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A Time to Live by ladymblack
Chapter 9 : Chapter 9: Prospects
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 14


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Chapter 9: Prospects

 

Meanwhile, Harry and Ron apparated directly into Draco’s bedroom at Malfoy Manor.  Draco was pacing back and forth in front of the fireplace.  He looked up when they appeared and a look of relief broke across his face.

 

“What the hell is going on, Malfoy?” Ron demanded.

 

Draco recoiled slightly, but said in a distinct voice, “We have a problem.”

 

“We gathered that,” Harry said, impatiently.

 

Draco winced and said, “I can’t keep them under control.  They’re already starting to talk about a spot of muggle torture.  They have my mother in there and every now and then I can hear her scream.  I think my uncle is going to torture her or, well you know….”

 

Ron and Harry looked at each other, both blanching.

 

“Okay, let’s get this under control, Draco.  Kingsley should be here shortly with a few Aurors.  We’ll take care of them,” Harry said, reassuringly.

 

“I did like you said and suggested that we try to rerecruit Greyback, maybe offering him full Death Eater status.  But, unfortunately, no one’s seen him since the battle.  There have been rumors that he’s attacking people, but we couldn’t track him down.  So he’s not here,” Draco said, apologetically.  Ron and Harry shared a look, indicating their disappointment.

 

They all stood there for a few minutes, waiting for Kingsley to respond to the Patronus that Harry had sent.  Then they could hear some noise from the parlor below.

 

“I know how much Lucius enjoyed you, Cissy,” the taunting voice of Rodolphus said, ringing throughout the house.  “I’m only asking you to show me the same kind of respect.  If I’m to be the new Dark Lord, I should think that you would wish to take Bella’s place.”

 

The three men visibly flinched.  Draco began to tremble.  Harry couldn’t help but notice that there was not even a hint of remorse or mourning in Rodolphus’ voice when he mentioned his dead wife.

 

The voice of Narcissa then came to them, “Rodolphus, you are practically talking about incest, not to mention adultery.  I love my husband.  He will be returned to me soon.”

 

“Silly girl, the Ministry will never let him go, at least not until we regain control, which may take awhile.  I guess I’ll have to persuade you,” Rodolphus said, with a sneer in his voice. 

 

There were a few moments of silence before the shout of “CRUCIO!” rent the air along with Narcissa’s screams.  Harry knew that they couldn’t wait any longer.  Hopefully Kingsley would appear with the Aurors before he and Ron were completely outnumbered.  He looked briefly at the other two before racing out of the room, Ron and Draco close behind him.  Reaching the drawing room door, he threw the Invisibility Cloak over the three of them and they slipped into the room quietly.  They found Rodolphus alone standing over the long table that had been there during Voldemort’s reign of terror.  Narcissa lay there stripped down, passed out.

 

Harry silently stupefied Rodolphus, who fell loudly to the ground.  Harry pulled the Invisibility cloak back off of them, tucking it into a pocket of his robes.  Draco ran to one of the sofas and grabbed a blanket, throwing it over his mother’s inert form.  The noise roused the other members of the household who came running.  Six men came running into the room, most of whom Harry recognized either from the graveyard or from Slytherin House.  They were Crabbe, Goyle elder and younger, Rookwood, Macnair and Nott.  He, Ron and Draco began throwing spells at them the moment they appeared.  Harry and Ron were trying to use the non-verbal spells they’d been practicing.  Ron felt as though they weren’t doing much damage, so he began using his voice once again.  Finally, Harry had used Sectumsempra on Macnair to the point that he was prone on the floor.  Ron was dueling Rookwood and Nott.  He was barely keeping them off, jumping and throwing himself to the ground, rolling, occasionally to avoid some rather nasty curses.  Nott started to say, “Avada…” before Harry hit him with a stunning spell that knocked him forward before he could complete the killing curse.  Ron took the extra second to petrify Rookwood. 

 

Harry turned to watch Draco try to take on Crabbe and the two Goyles.  Draco was on the floor while they were still throwing spells at him, laughing. 

 

“You fool, Draco!” Gregory Goyle was shouting.

 

Draco hit his former friend with a neatly placed jelly-legs jinx, throwing Gregory to the ground beside him.  Before the older men could exact revenge, Harry threw up a shield between them and Draco, just as Kingsley showed up in the doorway.

 

Kingsley had brought Aurors Robards and Dawlish with him.  They both shouted “Incarcerous” at the Goyles, Crabbe and Draco, binding them tightly.

 

“Harry, you were supposed to wait for us,” Kingsley said, as he looked at the devastation in front of him.  He and the Aurors lazily tied up the remaining bodies around them.

 

“Sorry, Kingsley, but Rodolphus started attacking Mrs. Malfoy.  We couldn’t just let that continue,” Ron supplied, having gained his feet.

