Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by J. K. Rowling. No money is being made.
Warnings: Violence and death, though nothing explicit. Slash.
Chapter 12 – Never said we were Light
The following morning Bill was rather surprised to see his twin brothers joining him in front of the door to the 'training room'.
"What are you doing here?"
"The same as you." they replied.
Bill shook his head, a small smile on his lips. He should have known. The twins loved Harry. He had no doubt that the twins would fight the Dark Lord himself for Harry. He knew that he would do the same. He was sure that they wouldn't be the only ones, there was something about Harry that made people trust him, that made them want to follow him, even if he was leading them to Hell.
The arrival of the four siblings interrupted his thoughts. They greeted them with a small smile and told them to follow. As soon as they were in the middle of the field Harry called them over to one side and a barrier went up, dividing the field in half. Harry, the twins and he on one side, Hermione, Ron and Neville on the other. The other three ignored them completely and started running like the previous morning. Harry took out his wand, conjured a round table, four chairs and sat down, inviting them to do the same.
"Well," started Harry when they were all seated, "We were talking yesterday, to see what was the best way to incorporate you in our training, and we thought that the best option was for every day one of us to be your personal trainer. The four of us will train you in the dark arts, practical as well as theoretic, and physical resistance, you will have to have far more stamina to be able to get through the training. Aside from that we will also train you in specific fields that are our strongest points, for example, Hermione will teach you healing magic, Ron prefers conjurations and battle spells, while Neville likes rituals that can be used in battle and I'll teach you wandless magic.
I'm not going to lie to you. It is going to be tiring, you will get hurt and by the end of the day you will be ready to crawl back to bed while cursing our names, but I guaranty that it will be worth it.
And at night, if you want to, we will teach you occlumency, legilimency and how to become an animagus, though in one month we won't be able to do much in those particular subjects.
Your training will start at 6am and will end at 10pm.
It won't be easy, but you will be far better prepared for when the war really starts. However, it is your choice, we won't make you do anything."
They were silent for several moments. Truthfully Bill knew that he was going to say yes, he just hadn't expected to have an actual schedule, and from what Harry had said it would be torture, but still he had every intention of doing it. Looking at his twin brothers he saw a look full of determination and he knew their answer. Looking at Harry he gave him the answer that he knew he was going to give from the beginning.
"When do we start?"
Harry laughed and got up from his chair, he pointed in their direction and the table and chairs disappeared, catching them by surprise and making them land on their butts. Harry laughed again and with a snap of his fingers, their clothes changed to something similar to what Harry was wearing.
"We start now." Harry answered with a smile that all three brothers swore was slightly sadistic.
The following month was the most tiring month the Weasley siblings had ever had. On the second day of training Charlie joined them. After Bill had told him what they were going to be taught the older Weasleys had to admit that everything that Harry said they would be learning was useful. However, no matter how useful it was, that first week they were sure that they had died and gone to hell.
From 6am till 2pm, the training was the same no matter which Potter taught them, they started running at six, from six thirty till seven they ate something, then they started on the dark arts. It was one hour theory, followed by one hour practice, and so on and so forth, till one pm. Then they had lunch and after that they would spend the afternoon with the Potter assigned to them for the day. It went from 2 pm till six thirty, then they would have a small break, then they would start dueling practice, where they dueled against the same dummies that the Potters had used, till seven thirty. When they were finished for the day, their trainer would sit down with them and tell them what they could improve in their dueling, what they had done well, what they needed to learn so that things could work better next time and telling them what they could have done to avoid losing, because for the first two weeks they did nothing but lose. Harry admitted that they had set the level of the dummies above their level, he said that they were around an inner circle Death Eater or an auror of Moody's caliber, that it would be the easiest and fastest way for them to learn, that they would learn from their mistakes. However the siblings changed the dummies level and skill every training, so that they wouldn't get used to just one type of enemy. It was hard, and more often than not they ended that part of the training with bruises and cuts, and in some cases even a broken bones, but it was effective and they were short on time. After dinner they would work on their animagus transformation and the mind arts.
All in all the Weasley brothers had never been more tired but they admitted that they were much better prepared than they had been a month before.
After the first week Remus started to attend the training, he never participated but he was always present. In the afternoons when they were in the library he stayed with them, spending most of the time with Harry, either talking or reading a book while Harry studied. He never said anything about the dark arts books that he saw Harry reading, however his silent support meant more to Harry than what the werewolf knew and Harry was happy to have someone outside of his siblings to support him and stand by his side, regardless of the choices he made.
Neville spent most of his afternoons teaching Ginny healing magic. Even if several things were far above her skills, Ginny appeared to have a natural talent for healing potions, which Neville focused on.
Before they knew it the last month of their vacation was over, and on the night before they all went back to Hogwarts the four Potters were in the library talking about what the new school year would bring, how people would react to the obvious difference in them. However the thing that was most on their minds was the DA and if they should continue with their lessons and if they did how would they do it.
"We could separate the DA in several smaller groups." Neville ended up suggesting.
"Yes, it isn't a bad idea. We could have a group like last year, where we teach anyone that is interested and only general things. But if there is anyone who wants to learn something different, like Fred and George, we could have a different group." Ron agreed.
"Yes, but we need to make sure that we aren't betrayed, I have no wish to train future Death Eaters. We should have a magical contract, something like we had last year, but better. Something along the lines of being loyal to the group and not be a part of any other organization, of course it would have to be far more specific than that, but you know what I mean. Do you have any ideas Mione?"
"I don't know, I will have to see what I can find about magical contracts and the like Harry. I don't have all that much information about that, I will look through our books tomorrow. I also think we need another name, theoretically we aren't Dumbledore's Army anymore, besides our new beliefs aren't something that Dumbledore approves of."
"That's true," Ron muttered, not able to keep back a yawn, "We'll see that tomorrow, alright? I'm dead on my feet, and you know that tomorrow is going to be stressful."
"Yeah, you're right. It's almost midnight and we did wake up at five."
"Let's go than?" Neville asked looking at his siblings.
"You go ahead, I'm going to pack a few books to read on the train tomorrow. Good night."
"Alright, good night Harry." his brothers gave him a hug and Hermione a kiss, leaving him in the library surrounded by books.
That was how Bill found him almost an hour later. Bill had been in the room he shared with Charlie trying to sleep. However, even though he was exhausted from the training, he couldn't fall asleep.
He had been turning in his bed for the past two hours, but he just couldn't sleep. He knew why he was being kept awake, but knowing the reason in no way helped him in solving the situation, on the contrary, in this particular case it only made it worse.
What was stopping him from sleeping was the fact that the next day Harry would be going back to Hogwarts.
In the past month Bill had gotten used to seeing Harry every day, he had gotten used to speaking to him every time he wanted, he wanted to talk to him every time he could. He could also observe him whenever he wanted, he admitted to himself that he could spend hours just looking at Harry and he would not tire of it. Occasionally he swore that Harry was looking at him as well, but that was absurd, why would Harry be looking at him? Either way it was frustrating to be so close to him but still feel worlds apart, and it may be the late hour that was making him far more dramatic than he usually was, but he had absolutely no idea what to do about the whole situation. And the next day his Harry would go back to Hogwarts, which didn't help him at all.
With a frustrated sigh he got out of bed, he would go to the library, maybe if he read one of the more dry books in there sleep would finally claim him.
As soon as he entered the library he stopped because the boy that consumed his thoughts was sitting by a table surrounded by books. Harry must have heard him because he look in his direction and smiled.
"Hey Bill." in Bill's, admittedly biased, opinion Harry's voice was the most wonderful sound in the world.
"Shouldn't you be sleeping? You have to be up rather early." he asked, sitting on the couch beside Harry.
It may have been just his imagination but it looked like Harry blushed a bit.
"You're right, but I can't sleep." Harry confessed with a small shrug.
"Is something wrong?" Bill's worry was clear in his voice, he knew that Harry could take care of himself, and even if the rational part of his brain knew that a big part of him just wanted to take Harry far away from all this, keep him safe and make him happy. He knew it was completely irrational but he just couldn't help it.
"Not really," Harry answered, leaning back on the couch, "I'm just a little wary of going back to Hogwarts. After everything that happened, worrying about classes just seems so worthless, you know?"
Bill almost smiled, the fact that Harry trusted him enough to speak with him about something that upset him, that he was so open with him was something that made him quite happy, however what he said almost broke his heart.
"I wish things were different," he ended up whispering, locking Harry's eyes with his, "I wish that you, all of you, had no bigger worries than your classes. When I was your age my biggest concern was if the person I liked, liked me back. We were so childish compared to all of you. Sometimes I wonder how you manage to get through all of this without losing yourselves."
A sad smile appeared on Harry's face and he seemed to age in front of Bill's eyes, those eyes were far to old to belong to a sixteen year old.
"Who said we didn't?"
"What do you mean? Sure you are more mature but you are still you, aren't you?"
