"Hermione, you heard what Dumbledore said, we can't tell him anything! Wha d'you think 'd happen if someone got their hands on the letter?"
"Oh, honestly, Ron, it's not as if I'm planning on sending Hedwig back with Headquarters' address! But you know as well as me that if Dumbledore thinks Harry will just sit tight and twiddle his thumbs the summer after he saw Voldemort come back, he's got another think coming!"
It was the middle of July, and Hermione Granger and Ronald Weasley were having their umpteenth argument of the day. Ever since they had moved into 12 Grimmauld Place, Hermione had been adamant Harry be given some news- he had a right to know what was going on, and given their friend's hot temper, sheltering him wasn't going to prove very successful. Ron was inclined to agree with her, but he didn't share her belief that even the mighty Albus Dumbledore could do wrong once in a while, and he certainly didn't want to get on the headmaster's nerves before term even began.
"Fine. You're right, I guess- I mean, if it was you two hiding things from me, I'd be pretty damn pissed, and that's without him murdering my parents." He shuddered at his words as he said them- with Voldemort back, everyone could feel a war getting closer, and nobody felt safe.
"Thanks, Ron. Well, we can't tell him about the Order- I don't think anyone not in it knows its even reformed, so it wouldn't do for that to get out in the open… Maybe we could say that a lot of people are here and they're taking steps to figure out what to do? But that'll just get him angry that he can't help.." sighing, she threw herself onto the bed and let herself sink into the mattress.
"What we need" said Ron from his place on the other side of the cramped room "is something You-Know-Who and his lot already know, or wouldn't be able to use- though I wager anything they don't care about Harry won't really either. And there's really no way anyone knows what You-Know-Who-"
Hermione sat up. "Snape."
"Greasy git. What d'you have to bring him up for?"
"He would know, Ron."
"Well, think about it! You're the one that always jumps to call him a Death Eater! If anyone knows what Voldemort knows about the Order, it's him."
"Yeah, it's probably he who tells You-Know-Who in the first place."
Hermione didn't argue the point with him; it wasn't the time to educate Ron on deception.
Ron, unfazed, carried on. "Besides, it's not as if we can go up and ask him, is it? 'Um, excuse me, Professor, d'you mind telling us what Voldywarts knows 'bout the Order, since you're spending so much time with him?' He'd skin us and use our innards as potions ingredients!"
"No, I suppose not…"
"I wish we could use one of those muggle tele-thingys. Dad's got one downstairs, but it won't work with so much magic around."
"I've noticed, even my parents are owling me now- hang on- Ron, you're a genius!"
Obviously not expecting this declaration, but not about to refute it, Ron sent her a bewildered look. "I am?"
"How many muggle-born Death Eaters do you know? We'll just tell him as in Muggle terms, and even if the owl gets intercepted, they'll think we're talking about the things that, well, normal teens talk about."
"I am a genius!"
Hermione smirked as she shoved Ron out of the way and sat at the desk. It was going to be good to have both her friends with her at last- and to be able to keep an eye on Harry, who wasn't doing all that well if his letters and Sirius's reaction to not being allowed to "do anything bloody useful" was anything to go by.
How are you? We haven't heard from you in quite some while. I know you can't wait to get out of the Shire, but I expect we'll be seeing you here at Rivendell soon enough. Gandalf is here with us, and The Fellowship of the Ring is being formed- that's the same Fellowship they formed last time the Ring needed to be destroyed. Gandalf is in charge of it, and there are quite a lot of people we know. We don't know anything about it, because they won't let us anywhere near the Council of Elrond, so that's all the news we have. We're trying to get Gandalf to let us in on something, but he's all "You shall not pass". Anyway, Sauron and the Nazgul don't know about any of this, as far as we know, so you'll want to destroy it- Gandalf'd have us expelled or something if he found out.
Merry and Pippin
Grinning, Harry ran the parchment under water until it started tearing up and the ink diffused through it. He had been going half mad, not being able to tell the Dursleys that the maddest, baddest wizard was after him again, and tracking the Muggle news in case the Death Eaters made an appearance. Good grief, Gandalf. He was glad Hermione had thought to give him some information, even if it was in the form of Lord of the Ringsreferences and he'd had to wrack his brains to remember the plot. It seemed she'd (or perhaps it'd been Ron's idea) also keyed the parchment to his touch, because when he wasn't holding it, it turned into a recipe for Cauldron Cakes.
"HARRY! You're here! You've got to tell us everything- Dementors? In Little Winging? And there's no way they can expel you, there are exceptions to that statute-"
"Let him breathe, Hermione," said Ron, grinning as he closed the door behind them.
"I'll tell you about the Dementors in a bit" said Harry, who still hadn't quite gotten used to the fact. "But first, what is this place? And thanks for the letter, it might have been the only thing keeping hold of my sanity- but what's the Fellowship? And Rivendell?"
"Well, this is Rivendell- I'm just joking. But I couldn't very well tell you we were at the headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix, could I? That's the Fellowship, by the way, the Order of the Phoenix. It's the group that Dumbledore formed last time to fight Voldemort, and it's rebanded now. They won't let any of the 'children' near a meeting, though," Hermione finished, huffing with obvious annoyance.
"So what are you doing, if it's not fighting Voldemort?"
"We" started Ron "are decontaminating the house with my mum. Honestly, mate, houses shouldn't be left alone this long- stuff's bred in here. If I have to clean out another niffler nest, I think I'm going to become one myself."
But before he could go on about the horrors of cleaning Grimmauld Place under the command of Molly Weasley, she interrupted them herself- "Harry! Ron! Hermione! Dinner's ready!" Bounding down the stairs, Harry collided with something solid, and decided not Molly Weasley.
"So, my godson's home."
"Sirius!" Harry, embracing his godfather as the rest of the Order made its way to the kitchen table.
Out of the corner of her eye, Hermione spyed Snape make his way towards the door. Harry seemed to have noticed it as well, but he didn't say anything, obviously elated to be reunited with Sirius. Hermione was sure, however, that she was alone in noticing the slightly stiff way the man held himself, and the slight limp he seemed to be walking with. Taking her place at the table, she couldn't help but wonder- what's wrong with him? And why doesn't he ever stay?