Chapter 1 - A Letter from a Friend
It had been a month since Sirius' death and Harry was still as remorseful as ever. He still cannot overcome his guilt about what happened to his godfather. He blamed his ineptitude in Occlumency and hero complex as what his friends called him before. If he had not been foolish enough, he would have realized that there is still an Order member in the school, although he couldn't blame himself enough for that. He still didn't trust Snape and that might be the reason why it did not occur to him to ask for his assistance. Besides, he knew that Snape detests his godfather and would probably just ignore his plea.
However, if he had really taken his Occlumency lessons seriously, Voldemort would not have been able to manipulate his thoughts. It was fault…why was he so stupid! Now, his stupidity and recklessness caused his godfather's life and he could never forgive himself for that…. With that final remorseful thought, Harry eventually fell sleep, taking with him a guilt so great that Voldemort was once again able to penetrate his mind.
"Potter, once again you fell into my trap! How can you even dare hope to defeat me, the greatest wizard of all time, with your pathetic attempt at magic? I assure you that more of your friends shall die and you would never be able to stop me from conquering the world that is rightfully mine!" Voldemort's laughter echoed in his ears and his scar bled almost mercilessly.
Harry was forced awake by that recurring nightmare. It had been his constant dream since Sirius died. Sometimes, he wished that he wouldn't need to sleep anymore. He tried to stay awake the whole night but after almost a week, his body gave up on him. He could not fight his sleepiness anymore. He even wished that the Dursleys would still give him a hard time just so he could think of something else aside from brooding about what happened in the Department of Mysteries last month.
But no, true to his word, his Uncle Vernon struggled with himself not to give him a hard time. The whole family, even Dudley, did not require him to do household chores anymore. They didn't pick on him anymore and it had been so silent since he arrived that he almost wished for them to return to their normal behavior so he could feel some sort of normalcy in his life. It was so pathetic. He felt so desperate and powerless. So unlike the wonder wizard boy that everyone in the magical world imagined him to be. How they would laugh or be scared if they saw their "savior" moping around the house with nothing to do and with nothing that he could do to finally fulfill the prophecy that everyone expected him to accomplish in the soonest possible time.
He gazed at his window again, hoping for even a measly scribble from his friends at Hogwarts. A month had passed but no one had written him with even a single hello.
"Maybe they are also angry at me because of what happened….maybe they hate me now…maybe they don't want to have anything to do with me now….maybe….no, I should not be thinking this way…" He hastily chided himself…maybe they just can't…but …
He was suddenly distracted by a minute owl flying towards his window…he felt excited…finally, a letter from his friends…He could not recognize the owl but who cares…finally someone cared enough to owl him.
How are you? I have been trying to write you a letter since the end of last term but I can't seem to find the right words. I know most people think that I am a little bit off but I am fairly sure that you are not one of them.
I meant what I said before…our loved ones are just behind the veil….We heard them..we just can't see them but maybe later we will find a way…
Wouldn't it be wonderful if one from Hogwarts will be able to solve that mystery? My mom, she worked for the Department of Mysteries before you know, said that they have been trying to solve that particular mystery for a very long time but no one came close yet…for all we know, Hermione will be able to solve it in the future….She's so bright. Do you like her?
Oh, it seems that I'm rambling again…I am so lonely here. Father is away somewhere and I don't have anyone to talk to. No one writes to me…I sure hope you will find some time to reply.
Luna?!? Harry stared at the letter in shock. Luna, the one who everyone teases as Loony, owled him while his so-called friends couldn't even find a way or time to write a simple hello to him. He shook his head in amazement and frustration as he got up to get his quill and a small bit of parchment to reply to her letter. At least someone cared…although he was a little curious about why she asked him if he likes Hermione and why she wrote "love" at the end of the letter but maybe he was thinking too much…
Hello! Thank you for writing…I know we have not been able to talk much before but I really appreciate your letter. Like you, I have nothing to do here too. The others are too busy doing something but I'm stuck here. I'm feeling quite useless actually. All I do was read the same thing over and over again. I'm really glad you owled me.
About your letter, actually I am not so sure yet about that veil but maybe…maybe you are right. I am quite confused right now. I think Hermione is really intelligent and she might work it out someday if she believes it is something worth solving. She's a great friend actually but I don't like her in that way. She's one of my bestfriends. Why do you ask by the way?
Classes is approaching. Would you like to go with us to buy school supplies at Diagon Alley? I have not gotten the letter from Hogwarts yet but maybe it will arrive soon…
'There', he thought, 'someone feels as empty as me...at least someone understands...I hope she replies soon...'
Harry sat on his bed gazing at the window, watching as his owl, Hedwig, flies away to its destination. For the first time that summer, a flicker of a smile crossed his lips. And for the first time, his dreams had been as boring as his real life...
The next day, Harry got up, made his bed, ate a hearty breakfast and proceeded to his room to wait for Luna's reply... If she was as bored as she said she was, she would have a reply for him today. True enough, the minute owl, which he now recognized as Luna's owl, came rushing to his window and flew directly to him. Harry excitedly extricated the parchment from the owl's lap and led it to Hedwig's cage to quench its thirst. He almost ripped the paper in his haste.
Wow, that was quick! I was not really expecting a reply so soon...well actually, I was not really expecting you to reply. But I'm so glad you did. Did you just invite me to meet you at Diagon Alley? I would love to! Thank you very much.
By the way, Father has informed that he won't be coming back. I'm not sure what happened and I don't know what he meant by that. I'm really worried. This is the first time that my father was away so long. Do you think he found some Crumple Horned Snorkacks in his journey and was too busy to come back? If that's the case, then I would perfectly understand. Those creatures are very interesting and father probably decided to stay there to learn more about them.
I'm lonely though. I don't have anyone here with me and the gnomes etc...are driving me crazy. But I know Father will get me after he is finished with everything he wants to do there. We will celebrate Christmas together. It will be a happy reunion and I can finally prove that Crumple Horned Snorcacks do exist.
You know, I have read from a muggle book that people can still communicate with those from other dimensions through a medium. Is it true? I wanted to talk to mom but I can't seem to find the correct potion or incantation for me to be able to do that. Father should publish something about that in the Quibbler someday, what do you think? Speaking of the Quibbler, I think our magazine is having some problems with the wizard printing press. No issue has been released for almost a month now.
Father told me not to worry about it but I miss solving the crossword and without that, life is so much more dreary in this place.
I wish you are doing better there. Don't you worry. Time flies so fast anyway....hope to see you soon!
'Something is wrong', thought Harry, as he stared at the parchment.
Chapter 2 - A Chat with Aunt Petunia
Harry stared hard at the parchment wishing he knows what's going on. Something was definitely not right! Even the Daily Prophet didn't send him newspapers anymore. He stopped writing to his so-called friends after sending several letters without any reply. He was inclined to think that all has been a dream if not for Luna's letter and all the books of enchantments sprawled on his bedroom...
Then suddenly, it came to him. Why not take a leaf from Hermione's book and try to learn a few advanced spells himself...... something like apparition...or maybe something else...Surely, the Ministry is still monitoring him and will dispatch wizards if they catch any sign of magic in Privet Drive. WIth that thought, Harry proceeded to his new productive escape from boredom.
If he could master apparition then maybe he could go to the Burrow, Grimmauld Place or Hogwarts and find things out for himself. He could just imagine Luna being scared but putting a tough front all the same. He must find a way to help her.
How to Apparate:
You must empty your mind except for the place you want to appear to. Picture it clearly on your mind and summon your power from within to let your body dissolve into atoms and travel at lightning speed to that particular place. Remember to imagine your whole self traveling so as not to leave anything behind.
For beginners, one must point their wands to their chest and utter "Apparato and wherever you want to go" clearly. This is a very advanced spell and one must be very careful in attempting this. As the wizard becomes more proficient with this spell, the requirements will be lesser. Soon, just mere thought of the spell will bring you to wherever you want to go.
'Hey, this seems easy enough' thought Harry. 'Kind of like Occlumency'. He practiced for almost an hour until he got the hang of it. Soon he was apparating to any part of the Dursley's house with his wand. It never even crossed his mind that other wizards would not have been able to do that within an hour.
Don't worry too much. I think your father has a good reason for not coming back. Maybe he really was able to encounter some Crumple Horned Snorkacks and ....
Harry's line of thought was suddenly distracted by the sound of owls coming to Privet Drive. 'Finally!' he thought....but no, the owls did not go to his window as usual. He did some quick thinking. The only person in the house aside from him is Aunt Petunia. If the letters were not for him, then maybe it was for her. Without stopping to get his wand, he immediately apparated to the kitchen where he found Aunt Petunia nervously reading the parchments.
"Aunt Petunia, who are those letters from?" He decided to approach her nicely since he doesn't want to risk her getting all nervous and refuse to answer his questions again like she did last year when Dumbledore sent her a howler.
"Umm....ahh....I can't tell you...I swore to keep....oh, what am I saying? Vernon will be mad at me and Dudley..." said Petunia awkwardly, desperately trying to hide her nervousness as she hid the letter in the pocket of her dress.
"Please, can you please tell me? Uncle Vernon and Dudley are not here. They don't need to know that you have been talking to me about .... you - know?" Harry fumbled for the correct words to soothe her nerves. At her emotional state, she might go off without telling him anything if he didn't choose his words carefully.
Aunt Petunia took several deep breathes and busied herself with washing the dishes before she looked at her nephew again. But what she said took him completely by surprise.
"I was a witch, Harry."
"What?!? Excuse me?" He must have heard wrong. There's no way that her Aunt is a witch. She hates them.
As if reading his mind, she made two cups of coffee and motioned for him to sit down on the table with her. She looked at the window as if remembering some very unpleasant memories.
"I said I was a witch, Harry. Just like your mother. "Was" not "is". I don't hate her as much as I said I do. It is more like my sense of self-preservation taking over. I enjoyed being able to do magic once....until something happened..." At this point, Aunt Petunia gazed nervously at the door and seemed to hesitate before she continued. Harry looked at her expectantly but did not press her.
"Do you remember my reaction to Dementors when they attacked you and Dudley last year?"
Harry recalled the situation very well. He was not only anxious and irritated that time but also insanely curious as to why her aunt remembered that bit of information about the wizarding world after several years of ignoring their existence. He nodded patiently and encouraged her to go on.
"Dementors attacked our house during the reign of Voldemort and has taken the whole family except for Lily who was at the wizard hospital that time. They brought us to Azkaban along with some other wizards. I didn't understand it the time. I was so young and hadn't even went to Hogwarts yet. I thought only the death-eaters attack and kill people but that was my first time to encounter dementors. But it turned out that the dementors kept us there to for food. They extracted all our happy thoughts and drained all the magic within us.
