Chapter 16 – Assault on Hogwarts
The gloomy study was deathly quiet save for the soft crackle of the fire burning in an old stone fireplace and the occasional scrape of quill against parchment. Voldemort sat in a comfortable high backed leather chair in front of a large mahogany desk that was practically overflowing with papers that were filled with some of the most complicated Arithmancy equations that had ever been created.
Tom Riddle was a truly brilliant, albeit somewhat misguided student of magic. Even the great Albus Dumbledore himself would freely admit that Riddle had been one of the smartest and most gifted wizards to ever walk the hollowed halls of Hogwarts.
Finishing a final equation, Voldemort laid down his quill and studied the parchment he held intently.
"Seven…" he whispered to himself as he surveyed the results of several weeks worth of work. "No more than seven."
Lying the parchment down on his desk, Voldemort sat back in his chair and stared blankly into the flickering flames of the fire as he contemplated the disturbing though expected results. A soul could be split into no more than seven pieces.
He had already worked this out once before and put the theory into practice before his fall at Godric's Hollow that night so long ago. The problem he now faced was that he had been reduced before he'd had a chance to perform a ritual of his own design that would have magnified his power by seven times. And now, thanks to Lucius, one of the pieces had been destroyed and no matter how hard he tried to manipulate the Arithmancy, he could create no more Horcruxes and the ritual would no longer work in any form.
Eventually his thoughts were interrupted by a loud knock at his study's door. With a wave of his wand, the writing on all of the parchments littering his desk became blurry and unreadable.
The door opened with a soft creak and his most trusted servant entered the room.
"My Lord," Bellatrix said as she approached the desk and gave a small bow of her head.
"Bella, what news do you bring me?"
"The raids continue as you have commanded. We are loosing many new recruits to Potter and his… associates," she growled practically spitting out the boy's name.
Voldemort listened to her report dispassionately and waited for her to continue.
A half crazed glint appeared in Bella's eyes as she went on. "My Lord, I wish to lead the raids myself. It has been a long time since I have drawn blood."
An evil grin made its way into the Dark Lord's face. "I believe you killed a new recruit for questioning you only three days ago. From what I heard it took him quite some time to die."
"My Lord," Bella began but was quickly cut off.
"No Bella. I wish you to continue using our newest and weakest recruits as you have been. The raids are to slowly decrease in number and size over the next few weeks. I want Potter and his friends to think they are weakening us, thinning our ranks. My army is almost ready and when it is I will show the wizarding world why I am to be feared and I will deal with Potter once and for all."
"Yes my Lord," she said with a bow. "I will do as you command."
With a simple nod, Voldemort dismissed Bellatrix and watched as the angry witch left his office. He knew he wouldn't be able to rein her in much longer but hopefully he wouldn't need too.
Though he was sure his plan was sound, it was times like this he wished he still had the services of his generals who had all been killed either during or shortly after the last war. He may be brilliant and powerful when it came to magic and magical theory but he wasn't a military tactician and knew far less than needed about running a war. Still even with his losses to Potter, his Death Eater's were nearly two hundred strong and when they finally struck, they would be proceeded by an army of Inferi.
The thought of his animated soldiers brought him back around to his most important project and with another wave of his wand his notes and calculation's all became visible again. Pushing aside a few of the papers, Voldemort withdrew a thick leather bound journal from underneath the pile and began flipping though its many Arithmancy and note filled pages.
As he scanned through the text he came across the entries detailing the first Horcrux he made and laughed cruelly at the memory. Myrtle. The dumpy, pimply faced girl whom nobody seemed to like. Her death had allowed him to set out on the road in his quest for immortality and though he had been a bit clumsy about it and made a few mistakes along the way, he had eventually managed to make the first of his six Horcruxes at her expense.
Continuing on, he eventually found the passages he was looking for and spent a long while reading and re-reading them carefully before pulling out some blank parchments and beginning his calculations anew.
For reasons unknown to him he had been feeling… thinner over the last couple months, as if he was now less than he once was. He suspected it was something to do with the ritual he used to regain his body and while his magical power hadn't yet been affected, he was concerned that it was only a matter of time before it was.
There was another binding charm he could use to ensure his body would continue to endure but even though his power was nearing that of Dumbledore's, it wasn't enough. His body couldn't currently survive the rite without a massive pool of magic to sustain it.
With the loss of one of his Horcruxes along with the ability to magnify his power seven fold, he would be forced to settle for less. The journal he held had been the book he logged his initial research into splitting his soul and it contained information on another possibility. It was something he had stumbled across quite by accident and hadn't even finished the work on. He had discarded the idea quickly as it required the destruction of one of his soul fragments, but if done properly it would nearly double his current magical power.
