Harry didn’t hear anything from Dumbledore for days. When he asked Remus or Tonks, who was staying a lot more at Grimmauld Place now, they couldn’t or wouldn’t tell him anything about his whereabouts either. Harry thought Dumbledore had changed his mind and thought it was too dangerous for Harry and had gone to obtain the Horcrux alone, until his headmaster turned up at Grimmauld Place out of the blue, the night before Ginny’s birthday.
The teenagers all sat at the kitchen table, chatting with Remus and Tonks and the Grangers when Dumbledore suddenly stepped out of the fireplace. Mr Granger barely looked up as he had adapted himself admirably to all the magic around him. Mrs Granger had also no problem with being around wizards and witches, but she had a bit more difficulty to hide her surprise when people appeared out of thin air or in the fireplace.
“Good evening to all.” Dumbledore said politely as he casually brushed the ashes of his robes. “I have come to collect Harry. If you do not mind of course, Remus.”
Dumbledore had already told him and Sirius about Harry’s desire to go with him when he tried to obtain the Horcruxes a while ago.
“Not at all.” Remus smiled when he saw Harry had already left the kitchen to get his jacket.
“Alright.” Dumbledore said when Harry reappeared. “Are you ready?”
“Yes.” Harry said excitedly. He gave Ginny a quick kiss. “You’ll probably already be asleep when I get back. I’ll see you in the morning.”
“Be careful.” Ginny said.
Dumbledore led Harry outside and they apparated from the front step of the house.
“Maybe I should teach you how to apparate too.” Dumbledore said when they had gotten to their destination. He started walking down the small road and Harry quickly caught up beside him.
“Don’t you have to be seventeen to apparate?”
Dumbledore looked at Harry out of the corner of his eye. “Well, yes.” he admitted. “As your headmaster I admire your wish to follow the rules, but I must say that I find it rather hard to believe due to… previous events.”
Harry grinned. “Well, it’s the law, isn’t it? The Improper Use of Magic Office send me a warning once because Dobby had performed a hovering charm on a pudding!”
Dumbledore smiled at the thought of that memory. “Oh yes, they were very strict back then. But the Ministry has changed a lot since Rufus Scrimgeour has taken over. And I daresay that underage magic is not one of their main concerns anymore.”
He suddenly stopped walking and Harry recognized the hole in the hedge where Bob Ogden had gone through when he went to see the Gaunts.
“Careful now, Harry.”
“Do you already know what’s in there, Professor?” Harry asked nervously.
“No. There is only one way to go past that door and I prefer to do it only once.” He pulled out a silver blade and cut his arm. When the door had received his payment of blood, it simply disappeared. Dumbledore quickly healed his arm and smiled at Harry reassuringly.
Harry and Dumbledore both lighted their wands and carefully passed the threshold, Dumbledore first with Harry close behind.
A much too familiar cold feeling washed over them. Harry didn’t need the screaming voices in his head to know what was waiting for them inside. Without thinking he raised his wand: “Expecto Patronum!”
The silver stag jumped out of Harry’s wand and galloped into the house, closely followed by Dumbledore’s silver phoenix. The Dementors couldn’t leave because the only exit was blocked by Harry and Dumbledore and their patronuses.
“Be careful, Harry.” Dumbledore warned as the six Dementors that were guarding the house cowered against the back wall of the dirty kitchen. “I hardly think this is Voldemort’s only protection.”
His attention was attracted by the small jewellery box that lay on the wooden table. He motioned Harry to follow him and slowly walked towards it.
“Yes, this is it.” he mumbled as he closely observed the box. It was green and silver and had the initials ‘SS’ on it.
Dumbledore pointed his wand at the box and began murmuring strange incantations Harry had never heard before while Harry hold off the Dementors without much difficulty. After what seemed nearly fifteen minutes, Dumbledore lowered his wand.
“I think it is safe for us to take it now.”
Harry stared at his headmaster. “Just like that?”, he asked surprised. “No curses or anything?”
“There were a few minor curses on the box that I was able to remove quite easily.” Dumbledore explained. “But whatever is in that box – let us hope it is the ring – is much more dangerous. We will take it back to Grimmauld Place. I am sure Bill Weasley will be able to help us.”
When Harry and Dumbledore were in the fresh air again, Harry realized something. “Won’t Voldemort hear from the Dementors that we were here?”
Dumbledore smiled wryly. “I do not think we have to be afraid of that. The Dementors follow Voldemort because he gives them pray, but they feel absolutely no loyalty towards him. Dementors are only loyal to themselves. Something the Ministry of Magic had to find out the hard way too.”
He held out his arm for Harry to grasp and after the unpleasant feeling of disapparating they appeared in front of Grimmauld Place.
“That was quick.” Ron said when Harry and Dumbledore entered the kitchen of Grimmauld Place. “We thought we wouldn’t see you until morning.”
Harry looked at the clock and realized they had only be gone for an hour.
“Yeah, me too.” he said. He sat down next to Ginny and put an arm around her. She gave him a quick kiss on the cheek.
Dumbledore quickly looked around the kitchen to see who was there before he said: “Not the most effective protection. We were rather lucky if I can believe Regulus. He almost died when he obtained the locket.”
“So what protection did he have?” Hermione asked eagerly.
“Dementors.” Harry said.
“That’s lucky?” Ron asked unbelievingly. “They’re a nightmare!”
Dumbledore chuckled. “Well I had the right man with me for that. I always believed Harry had a very powerful Patronus and it will certainly become more powerful now that – “
He abruptly stopped talking when he saw Harry’s look.
“Now that what?” Tonks asked interestedly.
“Now that he is almost grown up. And he had a lot of training.” Dumbledore said quickly.
The Weasleys and Tonks shrugged, but Remus and Hermione were looking at Harry with raised eyebrows.
“Isn’t Bill home yet?” Harry asked quickly to break the silence.
“He’s out with Fleur.” Fred smirked. “You don’t have to expect him soon.”
“Why do you need Bill?” Ginny asked.
“We would like him to take a look at this.” Dumbledore said and he showed the box they had taken from the Gaunt shack. “I know he has a desk job now, but I am afraid we will need his exceptional talents as a cursebreaker once more.”
He quickly glanced at Mr and Mrs Weasley at this. Despite the fact that Mrs Weasley was very proud of her eldest son’s accomplishments as a cursebreaker, she couldn’t help but feel relieved when Bill returned to Great Britain and took a much safer desk job. Although safe was of course very relative as he worked for the Order of the Phoenix in his spare time.
“I can tell him to come by first thing tomorrow if you’d like.” Mr Weasley said.
“That would be perfect.” Dumbledore said.
Dumbledore left and one by one, the inhabitants of Grimmauld Place went to bed. It was almost midnight when Harry and Remus were the last ones up.
“Want a butterbeer?” Remus asked, already standing up and getting two bottles. “So.” he said when they he had sat back down. “Are you going to tell me or what?”
“What do you mean?”
“What was Dumbledore talking about when he mentioned your Patronus? And don’t give me that training nonsense, I saw that look you gave him.” Remus said.
Harry sighed. He told Remus everything about the Horcrux and the fact that Dumbledore thought he would be a stronger wizard now. Remus was silent for a long time after Harry’s story.
“I shouldn’t have told you.” Harry mumbled.
“No, I’m glad you did.” Remus said quickly. “Harry, how long have you known this?”
“Dumbledore told me after he read Sirius’ will.”
“That long? Why didn’t you tell me?” Remus asked. “Never mind.” he added quickly before Harry could say anything. “You thought we would think less of you, didn’t you?”
Harry shrugged. “Well, yeah. I mean, a piece of Voldemort’s soul was inside me…”
Remus interrupted him. “Do you think less of yourself?”
Harry thought about that for a minute. “Not really, no. I feel a lot better actually.” he admitted.
“As you should.” Remus smiled. “It’s gone now, Harry, and you are still an admirable, brave young man, as you always were.”
“Didn’t your friends notice anything?” the werewolf asked after a short silence.
“Ron certainly didn’t.” Harry grinned. “Hermione noticed though, she asked me about it. And Ginny probably did too, but she never tries to get anything out of me. She always waits until I start talking myself.”
Remus laughed. “That’s a good one you got there, Harry. Don’t let her go.”
“I’m not planning to.” Harry said.
(-) – (-) – (-) – (-) – (-)
Two floors above them Hermione and Ginny were sitting on their beds talking. Hermione had poured out her heart about Ron – again – to her best girl friend. His reaction after Harry and Ron found her during the attack on her house had strengthened her belief that Ron did return her feelings towards him, but he still hadn’t shown any intend to act on it.
“I’m telling you, Hermione.” Ginny said, grabbing a chocolate frog from the nightstand. “If you want something to happen with my brother you’ll have to make the first move.”
“But isn’t that a bit…”
“Needy? Pathetic? Desperate?” Ginny laughed. “A bit. Maybe we’re just too old fashioned. Why shouldn’t a girl be able to ask a guy out?”
Hermione raised her eyebrows. “Would you have done it if Harry hadn’t asked you out first?”
“No probably not.” Ginny admitted. “But you two are an extreme case. You have been on a date over eighteen months ago, you clearly like each other and still nothing happened.”
“He’s just shy.” Hermione mumbled.
“If by shy you mean daft, yeah he’s shy.”
Hermione laughed. “So... You and Harry still going strong then?”
“Yeah.” Ginny smiled.
“You really do seem perfect for each other.” Hermione sighed. “I haven’t seen you guys fight once in all the time you are dating.”
“Oh we do fight.” Ginny said. “Just not a lot. And definitely not in public.” she added with a knowing look towards her friend.
“I wish I had a relationship like you guys.” Hermione admitted. “But aren’t you scared you might have gotten together too early?”
Ginny raised here eyebrows. “What do you mean?”
“Well, you do hear about a lot of couples that got together when they were very young and then break up because their feelings changed or they grew tired of one another.”
“Oh I know for one thing that Harry won’t grow tired of me too soon.”
“How’s that?” Hermione asked.