"We lost who we could have been to be who we are. We stood against Voldemort for the first time when we were eleven. At eleven we were ready to die, we knew we could have died, but even knowing that we still went, we still fought. As the years went by we saw justice and truth being put aside for stories that were more convenient for those that were in power, by people that were supposed to be fighting for us. We saw those that are in positions of power use and abuse those same positions, delighting in what they could do against those that couldn't fight back. Tell me Bill, would you be the same person if you had seen all of that before you even turned sixteen? We changed, we lost a part of ourselves, we sacrificed our teenage years, our innocence to what is right, to do what had to be done, to do what the adults should have done. We lost ourselves, we became what you see now. Ron Weasley doesn't exist anymore, neither does Hermione Granger nor Neville Longbottom, and me, well I'm not the Gryffindor golden boy anymore either. We don't regret the choices we made, we believe we made the right ones, I just hope that by the end of it we are proven right."
Bill sat in silence, trying to process everything that Harry told him, he stayed that way till he did something that surprised them both, he leaned towards Harry and hugged him.
"I don't think we will ever be able to express how grateful we are for everything you did," Bill whisper with his face buried in Harry's hair, "When I told you that I wished you didn't have to deal with all of this, it's the complete truth, however a part of me, an extremely selfish part of me, is happy that you have to do it, because otherwise you wouldn't be the person you are now, as you said, and I really don't think I could live in a world where you don't exist, at least where this version of you doesn't exist."
For what seemed like an eternity, they didn't move. Then Bill felt Harry's arms wrap around him, he felt Harry's body mold against his. He felt Harry hold him as if he was a lifeline and he could do nothing but tighten his arms around Harry, delighted with the feel of Harry's body against his, overjoyed to have Harry in his arms.
They didn't know for certain how long they were there, but when they separated and went to their rooms, they had one of the best nights of sleep in a long time. One dreaming about strong arms that made him feel safe, and the other dreaming about green eyes that set his soul alight.
The next morning was as chaotic as all the previous years before they went to platform 9 and ¾. Because of the supposed risk that the journey to the platform involved the Order had several members available to accompany them. Kingsley, Remus, Tonks, Moody and Bill, aside from Mr. and Mrs. Weasley, had all volunteered. Harry didn't think that it was a good idea for so many to go with them, the bigger the group the easier it would be to spot them, however, as usual, Dumbledore ignored his opinion. Not wanting to cause problems that early in the morning Harry just nodded and joined his siblings.
When they arrived at King's Cross they were immediately surrounded by a crowd. It appeared that most of the people had waited till the last possible minute to go to the platform. Hundreds of students and their parents were still on the platform, saying one last good-bye till Christmas break.
No matter how similar to the previous years it was Harry was able to see the slight difference in the atmosphere. It wasn't anything big, but to those paying attention it was easy to see that the joy usually felt in that moment was stained. There was an air of worry around the families, mothers and fathers hugged their children more than once and just a little longer than usual, their fear for the future visible in their eyes when they held their children. Most of the older students were more somber, many of them had lost someone in the previous war and they knew that it was something that could happen again. Even though they were doing everything they could to appear normal, the tension in the air was undeniable.
Mrs. Weasley was giving Ginny one last hug when chaos erupted.
Harry turned around just in time to see the wall beside the entrance to the platform be blown up and Death Eaters starting to invade the platform trowing curses left, right and center. When the first person fell to an 'Avada Kedavra' the frozen shock in which most people had been was broken and panic took over.
Since the explosion till the first death no more than a few seconds had passed, Harry had seen it all as if it was in slow motion, but when the body hit the ground he snapped out of it and took control of the situation.
"Neville," he shouted, "Shield, now!"
Just a few moments later a huge earth barrier, that went from one end of the platform to the other was between them and the Death Eaters.
"Thirty seconds Harry!"
"Right, Sonorus," whispered Harry pointing at his throat, "EVERYONE, GET INSIDE THE TRAIN. QUICKLY! Quietus." he whispered again, canceling the spell, "Mione, I want you in that train, raise as many shields and wards as you can."
"Fifteen seconds Harry!"
Not losing any time to see if Hermione was doing what the told her he turned towards the Weasleys.
"I want you to go from compartment to compartment and tell those inside that know how to, to raise shields inside the compartments."
"There's no time Bill... Go!"
"... give you as much..."
"... time as we can."
The following moment the barrier crumbled and curses flew every which way. It was painfully clear that the numbers were against them, even with some parents helping in any way they could.
Harry, Ron and Neville didn't lose any time and tried to attract their attention, hoping to give the students enough time to run to the train. They attacked the Death Eaters as one.
"Expulso!" they shouted in unison, their curses hitting the middle of the Death Eater force and causing an explosion that left around twenty of them out of the fight. Some of them would never wake up again, but they couldn't think about that. After they made it out of there alive they would think about having taken a life, about having killed someone, at the moment though they could think of nothing but the fight.
The moments that followed were pure chaos, none of them knew exactly what happened. They had no time to think. They were plunged in a deadly dance consisting of dodging, blocking and attacking. However, no matter how good they were, the superior number of the Death Eaters were something that they knew they wouldn't be able to overcome.
"Nev for how long will you be able to maintain the barrier?" Harry asked, blocking a curse and finding a bit of shelter behind a partially broken pillar.
"With all of them trowing curses at it? A minute, minute and a half, at most." Neville replied, stopping at his side.
"Better than nothing. It will have to do. Go!"
Neville nodded and took a deep breath.
As soon as the barrier was up Harry lost no time, he knew how hard it was to make that earth barrier, and how difficult it was to maintain.
"Ron, go help Mione. I want that train as safe as possible."
Ron didn't even nod, he just ran to the train, and even before he entered they saw him starting casting several charms.
"Moony, Tonks, Kingsley and Moody take the injured and help them inside the train, we have about a minute. Moody as soon as you are on the train go tell the driver to go. We can't stay here, we risk losing the train. You three, I want one of you in different carriages, as there are only three of you try to be spread evenly over the train, reenforce the shields and prepare yourselves for an attack." when he stopped talking and the four of them were still standing there he ended up shouting, "Move it! We don't have time!"
That made them move surprisingly quickly and Harry turned back to Neville.
"As soon as we are on the train I want you to look after the injured. How long?" Harry asked looking around, there were still some people on the platform, some were helping others that were to hurt to move, while others were standing by the doors, their wands raised. Harry tried not to look at the bodies that were spread across the floor, he knew that they didn't have the time to see if everyone of them were actually dead. If they risked that it was more than likely that they would lose the train and there would be even more casualties.
"Fifteen seconds, at most."
That's when they heard the train's whistle, signaling that it was ready to leave.
"Right, let's go."
Running towards the train, they made it to the last carriage just in time, as it started moving the second they were in. Just a few seconds later the barrier fell and Harry raised a shield around the train, reenforcing those already present. The train shook with the force of the curses that the Death Eaters threw against it but, fortunately, the shields held. The train took another battering of curses and then, finally, they were leaving the platform. When a minute went by and there were no new attacks, Harry sighed in relief, it looked like the Death Eaters were not going to continue their attack.
All in all the attack hadn't taken more than ten minutes, but to him it had felt like hours. And now, now they had to deal with the aftermath.
Harry looked around, not the least bit surprised to see that Neville was already going from compartment to compartment looking for injured people. Seeing that his brother had everything under control he went to the next carriage, to see if he could find his other siblings or the Order members, while seeing if he came across injured people. The first compartments only had some people with small injuries, a few scratches and nothing more, however their fear was palpable. When he reached the last compartment of the carriage he found Mr. Weasley with a group of children that didn't look older than twelve and were terrified.
"Harry!" exclaimed Mr. Weasley, relief evident in his voice.
"Mr. Weasley, is everyone alright here?"
"Yes, considering the circumstances. I had to leave the others," lowering his voice he continued, "They don't know where their parents are and the parents of that little boy," he said, discretely pointing at the blond boy sitting by the window looking lost, "They're muggles... Do we know if they attacked the other side of the barrier? He was already on the train, but he says that his parents left mere moments before the explosion..."
"Right now we know nothing," Harry replied, his voice just as low, "I don't even know if all the bodies that I left behind were in fact dead. My priority was to get the train out of there."
Mr. Weasley had an unusual somber expression, no doubt remembering similar situations from the first war.
"No one likes to make those choices, no one wants to make them," he ended up saying, "You did what you had to do."
Harry nodded, he knew that it was impossible to save everyone. But he knew that if there had been anyone alive amongst the bodies that he had left them to their death.
"I'm going to look for the others. Can you stay here with them? I'm not expecting them to attack the train, but I would rather not risk it."
"Of course. When you see Molly tell her everything's alright." Harry nodded and left the compartment.
In the following carriage he found several DA members, they were spread through the compartments. Harry was proud to see that they had divided themselves amongst younger students and children that weren't old enough to go to Hogwarts. Harry talked with them, asking them to continue what they were doing, and to write down the name of the children that were there. The DA were a bit surprised at first with his new looks, but after they made sure that he was in fact Harry they did as he had asked. Some of them didn't know where their parents were either but they preferred to keep themselves busy, not wanting to linger on their own thoughts.
Hearing his name he turned around and came face to face with Ron.
"Hey, did you see Mione?" Harry asked, walking towards him.
