface. Even Albus had alluded to it after the events of last Christmas. This was definitely a good thing, in Arthur's opinion, which is why it was even more inexplicable to him that these accusations had been levelled against Adam.
"Right," Moody said gruffly, disturbing Arthur from his introspection. "I think everyone knows why we are here."
"We're missing Tonks and Molly," Minerva murmured quietly.
"Yes," Alastor replied. "Tonks is currently in St Mungo's. The Healers think the baby is coming early…"
At this, Minerva gasped, "Will the baby be alright?"
"I had a letter from Tonks's mother. She said that mother and baby should be fine, but they are in St Mungo's as a precaution."
"Alastor," Arthur added, once the whispered conversations caused by Alastor's announcement had quieted down, "Molly was busy today, I am afraid, things have been somewhat hectic," he finished vaguely.
Truthfully, Molly hadn't wanted to face the people who could accuse Adam of such a crime.
Several people around the table nodded their heads.
"You-Know-Who has moved quickly and has managed to take advantage of Albus' death," Moody began, without further introduction. "And we are now in a dire situation. Times are now as dark as they were at the height of the last war. The Order of the Phoenix must respond."
"What's happened, Alastor?" Hestia Jones asked in exasperation.
"This hasn't hit the press yet, and if You-Know-Who has anything to say about it, it probably won't." Moody paused. "Fudge, Bones and Scrimgeour never returned from Albus' funeral."
Cries of outrage erupted around the table, and Arthur felt sick. Had You-Know-Who managed in one stroke to eliminate most of their senior political leadership?
"Silence!" Moody roared, as if he was speaking to a class of teenagers. "If they do not turn up soon, then the Wizengamot will be forced to vote in a new minister."
"Which could be anyone," Kingsley added dryly, "with who knows what loyalties." He thumped his fist on the table. "We knew there was someone under the Imperius Curse in the Department of Magical Transportation, but how in blazes they were able to sabotage the official Portkeys for the returning dignitaries I don't know…" he spat.
"In short," Moody surmised, "the Ministry is screwed. If You-Know-Who is able to influence the outcome of any forthcoming Ministerial elections…"
"Then he has control of the country…" Arthur murmured, "…without having to fight any battles…"
"Do we have evidence that Fudge is definitely dead, then?" Minerva asked.
"They don't need it," Arthur said thinking about the current climate at the Ministry. "With the Minister missing, and if certain figures apply enough pressure, an election will be forced. We have weeks, maybe a month."
"Then we must attempt to find them!" Minerva exclaimed.
"We will do so," Moody responded. "And that will be one of our tasks, but the Portkeys could have dropped them right into You-Know-Who's lap, or into the sea or trapped them underground…" He waved his arm. "We must look, but I don't hold out much hope for them."
The room was silent.
"Minerva, I have a question for you before we continue," Moody continued, "what do you know about Harry Potter?"
Minerva sighed. "Virtually nothing. He was Albus's secret."
Moody growled. "Dammit, Albus… Does anyone have any way to contact him? We need him on our side…"
"Alastor," Bill added, "during the rescue mission to the Graveyard, once we found him, Albus never let Harry out of his sight." He paused. "I think my younger brothers and sister have met with him on occasion. I think Albus asked them to visit him in hospital."
Moody spun to look at Arthur, fixing him with a stare. "What do you know about this?" he demanded.
"As much as you, Alastor," Arthur replied coolly. "Albus asked and we allowed Fred, George, Ron and Ginny to go with him."
"Very well…" Moody sighed. "If anyone has any contact with Harry Potter, he must be brought into the Order. He could be a valuable rallying point for us to gain support."
"Potter is not a tool, Alastor!" Minerva replied. "He is just a boy!"
"Albus was training him, Minerva!" Moody replied hotly. "We must bring him into the fold!"
The room sat in uncomfortable silence.
"Now, we come to the main matter." Moody sighed and continued in a quieter tone. "Albus's murder came as a shock to us all, and without him, I think I can speak for all of us when I say we all feel somewhat adrift," Alastor voice became suddenly stronger, "which is why we must ensure that his killer is brought to justice."
Arthur was now feeling deeply uncomfortable.
"Arthur," Alastor began, "I must ask, have you seen anything of Winters?"
"Alastor," Arthur replied, trying his best to keep his voice even, "there has not even been a trial, so how can we be sure…"
"I was there…" Severus drawled suddenly, speaking for the first time. "I saw."
"Severus…" Minerva interrupted, "would you tell us exactly what you saw? Some of us, I dare say, have not heard it first hand."
"It is simple enough," Severus replied. "I was coming up from the dungeons for a patrol of the school and I heard a disturbance near the doors of Entrance Hall. I went to investigate and arrived in time to see Winters stab Albus with a Basilisk fang."
