Warnings: This story is rated M for violence and adult themes.
This is a post Order of the Phoenix, pre-Half Blood Prince story. Please consider this a "replacement" of the sixth book.
JKR owns all of Harry Potter. Obviously.
Chapter 1 Lightning Strikes
"Energy. It permeates every living and non-living thing. Without it, the world would cease to exist."
Fall ~ 1997
It slammed into the courtyard like a battering ram, unleashing a thunderous roar.
"We're fucked! Absolutely FUCKED!"
Harry's back slammed into the wall alongside Ron's with rib-breaking force, heat blasting out right behind him like a detonating wave. Fire whipped past their alcove so fast that it sent their jackets whipping around them, the air temperature alone painful.
He'd narrowly missed being burnt to a charred black husk, Harry heaving a heated breath. "Oh, you think?!" he bellowed, caustic as hell.
The dragon let out an earth shattering roar.
"No sense of humor, that one," Ron snarled, grabbing a hold of his freely bleeding arm and clenching hard to slow the flow.
They were trapped.
Around them the courtyard's ground shook, pieces of rubble and debris vibrating ominously with each step the beast took. He and Ron had dove into an alcove where a statute of a centaur had once stood, only now it lay beheaded and broken, strewn across the grounds.
Outside screaming could be heard, Harry risking it and ducking his head out, his green gaze sighting upon Hermione and Luna doing the same from their shelter, two alcoves over.
His heart practically burst out of his chest in damn relief.
"Harry!" Hermione shouted, acrid black smoke billowing in coils behind her. Harry grabbed onto Ron's good sleeve and tugged. They had to move.
The four ran.
The dragon saw and screeched.
Harry's feet beat against the ground harder and faster than he ever thought possible, lungs burning as he vaulted over a pile of stones, unable to stop at the sight of a crushed and oozing arm beneath it. They were gone. They couldn't help them.
Arches crumbled down around them in a deadly rain of bricks, the horntail's claws pulverizing the castle's outer defenses. It swung its head, its tail taking out a series of once peaceful arches where lazy afternoons had been spent studying, Hogwarts' ancient pillars crumbling beneath its might.
They reached the open grounds, green grass underfoot as they hurtled themselves through spell fire towards the Whomping Willow.
They had one mission: one. Get off the grounds, get to safety, then find and kill the rest of the horcruxes.
Everything within Harry screamed to do the exact opposite, to go back for her, to go back for all of them.
But they couldn't. He couldn't. If he did, then everything they'd already done had been for naught.
So Harry ran, barreling across the grounds, wand slashing as Voldemort and Ministry forces tore across the once pristine sanctuary in a deadly wave.
A whirl of black smoke flew past in a blur, a wyvern crashing down in front of them, its wings flaming-
"Mittent rete!" Luna's voice rang out, a cargo net of thick ropes flying out from her wand and snaring around the creature before it could fully lunge to kill.
Hermione spun and threw a blasting hex behind them, a crater bursting out of the ground, the Death Eaters tumbling into it.
The dragon found them.
It slammed down into the ground before them, the dirt flying up around its claws as if it had just liquefied the ground. Its head reared back, snout bared wide-
It happened in slow motion.
Ron's feet dug into the ground, sliding as he grabbed a hold of Hermione. Luna slammed into Harry's back, all four trying to instantly stop.
They were out in the open.
There was no shelter.
They could see the Whomping Willow behind it. Its branches were already burning, leaves sizzling, the secret passage that would take them to Hogsmeade the escape they needed.
The dragon was between them and it, a blast of incinerating flames lashing out towards them, a hateful roar rattling them to their very bones.
Ron grabbed Hermione and threw himself on top of her.
Harry was screaming, having thrown his wand out, "PROTEGO!" bellowed, a massive sheet of blue bursting forth. A second spell slammed out alongside him, Luna Lovegood standing there, pale hair blowing in the scorching breeze as the wave of fire slammed against their shields.
Harry's arms screamed in pain, his entire magical core straining as they were engulfed in white hot flame and black smoke, the heat so intense he could no longer hear himself. He could no longer hear Luna. He never heard Ron and Hermione's wands joining theirs, death imminent.