"Yeah, she's with Bill in the next carriage. There are a few DA members there as well, I've been looking through the compartments. There are e lot of injured people there. The DA are trying to keep the younger ones calm, especially those that can't find their parents and those that saw their parents get hurt. It's... It's complete chaos mate."
Harry sighed, he knew they were in over their heads. They had never dealt with anything like this. However there was no one coming forth to take control of the situation so they didn't really have much of a choice but to continue to do what they had been doing.
"Alright, this is what you'll do. Go through this carriage and in each compartment that you find someone to heal, put a red mark on the door, something that either Mione or Nev will be able to identify. After this one, look through the other compartments in the other carriages. Nev is already looking in the last two so you don't have to worry about them. While you are doing that tell the members of the DA to write down the name of the children they have with them, better yet, of everyone in the compartment with them. That way it will be easier to find someone. When you see your mum tell her that your dad is with some children in the previous carriage. Alright?"
Ron just nodded and started doing what Harry told him. Harry took a deep breath and went to the next carriage. He found Hermione and Bill in the corridor near the last compartment, both looking grim and with their wands in hand. In a small group beside them were Moody, Remus, Tonks and Kingsley, they appeared to be discussing something so Harry let them be and focused on Hermione.
"Mione, cancel the shields and wards that you have up."
His voice made the other five focus their attention on him, but he didn't look at them.
"I need you to go to the carriages back there and start healing the injured. I already told Ron to mark the doors of the compartments with injured with a red mark. The DA that are in the compartments are already writing down the names of the people that are in the compartment with them. Neville is already healing those in the last two carriages. After we have all the lists, with the names, ages, compartments and carriages written on it, we will go through the train to tell the parents where their children are, or to tell the children where the parents are. I've been telling everyone to stay inside their compartment to avoid even more confusion. If you see someone panicking or causing trouble or trying to leave the compartment, stun them, alright?"
"Yes, where will we meet?"
"Prefect's compartment in the first carriage, it should be empty. At least not many people know where it is and how to get in."
"Alright... And if there are some that don't make it?"
"Put a stasis spell on them, we'll see when we reach Hogwarts. Now I'm only trying to put some order in this mess."
"Right." and giving Harry a quick hug she left to do what he had told her.
Someone clearing their throat brought Harry's attention back to the others. Now that the adrenalin had passed, everything that had happened became far more clear. He could hardly believe that he had basically ordered Tonks, Moody, Remus and Kingsley around. He hadn't been thinking about ordering them around, he had just acted, done what he thought was logical. Only now did he remember that they were aurors, Order members, and they probably didn't appreciate being order to do anything by a sixteen year old.
Taking a deep breath he look them in the eyes, half expecting them to scold him. However instead of the angry mutterings he was expecting he saw them looking at him with such intensity that it almost left him speechless, and something in their eyes that he could only identify as respect. And if that wasn't enough, Kingsley said something that only his mastering of occlumency stopped him from gaping.
"What do you want us to do now?"
Harry could hardly believe what he had heard, these people, that he respected and admired, were asking him what to do. It was overwhelming. However he couldn't think about it, he couldn't lose it now, there was still much to do. So, as calmly as he could and with all the authority that he was able to, he gave his orders. He had no idea if it were the rights ones, but to him it were the things that needed to be done.
"Remus, go to the last compartment in the last carriage, turn that to something like an infirmary. We can put the gravely injured or the dead in there. It's a long trip, there is no need for children to see all of that, it would be torture for them to see their friends or family members like that. Tell everyone that is in that compartment to go to the next one. If any of the adults doesn't want to leave tell them what you are doing, if even after that they refuse, stun them. As I told Mione, we don't need any more problems.
Tonks, I want you to go to the first carriage, start with the first compartment and write down the name of the children that are alone, just like I told Mione the DA are doing. But as the DA have to stay in their compartments they can't do the whole train. You can also ask in every compartment if there are any members of the DA inside, and ask them to do it, tell them I asked it if you must. It may make it easier for you.
Kingsley, I want you to do the same as Tonks, though you will be asking the parents. After that I want you to go to the last compartment, where Remus will be setting the infirmary and see who the gravely injured and the dead are.
Moody, we have to be sure that no Death Eaters are on board. It would be disastrous if there were, they could decide to see what sort of damage they could cause before they were caught. Look for marked ones, if they are marked, I don't care if they are students, stun them. If you see anyone causing trouble, stun them as well, we have more than enough on our hands."
"And what will you be doing?" Moody asked him.
"I'm going to create a ward around the train that stops anyone from entering or exiting the train without my permission. I'm only going to take it down when we arrive at Hogsmead and only if we have a squadron of aurors on the platform along with Hogwarts professors, preferably Flitwick and Dumbledore. I don't want to take any unnecessary risks. That's one of the other reasons why I want you to check for Death Eaters Moody. Imagine that Voldemort has another group waiting in Hogsmead, it would be an ideal time to strike, the passengers are frighten, injured, tired. They would be basically defenseless. Now imagine that, aside from the group attacking from the front, he has Death Eaters amongst the passengers. It would be devastating. If I were in his place, it's something I would do.
When we get there we will send Dumbledore a Patronus messenger, though I doubt it will be necessary, news of the attack must have already spread. Either way it doesn't matter. I'm putting that ward up."
The four of them shared a look that Harry wasn't able to decipher and the next moment they were moving. Harry wasn't sure, but he could swear he heard Moody mutter something about 'born leader' and Kingsley nodding along with Tonks.
Shaking his head Harry put it out of his mind, he had work to do.
"If you want I can help with the wards. I'm a curse-breaker, wards and the like are my specialty."
Bill's voice calmed Harry down and he couldn't help the smile that appeared on his face when he turned around. Since he was fourteen he had a little crush on the redhead, at the time, after he freaked out, he didn't pay any attention to it, after all it was only a small crush. It had been difficult at first, he had no idea how the wizarding world saw homosexual couples and besides he had always thought that he liked girls, he still found Cho incredibly beautiful and he even had a crush on her. So meeting Bill and crushing on him freaked him out quite a bit. Ron noticed of course and confronted him about his odd behavior. When Harry confessed that he might like boys as well as girls he half expected Ron to freak out as much as him. However Ron was quick to assure him that it was perfectly normal for a witch or a wizard to like someone of the same gender or even both genders. Ron told him the only thing that wizards really cared about was blood, well not everyone it was more the old pure-blood families, and producing heirs. As there were so few wizards and witches around they had found ways to produce children even with their own gender, well, magic found a way at least. Ron told him that his father had said that it hadn't always been like that, but when the number of wizards and witches diminished it became possible. Ron said that most wizards theorized that Magic made it possible so that it could survive. Harry had to admit that he still didn't know how or why it happened but after that conversation his little crush on Bill was nothing that tormented him, he had even thought that he was completely over it.
However when he saw Bill again after those ten years he almost lost his breath. Until that moment, when he went inside the kitchen and saw him sitting there, he had not really realized how much he had missed him. How much he had wanted to see him.
During that month in Grimmauld Place he took all the chances he got to talk to Bill, and more often than he wanted to admit he found himself looking at the redhead.
Naturally his siblings noticed his fascination with that particular Weasley and teased him mercilessly, he didn't really care, it was the truth after all. Bill Weasley consumed his thoughts.
"Thank you. You can help me with the runes. There are two sets. You can take the second set and I'll take the first one, alright?"
Bill nodded and Harry showed him what temporary ward they would be setting up. The two were immersed in their work for the next half hour, when the runes were all engraved, Harry powered and activated both sets and felt the wards go up around the train. The wards weren't unbreakable, but a good curse-breaker would take at least twenty minutes to bring it down, enough time to call for help and to organize their defenses.
"And now?" inquired Bill.
"Now we'll got to the perfects compartment, unless you want to go find your mum?"
"No. I'll stay with you."
Harry smiled, glad that he wouldn't have to be alone. He was still highly strung, he needed someone to keep him focused.
They first meet Moody on their way to the perfects compartment, followed by Tonks and Kingsley. He told them where they were going and for them to meet there. He wasn't sure if they had heard what he had told Mione so it was better to make sure they knew where they would be meeting.
When they reached the compartment they were silent for a while, till Bill got up and sat beside Harry, hugging him.
"You did everything you could." whispered Bill, holding him tightly.
Harry had no idea how Bill knew what he was feeling and in that moment he didn't care. All his emotions, all his doubts broke free and he wasn't able to stop the tears from falling. With his head buried in Bill's chest, his body shaking, he ended up murmuring.
"So many bodies Bill and I saw children there as well and I didn't even check to see if they were alive. I just left them there. If they were alive and died because of it, it will be my fault."
The tears continued and Bill tightened his arms around Harry.
"Listen Harry," Bill whispered fiercely, full of conviction, "You made the decisions that had to be made. I have no doubt that if it weren't for you we would have lost many more people. I don't doubt that it was a difficult decision, and you have no idea how proud I am that you were able to make it. Those deaths were a tragedy, but you did everything to save as many as possible. Unfortunately you won't be able to save everyone. But, please, don't let that consume you. The guilt would end up killing you and that is something I wouldn't be able to live with."