Ginny smiled. “We’ve been together for a year and a half and he still gets goose bumps every time I kiss him on the cheek.”
(-) – (-) –(-) –(-) – (-)
Harry, Hermione, Jacinta and the four Weasleys spent most of the day of Ginny’s birthday outside, playing Quidditch and relaxing. In the evening Mr and Mrs Weasley had planned a small dinner party. But that plan was brutally shattered.
The teenagers were engaged in casual conversation when Remus came out of the house and quickly walked towards them. Harry knew something had happened the minute he saw the man’s face.
“What is it?” Harry asked.
“The Death Eaters are attacking the ministry.” Remus said agitated. “We have to go.”
“I’m coming with you.” Harry said immediately.
Remus shook his head. “I’m sorry, Harry. I know you want to be involved and I support that, but you can’t come this time.”
“Harry, this is not like the attack on Hogsmeade or on Grimmauld Place.” Remus said. “From what Dumbledore told us, every single known Death Eater is at the Ministry right now. They aren’t just trying to cause panic. They’re trying to take over the country.”
“I want to go with you.” Harry said stubbornly.
“I know, Harry.” Remus said patiently. “But there’s nothing more important than your safety right now. You stay here and I’ll come back. I promise.”
Harry felt helpless as he watched his only remaining surrogate father leave.
“It will be alright, Harry.” Ginny tried to comfort him.
“Yeah.” Hermione agreed. “Remus is tough. You saw him fight before!”
“Sirius was tough too.” Harry said flatly.
No one seemed to know what to say to that.
(-) – (-) – (-) – (-) – (-)
Harry, Ginny, Ron and Jacinta spent the following hours at the kitchen table with cups of tea in front of them that were forced upon them by Dobby. Hermione had gone to her parents to tell them what was happening and they didn’t appear for several hours. Fred and George had joined the other Order members at the Ministry.
“We should have heard something by now.” Harry said restlessly.
Hermione tried to comfort him, but Ron and Ginny said nothing. Both of them were looking very pale. Their entire family was fighting at the Ministry right now, together with several other friends, like Remus and Tonks. It would be a miracle if everyone they knew got out of there unharmed.
“You know…” Ron said after a long silence. “The entire Order of the Phoenix is there. Plus all the Ministry officials. There’s no way the Death Eaters will be able to take over the Ministry, right?”
Ginny shrugged. Harry and Hermione exchanged a look and Harry knew immediately that his best female friend was thinking the exact same thing he was. If Voldemort send all his forces at once, there was a big chance the people who were defending the Ministry didn’t stand a chance.
They had been sitting in the kitchen for several hours when finally Remus turned up. He was immediately bombarded with questions.
“Is everyone alright?”
Remus raised his hands to silence them and said: “I’m afraid I have bad news.”
“What?” Harry asked urgently. “Did someone…?”
“I don’t know about anyone from the Order.” He looked at the Weasleys when he said that and saw them relax when they heard none of their family had given their lives in the fight. “But… Scrimgeour is dead.”
“The Minister for Magic?” Hermione asked.
Remus nodded. “The Death Eaters have taken over the Ministry. They had already killed Scrimgeour by the time we arrived. We have fought for hours but…”
“The Death Eaters have the Ministry?” Harry asked slowly.
“Yes.” Remus said. “I’m afraid so.”
“But it’s just a building right?” Ron asked. “A lot of the Ministry officials must have escaped when they realized what was coming.”
“Indeed.” Remus said. “But it’s more than just a building, Ron. Undoubtedly, Voldemort will declare himself the new Minister for Magic now. And with the Ministry in his hands he will be able to control our whole magical world… Except for one place.”
“Hogwarts.” Harry and Hermione said simultaneously.
“Yes.” Remus said. “And that’s why we have to leave. I’m sure the Fidelius charm will hold, but all the protective enchantments that could be tracked by the Ministry are worthless right now. Hogwarts still has protection charms that are a thousand years old, plus the enchantments of Dumbledore, so it’s probably the safest place left. So get your stuff and let’s go.”
The five teenagers quickly collected their belongings and returned to the kitchen where Remus was awaiting them impatiently.
“Alright, if you’re ready, we’re going to take the Floo network.” the werewolf said. “Your parents and brothers should already be there.” he added for Ron and Ginny’s benefit.
Harry was the first to step into the fireplace. When the nauseating feeling that accompanied using the Floo network stopped, Harry stepped into the headmaster’s office at Hogwarts. Dumbledore wasn’t there, but still the office was filled with people. Mr and Mrs Weasley were there, surrounded by Tonks, Mad Eye, McGonagall, Snape and several other Order members.
Harry’s stomach dropped when he saw Mrs Weasley’s tear stained face and Mr Weasley looking as white as a ghost. He turned to the nearest Order member, who happened to be Tonks. “What…?”
Tonks blinked a few times to stop herself from crying. She looked at Harry tearfully and spoke just one word: “Percy.”
Chapter 7: The Holidays End
"What happened?” Harry asked urgently while Ginny, Ron, Hermione and Jacinta joined them. “Is he…?”
“Percy is unharmed, as far as we know.” Remus said. “But…” He didn’t seem to be eager to tell them what had happened at the Ministry.
After a long silence Snape finally spoke up. “It seems that he has changed sides.”
“What do you mean ‘changed sides’?” Ron asked sharply.
Harry looked at Ginny who seemed to have understood what Snape was telling them. Her face was as white as a sheet. She looked at her father pleadingly. “Dad?”
Mr Weasley looked up at his two youngest children. He looked much older than he usually did. “He fought with the Death Eaters.” he said softly.
Harry couldn’t believe what he was hearing. He and Percy had never been the closest of friends. Harry always hung around more with the twins and Ron and Ginny when he stayed with the Weasleys. But he had never thought Percy would be capable of joining the Death Eaters.
“Did he take the Dark Mark?” Ron asked harshly.
Mr Weasley shook his head. “We don’t know.”
“I highly doubt that.” a calm voice came from behind them. Albus Dumbledore had reappeared in his office. “I ran into Percy during the fight and I talked to him. I have reason to believe that he currently is under the influence of the Imperius Curse.”
The Weasleys looked very relieved to hear that news. There was still hope for their son.
“Can we do something for him?” Mrs Weasley asked. It was the first time she had said something since they had arrived at Hogwarts.
“We will do everything we can.” Dumbledore assured her. “But I am afraid…”
“What is it?” Mr Weasley asked urgently.
“If this war ends, Percy will have to appear before the Wizengamot and he could be held responsible for Death Eater activity.” Dumbledore explained.
“But he is under the Imperius curse” Mrs Weasley said.
“I know that, Molly.” Dumbledore said sympathetically. “But not everyone will know that. The fact is that his crimes – “
“What crimes?” Mr Weasley asked, staring at Dumbledore in anticipation.
Dumbledore sighed deeply before he answered him. “Percy killed the Minister of Magic.”
The attack on the Ministry on Ginny’s birthday had great consequences for the wizarding world. Voldemort hadn’t declared himself Minister of Magic like they expected, although the Ministry was under his total control. He appointed a woman called Dolores Umbridge to fill in the post as Minister while he sought other ways to expand his power.
All the inhabitants of number 12 Grimmauld Place were now staying at Hogwarts, together with a lot of members of the Order of the Phoenix. They knew Draco Malfoy was staying at Hogwarts too over the summer but none of them had seen him yet.
The Order of the Phoenix was actively searching for Percy, hoping that he hadn’t been taken into Voldemort’s inner circle. Their search actions didn’t have any results until six days after the attack.
Harry, Ginny, Ron, Hermione and Jacinta were in the Gryffindor common room when Mr and Mrs Weasley and the twins entered through the portrait of the Fat Lady. One look at Mrs Weasley’s face told them all that they wouldn’t receive any good news. It was apparent she had been crying and the twins and Mr Weasley were looking very depressed too.
“We found Percy.” Mr Weasley said softly.
The five teenagers looked at him expectantly. Ginny squeezed Harry’s hand so tight it hurt.
“He was killed.”
Harry felt Ginny’s grip on his hand loosen. She started to cry softly. Harry pulled her close and kissed her hair. “What happened?” he asked while he held Ginny.
“They seem to have killed him right after the attack on the Ministry.” Mr Weasley said. “Apparently they didn’t need him anymore once they had the Ministry under their control.”
Harry felt anger stream through him. Voldemort had taken his parents, Sirius, Angelina and now Percy. His heart sank when he looked at Mrs Weasley. She had lost her two brothers during the first wizarding war and now she had lost one of her sons.
Harry carefully let go of Ginny and walked towards his surrogate mother. “I’m so sorry.” he said softly and hugged her.
Mrs Weasley smiled weakly at him when he let go, but she looked like she could break any second. This war was taking too much out of all of them. Harry swore once again that he would end it. He had to be the one to kill Voldemort and he would make sure that he would be.
“Very good, Harry. I think that is enough for today.”
Dumbledore gestured for Harry to sit down and took his own place behind his desk. It was a week before the new school year at Hogwarts would start and they had just finished another one of Harry’s lessons. The headmaster was very pleased with the improvement of Harry’s magic and powers since the Horcrux within him had been destroyed.
“I am sorry to bother you about it again, Harry,” Dumbledore said. “but I wondered if you had already told your friends about the Horcrux.”
Harry didn’t have to ask which Horcrux Dumbledore meant. “Yes.”
He had told Ginny about it first, because he knew she would understand him. She was the only one he knew who knew how he felt about it. Encouraged by her positive reaction he had also told Hermione, Ron and the twins.
His two best friends were only positive about it, because Harry would now be a greater threat to Voldemort and the twins had found it ironic because Voldemort had apparently destroyed part of his soul himself. Harry smiled as he remembered them joking about it.
“I take it they did not turn away from you then, like you feared.” Dumbledore had been watching Harry closely.
Harry shook his head. “No, they were very supportive.”
“I would not have expected anything else.” Dumbledore smiled. “They are truly an extraordinary family, the Weasleys.”
