"But Professor, you are the one who had always stressed upon the fact that Time was not to be meddled with. Bad things happen to those who mess with time."
"I know, Miss Granger." Albus Dumbledore sighed heavily. "But desperate situations call for desperate measures. We are already in a mess as it is. When a fire goes out of control, the only plausible thing to do is light another fire."
"I have made up my mind, Miss Granger. Please do not misconstrue this as an act of haste on my part. I assure you I am trying to get this done, making sure to keep the timeline from falling apart."
"What… exactly are you trying to do, Professor?"
"I am intending to send a message to my former self, back in 1995, about something which I once knew but had chosen to forget… An information that could very effectively change the course of history, and perhaps, the incident regarding Harry Potter could be averted as well."
"If Harry was here…" Hermione answered, wiping a lone tear that fell down her cheek.
"What happened to Harry was… unfortunate, but struggle is a part of life, and not dependent on any single person's presence or absence. If young Harry had been… well, we will have to do this without him."
Hermione Granger did not answer.
"I know Harry was very dear to you, and I know that you had been there, trying to tell everyone to reconsider it all, but… anyway, the Gryffindor Army is almost in ashes, and now after the fall of the ICW and the international Guilds, this… gamble is the only thing we have left. So the question is…" He paused, his icy blue eyes staring into her sharp, brown ones. "Are you in, or are you out?"
"I am… in. Professor."
"That is all I ask, Miss Granger."
Albus Dumbledore ignored the tinge of pain on his old shoulders. It seemed like the events around him had made him forget the fact that he was over a hundred and fifty years old, and wasn't a Hogwarts student anymore. Wearily, he closed the tome with a sigh, and pushed it away over the table. Lord Voldemort had returned, and with the way things were turning out, the battle against Voldemort was nearing every minute. He just wished that his calculations and his guesses would hold true in course of time.
That led to thoughts about another lone, but the most important element in the war to come.
The boy was a horcrux, that much was true. After the incidents of Voldemort's resurrection, especially considering the fact that Tom had indeed used Harry's own blood to build his body from, had doubled the connection between him and the boy. He wondered what kind of effects would be manifested in the boy's psyche. A boy with an enormous amount of magical power, but completely indifferent to the seduction of the dark arts… the boy had always made him feel proud. Though, the student in him felt a tad disappointed that such great power lay unhoned, but it was necessary for the Greater Good of all.
I have to let him try out his strengths, until it is time for him to finally face off the monster that is Voldemort. Importantly, I have to make sure that Harry doesn't fall into the very darkness that once consumed Tom Riddle to transform him into the dark lord he is today…
The new term will begin in a few months and I think I will have to ask Severus to-
"Aahh!" He swooned, holding his head in pain as he almost fell off his chair. Somehow, he gathered himself up and stood, holding the table rigidly for support. As the pain receded from his mind, his eyes widened in surprise, and fear, as the truth shook him…
The wards…. Those wards… it is impossible that someone might have….
He looked at his familiar, who was busy clawing and peering oddly at him. "My friend… we will have to make a sudden journey; to a place I swore I would never visit ever again…"
There was a flash of flames as Master and familiar stood in front of a dilapidated cottage. Fawkes sung a tune of melancholy as he perched on Albus's shoulder, as the old man walked past the rotten, pest-infested garden, past the creaking wooden gate at the front. He stepped on the rickety wooden doorstep as his hands slowly crept towards the metal door knob, while his eyes stared emotionlessly at the name engraved on the nameplate.
Albus, Aberforth and Ariana Dumbledore.
What's makes a home a home? Al- do you know the answer?
Dumbledore shook his head, as if physically shaking off the memories that were trying to push into his mindscape, as he erected his Occlumency shields. He turned the knob as he stepped into the drawing room. The entire property had been placed under the Fidelius, and no one- not even Aberforth had ever wanted to visit the house, and face the memories bound to the place. The two brothers had decided to bury it all, and hence, Albus had placed it under a Fidelius, though he had simply told Ab that he had demolished it completely.
I don't think I can ever raise a wand to demolish the place that holds memories about Ariana.
