The entire Harry Potter universe belongs to J. K. Rowling. Any original characters
belong to the author and may not be used without permission.
The second war against the Dark
Lord Voldemort, commonly known as the Phoenix War, is by no means the longest
waged in the history of the wizarding world. Lasting only a year and a month,
it is five years below the average duration of our wars. However, the devastation
caused by this conflict was proportionally greater than any war ever known.
It is estimated that, with the collapse of the trade and banking systems, the
wizarding world sustained an economic loss of 680 million Galleons after the
hostilities began. The cost to human lives is just as staggering
Reports compiled at the
end of the war state that 20% of Britains wizarding world alone had perished,
while 27% of the remaining population were left destitute
Economists and historians
agree that, had the war lasted one more season, it is likely there would not
have been enough left upon which to rebuild.
-- Excerpts from The Phoenix
War, Encyclopedia Arcana
The year prior to what people generally
call the Phoenix War was a grand exercise in self-delusion. That year, despite
dozens of testimonies from our own children at Hogwarts, despite the disappearances
of a number of Muggles, and despite the sighting of the Dark Mark in the sky
during the Quidditch World Cup, we had successfully convinced ourselves that
the Dark Lords return was just a yarn to scare children with, that his
cohorts the Death Eaters had long been reduced to a mere rabble we occassionally
read about in the Daily Prophet. We never dreamed he would actually come
back, like a recurring nightmare, to smash our grand illusion of a peaceful,
Only Albus Dumbledore and
the Order of the Phoenix gathered together and stood guard at our frontiers.
They knew that the peace was only Voldemorts sweet-tongued lie, that he
lay hidden like a serpent by the foot path. They alone anticipated his declaration
The days turned into weeks, and
weeks melted into months, and still they waited. Dumbledore worried more as
time dragged on: he would later write that his sleep was plagued with dark dreams.
So he kept to himself for a long time, high in his tower above Hogwarts School
of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and thought of a plan.
It was two summers after the ill-fated
Tri-Wizard Tournament when Dumbledore finally broke his silence. And a few days
later, as if from some hidden signal, so did Voldemort.
-- Excerpts from Ciaran McCallows Seasons in Shadow:
Essays on the War Against The Dark Lord
Chapter 1 : Choices and Changes
It was early morning of September
1st. After finishing a light breakfast, Albus Dumbledore seated himself behind
the oak desk in his quarters. There was much work to be done today. His guest
would be arriving soon, and important decisions had to be made before the day
And of course, there was still the
matter of Harry Potter. Today he would meet with the boy and tell him the plan
he had been working on for more than a year. Today, he would ask Harry to perform
a task for him. He did not want to ask him this, because he knew the boy would
Which is why Im here procrastinating,
Dumbledore muttered, leaning back and shutting his eyes, instead of calling
him first thing in the morning.
Still, there was no other choice.
Dumbledore still had to ask, for no one else would do for what he had planned.
He smoothed his beard as he went over
the details as he had countless times before. When he opened his eyes, a good
hour had passed. As before, he concluded his scheme had only a modest chance
of success. No matter how well he planned and how good his research, everything
was just a calculated endeavour. There was only one way to be sure, and that
way lay through Harry Potter. Like it or not, it all came down to the boy.
Dumbledore let his gaze wander about
the room he had lived in for more than fifty years as Headmaster of Hogwarts.
The portraits of former Headmasters of Hogwarts slept placidly in their frames.
History books and grimoires from all over sat on his shelves, dog-eared and
carelessly catalogued. An ancient globe sat in the corner, marking all the nations
existing in the world, as well as some that didnt. A tall, unoccupied
perch stood by the windowFawkes, his pet phoenix, was likely flying about
the grounds for some exercise. The slant of the early morning light dappled
the floor, and beyond the window he could hear the distant shouts of Quidditch
players in practice. In a little while, the rest of the studentry would be assembling
in their classrooms to begin another school year.
It was a wonderful school, and every
year of his life here was a year well-spent. He had been happy to be around
so many young people. Their very presence lent him energy, at times making him
feel younger than his years. He did not wish for things to change now, to have
the balance hed worked so hard for shift once more.
