Harry had known that his fifth year would be extremely busy, but he hadn’t been prepared for the amount of homework that would be loaded upon them. Tuesday and Wednesday night, all of the fifth year Gryffindors were around one big table in the common room, working together on their piles of work. Currently they were working on the newest essay Snape had ordered them to write. In the end, it was still Hermione who made sure that they all finished that night.
“Honestly Hermione, you’re an angel,” Harry yawned. “I don’t know what we would do without you.” He was quickly agreed by his other class mates. Hermione gave him a small smile.
“If this is how it’s going to be all year, they can just kill me now." Ron grumbled. “And it’s already dark again.”
“What does that have to do with our homework?” Neville asked puzzled.
“Nothing.” Ron shrugged.
“Weren’t Fred and George almost ready working on those Skiving Snackboxes of them?” Dean asked. “I wouldn’t say no to a day off tomorrow. I’m beat.”
“Honestly!” Hermione rolled her eyes. “It’s only the third day of the school year and you’re already nagging.”
On Thursday after Transfiguration, which was their last class of the day, Ron pulled Harry aside as they exited the classroom. “Hey, you think we could go flying?”
“Flying?” Harry asked. He looked out of the nearest window. “Well at least it isn’t raining. Sure.”
When they walked over the grounds towards the Quidditch pitch, Harry noticed that Ron was uncharacteristically silent and seemed slightly nervous. Suddenly he realized where the sudden desire of his best friend to go flying came from. He didn’t just want to use his new broom.
“You want to try out for Keeper, don’t you?”
Ron looked at him startled. “Well yeah, I reckoned it wouldn't hurt to try, you know.”
“Great!” Harry grinned. “It would be cool to be in the same team.”
Ron seemed to relax a little, obviously happy that Harry had reacted enthusiastically about the idea. The two friends flied for over an hour. Ron was playing Keeper as Harry played as Chaser and tried to get past him. Harry was happy to notice Ron was more than a fair Keeper. At first sight he may not have possessed the confidence and skill of Oliver Wood, but with a bit of training he could give the old Gryffindor captain a run for his money.
When the try-outs came Friday afternoon though, Ron got more nervous and nervous. Harry was glad he was the only one of the fifth years that decided to try out for the team. Seamus and Dean were both quite interested in Quidditch, but said they were more drawn to playing Beater. Seeing as Fred and George were still on the team, they would have to wait for another year before they could try out. Hermione, Neville, Lavender and Parvati always came to support Gryffindor in the games, but personally they preferred to stay as far away from a broomstick as possibly. That way all Ron’s classmates were in the stands rooting for him as he mounted his Cleansweep 11.
Harry didn’t know what Ron had been worrying about. After an excellent try-out it was apparent to the whole team that he was the best candidate to be their new Keeper. Angelina grinned at him as she patted him on the back. “Congratulations Ron, welcome to the team.”
When they had changed back into their school robes in the changing-rooms, Katie Bell, another Gryffindor Chaser, walked up to Harry. “I almost forgot, Harry, Dumbledore asked me to tell you to go to his office after the training. He said I had to tell you he liked Licorice Wands, whatever that may mean.”
“Oh” Harry said, slightly surprised. “Alright. Thanks, Katie.” She smiled at him and left the changing-room together with Angelina and Alicia Spinnet, their brooms over their shoulders.
Harry walked up to the castle with Ron and the twins a few minutes later. When they were on the seventh floor, they parted ways as Harry made his way to the gargoyle that guarded Dumbledore’s office. “Licorice Wand.” The gargoyle stood aside and revealed the stone escalator that led to the office and Harry knocked on the door.
“Come in, Harry.”
“Good evening, Professor.” he said politely.
“Good evening, Harry. Thank you for coming on such short notice. Please sit down.”
He gestured to the chair in front of his desk and Harry nervously sat down.
“I wanted to talk to you about a few things, Harry.” Dumbledore said. “First of all, I am sure you remember me informing you about the private lessons I intended to give you?”
“Well, I think it would be wise for us to meet at least one evening every two weeks. Let us say, every other Monday starting from next? Does that suit you?”
“It does, Sir.”
“I also think it would not be a bad idea for you to learn Occlumency and Legilimency. Lord Voldemort is highly skilled at both and he would not hesitate to use it against you.”
“Occlumency and Legilimency, sir?”
“Oh of course, I should explain.” Dumbledore said politely. “Legilimency is a very obscure branch of magic. It allows the caster to navigate through the many layers of his opponent’s mind and therefore he would be able to correctly interpret his findings.”
Harry repeated the words in his mind. It took a moment until the meaning of what Dumbledore had just said dawned on him. “Voldemort can read minds?” he asked.
“It is of course a lot more complicated than that, but I guess that is the general idea, yes.”
Harry looked at his headmaster alarmed.
“It is therefore that I think it would be wise for you to learn Occlumency too, Harry. You see, Occlumency allows a witch or wizard to protect his mind against external penetration. If you would completely master Occlumency, you would be able to block anyone who would try to invade your mind. Unfortunately, despite the fact that I am quite skilled at both Legilimency and Occlumency, I am not skilled enough to teach you enough.”
“Then who would teach me, Sir?”
“Professor Snape, Harry.” Dumbledore corrected him. “And yes, him. He is the most accomplished Legilimens and Occlumens I know and he will be able to teach you rather quickly. For me on the other hand, it would take years to fully teach you everything.”
Harry looked at him horrified. Extra lessons from Snape? Where on earth had he deserved that? “But Professor,” Harry tried to reason with Dumbledore, “Snape hates me. He can barely stand me when I’m in a class full of people. How would he act towards me if we had private lessons?”
“I am sure Professor Snape can put aside a school boy grudge long enough to teach you, Harry. He knows it is extremely important that you learn Occlumency and he will do the best he can to make sure you do.”
Harry was still not convinced, but he nodded anyway.
Dumbledore looked relieved Harry had agreed and said: “Good, I will arrange with Professor Snape that the lessons will be planned on the Monday evenings you do not have lessons with me if that is good for you. That way you will have the rest of your evenings free for Quidditch practice.” He smiled at him.
Harry nodded his agreement.
“There is one more thing I wanted to discuss with you, Harry." Dumbledore said. “I am sure you are aware of Miss Granger’s visit with me earlier this week.”
“About the Defence group?”
“Indeed.” Dumbledore smiled. “I think it was a wonderful idea, but I must admit that I had already planned to talk to you about a similar organisation.”
Harry looked at him with astonishment. “What do you mean, Sir?”
Dumbledore looked a bit at unease as he continued: “Well Harry, now that Voldemort has returned I have to make precautions. I am sure the protective enchantments around Hogwarts are still working and will keep working for the time being, but as headmaster I must anticipate the fact that intruders might get within these walls. Voldemort might find a way around the enchantments or he might even have a man inside. The thing is that I need to have a group of people that I can trust completely. There are of course the teachers, but the past has showed us that even they are not always trustworthy. Therefore I thought of establishing a select elite group of students.”
“I’m not sure what you mean, Professor.” Harry said politely.
“It would not be as much a study group, Harry, but a real Defence group. A group of students that I can count on will keep the other students as safe as possible would Hogwarts ever be under attack. Students that I can trust above all others.”
“And you want me to be a part of that group?” Harry asked.
“No Harry.” Dumbledore said slowly. “I want you to lead that group.”
Harry looked at him shocked. “But.. But Professor.” he stuttered. “You can’t be serious, can you? I’m not a leader!”
“If you say you are not a leader who likes to use his authority and likes to boss people around, you are absolutely right, Harry.” Dumbledore said. “But you are a natural leader. People will follow you. Not because you are famous,” he quickly added as Harry wanted to interrupt, “but because you inspire people to. You have no idea what kind of influence you have on people. Your bravery inspires them.” Harry blushed as his headmaster complimented him. “You do not need to answer me tonight, Harry. The only thing I ask of you is to think about it.”
Harry nodded and asked: “This group. What exactly would we have to do. I mean, if Death Eaters manage to get into the school, will we have to fight?”
Dumbledore shook his head. “No, your first priority will be to get the students to their dormitories safely and to keep them there. That’s why it would be good to have members of every house, except for Slytherin.”
“I thought unity between houses was so important?” Harry asked, his eyebrows raised.
“Yes.” Dumbledore nodded. “And I am very sure not every Slytherin is a pureblood fanatic and not every Gryffindor is pure of heart.” Harry thought of Peter Pettigrew. “But the fact is that there are children of known Death Eaters in Slytherin house and it would not be good for them to hear about this.”