 

Kingsley shook his head, as though to clear it, before saying, “What happened to this guy?”

 

“Sorry, Kingsley, I couldn’t overpower him, so I used Sectumsempra to subdue him,” Harry admitted.  He wondered if he’d be in trouble for this.

 

“Good heavens, Minister,” Auror Robards commented.  “Do you realize that these boys actually managed to overcome eight death eaters by themselves?”

 

“Actually, it’s seven, sir.  Draco is on our side and arranged this little party for us,” Harry said, looking over at Draco on the carpet.  “Please untie him.”

 

Kingsley removed the bonds holding Draco, before looking at Harry with a stern look familiar of an exasperated parent.

 

“That’s not exactly a surprise, Robards,” Kingsley said to his companion.  “These men have been fighting Death Eaters and Voldemort for years.  They’ve probably fought in more combat situations than we have.”

 

Robards nodded, seeming to just realize who it was that stood before him.  “Of course, their adventures are legendary.  Are you sure that we need to test them before accepting them into the department?”

 

“Yes, we’re sure that you do.  We aren’t bad when it comes to dueling, but I’m pretty sure that’s not all the Auror Department is about, is it?” Harry asked, answering for Kingsley.

 

“No, that’s not all we do, obviously.  Are you sure you want to go back to school?  We could easily give you the tests and get you started right away.  We could certainly use your kind of skill.  That goes for both of you,” Robards replied.

 

Harry and Ron both shook their heads at this.  Ron supplied the answer, “No, sir, we would like to earn our positions as anyone else would.  To be honest, we could use just a few months at school without the pressure of Voldemort hanging over us.”

 

Robards looked sympathetic and said, “I understand.  Your last few years at school weren’t exactly normal were they?  Well, we will look forward to your return once the semester is over.”

 

Robards and Kingsley smiled at them, although Harry was quite sure that Dawlish looked at them with contempt.

 


“Go home to your ladies, Harry, Ron,” Kingsley said.  “I’m sure they’ll want to clean you up.  We’ll take care of the Malfoys.”

At Harry’s look of worry, Kingsley assured him that they would make sure that Draco and Narcissa would be protected from further harm.  Harry and Ron shook hands with Draco and nodded to Narcissa, who had regained consciousness during the battle in her drawing room.  They turned on the spot to apparate back to the Burrow.


Harry and Ron had their arms around each other and were laughing by the time they got through the front door.  They were attacked by Ginny, Hermione and Molly.
“You two!” Molly shouted, shoving Ginny and Hermione out of the room and pushing Harry and Ron into chairs at the table.  Harry and Ron looked at each other with wary looks, knowing that they were now in trouble.

“I can’t believe that you have decided to become Aurors!  Either of you!  Haven’t you seen enough destruction in your short lives?” she roared.

“Mum,” Harry said, noticing her face soften slightly at his address of her.  “Although there’s a part of me that would like nothing better than to forget about fighting the Dark Arts for the rest of my life, there’s another part of me that knows I can’t stop fighting.  Just because Voldemort’s dead, doesn’t mean that evil isn’t still lurking out there.  It will always be out there.  Someone needs to keep it from taking over our world.”

“I realize that, Harry, but that doesn’t mean that you and Ron have to be the ones to take on that responsibility,” Molly admonished, now sitting down.  Arthur came into the room and also took a seat at the table.

“Mum.  Dad.  We’ve wanted to Aurors for a long time now.  We’ve also gotten a lot of experience in the past few years.  It’s the only career either of us has ever really considered honestly.  We did well tonight.  We had seven Death Eaters under control before Kingsley even got there with the Aurors,” Ron told them.

Arthur’s eyes widened in shock at Ron’s last statement, before an owl fluttered in.  He read the letter from Kingsley extolling Harry and Ron’s actions that evening.

“Kingsley thinks that they’ll be a huge asset to the Department, Molly,” Arthur told her carefully, looking at her warily.

“Well, of course they would be.  That doesn’t mean they have to take that path!” she cried.

“Mum,” Harry said, “We really do know what we’re doing.  We’ve been working this situation out for weeks.  It may not have gone completely to plan, but we used our advantages.  This is the best job for us."

Molly looked at both of them closely before saying, “Well, I can’t say it’s not a prestigious position.  They’re the elite at the Ministry.  But I want you to honestly tell me, Harry, that you are not taking this job solely because you feel you owe it to the world for whatever imagined mistakes you’ve made or for revenge.”

