Chapter 2 : Meeting
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Do not knock. Your wand will let you in.
A house appeared right in front of me. Grimmauld Place numbers eleven and thirteen slid noisily to the side, to make room for number twelve. It hadn't been easy finding this place, and I had spent the entire morning scouring a map of London. Geography had never been my strong suite, and I refused to ask anyone. Not that I could anyway, seeing as I was not the Secret Keeper.
When I had finally found the street on the map, I had spent the next couple of hours pacing my living room, and now my feet were aching.
I stepped up to the house and tapped my wand on the door. It slipped open and I walked inside. A note had appeared on my desk at work the previous day, with a simple instruction.
Do not knock. Your wand will let you in.
I had barely had time to read it before it vanished, but I understood it well enough.
The sound of many voices met me as I closed the door. I took in the hallway. It was dark, dusty and depressing, and it smelled of being in desperate need of a good airing out. What kind of house was this?
"Hello there!" a voice greeted me cheerily, but very quiet. It belonged to a plump older woman with flaming red hair peppered with grey, and a kind face.
"Hello," I said, holding out my hand.
"I'm Molly Weasley," she whispered, shaking my hand with both of hers. "Welcome to the Headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix. I must ask you to be very quiet out here in the halls and on the stairs. Any noise and the portrait of Mrs Black wakes."
"The portrait of Mrs Black. She doesn't like us being in her house." Mrs Weasley guided me across the hall and towards a staircase.
"Black? This is the Blacks' home?"
"It is. Sirius offered it to us as headquarters. It needs tidying up, definitely. Then I think it will be quite a cosy home."
I found that highly doubtful, from the impression I had gotten out in the hall. As I was ushered into what looked like the kitchen, my doubts didn't lessen. It was cavernous, with a large fireplace at one end, a long table in the middle, and cupboards lining the walls. Every surface was dusty and worn and it smelled of mouldy food.
"Welcome to my humble abode," said a sarcastic voice upon my entry.
I turned to the voice, and saw none other than the infamous Sirius Black. My instinct was to whip out my wand, gag, stun, and bind him, and bring him back to Azkaban. Just barely, I managed to restrain myself. Instead, I walked over to him, held out my hand and presented myself.
"The Azkaban Security Official?" he asked with a dark chuckle and looked me over. "I'm sorry I caused you so much trouble."
"You and I will have to talk about that," I said sternly. "I will not have it happening again."
"As you wish." He made a bow, and I had the distinct feeling that he wasn't taking me seriously at all.
When Black moved out of my way, I saw several other people around the table. I held out my hand to each of them, some I had never met before, some I vaguely recognised, and some I remembered hearing about upon learning their name.
Bill Weasley. Dedalus Diggle. Remus Lupin. Nymphadora Tonks. Elphias Doge. Arthur Weasley.
The conversation flowed loosely between the members around the table, obviously knowing each other to some extent already. I felt a bit out of place, not really having had much to do with any of them before. Doge I remembered having met during a trial in the Wizengamot once. I had been at school with Tonks – though she was several years below me. Lupin had to be the werewolf that had been outed in the Prophet a year earlier.
More people arrived, Shacklebolt, Albus, Minerva McGonagall, Mundungus Fletcher, Alastor Moody, Emmeline Vance, Hestia Jones and Sturgis Podmore.
I had expected many more, but Albus stood up to start the meeting the moment Podmore found his seat.
"Welcome to the Order of the Phoenix. My name is Albus Dumbledore, and I have asked you all to come here to fight Lord Voldemort," he started abruptly, causing many fearful gasps to break out.
"We are a few members missing this evening, but they are out on Order duty already. There's Rubeus Hagrid, the Hogwarts gamekeeper. He is keeping watch at Hogwarts, seeing as Minerva and myself are here. He is also preparing for a journey through Europe with Beauxbaton's Olympe Maxime to visit with the giants. Severus Snape is re-establishing his place among Voldemort's followers, spying for us. Charlie Weasley is abroad and doing what he can to spread the word about Voldemort's return and acquiring allies on the continent. Arabella Figg is Harry Potter's next door neighbour and is on his guard tonight as soon as he returns to Surrey.
