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, Snape creates a list, and ...
Friday, September 6, 1996
Harry and Hermione arrived at the auror potions lab at 7:45. They were right on time, as Snape came out of the door. He was there to key Hermione in.
After he did so, Snape turned to Harry. "Have you talked with Miss Turpin about the arrangements for the class, Potter?"
"No, sir," Harry answered. "She and Boot should be here around Ten. We're going to talk then."
"Very well." Snape looked at the two of them with a scowl deeper than usual. Finally, Snape turned to Hermione. "Are you sure you want those ingredients, Miss Granger?"
Snape seemed to repress a sigh. "Very well. It is against my judgement, however the Headmaster wishes you . . . accommodated." He gestured them into the room and shut the door, then turned to Harry and handed him a piece of parchment. "You will destroy this completely, BEFORE Boot and Turpin arrive. Neither of you will ever mention this to ANYONE, other than the Headmaster. You will not mention the obvious details outside your command structure. You will never even mention its source directly to each other. Understand?"
The two amazed students quickly agreed. Snape turned on his heel and stalked from the room.
"What is it?" Hermione asked quietly as Harry opened the note and glanced at its contents.
"It's an evaluation of each of the Slytherin students, and some leads on some of the others," Harry said in amazement. He looked at it again, holding it so that Hermione could read it as well.
"It doesn't change our evaluation of the Sixth years, does it?" Hermione said, looking at Harry's stunned expression rather than the note.
"Except for these names," Harry said, pointing them out.
"Oh, dear," Hermione said. "Good thing we don't like them much, let alone trust them."
"True. I'll have to adjust the list."
"Don't change it much now," Hermione warned. "We'd have to justify it. We can rewrite it later."
"True. I'll write the list out, more or less like we agreed, for Boot; you jot down the general info -- without the details, of course."
"Of course," Hermione agreed. "Then we shall destroy this together, in case we're asked."
"Are you certain you want to see this?" Harry asked Terry.
"If we have to rate our House, I need a little feedback," Terry retorted. "The others say they don't, but I rather gather Lisa might have more access than I will." Lisa shrugged.
"Fine," Harry said. "I hope you'll keep it quiet. Something like this can cause a lot of hard feelings, not to mention problems if someone we don't trust right now actually turns out trust-worthy."
"True," Terry admitted. "I won't ask for up-dates; I won't tell anyone about this list. I'll trust you to get any needed information to me when needed."
"Well, just walk around that portable chalk board if you still want to see," Harry said. "Just don't get in Hermione's way."
Terry hesitated, but his curiosity got the better of him, and he looked. Lisa went with him. The names were arranged in six groups of various numbers, running across the chalk board on the wall. All the current Sixth year students were listed.
Terry studied the list closely for nearly a minute. "Alright, I get numbers One, Five, and Six," he said. "What are the differences between Two, Three, and Four?"
"Twos and Threes are people we are fairly certain we can trust," Harry answered. "We know, for example, that Parvati and Lavender would never do anything to deliberately betray us, like Edgecombe did last year. They are natural gossips, though. Justin tends to boast a bit. You seem to have your own agenda that's running with ours right now, but might not later. Fours are either people we just aren't certain about, or doubt without proof, or who we think might be just plain neutral. Megan Jones, for example, claims to be a pacifist, but is said to be really shaken by Dean's murder."
Terry nodded his understanding. "You're right; I'd never give you away, but I'm not ready to commit to the Gryffindor militia yet."
Harry refrained from an angry retort. "We're not going to be wearing special uniforms, let alone asking you to wear one," he said instead. "Our group dynamics are just different than yours. The point is, we all have to work together, and play to our strengths."
"I know, I'm just trying to process it all," Terry admitted. "I really think Kevin Entwhistle and Mandy Brocklehurst might be movable to the Threes at some point, by the way."
