Chapter 12 : Breakthrough
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Although everybody was still a bit shaken by the battle at Godric’s Hollow, the news of Remus and Tonks’ approaching wedding lifted the spirits at Hogwarts considerably. Tonks really wanted a summer wedding, so Remus had agreed to get married in July, the day before Harry’s birthday. Dumbledore happily agreed to let the service take place at Hogwarts and as Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot, he would be officiating too.
The day after Christmas, Harry and Ginny were walking over the grounds with Prongs. Remus had taken the dog when they had to leave Grimmauld Place and he was now staying with him and Tonks. The young couple sat down by the lake as Prongs was hopefully sniffing around the beech tree under which they had sat so many times. Harry smiled as he watched his fifteenth birthday present from Ginny.
“It’s wonderful, isn’t it.” Ginny suddenly said. “Remus and Tonks. They have so many things going against them, but they’re still getting married.”
Harry nodded. “It’s great. I’ve never seen Remus this happy.”
“Do you think we’ll ever be that lucky?”
Harry smiled. He immediately recognized the desire and fear behind that question. The odds weren’t really in their favour too. Voldemort had been trying to kill Harry since he was a baby and Ginny was a Weasley and a member of Dumbledore’s Army. They would have to consider themselves lucky if they both survived this war.
“Yes.” he said finally, when he looked into Ginny’s sweet brown eyes. “I think we will be. I’m going to marry you someday.”
“If we’re lucky.” Ginny said softly. “It’s not – “
“Don’t say it.” Harry interrupted her. “Don’t even think it. We are going to get through this. I know it.”
Ginny gave him a weak smile and lay her head on Harry’s shoulder. Harry pulled her close and kissed the top of her head. “I love you.” he whispered in her ear.
“I love you too.” Ginny said. “But love isn’t always enough, is it?”
“For us it is enough.”
When second term started Harry had never been busier in his life. Added by his classes, homework, private lessons with Snape and Dumbledore, Quidditch practice and DA meetings, they also started Apparition lessons. Nobody was surprised that Harry was the first to successfully disappear and appear in the hoop that lay a couple of feet in front of him.
“Excellent, Potter!” Professor Flitwick said excitedly. The head of Ravenclaw house had been appointed by Dumbledore to lead the Apparition lessons. Normally someone from the Ministry came to Hogwarts, but he had fled when Voldemort took over the Ministry and nobody knew where he was.
“How did you do that so fast?” Hermione asked.
Harry shrugged. “Maybe it’s easier for me because Dumbledore took me with him a couple of times.” He didn’t really believe that, but he didn’t want Hermione to feel bad. She had had a hard enough time admitting that Harry had been performing better than her in all of their classes.
After the Apparition lesson the sixth year Gryffindors walked back to the common room together. There they joined Ginny, Jacinta and the Creevey brothers, who were looking quite bored.
“I wish we were still allowed to go to Hogsmeade.” Ginny sighed. “I’m bored out of my mind.”
They all knew what she meant. Hogwarts was amazing and they were lucky to be safe here, but it was kind of depressing being cooped up in the castle without being able to leave the grounds once in a while.
That night when everyone else had gone to bed, Harry, Ginny, Ron and Hermione were once again discussing the remaining Horcruxes.
“And Dumbledore really has no idea?” Ron asked.
“Millions of ideas, but no plausible theories.” Harry said tiredly. “If the Horcrux is at Hogwarts, it’s nowhere to find. Dumbledore has looked everywhere.”
“But has he?” Hermione asked. “There may be no person alive who knows Hogwarts better than Dumbledore, but I doubt he knows all the secrets of the school.”
“What about the Room of Requirement?” Ginny asked.
They all fell silent.
“Of course.” Harry muttered finally.
“Why didn’t I think of that?” Hermione said. The other three smirked at her.
“I have to talk to Dumbledore about it.” Harry said and he stood up from his chair, despite the late hour.