Though he was loath to see another piece of his soul destroyed, he needed the power and knew of no other way to obtain it. Settling in for a long night, Voldemort began working on the calculations he had begun in his youth, calculations that would make him by far the most powerful wizard on the planet.
"Whatcha ya reading Harry?" Tonks asked as she plopped down on the couch next to her lover.
Harry smiled back warmly and gave her a quick peck on the lips before handing her the note he had just received.
Bad news, I can't find anyway to track Ginny's mail here at Hogwarts. The wards are very comprehensive and anything I add no matter how small will be detected and Dumbledore will know. On top of all that because of my teaching duties I can't keep much of an eye on her. The copy of the Marauder's map you made for me has been a big help, but I can't watch it every second. I'm working on adding some charms to it to let me know if she leaves the castle but this thing's incredibly complex and it will take some time.
The only thing I've come up with so far would be to bring Dumbledore in on this so we could have him set the wards for us. I'm sure this idea doesn't thrill you but I don't know what else to do. Right now someone could send her a dragon and I wouldn't know unless I happened to be standing there.
Let me know what you think,
Tonks sighed and tossed the letter on the table as Jake walked in.
"Just got a letter from Bill," Harry replied. "He can't find a way to track Ginny's mail. The only thing he's come up with is to let Dumbledore know so he can track it."
Jake nodded. "What do you think about that idea?"
"I don't know," Harry began. "I guess I don't really want him to know. He might help, but I'd be afraid he'd try to take advantage of the situation and I don't want Ginny to end up being one of his spies."
Tonks nodded in agreement. "Yeah, I don't think we should say anything, at least not yet. Let's give Bill a chance to figure something else out first."
Jake seemed to be in agreement as well. "Fair enough, why don't you write him back, Harry. We've got enough to worry about trying to figure out what to do about the Hogwarts Death Eaters right now."
A small redhead made her way past the many shops selling their magical wares and through the crowd of witches and wizards that were out and about for a day of shopping in Diagon Alley. She kept to herself, avoiding the few people she knew as she passed. With Hogwarts in session, Ginny wasn't supposed to be here and besides, she had more important things to do this day.
Rounding a bend in the road, she finally spotted her goal. A few shops away there was a store front unlike any other in the alley. It was colored with an amazing array of bold and garish tones some of which blinked and changed in a dizzying assortment of patterns. A large sign above the front door read 'Weasley's Wizarding Wheezes'.
At each end of the sign was an image of a wizard with red hair dressed in brightly colored robes. The figures were animated and were launching curses at each other and hiding behind the name of the store to keep from being hit themselves. Periodically one would manage to land a curse turning the other into a large canary, blast ended skrewt or any number of other odd shapes and forms for a few seconds before returning to their normal form to continue the duel. It was very amusing.
She smiled briefly at the decorations on the building as she approached and entered the store.
"Ginny!" George said as he saw his younger sibling enter. "What are you doing out of school?"
Grinning widely she walked up and gave George a large hug. "Hey George, I snuck out to see you. Could I speak with you and Fred for a couple minutes, in private?"
George looked back proudly at his little sister for a minute before nodding with a smile and turning towards the counter.
A young brunet looked up from where she was helping a customer at the sound of George's voice.
"Me and Fred need to talk to Ginny for a bit, keep an eye on the store will you?"
With a quick nod, Tessa returned to her customer and George led the way to the back room where they found Fred stirring a large cauldron full of a suspicious looking green substance.
"Hey brother mine, look who's ditching school and stopped by to bless us with her presence."
Fred looked up and grinned brightly as he saw his only sister standing next to his twin. "Hey Gin Gin!"
She rolled her eyes at the use of the nick name but still managed to smile back. "Hi Fred. What are you working on?" she asked as she peeked into the cauldron, though she was careful to keep her distance.
"Oh, nothing much, want some?" he replied offering up a ladle full of the slimy mixture.
"Umm, no, I don't think so," she wisely replied.
Fred shrugged his shoulders and passed the ladle to George.
"Cheers!" he said happily as he downed the concoction. Nothing happened for a short time until finally there was a soft pop and the sound of the ladle hitting the floor. She looked around alarmed at George's disappearance for a short while before she heard a croaking sound and shifted her gaze to the floor where he had been standing to find a pink frog sitting next to the dropped ladle.
Fred drew his wand and knelt down next to the frog examining it closely with a frown on his face. After a few minutes he waved his wand and with another soft pop, George changed back into himself though his skin still had a slightly pink tint to it. With a couple more spells from Fred, he was eventually returned to normal.
"That was brilliant," she said.
"Not really," Fred replied. "The change took too long and he was supposed to have yellow polka dots on him."
"Oh well, we'll get it eventually," George added. "Anyway, what was it you wanted to talk to us about Gin?"
