A/N: I will be attempting to update each of my stories at least once before HP6 comes out. Promise. And I give you full permission to lynch me if I break that promise.
CH33: Return to Order
Previous Chapter: Dumbledore paused, eyes twinkling and his lips quirked upwards in a small smirk.
"And the new Second Chair of the Order of the Phoenix is …"
Everyone held their breath.
Hermione fell out of her chair.
The hush in the room grew stronger before everyone broke into loud, anxious noise.
"Did he say Potter?"
"But he's just a child!"
"There must be a mistake!"
"He's a Death Eater!"
Harry squeezed his amber eyes shut tight. This can't be happening. It can't. It can't. No way. It can't it can't it can't can't can't! When I open my eyes, this will all be gone. He slowly peered through half-lidded eyes. The commotion of the room still stood before him. Oh, fuck. I can't be here. I've got to get out of here!
Hermione looked up from where she lay dazed on the floor. "Did – did he just say …" She gulped. "Did he just say 'Harry Potter'?"
"Attention!" Fudge cried out. "Attention! We must have order now!" He looked as pale and nervous as Hermione supposed she did right then. A calm fell momentarily over the room as everyone turned to hear him speak. "Oh dear. Now, uh, I guess the first thing we do is contact Mr. Potter. I'm not sure how to go about that," he further mumbled to himself, "As he is currently in a Death Eater camp–"
"Actually," Hermione found herself speaking up, "he is right–" She looked at Harry's chair and blinked. "Where did he go?"
Harry felt the world dissolve around him and he landed on the thankfully soft surface with a thud. He took a deep breath and slowly sat up. Opening his eyes, he found the chaos of the room had been replaced by …
Lucius Malfoy stood in the doorway, looking bored. "Our Master would like to see you now."
"He knew I'd be here?" Harry asked, confused.
"Our Master knows all, Potter," he said in a pointed tone. "You should have realized that by now." He gave Harry's blue hair a distasteful look. "And do try to clean up a bit before seeing him." With a sharp turn, he left the room.
Harry gritted his teeth and left the room, tracing the all too familiar root to Tom's private study.
"I didn't see anything," Hermione protested. She was seated in high-backed chair in front of the Minister's desk. The Minister himself was looming down on here, a frown on his lips. Dumbledore stood behind him, looking concerned. "I swear. One second he was there and the next … I don't even know when he left. I didn't pay much attention to him after the beginning of the proceedings. With everything going on, I was focused on the ceremony instead of Harry."
"Are you sure, Miss Granger?" Fudge asked again, disappointed by the girl's testimony.
"Yes!" she said emphatically.
Fudge rounded on Albus. "Now what do you suppose we do, Albus? We need Potter here. And soon. We can't open the door without him."
"I know," Dumbledore replied wearily. Hermione bit her lip. The famous meeting room of the Order of the Phoenix. No one but a Phoenix member knew what happened in that room, but everyone was aware of the importance of it. Traditionally, the room was sealed when the Order was inactive, but reopened at midnight after the ceremony. It fully sealed the fate of each wizard or witch chosen to be part of the Order. However, every member needed to be present to open the door and if Harry was missing…
Fudge glanced at his watch. "Four hours, Albus. Where should we start looking for him?"
Dumbledore rubbed his forehead. "I'll send Fawkes to him with a message. If Fawkes can't find him, then we can't."
"There is a way to open the door without the boy, isn't there?" wheedled Fudge.
Sighing, Dumbledore gave him a grave look. "There is. However, it will not be a full Order, nowhere near as stable as it should be. The power of the Order has always been distributed among its members, adding on to the person's own power source and fueling it with knowledge and secrets that the members are supposed to protect. Without Harry, that power will be unevenly distributed and some of the knowledge could potentially be lost, or worse, fall into the wrong hands."
Hermione spoke up first to this news. "Isn't there a way that Harry could be found later and then take his rightful place?"
"Yes, there is Miss Granger. But Harry will have to face a task, chosen by the Orb of Tenus, to prove his loyalty to the cause of Light." He looked out the window. "If he is not found before midnight, we will open the door as planned. And we will pray."
