Chapter 1 Weighing the Options
The cold April air swirled around the deserted street like a whisper. It pushed its cold fingers into the smallest cracks of the old houses that lined the street. Windows rattled and doors creaked as the wind blew and tore at homes that had long since been condemned and forgotten.
Despite the deserted paths and roads there was an unmistakable feeling of waiting in the atmosphere. It was as if even the old run down street knew that something was going to happen, and before long something did.
From behind a faded brown house that over several years of neglect had been stripped of all its paint, a man appeared. He wore a long dark cloak that was covered in dust and what looked like blood. His eyes carried a haunted look as he quickly glanced from left to right as though watching for something. After a few tense moments the figure started forward walking purposely towards a faded yellow hovel where the top floor had collapsed. When the man reached the house he froze by the door as the harsh sound of sirens pierced the night.
Even the magical headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix can't completely muffle the sirens and screams from the muggle neighborhood thought Auror James Potter as he entered the neglected and decrepit shack.
After passing Alastor Moody, who insisted on asking several paranoid questions to verify his identity, James made his way to the back room. Several Order members waved and called out greetings as he entered and went to take a seat by his wife. James gave a tired wave, but didn't take the time to stop and talk. It had been a long day.
There had been three separate raids on muggle towns throughout the day. The Auror department had been at their wits end trying to find enough wizards to go and help at each location. James had not been expecting to be called in. He was still in the last year of his Auror training, and all his field experiences were still supposed to be monitored and supervised, but circumstances didn't allow it. With the war raging there was no longer time to be trained and then allowed to fight; training was now a learn as you go experience: no classrooms, no papers, and all tests were pass or die.
James liked to think he was better prepared than others, but even he didn't kid himself into thinking it was enough. There was never a way to be prepared enough.
Stifling a yawn that reminded him that he'd been working since four that morning, James fell into his chair exhausted. He wanted to go home. He wanted to go home and spend some time with his wife, but unfortunately that wasn't an option.
Dumbledore had called an Order meeting, and as an Order member it was his duty to attend.
Thinking of the unexpected Patronus message that had called this meeting caused James' mind to linger on darker thoughts.
'What are we going to discuss tonight?' he mulled.
'Maybe we'll have to listen to another list of names of friends who've died since the last meeting, or the number of muggles we weren't able to protect.'
James was brought out of his dark and depressing thoughts as his wife Lily squeezed his hand. It was as though she had pressed a pressure release button, for James felt his entire body relax at her touch.
'Merlin she's beautiful' James thought for what might have been the millionth time. He returned her squeeze and gave her a weak smile. It never ceased to amaze him how just being near her made everything seem better.
Leaning over into her embrace, James quickly stole a kiss before bringing his hand to rest on the tiny bump of her stomach.
'In just four and a half more months I'm going to be a dad.'
This thought brought a real smile to his face.
Who would have ever thought that something so wonderful could happen when things were so horrible? When Lily had first told him that she was going to have a baby James had gone into shock. The idea of raising a child in the middle of a war weighed down on him like a chain, but as each day passed the idea of his and Lily's child came to be more and more his focus, his strength, and his reason to keep fighting and not give up.
Banishing the darker thoughts of the world and the war for the moment James focused all his attention on the idea of his baby.
'I hope it's a girl' he thought to himself as he ran his fingers up and down Lily's stomach. Lily had repeatedly refused to find out if the baby was a girl or a boy "Where would be the fun in that?" And despite James' attempts to bribe, sneak and swindle the information out of the healers at Saint Mungos he too was still in the dark as to which it would be.
As a result of not knowing if the baby was a boy or girl, Lily, the marauders and a good portion of the Order had all placed bets. For James and Lily the stakes were the right to choose the babies' name… For everyone else it was a large sum of galleons which had been Fabian and Gideon's idea and a large case of fire whisky which had been Sirius'.
James had already picked out what his daughter would be called… that is if he was right and it was a daughter. "Calla Lilly, that's what we'll call her, it's the perfect name for a daughter, especially Lily's daughter." He thought to himself
Lily arched an eyebrow at the dazed look James was wearing.
'It's as though she can read my mind' he thought. 'It seems she's still firm in her belief that the baby is going to be a boy.'
