The Falling

No 27 Spencer Chase

Harry paced back and forth in the first floor hallway of No. 27 Spencer Chase. The sun had almost set and nightfall would soon be upon them. According to Sirius, an escort would be coming to transport them to the Order of the Phoenix's headquarters that night, where they would stay for the rest of the summer. They had spent dinner and super discussing where Voldemort might be holding her parents. Harry asked her to describe what she saw in the mirror repeatedly, hoping she might remember something crucial. All that resulted was a teary and irritated Hermione who left the table frustrated. After supper Hermione had resigned to reading a book in the sitting room about curses and counter curses while waiting.

He was irritable too, for he did not want to go. Sirius confirming that the Order had been spying on him this summer did not help. How did he and Hermione hope to locate her parents while locked up at their headquarters, thought Harry. Once they were back in school, there would be little chance of finding them. He was also going to have to keep a low profile on Voldemort's return so that Lucius and Voldemort would believe that Hermione was doing what she was supposed to. Then there was Ron... what would he say about him and Hermione? Could their friendship survive?

The pressure was overwhelming, dragging him down, an uncontrollable drowning feeling. Harry leaned his back up against the wall, grasping his untidy hair with both hands.

Hermione closed her book, Countering The Curse, and placed it in her trunk which her and Harry had carried downstairs earlier. Their conversation earlier had left her feeling hollow and small. As much as Harry would not admit it, they had no idea where to begin trying to find her parents and she knew it. They just did not know enough about Voldemort and his followers to even formulate a place to start.

She rubbed her hands over her face, trying to stimulate some sort of thought. They needed someone with information that they could trust. Unfortunately, nobody came to mind. She could see the sun setting through the bay window as it burnt the sky red, reminding her that soon their escort would arrive. She heard a thud from the hallway and hurried to see what was the matter, withdrawing her wand from her pocket as she went.

"HARRY!" shouted Hermione.

Harry was down on his knees, grasping his hair with his hands, eyes clinched, and looking as though he was in considerable pain. Hermione rushed to him, casting her wand to the floor, kneeling down beside him and gently touched his hands. She could feel twigs of his hair which he was grasping in his hands, soaked with sweat. Immediately, Harry looked up, his eyes full of fear, beads of sweat covering his face, gasping for breath.

"Harry?" whispered Hermione. "A-Are you o-okay?" she stammered.

"It was my scar." said Harry weakly. "It burnt and felt as though it might burst open from pain but the moment you touched me, it stopped."

Hermione hugged him, sweat from his face soaking her shoulder. Harry's scar burning had always meant danger; that Voldemort was near. So what did this mean, she thought. She was so mad at herself for bringing him here. If anything had happened to Harry while on the way she would have never forgiven herself. Harry pushed himself back away from her into a sitting position, leaning back against the wall.

"There's something we need to get straight before the Order's escort gets here tonight." said Harry as he lightly rubbed his scar.

"What's that Harry?" asked Hermione hesitantly, knowing this could be the talk she'd been dreading.

"Us." said Harry simply.

"What about us?" asked Hermione quietly, not looking at him.

Harry reached over and touched her face, causing her to raise her head up. As she did so their eyes met and she could not look away.

"What is us?" asked Harry. "I don't want to misunderstand or misinterpret anything."

"I dunno myself." replied Hermione, searching his brilliant green eyes. "I do know what I want it to be though."

"So do I." replied Harry with a smile. "Trouble is, if the Weasley family is in the Order, there's a good chance Ron will be there when we get there. So... we need to be ready for it."

"Harry, you're acting like Ron's an old boyfriend or something." said Hermione defensively.

"You know how he put on about you at the Yule Ball. He was thoroughly jealous of Victor Krum." said Harry.

Hermione remembered how Ron acted at the dance and then she remembered how Harry acted about Cho Chang. How would Harry act when he saw Cho at school, thought Hermione. Would he continue to help her find her parents? Would he still want to be with her? Cho was very pretty, a quidditch seeker for Ravenclaw, and a whole year older than her. She felt her stomach tighten at the thought of Cho and Harry together.

"What about Cho?" asked Hermione, raising her eyebrows.

"What? Cho Chang? W-What about her? She's not in the Order, is she?" asked Harry confused.

