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Chapter 11 - The Order
“Please come in and make yourself comfortable.” Minerva had said those words too many times to count, but each time they left her lips it was with the utmost sincerity. Never had she, nor would she, offer someone the comfort of her home without wishing them just that.
She closed the heavy door as Dorcas stepped inside. The young woman flicked her wand with a quick snap of the wrist, sending her cloak onto the rack before making her well accustomed way into the dim room. Minerva didn’t immediately follow, instead she whispered a few more enchantments over the door. There was never a thing wrong with extra precautions.
She was glad to offer her small London home as a meeting place for the Order. The house did nothing but sit there and collect dust, it might as well be put to use now and again. She’d been so overzealous as a girl — buying the cottage during her time at the Ministry had seemed nothing but sensible.
The size wasn’t ideal for their meetings, but it was bearable. Hardly a soul knew she owned the home, making it their safest option.
She turned from the door and made her way to the long table that took up the majority of the room, where everyone was already in place. She lit a few extra lamps while she walked to her chair next to Albus’s, giving the room enough light to easily make out one another’s expressions.
“Edgar, is it a bit soon to be up and about?” she asked, taking a seat across from the man.
“It’s been two weeks. I can’t sit in that house forever. Besides, I barely have a scratch left.” As Edgar’s deep voice filled the musty room, the rest of the group seemed to hush in unison, leaving nothing but the sound of the wind twisting and blowing outside.
“We’re all extremely pleased that you’re recovering nicely,” Albus answered with a smile before clapping his hands together. “Now, let’s dive in, shall we?”
“Edgar,” Minerva began, running her finger down a piece of parchment and stopping on the first underlined section. “Your daughters and wife have been relocated to a family member’s home in Belgium?”
“My aunts home, mother’s sister, yes. She was extremely close to my mum, and wants to do whatever she can to help.”
“And Alastor accompanied you on the journey to set up all possible safety precautions?” Minerva continued.
A deep grunt came from the other side of Albus, signaling the gruff looking Auror’s confirmation.
“And the Portkey, it was registered under a false name and unable to be traced by the ministry?” She glanced down the table as Elphias Doge, a small man who was nearing a hundred and still retained his position of Head of the Department of Magical Transportation, nodded at her.
“We have protection on Esther. Amelia is, of course, in the safety of Hogwarts,” Albus added as he glanced down at Minerva’s list.
“The Christening was too risky. We got lucky with the number of people that walked out of there alive,” Edgar admitted to the table. “If it wasn’t for Augusta I’d have probably lost more of my family that day.”
“Her boy gave Rodolphus a proper stunning if I’ve ever seen one. I don’t think he even knows he’s the one that cast the curse. Too mixed up with the commotion and trying to keep eyes out for his mother,” Fabian, the older of the Prewett twins and one of the undercover guests as the Christening, said through a gulp of tea.
To the table’s surprise, Alastor let out a deep laugh followed by a quick slam of his fist onto the wooden table. “What did I tell you, Albus?”
“Can someone fill us in on the joke?” Dorcas interrupted from the other end of the table.
Minerva was pleased to note that the meek girl she’d taught for seven years had nothing but confidence in her voice. Watching them grow was always the best part of her job, then if she was lucky enough to know them after they reached adulthood…
“Augusta’s boy, Frank Longbottom, he’ll make a damn fine Auror. Him and that brown haired thing both.”
“If you’re referring to one of my students as that brown haired thing, Mr. Moody—”
“Oh you know what brown haired thing I’m talking about, Minerva. Alice Christopherson, daughter of Able and Caitleen.” His magical eye spun around as he waited for the others to recognize the names of the pureblood couple “Well, she’s not a quivering, spineless squid like her parents. The girl cursed Evan Rosier, Thatcher’s boy and budding Death Eater, nonverbally from across the room. Set him straight, she did. He got a bit too mouthy while I was lecturing at Hogwarts a few weeks ago.”
“Now Alastor, Able and Caitleen are fine people. They are simply trying to stay out of the war, not unlike the majority of our country.”
“And the majority of our country is why this war isn’t close to ending, Albus!” Moody growled before letting out a sigh and reining himself back in. “Anyway, those two are just what the department needs. Good people that won’t be turning away from a fight anytime soon.”
