"Amazing meal, Sirius." Remus Lupin said, folding his napkin after wiping his mouth of any remnants of food. "When did you learn to cook so well?"
"Since he's been co-habitating with women of particular tastes." Amelia Bones smiled up at Sirius, who was clearing the table. "Susan and I could only tolerate stew for so long."
"Maybe he thinks by preparing such fine meals for you, he might be able to get into your knickers." Tonks grinned at her former boss. Remus snorted as Sirius looked offended.
"It can't hurt his chances." Amelia grinned, and Sirius turned a rather stern glare at Amelia and Tonks, though the effect was ruined by the spark in his eyes.
"Keep it up, you two, and there'll be no pudding for you." Sirius spoke threateningly.
"Oh come now," Amelia smiled, looking over her shoulder at Sirius and winking flirtatiously. "Would you truly deny me something sweet and warm?"
"My dear Amelia, If I were ever permitted to indulge your desires, I would open your eyes to a whole world of pleasure that you never could imagine existed."
"My dear Sirius," Amelia smiled as she rose from her seat and caressed the man's cheek softly. "If I were to allow you to indulge my desires, you'd likely be to shocked that you'd finish the deed before you disrobed."
Tonks fell off her chair, clutching her sides as she cackled madly. Remus was pounding the table, tears falling down his cheeks as he roared with laughter. Sirius could only stare blankly at what had just happened. He'd couldn't believe what Amelia Bones had just said to him, and in front of others. He still couldn't figure the woman out. She flirted with him so blatantly, but he wasn't ever sure if she meant any of it. Many was the night that he thanks the gods for cold showers.
Sirius finally grimaced, and turned away, while Amelia kept smiling. "Oh how I love flirting with that man." She grinned softly, returning to her seat.
"You're going to give him a complex one day." Tonks said from the floor, where she was now gasping for breath.
"Maybe, but I think he's tough enough to take it. Besides, he's a good man under all his bravado."
Tonks' head came up and she eyed her former boss suspiciously. " Are you saying you might let him into your bed one day?"
Amelia merely shrugged noncommittally and Tonks covered her mouth with her hand in awe at Amelia's candor. She had really been getting to know the woman over the last few months ever since her escape from death, and she was truly coming to love the woman. She was a truly remarkable person.
"Bed, kitchen counter, in front of the fireplace, on the beach at sunset." Amelia laughed at Tonks' look of pure awe. "The fact is that no one can truly see into the future, and this war can't last forever. Who knows what might happen?"
"Have we heard anything from Shacklebolt or any of our other agents lately?" Remus asked, trying to turn the conversation though he was still chuckling and wiping at his eyes. He loved Sirius like a brother, and had a deep respect for Amelia Bones. He just didn't want to have to picture the two of them getting more friendly than he'd witnessed over the past few months. Truth was, he could smell their pheromones whenever he came to the Flamel House.
"Nothing new. The Death Eaters have all but stopped their attacks." Amelia confessed, a puzzled look on her face. "I still think that they're preparing for a major assault, and we're clueless as to when. Unfortunately, even if we did know, It would be a bad idea to tip our hand. You heard Snape at the last meting, he thinks You-Know-Who believes Narcissa might have spilled her guts."
"Which she did." Sirius said setting a pot of water on the table along with several mugs. "Both her and that waste of a son of hers. To bad they gave us nothing that we didn't already know. I still think that kid should be thrown in prison."
"He'll pay for his crime." Amelia said soundly. "There is no statute of limitations on murder."
"Dumbledore said it was an accident." Tonks looked confused. "He said that the girl wasn't the target, and had simply been in the wrong place at the wrong time."
"Be that as it may," Amelia looked saddened. "The boy still took a life. He has to own up to what he's done. I know he feels terrible over it. I talked to him at length, and he seemed truly remorseful. But he is Lucius Malfoy's son. I hate to say it, but part of me thinks it was all an act."
"Well, despite that, it's probably a good idea for you to keep a low profile for now anyway." Remus said. "The Death Eaters still think you're dead. So long as they think that, it does give us a bit of an advantage."
"That it does. However, I feel terrible for Susan. She's so lonely, and she can't even write to her friends."
