Standard disclaimer: the author is not parasitically nourishing himself on the corupus of J.K. Rowling's creation.
praises: Yolanda my beta, who tells me what's right with the story as
well as what's wrong. And to ex post facto beta reader SpellChecker,
whose penchant for catching errors in posted stories is often not
appreciated by other writers.
The group of six
slammed to their feet in an ordinary garden shed containing an
assortment of shovels, hedge shears, branch clippers, and empty clay
flower pots. Curiously, Harry saw there was also a bare wooden bench
piled up with a good bit of musical staff paper, some covered with
notes from a half-finish symphony.
Fred noticed where Harry's gaze was directed.
daft old Muggle likes to write music in here. Don't know why. He
doesn't seem to mind when wizards appear and disappear out of thin air
though, so we've been using this as a second apparition point."
What do they mean 'We', thought Harry. "Have you joined The Order then?" he asked the twins aloud.
that they have son," butted in Moody, "they think they're going to turn
all the dark wizards into canaries and put an end to the war early."
"Only the ones who don't practice Constant Vigilance" replied George.
meanwhile had her head out the door looking to see if anyone was about.
"I think the coast is clear," she assured them, and promptly banged
into the doorjamb pulling back inside.
When the ringing in her
left ear had died down (Remus in particular showed a level of concern
for her a step beyond the usual) they exited the shed into a garden
that bore signs of having been thoroughly overgrown recently, but was
slowly being brought to heel. It was the only thing in the vicinity
that showed promise of recovery. The surrounding buildings had a dowdy
and sinister look about them that seemed familiar to Harry, like those
in the courtyard outside 12 Grimmauld Place. This clearly wasn't the
"Molly found the back entrance a couple months
ago," said Remus by way of explanation. Then he pointed his wand at a
grotesquely gnarled little tree and muttered a complex incantation
which caused its knobs and twists to begin straightening out. There
were quite a lot of them, and each one seemed to conceal a tenth of the
tree's total mass. By now Harry wasn't awestruck by brick walls that
turned into portals or invisible buildings appearing out of nowhere,
but he could scarcely believe how immense the trunk was. A significant
assortment of weeds and grass had been obligated to scurry out of the
way as the base pushed outward, and by the time it finished unfolding
to its full size three fully grown wizards couldn't have put their arms
all the way around it.
"Arbus Apire" was Remus' next command, and a great crevice about three feet wide opened in what had been its solid surface.
too exposed back here waiting for that thing to turn into a door,"
groused Moody. "Death Eaters could have done us in by now."
"After you then," was all Remus said about that.
stepped in and found himself standing at the top of what he guessed was
a spiral staircase made of wildly contorted tree roots. At the bottom
was an unlit passage.
"Lumos" he told his wand and took
the opportunity to fold up his jeans while he waited for the others,
wondering how Moody was going to manage this route with a wooden leg.
Without too much trouble apparently, for they were soon walking along a
dirt tunnel that took a sharp bend to the right and came to an ordinary
wooden door. On the other side was a gloomy circular room hewn out of
"Rotatus" called out Lupin, and the room,
evidently a free-floating cylinder, began turning. The passage they'd
just come through slid out of view as the doorway lined up with a
staircase, and up at the top was a hallway in what Harry knew in spite
of extensive changes had to be 12 Grimmauld Place.
It was barely
recognizable from what it had been twelve months earlier. The carpets,
though still threadbare and faded, had been cleaned up. Conventional
brass knobs had been put in place of the serpent door handles on the
more frequently used rooms. The gas jets no longer flickered. Even the
grime on most of the windows had been scoured away. Against everything
the Black family would have wanted their house was almost cheerful.
Almost. A more accurate description to say it wasn't quite as grim.
Harry was palpably aware of Sirius' absence, which dampened the
ebullience he'd felt at being rescued.
"Is your family still staying here?" he asked Fred and George to take his mind off the subject.
"For now," said Fred.
"There's been talk of Mum, Dad, Ron, and Ginny moving back to The Burrow," finished George.
Remus' face clouded over a little at that.
Before they could discuss the matter further they were met at the end of the hall by none other than Albus Dumbledore.
you've brought Harry back to us, and none the worse for wear I see. Did
any complications arise on the way?" he inquired with his
"Couldn't have gone better Albus," responded Moody. "The great oaf and his family were hiding when we showed up."
