The Greater Good
"What seems to have you up so early, Minerva?" asked Dumbledore, looking up.
He had been reading his morning copy of the Daily Prophet, which was emblazoned with the caption, 'Potter or Plotter?' followed by a picture of Harry, when Professor McGonagall, Professor Sprout, and Professor Flitwick knocked, interrupting his quiet morning. He had been preparing himself for Harry's requested meeting and sighed heavily, knowing by the look on McGonagall's face that the morning's serenity was gone.
"Two things." replied McGonagall briskly. "First, why would you sit back and allow Umbridge to dictate last night's Student Address? And second, what on Earth was that Hat going on about last night before the Sorting?"
Dumbledore sighed, placing his hands on his copy of the Daily Prophet that laid before him. He wondered if Flitwick and Sprout were there to discuss something else or to be witnesses.
"As you are well aware, Professor Umbridge has not been merely appointed by the Ministry as a Professor here." said Dumbledore in his soothing tone. "She is a Ministry official and if we silence her at every turn, we will never truly discover her mission until it is too late. As I expressed last night, her speech was, illuminating."
"What do you think she is here to do, Albus?" asked Professor Sprout, a concerned tone to her voice.
"Control, Pomona." said Dumbledore simply. "Fudge wants to discredit me and what better way than to challenge the way the school has been run to date. I have no doubt that, should Fudge have his way, Umbridge will be Headmistress before the year is out."
"What of the school Governors?" asked McGonagall, her nostrils flaring. "Surely they must be advised before any changes can be made."
"Fudge has convinced them that I am attempting to use fear to gain power and make my bid for Minister, even though I have pointed out that I have declined the post no less than five times now." replied Dumbledore calmly, as though they were discussing the weather. "They will not be of any help in this matter."
"What about the Sorting Hat's song?" asked Professor Sprout. "What does that mean, Albus?"
"The Sorting Hat is an ancient and enchanted object created by -" began Dumbledore.
"Yes, Albus, we know what the Hat is." interrupted McGonagall. "What about the prediction?"
Dumbledore gazed into McGonagall's eyes but she was ready for him. The slightest of smiles broke across her face but was gone in an instant. At that moment he knew she would never fully trust him again.
Dumbledore sighed, "Forgive an old teacher his ways, Minerva. The Sorting Hat's prediction is not its first, however, it is most curious indeed. What prophecy it speaks of, I do not know. It is far older than any living being and has sat in this office for hundreds of years. It has peered into the minds of thousands of students and has had the privilege of belonging to a founder."
"Has it made any predictions in your time?" asked Professor Sprout, her eyebrows raised.
Dumbledore sat silent for a moment before answering. He knew that McGonagall would not stop until she was satisfied.
"The Hat has made another prediction in my lifetime. It predicted the rise of Lord Voldemort to power while he was but a student here at Hogwarts." said Dumbledore to the stunned faces of McGonagall and Sprout. Professor Flitwick glared at Dumbledore however, Dumbledore simply smiled. "We did not know, then, to whom the Hat was referring however, I had my suspicions."
"Why not ask the Hat itself?" asked McGonagall curtly, glancing at the Sorting Hat sitting on the bookcase to her left.
"I have tried, Minerva." replied Dumbledore wearily. "The Hat simply refuses to explain itself to anyone."
"Then the Hat is like you, Albus." said McGonagall flatly with a slight nod.
Dumbledore returned the nod and smiled. He was rather enjoying this little game of chess. Flitwick, however, looked as though his always remarkable patience was coming to an end. Seeing this, Dumbledore thought it would be best to bring this spontaneous meeting to a close lest Harry arrived to hear a full on argument.
"If there is nothing else, Minerva, Mr Potter will be here shortly and I do not believe that he is expecting an audience." said Dumbledore politely.
"I have one more thing to add." said Flitwick firmly.
"Yes?" replied Dumbledore, eyebrows raised.
"Yesterday evening you deducted fifty points from Ravenclaw for Ms Lovegood's actions on the train." said Flitwick, straightening his vest. "However, I do not see where Ms Lovegood did anything inappropriate. To the contrary, I believe that Ms Lovegood performed an amazing feat of magic and saved Mr Potter and the other Gryffindors from suffering strained muscles should they have tried to physically lift the three ignorant Slytherins."
"Very eloquently put, Filius, however, my decision still stands." said Dumbledore grinning broadly.
"Nice try, Filius." said Professor Sprout with a chuckle.
"If that is all..." said Dumbledore, nodding.
"Yes, Albus, I believe we are done." said McGonagall, nodding.
McGonagall turned and swept from the room, Professor Sprout and Professor Flitwick close behind. Dumbledore looked down at his paper but looked up again when the door closed to see Flitwick standing near the door.
"Something else, Filius?" asked Dumbledore curiously.
"Yes, Albus, there is." said Flitwick sternly. "Why did you lie to Minerva and Pomona?"
"Did I?" asked Dumbledore, looking surprised.
"You said that the prophecy the Hat spoke of was unknown to you and we both know that this is simply not true." replied Flitwick, folding his arms.
