Had anybody witnessed the scene before them – they would have realised how suspicious it seemed; two hooded figures stood towards the more shadowed end of a dark alley, whispering amongst their selves. One was slightly shorter and slimmer, the other was taller and slightly bulkier. However, despite the differences, they both stood tall and proud under long, dark cloaks that covered their entire form – including faces. Anyone glancing down the dark alley would have not spotted them; their dark forms merged into the shadows.
"Are you sure this information is to be trusted?" murmured the slightly shorter one. "For all you know, this could be a trap, for them to capture us."
"I understand your worry, however, you should hold me in full confidence that the information I hold is true – I have checked, checked, and checked again. Would you ever expect any less of me?" He the slightly taller one murmured back, sounding slightly annoyed.
"Of course, forgive me for doubting you. I should have known you wouldn't have lead us into something so blindly-"
"Surely not, foolish boy. We are on our side for the time being – we can only trust ourselves. Now, would you think I would lead us into something like this I am not 100% certain on? No?"
"No. But you will have to forgive my doubt, only for the fact that I am aware we are on our own side – whatever blunders are made are at both of our necks. I worry about you as much as myself." The slightly smaller one dropped his bodily composure for a second, then stood back up straight again. "No, I will not doubt you, again. You haven't given me a reason to, so I shouldn't."
"Good. So are we clear on the plan then? Everyone else also seems to be set for it."
"Yes, I am." The smaller one out of the both paused for a second. "I am to go for-"
"Not here!" the taller one nearly shouted. "We could be under any watchful eye, even now. My spells to conceal us may be strong, but if – and it is if – somebody has realised, and are tracking us, it could be a possibility they have broken down all of my spells. Do you not realise? We are risking our lives simply by meeting up like this."
The smaller one backed off. "I- I understand. And I don't think I'd know the plan any better if I tattooed it into my left arm."
Both figures smiled slightly, then the taller one whispered, "Well…good luck."
"Meh! Good luck, we don't need that," although he sounded like he was trying to convince himself more than anything. "Well…" There was a comfortable silence for a few seconds. "We'll have to get off, before anyone notices anything…amiss. Take care, my friend."
The taller of the two looked as if he was going to pat the other's shoulder, but then the hand fell to his side. "Yes, you too." The taller had then apparated, leaving the smaller in the dark alone for a couple of seconds. A sigh could be heard, and then there was another large crack, and the dark alley was once again empty.
Harry ran down the stairs of the now empty house. The Dursleys' had only just left the house, left in protection of the wizarding society. Harry still felt a little shocked of Dudley's last words to him before they left. After all of the bullying and everything… they had parted on better terms than Harry thought would be ever possible. But for now, there was no more time to dwell on what could have happened between Dudley and himself. But hearing noises coming from the back, Harry knew that somebody from the Order had come for him. He carried Hedwig's cage and his trunk and his backpack. He stopped; maybe it was all a bit too much for side-along. He shrunk his trunk to an acceptable size and placed it in his backpack – he may not have needed his trunk, for he was not going to Hogwarts this year…but he couldn't find it in his heart to leave it behind, either.
Still being wary, in case it was not someone from the Order, he held his wand high, a jinx on the end of his tongue. He may not be of age yet, and it was likely he would be wanted if he used any magic here, but he was not about to risk his life, Azkaban or not. Upon seeing the bright pink hair of Tonks, and the familiar bushy hair followed by someone lanky and ginger, he lowered his wand slightly, more assured.
He opened the door and looked at them all. He looked out in confusion and made a mental count…13?
"Harry!" Hermione shouted, and suddenly he had a face full of Hermione. "Me and Ron have missed you terribly – are you okay?"
"Um…yeah. Hey guys," he said, beaming at the surrounding people, genuinely glad they were all there, despite his confusion. "What are you all doing here? I mean…not that I'm glad you're all here!" he added hastily. "I was just under the impression it was going to be a side along apparition?"
Mad Eye Moody came clunking up to him. "Change of plan, boy. But it's best not to discuss it out here," he added, his fake eye swirling around in the back of his head. "Best to go inside."
Harry stepped out of the way and allowed Mad Eye Moody to get in, followed by everyone else, who shook his hand or patted him upon entering. Once everyone was inside, and seated upon every gleaming surface available, Moody grunted, "Yes, well there's been a change of plan – They've got every kind of way out of here blocked. It's now illegal to set up a portkey out of here, set up floo in this house, apparate or disapparate in here."
As Harry's confusion etched deeper into his face, Tonks added, "They've been taking over the ministry – it's now just about fully run by Voldemort. They've added this…protection to this house, and excused it as protection for you, so Voldemort cannot reach you. Except, this isn't the ministry at all, of course…"
Mr Weasley then added, "It all seems like the perfect plan. For them, at least. They know they cannot touch you while you live here, until you're 17. They think they have you cornered – you have no safe way to get out of here, until they can get to you."
