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, Draco makes a run for prot...
From Valentine's Day through the start of the short Easter Break, Hogwarts continued in its routine. Ron and Gin quickly earned the title of 'most overly affectionate couple.' So long as male/female couples did not take 'the last step' (and of course as long as no coercion was involved), no one was likely to interfere with any relationship at Hogwarts.
Hermione refused to talk to Ron, except on 'official' business, during that time.
Ginny and Neville were also one of Hogwarts' more openly affectionate couples, although not when Ron was nearby. Ron had little trouble criticizing Ginny for conduct he commended Gin for.
Other than that tension, as far as Harry could see life was going on much as it should around him. The terrible possibilities stayed far in the background, and, unknown to Harry, Dumbledore made certain they stayed there by making that certain few rumors reached the students. Harry's relationship with Luna was slowly continuing to deepen. His lessons with Zoric and Lupin helped him feel stronger and more confident. His school lessons, even Potions, now seemed to bolster his abilities, not plague him with doubts. His jogging and work-outs made him stronger; his flying helped relax him.
There was one new addition to Harry's time: he also spent three half-hour sessions each of those weeks with Dumbledore, as the old man showed Harry some of the short-cuts he had learned over the many decades of his long life. This had worried Harry at first, but Dumbledore assured him that, barring the unforeseen, he planned on being around for a few more decades.
Harry was still uncertain of his opinion of and relationship with the aging Headmaster. Part of him admired and even loved the old man; and at times it was still obvious that Dumbledore still was trying to control Harry.
Still, so far as Harry was directly concerned, he hoped the hardest things on his immediate horizon were the final Quidditch games of the season in late April (Gryffindor had beaten Slytherin in late February, Hufflepuff had beaten Ravenclaw in mid-March) and the school exams in June. As it was, he was spending more time helping Luna, Ginny, Gin, and Georgia studying for their O.W.L.s than he was worrying about his own exams.
Snape had not been summonsed since the Sunday after Valentine's Day. The core group of Death Eaters were now being more secretive than ever. The fact that homeless, pregnant Muggles were disappearing from all over the country seemed to be a bad sign.
Saturday March 22 through Sunday March 30, 1997
As usual, most students were staying at school over the short holiday. Professors Dumbledore, Flitwick, and Zoric had finally been able to create an imitation dementor. SDA members formed groups and took turns facing it on Sunday afternoon and Monday.
The Fifth and Seventh years each engaged in four days of extensive study (Sunday through Wednesday, each Saturday they were to be allowed to go into Hogsmeade, with security provided by the SDA and staff), and were planning on using the rest of their break by taking one final rest before the final plunge before the big exams.
The auror potion class spent the Tuesday making a long, complicated potion in pairs. On the Wednesday morning, an impressed Snape agreed that the group, which had done the most complicated potions assigned, had all already earned their marks for the year. The two lowest that Snape posted that Thursday (Harry and Neville) still scored 91s.
Ron and Ginny were now not speaking to each other. Professor Sinistra had surprised five couples in the Astronomy classroom the first Friday of break. The classroom had six rows of seats in a semi-circle. The seats were on wide risers and the floor was somewhat padded. Long established custom, followed even by prefects like Hermione and Percy Weasley in his day, demanded that prefects ignore the classroom. Five couples could use it. The first couple would go to the far end of the back row, leaving a white handkerchief to mark their presence.
Sinistra had cleared out couples from using the observation platform atop the Astronomy Tower, and a number of nooks and crannies inside it, by the previous October. She had agreed to leave the classroom alone, in large part because of her own fond memories. The previous Monday morning, however, she had found a used condom in the classroom, hinting at the one activity which was over the unofficial line tolerated by even the most liberal members of the faculty.
One of the couples had been found that late Friday evening with seriously rumpled clothes. They had been docked 5 points per person. Ginny, who had been topless, and Neville, who had been literally caught with his pants down, were docked 10 points each and assigned separate detentions, along with two same-gendered couples who had been slightly further along. Ron and Gin, who had been caught in the act of sodomy, were docked 25 points each plus detentions. It would have gone harder on them, except that they admitted to using the condom for the same act the previous week.