While Bill spoke Harry's tears stopped flowing and he had lifted his head from Bill's chest and was looking into his sky-blue eyes. Harry was able to see that Bill meant every word. He saw honesty, pride, affection, those eyes showed all of it. Later Harry would blame the adrenalin still running through his body for what he did next, but at the moment he could do nothing but lift his hand and touch Bill's cheek, while leaning forward, never taking his eyes of Bill's. When he was so close that he felt Bill breathing against his lips he whispered, "Bill..."
He saw Bill's eyes darken with desire and he barely heard his name being whispered before Bill closed the little distance that was left between them.
When Bill's lips touched his Harry felt his heart stop. He felt his whole body shudder just from the simple kiss. It was a chaste kiss, just a soft touching of lips. But it help so much emotion, that it took his breath away. And before he knew it, before he could do anything, Bill was pulling away. Harry almost whimpered when he felt those lips leave his.
Bill held his face in both hands and Harry opened his eyes, immediately he found Bill's focused on his. Whatever Bill saw in his eyes must have pleased him, because not a moment later a bright smile appeared on his face and he leaned down to kiss him again.
This the kiss was anything but chaste. Harry could feel Bill's desire, his passion and just moments later Bill's tongue was in his mouth, exploring, tasting every inch of it. Bill's hands pulled Harry against him, till Harry was straddling his lap. Harry felt that no matter how close they were, it just wasn't enough, he wanted to be closer. He writhed against Bill not able to stop the moan that passed his lips. Bill actually growled and his hands flew to Harry's hips, holding them tightly and pressing him closer. Far to suddenly for Harry's taste Bill broke the kiss and pulled away, breathing hard and his eyes dilated with lust. Harry looked much the same and he tried to get his breathing under control. Bill took a deep breath and leaned his forehead against Harry's.
"Dear Merlin, I wanted to do that since you walked in to the kitchen in Grimmauld Place."
Harry chuckled and leaned his head against Bill's shoulder.
"So did I." he whispered, kissing Bill's neck. Bill moaned and Harry felt the grip on his hips tighten.
"I think it's best if you don't do that. I don't think I would be able to control myself. Besides, the others must be coming back."
Harry grumbled a bit, but when Bill kissed him again, making all coherent thought leave his mind, he slid of Bill's lap without complain. He sat beside Bill waiting for the others to arrive.
The first to come back, only about ten minutes later, was Ron. He sat in front of Harry, on the other side of the table that was in the middle of the compartment. He took a deep breath and looked at Harry and they were able to see how tired he looked.
"There were more people injured than we thought," he ended up saying, "More children than what I was expecting. Mione and Nev are doing everything they can, but in some cases they don't have the knowledge or the things they need. The DA gave me these lists."
He gave Harry a few parchments, he looked them over and put them aside, they could do nothing at the moment. After that he explained to Ron the decisions he had made and then they leaned back against their seats, there was nothing they could do but wait.
The next to join them was Moody, who lost no time in giving his report.
"There were no marked Death Eaters on the train. Though a few parents were hysterical, I had to stun them. The students were rather subdued, even the Slytherins weren't causing trouble."
"That isn't a surprise." muttered Ron, gaining questioning looks from Bill and Moody.
"Why do you say that?" Moody asked, sitting beside him.
"Because now they are beginning to understand what it means to have Voldemort back. Now they are starting to understand that it doesn't matter which side you are one, both sides will lose people they care about. They finally understand that their age won't save them, and they will have to chose a side."
"This time there won't be any neutrals," Harry continued, "Voldemort has been waiting for years to achieve his goal, his patience is wearing thin. He won't allow neutrality. Why do you think that he attacked the platform?"
When the older wizards didn't answer Ron shook his head.
"It was a warning," he said, "It was a message, you either are with him or against him. They attacked every house. Pure-blood, half-blood, muggle-born, they didn't care. They were after everyone."
"That's why there is no one marked amongst the passengers, there was no one marked on that platform. His message couldn't be more clear, those who don't have his mark are against him, and being against him is the equivalent to a death sentence. It wouldn't surprise me if there were no attacks on wizards in the next few days." Harry concluded.
"To see if any families approach him. He will probably give them a few days to see if they got the message." Ron nodded, agreeing with Harry's speculation.
Bill and Moody looked at them with wide eyes, they had to admit that it made sense, even if it was speculation on their part. It wasn't something that they would have thought about. It seemed that Harry knew Voldemort rather well and had shared what he knew with his siblings. It was strange, the only other person who seemed to know the Dark Lord like they did was Dumbledore. Even the Order members couldn't even imagine how the Dark Lord thought, how his mind worked. To most of them he was an insane killer, a monster. Terrifying beyond anything they had ever met and they had no wish to know how he thought. It was strange to think that this teens had that kind of knowledge, it made them wonder what else they knew.
The compartment door opened and Kingsley followed by Tonks entered. They both gave Harry their lists and sat down.
"Remus, Hermione and Neville are in the last compartment," Kingsley informed them, "Hermione and Neville are doing everything they can for those that are more gravely injured. Remus is identifying the ones that didn't survive."
Harry nodded and distributed the list between them, he conjured a blackboard where he wrote down the compartments and carriages. Then he divided the space into Children and Parents.
They spent the following moments writing down who was where. Then they matched the children with the parents and wrote down the ones that were missing. A few minutes after they had started Remus joined them and gave them the list with the injured and dead. Harry quickly wrote the information down and sighed.
"Alright we have two options," he said, "We either wait till we arrive at Hogsmead and give this information to the aurors, or we will give the passengers the information that we have."
"I think we should take care of it."
"I agree with Ron, at least it will help calm people down." Bill added.
"Alright. Tonks, you'll talk with the children, tell them where their parents are. However warn them that they can't leave their compartments, for safety reasons. If the parents are on the list of casualties or if they are critically injured tell them the truth if they are older, otherwise tell them nothing. Those that aren't on the train, just tell them that they aren't on the train and that we have no other information. Kingsley can you do the same with the parents, or older siblings?"
Picking up the list they left the compartment and Harry sat back down sighing.
"Great start of year," muttered Ron, the others nodded agreeing, "You know Harry, after this I think that the DA will want to start as soon as possible."
Harry nodded ignoring the questioning glances from Bill, Remus and Moody.
"Tomorrow we will turn the libraries upside down. I want to have those contracts done by the end of the week, at the latest."
Not able to contain his curiosity Bill ended up asking.
"What are you talking about? And what are the DA? It isn't the first time that I hear the name but I still have no idea what it is."
Ron looked at Harry, asking with that single look if he could tell them. Receiving a minuscule nod he took a deep breath and answered.
"Last year we had the worst possible teacher in Defense. We couldn't even use magic in class, we only read out of the damn book and it wasn't even a good book. Mione convinced Harry to teach us since he was the best defense student. He agreed and we ended up forming a rather big group. They wanted a name and at the time the Minister biggest fear was that Dumbledore was building an army, so, more in jest than anything else, we called it Dumbledore's Army or DA for short."
"But that doesn't explain the contracts."
"Things changed Remus," Harry told him, "Last year we were basically a study group, there was a spell or another that were stronger, but that was all. So when Cho's friend betrayed us, we lost nothing. But now, especially after that attack, things changed. There were names of DA members on those lists. Do you think they won't want to fight? Do you think they won't want revenge? Though this time we have something to lose, and I have no intention of training future Death Eaters. So Dumbledore's Army will become Defense Association, and it's opened for all the students, as long as they sign a magical contract."
"But for that you only need one contract, not contracts..." grumbled Moody.
"The other contract will be for another group." Harry admitted, not taking his eyes of Moody.
It took only a few seconds for Moody's normal eye to widen and for his magical eye to focus on Harry as well.
"I was right. You are creating a new side," he muttered, "You will send children to battle?"
Harry and Ron shared a sad smile.
"As of today, the names on those lists aren't children anymore, and after we are through with them they will be even less of a child. However we guarantee that at least they will have a surviving chance."
Ron nodded, in a way he hated what they were going to do, but he knew it was for the best.
"It's better this way," he voiced his thoughts, "I can't say that it's a choice that pleases me. But I would rather see them trained and alive than let them preserve their childhood and dead."
The three older wizards exchanged a look. They didn't know what to say. What could they say? A part of them couldn't help but agree, but as Ron had said, they didn't have to like it.
"Albus won't agree." Moody ended up grumbling.
"I'm not asking for permission." Harry replied with a sad smile.
Moody looked at him and nodded, showing that he understood what Harry meant. He knew that Harry would fallow his own path, he knew that the others would fallow Harry and he also knew that although the objective the Order and Harry had was the same, the path that they would take to achieve it would be completely different. And no matter how he looked at it, he was sure that their path would be covered in blood.
They spend the next minutes in silence waiting for Kingsley and Tonks. Harry sitting as close to Bill as possible without sitting in his lap. Bill's arm was around his waist, his hand on Harry's abdomen, tracing invisible patterns.
When Kingsley and Tonks did came back they looked grim.
"This isn't something that I want to do again." Tonks whispered, her eyes downcast.
Harry understood perfectly. It couldn't be easy to give that kind of news. Trying not to think about it, Harry turned his mind to something else. Something just as important, like how to get in contact with Dumbledore. If he wasn't mistaken than there were only 3 hours of travel left, if they wanted for the gravely injured to survive then they would need medical help as soon as they arrived and for that to happen he would need to talk to someone, preferably Dumbledore.