"Harry tells us they had a little encounter with a new Weasley Wizard Wheeze," supplied Tonks.
The twins were glowing with the sort of pride usually reserved for a new baby.
the whole house did from the look of it. You boys keep working on that
and maybe we'll have an extra weapon for the war," finished Moody.
Remus, who'd been quiet up to this point, changed the subject. "Is this morning's meeting of The Order ready, Professor?"
able to attend are making their way here and assembling in the kitchen,
as is usual. I would think we will be starting in about 15 minutes,
Remus," said Dumbledore. "Which reminds me, I need to have a word
privately with Harry before we start."
Lupin looked at Harry
like he too wanted to have a word in private, but instead politely
excused himself and walked away arm in arm with Tonks.
"We'll bring your trunk up to your room then," said Fred and George.
Harry thanked everyone again for coming to get him, then followed Dumbledore into an empty bed chamber.
trust you've been holding up as well as you're able in the past month?"
began the old Headmaster, his eyes now betraying just a hint of concern.
slowly took in and released a single breath, which conveyed better than
words just how much he felt what he was holding up. "I guess that's the
best way to put it."
The look of concern in Dumbledore's eyes
deepened. "For whatever comfort it may bring you Harry, let me assure
you I will do all that I am able to lighten your burden."
"I know, sir."
fell silent at that, appreciating the irony of an old man who seemed
very tired himself offering to carry the weight of a troubled world for
a young man.
Presently Harry had a thought. "Do you know what
I'm supposed to do to defeat Voldemort sir? I mean, I can't expect to
duel with him and win the way you did. If anything was going to help
then knowing what I have to do to prepare would be it."
Harry, we only know what is in the prophecy: 'you have power the Dark
Lord knows not.'" said Dumbledore. "The nature of that power we can
easily guess, but the manner in which you apply it is for you to
discover. I would only add that while you alone can bring about the
death of Voldemort, you are not constrained to finding your way alone.
There are people near at hand you may not have thought of who are ready
to play a part in this, and who will be indispensable if you are to
"Which people? You mean Ron and Hermione?" asked
Harry. "I'm sure they'll be watching my back right to the very end. I
doubt I could stop them."
The headmaster's eyes regained some of
their twinkle. "I share your confidence in Mr. Weasley and Miss
Granger. However, I confess I don't know who else you might rely on. I
am merely repeating what our centaur friend Professor Firenze has told
Firenze said that? Then of course it would be something cryptic that revealed only the merest part of what he needed to know.
on to the matter I needed to discuss with you. This morning Arabella
Figg contacted me to pass along a note you'd written. She was beside
herself, almost frantic, thinking it might have been lying on her floor
for several days without her noticing it."
Harry shifted his
feet guiltily. He should have just knocked on the door and handed it to
her. "Err, I did put a note through her letterbox... about a week ago I
think. It was about two dreams I had."
Dumbledore nodded for Harry to continue.
first one was about the Department of Mysteries. Or I mean, it was two
Ministry investigators talking to me in a dream. They asked me
questions about why I went there. I tried to put them off by telling
them you told Fudge everything that was important, but they drew me out
somehow. Towards the end I almost let slip that the Order of the
Phoenix does exist. I was getting tired."
again. "That might explain a visit I received days ago. Were the
investigators by any chance Reynell Fortuna and Octavia Fortescue?"
"Yes, that was them," answered Harry, the names jogging his memory.
expressed interest in my efforts to fight Lord Voldemort. I am less
than pleased to learn they chose to contact you Somnapathically
however" said Dumbledore, frowning slightly.
is a secure method for wizards with the talent to communicate when they
need privacy, but the receiving subject can also be placed at a
distinct disadvantage. I shall have to have a word with them about
"Are there a lot of wizards and witches who can do it?"
than are Parseltongues or Metamorphmagi I daresay, but no, it is a
relatively rare ability," said Dumbledore smiling now. "Although it's
possible to train oneself to a limited degree in the art, most find
it's not worth the effort."
Great. Another thing marking him as
different. At least the Parseltongue was a borrowed talent... then
again, maybe his be