"Are you referring to the prophecy made by Rowena Ravenclaw, Filius?" asked Dumbledore smiling.
"Precisely, Albus." said Flitwick. "That prophecy spoke of a time when two champions would arise and unite the school and the wizarding world, vanquishing all those that seek to destroy us."
"All those that seek to destroy us." repeated Dumbledore, now gazing into the fireplace. "It's a wonderful thought, Filius, and at one time I had believed that this same prophecy was fulfilled too. Alas, that was years ago and now I realize that it was, just like that prophecy, all in someone's head."
Flitwick scoffed, "Just because you do not believe, Albus, doesn't mean that it is not real."
Before Dumbledore could retort, Flitwick swept from the office, slamming the door behind him. Dumbledore sat there, staring off after his tiny friend, feeling sorry that he could not share his optimism. He had to remain focused, Dumbledore told himself. He had to stay on coarse if he was going to save the wizarding world.
Harry and Hermione were descending the staircases early, as not to be late, heading for the stone gargoyle that guards Dumbledore's office. Hermione had insisted on accompanying Harry to the third floor and that she would wait for him there until his meeting was done. Harry wasn't sure how long his meeting might take and had tried to convince Hermione to go to breakfast and he would catch up to her however, Hermione would not budge on the matter. She was sure that this meeting wasn't going to end pleasantly.
They had stayed up till midnight practicing Occlumency while discussing the strange occurrences with Snape back at headquarters, the sensation on the train, and the temperature change with Seamus in the common room. After the incident in the common room it was quite easy for them to converse in private, for everyone that entered while they were down there immediately turned and left. Ron had returned to the common room that night around eleven thirty however, he did not offer any explanation for his absence and went straight to bed mumbling something about being exhausted.
They turned onto the third floor and were making their way down a corridor that would intersect with the main corridor where the entrance to the headmaster's office was, when Harry pulled up quickly and shoved Hermione behind a suit of armor. She made to protest but Harry held up a finger to silence her, peering out around the suit of armor. Hermione heard whispers and the shuffling of trainers on the stone floor coming closer and she ever so slightly peered around the other side of the suit of armor to see whom they were hiding from.
Her mouth gaped as she saw Ron and Luna Lovegood walking down the corridor, whispering to each other, then ducking into an empty classroom. Hermione looked around at Harry who shared her expression. Harry motioned for her to follow him. When she silently protested, he grabbed her by the hand and dragged her with him. As quietly as they could, Hermione getting her robes hung on a nearby shield, they crept close to the door of the classroom that Ron and Luna had entered. The door had not shut completely and Hermione was just able to make out two figures standing close together. They were still talking in hushed voices and she could barely discern what they were saying.
"Last night was amazing!" whispered Ron excitedly.
"Oh yes, I enjoyed it too." replied Luna in her dreamy tone.
"I've never met anyone like you, Luna." said Ron, his voice full of emotion.
The next minute it was perfectly clear that they had begun snogging. Hermione gripped Harry by the arm and dragged him into the next room, closing the door and casting a silencing charm upon it.
"What!" exclaimed Harry.
"Harry, it was obvious that – that they were having a moment – and it's not right to pry." replied Hermione awkwardly, trying not to laugh at Harry's expression.
"Apparently it wasn't their first moment." snickered Harry.
"Oh grow up." hissed Hermione. "It doesn't make any sense. They just met yesterday."
"Jealous?" asked Harry flirtatiously.
"Jealous!?" exclaimed Hermione. "Are you insane? Surely you're not –"
Harry pulled her into a passionate embracing kiss, pushing his hands under her robes and around her waist, untucking her blouse from her skirt as he did so. At the touch of his fingers on her bare skin she melted, wrapping her arms about his neck, her fingers weaving into his untidy hair. She threw her head back as he began caressing her neck while unbuttoning her blouse. She reached down and grasped her wand then whispered the contraceptive charm, knowing where this was hopefully going. All thoughts of where they were simply slipped away as she pulled him closer, her school robes falling to the floor.
Her mind refocused for one second on their surroundings before Harry spun her around, bending her over a nearby desk. As his hands slid up her thighs, lifting her skirt to her waist, she clutched at the desk for support. She felt him pull her knickers down to her knees and heard his trousers fall to the floor before she felt him push inside. She dropped her forehead against the desk, her bushy hair falling into her face, as he began sliding in and out of her. She was fighting back moans that were slowly building inside her until she could no more. Her audible moans came in the form of his name, causing him to breathe heavier. He grasped her waist on both sides just above her arse, pushing further inside her with every thrust until their bodies were flush. Praying that the silencing charm worked at Hogwarts, she began to moan louder, her voice echoing in the room, her hips rotating uncontrollably. He shoved his right hand up her side, grasping her breast and lifting her up from the table. She reached back with her left hand and placed it on his, her fingertips brushing his body as he continued to thrust himself into her, his groans growing louder in her ears. Her orgasm climaxed and she grabbed hold of his right hand with her own, as she raised and lowered her head uncontrollably. She felt him climax too and heard the sound of splintering wood all around them as they collapsed onto the table.
