Hello again! Long time, no see. The only excuse I have for not updating in so long is this; I got bored and fell out of love with the story I was telling. About a week ago I decided to try write again, and here we are. Welcome back to all the lovely followers, welcome to all the lovely new people, please enjoy chapter twenty-seven – which includes Harry and Severus talking about the meeting, and Dobby showing Harry the Room of Requirement.
Enjoy, and please review! :)
Elspeth seemed unwilling to speak to Harry when he reached the entrance of Severus' rooms, turning her head away. He apologised for being absent the past week, spoke the password, and was mollified when Elspeth gave a tiny nod and opened the portrait for him. Once, Severus had been in such a foul mood she had refused to let him enter, on grounds that he may make the Potion Masters' anger worse.
Harry made himself comfortable on the sofa, taking out his organiser and reviewing the essays and research he still had to complete for classes. There hadn't been many Professors at lunch, most them having been overseeing the Hogsmeade visit, so Harry knew Severus may be required to stay in the Great Hall later than usual, giving him some time. He had all but finished his latest Potions essay, but he had made notes to look for further references and research to help cement some of his arguments.
Leaving his satchel and shoes neatly by the coffee table, he meandered into and around Severus' personal library, where he had been given free reign (as long as everything was kept neat, and in place). The potions section was the most extensive, and he took time to inspect the tomes he might find useful for his essay. He left them on the end of the section, and explored some of the defence shelves, wondering if there was anything useful but basic enough for a first defence meeting.
"Harry?" He heard Severus call him, and picked up his books to return to the open planned space of their quarters. He smiled sheepishly at Severus, who was waiting with raised eyebrows by the dining room table, "What are you doing here?"
"I, uh…" Harry paused, walking over to the coffee table to place down his armful of books, and then turned back around to face Severus, "I needed some more books for my potions essay. I thought your books would be more specific than the library."
Severus gave a slow nod, and then turned away, making himself a drink. He had unbuttoned the cuffs on his sleeves, as he often did, but not so far that the Dark Mark was showing. Harry had not seen it since that first time, during the Summer break.
Harry ground his teeth a little, "Are you still mad at me?"
Severus paused, then shook his head, "No, I think we are past that."
"Are you sure?" Harry pressed, "You were pretty mad."
Severus huffed, making his way over, drink in hand, "I did not appreciate your dismissal of the Slytherin rules, when you have previously agreed to uphold them. However, I also appreciate that you did not dismissive them purposefully, rather in casual conversation you let slip something you should not have. You apologised, and if you had come to see me sooner, you would have learned that I forgave you for the mistake."
Harry shrugged, "I wasn't sure if I was welcome."
Severus looked concerned, but firm, "These are your quarters, Harry, you shall never be turned away, even in those instances when I am unhappy with you."
Harry nodded, feeling his anxiety regards the matter settle and disappear. He sat on the floor, instead of on the cushions, and shuffled the books and papers he had collected for his work.
"The meeting went well, I think," He commented lightly.
Severus leant forward, "It did? How many people went?"
"All of them, everyone that Hermione and I originally invited," Harry told him, "I thought some of them would neglect to show, but they all came and stayed the whole time."
"That's impressive. And what was their general reactions to your ideas?" Severus asked.
"Positive," Harry noted, "There were… well, there were a few questions, about Cedric and last year."
Severus' brows furrowed, "From whom?"
"Zacharias Smith, mostly, from Hufflepuff." Harry sighed, "Hermione and Jane said I handled it well. I didn't answer his questions, I, uh, didn't really want to go there."
"Understandably," Severus said softly, "Go on."
"Well, I just sort of redirected the conversation to the war efforts, and the return of Voldemort, rather than Cedric's death. So, I suppose I did answer in a way. Anyway, they all agreed to attend meetings, should we organise them, and to keep them secret," Harry added, feeling relieved.
"Good. It would be dangerous for people to be invited but then refuse to attend. They would know too much, so to speak." Severus seemed proud, and that pleased Harry, "Did you decide on any details?"
"The general consensus was that the meetings will be held during Slytherin's quidditch practises, which eliminates a fair few people from being able to track us. Sophie supplied the timetable," Harry informed him, "That seemed to appease some of the Gryffindor's."
"Another promising idea, Malfoy is the seeker after all, and firmly on the side of Professor Umbridge despite my feeble attempts to steer him away. Anything else?"
