Chapter 2 : Meetings
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The small room currently occupied by the entirety of the order of the Phoenix, which normally had the purpose of Abaforth’s living quarters, was cramped to say the least. Though somehow, someone had managed to get a large wooden table into the space, half of this object was taken up by Hagrid who happened to be incredibly large, given the fact he was part giant. He himself had almost taken up a whole bench meaning that several occupants of the room had to either stand or sit on inanimate objects like counters and windowsills. A layer of smoke hovered in the room, obstructing visibility ever so slightly, though smoking wasn’t uncommon these days; it calmed the nerves. The smell of ash was mixed with that of hard liquor and hot chocolate as several had chosen to relax with a tumbler of whiskey, whilst others held a warm mug to their chest in an attempt to fight off the biting cold that gradually made it way into the spaces of tired bones and exaggerated the aches and pains of war wounds.
Though the inhabitants of the room undoubtedly had several personalities who would willingly grasp at attention from others, every pair of eyes was fixed, hooked even, on the speaker on the room hanging off of his every word with a respect it would be hard to have for anyone other than Albus Dumbledore. The aging wizard was making his way through a list of events that had been hushed by the ministry, as to got cause anymore tension and fear in the wizarding community: attacks on muggles and an increasing number of disappearances and injuries. The grim looks of those listening to him showed the frustration that filled them all.
‘It’s more than was missing at our last meeting, and I’m afraid that number is likely to just keep rising.’ Dumbledore finished glumly, his eyes flickering quickly around the room.
‘Bloody hell, it’s about time the ministry got on top of this, they can’t hide it forever!’ Sturgis Podmore growled angrily as he took a large swig of whisky and slammed his empty tumbler down heavily on the table, making Abaforth flinch a little.
‘Sturge, you know as well as I do that the Ministry is doing what they can,’ Moody countered in his thick Irish accent as he leant back on his chair beside Dumbledore.
‘Oh come on Alastar, even you can admit they could do more,’ Edgar added, raising an eyebrow lazily.
‘I wont go over the use of the unforgivables again for the 20th time in this bloody meeting Edgar!’ Moody hissed irritably. ‘I’ve told you I’m working on it, but the Minister, he’s a stubborn man, you know that.’ Edgar simply shrugged and finished his own glass, placing the empty one next to Sturgis’. The tense conversation seemed to have held the attention of the room, as most were waiting for the next part, only for Dumbledore to shut it down, to the amusement of some, Namely Sirius and Benjy, who both fought to control a small laugh or snigger.
‘Moving on,’ Dumbledore said calmly, ‘I’m sure you have all been told of an incident that happened just two days ago involving young Mr Potter and Mr Black.’ He nodded in gesture toward the two boys who were sat amongst their fairly inexperienced friends. Most nodded in acknowledgement of the reference, though there were a few, namely Arabella and Emmeline who furrowed their eyebrows worriedly and turned to face the group of youngsters to hear more. ‘Perhaps you could recall the events in detail for us all boys?’ Dumbledore asked.
Dorcas let out a small snigger that she managed to disguise as a cough fairly well when the eyes some of the sterner members of the room met her. Sirius smirked and took a puff on his half extinguished cigarette as some of the ash fell limply to the floor. He moved somewhat closer to where James was seated and sat on the edge of the table, so as to join the conversation.
‘We were out for a ride,’ he said casually nodding his head to the window, outside which his motorbike was seated, somewhat answering the question of who was its owner. ‘And we were probably going a bit fast, but I was testing out some improvements I’d been working on, you know, for a quick get away and what not.’
‘Nice,’ Benjy grinned with an impressed nod, only to be elbowed in the ribs by Amelia, much to his annoyance.
‘Yeah and I guess muggles have speeding rules or something,’ James added in a nonchalant way, grinning wildly at his best friend who started to chuckle and took another long drag on the rapidly depleting source of nicotine, before ruffling his messy hair. Lily shook her head and blushed with embarrassment, trying not to look anyone in the eye, especially not her boss, Elphias, who was eying James and Sirius with a disapproving raised eyebrow. ‘Because two of their police officers started following us, trying to get us to stop and slow down.’
‘I’m surprised they could keep up,’ Sirius mused with a chuckle.
‘I think they were probably slowed down by the weight they had on board,’ James smirked, making Sirius bark with laughter and causing a few stifled giggles from the rest of the youngsters.
‘But anyway,’ Sirius continued, now putting his cigarette out in a half full ashtray that he had to lean to get to on the table. ‘We ended up going down an alley with a dead end by accident, rooky error really… And they got out, somehow squeezed themselves around their car and told us to get off the bike.’
‘Which of course we did being good citizens and all! They asked for names, so we did the old classic-‘
‘Oh Merlin, not the Elvendork joke…’ Remus sighed, shaking his head with a chuckle.
‘It’s boys name, AND a girls name Moony!’ James protested.
‘Will you stop James, it’s a horrible name!’ Lily said irritably, frowning at the messy haired young man beside her, with folded arms.
‘Well I suggested Wilberforce and Bathsheba,’ Sirius added, well seriously...
‘Boys!’ Alastar grumbled from next to Dumbledore, ‘Could we please get on with it?’
‘Oh right yeah,’ James smiled charmingly, ‘well we were talking to the policemen, and then behind them, they just appeared on their brooms’
‘They?’ Emmeline frowned questioningly, not trying to hide her irritation at the boys’ lack of seriousness.
