Anna and friends 'make a break' for Hogwarts. Everything is not what is seems and last minute surprises call for quick thinking. Is everyone ready? Let's hope so.
Final moves, lucky breaks, last minute changes.
Fred and George Weasley arrived at Hogwarts via the Knight Bus, bringing the last of their inventions and defense equipment. Katie Bell and Angelina Johnson were with them, because, in Katie's words, "If you two think you're haring off to Hogwarts without us, you are sadly mistaken! We're D.A.s too, remember!"
Bill and Fleur were coming on the Express, which was going to make its usual run at the end of the holiday. A few of the D.A. had opted to use their BritRail passes and then Apparate to the gates from the nearest Muggle station, in time to greet the Hogwarts train. The Ministry was sending Aurors on the ride north, to guard the returning students, but about a third of the students, mostly younger ones, were being kept home by their anxious parents, at least until the school was proved safe.
Silvia and Daphne noticed that Millicent and Tracie were being very quiet on the ride.
"What's wrong, Millie? You look so worried," Silvia asked gently. "Didn't you get to see Gregory over the holiday? I thought you two had a date."
"No, I didn't get to see him," Millicent sighed, then looked at Tracie. "Did you see Vincent?"
"No. I did get an owl, though."
"Are they all right?" inquired Daphne.
"I suppose. He apologized for not being able to meet me as we had planned; said he was 'busy' and couldn't get away."
"Oh. I'm sorry. I know you two were looking forward to seeing them. At least they can owl and let you know they're alright." Daphne patted Tracie's arm.
"Yes, that's better than not hearing at all, I suppose," sighed Tracie.
"What do you say we go and check on the younger kids?" Daphne suggested.
"Yes; see how their holidays went." Silvia smiled.
"No, thanks. I think I'll just stay here. I'm not in a very 'cheery' mood." Tracie slumped back against the seat cushion.
"Me, either; sorry," Millie added.
"That's fine. We understand," replied Silvia, as she stood up.
"We'll be back in a bit. Want anything off the trolley?"
"No, thanks." "Not right now, thanks."
The two girls left, closing the compartment door behind them. Millie slid over and checked to see how far away they'd gone and then turned to Tracie, smiling.
"/They believed us/!"
"Vincent said they would; bleeding heart, blood traitors bitches. They'll regret the day they went to that D.A. meeting!"
"And we'll be rewarded for helping Gregory and Vincent when the Dark Lord conquers Hogwarts and kills Harry Potter!"
"Oh, lots of people will realize the Dark Lord is the most powerful wizard in the world."
"Yes...just before they /die/!"
"That does it!" George straightened up.
"We're all set!" Fred rubbed his hands together, grinning.
"Shouldn't we test it? Just to be sure it works?" asked Remus Lupin, looking around the Chamber of Secrets.
"Good idea, that! Let's test it!" agreed Fred.
"Ok, you go check the trigger box and I'll trip the system," suggested George.
"Come on Remus." Fred jerked his thumb towards the entrance to the tunnel.
"Are you two sure this won't be seen?"
"That's why we're doing a test run, to make sure," George replied. "The minute the system is activated, the sensors go into a cloaked mode, so no-one will see them. Plus, once they're triggered, the beams shut off, so they won't draw any unwanted attention. And the batteries work BECAUSE we're outside the boundaries of Hogwarts."
"It's bloody brilliant, even if I do say so myself!" George grinned and Fred nodded enthusiastically.
"Ok, give us a minute to get out there."
Remus turned and followed Fred to the back of the Chamber, climbed the ladder and walked through the door. Harry was threading the end of a piece of monofilament fishing line through a loop set in the wall. The line stretched off into the tunnels, back toward the school.
George set the motion sensors with a ten second delay and then Apparated out of the Chamber to the hillside above.
"Ready for a test?"
"Yes. George should be back in a second or two, let's close the door."
Remus and Fred pushed the door closed as Harry stood a few feet away, holding onto the almost invisible line. Fred took the end and inserted it into a small black box on the rim of the door.
"Keep a hold on the line, Harry; we don't want it to reel off, all the way to the school."
"Right! It was a job getting it all the way down here; I don't fancy doing it twice!"
