Chapter 7 : Chapter 7
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Special Thanks To: CambAngst who is kind enough to Beta-Read this story for me. Do yourself a favor and read Detox (M) or anything that he's written. You're seriously missing out if you haven't read any of his stuff!
I sat against the wall facing the dark, shabby dining room with its crooked door, waiting as patiently as I could for the meeting to begin. I watched as people arrived in pairs, groups or alone and greeted each other in hushed voices, as if afraid of waking a dark entity within the old house. I could tell by the wary looks they gave one another and the fright in their voices that they had no idea of where exactly they were and why this place of all places was playing host to the Order’s first meeting.
As I watched some members of the first Order settle themselves around the dining room table, I felt a pang in my heart for the days long gone.
I closed my eyes and thought of Lily and James, who always sat together, holding hands underneath the table, thinking no one would notice. Alice and Frank, with their serious expressions and readiness to volunteer for any mission without thinking twice about it. Fabian and Gideon who, as brave as they were, they were the first ones to try to lighten the room when it was necessary with their inappropriate jokes. Sometimes I liked to think that the Prewett twins would have given the Weasley Twins a run for their gold.
I shook my head, trying to rid myself of the old memories and concentrated on the new and old faces instead. Molly and Arthur Weasley entered the room next with their two eldest sons trailing after them. Molly’s eyes were red and swollen but she smiled to the room nonetheless. She sat next to Arthur and gave her sons a sideways glance that was full of worry. The look was clear: she did not want them here. Yet everyone in this room knew there was nothing she could do to stop them; they were men in the eyes of the law.
“Evening, everyone,” Arthur greeted the room with a curt nod. He sounded tense, almost angry but said nothing of the matter. I joined the room in the greeting chorus before falling silent once more.
“This house is…vile!” Molly exclaimed with disgust. “Did everybody see the mounted heads on the walls?
“Sort of ‘ard to miss,” Hagrid grunted. “Nasty place this is. It makes me wonder who lives here.”
“By the looks of it, a very dark wizard,” Diggle mumbled while others nodded their heads in agreement. I saw that McGonagall was about to say something when Dumbledore entered the room. Everyone watched as he walked briskly to his seat in between the real Alastor Moody and Kingsley Shacklebolt at the head of the table. There were no greetings, no introductions, just straight to the point of us being here.
I noticed the twinkle that was usually in Dumbledore’s eyes was gone, and that he looked beyond exhausted with the heavy bags under his eyes. He took a big breath and looked at everyone in the room before speaking. “I would like to say ‘welcome’ but the reason why we’re here is not a pleasant one. Now, before we begin with our agenda, I would like you all to remember what I’ve said regarding the issue of Sirius Black."
“That’s he’s not a mad murderer?” Bill asked with a snort. Almost as if on cue, Sirius, in dog form, entered the room but remained hidden among the shadows; everyone’s attention was to Dumbledore. Wolf perked the minute he caught a whiff of his scent but remained calm; he understood that this was important.
“Right you are, Mr. Weasley. As all of you know by now, it was Peter Pettigrew who betrayed the Potters and not Sirius Black as we all believed for thirteen years. He was unjustly accused of betrayal and murder before being sent to Azkaban without a trail. He then…ah, managed to escape two years back and has remained hidden until now.”
“Where is he, Albus?” McGonagall asked looking around the room. “This place…shouldn’t he be here considering…”
With a simple nod from Dumbledore, Sirius transformed back to his human self, startling almost everyone who had not seen the large black dog sneak into the room. He stammered a few apologies before casually greeting some members he hadn’t seen in many years. As I waited for Sirius to settle down in the seat next to mine, I made the mistake of taking a quick glance at our old Transfiguration professor; she had an expression that I could not quite read. With a cocked head and pursed lips my best guess was that she was irritated at the boy who always did his homework the night before it was due and that fell asleep during lessons.
“Sirius has been kind enough to let us borrow his childhood home to use as the Order’s Headquarters. A Fidelius charm has been placed upon this home, with me as its secret keeper, to keep us safe from our enemy and those I cannot trust any longer. I have confidence you all know what that means. Only I will disclose the address to anyone as I see fit.” Everyone nodded, understanding.