The five couples were also ordered to spend the vacation week apart from each other. Ron made very certain he stayed well-away from Professor Zoric, who had been heard screaming for revenge on 'that red-haired despoiling pervert'. Both Ron and Gin were teased unmercifully, and would endure nasty jokes for some weeks, especially Ron.
Hermione told Ron she wouldn't speak to him until after the holiday was over.
The following Friday, Harry, Ginny, Luna, and Gin were supervising a group of First years flying. Had he been allowed to be near Gin, Ron would have joined them, but he was mostly hiding in his bed with the drapes shut, as he had for most of the holiday.
Harry had been having a good time, when he felt a disturbance in the magic of Hogwarts. Luna noticed immediately, and Gin and Ginny noticed a few seconds later.
"What's happened?" Luna asked.
"Someone portkeyed in near the Slytherin end of the castle grounds," Harry said. He turned to Gin, who accepted this as part of Harry's abilities as security prefect. "You stay here and get the Firsties down and off to lunch early after they get the brooms put away, okay?"
Gin nodded, and Harry told the flyers to come down and start putting their brooms away. He, Ginny, and Luna then moved off, carrying their brooms. Once out of the pitch, Harry turned to Ginny. "Fly up to the castle; alert any faculty along the way to Master Tomas' office if there are no students near by, but tell Master Tomas! Malfoy, Pansy, and Goyle are here. Go!"
Ginny flew off. Harry and Luna flew off to intercept the Slytherin trio, wands out.
"I never expected this," Goyle said for the third time.
Draco rolled his eyes and handed Goyle the old sock. "You can go back if you want. You should know how to reverse a used portkey, unless they keyed this for one use only."
"No, thanks! Prison is better than that place." The large young man shuddered. "You do NOT want to imagine what they had me doing."
"I have some idea, and you're right; we don't want to hear it!" Draco said, moving them to the castle wall.
"What are we waiting for?" Pansy demanded.
"We're wanted killers, Pansy. I doubt they would want us walking in and scaring the Firsties," Draco replied. 'Idiots! Why am I always surrounded by idiots?'
"Well, how long do we stand here?" she demanded.
"I'm sure the old man already knows we're here," Draco replied.
"I'm sure he does, too, but we were closer," Harry said from above them.
Looking up, Draco saw Potter and Lovegood, wands pointed at them.
"Going to stun us or kill us, Potty?"
"Since I can legally do either, perhaps you shouldn't tempt me," Harry retorted. "Goyle, put your hands down. Just don't make any sudden moves towards a pocket."
"Whatever you say," Goyle replied.
"We're here for sanctuary," Draco told Harry. "Not that you need to know even that."
"I know the whole story," Harry retorted. "I admit, I didn't know if you would have the guts or sense of responsibility, let alone the brains, to save her. Or perhaps I should say, save your son?"
Draco flushed. Potter indeed knew what was going on.
"I did expect, if you saved her, you'd manage to save yourself as well."
"Go to hell!" Draco snarled.
"Tut, tut," Harry teased. "Language. I wonder if you were officially expelled, or if I can dock points from Slytherin?"
"They were all officially expelled, Mister Potter," Snape drawled. "Come down here, you two."
Snape was standing there with Zoric and Flitwick. Harry could see Madam Pomfrey coming across the lawn.
"I expected you two some time ago," Snape told Draco. He turned to Goyle. "I was not expecting you."
"He moved our location three weeks ago," Draco answered. "It took a while to gauge where the wards would allow us to portkey. And, since we had to take walks with some third or even fourth person, it was easiest to go this way, but it took a while to arrange."
"Did you have to dispense with a fourth?" Zoric asked.
Draco nodded. "Crabbe went all the way over."
"He really enjoyed. . . ." Goyle started, but then, to everyone's shock, he broke down crying, collapsing on the ground.