"Ah, I see your Metamorphmagus powers finally manifested, Harry," Voldemort said as his young protégé entered the room. "That makes me proud. Please, have a seat."
Harry didn't budge from his spot in the doorway. "How did I get here, Tom?"
"Portkey," he answered simply, motioning to Harry's neck. Harry glanced down, eyes landing on the small chain laying there. Charlie Weasley had given it to him for his birthday. As he fingered the thin dragon's fang hanging there, he turned his gaze on Voldemort.
"How long has it been there?"
"Since you were you marked. I couldn't have you wandering too far away, my Harry."
"Bastard," Harry muttered.
"However," Voldemort continued blithely, as if oblivious to the insult, "I need not have worried."
Harry frowned. "What do you mean?"
"That Portkey is designed in a very special way. It can be activated in two different ways: by me manually activating it and calling you home–"
"I'd never call this place home," Harry spat out.
"– or if you wished to be here," Voldemort finished, a smirk on his face. "It seems, my Harry, subconsciously or not, you felt safe enough here to come back when you felt threatened. Now come sit down, Harry." He pulled out a chair and Harry reluctantly sat down in it. "And tell me why you came back."
"You already know."
"I do," he agreed. "But I want to hear it from you."
"I was chosen for the Order of the Phoenix," Harry said quietly.
Voldemort raised his eyebrows. "But that's a high honor, Harry. Why ever would you run from that?"
"I don't know."
"I think you do, my Harry." He slowly stood, walking behind Harry, and putting his arms on the boy's shoulders. "I think you were afraid. Afraid that joining them meant that you would never be able to come back here. Afraid that you would lose the one place that you ever truly belonged."
"No," he protested weakly, staring at his lap. "I don't belong here."
"Yes, you do. You always have. You may wear the mark of the Phoenix on your arm, but you were never one of them." He knelt in front of the sitting teen and looked straight into his eyes. "It's time you finally leave that world and join us. This is your world, Harry, its time you accepted that."
Harry stared deep into Voldemort's eyes, unknowingly reflecting the same red back in his own eyes. "Tom? I–I–"
"Say it, Harry. Join us."
"No!" he finally shouted, leaping from his chair. "No, I can't! I am not one of you and I never will be!"
Voldemort straightened up and gave Harry a disdainful look. "You are not one of them either."
"I can be," he growled.
Somewhere far off in the mansion, a clock chimed the hour. Twelve times and Voldemort smiled.
"It's too late now."
Dumbledore stood in front of the gathered Order of the Phoenix, who all stared eagerly back at him. "Fawkes came back with the message still attached to his leg. Although the Aurors found traces of Portkey use from this room at the time of Mr. Potter's disappearance, there isn't enough time to track them to their destination. I'm afraid we shall have to proceed without Harry."
Amelia Bones stood up. "But, Albus, you know what that could–"
Dumbledore held up his hand, silencing her protests. "I know. But we don't have a choice." He nodded grimly and motioned the rest of the Order to stand. "We must now begin."
Harry rushed down the corridor, knocking over two black-cloaked figures emerging from a side room. He burst out of the manor, racing across the lawn. He barely made it to the fence.
A sharp pain shot through his side, forcing him to halt. He fell to his knees, breathing gaspingly as the pain traveled, shot up closer and closer to his heart. With one last heave, he fell to the grass, eyes rolled back into his head.
Albus Dumbledore took in a rough breath, magic coursing through his finger tips. He focused, as the rest of the Order was doing, on the door in front of him, the Orb of Tenus firmly mounted into the center of it. Power spilled from the cloudy sphere, swirling around the group. The ritual was near done and the Phoenix power was pouring through every member, cleansing them, enhancing them –
Albus' eyes shot open. The power coming out was too strong, too untamed to managed. It was overtaking them, pulling them under. He struggled to hold on to it. If he could only tame the magic, he could –
A great wind swept through the hall and the torches went out in a burst of last, desperate light. Ahead of them, a door slowly creaked open.