Dulce Bellum Inexpertis
Bridge Over Troubled Water
"Dulce Bellum Inexpertis."
"War is sweet to those who have never fought."
- Latin Phrase
It was the mere beginning of yet another summer for those who lived in England. For Muggles it was the beginning term of laziness and spending time with friends and family. For wizards it was just another day in a world of confusion, chaos and unavoidable fear. But for one boy, who was raised in the Muggle world but belonged in the magical one, it was the beginning of the end. The end of either good or evil, and what made this one lone boy even more special, is that in the end it would come down to him to decide which would reign supreme over this world. And it would prove to be a more difficult choice than anyone, including him, would ever suspect.
This unique boy was the only raven haired member of a quartet currently traveling down the road that led away from the train station that housed the famous Platform 9 ¾. In the drivers seat was stationed a man so beefy that even though his seat was pushed all the way back, his massive gut was overflowing onto the steering wheel. Beside him sat a pale and terribly thin woman who was nervously nipping at the cheaply painted fingernails of her right hand, every once in a while glancing to check on the two boys seated behind her.
The young boy on the right, who was quite obviously the obese man's son, was chewing on a white chocolate bar that had already begun to melt from the warmth of the midday sun. Beside him sat the heroic Boy-Who-Lived, Harry Potter. His silent sighs could only be detected by the heavy falling of his chest, as it rose only to collapse after a pause that seemed to carry the sorrow of the entire world.
Harry was leaning his head against the window, praying to any and all deity's he could think of, for the sun to stop sending such massive waves of heat that seemed to fry the entire earth. It was after this single thought that his wish seemed to be granted, something that never seemed to happen to Harry Potter. The shade of some tree or building seemed to have blanketed the car from the pulsating heat. Harry smiled contentedly as the first sign of good fortune for his summer when he opened his eyes to look out across the bridge they were currently climbing and his heart sank.
It seemed that not only was his car covered in shade but most of the massive bridge as well. It was when he saw the end of the shade flicker that he made a horrifying connection.
It isn't shade, it's a shadow, he thought quickly, and it's flapping!
Harry rolled down his window frantically and leaned his head out to look directly up. Sure enough the creature that had cast the shadow was indeed flapping its wings from directly above them. However, what he had assumed might be a hippogriff or a thestral, was not even close to the creature that was currently hovering a hundred feet above them.
The hard green scales that bubbled across the sides of the animal looked more like stones and cast no reflection. The venomous yellow that lined the underbelly of the horrifying monster looked much fleshier than its sides and made an obvious display of the gigantic muscles that they were restraining. It was the wings more than razor sharp and still visible fang like teeth that made the beast's identity even more obvious. The lengthy wingspan could belong to no other creature, Muggle or magical, than that of a dragon. The fact that there was a black robed, white masked wizard riding the beast made it even more dangerous to Harry.
His aunt and cousin who had started at his sudden movement had frightened Vernon so much that he swerved before gaining control of the wheel enough to be able to start his rant against his nephew.
"BOY!" he blared at the top of his lungs, the sound echoing painfully in the small car, "GET YOUR HEAD BACK IN HERE! I'LL NOT HAVE YOUR HEAD BASHED IN BY ANOTHER CAR ONLY TO BE CURSED BY THOSE WRETCHED FREAKS FROM BACK AT THE STATION!"
Harry's head quickly darted back inside the car, not because of what his uncle had threatened, but because of the danger that was currently flying directly above them. If only his Uncle Vernon knew that those "freaks" as he called them were the least of their worries now…
"You have to drive faster!" Harry said, still dazed from the appearance of the massive creature above them.
"HOW DARE YOU!" his aunt hissed angrily, all nervousness forgotten, "SIT BACK AND SHUT UP! I WILL NOT HAVE YOU ORDERING YOUR UNCLE AROUND AND GETTING HIM FINED!"
