― CHAPTER SEVENTY-SIX ―

Jaquenetta apparated with Tonks back to Hogsmeade later that night, as it was her first night on patrol duty for the Order at Hogwarts. Since walking out on the last meeting she had attended Jaquenetta had not been contacted for any official duty which, with just beginning her training at the hospital, she was not disappointed about. While Tonks will be stationed at Hogsmeade for the duration of the school year along with three other Aurors - Proudfoot, Savage and Dawlish – other members of the Order would be occasionally substituted to provide them with respite. The new Minister for Magic Rufus Scrimgeour had surprisingly agreed to this suggestion by Dumbledore. As all four Aurors had been on duty during the day, ensuring the safe passage of all the Hogwarts students onto school grounds, Jaquenetta had been called upon to patrol the vast grounds of Hogwarts for the night.

Jaquenetta was pleased to see, when she made it to the front gate, that it was Proudfoot she would be taking over from. When Tonks had mentioned to her that Dawlish was among the Aurors stationed at Hogsmeade she had stopped dead in her tracks, consumed with images of Professor McGonagall lying prone on the ground after being hit by numerous stunners. Dawlish was one of the Aurors with Umbridge that day and Jaquenetta did not trust herself to keep the promise she made that night to Madam Pomfrey.

'Ah, Siroun! Am I glad to see you' Proudfoot said as he tried to stifle a yawn.

'Thought you might want to finish before curfew' Jaquenetta replied as she waited for Proudfoot to remove the wards on the gate. To allow Order members to supplement the Aurors Scrimgeour was adamant that only the Professors and Aurors knew of the specific wards guarding the front gate, and Jaquenetta was not going to allow them to think otherwise. It was just one of many things Jaquenetta had insured Dumbledore showed her and as she said her farewell to Proudfoot and made her way around the grounds Jaquenetta recalled the meeting not one week ago…

'Please come in Miss Siroun'

Jaquenetta pushed the wooden door open and quietly entered the room. No matter how much time passed, no matter how many times she visited, she was still unable to truly fathom the remarkableness of the room. As Jaquenetta sat in the offered seat she could not help but notice that every one of the portraits that hung in the Headmasters Office were empty.

'Thank you for agreeing to meet with me, especially as Healer Smethwyck is no doubt keeping you busy in your first few months.'

Jaquenetta had almost not come to Hogwarts that afternoon wanting to have nothing more to do with the Headmaster outside of the Order. However a small part, the part that was still furious with him and wanted to berate the man for the secrets he kept and lies he told, won out and Jaquenetta found herself apparating to Hogsmeade the Monday before term began.

'Yes' Jaquenetta replied.

'I thought it best if we had some privacy today' Dumbledore said, waving his hand in the general direction of the blank portraits after noticing Jaquenetta's puzzled expression as she looked at them.

Jaquenetta was trying to answer the Headmaster but was finding it difficult to look the elder Wizard in the eye let alone reciprocate in dialogue. However she eventually formed the words that she had been wanting to speak for so long.

'You should have done things differently.'

With a solemn expression Dumbledore nodded 'Yes, I do agree with you.'

Jaquenetta was silent for a few moments, she had decided not long after the Department of Mysteries that she could not simply sit on the knowledge that she has without trying to use it to help Harry, Ron, and Hermione. Jaquenetta was unsure as of yet how she was going to accomplish this but she had already made up her mind that she was not going to share this information with Dumbledore. However there were some things that needed to be put into place.

'The reason I agreed to come today' Jaquenetta began 'is that I wanted to discuss with you some precautions.'

The conversation was never going to be an easy one but after an hour Jaquenetta had left Dumbledore's office satisfied that he would organise that which she had requested. At first Jaquenetta was certain that she would be seeking out changes that Dumbledore was already in the process of doing, for instance leaving the snitch to Harry in his will and his copy of The Tales of Beedle the Bard, with a slight annotation of course. However when Jaquenetta mentioned the Deluminator there was hint of recognition.

Convincing Dumbledore it was possible was definitely the hardest part of that…

Jaquenetta made her way across the grounds towards the East Tower and looked up, marvelling at the owls flying in and out of the Owlery. Jaquenetta imagined all of the eager first years wanting to send a letter home before curfew, perhaps some due to homesickness and others to appease their mothers. Jaquenetta had only been up there once before, when Hermione had asked her to send a letter to Rita Skeeter, but it was a sight she wouldn't forget. A floor of straw and owl droppings, if it wasn't for the draft coming in through all of the window openings it would have smelt quite appallingly.

As Jaquenetta looked towards the tower, searching for anything out of place, she spotted an almost completely white owl leave through one of the window openings. Unlike the other owls that left for their destination almost immediately, this owl began circling the tower. Jaquenetta stopped walking and watched the white owl soar around the tower more than a dozen times before flying off. After a few beats of its wings it arched southward in a glide.

Jaquenetta watched transfixed as the owl grew larger, and its altitude seemed to drop. This puzzled Jaquenetta as she was almost certain the owl would need to regain height if it was to make it over the stone wall of the perimeter, but for all she knew it could have been sent on delivery to someone inside the castle. The light was gradually fading as the sun set behind the castle but as the owl kept steady on its course Jaquenetta began to move on and continue her patrol, thinking no more of the owl.

Until the owl landed on her shoulder.

It was not the claws of the owl that caused Jaquenetta the most pain, but rather the stunner to the chest that followed not a moment afterwards, which sent her flying backwards into the cold hard ground.

As Jaquenetta succumbed to unconsciousness the last thing she heard was the familiar hoot of Hedwig as the owl nipped at her fingers.