"The terms almost over, surely we can get one or two of her friends here." Tonks said with hope in her voice. She'd been tutoring and training the young Hufflepuff girl since she'd arrived at Christmas time. Susan Bones had shown a great deal of progress in her studies, and her Aunt was sure she would be able to sit her NEWT exams today, if it weren't for the war and the fact that most of the world believed them both dead.
"I'm afraid letting anyone else know we're alive would be very bad, at least until the war is over." Amelia said sadly. "It's completely unfair to her, and I hate it, but what choice do I have?"
"We'll figure something out for her." Sirius said. "Harry and the others will be arriving in a few weeks, and that will help. Once there are other teens to hang out with, things will get better for her. We'll even be able to arrange a few trips to the mainland for them."
The four adults rose at once and went into the sitting room, to find Bill Weasley standing there looking anxious.
"I just got word. The Ministry has been taken. Voldemort himself led the fight. There's word the Hogwarts has been taken as well, but we can't get confirmation." Bill looked very worried as he spoke. Sirius guessed that he wanted to storm into the castle and make sure his baby sister was alright.
"What about Dumbledore?" Amelia asked. "Surely he wouldn't have let Death Eaters storm the castle?
Bill shrugged, unsure what to say. "Like I said, We haven't gotten any confirmation. We do know that there are kids showing up in Hogsmeade asking to be flooed home."
"Harry?" Sirius asked his voice turning to steel, and his hand going for his wand. He'd been itching for a fight for a while, but the Death Eaters had been very unwilling. The moment he heard the school was under attack he could only think about getting to his godson.
"I don't know." Bill lowered his eyes, trying to hide his own concerns. His youngest and most favorite sibling was still in the school. "So far as I know, he hasn't been found."
"Ok." Amelia said quickly, putting a comforting hand on Sirius' shoulder. She stepped around the man who'd been sheltering her and her niece since Christmas and stood before them all, making sure she caught their eyes.
"We need to get to Grimmauld Place, and prepare for the worst. Bill, get word to all our operatives and tell them to prepare to go under. If Dumbledore is defeated, we will lose Grimmauld Place. Remus, you and Tonks need to reinforce the wards here before joining us. It's likely that we will have more company here before the night is through. Sirius, you're with me."
Amelia turned and ran up the stairs to check on her niece, who was reading in her bedroom.
"What is it?" Susan asked the moment she saw her Aunt's face. Since she'd come to the Flamel house, Susan had learned all about the rebellion her Aunt was leading, and had often seen Amelia leave to go fight the Death Eaters. Susan had helped on several occasions with wounded, and was sure there would be a place for her in the Order upon her seventeenth birthday in a few weeks. It was difficult to have nearly everything taken away from you and not have a desire to retaliate. She just hoped she could be as brave as her Aunt when the time came.
"Hogwarts has come under attack. The Ministry as well. We're going to Grimmauld place to prepare for the worst. I need you to stay here until we return."
"Hannah? Justin?" Susan sat bolt upright on her bed, fighting back tears. She hadn't spoken to her best friend or her boyfriend since before the Christmas holiday, and had missed them terribly. Hearing that they were in danger made her heart pound furiously in her chest.
"There's been no word yet." Amelia said honestly, and pulled Susan into a tight hug. "Do not let yourself fret over anything until we have the facts. We're all going to headquarters. As soon as I have word, I will floo call you."
Susan nodded against her aunt's shoulder and Amelia released her, and went to leave. Sirius stood in the door, watching the whole scene. He'd become quite fond of Susan in her time here. She was bright, funny, and could hold her own in a battle of wits against him. He hated to see her looking so frightened, but knew there was nothing he could do to help her. Especially since he himself was worried for the young man he thought of as a son.
Grimmauld Place was a flurry of activity. Sirius went straight into the large sitting room, which had turned into the information center over the past two years. Everything regarding Death Eater movements, identities, people who might become a target. Basically everything scrap of information the Order had was posted haphazardly in this room. Arthur Weasley was busy removing all the lists and notes that had been put up on the walls, while Molly Weasley was assisting Dedalus Diggle with making emergency Portkeys.