"I don't know all of what he's seen, or been forced to do," Draco said simply, "but what I do know is pretty horrible."
Leaving Madam Pomfrey and Professor Flitwick to deal with Goyle, Harry, Luna, Zoric, and Snape escorted Draco and Pansy into the castle, via a rarely-opened back way.
"Well," Draco said to Pansy fifty minutes later, "at least it's a bit better than our last accommodations."
"But it's a prison," Pansy wailed.
"Look, here are your choices," Draco said brutally. "We can stay here and hope Potty and the old man defeat the Dark Lord, or we can go back. He'll roast you, and our son, alive! Choose!"
"I'm sorry, Draco."
"You are," Draco snarled, but then he admitted, "and so am I."
"Are you sure he's not here to undermine our defenses?" Harry asked.
"Do you, of all people, really find it so remarkable that anyone would risk saving their spouse and son?" Snape demanded. "Even a person you despise?"
"You tell me, sir, since I never knew him, would my grandfather have sacrificed my mother's and my life to please some megalomaniac?" Harry retorted. "But to answer your question honestly, no, even I don't find it totally implausible that Malfoy would save Pansy and their child, as long as he could also save himself. I'm just asking how sure you are that's what his motive is. Because I also think he has it in him to be acting under Voldemort's orders."
Snape ignored Harry's first question. "I do not believe the Dark Lord would risk His chance at having that dark ceremony. It would have to have been a total bluff from the beginning, and I don't see there being any chance at that. A good enough reason?"
"Yes, sir," Harry answered sincerely, satisfied.
"What ceremony?" Flitwick demanded.
The faculty of Hogwarts was assembled in the faculty room, along with the House ghosts, Harry, and Hermione. It was the first that many of the faculty had heard of the evil ritual Voldemort had planned for the pregnant Pansy. Zoric and Snape took turns explaining it.
"I have never heard of such a vile thing!" the Bloody Baron declared when they were finished. "I am ashamed, of my House and the evil of our very culture!"
"I know few of you follow the Muggle news reports," Dumbledore went on, continuing the tale, "but a number of pregnant, homeless Muggles have gone missing since late January. Young Goyle confirmed that Voldemort had ordered them seized. Macnair and the two Crabbes, along with Goyle's father, raped them and then butchered them for practice. And yes, they were then cannibalized."
Several faculty members looked ill. "An' folk do say giants are evil," Hagrid complained. "I ain't never heard of such doings!"
"The important thing is, Mister Malfoy has separated his family from the immediate danger," Snape insisted.
"We have to publicize this," Hermione suddenly stated.
"No!" Dumbledore and Snape exclaimed together.
"Yes," Harry said back, determined.
"Why do you think this must be publicized?" McGonagall asked her grand-niece. Dumbledore's eyes went wide. It was rare for McGonagall dispute with him, even indirectly, on matters such as these. In fact, he realized with shame, the last major occurrence that came immediately to mind was her insisting Harry not be left with the Dursleys.
"Because Parkinson. . . ."
"Mrs. Malfoy," Snape broke in.
"Fine," Hermione nearly snapped, "because Pansy Malfoy is not the only virgin available, is she? What's to stop Voldemort from getting some other young couple?"
"You are partly right," Dumbledore agreed. "However, it would be much more in character for Voldemort to obsess over his loss and attempt to recover the Malfoys than to immediately think of replacing them, assuming he can even find another willing couple."
"But can we take that risk? Isn't it better that the world know what He's planned, and what He has had done to those Muggle women?" Hermione demanded. "And what if they've acquired a taste for the torture and cannibalism?"
"Revealing this means revealing the Malfoys' location," Snape stated.
"It means revealing it to the Ministry," Harry said. "We hoped their escape would happen; did you think we could keep it a secret from the Ministry?"
"No," Dumbledore admitted. "We have the pair in a secure area, and they will stay there unless I release them. There is an adjoining area Mister Goyle can stay once he recovers. Ministry teams will question them, but I believe we can prevent the general public from learning they are here."
