Chapter 14 : Preparing for Battle
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After consulting with his friends, Harry decided to tell the members of Dumbledore’s Army what Dumbledore had told him, or at least part of it. He wasn’t sure of it first because he didn’t want to cause any panic, but finally he realized it was better that his friends were prepared for what was coming so they could decide for themselves if they wanted to be a part of it.
After their meeting on Saturday afternoon, Harry asked everyone to stay and told them about the final battle that was approaching.
“Voldemort will attack Hogwarts?” Hannah asked flabbergasted. “But that’s awful! What about all the younger students?” She quickly glanced at Dennis and Jacinta.
“Dumbledore reckons they will be safe in the Room of Requirement.” Harry said. “And so will all the older students be who don’t want to fight.”
“Here we go.” Seamus muttered to Dean. Dean grinned knowingly.
“Now I want you to realize that none of you are forced to fight when the time comes.”
“Cut it, Harry.” Terry Boot advised him.
“No, you have to know this.” Harry said seriously. “This won’t be like the attacks on Hogsmeade and Grimmauld Place or even the battle at Godric’s Hollow. Voldemort will come after me with his entire army of Death Eaters, plus a range of the darkest creatures known to wizardkind.”
“Do you think we don’t realize that?” Dean asked.
“We all know what Voldemort is capable of Harry. And his Death Eaters.” Neville said softly.
Harry looked at the members of the DA. Each and every one of them, even Zacharias en Malfoy, had proven they had the guts to fight. He knew it won’t do any good trying to convince them to save their own lives.
When everyone started to leave Harry walked over to Malfoy. “Do you think you could show me where you hid that book now.”
“Alright.” Malfoy said. “But we’ll all have to leave first. The Room won’t work if there are still people in it.”
They waited until everyone had left for their respective dormitories and then Harry and Malfoy left the Room of Requirement, accompanied by Ginny, Ron, Hermione, Neville and Luna. They waited until Malfoy had summoned the room where he had hidden the book. Then they entered the Room of Requirement again that had now taken the form of the room with all the lost objects where they had found Rowena Ravenclaw’s diadem.
“Let me think.” Malfoy said.
It took him a while before he found the place where he had hidden the book. Finally, he opened a wooden box that was standing on a pile of worn out books. He opened it and handed the book to Harry. Harry opened the book curiously. He couldn’t help but smile when he saw the nickname Snape had apparently fashioned himself when he was at Hogwarts.
“The Half-Blood Prince.” he muttered.
“Sure thought a lot of himself, didn’t he.” Ron said.
“You know who it is then?” Malfoy said perceptively.
“No.” Harry said quickly. He sensed that Malfoy didn’t believe him, but the Slytherin didn’t insist.
When Malfoy had made his way downstairs towards his room, Harry turned to his friends. “I’d better take this back to Snape immediately.”
“This book belonged to Snape?” Neville said surprised.
Harry nodded. “But don’t tell anyone, okay? It won’t be good if too many people knew about it.”
When Harry entered Snape’s office he was surprised to see that the Potions master wasn’t alone. He had apparently been talking with Remus ,Dumbledore, McGonagall, Moody and Kingsley.
“How are you, Harry?” Remus asked friendly.
“Fine.” Harry smiled. “I came to give you your book back, Professor.” he said to Snape.
“Ah, thanks Potter.” Snape said. He took the book from Harry and put it in a drawer of his desk without further comment. The curious faces of the others told Harry that Snape hadn’t told anyone about the book and Malfoy finding it.
“Well, I’ll go then.”
“Actually, Potter, your arrival is most opportune.” Snape said.
“I was just about to call Dobby to fetch you.” Remus said.
“We wanted to discuss something with you.” Dumbledore added.
Snape gave a lazy flick with his wand and another wooden chair appeared. “Sit down, Potter.”
Harry sat down on the chair a bit nervously. He wondered what the most important members of the Order of the Phoenix had to talk to him about.
“I have informed the members of the Order of the Phoenix about the information I already told you about.” Dumbledore explained. “Am I right if I suppose you have informed the members of Dumbledore’s Army as well?”
“Yes.” Harry said. “Part of it. I thought they should be warned.”
“You were quite right.” Dumbledore said. “And their reaction was?”
“They want to stay here to fight. All of them.”
Dumbledore nodded as if he hadn’t expected anything else.
“Are you sure that is wise, Potter?” McGonagall asked. “I understand that you will not let Miss Malfoy and the youngest Creevey fight, but the others… I am sure they are all capable and brave students, but all of them are underage, except for a few exceptions.”