“Now that we’ve taken that out of the way, let us proceed to our agenda,” Dumbledore instructed the group. “As you all well know Fudge is refusing to accept that Voldemort is back. He claims that Harry just went through a very traumatic affair with Cedric Diggory’s death and is only looking for a way to make sense of the tragic events in his head. And since he cannot possibly blame Harry-"
“He wouldn’t dare!” Hagrid voiced everyone’s disbelief. I felt the tension in the room change. The idea of Fudge actually wanting to throw Harry into Azkaban was not only ridiculous but unfortunately also very plausible. If Dumbledore hadn't intervened, Harry would now be in a cold cell in Azkaban for a murder he didn't commit.
“If he had his way he would chuck Harry into Azkaban without a trial and blame Diggory’s death on him.” Sirius, in his dog form, had been privy to a meeting between Fudge and Dumbledore after raising hell and claiming that the needed to do his Godfather duty and look after Harry and his best interest. He had come back furious, claiming that he ought to get rabies just to have the privilege of infecting Fudge. It had taken a few jinxes to stop him from going outside to find a feral dog.
“I’m afraid Cornelius will do anything and everything in his power to keep the Wizarding community in the dark,” Moody grunted. “My apprentice over there” he jerked his head to a young woman with the most shocking shade of pink locks I had ever seen, “has informed me that he’s paranoid and thinks that Albus is after his position in the Ministry.”
“He’s making it very clear to anyone that will listen that this is all a clever act from you, sir,” the young woman said to Dumbledore. “That you’re just trying to frighten people and bully your way as Minister of Magic since you’ve grown bored of you current position. He has forbidden our department from re-opening files of those who were suspected Death Eaters during the first war or even keep surveillance on those that Potter mentioned, like Lucius Malfoy, Macnair, and Nott.”
Dumbledore stayed silent, as he absorbed this new information. “It pains me to have lost Cornelius as a friend, but if he wishes to tell everyone that this is just a trick on my part to get his seat then he leaves me no choice but to do my own talking.
“Now, that we know what Fudge is-” Dumbledore paused when the door to the dining room opened and in walked the person I least expected to join us. His greasy hair was covered with a dark hood and when he lowered it, he made no effort to hide his disgust upon seeing Sirius and myself in the room. “Severus, I’m glad you could join us.”
“Wait one bloody minute. What is this bloody Death Eater doing here?” snapped Sirius, clearly not bothering to hide his own dislike either.
“Such manners, Black. What would your dear old mummy say about the nasty way you treat guests? As it happens, I’m here at the Headmaster’s request.”
Everyone remained quiet, unsure of what to do if Snape and Sirius began fighting. Dumbledore thankfully intervened before things got any worse and asked Snape to sit and give his report.
“The Dark Lord is attempting to infiltrate the Ministry of Magic, the Department of Mysteries to be exact, to collect what he calls the secret weapon that will help him kill Potter.” Dumbledore nodded, understanding Snape’s cryptic message while the rest of us sat dumbfounded by the piece of news. What could Fudge be hiding within the Ministry that he believed was powerful enough to kill Harry?
“Don’t be daft, Snape. There’s no weapon anywhere in the bloody Ministry that could help Voldemort, let alone in that pointless department.” Moody declared with a shake of his head, both eyes firmly on Snape. It was as if the old Auror was waiting for Snape to make one false move.
“Severus doesn’t mean a physical weapon, Alastor, but something he didn’t have during the first war,” Dumbledore explained. “This could be dangerous if he gets hold of it.”
“You don’t mean-”
“I’m afraid so, my dear Minerva.”
And then it dawned on me. The Department of Mysteries held the Hall of Prophecies. Voldemort was surely after the prophecy that had killed Lily and James. I had known about its existence but not of its contents until a few nights ago when Sirius had spilled the secret after drinking the rest of an old, opened bottle of firewhiskey from his father's cabinet.
