I apologize for taking so long to write this chapter, but rather than waste time trying to explain, I'll let this chapter speak for itself.
Chapter 8: I Just Can't Live a Lie
"No! You can't be serious!" Mum yelled.
"I'm sorry Molly, but you knew this arrangement was not permanent," an older, unfamiliar voice replied.
The shouting—or rather discussion, as his mum would say—caused three-year old Ron to stir in the nursery of the Burrow. He had continually asked his mum for his own room ever since Bill left for Hogwarts and left a room vacant, but he hadn't expected her to move him to the attic. Every once in a while, when the darkness got too dark, the noises became too loud, or the twins told him something ridiculously scary right before bedtime (Ron planned on asking Mum in the morning whether spiders actually laid eggs in people's brains), he would secretly go downstairs and climb into the bed his sisters shared.
"That's not the point!" Mum shouted back.
"Of course we knew that," Dad interrupted, probably while putting an arm on her shoulder to comfort her. "It's just that we didn't think you'd want to take Dawn from us so soon."
Ron rolled over to look at Dawn's sleeping form. Although she was just one of the family to everyone involved, you didn't have to look much further than her black hair to see that she was no Weasley. Absentmindedly, Ron reached over and pushed a lock of black hair out of her mouth.
"Yes, but Harry just turned three. He's starting to form memories, and he needs his sister to be with him," the unfamiliar voice said.
"Then bring Harry here! You know there's more than enough love in this house to go around!" Mum shouted.
Harry? Does Dawn have a real brother? Why does he need her more than we need her, Ron thought. Channelling his inner Fred and George, Ron silently crawled out of bed and opened the door a crack, just enough to peak his head out and see into the foyer.
"Molly, you know that just isn't possible," the stranger said. Ron had seen him before—Chocolate Frogs? No, why would someone famous be in his house? The old man had a long beard and wore strange purple robes. "Harry is the boy who lived. The world has changed forever. He can't go into the yard, let alone play on a broom or anything else normal children do without the constant threat of being kidnapped or killed by a former Death Eater. He isn't safe in the magical world."
"He's not safe in the muggle world either!" Mum replied. Boy who lived? Muggle world? "Don't think I haven't been in correspondence with Professor McGonagall and Mrs. Figg. I know all about those people you want to raise my daughter."
"I'm sorry that you feel that way, but you know that this is the safest situation for Harry."
"There are plenty of spells that could protect Harry! Transfigure his hair red and his eyes brown…"
"And explain to all of our neighbours that Ron had a twin we never took out in public?" Dad asked. Mum stared at him angrily, but sighed. "We can't raise Harry as our own without raising suspicion and compromising his safety."
They stood in silence for what seemed like an eternity to the toddler, until Mum croaked out, "I don't want to sacrifice her happiness so he has someone to commiserate with." Ron was shocked to see tears rolling down her eyes. His entire life, he had never seen her cry, not even when she took Bill to the Hogwarts Express.
The other adults most have been surprised too, because it took the old man a moment to speak. "I have decided to tell her relatives that we believe her to be a Squib. They may not treat her as well as you would, but hopefully the belief that she has no magic will allow her to have a somewhat normal childhood."
Squib? Ron turned around to stare at the bed. Ginny was snoring slightly, but her mouth was covered by Dawn's hand. Without waking, Ginny knocked Dawn's hand away. This caused Dawn to slightly stir and blink once or twice before drifting back into deep sleep. Sure, neither of them had yet to show any accidental magic, but he could practically see the magic behind Dawn's bright blue eyes.
"What about Harry? Is it too late to tell them that he's a Squib too?" Dad asked.
The old man shook his head. "I am afraid that I cannot tell them that both children are Squibs. As soon as one of them shows any sign of accidental magic, they will both be scrutinized."
The old man motioned towards the stairs, but Mum thrust her wand into his face. Ron nearly flew back into the room: Mum's wand meant someone was in trouble. Big trouble. The old man was smart, since he instantly backed up to allow her to speak. "I'll only let you take her if I'm allowed to see her."
"I'm afraid that they won't like it if a witch such as yourself demands to see her, even if she is a Squib. They'd probably insist that you take both children and raise them with other magical children, far away from them. If I were to allow you to…"
"I'll hide it. Arthur can get a ministry car, and I'll just go to take her out on her birthday with Ginny." The man was about to speak but Mum gave him a precautionary flick. "Before you speak, I'll remind you that I made a promise to Lily."
"I think your continued involvement in Dawn's life could only be considered beneficial. I don't know if they would allow you to take Harry, but I would recommend that you offer to take him out every time while trying to maintain a distance. If you don't try to take him with you, he might feel resentment, but try too hard and his relatives might try to force you to take the children permanently."
Mum muttered something about a dragety (what's a dragety?) and put her wand away. "I won't let anything bad happen to her." The old man sighed and nodded, motioning again to the stairs. This time, Mum led the way.
Ron's heart suddenly froze. With only moments to act, Ron climbed into bed quickly and wrapped his arms around Dawn in a tight hug. She didn't wake up, even when the door opened and let in the tiniest amount of light from the hallway. Not even when Mum's nearly silent sob's filled the room. Not even when they attempted to pull her out of his grasp. Not even when a wand was pointed at his face and his mum choked out "Dormis" before the world went black.
