Author’s Note: This is the sequel to Promises
Unbroken. If you have not all ready
read PU, I highly suggest doing so, else this story will probably make no sense
whatsoever. Be advised that this is an
Alternate Universe tale as well. That
said, enjoy the story—and let the darkness come.
Disclaimer: The characters and settings of Harry
Potter belong to the wonderful and talented J.K. Rowling, whom I thank very
much for the loan of her playground.
The plot, however, and anything you do not recognize, belongs to
me. I am not making any profit from the
writing and display of this story, except for gratification of my ego and
quenching my thirst to write.
Second Author’s Note: If you haven’t read my other new story, Forget Me Not: A Story
of Broken Promises, please check it out.
Events in Forget Me Not have later (slight) significance in this
universe. Click on my user name to
access all my stories.
The Sequel to Promises Unbroken
Chapter Three: Slytherin vs.
“I expected Sirius to bring me,” Harry
said quietly, hoping the words didn’t come out wrong. After all, he would have thought that Hogwarts needed its
headmaster, now more than ever. But
Remus only smiled.
“Sirius is about as testy as humanly
possible right now, Harry,” he replied.
“He and your dad would only wind up yelling at one another and get in
some pointless fight.” Remus shrugged.
“Besides, I drew the short straw.”
The headmaster chuckled slightly. “Never mind. It’s a Muggle thing; I doubt you’ve heard of it. Needless to say, though, I’m the one who got
stuck with the job of bringing your dad bad news.”
“What bad news?” Harry asked carefully,
not liking the sound of that at all.
But his father’s old friend didn’t answer
as they made their way into St. Mungo’s, bypassing the witch at the information
desk and moving along in silence.
Harry’s confused look seemed to wash over Remus without any effect, and
finally he sighed, knowing that he’d find out soon enough. However, keeping his frustration inside was
difficult, and part of Harry desperately wanted to explode. Every since his mother had shown up at
Hogwarts the day before, he had only come up with more questions in response to
the answers no one would give him. The
Order had met, he knew, but why he did not know. Dumbledore and Arabella Figg were both dead, as were countless
others—but beyond that, he knew almost nothing.
Breakfast that morning had proved very
interesting with almost all of the Order present, and all their children still
around. Hogwarts had become half
madhouse, half meeting at that point, and Harry had never been around a group
of adults who were so frightened.
No one said so, of course, but the tension in the air was thick and
everyone was jumpy. The attack on the
Ministry had been completely unexpected, and its consequences, Harry felt,
would linger for far longer than the summer could last.
“So where is Sirius, anyway?” he finally
“At the Ministry. He and the Aurors are still searching for
survivors.” Remus led Harry around a
corner and down another hallway. “He
was there for most of yesterday and almost all night.”
Harry swallowed. “Things are
getting bad, aren’t they?”
Remus turned to look him in the eye,
surprising Harry with how calm he looked.
“Yes, they are,” he replied evenly.
“But I wouldn’t exactly say everything is lost. Not yet.”
“Some of the parents are saying that we
ought to just surrender now,” Harry said quietly.
The comment made Remus’ head whip around;
his deep blue eyes were suddenly sharp.
There was that same strength in him that Harry had only seen once
before, the same implacability that had frightened Malfoy so much. Suddenly, the headmaster seemed dangerous. His voice was very soft, very
controlled. “Who said that, Harry?”
“I’m not sure, really…it’s just something
that Fred said he overheard,” he answered hesitantly. After all, Harry hadn’t felt that the remarks were such a big
deal, and he had no idea who had uttered them—but Remus seemed to take that
lack of confidence very seriously—too seriously.
The strange look passed, and suddenly Harry was standing next to the
Remus Lupin he’d known for all of his life.
“Well, we’re here, anyway.”
They had stopped before a nondescript
door on the Fourth Floor; there were two Aurors outside it, but they let Harry
and Remus pass without argument. Harry
knew that his mother had spent most of the early morning at the hospital;
finally, Peter, who seemed to have stayed the night, had dragged her back to
Hogwarts and forced her to go to bed.