After waiting nearly half a minute, there was a faint click and the fishing line dropped away from the small box mounted on the edge of the door.
"Well, George is back, and it works." Remus smiled.
"Put the line back, Fred, so we can test the door," Harry suggested, holding out the end of the line to the Weasley twin.
Taking the thin thread, he fed it into a small opening in the side of the box and pushed the top down.
George had rapped on the door. Fred hit the door once in reply. As George pushed the door open, the fishing line once again came out of the box.
"Bingo! Back up works, too." Fred grinned.
"Right! Let's seal the chamber, set up the trip box and remove to friendlier quarters, shall we, lads?"
George re-armed the system, Fred re-set the line and Harry locked the door. Checking the magically enhanced loops through which the line was threaded, they all made their way back to Moaning Myrtle's bathroom, where Harry also closed the entrance under the sinks, making sure the monofilament line wasn't being pinched.
"Now, if Anna's decoy plan works, we can just sit and wait," Fred observed.
"Yeah." Harry nodded. "Then it's his move."
"We're ready," Remus reassured the young wizards.
"And they are /clueless/!" smirked George.
"By the time they get any idea of what they're up against, it'll be too late," added Fred.
"I am SO glad you two are on our side!" Harry grinned.
"/Amen/!" agreed Remus, laughing.
"/I'm/ going to drive!"
Gwen almost stomped her foot, but thought better of it.
"But, you've never driven..."
"Oh, and you're such an expert because you drove it /twice/? You're a wizard, and I've been driving for almost twenty years, in all sorts of vehicles, Artemus, so don't go there!"
"You're not going to win this one," Cissa whispered in his ear, as she sidled up to Artemus Pye. "Let her drive; she's an expert...trust me."
"Besides, you're going to be providing cover and defense; I can't do that. Driving, diversions and surprise factor I can do, but casting defense spells and such, no," Gwen reasoned aloud.
Cissa, Artemus and Gwen were unloading boxes from the van and adding them to the supplies already stored in the ambulance.
"You and Severus are much better suited than Gwen at making sure no harm comes to these supplies or the ambulance," Cissa added her thoughts on the matter. "She'll get through Hogsmeade and the element of surprise is on your side, so actually, this could prove quite an event! Something to tell the grandchildren: old war stories."
"Are you foretelling the future, Cissa or cruising for a date?"
"Gwen!" Cissa blushed beet red. "What a thing to say."
Gwen looked from one to the other. Artemus was trying not to meet either of their eyes and Cissa was positively flustered.
"Shut it, Gwen!" Cissa hissed at her.
"My lips are sealed, I swear!"
"Good! Just don't dump him out the rear door, OK."
"Yes, I'd appreciate that, as well!" Artemus grinned, sneaking a peek at Cissa.
"I'll take good care of him and return him unscathed and huggable, Cissa, none the worse for wear...promise!"
"You're 'cruising for a bruising' as Anna says," replied Cissa, wagging her finger at Gwen, while Artemus rolled his eyes and shook his head.
Gwen grinned and went for another box.
"Ready?" Gwen whispered, looking back at the two wizards stationed at the rear doors of the ambulance. Severus had just climbed in, closing the door and making sure the latch was secure.
"Yes, we've removed the window panes and Severus has applied the "/Protego/" shield to the outside. We've got everything within reach, so we're ready when you are." Artemus answered softly.
"I'll try to get through Hogsmeade as quickly and quietly as I can, but at the first sign of anyone, well, give a shout and I'll take off."
"Can you see sufficiently, Gwen?" Severus asked.
Putting on her D.A. sunglasses, Gwen grinned. "I can now! Head lights? I don't need no stinkin' headlights!"
Severus nodded; a grim look on his face.
The ambulance emerged from the dense woods and slowly topped the hill overlooking Hogsmeade. In the distance, Gwen could see the outline of the castle, dim lights in a few windows. But Hogwarts was, for the most part, as dark as Hogsmeade; it was 2 AM, after all.
Taking a deep breath, she started driving down the lane that led into the top of the sleeping village. The silencing charm on the engine was working perfectly and the dirt track and grass muffled the tires.
