A/N: Thank you to Saturn's Candlesticks, IcexPrincess and MyLookOfDenial for reviewing the last chapter. I hope you all like this chapter just as much. I feel that this story if finally comming to a close and that it should be finished around chapter 20. So thank you all for sticking with it after such a long time. it really does mean alot to me! thank you!!!
Chapter 17: Divide and Conquer
It was the first week of February when the DA coins glowed next, and as usual the majority of Hufflepuff house found themselves crowding into the room of requirements. This time Harry wanted to show the students how to cast defensive spells, as usual everyone paired off.
Zach and Jason Devlin were working together; Justin partnered Hannah while Roger Davies had abandoned his Ravenclaw friends to ask Ernie to be his partner. Susan and Busty Lana Love clung together like Siamese twins as they giggled and chattered about the things that Lana and Jason and got up to after the New Year's party. Justin couldn't help but look on as Lana leaned in close to Susan and whisper.
'No!' Susan gasped as Lana nodded, smiled and patted her belly. Justin didn't know what had provoked such a startled and shocked expression from the woman he loved but he still continued to watch as Susan hugged Lana and then laughed.
'How does it feel?' Justin heard Susan asking as once more the girls fell into conversation and they lowered their voices so no one else could over hear.
'What can they find so interesting to talk about?' Justin asked Hannah, but Hannah merely shrugged, Hannah's attention was also elsewhere in the room. She was smiling to herself as she looked at Neville Longbottom who was partnering Ron Weasley. Neville had managed to deflect all of the curses and Jinxes that Ron had cast and Hannah couldn't help but swell with pride.
'I'm thinking of asking Lana to marry me' Jason blurted out as he cast a jinx that Zach warded off easily. Zach knew that Jason had been struggling with the decision for days now, Somehow Zach had managed to find himself in the uncomfortable position of agony uncle. Three days ago Jason had came to his captain in tears, scared and fearful of what was happening and very unsure of what to do next. Zach however had frightened himself with the wisdom and knowledge that he had drawn upon and had quickly sealed his position as confidant to the confused Chaser.
'Well given the circumstances it does seem the right thing to do' Zach advised 'but is it something that you both want?'
'What do you mean?' Jason asked as he lowered his wand. Zach could see that his words had confused the Chaser even more then he was before.
'If this situation hadn't occurred how would you have seen your future in five years time' Zach explained 'realistically what would you be doing and more importantly want do you think Lana would be doing?'
'I don't know' Jason said as he seated himself on a nearby pouf.
'Have a good think about it, mate' Zach said as he patted his shoulder
'For crying out loud it's not that difficult!' the enraged voice of Harry echoed through the room as the Gryffindor yelled at Patience Reinhold and Mary Creevey 'But I shouldn't have expected too much from a Hufflepuff!' Some of the nearby Gryffindor's and Ravenclaw's laughed at Harry's words but all the Hufflepuff's in the room stopped and glared at Potter. None of them could believe that Potter had just insulted them all!
'What the hell!' Zach raged as he left Jason's side and pushed his way through the knoll of students to stand beside the cubs 'what the hell is your problem Potter!' Zach said as he pushed Harry hard in the chest and Harry staggered backwards
'My problem?' Potter raged, as he rubbed his chest were Zach's hands had made contact 'What the hell is your problem?'
'My problem is if you want to have a go at someone, Potter, than have a go with me!'
'What?' Harry asked taken aback
'Translation' Justin called as he, Ernie and Susan joined Zach's side as Hannah hurried to the now tearful first years as Mary's brothers stared at the scene in complete shock 'You pick on one badger you pick on us all. You insult one badger your insult us all' At Justin's words there was a surge of assent from the other Hufflepuff's in the room as they joined the sixth formers. The Ravenclaws and many of the Gryffindors quickly backed to the sides of the room.
'Harry didn't mean anything by what he said' Hermione hurried to explain as she pushed her way to Harry's side 'It was just that the girls were throwing spells out with no understanding of what they were doing. Someone could have got hurt'
'Really, and that I suppose gives him the right to shout at them, to humiliate them and bully them. Does it?' Zach said as he twiddled his wand idley in his hand as he stood in front of all the Hufflepuff's 'would you be willing to say that to all our faces instead of to cubs?'
'I always knew you were a trouble maker, Smith!" Ron spat as he hurried to Harry's side 'ever since that day in the Hog head I knew you was trouble'
'Don't be prat all your life Weasley' Zach spat 'He was picking on first years'
'I…do what?' Harry stammered
'Does it give you some sort of a thrill, knowing that you can intimidate our cubs?" Justin asked as he stood by Zach's side
'You're what?' Ron scoffed as he Dean, Seamus, Ginny and many other Gryffindors hurried to Harry's side,
'We call ourselves Badgers Weasley, Badgers, you know like what is on our shield and we call our first years cubs!' Justin explained helpfully, although his tone told everyone in the room that he wasn't being friendly. Ron laughed as did Seamus, Dean and many other Gryffindors and Ravenclaws.
