Hello readers! I have surprisingly little to say. The story crawls on at its own pace, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. I am well. Germany won the World Cup (Called it!) and we made Quarter finals so that's all nice. Did a road trip in France with my beta and a mutual friend, that was very awesome. Exams were decent enough as well. I believe that's enough about me.
Thanks to my beta, MsCalypso. For once again performing admirably and keeping me on task. You have her to thank for me still writing in a vaguely-reminiscent-of-timely manner.
Thank YOU for following, favoriting and ESPECIALLY for reviewing. I think that's all so... Enjoy the chapter.
Longbottom Manor, July 14th
Draco and Lucius had their duel. Draco won. Lucius fled but survived. Mrs. Malfoy's location currently unknown.
Draco has assumed official Headship of House Malfoy. Family Ring has been recalled by Goblins, Draco is in possession.
Lucius managed to reach Gringotts before Draco could banish Lucius from the family. Lucius managed to: take a lot of gold out of the vaults, sell off Malfoy Manor's house elves and owls, and sell multiple investments at great loss.
Lucius has been officially cast out of House Malfoy, he and any new progeny will not be acknowledged as Malfoys.
Draco took some injuries, a few serious burns as the most notable amongst them, but he has fully healed.
With the urgent information out of the way, as per your request for our summer correspondence, I can finally get onto the pleasantries. I hope that's okay with you because we are still friends, right?
Draco and I are both fine, he is busily overlooking his estate and trying to save as much of the Malfoy fortune as he can, though I'm worried because he hasn't mentioned his mom even once, and he keeps changing the subject when I try to bring her up.
There is no full Wizengamot meeting scheduled until the twenty-first, so Draco has some time before he, or an as of yet to-be-appointed proxy, needs to make his appearance in the political arena.
He is currently residing at Malfoy Manor, due to his lack of staff however, he will be coming over for dinner for the foreseeable future. He hopes to visit you, incidentally also for dinner, on the sixteenth, please send word to Draco to discuss further details.
Unlike Draco, I have had a lovely and worrilesssummer so far, as I spend my time working in the greenhouses and practicing my dueling skills. Gran has arranged for an instructor who comes by for a few hours every other day. He's an old colleague of my parents, a retired Auror. Apparently I have the same style as my dad! Other than that though, Mr. Myles doesn't know anything interesting about either of my parents. He claims that he was never close to them, which is too bad, as I'd been hoping for a few stories at least.
I've also had a few discussions with Gran about the return of You-Know-Who. (I know your opinion on the matter of his name Harry, but I don't want to provoke fate.) Gran thinks that the Ministry is severely underestimating the danger he poses, and she's been in contact with Dumbledore to ask how she/we can contribute.
That should be everything I needed to mention...
Yes, I've checked, that is all I needed to say. More information will come your way as soon as it becomes available to me. With all of that out of the way, there is nothing left for me to say, as asking about your own summer will only get me sarcastic answers at best. (Draco claims that I should add the following: Yes, I DO know you that well. That's rather rude, but he really did insist!)
*I attended a Muggle Studies class because Hannah claimed it would be interesting, and the Professor wouldn't mind, or so she claimed. Apparently, RSVP ASAP is a common Muggle saying meaning so much as Répondez s'il vous plaît, as soon as possible. The combination of French and English strikes me as odd, but RSVP ASAP does roll off of the tongue rather smoothly imo.**
**imo apparently stands for 'in my opinion'.
Harry let out a tired sigh as he glanced over Neville's letter again. It contained a lot of information, and Neville getting distracted at the end had thrown Harry off from what was truly important.
So Draco had not only survived, he had won. Excellent news. Of course, he had failed to kill Lucius, thus losing the chance to take out one of Voldemort's Inner Circle. Lucius would be hell-bent on revenge of course, so that was definitely a bad thing, as was Mrs. Malfoy's mysterious disappearance. It had to be said however, that, overall, Draco had booked a great success.
Neville training in dueling was excellent news as well, as his reliance on seeds, acids, pods and other Herbology-related objects, would cripple him during a serious battle. If he managed to become a half-decent duelist, he could become a true force on the battlefield because of the versatility his plants afford him. But he would need skill with a wand for that. Until that time, he remained a one trick pony.