At first she thought that the table had broken beneath them, yet it was still standing under their combined weight. As they whispered "I love you" to each other, her eyes began to focus on the room at large. Piles of wood that were once tables and chairs littered the floor all around them. As they stood up and slowly began to redress, they noticed that only the table before them was untouched.
Harry buttoned his trousers then hugged her, whispering in her ear, "What the bloody hell just happened, Hermione?"
She kissed him on the cheek before whispering, "I have no idea, Harry. Do you think it – it could have been you?"
"I know you drive me wild, Hermione, but all this?" asked Harry flirtatiously.
"Seriously Harry, if you're doing this then you need to gain control over it before anyone gets hurt." said Hermione, boring into his brilliant green eyes with her chocolate-brown ones.
"You're right, Hermione." replied Harry. "If I just caused this then I need to find a way to control it."
Hermione pulled him into a long hug, burying her face into his chest, whispering, "By-the-way, that was incredible!"
She could feel Harry smiling though he didn't say a word. They stood there, holding each other for several minutes, before deciding that being late to a meeting with Dumbledore would not be wise, should he be asked to explain his tardiness. Once they checked that the corridor was clear, they slowly made their way out of the classroom and continued on to their intended destination, pretending as though nothing unusual had happened.
Just as they reached the stone gargoyle, it leapt to one side as Professor McGonagall and Professor Sprout emerged from the spiraling staircase. Professor McGonagall simply raised her eyebrows at the sudden appearance of two of her students, Professor Sprout smiling sweetly at them.
"One moment Mr Potter, Professor Flitwick is still in with the Headmaster." said Professor McGonagall, nodding slightly.
Moments later, Professor Flitwick descended the spiraling staircase and joined Professors McGonagall and Sprout, while eying Harry and Hermione suspiciously.
"When you finish, please join the rest of your fellow students in the Great Hall for breakfast." said Professor McGonagall, before walking past the pair.
Professors Flitwick and Sprout bid them good day as they followed Professor McGonagall. Once they were out of sight, Harry turned to face Hermione so that only she could see his face should someone else appear.
"I don't know what that was all about," whispered Harry "but if I come back from this meeting acting unusual in any way, go immediately to Professor McGonagall for help. After what you told me last night, she may just be the only one on our side."
"You think Dumbledore might do something to you?" whispered Hermione, fear filled her voice.
Harry had not expressed any concern to her about Dumbledore doing anything to him. Then again, he hadn't actually told her everything he was going to ask him and she knew it.
"Harry, I don't want you to go up there!" said Hermione, somewhere between a whisper and a groan.
Harry hugged her then whispered in her ear, "I'll be okay. I'm just being precautious. When I come back down we'll go to breakfast, okay?"
"Please be careful." she whispered.
Harry looked at her, smiled, then kissed her softly before he walked over to the gargoyle and said, "Lemon drops". The gargoyle leapt to one side and Harry waved at Hermione before stepping onto the spiraling staircase. Hermione watched as he disappeared out of sight.
"I thought I smelt something." said a bored, sneering voice.
Hermione whipped around to see Malfoy, Crabbe, and Goyle walking down the corridor towards her. Immediately, Hermione withdrew her wand and pointed it directly at Malfoy's chest. Crabbe and Goyle's eyes widened dramatically, obviously suffering flashbacks from the incident on the train.
"What do you want, Malfoy?" spat Hermione.
"Easy, Granger." sneered Malfoy, holding up his hands in mock surrender. "Wouldn't want you to lose your prefect status."
"You think I care?" hissed Hermione. "I wouldn't care if I got expelled!"
"You should." said Malfoy in a dark tone, lowering his hands.
"What are you three doing on this floor?" asked Hermione suspiciously. "This isn't the way to the Great Hall; at least not for Slytherins."
"We have just as much right to be on this floor as you do, Granger." replied Malfoy.
"Not necessarily." said Professor Flitwick, walking up behind Malfoy, Crabbe, and Goyle.
The three boys spun around to see their charms professor looking quite cross. He was eying the boys with much contempt, which Hermione thought was highly unusual for the normally mild-mannered professor. Hermione quickly stowed her wand inside her robes.
"Professor, what a pleasant surprise." said Malfoy, forcing a smile.
"While I understand Ms Granger's purpose for being here, I do not see what purpose you three boys serve." said Professor Flitwick briskly. "You should be down in the Great Hall for breakfast. Please go there, now."
Malfoy nodded then turned to head towards the stairs, shooting Hermione a filthy look. Crabbe and Goyle seemed lost as they followed Malfoy, as though they weren't sure where they were going. Once they were out of sight, Professor Flitwick approached Hermione.
"Are you okay, Ms Granger?" asked Professor Flitwick.
"Yes Professor, I'm fine." replied Hermione.
"I must say, I've always wondered why you weren't in Ravenclaw, Ms Granger. So intelligent – I dare say more so than any in my house." said Professor Flitwick, smiling when Hermione blushed. "However, I haven't been living under a rock either these past four years. Your Gryffindor traits shine through when paired with Mr Potter and Mr Weasley. Yet, if I might be so bold as to give you a fair bit of advice, Ms Granger," Professor Flitwick took a step closer "do not rely so heavily on those around you to bring to light the traits that make you a Gryffindor, lest you forget what makes you individually special."
