Harry Potter and the Seventh Serpent

Summary: Follows directly on from the end of book six – the search for the Horcruxes

Fandom: Harry Potter

Pairings: Bill/Fleur, Lupin/Tonks, Ron/Hermione, Hermione/OC, Ginny/OC, Harry/Ginny, Gabrielle/Harry…some surprise pairings I don't want to spoil, and more I've either forgotten about or haven't decided on yet

Warnings: Bad language, violence, character death…and probably slash, knowing me

Disclaimer: I own the plot, and any OCs who appear. Harry and Co belong to JKR

Chapter 7 – Initiation

Wherein Confusion Reigns, and the Order acquires some New Members

Harry was worried that he might have missed dinner, but when he got the Headquarters he found the place in uproar and no sign of any sort of food. Clearly dinner was the least of everyone's worries at that moment. People were hurrying back and forth, shouting instructions to each other, and every fireplace in the building was in use as they Floo-ed from place to place. Harry stood in the doorway, staring at the scene in bewilderment as snatches of frantic conversation drifted past.

"…no casualties as far as we know, but it's still…"

"…can't cover it up – the Mark was there…"

"…International Co-operation are having a collective aneurysm…"

"…Kingsley's talking to our contacts in the French Ministry, but…"

Gabrielle was crying hysterically with her arms around her father, who was ranting loudly and angrily at Marc in French. As he watched, Fleur ran up to them, tailed by her mother. Harry blinked in confusion and tried to find someone to explain to him what was going on. Seeing the younger residents watching from the gallery, he hurried up there. Ginny and Hermione were comforting a sobbing Veronique – Harry skirted around them and walked over to Ron.

"What's going on?" Harry asked.

"Oh, there you are," Ron said; "Far as I can make out, Death Eaters attacked Fleur's family's place in France. They don't know if anyone's been killed yet, but the French Ministry's going crazy. It happened a couple of hours ago – this place's been a madhouse ever since."

After it became clear that the problem wasn't going to be resolved any time soon, Molly Weasley came upstairs and roped them into helping her feed all the Order members who would be missing dinner. Ginny was allowed to stay with Veronique, but Harry, Ron, and Hermione were handed huge trays of tea and sandwiches to carry around. People snatched sandwiches as the passed and ate them on the move, while others tried not to spill tea as they ran.

It carried on well into the night, and the amount of noise and general panic in the air made it impossible to sleep. Harry didn't even try – he and the others who were too young to be involved sat in the kitchen with hot drinks and biscuits. Veronique was whisked away by her parents around midnight. Shortly after that, an extremely harassed-looking Minerva McGonagall emerged from the fireplace and hurried through to the library.

Occasionally, charitable-feeling people (Or people who wanted an excuse to sit down for a minute) dropped in to fill them in on what was going on. Tonks explained to them that apparently the French Ministry were insisting that they – meaning Britain in general – should be containing Voldemort and his followers, since he was their problem in the first place. Fred and George spent close to twenty minutes hovering around, trying to be inconspicuous, until Mrs. Weasley ordered them back to work.

Around two in the morning, exhausted-looking Order-members began to file into the kitchen for what had to be another meeting. Molly sent Ginny up to bed, objections falling on deaf ears. She would have done the same to Harry, Ron, and Hermione, but Lupin stopped her: "They're of age, Molly, and they'll be joining the Order soon anyway. It won't make much difference if they stay." She directed a glare at the three delighted teenagers, but said nothing.

"Pay attention, everybody," Minerva said loudly, standing at the head of the table; "This is still important, but no longer a crisis. We have ascertained that no-one was killed in the attack, although the house itself was wrecked. The French have agreed not to make a diplomatic incident of this in exchange for certain concessions from our Ministry. Kingsley, Tonks, I want both of you to talk to as many people as you can from the Department of International Magical Co-operation and try to find out exactly what the deal was, understood?" She nodded in satisfaction as they both answered in the affirmative: "Monsieur and Madame Delacour will be going home in the morning, but they feel it is unsafe to take their children back to France…" here she sighed; "They will be staying here with us. Fleur and Marc are to join the Order; Veronique and Gabrielle will go to Hogwarts. Any questions? No? Fine. Since we're all here anyway, there are a few other things we might as well get out of the way. Bill…?"

Bill Weasley stood and cleared his throat; "Just a few people being moved around on the duty roster. Charlie, we need you back in Romania – see if you can talk any of the vampire clans around. Since we're still short a spy, Mundungus and Tonks, I'm afraid you're both on double shifts until we can pull a few more people to help you: sorry about that. We're still not finished clearing out of Grimmauld Place, so if anyone with free time over the next few weeks could help us out, that'd make life a lot easier. Oh, and we're swearing in our new recruits tomorrow – sorry, later today – so you'll be told call signs some time in the evening probably. Next meeting should be a week on Saturday…which reminds me, we'll need volunteers to take the young ones to Diagon Alley for school supplies, and to the train on Tuesday. Talk to Molly about that if you're interested. Good night everybody."

"I don't suppose by 'new recruits' he meant us as well?" Ron said hopefully as they climbed the stairs to bed.