“So, did yer talk to em ‘bout their… future plans?” Hagrid asked from his large chair at the end of the table, causing a sly smile to play across Alastor’s face.
“Well now, I’m not a man to meddle-” a chorus of chuckles spread through the table at Alastor’s words, causing him to speak up a bit louder, “but I made it clear that if they apply, I’ll mentor them personally.”
“You’d meddle in anything if it brought that department someone you think is worthy of mentoring. So, how did they take it?” Marlene McKinnon, a short brunette who always seemed to be smiling, asked from her seat next to Dorcas. She’d just graduated last June, and Minerva knew that she was close enough with Frank and Alice to consider them friends.
“The girl, damn spit fire. Composed herself, of course. Could barely tell if she thought my offer was brilliant, or just words from an old nutter. But her eyes, she couldn’t do anything to hide the excitement in those. Longbottom, on the other hand… he barely blinked. Holds himself better than half the Aurors in my department.” Moody reached down and picked up his mug, taking a large swallow before continuing.
“I need them in the training program so we can get their applications through and approved the day after they graduate. I have just enough left in the Ministry account to let one in without payment, but only one. I know Augusta won’t be able to cover it, but the Christophersons wouldn’t let a single sickle get squeezed from them for the likes of this war. I laid out the facts for the two of them, told them to owl me by Halloween and let me know where we go from there. I haven’t heard from ‘em yet, but they still have a over a week.”
“And if you don’t object to my asking,” Minerva interrupted as a loose strand dangled from her bun, “how is Mr. Black coming along in his training? He’s just scored the highest in my class for our most recent transfiguration exam, beat Miss Evans by a point.” Minerva couldn’t hide the pride in her voice. She’d been handed a terribly talented bunch of Gryffindors six, nearly seven, years ago, and sometimes she just couldn’t resist bragging about them.
Alastor’s eyes filled with a new kind of humor as he glanced up from his drink over at Minerva. “I had a few Auror Trainees in for our last class to give Black and the other one I’m working with a fair duel.” He paused and pulled a cigar from his robes, lighting it slowly and letting the smoke fall from his lips in a puff. “Black had him beat before the man even knew what was happening. Damn quick, smarter than the most. But we all know where he’ll end up.”
“Alastor, not again,” Elphias interrupted. “This turned into an hours long debate last meeting. Shall we continue in order to avoid that occurring at tonight’s affair?”
“I’m afraid I’d like to dwell on the subject for only a moment longer,” Albus interrupted as he again glanced down at Minerva’s list.
“Minerva and I have watched these students grow from children to adults in what seems like the blink of an eye. The time to make a decision is coming upon them. After Alastor’s most recent discussion with William Potter regarding the infiltration in the Auror office, I think it’s safe to assume James Potter is not planning to follow that path. And I also feel confident that Mr. Potter’s decision on what to pursue after Hogwarts will influence the decisions of his friends. Mr. Lupin has already met with me about his possible options after schooling with his condition. The fact is, we are getting closer to the end of their schooling, thus closer to needing to finalize a decision.”
“Albus,” Minerva spoke, trying to keep the strain from her voice. “They’re still just children. Let them enjoy their last year, it’s the least we can do.”
“Ah, my dear Minerva, they know far too much to be just children. I’m not suggesting we coerce them into joining our Order just now, but if there’s ever a group of people who desire to help in what they believe is right, it’s these students. I don’t wish to bring them anymore strife then this war already has, but the time is coming—”
“Let them enjoy their last year,” Minerva said again with more edge to her voice. “You know as well as I do the second that we speak with them about this, they’ll be willing. They don’t need to know until they graduate.”
Gideon cleared his voice from down the table, bringing all eyes to him.
“We have plenty of meetings to debate this. For now, let’s just try to keep our possible recruits organized. So, whether or not we wait until after they graduate, let’s get the Hogwarts students on the list.” He dipped a quill into a small ink pot and positioned it above his own parchment. “Names and strengths,” he added, nodding his head toward Albus.
“James Potter. Defensive spells, offensive as well. Patience. He doesn’t give up easily, not if his courtship of Miss Evans is any indication,” Albus let a small smile fill his gentle blue eyes. “Sirius Black. He has a temper, one that would be both an asset to us and a danger. His Defense Against the Dark Arts marks are some of the highest I’ve ever seen. He learned a great deal when he was still living with his family, most of it is not pleasant, but helpful nevertheless. He has always had a very special way with magical creatures, as well.
