Thanks to Ellarose_C (caryjanecarter) for the title help and also a huge thanks to cocoidie18 for beta-ing this for me. I'm really grateful for those who have stucked by and waited (somewhat patiently) for this chapter and I hope you'll show this patience till the end. I must apologise for the absence of my main character Anna, she'll be back in chapter 7, don't worry:)
Quote  comes from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.
Brilliant chapter image by Elysium @ TDA
Chapter 6: - It’s Only Just Begun
The month of November crept up as unexpectedly as the heavy rain it had brought with it. It had been over a month now that Harry, Hermione and Ron had found Slytherin’s locket, but it was still where Harry had placed it weeks prior, at the bottom of his trunk, wrapped in some old cloth. They had spent weeks trying to find ways to destroy it. Ginny, who had searched the Restricted Section from top to bottom when the others were away, had found nothing but old books that had seemed to be trying to make her ears bleed because they screamed so much.
Both Madam Pince and Filch had almost caught her on separate occasions. If she had not been wearing the invisibility cloak; she would have been done for. As for Dobby’s tracking of Anna Rosier, her activities were nothing out of the ordinary, in fact they were quite boring. According to Dobby she went to the Owlery to send a letter to her mother; after lingering for a while she stalked off to her Common Room, completed her homework and went straight to bed. Lately she’d been lingering in the library, sometimes after hours, and loitering in the halls, but she hadn’t been back to see Moaning Myrtle.
Even Quidditch matches had started, as well as Dumbledore’s Army. Gryffindor had already played against Hufflepuff who, to everyone’s surprise, won and the Slytherins had demolished Ravenclaw. The DA meetings, on the other hand, had been more successful. They were filled with eager first years willing to learn new tricks in how to defend themselves. However, those running the DA were warned by various teachers not to teach them things that they could not handle. These persons were not students, but Order members who were Aurors.
On one particularly cold day, Ron and Harry were sitting at a table in the Common Room completing a Charms essay, while Hermione was in Arithmancy and Ginny was off in the library with Luna.
“Harry?” asked Ron.
“Hmm?” mumbled Harry, who still had his head down, concentrating on a particular sentence.
“Harry,” said Ron sternly.
Harry raised his head quickly, and looked at Ron with some surprise. He had never sounded this serious before.
Ron opened and closed his mouth several times unable to get the words out. Harry sighed and put down his quill.
“What’s the matter with you?” asked Harry frowning.
“Has Hermione been acting strange to you lately?” he asked finally.
Harry raised his eyebrows and waited for Ron to explain himself more.
“She’s been acting all rude and snide to me since the term began,” Ron explained. “She’s been acting perfectly normal to you and Ginny, but me-"
He flailed his arms uselessly, sighing in frustration.
“What are you trying to say, Ron?” asked Harry.
“Is she mad at me or something?”
Harry smiled; in fact, he had to bite the inside of his cheek to stifle any laughter. After five years Ron still hadn’t realised, so of course Hermione was mad, but that was something he would let them sort out by themselves.
“Why don’t you ask her that the next time you see her?” Harry suggested.
“I already did, but she just got more upset,” said Ron, looking as if he’d lost all hope.
“It doesn’t hurt to try again,” Harry suggested. “Are you sure you don’t know why she’s miffed at you?”
Ron shrugged. “I’ll ask her, just as long as she doesn’t send a mass of birds at me,” he said feeling quite disgruntled. He pulled his shirt collar back to show Harry his pale, freckled skin. “I still have the scars from last time!”
Harry snorted, his shoulders shaking visibly. Ron glared at him.
“So, how are you and my sister?” he asked smirking.
Harry immediately stopped laughing and cleared his throat.
“Um, fine,” he muttered, looking at his essay. “We’re fine.”
Most people who say that they are fine are usually lying through their teeth and in this case, Harry was one of those people. He had ended his relationship with Ginny a few months ago; of course things weren’t fine. Sure, they were on speaking terms, but there were still tense moments when he felt like jumping her bones, but Ron, being the protective brother that he is, would throttle him.