"Apart from the list of members and the time, and the fact they are willing to learn from me, then no. We still need a meeting place before we can start anything, and most people seem to think we need a name for the meetings," Harry said, running a hand through his hair. Severus' eyes narrowed at the reaction, "And I don't have any clue."
Severus hummed, sipping on his drink.
Harry eyed him, "What did you mean, attempts to steer Malfoy away?"
Severus sighed, "I was hoping Draco would come and see me again, yet he hasn't since the beginning of term. I have asked to speak with him, but he avidly avoids me, most likely by instruction of his father, and by extension Voldemort."
"He's living with the Malfoys," Harry blurted, remembering his conversation with Jane.
"Pardon?" Severus asked, looking marginally surprised by the outburst.
"Sophie's father received an invitation to Malfoy Manor, to meet with an 'esteemed guest' of the family," Harry said, unsure, "Jane told me. It couldn't be anyone else, could it?"
Severus placed his drink down, "No, I don't believe it could be, and I don't believe it is, either."
"Then why doesn't the Ministry send the aurors to Malfoy Manor? Dumbledore knows about it, Sophie told him about the invitation," Harry asked.
"I am aware. I was there when she relayed the information," Severus stated, and Harry rolled his eyes, "However, the word of a student will do little to convince the aurors, even when led by Order members, and Mr Roper has refused to speak to Dumbledore about the matter. We have no proof, and even if a raid was organised, it would most likely end in a slaughter."
Harry hesitated, "But if Malfoy were to…"
"Draco will not defy his father on such a level," Severus said bluntly, "He is too afraid of what could happen to him, and too distrustful of Dumbledore and the Order either way. That is what I would like to change, given the opportunity to speak with him."
"You think it is possible to change his mind?"
"I think that, when you truly examine the situation, yourself and Draco are not so different."
"Hang on –"
"Hush. You may be on opposing sides, at this moment, but you are both young, the sons of prominent fighting families, and are being forced to commit deeds and actions that you may not wish to – in the name of the war." Severus cocked his head to the side, "You are each other's opposites, and that showcases your similarities."
Harry snorted, looking a little uncomfortable, "Maybe, maybe not, but you didn't answer. Do you think you could change his mind?"
Severus looked thoughtful, "Truthfully, I do not know. I know the actions of Voldemort and his own father terrify Draco. I know they are not something he could bear to do himself, yet he knows it is expected of him, within time. I hope to change his mind."
"You want to shield him," Harry said quietly.
"Yes, I want to shield him, if I can. He is my godson," Severus said plainly, "I have a responsibility. I do not want him to make the same mistakes I made in my youth, and choose the darker side because he feels the light would not accept him."
Harry nodded, "You told me before that it was because you were intrigued by the magic. Malfoy… He doesn't seem like he is intrigued by it."
"No," Severus said, "I do not believe so. As I said, I did not believe the light side of the war would accept me, and so I drifted to that of the dark. I think Draco may be in a similar position. He needs to see that he has the option."
Harry hummed, "So, this idea of shielding him from the horrors of war, does that apply to me too?" There was a cheeky smile on his face, but Severus caught the underlying realism to his ward's question.
"Yes, it does, and I will shield you whenever I can," Severus said, and Harry grinned self-consciously, "That does, of course, require you to put that Gryffindor bravado in your back pocket, and not run towards the nearest, slightest hint of danger."
"I haven't so far this year!"
"You are starting an illegal defensive club under the nose of the new High Inquisitor, who, might I remind you, has the backing of the Minister of Magic. I would say you are running at full-speed."
"It's hardly illegal, and you are encouraging us!" Harry argued, and Severus smirked.
"I suppose so. On that matter, I have two pieces of advice for you. Firstly, if you are going to give a name to these meetings, do not make it linkable to anyone, or anything." Severus said, "Have it be random, or fictional. If you write it down, or someone hears it, it needs to mean nothing to them. Alright?"
"Alright," Harry said, "I suppose that rules out Ginny's original suggestion."
"Merlin, no." Severus looked aghast, "If Umbridge found that on a slip of paper, she would assume you are revolting against the Ministry on Dumbledore's behalf. No names, certainly no mention of an army, or soldiers, or anything of the kind."
Harry nodded, "That makes sense. What was the second piece of advice?"
"You have an elf friend, do you not? Who works in the kitchens?"
Harry's brows creased, "Yes, Dobby. He started working at Hogwarts this year. What about him?"
