12) Escape from Hogwart's
Jadin and the others at the Ravenclaw table were discussing the usual: the OWLs, which were two weeks off, whining about how Professor So-and-so was giving way too much homework, and Quidditch. There was no possibility that Ravenclaw would take the Quidditch Cup, as the two best Seekers were Harry Potter of Gryffindor and Draco Malfoy of Slytherin. It was a tight contest for first between them. Ravenclaw could only hope to beat Hufflepuff for third place. As for this year's House Cup, Ravenclaw was definitely in contention, though Gryffindor had won it every year since Potter's arrival. There was speculation that the Headmaster was playing favourites and cheating the other houses – especially Slytherin – of the House Cup.
It was the same for the Hufflepuffs across the hall, and Slytherin farther down the aisle. The Gryffindor's seemed subdued in comparison, as did the faculty. Even Umbridge seemed unusually preoccupied, not watching for any misbehaviours as she usually did.
Hermione came briskly down the aisle, along the wall. She dropped a paper in front of Jadin.
"Seen today's Daily Prophet?"
"I don't bother with that bird cage liner".
"Today's: read it", as she headed back towards the Gryffindor table.
"What was that all about?"
Jadin glanced at the headline:
MASS ESCAPE FROM AZKABAN! The headline read in larger than normal type.
MINISTRY FEARS BLACK IS REORGANIZING DEATH EATERS, in smaller type.
"Looks like some sort of jailbreak from Azkaban", he explained.
"Azkaban is supposed to be escape-proof".
"So was Alcatraz, but where there's a will, a way will be found".
Since breakfast was being served, it would have to wait. He'd worry about it later as he shoved the newspaper into his book bag.
It wasn't until almost noon before he could take a look at it in the Ravenclaw common room.
The Ministry of Magic confirmed that a mass escape from Azkaban Prison had occurred in the early evening hours yesterday. Cornelius Fudge, the Minister of Magic:
"We find ourselves in the same unfortunate situation as we were almost three years ago when the convicted serial killer, Sirius Black escaped. We do not believe these two incidents unrelated. Obviously, a break-out of this magnitude could never be accomplished without outside aid. Black would be ideally situated to render such aid. We further believe that these individuals, including Black's cousin, Bellatrix Lestrange, are rallying around Black as their leader. We are doing everything in our power to locate and apprehend these criminals. We urge the public to remain calm, but to be alert. Should anyone see these individuals, under no circumstances are they to be approached".
It was as he expected: complete nonsense. He couldn't figure why Hermione, of all people, would treat the Daily Prophet as anything other than as a liner for Crookshanks' litter box. He knew all about the raw deal Harry's godfather had received, courtesy of the Ministry. He also knew that he was no Death Eater. Harry and his friends were living with him, even though he was still a wanted fugitive. Jadin figured it was an exaggeration. Probably someone screwed up and let some minimum security prisoners walk out, or they didn't return from a work release program, or something of that nature.
He had a look at the mugshots: nine males, and the one female. He was drawn to Bellatrix's mugshot: long, jet black hair that looked unkempt in the photo. She glared defiantly through heavy-lidded eyes, a slight smile that wreaked of contempt. She'd obviously been quite a looker, but now, years behind bars had taken their toll - or something had. She had the same look as certain female celebrities, he had in mind a couple of singers, who'd lived fast. He figured it was too much booze, nose candy, and indiscriminate sex. Lestrange looked like a used-up, middle-aged whore. As for the nine males, they all looked like someone you wouldn't want to meet in a dark alley. Of course they did.
It was an inside article that caught his attention: "Tragic Death of Ministry of Magic Worker". Broderick Bode, age 49, had been discovered dead in his bed at St. Mungo's Hospital: "strangled by a potted plant". He'd read that as "palmon" at first. The article went on to say that this Mr. Bode had received a potted plant over Christmas. As Mr. Bode was convalescing, the article said, he was being encouraged to take care of the plant as part of his therapy. No one was aware that it wasn't simply an innocent Flitterbloom, but rather a cutting of Devil's Snare. This plant then strangled him as soon as he touched it. Jadin knew that a palmon - a plant digimon who could root itself, disguise itself as a flowering plant, draw water and sustenance from soil and photosynthesis - could do that: lie in wait for days, weeks, or even months before striking its victim with its "Poison Ivy" attack. Of course, a palmon wouldn't have stuck around after doing a dirty deed like that to be identified. It would either run away, or more likely, return to the Digital World. He filed that away for future reference: ask Hermione or someone about this "Devil's Snare".