Harry squirmed slightly in his seat.  Granted his idea of revenge was solely to see these perpetrators of evil behind bars, rather than kill or torture them, but he also felt a draw to keeping everyone safe.  He couldn’t see any better way to do this, other than to join the Aurors.  Finally he said, “Mum, I can’t deny that I’d like a measure of revenge.  But in all honesty, none of us is safe until some of these wizards are in prison.  I also have a wish to protect everyone I love from the evil out there.  As Severus Snape said once, ‘The Dark Arts are many, varied, ever-changing, and eternal.  Fighting them is like fighting a many-headed monster, which, each time a neck is severed, sprouts a head even fiercer and cleverer than before.  You are fighting that which is unfixed, mutating, indestructible.’  I’m not sure if I remember his exact words, but I think I remember them because they angered me at the time.  He’s right, though, there will always be people out there doing evil things and perhaps even trying to become immortal.  I know a lot about these things and would like to fight against it.”

She looked at Arthur, who looked at Ron and Harry in turn.  “This is your career choice.  We certainly can’t tell you not to go down the path that you think is right for you.  From what Ginny and Hermione told us earlier, they have already given their approval and consent.  If they agree with it, we too will support you,” Arthur informed them.

“Well, as they’re probably ready to kill us keeping them in suspense, perhaps we should join them in the sitting room?” Ron suggested.  This seemed to herald the end of the discussion.  Ron and Harry walked away from the kitchen table.

Harry rushed over to Ginny, who was sitting on the couch playing with Teddy.  She let him take the baby from her so that he could hold him.

“God, Harry, you’re a mess,” she commented.  The blood from the Sectumsempra had splattered.  It clung to his skin and his robes, so she started to siphon it off of him while he was talking to Teddy.

“Ginny!” Molly admonished.  “You know you’re not supposed to use magic yet.”

Ginny scowled and stopped.  Hermione was still cleaning up Ron, but nodded to Ginny that she would get to Harry soon.  He didn’t seem to care while he played with the baby and grabbed a bottle to feed him.  Harry and Ron then explained to the rest of the family what had happened at Malfoy Manor.

“We only got some small fish, though,” Ron said with a grimace.  “Harry, we’re going to have to start hunting Greyback, Dolohov and the Carrows.  Any ideas?”

“Not really,” Harry said, untruthfully.  He had a sneaking suspicion that the Carrows might be in Albania, where Voldemort had gone the last time he had disappeared.  Harry could easily see them trying to find him in that country, hoping to return him to power.  He didn’t think it wise to discuss open cases with the entire family, however.  It was one thing to discuss things with Ginny and Hermione, he thought.  It wouldn’t do to worry the entire family about something that they couldn’t control anyhow.

“Wait!  I thought Greyback was supposed to be one of them?” Hermione asked, with a worried expression on her face.

“They couldn’t find him, and Draco was quickly losing control of the people he’d recruited.  I don’t think they ever fully trusted him,” Harry told her.

Harry fell quiet as he realized that he’d almost killed someone and it bothered him.  Only the family knew that he hadn’t actually killed Voldemort.  He looked troubled and was unable to speak.  Harry just determinedly looked down at the baby in his arms.  Ron came to his rescue, “Well, Harry, I know the Sectumsempra is a horrible spell, but if you hadn’t managed to subdue Macnair you wouldn’t have gotten over to my duel in time.  It was the only thing to do.”

“That’s the thing that Snape used against me!” George exclaimed, looking shocked.

“It’s Professor Snape,” Harry began, causing everyone to laugh.  He joined in as he realized that everyone was always telling him to give Snape proper respect and now here he was telling someone else that.  Regaining his composure he continued, “Yes he did.  He wasn’t aiming for you though; he was aiming for the Death Eater’s arm to try to save you.  He felt horrible about it, George,”

They all looked at him curiously.  They knew that he’d seen many of Snape’s memories in the Pensieve before entering the forest.  There was no comment to Harry’s statement, so everyone finally began other conversations.

Harry, reluctant to release Teddy, handed the baby to Andromeda before he, Ginny, Ron and Hermione all flooed back to Grimmauld Place.


 

“Master Harry, you is all dirty.  Bad boy, Kreacher will have to clean all of these robes, oh dear, and they does smell rather nasty too,” Kreacher said, greeting them with his nose crinkled.  He pushed Harry and Ginny into their room, snatching up the garments to be washed.

 

“Did you win?” Kreacher asked, before leaving.  Harry nodded.  “Good.  Kreacher knew his Master would prevail.”

 

Harry just shook his head and climbed into his bed.  He felt exhausted.  Ginny joined him a few moments later.

 


“Is there anything you’re not telling me?” she asked.  He knew she was referring to his response to Ron’s question earlier and told her of his suspicions regarding the Carrows.  She agreed that it might be a likely place to start and told him to push it from his mind.  She kissed him when it seemed that he wasn’t going to be able to comply with her order.

 

 

A few days later, Kingsley let Harry know that he had moved the Malfoy trials up in the schedule to happen the next day.  It was important in order to keep Narcissa and Draco protected.  Harry agreed readily.

