|SIYE Time:22:00 on 25th September 2017|
Category: Pre-OotP, Post-OotP, Alternate Universe
Characters:Albus Dumbledore, Draco Malfoy, Harry/Ginny, Hermione Granger, Luna Lovegood, Minerva McGonagall, Neville Longbottom, Nymphadora Tonks, Other, Remus Lupin, Ron Weasley, Severus Snape, Sirius Black
Genres: Drama, Romance
Warnings: Disturbing Imagery, Intimate Sexual Situations, Mild Language, Mild Sexual Situations, Negative Alcohol Use, Sexual Situations, Violence
Summary: Sequel to Darkness Within. This story begins the night before Harry's fifth year at Hogwarts. Canon couples accurate to JKR. The romance between Harry and Ginny will develop slowly due to their ages. Please note rating and warnings.
Hitcount: Story Total: 3750; Chapter Total: 296
Special thank you to Arnel for her wonderful work as beta!!!
Thestrals and Snakes
A loud, wailing sound echoed through the girls’ dormitories just as the stairs transformed into a smooth stone slide. Ron fell back awkwardly, landing on the floor with a soft grunt. Several girls took the slide down to the common room in rapid succession, giggling as they landed.
“Why aren’t boys allowed in the girls’ dormitories?” Ron sputtered in frustration as he scrambled to his feet. “Girls can come up to our rooms!”
Hermione stood up and checked on her book bag as she exited the slide. “It’s a rather old-fashioned rule, I’m afraid,” she said. “The founders felt that boys were less trustworthy than girls. Why were you trying to come up, anyway?”
“We wanted to show you the newest Educational Decree,” Ron explained, as he pointed to the notice board.
“What’s wrong?” Anna stood up from the stone slide.
“All student organizations have been disbanded,” Harry said quietly.
“Someone told Umbridge about our new Defense Club,” Ron added.
“No one told,” Hermione said. “Or, if they have, we will know when we see them. I put a jinx on the parchment everyone signed.”
“What kind of jinx?” Neville inquired.
“The kind that will make it quite obvious if someone betrayed us,” Hermione replied. “The person’s face will be covered in spots. Completely covered.”
Anna’s eyes widened in surprise, and Ginny giggled wickedly. “You can be a bit scary sometimes, in a brilliant sort of way.”
Hermione smiled in satisfaction, and the group made their way down to the Great Hall for breakfast. After quietly spreading the word to everyone that the Defense meetings were going to begin as planned, Harry set the first meeting for eight o’clock that evening.
The six friends arrived early in the seventh-floor corridor near the tapestry of Barnabas the Barmy so they could create the room they would need for the Defense club.
Harry turned to Anna expectantly. “How do we make the room appear?”
“Think very carefully and precisely about the kind of space we need. You need to concentrate clearly as you walk up and down the corridor three times,” Anna explained.
“I take it you’ve used this room before,” Hermione observed.
Anna nodded. “Our house-elf, Litty, told me about it a while ago. She knew I needed a private place sometimes here at Hogwarts.”
Neville put an arm around her and smiled down at his cousin. “Litty is always full of surprises,” he murmured.
Harry began carefully pacing along the empty stretch of wall. A door handle appeared suddenly, with the remainder of the door rapidly materializing. He pulled it open slowly to reveal a spacious room with bookcases along one wall and dozens of thick cushions on the floor.
“These cushions will come in handy when we practice Stunning,” Ron enthused.
“Look at all the books!” Hermione exclaimed as she walked along the bookcase and began quietly reading the titles.
“This place is perfect, Harry,” Ginny said with a grin.
A quiet knock was heard at the door, and students slowly made their way into the secret room, murmuring with delight.
“It’s bizarre,” Fred muttered to George. “Do you remember that time we hid in here to get away from Filch?”
George nodded as he looked about. “Yeah, but then it was just a broom cupboard.”
Once all the students had arrived, Harry locked the door, and everyone fell silent. Hermione led the group through the formality of naming Harry as their leader and suggested that the group come up with a discreet name so that members could refer to it safely.
“We could call it the Defense Association,” suggested Cho. “It can be the D.A. for short.”
“The D.A. sounds good, but let’s make it stand for Dumbledore’s Army,” Ginny said. “Isn’t that the Ministry’s worst fear?”
Nods and chuckles were heard throughout the room.
“That’s perfect, Ginny!” Harry exclaimed.
Hermione wrote Dumbledore’s Army across the top of the parchment with all their names and posted it to the wall. Over the next few weeks, Harry led the group as they practiced the Disarming Charm, the Impediment Jinx, and the Reductor Curse. He was a patient teacher, always offering encouragement and slight redirection where needed. The D.A. meetings were going well, with the only difficulty being trying to remain discreet as they passed the day and time of each meeting through the three Houses.