'Jeez, this is narrow; I better be careful not to bump into anything.' Gwen thought to herself as she negotiated around dust bins and empty wooden boxes dotted along the cobbled street. She passed a sign reading /Madam Puddifoot's Tearoom/, with a pink arrow pointing up a side lane. The name brought a smile to Gwen's face, which quickly vanished as she saw a cat (?) streak across the road in front of her, bringing her back to the job at hand.
"Bear right up ahead, Gwen," Severus whispered.
Gwen nodded and slowed to make the turn. She could see the end of the street and the stretch of road that led to the train station beyond.
'Nearly halfway to the station,' she told herself. 'Now, if our luck holds and we can just...oh, /shit/!'
A figure had emerged from an alley on the right side of the street and looked up, jerking around as he sensed the advancing machine.
"Crap! We've been spotted!" she whispered urgently.
The startled pedestrian was fumbling for his wand, and as he glanced up Severus recognized him in the dim light coming from a streetlamp across the lane. It was McNair, a Death Eater.
"GO!" Severus hissed. "NOW!"
"Hold on you two!" she called back over her shoulder.
She hit the control panel and slammed her foot down on the gas pedal. The headlights blinded the wizard, who threw up his arms instinctively and dove back into the alleyway between the shops as the ambulance shot forward and past him, lights flashing, Gwen honking the horn. Artemus pulled a pin on a smoke canister and lobed it out the open window in the rear door. Severus watched for any other signs of movement or pursuit.
Lights appeared in windows and they heard faint shouts that were quickly lost as Gwen drove over the grade crossing alongside the Hogsmeade station. Up ahead there was only the stretch of road to the gates of Hogwarts, but suddenly a dozen figures Apparated in front of her.
"/We've got company/!" Gwen yelled, even as she hit her high beams and aimed straight for the group. "Move it or lose it, fools!"
They moved, alright...well, Apparated out of the way, only to reappear on the sides of the road and behind the speeding vehicle. Spells were flying but none connected with the ambulance. Gwen pulled off her sunglasses and concentrated on the road ahead.
"Guys! The gates are shut!"
"Don't worry, they'll open!" replied Severus.
"If you say so, Scooter!"
'Scooter! What /IS /that, a family endearment?' Severus thought absently, as he aimed a stunning spell at another Death Eater.
Artemus threw out two more smoke canisters and then turned to try and see how close they were.
"Almost there. Are you sure about the gates, Severus?"
Artemus rolled his eyes and fired a few spells into the billowing clouds of smoke curling over the road behind them. Gwen had to slow down slightly to round a small bend, just prior to the gates, when suddenly; a wall of fire sprang up in front of the ambulance.
"YIKES!" Gwen squeaked, and then frowned. "Oh, to hell with that/, it's /magic/, it's /not real." And she stomped down on the gas pedal. The ambulance leapt forward, straight into the wall of fire and through the now open gates, flames trailing behind. The gates slammed shut and locked, but Gwen kept going; up the approach road and into the courtyard, where she yelled for Artemus and Severus to "hold onto something!" and hit the brakes, jerking the wheel and skidding around on the flagstones,180 degrees, coming to a halt facing the road.
Hitting the buttons on the dash, the lights and flashers shut off and in the sudden darkness, Gwen jumped from the driver's seat and ran to the back doors, yanking them open. The two slightly ashen face wizards regarded her as she stood there, smiling broadly.
"Welcome to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Please, leave your seat in the upright position when exiting the vehicle. Thank you for riding with the '/Jones Traveling Circus and Medicine/ /Show/'. Watch your step."
Artemus and Severus looked at each other, then Gwen, then each other again.
"Are you going to strangle her, or shall I?" Severus asked.
"Be my guest." Artemus waved his hand.
Gwen was backing away, wide eyed, as Severus emerged, pulling up, first, one sleeve, then the other.
"Now, Severus, I yelled a warning to hold on."
"Yes, I did hear you...just...over the sound of my head hitting the inside of the roof!"
"Ouch! Ah...sorry about that?"
Remus Lupin came bounding out of the school.
"Remus, save me!" cried Gwen, as she sprinted straight into his arms.