Soon, the prisoners were dying one by one until only a few remained. We were rescued eventually but it was too late. The survivors were reduced to being muggles and were forced to live a muggle life from then onwards. Of course, our memories were modified except for our parents because they still had Lily to consider. Mine was lifted when Lily and James were murdered by Voldemort and I had to take care of you. That's why I was so bitter. You reminded me of the life I once loved but was forced to leave. I also misdirected my anger to Lily. Why did she survive when all of us did not?" Aunt Petunia gritted her teeth to control the tears that are currently flowing on her cheeks.
Harry was dumbfounded for a moment. He didn't know what to say. How come nobody told him about what happened to his aunt. But it was a long time ago, perhaps nobody really remembers that his aunt was once a witch. Surely, Dumbledore would know but...how come he did not tell him? Several thoughts are flowing through his mind right now but couldn't quite articulate his thoughts. He just sat there and looked at her aunt in wonder.
Sirius said before that dementors really had that draining effect on wizards and only strong ones can hold on to their powers and sanity for a long period of time. His aunt was still young that time. She was not that strong yet...but Sirius said that it is possible for the magical powers to return after some time.
"Hasn't your magical powers returned yet?" He cautiously asked his aunt.
"No, it hasn't. When Dumbledore lifted my memory charm, he said it will return after some tme. I was hopeful for a while but after several years of trying nothing has happened and I grew more bitter than ever." she answered while still gazing hopelessly at the window as if waiting for something or someone.
"But surely, Dumbledore would...."
"Dumbledore stated quite clearly to me that there is nothing that he can do. Only I can make it reappear but I can't." she answered bitterly. She got up suddenly and motioned for him to come closer as if afraid that someone will hear what she has got to say.
"But he also hinted that if the boy-who-lived destroys the dementor's leader then every witch and wizard who suffered in their hands will regain their powers and be able to help him defeat Voldemort. I assume it was you, Harry. Please don't tell Vernon and Dudley but I really want my powers my back if only to be able to do something in this coming war. I hate being halpless. The dementors' attack last year reminded me how powerless I am to stop them if they ever decide to capture all of us. Please help me." she looked into Harry's deep green eyes and did something that Harry never expected her to do before. She hugged him... like a mother embracing her favorite child.
"Do you have a wand?"
"I asked if you have a wand. I figured if I have to try to regain your powers then maybe I should start with teaching you basic spells so that you know how to use them when the time comes..."
"Do I need one? Well, as far as I can remember, I used to do magic before without a wand. You yourself never used a wand before in some of the magics you performed. Remember when you managed to grow your hair back and the time when you made the glass in the zoo disappear. I knew it was you. I just chose not to say anything." Aunt Petunia plainly looked bewildered at the mention of needing a wand for basic spells.
Harry looked confused for a while too...'Come to think of that. Dumbledore doesn't always need a wand to perform some spells too...' He looked at her aunt with a new found respect. She made him remember something that he just took for granted before. 'Wandless magic....yeah, it's possible'. He smiled at her aunt.
"Well, since we cannot go to Diagon Alley yet to buy you a wand, let's try practicing wandless magic first. Wait for a while, I'll just get my spell books." Harry quickly apparated to his bedroom. He was already there when he realized that he just apparated without using his wand and without too much effort on his part.
He noticed his unfinished letter and tried to finish it as quickly as he can before apparating back to the kitchen.
Don't worry too much. I think your father has a good reason for not coming back. Maybe he really was able to encounter some Crumple Horned Snorkacks and is probably too excited for words. Lots of things seem to be happening but I can't figure out what yet.
Please do try to be careful there and owl me as soon as you find any unusual thing happening.
Chapter 3 - The Training Begins
"Now this spell is one of the basics. It's for levitation, the incantation is 'wingardium leviosa'. The wand movement is swish and flick then say the incantation clearly. Let me demonstrate it with a wand." Harry carefully levitated one of the chairs to another part of the kitchen while his aunt watched like an eager freshman at Hogwarts.
"I'm not quite sure how to do it without a wand yet since I have no control yet over wandless magic. All those spells I did before were just done accidentally. I have no idea yet how to do them but at least learning the spells will be good for starters." He smiled feeling like the session is just another meeting with the other members of Dumbledore's Army or DA, the club they formed last year in defiance of the useless Defense Against the Darts lessons that Umbridge had subjected them to.
Aunt Petunia nodded enthusiastically while taking down notes. She plans to review and memorize them later. Then she looked at his nephew as if trying to recall something.
"Now here are other useful spells that we learned in school. "Accio" to summon things, "Rictusempra" to tickle someone, "Expelliarmus" to disarm your opponent, "Tarantallegra" to ---" He was cut suddenly by sudden gasp from his aunt.
"Harry! I think I have just remembered something. Can you recall all those that you have done wandless magic? What were the conditions then?" She asked curiously.
"Umm....well, as far as I can remember, I usually do that when I am extremely agitated or very scared. Any extreme emotion actually. Why do you ask?"
Aunt Petunia looked nervous again as she tries to find something in her pockets. Harry observed his aunt carefully and the letter that she received a while ago crossed his mind again.
"Does this have anything to do with the letter I asked you about?" He was really tired of this secrecy thing but he knew he must be patient. Recklessness just caused him a lot of trouble before.
"The note was from Dumbledore." She answered carefully while handing him the parchment. Harry hastened to read the short message-"IT IS TIME..."
"What does this mean?"
"It means that since it is your 16th birthday today, I must now tell you some things that we concealed from you. You need to know in order to prepare for the war properly. Much as I hate to admit it, you have to know the truth. I owe you so much for treating you like dirt, you don't deserve it, and for saving my son's life last summer." She stood up and paced the room trying to organize her thoughts.
"It also means that things are going bad because Dumbledore or any other adult wizard is not present for this. It is up to me now to help you discover some of your hidden potentials." She suddenly stopped and looked at him in the eye. "I need to help you develop wandless magic because any unarmed wizard is very vulnerable for attacks. Do you understand? It will be terribly difficult because I can only help you but I cannot show you."
Harry saw tears flowing through her cheeks but he was too shock from numb to say or do anything... Things were that bad? What did she mean? Mind games was one thing but leading a very dangerous life without knowing what was going on was making his emotions reach its limit. Suddenly, the rage bottled inside him pushed towards the surface.
"Harry! HARRY!" His aunt shouted at him nervously as the cups on the table exploded with a loud bang and almost everything were moving as if a tremendous earthquake is causing it. Plates flew everywhere and the wind was so intense that it became very hard for Petunia to go near his nephew who looks as if he was in a trance. His whole body was emitting a golden glow that was very similar to what happened last summer when Vernon pressured him into answering his questions.
"WHAT IN RUDDY HELL IS GOING ON HERE?" Vernon hollered as he stepped into the living room and froze in his tracks as he noticed his nephew radiating all the enerqy that is wreaking havoc into the whole house.
"STOP THIS NONSENSE NOW, BOY! OR YOU WILL BE IN SERIOUS TROUBLE! GO TO YOUR ROOM! NOW!" He ventured and pretended to watch TV while stealing nervous glances at his nephew.
As quickly as it had come, Harry found his wits again and managed to put a stop to it. He grimaced as he surveyed the surroundings and found his aunt staring at him with an unfathomable expression. Ignoring his uncle's presence, he immediately repaired the damaged he had done and apparated to his room where he found Hedwig waiting for him. He desperately searched for any sign of anything that he might have brought but there was none.
Hedwig nipped his palm apologetically as if terribly ashamed for not being able to bring him anything. Harry slumped to his bed in shock. It was his 16th birthday today and not a single soul cared enough to send him a single bloody note! Hell, even a simple 'Hi' will do just so he'd know they are still alive! 'WHAT'S HAPPENING!!!' his mind screamed in agony.
Throwing all caution to the wind, he rapidly got up and packed all his belongings. He had to know what's going on outside. How could they expect him to fight back if he was blind to the current situation! God! Better die outside fighting evil than die here of anxiety. Just as he was getting ready to leave, the door swiftly flung open with his Aunt Petunia blocking his path.
"I can apparate you know." He dismissed her attempt to stop him but his aunt grabbed him hastily and whispered furiously at him.
"Don't you leave now! We still need to finish the lessons. You know that you need to prepare and without the others, you have no choice but to listen to me for now. You have the power but you cannot control it yet. Don't you see? The amazing display of magic downstairs was great...but....that.....is......not.......enough! Tomorrow, after your uncle goes to work, we will resume. It is imperative that we do this before you do anything else. Understand?"
Harry nodded weakly. "Of course, you're right."
"YOU WILL HAVE NO FOOD TONIGHT, BOY! DON"T SHOW YOUR UGLY FACE IN THE LIVING ROOM AGAIN! DO YOU HEAR?" His aunt suddenly shouted at the top of her lungs while smiling at him knowingly. Harry smiled at her too realizing that it was just for his uncle's benefit.
"That's good, Petunia. That scum should be really taught a lesson. You know we should not have taken that low-life here. He's causing too much trouble. What's for dinner? And where's Dudley?" Harry heard his uncle say to his aunt before he closed the door. He did not hear the reply but he doesn't care.
The next day's lesson went quite smoothly. After what happened what happened the previous day, Petunia was able to explain about wandless magic better.
"As you probably have noticed, you are able to access your powers only when you are experiencing extreme emotions like anger and desperation. So, this is very similar to the 'patronus charm' you used to repel the dementors. Try to think of some event, thing or person that can heighten your emotions. You must focus on the positive feelings though, leave the negative ones to the evil wizards. Your magic will be stronger that way."
The lessons went on without Vernon and Dudley finding out. By the end of the week, Harry had almost gotten the hang of wandless magic and Petunia has memorized the necessary incantations and wand movements although she cannot apply them yet. Even their relationship had gotten better. Harry could now call her 'Aunt' without feeling rebellious.
The nightmares had miraculously stopped although Harry was not sure if that was due to his increasing competence in Occlumency or he was just too exhausted to have time for nightmares. Even the pain had stopped. He was not sure if this was a good sign but at least now he felt relieved that he would not collapse in pain when he faced Voldemort again. That always put him at a disadvantage whenever they meet.
Unfortunately, he had no way of knowing now if he was near or not. For all he knew, he could just be sitting outside waiting for his prey. But he quickly brushed away that thought. Voldemort was stupid.... but not that stupid. He was a conniving, souless, evil reincarnate who's main objective in life was to kill some boy who hadn't even graduated yet. How pathetic!
