Playing Wizards chess takes skill, concentration, determination, and sacrifice...plus a bit of cunning and a dash of bravado. That's all well and good, but make it real, with living witches, wizar...
And so it begins....
The Slytherin common room was relatively empty Sunday evening when Narcissa walked in the door. Scanning the area, she saw her son lounging in one of the black leather armchairs. He was chatting with two of the younger members of the house about Quidditch, she surmised, as he was using two miniature broomsticks to demonstrate a tricky mid-air maneuver.
"Getting ready for the Tournament?"
"Oh, hello Mother! Yes, just giving our future Quidditch team chasers a few pointers," replied Draco, as he rose and gave her a kiss on the cheek. "This is Steven and this is Jillian, third years that are keen to try out next fall."
"Good evening and good luck with your try-outs."
Cissa bestowed a dazzling smile on the two students, who took their mini-brooms and went off, chattering excitedly about their chances.
"So, to what do we owe the pleasure of your company?" Draco asked, eyebrow raised questioningly.
They were both aware that the few remaining students in the common room could hear every word they said.
"I put Lyn down for the night and thought I'd take the opportunity to have a look around the old place."
"Has it changed much?"
"No, except for those new drinks glasses you bought," said Cissa as she pointed to the cabinet by the fireplace. "Very nice."
"Do you want a drink, Mother?"
"Not right now, thank you; maybe when you all are celebrating your victory over Gryffindor, this coming Saturday."
"Excellent idea and I'm holding you to that; you WILL come down to the party!" Draco wiggled his eyebrows at her.
"Foolish boy, of course I'll be here." She smiled at him, and then frowned thoughtfully. "Do you think anyone would mind if I took a look at my old dorm room?"
"I shouldn't think so." Leaning close, he whispered, "Daphne's ready." Then he pointed. "Down that hallway."
Cissa winked. "Don't be daft, Draco, I'm not so ancient that I can't remember the way!" Laughing, she headed to the girls' dorm rooms.
"I think our team has a very good chance of getting the Quidditch Cup back," Silvia said, as she sat on her bed, playing with her cat, who was jumping after a ball of yarn Silvia was flipping around with her wand. "The game this Saturday will be the best of the year."
Millie and Tracie exchanged smirks but then they looked up suddenly, surprised to see Draco's mother standing in the doorway.
"Good evening. Just thought I'd pop in and take a look at my old room. You don't mind the intrusion, do you?"
"No." "Of course not." "Come in Madam Malfoy."
"Black; I'm using my maiden name, now, dear." Cissa smiled at Millie. Looking around, she pointed to Pansy Parkinson's bed. "That's where I slept."
"That's Pansy's bed...was her bed...' Tracie trailed off.
"Ah...well, next year some new student will claim it as her own; life goes on." Cissa mused, and then turning, she looked at Silvia. "Did I hear you discussing the big game this coming Saturday?
"Yes, we're up against Gryffindor, /again/, for the Cup."
"But you think we can win?"
"Yes, we've improved an /awful /lot and Draco can match Harry Potter any day."
"Splendid! Would you mind if I joined you girls to cheer for our team? It'll be like old times, especially with Anna Twigg-Jones sitting in the Gryffindor stands."
"Were you two friends when you were students?"
"Well, not friends, actually, but we shared a cauldron with Severus Snape in Potions class. She and Severus were good friends, believe it or not. They just got on well...until sixth year, when both of their mothers died suddenly. It was never the same after that and when we graduated, Severus became a Death Eater and Anna went to Auror training. Strange how life works out, isn't it?"
"Yes, very," agreed Millie, nodding. "For instance, there's not going to be a Quidditch Cup game this Saturday."
"/What/? Why on earth wouldn't there be?" gasped Silvia.
Pulling her wand, Millie pointed it at Silvia, grinning, as Tracie pointed hers at Cissa.
"For the simple reason," Millie explained, "this school will be gone, so no need for stupid old Quidditch. And now, we have Draco's Mother, as a surprise for the Dark Lord when he arrives tonight." The smile faded from her face. "Drop your wand, Silvia."
"No?" Millie couldn't believe her ears. "I said drop it!"
"/No/, you fat cow! You don't scare me, Millie. You couldn't hit the broad side of the Great Hall, /from the inside/!"
"You blood traitor bitch...'Expelliarmus'!"