"Do you have any way to get in contact with Dumbledore, aside from the usual?" he asked the Order members.
If he weren't paying as close attention to Kingsley as he was he wouldn't have noticed the subtle tensing of his shoulders. Nor the quick glance he exchanged with Moody. Containing a sigh Harry looked Kingsley in the eyes.
"I know that I'm not a member of the Order," he spoke in a soothing and calming tone, "However if you do have the means to contact him I ask that you give it to me. I may not agree with all of the Order's politics but we are on the same side. At this moment my only concern is to solve this situation as smoothly as possible and to do that I need to talk with Dumbledore."
Kingsley and Moody shared another glance and after a minuscule nod from Moody, Kingsley nodded and took a Chocolate Frog card from his pocket.
"Every member has one of these cards, they are enchanted. They are all interconnected, to speak with a member you just have to say their name. Their card starts to vibrate till the person answers."
Harry had to admit that it was quite an ingenious method and if they were captured it wasn't something that people paid particular attention to.
"Albus Dumbledore." he said, picking up the card.
A few seconds went by before Dumbledore's face appeared. He seemed older than before, and Harry was able to hear several agitated voices behind him. He recognized where the headmaster was immediately, those paintings of the former headmasters were a dead giveaway.
"Harry!" he exclaimed, not able to hide his shock and the voices that he could hear in the background stopped abruptly.
"Harry how do you have one of these cards? Where are you? Is everyone alright?" Dumbledore seemed eager to ask more questions, however Harry interrupted him. They hadn't long till Hogsmead.
"Professor, maybe it's best if you let me explain and then ask the questions you deem necessary," when Dumbledore nodded he continued, "The members of the Order that came with us are all alright but, unfortunately, many of those on the platform weren't that lucky. That's why I asked the Order members if there was anyway to talk to you, aside from the usual."
Dumbledore seemed to be lost in his thoughts for a few moments, till something like resignation appeared on his features.
"Very well. What measures did you take? Do you have any ideas for when you reach Hogsmead? I assume that's the reason you wanted to talk to me."
If any of those present found it strange that Dumbledore assumed that Harry was the one in charge they didn't comment on it. It was true after all, Harry had assumed control of the situation as soon as the attack started.
"My priority was to not lose the train. There were to many of them for us to stop, even with the help of a few parents, so the only choice was to retreat and the only way to do that in safety was the train. As soon as the train was secure we left. I created a ward around the train, nothing can get in or out at the moment without my permission, just to be safe. But we have wounded, some in really bad state and no matter how good Mione and Nev are, in some cases they just don't have what they need to save them."
Dumbledore looked grave, the usual twinkle in his eyes completely gone.
"What do you suggest Harry?"
"Portkeys. If you allow for portkeys to pass the Hogwarts' wards, we could send them from here directly to Hogwarts. It's fast and we would avoid panic. We would send the critically injured first and then we would go from compartment to compartment. You could have people waiting for each group. In the first group I will send you lists with the name of the people that are in each compartment and in the case of the parents or children being separated it says in which compartment they are. It also says if they aren't on the train or if they didn't survive. If we do it like that we avoid the confusion that would no doubt happen at the Hogsmead platform. Beside if Voldemort were to attack again that would be the perfect spot."
Dumbledore stayed silent for almost a minute, then he nodded.
"For how many injured do we have to prepare?"
Harry looked at his brother, knowing what Harry wanted Ron raised his voice so that Dumbledore could hear him clearly.
"We have seven in critical state, two of them children with less than ten years. Then we have eleven gravely injured, five of them Hogwarts students, all of those are from fourth year and below. There are a lot of other small injuries but those were taken care of and are nothing to worry about. We have seventeen dead, amongst them two children, both under ten years."
They heard a long sigh coming from Dumbledore's card.
"Very well. I will change the wards to temporarily allow for portkeys to come through. They will allow them through only to the Great Hall, so you should set them to there. I will have Healers ready as well as some aurors to take care of the other passengers."
"Thank you professor."
Dumbledore smiled. It was sad and tired and his eyes had lost their usual life.
"You don't have to thank me. I should be thanking you, my boy. I have no doubt that your actions saved many lives on this day."
Harry just nodded. What could he say to that? He didn't feel that he had done any good. He had left people behind. He may have saved those on the train, but he had killed those that he left behind, even if he wasn't the one to shot the curses that ended their lives.
"We will see you soon professor."
Giving the card back to Kingsley he saw him touch the 'screen' and cut of the connection, before he put the card away.
Harry looked around and saw that he had everyone's attention. Taking a deep breath he gave his orders.
"Ron go tell Mione and Nev to prepare the injured to be transported, then come back here and help with the portkeys," Ron nodded and left the compartment, "We will use parchment to create the portkeys. Divide them into groups so that we are sure that we don't miss any compartment. I'm going to go talk with the driver, I'm going to use the speaker to inform the passengers of what we will do." Not waiting to see what the others did Harry followed Ron out of the compartment.
The others looked at each other for a few seconds till Moody broke the silence.
"Well, we have our orders. Get it done."
A few minutes after Harry left, they heard his voice throughout the train.
"I ask all the passengers to pay attention to the following information. In about an hour an a half we will reach Hogsmead, however I ask that all of you stay in your compartments. When we arrive we will distribute portkeys that will take you directly to Hogwarts. Once you arrive there will be people ready to help you find your families or provide medical assistance if you need it. We are doing everything we can so that things go as smoothly as possible, I would appreciate that you remain calm and wait in your compartments for the person responsible to give you your portkeys to arrive. Thank you."
Ron entered the compartment just as Harry's announcement ended and started helping with the portkeys. Harry joined them a few minutes later, by that time the portkeys were all organized in to seven groups, one for each carriage. Harry gave one to each of them and two to Ron.
"Alright, we will spread through the carriages. We will wait a minute or two between portkeys, so that they have time to organize things at Hogwarts. Ron you have portkeys for two carriages, but the last carriage is Neville's, Hermione will go with the injured and the lists. Ron you will take the on before last. Tonks the following one, then Kingsley, then Moody and then Remus. Bill and I will take this one. About five minutes after Mione, Nev will start handing out his portkeys, when he reaches the last compartment he will send a Patronus to warn the next. You will all go with the last portkey. Don't forget to leave a minute or two between the portkeys. Alright?"
"Fine by me," Ron said smiling, "I'm going to inform Mione and Nev. Hand over the list, please." picking up the lists that Bill gave him and the portkeys he left.
The others stayed where they were, lost in their own thoughts. When the warning came that they were five minutes away from Hogsmead they got up and taking their portkeys with them they left for the carriage they were assigned to.
Harry and Bill were the last ones to leave and as soon as they were alone Harry hugged Bill. Only when the redhead's arms went around him did he feel his body lose a bit of the tension.
"Thank you for having stayed with me." whispered Harry against his chest.
"When you didn't give me any portkeys I guessed that it was your way of asking me to stay." Bill answered with a small smile.
Hearing Harry's chuckle his smile widened. He loved hearing his Harry laugh.
"I wasn't that discreet, was I?" Harry asked, looking at him with his beautiful eyes shinning.
"Not really," Bill answered shaking his head, his voice filled with amusement, "I think they suspected something. Thought the fact that they suspect something might be because you were practically sitting on my lap."
He couldn't help but chuckle when he saw Harry's blush. Not having anything to do but wait, Bill leaned against the wall and pulled Harry against him, enjoying having Harry in his arms while he could.
A little over an hour later Remus' Patronus appeared, telling them that he was on the last compartment.
Taking a deep breath Harry pulled the portkeys out of his pocket and went to the first compartment. As soon as he opened the door he had two wands pointing in his direction.
"Where did we meet for the first time to discuss creating the DA?" Colin Creevey's cold voice was heard. He and his brother Dennis were forming a barrier between them and a group of children, they looked no older than twelve.
Harry felt really proud in that moment. The DA members were becoming so much more than what he had thought possible.
"At the Hog's Head in Hogsmead."
The relief on the brothers' posture was evident and they couldn't contain themselves and hugged Harry.
"I have the portkey for you. There will be people available to give you information, alright?" both nodded and took the portkey, telling the younger ones to hold on to the parchment. When they were all holding the portkey Harry continued, "The word to activate the portkey is written on the parchment. Are you all ready? Good, you can activate it."
And with a low pop they were gone.
There were no more surprises till they reached the last compartment.
When he opened the door he recognized the students inside immediately. Inside were five Slytherins, two boys in his year, Theodore Nott and Blaise Zabini and another boy a year above them named Terrance Higgs. With them were two girls also in his year and, if he wasn't mistaken, they were called Daphne Greengrass and Tracie Davies.
However, instead of the cold, closed off expressions they always had they were showing their emotions freely. Zabini and Nott seemed to be more in shock than anything else, but it was still more than what they usually showed. The two girls were crying and hugging each other. The only one who even noticed that the door opened and that he had entered was Higgs, but even he had a desolated air around him.
"Potter." he said, looking at Harry as if he was the answer to all his prayers.