One Sunday afternoon as they were finishing their Arithmancy homework, Hermione wondered aloud to Anna how difficult it might be to create something for each D.A. member to carry with them that would display the day and time of meetings. The pair spent a few hours in the library and came back to the common room with very satisfied expressions on their faces.
“What have you two been up to?” Ginny inquired.
Anna peered at Hermione expectantly. She grinned and nodded. The three girls rushed up to the dormitory so Hermione could explain the new D.A. Galleons to Ginny.
“So, Harry can set the meetings on his Galleon, and it will warm up and alert everyone at once when the next meeting will be?” Ginny confirmed.
Hermione nodded. “I think it should be a great help since D.A. meetings are held on different days and times each week to avoid Quidditch practice.”
“You were quite correct, Ginny,” Anna smirked. “Hermione’s brilliant!”
Sirius stepped just out to the landing of the front door of Grimmauld Place. The sky had darkened considerably that afternoon as clouds gathered overhead. A brisk wind sent the rapidly falling sleet into his face as he Apparated to the side gate of Longbottom Manor. Remus saw him immediately and quickly tapped the gate with his wand to open it, beckoning his friend into the grounds, before resealing the gate.
“Glad you could make it,” he said, clapping him on the shoulder. The men began walking rapidly, shivering slightly as they hurried along the path towards the house. The sleet turned to snow when they were halfway to the house and was quickly accumulating on the frozen ground.
“It’s good to be out of the house, even in this weather,” Sirius commented. “Is Tonks here yet?”
Remus shook his head. “She should be arriving soon via the Floo from the Ministry. You were right on time for once,” he smirked as he opened the back door of the Manor. The warmth of the house welcomed them as they shrugged off their cloaks and hung them up before making their way to the garden room.
Augusta turned in her seat as the men entered. A blazing fire roared in the hearth behind her casting a gentle glow to the cream-colored walls. “Oh, good. Remus, Sirius come join us. Tonks, please pour two more glasses of Firewhisky. This weather makes it practically medicinal.”
“Beautiful women and Firewhisky,” Sirius sighed happily as he sat on the sofa. “Augusta, you truly know the way to a man’s heart.”
Tonks chuckled as she handed over the Firewhisky. “So, what’s the news from Minerva?”
“Well, as far as I know, the professors are still unaware of the kids’ secret Defense Against the Dark Arts group,” Sirius replied. “Also, Minerva confirmed that Harry’s owl, Hedwig, suffered a minor injury, so we can assume that at least some mail is being tampered with going in and out of Hogwarts.”
“You were lucky not to get caught by that Umbridge woman during your Floo call to Harry,” Remus commented.
“I know,” Sirius muttered as he took a swig of his drink. “I won’t be trying that again anytime soon.”
The Floo flared suddenly, and Arthur’s head appeared in the flames. “Hello, Augusta, Remus,” he called out, looking around the room.
“Arthur,” Remus answered quickly bending over the flames. “We’re here. Is everything alright?”
“Certainly, certainly,” Arthur replied. “Just wondered if it was a good time for me to pop over for a quick visit?”
“Yes, of course, Arthur,” Augusta said as she came over. “You’re always welcome.”
Tonks looked at Sirius with a raised eyebrow. He shrugged in silent agreement that something was going on, just as Arthur stepped through.
Glancing around, he greeted everyone and accepted the glass of Firewhisky Remus handed him before sitting down.
“What is it, Arthur?” Augusta asked quietly.
“Minerva just Floo called to inform me that Fred, George, and Harry have been given a lifelong Quidditch ban due to an altercation that occurred just after today’s match against Slytherin,” he said.
“What?” Sirius roared as he leapt from his seat and began pacing.
Arthur nodded grimly. “Minerva was being very careful about what she said, almost as though she was certain the Floo call was being monitored,” he took a sip of his drink. “It was clear to me that the ban was ordered by Dolores Umbridge and will not be rescinded anytime soon.”
“I’ve never even heard of anyone receiving a lifelong ban from Quidditch at Hogwarts,” Sirius grumbled. “What kind of altercation was it?”
“Apparently, Harry and George attacked the Slytherin Seeker, who happens to be Lucius Malfoy’s son, Draco, while they were still on the pitch,” Arthur explained. He rubbed his forehead. “Fred wasn’t actually involved since the Chasers were holding him back, but he was banned as well.”
Remus sighed. “Well, clearly two against one wasn’t particularly well done of them, but having spent time with Draco Malfoy, I have no doubt he must have said something truly despicable to provoke them,” he paused and emptied his glass. “How did Molly take the news?”
