Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Chapter 4: A Guest at Headquarters

I am a huge Harry Potter Fan. Besides reading each book over and over again, I have read a lot of fanfictions from all over the places. So, I decided to try and write one myself. I know that its going to be nothing compared to the original series, yet I would love it if you read and review it for me. 
Note: Anything that you recognize in this story belongs to J.K.Rowling.  ________________________________________________________________________________


Harry lay on his bed. His head was still buzzing with the evening’s happenings. Sirius was falling through the veil. Dumbledore was falling from the North Tower. The images flashed in his mind yet again and Harry shivered. The Burrow was attacked because of him. He was responsible for it and this time no one could deny it. He was sure that the death eaters wanted to get to him and they knew where to find him because of his friendship with the Weasleys. Uncle Vernon was right – he put everyone around him in danger. Lucky that no one died tonight and add to the list of lives that had ended because of him. Harry’s mind filled with guilt. Everyone was in danger because of him, because he was not up to fulfilling his destiny and here he was… doing nothing.

When the horizon lightened with the first rays of dawn, Harry could no longer pretend to sleep. He got up and went down to the kitchen. He found Kingsley and Lupin in deep conversation. Arthur Weasley was also sitting at the table with his head in his hands. When Harry entered, they all looked up at him. Lupin barely smiled at him. Harry went to the stove and put on the kettle for tea. He could feel all the eyes on him. ‘They must be wondering how I can carry on doing nothing when people are being attacked and dying because of me.’ “Well I should get going. There is a lot to be done at the ministry. Coming Arthur?” Mr. Weasley left for the ministry with Kingsley.
“Good morning Harry. Are you feeling better now?”
“Yes.” Harry lied.
“Now that you all will be staying here, I think you should know something.” Harry brought tea to the table and sat down. He handed one to Lupin and took a sip of his own. “Someone has been staying here. He is here because he turned to the Order for protection and remembering Dumbledore’s last wish, we agreed to take him in.” Harry was wide-awake and alert and it was not because of the hot tea. Dumbledore’s last wish? They have not taken him in. The Order is not hiding… “I know you have some differences with Draco but…” Harry did not give Lupin a chance to finish. He banged his fist on the table, “Moony, don’t tell me that you took in that murdering traitor. How can you? He is responsible for what happened to… to Dumbledore! You cannot protect him after that. And who are you protecting him from anyway? He is a death eater. He is in no danger from his chum, Voldemort. Only the ministry wants him for the role he played in murdering Dumbledore and that’s only justice.”
“I know how you feel about it Harry. But please hear me out.” Harry continued to stare at Lupin. “It is true that Draco has taken the mark and he was involved in the fateful event last term.” Lupin put up his hand to stop Harry from interrupting again and continued, “However, Draco had failed in his task. Draco had failed to kill Dumbledore and it cost Voldemort his spy at Hogwarts. Now, Voldemort is not the most forgiving person we know. He punished Draco for his failure. Voldemort not only tortured him but also killed his mother right in front of his eyes. When he killed Narcissa, Draco came to the order for help and protection. How Draco managed that is a long story in itself and I will tell you about it some other time. We have kept Draco here since then and he has told us everything we’ve asked him so far.” Lupin stopped and took a sip of his tea. Harry seized this chance, “Why did you tell me that you have to ‘look into it’ when I asked you about Draco at Privet Drive? How do you know that this is not Voldemort’s plan? Maybe since he lost his spy at Hogwarts he decided to plant one within the order? How do you know that this isn’t just another trap?”
“We said that we will have to look into it because we have no idea how Lucius knows that Draco is with us. Harry, Draco is no longer a death eater and I can assure you that. When he first came to us for help, we too thought that he was merely taking advantage of Dumbledore’s offer to get near the order. So we gave him Veritaserum. Under it’s influence, Draco admitted that he was forced to take the mark. With his father locked up at Azkaban, Voldemort had threatened to kill him and his parents unless he carried out Voldemort’s plans. He had no other way than to accept it. His father is too loyal to Voldemort and even though Voldemort killed his wife, Lucius remains loyal to him. After his mother’s death, Draco had no reason left to follow Voldemort’s orders or bear his wrath. So, he escaped and came to the only people who might help him.”