“Now?” Hermione asked. “It’s already after midnight.”
“He told me to let him know right away if we thought of something.” Harry said. “Come on, Ginny.”
“You want me to come?” Ginny asked surprised.
“Of course, it was your idea.” Harry said. “Come on, let’s go.”
Harry wasn’t surprised to see that Dumbledore was still wide awake when they entered his office.
“Harry, Ginny.” Dumbledore said. “To what do I owe this pleasure?” He didn’t say anything about the late hour.
“We think we know where the Horcrux might be hidden in the school, Professor.” Harry said.
Dumbledore sat up straight immediately. “Sit down.” he said, motioning to two chairs in front of his desk that a second ago had just been one chair. “Tell me.”
“Well, it was Ginny’s idea, actually.” Harry said, looking at his girlfriend.
“I thought Voldemort may have hidden a Horcrux in the Room of Requirement, sir.” Ginny said nervously.
“The Room of Requirement.” Dumbledore slowly said. “So simple.” He stood up from his chair and started pacing around his office. “That may put us in a difficult position.”
“What do you mean?” Harry asked.
“The Room of Requirement can take the form of anything the user needs. It has over the years taken the form of hundreds, maybe thousands of different rooms.”
“And we don’t know which room Voldemort used…” Harry said hopelessly. “How are we ever going to find it?”
“I will look into it.” Dumbledore said. “Leave it to me. Now I suggest you two go off to bed. I will let you know as soon as I know something.”
The second game of the Quidditch season for Gryffindor was planned on the first Sunday of March, as usual. This year that also happened to be Ron’s birthday.
This would be the first time that Mr and Mrs Weasley would see their youngest two children play as they had been away on Order business when they played Slytherin. The rest of the Weasleys and Remus and Tonks also promised to come an support them.
“Alright team.” Harry said after he had explained the game plan for the match. “Don’t think it will be easy today after we beat Slytherin in the opening match. We made that mistake last year and we nearly lost that game. I want everyone fully concentrated. Smith has formed a strong team this year.“
“They lost from Ravenclaw.” Ron said.
“Yeah, but only by ten points and Ravenclaw is awfully strong.” Ginny told him. “And Cho has become a very talented Seeker. I heard the Holyhead Harpies were thinking of sending a scout this year before… well.”
They all knew what she meant. All the professional Quidditch teams had been shut down when Voldemort took over the country.
“Anyway.” Harry said hastily. “I know we can beat them, but we’ll have to stay focused.”
“Why were you looking at me?” Katie asked as they walked upon the pitch under deafening roars coming from the stands.
“You know why.” Harry grumbled.
Katie laughed. “Don’t worry, captain. I feel I’m having a good day.”
To everyone’s surprise, Professor McGonagall hadn’t searched for a new Quidditch commentator, so Luna’s dreamy commentary was still to be enjoyed.
“Oh look there is Professor Lupin!” Luna suddenly said after failing to report three goals for each team. “He was our Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher in second year. I really like him, he was always very friendly.”
Harry looked at where Remus and Tonks were sitting and smiled when he saw the baffled expressions on their faces.
“He’s getting married to Professor Tonks, you know.” Luna continued. “I’m really happy for them.”
Harry grinned and continued looking for the Snitch. He had noticed that Summerby had decided to shadow him instead of looking for the Snitch himself. He wasn’t the first Seeker to try that tactic against him and Harry wondered why they thought they could beat him when it came to speed.
“Miss Lovegood, I am sure the Blabbering Humdinger is a very interesting creature, but we’d really like to hear something about the match now and then.”
Harry smiled as he heard Professor McGonagall’s tired voice. Apparently the Transfiguration teacher had given up on trying to talk sense into Luna.
“Oh yes, of course.” Luna happily said. “Parvati has stolen that Quaffle quite nicely from that mean Hufflepuff player – “
“I’m sorry, Professor, I forgot his name.” Luna said innocently. “Oh look, Ginny has scored again!”
