"I'm a grandma!"
Disclaimer: Not mine if you recognise it.
Chapter 3: Memories of Futures Past
"The only thing worth stealing is a kiss from a sleeping child"
"Is everyone here?" Dumbledore looked around the room and Hermione found herself nodding along with everyone else, all were eager to get to the matter at hand. Dumbledore's eyes took on their customary shine as he lifted the object of their attention onto the large table in front of him. It landed with a dull thunk and Hermione's adrenaline spiked up in time with her anxiety and curiosity.
They were going to open The Bag
The Bag, all capital letters and bold in Hermione's mind. It was what had consumed almost her every thought for the past 24 hours, distracting her to the point where she only was able to sleep for about 4 hours last night. Everyone else around her, too, was visibly anxious. Most noticeably Mrs Weasley was wringing out a handkerchief in her hands over and over again and surprisingly Kingsley Shacklebolt seemed to be sweating bullets. The main members of the Order were all there, all 11 of them, plus all of the Weasley children aside from Percy, and Harry and Hermione. They were all sitting in individual but comfortable chairs in the Room of Requirement, waiting for everything to begin.
"Well, shall we?" Dumbledore gestured to The Bag, a graceful movement that sent his flowing robe sleeve brushing over the rough and worn fabric of The Bag. Compulsively, Hermione took both Harry and Ron's hands and squeezed hard, making them wince but neither complained. After many years of friendship they both knew that physical contact was one of her best stress relievers. It came from her childhood as an only child and receiving hugs from her parents whenever she was tense.
It was a slow process, or at least Hermione thought it was slow. Dumbledore undid both silver buckles and pulled back the flap. The inner lining was green silk, Hermione noted distractedly, green silk with gold flowers. In silence that Hermione felt could have been cut with a knife Dumbledore began to take things out of The Bag.
An orb, about the size of Hermione's two fists combined, made of what looked like glass and filled with swirling grey smoke. The Memorandus. Hermione squeezed the boys' hands again; memories of the future were in there! A thick stack of papers bound together with a red ribbon and written on with a neat but cramped scrawl. A package of large rolled up parchments, looking quite worn. Four large wooden boxes, a bundle of clothing (all black it seemed) and a miniature version of The Bag were all procured, all having notes attached. Dumbledore set The Bag aside and sat down, tenting his fingers and regarding everyone in the Room of Requirement with that absurd twinkle at a 200-watt level. Or so it seemed to Hermione.
"I believe it would be best to get the items given to us out of the way first, don't you?" said Dumbledore, but really it wasn't a question. He reached out toward the table and the entire group held a collective breath as they waited to see what would be picked up first. It was the stack of papers.
Dumbledore made to touch to note attached to the red ribbon holding them together, maybe to read it out loud, but as soon as his fingertips touched the parchment, the note began to glow and a voice filled the room.
"Hello there." The voice was female, slightly husky but very smooth. It reminded Hermione of a jazz singer that her parents always listened to. "This is Cara speaking, leader of the Phoenix Brigade, just in case you haven't received the preliminary letter of introduction and have no clue who the girl you found was. In your hand you hold a list of useful potions and spells developed after the year 2000. It was fairly difficult to find a timeframe for these, as we had no idea in which year I would be arriving we haven't quite figured out how to work the time turner. Well, good luck, you'll be hearing from me with a brief explanation for the rest of the items as well, so that everyone may be able to hear and you will waste no more time than is necessary."
"I put her in charge?" Moody growled out, looking decidedly irritated. "She sounds more like a lounge singer than a leader."
Dumbledore undid the ribbon, fixing Moody with a look. "Well, none the less, you did. You do not trust your own judgement?" Not waiting for an answer, Dumbledore turned his eyes down to the parchments before him and scanned over them, the twinkle that grew with every inch read speaking volumes. "The spells appear to be mainly offensive, but there are quite a few new and strong shielding spells. Hermione, I would like for you to take on the testing of these spells." Hermione felt her heart swell with pride but also heard the sounds of disapproval from members of the Order. Dumbledore raised a hand "You all will be quite busy with other matters, and Miss Granger is more than capable of dealing with this task. I think it is high time that the Order claimed some honorary members."
"You cannot be serious!" Mrs Weasley exclaimed, "Albus, they're only children! It's bad enough that they're targets from having family members in the Order, but to be in it themselves?"
Fred actually stood up, looking like he could just barely contain himself. "Mum, you just said it yourself, we're already targets to V-voldemort." Mrs Weasley gasped at her son's brashness "So if I'm already a target, I know that I want to be able to help! As much as you want to protect us from all of this, you can't! You just can't mum." All of the younger Weasley's nodded, determination in their eyes. Harry was nodding too, and Hermione agreed as well. She had faced Death Eaters and survived, she was a target for more than one reason, couldn't they understand that they weren't kids anymore?
"Please sit down Mr Weasley." Instructed Dumbledore, and Fred did as he was told, sporting the famous Weasley blush. "Molly, full membership is offered only to those of age in the wizarding world, you know that I adhere to that rule strictly so you have little to worry about other than Fred and George but as they are over age, you have no input into their answer to join. It is up to them." Hermione looked over to the twins to find them nodding. "Very well, we shall speak about this later Fred, George. As for now, I mentioned honorary memberships. Those not able to be in the Order would be informed of everything that a regular member would be, and treated with the same respect while in meetings, but would not be allowed to take action directly unless instructed so by a full member. They would be able to assist with many things but would not be sent into battle unless specifically ordered to."
Mr Weasley placed a hand on his wife's arm "It sounds fair Molly." He said soothingly. Mrs Weasley looked pale, but nodded none the less. The sounds of displeasure died down until it was only Snape looking murderous, though that wasn't too odd.
"Good." Said Dumbledore. "So, back to my question, can you handle the spell portion of this list Hermione?"