Harry had struggled not to bombard her with questions, and had been
rewarded by Remus’ offer to take him to the hospital. He hadn’t expected it, but Harry had jumped at the chance. Being left in the dark was threatening to
drive him crazy.
But when they stepped inside his father’s
private room, Harry almost began to wish they hadn’t come. Although he’d visited his father in the hospital
before (once, in fact, had been earlier that year), Harry had never seen him
look so terrible. Livid bruises covered
his father’s face, and he looked small against the sheets…despite having
been warned about his dad’s condition, Harry felt shocked. His father’s legs were limp and lifeless
underneath the covers; it was very clear that the healers had yet to find a
solution to James Potter’s sudden paralysis.
Harry!” Still, though, the same
smile split his father’s face. “What
are you doing here?”
“Didn’t Lily tell you we were coming?”
“Well, she said someone would bring Harry
by, but I was expecting you to stay at Hogwarts.” He and Remus exchanged a significant look, then Harry’s father
turned to him with a smile. “Don’t
worry. It’s not as bad as it looks.”
“Peter said you can’t walk,” he answered
in a tiny voice.
His dad hesitated slightly. “Well…not yet,” he admitted. “But I’ll be okay. The healers are just having some problems figuring out how to fix
“But shouldn’t it be simple?” Harry
asked. “I mean, if it’s your back that’s broken, can’t they just heal it?”
Out of the corner of his eye, he noticed
“That’s what I would have thought,” his
father replied with a shrug. “But I
guess it’s a bit more complicated than that.
Right now, I can’t feel anything below my waist…but that’ll change,
Harry. Don’t worry.”
Harry bit his lip. “Are you sure?”
“Yeah, I’m sure.” A larger hand reached out to take his own as
he sat down on the bed, and Harry struggled to bit back tears that wanted to
rise. He was eleven years old, and that
was much too old to cry. Harry tried
to smile, and failed miserably. His
father squeezed his hand. “Everything
will be all right.”
He nodded, unsure of what else to do—but his father seemed so certain of
it, and Harry had to trust that. He
didn’t want to know what would happen if he couldn’t.
“So what brings you here, Remus?” His
father asked lightly, obviously changing the subject for Harry’s sake.
“I bring news,” the headmaster
replied. “Both good and bad. Which do you want first?”
“Give me the bad first,” was the
immediate response. “I don’t think
today can get much worse, anyway.”
Remus snorted. “Just you wait.”
“Oh, now I’m feeling real warm and
squishy inside. Just spit it out,
“Well, the bad news is that Fudge is
already angling to be the next Minister of Magic.”
It was a very good thing that Harry’s mum
wasn’t there, because she definitely wouldn’t have liked the words that came
out of her husband’s mouth in response to that announcement. The look on Remus’ face, however, said that
he tended to agree with James’ rather foul way of stating his opinion, and he
did not object at all to the torrent of foul language. For his part, Harry only sat on the bed and
listened; he didn’t know Cornelius Fudge all that well, but he knew enough to
know that the head of the Department of Magical Catastrophes was very political,
and about the worst leader that the Magical world could ever have. That, and even his mother hated Fudge with a
passion, which said a great deal.
Remus waited for Harry’s father to stop
cursing before he continued. “The good
news is that we think we’ve found someone who stands a chance against him.”
“That’s a relief. Who is it?”
Harry had never seen such a slack-jawed
and shocked expression color his father’s face, and in any other circumstances,
it would have been funny. Right then,
though, it was only startling—Remus couldn’t possibly be serious. His dad as the Minister of
Magic? The entire idea was insane!
After a long moment of unintelligible
stuttering, it seemed that James Potter most definitely agreed with his son’s
silent assessment. He blinked several
times, and his mouth clicked open and shut repeatedly before he seemed to gain
control of it and simply stare at his friend.
The expression he wore, though, was anything but friendly, and Harry
felt certain that if looks could kill, Remus Lupin would be at least fairly
well scorched by that one. Finally,
Harry’s dad managed to form coherent words.
