Disclaimer: It's JKR's world, not mine. But at this point the plot itself will mostly be mine, even if all of the parts moving around are still hers.
A/N: Big happenings this chapter, and thanks to my anonymous reviewerYofor catching a continuity error. No beta, so all mistakes are once again solely my errors alone. This wraps up this story, with OYE: Year 6, coming eventually.
Tapping his wand on the orb it slowly opened revealing the familiar scene of an ethereal Sybil Trelawney:
The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches ... Born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies...
"Thrice the dark lord might sway him when revealed, ere the boy becomes a man and then one shall defeat the other. For neither can live while the other survives unless they unite."
Harry buried himself behind his Occlumency barriers, feeling elated that one of his plans was coming to fruition now. The feeling was quickly replaced by the constant hum in his ears he now attached to dangerous situations. He half wondered somewhere in the back of his mind if this was what Dumbledore or Voldemort felt when completing an elaborate scheme, but squashed it because he wasn't harming anyone else with his plans, or at least that was what he told himself in the past. Of course, those concerns were ancillary to being surrounded by the largest concentration of powerful dark wizards in the world mere feet away.
Voldemort's red eyes burned with fury and more than a small measure of malice, the dark lord seethed in his mind.
So Potter was in essence untouchable until he became an adult.
Thankfully, in terms of magic this was an easily measurable age, when the boy turned 17 he became a man, and he could be killed. Suddenly it explained his inexplicable defeats over the past 14 years, and instead of making him fallible it gave him context for his defeats. Even he, the great Lord Voldemort, could not defeat fate, it appeared.
Harry glanced around deciding he really had nothing else to accomplish at this point. Having saved a few ministry employees and activating the fake prophecy he had no other plans or contingencies worth staying within shouting range of so many psychopaths and murderers, he was funny in that way. Glancing around at the 13 hardened killers he half wondered, why he had decided to even bother with the fake prophecy. No use in crying over spilled milk now, he could save the self-recriminations for later.
"Well…now that we've taken care of our business for the day, I think I'll be leaving for now." Harry stated with a half bow as he made to exit the circle of death eaters and Voldemort surrounding him, selecting Rabastan LeStrange to push his way through.
As Harry made to leave Voldemort gathered himself in the face of the revelations of the prophecy, "Nonsense Harry, we've just begun to have fun today; think of it as a recruitment visit."
Harry rolled his eyes and glanced straight into the eyes of Rabastan LeStrange, "I don't suppose you'll move if I say please, will you?"
LeStrange didn't even react and Harry turned to Voldemort, "I'm actually busy today Tom, perhaps we can reschedule for some time later."
Voldemort opened his mouth to reply when Harry made his move, slamming his palm into LeStrange's solar plexus, doubling the man over as he sprinted past. Voldemort finally reacted and hissed, "Stop the boy from escaping."
Harry darted towards a shadowed corner, transforming instantaneously as he melted into the shadow, disappearing amidst an infuriated hiss from Voldemort. After a moment of complete silence, the dark lord stated, "Initiate the final phase of the plan, you all know what you need to do. Close down the borders to all magical travel, which should stop all but the muggleborns from escaping long enough to institute our other measures. Bella, I expect you to retrieve everything of value from Gringott's before the goblins can scurry fully back into their holes."
Voldemort furrowed his brow pondering how Potter could have escaped; he saw the transformation and the boy's disappearing act into the shadows. His study of darker magical creatures in his earlier years led him to one possible creature; Potter was a Twilight Panther animagus. There were ways around the mythical abilities of the Twilight Panther; otherwise the creature would have long ago controlled an entire continent, and he wouldn't be a very good dark lord if he didn't know how to control dark creatures.
His inner circle had fanned out, each of them leaving the prophecy room to begin the laborious process of creating his puppet government, using the ministry building as his base of operations. The prophecy didn't change much in his plans, aside from knowing now that Potter would be the last step between him and ultimate victory.
As he prepared for his own personal mission two of his lesser followers brought a prisoner to him, the delicious irony of this prisoner meant he would get to his other plans. "Hello Bartemius, have you seen your boy lately?"
Barty Crouch Sr. slumped to his knees in defeat, all of his political gambits; all of his vaunted intelligence and ability were going to come to a bitter end right now. Scrimgeour had abandoned him to this fate because he couldn't be trusted with his obvious ambitions driving him, and he was a political liability, his own son being an inner circle member of Voldemort's Deatheaters.
Crouch closed his eyes as Voldemort brandished his wand like a surgical instrument; the one thought reverberating through his mind was soon to be reality, as the pain started.
"Let's start with the eyes Bartemius; I'll save the fun body parts for when Junior comes back." Voldemort said in a silky tone as the room filled with screams. The simple pleasures of torturing for sport were clearly underrated by all of those who had never experienced it.