"Any word?" Amelia asked as she and Sirius entered.
"The Ministry was overrun in a few moments. You-Know-Who himself led the battle." Mad-Eye Moody said, stumping forward. "Wounded have been already been taken to safe houses."
"Why wouldn't he lead the assault on Hogwarts?" Amelia asked, puzzled by the news.
"Dumbledore." Arthur Weasley said. "He's never been able to beat him."
"That may be true, but there has to be another reason. I wonder if Malfoy was the only young recruit at Hogwarts…" Amelia reasoned.
"You think there's another assassin?" Moody cocked an eyebrow. "Another student?"
"Oh, dear." Molly Weasley said, looking up. "What about the students? What will happen to all those children?"
Amelia shook her head in frustration. There were quite a few children that were at risk, and from what Susan had told her, many of them would try and fight the Death Eaters. The image of faceless children lying dead in those hallowed halls turned her stomach.
"I'm sure Dumbledore is doing his best to evacuate them all." Arthur said, coming to his wife to comfort her.
There came a call for help from the kitchen, and Moody stomped off to find out what was happening.
"The wards have fallen." Sirius said suddenly. As a member of the Black family, he was keyed to the wards protecting Grimmauld Place, and he could feel it the moment the protections fell. He swooned on his feet a moment, as it was a rather disorientating sensation.
Amelia looked grave as she reached out to steady him.
Silence fell heavily around them as everyone understood what it meant. Albus Dumbledore had died.
"OK, listen to me." Amelia said, putting on her most commanding tone. "We have ten minutes to clean this place up and get out. There's no doubt that Snape will have to give the location of this place up. You all know the plan, so stick with it. Move!"
Sirius felt his chest tighten. It was as if a lead weight had fallen into his stomach, and it was everything he had to keep from vomiting. Dumbledore was dead, and Harry was still in that school. Sirius tried to comfort himself that Harry had the map he and his own school mates had made, and knew that castle better than any other Headmaster since the Founders themselves. He also reminded himself that Harry had some very good friends who were clever and resourceful. Sirius just knew that Harry was going to be alright in the end.
But none of those thoughts could do anything to ease the mounting tension he felt. Unless something major happened, it was likely that the Dark Lord would finally succeed in killing Harry Potter.
"Sirius!" Moody called from the kitchen. "You'd better get in here."
Never had mere words had a stronger affect on Sirius Orion Black than those. His chest constricting with fear, he slowly turned and began making his way into the kitchen where Moody was waiting for him.
"At least a quarter of the population got out before the Death Eaters managed to close off the tunnels." Francis O'Malley said to Jonathan Greengrass. He had floo called his friend and associate as soon as he had learned of the attack on Hogwarts. Word was spreading quickly, especially as the escapees got home to report all that had happened.
"You're sure they had help from inside?" Jonathan asked.
"Sara saw it herself. Most of the older students from fourth year up, she said." Francis said, rubbing his eyes. "She's still pretty upset. She must have seen something pretty horrible. I don't know what's happening to the ones who didn't escape, but I reckon he'll ransom them or something. I'm sorry Jonathan."
"Thank you, Frank, let me know if you hear anything else." Jonathan nodded his thanks, and the head in the floo faded away. Jonathan felt his throat constrict a bit as he fought to control his emotions.
"Tori? Daphne?" the voice of his wife sounded faint and weak. Jonathan couldn't make himself turn to look at her. He knew that if he did, he would be unable to control himself, and he needed to be strong right now. At the very least, he felt he would be able to get Tori, his youngest back. The ruse the Greengrass family had established over Daphne's "betrayal" was far too good to be able to negotiate her return.
"What can we do?" Aurora asked, her shaking hand taking her husband's.
"For now, we wait for word. Dumbledore told us that this might happen, and we've prepared."
"Are still alive, as far as we know." Jonathan said firmly, finally turning to look into his wife's teary eyes. His heart pounded in his throat now that he saw the anguish on her face. "Our job now is to be patient until we know anything further."
Aurora brought her hand to her mouth to keep from sobbing, and Jonathan brought his arms around her, holding her tightly.