But there was no denying the fact that he was becoming more worried as the day passed by. No one, not even Luna, was writing to him anymore.
Chapter 4 - The Visitor
Petunia watched as his nephew paced around the room restlessly. Almost two weeks had passed since they started training and even she had not received another note from Dumbledore. She assumed Privet Drive was still safe judging by the fact that she, Vernon and Dudley could still proceed to their normal activities without any unusual thing happening but the lack of news was beginning to get on her already frazzled nerves.
'How ironic' she thought. The nephew that she treated like vermin was the only one who could save them now. She had no illusions whatsoever that Voldemort would only attack wizards. Her past experiences taught her that. And as relatives of his mortal enemy, they were one of the primary targets. If not for the protection that Dumbledore had cast to Privet Drive, they might have been killed a long time ago. She shuddered at the memory of the dementor's attack last summer. It was as if history was repeating itself but not quite. Life was not as bad as before. She could feel it. The order was better prepared but could they hang on until Harry was ready for battle?
Harry stopped brooding from time to time to glance at his aunt. He noticed that she was frequently gazing at the door or window as if waiting for something terrible to happen. He mimicked her actions and stared at the door too only to be surprised with a loud bang on the door. Aunt Petunia jumped nervously and shrieked like a banshee before a soft voice called out.
"Hello, is someone there? I need to see Harry. Please tell him it's Luna." The soft voice said while knocking loudly on the door.
Harry cautiously peeked through the little hole on their door to look at the person outside. What he saw was a girl with dirty blond, waist-length and straggly hair, protuberant eyes and a dreamy expression. 'Yes, this is Luna, alright. No one can possibly imitate that classic expression.' Harry thought to himself as he opened the door for her.
"Hi, Harry!" She greeted him warmly as she entered the living room.
"Hi there too. It's so nice to see you. What brings you here?" He asked as his gaze fell on the huge backpack she is carrying on her shoulders. By the looks of her dusty face and dirty clothes, she must have been traveling for quite some time now and was probably dying of hunger and exhaustion although her facial expression didn't show it.
"Oh, well. After reading your last letter, I have decided to take a walk and noticed all the dark marks hovering above some of the houses in our neighborhood at so I have decided to pack up and leave. No one's there anyway." She answered as Harry relieved her of her heavy burden and offered her some drink while his aunt is busy preparing for lunch.
"But, but how did you arrive here." Harry asked thinking about death-eaters scattered everywhere waiting for him to come out.
"I walked." She quickly anwered as if it is the most obvious thing to do. "Of course I disillusioned myself so as not to be seen by you-know, unfriendly beings. After that, I refrained from using anymore magic to avoid being detected." She added after seeing his incredulous expression.
"Oh, ok. How far did you travel by the way?"
"Oh, I'm not really sure about the distance but our home is near Ottery St. Catchpole."
Harry almost choked at her words. "You live near the Weasley's? And you said dark marks are everywhere?"
Harry wanted to apparate to the Weasley's right then and then but was distracted by Luna swaying helplessly beside him. Fortunately, he was able to catch her before she fell down. With Luna there, he couldn't leave yet. While waiting for her to recover, he drove himself to his limit trying to master wandless magic at the soonest possible time. He had to be prepared.
'Now I understand. The Order has their hands full and probably stretching themselves trying to save as many people as they can while he prepares. At least, I will no longer be a burden now. No one needs to guard me. I can take care of myself.' Harry was brought back to earth by Luna's soft moans.
"Harry, I know what's happening outside. And I know that however much I wanted to believe otherwise, Father might not really come back. Evil is everywhere. That is why I am here. I want to help you, Harry. I have nothing to lose." She whispered but every word that she uttered was engraved on his mind.
"Do you know what happened to the Weasleys?" He asked her with apprehension. The Weasleys were very nice people and he would hate it if anything bad happens to them especially Ron who had been his bestfriend since freshman year.
"I'm not so sure. There's no dark mark there but aside from the wreck inside, the house is empty."
"WRECK? What ------"
He was interrupted by Aunt Petunia's call for lunch. He helped Luna up and accompanied her to the kitchen. He thought it best to discuss that while eating. Petunia eyed them carefully.
"So, is she your girlfriend, Harry?"
"No, she's one of my friends in school." He answered quickly failing to notice the cloud that passed Luna's eyes for a moment.
"Oh, I was just wondering...Can you please tell us what has been happening now?" She asked as if discussing the activities of the Dark Lord is just an ordinary past time but Harry knew better. He knew that she was quite terrified but was trying hard not to make it noticeable so as not to make them nervous.
Just then, an owl sailed past the still open door and headed straight to Petunia. Harry stared nervously at his aunt who immediately collapsed after reading the message. He quickly ran to her and picked up the letter.
"WAR HAS BEGUN...." The message was written in blood.
Harry froze and even Luna seemed afraid after he let her read it. He quickly revived his aunt to discuss the letter.
"I don't understand. I thought the war begun with the battle at the Department of Mysteries. But from this letter, it seemed that it has just started." Harry asked his aunt who has just been awakened.
"It simply means that the random killings has begun..." His aunt answered softly as if hearing it in that manner would make it less shocking and less real that it was.
Harry quickly finished his meal and beckoned for Luna to follow him. They both collected their things.
"Harry! Where do you think you're going?"
"To help the others."
"No, not yet! Harry, we should wait for further instruction." Aunt Petunia desperately tried to hold them back but to no avail.
"No, I'm tired of waiting already. I have to do something. I will not hide here like a coward who lets others die to protect me. Stay here and wait for instructions. I'll be in touch." With that said, Harry took hold of Luna's hand and apparated both of them to Grimmauld Place where they got another nasty shock of their life. Would it never end?
The once majestic manor was now like another delapidated building as if a hurricane arrived and left without so much of an apology to the inhabitants there. Tables were turned and the irritatingly noisy mother of Sirius was speechless for once. Kreacher was also nowhere to be found. And yes, there were burn marks on the walls too...and blood was everywhere.....BLOOD?!?
Harry and Luna walked around the house in a daze. Both had their wands out expecting the worst. They inspected the rooms hoping for any clue, any sign of life at all. But there was none. The house was empty and its eerie silence was getting to their nerves.
"What is this place, Harry?"
"This is my godfather's house and the headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix."
Luna's eyes clouded with concern but was quickly replaced with a steely look of determination. "Come on, let's search the house again. We might have missed something."
They carefully inspected the living room again where the destruction is at its worst. But still they found......nothing. They both slumped on the sofa in exhaustion and once again scanned the room until they both felt the coldness enveloping them. Wondering why, their eyes both turned to the fireplace and for the first time since they entered the room, they both noticed that there was no fire burning there.
"This is bad." Harry shook his head as if not daring to believe it.
"No fire. It usually burns for one week before it dies. It means this has happened almost a week ago or more. And another thing." Harry quickly extracted some floo powder beside the fireplace and instructed Luna to follow him.
"Hogwarts!" They both shouted quickly but nothing happened.
"It seems that it has also been disconnected from the floo network. Nobody can travel to and from that fireplace."
"Excellent, Potter!" Someone clapped from behind him and they both turned to look at the intruder.
"WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING HERE?" Harry angrily asked the malicious intruder now walking nonchalantly to him.
"Now, is that a way to treat an old friend?"
Chapter 5 - Back at Grimmauld Place
"YOU WERE NEVER MY FRIEND, MALFOY! NOR DO YOU HAVE ANY FRIEND AT ALL! YOU ONLY CARE FOR YOURSELF AND YOUR DARK AMBITIONS!" Harry hollered at the pale, blond boy sneering at them.
Harry and Luna scanned the room to see if there are other unwanted visitors lurking around with both their wands clutched at the ready.
"Oh, I see you have a new girlfriend now, Potter. I never knew your taste in women could sink that low. At least Chang and the mudblood are pretty." He spat at the words. "Really! Loony!" Malfoy stared at Luna in disdain with one of his eyebrows raised. He then bio=
Chapter 5 - Back at Grimmauld Place
"YOU WERE NEVER MY FRIEND, MALFOY! NOR DO YOU HAVE ANY FRIEND AT ALL! YOU ONLY CARE FOR YOURSELF AND YOUR DARK AMBITIONS!" Harry hollered at the pale, blond boy sneering at them.
Harry and Luna scanned the room to see if there are other unwanted visitors lurking around with both their wands clutched at the ready.
"Oh, I see you have a new girlfriend now, Potter. I never knew your taste in women could sink that low. At least Chang and the mudblood are pretty." He spat at the words. "Really! Loony!" Malfoy stared at Luna in disdain with one of his eyebrows raised. He then sat at the nearest sofa and started to polish his wand as if it was the most natural thing to do at the moment.
"If I remember correctly, your Pansy is not that great-looker either. Maybe you need to reevaluate your sense of taste too." Luna told him clearly annoyed at his demeanor.
"Whatever." Draco just rolled his eyes at them and continued what he was doing giving the impression that the conversation had already been concluded.
"What hellish mission brought you to here, Malfoy?" Harry softly asked the intruder again. His nonchalance was quite unnerving but he knew that blowing hio his captive audience.
Harry and Luna looked at each other. Both refused to believe what they were hearing. It couldn't be happening, could it? Harry squeezed Luna's hand and regretted that he didn't think of learning telepathy and legilimency while he was still at the Dursleys. He then noticed an old piece of cloth near the fire place. A sudden stroke of brilliance crossed his mind. He turned to Luna and tried to communicate as silent as possible. Luna, in case we need to make a quick getaway, we'll pretend that this is a portkey. No one must know yet that I can apparate. Ok? Luna nodded.
"They put up a good fight, you know, it's just that my allies were better. I'd switch sides now really fast if I were you. I heard that the blood traitors screamed like hell when shot by the cruciatus curse. The mudblood was even worse. They told me she passed out after they made her jump from the roof, with the help of the imperius curse of course." Draco continued his tale making it sound as if he was chatting with his long lost friends about something pleasant.
"WHAT?!?" Harry was visibly tensed now. Hearing about his friends being tortured from this abomination made it even worse.
"Really, Potter! Are you deaf now, too? You shouldn't even worry about your filthy mudblood and blood traitor friends. Their utterly useless, a disgrace in the name of wizardry." Draco muttered in disdain.