His name caught the attention of the others and they looked at him. Though Nott and Zabini still seemed to be more out of it than the others.
"Higgs," Harry replied calmly, "I have the portkey so that we can go to Hogwarts, we are the last ones." aside from the driver and the trolley lady, but they would be staying in the train till the aurors arrived.
With calm a controlled movements he handed them the portkey. However none of them tried to even touch it.
"Why?" Nott asked after a few moments of silence, "Why did they attack the platform? It was full! Full of children! Why did they attack us? My father is a Death Eater, our family has always been Dark. But my father said nothing about the attack, nothing! And now... now my brother is dead. I saw a Death Eater send a curse his way, I saw the blood and I saw the Death Eater laugh when he saw my brother fall. I was able to drag him in here but there was so much blood and I didn't know what to do. When Granger came, there was nothing she could do, it was already to late. She... she took away his pain. He was only seven, you know? It was his birthday yesterday." for the first time he looked Harry in the eyes and there was so much pain there, so much confusion and so much despair that it broke Harry's heart a little. In a broken, whispered voice he asked again, "Why?"
Harry wanted to tell him that he didn't know, he wanted to tell him that the Death Eaters wouldn't have attacked if they knew who his brother was. He wanted to preserve what little innocence they still had. But he couldn't. The least they deserved was the truth.
"No answer that I give you will be satisfying. But the truth is that they don't care if they kill children, they don't care of they are pure-bloods, half-bloods or muggle-borns. They do what Voldemort tells them and nothing more. Your father probably didn't tell you anything because Voldemort told him not to. For most of the Death Eaters, Voldemort is above their families' well being and they all know that disobeying is a death sentence.
About the attack today, I think it was a warning: you are either with him or against him. And if you don't his mark then you are against him. Though for him all his Death Eaters are slaves, nothing more than cattle really.
The people that died today, that were injured, he doesn't even consider them collateral damage. It can have a purpose but for him it's mostly just to pass his time, a way to have fun.
You must realize that for most of his Death Eaters it's the same. It may not have started that way but after so much time being influenced by him, they start to adopt the same tastes. We suspect that the dark mark influences them to some degree, as time goes by they start not caring about who they kill and torture too."
For several seconds no one said anything. They seemed to be processing what Harry had told. The silence seemed to stretch on forever till Nott broke and started crying. Harry knew that he had lost more than a younger brother.
"The Zabinis have always been neutral..." he too had tears in his eyes but he wouldn't let them fall.
"This war won't have neutrals. Voldemort is tired of waiting. For the wizarding world to survive it will have to fight. The time for neutrality is over.
Come on, if you want we can talk at Hogwarts. I'm available if you need me, but we have to go now. The injured are already at Hogwarts, you can go keep your friends and family company. And you can say good-bye to those you lost. Come."
Slowly they approached Harry, they looked devastated but Harry was glad to see that they hadn't given up. With a small smile in their direction and seeing that everyone was holding the portkey Harry whispered "Bubblegum." and with an almost silent pop they were gone.
The first thing Harry noticed when they arrived at Hogwarts was the low humming of voices. No one seemed to be talking above a slightly louder whisper, however there were so many people around that it was enough to make noise.
He had barely enough time to look around when an auror was in front of him, asking their names, compartment and carriage.
Harry gave him the information about the Slytherins and mere seconds later Daphne Greengrass and Terrance Higgs were being taken to the infirmary by a medi-witch so that they could be with their younger sisters. The auror called another auror and told Zabini, Nott and Davies to follow him. The three Slytherins looked a little weary but followed nonetheless.
Harry in the meanwhile was feeling the stress of the day catching up to him and all he wanted to do was curl up on a couch in the common room. Preferably with Bill beside him, though at the moment he wasn't particularly picky. However he still had things to do, so containing a sigh he turned towards the auror.
"Can you tell me where the Weasleys are? Or Professor Dumbledore?"
"As far as I know the parents are with their children in their respective common rooms. If they aren't hurt or if they don't know where someone is or in the case of someone not surviving, in that case they are either talking with an auror, medi-wizard or in the infirmary. The Weasleys must be there as well. The Headmaster is with the other professors and a few aurors. They are taking care of the children and parents that couldn't found their families on the train. Or in some cases on the platform. They are trying to get in contact with any other family members."
"Alright, thank you. In that case we'll be in the Gryffindor common room. We were the last ones, aside from the driver and the trolly lady who are waiting for the aurors to arrive. I've taken the wards down on the train, so there will be no problem entering."
"Alright Mr. Potter. I'll let the Headmaster know." the auror said, then looking at Harry and losing that professional air that he had previously he bowed his head, "Thank you. My aunt and cousin were on that platform. I know that they made it because of your efforts."
"I wish I could have done more." he murmured with a sad smile and the auror nodded.
"It's something we all wish in these situations."
Nodding Harry grabbed Bill's hand and pulled him towards the stairs that would lead them to the Gryffindor common room. They walked in silence and in no time at all were in front of the Fat Lady's painting, only then did Harry remember that he didn't know the password. However before he could do or say anything the entrance opened.
"Today is an exception dear. There is no need for a password." the Fat Lady said, when she saw his inquiring look.
Harry nodded, thanked her and went inside. As soon as he was in the common room he noticed the difference. Usually the Gryffindor common room was full of life. Now though it was subdued and no one was talking and when they did speak it was no louder than a whisper. Parents were sitting with their children, holding them as if they were going to disappear any moment. In some cases younger students were being comforted by older ones. And finally Harry saw them, by the fireplace were his siblings and the other Weasleys and Remus. For a moment Harry stayed in place just looking at them, thanking every deity that he knew that they were alright.
Bill was the one who ended up pulling him in the direction of their family. Bill sat in the armchair beside the couch his parents were on, however when Harry started to pull away to sit on the other couch beside his siblings Bill pulled him near and sat Harry on his lap.
His siblings, aside from Ron, looked at him with wide eyes. Ron was actually trying to contain his snickers, obviously he wasn't having much success. That didn't help Harry to contain the sudden heat that traveled to his cheeks. That was all that Mione and Nev needed to be reduced to a state similar to Ron's.
Trying to ignore his siblings Harry looked at Mr. and Mrs. Weasley, however the huge smile on Mrs. Weasley face clued him in to the fact that, maybe, that wasn't such a good idea either.
He knew that Remus and Ginny were a complete lost cause, so he did the only think he could, he groaned and hid his face in Bill's chest.
"This is all your fault." he grumbled and felt Bill's chest tremble, clearly showing that he was trying to stop himself from laughing.
"Only you Harry," Neville managed to say between chuckles, "Only you would be able to come out of an attack with a boyfriend." Any control that his siblings had was lost and Harry blushed more than he thought possible.
Mr. and Mrs. Weasley, Remus and Ginny joined in the light laughter and Harry couldn't stop the small smile from appearing on his face. Seeing his family, together and happy made the last bit of tension that he been feeling completely disappear. They had suffered many losses and many of his friends would never be the same again, but as long as they could still have moments like these, then they could still have hope.
The little moment of peace was interrupted when the Patil twins came through the entrance. Parvati's eyes landed almost immediately on them and before they could do anything, the twins had Hermione in a bone crushing hug.
With Neville's help Hermione was able to lead the twins to the couch and sit them down. Parvati pulled away from the hug, followed a moment later by her sister.
"I don't even know how to thank you. The Healer said that if it weren't for the treatment that my father received on the train he wouldn't have survived. Now he can get better. It will be difficult, but at least he has a chance. Thank you." And Parvati hugged her again.
"I'm glad I could help," whispered Hermione with a small smile.
Harry smiled as well, though he knew that he had helped people with what he had done, it was completely different actually seeing it.
Harry lifted his head and looked at Padma. He wasn't particularly surprised when he saw the determination in her eyes, the rage wasn't something that surprised him either. However he wasn't expecting to see hope there as well.
"Yes?" he asked rather curious.
Padma looked around, making sure that the other people in the common room were occupied with their own conversations, glanced at the older Weasleys and Remus, and looked at Harry again.
"Will we continue with the DA this year? I saw the three of you fighting. I... I don't want to feel like that again. Weak... Useless..."
Harry noticed that Parvati was nodding, the same look on her face.
"We couldn't do anything," Parvati added, "They were attacking our schoolmates, our friends, our family and we could do nothing."
Harry looked at his siblings and saw that they were thinking the same as he. This was what they had feared. Seeing them nod he looked at the Patil twins again.
"We will continue with the DA, however it is going to be different from what it was before. We will have two groups, the first one is open to anyone, they will just have to sign a contract like last year. The second group is going to be a bit different. You said you saw us fight, well the second group will teach things that will help make you fight like we do. The contract will be a bit different as well, for safety reasons." Harry didn't elaborate more, he didn't want to give more away, at least not without having the proper security in place.
"When will be the first meeting?" Parvati asked, it was more than obvious that she wanted to be part of the second group.
"We will try and have everything ready for this coming Sunday."
Padma and Parvati nodded and a small smile appeared on their faces.
"Thank you," they said together, and seeing Harry's confused look Padma continued, "for giving us a chance to fight."