Ron stumbled into the library about an hour after daily Quidditch practice ended. Harry claimed that the intense daily sessions were to improve the flying and strength of his two novice Beaters, but Ron knew that Harry was just hoping to exhaust Dawn so she would be too tired to spend time with him while they were researching…well, her. The downside was that Ron and Harry were often too tired to spend much time researching, and they had mostly left the work to Hermione.
He crossed into the Restricted Section with a slight nod to Madam Pince, who scowled back briefly. Hermione was, of course, already at their usual table, pouring over the numerous volumes sprawled everywhere, but she was joined Cassie Newton.
"Hey," Ron said as he plopped down on the nearest chair. If every muscle in his body wasn't on fire, he might have made some effort to keep his head up off the table.
"Difficult practice?" Hermione asked without looking up from her book. He groaned in response. "Well, if you want Harry to ease up, you know what we need to do." He groaned his head and picked up the book nearest him, a volume titled Forbidden Magicks of Memory.
"I think I should be going," Cassie announced. "Thanks again for all your help Hermione." She shuffled some books and parchment into her bag and walked out of the Restricted Section.
"Muffliato," Ron muttered while pointing his wand at the entrance. "What was that all about?"
"She needed help on a potions essay. She asked me because I actually know the theories and practices unlike others I know."
"You don't have to give me this lecture Hermione, I'm not the one with the book."
"Yes, but you're benefiting from it, so you ought to hear it anyway."
"Give it a rest Hermione," Harry said as he entered the Restricted Section. "I'm not giving up the book so long as we're spending every free moment here trying to figure out exactly what's going on. Discover anything new?"
Hermione sighed as she closed her current volume. "No, nothing."
"We're bound to find something soon," he repeated.
Hermione nodded and continued leafing through her book, Secrets Societies of the Darkest Art, which Ron had read yesterday. Between the three of them, they'd probably read every book with either "Dark" or "Memory" in the title at least twice. Sighing, Ron put the book down and returned to the shelves to find a new book.
Memory Magic. All three of them had read it. Not particularly helpful.
Mind Altering: A History Most Dark. It had been promising but full of dead ends.
"I just feel like we must be going about this all wrong." Hermione said to no one in particular.
Ron inwardly laughed. He'd felt the same way for a while now, but didn't feel like arguing with his two friends (more than usual anyway, at least in the case of Hermione). It was just impossible to think that his memories of Dawn were somehow falsified when they were his earliest, clearest memories. But somehow, that made the scenario more likely; their clarity was almost suspicious.
"Why would you think that?" Harry replied.
Ron was about to voice his opinion when a book on the highest shelf caught his attention. A History of Secret Magical Societies. At least if he was going to research, it might as well be something mildly interesting. He pulled the book down and turned to a page that someone else had earmarked.
The Order of Dagon and The Knights of Byzantium
Shortly after the founding of Hogwarts, Salazar Slytherin came across a powerful source of pure Magic. Working closely with Rowena Ravenclaw, they discovered that this Magic could be used to alter reality.
"Well, so far we've been focusing on the Dark Arts as a likely cause, but after giving it some thought, I feel like there must be a more logical solution," Hermione explained, but Ron was too engrossed in the book to really participate.
The founders were unsure of what to do with it. Ravenclaw was of the opinion that the Magic should be used to improve the school, and she used the Magic to create the ceiling of the Great Hall, which allowed students to see any sky in the world. Her journals also suggest that she attempted to use the Magic to create a room in the castle that could change its form to whatever was needed most at the time, though this could never be confirmed as more than rumours.
"Why are the Dark Arts illogical?" Harry asked.
"Helga Hufflepuff believed that the Magic was too powerful and should be destroyed, while Slytherin wanted to experiment with the Magic to discover its limits. Godric Gryffindor believed that they had discovered the source of all magic and wanted the Magic contained and preserved.
"Well, spells like the ones in these books require lots of experience in the Dark Arts, which would mean that a Dark Wizard is trying to hurt you somehow," Hermione elaborated.
Though the founders bickered over the Magic, they had agreed to do nothing until they could come to a consensus. But Slytherin believed that they would never agree on a solution and continued his experiments in secret, going to the top of what is now known as the Astronomy Tower every night.
"And that's illogical?" Harry snorted. "I've been hunted by Dark Wizards all my life."
"You've been hunted by one Dark Wizard, and we know it's not Voldemort, right?" Hermione retorted.
Slytherin managed to use the Magic accomplish great feats. He created food out of nothing, developed spells that could kill, torture and control others, and even reanimated a dead animal. But one night, Slytherin managed to tear a hole in the fabric of reality.
"Yeah, Dumbledore made it clear that he didn't cast this spell."
A gateway to another reality opened, causing the darkest creatures to flood the earth: Dementors. The portal continued expanding, destroying part of castle. Though Slytherin attempted to close the gateway, it continued expanding, expelling Dementors, and destroying everything it touched. Slytherin realized that if he could not close the gateway, he would destroy the planet.
