The dining room of the Grimmauld place was full of melancholic faces. Dumbledore’s absence in the Order’s affairs was clearly manifested in their attitude. Moody, Arthur, Molly, Lupin, professor McGonagall, Harry, Ron, Hermione and Ginny were present. Tonks was still in St.Mungos. The others were out on business.
“So Filius,” Moody asked professor Flitwick, who was sitting on three books to get his shoulder above the table, “what are we to do on the Fidelius charm? Dumbledore is dead but I understand the spell holds even after the secret keeper’s death.”
“Well, I’ve never actually fully faced the situation,” said professor Flitwick in his squeaky voice, “but I remember reading long ago under Dumbledore’s instructions, when I put the charm on Godric’s Hollow, that there is a way to reverse the spell. I do not remember the procedure, but I think it requires the use of the secret keeper’s wand.”
“We never found out what happened to his wand,” said professor McGonagall sadly. “We did not find it on the Astronomy Tower.”
“It fell down from the tower professor,” said Harry, “I saw it fly over the ramparts when Malfoy’s spell hit him.”
“Are you sure, Potter? That’s great news. He was the greatest wizard any of us ever saw. His wand was to be buried with him. We never found it.”
“Ya I’m sure. I cannot forget any instant from that night,” Harry replied.
“I’ll get Hagrid to search for it,” McGonagall assured them.
“Well, so now, if we find the wand we need a new secret keeper,” said Moody. “Who shall it be?”
“So that decides it. Lupin shall be the new secret keeper,” announced Alastor Moody. After an hour’s discussion it had been decided. Moody was old and not so agile anymore, McGonagall and the other Hogwarts’ staff had to contend with problems about the school, the aurors and Arthur Weasley were right under the Ministry’s nose and the others refused it as they were not adept enough to improve on the charm.
“Well, I might as well do it,” said Lupin. “Greyback’s seen me fight on this side. So I can’t go back among the werewolfs. I’ve got nothing else to do yet.”
“That will soon be sorted out,” said Arthur. “We’ve enough work to do to keep us occupied for the rest of our lives, even in the unlikely case that they are long ones.”
“Arthur, don’t say such things in front of the kids,” Molly admonished him, for which the only reply she got was a shrug of his shoulders. Everyone in the room knew Harry and the others had gone through as much as any other in the room.
“Er…, professor Moody,” called Harry, never having really gotten over the fact that he had not taught them.
“Ah yes, Harry,” said Moody, turning his real eye towards him. His magic eye was roaming all round the room. “Lupin told me you kids wanted to join the Order. We, and by we I mean Lupin, me and the Weasleys, had a talk over this and we still feel it you are too young to be inducted into the Order. But you three are of age now or will be very soon. And we know you three are quite capable of handling danger. So we decided to let you decide, although we know what the answer will be. Ginny is still a under aged and hence, by her parents’ decision will not be a part of the Order.”
“But that’s not fair. I’m as good as Ron anytime,” protested Ginny. “If they join, I’m going to whether you like it or not. You’re going to have to tie me to my bed if you want to keep me out.”
“You are too young Ginny. And mind how you talk before those much older that you. This is our decision and you are going to follow it,” bellowed Molly.
“Molly,” said Lupin in a very low voice. It was as though he himself couldn’t believe what he was going to say. “Let her be. I have a feeling that before this thing is over, one way or another, it will have been better to trust to friendship than to our supposed great wisdom.”
“But,” Molly started to protest but was cut off by Arthur. “I think Lupin’s right Molly,” he said slowly. “Let her be. She has been through much more than either of us. Coming of age doesn’t matter now that school reopening itself is doubtful.”
Molly sat down beaten. Harry could tell she did not approve but she did not argue with the others. “Fine, just be careful Ginny. You are still underage and are not allowed to use magic outside of school. Remember that. The last thing we want is trouble with the Ministry.”
“What about Hogwarts professor,” asked Harry of McGonagall.
“We are not yet sure Harry. The Board wants to shut it down. The school faculty however, are against it. They want Hogwarts reopened. I know Dumbledore would have wanted it. But the faculty doesn’t have a say. It’s up to the Board, the Ministry and me. I’m afraid I am out numbered.”