"I hope so," Harry answered. "We hope to eliminate all the Fours, in one direction or the other. It would be great to know for certain about everyone, but all we can do for anyone, even ourselves, is our best guess."
"What do you mean?" Lisa asked.
"If Voldemort had just killed your father and tortured you and your mother, would you tell him where someone was hiding? It doesn't matter who -- me, or Hermione, or Terry here or anyone. Would you come back to Hogwarts and spy on us all, to save your mother more pain and humiliation? We can never be certain, until it happens."
"You're right; I hate it, but you're right," Terry admitted. "And while I feel I should defend all my House-mates, I think you have Corner, Cornfoot, and Edgecombe about right. I don't think any of them are potential Death Eaters, but Marietta is still very resentful about last spring, and Cho backs her to a greater degree than I thought she would. And since Cho backs her, so do Corner and Li, and the Seventh year girls. And Cornfoot backs Corner."
"It's a pain, not having the Head Boy and Girl on our side," Harry admitted.
"Why did Dumbledore give it to Collins and especially to Higgs! I mean, a Slytherin!" Terry complained.
"A Slytherin who argued against the others joining the Inquisitorial Squads," Hermione piped up from where she was crushing a large batch of lacewings to start a Polyjuice Potion. "He was the only Slytherin prefect to do so, so Dumbledore rewarded him, just like he stripped the other prefects for joining. I think we can trust Higgs to at least act neutral, until it comes down to the crunch. At that point, we just don't know."
"Should have docked them all their points and put the lot of them on detention for all this term," Terry growled. "Better yet, every member of the Squad should have been expelled!"
"Not politic," Hermione stated.
"We'll get them," Harry said. "At least the active supporters."
Terry looked at Harry for a few moments, then said, "There is one other, well, matter."
"Terry, no!" Lisa hissed. "I thought we all agreed. . . ."
"I still have to say something!"
"What about?" Harry asked.
"Well, you are dating Luna Lovegood."
"I am. And yes, I trust her." Harry looked straight into Terry's eyes. For a moment, Terry wondered if he was looking at Harry or a green-eyed Snape, or perhaps a green-eyed Dumbledore. It was damned intimidating, in any event.
"Then we'll try to make things a little easier for her, Harry," Terry said in a strangled voice. He had never witnessed the pure power of Harry's personality, and never wanted it directed against him again.
"Thank you, Terry," Harry said with a somewhat faux-thankful tone. "I would at least hope no one steals her blankets; Neville said all the signs are pointing to a harsh winter."
"We'll take care of it," Lisa said.
"And don't worry about anyone stealing Luna's new quilt," Hermione said. "Mrs. Weasley and Ginny made her a new one this summer. Mrs. Weasley did the temperature charms, and I arranged permission to put some strong protection hexes on it myself." She looked at Lisa. Hermione's voice went very cold and nasty, very much unlike her usual 'posh' tones. "You might want to mention that last part. We don't want anybody branded 'thief' by accident. Unlike Marietta's mark, this one could easily be permanent."
Lisa and Terry both paled.
"Snape told me you had worked out the schedules with him?" Harry said after a moment.
"Oh! Well, yes we did. Snape didn't really have seventy-five different potions that we had to totally memorize or whatever it was he said. There are really twenty-four potions we have to produce over the next two years, and we have to memorize the basic formulas for eighteen." She grimaced. "All the rest are variations that we might be asked questions about on the auror's exam, so we still have to understand them, but not memorize them."
"Well, that's not good, but it's not nearly as bad as we thought," Harry said with relief.
"No, it's not. And only two of the long potions really need to be done." Lisa smiled and looked at Hermione. "Looks like one there."
"Is the alternative formula to this one, the Polyjuice that can be stored indefinitely if the bicorn horn hasn't yet been added, one option?" Hermione asked.
"Yes, it is."
"Then you should ask Snape if that can be the group's first project," Hermione stated firmly. "That and the basic strengthening potion. We might never need this, but we're going to be prepared."