“Remus Lupin. One of the strongest all around students Hogwarts has. He’d be the last person to let someone down. And as terrible as his condition is, it could be of use. Petter Pettigrew. He soaks things up in fierce and quick manner, anything he lacks he’ll work harder to make up in. And he’s ever the observer, picking up details most don’t.
“Lily Evans. Well, we all know there’s a reason she’s labeled the brightest witch Hogwarts has seen since Minerva herself. In all the time I’ve known her, her moral compass hasn’t ever threatened to shake. She’s truly a remarkable young lady. Alice Christopherson and Frank Longbottom, we’ve already discussed their qualifications. Alexander Jasper, a Ravenclaw prefect…”
Minerva let her thoughts wander as Albus listed a few more seventh year students that would strengthen their cause. She believed in what they were doing, more than she believed in just about anything. But out of the eleven students they’d be speaking with at some point, seven of those were hers. Hers.
The children that had sat on the stool to be sorted years ago. She knew why so many of the possible recruits were from her House, their hearts were of the brave. But that didn’t make it easier.
James made his way along the path as the afternoon sun drenched the grounds.
It wasn’t often he wanted to be alone. He’d grown up an only child. A very loved only child, but still he appreciated having the voices of his friends surrounding him, having Sirius to turn to and joke with. This afternoon he wasn’t good company for anyone.
They’d held the first N.E.W.T revision session last night. It was open to any seventh years who wanted to join, and it actually went well. Chaotic, but decent. Lily managed to get everyone to a certain table while he started assigning subjects for each group, so after about half an hour of getting things organized, it ran smoothly.
But it was different. The whole evening wasn’t how it should have been.
A few weeks ago, before the Bones attack, all the students there would have been joking around during the revision. But now, instead of laughing between quizzing, they were all exchanging information in hushed tones. So and so’s parents heard this,
and someone or other saw that…
it didn’t help that there’d been four more attacks on wizarding families in the last three weeks.
One of the witches who wrote the Muggle Lifestyles article in a gossip magazine was missing, and the magazine stopped printing that article the very next day. He wouldn’t have even noticed, but Margaret pointed it out at breakfast on Tuesday morning.
James continued to walk along the path, kicking a stray stone down the curve of the grass. His thoughts didn’t usually get the best of him like they were that afternoon. For some reason he just couldn’t shake the piss poor attitude.
Sirius’s was looking over Belle’s Herbology essay in the common room; she still had trouble distinguishing between a few of the magical and muggle fungi. Considering she’d spent six years learning about completely different plants, the ones that were native to France, he imagined it was a pain to have to relearn them.
Peter was hanging out with them as well, finishing his Charms assignment. Lily and Remus were in Arithmancy. And he.. he wasn’t anywhere. He didn’t even want to be anywhere.
He didn’t want to study. He didn’t want to hang out in the common room with some of the other Gryffindors. Quidditch Practice wasn’t until six o’clock that evening. It was tempting to get some solo flying in, but there was only an hour until he needed to be in the dungeons for Potions and that didn’t give him enough time.
He stopped along the path to pull his robes tighter. At least he’d thought to grab his heavier cloak… Scotland in late October wasn’t freezing, but it wasn’t as toasty as could be, either.
But the end of October was one of his favorite months, because it meant that it was almost the start of November, which meant the first Quidditch match. He needed to owl his mum and dad soon to tell them what time it started. It was the fist time they’d be able to come to one; only seventh years were allowed to have their family members attend.
His parents had seen him play before, but not really. When he’d gotten on the team his second year, they’d purchased a bit of land outside London and set up a practice pitch for him, putting up all the necessary muggle repelling charms. But watching him play around with his friends wasn’t anything like watching an actual match, and he was really excited that they’d be there. They were only allowed to stay for the duration of the game, then they had to be back in Hogsmeade by five o’clock, when the protective spells around Hogwarts resealed. But that didn’t matter, because at least they’d be able to watch him win. It was only one week and one day away. Not even the tension of the war could take that away from him.