"I'm not sure," Hermione said; "I imagine they'll tell us tomorrow if they did."

"I hope so," Harry grinned.

Hermione went in the opposite direction from the boys at the top of the stairs to the bedroom she shared with Ginny…where, Harry suspected, the younger girl was waiting to be filled in on what had happened. He and Ron fell into their own beds in exhaustion, and Harry groaned as he saw the clock on his bedside table – it was almost three in the morning. Merlin, what a day it had been…

"I forgot to ask what happened today," Ron's voice drifted through the darkness a while later; "Did you get to Godric's Hollow?"

"Yeah," Harry said, staring up at the ceiling.

"What was it like?"

"The village was nice. My old house was all burnt out…looked like it'd exploded or something."

"Oh…" A period of silence; "G'night."

"Yeah, good night…or morning…or whatever it is…" Harry said around a yawn. The only reply was a soft snoring.

Harry wasn't sure what time he awoke, but warm golden sunlight was streaming in through the window. He kept his eyes tightly shut, because if he opened them he would have to acknowledge the fact that it was morning now and he was supposed to get out of bed. His bed was warm and comfortable, and he really didn't want to leave it.

"Are you two awake?"

Harry groaned at the sound of Hermione's voice, inordinately cheerful and bright and above all awake for this time in the morning. He heard Ron say 'no!' in a determined tone of voice from the other bed, at which Hermione tutted disapprovingly: "Honestly! You're going to miss breakfast if you don't get up."

"Then wake us for lunch," Ron muttered, and there was a sound of shifting quilts which indicated he was burying his head under the pillow. Harry continued pretending to be asleep.

"Fine," Hermione huffed; "But don't complain to me when your mother comes to get you up…"

The door clicked shut, and they heard her footsteps receding down the hallway. Harry opened his eyes slowly and stared at the ceiling. There was a crack in the plaster right above his bed, twisting away towards the window, branching out across the otherwise stark whiteness. The deep red curtains were open a little, sunlight spilling through them. Dust motes danced and twisted silently in the still air as they drifted through the single beam of sun.

"D'you reckon we oughta get up?" Ron said eventually.

"Suppose so," Harry conceded reluctantly.

"Alright then. First in the shower." Creaking floorboards mapped his path across the floor to the bathroom. Harry closed his eyes again. Five more minutes can't hurt…

Five minutes turned to ten, and fifteen, and then Ron whipped the covers off his bed and threw a towel at him. The water in the shower was pleasantly cool, which woke him up a little. Harry dressed quickly without really noticing what he was putting on and they headed down to breakfast together.

"Well finally!" Molly said when they arrived in the dining room; "I was starting to think you weren't coming!" Neither of the boys responded: they simply shoveled as much food as they could onto their plates. The room was filled with bleary-eyed Order members desperately trying to stay awake. No-one spoke, except for quiet pleas that the coffee pot be passed in their direction. When breakfast was over Harry, Ron, and Hermione were sent upstairs with orders to make themselves presentable. Confused, they obeyed.

When they were called back downstairs, Molly directed them to seats in the sitting room before hurrying out again. Harry sat on one of the couches, between his two best friends, all three of them wondering what was going on. After a short while Molly ushered Fleur and Marc in. Both of them seemed rather bewildered as well – Harry had to assume they didn't know what was going on either. Molly quickly left.

Awkward silence followed.

They were spared further embarrassment when Minerva McGonagall strode into the room in a flurry of robes. She looked even more harassed than usual; her hair was falling out of its tight bun and there were flecks of ink on her hands and robes. The five young men and women shifted a little in their seats as she stared sternly at them over the rims of her spectacles. Harry felt like a first year again.

"The five of you are to join the Order of the Phoenix," she said without preamble, placing her hands on her hips; "I'm sure I need not emphasise what a grave responsibility this is, or the danger you will be in. I am confident, however, that you will be more than capable of handling the tasks you are given. Now, to business…"

From inside her robes she produced a scroll, headed with the words 'the Order of the Phoenix' in ornate writing – Harry craned to see better – and the names of what had to be every Order member. There were names he didn't recognise, the list far longer than could be accounted for by people he knew. Clearly the Order was larger than he'd thought. Most of the names were picked out in shiny green ink, although a few were shading to yellow…but the occasional name was in dead, dull black. A shiver crept up his spine as Minerva laid the scroll flat on the coffee table, and he saw what those names were; Sirius Orpheus Black, Emmeline Vance, Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore: dead names.

"The scroll is part of a tracking spell placed on all Order members," she explained, noting their curious stares; "The colour corresponds to their wellbeing. Now I'll add you…"

She pulled out her wand and began muttering incantations while her wand-tip moved in complicated patterns. Harry watched in fascination as new names inscribed themselves in shining green at the bottom of the list: Hermione Margaret Granger, Ronald Weasley, Harry James Potter, Fleur Amandine Lois Weasley, Marc Raphael Delacour

"Is that it?" Ron blurted, then flushed.

Minerva gave a weary nod and rolled up the scroll again, slipping it inside her robes. She clasped her hands together and smiled at her five newest recruits: "Yes, as a matter of fact it is. Welcome to the Order of the Phoenix."

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