"I'll put it up to him," Lisa said. She and Terry left shortly afterwards.
"Did you really hex Luna's quilt?" Harry asked.
Hermione nodded as she measured the crushed lacewings into six cauldrons.
"Thank you," Harry said sincerely.
"Harry," Hermione said after she started the low fires under the cauldrons, "I still think Luna is a bit . . . eccentric. But her heart's in the right place, even if her mind doesn't always seem to be. And, most of all, you care for her, she cares for you, and she helped to save our lives. Two hours of setting some hexes spread over a few days is NOT a big deal."
"Thank you, anyway," Harry said.
Hermione stood up straight and stretched. "You're welcome. You can give me a backrub later, if you really want to thank me. I want to look at the situation room Dumbledore assigned us first, though. We should start the lists."
"No problem," Harry said easily.
"Do we accurately list the, well, the information that we got this morning?"
"I think we'll have to," Harry said. "The leadership needs to know that we have nine marked Death Eaters in the student population, six in our year alone. We just can't let it get out, and we NEVER mention the source."
Harry only had his two Muggle Studies classes on Friday. After the second one, Ron and Harry joined Katie Bell, the sole chaser from the teams of the last five years, to discuss Quidditch.
"Well, Harry, I hope you'll have time for Quidditch this year," she said. Dumbledore and Tomas had secured the lifting of his playing ban from the Ministry.
"I should, especially if you or Ron is the captain," Harry replied.
"Me?" Ron asked, surprised.
"McGonagall asked me about that," Katie replied to Harry. "Usually it goes to the most senior player, but that could be either you or me." Katie had started her Second year, which had been Harry's first. "I think I'll have more than enough to do training the new chasers and getting ready for the N.E.W.T.s. You don't want it?"
Harry shook his head. "I know how to catch the snitch and fly. That's not enough to be a good captain. I don't think it's a good idea for the seeker or the beaters to be captain anyway; very few pro-teams do. It should be a chaser or the keeper; they can direct traffic without worrying about the snitch."
"Well, Weasley?" Katie asked. "If you don't want it, I'll do it, but I'd rather it was you. And Harry's right; he'd make a mediocre captain at best."
"Really?" Ron asked.
"I wouldn't have met with you both if I hadn't hoped it would work out this way," Katie pointed out.
"But tradition says it should be you or Harry," Ron protested feebly.
"Well, if you prefer tradition over what's best for the team," Harry said in a pseudo-innocent voice.
"I'll take it!"
"Now, it's not official until we talk to McGonagall," Katie warned.
"Wait," Ron said, "what about Kirke and Sloper? Shouldn't they have a say?"
"No, they both came on after you, just like your sister," Katie said firmly. "I wouldn't mind replacing the beaters, but they did get a little better by the end of the season."
"We need to select some reserve beaters," Harry said, "as well as a chaser and some reserve chasers."
"You mean choose chasers, plural," Ron stated.
"Ginny is a chaser and the reserve seeker," Katie said firmly.
"Either that, or she's the seeker, and I try out for reserve seeker and beater," Harry said, equally firmly.
"I did reserve the field late tomorrow morning," Katie said. "Shall we go inform McGonagall?"
Ron squared his shoulders. "Yes, and we should have a team meeting right before dinner."
"Anything you say, Captain," Harry said, clapping Ron on the back. Ron had a very silly grin on his face.
Watching Ginny play chaser the next morning, Ron had to admit that she would have been chosen no matter what. Natalie Macdonald, a Third year, made the team as the third chaser. Most of the Second years turned out to be good flyers, and supplied the reserves, other than Ginny as reserve seeker.
That afternoon, the seven Sixth year Gryffindors met in McGonagall's classroom. "I've called you all here to see if there's anything we can do together as a group," Hermione said. "To tutor each other, or to help others."
"We are a group," Harry added, "not just seven people who share a House year. And we're all working together on the DA, if you'll join us."