Harry materialized from a shadow outside of the parlor room at Grimmauld Place; the transformation back and forth was pretty much instantaneous now. The fact that he was clear of danger now seemed to fully hit him all at once as his heart beat began to hammer in ears so loudly he could hardly hear Sirius screaming from a room away. He focused on his breathing exercises, the same exercises he used over a year ago when he started learning Occlumency on his own with Hermione. His flight on Buckbeak's back was the memory he chose now to focus with, Hermione squeezed him tightly from behind, and his life was so much simpler then.
His heart rate slowed noticeably, the drumming of his heart beat was no longer a personal metronome as he opened his eyes to see Sirius ten feet away gazing meaningfully at his godson.
"So, back from the ministry are you?" Sirius asked plainly, but the edge of his concern was palpable.
Harry removed his glasses and sighed, "Dobby!"
The little elf popped into the room, "Master Harry has called Dobby?"
Harry merely said, "Dobby can you grab me my contacts with the charms I worked on over Easter, I'm tired of these glasses."
Dobby popped away and Harry turned to Sirius, "Just give me a sec Paddy, I'll tell you when Dobby gets back."
Sirius' mouth quirked slightly but he nodded as the little elf returned with a small case of charmed contacts. Harry explained, "Considering I have no clue if I'll be involved in more battles today, I figured I'd best do this right now." Gingerly he placed the contacts in his eyes as he further explained, "A gift from Hermione, I'll never have to remove these, and they are enchanted so the spells can't be cancelled, even by Voldemort."
Sirius decided against tact, "Relax Harry, and tell me exactly what happened. You always ramble when the adrenalin is running, so give me the details and we can discuss your new eyewear later."
Harry's hands trembled as the adrenalin began to wash from his system, just as Sirius had said, "Let's go take a seat and I'll share."
Sirius reached over and squeezed Harry's shoulder gently, steering him into the parlor room, and the two nearest chairs.
Harry stated, "Well, Umbridge slipped me that portkey and I popped up in the ministry atrium, in the middle of a pile of dead ministry employees."
Sirius nodded and watched as Harry flexed his hand into a fist and pounded it down on the arm of the chair, "I am so bloody tired of Dumbledore and his half arsed idea of what passes for security."
Sirius patted his godson's see soothingly, "Save the recriminations for later kiddo, the Order has been called for a meeting later tonight."
Harry frowned, "I helped a few ministry people still hiding, trying to escape. The outbound Floo connections were still working, but based on my lack of support I assume inbound connections had been disrupted."
Sirius merely nodded as Harry continued, "I ran into the Carrows and Jugson in an anteroom off of the atrium, and I traded spells with them for about twenty minutes. I only realized in a break that they were herding me towards the Department of Mysteries."
Sirius grimaced, "The prophecy then." Rubbing at his eyes he pulled his wand and summoned a bottle of firewhiskey. Conjuring two large glasses he uncorked the bottle and poured both glass full before handing the glass to Harry. The pair both took large gulps of the noxious fluid, steam soon poured out of their ears before Harry swallowed thickly and stood up, taking his half-filled glass with him.
"So I knew what Voldemort's plan was by then of course, and being the idiot I was I decided to spring the trap, but only after seeing what kind of numbers he was working with." Harry began to pace restlessly, stopping only once to down the remainder of his firewhiskey.
"He had the entire bloody inner circle there, save for the Carrows and Jugson who were still looking for me. But, I knew that if I didn't show up the false prophecy wouldn't be heard." Harry said, becoming more agitated by the moment, removing his robes and un-tucking his uniform blazer haphazardly.
Sirius glanced out of the corner of his eye and noticed that Remus and Tonks had made an appearance, both watching but keeping their respective distance. They weren't sure if Harry was having a nutter, but they figured Sirius was the best equipped of anyone not named Hermione to avoid it, if at all possible.
Harry stopped pacing and continued in an odd tone of voice, "Of course Voldemort was furious when the Carrows and Jugson ran in to the prophecy room; they were pissing themselves about losing me."
Sirius nodded, "I'd imagine pissing themselves was the least of their concerns at that point kiddo."
Harry chuckled once, his face contorting into a sad example of a smile, "Voldemort sent them back to keep looking for me. That was my cue, my perfect opportunity to deal Riddle a loss, while minimizing the risk to myself."
Sirius had frozen in place as Harry continued in a pain filled whisper, "Oh…god, I tore out Jugson's throat in my animagus form, and I could taste his blood running into my mouth…" Harry snarled and threw his glass into the nearest wall, the explosion of glass led to splinters bouncing back into his face, but thankfully all missing his eyes.
Sirius stood and walked over to his godson, pulling him into a tight hug as Harry continued in a whisper, "Alecto was clean, piercing spell right through the back of the head. Amycus actually got a spell off, but it didn't matter, I looked into his eyes as his head exploded."
