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 gets Churchillian, a...
Friday, March 28
A few minutes after 11:00 that evening, eighteen Fifth and Sixth years gathered in Hogwarts' deepest dungeon, so deep that there was living rock for a floor.
"Chilly," Ron muttered.
"Yes, it is, and wearing almost nothing doesn't help," Daphne Greengrass agreed.
"We're going to try a ceremony," Hermione told the group. "As many of you know, Harry's scar connects him to the Dark Lord. Both practice Occlumency to prevent the other from influencing the other."
"What I'm going to try to do is replicate the early stages of the interaction," Harry told them. "At first, I could observe Him, and He was unaware of me. And, back then, this was the time of night when he did a lot of his planning. For this to work, I need the psychic support of at least a dozen friends."
"If you all agree, we will form a circle," Hermione told them. "I know it's a little uncomfortable." Under their work robes, they were all just wearing thin vests and shorts, along with their slippers. "We need to sit on these cushions, our bare feet on the bare rock, our feet touching. We interlock our arms and hands. All we need to do is think positive thoughts about the two people we're touching. That should create a positive aura, which will support Harry's contact."
"Why am I here?" Daphne asked.
"We need at least one Slytherin to be totally complete," Luna said simply.
"Oh," she said. "Does anyone really like me?"
"Of course we do, silly," Luna said with a warm smile. Daphne flushed.
"I think it would be best to go Harry, myself, Ron, Gin, Ginny, Neville, Susan, Daphne, Hannah, Lisa, Morag, Ernie, Lavender, Seamus, Parvati, Padma, Georgia, and then Luna next to Harry, unless anyone has a better arrangement?"
No one did.
The group stripped off their robes and sat in a tight circle. Harry ordered the lights to dim. The group took what almost amounted to a collective breath, and relaxed.
The group sat there, warm together despite the chill room. Each slowly sank into feelings of support and affection with the people next to them, and with many of the other people in the circle as well. It took Ron the longest to concentrate, torn as he was between his attraction and affection for both Hermione and Gin.
Slowly, each member could feel the magic growing between them. Harry let down his defenses.
He could feel himself travel towards Voldemort, but he was able to stop himself from entering the Dark Lord. Instead, as during his first years at Hogwarts, he hovered behind Him, listening.
Harry listened for as long as he could, and studied the written plans Voldemort was discussing with Bellatrix Lestrange and Lucius Malfoy, until he could feel the magic supporting him starting to waver. He didn't hesitate a second, and withdrew back into his own body to make certain Voldemort had not noticed him. He had been gone for over ten minutes.
The magic spell-circle fell apart. Their hands came unclasped, and all they leaned back on their cushions, tired from the effort and the mere time of day.
"Did you learn anything, Harry?" Ernie asked.
"Yes," Harry said, sitting up straight, despite a slightly stiff back. "I learned almost everything we need to know." He sighed. "I'll talk to the Headmaster before breakfast, so don't wait for me. No jogging for anyone tomorrow."
He looked over at Daphne. "All the suspect Slytherins went home for the holidays, didn't they?"
"Everyone but me," she answered.
"We trust you, Daphne," Hermione said firmly.
"In that case, there are thirty-nine of us here, and I'd say I'm the least reliable. Some of us aren't thrilled by most of your positions, you and the Headmaster, but we do disapprove of or are against the Dark Lord's even more."
"That being the case," Harry said, teasing her gently, "I'd say we're all reliable enough to defend ourselves, if not join in the counter-attack."
"Thank you, Harry; thank you, everyone. You can count on Millicent and me to do whatever you say," Daphne said, tears in her eyes.
"Can you at least tell us when?" Susan asked, nervously.
Harry hesitated, but then said, "Sunday morning, just before Seven."
The room was silent for nearly twenty long seconds.
Then Harry looked at Ron. "So, like I said, no jogging tomorrow morning. Tomorrow we March."
Ron straightened his back. "Yes, sir," he responded sincerely, with not a trace of irony.
Harry looked around. "We leave our common room at Seven fifteen." He zeroed in on Ernie. "What about Hufflepuff?"
"I say Hufflepuff marches at Seven fifteen." He looked at the other Hufflepuffs. "Agreed?"
Harry turned to Padma and Lisa. "And Ravenclaw?"
"We march at Seven fifteen," Lisa stated firmly.
Harry looked at Daphne. "Will you ask your fellow Slytherins?"
Daphne squared her shoulders. "I won't tell anyone about the time of the attack, except Millicent. We will ask the others." She hesitated, then said, "I'll go and ask before everyone falls too deeply asleep."