"I know you're worried, but think about it for a moment. We have two extremely intelligent and feisty daughters. One of them is deeply in love with Harry Potter, and if we know anything about that boy, it's that no matter how dangerous the situation, he and his friends do manage to come out safe.
"And then there's Tori…"
Aurora laughed in spite of herself. What else needed to be said about their youngest. The older Astoria got, the more surprised they were that she had been sorted into Slytherin House. She was as cunning and ambitious as any other Slytherin, but she was also outspoken and courageous and unwavering in her beliefs. How she hadn't ended up in Gryffindor always shocked them.
On top of that their youngest daughter had enormous talent with spells, and was always looking up and learning new hexes and curses. The Greengrass parents always assumed it was something to do with sibling rivalry, as Daphne was quite similar. But the girls never boasted or tried to get one over on the other.
"I suppose that I should actually fear for the Death Eaters if Tori is still inside." Aurora smiled, wiping at her eyes.
"I know that I do." Jonathan smiled softly. "She'll make their lives very difficult for as long as she's able. Now, we'd better make sure we are ready to leave if…"
"If He decides we don't fit into his grand vision." Aurora spat out. Jonathan could only nod as he turned back to the fire, secretly hoping that his two girls would burst out of it. He knew beyond doubt that Daphne was going to stay at Harry's side. He had seen such devotion in her that it stirred him. He was extremely proud of his eldest. He prayed the gods would watch over her.
Tori on the other hand was the one he worried over the most. She was not one to be silenced easily. If they were both still within the castle walls, jonathan Greengrass knew in his heart that he would receive their bodies soon. And when that happened, there would be no force in nature that could stop him from killing every single last one of His followers.
It had been easier than he had hoped it to be. The Ministry was far too unprepared for a full scale assault. Especially given the time his Death Eaters had been ordered to attack. There was hardly anyone in the Ministry. Scrimgeour had been there, and the Dark Lord had to respect the Minister. He hadn't begged, or pleaded. He had simply accepted his fate and died like a real wizard.
The campaign at Hogwarts had been equally successful. His Death Eaters had managed to defeat the aurors, and round up the students. He had heard that a handful of students had been able to escape, including Potter and his friends.
The Dark Lord was surprisingly fine with the result, as he hadn't yet been able to solve the problem of his ailing magical core. He would never even allude to it in front of any of his followers, and was having extreme difficulty even admitting it to himself, but he was unsure that he would be able to beat Potter should they met.
That problem was about to be remedied this night.
Lord Voldemort marched purposefully through the iron gates of the castle that had once been his home. It was now his, at last.
"My lord." Snape bowed low before the Dark Lord and waited to be addressed.
"Rise, Severus. Tell me, my friend, were you the one to end Dumbledore's life?" The Dark Lord already knew that Severus Snape had not killed his greatest foe.
"No milord. It was young Theodore Nott. He was the one who killed the old fool. He is afraid that he failed you however, as he could not stop Potter from escaping." Snape spoke flatly.
"I wish to see the boy at once, before I enter the Great Hall."
"He awaits you just inside, with a few others. All Slytherins who took up wands against the Aurors." Snape said coolly, turning to walk with his master into the Entrance hall.
Many of his faithful waited his entrance. Among them stood a few of the new faithful. Standing in front of them, hood down, and mask off stood Theodore Nott who looked rather shaken. At once they all knelt reverently before their lord and master.
"Please, rise my faithful. I must tell you how truly pleased I am. Especially you, Theodore. You have done what no one thought possible. You have killed that old muggle lover, Dumbledore, and paved the way for our kind to move forward."
He looked at all of his robed followers, a sadistic smile on his serpentine face.
"Many things are about to change, and each of you shall play a major role. Some of you will remain here at the castle to help mold the minds of our next generation. Others of you will fill vital roles in our new Ministry. But we haven't the time to discuss all the details right now. It is time I address the students"
Lord Voldemort strode up the stairs and into the Great Hall where his Death Eaters had assembled all of the students and teachers. There was a collective shiver throughout the student body as every single eye was on him. He kept his blazing red eyes upon the head table where the surviving teachers stood, each of them being held at wand point by members of his inner circle.