“Has Lucius Malfoy re-joined the Death Eaters, Sir?” Harry asked.
Dumbledore nodded. “Our source has informed us that Lucius Malfoy has indeed returned to Voldemort’s inner circle. Unfortunately, he is still considered to be a highly respected member of the wizarding community. If Fudge would still be Minister he would not believe any accusations against Malfoy whatsoever. We cannot be sure Minister Scrimgeour would not react in the same way.”
Harry nodded and thought back to the group Dumbledore wanted him to lead. “So you would like to have members of Gryffindor, Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw.” Harry repeated. “Who?”
“That would be entirely up to you, Harry.” Dumbledore said. “I know you would only choose those who you trust. I entirely trust your judgement.”
Harry looked at him in disbelief. “But? Won’t you be involved at all?”
“No, unfortunately I will not have time to be involved myself. That is the reason I trust you to form and train the group during the year. I am sure you would do so very well.”
Harry nodded and said: “Alright, I will think about it.”
Dumbledore smiled widely. “That is all I am asking from you, Harry. Think about it, discuss it with your closest friends, but make sure that it does not go too far. I have only conferred with Professor Tonks so far and she fully supported the idea, but I am not certain that the rest of the teachers will react the same way.”
“The teachers won’t know about it?” Harry asked disbelievingly.
“I would have to inform the heads of houses, but I think there is no need for the news to spread wider than that.”
Harry nodded as he stood up from his chair. “I’ll make sure it doesn’t leak out, Professor.”
“Very well, Harry. I will see you on Monday. Good night.”
“Good night, Professor.”
Harry found his friends in the common room. He kissed Ginny lightly on the lips as he sat down beside her.
“So what did Dumbledore want?” Fred asked.
Harry told his friends everything he had discussed with his headmaster. Starting from the extra lessons he would have with Dumbledore and Snape (Ron groaned sympathetically) right through their conversation about Dumbledore’s defence group. When he finished he looked over at Hermione who was watching him expectantly. “Did you know about this?”
Hermione shook her head. “He didn’t tell me, but I had guessed as much from what he said when I asked him about the study group.” She paused. “I think it would be a great idea Harry. It probably won’t be necessary, but it can’t hurt being prepared, can it? And we would be able to train together…”
Harry didn’t look convinced.
“Oh come on, mate. If anyone could do it, it’s you.” Ron said.
Harry looked at his friends. “Would you all join?”
“I’d be in”, Neville said immediately.
“Us too”, George said resolutely, indicating Fred and himself.
“Hell yeah”, Seamus grinned. The rest of them nodded fervently.
“I’ll think about it.” Harry said.
The Gryffindors spent the better part of their weekend doing homework. The only variety came on Saturday afternoon with the first real Quidditch practice of the season. By Sunday night however, Harry had done a lot of thinking and had made his decision. If Dumbledore wanted him to do this than he couldn’t let his headmaster down. He told his friends on Sunday night when they had finally abandoned their homework to relax a little before the new school week would start. They were all enthusiastic when they heard the news.
“Slow down, slow down!” Harry called out over the jubilant cries of his friends. “We still have to decide a lot. First of all, who do we ask to join?”
“Well, Luna obviously.” Ginny said. “She’s kind of our only friend that isn’t in Gryffindor and she would want to be a part of this. Plus, Dumbledore told you he wanted members of all the houses, didn’t he?”
Harry nodded. “So definitely Luna. Other suggestions?”
“Lee.” George said. “And we should ask Angelina, Alicia and Katie. They would kill us if we left them out of this.”
“True.” Harry said, scribbling names on a piece of parchment. “Then there is already fifteen of us in total. What about Cho?”
Ginny raised her eyebrows at him. “Trying to make me jealous, Potter?”
“No, but she would probably want to join too. Her boyfriend is in the Order of the Phoenix and Cedric told me she wants to join too after she graduated.”
“I was kidding, you prat.”
“We have no one from Hufflepuff and only two from Ravenclaw.” Lavender pointed out.
“I can’t think of anyone for Hufflepuff really.” Harry said, ruffling his hair. “I mean we know a few of them, like Justin, but if we can trust them to join this…?”
“Maybe we could ask the Prefects from our year?” Hermione asked. “Even if they don’t want to join, they wouldn’t blab about if we say Dumbledore wants to keep it quiet. They wouldn’t want to risk their badges.”
“No way.” Ginny said. Everyone stared at her. “Smith is a Hufflepuff Prefect, I don’t want him with us.”
“It’s the only one we can ask from Hufflepuff though.” Harry pointed out.
“Oh alright." Ginny grumbled.
Harry smiled and added four more names to his list. “So that’s Zacharias Smith and Hannah Abbott for Huffelpuff and Padma Patil and Terry Boot for Ravenclaw.”
“I’ll talk to Padma.” Parvati said as she gave him a wide smile. “I’m sure she’ll want to join.”
“We don’t have a name.” Fred pointed out.
“A name?” Hermione asked sceptically.
“Well yeah, if we form a group, we’ll have to have a name!”
“Dumbledore’s Army.” Harry muttered.
“Come again?” Ron said.
“Dumbledore’s Army.” Harry repeated.
Seamus nodded. “It is what we will be essentially. I’m in favour.”
Everyone nodded and Harry grinned as he watched his friends. “Dumbledore’s Army, it is.”
“Leadership is not about titles, positions or flowcharts. It is about one life influencing another” – John C. Maxwell
Chapter 17: An Army Is Formed
The next day Harry’s friends took it upon them to alert the students they had decided to ask to join Dumbledore’s Army. That evening after dinner, they gathered in the common room to go over the state of affairs. Luna had already told them she would be joining when they saw her at breakfast that morning.
“Padma and Terry are both in.” Parvati said. “Terry wants to bring two of his friends. Cho has also agreed and wanted to bring one of her friends too. I agreed on the terms we decided this morning.”
Harry nodded. That morning they had agreed that if anyone would want to bring friends, they should be able to. However, because of the importance of secrecy they had told everyone they would have to sign a magical contract that would swear them to secrecy about anything that was discussed and done during meetings. “Very good. Thanks Parvati.” She smiled at him sweetly and Ginny raised her eyebrows. “What about the Hufflepuffs?” Harry asked. He looked over at Seamus and Dean.
Seamus answered: “Smith and Hannah both wanted to join. I think you’re right about Smith though.” He looked at Ginny. “Seems like a real git to me, but he wanted to come. Hannah wanted to bring Susan Bones and apparently Ernie and Justin want to come too.”
“That’s good. So we’ll have students of every house except Slytherin then.” Harry said. “But I guess the grand majority will still be Gryffindors?” He looked over at the twins who nodded.
“Yeah.” Fred said. “Lee was all for it and our three Chasers want to be part of it too.”
“There’s one more thing, Harry.” Parvati said. “Colin Creevey overheard me talking to Cho and he and his brother want to join too. I said I didn’t know if you would be okay with it, but that I would ask you.”
Harry looked troubled. “They’re young.” he said.
“Colin is in the same year as Ginny and Luna.” Hermione pointed out. “They are both members.”
“Yeah, but Dennis is only a second year.”
“What about this Harry.” Ginny said. “You let them join so they can train with us, but in the unlikely event something really happens, Dennis has to bring himself to safety.”
“Alright, they’re in.” Harry said reluctantly. “Friday night eight o’clock will be our first meeting.” He explained to everyone how they could find the Room of Requirement and how they could get in and the others promised him to pass on the message. After that Harry had to leave, because he would be late for his first lesson with Dumbledore.
When he arrived in the office of his headmaster, Dumbledore was sitting behind his desk with his Pensieve in front of him.
"We're gonna use your Pensieve?" Harry asked surprised after greeting his headmaster.
“Indeed.” Dumbledore said. "We will not need the Pensieve today, but in future lessons I am certain it will come in handy.”
Harry looked at the Pensieve a bit anxiously as Dumbledore put it away in a cabinet. “So Harry.” his headmaster said. “We have arrived at your first private lesson of this year. I sense you are a bit anxious about what will come.”
Harry smiled slightly. “Maybe a bit, sir.”
“Well Harry, in these lessons we will try to learn as much as we can about Voldemort’s past.”
“Because only by analysing his past, we can find a way to destroy him. However, we will have to postpone those plans seeing as I have not been able to see the full picture myself and it would be counter-productive to tell you everything before I am absolutely sure what we are dealing with.”
There followed a short silence after that cryptic remark.