"So that's why we're all here. We have to use other forms of transport, though. Ones that can't be tracked through your trace – brooms, thestrals and the motorbike – as they don't require a spell to work. However, just in case someone from the outside found out about our plan, we naturally made a leak ourselves – just with a different date. And we've also set up a dozen safe houses that we will be heading to – they won't know which one we'll be going to, anyway. But either way, we're expecting probably a couple of Death Eater on the lookout anyway, just in case. But nothing we can't handle."
Harry felt more up to date than before, but he couldn't help but feel there was a little flaw in the plan. "Yeah…um…great. But, aren't the Death Eaters going to notice where we are, you know? With thirteen of us flying to one safe house, surely it will be more than a little bit odd?"
Lupin then spoke up. "Ah, but that's the clever thing about it – we're all going to pair up, and each pair is going to go to a different safe house. They're all linked to us in a way; our houses, or our relative's houses. They'll not know who to follow." When Harry was about to interrupt, Lupin continued. "Of course, you're probably thinking that they'll just follow you and the person you're paired with?" Harry nodded. "Well, that's where the big part of the plan comes in."
Moody lifted a bottle that appeared to be filled with mud, and Harry still felt slightly confused. It was a big bottle, surely, just for him to drink? How long was the journey going to last? "But if you're going to Polyjuice me into someone else…do you not think that's more than enough?" People around the room looked at him as if he'd just completely missed the point – then he'd realised. "No! No, you're not going to do this! I refuse!"
Hermione smiled. "I told you he wouldn't like it."
"No! I am not having people risk their lives like this-"
"Like we haven't before," Fred and George grinned.
"It's different! You're all going to be…me!"
"I know, it's a disturbing thought, isn't it?" Ron grimaced.
"No, but if you die…it'll be because they'll think you're me! No, I won't let you do this!"
"Oh really?" Moody grunted angrily. "I'd like to see you try. And if you come up with any better ideas within the next few seconds, I'll be willing to listen. But as it happens, we're running to a tight schedule and we would appreciate it if you went along with this, Potter."
"But – you won't get my hair. If I don't go along with this-"
Kingsley let out a booming laugh. "Harry, I'm sure you've realised you're in a room with thirteen overage wizards – put up a fight if you want, but since you can't do magic, it might be a bit fruitless, you see." He chuckled. "So either do this the nice way, and pull out a few hairs for us, or we'll have to use some force."
Harry glared. "Fine – but I'm not happy about this."
"Neither are we," Fred said. "I mean, imagine something going right and us being stuck as an underage speccy boy?"
Harry laughed, despite his annoyance, and pulled out a few hairs and passed them to Moody. He then added them to the potion, which turned into a golden colour. "Potters, line up!" Ron, Hermione, Fred, George and Fleur all lined up promptly, followed by a hesitant Mungundus. Moody brought out six little cups out of his pocket and filled them up with the potion.
"Well at least it looks tastier than what Crabbe and Goyle's looked like," Hermione said, not looking too disgusted.
Ron eyed his up with a look of disgust. "Hopefully it tastes better, too."
"Right, then," Moody instructed. "Everyone drink up!"
The six of them all drunk their potion, then after a second dropped their cups and started to get a disgusted look on their faces as their skin boiled and they started to transform – Hermione and Fleur growing a few inches, Ron dropping a dramatic height, and the twins and Mundungus only dropping one or two inches. Hermione and Fleur's hair seemed to start going back into their head and turning black. After a few more seconds, they all become identical versions of Harry himself – the only difference being how they acted like him.
"So this is how it feels to have a-" Hermione started, then immediately blushed.
Fleur laughed, too. "Yes, I vos vinking ov zat!"
"But it felt so weird everything just suddenly going…out during the transformation," Hermione giggled.
Harry laughed then held out a hand, signalling for them to stop. "Stop it Hermione, I'm starting to get some unwanted images here."
"Sorry, Harry," she said, still giggling.
Moody then proceeded to tell the Potters that if they had clothes too large, or small, to change into the robes he had brought. As all of them willingly changed, Harry felt as if a breach of his privacy was being pushed. Luckily, the rest of the Order also seemed to think so, and turned away from them all getting undressed.
"Blimey, I feel sorry for you mate," Ron said as there was silence. "I knew you needed glasses – not that you were practically blind."
"Something we will have to sort out soon, too," Moody grunted. "Any disability is a disadvantage. And having bad eye-sight is one of them. If you suddenly find yourself without your glasses, you will no longer be a very worthy opponent, will you?"
Harry did agree on that one – if one day someone decided to target his eyes, he would no longer be fully able to attack anyone with his state of sight. The sooner he'd get his eye-sight perfect, the better. He was sure Hermione would know of some spell to regain his sight.
When everyone was finally ready, with their glasses on, too, they all set off into the back garden. "Now remember," Moody said. "We all have to set off at exactly the same time; otherwise it will completely remove the point of the plan. Stick to your pairs and be on your guard at all times. Now…Harry you're with Hagrid. Fleur, you're with Bill…"