Chapter 1 : Headquarters
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Number Twelve, Grimmauld Place was thick with an electric current of foreboding. Even from Nora’s perspective on the crumbling pavement, the tension emanating from such a dilapidated, gone-to-seed building felt nearly tangible. Half-daydreaming, she extended her hand and waved it through the air as if gauging for Dark Magic.
Dedalus Diggle stole a sideways peek at Nora Prewett. She appeared to be somewhere around twenty-one or twenty-two years old, her dirty blonde hair braided into a messy plait and honey-colored eyes framed with pale eyebrows and somewhat transparent lashes. Draped around her shoulders was a very long, very worn and abused moss-green cloak that quite clearly was tailored for a man’s size and positively overwhelmed the girl’s slight frame. Despite the fact that he himself had suggested she come here, Dedalus was growing more and more concerned by the manic gleam in her eyes and the red feather hat perched on top of her head like a dead rooster. He privately doubted whether she was fit for mingling with people again after roaming alone for five years.
“Fidelius Charms have given me much grievance in the past,” she mused, her gaze still locked on Grimmauld Place. “Death Eaters are always concealing their lairs with the Fidelius and makes it impossible to spy. But being on the inside looking out I suppose it is rather marvelous.”
“Yes, marvelous…” Diggle hesitated slightly before extending his arm toward the door. “Shall we?”
Nora nodded and followed him inside, where he rushed to hook her hat over a troll-leg’s umbrella stand and ushered her down a narrow hall into a long room filled with people. She could barely make out her surroundings as she crammed herself between Diggle and the Auror Kingsley Shacklebolt, who was standing aloof in one corner and conversing with Arthur Weasley in low voices.
“Haven’t you heard the news?” Molly Weasley gushed, embracing her niece. “Harry hasn’t been expelled! Cleared of all charges!”
“That’s certainly good to hear,” she replied. “Would make my job a lot more difficult if he had free reign, eh?”
“Shh,” Molly whispered, her wide brown eyes darting over to the boy who was celebrating with Ron and a bushy-haired girl she didn’t recognize. “He mustn’t know. Don’t mention anything about Order business in front of him; Dumbledore doesn’t think it’s a good idea if he knows too much and I quite agree.” She turned and dragged Nora over to her twin sons engaging in a game of Exploding Snap with Ron. “Fred! George! If you disturb Sirius’s mother again I’m going to wallop the lot of you!” She snatched the contraband from them and stowed it in her apron.
“Mum!” Fred cried. “I just bought that. It’s brand-new!”
Molly’s eyes turned to slits. “What is that in your pocket, Fred?”
The twins exchanged nervous glances before Fred smoothed his expression and un-tucked his shirt to cover a sheaf of parchment sticking out of his pocket. “Nothing. Just a spare bit of parchment.”
“Don’t you lie to me!” their mother yelled, her voice shrill in Nora’s ear. Nora winced and backed out of Molly’s way, disappearing amidst Molly’s furious tangent about an owl-order business the twins had cooked up.
Nora elbowed a gangling, black-haired teenager with a lightning bolt-shaped scar on his forehead and grinned at him. “Impossible not to know you,” she told him genially. “That mug is all over the map these days! Can’t go anywhere without seeing Harry Potter.”
“Are you an Auror as well?” he inquired.
“Ah, no.” Nora plucked a miniature mince pie from a nearby tray and popped it in her mouth. “Been wandering up north for awhile now but decided it would be wise to head back to the old stomping grounds,” she informed him with a wink. “Terrible dementor problems up there, not that you’d have heard of it. The ministry’s keeping everything hushed up.”
Harry glowered. “The ministry is in denial about dementors being beyond their control.” His tone was frustrated. “Dumbledore thinks they’ve joined the Death Eaters.”
“Dumbledore is spot-on, Harry. It’s only a matter of time before Voldemort has collected all of the magical creatures wizards have made to be outcasts and turned them into an exceedingly dangerous army.”
Harry looked at her eagerly. “So is that what Voldemort’s up to? Do you know –”
“Harry, dear, tell us more about your hearing,” Molly Weasley piped up, her sharp gaze flickering over Nora.
Nora understood. “You made Cornelius go to pieces, I expect?”