“For now, we will concentrate on improving your magic. Although I am very sure you have a very competent Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher this year, I am afraid that the stuff you will see in class will not suffice to face Lord Voldemort. I should make it clear to you though that some spells that I will teach you should not be used too frequently out in the open. It would not do good for too many people to know that you can do such magic as there are extremely powerful spells and curses among them.”
Harry looked at Dumbledore eagerly. He couldn’t wait to learn the stuff his headmaster had described to him just now.
“We won’t start with such spells today however”, Dumbledore continued and Harry felt slightly disappointed. “Today I will show you how you can incapacitate your opponents with more basic magic like stunning spells and reductor curses.”
Harry looked at him puzzled. “I know how to do those spells, Professor. I learned them when I was training for the Triwizard Tournament.”
“I am very aware of that, Harry”, Dumbledore smiled. “Please do not think I underestimate your abilities! But what you can do is simply stun your opponent and although that is very useful, they could easily be awakened by a friendly wand or wake up on their own accord.”
He walked up to another cabinet and pulled out a target to practice on. “If you use a stunning spell and you hit your target in the stomach or any other body part, they will wake up fairly quickly or can be immediately woken up by a friendly wand. When you hit your target with your stunning spell in the right place of his chest, around his heart for example or in the head, he will be out for a very long time and it would take a lot of effort from someone to wake him up. Do you understand?”
Harry nodded. He spent the following thirty minutes firing stunning spells at his target, until Dumbledore was happy with his aim.
“Now for Reductor curses.” Dumbledore said. “They are far more dangerous. You do not need an Unforgivable Curse to kill a person. I do not want to encourage you to kill, Harry, but there might come a time when you do not see another way out of a tight spot. I must encourage you Harry to never use lethal force deliberately unless there is absolutely no other way out.”
Harry nodded. “Of course.”
“Alright. A powerful Reductor Curse can take out an opponent just as much as a Killing Curse. No matter if it hits the head, the chest or the stomach, if a Reductor Curse is powerful enough to reach deeply, it can damage vital organs, which can lead to incapacitation or worse.”
Harry spent the remainder of the lesson on practicing the Reductor Curse. When he returned to his four-poster in Gryffindor Tower, he was extremely tired but satisfied.
Friday night eight o’clock, Harry was in the Room of Requirement facing a large group of students. He was getting a bit self-conscious when he saw all those faces looking up at him. “Well er, you all know why we’re here.” He explained them about the request Dumbledore made him and about their decision to form Dumbledore’s Army to protect the Hogwarts students from harm.
“I just don’t understand why Dumbledore needs students to protect his school.” Zacharias Smith said.
“I think you can fill the library with thinks you don’t understand, Smith.” said Seamus heatedly.
“No, it is a fair question.” Harry said. “Dumbledore wants a group of people who he can trust completely. I don’t have to tell you that the teachers aren’t always to be completely trusted, seeing as you all know which teachers have been here the previous years.”
“But how does he know he can trust every one of us?” Zacharias asked.
“He doesn’t.” Harry simply said. “But he trusts me.” There followed a long silence. “I trust everyone in this room. You are either friends or friends of friends. However we can’t afford to take chances. Therefore we asked all of you if you were prepared to sign a magical contract. Every one of you has agreed to do so and now is the time. Hermione, the list?” He looked over at Hermione, who was holding the list on which Harry had written the names of all the members. She gave it to Neville to pass it along. “Just sign beneath your name.” Harry continued. “Now, I am seeing some new faces and I’m sure I can’t be the only one so maybe it wouldn’t be a bad idea if everyone introduced themselves.”
After a short round of introduction, Harry asked everyone to pair up and practice Disarming. After about thirty minutes he switched over to the Impediment Jinx. Then he saw it was already forty minutes after curfew and he ended the meeting for that day.
Harry and Ginny stayed behind in the Room of Requirement for a while. Harry walked over at the wall where the parchment with all the names of the members was hung. He saw Hermione had written ‘Dumbledore’s Army’ in curly letters above the names. He didn’t expect himself to do anything like this before Dumbledore asked him, but as he watched the list with the 28 names of the members, he felt proud about starting the group for the first time.
Ginny came standing beside him and pulled something out of her pocket. She pinned it to the wall next to the list. Harry saw that it was a picture of the original Order of the Phoenix. Harry recognized his parents, Sirius and Lupin among many others. “Where did you get that?” he asked softly.
“Sirius showed it to me during the summer.” she answered. “I asked him if I could keep it. I wanted to show you, but I was a bit scared how you would react.”
Harry smiled. “It’s amazing.” Suddenly he realized that a great lot of these people had died since that picture was taken. Suddenly the realization that Voldemort was back and people would be disappearing and dying again hit him hard. He squeezed Ginny’s hand as he kept looking at the picture. “I won’t let anything happen to you.” he whispered.
Ginny didn’t have to ask what he meant. “I know.” she whispered back as she pulled him close. When they let go of each other, Ginny was happy to see a smile on Harry’s face. “We should make a picture with Dumbledore’s Army too.” she said smiling.
“The next generation!” Harry laughed. He looked at his watch and sighed. “We’d better go, if Filch catches us we’re toast.”
“We should have brought the Invisibility Cloak.” Ginny grumbled.
Harry smiled, took her hand again and led her out of the Room of Requirement.
When they were almost at the corridor of the Fat Lady, Ginny suddenly stopped Harry. “Ginny, what?”
“Sst!” she said. “Listen.”
They heard a soft crying coming from an empty classroom on their right. They saw the door had been left ajar. Ginny looked at the door indecisively, but Harry walked over to the classroom and softly pulled the door open. He was shocked when he looked into the big grey eyes of Jacinta Malfoy. She sat on a desk, like she was just following a class. Only it was more than 10 o’clock in the evening and her face showed traces of a serious beating. Her left eye was closed up and it was bruising quickly, while her nose was bleeding profusely. It seemed to Harry it had been broken.
“Jacinta!”, Harry moved over to her quickly and kneeled in front of her. “Who did this to you?” She shook her head.
He heard Ginny, who had followed when Harry had hurried inside gasp as she saw Jacinta’s face. “Harry, we have to get her to the hospital wing!”
Jacinta fiercely shook her head which seemed to hurt her, seeing as her eyes narrowed in pain. Harry sighed. “Jacinta, you’ll have to come with us. We can get you fixed up. You do understand we can’t leave you here like this, don’t you?”
After a lot of coaxing from Harry, Jacinta finally agreed to go with them to Madam Pomfrey. The whole way down to the hospital wing Harry and Ginny tried to question Jacinta about what happened to her, but she didn’t say a word. It was apparent that she had received quite a beating. This weren’t just the injuries of an enthusiastic first-year who had been to careless. They had to bang on the door of the hospital wing for several minutes before an agitated Madam Pomfrey opened the door.
“What is – Oh Mr Potter! I thought two weeks was a bit long before having you over. What is it now?”
“I have nothing, Madam Pomfrey, it’s Jacinta.” he gestured at the little girl who was holding onto his hand and Madam Pomfrey seemed to notice her for the first time.
“Oh Merlin, what has happened to you, dear? Come in, quickly.”
Harry was happy Madam Pomfrey ushered the three of them into the hospital wing quickly. He had been afraid Madam Pomfrey would be annoyed with them for turning up on her doorstep that late, but she didn’t even comment on the fact they should have been in their houses a long time ago. Harry reckoned her motherly instincts had played up the moment she saw the little girl.
After she had fixed Jacinta’s injuries, she pushed her down onto the bed and told her to rest. Then she gestured for Harry and Ginny to follow her to her office. Once there she closed the door and immediately asked what happened.
“We have no idea, Madam Pomfrey.” Harry said.
Ginny told the matron how they had found Jacinta in an empty classroom, apparently afraid to return to Gryffindor Tower.
“Look I get a lot of first years here.” Madam Pomfrey said. “They are still a bit more playful than older students and they tend to get quite a lot of injuries. Of course one more than the other.” she added glancing at Harry. “But these are not injuries from a simple fall or running into something. This isn’t something she received playing around.”
“She was beaten.” Harry said.
“It seems so.” Madam Pomfrey said.
“Malfoy.” Harry said through clenched teeth.
“Harry,” Ginny said, “we don’t have any proof it was him. Jacinta hasn’t said one word since we saw her.”
“Of course, she wouldn’t want to say anything if it was her own family, would she? You know how that family is. Do you think they are very happy with her after she was put into Gryffindor?” Harry was absolutely livid that someone would do something like that to an eleven year old girl.