“That’s a very sorry joke, mate.”
Those steady blue eyes never
wavered. “I’m not joking, James.”
“You’d better be,” Harry’s father replied
Remus just stared.
Harry’s father glared back.
The headmaster arched one slender
eyebrow, very calmly and seemingly waiting for the inevitable explosion. It didn’t take long in coming.
“No?” Remus echoed innocently.
“No,” James Potter spat. “No, as in there is no way in hell
that I’m going to take that job.
Never. Not-over-my-dead-body-never. It’s not going to happen. Not in a million years.”
“So then, tell me, James, who you would
recommend,” the headmaster responded pleasantly. “I’m certain that you know someone who is both powerful and well-known
enough to take on Fudge’s candidacy and win.
Mind you, this person also needs to be a member of the
Order—preferably in the Inner Circle, which,
as I might remind you, has grown rather small as of late.” Remus’ smile disappeared. “But I’m sure that there is someone who fits
all those requirements. Other than
Harry’s father glowered.
“We need you, James,” Remus continued in
that relentlessly gentle voice. “We
need someone who can give people confidence, who they can trust. We need someone who has proven, time and
again, that they are not afraid to do what has to be done. We need you.”
His father blinked, and Harry watched the
anger fade slowly from his face. After
a moment, he bit his lip, chewing on it thoughtfully, although he still glared
unhappily at Remus. Neither spoke for a
long while; they only stared at one another as if to see who would break
first. Finally, it was James who looked
“Make Sirius to it,” he grumbled.
A slight smile creased Remus’
features. “Will you, then?” he asked
quietly. “It’s your choice, James.”
“Yeah,” Harry’s dad snorted. “Sure it is.” He rolled his eyes.
“You’re playing dirty, you realize.
Very dirty. It’s unbecoming,
Remus. I expected better from you.”
“Must be the company I keep.”
James mumbled something under his breath
that made the headmaster smile.
“What was that?” he asked.
“I said yes, you bloody bastard!” Harry’s
father snapped, glaring. But there was
no anger in his voice, now. “Damn you!”
“Language, James,” Remus chided him, chuckling. “There are children in the room.”
Harry laughed as his father shrugged and
replied nonchalantly, “He’s heard worse.”
“Yes, but Lily hasn’t…”
“You tell her, Moony, and I’ll never
speak to you again!”
Remus laughed harder at that one. “Sure you won’t.”
Both Harry and Remus seemed to get the
exact same thought at the same time; grinning, each had lifted their wand to
bring pillows crashing down on James’ head.
However, twice the magic went into the effort, and all of a sudden, it
was raining feathers, and all three of them were laughing. Somehow, when with his family, it was easier
to forget the dark world outside; for those few moments, Harry could forget the
darkness that lurked around corners and haunted their every step.
“Severus…” the low voice hissed, and
Snape had to resist the urge to shudder.
Even after so long, it was hard to keep his voice even.
The only good thing was that they were
alone. Even Malfoy wasn’t present,
which in itself was odd, but Severus figured that if he had been uncovered, and
he was about to die, the Dark Lord wouldn’t be satisfied with killing him in
private. No, a traitor’s death was a
spectacle, a lesson for others to learn from—not something to be accomplished
quietly or in the shadows. Not where
Voldemort was concerned. Severus
supposed that a Muggle might call the Dark Lord a master showman, and immediately
wondered where such an irrelevant thought came from.
He had to fight down the urge to
scowl. Such mundane thoughts were
unworthy of a Slytherin, and proved that he’d been spending far too much time
around foolish and Muggle-loving Gryffindors—Dumbledore. The thought caught him completely unaware
and threatened to shatter his control.
Suddenly, he felt cold inside. Albus
was a Gryffindor. Only years of
experience of locking his soul away kept Severus from snapping immediately—but
the fury he felt was no less real because it was hidden. You bastard, he thought behind an
emotionless facade. He’d tried to force
himself to forget, and then had tried to move past the pain when that had
failed—but there was no hope in doing either.