It might be nice to have Draco over for dinner, especially if Harry had to go with Dumbledore to this secret location the next day. As an added bonus, Draco visiting would allow them to talk in detail about the current situation, and how to proceed from here on out.
Grabbing parchment, a quill, and a pot of ink, Harry hummed in thought before beginning to pen his reply.
Dinner had been surprisingly pleasant, Harry reflected, as he packed away the last of his possessions. Dumbledore would soon be arriving to pick him up, which was why he'd packed almost everything he owned. The only things left behind were furniture and a set of spare Muggle clothes, just in case.
Draco had been polite and grateful, praising Aunt Petunia ceaselessly for her cooking even though the food - unfortunately - hadn't been anything more than decent. Continuing in the thread of things being unfortunate, Draco had not brought good news, which did dampen the mood for the remainder of the evening.
First off, Narcissa Malfoy was still missing, which meant she was almost certainly in hostile hands. Whether or not she was still alive was a question they did not have an answer to. Draco held onto hope, believing that his mother would be able to get herself out of whatever situation she was in, but Harry was far less optimistic, and had done his best to prepare Draco for a worst case scenario.
Second on Draco's list of bad news, had been an insight into the financial state of the Malfoy financial empire. Lucius had sold a lot of things, at very low prices. Fortunately, the damage had been mostly limited to hard cash and less important shares in certain companies. The bigger shares hadn't found a buyer fast enough, which meant Draco had luckily been able to salvage those. Nevertheless, the Malfoy family's monthly income had been crippled, as had their pure net worth.
Of course, Lucius having plundered the Malfoy vaults also directly implied that Voldemort's war chest had been substantially expanded. Increased means meant increased power so that was also very much bad news.
Despite all of this, Harry was optimistic. Dumbledore would arrive in a few minutes, Harry would accompany him to wherever he planned to take him, explore, and then he'd talk Albus into letting him return here for the nights. Surely the Headmaster would see things Harry's way, he was after all Hogwarts' top student and Albus' personal pupil!
Having said his goodbyes to his family already, Harry carried his trunk downstairs. Hopefully Dumbledore's top secret location would hold a way for him to fix his arm. Damage sustained by Dark Arts couldn't be healed his arse. He'd find a way! Giving Hedwig a worthier form had supposedly been impossible too, and then he'd found a way nevertheless. The only downside had been her failed brood with Fawkes, which Harry didn't want to be reminded of. Some things were best left in the past.
The doorbell rang at the perfect time, as Harry had just finished lugging his trunk towards the front door. Taking the last few steps needed to reach the door, Harry pulled it open, coming face to face with Albus Dumbledore yet again.
"Hello Harry, I trust you are ready to leave?" The headmaster smiled gently, eyes twinkling as he looked his favored pupil over.
"My trunk is packed and I've said my goodbyes so I do believe I am," Harry said nonchalantly, wanting to get underway as soon as possible.
"Very well, and I assume you've held to Madame Pomfrey's regime? No magic whatsoever and plenty of rest?" Dumbledore asked earnestly as he flicked his wand towards Harry's trunk, seemingly as an afterthought. With a pop, it disappeared.
Obviously, Harry thought, his possessions had been sent on ahead, saving him the bother of having to lug them along manually.
"Of course, as long as the person telling me what to do knows better than me, I have no problem following said instructions. It just so happens that people knowing better than me are few and far between." Harry spoke casually, not paying attention to Dumbledore's disappointed frown.
"Now now Harry, don't you think that's a bit arrogant?" Dumbledore asked softly while staring at him with his piercing eyes.
"If the truth can be arrogant, then yes, it might be," Harry responded carelessly, "Now, about this secret location, are you absolutely certain that there is no way whatsoever for me to travel to and from it on a daily basis? My family actually enjoys my presence, and I theirs, so it would be rather nice if you could change your mind and allow me to spend my evenings here at least."
