After months meeting in the Shrieking Shack and rotating between the homes of some members, by late August 1995 the Order of the Phoenix finally had its own headquarters – the house in Muggle London where Lily and James had lived in the first year of their marriage.
Harry had found its key when they’d gone to his Gringotts’ vault and, after a brief visit to it, he’d offered the lower ground floor apartment, with its independent and discrete entrance via the alley behind the townhouse, for the Order to use… that was, as long as he and his friends were allowed to be there too whenever there were order meetings, even if they couldn’t be in the meeting’s room. Of course, there were other ways for them to know what was being said in the meeting.
The thick protection wards on the house had been set by James’s father himself, Christopher Potter, who’d been one of the greatest aurors of his time and, like many aurors, had grown rather obsessed with his family’s safety. So, no document in the ministry would ever relate that house to the Potter family and nobody would be able to get in it without its owner’s clearance. All in all, it was a fortress, especially after Dumbledore’s ward reinforcements.
In the twenty-sixth of August another order meeting had been called, the last before the new school year at Hogwarts started.
“What are you thinking of?” Sirius asked his wife as he sat by her side at the headquarter’s kitchen’s table, while they waited for everyone else to arrive to the meeting.
Mia sighed. “This place. It makes me nostalgic. This was the place, I mean, upstairs was the place, where Lily and James were supposed to have raised Harry and their other kids. Makes you think, doesn’t it?”
“Yeah, I had a strange feeling in the moment I walked through the door again,” Sirius said. “Just before, I opened a closet and James’s old broomstick all but fell on me. A Nimbus 1500 – the top model in our seventh year. I was thinking that maybe we could have it fixed and give it to Harry next Christmas. I doubt it will ever fly as fast as today’s brooms but I think the history of that broom will make up for it. What do you think?”
She chuckled. “I think I don’t know a thing about broomsticks but I can see how that is a good idea. James would like Harry to have his broom.”
“Maybe one day in the future he’ll move into this place and create a family here,” he told her.
Mia smiled. “Yeah, maybe one day.”
Sirius leaned to kiss her brow. “Surely one day. Well, I think I’ll go see if Moony’s here yet – he’s been sulking way too much lately.”
“Are you going to tell him to get a girlfriend?” she asked in amusement. “It’s getting sort of old. He never actually listens, Sirius.”
“Sweetheart, my dear mother, may her soul rest in hell forever, always said that with enough persistence, people will give in to anything,” Sirius told her, to Mia’s confusion. When did he ever consider his hag of a mother right about something? But he continued. “Of course, she was wrong in the context, as that maxim usually came when I told her to piss off with her blood purist crap. But as I’m not trying to feed old Moony with evil values, I may have a shot at making him give in to it.”
Mia chuckled. “Well, good luck with that.”
He flashed her a grin before heading to the kitchen’s door, almost bumping into Lulu in his way out and quickly apologizing.
“Ah, there you are,” Lulu said as she stepped into the kitchen. “What are you doing here by yourself? There’s something called socializing – it’s very common among human beings and some say it’s also healthy.”
Mia shrugged. “I wasn’t by myself until a few moment ago – Sirius was here. And I haven’t been feeling very social lately. The bloody papers every day calling Harry and Dumbledore a bunch of lunatics don’t put me in a very good mood.”
“Wait, hadn’t you cancelled the subscription?” Lulu inquired.
“I was planning to but Harry insisted we kept receiving the papers – he wants to know what’s being said. It makes sense in a way but… it sucks, Lu. It’s my kid and I can’t do a thing about it.”
Lulu nodded. “I imagine it feels really bad. Well, I did cancel that piece of rubbish and subscribed the Quibbler instead. Gabe’s always complaining that it has no news that can even pretend to be believable but it does give us a bunch of priceless laughs in the morning.”
Mia sighed. “Well, maybe when the kids get back to school I’ll do the same. My patience can only handle so much.”
“Good. Now get up from that chair and go join everyone else in the meeting room,” Lulu instructed her, grabbing her arm and pulling her up to her feet. “Come on.”
Knowing it was worthless fighting Lulu, she just let herself be dragged – when Lulu decided on something, there was no saying ‘no’ to it.
In the meeting room, she saw Sirius standing by Remus’s side, pointing at several unmarried women in the room as if cataloguing them to him and receiving increasingly annoyed looks by his old friend. Elizabeth was also there, chatting lively with Kingsley Shacklebolt, Molly and Arthur Weasley by the elliptic table that was settled in the middle of the room.
“Hiding in the kitchen. She certainly doesn’t get the antisocial trait from me,” Lulu said as soon as they reached Gabriel.
“Leave her alone, Luce. Not everyone has to be as disconcertingly extroverted as you are,” he replied, half amused.