Voldemort had killed Dumbledore.
He’d wept once, in private and where no
one could see him. If asked, he’d deny
it. Snape would never admit shedding
tears for the old man, even to those who would understand—and when he was
feeling honest with himself, he would admit that there were a few who would. But Severus Snape did not cry. No longer, and not any more—not for over
thirty long years had he shed a tear.
Until finding out the truth.
Albus was dead, and everything had
Remus had been right about that, he
knew. Nothing would ever be the same
again. Unfortunately, though, too much
also remained the same…so there he was, kneeling before the Dark Lord once
more, praying to whatever deity would listen that he hadn’t been uncovered as a
traitor. For the first time in his
life, Severus found himself agreeing with Sirius Black; there was almost no other
reason that he would not have known of the attack on the Ministry. Even if the Dark Lord had not expected him
to attend (which only his duties at Hogwarts could be blamed for), Severus
should have known about it. After
Lucius Malfoy and Bellatrix Lestrange, he was the highest-ranking Death Eater
in their Lord’s circle, and it made no sense for him to have been unaware of
such an important raid. At the very
least, he should have known that they were planning something.
Instead, nothing. And now he was beginning to truly feel
The command came after an uncomfortably long moment, and despite his
earlier conviction that this was not to be his execution, Snape felt
uneasy. What was going on? But he complied without hesitation. For a Death Eater, there was no other
choice. So, in silence he waited,
feeling the dark silence grow deep until Voldemort finally spoke.
“Tell me of how Hogwarts stands.”
This was not what he had expected; Snape
had to take a deep breath before replying.
“Uneasy, My Lord,” he said carefully.
“The phoenix’s arrival was unexpected, as was Lupin’s…elevation. Many members of the Order of the Phoenix
are not happy with the outcome of Dumbledore’s death.”
It was the truth, though not all of it,
and not quite a lie by any standards.
Yet sometimes Snape wondered if Voldemort sensed the half-truths and
careful dance of danger and words. He
was not yet dead, of course, but there were moments when he doubted how much
control he really had over the situation.
How many sides am I really on here? Snape asked himself silently,
feeling cold inside. But he shoved his
feelings away. He was used to doing
so. Such was the price of his
“Many are afraid, My Lord,” he continued
into the silence. “Even as the Order of
gathered at Hogwarts, those fears persisted.
Lupin is not Dumbledore, and Potter is gravely injured. The combination of these factors may drive
many to your side.”
“And what of the staff at Hogwarts? Will any of your comrades feel so
“I do not know, My Lord.” Snape hesitated. “Perhaps Vector or Trelaweny, but none of the others are so prone
to fear. Fletcher, especially, would
“I did not ask for a lecture, Severus.”
He bowed his head immediately at the semi-sharp
rebuke. “Forgive me, Master. I did not mean to presume.”
“Of course you did,” The Dark Lord
snorted. “But unintelligent followers
can only serve me in a limited capacity, and your tenacity has never surprised
me. Beware that you do not step too
far, though. My patience is limited.”
As I am well aware, he thought
silently, but responded dutifully: “Yes, My Lord.”
The Dark Lord was silent for another
moment, seemingly considering his next words.
For Snape, it was hard not to hold his breath; although Voldemort had
not indicated that he thought Severus a traitor, the possibility always
existed—and now more than ever. Take
care, Severus, he told himself quickly.
Act with prudence, and you may yet survive. A funny thought, that was; almost as funny
as it was careless. Survival, he’d
learned long ago, wasn’t something he was likely to do.
“Lupin is becoming more of an issue than
you anticipated,” the cold voice finally said, making Snape scowl
inwardly. No, Lupin is becoming more
of an issue than you anticipated, he thought acidly, but you
can’t admit that, now, can you? But
Voldemort continued, thankfully unable to discern the Death Eater’s disobedient
thoughts: “Yet with time he will undoubtedly prove himself incapable of dealing
with such pressure. Would you not
Questions didn’t come much more loaded
than that one.
