Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.

"The Knowing"

by Christine Anderson

aka Lilly Malfoy

A lot goes on in the house at Number Twelve, Grimmauld Place. A lot of things that, large as the place is, most everyone knows. A lot of things that, despite knowing, they will never speak of around the breakfast table.

Everyone knows what Molly Weasley saw when she finally went to rid that writing desk on the second floor of the boggart which had been living there. Everyone knows, but no one talks about it, because it is private, and painful, and bringing it up would hurt her.

No one wants to hurt her; none of them want to hurt any of the others.

Sometimes they fight, and sometimes they argue; sometimes, as with Severus Snape and Sirius Black, they nearly come to blows, nearly come to duels. But they are on the same side, fighting for the same ends, and somehow the most important thing has become that fight. Has become standing together, shoulder to shoulder.

They will hate each other in peace, maybe, when it's over. If it's ever over.

Everyone knows when Sturgis Podmore betrays them. Everyone knows when Alastor Moody tries to hex Mrs. Black's hateful portrait into silence. Everyone knows what caused the subsequent wreckage of the entryway, and that it was not an accident-prone Auror.

Everyone knows that it is Nymphadora Tonks who runs to him, who helps him to his feet and snaps right back at him when he screams at her that he doesn't need any bloody help, he's just fine, and one of these days he is going to *kill* that fucking painting-

Everyone knows when they stop yelling at one another, when they have fallen into each other's arms, kissed each other into silence. Everyone knows that he thinks he is too old, too bitter, too scarred- Everyone knows that she doesn't care.

Everyone knows that she loves him, though it might be a while before she says it.

They know, too, when he stops objecting, when he accepts her presence as his shadow, her place at his side. Everyone knows when she gives up any pretense of keeping her own room, when she shares his bed.

Everyone knows when Mundungus Fletcher teases her about this, and from whence came the hex-marks that decorate his face for the better part of a week. They know Tonks learned from the best, that Moody taught her well. Know she is never going to apologize for the curses, is never going to take them back- and would have let him go on like that forever if Hermione Granger hadn't taken pity on him and preformed the counter-jinxes.

They know it was Moody who put three of Fletcher's teeth out when he started in again.

They know it was Moody, too, who calls her Dora and gets away with it.

They know when Sirius Black and Remus Lupin fight over the foolish risks Black is taking, and when they make up. They know that Lupin can never be found in the room that is supposed to be his, because he stays with Sirius. Everyone knows this.

It is the first thing any of them came to know at Grimmauld Place. But it isn't the last.

Everyone knows that Severus Snape is their spy amongst Voldemort's forces. Everyone knows, after the first night he stayed in the house, how much it pains him, how much it troubles him-

They know it was Minerva McGonagall who went to comfort him in the night; know she was the only one he would let past his door. They know that he is haunted by his past, by what he is done. They know that he is trying to make amends.

They know that Severus and Minerva are sleeping together, that they have been for a long time. That every time he goes to the Death Eaters, every time he answers Voldemort's summons, he kisses her goodbye, holds her as if he might never see her again. They know that he might not. And that she waits until he is gone to weep.

Amongst themselves they are more than friends, enemies, lovers, allies, and they know this, too- they all know this. They know their world as one of secrets hidden just beneath the surface, a veil of secrecy through which they can all see. It is an illusion in which they all take part.

They know that any of them would die to save any other, but there are among them those who would go to the greatest, the farthest, that they could, for those they truly love.

They know their love is a chink in their collective armor, but they know too that today, tonight, this moment, may be all that they have, and they are unwilling to live life any way but to its fullest. They know that without each other to lean upon, without friendship and love to hold them up, they are nothing. That together they are strong enough, maybe, to do what has to be done.

Together they are strong enough to fight.

And they know that they are fighting a war their world refuses to acknowledge has come again; that for now they are the last line of defense, all that stands between life as they know it and Voldemort ascendant. Know that they may not be able to stop him, but that they must *believe*, with every bit of resolve they possess, that they will do so. Know that if they cannot believe this, they are already lost.

They know that they will take losses. Know that the photograph now hanging in the kitchen where they hold their councils of war is testament to that; more than half the people in that photograph are dead, or worse. And they know that this too could be the fate of any one of them. Still they go on, because they must.

They are the Order of the Phoenix; if one of them falls, another will rise. On and on, until only one remains. And if that should come to pass, that one will *still* be the Order of the Phoenix, because everything they have, all they ever have been, all that they have the potential to become, has come to reside in that one last survivor; rising from the ashes.

They will endure. And they will fight to their last breath, struggle forever against the dark if that is what it takes-

And they come together, in the nights, in the early mornings, in stolen moments, sharing hopes and dreams and fears, daring- daring to think of the future, of what might come after. Daring to fall in love.

Moody with his scarred hands in Tonks' spiky hair, Sirius and Remus curled around each other, Snape and Minerva holding tight to each other... Everyone knows what they feel, and that they are afraid only for each other.

Everyone knows their greatest fears, not for themselves but for children and lovers and friends- Everyone knows that they all will weep for the fallen, huddle together for a moment of grief, and carry on.