Harry knew that this was getting him nowhere and was quickly thinking about the situation. His wand and his trunk were locked in the boot of the car along with any other magical devises that could aid in this situation. The sound of honking and swerving tires announced that Harry wasn't the only one to have spotted the terrifying sight.
"What is wrong with people today, it's like they've all gone mad!" his uncle exclaimed looking at the cars and the panicked people inside them.
"Or they saw a dragon," Harry mumbled to himself, still looking around the car for anything helpful. If only Uncle Vernon hadn't forced me to let Hedwig fly back to Privet Drive before we left I could have sent a message to the Order! he thought, silently cursing his Aunt and Uncle's hatred of all magical things.
Harry saw no other alternative but to try again to get his Uncle to do something to get away from the dragon that was most obviously looking for them, before he was forced to take drastic measures.
"Uncle Vernon" Harry started, "please listen to me," an unexpected punch to the gut from his cousin prevented him from continuing.
"Mum told you to shut up, so SHUT UP!"
Harry groaned in response to the punch, clutching his stomach, but a deafening roar drowned it out. The bridge shook below them in response.
It appeared that they had now reached the top of the bridge unlike the other cars on the road that had slowed, and in some cases turned in the opposite direction going against traffic. This left Harry and his relatives alone and an easy target.
The angry emission from the dragon above had definitely gotten the attention of his family - Petunia was screaming her head off while Dudley had given away into a dead faint. Vernon, who hadn't spotted the dragon yet, became flustered and spoke with an edge of hysteria.
"PETUNIA!" he shrieked, shrugging his seat belt off to look for himself, "PETUNIA? What is it? What's out there? What's happening?"
Petunia's barely audible reply was drowned out by a second growl. Harry turned to look out the rear window and didn't even get a chance to say one word of warning before a torrent of fire attacked the road a few feet behind them. Gravel and pavement melted in an instant as tongues of flame tasted the air behind them. The force of the explosion caused the car to flip end over front and land on the hood of the car.
Harry was now lying flat against the ceiling, listening to the screeching sound of the metal scraping down the slant of the bridge slowly losing momentum. The car was still spinning during the descent causing broken glass from the crunched car and snapped off metal parts to swirl along with the passengers inside. Harry was still conscious enough to shield his eyes from the flying glass with his right hand. His left didn't seem to be moving from where his body was trapping it with its weight.
After what felt like hours of spinning, screaming and scrapping, but what was in reality only a few moments, the onslaught stopped. Although he was still trembling Harry cautiously opened his eyes and surveyed the damage. His right hand had several slits of glass that were embedded in it. His body ached and his leg was warped into an impossible angle, showing that it was undoubtedly broken. Harry wasn't sure it was a good or a bad thing that he couldn't feel the pain from the leg yet, but for the moment he was willing to except it as a plus. Slowly he pulled his left arm free from where it had jammed between the side door and the seats. His right hand felt for the seat buckle, and after the sound of a click, he fell onto the roof of the car. Slowly he laid himself on his back, attempting to stead the dizzy feeling in his body.
It was when he realized that he was the only one still audibly breathing that he glanced around to the other occupants of the car. Dudley was lying half sideways out of the hole where his door used to be located. His aunt was in a most uncomfortable looking ball with her knees on the torn headrest. Harry sighed silently seeing short movements in each of their chests. No matter how much Harry despised what remained of his blood family he had no wish for them to die, especially on his account.
He quickly realized his uncle was no longer in the car. The only evidence that the car had ever contained a front windshield was a handful of glass shards hanging onto the edge of the frame. Harry couldn't help but notice the red stains on each of the shards in front of the driver's seat. Although he held no love for the man, he was still his uncle and Harry began trying to lift himself up to find him.
The ground, and shortly after, the car shook as something massive slammed onto the road behind them. Out of the splintered rear window Harry could see two gargantuan reptilian claws about halfway up the bridge. And then to his horror he saw a distinctly obese shape an equal distance between the wrecked car and the dragon.