Hermione stood speechless, staring at the tiny charms professor. She had never had a personal conversation with him before. Sure, she had many discussions in the past over homework and such, but never had he given her personal advice.
Professor Flitwick nodded then walked away, leaving her to ponder what he had just said.
Harry ascended the spiraling staircase, peering up at the door to the headmaster's office as it came into view. He stepped onto the landing and knocked once on the door, waiting to be summoned. The familiar, "You may enter" came moments later and Harry opened the door, proceeding into the headmaster's office. Dumbledore was seated behind his desk and motioned for Harry to take a seat. He did so, noting that the portraits were feigning sleep as usual. Fawkes the phoenix sat on his perch, looking as magnificent as ever.
"Harry, what brings us together on this fine September morning?" asked Dumbledore, his eyes twinkling.
Harry felt a gentle nudge in his mind and immediately began practicing his Occlumency, shielding his mind from any unwanted probing. He saw Dumbledore smile and wondered if the headmaster was actually happy he was denying him access.
"Professor, I know that you have not told me everything about the night my parents died or why Voldemort wanted to kill them and me." said Harry.
Harry said it as a statement for he did not want to play any games this morning. He had come for the truth and he knew that Dumbledore was keeping things from him.
"And now you want to know all of it – I see." said Dumbledore straightening his glasses. "Tell me Harry, has your scar been hurting you lately?"
"No Professor, it hasn't." replied Harry truthfully.
"When would you say was the last time it hurt?" asked Dumbledore, looking very intrigued.
"About a month ago." replied Harry.
He wondered where Dumbledore was leading or why it seemed so important to the headmaster. Pure curiosity drove him to allow Dumbledore to dictate the conversation a little longer.
"I see. Tell me Harry, do you remember anything unusual about the last time your scar hurt?" asked Dumbledore, now staring at Harry's scar.
Harry sat quiet, not sure if he wished to divulge that experience. He took comfort in that Dumbledore was having to ask, which meant his Occlumency was holding up.
"Harry, if you would, please indulge this old man's request and I will tell you what you wish to know." said Dumbledore in his grandfatherly tone.
Harry cleared his throat then said, "I was at Hermione's house concentrating on something when the pain in my scar burned like fire. I dropped to my knees and clutched my head. When I opened my eyes I was sitting at a large desk in a massive library across from a grand fireplace. I felt anger – furry, that wasn't my own then, suddenly it was over and I was kneeling in Hermione's hallway once more."
"Do you remember what caused the pain to cease?" asked Dumbledore intently.
"Hermione touched my hands." replied Harry, reddening slightly in the face.
"Am I correct to presume that you and Ms Granger have romantic feelings for each other?" asked Dumbledore politely.
Harry simply nodded. Dumbledore smiled broadly at this, then as swiftly as Harry's Firebolt, Dumbledore changed the topic of conversation.
"Harry, I will explain to you, as best I can, why Lord Voldemort wanted to kill you and your parents, as well as why you survived." said Dumbledore. "However, please remember that some of it is guesswork."
When Harry did not respond, Dumbledore continued, "Deep within the Department of Mysteries, at the Ministry of Magic, there is a prophecy."
Dumbledore raised his wand and pointed it at a black cabinet just beneath Fawkes' perch. Out of it rose the Pensieve, the object in which Harry saw the trial of Barty Crouch Jr last year. The Pensieve levitated over to the Headmaster's desk and came to rest in its center. Dumbledore lifted his wand to his temple and pulled a strand of silvery substance from it, then placed it into the Pensieve and swirled the Pensieve with his wand tip.
A figure rose out of the Pensieve, draped in shawls, her eyes magnified to enormous size behind her glasses, and she revolved slowly. But when Professor Trelawney spoke, it was not in her usual mystic voice, but in the harsh, hoarse tones Harry had heard her use once before:
"The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches... born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies... and the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not... and either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives... the one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord will be born as the seventh month dies..."
The figure stopped spinning and sank back into the Pensieve. Harry sat there, a mixture of shock and anger filling him.
"This prophecy was foretold sixteen years ago to me while I was interviewing for the post of Divination teacher down at the Hog's Head in Hogsmeade." said Dumbledore. "It speaks of a boy that would be born at the end of July to those that have defied Lord Voldemort three times. This boy would be the Dark Lord's undoing and that he would mark the boy as his equal but the boy would possess power the Dark Lord knows not. It also states that one must die at the hand of the other."
"A boy born at the end of July?" repeated Harry, his anger rising. "That's what caused Voldemort to attack and kill my parents; BECAUSE HE WAS TRYING TO KILL ME!? THAT COULD HAVE MEANT ANY NUMBER OF CHILDREN! WHY ME?"
Harry leapt to his feet and a small table near the door, loaded with tiny silver objects, turned over sending the tiny objects crashing to the floor. Dumbledore stared at Harry, a mixture of shock and what could have been fear fluttered across his face.
"Please have a seat, Harry, and I will try to explain why." said Dumbledore softly.