“We need to start keeping the Department of Mysteries under guard, starting tonight; Voldemort will never try to do anything during broad daylight.”
“I’ll do it,” Kinglsey Shacklebolt volunteered. “Scrimgeour has me working late tonight; I can start the first shift.”
“Lucky for you, I have the next couple of days off, Shacklebolt,” the girl with the alarming pink locks chipped in. “So I’ll come to relieve you.”
“I’m sorry, but I’m going to ask what is on everybody’s mind…what exactly is this secret weapon?” Molly asked. “How much danger is Harry in now?”
“Well…” Dumbledore paused for a moment, looking for the best answer to give her. “Secured within the Department of Mysteries is a prophecy involving both Harry and Voldemort. I’m certain he believes that knowing the prophecy in its entirety would confer upon him an advantage in any future encounters the two of them might have. While it’s not a weapon in the traditional sense, I believe we can all agree that knowledge is power. Therefore, it is essential that we do not allow Voldemort to obtain the information he covets.”
Before Molly could ask more questions, Dumbledore went on with the meeting. According to the Headmaster, one of the Order’s problems as was its small size compared to the possible extent of Voldemort’s allies. Without the Ministry’s support, we had shrunk to fewer than twenty members.. I knew we were strong fighters, but we needed to make sure we always had the upper hand. Knowing that we needed all the help we could get, Charlie Weasley volunteered his services as a recruiter in Romania. If Voldemort managed to conquer Britain, it was plausible to believe that he wouldn’t be satisfied with the island. The more nations that joined our case, the better chance we had of beating him.
“I hate to ask more of your family, Arthur, considering that your wife and two eldest are here, but what about Percy? He works for the Ministry; his position may be useful to us to monitor the Ministry’s doings.”
Molly’s eyes welled up with tears while the Weasley males looked uncomfortably at each other. I could hear Bill’s heart rate quicken and his usually calm expression twisted into a scornful frown. “My brother, Professor, is nothing more than a self-disowned git. He came home a few days ago boasting about his new promotion: Junior Assistant to the Minister of Magic. Dad tried to reason with him that it was just a ploy from Fudge to keep tabs on us and our association with you, sir. To make a long story short, he is no longer allowed to come into the Burrow until he apologizes to Mum and Dad and admits that he was wrong.”
I shifted uncomfortably in my chair. Percy Weasley was definitely ambitious. Saw this when I was teaching the N.E.W.T. Defense Against the Dark Arts class. However, to turn his back on his family and choose Fudge and reputation over the truth, it made me realize that there was a fine line between ambition and stupidity. Dumbledore gave them a sympathetic apology and closed the meeting, stating that tomorrow we would discuss Harry’s safety and his possible transfer from the Dursleys to the Burrow.
As the meeting broke up, the first thing I did was stand and straighten my restless legs. After a long day of cleaning this filthy place, I wanted nothing more than to enjoy some of the whiskey Sirius and I had found in his father’s study and a nice, juicy piece of steak-a reward the wolf would enjoy for behaving today. A quiet night before coming back to clean tomorrow morning. I turned to tell Sirius of my plan but he was too busy staring daggers at Snape, who was waiting for the Headmaster to finish talking to the pink haired girl.
I could feel her excitement and anxiety mixing together, like a child who was being handed her very first broom. I knew I should introduce myself, considering that we were members of the same order and that we would be working together, but there was something peculiar about her that made the werewolf in me nervous. It was always wary of strangers, but it was her scent that he didn't like the most; one second it would be sweet, and the next it was of burning embers.
I nodded once, almost as though I was reassuring myself of my plan to make my introductions on the way out. “Thank you professor,” I heard her say. “Mum was gutted when everything happened so she will certainly appreciate this trust you’ve placed in her in the end.”
Just before I had the chance to wonder what they were talking about, or to walk over and greet her, I felt a sharp jab on my rib cage. “Sod off, Black! That bloody well hurt.”
“Wonder what that git is still doing here,” whispered Sirius instead of apologizing. “Just look at him, Remus. He makes me bloody sick.”