“Really?” asked Ron sceptically, his eyebrows raised.
“Harry! Ron!” shouted Hermione practically sprinting up to them wielding a newspaper, which was clenched in her fist.
“Hermione, what’s wrong?” said Harry, getting up to help her, but she waved him away impatiently. Shrugging, he sat down again, making a mental note to thank her later for saving him from Ron’s questions. He shied away from looking at Ron who, he knew, wouldn’t be very pleased that his question was avoided.
“Have either of you read this morning’s Prophet?” she placed the paper on the table while pulling up a chair. She sat down in it and looked at her two friends.
“No, were we supposed to?” asked Ron, who instantly regretted it.
“What do you mean no!” she snapped, “You mean to tell me that in times like these, you two can’t pick up the paper to see what’s going on?”
Ron sighed and gave Harry a ‘see what I mean’ look.
“We didn’t see the paper this morning, we came back up here, right after breakfast,” said Harry, taking the pressure off of Ron, “What’s so important?”
“Someone broke into the Ministry last night,” she said sternly, glancing at them both, “Into the Room of Confiscated Artefacts.”
Ron snorted derisively. “You’ve got to be kidding me.”
Harry and Hermione looked at Ron, slightly baffled. “What?”
“You just can’t break into a room like that,” he explained, “especially since it’s in the Department of Mysteries.”
“I beg to differ, Ronald,” countered Hermione, “If Death Eaters were able to get in there two years ago, along with a bunch of teenagers, I don’t see the difference.”
Ron sighed, “The only ones who could get in that room are the Unspeakables, certain Aurors and some other top Ministry officials. I heard my dad mention it once. Apparently, you need some sort of password to get in; if you use force, it’ll sound an alarm. There're wards guarding it that would go off.”
“What exactly is in that room?” asked Harry.
“Things that they’ve confiscated in raids, dark objects, wands, basically things that people are not supposed to have or things that can be a danger to others if used the wrong way.”
“Wands?” Hermione raised an eyebrow.
“Yes, well, they confiscated wands for evidence or something but they’ve only been doing that recently,” Ron shrugged, “haven’t you ever wondered why, when someone escapes from Azkaban, they still manage to get hold of their wand? They don’t snap them, you know.”
“I still don’t-”
Hermione was interrupted by someone shouting her name. Whirling around, she saw Dennis Creevey, running up to her.
“Granger!” the younger Creevey skidded to a halt in front of the table, breathing heavily.
“Are you alright?” Hermione asked, looking concerned. Dennis leaned on the back of her chair taking deep breaths, then finally he stood upright.
“I have been trying to catch up to you ever since you left your class, but-” he stopped himself and gestured pathetically at his short legs, “Professor McGonagall wants to see you, all three of you. She said it’s important.”
The trio exchanged sharp looks, before racing out of the Common Room leaving poor Dennis Creevey in a daze.
Breathlessly, they arrived in front of the gargoyles that guarded the office. Looking around, Harry spotted Tonks, walking briskly towards them.
“Wotcher,” she said, nodding to the three of them, as Hermione muttered the password. They hadn’t fully gotten up the stairs, but could already hear loud, harsh voices.
“...didn’t steal anything.” argued one voice.
“Oh, rubbish!” snapped another voice, which sounded like Moody’s, “Why go to all the trouble to get in, if you’re not going to take anything?”
Harry stood in the middle of the doorway, watching them. Half of the Order members were present, standing around McGonagall’s desk, shouting at one another, while the portraits looked on with mild interest. It’s not like they had anything better to do anyway. Tonks slid in from behind Harry and stood next to Kingsley, who was still in a heated discussion with Moody.
“Erm, excuse me?” Harry cleared his throat and spoke loudly and at once, all conversation ceased. They tilted their heads slowly to look at him, some, with expressions of mild irritation because he had interrupted them. Professor McGonagall beckoned the three to come closer.