But that is the child in me complaining,
he thought with a rueful smile.
He had a duty to perform. He owed
it to the children entrusted to his care. He owed it to the people who looked
to him for security in these dark times. He owed it to those who had given their
lives in the previous war to preserve this way of life. As he had told the members
of the Order, we all have a role to fulfill, and no one suffers alone.
Dumbledore shook his head. Harry was
a brave and strong boy, but he was still only a boy. It was hardly fair that
he suffer any more than he already had.
He had been forced to carry a heavy
burden since he was just a baby, having to live with cruel Muggles for his own
protection after Voldemort murdered his parents. In the years that followed
he had faced Voldemort three more times, and the last encounter was a very near
thing, too near. On top of it all he had witnessed the death of Cedric Diggory.
It had changed him. Perhaps forever.
It had been a year since Dumbledore
last met with Harry. School had just begun, and one of the first things that
Harry did was come talk to him. Dumbledore could still remember exactly what
Ive decided not to
play for Gryffindor this year, sir.
He remembered feeling regret the moment
he heard those words, regret that he had not seen to Harrys peace of mind
as well as he had to his security.
They already found a substitute
Seeker from the Fourth years. Wallace, I think.
Harry did not answer. He seemed
to have found something interesting to look at in his hands.
Does this have something
to do with Cedrics death?
After a time, Harry nodded.
I understand. I do not think
it is a good idea, Harry, and Im sure your friends have given you all
the reasons why it isnt. Still, it is your decision, and I understand.
I take it
your captain was less than pleased?
Harry gave a small, bitter smile.
The Weasley twins weren't
happy about it. They mustve wanted to make waves this year as co-captains
and I let them down. Professor McGonagall hasnt said a word to me sinceI
suppose that would be a good thing. Oliver wouldve taken it worse. I bet
hed have half of Gryffindor lynching me for abandoning them against the
Slytherins. As for Ron
Dumbledores reverie was interrupted
by the glow of a crystal ball on his desk. The light flared brightly for a moment
to catch his attention, then faded to reveal the face of Minerva McGonagall.
Professor Dumbledore, she said, Alastor Moody has arrived
by Hogwarts Express and is here to see you.
Dumbledore leaned forward and said,
Hes arrived too early, as usual. Very well, please show him to the
Faculty Room. I will meet with him presently.
Of course, Professor,
responded McGonagall. When Dumbledore did not move away from the crystal, she
said, Is there
Dumbledore said, I would also
appreciate it if you can ask Mr. Potter to come to my office as soon as possible.
He is at the Great Hall right
now, having breakfast with the rest of Gryffindor.
Then Im afraid we must
interrupt him. Please apologize for me. This matter cannot wait.
With a courteous nod, McGonagalls
face vanished from the surface of the crystal.
So it must be, Dumbledore
whispered. He stood up to pour himself some sweet wine, then stopped. Later,
after the meeting. He sighed again, leaned back on his chair once more,
Fifteen minutes later, there was a
short knock on his door. Come in, Harry, said Dumbledore.
The door opened, almost hesitantly,
and the boy entered.
Good morning, Headmaster.
Dumbledore smiled genially and motioned
for him to sit down. And good morning to you too. Please, make yourself
Dumbledore studied him carefully as
he made his way to the chair and sat down. Theyd had little time to talk
over the past yearhe could count with one hand the number of times they
greeted each other in passing. Physically, the boy had not changed much. Perhaps
just a wee bit taller, but still that messy dark hair and lean frame. Perhaps
the girls still sigh and giggle over him whenever he walked past. The difference
lay in his eyes. In place of the spirited, often carefree look they had when
he first came to Hogwarts, there was now a subtle guardedness. Harry gazed back
at him with a little apprehension, and Dumbledore sighed inwardly. If there
had been a way for him to give Harry a little more guidance, a little more sympathy,
he would have done it. But some demons had to be faced alone. It was as true
for Harry as it was for him.
Dumbledore reached into his desk drawer
and pulled out a jar. Would you care for some sweets? Perhaps some butterbeer
No, thank you, Professor. Im
Dumbledore nodded. He opened the jar
and retrieved a Chocolate Frog for himself.
Tell me, Harry, he said.