Closing his eyes again Harry felt the trickle of blood run from a gash in his forehead, before the cooling of a healing spell closed the cut with a wave of Sirius' wand. Sirius' grip relaxed and Harry stepped out of the hug.
Harry gingerly prodded at his newly healed flesh, a hyper acute almost perverse awareness of pain washed over him. Walking over to the wall he stepped close and put his hand through the wall with one straight punch, the pain serving as a focus now, forcing him to the end of his story.
"So, after killing three people I decided to take my odds against Voldemort and the 12 other inner circle members. In hindsight, not the best decision I've ever made. But, at the time I was just reacting to everything, after all it's saved me in the past nicely enough." Harry pulled his hand from the wall; the knuckles were scraped up, but not badly enough to deter him from continuing.
"He listened to the fake prophecy, and he seemed to buy it. After trading some pleasantries I decked Rabastan LeStrange and made my exit." Harry simplified the end, but he only planned to share the actual words with Hermione, after the storm had blown over.
Glancing over at Remus and Tonks Harry wryly added, "So that's basically how I wind down from an OWL exam. What has everyone else been up to?"
Sirius wrapped and arm around Harry's shoulder and led him towards the kitchen, "Let's grab a bite to eat, and you can hear what's going on thanks to the WWN. If she's still here then Evangeline can get some practice mothering you before Molly and Hermione show up."
Hermione was thinking so much that for once she wished she could stop her mind from pondering the endless possibilities of her life. Even if she had supreme confidence in Harry's ability to survive, it didn't stop those whispers in her mind that always crept up when he found himself in the life and death type of situations. It had been two years since she had joined him on one of these "end of the school year adventures", and she understood now that it was far worse not knowing than being in danger herself.
She blamed Dumbledore, she blamed Harry, she blamed Umbridge, and she blamed herself for everything that happened. She knew she should blame one other wizard more than the rest, but blaming Voldemort seemed to be an exercise in futility most of the time.
She'd even acted snippy with Dumbledore of all people, sure she thought the old wizard was constantly making the same mistakes over and over again, but that didn't give her license to act the way she had. If she was upset, Harry would be furious and that benefited no one, no matter how deserved or not it was. She would have to be fully supportive of Harry, but also able to work with Dumbledore, or the sacrifices of war would be meaningless.
Glancing around she noted that only those going to Grimmauld remained in the school, it had already been a long day; the last few OWL exams had been rushed through before the examiners had disappeared, promising that results would be posted as always, regardless of the fate in the ministry.
McGonagall was the one who walked over to the young witch, "Ms. Granger, we must be leaving in a moment, if we wish to get outside of the wards before the castle becomes lockdown."
Hermione frowned and began to walk away from the small alcove with the window overlooking the grounds of the castle. "I'm sure you'll hear all about what is happening once we reach the safety of headquarters." McGonagall said in a soothing tone of voice.
Hermione wordlessly followed her head of house, and took a hold of the portkey before the older witch tapped it with her wand, and they disappeared in a whirl of color.
As the two witches vanished it left the final sentient being within the whole of the Hogwarts wards, Dumbledore closed his eyes, feeling the full weight of actions he would be making over the coming months. While he fully intended on dying in a time of peace when the world was in safe hands, he could make no guarantees of what would happen. Connecting with the wards one final time he tapped his own gnarled wand on his suitcase and vanished as the school which had housed nearly a million students became fully deserted for the first time in nearly a millennia.
Harry sat in a chair around the small table that Sirius and Remus usually ate at during the quite times of the year, munching on a sandwich from a large pile provided by Dobby.
The message continued to loop. Over and over again over the WWN:
The Ministry of Magic has fallen. Remnants of the government have relocated to France, where actions are being planned to repatriate the country by defeating the terrorist He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named and his followers, the Deatheaters. All remaining magical people must protect themselves and the statute of secrecy in any way that is safely possible. The goblins of Gringotts have transferred all accounts and contents thereof to the continent, the branches within Britain have been closed until further notice.
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry has already begun evacuation, and will remain closed as long as the war continues. Beauxbatons school and Durmstrang school have already signed reciprocity agreements with Hogwarts, so free transfers will be allowed for the coming school year. Students who have taken the OWL and NEWT examinations will receive their scores whenever it is safe to do so. Files of scores will be available for students who wish to view them at the exiled ministry, and any potential transfer schools.
Witches and wizard should find their way out of Britain through muggle means of travel, repeat magical travel is no longer safe….The Ministry of Magic has fallen….
Harry shook his head at everything the message had said, each new point raised was just another indictment against the ministry and its practices over the last 20 years at the minimum, likely expanding much further back than that. Of course for each thing the announcement said, more telling were the things not mentioned.
