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, after the battle in Octobe...
The attack on Hogsmeade had shown the value of the DA and SDA. While there was the tragedy of the deaths and Kissings, the students had quickly rallied. The Death Eaters and dementors had had no time to damage the town or any of the residents. A few days after the attack, the business people of Hogsmeade announced a 5% discount for the students for any remaining Hogsmeade weekends that year.
The castle was of course something of a mad house for the twenty-four hours or so after the attack. All the students who had gone to Hogsmeade were interviewed by the Ministry at least three times; Harry ten times, Padma and her team, eight.
Points were doled out liberally that Saturday night at dinner. Harry, Padma, Parvati, Lavender, and Lisa were all promised special citations by the Department of Magical Law Enforcement. Minister Fudge revoked them when he arrived shortly after dinner to try and figure out how to keep up the appearances that nothing was seriously wrong.
The most important person interviewed by law enforcement, however, was Millicent Bulstrode. After her statement, the aurors had no choice but to test Draco's and Pansy's wands, despite Minister Fudge's objections. Fudge and four assistants (including Percy Weasley) were so busy trying to do general damage control, they failed to realize exactly how much damage they were doing to each other. When the reporters compared some of their notes, they saw a clear pattern of pro-Voldemort obstruction.
Hermione and Luna made certain that the press wanted to compare those notes. Six reporters, and Luna's father, had arrived at Hogwarts by 5:00 pm Saturday evening. By the next morning, there were twenty. Luna fed them all the stories they needed, although how she got a hold of the multiple copies of the complaints the aurors and hit wizards were filing against Fudge and his assistants, she wouldn't say.
Draco and Pansy were of course arrested. There was no defense even Fudge could make up for them when the shadows of Blaise Zabini and Tracey Davis came out of their wands and accused Pansy and Draco of their murders. Crabbe and Goyle went next, trace amounts of blood on their beater clubs (which they had kept in their robes) inditing them. Crabbe's plaintive wail, "But Draco cleaned the blood off for us!" had convinced even Percy Weasley and forced Fudge to refuse to interfere.
Nott had quickly broken down and confessed on his own -- Millicent had refused to name him as her attacker. The three Seventh year Slytherin Death Eaters had been trapped inside the Three Broomsticks, but Nott's accusations had had them seized for questioning. Harry had demonstrated another ability he had inherited from his contact with Voldemort -- he wasn't certain how he knew he could do it, but he had demanded the chance to try. Casting the Dark Mark against the three had revealed their own Marks. When Fudge had objected Harry might be causing the Mark to appear from nothing, Harry had cast it against Hermione, Luna, and then Percy. Harry had even offered to cast it on Fudge, but he had huffily left the room.
Luckily for Snape, he had never directly met Nott on Death Eater business, nor had they been present at common meetings. The other Death Eater students refused to comment.
By Sunday afternoon, Draco Malfoy, Pansy Parkinson, Vincent Crabbe, and Gregory Goyle were under arrest and facing capital crimes. Theodore Nott, Adrian Pucey, Miles Bletchley, and St. John Montegue were under arrest and facing lessor charges. Zach Smith, Stephen Cornfoot, Michael Corner, Marietta Edgecombe, Su Li, Julia Collins, and Paula Paine had been Kissed. Blaise Zabini, Tracey Davis, Cho Chang, Doris Robin, and Maurice Hardy had been killed. The two other Fourth year Ravenclaw boys would be in the infirmary with serious head injuries for another two weeks.
Parental anger, and the ire of the general wizarding public, which might have at least partially gone against Dumbledore or the Ministry in general or even the SDA, instead was directed nearly totally against Fudge. The Daily Prophet again pointed out Fudge's attempt to protect Malfoy and his friends, while The Quibbler ran a four page article outlining Fudge's attempts to protect the Malfoys over the years, and Fudge's 'charity' associations that now appeared to be a kick-back scheme. That led The Prophet to run a series over three days, re-showing nearly every photo of Fudge with now-known Death Eaters, right down to his defense of Lucius Malfoy as a poor victim of the Imperius Curse after Voldemort's first disappearance. Even Teen Witch, in an article portraying the 'glamorous heroines' Lavender Brown and the Patil twins, took a vicious swipe at Fudge for putting them, and the rest of the wizarding world, at risk. Witch Weekly reminded its readers that it was a totally non-political periodical, and therefore would not be printing any letters on the matter, 'even though, running 67 to 1 against the Minister, it is obvious that our readers have a strong and nearly-united opinion on this matter.' The foreign press was even more scathing.
