Chapter 4 – The Start of the Plans

Harry walked aimlessly for a bit, letting his feet carry him where they wished. He had wanted to just walk around the place where Sirius had lived for quite a while since he had seen Sirius in that dream. He realized that, as a dark wizard home, it was bound to have a few secrets. Dumbledore probably knew them all, but still, it would be cool to search out the secret passages or rooms.

'Secret rooms…hmm…that's just what I need….' Harry thought as he walked slowly onto the first floor landing. He didn't want to wake the portrait of Mrs. Black, but he had always wondered why the painting was there. Was she guarding something? More than likely. Mad-Eye Moody had probably already seen into all the rooms to determine what was in each of them, but Harry wondered if there were charms that could fool even Mad-Eye's eye.

"Ah, Harry, there you are. I was just coming up to get you for dinner, dear. The meeting's over." Mrs. Weasley came out of the kitchen, smiling slightly at Harry, then walked quietly upstairs saying, "I'll just go and get Ron, Ginny and Hermione. Go on into the kitchen."

As Harry walked into the kitchen, he noted that, like one previous time he had came in as an Order meeting came to a close, there were maps of some sort on the table. But unlike before, no one made a move to stop Harry from looking at them. "What's this?" he asked, coming to stand next to Bill and Mr. Weasley, the only other people in the room.

"Oh, it's a sort of blue-print of the Hogwarts grounds. Well, more precisely, the wards ands such which surround the Hogwarts grounds. We're trying to find any little faults in the security system." Bill replied, scanning the map carefully. Harry was surprised that they hadn't made a move to keep the map out of sight.

"Is Remus going to help with the inspection?" Harry asked trying to be innocent, knowing the extensive knowledge he had gained of the grounds with the Marauder's help.

"Oh, yeah, Dumbledore told us about how he had discovered all those little secrets and such walking the grounds with your father and Sirius," Mr. Weasley looked up at Harry as he said this, something akin to pride in his eyes. "Your father must have been an excellent student, to become an animagus in only his fifth year."

"Uh…yeah, right," Harry was getting quite uncomfortable with this discussion, and desperately wanted to get out of the room before they started up a conversation, like asking about the animagus transformation. That was sure to rouse suspicion if Harry knew too much. "Umm…I think I'll go wait in the…uh…living room," he said, edging out of the room slowly. He didn't have to worry though, because at that minute, Mrs. Weasley came back into the kitchen with Ron, Hermione, and Ginny.

"Arthur, Bill, clean up those papers right now. You know about leaving stuff out after the Order meetings!" She bustled over to the stove to take out the dinner, waving her wand to make the plates and cutlery set themselves on the table. She didn't seem to have noticed Bill and Mr. Weasley's eye-rolling, or it probably would've made her yell some more.

"Honestly Mum, it's just the Hogwarts Grounds blueprint," said Bill, shaking his head at his mother's behavior, but gathering up the scrolls nonetheless. "It's not like it's a big secret, what we're working on. I bet Dumbledore will tell the students about the new security at the start of term feast, anyway."

"New security?" inquired Hermione. "What's wrong with the school's security?"

"Well, that's what--" Mr. Weasley started, but Mrs. Weasley was done with whatever she was doing at the stove, and unfortunately caught Hermione asking about the plans.

"Don't you dare tell them anything Arthur! You know they're too young to know about the Order business!"

During this conversation Harry had remained quiet, watching the reactions his friends and the adults. He had expected to be kept out of the meetings and kept in the dark about the plans of the Order, but as he listened to the little argument, he realized that there was a lot of information that was kept from them unnecessarily. 'I mean, what harm could it do to know about the plans for the defense?' he thought. It seemed as if they were keeping the information a secret just to satisfy Mrs. Weasley, which meant they'd never get an inkling of the plans. 'I think I need to have another chat with Dumbledore…'

"It's alright Mrs. Weasley. We won't ask about the Order anymore," Harry said, giving his friends a meaningful glance as he sat down at the table. They looked bewildered and shocked, but when they caught Harry's glance, they knew something was up. They nodded to Mrs. Weasley and took their seats around Harry.

Mrs. Weasley was obviously stunned by their lack of struggle, but recovered herself quickly. "Well, that's good because it's not right for children to have to participate in a war." Harry visibly bristled at this comment, but refrained from speaking. 'There she goes, calling us children again…' he thought.

Dinner was almost a silent affair, except for the conversations between the adults, which Harry paid little or no attention to. The four teenagers at the table were silent, three of them wondering about what the fourth was thinking. Harry was trying to come up with a way to talk to Dumbledore without the other adults thinking he wanted to talk about the Order. He also hadn't forgotten about his training, but first he had to find a place. The Room of Requirement had been an awesome room to practice in, but it just had the slight problem of it being at Hogwarts while they were here at Grimmauld Place. No, he needed somewhere to practice here. But the first issue on his mind was the Order. Finally, an idea began to form in his head.

"Mr. Weasley?" he said, "Is Professor Dumbledore going to be at headquarters anytime soon? I need to ask him something." All three of the other students in the room perked their heads up at this question, as well as the adults.

"What do you need to ask the headmaster about, Harry? I'm sure I can just pass on a message to him," said Mr. Weasley, sending a wary glance at his wife, who thought she knew what this was about.

"I needed to ask him about my Occlumency lessons," Harry said firmly. "Could you do that for me?"