But Silvia's brief D.A. training paid off as she tossed her cat toward Tracie and rolled off of the bed in one smooth movement. Millie's spell missed Silvia but blew her headboard to bits.
" 'Stupify'/ /!"
Cissa had pulled her wand during Millie and Silvia's angry exchange and stopped Tracie in her tracks, even as the girl tried to ward off Silvia's snarling, spitting cat, who had landed on the girl's chest and dug in hers claws. Tracie keeled over onto the trunk at the foot of her bed. The cat jumped off and scooted under the bed.
Millie opened her mouth to shout another spell but only a grunt sounded as she was hit from behind with a 'Petrificus Totalus' and fell face first onto Silvia's bed. Daphne stood in the doorway, wand out.
"Always check your 6."
"What does /that /mean, Gwen?" Cissa asked as she took the two girls' wands from their motionless fingers.
Gwen entered the room, Invisibility Cloak over her arm, carrying her medical bag. "Anna always tries to impress on her students the importance of knowing what or who is behind you. Millie didn't get the memo on that, obviously," she replied. "Now what?"
"I think it's time for these two young ladies to go to bed and have a restful night's beauty sleep, don't you?" Cissa smiled, batting her eyelashes innocently.
"Oh, definitely,' agreed Silvia.
"They need more that one night, how about a month?" giggled Daphne.
"Won't help," responded Gwen, looking a Millie and shaking her head.
"Which rhymes with cow!" "
"That's cold...true, but cold," snickered Cissa, as they all gave way to a short fit of laughter.
Gwen had turned Millie over and Cissa settled Tracie on the other bed. Silvia retrieved her cat and calmed the animal, apologizing for throwing it so abruptly, and with no warning. The cat put its tail in the air and stalked off to a corner, where it proceeded to lick its fur, back turned to the group.
Cissa looked at the two unmoving girls, and then nodded. "Right...well, I'll have to do this one at a time; Tracie first, I think. 'Re-enervate'."
Tracie shook her head and sat up, looking around, startled to see Millie on her bed and Draco's Mother pointing her wand toward her.
" 'Imperious'!" Cissa intoned, a determined look on her face.
Tracie's face went blank, with a slight frown, her eyes dull.
"Tracie, dear, you look tired. I think you should change into you night clothes and go to bed early. That's a good girl."
"That's one of those Unforgivable curses, isn't it, Cissa?" asked Gwen, even as she watched Tracie stand up and walk over to her chest of drawers.
"/Technically/, yes, IF I was using it to control Tracie with the intent of doing harm to her or having her do something harmful and dangerous to someone else. /However/, I just 'suggested' she go to bed, a perfectly normal occurrence, don't' you agree? It's for her own good and safety, really, so no harm done."
"Well, old Lucius was good for two things," said Gwen, shaking her head.
"Really? What would they be, pray tell?" Cissa asked, frowning.
"One would be teaching you how to bend the rules just enough to get away with things like this."
"And the other thing he was good for, if I might inquire, /was/...?" Cissa looked at Gwen, head tilted.
"Lyn...and Draco; your children."
"Ah, you are correct, my dear."
Daphne picked up Tracie's favorite old sweater off of the floor where Tracie had dropped it as she disrobed and put on her pajamas.
"I'll return this, first thing in the morning," she announced. "I'll get a set of Millie clothes and shoes ready for you, Cissa."
"Thank you, dear," replied Cissa, as she watched Tracie pull back her bed covers and climb in, settling down to lie there, staring at the ceiling.
"Close your eyes, dear. Sweet dreams. Gwen, if you would?"
Gwen put down her bag on Pansy's bed, opened it, took out a few things and approached the bed where Tracie lay. She tore open a packet and swabbed Tracie's arm, then uncapped a needle and injected the contents in the unmoving girl. Tracie visibly relaxed. Gwen lifted an eyelid and checked, nodding with satisfaction.
"She'll be out until lunchtime, tomorrow. Next!"
"What was that?" Silvia asked, eyes wide.
"A Muggle sleeping potion, administered via syringe into the muscle, from where it will slowly spread through her system, keeping her in Lalaland until noon," Gwen explained.
"Oh. Did that hurt?" Silvia pointed to the needle.
"No more that a bee sting, usually even less than that, depending on where you get your injection. You hardly ever feel it in your bum."
"BUM!" No, I don't want to know any more, thank you very much!" Silvia clapped her hands over her ears, as Gwen and Cissa laughed.
"She's right, you know," agreed Daphne. "That's just /wrong/!"
