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, Harry's plans start coming...
Wednesday, September 4, 1996
"Don't know why we have to be down here so blasted early," Ron grumbled, barely coherent, as the group moved into the dungeons. "Why did we have to leave so early?"
"Is he always like this in the morning?" Lisa Turpin asked.
"I'm afraid so," Harry answered. "At least he won't be demanding any early morning Quidditch practices."
"This isn't the pitch," Ron mumbled as Neville steered him away from hitting a wall -- again.
"I hope someone is watching where we're going," Harry said as he helped Neville steer Ron.
"Why are we going so early, anyway?" Neville asked. "I mean, I know the schedule said we had to show up an hour and fifteen minutes early for the first lesson, but why?"
"Snape is going to have to teach this class at the same time he's doing the Sixth year N.E.W.T. class," Terry Boot answered. "They're from Eight to Ten-Fifty, we're 10 to Ten-fifty."
"That's going to be tricky," Justin commented.
"Exactly," Lisa answered. "So, given the choice of spending class time with us or the N.E.W.T. folks. . . ."
"We show up early, so he can get us started," Ernie finished.
"Or so he can get an early start yelling at us," Harry grumbled. "Where are we going?"
"The regular potions lab and the N.E.W.T. potions lab are in the parallel corridor," Lisa said. "Our's must be an adjoining lab, which should be around this corner," she added as they reached it.
"Very astute," Snape said with his usual sneer as he stood outside the closed door. "Weasley! Awaken!"
"I'm awake!" Ron almost yelled, startled into consciousness.
"Good! Now, as Miss Turpin astutely said, this lab is next to the N.E.W.T. lab. One door leads to a storage room that lies between this lab and that, while the other leads to my offices. As with the N.E.W.T. lab, we will be accessing ingredients and making potions that are NOT to be taken from the lab without permission. That also means that access to this lab will be limited. This block," he continued, pointing to a white slab in the wall, "is a recognition block. When I tell you to, you will place your right hand on it and state your name, then I will close the recognition. Boot, you first. Key Terry Boot."
Terry placed his hand on the slab. "Terry Boot."
"Authorized." The door opened. "Go in and shut the door. If more than one person tries to enter at a time, they will be frozen in the doorway until I or the Headmaster release them." He quickly worked through the students.
The lab was a mess, to say the least. Not a jumble, or a wreck, but incredibly dusty and with little equipment. "You have until Ten am next Wednesday to have this lab totally clean. To answer your first question, you may use magic."
"Now, by the end of next year, you will have a list of seventy-five potions memorized, and will have made them each correctly at least once. You will be making six of those potions as the practical portion of your aurors exam, and answering questions about the others, and their ingredients, for the other portion. There are no further techniques than you will have to learn, you all have the basics required for these potions and for the auror exams."
Snape paused, but no one asked any questions. "Three of the potions will take a great deal of time and effort. All the potions you will memorize are described on that stack of hand-outs on the teacher's desk. Aurors must be able to act as a team, as well act as lone agents. Many of these potions will test that ability." He waved his arm around the room. "Those shelves are yours. These are where you will leave your bottled potions for testing. You have free access to the storage room. There are twelve potions marked which you shall NOT attempt to brew without supervision. You will decide together when you will try any of those, and inform me two weeks ahead of time."
He surveyed the group. "I shall assign partners. By now, I know your abilities fairly well. You may choose your own work tables, one pair per station. When you are doing the larger team potions, you may use the teacher's desk. I suggest you choose a coordinator; that will likely work better than if I assign one. So, Longbottom/Bones, Weasley/Finch-Fletchley, Potter/Turpin, and Macmillan/Boot. Good luck." He turned to go through the door to his offices, but stopped. He turned to Harry. "Provided your other work is ahead of schedule, this lab is also open for experimental work. If there are any N.E.W.T. students you feel you would like to work with, let me know, and I shall key them in." He left in a swirl of black robes.
The eight teens stood there, jaws open, except for Ron, whose eyes were closed. "Now what?" Lisa asked.
"Well," Terry started, but Ernie raised his hand. "What?"
"Tell me, Boot, would you feel the need to become an auror, if it wasn't for, well, Voldemort?"