And, the point that made Daily Prophet headlines on the Monday after the attack and world headlines the next day, a reporter, asking Harry the last question allowed Sunday evening, had inquired if it were true Harry used the real name of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. Harry, annoyed about the question, had responded, "I use his name, which was Tom Riddle, and I use his self-assumed title, Voldemort. If you people don't have the guts to use either, make up a name and use that. He's a powerful, very evil wizard, but this 'He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named' nonsense makes him seem even worse than he is. Call him 'Lord Thingy' or 'Moldiemort' or 'Moldiewart' or even 'The Dark Lord of the Sith' for all I care, but call him something! What's he going to do different? Jump up and down, screaming 'kill them, kill them; destroy them, destroy them'?"
Severus Snape, called to the Dark Lord Saturday night to report on the arrest of most of the student Death Eaters, had found Him angry at the over-all failure of the attack and the capture of two of the four adult Death Eaters sent to guide the dementors. Bellatrix Lestrange was still catatonic.
Tuesday night had found Him angrier than Snape had ever seen before. None dared comment, and none dared suggest a plan. Nor did any dare to remind Voldemort that repeatedly screaming 'kill them all' did nothing to enhance His image.
When Millicent Bulstrode was released from the Infirmary Wednesday morning, she had come and thanked Harry for saving her life. With rather more courage, she then apologized to them all, especially Hermione, for her actions over the previous five plus years. Daphne Greengrass, the other surviving Slytherin Sixth year, had then led the some-what broken Millicent away. At the Slytherin table, the students no longer sat by year, but by clear sympathy: of the 72 Slytherins of the week before, two were dead, eight had been arrested. Twenty-one sat on one end of the table, clearly sympathetic to the Dark Lord, or at least His followers. Thirty-three were equally clearly opposed. Eight were stuck in the middle, including the two remaining Sixth years, who sat there because they weren't wanted by the pro-SDA students and loathed by the pro-Death Eaters.
"I think you did a great thing, saving someone like her," Lavender told Harry.
"That's right, Harry," Seamus piped up, "thanks for saving two of the school's greatest assets!"
Harry blushed, the boys laughed, and the girls plotted suitable retribution on the boys, especially Seamus.
At Hogwarts, a number of staff and others found themselves doing 'grief counseling' for the students. Mona Zoric bore the greatest burden, as she had started with the Patils after the murder of their family. Luna and Hermione watched Harry closely, but he did not seem to have any real negative reaction to the so-called 'Battle of Hogsmeade,' which worried them both.
"He's not allowing himself to feel," Luna told Hermione. "It's all being repressed. When it comes out, its form will be created from the trigger -- it could be anger, depression, or the genuine grief."
Both wished Harry could have attended Cho's funeral, which might have triggered his hidden grief, but Dumbledore refused their pleadings. Rumor had it that Zoric and Dumbledore had had a major row on the subject, and it was clear the Remus Lupin and the Headmaster had also had words on the same subject. The two girls vowed to keep a close eye on Harry.
The Gryffindor March on October 28th had been the quietest so far that term. It was a triumph marred by the deaths and Kissings of the innocent students, just as the Halloween feast had been the most subdued in recent memory. The March of November 4th was again one of anger, for Luna had had advance word from her father that morning, passing it on to the Gryffindors just as their March had started, that all the Death Eaters arrested after the attack on Hogsmeade, except for Nott, had been allowed to escape the evening before.
The next day, Zoric and Dumbledore asked Harry if he would be willing to go to the Ministry to test five suspected Death Eaters. No one else could cast the Dark Mark with even Harry's partial effectiveness.
He was shocked to be led into a room with five naked men, including Cornelius Fudge and Percy Weasley. Harry was very glad that Fudge's only major female assistant, Umbridge, had been forced to retire.
"I already tested Percy," Harry pointed out to the stony-faced hit wizards.
"They might not have the Mark on their wrists, since they would be undercover," one explained.