Voldemort stood before the students and smiled as they all waited for him to address them. He thrilled at the palpable fear that permeated the room, and drank it up like the sweetest ambrosia.
"Tonight is the start of a new age for us all." He spoke with the same charm he'd used on teachers and fellow students when he was young. He had been extremely charming and had always manage to get what he wanted through sheer force of will.
"Starting this very night, we get rid of antiquated and useless teachings. There will be no more houses, no more separation. You will be taught the most noble beliefs of Salazaar Slytherin, and you will become the leaders of my great vision. I intend to weed out any undesirables and wash away any doubt of what it truly means to be of magical blood. Fear not, my young disciples, should you follow me faithfully, you shall receive reward beyond imagination. Do not fear for your teachers, either. I have the deepest respect for them, and they shall continue on, though they will have assistant to aid them in your education. Now, I bid you all goodnight."
The students began to rise when the Dark Lord called their attentions again.
"I should very much like to see, Miss Amanda Brocklehurst, Miss Cho Chang, Mister Cormac McClaggen and Mister Terry Boot."
Murmurs broke out among the students, and his Death Eaters stood at the door to make sure those students didn't try to escape, that was, if they hadn't already. After a time, three students were brought before him and brought to their knees by the Death Eaters they had been unable to sneak past.
"Please, introduce yourself." Voldemort said with a smile.
Cormac McClaggen and Terry Boot both did their best to appear proud and defiant. The girl, Cho Chang couldn't even look at the Dark Lord.
"And the fourth?" Voldemort asked.
"We believe she managed to escape before the passages were closed, My Lord." One of the Death Eaters admitted nervously.
"Then we will have to make due with three." Voldemort said as he looked upon the three students he'd chosen above all others to return his power.
"Tonight, you will have the great honor of helping your new Lord with a rather unique experiment. Should it work as I hope, you shall be remembered for your great sacrifice. Shall we?"
The Dark Lord motioned for his Death Eaters to bring the three prisoners along to the Room that would become exactly what he would need. Tonight, he would finally rid himself of the cursed Potter blood, and his power would be restored.
Then, the hunt for Potter was going to be his full priority.
It was with a start that Daphne Greengrass awoke. The sun was only starting to rise and it's great gold light was beginning to shine into the room.
Harry's arms were wrapped protectively around her waist and he was leaning against a wall made of brick. Daphne thought he looked very uncomfortable. As she glanced around, she thought that her other two friends looked much more comfortable.
Hermione was curled up in the middle of a rather elegant looking rug with Neville spooning her, his arms around her and his head resting on hers. Despite all their trouble, Neville and Hermione actually looked peaceful.
Daphne remembered that Hermione and Neville had become quite intimate. She also remembered how the two had been unable to be that close again since the Christmas holiday. Daphne couldn't help but wonder if they had copulated during the night. However, the fact they were still dressed pretty much blew that theory away.
Daphne began to pull away from Harry, slowly so as not to wake him, as she doubted he'd slept all that well to begin with.
"I take it you're ready to get up." Harry whispered.
"I thought you were sleeping." Daphne said softly, reaching up to caress his cheek. "But I have to say, you look terrible."
"Sleeping against a wall, sitting up while holding your very beautiful, though distraught girlfriend, let's se if you look any better." Harry said as he opened his eyes and kissed Daphne's cheek.
"Thank you." Daphne smiled and kissed Harry before finally getting to her feet. She held out a hand for Harry who got to his feet.
"Should we wake them?" Daphne whispered, nodding towards Hermione and Neville.
"No need." Neville said groggily. This floor is not as comfortable as it looks."
"I don't know." Hermione's voice sounded. "Having you next to me all night certainly made things a bit more pleasant."
"Ok, so we're all awake." Harry said quickly. "So I think we need to figure out where we are. And then we should try and get in touch with Sirius." He looked around the small room they had arrived in. It looked as if it were a small study. There were a few shelves of books, and two rather comfortable chintz chairs, similar to the ones Harry had seen Dumbledore conjure. His stomach churned a bit as he thought of the Headmaster.
"Some food might not be a bad idea." Hermione suggested as Neville helped her to her feet.
"Good idea." Daphne tried to smile.