The flames died, their vision clearing...
Harry had fallen to all fours, Luna right alongside him on the ground, panting as sweat dripped freely down her face. In exhaustion he reached across the leaf-strewn dirt, grasping frantically at her hand, squeezing tight before the finishing round struck.
It never came.
Harry heaved a breath, gaze jerking up. He saw why the dragon had stopped roaring, stopped scorching them into the earth, stopped paying attention to them.
Multiple spells had lit up the night in front of them. Some of the Order, their friends, had turned their backs to the fight with the Death Eaters, the Ministry, and had come to their aid to stage a counter attack.
But Harry's eyes were drawn to one chain of light, just one. To him, it was the only chain that mattered.
That golden chain of light had writhed across the ground like a snake, coiling up from the raw and brutalized earth to crawl up the dragon's scales. It had punched into the dragon's chest like a scorpion's stinger, the beast rearing back its neck and screaming as it and a dozen other spells joined in.
Harry's heart nearly stopped. Nearby, so, so impossibly close was Kally. He could make out her familiar features, nearly see the golden glint in her eyes, her hair a mess of impossibly golden hair as she stood amidst the dragon handlers.
Her wand was out, golden light bleeding from it, slowly killing the beast, or trying.
She wasn't alone. Charlie Weasley and nearly a dozen other wizards attacked from all sides, different spells used. All were trying to buy him and the others time. Nearly a dozen and they were still failing against the Horntail's wrath.
Harry barely noticed them, for the sight of her had his heart thundering out of his chest.
He knew what she was doing. She was buying them time. Time to get away. Time to escape. Time so they could go and do what no one else could. Just like she'd told him not five minutes prior when she'd broken away from them with a sob, telling them to run as she barreled back to join the resistance. He could still feel her hand within his, taste that final kiss on his tongue.
She shouldn't be here.
The entire Order was trying to buy them time.
Now it was going to kill the non-witch: his non-witch.
The girl fell to her knees, strain etched in every familiar feature as she began to lose, the dragon turning towards her and not Charlie.
Harry screamed for her, lunging-
Ron tackled him around the waist, dropping him to the ground before he could run, get to her.
Everything in him bellowed, magic screaming, straining violently against his veins. Hermione was screaming that they couldn't go through the Whomping Willow. It was too ablaze, alight with fiendfyre. They had to turn back.
Harry heard none of it; his gaze began to turn black as the dragon jerked towards Kally, the golden light suddenly flaring, dying out. A shadow darted past, a figure on a broom, Dean, barreling towards them. Harry physically fought Ron. "LET ME GO! I HAVE TO GET TO HER!"
The dragon's mouth opened, teeth bared, tongue licking out with a fiery tendril.
Harry's heart dropped. Pain, raw and thick and undiluted slashed through his chest, so many dead because of him. No. No.
Something within the Boy-Who-Lived snapped.
Magic flared out, erupting like an explosive, a phoenix's fiery fury unleashed.
The dragon's flames were simultaneous, blazing a furious path towards her.
Luna screamed, and the entire world exploded.
The little girl with the auburn hair woke up with a scream.
Somewhere in Dublin, Ireland, in 1996, a little Muggle girl screamed, eyes widened in terror, unknowing of what was coming. Unknowing that she was a key to it all, the child too little. She was only six years old. She was too young, too young for such a burden.
And still...she had dreamt of a magical castle, of a boy with piercing green eyes named Harry, and of a burning tree and dragon.
She was already forgetting the boy's name.
Her father yanked her into his arms, cradling her.
Little Emily Bothan sobbed unrestrainedly onto her father, scared because of the dragon. Kenneth Bothan whispered soothing words into his daughter's hair, promising that it was only a nightmare.
He had no way of knowing how wrong he was; that this was how it would begin for them; that they would be yanked into the magical world. They would be on the periphery of a coming war, and yet…
The small daughter in his arms, unbeknownst to her or to anyone else, would soon become so very, very entrenched within it. Not knowing…
It was better that way.
Summer ~ 1996
Rain battered down, pelting the mud-laden ground and sending chunks of it splashing into the air.