She reached into her robes and pulled out three brown feathers. She then handed one to each of her brothers keeping the last for herself. She smiled as they held the feathers looking at her curiously. Removing her wand she then tapped her feather with its tip activating the three portkeys. A look of surprise appeared on the twins faces as they felt a hook behind their navels and disappeared.
The three reappeared in a small clearing of a wooded area. The twins started to go for their wands but froze as they found Ginny with her wand pointed at them along with two other figures in black cloaks wearing bone white masks to hide their features.
"What the hell's going on Ginny?" George said, all of his normal joviality completely missing.
"I'll ask the questions," she growled. Before the conversation could go any further, Ginny's face began to bubble and shift finally changing to the pale face of Draco Malfoy. "Where's Harry Potter?"
"What? How the hell should we know?"
"Tell me what you know about Potter!" Malfoy demanded.
Fred was scared half to death but would never turn on Harry no matter what. "Well, he has messy black hair and incredible green eyes…"
Malfoy seemed enraged and his wand tip started to glow. "Enough. Tell me who he's with and what he's up too, or die."
The twins shared a quick look before turning towards the three and raising their middle fingers in unison.
Much to their surprise Malfoy and the other two started laughing. The twin's eyes opened wide as Draco's form began to shift again until they found themselves looking at Tonks. Beside her the other wizards had removed their masks to reveal Harry and Jake.
"Bugger me!" George said patting his heart.
"Merlin's balls you scared the crap out of us Tonks!"
"Sorry boys, but we needed to know where you stood in all this mess," Tonks said referring to the position she, Harry and Jake found them selves in.
"Well next time just slip us some veritaserum or something!"
Harry finally stopped laughing and after holstering his wand approached the pair. "Sorry guys, thanks for standing by me though."
The twins each shook Harry's extended hand and gave him a pat on the back. "No worry's mate. You should've already known we'd be with you though."
"Your right of course, thanks."
"Hey Jake!" George said turning to the last of the three.
"When did you start carrying a wand mate?" Fred asked.
Jake smirked as he looked at the wand he was holding before waving it towards the twins. The pair broke into laughter as there was a loud squawk and the wand changed into a rubber chicken. "I didn't."
"Glad to see our products are being used to cause plenty of mayhem!" George said wearing a large smile on his face as he realized Jake had been using one of his own products on him.
After another round of laughter, Fred turned to Harry. "So what's up? Why'd you bring us here?"
Harry sighed knowing it was time to get down to business. "We captured a couple Death eaters awhile back and one of them turned out to be in charge of infiltrating Hogwarts."
The twins were looking grim at his offered news.
"We found out there are marked Death Eaters in the student body."
"So what do you need us for?"
"I need your help with figuring out how to get them out of the way. With the staff and Dumbledore there, we can't exactly just storm the building and take them. We also can't use our normal methods, as they're all kids I don't think killing them would do much for our image. Any ideas?"
Fred and George looked at each other in silent conversation for several minutes before grinning wickedly and turning back towards Harry. "Well, you could try to take them one at a time but after you caught a couple the others would probably catch on and run away, so it would be best to take them all at once, right?"
Harry nodded wondering what they were thinking. "Yeah, we thought of going in at night, but they're not all in the same house so it would take too much time, we'd definitely get caught."
The twins nodded. "That means you need to catch all the houses in the same place at the same time leaving either a Quidditch match, where everyone would be assembled including the professors, or the great hall during mealtime where once again everyone is assembled including the professors."
Harry nodded hoping they had a trick up their sleeves.
"Excellent!" George began, "The Great Hall it is!"
Fred smiled at the wary faces that greeted George's proclamation. "My esteemed brother and I had a very special prank planned for the entire population of Hogwarts but since we didn't go back this year we never got a chance to pull it off."
"Can't tell you how upset mum was we were opening a joke shop instead of finishing up at Hogwarts," George added with a shake of his head as if to indicate he was disappointed with himself and his brother.
"Yup," Fred said continuing their stream of consciousness, "you better pray she doesn't find out you gave us our startup money, partner."
Harry shuddered at the thought.
"Anyway, I think with a few modifications it could work out nicely for you."
"A prank?" Harry asked with a small smile forming on his face. "You had a prank planned that will help us with this?"
"Well yes, but not exactly, like I said though, with a few changes I think it could work. There is one small catch though."
Harry looked at the twins suspiciously.
"We want to be there!" the red heads said in unison with large grins on their faces.
"I'm not so sure that would be a good idea guys. You know they'd realize you were in on it, and I'm sure Dumbledore would haul you both up to his office afterwards to find out everything you know."
"First of all, if we're there Dumbledore and the rest won't be surprised when stuff starts to happen," Fred said.