How do you like your new teachers?
Theyre alright, sir.
I understand that the Defense
Against the Dark Arts class was popular last year. How goes it this year?
Harry smiled a bit. Professor
Summershields okay, though the lessons are a bit tame. Nobody else seems
to think so, though. Theyre all rather attentive when she talks. At least
the boys are.
And what about your Potions
At this, Harry seemed uncomfortable.
I dont mean to be rude, but do you think Professor Cowl
will ever teach us an actual potion? All he ever talks about is how the potions
are used. We never do anything hands-on.
The Headmaster merely smiled. Ill
look into that, Harry, but it seems youll just have to be patient with
Professor Cowl. He studied to be a historian, not a Potions Master. Im
afraid theres been a lack of them nowadays, and not anyone can be like
It seems so, sir.
Dumbledore nodded, then changed subjects.
Let me ask you something, he said, unwrapping the Chocolate Frog,
Its not my business, but do you think youll be playing Quidditch
Harry was quiet for a minute, then
just shrugged. Im not sure yet, sir. I still have to think about
Dumbledore sat silently for another
moment. Perhaps asking him was not a good idea, after all. The boy had enough
problems. He needed time to get himself together. There were other plans, other
But Harry was looking at him curiously
now. Professor Dumbledore, is that what you wanted to talk to me about?
If Im going to play Quidditch?
Well, thought Dumbledore, should I
lie to him, just say that I wanted to find out how he was, and send him back
to breakfast? No, that was right out. He had never lied to Harry, and now was
not a time to start.
So he said, I called you here
because I wanted to share something with you, something Ive been considering
all year now.
Harry nodded. Its about
Voldemort, isnt it?
Dumbledore looked at him somberly.
Yes, Im afraid it is. He stood up, retrieved his wand from
his pocket, muttered a few words. The room crackled with power, as if a current
of electricity had passed through the air. All the windows snapped shut. The
lights in the room grew dim. Sounds from outside died away. Even the sunlight
coming in from the slits of the window became weak and faded.
The Headmaster looked right at Harry.
His thin frame radiated power, and his kindly gaze had turned sharp. What
I will tell you must not leave this room. Peoples lives are riding on
the things we say and the decisions we make. For your sake and safety, you must
not tell anyone what I am about to tell you now. Do you understand?
Harry did not move, transfixed by
his gaze. Yes.
Dumbledore reached out his wand to
him. Lay your hand on this. Harry hesitated a moment before complying.
I promise to keep what you will
tell me now a secret.
Dumbledore relaxed and the dweomer
left him. He sat down. Harry looked visibly relieved.
First I will tell you my plan,
Dumbledore said, then I will make a request of you. To this you will be
free to say yes or no, given what you have heard. Alright?
He looked into Harrys eyes and
was surprised to see that the guarded look there had disappearedinstead
their was only grim determination. I may have missed something on my assessment,
thought the Headmaster. After all, he is a Gryffindor.
Very well, said Dumbledore.
Let us assess the situation.
We know, firstly, that Voldemort
is alive and hiding with his followers in a place somewhere in the south. Where
exactly we are not certain, but we will be. Our concern now is this: there are
signs he is consolidating power. Some of his old allies have disappeared from
the public. Muggle news say that people have been disappearing as of late. Also,
Hagrid tells me that the giants have been cool to our offers of friendship.
I am certain, more than ever, that Voldemort is raising an army. When he is
ready, and it will be soon, he will invade.
To counter his plans, I have
gathered together some people to help fight him.
The Order of the Phoe
Harry stopped, realizing what he had just done.
Dumbledore smiled. Its
alright, Harry. As I have said before, in Hogwarts, secrets are hard to keep.
Still, we shall keep this discussion to ourselves, right?
Harry nodded, and the Headmaster continued,
As you know, the Ministry is reluctant to help. We must help ourselves.
Thus, the Order. Our members are able-bodied and strong, if a little short on
numbers for what Voldemort has in mind. Still, should there be war the damage
to both sides would be most grievous, and the conflict would spread beyond the
wizarding world. The outcome will be bleak, whether we win or lose. So it is
with most wars. Do you understand, Harry?
Yes, I see your point, sir.