Katie had scored two more goals when Harry spotted the Snitch. Easily outflying Summerby, Harry caught it a couple of feet above the pitch and immediately jumped of his broom.
“Harry has caught the Snitch!” Luna shouted excitedly. “Well done, Harry! Gryffindor wins with… er…”
“260 to 30.” Professor McGonagall quickly said.
The loss meant that Hufflepuff had been eliminated for the Quidditch Cup, seeing as they were already too far behind Gryffindor. In two weeks Ravenclaw would play against Slytherin. If they won it would be a close call in the final game of the season between Gryffindor and Ravenclaw.
During the next DA meeting, Harry organized a small duelling tournament between all the members. He thought it would be fun and it would be a good way to see how far everyone had progressed. It sounded perfect in theory, but in reality it turned out a bit different.
“Yeah, that’s quite a nasty burn.” Harry said as he inspected Parvati’s arm. “You’d better go to Madam Pomfrey, she has an excellent ointment for burn wounds.”
“I’ll go with her.” Padma said hastily. She had been quite shocked to see what her curse had caused. “I’m so sorry!”
“It’s okay.” Parvati smiled. “But be sure it’s a Death Eater next time.”
“How is your nose, Justin?” Harry asked the Hufflepuff who had come back from the hospital wing a few moments ago.
“Fine.” he assured him. “Madam Pomfrey’s getting a bit annoyed though. I was the fifth one to go down there.”
“Yeah well. She can’t keep acting like I’m her only patient then.” Harry said unconcernedly.
They managed to get to the end of the meeting without further incidents. After talking for a while the DA members started to leave for their respective common rooms.
“Can I help you, Malfoy?” Harry asked a bit suspiciously when he saw the Slytherin hanging about.
“I want to talk to you.”
“Alright…” Harry said slowly.
Malfoy looked at Ginny, Ron and Hermione as if he rather didn’t want to say anything in front of them.
“Whatever you have to say to me you can say in front of them.” Harry said.
“Alright then.” Malfoy shrugged. “It’s about some of those spells you teach us during the meetings.”
“I wondered where you learned them.”
“From Dumbledore, mostly.” Harry said with raised eyebrows. Why?”
“Because I recognized some of them.” Malfoy said.
“I’m sure that’s possible. Most of them are in advanced spell books.”
“That’s not what I mean.” Malfoy said quickly. “I mean some of the more dangerous spells.”
“Well, that curse you used on Rodolphus at Godric’s Hollow for example.”
“Sectumsempra?” Harry asked suspiciously. That was actually one of the curses Snape had taught him and he said he had invented it himself. More people knew the spell, but Harry was sure it couldn’t be found in any spellbook in the Hogwarts library.
“Yes.” Malfoy said. “I found it. In a book.”
“That’s impossible. No spellbook would have that curse in it.”
“It wasn’t a spellbook, it was a Potions book.” Malfoy said. “I found it last year in one of the cabinets in the Potions dungeon. It had all these spells and tips for Potions in it.”
“You mean someone wrote it in the book?” Hermione asked.
Malfoy nodded. Harry looked at his three best friends. They all knew Snape had taught him those spells.
“Do you still have that book?” Harry asked.
Malfoy shook his head. “I got rid of it. It gave me the creeps for some reason and Crabbe and Goyle found it once when I was still staying in the Slytherin dormitories. It didn’t seem to be a good idea for them to know about some things that were in there. With their brains it would surely mean trouble . And they probably would have used those spells against me.”
“Do you know who the book belonged to?”
“No. It says that it is the property of the Half-Blood Prince. That’s why I asked you about it, I wouldn’t mind knowing who he was.”
A look of understanding came over Harry’s face. “Sorry, Malfoy. I’ll talk to you later, okay?”
Malfoy shrugged and left the Room of Requirement.