Dumbledore let out a tired sigh, "Alas, Harry, it is simply not safe, for any party involved. Even now Voldemort seeks for you in an attempt to avenge the humiliating defeat he suffered a few weeks ago. And there's also the simple fact that your presence will be useful at least, and potentially even essential at the location I cannot speak of in public." Dumbledore shot down his hopes of coming back home, "Now, if you would hold onto my arm please."
Frowning, Harry grabbed onto Dumbledore's arm. They spun, and after the horrible sensation that came with Apparating, reappeared in a dirty, broken down playground, facing a grimy row of houses. They had appeared somewhere in a Muggle city, and in a rundown neighborhood at that.
"What is it with wizards and dirty locations?" Harry wondered out loud, having hoped for a somewhat more proper destination.
Albus chuckled, "Alas, although I have solved quite a few mysteries during my life Harry, I must admit that the answer to your question remains unknown even to me."
Harry turned fully to his professor, to ask what their next step was, however, Dumbledore beat him to it. He leaned towards Harry's ear before softly speaking, "The Headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix are located at Grimmauld Place #12."
For a second, Harry could only stare uncomprehendingly. The moment he tried to ask a question, he managed to make the connection. Fidelius.
Looking back towards the houses they had been facing upon arrival, Harry focused on the division between numbers 11 and 13, and indeed, they started to move away from each other, a new house appearing between them, slowly widening from the width of a single hair, all the way to normal proportions.
"Quickly now Harry, we must make haste." Dumbledore spoke, as he rapidly crossed the street, aiming for the steps leading up to number 12's door.
Harry hurriedly followed the older wizard, now curious about what he was about to see. Headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix. That must mean that Albus plans to involve me fully in the war effort! Oh this is excellent! My time won't be wasted here after all!
Not bothering to hide his reappearing smug grin, Harry watched on as Albus knocked on the door. He could hardly believe it, he was actually going to become a member of Dumbledore's secret anti-Voldemort order.
The voice that sounded from behind the door though, was like a bucket of cold water being thrown over Harry's head.
"Who's there?" An unpleasantly shrill voice asked, the slight tremble betraying no great amount of self-confidence. No, surely there was a mistake, Dumbledore couldn't possibly allow just anyone to join the Order?
"It is me Molly, Albus, no need to worry. Would you mind opening up for me and Harry?" Dumbledore calmly asked, his voice carrying a soothing undertone, clearly meant to put 'Molly' at ease.
The door swung inwards, allowing Harry to spot Molly. He couldn't be more displeased with what he saw. A short, fat woman, with shockingly red Weasley-hair.
This isn't happening. Tell me that this isn't happening.
"We weren't expecting you for another half hour at least Albus! Oh come in, come in, dinner's not ready yet so if you want any you'll have to wait another forty-five minutes." The Weasley woman spoke hurriedly, before turning to Harry, who tried to back away only to find that the hallway was too narrow to allow for such maneuvering.
"And you must be Harry, a pleasure to meet you sweetie. Why you look just like your father! You're horribly thin though, what have those relatives of yours been feeding you?" She spoke, aggravating Harry endlessly.
I'm not thin, you crone! How dare you question my family!
"Yes well believe me when I tell you that that's not by choice," Harry responded acerbically. That should make it clear to this woman, who was probably the Weasley matriarch, that Harry wanted nothing to do with his father or anyone vaguely Potter.
"Oh you poor dear!" The woman crooned, "Don't worry, I'll get you an extra large portion for dinner, we'll have you up to a proper weight in no time!"
"Wh- That's not what I meant!" Harry spoke affronted, only to be ignored as the fat woman hustled him past the hallway and up the stairs.
"I'll go show him his room real quick Professor Dumbledore sir, the others are in the kitchen, you go right in!" The harpy continued, to Harry's mounting frustration.
"Thank you Molly, you are simply too kind." Dumbledore answered with a smile, before walking off towards the kitchen. Leaving Harry with a shocked expression on his face. He could not believe that the old man didn't correct this woman about his family! The fat crone thought his Aunt and Uncle were child abusers!