"Name another Dark Wizard then," Hermione said smugly.
Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, and Ravenclaw rushed to the top of the tower to defend the school. The Dementors began to swarm the castle when the wards broke, and the founders realized their full powers. Students rushed out of the castle walls to fight the creatures, but they were incapacitated by fear and lost their souls. Ravenclaw used the Patronus Charm, which she had developed using the Magic, to repel the creatures. Hufflepuff quickly followed suit and they used the spell to keep the Dementors away from the students.
Slytherin and Gryffindor attempted to reverse the spell, but found that they could not. They desperately attempted to close the gateway, but nothing they tried worked, and they realized that they had minutes before they would be destroyed.
Looking up in despair, Gryffindor realized that the portal lined up perfectly with the planets and stars in the sky: Mars, Mercury, Venus, the moon, and Ceres. Gryffindor had all of the founders combine their prolific powers to push Ceres out of alignment, which closed the portal. Ravenclaw theorized that if Ceres had not been removed, the portal would have continued to grow until either the universe was consumed or the Magic ran out. Ravenclaw estimated that it would be at least a millennia before the planets would align again in that matter.
Gryffindor feared this Magic, which he named The Key and hid it from the rest of the founders. He was afraid to destroy it though, still believing it to be the source of all magic. All four founders were weakened due to the immense power it took to divert disaster, and they hardly found themselves capable of restoring the wards and keeping the Dementors away from the students. Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw both died soon after, and Gryffindor feared that he too was not long for this world.
"Grindelwald," Harry said after a long pause.
"He's in prison for the rest of his life. Name another."
Gryffindor took the Key to a group of muggle mystics for protection, knowing that Slytherin would want the Key for himself and was too proud to consider that Gryffindor could have entrusted it to muggles. He tasked them with watching over the Key and ensuring that the Key would never be used again. According to Gryffindor's final journal, he worked with the mystics to create a spell that would allow them to capture any person, create a doppelganger for that person, hide the Key inside in the doppelganger, and return the doppelganger into society none the wiser, in case someone discovered them and they needed to hide the Key. Gryffindor even developed a means to alter memories to hide the person's temporary disappearance.
He dubbed these mystics the Order of Dagon.
"You can't because there are no others!" Hermione nearly shouted after several minutes. "And even if there was another, why would they try to kill you if you're their best hope for killing Voldemort?"
Slytherin still believed that the Key could be used to change the world. So, he gathered his knights and tasked them with finding the Key and returning it, using whatever means necessary. He called them the Knights of Byzantium.
Before both men died, they tipped their hands and revealed the opposing societies. The Knights of Byzantium sought the Order of Dagon to return their Key to magical society with the hopes of changing the world, and the Order of Dagon hid the Key with their lives.
"So what should we be looking for?"
Hermione sighed again. "That I'm not so sure of."
Ron turned the page of the book. Both societies have practically disappeared over the ages, although both are still believed to be active. The only evidence of their continued existence is the Book of Tarnis, which suggests that The Order of Dagon have refined their spell so they could use the Key to alter realty by creating an entirely new person to hide the key inside. They even refined Gryffindor's spell so they could warp everyone's memories to include this new person. Thus, they could hide the Key practically anywhere in the world, and place it in the protection of the world's strongest by having them belief that the Key was their child, spouse or sibling.
A new person? Warping everyone's memories? Believe that the Key was a sibling? Could Dawn have been created by some ancient society to carry around this Key?
"I think I know," Ron spoke up suddenly. Hermione and Harry both looked over at him expectantly. "Reality altering."
"Reality altering?" Harry asked as Hermione stood behind Ron and read over his shoulder.
"The Order of Dagon," both said at the same time. Hermione skimmed the pages very quickly before turning the book to Harry.
"I can't believe you found it Ron," Hermione admitted, slightly dumbstruck.
"Neither can I," Ron chuckled.
"How did you find this book?" Hermione asked. "It wasn't on the table, was it?"
"No, it was on the shelves. And, I don't know how I found it. It just caught my eye, I guess."
Harry looked up from the book with a look of horror on his face.
"Harry, what do you think? Does this seem to fit what Dumbledore told you?" Hermione asked.
"I think so…" Harry still appeared lost.
"Are you alright mate?" Ron asked.
"Yeah, I just…I need to figure something out for myself." Harry grabbed his belongings and exited the library in a hurry.
"Why do you think he ran off like that?" Ron asked Hermione.
"How can you be so dense? He just found out that his sister was replaced by some doppelganger that contains this all-powerful Key. I hope we can find the real Dawn."
"The real Dawn? Didn't you read the second page?"
Hermione paled. "What second page?" She grabbed the book, flipped the page, and read frantically.
"Don't you see, Hermione?"
"Dawn isn't a doppelganger, she's an entirely new person. They made us think that she's always been in our lives."
"You don't think Harry skipped that page too?"
Hermione jumped out of her seat and grabbed her wand. "There's no time to find out. Harry probably thinks that Dawn isn't his real sister. I don't know what he plans on doing, but you need to find her and get him to back down before he does something he'll regret."