"I would advise you to ask him where in Hogwarts you could hold these sessions," Severus said, picking his drink back up, "The elves are truly the only ones who know the magic behind how this castle operates. They know every nook and cranny. He may be able to suggest somewhere, and is loyal enough to you not to mention it again."
Harry smiled, "I'll visit him soon and ask. Thank you, Severus."
"Not at all. In other news, I received another letter from your godfather yesterday."
Harry stilled, "Really?" He asked, "I haven't heard from Sirius at all."
"It was not a long letter." Severus drawled. He summoned a small piece of parchment and handed it Harry, whose eyes scanned the wording quickly.
You better be looking after him damn well properly. If anything happens to him, I will hunt you down. I hope we are clear about that.
(Seal of the Ancient and Noble House of Black)
Harry scoffed, and tossed the paper back across the table, "For God's sake," He muttered, as Severus watched him warily, picking up the parchment and tucking it back into his robes, "Tell him to grow up already."
"Is that what you would like me to put in my response?" Severus asked, amused.
Harry chuckled, but it lacked real mirth, "No, I don't think that letter warrants a response. He always focuses on the wrong thing, you know? He ignores the real problems, and focuses on the one thing that isn't actually causing problems right now."
Severus snorted at the wording. He swirled his drink and then replied, "To him, though, it still stands as a problem."
"Well he needs to get over it," Harry said angrily. He tucked his legs under his body and grabbed one of the books off the table, then sighed and turned it over in his hands, "Sorry."
"That's alright," Severus said smoothly, "I will not respond if you do not wish me to."
"I think it is better left unanswered."
"Very well then, it shall go unanswered," Severus said, then motioning towards the book Harry was holding, "Now, how exactly are you planning on using the work of Ludwig Vessling in your Potions essay? He specialises in medical potions, not antivenoms."
On the Sunday morning, Harry snuck away after breakfast and headed towards the kitchens, humming a merry tune. The success of the meeting the day before had put him an incredible mood, everyone's positive comments, Jane's grin and praise, the fact that no fights had broken out between different houses.
His mood dampened when he realised they were nowhere near being able to hold another meeting again, which was why he was heading to talk to Dobby. Severus' insistence that the elves would know the best hiding spots in Hogwarts was ingenious, and not for the first-time Harry thanked Merlin for his guardian, and then reflected on how strange that was, that he was so happy that Severus had become a part of his life.
He tickled the pear on the portrait door leading to the kitchens, and stepped back as the painting swung aside. Inside, the house elves were preparing for lunch, though breakfast had just ended, and were shuffling around, casting charms and laying foods high up on silver platters.
"Excuse me, is Dobby here?" He asked a passing house elf, who peered up at him curiously.
"Yes Sir, Betsy just saw Dobby pass through here," She said, "Betsy is sure that Dobby will be down the end of this aisle, assisting with the lemon cakes. Would Sir like Betsy to escort him?"
"That would be great, thanks," Harry said, awkward as ever as he was led through the kitchens. He had come to realise that the house elves were meticulous about their kitchens, and it was best to be taken places by one of their own, or they may get tetchy.
"There Dobby is, Sir, just done there," Betsy said, pointing to Dobby, who was easily recognisable in several layers of socks and hats, "Is there anything else Betsy can help Sir with? Would Sir like a drink?"
"Pumpkin juice, please Betsy, thank you."
Betsy grinned a toothy grin at his address, and immediately snapped her fingers, handing him a large cup of pumpkin juice. She curtsied, which made Harry smile, and ran off to help with the sandwiches.
"Harry Potter! What a pleasure it is!" Dobby said excitedly, as he saw Harry approach.
"Hi Dobby, how are you? That's a lot of scarves, and hats, and socks."
"Oh, Dobby is very well thank you," Dobby said, levitating lemon cakes onto a platter, "Dobby is keeping warm with Miss Granger's knitting, while we prepare the lunch! Is there something Dobby can help Harry Potter with today?"
"Yes, actually." Harry nodded, "I, uh, I need to find a room in Hogwarts, big enough for thirty to forty people to practice Defence Against the Dark Arts, without being discovered by any of the teachers, especially Umbridge. I thought you might know where we could go."
Dobby paused for a moment, and a lemon cake hovered in the air. Then, it splattered to the floor as Dobby let out a gasp, and his scarves swung from side to side, "Dobby knows the perfect place, sir! Dobby heard tell of it from the other house-elves, when he first came to Hogwarts. It is known by us as the Come and Go room, Sir, or else as the Room of Requirement."