"Blast them Justin!" someone called from group of Hufflepuffs
"Oh please Harry's way more powerful than him! He'll blast you into next Thursday!" Seamus said gleefully his smile wide
"Really, you mean because he's faced Voldemort!" Zach called over the din of the laughing Lions and Eagles, everyone in the room gasped and recoiled slightly from him, all except Susan, Justin, Hannah and Ernie. Zach unlike most people at Hogwarts had never been afraid to say you-know-who's real name, in fact he had taken great pleasure in his first year to see the other Hufflepuffs shudder as he used the word until Cedric had told him off and explained why the name was so feared.
"We'll see shall we?" Zach said deathly as he raised his wand slightly
"Don't be stupid I don't what to fight you!" Harry protested "If I insulted you all then it was an accident I didn't mean to, and I'm sorry that I was a little hard on your cubs, I'm just a little stressed. I'm sorry that I took it out on them"
"Yeah right!" called some of the younger Hufflepuffs 'blast them!'
'Don't be so hasty!' Hermione called 'Don't you remember why we are all here? Harry wants us all prepared. Cedric was only the first of us to die, there will be more and we need to be ready'
'That's the point though isn't it' Justin said as Hermione finally hit the nerve that was really the root of the whole situation 'we never really was told why or how Cedric died. We had to read about it from the bloody Quibbler!'
'Harry asked you to believe the explanation that Dumbledore had given at the end of fourth year!' Dean Thomas snarled 'Last year you said you believed it, why the change?'
'Because Dumbledore's explanation was a load of crap!' Zach raged, the intensity of his anger scared him, he had never guessed that the cut was so deep and that it hurt as much as it did. "Dumbledore just asked us all to leave Harry alone, telling us Harry had to come to terms with what he had seen and heard, but what about us?'
"What about you?" Ron scoffed
"Don't you dare' Hannah yelled startling everyone in the room "He was our house mate! What explanation did we get for his death, none!"
'You didn't have a right to know!' Cho Chang called from the midst of her Ravenclaw friends her eyes growing moist.
'We had more right to know then you, you stupid Ravenclaw whore!' Susan yelled
"How dear you Cedric was my boyfriend you have no right-"
'No right! Cedric was our house mate we'd known him for four years before he was murdered! You didn't even want to date him until you found out he was a school champion.
Ced was the first person who shook our hands and welcomed us to Hufflepuff, he was our friend, he was our mentor! We loved him like a brother, so how dare you say that we had no right!!
'Cedric was a badger as is Zach no matter how idiotic he acts and you know what?' Justin didn't even wait for a reply 'We've had it, we've had enough of everyone bossing us around and making snide comments about our house, just and caring, loyal and true does not translate into push over!"
'Hex them!' a voice called again
'We're not going to blast, hex, curse or transfigure any of them' Justin conceded as he lowered his wand 'there isn't any point. But this is over, there's no point any more. We quit, Hufflepuff's out'
'You can't speak for your whole house' Ron said incredulously
'We quit' Justin repeated as he pulled his DA coin out of his pocket and threw it on the floor 'you can count Hufflepuff out of the DA'
'But you can't' Hermione called looking extremely upset at the prospect as Ron looked infuriated at her outburst 'what about the sorting hats song it said all the houses should unite it's the second time it's said it!? We all have to stick together or Hogwarts will be destroyed!
'Oh shut up you delusional cow!' Susan said getting really angry 'because unless you live in some sort of alternative existence from everyone else I'll remind you that this school has four houses, so a quarter of the school is missing from this hash of a party anyway'
'The Slytherins wouldn't be an asset' Ron Sneered
'And you are? You three moronic trolls never even try to get along with them!' Zach said as all his pent up anger finally spilled 'Not all the Slytherins are interbred, psycho worshiping murderers. But even the decent ones would never join with a Gryffindor as the figure head. Yes Granger I said figure head because we all know that our fearless leader hasn't had an original idea in his life, you're the one that's steering this party'
"Why are you being like this?" said a still teary Cho Chang "Harry is trying to help us, he wasn't the only person that has poked fun at your house. Besides, like he said, he's been through a lot, I can understand that, I lost Cedric!'
'You didn't lose Cedric!' The voice of Roger Davies called out in disgust as he stood with the rest of his quidditch team 'He dumped you the day before the final task. He found out that you and a Drumstrang student was having it away behind his back'
'Stop this!' Harry called as he tried to regain control of the situation 'We can't fight amongst ourselves. Don't you people realise that this is a war? Voldemort is gaining power each day and the longer he's unchallenged the more people die and more lives are ripped apart. Don't any of you understand that?
'Don't you dare' Susan growled as she glared at Potter 'I understand Voldemort more than you think. You weren't the only first year who came to Hogwarts never knowing their parents. You're not the only person that had their life torn apart by death eaters, my father and his brother both refused to join Voldemort! They fought against him and death eaters killed them and then murdered my aunt my three cousins! VOLDEMORT DESTROYED MY FAMILY!!'