"What the..." Remus started, and then he saw Artemus emerge from the back of the ambulance, looking a little green around the gills. "HA!HA!HA!HA!HA!" Remus burst out laughing, as he looked at the two disheveled wizards, and pushed Gwen behind his back for her safety. "I see you got a crash course in Muggle driving techniques."
"Crash indeed," muttered Severus, rubbing the top of his head. "Get out of my way, Lupin! I'm about to strangle your fiancÃ©," he snarled, advancing, hands out. But there was a smile playing at the corners of his mouth.
"Your first joy ride, I presume?" laughed Remus, turning slightly as Severus tried to circle him, Gwen clinging to his jacket.
"No, I've ridden with Gwen previously, but this 'ride' deserves a worthy 'payback'!"
"Don't you touch me, Severus Snape!"
"I've changed my mind, Gwen. I'm not going to strangle you, just turn you over my knee!"
"Oh, well, in that case." Remus grabbed Gwen's arm and spun her out in front of himself, straight into Severus' grasp.
"And the Muggle was driving the vehicle?"
"Yes, Master. The other two were in the back, shooting spells at us."
"Was anyone hit?"
"No, my Lord."
"Very well; now that we have all of our sheep in the fold, we can put our plans in motion."
"What of the Longbottoms? I ...we don't know if they were with them."
"We'll know soon enough, as we have eyes and ears inside the school."
"Yes, Master, forgive me for questioning."
"It is a concern, of course, but, I am pleased you are paying attention to details, McNair. That is why we will be victorious; attention to details, and planning ahead. Go and contact the giants, tell them to be ready in three days."
Macnair left Voldemort's chambers, relieved his Master was pleased with his report, but he didn't look forward to dealing with the giants; unpredictable lot, giants.
"Well, Bella, my sweet, it looks as if you'll be fulfilling your destiny in the near future. Are you and Rodolphus ready to settle down and be parents?"
"Yes, Master. We're eagerly awaiting the day."
"Very well, you may go; I need to think through our plans one last time."
With Severus and Artemus successfully smuggled back through the Passage Door, Anna, Gwen and Cissa, with Lyn on her hip, made their way down to the Great Hall for breakfast the next morning.
"What do you think the students will say when they see us?"
"It'll be a mixed bag of reactions," said Anna as they descended the main stairs, the noise from the Hall growing louder as they approached. "The D.A. will be happy to see us, as planned. The students who don't know why we are here will be totally puzzled until Albus makes his announcement and we will just have to deal with anything else, like any open hostility toward Gwen."
"Open hostility?" Gwen looked sleepy, but perked up at the mention of her name. "Why would anyone be hostile towards me?"
"The sad truth is, dear, most witches and wizards don't think Muggles can rub two brain cells together and having one here at Hogwarts is unprecedented, as far as I can recall. But once you are introduced, that might not be a problem, especially with the D.A. watching your back." Cissa informed her.
"Oh...Thanks...I feel LOTS better now." Gwen winced. "I knew I should have stayed in bed, but, /NO/, we have to make a grand entrance..."
"Shut it!" Anna hissed, as they approached the doors to the Great Hall.
They stopped for a moment; Cissa and Anna checked their robes, while Gwen straightened her cowboy hat.
"Did you have to wear that?" Cissa questioned, looking askew at the battered old hat, perched on Gwen head.
"Good luck hat, so, yes!" Gwen hissed back as the doors swung open. "Besides, I'm the crazy Muggle, remember?"
The students had been devoting themselves to their breakfast for a few minutes when the doors swung wide and Anna, Gwen and Cissa, holding Lyn, appeared in the opening. There was immediate silence, and then the D.A. members and most of the rest of Gryffindor, Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw jumped to their feet, shouting and applauding. Draco, Theo, Silvia, Blaise and Daphne were also standing and clapping.
Anna led the way toward the front, greeting various students as she went, while Gwen and Cissa waved to the ones they recognized. Draco came over and hugged his Mother, and when Lyn squealed and held out her arms, he took her and swung her, giggling, around in a circle. Meanwhile, Neville greeted Anna with equal enthusiasm. Gwen gave Harry a wink and then followed Anna and Cissa up to the staff table. Draco followed with his sister. Albus met the trio as they circled around the perimeter of the dais, heading for the three empty seats that awaited them.
