If you recognize it, it's JKR's. If you don't, then it is probably mine.
Chapter 13: Part Three:
Things had been hectic for the Trio from the moment Dumbledore had escorted them into dinner. Hermione had muttered to her friends that they were going to have to 'step up their planning'. Since then, the three students had been shooting each other looks as they took their seats at the table. Hermione had wished fervently that she had already mastered the charms for the parchments and that they boys had become proficient in opening and deciphering their contents. Her mind was moving even more quickly than normal (which was something in and of itself), and her head was spinning with the plans that she and her friends must complete before they faced the Order on the morrow. Hermione felt in her bones that she was on the brink of something huge, and that she must move cautiously but quickly ahead in order to face the obstacles and opponents which may rise against her.
Harry made a gesture for her to hurry and eat. She smirked and pointed to Ron, who looked thoughtful, but was also staring at a chicken leg. Whether he was planning comments to make to the Order or was considering gravy, Hermione really couldn't say. Harry elbowed Ron in the ribs and muttered to his friend to 'hurry it up'. The three ate quickly and began to take their leave of the other people at the table.
"Ronnie, don't you want to have your pudding?" his mother asked, a bit stunned that her youngest son would even consider leaving the table so quickly.
Ron had already opened his mouth to reply to his mother, when Harry grabbed him by the arm (after a rather pointed look from Hermione) and began to drag him from the dining room. "We'd love some later, Mrs. Weasley. Perhaps you could put some away for us? We really must be off for a bit..." and with that Harry and Hermione thrust Ron from the room and into the hall.
"I always think a little better with pudding, I mean, shouldn't we just-"
"NO RON!" Hermione screeched out. "I mean, honestly, Professor Dumbledore is going to be meeting with us personally tomorrow before the Order gathering. We have so much to do to be ready. We're going to have to prove that we are just as capable as fully trained witches and wizards who have been fighting since before we were born, and all you can think about is your mother's pudding? Can we prioritize here, already?"
Ron's face had become rather red throughout this rant, and he had put on a rather sullen expression. "Fine! But when my stomach starts growling while we're working, and it begins to distract you, don't you think about yelling at me!"
Harry rolled his eyes at the pair. "Alright, alright. Let's get our stuff together and meet in my room in about five minutes?"
"I've got quite a bit of research material up in my room. It would be rather burdensome and conspicuous to bring that all down to yours. Can we gather in my room in five minutes instead?"
Ron and Harry nodded their agreement and the Trio split to collect their planning material.
The boys came in with the notes that they had made on the Marauders Map and set to work breaking down the sequence of charms to be used on the three parchments. Hermione lent them her copy of Bind Me to You by Bethany Briggs, a slim volume of binding charms to be used in different scenarios. Hermione cracked the book open to a chapter used to combine a series of charms, after Ron had erroneously been looking through charms that bound people together.
"Ron, we're trying to bind together strings of charms, not marry you to Harry. Perhaps Chapter Seven may be an interesting read, but you may not wish to read it-aloud-when pointing your wand at Harry," she said rather dryly. Harry dodged away from Ron's wand as Hermione turned to the appropriate pages for their research.
After that, things went rather smoothly for a while. Hermione had several stacks of books, scrolls and parchment before her, and was muttering while also writing down arithmetic equations on a slip of paper to her right.
After about an hour of the three experimenting with certain variants in their charms and terminology, the boys appeared to be ready to test a piece of parchment with the protective charms from the Map.
"Well, we'll need to key this piece to acknowledge us, and we need to have a phrase to begin and end all of our messages," Ron explained.
"It really is a shame that 'I solemnly swear I am up to no good' is off the table." Harry commented.
"For Order work, seriously?" Hermione asked.
"Well, it was rather catchy! And honestly, who but the twins would ever have thought to try to unlock an unknown parchment with that phrase? It was genius!"
Hermione rolled her eyes while Ron snickered. It really was only Fred and George who would ever have thought of such a thing. The Marauders may have been clever in designing the map, but they probably never would have tried to open a be-spelled parchment with that kind of phrase.
"I think the cleverness of the phrase was that it wasn't anything that would really identify the owner. If anyone caught us with these, we want to make sure that the charm to open them would be keyed with a phrase that no one would expect from us. So there will be no talk of Know-It-Alls, any term or phrase for the colour red, or being a Boy-Who-Did-Anything. "
"Hermione, sometimes you suck the fun out of everything," Ron complained.
"Well here is your chance to use your imagination and your brain, Ronald."
The three sat in silence for a few minutes as they contemplated what might be the best phrase to use for their charm.
"What about a phrase from song that we all know?"
"If we know it, someone else may know it. This needs to be something random."
The group lapsed back into silence for another few minutes. Suddenly, Harry's face flushed with the simplicity of an idea.
"What about creating a phrase what just has something completely random from all three of us in it?"
"What do you mean, Harry?"
"Like, even if someone saw us writing it down, or saying it, it's so common, every day, but yet so completely random? Like a phrase that says what...our favourite colours are, or our favourite desserts, or something."
"I think that you are on to something Harry! Ok, well, what do we all like...in our tea?"
"Why tea, Hermione?" asked Ron.
"If anyone ever saw it, that's just assume that we're relaying what we would like to have together that evening or something. It's so simple. This was a great idea, Harry!"
"I like my tea with a dash of milk and a bit of sugar," said Ron.
"I like my tea with lemon and a half spoonful of sugar," said Hermione.
"I like my tea with a bit of honey," said Harry.
"Should we summarize it, or say each in turn for the charm?" asked Ron.
"What seems more natural if we are overhead?" asked Hermione.
"What if we say 'I like my tea with a dash of milk and a bit of sugar or with lemon and a half spoonful of sugar or with a bit of honey?" said Ron, "that way, if overhead, it sounds like we are giving options, not like we are reciting different people's tea orders."
"That makes sense. Ok, I am writing this down, and we'll add this as the 'open' incantation when using the parchments. Now we need something similar to wipe them clear after use." Hermione said, as she took notes.
"Well, 'mischief managed' was kind of related to 'I solemnly swear I am up to no good'. Why don't we use a phrase that would make sense if it was heard after the first? But still very common place and completely unsuspicious?" Ron queried.
"Such as?" Harry asked.
"See you at tea time?" Hermione suggested.
Ron and Harry nodded their agreement. As Hermione took notes, Ron got that look on his face that suggested he was mulling over a problem. Hermione and Harry were familiar with this expression, as it was one he often used just before taking out their queens or bishops in chess. By mutual glances, they agreed to be silent while he thought it out.
"Snape said that we needed to have back up plans, didn't he?" Ron asked
"Professor Snape did say such a thing," Hermione chided.
Ron rolled his eyes. "Alright then Professor Snape may agree that if we were overheard, which often occurs at Hogwarts, using the same phrase over and over may look quite suspicious. I'm going to recommend we change the incantation maybe every month. That way, even if we are caught with the parchments, hopefully the phrase we were overheard with would be an older one, and wouldn't work."
Hermione smiled at Ron. "I like your plan. We'll agree to re-charm the parchments at the beginning of every month. If we notice certain nosy people poking around in our business more frequently, we'll change them more frequently, but always to very random statements. Agreed?" They all nodded in assent.
"Alright, let's turn to the charms for the messages. Here is what I have so far...we're going to have to test the wand movements and make sure they work out..."
Hermione began demonstrating the series of wand movements used to switch the ciphers back and forth to her friends. Through several trials, on several pieces of parchment, they eventually found a charm and wand movement that worked. Hermione's research and Arithmancy in the coding for the spell led her to using a charm where the wand movement to change the words on the page from cipher to alphabet is done by tracing the shape of the rune for the number of the rotation, with a swish and jab motion at the end. Hermione used arithmantic calculations to get this wand movement, which was a surprising result, since the previous charm was for rune to cipher. The spell work apparently wanted rune shapes to continue the translation between message sets, in order to be effective.
Harry, Hermione and Ron had to practice and experiment for an hour before they had the charm down on the test parchment. Now was the tricky part, where they would combine the charms together on a single parchment. The book had been adamant that there needed to be some sort of personal signature within the binding. Harry had thought the book meant that each member would have to supply some of their blood. Hermione was not so sure. The book was not at all Dark. She began to run through other options with her friends, from traces of magical signatures, to bits of hair (like in Polyjuice) and so on.
"It can't be pieces of ourselves, per say, because that would be more like potions, and this is for binding charms." Hermione began to mutter to herself under her breath, and started looking through her notes again. After a few minutes and a few more arithmantic equations, she had an idea.
"You want us to spit, on the parchments?"
"Yes, I do, Ronald! Ok, well not spit, but, perhaps, lick the page, just a bit."
Harry began to laugh as he saw Ron's face, which looked just a bit phased by this turn of events. Ron's mutterings of "lunatic" "weird magic" and "better work out brilliantly" could be overheard if one listened very carefully. Obviously, Ron had never used Muggle stamps before.
The charms were performed on three parchments, and Hermione added a Protean Charm to them to link each parchment as part of a set of three connected magical communicating devices. The end result was that Harry, Ron and Hermione found themselves with three average looking pieces of parchment that could be used to communicate with one another, each no larger than the span of a hand. The signal that was settled on for the Protean Charm was for the initials of the sender to appear on the parchment, which would warm the page when received.
Hermione began to look around for something gold within the room for further transfiguration. Harry produced a few galleons from his pocket. Hermione took three and spelled them into canisters for parchments. She then took three more galleons and transfigured them into necklace chains. The canisters were shrunk down to the size of a small charm that would be discreetly worn on a chain. When it was warm from a message received, they could find a place to open the canister in privacy.