Lulu rolled her eyes. “That’s what makes the world the way it is. A stupid mess.”
“Oh, I’m sure that’s true,” he said sarcastically before turning to Mia. “How are you doing Mia? I’ve noticed the kids aren’t here today.”
“I’m good,” Mia replied casually. The month and half that had passed since Gabriel had been revealed to be alive had certainly helped reducing the awkwardness between them, especially because her kids had grown quite attached to him. She could say there were walking towards that friendship they used to have. That was, if they weren’t there already. A father/daughter relationship, however, was very far away and neither of them insisted on it. “And no, the kids are not here. Kreacher is watching Alex as usual and the other two opted not to grace us with their presences today. They’re at the playground across the street with their friends. So, how’s the new job?”
“Not bad. At this time of the year there isn’t much movement at the apothecary… or so the owner says. But using the Glamour charms all day long is rather uncomfortable,” he told her, scratching his own chin as if feeling the phantom itch that the charms made him feel.
Just seconds later, Dumbledore entered the room, calmly asking the members of the Order to gather at the middle of the room. Mia quickly excused herself from Lulu and Gabe and moved to her husband’s side before they sat by the table.
The headmaster proceeded to tell them the news about several members that had been or still were busy in Order duties and gathering allies. His briefing went on for several minutes. Plans to watch the ministry’s actions were discussed and assigned, new missions were set and other business was talked.
About ten minutes after the meeting’s official start, several bangs were heard in the room, coming from the back door of the house. Nearly everyone raised their wands in alarm and Dumbledore himself lead a group of five, Sirius included, to the back door. The headmaster carefully opened the door to show Izzy and Ginny standing outside, looking very pale and scared.
“Dementors,” Ginny said. “There are Dementors outside. They’re surrounding Harry, Ron and Hermione.”
Outside – minutes earlier
“You know, I’m sort of disappointed that Fred and George didn’t come,” Izzy declared as she sat on a swing of a deserted muggle playground near the headquarters. “Order meetings without extendable ears to eavesdrop from the kitchen are boring.”
“Well, they had to go to Lee Jordan’s this time,” Ginny said from a bench where she sat uncomfortably between Ron and Hermione, who’d been staying at Grimmauld Place for the past week. “Said they ‘have a whole new season of pranking coming up and need to get prepared to it’.”
Ron groaned. “I wish they’d taken me too.”
“Oh, thanks for stating how boring we are, mate,” Harry said, shooting him a mock-offended look from his seat at the bottom of slide.
“Oh, shut up,” Ron mumbled. “You know what I mean – with Fred and George you’d even have fun in a funeral. But they’ve sort of been avoiding me since I’ve received the prefect’s badge. It’s like they’re afraid I’ll be like Percy, that traitorous bastard.”
Nobody said a word about his comment concerning Percy – ever since he’d left the Weasleys to take the ministry’s side, the air tended to become rather heavy when his name was mentioned.
Hermione coughed before talking. “Ron, being a prefect is something to be proud of, not ashamed. Just because someone who used to have the title turned out to be a… ‘traitorous bastard’ it doesn’t mean you’ll be one too.”
“Plus, Mum and Dad gave you a broomstick because of it while I’m stuck with the old brooms,” Ginny mumbled.
“Sirius has given me a golden snitch for not making prefect,” Harry pointed out. He knew, though, that it had been his godfather’s way of trying to cheer him up for not having made prefect, not that it meant so much to him. All in all, it had been amusing seeing himself being rewarded for the opposite reason Ron was. “He said I’ll get a flying motorbike if I don’t make Head Boy too, as long as Aunt Mia never finds out.”
Izzy chuckled as she tried to put the swing in motion. “Oh, she will. She always manages to find out when we do something we shouldn’t. And when she does find out, Death Eaters will be the least of your worries because she’ll make sure you’ll be permanently attached to your bedroom’s floor.”
Harry shrugged. “Sirius would probably come later and reverse the spell.”
She snorted as the swing oscillated like a pendulum. “I meant Mom would do all that to you after she’s done with Dad. He’ll probably need years of therapy to forget whatever punishment she gives him.”
Harry gulped. “Hum, hopefully by that time we’ll have more siblings to distract her and she’ll never find out.”
Ginny shook her head at him. “There were seven of us in the house and that didn’t keep Mom from keeping us all under her watch – it’s just the way moms are. But we’d probably visit you during your seclusion. Do you think I could have the Firebolt then? At least someone would be enjoying it while you were grounded.”
Ron elbowed her. “I’m his best mate, I should get the firebolt.”
His sister elbowed him back. “But you already have a broom that doesn’t suck!”
Harry rolled his eyes before turning to Hermione, who’d just gotten up from the bench she’d been sharing with the two siblings to avoid being accidentally hit in the fight. “This is nice. I’m not even grounded yet and they’re already fighting over who inherits my broomstick. Some friends I have.”