"DON'T YOU SPEAK ABOUT THEM LIKE THAT! YOU VILE, CONTEMPTUOUS HEIR OF THE SATANIC MALFOY CLAN! YOU'D NEVER AMOUNT TO EVEN A STRAND OF THEIR HAIR!" Harry screamed at him letting his emotions flow. His diplomatic attempt was not working anyway.
"I'll say whatever I want, Potter. Frankly, I don't give a damn." Draco then stood up and casually paced the room to go near them. "Funny, I never would have thought that you would hang around after learning that this belongs to me now. But I guess you're more idiotic than I give you credit for." He paused for effect before announcing. "Here are my comrades now. You sure made it easy for us, Potter."
"You wish!" Harry retorted before firing several offensive and defensive around him. Luna followed his lead but never left his side. They both decided that it would be easier if they just fight side by side.
More loud pops were held and several cloaked figure appeared all over the place. Soon, colorful and electrifying sparks were flying around the living room as spells after spells were fired. Harry quickly counted the enemies. Nine death-eaters plus Draco. That makes the odds to ten is to two. 'This is bad.' Harry thought while continuing with the battle.
"IMPEDIMENTA!" He heard Luna shot the spell to McNair who easily deflected it and fired back a stunning spell which missed her only by an centimeter.
"STUPEFY! EXPELLIARMUS! TARANTALLEGRA!" He bombarded the advancing death-eaters with all the spells he knew.
"IMPERIO!" Lucius tried to curse Harry but was greatly disappointed when it didn't have any effect on him.
"Hey, Lucius! Didn't your old master tell you that Imperius Curse does not have any effect on me?" He mocked the seething right hand of Voldemort. "RICTUSEMPRA!"
Lucius' legs were uncontrollable for a while but quickly recovered. "You think those childish spells are enough?" He sneered at Harry. "Watch how the dark wizards fight. CRUCIO!"
Harry suddenly fell on the floor in pain but he fought not to drop his wand. He saw Luna also crumpling on the ground near him soon after she accidentally bumped to Lucius breaking his concentration on the curse. Harry rushed to Luna's side to see if she was still breathing. "PROTEGO!" He quickly fired to temporarily shield them from all the attacks.
"Luna, are you allright?" Luna nodded weakly. Both of them didn't notice that the attackers had penetrated the shield charm and were now closing in on them.
"How touching!" One of the death-eaters clapped.
Harry and Luna quickly looked up to view all the sneering but triumphant faces surrounding them.
"We meet again, Potter. Why don't you just surrender quietly and spare yourself the pain? Your young friend shall be killed eventually. Our master have no need for her." The hatred in Lucius' eyes was very evident.
"What's happening? What have you done to my friends?" Harry asked ignoring their taunts.
"Allow me, Father." Draco proudly told his father who smiled at his son's attitude. "Well, you see, Potter. Time has changed now. The loyal followers of Lord Voldemort are the ones in command now. As dim-witted as you are, you should have guessed that the Daily Prophet has now stopped operating in fear. The people behind the Quibbler are, did I say are? I meant were, very brave but of course they have already been taken care of."
Luna paled visibly at the mention of the Quibbler and her knees wobbled slightly but she stood her ground. Harry was impressed by her strength. He thought she would break down when she heard Draco's taunts but she was stronger than she thought.
"I think Hogwarts has already been destroyed after several attacks from my friends. You better start thinking of transferring to another school now. Need I say more? Or have you finally grasped the obvious? As for Ginny ----" He was suddenly cut off by his father and did not looked pleased with it.
"That's enough, Draco. McNair, dispose of the girl properly. Goyle, grab the boy and follow me." Lucius barked his orders not wanting to waste anymore time.
Harry glanced at Luna and silently signaled that it was time. "WAIT!" They shouted at the aproaching death-eaters.
"WHAT?" The enemies asked in unison.
"Ever heard of a portkey?"
Harry and Luna both smiled triumphantly at them showing the old piece of cloth. They only managed to witness the look of panic, surprise and dispair on their faces before feeling the familiar tug on their navels as they apparated. As their feet landed firmly on the ground, both of them surveyed their surroundings again hoping that there were no death-eaters waiting for them. They sighed in relief when they found no one. They didn't think they have enough strength to fight now.
"Where are we, Harry" Luna finally asked him.
The scene before them was terrible. The walls are destroyed and the parts that were still standing were covered with dirt and blood. Tables were turned and the chairs were broken into pieces. The windows were also scattered into pieces. Statues were knocked down. The place looked like a palace that faced a battle and lost. It was quite depressing..
When Harry didn't answer, Luna continued her observation. "You know, if this place does not look so devastated, I would say that we are at Hogwarts."
Harry was cresftallen as he replied. "Luna, before we apparated, I was thinking of Hogwarts."
Chapter 6 - At the Room of Requirements
"HOGWARTS?!?" Luna exclaimed at him before collapsing to the ground.
Harry stared helpless at the crumpled figure while furiosly trying to think of a place where they can temporarily take refuge. He suddenly felt angry tears rushing to the surface. 'Why is all happening?' He thought.
'It's because of Voldemort that's why you must defeat him to stop darkness from taking over.' A familiar voice rang on his head. 'Remember, you are the only one who can defeat him but you need your friends. Find them."
'Yes, I should find my friends. But where?' He thought again while wondering how he could make this conversation from his mind. 'Maybe I'm going crazy'.
'You're as sane as I am. In time, you will discover all your hidden powers but first, try to find them. I can't tell you because Voldemort might be reading my mind now. I'm weak and I might not be able to repel him much longer. Think of the place where you can find almost anything....a place that changes itself to fit your purpose." With that, the voice was gone.
"Of course, why didn't I think of that before? Thank you, Professor Dumbledore." He whispered to himself.
"Harry, what are we going to do now?" Harry was surprised to find Luna at her feet now without her usual glassy expression. If anything, he could only find acceptance and grim determination there. For the first time, he noticed that she had grown a little taller and her figure was now quite pleasing to the eyes. The string of butterbeer caps she usually wore on her neck was gone but her blond hair that almost hid her face made her look more mysterious. She looked pretty. He quickly averted his gaze. He should not be looking at Luna this way. It was not the time for this kind of thing.
"Why? Is there something wrong?" She asked him gently.
"No, no. What happened to your necklace?" He shook his head to cover his embarrassment.
"Oh, I got rid of it last summer. It was a remembrance from my mother but I had to move on. No sense in dwelling in dreams." She casually replied with a toss of her long, blond hair.
'No sense in dwelling with dreams.' Her words echoed in Harry's mind. That was what Dumbledore had told him a few years back when he caught him returning everyday to the Mirror of Erised. "You're right, Luna. But first, we need to find our friends." A new found courage and determination filled his heart.
"In the Room of Requirements. Come on." Harry grabbed her hand and they both ran to the seventh floor of the palace thankful that not all of Hogwarts had been destroyed.
They cautiously entered the Room of Requirements and was surprised to see so many people there, most of them young. Some injured were being treated on make shift beds but the others were still sleeping. A wizard carefully approached them with his wand pointed on their direction.
"Who are you? What are you doing here?" The wizard roughly demanded.
"I'm Harry Potter and this is Luna Lovegood. We're here to find our friends." Harry quickly introduced themselves and showed his scar for proper identification. The wizard lowered his wand
"Very well. I apologize for being rude. It's just that darkness is everywhere and we can't be sure on who to trust anymore. By the way, I'm Professor Leninski from Durmstrang. Our school has also been attacked and Professor Dumbledore had been kind enough to give us shelter. The students and teachers from Hogwarts are staying on the other side of the room."
Harry and Luna shook his hand politely and went to the other side of the room. Only ten students, two Hogwarts professors and the school nurse were there. Lavender, Hermione, Padma, Pavarti and Cho were sleeping on one bed on the left. Colin, Dennis, Seamus, Lee and Ron were on the other bed. Madam Pomphrey was busy concocting some potion while Professor Mcgonagall and Madam Hooch were busy discussing something on hushed voices. No one had noticed their presence yet.
"Professor McGonagall?" Harry tentatively said to announce their arrival. He reckoned it would not be polite if they just hop on the bed and sleep their weariness off.
Both professors turned their heads at once and rushed to their side. Harry noticed that the teachers looked haggard as if they had not slept in days....even Madam Hooch was not looking as peaky as usual. The stern expression of Professsor McGonagall was quickly replaced with relief and excitement when they saw the new arrivals.
"Harry...Luna....I'm glad that you're both alive. What happened to you?" Harry could swear that McGonagall's eyes had gone misty at the sight of him.
"Professor, we got attacked by death-eaters....---"
"Is it true that Draco owns the ----?
Harry and Luna started answering at the same time. They turned to one another. The professors just seemed perplexed.
"Calm down...Miss Lovegood, you go first. Please start from the beginning." Madam Hooch stated quietly with her eyes darted to the sleeping students indicating that she did not want to disturb them with their conversation. Madam Pomphrey had noticed them however and walked over to join them.
"Well, Professors, I went to Harry's place then we apparated ----"
"Hold on, not one of you can apparate yet!" Professor McGonagall exclaimed in a hushed voice.
"That was my doing, Professor. I just thought it would be faster."
"Go on, Miss Lovegood." The professor just prompted Luna to continue.
"We apparated to Grimmauld Place, then we found Draco there...then several Death-eaters appeared and attacked us....then just when we were cornered, Harry apparated the both us to Hogwarts....but they don't know that, Professor. We pretended that we were using a portkey." Luna's eyes were cloudy as she recounted the day's events.
"Professors, Draco and the other death-eaters told us the worst. Is our situation really that bad? Does Draco really own Sirius' house now?" Harry ignored the painful throb on his shoulders where a curse had hit him a while ago. He noticed that the Professors looked meaningfully at each other before answering his queries.
"We are on a very difficult position now, Mr. Potter. Innumerable aurors and wizards had been captured and killed during the countless attacks that the death-eaters launched last summer. It had been fortunate enough that we were able to send students staying at the headquarters to this place right before the enemies attacked it...." Professor McGonagall suddenly stopped as if pondering if she should continue. Harry stared at her and was surprised that he could read her thoughts. 'Shall I tell Harry about Dumbledore and Ginny?' She seemed to be debating with herself.
"What about Ginny and Professor Dumbledore?" Harry promptly asked her. The three adults turned to him in surprise.
"How did you know?" Madam Pomphrey wondered.
"We don't know anything. I just remembered what Draco said a while ago before he was cut off by Lucius." Well, that was near the truth, Harry thought although he still couldn't believe that he could read their minds.
"I think both of you had enough for today. Why don't you sleep first?" Professor McGonagall tried to evade the topic.