Each of the friends practiced sending and receiving messages. Harry's grin was contagious. It had taken a few hours of research, experiments and practice, but they had mastered how they would secretly communicate throughout the upcoming year.
Ron's stomach began to rumble, and even Hermione agreed that they had earned a break. The Trio tucked their chains inside of their shirts, Hermione repeated the charms that she had used earlier that afternoon to hide their research, and they went down to the kitchen for a pudding
Now full of dessert to the point where even Ron couldn't complain of being hungry, and with a stimulating amount of caffeine to keep them alert as they continued, the three were soon back in Hermione's room, pouring over notes and texts. Ron and Harry were working on chronology for the presentation tomorrow, proving that even students can have an impact on the way the war had been waged. Ron's sense of strategy was pretty much the only thing overriding his normal state of tactlessness. The afternoon's revelation that the Trio could not win the vote by attacking the membership was having a dramatic effect on how they were approaching the presentation. Hermione had a shrewd suspicion that if they were ever allowed into the Order and fighting in the war, it may hinge on this particular insight. Ron was really not tactful or insightful in regards to human nature in any way, shape or form, but during the extremely rare moments when he managed to push aside his usual social ineptness, he could be rather perceptive.
Hermione had been fortunate that her parents had enough time that afternoon to do some research for her, and sent her several books regarding the history of spies and espionage, as well as some case studies of the great modern spies of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. She had cracked them open immediately and was taking notes with quill and parchment as the boys delved through their own notes.
It had been a busy forty-five minutes, when Harry realized that there might be something they were overlooking. He was very still for some time, as his friends continued working. Harry went over and over his school years and kept coming back to the same inevitable conclusions. He thought over discussions that had been had, events that had occurred, reactions that had shown by certain parties on many occasions, and realized that they would have to be addressed if he and his friends were going to proceed on the morrow with any success. He asked his friends to stop for a few minutes to discuss the matter over.
"We've been working this evening based on a few minutes of conversation with the Headmaster, and our own session out in the back yard earlier today, and with all the research that we've been doing, but I still feel that what we're saying is missing something."
"What do you mean? We're introducing ourselves, working through our pros and cons of membership, attempting to be tactful and appealing to the membership to see what we have done, and show how much more we could do if we we're fully in the confidence of the Order," Hermione responded.
"It's just...something the Headmaster said has been bothering me." Harry removed his glasses and rubbed at his eyes for a moment before he continued, "Do you remember how defensive he got when we were mentioning Snape?"
"Hard to forget, mate" Ron answered.
"Professor Snape! Do you two ever listen?" Hermione sighed. Sometimes it was like talking to a wall with these two. There was only so much repeating she could do without wanting to pull her own hair out.
"Exactly! Professor Snape has been a pretty contentious point with us for a long time," Harry said.
"Again, not exactly news, Harry. He's been a git since we got to school, and that is hardly going to change if we get into the Order." Ron did not seem to understand where Harry was going with this. Hermione was not exactly following, either.
"Ok, so the Headmaster was making a point that there is a lot below the surface that we don't know about going on within the Order. He is not going to divulge everything to us. And even if we were in the Order, he is not going to go and disclose every person's background, it's far too risky. And on the other hand, we've been in the public eye for so long, that most people are going to have preconceived notions about us-"
"Thanks to that cow, Skeeter-" Hermione huffed.
"-Back to the point here, Hermione. The thing is, how well do we really know anyone within the Order? How well do they know us? If we all believe each other's hype, we're going to think the worst, and not the best."
Hermione was on the precipice of a monumental moment with her boys. Could it be that Harry was willingly acknowledging something she had tried to drill into their heads for ages?
"Harry, I think I am about to pass out. Seriously pass out, in shock, if you are saying what I am thinking you are saying." Hermione's face was wan, as she looked at her friend in disbelief.
"Will someone bloody well explain to me what Harry is trying to say?" Ron asked rudely.
"We've only met a small amount of the Order, and we've met them under very controlled circumstances. Many of them are already in established positions, and they can't vary from those positions in the slightest, or their value would be lost." Harry answered.
Harry took a deep breath. "I cannot believe I am going to say this. I cannot believe it at all. And if it's true, than I am going to hate every minute of the last year at Hogwarts, simply because I will have to be privately in penance the whole time."
"For what? What do you have to feel so bad about?" Ron was not following at all. Apparently, one major insight a day was all they could count on.
"To start with, Snape is probably not such a bad guy."
"Are you mental?" Ron bellowed.
"Not at all, he's having a moment of maturity. You had your turn earlier – let Harry have his," Hermione admonished with a crooked grin. She tried for a moment, but couldn't resist. She gave Harry a huge hug. "I am so proud of you," she muttered into his ear.
"Excuse me, but haven't we universally agreed since our first day at Hogwarts that Professor Snape is the world's biggest bat? That he is an unfair git and that he loathes on instinct?" Ron asked, still dumbstruck that his best friend could say such rubbish about their mutually loathed enemy.
"Professor Dumbledore got me thinking earlier. He's said it before: that he trusts Professor Snape. We know Professor Snape was a Death Eater in his youth willingly, and that he turned spy. We know that later, the Headmaster asked him to resume his service so that we'd have someone on the inside after the Triwizard Cup. Do you remember our very first year? Hagrid told us that there were many who suspected that Voldemort wasn't gone for good, but biding his time, waiting to return to power, and so he did. All of the members of the Order are fulfilling certain functions, and those functions do not seem to have changed much. If the Professors always thought that Voldemort was going to return, does it seem reasonable to think that they wouldn't give themselves the best possible position to be in for that to occur?"
"Are you saying Professor Snape stayed at Hogwarts for over a decade in order to be in place for You-Know-Who's return?" Ron asked incredulously.
"It's not that farfetched. I think Harry is on the right track. Listen, as much as you may find Professor Snape's personality distasteful, you have to admit, he is brilliant. He could be making loads more money in the private sector developing his potions and conducting research. But if he left the school, he'd no longer be in place where You-Know-Who wanted him, where he had been useful during the first war. If You-Know-Who returned, and there was no spy at Hogwarts, he may be...extremely displeased with Professor Snape for leaving his post. He may lose all trust in him, and we would have lost our spy," Hermione expanded.
"Ok, ok, let's hold off for a moment while I process this. Snape—a good guy all along. I think I need a minute or two."
Hermione gave a sound of exasperation. "This is exactly the kind of rubbish that is going to stop us from getting into the Order. Ron, we don't have time for this childish attitude anymore. We're adults; we're trying to be full Order members. And there is no way we are going to get in if we enter that meeting tomorrow with opinions formed about the members that we do know, and formed to see them in the worst possible light."
Harry added quietly, "Imagine what they must think of us."
"That's absurd; all of my family know you, all of the Hogwarts crew, some of the Aurors..." Ron hastily said.
"There is sure to be many more people than we know. And if we were this hard on Professor Snape for years because of his outward attitude that is part of his role as a spy, and we were simply believing the gossip that was spread about him at school, think of what the Order members who don't know us at all must think, just from what they read in the Prophet. According to the media, I'm some sort of hormonal scarlet woman who jumps between 'famous' boys, while Harry is some mentally unstable glory-seeker, and Ron, you're a Weasley, with all of the press that your surname has come across in the past few years, including your Dad's Muggle-obsession and the charges against him for the flying car, and the legislation he has worked on, which has garnered quite a few enemies within the Ministry." Hermione was shaking her head at Ron, wishing he would move past his more immature beliefs.
"This brings me right back to my original point – we don't really know them, and they don't know us." Harry looked at the notes he and Ron had been making before this discussion. "We have certain known quantities, like the Weasleys, Hagrid, Tonks, and Remus and so on. We also have an even bigger number of unknowns. We have no idea how big the general membership may be, and we don't know if there are other members or sources who would never be able to reveal themselves at a meeting like this."
"So what do we do about the great unknowns then, mate?" Ron asked Harry, finally joining in the thought process.
"We're definitely going to have to talk to the Headmaster, because quite frankly, we may not know what we are getting into."
Snape decided this was probably the best time to leave them to it, undisturbed. He had been curious enough to know what his assistant was planning, and sneaky enough to take down enough of her privacy wards to use a Weasley Extendable Ear on the room, without the Trio noticing. There was enough spell-work to keep out the majority of the Order, but not Severus, and certainly not Dumbledore, if he intended to snoop.
Dumbledore himself had approached Snape after the meal, stating that the students would be planning for some time that evening, and that Snape would probably have to attend to his potions alone. With a rather twinkling expression, the Headmaster indicated to his resident Potion expert that perhaps he would be intrigued by the result.
Severus found himself less intrigued, and more flat-out stunned. For the Boy-Wonder to actually, voluntarily come to the conclusion that perhaps his professor was not quite as much of a blackguard as advertised was certainly enough to put most of the population in the Incurable Spell Damage Ward right alongside that fop Lockhart. It was if the axis of the planet had shifted and Snape was just going to have to get used to it.
And it wasn't like Potter's insights stopped there, he naturally made the jump that other Order members may not be exactly as they seem, and that they may not see the Trio in the best light, either.
Would wonders ever cease?
Snape headed down to the basement lab, shaking his head, and decided, just as a precaution, to take the antidotes for the most common poisons and hallucinogens. Snape was a man under tremendous pressure. You never knew, he could have gone mad, after all.