“Mr Potter,” Madam Pomfrey soothed, “I understand your anger, I really do. I am appalled myself, but we must not jump to conclusions. I will report to the headmaster first thing in the morning and we will see what we can do about this. For the moment there is nothing you can do for her, she is in good hands.”
Harry and Ginny nodded and left the office together with Madam Pomfrey who wanted to check up on Jacinta. When the three of them reached her bed, they saw she had already fallen asleep. Harry carefully tucked her in before he left with Ginny. Madam Pomfrey looked one last time at the girl before she put out the lights and returned to the back.
When the door to Madam Pomfrey’s office closed, Jacinta Malfoy opened her eyes again. She looked at the door of the hospital wing through which the boy she had been brought up to hate just left. All her life her parents had said anyone whose blood wasn’t pure was not a worthy member of the wizarding society. All of her life, her brother had said that Harry Potter was a worthless egocentric kid who didn’t care for anyone but himself. Two weeks at Hogwarts had already proven both statements wrong. Harry Potter was probably the only one in this school who knew what it was like to be in her shoes. He must know what it’s like being brought up in the wrong family too, she thought, as she cried herself to sleep.
“Children must be taught how to think, not what to think” – Margaret Mead
A/N: There are ten more chapters after this one before the story is finished. Thank you for reading this and especially those who have left a review. I love to hear what you think about it and I really appreciate every comment.
Chapter 18: Secrets From The Past
Harry went to the hospital wing the first thing after breakfast on Saturday. He wanted to check on Jacinta. He didn’t know what it was, but something about that girl seemed to draw his attention, as if she needed his help. Madam Pomfrey was just cleaning up the remains of Jacinta’s breakfast when Harry walked in. “Good morning, Mr Potter. I had a feeling I would see you this morning.” she said approvingly. Apparently, she had hoped Harry would stop by to see Jacinta, as the first year girl didn’t seem to have many friends.
Harry smiled weakly and sat down next to Jacinta’s bed. “How are you?” he asked.
“I’m fine.” She smiled at him. “Madam Pomfrey healed me in a heartbeat, I was just very tired.”
Harry gave her a piercing look. “I expect you don’t want to talk about it?” She shook her head. “Jacinta, I understand that you don’t want to talk about it, I really do, but this was not innocent. Next time you could get really hurt…”
“There won’t be a next time.” Jacinta said. “He... There won’t be a next time.” she resolved a bit ineptly.
Harry nodded sadly and took her hand. “I know you really don’t know me that well, but you can always tell me everything, alright?” he said. “Even when you think it is stupid or not worth mentioning, I still want to hear it, got it?”
Jacinta seemed to cheer up as he said that. “You mean like a friend?" she asked, almost disbelievingly.
Harry was struck by the fact that she was so happy someone would want to be her friend. He was oddly reminded of himself when he was a first-year. He had been an outcast himself and had been just as surprised when Ron and Hermione wanted to be friends with him after ten years of being bullied and being ruled out by Dudley and his friends. Had this girl gone through the same miserable childhood he had?
“Yes.” he said. “Exactly like a friend.” He squeezed her hand and said goodbye as he returned to Gryffindor Tower to look for Ginny. Madam Pomfrey had tears in her eyes when she saw her most frequent patient leave her hospital wing.
In the afternoon, Harry stopped by Dumbledore’s office. He wanted to hear what he thought about the incident with Jacinta and if he shared his suspicions about Malfoy.
“Harry, how are you this afternoon?”
“Fine, sir.” Harry said shortly.
“Sit down.” Dumbledore said gesturing to the chair in front of his desk. “I am quite certain you are here concerning the regrettable incident of yesterday evening.”
“Yes I am.”
“Madam Pomfrey has told me everything this morning.” Dumbledore said before Harry could elaborate. “She also told me about your concerns about Mr Malfoy.”
Harry merely nodded.
“I must admit that the first name that popped into my head was also the one of Draco Malfoy.” Dumbledore said. “But we cannot proof anything, Harry. It would not be right to judge people by looking at their family. Jacinta Malfoy is the best example of that. Her parents are not very nice people to say at the least,” Harry snorted, “but personally I think Miss Malfoy is an engaging child.”
“I understand that, Professor, but she’s an eleven year old girl.” Harry said. “She shouldn’t go through this. And what if it happens again?”
Dumbledore nodded sadly. “I know, Harry. And if I had one tiny bit of proof that Jacinta has ever been assaulted by any member of her family, I would have her pulled away from there immediately. Unfortunately there is not, so there is nothing I can do at the moment.”
Harry nodded unwillingly and said goodbye to his headmaster.
The following Monday evening, Harry had his much dreaded first Occlumency lesson with Snape. Although Dumbledore had said he was sure Snape could push aside his schoolboy grudge for his father, Harry was pretty sure Snape wouldn’t act anything else than usual. And he was not disappointed.
“Stand up, Potter.”
Snape had attacked Harry’s mind three times and it had every time ended with Harry falling to his knees in agony.
Snape looked at him hatefully as Harry pulled himself of the floor. “You are not even trying to block your mind, I can see right through it!”
Hagrid was showing Harry the dragons before the First Task in the Triwizard Tournament. Harry and Ron were drinking Polyjuice Potion in Moaning Myrtle’s bathroom. Cedric and Harry lifted the Triwizard Cup in front of a crowd of students and Professors. Harry, Ron and Hermione attacked Snape in the Shrieking Shack, blowing him backwards and beating him unconscious.
Suddenly the chain of memories stopped and Harry thought he had finally made some progress, but Snape was looking at him with a look of pure loathing and he realized he had broken the connection himself. One look at his Potions Master told Harry he was not to speak about what they had just seen. Snape curled his lip. “Legilimens!” Snape attacked him with more force than ever.
Harry was hugging Sirius in a cave in Hogsmeade. His parents were looking at him from inside the Mirror of Erised. Hermione ran towards Harry and hugged him after she had been petrified and awoken by the Mandrake Draught. Ron and Harry at eleven years old were playing Wizard’s Chess by the fire in the Common Room, wearing Weasley Christmas jumpers. Ginny and Harry were kissing on the couch in the living room of Grimmauld Place.
“You make me sick.” Snape snarled.
Something inside Harry exploded when he realized Snape had seen all those personal memories and addressed them in such way.
“You are pathetic!” he grumbled at his Potions Master.
“What did you say?" Snape snapped.
“You’re pathetic, that’s what I said.” Harry ranted on. “You think it is necessary to keep pestering me, because you couldn’t stand my father when you were in school together all those years ago. A man who has been dead for almost fourteen years! It’s ridiculous!” Harry turned around and was ready to storm out of the dungeon when…
Harry turned around, expecting to see someone else standing behind the desk. The voice had sounded soft and defeated. A voice that didn’t usually come out of Severus Snape’s mouth.
"We were friends." the Potions master said.
“We were friends.” Snape repeated. “Your father and I. We were friends until our sixth year at Hogwarts.”
Every instinct in Harry’s body screamed that Snape was lying, but he had never seen his Potions Master this vulnerable. Not even he would be able to act that well, would he? “But what about Sirius? And Lupin?”
Snape sighed. “We were friends too.”
Harry couldn’t believe what he was hearing. “What happened?”
Snape shrugged. “They were all Gryffindors, I was a Slytherin. We were in the middle of the first wizarding war, so you can imagine how friendships between those two houses were received by the general public.”
“But you stayed friends until you were in your sixth year?”, Harry said. “Why would you be friends until then if it was just about differences between houses?”
Snape sighed deeply. He hadn’t looked Harry in the eye since Harry had shouted at him. “We fell in love with the same girl. Sirius and Remus took James’ side of course. I didn’t give them much reason to decide otherwise.”
“When you say you fell in love with the same girl...” Harry said slowly. “You don’t mean –?”
Snape looked at him at last. “Yes. Your mother.” He paused and said: “She was extremely kind, even to a Slytherin like me.” He frowned. “Bright, talented, beautiful. Those green eyes...” He finally looked Harry in the eyes. “Every time I look at you, I am reminded of the mistakes I made in my past. When I see you, I see James. In your appearance, your talent on the Quidditch pitch, even your duelling skills. And I see Lily, her eyes, her personality, her laugh. It always made me so angry. Knowing that it was all my fault. If I hadn’t chosen the wrong side back then…”
“Why have you never told me?” Harry asked. “This could have done so much if you had told me before now.”
