Forlorn Hope

Order

23 : Order

"Are you done talking to Severus?" Horris nodded, "Is everything alright?"

"Yes, sir, just tired."

"Ah, right you are. Off to bed…" Remus smiled, heading towards Severus' office. The boy must have been exhausted, not sleeping all night and day… not to mention that tornado he created, 'letting them go wild' indeed!

"What do you want, Lupin?"

"As cheerful as ever I see…" Remus commented lightly, "How'd it go?"

"What did you say to him?"

Remus smiled sadly, "No more than Draco, apparently. Why didn't you tell me that he was the Alpha?"

"I had my reasons." The man said snidely.

"Do you trust Draco?"

"'Never trust a Slytherin'— right, Lupin?" Snape taunted.

"You cannot expect me to trust a Malfoy, Severus…"

"You can trust him," he countered in a more serious tone, "Horris is his better— the boy will not betray him."

"But he will try to influence him."

"Horatius is not brainless, Lupin!" Severus sneered,

"He isn't used to questioning people's motives. Even Ravenclaws can be manipulated."

"He knows, Lupin, not to mention the entire house is more afraid of him than they are of me… I have seen seventh years scurry out of his way, quite amusing actually."

"Because he is your son or because he's Alpha?"

Severus' smirk faded, his voice suddenly taking on a weary quality. "Because he won Voldemort's favor. The boy is too damn brave for his own good. He took a gigantic risk by doing what he did, but it worked and by morning the entire house knew what occurred. They feared his influence before they knew he was anything more than an Asp— even he did not yet know— they listened to him over Draco… they even let a Muggleborn Gryffindor into the dorms. I have not heard 'Mudblood' since."

"Lea?" Remus muttered as Severus nodded, "I've wondered how she became 'the Lioness of Slytherin'…"

"Imagine my surprise…" Severus monotoned.

"She's allowed into their dorms?" Severus nodded again, a look on his face that clearly questioned Remus' intelligence, "…and she isn't afraid?"

"I would imagine she was, at first."

"And she doesn't know that Horris is—"

"No."

"Merlin, the girl is braver than I thought…" What if Horris had been setting a trap? What if the Slytherins didn't obey him? She could have been killed! Remus continued the thought silently, Hermione had taken a great gamble too it seemed. "What exactly did he do, Severus?" Remus asked, to which Severus just smirked knowingly.

"He did the one thing Voldemort never expected of a Death Eater's child."

"Meaning?"

"Showed loyalty to his father rather than the Dark Lord."

"He did that?" Severus nodded slowly, "you must be proud…"

"Proud? Proud!" Severus called out in outrage, "I thought Voldemort would kill him on the spot! Horris outright argued with him for Merlin's sake!"

"And what did Voldemort do?"

"Laughed."

"Laughed?"

"Not a sound you wish to hear, Lupin, I assure you."

"I'll take your word on that…"

"Did you come to talk of Horatius' ability to influence, Lupin?" Severus questioned, obviously tired of Remus' pointless questions.

"No…"

"Do get to the point then."

"Right. I've come to talk to you about The Order, Severus…"

"The one that keeps all the teachers under Dumbledore's thumb?" The man sneered.

"No, the one that is fighting Voldemort."

"How is it that you yell at your father, break school curfew, give up the best bloody broom willingly, and your Dad still acts as if you got a perfect score on your O.W.L.s? "

"What in Merlin's name are you talking about, Draco?"

"Are you mad I told them?" Horris fell into bed, sick of the entire situation.

"No." He finally answered, "I did lose track of time…"

"Where were you, anyway?"

"My air element woke, I let a nice twister loose in a secret room and sort of fell into a trance. It took Professor Lupin to rouse me."

"How'd he find you with that old piece of parchment?"

"Not my secret to tell, Draco."

"I can see how he figured you for a Gryffindor, then."

"Huh?" What was Remus playing at?

"That's why he gave you the parchment, right? He called it a 'Gryffindor Secret'… do you really know the way to the kitchens?" Now that surprised him.