"So, in essence the ministry suggests everyone leave the country until the brains that just got outmaneuvered by said Dark Lord miraculously figure out a way to defeat him. Then it's a simple matter to figure out a way to retake the country with no tangible resources beyond a limited auror force." Harry stated as he rolled his eyes.
Remus fielded the statement, "A limited auror force that would have been completely wiped out in the attack on the ministry. Additionally, several obliviators and all of the vetted unspeakables also made it out safely. The government in exile has a chance to gather aid under a national banner, and they have the advantage of depriving those resources to Voldemort. So, compared to prior ministry decisions, I'd say this ranks up somewhere between genius, and fully competent."
Harry scowled fiercely and was about to reply when Sirius added, "You need to take a breather for a few minutes Harry, go upstairs and get unpacked and write up a game plan for the Order meeting tonight. I'll send Hermione along as soon as she gets here."
Harry nodded sharply and stomped out of the kitchen before Sirius turned to Remus, "Harry made some reasonable points Remus, just because we grew up amongst the logic and incompetence of this government doesn't mean everyone else did. There's a large difference between acknowledging that, and accepting it as a part of your government. It's something the rest of us like to delude ourselves over, but even my muggle hating parents understood that."
Remus looked startled by Sirius' well reasoned argument as he continued, "We are going to need both Harry's train of thought and Dumbledore's to win this war and have most of us survive to enjoy it. I'm not too proud to admit that, we need to get Harry to understand it too, or all of this is going to be for naught."
Remus frowned, "Harry is a remarkable young wizard, but…"
Sirius cut him off, "The prophecy Remus, you have two incredibly determined and talented wizards that have opposing goals. The fake prophecy might buy us a few months before Voldemort convinces himself that he is powerful enough to buck the entire thing. Harry doesn't even have that luxury and he just faced Voldemort down, again surrounded by the inner circle without giving up the game. I've lost two damned good Potters to that bastard already, and that's not including Charlus and Dorea, Harry isn't going to die in this war. So, we need to convince him to swallow his pride, and work with Dumbledore to make this all happen."
Remus didn't respond other than to stare thoughtfully at his friend, before he nodded once and finally replied, "Well, there's only one person that can get Harry to see reason before the meeting, and when she gets here, you already said you were sending her along."
Sirius smirked in response, "If I knew that being logical and full of deep thoughts would be enough to make you shot your gob, I'd have done it ages ago."
Remus didn't respond verbally but the loaf of bread that hit Sirius in the face a moment later seemed to communicate his thoughts on the matter quite admirably.
Hermione landed softly next to McGonagall as the pair landed in the Parlor room of Grimmauld Place, the entry point for Order members and their families for the remainder of the war. Instead of waiting for the Professor to lead the way Hermione sprinted into the kitchen, the informal meeting place for the Marauders in the house.
As she entered the room Sirius merely said, "Upstairs in his room, try to talk some sense into him."
Hermione's heart nearly exploded in relief at the words as she spun on her heel and nearly bowled over Professor McGonagall as she darted towards the stairs, a muffled; "excuse me" was her only concession to manners.
She found her quarry in the suggested spot, unpacking rather haphazardly as Dobby helped when he could, keeping the room from turning into an absolute disaster area. Harry barely had time to brace himself before he caught Hermione in his arms, sending both of them tumbling onto his soft mattress.
Harry laughed softly before Hermione sealed her lips to his in a desperate embrace that lasted for several long minutes.
As the frantic snog ended Harry sat up, with Hermione still attached to his lips and he gently disentangled from his girlfriend, "Pretty wild day, eh?"
Hermione took a deep shuddering breath, her hair an even more wild mess than normal, starting and stopping in an effort to find the right words. Finally she settled on, "You look amazing with your contacts in."
Harry laughed freely at this, "I'm amazed at how the brightest witch of her age is so easily sidetracked."
Hermione shoved on his shoulder in response to push away, and she crossed her legs to get a real serious look at her boyfriend. "So, what happened at the ministry?"
Harry ran a hand through his hair, "Short version for now. I'll be giving the full version again at the Order meeting tonight."
Hermione didn't even blink at the news of an Order meeting as Harry plainly stated, "I killed the Carrows and Jugson, and was stupid enough to walk into the middle of the inner circle without back up. The fake prophecy worked well enough that I managed to escape, and here I am now."
Hermione looked at Harry with a frown, "I don't think I like how blasé you are about killing three people."
Harry snapped in his reply, "Well what the bloody hell am I supposed to do, I've already broken things and that didn't make me feel any better."
Hermione took one of his hands between her smaller hands and gently said, "I want you to trust me enough to tell me how you feel. I know that isn't easy for you, but that is more a gender shortcoming for men than anything special to you Harry."