Would you agree, then, that
it is in our best interest to keep the conflict as short as possible?
I agree. But how can that be
Dumbledores eyes turned sad.
Now came the hard part. I hate to bring back bad memories, Harry, but
as I said before, all we speak of here is important. Tell me, do you remember
what happened at the end of the Tri-Wizard Tournament? Do you remember when
you told me that the Dark Lord had risen?
If Harry felt anythinggrief,
anger, fearit did not show on his face. Yes, Professor, was
all he said.
Do you remember the spell Pettigrew
cast to create Voldemorts body?
Harry flinched at remembered pain.
Dumbledores brows furrowed.
The Dark Arts give many rewards to its followers, Harry. They can even
give life, after a fashion. But the ways of Darkness are steeped in suffering
and death. There is always a dreadful price.
Harry looked down at this forearm,
as if he could still see the scar through the sleeves of his robes. He
took my blood.
Yes, said Dumbledore as
he leaned back on his chair, and in so doing he now shares the protection
bestowed upon you when you were just a baby. He has made sure that he will not
be beaten the same way again.
Harry raised his eyes to meet Dumbledores.
Is it true then, Professor? Is it true what he said, that he cant
Dumbledore did not answer immediately.
I cant think of a way to kill him, if thats what youre
asking, he said.
Harry slumped back on his chair. Then
there is no way to defeat him. Voldemort would just keep coming back, wouldnt
There is a way, Harry. One way.
Dumbledore took his wand once more and traced patterns in the air. The space
before Harry shimmered and he found himself staring at the largest, most delicately
cut jewel he had ever seen. Even the wan sunlight sparkled on its blood-red
surface. Every facet perfectly reflected Harrys awed expression.
Dumbledore leaned with his elbows
on the desk. Let me tell you a story.
Though he did not need to, Harry leaned
closer as well. Dumbledore spent a moment gathering his thoughts. When he spoke
again, his voice had grown soft and aged, his eyes looking at somewhere far
Many centuries ago, he
said, before the Four had even dreamed of founding Hogwarts and the Celts
still roamed this land, there lived a great witch named Dahlia. Her knowledge
of magic was both wide and deep, but so was her thirst for power. Thus she was
corrupted, and walked the way of Nightgaunt, Halvan and Grindelwald into the
Dark Arts. She held council with vampires and other fell beings, and disappeared
from the peoples sight. When she returned, she had become something else
completely. She became known as The Cimmerian Sorceress. Her power was staggering,
incomparable. Many challenged her and died horribly, for like Voldemort, she
too had conquered death. Within a year it seemed the entire land would fall
into her grasp.
But there was one who rose to
challenge her and succeeded. This man was her own kin, her cousin Volarius.
Volarius was wise and gifted with farsight. Since he could not hope to kill
Dahlia, he decided he had to imprison her. After much research, he discovered
how to do it.
From meteorite ore he crafted
a gemstone. He charmed it with sap from a Sylvan tree to make it unbreakable.
He crafted its facets with fire, and polished its surface with ice. When he
had finished, the gem was a pale, clear crystal, the size of a human heart.
But he needed other things to
complete his Crystal Cage. To control it, he had to infuse it with something
that belonged to him. And to capture the Cimmerian Sorceress, he also had to
infuse it with something that belonged to her. But though he schemed and plotted,
he could not hope to get near enough to steal something from Dahlia. So he used
the next best thing, the one thing that he and Dahlia sharedhis own blood.
He cut his wrist and fused his
blood with the Crystal, turning it into a crimson gem. Then he confronted Dahlia
and the two fought a terrible battle at Stonehenge. When he used the Crystal,
it pulsed with power and drew Dahlia into itself. The Cimmerian Sorceress was
no more, trapped forever in Volariuss cage.
Dumbledore paused for a moment. Harry,
who had been hanging on to his every word, asked, Then what happened,
Well, the Headmaster went
on, the people then did not know how Volarius defeated Dahlia, only that
the Cimmerian Sorceress was gone and that there was peace in the land. Volarius
could have been king, but instead he retired to a quiet life. He took his Crystal
Cage and kept it in his secret vault. There was no danger of Dahlia escaping
from it, but he kept it safe nonetheless till the day he died. Then his family
took over its guardianship. From then on, the Crystal was passed on from generation
to generation, but its secret was known only to a precious few.
