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, the group goes to Hogwarts...
Sunday, September 1, 1996
Zoric had sent the sextet home the previous Thursday, with Harry going to the Burrow with Ron and Ginny. Saturday evening, they came back together at the Leaky Cauldron. Sunday morning, Zoric picked them up (early of course) in an enchanted mini-van, his three daughters and their gear already present. They all noted that he 'had his mask on.'
"Daddy's going to ride with us," Irena said. They of course all knew each other from the Sunday dinners in the Adriatic.
"Lupin and I will be on the train," Tomas acknowledged.
"Just a precaution?" Hermione asked.
"Originally," Tomas acknowledged. "The Death Eaters attacked the homes of four Muggle-born students last night, and Voldemort himself led another attack on Azkaban. Wait until I can park this thing, so I can explain the results."
The nine students sat nervously for another fifteen minutes, before Tomas was able to park. Tomas turned around. "Dumbledore will announce this tonight, so you will all have to keep the details quiet. It will be in The Prophet tomorrow. Voldemort was able to free most of his imprisoned Death Eaters. Nine of the twenty-four guards were Kissed, three were apparently either working for Voldemort or under the Imperius curse. One was tortured to death, because when he saw Voldemort would win, he started killing and cursing the prisoners. Three were killed, and at least six were seriously cursed. The only one you probably need to know about now is Lucius Malfoy. Best evidence is that he's seriously injured."
"Draco will be pretty torn up, then," Hermione mused.
"While the homes of four students were attacked, in part as diversions to draw people away from being able to reinforce Azkaban when the alarms went off, it was actually just three homes. Three Gryffindor homes; four Muggle-born Gryffindor students."
"Mum!" Hermione almost shouted.
"Your home was attacked," Tomas acknowledged. "Both your parents are safe, and Rastaban Lestrange was seriously injured and the Dementors driven off."
Ron put his arm around the shaking Hermione.
"Who else?" Harry said stonily. Luna put her arm around Harry's shoulders, which made him relax slightly.
"Dean Thomas and the Creevy brothers, and their families, did not survive. The Creevys actually managed to stun some of the Death Eaters attacking them. Crabbe and Goyle senior were captured, and several more Death Eaters were positively identified."
Tomas surveyed the upset and angry Gryffindors. All looked ready to cry as well. "This is war," he said simply. "This was a defeat. In a war, there will be losses. Accepting those losses should never be easy, but there will be many more losses. If you let the losses crush your spirit, then you will lose the war. This is not an easy lesson to accept." His mask slipped a bit, something his daughters had rarely seen. "I'm very sorry for your losses."
Harry looked at his mentor. "Master Tomas, you know my plans for the students, Fourth year and above." Tomas nodded. "I'll need to try to recruit the new prefects."
"And I need to recruit as many Fourth and Fifth years as possible in Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw."
Tomas was stunned, although it didn't show. Having as many prefects as possible were needed for Harry's plans, but they would also be on the forefront should any fighting come to Hogwarts, or even Hogsmeade. Ginny Weasley was one new prefect for Gryffindor (Colin Creevy was supposed to have been her counterpart). But the DA would be right next to the prefects. And so would the trusted Fourth and Fifth years.
"Daddy," Ginny Driver said softly. "I think I should join the DA."
"No," Georgia Anderson said, very firmly for her, "we both need to join the DA." She looked at her adoptive father. "I hope we have your blessings."
Tomas nodded silently.
"And I suppose I have to just sit and watch," Irena grumped, pouting with her arms crossed.
"No," Ginny Weasley said.
Ginny held her hand up. "We don't know which House you'll be sorted into. No matter where, you'll keep your ears open and your mouth shut. Sometimes older students don't notice First years. Anything you hear, you tell one of us, but you will NOT go snooping without permission."
Tomas nearly gritted his teeth in anger, but knew Weasley was right.
"Any chance she'll be Sorted into Slytherin?" Harry asked.
"Not much," Tomas said, in a slightly strained voice, "but it's always possible."