Harry sat back down, still seething inside at the thought of the injustice. What else could have sent Voldemort on such a murderous quest, thought Harry.
"Why he chose to believe that the prophecy referred to you is unclear." said Dumbledore. "My guess is because the Death Eater that heard the prophecy did not hear it in its entirety. He was caught and thrown out by the tavern's keeper. It also stands to reason that your parents were some of his strongest resistance and known for their skill. Naturally, this would lead Lord Voldemort to choose you as his future foe."
"So why didn't I die?" asked Harry. "If no one ever survives the killing curse them why am I here with nothing but this scar to show for it and why has it tingled and burned for years?"
Dumbledore sighed, "Again, my guess is that your mother flung herself between you and Lord Voldemort, trying to protect you. When he killed her, her love for you created a shield against him that he did not recognize because he does not understand love. When he attempted to kill you, his curse rebounded onto him."
"So why didn't Voldemort die?" asked Harry, thinking of his mother.
"I believe that Lord Voldemort had taken measures to try to reach immortality; that is, if his body was killed, he could continue to live until he procured a new body." said Dumbledore sadly. "This type of magic is the darkest of all, for doing so requires one to commit murder."
"So he's immortal?" asked Harry, concerned.
"Not quite." replied Dumbledore. "No one can become immortal through magic. While he has found a way to preserve himself, there is a way to kill him."
"How? How do we kill him?" asked Harry, not trying to sound too enthusiastic.
"Harry, the trouble is, I do not yet know how far he has gone to preserve himself." sighed Dumbledore, frustration filling his voice.
"Then tell me this, Professor, why does my scar seem to be connected to him?" asked Harry, trying to suppress his anger.
Dumbledore sat there for a moment, silence filling the room, and Harry was certain that he was deciding whether to lie or to tell the truth.
"Your scar was created by the darkest of magic, the killing curse, and since no one has ever survived before, we are not sure what kind of artifacts it might leave on that person." said Dumbledore.
"Artifacts?" repeated Harry.
"Traces of magic, Harry." replied Dumbledore. "I believe that an artifact was left upon you due to the violent nature of the curse, connecting you and Lord Voldemort. It's curious that Ms Granger's touch was able to help break the connection, if only temporarily. Only time will tell."
Harry was certain that Dumbledore was not being completely honest with him and he could feel his anger rising once more.
"Is there anything you can tell me that might be helpful?" asked Harry. "Anything that might give me a fighting chance? Cause if this prophecy is correct and 'neither can live while the other survives', then that means one of us has to die. If that's true, then it bloody hell isn't going to be me, Dumbledore. In not dying without a fight!" Harry rose to his feet once more, pointing his finger at Dumbledore. "I finally have something to live for and that evil bastard isn't going to win!"
"Harry," said Dumbledore calmly "there is one thing I can tell you, I'm begging you, listen to me and hear me out." Harry slowly sat back down in his chair. "If you are to win and I believe you shall, you must understand that evil does not exist."
If anything could have dumbfounded Harry, this was it. How could Dumbledore say that evil did not exist, thought Harry. It was pure insanity to even think that evil wasn't real!
When Harry sat there, mouth gaping, Dumbledore continued. "Harry, evil is merely a way to express the absence of love. There are those that live and those that live without love. Lord Voldemort does not understand this for he does not feel love, not anymore."
"So you want me to walk up and give him a hug?" asked Harry sarcastically.
"Not exactly," replied Dumbledore softly "I'm just saying that when the day comes and you face Lord Voldemort for the last time, he will be fighting for survival but you should be fighting for something more."
"Why haven't you told me or let me hear the prophecy before - before -" started Harry but trailed off; what Sirius had said to him at Hermione's house finally made sense. "Something he didn't have before." recited Harry. "Voldemort is after the prophecy, isn't he? You said that the Death Eater didn't hear the entire prophecy, so Voldemort wants to read it for himself."
"Hear it, actually." corrected Dumbledore, sighing slightly. "Prophecies stored at the Ministry are memories from someone who witnessed each prophecy being told. In this case, it was me."
"So he thinks that the secret to defeating me is in the prophecy?" asked Harry.
"Correct." replied Dumbledore. "Which is why he cannot ever obtain it."
They both sat quiet for a moment, Harry attempting to digest what he had just heard and deciding whether to believe all of it. Fawkes began to, not sing but, rather hum a tune. The tune resonated inside Harry's head, filling him with courage. Dumbledore turned and looked at the great bird curiously, as though he wasn't sure if he liked what his pet was doing. Dumbledore cleared his throat and Fawkes' humming ceased.
"So, Harry, is there anything else that you wish to discuss with me this morning?" asked Dumbledore, turning to face Harry again.
"Yes there is, actually." said Harry confidently. "Prior Incantanto. Barty Crouch Sr used it last year at the Quidditch World Cup to conjure the last spell cast from my wand."
"Yes, that is correct, Harry." replied Dumbledore, sounding curious. "What about it?"
"Why wasn't it used on Sirius' wand when he was accused of murdering Pettigrew and all those muggles?" asked Harry trying to keep any sign off accusation out of his voice.
