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Chapter 16 : Birth of a Legend
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Harry had known that his fifth year would be extremely busy, but he hadn’t been prepared for the amount of homework that would be loaded upon them. Tuesday and Wednesday night, all of the fifth year Gryffindors were around one big table in the common room, working together on their piles of work. Currently they were working on the newest essay Snape had ordered them to write. In the end, it was still Hermione who made sure that they all finished that night.
“Honestly Hermione, you’re an angel,” Harry yawned. “I don’t know what we would do without you.” He was quickly agreed by his other class mates. Hermione gave him a small smile.
“If this is how it’s going to be all year, they can just kill me now." Ron grumbled. “And it’s already dark again.”
“What does that have to do with our homework?” Neville asked puzzled.
“Nothing.” Ron shrugged.
“Weren’t Fred and George almost ready working on those Skiving Snackboxes of them?” Dean asked. “I wouldn’t say no to a day off tomorrow. I’m beat.”
“Honestly!” Hermione rolled her eyes. “It’s only the third day of the school year and you’re already nagging.”
On Thursday after Transfiguration, which was their last class of the day, Ron pulled Harry aside as they exited the classroom. “Hey, you think we could go flying?”
“Flying?” Harry asked. He looked out of the nearest window. “Well at least it isn’t raining. Sure.”
When they walked over the grounds towards the Quidditch pitch, Harry noticed that Ron was uncharacteristically silent and seemed slightly nervous. Suddenly he realized where the sudden desire of his best friend to go flying came from. He didn’t just want to use his new broom.
“You want to try out for Keeper, don’t you?”
Ron looked at him startled. “Well yeah, I reckoned it wouldn't hurt to try, you know.”
“Great!” Harry grinned. “It would be cool to be in the same team.”
Ron seemed to relax a little, obviously happy that Harry had reacted enthusiastically about the idea. The two friends flied for over an hour. Ron was playing Keeper as Harry played as Chaser and tried to get past him. Harry was happy to notice Ron was more than a fair Keeper. At first sight he may not have possessed the confidence and skill of Oliver Wood, but with a bit of training he could give the old Gryffindor captain a run for his money.
When the try-outs came Friday afternoon though, Ron got more nervous and nervous. Harry was glad he was the only one of the fifth years that decided to try out for the team. Seamus and Dean were both quite interested in Quidditch, but said they were more drawn to playing Beater. Seeing as Fred and George were still on the team, they would have to wait for another year before they could try out. Hermione, Neville, Lavender and Parvati always came to support Gryffindor in the games, but personally they preferred to stay as far away from a broomstick as possibly. That way all Ron’s classmates were in the stands rooting for him as he mounted his Cleansweep 11.
Harry didn’t know what Ron had been worrying about. After an excellent try-out it was apparent to the whole team that he was the best candidate to be their new Keeper. Angelina grinned at him as she patted him on the back. “Congratulations Ron, welcome to the team.”
When they had changed back into their school robes in the changing-rooms, Katie Bell, another Gryffindor Chaser, walked up to Harry. “I almost forgot, Harry, Dumbledore asked me to tell you to go to his office after the training. He said I had to tell you he liked Licorice Wands, whatever that may mean.”
“Oh” Harry said, slightly surprised. “Alright. Thanks, Katie.” She smiled at him and left the changing-room together with Angelina and Alicia Spinnet, their brooms over their shoulders.
Harry walked up to the castle with Ron and the twins a few minutes later. When they were on the seventh floor, they parted ways as Harry made his way to the gargoyle that guarded Dumbledore’s office. “Licorice Wand.” The gargoyle stood aside and revealed the stone escalator that led to the office and Harry knocked on the door.
“Come in, Harry.”
“Good evening, Professor.” he said politely.
“Good evening, Harry. Thank you for coming on such short notice. Please sit down.”
He gestured to the chair in front of his desk and Harry nervously sat down.
“I wanted to talk to you about a few things, Harry.” Dumbledore said. “First of all, I am sure you remember me informing you about the private lessons I intended to give you?”
“Well, I think it would be wise for us to meet at least one evening every two weeks. Let us say, every other Monday starting from next? Does that suit you?”
“It does, Sir.”
“I also think it would not be a bad idea for you to learn Occlumency and Legilimency. Lord Voldemort is highly skilled at both and he would not hesitate to use it against you.”
“Occlumency and Legilimency, sir?”
“Oh of course, I should explain.” Dumbledore said politely. “Legilimency is a very obscure branch of magic. It allows the caster to navigate through the many layers of his opponent’s mind and therefore he would be able to correctly interpret his findings.”
Harry repeated the words in his mind. It took a moment until the meaning of what Dumbledore had just said dawned on him. “Voldemort can read minds?” he asked.