"You mean the SDA," Lavender said.
"You're already all members of the SDA," Harry agreed. "The SDA is committed to practicing Defense. The DA is committed to helping Dumbledore fight Voldemort."
"Are you sure you want us?" Parvati asked nervously.
"We are," Hermione assured her.
"We'd like you to join us, but you don't have to," Ron told her.
"I know we like to tease you two about gossiping and chattering, but you know the difference between gossip and letting important information slip," Harry said. He and Hermione had thought this out together over the previous few days. They had really listed their dorm mates as '3s' mostly to encourage fair ratings from the other Houses. "And Seamus, if you want in, we'd like you, too. We trust you all."
"Thank you," Seamus said. "I'd like that."
"So would we," Parvati said, while Lavender nodded.
"We should call ourselves something silly," Lavender said. "That would deflect a lot of suspicion."
Ron smiled, "The Sixth Year Chocolate and Study Club. We spend an hour every Saturday we're not playing Quidditch or going to Hogsmeade eating chocolate, and Hermione helps us plan our study schedules for the week."
"Why me?" Hermione demanded.
"You do it anyway," Parvati answered. "This way, you set a time for it, and that will save you from chasing us down like you always have."
"We all take turns buying the chocolate," Harry said, "except Hermione. And, if we just happen to discuss other things. . . ."
"Good plan," Seamus said. "And I just happen to have four big bars of Cadbury's almond."
"Okay, share it out," Hermione said. "Let's see if I have everyone's complete schedules: we all have Defense, which should be easy, since we already done the practicals for the DA, and there's very little theory this year. I have N.E.W.T. Potions. Harry, Ron, and Neville have Auror Potions, and you three are in Household Potions."
"Right," Lavender said.
"Seamus is in Practical Charms and Transfigurations, and the rest of us are in N.E.W.T.s. . . ."
"Right," Seamus said.
"Keep a close eye on Crabbe and Goyle in all your classes with them," Harry said, "but be careful!" Seamus nodded.
"I'm alone for Runes and Arithmancy." When Hermione saw Harry about to say something, she added, "I'll watch out for Draco. Padma, Anthony, and Mandy always sit around me." Harry nodded.
"Harry is alone for Muggle Studies, Ron is alone for Creatures. Ron and Neville are in Herbology together, if Ron doesn't skip any more." Ron flushed. "Parvati and Lavender are together for Divination."
"Who else is in there now?" Harry asked.
"Eloise and Pansy-the-Pug," Lavender answered.
"I hate to ask it, but try and work with Eloise at times," Harry said.
"Why would working with Eloise be bad? Acne scars aren't contagious," Lavender said.
"Because that means we also have to work with Pansy," Parvati spat. "Why?" she asked Harry.
"Does anyone really like Eloise?" Harry asked.
"No," Lavender admitted. "Not that we dislike her," she hurriedly added.
Harry started to explain. "If Pansy is always working with her, she'll either be her usual pig-self, in which case Eloise will just suffer a bit. But, if Pansy has half a brain. . . ."
"Pure speculation," Seamus said.
"But if she does," Harry persisted, "she might be able to recruit Eloise. I don't want anyone drifting onto the Dark side by default."
"Well, we might do Tarot with Pansy, but damned if I'll touch her greasy paw," Lavender said.
"We're mostly doing advanced star charts by ourselves," Parvati said, "but I'll make certain we include Eloise."
"And aren't you two taking Astronomy as well?" Hermione went on.
"We are," Lavender admitted.
"Seamus and I have History," Hermione then went on, "and Harry, Neville, and I have the Basic Medicine. If everyone can give me a note every night about your assignments, what you've been given and what you've finished, I can work out some study plans."
"Great!" Harry said. "I want us ready to face everything! And I think we can do it, if we work together."
"We will," Parvati said firmly. "And Lavender and I will make certain the House keeps up its enthusiasm!"
The Sixth years toasted each other with chocolate.