Uncle Vernon, Harry thought frantically. He had to do something but with the car upside down there was no hope of getting anything from the trunk. He was alone here and completely defenseless.
Then a pair of feet landed gracefully on the bridges hard surface beside the dragons stiff legs, a black cloak trailing behind. As the figure continued its march towards the car, it didn't even pause before casually casting a brilliant emerald green curse at the collapsed form of Vernon Dursley. If there was any hope that his uncle was still alive it had been extinguished.
Not again, Harry thought to himself, his thoughts irrationally turning to Sirius and then to his recently deceased mentor.
The sound of flapping wings brought him back to reality. Harry looked around the car for a weapon, anything to defend himself with. He thought briefly about making a run for the keys and then to the locked trunk but upon further inspection he saw that the keys had broken off in the ignition and there was no way to open the boot.
What Harry did find though was a long, jagged piece of glass, which he quickly grabbed. Ignoring the cuts that he was getting for holding the shard he quickly raised it, poised to strike at the man who had walked to his side of the car. The knee of the man bent and soon Harry saw his assailants face and swung hard at it with the glass.
The man seemed to almost be expecting the attack and had a hand ready to grab Harry's arm. Instead of trying to grab the glass with his other hand, the attacker used it to haul Harry out of the car in one fluid motion.
After the initial shock of the man's actions, Harry quickly remembered that he was still armed with the glass and swung again. This time the assailant knocked the glass from Harry with his left hand and brought his right hand around to grab Harry throat hard and hold him against the side of the car. The shard instantly broke apart on the ground.
"Good Morning, Potter," said a familiarly cold voice.
Using his free hand the Death Eater ripped off his mask and grinned maliciously at Harry's struggling form.
"Fenrir!" gasped Harry.
This was the same werewolf that had bitten Remus Lupin when he was just a boy and condemned him to a life of horror. This was the same werewolf who had urged Draco Malfoy to kill Dumbledore. This was the same werewolf who inspired fear in all parents in the Wizarding world because his favorite victims were always children. This was the same werewolf that now held Harry's life in his hands.
"I'm so happy I could be the one to do this, Potter," he growled menacingly, "Poor little Remus will probably cry himself to death when he sees your body… once I'm done with you that is."
With the inhuman strength that accompanied his curse, he lifted Harry off the ground and threw him twenty feet. Harry landed harshly on his already injured leg and let out a small scream of pain. Harry felt himself being lifted by the throat again and opened his eyes to see Fenrir practically purring.
"I was the one who turned him" he boasted to Harry, "Did you know that? I heard he nearly committed suicide after the first full moon. Do you think he'll try to end it all again?"
Fenrir pushed Harry roughly against the side of the bridge and bent him backwards so that his upper body was hanging over the side.
"Well? Do you?" the werewolf taunted vindictively, "Do you think he'll just jump off the side of this very bridge? Stand where you are now, weeping and slobbering like a blustering child and then jump?"
Fenrir pulled Harry off the side of the bridge and flung him onto the ground at his feet before adding, "How does it feel to know it would be all your fault?"
Fenrir bent down to Harry's level and jerked his head up by the hair.
"Aw, poor little defenseless Harry Potter" mocked Fenrir. "No Order members to save you. No more parents to sacrifice themselves for you. No more godfathers to get in the way. No Dumbledore meddling where he doesn't belong. No, boy, it's just me and you now."
Fenrir reared his leg back and released it against Harry's side with all his strength, breaking at least two of Harry's ribs and catapulting his lithe body to the opposite side of the bridge. Harry landed on the overturned car and the momentum carried him onto the other side of the car. Coughing blood, Harry looked around for some kind of weapon to defend himself with. Prophecy or not, if Harry took any more blows from the werewolf he wouldn't be alive enough to fight anyone.
The all too familiar feeling of imminent death began to seep into his mind and replace the pain of the beating he was receiving.