Everyone knows that as strange a location as it seems, they will forever have fond memories of Grimmauld Place, memories of laughter and kisses, hands in the dark, whispers that no matter what comes, they will not face it alone.

Everyone knows when the Second War comes in earnest, when it takes its first casualties. Everyone knows when Sirius Black falls beyond the veil.

Everyone knows when, try as they might to bring down his killer, she has gotten away.

Everyone knows when Remus Lupin's detachment breaks, shatters and crumbles away to nothing.

They gather and regroup, lick their wounds in the house at Grimmauld Place. No one questions the source of the several large casks of Firewhisky that have appeared in the kitchen; they know it has come from Mundungus, and for once no one cares. No one bothers to tell him off for storing stolen goods in the house- the Firewhisky is gone before its presence can become a problem.

Snape crawls home near dawn the day after Sirius falls, and as he lets himself in he is so weak he can hardly stand. And for once no one thinks that this is Snape, that he is mistrusted or hated- Moody takes one of his arms and Remus the other, and they take him to the kitchen, pour him a very large drink, and listen as he relates the tale of where he has been, what he has seen...

He buries his face in his hands when at last they tell him Sirius has died.

The others turn away for a moment, go to answer a knock at the door. When they return with the Weasley twins, he has gone.

None of them are surprised, they know where he has gone. Dorilys via Phineas confirms it, as they check up upon him just in case- he is seen walking through St. Mungo's, one of the best illusions any of them have ever seen firmly in place, looking whole, healthy...

They know that he has gone to see Minerva, and to tell her... and none of them for all the world would intrude.

Dobby comes the next morning, with a note from Dumbledore which he tacks to Moody's bedroom door for Tonks, who he does not wish to disturb. She wakes to find that the house belongs to her now, though she has not inherited its former house-elf, Kreacher having gone to serve Narcissa Black Malfoy.

Every one of them hears Tonks swear that if ever she sees the house elf again, she will kill him. And no one dares to gainsay her in this; in fact they vow as one to help her.

Moody does, however, put his foot down- with a resounding *clunk*- when she announces her determination to go to Wiltshire and curse the superior smile off of her Aunt Narcissa's lovely face. It isn't, he tells her, that he disagrees with the sentiment, but a raid on the Malfoy manor requires much more planning if it's to be done right, and with Lucius in Azkaban- for all of five minutes, perhaps, but even so- he doesn't really see as the uppity bitch is worth the effort.

He doesn't, however, stop her from storming upstairs and making several serious alterations to the Black family tree.

The others gather to watch as she blasts off Narcissa, Bellatrix, Lucius, Rudolphus Lestrange-

She waves her wand, flicks it furiously towards the tapestry, and suddenly Sirius's name is back, glowing silver amid the gold.

The Black family motto reweaves itself into the words "The Order of the Phoenix", and below it she writes her name, then beckons the others forward. They sign their names as well, and as they do so Tonks is busy again, writing-

"In memory of the fallen," she writes.

And below "Sirius Black", she writes, "Frank Longbottom. Alice Moody Longbottom. Lily Evans Potter. James Potter..." Every name of every member who has ever fallen. When she begins to cry, cry so hard she can no longer see the tapestry, others step up to take her place, and carry on.

That is how Dumbledore finds them, making their memorial wall, hugging each other, blowing their noses on robe sleeves. Just after he turns up comes Dobby, with several large boxes of tissues and a huge tray of drinks.

Everyone knows Dumbledore's pride in them- they feel it flowing outward from the ties that bind them all. Everyone knows he does not have to say it.

But say it he does.

They know that the wall is not complete, that it will not be, until upon it are three more names.

Dumbledore writes his, but upon the others still they wait.

Everyone knows when it is complete, though it happens late the next night. Minerva and Snape have returned, and the first thing they do is go to the tapestry and add to it.

They come down the stairs to the kitchen, leaning upon each other.

It's then they take the picture- this is what they have been waiting for, the last return. They crowd together, Moody, Tonks, Remus, Snape, Minerva, Fred and George, Molly and Arthur, Mundungus, Dumbledore, all of the others.

Fawkes swoops down, lands upon the camera, and trips the shutter when they are all in place.

They are sitting, relaxed, looking as if they have all landed there by chance, when the others troop downstairs for breakfast. And if there are secret little smiles exchanged, brief touches that always seem to follow a pattern- Moody to Tonks, Tonks to Moody, Snape to Minerva- no one really notices.

Harry Potter doesn't know. The Weasley children don't know. Hermione Granger, Neville Longbottom, the others who aspire to the Order, do not know. But one day they will. One day, when they have come far enough in their studies, matured enough to understand the responsibility- then, if they still wish to, they will join the Order, and then they will know.

So it has been for all of the others.

Everyone knows... but the secrets are still secrets, because they will never tell.

And it is not so simple as knowing who holds who in the dark, not so simple as knowing the deepest and darkest fears of the people across the table- It is in the knowing, and the accepting, that they have their strength. For they are bound close as family, brothers, sisters, lovers.

And all the others know is that something binds them, some camaraderie of shared experience, ties them together despite their differences.

They have no way of knowing that it's everything.