The harpy blushed furiously at Albus' compliment, before leading the way up the stairs, leaving Harry no other option than to follow. Up the stairs they went, and up again, and up again. And then once more.
"The fourth floor? You have to be kidding me, you can't possibly expect me to do all those stairs every time I want to go downstairs!" Harry complained, aggravated at what was clearly a grave injustice.
"I'm sorry dear, all the other rooms are taken already, unless you want to share a room with Ronald and Max? I'm sure we could move another bed in there." Molly offered with a smile, looking pensive as she considered that option.
Harry paled, share a room with Max and Ron? He'd pass.
"Oh you don't have to go through any trouble on my account, this floor will do fine. I'm assuming that one of these two doors leads to my room?" Harry hurriedly spoke, trying his best to sell the sincerity.
Mrs. Weasley smiled, "It's that one, on the right. Sirius sleeps in the other room. You go right in, we'll call you when it's time for dinner."
Harry gave a curt nod before entering the room, no longer paying attention to the harpy as she went down the stairs again.
The room itself was very… bare. There was a bed, a closet, and a desk with a chair. There was no decoration whatsoever, even the walls were a drab cream color.
Shrugging, Harry unpacked, putting his clothes in the closet and his books in a pile on the desk. The room was still far too empty, but he couldn't do anything about that just yet. Maybe if he found a way to use magic during the summer, he could transfigure a couple of things.
For now, all he had were his books, none of which he wanted to read, again, right now.
Realizing that he'd have absolutely nothing to do for the next half hour or so, Harry was just about to go and explore the house a little, when two pops signaling Apparition startled him.
"What the-" He swore as he whirled around, only to discover that the Weasley twins had Apparated into his room.
"Oh, you're here as well?" Harry asked casually, playing off his previous surprise.
"Marvelous to see you old chap, simply marvelous." One of the twins started enthusiastically, whilst both extended their hands, each clasping one of Harry's between both of their own as they shook energetically.
"Simply spiffing, I must say." The other one spoke equally exuberantly.
"Fred, George, delightful as always. I assume your entire family is staying here then?" Harry said slowly.
"Bill isn't," Fred frowned, "Charlie isn't," George groaned.
"But the little ones are both here," Fred continued more happily, "As are mum and dad, so that's every one we care about accounted for." George finished, leaving Harry puzzled.
What about Percival? He wondered quietly, but he decided to keep that question to himself for now.
"Alright, who else is here?" Harry asked interestedly as he moved to lay on his bed, resting propped up against the headboard so he could keep the twins in sight.
"Well there's Max and Hermione for starters. Mr. and Mrs. Potter are here too. Then there's Sirius and Lupin, that's everybody who's staying here on a daily basis." Fred spoke, casually falling into Harry's desk chair.
"Then there's Tonks, Kingsley, Moody, Hestia, Dedalus, Dung, McGonagall and Snape. There's probably more but those are the only ones we've met so far." George finished, hopping up to sit on the desk, so that both twins were sat close together, which made it easy for Harry as it meant that he didn't have to twist his head to look at whichever one was speaking.
"Dung?" Harry stated quizzically, eyebrow quirked bemusedly.
"And beloved business associate!" The twins spoke happily, not bothering to hide their pleased grins.
"Of course. Do you know anything else about what's going on here?" Harry questioned amusedly, it was just like the twins to find the seediest fellow they could find and use him for their business plans.
"Well, we actually developed these nifty little things." George spoke, as Fred started digging around in his pocket.
"Extendable Ears!" Fred shouted proudly as he pulled out an ear on a long string. It had a rather sickly pink colour.
"Get the earpiece into position, plug the string into your own ear, and listen as if you were standing there yourself."
"Perfect for eavesdropping on 'secret' meetings."
"That's… actually really impressive." Harry complimented, getting identical pleased grins from the twins, "Did you pick up anything interesting whilst you were 'testing' those?" And he gestured at the pink string in Fred's hands.
"They're guarding something and You-Know-Who's laying low, that's all we know."
"That was surprisingly unhelpful, I was expecting you both to have picked up a little bit more than that at least." Harry said, frowning slightly.