Volarius was a good man but
he was not naïve. He was aware that other wizards, even those of his kin,
lusted for power, and evil deeds could be done should the Crystal fall into
the wrong hands. So when he created it, he altered the Imprisonment Charm such
that the Crystals magic would work only under two conditions. First, the
Crystal could only work in the hands of someone from his bloodline. And the
Dumbledores eyes twinkled at Harry. The second
is that it would only work against someone from his bloodline.
Harry blinked at this, puzzled. Dumbledore
After many years, the story
of Dahlia and the Crystals secret were lost to memory, existing only in
the dustiest of history books. The Crystal was passed on as a family heirloom,
considered as nothing more than a pretty trinket. Last we know, it had been
turned over to one of the last surviving branches of Volariuss family
Harrys eyes widened in shock.
my mothers family?!
Precisely, Harry. I am sure
neither Lily Evans nor her family knew of the Crystals properties, being
mostly non-magical folk. What I am sure of is that it had been kept by your
grandmother as her personal treasureshe refused to sell it off even when
the Evans faced hard times. From the research we have done, we believe that
she had been buried with it.
Harry sat quietly, thinking things
over. He looked up after a time and said, Professor, youre saying
that we can use this crystal as a weapon
The Headmaster nodded.
to use it
Dumbledore did not respond. He merely
looked at Harry.
But it wont work on him!
He stopped, eye widening in comprehension.
The spell! The spell Pettigrew
cast to create Voldemorts body! He took bone, flesh...and my blood!
Yes, said the Headmaster.
Blood contains life force, the very essence of a person. That is why it
carries Protective Charms so well. When Voldemort crafted his body, he infused
himself with your own wards. A master stroke, indeed. He smoothed his
beard. But even a master stroke can have a blind-side.
They sat silently for a while. Dumbledore
could see that that same guarded look was coming over Harrys eyes as the
boy gazed deeply into the illusionary Crystal. He had no idea what it could
mean, but he should say what he had to say.
Now I will make my request of
you, Harry, he said. I ask you to go on a journey to obtain the
Crystal Cage from your mothers hometown. It will respond only to you,
Harry. There is no one else for this task. When you have found a way to master
it, I will ask you to face Voldemort once more
He stopped and watched Harrys
expression. Still nothing. He went on, You have been through much these
past years, too much for anyone of your age to bear
therefore, I do not
order you to do this. I can only ask
Dumbledore stopped, looked long and
hard at Harry. The boy did not seem the least bit afraid. Harry, this
journey is no simple adventure. You will be in danger. The agents of Voldemort
are everywhere. And there may be unforseen circumstances
Harry drew in a deep breath. Professor,
you have a plan to keep me safe on this journey, right?
Yes, I do.
Harry nodded. I trust you, sir.
Dumbledore heaved a long sigh. So
it must be.
Harrys eyes maintained his resolve,
but he also looked a little pale.
I could really use some butterbeer
Dumbledore smiled kindly and said,
You can have whatever you like, but I have something better if you dont
mind. Do you drink wine?
Harry fidgeted, Um, not as a
habit, sir. Mr. Weasely once poured me some elderflower wine back at the Burrow.
It was okay, I suppose.
The Headmaster waved his wand to dispel
the illusion, then Summoned a bottle of wine and two goblets to the table. Have
some with me then. This ones white plum. I rather like the taste, reminds
me of springtime.
He poured wine into the glasses, and
they drank a toast. Harry sipped lightly from the wine at first, nodded in approval,
and drank more.
Yes, my boy?
Will the trip be a long one?
The old man paused. Travelling
there and back is easy. My agent has scouted the area and installed a Portkey
beforehand, since you cant Apparate and the Ministry is not going to let
us go there by Floo. The search for the Crystal will take a long while. Two
weeks will be the limit for you. If you cannot locate the Crystal before then,
you must return.
Im afraid I cant
send any of your friends with you either. And communication with Hogwarts will
be put to a minimum, all for security reasons
so if you change your mind
Harry looked somewhat miffed. I
wont. I already said Im going. He looked at Dumbledore and
said, Sir? What did you think I was going to say?
