Disclaimer: All of the characters in this fanfiction belong to Ms. Rowling. I don't own them and am not making any money off of this story.

Time to Prepare

Chapter 21 – Wargames: The Tasks

The students and staff of Hogwarts began filing into the Great Hall a few minutes before 11:30, anxious to see what Harry had in store for them. Once everyone was assembled Harry waved his hand, creating a small insignia on each person's robes before he addressed the school.

"You have just been sorted into three teams. The only things you need to know before I leave you are this. Every password in the castle has just been reset and only I know them. Professor Dumbledore, Madame Pomfrey and I are the only three people at Hogwarts who are not part of this exercise. Professor Dumbledore and I will be overseeing things from his office, which will be off limits to all participants. You are welcome to see Madame Pomfrey at any time, but once you enter the hospital wing, you will have to remain there until the conclusion of the event. As soon as your team has reached a unanimous decision regarding who your leader will be, further instructions will be given to you. Good luck." With that, Harry waved his hand and disappeared from the Great Hall, leaving chaos in his wake as students and staff tried to gather in their respective groups.

Hermione was the first to act decisively, muttering "Sonorus" before addressing the room. "If you have a Phoenix on your robe, we're meeting in five minutes in the astronomy tower." With that she waved her hand to end the spell and made her way out of the Great Hall with about a third of the school.

Taking his cue from Hermione, Ron yelled out "Sphinxes! Quiddich Pitch! Right now!" and left the room, leaving only the Hippogryph team in the Great Hall.

Team Hippogryph

Notable among those left in the Great Hall were Ginny Weasley, Neville Longbottom, Draco Malfoy, Cho Chang, Hannah Abbot, and Professor McGonnagal.

Many of the students seemed to be waiting for McGonnagal to give some orders, so she cut them off. "No. I am not a leader. I will do my best to make sure we succeed in whatever task we are given, but I believe another choice for leader would be appropriate."

Ginny was the first to speak after that. "We'll take nominations then. Anyone?"

Draco was quick to nominate himself. Neville nominated Ginny, which lead to a heated debate with most of those present throwing their support to Ginny.

"Ok, so we've chosen a leader. Why don't we have any further instructions yet?" Neville asked.

"Don't you Griffindors ever listen? The choice has to be unanimous, and I'm not voting for Weasel here," one of the Slytherins said. "I'd like to win whatever this is, and I think our leader needs to have some Slytherin guile."

Ginny was about to object when Hannah surprised everyone. "They're right. We do need a leader with some cunning. I nominate Ginny and Draco as co-leaders."

No one present could really come up with any objections, so the choice was made. A small envelope appeared on the floor next to Ginny and Draco, which Draco quickly snatched up and read aloud.

"Team Hippogryph. Your task is simple. Conquer the castle. Your success will be judged based on how many members of the other two teams are left in the castle at the end of the exercise and the percentage of the school they occupy."

Draco got a gleam in his eye and immediately got two work. "Did anyone here get a good look at the other two teams' emblems?"

Cho spoke up. "I saw the Phoenix emblem pretty well. Luna was standing right next to me and she was put on that team."

"Susan was put on the Sphinx team, I got a decent look at her mark." Hannah commented.

Draco quickly found two first-year Slytherin students. "Ashley! Jacob! Come here." Turning to Cho and Hannah he said, "Transfigure their marks into the other teams' emblems. I want you two to get to their meetings as fast as you can. If anyone questions you, you tell them you got lost."

"You're kidding, right?" One of the first-years, Ashley, asked. "You know there are going to be Slytherins in the other groups, right? They won't buy that for a second."

Ginny interjected. "You're right. Tell them you decided to stay here to see what the other teams were planning. You let them know that Hippogryph's goal is to prevent anyone from leaving the castle."

Draco looked rather surprised after hearing Ginny's plan. "You heard the woman. Get going!" he barked, sending the two first-years on their way.

Team Phoenix

Hermione looked around at the students and staff gathering in the astronomy tower. Her team included Luna, Katie Bell, Professor Flitwick, and Blaise Zabini.

After a quick vote, Katie was elected as the leader and a note appeared in her hand, which she read aloud to those gathered.

"Team Pheonix. Five crystals have been hidden throughout Hogwarts. Each one is engraved with a phoenix. Gather all five crystals and keep them secure until the end of this exercise to achieve success."

As Katie finished reading the note, a first-year Slytherin she didn't know threw open the door with a loud bang and entered the room, clearly out of breath.

Blaise Zabini quickly had his wand trained on the young girl. "Where have you been, Ashley?"

"I stayed behind in the Great Hall to see what the other teams were up to. The Hippogryphs are supposed to keep everyone inside the castle, which could be tough considering the other team is meeting on the quiddich pitch."

Blaise gave the young girl an unreadable look. "Fine, but pay attention, you've already missed part of the meeting."

Katie put her quiddich training to good use dividing her group into three teams. Turning to the largest group, she said "Hermione and Blaise, I want you to be in charge of looking for the crystals. Search the entire castle, but watch your backs. Who knows what the other two teams are going to be up to."

Turning to the smallest group, Katie continued "Luna and Professor Flitwick, I want your group to cause as much chaos for the other two teams as possible. Use your imaginations and trip them up any way you can. The rest of us will be setting up our headquarters here and defending any crystals we do find. Any questions?" Hearing none, she snapped "Get to work people!"

Team Sphinx

Ron's team took quite a while to gather on the Quiddich pitch, but when everyone had arrived, the team included Ron, Susan Bones, Pansy Parkinson, Millicent Bulstrode, and Fred and George Weasley.

After a long and heated debate (during which a first-year Slytherin boy was able to sneak in unnoticed), Ron was finally elected as the team's leader, immediately receiving their instructions.

"Oy, listen up everyone! This note says we're supposed to capture the leaders of the other two teams. First thing we need to do is figure out who they are and where they are in the castle."

I want you in teams of five searching the castle. I want everyone to meet back here in three hours to report what you have found out.