"Yes sir." She replied certainly. It was such an opportunity! "When would you like my results, sir?" she asked.
"If you and Severus could have your results and any applications for the spells and potions that you can think of in by the end of the week, that would be wonderful."
"What?" Snape snarled, black eyes wide.
Dumbledore smiled benignly "Well, there is the potions component to consider Severus, and you are the only one to assign that task too, and I would appreciate Hermione having some supervision to make sure that nothing happens to her or her child."
Hermione blushed furiously, she didn't need supervision! She was the 'brightest witch of her age'! She sighed, receiving a horrible look from Snape, admittedly though it would be comforting knowing that there would be little harm that could come to her child if Snape was there.
"Don't worry 'Mione." Ron whispered in her ear "If he gives you any trouble, just let the twins know and we can sit back and laugh at the consequences."
She rolled her eyes at him, but smiled none the less. It wouldn't get that bad; if Snape decided to be truly nasty then she would be equally nasty back. They were on equal footing during the summer; he couldn't assign her detention during break.
"Fine," Snape spat "Miss Granger, meet me in my office at 7:00. Do not be late."
Hermione just smiled at the man's bad temper "Very well, sir."
Dumbledore gave another smile, handing the parchments over to Snape and reaching for the next item, one of the boxes, which began to glow and speak as well.
"On to the wonderful world of futuristic cloaking devices!" Cara's voice was full of sarcasm, but it wasn't biting or malicious so a lot of people gave a little chuckle at the introduction. "Now, I believe that you are in for a treat, as my Brigade has been resourceful enough to steal 13 invisibility cloaks over the years. If that is not enough to outfit the entire Order, we have also included 6 Camelcloaks, the green cloaks. These work almost as well as invisibility cloaks, but sadly only allow the wearer to blend in with their surroundings, allowing a careless user to cast a shadow if in direct light. Also we have included Flash Powder, the small silver tins, which if the powder is thrown down onto the ground with enough force, creates a huge blinding flash of light to occur, as well as Ink Bombs, the small black spheres, that work much the same only sending a huge cloud of inky black smoke that cannot be blown away." The voice faded off.
"Alastor, Bill, this will be your task. Test all of the cloaks and one of each of the Powder and the Bombs to see if any method makes them ineffective that we know of." Dumbledore instructed, handing the box to Bill who shared a look with Moody and nodded. Hermione realized what Dumbledore was doing, pairing up the members of the Order with their strengths. She with spell work, Snape with Potions and Alastor and Bill with getting through defences. Bill wasn't a curse breaker for nothing.
The next item that Dumbledore reached for was the bundle of rolled up parchments. "These are maps." Said the voice of Cara, sounding exhausted. "We spent all night drafting copies for ourselves so that you could have the originals, in case we made errors. I know we didn't because we went over every inch of them at least three times, but it's just to make me feel better really. They show various important locations that you'll be encountering soon, outside of Hogwarts. They're for tactical analysis and strategy. Also, there are a couple of global maps that show the location of other resistance bases that have come to form over the years. Pay close attention to those locations, because I suggest that you set up those bases ahead of necessity. The people in those areas will never let you down, trust me."
There was a slight wave of muttering that went through the room from the people that weren't aware that the war had gone global. She and Harry stayed silent though, and shared a slight squeeze of the hand for reassurance. Ron didn't seem to notice though; he had an odd look on his face, determined but apprehensive.
"Please, quiet." Dumbledore asked and dutifully, everyone quieted. "Thank you, now I would like for Remus, Minerva and Ronald Weasley to analyse these."
"M-me?" Ron exclaimed. Hermione bit back a laugh at his obviously hopeful expression.
Dumbledore smiled "Yes Ronald. News of your superb tactics in the game of chess has reached my ears. Now, skill at chess will hardly win a war, but I believe that it would be a good basis to learn from."
"Thank you sir!" said Ron, watching as Dumbledore handed the maps to McGonagall with unhidden resolve. Hermione smiled at that, Ron wouldn't let Dumbledore down.
It appeared that Dumbledore was working systematically, going from right to left on the table before him, and the next item was the second box. "This box contains various pieces of weaponry." Said Cara's voice. She sounded much better then she had in the last message. "Swords, daggers, bows and arrows, staffs, glaives, we even put in a mace or two for good measure. I'd love to say that these were just precautions on my part but that would be a huge lie. These are almost the most important weapons in our battles, as you need something to fight with if you should ever be disarmed and wands are only so effective at close range. You will need to learn how to use these and use them well."
Hermione's stomach did a little turn at Cara's message. Swords, daggers? It sounded like the Middle Ages to her, fairly barbaric to her way of thinking. Was it truly that desperate a fight?
Dumbledore frowned for a moment "Charlie, Arthur and Harry, I want you to look at these weapons closely. Arthur and Charlie, check for any enchantments and Harry, get familiar with the techniques used for each weapon. I want you to be well versed in some sort of weapon as a defence." Hermione watched as Harry stiffened slightly, nodding. He had that fierce look in his eyes that Hermione only usually saw when he was on one of their 'adventures'. "Everyone else will be receiving one as well. I'll see if I can find an instructor to tech all of us as soon as I can." He handed the box to Mr Weasley, gaining a disapproving look from Mrs Weasley.
"This one holds explosive devices, so, I
don't know, be careful." Cara's voice this time was hoarse, ragged, and undoubtedly she was tired. Even the way she spoke gave it away. "There is a lot of variety in this box, but not a lot of it left. Basically what you have in here is muggle grenades, you know, pull the pin and 5 seconds later a big explosion? Well, those, plus Fire Powder, which lights up when exposed to water and burns unstoppably for 2 hours. There are a wide variety of enchanted fireworks that explode ferociously on contact with any surface so watch out. All of them are timed differently so we included a list inside the box for reference. Good luck, keep these in mind for when you need a diversion or some mass destruction. That's what we did, maybe you'll want to too."