"I don't think so, but she will be at Hogwarts." replied Hermione folding her arms.

"Hogwarts? I hadn't even thought that far ahead yet." said Harry. "Besides, that was nothing. I just fancied her, that's all. She chose Cedric."

Hermione realized that Harry was thinking about Cedric now by the anguished look on his face. Before she could say anything though, Harry's expression changed to that of a mixture of frustration and something she just couldn't discern.

"Do you honestly think that I would abandon you for Cho?" asked Harry.

Hermione did not answer him but instead stared at the floor. She knew that Harry wouldn't hurt her purposely, but if Cho showed interest again this year, how could she compete? She had never considered herself pretty and Harry didn't have to be her boyfriend to help save her parents, thought Hermione.

"After all these years Hermione, I would think you knew me better." said Harry as he reached over and lifted her chin with his finger.

"I know you'll help me find my parents, Harry." replied Hermione.

"But you don't think I'll want to be with you once I see Cho, aye?" asked Harry shaking his head, a quirky grin on his face.

"I dunno Harry. We've kinda redefined the word "mates" faster than a Firebolt." said Hermione blushing.

" I dunno about that." replied Harry. "A year's an awfully long time to me."

"A year?" asked Hermione, confused by this.

"Ever since we rescued Sirius I've had mixed emotions about you." said Harry. "My friendship with Ron and with you held my resolve not to do anything about my feeling except bury them. Then came the Tri-Wizard's Tournament and when everyone else turned their back on me, there you were, the only mate I could count on. Those feelings came back and I buried them again, even when I saw you in your gown at the Yule Ball. I forced myself to believe that my gratitude for your friendship was why I felt that way. In the end, it's always been you; the mountain troll; Quirrell possessed by Voldemort; the Basilisk; the Dementors; the Tri-Wizard Tournament. Without you, I wouldn't be here."

Hermione was rendered speechless by what she had just heard. Tears were streaming down her cheeks now. She wiped at them trying not to look foolish. What she would have given to hide herself behind one of her books, but she knew now that it was her feelings that were open to Harry like a book, there for him to read. This was why he was sharing his feelings with her now.

Hermione sniffed as she said, "You're a really great wizard, Harry. That's why you've done those things, not because of me."

Harry chuckled then sighed, "Don't you see, you gave me the courage and encouragement to do those things, face those adversities. I was able to do those things because of you."

Hermione had no response to this for she was once again rendered completely unable to speak. His words made her feel so happy it almost felt indecent. How dare she feel like this when her parents were still in danger. After swallowing a few times, Hermione was able to regain speech.

"I-I... let's run away, together. Let's find my parents and just run away! Forget Voldemort; forget the Order!" said Hermione hysterically.

"Hermione, you know I can't." replied Harry calmly. "Voldemort will hunt me wherever I go. He will not stop till I'm dead. He's obsessed with me; my ability to survive when others perish at his hand. We would be on the run for the rest of our lives."

"I DON'T WANT YOU TO DIE!" shouted Hermione as she bent over into her lap sobbing.

Harry immediately was up on his knees and grabbed her, pulling her into a hug, stroking the back of her head.

"It's okay Hermione, I've got you." whispered Harry into her ear.

She sobbed into his shoulder, clutching at his back. After a few minutes Hermione was able to collect herself so that she could think clearly. When she was finally able to lift her head up she could see traces of tears on Harry's cheeks too.

"What do we do, Harry? Do we go with the Order? How will we ever be able to search for my parents while there?" asked Hermione staring into his green eyes.

Harry sighed, "I've been thinking about that. If the Order is watching for Voldemort then they might have an idea where his followers are hiding. I'm sure one of his followers has your parents."

"The Order isn't going to tell you Harry. Didn't you hear what Sirius said? He's been trying to get you inducted but they don't think your ready." said Hermione.

"Yeah, I got that much." replied Harry, huffing slightly. "But you said it yourself, the Weasleys are probably there."

"So?" asked Hermione, trying to decide how that would help.

"So, that would mean the twins are there and if there are two better sneaks, I don't know them." replied Harry, smirking.

"Would they help us spy on the Order?" asked Hermione, raising her eyebrows questioningly.

"I know they will; they owe me, big time!" said Harry with a smirk.