“But it has to reopen,” cried Ron. “If that’s what Dumbledore wanted, that’s what we must do. I never thought I’d say this, but that school has been everything to everyone of us here.”
“We are trying our best, Mr.Weasley. But you have to understand, parents no longer think Hogwarts safe enough to send their children. Dumbledore’s protections failed to keep them out of Hogwarts. Nothing we do can make the place any safer.”
“Well, even if the Ministry does agree to reopening it, it’s going to appoint it’s own Head, like it did with Umbridge,” said Arthur. “They’ve always wanted control over Hogwarts, something which Dumbledore had denied them till now.”
“Still, Hogwarts is far safer than any other place,” said Lupin voicing his opinion. “Dumbledore would have put lasting protections around the place. I don’t think the protections will be dispelled after his death. Dumbledore was not so shortsighted and I do not think he did not see his death someday in this battle. It’s unfortunate that it has come so early.”
“We’ll see what is to happen,” said McGonagall ending the discussion.
“Now, coming back,” said Moody, “Harry, are you in?”
Harry paused for a while. After a few seconds, “Yes,” he said. “Now that Dumbledore’s dead, I am the one who knows most about Voldemort. Dumbledore told me a few things about his past. He left me a task that is mine to complete. Professor McGonagall would have told you all that I was out with Dumbledore the night that happened. I am sorry I cannot reveal anything more. It is for me alone. I will have to leave soon and may not return even if the school does reopen. I hope it does.”
No one spoke. All eyes were on Harry, some in wonder, Ron’s, Hermione’s and Ginny’s in knowing sadness They knew what he was about to say. He continued. “I know many of you will try to dissuade me but we’ll talk later. As for Hogwarts, our camaraderie is the best defence we’ve got against Voldemort. No spell can protect Hogwarts if people desert it. Dumbledore told me Voldemort has eyed Hogwarts since the beginning. We know it holds many secrets, some that not even Dumbledore knew about. That is why we must protect it at all cost. Dumbledore died saving it and I do not want to see it fall into the Voldemorts hands.”
“Neither do any of us, Potter. I promise you I’ll do my best to see it reopen,” assured McGonagall.
Harry nodded assent. He sat quiet knowing he will have to face a barrage from Lupin ,the Weasleys and maybe even professor McGonagall later.
“So that settles a few things. We will meet again tonight when all of us are here and decide what to do,” said Alastor finally.
They walked out into the living room. Harry, Ron, Hermione and Ginny quietly walked up to Harry’s bedroom, making sure not to make a noise in front of Mrs.Black’s portrait.
“I can’t believe he’s really gone,” said Ginny.
“Well, he is,” replied Harry tersely. “I even saw his portrait in the office. It is for us to continue his work.”
“I never wondered before,” said Ron, “but these portraits, are they alive or what? I mean, we’ve seen Dumbledore talking to the ones in his office and Mrs.Black’s portrait seems to recognise us by face. So what’s the deal with them?”
“I dunno Ron,” Harry replied. “You know anything Hermione?”
Her stammering was sufficient to tell that she didn’t. She was really feeling embarrassed for not having thought about it before.
“Have you filled up Ginny with all that we know as yet?” asked Harry of Ron and Hermione.
“A little,” Hermione replied while putting a sound-proofing charm over the room. “There wasn’t much time that day and we couldn’t talk in front of Neville and Luna.”
“And mom has been keeping us busy since the last two days with the wedding arrangements.”
So Harry once again told Ginny all that they had learnt last year, all that Dumbledore had told him about Voldemort’s past. He saw the expression on Ginny’s face change from interest to wonder to terror when he finally told her about the horcruxes. He then told her about his trip with Dumbledore and all that had happened on the Astronomy Tower. He told her how he realised Snape was the one who told Voldemort about the prophecy and finally he told her about the prophecy itself, in full, which he had not told even to Ron and Hermione, about who made it. He had promised Dumbledore he woudn’t tell anyone all this but he had to tell Ginny. His conscience would not have been satisfied without telling Ginny why he had to let her go,why he had to leave alone.