Harry tested Percy first, and cleared him, much to his own relief. But Fudge had the Mark on the top of his left thigh, and two of his aides had it on the inside of their left elbows.
Even Harry had been shocked. He had been certain that some of Fudge's aides must be connected to Voldemort, but had never suspected Fudge himself (it turned out that Fudge had long been a sympathizer, but had actually taken the Mark only late that summer). Dumbledore and Zoric had been equally shocked.
Dumbledore again refused to become Minister, an action now more explicable to Harry than it had been before. Asked his opinion on Fudge's successor, Dumbledore suggested Amelia Bones. Harry heartily endorsed the idea when asked.
In a short, private meeting with the Minister-elect before they left, Harry made a suggestion. Percy Weasley and ex-Minister Fudge's other ex-assistant were assigned to Arthur Weasley. They would now handle the problems of tracking down wizards who mis-enchanted objects, while leaving Arthur to deal with his beloved Muggles.
The two young men, given the choice of that or being moved to the Centaur Office, took the positions under Arthur.
Percy even had the good grace to send Harry a short note of apology. Mrs. Weasley sent him a longer note, and his favorite treacle tart.
The months of November and December passed without any further activity on the part of Voldemort and his Death Eaters, which everyone seemed to find confusing (including most of the Death Eaters, according to Snape). Reports on the movement of giants continued through to the spring. Reports were also made on the disappearance of a number of homeless Muggles, a few of whom were later found having been Kissed, or otherwise insane from over-exposure to dementors, between late November and late March. Whatever plans Voldemort had were clearly not being told to many, and still included the dementors.
The only news Snape brought was the marriage of Draco and Pansy shortly after their escape, and the less surprising information that the Death Eaters, although restless, were not going to challenge Voldemort.
For the school population as a whole, the students quickly settled down to their work, especially the Fifth and Seventh years. The teams playing the autumnal Quidditch matches were rescheduled. The first game of the season was now Hufflepuff -- Gryffindor, which Gryffindor won 210-60. Ravenclaw and Slytherin, which both had to partially rebuild their teams after the Hogsmeade attacks, was played in early December (Ravenclaw won, 270-60).
The school's second Hogsmeade weekend passed by without incident. The students, as a whole, were looking forward to their up-coming holidays.
The Patils' uncle decided to sell the family business, and would flee back to what he hoped would be the comparative safety of India after the holidays. He tried very hard to persuade the three girls to drop out of Hogwarts and go back with him, promising them fine traditional weddings and good dowries.
All three refused, and after a week of hard negotiations, Tomas Zoric emerged as their new guardian. Parvati and Padma were content with the results, as were Harry, Gin, and Georgia. Irena and Sudipta, already close friends, were thrilled to be almost sisters.
The SDA and DA continued their work. Harry continued his investigations of the castle, finding some secret rooms and passages that were not marked on the Marauders Map. None of the passages were particularly interesting, and most of the secret rooms were empty or held rubbish. The room behind the DA Officers' Room, however, held a stack of manuscripts, which Luna, Padma, and especially Hermione fell at with a vengeance.
* * *
The bomb-shell from the Ministry fell on the last Monday of term, December 16.
The headlines on The Daily Prophet screamed
NEW REGULATIONS FOR THE MUGGLE-BORN AND RAISED!
Reading through the article quickly, most students and staff decided it was no-where near the dire situation the headlines suggested. Starting the following year, all Second year Muggle-born and raised students in the UK and Ireland would have to take a one year course on wizard culture and traditions. They would have to pass the exit exam for the course with a 70% at some point before taking their O.W.L.s.
Hermione, looking through the requirements and subject material listed, decided that, if fairly implemented, the vast majority of her fellow Muggle-born and raised students would have had little trouble with the course, or test. It was a 'triumph' for the Pure-bloods only in that it reminded the Muggle-born and raised that they indeed came from a different culture. As she told her great-aunt, who had worried that Hermione might go off on another crusade, "No offense, but if Professor Binns taught his course properly, most of this would be taught to First and Second years in any event."
Since this was told to her in private, and she secretly agreed, Professor McGonagall had let the question drop. Most hoped that this would undercut some of the support the Death-Eaters had, as it showed that the Muggle-born and raised would at least understand wizarding culture, which was a point that most of the community agreed on anyway. That was, of course, the rational behind the proposal.