"I think it would be better if you tell us now, Professor. We would not be able to sleep without knowing first. Besides, knowing the real situation is the first way into solving a problem." Luna pressed them politely using pure logic like a true Ravenclaw to win her case. Harry squeezed her hand in gratitude. He was afraid his temper would get the better of him if he would be the one to insist.
The professor sighed again. "As much as I wanted to withhold some information, Luna was correct. You have to know. Times have changed and you have to be equipped for the battle in our midst...." She paused and took a deep breath before she continued. "Dumbledore and Ginny were captured. We don't know what's happening to them now. Dumbledore can take care of himself but Ginny....I shudder to think what they might be doing to her now....The Weasleys are distraught." The professor finally broke down and left to seek refuge on a dark corner of the room leaving both of them with Madam Hooch and Madam Pomphrey who were also shaking in grief and desperation.
Harry felt numb for a moment. 'Ginny! Why her?!? What do they want from her?' He felt Luna hug him and they decided that it was time for them to rest. Today had been a long day and tomorrow might be longer. They need their strength.
Chapter 7 - The Reformation of Dumbledore's Army
"CONSTANT VIGILANCE, POTTER!"
Harry was still pondering on Mad-Eye Moody's favorite expression when he suddenly felt the bed vibrating furiously. Startled out of his wits, Harry jumped from the bed, drew his wand out and scrambled to find his glasses that fell on the floor in his haste. He was about to launch his first defensive spell for the day when he noticed Lee Jordan and Seamus Finnegan clutching their stomach trying to control their laughter while Hermione Granger and Luna Lovegood glared furiously at them.
"Glad you find that amusing." Harry snorted at them as he hid his wand.
"You should have seen your face, mate. Hahahaha!"
"That is not funny, you morons!" Hermione snarled angrily at them.
"Yeah, well, I honestly thought we were being attacked or something and given the situation ---"
"Given the situation, we might as well put a little color to our lives or else, we would all go crazy here." Seamus butted in seriously.
No one said a word for a moment. Suddenly, they were all reminded of the horror that they were living now...the memory that they all wished to forget and hoped that they were all just a part of dream that can be sent to oblivion after several months or years. The girls suddenly regretted reprimanding Lee and Seamus. Hermione broke the silence.
"So, who brought you here?" She asked Harry and Luna.
"Harry apparated both of us here after battling with several death-eaters at the headquarters of....what's that again? Order....something like that." Luna answered casually as if it was an everyday occurrence.
"B-but.....you can't apparate to Hogwarts...how?" Hermione stammered in surprise.
"That's what Professor McGonagall said last night....but if I recall correctly, you cannot apparate to the headquarters either....but the death- eaters did." Harry answered thoughtfully apparently puzzled too about what happened. "But I'm glad I forgot about that little piece of information or I wouldn't have attempted to go here in the first place."
"The Malfoy brat told us that the security of the headquarters was weakened when Sirius died so maybe something similar happened to Hogwarts." Luna added. Hermione looked thoughtful. The others were silent too.
"So what happened here? Professor McGonagall told us something about Dumbledore and Ginny being captured...." Harry's eyes scanned the room to find Ron, his best friend and Ginny's brother but he was nowhere to be found. Hermione followed where his eyes led and quickly averted his gaze.
"Ron is too devastated after what happened and he blames himself for not being able to save his sister. He is with Madam Pomphrey now. She is treating him with some calming potion so he won't do something foolish." Hermione answered his unspoken question dejectedly.
The Patil twins and the others soon joined the conversation and together, they shared with Harry and Luna the events that resulted to making the room of requirements their temporary headquarters. Several parents, including those staying at Grimmauld Place, decided to send their children to Hogwarts a month early to ensure the safety of their kids. Dumbledore agreed and they were all able to settle there. However, after a few days, something urgent came up and Dumbledore and some other professors had to leave the castle in haste.
That was the time when the Death-eaters sneaked into Hogwarts. Some used the passage from the cellar of Honeydukes obviously led by Wormtail, one of the creators of the Marauders' Map so he knew all the secret paths to the school, and some entered the ordinary way like Lucius. Some were outside and barraged the school with complex spells to weaken the barriers. The students and remaining professors fiercely fought but their strengths were no match for their attackers. Soon, Hogwarts was in their control and all the people inside were captured.
Dumbledore arrived a few minutes later and bartered for the captives lives in exchange for his. The death-eaters immediately agreed of course. Even if they were not able to capture Harry, at least they got his mentor. It was only after Dumbledore conjured a portkey and sent us all to Grimmauld Place that they noticed that Ginny was missing. Some professors went back but to the castle but did not find her leading to the conclusion that the death-eaters did not release her like the others. It was only confirmed though after the next attack.
Apparently, Voldemort was impatient already and ordered another attack at Sirius' house. Somehow, Dumbledore sent a warning there and gave the residents an opportunity to escape. Order members sent the children and some professors back to Hogwarts to hide in the Room of Requirements and destroyed the floo connection to prevent death-eaters from following them.
"So that's what happened......" Harry shook his head in amazement...but a nagging thought entered his mind again. "How could Dumbledore let himself be captured without a fight? He could have gotten them all within seconds like what happened in the Department of Mysteries...."
"That's what's bothering us too." They all looked around to find Ron nodding his head solemnly. "Dumbledore is very powerful but he let it happen...why?"
"Are you all right, Ron?" Hermione rushed to his side immediately.
"Yeah, Harry's here. I should not let my best friend find me here in a state of distress. I would just die of embarrassment.." He smiled weakly and hugged his best friend.
"RON!!!!" Hermione exclaimed at him clearly put off by his reasoning.
"No, Hermione, just joking. Actually, Madam Pomphrey had convinced me that moaning and blaming myself will just make matters worse. Now that Harry's here maybe we can do something useful for once." Ron looked expectantly at Harry as if he was hoping for something miraculous to happen. Harry and others just looked hurt and dumbfounded at him. "No offense guys, it's just that he's my best mate. We went through a lot together and having him here with me added a boost to my morale." He quickly explained.
"That's ok, Ron. We understand. As for Dumbledore, it's bothering me, too. It can't be real but maybe he has his reasons...so let's leave it at that for a while....ok?" Hermione told everyone.
"What about Ginny though? What's the purpose of getting her?" Parvati asked ignoring the warning looks from Hermione.
"Maybe it's because the death-eaters thought that Ginny and Harry are romantically involved and he would go to any lengths to save her including bartering his life for hers...." Cho said seemingly hurt at the prospect of it being true while everyone stared at her and Harry.
"But it's not true! We are just friends and I treat her like a sister." Harry exclaimed in disbelief. He noticed that Cho sighed in relief.
"Yes, we know that and I think it would be best if we don't divulge that information yet or they might just kill Ginny if they found out that they were wrong. I wonder where they got the idea, though." Hermione stated quietly.
"Maybe they heard my conversation with Ginny when they attacked us." Colin rubbed his forehead as if trying to recall the exact scene. The others waited for him to continue. "Well, we were just joking around and Ginny was pretending that Harry and her are a couple ---"
"She what?!?" Ron suddenly exclaimed not daring to believe that his sister could such a ridiculous thing.
"Mmmm.....yeah, b-but we were just joking around....acting some make- believe situations....like a movie or play or something...she did not mean it, honest...we were just having some fun..." Colin continued nervously and cringed at the sight of a red-faced angry brother of Ginny.
"That's enough...That's enough....It's just a mistake...let's just hope that Ginny is smart enough not to let on that it was just an act." Hermione raised her voice to prevent everyone from making another comment. Harry opened his mouth to speak but changed his mind but Ron couldn't be stopped.
"So what do we do now?" Ron demanded angrily at them. Another stony silence greeted his words. Hermione bit her lip trying to think of something. The Creevey brothers suddenly found their torn blue socks very interesting. Others just stared into space until a strong voice dared answer the question.
"We form Dumbledore's Army again." Everyone looked at Luna as she spoke of the words. "With Dumbledore gone, we need to defend ourselves and the others....we need to master complex spells if we even hope to defeat Voldemort....we need to unite for without it, we shall easily be defeated." Everyone stared dumbfounded at her. They never heard Luna speak this way before. To them, she was just Loony - a dreamer, someone whose sense of reality was utterly questionable, but here she was giving them an obvious answer that they should have realized before.
Harry was impressed too by Luna's words. He already guessed that behind that Loony facade was a girl full of wisdom but he never thought that she could also be this strong and determined to fight evil....but maybe he should have realized that already after she, the only one in the group that was not from Gryffindor, went to help him rescue Sirius even if she did not know how important he is to him at the time. And then, the battle at Grimmauld Place, she held her place and never cried once even after the taunts about her father. She stood her ground. She was amazing....
"Luna's right. We must reconvene all the members and we'll try to train on some complex spells first before we do anything else. We need to prepare. Hermione, do you have any idea how to contact the others? I noticed you found it hard to communicate with me given the condition but maybe we can find a way to contact the others and bring them here." Harry assumed his status of leader of the DA and tried to induce a sense of organization to the others. "I see, all of us here are members, so....we just need to contact the rest of the members and see if they are willing to join us again. Then we can start the training. Do you all agree?"
Everyone nodded their agreement at once and hurried to their trunks to get their spell books and wands. Harry was now thinking of where they can train given so many people were staying there. Luna just stayed with him while she too was lost in her own thoughts. Ron and Hermione were busy reading something that may help them find a way to communicate with the others. Nobody noticed the bespectacled cat hiding under a bed, observing and listening to their every word. Chapter 8 - A Page from the Order's Record Book
"Mr. Potter, may I speak with you for a moment?" said Professor McGonagall, walking soundlessly, very cat-like, to where Harry and Luna were sitting. Harry nodded and followed the Deputy Headmistress to her table and sat on the nearest chair while the professor looked curiously at him.
"What is it, Professor?" asked Harry, wondering if she had overheard them talking. He made a mental note to find a more discreet way of organizing the DA because the adult wizards would never allow them to fight, not yet.
"I wish to speak with you about the secret defense group you formed last year. As the Order's resources are very much strained nowadays, we could not cover all territories and as we unfortunately realized before, we cannot always be here to defend the students. We need as many trained defenders as we can possibly have to regain our world." said Professor McGonagall, leafing through some book filled with writings that Harry couldn't quite understand.
'Apparently, I was wrong.' thought Harry in amusement, wondering where the conversation will lead to.
"The Order is requesting you to reform Dumbledore's Army and train them very well and defensive and offensive spells." continued Professor McGonagall, staring intently at Harry's eyes.