"Oh, and drinking vile potions is a 'good' way of administered a sleeping draught?" Cissa asked
"Ok, point taken," conceded Daphne. "What about Millie?"
" 'Finite Incantatum'," Cissa said softly, pointing her wand at Millie, who jumped up, looking around wildly, having heard everything that had happened while she lay there immobile.
"/What are you doing/?!?! We...we..."
"Have to let Vincent and Gregory into the Slytherin dungeon. Yes, we know, dear. And you /will/, in a manner of speaking, but tomorrow, when you wake up, you will be able to say, with all honesty, that you slept through the whole night...without waking...didn't hear a thing." Cissa smiled at her, even as she continued pointing her wand, unwavering, at Millie.
"What will Voldemort say?" Cissa considered for a second. "Not a bloody thing; he'll...be.../dead./ And you/, silly girl, will escape a sentence in Azkaban, /only /because you truly will have had /no part in tonight's little adventure."
"How do you know..."
"Oh, that would be my doing," volunteered Gwen, putting an arm around Millie's shoulder. "See, I'm a habitual eavesdropper; bad habit, but what can you expect from a Muggle, eh?"
Millie backed away from Gwen as if she were highly contagious, bumping into Tracie's bed. When she turned and saw her friend lying there, sleeping peacefully, she looked up to see Cissa flick her wand.
Silvia walked with Cissa to the common room, where Draco said goodbye to his Mother and they waved as Cissa went on her way. With a wink, Silvia retired to the girls' dorm and Draco made his way to his room to prepare.
Dobby was waiting when Cissa returned to the Greystone Manor. He was in a bit of an agitated state, Cissa could see, as he was twisting his ear and muttering to himself.
"Is something wrong, Dobby? Is Lyn alright?"
"Oh, Missy Lyn is sleeping, Missy Cissa. Dobby has just checked on her, Miss."
"Well, then, what is the matter, Dobby? Is it something I can help you with?"
"I is hoping so, Missy Cissa, but Dobby must be asking you something."
"Come in the parlor, Dobby, so we may talk quietly."
The house elf followed Cissa into the parlor and waited until she was seated before he approached.
"Now, what is the matter, Dobby?"
"It is Harry Potter, Miss."
"Harry? What on earth is the matter with Harry, Dobby?"
"I is promising him that I would always help Harry Potter and now that the bad wizards are coming, Dobby is here and Dobby should be with Harry Potter at Hogwarts, Missy Cissa. But Dobby is knowing his duty and Dobby will stay with Missy Lyn, but...oh, it is difficult, Miss, I is making a promise."
"You want to come with us tonight, don't you, Dobby."
"Oh, YES, Missy Cissa."
"I see, but will Winky and Posey will be able to handle three babies and take care of Mrs. Longbottom and Mr. Frank and Miss Alice?" Cissa asked, trying not to sound too critical.
"But Dobby has already thought of that Miss, and Dobby has called for his cousin, Lolly to come and stay and help while Dobby is at Hogwarts, Miss...if ... you ...think..."
"What I think, Dobby, is that having Lolly here will do nicely. You wouldn't be much good here at Greystone, if you were worrying about Harry, there at Hogwarts, the whole time we are gone. So...maybe the best thing is for you to come with us and lend a hand. I'm sure Tykey and the other Hogwarts house elves will be glad to have you pitch in."
Cissa could see the relief and joy and excitement flood across the diminutive creature's face.
"Oh, thank you Missy Cissa, I will have Lolly come down and meet you right away!"
"Hold on...she's here....now?"
"And she arrived...when?"
"Last night, Miss."
"I see, well, in that case, I suggest you call her. I'm assuming you've already introduced her to Lyn?" Cissa cocked her head and watched as Dobby blushed to the tips of his ears.
"Yes, Miss. They is liking each other, too, Miss," he added, daring to glance up at Cissa.
"I see." Cissa looked at the house elf for a minute, then leaned forward, her elbows on her knees, chin in her hands. "Dobby, last year this time, I was at my wit's end, worried sick about Draco and my baby. And do you know where I went?"
"Yes, Miss, to Hogwarts, I is remembering that night." Dobby replied solemnly.
"Correct, and I think it's time we paid that old pile of rocks back for all it and its inhabitants have done for you and me; two refugees from the world of Death Eaters and Voldemort. Don't you agree?"
"Oh, yes, Miss!"
