Disclaimer: Harry Potter and all related things belong to JK Rowling. I am making no profit off of this (though, nice reviews are a much more enjoyable reward than money, anyway.)
Author's Notes: This is an alternative universe story, so it may be slightly confusing at first (I don't know, because I'm the author so I obviously understand the story.) Feel free to review and ask any questions. Oh, and one more thing; just to clear up any confusion, the newspaper article was written in 1989. The actual story is taking place in 1999. Enjoy!
The Order's Task
The Daily Prophet
August 10th, 1989
by Special Correspondent Philip Moore
After eight years of peaceful times and happiness, He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, the Dark wizard whose power endangered many wizards and witches, has returned. Death Eaters, the followers of You-Know-Who, supposedly came back to his service immediately after his resurrection. The Dark Lord and Death Eaters attacked Diagon Alley, invoking fear and shock upon the innocent victims of the attack.
While the Ministry of Magic remains in an uproar over this turn of events, St. Mungo's Hospital is packed with those wizards and witches that managed to survive the dreadful attack. The death toll is estimated to be slightly over three hundred people.
The Wizarding World is filled with confusion over the devastating return of You-Know-Who. On Halloween, 1981, he was thought to have finally left, when he disappeared after a killing curse failed. The curse had been aimed at one-year-old Harry Potter, the son of James and Lily Potter, both of whom were very active in the war. Having survived the curse, many wizards and witches took to calling Potter the "Boy-Who-Lived". In a bizarre twist of events, sources have reported that Potter went missing early last week, though no one is sure, as his previous location remains unknown. For more on that story, turn to page eleven.
Cornelius Fudge, Minister for Magic, appeared at a press conference yesterday afternoon, stating what he intends to do about the situation. "I assure you that we at the Ministry of Magic will do our best to handle the situation." Fudge told reporters." We are dealing with this and for the time being no one is in any immediate danger..."
Hermione sighed and folded the old newspaper, dropping it onto her desk. Lord Voldemort had come back into power ten years ago, even before Hermione had discovered her magical abilities. She had entered the Wizarding World as an enthusiastic, curious, young girl but the war had been going on for a few years up until that point, and she quickly learned that the exciting new experiences came hand-in-hand with the prejudice and evil that haunted this world.
Hermione was now a confident, intelligent young woman, who had only graduated Hogwarts a year ago. She had been Head Girl, and received some of the highest marks of the past century. Her achievement in school had allowed her to become a professor at Hogwarts directly after graduation. Like many other Hogwarts staff, Professor Flitwick, the Charms professor, had been seriously injured in an attack while away from the safety of the school. He was recovering, but wasn't expected to return to his teaching position, so Albus Dumbledore had jumped at the chance to hire the former Head Girl.
As an active member of the Order of the Phoenix, Hermione spent all her spare time working diligently to fight against Voldemort and the Death Eaters. Albus Dumbledore was now enlisting her help for something completely different than anything that other Order members were doing. Hermione had always been exceptionally good at spellwork, even more than she was a Potions and Arithmancy, and Dumbledore had realized this talent. He was putting it to use by having Hermione work on creating a new spell. The Hogwarts Headmaster had worked closely with her, to create a spell to search for a specific witch or wizard. Dumbledore told Hermione that is was vital to find Harry Potter, even after all these years of unsuccessful search attempts. However, these plans had been kept very secret. The Order knew that Hermione was working to develop a spell, but they had no idea what it would do.
Hermione's hard work over the past year had finally paid-off and the spell worked flawlessly. With the proper concentration, and application of magic, they should be able to find Harry Potter. If he was still alive, that is.
Pulled from her thoughts, Hermione walked towards the door, and having expected to be greeted by the face of a fellow professor, she was a bit startled to see the tired face of Ginny Weasley.
"What are you doing here, Ginny? Shouldn't you be saying good-bye to your friends?"
Hermione asked curiously. Ginny was still technically a student, though it was her last day of school. She and Hermione had been good friends at school and had remained that way. However, Ginny wasn't supposed to be able to enter the professors' chambers without one of them giving the password away.
"The train left for platform nine and three-quarters about fifteen minutes ago. Professor McGonagall asked me to tell you that the meeting's about to start." Ginny answered.
The Order was supposed to meet today right after summer holidays began. Hermione had gone over her notes so many times that she was too preoccupied with the spell to notice that the meeting was drawing near. "Right," said Hermione. "Let's get going."
