Chapter 22: When The Chickens Come Home…

Harry followed Severus Snape quietly into his godfather's house. His house, he reminded himself. He still hadn't quite gotten used to thinking of it that way despite the fact that he had already suspected that he had inherited the house before confirming ownership by commanding Kreacher. In Azkaban, Sirius' will had been nothing more than idle speculation at best, and therefore had never seemed to be quite real.

While he might still privately think of the place as Sirius', he knew that he could no longer allow the Order to continue their delusion that he was ignorant of the correct ownership of the house. When he had arrived as their prisoner, he did not see the advantage in informing the others of his knowledge and had hoped that if they had ever turned against him, being master of the property would at least allow him a few advantages in regards to the enforced loyalty of Kreacher. Harry's own experience had taught him that wizards often underestimated House-elves when it came to both power and capability, which was a costly mistake. Harry had learned over the years to use his meagre assets to his advantage, as well as how to keep them close to the vest.

Now, however, things had changed and there was a certain giddiness that came with the realization that he could finally openly reap the benefits of being the owner of the very Headquarters the Order had made themselves so at home in.

He had been released by the Healers earlier that morning with a great deal of reluctance on behalf of the staff that Harry felt had very little to do with his actual health. Harry's return to celebrated celebrity status had come with the usual pitfalls of fame. However, Harry was no longer an overwhelmed and out-matched 12-year-old, unprepared for the attention or the crowds, but a grown man that had suffered far worse than suffocating adulation. Harry had allowed enough impatience to bleed through a polite but disappointingly indifferent mask to quell their advances. Unfortunately, in their minds, after realizing that there was nothing wrong with him physically that rest and potions couldn't fix at home, they had been forced to admit that they couldn't hold him.

However, he had been forced to wait another two hours for the Ministry to officially release him from their custody. Harry had at first been worried that when he was 'released' from hospital it would be into a holding cell at the Ministry, but had been a mixture of delighted and appallingly bemused to find himself led into a deluxe waiting room inside of St. Mungo's. From the gaudy furniture and fine food Harry gathered that the room was mostly likely usually reserved only for Wizengamot members, the Minister of Magic, visiting dignitaries or Quidditch stars. The bemusement derived from the fact that Harry could think of no reason why a single person needed a full suite simply to wait for news in a hospital. Needless to say that after spending the last four years in a cramped cell, the opulence of having a choice of water was enough to make him dizzy.

However, after enjoying a rather comfortable armchair sat by a pleasantly burning fire, he allowed himself the indulgence. It soon became more than clear that by all appearances, Snape had been correct in saying that the Minister would be under a great deal of pressure not to hold him. After two hours, Harry was greeted by a virtual entourage, each person tripping over the next to try and accommodate him.

Tyson had not come himself, instead sending Rufus Scrimgeour and a few other Aurors in his stead to lay out the current terms of Harry's 'parole', but it was clear from the start that their presence was largely a formality. The Aurors in attendance were all older, none of them having passed through the Training Program during Harry's incarceration, and while Harry had the feeling that Tyson had meant the half dozen Aurors following behind none other than the Chief Auror himself to be an exercise in intimidation, the effect was ruined by the cheerful faces and friendly greetings they gave him. Perhaps to another young man greeted by several Aurors alongside the ranking officer would be off-putting, but Harry had had more than enough experience with the Aurors at their worst.

Harry had only known Scrimgeour by reputation in the past, but he could quickly see how the man had risen through the ranks to the Chief Auror position. The man was smart, quick on his feet as well as with his tongue, but at the same time there was caginess about him that spoke of personal ambition and politics. It reminded Harry of why he had so desperately wanted to avoid being Sorted into Slytherin House and at the same time made him ruefully acknowledge to himself that there was a very distinct possibility that a great deal of hardship in his life could probably have been avoided if he had simply allowed himself to embrace the Sorting Hat's offer of 'greatness'.

Then again…perhaps if he had embraced that type of mindset in himself, he would never have become a person capable of producing a natural Patronus that was able to withstand the Kiss. He supposed he would never know and settled on noting that things in his life, while never simple, certainly enjoyed a flair for the dramatic.

Scrimgeour had curtly informed him that the Ministry was currently re-evaluating his case 'in light of such new and compelling evidence' and that while his conviction had not been officially overturned at this time, the Minister had decided to 'magnanimously grant a supervised parole as an act of good faith'. In true politician form, Scrimgeour had a very deliberate way of speaking that gave each word weight.

Once upon a time, Harry would have been turned off by a man who's only clear loyalty was to himself. Once upon a simpler time, Harry would have not wanted to ally himself with anyone that didn't have purer intentions in wanting to help him. Harry had once felt he had the luxury of choice. Harry had once been naïve enough to think that most people were good.