"Good morning ladies, and almost on time, too." His eyes twinkled.
Gwen held up her hand. "My fault, Headmaster. I had a late night and overslept."
"Understandable, Dr. Jones, and you are forgiven. Now, if you'll take your seats, I'll make a short announcement."
They proceeded to the extra table, situated behind the staff table, where Arthur and Molly were sitting. Bill, Fleur and Percy were also seated there. Fred, George, Katie and Angelina had elected to join their friends at the Gryffindor table. Draco settled his sister in a highchair, gave her a kiss and headed back to his own place at the Slytherin table. The Headmaster held up his hand and silence descended on the gathered throng.
"As you can see, we've been joined by our former Defense Against the Dark Arts professor, Anna Twigg-Jones, who has brought with her Draco's Mother, Cissa Black and his sister, Lyn. /And/, joining us, also, is Dr. Gwendolyn Jones, Anna's step-daughter. They will be here at Hogwarts for the rest of the school term and will be living in the guest quarters in my tower, but any of the house elves will be glad to take messages to them at any time, should you want to communicate with them for any reason. Professor Twigg-Jones will be available to tutor anyone who feels they need extra help preparing for their O.W.L. or N.E.W.T. exams. Now, let's get back to our breakfast, shall we?
"So, they are truly there, are they?"
"Yes, Master. Millie sent me an owl as soon as she could." Gregory Goyle answered, not daring to look up.
"But no sign of the Longbottoms?"
"No matter. As a small reward.../you/ may owl Millicent and tell her when we will conquer Hogwarts, so she may prepare.../carefully worded/, of course. And use a different owl."
"Yes, Master, thank you, Master."
Gregory stood, bowed and hurried from the room. Voldemort sat, staring out the window.
"So, old man, it begins."
The next morning, Gwen was trying to get out of the front doors of the school, on her way to Hagrid's. Breakfast was in full swing; owls were swooping in and out and students were coming and going with equal rapidity. It was Saturday, so the meal was a bit more casual and those who slept in could be assured of getting something to eat, even at midmorning.
Dodging the students, Gwen kept Anna's Invisibility Cloak wrapped securely around her. Suddenly, two girls hurried out of the Great Hall, an envelope clutched by one of the girls, the other looking around, urging her friend forward.
'Hum, I wonder what that's all about?' thought Gwen, as she followed the secretive pair out the door before is swung closed, only to hear it being opened again behind her. Stepping quickly aside, she was surprised to see Draco emerge, glancing around, obviously looking for someone.
"Draco!" Gwen whispered.
Draco froze, puzzled, then he smiled.
"Did you see two girls come out just now?"
"Yes; they went that way."
Gwen stuck her hand out from under the Invisibility Cloak and pointed toward the lake.
"Will you do me a big favor? Follow them and try to hear what they say; I think something important is in that letter."
"Right; I'll meet you at Hagrid's, like we planned."
Gwen hurried down the steps and trotted after the girls who were checking around to see if they were alone and just as Gwen caught up to them, she heard one gasp.
"Are you sure, Millie?"
"Look, it says right here, 'Black Moon, 3AM', that's Monday night."
"But we thought it would be Wednesday night...well, early Thursday morning, on the first of the month."
"That's the point; darkest night, two days earlier than those fools expect! It'll be a rude awakening for those smart-aleck D.A.s." Millie laughed. "I can't wait to see what Vincent and Gregory do to Draco."
"They can't do too much, he's to be taken to the Dark Lord, but Theo, Blaise, Silvia and Daphne are in BIG trouble. We four will show them who's going to be in charge from now on!"
"I really hope they are foolish enough to try and fight us. I want that Silvia to pay for calling me a cow."
"You can make her pay whether she puts up any resistance or not. You don't need an excuse and you have a reason."
They both laughed and headed back into the school. Gwen waited until they were out of sight, and then sprinted across the lawn, aiming for Hagrid's hut. She saw Draco and Hagrid headed for Buckbeak's paddock and veered to the left to catch up with them.
"Draco!" called Gwen, as she pulled the cloak off.
"What did you hear? Anything?"