Harry frowned, "I'm just angry, not that I had to kill them as much, because I know that it's going to happen again. But, that I'm forced to do these things at all."
Harry's eyes pleaded with Hermione to listen without interrupting, "I'm not exactly happy about killing anyone, but I reckon they would be just as happy to do the same to my friends and family…and I can deal with that sacrifice if it means I can save everyone I love."
Hermione smiled softly turning his hand and kissing the palm gently, "I can't say I completely understand, simply because I haven't been forced to make that decision. But, never feel that you can't tell me everything, because amongst other things, I've found I'm a pretty good listener."
Harry nodded and squeezed her hand before rolling off of his bed and walking over to the enchanted window in his room. It had been a project over the Easter holiday break, crafting the proper ward stones to have a permanent view of Taino beach in the Bahamas.
Seeing a beach across an entire ocean was proof that in some ways magic made anything possible, of course with anything possible the potential for terrible things was increased greatly. Harry smiled wryly to himself, he was quickly becoming jaded, and he didn't really know what to think of it. Becoming jaded was a strange sensation, because he still clearly remembered a time when he thought nothing could be worse than living with the Dursleys. It was hard not to see all of the horrible things magic could do right now, the blood of the three seemingly still on his hands.
This wasn't the world of unicorns and friendly giants he remembered so fondly, instead now it was quickly becoming a world of blood, pain, and death. The wonder, beauty, and innocence of his childhood was quickly being replaced by something else, much darker and it all honesty it scared him.
Hermione silently climbed off the bed and stood next to him, offering her comfort, strength, and presence during his tumultuous thoughts.
"D'you remember the feeling when we were sitting in that room, waiting to be told we could go in and get sorted?" Harry asked quietly, but with a strengthening resolve.
Hermione closed her eyes and smiled softly, "I was terrified, sitting there mumbling all of the answers to the text books, figuring we were about to be tested to see if we qualified."
Harry laughed softly, "I don't remember one specific thing, but more that everything was coming at me so quickly. I was told that I was a celebrity in a bar, and I had no real idea why I was famous. I get on the train and I was making enemies and friends without even trying to. The chocolate frogs, Ron's dirty face, a bossy cute little witch, and Draco Malfoy acting much more important than he actually was."
Hermione nodded, her eyes still closed as Harry murmured, "It was so much simpler then."
Hermione wrapped her arms around his waist, "We were 11 years old, and it's not that everything was simpler but that we only saw what we wanted to. If we knew then what we know now things would have been a lot more complicated. Let's not play the "what if" game, it's a waste of energy, and perfectly good time to get some quality alone time in."
Harry spun Hermione until her face was looking at him as he smirked, "What kind of quality time did you have in mind?"
Hermione snuggled her face into his shoulder, "Let's go to the library and read a book by the fireplace. It's bloody June in London and this house is still colder than Hogwarts. Maybe Dobby or Winky can get us some cocoa, and we can just relax until the Order meeting."
Harry merely nodded, taking Hermione's hand in his left hand as he flicked his wand with his right, all of his remaining things going to the proper places. He had to gather his thoughts, because the meeting in a few hours was going to set the tone for many things to come.
Albus Dumbledore had immediately left the safety of the castle to one of his own specific safe houses that he had constructed should such a catastrophe occur. There was the magical world he the way wished it was, and there was the oftentimes sad parody of the utopian society he had envisioned in his youth that actually existed. Truly good people, those that actually cared about others were a rarity in the magical world for some unfathomable reason.
Fawkes trilled a single note and Dumbledore answered, "Of course you can still get into the castle old friend. The founders had no interest in warding the castle from the majesty of a phoenix, or the headmaster that shut down the castle in the first place."
Fawkes trilled again and Dumbledore sighed heavily, "So much death and destruction, and to what end? Even if the prophecy favors Tom, he will still fail in the end and our society will likely die as a result."
Shaking his head he glanced over at his pensieve, "There is much that needs to be investigated. For now, it falls upon me to keep Britain from completely drowning in evil, in time Harry will have the experience necessary to take the torch."
Fawkes didn't reply this time and Dumbledore stroked his beard in thought, "Are you prepared to make a trip to headquarters en route to Paris?"
Fawkes trilled and Dumbledore smiled softly, "Without you my friend, the world would seem a much lonelier place." Fawkes swooped to his shoulder, as the phoenix landed the pair flashed away in a trail of fire.
Order portkeys were being used continuously, as Grimmauld was slowly filling up in anticipation of the meeting to come. The remaining Weasleys had all filed in; apparently the Burrow was now under a Fidelius, and they wouldn't need to move into Grimmauld Place after all.
Sirius always found himself caught between being a gracious host, and a soldier at arms during the meetings. Evangeline had returned from her place, she had long ago begun to move in to his room and the house in general. Today she had finished the moving in, and he officially had a live in girlfriend, soon to be fiancé.