Harry turned on the little girl with such a look of concentration she almost squeaked in nervousness. "During your actual Sorting, just keep thinking, 'Anywhere but Slytherin.'" Irena nodded her agreement.
"Let's go," Hermione said.
"One more thing," Tomas said. "Malfoy and Parkinson have been replaced as prefects." All the Gryffindors smiled broadly at that. "Blaise Zabini and Tracey Davis have replaced them. The official reason was the abuse of power while some Slytherin prefects were members of the Inquisitorial Squad. This move will both make Malfoy less annoying yet more dangerous. Watch your backs, but do not antagonize him. Don't give him any excuses." They all nodded.
Tomas' three daughters shared a compartment, and Harry, Neville, and Luna sat with them. Hermione, Ron, and Ginny had been told to sound out the prefects from the other Houses, and the Head Boy and Girl, for their attitudes to the DA that year. Just before Harry had gone into the compartment, Justin had walked by and just said, "We're both with you." Harry had merely nodded and smiled. Justin understood, smiled, and moved on.
Harry was unsurprised when Draco and his two stooges showed up. He had figured they would before the prefects' meeting broke up. His wand was at the ready when he saw Draco start to open the compartment door.
"Well, Potty, this is a different group for you and the squib. A weirdo, a dyke, a slut, and a baby."
Before Harry could even think about reacting, Draco was bent over in agony. Georgia had hit him full force, with a back-handed upwardly-traveling perfectly-manicured fist right in the testicles. Ginny Driver's sensible boot then hit Draco right in the nose, breaking it and throwing him back into Crabbe. "Call us that again, and you'll be a soprano the rest of you life," Georgia snarled.
"Uh-uh," Harry warned, pointing his wand at Crabbe and Goyle. "Drag him back to your compartment, and keep him there."
They looked at each other, and decided that was probably good advice. Harry looked at the two Hufflepuffs. "I thought we weren't supposed to antagonize him?"
"I'm rather hoping Father meant it for you and your five friends," Georgia said, examining her knuckles for damage.
"I take it he taught you self-defense?"
"Actually, he had us taught," Irena piped up. When the others looked at her, she smiled shyly and snuggled back into her corner.
"I expect we'll help Ron Weasley with the DA physical training," Ginny said stoutly.
"I'll let him know," Harry said. "Just one thing, Ginny."
"Could you and Ginny talk and decide something?"
"Having two Ginnys in the DA might get confusing, huh?"
"It could, and Ginny can't go just by Weasley."
"I'll go by Gin, how's that? Half the people in Hufflepuff call me that anyway."
The door opened again. Tomas Zoric was looking at them. "Do you happen to know why Malfoy has a broken nose?" he asked Harry.
Five of the students gave him a weak smile. Luna, who had picked up her Quibbler after Crabbe and Goyle had dragged Malfoy away, said, "It would probably be best for all concerned if it's put down to his tripping by accident."
"Harry?" Tomas asked warningly. "How did he break his nose?
"I didn't touch him!"
"I did, though," Gin confessed. "He called me a slut, and Georgia a dyke, , , ,"
"And me a baby," Irena added.
"Why do I have to be the dyke?" Georgia demanded. "You're the one who wears all those ugly boots and shoes!"
"That's a stereotype, and they're comfortable. . . ."
"And how was his nose in a position to be kicked?" Tomas broke in. He knew his two daughters could argue like this for hours.
"That would be because I hit him in the privates first," Georgia confessed.
"I admit I was surprised," Gin said. "I would have sworn he had lost those years ago, assuming he was born with any."
Tomas looked at them, then at Harry. "I have a feeling you're a bad influence, Harry," he teased. "Leave your door open; he's two doors down. You might as well enjoy this."
The group listened. Luna even lowered The Quibbler.
After a few seconds, they heard Zoric. "Don't be a baby! Stop whining and let me straighten that, so I can heal it!" Draco screamed.
Neville smiled and shut the door gently.