"I - I...of course, Professor....anything to help." said Harry in surprise.
Professor McGonagall sighed in relief. "Thank you, Mr. Potter. We have been wanting to do that but we couldn't seem to find time for it. We were contemplating on requesting Hermione to do it, but the rest of the Order seem to think your original structure is better. Besides, we were not sure yet if the rest of you would want to do it but now that you're here, you will be able to find out for yourself how much support you got. Don't worry, your friends will help you organize things." she said, implying that Harry must need to develop his eye for detail soon. Leaders must try not to leave any stones unturned.for one simple mistake might be fatal to all.
"Don't worry, Professor, we'll make sure that we will do our best to help our world return to normal." said Harry seriously.
"Very well, then. Off you go....but before you leave, I want you to have this." said the professor, handling a piece of parchment to Harry's outstretched hand. "That's a copy of a page from the Order's record book. It contains the general situation of the wizarding world. Use those information wisely."
Harry's eyes nearly popped out of their sockets as he read the paper.
"And Harry ---"
"Please don't hesitate to talk to us or ask for our help if you needed it. Never try to place the burden of saving the world on your shoulders alone. It's our world too and we will help you no matter what happens...remember that..."
Harry nodded solemnly and walked towards his friends, clutching the parchment tightly on his right fist. He called for a meeting immediately. As the group gathered around him, he started to tell them about the Order's request, explaining about the Order of the Phoenix to the others who do not know anything about it yet. Finally, he requested Hermione to read the paper for them.
GENERAL SITUATION OF THE WIZARDING WORLD
1. All wizarding schools attacked by the death-eaters - 36 dead, 215 injured
3. Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley - markets closed due to numerous attacks, no concrete figures of casualties yet; Weasley's Wizard Wheezes - operating in stealth.
4. Daily Prophet stopped operating to avoid the attacks
5. Quibbler bravely reported all the incidents but stopped after the disappearance of its editor - no information about his whereabouts yet.
6. Minister of Magic - resigned after receiving thousands of hate-mails from people who were not able to prepare for war because of the false information he fed them
7. Ministry of Magic - currently in chaos because of the sudden loss of the Minister, no one is brave enough to take the position yet.
8. Dumbledore and Ginny - captured but still alive.
9. #12 Grimmauld Place - attacked but damage was lessened by Dumbledore's warning.
10. Harry Potter - currently developing his powers - an order member needs to talk to him about this soon.
11. Aurors - reduced by half - need to develop the skills of other wizards
12. Victims of the dementor's attack on a certain wizard village 40 years ago - need to find a way for them to regain their powers. Most of them were powerful wizards and would be able to help us in this war.
The DA members just listened intenly. The news did not come as a shock anymore. After all, they already know the situation was very bad due to the fact that they were hiding. But the last bit of information came as a nice surprise. They never knew that and it was not written in the books. They wondered how many of those victims could actually contribute to their cause.
"Aunt Petunia!" gasped Harry. The others turned to him at once, eyebrows raising in question.
"She was one of those victims....she was telling the truth....she was a witch." said Harry who, until now, had not realized that he had some doubt on his aunt's words. "She asked for my help to get it back....she wants to help too..."
"WHAT?!? THAT WOMAN THAT TREATED YOU LIKE DIRT?!?" exclaimed Ron. "NO WAY!"
"RON!" Hermione chided him impatiently. "Will you stop being stubborn for once? We need as much help as we can get and if she's willing, then so be it."
"Did she give you any information on how to do it? asked Luna, steering the conversation from an impending argument.
"She said something about defeating the king of Dementors but I have no idea how to do it yet." said Harry, thanking Luna silently for her distraction.
"Let's see, maybe a patronus' kiss or something. The patronus sucks the power and give it back to its owner. What do you think?" said Lee.
"I don't know. There's no such thing...in the books I read at least." said Hermione weakly, annoyed that she did not know the answer to this one.
"It's because it was not written in the new books." Everyone turned to Cho who suddenly blushed. "You see, it's an old magic and probably listed in the old books only. My grandmother told me about it once but she said only a corporeal patronus conjured by a very powerful wizard can pull it off."
"Well, that settles it then. Hermione and Cho, you take charge of researching on that. Lee, Seamus, Colin and Dennis, I believe you are ingenious enough to take care of contacting the others. Luna, Ron and I are going to plan some strategies." said Harry.
"What about us? What are we going to do?" moaned Lavender, Padma and Parvati at once.
"Er --" said Harry, racking his mind for anything that he can assign to the three. "Umm....you can research on some very advanced spells that we can use and er...um....you can roam around the room and try to search for students here who might be willing to join us..."
"Oh, thanks Harry. We like that!" answered the three.
"And....er--maybe you can help the others after you finish your own task?" Harry pleaded silently to Hermione and Cho. They both nodded, not needing any explanation.
"Let's get going, then!" exclaimed Ron suddenly, glad that they can finally do something of importance.
"YEAH!" Dumbledore's Army returns!" They all shouted in excitement.
From one dark corner of the room, the bespectacled cat smiled at their progress and quietly left the room.
Chapter 9 - The Three Urgent Tasks
The formation of Dumbledore's Army rekindled a fire in the hearts of the young wizards. They promptly fulfilled the tasks assigned to them, much to the annoyance of the other people in the room who seemed to think that they were just wasting their time (In which Ron angrily retorted with a nasty, "Oh, yeah, you think so? Why don't you just go out there and die willingly?") and within 48 hours, another meeting was called to finalize the plans.
"Listen, comrades-in-wands," everyone groaned at the term. Harry smiled. "Just joking but hey, I like the sound of that. Let's hear the outcome of your tasks first. Hermione?"
Hermione stood up promptly and read clearly, "Patronus kiss should only be administered to the King of Dementors, in our case it was called 'Demeter'. The spell is 'Patrono Halkum' but only the chosen one could do that. The essence of the kiss should then be incorporated with a special power revival potion which Cho and I will be working on. The only tricky part is locating all those victims and finding the wizard village where they came from for the potion to work. As of now, we don't know the name of the village yet and even Professor McGonagall has already forgotten the place."
"Professor McGonagall also said that those wizards had their memories modified so they might not even be willing to do it. The village was magically wiped out from the books and since the place was unplottable, it is quite impossible for us to go there" added Cho.
"No, it's not." said Harry quietly. "You're forgetting what I said earlier. My Aunt Petunia was one of them. She lived in that village and the memory charm was lifted when she took me."
"Oh!" was all Hermione and Cho said.
"That's ok, guys. What about your group, Lee?" said Harry, noticing that the four boys were already itching to report.
"Hey, the task was harder than we thought but.....of course, we're geniuses!" exclaimed Lee triumphantly. Seamus, Colin and Dennis were grinning from ear to ear, clearly proud of their accomplishment.
"Yeah, who would have thought that the house-elves could do so much...." said Colin.
"Wicked! I ---" Dennis suddenly stopped when he noticed Hermione's cold expression.
"Chill out, Hermione. It's not as if we're exploiting them or something. They wanted to help...they really do...and they chose to do it. We did not force them." said Seamus cautiously. He knew that Hermione was quite touchy about elf rights but it was different if the house-elves themselves chose to help them. Hell, they need every help they can get, he thought.
"Ok, then. So how exactly are they helping us?" Hermione asked, not entirely convinced of their logic yet.
"Well, from talking to Dobby, we figured that the house-elves can be turned into a very effective spy network. There are house elves all over the world and their own brand of magic allow them to communicate with one another without alerting the wizards. Aside from that, they can also get past any anti-apparition barriers. You get the picture?" Lee paused before continuing. "We then requested Dobby and some of his trusted friends to locate the remaining members of the DA and personally give them the letters informing that DA has returned and that if they still wish to be part of us again, they have to give their reply immediately to the house-elf that delivered the message."
"And?" prompted Harry.
"Why do you think we're so excited? Of course, we got them all!" said Seamus eagerly, signaling Colin and Dennis to show them the letters. "Apparently, they were also hiding in some underground unplottable safe houses built during the previous reign of Voldemort."
"WHOA!" exclaimed the astounded DA members.
"Wicked!" said Ron.
"How come there are only 15 of them? We have 29 members, the letters should be 16." said Hermione, trying to recall who among the previous members, except Ginny, had not replied.
"Er ---um....." All turned at once to the small boy awkwardly wringing his hands. "We sort of....uh---forgotten to include Marietta Edgecombe in the list we gave the house-elves." muttered Dennis quickly. "Since she umm.....snitched on us last year......we figured it would be best if she's not here for now." he added hastily.
Harry nodded thoughtfully. "What do you think, guys?" he asked the group, carefully eyeing their reactions.
"I think whatever she had done last year, we should give her a chance." said Hermione firmly.
"NO WAY!" Ron vehemently said. He couldn't quite forgive her yet.
"We think Hermione's right." said Lavender and Parvati.
"It's quite hard to decide. After all, detention is not the only thing at stake here but she's my friend." said Cho weakly. Padma also nodded in agreement.
"So that's 5 votes for 'yes; and 5 votes for 'no'. Luna, what do you think?" asked Harry.
Luna looked taken aback for a moment before she replied, "I think Hermione's right. We should give her a chance but.... not right now. We have to observe first and make sure that she will not betray us a second time before we approach her again."
"Brilliant! Do you all agree?"asked Harry, smiling at Luna. The others reluctantly nodded. "So, that brings us to the last group. Parvati, what have you got so far?
"Not good. The polite ones just ignored us but the others downright insulted our efforts. There is one from Durmstrang and two from Beaxbatons who seemed interested but they are not feeling too brave at the moment though. Maybe we just have to wait." explained Lavender, feeling more downhearted as she read her report.
"That's okay, Lavender. We should have expected that. They will refuse to join us now because we have not proven anything yet. To them, we are just a bunch of foolish kids pulling a very dangerous prank. Don't worry, they'll come around. We just have to be patient and explain some more." said Harry, consoling the disheartened member.
"You're right, Harry. It's just that so many rejections were quite traumatic for us." moaned Parvati.
"We'll just continue to convince the three who were interested and then leave the others for later. By the way, here is the list of the most useful spells that we need to master as soon as possible." said Padma, handing each of the members a copy of the spells complete with the incantantions, correct wand movements and their uses.