This, too, was an article he highly doubted. Who in their right mind would do such a thing? If someone wanted Bode out of the way, what guarantee did he have that Bode would be the first to touch the Devil's Snare? It didn't make any sense, unless it was a totally indiscriminate act and whoever sent it didn't care who it killed. And that still made no sense.
"Did you read it?", Hermione asked anxiously, as she caught up with him on the way to Arithmancy. It was obvious she'd been waiting for him.
"Yeah, so?", he replied.
"So? SO?!", she said. "Don't you understand?"
"Understand what, exactly? The Prophet has lower ethical standards than the New York Slimes, which, at least, fired a reporter who was caught making stuff up. If the Prophet said 2 + 2= 4, I would double check with a reliable source. Honestly, how can you read bullshit like that? Remember what they've been saying about Potter? Now, he may have his quirks - who doesn't - but he's not crazy, delusional, an attention seeker, or anything like that. And Sirius Black ain't no serial killer..."
"What would you expect the Ministry to say? Admit that Dumbledore was right all along, he-who-must-not-be-named is back, and opps - sorry 'bout that? And, yes, he was right all along about how the Dementors would slip out of Ministry control, turn traitor, and allow you-know-who's worst of the worst to just walk out of Azkaban. They've been denying everything that Dumbledore's been warning them about, and now it's coming to pass just like he said it would. This is important, and you should pay attention! I don't see how you can be so blase about this!
After Sirius escaped, Hogwart's was lousy with Dementors. Ten of the most dangerous Death Eaters break out, and where are the Dementors? Not a single one in sight anywhere. That, alone, proves that - at least this time - the Prophet isn't lying".
"You've been in the loop for a lot longer than I have. I don't know what political games this Minister of Magic of yours has been playing. Are you sure there's anything to this, and they're not just exaggerating a minor security kerfuffle into some sensationalist story?"
"I'm certain of it! A mass escape from Azkaban of ten of the worst of you-know-who's Death Eaters is something they can't cover up. So they put the blame on Sirius instead. They've gone so far as slander: they're that desperate. You see this?". She turned to the inside story about the death of Bode.
"I did: figured it was a palmon at first. Could some random maniac have sent the Devil's Snare? What guarantee would he have that it wouldn't've attacked someone else after all this time?"
"Bode's killer could easily have bewitched it to attack only Bode. We can do that, yannow, and we knew him", she said.
"None: Ron's father works for the Ministry, and he knew Broderick Bode - he worked in the Department of Mysteries as an 'Unspeakable' (making finger quotes): someone whose work is so secret that they can't discuss it with anyone outside the Department. I don't know what happened to him, but it somehow involved his work within the Department - and you-know-who. Last time I saw him, he was quite unresponsive. That was back around Christmas, after Harry saw a vision of that snake that attacked Ron's father. It looks like someone decided to make sure Mr. Bode remained silent about what happened to him. There have been a whole series of some decidedly strange goings-on in and around the Department".
"What else has Harry seen in dreams?"
"I don't know if I..."
"Did he tell you not to tell? C'mon, it might be important".
"You won't tell him I told?"
"No. I don't gossip for the hell of it".
"There was this one where he said he was walking down a long, dark corridor lit by torch light towards a closed door. He said he's been dreaming of it for months now".
"Does he know where it leads?"
"He said to the Department of Mysteries; he realized that shortly after Mr. Weasley was attacked... I'm not sure how this helps".
"Neither am I".
"Does he know what's in there, what's so damned important that it's getting people killed?"
"No. What's that expression you Yanks always use?"
"The excrement's about to hit the impeller?"
"Yeah, that one... it's just a question of where it all lands", Hermione explained.
It was a bigger deal than Jadin had first supposed. By the afternoon break, the "great escape" became just about the only subject of conversation. There were the usual wild rumours: they'd been spotted in Hogsmeade. They were supposedly hiding out at the Shrieking Shack, they were going to storm the gates of Hogwart's, hold all the students hostage to make their final stand. None of it resembling the truth at all.
"Hey", Jadin greeted Horace. They had the common room all to themselves. "Need to contact Impmon..."
"I'll keep an eye out", Horace volunteered.
Jadin took out his digivice, and entered Impmon's ID. Impmon's face appeared on the holographic screen. He was at Hagrid's cabin.