“It is of course a lot more complicated than that, but I guess that is the general idea, yes.”
Harry looked at his headmaster alarmed.
“It is therefore that I think it would be wise for you to learn Occlumency too, Harry. You see, Occlumency allows a witch or wizard to protect his mind against external penetration. If you would completely master Occlumency, you would be able to block anyone who would try to invade your mind. Unfortunately, despite the fact that I am quite skilled at both Legilimency and Occlumency, I am not skilled enough to teach you enough.”
“Then who would teach me, Sir?”
“Professor Snape, Harry.” Dumbledore corrected him. “And yes, him. He is the most accomplished Legilimens and Occlumens I know and he will be able to teach you rather quickly. For me on the other hand, it would take years to fully teach you everything.”
Harry looked at him horrified. Extra lessons from Snape? Where on earth had he deserved that? “But Professor,” Harry tried to reason with Dumbledore, “Snape hates me. He can barely stand me when I’m in a class full of people. How would he act towards me if we had private lessons?”
“I am sure Professor Snape can put aside a school boy grudge long enough to teach you, Harry. He knows it is extremely important that you learn Occlumency and he will do the best he can to make sure you do.”
Harry was still not convinced, but he nodded anyway.
Dumbledore looked relieved Harry had agreed and said: “Good, I will arrange with Professor Snape that the lessons will be planned on the Monday evenings you do not have lessons with me if that is good for you. That way you will have the rest of your evenings free for Quidditch practice.” He smiled at him.
Harry nodded his agreement.
“There is one more thing I wanted to discuss with you, Harry." Dumbledore said. “I am sure you are aware of Miss Granger’s visit with me earlier this week.”
“About the Defence group?”
“Indeed.” Dumbledore smiled. “I think it was a wonderful idea, but I must admit that I had already planned to talk to you about a similar organisation.”
Harry looked at him with astonishment. “What do you mean, Sir?”
Dumbledore looked a bit at unease as he continued: “Well Harry, now that Voldemort has returned I have to make precautions. I am sure the protective enchantments around Hogwarts are still working and will keep working for the time being, but as headmaster I must anticipate the fact that intruders might get within these walls. Voldemort might find a way around the enchantments or he might even have a man inside. The thing is that I need to have a group of people that I can trust completely. There are of course the teachers, but the past has showed us that even they are not always trustworthy. Therefore I thought of establishing a select elite group of students.”
“I’m not sure what you mean, Professor.” Harry said politely.
“It would not be as much a study group, Harry, but a real Defence group. A group of students that I can count on will keep the other students as safe as possible would Hogwarts ever be under attack. Students that I can trust above all others.”
“And you want me to be a part of that group?” Harry asked.
“No Harry.” Dumbledore said slowly. “I want you to lead that group.”
Harry looked at him shocked. “But.. But Professor.” he stuttered. “You can’t be serious, can you? I’m not a leader!”
“If you say you are not a leader who likes to use his authority and likes to boss people around, you are absolutely right, Harry.” Dumbledore said. “But you are a natural leader. People will follow you. Not because you are famous,” he quickly added as Harry wanted to interrupt, “but because you inspire people to. You have no idea what kind of influence you have on people. Your bravery inspires them.” Harry blushed as his headmaster complimented him. “You do not need to answer me tonight, Harry. The only thing I ask of you is to think about it.”
Harry nodded and asked: “This group. What exactly would we have to do. I mean, if Death Eaters manage to get into the school, will we have to fight?”
Dumbledore shook his head. “No, your first priority will be to get the students to their dormitories safely and to keep them there. That’s why it would be good to have members of every house, except for Slytherin.”
“I thought unity between houses was so important?” Harry asked, his eyebrows raised.
“Yes.” Dumbledore nodded. “And I am very sure not every Slytherin is a pureblood fanatic and not every Gryffindor is pure of heart.” Harry thought of Peter Pettigrew. “But the fact is that there are children of known Death Eaters in Slytherin house and it would not be good for them to hear about this.”
“Has Lucius Malfoy re-joined the Death Eaters, Sir?” Harry asked.
Dumbledore nodded. “Our source has informed us that Lucius Malfoy has indeed returned to Voldemort’s inner circle. Unfortunately, he is still considered to be a highly respected member of the wizarding community. If Fudge would still be Minister he would not believe any accusations against Malfoy whatsoever. We cannot be sure Minister Scrimgeour would not react in the same way.”
Harry nodded and thought back to the group Dumbledore wanted him to lead. “So you would like to have members of Gryffindor, Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw.” Harry repeated. “Who?”
“That would be entirely up to you, Harry.” Dumbledore said. “I know you would only choose those who you trust. I entirely trust your judgement.”