"Mass destruction?" McGonagall asked with a frown. "Surely they can't be serious."
"I'm afraid they might be." Said Dumbledore gravely, but his dour expression was soon broken by a smile "Fred and George," he began.
"Yes sir?" The twins intoned, making Hermione smile a little.
"We will be discussing your acceptance into the Order later, but for now, how would you like to take control of the explosives?" Dumbledore asked.
"Is he mental?" Ron hissed at her, "he must be mental if he's trusting them with those!" Although she quite agreed, Hermione hit Ron lightly on the arm to shut him up. Dumbledore must have a reason, right?
Fred and George saluted, in synchronization. "Yes, sir!"
Dumbledore nodded "And Ginevra, would you be so kind as to assist?" he asked.
"Now I know he's lost it!" Ron hissed again "Ginny's almost as bad as they are when it comes to that sort of thing!" Again, Hermione agreed, knowing of Ginny's wild streak, but hit Ron to shut him up.
Ginny looked startled, as if she hadn't been expecting to be called upon "W-well, of course, sir!" she said excitedly.
"Wonderful!" Dumbledore exclaimed and
handed the third box to Fred. As that happened, Hermione could have sworn she heard Snape mutter something about 'doomed'. She smirked, but kept quiet.
Now, there were only two items left on the table, the final box and the miniature version of The Bag. Hermione began to feel her nervousness begin to grow again, realizing how close they were coming to seeing the memories of the Phoenix Brigade.
"This box," Cara's voice rang out when Dumbledore touched the final one "This box contains our main weaponry for our battles. The Brigade is not alone in using them, as Voldemort realized their usefulness early on. They are deadly if used correctly and deadly if used incorrectly, do not underestimate them. You will do well to learn how to wield them, and to keep them with you at all times. Get a muggleborn or someone familiar with muggle technology to explain them to you before you touch them, they are dangerous as they are already loaded and may not have the safety applied. If you are not careful you could end up killing someone while trying to figure out how they work. Learn to love your gun, as it will undoubtedly save your life."
The pit of Hermione's stomach seemed to drop out. Guns. Merlin! Guns? What were children doing with guns? Hermione had never been within 10 feet of a gun, and now she was supposed to learn how to kill with one?
"A gum?" Ron asked turning to her. "I thought you said that was candy?"
"No, not gum." Hermione breathed, distractedly correcting him. "A gun. Muggles kill with them all the time."
Tonks's hair suddenly turned from whatever bright colour it had been before, to a deep mousy brown. "Guns? Merlin, they're just kids! What in the name of Agrippa would they need with guns?"
Dumbledore turned to her "You know about them?" he asked.
She nodded "My dad was a muggle, plus they covered them a little in Auror training, right Kingsley?" she asked, smiling at her fellow Auror.
The tall black wizard nodded, smiling back and making Hermione wonder if he knew about the huge crush Tonks had on him. She hadn't been exactly discreet about it.... "Yes, they mentioned them a few times in case we were ever threatened with them."
"Then you, Tonks and Molly will learn more about them." Hermione looked up in confusion, why would they need Mrs Weasley? "I would like to have a trained Healer take a look at them to see what kind of damage they make and see how to treat it."
"Very well, sir." Said Mrs Weasley, looking a little nervous.
There was a moments silence as they all considered the tasks that they had been given, and also regarded the final item on the table. Hermione tried to think back to the letter that Cara had written, to figure out what was left, but for the life of her she just couldn't remember what it was.... It had been something big though, she was sure of that.
Dumbledore stood up and made the long reach toward the last item, the miniature black bag. It looked fairly full, bulging out in random places. Dumbledore grasped it firmly and pulled it toward him as Cara's voice began to speak again.
"This is probably the least useful but most important package that we've given you." She said. She sounded sad, almost defeated. "It's full of personal items from most of the younger members in the Brigade. I promised them that I would get these things to their parents, and they're counting on me. It's all they really want, if I have to be honest, a chance to connect with their parents again. All of the items are labelled by who for and who from. It would be best if you could have the Order, most of Molly and Arthur Weasley's children there, if they know about the Order yet, as well as Neville Longbottom, again, only if he's in the Order yet. So, get ready to catch a glimpse of what your future holds, or at least the way we knew it."
Silence. Hermione didn't even dare to breathe too loudly for fear of breaking it. It seemed to be a tangible thing, hanging in the air and growing heavier by the moment.
Her child might have sent something.
Her baby, who by calculation would be turning 16 when Cara went back in time. Her heart was pounding loudly in her ears and Hermione began to breath faster, frozen in place as Dumbledore unbuckled the straps holding the bag closed and lifted the flap. The inner lining of this bag was red with silver flowers, Hermione noticed, and it was the only thing that her mind could focus on for quite a while.
She practically cut off the circulation with how tightly she began to clutch Harry and Ron's hands.
"I could be a bloody father." Muttered Ron "Me. My kid could be sending me something. Who's their mother? Merlin, me, a father!" he trailed off, shaking his head.
"You'll be a great dad mate." Harry said quietly "You learned from one of the best, remember?"
Hermione's throat still was refusing to co operate and let her speak so she just relaxed her grip on the boys hands and gave Ron's a reassuring squeeze, telling him that she agreed with Harry.
Dumbledore reached into the bag and pulled out the first item, a small canvas that he looked at for a moment before breaking into a broad smile and handing it to Bill who looked like he had just run a mile. "Your daughter has a lot of talent M'boy, captured Fawkes perfectly I must say."