"Very well, Dobby, as you are only on loan to me from the school, anyway, I can't very well keep you from returning to help out, now can I?"
"No, Miss, but Dobby thought he should ask."
Cissa threw back her head and laughed.
"Go on then, go get Lolly. I'm heading to the kitchen for some tea, so I'll wait there."
"Yes, Missy Cissa," called Dobby as he headed out of the door, but he stopped and turned around to look at his former mistress. "And Dobby is thanking you, too, Missy Cissa."
"No thanks necessary, Dobby; we're all in this together, to some degree, even the babies."
"Good evening, Augusta." Dumbledore ushered Gran and Posey into his office. "Ready for another visit?"
"Yes, and hopefully I'll see you at breakfast tomorrow morning."
"Well, lunch at the latest."
"Very well, I'll settle for breakfast in bed then. A little spoiling at my age is justified, I believe. But then I'll expect a full report at Luncheon."
"Sounds like an admirable idea."
The Passage door opened and Anna, Severus, Gwen, Cissa, Artemus, Penny and Dobby came through.
"Hello Gran, ready for your overnight visit?"
"Indeed, Anna. I will see all of you in the morning...that's an order!"
"Yes, indeed. We'll be here," replied Cissa, as the door swung shut behind Mrs. Longbottom and her house elf.
"Well, everyone knows where they should go," said the Headmaster. "I'll be in the Great Hall, later, if you have need of me."
"We'll keep in touch, Albus," said Anna, giving him a kiss on the cheek before heading for the door.
"Headmaster." Severus held out his hand.
"Severus...take care, my boy."
Severus nodded. Gwen, Cissa and Penny all gave Albus a hug and kiss, and Artemus shook his hand, before leaving, shutting the door. Albus resumed his seat and looked at the marauder's map, spread out on his desk.
"And so it begins."
Percy was waiting at the base of the spiral stairs to the Headmaster's office. Penny ran into his arms and was unceremoniously whirled around and thoroughly kissed.
"Bravo, Percy!" Artemus laughed, extending his hand.
"Thank you for keeping her safe, Artemus," replied Percy, blushing slightly at the amused looks on Anna, Cissa and Gwen's faces.
"No problem, mate."
He shook Severus' hand, too. "Good to see you again, Professor.
"I'll walk to the Hospital Wing with you two, and then I'll come along to the Room of Requirement," he added, looking at the rest of the group.
"We won't start with out you, Percy," intoned Anna, with great seriousness, and then she laughed. "It's only midnight, Percy; you've got a little time. I think we need to leave no later than 1:30 to get down to Hagrid's and get positioned in the Forest."
"I won't be long, then."
"Break a leg!" Artemus called to them as he, Penny and Percy walked away down the hall.
"Very funny, Artemus," replied Cissa, who then blew him a kiss.
"Be careful, Cissa," he mouthed to her. She nodded, giving him a small smile.
The Room of Requirement looked like a cross between an arsenal and a health club. The D.A. were wearing their black sweat pants, socks, trainers and long-sleeved black t-shirts. They had their supply belts on and were loading up the various pouches.
"Vials of 'Felix' potion."
"Ammo for your specific job."
"Instant Darkness Powder Pellets."
"Shield vests and gloves."
"Have you placed the fireworks," asked Anna, running her finger down the list on her clipboard."
"We put them out as soon as it got dark," reported Fred.
"And stowed away extra boxes of ammunition," added George.
"Check." Angelina and Katie held up their and Fred and George's broomsticks.
"House elves ready with their bats?" Anna looked at Tykey, who held up a Beater's favorite piece of equipment.
"We's ready, Missy Anna," he responded, nodding solemnly. Dobby stood by his side, hefting his bat with a smile on his face.
"Has anyone seen Peeves?"
"I be right here, Miss; ready to do my best, Miss," came a voice from near the ceiling.
"Excellent! But Peeves, come down for a minute," called Anna, crooking her finger at the poltergeist. "I've got a /specia/l task for you."
Peeves floated down and Anna waved him closer, cupping her hand to whisper in his ear.
"Do you think you can do that?" she asked, innocently, surveying the grinning apparition.
Peeves cackled wickedly, nodding. "Should have thought of that myself, Miss; I must be slipping in my old age."
"Never/, Peeves, /but see if Myrtle can give you a hand, she's had some experience with this sort of thing."
"Don't your worry Miss, we'll take care of everything!"
Cackling madly, he swooped off through the wall.