“So Snape was taking glory for another man’s work then?” Ron asked smugly.
“You don’t know that.” Hermione said.
“Do you think that book belonged to him?” Ginny asked Harry.
“Snape is a halfblood.” Harry said slowly. Snape never talked about his private life or his past, but practicing Occlumency and Legilimency for all this time had given Harry quite an insight in the Potions master’s life.
“A lot of wizards are.” Ron said.
“His mother’s name was Eileen Prince.”
“Then it must be him!” Hermione said.
“It does make sense when Malfoy found the book in his classroom.” Ginny admitted.
“And Snape didn’t miss it all this time?” Ron said sceptically.
“Maybe he didn’t want to tell anyone.” Harry said. “Or he hasn’t even noticed yet. I doubt he checks if the book is still there every few weeks.”
“Yes, but Malfoy found it last year…”
Harry shrugged. “I’ll ask him tomorrow, I have Legilimency anyway.”
Asking Snape about the book wasn’t as easy as Harry had thought. Snape was still quite an intimidating figure.
“Something on your mind, Potter?” Snape asked when Harry didn’t react on his demand to attack his mind. Harry quickly averted his eyes from Snape’s and the Potions master smirked. “Don’t bother. I haven’t been able to look into your mind for a long time now.”
“I just wondered…” Harry said carefully. “If you ever had a nickname when you were at school.”
Snape narrowed his eyes. He quickly glanced at the cabinet against the left wall and Harry realized he already knew what he was on about. “What are you getting at, Potter?”
Harry decided to just come out and say it. “Malfoy found your book.”
Snape quickly walked over to the cabinet to check if Harry was telling the truth. When he saw he had been right Snape cursed.
“How do you know this?”
Harry told him everything Malfoy had told him the day before.
“Well, I guess it’s a good thing that it was Malfoy who found it and not someone from the other side. Although I doubt there are still a lot of spells in there that the Death Eaters don’t know…”
He remained silent for a few moments before he said: “You said Malfoy had hidden the book somewhere?”
“Make sure he gets it back and gives it to you. Once you have it, you bring it to me. I will make sure it’s destroyed.”
“Why me?” Harry asked. He knew Snape had always been Malfoy’s favourite teacher. The Slytherin wouldn’t think of disobeying if Snape asked him something.
“Because it wouldn’t do good for Malfoy to know that that book was mine. And Malfoy trusts you.”
Harry laughed at this last remark. “Malfoy trusts me?”
“I don’t know how that happened either, but yes.” Snape said dryly. “Make sure you do it fast.”
“Good afternoon, class.”
Kingsley’s deep, friendly voice immediately quieted the sixth years that were happily talking among each other.
“We will take a break from duelling and attacking each other for a while. In the next few lessons I will teach you about other threats that may put us in danger in the near future. As it is, Voldemort does not only have an enormous army of Death Eaters behind him, he also has control over a lot of beings and non-beings to do his bidding. Examples?”
“Dementors.” Seamus offered.
“Indeed.” Kingsley said. “One of the two main groups of non-humans that serve Voldemort. Any idea what the other one is?”
“The Werewolves?” Neville said carefully.
“Quite right.” Kingsley said encouragingly.
“But Professor Lupin is a Werewolf.” Lavender said uncomprehendingly. “And he is on our side, isn’t he?”
“He definitely is.” Kingsley agreed. “Of course there is the occasional Werewolf who tries to live a normal life and doesn’t turn to the Dark Arts, but most of the Werewolves live in the marginality of our society. Voldemort offers them prey and that is bait they can’t refuse.”
“The Werewolves joined Voldemort primarily because of Fenrir Greyback. He was the most vicious Werewolf alive and he was known to enjoy attacking little children, even when there wasn’t a full moon.”
A shuddering went through the class.
“But Greyback’s dead now and the members of the Order of the Phoenix have been trying to make friendly contact with some of the Werewolves again.”