"Hey man, the Order runs a pretty tight ship, and with our mom around, we aren't exactly getting-"
"All that much wiggle room, if you know what we're sayin'." The twins explained, clearly having accepted the situation.
"Perfectly understandable," Harry answered calmly, "So what else have you been up to during the last couple of weeks?"
As the twins launched into a waxing dialogue about their research into new product lines they were planning to sell, Harry was more intent on what would happen after dinner. He'd get inducted into the Order and then they would catch him up on whatever this thing they were guarding was.
So lost in thought was Harry, that he was actually startled when the twins stood up, "Come on, dinner should be ready any second now, we might as well get moving. Time is money after all!" Fred spoke, following after George as they led Harry out of his room and down the enormous amount of stairs.
The threesome made their way down the many stairs, the twins not reacting as somebody let out a muffled curse from behind one of the other doors they passed. Based on their lack of interest in the sound, Harry felt confident in his assumption that it must have been Ronald.
Finally, they reached the ground floor again, and Harry cursed internally when he realized that he wouldn't have a break from climbing an awful amount of stairs every day, as he'd been expecting, now that Hogwarts was out for the summer.
The kitchen door opened about halfway, Molly Weasley's wide body barely squirming through before she closed the door behind her. She looked at her twin sons suspiciously, Harry remaining unnoticed behind them, "Why are you boys down here?"
"We were hungry," Fred announced loudly.
"Isn't dinner done yet?" George added curiously, both twins looking at their mother with surprisingly innocent expressions. If Harry hadn't known that the twins were truly downstairs for dinner, he would have gotten suspicious merely from the looks on their faces.
"Well yes, I was just about to call the others down, you might as well go in," The harpy admitted, barely getting out of the way fast enough as her sons rushed into the kitchen, probably hoping to discover some tidbit of information that hadn't been hidden away yet. "Behave!" Mrs. Weasley added sharply, and, apparently, too loudly.
With a shriek, a portrait exploded into noise. The curtains that had until that moment been hiding the ugly visage of an elderly witch, were blown aside as she unveiled herself: "MUDBLOODS! DEFILERS! BLOOD TRAITORS! HALF BREEDS! HOW DARE YOU ENTER THE ANCIENT AND NOBLE HOUSE OF BLACK! LEAVE! LEAVE NOW! KREACHER! KREACHER! EXPEL THIS FILTH FROM MY HOME AT ONCE!"
Instantly, the door of the kitchen flew open and a man came bursting out of it and into the hallway, swearing just as loudly as the portrait, "SHUT UP YOU HAG! I SWEAR TO MORRISSON THAT I'LL FIND A WAY TO REMOVE YOU FROM THAT BLOODY WALL!"
"YOU! TRAITOR! FILTH! LEAVE! LEAVE NOW!" The portrait shrieked, Harry frowning in displeasure. Why did nobody have the common sense to silence the damn thing?
The man, whom Harry now recognized as Sirius Black, was struggling with the curtains, "Somebody give me a hand here!" He shouted, leading Harry to look around for someone to come to the man's aid. However, Molly Weasley had gone up the stairs to call down Max and his friends, and no help was coming from the kitchen either.
Sighing, Harry stepped up to Black's side, grabbing onto the curtains before he started to try and pull them towards the middle of the portrait. The task proved more challenging than he had anticipated.
"Come on, on three," Black spoke between pants, not even glancing at Harry to check who was aiding him, "One, two, three!" Both pulled with all their might, managing to pull the curtains shut with their herculean effort.
"Thanks for the help," Black started, as the turned to look at his aide, pausing as he became aware of Harry's identity, "Harry." He finished awkwardly, trying to play off the hesitation by smiling.
"You're welcome Black." Harry spoke shortly, before moving for the kitchen, leaving Black and his awkward smile to stand next to the hag's portrait as he passed through the door opening.
The first thing Harry noticed, was Dumbledore's presence. The venerable old wizard was seated at the head of the long, rectangular table that commanded the room's attention. He was conversing softly with a still rather unhealthy looking Mad-Eye Moody, who was sat to Dumbledore's right.