Hermione looked over to Bill and gasped loudly at the painting he was holding in his lap. It was gorgeous. The background was completely black with a magnificent rising phoenix in the centre, rising from its own ashes and seeming to trill a wonderfully triumphant note as it did so. The colours of the phoenix were all the colours that Hermione had ever seen in a fire, yet so much more.
Bill was smiling, like, well, an idiot. "Her name's Marie." He said, reading out the note proudly as Mrs Weasley cooed and seemed like she was going to cry. "She's Fleur and mine's second. She's 14. You're right sir," he said, "She's got talent alright."
Fred snorted, smiling and looking at Bill appraisingly "Must get it from her mother then, Merlin knows that you don't have any."
Quite suddenly Mrs Weasley let up a wail and bounded on her husband "I'm a Grandma!" she cried. Mr Weasley could do nothing more than pat her on the back soothingly and make hushing noises.
Dumbledore merely smiled "Yes, Congratulations Molly." He reached into the bag again and Hermione held her breath, maybe this one would be from her child?
It was a teddy bear, looking worn and torn but definitely well loved. Made of some sort of light brown material and had a scruffy red handkerchief around its neck. It was missing an eye. For some reason, it made Hermione want to cry.
Dumbledore looked at the parchment attached to the bear's ear and, after giving it a quick pat on the head, handed it over to Ron who took it with trembling hands. He gave a shaky smile and cleared his throat. "Tobias Harold Weasley, six years old." He said proudly, and then looked at the teddy as if he was lost. "I've got a son." He whispered.
"More than that Mr Weasley," said Dumbledore, looking at a bracelet that he had undoubtedly just pulled from the bag. "Abigail Solaria Weasley, 12 years old. Your daughter."
Hermione could have sworn that Ron's eyes were as big as Luna Lovegood's as he took the bracelet from the headmaster.
"Blimey." He said, staring at the delicate silver bracelet decorated with suns and moons and the small teddy bear in his lap. Hermione smiled at her friend, overjoyed for him, but knowing that he would be needing some time to come to grips with the fact that he was going to be a father, actually going to be a father.
For a few minutes, everything seemed to go by in a blur for Hermione, only registering items and statistics for various children. George was given a snitch shaped locket from his twin daughters Sarah Severna and Bethany Alexandra Weasley 10 years old, Neville was to have received a packet of seeds of an apparently futuristic hybrid of a plant from his daughter Willow Gardenia Longbottom 12 years old, and Ron was given another item in a rubber ball from his other son Sean, 7 (surprisingly it didn't mention a middle or last name). Her blur came to an immediate and grinding halt though, when a framed photograph of a pretty young blond girl, smiling and laughing, was given to Ginny.
The photo on its own would have been enough to catch her attention, but that wasn't all.
Ginny looked at the note eagerly, then her face took on a look of horror. "B-brooklyn Gloria-" she seemed to choke a little "M-malfoy?"
"What?" George exclaimed angrily "You want to have a kid with Malfoy? After everything he's done?"
"No!" exclaimed Ginny frantically "I, I don't- I would never!"
Dumbledore raised a hand for silence "We do not know any of the circumstances for Ginevra and Draco coming together, we cannot assume anything as of yet, and again need I remind you all that the future is not set in stone?" Ginny still looked frantic though.
Dumbledore reached into the bag again, which was looking a lot less full by now, and pulled out a worn looking storybook. Hermione's heart gave a little leap. Was this her child's? Did they love to read as much as she did? She pressed a hand to her abdomen, imagining that she could feel her baby even this early in the pregnancy.
Her hopes were dashed though, when Dumbledore handed the book to Ginny. She took it nervously, setting down on her lap like it was a bomb.
"Jessica." She read "18 years old."
Now the bag looked nearly empty, but obviously there was something in there, because Dumbledore reached in again to pull out a Yo-Yo. It was a bright bubblegum pink colour with dark blue stripes.
"Hmmm..." Dumbledore said, looking at it with a huge smile "Interesting." He raised his eyes and gave it to Tonks, whose hair had returned to a bright violet colour. Tonks's smile was the brightest that Hermione had ever seen on the woman, but for the first time Hermione saw her looking shy.
"Amelia Quinn Tonks-Shacklebolt, 9 years old." Tonks said quietly, blushing almost as red as a Weasley and handing the toy over to Kingsley, who was staring at her with a mixture of shock and excitement. They looked each other in the eye for a brief moment before they burst out laughing, but through their laughter they reached out and grabbed each others hand and held it tightly, apparently they weren't too devastated by the news that they were going to have a family together.
Everyone had smiles on their faces, well all except for Snape, but that would be expecting far too much in Hermione's opinion. Everyone who had received an item was holding onto it and regarding it fondly, especially Ron who kept muttering something like 'three kids, three bloody kids, how lucky can you get...' Hermione however, was feeling decidedly anxious as Dumbledore pulled out what could only be the last item from the bag. If this wasn't for her, then her child hadn't sent anything back, and she would be losing a valuable opportunity to learn about them.
The last item was a piece of parchment, a letter, and Dumbledore handed it to George with a smile. "For you M'boy."
George took it, getting a supportive clap on the back from his brother to read it out loud. "From Katherine," he read proudly "11 years old."
George's voice cracked a little and he had to clear his throat.
I really don't know what I should be saying to you, we haven't talked in quite a while you see, and I'm not sure of how you'll be reading this. I suppose I should be writing to mummy too, but Cara says that you'll probably be the one getting the letter, but if you could give this to mummy too that would be good.
I pulled a prank on Bethany yesterday, and I know you always said that I shouldn't pick on her and Sarah too much because they're younger than me, but making her nose turn into a daisy was just too tempting. I'm taking care of them, just like you and mummy asked me too, you know, make them go to bed on time, dress their wounds and make sure they eat their peas (they don't but I still try).