Ron's eyes shot open, and everyone looked at Ernie. "It's a name," Ernie snapped. "If I'm going to face his people, I have to at least try to say the bloody name. Now, I have a nice family firm to go into if I want. But I decided I have an obligation, too. Since I think I can do this, I should do it."
"The same with me," Susan said. "I mean, I always intended to go into the MLES, but I didn't decide until last year it should be as an auror."
"What's this got to do with cleaning up this lab?" Terry demanded.
"I think they're trying to tell us they consider this class an extension of the SDA," Lisa said, looking at Harry. "That means Harry Potter is in charge."
"Is that true, Potter?" Terry asked.
"If that's what you all agree on," Harry answered. "That wouldn't mean I should run things in the class."
"You'd be in charge, but not run things? That doesn't make any sense."
"Harry is the over-all boss, he's not a dictator," Justin said quietly. "That means he delegates authority, and pulls his weight in class."
"I take it you two agree?" Terry asked, turning to Ron and Neville.
"That's right," Neville answered, before Ron could. Ron nodded.
"I agree, too," Susan said.
Terry scratched his head, not because he really disagreed, but because this was an unexpected twist. "They're right," Lisa said softly.
"A moment with my associate," Terry said, moving over to a far corner.
"What's your problem?" Lisa hissed. "We talked about this. If the SDA, let alone the DA, is going to do anything this year, if we're going to get out of the Ivory Tower and put our galleons where our mouths are, then Harry is the person to follow."
"It's not going to be an easy sell, if he's friends with Loony," Terry argued. "And why does that mean this class?"
"It's worse than that," Lisa said, amused and ignoring the second question, "they're dating."
"WHAT!" That drew closer attention to the pair, and Terry dropped his voice. "How can we sell that!" he whispered fiercely.
"Did you know she was with Harry and the other Gryffindors at the Ministry?" Lisa asked. "She told us Sunday night. Granger told me Monday, and Ginny Weasley told the Fifth years that it was not only true, but she put up the best fight after Potter!"
"You're having me on!"
Lisa shook her head. "Padma and I are talking with the girls. Luna is, well. . . ."
"Loony," Terry said firmly.
"Eccentric," Lisa supplied. "If Harry Potter and Hermione Granger trust her, if Harry Potter likes her, who is he going to trust and support? Luna or all the rest of the Ravenclaws? Even assuming that everyone else would rally to us," she added bitterly. "There's a chance that You-Know-Who will at least attack Hogsmeade, if not Hogwarts. Do you want to cower in the common room? Because I certainly don't!"
"So, we make nice with Loony, I mean Luna, and try to rally the House to Dumbledore and Harry?"
"What about the girls in her year? Padma has been trying to stop them from harassing her for years. And some of our year and the Seventh years have been helping."
"Marietta and Su Li, egged on by Cho, of course," Lisa said bitterly.
"Cho's always disliked Luna, and now she's been down on Potter since they broke up or whatever, and has had it in for Granger even before Marietta turned us in. Harry dating Loony-a, err, Luna could make that worse."
"Did you know Maureen was called to talk with Professor Dumbledore Monday morning?" Lisa asked, referring to the Fifth year prefect.
"No, but what's that got to do with Luna?"
"He told her that her position as prefect in part depended on the treatment Luna got from the Ravenclaw girls. When she asked why it was necessary to change now, Dumbledore said he had hoped that the childishness would have ended by now, but since it hadn't, he felt compelled to defend an officer of the SDA."
"An officer?" Boot shook his head, as if to clear it. "I didn't know that there even were officers, except Potter and maybe Granger."
"And the two Weasleys, Longbottom, and Luna. And, I suspect, Macmillan is going to be in general charge of Hufflepuff."
A wave of ambition crested in Terry Boot's heart, but he drove it down ruthlessly. "Does that mean Luna is going to be in charge of Ravenclaw? Because if it does, who would follow her?"
"Cho has already rallied the Seventh years to neutrality," Lisa answered. "As for our year, Anthony, Padma, Mandy, Morag, and I have decided to go with Harry, even if that means following Luna."
"And when did you all decide this?" Terry demanded.