"During his arrest, Sirius' wand was lost during the scuffle and the Ministry never recovered it." replied Dumbledore, in what Harry thought was a well rehearsed tone.
Without even thinking Harry responded, "That's because you recovered it."
"HOW DARE YOU ACCUSE ME OF SUCH A THING!" shouted Dumbledore, rising to his feet and clearly losing control; his eyes ablaze; his magic pulsating about him like an invisible shield.
"IT'S TRUE THOUGH, ISN'T IT! YOU TOOK HIS WAND!" shouted Harry standing up defiantly, every inch of his body tingling; his anger scorching his very skin.
"SIRIUS WOULD NOT HAVE BEEN A PROPER GUARDIAN, HARRY! YOU MUST KNOW THIS!" shouted Dumbledore, a little pleading mingled in his voice now.
"YOU TOOK HIS WAND TO PREVENT ME FROM BEING RAISED BY HIM, ALLOWED HIM TO GO TO AZKABAN, ALL SO I COULD BE TORTURED AND PUNISHED BY THE DURSLEYS!" screamed Harry, losing complete control; sounds of breaking glass behind him.
Whatever Dumbledore saw in Harry's face, he wasn't prepared for it. He sunk back into his chair, unable to take his eyes from Harry. Seeing Dumbledore's reaction settled Harry a bit, allowing him to regain control and assure that his Occlumency was still in place.
"Use Sirius' wand to clear his name." said Harry, controlled anger filling his voice.
"Even if I had the wand, my position with the wizarding world at this moment would cause anything I said or did to be considered untrustworthy." said Dumbledore apologetically.
"You misunderstand me, Professor," said Harry calmly "I don't care how you do it, just clear his name. I don't care if you have to produce Pettigrew himself, just do it."
"And if I cannot?" asked Dumbledore inquisitively.
"I'm not going to threaten you, Professor, if that is what you're asking." replied Harry. "You said that the time will come when we must choose between what is right and what is easy. What I'm asking isn't easy, but it is right."
Harry turned to leave but was halted by the sight of broken glass, shattered objects, and busted tables. Dumbledore waved his wand and all that was broken, mended at once. Harry only nodded then proceeded to the door.
"Harry," said Dumbledore "I cannot promise that I can clear Sirius' name, but I will try. This should have been done years ago. Forgive me."
Harry opened the door then turned to Dumbledore and said, "Thank you" before exiting the office despite a frustrated looking Headmaster. He descended the spiraling staircase as the stone gargoyle leapt out of the way, granting him access to the third floor corridor. Hermione was waiting for him at the bottom of the staircase, an anxious look on her face. Harry could tell that she had been worried for him.
"Don't look so worried, Hermione." said Harry smiling.
"Don't look so worried?" repeated Hermione indignantly. "Why shouldn't I be worried, Harry Potter?"
"Is this what having a girlfriend is like?" replied Harry with a mischievous grin.
Hermione grinned, slapping him on the chest before hugging his right arm as they began to walk down the corridor, back the way they came. When they reached the row of classrooms, Harry dragged her into the same room they'd been in before, Hermione spluttering, "Surely not!"
Harry laughed as he shut the door behind them, cast the silencing charm, then turned to face an exasperated Hermione. He then proceeded to tell her everything that happened in the Headmaster's office. When he finished, Hermione just stood there, looking at him.
"Say something, please!" said Harry after several minutes.
"Oh, Harry!" exclaimed Hermione, looking bewildered. "I know you said that you felt like – but a prophecy? Oh, Harry!"
At this she flung herself into his arms, hugging him tightly as tears flowed down her face. Harry wasn't sure what to do. He felt stupid now, to have thought that she wouldn't respond this way. How would he feel if she told him that something so horrific was prophesied about her; someone he loved so deeply. Harry returned her hug, burying his face into her sweet-smelling hair. It was a while before either said anything. Harry was about to suggest that they skip breakfast and head to the common room when Hermione spoke.
"DON'T DO IT!" screamed the voice in the back of Hermione's mind. "HE'LL NEVER FORGIVE YOU! YOU'LL BE COMPLETELY ALONE!"
I don't care, if I continue to keep it from him, when he does find out he'll surely hate me, thought Hermione.
"Lucius Malfoy said that Voldemort promised to keep my parents safe, not if I kept you quiet but, if I gave him inside information about you." said Hermione, her voice breaking, clutching Harry tighter.
"W-What?!" stammered Harry, lifting his head away from hers, his grip slackening.
"I'm sorry, Harry!" wailed Hermione. "I'm so sorry!"
She looked up through tear filled eyes to see a look of confusion on Harry's face. This had completely taken him off guard, as she had expected.
"What have you told him?" asked Harry, his brow furrowed.
"Nothing useful, I promise!" squeaked Hermione. "Just that you were meeting with Dumbledore this morning and that you were looking for Charlie."
"How did he take that?" asked Harry, a hollow sound to his voice.
"W-Well, I dunno, but I don't think V-Voldemort captured Charlie anymore." replied Hermione shaking all over.
"Why not?" asked Harry, looking even more confused.