"It looks like you're gonna get your wish after all: something's going down. If you haven't heard just yet, ten of Whatshisname's Death Eaters just walked out of Azkaban, and are on the loose. It's all anyone up here can talk about, and Umbridge is passing more decrees to put an end to it. I have a real bad feeling about this".
"'Bout damn time".
"Stick close, we may have to move quickly. I expect Dumbledore's gonna want another meet-up pretty soon. Then, after that, who knows?"
"Will do", he said as he signed off.
"What do you suppose is going to happen?", Horace asked.
"He'll probably be wanting us to help him round up those Death Eaters".
"Can Impmon do that?"
"He'll probably have to digivolve, but yeah, he can".
Hogwart's: Dumbledore's Office
"Ahhhh, Mr. Weston, come in", he invited.
"More questions about the Digital World?", Jadin asked. "You want me and Impmon to round up those Death Eaters?"
"Not this time", Dumbledore replied, "I wanted to ask you about Mr. Potter".
"Harry? What about him?"
"What can you tell me about these 'dreams' he's been having?"
"Not much, I'm afraid. He doesn't like to talk about it".
"I see. What have you heard? You said it yourself: there are few secrets at a boarding school".
"I don't like to gossip, but I've overheard Ron and Hermione talking. I think the dreams are getting worse. Ron says that he's awakened almost every night by Harry's talking or screaming in his sleep".
"Ummmm...", Dumbledore said, as he sat behind his desk, lost in thought. "Has he been practicing his Occlumency?"
"Not according to Hermione. I overheard her admonishing him to try harder. The way she told it, it doesn't look like Harry's trying to block them out".
"Ummmm...", was his only reply. "Most unfortunate. I was afraid he'd do something like this".
"He wants to challenge Whatshisname on his own?"
"Yes, I'm afraid he is, and for once, I agree with Professor Snape and his assessment of Mr. Potter. But that need not concern you".
"About these Death Eaters..."
"The Ministry made that problem for themselves. If they won't take my advice, then it's out of my hands. I warned them".
"If you don't mind, Professor, but Harry asked me if I would ask: why are you being so indifferent all of a sudden? You haven't been paying him any attention..."
"I have my reasons that don't concern you..."
"I promised I'd ask".
"Yes, of course, and you're fulfilling a promise, as any loyal friend should. I am not at liberty to say, but you can assure Mr. Potter that I have his best interests in mind, and for him to be patient for now".
"I'll do that".
"That will be all", as Dumbledore dismissed him.
"What did he say?", Harry asked as soon as Jadin stepped out of the spiral escalator.
"Just like I figured: he basically told me to mind my own damn business, but not in so many words, or so directly. He did, however, tell me to tell you that he's still thinking of you, and that he is acting in your best interests".
"That's it! Nothing about why he won't see me?"
"All I can do is ask, but that's all I got: Dumbledore said that he's acting with your best interests in mind. As for what he's up to, your guess is as good as mine. We'll just have to wait and see".
"What else did he want this time?"
"He wanted to know more about the capabilities of Impmon's digivolutions", Jadin lied.
"I don't get it, and it's driving me nuts", Harry complained.
"He doesn't take me into his confidence either. I ask, and get the run-around. The only thing I can tell you is that it may have something to do with you and that psychic connection you have with Whatshisname. He has made a few veiled references, if that's of any help".
"Thanks for trying".
The next incident involved the Divination professor: Sybil Trelawney. She was standing in the middle of the entrance hall, surrounded by various items of luggage which had been thrown down the stairs.
She was holding an empty bottle of cooking sherry, drunk as a skunk.
"NO! NO! This can't be happening!", she said with a furry tongue. "You can't..."
"Actually, I can", came that voice of faux pleasantness of the High Inquisitor. "Even though you have failed at everything, even predicting tomorrow's weather, even you should have been able to foresee your dismissal. After failing several inspections, even you should have been able to predict your dismissal from the faculty".
It looked as though Umbridge was enjoying tormenting the x-professor.
"Y-y-y-y-ou c-c-c-can't... do this! H-h-h-hogwart's has b-b-b-been my h-h-h-home for s-s-s-sixteen years!"
"'Has been' being the operative words here. It would be best for you to leave with a modicum of dignity so as to not further embarrass either yourself or Hogwart's".
Professor McGonagall was pushing her way through the gathering crowd. She put an arm around Trelawney, handed her a hanky.