They remained silent for a moment while they thought about the funeral they had attended that morning. Thinking about the deceased Weasley brother made Harry realize something.
“Professor, does Voldemort know I’m not dead now? I mean, Percy knew I was still alive, so wouldn’t he have told him?”
“I do not think so.” Dumbledore said. “I do not even think Percy has ever spoken to Voldemort. The only task he had was to kill the Minister of Magic.”
“But surely, they know Percy is a member of the Order of the Phoenix.” Harry said. “Wouldn’t they use him to find out things about it?”
“Ah, but to the outside world Percy was never a member of the Order.” Dumbledore smiled slightly when he saw Harry’s puzzled face. “We have spread the rumour around the Ministry that Percy and Arthur had a big fight and were not getting along anymore. Scrimgeour was always very suspicious about the Order and if he had known Percy was a member too, he would have never promoted him to his office.”
“So Voldemort still thinks I’m dead?”
“I really think so, yes.” Dumbledore answered. “But I am afraid that won’t be for long.”
“What do you mean?” Harry asked.
“The new term starts next week. Surely, your friends and the members of the Order were able to keep it quiet that you were still alive, but we cannot expect that that secret will be kept when the entire student body of Hogwarts returns. Especially because there are still children of known Death Eaters among them.”
“Crabbe and Goyle.” Harry grumbled. He hadn’t forgotten what they had done to Jacinta last year, without even being punished for it.
“Among others.” Dumbledore said. “But I can assure you that they will not lay a finger on Jacinta this year. I will make sure of that.”
Harry smiled gratefully.
“While we are on the subject.” Dumbledore added. “I am sure you remember that Jacinta’s brother is staying at Hogwarts too.” Harry nodded. “He would like to speak to you before term starts.”
“Malfoy wants to speak to me?” Harry asked unbelievingly.
“Yes. And I would strongly recommend you do so, Harry. I think you might be surprised.”
The twins thought it was ridiculous, Hermione strongly supported it, Ginny had her doubts and Ron thought he had gone mad, but that night Harry made his way to the private room that had been assigned to Draco Malfoy.
Malfoy stared at him with his mouth slightly open when he saw Harry. He didn’t say anything and didn’t move to let him in. He probably didn’t expect that Harry would agree to talk to him.
“You wanted to talk to me?” Harry said finally.
Malfoy closed his mouth and nodded. He stepped aside and let Harry in, motioning for him to sit down. Harry sat down in an armchair and looked at Malfoy expectantly.
“I wanted to apologise.” the Slytherin said. “I knew what was going on, but I chose to ignore it. I wish I could go back so I could spare her from all she went through, but I can’t.”
Harry raised his eyebrows. “I think you’re apologizing to the wrong person.”
“I know. I have apologized to her.” Draco said quickly.
“What did she say?” Harry asked surprised. Jacinta hadn’t said anything to him about it.
Draco shrugged. “She said she understood. But that doesn’t take away the fact that I was wrong.”
“Do you think that’s the only thing you were wrong about?” Harry asked.
Draco shook his head. “I realize I have been unfair to you over the years. And to your friends.”
Harry watched his childhood nemesis. He didn’t seem to be anything like the old Draco Malfoy anymore. “What happened to you?” he asked slowly.
“I don’t know.” Draco said. “My father has told me my whole life what to think and what to believe and I was stupid enough to follow him. Now that I am away from him, it’s like I can finally think for myself. And I realized that I’m not anything like my father. However hard it may be for you to believe that.”
“It is kind of hard.” Harry mumbled.
“Look, it became very clear to me that I had only two choices. Either I broke with my family and opposed the Dark Lord or I stayed at home with my parents and I’d probably end up a Death Eater.”
Harry nodded. “I understand.”
“I realize now that the person you are or the powers you have aren’t defined by the purity of your blood.” Malfoy said. “You and Granger are perfect examples of that. I’m sorry.”
“When Jacinta was attacked by Crabbe and Goyle last year…” Harry said. “You really didn’t know anything, did you?”
Malfoy shook his head. “I didn’t know it was Crabbe and Goyle until Dumbledore told me before my father’s trial.”
Harry nodded again and stood up from his chair. “I have to go, now.” he announced and walked towards the door.
Malfoy stood up too and followed him. “So are we okay?” he asked.
Harry turned around and held out his hand. “We’re okay.” he said as Malfoy shook his hand.
“That doesn’t mean I like you!” he added just before he disappeared.
Two days before the other Hogwarts students would arrive for the start of term, Dobby suddenly appeared in the Gryffindor common room. The house elf had returned to Hogwarts when the inhabitants of Grimmauld Place had moved.
“Professor Dumbledore has asked me to bring you these, sirs and misses.” the elf said happily as Harry looked up from the diary he was reading. He gave them their Hogwarts letters.
“About time we got these.” Ron said.
“Well, it has been rather a busy summer!” Hermione reminded him. “I wonder how we’ll be able to get our stuff. We aren’t even allowed to leave the grounds.”
“The Order will probably get everything for us.” Harry said. He looked at Ginny apologetically. He hadn’t been able to get her a real present for her birthday as they were cooped up at Grimmauld Place and Hogwarts for the entire summer. He had promised her to get her something when they went to Diagon Alley to get their school supplies, but they probably would not be allowed to go.
Ginny knew what he was thinking. She just smiled and kissed him quickly on the cheek. “I don’t care about presents, Harry. You know that.”
They all opened their Hogwarts letters.
“So, are you a Prefect, Ginny?” Ron asked.
“Are you mad?” Ginny laughed. “Demelza probably got it.”
“I’m Quidditch captain!” Harry said excitedly.
“You say that like it’s a surprise.” Ron laughed.
Ginny kissed him again. “Congratulations! You deserve it. I’ll try out for Chaser, maybe we can play together.”
“I’m sure you can.” Jacinta said. “Dating the team captain sure won’t do any harm.”
They all laughed. “Neither does being his little sister.” Ginny shot back.
“I don’t think I’ll try out this year.” Jacinta said.
“Why not?” Harry asked. “You’re a great Chaser.”
“Well, Katie is still here and then there’s Ginny who’s definitely good enough to make the team. Then there’s only one spot left.”
“Harry was only a first year when he made the team.” Hermione said encouragingly. “It wouldn’t hurt to try.”
“Sure.” Harry said. “And if you don’t make it, we can always use substitutes. We haven’t finished one season without injuries since I joined the team.”
“You mean you didn’t.” Ginny smirked. “You’re probably the most reckless seeker I know.”
Several Order members, including Fred and George, went to Diagon Alley that afternoon to buy the school supplies for the students. Harry asked the twins to get one more thing that wasn’t on their lists.
“Oh Harry, you shouldn’t have!” Ginny said that evening in the common room. On her lap was a new Nimbus 2002.
“I know.” Harry said. “It’s for me too. I want my new Chaser to be well equipped.”
Ginny smiled widely and kissed him full on the lips. “Thank you.” she said softly. “But I still need to make the team first.”
“I don’t doubt you will.”
“Cease-fire is important but it can only last for a very, very short time” – Silvan Shalom
Chapter 8: The World Is Going Nuts
When Harry and his friends arrived in the Great Hall for the Welcoming Feast, they noticed there were a lot of students that didn’t come back this year. A lot of families had gone into hiding when Voldemort took over the country and apparently many parents didn’t trust Hogwarts to be safe for their children.
“This is just sad.” Ron said as he looked around the half empty Hall.
“It’s quite understandable.” Hermione said while they sat down at the Gryffindor table. “Parents want to keep their children safe.”
“But it’s Hogwarts!” Harry said. “This must be the safest place in the country right now.”
He stopped talking when the doors opened and Professor McGonagall appeared, followed by a short row of nervous first years.
The Sorting ceremony had never passed so quickly as there were only about fifteen students to sort. When the Sorting Hat was brought away, Dumbledore stood up from his chair and opened the feast.
“This feels weird.” Ron said as he looked around the Hall again. “Even McLaggen didn’t come back. He’s a pureblood, isn’t he?”
“What does that have to do with it?” Hermione asked offended.
“No! I didn’t mean that.” Ron said quickly. “It’s just… With V-Voldemort in charge, they are the ones that are safe, aren’t they? You’d think that it would be the Muggleborns that would go into hiding, but most of them seem to have come back.”
“Maybe that’s just the point.” Ginny said.
“What do you mean?”
“Muggleborns would know that Hogwarts is the only safe place for them right now.”
Harry looked at Colin who was sitting two seats to the left of him. “What did your parents say?”
Colin looked at him uncomfortably. “We didn’t actually tell them. We didn’t want to risk it.”
Ron smiled approvingly.
“I wish my parents didn’t know about it.” Parvati sighed. “We had to nag them for three weeks to let us come back. We had to promise to write every two days and to not get into any trouble or do anything dangerous.”
“Well I’ll expect your letter of resignation from Dumbledore’s Army then.” Harry grinned.
“Don’t count on it.”
“My mom went nuts too.” Seamus spoke up. “I think she was planning on tying me up this morning to prevent me from leaving.”
“What did you have to promise?” Hermione asked.
“Nothing. Though I did promise her I’d get her Voldemort’s autograph when I see him.”
They were all still laughing when Dumbledore stood up again to make his usual start of term announcements.
“Good evening to all and welcome back for another year at Hogwarts.” the headmaster spoke. “You have probably all noticed that our student body has noticeably decreased over the summer. A lot of students chose not to return. Also, it is my biggest regret to inform you that two of our students have lost their lives during the summer in Death Eater attacks. I would like to ask all of you to join me in a moment of silence to remember and honour Kevin Whitby and Malcolm Baddock.”
The students bowed their heads and remained silent. Harry looked quickly at Ginny and then at Ron and Hermione. They hadn’t even known about them. Harry knew Malcolm Baddock was a pureblood and a Slytherin. Apparently no one was safe in this war.
“Thank you.” Dumbledore said after about a minute. “On another note, I would like to introduce our new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher: Professor Kingsley Shacklebolt. Like Professor Tonks, Professor Shacklebolt is an Auror. He has most kindly agreed to come back to Hogwarts for a year to teach Defence Against the Dark Arts.”
