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Chapter 18 : House-Elves and Family
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Harry woke up late the next morning as it was well after midnight when he came back from the Forbidden Forest. When he came downstairs he saw that his friends weren’t in the Gryffindor common room. Thinking that they probably decided to visit their family, like they often did on Sundays, he made his way to the Weasleys’ living quarters.
“Oh good morning, Harry!” Mrs Weasley said when she saw him. “Did you sleep well? Ginny told us you went to negotiate with the Centaurs last night.”
“A curious kind, aren’t they?” Mr Weasley said. “You should have heard the stories Percy heard from his friends at the Department of Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures.”
Harry smiled at the Weasley patriarch. It was the first time he had heard him mention his deceased son since his death last summer.
“They sure are.” he said. “But I must say that it went better than I expected.”
“How did it go?” Hermione asked eagerly.
“Well, I talked to their leader and I seemed to have gotten through to him.” Harry said, walking over to the table. Breakfast was still on the table and the smell of sausages made his stomach growl. “Can I?” he asked Mrs Weasley.
“Oh, yes of course dear.” she said hurriedly. “You must be starving.”
“So are they going to fight with us?” Ginny asked as she handed Harry some French toast.
“It won’t be that easy, I’m afraid. They like to think a lot before they decide something. But he seemed to realize that the war would affect the Centaurs too if Voldemort would gain control over the school. It seemed to me that he was prepared to fight.”
“But…?” Hermione asked, sensing that there was more to the problem.
“They know that this war isn’t just between wizards any more, but they don’t want to fight if they are the only magical creatures that do.”
“Do you mean…”
“They want the House-Elves and the Goblins to fight too.”
“They can’t be serious! House-Elves are completely different than Centaurs. They can’t fight.” Hermione said heatedly.
“I don’t know, Hermione.” Fred spoke up. “House-Elves are actually very powerful if they want to be. They just don’t use their magic unless their masters want to.”
“So you’re saying that you want them to fight?”
“No, I don’t want anyone to fight.” Harry said firmly. “But it’s true that this is not just a war between wizards, Hermione. This concerns our entire world.”
“What about the Goblins then?” Hermione asked sceptically. “You surely don’t expect them to agree to fight?”
“I wouldn’t be so sure of that.” Bill said thoughtfully. “Normally, Goblins don’t meddle in wars between wizards, but even when I still worked there they already realized this wouldn’t be just a wizarding war. And now that You-Know-Who has taken over the country they are even forced to work with wizards at the bank. It won’t be long before they will be driven out of Gringotts if You-Know-Who stays in charge.”
“Do you think they would be prepared to fight?” Harry asked.
“Maybe. It’s hard to know what drives them most of the time. It would certainly not be out of loyalty for wizards. If they fight it will only be for themselves.”
“I don’t think that’s a problem.” Harry said slowly. “We need allies, not servants. It would be the same if the Centaurs decided to fight with us.”
“I could make contact with them.” Bill offered. “I still have some friends among them.”
Harry nodded. “That would be great, Bill. Thanks.”
The Weasleys and Hermione got into a discussion about the various magical creatures in the country and their rights and duties. Harry chose to stay out of the conversation and used the time to quietly finish his breakfast.
“I’ve been thinking, Harry.” Fleur suddenly said after a while. “You’re absolutely right when you say this war doesn’t just concern witches and wizards. But I think it also doesn’t concern just this country.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, you know I’m from France. And people are following the developments in Great Britain with great interest. They know He Who Must Not Be Named will not stop trying to expand his power once he has full control here. The people of Europe know that the war may come their way.”
“Well, we’ll try to make sure it doesn’t go that far, won’t we?” Harry said confusedly.
“That’s not really what I meant.” Fleur smiled. “I was trying to say that there are probably a lot of people on the continent that would be prepared to come and fight with us.”
“Really?” Harry said surprised. “I didn’t even think of that.”
“I could get in touch with Madame Maxime.” Fleur offered. “She is in an excellent position to make contact with possible allies.”
“Yeah, absolutely. That would be great, Fleur!”
“What about Durmstrang?” Ginny said.
“Are you barking mad!” Ron said. “They’d probably end up fighting with Voldemort if they come here.”