“Because I was ashamed of course. And afraid. I knew that I could never face you after what I had done.”
“Of course you could.” Harry said, although he had no idea what Snape was talking about.
Snape shook his head. “You don’t know what I have done – “
“And I don’t want to know.” Harry interrupted him. “I don’t care who you used to work for. I don’t care if you have the Dark Mark on your arm.” Snape looked at him startled. “You’re on our side now. Dumbledore trusts you. And if Dumbledore trusts you, I trust you.” Harry couldn’t believe he was saying this words to Severus Snape, but he knew he was doing right by saying it.
Snape looked at him with an extremely strange expression on his face Harry couldn’t place. Suddenly he realized it was gratitude. It took so long for him to notice because he never expected to see Snape look grateful at anyone, let alone Harry. He nodded at Harry and mumbled: “I’m sorry.”
Harry nodded. He knew his Potions Master wouldn’t say more than that to him and he didn’t need to hear anymore too. He took his bag and left the room without another word, he needed time to think this over.
As Severus Snape watched Harry leave his office, he felt like a huge weight had been lifted from his chest. A weight that had been there for nearly fourteen years. A weight that had doubled the moment Harry Potter had set foot in Hogwarts. Maybe he would be able to live again.
When Harry entered the Gryffindor common room, his head was still spinning from everything he had heard in the dungeons. He noticed his friends occupying a wide range of chairs at the fire. He vaguely noticed their usual group was accompanied by Lee Jordan and Angelina, Alicia and Katie. Still speechless he plumped down onto a couch next to Ginny, who rubbed his thigh.
“Are you okay, sweetie?”
“Did Snape give you such a rough time?” Ron asked, looking at Harry worriedly.
Harry shook his head. Stammering he recounted everything Snape had told him after Harry lashed out at him. A deafening silence followed his story.
“Is this some kind of sick joke?”
“Ronald!” Hermione scolded. “Can’t you see he is being serious, honestly.”
Harry talked with his friends about Snape for quite some time, but the ones he really wanted to talk about were Sirius and Remus Lupin. They never told him anything about Snape being friends with them during their years at Hogwarts and he had to admit he felt a bit betrayed about that. He thought about writing, but they had ordered them to be careful with what he wrote in his letters. His owl could be intercepted. Harry knew Snape was still working as a spy for the Order and if Hedwig was intercepted, Snape risked to blow his cover. The only thing he could do was wait for the Christmas Holidays to come and hope Snape would be acting more civilly towards him now he had told Harry the secrets from his past.
Chapter 19: Gryffindor versus Slytherin
On Wednesday Harry went down to the Great Hall rather nervously. Potions would be their first class that day and it would be the first time he would see Snape again after their memorable first Occlumency lesson. They didn’t see Snape at breakfast, but he hadn’t turned up for meals in the Great Hall the day before too. Grudgingly, Harry followed Ron and Hermione to the dungeons.
It was one of the quietest Potions lessons Harry had ever had. Snape didn’t actually act friendlier towards Harry, he just ignored him. Harry found out to his joy that he didn’t have much problems with his potion, now that he was left alone. The only sign Snape had changed his attitude towards him showed at the end of the lesson. When Harry was carrying his potion sample to Snape’s desk for marking, Malfoy made him trip so his potion fell on the ground. Instead of smirking at Harry as usual, Snape took five points from Slytherin. The whole class was staring at him with open mouths. This was probably the first time in years Snape had taken points from his own house.
In his next Occlumency lesson Snape didn’t act very different from that. Maybe he acted a bit more friendly towards him than in class, but he was still rather reserved. He did however seem to put a bigger effort in teaching Harry Occlumency. Instead of continuously attacking him, Snape told him to visualize building a wall with his mind behind his eyes. At the end of the second lesson, Harry was able to hold Snape up for a while, but he still was not able to push him out.
The weeks at Hogwarts passed quickly as Harry was so busy with classes, homework, Quidditch training and the meetings of Dumbledore’s Army, not to mention the extra lessons with Dumbledore and Snape which grew increasingly harder.
On Halloween, the third year students and above were allowed their first Hogsmeade visit of the year. Harry was relieved when he saw the announcement on the notice board in the Gryffindor common room. He was afraid they might have decided to cancel the trips due to Voldemort’s return. He immediately asked Ginny to go with him and she happily accepted. Although they hung out together all the time, they were always surrounded by their friends. They were happy to be, but it would feel good to be alone with the two of them for a few hours. They did have a great time, but they still constantly met DA members on the way who wanted to come and say hello to them.
The Friday night before their first Quidditch match of the season, Harry stayed behind in the Room of Requirement after the DA meeting to clean up the mess they had made during practice. He had thought he was alone in the Room, but when he turned around he saw Angelina Johnson watching the picture of the Order of the Phoenix that was still pinned on the wall. Harry walked over to her and stood beside her in silence. After a few moments he looked at Angelina and he saw she had tears in her eyes. “Are you - ” Harry said nervously. “Are you okay?”
Angelina smiled at him and nodded. "Yeah, sure."
“I never told you about my parents, didn’t I?” she said after a long silence. Harry shook his head. “They were in the Order of the Phoenix too.” She pointed at a black woman and a white man, waving happily into the camera.
“What happened?” Harry asked softly.
“They were killed.” Angelina said. “They were Aurors, you know. When You-Know-Who disappeared the first time, when he, well you know.” She nodded a bit uncomfortably at Harry and he gave her a weak smile. “When You-Know-Who vanished, most of the Death Eaters knew their time was over. A lot of them were arrested, some of them were killed. But the most of them fled or went scot-free because they claimed to be under the Imperius Curse. However there was one group of four Death Eaters that didn’t want to put up with the fact it was over. They were convinced that You-Know-Who was still alive somewhere and that the Ministry of Magic knew where he was.” She paused. “So they went after the Aurors.” Her voice sounded suddenly bitter.
“Those bastards tortured my parents for information they couldn’t give them. When they finally realized they wouldn’t be of any use to them, they killed them. Just like that. Like two cockroaches.”
Tears were now streaming freely down Angelina’s cheeks. Harry put an arm around her and she rested her head on his shoulder. He found himself rather uncomfortable. Had this been Ginny or Hermione he would be more at ease, But Angelina was two years older than him and Harry had always thought of her as extremely tough. Her reputation on the Quidditch field played a big role in that image.
"Did they catch them?" Harry asked.
"They did." Angelina said "But not in time. A few weeks later they made two new victims, Frank and Alice Longbottom.”
“Longbottom?” Harry asked. “Do you mean...”
Angelina looked at him. “He never told you?" Harry shook his head. “Then I shouldn’t tell you either. He should be able to do so himself when he wants to.”
“Were they killed too?” Harry asked. He couldn’t help himself.
Angelina shook her head and smiled. “Never mind, Harry. It’s not my place to tell.”
Harry nodded, understanding. He looked at his watch. “Let’s go.” he said silently. “We have a game to win tomorrow.”
Angelina smiled. “That we have.”
They walked to the door of the Room of Requirement together. Just before they reached the door, Angelina turned around and said: “Thanks Harry.” and gave him a hug. “I normally don’t really talk about this, but sometimes it feels good to get some of it of my chest.”
Harry nodded. He hadn’t even known Angelina had been an orphan, just like him. That was probably part of the reason she decided she would be able to talk to Harry about what happened without having to endure the constant sympathy of people who didn’t remotely know what it felt like to grow up without parents.
“Hello everybody and welcome to the opening of the new Quidditch season here at Hogwarts!”, the voice of Lee Jordan shouted through his megaphone, while the Gryffindor Quidditch team stood ready to fly onto the pitch. Harry glanced at Ron, who looked a bit pale, but seemed to have his nerves under control.
“Today’s game is between Gryffindor and Slytherin! And here is the Gryffindor team, with Captain Angelina Johnson, Alicia Spinnet, Katie Bell, Ron Weasley, Fred Weasley, George Weasley aaaaaaaand Harry Potter!”
The Gryffindor team was met by deafening noise as they flew out of the catacombs and flew a lap around the pitch. Most students from Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw were also rooting for Gryffindor. As it was the first match of the season, it still made no real difference for them who won and in that case Slytherin was always the least favourite house of other students.
“And here is the Slytherin team!” Lee announced a bit less enthusiastic. “With Captain Graham Montague, Chris Warrington, Adrian Pucey, Miles Bletchley, Vincent Crabbe, Gregory Goyle aaaand Draco Malfoy. The Snitch is gone, followed by the Bludgers. The Quaffle is thrown up and they’re off!”