"Right," George added, "which means he'll just sit back and watch when everything starts. I doubt he'll have a clue what's going on until you three show up and by then it'll be too late."
"We're not worried about getting hauled to his office either," Fred said.
"Yeah, except for maybe the Marauders and you we've spent more time there explaining ourselves to him than anyone else!" George added looking very proud of the fact.
"I still don't know guys. I know you wouldn't ever give us up on purpose, but if Dumbledore or Snape wants to know badly enough, which they will, they'll just use Legilimency on you."
The twins shared an almost evil smile at Harry's concerns.
"I hope it's Snape that tries it!" Fred said excitedly to his brother.
The five sat on chairs Tonks conjured talking for a long time about the situation and what was going to happen. Much of the time was spent laughing as they worked out the details of the prank.
Three figures wearing dark blue cloaks appeared on the outskirts of Hogsmeade and stood for several long minutes surveying the amazing sight that was the castle Hogwarts. After a couple of minutes a familiar white owl flew down and landed on one of the figures shoulders.
"Hey girl," Harry said gently petting his owl. "You ready to do this?"
Hedwig hooted in response and held out a leg.
Tonks stepped forward and carefully placed a small tube in her outstretched talons. She then cast a glamour spell on the owl changing her white feathers to a more common brown. After giving Hedwig a small scratch on her head, Tonks stepped back and watched as she took off, flying to the branch of a nearby tree to wait for the right time to deliver her package.
Harry, Tonks and Jake raised their hoods and made their way through the small village to Honeydukes Sweetshop. Stepping into the alleyway on one side of the store, Tonks and Jake donned Harry's invisibility cloak. Unfortunately it was too small to cover all three of them and they decided Harry would be the one to go without since he was the most familiar with using the secret passage.
They waited several minutes until a small group of witches entered the shop and followed them in. Harry kept a close eye out for the owner and waited until he was busy with a customer before sneaking down to the basement with his invisible friends following close behind. Once they were alone, Tonks and Jake appeared from beneath the cloak.
"It's over here." Harry whispered indicating a spot on the floor.
Tonks stepped forward and cast several detection spells on the trap door. "I can't find any protection or notification spells on it, we should be ok."
Harry nodded and opened the door revealing a set of stairs leading downward. Hearing some noise at the top of the stairs, the three hurried down into the passage and closed the trap door just in time to hear footsteps crossing the floor above them where they had just been standing. They stood perfectly still and quiet, holding their breath until they heard the footsteps recede. Letting out a sigh of relief at not being caught, the three turned to continue down the stairway.
Tonks led the group casting detection spells as she went checking for any wards or perimeter alarms that might have been set on the tunnel by the Headmaster. They were extremely surprised when they reached the statue of the humpbacked witch without encountering any.
"I solemnly swear I'm up to no good." Harry said after pulling out his Marauders map of Hogwarts. Quickly scanning the parchment he found there was no one around and tapped the statue with his wand. "Dissendium."
A small opening appeared which the group quickly climbed through before closing the statue behind them.
"Hey," Jake said as he looked warily around the hall, "you guys feel that?"
It was hard to feel it with all the magic in Hogwarts serving to hide it, but Harry and Tonks were both able to identify it and couldn't help but shiver as they realized he was correct.
"It's here somewhere, isn't it?" Harry said as he too found himself looking around though he knew it was still very far away.
"Well, Dumbledore's notes did mention that Riddle tried to get a job here. Maybe he was trying to get his hands on his Horcrux."
Jake nodded. "Would make sense but we'll have to deal with it later."
Returning their attention to the map, the three were happy to see everyone was in the great hall for the evening meal. Keeping a watchful eye on the parchment, they quickly made their way to the Owlery where Jake placed a small silver sphere in the middle of the floor. Stepping forward, Harry then tapped it with his wand.
Still watching the map for anyone who might wander by the three them made there way towards the Great Hall. Reaching their destination, the group took up a position just outside the doors. They didn't have to wait long before they heard a commotion within the hall. Removing several vials of potion from the small wooden potions store he carried, Jake handed one to Harry and another to Tonks before downing one himself.
As the potions effects took hold they felt as if ice water was flowing through their veins. They all shivered violently for half a minute until the feeling passed. It had been extremely uncomfortable but was worth it to keep from falling under the effects of the 'prank'.
Sharing a final grin with each other they raised their hoods and stepped up to the large doors leading into the Great Hall.
A few minutes after Harry's group left the Owlery, the sphere they had left on the floor slowly rose until it was hovering several meters off the ground. It began to hum, softly at first, but quickly rose in volume and pitch before the globe exploded in a brilliant burst of multicolored light.
As the light faded away, the owls blinked several times before looking around in confusion. A moment later they all flew up and out of the tower.