Hermione did not like the sound of that. What had Harry done for them to be so confident that they would help. She looked at him apprehensively, afraid to ask why. Harry's smirk broadened into a smile at her look.

"Not to worry, Hermione, I'm merely funding their joke shop business." said Harry as he continued to smile.

Hermione's mouth fell open at this revelation, her brow furrowing in disbelief. She couldn't believe he'd do such a thing, funding two of the biggest rule breakers in school.

In reaction to Hermione's look, Harry added, "It's my money, Hermione, and I think it's a great investment which could pay off in many ways."

"I hope you're right." replied Hermione skeptically. "So then, we go with our escort and chance it?"

"Absolutely not." said Harry indignantly. "After what Sirius said earlier, we are not leaving here with them. Not tonight, at least."

"Harry, what do you expect to do? Ask them to come back tomorrow?" asked Hermione incredulously.

"No, we convince them to stay." replied Harry calmly.

"But how?" asked Hermione, frustration building inside her.

"Dunno yet. We'll just have to figure that out when they get here." replied Harry, rising to his feet. "I want a chance to ask a few more questions before I decide to play along."

Harry helped Hermione to her feet and she wondered how he expected to succeed with Order members. The idea he could trick them into staying there seemed ridiculous however, counting against Harry wasn't always wise either.

Suddenly, there was a loud clicking noise coming from the back door, as though someone was unlocking it with a key. Harry and Hermione withdrew their wands then proceeded slowly into the kitchen. No lights were on and the outside sunset casted an eerie glow threw the open window curtains.

Two people had entered the kitchen, wands drawn, standing just to the other side of the table. Hermione immediately recognized the magical electric blue eye of Professor Moody, though the other individual, a young and very curvy witch, was not familiar.

Hermione started to lower her wand but Harry coughed as he twitched his wand, gathering a tighter grip while steadying it's focus on Professor Moody's chest. Hermione mimicked his wand movements.

"Someone's taught you well, boy." growled Moody. "Never lower your wand till you've identified the person that stands before you. Could be a Death Eater disguised using polyjuice potion."

"Well, how do I know if you're the real Professor Moody, then?" scoffed Harry. "The last Moody I met was Barty Crouch Jr. and we know how that turned out."

"Professor Moody! Can't see how I could be called Professor, lest you were in that box with me this past year." growled Moody.

"Well... why don't ya ask him somethin' that only the real Harry Potter would know, Mad-Eye?" asked the young witch.

"I was getting to that Nymphadora!"growled an irritated Moody.

"Call me Tonks!" shouted the witch as her lilac hair turned a deep red.

"Shut it!" growled Moody. "Now, what did you tell Remus Lupin you heard during your first patronus lesson on battling Dementors?"

Hermione looked at Harry, wondering if he would reply or request another question. She had never heard him tell what it was he thought of when he casted a patronus before.

"I heard my mum and dad before Voldemort killed them." replied Harry with a placid expression on his face. "You and Lupin been discussing my life in your spare time?"

Moody did not reply. Hermione covered her mouth with her free hand and saw this Tonks witch do the same. How could he know what his parents sounded like, thought Hermione.

"Now, my question for you, Mad-Eye." said Harry twitching his wand. "What is Sirius Black's secret?"

"He can transform into a large black dog." growled Moody.

All four lowered their wands slowly at the same time. Hermione watched as Tonks and Mad-Eye Moody stowed their wands inside their cloaks as she placed her wand inside her front jean pocket.

"Don't put your wand there, boy!" roared Moody. "What if it was to ignite? Better wizards than you have lost buttocks, you know!"

Hermione looked to see Harry pulling his wand out of his back pocket and stowing it in his front jean pocket. She reached over and flipped on the light switch so everyone could see properly. Mad-Eye glared at her with his electric blue eye. Moody was scarred and battle worn with long grizzled grey hair while Tonks was pretty with short hair, which had turned lilac again, and dark eyes that seemed to twinkle in the light.

"Who d'you know who's lost a buttock?" asked Tonks interestedly.

"Never you mind!" replied Moody. "Now, we have a schedule to keep. We'll be traveling by broom, tight formation. You'll be following Nymphadora, Mr. Potter, and Miss Granger will be following me."

"I said, call me Tonks!" hissed Tonks.

"We don't have brooms." said Hermione, looking hopeful for she hated brooms.