James neared the lake, looking up when he heard the sound of a rock being thrown into the black water. Without even realizing it, his pace quickened and his moody expression broke into a smile, one big enough to have the corners of his eyes crinkling up.
He nearly ran the remaining distance to the shores of the Black Lake, only to slow down and take a few breaths before closing the gap between them. “Hey you, do I need to write you up for skiving class?”
“I’d like to see you try,” Lily said as she turned her head to glance at him. “Besides, I’m not skiving. Professor Ashdown is ill so we were just given work to complete before Monday’s lesson.
James felt himself try to form a response, the words clicking around in his brain, but for some reason nothing would come out. Instead of trying to force them, he turned his body toward Lily’s and pulled her into a hug.
Maybe she could tell that was all he wanted. Maybe they’d both just grown more comfortable around each other and were able to ignore the bits of energy that seemed to charge between them… for whatever reason, Lily didn’t laugh and playfully push him away like he’d expected. Instead, she wrapped her willowy arms around his back and relaxed her head onto his chest.
He held their hug for another moment, letting the sweet scent that always hovered around her capture him for a few seconds longer. Her hair tickled his chin, and made his face light up even more.
“What was that for?” she asked, rotating her body just enough to slip out of the hug, but still sharing one another’s space.
“I just needed it, I guess.” If he’d thought about how embarrassing that answer might be, he probably wouldn’t have said it. But he was happy he did, because it seemed to relax Lily again.
“I did too. It’s a lot, isn’t it?” She could have been referring to the studying, to the work they had to do as Heads, anything really. But they both knew she wasn’t.
“Yeah. It is a lot. I keep waiting for.. I don’t know what I’m waiting for.” James thought about what he was going to say next. Would it make him sound cold? Heartless? He didn’t know, but he was going to find out. “You know how people always say things get worse before they get better? I want them to get worse. I don’t want people to keep getting hurt or anything, but I just want things to reach their boiling point so then they can start to get better.”
“Oh God,” Lily said as she let out a sigh. “That’s just what I’ve been thinking. I felt horrible for wanting things to get worse, and it’s not exactly that. I just know what you mean. Something just needs to happen
so it can be over and done with. I thought it was kind of silly before, when they called it the Wizarding War in the Daily Prophet, now I realized how stupid I was. Because that’s exactly what it is.”
“Do you get… does being muggle born…” James couldn’t figure out how to ask her if being a muggle born scared her. He’d never really thought about it before, because she was just Lily.
“Do I get scared?” She lowered herself to the chilly ground, pulling her cloak tight as she spoke. “Being a muggle born doesn’t really scare me. I think I’m just as frightened about the whole thing as everyone else. Although, part of me is relieved I don’t have to worry about my family turning up on the list of recent attacks.”
James reached over and pulled her hand to his. That same energy was already back and coursing through the air between them, but he was careful to ignore it. He’d made it clear that, until she said otherwise, they’d be just friends. That didn’t mean friends couldn’t hold hands. Not that he was planning on skipping down the halls holding Peter’s hand or anything.. but that was different. Peter’s hands weren’t soft and small like Lily’s.
“Speaking of your family, did you want me to send Beuwulf back to Petunia’s to see if she wants to send a letter?”
Lily sighed again, although this one was void of the relief she’d had earlier. Her fingers tightened just a fraction around his, probably involuntarily, but that didn’t stop it from making his stomach ache just a bit more.
“Yeah, I suppose so. I sent the letter weeks ago, and maybe she didn’t realize that she’d need to ask Beowulf to stay if she wanted to send one back. Would he mind?”
“No, course not. I have to send a letter to my mum and dad, anyway.”
“James?” Lily asked, looking even more serious. “The letter they sent you a while ago, about Christmas and stuff.. did they really mean it?”
James tried to hold back the laugh, but he couldn’t. Maybe because he’d been so moody for the last few hours, but it came out too quickly to stop.
Lily’s face stayed straight as she stared into him, clearly not seeing what he found humorous.
“You’ve met my parents, right Lily? You know, those people that barely left you alone for a second while you were staying with us? The ones that said only a thousand times how it was nice to have a girl around?”
Lily’s straight face finally broke and her laugh met James’s. He didn’t realize she’d thought their desire for her to join them over the Holidays was anything but sincere.
James’s thoughts wrapped around what Christmas time would be like. When Lily had stayed with them over the summer, the circumstances were too terrible to think about much of anything.