“Not all the people that went to Durmstrang are dark wizards, Ron.” Mr Weasley said. “Sure Karkaroff was a Death Eater once, but he would never go back to them.”
“Yeah, because he know he would be killed.” Ron said.
“Krum is alright.” Harry said. “I’m sure he wouldn’t turn to the dark side.”
Fleur nodded agreeingly. “We could write him.” she said.
“What about other countries?” Hermione asked.
“Charlie is travelling to Hogwarts as we speak.” Mr Weasley said. “And he said that a lot of Romanian wizards where coming with him.”
“How are they getting here?” Harry asked.
“Brooms. Flying is the only way to get into the country now.” Mrs Weasley explained.
“So we are going to have wizards from all over Europe coming here to fight in a war?” Ron said unbelievingly. “That’s madness.”
“Well, this might just be the biggest battle the wizarding world has ever seen.” Mr Weasley said softly.
Harry looked at Hermione, who was the only one there who knew anything about Muggle history. “Are you ready for World War III?”
“I still think it’s wrong to order them to fight for us.” Hermione said.
Harry, Ginny, Ron, Hermione, Neville and Luna were approaching the painting of the fruit bowl that hid the entrance to the Hogwarts kitchens. They had received permission from Professor McGonagall and Mad-Eye to talk with the House-Elves about the battle.
“We’re not ordering them, we’re asking them.” Harry said firmly. “There’s a difference.”
“We’ll make sure that they understand that they have a choice.” Ginny said soothingly.
Harry tickled the pear on the painting and entered the kitchen with the others in his wake.
“Master Harry!” Dobby said immediately. He had started to call Harry master since he had stayed with him at Grimmauld Place. In Dobby’s mind, he was now Harry’s servant, however Harry might say differently. The little Elf hurried over to them. “How can Dobby be of service, sir?”
“Actually, we came here to talk to the House-Elves about the war, Dobby.” Harry said nervously. He didn’t know how Dobby would react. “Do you have some kind of representative for the Elves at Hogwarts?”
“Polly is in charge over the Hogwarts House-Elves, sir. Follow Dobby.” The little Elf quickly made his way through the kitchen with the six students in his wake.
“Polly.” he suddenly said, pointing to a female House-Elf who was apparently supervising the preparation of dinner.
The elderly House-Elf looked at them when she heard her name and quickly walked towards them. “Good afternoon, Sirs and Misses. How can Polly be of service?”
“Good afternoon, Polly.” Harry said politely. “We came to talk about the war that is currently threatening us. I’m sure you know about that?”
Polly nodded eagerly. “Polly knows that He Who Must Not Be Named has taken over the country and is planning to attack the school.”
“Indeed.” Harry said, not asking how the House-Elf knew so much. “This war has escalated to the extent that it does not only affect witches and wizards. All magical creatures are in grave danger as long as He Who Must Not Be Named is powerful.” He deliberately avoided saying Voldemort’s name as he didn’t think Polly would handle it so well.
“Us House-Elves will do whatever our masters ask from us.” Polly said quickly. “If masters want us to fight then we will.”
“We’re not here to order you to fight for us, Polly.” Harry said. “We are here to ask you to be our allies.”
“Allies?” Polly said uncomprehendingly. “Do you mean like… equals?” She almost whispered the last word.
“Exactly like equals.” Hermione said firmly.
Polly shuffled her feet uncomfortably. She wasn’t used to witches or wizards treating her as equals, but she seemed to have less difficulty with it than other younger Hogwarts House-Elves Harry had met.
“The House-Elves will do whatever it takes to keep the school and its inhabitants safe.” Polly said proudly after a long silence. “We will use every power of our kind to defeat the dark forces that try to attack Hogwarts.”
Dobby clapped his hands excitedly when she said that. “Dobby will fight too, Master Harry! Dobby will protect his friends with his life!”
“I really appreciate that, Dobby, but I don’t want anything to happen to you.” Harry said. “You keep yourself safe first.”
When Dobby was escorting the six friends to the exit of the kitchen, Hermione suddenly stopped walking and gasped. “Winky!”