Harry tried to look around the car in an effort to spot where the next attack might come from. Harry heard Fenrir shout in pure unadulterated fury and wondered what Harry had done to upset him further. Then Harry heard Fenrir shriek in pain and a torrent of blood flew over the top of his head and splattered the wall behind him.
What the hell was he doing? Harry asked himself. He raised himself up on his good leg just enough to see over the car, his broken ribs protesting the movement.
Sure enough there was a second cloaked figure besides Fenrir Greyback on the bridge. At first Harry assumed that the newcomer was a second Death Eater, but that was before he saw the long blade slash out threateningly towards the werewolf. The Newcomer's face was hidden behind a black hood but Harry guessed from his solid but thin build that he was a man.
The werewolf lunged at the Newcomer, mouth open wide, and within seconds both men were struggling against each other on the ground. Fenrir used his inhuman strength to try to pin the Newcomer down. The Newcomer instead used his flexibility to worm his way out of each stronghold. Finally the werewolf managed to pin the Newcomer down successfully.
Harry grimaced as he heard the hard collision of forehead against forehead reverberate across the bridge. The Newcomer had found himself on the receiving end of a superhuman head butt. Deep scarlet liquid stained the faces of both men but the Newcomer owned an expression of pain rather than the triumphant one on Fenrir's face.
"WHO ARE YOU?" screamed the werewolf maintaining his hold.
The Newcomer merely spit blood into the werewolf's face. Fenrir really didn't seem to mind as he used his tongue to wipe it off but still gave the man a second head butt for good measure.
"Are you with those Order freaks?" the werewolf questioned.
"I'm with Blockbuster Video, mutt!" responded the Newcomer defiantly.
The werewolf gave a third truly gruesome collision against the Newcomer's skull.
Harry could see the blood gushing from the pinned man's face. His nose broken, his forehead gushing, nearly collapsed, and bruises on his wrists from being restrained and yet the Newcomer never gave up. Harry felt a strange mix of admiration and pity for the Newcomer. He knew what it was like to be pinned down by a monster with no hope. But then again the Newcomer wasn't hopeless was he…
Harry had gone unnoticed by both parties during their struggle. If Harry moved quickly but quietly enough he could save the Newcomer and possibly himself. If only he had enough time to plan it out…
But unfortunately for Harry he did not have the time to plan out his rescue mission. The sight of the mangled flesh and the taste of the Newcomer's blood were too much for Fenrir to resist any longer. Harry saw the change in the werewolf's face seconds before it happened. The eyes of his would be killer turned a midnight black and the teeth lengthen into what looked like long pokers. A thick, pink, saliva-dripping tongue emerged from Fenrir's mouth and swept over his lips in anticipation of the kill.
Harry, forced to work on his adrenaline rush and instinct once again, charged unmercifully. But Harry was broken and made it only a few feet before collapsing from the pain in his chest and leg. While Harry had failed at his attempt to rush the werewolf, the Newcomer had taken full advantage of the distraction to Fenrir. Harry looked up in time to see the Newcomer embed both his thumbs into the werewolf's black eyes.
Fenrir screamed and pulled his arms up to protect his suddenly blinded eyes. The Newcomer rolled out from beneath his assailant and used his feet to kick the werewolf onto his back. Harry tried again to sit up but had done too much damage on his last attempt to walk and cried out at the pain.
Fenrir, enraged and blinded, used his superhuman hearing to sense where Harry was and began to charge wildly at him.
The werewolf was closing in quickly and Harry's first instinct was RUN! but his bad leg gave out underneath him and Harry dropped to the ground like a stone. Struggling to get up again, Harry tried to push down on the cement and lift but his right hand landed on something not so flat. Harry looked down and saw that the Newcomer's sword had been tossed there during the earlier struggle. Harry turned back and saw Fenrir closing the gap between them…
"Do it!" shouted the Newcomer to him.