 

After having witnessed as many trials as he had, Harry had a feeling that Lucius would be sentenced for life and he wasn’t sure of how much influence he would have over what would happen to Narcissa and Draco.  Perhaps he should warn them.  He grabbed a piece of parchment, a quill and some ink.

 

Draco,

 

I thought it wise to caution you about what to expect at the trials tomorrow.  I highly doubt that your father can expect anything less than a life sentence in Azkaban.  So far that’s been the standard for every Death Eater and I can’t lie and say that he wasn’t a willing participant until recently.  Perhaps in time, the sentence can be reduced.  I will do my best for you and your mother.  When questioned just stick to the facts.  I will intervene when or if it becomes necessary.

 

Good luck,

Harry

 

Courtroom Ten was already packed with witches and wizards talking loudly when Harry entered the next day.  There was a tension in the air as Kingsley called everyone to order.  Narcissa and Draco were sitting in the same seats that he himself had sat with Ron, Hermione and Ginny.  Draco was holding her hand and gently patting it with his other.  It was obvious that she’d been crying most of the night since her eyes were all puffy and red.  Harry felt a pang of sympathy for her but he knew that in the end he had to do what was right.

 

Lucius was brought into the room.  His eyes were sunken, his usually shiny hair was dirty and matted and his robes were torn.  One would never have guessed, from the look of him, that the dementors no longer guarded the prison.

 

“You are accused of having joined the Death Eaters in both the first and second wars.  You were a very willing participant in many examples of muggle torture and led the Death Eaters in killing sprees,” Kingsley told him, the contempt in his voice apparent.  “What do have to say for yourself?”

 

Lucius looked up briefly, catching Harry’s eye.  He said softly, “For the past two years the Dark Lord kept us under constant threat.  My wife and I were forced to comply with anything he said so that he wouldn’t kill our son.  I’ve also been devoid of a wand for almost a year…and”

 

Mme. Hopkirk interrupted, “And how did you lose your wand?”

 

“The Dark Lord…borrowed it from me.  But Potter managed to destroy it during battle in the sky last year,” he replied.

 

Faces bearing looks of awe turned to Harry for confirmation.  He nodded curtly, having remembered the subsequent fury Voldemort had unleashed on Ollivander afterwards.

 

“Is there anything else, Mr. Malfoy?” Kingsley asked.

 

Lucius looked over to his wife to see her shake her head slightly.  He closed his eyes briefly and seemed to consider his words carefully before saying, “I have no other defense for myself.  However, I want it to be known that Narcissa and Draco are innocent of all of this.  They really were forced to act.”

 

Harry thought this was surprisingly noble, particularly as it was Lucius Malfoy.  But he also knew that the man truly did love his family, regardless of the foul and evil things he’d done over the years.  When the vote came, Harry chose to abstain.  He agreed that Lucius deserved time in Azkaban, but he almost felt as though a part of Lucius’ debt had been paid in the last two years.  Narcissa was sobbing uncontrollably onto Draco’s shoulder.

 

As Lucius was removed from the room, Draco was called forward.  He carefully extracted himself from his mother’s grasp.

 

“You are accused of becoming a Death Eater two years ago and having continued in that capacity until the fall of Voldemort.  How do you plead?” Kingsley asked.

 

“Not guilty, sir,” Draco replied.

 

“Yet you have the dark mark?” Mme. Hopkirk asked.

 

Draco pulled his sleeve back to reveal the skull and snake there saying, “After my father was imprisoned the last time, the Dark…Voldemort forced me to join him by threatening to kill my mother.  He then gave me the task of…the task of…killing…Professor Dumbledore.  He moved into my family’s house to ensure my compliance while I was in school.”

 

“And how did you intend to succeed with your task?” Kingsley asked.

 

“Well, I didn’t really know what I was doing.  I tried to send him a cursed necklace and some poisoned mead.  Luckily neither attempt worked and no one was seriously injured,” Draco said, addressing the floor.  He took a deep breath and looked back up before continuing, “I was kind of just hoping he would die of natural causes so that I wouldn’t have to do it.”

He paused again, but it was obvious to all that he would continue so the room remained silent.  Harry took that moment to look around him.  The looks on most faces didn’t hold the revulsion he would have expected.  They looked at the young man in front of them almost with sympathy as he tried to gather his courage and his words.

 

Draco finally said, “When I was finally face to face with him, he was unarmed and helpless.  But, in the end, I couldn’t kill him.  I couldn’t do it.  He offered me a way out, but in my bumbling I’d let Death Eaters into the school.”