Ron, Hermione, and Ginny all openly gaped at him. They thought he had hated those lessons! The three adults were thinking along those same lines, but Mrs. Weasley couldn't help but let out a barely perceptible, yet relieved, sigh. She had evidently thought that Harry wanted to talk about joining the Order. "Of course, Harry. I'll try to get to him within the week, but he is very busy with the modifying of the school's wards." Mr. Weasley was also clearly relieved, but eyed Harry suspiciously.

"Thank you," Harry said, as he got up and put his plates in the sink. He hoped that the others would follow him, and wasn't mistaken when they too cleaned up their plates. "I'm gonna head up to bed a bit early," he said, heading out the kitchen door. Ron, Hermione and Ginny all followed him up to his room, obviously planning on demanding an explanation.

When they reached Harry and Ron's room, they all filed inside, and Harry shut the door after them. He started to talk, but stopped and seemed to think for a moment, before grabbing the portrait of Phineas Nigellus and tossing it out the door. "What was that for?" Hermione asked in an amused voice.

"I don't was Phineas spying on me for Dumbledore," Harry replied, looking around the bedroom for any more portraits. He didn't see any, so he looked pointedly at Ginny, and, somehow, she got the hint. Sighing, she said "I'll be waiting for you in the bedroom, Hermione." After Ginny left, Harry closed the door and sat down. He began his explanation of why he asked about Occlumency lessons. "Listen, do you remember that one time I came back from an Occlumency lesson early? Then I told you that Snape reckoned I could just practice on my own?" At his friends' nods, he continued. "Well…I had actually made him so mad that he…uh…kicked me out of his office," he finished lamely.

Everyone, even Hermione, was silent at this statement. "But Harry," she said, breaking the silence, "What in the world could you have done to--"

"Please, don't even ask Hermione. I'll tell you later maybe," Harry looked at his friends with pleading eyes, begging them to understand. She simply nodded, conceding. "Anyway, he wasn't all that great of a teacher. I wanted Dumbledore to teach me instead. After what happened last month…" he paused with a stricken look in his eyes. "I just don't want it to occur again."

"I also want to confirm our plans to train with Dumbledore," Harry said. "I know it'd be cool to do it alone, but, being reasonable, it'd be a lot easier if we had a teacher's help."

"So, let me get this straight," Ron said. "We're going to ask Dumbledore to give us…more homework?"

"Oh Ron, this is more important than homework," Hermione said. "Like Harry said last year, we need to be prepared for what's out there."

"It'll be more like the DA, but with a teacher instructor," Harry said swiftly, interrupting one of Ron and Hermione's arguments. "Of course, we don't have to do the animagus transformation by ourselves. I told Remus about it, and he agreed to help. Do you know how to do it, Hermione?"

"Ooh Harry, it's really, really difficult. I…I don't know if even I could brew it," she stammered.

"Oh, bloody hell," Ron said softly. "Our Hermione, admitting she can't do something? What has the world come to…?"

"I didn't say I couldn't do it, Ron," she said indignantly.

"How do we do it, anyway? It's a potion?" Harry asked, interrupting yet another impending verbal fight.

"Yes, it's very hard to do, because it takes the better part of a year to complete. It's mostly the reason why there are so few animagi," she said, going in to lecture mode. "The only book I've come across with the Animagean Potion in it is 'Moste Potente Potions'."

"Drat. Now we're gonna need a teacher's permission…" Ron said sulkily.

"Well, I could just ask Professor Dumbledore," Harry said. "I mean, he knows the prophecy. I'll just tell him I'm doing it to give me any edge I can in the fight."

"Well, if Remus knows, we could ask him about it first," Hermione suggested.

"Good thinking, Hermione," Harry said. "I needed to talk to him anyway."

They sat in silence for a while, not a tense silence, but a comfortable one. Ron and Hermione were, unconsciously, thinking of the same thing: what their animagus forms would be. Harry, on the other hand, was thinking about Sirius. He wasn't blaming himself, or feeling guilty; he was thinking about all the times he had seen him happy. There had been so few, he realized. Christmas was the one that stood out the most. Sirius had been so happy, his mood had been contagious. Harry smiled as he remembered Sirius's voice singing 'God Rest You, Merrye Hippogriffs'.

Hermione seemed to be quite tired. Yawning widely, she said, "Well, I think I'm going to bed now."

"Yeah, let's go Hermione. Good night guys," she said, waving to the boys on her way out.

Harry and Ron climbed into their respective beds, but before Harry had even gotten his pajamas on, Hermione's voice came from the hall. "Don't forget about this portrait, Harry!"

"Oh yeah! Phineas!" Harry scrambled out of bed and hung the portrait back up. Apparently, Phineas hadn't paid them a visit. He must not have even known his portrait was off the wall. Harry climbed into bed, bid Ron goodnight, and fell asleep.

A/N: Well, it took me a while to get this one out, but I had to straighten out a few things first. Sorry I didn't reply to the review(s) from last chapter. I completely forgot to put an author's note! Special thanks to Crimsonphoenix1 for inspiring me to get this chapter out sooner! Now, as for the other reviews…

Crimsonphoenix1: Thanks for the review! I already have an idea for the animagi for the trio. I was thinking….Ah, you'll have to wait and see. But I do love Harry as a phoenix. It's my favorite.

sillyseal: Thanks for the review!

saxistwriterchick: Thanks for the review!

Anyway, next chapter: Harry's talk with Dumbledore and Remus! I wonder what Remus has planned to help Harry…. Oh, one question. Did I spell 'Moste Potente Potions' right? Tell me in a review. Thanks again!