On Albus' left hand side sat Professor McGonagall, in quiet conversation with the woman next to her. Harry didn't know her, but she had a very stately air about her.
Further down the table sat two men who were clearly Weasleys. An older man, who was just starting to bald, and one younger, with a dragon fang for an earring and his hair long and untamed. Father and an older brother most like. Arthur Weasley, and one of his two oldest sons, Bill or Charlie. Which was surprising, as the twins had said that neither was present.
There were a few others scattered around to fill in the empty chairs between Dumbledore and Arthur Weasley, who seemed to act almost as a divide between calm and serious on his left side, and loud and boisterous on his right. James and Lily Potter sat on Arthur's right hand side, with Remus Lupin opposite Lily, and an empty chair probably meant for Black opposite James'.
A younger woman with obnoxiously bright purple hair sat next to Harry's mother, and the twins had taken the seats next to Remus Lupin, from where they were throwing curious glances at their brother. Seven empty seats remained at the table. The one on Arthur Weasley's left was probably meant for Molly Weasley, and the one next to James was clearly spoken for as well.
Which left the five at the right end of the table, the kiddy corner as it were. Harry was annoyed by that, as he'd hoped to take part in serious discussion during dinner, but he'd have to make do. Although having to sit so close to the Potters was something Harry was less than pleased about, he took the seat opposite Fred, next to the purple-haired woman. At least this meant he could follow some of the conversations.
It left him sitting with his back to the door, but walking around the table just to sit next to Fred would seem childish, and Harry knew that a good impression would be key, if he wanted to be taken serious.
Fred immediately made introductions, "Tonks, meet Harry, Harry meet Tonks." He spoke, waving his hand from the purple-haired woman to Harry, and back.
"Wotcher Harry!" Tonks said enthusiastically turning around in her chair to extend her right hand for a shake, elbowing Lily in the ribs during her maneuvering. Though petty, that raised Harry's opinion of her significantly.
"Nice to meet you as well," Harry answered, shaking Tonks' hand. Suddenly, Tonks' hand grew both heavier and hairier in Harry's, which did admittedly startle him somewhat.
Looking at Tonks' face, he was met with a mischievous grin, and he could hear Fred and George chuckling next to him. Amused, Harry let his own hand freeze over with a tiny crust of ice. Judging by Tonks' startled spasm, she hadn't been expecting that. Hurriedly she let go of Harry's hand.
"I'm a Metamorphmagus, what's your trick?" She asked curiously, looking at Harry's now once more defrosted hand in fascination.
"I have some wandless abilities involving water and ice." Harry replied honestly, deciding that understating things a bit couldn't hurt.
"You can do wandless magic? That's wicked!" Tonks whisper-shouted, her loudness fortunately surpassed by a bark of laughter from Sirius, who'd just returned to the kitchen.
"Thank you," Harry smiled politely. Tonks was a bit exuberant for his tastes, but she was nice enough. At least she was trying.
Further conversation was postponed as Ron Weasley entered the kitchen, closely followed by his younger sister, Granger and Owens, and Max.
Oh joy. Harry thought sourly, turning back in his chair to face the table proper.
Clearly, Gryffindor's Best had been informed that Harry would be joining them, because none of them made fools of themselves by calling attention to him. Owens took the seat next to his, with the Weasley girl across from her. That could've been worse, out of the group of five, these two were probably the most tolerable.
Granger and Ron took the two remaining chairs, leaving Max without one. Lily used a softly-muttered Geminio to provide a chair for Max,who set it down at the head of the table, so that he had Ron and Hermione on his right and left hand sides respectively.
Now that everybody was present, Mrs. Weasley started putting food on the table. Two kinds of soup – tomato and onion –, sausages and chicken breasts, potatoes mashed or fried or as a salad, all kinds of vegetables; all of it onto the table, Harry's eyes growing wider with each dish that was added. He had not seen this much food together since Hogwarts.
Eagerly, he passed his soup bowl to Tonks to have it filled. Harry went with the onion soup, because he hadn't had it in ages, and if well made it could be astonishing. Of course, he didn't know how good a cook the harpy was. If Ron's ravenous eating at school was any sign, it would probably disappoint.