Hedwig waited patiently on her perch just outside the Hogwarts grounds until she saw a burst of light coming from a small tower tucked in amongst the many spires of Hogwarts.
Taking flight, she was just in time to meet up with the flock of owls that left their perches destined for the Great Hall.
Albus Dumbledore sat in his chair at the head of the teachers table in the Great Hall quietly eating his dinner. It had been a typical day at Hogwarts and as he ate he observed the students in his care going about their daily dinner rituals.
The murmur of conversation filled the hall along with the occasional bout of laughter. Normally it filled his heart with happiness to eat with his students but as had happened all too often lately, his mind wandered to a missing student. A boy he had come to care for greatly but who had disappointed him by following a path he did not approve of.
As he sat contemplating how Harry had turned down the road he had, he was surprised to see owls start flying in through the many windows of the great hall. It looked as if the post was arriving, but there was no dinner post and none of the owls was carrying anything.
He couldn't help but smile as the owls started dive bombing the various house tables helping themselves to bits of the student's dinners. The Weasley twins had come to Hogwarts to join their younger brother and sister for dinner and it was now clear that they had setup some sort of elaborate prank and he was looking forward to seeing where it would lead.
With all the chaos being caused by the swarm of owls, Hedwig went unnoticed as she flew in the window just behind the large group. Staying above the rafters of the room inside the illusion that was currently portraying the evening sky above the school, Hedwig squeezed the tube she was carrying tightly causing the potion within to begin leaking out. As the potion left its canister, it turned into a mist which seemed to hang in the image of the night sky. Flying back and forth across the hall she saturated the entire illusion finally leaving when there was no potion left.
As Hedwig flew out the window, a crack of thunder echoed from the rafters of the Great Hall causing a hushed silence to spread among the students and staff. Upon hearing the loud boom, all of the owls flew up and out of the hall leaving everyone to wonder what was going on. They were all surprised when a moment later it began to rain large pink drops of liquid from the ceiling.
The rain shower was intense but short, lasting no more than a few seconds. It was, however, enough to insure everyone was damp. Groans escaped everyone's lips as they all realized they had turned bright pink. McGonagall was glaring at the twins with a look that said the perpetrators were going to be punished severely for doing this to her and Snape looked as if he was ready to kill the Weasley twins who were no doubt responsible. Flitwick seemed to find the entire thing humorous as did several of the other teachers.
Dumbledore was smiling widely and his eyes were twinkling merrily until he realized he was unable to move. It was at this moment when the doors to the Great Hall were thrown open with a loud bang to reveal three figures wearing dark blue robes with the hoods up. Realizing this was much more than a simple prank he began working furiously to release himself from whatever magic was restraining him.
Harry and Tonks ran forward stopping just short of the teachers table. They knew it wouldn't take the teachers and particularly Dumbledore long to break through the spell and they had to act quickly.
Turning to face each other they drew their wands and pointed them so that there tips were touching. They began a chant they had been practicing causing a light to form where their wands touched. Backing away from each other slowly, the light spread, growing to fill the space between their wands.
They continued to chant as they backed away from each other until they both reached the walls of the hall. Pulling the light with the tips of their wands, they connected it to the wall before returning to their starting point continuing to chant and keeping the tips of there wands in contact with the glowing shield the entire time.
As their wands came into contact with each other again there was a bright flash as the ward was set. Dropping their wands and their chanting the pair quickly joined Jake in his task of rounding up the student Death Eaters.
Dumbledore drew his power to him as quickly as he could while he worked through the magic that bound him in place. He watched closely as one of the figures began sorting through the students occasionally picking one up and carrying them across the hall to an area of empty wall space on one side of the room.
His worry increased as he watched the other two begin a spell just in front of the teachers table. As he continued to watch the pair he realized it was more than just a spell, they were casting a ward, specifically a physical and magical barrier separating the teachers from the students and themselves. His only solace came from the fact that he was fairly positive he knew who the three of them were. He was still concerned, however, due to the specific students that were being separated from the student population.
A brief feeling of relief swept through him as he worked his way out of the spell that had been holding him in place, but it was short lived as he saw the ward flair to life full force. Turning to find an alternate route into the main part of the hall he was dismayed to find the ward extended all the way around the platform the teachers table was sitting on. Leaving the teachers to work out of the spell on their own, he approached the ward to begin dismantling it.
Working together Harry, Tonks and Jake quickly collected all of the known Death Eaters.
"Let's see, Malfoy, Crabb, Goyle, Parkinson, Nott, Avery, Zabini, Bradley, Branstone, Chaston and Earl. That's all of them." Harry said to his companions.
Tonks cast a summoning charm and fifteen wands zoomed into her hand. "Shame, shame," she said, "some of you had more than one wand."
