A Sixth year (pre-HBP) story: Harry decides the best way to fight back is to take the DA to the next level. He succeeds better than he thought he would. In this chapter, Hermione contacts Ernie an...
Friday, August 2, 1996
"Oy, Justin, wake up!"
Justin Finch-Fletchley grunted. He rolled over and hit a wall. That made him open his eyes. While a younger son, he still had a large private bedroom in Fletchley Manor, a house that in its present form dated from the Restoration, and sat on an estate the family had acquired during the Dissolution of the Monasteries a hundred and thirty years before the current house had been built. The family's house in London had rooms nearly as large and had a large bed. His bed at Hogwarts was equally large.
No walls should be near his bed.
"Oh, right," he muttered, remembering. Every summer since the one before his Second year at Hogwarts, he had spent the first two weeks of August with his friend Ernie Macmillan. Then Ernie would spend a week with him at Fletchley Manor, and then the rest of the summer at Finch House in London.
Ernie's Lowland Scots family was neither as rich nor as aristocratic as Justin's. Justin's gentry ancestors emerged from the late medieval commercial classes 19 generations before him, in the 1470s, as opposed to the first known magical Macmillan, nine generations before Ernie. Still, the Macmillans had prospered in the wizarding world, conveying supplies created by Muggles (food stuffs, furniture, etc.) into magical Scotland, especially Hogwarts and the various stores in Hogsmeade (the magical world was much more dependent on Muggle supplies than most Pure Bloods were willing to acknowledge). While the Macmillan country house was decent-sized, Justin slept on a cot in Justin's room when visiting.
Satisfied there was a reason for a wall to be next to his bed, Justin closed his eyes.
Justin rolled over, careful not to roll off. "Sorry, not quite awake."
"Potter's in The Prophet."
Justin sat up, "Is he alright?"
"Aye, he's fine. Read it; I'll get us some tea."
Justin read the paper twice, trying to understand what it said. When Ernie came back, Justin asked, "I don't understand. What exactly is an apprenticeship in the magical world?"
"What do you mean? What does it imply in the Muggle world?"
"Well," Justin tried to explain, "it's something some trades still have. It's nothing derogatory, although it's not really the done thing outside of some crafts and trades. This sounds a lot more prestigious."
Ernie handed his friend a mug of tea. "We have those kind of apprenticeships, too. Sometime after I leave Hogwarts, I'll probably have to do a two-year accounting apprenticeship at Gringotts. But this is a magical apprenticeship, not a craft or trade apprenticeship. Harry wouldn't even have to go back to school. Zoric is responsible for teaching Harry how to be a wizard."
Justin frowned. "I don't get it. Isn't this Zoric some kind of detective?"
"He used to be an auror, and now he runs the only magical detective agency I've heard of. I imagine Dumbledore wants him to teach Harry to fight, and keep an eye on people like Snape."
"I have heard that Snape is even worse with the Gryffindors than he is with us," Justin snarled.
"Poor bastards," Ernie said with a grin.
Justin frowned. "Do you think this will mean the DA is more or less likely?"
"More, I hope."
The pair drank their tea in silence for a few moments. "Ernie?"
"Do you think you would have gone with Harry to fight at the Ministry?" Justin asked.
Ernie sighed. "I don't know. I'd like to think I would have, but I don't know. You?"
"I'd like to think I would have, too. We won't know, until we get the chance, right?"
Both teens wanted to become aurors, or at least go through auror training. Both believed there would be a great deal of fighting against the Dark Lord and His followers, and neither were hopeful it would be over by the time they left Hogwarts.
"Frightening, isn't it?" Justin finally said.
"It's going to be a right dirty job," Ernie agreed. "Do you think Harry will let us onto the inside track?"
Justin shrugged. "We haven't asked, let alone done much to deserve it, have we? Somehow, Harry's in the middle of all this. We either back him to the hilt now, or wait until we're done training."
"That's five more years," Ernie mused. "We might be lucky; it might be over by then."
"It might," Justin agreed. "You have your traditions, but I can't give up on mine just because I'm a wizard."
"Which traditions are those?" Ernie asked, curious. He was aware of the Finch-Fletchley's social standing, of their history of service in local and national Muggle government. If something happened to Justin's older brother, he would become Sir Justin Finch-Fletchley, ninth baronet, upon the death of their father. Ernie knew Justin meant something more.