'I have no idea where she is! And if Harry has the map, he'll find her before I do!"
"After Quidditch practice, she usually goes to the Room of Requirement to practice some spells with Neville. The map can't see into there, so if you hurry you might make it there before he realizes where she is."
"No pressure…" Ron mumbled.
"I'll try and get Professor Dumbledore. I'm afraid Harry might do something drastic."
Ron simply nodded and started sprinting towards the seventh floor. His entire body ached from practice, but he knew that he had to protect Dawn. Whatever she was, she was still his sister.
Harry hardly had time to cover himself with the Invisibility Cloak and pull out the Marauder's Map before he saw Ron running out of the library. Hermione followed him not too shortly thereafter, sprinting in the opposite direction. No doubt Ron was looking for him and Hermione was rushing to tell Dumbledore that they finally had a theory as to what had happened. A brief look at the map confirmed his suspicions.
Some ancient society captured his sister and replaced her with a doppelganger that held what Gryffindor believed to be the source of all magic.
Who knows how long the real Dawn had been missing? Or where she was? Or whether she was still alive.
Ron seemed to have taken the news well. Perhaps he would feel differently if it had been his sister who had been replaced by a doppelganger.
Harry shook his head. Hermione was off to tell Dumbledore, who probably knew of some spell that could confirm whether Dawn was really his sister or just a container for the Key. Something that could see through magical spells…
Dumbledore did know of a spell like that. And he did it in front of Harry.
He pulled out his wand and waved it in the air. "Tirer la Couverture!" he pronounced. He closed his eyes and blinked a few times, expecting that the world would somehow change, but yet nothing happened.
He was about to give up, when he got an idea. Pointing his wand to his glasses, Harry again proclaimed, "Tirer la Couverture." This time when he blinked, the portraits on the walls and the staircases stopped moving, the lights in the castle were unlit, and the ink on the map disappeared. He lifted his glasses and blurry magic returned to the world.
Unfortunately, Harry knew that casting the spell was useless if he couldn't find Dawn. It was hard to read the map without his glasses, but he was sure that Dawn was nowhere to be found. He absentmindedly followed Ron on the map, but saw him suddenly turn away from Gryffindor Tower and disappear off the map. Harry pressed the map close to his face, hoping that the light was playing tricks on him.
Only one thing could cause someone to disappear off the map: the Room of Requirement. Harry put his glasses back on and walked through an eerily still Hogwarts.
Hermione approached the gargoyle that guarded the door to Dumbledore's office. "I need to see Dumbledore!" she explained between breaths. "It's an emergency!"
The gargoyle remained stoic.
"It's a matter of life and death!" Again, the gargoyle didn't move.
"What was the password again? Lemon drop! Candy cane! Ginger snap!" After each phrase, she paused and hesitantly waited for the gargoyle to step aside, but each time she was disappointed.
"Can you at least let him know Hermione Granger is here to see him?" she asked desperately. For the first time, the gargoyle nodded. Moments later, it stepped aside and a magical escalator carried her straight into Dumbledore's office.
"Professor, we have a problem!" Hermione exclaimed before taking inventory. Professor Dumbledore was seated at his desk, flanked by Professor Snape. "But perhaps I'm just exaggerating," she stammered.
"Miss Granger, if this has to do with the research assignment I gave you, then I assure you that whatever you have to say can be said in front of Professor Snape."
She nodded warily but continued. "We think we found the solution: the Order of Dagon." Both professors gave her a confused stare (or rather, a glare in Snape's case), so she summarized the brief history of the Key. "We believe that Dawn was created by the Order of Dagon to hold the Key, and was sent here so Harry would protect her with his life."
Dumbledore stroked his beard and nodded. "That does indeed seem to explain the situation rather well."
"Then what is the problem?" Snape asked slowly.
She sighed. "Harry didn't finish reading the passage," she paused to allow Snape to make a snide remark under his breath, "and he believes that his Dawn was captured and replaced with a doppelganger containing the Key. I'm not sure what he's going to do, but he snuck off, and I think he might hurt Dawn if he thinks she's an imposter."
Dumbledore nodded. "Do you have any idea where Miss Potter might be?"
"She helps Neville with his spell-casting after Quidditch practice. In the Room of Requirement." Hermione paused to allow Snape to make another comment, but he was silent. In fact, he looked confused.
"Go find Dawn. I doubt that Harry will do anything to harm even what he believes to be his sister's imposter." He paused before adding, "Professor Snape will go with you, just in case."
Hermione nodded, and stepped out of the office. Snape went to follow, but lingered in the doorway. "Do you really believe Potter will refrain from taking drastic action?"
The headmaster sighed and rubbed his blackened hand, which Snape had just helped medicate. "Wiser men than Harry have made very similar mistakes."
"Are you sure it's safe to park the car here?" Ron asked his older brothers. The Ford Anglia they probably shouldn't have taken was currently hovering next to a window on the second floor of Number 4 Privet Drive. They assumed this was Harry's bedroom, but mostly because they tried the other windows and had yet to find him. Also, it was the only one with bars, which matched the few descriptions Harry had given him during the year.