The look of fear in each of their eyes changed to anger briefly as the metamorphmagus snapped all their wands before discarding the pieces. She then summoned all of the magical items each of them had on their person and banished them away.
Rolling them onto their stomachs, Harry and Tonks began casting permanent sticking charms on their backs. As they finished each one, Jake picked them up and placed them on the wall so that their feet were left dangling several inches above the floor.
Once they were all in position, Harry muttered a final spell over them setting the permanent sticking charm and creating a password for it. The group then took great pleasure in removing the left sleeve from each of their robes and shirts revealing the hideous dark mark each of them had branded onto their forearms. Several gasps could be heard echoing around the Great Hall at the revelation.
As they stepped back to admire their handiwork, a loud crash echoed through the hall. Spinning around, they found Dumbledore had managed to break through their ward and had closed the doors to the great hall sealing them in. With another wave of his wand their hoods fell back revealing their faces which caused another round of gasps. Behind the Headmaster it was clear several of the other professors were close to breaking through the charms that held them frozen in place.
"Harry, Nymphadora, Jake," Dumbledore said calmly in greeting.
"Headmaster," Harry answered just as calmly. He was comforted by the presence of Tonks and Jake on either side of him and placed his wand in its holster before returning his attention to Dumbledore. Beside him Tonks did the same and Jake put away the knife he had pulled.
Dumbledore was relieved to see them put their wands away and though he lowered his he kept a firm hold on it. "To what do I owe this pleasure?"
"Oh, nothing much, just thought we'd stop by and take care of your little Death Eater problem for you," Harry replied with a casual gesture to the students who were now stuck to the wall behind him.
"I see, and what of the rest of the students?"
"Don't worry, it's just a modified freezing charm, the spell will wear off in a little while. We didn't want anyone to get in the way and possibly get injured now did we?"
Dumbledore nodded. "Very good Harry, however, I must insist you stop this now and release the students you have stuck to the wall."
"No," was Harry's simple reply.
"Harry, I assure you I will do everything in my power to make sure justice is served. If they have done anything wrong they will be punished."
Harry let out a low chuckle. "I don't think so Headmaster. We both know they," he said once again gesturing to the Death Eaters hanging on the wall, "and most especially that little oinker Malfoy will claim they were being controlled by the imperious curse or a potion or some other load of crap. The Minister will let them all go with an apology or on the off chance that they are imprisoned, Voldemort will eventually free them to fight for him again. You should be happy we just did this instead of what we've done to the others."
Dumbledore let out an audible sigh. "Then I'm sorry to say that as a member of the Wizengamot, I have no choice but to take the three of you into custody."
Another laugh escaped Harry's throat as he pushed up his left sleeve to reveal a blue and white phoenix tattoo. Dumbledore froze as he recognized the mark. 'No, it couldn't be,' he thought.
Watching in fascination as Harry pressed his finger to the tattoo, a small smile appeared on his face. The instant his finger touched the image of the phoenix on his arm, there were three bursts of flame in the Great Hall, one each directly above the heads of Harry, Tonks and Jake. Reaching up they took hold of the offered tail feathers disappearing in another burst of flame a moment later.
Dumbledore couldn't help but chuckle softly as he began helping the students escape from the spell they were all under. He knew the mark of the Phoenix very well. Perhaps there was hope for Harry and his friends after all.
Freeing the last of the Gryffindors from their imprisonment, Dumbledore leaned down between the Weasley twins who were grinning widely.
"I would very much like to have a chat with you both in my office at the conclusion of this evening's meal."
"Wouldn't miss it."
Giving the two another grin, Dumbledore went to see what he could do about the students who had been left hanging on the wall.
Returning to their meals, Fred and George were not the least bit surprised to find Ron, Hermione, Ginny and Neville staring at them.
"What?" they said in unison.
"What do you mean 'what'? What do you think?" Ron said.
Hermione rolled her eyes. "Honestly! Harry! You two have been talking to Harry!"
Fred cringed as he realized everyone at the Gryffindor table was now intently watching and listening to them having heard the Headmaster's comments as well as what Hermione said.
Pinning her with his eyes he looked left and right making it clear that with so many people around, now was not the time. "I don't have a clue what you're talking about Hermione."
Hermione understood and immediately calmed down as did Ginny and Neville who had caught the looks. Ron, however, remained completely oblivious.
"Oh, come on. You don't expect us to believe that load of rubbish do you?"
"Ron, they don't know anything," Hermione interjected. Ron was about to make another comment but the only word that left his mouth was "Ouch!" as he received a kick in the shin and a piercing look from Hermione. Finally taking the hint he returned to his meal a little bit grumpier than he had been before. It wasn't long, however, before he was smiling again as he watched Dumbledore and Snape's fruitless attempts to remove Draco Malfoy and the other Death Eaters from the wall.