"And some of you may be curious as to the presence of a few here today."
Albus presented everyone and then went on to fully explain the deception that had led to Black's imprisonment, the way he had used his Animagus form to escape and what he had proceeded to do afterwards to make justice happen. Unfortunately, that hadn't worked out, and instead ended up being one of the pieces in the puzzle that led to the return of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. We were then explained the details surrounding Barty Crouch Jr and how he helped bring about Harry Potter's 'victory' in the Triwizard Tournament.
I couldn't help but drift off to think about Black's and Crouch's escapes from Azkaban. Both had been very simple, and showed a huge lapse in security that needed to be addressed immediately. There was nothing I loathed more than criminals getting away or trying to compromise the supposed safest prison in the world.
Of course, Black was innocent, but he still shouldn't have been able to escape.
When Albus wound down his explanation of everything, he sat down and invited anyone with questions to ask them.
A stunned silence followed, everyone taking in what they just learned. Slowly, Hestia Jones raised her hand and spoke. "Exactly what sort of accident does the Ministry think caused Diggory's death?"
"Cornelius has never said. Either they can't make up an accident that sounds plausible, or they simply won't."
Jones shook her head as Elphias Doge asked for the details of the Ministry's handling of Barty Crouch Jr. This took a while, and after it seemed like there were no more questions.
"We should get down to the issue at hand here," Albus went on. "We are a motley crew of werewolves, escaped criminals, Magical Law Enforcement workers, Aurors, teachers, bankers and many more. We all have our speciality field, and I hope that together we can bring down the greatest evil our world has seen in centuries. We are all allies here, and we help and support each other in this matter. Leave any personal issues behind, and let us move forward.
"There are two things we need to resolve first and foremost. The most pressing matter – be the first to get in touch with any allies Lord Voldemort will try to recruit for himself. There are the giants, werewolves, vampires, and there is also a possibility he will want goblins on his side. As I said earlier, Rubeus Hagrid and Olympe Maxime is already making preparations to persuade the giants to support us, or at least be neutral. They are both half-giants and are in an excellent position to deal with their kin.
"When it comes to the werewolves, I doubt we can persuade them to join our side. The werewolves living in packs around the country are too estranged from our society to see any benefit to join anyone else than Voldemort. However," he turned his eyes on Remus Lupin, "Remus, you know this community better than any of us. I would like you to assess the temperature in the werewolf camps, and report back to us, so we can see how to best move on with that situation."
"Of course, Albus," Lupin said, his voice surprisingly hoarse.
"The vampires are not likely to join any side, as they like to keep to their covens. But Voldemort will try and we must keep an eye on them, and at the slightest sign that they are moving towards the dark side, we must take action.
"Bill, we talked before the meeting, and you feel confident that Voldemort won't be able to gain the trust of the goblins?"
Bill Weasley nodded and addressed the room. "Goblins doesn't set much stake in humans. They see our conflicts as petty and the only side they are willing to take is with the gold. The goblins at Gringotts doesn't care if you're a Death Eater, the Minister himself, or a child in the streets. They protect their gold and their treasures. But there are deviants everywhere, and I will try my best to find them."
"Now, the Dementors." Albus looked gravely at me. "We must expect to lose control over them. You have not been on the island since Voldemort's return?"
"I managed to visit yesterday," I said. "And they are already restless, or... I would say excited is a better word, if a Dementor could ever feel such an emotion. All the prisoners are aware of You-Know-Who's return too. Of course, the Death Eaters have their burning mark, but they are campaigning to the other prisoners. Those that haven't lost their mind yet."
"Nothing more than can be expected." Albus nodded.