Besides, there was another strong reason behind his apparent lying to his brother. A secret that had been kept through generations of the family line of Aldor, an ancient family which had been forced to go underground, only to come back into the open under a different name… when the last descendant of the family, Kendra had married with a young man from a minor-half blood family, Percival Dumbledore. Being the eldest, Kendra had passed on the legacy of her bloodline to Albus, and so had she began teaching him the habit of secrecy right from when he was five. An art, which lay in the Aldor bloodline itself.
How many times after all, had Elphias commented at how I was a natural at secrecy…?
He stepped inside the main drawing room, with eyes only towards one single nameplate on the left.
He turned open the knob, and stepped inside. The room was completely dilapidated, nothing unexpected at all… though he was sure that for all of the apparent state of the room, the object was here, just like she had taught him. Along with that, came the words Kendra had told him in a whisper…
"When the great wolf howls in fury, it is time for the descent of the dark God…"
He held his head in pain. He had taken great pains to forget the secrets that his mother had imparted to him before her sudden death, secrets that she had said were more important than anything else in the universe, and that it was the duty of the Aldors to preserve it until it was Time…
It had taken him several days to create a modified Fidelius that would not only remove the house from reality, but also remove the secret with it… until when he would step inside the house. Though he wasn't a fan of obliviating himself of potential information, this had been necessary for… reasons.
And now it all came back… like a half-remembered dream… except that it sent shudders down his spine…
His wand came down spinning into his palm, and his hand went up subconsciously, as if it had acquired a mind of its own, as he undid the enchantment that had hidden the tome that kept the secret passed down by the Aldors.
Dreading, he slowly composed himself as he turned over the cover of the tome, as his mind registered the name of the tome, just like it had, the first time he had seen it.
The doom of the Gods.
His old fingers shivering with baited breath, he turned over the page as he began to read the lines... the last ones sending shivers down his spine…
When the great wolf howls in fury, it is time for the descent of the Dark God…
The venom that bound him, would release him to run amok…
The Midgard serpent shall swerve and strike,
As the realm of the Gods falls before Ragnarok…
Privet Drive, Surrey.
"DUDLEY, COME BACK! YOU'RE RUNNING RIGHT AT IT!"
There was a horrible squealing yell, and Dudley's footsteps stopped. At the same moment, Harry felt a creeping chill behind him that could mean only one thing. There was more than one.
"DUDLEY, KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT! WHATEVER YOU DO, KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT! Wand!" Harry muttered frantically, his hands flying over the ground like spiders. "Where's — wand— come on — Lumos!"
He said the spell automatically, desperate for light to help him in his search — and to his disbelieving relief, light flared inches from his right hand — the wand tip had ignited. Harry snatched it up, scrambled to his feet, and turned around. His stomach turned over. A towering, hooded figure was gliding smoothly toward him, hovering over the ground, no feet or face visible beneath its robes, sucking on the night as it came.
Stumbling backward, Harry raised his wand.
No time to care about stupid Ministry rules when a dementor is off to eat your soul…
A silvery wisp of vapor shot from the tip of the wand and the dementor slowed, but the spell hadn't worked properly; tripping over his feet, Harry retreated farther as the dementor bore down upon him, panic fogging his brain.
"Expecto Patronum! Expecto Patronum!"
Another wisp of silver smoke, feebler than the last, drifted from the wand.
Concentrate Potter. Concentrate…
Still nothing significant. The entire area was getting ice-cold, and he could feel himself shivering in cold. He thought he heard a thud somewhere close to him and that meant only one thing- either Dudley had collapsed or- he didn't want to think about the other, more frightening possibility.
There was laughter inside his own head, shrill, high-pitched laughter. He could smell the dementor's putrid, death-cold breath, filling his own lungs, drowning him the depths of his own darkness, his negativity from the incidents of his life. He could hear his mother screaming…
Would it be so bad to die? It might even be painless. I wouldn't know, never have died, have I? And I would see my parents again…
His eyes closed and for a moment he thought he was going to see his parents as his hold upon his beloved wand seemed to flicker, but the moment his eyelids drooped, he could have sworn to have seen a flash of blue lightning, and felt a surge of anger flow through him…His wand-hand moved automatically on its own, and his lips automatically chanted the incantation…
A shaft of white light erupted out of the wand, impaling the nearest of the two dementors through its abdomen, severing it into two distinct halves. The entire thing happened in less than a second, and the other dementor, seeing the impossible happen before its own eyes, figuratively, gave out of a shriek of agonizing pain as it fled away, dissipating into the darkness all around him. Harry somehow pulled his wand back into his robes before losing himself into oblivion.