Now Harry had to admire a man that was able to at once adhere completely to the letter of his orders and yet with the very tone and specific phrasing, properly convey to Harry how disgusted he was with the current administration. Scrimgeour was a man that would not start a fight that had no winners. And fighting against the current administration was a hopeless battle. Harry rather thought that the man was sincere in his dislike towards Tyson, but that might have had more to do with the fact that Tyson could run his government with unilateral power, rather than moral objection to the Minister's policies.

Harry had learned a lot over the years, not the least of which was when to hold his tongue. He was polite and even tentatively grateful towards the man. In turn, Scrimegeour seemed inclined to make things easy for Harry, and if Harry implied that he might be open to returning favors…well that was for the Chief Auror to do with as he saw fit. The 'supervision' that he supposedly required had been vague and when Snape had stepped forward and suggested that they release Harry into his custody for the time being as he was- technically speaking- still a Hogwarts professor, Scrimgeour had readily agreed.

And so now it was, roughly 46 hours after the time he should have been executed and instead was walking into his inherited posh Brownstone, a relatively free man.

"Harry!" Auggie yelled excitedly as he and Teddy ran towards him, the latter screaming in happy but incoherent childish bliss.

Harry blinked in surprise at the unexpected greeting before smiling in genuine pleasure at the novelty of seeing such uncomplicated delight in something as simple as seeing someone come through the door- especially him, of all people. "Auggie, Teddy, I missed you," he greeted them sincerely, bowing down to scoop little Teddy into his arms and ruffle Auggie's hair at the same time.

"Where have you been?" Auggie demanded in a manner that vaguely reminded Harry of Mrs. Weasley when he and Ron would disappear into the orchard during summers at the Burrow and had arrived well after dark.

"Hospital, actually," Harry answered honestly. Snape raised his eyebrows at the answer, but Harry shrugged, he had been lied to for most of his childhood and it had rarely done him any favors. He didn't need to terrify them with the details, but he saw no reason to lie outright either. "When I was in Azkaban, I got pretty sick so I had to see a Healer about getting better, just like when you have to see a Healer when you're sick."

"So you won't be all skinny and pale anymore?" Auggie asked curiously.

Harry gave a snort of surprise, thus far he had only been exposed to the benefits of the honesty that children gave you but he was beginning to see that a large lack of tact came with the bargain as well. "Right, how am I looking now?"

Teddy tilted his head and looked at him critically, "still skinny."

Auggie nodded but with a small shrug acknowledged that "at least you aren't as pale."

"Well small miracles first, I suppose. Where is everyone?" He asked, realizing that while the greeting from the children had been unexpected, he had actually anticipated a greater showing now that his innocence had been declared. He wondered if the others were simply too afraid to confront him, feeling a spike of anger at the cowardice.

"In there," Teddy pointed to the back parlor room where the door was closed tightly as though a meeting was already in progress.

He heard Snape let out a long, exasperated breath and thought he heard him mutter, "thank Merlin I missed that an entire day of hand-wringing nonsense."

"Everyone has been all crazy without you Harry," Auggie announced.

"Really? How so?" Harry asked, interested to hear what the young boys had gleaned from the events of the past two days. He knew that neither of the boys would have been able to understand what had happened, nor did he expect any of the adults to tell them, but children were perceptive enough to know when things were amiss in their small worlds and Harry wondered what they had picked up on in the household.

"Everyone was yelling at each other all day!"

"And crying!" Teddy added, "Mrs. Weasley cried lots and lots but mummy and other people too. Why are they sad Harry? Is mummy still sad?"

"I don't think so Teddy," Harry said carefully, "people, well grown-ups I should say, cry for a lot of different reasons, not just because they're sad."

"So they were happy tears? Mummy says she gets happy tears sometimes."

Harry frowned, "well no, I don't think its happy…I think, well…" Harry didn't think he was ever more relieved to be interrupted mid-thought than he was by the call of "Boys!" from a sharp voice.

"I distinctly recall your parents telling you to be…quiet…" Bill's voice trailed off as he noticed Harry standing in front of the boys. "Harry…" Bill cleared his throat and seemed to struggle for a moment before he finally said, "I didn't know you had made it back…how are you feeling?"

Harry raised his eyebrows rather pointedly at the awkward question. He knew that both of them were all too aware that Harry had arrived at the Order's illegally-gotten-Headquarters less than a week ago- was it really less than a week ago? It seemed impossible for time to have moved so slowly- looking like the incarnation of shit and no one had seemed particularly concerned about his health then.