"Believe me, this is the safest place to park the car," Fred replied as he engaged the parking brake.
"Because, the next place we park this car is going to be home…" Fred started.
"And Mum'll kill us on the spot," George finished. Ron anxiously gulped, shuddering at the thought.
"Time to wake up Harry!" Fred yelled as he dramatically mimed pushing his hand down on the horn as he turned on the headlights so it shone into the bedroom.
The longer they waited for any signs of life in the room, the more anxious Ron grew. He hadn't heard anything from his best mate all summer, and though he didn't quite trust Errol to deliver a letter, he had been surprised not to see Hedwig even once.
Eventually, there was a shuffling inside and the window opened behind the bars. "Ron? Is that you? How—what…"
"No time Harry," Fred began.
George tossed him some rope. "Attach this to the bars." Harry nodded and tied his end to the bars while George tied his end to the car. "Floor it!" George called as the bars came flying off the wall. They hung from the car awkwardly before George cut them off and they fell into some rose bushes.
Ron jumped into the window (and noticed that some of the siding on the house had come off with the bars in the process) along with his brothers. The two friends gave one another a quick pat on the back.
"Did you get my letters?" Ron blurted out.
Harry responded by shaking his head but Fred held up his hand. "Quiet you two."
"Now, put your trunk in the car and let's get out of here." George continued.
The two twins looked around the room briefly before looking back at Harry. "Where's your trunk?" they asked in unison.
"Downstairs," Harry sighed. "In the cupboard under the stairs. Dawn's in there too."
Fred and George exchanged a glance, but Ron didn't have time to interpret it. They did that often. "We'll get her," Fred stated, pulling out a bobby pin.
"Get the rest of your things into the car while we're gone." They undid the latch on the door in seconds and slinked into the hallway, as though they were on a mission for MI6.
Harry put his owl cage in the trunk of the car and looked around the room slowly before sitting down on the bed. After Ron gave the room a once over, he came to the same conclusion: there was nothing else worth taking. Even though his family was poor, the walls of his bedroom were still covered with Quidditch posters and pictures. Harry's walls were blank, with the only decoration coming from the chipping paint. "About the letters," Harry began.
"It's nothing," Ron said, understanding his friend a little more clearly. "Why's your sister in the cupboard?
Harry sighed. "A house elf levitated a bowl in front of my relatives and they thought it was me."
"So they threw her in a cupboard to punish you?"
"They know it's the only thing that works," he shrugged.
For the first time in his life, Ron was speechless.
The door to the bedroom suddenly opened and the twins slinked back into the room carrying a large trunk, followed by a ghost. No, not an actual ghost, but the black haired girl, wearing one of Ginny's old pale blue dresses, could certainly not exist. For when Ron looked into her bright blue eyes, he saw the younger sister that was taken from them years ago.
Perhaps he hadn't noticed at the train station because of his excitement of going to and coming from Hogwarts, but it was painfully obvious. The girl, Dawn, looked back into his eyes briefly before she shifted her gaze to the floor and bit her lower lip in embarrassment.
"Hello," he said cheerfully as the twins heaved Harry's trunk to the window.
"Hi," she said shyly, her long bangs shifting to block her face.
"Are you Dawn?" he asked, stupidly he thought. Of course she was Dawn, what other girl would be locked in a cupboard in the Dursley's house? But she just nodded, as though it wasn't obvious. "I'm Ron, your brother…your brother's best mate."
"Ginny's brother," she whispered.
A huge grin crossed his face. "Yeah, Ginny's brother." Yours too.
"Ron, what are you doing here?" Dawn asked.
Ron opened his mouth to say something, but nothing but air came out. After running across the castle at top speed, he was panting and gaping for air. To regain his breath, he dropped to one knee.
"Are you alright?" she asked instead.
He nodded furiously and managed to spit out, "Fine!"
Neville reached out and pulled Ron to his feet. "Mate, you don't look so good."
Ron shook off the remark and stared at Dawn for a moment. She seemed concerned, and when he stared into her blue eyes, he had no doubt that they were the blue eyes of his one-time baby sister. He could still see the power behind those eyes, which had been there all along.
"Ron, I think you need to sit down," she said calmly.
"Dawn, you're not safe right now."
"What do you mean?" she asked.
"Ron, what's going on?" Neville demanded.
"Well…you see…I'm not sure how to explain this…" Ron babbled. How was he supposed to gently tell Dawn that her brother thinks that she isn't real and is coming now to figure out where the "real" Dawn is? He wasn't even sure if he fully understood the situation. "Harry is on his way here. And I think he's going to try to hurt you."
"Why?" Dawn asked sceptically.
"I'm not sure if I can explain it quickly. You need to seal off the Room of Requirement until he calms down."
"You have to give us more information mate. Why's Harry upset? Did someone tell him something?"
"More like he read something." Not a lie.
"What did he read?" Dawn pressed.
"A book." Not a lie.
Dawn smacked him offside the head. Not the first time she's done that, but definitely the hardest. "Ever so helpful Ron. If you can't be serious, then leave. Neville was practising his silent spell-casting and he's almost got it."