"You don't?" He teased, "After attending this place for five years? Doesn't Slytherin pass on its secrets?"

"As far as I can tell, you're the only Slytherin who knows… probably the only non-Gryffindor. I honestly can't see a Hufflepuff breaking rules that often, and Ravenclaws know not to miss meals."

"And what's the Slytherins' excuse?" Horris questioned.

"Will you show me?"

"Will you let me sleep?" Horris countered, throwing a pillow in Draco's general direction, his head too heavy to lift at the moment.

"Right, sorry." The blonde answered, tossing it back, "I'll wake you for dinner."

"Do it and I'll try out my venoms on you."

"I'm immune— remember?"

"Not to all of them, you're not."

"Right." Draco answered nervously, looking unnaturally pale for a moment, "I'll just have to find these kitchens when we eat tonight."

"Or I could just sleep till morning…"

"Not even you can sleep that long, Snape."

"Shows what you know, Malfoy." Horris countered, smirking.

"And go days without food?"

"That's nothing," Horris replied sleepily, "try a week or two." He added under his breath as he heard the door click closed.

The darkness was already engulfing him, lulling the boy to a hopefully dreamless slumber as he let his senses dim, allowing the darkness to—

"You must think me an idiot, sir!" Horris heard in what he could have sworn was the next moment, "I'll no sooner wake him than let you into our dorms."

"For Merlin's sake, Mr. Malfoy," he heard Remus' voice, "I need to speak with Horris. Now!"

"If you think I'll risk my neck because you need to talk to an old student—" Horris, having decided he wouldn't be resting either way, stretched groggily, fruitlessly trying to straighten his mangled clothes. Merlin was he sleepy!

"Memo to self; soundproof door." He mumbled, reaching for the handle and rubbing his aching temples.

The scene before him was almost comical. The common room was filled with Slytherins, all facing the entryway but with eyes fixed on Horris. Draco was arguing with Remus, the former using almost any means to keep the ex-professor out, and failing. He cleared his throat, immediately catching the Beta's attention.

"Now you've done it…" Horris heard him mutter, "Horris, I tried to keep him out, I swear." Horris rolled his eyes, shaking his head at the fear in the blonde's voice.

"I was speaking metaphorically, Draco, you didn't really think I'd kill you, right?" Horris smirked, followed by a nodding Draco.

"Who knows when our dear Horris will implement a 'curse now, ask later' policy… there are plenty of people I've been ready to kill in the morning…" Horris widened his smirk, shaking off sleep.

Remus watched their interaction carefully, amused at the authority Horris commanded. He saw the relief on young Draco's face, though the boy tried to laugh it off. The others in the room, seventh years some of them, watched Horris' every move, careful to get far out of his way. Every one of them was as silent as they were during Dumbledore's opening speech (some more so).

"You wanted to speak with me, Professor?" Horris' voice snapped Remus out of his thoughts.

"Yes, yes I did."

"Would you rather speak here or somewhere else? Don't mind them, they'll behave." Horris added, apparently picking up on Remus' unease. The Slytherins shifted where they were, apparently noting Horris' attachment to him. Remus briefly wondered if they thought Horris would be angry with them for not letting him in, wondering just how Horris made them tolerate Hermione in their midst. "Is my room agreeable, Professor?"

Remus nodded, trailing behind the young Slytherin.

"You can speak freely here, sir, I've already got the wards up… are you alright?"

"Yes, fine. I just didn't think—"

"They're just scared that I'll go off and tattle to Voldemort or torture them or something…" Horris replied lightly, too lightly. "I outrank them, either way, but I'd rather not dwell on why they behave. Draco's the closest thing I have to a friend down here, the rest can go jump off the north tower for all I care… Anyway, you wanted to speak with me, Professor?"

"Remus will do, or Moony… I haven't taught you for years, my boy." Remus chuckled, the title making him feel far too old. (My boy always makes me think of Dumbledore – how about kiddo or similar)

"Wish you did, we might actually learn something."