“Since the three of you are now members of the Order of the Phoenix, I figured that it was time you attended a meeting. This one, however, wasn’t planned,” she explained and nodded to Professor Lupin, who began to speak.
“Wait,” said Ron, before Lupin spoke, “What about Ginny?
“Miss Weasley will be informed,” said McGonagall sternly. “Or perhaps you could tell her yourself.”
Ron nodded and stuck his hands in his pockets. “Fine.”
“Now, I’m guessing that you saw the Daily Prophet, yes?” They nodded. “Well, they left out a few things. It only mentioned the break in, but not what was stolen.”
“That’s because they didn’t take anything!” interrupted Kingsley, “Whoever the intruders were, they didn’t take anything.”
“Yes,” said Lupin, “that’s the problem, why go to all the trouble to get into that room, but then, take nothing?”
“We checked everything,” Kingsley added, still glaring at Moody “Dawlish, Tonks and myself and nothing seemed out of place.”
“That sounds too strange, Kingsley,” said Moody, looking around at them all, a tall wizard behind him nodded in agreement.
“Suppose it was only a trick, like a diversion?” suggested Hermione.
“Dear girl!” exclaimed the tall wizard. “You can’t break into a room like that, only to cause a diversion.”
“He’s right, Hermione, you just can’t,” said Tonks, somewhat apologetically.
“So, who would’ve gotten into the room?” asked Harry. “They would’ve had to have gotten the password from somewhere, right?”
Lupin grimaced at Harry’s words and half shrugged. Harry looked at him strangely.
“Based on what happened this morning, we believe that the break-in and Fudge’s disappearance may be connected,” said McGonagall. “Whoever kidnapped Fudge needed information from him, which must have included the password to the room.”
“But if they got the password, why would the break in be reported?” asked Ron, curiously.
There was a shuffling in the corner and the tall wizard stepped forward, peering down at Ron. “Weasley, is it?” he asked, taking note of Ron’s red hair and freckles.
“Yeah,” Ron answered.
“Well, Mr. Weasley, even with the use of a wand, a password is still needed to gain entry into the room; that is if you get past the traps. There are only six Ministry Officials who had the password and their wand cores were on record; any unfamiliar wands used would set off the alarms immediately,” the man explained. "The thief set off the alarm at the door but we're not so sure what happened after that. Kingsley thinks that they didn't get any further but Moody and myself think that they got in somehow."
"If they alarms were sounded, wouldn't the thief try to escape?" asked Harry.
"It all depends on your thief." Lupin answered simply.
"What sort of traps are there?" asked Hermione as she stepped closer to McGonagall's desk.
"That's not information that we like to divulge especially to students." the tall man answered stiffly.
Moody rolled his eyes irritably, "The first one is a trapdoor; if you step on it you fall ten feet down into a pit of snakes."
Hermione shuddered, "Why would Fudge need to enter anyway, I thought he wasn't the Minister of Magic anymore."
"Fudge helped to develop the security measures for the room you see; Scrimgeour thought it was important to keep him in the loop."
“But what happened to Fudge?” asked Harry.
Moody’s head jerked up, his eyes glinting. “Do you want the good news or the bad news?” he asked.
Harry shrugged, “I suppose none of it is really good news anyway.”
“The good news is that we found Fudge,” Moody paused and looked around at the others, then back at Harry, “the bad news is that we didn’t find him alive.”
Harry’s eyes widened.
“The Dark Mark was found, hovering over Cornelius Fudge’s house this morning,” said Lupin gravely. “Inside, was Fudge’s body, along with his wife’s.”
Hermione gasped, her hand flew to her mouth as Tonks patted her shoulder.
“Was it the killing curse, sir?” asked Harry.
Lupin turned to Tonks, who nodded grimly, “His body looked a bit shook up though, a few bruises and scratches, we’re considering the Cruciatus Curse,” she said curtly, in a business like tone. “According to our reports, a house elf found Fudge on the stairs, after hearing some shuffling and a flash of green light, followed by a loud thud.”