Harry and Hermione were in the far corner of the room, near Dumbledore's usual seat, and they were quietly discussing something. The pair had disappeared for a few hours, but when they reappeared right before the others began to portkey in, Harry had lost the agitation and anger he had been carrying around earlier.
He was eternally grateful that Harry had found his own strong and fierce woman, the same girl that had saved him from death a few years ago, was developing into a truly formidable witch, like Lily in so many ways, and yet different in many ways also. Harry, he looked almost like a spitting image of James at this point in his life, but as time had progressed that was almost the only thing he shared with his father.
It was a disservice to both of the Potter men he knew well to compare them; they both possessed, and in Harry's case still possessed, traits in abundance that made them great equally great but distinctly different men. He could never let James' memory go, simply because James was such a large part of making him the man he was today. The wave of melancholy that always struck him when he thought of James was muted today, not due to lack of care, but rather to other pressing concerns.
Remus slapped Sirius on the back to break him from his musings, "Are you ready for this old dog?"
Sirius smiled wryly, "I doubt I'll ever be fully ready for another war Remus, but at least the shadow games Voldemort was playing have come to an end. It's a bit easier fighting an enemy that everyone is aware of, and knowing exactly what the stakes are."
Remus nodded thoughtfully, "I imagine that's the long and short of it." Gesturing with his head to Tonks he added, "I've got to grab the empty seats by Harry and Hermione; Tonks wanted a front row seat for the fireworks."
Sirius shook his head in exasperation, Remus was in many ways the most mature of the marauders when they were going through school, but he also had a disturbing knack for finding levity in situations where it didn't belong. It was one of Remus' character traits that allowed him to joke about being a werewolf, but sometimes it also led to him making comments in poor taste.
As the room slowly filled, Sirius looked around to see how the groups were settling into place geographically. The Weasleys, save for Percy, were all in a group with Ron and Ginny on the far end, nearest to Harry and Hermione. Bill was in his rightful place next to Molly, with his fiancé, Fleur Delacour on his other side.
The older crowd had actually seemed to divide somewhat, with Moody and McGonagall taking the two seats between the Weasleys and Harry's little group. Evangeline was on the far side of Dumbledore's seat, saving his own seat for right next to the older wizard. On the other side of the leader of the Order, Harry sat with Hermione's hand intertwined loosely with his own.
The few other aurors and ministry employees were also scattered throughout the room, whether that was by design, or just happenstance he couldn't guess.
Deciding he had played host for long enough, Sirius walked over to his seat and sat down. Evangeline took his hand with a smile and was about to speak, when the telltale flash of phoenix travel was seen, depositing Dumbledore in his seat at the head of the table. He seemed somewhat surprised to see Harry sitting directly to his left, but quickly covered it as he organized a pile of parchments, making his final preparations before calling the meeting to open.
Amelia Bones looked at the map and watched as numerous portkeys were triggered, but disappeared somewhere over London, instead of tracking them to their final destination, "Someone's holding a large meeting under the Fidelius."
Scrimgeour plainly stated, "That would be Dumbledore's little Order of the Phoenix. As it stands, I imagine he has to have a better store of resources and fighters than we do."
Amelia merely nodded, "Yes, and so you are well aware, I do have a meeting planned with Dumbledore tomorrow. He mentioned that you and any other department heads remaining are encouraged to attend.
Rufus sighed and rolled his neck, a few snaps could be heard, "Thank heavens for little miracles then. I'll see what I can do about taking this issue before the ICW at their next quorum meeting."
Amelia didn't reply as she watched the map, the occasional light signifying unforgivable curses being used, or portkeys being activated through the country. The world was a changed place, and it would be a monumental task to regain that which was now lost to all of them.
Dumbledore didn't even bother to stand as he merely stated, "Let us bring this meeting to open. I won't even bother with an agenda, this is primarily a fact finding meeting, and to determine our next steps in combating the Dark Lord and his followers. Sirius?"
Sirius rubbed at his eyes tiredly, "I've been locked up here all day, but I believe Harry could better brief you on the events occurring at the ministry."
Dumbledore merely gestured with his hands and Harry spoke, "In short, I was portkeyed against my wishes to the ministry by Delores Umbridge."
Dumbledore interjected, "Madam Umbridge was under the imperius curse, and thusly is not responsible for her actions. Please continue."
Harry looked annoyed, "I arrived at the ministry in the atrium, by my count I saw at least 75 dead bodies throughout the room, of ministry employees that had offered resistance to Riddle and his forces. The room must have been the place of a large set piece battle; I only counted 5 dead in death eater robes and masks, so it appeared to be rather one-sided."
Many in the Order looked concerned; the ministry was the largest employer in the country, so odds were high that they had all lost family and friends in the attack.