"Because you want the Dark Lord to know they're here, don't you?" Sinistra asked.
"You want to bring about the final battle," Vector speculated, "and for some reason you want it on Hogwarts grounds."
"True, on both counts," Dumbledore answered. "This is our home ground, and it is highly defensible. We can hide a number of aurors here if we have any advanced warnings. The SDA will provide protection for themselves and the younger students, and some of the DA will no doubt join in the fray. The staff, I hope, would engage in those roles as well."
The teachers looked around at each other, and, one at a time, led by Snape and McGonagall, they pledged themselves to defend the castle and students should the Dark Lord attack. Even Trelawney had no second thoughts.
"What about my people?" Firenze asked.
"While they still dislike us, and wish you ill, they hate Voldemort and his ilk far more," Dumbledore assured the centaur. "The centaurs, the spiders, the merpeople, and the other sentients will be made aware of the growing dangers. While they will not likely aid us directly, I believe they will all do their utmost to prevent any dark followers passage."
"The most likely lines of attack would be from the Forbidden Forest, where our wards end, but not too deep, or straight from the road to Hogsmeade," Zoric said.
"Agreed," Dumbledore said. "We shall discuss this with the Ministry and the Hogsmeade Council tonight."
"Could the elves help defend the castle itself?" Hermione asked. "Their defensive magic can be very powerful."
"That is not part of their magical subservience," Snape reminded her. "They can not be required to defend their masters; to do so is the one way to free them, other than granting them clothes. In fact, it's the only way house elves may earn their freedom."
"No, we can't demand that they defend us," Hermione retorted. "However, we can ask if they would like to help defend themselves, not to mention the castle itself, and the students within."
"We can, and you two may ask them, with my authority," Dumbledore said. "There are a few free elves employed. They have the right to leave, even if asked to stay."
"I don't think Winky or Dobby would leave, if Hermione and I ask them," Harry said.
"The ghosts shall be on constant patrol," Sir Nicholas stated.
"Aye," the Bloody Baron agreed. "All of us! Is that not correct, Binns!" Binns was nodding, but also starting to nod off. The Baron's rapier poked his backside. "Binns! It's time you pulled your weight!"
"Right!" Binns yelled. "Patrols!"
"We may not be able to fight, but we will serve as your eyes," the Fat Friar agreed.
For once, the Grey Lady spoke aloud. "We will protect our young ones."
"But what do we do about. . . ." Trelawney started, but then she stopped, and rolled her eyes back.
"/The time of the final battle nears,/
The Boy-Who-Lived must have no fear;
/The Darkness cannot withstand his Light,/
As long as his loved ones are within Sight.
The girl of flame has loved him longest,
/As his young sister, he returns the love;/
Supported by the love of her life,
/Her strength caresses his soul like a dove./
The girl of wisdom cares more than she shows,
/Yet acknowledges her love for him as a twin;/
The bravest maid in the House of the Brave,
/If she shows her loves she cares, they may win./
The Boy-Who-Follows must have the greatest care,
/His feet have strayed from his sure, straight path;/
Should this natural warrior acknowledge his love,
/He shall smite many enemies with his great wrath./
The Boy-Who-Was-Injured has yet to be healed,
/Yet his compassion will support the flame,/
And together they may yet burn the evil star
/To whom his injuries deserve the greatest blame./
The girl who sees all shall know her own path,
/Her love shall never fail, its power shall grow;/
Her Sight should no more be doubted than her love.
/Victory shall only be gained when to her it does show./
These five, and the others who care,
/Must support the Boy-Who-Commands;/
With his love, and his power, he bears
/The ability to cleanse this entire land./
Should their love for each other fail
/The Boy-Who-Lived shall die,/
And the One-Who-Once-Died
/Shall, to the horror of time, prevail./"
"Oh, bother," McGonagall said, as Trelawney slipped to the floor in a faint.
"I believe they usually do that," Firenze observed. "And the weaker the seer, the more difficulty they have in channeling the experience."