Harry, Ron and Hermione had stayed up planning for a good deal of the night and well into the following morning, and they had established a general outline of what content should be discussed during the meeting. Obviously, they would be announced as possible candidates, and be introduced to the Order. Harry, Hermione and Ron would have to give the members an idea of who they were as people, not who they were by reputation. The best way to do this would be to begin by outlining their work as a team over their time at Hogwarts, and how they had contributed to the war. They had decided to recount the order of events that had led to the present day. After this, they would discuss the pros to admission to the Order, and address the cons of the situation, and how to turn them to the Order's advantage. They would also lay out a plan of action for their future contributions (as outlined thus far); outside of duties that may be assigned by their fellows once admission was granted.
The Trio had been through their speaking points several times, and had come up with lists outlining strategy, based on what they felt students could do while in school, what needed to get done, and what fully fledged adults may not be able to do themselves. They had based their tactic on what they could do for the Order, but also realistically discussed what they would be doing if they were operating independently.
All they needed now was Dumbledore. After Harry's revelation last night, it was apparent that few people actually knew the Trio well. Even the most supportive Order members that they were acquainted with had seen them only in certain lights. They would have to strive to overcome misconceptions, and would have to work hard to avoid incorrect judgements of their own.
Dumbledore had Floo'd Severus the night prior, only to find his favourite Potion Master gulping back antidotes for hallucinogens and poisons. After chortling over Severus' discovery of Harry's startling realization, Dumbledore had a fair idea of the topics to be covered over tea.
He sat now with his students and a large pot of Earl Grey, listening to them discussing their strategies, making suggestions and pointing out where clarification would be needed. While it may be a lengthier approach, a recount of the efforts and struggles of the past six years would help give Order members an idea of who these teenagers were, as people, what they had endured and how they could assist in the war. The pros and cons list was a clever idea as well. It was always good to know your allies, and even to know their weaknesses. The fact that the three had already looked at how to turn the cons into pros emphasized that they had a good idea of how their membership may be treated, and that the wizards and witches of the Order should look to turn lemons to lemonade.
Dumbledore knew every active Order member, every informant and mole, every spy. He knew them as people, but also recognized their uses; like a grand chess master. This was his best way to help the Trio.
"There will be many at this meeting, many who have never come before. Some will have never met or even heard of each other, but they will most certainly have heard of you. This is both an advantage and a disadvantage. It's a basic human trait to judge those that we meet: the worthy and the unworthy. I promise you, each member present has earned my trust and has made a difference in our world by playing their part in this war. Your job is to not make assumptions about them or their roles, and show them exactly why they should not make assumptions about yours. You need to show maturity, strength and integrity. You need to prove to them without a doubt, that you are ready to take on the responsibility of membership, and that not only will you prove that you three are not liabilities, but that the advantage to us, and to our cause, is to have you stand with us, in the Order itself as assets."
"Last night, we were discussing unknown quantities. We had discussed that they don't know us, and we don't really know them. Outside of Ron's family, virtually every member of the Order that we have met, including you, sir, has been presented to us in very careful lights. Whether or not we see them through a function, like professor, Auror, Ministry official and so forth, or by their character is hard to say, because of the circumstances we have met in. So really, how do we prepare for that? How do we prepare to convince those who have absolutely no idea of who we are, beyond our hype?" Hermione asked the Headmaster.
"I strongly suggest you treat every person there as a virtual tabula rasa. You know that the general membership has little to no idea of who you are and what you have been through. Start from scratch. Introduce yourselves as if for the first time. Make no assumptions about anyone. Treat everyone fairly, equitably, and with respect. And make sure you give full descriptions of what you have been through, because even I don't know every detail. It can only help your case," Dumbledore explained.
Harry exchanged a quick look with his friends, before continuing the discussion, "While we will certainly take your information and suggestions to heart, there are other things we need to discuss with you."
"Such as?" Dumbledore queried.
"First, I want to say, for all three of us, that if for some reason, the Order does not vote in our favour, we have discussed and determined we will still do all we can, informally as well to assist them and you, sir. If they do not find in our favour, we are still going to keep our eyes and ears open at school, just as we always have. However, after our recent discussions, we have seen that our methods have not always worked in our favour. Running off without the full information or consulting with you has led to losses in the past. We don't want that to continue. In that vein, we have made some decision about how to proceed in our last year at the school, regardless of whether or not we are in the Order."
Hermione took over here. "We have developed a secret method of communication which should allow us to keep in touch, even when we have separate schedules. It should work better than our DA galleons, as well, since this method will allow us to pass more information amongst ourselves, more securely."
"This may be a very proactive way to show the Order your maturity, Miss Granger," Dumbledore stated.
"It's not for their knowledge, sir; this is private, between us now. You know, as well as we do that while the Order itself is trustworthy, that members are human and have their own fallibilities. We can't risk that, so this stays between us here, now."
With this reasoning given, the students proceeded to show the Headmaster their necklaces with the communication scrolls attached, along with how they worked. Dumbledore was delighted with their ingenuity.
"This is an excellent method of communication, and I think perhaps your caution is warranted."
"Since you approve, I have another suggestion," Harry added, before continuing, "It seems that in the past, when we were the most in need, we simply could not get backup urgently. What we should do is make a second charm, keyed to the four of us, only to be used when a true emergency occurs."
Dumbledore had a quiet moment of thought, his face becoming serious and sad all at once. "You can't know how I felt, those times when you were in need, and I came back, only to find you injured or suffering…when I was too late, and the damage was done. That helplessness and anguish has been repeated many times, not only with the three of you, but for every member of the Order under my care, and for my students who have been put in Tom's path."
Hermione, Ron and Harry looked at each other in turn. They knew what that feeling was like too, to see family and friends suffer in this war, and to feel helpless, without any way of contributing to make the war itself end and the suffering cease. They were left out because they were teenagers, and yet were still pulled into Voldemort's path again and again.
Dumbledore knew what they exchange of looks meant. He explained simply, "This has been a major factor toward why I am nominating you for membership now. I simply believe that leaving you out will do much more harm than good, and believe the three of you can make a difference. Now your job it to prove this to everyone else."
The quartet finished their tea and went through the speaking points for the meeting again. Hermione finished transfiguring a few more galleons, supplied by Dumbledore, into four more parchments disguised as Gryffindor lion necklace charms (which could be opened to reveal the charmed text). They had discussed what would be the most appropriate way to send for help, when Hermione suddenly caught on to the old Marconi code.
"Did you know, that until quite recently, the Morse and signal code for distress was designated SOS?" she asked.
"I remember that. They used it when the Titanic sunk, didn't they?" Harry responded.
"They did, alternating with another Marconi, CQD."
"Dad's rather fond of Muggle communication methods; he said that SOS was short for 'Save our Souls', or something?" Ron added.
"Not quite, Mister Weasley. Save our Souls, or Save our Ship were considered backronyms, they were used commonly after the SOS code was established to make it easier to remember. The SOS was commonly used, especially after the Titanic."
"My point was that SOS was a standard call for help, which means while we could remember it, so could other people. The reference for the Titanic incident may help you to remember the code I think we should use, which is the less common CQD. A backronym for you, Ron, would be 'Come, Quick, Danger' which I think, proves exactly why we should use it under duress," Hermione outlined.
"What will we use to clear the parchment?" Harry asked.
Hermione thought a moment. "How about, 'Safe and Sound'?" she suggested.
Dumbledore smiled at the imagery. "I like your optimism, Miss Granger."
Together, they made the adjustments to the pendants, and the Trio added the charms to their necklaces, while Dumbledore himself placed the lion on a long necklace, which rested just above his heart.
"Sentimentally, I'd like to think I would feel it, if the three of you were in dire straits again, but now I would, most surely." The Headmaster beamed at them each in turn, the sparkle having returned to his eye.
Hermione leaned over each person in turn, and cast a Notice-Me-Not Charm on each necklace. "I'm told that discretion is the better part of valour," she said with a smile.
Ron cleared his throat, which brought the group's focus to him, and incidentally, his bright red ears. Harry and Hermione grinned at him, just a bit.
"Well, to get back on topic, the last thing that we discussed, aside from our communication, was how else we may help if the Order doesn't let us in. The three of us will definitely continue with training the DA. If the Order lets us in, we may turn over the main portion of planning to Ginny, if not, we'll maintain our places with both the research of spells, planning of subject matter and training of the students."
"I think that is a fine idea," the Headmaster stated.
"Well, since you are on our side with the DA, and it is named for you, why don't you have a look at this outline, sir?" Hermione asked, pushing a scroll toward the professor.
"As you can see, we have made sure that commonly used DADA spells are on the list. Some of these are not taught until later years, and some are not taught at all. We got some suggestions from Remus and Tonks on content that may give students an edge, if they were attacked. If we can collude with the Order, we'll ask all the Aurors and any DADA specialists to give us suggestions of the best protective measures we can teach to the students, and what they can use to escape harm's way as best as possible. On top of that, we're also aiming to give the DA members some spells to have on hand to duel Death Eaters if they have no other option. Not everyone has been as lucky as Harry with a simple Expelliarmus, and they're going to need more than that," Hermione explained, thoroughly and seriously.
"Perhaps that is something you can ask Severus about. He knows the other side quite well, and many of the spells that they favour. He may be able to teach you the counter-curses," Dumbledore suggested.
Hermione sighed. "I don't want him to think that we are encouraging the students to duel Death Eaters. We're not encouraging that at all. What we are saying, is that if you are confronted, and you cannot escape, you should have a solid magical base to fight them."
"I'm sure Severus would take that into account."
Harry gave Dumbledore a hard look. "I don't know if he would, sir. We're a bit notorious at misunderstanding each other's intent."
