"Oh, Harry dear! We heard about the dementors, are you alright?" Mrs. Weasley asked urgently the moment Harry stepped in from the Floo. She stroked his forehead, assuring that it was not gushing blood as she had expected.
"I'm fine, Mrs. Weasley, thanks," Harry said dismissively.
"Well, it is good to see you," she said fondly. "I've been wanting you to come over for weeks but-"
"I know," Harry said, cutting her off before his anger could rear up once more.
Mrs. Weasley smiled at him in a motherly way. "Come, I'll show you to your room."
Harry glanced over at Severus with wide eyes at Mrs. Weasley's fussing before following her off. Even though he knew the way, Harry allowed Mrs. Weasley to lead him to the room in which he would be staying.
"You'll be in a room with Draco and Ron," Mrs. Weasley informed him. She pointed at a doorway as they walked past. "Hermione and Ginny are there and Severus will be next door to you three."
"Alright," Harry said agreeably.
"Well here you are, dear," she said coming to a stop in front of one of the guest rooms.
"Thanks, Mrs. Weasley."
She gave him a warm smile and then turned to hurry back down the stairs. "Tell everyone that dinner is in an hour."
"I will," he said. Harry turned to the door, reaching for the knob. He hesitated. Harry wasn't sure he actually wanted to see his friends at the moment. He had reconciled with Severus but they were a different story. Harry told them everything, meaning their withholding information stung all the more harshly.
Opening the door, he found Draco, Ron and Hermione sitting in a circle on a rug on the floor.
"Harry!" Ron greeted in surprise. Ever tactful, he blurted, "What are you doing here?"
Harry scowled at him. "I'm staying here now. I know about the Order, no thanks to you."
"Harry, we wanted to tell you but we couldn't," Hermione said defensively, looking earnest.
"Dumbledore made us swear," Draco added.
"I don't want to hear about Dumbledore right now," Harry said dourly, propping his trunk up against the bed.
No one seemed to know how to take that.
"Your head looks better," Hermione commented. "Are you feeling okay?"
"Fine," Harry replied curtly.
"Have you figured out who sent them?" Draco asked conversationally.
"Haven't really had the time, considering I had to be filled in on what was going on over at my godfather's," Harry said dryly.
His friends looked away uncomfortably.
"So," Harry said with deceptive brightness. "What's been going on at the Voldemort front? I'm sure you guys know something, what with being smack dab in the middle of headquarters and all."
"We really don't," Hermione said awkwardly. "They don't let us in on the meetings."
Harry rolled his eyes. "Oh, they don't let you in on the meetings. I should have guessed. Naturally, you haven't picked up a single scrap of news, then? Been holed up in this room here all summer, eyes shut, ears closed."
"Harry," Draco warned.
"What?" Harry demanded. "Is it too much to ask that my best friends, whom I've shared everything with, tell me what's going on? Tell me they're staying in the headquarters of the Order of the freaking Phoenix? At MY godfather's house?"
"Really, mate, we haven't heard anything. And Dumbledore made us swe-"
"Yes, yes, I know," Harry cut him off impatiently. "And you can't expect me to believe that you just sat up here, content with not knowing what's going on under the very same roof. I'm not stupid."
"Nobody said you were, Harry," Hermione said quickly as a sort of damage control.
"Besides, why couldn't I be here with you at least? I mean, I'm the one who faced Voldemort three times, I saw him come back! And yet you guys can be here while I'm all one over at Spinner's End? I deserve to be here more than all of you combined!" Harry raged, revisiting the same points he had used against Severus earlier.
"Harry, we didn't-"
Harry rolled his eyes. "Yes, of course, you didn't have any choice. Like you even tried on my behalf."
"We did, Harry!" Hermione said with a hint of desperation. "We did!"
"Honestly, Harry. We did try," Draco piped up. "Now quit ripping our heads off; what did you want us to do anyway?" he asked in more annoyance than fear of Harry's wrath.
"TO TELL ME WHAT WAS GOING ON," Harry cried.
His friends looked stunned and rightly so. Harry rarely unleashed his temper and usually they were not the targets. The door squeaked open and Harry spun, ready to jump on who ever it was who wanted to join the "party".
Severus poked his head in. "I would like to point out that you can be heard downstairs. I suggest a silencing charm if the debate continues, especially since I am lucky enough to be in the room next door," he said sarcastically. After nodding at the three sitting on the floor, he withdrew. Harry stared at the door for a moment, thinking how absurd that was. He heard the closing of another door and footsteps through the thin wall.
Just as Harry finished angrily casting his silencing charm, two loud cracks sounded simultaneously. Fred and George stood grinning in the middle of the room, much to Ron, Hermione and Draco's annoyance. And therefore, to Harry's pleasure.
"Hi, guys," Harry said in greeting. "You didn't tell me you got your apparation license, but then again, no one tells me anything anymore so..." he trailed off bitterly.
"Yep, that was Harry who we heard shouting," Fred commented to George who nodded.
"Well, welcome to this dark and dreary place, Harry," George said cheerily.
"Thanks," Harry said dryly. Unable to resist, he continued, "I guess you've given up on trying to figure out what's going on just like these three have?"
Fred and George looked both appalled and offended. "Do you believe us so easily dissuaded? A closed door? A silencing charm? They're no match for us," George said confidently.
"And these guys haven't given up either, they're in it with us," Fred commented to their mild horror.
"Is that so?" Harry asked innocently.
"I'm not," Hermione said firmly. "I don't condone the use of any of their foolish inventions."