“And you think we are going to let you go alone to do whatever stupid things you want to do?” asked Ginny echoing Harry’s thoughts. “Face it Harry. We are going with you. You wouldn’t last a chance without us to help. I tell you what I said downstairs. You will need to tie me in a sac to keep me from following.”
“No, Ginny, it’s too dangerous,” replied Harry. “I was thinking of leaving very soon, but I need time to think things through. A few more days. I’ve got to learn to hone my skills.” Blocked again and again and again till you learn to keep your mouth shut and your mind closed, Potter. Snape’s words rang in Harry’s ears.
“Well, you’re not leaving tomorrow. We’ll decide what to do later,” said Ron. “Where do you plan to train. Here?”
“Not here. I was thinking of some place better. One place where Voldemort won’t think I’ll be. Hogwarts.”
“Great idea Harry,” said an overjoyed Hermione. Harry could tell having access to Hogwarts’ library elated her. And telling the truth, he could use their help. “We can ask Professor McGonagall for access to the restricted section,” she said. Harry nodded.
There was a knock on the door and Lupin entered. “Harry, can I talk to you in private? Ron and Ginny, your mother wants your downstairs to help in the kitchen. You too Hermione.”
They left Harry alone with Lupin in the room.
“So, Harry? Want to tell me what all this is about?” asked Lupin eyebrows raised. “I detect a sound-proofing charm on the room. A good one too.”
“Hermione did it. I’m sorry porfessor Lupin, but….”
“Call me Remus, Harry. I’m no longer your professor. Just your friend.”
“I’m sorry I can’t tell you more Remus. I promised Dumbledore I wouldn’t tell anyone. Apart from Ron and Hermione that is.”
“And Ginny?” Lupin asked with a grin.
“She’s…….she’s different. Anyway, I wan’t your help Remus. I know you are going to tell me that I’m being foolish, that I’m not good enough to face Voldemort yet……”
“It’s ok Harry. You can go,” said Lupin which surprised Harry very much. He had been expecting to be lectured. “I can’t stop you anymore. I can only advise you. I know you are good but you still are not the best. You are not Dumbledore Harry. Remember that.”
“I know and I will. Lupin I need your help in the next one month before my birthday. I would have left tomorrow but I know now that I need to train and develop my skills more. Not to face Voldemort. No amount of training would prepare me for that. But Snape. I want to be ready when I face him. I have to search out two people now. He betrayed my parents and Dumbledore. Now this fight’s personal. More than it ever was.”
“You have certainly grown Harry,” said Lupin with admiration in his eyes. “You’ll get all the help you need from me and the Order. You just have to ask. So when shall we start? I want to do it personally. I think few other staff members might also be interested.”
“I was thinking tomorrow. I don’t have much time now. I need to do it quickly. Bafore he finds out. I was thinking we’ll go to Hogwarts. Safest place I can think of.”
“Good idea Harry. I’ll tell the others tonight. Come on down. Professor McGonagall wants to talk to you.”
Professor McGonagall was waiting for him in the living room. Lupin left them alone and went into the kitchen.
“Potter, sit down. There is something I want to talk to you about,” she said pointing to a seat beside her. “I talked with Lupin, Potter and he has convinced me to leave you to do what you want. Though I advise you to tread the matter carefully.”
“Thank you professor,” Harry replied. “I wanted to ask you one more favour. Can we use Hogwarts grounds to train. Lupin said he would help me and I need it. We need a safe place and also books from the library. We need access to the restricted section.”
“That can be arranged Potter. But coming back, is there any chance you’ve changed your mind Harry, about the business with Dumbledore?”
“Sorry professor. I gave professor Dumbledore my word.”
“Then maybe he has made the right choice. One other thing Potter. Dumbledore has left a will. In that, he has asked for his pensieve to be given to you, in case something happened to him.Take good care of it. It is the last of his memories. I take it you would like me to leave it at Hogwarts?”
“Yes professor,” Harry replied astonished.
“Then we shall leave it at that. The meeting starts at 9:00 tonight. After dinner. Don’t be late.”
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