Dumbledore actually snorted a laugh at that remark. "Perhaps open with your intention, and then ask for his advice. And perhaps point out, that for once, you are asking for his advice. That may give him a moment's pause."
Ron decided to go back to the main topic. "Further, we're going to be keeping our eyes and ears out to look for student informants and sympathizers as well as children of the same. It was…brought to our attention that they may have even more information than active Death Eater's or their children. We need to make sure we're listening to gossip for information about what is going on in those households, their missions and so on. And we need to start showing them that there is another path open to them."
"How exactly do you intend to do that?" the Headmaster questioned the Trio.
"Well, we're going to be using Harry's birthday present to get better acquainted with the Slytherin psyche, and see if that helps us relate better to that house, as well as possibly undermine any recruiting tactics they may be using on the other houses," Ron explained, a bit cheekily.
"We're also going to have to interact more with the other houses. We have two options: either open up DA membership more, or look at getting the current members to attend and try to solicit others to join the official school Duelling Club," Harry added.
"This is where your feedback as an administrator and an Order member is useful, sir. There are obviously pros and cons to either choice. But what it comes down to is that we could show to some students that we are trying to be inclusive by opening up the DA and offering to train all houses; but at the cost of perhaps allowing untrustworthy students access to what we are teaching, that may get back to Voldemort; or we can ask all proven trustworthy DA members to attend a secret session once or twice a week; and also openly attend and recruit other students to go to the Duelling Club. This has the advantage of getting more houses to potentially join in; while not tipping our full hand to Voldemort," Harry outlined each point succinctly.
Dumbledore thought to himself for a few minutes, and then replied, "I think that publicly you should attend the Duelling Club. It meets every other week, if I recall. I would suggest you have the DA members all attend, and in secret have those you trust also meet once a week for training; make sure you find yourselves a secure location. You'd be practicing more often than your DADA classes alone, you'd be interacting with more of the student body, and you would be more rigorously training those you know can be trusted with your secrets, all of which are bonuses. If you find more students who could be trusted in the DA, consult with myself, or Professors Snape or McGonagall and we'll discuss whether or not you should trust them with how you are training the students who may well end up before Tom and his followers in the future."
"We had agreed on that, but wanted your take before we continued, sir," Hermione said quietly. The Trio had indeed spent a good part of the night discussing the DA and the best manner to plan the defence of the students, if ever they needed it.
Dumbledore rose from his seat. "As interesting and productive as this has been, I think we will have to shelve other matters for later. The afternoon grows late, and the meeting will be held tonight."
The Trio began taking their leave from the professor. As he turned to the door, he added a comment over his shoulder, "Tonight's session marks a rare occasion for the Order. They rarely, if ever, gather in full. The location has been randomly selected and will be highly warded as well as Secret Kept until business is concluded. You three will be brought there before the wards are raised, while blindfolded. Don't misplace the faith we are putting in you."
He left them there to ponder his words and get their work together.
Hermione felt even more nauseous travelling by Portkey than she normally would, but that was to be expected when you travel in such a disorienting way, and you couldn't see a thing. She took sharp, deep breaths and clutched her carefully prepared notes all the tighter as she was whisked out of existence in one place in order to make a rather graceless landing in another. She heard two other bodies making contact with the earth: Harry and Ron, no doubt, followed by their accompanying grunts.
"Boys?" she called out tentatively, as she regained her footing.
"We're here, Mione," Ron answered, as he and Harry also got up from the floor.
"All three of you troublemakers have arrived safely, and you'll stay put until you are called into the meeting, and your blindfolds removed," a familiar sneering voice drawled.
"Great," Harry muttered to himself.
"So we're just going to stand here like statues, blindfolded…for some unknown length of time?" Ron inquired.
"Until someone comes to bring you before the assembly," Snape clarified.
Hermione shifted awkwardly, worried about losing her footing without her vision. One can't expect to feel too comfortable when magically blinded.
"Professor Snape, could you please sit us down somewhere? It may be some time before the wards are up and all the Order is gathered together."
A sigh. "I suppose."
The Trio were lead to what felt like a bench. Well, at least they were together, and their arms and legs weren't bound, just their faces with that bloody magical blindfold. Hermione tried to remain positive, and she decided to pass the time by mentally running through their speaking points. She heard Snape leave the room, and turned to what she thought was either Ron or Harry sitting beside her.
"Spend this time thinking about our topics. It's not just the wording; it's how we say all of it. The more confident we sound, and the more collected, the better it will go for us."
Behind his blindfold, Ron rolled his eyes. "You're going to make yourself even more nervous than you already are by going through it again and again. Let's spend a few moments thinking of pleasant things, it will relax us. I can't go through our plan over and over…it's like studying for the bloody OWLS all over again with you trying to ram more and more information into us and just getting us even more confused."
"Well Ronald, if you had a thorough grasp of the concept during OWLS there would have been no need for last minute lecturing and repetition now would there? In fact-"
"Ok, that's enough you two. Let's get back to the 'think happy thoughts' strategy." Harry suggested.
"Such as?" Hermione asked, archly.
"Hmmm...Did you have a good look at the book that the Hogwarts staff made for my birthday? Professor Dumbledore gave it to me, and he said all the teachers helped. It's amazing! It's full of history about the Potter family, and loaded with old pictures and newspaper articles and even things like journals and papers written by my family members."
"It was a wonderful gift, Harry. I had a quick look at our sleepover when you were showing it around," Hermione said, smiling.
"I've heard little bits and pieces of information about my parents on and off since I started at Hogwarts, but my birthday was the first time that people really talked freely about them, and this was the first day of my whole life where anyone mentioned my grandparents and great-grandparents and relatives. It was the best day I ever had," Harry said simply, beaming at his friends (although they couldn't see it at all).
They were all thinking fondly of Harry's birthday when their names were called, and McGonagall came to lead them into the meeting.
Everyone was here. Anyone she had ever considered to be an Order member, or who had shown sympathy to the Order or Dumbledore, was inside the meeting hall. Dumbledore had recruited as ruthlessly as he could, turning sympathizers to fighters or informants. It was clear that anyone who was fighting the good fight was located here in this meeting.
"Let me start by thanking you all so much for being here. I know that for many of you, this is the first time that you have come at my call. Things are going to be different from here on in. Tom has begun waging war in new ways over the spring and summer, and I have had to reach out and ask as many of you as possible to take a more active, and sometimes more physical role that you had originally intended. The time is drawing near when all of us must be out fighting: shoulder to shoulder, and wand to wand. I want each of you to carefully look around at our number, and mark each other's faces, because there will be a time soon, when you will need to know friend from foe."
"You've brought some serious trouble down on our heads by inviting everyone into one place! What if there are informants? Spies? Traitors?" Moody asked this with a vindictive glare in Severus' direction.
"We are not meeting at our usual place, and that is to try to keep our last bastion of safety, safe and secret. But also, when every one of you agreed to come today, you entered into a binding magical agreement to not reveal the time, date or location of our meeting, and you have been bound in a way that will not allow you to reveal what goes on here, or who you saw, whether by choice or by force. I trust you all, but I have taken no chances today." Dumbledore radiated power in that moment, and every person in the room realized that the proceedings would be safe from divulgence.
"The general Order has many subjects to address tonight, but before I reveal any more of our workings, I put forth three new candidates for entry: Harry Potter, Ronald Weasley, and Hermione Granger." Dumbledore's words brought down a maelstrom of comments.
"Completely ridiculous to involve untrained witches and wizards!"
"Absolutely not! No son of mine is even going to think about joining, especially before he is of age!"
"I know he's Harry Bloody Potter, but let's get serious..."
"ENOUGH!" Dumbledore's voice stopped all commentary immediately. "I have put forth their names for candidacy. Harry, as some of you may know, is my ward. He and Hermione are both of legal age. Ron has always operated with them. All three have proven their mettle before, and I would ask the general membership to let them put forth their case, before making a decision. After they have spoken their piece, you will all have a vote in the matter. I understand some of your hesitation, they are still students, and cannot be considered for membership in the normal way most of our inductees were chosen. But this is war, and we may very well need these three. So please, let them speak, and you can ask your questions when they are done."
Pure silence followed the Headmaster's remarks. It was clear that some, like Molly, had to visibly restrain themselves from continuing, but the Headmaster's steely gaze silenced them quickly. Harry rose from his seat, which had been located in the shadows. Hermione stood up beside him, and gave his hand a quick squeeze. She then took Ron's hand with her other, and the three stepped as one toward the head of the Order of the Phoenix. He gave them a little smile of encouragement before he gestured toward their audience.
"They're all ears." His eyes had resumed their twinkle. Hermione was encouraged by that, if nothing else. Ron gulped, and tried to look anywhere but at his furious mother. Harry's palms were clammy. He had never been so nervous in his life, and that included the Triwizard Tournament.
"First of all, we'd like to introduce ourselves. I'm Harry and this is Ron and Hermione. We thought at length, about how best to proceed and talk to all of you in a way that shows that we're ready to join the Order, that we are prepared to fight in this war, and that for some time, we have already been involved. We know very few of you, and while you may have heard of one or all three of us, what is usually said in the papers or through gossip is grossly inaccurate, and we'd like to give you a chance to get to know us."
Harry seemed to take a quick, steadying breath, and then stood a little taller as he continued, "We thought the best way to start this, was to recap through what we have done so far in the war against Voldemort," Harry said, although some gasps were heard here, "so that you could know that we are not simply babes in the woods. We've fought already many times, often hand to hand or wand to wand, and we're asking to be treated like any other fighters. We would like to offer our service, such as it is, and receive the same amount of support, and have the same access to resources and our colleagues when necessary. Ron is going to start with a brief overview of our last six years." Harry turned around, and clamped his hand on Ron's shoulder in a gesture of support. "Go ahead, mate."