You don't know me yet, so there isn't much that I can say that will make you think like the daddy I knew did. I bet you don't know I'm adopted. Yep. You and mummy adopted me when the twins were 5 and I was 6, and I was living behind the dumpster. You saved my life then, so I guess sending Cara back in time is kind of like repaying that, because we're saving your lives now. I don't know if you'll even need to adopt me this time, maybe all of this will keep my biological parents alive, but if it doesn't... can you find me please? You and mummy were the best parents I've ever had, and I don't want to lose you again if I can help it.
That's all I can think of daddy. I really want to write more but there's nothing more to say, just, help Cara beat Him daddy. She likes to think that she can do it by herself but she can't, no matter how strong she tries to be. Don't let Him win.
Love, a bushel and a peck of a lot,
George's smile spoke volumes. He tenderly folded up his future daughters letter and looked at it fondly for a few moments before whispering "My girls..." Hermione smiled at that, wondering if George had always been that sentimental or if it was something new that she was just noticing.
"Well," said Dumbledore, effectively breaking them out of their reveries "Congratulations to everyone to received a memento, I wish all the best for you, your spouses and your children for the future. It is these things that we must keep in the forefronts of our minds as we continue our battle." He fixed them all with a determined look "The future is no longer nameless and faceless, these are the children that will have to live with the consequences of our actions should we lose a second time. You must keep them in mind; keep your children in mind."
From beside her, Hermione saw Ron hold the teddy bear, ball and bracelet just a little tighter. She pressed her hand to her stomach, as if she were trying to will the child growing inside her that she would keep it safe from whatever harm came their way.
"And now for the memories!" Dumbledore smiled, reaching for the sphere "I have to say, I am rather excited to view these." As his fingers touched the smooth surface of the glass Hermione saw the smoke inside start to swirl and churn as Cara's voice emitted into the room once more.
"The Memorandus, a wonderful invention courtesy of our very own Xavier James Weasley. The Brigade and I have sorted all of the memories in it into four separate parts, I suggest viewing them one part at a time, as it may be a bit too much to see all at once. Some of the content is highly disturbing, and I haven't made any attempts to hide that. You all need to see what the future is really like, not some sort of watered down version. The part that you will see first is the shortest; it is a brief introduction to all of the members of the British squadron of the Brigade. In simple English, you will be seeing and hearing a brief biography of each of your children, grandchildren, whatever. The second segment will be my memories, the third is memories of the Order during the same time frame as my own (you will realize why we did this later on) and the fourth is memories of the Brigade after the last of the Adults died and left me in command. Set it on a table about 10 feet away from a large blank wall and speak the incantation Memorandus Visularae, the orb will do the rest. Good luck, and may the Phoenix never fall."
Harry took a shaky breath beside her, his eyes were beginning to cloud over so Hermione grabbed her friends' hand and squeezed supportively, thankful that he squeezed back.
"Very well then." Said Dumbledore and with a flick of his wand the large desk in front of him floated above their heads and landed a few feet away, in front of a large white wall that the Room of Requirement supplied without trouble. Everyone turned their chairs and faced the wall, all-scrambling to try and get a clear view. Dumbledore placed his wand on top of the swirling sphere and Hermione held an anxious breath.
"Memorandus Visularae!" Dumbledore said clearly. The smoke inside of the sphere began to gain a red tint, and soon became the colour of blood as it began to glow and shot a beam of light toward the wall, slowly letting a scene come into focus. Hermione leaned forward in her chair slightly, taking a deep breath and trying to prepare herself.
The screen soon became clear. A tall good looking blond boy, maybe just a little bit older then Hermione was, was watching a group of children playing in a grassy area in the late light of evening. He was wearing combat gear, Hermione could see, mainly black leather with tons of pockets to store things. He was strangely well muscled and had quite a few scars on his exposed forearms, but the smile he wore made him seem approachable and friendly. The smile grew wider when there was a huge burst of laughter from the group of children.
They seemed to have tackled something to the ground and were laughing as they wrestled with it. There were about 5 kids there, all probably under the age of 10.
"Get her Sean!" a girl squealed "Don't let her up!"
A small boy laughed hysterically "No fair!" he exclaimed, "No tickling!"
It was a wriggling mass of bodies and laughter, Hermione couldn't tell what they were trying to keep down, or who each person was for quite a few moments until the blond boy raised his fingers to his lips and blew two sharp whistles.
"C'mon Squidges!" he called out, eliciting a collective groan from the children "Bedtime! Leave Cara alone!" he instructed. The children, most bearing incredible resemblances to the Weasley's, all got up off the ground, exposing a black clad figure who was still breathing heavily on the ground. A small strawberry blond boy got up last, giggling adorably.
"Lets go Tobe!" the older blond ordered as the rest of the kids moved off screen to some unknown location, but still Tobe straggled. The little boy pouted.
"Cara never plays with us anymore." He whined "S'not fair Sebastian."
Sebastian just gave an accommodating smile to the boy and ruffled his hair "I know Squidge, I know. But you gotta get to bed, maybe if you go now Jessica will read you a story." Tobe's big blue eyes grew big and he smiled, nodding and running off.
Sebastian rolled his eyes and smiled, making his way over to where the figure on the ground, which they had said was Cara, still, remained. Her hair wasn't the black that Hermione had seen in the Hospital wing, but a bright bleach blonde that made her look as pale as a ghost. She was still fairly pretty though, and Hermione saw Harry staring at her out of the corner of her eye. "You gonna lay around all night?" Sebastian teased lightly, coming to sit beside her.
She had a small smile on her face, a smile that seemed familiar to Hermione somehow, and looked flushed from her romp with the children. "Maybe." She said sarcastically "I'm not sure yet. Let me think about my other commitments, hmmm... let's think shall we? Keep the Brigade safe, keep the Brigade fed, kill Voldemort.... Hmm. Yep, I think I have time to lay around."