"Calm yourself", McGonagall reassured. "No one's forcing you to leave Hogwart's"
"Y-y-y-you... mean it?"
"And just who gave you...", Umbridge began to protest.
The main doors swung open, and Dumbledore stepped through, as if on cue.
"That would be me, Madam", he announced.
"Now see here, Professor", Umbridge began to object. "The Minister has given the High Inquisitor – that would be me – full authority to dismiss any member of the faculty who's not measuring up"
"That is quite true", Dumbledore replied, still speaking as though in full command. "You do have that authority. However, you do not have the authority to evict anyone from the castle. That authority still resides with the Headmaster, and that would be me. It is my desire that Professor Trelawney remain here at Hogwart's for as long as she desires. Could I impose on you, Professor McGonagall, to help Sybil back to her rooms?"
Professor Flitwick had his wand out: "Locomotor luggage!"
Her bags followed like a puppy, as Sybil leaned on McGonagall.
"And what will you do when I hire a replacement who requires her lodgings?"
"Oh that won't be necessary for I have already hired a new Divination professor, and he will be perfectly comfortable with the first floor, so he won't be needing her lodgings".
"Now see here..."
"It is still within the authority of the Headmaster to hire new faculty. If you will check the Educational Decree establishing the office of High Inquisitor, you will find no provision that takes this decision from the Headmaster".
"Who could you get on such short notice?", Umbridge demanded.
There was a clip-clop of hooves. "May I introduce Hogwart's latest addition to the faculty: Firenze"
Umbridge was speechless, and knew to keep her mouth shut. Firenze was a centaur, and Umbridge had a definite problem with non-humans.
"I have been looking into adding a centaur to the staff. As you may or may not know, centaurs are well known for their divination abilities. I was fortunate enough to win over Firenze's agreement to at least try".
It was obvious that the High Inquisitor's plans had been thwarted once again, and there was nothing she could do about it.
Impmon was awakened by persistent knocking at the door. He looked around, the only source of light came from the last of the dying embers in the fireplace. Impmon flicked up his index finger, and an orange fireball appeared, hovering just above his fingertip. He used this to light his way to the door. He lifted the heavy latch and swung open the door.
"Dobby begs Master Impmon's pardon...", the small figure with a very long, thin nose, not the slightest trace of hair on a head too large for the rest of his body, which was covered with a crude poncho-like piece of old material, a thin rope around the waist, bare feet, said in an overly apologetic tone.
"Uhhhh, wuz goinon?", Hagrid grunted, still half asleep.
"Visitor", Impmon replied, "Dobby". So this is a house elf, Impmon thought. He could see how they might be taken for digimon.
"Dobby?", Hagrid said, as he rolled over in his bed.
"Dobby begs Master Hagrid's pardon, but Master Dumbledore needs Master Impmon to come to his office right away. Dobby will take Impmon by way of the servants' entrance and passageways".
"Jadin, wake up", he was roused from a sound sleep. He looked up through sleep-filled eyes that took a few seconds to focus.
"Imp... Professor Flitwick?", he finally recognized the faculty head of House Ravenclaw, as he was about the same height as Impmon. He was carrying a lantern with a single candle burning inside. "What time is it anyway?", he asked.
"A little after 1:00AM", he replied.
"Uhhhh, wassup?", his roommate, Horace, asked.
"You need to come with me right now", he said. "Go back to sleep", he ordered Horace.
"I'll get dressed and then..."
"No time for that, you need to come at once".
He slipped his robe over his PJ's, gathered up his digivice and card carrier. Flitwick led the way towards Dumbledore's offices.
"Professor McGonagall? Impmon?", he asked as they had already arrived, and were waiting by the spiral escalator leading to the offices.
"You two: in", she ordered. This abruptness wasn't her usual style. Jadin and Impmon could only exchange questioning glances as they rode up.
McGonagall simply pushed open the door without bothering to knock first. Dumbledore was sitting behind his desk, still wearing his headmaster's robes. He was folding a piece of parchment into thirds. Next, he dripped some hot sealing wax over the seam, and pressed his signet ring into the wax.
He descended the short staircase to the lower, main level, and gently stroked the head of the bird Jadin thought was a scarlet macaw at first. The bird pulled his head from beneath a wing.
"Fawkes", he addressed his pet, "we need a look-out", Dumbledore gently requested, as if the bird understood every word. The bird's answer came with a flash of fire that seemingly burnt it to nothing.