“I believe it is possible, My Lord,”
Severus answered carefully.
“Good…” Voldemort said slowly, as if he
was still considering the numerous possibilities inherent in the Ministry’s
destruction. “Watch him. Carefully.”
His was not to reason why. “Yes, My Lord.”
The four remaining Misfits sat in the
Gryffindor third year boys’ dorm, stewing in their impatience and
frustration. This was the one place
where they could escape the others and speak of their secrets; Neville had
taken to sitting with Ginny in the common room, and Percy would never think to
enter the twins’ private domain for fear of what pranks they might play on him. The Misfits were careful not to abuse the
privacy, however. They knew that if
they spent too much time together the others might start to wonder, and that
could prove downright disastrous.
Especially with what they were planning.
“You are going to owe us big time after
this one, little brother,” Fred grumbled.
The pinched look on his twin’s face echoed his brother’s sentiments
“Do you want to know what’s going on, or
not?” Ron shot back.
“Well, yes, but—”
“You hate not knowing as much as we do,”
Harry pointed out levelly.
“He’s got a point there, Fred,” George
“Unfortunately. There’s a first time for everything.”
Ron reddened. “Hey!”
But Harry had to smile a bit. This was, in fact, Ron’s first workable plan;
every other idea for mischief making that he’d ever come up with had ended up
as a dismal flop in one way or another.
He’d been basking in the glory of coming up with a practical way to
uncover exactly what the Order of the Phoenix
was meeting about, but Harry didn’t mind.
All he cared about was finding out what was going on.
“Are you in or not?” he asked with a
smirk, knowing that the twins could never turn down a challenge.
“Of course we’re in,” Fred replied, just
as George moaned.
“Mum is going to kill us.”
“It’s worth it,” Ron said decisively.
His older brothers only rolled their
eyes. “Easy for you to say.”
“You’re not the one who’s going to be on
the chopping block—”
“Risking life, limb, and happiness like
pliant little sacrificial lambs,” George finished.
Harry groaned. There were times when the Weasley twins could stretch the
melodrama out just a little too far.
“So when do we go?” he asked.
“They’re meeting now, you know.”
“Yup,” Fred agreed cheerfully as they all
rose. “Mum is going to kill us.”
George nodded. “Let’s get the torture over with, then.”
Molly Weasley’s earsplitting screech
signaled Harry and Ron that all was going well. Carefully hidden underneath Harry’s Invisibility Cloak, the two
boys exchanged grins. As planned, Fred
and George had clumsily attempted to eavesdrop on the Order meeting that was in
progress, and had been caught by a vigilant Mrs. Weasley. Predictably, she was now getting into stride
for a real chewing out, overrunning all of the twins’ protests as if they
hadn’t even spoken.
“I CAN’T BELIEVE THE PAIR OF
YOU! AS IF I HAVEN’T TOLD YOU A
THOUSAND TIMES THAT YOU AREN’T OLD ENOUGH!
THE ORDER’S BUSINESS IS NO CONCERN OF YOURS—”
Ron’s grin widened as he shot Harry a
thumbs up. Fred and George had been discovered
lurking around the Great Hall’s main entranceway, staying just far enough in
the shadows to avoid casual notice.
However, their presence in that entranceway meant that Mrs. Weasley was
well clear of the side door that the professors used to gain access to the
hall. It was in that dark hallway that
Harry and Ron prowled, safely underneath the Invisibility Cloak. They’d briefly worried about what to do if
the door was shut, but luck was with them, and the two boys had found it
slightly ajar. There was just enough
space for both of them to peer into the Great Hall, and provided they didn’t
move the door, there was no way for anyone to know they were there.
Harry glanced over Ron’s shoulder at the
Marauder’s Map, checking to make sure they were alone. Mrs. Weasley had closed the main doors to
the Great Hall, so her shouting was no longer audible from within (Harry
suspected that someone else had cast a Silencing Charm to drown her out,
anyway), but she was still with Fred and George on the Map. Exchanging another victorious glance, the
boys crept forward and looked out upon the Order of the Phoenix.