Sebastian just smiled at her, ignoring her comments. "Its nice to see you play with the children." He said.
Cara frowned "Why do you say that? I do it all the time."
Sebastian shook his head "You don't."
She sat up and Hermione noticed the dagger and the holster at her hip. "I do!" she defended. Her eyes were a surprisingly dark blue, and looking fierce. Again, the expression was familiar, but Hermione couldn't tell who it reminded her of.
The blond merely shook his head again and lay down on the grass "You don't." he said simply.
Cara sighed and lay down as well. "I don't?" she sounded sheepish but far from sorry.
"No, but the kids know you're busy."
Both of them sighed and smiled tiredly at each other. Cara was incredibly small compared to Sebastian, but it was incredibly easy to tell who was the leader. It was written clearly in the uncharacteristic frown lines on Cara's forehead, the stress was evident. They seemed to be good friends, completely comfortable with each other.
Sebastian smiled down at her again "Well, in any case, its nice to see you smiling and laughing."
"What do you mean? I do it all the time." This time her protest was weaker. Her voice had lowered in volume and her eyes lost their spark, suddenly she looked very tired.
Cara sighed and closed her eyes, long lashes brushing her cheeks. "I don't, do I."
Sebastian reached out and pulled her close to him, wrapping his arm around her shoulders. "You don't."
Cara seemed to grow angry at the attempted comfort though. "Don't give me that!" She said tersely, but didn't move away "You can't imagine the weight on my shoulders!"
Sebastian frowned "I know too well how hard it must be!" he said fiercely "Who the hell has to take care of you when you crash and burn hunh?"
Silence reigned for a moment before Sebastian sighed and pulled Cara toward him in a closer hug "You are my friend, my best friend and, our leader. But sometimes," he said with a small smile "A little chink in your armour might be nice."
Cara snorted into his shoulder "I don't have time for chinks Seb. Chinks get you killed."
Another silence. "Well, I say we have had a pretty good week." Sebastian said. Cara raised an eyebrow. "What? No one got killed, did they? And I also came out to tell you some very good news."
Suddenly the casual atmosphere that had surrounded Cara was gone, replaced by an aura that was pure business. Her eyes flew open and she sat tensed on the ground. "Report." She commanded briskly.
"Xavier finished the Memorandus." Sebastian said, acquiring the same brisk tone "It works perfectly. We can set plan Back-Track into motion whenever you give the order."
Cara scrambled to her feet, brushing dirt and grass off of her black combat attire that was far from modestly showing off her lean form. She looked rather like a jungle cat, tensed for the pounce. "Well, consider the order given. I want to have Back-Track in motion within 6 months, we don't have any time to waste."
She was about to turn and walk away in the direction that the children had gone, but Sebastian grabbed her arm and stilled her. "We can't win?" he asked quietly "There's absolutely no hope left? I want you to be absolutely sure of that before you go out and do this Cara, I don't want to lose you for nothing."
Cara took a deep breath and gently pulled his hand off of her arm. "We cannot win." She said, her eyes expressing resignation, slight fear but most notably sadness "I know we cannot win. We can survive for a few years if we all just hide out here, but we will never win with the numbers we have now. It's us against the world Seb," she sighed heavily and pinched the bridge of her nose in a gesture that was amazingly Snape-like. "Us against practically three billion others. I don't like those odds, and if giving my life to beat those odds is what it takes then I'll do it. If that's what it takes to make up for everything I've done in my life, then you know there's nothing on earth that will stop me. You know that."
Hermione knew it too. From the way she talked, stood, moved, Merlin even the way she breathed screamed out Cara's dedication and commitment to the Brigade. Hermione found herself very glad that Moody had put this girl in charge.
Sebastian swallowed hard and nodded "You've always been stubborn as hell, just like your father." Swiftly he brought Cara into a tight hug before letting her go as if it had never happened. His jaw set itself determinedly. "Alright then, lets go get the ball rolling." They began to walk off together and the scene dissolved, bringing in a new one.
At first the entire screen was black, though Hermione began to be able to make out figures as the picture cleared. It was a room full of children, all perched haphazardly on whatever surface they could find in the dimly lit room that they occupied. All of their clothes looked ragged, and scars and more recent wounds could be seen on many of them. Their ages ranged considerably, from what looked like a couple of 18 year olds in the corner, a blonde girl and a tall Hispanic boy, to two young 6 year old boys it seemed, the boy called Tobe and a dark haired and eyed boy. Both of the young boys were sitting on the laps of two other children, neither of which looked more then 14.
Cara was in the centre of it all, not sitting but leaning against a large armchair that was host to three more children. Her bleached hair hadn't changed from the last memory but her clothes were far more intimidating now, she looked like she was wearing a cat suit underneath her large black cloak. The same cloak that she had appeared in their time with, Hermione realized.
Cara cleared her throat and immediately there was silence in the room, everyone regarding her with expressions that Hermione had only seen people give to Dumbledore. What had Cara done to command such respect?
"We are the Phoenix Brigade." Cara began, crossing her arms in a way that reminded Hermione of someone yet again. Where had she picked up all of these gestures from? It was beginning to irritate Hermione to no end. "We are the last specks of light in Voldemort's world of darkness. We are the last hope left... and we have no chance of winning." Everyone in the room took in a sharp breath but surprisingly no one interrupted her. "No matter how hard we fight, how many Death Eaters we kill... even if we find a way to kill Voldemort himself, the entire world has been under his thumb for so long that all will turn against us. The muggles that we will free will fear and turn on us as well, not knowing anything but pain from wizards and witches. The only way to win, the only option we have left, is for me to use the time turner that Albus Dumbledore created for his Order."