The sound of the Newcomer almost stopped Fenrir's onslaught but the animal inside him would not be denied its prey again. He continued his charge with renewed vigor. Grasping the handle, Harry leveled the blade out in front of him like a spear. Carried by his own momentum Fenrir was swiftly impaled through the chest by the sword, whose tip jettisoned out his back. A wave of fresh blood sprouted for a moment like a fountain of crimson. Harry felt Fenrir go instantly still and the feeling of warm liquid carried itself across his abdomen, soaking into his shirt.
The werewolf's dead weight put even more pressure on the swords handle, which was digging in a most uncomfortable way into Harry's stomach. The pain began to worsen as Harry struggled desperately to lift the weight of the dead body off of him. After three attempts Harry left the handle to be set against him painfully, taking comfort that it was crushing his stomach and not his already battered ribcage.
"Here let me help you with that, kid" said a gruff voice from above him.
Harry focused his attention on the hooded figure of the Newcomer. In, what Harry grumpily decided, was an effortless move the man lifted the werewolf's body and dropped it to the ground next to Harry. Harry sighed contentedly as the building pressure of the handle blade was finally gone.
"Thank you," said Harry, lifting a hand to shield his eyes from the mid-day sun.
"I believe that's my line," said the Newcomer with what Harry could have sworn was a smile. The man placed the bloodied sword into the sheath on his back.
"Who are you?" asked Harry as he tried to stand.
The Newcomer grabbed his elbow to steady him and Harry leaned against him for support.
"I think we'd better get you outta here, kid," said the Newcomer, looking to the sky. "Then maybe some questions."
"I'm not sure how fast I'll be able to go with my leg all torn up," replied Harry.
At the words "torn up" the Newcomer snapped his head down to look Harry over. "Shit!" he cried as he realized that Harry's shirt was stained with blood from the chest down. Instantly the Newcomer ripped the shirt apart down the front. At the sight of the bruising over his ribcage, the Newcomer slowed his attempt to ease the shirt off him.
"Hey!" cried Harry in alarm.
"If you've any open wounds and the werewolf's blood mixes with yours you could become infected."
Harry let the shirt fall to the pavement.
"That's a good lad," encouraged the Newcomer, "but we've still got to get out of here."
"Won't the Order be here soon?" asked Harry.
"Yes," said the Newcomer, "but it'll be worse if we're still here when they do."
An enormous growl ripped through the sky from somewhere over the horizon.
"The dragon?" asked Harry dumbly.
The Newcomer nodded as he scanned the sky around them, "Must have been given instructions to get you alone for the werewolf and then go terrorize the surrounding Muggles. Keep the Aurors busy and the like. We won't have much time before he comes back to check on the wolf."
"My Aunt and Cousin!" Harry cried out, the thought of danger bringing their presence coming back to him.
The Newcomer led Harry back to the wreckage that housed his only remaining blood family. Harry leaned heavily against the overturned car as his protector checked them over.
"Are they… alive?" asked Harry through the lump in his throat.
"Yes," answered the Newcomer while checking Petunia's pulse, "they both are."
"Thank Merlin," he whispered to himself. "We have to get them to St. Mungos."
The Newcomer shook his head, "That's for the Order to do when they get here."
Something the Newcomer had said earlier about the Order combined with his last statement fell into place in Harry's mind.
"You're not in the Order, are you?" he asked, a sinking feeling in his stomach.
"Clever," said the Newcomer.
"Then why'd you save me?" Harry asked.
"I'll explain later, Harry," he promised. "But right now we need to leave."
"Not without my family," Harry said stubbornly.
"They are neither my concern nor my priority, Harry."
Harry tried to move further away from the man but his body could barely support him with the help of the car to lean against.
"I see we'll have to do this the hard way, then," said the Newcomer sounding resigned.
A third roar from the Dragon was heard and this time they both could see the beast in the distance. Each massive wing was flapping hard in the air, bringing it ever closer to them.