Snape spoke up, which in its own right was a rare occurrence for the meetings, "The Dark Lord only has use for those that swear their fealty. If I had to hazard a guess, I would assume the atrium was being used as the site for corpses throughout the ministry. They would have the dual effect of serving as a warning to those ministry personnel fortunate enough to escape through the outward Floo connections."
Harry nodded once, "That is equally plausible to my theory Professor Snape." Snape gestured with his hand and Harry continued, "I was able to aid nearly twenty scattered ministry employees escape, by engaging various death eaters as they took those outward Floo connections."
Dumbledore once again interjected, "My apologies Harry, but it might be helpful for me to explain the nature of the Floo connections at the ministry."
Harry shrugged and Dumbledore explained, "The ministry is the setting for the vertices of the various Floo sub routes. In essence all traffic is directed through the ministry, making it impossible to completely shut off outbound Floo travel without shutting down the entire system for a long period of time. Apparently, Tom believes he can capture more people through unauthorized Floo travel, than the scattered ministry personnel that managed to evade his forces."
Harry ran a hand through his hair, "After nearly an hour of aiding those that I could find, I ran into a spot of trouble. Namely, I had three inner circle members that seemed to find great pleasure in chasing me around the ministry with unforgivable curses flashing around my head. For those of you wondering, it was the Carrows and Jugson that took an interest in tormenting me."
Moody grunted, and all of the older Order members looked as concerned as possible, considering it was obvious Harry had managed to escape somehow.
Harry continued, oblivious to the murmurs through the room, "I finally figured out that there was a rhyme to their reason for engaging me. They were herding me, herding me towards something that Riddle wanted me to be there for."
Dumbledore frowned and murmured, "The prophecy."
Harry nodded, "They were herding me towards the Department of Mysteries, I would see the occasional dead ministry employee at this point, but the building seemed more deserted than destroyed by this time."
Dumbledore glanced over at Harry after a silence of a few seconds and he commented, "So, we can safely assume that if Tom kept the destruction to a minimum, he has designs on using the ministry building in some capacity. Likely, it will be one of his main points to consolidate power from."
Harry continued his narrative, "At this point, I believe it would be safe to say I committed a tactical error. Instead of escaping, with the knowledge that Riddle wanted to unveil the prophecy to me, I decided to play right into his hand and listen to it. However, I wasn't going to do so without exacting some sort of loss on his forces."
Moody growled, "You messed up Potter, never fight a battle where you don't have the tactical advantage."
Harry laughed hollowly, "I guess you don't know nearly as much about me as you thought then Moody. I've been running head long into low odds my entire life."
Harry shook his head and exhaled deeply, "I managed to sneak in to the Department of Mysteries and listen in on Voldemort, gaining any additional intelligence I could before springing his trap. After listening in for a few minutes, he managed to manipulate our connection to verify that I was at least still in the ministry building. It was then that an opportunity presented itself to inflict some losses on Voldemort where it would hurt the most, his inner circle."
Molly softly protested, "Harry, you shouldn't have to."
Harry smiled wanly, "I agree, but then again no one should have to." Harry shared a long look with Hermione before continuing, "The Carrows and Jugson were once again sent out to look for me with the knowledge I was still inside the building. Keeping my cover I followed them until they were isolated, and I killed all three of them before they could hit me with a spell."
Moody looked more impressed now then disappointed, he had battled the Carrows back in the first war, and he could plainly attest to why the pair was known as the demon twins by those in the auror forces.
Dumbledore just looked tired, but there was no disapproval in his face, "What occurred next Harry?"
Harry shrugged, "I walked into the inner circle and listened to Riddle talk for awhile before he opened the prophecy orb. The fake prophecy gave him pause for a moment, and I managed to escape using the same method of travel that I had snuck around with."
Dumbledore remained silent for a long time before he softly said, "Thank you for sharing with us Harry." He glanced back to his right, "Evangeline, do you have anything to share?"
The next to speak was Kingsley Shacklebolt, "I can add a little detail to what happened at the ministry. The Minister, Madam Bones, and a few others managed to flee as the attack started, in an attempt to keep a functioning government without the taint of Voldemort. Rough estimates by the few clean aurors left I helped to evacuate put casualties at around 120, with several others choosing service over death. I believe the highest ranking ministry employee to die was Barty Crouch Sr., although he apparently took out three death eaters singlehandedly before he was pacified."
Dumbledore rubbed his brow, "Thank you Kingsley. Alastor?"
Moody grunted, "Well, Potter accomplished a lot more than anyone else today, but I did manage to place some tracking charms on some of the first ones in at the ministry, before my emergency portkey activated. Back to Potter, I'm feeling sight bit better about today, knowing I won't have to stare down the wand of the Carrows. You've done everyone a service lad."