"That's suicide!" The dark haired boy in the corner cried out, standing up "It's a suicide mission Cara, don't you get that? You'll end up dead!"
Cara's eyes hardened and Hermione found herself looking away from the dominating gaze. Hermione found herself looking around the Room of Requirement for a brief moment and found to her shock that even Dumbledore and Snape seemed to be squirming in their seats because of that look. To their credit they didn't look away, but they still looked very uncomfortable.
Cara raised a delicately arched eyebrow at the boy "I know that Rath." She said evenly, Hermione raised her eyes back up to the memory and found that the boy had sat back down, looking sheepish.
"I am far from stupid, however I am willing to do it and though I hate to burst everyone's bubble, I will be doing it."
Tobe gave a great sniff from where he was sitting on a chubby, dark haired girls lap "I don't want you to die!" he cried, "You said you wouldn't! You promised after mum and dad died! You promised!"
The other young boy looked teary too, and everyone else in the Brigade seemed to share their negative opinions of Cara's decision.
Swiftly, making her dark robe swirl behind her, she swooped down and swept Tobe up into her arms. "Tobe, I'm doing this so that your mum and dad won't have to die at all. You won't lose them in the first place if this works so don't cry," she shushed him "Don't cry, Sweet." Her face took on a tender look, maybe one that would have been present more under better circumstances, Hermione mused.
"If Cara is absolutely sure then you all know that there's nothing any of us can do to change her mind. And, no matter how much we disagree with her on this," A young girl, a very pretty blonde that looked like Sebastian said frankly and gave Cara a look that looked so much like Mrs Weasley that Hermione nearly laughed out loud. "She is the Chimera, and ultimately the leader of the Brigade so we can't fight her on this one. If we're going to do this, I want to do it right the first time, so what are your orders?"
Cara flashed a thankful smile to the blonde "I'm not sure if I should thank you or smack you, Marie, and I'd watch whom you were calling stubborn. I do have orders though." She said. She gestured over to an armchair being shared by two sets of twins, two redheaded boys and a younger set of darker skinned girls with flashing blue eyes. "Xavier, our resident inventor," one of the redheads smiled tensely "has come up with something that will hold and display memories that we choose for the Order of the past to view, possibly our parents. Tonight, I want everyone in the room to give a brief introduction of themselves, to give to our parents an idea of what happens in their future family-wise."
From the floor on a cushion the young blonde from Ginny's photo snorted "How on earth are you going to make yours brief?" she quipped "You could write a bloody saga about your life! I don't pity having to break the news of who your parents are either, I heard stories about Uncle Ron's reaction."
"Language Brat!" Cara scolded. Hermione saw Ron frown slightly out of the corner of her eye. "Just focus on yourself for now, Miss Brooklyn Malfoy. You'll be getting reactions too!" Cara smirked, still cradling a sniffling Tobe in her arms, rubbing circles on his back "How about you go first then?"
"Me!?" There were chuckles from all around the room at her undignified squeak. Brooklyn merely glared at the people around her though and chewed on the ends of her hair for a moment before beginning. "Fine. My name is Brooklyn Gloria Malfoy; I'm eight years old. My parents were Draco and Ginevra Malfoy and, yes; they loved each other very much. Mother and Father said that it just took some very serious injuries, a knock to the head, a lot of faith and a lot of forgiveness. You'll find out what I mean later." She blushed "I specialize in Charms, Healing, Diversions, Tactics and Technology. Um, I love applesauce." She turned to Cara, looking unsure. "Is that enough?"
Cara nodded "Good job Brat." She said, smirking fondly at Brooklyn. She then turned to the rest of the room, "Jess, you're up. Lets put siblings together after this, it'll make things go quicker."
The older blonde girl sat a little straighter in her chair in the corner and nodded. Her hair was honey coloured, her eyes china blue and intelligent. "I'm Jessica, 18 years old and the adopted child of Ginevra and Draco Malfoy." She smiled meekly and fidgeted "Actually, I'm the reason that my parents got together in the first place, but like my sister said, you'll find that out later. I'm skilled at Charms, Snipers, Healing, Diversions and Hand to Hand combat. My father took me in when I was two. Hmm...." She looked thoughtful for a moment before finishing with "I like chocolate chip cookies."
"We'll go next." Said Sebastian, moving to stand beside Marie "My name is Sebastian Jacques Weasley, I'm 16 years old, and this is my younger sister Marie Molly Weasley, who is 14."
Marie shot him a glare "I can speak for myself thank you very much." She pouted, "Our parents were Bill and Fleur Weasley. I am a master of Healing, Reconnaissance, marksmanship, Glamour's and combat with daggers. Sebastian is skilled in Hand-to-Hand combat, Diversions, not to mention" she winked at her brother, who blushed a bright Weasley red "Seduction, Swordsmanship and combat with Daggers. I like treacle tarts and Sebastian likes steak."
"How little you know, sister of mine...." Sebastian shook his head dramatically "I like fillet mignon, not steak!"
Marie stuck her tongue out at him "Whatever."
"Enough you two." Said Cara, a dry smile quirking one side of her mouth.
"I'll go!" A mocha skinned girl who was sitting on a pillow on the floor said brightly. Her arm was in a sling and there was a bandaged cut across her cheek "I'm Amelia Quinn Tonks-Shacklebolt, daughter of Nymphandora Tonks and Kingsley Shacklebolt. I'm nine years old." The girl made a face, her light hazel eyes sparkling "I'm not a metamorphagus, but I am really good at Transfiguration, Glamour's, Diversions, Explosives, Snipers and Healing. I like mango's!" she smiled
"My turn!" the kids seemed to really be getting into it, Hermione thought as the dark haired girl that Tobe had been sitting on staked her claim. She had a pretty, round face with wavy black hair and kind blue eyes. "My name is Willow Gardenia Longbottom. My father was Neville Longbottom and my mother was Blaise Zabini. I work well with Healing, Diversions, combat with Daggers and Charms." She smiled sweetly and it was easy to see the resemblance between her and her father "I like spaghetti."