"Most of my ancestors were in the military," Justin answered. "My father was a naval officer until well after I was born. My grandfather was a fighter pilot during the Battle of Britain. His father and uncles volunteered to fight in the First World War. They didn't wait until they were called to fight, they volunteered. People like Malfoy aren't right about much in this world. . . ."
"That's for certain," Ernie said firmly.
"But they are partially right about one thing. In this world, you're either a leader or a follower. What Malfoy forgets is that being a leader isn't about having people follow you. Being a leader means taking the initiative; being a leader means leading by example."
"Which am I?" Ernie asked.
"Both, just like I've been," Justin retorted. "And on this issue, we've both let Zach steal a march on us. We shouldn't have let him talk the younger students out of joining the DA. You're the prefect; you're the tenth generation Hufflepuff. For that matter, you and Susan shouldn't just be the leaders of our year, but considering the new Seventh years, you two should be leading the House! Zach's family are all over the place, including Slytherin. He's going to play the percentages."
"You agreed with me at the time!" Ernie pointed out.
"I know," Justin said sadly. "I was wrong. I was wrong to talk you out of pushing harder."
Ernie sat on his bed. "No, you didn't talk me out of anything, you just agreed with me. I didn't stand up to Zach. I was so proud of myself, boasting about believing Harry, but I didn't argue with Zach."
"Do you think Potter will give us another chance?" Justin asked.
"He's always played fair," Ernie pointed out. A thought occurred to him. "Weasley will something to say, no doubt."
"He always has something to say," Justin agreed. "Of course, if he says it, then Potter doesn't have to."
Ernie smiled. "I doubt that crosses either of their minds. They're not dumb, but they aren't subtle."
"Yeah, and we are so known for our subtly," Justin said drily.
"True," Ernie admitted. "Still, I'd say we are compared to Weasley, and Harry for that matter."
"Not compared to Granger, though," Justin pointed out.
"There is a mind," Ernie said admiringly. "The Ravenclaws really are jealous of her, aren't they?"
"If most of the Gryffindors rally behind Harry, and you and I can get a fair number of Hufflepuffs, do you think many Ravenclaws will come around?" Justin knew Ernie usually had a better grasp of school politics than he did.
"I don't know," Ernie admitted. "Cho is pretty ticked off that Harry dumped her, not to mention what happened to that sneak Edgecombe."
"It says something about Ravenclaw that they're more upset with Granger than they are with her!" Justin nearly spat in his anger.
"That plus they couldn't figure out how to get rid of the spots," Ernie pointed out with a grin. He frowned. "I wonder why Flitwick couldn't get rid of them, though?"
"Because she didn't just rat on Potter, she ratted on Dumbledore," Justin stated firmly. "She needed to be taught a lesson."
"True. Turpin and Goldstein will probably pull for Harry. Maybe Patil and even Boot, too." Ernie chewed his lip. "I wonder if the fact that Loony is rumored to have gone with them to the Ministry will help or hurt him with the other Ravenclaws."
"Hurt," Justin stated. "Padma told me just before we left that Loony's dorm mates, and some of the other girls, keep hiding all her stuff. This year, she said that the prefects had to threaten to go to Flitwick before they returned everything." Justin looked about to go on, then stopped.
"What?" Ernie said, as Justin seemed to have had a thought that had robbed him of speech.
"We know that Granger and the two Weasleys went with Potter, right?"
"Right. Longbottom, too."
"Really? I hadn't heard that."
"The older Fan told me." That was the Hufflepuff term for the two Creevy brothers. Ernie smiled. "He was jealous, of course. He also said there were five people with Harry. Two Weasleys, Granger, and Longbottom. The fifth one wasn't a Gryffindor. We know it wasn't a Hufflepuff, and it sure as hell wasn't a Slytherin. So who was the Ravenclaw?"
"So, if Loony was with Harry. . . ." Justin started.
"What?" Ernie demanded.
Justin looked at his friend. "What's the one thing, what personality trait that is, about Harry Potter that we Hufflepuffs should most appreciate?"
Ernie shrugged. "He's honest, faithful, and fairly hard-working."
"Faithful, exactly. If Luna Lovegood was with Harry, and if she helped his good friends get out of there alive. . . ."
"If she did more good than harm, you mean," Ernie said.