 

His face contorted briefly before he was able to continue, “In all honesty, if I’d have accepted his offer for immunity without any indecision I might have saved my mother and I, and perhaps even my father, from the life we were forced to live for the past year.  Unfortunately it was too late by the time I’d made my decision and the rest of the Death Eaters had joined us.  I know now that Dumbledore had already planned everything out between him and Snape, but I definitely didn’t know that at the time.”

 

He returned his eyes to the floor as Kingsley nodded and asked, “You went into the school during the Battle of Hogwarts.  What was your reasoning?”

 

“I was trying to find Potter.  I thought I should warn him that V-voldemort intended to kill him if he heeded the warning that was sent out,” Draco explained weakly.

 

“Very well,” Kingsley said before turning to Harry.  “Is there anything you wish to add?”

 

“Thank you, Minister.  There are two things.  When we were kidnapped back at Easter-time Draco tried very hard not to identify us.  He was trying to keep us from being tortured and killed.  Also, after Voldemort was defeated he put himself at great risk to try to bring down escaped Death Eaters.  Thanks to his cooperation we were able to find seven of them that had managed to elude the Aurors during the subsequent search after the battle.  Minister, may I make a recommendation as to sentencing?”

 

Kingsley nodded.  Draco looked terrified, as though he believed himself to be betrayed.

 

“I think that Draco should be forced to finish school this summer at Hogwarts.  Afterwards, if he can get at least and ‘E’ in his Muggle Studies N.E.W.T perhaps there will be a probationary period for him.  Once he can prove that he has been fully rehabilitated he will be completely free.”

 

Kingsley asked for a vote giving Draco a lifetime sentence.  Very few hands were raised.  When Kingsley suggested Harry’s alternative the majority approved it and there weren’t enough people left to warrant a vote to let him go completely free.  Dismissed, Draco walked over to his mother, who was trying to control herself.  He took her hand and pulled her to her feet.  Placing his arm around her shoulders he steered her towards the chair in the center of the room, pushing her gently into it.  He tried to turn to leave, but she wouldn’t let go of him.

 

“It’s going to be okay, Mum,” he whispered.  She whimpered piteously but released him.

 

“Mrs. Malfoy, you have been accused of complicity with Lord Voldemort and harboring him in your home.”  Kingsley spoke in his usual calming voice, more gently than when he’d been addressing Lucius and Draco.  “Would you like to say anything in your defense?”

 

“Yes, I…didn’t…have a choice.  I…couldn’t get rid of him…and then…he brought my sister.  We were…forced to watch…her torture…” but the rest was virtually incoherent as she began sobbing copiously again.  Kingsley looked over, somewhat pleadingly, at Draco, who began to stand up.

 

“Actually, Minister, I don’t think we really need to torture her like this.  Why don’t I explain what I know of Mrs. Malfoy and if everyone isn’t fully satisfied then we can try to get her to talk again,” Harry suggested.  There was a consensus of approval throughout the Wizengamot as it seemed obvious that she wouldn’t be capable of much more at that time.  So Harry continued, “I believe that she would have had no say in whether or not Voldemort used her house as his headquarters.  She was not a Death Eater and had no reason to comply except that this was Voldemort’s wish.  As we are all well aware, standing in front of him and telling him something he didn’t want to hear generally resulted in death, for the messenger and often anyone else in the vicinity.  I can certainly attest to that.”  Harry shuddered, remembering the incomprehensible rage and watching as so many were slaughtered when Voldemort was thwarted.  He shook his head a bit to dislodge the images before saying, “But there is something that this woman did that we should all be rather grateful for.  When Voldemort used the Avada Kedavra to try to kill me in the Forbidden Forest it was essential that he believe himself to be successful.  Mrs. Malfoy was sent to check on me and, at great personal risk, boldly lied to Voldemort and told him I was dead.  Upon reentering the castle she and Lucius did not join the fight, but just went looking for their son.  If not for her betrayal of Voldemort I would probably not have been able to defeat him.”

 

There was a great amount of murmuring following this declaration.  “That’ll do,” Kingsley shouted, calling them back to order.  “I think that this may be another case where an alternative should be given in regards to sentencing.  I am making a motion that she should get 25 years in Azkaban or 18 months of community service with a probationary period afterwards.”

 

“I’ll second that,” Mme. Hopkirk agreed.  She called for the vote which was overwhelmingly in favor of community service.

 

“May I make a motion that said community service should be at Hogwarts?  There is still a need for a Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher and in this way the rest of the staff could also keep an eye on her,” Harry suggested.

 

“Excellent, I’ll second that,” Arthur said.  This too passed well.  When Kingsley dismissed Narcissa, Draco went over to her.  She was still sobbing, albeit silently.  Harry doubted that she even knew what had happened.  Draco pulled her to her feet and half carried her out of the courtroom, nodding to Harry before exiting.

 

Harry then reminded everyone that he would be returning to Hogwarts in two days time.

 

“Is there anything I need to do during my absence?” he asked the room at large.