Angelina grabbed hold of the Quaffle first, but was immediately approached by Warrington. Angelina was too quick for him and passed it over to Katie who sped up along the right side of the pitch. Meanwhile Harry rose above all the other players, followed closely by Malfoy.
Katie scored the first goal for Gryffindor by aiming the Quaffle through the right hoop. Harry winked at Malfoy when he passed him.
It became quickly clear that Slytherin would be no match for this Gryffindor. Crabbe and Goyle, their new Beaters hadn’t successfully hit one Bludger while Fred and George performed as excellent as always. The three Chasers worked together seamless as they had been playing together for years and Ron stopped the few shots Slytherin managed to attempt. About one hour into the game it was already 150 to nothing.
Harry noticed Malfoy was still tailing him. Apparently the Slytherin had decided against looking for the Snitch and was waiting for Harry to find it for him. Harry didn’t really understand his tactics as Malfoy’s Nimbus 2001 was no match for Harry’s Firebolt when it came to speed.
The three Chasers scored another two times each, bringing the score to 210 to nothing. The Slytherins were getting more and more aggressive, but the Gryffindors were simply too fast for them to do any damage.
Harry decided to try something he had never tried before, but if he ever wanted to, this was the moment to do it as they were so far in the lead. He suddenly narrowed his eyes and made a dive towards the Gryffindor stands. Malfoy had noticed it immediately and sped after him, slowly pulling up. Had he been keeping attention that would have already given away Harry’s plan, but he was happy to see Malfoy was arrogant enough to believe he could actually keep up with Harry. Just before they would hit the ground, Harry turned up sharply, causing shrieks to emerge from the stands. Malfoy smacked into the field with a muffled thump, right in front of the Gryffindor supporters, who were cheering loudly for their Seeker. Malfoy needed a few minutes to get patched up and that was all Harry needed to finally spot the Snitch. By the time Malfoy had gotten onto his broom again, Harry was already speeding to the opposite end of the pitch and before Malfoy even knew where Harry was, he was circling the pitch with his hand raised high above his head, the Golden Snitch struggling feebly in his hand.
“He got the Snitch!” Lee Jordan yelled above the deafening noise that emerged from the stands. “Harry Potter has caught the Snitch! Gryffindor wins! 360 to nothing! In your face you dirty – “
The megaphone was - not for the first time - taken away from Lee by Professor McGonagall. She tried to look at Lee sternly, but didn’t really manage to as Gryffindor has just got the biggest win in 300 years at Hogwarts. This was a humiliation Slytherin wouldn’t be able to forget soon.
Harry landed and was immediately surrounded by his teammates. Angelina hugged him tightly and kissed the top of his head. “You were brilliant, Harry, as always.” She was beaming at him.
Katie and Alicia both kissed him too and Fred, George and Ron enveloped him in manly bear hugs. When they were walking towards the changing rooms, Ron said: “A Wronski Feint, Harry! That was absolutely brilliant. If Krum would have seen this...”
“Actually I have seen it.” a gruff voice came from beside them. They looked to the right and saw Viktor Krum, accompanied by Fleur Delacour and Bill Weasley.
The Gryffindor Team looked at them surprised. “What are you all doing here?” Fred asked.
“Professor Dumbledore invited all the Triwizard Champions to come watch the game.” Fleur answered. “And Bill tagged along.”
“Cedric couldn’t come.” Bill said. “Auror business.”
“You play very well.” Krum said. “I think you could play professionally if you wanted. That Wronski Feint was perfectly executed."
“Thanks.” Harry said, grinning. “But I don’t really know yet what I’m going to do when I’m done here.”
“Well,” Krum said, “if you decide to take a shot at it, let me now. I could always get you in contact with some people.”
“Thanks Viktor.” Harry said, a bit surprised. The year before Krum had been distant and at times even surly, but now he seemed a whole other person. Maybe the stress from the Triwizard Tournament had done more to him than they expected. After a quick goodbye he took off.
Bill and Fleur decided to leave too. “Mum and Dad will want to know how the game went. After all there are four of her sons in the team now.” He winked at Harry as he said that and laughed when he noticed the younger boy’s cheeks going red. He decided to take it one step further. “And I’ll have to let Charlie know he’s not the best Gryffindor Seeker in known history anymore.”
They all laughed out loud when they saw Harry’s embarrassment. “Yeah, that’s quite enough." Harry grinned. “Go on like that and I’ll get a fat head.”
“The day you get a fat head is the day Ron doesn’t eat for a day.” Fred laughed.
“Well, we got to be off.” Bill said. “Have fun at your party. I remember those Gryffindor parties can get out of hand now and then. So behave yourself. Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do!”
Fleur smacked him on the back of the head playfully. “Au revoir.”
When they said their goodbyes to Bill and Fleur, the team quickly changed and headed for their common room to attend their victory party. And indeed, that night was one of those evenings Gryffindor house was famous for.
Before they knew it, it was time to pack their trunks to go home for the Christmas holidays. Harry was looking forward to his first Christmas with Sirius. However he didn’t like the idea of being apart from Ginny for two weeks, but then Ron told him Sirius had invited all the Weasleys to spend the Christmas holidays at Grimmauld Place and they had gladly accepted. Hermione would spend the first week of the holidays with her parents, but after Christmas she would come to Grimmauld Place too. The biggest reason Harry was looking forward to talking to Sirius, was that he wanted to talk to him about Snape. He hadn’t really spoken much with his Potions Master anymore after his outburst in his first Occlumency lesson, despite the fact that they still had private lessons together. It was clear to everyone, however, that the open hostility between Harry and Snape had been replaced by a certain quiet understanding. Even Dumbledore, who had never seen Harry and Snape in class, noticed something had changed, but he didn’t say anything about it. He had an idea what it was about and knew Harry would have a hard time coping with the knowledge of his father and Snape being friends.
On their first night back at Grimmauld Place, Sirius cooked up an exquisite dinner. Harry had never really imagined his godfather to be a good cook, but he had to admit he even gave Mrs Weasley a run for her money.
After dinner, Harry and Ginny were seated on their favourite couch in the living room on the first floor. They had been telling Lily and James about their school year for quite some time when Sirius walked in, followed closely by Remus Lupin, who was staying with Sirius at Grimmauld Place.
They talked for a while before Harry decided to bring up the subject of Snape. He told the adults everything that had occurred in Snape’s office during his first Occlumency lesson. They were watching him, looking defeated.
“It’s really true?” Harry asked. They nodded. “Why did you never tell me?”
Sirius took a deep breath before he answered him: “We decided it wasn’t a good idea to tell you. When we met you, you were thirteen and you hated Snape, with reason seeing how he has treated you.”
“You still should have told me.”
“How would you have felt, Harry?” Remus said. “How would you have felt if you found out he used to be one of your parents best friends?”
James was shifting a bit. “You told me he has been spying for the Order since we passed?” They nodded. “I’m glad he seems to have redeemed himself. I was cut up by it when he took the Dark Mark.”
“But how?”, Harry asked. “What happened between you?”
It was Lily who answered. “I met Severus when were kids, before we even went to Hogwarts. I was muggle-born as you know, so I had no idea all those things I could do were magic. Severus lived in the same neighbourhood as we did and he had seen me perform accidental magic. He approached me and told me everything about magic and Hogwarts. I didn’t believe him of course.” She smiled. “But he was determined to convince me and eventually he did. We became friends.”
Harry and Ginny were sitting upright on the couch, hanging on to every word Lily said.
“Then we went to Hogwarts. We met up with each other on Platform Nine and Three Quarters. He was extremely excited to leave his home behind and start his own life. He wasn’t brought up in the most loving family.” she continued. “On the Hogwarts Express we met James and Sirius. I thought they were the most arrogant, insufferable prats I had ever met.”
Harry looked at his father and godfather who were grinning broadly. “We weren’t that bad!” James said. “A bit conceited maybe.”
Sirius snorted. “A bit conceited? We thought the sun was shining out of our – “
“Okay okay!” Lily said. “The thing is Severus was the only friend I had in the wizarding world, until I met Remus. I became close friends with him and so did Severus, until we found out that two of Remus’ best friends were the two bullies from the Hogwarts Express.”
Remus smiled. “Lily gave me quite a telling off then. We were still first years, but I can assure you she had no problem with telling people what she thought.”
Harry smiled as he was reminded of Hermione trying to prevent them from sneaking out at night back in their first year.