He slowly lifted his eyelids, and felt a tinge of pain, shutting them down instantly. The pain restarted his mental facilities once again, as he slowly opened them back again, recognizing the tuft of great, bushy, brown hair hovering over him- hair he would recognize any day, anywhere.
Bright, brown eyes looked at him with happiness, as Hermione Granger turned back and yelled, "RON! MRS. WEASLEY! HARRY IS AWAKE!" A series of loud footsteps on cranking, wooden stairs were heard as a multitude of people flooded in, led by Ron and the twins, with Ginny just behind them.
"Oh, just move it. Let me get to the boy." Harry heard Mrs. Weasley scoff as she dug out a place, shoving the twins off on either side, as she stepped forward. He slowly looked around.
"Where am I?'
"You are… oh, darn it. You are home with us, my dear boy. How are you feeling?" She cut off affectionately, as she placed her hand on his cheek.
"I'm good," he flushed, still not used to such open displays of affection from people. Hermione- she was a different thing altogether, but he still had some reservations with Mrs. Weasley. "what had happened to me?"
Mrs. Weasley pursed her lips. "I- we—well, I don't think I am the right person to answer it. Can you get up?" She placed her hands at his back, as he slowly sat atop the bed.
On closer glance, the room looked quite strange. For one, it was painted in green and silver, and not the usual saffron and gold that marked Ron's room. The bed felt much more comfortable, though the surroundings felt remotely alien to him. There were antiquities and artifacts all around, a large ornate mirror that looked as good as new, and some pictures and graffiti that he was sure Ron would never allow to stay on his wall.
"Where am I?" He repeated.
"You are in my house, godson."
Harry spun so quickly that his neck almost snapped. His godfather, the notorious Sirius Black was leaning against the door, looking at him, eagerly.
"Sirius…" Harry croaked.
Said man swiftly left his place and strode towards his favorite person on earth, as he hugged him. Harry reciprocated it reluctantly.
"How are you feeling, Harry?"
"I'm good, though I would feel better if someone told me where am I, and uhm, what am I doing here?"
Sirius grinned. "As I mentioned, you are in my House. This is the ancestral townhouse of the Blacks. Since I am the only Black left, it now belongs to me."
"How did I get here?" Harry pressed.
Sirius's grin vaporized off his gaunt face. "What do you remember, Harry?" He ignored the uncomfortable look that Mrs. Weasley gave him.
Harry furrowed his temples as he thought about what he last remembered. "I remember facing two dementors, and then my Patronus- it wasn't working, and then I thought I was about to die-" He paused for a moment, ignoring the looks of shock in everyone's eyes-"I—I closed my eyes and then—lightning-I think I cast another Patronus but the stag did not form, and then-", he paused, as he looked at Sirius, "I don't remember."
Sirius gave out an uncomfortable sigh.
"Harry, you were attacked by two dementors on Friday, August 2nd. Today is August 5th. You have been unconscious since then."
Whatever he had expected, this was not it. "The—three days? But, I just remember falling unconscious—but then-who brought me here? What happened to Dudley?"
"Harry-", Hermione offered with a reluctant expression, "Dudley, your cousin—he's dead."
Harry's pupils dilated, as he digested the words. While he had no love lost for his overweight cousin, he certainly didn't hate him enough to let him be killed, and certainly not by having a dementor suck off his soul.
"Your family wasn't in the right state to take you in, and-" Mrs. Weasley took over, "we brought you in."
I am surprised they didn't hack my unconscious body to pieces after what happened to Dudley!
"How did you-" Harry stopped midway, "right, you have been watching me, haven't you?" He almost sneered, though somehow the anger was missing.
"Harry mate, Dumbledore didn't want-" Ron spoke up for the first time, but a loud cough from Mrs. Weasley stopped him midway.