"We brought you a broom, Granger, and we brought Harry's Firebolt." said Tonks. "You can make sure I don't loose my buttocks on the way, Harry."

Hermione was about to snicker when she saw Tonks wink at Harry. She immediately looked at Harry, who had lifted his eyebrows into his untidy hair while looking at the floor. Hermione felt heat about her neck as she ground her teeth.

Hermione cleared her throat, "So, Mad-Eye, do you trust everyone in the Order?"

Harry glanced at Hermione out of the corner of his eye. She could tell that he was suppressing a grin. Hermione knew that Moody's weakness was his paranoia.

"Huh," growled Moody. "I don't fully trust anyone, not anymore. You wouldn't either if you've seen and heard the things I have."

"So, do all the Order members know Harry is being moved tonight?" asked Hermione, not wasting any time, going for the kill.

Moody glared at her still, if not even more intense than before. He was thinking very hard before answering her.

"What you playing at there, Granger?" asked Tonks suspiciously.

"Nothing, and my name is Hermione. All I'm saying, is that Sirius said Mundungus was apart of the Order and he's not the most upstanding of wizards."

Hermione was pleased to see Tonks' expression soften, her eyes full of misgivings. Mad-Eye was still glaring at Hermione with his magical eye but she stood resolve, determined not to show weakness.

Finally, Moody gruffed and said, "You've made your point, Miss Granger. We'll stay here and head out just before daybreak."

Mad-Eye Moody withdrew his wand and pointed it towards the window as a silvery patronus shot from the end of his wand, off into the night. Hermione wondered what message Mad-Eye had sent, and to whom he had sent it. He then pointed his wand at the cupboards, causing several tea bags and a tea pot to fly over to the stove-top, the pot filling with water from the sink as it passed. The burner beneath the tea pot roared to life and the tea bags plopped into the pot.

"Let's sit." growled Moody as he thrust a chair back from the kitchen table and groaned as he took a seat.

Hermione, Harry, and Tonks took seats at the table too. Hermione was pleased to see that Harry sat closest to her while Tonks somewhat perched herself in a chair near Mad-Eye, her legs crossed underneath her.

"So where is this headquarters?" asked Harry, looking at Moody.

Hermione didn't understand why Harry would ask such a question. Surely Mad-Eye wasn't about to discuss it's whereabouts over tea.

"Not about to tell you, am I, boy?" growled Moody.

"Just checking." replied Harry, leaning back a little in his chair.

"You still don't trust me, do you, boy?" asked Moody and Hermione swore she saw a grin flash across his face.

"I just spent nine months with a polyjuice version of you who tried to do me in, so pardon my paranoia." replied Harry coolly.

Hermione could see a very satisfied look on Mad-Eye Moody's face which only made her shake her head as she looked away from the spinning magical eye. Every second, the eye was looking one direction then the other. It was quite dizzying to watch. The tea pot began to whistle and Moody waved his wand, sending four tea cups shooting out of the cupboards and onto the table in front of them. Another wave and the pot was pouring each a steaming cup full. Moody sniffed the tea suspiciously before taking a sip.

"Why risk magic?" asked Harry, staring at Moody.

"They know we're here, boy." growled Moody. "No sense denying it."

"Who knows we're here?" asked Harry.

"Everyone." replied Moody simply.

Harry had no retort but just sat there staring at Moody. Hermione knew that "Everyone" meant Voldemort and the Ministry.

"So, Mr. Moody – "

"Call me Mad-Eye." interrupted Moody.

"Okay – Mad-Eye," continued Hermione "do you think the Order can defeat, uh, Voldemort?" asked Hermione, trying to play further into Moody's paranoia.

Tonks was the only one that winced at the name, Moody was glaring at Hermione again, his magical eye transfixed on her face. Hermione bothered him and she was okay with that.

"We have the best shot." replied Moody, taking another sip of tea. "What's your point, missy?"

"So why did Sirius say that he was lobbying to get Harry into the Order? If Harry is the only wizard alive to survive confrontation with Voldemort, no less than three times now, then why is there even a discussion?" asked Hermione. "Wouldn't the Order want Harry in straight away?"