"Exactly. If Loony, err Luna, stood up for Harry, what will Harry do?"
"Harry will stand up for her," Ernie said simply.
Ernie sighed. "I don't get it. So what?"
"Would Harry rather have one person working with him he knew he could trust, or all of Ravenclaw? Or Hufflepuff?"
"Ah," Ernie said, understanding. "He will stare down the entire House if he has to."
"So I guess we'd better stop calling her Loony, just to be on the safe side."
Wednesday, August 27, 1996
Finch House, off Eton Square, London
Ernie and Justin had just returned from an afternoon's shopping in Diagon Alley. They hadn't needed to buy very much, having made two previous trips, but this would be their last chance to shop until the first Hogsmeade weekend, traditionally the weekend before Halloween, this year meaning the 26th and 27th of October. Ernie had been given a magical trunk the previous Christmas (students were not allowed them until their Fifth year), and Ernie had a 12 by 12 foot storage room available in addition to the normal trunk space. The boys were determined to fill a nice chunk of space with 'needed supplies' (butterbeer, candies, and even some canned fruit, plus other, less reputable items, including Muggle and wizard 'men's magazines'; they had also made a stop at Weasleys Wizard Wheezes).
"There you are," Justin's younger sister Joanna said with a sneer. She had had a crush on Ernie two years before, and, since he had not returned it, Joanna had decided she hated everything to do with her brother's life.
"Is there a problem?" Justin demanded.
"There's a parcel for you. I'm surprised, I must say. Do you have normal friends, or has one of your kind condescended to act in a mundane manner?"
"I don't know," Justin drawled back with an equal sneer. "Perhaps if you would tell me where it is, I can determine the sender."
"Front parlor," Joanna snapped, striding away.
"She's never going to forgive me, is she?" Ernie said as they went into the front parlor. While Ernie had nothing against Muggle-borns, as witness his friendship with Justin, he felt he could not risk actually falling for a Muggle.
"Oh, in twenty or thirty years, she might consider it," Justin said, picking up the thick envelope. "No return address." He took out a pocket knife and slit it open. Inside was another envelope and two sheets of parchment.
"Who's it from?" Ernie asked. He was stuck holding the bags, and wanted to unload them. Ernie was startled to see the serious look on his friend's face.
"Let's put this stuff away." He stuffed the contents back into the original envelope, and dragged Ernie up the stairs.
"What?" Ernie demanded when they got to the guest bedroom he was sleeping in. "What?" he demanded more insistently as Justin dragged the trunk over near the south window.
"Open the trunk. We'll need some light."
"Alright, be mysterious." Ernie opened the trunk and the pair walked down the stairs inside the trunk. "Now, what's so bloody important and secret?"
"It's from Granger and Potter."
"Ah. And they didn't send it by owl because?" Justin merely offered Ernie the parchment.
"You have the sun," Ernie said, so Justin read it aloud.
/THE STUDENT DEFENSE ASSOCIATION/
/Dumbledore's Army// /
Harry Potter, Coordinator & Commander
/Hermione Granger, Coordinator/
If I remember correctly, Ernie Macmillan spends the end of August at your parents' London home. If he is there with you, please share the contents of this note with him. If he is not, please wait until you can be assured of total privacy and open this with him then.
You and Ernie believed that Voldemort returned a year ago, and that he was responsible for the death of Cedric Diggory at the end of the Tri-Wizard tournament. The entire wizarding world learned he was back after the tragic events of last June, when Harry, myself, and four other students confronted a number of Death Eaters at the Ministry of Magic, and Harry confronted Voldemort yet again, which was witnessed by several ministry officials, including the Minister.
"Like we thought, four others," Ernie said when Justin stopped for breath. "I bet the fourth was Lovegood."
Justin merely nodded.
Last year, both of you were willing to join the DA. You did this in part because we had such a worthless Defense instructor, and in part because you were convinced, with Voldemort back, you would need to know more than theory.
"I wish she's stop throwing that name around," Ernie grumbled.
Only you can know which factor was the more important to you. This year, as you probably know, Professor Remus Lupin will be returning.
"Good," Ernie stated firmly. "Werewolf or not, at least he knows what he's doing."
Justin nodded again.