“Unfortunately, his wife Patricia - a lovely woman, I might add, heard the noise too,” said the tall wizard, “and you could guess what happened next.”
“Poor old dear got whacked, just because she happened to see the intruder,” Ron mumbled darkly, receiving a reprimanding glare from both Hermione and Professor McGonagall.
“Do you have any idea who it was?” asked Harry.
“No, but it has to be the same person that broke into the room in the Department of Mysteries,” Kingsley said, shaking his head, “the house elf only saw the outline of the attacker, before she was stunned. Said they wore black robes, couldn’t tell if it was a man or a woman. The poor thing was in hysterics.”
“Weren’t there wards around the house?” asked Ron, “and weren’t people supposed to be watching it?”
“Yes, that’s what I’m wondering too, ay Stebbins?” Moody’s electric blue eye swirled around in its socket before resting on the tall wizard behind him, who rolled his eyes.
“Look, Fudge had been gone for months, it’s only obvious that the wards would’ve weakened,” he said irritably. “And you know full well that I wasn’t on duty last night, Alastor!”
The man known as Stebbins, pulled a long, gold chain from his pocket and flipped open the pocket watch that was at the end of it. He nodded to Kingsley and Tonks, “We’ve got to get back to the Ministry, to meet with the Minister and his advisors.”
As they stepped into the grate, Moody called to them, “I suppose the Minister isn’t happy, is he?”
“You have no idea.” Stebbins nodded to everyone before, he, Kingsley and Tonks, vanished in the green flames.
Harry raised his eyebrows at their tone whenever they mentioned Scrimgeour, it was almost mocking. Shaking this thought from his head, he turned to McGonagall who sat at her desk looking worn. She seemed to be staring right through him. Shifting himself a bit, he tilted his head to see what she was looking at. It was the portrait of Albus Dumbledore, who seemed to be deep in thought. He turned around to meet her gaze, smiling sadly at her. Yeah, I wish he were here too.
“Why wasn’t the news of Fudge’s death in the paper?” came Hermione’s voice, which broke his train of thought.
“It was found after the paper was posted,” Lupin answered, tiredly, “I think the Minister doesn’t want it out in the open yet either.”
“Was this just like the last time, Professor?” asked Hermione, who was now seated in a chair in front of McGonagall’s desk, staring at Moody, pointedly.
The old Auror looked at her thoughtfully and shook his head.
“No,” he answered gruffly. “At that time, he had more Death Eaters at his command wreaking havoc everywhere they went, some of them fresh out of school. Muggles and muggle born wizards were being slaughtered, just because.”
Hermione flinched at his words and Ron tentatively laid his hand on her shoulder, giving it a tight squeeze. It seemed to have completely slipped everyone’s minds that she had muggle parents, Harry noted that everyone seemed to be looking anywhere else but at her face, where tears were now flowing freely.
Moody eyed her slightly before continuing, “Several wizarding families who were against He-who-must-not-be-named, were killed brutally in their homes and at times, you couldn’t even find their bodies.”
“You couldn’t go anywhere by yourself anymore, without being attacked,” added Lupin, folding his arms across his chest, “some people just fled the country.”
“Didn’t you have an idea of who the Death Eaters were?” asked Harry.
“Of course we did!” Moody snapped, looking slightly offended, “But we didn’t have enough evidence to convict them. Most, if not all of the Death Eaters were from the rich, affluent families - the wizarding hierarchy and they worked at the Ministry. You should have seen them! The top Ministry officials were falling over themselves to please some of these people. They even had the Minister of Magic himself, eating out of the palms of their hands. A few thousand galleons here and they would be at their mercy. The Ministry was corrupt then.”
“It still is, Alastor.” added Lupin, quietly.
Moody nodded, tapping his stick on the floor, “When we actually caught some of the Death Eaters, it made some people outraged. Old Abraxas Malfoy was livid when we called his precious son a Death Eater, as a matter of fact, many parents were.”