The twins rolled their eyes in unison.
Fred said, "We're working on something just for you, Hermione."
George replied, "It's a pin for other people to wear so that when they're around you and you say something smart or boring-"
"Or bland or dull-"
"Or rule-abiding," Fred said with a shudder, "it will pipe up with 'buzzkill'-"
"Alright, alright, I get it!" Hermione exclaimed, cutting them off with a glare. "Doesn't change that fact that eavesdropping is wrong."
"Never mind that," Harry said dismissively, "how do you manage to eavesdrop?"
With a joint grin, the twins each pulled a long, flesh colored string from their pockets. "Extendable Ears, the newest Weasley creation."
"Can I see?" Harry asked.
A string was immediately pressed into his hand. Harry examined it, then put the one end in his ear to test it out.
"Nice," Harry commented, able to hear Hermione's scoff loudly through the string. "Are you selling these?"
Fred and George looked at each other and shrugged. "How much?"
"One thousand galleons," Harry said impulsively. He hadn't seriously considered giving the money away until that comment at the party. Afterwards, the idea began to grow. After all, what would he do with it? And it would definitely irk both Ron and Hermione. Ron because it was a ridiculously large amount of money and Hermione because of the uses they would put it towards. Draco would probably be indifferent.
Harry thought for a moment that the twins' eyes were going to pop from their heads.
"What?" Fred asked incredulously.
"Be serious, Harry," George scolded. The moment those words left his mouth, he shuddered. "I cannot believe I just said that."
"I am being serious," Harry replied. A pun about his godfather sprang to mind but Harry realized this wasn't the time. "I got all that gold from the Triwizard and I don't really have anything to do with it. You guys need it more than I do."
For a moment, possibly for the first time in their lives, the twins were speechless. "...and you would just give it to us?" Fred said as if re-evaluating Harry's sanity.
Harry shrugged. "I wouldn't mind if you made me a partner, if it would make you feel better."
It only took a glance between the twins for them to come up with their answer. "Deal!"
Harry shook hands with both of them, each grinning ridiculously.
"Thank you a million times over, Harry," George said excitedly.
"Now, if you'll excuse us, we have to go write to Lee and get those plans we talked about last year in action," Fred said mischievously.
"Don't you want the money first?
"You have it on you?" George asked in surprise.
"Yeah," Harry replied. "I wasn't about to leave it unattended in my room, I mean anyone can Floo over there."
"I bet Snape's got some sort of nasty hidden surprise for anyone who breaks in," Fred said skeptically. "And you could have locked the door."
Harry shrugged. "Wouldn't surprise me. And really, as if every wizard above the age of eleven doesn't know 'Alohomora'."
George elbowed his brother. "See, Fred? If we'd have known he had it on him, we could've just stolen it and then he wouldn't have to be partner!"
Harry snorted; he knew they would never do that to him. Harry opened up his trunk and pushed aside some clothes to find the sack.
Fred gave his brother a look. "We were just talking about Snape's nasty surprises. Don't you think he'd have one for us if we made off with all of Harry's prize money?""You afraid of Snape, Fred?" George taunted.
"You should be," Harry interrupted thrusting the bag of gold at them.
"Great, thanks a bunch, Harry," Fred said.
"Yeah, you're our new hero," George added.
"Join the club," Harry muttered.
"There's a club?"
"We should start one, then. Whaddya say, George?"
"I'll make the buttons."
"I've got the posters."
"I've got a hex ready for if you two don't get out of here," Harry inserted darkly.
With a pop, they disappeared. Harry sighed into the blessed silence, suddenly realizing that his other three friends were still in the room. He looked at them, waiting for a comment.
"Well? Aren't you going to say something, Ron, about how much money that is to give away? And Hermione, aren't you going to chide me for being irresponsible?" he asked, somewhat halfheartedly. The exchange with the twins had actually brightened his mood a bit; one of the good and reliable effects that they had upon people.
Ron shrugged. "I wasn't going to say anything."
"Neither was I," Hermione commented. "Even if it was a supremely foolish move."
Harry looked at them, for some reason wanting them to say something he could argue with. "And you?" he asked Draco.
"Can you imagine how much stuff we can help them test on the Slytherins?" Draco asked with a sly grin. "I'll have to tell them some of the stuff I learned at Durmstrang."
"Nothing dark," Harry warned.
"Of course not," Draco agreed. Hermione shot him a concerned look.
It seemed they have opted to carefully avoid another shouting match with Harry. That was no fun. "I guess I ought to go tell Severus that I just gave away a thousand galleons."
"Yeah, that's probably the sort of thing he ought to know," Draco commented casually.
They looked at Harry and he looked back. "Dinner's in a half hour," Harry said simply before leaving the room. It wasn't a far walk to Severus's room; after all, he was right next door. Harry arrived and knocked a couple of times.
"Severus?" he asked.
There was no reply. That was strange, Harry was certain he had heard him over here just minutes ago. The door was unlocked so Harry opened it and stepped inside.
"Severus!" he cried, hurrying to his guardian's side where he lay on the floor in a grimace of pain.
"Close...the door," he managed.
Harry flicked his wand and it slammed shut. For good measure, he cast a quick silencing charm.
"What's wrong? What's happening?" Harry asked urgently.
"I am... being called."
Harry's blood ran cold. He knew that this would happen eventually and so it had. And at last, Severus would have to pay the price for his betrayal. He would have to pay the price for Harry. And Harry would have to stand it.