"Grab onto me!"
Harry gaped at the man who had all but admitted he wouldn't be taking him back to the Order. "You must be joking!" he cried.
The Newcomer growled in aggravation and grabbed Harry around his bare midsection, this time not sparing caution for the injured ribs.
Harry cried out in surprise as an explosion of hot air and flames erupted around him. In his mind he knew that the car must have exploded as they were aparating away, and that he was alone in the world.
In the air, a bewildered and inconvenienced dragon let out a roar of outrage at having its prey evade it.
At the same time, deep within the bowels of 12 Grimmauld Place, there was a disturbing argument brewing. In the converted basement/kitchen Arthur Weasley had constructed a large circular table so that every member of the Order of the Phoenix's Inner Circle could see each other equally. Mad-Eye Moody and Minerva McGonagall had just arrived with Bill Weasley and now the meeting was about to begin. Today's gathering would be a large factor on the fate of the Order of the Phoenix's future and who would decide it. With Dumbledore gone the position of leader was empty and desperately needed to be filled.
Despite her many protestations of taking over her oldest friends' position, Minerva McGonagall was still the majority of the Order members' choice for the new leader. Minerva had already said that running Hogwarts was going to be time consuming enough and absolutely refused to take the position. While many people thought this was a plausible explanation, others thought it was because she was still grieving over Albus Dumbledore's death.
Another candidate to take over Dumbledore's position was Mad-Eye Moody himself. While it was true that Mad-Eye had a great many roles in leadership positions in the past and he knew more about Wizarding war tactics than anyone else in the Order, many people just couldn't stand taking orders from the deranged and highly paranoid ex-Auror. The problem was people didn't trust his judgment enough to give their lives for him.
There were a few that thought Harry Potter might take over the Order of the Phoenix but there were too many members against that idea. In fact, the strongest voices against Harry's leadership were Molly and Arthur Weasley, who had known the boy the longest.
Remus Lupin's name was tossed into the air several times but shot down almost immediately. The fact was that three nights out of every month, and the weeks before and after, the Order's leader would be defenseless and dangerous to everyone around him. It would be too easy to cut off the "head" of the Order during those three days.
Several other names had been tossed around including Arthur Weasley, Kingsley Shacklebolt and the eldest Weasley boys. There were so many valid points for one candidate yet so many equally negative ones. There was simply no way to win. Dumbledore had had power and knowledge. He was a born leader, had proven himself against Grindelwald, and there was simply no way to replace him. But unfortunately they had to do it… today.
But with such indecision the Order felt they needed a new way to select a leader. Albus, ever the strategist, had planned for such an event.
"As Albus Dumbledore has instructed," started Minerva McGonagall, "I will lead today's meeting and then our newly chosen leader will take over for the next."
The assembled group nodded their heads and waited for the Headmistress to begin working on the ritual but to their surprise she did not. Instead she waited for every head in the room to be turned towards her before beginning again.
"I would like to begin today's meeting with a moment of reflective silence for Albus," she said personably to the group. "He gave so much to us that I feel it only right. If you could all please…"
The group took out their wands and raised them to their own temples and began to hum. When every eye in the room was closed Minerva crossed the room to the closed cabinet located there. With a quiet Alohomora the doors clicked open and she retrieved the object she desired. Before the humming ended completely she had relocked the cabinet doors and placed the object in front of the person standing directly beside her, Arthur Weasley.
Arthur opened his eyes and slowly pulled the wand away from his temple. Attached to the tip of the wand was a cloud of pale floating liquid that he led into the bowl below him. Next he slid the bowl to his wife, who was next to him, and sat back down on his hard wooden seat. Slowly, one by one, every member of the Order extracted a memory and placed it lovingly into the pensieve that McGonagall had retrieved. Finally there was only Minerva McGonagall to go and she took the most time. Nearly ten minutes past before she found the perfect memory of the man she held as her closest friend and placed it in the pensieve.