“I thought Mr. Malfoy got off because he pleaded Imperius?” asked Ron.
“Oh he did,” Moody affirmed. “Many of them did, only because Fudge crumbled.”
Harry nodded in understanding, remembering Fudge’s words from a few years before.
“Very old family...gives to various charities...”
“Now he doesn’t have as many as before, as all of them are in Azkaban, that’s why things seem so quiet now,” said Lupin, “but I think that breaking into the Ministry was only an appetizer, something big is coming soon.”
They left the office more worried than when they had arrived. It was amazing the lengths people could go just to prove a point. For the life of them they could not understand why some people hated muggles so much. Harry and Ron walked silently behind Hermione, who seemed to be in a daze since she had heard what Moody said about muggles. She turned abruptly to face them and since they were walking so quickly, they almost crashed into her.
“Bloody hell, Hermione,” Ron grumbled, gripping Harry’s shoulder to steady himself, “couldn’t you tell us that you were stopping?”
“I need to do something about my parents,” she said hoarsely, brushing some hair from her still damp face.
“What?” asked both Harry and Ron.
“You heard what Moody said about the attacks on muggles, I need to protect them,” she said fiercely, her eyes narrowed at the expressions of pity that had suddenly crossed their features, “and don’t you dare look at me like that!”
She held her arms at her sides tightly, her fists clenched and glared up at them in the now empty corridor.
“What do you want to do with them?” asked Harry. “Send them into hiding?”
“Just until it’s all over.” she nodded, “Like what The Order did for your Aunt and Uncle.”
Harry nodded in understanding. The protection around his aunt’s house was broken when he turned seventeen. They had taken the necessary precautions to send them somewhere safe, just in case something should happen. To everyone’s surprise, nothing happened. Lupin and Moody figured that Voldemort wouldn’t have wasted time going there when he knew that Harry would’ve been moved.
“I don’t know why I didn’t think of them before,” Hermione continued, looking down at her feet. “Only when Moody told us about the First War, was...well-”
She broke off with tears running down her cheeks and onto her robes. Ron tentatively stepped towards her and held her awkwardly as she clutched to his shirt tightly, sobbing. Ron looked up at Harry for a bit of help, since he was never good with tears.
“Soothe her,” Harry mouthed.
Nodding, Ron rubbed her back, “Would- would you like some tea, Hermione?”
“Tea?” Hermione asked weakly into his chest.
Harry rolled his eyes and placed a hand on her shoulder, “Hermione, I’ll talk to Moody for you about your parents. We have him next, yeah?”
“Yeah,” confirmed Ron, still rubbing small circles into Hermione’s back.
The weeks spent in Alastor Moody’s N.E.W.T Level, Defence against the Dark Arts classes were definitely not wasted. After they reviewed duelling, they did a more advanced study on the Unforgivable Curses and how, when possible, to block them. They also learnt about the history of Dark Magic and the spells that were invented. Even though they weren’t any defensive spells against them, they learnt how to properly deflect them. On a whim, he allowed them to practice such dark spells on dummies. Today, they were delving a bit deeper.
“Listen up, you lot!” Moody barked, his magical eye swirling around in its socket, as the class grew silent.
“Today, we shall be going on to study control of the mind, formally known as Legilimency. Does anyone know its defence?”
As per usual, Hermione’s hand shot into the air as Harry slowly raised his. Smiling crookedly, Moody nodded towards Hermione, who lowered her hand looking slightly crestfallen. “We’ll give you a break today, Granger. Yes, Potter?”
“Occlumency is the known defence against Legilimency, but you can use other means of protecting yourself against it, usually when someone casts the spell.”
“Right you are, Potter,” Moody agreed. “But why do you think it’s important to do so?”
Ignoring Hermione’s raised hand, his eyes searched the classroom for those who he thought needed to pay attention and at last, he found such a person seated in the third row, half asleep on the desk.