“She wasn’t home to hear it,” Arthur admitted. “Molly’s visiting her Aunt Muriel. She should be home…” he glanced at the old grandfather clock against the wall. “…in about an hour.”
“Well, we were about to have dinner,” Augusta announced. “Arthur, you must join us. Some good food will no doubt fortify you for the difficult conversation ahead.” She turned to Remus. “Will you please let Bitty know we have an extra guest?”
Remus nodded with a smile and opened the door to find Bitty and Litty in the hallway just a few feet away. They had no doubt heard Sirius’s outraged shout and come to investigate. He smirked as they both blushed slightly and hurried away to finish the dinner preparations.
Turning back into the garden room, he grinned as Augusta firmly told Arthur that he was perfectly well attired for a simple family dinner, and requested that he escort her into the dining room.
Anna smiled as she listened to Harry recount their meeting with Hagrid the previous night. He, Ron, and Hermione had snuck out of the castle to visit Hagrid in his house by the edge of the Forbidden Forest. Clearly, having their Care of Magical Creatures teacher back had lifted Harry’s spirits considerably.
“I wonder what he’s planning for lessons this week,” Ginny said softly as she gazed out the window at the heavily falling snow.
Hermione sighed loudly. “I tried to ask him, but he wouldn’t tell me. If that Umbridge woman makes trouble for Hagrid…”
“He’ll be fine,” Ron cut in. “We’ll just do our best to make him look good if Umbridge is there during our lessons. With luck, she’ll observe him talking about unicorns or something.”
“When are we ever that lucky?” Hermione muttered under her breath.
That Tuesday as they followed Hagrid into the Forbidden Forest, Anna had an uneasy feeling that the lesson would not be about unicorns.
“The creatures I’ll be showin’ you today prefer the dark and are pretty rare,” Hagrid explained as he led the class into the forest. He was carrying what appeared to be the back end of a cow and walking briskly among the dense trees.
“I reckon they’re the only trained ones in Britain,” he announced with obvious pride as he stopped abruptly and dropped the large bovine carcass on the frozen ground of the forest.
“Now, the smell o’ the meat will attract ‘em, but I’ll call as well,” Hagrid continued. He made an odd, shrieking cry that caused Anna to flinch. Looking around the class, she saw that everyone seemed to be on edge. Neville’s hand suddenly clasping hers was very welcome indeed.
Glancing at his face briefly, she followed Neville’s line of sight to the large winged horses that were slowly emerging from the darkness of the forest. They were the same skeletal beasts that pulled the carriages from the Hogsmeade Station to Hogwarts each year. Anna remembered being rather startled by the sight of them her first year, but, clearly, they were gentle animals. She watched one bend down and tear a chunk of meat from the carcass, raising her eyebrows in surprise that the horses ate meat instead of grass.
“Now, who can see ‘em?” Hagrid asked. “Put yer hands up if ya see ‘em.”
Anna raised her hand feeling confused. Why was Hagrid asking who could see them? They were very large animals. How could anyone miss seeing them? She glanced at Neville who was also raising his hand with a rather closed expression on his face. Looking around quickly, Anna realized that only one other student, a Slytherin, was raising his hand. Near him, Draco Malfoy had opened his mouth to speak, but suddenly closed it and stared at her. She felt her cheeks growing warm and let her arm fall to her side.
“What’s eating the cow?” Parvati suddenly demanded with a frightened expression on her face.
“Thestrals,” Hagrid announced, earning a soft “oh, of course!” from Hermione. “We have a whole herd of ‘em here at Hogwarts. Now, who knows why some o’ you can see them an’ others can’t?”
Hagrid called on Hermione, who was raising her hand enthusiastically. “Thestrals can only be seen by people who have seen death,” she explained.
Anna felt hollow, detached from her surroundings, as she gazed at the leathery black-winged creatures. They looked so innocent, so harmless, even though their skeletal appearance was somewhat disconcerting. Vaguely, she was aware of voices around her - the slow, deep voice of Hagrid and the higher, quicker ones of others - but her mind refused to focus on anything.
A sudden, firm squeeze of her hand, combined with a “hem, hem” brought her attention back to her present surroundings.
“I’m sorry, Professor,” she murmured. Her voice sounded oddly remote even to her own ears.
“It’s quite all right, dear,” said Professor Umbridge, patting her upper arm in what was surely supposed to be a comforting gesture. It left Anna feeling strangely unsettled. “I merely asked whom you saw die that allows you to see the Thestrals.”
“My grandmother,” she answered softly, blinking rapidly as she forced herself to focus, to regain control.
“And, you Mr. Longbottom?” the professor continued.
“It was my grandfather,” Neville said firmly.