Ron grabbed her hand and stared deeply inter her blue eyes. "Dawn, I swear to you that I'm being serious."
"Then you need to tell me what's going on."
"I'm not sure I know," he sighed. "It's fishy. Harry's not acting like himself. It's almost as if…"
"Polyjuice Potion," Dawn gasped. Ron's mouth fell open in shock. "I know, it sounds crazy, but I think someone's buying hairs to use for the potion. I heard Zacharias Smith selling some in the bathroom. What if he got some off of Harry?"
Ron's head was spinning. "That must be it." Definitely a lie.
"Who do you think is buying hairs?" Neville asked.
"Well, impersonating Harry would definitely come in handy. Ruin his reputation, deny You-Know-Who's existence…"
"Sorry to interrupt, but you really need to seal the room!" Ron interrupted.
"Who are you trying to keep out?" A new voice asked.
From the middle of the room, a figure appeared out of thin air.
"Harry," Ron cautioned, "we need to talk."
"The time for talking is over Ron."
"Harry," Ron continued pressing, "you didn't finish reading. There's something that I need to tell you."
"What's going on here?" Dawn asked. "Ron, is this really Harry?"
"Whatever you want to tell me, you can say in front of that," Harry gestured to Dawn with his wand raised. From his perspective, behind Tirer la Couverture, all he could see was the glowing green orb standing between Ron and Neville.
"Fine," Ron sighed. "There was another page. You didn't read the whole story, you didn't read about what actually happened. I'll explain it all on the way back to the tower." He took a step forward but Harry didn't lower his wand. Ron went to reach into his pocket, but Harry cut him off.
"Don't Ron. I don't care what the book said, I can see the truth."
"Seriously, what are you two taking about?" Dawn hissed.
"I can't explain. Not now."
"Everything it said about her is true!" Harry yelled. "She's not who—what—you think she is!"
"What book did he read?" Dawn demanded.
"Seriously Dawn, I can't explain."
"He read my diary didn't he?" Dawn turned her attention to her brother, who still had a wand aimed at her. "You read my diary? You promised you wouldn't."
Harry frowned. "You can't keep your secret from me. Where is she?"
"Where's who?" Dawn asked.
"Where is my sister?" Harry demanded.
"I'm… I'm right here," Dawn said hesitantly.
"That's not the answer I'm looking for." Harry cocked his wrist. "I'm going to ask one more time: where is she?"
"Harry, what's wrong with you?"
Harry was about to open his mouth to respond when a blast of red light stunned Harry. A weak Disarming Charm caused his wand to fall out of his hand. When Harry went to reach for it, Neville cried, "Stupefy!" Harry lunged forward to grab his wand, allowing the stunner to sail over him harmlessly.
"Petrificus totalus!" Harry yelled in response. Neville was shocked that Harry had regained his wand so quickly and didn't have time to defend himself. He fell over harmlessly.
During the scrum, Ron grabbed Dawn and pulled her behind him while drawing out his wand in defence. He wanted to revive Neville, but he didn't dare take his wand off Harry, who had his wand pointed square at Dawn.
"Good job casting a silent disarming spell Neville. It caught me off guard."
"Harry stop!" Dawn shrieked. "Whatever you read, I can explain."
"All I want to know is where the real Dawn is."
"I'm right here."
"We both know that's not true!" Harry yelled. "Ron, step aside. I'm going to get answers out of her."
"You're going to have to get through me first."
Both young men tightened their grips on their wands and stared at each other intently. Neither wanted to make the first move. Ron knew that Harry had the advantage though. Harry only had to attack and defend himself. Ron had to make sure nothing happened to Dawn.
"Expelliarmus!" Harry called forth a jolt of red light, this one much stronger than the one Neville had produced. "Stupefy!" he called immediately after, aiming a stunner at his friend's shoulder.
"Protego!" Ron responded, striking off the first charm with a wave of his wand. He reached out towards the stunner and was barely able to deflect it using the shield.
"Expelliarmus! Stupefy!" Harry called again, sending out the same volley of spells.
"Accio table!" Ron called, causing a table to fly into the trajectory of the spells. The table exploded on impact, causing splinters to fly everywhere. "Stupefy! Stupefy!" Ron's stunners went flying towards Harry, who was still trying to dodge the wood flying through the air.
"Protego!" Harry defended, silently cursing himself for letting Ron gain the upper hand so quickly. Due to the spell on his glasses, he couldn't see the spells' trajectories, but his shield was powerful enough to withstand Ron's volley.
"Flipendo!" Ron yelled, hoping to keep Harry on the defence. "Petrificus totalus!"
Harry lunged out of the way of the two spells and was able to return volley. "Stupefy! Expelliarmus! Impedimenta! Depulso!"
"Protego!" Ron summoned his shield and managed to stop the first few spells, but the third connected and caused his entire body to slow. Then, the Banishing charm fit him directly in the chest. Ron flew through the air and bashed his shoulder into the hard ground upon landing.
"Ron!" Dawn screamed, but she realized that Harry hadn't lowered his wand. "Harry, I don't know what's going on. Why do you want to hurt Ron? What did you read? Who do you think I am?"
