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Chapter 20 : Allies
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“Good evening, Harry Potter. It is good to see you again.”
“It is good to see you too, Magorian.” Harry said politely. Hagrid had again guided him through the forest towards the Centaur village. He had attracted a lot of attention again when he walked through the village, but this time the Centaurs seemed to be less surprised to see him. Magorian must have told all of them about the reason he had been here last time.
“I have taken your request into consideration and I have conferred with some of the most aged and most wise Centaurs of our herd.”
Harry didn’t break the silence that followed, waiting for Magorian to carry on.
“I assume that you have gone with the same request to the House-Elves and the Goblins?” Magorian asked.
“We have.” Harry said. “The House-Elves agreed to be our allies during the battle, but the Goblins…”
“Will not fight.” Magorian finished his sentence. “I expected that it would be a fruitless attempt.”
“They told me that about approaching the Centaurs too.” Harry said. “Were they also right?”
Magorian raised his head proudly. “No. We have decided to do what we have to do to keep peace in our Forest.”
“That is great news!” Harry said.
“I want to make something clear now.” Magorian said firmly. “We have agreed to fight alongside humans. Something we have never done before. But we will not allow any witch or wizard to give us orders. Is that clear?”
“Of course, Magorian.” Harry said quickly. “You can be sure of that.”
“Then we have an understanding.” Magorian said stately. Harry almost made to shake the Centaur’s hand, but remembered just in time what Hagrid had told him last time they came here. He chose to just follow Magorian’s example, who was bowing slightly towards him.
“Thank you for your time, Magorian.” Harry said. “I really appreciate it.”
“You are welcome, Harry Potter. Perhaps I will see you again. We will know when the time comes.”
Harry left Magorian’s hut and Abaccus guided him back to the gates of the village. A lot of Centaurs were watching them as they walked through the village. Most of them nodded when they saw Harry, with an unperturbed, but not unfriendly face. Some of them, however were watching him disapprovingly and murmured between their teeth when he passed.
“It is outrageous.” a deep voice came from Harry’s right. “Centaurs have never before meddled in wars between humans. We are above such brute violence.”
Harry looked to his right and saw that it was Bane, the black-haired Centaur that he had met in the Forbidden Forest during his first year. Next to him stood Ronan.
“Magorian has done what he thought best.” Ronan said calmly.
Harry quickly walked on and was glad when he reached the gates where Hagrid was waiting for him. They thanked Abaccus for his help and quickly left the Centaur village. Hagrid was euphoric when Harry told him that the Centaurs would be fighting in the battle.
“They are great warriors, Harry, don’t you underestimate them.” he said determinedly. “They’ll be of great help.”
When Harry was on his way back to the Gryffindor common room, he ran into Ginny, Ron and Hermione.
“Oh you’re already back!” Ginny said excitedly. “How did it go?”
“Good, actually.” Harry said. “The Centaurs are fighting.”
“That’s amazing, Harry!” Hermione said, smiling widely at him. “You must have really made an impression on them.”
“How’s that?” Harry asked. “I just went and talked to Magorian.”
“Centaurs have never been known to fight in a war, Harry.” Hermione said. “This will be an important event in magical history.”
“Yeah, well…” Harry said. “Where are you guys going anyway?”
“Mum and Dad.” Ron said. “Charlie has arrived. We wanted to go say hello. You coming?”
After they had spent some time with the Weasley family, the four of them returned to the common room. The room was almost empty. The only two people sitting in front of the fire were Jacinta and Dennis Creevey. They both seemed to be rather embarrassed when they saw the older students.
Ginny looked at Harry with raised eyebrows. Harry shrugged. “Don’t ask me.” he mumbled.
“Hey, guys, what’s up?” Ron asked, grinning broadly. The four older students plumped down in seats close to Jacinta and Dennis.
“Not much.” Dennis said softly. He was watching Harry nervously.
“Wow, this is really awkward!” Ron said, still with a wide grin on his face.
“Oh, would you relax.” Ginny smiled as she watched the embarrassment of the two younger students.