Kingsley stood up from the staff table when the students applauded for him. Harry, Ron, Hermione and Ginny clapped extra loud and Kingsley smiled faintly and raised his hand towards the Gryffindor table.
“As you all know, the Ministry of Magic has fallen during your absence. Lord Voldemort is now in control of the entire country except for Hogwarts. He has probably never been more powerful than he is today.”
Dumbledore paused and all the students were looking at him in anticipation.
“The staff of Hogwarts’ primary concern is the safety of our students. Therefore I must ask you to act responsible and follow the new rules that have been made to assure your safety. Students are no longer allowed out in the hallways past 8 o’clock without authorization from a teacher. Quidditch try-outs and Quidditch practices will be surveyed. Teachers, prefects and members of the Order of the Phoenix will be patrolling the hallways day and night. Also, I regret to inform you that no one will be allowed to visit Hogsmeade during the year. I am sure you can all understand why.”
Dumbledore looked at his students for a moment before he continued: “Lord Voldemort is trying to take over our lives and our freedom. The biggest weapon he has is fear. Our fear. We can only oppose his tyranny by showing unity and stand up for ourselves. There are things that are more powerful than fear and those things will help end this war. One such thing is hope. Fear has no chance to paralyze and control us, as long as there is hope… Now off to bed. Goodnight!”
“He sure has a thing with the speeches.” Ron said as they left the Great Hall. “Binns could learn a lot from him.”
“So could you!” Hermione said. “And from Binns too for that matter.”
“The only thing I learned from Binns was not to take his N.E.W.T. class.” Ron said. “I can’t believe you’re still taking History of Magic this year.”
“I think it’s an important subject.” Luna said, who had joined them after the feast. “If people learned from the past, wars like this could be prevented.”
They reached the seventh floor and Luna said goodnight and walked towards the Ravenclaw common room. The Gryffindors walked to the Fat Lady.
“Padfoot.” Hermione said and the Fat Lady swung open to gain them access to the Gryffindor common room.
“Padfoot?” Harry asked. “Are you serious?”
Hermione shrugged. “McGonagall chooses the passwords.”
They sat down in front of the fireplace and they were quickly joined by the other sixth years.
“We’re still going to have meetings, aren’t we?” Lavender asked.
“Sure.” Harry said. “There’s still a lot we can do. We have to be prepared for what may come.” He thought about what Voldemort would do when he find out Harry was still alive.
“So when are you holding the Quidditch try-outs, Harry?” Dean asked eagerly.
Harry knew Dean and Seamus wanted to try out for Beater and now that the Weasley twins had graduated there were two spots open.
“Saturday I thought. After lunch.”
“Well, you’d better brace yourself.” Hermione smirked. “I reckon half Gryffindor will be there.”
“Why’s that?” Ron asked. “There are only four spots open. It’s not like we need a whole new team.”
“Yeah, but the captain is The Chosen One.” Ginny said teasingly.
“Oh shut up.” Harry laughed.
He raised from his chair. “I’m going to bed.” he announced. He quickly kissed Ginny on the lips before he walked towards the staircase that led to the boys dormitories. “Goodnight!”
Lucius Malfoy was crumbling on the ground, screaming in agony. He had been tortured for the last half hour by his master. He knew when he told him what he had heard, this would happen. But not telling him was no option. He always knew.
Malfoy had been released from Azkaban prison when Voldemort took over the Ministry of Magic. He had been happy then that he was a free man again and that he could serve his master. Now he silently hoped he was still in his cell. He realized he would never be a free man. He was nothing more than a slave. A puppet used to do the Dark Lord’s bidding. He didn’t even fail his master, he had just been the carrier of bad news.
“Are you sure?” Voldemort snapped.
“Yes, master.” Lucius said quivering. “I received the message from Vincent Crabbe.”
“Crabbe is dead.” Voldemort growled. “He died during the battle at the Ministry.”
“I know that, my lord. I mean Vincent Crabbe Jr.”
“His son? Of course… He is still at Hogwarts, isn’t he?”
“Yes, my lord.”
“And why, may I ask, are you in contact with him? Children of Death Eaters are not allowed to join us until they are from under Dumbledore’s big nose unless I say otherwise!” Voldemort said viciously.
“My lord…” Lucius begged. “Please.”
“Of course…” Voldemort realized. “You have been using him to solve your pathetic family problems once it became apparent your worthless son chose the wrong side!”
“He didn’t… Draco hasn’t – “
“Silence!” Voldemort yelled. “Your son has chosen the side of Albus Dumbledore and Harry Potter, Lucius, and you know it. I will make sure he will be killed. Be happy you won’t be yourself… for now.”
“Please, my lord. Have mercy.”
“Mercy?” Voldemort laughed his high cruel laugh. “Crucio!”
“It has been a long time since you had a dream like that, hasn’t it?” Ginny asked.
Harry, Ginny, Ron, Hermione and Neville were having breakfast together. Today would be their first day of classes. Harry had told his friends about the dream he had that night, about Voldemort and Lucius Malfoy.
“Yes. I don’t understand.” Harry said. “Snape said I mastered Occlumency and he taught me to block my mind permanently. Even when I’m sleeping…”
“You should talk to him.” Hermione said. “Or to Dumbledore.”
Harry nodded. “Maybe I will.”
Professor McGonagall chose that moment to appear beside them with their class schedules for that year.
“Well, if you want to talk to Snape you won’t have to wait long.” Ron said as he quickly scanned his schedule. “Potions is our first class.”
“Followed by Defence Against the Dark Arts.” Neville said. “I wonder what the new teacher will be like.”
“He’s alright.” Harry said. “I think we can pretty much expect the same as last year with Tonks.”
“He’s a member of the Order of the Phoenix too.” Hermione explained when she saw Neville’s blank face.
The first Potions class for the sixth years was extremely difficult. Snape asked them to brew the Draught of Living Death, a very powerful sleeping potion. After class, Harry told his friends he would catch up with them later and hung back until everyone had left the dungeon.
“Professor?” he said nervously. Although Snape’s attitude had drastically changed over the last months, like he had promised to Sirius, Harry was still nervous to talk to him.
“Can I help you, Potter?”
“Yes” Harry said. “I wanted to ask you about Occlumency.”
Snape raised his eyebrows. He knew Harry had mastered Occlumency a long time ago. They had been working on Legilimency for a while and he didn’t think Harry would have trouble with closing his mind anymore.
Harry told him everything about his dream from the night before. “That shouldn’t have happened, should it?” he asked when he had finished his story. “My mind should have blocked it. But it didn’t… Do you think I have problems with my Occlumency again?”
Snape considered his answer for a long time. “No, I don’t think you have any trouble blocking your mind.” he finally said. “What you just described to me has happened before. You have been blocking your mind automatically for months. That does not just stop.”
“Then what happened?”
“It isn’t that your Occlumency isn’t strong enough. Your Legilimency has improved drastically over the summer. You have been able to look into my mind when I close it of completely for a while now.”
“I don’t understand…”
“You used Legilimency, Potter.”
“Are you saying that I chose to see it myself?”
“Yes.” Snape said. “Unconsciously of course. But yes, you chose to see it yourself.”
Snape was looking at him piercingly, almost calculatingly. Harry recognized that look. Suddenly he realized it was the same look that Snape had given him when he found out Harry was a Parselmouth back in second year.
“Is it a bad thing?” Harry asked nervously.
“No, certainly not.” Snape reassured him. “But not a lot of wizards can use Legilimency unconsciously. There are only a few known examples of it in wizarding history. All of them were extremely powerful.”
Harry thought about what Dumbledore had told him after the Horcrux he had carried with him had been destroyed. The headmaster had said that his magic would be more powerful and that he would discover powers he never thought he possessed. This was the first time he truly realized Dumbledore had been right. And what did he know that this was only the beginning.
“I thought you said he would be alright.” Neville grumbled.
The sixth year Gryffindors were on their way to the Great Hall for lunch. They had just finished their first Defence Against the Dark Arts lesson with Kingsley Shacklebolt. The new teacher had made it clear immediately that their lessons would be strict and tough. He had already tested their defence against the more serious curses. Harry, Ron and Hermione had done alright, but Neville’s legs were still shaking uncontrollably from the hexes Kingsley had fired at him.
“I didn’t see this coming either.” Ron said.
“Well I think he’s right.” Hermione said. “We won’t learn to defend ourselves if he treats us like first years.”
“It’s a good thing you taught us a lot in the DA, Harry.” Neville said.
Over all, the DA members had performed well in class. Their classmates who weren’t part of the DA had been easy victims for Kingsley.
They stopped talking when they came downstairs and saw a very weird scene before them. Ginny and Luna had been waiting for them at the double doors of the Hall to go to lunch and were now in deep conversation with Draco Malfoy.
“What the hell?” Ron mumbled.
“Oh there you are!” Luna said happily when she saw them.
“Hi.” Harry said, looking inquisitively at his girlfriend.
Ginny merely shrugged and said: “Come on, let’s have lunch. I’m starving.”
“Hear, hear.” Ron said.
Harry made to follow them into the Great Hall, but was stopped by Malfoy. “Can I talk to you?”
“Sure…” Harry said slowly.
“Jacinta told me she joined that group you started last year.”
“Well, Weasley and Lovegood told me what you do exactly and…”
“Don’t worry.” Harry said quickly, realizing where Malfoy was going with this. “She will be perfectly safe. I won’t let her fight Death Eaters if it comes to that.”
“I know that.” Malfoy said. “But that’s not it. I want to join.”
Harry was stunned. This was the last thing he had expected. “You want to join?”
“I don’t know, Malfoy.” Harry said. “I know you broke with your family and you say that you have changed, but how can I be sure I can trust you?”
“I guess you can’t.” Malfoy said. “But I have a lot to make up for. Give me a chance. Please.”
