"So we have a place to meet, being fortified as we speak?" Daphne repeated, her smirk almost gleeful. "That is excellent, of course."
"It's all thanks to Hermione and Cedric," Harry said, grinning. "That almost makes up for having no luck with Bellatrix."
"I am sorry about that Harry," Daphne sighed. "But I have a surprise for you," she added indulgently.
With what could only be described as a grin on Daphne's face she pulled something from her pocket. A flick of her wand later and a large bronze chest grew before them.
"I contacted a very specialised dealer of battle wear in wilds of Scandinavia," she explained theatrically. "Not only is the House of Black on his very select client list, I have managed to procure eight original Serenson shrouds."
Harry's jaw dropped.
"You are joking," he breathed, running his hand across the top of the solid bronze chest. "I thought they were a myth."
"In fact they are not," she replied smugly. "It seems with enough goblin gold and a Black family seal, you can do a lot these days. In one of the handwritten books of your ancestors, one family member mentioned one and I just so happened managed to track down the original creators heirs, they still own the company. I contacted them soon after our engagement and asked them to find me as many as possible. They found two, unused dating from the sixteenth century and made a special exception in creating half a dozen more."
"This is incredible," Harry murmured, before letting out a heartily laugh. "You're incredible," he announced, pulling her into his embrace.
"I thought perhaps one for each of your Hogwarts ambassadors," she proposed, before lifting her chin up high. "And future generals."
"You're brilliant," he said simply, before kissing her.
Eight students sat in eight armchairs, centred around a bronze chest.
"I now bring this meeting of the elder's council to order," Draco pronounced in a silly, nasal voice. Harry smiled as Susan took the initiative and through the spoon from her cup of tea at his head.
"Oi!" the blonde protested as he ducked out of the way, sending an offended look at the Hufflepuff. "In all seriousness; we need a name," he said. "The Chamber has a name, really original," he added sarcastically. "
"What do you mean, Draco?" Daphne asked.
"Well, the eight of us need a name, and our group as a whole when people join us, all good groups have a name."
"I suppose Draco is right," Hermione admitted grudgingly. "But as Cedric here, is the oldest of us all. I think the elder's council is a little premature."
"I don't know," Daphne said, in a teasing voice. "It might throw people off the scent and Draco certainly looks like he's going grey."
"Listen Greengrass," he retaliated, rounding on his housemate.
"Draco!" Harry interrupted, holding up his hand to halt what he was sure would escalate into a fully blown tirade. "Remember whose fiancée you are talking to." Draco rolled his eyes and slumped back into his chair, sulking.
"And Daphne, please save your bullying for the common room," he added in the interest of fairness.
Daphne smirked and gave him a wink.
"Can we choose a name so we can move on please," Harry asked impatiently, he was keen for Daphne to reveal her gift to them all. "Any ideas?"
"Potter's army," Cedric contributed, not in the least bit serious.
"And associate ourselves also with the younger Potter, hardly," Daphne scoffed.
"Maybe we should go for something mysterious, so if people eavesdrop and hear the name they won't be given any more clues," Padma piped up.
"My grandfather once told me that the name of the death eaters, whilst they were still at school, was the Knights of Walpurgis," Draco said sombrely. "Certainly not too obvious."
"Each of us must come up with one idea, for our next meeting, we'll vote on the best one?" Harry offered.
Finally. Everyone agreed and they could move on. Harry waited with growing anticipation as Daphne explained her gift to them all. She was met with either confusion or shock, followed by profuse thanks and praise. Harry almost groaned in annoyance as Hermione revealed that she didn't really know what they did, having not been raised on magical myths with her muggle parents.
"They morph permanently into the perfect armour. Not only will they be lifesaving in a battle, but also give you an insight on what aspects you should practice. For example, the armour comes with a sword, you know that if you trained up you could be a fantastic swordsman," she explained.
"There are two antiques and six new," she continued. "The antiques were commissioned by the Black family to be made in the sixteenth century but for some reason had never been used."
"Well it's only fair that Lord and Lady Black have the Black family antiques," Cedric pointed out. "Go on Harry, try one on first."
Harry grinned at Cedric and slowly opened the lid of the chest. Resting on the top was a cloak, which looked as if it was made of the same material as invisibility cloaks, it was like fluid in his hands. It was one of two cloaks which had a deeper, almost red-wine tinge to the material. Carefully he wrapped the shroud around his shoulders, the others watching in wonder and it seemed to sweep upward over his head and down toward his shoes. They were amazed when almost instantly; the cloak changed its shape, as if being moulded out of clay. When the process was complete, Cedric conjured Harry a full size mirror.