“Fudge was very disappointed, indeed, that Harry got off so easily,” another voice replied. Nora studied the man who had appeared behind Harry’s left shoulder and was sipping from a jewel-encrusted goblet, his light blue-grey eyes shrewdly examining her. Nora recognized him from millions of pictures – every one of them the same, pasted everywhere for the last couple of years – but his dark hair was cut to shoulder-length now and his face had resumed a more human appearance. In the fortress of Azkaban, this man had looked like a sunken and waxy shell, void of any life on the inside.
“Ah, well, Fudge is at the end of his rope these days,” Nora smiled. “Running out of innocent people he can blame for all the Death Eater activity.”
“You must be the bird,” he smirked, eyes flickering in amusement.
Nora didn’t miss a beat. “And you must be the dog,” she quipped.
Sirius raised an eyebrow. “Grown tired of being a nomad, I presume?”
“I enjoyed being a nomad about as much as you enjoyed being a prisoner,” she told him, watching Ginny and the bushy-haired girl attempt to prise a large ginger cat off of a dead house-elf’s head that had been mounted to the wall. “But sometimes chasing information can be time-consuming and requires me to hide around in different countries for long periods of time. Wonderful decoration you’ve got going on here, by the way. That decapitated head is fetching; I must ask where you bought it.”
Sirius raised the goblet to his lips for another drink and rolled his eyes. “My mother was a troll in her day, if you haven’t noticed.”
“I met her once,” Nora said with a laugh. “When I was around eleven, I think it was. Wouldn’t speak to me because my mother was Muggle-born. Never mind the fact that my father was as pureblood as a wizard can get.”
“I knew your father,” Sirius told her, his expression respectful. “One of the bravest men I’ve ever encountered – him and your uncle both.”
“You talking about the Prewetts?” another man cut in, squeezing between Sirius and Harry, shunting Harry back into the rest of the crowd. His face was friendly and his brown hair peppered with silver, and he stuck out a hand for Nora to shake.
“Remus, this is Gideon’s daughter,” Sirius introduced, gesturing between them. “And Nora, this is Remus Lupin, a refined werewolf with a keen knowledge of the Dark Arts.”
Remus’s face lit up with understanding. “Lenora Prewett!” he exclaimed.
“Nora,” she corrected out of habit.
“My, you look just like your mother,” Remus remarked. “Gideon had a whole head of flaming red hair, always thought you’d turn up the same. But you are definitely Petula Prewett’s girl through and through…all that blonde. How has she been?”
Nora shrugged. “Still like a living ghost. Reckon she’ll never be the same again after what happened to my dad.”
There was an awkward pause. “Petula really went through the wringer,” Remus said softly, gazing about the room. “But you already know that, I’m sure.”
Nora didn’t need reminding. She was well aware of the fact that while Gideon and Fabian Prewett, original members of The Order of the Phoenix, were dueling with five Death Eaters and ultimately murdered, Gideon’s wife Petula Prewett was watching through a crack in the floorboards with her young daughter from below. Nora had been unable to rip her eyes from the scene, trapped in a horrified trance as the figure of her father slashed and whipped his wand through the air. It had seemed impossible that a broad-shouldered, burly giant of a man like her father could ever be defeated. She recalled sitting in his lap as a child and the roar of his laughter rising like thunder on a summer night, echoing all around the now-demolished house on Broadford Street.
Her mother had to watch helplessly as her husband and brother-in-law were killed, because her wand had been destroyed in the blast of a curse the Death Eaters had aimed through the sitting room window. Witches and wizards depend on their wands to interpret magical desires from their thoughts and twist them into realities, and when a wand has been destroyed you are virtually defenseless.
“Everyone sit down, sit down, it’s time for dinner!” Molly hooted, bustling between people while several dishes of food floated over their heads, settling in a neat line on the scrubbed wooden table that ran the length of the room.
Nora was starving and hastened for a chair. Sirius Black sat down across from her and a dingy little man by the name of Mundungus Fletcher was at her right, the front of his robes suspiciously bulging with what looked like goblets. And on her left was…
“Tonks!” she cried.
Nymphadora Tonks’s eyes flitted from brown to green to yellow and then back to their original color, a quirk that usually occurred when she was surprised. "Wotcher Nora, don't you look great! Merlin’s beard, it’s been a century!”
Nora laughed. “Almost five years in the flesh, but I’ve written! You, on the other hand, are a very poor correspondent. And don’t give me that tosh about owls being slow. I’ve got the experience to prove it.” She grinned and made a hooting sound.