“No longer a death eater, huh? Now, where did I hear that before? Oh yes! That’s what Dumbledore always said about Snape and you all believed. It’s not much of an assurance, is it Moony?”
“I have to admit that we were all wrong about Snape. But Harry, no one can lie under the effects of Veritaserum. Dumbledore believed in giving everyone a second chance and he wanted Draco to have a chance. You should respect that. Besides, if he is here to pass on information about the order, he is going to fail again because he is not a member of the order. He knows nothing about the order’s business.” Harry remained quiet, sipping the last of his tea. “Guess its alright when you put it that way. But this sure doesn’t mean I have to like that git. Right?”
“I sure hope so too,” said a drawling voice from the door. Draco entered the kitchen, “Don’t worry Potter, I don’t like you anymore than you like me.”
“Draco, what are you doing here? You were told not to come out of your room.” Lupin said.
“I am tired of being stuck in the room all the time. I needed to stretch my legs and so I thought that I’d fetch my own breakfast for a change. I wouldn’t have come out of my room if I knew that this house is full of mudbloods and blood-traitors now.” Harry was up in an instant, with his wand drawn, “Mind your language Malfoy. Neither your chums nor your death eater pals are here to save your skin. You’ve come to us for protection and unless you want to get back to the streets where Voldemort can find you, you’ll keep you mouth shut and stay away from us.” Draco did not reply but simply walked out of the kitchen. “Moony, when can we go back to the Burrow? I don’t want to stay here, especially with that coward around.”
“Sorry Harry, you can not go back to the Burrow.”
“Why not? I don’t think that the Weasleys will mind. Or do you think that the death eaters will attack again?”
“Weasleys will be staying here too. Burrow was destroyed yesterday night and with all the things on Arthur’s mind, it will be quite sometime before it is re-built.”
“Burrow was destroyed last night?” Harry slid back down to his chair. “They lost  their home because of me…”
“No Harry, not because of you. Don’t blame yourself for everything that happens around you,” said Ron as he and Hermoine  entered the kitchen. “I think I saw Draco going up the stairs. What is that git doing here?”
“Mind your language Ron. He is here because the order is protecting him. Isn’t that so?” Hermoine answered Ron and directed her question to Lupin. Lupin nodded in response. “And Harry, you are not responsible for everything that happens around you. For once Ron is right. There is a war going on and things like this happen during war. Everybody has to pay a price, whether they are involved in the war or not.”
“Yeah mate.”
“But Voldemort wouldn’t have attacked Burrow if it wasn’t for me.”
“You must be kidding Harry. The way Voldemort is going around killing muggles and half-bloods, we would have been high on his priority list even if we had nothing to do with you. Weasleys have always been known as the ‘blood-traitors’ and my dad’s love for muggles is fairly well known too. The death eaters would have tried to get us out of the way anyway. At least we all managed to get away yesterday. What’s a house? It can be re-built anytime.”
“That’s right. You must remember what he just said and what I told you last time. You can not afford to feel guilty about everything because it hampers your abilities. You have a great responsibility on your shoulders and you must do your best.” The three youngsters looked up at Lupin at his last declaration. Lupin closed the kitchen door and performed the silencing charm. “Yes, I know about the prophecy Harry. But no one else in the order or otherwise knows about it. Am I right to assume that you have told your friends about it?” Harry nodded. “How do you know?”
“Dumbledore had told your parents about it. They were reluctant about going into hiding. Dumbledore had to tell them about the prophecy to convince them that they had to go into hiding, for your sake. James had told Sirius since he was your godfather. I only came to know about it after Sirius’s death.” Harry jerked up his head at the last statement. So, do I have to tell you that you can come to me with any problem? You do know that I’ll be right here for you in case you need me, right?”
“Yes, Moony.”
“Now tell me, what are you planning? Can I help you in anyway?”
“I was thinking about going to Godric’s Hollow. For me, it all began there and it only seems fit that I visit it before doing anything else. Besides, I also wanted to visit ‘their’ graves. Do you know where it is? Will you take me there?” Lupin stared thoughtfully at Harry for sometime before saying, “Your parents were buried in the graveyard near their house. I can take you there if you really want to. When do you want to go? We have to plan it with the order first.”