Harry looked into the grey eyes of his former nemesis. He concentrated hard on the feelings the Slytherin was having and saw that he was not lying. Malfoy was either a very good Occlumens, which he doubted, or was truly being honest.
“I believe you.” he said finally. “But I can’t guarantee you that the others will. And you can’t really blame them if they don’t.”
“I know.” Malfoy said. “But you trust me?”
ou’ll give me a chance?”
“I can’t just decide that by myself.” Harry said. “We didn’t really plan to accept new members, except for Jacinta. And Dumbledore actually asked me not to invite any Slytherins when he asked me to start the group.”
“Not all Slytherins are – “
“I know.” Harry interrupted him. “But some of them are and we can’t have them know too much about us.”
“I understand.” Malfoy said. “Thanks anyway.” He started to walk towards the doors of the Great Hall.
“I’ll talk to Dumbledore.” Harry suddenly said. “If he thinks it’s alright, it’s alright with me.”
Malfoy turned around. “Really?”
“Yeah, what the hell.” Harry said. “But I can only let you join if every member is okay with it. I owe them that much.”
“Thanks, Potter.” Malfoy said.
Harry joined his friends at the Gryffindor table and started loading his plate with food.
“So... What’s up?” Ron asked.
Harry looked over at the Slytherin table where Malfoy was sitting all by himself. “The world is going nuts. That’s what.” he said.
“Fear does not work, as long as there is hope” – Suzanne Collins (The Hunger Games)
Chapter 9: Two To Go
“So you’re actually going to do this?” Ron asked.
They were all sitting in the Gryffindor common room that night and Harry was about to leave for his training with Dumbledore.
“I promised him.” Harry said.
“I think it’s a good thing.” Hermione spoke up.
Ron looked at her in shock. “Hermione, it’s Malfoy. He has been trying to make your life miserable for five years.”
“Yes, but if Harry believes he has really changed, who are we to question it?” Hermione said. “He’s the only one of us who knows Legilimency.”
Harry shifted uncomfortably in his chair. He wished his friends wouldn’t rely too much on his Legilimency. He wasn’t that sure about it himself yet. “Well I’ve got to go.” he said. “See you guys later.
After a good hour of training Harry and Dumbledore sat down at his desk, facing each other. The headmaster always liked to talk for a while after his lessons with Harry to see how he was doing.
“Excellent work today, Harry.” Dumbledore praised. “You have mastered spells quickly that took me weeks to perfect when I was younger. You truly are becoming a very powerful wizard.”
Harry didn’t really know what to say. He was still embarrassed when Dumbledore said things like that.
“I notice you have become much more confident too. I could not be prouder of you.”
Dumbledore noticed how uncomfortable Harry felt and smiled. “I will not embarrass you any further, Harry. I do however want to talk to you about the Horcruxes.”
“Have you found another one?” Harry asked eagerly.
“I think so.” Dumbledore said. “As you recall, we already found and destroyed the locket and the ring and you have of course destroyed the diary a long time ago. That means there are still three Horcruxes out there.”
“Nagini, Hufflepuff’s cup and something from Gryffindor or Ravenclaw.” Harry summed up.
“Exactly.” Dumbledore said. “Nagini will be the most difficult to destroy, because Voldemort rarely lets her out of his side. As for the one of Gryffindor or Ravenclaw, we still have no idea what it is, so – “
“Regulus thinks it’s her diadem.” Harry interrupted.
“It is a possibility. But we still have no idea where it is hidden.” Dumbledore admitted. “I know Regulus said it was probably at Hogwarts.” he added when Harry opened his mouth to say something. “But I have searched the castle many times and I have found no traces whatsoever.”
Harry shrugged. “Hufflepuff’s cup then?”
Dumbledore nodded. “I think I know where it is hidden. I discovered a Muggle legend about a cup that is exhibited in the British Museum. Some Muggles believe that it is enchanted to bring ill-fortune to everyone who possesses it.”
“You think that’s Hufflepuff’s cup?” Harry asked a bit sceptic. “Why would Voldemort put a Horcrux in a Muggle museum?”
“Think about it, Harry.” Dumbledore said. “Voldemort still believes that he is the only one who knows about his Horcruxes. He probably thinks that on the off-chance that someone would find out about them, they would never expect one to be in the Muggle world. Everyone knows Voldemort despises everything about Muggles, despite his own background.”
“I guess it does make sense.” Harry said. “But what about protecting it?”
“That’s our advantage here.” Dumbledore smiled. “I don’t think the cup will be protected as effectively as the other Horcruxes. Voldemort thinks the cup is perfectly safe.”
“So are we going to get it?” Harry asked eagerly.
“You want to come with me?”
“Alright then.” Dumbledore smiled. “I thought of going this Saturday, at night time. The museum will be closed then. Does that suit you?”
“Oh. I planned the first DA meeting of the year Saturday.” Harry realized. “But it’s okay, I can move it.”
“Very well. I’ll come and get you from the Gryffindor common room on Saturday.” Dumbledore promised. “And speaking of the DA. I heard that young miss Malfoy will be joining you this year?”
“Oh yes.” Harry said. “I told her she was too young last year, but Dennis Creevey was also in his second year when he joined, so I didn’t really have a choice.”
“I don’t blame you, Harry.” Dumbledore smiled. “I know it is not easy to refuse her something. But I expect you will not let her get into harm’s way.”
“Of course not.”
“Very well. That is all I wanted to say to you, Harry. You can go, except if you wanted to talk to me about something?”
“Yes actually.” Harry said. “I talked to Draco Malfoy today…”
“Did you now?” Dumbledore asked, sounding amused.
“Er, yes…” Harry said. “He heard about Dumbledore’s Army and he said he wanted to join too.”
Dumbledore didn’t seem at all surprised. “And what did you tell him?”
“That I would talk to you about it.” Harry said. “I mean, you asked me not to invite any Slytherins last year.”
“I did.” Dumbledore confirmed. “But I do not think Draco Malfoy can be considered a regular Slytherin anymore.”
“You think we should let him join?”
“That is entirely up to you, Harry.” Dumbledore said. “I gave you a free hand last year when you formed the group and I stand by that decision. I completely trust your judgement.”
“But I don’t know…” Harry said. “He seems to have changed, but he’s still Draco Malfoy. I only want people in the DA that I can trust with my life. And I am not sure I could ever trust Malfoy completely.”
“I totally understand that.” Dumbledore told him. “But I know that you have improved tremendously with your Legilimency, Harry. What does your intuition tell you when you talk to him?”
“I feel that he’s sincere.” Harry admitted.
Dumbledore nodded. “I expected so. It is your choice, Harry, but if you want to invite him, you have my support. I would however recommend conferring with the other members before you make your decision.”
“I planned to.” Harry assured him. Dumbledore mentioning Legilimency reminded him about something else he wanted to talk about with the headmaster. He told him everything about the dream he had about Voldemort and Lucius Malfoy and the conversation he had about it with Snape.
Dumbledore remained silent for a few moments after Harry’s story. “That is an interesting development.” he finally said.
“Do you think Professor Snape is right, sir?”
“Yes I most certainly do.” Dumbledore said. “Your mind seems to have unconsciously chosen to see those events.”
“But why those events?” Harry asked. “It was just Voldemort torturing Lucius Malfoy. It’s not like I learned anything important from it.”
“But maybe you did.” Dumbledore said. “Did you say that Voldemort told Lucius he would make sure Draco would be killed?”
“Yes…” Harry said slowly. He had just thought Voldemort had been tormenting Lucius by saying his son would die, he didn’t realize it might be an actual plan. He just couldn’t imagine Draco Malfoy was a priority in the plans of Voldemort. “You don’t think he’s actually planning it, do you?”
“I don’t know.” Dumbledore said. “But Draco is safe at Hogwarts at the moment, so don’t think too much about it.”
Harry and Dumbledore talked some more. The headmaster wanted to know how his first class with Kingsley had been and they discussed Harry’s plans with Dumbledore’s Army for this year. It was already after 11 o’clock when Dumbledore finally sent Harry back to Gryffindor Tower.
Harry let all the DA members know that the first meeting of the year would be on Wednesday night instead of Saturday night by changing the date on his coin. He started the meeting with introducing Jacinta as a new member and letting her sign the contract that stipulated that no one was allowed to divulge information outside of the DA. When Jacinta had signed and the contract was pinned back to the wall, Harry rose from his seat again.
“Alright everyone. Before we start practicing again I’d like to talk to all of you about something.” He looked nervously around the room. Hermione and Ginny were smiling encouragingly and Ron seemed to be a bit on edge.
“There is someone else who would like to join Dumbledore’s Army, but I thought it would be best to confer with everyone before I give him an answer.”
“Who is it?” Cho asked curiously.
Harry had never seen his fellow DA members so silent. They couldn’t have been more surprised if he had told them Voldemort himself wanted to join them.
Seamus started laughing. “It’s a joke, right?”
“No, actually.” Harry said. Looking at the stunned faces of everyone, he started to wish he hadn’t said anything.
“I expected he would want to join.” Luna said. “I talked to him a couple of times lately and he is an entirely different person than he used to be. I think he finally realized which side he belongs to.”
“Actually, it kind of makes sense.” Justin Finch-Fletchley said. “He’s been acting weird for a long time. He’s actually acting civil towards me and… my kind.” he said uncomfortably.
A short silence followed. “You know Legilimency right, Harry?” Parvati asked suddenly.
“Kind of.” Harry said non committedly.
“Oh come on, Harry!” Hermione said firmly. “You’re getting really good at it.”
“Well, then don’t you notice when someone is lying to you?” Parvati asked.
“Most of the time, yeah.” Harry said. “Malfoy seemed to be honest to me.”
“Well then I don’t think we should question Harry’s judgement.” Parvati said to the whole group.
“Shouldn’t we?” Terry Boot spoke up. “No offence, Harry, I’m sure you are right, but people make mistakes, right? Or Malfoy could be using Occlumency.”
“Both are possible.” Harry admitted.
“Maybe we should vote?” Cho offered.