"I have already begun working on how we should further secure the prison," I continued. "Subtly, for now. But I expect my colleagues will understand that something very wrong has happened – they aren't stupid. And now that I know the truths behind our only two escapes, I will make sure it doesn't happen again. Though, if someone – Merlin forbid – should be wrongly accused, we should hope the Wizengamot will take care of that. No prisoner will escape again as long as I am there, guilty or not."
"We all appreciate your commitment, but do not make promises you cannot keep. Now, our second issue revolves around the moving of Harry Potter. For reasons that shall remain secret for now, he must return to Privet Drive." Albus glanced quickly at the pocket watch he had procured from somewhere in his robes. "In fact, he should be arriving home just about now. Arabella Figg is taking the first shift, but as she is a Squib, she will have reinforcements as soon as the meeting is over, and while we have a guard rotation for the next few days, we need to plan for the rest of his stay there. I don't expect Voldemort or the Death Eaters will turn up in Privet Drive, but we have to be on the safe side.
"At one point during the summer, we will retrieve Harry and take him here. This requires careful and delicate planning."
Moving Harry Potter wasn't a topic we stayed on for very long, as it was getting late and his guard needed to get to work. We would revisit that at the next meeting. Albus arranged guard duty for everyone and called it to an end, announcing the next date and time.
"I wish I could have made something to eat for you all," Mrs Weasley said apologetically as chairs scraped and cloaks were donned. "Next time, when this place is cleaned up, I'll have a warm meal for you all."
"That will be very appreciated, Molly," Albus said, and took the red headed witch's hand and kissed it gallantly. She blushed, and hurried off to begin clearing out the cupboards.
Those that were on guard duty left quickly, but the rest took their time and didn't really seem to want to leave, despite the depressing location. Not knowing these people, I felt a little uncomfortable, so I discreetly made my way out. I felt eyes on me as I left, but I ignored them.
Out in the hall, Albus approached me. "How soon do you believe you can start work on the wards on Azkaban?" He was casual in saying it, but I sensed an urgency behind his calm demeanour.
"Monday morning," I said firmly. "Like I said earlier, my colleagues are not stupid. I talked to Walter – uh, he's my partner – when I got back to the office yesterday, explained what I saw there. He's quite anxious to get out there and see for himself. We're all attuned to the Dementors. Everyone will understand soon enough."
Someone came up the stairs and stopped at the sight of us. I glanced behind Albus and saw the werewolf there. The headmaster turned too. "Ah, Remus, excellent." He inclined his head towards me.
Remus lifted his lips in a half smile as he approached us.
"I was just talking to our new friend here about the new wards she intends to rise at Azkaban. I was about to offer my help should she need it. With your expertise, Remus, I think you could help as well."
I frowned at them. I didn't need help. I didn't need anyone telling me how to best secure my prison.
Albus seemed to notice my annoyance. "Remus here was the Defence Against the Dark Arts professor at Hogwarts a year ago."
"I know," I interjected sharply.
"He is well versed in defensive magic. I am well versed in... Well, magic." His eyes sparkled in humour, but I only raised my eyebrow. "I know you're capable, but if you should ever need an extra hand – an outsider's point of view perhaps – any one of us can help. Isn't that right, Remus?"
"Of course." Remus nodded his agreement, looking a little puzzled, but determined nonetheless.
I ground my teeth and stared at my former headmaster for a moment. "Thank you," I gave in eventually. "I'll keep that in mind. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have two nights and one day left to myself before three weeks in Azkaban."
The second chapter/one-shot/whatever-you-want-to-call it. I just thought I'd warn people now, some of these chapters are going to be very explicit. I will censor it to fit the TOS and M rating here, but if you're interested in reading the uncensored version of those chapters, send me a PM over at the forums, and I will give you the link to it. My username there is the same as here.
Oh, and the main character in this story is never going to be named and her looks are never going to be described in detail, as I want the reader to imagine her any way they want. I've read stories like that before, and they seem so much more intimate and seem to draw the reader in that much more for some reason, so I'm experimenting with that and hoping it does the same for you.
Until next time.
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