Harry heard his sister's familiar voice, but could only see the green orb in his glasses. "You know what's going on! Now where is she?" Harry screamed.
Dawn stared him back and fought down the tears. "Harry, listen to me! I don't know what you want from me."
"You're going to tell me what I want to know. Where is my sister?"
Ron struggled to lift his chest off the ground using his elbows. His shoulder was definitely separated, though it wouldn't surprise him if his collarbone were broken as well. "Harry, listen to her! She is your sister!"
"No it's not!" Harry screamed. It wasn't his sister, it abducted his sister. Wherever Dawn was, the real Dawn was, he intended to find her and save her. This…thing, this thing wasn't his sister. This thing's…an enemy.
Raising his wand at Dawn, Harry delivered his final ultimatum. "Last chance to tell me what I want to know."
Ron rose to his feet slowly, tightly gripping his shoulder with his arm. He let his wand hang limply from the wandarm he couldn't raise. "She's real! She's your sister! I swear!"
Tears began to fall. "I'm sorry Harry. I don't know."
"Don't say that!" Ron screamed. "Harry, you've confused her! You have to believe me!"
Harry was seething. This thing couldn't help him. In his anger, he saw one phrase, written within his potions textbook by the Half-Blood Prince: "Sectumsempra—for enemies only."
Harry slashed forward with his wand, "Sectumsempra!" Instantly, a gash appeared along Dawn's wandarm, causing her to shriek in pain. Harry saw the green orb beginning to fade and repeated the slashing motion.
However, there wasn't another shriek, as Ron lunged in front of Dawn, causing huge slashes and cuts along his chest. He landed awkwardly on the ground, his blood already pooling along the floor.
"Ron!" Dawn screamed rushing to his side.
"Stay away from him!" Harry demanded.
Dawn turned her attention to him and raised her wand, which had streaks of her blood running down its side. "Expelliarmus!" she screamed. A bright jet of red energy caused Harry's wand to jump from his hand, and knocked Harry back several feet and into the far wall. His glasses shattered from the impact, causing him to see the destruction he caused.
In the corner lied Neville, who saw the battle from his petrified position.
There were broken bits of furniture everyway, from both the table that Ron exploded and from the spells Harry deflected using his shield.
But most distressingly, at the far end of the room, his sister's arms were covered in blood as she attempted to give CPR to his best mate. She didn't stop for a moment.
"What have I done?" he whispered to himself.
The door to the room of Requirement suddenly burst open. Snape took in the damage to the room, but quickly ran to Dawn's aid. Hermione followed in after him and gaped at the scene before resting her gaze firmly at Harry. She then rushed across the room to assist Neville.
"What happened here?" Snape asked as he examined Ron's body.
"Harry used some kind of spell I've never heard of before. Sectum…"
"He couldn't have," Snape mumbled to himself. He reached into his robes, smearing blood everywhere as he pulled out his wand. "Vulnera Sanentur!" he cast on Ron. As Dawn was pumping his chest, she noticed the blood instantly stopped flowing and his wounds began to close. Snape appeared surprised at the success at the spell, but still cast it again on Ron's body, causing all of the visible wounds to close. Dawn realized that her wound had closed as well.
Snape attempted to wipe the blood off his wand, but couldn't. He picked up Ron's limp body. "He'll pull through so long as we get him to Madame Pomfrey immediately." He started to rush out the room, but paused in the doorway. "Ms. Potter, come with me. Ms. Granger, please escort Mr. Potter to the Headmaster's office."
Harry was too stunned to move though. "What have I done?" he repeated to himself.
The usual whir of excitement Harry usually got from sitting in Dumbledore's office never seemed to arrive. It seemed like an eternity had passed since Hermione had escorted him to the office, and together the three of them sat in silence while they waited for Snape to return from the Hospital Wing.
"Harry, while we wait, I'd like to hear your side of the story," Dumbledore finally said.
Harry sighed and explained what he had read, how he had cast Tirer la Couverture on his glasses, and how he had seen his sister as a glowing green orb. Every once in a while, Hermione would let out a gasp at a detail, but Dumbledore was stoic.
When Harry finished his tale, the headmaster sighed and stroked his beard. "Harry, I've looked at this book, and I too believe that your sister is this Key that Godric Gryffindor hid."
"Is what Ron said true? Did I fail to read everything?" Harry asked tentatively. Truthfully, he didn't want to know the answer. He didn't want to believe that his haste had caused this whole mess.
It was Hermione who responded with a tentative nod. "There was a second page." Rather than summarizing, she grabbed the book off Dumbledore's desk and pointed to the first paragraph on the following page:
"Both societies have practically disappeared over the ages, although both are still believed to be active. The only evidence of their continued existence is the Book of Tarnis, which suggests that The Order of Dagon have refined their spell so they could use the Key to alter realty by creating an entirely new person, hiding the Key inside of it, and warping everyone's memories to match. Thus, they could hide the Key practically anywhere in the world, and place it in the protection of the world's strongest by having them belief that the Key was their child, spouse or sibling."