“Ah, Remus, Sirius, could the two of you sit with me for a few minutes.” The girl was gone by now, probably left when Sirius decided to break my ribcage. Only Sirius, Severus and I were left in the dining room with Dumbledore. “Severus, could you wait outside for a moment, I wish to speak with Sirius and Remus about a couple of important matters.” Snape said nothing but gave the headmaster a single nod before heading outside and closing the door behind him.
Wolf felt uncomfortable by now. He wanted to be out and enjoy the bit of sunlight that was left, even if it meant enjoying it through me. Anything to avoid being trapped in the decaying house any longer.
“Please, sit.” He motioned to the two chairs to his right. I groaned internally. After spending close to two hours in the cramped dining room-the dining table couldn’t be removed thanks to Kreacher-the last thing I wanted to do was sit back down. Nevertheless, l did it. One doesn't simply ignore Albus Dumbledore. "Remus, I’m afraid of asking this from you but I need your help.”
“You want me to go underground again?” Dumbledore regarded me with his calculating eyes. I tried not to flinch but I couldn’t help but to feel like a student who was in trouble under that stare. Wolf on the other hand regarded Dumbledore not as an enemy or prey but almost like an equal.
“I hope I’m not asking too much of you, Remus.”
I shook my head, I owed Dumbledore too much. “What am I to do?”
“There are whispers that Fenrir Greyback has started a war of his own. He wishes to control all the packs in Britain and hand them over to Voldemort as soldiers.”
I shuddered. I could only imagine what that meant. During the first few years of being infected, I had tried to understand my disease by attempting to read every book on the subject I could get my young hands on. One of those books was about werewolves and their hierarchy. They usually lived in packs that were led by an Alpha male or female and sometimes, on special occasions, an Alpha pair. If someone wanted to take over a pack, whether big or small, the only way to do it was a fight to the death. An alpha would never allow a challenger to walk away and would deal with the matter almost immediately. Meanwhile a challenger, if he or she won, would not allow an old pack leader to live and roam free in case they decided to retaliate or attempt to regain their leadership of the pack.
“Has he managed to take over any packs?” Sirius asked.
“Unfortunately, I do not know. For me, these are mere pub whispers.”
“So you want me to find out if these rumors are true?”
“That, and if possible, a lot more. I need you to find a pack that is not under Greyback's rule. Maybe you will be able to get enough information about Greyback's location and which packs have fallen in league with Voldemort.”
“You could be sending Remus to his death!” Sirius pointed out with an alarmed tone. “He can’t go alone. I’ll go with him.”
“I’m afraid Remus will have to do this alone, Sirius.” From the corner of my eye I saw Sirius open his mouth to protest but he was cut short by Dumbledore. “It is not that I don’t want you to go, Sirius, it’s just that a werewolf pack is dangerous business. While Remus’s werewolf has accepted you, it doesn’t mean that a whole pack will be tolerant of you. These people have been rejected by society; the last thing they’ll want is someone wanting to join them just as a passing fancy.”
Before Sirius could voice another protest, I chimed in. “Besides mate, you need to be here for Harry, just in case something were to happen. You can’t do that while you’re out prancing about. The last time I went on a mission like this I was away for months; a lot can happen in months."
“I don’t prance…” Sirius pouted as he crossed his arms.
“When would you like for me to leave?”
“Soon. I would like for you to be available for any emergencies until we can get Harry into safety.” I nodded, understanding. “Now, speaking of Harry, I would like for you two to understand that I’ve cared and will always care for him. And with that in mind, I have an important request: do not tell Harry of the prophecy and of its contents.”
“WHAT!” Sirius shouted as he jumped from his chair leaned on the table; a half-threatening stance according to wolf. “Of course not! Harry deserves the truth!”
“The truth will be devastating to him, Sirius. He’s just a fourteen year old boy. I don’t think he could handle such responsibilities at that age.” Dumbledore’s tone of voice was calm, something I knew I couldn’t have done if I had someone moving in on me with a threatening manner. “You two know what the prophecy foretold and while I believe that its meaning might not be as simple as it seems, we cannot be certain that Harry will share that belief.”