"Thanks!." said Harry, putting a copy in the pocket of his trousers, "All of your reports will be very helpful to the general plan that Ron, Luna and I had drafted last night. The plan had been streamlined to three urgent tasks. First, we must bring Aunt Petunia here immediately. I need at least two other people who could already do some advanced magic to go with me. We reckoned it would be best if we always work collectively, in a group of 3 people or more. Who would be willing to join me?" he saw all of them raise their hands. "No, not all of us yet. It shall be carried out tomorrow morning already. No time to train first that's why I need those who can perform advanced magic already. Lee and Luna can go with me. Sorry, Ron." He apologized quickly to his bestfriend who seemed hurt that he didn't choose him to join the first team.
"Why Luna? She's one year younger than us..." Parvati pointed out.
"Yes, I know but after arriving at our house without so much of a scratch, I think she's up to the challenge." said Harry.
"The second task is to bring all the other members here, target schedule is next week. We all need to train religiously before that date because all of us will be going....unless someone wants to stay, of course." he grinned as the others groan in mock protest. "Ron will unite all the teams later after we have studied the report of Lee's group."
"As for the third task, we will all undergo another extensive training on battle related spells including advanced apparition..." he paused. "...and wandless magic..." The others gasped in wonder.
"But who will teach us?" asked Hermione.
"Is it really possible?" asked Colin.
"Yes, it is possible. Aunt Petunia will assist me in teaching you. She's more familiar with it. Actually, she was the one who taught me how." said Harry, levitating a chair without a wand to demonstrate.
"Cool! Why didn't you use that when we were at Grimmauld Place?" asked Luna suddenly.
"Because I don't want them to know yet and ----" Harry was suddenly interrupted by Madam Hooch's shout of "Dinner's ready!" "....it seemed that dinner's ready so we have to stop this meeting right now. I'm starving!" he playfully ran to the make-shift dining place. Several 'so-am- I's' followed him and one very large foot almost crushed his foot in haste.
"Luna, Lee, please meet me after dinner tonight at that part of the room." Harry whispered to them as they sat on their respective places. He pointed to the sofa near Professor McGonagall's table but discreetly hidden behind a shelf of books. "We'll finalize our rescue plan for tomorrow, okay?"
"Are you out of your mind? Of course, it's okay!" said Lee excitedly while Luna just nodded and smiled gently at Harry who suddenly felt lighthearted and cheerful despite of everything.
Chapter 10 - The Unexpected Arrival of the Dursleys and the Auror Trial
"As I was saying, we need to go back to the Dursleys and bring them here. No problem with that because I can apparate us all back here but...the problem is if we encounter some death-eaters along the way..." said Harry quietly.
"What about extra protection....invisibility cloak or something?" asked Lee.
"We can use the disillusionment charm for that. It's safer and besides, we left some of our things at the Order's head ---"
"PROFESSOR MCGONAGALL! Potter's missing! Some death-eaters attacked the Dursleys..." said a panicky female voice from behind.
"We were able to fend them off but the woman said Potter left a few days ago..." growled another, unmistakably Moody's.
"Mummy! Mummy! Why did they bring us here? They're not going to kill us, are they?" cried a boy whose voice was muffled.
The three peered from behind to find out who the new arrivals were. Harry saw the Dursleys immediately. His uncle was clearly terrified but tried hard to hide what he thought was indignity on his part while his aunt was undeniably distraught. His cousin was hiding behind his mother's dress, destroying his reputation of being a notorious bully. He recognized Tonks and Moody too who seemed ready to have a heart attack.
"Calm down. Potter's here." said Professor McGonagall calmy, motioning them all to sit down and make themselves comfortable.
'So, she doesn't have any contact from the order too aside from if they come here personally.' noted Harry.
"WHAT?!?" exclaimed Moody, his eyes rotating 360 degrees until he found Harry, Luna and Lee staring cautiously at them.
"But Professor, we guarded him tightly and we are sure he did not leave the house." protested Tonks, feeling bad at their failure.
"I've been telling you that he can apparate but you won't listen." argued Aunt Petunia. "I also taught him how to use wandless magic ..."
"PETUNIA!" screamed Uncle Vernon who seemed to have forgotten his anxiety as he berated his wife for letting the forbidden words escape her lips.
Harry quickly strode to his aunt's side. Luna and Lee came out of the shadows too and discreetly went to join the other DA members to give them some privacy.
"Explain yourself, Potter." said Moody, glaring at him for causing them so much stress.
"I'm sorry Professor Moody, Tonks...I forgot that about the order members watching over the house. You see, after being endlessly frustrated at the lack of news, I started to make good use of my time. I taught myself how to apparate and Aunt Petunia, being one of the victims of a dementors attack before, taught me how to perform wandless magic from memory." said Harry.
Harry quickly told them a heavily edited version of the incidents after he and Luna left Privet Drive to visit Grimmauld Place. His story was greeted with shock, amazement and incredulity from his captive audience. He also shared with them the DA's plan of rescuing the Dursleys but he did not tell them the reason why. Mad-eye Moody shot him a questioning look but did not press on. Harry smiled at him in relief. For some reason, he did not want his uncle and cousin to know about it.
"Excuse me, Mr. Potter but I think your relatives need to rest for now. I'll take them first to their cubicle." interrupted Professor McGonagall.
"No, Minerva, if you don't mind, I wish to stay." said Aunt Petunia, surprising them all but Harry who seemed to know more than he was letting on. Vernon tapped his foot impatiently but left with his son when he realized that his wife was not going to change her mind.
"So, Potter, what's the real plan?" asked Tonks after they left.
"We wanted to bring Aunt Petunia so that she can tell us more about the dementor's attack on a wizard village forty years ago. We wanted to give her and other victims their powers back so that they can help us win this war." said Harry confidently, giving the impression that it was something that had already been thoroughly discussed by the DA members.
Harry was startled when his aunt suddenly hugged him and murmured a soft 'thanks' to him. Tonks and Moody gaped at him in shock but Professor McGonagall just encouraged him to go on. He then continued telling them about the Patronus kiss, Demeter, bringing the other DA members and their plan to train for battle.
"So basically, auror training eh?" questioned Moody, eyeing him intenly.
"Yeah, something to that effect. We cannot go on hiding forever and the Order do not have enough members to protect us all the time. Let's face it. We have to train for war because WE are at war." said Harry, determination etched on his young face.
Moody carefully assessed the young man in front of him and paused for what seemed life eternity before he replied, "Very well, then. If you all can get back here alive and without any major injuries, I will train you myself. But, if you fail, you will forget all about it. Consider this your entry test to auror training."
"We'll help, too." said Tonks, looking at Professor McGonagall for confirmation. She briefly nodded.
"Thank you. Don't worry, we will not fail." said Harry confidently.
"Don't be too sure about anything, Potter." growled Moody. "When is it again?"
"Okay, we'll be back that day and make sure you're all in one piece." With that, Professor Moody and Tonks swished their cloaks and disapparated to heaven knows where.
"INCENDIO!" shouted Seamus, sending a chair on fire, surprising even himself at his progress.
"PETRIFICUS TOTALUS!" screamed Parvati at Lavender who immediately fell after being hit by the body-bind curse.
"Accio wands!" said Lee almost lazily, sending the wands of Colin and Dennis flying to him. He grinned wickedly as he returned their wands.
Colorful sparks flew around hitting and deflecting the walls and dummies strategically placed within the training room. The group started their own training to prepare for the second mission. Harry told them about Moody's challenge and that encouraged them to do their best. Professor McGonagall and Madam Hooch built a solid room within the Room of Requirements (which magically expanded) which served as their training ground. They put a silencing charm on the room so as not to distract the other occupants.
"HYDRO-OXIDUS!" shouted Ron, immediately pinning Hermione on the wall with the strong water cannon charm he conjured. He quickly stopped the spell and rushed to the nearly drowning Hermione.
"Good one, Ron! That was very powerful!" exclaimed Hermione at once, proud at her bestfriends progress. Harry gave him a thumbs up from across the room.
"PROTEGO!" cried Luna as Harry hit her with the cruciatus curse. The effect of the spell was minimized but still made her writhe in pain. The others stopped what they were doing and gaped questioningly at Harry.
"Harry! It's illegal! We should not be doing that!" exclaimed Hermione at once.
"Finite Incantatem!" Luna stood up at once. Harry continued explain, "Yes, I know, but charging from experience, death-eaters prefer using unforgivable curses on their enemies. We need to learn how to counter those curses."
"B-but ---those are illegal." Hermione stated weakly. Ron nudged her lightly, shutting her up.
"Never stopped the death-eaters, did it?" said Harry mildly. "Let's pair up again and practice defending ourselves against those spells, particularly the imperius curse. I'm sure none of us would enjoy being controlled by the enemies. Like this..IMPERIO!" shouted Harry unexpectedly at the unprepared Seamus.
Everyone stared in amazement as they witnessed how Seamus climbed the wall, breakdanced on the floor, declared his undying love for Lavender, and stunned Colin. The others glared at Harry for this.
"Please don't be mad at me." pleaded Harry gently. "It's just to show how the imperius curse works. It controls the mind of the person completely and if ordered, they will not hesitate to hurt even the ones they love most." His friends nodded in understanding. He released Seamus from his control and instructed the others on what to do.
After several days of rigorous training, all became adept at fighting the imperius curse, even young Dennis who seemed so weak at first could totally throw it off. Disillusionment charm was a cinch but apparition was met with some difficulty. But all were able to apparate quite well eventually though not as good as Harry yet who could not only apparate other people with him but also pass anti-apparition barriers. Their shield charm also became stronger. They discovered that if they conjure the spell spell together, it will form a shield strong enough to repel unforgivable curses completely.
The next morning, Ron called for a meeting to discuss their strategies.
"Here is the group list. We separated them according to their relative distance from each other. The house-elves are going to guide us to their location so we don't have to worry about that." said Ron, handing each of them a copy of the grouping. "I trust that any personal differences shall be ignored at this moment. Is there any problem with the grouping?"
"The team leaders are Harry, Ron, Hermione and Lee. Are you ok with that?" said Luna. The others nodded in assent.
"Since this room and their location have anti-apparition barriers, we need to go to Hogsmeade first and apparate from there to a point near the safe- houses and bring the other members there before apparating back to Hogsmeade. Okay?" said Ron.
"But how do we go to Hogsmeade?" asked Seamus.
"The same way that the Death-eaters came here, of course." said Lee.
"Wouldn't it be safer if Harry just apparate us to the place?" asked Cho.
"Yes, it would be safer but we wouldn't learn that way. We didn't train like madmen here if we're just going to let Harry do all the work." said Ron heatedly.
"That's good enough. By the way, Cho and I made another batch of fake galleons and put a more advanced protean charm there. If before, it only tells the date and time of the DA meetings now it can inform us if any of our friends are in danger." said Hermione to distract Ron, giving each of them a fake galleon and gave the leaders the coins for the other members.