"It's scheduled for tomorrow night, well, at 3AM Monday, actually."
"Yeah, the message was 'Black Moon, 3AM'. It was from Gregory. I'm assuming that's her boyfriend?"
"Right...a former friend of mine."
"Oh, I remember, that fight in the front hall of the school?"
"So, they're Death Eaters, too, are they; Crabbe and Goyle?" Hagrid asked.
"Like fathers, like sons." Draco smirked.
"They are planning on delivering you, /personally/, to Voldemort, Draco, which means they'll be heading straight to the Slytherin dungeon."
"Mother and Daphne have that covered; they'll take care of Millie and Tracie and Gregory and Vincent."
"Tha' should be interestin'," chuckled Hagrid. "But I guess this means getting everything ready tonight. There's a D.A. meeting after supper this evening; pretty good timin', that."
"Still, I think we'd better alert a few people now; Harry and Dumbledore, for starts."
"And Anna, she's still at breakfast, I believe."
"Right, let me send word."
Draco pulled out his wand and pointed it toward the castle and a white dragon streaked out of the end and winged its way to the school. Within a minute a white stag galloped across the lawn, stopping in front of Draco.
"Potter's going to come down here in a bit, kind of zip over, casual like," Draco reported after the vision faded away.
"That was so cool," Gwen exclaimed. "But I didn't hear anything, did you Hagrid?"
"Naw, it's just between the one sending the Patronus and the person who the message is for."
"Oh, I was..."
There was a flash of light and Fawkes landed on the paddock railing.
"Hello, Fawkes," Gwen smiled and reached over and petted the scarlet bird. "Albus going to join us?"
The large bird nodded, spread his wings and in a blink was gone.
"I wonder what form Anna's Patronus takes?" wondered Draco aloud
"Sweet Mary, Mother of Pearl!" Gwen gasped, as she jumped behind Hagrid. A huge white tiger bounded up and standing on its back feet, put its front paws on Hagrid's shoulders, and proceeded to lick his face, purring loudly.
Draco let out a low whistle. "Man alive...that is one big cat!"
"Tiger," corrected Hagrid, scratching the beast behind the ears. "Anna's coming down with the Headmaster."
Gwen peeked around and the tiger winked at her before fading away.
"Magic is so wonderfully bizarre," muttered Gwen, "and my list of questions is getting longer by the minute!"
"Well, 'ya seems to be right acceptin' of everthin' ya've seen so far, there, Gwen," Hagrid laughed.
"Not much choice, come to that," Draco observed, "being pitch forked into the middle of this mess like you were."
"I wouldn't miss a minute of this for all the tea in China!" Gwen smiled at them. "Here come Albus and Anna!" she added, pointing toward the school.
Anna, coffee mug in hand, and the Headmaster were strolling slowly across the lawn, seemingly enjoying the spring sunshine and chatting as they wandered towards Hagrid's hut. They waved to students who shouted greetings and watched as several Quidditch players streaked toward the pitch for some practice.
They joined the trio at the paddock and a minute later Harry arrived on his broom.
"Draco, what's the news you have for us?" asked the Headmaster.
"Millie got an owl from Gregory. It said 'Black Moon, 3 AM'. It seems they plan on attacking early Monday morning."
"Ah, so we were a bit off on that; it won't be Walpurgis Night after all, but the Black Moon. Interesting timing, from Tom's perspective."
"Excuse me," interrupted Gwen. "I don't mean to sound totally lost here, but what is a Black Moon?"
"It is that occasion when there are two new moons in one calendar month; the second one is called the Black Moon."
"It's the same as a Blue Moon, then, but without the moonlight? Darkest night of the month?"
"That's close enough." Anna grinned. "I'll explain Walpurgis Night later."
"Fine with me."
Harry went on to Quidditch practice, while Anna and Albus stayed and watched Draco and Gwen flying around on Buckbeak. Hagrid took everyone to meet Grawp and then Anna and the Headmaster returned to the school. Gwen and Draco stayed and went over the plan with Hagrid and Grawp one more time; even though they were certain Grawp understood how important the coming battle was. Before anyone realized it, the day had slipped away and it was time for what would be their final D.A. meeting.