"In a series of one-on-one meetings Monday and yesterday," Lisa answered. "We decided to wait until this morning for me to talk to you."
Terry stood in silence for a moment, but decided that it wasn't helpful. He looked up. "Potter! I mean, Harry, may I have a talk with you?"
"Sure," Harry said coming over.
"Is it true that Loo, err, Luna Lovegood is an officer of the SDA?"
"May I ask why?"
"Because she had the bad luck to follow me to the Ministry last June, and she proved there that despite her seeming disconnected to the everyday world, she is very capable and deserving my, and the Headmaster's, trust." Harry looked at Terry. "No, it's not because we're dating, even though we are."
"I want to stay part of the SDA, and I'd like to help with the new DA," Terry said carefully, "but I hope you'll understand that, for those of us who have known her awhile, that it's not easy to believe that she's that . . . helpful."
"I know that," Harry replied. "We talked about who should be the lead person for Ravenclaw. Ernie is for Hufflepuff, so we thought it probably should be Goldstein or Padma. They both said they would do it, but suggested you or Lisa." Harry and turned and was facing Lisa. He turned back to Terry. "If Lisa accepts, will that make things easier for you?"
Boot thought about it. He wanted to be a leader, but knew he wasn't the most popular member of his year by any means. "Easier for me, and for us to recruit in the Fifth and Fourth years," Terry answered.
"Try to at least get everyone involved in the jogging club, Harry said.
"How will that work when Weasley can't wake up?" Lisa teased.
"Oh, we'll get him dressed at 6:30, and just push him at 6:45," Harry said. "He'll run like a robot for half an hour." The two Ravenclaws smiled.
"About the lab," Terry then stated, bringing the rest of the group into the discussion. "What do you suggest . . . chief?"
"Who's the best in Potions from your group?" Harry asked.
"Lisa," Terry, Susan, and Ernie said.
"Do you want to be the straw boss?"
Lisa smiled. "As long as that doesn't mean I have to do all the cleaning, yes."
"Cleaning, no; scheduling, yes," Harry answered.
"You'll get me copies of everyone's schedules?" she asked.
"One more thing," Harry added to the whole group, now very serious. "There are four pairs of us, but twelve work tables. We need to clean everything, of course, but I'd like to set five tables off in one corner by themselves. Hermione and Hannah, and maybe some others, will be working on DA potions here. It's none of our business what they're doing, and it's nobody's business, not even other members of the DA, that they're here. Three tables are for them, one will be for Hannah's experiments, and one will be reserved for any later DA use."
"The need to know?" Justin said.
"What's that?" Terry asked.
"We don't need to know everything that's going on. We just need to know what we need to know," Justin stated. "The less we know about other DA members' activities, the less we can let slip."
"Probably about half the Slytherins are active or passive supporters of Voldemort," Harry said, ignoring the winces that caused. "Do you want to swear on your life that there aren't any passive members in all three of the other Houses? Anything we say in public can get back to someone like Malfoy, who could send it on."
"A point of information," Terry said. "I know you and Malfoy don't like each other, and of course he's an arrogant wanker and his father is a Death Eater. Does any of that make him an active or a passive supporter, or a possible informant?"
"What?" Ron demanded.
Harry stopped Ron before he got carried away. "I can't tell you how I know, but I know he's active. I don't know if he got the Mark yet, but he's active enough to have been on at least one mission for Voldemort. Any member of the Inquisitorial Squad will be classified as at least a passive supporter of Voldemort. Malfoy, Crabbe, and Goyle are the only ones currently classified as active." The group nodded their understanding. "One more thing. Every student Third year and under is to be considered a possible informant, if only because we all tended to chatter too much at that age. Listen to them carefully, look out for them, especially if there's any recent Muggle ancestry, but don't talk in front of them about SDA business. That will apply to Gryffindors as much as anyone else."
Everyone looked thoughtful. It was clear they didn't like it, but understood the necessity.
"Just one more thing, or rather two or three people." Harry looked Terry in the eye.
"Edgecombe, Corner, and Chang?" Terry asked, a little nervous.
Harry nodded. "Those three, and Zach Smith, are the only members of last year's DA I'm really worried about at all."