"Been worse," Harry answered tightly. Bill looked for a moment as though he was going to grapple for something else to say but Harry was impatient for this meeting to get underway, he had more than a few scores to settle. "I suppose this means that everyone is already here?"

Bill nodded, "everyone but Professor Dumbledore that is…he woke up early this morning, Minerva spoke to him but he's still in the critical care unit for the time being. Everyone er…well everyone's been anxious to talk to you Harry, and I guess if I'm going to be first to run into you, I should be the first to apologize-"

Harry held up his hand, "no offense Bill but I'd rather not go through this individually, I'll be here all day if I did that." Harry didn't mention that part of him didn't want to give anyone the escape of not having to stand up in front of other people and admit that they had been wrong. After years of waiting and suffering and longing for them to know the truth, Harry was not about to let any of them off easily.

Something of that challenge must have glinted in his eyes because Bill winced slightly but nodded his head. "We should probably go back in, Ron and Hermione told us everything they knew but…well, people are honestly still confused about everything and…" Bill gave a hapless sort of shrug and looked embarrassed as he admittedly, "It would be probably be best if you explained everything yourself."

Harry gave a brief snort of incredulity, his eyes widening in disbelief as he scoffed, "really? After four years it occurs to all of you that it would be a lot easier if I actually got a chance to explain everything myself?"

Harry was eager to go into the room and finally unleash some very long-awaited insults but Snape stuck out his hand, effectively blocking his path as he rolled his eyes at his former student. "Potter, much as you no doubt deserve a wonderful moment of embarrassed irony with people far more deserving than Bill Weasley- we do not have the luxury of time and I have even less patience.

"I have little interest in sitting through some ridiculously mundane show of Gryffindor histrionics in which you decry all of your would-be-surrogate-family as hypocrites for tedious hours. Lest you forget that we are still at war, regardless of how beloved you have suddenly become. So might I suggest a brief but comprehensive 'fuck off' in general and then we can move on to more practical matters? Otherwise I should dump you here to work out your emotional issues whist I go back to those that actually have something to contribute."

Harry gave a brief snort. He couldn't recall Snape being as funny when he had been a teenager and wondered if the man's wit had honestly managed to improve or else if he should be worried that his own brand of humor was now apparently closely allied with a man that he had once sworn must be evil. Perhaps it was simply easier when he was not the target of the man's barbs. Either way, he was about to disappoint the man.

"I would hate to keep you from the murder and mayhem you are no doubt missing with Aberforth, but we need to get them on board for this to work, so either way it looks like you're going to have to be there, but as far as being brief… fuck your patience, I've waited four years and Merlin be damned if I'm not going to make Draco Malfoy cry."

Without further ado, Harry didn't bother to wait to be led into the back parlor but rather opened the door himself and was met with Ginny's voice loudly arguing with Ron, "and for the last time, I'm telling you that Draco would never work for his father!"

She might have wanted to say more but his entrance seemed to have the same effect on the room as a powerful Silencing Charm. For a moment the room seemed to utterly freeze and Harry had a moment of déjà vu in which he was staring out into the crowd right after the Dementor had been destroyed and his last coherent thought before darkness had overtaken him was that he was alive…and seeing that stunned surprise reflected on every face in the crowd.

He shifted just enough to allow Bill and Snape to enter the room but was careful not to break the spell of silence that had fallen. For a moment he took in the pale, exhausted faces with only slight surprise. He had been wondering how the Order had reacted but somehow, he had half-expected them all to have still slept soundly the night before. It always seemed to him that the Order had never had any trouble forgetting about him in the past. Instead he was met with a full room of wizards in rumpled, clearly day-old clothing. Day old stubble was present on most faces and copious amounts of tea and coffee seemed to have passed around liberally among the red-eyed crowd.

It sent an unexpected bolt of pleasure through him to see them sleep-deprived and anxious. Vicious, vindictive pleasure was what he felt, and the feeling startled him because he could not recall a time that even in Azkaban he had felt genuine pleasure at seeing another person suffer. That pleasure was surpassed in that moment by a spike of anger at the realization that it was the Order's indifference that had engineered that kind of cruelty in himself rather than the brutality and hatred, even, from the Aurors. Harry had once vowed, and then vowed again and again, that other people would not change him. He would not bow to them, change for them, break for them and yet…some small part of him had changed.

He only allowed himself a brief flash of anger at this realization but was able to productively re-direct his rage where it belonged…at those he once thought were his friends. The ones that had prided themselves on being the good guys. Harry had learned long ago that there were few people in life more dangerous than those convinced that they were right.