"Have everyone wear a work robe tomorrow morning." Harry turned to the others. "We all wear robes tomorrow. Now, I need to spell the owlery shut. You should all go to bed."
"Harry?" Luna asked.
"I'll be fine," he said. "We'll talk in the morning." They all nodded. "And Ron? Tell Fred and George I'll need to talk with them after I see the Headmaster, or at least after breakfast."
Harry did visit the owlery, but on the way back to Gryffindor Tower, he made a stop in a lavatory.
"Myrtle? May I have a word?"
"Harry! How are you!" Myrtle came fully out of her toilet with a slight splash.
"Did Sir Nick or the Bloody Baron talk to you?"
"Yes, and I'd like to help, but I don't see what I can do," the teen ghost said sadly. "They aren't likely to attack through the pipes."
"But they might attack through the Chamber. The entrance can't be detected, and we don't know if the tunnel is still blocked or not."
"It was still blocked a little more than a week ago. I go there fairly often; it's so nice and gloomy. I'll watch it, for you."
"Thank you, Myrtle," Harry said sincerely.
"Was that nasty Tom Riddle really the one who had me killed?"
"He was," Harry answered.
"And now he's this nasty wizard?"
"He is," Harry agreed.
"And he's going to lead an attack, and you have to defeat him?"
"That's the prophecy," Harry admitted.
"If you fail, you can still share my lavatory," Myrtle told him, "but I hope you win."
"Thank you, Myrtle." Harry leaned forward, and kissed her frozen cheek. Myrtle giggled, and disappeared into the sink that hid the Chamber of Secrets.
"It seems strange doing this without Harry," Hermione said.
"I know; but he was already gone when we woke up," Ron replied.
"Is everyone ready?" Hermione called, knowing they should be. Ginny and Lavender had been getting them excited for almost ten minutes.
"Who are we?" Hermione called.
"WHAT ARE WE?" Ron demanded.
"THE BRAVEST OF THE BRAVE!"
"REMEMBER CEDRIC DIGGORY!" Hermione and Ron called out.
"AND ALL THE INNOCENTS, SLAUGHTERED!"
"Let's go!" Ron ordered.
Within seconds, the thunder was crashing through the castle. Ron noticed the suit of armor near the Gryffindor common room was missing, but was too preoccupied to say anything.
The Ravenclaws and Gryffindors descended from their towers, and the Hufflepuffs and Slytherins ascended from den and dungeon. All four met at the entrance hall. All the suits of armor in the castle now lined the huge entrance hall, pounding in time to the resolute marchers.
Harry was standing in the doorway, wearing a bright golden robe. A gesture brought the Ravenclaws and Hufflepuffs through the door together. Harry soberly shook hands with each of the marchers on the inside columns. As each student went through the door frame, their robes turned silver.
The Gryffindors and Slytherins then marched in together as well, after Hermione and Millicent Bulstrode shook hands. Harry also shook their hands.
All the staff were assembled, all in silver robes as well (although with golden sleeve bands), except for Dumbledore, who was in gold and scarlet, matching the colors of Fawkes, who was on his shoulder. The visiting aurors and hit-wizards were in green, the members of the Order of the Phoenix in orange. Tonks was there, and her hair matched her robe. Most of the ghosts were circling the hall.
"REMEMBER CEDRIC DIGGORY!" the Hufflepuffs roared.
"AND ALL THE INNOCENTS, SLAUGHTERED!" the entire student population screamed in response.
The staff and visitors all sat, except for Dumbledore. The students then all sat.
"Tomorrow morning, we believe Tom Riddle, who calls himself Lord Voldemort, will attack Hogwarts. Yes, tomorrow morning." The slight noises in the hall went totally silent.
"We can not be absolutely certain. However, I believe you will understand why we can not allow word of our foreknowledge out. The owlery and the fire-talking network are closed. Students are confined to the castle today. At Ten o'clock tonight, all students are to be in their common areas. All First through Fourth years, unless specifically tasked by Commander Potter, will be confined to those areas or nearby corridors until the attack is over, or until we see the chances of an attack have passed us by. Food will be delivered to the common areas by the house elves."
The younger students stirred in protest. "Should any battle go well, yes, you will be left out. Should any battle go badly, you will need to defend yourselves and that will be best done in your common areas." That quieted the noise.