"Why don't you come down to have something, Harry? It's almost time for dinner." Mrs. Weasley replied with a little forced sweetness. "You must be hungry."
Harry wanted to refuse but the noise from his traitorous stomach proved otherwise.
Molly smiled. "Let's get you down. We can talk more after the meal."
It was scarcely less gloomy than the hall above, a cavernous room with rough stone walls. Most of the light was coming from a large fire at the far end of the room. A haze of pipe smoke hung in the air like battle fumes, through which loomed the menacing shapes of heavy iron pots and pans hanging from the dark ceiling. Many chairs had been crammed into the room for the meeting and a long wooden table stood in the middle of the room, littered with rolls of parchment, goblets, empty wine bottles, and a heap of what appeared to be rags. Mr. Weasley and his eldest son, Bill, were talking quietly with their heads together at the end of the table. It seemed that excluding the posh room in which he had been laid, the entirety of the house was dilapidated and filled with darkness and grime. He wondered silently what the Dursleys would have thought on seeing such a room. The thoughts about the Dursleys took him back to the news of Dudley's death.
Another of my family dead because of their association with me.
The dining hall, if it could be referred to as such, had another twenty something people in it. He wondered why all these people were staying together in a house that seemed to belong to the darkest of wizards.
Sirius's House. Maybe the Blacks were dark wizards or something.
He walked past Ron and sat beside him. Hermione sat on his other side, while Mrs. Weasley and Ginny sat opposite them. Ginny smiled shyly at him, and Harry returned a reluctant grin, not yet sure how to behave around the other girl. He could see Sirius sit at one end of the table with professor Lupin, and someone whom he ascertained to be a young woman with pink hair. Adjacent to them were Mr. Weasley, Bill and the twins, with the twins chatting amiably with Sirius and Professor Lupin. Sirius looked at Harry and gave a supportive smile. Harry reluctantly nodded back.
The sudden announcement made him spin his head, and just as expected, there was some kind of activity in the other room as Albus Dumbledore, in aquiline blue robes, and followed by a tall, bald, dark-skinned auror and another woman Harry did not recognize, entered the room. Then there was Hagrid who was following behind him, and lastly, much to Harry's shock, walked in Severus Snape. Dumbledore walked in and took the seat on the other end, followed by the remaining crowd who also took their seats, save for Snape.
"Won't you be attending Dinner, Professor Snape?" One of the men seated on Dumbledore's end asked meekly. Snape gave an expression of pained courtesy as he almost sneered, "I have some important business to attend to, as much as I would-" His dark onyx eyes glanced at Harry momentarily, "-like to celebrate the return of the Boy-who-lived to the world of the living."
Harry clenched his fists but did not reply back. He managed a passing glance at Sirius who looked angry and about to refute but Lupin held him back. Dumbledore simply coughed, and Snape, taking his cue, walked out of the dining room, leaving everyone in the awkward silence following the conversation.
"Ah Harry, my boy, nice to see you up and fine." Dumbledore replied cheerily, as Hagrid cheered with his glass of what Harry assumed was fire whiskey.
"I am fine," Harry hesitated, "—sir."
"I am surprised you haven't begun asking questions about what is going on, and about Voldemort and-" - everyone flinched-"the attack on your person."
"It did come across my mind, sir." Harry returned frostily, himself unsure where the sudden dislike towards the old man had germinated in his mind.
Dumbledore ignored it. "This," he paused. The man had a flare for dramatics, that was for sure- "is the headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix. It is an organization that was originally created to fight against Voldemort," -another flinch— "and his followers in the first war."
"Dumbledore's leading it, like he did in the first war, 'Arry!" Hagrid added.
Harry nodded slowly. "What had happened to me?"
Dumbledore looked at him non-commitally. "To be honest, my boy, I am still researching about it. I have some ideas, but none of them are established as correct. Why don't you tell me what you remember?"
Harry narrowed his eyes. This was the second time he had gotten this kind of evasive answer. "I was attacked by the dementors, and I tried to do my Patronus, but I almost failed, and then," He paused, trying to rethink what had happened, "I fell unconscious."