 

Mme. Hopkirk chose to answer and said, “I don’t think so, Mr. Potter.  I would imagine that everyone here understands your need to complete your education.  I personally laud that decision.  Are there any other trials that you feel you need to be a part of at this time?”

 

Harry looked down at the list of trials yet to take place.  He shook his head and replied, “The trials for which I had knowledge from Voldemort’s mind have already been completed.  I don’t see any more that I could be helpful with.”

 

Kingsley nodded his head and said, “Very well.  There is one more thing that I think the Wizengamot should discuss before Mr. Potter returns to Hogwarts.  Most of the departments here at the Ministry, including the Auror Department, have agreed that the Order of the Phoenix should continue.  It would be officially recognized by the Ministry, but would not be administrated here.  It would continue to be autonomous.”

 

Chief Warlock Kurt Reichgard, who always gave Harry strange looks when he made suggestions spoke up and said, “What need is there for such a secret society?  I think we would all feel more comfortable if the group would be disbanded.”

 

There were a few people nodding in agreement.  Mme. Hopkirk said, disdainfully, “If it weren’t for that secret society, no one would have stood up to Lord Voldemort.  Would you prefer that he had lived to continue controlling the Ministry?”

 

The Chief Warlock shifted uncomfortably, “Well, no, but…”







“Then perhaps you can see the advantage to having a group that is separate from the Ministry to keep a balance?  In this way, the Order can double check things.  They will be able to make sure that we are safe and things don’t get out of control here at the Ministry.  I myself was not a member of this organization, but it’s easy to see its merits,” Mme. Hopkirk said.

 

“Excellently put, Madam Hopkirk,” Kingsley said, approvingly.  “All those in favor of allowing the Order of the Phoenix to continue?”

 

Despite the fact that many had seemed uncomfortable with the notion, the motion passed with a decent majority.

 

As the Wizengamot began to filter out of the room, Kingsley caught Harry.  “Do you mind if we have a meeting of the Order this evening at your house?”

 

“Sure, but how do we contact everyone?” Harry asked.

 

“Well, why don’t I take care of the remaining members, Arthur can inform the Weasleys and you can invite any members of Dumbledore’s Army that are of age,” Kingsley suggested.  Harry agreed to this as he left the room.

 

He was waylaid in the Atrium by Reichgard.  The Chief Warlock sneered, “You think you’re so special, Potter, but I have your number.”

 

Harry raised his eyebrows at the man and asked, “What are you talking about?”

 

“You are seeking to take control of the Ministry.  I know that you have the Minister of Magic in your pocket, but I can assure that the rest of us won’t be so easily swayed,” he responded, glaring at Harry.

 

“I have absolutely no desire to take control of the Ministry.  You should know that right now.  All I wish for is a simple life.  As for K...” he’d almost used Kingsley’s first name again, “As for the Minister, we’ve been friends for a few years and worked together to fight against Riddle.  He values my opinion just as I value his.  There is nothing more to it than that.”

 

“I hear that he’s already hired you and that Weasley boy to work in the Auror Department,” Reichgard said, as though looking for confirmation.

 

“Not quite.  We have been invited to take the exams once we’ve finished school,” Harry said and turned his back to the man.  The discussion was useless, he thought.

 

Harry could hear the man say, “I’ll have my eye on you,” as he took the Floo to Grimmauld Place.  Ron, Hermione and Ginny all greeted the news of an Order meeting that night enthusiastically.  Harry found his fake galleon and sent out a message.  Knowing that most people probably weren’t even looking at their coins, he and Ron set to sending Fawkes and Pigwidgeon out to all of those members of the D.A. that were of age.

 

“Mum’s going to have kittens.  It sounds like they’re ready to let us join the Order, doesn’t it?” Ron asked as the four of them sat around the table in the kitchen.  They’d finally managed to convince Kreacher that if it was just them and the Weasleys that they didn’t have to eat in the dining room.

 

“Well, she can’t stop you guys, but I can guarantee she won’t let me join,” Ginny said, angrily.  Harry covered her hand with his and looked at her sympathetically.  Deciding to change the subject, Harry told them about the Malfoy trials.  Ginny, Ron and Hermione were rather impressed by the outcome and discussion continued about how the Ministry might continue to provide protection for Narcissa and Draco.

 

The Weasleys began popping out of the fireplace, just as Kreacher began to serve dinner.  Molly had a scowl on her face that told them Arthur had explained the plans for an Order meeting that night.  She said nothing, but stabbed moodily at the food on her plate.  Surprisingly she didn’t start in on Ginny not participating in the meeting.  Harry wondered if Arthur had warned her against it.