Harry took a breath, closing his eyes as he desperately tried to steady the chaotic emotions that swirled inside him. He had felt this way in Azkaban before, when things had gotten too much and he could hear Maggie's calming words in his mind- one thing at a time. Finish one thing and then worry about the rest.

That was easy- first thing on his list- make Draco Malfoy pay for his lies.

It appeared that the whole of the Order was currently present and Harry was both pleased that he had them all in one place and annoyed that without Dumbledore or himself to actually guide them, the Order had been rendered entirely impotent as opposed to just largely useless as per their usual state of being. Voldemort had launched several important attacks, all of the captured Death Eaters that the Order had so proudly boasted to him about only days before-hand were free to run amok and none of them had done a damn thing about it. Harry was growing increasingly satisfied that a very different Dumbledore was stepping up and taking charge.

But for the moment- his attention was focused on the very uncomfortable looking Draco Malfoy who, in spite of Harry's own desires, was rather surprised to see was in attendance. He had been sure that the blond coward wouldn't have shown his face back at Headquarters after Harry's survival.

"Still so sure of yourself Gin?" Harry asked her idly, breaking the silence and inwardly pleased that his voice was level and controlled. He was rewarded by a deep flush from the red-head. The others still seemed fairly frozen in place. Unsure how to redirect the conversation now that the so-called Guest of Honor had arrived at the meeting and settled for turning their gazes back to the youngest Weasley for an answer.

She swallowed but it was not for nothing that a girl who had 6 older brothers had been Sorted into the House of the Brave. Her chin lifted in defiance as she said with surprising self-composure, "Ron has always seen nothing but the worst in him, but we're not kids anymore! Just because we were wrong about…about you," she stumbled slightly in having to address her words to Harry rather than Ron, but only slightly, "doesn't mean that Draco is the same person that the two of you knew when you were eleven years old. He changed! Draco hates his father."

"No, he doesn't. Draco has been lying to all of you the entire time."

Harry rather thought it was the lack of emotion that hurt Ginny the most. He didn't yell, he wasn't even particularly cruel or mean-spirited, instead conveyed the simple truth- he was only related facts.

Ginny flinched, her eyes flickering first towards Draco with a hint of insecurity and then in the direction of her family with a hint of guilt, but she shook her head resolutely. "I've been seeing Draco for over a year now, and its more than simple dating, we've discussed getting engaged soon. I love him…he loves me. I know he's not working with his father."

"Ginny?" Molly asked sounding hurt at the realization that such an important part of her daughter's life had been kept a secret. "Why didn't you say anything?"

Though Ginny's answer was perhaps better answered by Ron's snort of disgust and mutterings that Malfoy was selfish git that had manipulated her into dating him.

"I'm not a stupid little girl Ron, he didn't just bat his eyelashes at me and I forgot everything that he ever did! We talked about everything. You have no idea what it's like to grow up the way Malfoy did, no idea what it's like to be raised with so much prejudice and hate and…. Merlin, his whole life he was trained to do what's 'best for the family honor'. Do you have any idea what it was like for him? Draco did love his father, and that's what made it so hard for him to break away from him- but he did! He realized the man is a monster and that he couldn't be like that. And you have never appreciated that about him!"

"Have you used Vertiaserum on him?" Harry asked her. The room in general looked at him in surprise and Harry rolled his eyes. Honestly, if he hadn't lost all faith in the Order by now the fact that they had accepted Draco-Malfoy-Prince-of-Pureblood-Prejudice so readily might have shocked him. As it stood, he had taken it as a matter of course, one more indignity to suffer among many. Now more than the injustice the sheer stupidity galled him. "You want to claim that you're not this naïve little girl but what proof do you have that he was telling the truth?"

Ginny's eyes burned with anger and her clenched fists shook at her sides. "I don't need a truth potion to tell when someone lies to me."

"Has anyone given you a truth potion Potter?" Draco asked, his voice shaking slightly with the remnants of false bravado. Harry idly wondered if that was all Malfoy's confidence actually had been since they were children, nothing more than bravado and posturing.

"Just because Potter managed to create a Natural Patronus doesn't prove that he was always innocent or that I'm guilty!

"No one could produce a Patronus like that if they were a cold-blooded killer," Tonks interjected as quite a few others nodded.

"Why would I still be here if I had something to hide?" Draco challenged

"That's true!" Ginny shouted above the grumblings of disagreement. "Draco came here willingly because he's innocent." Harry had to admit that he was almost impressed with the traditionally cowardly Malfoy's plan. It showed a lot more bravery than he ever would have expected of the former Slytherin to come willingly back into the Lion's Den when he must have known that Harry would have told everyone of his involvement with the Death Eaters. It was a risky move, bluffing his innocence as he was.