Fred and George in their usual whirlwind of good spirits made their way through the halls of Hogwarts towards the Headmaster's office along with several of the other staff members. As they went along, Fred gave George a small push in the shoulder and said "Tag."
George shared a mental grin with his brother and pushed him back. "Tag back."
"You're it." Fred said tagging him back almost instantly.
"No you're it." George then responded after another tap to his brother's shoulder.
"Back at you."
"You're it again."
The pair continued their game laughing harder and harder as they continued to play. It wasn't the game they were laughing about though it was the growing agitation of their former Potions Professor who was following along behind the group.
"Stop it! Both of you!" Snape finally yelled finding himself unable to control his temper any longer.
Both of the Weasley twins did their best to look contrite.
Fred and George both turned forward and continued to walk solemnly toward Dumbledore's office. It was almost a full minute before Fred turned towards his brother.
"Tag, you're it."
Dumbledore took a seat at his desk as the heads of house and the Weasley twins filed into the room behind him and began taking the various chairs the Headmaster had conjured for them all to sit in as he crossed the office. He couldn't help but smile and mentally shake his head at the grins the twins were wearing and the look of cold fury on Severus face.
Silence quickly descended on the group as everyone took a seat and began looking to the Headmaster to begin the conversation.
"I must say it is most enjoyable having you both back at the castle again Messer's Weasley," Albus began, smiling widely at the twins seated before him. "I would be very interested in hearing the story behind this all."
Fred and George just smiled back innocently. "I'm not sure what you mean professor."
"Why don't we start with how long you have been in touch with Harry," Dumbledore asked still smiling. He had always had a special fondness for these two.
George brought his hand up to his chin and tapped it thoughtfully for a minute. "I believe… yes, it's been just over five years."
Dumbledore looked amused and was about to rephrase his question when Severus took several quick steps forward from where he had been leaning against the fireplace, drawing his wand as he did so.
"This is ridicules. Legilimens!" Snape roared as he pointed his wand at George's face.
Dumbledore sighed and shook his head having a pretty good idea of what was coming. The twins, far from being worried about the intrusion, looked rather gleeful about the whole thing.
As the spell hit, George seemed to wince slightly but didn't drop his gaze from the Potion Master's eyes. Fred was grinning widely and staring off into space, seemingly not paying attention to anything going on around him.
Severus did his best to force George's recent memories of Harry to the surface, pouring more and more of his power into the spell. He was extremely surprised when instead of images of Harry and his friends, only an image of the grinning twins appeared in front of him.
'Hello Sevvie Poo!' Severus heard one of them say in his mind.
'You know, it really isn't polite to be rummaging through peoples heads without their permission,' the other scolded as if speaking to a small child.
'Nope, not nice at all.'
Realizing he had made a mistake, Severus attempted to pull back and end the spell only to find he was trapped. As he gave up his fruitless attempts at leaving, he looked back at the twins to find them grinning like maniacs. He felt a smidgen of fear as one of the images floated towards him with its arm outstretched. His fear immediately changed back to anger as the twin spoke.
'Tag, you're it!'
After a few moments the other twin spoke up. 'I don't think he understands how to play.'
'Yes, sad really,' he replied before turning back to Severus. 'You're it, which means it's your turn to try to tag one of us.'
An angry scowl was the only response.
'Hmm brother mine, it seems our friend here is speechless.'
'Yes, perhaps it is a bit difficult to play tag when you're not allowed to speak.'
'Definitely, I suppose we could allow him to talk.'
'But I'm not sure he really wants to play anyway.'
'Right, and I'm not sure I want to hear anything the greasy git has to say.'
'Me either, perhaps we should play another game before we let him go.'
'Oh yes, definitely. You?'
Turning back towards the image of their ex-professor, Fred and George both raised their hands and the last thing Severus saw was a bright light before he reappeared in the Headmaster's office with a blinding headache. It took him a few moments to push it aside enough to bring his surroundings back into focus. He was dismayed to find everyone in the office looking at him and snickering almost uncontrollably.
"Oh dear brother mine," George began.
"Yes my good looking twin, most disappointing," Fred continued with a sad shake of his head.
"To think this gentleman used to be someone we looked up to."
"No, not really, but still…"
"Yes, you'd think a man of his tenure would have at least a little control over himself."
"Yes, quite sad really," George finished with a disappointed shake of his head.
Seeing everyone laughing at him and feeling an odd warm sensation, Severus looked down to find a large wet spot on the front of his trousers. With anger coursing through every inch of his being, Severus growled and raised his wand towards the twins.
"Severus!" the Headmaster intoned firmly.
