Harry had never seen anything quite like the camp site. The tents were set up so that the site looked like a small village. He could see some up in trees, but most were on the ground. Fires were lit in front of each tent and most had a kettle boiling on top. People were spread all over the place—sitting, laughing, and watching the children play. Harry looked at Ron who seemed just as amazed as he did, but Hermione looked as if nothing was new here.
She must have been here before
She was smiling and soon she ran off and threw herself into the arms of a group of people who Harry assumed were her friends. As Harry and Ron followed Moody further into the camp, people stared, some waving. They walked by an older woman who was roasting a large fish over an open fire.
“Hope you’re hungry,” she called after them when they walked by and Harry smiled at her. Harry peered into one of the open tents but all he could see was a small cot, a small fire, and a washbasin.
As they passed another group in the camp’s medical wing, Harry’s heart dropped. Most were injured, obviously from Sirius’s camp, and Harry couldn’t help but feel guilty somehow. Their injuries could be quickly healed with magic, if only they were allowed to use it. He quickly searched the faces for Sirius but didn’t find him.
“Where’s Sirius?” he asked Moody who was walking ahead.
“You’ll see him later tonight. He is away looking for food,” Moody answered without turning.
“This is the coolest thing I’ve ever seen,” Ron whispered to Harry and Harry was forced to agree. They had water, fire, home, and gardens filled with fruits and vegetables. Harry turned to see where Hermione had gone, but she seemed to have disappeared.
Finally Moody stopped walking and Harry looked up to see where he had taken them. Noticing the tattered tent sitting in front of them, Harry hurried inside it. “Sirius?” he called out. Moody entered shortly after him.
“I told you, boy, he’s not here. Now you two, rest and wash up here. Tonight you will meet Dumbledore and the rest of the Order.”
“Can we eat?” Ron asked quickly.
“I’m not your bleeding babysitter!” Moody barked and left the tent. Ron threw himself on one of the cots.
“This place is cool,” he said and pulled out two chocolate bars from his pocket and tossed one to Harry who was sitting on his own cot. Harry felt too overwhelmed to answer. He had waited so long to see the camp, to see how they lived…to see Sirius again. He never imagined, though, that Hermione would be with him. Hermione, who Ron had decided was the girl he would marry; Hermione, who he had been foolish enough to believe had feelings for him…who he had been foolish enough to have feelings for.
As if Ron was reading his thoughts he said, “Can you believe she’s here?” He sounded almost blissful.
“No,” Harry finally answered.
“It’s like fate,” Ron sighed and Harry closed his eyes. Ron looked over at Harry. “Don’t worry, Harry,” he joked obviously not understanding Harry’s reaction. “We’ll find you a girl. Maybe even here in the camp!”
Night fell before Harry and Ron were finally fetched from their tent, and it wasn’t a moment too soon. Not having eaten in hours had taken its toll on Ron, who had become increasingly more irritated and Harry was beginning to grow weary of it. A calm had settled over the camp since the evening. Fires were burning brightly everywhere and they cast a magical glow over the whole of the camp.
Harry looked around him as he and Ron made their way across the camp ground. Many people were sitting in front of their fires, warming up, eating, or chatting with friends. Others had already turned in or were enjoying some privacy with their families.
Harry and Ron reached the largest of the tents and walked in as the entrance was lifted for them. Harry looked around and recognized many of the faces smiling up at him.
“Harry!” he his head to the side to see Sirius approaching him with open arms. They embraced so violently that Harry’s breath was almost knocked from his chest. Seeing Sirius after so long lifted a burden from his chest heavier then he expected to be carrying.
“Come, sit here by me,” Sirius said as he gestured to a spot near the wall. Harry greeted the rest of the room, which he was happy to see included Albus Dumbledore, who was conversing with Minerva McGonagall and Kingsley Shacklebolt. “Before we speak of anything else, Ron…” Sirius turned to look at the redheaded boy. “I spoke to your father earlier today. You may have been told of his anticipated arrival at this camp today.” Ron nodded, urging Sirius to continue. “He was unable to make it, as you see. He suspects he is being watched closely, so he stayed behind at the Ministry to work late. But he sends his best and says that Molly would like to see the two of you for dinner soon.” Ron’s ears turned a bit pinker but before he could answer Sirius turned to speak more with his godson.
“You look very well, Harry. How is the outside world treating you?” Sirius asked.
“Same as always,” Harry mumbled.
“It’s awful,” Ron intervened, “Mum and Dad keep talking about the days before Voldemort when Muggle-borns were treated just like everyone else and people were able to speak their minds. Our world has changed so much. What is wrong with people these days? Don’t they see how immoral it is to treat people this way?”
Harry looked at Ron. He was so passionate about humanity and spoke as if he, like his parents, remembered the days of peace. Harry couldn’t help admiring Ron. Harry knew Ron was fighting purely because he believed that what was happening in the magical world was wrong and unjust, but Harry didn’t know if this was his own reason. He couldn’t swear that the murders of his parents were not what inspired him the greatest. He knew he would never have just stood by like so many others do, but he wished he knew what motivated him most. Justice or vengeance?