“So what?” By this time he began to pace, making Wolf nervous. “We’ll keep him in the dark just because you say so?”
“Sirius, calm down.” I was hoping he would sit back down so we could discuss this as adults but all he continued to do was pace back and forth and curse under his breath. By this point, I’d had enough. I was tired and wanted to go home. Sirius acting like a kid who couldn’t see Dumbledore’s logic because he was too stubborn was starting to get under my skin.
“I’m not going to sit down, Remus,” Sirius spat. “And why aren’t you upset by this request? You know very well Harry should know the truth.”
“No buts, Remus. Harry has lived in the dark way too long. First that family of his concealing the fact of how his parents died, that he was a wizard and now Dumbledore wants us to continue to keep him in the dark regarding the reason behind all this madness.”
Sirius had a point. Yet Dumbledore was right as well. I felt torn between two types of loyalties and two very reasonable arguments. “Look, Sirius, I hate to point this out to you but out of the two of us, I’m the one that has spent more time with Harry.” I knew I shouldn’t have said that. It wasn’t a fair argument despite the amount of truth behind it.
“And your point?” Sirius growled, “Harry needs to-”
“He’s afraid of being afraid, Sirius!” I snapped. “Did you know his boggart is a Dementor? I have no idea how badly it may affect him if we were to tell him that there’s a prophecy with his name on it and how he is supposedly to either live or die in the end.”
“He’s the product of resilient individuals. James was brave, smart and a strong person, Harry is the same.”
“Harry is not James, Sirius.” Dumbledore’s statement took us by surprise. He had been so quiet during our argument that I had completely forgotten he was there. “Harry may look like James but he’s not as outgoing or as carefree as his father. Being The Boy Who Lived has been a heavy burden for Harry, Sirius. He has faced Voldemort more than anyone alive and managed to survive by virtue of more than a bit of good fortune. Without meaning to, Harry will always play the hero. He helped Miss Granger in their first year with a troll and faced Professor Quirrell and Voldemort on his own. He saved Miss Weasley in his second, saved you from a fate worse than death on his third year and just as few months ago, he not only saved Mr. Weasley as the third task asked but also Miss Delacour. If Harry were to hear the prophecy he’ll feel the whole weight of the Wizarding World on his shoulders. That is what I seek to avoid. I’m not asking this from you just because of selfish reasons; I believe that he’s far too young for that sort of burden.”
“He’s got us,” Sirius was grasping at straws but was calm now that he was starting to understand Dumbledore’s motives. “We can help him.”
“This is war, mate, he may not have us forever.” And thus I had spoken the nasty truth. “I agree, however, that we can’t hide the truth from Harry indefinitely. At some point, Professor, he’s going to have to know.”
Dumbledore stayed quiet for a while. And after a long pause, he seemed to have come up with a compromise. “I’ll make the two of you a deal. Give me a year to do some research, to find some information on a theory I have that will help Harry in the end. By then I should have everything I may need. However, if by Harry’s sixteenth birthday I have not achieved my goals, you may tell Harry of the prophecy and its contents.”
“Why a whole year?”
“I’m working on a theory revolving around Voldemort. It’ll take me some time to find everything I need to know and put the pieces of the puzzle together. Once I’m done, I should have everything Harry is going to need to defeat Voldemort.” Sirius contemplated Dumbledore’s offer. It took some time but the stubborn man finally nodded his head once in agreement. He knew that Dumbledore was a smart man, so if he said that he had something that may help Harry in the end but needed a year to do so, then so be it. Harry may be furious with us when we tell him of the prophecy but if he was anything like his parents, he can be forgiving as well.
“I know keeping this from Harry will be hard on you, but you have to understand that I am looking out for Harry and I care for his well-being. Anyway, you both look tired so perhaps some rest.” I was glad to hear those words. I was starting to get hungry and cramped in this house. “However, before the two of you depart, there is a young lady in the drawing room who would like a word with you.” Sirius and I looked at each other and shrugged. He was as bewildered as I was. “Now please, send Severus in.”