"Fawkes is a phoenix", Dumbledore explained. "I'm afraid we don't have much time, and I apologize for calling you here this time of night on such short notice. Jadin, Impmon: you will have to leave at once".
"Where are we going?", Jadin asked.
Dumbledore returned to the upper level, Jadin and Impmon followed. Dumbledore opened a closet, and rummaged around briefly before reappearing with a small, fire blackened, iron kettle. It looked like it was just barely big enough to hold one averaged-sized can of baked beans. He set it on his desk, took out his wand: "Portus", he said as he tapped the kettle. The kettle emitted a bluish-violet light, the same colour of a corona discharge, and bounced on the desk as if moved by its own private earth quake. This continued for about five seconds; the kettle looked normal as ever once it settled down.
"I'm sending you two blocks south of Grimmauld Place. You are to go directly to Sirius' house. The address is number twelve". He handed Jadin the parchment: "Here is your letter of introduction...". He was interrupted by a flash of light, and a long, golden feather appeared out of thin air. Dumbledore reached out and caught it as it drifted towards the floor. "Fawkes' warning: Minerva, delay whoever it is for as long as you can". McGonagall left at once.
He handed Jadin a small, silver case about the same shape and size as a pager. It was the first thing that looked like technology he'd seen in a long while. "This is a 'Putter-Outter', press the red button to extinguish any source of light. Use it to kill the street lights. Press the green button to reverse the effect. I'm sending you by Portkey", he pushed the kettle towards the edge of the desk. "Jadin, Impmon, take hold of the kettle, and hold on tight". Impmon and Jadin did as asked, holding the kettle between them.
"How does this work?"
"It's a bit disorienting, but effective. No time to explain: on the count of three". Dumbledore took out his wand: "One (tap)... Two (tap)... Three". They both felt an immediate acceleration, the floor seemed to drop out from under their feet, their hands firmly welded to the kettle as they flew down what looked like a tunnel of light. Unlike a trip via digigate, they retained a sense of time, and felt the fierce slipstream that made conversation impossible. They seemed to be moving at an impossible velocity: they should have burned up like a falling meteor or satellite. If the passing lights were coming from the ground, then the tunnel effect they saw could only mean that they were moving at nearly the speed of light.
The landing was no harder than that of doing a long jump, but the kettle clattered to the ground, making more noise than Jadin would have liked to hear, as Impmon ran to retrieve it. Jadin looked around, there was a quarter moon rising to his left: "It should be this way", Jadin said.
They came to the street sign for Grimmauld Place, and Jadin took out Dumbledore's Putter-Outter. The buttons had inset LEDs. He pointed it at the nearest sodium vapour street light and pressed the button. The light went out immediately. There was no trace of an after glow from the red hot inner quartz tube. He clicked out another, and every one they passed. Grimmauld Place was a cul-de-sac, and Number 12 towards the back. Jadin saw that one house had an "11", and the next a "13". Between them, a vacancy that looked too narrow to be anything other than overlapping side yards.
"Lead on", he requested, and followed Impmon. Impmon banged at a front door Jadin couldn't see. "Hold your horses", Impmon heard someone say from behind the front door. The door opened into a foyer lit by many candles in holders, and to Jadin looked like a void in space with nothing around or over it. The door was filled by the form of a rather grotesque looking man. He was leaning on a heavy, knobby, walking stick that looked like its other purpose was to serve as a club. He was missing half his nose, a scar slashed across his face. His right eye, an unremarkable brown. His left eye was missing, covered by a much larger, electric blue cybernetic eye held in place by a leather band as would an eye patch.
"Whothehellareyouwhatthehellareyoudoingherehowdidyoufindthisplacewhatthehellareyou?!", he asked in a most aggressive manner, as his cybernetic eye scanned rapidly.
Jadin took out the parchment: "I have a letter of introduction from Professor Dumbledore".
He took the letter roughly from his hand: "Wait right here", he ordered, as he closed the door. Impmon could hear muffled voices, but could understand just snatches of the obviously heated discussion taking place inside: "Dumbledore", "Muggles", "Lost his...", "Can't have...". The door opened again, but this time, Sirius Black stood there, the other man leaning heavily on his walking stick in the background.
"I wondered when you would be paying us a visit. Come in, come in - don't worry, his bark's much worse than his bite", Sirius invited. "I'm Sirius Black, by the way".