“Harry?” Sirius asked, interrupting his thoughts.
“There’s really not much to say,” he said quietly, and shrugged. He and Sirius exchanged smiles, a moment that was ruined when Sirius painfully elbowed Harry in the side.
“Pretty!” Sirius hissed and Harry didn’t even need to look up to know who Sirius was talking about. Still, Harry couldn’t stop himself from turning and watching Hermione as she entered the tent. She glanced over at them and smiled back at Ron who was grinning at her. She nervously cast a glance at Harry and then sat down next to a blonde girl on the other side of the tent.
“So you don’t know her?” Harry whispered to Sirius and Ron leaned in so close that he was half lying in Harry’s lap.
“No, never seen her before. But I just arrived here after the attack—haven’t quite met everyone yet.” Sirius stopped talking abruptly and Harry looked up to see that Dumbledore standing, ready to speak to the group.
“My friends, finally we can all meet. Not all are here yet, we are still waiting for some who remained in Kingsley’s camp to settle the final arrangements, and some could not get away for safety reasons.” Harry cast a glance at Ron who bit his nails, obviously thinking about his family. “They are not many however, and they shall join us within a few days. But here we are, all together. Sadly it is an unfortunate circumstance that has brought us here. We should, however, look beyond this and see what it has given us. It has given us the chance to move forward, and we can not wait any longer. This is not a failure…” Dumbledore went quiet and ran a hand through his beard. “A Muggle man once said that many of life's failures happen when people do not realize how close are to success before giving up.
We should try keeping this close at heart, and near in our minds.
“I have contacted many of our allies in Europe and they are eager to help us in our quest for freedom. I have many reasons to believe that Voldemort is moving forward with his plans to invade Europe.” A loud murmur broke out and Dumbledore waited patiently for it to die out. “Therefore, we must move forward with our plans as well. I have spoken with each of you individually and as a group, you know what your mission is. But we will discuss it once more, because there is no such thing as too careful. You must forgive this old man, it has happened rather fast for me as well. Consolidating the two camps was necessary; the attack only shows how unwise and unsafe it was to separate everyone. We lost a lot of good people, great wizards and witches.”
Harry turned to Sirius who was now looking into the fire.
“But for them we must fight on. There are still lives to save and we must carry out our task with our heads held high.” Dumbledore raised his goblet. “Now, let us drink to the memories of those we have lost.” Everyone raised their goblets. “Tonight we are finally united. So let’s feast and remember that success is never final. Failure is never fatal. It is courage that counts.”
They all took a swig and a soft humming from everyone’s murmurs broke out again. Hermione drank from her goblet and the taste of the red wine immediately soothed her nerves. She felt so awful for those who had lost their lives, lost their families and friends. She couldn’t bear to think about what would have happened if it had been her own camp. She glanced over at Harry, but he wasn’t looking at her.
Hermione returned to her tent to wash up before she joined the feast. She could hear the music and laughter from outside and was eager to join them. She walked around her tent once more, enjoying the delight of being back. She had been staying here since she finished school and this was the first time she’d been back since Dumbledore had asked her to return undercover to the Wizarding World—to act as a slave. She had worked for almost a full year as a maid for an awful wizard, but the fat old buffoon had died. Dumbledore then sent her to work at the Leaky Cauldron. She did not complain, working for the Order and fighting to stop Voldemort was what she wanted to do, but she did hate what she had to endure.
She looked at the small battered old mirror on the wall. She found herself pale and rather worn but still decided to join the others at the feast.
She opened her tent and before joining the festivities just stood and watched them all. They were dancing and singing together, the wine was flowing and she smiled brightly at them. She saw Harry and Ron standing around and talking with another man she didn’t know. She wasn’t sure why, but she couldn’t stop herself from walking over to them.
“Hello,” she said brightly as she approached.
“Hi!” Ron exclaimed but Hermione couldn’t help but notice the insignificant nod Harry gave her. She suspected her was cross with her and she didn’t blame him…not after the way she had treated him. “Would you like a glass of wine?” Ron asked and she nodded thankfully as he hurried of to find her one.
“So how do you like our camp?” she asked Harry and the man standing next to him. Harry shrugged and looked away.
“It’s lovely. You are all very hospitable.” The man held out his hand. “My name is Sirius Black,” he paused to pat Harry on the back, “and this is my godson, Harry. He has been living in Diagon Alley as a spy.” Sirius looked up a moment into the crowd of people around the fire and politely excused himself. Harry watched as he went over to talk to a small group.
“I guess we’re both on the same side, then,” Hermione said and looked up at him.
“Seems so,” he answered. He looked down to glance at her face and noticed that her eyes were sparkling in the glow of the fire. “How long have you lived here?”
“Since I left school,” she answered honestly. Harry had so many more questions for her, about her life, the camp, and her mission, but Ron was fast at finding the wine and he soon stuck it in Hermione’s hand.