Snape rolled his eyes, "this is getting ridiculous, not to mention tedious. Miss Weasley from what I recall of your history any boy that gives you a compliment has been able to manipulate you since you were eleven years old." Harry thought she would flush but instead her face turned white at the reminder of her First Year as many of her family members protested Snape bringing up such a traumatic event to demonize her. Snape paid little mind to their protests or anger but instead pulled a clear vial from his robes.

"This is what should have been done 4 years ago and would have if Dumbledore wasn't a senile fool that honestly believed that being around the Order would give Young Malfoy here time and a reason to actually reform himself. Albus thought the deception would eventually become the truth but Dumbledore was always bloody optimistic."

Harry raised his eyebrows and wondered if Snape knew this as fact, or just conjecture based on Dumbledore's personality. Either one seemed perfectly plausible to him. If Snape had ever expressed his doubts that Harry had been the one to reveal him as a spy, Harry knew it would have been to Dumbledore and since the man had not revealed his theory about the Horcrux manipulating Harry into torture and mayhem, the Headmaster had probably deduced that it had been Draco Malfoy to reveal the man's true loyalties.

"I knew that little bastard was a liar from the first time he showed up here," Ron announced scathingly.

"He hasn't taken the potion yet," Charlie reminded his younger brother quietly. "I think the lot of us could learn to take a beat and actually find out the facts before jumping down each other's throats."

"So are you all going to take it?" Draco shouted out, his illusion of calm nearly shattering as forehead beaded with sweat in desperation. "I shouldn't have to take it if the rest of you aren't. Dumbledore always said that the Order was held together with trust!"

"Draco you have nothing to hide…" Ginny tried to soothe him.

"I've got as much to hide as any one of you? What we're all going to pretend that every last one of us is fucking perfect now? That we're not all hypocrites? Are you all going to spill all your dirty little secrets? How Granger is spreading her legs for a promotion because it turns out the Ministry doesn't care how many Outstandings she managed on the NEWTs? Or how about the reason wonder boy over there," Draco gestured at Ron, "can never make it to a second date with a girl. My guess is that he was always pining over Potter."

Ron flushed an exquisite shade of red that seemed to compete between embarrassment and anger. He shot a glance first at Hermione and then Harry before his glaze slid back to Hermione and Harry marveled at the fact that some things really didn't change in four years. It was truly absurd to consider that despite everything else that had turned the world mad, Ron was still self-conscious about his attraction to Hermione. Harry found it strangely comforting and it was that sense of familiarity that brought back old sense of defiance and sense of justice.

"You want to question me under Vertiaserum?" Harry challenged. "Fine. I have nothing to hide. Nothing that I haven't told dozens of Aurors as they tortured and humiliated me day after day. I don't have any fucking secrets Malfoy- the one secret that I thought I had in my life was discovered weeks ago and Maggie died because of it so if want to sit here and claim that we're being unfair, be my guest, but you're going first. You're going to take that potion and you're going to tell Ginny how you lied to her every night that you were together. You're going to tell everyone here that you congratulated yourself on how much smarter you thought you were. How you loved being a spy because it meant that no matter what side won, you were protected because you're too much of a fucking coward to make a stand. Just like you're too much of a coward to do anything except what Daddy tells you to do."

Draco flushed that pale pink that Harry remembered so clearly from their school days and he felt a burn of satisfaction that he was getting a response from the man. He could already see the doubt and even fear that was leaking into Ginny's stubborn eyes. It seemed to Harry that she was banking her entire reality on the fact that she hadn't been completely wrong about everything that she knew. He knew that she had believed wholeheartedly that he had willingly become a Death Eater, just as she had loved Draco and the reformed man she believed him to be. Already one absolute truth of her life had been proven false and now her very sanity seemed to holding on to the second.

"Take the potion Draco, if you have nothing to hide from us, then you shouldn't have a problem with taking it. You can even pick who you want to question you so you know they won't be digging for anything that we don't need to know. But you're not getting out of this," Bill said quietly. His face was pale and Harry noticed for the first time since he had been there that for the first time Bill looked old. Tired and worn down in ways that appeared nearly painful to consider.

Draco's eyes flitted in panic and Harry could see desperation as he frantically thought of any possible way he could talk himself out of this, as he had done for so long. Harry found himself wondering how Draco's silver tongue had worked its magic on the Order in the first place. Had it only been his 'warning' to Snape? How had Draco secured his place within the Order? As much as he hated the man, Harry was more than aware that Voldemort was not stupid, so he had no doubt that man had given Draco enough 'real' information to keep the Order satisfied, but had they grilled the Slytherin as viciously as the Aurors had grilled Harry?