"Harry's godfather? He's talked a lot about you".
"I hope he said good things".
As Sirius was closing the door behind them: "Oh wait", Jadin said as he pulled out the Putter-Outter and clicked the green button. At once, all the street lights were back on again. No delay as when first turning on a sodium vapour light.
"I'll take that", Mad Eye said. "...And that", meaning the kettle Impmon was still holding.
"Follow me", Sirius said as he led them towards a large room with two sliding oak doors. There was obviously some sort of meeting in progress. "Let me introduce everyone: Remus Lupin", he indicated a rather distinguished man who was a former Hogwart's Defense Against the Dark Arts instructor, and who looked professorial.
"I hate that name; I go by just plain Tonks", she said. Tonks didn't look much older than Jadin, and had dyed her hair a bright pink.
"You've already met Mad Eye".
"Mad Eye, only to my friends", he said in such a manner to indicate this didn't include Jadin and Impmon.
"You already know Professor Snape"
"Professor", Jadin greeted.
"Arthur Weasley: Ron's father".
"Heard about that snake attack, hope you're feeling better", Jadin said.
"Good as new, thanks for asking".
"And Hestia Jones", Sirius introduced, going around the table in the order they'd seated themselves. "Everyone: this is Jadin Weston and Impmon".
"Hi", Impmon waved at the group.
"Hello all", Jadin greeted.
They'd heard all about Jadin and his unfamiliar "familiar", though this was the first time most of them actually met.
"Have a seat", Sirius invited, as he tapped the table with his wand, causing its length to increase. Two extra chairs appeared out of nowhere. Impmon hopped up, sliding his tail through the gap between the seat and back. Moody was grumbling about something as Jadin was sitting down. "What was that?", Sirius asked.
"I'm still an auror... if it was anyone but Dumbledore, I'd haul these two to the Ministry for obliviation... Muggles at a meeting of the Order... may be Albus really is losing his mind. May be the Prophet was right all along".
"Quite", Snape agreed. "If it were anyone but Albus, and if it were anyone other than Mr. Weston. Unlike most of my students, he tries to learn even if it does him no good. Speaking of my students, has Mr. Pot-ter been practicing his Occlumency?"
"I don't think so, Professor. I over heard Hermione arguing with Harry: she was telling him that he should be trying harder to shut out the dreams, and he blew her off. It would seem he's been keeping Ron awake almost every night. If you ask me, I don't think he wants to shut them out. I also worry that Whatshisname is setting him up for something having to do with the Department of Mysteries..."
"And what, pray tell, would you know about the Department of Mysteries?", Snape sort of snapped at him.
"I'd bet that it's behind a black, featureless door at the end of a long, dark corridor dimly lit by torch light". Jadin noticed the looks of surprise being exchanged around the table. "That's what Harry says he sees in these dreams or visions".
"Upon what do you base your assumption?"
"If I were him, that's what I'd do. Feed him a dream about this mysterious corridor and door through that psychic connection. Do it repeatedly for months on end. Even if the dream was nightmarish, you'd get pretty curious about what was behind that door, wouldn't you? Pretty soon, you might even begin to look forward to this dream: may be tonight's the night you get to open the door, see what's behind it. Then let him watch in real time the attack against Mr. Weasley. That way, you'd figure the visions are for real, and that they're reliable. Then, begin feeding the disinformation, some propaganda that convinces you that going to the Department of Mysteries to recover whatever he's so desperate to acquire is doing a good thing. May be even that which leads to his down fall".
Snape propped his elbows on the table, hands clasped together to make a pyramid with his long index fingers under his chin. He looked at Jadin for an uncomfortably long time before saying anything.
"Courteous, respectful of his elders, astute: all the qualities lacking in Mr. Pot-ter", he pronounced "Potter" with a sneer, an up turning of the lip, and an extra emphasis of contempt. "You have surmised correctly. That is the reason I tried teaching Pot-ter Occlumency, but he is just like his father: so arrogant that he believes he can fight the Dark Lord all by himself..."
"Isn't that a bit harsh, Severus?", Lupin asked.
"No, it is not", for the first time, Snape raised his voice. "I've known all along that Pot-ter had no intentions of learning and practicing Occlumency, and that I was wasting my time. However, Dumbledore requested that I try, and so I did. That was until I caught Pot-ter looking at my most private thoughts in my pensieve. That shows just what an arrogant, immature, foolish little brat Pot-ter really is. Harsh, Remus? You have no idea... If it was anybody but Dumbledore...", he said, echoing Moody's words and sentiment, "I would never agree in the first place".