“I see,” Professor Umbridge nodded. “And, what do you think of these animals?” She gestured vaguely towards the place where the Thestrals continued to eat.
“Well,” Neville swallowed loudly. “They’re very interesting animals.”
“Hmmm,” the professor said as she made a brief note on her clipboard.
Anna’s spine stiffened. “They’re more than interesting,” she commented clearly. “They are proof that even that which seems dark can be pure and beautiful. The way they move is mesmerizing and really rather graceful.”
Professor Umbridge pursed her lips and raised an eyebrow at them before turning to Hagrid and informing him that his inspection report would be ready in ten days.
Ginny had very mixed feelings about being named Seeker of the Gryffindor Quidditch team. Part of her was thrilled of course to have made the team, to finally be able to show her Quidditch skills. Objectively, she knew she was not even close to Harry in Seeking ability. She definitely had far more confidence as a Chaser, but the Seeker position was available, and she had been selected. Hopefully, she could prove her ability well enough this year to get a Chaser position next year, when positions would be open due to Angelina and Alicia finishing their seventh year.
Arriving early for the last D.A. meeting before the Christmas holidays, Ginny took a deep breath and approached Harry. “Hi, Harry,” she said, smiling awkwardly. “I wanted to let you know that Angelina held try-outs and…well, I…um…I was selected to be Seeker,” she ended in a rush.
Harry blinked and stared at her for a moment. She was about to turn away when he reached for her hand and clasped it securely. “Congratulations, Ginny,” he murmured. “I’m really happy for you.”
“Thanks, Harry,” she whispered. “I’m not even close to as good as you, but…”
“I’m sure you’ll do brilliantly,” he said. “Just don’t let Malfoy beat you to the Snitch!”
She laughed softly. “I’ll catch every Snitch, or die trying.”
His eyebrows raised in sudden alarm. “Don’t…”
“I’m joking, Harry,” Ginny assured him. “Fred said Oliver told you that before a game once, and…” her voice trailed off.
Harry nodded and chuckled. She suspected he was remembering the time Oliver Wood had used those words, and Harry had almost died in his determination to catch the Snitch.
The door opened and the rest of the D.A. came in for their last lesson before the Christmas holidays. They practiced all the spells they had been working on for the last several weeks, and Harry promised some new spells in the coming year, including the Patronus Charm. Ginny was determined to learn this spell, determined to learn how to defend herself from the Dementors. As the meeting ended, she was very pleased to note that Harry chose to walk beside her all the way back to Gryffindor tower.
Neville woke with a start. Rising quickly from his bed, he started walking blindly only to hit the wall. “Bugger!” he exclaimed grabbing the foot that had collided painfully with the wall as he realized he was not at home at Longbottom Manor, but at Hogwarts.
Looking around rapidly, he identified what, or rather who had caused him to wake. Harry was writhing and moaning in his sleep.
“Harry!” he exclaimed, rushing over to him, just as Ron jumped up and hurried to lean over Harry’s bed.
“Harry!” Ron shouted, trying to grab his flailing arms. “Harry, wake up!”
Seamus and Dean came over just as Harry leaned over the side of his bed and vomited on the floor.
“Your dad,” Harry gasped, reaching for Ron. “He’s been attacked…. Bitten!”
Neville grabbed Ron’s shoulder. “I’m going to get Professor McGonagall,” he said rapidly before running out the door. His mind raced as he moved quickly down the corridor to the quarters of the Head of Gryffindor House. Pounding on the door, he shouted. “Professor, we need help! Please, something’s wrong with Harry!”
The door opened suddenly, and Professor McGonagall hurried out securing her dressing gown as she rushed towards the painting of the Fat Lady. “What’s happened, Mr. Longbottom?” she demanded.
Neville shook his head as he kept pace with his Head of House. “I don’t know for sure,” he exclaimed. “It seemed like maybe Harry was just having a bad dream or was sick, but then he said Ron’s dad had been bitten…or something.”
They soon arrived at the dormitory of the fifth-year boys, and the professor leaned over Harry. “What is it, Potter? What’s happened?”
“Ron’s dad has been attacked by a snake,” Harry explained. “I was dreaming, but then it changed.” He looked around frantically at everyone in the room before focusing again on their Head of House. “It really happened, Professor! A huge snake attacked Mr. Weasley and there was blood everywhere!”
Neville looked from Harry’s earnest face to the professor’s horrified one before finally resting on the pure anguish of Ron.
He heard an angry inhalation from Harry just as Professor McGonagall spoke. “Potter, Weasley, put on dressing gowns. We’ve got to go see the Headmaster.”
Author’s Notes: Disclaimer — Part of this chapter comes from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling
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