Harry had disliked Draco and his superior, condescending attitude from the first day he had met him. Over the years, Harry had never seen a redeeming quality in the other boy, but he had heard all manner of excuses for his behavior over the years. Adults had claimed that Draco was merely young. As though all children were naturally cruel to one another. Hermione and a few other people had blamed his parents- but Harry had been raised by the Dursleys and he more than most knew that nurture in childhood was not everything. Draco Malfoy had known wealth and privilege his entire life and he had used that power to hurt others. To humiliate. To bolster his own ego at the expense of those he deemed 'lesser' than himself.

Draco had spent his entire life feeling that he deserved more than others and used lies and manipulation to see that it happened. He lied. He cheated. He stole. Harry wondered if the other boy had ever gone so far as to murder. Being a spy for the Dark Lord and safely ensconced in the Order had shielded Draco from the worst of the duties that most Death Eaters would do. Harry remembered that Malfoy in school had never been a particularly skilled duelist, his skills lay elsewhere. And Harry couldn't deny that he did in fact possess skills.

Now though, Draco's lies had run out.

Harry could see the dawning resignation in the other boy's eyes. He had seen enough broken wills in his time to recognize the signs at a glance and while once, in another lifetime, he might have felt some pity for the boy, now he could only feel a deep sense of satisfaction.

"Ginny…" Malfoy swallowed and his voice shook as he said, "if someone is going to do it, it should be you but when you question me…don't forget to ask if I love you."

Ginny's face whitened and Harry knew that the girl had finally understood that there would be no happy endings with a statement such as that.

Snape had the potion ready and Malfoy took the three drops with more decorum than Harry had actually expected of him. They could see the potion taking affect by the blank expression and smooth lines of his face.

Ginny took a deep breath before speaking, "Draco…were you the one that told You-Know-Who that Severus Snape was a traitor and a spy?"

"Yes." The answer was monotone, emotionless and yet the reaction from Ginny was one of sheer heartbreak. Her face crumpled and her breathing hitched even as anger blossomed in the eyes of the people around them.

"How…how did you know?" she asked.

"Potter. He was trying to pathetically rescue Black after the Dark Lord's vision, but he was stupid and got caught by Professor Umbridge. Granger was smart enough to distract her and get her out of the office and left myself and other Slytherins to watch over the rest of his group. But I knew that Potter was up to something- he was too desperate, too panicked to want to get out of the office and I knew it wasn't about getting in trouble. If Potter was involved, I knew that it had to have involved the Dark Lord, and I thought that Snape was a loyal Death Eater and would have known what was going on. I wanted to prove myself, ask him what I could do to help. So I left the office and followed him to offer my services. But I overheard him sending a message to Dumbledore about protecting Potter- worse I saw that it was a Patronus that looked like a mirror image of that Stag that Potter used to brag about and that's when I knew…Potter was more important to Snape than the Dark Lord and if I wanted to prove myself, I needed to reveal to him the traitor."

"You're a Death Eater?"


"Did your father force you take the Mark?" Ginny asked and her voice was desperate at that point.

"My father was always proud to be a Death Eater, to serve at the right hand of the man that would create the world in the image that was supposed to be. I wanted to make my father proud, he did not force me, he guided me in the direction I wanted to follow."

"What do you mean by 'create the world in the image that it was supposed to be'?" Hermione interjected and Ginny looked vaguely irritated at the interruption but Draco answered the question automatically. "A world where Purebloods and their traditions are celebrated, where people of proper blood are given the respect and position that we are entitled to have."

"You said 'one of Potter's visions'- did you know the whole time that the visions he had were real?" Lupin asked quietly.


"Did the Dark Lord Imperius the Healers and experts that said something like that couldn't happen?" the werewolf asked, sounding a combination of desperate and confused. Harry knew that Remus, like all of them, had bought the ridiculous lie that he had been lying about the connection that he shared with Voldemort the whole time no matter what other evidence they had been shown.

"No. I think my father said that the Ministry 'experts' didn't know anything and after the embarrassment of Potter being right about the Dark Lord's return, the Minister was anxious to discredit the person that the newspapers were already calling the Chosen One."

"Why didn't we believe him?" Molly Weasley sighed quietly, seemingly speaking her thoughts aloud with no expectation to be answered, but under the influence of the potion, Draco answered, nevertheless.

"I never really understood that part. Father told me that he had learned that Potter saved Ginny's father's life at Christmas time and I always assumed that Potter must have told the Order about his visions all along so during the trial I expected the witnesses to argue that the vision was real, but none of you did."