"Ok, ok." Harry smiled, despite his anguish. "Let's find out if there's any food around here, then we'll figure out the rest.
As it turned out, there was a fully stocked pantry and icebox in the kitchen, which turned out to be right across the hall from the room they had arrived in. The four teens worked together and made eggs and toast. They ate in relative silence, none of them wishing to bring up the events that had led them to find themselves in wherever they were now.
Once they finished up their meal, and cleaned up after themselves, they began to explore the house.
It was a very nice looking home, with simple, but comfortable furniture. The sitting room was spacious with a large window looking out on a very lush lawn, and a simple cobblestone street. There were several bedrooms and a medium sized library. It was the library that the four teens found some of their answers.
"I know that church." Harry said as he stared out the window. From that vantage point, he could se the steeple of a church that he recognized almost at once. He turned to his friends.
"I think we're in Godric's Hollow."
"Why would Dumbledore send us to Godric's Hollow?" Hermione asked.
"Maybe he told us in this letter." Daphne said, picking up a sealed envelope with Harry's name written on the front.
"Where'd you find this?" Harry asked as he took the letter.
"It was here on this desk, along with this stuff." Daphne nodded towards a small pile of items along with Dumbledore's pensieve.
"Well, what are you waiting for?" Hermione urged, looking at the envelope in Harry's hands.
Harry took a deep breath and broke the seal of the envelope.
If you are reading this, then I have truly failed and must do what I never wanted to do. I must pass on the task of destroying the remaining Horcruxes and then putting an end to Lord Voldemort once and for all.
The task that lies before you now is one that may seem impossible, but I must stress to you that it can be done. I have given you everything I could to prepare for this, including all my notes and memories regarding Voldemort and his horcruxes. But even better, I have made sure that you are not alone. Your friends will be with you every step of the way, and it is my deepest hope that all has gone according to plan, and as you are reading this, Miss Greengrass, Granger and Davis, as well as Mr. Longbottom are reading over your shoulder.
Harry smiled as he felt Daphne's hand on his shoulder, and could hear Hermione's breathing in his ear.
I am sure that you have many questions, and I will try my best to anticipate them here. First, you are in my own home, which I have left to you. It will serve as a very good base of operations for your mission. It is heavily warded, but not by me, as in the event of my death, those protections would fail. I did not send you to Grimmauld place of the Flamel House for those reasons. Also, Godric's Hollow would be one of the last places that you might be hidden. Lord Voldemort will expect you to show up there, but not to already be hidden there.
The Floo is not connected so you will have to use apparition to move about. The back yard will prove to be the best place to do this, as it is covered under the protective enchantments.
You and your companions will be unable to access your Gringott's accounts, as I assume that Diagon Alley will be heavily guarded. I have taken care of any monetary needs you might have. I have left all of my wealth to you. There is a magical safe within the study that is password and blood protected. It is keyed to you alone. You will have more than enough for anything you might need.
There will be a small leather bag amongst the items where you found this letter. It has been enhanced with extension charms. Inside you will find several notebooks with my many notes and theories on the horcruxes that I believe Miss Granger and Miss Greengrass will be able to help you to understand. You will also find the sword of Gryffindor which you must use to destroy the remaining soul anchors. As we've discussed, there are surprisingly few methods which can destroy such evil.
Now, I have one last thing to ask of you. As I have mentioned, I have left you my home and my wealth. I have also left you all of my worldly belongings. I have done this to keep many rather special items out of the clutches of the Death Eaters. It is my wish that when the war has ended that you donate much of my legacy back to Hogwarts or the Ministry for the betterment of our kind. Especially my personal journals. I think that many people would find them informative and mind opening. Perhaps between the two of us, we might be able to prevent future generations from repeating our own mistakes.
I know that you and Professor Snape have had your problems in the past, and I have tried many, many times over the years to get him to explain why he treats you the way he does. Alas, he holds much to tightly to his anger and hatred. Despite his appearances, he is truly a good man, and I ask that you put aside your personal feelings and trust him. One day perhaps, he will open up to you and you will finally understand what made him the man you know.