Dumbledore nodded, biting into his meal, as his moustache quivered. "Some of the Order members spotted it happening, but before anyone could do anything effective, you were already fighting with the dementor. However, they did spot what exactly had happened."
Harry edged closer to the table.
"Miss Vance?" Dumbledore urged. The woman seated three chairs next to him, cleared her throat. She looked kind of dainty, with a touch of aristocracy in her countenance.
"I was a little late for the Order shift, but when I did reach there, I spotted two dementors attacking you and your cousin, I believe, and I did spot you trying to do the Patronus. You were falling down on the ground, and the dementor was about to, you know-", she hesitated, "and then suddenly you stood up mechanically, and yelled out the charm." She paused with a tone of reverence in her voice, "—and I saw that great shaft of white light shoot out of your wand and cut the dementor in two pieces, while the other dementor shrieked and fled away."
I killed the dementor? But why can't I-
"Was there any lightning-you know, in the sky, Miss, erm, Vance?"
"Call me Emmeline. Emma if it's too long." She replied curtly. "No, there wasn't."
"Harry," Hermione dived in, "Dementors thrive in the dark. Everything turns cold and cloudy, remember? It is impossible that there was any kind of lightning in the sky."
"When we brought you here, you were burning, mate. Like, literally burning. Hermione's hands got scalded when she tried to hug you." Ron added, as Hermione flushed at the remark. "It took a day for you to cool down."
"We always knew you were hot, Harrikins," Fred teased, "but we didn't expect burning-hot."
Harry almost flushed. There, he just had to go ahead and show off another abnormality.
Why can't I just be normal?
Being normal is so overrated.
Who was that?
He almost stood up in shock, attracting glances from everyone else. Dumbledore looked at him oddly. "Everything all right, my boy?"
"Did anyone—well, speak to me just—never mind." He sat down on the chair, ignoring the looks of curiosity and sympathy on other's faces. He hated it.
"Is something the matter, Harry?" Professor Lupin asked.
"No, everything is all right. I just need some time to myself, I suppose." Harry mumbled. "What is Voldemort doing? I haven't read anything in the Prophet."
"You are children," Mrs. Weasley intervened, and that too rather loudly. "That is a topic for us to deal with." She was sitting bolt upright in her chair, her fists clenched upon its arms, every trace of motherly persona gone.
"Since when did someone have to be in the Order of the Phoenix to ask questions?" asked Sirius. "Harry's been trapped in that Muggle house for a month. He's got the right to know what's been happen. He has had to deal with Him since he was a toddler." Sirius countered heatedly. Harry felt a tinge of affection for the man. "Hang on!" interrupted George loudly.
"How come Harry gets his questions answered?" said Fred angrily.
"We've been trying to get stuff out of you for a month and you haven't told us a single stinking thing!" said George.
"You're too young, you're not in the Order," Fred butted in, in a high-pitched voice that sounded uncannily like his mother's. "Harry's not even of age!"
"It's not my fault you haven't been told what the Order's doing," said Sirius calmly. "That's your parents' decision. Harry, on the other hand —"
"It's not down to you to decide what's good for Harry!" said Mrs. Weasley sharply. Her normally kindly face looked dangerous. "You haven't forgotten what Dumbledore said, I suppose?" Neither of them cared to look at the very person they were quoting, who sat with a sublime expression on his face.
"Which bit?" Sirius asked politely, but with an air as though readying himself for a fight.
"The bit about not telling Harry more than he needs to know," said Mrs. Weasley, placing a heavy emphasis on the last three words.
"Sirius, Molly, please sit down." Dumbledore replied assertively. "While I agree that Harry is young and a teenager, it is obvious that he is the person Voldemort will and has been concentrating for the most, and thus, it is imperative that he should know about what is going on."
"Headmaster!" Mrs. Weasley replied in a shocked tone, her tone one of complete and utter disbelief. "You are supporting this decision? You yourself said that-"
"I know what I said, Molly. And I changed my original decision. I have accepted that no matter how hard I try; it always comes down to Harry at the end. Hence, it is imperative that certain things should change."
"I support his point, Molly." Lupin spoke up. "I think it better that Harry gets the facts — not all the facts, Molly, but the general picture — from us, rather than a garbled version from… others."