“No Moony, this is personal. I don’t want a whole bunch of order members to go with me. Just you and me. Please.”
“Hey what about us? Aren’t we going with you?” Hermoine asked.
“No Hermoine, I’d rather do this myself.”
“Okay Harry, I’ll take you. But in that case, it has to be after to get your apparition license, okay?”
“Okay. Then we can go right after my birthday. Mr. Weasley has already arranged it for me to take the test on my birthday.” Lupin got up, reversed the charms, and opened the kitchen door just in time for Mrs. Weasley and Ginny. After a round of ‘good mornings’ exchanged, Lupin said, “Molly, Ginny. I want you to sit down. There is something I have to tell you all.” When they both sat down, “I am afraid; Charlie is missing since last night.”
“What? Why didn’t you tell me before? Alastor said he went with Kingsley… My son…”
“When he did not return, we assumed he went with Kingsley. But Kingsley returned alone. Alastor and some order members went back to the Burrow to check after Kingsley informed us that Charlie had not left with him. Everyone present there last night, are being questioned. Up to now, he was last seen dueling with Bellatrix Lestrange.”
“Oh no… My son…” Mrs. Weasley started to cry. Ron and Ginny both seemed close to tears themselves. Hermoine got up and made some tea for Mrs. Weasley while Lupin tried to console her. “Now Molly, don’t think the worst. We do not know anything for sure. Charlie is a brave boy, he might turn up fine.”
“Moony, how did you know that it was Bellatrix?”
“One of the ministry aurors heard her saying to Charlie that he should not under estimate her like her cousin had.”

The next few days passed by with the order busy in trying to find Charlie. There was still no news about Charlie. The only positive thing that could be said was that his body had not been discovered. So, it was assumed that he was still alive. Mrs. Weasley was constantly on the verge of tears. Draco hardly ventured out of his room. When he did, he stayed away from the trio. Dudleyhad started to come out of his room at meal times and sometimes to sit with Harry and the others. Ron had taught him to play exploding snap. They were often seen playing together. However, Dudleywas yet to speak freely.
One particular morning, Harry, Ron, Hermoine, Ginny and Dudleywere sitting in the drawing room. Ginny was studying. Ron, tired of going through books, was playing a round of exploding snap with Dudley. Hermoine was going through a particularly huge volume of ‘Darkest of the Dark Arts’. Harry’s eyes had started to hurt and so he put down the book he was reading. “I am so tired of reading. Wish we could actually find out something out of these.”
“What do you suggest we do?”
“I dunno. This seems useless. We have hardly made any progress.” Hermoine gave Harry a long hard look and went back to reading her book. Harry got up and walked around the room to stretch his legs, which were beginning to feel numb. He stopped at the tapestry to look at the black spot where Sirius’s name should have been. Harry noticed the name beside Sirius’s spot. Regulus – Regulus Black. “Ron, Hermoine, I think I’ve found something.” Both of them dropped what they were doing and were by Harry’s side in an instant. “Why didn’t I think of it before? Look here.” He pointed at Regulus’s name.
“What?” Ron frowned but Hermoine said, “Oh! Don’t you see it Ron? Regulus Black. He could be R.A.B. Do you know his middle name Harry?”
“No I don’t.”
“I do,” said Ginny from behind them. They turned towards her. “You know? What is it? How do you know?”
“I’ll tell you the name if you tell me what you all are up to.” Ginny had been trying to get them to tell their plans. But they had all agreed to keep her out of it.
“Don’t tell then. I can ask Lupin anytime,” answered Harry.
“Okay fine. Don’t tell me anything. One day you’ll regret it. It’s Arcturus.”
“Harry, its R.A.B. But how do we know that he is the one we are looking for?”
“When Sirius showed me this tapestry, he told me that his brother was death eater. He said that Regulus got in too far then and chickened out. Sirius said that you just do not hand in your resignation to Voldemort. Its either lifetime service or death. The death eaters killed Regulus. He reckoned that Regulus couldn’t have been important enough to be killed by Voldemort himself.”