When Minerva was done she silently moved the pensieve into the storage cabinet where it would sit until the fight of the Order of the Phoenix was done. Minerva remembered how nearly 16 years ago Albus and the surviving Order members had retrieved the pensieve and watched together the memories of the ones they had lost during the battles. It was, in the Wizarding world, the final act of closure for a group such as themselves. And here they were starting the fight all over again…
"Minerva?" called a tentative and sympathetic voice from her left.
Minerva McGonagall turned to look into the eyes of Nymphadora Tonks, her former pupil and current Auror. Minerva smiled and brought her thoughts back to the here and now, where they were needed most. She saw the concerned looks that her fellow members were giving her and knew she must have been in quiet thought for some time. Nodding her thanks to Tonks she stood and raised her wand.
A brilliant blue flame shot out of the tip and stopped in the dead center of the room. It began to twirl and move, completely oblivious to the air currents, and continued to do so. Minerva summoned the phoenix feather that Hagrid had found among Dumbledore's possessions and with a thought sent it shooting into the blue flame. An explosion like fireworks erupted; sparks flew everywhere but didn't burn what they touched. Instead, they were snapped back into the flame from wherever they landed, the flame turning a violently red color. Minerva nodded to her fellow Order members and those that wished to become a leader stood from their seats.
Arthur, Bill and Charlie Weasley practically stood as one. Mad-Eye was slower but was followed, out of respect, by Kingsley Shacklebolt. Minerva gave it another thirty seconds in case others needed to gather up their courage but when no one else stood she sat down. After another ten seconds Minerva stood again to indicate that she too wanted to be a leader. She barely noticed the mixture of pleased and shocked faces that she had chosen to do so, especially after she had denied vehemently to take over.
Those that were standing each used a single thought to create the next step of the ritual. A knife appeared in each candidate's hand and without hesitation they drew deep cuts into their left palms. The blood from each candidate flowed along an invisible track in the air directly from them to the red flame. When the last of the blood trails connected with the flame, it changed to a deep plum color.
A single thought was echoed through the minds of those standing: Who will it be?
Without warning, the purple flames lit the blood trails on fire which raced back to the candidates so quickly no one had time to defend themselves. The flames burned the blood trails to nothingness and then seeped into the open wound sealing each of them with a burning hiss. Those standing screamed in agony as the last of the flames seared and scarred their flesh with a painful burn.
Minerva looked down at her palms and saw the Roman numeral "I" branded onto her left hand where her wound had been. Inspired by an idea she grabbed Arthur Weasley's hand and confirmed her suspicions. She raced around the room looking at everyone's hand and when she finally came back to her seat the whole room was in uproar. Molly Weasley was magically wrapping her husbands' hand in a cloth. Bill and Charlie were muttering to each other about the possible interpretations of the new scars. Mad-Eye Moody looked rather appalled at having been "tricked" into some kind of Dark spell and was furiously telling his neighbors about it. Kingsley Shacklebolt was speaking to Tonks and Remus Lupin about his new "birthmark".
McGonagall cleared her throat once, and when people continued to talk she decided to use a tactic that she reserved for intolerably gossip filled first years. Using her thought magic she raised her wands and the sound of nails screeching down a chalkboard filled the room. Finally they turned to her and she stopped.
"Now that we've all settled down" she said sternly, "I believe it is time to discuss what's happened. If we could all sit, please."
"Why did it burn us, Minerva?" asked Arthur.
"Because it was Dark magic, Weasley!" cried Moody, "We've all been duped into it by her!"
"Oh shush, Mad-Eye!" rebuked Molly Weasley, "I've had enough of your complaining about Minerva! Honestly you act like such a child sometimes!"
Minerva didn't think Molly Weasley, of all people, could ever make the word 'child' sound like such an insult. Mad-Eye sat back down on his chair and Minerva could have sworn she heard him mutter something about being "in cahoots."