Hermione and Ginny walked the halls of Hogwarts in silence. Hermione was very apprehensive about this meeting. She knew that things were about to change drastically for the Order, since the creation of this spell. She supposed that Ginny was also quite nervous, as she hadn't been in the Order for long and was probably not yet used to the stress that came with being so closely involved in the war. Hermione suspected that she hadn't completely gotten over the attack on the Burrow, the one that the Weasleys had fortunately all gotten out of safe. Ginny's presence at that attack was one of the reasons why Dumbledore had allowed her into the Order before graduating, along with the fact that all her other family members were also in the Order.
"Pepper Imps." Hermione said, when she arrived in front of a familiar stone gargoyle. She had once tried to convince Dumbledore to try a more secure password, but the Headmaster was set on using the names of different sweets.
The gargoyle moved to reveal a stairway leading to the headmaster's office, and Hermione quickly walked upwards.
"Ah, welcome Hermione. Ginny." Dumbledore said calmly, motioning for them to sit down.
Hermione saw Ginny go sit between her mother and her brother, Bill. Hermione, however, went to sit beside one of Ginny's other brothers, Ron.
Ron had been Hermione's best friend when she was at school, and they had remained friends despite the romantic turn in their relationship which took place in their seventh year.
"Hello." Ron smiled, pulling a chair out for her. "Is the spell ready?"
Hermione raised a questioning eyebrow.
"Alright, I suppose that's a stupid question. After all, when have you ever not had something done on time? Well, actually, there was that time in fourth year..."
"That wasn't my fault, Ronald Weasley." Hermione exclaimed.
"I'm sure it wasn't." Ron teased.
"It really wasn't!" Hermione stated, trying to keep a straight face. "Fred and George jinxed my homework so that it would bite me if I started writing!"
"A very likely story." Ron continued, for the sake of bothering Hermione. Then, after a moment he said, "Actually, that doesn't seem too far-fetched compared to other things that they've done..."
Suddenly, Albus Dumbledore stood up, commanding the attention of everyone in the room.
"Hello, everyone." He said calmly. "Now, I understand that many of you have jobs which you must return to quickly, so I hope that this meeting will be brief.
"As you are all aware, Hermione Granger has been working on a spell to greatly assist the Order. What you don't know is what this spell does and how is will be used. The spell which she had created can be used to find any witch or wizard on Earth. I believe it is necessary that we use it to find someone who went missing many years ago. Harry Potter."
Dumbledore didn't quite look as if he had finished his speech, but the brief pause which he took seemed to have been misinterpreted.
To her left, Hermione heard Professor Minerva McGonagall begin to ask Dumbledore a series of questions.
"Harry?" McGonagall said sternly. "Surely, Albus, you don't think there's still a chance that he's ..."
McGonagall's words were drowned out by exclamations from other members.
"Albus, you sure? You know there's no chance of finding the boy after all these years." Said Mad-Eye Moody in his gruff voice.
Remus Lupin, who had been very quiet until this point, finally spoke. "There is always a chance, but even if we find out what happened to him, it's unlikely that he's alive..." He trailed off, with a tone in his voice that Hermione didn't think she had ever heard.
"It is essential that we find Harry and pray that he is still alive." Dumbledore continued, once the outbursts had halted.
He didn't say anymore, but some Order members obviously thought they deserved an explanation for why they needed to find him.
"What d'you mean? said Kingsley Shacklebolt. "Even if Harry Potter is still alive, why is this such a big priority for the order?"
Dumbledore sighed. "That, I am sorry to say, I cannot tell you yet. There are a select few of you that do know, but no one else will for now."
Hermione noticed that both Remus Lupin and Severus Snape nodded knowingly.
"Now," Dumbledore said, "I have another task for some of you. It will be very difficult to find Harry, even if the spell works properly. I will need volunteers to help."
Silence quickly descended upon the room. No one seemed overly anxious to help, especially when they didn't know how finding Harry could possibly be more important than the other things which the order had been working on.
"I'll go." said Remus quietly, his eyes fixed on Dumbledore.
Dumbledore shook his head. "You can't, Remus," he said, "tomorrow is the full moon. It is important that this task be started immediately. I'm sorry."
Remus simply nodded.
"I should go." Hermione stated. "It is my spell, after all."
"I agree." said Dumbledore. "It is a complex spell, and you can probably perform it the best."
"Then, I'm going." said Ron almost immediately.
"Me, too." Ginny added.
Hermione smiled gratefully at her friends.
"Very well," said Dumbledore. "Anyone else? I'm sure that Hermione, Ginny and Ron wouldn't mind any extra help."
