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Chapter 7

Molly Weasley glanced at her weary hands, wrinkled with age and calloused from years of work beneath her fingertips. She sat beside the few members left belonging to the Order, each witch and wizard lacking sleep as they discussed what do with the students chosen to stay at Hogwarts. Molly knew the battle was being prolonged, although she feared for her family, and for the two children she had allowed to travel to America. Allowing a sigh to escape past her lips, she glanced up, watching Minerva's facial expressions as she made note of how many students were left.

Suddenly, the wall's of the Great Hall began to tremble, sending Molly to her feet. Her fingers searched until they came in contact with Arthur's arm, grasping the bicep tightly. Her eyes narrowed as her left fingertips placed themselves on the tip of her wand, itching to pull it out and curse a Death Eater.

"The fireplace!" she noted, faded chocolate eyes falling upon the golden fireplace.

Smoke curled over the ashes, creating an image in the middle of the grand opening. Green flames licked at the silhouette of a figure, enveloping the shadow in their devilish greed. Pink hair peeked beneath the flames, illuminated by the light cast from the tall windows in the room. Shaking soot from her clothes, Tonks stepped from the fireplace, allowing relief to wash over Molly. A smile tugged at her lips, glad that the poor child had not been caught by the ministry.

"Why, hello, Molly," Tonks greeted, opening her arms in a giving hug for Molly to consume.

Molly held tight a moment, before pulling back, hands placed upon Tonks' forearms. "It's nice to see you, deary," Molly sighed.

"Back to soon?" Arthur questioned, placing a single hand upon Tonks' shoulder.

"How did you get here without getting caught?" Molly questioned, shaking her head abruptly as she contemplated Tonks' return to Hogwarts.

An unknowing shrug pulled at Tonks' shoulders. "I don't believe that the Ministry has the floo network connected with America. We figured that I could get here safely. If I would have gotten caught, I'm still a member of the Auror's, so I could have come up with a legitimate excuse."

Molly nodded, though she was still displeased with the young witch's cautiousness.

"Please, have a seat," Minerva greeted, a smile gracing her lips as her cat-like eyes watched as Tonks fell into a chair. "I have to go see Dumbledore- tell him you arrived safely."

"Hello, McGonagall," Tonks returned.

McGonagall stood, nodded her head in agreement, and made her way from the Great Hall, black cloak swishing around her feet. Her feet carried her to two stone gargoyles, crouching in front of a hidden, spiraling staircase.

" Password."

"Lemon drop," McGonagall answered curtly.

Her eyes watched as the stone began to move, shifting until the gargoyles jumped to either side of the stairway. Gently, McGonagall stepped onto the moving stairs, eyelids drooping from her minimal hours of sleep, though she urged herself to stay awake. Suddenly, the staircase halted movement, and McGonagall pressed her eyelids open. Shaking her tight bun, she made her way from the staircase, approaching a large door. Pressing her knuckles to the door, she rapped three times.

"Come in," Dumbledore's voice sounded from within the office.

McGonagall swiftly opened the door, stepping inside. She made her way past the many twirling silver trinkets Dumbledore continued to collect, stopping once she was placed in front of his large, wooden desk.

"Minerva, has the Order arrived?" Dumbledore questioned, blue irises twinkling in spite of his tired body.

"Yes. They are currently in the Great Hall," McGonagall replied, pressing her lips tightly together. "Arthur and Molly are worried desperately of all of them."

"I know," Dumbledore replied.

He stood, making his way around the desk until he was gazing at a perch. Atop the golden perch sat a grand red phoenix. Dumbledore reached an aged hand, placing it on top of Fawks' head. Gently sweeping his fingertips over the feathers, a smile suddenly tugged at Dumbledore's lips.

"Albus?" McGonagall questioned, a knowing glint in her eye.

"Come," Dumbledore responded, footsteps taking him past the many twirling, spinning, silver trinkets. He quietly opened the large door that led into the Headmaster's office, and stepped out. "Remus and Nymphadora?" Dumbledore asked, placing a foot onto the spinning staircase as he awaited McGonagall to follow.

"Tonks is already downstairs with the Order," McGonagall replied. "Got here by Floo Network. I believe that Remus remained with the kids over in America. Although, I have no clue as to how they found a fireplace, or how Tonks got here without getting caught by the ministry."

"They will have to be more careful," Dumbledore pointed out, eyes falling shut as the vast staircase began to move.

"The Network isn't monitored yet, Albus," McGonagall pointed out.

"Yes, but soon enough, it will be," Dumbledore replied.

He stepped off the staircase, making his way through the two separated gargoyle statues, patting one atop the head. Walking to the Great Hall, he noted each Order member at the head of the room, committed to the conversation with one another.

"Good evening," he called in greeting, making his way towards the front of the great hall.