However, the second factor is still valid. Voldemort is still out there. Sooner or later, the attacks will begin. Unless we are lucky, he will still be out there when we leave Hogwarts. It is possible that he may even attack Hogsmeade while students are there, or even attempt to attack Hogwarts itself.
Harry and I have permission to restart the Student Defense Association, to tutor students in Defense and allow students to practice outside of class. We will also be sponsoring physical training and self-defense (Ron Weasley will coordinate that). Fourth years and above may apply for membership. We hope we can count on the two of you to vet any Fourth and Fifth year Hufflepuffs who may wish to apply. All comments will be kept confidential.
Ernie made an 'hrrumph' sort of noise.
We also both hope the two of you would be interested in a subdivision of the Student Defense Association. It's purpose? I'll be honest with you. 1) to give Dumbledore a student auxiliary to use if necessary, should Hogsmeade or Hogwarts come under attack; 2) the next time Harry confronts Voldemort and his Death Eaters, there will not be five students to help take on the Death Eaters, there will be a group of well-trained students who can fight the Death Eaters, leaving Harry with the hardest job of all, but at least he won't have to fight two battles at once.
Are you interested? If so, open the enclosed envelope. Are you content to wait upon events until, if it is still necessary (or perhaps, if it is still even possible), you can join the fight in two to five years? If so, I know I can trust you both to destroy the inner envelope and its contents unopened and unread.
"Well," Ernie said after nearly a minute of silence. "This is it, isn't? We have to decide if we're serious or not."
"I know what my duty is, Ernie," Justin said. "Like I said a few weeks ago, the reason to have leaders is to lead, not to have power. That means you embrace a system or a cause because it's the right thing to do, not because it's the easy thing to do, or the convenient thing, or what's in purely our self-interest. I am a wizard. I chose this life. I either have to serve Voldemort, or I have to fight him, and I think it's better to fight early than late."
Ernie looked at his friend. He hadn't been this animated since before he had been petrified back in their Second year. "In our own ways," Justin went on, "we both believe in tradition and heritage. It's been made pretty clear that my blood-line means nothing to most Pure Bloods, but that is my heritage. We won wealth and a little prestige and power along the way, but most of us fought more for the principle. The Fletchley's lost the manor lands during the Civil War, and struggled to get it back after the Restoration. If I have to fight, I will fight. I sure as hell plan on being ready."
"You're right of course," Ernie said. "Commander Potter?"
"We can't all be the general," Justin said with a grin.
"Or the commander," Ernie agreed. "You know if we open this, and then change our mind, we'll probably be hexed worse than Edgecombe, right?"
"I know," Justin said. "But once we've given our word, it's good."
There was another letter, and another envelope.
/THE STUDENT DEFENSE ASSOCIATION/
/Dumbledore's Army// /
Dear Justin and Ernie:
Thank you for joining us. I know this wasn't an easy decision for either of you; this could be life or death for you and your families. Part of our jobs this year will be to keep an eye on the other students, not to take points or to harass those we don't like or whose opinions we disagree with (like the Inquisitorial Squad did last year), but to insure the safety of Hogwarts and those students who haven't realized that they will have to choose sides sooner or later.
Let's be frank; most of the students who would welcome an invasion of Hogwarts (many of the wards can be breached during the day through an invitation, after all) will be from Slytherin. However, we can't be certain that ALL the students who might feel that way are Slytherins. I know for a fact that the current Death Eaters include a Gryffindor, a Hufflepuff, and two Ravenclaws. More difficult with be those who believe that neutrality is the best policy, and will try to frustrate our efforts in the belief that active resistance will cause more problems than it will prevent. To be active will mean leading life at multiple levels -- working with members of your House who might be against our joint goals. None of us can expect that the mere fact that we have known someone for years and consider them a friend will mean that they will not betray us, actively or passively, even if they do not actively support Voldemort. Marietta Edgecombe was a good example of that.
If you are still certain, both of you place your right hand on the remaining envelope, state your name, and say, "I swear my loyalty to Harry Potter and Albus Dumbledore." One of you should be the Captain of Hufflepuff, the other the Adjutant. We leave it to you to decide which.
PS Please note our Battle Cry:
/REMEMBER CEDRIC DIGGORY /
Justin looked up. "Shall we do it, Captain?"
Ernie looked back. "Are you sure?"
"You have the badge, you have the magical heritage, you have the talent."
"Let's do it."