Luna Lovegood, who was sitting on the other side of the office spoke up, "I think I'll go. Harry is alive, after all, they just want you to think he isn't."
Who they were, nobody bothered to ask.
Hermione looked around the office, hoping for more volunteers. McGonagall looked as if she desperately wanted to help, but thought there was little chance that Harry was alive. Others in the room were also looking apprehensive. Nymphadora Tonks, Mundungus Fletcher, Emmeline Vance...
"I'll 'elp find 'Arry." Rubeus Hagrid said.
"Hagrid," Dumbledore replied slowly, "you know you can't. You would need to be able to use magic."
This statement caused Hagrid to dawn a look of disappointment, but he accepted the Headmaster's opinion without question.
"I - I could help..." said Neville Longbottom timidly.
Everyone seemed to be shocked at this statement. Neville had never been exceptionally brave but he was often very helpful. However, he had gotten a little bit more courageous since being accepted into the Order.
Dumbledore's eyes were twinkling behind his half moon glasses. "Thank you, Neville." He replied. "Well, it seems that we have enough volunteers. I suggest that the five of you leave tonight. You may all go."
Everyone filed out of the office quietly, but as soon as they were out, people shared their thoughts on this task. Hermione could hear bits and pieces of various conversations.
"- completely mad -"
"I don't know about that, maybe -"
"- always a chance -"
Ron grabbed Hermione's hand and pulled her from the busy crowd.
"What d'you think about this?" He asked.
"I suppose there's a chance of finding Harry Potter. It's unlikely, but still possible."
Hermione sighed. Even after having known for months about Dumbledore wanting to find Harry, she still didn't know if it was likely.
Ron nodded his head. "Bit cynical, aren't they?" He said, gesturing towards the chattering crowd.
"Not necessarily. They probably shouldn't be getting their hopes up, anyway." Hermione stated.
"Come on, let's get ready." said Ginny, who had just showed-up at Ron's side with Neville and Luna. "We've got a lot of work in front of us."
The Hogwarts gates opened and Hermione, Ron, Ginny, Neville and Luna headed outwards, wands tight in their hands, as they left the Apparation-proof zone.
They were probably still safe, as Voldemort had not yet dared to attack so close to Hogwarts, probably due to fear of Dumbledore.
"Ready?" Ginny asked. "We'll Apparate on three. One ... two-"
"Wait!" Neville said urgently. "What's the address again?"
"Number four, Privet Drive," supplied Hermione.
"All right. Now, one ... two ... three!" Ginny shouted.
Suddenly, Hermione saw a row of small orderly houses materialize before her eyes. The street had a look about it that suggested they'd be extremely unwelcome should they try to befriend any of the residents.
"Uh-" said Ron curiously. "Where did that light go?"
"Ron, what on Earth are you talking about?" Hermione asked before she noticed that a streetlamp had gone out.
"I've got a put-outer," said Ginny, removing the light from another streetlamp.
"Dumbledore gave it to me before we left."
"Oh," said Ron. "Anyway, Hermione, are you ready to do the spell?"
"Yes." Hermione replied, her voice shaking slightly. It seemed that nerves had finally caught up with her. She knew that it was vital to perform the spell properly, even if she still didn't know why Harry Potter had to be found.
Hermione raised her wand slightly, and pointed it directly at number four. She would need to cast the spell on Harry's last known residence. The spell would be able to detect if anyone magical had lived there, and for a brief moment, they should be able to get a glimpse of where that person was now. If he was alive.
Putting aside her doubts, Hermione cleared her throat and said clearly, "Exquiro Magicus!"
A jet of neon blue light hit the house, and seemed to spread around the whole area. Hermione silently prayed that the bright light wouldn't wake the sleeping Muggles.
Slowly the light around them faded, until they were left with what looked almost like a Muggle movie screen (though, Hermione, being the only Muggle-born present, was sure that she was the only one who thought of it this way.)
A picture flashed before their eyes. It was blurred around the edges, but Hermione could make-out a boy, standing behind the counter in a bar, surrounded by people. He couldn't be much older than her. The boy's bright green eyes were hidden behind round glasses. His hair stuck-up in the back, and in the front it was covering a thin scar, shaped exactly like a lightening bolt. Behind him were tables, crowded with adults who were laughing and talking, and a window with a sign hanging in it; Ye Olde Pub.
Hermione heard Ginny gasp beside her.
"That's Harry Potter..." Ginny whispered. "He's really alive."
As Hermione was about to reply, the picture faded, and the five of them were once again left engulfed in the darkness.
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