 

Once they’d finished eating Order members began arriving.  Harry had told Kingsley that everyone was welcome to use the Floo to get there, rather than having them all ringing the doorbell.  The kitchen began to get crowded.  Hestia, Dedalus, Elphias Doge, Professor McGonagall, Hagrid, Aberforth and Sturgis Podmore were the only living members left of the Order, Harry realized with a pang as he looked around.  Hagrid still hadn’t returned, but the rest of them had shown up.  There were so many missing faces from the group that Harry thought perhaps this was the reason Kingsley had suggested inviting some of Dumbledore’s Army to the meeting.  Kingsley stepped out of the Floo, greeting everyone warmly.  Lee Jordan, Harry’s old Quidditch team, Neville, Luna, Dean, Seamus, Lavender, Parvati, Padma, Ernie, Justin, Hannah, Susan, Michael Corner and Cho Chang all appeared.  Once everyone had gathered as closely to the table as possible, Kingsley asked for everyone’s attention.

 

“Okay, so today at the Wizengamot we got approval to continue with the Order of the Phoenix.  We will be autonomous from the Ministry, but with its sanction.  As you can see, almost all of our members were killed in either the first or second war,” Kingsley said, tears stinging the eyes of many in the room.  “Therefore, if we wish to continue with this organization we are going to need some new recruits.  Since the group calling themselves Dumbledore’s Army was one of the very few to stand up to Voldemort, I thought it fitting to allow them to join the Order if they wish.  I make a motion to give them this option.”

 

“Seconded,” Professor McGonagall said, looking around approvingly at her students and former students. 

 

Molly immediately intervened with “I’m sorry, but they are just children.  I don’t want any more of my children involved in this sort of thing.  I wonder if perhaps it was a mistake for us to join in the first place.”  She glared around the table at her offspring, Harry and Hermione.

 

“Molly, you don’t mean that,” Arthur said, wearily.

 

“I do!  Our family was torn asunder by this last war!  What if there were to be another?  I…” Molly broke off with a sob.

 

Harry thought that perhaps this outburst had as much to do with the death of Fred as the fact that she herself had killed someone.  He spoke softly to her from across the table, “Mum, could you honestly stand by quietly the next time when someone tries to become the next Voldemort?”

 

She hiccupped in response.

 

Arthur replied for her saying, “No, Harry, we couldn’t sit idly by.  This was the reason we joined in the first place.  Our losses actually pale in comparison with some others.”

 

He finished his last sentence looking around the table at the new faces, taking in the absence of those that should have been there.

 

“It’s not that, Harry,” Molly said, between sobs.  “I know that we would always stand up to any dark force.  I don’t think that we could ever do otherwise.  But it just terrifies me, especially with you and Ron being Aurors….I just don’t know if I can handle the stress anymore.”

 

Ron chose to intervene at this time and told his mother, “We ARE Aurors.  Who better to fight the Dark Arts than us?  It’s a dangerous job, but one that we’re capable of and that we’ll be good at.  The Order will be helpful for us.  Plus, I agree with Kingsley that it provides a good balance to the Ministry.  Mum, if necessary, we’ll continue Dumbledore’s Army outside of school for the same purpose.  It just seems silly, though, doesn’t it?  It makes more sense for us to be a part of the Order since we all have the same goals ultimately.  Also, look at what the Order has been reduced to.”  Ron looked around the table with the same sort of resigned look that Arthur had had, Harry noted.  Molly seemed to mull over Ron’s words before she finally nodded her head in reluctant agreement.

 

“I think it ought to be noted that there are some of us that are ready to retire,” Elphias Doge finally said, into the silence.  “I know that Albus worked tirelessly, but I know that personally I need to let go of all of this.”  He looked over to Aberforth.

 

Aberforth nodded in agreement and said, “Look, folks, I’m more than happy to continue to pass information to you as it comes into the Hog’s Head, but I really am getting too old for this business.  I only kept up with it because Albus made me promise before he died to do everything in my power to help Harry and the cause.  Not that I wanted You-Know-Who to take over, but that to oppose him was more dangerous than anything that I could really wish to handle.  I think that we should put this to the vote at this point and have done with.”

 

The only hand that didn’t go into the air was Molly’s, passing the motion with an overwhelming majority.

 

“I think I ought to explain a bit about what we do, before ANY of you agree to join,” Kingsley said, “because this isn’t something to take on lightly.  Although we are no longer in a state of warfare, the existence of this group is to combat the Dark Arts.  It is extremely dangerous and you will literally be taking your life into your hands by joining, as is obvious by the casualties we’ve sustained.  Our primary purpose right now is to assist the Aurors in tracking down remaining Death Eaters.  This is a task that may take years as many of them have gone into hiding and may be difficult to find.  In addition to this, another goal will be to monitor things so that if a new dark wizard begins to emerge we can begin to fight against him or her immediately before things can get out of control.  Lastly, our job will be to keep an eye on the Ministry to ensure that corruption doesn’t occur again.  Are there any of you who do not wish to take a part in this organization?”