And what chaos that was.
Harry had no idea that the Order of the Phoenix
was so big. The long tables had been
moved so that they formed a box, and the plain benches had been replaced with
comfortable looking chairs that ringed the outside of the square. Nearly every one of those seats was full,
and many of them were occupied by tense but familiar faces. He was slightly surprised to see several of
the professors there: Sinistra and Vector were both present, sitting side by
side with matching frowns. Missing,
rather inconspicuously, was Snape.
A pair of red haired wizards sat side by
side at the closest table; there was an empty seat next to Bill and Arthur
Weasley that Harry assumed belonged to Ron’s mother. Not to far from them, Harry’s mum sat between Peter and a witch
Harry didn’t know.
The silent and unbending Aurors sat at
the farthest table, facing the pair of troublemakers. They wore nearly identically grim expressions; dark eyes stared
out from drawn faces that had seen too much.
But the Aurors maintained their silence. As the argument raged, they simply watched, arrayed in an
unbroken line to their new leader’s right.
There were few of them, now; far fewer than there ought to have been,
but the symbolism of the unified front the Aurors presented was not lost on
Harry. They were the wall that shielded
the Wizarding World from fear. That
wall might have been cracked now, but it was not broken. Not yet.
Watching the Aurors, Harry almost looked
right over Sirius; he sat silently at the table’s end, with his chin resting in
weary hands. His usually bright eyes
were dull as he watched the growing debate; Harry’s godfather sat listlessly
and didn’t even seem to be listening.
Dead center at the left most table, Remus
was the calm in the midst of the storm.
He sat gravely and composed, with Fawkes perched on the back of his
chair; both headmaster and phoenix watched the others shout and argue with
It took Harry a long moment to figure out
exactly what the discussion was about; everyone was speaking at once and it was
hard to distinguish one angry voice from another. However, after a few minutes of careful listening, he gathered
that the disagreement was twofold: first, some were arguing over the immediate
inclusion of all the Aurors in the Order of the Phoenix; second, others
were still disagreeing over how to deal with the Ministry attack. They were worried about fallout, public
opinion, and Muggle reaction—not to mention the fact that the Aurors claimed to
have found no survivors at all.
Paranoia was running high, and the absence of survivors obviously meant
that the Aurors were on the other side.
Their logic didn’t make much sense to
Harry, but then again, he wasn’t part of the problem. He wasn’t part of the solution, either, of course, but watching
the adults argue, he had to wonder if a younger perspective wouldn’t help. If grown witches and wizards could think so
crookedly when under stress, maybe they needed someone to set them
straight. As the arguments raged on and
on, he figured that any additional input certainly couldn’t hurt. But then again, if his mum or Mrs. Weasley
had anything to say about it, Harry wouldn’t become any part of the
Order until he was old and gray and the war had already been seen to its
Harry resisted the urge to snarl. Why can’t they see that the war affects
us, too? We feel the same fears and
pains they do, no matter how young we are—and we do understand! He had to grit his teeth to keep the
irritation and impatience inside. I
want to be a part of this. I don’t want
to be left in the dark.
Sometimes, even his mum acted like Harry
lived in a padded and comfortable world that was safe from the war. Sometimes, he thought that she’d forgotten
that he, too, felt the pain of loss and hardship. Before this moment, Harry supposed that his parents had been
right—he hadn’t known—but now he did.
He’d known the late Deputy Minister of Magic as “Aunt Bella” since early
childhood, and though he’d hardly had time to come to terms with her death, it
was hard to imagine a world without his former babysitter. He’d been so lucky in the war—Harry had
never really known someone who died.
His grandparents had died before he was born, and though David and Diana
Potter had been victims of Voldemort’s wrath, Harry had never lost someone whom
he’d grown up with and had learned to love.