"Albus, we must do something," Molly Weasley reported, gruffly making her way in Dumbledore's direction. "The children are unsafe there."

"They are fine, Molly," Dumbledore stated respectively.

His footsteps halted when he stood before an oversized golden chair. Placing himself gently into it, he returned his attention to the worried Order members.

"Dumbledore, what are we to do?" Tonks questioned.

"We must fight," Sirius stated abruptly, standing from his current sitting position.

"Not yet, Sirius," Dumbledore replied. "Minerva has already informed me of the plan, Tonks; the little bit there is." His blue eyes twinkled knowingly.

"What are you thinking, Albus?" Arthur demanded gently.

"We are still unsure of where the battle is to be held, correct?" Dumbledore questioned, although his words sounded a statement.

"Yes," Tonks responded. "We met a few… characters in America. We found the werewolves, although that is a completely different story for another time. With them, were vampires."

"Vampires?" Molly questioned, eyes becoming wide with fear and frustration. "You left the children with a household full of vampires?"

Tonks shook her head, causing her pink hair to fall gracefully over her eyes. "Of course not- Remus is with them. He's keeping an eye out for them. Although, I believe that these vampires can be trusted." Dumbledore spared a questioning look, causing Tonks to continue. "The Cullens' don't exactly feed off humans… they're animal drinkers, you could say. They feed from animals, as to keep the peace between humans. No one even knows of their existence sparing the werewolves and a girl that Edward is- er, with."

"And, where is this going, Nymphadora?" McGonagall questioned, curiosity lacing between her words.

A sigh fell from Tonks parted lips. "I believe that they, as well as the werewolves can help us- with enough training, of course. They are going to teach us their techniques, and us teach them in return. The vampire girl, Alice, she sees prophecies, you could say. She saw Voldemort with an ally."

"An ally?" Arthur demanded. "V-Voldemort doesn't have allies- he has followers."

"-Which is what we could not comprehend," Tonks finished. She shook her head once more, confusion gracing her features. "We're not sure what to take of it, but if Voldemort and Victoria are working together, he must be using her for something. She must be of some use to him."

Dumbledore raised a hand, stopping the rising chatter that had begun to emanate from each Order member. "You are correct," he reassured. "Voldemort doesn't have allies. He is using her to get for some reason. That reason is what we need to configure. For now, we are to send a few more people there."

He glanced around at all the Order members. A few spare students stood in the hall, all from a small group they had named Dumbledore's Army. Cho Chang had recently joined them, followed by the students that had chosen to stay behind for the battle. She now stood tall, eyes sparkling with excitement, although fear was close behind.

"Who?" Molly questioned, a worry tugging at her aging features.

"I'll do it." Cedric Diggory volunteered, voice rather large in the open hall.

"Mr. Diggory," Dumbledore said, "I think you deserve this position; one of the famous Triwizard Cup winners." Dumbledore allowed a smile to pull at his small lips as he watched Cho grab one of Cedric's arms, tugging until she could press her lips gently to his cheek

"So, Cedric will be coming back with us?" Tonks questioned, pulling her legs from their swinging position, and instead sitting cross-legged atop the table. "Whom else?"

"I think Sirius Black would be good for the job." Dumbledore raised a golden challis to his lips, tongue engulfing a sip of pumpkin juice.

"Thank you so much, Dumbledore," Sirius stated, smiling as if he had not allowed this happiness to grace his lips in years.

"Constant vigilance, Black," Alastor Moody asserted, pulling his silver canister to his lips.

"Yeah, yeah," Sirius stated, waving his hand back and forth, a gesture that pushed Moody's words away.

"I'm serious," Moody retaliated, narrowing his good eye in Sirius' direction. Sirius held up his hands in surrender, a smirk pulling at the corner of his lips.

"Wipe that smirk off your face, Sirius," George stated, prancing into the Great Hall as if he were a small child. Fred was following close behind, a smile gracing his lips as he gazed at his twin brother.

"Oh, Fred, George… why are you late?" Molly questioned, eyebrows narrowing at her teenage sons.

"Mum, chill," Fred replied.

"Yeah, Mum, we're fine," George intervened, placing a single, reassuring arm around his mother's shoulders.

"We're not children anymore, Mum." Fred followed George, placing his opposite arm around his mother.

"Yes, but you're still my children, and therefore, I still take care of you," Molly pointed out. Fred and George both felt their eyes roll at her statement.

"Albus," Arthur interrupted, "when do you suggest they leave?"

"I was thinking the exact same thing, Arthur," Dumbledore stated. "They shall leave tomorrow as to have as much time as possible to train."

"How long do we have?" Tonks asked, tilting her head as she contemplated the amount of time in her head.

"Well, Nymphadora, I presume as long as we need. Voldemort will not attack until they are fully ready. As far as I'm aware, Victoria is not done training her own, so to speak. We should have a fair amount of time," Dumbledore mentioned, twirling his beard between his aged fingers.