The girl in question shot up, her back as straight as rod, giving her teacher a bemused look. “Yes, Professor?” she answered, with as much enthusiasm as she could muster.
“What, no scowls or glares today, Miss Rosier?” Moody clutched his chest, while Anna gave him a small smile.
“I’m sorry that I can’t engage in our usual banter today, Professor, I find it tiring and useless, don’t you?” she said lazily.
Her statement received a few chuckles from her classmates, while others just smiled.
“Just answer the question Rosier,” Moody pressed.
The smirk on her face made one think that she enjoyed pushing Moody’s buttons; maybe she really did.
“Any person who gets hold of what’s inside another’s head, such as thoughts or memories, could use them to manipulate said persons,” she said smoothly. “Finding weaknesses to exploit them, playing tricks, using them in such ways that the victim could be driven to insanity because of it or even bringing them within an inch of death.”
“And when will people be prone to invasion, Rosier?”
“When they’re in vulnerable positions, such as being held in captivity, or... more personal circumstances,” she said, her face turning slightly pink. “If one is captured, one will be afraid, thus, your heart and your mind race. You may not be able to stay calm and block things about yourself.”
Moody nodded imploringly. “As Rosier has explained, it is very important to learn Occlumency, it could be an important part of your many resources, if something happens to you.”
Harry guiltily bowed his head, as he saw Moody glance in his direction.
“The mind is a very powerful tool, ladies and gentlemen,” said Moody solemnly. “If left in the wrong hands...” he broke off, shaking his head and ordered them to take notes.
Class finished an hour later, everyone leaving with the mentality that if you can’t protect your mind, you can’t protect anything else. Hermione had stayed behind to talk to Moody, while Ron and Harry waited outside. They had decided that it was something Hermione had to do on her own.
“Harry?” Hermione asked quietly, as they all trekked to the Gryffindor Tower, “have you figured out what you were going to do with the you-know-what?”
Harry paused, glancing up and down the corridor. “Well, I thought about how the others affected you, if you got too close to them.”
“Too close how?” asked Ron.
“Forming an emotional attachment to it,” piped Hermione, as Harry nodded. “Like what happened to Ginny in her first year.”
“And I’m pretty sure that there’s a curse on them as well,” Harry continued, as he walked along the corridor, the rest of them following, “Dumbledore’s hand started to wither when he put on the ring.”
“That makes sense, but have you thought about how to destroy it?” asked Hermione.
Harry shook his head, “No, I don’t want to tamper with it, not until I have enough information on it, and we haven’t found anything so far.”
“But where are we going to find information like that?” asked Ron. “If they don’t teach us stuff like that at school, what makes you think you’d find anything about it here?”
“Maybe Dumbledore kept them in his office when he took them out of the library,” suggested Hermione.
Harry raised his eyebrows at his friend, as they reached the end of the corridor. “What are you getting at Hermione?”
“Well-” she broke off as she heard shouts coming from around the corner. Taking out her wand, she jogged towards the noise, Harry and Ron followed suit.
Hermione came to an abrupt halt in front of an enraged Ginny who was glaring down the corridor to her left, while Luna stood at her side looking unusually calm.
“Ginny, what in the bloody hell is wrong with you?” Ron asked his sister.
“Slytherins,” she grumbled.
“We were walking around, recruiting new members for the DA,” Luna explained, dreamily. “I asked some Slytherin second years if they were interested and well, they refused.”
“Told us off is more like it!” Ginny fumed. “‘Like we need protecting’, they said. ‘I’d take the time to learn counter-jinxes, Weasley, you’ll need them.’”
“So you yelled at them?” asked Hermione.
Ginny looked at her as if she were mad, “Of course I bloody well did!”
Ron and Harry shook their heads. “Just ignore them, Gin,” said Harry.
“Yeah,” agreed Ron, “one of these days, You-know-who will knock off one of them and they’ll eat their words.”
“Ron!” said Hermione disapprovingly.
“I’m serious Hermione, just one of these days and they’ll know how we feel!”