Her raised eyebrow however soon arched down in a look of concern as she spotted the drying blood on James' cloak.
"James you're hurt!"
"It's a scratch Lily, nothing serious. You can fix me up when we get home."
"Did a Death Eater…"
"No." James interrupted before she could finish the question.
In all actuality it had been a Death Eater's curse, but he knew how much that truth would bother Lily and how, if she knew the truth, she would stay awake tonight imagining what could have happened.
"I tripped into a broken window and it gave me a nice cut on the stomach." James lied in a casual voice
"You tripped?" Lily asked in a voice that clearly showed that she did not believe a word of what he said."
"Yes. There were a lot of poles and rocks and stuff on the ground…Don't look at me like that. It is perfectly normal to fall when the ground is chaotic. "
"If it was Sirius who told me that story James I might believe him… might… but you're not that clumsy."
"Maybe he's rubbing off on me Lils. Besides you know Sirius would never admit to tripping into a window. He'd say he got slashed by a troll." James shot back with a cheeky grin.
Lily merely shook her head. But James could tell she was grateful to not have to know the whole truth.
"Speak of the devil…" James smile grew as he saw his best friend walk in and walk towards them. Another knot of tension eased at seeing Sirius had also survived today's attacks.
Sirius came over and plopped himself down into the chair next to James.
"Did you hear that Edgar Bones was killed in the raids today?"
"He was part of my team. We were putting out fires in Bristol. Death Eaters hit him from behind with the killing curse while he was levitating a little muggle girl out of one of the buildings."
"Did they manage to save the girl?"
"No. It happened too fast. She fell. I saw it happen but I was too far away to do anything."
"Oh Padfoot…Has anyone told Ed's wife and sister?"
"I just got back from doing it."
"How're they doing?"
"About as well as can be expected. They were both devastated. His sister Mary kept insisting on knowing the little girls' name. She wouldn't let me leave until I told her."
"Why would she ask something like that?"
"I have no idea. I just know that she kept repeating it over and over after I left. Susan, Susan. I think I now hate the name Susan. I don't know what is going to happen to his wife and kids now. The Death Eaters are likely to target them now that Ed's out of the picture. I'm going to recommend tomorrow that the ministry assign them a guard.
Sirius sighed and bent over lowering his head into his lap
"Are you going to be okay Padfoot?" The look on Sirius' face was enough to cause alarm. James could understand a bit what he was going through. Ed Bones had been one of their favorite teachers in the Auror program, but he had taken a specific liking to Sirius and had insisted on being his field trainer.
"Maybe, I'm definitely going to be hitting the fire whiskey tonight though. Are you going to join me?"
"No he isn't Sirius." Lily interrupted tears shining in her eyes at the account she had just heard. "He's coming home with me. I haven't seen him since yesterday. You will just have to go with Remus and Peter."
"Ah come on Lils. Peter can barely handle two shots, and Remus is nearing his time of the month."
"What does that have to do with anything Sirius?" Remus asked scowling as he sat down next to him.
"Hey Moony." James said with a half-smile that didn't reach his eyes. Silently he felt another knot of tension leave as he saw that yet another of his friends was okay. That's two of them he thought; just one left.
"Hi James… So Sirius what was that I was hearing about my time of the month?"
"Moony, I hate to have to tell you this but a wasted werewolf isn't a pretty sight. The last time you got drunk close to a full moon you started sniffing the bartender."
"I did not."
"Actually Moony" James cut in, "you did. But don't worry. That's nothing compared to that time in seventh year when Sirius…"
But James didn't have time to finish this exceptionally embarrassing story which involved Filch, the Heimlich maneuver and a bathtub full of pistachio pudding, because Dumbledore had just entered the room to start the meeting.
The rest of the Order settled down and a huffing Peter who had entered right as Dumbledore was about to start scuttled over to where they were sitting trying to hide the blush that had crept into his cheeks at being the center of attention.
"Cutting it close mate." James said smiling as he greeted his somewhat careless fiend, as he felt that one last knot unclench.
"Sorry, I went in the wrong building again." James chuckled. Peter never changed. Looking up as Professor Dumbledore cleared his throat. James quickly blanked his expression and prepared himself for what was coming.