As the five Gryffindors sat in the great hall, they were smiling at the retelling of Malfoy's misfortunes. They were smiling, that is, until Seamus Finnigan sat down. "Have any of you heard from Dean? He wasn't on the train."
Parvati and Lavender found their new seats as well -- by tradition, except for the Fifth year prefects, the students sat more-or-less by year, and the higher the year the further they sat from the teachers. The Fifth year prefects, and sometimes their friends, sat near the bottom of the table to keep an eye on the First years (and the Seconds, although that was rarely mentioned).
"The two pests were missing, too," Lavender said, referring to the Creevy brother. The smiles were wiped from the face of the five friends.
"What's happened?" Parvati asked.
"We're not supposed to say anything until after Dumbledore makes the announcement," Hermione said. "We don't know any of the details, anyway," she added.
"But something's happened," Seamus stated, a note of panic in his voice.
"Missing your better half?" Andrew Kirke, the Seventh year prefect called down jovially.
Harry looked at Andrew, whose smile quickly faded under Harry's anger. "Kirke," Harry said quietly, "we don't know the details, but it isn't something to laugh about."
Andrew paled. "Oh, shite," he whispered.
"Exactly," Harry said. "Now, we are all going to shut our mouths, and applaud the new students. Then, after we send the Firsties and Seconds to bed, we'll talk. All right?" He surveyed the group. "All right?" he repeated. More than a dozen pair of very wide eyes looked back, and their heads nodded in agreement.
In a few moments, Dumbledore called for silence, and the 42 First years marched nervously in. A few looked angry, and were giving Irena dirty looks. She gave them right back. Even McGonagall looked upset.
Usually, the Firsts spread out fairly but this time there was a break. Irena and a platinum blonde stood some four feet apart. Three others stood to the blonde's left, all the others stood to Irena's right. The two looked at each other with near-hatred.
"Does Malfoy have a sister?" Harry wondered to Hermione.
"He might, from the looks of it," Hermione acknowledged.
The Sorting Hat again sang a song pleading for unity. It did not get what it asked for that night.
It was by far the longest Sorting anyone could remember, even Dumbledore. Most of the students were seen moving their lips, as if arguing or pleading silently with the Sorting Hat.
In the end, there were only five students Sorted into Slytherin: Mark Bulstrode; Maurice Flint; and Andrea Pucey (the three students who had stood to the right of Bellatrix Malfoy); Malfoy herself, and a not-overly happy Edmund Zabini. There were nine Sorted into Gryffindor (including Irena and Sudipta Patil), twelve into Ravenclaw, and sixteen into Hufflepuff.
The students cheered Remus Lupin's return, and applauded Tomas Zoric politely. The students then took the news of the three student deaths mostly with a stunned silence, although Harry could see Draco Malfoy wore a smirk until he met Harry's eyes. Then he looked away from Harry's glare.
As the students got up to leave, McGonagall called Harry over for a brief discussion, then Harry ran to catch up before the First years reached the common room. Colin would have been the second Gryffindor Fifth year prefect. Leo Wood, Oliver Wood's cousin, reluctantly took his place. Before they could send the First years to their dorms, Harry asked Irena, "What happened between you and Malfoy before the Sorting?"
"One of the girls was worried about what House she might get Sorted into," Irena said simply. "I told her to ask, and she said she'd ask for Hufflepuff. Malfoy made a nasty comment about Hufflepuffs, and I said every House was better than Slytherin. She said that only those loyal in Slytherin would survive the Dark Lord's rise to power, and then Sudipta started shouting at her."
"She's a spoiled little brat!" Sudipta stated firmly. "So I said we should all say we don't want to go to Slytherin." She looked at Parvati, a bit embarrassed. "I know one of our cousins was in Slytherin, and none of that lot are evil, but Malfoy just looked so . . . blood-thirsty!"
'Like sister like brother,' Ron muttered.
"And I said everyone should all say what you told me, Harry. 'Anywhere but Slytherin,'" Irena said proudly.