She wanted to get answers and Moody's paranoia was probably their best chance to find out more about what the Order had in mind for Harry. Hermione had since given up the idea that the Order, even Dumbledore, had his best interests at heart. If it hadn't been for her summoning Harry to her, he would have had to face Dementors, quite possibly, alone. Harry had not been able to elaborate further on his, "playing along", train of thought with the arrival of Moody and Tonks but it was clear that his trust was slipping too.

"Harry is an underage wizard and – "

"And what, Mad-Eye?" interrupted Harry fiercely. "That I'm not capable of defending myself? Not able to hold my own, or is there something I don't know about?"

Moody did not answer Harry but glared at him suspiciously with his normal eye while the magical eye jerked in it's over-sized socket.

"Damn this eye!" growled Moody. "Ever since that scum used it I haven't had full visibility with it!"

Moody reached up and pulled it out of it's socket with a pop, like a plunger clearing a drain. Hermione felt sick at the sight of it and turned her head away.

"Nymph – Tonks, fetch me a glass of water." said Moody.

"Mad-Eye, you do know that's disgusting, don't you?" asked Tonks as she got up and fetched him a glass of water.

Moody placed his magical eye in the glass of water where it spun in circles at dizzying speeds.

"You didn't answer my question, Mad-Eye." said Harry relentlessly.

"There are things that are going on that you need not know about." replied Moody as he took his magical eye back out of the glass and popped it back in with a sickening squishing sound.

"But apparently they are things that affect me. Am I right?" asked Harry.

"If they did I wouldn't tell you, would I?" retorted Moody. "Enough questions. We have an early rise now, so you two get some rest." He pointed at Harry and Hermione. "Tonks and I will take turns keeping watch."

"You can take the first watch then, Mad-Eye" said Tonks stifling a yawn. "Okay if I hunker on your couch Hermione?"

"Yeah, sure." replied Hermione distractedly.

"You two, get on to bed now and rest." said Moody again addressing Harry and Hermione. "You need to have your wits about you when we travel. Constant vigilance."

Harry and Hermione got up and walked upstairs together as Tonks kicked her legs over the back of the couch. A thud and "Ouch!" followed by an "I'm okay!" told them that she had slipped off the couch and had found Hermione's trunk.

"Where's the spare bedroom?" whispered Harry into Hermione's ear.

"I'll show you." whispered Hermione. "You think he can see us?"

"Yep." whispered Harry. "I know he can."

When they reached the top of the stairs Hermione turned and led him down the landing to a room next to hers. She wanted him to stay with her so they could discuss things and, more importantly, so she could hold him.

Harry kissed her on the forehead and whispered, "We'll talk shortly."

Hermione didn't understand what he meant but she nodded anyway and headed to her room as he closed the door to the guest bedroom. Hermione pulled off her clothes and pulled on her night gown. She sat down on the side of the bed, wondering when her life would right itself again.

A tiny voice in the back of her mind whispered, "Harry has come to your aide, as you knew he would. Now, it's time to trust him. He will not let you down."

Hermione nodded to herself, realizing that she must trust Harry. His judgment, while not always what she would do, has proven to be correct in the end every time. She allowed herself to lay back onto her pillow, pulling the covers back and up over her. She closed her eyes and begged her mind to stop functioning. She couldn't however, forget about the fact that Mad-Eye was downstairs, probably watching her with his magical eye. The thought made her shiver.

Hours later, just as Hermione was finally starting to fall asleep, she heard the door to her bedroom creek open then close again. She looked around but saw nothing.

"Harry?" whispered Hermione still lying down.

"It's me." whispered Harry behind her head.

"What are you doing?" asked Hermione, looking towards her dresser.

"Mad-Eye's asleep. Tonks is on patrol now." whispered Harry. "I told you we'd talk shortly."

Hermione was glad he was there but scared they might get caught together. The tiny voice whispered in her head again, "Does it matter? Are you sure Sirius didn't already catch you two?"

"Will you hold me while we talk?" whispered Hermione.

Harry slipped off the invisibility cloak. He was wearing only his boxers. He reached over and pulled back the covers, slipping in behind her, wrapping his body against hers. He draped one arm around her waist and she hugged it with her free arms. She could feel his breath on the back of her neck as he spoke.

"What's with that Tonks woman?" whispered Harry.

"What do you mean?" whispered Hermione with a nasty twang in her stomach.