“I can assure you I’ll never take part on fighting over a broomstick,” Hermione told him. “But Sirius was kidding about the motorcycle, wasn’t he? That is dangerous. Remember that incident with the flying car?”
“Don’t remind me,” Harry groaned.
“That’s my point – do you really want to get killed in such a stupid way? Sirius had to be kidding.”
“He probably wasn’t,” Izzy told Hermione. “Dad used to have one himself.” Then, she turned to Harry. “But wait, did he mention if I’ll get something like that if I don’t make prefect and Head Girl? Because I’d be willing to spend all year in detention if I got a flying motorcycle out of it.”
Hermione huffed. “Doesn’t anybody listen to me? Your mother is a Hogwarts teacher – she’ll know of any detention you get right away. And she won’t be so happy. Besides, wasting precious dozens of hours of your life in detention can’t possibly be worth a flying motorcycle.”
Izzy was about to reply but, before she could say anything, the warm summer breeze became chilling all of a sudden and she stopped the swing. The sun up in the sky became covered by dark clouds and a fog started to appear in the air.
The feeling of uneasiness and depression that followed was far from being unknown to any of them. They’d felt it before, mostly nearly two years before when Sirius had been on the run. It was Dementors.
Before any of them could think of running, the floating grey figures appeared from all sides, coming fast in their direction. The closer it got, the colder it felt. The deeper they sunk. The Dementors, at least eight of them, were trapping them inside and, they knew, they weren’t fast enough to escape the cage by running – the creatures were all faster and able to suck any bit of confidence they might possess out of them.
Despite the weight on his chest and the screams he knew to belong to his mother in his head, Harry managed to reach for his wand, clutching it hard. He knew that, of all five of them, he was the only one who could successfully perform a Patronus charm and, if he was lucky enough to be able to concentrate, might send one, maybe two, of the Dementors away, open a hole on the cage and enable some of them to run to the headquarters and call for help.
He summoned the happiest thoughts he could get out of that dark pit the Dementors were drowning him in. “Expecto Patronum!” he said. A silvery bit of silvery smoke shot from the tip of the wand and one of the Dementors hesitated, but the spell was far from having done its job. It didn’t take long for the creature to recover and resume its approaching, along with the others.
He needed to cast a full Patronus if he wanted to give any chance to his plan. “EXPECTO PATRONUM!” he yelled again, with all the confidence he could summon. And this time the familiar silver stag appeared, making two of the Dementors float away, which opened a hole in the cage. “Izzy, Ginny, go call for help!” he shouted, knowing the two younger girls were the closest to the opening. “I think I can hold it back for a while. Go and call for help. Now!”
They did and seconds after they escaped, the opening closed. He managed to hold the Patronus for a few more minutes but, eventually, the circle of Dementors started growing stronger and the Patronus weaker. But in the same moment the stag disappeared, several other silvery figures appeared: a lynx, a dog, a horse… Sirius, Mia, Dumbledore and numerous other members of the Order were standing by, pointing their wands at the Dementors and successfully chasing them away with their Patronuses.
Eventually, all the Dementors were gone and he felt someone grabbing his arm from behind, making him turn around to see his godmother standing there.
Mia took a deep breath and pulled him into a relieved hug.”Are you alright? Do you feel faint? Do you need…”
“I’m okay,” he said before he pulled away and took a few seconds to breathe. “I’m okay, really. What were Dementors doing here in the middle of London?!”
She shook her head. “We don’t know,” Mia told him, a little out of breath. “Come on, let’s get you out of here, Harry.”
Harry nodded and Mia put one arm around him protectively before quickly walking him into the headquarters, while others stayed behind to make sure the Dementors wouldn’t come back.
He saw Sirius standing with Dumbledore and Kingsley Shacklebold right by the lower ground floor’s entrance, talking with sober tones on their faces
“… I’ll need to report this and call the obliviators right away – there may be muggles who saw this from their homes,” Kingsley Shacklebolt was telling Dumbledore, when he and Mia walked by.
“I’ll tell the rest of the members of the order to leave – if all of them were here, the ministry might ask too many questions,” the headmaster said before turning to Harry and forcing an approving smile. “Mr. Potter, that was an impressive Patronus you casted. Vary advanced for your age indeed. I’m afraid we may have been underestimating your ability to defend yourself.”
“Th… thank you, professor,” Harry mumbled, blushing a little at the praises, giving more colour to the pale expression he had.
Sirius placed a hand on his shoulder. “You do realize you’ve just saved the day, right? Again. How do you feel now, kid? You gave us a scare before.”
“I feel fine, just a bit… shaky,” he said. The others are alright, aren’t they?”