"Molly." Dumbledore asserted.
"Very well," Molly got up, looking very much ostensibly like a wounded tiger, retreating after a tough fight, "I see no one here wants to see my point of view." She cast a dirty look at Mrs. Weasley who seemed way too intent to talk to Bill, and then took a deep breath. "Very well, Harry stays. Everyone else, back to bed."
There was instant uproar.
"We're of age!" Fred and George bellowed together.
"If Harry's allowed, why can't I?" shouted Ron.
"Mum, I want to know!" wailed Ginny. Harry personally thought it to be rather childish of her.
"NO!" shouted Mrs. Weasley, standing up, her eyes bright. "I absolutely forbid —"
"Molly, you can't stop Fred and George," said Mr. Weasley wearily. "They are of age —"
"They're still at school —"
"But they're legally adults now," said Mr. Weasley in the same tired voice. Mrs. Weasley was now scarlet in the face.
"I — oh, all right then, Fred and George can stay, but Ron —"
"Harry'll tell me and Hermione everything you say anyway!" said Ron hotly. "Won't — won't you?" he added uncertainly, meeting Harry's eyes.
For a split second, Harry considered agreeing with Ron that he would tell him everything, but then the letters he had received, at the Dursleys came to mind. He slightly felt a little vindictive and agreed that he could try a taste of being kept in the dark and see how he liked it. The impulse increased as they looked at Hermione. For all her smarts, they had kept him in the dark.
"No, I won't. I will let you guys stay in the dark for some time and try see how it feels." Harry said. Ron and Hermione stood aghast. Mrs. Weasley smiled wearily. "Ron! Hermione! Ginny — BED!"
The three did not go quietly. They could hear them raging and storming all the way up the stairs.
"Okay, Harry… what do you want to know?" Sirius asked, almost happily.
Harry took a deep breath and asked the question that had been obsessing him for a month. "Where's Voldemort? What's he doing? I've been trying to watch the Muggle news," he said, ignoring the renewed shudders and winces at the name, "and there hasn't been anything that looks like him yet, no funny deaths or anything —"
"That's because there haven't been any suspicious deaths yet," said Sirius, "not as far as we know, anyway. And we know quite a lot."
"More than he thinks we do anyway," said Lupin.
"How come he's stopped killing people?" Harry asked. He knew that Voldemort had murdered more than once in the last year alone.
"Because he doesn't want to draw attention to himself at the moment," said Sirius. "It would be dangerous for him. His comeback didn't come off quite the way he wanted it to, you see. He messed it up."
"Or rather, you messed it up for him," said Lupin with a satisfied smile.
"How?" Harry asked perplexedly.
"You weren't supposed to survive!" said Sirius. "Nobody apart from his Death Eaters was supposed to know he'd come back. But you survived to bear witness."
"And the very last person he wanted alerted to his return the moment he got back was Dumbledore," said Lupin. "And you made sure Dumbledore knew at once."
"How has that helped?" Harry asked, almost sceptically.
"Are you kidding?" said Bill incredulously. "Dumbledore was the only one You-Know-Who was ever scared of!"
Briefly, Harry thought about how the sixteen-year-old had replied when Harry himself had repeated the very words in front of him around two years ago.
"Dumbledore has been driven away by a mere memory of me…."
He wondered if the adult, and much more powerful Tom Riddle deviated from that attitude, but kept it to himself.
"Thanks to you, Dumbledore was able to recall the Order of the Phoenix about an hour after Voldemort returned," said Sirius.
"So what's the Order been doing?" said Harry, looking around at them all.
"Working as hard as we can to make sure Voldemort can't carry out his plans," said Sirius.
"How do you know what his plans are?" Harry asked quickly, remembering the dreams he had gotten the previous year.
"Dumbledore's got a shrewd idea," said Lupin, "and Dumbledore's shrewd ideas normally turn out to be accurate."
Harry cast a calculative glance at Dumbledore, who seemed to be taking everything happening around him in a stride. Realising that the man himself preferred not to answer, and was perfectly happy with the question-answer session going on, he quickly looked back at Lupin.
"So what does Professor Dumbledore reckon he's planning?" He asked, casting a sideward glance at the old man who looked at him momentarily.