"Her hair changing like that. How's she doing it? And why is she part of our escort?" whispered Harry.

"I assume she's a Metamorphmagus and an Auror." whispered Hermione.

"A Meta-what? And what makes you think she's an Auror?" whispered Harry, confused.

"A Metamorphmagus is a witch or wizard that can change their physical appearance without the use of wand or potion." whispered Hermione. "I assume that she is an Auror due to how her movements in the kitchen mimicked Mad-Eye's."

"They're hiding something from us." whispered Harry.

"What do you think it is?" whispered Hermione.

"I dunno, but it has to do with me; I'm sure of it!" hissed Harry, tickling her ear.

Hermione simply nodded, laying there thinking hard about Sirius and Mad-Eye's omissions; about how they both had clearly not fully trusted everyone in the Order; about anything to keep her from thinking about Harry's body, separated from hers by only a thin layer of clothing. They laid in silence for a while, Hermione rehearsed spells to keep her mind active.

Harry pulled his arm away and she thought he was about to leave. Instead, he tugged at the bottom of her night gown so that her bare legs touched his. He placed his hand on her thigh and her mind became numb. This was almost more than she could bear, her hands grasping the covers for support.

"We need to go with them in the morning." whispered Harry. "It's our best chance to find out where your parents might be. We also need to keep up appearances, as I'm sure that's where Voldemort expects us to be."

"What do you mean? How would Voldemort know were there?" asked Hermione, feeling very scared.

"Sirius and Mad-Eye both made it very clear that they do not trust everyone in the Order. This means that they believe a Voldemort spy is in the Order." whispered Harry. "That's why you so easily convinced Mad-Eye to wait till morning."

"I'm scared, Harry." whispered Hermione. "It feels like he's everywhere."

"I know but – "

Hermione didn't let him finish. Without really thinking she pulled her night gown off over her head then turned to face Harry, kissing him passionately. She didn't want to think anymore. Harry returned her passion, removing her knickers then his boxers. She wrapped her legs around him, wishing the world would just go away.

Voldemort stood staring out the large ornate window at the cloudless night sky. What had happened earlier still bothered him and what bothered Lord Voldemort, must be dealt with. He had been sitting, meditating on his plans, when he was struck with a blindingly clear vision. He was kneeling on the floor but it wasn't him; it was Potter; he was Potter! He could feel Potter's fear, his sadness, his worry, and his guilt. He could see Potter's memories and his desires. Then suddenly there was pain, such like which he had never felt before!

Voldemort had awaken, slumped over on the desk in front of him, apparently unconscious. He was fortunate to be alone when it had happened, for had it occurred in front of witnesses, much alarm would have been made. As he stood there thinking, he wondered if Potter had experienced the same; if Potter had probed into his mind. Voldemort found this thought to be very disturbing, indeed. He wondered if having the blood of another living vessel flowing through his veins had caused this bond. The door behind him opened, creaking slightly.

"Come in, Lucius." said Voldemort, not bothering to turn away from his gazing.

"My Lord, how may I serve you?" said Lucius bowing low.

"How goes our little experiment?" asked Voldemort, now turning to face Lucius.

"The results have been just as you predicted, my Lord." replied Lucius.

What resembled a smile formed on Voldemort's face. He glided past Lucius, round a large desk that stood before two towering bookcases and sat down in a large throne-like chair. Lucius turned, head still bowed.

"You may look upon me, Lucius." hissed Voldemort.

Lucius immediately lifted his head back straight upon his shoulders.

"You have done well, so far, Lucius. See that my plan continues go accordingly and you will be rewarded." said Voldemort.

"Thank you, my Lord." said Lucius, bowing then raising his head once more. "I will not fail you."

"You may go, Lucius." hissed Voldemort.

Lucius bowed immediately, then turned and swept from the room, a look of conquest on his face.

Voldemort sat there, hissing softly to himself, admiring his great plan. He wondered if this new discovery; this strange connection, could be controlled and if so, used to further his plans. He would have to meditate on this. Nevertheless, soon all those things that had gone wrong nearly fifteen years ago would be rectified. Soon, his forces would be more powerful than ever. Soon, all things would be made right, the prophesy would be his, and Harry Potter would feel the wrath of Lord Voldemort.

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