Hermione gave a gasping sigh and both Neville and Ron looked as though they had been punched at the stomach at that proclamation.

"You've been lying to me all this time?" Ginny whispered.

"Yes." The cold, even tone of the answer made it sound all the crueler.

Ginny was openly crying now, she was shaking her head even as her body curled in on itself in a defensive position. "Did you ever really love me?"

"Yes, for the last year I did really love you."

Charlie pulled out his wand and stunned Malfoy, the blond slumping to the side just as Alex used an incarcerous spell to tie him up.

The room buzzed with questions, protests, and finally angry accusations at other members. Ginny was sobbing beside her mother, who looked stunned at everything that had been revealed while her brothers badgered her with questions about their apparent relationship. It seemed that Ron and George had been more observant than the others and had realized that the two had been involved in an actual relationship, while the rest apparently had been under the impression that Ginny had only been involved in some sort of prolonged courting ritual of flirting and attraction but nothing else, no doubt seeing their 19 year old sister as a pure virgin.

The confusion of the room was evident. "How many traitors are there?"

"Haven't we learned from the past?"

"What do we do now?"

But rather than mindless questions, it was a statement that set Harry's teeth on edge… 'we have to wait to see what Dumbledore says'.

Harry could see Snape grit his teeth and knew that the other man's patience was at an end, they had come for a reason and it was time to get on with it.

It was with a deliberate upsweep of his wand, red and green sparks shot out grabbing the attention of everyone in the room and ensuring silence. "You lot never fucking learn do you!"

"None of us knew that Draco was a Death Eater, Harry," Lupin sighed, sounding tired. Harry wondered if being continually wrong could be exhausting. "How could we? Dumbledore always-"

"And there it is! The end all, be all excuse for the great Order of the Phoenix; why have a single, independent thought of your own when Albus Dumbledore can solve all our problems because he must know everything!" Harry shook his head in disgust. "I don't expect you to be able to know the impossible, but I expect grown adults, most of whom who have already lived through one war before I was even born, to take some fucking responsibility and ask questions. Investigate. Don't just follow blindly and be relieved that when something goes wrong it wasn't your decision to do anything anyway."

"Harry…it's not simple…" Bill started.

"You're right, it's not simple. It's hard. This is a war, you think all the 'bad guys' are going to wear little signs on their neck so you can spot them? You think the truth is always cut and dry. Merlin, the worst part is I wasn't even the first person in the Order that you left hung out to dry.

"Sirius Black left his entire family behind. He ran away from his parents, his home, and a hell of a lot of money and power in the Wizarding World to fight for you. Every single one of you agreed that Sirius and my Dad were best friends but none of you even batted an eye when the Ministry arrested him for twelve years without even a trial.

"You call yourself Sirius' friend?" Harry turned on Remus who was pale and had seemingly sprouted more grey hairs in the last two days. "You actually claim that you ever gave a damn about him when you didn't even question why he would have sold out my parents and his best friends? Oh wait…you're a werewolf. Right, and as a werewolf you couldn't petition the Ministry. As a werewolf you certainly couldn't go to any one of the other Order members," and here Harry glared at the rest of the assembled group because while they had not claimed to be Sirius' best friend, they had fought in a war together. That should have counted for something.

"You couldn't have gotten one of them, or hell, the ever-all-knowing Dumbledore to do something? But why I am surprised Remus- you have always had excuses to avoid responsibility. Or rather you have one excuse that fits all occasions. It's the reason you never sent me a single fucking letter before or during Hogwarts. Probably the reason I only found out you even knew my Dad at all because you let it slip by accident. But why am I complaining? I'm not your son, or your godson. You don't owe me anything, but let's not forget that you ditched Teddy too."

"Harry!" Tonks interjected.

"Don't defend him, you're almost as bad because I can't imagine you didn't realize who you were getting involved with, so you must have known the outcome. You were the one that chose to have a child with a man that runs away from personal responsibility. Or maybe I'm being too generous, the Order doesn't seem to recruit anyone with much deduction skill, do they?"

"Potter, that's out of line. We've made mistakes, but we have fought. From the moment Voldemort returned, we fought," Moody finally announced. Several people were nodding, tears silently streaming down many of the faces in the room. Molly and Hermione both were shaking from emotion and Harry remembered the fact that Molly had always been sympathetic than angry with him. It still hurt to know that she hadn't believed him but it wasn't the heavy betrayal he felt from so many others.

"We made mistakes Harry, we were wrong about you, we know that…I don't think any of us could tell you how sorry we really are about not believing in you, but Moody's right, we fought as best we could," Bill said, his arm around a red-faced Fleur.