"Yes, well…" Remus hesitated slightly, shifting his weight. "Back to what I needed to discuss with you…" He could only hope the boy was ready. He looked into his eyes for an instant, wishing this could wait, feeling that it really ought to wait. "Two things actually… one about your future, the other your past, both concerning Lily." Easy one first… "Your mother was part of the Order of the Phoenix, as well as James… have you ever heard of it?"

"No, sir."

"It's a group— a small one— that fights Voldemort, a secret organization outside ministry control led by Dumbledore."

"That's what he meant by 'the old crowd', isn't it? Sirius is part of it…"

"As am I, as are a number of your teachers." He added, nodding. "Lily, Lily was a gem, the jewel of the Order. She was always helping others, even tried to pacify the Slytherin-Gryffindor feud… In the Order she became the greatest fighter against Voldemort. Smart as any Ravenclaw, bold as any Gryffindor, and loyal as the truest Hufflepuff. She was a master of charms and transfiguration, no spell too hard… she became an Animagus there, oh how life loves ironies…"

"How so?"

"We Marauders called her 'Tigerlily' since third year, Sirius at least, after the flower… he teased her like that. Then, lo and behold—"

"Mum was a tiger?" The boy asked eyes wide.

"No," Remus stated fondly, "She wasn't just a tiger. Lily was a Siberian tiger; white as snow and black as night… oh she was lovely! James used to sneak out just to watch her run around the forest after a meeting, sneaking up on her when she lounged on this tree by the lake… always made her fall in… he'd laugh for hours at the sight of her climbing out of the water like a petrified cat, murder in her eyes. She'd chase him you know… catch him too, Sirius even bet she'd kill him one of these days, get overpowered by the instincts— you know? Oh, Sirius always teased their predator-pray relationship." Remus couldn't hide the honest smile; seeing the eagerness Horris held for the subject… he is still Harry… Remus noted gladly, still Harry.

Ever since he had seen, even heard all the things Horris had done, the way he acted for Merlin's sake… Remus wondered if that was the way the boy was. Now, now he wondered if 'Horris', the one everyone saw, wasn't the act he put on; for Slytherins, for his father, for the school. He certainly could not be mistaken for Harry Potter, no sir! 'Horris' seemed as Slytherin as one could get… he scared Slytherins! Was that why Severus liked him, why he now spoke of him as his son, his heir? Did Harry do it for Severus, Remus wondered, did the boy know that this would be a son the old git would want?

'You protect him too Remmy…' Lily had once told him, 'Just because Siri is his Godfather doesn't give you the right to slack off now, alright?'

Remus had eagerly accepted the duty, but now… now he wondered if not keeping the bloody journal to himself had done more harm than good. Did Remus just sentence Harry to live a lie for the rest of his life, striving to meet the expectations of Severus? Was Harry truly happy as Horris, was he thriving, or… or was he pretending to be happy to just survive in this place?

"Is Dad—"

"No." Remus responded flatly, the smile disappearing. Did Horris already overpower the Harry they all knew and loved? Did the boy before him truly love the man he had hated for years— love him like a father?

"Oh," Horris responded, his voice losing the eagerness that emanated from him only moments ago, "because he's got the mark?"

Remus shook his head. The mark was actually why he was offered membership, they needed a spy on the inside and Severus was a spy either way… they had thought he would accept, the offer holding no extra duties on his part, not to mention all the benefits it came with… but no, the man couldn't possibly want to help them, not even Lily!

"He was offered, just refused."

"Why?"

"I don't know." He lied, having just suffered the painful lecture all over again. The man had his reasons (or so he claimed)… either way, they meant absolutely nothing to Remus, not one holding any real merit.

"And you want me to—"

Horris jumped at least two feet, the bang of his door killing the words where they lay at the tip of his tongue. No one had ever had the guts to barge into his room like that…

"Dad?" To say the man before him was mad would be to call Siberia slightly chilly. To put it mildly, the man had murder in his eyes and a wand at hand.

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