Severus head spun towards Professor Dumbledore. "Headmaster, I demand these two be punished for what they have done!"
Dumbledore sighed and rubbed the bridge of his nose before returning his attention to the angry Potions Master.
"I don't think that will be possible Severus. I believe if you review the code you agreed to upon becoming a Legilimens, you will find that they were well within their rights to do everything they did to you having been the recipients of your unprovoked attack. In fact, I believe they showed incredible restraint, they could have taken it much further and can still press charges if they wish to do so though I do hope they will choose not to." The Headmaster's gaze shifted from Severus to the twins as he finished and gave them a questioning look.
"Hmm, I don't know what to do," Fred said.
"I suppose we could drop the matter…" George began before he was cut off by his brother.
"If he apologized to George," Fred said still grinning widely. George couldn't help himself and let out a little snort at his brothers demand.
Severus looked about ready to explode but knew he had no choice. It took all of his years of experience in Occlumency to push aside his anger enough to look back at the grinning twins.
"I'm sorry," he managed to grind out in a very unconvincing manner.
"Apology accepted," George replied happily having been the one attacked.
Fred nodded in agreement. "You really should clean yourself up old boy."
Severus growled and waved his wand over his pants. As the stain disappeared, he put away his wand and crossed his arms with an angry scowl on his face.
"Now, if we could get back to the matter at hand," Dumbledore began. "I would very much like to hear about your recent meetings with Mr. Potter."
"Sorry Professor, I really have no idea what you're talking about," George said with finality.
"Nope, not a clue. My brother and I run a respectable shop and really don't have time to indulge in dealings with such dubious characters."
"Respectable?" George asked his brother who simply smiled and shrugged his shoulders.
Pulling a small paper bag out of his pocket, Fred opened it and held it towards the Headmaster. "Lemon drop?"
With his eyes twinkling brightly, the Headmaster politely declined the offered sweet.
After some idle chit chat, Dumbledore let the twins leave realizing they were not about to let anything concerning Harry slip. The pair was half way down the revolving staircase when they both stopped.
"You know our dear relatives and their friends are probably waiting to corner us somewhere below."
"Ahh, way ahead of you dear brother." Reaching into his robes, Fred removed two small sweets, one green and one purple.
"I call green," George quickly said.
"No way, you always get green."
"Untrue brother mine, quite untrue."
"We seem to be at something of an impasse."
"Rock, paper scissors?" George asked.
"An inspired idea."
"1… 2… 3!" the pair said together waving their fists towards each other with each number.
"Hmm, both rocks."
"1… 2… 3!"
"Again?" Fred asked when they both selected rock for the second time.
"1… 2… 3!"
"This could take awhile."
"True, true…" Fred said deep in thought. "I've got it!"
"Yes, quite, again?"
"1… 2… 3!"
"Err, what's that?" George asked as he looked at Fred's hand. He was holding it palm down with his fingers dangling loosely below.
"That's Snape's greasy locks."
"Well, I guess you win then."
"Yes, I believe I do. But you were a very challenging competitor so I will concede the green to you."
"You're a prince among men," George said as he accepted the green sweet. "Damn good looking too."
As one the pair held up their respective sweets. "Cheers!" they said happily before popping them in their mouths. After a few seconds of chewing there was a pair of loud pops as Fred changed into a smaller version of Dumbledore who's eyes were literally glowing blue and George became Snape though his skin was paler than usual and his hair continually dripped grease which left a trail behind him as they began making their way down the stairs.
As they exited the stairwell, they were not surprised to find two Weasley's, a Granger and a Longbottom waiting for them. They almost laughed out loud at the confused looks on the groups face as they started walking past.
"Students," Fred said making his eyes glow even brighter.
"One million points from Griffindork!" George said with a scowl.
"Now Sev," Fred began as they continued walking past.
"But they looked at me," George complained in a whiny voice.
As the pair disappeared around a corner the teens all gave each other confused looks. The only exception was Hermione who was looking thoughtful.
"Hermione?" Ron asked as she began following the trail of grease down the corridor.
"That was the twins," she said simply as she picked up her pace, jogging after them.
They followed the trail all the way out the front doors of Hogwarts to find it ended at the top of the front steps.
"Honestly," Hermione said in frustration.
"Why did they skip out on us?" Neville asked.
Hermione let out a huff. "Isn't it obvious?"
Seeing everyone's confused looks she rolled her eyes. "They obviously didn't want to talk to us about Harry!"
"They could have just told us that," Ron whined.
Turning around they headed back inside. As the castle doors closed, Fred and George let out sighs of relief from their hiding place in some nearby bushes. After waiting for a couple more minutes the pair began the long walk to Hogsmeade.
They walked in silence for several minutes before George reached out and touched his brother's shoulder. "Tag."