Harry followed her gaze and surely there was Winky, washing dishes. She was still wearing the same clothes that she was wearing the last time they saw her, the only difference being that they were perfectly clean now. Hermione walked over to her and the others followed.
“How are you doing, Winky?”
“Miss Granger!” Winky squealed excitedly. “Winky is doing very good, thank you. Dobby has taken good care of Winky.”
“Did he now?” Harry smiled.
“Oh yes. Dobby is a very good Elf, Harry Potter, a very good Elf indeed.” Apparently she had changed her opinion of Dobby drastically too.
“That is good to hear.”
“It’s good to see you so happy, Winky.” Hermione said approvingly.
“Winky is very happy, Miss Granger. Professor Dumbledore has always been very good to Winky.” She suddenly grew sad when she mentioned Dumbledore and her ears lowered for a bit.
“We House-Elves were all really sad when we heard about Professor Dumbledore’s passing, Sirs and Misses.” Dobby said sadly. “Professor Dumbledore was a very good master. He always treated us kindly and with respect.”
The two Elves remained quiet with their heads bowed for a few moments as if silently paying their respects to the fallen headmaster. “But Professor McGonagall is a very good mistress too.” Winky said. “We all hope she will be appointed the position of headmistress after this year.”
“So do we, Winky.” Ginny smiled.
“That went well.” Ron said as they were going back to the Gryffindor common room.
“Of course it went well.” Hermione said heatedly. “You could ask them to jump of the Astronomy Tower and they would do it.”
“We made perfectly clear that they can choose for themselves if they want to fight or not, Hermione.” Harry said calmly.
Hermione shrugged. “I guess you’re right. This war concerns them too.”
When they reached the fifth floor, Harry turned to the others. “I’m going to stop by Remus and Tonks before dinner. I haven’t been there in quite some time.” He grabbed Ginny’s hands and took her with him towards their room while the others made their way to the seventh floor.
When they entered Remus and Tonks’ living quarters they saw that they already had a visitor.
“I’m sorry.” Harry said. “I didn’t know you’d have company. We can come back later.”
“Don’t be silly.” Tonks smiled. “Come in! It’s always great to see you two.”
“Everything alright, Harry?” Remus asked.
“Alright.” Harry grinned. “We’re just coming from the kitchen.” he said as they sat down on an unoccupied couch.
“You talked with the House-Elves then?” Tonks asked eagerly. “How did it go?”
“They agreed to fight.” Harry said.
“I did think they would be the easiest to convince.” Remus nodded.
When he had said that the woman that was visiting them cleared her throat.
“Oh yeah of course, I’m sorry.” Tonks said hurriedly. “This is my mother, Andromeda Tonks. Mum, this is Harry Potter and his lovely girlfriend, Ginny Weasley.”
Andromeda smiled as she shook their hands. “It’s great to finally meet you. Remus and Dora have told me so much about you two.”
“It’s great to meet you too, Mrs Tonks.” Harry said. “We were very sorry to hear about your husband.” he added.
“Thank you, Harry.” Mrs Tonks said. “It did come as quite a shock.”
Tonks put her arm around her mother’s shoulders.
“So when did you get here?” Ginny asked.
“Well ever since Ted was killed, I have been in hiding myself.” Mrs Tonks explained. “I may be a pureblood, but marrying a Muggleborn has put me in a difficult position in the current climate. When I received the news that Death Eaters had gotten into the school and that Dumbledore… Well, I decided to come here and play my part. It is no secret in the outside world that He Who Must Not Be Named is planning a full blown attack on the school. The Ministry has been discrediting Hogwarts for months.”
Harry and Ginny ended up having dinner with Remus and Tonks and Andromeda. When they had finished dinner they sat down in front of the fireplace and had tea. Harry enjoyed the evening tremendously. It was the first time that he really felt like being a part of a family.
It was the first time in weeks that he could just relax for a while without being bothered instantly. At least until someone knocked on Remus and Tonks’ door.
“I thought you would be here.” Professor McGonagall said when she saw Harry. “Bill Weasley is looking for you, Harry. He needs to talk to you.”
“While we try to teach our children all about life, our children teach us what life is all about.” – Angela Schwindt
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