Now, though, those kinds of losses seemed
so much more possible. Probable,
even—the Dark Lord had moved on the offensive, and at nearly twelve years old,
Harry wasn’t young enough to think that everyone would survive the war.
But thinking about life without his
parents, Remus, Sirius, or Peter was unbearable. The thought of losing Ron, Hermione, Fred, George, or Lee was
painful to even consider—yet it was possible.
Anything was, now, because he could no longer be certain that they would
win at all. The high that the light
side had ridden after the Azkaban Raid was completely extinguished; optimism
and hope were now in short supply. In
the face of Voldemort’s brilliant exhibition of power, Azkaban seemed like an
aberration. Victory no longer waited
just around the corner.
And it might not ever come if they
don’t stop arguing amongst themselves, Harry thought bitterly, then turned
his attention back to the Order’s proceedings.
Sirius scrubbed a weary hand over his
face, feeling stubble where there should have been none. Years ago, he’d kept his hair short and had
always been clean shaven, but a few years in the Aurors had slowly brought on
the longer hair and goatee that he still favored. Despite that and his own reckless personality, though, Sirius
liked appearing clean; his goatee was always carefully trimmed and there
wasn’t a chance in hell that his hair would look like Snape’s. At the moment, though, that aforementioned
hair was just a little greasy, and to describe it as dirty would have been an
understatement. He hadn’t had time to
clean himself up after the Aurors left the Ministry once and for all; instead,
he’d gone to visit James and had left St. Mungo’s feeling worse than he had
Nothing could be done, the healers
claimed. Repeatedly, and even when he’d
shouted at them, which he now regretted.
But not having slept in three days was beginning to get at him, and the
hard-won self-control that he’d gained in Azkaban had been failing him ever
since Voldemort’s attack on the Ministry.
Everything had happened so quickly.
It was as if the world was spinning out of control.
Sitting in the Order’s current excuse for
a meeting wasn’t helping matters and his head was pounding in tandem with his
heart. Lily was just getting into
stride now, shooting down Elphias Dodge over some stupid point or another…where
they still arguing that the Aurors were really working for Voldemort? Were they really that dumb?
Sirius groaned softly, glancing to where
Remus and Fawkes sat silently. Damn
Moony and his calm, the Auror thought acidly. The man’s a saint, I swear. Sometimes, though, it helped to shout, and he wished Remus would
start doing so. At least then they
could get on with something constructive. Right now, they were only wasting time. Saint Moony. Hm.
“Your argument has no logic behind it,”
Lily retorted coldly. “There is no way
that even Fudge can blame the Aurors for what happened at the
Ministry. If they were involved, they
would never have lost two of their own to the Dark Lord.”
“And what proof do you have of that? For all we know, that was just—”
“Just what?” Lily counted. “Camouflage? Deception?” She smiled,
but it was a frosty and hard expression, even on her pretty face. “With all due respect, Ms. Dodge, I did not
see you with a wand in hand during the attack, and I feel this is a poor way
for many to thank those who have so recently saved their lives.”
“How dare you call me a coward?” Dodge snarled angrily, growing
red in the face. “I would think—”
“That’s enough, Elphias,” Remus suddenly
interjected in his quiet voice, answering Sirius’ every wish. Almost.
Though I could have wished for louder…
“No one is calling you a coward,” the
younger wizard said quietly, standing up with a smoothness and grace that
marked him as different than he’d ever been before, especially to Sirius’
practiced eye. The Font had indeed
changed him, though that was still hard to get used to. Remus’ blue eyes moved slowly around the
room, focusing on those individuals who were still standing. Several individuals on both sides of the
discussion took the hint and sat down.
Others, including a red-faced Dodge, did not. A touch of steel entered Remus’ voice. “Sit down. Please.”
Sirius noticed with delight that none of
them dared make him ask again. There
was a rustling of robes and scraping of chairs as the Order members made
themselves comfortable, some still glaring at others with mistrust and
distaste. Finally, after a long moment,
Remus spoke once more with slight disappointment in his voice.