Ron cleared his throat nervously, and as Hermione had suggested, he focused on a friendly face in the crowd: Remus Lupin. He took a steadying breath, and began outlining the Trio's history...
"Harry, Hermione and I met originally on the train to Hogwarts, but we really solidified our friendship by fighting a troll that got into Hogwarts in the fall of our first year. We hadn't hit it off so well originally. Ron and I found out that there was a troll on the loose, and we went after Hermione, who was on her own. This was really the first time that we stood together as a single unit and fought to overcome an obstacle; in this case, a fully adult mountain troll. Back then, Harry and Hermione didn't really know much about Dark Wizards at all, let alone the none-too-recent war with You-Know-Who."
Hermione gave a small scowl at this last bit. Of course she knew, she read all about it! Ron caught her eye, and interpreted her look. "Ok, well Hermione may have had some background reading on the subject…but the two of them hadn't really lived with the same experiences as the rest of us; they didn't know when they came to Hogwarts that there were those who turned to the Dark, and who made it their missions to use that kind of magic against others in order to gain power."
"Back then, we were just kids, following clues when we started to realize that there were some strange things happening in the Wizarding world, and especially at Hogwarts. At first, it seemed almost like a game. We could follow clues, see what was really going on within the school… and yet as that first year passed it became more and more obvious that something sinister was going on. We first ran into Fluffy, that was Hagrid's Cerberus, trying to avoid Filch...um, anyway, Hermione realized then, that the dog was guarding something. Harry put together that if something wasn't safe at Gringott's it surely would be at Hogwarts, and we knew then for certain, that something was not right at the school. The staff started acting suspiciously, which of course, made us more suspicious ourselves. Harry eventually found the Mirror of Erised on the school grounds, Hermione found a reference to Nicholas Flammel, and after that horrid detention in the Forbidden Forest where Harry came across some thing drinking the blood of a slain unicorn, we knew something evil was coming to Hogwarts for the Philosopher's Stone."
Gasps followed Ron's statement. While at the end of first year, the student body was aware of what had happened, many who did not have children at the time in school had no idea of what had been going on at Hogwarts. Everyone knew about the legendary Philosopher's Stones...but to think there had been one at the school...
"We found out exactly which day the Stone was going to be stolen, and we had no choice but to go after it. The teachers did not believe us, and Professor Dumbledore was gone from the school. We went on our own. We had figured out enough to get past the Cerberus, through the Devil's Snare and the key room, across the chessboard and to the purple flames and the logic-puzzle, as a team. There was a cost, and there were sacrifices to be made. I was injured, and there was only enough potion for one, Hermione was forced to leave Harry's side, so she immediately went back to get help,...and so Harry went to meet You-Know-Who for the first time, in front of the Mirror of Erised, alone. His blood protected him. The Philosopher's Stone was destroyed. You-Know-Who fled the school, still non-corporal. We were eleven years old."
Ron paused again, and looked from Lupin over to Harry, who gave him a tight smile. He collected his thoughts and continued, "The following summer, just before the term began, the three of us were in Diagon Alley with my family, when Lucius Malfoy planted a cursed diary amongst my sister Ginny's things. Through it, You-Know-Who possessed her, and had her open the Chamber of Secrets. When he wrote it, You-Know-Who was only sixteen, younger than Harry and Hermione are now. But he didn't stop at opening the Chamber, he used my sister to attack students, the way he had when he was at the school himself. Again, as a team, we gathered enough information to figure out what was going on, and again, when forced to take action, we got hurt along the way. Hermione was petrified, along with other students, by the giant basilisk that lived in the Chamber, and crawled through the pipes in the school to attack. I was hexed down in the Chamber, and Ginny nearly died from the possession by the book. Harry was attacked by a sixteen year old Tom Riddle, and was bitten by the basilisk."
"Why aren't you dead, boy?" Moody grunted at Harry.
"Fawkes, Professor Dumbledore's phoenix, came to me, and his tears saved my life. I used the basilisk's fang on the diary, and the corporeal Tom Riddle vanished, freeing Ginny from his enchantment," Harry explained.
"You're lucky to be alive," Mrs. Figg gasped. She clearly had little idea what Harry was up to when away from Privet Drive and her watchful cats.
"Professor McGonagall tells me that a lot," Harry admitted, smiling at his Head of House.
"Sheer dumb luck!" Ron and Hermione said together.
Snape and some of the other dissenters seemed put-off by that remark, but a few others amongst the company seemed to relax by the little joke. Kingsley, Hagrid, Tonks, and a few of the Weasleys looked less apprehensive for sure, and they were amongst the Order members who, while friendly with the Trio, were amongst the most concerned.
Ron cleared his throat a little, signalling a return to the topic of what the Trio had been up to for the past few years. "Well, erm, as Harry explained, You-Know-Who's plans were foiled again, and his return was delayed, again. We went home for the summer, and felt relatively normal for a few weeks, until Harry was informed that Sirius Black was after him."
"Sirius Black! I read about him in The Prophet! Merlin's beard!" The comment came from the back of the room, from a face unfamiliar to Hermione.
Harry's face was like stone, and his voice was filled will a cold fury as he spat out, "Whatever you have heard about Sirius in the past was a pack of lies, designed by Voldemort and his accomplices. He was framed. He was never after me, and he certainly was not involved in my parents' murder. He was a good man, and my godfather. And if I ever hear a word against him, I'll draw wands with whoever was stupid enough to mention him within my hearing."
Harry actually stared down the room, broking no room for argument on this matter. Clearly enough had been said on this topic. Hermione took his hand and then looked over a Ron, signalling him to get back to his story.
"All along, the real threat was from another source: a mole hidden at Hogwarts, a Death Eater who had faked his own death and was now positioned to strike out whenever his master regained power. And we trusted him...it was the wizard, Peter Pettigrew, who disguised himself in his Animagus rat-form. All along, we had thought he was just a pet, passed down through my family, but he wasn't...he was a traitor."
"It was true to say that during the year there was heightened security at the castle. Sirius told us much later, that he had recognized Peter as a rat in a newspaper clipping, and had spent a good portion of that year trying to get to Hogwarts to eliminate him as a threat. Peter had hidden amongst my family as a pet for years, and was literally sleeping in the same room as Harry and I since we arrived at Hogwarts. He was perfectly poised to strike out if even a whisper was heard of You-Know-Who's return. Near the end of the year, we went to visit Hagrid, when his Hippogriff was set to be executed. We ended up in the Forbidden Forest, trying to hide from the Ministry employees that were sent, including Fudge, as there was a strict curfew being enforced. That was when Sirius, disguised also in Animagus form, found us. And we, unsuspectingly, still had no idea of what Peter was. Sirius attacked me, as a dog, to get to the rat. We didn't know...couldn't have known...not until later, after my leg had been broken, and I had been dragged into the Shrieking Shack."
"What we were not aware of at the time was that Remus Lupin was on his way to rescue us, still expecting that Sirius Black was a traitorous murder, and was trying to eliminate Harry. Harry and Hermione came after me in the Shack, and Sirius changed back to his natural form. He explained how he was not truly responsible for anyone's death. He explained everything, and we believed him, and were about to get proof, but unfortunately, we got side-tracked..."
"I'll say," Snape muttered, "You ungrateful wretches hexed me!" McGonagall had the gall to grin at him.
Ron, unhearing, continued, "While we were with Sirius and Professor Lupin, the truth came out that Sirius was no killer, that he had wrongly been imprisoned, and that Peter, called Wormtail, was responsible for the Potters' deaths, as he had sold them out to You-Know-Who. Pettigrew was a killer, but he had been posing as a pet for years in order to hide from both sides."
"Let us not forget, Mister Weasley, that if you had stayed in the school where you belonged, you would not have been endangered by a werewolf!" Snape's scowl was firmly in place, as he rubbed his elbow where a scar from that night still lingered.
"That's not true, sir. That year the caste's security was breached a few times. If we had stayed in the school that night, Sirius would have been captured. As he was framed for murder, his soul would have been sucked out by Dementors. Let's also not forget that Wormtail wouldn't have been exposed, and would have been poised in Hogwarts when his mater retuned!" Hermione retorted for her friends.
"We did work together again that night, and put almost everything to rights," Harry added in helpfully.
"After you had hexed me," Snape said again, louder this time.
"Sorry, Professor," the three muttered together. Snape continued to sulk. This walk down memory lane was not really helping his disposition.
Harry picked up the telling here, "After Ron was admitted to the Hospital Wing, Hermione and I used her time-turner to go back, and do the last few hours again. We saved Buckbeak – the Hippogriff – and Sirius from certain persecution and death."
"Miss Granger! That time-turner was meant for school work!" McGonagall was livid, well, nearly as livid as Severus, who was just now figuring out how he was cheated out of his Order of Merlin.
Dumbledore cleared his throat, "Maybe we can focus less on the means, and more on the ends, my dear Minerva?"
Lupin spoke up, although still in his mild tone, "Wormtail still escaped, and he returned to Voldemort, and helped him recreate his body."
Silence met this revelation. There were few who would speak up now, as everything that the Trio was saying were complete revelations to them. The general public never knew what Harry and his friends had been up to in school, and few amongst the known, fully-active Order members knew of events leading up to Voldemort's return.