His godfather nodded. “Yes, they’re all in the kitchen being mothered by Molly.”
Harry breathed in relief, then. “So, what happens now?”
“Now, you go home and stay there, while we handle the rest,” Mia said firmly. “Remember our agreement – let us take care of things and we’ll tell you what we can.”
Part of Harry wanted to refuse it but he didn’t feel so great at the moment. It was one of those times when knew that he didn’t stand a chance trying to fight his godmother. He’d give it a rest at the moment.
“Well, you can to the kitchen and see the others,” Mia told him. “We just need to discuss something and then we’ll take you home.”
Harry nodded and made his way to the kitchen. Now that he was walking by himself, his feet felt heavy as bricks and he was exhausted by the time he reached the kitchen. At least I didn’t pass out like last time, he thought.
He saw the others sitting by the table, wrapped with thick blanket probably conjured by Molly, who was serving them hot tea.
“Oh, Harry, dear. Come here and sit them – you look terrible,” Molly said as soon as she saw him, walking to him and pulling him onto a chair and placing a cup of tea in front of him. “Oh, that owl has just arrived for you.” The redheaded woman pointed at a tiny black own that was right standing on the battered kitchen table.
He reaching for the owl, wondering what it was there for. He got hold of the letter in no time and immediately gulped when he saw it. It had no address, probably because the house couldn’t be detected by means of magic, but he guessed the owl shared Hedwig’s capacity of finding people out of instinct. But what scared him the most was the ministry’s seal. Had they finally decided to arrest him for telling everyone Voldemort was back and had sent the Dementors to get him? He ripped open the envelope, wanting to just get on with it and started reading the letter.
Dear Mr. Potter,
We have received intelligence that you performed the Patronus Charm at twenty-three minutes past six this evening in a Muggle-inhabited area.
The severity of this breach of the Decree for the Reasonable Restriction of Underage Sorcery has resulted in your expulsion from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Ministry representatives will be calling at your place of residence shortly to destroy your wand.
Hoping you are well,
Improper Use of Magic Office
Ministry of Magic
He knew his face had gone blank – completely blank. That couldn’t be. They couldn’t… Or could they? Maybe they did. He’d preformed underage magic, after all – it was against the rules. His only comfort right now was that they couldn’t destroy his wand as the ministry still foolishly believed he and his family lived in the old Davis house back in Wales. And they’d never get into Grimmauld Place or that house…
“Mate, are you alright?” Ron asked with caution. Was he having a fit or something?
Izzy wasn’t half as delicate and, as soon as she reached him with her arm, ripped the letter from his hands to see what it said. She’d barely read one paragraph before understanding what it was. “Mum! Dad!” she called loudly. They had to know a way to fix that.
A few seconds passed and they heard footsteps outside before Sirius and Mia entered the room, followed by Dumbledore, and Izzy silently passed her mother the letter.
Mia’s face visibly changed as she read the later: from nervousness to confusion and then to anger. Sirius, who also read the paper over her shoulder, didn’t react so differently. “I cannot believe… this is preposterous!” she said. “They cannot expel Harry for having used magic to save his life! Someone lit the bloody fireplace because I’m going there and…”
“Amelia, please calm down and let me read the note,” Dumbledore said, stretching his hand to receive the sheet of parchment. She bit her lip not to scream in anger and passed it to the headmaster.
Sirius grasped her shoulder. “Nobody here is being expelled. That will only happen over my dead body.” Then he looked directly at Harry. “I’ll go to the ministry to make them reinstate you by pointing my wand at their heads if I have to.”
“That won’t be necessary,” Dumbledore told him, refolding the letter. “Cornelius has obviously forgotten that Hogwarts is not under his power – the ministry has no authority to suspend or expel my students and I can assure all of you that I’ll personally make sure this expulsion doesn’t take place. I’d advise you, Harry, to go home with your friends and wait for my contact. All of you, try not to worry too much about this. As long as I’m the headmaster of Hogwarts, nobody will be expelled from without a rational reason. Now, if you excuse me, I need to go talk to Cornelius.”
“Give him my best wishes,” Sirius said through his teeth as the headmaster quickly retreated. And a well-placed punch in the face, he added in his thoughts. Merlin knew if anyone deserved a good punch these days, it was Cornelius Fudge. And he hoped to be the one to provide him with it, sometime.
“Fudge is going too far,” Mia murmured after they’d left the kitchen. “Merlin knows what he may do next.”
Sirius snarled. “Let him try to do worse, Mia. He’ll have to deal with me if he dares messing with out kid more than he already does.”
A/N: Next chapter is halfway done, so I may be able to update sooner... I know I've been failing lately but the second year of college seems to be complicated when it comes to papers. Hope you liked this one. Feedback is very welcome. Review!