"I'm sure you are all wondering why I asked you to come here tonight" Dumbledore began.
"I apologize for the time as I know that all of you are tired. I realize that many of you have worked long hours due to the Death Eater raids, but there are several things that we must discuss, and seeing as the Death Eaters are now just as tired as we are, we have a small window of time where we can converse. I do not know when or if we will be able to have a full order meeting again with things the way they are, so I will not waste the time that we have now. That being said there are three items of importance which we need to discuss tonight. One is regarding Voldemort, the other is regarding the Order and the last item needs a bit of explaining."
Many of the Order had shifted uncomfortably as Dumbledore said Voldemort's name, and James had to fight his reaction as well.
It was now a confirmed rumor that Voldemort had jinxed the use of his name. It was now considered a wizard taboo. In the last few months many Order members and ministry workers had unknowingly summoned Death Eaters to their houses and been tortured and killed as a result. Even here in the one place it was safe to say the name due to all the wards and protective spells the name caused fear.
'I never thought there'd come a day when I would be afraid of a name.' James thought. Sirius caught his eye and gave a small shrug that seemed to say he understood what James was thinking.
Ignoring the upset he had caused Dumbledore continued on as though nothing had happened. "Voldemort's activities recently have been largely centered on large attacks such as the ones that occurred today. However I have some very disturbing news that these attacks have been staged so as to distract the Ministry's attention from other more subtle movements. It has come to our attention that over the past few months Voldemort has been negotiating with the Dementors for their allegiance and as of this morning the dementors have left their positions in Azkaban and have joined his ranks."
James gulped. This was not good. True he couldn't say he was exactly surprised, but Dementors were a powerful ally for Voldemort, and a terrible enemy that they would now have to fight against too. No, this was not good at all.
"Moreover," Dumbledore said in a somewhat louder voice so as to be heard over the mumbles and hushed voices of the Order members, "while this was taking place several Death Eaters broke into the ministry holding cells and freed all of the prisoners that were awaiting trial. As you might well guess several Aurors and Ministry workers were killed in the process and Voldemort has now supplemented his numbers."
The Order was in an uproar. James felt like he was going to throw up. Over the last month and a half they had painstakingly tracked down over twenty Death Eaters, loosing several friends and family members in the process. James' own father and mother had been killed just a month ago helping to bring in Mulciber and Avery Sr. Knowing now that both killers were free and out killing again made it seem as though his parents' sacrifice had been meaningless.
Maybe Barty Crouch was right. Maybe they should just toss them in Azkaban without all the ceremony. Then they could worry about the trails latter when things had calmed down.
Burying his head in his hands James had to fight for each breath as Lily rubbed his back while hiccupping on her own sobs. It was a nightmare.
Dumbledore once again continued speaking almost at a shout this time so as to be heard over the noise. He seemed determined to get everything out at once. "There is more. We already know of Voldemort's other recruiting efforts with the giants and werewolves, however I now must inform you all of another worrisome enemy we may be facing." Everyone froze what more could they be facing now?
"This is the news regarding the Order which I mentioned at the beginning of this meeting. This is an enemy I had hoped never to encounter and pains me to mention, nevertheless it must be addressed. It has recently come to my attention that we may have a spy within the Order who is passing on information of where Order members are hiding and of the information we have been able to gather on Voldemort and his plans."
Instead of another uproar, this announcement was met by a heavy silence and uneasy eyes searching one another. It was a thought that many of them had entertained as their ranks seemed to shrink with each new meeting… but it was also a thought they had shied away from voicing.
Could it be that someone here was really a Death Eater? It seemed unfathomable. They had all been through so much together. There was no one in the room that James did not trust with his life. Frank Longbottom seemed to be thinking along the same lines because he was the first to speak out.
"Albus are you absolutely sure? I can't imagine anyone here ever willingly serving You Know Who. Is it possible that the information leaked out some other way or that someone is under the Imperius curse?"
Dumbledore sighed "I am afraid that the evidence is rather convincing leaving little room for any other conclusion. I do not say this to cause division or to create suspicion; however, I feel we must have our eyes open to the possibility. You are right Frank to point out that this might be a mistake but I want all of us to be on our guard regardless. At this time I will hear no accusations unless there is concrete evidence to support them. I do not wish this suspicion to tear the Order apart. However, I will ask you to have, as our dear Alastor puts it, constant vigilance at all times and to let me know if you see or hear anything suspicious."