Harry's heart rate picked up, "Why?"
"Because it is a room that a person can only enter when they have real need of it," Dobby told him, "Sometimes it is there, sometimes it is not, but when it appears, it is always equipped for the Seekers needs. Dobby has used it before Sir, when Winky has been very drunk; he has hidden her in the Room of Requirement and he had found antidotes to butterbeer there, and a nice elf-sized bed to settle her on –"
"That's great Dobby!" Harry said enthusiastically, and Dobby beamed, "So, if I needed a large, empty space, big enough for all those people, and maybe some dummies or books, that's what would appear?"
"Dobby expects so, sir, it is an amazing room," Dobby replied, nodding his head.
"How many people know about it, though?" Harry asked dubiously.
"Very few, Sir. Mostly people stumbles across it when they needs it, sir, but often they never finds it again, for they do not know that it is always there waiting to be called into service, sir," Dobby told him, "If Harry Potter does not wish to be found, there is no better place than the Come and Go room."
"That sounds perfect Dobby, that is exactly what we need." Harry was thinking fast, "Can you show me where it is? Where do I have to look, how do I get in?"
"Any time, Harry Potter! We could go now, if you like!" Dobby said, enthusiastically lifting the rest of the lemon cakes onto the platter in one swoop, and clapping his hands as if to indicate they could leave now.
Harry paused, "Will there be many people there? It is a Sunday morning after all, Dobby. We can't risk getting caught."
Dobby shook his head, "It is on the seventh floor, sir, in a corridor where hardly anybody goes. Dobby can go there first, and check, if Harry Potter would like?"
"Yes, do that, thank you," Harry said, and shuffled anxiously as Dobby clicked his fingers and disappeared. He had the Marauders map tucked away in his pocket, and brought it out as Dobby returned.
"It is completely empty, Sir!" Dobby said excitedly, and held out one of his bony hands, "Would sir like Dobby to take him there now? There is no one around, Dobby swears it. Dobby will bring Harry Potter back to kitchen afterwards, if he would like."
"I didn't think students or teachers could apparate within Hogwarts," Harry said nervously.
"They can with an elf, Sir," Dobby said, "Does Harry Potter trust Dobby?"
"That's a bit of loaded question Dobby, given everything that happened in my second year."
Dobby looked a little embarrassed, but smiled, "Dobby knows what he is doing, Sir."
Harry sighed and then nodded. He held on tight to the Marauders map in one hand, and placed the other on top of Dobby's. He had never apparated before, but found that the twisting feeling in his stomach was quite alike to that of travelling by portkey. Not a second later, he found himself standing in front of a wide expansive of stone wall, in a deserted corridor. He spun around, sighting the tapestry of Barnabas the Barmy being hit over the head with clubs.
He quickly opened the map, and checked that no one was in the surrounding corridors. Two people, who he didn't recognise the names of, were a few corridors towards the stairs, but apart from that it was empty.
"We need to be quick, Dobby," He said, "Where's the entrance?"
"Right here, Sir!" Dobby informed him, with a flourish of his long fingers, "Harry Potter needs to walk along this wall and back three times, and think very hard about what Harry Potter wants!"
Harry swallowed. It sounded insane, but he took a breath and did it anyway. His footsteps made heavy noise on the tiles, but he screwed his eyes shut and tried to block that out. We need somewhere to practice, somewhere we can learn how to fight, somewhere Umbridge won't find us, somewhere big enough for all of us, somewhere with the resources we need.
After the third walk past, Harry breathed deeply and opened just one of his eyes, squinting at the wall. He blinked them both open in shock, and behind him Dobby clapped, "Very good sir! You has found the Come and Go room!"
A high, arched door had appeared, embedded into the stone wall. Harry pulled on the brass handles and peered inside. He took in the sheer size of the room, the silk cushions on the floor, the shelves filled with defence books, and the practice dummies lined up along the wall, and grinned widely, "This is brilliant, it's perfect. I can't wait to show Ron and Hermione!"
"Dobby is pleased Harry Potter is pleased!" Dobby said, "Dobby only wants to help Harry Potter."
"You have, this is incredible," Harry stated, the grin still firmly plastered on his face, "But we should go back to the kitchens, we don't want to get caught here and give everything away. Do we have to leave the room?"