"Well, firstly, he wants to build up his army again," said Sirius. "In the old days he had huge numbers at his command; witches and wizards he'd bullied or bewitched into following him, his faithful Death Eaters, a great variety of Dark creatures. You heard him planning to recruit the giants; well, they'll be just one group he's after. He's certainly not going to try and take on the Ministry of Magic with only a dozen Death Eaters."
"So you're trying to stop him getting more followers?"
"We're doing our best," said Lupin.
"Well, the main thing is to try and convince as many people as possible that You-Know-Who really has returned, to put them on their guard," said Bill. "It's proving tricky, though."
"Because of the Ministry's attitude," said Tonks. "You saw Cornelius Fudge after You-Know-Who came back, Harry. Well, he hasn't shifted his position at all. He's absolutely refusing to believe it's happened."
How idiotic can someone be?
"You see the problem," said Lupin. "While the Ministry insists there is nothing to fear from Voldemort, it's hard to convince people he's back, especially as they really don't want to believe it in the first place. What's more, the Ministry's leaning heavily on the Daily Prophet not to report any of what they're calling Dumbledore's rumour-mongering, so most of the wizarding community are completely unaware anything's happened, and that makes them easy targets for the Death Eaters if they're using the Imperius Curse."
"Bow before Death, Harry"
"But you're telling people, aren't you?" said Harry, looking around at Mr. Weasley, Sirius, Bill, Lupin, and Vance. "You're letting people know he's back?"
They all smiled humourlessly.
"Well, as everyone thinks I'm a mad mass murderer and the Ministry's put a ten-thousand-galleon price on my head, I can hardly stroll up the street and start handing out leaflets, can I?" said Sirius restlessly.
"And I'm not a very popular dinner guest with most of the community," said Lupin. "It's an occupational hazard of being a werewolf."
"Tonks and Arthur would lose their jobs at the Ministry if they started shooting their mouths off," said Sirius, "and it's very important for us to have spies inside the Ministry, because you can bet Voldemort will have them."
"We've managed to convince a couple of people, though," said Mr. Weasley. "Tonks here, for one — she's too young to have been in the Order of the Phoenix last time, and having Aurors on our side is a huge advantage — Kingsley Shacklebolt's been a real asset too. He's in charge of the hunt for Sirius, so he's been feeding the Ministry information that Sirius is in Tibet."
And I thought you were wreaking havoc through Voldemort's plans…
"Ahem," Dumbledore coughed, returning Harry's attention to him. "As I mentioned previously, Harry is going to be an integral part of this war. Hence, my decision is to have him adequately trained so that he is not caught unaware in the present situation."
Every single eye stared at Dumbledore, ignoring the sudden screech of disbelief from Mrs. Weasley.
"Alastor," Dumbledore urged, and Mad-Eye-Moody, whom Harry had not yet spotted for some strange, inexplicable reason, sudden came to Harry's sight. "Harry, for your remaining stay at this place, you are going to be studying and advancing your defence studies under Alastor's supervision. I hope you will take advantage of this situation and learn the utmost."
Harry looked perpetually shocked. Albus Dumbledore, was really giving him something to learn, and the permission to practice magic during the summer? He briefly wondered what made the old man do this. The sudden feeling of irrepressible anger he felt at the man raised his ugly head for a moment.
"Advancing my defence… studies?"
"I believe you might have studied some advanced defence the previous year for the Triwizard, my boy?"
Harry almost flushed. All he had done was learn the summoning charm, and cry over his fate about how his best friend had deserted him.
"yes- yes, sir."
"Very well. Alastor here will be teaching you advanced defensive spell casting, so that you would be able to defend yourself and others when the time comes. Since Alastor can come only two days a week, I advise you to take his instruction thoroughly."
"Very well," Dumbledore replied, noticing at how the boy had finished dinner. He spared a single glance at Harry's scar. Looking at him through his half-moon glasses, he stared at Harry curiously. "My boy, is there anything… you wish to tell me?"
Harry wondered about the voice he had heard, about the blue lightning, about the dementor attack, and about the oddly wise and sarcastic voice in his head….
"Very well. You may go."