‘Deatheaters.’ Sirius confirmed. ‘They were coming towards us, fast. So we did the only thing we could think of, and both used our wands to raise the Police car. They pretty much smashed straight into the car and fell onto the ground, brooms broken and everything!’
‘So then we got the hell outta there,’ James finished. ‘ I mean all’s fair when your joking with muggles, but when that lot turned up shit got real.’
‘Yeah, we figured we’d leave the fuckers for the Ministry.’
There was silence for a moment as the room took in the events of a few nights ago.
‘Merlin boys!’ Frank looked at them astounded. ‘You’re bloody lucky you go out of that one.’ Several of the older members of the group nodded in agreement, with a few murmurs filling the room.
‘What happened afterwards?’ Hestia asked with a curious frown towards the boys, who shrugged unknowingly. Instead Moody answered.
‘We got them.’ He nodded gruffly, ‘Thank Godric. And the policemen had the memories wiped.’
‘Oh goodness, I’m going to have a lot of explaining to do for the Prime minister,’ Arabella muttered, rubbing her head exasperatedly. These days being magical liaison to the muggle Prime Minister was rather a hectic job.
‘Well I think this should serve as a warning to all of us,’ Dumbledore interrupted the humming of conversation hat had broken out in the room, making it’s occupants silent once more. ‘We must be vigilant and have our wits about us. It’s getting more dangerous by the day out there,’ he said with a glum note in his voice.
‘On that cheerful note, I think we best head home, it’ll be a busy week for us all I’m sure,’ Moody finished, rising from his chair, his fists planted on the table as he looked around the room at the odd bunch of acquaintances. With a grunt and a curt nod, he pulled on a shabby raincoat and headed for the door.
Gradually the occupants of the room finished off what was left of their drinks and began to layer up the clothes that would act as a shield against the bitter winter weather they were currently experiencing. A mixture of muddy boots and petite ballet pumps trudged tiredly over the doorframe and into the crunching snow that awaited them outside, the crispness of which was satisfying to many an ear.
As the older members of the group bid there quick goodbyes and disappeared into the night with a motion quicker than the blink of an eye, the youngest of the group took a few moments to enjoy the fresh feeling of the cold as it nipped against their cheeks, contrasting the stuffy feeling from their meeting room just moments before. Those who indulged in the habit of smoking, gleefully lit up, and enjoyed another layer of comforting embrace. They looked up at the stars that glinted playfully down at them, stretching for miles. That was the beauty of the countryside; the starts were as clear as day, contrasting against the midnight blue of the sky.
‘Gorgeous.’ Marlene smiled happily as she exhaled smoke into the picture of perfection.
‘Makes everything seem so small doesn’t it?’ Lily added, her own small satisfied smile creeping onto her face and rosy red cheeks.
‘Mhmm,’ the others murmured in agreement.
They stayed like this a few moments longer before the delicate silence was broken.
‘Right come on then you cheeky fuckers!’ Sirius grinned widely before excitedly running over to his motorbike to warm the engine and rev it delightfully, as he showed off, driving closer to the others who simply rolled their eyes.
‘Omh monphs beforph I fergget, I mpicked dees ub bor ou.’ Dorcas mumbled through the cigarette the danced loosely on her lips as she used her hands to riffle through her bag, walking towards Remus.
‘What?’ Remus’ face lit up with an amused chuckle as Dorcas looked up and he took the cigarette from her mouth so she could speak.
‘I picked these up for you,’ she repeated with a grin, ‘from work, for next week.’ She pulled out several large green vials and placed them in Remus’s coat pockets for him as he chuckled at her awkwardness once more.
‘Thanks Doe,’ he sighed, knowing that the contents of the bottles were less then pleasant.
‘No problem,’ I’ll come and check on you on Friday,’ she smiled sweetly before walking towards Mary and Marlene who were waiting for her.
‘What about this?’ Remus called after her holding the cigarette out to her.
‘Keep it,’ she smiled back at him. A small twinge prickled in Remus’ chest as he watched her walk away happily and take the hand of Marlene, the other already taken by Mary.
‘See you later guys!’ They each called in goodbye.
‘Hey Marls, when are you gunna stay at mine already?!’ Sirius joked loudly with a playful wink, revving the engine of his motorbike once more.
‘In your dreams Black!’ She called back to him with a smirk, before disappearing before their eyes.
‘I’m telling you guys that girl will be the death of me.’ Sirius sighed longingly continuing the joke even after she had left.
‘Yeah, I can see that,’ James smirked and punched his best friend playfully in the arm before taking Lily’s small hand in his.
‘See you later guys!’ Lily smiled with a large and enthusiastic wave toward the three remaining boys who were starting to shiver in the cold.
‘Bye dickheads!’ James smiled widely, before he too, disappeared with his girlfriend to the warm comfort of the small house they shared together.
‘Right,’ Sirius started, ‘In the sidecar Wormy!’ Remus let out a loud laugh at Peters face as he frowned and looked thoroughly discontented.
‘Mate you rode stot gun here!’ Remus said simply before putting the remains of Doe’s cigarette in his mouth and swinging a leg over the bike to sit comfortably behind Sirius, holding onto the chrome handle at the back.
‘Bloody, fine!’ Peter mumbled before reluctantly squeezing himself into the small sidecar of the bike and folding his arm grumpily, whilst his legs were huddled up to his chest.
‘Oh cheer up Pete!’ Sirius smirked, ruffling his friend’s hair, before revving his engine a final time and taking off, hurtling into the night.
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