"Fifth, Six, and Seventh years have three choices. They may stay inside the common areas to help defend the Houses; they may join their heads of House and selected Fourth years in defending the approaches to the common areas; or they may join us either defending the castle or on the field of battle. We would like at least one student capable of producing the Patronus aiding the heads of House. Fortunately, house elves are capable of defending against dementors, and three will be assigned to each House."
"Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh years may stay after breakfast to confer with their House captains and the other DA officers." Dumbledore gestured at the visitors. "As you can see, we have additional defenders, from both the Ministry and from the general magical community. We shall have more by the time we seal the grounds tonight. Now, I give you our student commander."
Dumbledore sat, and Harry stood up. "Perhaps nothing will happen tomorrow. Perhaps the only real battle of this war will happen tomorrow. Perhaps only the first battle of a long war will happen tomorrow. Whatever happens tomorrow, I will go on as long as there is need. I cannot ask that any of you come with me; I can only say you are all welcome to follow to wherever tomorrow leads. Whenever we win the final victory, then we will have to rebuild a better society, one where our disagreements are argued out, not fought out."
"If the battle continues after tomorrow, then we can only pursue one policy. To fight; to fight until victory is won! Tomorrow we fight on the field of Hogwarts. If we are not totally victorious, we shall not flag or fail! We shall go on to the end! We shall fight in Hogsmeade; we will fight in the air! We shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength and we shall defend our culture, whatever the cost might be. We shall fight from Hogwarts, Hogsmeade, and Diagon Alley; we shall fight in the fields and streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender! We shall never, never, never give in!"
The students, led by Ginny and Luna, stood and applauded. Harry leapt up on the staff dias.
"Hermione reminded me the other day of a Muggle play, Henry V, by William Shakespeare. Who else knows the King's speech? If anyone does, feel free to join me!" Zoric, McGonagall, Lupin, Flitwick, and, to everyone's surprise, Snape moved to back Harry. Moody and two aurors Harry didn't know came over, as did Bill Weasley and a few other members of the Order of the Phoenix. Hermione, Justin, and five other Muggle-born stood in front of the dias. Even the Bloody Baron joined them.
After a brief conference, Harry started, and slowly, each member joined in as their memory caught up:
"We would not die in that man's company
That fears his fellowship to die with us.
This day is call'd the feast of Saint Crispian.
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when this day is named,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall see this day, and live old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbors
And say, 'To-morrow is Saint Crispian.'
Then he shall strip his sleeve and show his scars
And say, 'These wounds I had on Crispian's Day.'
Old men forget, yet all shall be forgot,
But he'll remember with advantages
What feat he did that day. Then shall our names,
Familiar in his mouth as household words,"
Harry went on alone. "Harry, the Weasleys, Hermione, and Snape,
Zoric and Lupin, students and staff!"
The group went on. "Be in their flowing cups freshly remember'd.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remember'd,
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;" ("And sisters," Hermione murmured.)
"For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England now a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs'd they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's Day."
The students applauded again. Millicent Bulstrode stood up as the applause quieted. "As of today," she declared, "there are no Pure-Bloods; there are no Full-bloods, Mudbloods, Half-bloods, or Mixed-bloods. There are those born to the culture with the gift; there are those born with the gift who have to learn the culture! It must be the duty and honor of those of us born to it to HELP those who embrace it!" She looked around the room. "You all know who I am; you all know what I've done and how I've thought in the past! All of you, all of us, who are Pure-bloods or wish to claim that heritage! Some time today, shake the hand of at least one Muggle-born or Mixed-blood and thank them for joining our culture! I don't know where any other Pure-Blood will be tomorrow morning, but I will be standing wherever Harry Potter puts me! No matter if it's guarding the fire place in the First years' dorm or standing point in the front line!" She gestured around the room. "Pure-Bloods! Full-bloods! Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh years! Hogwarts students, wizards and witches all! Who else follows Harry Potter?"
Every person in the great hall stood, cheering. Every student cheered. Aurors and hit-wizards cheered. Those who disliked and feared Muggle culture and influence sincerely cheered. The pacifists cheered. Even Severus Snape, although his were by far the quietest, cheered.
As the cheers lessened, Hagrid could be heard to misquote, "For King Harry and the Wizarding world! Cry havoc! and let loose the dogs of war!" The cheers went on again.
The rest of breakfast was noisy. By a little after 9:00, however, Harry, Hermione, the House captains, Zoric, Dumbledore, and Moody were able to hear the students volunteer for the duties the following morning. Harry would inform them that night of their assignments.
Fred and George met with Harry after the crowd had cleared out. He took them into the small room off the great hall, where the school champions had met over two years before.