"Things may have been different then, if we had the opportunities we have now. We tried to get help, but Professor Snape would not listen and Professor Dumbledore was dealing with the Ministry. We had to take matters into our own hands again. If we had had backup, we may have been able to signal for help once we got to the Hospital Wing. Things could have turned out differently. We did the best that we could at that time, with the resources that we had at hand." Ron had said this very simply, but his meaning was clear. It seems that he did actually have the ability to reason with a cool, calculating head at times.
Professor Snape was pissed. He came after those brats, and what thanks did he get? He got a triple-stunner! And a scar!
Hermione caught his look of exasperation. "I'm sorry that we stunned you, but you weren't listening to us. We knew that Sirius was innocent, and we knew that Lupin hadn't helped him, but you didn't want to hear any of us out! You would have handed a man over to his death, wrongfully. I think taking a stunner was really the lesser of those two evils, sir."
Snape gnashed his teeth together. Why didn't anyone else in the Order have to deal with these mutinous students?
"Continuing on to year four: the year of the Triwizard Tournament. The year when yet another Death Eater, this one disguised as Auror Moody, infiltrated the school, bent on kidnapping Harry for a blood ritual designed to return You-Know-Who to his body. Harry was tricked into the Tournament, and Hermione and I did our best to help him through it." Ron caught Harry's eye then. "Ok, ok, so I was jealous at first, but I got over it! We helped!"
"To be fair, the traitor did help you with the Tournament as well, Harry."
"Hermione, he was only giving hints because he wanted to kidnap me!"
"I'm just saying! He did give you that one hint to play to your strengths! And you pretty much won the task with the dragons..."
"OK! Noted! He was a helpful psychopath!"
Hermione sighed. This little spat probably wasn't helping to prove that they were mature enough to join the Order. "Let's just move along, shall we?" she suggested, "Harry led the Tournament through the first task, which was to get past a Chinese Fireball, and tied for first with the second task, which was to go into the Hogwarts Lake and retrieve a hostage from the Merpeople. Even though he was the youngest contender, he was leading by the final task."
Harry picked up this thread of the discussion, as it had been he who had gone through this part of the Tournament alone. "When the champions were sent into the maze during the last Task, I overcame several magical creatures and traps. But at one point, I heard Fleur Delacour scream, I saw that Victor Krum had been Imperiused, and then finally, I met up with Cedric near the Cup. We fought through part of the maze together, and when we got to the end, to the Cup, we chose to take it together, as a shared victory for Hogwarts." Harry's voice was thick with emotion at this point, remembering how he and Cedric were poised to make Hogwarts history, and how it had gone wrong so quickly.
He caught Mister Diggory's eye in the meeting hall. "I told him to take it with me. I'm so sorry. I had no idea that it was a Portkey..."
Tears marked Diggory Senior's face, but he nodded his understanding. "He wanted to win, just as you did. Don't blame yourself." Absolution from a grieving father didn't really ease his guilt. Harry took a few breaths before he started to talk again.
"It took us to a graveyard. Wormtail was there, with this...thing. This thing that was Voldemort. Wormtail killed Cedric, on Voldemort's orders. He bound me... and he began the ritual."
"Cedric was murdered immediately, and then Voldemort returned and called his Death Eaters to him. And my blood, it was useless against him now."
Tonks interrupted him, "You said that once before, that your blood had power. What did you mean?"
"My mother sacrificed herself to save me. When Voldemort killed her, and turned his wand on me, her protection marked me. It destroyed what he was then, in body. At Hogwarts, before the Mirror of Erised, he couldn't physically touch me without causing unbearable pain to himself. It was what killed his host, Professor Quirrell, in my first year. When Wormtail took my blood by force and used it in the ritual, it nullified my mother's protection, because now that blood runs through Voldemort as well."
There were a few more gasps here.
"That's disgusting, mate," George added. Or, it could have been Fred.
"I know." Harry made a face as well. "After the Death Eaters arrived, Voldemort and I duelled. It was the strangest, mort terrifying fight I have ever been in. Our wands connected, and Priori Incantatem occurred. The visions of his victims surrounded Voldemort, giving me enough time to make a run for it. I grabbed Cedric and the Portkey, and we travelled back to Hogwarts. I told Dumbledore that he was back...but was drawn away by Professor Moody. Or who I thought was Moody. When we talked about what happened in the graveyard, the professor started behaving oddly. It was then that Professors Dumbledore, Snape and McGonagall arrived, and we found out that it was Barty Crouch Junior who was the infiltrator at Hogwarts. Before we could prove his story, a Dementor kissed him. Fudge wouldn't listen to a word we said..."
He motioned for Hermione to take over the story now.
"That summer, the Order of the Phoenix was reformed, and the Ministry began its cover-up operation, under Fudge's influence. You all saw The Prophet that year: it was basically a smear campaign against Harry and Professor Dumbledore. Things got even worse when Harry was attacked over the summer, by two Dementors. He fought them off and saved his cousin, but not before he was forced to use magic while underage, in public."
"Minister Fudge saw fit to set up a full criminal trial on this matter, and while Harry was cleared, the Minister also saw fit to make a few changes. Professor Dumbledore was asked to step down off of the Wizengamot, Dolores Umbridge was put into position at Hogwarts, and the new Educational Decrees began. If you or your children were not at Hogwarts, allow me to tell you, it was a nightmare. Instead of just worrying about Voldemort returning to power, we had to worry about a power-hungry Ministerial zealot within Hogwarts itself. If you are not acquainted with Madam Umbridge, allow me to tell you that aside from You-Know-Who, she has been the biggest threat to the school and the students themselves; she did not find it at all troublesome to physically torture students or use Unforgivables."
She paused, as gasps were heard again throughout the assembly. Well let them chew on that. Hogwarts was not a haven, and it hadn't been a walk in the park for the Trio that year. "Clearly, we were not going to take her brand of tyranny, along with her useless teaching methods, lying down. So Harry, Ron and I formed a practical Defence against the Dark Arts Club, ironically named 'Dumbledore's Army'. We had members from three houses, much as we would have liked to include everyone, we couldn't be sure of whom would keep their mouth shut in Slytherin."
Hermione took a peak at Snape as she said this. She did feel guilty over excluding the Slytherins. But they were simply too risky to let into Dumbledore's Army. She gave Snape a long look, and he shrugged in response. She supposed that he understood her logic.
"All the time that we were setting up the Defence Club, and suffering under Umbridge, we weren't told anything about what the other side was doing. Last we knew, Sirius had told us that You-Know-Who liked to operate in stealth, in secret, especially since the one person he didn't want in the know, Dumbledore, already knew he was back. Discrediting the Headmaster wasn't enough. Eventually, due to circumstances beyond anyone's control Professor Dumbledore was forced to leave Hogwarts."
"I'd like to see the man or woman who could make him leave!" Mrs. Longbottom rang out.
"He did it for me," Harry said quietly. "Some Slytherin students had gotten a hold of the list of Defence Club members. The Ministry wanted me out of school, Umbridge wanted me out of school...but Professor Dumbledore would not leave me unprotected like that. Our club's name...it was Dumbledore's Army...so Dumbledore let the Ministry think that it was his organisation."
"And you let him? I thought you were a Gryffindor!" came a sarcastic remark from the membership.
"That point is not in dispute. I took my leave, and would not hear a word from Harry against it," Dumbledore said, catching the eye of the speaker and giving them a cold look.
"We didn't know what was going on with the Order, with the outside world. Professor Dumbledore had spent most of the year avoiding Harry, and our contact with Professor Lupin and with Sirius didn't really tell us what was going on, what plans were unfolding..." Hermione said.
"Not even when my dad got bit by that bloody great snake of You-Know-Who!" Ron interjected angrily.
"Of course we didn't tell you what was going on, you were only fifteen!" Mrs. Weasley cried.
"Fat lot of help it did, since we still ended up getting caught in You-Know-Who's plans, eh Mum?" Ron actually had the cheek to throw back.
"Now you listen to me, Ronald Weasley, if you think—"
"Molly, that is enough for now. Ron, if you could finish with the events of that year? We're getting short on time, and need to proceed," McGonagall interrupted, knowing Molly was about to lose it during a meeting.
"You-Know-Who had been trying to get to Harry for months, trying to trick him. Eventually, he led us to believe that he had caught Sirius, and was holding him within the Department of Mysteries."
"Why on earth would he want Harry to come to the Ministry?" Arabella Figg asked.
"We didn't know then. We were still in the dark. Voldemort had learned that the person I cherished most, who I would do anything to rescue, was Sirius, and he lured me there. We left the school, after tricking Umbridge and her goon squad...and we took Thestrals to the Ministry of Magic."
"You three went alone?" Mister Diggory asked.
"We didn't have access to Dumbledore's whereabouts. Hagrid was removed from his position. We tried to tell Snape what had happened-"
"-Professor Snape-" Hermione, Dumbledore and Molly Weasley all corrected, simultaneously.
"-But we couldn't tell if he understood our message, if he would send help to Sirius. So we three went, along with Neville Longbottom, Ginny Weasley and Luna Lovegood." Mrs. Longbottom looked pleased at this. Her grandson was living up to the family name at last!
"We got all the way to the Hall of Prophecy, where I had thought Sirius would be, but it was empty. We were alone...or so we thought. Then Death Eaters were all around us... Malfoy, the Lestranges, Doholov, Nott, Crabbe, Avery, Jugson, MacNair, Rookwood, and Mulciber...we duelled, but we were outnumbered, so we grabbed the prophecy and ran..."Harry explained, recalling the doubt that had risen in him at the empty room, and then the terror of black robed figures surrounding his friends.