“I am so glad you are here,” Ron breathed, he quickly became embarrassed by his words and added, “so we know at least one person.”
Hermione laughed at him and answered sweetly, “I’m glad you could both come.” Harry looked at her. He knew that flirting with men was part of her job at the Leaky Cauldron, but he had to wonder if she was like that on a day-to-day basis…or if parts of her work personality had filtered into the rest of her life.
“Do you want to dance?” Ron asked her. Hermione smiled politely and nodded. He grabbed her hand and pulled her towards the others, but she couldn’t stop herself from looking over at Harry, noticing again that he was looking at everyone except her.
Hermione filled her plate with food and sat down on the ground next to some of her old friends. A young man she didn’t know soon asked her up to dance and she gladly accepted. She wanted to celebrate this evening; she knew that the joining of the camps meant that, in reality, one had been attacked. But being united with so many who believed in what she did comforted her. She was glad to know that more people thought that the new order of things was wrong. It also gave her a sense of security, though she knew it was false, knowing that the camp was larger in numbers. She glanced over at Harry and Ron again.
The fire crackled loudly in front of her and she took a sip of her wine. She met Harry’s eyes from across the fire and she knew he must have felt her looking at him. Her face felt hot, but she wasn’t sure if it was Harry or the fire. Someone sat down next to her and she looked up to see Sirius.
“It’s a shame, that such a tragedy has brought us all together,” he said. Hermione had to wonder if he was talking to her or to himself. “I wish you could have seen our camp, it was extraordinary. Very much like this one, actually, but the wine was better,” Sirius joked and raised his glass to Hermione. She smiled kindly and took another sip. He looked up. “Steven, my friend, play us something more festive,” he called out. He stood and held out his hand for Hermione.
“If I may?” he asked and bowed.
“Of course,” she laughed.
The music changed and Sirius spun Hermione like a pro. She giggled loudly and noticed many of the women in the camp looking admiringly at Sirius. After a few minutes, the song changed again.
“Now, my dear, if you don’t mind I think I should grace some of these other women with my presence. Not half of them as pretty as you, of course.” He winked.
“Of course,” she answered and grinned.
He spun once more and she lost her balance and bumped into someone. When she looked up, she noticed it was Harry. Sirius laughed loudly. “My godson will take care of you during the next song.”
She looked up in Harry’s green eyes and felt drunk, she was fairly sure that Sirius knew exactly what he was doing.
“Hi,” she said softly as a whisper. Harry’s heart beat fast; she was so close to him, he was almost holding her in his arms. The soft scent of her hair was teasing his nostrils. He looked up at Sirius’s expectant face a few feet away.
“W-would you like to dance?” he asked. Hermione nodded sheepishly and took his hand. He spun her around rather violently and she faced him so fast that they almost crashed into each other again. Harry put his hand on her hip and they started dancing to the violins and the bagpipe. The drum began beating and Harry took a step closer to her.
“You dance well,” Hermione smiled and he couldn’t help but smile back.
“As do you.”
“I used to dance a lot when I was younger, when I lived as a Muggle.”
Harry cursed the loud music; he wanted to hear about her life as a Muggle and why she decided to join the Wizarding World rather than live a peaceful life, oblivious to the horrors they were currently facing. Most Muggles returned to that life after their training. He couldn’t understand why she hadn’t. They both bowed to each other and then took a step forward as was part of the dance. Their faces were close and their eyes locked. Harry felt her breath against his neck and it made his hairs stand on end. He tried to shake the feeling off.
“How long have you known Dumbledore?” he asked and took her hand.
“Since I found out I was a witch,” she answered.
The song was nearing its end and when it finally became silent Hermione looked hopefully at Harry, hoping he would ask her for another dance. He didn’t, instead he nodded politely before turning around and walking away.
Hermione went to sleep long before the feast was over. She laid in her tent, listening to the soft drumming outside. She was used to it, most nights the activity in the camp lasted until early morning. She could still smell the roasted pig outside and could almost hear the clinking of glasses. She turned to her side and looked into the fire. She didn’t have a cot to sleep on. When she moved into the camp they were hard to get, and she had gotten used to sleeping on the ground. Her floor was covered in thick rich rugs, but she found that she didn’t miss the cot in her own apartment. She looked at the dancing flames and her mind wandered. She had to admit to herself that she was smitten with Harry.
, she thought.
She didn’t know him, she knew so little about him. She had asked around and had heard many stories, but in reality she didn’t know him at all. She knew there was so much more to a person than the stories people told, and she had a feeling that there was more to Harry than most others. She ached to know him.
She pictured his bright green eyes and smiled. She closed her eyes and pictured him before her. His handsome face and his broad shoulders, his perfect physic came before her and now she flushed. She felt like a schoolgirl. She rolled on to her back, wondering what he tasted like; somehow she knew he would be an excellent kisser. She finally fell asleep, but she had many thoughts of Harry before that.