Tonks adopted a grim expression, which contrasted starkly with the mop of hot-pink hair on top of her head. Nymphadora Tonks and Nora Prewett were close friends in their Hogwarts days and Nora knew she was a Metamorphmagus, meaning that she could change her appearance at will.
“Been working like a house-elf with Mad-Eye since I qualified,” she informed her, glancing at the wizened old Auror at the end of the long table. He appeared to be concentrating on his steak and kidney pudding, but that enlarged magical eye of his was whizzing amongst the guests and had come to an abrupt halt on Tonks after his name was mentioned. “I’m younger than the other Aurors and he’s trying to get me up to scratch. Having less practice in the field than the others is a huge disadvantage in dark times like these. Death Eaters been giving me a run for my knuts left and right.”
Nora laughed, almost spraying pumpkin juice through her nose. “Sounds like you’ve been busy on the home front, then. Can’t say that I’ve had it much easier abroad. Did you hear about that escaped dragon, by any chance?”
“The Brazilian Blueback?” Tonks wondered, chewing on a piece of bread. “Yeah, I read about that in the Daily Prophet. The Committee for the Disposal of Magical Creatures has been pushing for that particular breed’s extinction. Too dangerous, they say. Their roar can be heard for five hundred kilometers in every direction and Muggles are always reporting the strange noise.”
“The work of Walden Macnair, ironically,” Nora replied. Macnair was a Death Eater who moonlighted as an executioner for the Committee for the Disposal of Magical Creatures. “Saw him darting away from where they had the dragon chained up, looking mighty pleased with himself. Disapparated before I could get at him.”
“Why would Macnair be wasting his time unleashing dragons?” Tonks questioned, her dark eyes puzzled.
“To make a distraction,” Nora stated simply. “I’m more worried about what they’re trying to cover up than about a Brazilian Blueback, personally. Traced it back to Malfoy’s orders – got people doing his dirty work for him so that he can sit in Fudge’s pocket unblemished.”
“Sounds like classic Malfoy,” Sirius commented from across them. He had not touched his food and appeared to have been following Tonks and Nora’s conversation with rapt attention. “Fudge is out cavorting with Voldemort’s mates while I’m shut up in here because the Death Eaters pin the blame on me for their murdering sprees.” His jaw was clenched, pale eyes clouded with bitterness.
“Wish I could be cavorting with Voldemort’s mates,” Nora said, momentarily looking just as bitter as Sirius. “I’d like to Crucio a thing or two.”
“If you ever catch up to them, spare Pettigrew for me, will you?” Sirius requested. “I want to kill that rat myself. And if the Dark Lord wouldn’t mind stepping in, I’d love to flex my wand skills on him just once.”
Mundungus gave a little spasm, making the table quake. Tonks seized her drink just in time before it spilled and peered around Nora to see him. “What's up, Dung?”
“All this business o’ You-Know-Who an’ his lot!” he spat, heaving a great shudder. “Talkin’ bout bloody goin’ after em yourselves like a bunch o’ bleedin’ idiots.”
“So very pessimistic,” Nora murmured with a slip of a smile. “Mundungus, don’t you know that Rowle is personally conducting a search for you? Heard at a pub in Hogsmeade last week that you made off with some valuables of his and then sold them to a slew of Muggles. Reckons you Confunded his nephew right out of a Nimbus.”
“Did not! Paid well for it too, I tell you! Little bloke sold it to me fair and square.” His fingers were trembling, however, when he reached across the table to scoop some more custard onto his plate.
“You were in Hogsmeade last week?” Tonks asked, backpedaling. “How long have you been in the area? I got the impression you’ve just come in.”
“Diggle found me at Molly’s Auntie Muriel’s house, where I’ve been for a week or two, and we both agreed that I have certain traits that could be of service to the Order,” Nora responded. “Been looking for somewhere else to live but flats are running scarce in Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade both. Witches and wizards from the countryside have been flocking in, wanting to be nearer to friends and sources of information – the ones who are smart and don’t read The Daily Prophet, that is.”
Tonks snorted. “Load of rubbish.”
Nora shrugged. “So it’s been ruddy hell living with that old bat but I can’t see other options, and for the time being I need to stick around the wizarding community. But if Muriel tells me one more time that my hair is a tangled mess and needs some straightening potion, I’m going to chuck her into one of those homes Muggle people put their elderly relatives.”
“What about staying at Molly’s?” Tonks suggested. “She’d love to have you.”