Hermione was too busy to pursue another crusade. Winky had come to comfort her after her parents and grandparents' murders. The two had grown to understand and like each other. Winky still thought Hermione a very odd witch, but decided her heart was in the right place. Although Hermione didn't realize it, Winky was trying to teach Hermione to understand what the proper relationship between a witch and house elf should be, so that Hermione would ask Winky to be her house elf when Hermione left Hogwarts.
Hermione was fascinated by the information on house elf culture, and by Winky's psychology. She was trying to teach Winky why she should enjoy her freedom.
This contest of wills was proving to be very entertaining to the Gryffindors, and Luna and Padma, who all watched the contest of wills with great fascination. Ron particularly enjoyed watching, as he really didn't like fighting with Hermione. Hermione's tug-of-war with Winky actually made her less inclined to fight with Ron, as long as Ron kept off certain subjects. With constant coaching from Ginny, Parvati, Padma, Lavender, Gin, Georgia, Luna, Seamus, Neville, and Harry, he was slowly learning which subjects to keep off from.
The other elves enjoyed the situation as well, as Hermione left them alone to do their work, which is what all house elves enjoyed to some extent.
In addition to his classes, Harry was still being tutored by Tomas Zoric. He was now able to successfully disillusion himself, and could usually make himself invisible to all the students except Luna and most of the staff.
He was still too busy to let his worries and grief over-whelm him. Zoric agreed with his wife, Luna, and Hermione that they needed to watch him over the holiday, in case he did more than decompress.
Mrs. Weasley of course hoped to have Harry and Hermione at the Burrow that year. The Zorics were willing to have every one to their London home, or have just the students go to their manor in Scotland or the island in the Adriatic. Discussing it between themselves, Hermione and Luna decided what was best, then okayed it with the students, and then finally presented their case to their parents or guardians.
Luna's father was busy up-grading The Quibbler to include even more opinion pages. The community needed a forum to debate issues in public, and he saw the market potential. He would therefore visit Luna on Boxing Day and New Year's Day, and leave her plans intact.
The Weasleys would be sent off to the Burrow until January 2. Bill and Fleur would be there, Charlie was coming back for the holidays, and Percy was coming back to beg full acceptance back into the family. Harry might be an unofficial son, Hermione and Neville beloved by children of the house, but it would be a family-only holiday. Neville and Hermione would visit on Boxing Day. Harry would have to stay safe at Hogwarts.
The enlarged Zoric family would stay at Hogwarts until Christmas, where their adopted son would visit if he could get the time off. The Zorics, including Sudipta Patil and the twins, would go to the Adriatic from Boxing Day until after New Year's Day.
Snape brought back word that, whatever plans the Dark Lord had, they were all long-term and secret as far has he could find out. It was as if He had decided that nothing useful could be done until he could destroy Harry, and that He couldn't do that until He could issue a formal challenge after Harry's seventeenth birthday.
As best Snape could tell, Voldemort and the Death Eater leaders were more concerned with the fact that Pansy had just discovered she was pregnant than they were with any short-term plans for conquest or mayhem.
The Order of the Phoenix and the DA leadership were therefore confronted with the problem of what to do next; should they merely prepare for Voldemort's mysterious future move, over seven moths away, or was there some way, some reason, to manoeuver the Death Eaters at least into the open before then?
The Ministry, at least, now seemed determined to track the Death Eaters down. Beyond that, it looked like there might be a period of stalemate.
Unless, of course, this was all a blind on Voldemort's part.
Faced with this, the students merely turned to the usual problems of the end of the autumnal term. There were exams to take in the last weeks of the term, there were projects to finalize, presents to acquire, travel plans to make.
The next chapter, Chapter 22 started off as a simple idea: if some of the users of the Room of Requirement wanted to influence other people there, what might happen? This ended up become a very detailed story of strip poker. Some readers found it interesting or even erotic, many others found it boring. In addition, the formatting does not translate to this site. Those who wish to read it may do so here:
For those who don't, the chapter is summarized at the beginning of the next chapter.
Also, there is an allusion to a fun old story called "Naked Quidditch."