"A Basilisk fang!" Hestia Jones exclaimed.
"Yes, Winters is the only one alive, other than the Dark Lord himself, that has access to the Chamber of Secrets. That is where the only supply of such fangs is known to be."
"That's because he killed the Basilisk to save my daughter!" Arthur exclaimed angrily.
"Arthur!" Moody reprimanded him and Arthur bit his tongue to stop a rude reply.
"What about Umbridge?" Minerva asked. "She claimed to be a witness."
Severus Snape was silent for a second before continuing. "Dolores only appeared after I had disturbed Winters. We gave chase, he Stunned Dolores and injured me, knocking me out. I was out for some time before I came around and revived Dolores. By then, Winters was gone."
"So she did not witness it?" Minerva added. "Despite her claims… you are the only witness."
"The evidence is plain," Snape replied evenly.
"I dare say Adam would dispute that," Minerva added.
"You are biased towards that boy," Snape spat in response.
"Maybe I am, Severus," Minerva replied with venom in her voice, "but I would like to see him convicted with more than just the word of one person."
Moody grunted gruffly. "The body was examined, and the cause of death was determined to be a combination of a Dark curse and Basilisk venom. We also checked the fang — in the previous twenty-four hours, it only touched Winters' and Albus's skin."
"I will not accept this!" Minerva stated blankly. "Not until he is convicted in a fair trial, by a fair court, with evidence beyond any doubt."
"We need only wait for him to be caught then," Snape said silkily.
"Oh, please," Minerva spat. "He would not get a fair trial out of this Ministry! And by the looks of it, none of you are prepared to give him a fair trial!"
"I testified under Veritaserum to the Aurors at the school," Snape snapped.
"Mind…" Arthur ventured quietly, "I doubt overcoming Veritaserum would provide much of a challenge for a skilled potions master such as yourself…"
"You would do well to watch what you accuse me of, Weasley!" Snape spat in return, causing Arthur to tense and grip his wand in his pocket.
"Enough!" Moody roared. "We must move on from this. Arthur," Moody continued, turning to him, "I need to ask you to keep an especially close eye on your children; he may attempt to contact them, your daughter especially. If you have any suspicions, you will need to bring them in for questioning."
Arthur paused, feeling his anger getting the best of him for the first time in many years. He had always prided himself on always giving a measured, considered response to problems. Here a line had been crossed.
"No," he responded flatly.
First they accused his son, in everything other than blood, of murder and now they wanted him to spy on his other children.
"What?" Moody exclaimed. "Arthur, the Order of the Phoenix has always operated on goodwill, but as the leader of the Order, I must insist…"
"Alastor," Arthur replied through gritted teeth, "for personal reasons, I feel I can no longer participate here."
Arthur quietly stood from his seat.
"Dad!" he heard Bill exclaim in a shocked tone, also jumping to his feet. "You can't!"
Arthur ignored his oldest son.
"Goodbye to you all," he said and walked towards the door.
"Arthur, wait!" Minerva's voice called from behind him, she too had got to her feet. "I think…" she hesitated, "I think I will join you. I find I no longer enjoy the company here."
Together they left Moody's house and, once outside, they both heaved a sigh of relief as they looked back at the building.
"Thank you, Minerva," Arthur began. At least there was someone else prepared to stick up for Adam.
"No," Minerva replied with a smile. "Thank you, Arthur, for making me realise what I had to do."
"He didn't do it," Arthur stated.
Minerva nodded. "Too much is off, evidence is too conveniently placed. There is too much that doesn't make sense and if I had to choose who I would trust, I would pick Adam over Severus any day."
"And Adam is clever, Arthur," Minerva continued. "He is a very clever boy, if he had really wanted to kill Albus he…" She shook her head. "It doesn't even bear thinking about."
"When the Order finally realises…" Arthur began.
"Then we will return."
"What about the school?" Arthur asked. "Now that Albus is gone?"
"The Ministry must appoint a new Headmaster; until they do, I am Headmistress, and I will continue under that assumption until I am told otherwise," Minerva answered and then chuckled. "There is one good thing with the Ministry in disarray. Dolores Umbridge has been recalled to London." She paused. "I am using my brief tenure in charge to try to undo some of the damage she did and I hope to be able to re-hire Hagrid, at least as gamekeeper."
Arthur nodded. "I just hope Adam is safe."
"Me too," Minerva responded. "Arthur… I…" She lowered her voice. "If, hypothetically speaking, your daughter was to have contact with Adam, would she, hypothetically, be able to mention that we are supporting him?"
Arthur smiled, once again feeling boosted by Minerva's support. "I think so, hypothetically speaking, of course."