“She couldn’t believe I would be friends with them,” Remus continued, “but I managed to convince her they weren’t that bad once you knew them. After many objections she started to hang out with the four of us.”
“The fact that I became friends with the infamous Marauders meant that Severus automatically spent time with them too.” Lily said. “And miraculously, they seemed to get along. Quite well actually.”
“Now during our first years at Hogwarts Voldemort was steadily gaining power.”James jumped in. “But when we were in our fifth year, the first wizarding war erupted in all its cruelty. What first had been nasty incidents and disappearances now became open war.”
“It was common knowledge at Hogwarts that Snape was friends with us.” Sirius said. “We were never really best friends like the four of us were since our first day at Hogwarts , but it was clear for everyone that we were friends nonetheless. Snape had always had to endure provocations and torments from his fellow Slytherins, but when the war really started, it was hell for him.”
“Severus had friends in his own house too, but they had always kind of ignored the fact his other friends were in Gryffindor.” Remus spoke. “But many of the Slytherins back then were children of Death Eaters and a lot of them couldn’t wait to join them once they left Hogwarts.”
“It wasn’t bearable for him anymore.” James said. “Dumbledore knew about it, but there was only so much Dumbledore could do without proof. Snape couldn’t enter his own common room or dormitory without being at constant of risk of being cursed into oblivion.”
“Eventually Severus stopped hanging out with us.” Lily said sadly. “He still talked to us and we knew we were still friends, but he just couldn’t hang out with us without being a constant target for his classmates.”
“So Severus started hanging out more with the members of his own house.” Remus said. “You can imagine what that must have been like.”
“What do you mean?” Ginny asked.
“You see, the older Slytherin students took it upon themselves to make sure the younger ones had the beliefs and the views that can be expected from a Slytherin.” Remus answered. “Those kids were brainwashed from the moment they stepped foot into Hogwarts.” He had a disgusted look on his face. “They were more or less trained to join the Death Eaters.”
“We still kept contact, but then…” Sirius looked at the portrait of Harry’s parents uncomfortably.
Lily spoke up: “In our sixth year, James and I started going out.” She hesitated. “I always knew Severus had kind of a thing for me, but I had no idea…”
James sighed. “Snape was furious when he found out about Lily and I.”
“He didn’t think clearly anymore.” Lily said sadly. “He started ignoring all of us. Remus and Sirius both tried to talk to him, but to no avail.”
“Snape automatically assumed that the rest of us were siding with James.” Sirius said. “We have kept trying for months to get him to talk to us, but he hasn’t spoken a word to one of us for the rest of our time at Hogwarts.”
“The next thing we heard from him was when we all joined the Order of the Phoenix and Dumbledore told us he had taken the Dark Mark.” Remus said sombrely.
There followed a long silence while Harry and Ginny contemplated what they had heard. “Why did he return to our side?” Ginny asked finally.
“Apparently he switched sides when it became apparent Voldemort was after the Potter family.” Remus said. “But Dumbledore has kept it to himself.”
“No one of the Order knew.” Sirius said. “I only found out for myself when I talked to Dumbledore the night I was captured at Hogwarts, two years ago.”
“He regrets it.” Harry said. “It’s killing him.”
The adults looked at him inquisitively.
“You have to talk to him.” Harry continued. “This has happened so many years ago and you are all on the same side now. You should talk this out.”
Remus looked at him sombrely. “Harry, in the year I have thought at Hogwarts I have attempted to talk to Severus multiple times. My approaches were denied every time. I’m afraid he is adamant about closing that chapter in his life.”
“Well then you have to try again.” Harry said stubbornly. “If he has talked about it to me, he’ll certainly will talk about it to you. He has hated me for four years.”
“He didn’t hate you, Harry.” Remus said.
Harry laughed. “I think it was very clear for everyone to see that he did hate me.”
Sirius spoke up: “Harry, I don’t think it was as much you he hated, but the memories you brought back to him. You remind everyone of James and Lily when they see you, he wouldn’t be any different. He must have been constantly reminded by the mistakes he made in his past and the friends he lost.”
“Still.” Harry said. “I still think you should talk to him.”
Sirius nodded. “I think you’re right.”
He glanced over at Remus who was looking at him not too convinced.
“Oh alright.” Remus said. “But I never thought Harry Potter and Sirius Black would convince me to have a conversation with Severus Snape.”
Sirius told Harry a few days later that Lupin and him had talked with Snape. They had decided to bury the hatchet. They couldn’t erase everything that had happened between them in the past, but maybe someday they would be able to have a friendly relationship again. Snape had also promised Sirius he would treat Harry better than he had previously.
Harry enjoyed his Christmas holidays just as much as when he stayed at Hogwarts. Most of his friends were spending the holidays with him and Sirius was extremely enthusiastic about hosting Christmas. Harry was happy to see that Remus Lupin seemed very happy too. The fact that he had gotten one of his best friends back after Sirius’ name had been cleared, seemed to have given him a boost and he had never looked younger.
On Christmas Day after dinner, Fred finally asked Harry something he had been wondering about for quite some time now. The twins, Harry and Ginny were on the floor playing with Prongs when he said: “You never told us why you named your dog Prongs, Harry. I mean, the Marauder’s Map is brilliant and all, but why not one of the other three?”
Harry grinned. “Right, I meant to tell you guys about that.” He looked at Ginny who was grinning too.
“What do you know that we don’t?” George asked.
“Well we had the pleasure to meet the real Marauders in person.” Harry said. “You did too, actually.”
Fred and George stared at him with open-mouthed. “What are you talking about? Who are they?”
Coincidentally Sirius chose that moment to join the four teens. Harry gestured to his godfather and said: “It’s my pleasure to introduce to you the one and only Mr Padfoot.”
“No way.” George said.
“You’re yanking our wands.” Fred spoke.
Sirius laughed as he saw their shocked expressions. “Oh right, Harry told me you were the ones that found the Marauder’s Map. Nicked it from Filch’ office right? Couldn’t approve more.”
“You’re being serious, aren’t you?”
Sirius nodded. “We developed the Map back when we were at Hogwarts.”
“Moony.” Fred said slowly. He looked over at Lupin who was still seated at the table. “Of course. Lupin is Moony. It totally makes sense.”
“And Prongs was my father.” Harry stated.
“So Wormtail...” George said. “Wormtail must have been that bloke that pretended to be Scabbers right?”
They nodded. “Peter Pettigrew.” Sirius muttered.
Fred and George were deeply impressed. “You have no idea how much you have taught us.” Fred said with a wide grin.
Sirius laughed at this. “I’m glad the Map fell in the right hands to carry on the legacy of the Marauders.” he said pompously.
At that moment the fireplace lighted up and Albus Dumbledore stepped out of the fire, looking extremely worried. He looked around to see who was there and said: “I am afraid I have very bad news.”
Dumbledore told them there had been a mass break-out in Azkaban that day. It seemed like the Dementors had decided to side with Voldemort and all of the convicted Death Eaters had escaped and had probably joined their master again by now.
Harry felt anger running through him as he realized the man who had betrayed his father was free again, but the concerns of the Order members didn’t seem to be about Wormtail. He heard them talking about Death Eaters who had been in Azkaban who were just as feared and supposed to be just as cruel as Voldemort himself. Sirius told Harry, Ginny, Ron and the twins about Bellatrix Lestrange, his deranged cousin who had been Voldemort’s biggest supporter during the first wizarding war. The thought that she would join him again seemed to worry him a lot more than that Peter Pettigrew had escaped too.
Hermione joined them at Grimmauld Place two days after Christmas and stayed the rest of the holidays. One afternoon, three days before they would return to Hogwarts they were in the kitchen playing a game of Exploding Snap, when Dumbledore appeared via the Floo Network again. One look at his headmaster’s face told Harry something had happened again.
“What’s wrong, Albus?” Sirius asked, looking up from his game.
Dumbledore sat down at the table and looked at Harry compassionately. Harry watched his headmaster anxiously. “I am afraid I am the carrier of bad news again, Harry.” He hesitated before he continued: “This morning I received a message from St Mungo’s Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries that one of my students had been brought in with serious injuries.”
Harry needn’t hear more to realize who Dumbledore was talking about. “Jacinta?”
Dumbledore nodded. “She had been beaten severely and was in bad condition. Naturally, I went to St Mungo’s immediately to follow up on her condition – “
“Will she be alright?” Harry interrupted him. He had grown quite fond of the little girl, despite the fact that she was a Malfoy.