Harry wondered if Snape was still working with the Werewolves or that Remus had already given it a shot.
“But I think you are considerably informed about Werewolves and Dementors already.” Kingsley continued. “Today we will talk about a creature that I think you are not so familiar with.” He waved his wand towards the blackboard and an image appeared. It was a man – clearly dead – but still walking stumbling and apparently readying himself to attack.
“What’s that?” Lavender asked disgustedly.
“An Inferius.” Kingsley said simply.
“Looks like a Zombie.” Dean said.
“Can anyone tell me… Hermione, of course!” Kingsley laughed. “Go ahead.”
“Inferi are dead bodies animated by a dark wizard to do its bidding.” Hermione said quickly.
“Exactly like a Zombie then.” Dean said.
“Not quite, Dean.” Kingsley said. “Indeed Inferi are quite similar to what Muggles call ‘Zombies’, but like Hermione said Inferi aren’t naturally formed, but created by a dark wizard. Now I’d like you to start taking notes.”
The students hurriedly searched for parchment and quills while Kingsley started his lecture.
“The word Inferius comes from the Latin word ‘Inferus’ , which means the dead or the underworld. Inferi are created through a branch of the Dark Arts called Necromancy. Necromancy is the art of reversing death. It’s a branch of magic that has never actually worked. Although it is possible to create dark creatures like Inferi and Charmed Skeletons, these are merely mindless creatures that follow the bidding of their creator.”
“Basic duelling skills and defensive magic won’t do you much good when you deal with Inferi. As they are unfeeling dead bodies, they are immune to wounds. It is possible to stun or petrify an Inferius, but as they nearly always attack in large groups, this won’t do you much good either. Furthermore, Inferi have great physical strength. They are much stronger than humans and are capable of killing them barehanded.”
Kingsley waved to the blackboard again and images appeared of people who had been attacked by Inferi.
“Inferi like a dark and cold atmosphere. That is what you have to keep in mind when you would ever deal with them. Harry, how would you protect yourself from an Inferi attack, knowing what I just told you about them?”
Harry was a bit surprised Kingsley picked him and he couldn’t really concentrate as Hermione was hopping up and down next to him with her hand raised high in the air.
“Er. Fire?” Harry said after a few moments.
“Exactly.” Kingsley smiled at him. “As Inferi usually attack in such large groups, a simple Incendio spell will not be enough to save your skin. What you can use are the following…”
They spend the rest of the lesson practicing different spells to chase away Inferi.
“Excellent lesson.” Hermione said satisfied when they walked to the Great Hall for lunch.
“Our Defence Against the Dark Arts teachers sure are an improvement since Lockhart.” Ron agreed. “Even Moody was alright, considering it wasn’t really him.”
“I can’t believe they never found out who it was.” Neville said. “But I guess he must have been awfully smart if he could fool Dumbledore for a year.”
“Snape reckoned it was Barty Crouch Jr.” Harry said softly, so only his three friends would hear. Not everyone knew Snape had been spying for the Order for a year after Voldemort came back. “Voldemort never actually said it, but it was quite clear according to him.”
They were downstairs just in time to see Malfoy about to enter the Great Hall.
“Oi, Malfoy!” Harry called.
Malfoy turned around to see who called and waited for them.
“That book you found last year, can I have it if you don’t keep it?” Harry asked.
Malfoy shrugged. “Sure.”
“You still know where you hid it right?”
“I think so…” Malfoy said slowly.
“What do you mean, ‘you think so’?” Ron asked with raised eyebrows.
“Where did you hide it?” said Harry.
“In the Room of Requirement.”
“In the DA headquarters?”
“No, in the room where everything’s hidden.” Malfoy said.
“The room where everything’s – “
Realization suddenly hit Harry and he quickly looked at Ron and Hermione, who had the same excited look in their eyes.
“You cannot defeat your enemies until you know who they are” – Anthony Horowitz (Crocodile Tears)
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