"What prophecy?" the question could be heard around the room.
Harry looked at Dumbledore's white face and wide eyes. Then he glanced at Hermione, who nodded her head. Ron had expected that this question would come up, and they had planned the answer.
"Harry, I don't think-" Dumbledore began.
Harry cut his mentor off, "If the Death Eaters know, then why shouldn't the Order? It's not your choice anymore: they should know. If there is one thing I have learned these last few years, it's that keeping information from those who need it puts us all at risk!" Harry's face was cold as he turned away from the Headmaster, and looked at the group, and then began to recite:
'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...'
All hell broke loose when Harry had finished speaking. Dumbledore had given Harry a look of surprise –he had clearly been expecting that his ward would tell the Order the whole prophecy. Harry returned Dumbledore's stare, his green eyes locking on the bright blue, as he thought with as much force as possible, 'Now they know enough, not everything, because that is too dangerous, but enough.' Harry maintained the eye contact as reiterated his thoughts a few times, making sure that this master Legilimens had understood his meaning. Dumbledore was the one who broke off eye contact.
'Message received, then,' Harry thought to himself.
A few of the Order members were trying to calm down the larger group. It took a little while to restore order...to the Order. Go figure.
Dumbledore had raised his arms for silence, before he addressed the meeting, "I know you have questions. Some people think that prophecies and Divination are for the gullible or the foolish. Be that as it may, the Seer in question actually spoke the prophecy to me, and I assure you, it was, it IS real. Tom himself, made it REAL by acting on it. We knew, in advance, that he would set out to destroy 'those who had thrice defied him', which is why the Potters were in hiding, years ago. Tom has known all along that Harry would be born with some ability, some kind of power that may allow us to defeat him for good. And every time that they have faced off, a baby or a boy against a full grown, extremely powerful wizard, Harry has prevailed, and Tom has been foiled. It is for this reason that I nominated Harry for Order membership. He has shown that the prophecy is true, and that he may be our last, best hope for winning this war."
"If we accept this prophecy, and I am not yet saying that I am ready to do so," McGonagall cut in, "what does that have to do with Miss Granger or Mister Weasley joining the Order? From what I know of the two, while they are very capable students, they weren't born with the power to vanquish a dark wizard!"
Hermione was rather upset at her professor. McGonagall could be very overprotective when it came to her Gryffindors. "Professor McGonagall...I don't think you understood what we have been talking about for the last ten minutes."
McGonagall bristled at this, "Oh, I understand that you have been risking yourselves, getting into situations that-"
Harry cut her off before she could really get rolling, "What Hermione means, Professor, is that you don't seem to understand how we operate. Ron, Hermione and I have no secrets from each other. We're a working unit: Ron's strategy and ability to cope in stressful situations, Hermione's intelligence and ability to find the resources that we need, and my...gift, I guess you could say, which is what makes us lucky, that is what has kept us alive. It's been like that since we fought that troll in first year. I could never do what I have done without them. I need them." Harry's eyes were like emerald chips, cold and yet brightly green. His voice had a quality to it which was rarely heard, full of power, full of prophecy. His gaze was compelling to all who met the challenge in his eyes.
"Let's try to talk this through rationally," McGonagall implored, staring at Dumbledore, hoping he may say anything that would keep the students at Hogwarts.
"Yes, let's...and please, for the love of MERLIN, try to remember that we are talking about pitting teenagers against Death Eaters!" Moody spat, clearly not moved by the Trio's revelations.
"Thank you, Alastor! That is exactly why we have always had the rule about no students in the Order!" Molly agreed, nodding her head furiously; glad to see that someone was trying to keep Ron out!
"Mum, you know that we aren't kids anymore-"
"I know no such thing Ronald Weasley, and if you think your father and I are going to sit back and watch you–" Molly interjected, her face reddening to match the family hair.
"Molly, be reasonable, if there is a prophecy involved..." Violet added, trying to help calm the Weasley matriarch.
"Oh Divination has always been bunkum and every self-respecting wizard or witch knows it..."
"Well, Sybil hasn't always been the best example of the practice," McGonagall offered magnanimously.
"Minerva!" Dumbledore hissed, "You aren't helping!"
"Alright, let's try to voice what the major concerns are here;" Remus proposed rationally, "Of course, we all have concerns about Ron, Hermione, and Harry's safety. That is a given. There are some amongst us who believe that the best path for them and for the Order is to keep students from fighting in this war, at least until they are of age and have graduated."
A few "hear, hears" were heard in response to Remus' statement, along with a few nods of approval across the room.
"However, we also have some amongst us who have seen these three students in action; who have seen them think and fight their ways out of situations that would have left many of us captured or dead. We should give credit where credit is due, and acknowledge that they have already done quite a bit in this war. If it hadn't been for them, the Ministry may still be turning a blind eye to You-Know-Who's return, and slandering both the Headmaster and Harry, and undermining all of our efforts to keep the mass public informed of the danger that they are in, and taking steps to protect themselves."
"It's about bloody time we got some accolades for letting that kneazle out of the bag," Ron muttered to Hermione and Harry.
"And then we have the new information about the prophecy, and what it could mean in this war, and that needs to be considered as well."
"To be fair, Remus, the prophecy is pretty old news..." George joked, trying to lighten the mood.
"Alright, what we need to address here is what the main concerns and opinions are at this time, aside from what Remus has so succinctly summarized for us. A show of hands, if you need to speak, if you please?" Dumbledore asked, calmly. He motioned for Tonks to go ahead.
"I've seen the three of you fight, so I'm not concerned about that, especially as you'll be under orders same as the rest of us," she started, giving the Trio a quick wink in support. "What I do wonder, is how exactly you can help the Order when you are in school? I mean, it's not like you can feed us information from your highly-placed Ministry jobs, or give us tips of goings-on in Knockturn or Diagon Alley, and it's not even like you can go and help out at raids. So really, it's more of a situation of how can you help us?" Tonks' hair had turned an indigo colour as she spoke, and a faint blush was on her cheeks. She tripped as she moved to sit down, which gave the Trio a chance to look at each other and give Hermione the nod to address the question.
"Aside from any responsibilities that the Headmaster may assign us, there are other things going on at the school. We were fortunate to be at school in the past, as it gave us the chance to foil You-Know-Who's plans regarding the Philosopher's Stone, the Chamber of Secrets and the Triwizard Tournament. As you now know, two years ago, when Dolores Umbridge joined the Hogwarts staff...I can't call what she did teaching...well the point is, we did start an underground Defence group. And we are still involved in the DA. The three of us have done research on charms, spells, hexes, and we have taught other students these things. In spite of the fact that we were taught fourth year by an imposter, he did successfully teach us Auror Moody's approach of 'constant vigilance!' We've spent our free time training up as best as we could on our own, and have tried to pass those skills onto other students so that they can defend themselves and prepare to fight in this war when they have no other choice."
"I think that since we have tried to recap our time at Hogwarts as much as we can, it's the time to point out the pros and cons of this situation. First, we would be informed of what You-Know-Who was up to, instead of guessing. This means we don't have to patch together a last minute plan of action, and ideally, we wouldn't fall into the same traps that we have in the past. We would have Order resources and backup, when it was necessary to take action. Secondly, as Tonks pointed out, we would be working under Order directives. This means we could communicate with Order before taking action, we will be bound to follow Dumbledore's orders as well as Order protocol and procedures and we would have Order members' experience and opinions, as well as resources when needed."
"I'd love to see the three of you follow rules, for a change," Snape muttered, before McGonagall elbowed him sharply.
"As the only members of the Order at school, we may be able to attain information that others cannot while also keeping track of students affiliated with the Death Eaters and You-Know-Who."
Ron gave a small cough, indicating that he had something to add. Hermione turned the floor over to him. "You would be surprised how well...informed...some of the other students are. I hate to say it, but there are a lot of Death Eater families in Slytherin, and the parents do pass information onto their children without them realizing really what it can all add up to. Some of these offhanded remarks have led us to foiling You-Know-Who's plans. And we're lead to believe children of informants are in many other houses as well. Having eyes and ears at Hogwarts in the student body isn't a drawback, it's an asset." Ron's eyes met his mother's. He was pleading wither her to understand why he and his friends had to take this step, and finally join the Order.
Hermione decided to continue to outline the pros of their situation, "I know some of you have never openly fought Death Eaters or You-Know-Who. I know you're concerned for our safety. But you need to recognize that young as we are, we have experience fighting both, and that's a huge asset too. Time and time again, because we are young and because we are students, we're not seen as a threat. That day at the Ministry, the Death Eaters couldn't believe that we would actually fight them off; they couldn't believe we weren't running away and screaming in fear, and that gave us a huge advantage. Something that should firmly be a drawback is in fact an asset. They were massively outnumbered, and in the end, we left with the Prophecy, You-Know-Who was exposed, and many prominent Death Eaters were jailed."
"You were damn lucky that day!"
Hermione's voice was much quieter when she replied, "We were indeed. A clever trap was laid for us, and we walked right into it. We lost Sirius Black that day, the Order came and rescued us, and here we are today, still ready to fight."
"What exactly happened? This all seems very fishy to me," a man in a pinstripe suit with steel grey hair asked.
"This touches on a few other points we had to make, so I'll try to be clear here. One of our advantages is my connection to Voldemort. My blood may not be potent anymore, but we are mentally linked together. Now, when he touches me, I feel pain. Somehow, when we're feeling extreme emotions, like rage, sadness, glee, we can feel each other."
"That can't be an asset," the grey-haired man commented, a look of disgust on his face. He'd hate to have that psychopath crawling around his brain.