“We could.” Harry said. “But Malfoy will only be joining us if everyone agrees to it. I don’t want problems in our group.”
The members discussed the matter between each other for a while. After about fifteen minutes Harry said: “Alright! Everyone in favour of inviting Malfoy, please raise your hand.”
All the Gryffindors plus Luna immediately raised their hands. The others followed a bit slower. When Terry Boot and Michael Corner had raised their hands last, Harry nodded. “Okay. Malfoy will be joining us starting from the next meeting then.”
A lot of their time had gone into deciding what to do about Malfoy, but the members of Dumbledore’s Army had special permission from Dumbledore to be out of their common rooms after hours, so Harry decided to revise some things from last year.
“I thought we could start with the Patronus charm.” he said. “I remember about half of you were already able to perform a corporeal Patronus. Let’s see how you do.”
As the members started practicing the Patronus charm, Harry walked over to Hermione and Luna.
“Hi Harry.” Luna said happily.
“Hi.” Harry said. “You two don’t have a lot of trouble with the Patronus charm right?”
“Not really, no.” Hermione said and Luna shook her head.
“Do you think you could teach Jacinta the stuff that we saw last year during the meetings? You two are pretty much the best and fastest with spells, so then I could go on with the rest of the group.”
“Oh yeah sure!” Hermione said. “She won’t be able to follow if she doesn’t learn everything from last year. We’ll make sure she catches up.”
Harry circled the room inspecting his classmates. He was happy to see that Seamus and Dean were both having little trouble with the spell. They had both been having difficulty with it last year. A large silver horse caught his attention.
“That’s a pretty powerful Patronus.” Harry said. “Must have been a good memory.”
“We made some pretty good memories on that couch.” Ginny smirked.
Harry laughed and walked on.
A large silver lion galloped through the Room of Requirement. Harry raised his eyebrows. He didn’t recognize this one. He looked around him and saw Neville standing there with his wand still raised and his mouth half open.
“I did it.” he whispered.
“Fantastic Neville!” Harry said. “Great job.”
Neville grinned broadly. “I thought I’d never be able to do it.”
“You can do anything if you put your mind to it, Neville.” Harry said. “Confidence can get you very far.”
“Harry, do you know what time it is?” Hermione asked a while later.
Harry looked at his watch and was surprised to see it was almost midnight. “Alright everyone, that’s it for tonight! We’d better get to our common rooms if we don’t want to get into trouble.”
“But Dumbledore released us from curfew.” Dean said. “We can stay out as long as we want.”
“I know, but we’d better not push it.” Harry smiled. “And we still have classes during the day. We shouldn’t forget to get some sleep once in a while. Great job everyone! Watch your coins for the next meeting.”
The first week of classes passed by rather quickly. Due to the fact that they were able to drop several subjects after they had taken their O.W.L.’s their schedules weren’t as busy as they used to be. The amount of homework the teachers dropped on them didn’t decrease however. Harry and his friends spent all Saturday morning working. Ginny also had a pile of work to do, seeing as she had just started her O.W.L. year.
After lunch they happily made their way to the Quidditch pitch, excited to finally play again. When Harry came out of the dressing rooms with Ron and Katie he realized Hermione had been wrong. Half Gryffindor didn't show up. All of them did.
“Oh bloody hell.”
Ron started laughing when he saw Harry’s face. “Good luck mate.”
“Help me.” Harry mumbled.
“Don’t worry, Harry.” Katie said, also laughing. “We’ll stay with you.”
“Oh shut it.” Harry said while Ron and Katie were roaring with laughter.
He walked towards the large group of people who were waiting for the try-outs to start. “Alright everyone.” Harry said loudly. “There are far too much of you obviously, even for try-outs, so here’s what we are going to do. Divide yourself into groups of ten. Each group will in turn fly a couple of rounds around the pitch. I will select the best flyers to try-out for the vacant positions in the team.”
“Good call, mate.” Ron said when it became apparent that the first groups had no business even holding a broom.
“Imagine you had let some of them try out for Beater. Madam Pomfrey would have killed us.” Katie agreed.
After what seemed like a very long time, Harry finally had selected about twenty students who would be trying out for the vacant positions. He decided to start with the Chasers and was happy to see that Ginny was outflying most of them easily.
The competition for the second Chaser spot was closer. Jacinta had decided to try out after all. She was a good flyer and was quicker than most of the candidates, but she was no match for them when it came to power. It broke his heart to do so, but Harry knew he had to keep his integrity as captain, so he chose Parvati Patil as the third Chaser.
The two new Beaters were, as expected, Seamus Finnigan and Dean Thomas. The other candidates for Beaters weren’t bad flyers, but were still very young and lacked the power to compete with them.
After apologizing to the students that hadn’t been chosen and telling them they would be called upon in case a player was injured, Harry turned to his new team. He thought they had a very good chance of winning the Quidditch Cup again. Ron had shown his qualities as a Keeper last year and was only improving. Katie was still there and Harry was sure she would pass her experience to Ginny and Parvati. Dean and Seamus weren’t the same as the Weasley twins, but were fair Beaters nonetheless and Harry expected them to improve as they started training with the team.
“Looks like a decent team, right?” Ron said.
“Sure does.” Harry smiled at his new team mates. “Let’s see. Tuesday night alright for everyone for our first practice? Let’s say 7 o’clock.”
The four new team members agreed and returned to the castle. Harry, Ron and Katie returned to the dressing rooms to change out of their red Gryffindor robes.
“It’s going to be weird, don’t you think?” Katie asked suddenly.
Ron looked puzzled, but Harry knew what she meant. Ron had only been on the team for a year after all.
“Yeah.” he agreed. “It’s certainly going to be different. But we’ll do fine.”
That night Harry was sitting in the common room with Ginny, Ron and Hermione. Hermione was reading while the other three discussed Harry’s plans with the Quidditch team. Around 9 o’clock the portrait hole opened and Dumbledore entered the common room.
“Good evening all.” the headmaster said politely. “Harry, would you please come with me?”
“Oh right, I totally forgot!” Ron said.
“Good luck, Harry!” Hermione said as Harry stood up and gave Ginny a quick kiss.
“I’ll wait up for you.” Ginny said softly.
The other DA members from Gryffindor watched Harry leave a bit worried. The last time Dumbledore had come and get him from the common room they had ended up fighting Death Eaters at Grimmauld Place.
“So are you ready to go, Harry?” Dumbledore asked when they were outside of the Fat Lady.
“Definitely.” They walked quickly through the halls. “Are we apparating?”
“Yes.” Dumbledore said. “But we have to leave the grounds first. It is not – “
“Possible to apparate or disapparate at Hogwarts. Yeah I know.” Harry said quickly.
Dumbledore smiled. “I see you still spend a lot of time with Miss Granger.”
They left the castle and crossed the grounds towards the gates with the winged boars. When they had crossed the boundaries Dumbledore asked Harry to take his arm and apparated them away.
When the sickening feeling of being squeezed together disappeared, Harry opened his eyes. He was surprised to see that they had apparated directly into the museum.
“Won’t we trigger any alarms?” Harry asked silently.
“I doubt we will.” Dumbledore said. “Muggle alarm systems are very effective in their world, but I’m afraid they are very easy to get around for witches and wizards. Ah, there it is.”
Dumbledore quickly walked towards a corner of the hall they were in with Harry in his wake. Harry saw a small golden cup in a glass showcase. When he examined it closer he saw it was engraved with a small image of a badger.
“Do you think we can touch it?” he asked nervously. He remembered that Dumbledore had told him not to touch the ring when they found it and that the headmaster and Bill Weasley had had a lot of work to remove all the curses on it.
“I believe so, but we will have to use a freezing charm first so there will be no alarm when we remove the showcase.”
Dumbledore pointed his wand at the glass. Then he carefully levitated it. Harry held his breath, but everything remained silent. Dumbledore observe the cup slowly.
“I can trace no curses on this one.” he finally said. “I believe it is safe for us to touch.”
“Why were there curses on the ring and not on the cup?” Harry asked.
“Oh the ring has been in the Gaunt and Slytherin family for generations.” Dumbledore said. “I rather not think about what has happened to it during all those years.”
“So they weren’t curses that Voldemort put on it?”
“No. Not most of them at least. And I do not think Voldemort thought it necessary for this one. As I said he believes it will never be found here.”
Without further ado, Dumbledore reached forward and took the cup.
“Now let us go back to Hogwarts and destroy this one.” Dumbledore said.
He put the Horcrux away in his coat and offered his arm to Harry, who closed his eyes in anticipation. When he opened them he was looking straight into the black, vicious eyes of Bellatrix Lestrange.
The female Death Eater let out a triumphant laugh and pointed her wand at him, but Harry was faster: “Expelliarmus!”
Bellatrix could barely block it in time and by the time she had recovered Harry had already thrown an Impediment jinx at her. She was thrown backwards several feet.
Meanwhile Dumbledore was duelling with a hooded Death Eater. Harry looked around him, his wand still pointed at where Bellatrix had fallen, and saw to his relief that there were only this two.
Bellatrix and the other Death Eater quickly realized they were no match for Harry and Dumbledore and disapparated.
“Are you alright, Harry?” Dumbledore asked.
“Yeah, I’m okay.”
“That were some rather quick duelling skills you showed there.” Dumbledore said. “I am impressed. Bellatrix Lestrange is an accomplished duellist and a merciless opponent.”
“Do you know who the other one was?”
“A rather less accomplished duellist. Fenrir Greyback, if I can judge by the smell.”
Dumbledore quickly opened the gates so they could enter the grounds in case they came back with back up. “What were they doing here?” Harry asked a they were walking up to the castle.
“I believe Voldemort has put guards to watch my school.” Dumbledore said dryly. “He certainly has found out about you by now as even the Daily Prophet has already printed that you are alive. Plus most of the members of the Order of the Phoenix and some Ministry officials are staying at the castle at the moment.”
“But they can’t get in right?”
“No, it appears they are waiting for you to come out.” Dumbledore said. “Luckily Voldemort is still thick enough to underestimate you.”