But this time? When she was just sleeping a room away from him? A room that didn’t involve a million security measures like the Heads’ Quarters. When she wasn’t in school uniform and robes, but those tracksuit bottoms or the jeans that showed what a nice arse she had.. Damn, this wasn’t going to be easy. He wondered if any of his mates knew some kind of spell to help with the issue of getting… excited… at the wrong time.
“James?” Her voice broke through his very inappropriate mental image, and for half a second he was sure that she could read his thoughts.
“I said that we’d better head to Potions.”
“Er, right,” James muttered as he mentally shooed his thoughts away. He bent down and picked Lily’s rucksack up from the grass.
“You can carry it, I know. I want to.” James interrupted, amused by her predictability. Before she could argue, he began making his way up the hill and toward the path that would lead into the castle.
Just a few minutes ago he’d wanted nothing more than a bit of quiet and a good sulking. Now he could barely stop from grinning. Funny how someone could do that to you.
Lily caught up to him and as they fell into a comfortable silence, James couldn’t help but think about one of his dad’s favorite sayings. It’s all about the girl.
Years ago when James asked his dad why he shaved every morning, William had simply said because Olivia liked it.
When he’d asked why they always went to the Ministry’s biannual fundraiser, even though his dad hated it, he’d always replied, ‘because your mum likes it.’ And for the first time, James began to understand just what that meant. It’s all about the girl.
Just as James and Lily entered through the large double doors, a voice called to them from across the hall. “Oi, James, Lily! Over here!”
They rushed forward to catch up with their friends, who were standing off to the side of the staircase that lead into the dungeons.
“Where’s Alice?” Lily asked as they all fell into an easy pace. James noticed that Belle was a bit more smiley than usual, he’d have to find out if Sirius finally grew some bollocks and made a move.
“She’s angry at me,” Frank answered with a shrug. “I told her I’m not doing the training program, since Mr. Moody can only cover the payment for one student. It should be her. I also told her that I’m going to owl Moody tonight and decline his offer, and she’s pretty irritated about it. You know how she is, can’t stand when people see her angry.”
Just as James was about to say that he bet they could figure something out, maybe the school had a fund or something, Sirius spoke up. “Oh, I forgot to mention that I had a solution to that. You guys know I’ve never been good at following the rules,” Sirius smirked at his own statement before he continued. “And the more I think about it, I figure I’m not the best person for an Auror position. Especially if the infiltration lasts. I’m rubbish at trying to hold my tongue. I spoke to Moody on Saturday, told him it was my last lesson, and that one of you will be taking my place. Next lesson is November twelfth at ten.”
James knew it was silly, but he felt a certain amount of pride in his best mate just then.
“Ah Sirius, you know I couldn’t let you do that,” Frank began before Sirius cut him off.
“Too late, it’s done. You better be a bloody good Auror, though. Don’t make me regret it,” he joked, then quickly turned the conversation to Hogsmeade the following day.
They finished their decent to the dungeons, and just as the group shuffled through the door into the Potions classroom, James grabbed the sleeve of Sirius’s robes.
They stepped back a bit from the door to get out of the throng of students entering.
“You know,” James began, glancing around to make sure they wouldn’t be overheard. “My mum’s offered to pay yours a visit if you want. It wouldn’t be easy, but I’m sure she could get your inheritance from the old bat, then you could still take the class.”
“Well, seeing your mum take on Walburga would be fairly brilliant, but I meant what I said. You know I want to do something to help all this, but this can’t be it. Remember I told you after your practice last Saturday that someone was at the lesson watching us?”
James nodded as Sirius pulled out a torn off piece of the Daily Prophet from that morning’s edition. “I started to this to you all at breakfast, but then everyone was talking about Hogsmeade and I didn’t want to ruin the mood.” He handed it over to James, who glanced at the picture of a pale man with a wide, scrunchy face.
Under the picture was an article that read:
Cornelius Fudge, Junior Assistant to the Minister, has been assigned by Minister Yang-gae Tanaka to oversee all training and recruiting done by Alastor Moody, Head of the Auror Office, and Bartemius Crouch, Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement. It came as a surprise that Minister Tanaka didn’t assign her Senior Undersecretary, Millicent Bagnold, to the position. Though we don’t have her on the record stating this, it’s thought that Ms. Bagnold disagrees with Minister Tanaka’s involvement. Neither Moody nor Crouch have commented. The exact reasoning for this change has yet to be clarified.