I needed to verify something before leaving. “Sir, are you sure about-“
“I trust him with my life, Remus. Do not worry.” Dumbledore smiled.
The girl waiting for Sirius was the same girl that I had previously seen talking to Dumbledore. As soon as she saw us approach, she stood from the moldy sofa; a large grin spread across her heart-shaped face. “Anything I can help you with?” Sirius asked.
The grin faded slightly. “You don’t remember me, do you?” Sirius shook his head, confused. “Bloody hell, I know time has passed but I didn’t think you had forgotten about family.” As she said that, her features began to change right in front of me. Her pink hair changed to black and with every centimeter it grew, the curlier it became. She vaguely resembled one of the girls in the infamous family tapestry: Bellatrix Black, Sirius’s mad cousin.
“Nyphie?” The girl made a face.
“I hate that name! I go by Tonks now…a lot easier to remember and quite a bit shorter.”
Sirius yelped with excitement and hugged the girl. “Look at you! You’re so big now!”
Tonks laughed. “Well, I honestly hope you weren’t expecting the same little girl you left behind when you went to Azkaban.”
Sirius smiled. “I had hoped some things had remained constant.”
“You can’t stop time, cousin.”
Sirius had a huge grin across his face. “How old are you now?”
Sirius whistled. “The last time I saw you, you were a wee child. Eight if I remember correctly, always following me around or asking me to change to a dog just so she could play fetch. But look at you now; you look so much like your mother. Speaking of Andie, how is she?”
“She’s doing fine.” Her hair began to change once again, the curls disappeared and the length shortened to its previous length. “In fact, I was wondering if you would care to join us for dinner tonight. You don’t know this but when you were arrested, mum was very disappointed, devastated actually. She said that if there had been any hope in salvation for the Black family it had been you. She cried and couldn’t believe that you had betrayed the Potters and had given yourself to You-Know-Who. Mum’s birthday is coming up so I thought you would be a fantastic present. She deserves to know the truth and to see that there is still hope for her family.”
I cleared my throat and the two cousins looked at me with confusion.They had clearly forgotten I was there.
“I’m sorry mate! Nyphie, this is my best mate Remus. Remus, this is my baby cousin, Nymphadora.”
She gave Sirius a dirty look. “Tonks, the name’s Tonks.” She smiled at me with her hand out for me to shake and my stomach dropped. Something was making me nervous and I couldn’t understand why. I shook her hand and I felt myself struggling to find the right words to say.
“You’re a metamorphmagus.” I groaned internally. I could’ve said ‘very nice to meet you’ or ‘it’s my pleasure’ but no, of course not. Perhaps Wolf was tired and irritated, putting him on the edge and that’s why I felt nervous about Tonks. However an internal snarl and a quick snap in the air was perhaps his way of telling me that he was not the reason behind how I felt. “Nice to meet you, Tonks.”
She grinned at me, and felt my stomach drop even further, something I didn’t know was possible. “Nice to meet you too, Remus. Werewolf right?”
I nodded, attempting my best to not be awkward now.
“Right, about that dinner,” Sirius looked at me almost as if asking me if he was allowed.
“Wouldn’t that be dangerous?” I asked. “He’s a fugitive.”
“Mum went mad the moment she heard that there were whispers about You-Know-Who’s return. She placed barriers all over the house because she has a feeling that dear auntie Bellatrix will come for us the moment she manages to step out of Azkaban. We can apparate with Sirius as Snuffles and once we’re inside the barriers, he should be safe.”
I laughed. I couldn’t help it. “Snuffles?”
“That’s what she used to call me when she was four…” muttered Sirius as his cheeks turned scarlet.
“You’ll be joining us, right?” She asked me. I felt the corner of my mouth twitch. Was I attempting to smile or snarl? Hopefully smile.
“We’ll be delighted to join you for dinner, Nymphie!” I gave Sirius a grateful look. Glad that he had answered for me instead of letting me go on and on with an ‘err’ for an answer.
Her hair turned fiery red, “Tonks, Sirius Black. Tonks!”
Sirius’s laugh resembled a bark. “Lead the way, cousin.”