Turning to Jadin: "Do you know the contents of the letter you brought with you?"
"No sir. The Professor was blotting it dry, and sealed it up as I was arriving. There was a certain urgency, and all he told me was that it was a letter of introduction".
"Mr. Weston, it would seem that you have been inducted into the Order of the Phoenix, you and your... ummmmm..."
"Partner. I'm Jadin's partner", Impmon said.
"Don't interrupt me again", Snape replied. "...as full members. I don't agree with this at all. We're not allowing Mr. Pot-ter and his friends to join as they are all under age, and you're no older. Though Wizarding Law doesn't apply to you, I hope you appreciate the jeopardy this places you in. And the trust the Professor, and the rest of the Order, is placing in you. Voldemort is hunting the Order even as the Order hunts him. Now, if you will excuse me, I must be getting back to Hogwart's".
Snape left the sitting room.
"Why did you have to leave so suddenly?", Tonks asked.
"I don't know. Professor Flitwick woke me, and I didn't even have time to get dressed. Then we went to the entrance to Dumbledore's office, and Dobby had brought Impmon with him. Fawkes warned us about someone coming, and the Professor send Professor McGonagall to head 'em off. Then he sent us here by Portkey. Something's going down, that much is obvious".
"I see...", Tonks was interrupted by a flash of light near the ceiling. A single golden feather floated to the table top.
"Fawkes' tail feather: what does it mean?", Impmon asked.
"Professor Dumbledore has gone into hiding", Sirius explained.
"What do you mean? Dumbledore's gone into hiding?", Jadin asked after the others attending the meeting had departed.
"He's been afraid something like this would happen sooner or later, that Fudge and the Ministry would move against him, remove him from his position as Hogwart's headmaster, perhaps even set him up to take a fall that would land him in Azkaban. Even if they could not convict him of a crime, a criminal trial would take much time and energy better devoted to building opposition to Voldemort. I'm sure you noticed even during your brief stay at Hogwart's that powerful political interests were moving against him. Now, it looks like his worst fears have been confirmed. He wouldn't have done this unless the aurors had come to arrest him, probably on trumped up charges", Sirius explained.
"I don't know right offhand. He did send instructions that you and Impmon are to stay here. You are not to leave..."
"The hell you say! Mom... Dad?", Jadin asked.
"Harry already knows about digimon. He was there when Impmon transfigured..."
"Digivolved", Jadin corrected.
"OK, digivolved, and destroyed two Dementors. You have also heard that Harry and Voldemort have a psychic connection that was forged on the night that he was attacked as a mere baby. So far as we know, Potter is the only one to actually survive the Avada Kedavra - the killing curse, one of the three Unforgivable Curses. For a long while, Voldemort was not aware of this connection, or that Harry was sensing his emotional states, receiving snatches of visions, or that he was able to sense his presence. However, after Harry's vision of the attack against Arthur Weasley, it is Dumbledore's belief that Voldemort has realized this connection exists. Harry saw the whole attack from the snake's point of view. If he knows, then that psychic connection becomes a two way street: Voldemort could very well tap into Harry's memories and discover what he knows about digimon. If he finds out about Impmon, he will come after you. Either to win you over to his side, or destroy the both of you if he can't. Knowing about digimon, he just might try to recruit digimon to his side. That was one of the reasons that Harry was supposed to learn Occlumency - to keep Voldemort and his visions out of his head. For whatever reason, Harry failed to do that, and as you know, the visions are continuing. It's just a matter of time until Voldemort learns about you, Impmon, digimon and what you are capable of", Sirius explained.
"Actually", he continued, "we're in the same boat. Since I'm the only remaining true family that Harry has, I have to stay under the protection of this house, and the security charms my father put in place so that Voldemort can't take me hostage as Harry would come to try to rescue me, and you can't leave because you know too much. There's just one other thing I need to take care of...", Sirius said.
"Kreacher!", he called out. "Kreacher! Get in here this instant!", he ordered. The Black family house elf appeared from the direction of the kitchen. Unlike Dobby, he was obviously elderly. He seemed too small to fit completely in his own skin, tufts of white hair grew out of his bat-like ears, eyes bloodshot and watery grey as if he'd been drinking heavily. He was completely naked, except for a filthy rag he wore as a loin cloth.