“Yes Harry.” Dumbledore reassured him. “She will make a full recovery soon. That is actually why I am here. She has regained consciousness a while ago, but she didn’t want to tell me anything about what happened. She did ask after you.”
Harry stood up immediately. “Well let’s go then.”
Dumbledore followed his example and they walked towards the fireplace. After a quick goodbye to his friends Harry Flood to St Mungo’s Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries.
Once they arrived in the reception area of the hospital, Harry asked: “Who brought her here?”
“Her mother.” Dumbledore answered.
Harry furrowed his brow. “Do you think her father beat her?”
“That is exactly what I think, Harry.” Dumbledore said. “But if Jacinta doesn’t want to speak about it, I am afraid there is nothing we can do. This way.”
They had arrived on the first floor and Dumbledore led him to the door on their right at the end of the hallway. “Here it is.” Dumbledore said softly. “I think it is better if you go in alone.”
Harry entered the room nervously. A female Healer was writing something down on her clipboard while she examined Jacinta. When she spotted Harry, she smiled and said: “Ah Mr Potter. It’s good that you’re here. Jacinta has been asking for you for a while.” She smiled encouragingly and left the room.
Harry sat down next to Jacinta’s bed and took her hand. He was happy to see she was sitting up with a pile of cushions in her back, but she looked as if she had been through hell. She had a turban of bandages on her head, what told him she must have been hit on the head repeatedly. Her face was bruised much worse than the first time Harry had seen her like this and there were even bruises on her arms. In her neck, Harry saw a large dark purple bruise as if someone had tried to strangle her.
“What happened to you?” Harry whispered.
Jacinta started crying silently as Harry stroked her arm carefully.
“Did you father do this to you, Jacinta?”
The girl looked at him frightfully, tears still leaking from her big grey eyes.
“I know it is hard for you to talk about,” Harry said, “but if you don’t say anything it is impossible for us to help you. And we do want to help you, Jacinta. Really, we do.”
Jacinta squeezed his hand tightly. “I don’t want to go back there.” she whispered. “I don’t want to ever go back there.”
Harry felt a lump forming in his throat as he watched her. “Was it...” he said slowly. “Was it your father?”
Jacinta hesitated, but then she nodded slowly. Harry hugged her carefully and said: “You don’t have to go back to him, I promise. I’ll make sure of that.”
Jacinta smiled weakly and buried her head in Harry’s shoulder. “Mom tried to stop him.” she said. “But he was way too strong for her.”
“Who stopped him then?” Harry asked puzzled. Narcissa Malfoy was the one that had brought Jacinta to St Mungo’s. He had automatically assumed she had been the one to stop Lucius Malfoy from killing his own daughter.
“Draco?!” Harry yelled. “But who was the one that hurt you the first time then? It can’t have been your father then, you were at Hogwarts.”
“Crabbe and Goyle.”
It actually made perfect sense to Harry. Draco wasn’t the person to do his nasty chores himself. Of course he would have send Crabbe and Goyle to do the job for him. But why did he stop his father today? Maybe even Malfoy realized Lucius was taking it too far. He decided not to elaborate on the subject.
“Jacinta?” he asked carefully. “Do you think you could tell what you just told me to Professor Dumbledore? He will know what we have to do.”
Jacinta seemed scared to death but she nodded. Harry went to fetch his headmaster and Jacinta told him everything. When she was finished, Harry looked at Dumbledore and even he jumped at the expression on his face. He had never seen him look so angry and disgusted.
“I will make sure you do not have to return home.” Dumbledore said. “The Healers already said you will not be allowed to leave the hospital before the new term starts so we have until the end of the school year to make new arrangements.”
After this, the friendly Healer reappeared and asked them politely to leave, so her patient could rest. Harry smiled one last time at Jacinta, who gave him a real smile this time and exited the room together with Dumbledore.
“What will happen with her now?” Harry asked the moment the door had closed behind them.
“She will stay here for the remainder of the holidays.” Dumbledore said. “Then she will come back to Hogwarts, but she will have to stay in the hospital wing for some time, I’m afraid.”
“What about later?” Harry asked. “Where will she go when school is over?”
“The first thing I will have to do is file a complaint with the Ministry of Magic for child abuse. There will be a trial against Lucius Malfoy and if everything goes well, he will be convicted and Jacinta will be taken away from her home.”
“What if it doesn’t go well?” Harry panicked at the thought there was still a chance Jacinta would have to go back to Malfoy Manor.
“I think with this evidence there is no chance he will get out of this, Harry.” Dumbledore reassured him. “The testimony Jacinta gave me today will be useable in court as I am a senior member of the Wizengamot. A Ministry official will visit her shortly to take note of her injuries and the Healers who have treated her and will treat her will be called in to testify as well.”
Harry nodded. “And then? She won’t have to go to an orphanage, will she?”
“Not unless she is very unlucky, Harry.” Dumbledore said. “Once Malfoy is convicted, the Ministry will go looking for people who are willing to adopt her.”
“I could ask Sirius.” Harry said immediately. “Maybe he would be willing to take her in.”
“If Sirius would want to file for custody, I would strongly support that.” Dumbledore smiled. “But it’s quite a complex matter. The Wizengamot will have to consider all the pros and cons of every option and of course they will listen to the wishes of Jacinta herself. But let us not get ahead of ourselves, Harry. We have still a long way to go, before it will come to that.
Harry nodded, but decided to talk to Sirius about it anyway. “What about Draco sir? He might have stopped his father now, but the first time Jacinta was injured he wasn’t that innocent.”
“We cannot prove that, Harry.” Dumbledore said sombrely. “Jacinta told us she was attacked by Vincent Crabbe and Gregory Goyle. She did not see her brother anywhere around the incident. We will have to see what Mr Crabbe and Mr Goyle will tell us when we interrogate them.”
“What will happen to them, sir? To Crabbe and Goyle?”
Dumbledore sighed. “I expect they will be brought before Hogwarts High Court.”
“Hogwarts High Court?” Harry asked puzzled.
Dumbledore smiled slightly. “I am not surprised you have never heard of it. It has been a very long time since it was last necessary to call it together. 53 years to be exact.”
“So what is it?”
“It is sort of a law court, only it does not consist of members of the Wizengamot. The members of the Hogwarts High Court are the current Headmaster, the heads of houses, the Head Boy and Head Girl and the Prefects. And of course the members of the school board. It is only called together to determine a punishment when the offenses are too serious to let it be determined by one person. The decision to call the Court together rests with the current headmaster and the board of gouvernors. It is the only way a student can be expelled from Hogwarts, how different your teachers may want you to think”, Dumbledore added with a smirk.
“You think they’ll be expelled?” Harry asked.
“I think that would only be fair.” Dumbledore stated calmly. “Attacking a younger student in such way, with no ways of defending herself is a very low act. I think expulsion is the only suitable punishment. But as I said I cannot decide that alone.”
They had reached the reception area and Harry took the Floo Network back to Grimmauld Place. When he arrived there he was bombarded with questions from his worried friends. After he told them everything, they were appalled. Leaving his friends at the kitchen table, who were still debating the best punishments for Lucius Malfoy, Harry approached his godfather who was standing by the stove with a cup of tea.
“So you convinced her to tell Dumbledore everything?” Sirius smiled. “You did a good thing, Harry.”
“I didn’t do anything.” Harry muttered. “If I would have persisted more the first time this might not have happened.” He still felt sick if he thought of Jacinta, lying broken and bruised in a bed at St Mungo’s.
Sirius laid a hand on Harry’s shoulder. “You couldn’t have done anything, Harry. But she’s safe now and she will never have to go back to that abusive bastard.” Harry was slightly startled by the grim expression on Sirius’ face.
“When she is taken away from her home....” Harry said carefully. “She will need a new family.”
Sirius grim expression changed into a smile. “I reckon she will.”
Harry watched his godfather uncomfortably. He couldn’t just ask him to take in another child, could he?
Sirius grinned. “You never struck me as the big brother type, Harry.” he said cheekily.
Harry looked at Sirius hopefully. “Would you?”
“Let’s not get ahead of ourselves.” Sirius said. “If that girl needs a place to stay I’d be happy to take her in, but it’s not that simple. We’ll go visit her together tomorrow so I can meet her. Let’s start from there.”
Harry grinned broadly, gave his godfather a hug and walked back to his friends. Sirius watched him walk away, finding himself amazed for the millionth time at how selfless and kind-hearted that boy really was. There was no doubt in his mind that this boy was the son of Lily and James Potter.
“The wounded recognize the wounded” – Nora Roberts
Next is 21.