“No, I’m not sure, Professor.” Harry said. “But I can’t make that decision for them.”
“The group may be called Dumbledore’s Army, but the members are especially loyal to you.” McGonagall tried to persuade him. “They trust you blindly and if they fight it would be for you. If you would tell them to bring themselves to safety, I’m sure they would – “
“But I won’t.” Harry interrupted her. “I’m sorry Professor, but you’re right, they are extremely loyal to me. If they are loyal enough to fight with me, not for me, I won’t forbid them. I may have given them an opportunity by forming the DA, but it’s not for me that they are fighting. They are fighting for their own lives and their freedom. And all of their families and friends.”
McGonagall clearly didn’t agree with him, but Harry received help of an unexpected source.
“They are ready for this, Minerva.” Moody said gruffly. “I have seen them fight on three occasions before. Those teenagers have more guts than most of the adults I know. Their assistance during the battle will be of vital importance to the Order and the remaining Aurors.”
“Agreed.” Kingsley said. “I’m not thrilled to have teenagers fighting in this war either, Minerva. But we cannot shield them from everything anymore. They have a mind of their own.”
Harry looked at Remus. The werewolf sighed deeply before he said something. “I’m afraid they are right. We will need every wand possible.”
McGonagall looked at Snape, hoping to find a partner in her protest. “I believe Dumbledore’s Army would be a valuable asset in any battle.” the Potions master said softly. “I have heard more than once that Potter’s calm and efficient assessment of a situation has been effective on various occasions. Especially when the Death Eaters attacked Hogsmeade last year.”
“Well, I see I’m outnumbered.” McGonagall said. “And I accept the decision of the Order. But I still think it’s a bad idea.”
Harry felt rather guilty when he looked at the head of Gryffindor house. He had always liked McGonagall. She may be strict and often short-tempered, but Harry knew she had a good heart and she always had the best interest of her students at heart.
After a short silence, Dumbledore cleared his throat. “Well then. It has always been my belief that we can only defeat the forces that threaten us by showing unity and therefore I think it is only fitting that Dumbledore’s Army and the Order of the Phoenix will be working together as leading forces of the castle’s defence.”
He paused. When no one objected he carried on. “I think it would be best if we have an Order meeting where every member is present and invite the DA members too. That way we can discuss our plan of defence and assign tasks to certain people.”
When all of them agreed, Dumbledore dismissed them. Harry and Remus left the dungeons and climbed the marble staircases. When they had reached the fifth floor where Remus had been living with Tonks for the previous months, the werewolf turned to Harry.
“I can’t tell you how proud I am of everything you have done and of the way you have led Dumbledore’s Army, Harry. You are one of the bravest people I have ever known… But be careful. I don’t think I would be able to handle it if I lost you too.”
Harry looked at Remus’ lined face and felt a wave of compassion for him. This man had always been shunned because of something he had no control over. But still he had fought his entire life to do the right thing, losing almost everything he held dear.
“I will be.” Harry said reassuringly. He walked towards his friend and gave him a firm hug. “But you don’t disappear on me either.”
“I’m not going anywhere.”
I’m a godfather! Today, Friday 31st of July 1980, Harry James Potter was born. I was kind of surprised when Lily and James asked me to be Harry’s godfather. I’m happy of course, but I always thought they would ask Remus to do it. He’s the most responsible of us all, after all. He didn’t really seem upset about it, but Lily and James assured him that it would be his turn next time. Lily wants to have a daughter at all costs. I hope she doesn’t have to wait as long as the Weasleys. Molly and Arthur had their sixth son last March. It certainly would make babysitting quite a bigger challenge. One baby already seems enough work to me…
“Harry? Everyone is here.” Hermione said.
Harry looked up. He was sitting in one of the armchairs in the Room of Requirement. He had been so absorbed in one of the diaries Sirius had left him in his will that he hadn’t realized that all the members of the DA had arrived for what they thought would be a normal meeting.
“Hi everyone.” Harry said quickly, walking over to where the students were waiting for him. “We won’t be practicing today, I’m afraid.”
“Why not?” several voices said.
“Well, since you have all so admirably showed your willingness to help defend the castle when the final battle comes, Professor Dumbledore decided to invite us to a meeting of the Order of the Phoenix. He wants to make some plans so we will be ready when the day comes.”
Most of the DA members seemed excited and impressed that they would be attending a meeting with the legendary Order of the Phoenix.
“They are expecting us…” Harry quickly checked his watch. “In fifteen minutes. So, we’d better go.”