"Master called Kreacher?", he said.
"You see these two?", Sirius asked, pointing at Jadin and Impmon. "You are not to disturb them. You are not to mention that they are in this house to anyone. You are not to repeat anything you may overhear them say, or tell anyone about anything you may see them do. Not by word of mouth, not in writing, not drawing pictures: do you understand, Kreacher?"
"Yes, Master, Kreacher understand".
"Good. Now leave us".
"Yes, Master", as the old house elf turned to head back the way he came. "Mudbloods in Mistress' house bad enough. F'kin muggles - it's a good thing Mistress didn't live to see this", he muttered almost, but not quite, under his breathe.
"What was that all about?", Jadin asked.
"Kreacher was more my late mother's house elf than mine. Quite frankly, I don't 100% trust him, and I want to make certain he doesn't try to pull anything".
"If you don't trust him, then why not set him free?"
"So long as he remains bound, the enchantments that bind him make sure he never disobeys a direct order. I set him free, then he can blab whatever he knows to whomever he pleases. That would most likely be my cousin: Narcissa Malfoy. He might as well report directly to the Dark Lord himself. If you read the interview in The Quibbler, you're aware that Lucius Malfoy is a Death Eater".
"Why treat him so badly?"
"Don't tell me Hermione's gotten to you too?"
"Actually, she has. It's disgraceful how house elves are treated".
"It's the way they are. Don't confuse them with digimon. They're just smart enough to do menial tasks, follow simple instructions, and they lack free will. Kreacher is nothing like Impmon. Nothing at all, besides, freeing him would not be an act of kindness. He's too old to make the adjustment, and it would probably hasten his end. If you doubt that, ask him sometimes how he would feel about being released from his service".
"I still don't like it a damn bit, but it's your home, not mine. I also don't agree: from what little I've seen of him, it's obvious that Dobby is smarter than that. Just sayin' may be try a little more kindness? May be give him some cleaner cloth to cover himself with?"
"Yes, Hermione", he said sarcastically. "After putting up with all of his shit for all the years I lived here, he's getting better than he deserves... It's getting late - or early - depending on how you want to look at it, so I'll show you and Impmon to the guest bedroom. As for Dobby, every rule has its exception".
"I had to leave so suddenly, I didn't bring any clothes".
"Don't worry about that. I'll contact Mrs. Weasley. I'm sure one of her boys has something that'll fit you".
Sirius led the way: "When you come to this part of the house", Sirius explained in hushed tones, "be very quiet".
He pointed out a pair of long, moth and doxie eaten curtains. "Life size portrait of Mother's behind there, and you definitely do not want to arouse her", he warned. Jadin and Impmon looked at each other. They decided that asking for explication could wait.
They passed a row of plaques with shrunken heads mounted like little hunting trophies. They looked like house elf heads. Before they could ask: "The heads of deceased house elves who worked here. That one, there, was Kreacher's mother".
"Isn't that just a bit, well, sick?", Jadin asked.
"Yes, it is. It should be obvious by now what kind of magicians built this house those many years ago. You see, most families have their 'black sheep' (finger quotes). I, however, was the 'white sheep' of mine. I turned against the practice of Dark Arts, and pretty much got myself disowned. I would have lost the house were it not for an oversight in the preparation of a will. That, and the fact that I am the last of the line of Blacks. The height of irony was offering the house to Dumbledore to serve as the headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix to oppose the darkest of Dark Wizards".
"Then why don't you get rid of shit like that?", Impmon asked.
"I have gotten rid of as much as I could, but some things, like that hideous portrait of Mother, those house elf heads, and some other items have Permanent Sticking Charms that render it impossible to do so. Believe me: I've tried. Kreacher also has a habit of going through the garbage to rescue items that I'd rather not see again. He squirrels that stuff away where he thinks I won't find it".
At the second landing, Sirius pointed to a door off to the right: "Guest bedroom", he said. "It's been cleaned up, and you'll find it nice. It would be a good idea, though, to lock the door behind you. Kreacher has a habit of wandering the halls, and you don't want him waking you up in the middle of the night".
The guest bedroom had high ceilings, a fresh coat of paint, and comfortable four-poster beds. Impmon placed his fashion accessories on his night stand and flopped into bed, as Jadin took a few minutes to figure out how to turn off the beyond antiquated gas lamp chandelier.