They walked up the marble staircases to the seventh floor.
“How would you like to close the evening with destroying a part of Voldemort’s soul?” Dumbledore asked once they were in his office.
“That would be very satisfying.” Harry grinned.
Dumbledore put the cup on the same table where Sirius had destroyed the locket months ago. Then he took the sword and handed it to Harry.
“Will it do something?” Harry asked nervously. He remembered what had happened when Sirius had opened the locket.
“I do not think so, no.” Dumbledore said. “It is entirely different than the locket.”
Harry lifted the sword high and forcefully stabbed the cup with it. They heard a shrill, high-pitched shriek and felt a cold breeze. And then the cup was destroyed.
“Very good, Harry.” Dumbledore said. “Well I think we have earned ourselves a drink after our accomplishments of tonight.”
He gave Harry a bottle of butterbeer and poured himself a glass of elderflower wine. Dumbledore raised his glass as if to toast and said: “Two to go.”
“He who fights monsters must take care that he doesn’t become one himself” – Anthony Horowitz (Scorpia Rising)
Chapter 10: New Powers and Old Talents
“Good afternoon, class. Put your books away. You won’t be needing them today.”
Kingsley started his second week of teaching the same way he started his first. They hadn’t opened a book in his classes yet.
“We are going to practice duelling today. I understand that Professor Tonks has done some excellent work with you in that area, but there’s no such thing as too much practice when it comes to fighting the Dark Arts, so let’s see what you’ve got. Longbottom, Goyle. You’re up.”
Neville and Goyle stood up and joined Kingsley at the front of the class room. Harry was glad to see how confident Neville looked. Two years ago he would have been trembling with fear, but now he stood in front of Goyle with his head held high and a determinate expression on his face.
“Alright.” Kingsley said. “You have my permission to use every curse and counter curse you have knowledge of. As long as it is legal of course.”
Neville and Goyle faced each other and bowed.
“Now duel!” Kingsley said.
Neville immediately fired a stunning spell at his opponent that narrowly missed. Goyle fired back with a knee-reversal hex, but Neville easily blocked it.
Neville used a non-verbal spell next and suddenly Goyle was dangling in the air upside down by his ankle, revealing a pair of rather dirty underpants. The whole class roared with laughter and even Kingsley had to stop himself from laughing. Neville disarmed Goyle and let him down.
“Excellent work, Neville!” Kingsley said. “10 points to Gryffindor.”
Kingsley called them to the front two by two to demonstrate their duel. It was again clear which class mates had been taught by Harry. The DA members had little difficulty defeating others and when two DA members faced each other, the duel was much more spectacular than the others as they used much more advanced spells.
“We have time for one more, I think.” Kingsley announced towards the end of the lesson. “Potter, Malfoy. What about you?”
Harry stood up from behind his desk and walked to the front of the class. Malfoy followed grudgingly.
Despite the fact that Dumbledore wanted to keep Harry’s new powers quiet, it wasn’t a secret anymore that he had come back stronger after the holidays. Harry tried not to show that he had little difficulty in his classes, but still it was clear for all his class mates to see how much his confidence and powers had grown.
The class was dead quiet when the two boys faced each other. It was commonly known that Harry and Malfoy had hated each other from their first day at Hogwarts. Only the DA members knew about the recent rapprochement between the two enemies.
Harry and Malfoy respectfully bowed to each other and waited for Kingsley to give the signal.
For a moment, neither of them acted. Then Harry fired a full body-bind towards his opponent, but Malfoy blocked it. The following stunning spell came too fast for the Slytherin to raise a new shield and he quickly jumped aside.
Malfoy finally stroke back with a disarming spell, but it wasn’t nearly strong enough to trouble Harry. What followed happened too fast for most of them to follow.
In barely a second Malfoy had been disarmed, petrified, bound in robes and pinned to the wall of the classroom. He didn’t stand a chance.
“Incredible spell-work, Harry!” Kingsley said while the rest of the class was applauding. “10 points to Gryffindor.”
The bell rang and everyone hurried outside for the break. Malfoy – who had been released from his sticky position by Kingsley – walked over to where Harry, Ron, Hermione and Neville were still standing.
“That was some fast thinking, Potter.” he said, not unfriendly.
“Thanks.” Harry said, suppressing a grin. “So, you still want to join the DA then?”
Malfoy’s face seemed to light up for a moment, before he quickly took his indifferent composure again.
“Yeah, sure. If it’s okay with you guys.”
Harry nodded. He grabbed one of Hermione’s enchanted coins out of his bag and handed it to him.
“This will tell you when the next meeting is. You can also use it to send short messages. Those will only be visible for us – that is to say, Hermione, Neville, Luna, the Weasleys and me.”
Harry quickly showed Malfoy how to use the coin.
“Okay, thanks.” the Slytherin said. “And what if you guys send a message? Is it visible for everyone or only for you too?”
“We can decide that when we send the message.” Harry said. “Make sure you don’t lose your coin. We have gotten great use out of them already. It probably saved Hermione’s life over the summer.”
Draco seemed to be on the verge of asking what happened, but apparently decided that didn’t suit his cool demeanour. Finally, he just muttered a ‘thanks, bye’ and left the class room.
Harry looked forward to the next DA meeting a bit more apprehensively than usual. Everyone had agreed to give Malfoy a chance, but he knew most of them had just done so because he had. They didn’t really trust the Slytherin and he couldn’t blame them for that. If he was honest with himself, he knew he didn’t completely trust it either, but Malfoy had signed the magical contract that swore every member to secrecy. He wouldn’t be able to tell anyone what exactly went on in the Room of Requirement and who was part of the DA.
“Good evening all of you.” Harry said loudly. “As you all know we have a new member, Draco Malfoy. I think you all know him so we’ll skip the introductions and start practicing immediately.”
Harry hoped he would spare them all an awkward moment.
“Doesn’t he have to sign the contract?” Dennis asked.
“Already did.” Harry said. “Okay, pair up. We are going to work on those nonverbal shield charms today.”
His statement was followed by a lot of groans. The only nonverbal spell most of them had ever used until this year was Snape’s Levicorpus spell that Harry had taught them.
Dumbledore had taught Harry a varied range of shield charms that could only be performed nonverbally and Harry wanted the DA members to learn them too, but most of them had a lot of trouble with it.
When they had started practicing, Harry walked over to Malfoy.
“You’d better join your sister and Hermione and Luna. They’ll bring you up to speed in a few weeks and then you can join the group.”
Malfoy nodded and walked over to them.
Luna greeted him brightly. Malfoy seemed to be surprised by her kindness and Harry and Hermione smirked at each other, amused by the look on the Slytherin’s face.
The meeting progressed without any incidents and after about two hours, Harry called it a night.
“Well, that went well.” Ginny said.
Harry shrugged. Ron and Hermione had told him that Malfoy had hardly said a word during the meeting but had been working quite hard.
“He’s going to have to loosen up a little if he wants to be a part of this.” he said. “Dumbledore’s Army is not just about practicing spells.”
“I know.” Ginny said patiently. “But give him some time. It can’t be easy for him.”
Harry realized what she meant. Malfoy had voluntarily joined a group full of people that had hated him for years. In some ways, that did take courage.
Now that Harry’s days were busy again, the weeks started to pass quickly. His lessons with Snape now consisted of Harry attacking and invading Snape’s mind easier each week and Snape teaching Harry some more advanced spells that he had invented himself. Some of them were quite dangerous and Snape insisted that Harry would only use them when necessary.
During his meetings with Dumbledore they almost exclusively talked about the Horcruxes now, but they seemed to be stuck. They knew they were still two out there. Nagini was one of them, but they realized they wouldn’t be able to get to her before they got to Voldemort, except if they were ridiculously lucky. They didn’t know a thing about the other one, except that it was once owned by Rowena Ravenclaw and that it was hidden somewhere in the school. Seeing as Dumbledore had been at Hogwarts for ages and never came across any indication that there was a Horcrux hidden here, Harry didn’t believe they would find it anytime soon.
Harry had more success with the new Gryffindor Quidditch team. Ron and Katie performed just as well as they had always done and Harry was very satisfied with the choices he had made at the try-outs. Ginny had always been a good flyer, but a few weeks of training with the team had already been enough for her to improve tremendously. She was swift as an arrow and scored very easily.
Harry was positively surprised at the progress Parvati had made. He knew his classmate was never very fond of brooms when she was younger and he had been quite surprised when she turned up at the try outs in September. Harry had thought then that with a bit of work she could develop a fair Chaser, but she would never reach the level of Ginny and Katie. Despite that, Parvati had already proven herself during the practices. She was able to steal a Quaffle without you even noticing she was that close to you and she rarely gave a bad pass.
The new Beaters weren’t of the same category of Fred and George Weasley, but were performing quite well nonetheless. A couple of weeks of practices were enough for them to adjust their game to each other. The force of Seamus and the accuracy of Dean made a perfect combination.
A lot of the Gryffindors – who had never seen the new team practice – had been complaining about the new captain. Not only were Harry’s best friend and girlfriend part of the team, Harry had also chosen three of his classmates at the try-outs. Harry didn’t care too much about it. He knew they had a fair shot at the Quidditch Cup with this team and everyone would see that soon enough.
Harry realized more and more what effect the Horcrux he had carried with him had had on his magical abilities. As classes progressed, the gap between him and most of the other students grew continually. They were now using nonverbal magic in nearly every class and while most of the students struggled with it, Harry had no trouble with it. Even Hermione had to admit that she was no longer the star pupil this year.
At the end of the DA meeting the night before Halloween, Hermione and Luna told Harry that they had succeeded in teaching Jacinta and Draco everything they had learned last year. Harry told them they could start practicing with the group starting next meeting. Jacinta was overjoyed, but Draco just nodded. He even seemed to be a bit anxious.
When Hermione, Luna and Jacinta left, Harry turned around to follow them.
“I’ll never be accepted in this group. What was I thinking?”
Harry turned back to Malfoy. He couldn’t believe it. The obnoxious rich boy was afraid of rejection.