"Yes sir, or it might stay here for someone else to find. You must wait outside for the door to disappear." Dobby nodded solemnly, and led Harry out of the Room of Requirement. As Harry turned back around, the door vanished, leaving behind the empty expanse of stone once again.
"Wow," He whispered.
"Yes, Hogwarts is quite magical, isn't it Harry Potter?" Dobby said dreamily, then reached out his hand. Harry winced, but allowed himself to be apparated back to the kitchens. His feet landed with a thump against the tiled floor, and a few house elves squeaked and scattered at their sudden appearance.
"Thank you for your help Dobby, I need to go find my friends and tell them."
"Anytime, sir! Dobby is always pleased to be of assistance!"
Harry retreated out of the kitchens quickly, ducking flying platters as he went. He slowed his pace when other people passed him, but otherwise was running up the stairs to the Gryffindor Tower. When he arrived, he was out of breath, and the Fat Lady looked at him distastefully as he puffed out of the password, "Lionheart!"
The Fat Lady huffed, but the portrait door swung open, and Harry bolted inside. Hermione and Ron were sat at the fireplace with Ginny and Neville, and looked at him in astonishment when he arrived, "Upstairs, now!" He hissed, and charged up the stairs with them all on his tails.
Dean and Seamus were sat on their respective beds, each with a matching copy of Advanced Potion Making in his hands, and looked startled when the five of them came crashing into the room, including the two girls. Harry flopped down onto his bed, and tried to regain his breath.
"What is it Harry? Has something happened?" Hermione questioned, urgently, "Did Professor Snape tell you something about Umbridge?"
"What? No. I haven't seen Severus since yesterday," Harry said, still puffing for breath. He didn't miss Seamus' flinch at the use of Severus' first name, and made a mental note to try and get control over the impulse.
"Then what's the mad rush?" Ginny asked, perching herself on the edge of Dean's bed. Ron's eyes narrowed at the action.
"I've found somewhere for us to hold our meetings," Harry said, still breathing deeply. He found himself grinning again as Hermione slapped her hands down on the red covers of his bed.
"You did? That's wonderful Harry! Where is it?"
"Well, technically I didn't find it, Dobby did."
"Whose Dobby?" Seamus asked, throwing his potions books aside.
"A house-elf I know, he works in the kitchens. Anyway, he showed me this room on the seventh floor, apparently hardly anyone in Hogwarts knows it even exists," Harry said quickly, and then inhaled and exhaled deeply, "It's called the Room of Requirement."
"The Room of Requirement," Hermione breathed, "I've never even heard of it. It certainly isn't mentioned in Hogwarts; A History, I've read it at least five times and never seen it mentioned."
Harry shook his head, "It's perfect. Apparently, it only appears to people with the greatest need of it, and when it does appear, it holds everything you could possibly need. Dobby helped me summon it, and it was spacious and had books and dummies and cushions. It's exactly what we need, and in a barely used corridor where hardly anyone goes."
Everyone looked between themselves excitedly, "That's great Harry," Ginny said, "The Slytherin's have a practice on Tuesday evening, we could have our first meeting then. Should we spread the word?"
Harry looked at Hermione, and then Ron, who both nodded firmly, "Yes, definitely. Hermione, you tell the Ravenclaw's, Ginny you tell the Hufflepuff's, Ron, tell your brothers, Neville, Dean, Seamus, tell the Gryffindor's, and I'll tell Jane and the Slytherin's. We'll need to start working on some session plans, and names for the group."
"What about my idea, Dumbledore's Army?" Ginny looked offended.
"I don't think that's a clever idea," Harry said, hesitating, "It's a great name, but if someone found that on a slip of paper, they'd get too suspicious. The name needs to be random, unassuming, something someone could mistake for something else entirely."
Ginny nodded, "I suppose you're right. We'll think about it, or we can discuss it on Tuesday."
Hermione nodded too, "Excellent." She breathed out, and then giggled.
Harry cocked his head at her, "What? What are you laughing at?"
Hermione smiled mischievously, and Harry thought the look seemed odd on her usually studious and concentrated face, "We're really doing this, aren't we? It isn't just an idea anymore. We are going to do this, and learn proper defence, all in secret, right under her nose."
"Yeh, we're going to take down those Ministry buggers," Ron said, and Seamus punched the air. Neville bounced up and down on his duvet, hands slapping against the sides of his knees. Harry laughed.
"Well, I think that may be a bit strong," He said, "But yes, we are doing this."