'This meeting seems to be going from bad to worse,' James thought locking eyes with his wife. He knew she was thinking the same thing. Everything was wrong. The whole world had gone wrong and James was scarred to think that there was nothing that could put it back in order again. They were losing hold of all the control they had worked so hard to gain and now everything was starting to fall apart. It felt hopeless.
Many other Order members seemed to be thinking along the same lines. Several were shaking their heads others crying openly. What were they going to do?
Dumbledore did not interrupt immediately this time but allowed the Order members a few moments to themselves. When the room once again fell into silence he let out a sigh and once again continued addressing them.
The last item of business that I wanted to mention tonight is a matter of some delicacy and, as I mentioned before, requires a bit of explaining. I am hesitant to bring it up but the events of today have moved me to believe that it is necessary. I feel it is now expedient to discuss the latest information that our charms researcher Lily Potter unraveled a few days ago."
At this everyone in the room turned to look at Lily, including James. Lily had a look of shock and fear on her face and she was frantically shaking her head.
The look on his wife's face worried James. He had known she had been working on translating a complex spell for Dumbledore for the last few months but she hadn't told him that she had finished the translation or what it was that she had discovered.
'What information could Lily have uncovered that was of such importance that Dumbledore would discuss it in a full Order meeting?'
As if anticipating the unsaid question Dumbledore continued.
"The information Mrs. Potter translated came from an ancient charms tome which I discovered a few months ago in a room at Hogwarts that I have been unable to locate again. This room was bare save for the book.
Just before finding the room and the book I had been desperately trying to think of a way to defeat Voldemort. It is my belief that Hogwarts was trying to help me find a solution. Three nights ago Lily contacted me with the translation of a very powerful spell that may help us defeat Voldemort once and for all."
Dumbledore paused here as the Order members digested this information. After all the horrible news they had already received tonight this was the most difficult to take in. Many had shocked looks on their faces, others, like Sirius, had predatory grins. Only one had a look of fear and unease, and that was Lily who was still shaking her head as though trying to pretend this wasn't happening.
"The spell," Dumbledore continued, "in essence would make a rip in time and space and bring an individual from another world into our world. This individual would have the power to defeat Voldemort."
Sirius jumped up a slightly crazed and accusatory look on his face. "Then why in Merlin's name haven't you used it yet? If you would have used it earlier this Super wizard or whatever he is could have already taken out Voldemort and the attacks of today never would have happened."
Dumbledore fixed Sirius with a piercing stare which seemed to wilt Sirius back into his chair. "While this seems to be a simple decision to you Mr. Black, it is, in truth a very complicated matter. In casting the spell we will undoubtedly summon a being capable of defeating Voldemort, but it is very possible that in casting this spell we may bring an even darker wizard into our world than the one we have now."
Sirius slunk even further into his chair at these words. Nodding to himself Dumbledore went on.
"It is also possible that the individual we bring here will be angry and hostile towards us. We will, in all reality be ripping this individual away from his home and family while making it impossible for him to return unless he defeats Voldemort. It is something that if done to any one of us would no doubt cause us to be less than friendly towards those responsible. There is no doubt that this spell is selfish and one could go as far as to say cruel. It is for these reasons I am unsure how to move forth in regards to the matter." Dumbledore paused here as if lost in thought.
"So why bring it up at all Albus?" Frank Longbottom inquired.
"I bring it up because I do not wish to have the responsibility of this decision fall entirely on myself. Power of this sort is a dangerous thing. It is a decision that is too big for me to make. No one person should have the right to make a decision that will influence the entire future of our world. I have therefore decided that this should be a decision for the Order as a whole.
And so I pose the question to all of you: Should we cast this spell and summon someone here who can defeat Voldemort; bearing in mind that he himself may end up being worse than Voldemort, or should we continue to work for the defeat of Voldemort on our own?
Questions for reviewers:
It was my intention in this chapter to show the desperate condition of the Order. I rewrote the chapter with this in mind were you convinced? Why or why not?
This fan-fiction in Cannon, meaning I wish all characters to be in character. Are they?