Harry looked at him in disbelief. “But? Won’t you be involved at all?”
“No, unfortunately I will not have time to be involved myself. That is the reason I trust you to form and train the group during the year. I am sure you would do so very well.”
Harry nodded and said: “Alright, I will think about it.”
Dumbledore smiled widely. “That is all I am asking from you, Harry. Think about it, discuss it with your closest friends, but make sure that it does not go too far. I have only conferred with Professor Tonks so far and she fully supported the idea, but I am not certain that the rest of the teachers will react the same way.”
“The teachers won’t know about it?” Harry asked disbelievingly.
“I would have to inform the heads of houses, but I think there is no need for the news to spread wider than that.”
Harry nodded as he stood up from his chair. “I’ll make sure it doesn’t leak out, Professor.”
“Very well, Harry. I will see you on Monday. Good night.”
“Good night, Professor.”
Harry found his friends in the common room. He kissed Ginny lightly on the lips as he sat down beside her.
“So what did Dumbledore want?” Fred asked.
Harry told his friends everything he had discussed with his headmaster. Starting from the extra lessons he would have with Dumbledore and Snape (Ron groaned sympathetically) right through their conversation about Dumbledore’s defence group. When he finished he looked over at Hermione who was watching him expectantly. “Did you know about this?”
Hermione shook her head. “He didn’t tell me, but I had guessed as much from what he said when I asked him about the study group.” She paused. “I think it would be a great idea Harry. It probably won’t be necessary, but it can’t hurt being prepared, can it? And we would be able to train together…”
Harry didn’t look convinced.
“Oh come on, mate. If anyone could do it, it’s you.” Ron said.
Harry looked at his friends. “Would you all join?”
“I’d be in”, Neville said immediately.
“Us too”, George said resolutely, indicating Fred and himself.
“Hell yeah”, Seamus grinned. The rest of them nodded fervently.
“I’ll think about it.” Harry said.
The Gryffindors spent the better part of their weekend doing homework. The only variety came on Saturday afternoon with the first real Quidditch practice of the season. By Sunday night however, Harry had done a lot of thinking and had made his decision. If Dumbledore wanted him to do this than he couldn’t let his headmaster down. He told his friends on Sunday night when they had finally abandoned their homework to relax a little before the new school week would start. They were all enthusiastic when they heard the news.
“Slow down, slow down!” Harry called out over the jubilant cries of his friends. “We still have to decide a lot. First of all, who do we ask to join?”
“Well, Luna obviously.” Ginny said. “She’s kind of our only friend that isn’t in Gryffindor and she would want to be a part of this. Plus, Dumbledore told you he wanted members of all the houses, didn’t he?”
Harry nodded. “So definitely Luna. Other suggestions?”
“Lee.” George said. “And we should ask Angelina, Alicia and Katie. They would kill us if we left them out of this.”
“True.” Harry said, scribbling names on a piece of parchment. “Then there is already fifteen of us in total. What about Cho?”
Ginny raised her eyebrows at him. “Trying to make me jealous, Potter?”
“No, but she would probably want to join too. Her boyfriend is in the Order of the Phoenix and Cedric told me she wants to join too after she graduated.”
“I was kidding, you prat.”
“We have no one from Hufflepuff and only two from Ravenclaw.” Lavender pointed out.
“I can’t think of anyone for Hufflepuff really.” Harry said, ruffling his hair. “I mean we know a few of them, like Justin, but if we can trust them to join this…?”
“Maybe we could ask the Prefects from our year?” Hermione asked. “Even if they don’t want to join, they wouldn’t blab about if we say Dumbledore wants to keep it quiet. They wouldn’t want to risk their badges.”
“No way.” Ginny said. Everyone stared at her. “Smith is a Hufflepuff Prefect, I don’t want him with us.”
“It’s the only one we can ask from Hufflepuff though.” Harry pointed out.
“Oh alright." Ginny grumbled.
Harry smiled and added four more names to his list. “So that’s Zacharias Smith and Hannah Abbott for Huffelpuff and Padma Patil and Terry Boot for Ravenclaw.”
“I’ll talk to Padma.” Parvati said as she gave him a wide smile. “I’m sure she’ll want to join.”
“We don’t have a name.” Fred pointed out.
“A name?” Hermione asked sceptically.
“Well yeah, if we form a group, we’ll have to have a name!”
“Dumbledore’s Army.” Harry muttered.
“Come again?” Ron said.
“Dumbledore’s Army.” Harry repeated.
Seamus nodded. “It is what we will be essentially. I’m in favour.”
Everyone nodded and Harry grinned as he watched his friends. “Dumbledore’s Army, it is.”
“Leadership is not about titles, positions or flowcharts. It is about one life influencing another” – John C. Maxwell
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