"Dark is about to fall," Moody stated, his single good eye glancing outside one of the many translucent windows that littered the Great Hall.

"We should get to bed," Molly said. "Especially Tonks, Cedric and Sirius. Don't want to be too tired when I wake you in the morning."

"Does that mean we're staying with you?" Tonks questioned, bearing a light chuckle.

"Yes," Molly said, a smile gracing her lips. It was obvious everyone knew she adored having the company.

"You should leave soon, Molly," Dumbledore suggested, glancing to the slowly darkening ceiling. "Nymphadora, Cedric, and Sirius need to get up early."

"Yes, Dumbledore," Molly agreed.

"As for the rest of the Order," Dumbledore stated, quickly standing from his grand chair, "you may stay here until they return, or return home. It is your decision. Just know that we are no longer safe anywhere."

The Order nodded.

"I'll stay here," Moody assured. "Constant vigilance. Must never trust anyone. This is the safest place to be in a battle."

"The battle has not started yet, Alastor," Dumbledore reminded, beginning his decent to the hallway.

"I know, Dumbledore, but you can't trust anyone." His eyes narrowed as they landed on Mundungus Fletcher, whom proceeded to pull his coat tighter around his torso, as if he were hiding something.

"Snape, I think Remus is going to need more potion, just in case," Tonks reminded. "We're not sure how long it'll be…."

Snape merely nodded, choosing to not speak a word.

"Alright, I must be to bed, now," Dumbledore stated, plucking his challis of pumpkin juice from the table. He then called, "Dobby."

Noise was heard as the little house elf scampered into the room, eyes alert. Different colored socks were placed upon his feet, resembling a mess of misplaced laundry as he approached Dumbledore. A small tea cozy sat atop his head, ears poking out on each side. A blue and red tie was wrapped around Dobby's neck loosely, and his small fingers found the end of it as he tugged at the fraying edges.

"Sir," Dobby nodded.

"Can you help the Order get into the Room of Requirements, so they may sleep there for tonight?"

"Yes, Dumbledore," Dobby squeaked. "Is, Harry P-Potter here?"

"No, not yet, Dobby," Dumbledore answered, patting the house elf lightly atop the head. Dobby's ears noticeable drooped, though he perked up immediately.

"Did you say, the Room of Requirements, sir?" Dobby asked, the excitement clear in his voice.

"Yes, you should know where that is." Dumbledore winked, causing the small house elf to glow with pride.

"Yes, Sir." Dobby saluted Dumbledore, sending a quick wave, motioning for the members of the Order to follow him. A light chuckle escaped Dumbledore's lips as he gazed at the quickly moving members. Although, Cho didn't follow, choosing to remain instead at Cedric's side.

"I'll be back in a week or two, promise," Cedric promised. He leaned down to gently press a his lips to Cho's bare forehead.

"I know. Be safe," she whispered, her voice as soft as the wind. She pressed another soft kiss to his cheek, before following Dobby, hands gently brushing at her sides as she hurried to catch up to the other members of Dumbledore's Army.

"Now, for those of you going to the Weasley's," Dumbledore suggested, "you may want to get there by Floo Network. I wouldn't trust flying."

"Yes, Dumbledore, just what I was thinking," Arthur agreed, placing his hands lightly upon Molly's shoulders.

"The Floo Powder is in a little pouch next to the fireplace. Good night." Dumbledore than made his way out of the room, McGonagall following closely behind. Molly stood quietly, Arthur awaiting her next request.

"Well, come on then," she stated, making her way towards the fireplace.

Grabbing a small blue pouch, she pulled on the golden string until a small quantity of Floo Powder was revealed. Arthur, Tonks and her boys all gathered behind her, each taking a turn until they had all taken a pinch of Floo Powder between their thumbs and forefingers.

"We want to go first, mum," Fred said, stepping right up to the fireplace.

"Well, alright," Molly sighed, stepping backwards. Together, Fred and George stepped inside the enormous, golden fireplace. The twin's voices sounded loudly, echoing off the golden walls as they stated, "THE BURROW!"

Suddenly, green flames engulfed their bodies, twisting and twirling around the shadows until both silhouettes were no longer there.

"Alright, who's next?" Molly questioned. She grasped Tonks and Sirius by the forearm, gently leading her to the opening of the fireplace.

"Alright, Molly, we're going," Tonks joked, making her way into the fireplace. "The Burrow!"

Arthur and Cedric stepped into the fireplace next, both shouting the same two words the other four had. After nearly five minutes, Molly remained the only one still in the Great Hall. She swept one look at the vast room, before making her way into the fireplace as well.

So... rather long chapter.

But, hopefully it gave you some detail.

Maybe too much...

Ah, well.

Review please!

-Taylor Tonks