Harry, You are a very remarkable young man, and I know that I am better for knowing you. I know that I will never be able to correct all the mistakes I made with you, but I hope that now, you at least understand why I chose to act the way I did. It is not forgiveness I ask, but only understanding.
Trust in your friends. They have chosen to follow you because they believe in you. You are a natural leader. Use this. Voldemort fears you, just as the rest of the country fears him. Use that as well. Remember that your ability to love, to forgive and to inspire are your most powerful weapons. They are the powers that he knows not.
I have come to the end of my journey in this world, but your has just begun. Good luck and farewell, my friend.
Albus Percival Wolfric Brian Dumbledore.
Harry slowly folded the letter back and slipped in back into the envelope. Silence reigned over the four tens for a few moments while they all silently grieved for their fallen Headmaster.
Inside, Harry felt something stirring within him, something powerful that he couldn't really remember feeling before. It was filling him with determination. Too many people had died trying to oppose the Dark Lord. Too many children had been robbed of having known their parents, and too many parents had lost children. Many more would die so long as Tom Marvolo Riddle was alive. This was no longer acceptable.
"We have a lot to do." Harry spoke softly, turning to face his friends. He strode over to the small table where Daphne had discovered the letter. He picked up the leather bag and reached inside to pull out several notebooks. He handed them to Daphne.
"I want you and Hermione to start going over these. We need to figure out exactly what Horcruxes are left. We need to know what they are, and where they might be located."
"What about the fake?" Hermione asked.
Harry reached into his pocket to pull out the fake locket he had gotten out of that cave the night before. Now that he saw it in the light, he couldn't help feel that it seemed familiar to him, though he couldn't think why.
"The only thing we have to go on is the initials. I don't think we have the resources to discover who R.A.B. might be. So for now, let's try and figure out what the others might be and where."
"What about me?" Neville asked as Hermione and Daphne began to settle themselves in and started looking through the notebooks.
"You and I are going to try and figure out what exactly we have in this house, and then figure out what might be useful and what's pointless to us. Then we need to figure out how we can contact the Order, and learn what's happening out there. We won't be able to make any plans if we're blind to what's going on in the world."
Neville nodded and he and Harry left the library to really explore the house. They found the remainder of Dumbledore's possessions in the attic, all neatly packed and cataloged. Apparently the old man had been preparing for his death for a long time. Most of what had been packed looked to be useless to them, though there were quite a few potion ingredients , some of them quite rare. Harry and Neville brought everything that was related to potions out of the attack and into the library where the girls were still sitting, though in the two hours they had been gone, the girls had accumulated quite a stack of notes.
"Anything?" Harry asked.
"Yes." Daphne said brightly. "Dumbledore was quite meticulous with his notes. He had a full list of potential horcruxes, and even crossed off ones that were destroyed." She said, pointing to a list the Headmaster had made.
Harry took the leather bound journal and read.
A Diary - Destroyed.
The Ring of Slytherin - Destroyed
The Locket of Slytherin -
The Cup of Hufflepuff -
The Gauntlet of Gryffindor - In Goblin possession.
The Diadem of Ravenclaw - Destroyed
The Ring of Ravenclaw
The Star Pendant of Ravenclaw
The Serpent - With Voldemort
Harry Potter - Destroyed
"He thought I was a horcrux?" Harry asked softly.
"Yes. But don't you remember what happened last summer?" Hermione asked.
"He got it out of you." Daphne reminded him.
"And he said it wasn't a horcrux because you hadn't gone through the ritual that makes a horcrux." Neville added.
Harry nodded as he remembered the discussions with the old Headmaster.
"So, The serpent will most likely be the last one we get to." Harry reasoned. I can't imagine being able to get to it without having to face him. So we need to figure out which of these things are the real Horcruxes, and where they might be."
"I think that we're going to have to speak to the goblins." Daphne said. "and possibly my mother. She's kind of an expert on Rowena Ravenclaw. She might know what happened to the pendant and the ring."
"We can't risk a letter." Neville said.
"Maybe we can. I thought I heard Fawkes last night." Harry said.
"It's possible, but I think it's unlikely." Hermione said sadly. "Fawkes was Dumbledore's familiar, and phoenixes rarely ever bond with humans. We can try to call him, but I think we should figure another way to contact people."