“They will. Just give it some time.” Harry said.
Malfoy narrowed his eyes.
“You can’t expect them to like you after everything that happened in the past. Just give everyone some time to get used to it and it’ll be okay.”
“What makes you say that?” Malfoy asked slowly.
“Well, you just said they’ll never accept you…”
“I didn’t say anything!”
“Yes you did…” Harry said. “Just a minute ago.”
Malfoy shook his head. “No I didn’t. I didn’t say a word.”
“Don’t yank my wand Malfoy, I’m not in the mood.” Harry warned.
“I’m not yanking your wand!”
“You – “ Harry stammered. “You really didn’t say anything?”
Now he came to think of it, it wasn’t anything like Malfoy to voice his feelings. Especially not to Harry.
Malfoy looked at him with a stunned expression on his face.
“Were you reading my mind, Potter?” he asked threateningly.
“No.” Harry said firmly. “Well, I didn’t mean to anyway.”
“Are you telling me you can do Legilimency?”
There didn’t seem to be a point denying it.
“Kind of.” Harry said non committedly. “Sorry I have to go.” And without another word he left the Room of Requirement, leaving a confused and irritated Malfoy.
He quickly descended the stairs all the way down to the dungeon. He stormed down the corridor of Snape’s office and banged on his door. He already stood in front of the Potions Master’s desk when he said to come in.
“Potter!” Snape said surprised.
He stood up from his desk, walked to the door and after a quick look outside he closed it.
“Let me tell you how this works. You knock, I tell you to come in and then you enter.”
“Sorry, Professor.” Harry said urgently. “But I have to talk to you about something.”
Snape narrowed his eyes. Although their relationship had improved drastically, he thought it very unlikely that Harry would come to him with a problem that didn’t have anything to do with Occlumency or Legilimency. And even then he thought that Potter would rather go to Dumbledore.
“Sit down.” he finally said. “Tell me.”
“I looked into Malfoy’s mind.” Harry said bluntly.
“Shocker.” Snape said dryly. “Seeing as you have become quite advanced at Legilimency and Mr Malfoy is as good an Occlumens as a troll, I’d think it would be more of a surprise if you weren’t able to look into his mind.”
“It’s not like that.” Harry said, shaking his head. “I didn’t mean to look into his mind… I just did.”
“You mean you were able to sense a thought from him? A feeling, perhaps?”
Harry nodded. “I wasn’t even looking at him. I had my back turned and then I heard it.”
“You heard it?”
“Yes, I thought he had actually spoken out loud, but he said he didn’t.”
Snape looked at him in awe. Harry found it strange to receive such a look from the man who had hated him for so long.
“That is quite impressive.” Snape said after a long silence.
“Is it normal?”
“It is uncommon.” Snape said, considering his words carefully. “But it is not abnormal. Seeing as you already had that vision of the Dark Lord and Lucius Malfoy, I would think that this is just the next step. You seem to be a quite talented Legilimens, Potter.”
“Thank you, sir.” Harry said slowly.
This had only been the second time in his memory that Snape had given him a compliment.
“Now off you go. It’s after curfew. You should be in your common room.”
When Harry finally reached Gryffindor tower he immediately told his friends what had happened. After he finished his story they all looked at him with open mouths.
“That is amazing, Harry!” Hermione said finally.
“Of course! That means you can use Legilimency without even using eye contact.”
“Yeah, but I only did it this once…” Harry said slowly. “Without even knowing I was doing it.”
“Yes, but you did it.” Hermione said. “You just have to learn how to control it.”
Harry had to refrain from laughing when he saw the amazed faces of his friends.
“You know what the weirdest part is?” Ron said after a long silence. “That Malfoy has feelings.”
That Saturday, the first Quidditch game of the season was planned. As usual the season opener was Gryffindor versus Slytherin.
“Alright, team.” Harry said while he was pinning his captain badge on his scarlet robes. “I received the starting seven of Slytherin’s team. Seems like they have gone through quite some changes too. Malfoy is the only player left from their team from last year.”
“What?” Katie asked surprised. “Montague and Warrington were the only ones that graduated.”
“Yeah I know.” Harry said.
He looked at the piece of parchment in his hand. The only name he vaguely recognized was Graham Pritchard, but he didn’t even really know him.
“I don’t know any of this people.” he announced.
He quickly read the names out loud.
“Pritchard is a third year.” Ginny said. “The rest of them I have never heard of.”
Harry nodded. “Well, we don’t seem to know much about our opponent then, I’m afraid. But if we just play our game, we’ll be fine.”
He looked at his team mates. Katie Bell didn’t seem in the least bit nervous. She never was before matches, not even when the game would decide who won the Quidditch Cup. Ron and Ginny seemed to have their nerves well under control, but the other three team members looked terrified. Harry felt for them when he thought about his first Quidditch game.
“It’ll be fine.” he told them. “Just play like you have played for the last two months and Slytherin doesn’t stand a chance.”
“Yeah, we destroyed them last year!” Ron said.
“With half another team.” Parvati said softly.
“Doesn’t matter.” Harry said. “I know your first game is scary, but I have full confidence in all of you. I chose you myself and I stand by that choice.”
“Were you nervous for your first game?” Dean asked.
“Of course I was.”
“Didn’t seem to be. You were playing very good.” Seamus said.
“Yeah right up till Quirrell jinxed your broom.” Ron laughed.
The others paled even more after these words.
“Well, we don’t have any Death Eaters in the stands today, so don’t mind that now.” Harry said quickly, shooting Ron a warning look. “We’ve got this. I know it. We have been practicing together for two months and we were never better than right now. Now, we’re going to go out there and we’re going to show them all that Gryffindor still has an amazing team. You all ready?”
They all stood up and grabbed their brooms, looking a lot more confident.
“Nice peptalk.” Katie mumbled as she stood next to Harry, waiting to walk upon the field. “Oliver could learn a thing or two from you.”
“Oh shut up.” Harry mumbled back. “Let’s go!” he said to his team and they all followed him on the pitch.
“Captains, shake hands.” Madam Hooch ordered when the Gryffindor and Slytherin team were facing each other in the middle of the pitch.
Harry shook Malfoy’s hand and glanced at Slytherin’s new team. The oldest player, except for Malfoy, seemed to be only a third year.
“Good luck.” Harry muttered.
“You too.” Malfoy said stiffly.
He didn’t seem to be very confident in the abilities of his new team.
“Ready for another flyover?” Katie smirked. “Look at them. They’re terrified.”
“Don’t count your chickens before they are hatched.” Harry reminded her.
“You really are like Oliver.”
“Are you done chitchatting?” Madam Hooch suddenly said. “As always, I want a nice clean game. Confrontations between Gryffindor and Slytherin have gone out of control in the past, I don’t want any of this today. Captains, I trust you will guide your teams with responsibility.”
Harry and Malfoy both nodded. Madam Hooch opened the chest with the balls and released the bludgers and the snitch.
“Mount your brooms.”
She tossed the Quaffle in the air and fourteen broomsticks sped off to the sky.
“Oh, it looks like they have started already. Gryffindor plays against Slytherin today. I think Gryffindor has the best chance to win. Their captain is Harry Potter. I really like him. He’s always nice to me.”
Harry’s head jerked towards the commentary podium. He had forgotten that the regular Quidditch commentator, Lee Jordan, had graduated last year. He knew Professor McGonagall was in charge of everything that had to do with the Quidditch games and he couldn’t believe she actually appointed Luna Lovegood.
“Ginny has the Quaffle. She’s very nice too. We always have fun together.”
“Miss Lovegood.” Professor McGonagall said as Harry flew over them. “Maybe you could tell us something about the match?”
“Oh yes of course.” Luna said. “Very nice save from Ronald Weasley. He’s very funny. A lot of girls in Ravenclaw like him, but I think he already likes Hermione.”
“What the hell.” Ron said as Harry passed him. “McGonagall’s definitely gone off her rocker now.”
Harry found it hard to keep his head in the game while he was listening to Luna’s commentary.
“Look at that cloud.” Luna suddenly said. “It looks exactly like a Crumple-Horned Snorkack.”
“It does Professor, look!” Luna said. “That there is the horn and then that is his tail…”
“140 to 30 for Gryffindor!” McGonagall shouted in the megaphone.
“Really?” Luna said surprised. “That’s really fast.”
Harry passed Malfoy in the air, trying to hold himself together until he had found the Snitch. Malfoy had a strange expression on his face. If Harry hadn’t known better he would think he was trying to stop himself from laughing too.
Ginny and Katie scored each two more goals, bringing the score to 180 to 30. And then he finally spotted the Snitch. It was flying towards the goalposts of Slytherin.
Harry immediately chased after it. A movement in the corner of his eye told him that Malfoy was already chasing after him. He risked it to quickly look behind him and he saw that Malfoy couldn’t keep up with him. When he looked in front of him again he saw the terrified face of the Slytherin keeper, who probably thought Harry wanted to knock him of his broom.
“Crap.” Harry muttered.
He quickly swirled around the goalposts. For a moment he was afraid that he would have lost the Snitch, but then he saw that it was still a couple of yards before him. He caught the Snitch a fraction of a second after Parvati had scored another goal for Gryffindor.
“Oh, I think Harry has caught the Snitch!” Luna said excitedly. “I thought he would. He’s a really good Seeker, you know.”
“Gryffindor wins 330 to 30!” McGonagall shouted in the megaphone, but she didn’t seem as irritated with Luna now that her house had beaten Slytherin again.
Harry landed and was immediately grabbed in hugs from his team mates.
“Great flying, mate!” Ron said. “I thought you wouldn’t be able to recover after that swirl.”
“Great game.” Ginny smiled.
“You too.” Harry grinned. “All of you! You were amazing. Really.”
They didn’t have a lot of carefree days during this time, but that night none of them thought about Voldemort or his Death Eaters for a moment. That night they celebrated.
“Youth is happy because it has the capacity to see beauty. Anyone who keeps the ability to see beauty never grows old” – Franz Kafka