“It’s not just the Auror office. It’s the entire bloody Ministry,” James whispered as he glanced up at Sirius. “So if an Auror or Law Official even puts a toe out of line, they’ll get sacked.”
“Exactly. Alice and Frank know how to play nice, but still do what they need. Remember when we had that fifth year Defence teacher that failed everyone on nearly all the exams? The only reason our group passed was because those two somehow made him like us enough to stop taking points off for every tiny thing. They’re good at handling tough people. I’m not.”
James turned to see Slughorn standing at the door a few feet down from them. He quickly shoved the article into his own robe pocket, and covered his strained expression with a casual one.
“Sorry professor,” both boys muttered as they neared the open door.
“Not to worry, not to worry. Gives me the opportunity to deliver you both these.” The plump man pulled out two small, green envelopes from his robe pockets, thrusting one into the hands of each student before ushering them in and shutting the door behind them.
“You think he’d take the hint,” James whispered as they made their way toward the back of the class to sit beside Remus, Peter, and Frank. “We haven’t gone to a single meeting since he started inviting us.”
“And that was fifth year,” Sirius added, opening his envelope. “Well, this is easy enough. He’s having a late tea after the Halloween feast. So, do you want to tell him that we’ll be running around with a werewolf that night, or shall I?”
James held back a laugh as Remus elbowed Sirius in the side.
“Good afternoon class. Let’s begin where we left on Wednesday. As you remember, we started discussing the properties of a Fever Potion. Does anyone remember exactly what it’s used for?”
A sea of hands shot in the air.
“Mr. Rukin,” Slughorn said, pointing at Alrek.
“He hasn’t tried to ask Lily out or anything lately has he?” Peter asked James in a hushed tone even though the girls were at the front of the room, well out of earshot.
James began answering, then stopped when Alrek’s voice filled the room.
“The Fever Potion is used to raise the temperature of the body during emergencies so you can be vithstanding extreme cold. However, it isn’t to be used for more than twelve hours at a time. And people can only be taking it vunce every three months or you risk killing too much of your body’s necessary bacteria.”
“Excellent, five points to Ravenclaw.”
“I don’t think so,” James started once the Professor was distracted again. “Maybe he really did just want someone to show him around?” he added with a shrug.
The group stood up as Professor Slughorn gave them all the okay to collect their ingredients.
“I think you spoke too soon, mate,” Frank said, clapping James on the back as they walked toward the front of the room, where Alrek was already standing next to Lily.
They were a few rows back, but his loud voice was easy to hear even from their position. “I vas vondering if you vould vant to be attending Hogsmeade with me tomorrow?”
“Excuse me there,” Sirius said in a much deeper tone than usual, pushing past the few Ravenclaws that were separating them from Alrek and Lily.
“Sirius,” Remus hissed under his breath. James smirked, knowing that whatever Sirius was about to do on his behalf, it wouldn’t be the greatest idea.
“Couldn’t help but overhear you asking our Lily here out. Sorry to tell you that she already has plans with James.”
James was thankful he rarely blushed. Now he needed to do damage control. He couldn’t act immature about this bloke fancying Lily, it would just annoy her. So he needed to go about this a different way.
“Thanks, Sirius,” James said, coming up with an idea that would make Durmstrang back off without making himself look like a prick.
“But actually, we’re all going together. You’re welcome to join us.” There,
James thought. Now he was the nice guy for inviting him, and no way would Durmstrang want to go to Hogsmeade with all of..
“Sure, I vould enjoy that.”
Did you guys enjoy the Lily/James feelings in this chapter? Writing those two always makes my heart warm and mushy. Thank you, as always, to my awesome beta reader, CambAngst. Who is filling up his author pages with some really incredible stories that you should absolutely check out!
Also, a big thank you to Roots in Water for leaving me such helpful and wonderful reviews. She always offers amazing advice, and if you've ever been curious about Moody's time spent as a hostage, or Pansy's life after the war... her Author's Page is the place for you!
If you have time, I would really appreciate a review! And most importantly, thank you for reading :)!