Harry nodded, thinking hard, then a smile broke out on his face.
"What's on your mind, Harry?" Daphne said, feeling a bit of a chill at her boyfriend's smile.
There was a soft pop, and the four teens turned to see the House Elf standing shakily behind them. Both his ears were bandaged and he was holding his arm awkwardly. There were a few long cuts that looked fairly nasty, even thought they were dried and beginning to scab over.
"Harry Potter sir. Dobby is so pleased to see you are safe."
"Dobby what happened to you?" Harry asked, kneeling in front of the little elf.
"Dobby is being punished for trying to help students escape. Dobby was about to be punished when Harry Potter is calling for him. Harry Potter has saved Dobby again."
"Why did you come when Harry called you?" Daphne asked, looking suspicious. "Have you bonded with House Potter?"
Harry's eyes bugged out and he turned to Daphne who was still watching the Elf shuffle his feet.
"No." Dobby said softly. "Dobby wishes to serve the Noble House of Potter, but is too afraid to ask to be allowed. Dobby promised he would serve the great Harry Potter should he ask, even without being bonded."
"Harry, can I speak to you for a moment." Daphne asked. Harry stood, while Hermione knelt in his place to get a good look at the weak looking elf.
"Harry, I know how you feel about servants and all that, but you might consider allowing Dobby to bond with you. He's obviously willing to put himself at risk just trying to uphold your beliefs. He was trying to help kids escape. If you let him bond with you, his magic will strengthen, and he'll be able to do things for us that we're unable to…like set up meetings with the goblins outside of Gringott's or find and relay messages to the Order."
"But can't he do that without bonding?"
"No. The Goblin's won't acknowledge him without the bond." Daphne said pointedly.
"Hermione's not going to like this."
"She will if Dobby ends up saving our arses at some point."
Harry knew that Daphne had a point, and kissed her softly.
"Dobby, Would you do me the honor of serving my house and my family?"
Dobby's big green eyes grew in size and he began nodding slowly in awe. He very slowly stepped forward and bowed before Harry.
"Dobby pledges his life willingly to the Great House of Potter." Dobby held out a hand, and Harry took it and felt a tingling sensation run up his arm. Dobby looked up with tears in his eyes. Right before Harry's eyes, Dobby's cuts began to heal and Dobby began to look much healthier than Harry had ever seen the elf.
"I'm guessing you weren't treated well by your former family." Daphne said, and Dobby shook his head as he wiped at his eyes.
"The Malfoy family was very unkind to Dobby."
"Wait, I thought you couldn't speak ill of your family." Harry looked confused.
"Dobby is not bound to the Malfoys and can speak his mind on them now. What would you have Dobby do, master?"
"First, never, ever call me master." Harry smiled, placing a hand on his smallest friend. "Second, I need you to find my Godfather, Sirius Black. He'll likely be at the Flamel house. I need you to let him know that we're alive and that I need a way to speak to him. Tell him all my things were left at Hogwarts."
"Dobby can retrieve Mast… Harry Potter's belongings. Dobby can get all of your belongings and bring them here."
"But, you might get caught again." Hermione began to argue but Dobby turned to her, a wide smile on his face.
"Dobby is a very clever elf, and feels stronger than he has since he was a youngling. Dobby can do it, should they still be intact. Death Eaters were destroying many things in the castle.
"Dobby, don't worry about that stuff." Neville said. "There's just things and can be replaced."
Harry agreed with Neville, except for the photo album that Hagrid had given him, filled with photos of his parents. He sadly nodded his agreement.
"Don't worry about out trunks or anything like that." Daphne said, her arm sliding around Harry's waist.
"Their right, Dobby. Just get that message to Sirius, then we can figure out what we should do next. There'll be plenty of things for you to be doing."
Harry noticed Hermione's look of displeasure, and Harry smiled to himself. "We'll also discuss your wages later as well."
Hermione's smile made Harry grin wider.
Dobby nodded and with a soft pop, disappeared.
"So what do we do now?" Daphne asked Harry.
"Well, we're in a war. A war that we're losing, but that's going to change right now. To fight a war, we're going to need an army. I think it's about time we raised one."