"W-Well, Draco –" began Hermione but Harry cut her off.
"Draco!" exclaimed Harry. "He knows what his father has done to you!"
A murderous look covered Harry's face and Hermione gripped him harder, ready to tackle him, should he attempt to go find Draco. As he felt her grip tighten, his countenance changed and Hermione could see his face soften as she stared into his brilliant green eyes.
"So you're suppose to tell Draco all my secrets so he can send it to his father." said Harry softly. "I wonder how he'll pass that information along?"
"Please forgive me, Harry!" squeaked Hermione.
"Forgive you?" asked Harry. "For what?"
"For not telling you everything." replied Hermione, swallowing hard to fight back more tears. "I thought you wouldn't understand."
"Actually, I do understand, Hermione." said Harry. "Probably more than you think. What I don't understand is why are you telling me now? What has happened to make you tell me?"
"You told me everything, Harry." replied Hermione. "You trust me so much, I didn't even have to ask. There was a part of me that didn't want to, but I couldn't go any longer without telling you."
Harry smiled then pulled her into a loving hug. Hermione lost control and wept hard into his chest, feeling safe and at the same time extremely worried for him.
"What do we do?" asked Hermione, once she regained control.
"About Malfoy or the prophecy?" asked Harry.
"About both, I guess." replied Hermione, shaking again.
"As for the prophecy, it just confirms what I felt and answers the question, why." said Harry. "Now, for the matter with Draco," Hermione pushed back so she could see his face, which was plastered with his smirk "we're going to use this to our advantage. We're going to continue to pretend I know nothing, all the while feeding him some very convincing stories about me, throwing them off-balance."
Hermione was, as always, amazed by Harry. She had been so scared that he would be angry, she never considered that he might actually understand.
"Do you think that Dumbledore will clear Sirius' name?" asked Hermione, finding her strength again to stand on her own.
"I dunno, Hermione, but time will tell." replied Harry shrewdly. "Let's skip breakfast and head back to the common room. Dobby can bring us something from the kitchen. I don't feel like seeing anyone right now."
Hermione agreed, and together they walked back to the common room, Hermione feeling strangely free. When they reached the common room, it wasn't empty. The twins were standing near the fireplace and immediately motioned for Hermione and Harry to join them, troubled looks on their faces.
"What's wrong?" whispered Harry as he approached the twins.
The twins looked around the room to make sure there was no one lingering about before speaking, Hermione growing continually more concerned.
"Tonks has gone missing." whispered Fred.
"Hasn't checked in since before we headed to Kings Cross Station." whispered George.
Hermione placed a hand over her mouth to keep from gasping aloud.
"Does the Order know where she was before she vanished?" whispered Harry, frowning heavily.
"Yes." whispered Fred.
"Some place called the Valley of the Mills." whispered George.
The sound of footsteps coming down from the girl's dorm hushed the conversation immediately. Ginny appeared moments later, hurrying through the common room and didn't even notice the four near the fireplace.
"Overslept again." said Fred.
"Mum is always on her at the Burrow for missing breakfast." said George.
"We need to find a better place to meet." said Hermione, looking around the spacious but very public common room.
"We also need some breakfast." said Fred.
"Before we faint from starvation." said George.
"Coming up." said Harry and before the twins could say anything he cried, "Dobby!"
The tiny elf appeared in front of Harry, wearing one of Hermione's knitted sweaters and mismatched socks. Dobby bobbed up and down on the balls of its feet, grinning madly at Harry.
"Harry Potter called for Dobby?" inquired the tiny house elf.
"Yes Dobby." replied Harry. "Could you please bring us something from the kitchen. I do not feel like eating in the Great Hall this morning."
"Something to eat for Harry Potter and his Alliance. Dobby will fetch it for you straight away!" said the elf joyfully.
"Hang on there." said Fred. "What do you mean by Harry's Alliance?"
"Dobby meant no offense, sir. Dobby was only repeating what Dobby heard Professor Dumbledore say to Professor Flitwick." said the tiny elf, looking alarmed.
"No offense taken." said Fred.
"So what did the Headmaster say about our Alliance?" asked George.
"Dobby heard Professor Dumbledore say that Harry Potter's Alliance was growing by the minute... that they had already made an example of young Malfoy and his friends aboard the Hogwarts Express." said the tiny elf, trembling slightly.
"When did you hear this?" asked Hermione, wondering whether Dobby had been spying on Dumbledore for some reason.
"Dobby heard this while in the trophy room, miss." squeaked the elf. "Dobby was cleaning the trophies and awards when Professor Dumbledore and Professor Flitwick entered. They did not notice Dobby and Dobby did not want to interrupt, so Dobby remained quiet."
"Dobby, you can go fetch our food now." said Harry, smiling broadly. "My Alliance can ask you more questions later."
Dobby bowed low then disappeared with another loud CRACK. Hermione shot Harry a filthy look for being referenced as his Alliance. Harry smiled broadly at this.