"We'll go," the boy called Rath said from the corner and motioned for another boy to join him. The other boy was tall, but had been half hidden behind Cara before, his hair was a mousy brown colour and for a moment Hermione wondered if he could be her baby... but no, he looked too old. Both boys were incredibly muscular and had visible scars on whatever portion of skin you could see.
"My name is Rath-" the dark haired boy began but the other boy interrupted.
"Real names would be best, I think." He said with a mischievous smile.
Rath made a face and there were snickers throughout the room "Fine," said Rath "But you're going to pay for this later, brother of mine. My name is Edwyn, but I'm known as Rath the Wolf, and I'll just let you guess why." He smirked before continuing, "I'm 18, and I was adopted by Remus Lupin. I'm skilled at Hand to Hand combat, swordsmanship, marksmanship, combat with Daggers and Potions."
"My name is Taylor." The brown haired boy said, "I was also adopted by Remus Lupin. I'm 17 years old and skilled at Hand to Hand combat, swordsmanship, combat with Daggers and marksmanship." His smile, unlike his brothers, held no predatory gleam. "I think it's safe to say that we both like anything Chocolate." Rath nodded in agreement before dragging Taylor down into a headlock and the two began to tussle.
Cara rolled her eyes. "Who's up?" she asked, placing Tobe who was no longer sniffling on the lap of a petite redheaded girl.
"The clan of Fred I believe," one of the twin redheads (the one with less freckles, Hermione noted right away) said, feigning a snooty attitude. "My name is Zachary Sirius Weasley, I'm 15 years old and specialize in Explosives, marksmanship, combat with Daggers and Potions. I like cherries."
"Xavier James Weasley, twin brother of Zachary." The other redhead commented with a lopsided grin "I'm skilled in Explosives, Inventions, Potions and integrated muggle and magical technology. Our parents were Fred Weasley and Pavarti Patil. I rather enjoy curry."
Another boy piped up from one where he was sitting next to Amelia Tonks-Shacklebolt. He was stocky but tall, well muscled and his mop of blonde hair was scruffy looking. To her shock and horror, he was wearing a dark eye patch over his left eye. "I'm Jason," he said "16 and adoptive son into the clan of Fred. I'm skilled in Hand-to-Hand combat, Swordsmanship, combat with Daggers and Potions. I like chow-mien."
Xavier turned to one of the twin girls on his right and bowed his head "Would the great and honourable clan of George wish to go next?" he asked dramatically.
The girl turned to her twin and they both giggled "Sure!"
"I'm Bethany Alexandra Weasley," the first one said and the second picked up after her flawlessly
"And I'm Sarah Severna Weasley," Both girls had light mocha coloured skin and bright blue eyes, long black hair and the faint image of light freckles across the bridge of their noses. "We're 10 years old, the daughters of George Weasley and Padma Patil. I work with Glamour's, Swordsmanship, Healing and Charms but-"
"I work with Potions, combat with Daggers, marksmanship and integrated muggle and magical technology." Finished Bethany "We both like apples."
A pretty girl laughed from next to Sarah and ran a hand through her short pink hair. "That's practically all you ever eat!" she exclaimed, "Well, I'm the last member of the clan of George, I'm Katherine. I'm 11 years old and specialize in Diversions, Explosives, Tactics and combat with Daggers. I don't like apples," she said frankly "I like crisps."
"And last but not least..." Said Cara, she gestured over to the redheaded girl that she had put Tobe on. The girl had a far-off look in her eyes and was wearing a blithe smile.
"My name is Abigail Solaria Weasley." The girl said then looked down at Tobe who had fallen asleep after his emotional outburst "And this is Tobias Harold Weasley. I'm 12 and he's 6. Our parents were Ronald Weasley and Luna Lovegood. They also adopted Sean," she pointed to the dark haired boy He's 7 now. I specialize in Tactics, camouflage, marksmanship and integrated muggle and magical technology, but the boys are too young to be fighting yet. Our age limit is 8. I like pineapple upside-down cake, Tobe likes orange juice-"
"And I like sandwiches!" Sean piped up loudly. He picked himself up off the floor and plopped down on Abigail's lap, who merely smiled at the extra weight.
There was a sudden silence in the room.
It was then, in that instant of silence that Hermione came to some startling conclusions. None of the children in the Brigade were hers, no one had mentioned her or her child, and everyone in the memory was looking at Cara expectantly.
Where was her child? Were they merely absent from the meeting or had they been killed in the war? Hermione felt herself blanche as she watched Cara on the screen hesitate to begin. Sweet Merlin, where was her child?
"I am 16 years old." Cara said, her voice low and even "I specialize in Glamour's, marksmanship, Swordsmanship, combat with Daggers, Tactics, Seduction, Explosives and espionage. I am the leader of the Phoenix Brigade and I like firewhisky." She smirked, but it was dry and her eyes were cold. She licked her lips in what might have been the first nervous gesture that Hermione had seen her make "I really don't know what my last name is, as my parents were never married and there was never the opportunity to ask anyone who might know. My parents did not choose to have me, and quite frankly I was forced upon them. My enemies know me as Chimera for the mark that I leave behind, but my allies know me as Cara."
She lifted her chin and Hermione felt her breath catch in her throat. Whoever Cara was, she was an amazing storyteller. "My father's name is synonymous with the term spy and he is known as the second greatest turncoat in magical history. My mother was known for her extreme intelligence and inventive nature, plus the roll she played in what is known as the Golden Trio." She paused, Hermione felt numb. "I am the daughter of Severus Snape and Hermione Granger."
The screen faded to black.