“I grieve to see that it has come to
Silence greeted his words, but the
unorthodox beginning seemed to have at least gathered attention. Finally, after a long moment of silence,
“I grieve that we, whom have always stood
together, must now threaten each other in search of someone to blame.” His voice, quiet and disappointed though it
was, seemed to impact the Order deeply, and Sirius saw several of the loudest
objectors look away, somewhat ashamed.
“As I said to you three days ago, only by standing united can we
survive. The Order of the Phoenix has
always been based upon trust. I ask you
to remember that trust now, and to work together. Divided, we will fall, and we have not the time for that
“The Aurors will remain with the
Order. In the absence of a firm
government or a Minister of Magic, we are all that there is. Therefore, it only makes sense for us to
work with those most suited to repelling the Death Eaters that will come
Several mouths opened to protest, but
Remus continued in a hard voice.
“The discussion has ended.”
Sirius snuck a glance around the room as
silence greeted his friend’s words.
From the calm expression on Remus’ face, one would never guess the
pressure he was under or how the weight of the Order was beginning to grate on
him. Unless you knew how to spot the
slight lines around his eyes, or how to see the minor twitch of the thumb on
his right hand that meant he was irritated, he seemed perfectly cool and unnaturally
composed. Others were staring at him in
surprise and some newfound respect—the Order might have decided to follow him,
but in many eyes, Remus would never fill Dumbledore’s shoes.
Today, though, he was beginning to prove
that he didn’t have to. Remus Lupin was
his own man, singularly unique and strong.
Many thought him docile because he chose not to speak unless he had
something important to say. They
misinterpreted quietness as weakness. Oops.
“Next order of business, then,” the
headmaster continued briskly. “Peter,
how are preliminary contacts with the rest of Europe going?”
Their short friend stood clumsily, still
as uneasy as ever before a crowd. “Not
very good,” he admitted shakily. “No
one wants to deal with me until we have a new government in place.”
After the death of his superior, Peter
was the de-facto head of the Department of International Magical
Cooperation. However, despite how many
years he’d spent on diplomatic trips and in tense negotiations, Peter Pettigrew
would never have the type of forceful personality that would make other Magical
governments stand up and listen. Peter
took a deep breath.
“I also think that they’re beginning to
see You-Kno—Voldemort—as our problem,” he added quietly. “No one else wants to be involved. They seem to hope that he’ll just go away if
they ignore him long enough.”
Angry grunts and snarls sounded from
almost every seat, but no one spoke up as Remus nodded. “Thank you.”
Peter sat down with visible relief, and
Sirius spared a moment to give him a thumbs up. Poor Wormtail had always hated crowds and tests—putting
him under pressure had always been a sure way to send Peter into pieces, but he
did seem to be getting better. After
all, he’d saved James’ life at the Ministry, and hadn’t cracked up then. Perhaps there was something to be said for
time and the changes it made in men.
Peter’s grateful smile helped cure a
little bit of Sirius’ headache.
Friends, he’d long ago realized, were more important than anything else
in the world.
But Remus was saying his name, and Sirius
stood slowly, wishing that exhaustion didn’t make his bones weigh so much and
emphasize every lasting ache and pain.
After rearranging his dirty robes in order to give himself a moment to
gather his thoughts, Sirius cleared his throat and began to speak.
“As you all know, three days worth of
searching revealed that there are no survivors of Voldemort’s attack on the
Ministry of Magic. We had several
run-ins with Muggle law enforcement and ended up performing countless memory
charms on them to protect our purposes and identities, but there are still many
Muggles out there who know that something went wrong. Currently, their press
believes that the Ministry’s explosion was part of what they call a terrorist
attack, but sooner or later they’re going to wise up.
“Regardless, that isn’t the biggest of
our problems. What we have to do is
strike back, and do so quickly, lest—”
Sirius had been prepared for the
objections, but hadn’t expected them to come at such a massive volume. It seemed as if every mouth in the room had
opened and screamed caution at him.
Trying not to sigh, he met Remus’ eyes and watched his friend shrug
It was going to be a long, long,