“We’re not your parents.” Hermione said.
“Who would have thought.” Ginny mused when Jacinta and Dennis had gone to their dormitories.
“Well, it kind of makes sense really.” Hermione said. “They have been spending a lot of time together, being the two youngest members of the DA.”
“You don’t think that they are serious, don’t you?” Harry said. “Jacinta’s only thirteen years old.”
“I was still thirteen years old when we started dating.” Ginny said with raised eyebrows. “Wasn’t it serious for you?”
“Of course it was.” Harry said quickly. “But that was different. And you were almost fourteen.”
Ginny shrugged. “I think it’s great. Dennis is a good kid. And just imagine old Lucius’ face if he finds out his only daughter is dating a Muggleborn.”
“It does have its perks.” Harry admitted.
Harry decided to continue reading Sirius’ diary before he went to sleep that night. He had just gotten to the point where Wormtail had been appointed Secret Keeper and desperately wanted to know more about what happened during the time that his parents were in hiding. He quickly read through some passages about Order missions until he reached an interesting part.
Today was Harry’s first birthday. Lily and James were kind of upset that they couldn’t throw Harry a real party, but they are still in hiding and Harry is too young to realize that it’s his birthday anyway. It was just the Potters, Remus, Dumbledore and I. Even Peter didn’t come, but of course he has gone into hiding himself since he has been appointed Secret Keeper. The Fidelius charm has been holding for months now, so I guess that I made the right choice choosing Peter to take my place.
I got Harry a toy broomstick as a present. James was thrilled. Lily didn’t seem to like it at first, because she had doubts about it being safe, but she quickly came around when she saw how much fun Harry was having.
The only damper for the festivities was the news Dumbledore had brought with him. Fabian and Gideon were killed by Death Eaters during a secret Order mission. What mission, nobody knows. It was some secret task they received from Dumbledore. They were sent to Albania. It’s a real shame. They were great men and very accomplished duellists. It took a group of six Death Eaters to defeat them. Maybe the worst part is that it was a planned attack. The Death Eaters were sure Fabian and Gideon would be there and only some of the most trusted Order members knew where they were at the time. Remus and I almost got into a fight when we heard it. We were practically accusing each other of being a double agent. I don’t like what this war is doing to us. It’s tearing us apart. We have been inseparable through our entire time at Hogwarts and now we are drifting apart. This war has to end soon… Before we all lose our minds.
Harry closed the diary, lay it aside and put out his wand light. He thought how it must be like to be sure that one of your friends is a double agent who works for Voldemort. His thoughts wondered to Dumbledore’s Army. Every member had signed a contract that stopped them from giving away certain information or giving away the identity of the members, but it wasn’t a fool-proof system. In theory, there could still be a traitor in their midst. And he didn’t really know for sure that there was no way around the contract. He trusted Hermione’s abilities, but surely a strong dark wizard could get around it? He thought about Malfoy and how he had turned to their side. Would it be possible that he was really working for Voldemort? But Harry quickly dismissed that thought. Malfoy had been sincere, he was sure of that. And despite everything that happened in the past, he loved his sister. He wouldn’t do that to her… He hoped.
The next weekend brought the arrival of the entire teaching staff of Durmstrang. A lot of DA members were outside to see the familiar black ship emerge from the lake. Viktor Krum, who had taken a break from his Quidditch career during the war to teach Defence Against the Dark Arts at his old school, greeted Harry and his friends happily.
“This is Grozdan.” he said gesturing to the man besides him. “My boyfriend.”
“Your what?” Ron asked. He looked at the two of them with open mouth and immediately received a blow to the head from Hermione.
Krum nervously looked at them, wondering if they would say something, but Harry merely smiled and shook Grozdan’s hand. “Nice to meet you.”
“It is an honour to meet you.” Grozdan smiled. “I have of course heard a lot about you.”
After introductions were made and Ron had closed his mouth, Krum took Harry with him. “I want you to meet our new headmaster, Harry. He is a great man. There he is. Professor Petkov!”