'I....I never knew' Harry said feebly as the entire room was stunned into silence at Susan's words
'You didn't know because you didn't care' Justin said as his heart broke at the sight of Susan's obvious pain 'you're so wrapped up in your own world that your too busy to stop and find out who else's world is shattered and broken'
'We weren't the only ones that lost family the last time Voldemort came to power even some of the Slytherins lost family because they refused to join, so remember that before you start condemning them all!' Susan said as tears stung her eyes, pushed her way through the crowd of Hufflepuffs and raced out of the room.
'We're done' Zach said. With this he turned, pushed his way through the knoll of Hufflepuffs that had congregated behind him and left, Justin, Hannah, Ernie and the rest of Hufflepuff house followed.
'Susan wait!!' Zach called as he and the other sixth form Badgers chased after the blonde. Susan finally skidded to a halt at the top of the Marble staircase, as she stood waiting for her friends.
'What do you think you're doing eh?' Zach said a small smile on his face as he pulled Susan into a hug 'You know you can't run away from us' wrapped in Zach's arms Susan finally gave into the tears that had been promising to fall. The tears flowed freely as she sank deep into Zach's hold and her heart broke.
'You never did tell them everything' Ernie said as he, Justin and Hannah approached and they shooed the rest of the house down the stairs so the five friends could be alone.
'Do you think now could be the time?' Justin asked as he placed his hand onto Susan's shoulder 'But only if you want to tell us'
'I want to' Susan nodded as Zach released his hold and all the friends sat together on the steps. They had always known that Susan's father had died; they had also known that Susan's dad had died because of Death eaters, but they had never known about the rest of her family.
'They stole them from me' Susan cried as she shook her head, 'I had a family! I had a family that loved me and thought the world of me and Voldemort took them away! I don't even know if I remember them or if what I think I remember are imaginings from stories my mother told me as I grew up' Susan paused as she breathed deeply, looked towards her friends continued.
'My father and his brother were both high ranking Aurors at the ministry, my aunt told me that Death Eaters had tried to recruit them but instead of finding loyal comrades my father arrested them and threw them into Azkaban. Voldemort must have been outraged because he sent the rest of his forces to punish them. They came in the night while my family slept; my cousins didn't stand a chance, the eldest was only eight years old!
My Aunt was the first person to arrive at the house after the death eaters had gone. To this day she has never talked about what she saw.... apart from how she found me, as a baby, wrapped tightly in a blanket and hidden in a cupboard with a silencing charm placed on me'
"Your father always did think of everything" She said' Susan told them with a wry smile 'My Aunt took care of me after that night. My mother had always been delicate, my aunt said; but she couldn't cope with what had happened, or with what she had seen. She's alright now, she has her moments, but she's not been back to St Mungo's for years now'
'Susan I'm so sorry!' Hannah said as she hugged her friend
'You should have told us, you didn't have to carry this on your own' Zach said as patted Susan's shoulder.
'We don't talk about it; because we don't need to' Susan said hastily 'I love you guys because you're my escape and you allow me to escape. Everything at home reminds me of my family, photos, objects, places. We still live in the same house, my father's picture is on every wall, and his wand rests on my mother's bedside table. You guys are untainted by Death Eaters and their destruction you allow me to be me and not a living breathing shrine to those that have gone.'
'I love you for being you' Justin said softly. He wanted to hold her tightly, to kiss away her tears and to tell her that he loved more than the others ever could, that the love he had for her was different, was stronger. That she made his soul ache with every tear that she shed and that his heart broke because he knew that her heart was breaking to. Justin however didn't voice any of these feelings, instead Susan's tears fell onto Zach's shoulders, and her slender delicate form was wrapped by Zach's strong arms as he held her tightly in his embrace.
'Students out after hours' The eerie voice of the caretaker screeched gleefully through the air as, huffing and puffing, Argus Filch hurried towards them 'We'll see what your head of house has to say about this!'
'Feck off you old perv!' Zach snapped at the old man, whose eyes flared dangerously before a look of absolute pleasure flashed across his face.
'Never in all my years, a-a whipping is too good for you. Why if Headmistress Umbridge was still in charge, you'd all be stung up in my dungeon' Filch croaked gleefully as he struggled get his words out and control his excitement 'T-The headmaster w-will hear of this!'
'No he will not, Confund!' Justin said smugly as he pointed his wand at the caretaker and called the incantation for a confusion spell. The caretaker's features relaxed and his hands fell to his side as vacant look crossed his features.
'W-what' Filch muttered
'There are students out of bed' Justin said as he stood and turned the old man to face the way he had come 'Quick they are on the seventh floor near the tapestry of Barnabas the Barmy'
'That was brilliant!' Susan squealed as she hugged Justin tightly and Hannah and Ernie agreed.
'Let's hope he catches Potter and his gang as they leave their stupid DA meeting' Zach said grinning at the idea of a confounded Filch catching Potter and Weasley and wondering if he would follow through on any of his threats this time.
'I hope he doesn't catch them, not all of Potter's gang are bad' Hannah said in a low voice as the friends decided they should head back to their common room. Ernie however couldn't help but smile to himself. He knew from experience that a certain Ravenclaw Quidditch captain was in fact very bad and Ernie had dreamt on more than one occasion of seeing Roger shackled to dungeon wall.