"What on earth did you tell him, Aunt Anna?" Neville stopped next to her and gave her a baleful look.
"Nothing.../well/...I may have hinted at a bit of mischief for him to indulge in."
"I get the distinct feeling I don't want to know," replied Neville as he backed away, shaking his head.
"Not to worry, Neville, it's just to keep him busy until it all starts. I can't have him zooming around too much; he might give it all away, taunting the Death Eaters or some such nonsense." Anna checked her list again, and then looked around the room. "Oh, could I see all of you who have blond or ginger hair please."
Draco, Luna, and Hannah came forward, followed by the Weasley kids.
"Now, just for tonight..." Anna waved her wand and their hair turned dark brown. "Otherwise, if you cap comes off, you'll be seen, even as dark as it is. We're taking no chances."
"How do I look?" Draco asked Ginny.
"Bizarre, quite frankly," she replied with a shudder.
"Right, well so much for tall, DARK and handsome, but two out of three isn't bad."
"That's your story and you're sticking to it." Ginny snickered.
"Wait a minute," Gwen surveyed the D.A. critically, "Something's still not right."
"What? Did we forget something?" Anna stood next to her, head cocked, appraising the group.
"I know what it is!" Gwen threw up her hands and pointed. "Their /faces/! Never mind blond hair; we've got to darken their faces, too! With all the black, their pale skin stands out like a beacon, especially if someone is shining a light around."
"Wizards don't use torches/, we do '/Lumos' with our wands," Hermione spoke up, showing her wand tip glowing brightly.
"What about the fireworks?" Anna questioned. "They'll be really bright."
"Oh...right...forgot about that...but what would be quick and easy? A spell to darken our skin could be reversed, so we need something else...makeup, maybe?" asked Hermione.
"Burnt cork...it's cheap and cheerful. Remember the Halloween scene in 'Meet me in St. Louis'? Rose put burnt cork on Agnes and Tootie's faces; it'll be just the ticket. Can you find any here at the school?"
"Luna, don't you have a bunch of corks? Would you mind if we use them?" Neville asked
"Oh, sure, you can have them. 'Accio corks'," Luna called, pointing her wand toward the door. She walked over and opened it, waiting.
"Do you think...?" Ginny whispered to Harry.
"Hey, if I can call my broom during the Tri Wizard Tournament with an Hungarian Horntail trying to roast my arse, Luna can fetch some corks in the middle of the silent bloody night." Harry replied , with a bark of laughter.
"Here you go." Luna returned from the doorway with half a dozen necklaces of corks, which she unstrung and handed out.
"Now, hold the cork over a candle flame until it blackens, let it cool and rub it on your faces and neck...any exposed skin," instructed Anna. "Check each other and get any bare spots. Adults, too; we need all the help we can get, for our 'element of surprise' factor. Cissa and Daphne, you two can do yours later."
"Right." "I think that would be wise."
Soon they were all ready, and with a few swift hugs and handshakes, split into their various groups and headed out to their assigned positions.
"It is time."
"Yes, Master," Wormtail replied, visibly shaking.
"You will stay at my side, Wormtail, so that you may act as my messenger when needed. Do you understand?"
"McNair...go to the giants, have them start on their way to Hogwarts."
"Stay with them until you are in sight of the castle, and then Apperate to me."
"Fenrir, I have a special treat for you."
"You will find and introduce yourself to the Muggle Healer who is reputedly the future mate of the werewolf Lupin."
"It will be my extreme pleasure, Master."
"You will not kill Narcissa or Draco until I have spoken to them. /Do you understand/?"
"I will obtain the location of your daughter and then you may dispose of those two blood traitors as you see fit."
"Yes, Master. Thank you, Master."
Voldemort gazed around at his assembled Death Eaters, his red eyes glowing in the torch light.
"You all know what you are to do. But understand one thing...no one and I mean NO ONE is to harm Harry Potter. Not so much as a scratch. Do I make myself clear?"
"Yes, Master," they chorused.
"This will be the greatest day in Wizarding history and you will all reap the reward when we are triumphant. We are about to teach these cocky little children and their foolish teachers what real Wizarding power can do. I will call you to me within the hour and we will begin our conquest of Hogwarts and you will witness the death of Harry Potter." With a swirl of his robes, he started toward the door. "Come Wormtail."
"Yes, Master," whimpered the hunched over, sniveling wizard, scampering behind the black clad figure.