“She offered, of course,” Nora replied with a sigh. Molly Weasley was Fabian and Gideon Prewett’s little sister, and a very doting aunt. After Nora’s father had been killed and her mother sent to St. Mungo's for a zombie-like disposition, Molly had taken it upon herself to take care of her niece. It was fun living with the Weasleys when she was a child because Charlie was near her age, and Bill taught her all sorts of things, like simple spells and how to fly on a broom.
Percy was always a bit of a stick in the mud and they never got along very well, but the twins were a blast. And then with Ron, and Ginny…they were cramped for room and Nora decided it was time to head home and live in an empty house alone. After she’d left Hogwarts at the end of her seventh year, she turned her back on the house on Broadford Street forever (it had since been bulldozed by the Muggles), and she went off in search of information about Voldemort while her mother wasted away in St. Mungo’s. Her goal for the past few years was to track the movements of any who had ever been loyal to Voldemort – a solo mission, so that one day she could avenge her father and uncle.
“Molly’s gone out of her way to care for me since I was seven years old,” Nora reminded Tonks. “I won’t be a burden on her family anymore.”
After dinner, Fred, George, Ron, Harry, and the girl Nora now knew to be Hermione Granger went upstairs to chat privately while Remus and Arthur went down the hall to investigate what seemed to be a ghoul lurking between pipes in the wall behind a cabinet. Percy was quite noticeably missing from their number; he had taken the Ministry’s side and shunned his family, believing them all mad that they believed Voldemort had returned.
Mundungus, Dedalus Diggle, Kingsley, Mad-Eye, and Tonks were gathering their cloaks in the hall, along with Hestia Jones and Emmeline Vance, who Nora knew well. Nora made to join them and lifted her red feather hat from its hook when Molly touched her arm. “What are you doing, dear?” she asked quizzically.
Nora raised her eyebrows in surprise. “Going back to Muriel’s, of course. The meeting is over and everyone’s leaving.”
Molly pursed her lips. “Of course you’re staying, Lenora. The rest of the Order – Kingsley and Tonks especially – have got to leave because they’re putting up the front that they’re not mixing with Dumbledore’s lot. And the others have got other places to be…but my family and Harry and Hermione are all staying here until the start of term. You’re welcome to stay as well.”
Nora glanced uncertainly at Sirius, who was leaning against the wall in the dark hallway and watching them, barely more than a shadow. She wondered what Sirius thought about Molly inviting others to stay at his house. “Oh, I don’t know, Molly…”
“Don’t be absurd, Nora,” Molly chided. “This is headquarters. You’re not going to get any closer to sources of information than here, and I know you came back to Britain for the sole purpose of fighting Voldemort’s regime with us.”
Sirius said nothing, so Nora considered it thoughtfully. It would be so convenient to be here for a couple more weeks, right in the center of things, and Nora could not deny that the thirst for knowledge and vengeance had been her primary fixation since leaving Hogwarts. “If Sirius doesn’t mind, I think that would be an excellent idea,” she decided.
Sirius nodded curtly, as if to say, “Might as well,” and disappeared.
As it turned out, Headquarters became somewhat disappointing in the area of Order information. Fred and George had invented something called Extendable Ears and Alastor Moody could see right through the ceiling with his magical eye that their conversations were almost always being monitored with Extendables. Indeed, the Hogwarts students were hell-bent on spying and consequently preventing the Order from revealing much to each other.
There were whispers in the kitchen from time to time in the middle of the night and once or twice Dumbledore brushed by, always whipping out of sight like a ghost if Harry appeared.
“There is no secrecy here with Hogwarts students,” Remus lamented one morning. “Harry’s too curious for his own good and we’re just going to have to wait until school begins to really start digging, maybe try to break into the Department of Mysteries if it comes to that.”
“But once they’re on the train, everyone else is leaving,” Sirius interrupted blandly, clearly not looking forward to being alone in Grimmauld Place with only Kreacher and a restless hippogriff for company. “Molly and Arthur will go back to the Burrow and the others will go their own ways. How will we plan?”
Remus ran a hand through his greying hair, looking much older than his age. “The Floo network is being watched and owls are intercepted constantly. We really cannot afford to place our trust in owl post anymore, even if it were in code.”
“We could always have Prewett here deliver our mail,” Tonks had said with a wink, elbowing Nora in the ribs. “I’m sure she wouldn’t fowl it up.”