They got up from the couch and saying good-bye to the other they went up to Parvati's dorm.
Hermione sighed when they were alone again.
"It won't surprise me if many of the other DA members ask you the same question."
Harry nodded, he was tired, but just as he had thought sleeping isn't something that he could do at the moment.
"I know and I have a feeling that even people that weren't a part of the DA will contact us."
"To have them ready for battle we will need time."
"I know Nev. As soon as we have the second group defined we will use Saturday and Sunday mornings," Harry suggested, "If we use the Room of Requirement we will have everything we need and make things easier for us. Aside from that the time we spend together will help build up trust between us."
His siblings nodded and Harry did his best to ignore the way Bill's arms tightened around him.
"We could also use the mornings during the week, before breakfast." Ron suggested, deliberately ignoring the looks that his parents, Bill and Remus send him.
"Yes, we will gain much more time like that and we will be able to continue our own training as well." Hermione agreed, conjuring a quill and parchment and starting to add up the time.
"We have to see how many we allow to join." Neville added.
"It depends on what we want." Harry told them. He didn't know if he was making the right decision in having this particular conversation in front of Bill, Remus, Mr. and Mrs. Weasley. But they wanted to trust these people and they needed to know that these people, people that they considered family, would stay with them. They needed to know if these people would abandon them when they saw just how different from the Order they were.
"How so?" Neville asked, wanting to know if they were thinking the same thing.
"Foot soldiers or Elites."
"If we play it right we could have both." Ron ended up muttering with a calculating look that surprised all aside from the Potters.
Hermione stopped scribbling and nodded.
"It could work. We use the DA as foot soldiers. It would be enough to go against Second Circle Death Eaters."
"And the second group would be the Elite, capable of facing against the Inner Circle... Damn, we will need a lot of time to get them to that level." Neville grumbled.
Harry shock his head.
"If we work them hard we will be able to have them at that level around the end of October."
"Harry's right," Hermione agreed, studying the numbers on the parchment, "It's going to be really tiring, for them and for us. But it is doable, we would have to train everyday but by the end of October they should be at our current level."
"So it's decided?"Harry inquired, trying to ignore the way Bill was tensing as the conversation progressed.
His siblings nodded.
"We have till the 31st of October to train an army. When we are done with them the Death Eaters will curse the day that they decided to join Voldemort." Ron concluded with a slightly sadistic smile.
Mr. and Mrs. Weasley as well as Remus had stayed silent during the conversation, watching as the four Potters made decisions that they knew would influence the war. It didn't go unnoticed that what they were talking about creating was nothing like the Order of the Phoenix. It was much more similar to the Death Eater's structure than that of the Order, however they didn't comment. The four siblings had made it clear that they would fight the war their way. However hearing their plans Remus couldn't help but remark.
"Two months?" he said with slight incredulity, "Do you really think that two months will be enough to train students to the point that they can face Inner Circle Death Eaters?"
The four Potters traded a look and after a moment Harry looked back at Remus and the Weasley parents. The three of them looked a bit incredulous, however there was also a hopeful air around them. It was as if they couldn't believe it was possible, but on the other hand they wanted to believe it very much. Harry guessed he could understand why they had that hope, after all if there were more people that could fight then they wouldn't have to do it alone.
"If you come to one of those trainings, then you will understand why we say that two months will be enough to put them at our current level." Harry ended up saying. He wouldn't tell them about the spell they had that managed to gave them more time, however if they were a part of the training then it would be a completely different matter. They trusted Remus and the Weasleys, but there was no reason to take unnecessary risks.
Remus looked at him for a few seconds and ended up nodding. Harry hopped he hadn't made a mistake.
"I think it's better if we go rest," Hermione said, looking around, "We are tired, it was a long day and tomorrow we will have to be up early. I'm sure that tomorrow Dumbledore will make some sort of announcement at breakfast."
They all agreed, wishing each other goodnight and going to their rooms. The Weasleys and Remus had guest rooms in Gryffindor Tower, so they didn't have to leave the tower to go to bed, though Mrs. Weasley went upstairs to the dorm with Ginny.
Harry was following his brothers when he felt Bill pull him towards his own room. He went without protesting, he knew that there was something bothering Bill and he hoped that Bill would tell him what it was.
As soon as they were inside the room, Bill pushed Harry against the door, and holding him around the waist started kissing him.
Harry was rather surprised, it wasn't really what he had expected. However when he felt Bill's tongue against his lips asking for entrance he surrendered to the feelings Bill managed to evoke in him.
This kiss was different from the ones before. It was more desperate, it was as if Bill was afraid that Harry would disappear the moment Bill let go. Harry had no idea what was going through Bill's mind, however at the moment the only thing he could do was kiss Bill back with everything he was feeling.
As suddenly as he started it Bill stopped. They were both breathless and Harry could feel Bill's breath against his lips. He was able to see the storm of emotions in Bill's eyes. With a hand in Bill's hair and the other caressing his cheek he asked.
Harry kept his voice smooth and calm, even if he was feeling everything but calm. He had no idea what Bill was thinking and a part of him was certain that Bill wanted to end whatever there was between them. Considering that they had been together for a matter of hours it was absurd how much pain the simple thought of it caused.
"Harry..." Bill whispered, his arms tightening around Harry's waist, pulling him against Bill, "I think that I only now truly realized," his voice was just a bit above a whisper, he didn't seem to be able to talk any louder than that at the moment, "I'm not stupid, I always knew that it was going to happen, but I think it was of those situations that I thought: 'In the future they will...'. But now, after hearing you make plans it made me truly realize, you know? My 'In the future...' became 'Now.'. And the thought that you, all of you, are going to face the Dark Lord's Inner Circle terrifies me. Just thinking that something could happen to you..."
Bill had closed his eyes, his forehead was against Harry's and his arms were still around Harry's waist. Harry had no idea what he should say, what could he possibly say? He couldn't promise that nothing would happen, it would be an empty promise. He knew perfectly well that he could die, they all know what could happen. Harry liked Bill to much to make empty promises.
"I can't promise that nothing will happen to me." he ended up saying, knowing that it was the only answer he could give.
Bill took a deep breath and opened his eyes and Harry could hardly believe the number of emotions he saw in them.
"I know," Bill replied, "But at least promise me that you will let me be at your side when you do face them."
"Bill..." Harry wanted to say yes, wanted to promise him, but he couldn't. Bill, as he was now, couldn't fight against someone like Bellatrix and win. However before Harry could say anything, Bill continued.
"I know, I know that if I went against the Inner Circle right now that I wouldn't win. But you are going to train them, I only ask that you train me as well."
Harry was able to see that Bill was determined and he could do nothing but nod. Bill sighed in relief and held him close, whispering in his ear.
"Stay with me tonight. We won't do anything. Just... I just want you with me."
Harry smiled and leaned up, pulling Bill down a bit so that he could give him a chaste kiss.
"Of course Bill, let's go to sleep."
That night, sleeping with Bill's arms around him, not one nightmare interrupted his sleep.
The next morning Harry woke up with Bill's arm around him, and Bill's lips on his neck, leaving small kisses in their wake. Harry smiled.
He felt Bill smile against his neck.
"Good morning." Bill's voice was slightly husky from sleep, telling him that Bill hadn't been awake long.
"What time is it?" Harry asked, though it was Monday he didn't think they would have classes. But even so he wanted to be early for breakfast. He wanted to see what Dumbledore had to say. Aside from that he also wanted to see his friends and classmates, there were a lot of names on those lists that he recognized.
"Half past seven." mumbled Bill, clearly he wasn't a morning person.
Harry stretched, half past seven, that left him with enough time for a quick shower before heading down with his brothers.
"I better go to the dorm. I got to the get ready for the day and I have nothing here. You and your parents are going to stay here and have breakfast in the Hall, right?"
"A house-elf came a little while ago, saying that all guests were welcome to have breakfast in the Great Hall."
"Hmm, let's go then." said Harry getting up. He leaned down to give Bill another kiss, "See you in a bit." and with a smile left to his dorm.
Inside his room he saw his brothers sitting on Ron's bed, both of them talking in low tons, not wanting to disturb their roommates. Both looked at him and smiled at him mischievously and Harry blushed. He knew perfectly well what both were thinking, they would be rather disappointed when Harry told them that nothing had happened.
Looking around he noticed that Dean and Seamus were still sleeping, both had tear tracks on their cheeks and Harry remembered having seen their names on the lists, he just hoped that they were strong enough to move on.
Not making any noise he went to Ron's bed and sat down.
"Good Morning. Should we get ready to go down? I don't want to get there late. I want to see what Dumbledore has to say."
Ron and Neville nodded and they started to get ready. Twenty minutes later they were going down to the common room. None of them were surprised to see Hermione was already there. They were all used to getting up early, though Hermione was, by far, much more of a morning person than them.
The four went to the Great Hall in silence. They were some of the first students to arrive. All the professor were present, some parents were also there and spread throughout the Great Hall were a few students. Harry could almost feel their exhaustion. It wouldn't surprise him if most of those present had spend the whole night up.
All those present looked at them when they got in, and Harry knew immediately that some parents recognized them because as soon as their eyes landed on them, they filled with gratitude.