"So this society trusted me to protect the key. My sister," Harry realized.
Dumbledore pulled a roll of parchment out of his desk. "In the Ministry, there is a quill that records every magical birth as it happens. Then, they ship the scroll here to Hogwarts so we know who to invite to join the school." He handed the scroll to Harry. "This is for your sister's class."
Harry quickly scanned the list and saw that beside each name was the date of that person's birth. However, he couldn't find his sister.
"Dawn's not on this list," Hermione confirmed, having read over his shoulder.
The headmaster nodded. "You are correct, Ms. Potter is not listed." Dumbledore pulled out another scroll. "This is the newest scroll. Ordinarily, I wouldn't open it until the students within turn eleven, but given the circumstance, I decided to investigate."
Harry and Hermione scanned the new list, and towards the bottom they saw something unusual: "Miss Dawn Sumerlyn Potter, June 18th."
"Dawn was born just this past summer?" Harry gaped.
"Indeed, it would appear as though Miss Potter never existed until after your little incident at the Department of Mysteries."
Harry buried his face in his hands. "What have I done?"
He suddenly felt a reassuring touch on his shoulder. "Nothing that can't be fixed," Hermione said encouragingly. "Ron knows exactly why you were so upset, and Dawn will forgive you in time."
"You don't know Dawn very well then," Harry smirked. The smile quickly left his face though as he realized, "Neither do I though."
"The girl from your memories is Dawn," Dumbledore confirmed. "Nothing has changed. Except now there are five individuals in this castle that know exactly what Dawn is."
"Five?" Harry questioned. "Who else knows other than Ron and us?"
"Professor Snape. He is going to monitor Voldemort's actions to determine whether he was after this Key."
Harry nodded hesitantly. Snape wasn't on his list of favourite professors, but he was unfortunately an invaluable ally. "How am I going to explain this to Dawn."
"You won't, for now at least. Dawn should not learn the truth all at once," Dumbledore cautioned, "particularly if there is no reason for her to know. For all we know, there was no danger to the Key, and we may never need to tell her."
"But how do I explain tonight?" Harry asked. "The whole school probably saw Ron being carried to the hospital wing."
"Professor Snape healed him enough that it just looked like an accidental spell," Hermione explained. "Some people think it was Neville or Dawn that did it."
"As for your actions," Dumbledore continued, "you should explain to your sister that you had reason to believe that someone was going to use Polyjuice Potion to capture and replace her to use against you, in the same way they used Professor Moody."
"She isn't going to accept that," Harry said.
"Better than nothing," Hermione reaffirmed.
"May I be excused to go to the Hospital Wing?" Harry asked.
"Not yet Potter," Professor Snape sneered as he entered the office. "There are some important matters we must discuss first." Snape stormed to the other side of the desk and took his place behind Dumbledore so he could glare at Harry.
"First, one hundred points from Gryffindor for a number of infractions."
"Understood," Harry sighed. Truthfully, losing points was the least of his worries.
"Second, you will return surrender your potions book to me immediately."
"Weasley told me in the hospital wing. Lastly, detention, with me, every night until further notice."
Harry nodded. He expected nothing less. "How are Dawn and Ron?"
"Weasley is doing surprisingly well. He lost a significant amount of blood, but the healing spells I used were far more effective than I thought. Your sister also appears to be doing well, and they are being kept overnight as more of a precaution than anything."
"May I be excused now?"
"You may leave," Dumbledore said.
"Thank you sir." Harry looked to Hermione, but she shook her head. Harry sighed and quickly exited the room. Snape also left, muttering something indecipherable.
"Miss Granger, is there a reason you decided to stay?" Dumbledore asked.
"Yes sir, I was wondering if you knew where The Book of Tarnis is."
"Is that the volume mentioned in this book?"
"Yes sir, admittedly I only looked in the library quickly before we left, but I didn't see it in the restricted section."
"It is probably lost, otherwise this Order of Dagon would be better known."
"I assumed as much too, but I was hoping that you might know of something. There is so much we don't know about this situation."
Dumbledore stroked his beard thoughtfully. "Perhaps there is one other library that might have the book. It's not likely, but I will inquire."
"Thank you sir."
Quentin Travers had seen a great deal of unusual things during his tenure with the Watcher's Council. When he had been a watcher in the field, he had faced demons that ordinary people couldn't fathom. Yet, it was an owl perched on his desk, in broad daylight in the middle of downtown London that took him aback.
The creature regarded him with an eerily calm demeanour. After looking him up and down, it raised its leg to reveal a piece of parchment. Quentin reached forward and unrolled the parchment. The owl then calmly spread its wings and flew out the window, as though Owls normally flew in and out of buildings during the day.
He scratched his head and read the ornate handwriting on the parchment. What he saw caused his heart to nearly explode into his chest. He pushed a button on his intercom: "Denise, please book me a seat on the first plane to Sunnydale, California. I'm afraid it's rather urgent."
Disclaimer: Some dialogue lifted from Chapter 3 of Chamber of Secrets.
Please take the time to give me feedback about this chapter. As always, your grammatical and spelling nitpickings and constructive criticism are welcome!