When Harry ate his first spoonful, he realized that he would have to revise his opinion. That woman the Weasleys called mother was no harpy. No, she was a goddess. How could she be anything else? The soup was divine, perfect of consistency and seasoning. One second Harry still had a full bowl, the next it was empty.
For the next few minutes, no conversation was made, as everybody was content to sate their hunger on Mrs. Weasley's cooking.
Slowly, conversation started up around the table. The twins were whispering suspiciously amongst themselves, Tonks managed to engage Lupin in a flirty conversation, which Harry thought odd as Tonks seemed rather young for someone of Lupin's age. On his other side, Max and Ron were talking about Quidditch, and the three girls were discussing their plans for the next day. The verb 'cleaning' did not sound promising.
Harry was quite content to be left to his own devices, eating quietly as he considered the Order. He'd been expecting something slightly more impressive, but clearly Tonks at least was a new recruit, which meant that the Order had been proactive in that regard at least.
Getting Granger and Owens, known associates of Max, away from their Muggle parents was also an intelligent decision. They might even make Harry's summer tolerable, as both were significantly less irritating that the two boys at the end of the table.
Looking at the twins in front of him, Harry wondered why they were not members of the order yet. They were seventeen years old after all, and Harry thought their talent and resourcefulness no secrets.
Glancing around the table, Harry's gaze came to rest upon the har- Mrs. Weasley. That might explain it. She didn't seem the type to let her sons join as dangerous an organization as the Order.
"How was your vacation?" Owens suddenly asked him from his right, surprising him somewhat as she'd been involved in a conversation with Granger and the youngest Weasley when last he'd checked.
"Pleasant enough, although the missing-an-arm part is getting rather frustrating." Harry answered, his casual glance at Granger and … - Minnie? Mary? Vicky? -informing him that those two had devolved into whispering.
"That's one way to put it I guess," Owens said hesitantly, "Can't you go to Saint Mungo's with it?"
"If I'd managed to hang onto the actual limb that would've been the best thing to do. As it stands, I failed to do that, and too much time has passed besides. Officially, my best chance is a prosthetic. Unofficially, this place is supposed to have a library which I am supposed to find interesting." Harry explained patiently.
Owens snorted disbelievingly, "There's no way they're going to let you use the library. It's too dangerous."
Harry frowned, "First of all, fighting a war whilst missing an arm is undoubtedly far more dangerous. And secondly, who, exactly, is going to deny me?"
"Mrs. Weasley won't allow it. And besides, it's Sirius's library so you'd have to get his approval as well. Hermione didn't get it, so why should you?" Owens asked almost challengingly.
Harry could feel his proverbial –and literal, if he cared to make the effort – hackles raising, "Unlike Granger, I have both experience in the relevant subjects and an actual need to use them. Secondly, Mrs. Weasley, whilst admittedly a magnificent cook, has no right to forbid me anything. Thirdly, Black will surely see my need if I explain the situation to him."
"You'll have to do a better job explaining things to him then, because you sure aren't convincing me." Owens had the audacity to state, still not folding under Harry's frustrated gaze.
Harry took a deep breath, cool air filling his lungs and calming him down significantly. He'd forgotten how much Owens could get on his nerves.
"How fortunate that I don't need to convince you, if that's the case. Don't worry your pretty little head over matters such as these Owens, they're complicated and delicate. And those are not things you are well versed in. So to speak." He shrugged.
She turned red, "You are such an arse! I can't believe you!"
Not looking to get into a row on his first night at the Order's headquarters, Harry didn't reply in kind. He simply turned his gaze away from Rachel, and back to the table at large. Everybody had, or was close to, finished, and seemed to be quite content to sit quietly and wait for someone to speak up.
After another minute, Dumbledore leaned forward in his chair, drawing everyone's attention without even needing to make a sound.
"Excellent as always Molly, we would truly be lost without you," The venerable old wizard started speaking, nodding at Mrs. Weasley, who turned flaming red at the Headmaster's praise.