Nora rolled her eyes and Remus continued as though he hadn’t heard. “I suppose we’ll all have to just meet here at Headquarters once or twice a week to relay what we know and sort shifts.”
Sirius stared at the fire, glowering. No doubt he was thinking about the frustrations the Ministry was causing by monitoring the Floo Network. “This is going to be a pain,” he said in a dark tone.
But on a social level, Nora found the situation absolutely delightful. The last time she had been surrounded by friends and family, she had still been a student. And when it all came down to it and the train was leaving for Hogwarts the next morning and Molly was busy packing everyone’s trunks, Nora was bitterly mourning the end of the most enjoyable short span of time she’d had in years. Sirius was also in a sour mood and spent long hours shut up in his mother’s room with Buckbeak the hippogriff, wishing to avoid people’s conversations about their lives outside Grimmauld Place.
Nora herself didn’t have much to look forward to except for watching over Harry Potter every now and again while he was at Hogwarts. Her being an unregistered animagus in the form of an owl was enormously beneficial for the order. In this disguise, she could mix with the wizarding world unnoticed and could fly into all sorts of nooks and crannies to watch with her keen eyesight and listen. She could fly over bodies of water and sleep high in a tree unseen.
Dumbledore especially was eager to send her out on missions, after getting over the disapproval of learning her history of being an unregistered Animagus while still at Hogwarts. Nora, however, wasn’t too excited about living life as an owl again, even for short periods of time. Up until the beginning of July, she had been a white-and grey owl with large amber eyes for at least two solid years. Eating mice was certainly not one of her favorite pastimes.
“I’ll bet you can’t wait to get out of here, either,” Sirius told Nora moodily that evening. Molly could be heard from above, giving orders to her children and reminding Ron about packing the broom he’d just gotten for becoming a prefect, frequently waking up the portrait of Sirius’s mother behind its tapestry and causing her to shriek profanities. Nora had been sitting cross-legged on the drawing room floor, her favorite room now that it had been cleaned of doxies and other undesirable creatures, reading a book when Sirius’s figure suddenly lingered in the doorway.
“Are you kidding?” Nora countered, looking at him like he was mad. “I’ve been dreading it. Muriel is a nightmare and I haven’t been around people I’ve actually enjoyed in far too long. I wish the start of term could be months from now instead of tomorrow.”
Sirius raised his eyebrows, his handsome features etched with shock. “This place is like a prison,” he said in a sullen voice, gesturing around the room with his wand. “I spent twelve years in Azkaban just to live in another prison. I’m not free. No one is free when they’re stuck here and I don’t blame them for wanting to scamper.”
“I’ve really loved it,” Nora confided honestly. “And I’m sorry to go.”
Sirius studied her with his intelligent grey eyes for a long moment, and his expression softened somewhat. “You could stay, of course.”
Nora stared at him. “Stay?”
Sirius clasped his hands behind his back and roamed about the room, mulling things over in his mind. “You could live here, if you like. Until you find a place of your own….or….indefinitely, permanently, whatever you want.”
“Are you serious?” Nora asked cautiously. “You don’t think I would get in your way too much?”
“I am always Sirius,” he retorted with a smile, amused with his own wordplay. “And Grimmauld Place has been an open door for months. I don’t see how another permanent resident could make it less functional. And I must confess that I am less than fond of being alone here with that detestable elf.” He made a face.
Nora closed her book and stood up, thinking about the comfort of her newly acquired bedroom, the privacy and shelter of the Fidelius Charm, the company of other humans and the convenience of living at the Headquarters for the Order of the Phoenix. “I would love to live here,” she told him, and he grinned in response.
“Well then, Lenora Prewett,” he said, spirits lifting considerably. “Welcome to Number Twelve, Grimmauld Place.”
Okay, so adding this in almost two years after I wrote this story - Curious Happenings at Number Twelve was my very first foray into fanfiction. I feel it necessary to warn you that since I wrote this before I became a little more seasoned in both writing and reading in the fan fic world, it's riddled with some cliches and it's got a few cheesy/contrived/Mary Sue-ish areas that could be significantly improved upon. I have plans to make some serious edits soon. With that said, keep an open mind as you continue! And here's to hoping that you enjoy bad angst and fail sexual tension!
And it goes without saying that I am not the brilliant J.K. Rowling and everything you already recognize belongs to her.
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