Dumbledore gave a small shrug. I
was afraid youd say yes.
Its a good plan, sir.
You were right when you said we had to win this war with as little as conflict
as possible. If we can get to Voldemort first, then the fights over. We
must find the Crystal Cage. Or at least try.
He will be after you too, Harry.
I know sir, but
he paused, and Dumbledore saw resolve surface sharply on his face.
I cant run from this.
I dont want to keep my head down here while everyone else faces the danger.
Why should I be any different? We all have responsibilities.
Dumbledores smile was small
and sad. Dont you think youve put yourself under too much
Harry looked at him evenly, then said,
Ive thought of that before. But then I remembered what you said
last year, to everyone in the Great Hall. Before the summer began.
Harrys grip tightened around
the goblet in his pale hand. Remember Cedric, he said,
if the time should come when you have to make a choice between what
is right and what is easy, remember Cedric. He finished the rest
of his wine and said, How do we begin, sir?
It took another half-hour of explanations
before the final details of the plan were laid out. While Dumbledore paced around
his desk, carefully explaining, Harrys eyes continued to widen in amazement.
After the old man finished, Harry just sat still.
Are you alright, lad?
Yes sir. Its just
I had no idea wed have to take such measures
I understand your concern. But
you must remember that Voldemorts spies are everywhere. Nowhere is completely
safe. Not even here.
Harry nodded numbly.
Dumbledore continued, But if
you are uncomfortable with the arrangements, then
No Professor. Im fine.
Ill still go through with this.
So, will you ask your friends
Very well. Well and good.
He gave Harry a small pat on the shoulder. As he gazed at the boy, he felt hope
soar in his heart, the same hope he felt when he had founded the Order. Yes,
this plan could work. Harry would find the Crystalwasn't that what he
did best, finding things? Yes, he would claim it, master it, and bring down
the Dark Lord before he could inflict any horrors upon the world. And he, Dumbledore,
would make sure Harry would live to do it.
The plan could work. They would MAKE
it work. All of them.
I will see you tomorrow evening
then, Harry, he said, eyes twinkling. And hopefully, Mr. Weasley
and Miss Granger as well.
Another goblet of wine, another round
of well-wishing, and Harry left the Headmasters office.
He stepped onto the staircase and
allowed it to carry him back to the entrance. The gargoyle at the door sniffed
the air once as he approached, and made way for him to pass. Out the door he
went, into the halls of Hogwarts once more.
Harry walked slowly, staying close
to the wall. His eyes traced the hanging tapestries, but saw nothing. He idly
brushed against the silk curtains, but his fingers were too numb to feel them.
He came up to a suit of armor and examined it as if he had never seen it there
before. Filch could probably come along and accuse him of leaving fingerprints
on the flawless steel, but he wouldnt have care at all. Finally, he sank
into a nearby chair and clasped his hands.
What did I just say yes to?
He couldnt imagine what the
journey would be like, only that it would mean leaving the place he called home
for two weeks or more. He had also said no to a great many things. No to the
first two weeks of his Sixth year. No to wonderful, sumptious meals in the Great
Hall. No to the comforts of a cheery Common Room, playing chess by the fire.
No to the luxury of a soft four-poster bed. Perhaps even no to Quidditch, for
a second year in a row. If they found out, Fred and George would murder him.
Ron would be the accessory.
He would be saying no to Ron and Hermione.
He had to tell his two best friends that he was going away. He had to tell them
they couldnt go with him, not this time. And he coulnt tell them
Its too late, he thought. Ive
But what about her, Harry? Are
you going to tell her?
For one awful moment, Harry felt his
resolve weaken. Two weeks on a dangerous journey, two weeks away from her. What
if he never saw her again? Would she know? Would she even care? He leaned forward,
touching his forehead to his clasped hands, wondering if he should talk to her
again after so long, and if he even had the courage to try.
Eventually, he calmed himself and
stood up. He didnt have to make that decision right now. That, at least,
was a consolation. For now there was Ron and Hermione.
Harry drew in a deep breath to clear
his mind, then walked resolutely towards Gryffindor Tower.