"We were all chanting that when Professor McGonagall came back," Marvin Budd said, still a bit frightened. "She wasn't . . . happy with us."
"Well, I guess it worked," Harry said, letting it go.
The First years were sent off to bed, and each of the other years selected a person to organize a memorial service for Dean and the Creevys. The Second and Third years were sent off to bed soon there after.
Jack Sloper, the Seventh year beater who was interested in both art and photography, and who had therefore been fairly friendly with Dean and Colin took the floor first. "Potter, we did the DA last year because we had an incompetent teacher. With Lupin back, that no longer applies. But tell me straight, Harry," he asked, calling Harry by his first name for the first time, "because you probably know. Are the Slytherins all talk, or are some of them likely to do something like trying to let Death Eaters into the school?"
"I think half of them are more or less okay," Harry answered. "Some of them would sabotage Hogwarts if they are asked to. More of them would probably tell the really active sympathizers anything they learn, without being willing to do anything themselves."
The group grumbled.
"The DA will continue as the SDA, the Student Defense Association, along the same lines as last year, plus some physical training, including self-defense and running for conditioning," Harry went on.
"And beyond that?" Lavender asked, looking very unlike her normally-fluffy self. "We could be attacked. If He-Who. . . ."
"Say the name, Lavender," Harry said firmly. "Call the bastard by his name, Tom Riddle, or by the title he made up for himself, Voldemort, but say it."
"Riddle?" she asked. "You know what His real name is?"
"We've met," Ginny said. For the first time, she told an abbreviated version of her first year run-in. Harry then told them, again for the first time, what happened after the Third Task and at the Ministry.
When he was finished, there was silence for a moment. Then Harry spoke again. "Look around this room. There are Thirty-six of us. I hope all of you will join the SDA. Some of you want to do more. Look around again. What are Gryffindors supposed to be?"
"The Bravest of the Brave!" Joyce Cooper, a loud Fourth year stated firmly and loudly.
"Does Voldemort value bravery?" Harry asked. That was met with stunned silence. "Does he want brave followers? Of course he would. What are Hufflepuffs? Loyal. He wants loyal followers. Ravenclaws are intelligent, and he would like some intelligent followers."
"What are you saying?" Andrew Kirke asked.
"Look around again," Harry said. "I don't know of any one of us who would likely be an active supporter of Voldemort. I have never heard the word 'Mudblood' in this common room. But how many of us are pure or mixed-bloods, both our parents were magical, even if one was Muggle-born?" Thirty students raised their hands. "How many are Pure-bloods, at least the third generation?" Twenty-one kept their hands up.
"Ask yourself honestly; you all know everyone at least a little. Do you trust everyone here with your life and the lives of your friends and family? I am not being dramatic; I am not being silly. That really is the question. Think about it for the next two weeks or so. Tell me before then, who do you trust with your life? Not just in Gryffindor, but the rest of the school. Not who don't you trust. I don't think any of us in the room have done anything to generate mistrust."
"And what will you do with that information, Harry?" Parvati asked.
"I intend for Hogwarts to be as safe as possible for at least the next two years. If the war is still going on as each year ends, I want you able to decide if you want to actively join in or not, and I want to be able to tell people who they can trust, and who they can trust absolutely. Beyond that," Harry said with a shrug, "we'll see."
William Lloyd, a Fifth year, walked forward. "You all have an idea who I am. I'm as Pure-blooded as they come, and I've said so. I'm proud of that heritage, and some of you probably think I've said that too often! My mother was a Slytherin, and I had hoped I'd be in Slytherin or Ravenclaw, like my Father. My parents would never use the term 'Mudblood,' but they don't like the Muggle-born any more than they like You-Know-Who. I'm not sure if I like the idea of Muggle-borns coming in and diluting our culture, but that's a lot different than saying they aren't worthy to be part of the magical world, and a hell of a lot different from that people like . . . Riddle believe. But, well, Colin Creevy was my mate. He made an effort to fit in, even if in some ways he was still as Muggle as they come. He didn't hate our culture, like I thought all Muggle-borns did before I came here." He looked at Hermione, tears in his eyes. "And you. You proved my parents wrong, too."