Harry found himself unimpressed. "Really? You fought? And what have you actually accomplished? The professors in this very room not only knew about the Philosopher's Stone being at Hogwarts but presumably that someone was after it, but they did nothing, even when it was obvious to a bunch of First Years when the attack would happen. I told McGonagall personally that someone was after it, and I was ignored. Hell, Snape was following and threatening Quirrill for a year but was suddenly and conveniently nowhere to be found when we needed him.

"None of you managed to find the Chamber of Secrets- that was me. Have any of you actually dueled Voldemort and survived? Have you captured any of the Death Eaters that matter or were you all busy giving each other high-fives over the lowly recruits you were bagging and then sending away for free, comprehensive training?

"Don't tell me that all of you have fought against Voldemort- I fucking fought. I fought when I was eleven years old and everything single one of you was oblivious to there even being a problem. I fought in prison every single day and didn't break.

"And I'm not done fighting, but I'm fucking tired of doing it alone so the rest of you are going to help me and this time we're going to do what you should have done my Fifth Year and actually listen to me because while you geniuses were off guarding a prophesy for an entire year that you simply could have had me pick up and bring to you, you were wasting valuable time. Back then I would have done anything you told me to do, but I guess the one good thing to come out of your collective piss-poor decisions is that I will never do that again. I'm not a child anymore and I am tired of the bullshit. From now on- you lot are going to listen to me."

There was a ringing silence that followed this pronouncement. Several people seemed rather stunned that Harry had come in so forcefully. Perhaps they had still expected him follow orders, but Harry was going to fight the war on his terms from now on. Ron was nodding his head though and Hermione had that old look of determination in her eyes that had always preceded her following him on a crazy adventure in their school days.

However, it was with some surprise that it was Arthur Weasley that was the first person to speak. In Harry's experience, the man was usually content to allow the stronger personalities, particularly his wife, do most the talking.

"Harry is right. We wronged him and have done so for longer than he even blames us for. We all knew that we owed Harry and his parents a debt for ridding the world of You-Know-Who- but not a single one of us pushed to look into his safety. Molly and I weren't in the Order in the First War and we didn't know Lily and James personally, but perhaps…." He shrugged awkwardly but it was clear that he was blaming the others in the Order for not doing more.

"But Molly and I are at fault for not paying better attention when we needed to. Harry stayed with us over summers, our own sons told us that he was being kept in a room with bars on the windows- we did nothing to help him. Harry was being abused by those muggles and we all sent him back there year after year without listening to his protests.

"Harry saved Ginny's life, he saved my life and my family turned our backs on him." Arthur took a deep breath before he spoke again. "I am not a man that has been blessed with a lot of wealth. I don't have a high position in the Ministry. I don't have power in the Wizarding World. And yet I count myself one of the luckiest men in the world because I have a loving, wonderful family that fills me with pride everyday. But today…I am ashamed to say that every one of us failed Harry. We turned our back on him but never again. Harry- whatever you need that I can provide you, I will give you. I should have- we should have remembered that you're family and family sticks together."

Harry blinked in surprise, caught off-guard by how affected he was by the man's sincere words. He could see other nodding, others making similar pledges.

It was Snape's caustic voice and utter lack of any and all sentimentality that pulled him back to the matter at hand.

"Yes, very well the people in this room are obviously nothing more than lemmings but since their current leader is unavailable to lead them off the cliff, we can all follow Potter and continue to avoid all critical thinking for ourselves since it's obvious those skills were never developed. Well done. Now Potter, can you kindly inform us of your plans."

Harry's lip twitched but he didn't grin. Instead he spent a few minutes outlining what Snape and Aberforth had been up to. It had been agreed that the two groups needed to work together as time was short and while Harry had no doubts that Aberforth had a few plans, he was still hiding, they couldn't afford to let pride keep them apart. Many in the Order had been disturbed by the group's brutal actions, they soon reconciled themselves to the necessity. Both groups needed to work together- they needed more people.

"And so how exactly are going to get close enough to the Inner Circle to make a difference?" Neville asked. "That's been a problem the whole time."

One thing at time Harry, finish it and move on to the next.

"Because first we're going to make sure that we have all the help we could possible get. Our first move isn't to go after Voldemort or his Inner Circle- first we go after Ivan Tyson."

A/N: Thank you all so much for the reviews and requests for updates. This chapter was a tough one because I wanted to give just reactions to a lot of people without it seeming strange or forced. As always, thanks so much to my beta mylittlehazmat and also special thanks to Grimjaw for some advice on this chapter as well.