The breast plate caught his eye first, with seven suits of armour stamped into the solid silver, running in a line down the centre of his chest. The apparatus was not cumbersome and heavy like he was a medieval knight, but fit him like a second, protective skin. That was the only metal armour he wore, his arms and legs were covered by what looked like a thin layer of very fine chainmail, but felt like fleece. Bringing a finger down on his fore arm he noticed how diamond hard it was from the outside. Baffled at this feat of magic he turned, noticing the scarlet cloak hanging from his shoulder and the wander holster, on his right wrist.
It was armour that was obviously made for impression as well as actual battle. The fit and materials, surprisingly allowed him to enjoy all the movement that could have been afforded had been wearing jeans and offered him a great deal more protection. But with his billowing cloak and shining silver breastplate, he cut the imposing form of a leader, too. Harry noticed that it looked like the battle uniforms of aurors were loosely based on this design.
Daphne tried hers on next. A long, black skirt descended to her booted feet. The skirt itself was distracting, always moving liquidly, as if stuck in a constant breeze. Beneath her skirt, leg holsters hid throwing knives. Her corset seemed to offer no protection to the wait beneath, but she was sure there must be some magic that she would discover later. Her arms and shoulders were bare, which worried her. She did not have all the protection that Harry did.
"You'll be a lady," Neville pointed out, when she voiced this, speaking up for the first time all evening. "I think it's trying to tell you that you're meant to be commanding the army from the side lines, not leading it. Those are stealth weapons and riding gloves." Daphne nodded with a small smile.
"Thanks Neville," she replied.
The other's outfits were a little simpler, but the less did not defer from the theme. Each of them looked impressive, as though they could command a battle, but still as though they could be a team. Susan, who could hardly wait to practice with her new, golden bow, seemed the most enamoured of them all. In the end, they were all very pleased with what they had obtained; each admitted that the features would suit them in a duel. Though they joked that Hermione's had no portable library.
The eight teenagers left the chamber in the early hours of the morning, and only because Harry started to notice Susan dozing off in her chair. After Harry said goodnight to Padma and climbed the stairs to his own dormitory, he pulled the next book he thought might be of help to Bellatrix from the pile on his bedside table.
Ten minutes later he was fast asleep, the book resting on his face.
"Hey Nev," Harry said as he joined his friend in the library, adding the usual charms as he did so.
"Hey," he replied distractedly, not looking up from his book. Harry studied him for a moment.
"Look Nev, are you alright?" he asked tentatively. "You were rather quiet yesterday."
Neville sighed and looked up from his book.
"I guess I have been a little distracted," he admitted. "I saw something on Monday which has left me a little anxious."
"What was it?" Harry asked, leaning forward not being able to contain his curiosity.
"It's just… perhaps I imagined it, you know what I'm like-"
"Neville!" Harry interrupted.
"Sorry, it's in Defence Snape was sparring with a Slytherin student, just as an example you, well they got lucky, slashing hex hit Snape's arm, and I could have sworn that through the rip in his robes I could see the dark mark."
"Well we all knew he was a Death Eater," Harry pointed out. "Even if no one would ever confirm it."
"Of course he was, but you're missing the point. I could see it. I was four rows back," Neville said earnestly. Harry frowned.
"But inactive Dark Marks are so faint," Harry muttered, eyes locking with Neville's. "That could be bad."
"Very, very bad," Neville agreed. "I'm sure You Know Who is not back… we would know for sure."
"But he could be returning, what if the tattoo colour shows his strength," Harry wondered out loud.
"You don't think that could be true?" Neville asked, his voice was wary, but showed that although he respected the threat, it did not frighten him like it once would have.
"I'm worried that it's a possibility," he shrugged. "We go home for Christmas in a fortnight, Bellatrix and Lucius have both got marks. We should be able to find something out from them."
"If there was an imminent threat, you would be informed of it?" Neville checked.
"I am sure of it," Harry confirmed.
It has been three weeks since my last letter, usually you are so prompt!
First I must ask if you are quite alright, and if the answer is positive, then have I said something to offend you?
I am sorry, I know you must be very busy and find my letters a chore. I hope you do not take offense to this letter.
All my love, Fleur
Harry groaned as he read this note. How could he have forgotten to reply to her owl, it had completely skipped his mind, he had been so busy.
Quickly, he sent her an owl apologizing and promising to send her a proper, long letter shortly. As soon as Hedwig had left the castle he got out his quill and started to write her proper letter.
(AN- I would love your names for the groups pleeeeeease, I have unfortunately drawn a mind blank. To the person, whose name I use I will… give them a character, give them an important plot event of their choosing, give them sneak preview …. Or marry them, it's really up to you. But I am in desperate need of your suggestions. Thanks )