“But if Regulus is R.A.B, then he not only found out about the Horcruxes but also removed one. So, Voldemort may have killed him himself. But now the thing is did he manage to destroy the Horcrux? If not then where is it?” asked Hermoine.
“What’s a Horcrux?” They all were so excited about finding the identity of R.A.B that they had completely forgotten that Ginny and Dudleywere in the same room. Dudley was still sitting in his chair at the opposite end of the room. He could not have heard a thing. But Ginny was still standing at Ron’s heels. “Ginny, I remember telling not to try and listen into our conversations,” Ron rounded up at his sister.
“I did not have to try. You simply forgot to tell me to get going and to talk in your usual hushed up tone.”
“Ginny, we are not telling you anything. You are too young for all these. Your life could be in danger for knowing this.”
“If you had taken a look at the family clock at Burrow anytime since Voldemort’s return, you’d know that my hand has been at ‘Mortal Peril’ since then. Now if you don’t tell me everything, I can simply go and ask any of the order members what a ‘horcrux’ is. I am sure they all know.” The trio simply stood there exchanging looks between them. Finally, Harry said, “Turning my move on me, huh? But Ginny, trust us, you are better off without knowing anything. We just want to keep you safe.”
“Don’t you dare give me that ‘keeping me safe’ stuff again, Potter. I have accepted it once and I am not going to take it again.” Turning to face Ron, she continued, “Charlie did not go looking for trouble, Ron. But it found him. So, not knowing anything won’t help me in anyway. At least I will know what to expect when it finds me. And, if you tell me, I can help you in going through those dull books.” Ginny stood with her hands on her hips making Harry wonder how similar she was to Mrs. Weasley. “Give it up you three. You should know when you have lost the case. Still, if you don’t tell me, I’ll make sure that the order knows everything that you people said now in this room.”
“You wouldn’t do that.”
“Try me Ronald.”
“Guys, I think we should tell her everything. She is right, she can help us research. If Hogwarts reopens, she’ll have the access to the Hogwarts library.”
“Hermoine, she is too young.”
“I know you want to protect your sister Ron, but she can look after herself as well as any of us. Besides, if she knows everything, she can stay more alert. And honestly, do you want the order to know?” Finally, Harry and Ron gave up. They went up to Ron’s room and closed the door. Hermoine cast the ‘muffliato’ spell and began to tell Ginny everything. When she finished telling about the prophecy, Ginny did not react. She simply said, “Oh tell me something I don’t know.”
“What? You knew?” exclaimed Hermoine.
“I am not a complete fool. You’re not the only one around who can work things out Hermoine. I can too, you know. After that night at the ministry, I guessed it had to be something like this. Then last term when Harry broke up with me, I was sure. Besides, a prophecy involving Harry and Voldemort couldn’t possibly say that they’ll be best of pals or that Voldemort will invite Harry to his birthday party.” Ron and Hermoine seemed taken aback but Harry felt nothing but proud of Ginny’s intelligence and of how well she had taken it. Hermoine recovered from her surprise and started to tell Ginny about the things that they had found out since the ministry fiasco. “So, the diary and the ring are already gone. You have to find four more before Harry goes for the seventh part that’s still within Voldemort.”
“Yeah, that’s about it.”
“And you’ll be leaving after Harry’s birthday to search for the remaining Horcruxes!”
“Yes.”
“Well, I’ll go with you.”
“There’s no way you are coming with us Ginny. This is why we didn’t want to tell you,” said Ron.
“So you people get to flunk school and go on an adventure and expect me to just stay back and miss all of it?” Before Ron could launch into his big brother role, Hermoine took things into her hands, “Ginny, we three have to look around a bit. God knows where the remaining Horcruxes are and we cannot do that if we go back to Hogwarts. But at the same time, we also need someone at Hogwarts. Mrs. Weasley cannot stop us from going since we are of age. But she will not allow you to come with us. So you have to go back. You can not only keep on researching at the Hogwarts library, but also start up the DA again. Also, you can keep us informed if anything unusual happens at Hogwarts…” Hermoine continued for almost half an hour before Ginny gave in and agreed to go back to school. They spent rest of the days trying to work out where the remaining Horcruxes may be.

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