“Where is the meeting, Harry?” Dean asked when he realized they weren’t going to Dumbledore’s office.
“It’s in classroom eleven. The entire Order of the Phoenix will be there, plus all of us. It would be a bit too crowded in the headmaster's office.”
When they arrived downstairs, Harry knocked on the door of the unused classroom and entered. “Hi everyone.” he said when he saw the entire Order was already there, seated around a large wooden table.
“Good evening, Harry.” Dumbledore said pleasantly. He was seated at the head of the table. “So, did you bring the rest of the DA?”
“Yes, Professor.” he motioned for the members to come in. They entered the room a bit apprehensively, but were quickly reassured by Dumbledore’s friendly smile.
“Thank you for coming, all of you. We really appreciate it. Please, sit down.”
After Dumbledore introduced everyone he started the meeting.
“We all know why we are here. Lord Voldemort has enhanced his powers to the extent that even Hogwarts will not be safe anymore one of these days. It has been brought to my attention by a reliable source that Voldemort will be attacking this school at full force in the near future. We have no other place to go, so we will have to stand up and defend our freedom right here.”
“You want to fight a battle at Hogwarts?” Hestia Jones asked, looking fearful.
“No, I most definitely do not want to fight a battle at Hogwarts.” Dumbledore said. “Actually, I do not want to fight a battle anywhere, but I do not think that we have a choice in the matter.”
He paused. Dumbledore let the silence linger a bit before he carried on.
“When the time comes, our first concern will be bringing the younger students to safety. Harry, am I right if I assume I can count on you and your members to take care of that?”
“Absolutely.” Harry nodded. “The Room of Requirement will be safe enough.”
“Thank you.” Dumbledore said gracefully. “I think we do have to permit every student from the top two years to help us if they want to. We will need all the help we can get. The defence of the castle will be led by the members of the Order and the members of the DA.”
“The members of the DA?” said Sturgis Podmore condescendingly. “They’re teenagers.”
“Those teenagers have proven just as much as you have over the last months, Podmore.” Moody said sharply. “And some of them a lot more.”
Podmore wanted to say something back, but Dumbledore raised his hands.
“Now Kingsley and Nymphadora, I think it would be best if the two of you take command of the remaining Aurors.”
Kingsley and Tonks nodded in agreement. Tonks had a defiant expression on her face, like she usually had when someone dared to call her by her first name.
“Mad-Eye, you will be in charge during battle. You are the most experienced and accomplished duellist.” Dumbledore continued.
“What about you, Albus?” Mrs Weasley asked.
“I will be otherwise occupied.” Dumbledore merely said. He looked at Harry, who nodded. They had already agreed that the two of them together had the best chance to get close enough to Nagini to kill her.
Dumbledore proceeded the meeting, giving specific orders to certain people. He appointed several people to guard the Room of Requirement to protect the younger students.
“What about the secret passageways?” Harry asked suddenly. “There are still two of them that can be used.”
Regulus nodded. “I entered the school through the passageway from Honeydukes.” he said to Dumbledore.
“Indeed.” Dumbledore said. “After the Ministry has fallen I have made sure that they can’t be used anymore. They have both been closed off from the entrances in Hogsmeade. I secured the passageway from the Shrieking Shack myself and the owner of Honeydukes has closed off the one in his cellar on my request.”
“It wouldn’t be a bad idea to guard them anyway.” Harry said. “Just in case.”
“Agreed.” Snape said. “No defence is flawless, especially against our current enemies.”
“Seems like a job for us.” Fred said, looking at George and Lee.
“Very well.” Dumbledore said. “Furthermore – “
The door suddenly banged open and Professor Flitwick stormed inside, panting heavily and grabbing his chest. “Albus!” he said. “Thank Merlin, I found you!”
“What is it, Filius?”
“I just went to Hogsmeade to visit my good friend Barnabas Cuffe and his wife Cornelia.” Flitwick said. “When I got there, the door to the shop was open. I entered and…”
Harry’s insides turned to ice when he saw the distress in the eyes of the tiny Charms Professor.
“Are they – “
Flitwick nodded. He looked like he could be bursting into tears any moment now. “They were both killed.”
“Was the Dark Mark above the shop?” Dumbledore asked urgently.
“No.” Professor Flitwick said. “That’s what struck me too. If it were Death Eaters they would have casted it. Unless…”
“Unless they wouldn’t want to attract attention.” Harry said fearfully. “Professor!”
“I know, Harry.” Dumbledore said. “Everyone follow me to the third floor. We have reason to believe that Death Eaters have gotten into the school.”
“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” – Benjamin Franklin
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