Minutes later, Dobby and three Hogwarts House Elves, wearing togas embroidered with a large 'H', appeared with a loud CRACK, laden with trays of egg-on-toast, fried tomatoes, biscuits, jam, sausage, black pudding, marmalade, a flask of orange juice, and a flask of pumpkin juice. The three Hogwarts House Elves placed their trays on nearby tables, bowed low, then disappeared with another loud CRACK. Dobby remained behind, looking anxiously at Harry.
"Excellent!" said George, rubbing his hands together.
"Thanks, Dobby." said Harry, plating a round of everything.
"Dobby is always happy to help Harry Potter!" squeaked the elf.
"Hermione is right, for future meetings of, the Alliance, we really should find ourselves a better meeting place." said Fred, eating a biscuit. "Somewhere less exposed."
"Agreed." said Harry. "Especially, if we're being watched."
"Might Dobby make a suggestion, Harry Potter, sir?" asked the tiny elf.
"Certainly." replied Harry.
"Harry Potter should use the Come-And-Go room or otherwise known as the Room of Requirement." squeaked Dobby.
"The what?" asked Harry.
"It's just a myth." said Hermione, rolling her eyes.
"Dobby means no disrespect, miss, but you are mistaken." squeaked the elf. "The room does exist. It is a room that a person can only enter when they have real need of it. Sometimes it is there, and sometimes it is not, but when it appears, it is always equipped for the seeker's needs. Dobby has used it."
"Can you show us this room after we eat, Dobby?" asked Harry excitedly.
"Absolutely!" cried Dobby, beaming at Harry.
After they finished eating and Dobby had cleared away the empty trays, plates, and flasks, the four checked the Marauder's map to see if the coast was clear, then followed Dobby to an empty corridor on the seventh floor. An ugly tapestry of Barnabas the Barmy being clubbed by trolls hung along one side to an opposing stretch of bare stone wall.
"Okay, Dobby, how does it work?" asked Harry.
Hermione was still feeling very sceptical about this however, Dobby had no reason to lie to them.
"Simple, Harry Potter, sir." squeaked Dobby. "All one has to do is concentrate on what they need then walk back and forth three times in front of this wall."
Harry closed his eyes and walked back and forth in front of the wall three times. Immediately, upon his third pass, a large polished door with a brass knob appeared in the wall. Hermione watched, a little anxiously, as Harry opened the door, then stepped inside. Hermione and the twins slowly followed him inside as Dobby smiled brightly. The room was spacious and grand, complete with tables, chairs, sofas, a fireplace, and a wall full of books.
"Is Harry Potter pleased?" asked Dobby anxiously, his large orb-like eyes shining brightly.
"Very." replied Harry and Dobby beamed.
"Mr Potter," said Fred, in his best Percy impersonation "I do believe that we have found the perfect headquarters for the Alliance."
"Absolutely!" replied Harry.
Hermione had to agree, the room was perfect, despite what she thought of calling themselves the Alliance.
"You sent for me, Dumbledore?" asked Snape as he closed the door to the Headmaster's office behind him.
"Yes Severus, there are two tasks I need you to do." replied Dumbledore looking very business-like.
"Anything." replied Snape.
"I need you to arrange for Pettigrew to be captured, publicly, by the Ministry." said Dumbledore, peering over his half-moon spectacles at Snape.
Snape's demeanour darkened dramatically as he stared at Dumbledore before replying, "And the other?"
"As for the other task, I believe I will ask Kingsley to take care of it for me." said Dumbledore knowingly. "The Pettigrew request will be difficult enough without raising suspicions from Lord Voldemort."
"Very well." said Snape silkily. "Might I inquire what the second task is?"
"Certainly." replied Dumbledore. "I am going to have Sirius' wand delivered anonymously to Mr Tringle, editor of the Daily Prophet, with instructions explaining what it is and to take it to Mr Ollivander for verification of it's authenticity."
"I see." said Snape coldly. "Of course, Mr Tringle will be intrigued by this discovery and perform Prior Incantanto on the wand to recall the last spells cast."
"Precisely." said Dumbledore. "That, and the reappearance of, the once thought to be dead, Pettigrew will without a doubt inspire a very interesting article."
"Why the sudden urge to exonerate Sirius, Dumbledore?" spat Snape, no longer able to hide his contempt.
"Harry has brought it to my attention that this should have been resolved years ago." replied Dumbledore smiling.
"So Potter has demanded that his godfather be exonerated and you just –" began Snape but fell silent under Dumbledore's stern gaze.
"Keeping Harry on our side is crucial to the success of the Order and your childhood rivalries do not interest me." said Dumbledore sternly. "If you cannot handle the task that I have requested, please tell me now."
"Don't worry Dumbledore, I will make sure that the parasite, Pettigrew, is taken into custody publicly so that not even the Minister himself can deny it." said Snape, a sinister grin curling his sallow face.
Snape swept from the Headmaster's office and Dumbledore turned to gaze at his prize pet, Fawkes, the magnificent bird bowing its head low.
"Do I still have your loyalty, my pet?" asked Dumbledore of the mighty phoenix.
Fawkes hummed softly, it's tones resonating throughout the office.
"All for the greater good, Fawkes." said Dumbledore. "Now, I need you to send Kingsley Shacklebolt a message for me. I need him to come at once."