"If all those who were candidates would please show their hands" she instructed as one by one they followed her lead.
"Your left hand, Charlie!" whispered Molly Weasley across the table to her son.
Minerva almost smiled.
"As you can see we each have been given Roman numerals," she pointed out.
The group looked to each hand and nodded their agreement of the observation before Tonks found the flaw.
"But I thought the next in line was the only one to be marked."
Minerva smiled, "When using the regular ingredients, yes. But since we had a phoenix feather with us the results were more than expected."
"More?" asked Moody triumphantly, "I told you it was Dark magic. You never get the proper results when you use it!"
Minerva continued as if he hadn't interrupted, "Not only did it choose the next in line, but it gave us a line of succession. Thus if the current leader is under duress than the next in line will take over and we won't have to repeat the spell at a later date."
"Does it start at 'one' and go to 'six', or the other way around?" asked Charlie hesitantly.
"I'm not sure," confessed Minerva.
"Who has 'one' and who has 'six'?" asked Molly.
"I have 'one'," declared Minerva with a faint blush that only her closest neighbors could see.
"I have 'six'," said Charlie Weasley..
"That settles it," said Bill with a grin and a wink at his younger brother, "It goes one to six."
Charlie smacked him in the head.
Their antics had helped lightened the mood considerably.
"Very well then," said Arthur, "Minerva is our new Order leader. Agreed?"
A chorus of 'agreed' followed except for one noticeable voice.
"Alastor?" said Arthur archly.
"Fine," said Moody gruffly, after a pause in which every Order member had glared at him.
The mood was broken as the portrait that housed the long since deceased but never silenced mother of Sirius Black began to shriek bloody murder.
Footsteps pounded down the stairs leading to the meeting room, and the door was thrown open wide.
Ron Weasley stormed into the room, frantic and panting attempting to catch his breath. A distraught Hermione Granger followed shortly behind him.
"Ron?" asked Molly Weasley, the trepidation evident in her voice.
"It's Harry," he panted out, doubled over in pain.
The Order members were on their feet in seconds.
"Potter?" someone asked.
"What's happened?" another demanded.
Similar shouts and questions echoed in the small room. Ron looked around wildly trying to answer.
Finally Hermione Granger stepped out from behind her friend and choked out three words.
"They've taken him."
READ & REVIEW PLEASE!!!
The second chapter will be up within the next day or so but ONLY because this chapter acts more like a prologue than a full chapter. However, it is important to note that after this, all updates will occur on the first weekend of each month. The way this will work is that I will write a chapter ahead at all times, so I can always guarantee an update on time (or at least give plenty of notice if it's going too slowly AKA two months notice). Check my author's page for my progress. If I ever get ahead of the game writing-wise than I may post a chapter sooner than the one month mark.
I can guarantee that the more reviews I get (either positive or constructively negative) will make the writing easier. Hint, blatant hint.
This really should have been said first but special thanks to my wonderful beta Vira (niffler87 to all of you) for all her hard work, her support in this endless endeavor, and above all else, her ability to tear my work apart in a way that's impossible to hate her for. Thanks, Love.
The mention of Blockbuster by the Newcomer during the bridge scene is a tribute to the Bill Murray movie "The Man Who Knew Too Little." I recommend it to all of you. Just make me a mental promise that you'll watch the Hitchcock original "The Man Who Knew Too Much" first. They're both wonderful films, I promise.
As for fansites I'll be posting at... I am currently looking for another good site to post the story. If anyone has any suggestions on where to post I'd love to hear them. Fiction Alley and I have long since parted ways over some minor disagreements I have with their lack of "author friendliness". To their credit, I've heard from various sources that they've been working on these issues, so I may return to them at some point in the future. Maybe. Again, if anyone has any other suggestions on where to post, I'd love to hear them.
I understand you have a lot of choices when it comes to reading experiences and I can only hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoy writing it ;)