He looked at Harry. "My best mate is dead. Tell me your plans, don't tell me your plans, I don't care. After all, my sister is a Fourth year Slytherin who's pretty friendly with some of the nastier types over there. But I tell you this, Harry Potter, I am with you, no matter what." He turned and left the room.
The Gryffindors stood there for a moment, stunned, then Lavender Brown stood up. "Everyone sit down," she ordered. They did, surprised. "You all know me, too," she went on, "I've never known why I was put in Gryffindor before tonight. I've always thought I should have been in Hufflepuff or Ravenclaw, like the rest of my family. I'm not a fighter by nature, but Dean Thomas was a good friend of mine, and I'm mad as hell!"
She looked at Harry. "I know I've got the biggest mouth in Gryffindor. Don't tell me anything you don't want me to accidently slip and tell. But I say to you, Harry Potter, I am yours to command." She fled up the stairs.
Parvati Patil stood up. "It's getting late. It's certainly too late for everyone to play 'giving testimony.' If any of you outside our year want to pledge allegiance to Harry, do so on your own time. I just want to say something to a few of you." She fixed them all a hard gaze. "Look at the people accused of being Death Eaters. Look at Slytherin. What won't you see?"
She paused. "You won't see a non-European face. I grant you, there have been a few non-European Slytherins, but not many and none are there now. All the ones I know of since we've been here were transfers."
She looked around the room. "My paternal ancestors have been magical for some eighteen hundred years. One branch of my maternal lineage can be traced back, through magi that came in with Persians twenty-five hundred years ago, to ancient Babylon almost five thousand years ago. And still Draco Malfoy has called me a 'wog,' and Pansy Parkinson has called me 'niggar'."
Parvati's pretty face suddenly looked very dangerous. "Pure ancestry is something to be proud of, but it's far from the beginning and end of what it means to be magical. Hermione is a greater witch than I am in most of the ways that count. He-who, well, V-Voldemort, is about bigotry and power, not Pure-Blood culture, and I won't stand for it any more! The next person that calls me a wog or worse gets walloped! The next time I hear any of you called a Mudblood or worse. . . ." She slapped one hand sharply against the other. "One small segment of the Slytherins has been running wild for at least five years. Last year, they showed their true colors. I say, we stand together!" The students cheered. "Harry Potter, I am your to command."
Seamus stood, and just said to Harry, "I decided last year, when I finally joined the DA, that I had made up my mind to follow you. I haven't changed my mind." Seamus went up the stairs, gripping Harry's shoulder as he passed by.
Andrew Kirke, the Seventh year prefect, then said, "I'm sure we know where Granger and both Weasleys probably stand." All three nodded. "Longbottom, how about you?"
"Neville, Hermione, Ron, and Ginny are all officers of the SDA," Harry answered. "Does that answer your question?"
"Yeah," Andrew agreed, "It does. Hold on a second." Andrew and the other three Seventh year boys (Sloper, Andrew Hooper, and Abdul Hassan) conferred for a few seconds. "We're with you, Potter."
"So are we," the Seventh year girls chorused. The other students assured Harry of their support, and went to bed, leaving just Harry and the other SDA officers.
"That was . . . interesting," Hermione said to the stunned Harry.
Harry roused himself. "Tell Lavender to feel free to spread any gossip she wants to that is not about the SDA or similar topics. All the gossip she gets in return, have her tell Ginny."
"Right," Hermione said gently. She kissed Harry on the cheek and Ron on the lips, and said good night. Ginny kissed Harry and Ron on the cheek, Neville on the lips, and followed.
"I'd better go to bed, too," Neville said nervously, as Ron glared at him.
"Don't we get a kiss, too?" Harry teased, which made Ron laugh. Neville decided Harry was giving him a good excuse to escape.