"What do you need, Harry?" Fred asked.
"Did you ever come up with the antidote for that Sleepy Time Mist you told me about?"
"Sure, but why would we need that? We never came up with a good delivery system," George answered.
Harry whistled, and Peeves popped into the room. "Commander called?" the poltergeist asked.
"Have you thought about our offer?" Harry asked.
Peeves nodded. "Peeves agrees to all conditions; no tricks. Any tricks, and Headmaster Dumbledore or the Young Master here will banish Peeves from Hogwarts." Peeves shuddered. "No where else would I have the magic to feed on to have so much fun!"
"Alright," Harry answered. "The Headmaster and I agree. Do you still have a supply of balloons for some water balloons without water?"
"Yes! What shall be in them? Ink? Sour milk? Cat's pee?"
"Our Sleepy Time Mist!" George proclaimed.
"Oooo! Master Weasley Wheeze! Peeves may knock out evil attackers where?"
"The area around the greenhouses are yours. And Peeves?"
"Once the great enemy of the Headmaster is knocked out, if there are no others awake near you, do what you want with the Death Eaters and other followers anywhere, until they're officially captured."
"Oooo! Peeves likes Harry Potter!"
Harry turned to the twins. "Snape says the Mist should even work on any giants."
"Giants!" Peeves exclaimed. "Peeves has never pranked a giant! thank you, Harry Potter!"
"I'll get Professor Snape to let you into the auror potion lab," Harry said. "Peeves can collect the Mist when?"
"Three o'clock," George answered.
Most of the work that day fell to the heads of House, Moody, and Zoric. Dumbledore spent most of the day in Hogsmeade, setting up a 'drill' for the next morning. Twelve more people came through from the Ministry; four aurors, four hit-wizards, an unspeakable, the Minister herself, Amos Diggory, and Percy Weasley. Six more members of the Order came, as did six additional members of Zoric's agency. A slightly larger number of Ministry and Order people came to visit relatives in Hogsmeade, or to stay the weekend in various small cottages. The two pubs' guest rooms were full.
Everything was ready, should Voldemort actually show up.
It was Hermione who went to Dumbledore late that afternoon. Normally, she would have blushed to broach such a subject, but she decided that the Bravest Maid had no reason to blush.
Dumbledore listened, considered, and agreed.
Hermione went to the Ravenclaw common room (all the entrances to the common rooms would be open until 9 to allow for friends to visit). Hermione dragged Luna out and to near the entrance of Gryffindor. She dragged Harry out a few minutes later.
"I talked with Dumbledore. Go to your private area. Dobby will wake the two of you up at Five fifteen."
"But. . . ." Harry protested.
"Just go, Harry," Hermione said.
Harry started to turn, then reached out and drew Hermione into a hug. "Be careful tomorrow, Hermione." He handed her the final assignment lists.
Hermione reached up and pulled Harry's mouth to hers, and they kissed. "You be careful, too," she told Harry. Hermione and Luna exchanged a more chaste kiss. "I love both of you," Hermione said, and then she fled into the common room.
"There's going to be a lot of that tonight," Luna said thoughtfully.
"Yes, but that's not what I meant," Luna answered. "People are going to be hurt tomorrow. People are likely to be killed tomorrow. We have to get through tonight, and one way to do that is by telling people how we feel."
Harry thought about that. "Let's pop back in for a few minutes, okay?"
Luna smiled. "It sounds like a plan."
Harry went through and thanked every Gryffindor, and wished them good luck on the morning. Some thanks were more emotional than others, especially with Ron and Ginny. Harry and Luna went to Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, and even Slytherin, and did the same.
Harry then went to the situation room, where a number of people were finalizing the plans. Harry thanked Zoric and shook his hand. He embraced Remus Lupin. Then he took Luna's hand, and they went to bed.
After Hermione watched Harry and Luna walk away from Gryffindor, she posted the assignment sheets. The first sheet read:
Students Assigned to the Three Attack Squads:
Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, Hermione Granger, Neville Longbottom, Luna Lovegood, Ginny Weasley, Katie Bell, Abdul Hasan, Jacqui Spenser
Ernie Macmillan, Susan Bones, Hannah Abbott, Padma Patil, Parvati Patil, Lavender Brown, Seamus Finnigan, Georgia Anderson, Gin Driver
Lisa Turpin, Anthony Goldstein, Terry Boot, Kevin Entwhistle, Mandy Brocklehurst, Morag McDougal, Mitchell Connerly, Merry Bishop, Mark Pebbles