Harry acknowledged Moody with an uncomfortable looking nod and Dumbledore cleared his throat, "You've place the appropriate charms on the tracking board, as per our custom Alastor?"
Moody merely grunted and Dumbledore continued down the line, few others had little details to offer, and none of them were of the good variety.
As he reached the end of the group Dumbledore nodded, "Very well, thank you all for providing what information we have managed to obtain. It shall make our next moves the most beneficial."
Harry spoke up, "What moves would those be Professor?"
Dumbledore simply replied, "That has yet to be determined Harry. Patience is our greatest ally at this point."
Harry was not to be dissuaded, "Patience is one of the primary reasons Riddle has taken the power he has. Patience has led to the deaths of thousands of good people, Dumbledore. Why don't we disrupt each of his carefully crafted little plans, by not being patient for once? Why don't we gather intelligence and make a move that will hurt him for once."
All at once, the quiet murmurs from earlier turned to outrage, mainly in shrieks of protest, or strangely enough several shouts of agreement, the latter was especially prevalent amongst the Weasley family.
Dumbledore raised his hand for quiet and slowly he was obeyed, "I understand your feelings Harry, but we needn't lose more of our number to violence, before we are ready."
Harry sighed heavily, "Professor, if we wait until Riddle is entrenched it will be too late to do anything but start over in a new country. If we can disrupt him now, simply by sabotaging whatever plans we can and then escape before they can figure out what happened; we then have the possibility of keeping him tied up until we can put together a real offensive. That offensive would have a real chance of success if we can keep him from preparing, for as long as possible. Politically, you need to fight that battle on a different battleground than the rest of us will."
Dumbledore was completely flabbergasted, not so much by Harry's word, but by the unyielding stare Harry kept directly on him as he spoke his words.
"What would you have me do Harry?"
Harry sighed, "The way I see it sir, you are going to be the most important part of this war for our side, at least until the very end. We need you to tell the world what has happened here, and I need personally need you to help me gather all of Riddle's objects."
Dumbledore glanced up to Fawkes, who was roosted on the top of his high backed chair, the phoenix trilled once, "We will need to reorganize the Order to accommodate the conditions you seek Harry."
Harry replied, "In all honesty sir, the kind of missions I have planned will be volunteer only, and not obligation to drive volunteers. The Order is perhaps the best information gathering force we have at our disposal, and while I might wish it otherwise all but those in the auror squads will be best used to that end."
Dumbledore nodded, "Any further suggestions, Harry? I dare say you have everyone's attention at this point."
Harry smiled slightly, "Tomorrow sir, we can discuss how to best accomplish both of our goals. For now, why don't we concern ourselves with what we can do right now?"
Dumbledore smiled tiredly, "Quite right Harry." Looking at the assembled members Dumbledore knew in his heart that many of those present would not be alive in a year's time.
"Alastor, I expect your level best discretion at gathering a team to determine the scope of the Dark Lord's operation. Observe any potential weaknesses you can, and plant as many of your special branch of listening charms. I would like an intelligence report in my hands in 48 hours time." Dumbledore ordered.
Moody grunted and nodded his agreement, a slightly manic gleam in his eyes, which only those that were close friends knew of its meaning.
The Order members all looked expectant at Dumbledore for his next words, "Harry, tomorrow we shall meet, and I expect you to have a list of tactics you will employ to accomplish a standard mission for your goals. If we go to war, you will need to understand some of the realities of which you may not be aware. Few here know this, but I was in a special magical forces division during the early stages of World War II. A group tasked with similar tasks as to which you allude. I expect tangible results, if I am to turn this responsibility over to you."
Harry bowed his head respectfully, he knew now that the next time he slept would only be after his meeting tomorrow.
Dumbledore stood and for once, he looked the part of the general preparing his troops for war, "The shadow war that we have fought for the past year against the Dark Lord and his forces is now over. If any of you present wish to leave the country, now is the time to tell me. I will release you from your oaths, because I can not in good conscience tell any of you one truth. This war that we now must undertake, may end in the deaths of every single one of us present. If that price is too high, please speak to me after I adjourn the meeting."
Scanning the group once more he finished, "If we must go to war, let it begin in earnest now. Our next meeting will be called through our standard measure of patronus message, Severus I expect you to devise a code to encrypt these messages with. I hereby adjourn this meeting, may god have mercy on us all."
Harry was the first out of the room, with Hermione close behind, the war to come would test all of them beyond their limits. Thus began the period of magical history, which would later be referred to as, The Blood War.
A/N: There it is folks, the end of OYE: OOTP. I can't really tell you anything about the next part of the series aside from the title.
Open Your Eyes: The Blood War
Question of the chapter:
If you had to pick one part of Deathly Hallows that was your favorite, what would it be?
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