"If it burns very hot, it means someone's in danger and you only need to look at the galleon to know who's calling for help." added Cho.
"You're really brilliant! Thanks!" exclaimed Ron, forgetting his irritation at Cho as he stared at the golden coin with in his hand with DA etched on its surface.
"We're ready." declared Harry during lunch. "Today is Sunday... Tomorrow we must go and bring our comrades-in-wands back. If you have any doubts about this mission, say it now. Otherwise, it will be too late." he paused to see if any of them wore a tiny hint of reservation on their faces but what greeted his eyes were supreme determination and unrivaled courage. The group was almost glowing with it. "All right. We will meet here and leave at exactly 6 am tomorrow. Rest well for now. We will need our strength." Chapter 11 - The Second Mission
"Umm...Harry, can we talk?" said Ron tentatively.
"Sure." said Harry as he led Ron to a nearby sofa.
"Umm...about Ginny...I mean..."
Harry nodded in understanding. "You're asking if we are going to rescue her too?" he glanced at Ron who looked tormented with the thought of his only sister suffering at the hands of the enemies. "What do you think? Silly, of course we are. We just need to strengthen ourselves first."
Ron sighed with relief. "Thanks, mate. I just need to hear that. You know, before tomorrow."
"Don't worry. I'm sure Dumbledore ----" Harry suddenly stopped. Ron eyed him questioningly. "Nothing...I just remembered that Dumbledore was the one who adviced me to go here."
"But how? He was captured weeks ago." said Ron.
"I think he used mental telepathy to talk to me. Wait, I'll try if I can make it work reverse. I also want to ask him a few questions myself." said Harry, concentrating hard on the headmaster's face until it became solid in his mind.
"Professor, can you hear me?"
"Yes, professor, are you and Ginny allright?"
"Yes, don't worry about us. Focus on your plan for tomorrow."
"Ok. Professor, I want to ask you something else if you don't mind. Do you have any idea how I can be talking to you right now? And why did my scar stop hurting. The pain is supposed to be intense now but I don't have any visions anymore."
"No, I don't mind. The shock you gave me when you almost demolished my office last June made me realize that. As for the first question, I think some of your inert powers surfaced at last due to the urgency of the situation. As for the second question, I can only presume that Voldemort has been closing his mind to you too to prevent you from discovering his plans. He does not want to take chances now that he's winning the war."
"Oh!" was all Harry could say to that.
"Be careful tomorrow, Harry."
"We will. Thanks, Professor. Take care too." With that, Harry cleared his mind again and started to tell Ron what the headmaster had told him about Ginny. He was exhausted from the effort but seeing the relieved expression of his best friend was worth every ounce of energy he spent.
All the members of Dumbledore's Army, wearing special DA cloaks magically sewn by their house-elf friends, were nervously pacing the floor while waiting for the signal to leave. The team leaders were currently reiterating the plan and outlining all possible scenarios to their respective groups. Professor McGonagall carefully stayed away from their path to avoid increasing their stress. As the clock struck 6:00 a.m., all members disillusioned themselves and silently followed their leaders to the path that led to Hogsmeade. They were glad to find the place deserted except for the house-elves nervously waiting for their arrival.
"Remember, the whole operation should take no longer than 15 minutes. If anything happens, just press the coin and the rest will try to help if they can. Also, as soon as the group has completed its mission, return to the training room immediately and wait for the others. We'll have a short meeting afterwards. Okay?" said Harry. "House-elves included."
The others mouthed a silent "yes" followed by swishing of cloaks and small 'pops' as the DA members apparated to their destinations.
Several minutes later, Ron's and Lee's groups arrived safely at the Training Room. No one said anything as they waited for the others to return. Some resorted to reading while others played solo wizard chess to while away the time. Each constantly checking the time and wondering what's taking the others so long. It had been almost an hour. Some unconsciously held the coin as if expecting it to burn soon. The wait was almost unbearable when they heard arguments erupting outside the room and it seemed to be getting nearer.
"HOW DARE THE TWO OF YOU! DIDN'T WE SPECIFY THAT WE'LL COME FOR YOU AT EXACTLY 6:05AM? DIDN'T WE CLEARLY STATE IN OUR LETTER THAT YOU SHOULD BE READY WHEN WE ARRIVE TO PICK YOU UP! WE ALMOST GOT KILLED BECAUSE OF YOUR IRRESPONSIBLE BEHAVIOUR!"
The door suddenly opened and in came a livid Hermione followed by Dean and highly embarassed twins. Parvati was assisting Seamus who was limping with pain but assured everyone that he just tripped on the way back and was not cursed by the death-eaters. Ron let out his breath which he never realized he was holding when he noticed Hermione enter the room.
"But the gnome ate the letter, honestly!" said George.
"Yeah, we were just starting to read it when the gnome grab it from our dainty hands and shoved it down its throat." added Fred.
Hermione was about to curse them to oblivion when Ron, upon realizing what's happening, hastily step in.
"Really! You know, you don't need to make pathetic alibis. A simple apology will do." Ron glared at them.
The twins looked nervously at one another. It never occurred to them that little ickle Ronniekins would dare tell them off for anything. But he was right. Mustering enough courage, they both looked at Hermione and mumbled something that sounded lile "we're sorry." Hermione just rolled her eyes at them and walked to the other part of the room. Then, as if suddenly noticing something, she returned to where Ron was.
"Where's Harry's group?" she asked Ron.
"They're not here yet!"
"WHAT!" shouted Hermione in panic. She quickly checked her watched. "It's more than an hour!"
As if on cue, the door opened again and all eyes turned to the new arrivals.
"Guys, is Luna here?" Harry suddenly asked, scanning the people in the room.
"Why? What happened?" asked Cho who walked over to join the conversation.
"We don't know actually. When we apparated to Hogsmeade, she was still behind us but when we arrived there, we discovered that she's not with us anymore. We checked the place and even went back to the safe house but we can't find her." said Katie. Harry looked distraught.
"Master Harry Potter, Dobby is looking for your friend, Luna. Don't worry." said Dobby quickly and disappeared. The other house-elves followed too.
All stared into space without any idea of what to do next. The others did not really like Luna. Some even thought her mad but the situation called for some unity and any fighter for the good side should be treated with respect and concern. Their anxiety was tripled as they felt the coin burning. Each took out the coin and saw the words ------ "Help! Luna! The Quibbler!" blinking fast.
Without wasting anymore time, Harry called Dobby and requested him to find out where the Quibbler was. Within seconds, Dobby arrived with the exact location and Harry apparated to the Quibbler's office where a shocking sight greeted him. Luna was fearlessly fighting her attackers - 4 death- eaters. Dodging curses and sending out several trying to buy some time until help arrives.
Harry quickly pulled his own wand and tried to get close to Luna to shield her from some of the more advanced curses, thankful that the attackers did not seem to be very adept at curses yet.
"ESTUPENDO!" he shouted at them and the enemies backed away quickly, staring at their wands as if wondering why they were holding such a stupid piece of wood. Harry smiled as he started to ran to Luna's side. His smile faded, however, when he heard loud pops again as more death-eaters entered the office. The battle continued.
"CRUCIO!" one of the death-eaters immediately cursed Harry but he was able to duck in time.
Harry realized that he need to get Luna soon so they could escape but the death-eaters made them too busy. The four death-eaters were still behaving oddly but the new arrivals were more experienced than the first four. They never gave them time to breath. Curses flew across the room at lightning speed. Harry saw Luna struck by a stunning spell. He quickly revived her and was exhausted himself when he heard several more pops. The death- eaters stopped to look at the new arrivals too, not expecting any reinforcements. But they were surprised when several curses hit each of them as ten DA members who already started training arrived.
"YOU IDIOT! Why did you disapparate suddenly?" shouted Hermione in between curses. "I thought we're not supposed to go anywhere alone, especially in situations like this. Whatever happened to the 'strength in numbers' speech you gave last time?" she continued furiously.
"Sorry. I guess I didn't think. I was too ....never mind. Sorry again." mumbled Harry as he helped Luna up.
"Hey, Harry! Let's try that 'collective-defend-and-attack' strategy we practiced before." shouted Ron, clearly enjoying himself.
"Yeah, cool!" shouted the others. Harry smiled inspite of himself. His friends did not seem terrified anymore. In fact, they seemed to have the upper hand in this little encounter. He gave Ron a free rein to lead the commands.
"FORMATION!" shouted Ron. They DA members quickly surrounded the bewildered death-eaters, stuck out their wands and simultaneously yelled, "ABSOLUTO PROTEGO!" A rainbow shield covered the DA members. Then without removing their wands, Ron shouted, "HYDRO-OXIDUS!" at the stunned death- eaters with the effect of the spell multiplied six times due to the combination of their powers.
It hit the death-eaters forcefully and smashed them to the wall, sending some of the office equipments to fall on the ground. Sensing defeat, they quickly disapparated to heal themselves somewhere and glared maliciously at the DA members as they did so. Harry then quickly put up some defensive spells around the office to avoid another encounter.
Hermione, still clearly annoyed at the turn of events, glared at Luna and asked heatedly. "Can you please enlighten us why we are all here now instead of the Training Room?"
"I apologize. I just could not resist the urge to visit my dad's office before I go back. There's something that I need to check because I don't believe that my father is dead." Luna said evenly while Harry held her hand in support. Cho's eyes narrowed when she noticed it.
Hermione's face visibly softened. "Did you find out anything?"
Luna got up and retrieved two pots of plants from under one of the table, probably his father's. One was dead, the other was still blooming. They all stared at the plants unable to comprehend what it meant but Hermione appeared to be deep in thought.
"These are not ordinary plants. My mother enchanted them to live magically. One represented her, the other represented my father and third me. My father brings my plant wherever he goes because it gives him an idea of my current condition. The one representing my mother is dead but the one representing my father is still alive. So, it means....it means he's still alive and just hiding or probably captured somewhere.....but still alive!" Luna said tearfully and the others, sympathizing with her finally understood why she had to do it.
"Luna, I may not know how to find your father now but I think we can do something to make his spirit come alive." said Hermione brightly, trying to make up for her rudeness a while ago.
"What do you mean?" said Luna cautiously.
"All publications have stopped operating or forced to close because of the current situation. Who shall give news to the people then? Who shall inform them on what to do or where they can go for help if anything happens? The ministry is almost useless nowadays so I believe the most we can do is...." Hermione hesitantly glanced at the others before she declared, "I think we must reestablish....The Quibbler."