 

Everyone shook their heads.  Kingsley then said, “Okay, now how many of you have another full year at Hogwarts?”

 

Only Ginny and Luna raised their hands.  “Very well, although we cannot induct you now, we will give you the opportunity to join once you’ve finished school,” Kingsley told them.  He then turned to the rest of the group and said, “I’m aware that most of you will be going to school for the next two months, but I would like to make a motion to induct you now.”

 

“Seconded,” Arthur said, Molly glaring at him.  Kingsley then had each person recite a short vow, pledging their allegiance to the Order and promising to uphold justice.

 

“There are a few pieces of business to discuss tonight.  The first is whether or not we wish to include Mundungus Fletcher in the group any longer.  To my way of thinking, he betrayed us one too many times.  Once Dumbledore wasn’t around to keep him in check, he wasn’t of much use to us.  I make a motion to dismiss him from the order,” Kingsley said, Harry seconding the motion and it passed unanimously.  Kingsley continued, “Now, being the Minister of Magic, I’m not sure that it’s appropriate for me to be a member of this group.  It could be considered a conflict of interest.  Perhaps we should discuss this.”

 

“I don’t think any of us would feel comfortable with you leaving entirely.  You were an essential part of the Order during the last war.  Maybe you could stay on in an advisory capacity, but without a vote?” Arthur suggested.  This was agreed to readily.  “However, that leaves us leaderless.  Shall we have some nominations?”

 

“I would like to nominate you, Dad,” Harry said.

 

“I think that having me as the head would be rather like Kingsley.  There’s too much of a conflict of interest.  We need someone that doesn’t have so much power at the Ministry.  I would like to nominate you, Harry,” Arthur replied, looking Harry straight in the eye.  Harry’s eyes narrowed menacingly at him.

 

Molly immediately objected, saying, “No way, Arthur.  Harry has had experience of the world, but he is still just a boy.  Although I still don’t approve of allowing the D.A. into the Order, it has now happened.  That doesn’t mean that they should now take charge of this group.  Also, the danger that accompanies the job is too ridiculous to even consider.”

 

“Molly, being the head of the Order doesn’t carry an immediate death threat, especially since there are very few who will even know that Harry heads the group.  He’s already a member.  That is now a fact.  It only makes sense,” Arthur told her gently.  She rolled her head, but nodded all the same.

 

“I’ll second Arthur’s motion,” Professor McGonagall said.  “No, Potter, hear me out before you interrupt.  Since we have decided to include Dumbledore’s Army within this group, the vast majority of the Order is now made up of those students that you yourself taught and led.  They are automatically going to look to you for leadership anyway.  I think it’s a natural move on our part.”

 

“Indeed, Minerva, I couldn’t agree more,” Aberforth put in.  “The boy has as much, if not more, experience as the rest of us.  My brother would have agreed whole-heartedly to this suggestion, I’m sure.”

 

That did it.  There was little room for argument now that everyone agreed that Albus Dumbledore would have approved.  Before Harry knew it they had voted to accept him as the head of the Order of the Phoenix.

 

“Fine,” Harry grumbled.

 

“I would like to make an additional suggestion,” Professor McGonagall said.  “In the past few years, twice corruption has invaded Hogwarts and twice Dumbledore’s Army fought against it.  As the Order gives a balance to the Ministry, so should Dumbledore’s Army give balance to the school.  Similarly, I would like for Dumbledore’s Army to be officially sanctioned by Hogwarts, but administrated by itself.  As students graduate, they can prepare and nominate their own leaders.  Those that have graduated can then be given the option to join the Order if they so wish.  That can be decided upon with a case by case basis.”

 

This too was agreed to and Professor McGonagall told Harry that she would arrange for a classroom in which Dumbledore’s Army could convene.  Harry looked at Ginny and Luna, thinking that they would be the most likely candidates to take over his position the following year.  The group could then vote for whom they wanted to lead them.

 

The Order meeting went on for a short while longer, discussing what to do about the remaining Death Eaters.  As the meeting concluded, Professor McGonagall thanked Harry for helping her find a Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher.  She agreed that it would be a good place for Narcissa to be, for both parties.  They could keep an eye on her easily at Hogwarts and she would be safe from escaped Death Eaters seeking revenge.

 

“Don’t forget to start packing, guys,” Molly said as she stepped into the fireplace to go home.  The four shared looks of disgust at the idea.  Harry didn’t have to go to the Ministry the next day and decided that he could use the whole day to pack if he wanted to.


 
A/N:  Next chapter will be back to school....I know...it's taking quite a long time!  Thanks for everyone's reviews.


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A Time to Live: Chapter 9: Prospects

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