Professor Petkov was a tall wizard, with long grey hair and a long beard. He reminded Harry a bit of Dumbledore, but instead of twinkling blue, Petkov’s eyes were dark and penetrating.
“Harry Potter! How great to finally meet you. Bogdan Petkov.”
They shook hands. “It’s good to meet you too, Professor. Viktor told me that you are the new headmaster at Durmstrang.”
“Indeed.” Petkov said silkily. “I have been rather busy cleaning up the mess of my predecessor. One of my priorities is improving the relationships with the other European wizarding schools. Durmstrang, Beauxbatons and Hogwarts have always worked together well in the past, but due to certain… choices of the last headmasters, we have some patching up to do.”
“I’m sure Professor McGonagall will be glad to hear that.” Harry said.
“Ah, yes of course.” Petkov said sadly. “It was a great shock when we heard about what happened to Albus. It’s a real shame.”
“Viktor told me you knew him?”
“Yes indeed. We have fought together during the war against Grindelwald. He had taken over Germany and from there, he was expanding his empire over all eastern Europe. When he invaded Bulgaria, Dumbledore came to help us defeat him. Now I finally have the chance to repay him and all the Hogwarts teachers for what they did for us back then.”
“Bogdan!” a voice came from behind them.
“Minerva!” Bogdan said enthusiastically.
The two heads walked off to catch up with each other and Krum turned to Harry: “So did you hear anything from Beauxbatons?”
“Yes, they’ll be arriving today too.” Harry answered. He checked his watch. “In fact, they should be here any minute.”
“I bet they’ll be arriving with that weird carriage thing again.” Krum said.
“Probably.” Harry looked around him and noticed that a lot of young wizards had come with the Durmstrang delegation that were too old to still be in school, but didn’t seem to be teachers either. Some of them were vaguely familiar to him.
“Students from my year at Durmstrang.” Krum explained, seeing Harry’s pensive face. “They still have friends here from when we were here for the Triwizard Tournament. They wanted to come.”
Harry and Krum walked back to where they had left Ginny, Ron, Hermione and Grozdan. They were now in the company of the other Weasley brothers and Fleur. Fleur was awaiting the arrival of the Beauxbatons delegation impatiently. Her parents and sister would be coming with them too and she hadn’t seen them in almost a year. When the light-blue carriage landed on the grounds, Fleur quickly dragged Bill with her to introduce him to her parents.
“Poor lad.” Ron said sympathetically. “He has just gotten used to one Delacour and now there are four of them.”
“Fleur is alright.” Ginny said.
Harry raised his eyebrows at her. Ginny hadn’t been a big fan of the relationship between the French girl and her oldest brother when they started going out.
“I thought you hated Fleur.” Harry muttered.
“I never hated her!” Ginny said. “I just didn’t think she was right for Bill at first, but I must say that they are suited to each other in some weird way.”
Professor McGonagall had asked the House-Elves to prepare a feast for the arrival of the new guests that night. It proved to be a good thing that there were less students at Hogwarts than before, because the school was more crowded than ever. The house tables were barely respected anymore. Everyone just sat where they wanted to. Only the Slytherins held themselves apart from the others.
When Harry and his friends left the Great Hall to return to the Gryffindor common room, he was approached by Remus. “You’d better come with me, Harry. Emergency meeting.” he said hurriedly.
“Er… Alright. I’ll see you guys later.” he quickly said to the others as Remus dragged him with him. “Where are we going?” Harry asked when he noticed Remus wasn’t going towards the marble staircase.
“Severus’ office.” Remus said shortly. “He said he had news.”
When Remus and Harry entered Snape’s office, they saw that the Potions master was already accompanied by Professor McGonagall, Mad-Eye and Kingsley. They were all looking rather seriously.
“What’s going on?” Harry asked.
“I have received a message from our contact in the Dark Lord’s inner circle.” Snape said.
Snape nodded. “The Dark Lord is planning to attack next Saturday at nightfall. He expects to have full control over Hogwarts by dawn.”
“I beg to dream and differ from the hollow lies, this is the dawning of the rest of our lives.” – Greenday (Holiday)
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