"Now, before anybody leaves, I would like to formally introduce Mister Harry Potter." Everybody turned almost as one to look at Harry, those closer to Dumbledore having to lean forwards or backwards in their chairs, craning their necks to get a better look.
"Everybody at this table has already been informed of his exploits during the Triwizard Tournament, and in particular of the events immediately following the Third Task, so I see no need to delve back into those." Dumbledore spoke, most people turning in their seats to regard their leader once again, giving him their undivided attention. Or close to it at least, because Fred and George were whispering mutinously to each other, and the kiddy corner to Harry's right seemed rather agitated as well.
"Harry will spend the remainder of summer here, until Hogwarts opens her doors again. The reasons for this are twofold. Firstly, Harry, like Misses Granger and Owens, is a known associate of the Order and has Muggle family who might be endangered by their presence." Harry could see his father mumble something to Lupin and Black, who hid their laughter behind their hands. That had better not concern his Aunt and Uncle, because if it had, there would be spells flying before midnight. He wouldn't let that filth disrespect his true family. Underneath the table, his hand slowly reached for his wand.
"Secondly, Harry's current physical disability is a severe handicap to our side's strength, and we must look into every avenue available to us. It is with that in mind, that Harry will be spending a significant portion of his time here in the library on the second floor, to look into potential cures or treatments for his situation." Dumbledore spoke, barely finishing before a storm of protest erupted.
Black and Moody objected loudly, and he could hear Granger whisper furiously on his right as well, though her words were unintelligible to the louder tones of Moody and Black.
Black was loudest, and incidentally the one who was answered first, "You can't let the boy into the library without my permission, the wards won't allow it!" He shouted furiously, having jumped upright, his chair near falling over from the brusque movement.
Dumbledore remained very calm however, "Which is why I expect you to give Harry the permission he needs, Sirius. I promise you that his time there will be well spent."
"I won't allow it. The books in there hold knowledge not fit for normal men, let alone for a child!" Black shouted, his face reddening steadily as he got more worked up. When Dumbledore opened his mouth to offer him an answer, Black continued.
"Even assuming the boy can handle them," Continually being referred to as boy was getting on Harry's nerves, "Why should I trust him with such knowledge? Merlin knows what he might do with it!"
Still Dumbledore remained calm, although the trademark twinkle had left his eye, "And what do you mean by that, Sirius?"
Black exploded, "He's a Parseltongue! He nearly killed Max! He's been ridiculing us and telling lies for over a year!"
Harry had grown progressively more upset, but now he decided to speak up, "Lies? I have been telling lies? Me? That I am a Parseltongue I will not deny, but you will not call me a liar to my face and get away with it."
"You slandered us in the Prophet!" Black bellowed furiously. Harry fingered his wand beneath the table.
"But was any of it a lie?" Harry riposted, almost politely.
Before Black could come respond to that, Dumbledore intervened, "There have been some unfortunate misunderstandings, but the time for childish bickering has passed. Sirius, I personally guarantee that Harry has the necessary background to safely work with the material, as well as the character to use what he learns only for good."
That clearly didn't satisfy Black, but at least he sat down, although he kept trying to kill Harry by glaring. Black, like countless others before him, failed.
"Alastor, you too had something to say?" Dumbledore continued, looking at the grizzled veteran sat to his right.
"I lost a few pounds of flesh in my day, and I too went looking for miracle cures." Moody spoke darkly, his magical eye fixating on Harry.
"There are ways to regain what the boy lost, but they require sacrifice and are dark in nature." Moody continued, sitting more upright and openly turning to Harry.
"You go ahead and look for those rituals yourself boy. If you're willing to pay the price. But know this: I'll be keeping my eye on you."
A heavy silence hung over the room. Eventually, Dumbledore broke it, "Before we end this meeting, would anybody like to bring forth any other issues?"
Harry frowned. He hadn't been made a member of the Order yet.
Hope that was to your tastes, a very not nice point to put a cut in. But y'know, this chapter's pretty big for my standards, and I really wanted to upload instead of work for another one and a half months or so. Give me your opinions. Do so through review or message. Also, tips on good stories are always appreciated. That is all.