"It can be both, actually. When he is insanely angry, the pain is incredible. You may have read a Skeeter article talking about a mental breakdown I had in class. It was completely ridiculous, but I did have a moment in class where I passed out from the pain."
"That's a liability, boy."
Surprisingly, it was Arthur Weasley who spoke next, "Don't be so hasty. Because of this mental link, Harry saw You-Know-Who possess that great snake of his, and attack me in the Department of Mysteries a year and a half ago. If Harry hadn't had that vision, I'd be dead, and we would not have been sure that he was trying to break into the Hall of Prophecy."
There were some more murmurs within the crowd. When they started to die down, Harry continued, "That day at the Ministry is really the best example we can discuss about why we're ready to be members. I'll explain how things actually went, and how they may have gone if we were already members."
"Looking to place blame, boy? After we saved you arse?" Moody shot.
Harry gave his own steely glare, "I take full responsibility for what happened that day. I'm using it as a reference in this discussion, not looking to shift blame to anyone else. And to be frank, Mr. Moody, we have no intention of casting aside responsibility for our actions on anyone else. We're here to discuss what has happened, and how we can learn from that and apply that knowledge to the future."
Harry shot a look at Ron and Hermione, who gave him a distinct 'get on with it' gesture. "As I was saying, that day, I was in the middle of writing my OWL exam for History of Magic, and I don't know how to describe it, I feel into, almost like trance? I had seen the beginning of this dream I had again and again, which turned out to be a path through the Ministry of Magic into the Department of Mysteries and into the Hall of Prophecy, further than I had ever seen before. This vision was different, I saw Voldemort, and he had Sirius, and he was torturing him. I could not bear it; I woke, screaming in the middle of the exam room."
"We didn't know who to turn to. Professor Dumbledore was no longer Headmaster, Professor McGonagall had been stunned, and Hagrid had disappeared into the woods. We tried to contact Headquarters, and were told by Kreacher that Sirius was gone. We were caught using the Floo connection, and were being held by Umbridge. We tried to tell Professor Snape what had happened, but we couldn't tell if he understood, not without revealing everything to Umbridge. She threatened us with Crucio, until Hermione thought of how to trick her."
Hermione gave a ghost of a smile at the memory, "We told her that we were trying to contact Professor Dumbledore to tell him we had finished building a weapon in the Forest. We promised to show it to her. She went into the Forest with us, and we were attacked by centaurs, which carried her away. From there, we took Thestrals to the Ministry."
Harry picked up the story from there, "We followed the same path I had seen in my vision, but when we arrived in the Hall of Prophecy, it was empty. We were confused, but Ron noticed an orb with my name on it, mine along with 'The Dark Lord'. It was the prophecy. As soon as I touched it, we were surrounded by Death Eaters. We fought; eventually the Order arrived as well. We seemed to be winning, and suddenly, Sirius was in front of the Veil, and Bellatrix Lestrange hexed him-"
Harry was struggling with his words, this was worse even, then the sight of Cedric's death. It was Harry's worst memory. "-He fell, he fell backwards, laughing at her to do better, not realising the Veil was behind him, and then he was gone. I just...lost it. I ran after her, I confronted her. She mocked me, mocked Sirius. She demanded the prophecy, but it was gone, smashed while I helped Neville. My scar seared with pain, and I knew that Voldemort knew...and suddenly he was there with me and Bellatrix, he aimed another Killing Curse at me, but Professor Dumbledore arrived. They duelled, and Voldemort possessed me, hoping to get the Headmaster to kill me in order to destroy him. It was like my first year again, with the pain of Quirrell touching me, but worse. Yet Voldemort couldn't bear it, he couldn't be inside me. He fled."
There was silence again throughout the room. Dumbledore's eyes blazed with pride.
Harry decided to strike while the iron was hot. "This connection is an advantage, just like all the others we mentioned. The disadvantages you are all thinking of, our ages, our positions as students, that we have been reckless and acted rashly in the past, our reputations and public personas, these can all be turned in our favour. We're constantly underestimated, we've always pulled through by working together, and we get access to information that you don't. Isn't it worth bringing us in? Don't these pros clearly outweigh the cons?"
"How things unravelled that day was more toward the end of a worst-case scenario. From what we have learned, let's look at if something similar happened now, and we were Order members, the best-case scenario. First off, we would have known what Voldemort was after, and would never have fallen into that trap. Second of all, we would have been able to communicate clearly with Order members and verified if what I saw was true. Thirdly, if we verified that a member was missing, we could call for help and set up a solid plan of action instead of having to run into danger alone. Ideally, we would have been prepared to go to the Ministry together, check the situation, and get out before Death Eaters could arrive. If not, we would have had the training and the support to leave with minimal casualties."
The membership looked uneasy. Some people began muttering to themselves. Others could not hold in their questions or concerns.
"Harry, I'm not saying that we haven't heard what you, Ron and Hermione have been saying for the last quarter hour, but you have to realize where we are also! The Order is taking on Death Eaters that are fighting with more cunning and Darker Arts every time we meet. It's never been as dangerous as it is now. While on the one hand, I want everyone capable wand out there, on the other hand, I want to do for you what I wish I could have done for my own son. If my 'no' vote means keeping you out of harm's way for as long as possible, than that is how I shall vote tonight." Amos Diggory's eyes pleaded with Harry to understand. Molly buried her head into her husband's shoulder as she listened to Diggory's opinion.
Harry rubbed his face with his hands, trying to dispel the image of Cedric being killed at the graveyard. "I blame myself that he was put in Voldemort's path, I truly do. But how many other wizards could have been kidnapped, brought before Voldemort and his Inner Circle, and lived long enough to bring home his body and tell the tale? That wasn't luck, it was the prophecy!"
"Excuse me, but I don't recall the prophecy saying anything about you meeting again and again and escaping all the time," Snape shot at Harry, finally starting to speak up on this topic.
"No, it didn't, now did it? But maybe you would like me to repeat the first sentence again? The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches. Now to me, vanquish seems to imply that I am going to kick his slimy arse!" Harry retorted hotly.
"You're naive enough to think it would be that easy, aren't you? Do you think that you are going to be able to just waltz up to the Dark Lord and wish him to his unhappy demise? When the time comes, you are going to have to fight your way to him, and all the while, it will be your friends and your allies who have to pay the ultimate cost to get you there! So don't be so juvenile to think that these people don't have the right to try to keep you away from the war until you have grown and been properly trained to fight in this war! It's their lives you risk as well, you ignorant fool!" Severus hissed, the temperature in the room dropping a few degrees, as everyone visualized the scene he painted with his words.
"Professor Snape! You know that isn' what Harry meant! He doesn' want to risk anybody! Surely you aren' suggesting that Harry would just–" Hagrid babbled, upset that anyone would suggest that Harry could be responsible for anyone's death.
Snape cut him off, "You oaf! Don't you see that at some point, it will be necessary? Do you really expect that the Death Eaters are just going to throw down their wands and neatly stroll off to Azkaban without a fuss? This is war!"
Silence followed Ron's statement.
"What do you mean, Ron?" Fred asked gently.
"You all have to see that we're going to lose people. That's war. And in this way, it is just like chess. You have to make sacrifices in order to win. Sometimes you have to let the rook or the queen or the pawns be taken, in order to take down the king in the end. I'm not saying that this is a game, far from it, but I am saying that we have to strategize, we have to think in the long-term as well," Ron stopped speaking and turned from Snape to face Harry, "I'd follow you anywhere. You know I would. But I want to make this clear as well, if it comes down to it, I would sacrifice myself to help you win. I believe in you, and in the prophecy, that much. So you do whatever it takes, and I'll do what I must, so that in the end, we win."
Hermione slipped her hands into one each of her friends. "That goes for me too," she said, with a watery smile, as she looked at them both.
"Let's hope it never comes to that," Dumbledore said, giving Ron a gentle clap on the back.
"Any more concerns or questions?" he asked. When no one raised a hand or made a comment, Dumbledore said, "Then let's take a vote."
It's been nearly a year since I last posted, and it's been about 9 months since I wrote this chapter. I apologize that I have been so slow. I sincerely wish to finish this story. It's a WIP for sure, and is not in the least bit abandoned, no matter how slow my updates are. I'd like to thank you all for your patience and reviews, and thank wellyuthink for herwonderful beta work and insightful comments.
I know part way through this chapter there was a bit on Marconi code, so I thought I would take a minute to give you a brief blurb from Wikipedia:
"CQD, transmitted in Morse code as — · — · — — · — — · · is one of the first distress signals adopted for radio use. It was announced on January 7, 1904, by "Circular 57" of the Marconi International Marine Communication Company, and became effective, for Marconi installations, beginning February 1, 1904.
Land telegraphs had traditionally used "CQ" to identify messages of interest to all stations along a telegraph line, and CQ had also been adopted as a "general call" for maritime radio use. However, in landline usage there was no general emergency signal, so the Marconi company added a "D" to CQ in order to create its distress call. Thus, "CQD" is understood by wireless operators to mean, "All stations: distress." Contrary to popular belief, CQD does not stand for "Come Quick, Danger", "Come Quickly Distress", or "Come Quick - Drowning!"; these are backronyms.
Although used worldwide by Marconi operators, CQD was never adopted as an international standard since it could be mistaken for a general call "CQ" if the reception was poor. At the second International Radiotelegraphic Convention, held in Berlin in 1906, Germany's Notzeichen distress signal of three-dots/three-dashes/three-dots (· · · — — — · · · ) was adopted as the international Morse code distress signal."