"Tell me, if you trust me that is, who do you trust in our year, and who don't you trust?"
Harry looked Terry in the eye. "I'll tell you what. Let's get this place cleaned, and I'll think about it. By Friday afternoon, I'll use that chalkboard over against the far wall and have a preliminary list. We'll probably be partially wrong, and some people will be justifiably upset if they hear about it, but we'll work on it. In return, you'll evaluate each of the Ravenclaws, Third year and above. Not as to how much you like them, but can you trust them with your life. Alright?"
Terry nodded. "I understand."
After the class time was over, Neville went off to Herbology. Ron hesitated, and then followed Harry. Harry, who had forgotten Ron was taking Herbology, had asked Ron to come with him. "Where are we going?"
"To see Dumbledore," Harry answered. "Come on. I've got an appointment."
"But. . . ."
Harry led Ron to the stone guardian. "Spring Surprise."
"Ah, Harry, Mister Weasley," Dumbledore was genial once they entered the office. "To what do I owe this appointment?"
"Well, sir," Harry said, "you got my note yesterday about splitting the DA into the general SDA and the DA, and the detailed plans you wanted Monday?."
Dumbledore nodded. "Yes. I believe you are proceeding on the presumption that I will agree?"
"Yes, sir," Harry said firmly. "What I do not know is if you will provide us with access to an area we can use to meet and plan."
"What do you need besides the Room of Requirement and the potions lab?"
"Are we going to get a gymnasium?" Harry asked.
"Madam Hooch is working with Professor Zoric on that. We should have someplace set up for you all by the end of the month. What else?"
"The Room of Requirement is easily breached. Some place down in the disused dungeons might work better. I'd also like a largish room that can be fairly well secured, like a disused classroom. We'd use it as a research room. Ideally, we'd have a smaller room available for the officers to meet in, also secured."
"Who are your officers, besides the group who went to the Ministry?"
"Right now, Lisa Turpin and Ernie Macmillan as the main two, with a few other Sixth years."
Dumbledore nodded approval. "What would you need for these rooms?"
"Mats and padding for the dungeon practice area. For the other two rooms, library tables, chairs, file cabinets if there are any available, pigeon holes if they are not. And, if there are any spare movable chalkboards, that would be great."
"Yes, I believe that is all reasonable and doable," Dumbledore acknowledged. "Anything else?"
"Yes, sir. We need to have accurate information on each student. If you or the other staff know or believe they have information on their reliability, we need it. If there is someone working for you that you don't want us to know about, then of course you should keep it from us. However, we need to know who we can't trust."
"I understand, Harry. I shall start the process. There is one thing, however."
"No offensive actions, Harry. That is too dangerous a path for your group at this time."
Harry sat back and thought a moment. He could see some of the paintings peeking at him, trying to pretend to be sleeping. Finally, Harry asked, "Does that include intelligence gathering?"
Now it was Dumbledore's turn to think hard. He then said, "Inside the grounds and castle only; Hogsmeade only on Hogsmeade weekends. No penetrating the Slytherin common room or dormitories until further notice."
"No penetrating Slytherin by non-Slytherins at this time," Harry amended.
Dumbledore nodded. "That is what I meant, of course. Like you, I hope many of the Slytherins will see sense before long. Is the potions lab satisfactory for outside-of-class needs?"
"If Professor Snape leaves five of the work stations alone, yes. We will, of course, reimburse the potions budget for anything we use."
"That will be satisfactory. Is there anything else you would like, Harry?"
"No sir," Harry said. "Unless you know of some way to simulate a dementor. I rather think that might no longer be my greatest fear, so finding a boggart wouldn't help."
"Dementors are easy to simulate in form, but not in effect," Dumbledore mused. "You are right; the Patronus is one of the most important things for the students to practice. I will look into the possibilities."
"Thank you, sir."
As Ron and Harry went off for an early lunch, Ron said, "I must say, that was weird!"
"Why do you say that?"
"It was so . . . tense," Ron answered, looking at Harry worriedly. Harry shrugged. Ron didn't want to say anything, but it was more like the bargaining between two equals rather than Headmaster/student.