They felt a bit uncomfortable, they hadn't done it to gain their gratitude, though logically they knew that it was unavoidable. He had to wonder though for how long that gratitude would last. Specially when they saw just what they were ready to do to end the war. Most of the wizarding world always had been incredibly fickle.
They kept their heads high and sat in the middle of the Gryffindor table and started their breakfast. Almost half an hour later Bill, Ginny, the Weasley parents and Remus joined them. The conversation between the nine of them was light, none of them wanted to discuss any serious topic, wanting to prolong the illusion of calm that had spread through the Hall.
About an hour after they had arrived the Great Hall was full, Harry had never see the Great Hall with so many people not even when Durmstrang and Beauxbatons had visited. Harry had seen Dean and Seamus amongst the Gryffindors, both with their eyes red and an air of despair around them. Harry remembered having felt like that right after Sirius died. Lavender Brown had the same air around her, leaning against a women that could only be her mother. It was obvious that the mother was trying to keep it together to support Lavender but her eyes were full of tears. A little bit down the table from them were the Creevey brothers, they had lost all that energy that seemed to be in everything they did. They looked lost, broken. He remembered that both of their parents names were on the list of people not on the train. He assumed that the war had made another pair of orphans.
Looking around Harry saw many other students with that same look. Defeated, broken, hopeless. It was something that he and his siblings had been afraid would happen and it was something that they couldn't allow. If they lost hope this early then Voldemort had already won. If they lost hope, they would lose the war.
Dumbledore got up and Harry focused, maybe he would be able to give them hope, at least to some of them. He was the leader of the Light, that had to count for something.
The little noise that had been in the Great Hall disappeared immediately and Dumbledore addressed Hogwarts.
"In days like these I don't really know what to tell you, considering that I know perfectly well that mere words will do nothing to ease the pain. Yesterday's attack left wounds that will take a long time to heal. I know that none of the lives that were lost in yesterday's attack will be forgotten. I ask you for a minute of silence, to honor those that left us." Harry looked around, everyone had tears running down their faces, some were sobbing, leaning against their neighbors. Even the Slytherins were silent, tears in their eyes. Harry shook his head, so much pain and for what? "Even though yesterday's attack was devastating," Dumbledore continued after the minute was over, "The courage and skill of certain individuals prevented it from being an even bigger tragedy.
I'm talking about four students that as soon as they saw what was happening did everything they could to protect and save the students and their families. I'm talking about Harry James Potter, Hermione Mia Potter, Neville Lerato Potter and Ronald Nero Potter. These four students fought against the Death Eaters, protected the train and took care of the injured to the best of their abilities.
We all know that they didn't do it to be recognized but even so the Ministry as well as Hogwarts want to thank them for what they did. Potters, if you would come up here please." neither harry nor his siblings were expecting that, but they knew that they couldn't refuse. They didn't like the position that Dumbledore had put them in but they knew that the people in the Hall needed hope. If they were able to give them that then so be it. They got up from the Gryffindor table and went to the Head table, stopping in front of Dumbledore. "Nothing that we could give you would be enough to show our gratitude. However I hope that you accept these meddles as a symbol of what we feel."
The four just nodded and Dumbledore opened the little black box that was on the table. Inside were four meddles. They were gold and had a phoenix in flight engraved on the front. In the back was a small inscription. First was the date of the previous day, followed by a small phrase. It said: 'In honor of Harry Potter, Ronald Potter, Neville Potter and Hermione Potter. Their selflessness, courage and dedication will never be forgotten.'
It was quite simple, something for which they were grateful.
Lowering their heads they let Dumbledore put the meddles around their heads. When Dumbledore was done they turned around and faced the Great Hall. Trading a look with his siblings Harry made a decision. Instead of going back to the Gryffindor table they stayed where they were and Harry addressed all those in the Hall.
"I am sorry for your losses." were the first words out of Harry's mouth and no one could deny the sincerity that they heard in his voice, nor the sadness that haunted his eyes, "I know how much it hurts to lose someone that is dear to us. I also know what many of you are feeling, though I guarantee there is no reason for you to feel guilty. There was nothing that you could have done..."
"You fought!" a voice in the back of the Hall yelled, though Harry wasn't able to see who it was. Going by their voice it seemed to be a child, old enough to go to Hogwarts but that hadn't reach his teenage years yet. Looking around Harry saw several students, even a few parents nodding, agreeing with the child and Harry almost sighed.
"Yes, that's true. We fought. But we were ready for it," seeing the look that passed several faces he added, "We didn't know that there was going to be an attack, however we were ready in case there was one. We were prepared to fight, we were prepared to die, but above all, we were prepared to kill."
The shock the people felt when they heard that was visible. Harry and his siblings shared another look. That only showed that these people weren't ready to fight in such a battle much less a war.
Almost without his notice Harry's voice changed, it was smoother, more serious and solemn. His posture also changed, he gained a more confident port, he stood straighter. However the most noticeable change were his eyes, the sadness was still there but it was no longer the predominant emotion, weariness and bitterness joined it, however determination and hope shined above all the others. Harry had captivated all those present.
"It's impossible to get involved in a battle like that and not be prepared for those things. If you are worried about not killing the enemy in the middle of battle you will only get yourselves killed or cause the death of a loved one. If you ever get involved in a battle like that you have to be prepared to get your hands bloody. You have to ask yourselves if it is something that you can live with. We fought being perfectly aware of what it would cost us.
If you had fought against the Death Eaters the only thing you would have achieved would be your death," Harry saw a few heads lower and knew what they were feeling. His siblings and he had gone through the same right after Sirius' death, "There is no reason to feel weak," Harry contained a smile when he saw those same heads look at him surprised, "If you had fought you would have died and you would have achieved nothing. You would have only caused more pain to those that survived. Even if you have no reason to feel weak, it doesn't mean that you aren't."
Their shock was again visible, however this time indignation was there as well. No one liked being called weak after all. Though the predominant emotion was shame and that was on what Harry focused.
"There is no shame in admitting that you are weak," Harry continued, ignoring some incredulous looks, "Just because you are weak now doesn't mean you have to stay that way.
Yesterday's attack was an act of cowardice. They attacked because they knew that we were weak. They knew that you didn't know how to defend yourselves. They knew that you would lose hope.
Now you have two choices. You can prove that the Death Eaters were right or you can show them just how wrong they were.
Depending on your choice, that helplessness you feel, that feeling you have that you failed will lessen.
I know it isn't easy. I know there will be days that hope will leave you, but I also know that every day that feeling of helplessness and despair will lessen, till one day it will be nothing more than a memory.
It's your choice."
Looking one last time around the Great Hall Harry started to go to the Gryffindor table with his siblings. The whole, thankfully short, way there they could feel the eyes of everyone on them.
Harry knew that what he had done was risky but the couldn't lose the opportunity. It was true that people were despairing but many of them would want revenge and he knew that most would realize what Harry had offered them. Now, just like Harry had told them, it was their choice.
They were again in their place, finishing up their breakfast when they felt people approach them from behind. The noise in the Hall that had gone up a little was again completely silenced. Curious Harry turned around, feeling Ron do the same at his side.
Behind them were the five Slytherins that had been in the last compartment on the train. Theodore Nott, Blaise Zabini, Daphne Greengrass, Tracie Davies and Terrance Higgs. None of them looked like they had any sleep and they looked sad beyond description. But even so they stood there with their heads held high and a confident port. Harry had to applaud the confidence they were showing.
"We want to thank you," Higgs started, looking at the four siblings, "Your actions saved our sisters. Nothing that we could do would show you how grateful we are."
Daphne had a small smile on her face and was nodding, showing her agreement.
Now they had everyone's attention on them. Harry knew they were waiting for his and his siblings reaction. They were Slytherins after all, it was a well know fact that Gryffindors and Slytherins didn't get along. However before Harry could say anything Nott spoke up.
"We don't want to be weak anymore."
Harry had to control himself to not show his surprise. Discretely glancing at Ron, he saw that Ron was having the same problem. The five Slytherins had offered to fight. They had basically stated that they would fight with Harry, join Harry. They had done it in front of everyone.
Harry was so surprised that he didn't immediately respond.
Apparently he took to long to answer because Nott continued.
"I know that you have no reason to trust us. I'm not going to lie to you and say that we aren't dark wizards, because we are and I know that doesn't inspire trust but..."
When he saw the four Potter stand Nott stopped talking, he half expected to be cursed. The four Potters traded a look. More than one person in the Hall was expecting to see curses flying any minute. They had admitted to being dark wizards after all. However what did happen surprised everyone.
Harry held his hand out, waiting for Theodore to shake it. It took a moment, but slowly Theodore took his hand and shook it.
Harry smiled, and in a voice that carried through the Great Hall he replied.
"We never said we were Light."
A.N.: Sorry, I know I said that I would have the chapter out last week, however I was away for longer than I thought and wasn't able to finish it.
Hope you all like it :)
I received a few reviews telling me that the writing style is different in my other fic. Well, that's to be expected. As I said in one of my first A.N. this was my first story and is a few years old, around 5 or so years. I'm only posting it because it has a special place in my heart and the site I had it on previously was closed.