The thick stench of burnt wood and flesh filled the air, the noxious stench assaulting his enhanced senses. The bite of a werewolf carried that benefit: improved smell, improved vision, even if it aged him.
Remus Lupin's eyes narrowed, peering through the thick onslaught towards where Tonks stood, cloak sticking wetly to her, clinging tightly to her form from the watery onslaught. Overhead lightning flashed, lighting up the night, casting the shadowy horrors into stark relief.
Around them lay the remains of the third home this week that they had responded to. The past weeks had brought a slew of murders. No... Butcherings...
Snape had brought them disturbing news: Voldemort had been hunting rare mutations down for his own gain. Any witch, wizard, or Muggle who possessed even a trace of a magical species' blood within their veins was a target. Half-giants, the offspring of wizards who had fallen in love with veelas, partial leprechauns, metamorphmagi, mermaids, werewolves, vampires, and a slew of others.
None were safe.
Water sloshed about his mud-soaked ankles, chilling him to the bone as he made his way quickly to where Tonks stood. Beneath her feet lay the sprawled out, pale form of a young man. His hair blended into the mud, the poor Muggle face down and clearly dead.
The multitude of slashes across his back bared glimpses of his savaged spinal column, the marks clearly the work of a cutting curse.
Tonks made an angered, raw sound beside him, her fingers grasping onto his upper arm and clenching tight. He could only imagine the throats she wanted to wrap her hands around right now, but there was no time.
They had to complete their search before the Ministry officials arrived. By then they were to be gone, mere ghosts to have passed through, unseen and unheard.
It was only them. They had no help, no back up. The rest of the Order had gone to retrieve Harry.
The Order still had no idea what the hell had happened here, or why the Death Eaters had attacked this family.
The brown-haired Auror broke away, sloshing across what had once been the front yard of a fairly rural home. She'd dropped into the mud and muck, hands checking the pulse of another young man, this one's hair thickly matted with coagulated blood.
Remus could see through the night far better than her. He didn't have to ask if he were dead or not.
"Six..." she whispered, hissing the syllable as she stood.
He looked around, eyes narrowed against the thundering downpour. Ghostly gray images came to life, dancing before him with unearthly clarity as the werewolf in him suddenly allowed him to see everything.
Tonks eyes remained locked upon the crushed skull of a man barely younger than herself. "I really," she whispered hatefully, "would like to skin him alive." Snarling, she dangerously added, "Either that or just burn him and that aunt of mine on a stick, with marshmallows, so I can feed them to one of their pet giants after castrating him."
Remus wasn't fooled. The quake to her voice betrayed her upset.
And still..the fact that she could even fantasize about turning Voldemort into a s'more encouraged him to never, ever piss off Nymphadora Tonks.
"I hope," he stated solemnly, "you won't expect me to eat any of that."
She let out a watery snort, Tonk's Auror training kicking in as she immediately set off looking for others, for survivors.
Remus doubted there could be any; none of the other homes had one.
"What in the hell," she demanded, "was he looking for?" She spun, water flying off her cloak. They couldn't use magic. If they did in a Muggle area it would surely alert the Ministry to their presence. Remus would bet his life that the only reason the Ministry wasn't already swarming upon the scene was because a Death Eater inthe Ministry was delaying it.
Dumbledore strongly suspected that the Ministry was already being taken over from within. That meant they'd have easily been able to cover up such an attack. But if more magic was done after the Death Eaters had left…
Remus swore beneath his breath. The Dark Lord had a new strategy. Snape had informed the Order weeks ago, but even now he still found it unfathomable, for the vile being was no longer content to experiment with magic.
No... Now he was experimenting with magical creatures.
His plan was to harness the powers of every magical being for himself. So he could channel them into his one acrid being.
If the thought of an even stronger Dark Lord wasn't enough to frighten someone, Remus didn't know what was. But that fear did nothing to quell his barely contained fury.
In the dark he saw something.
Instinctively his arm shot out, halting Tonks roughly in place, his dilated eyes roamed, scanning the muddied ground. Broken floorboards littered the scene, while smoke from the doused fires curled up in serpent-like tendrils, shrouding the world from view.
Yet his eyes penetrated its veil, searching for the flicker of movement that had frozen him in place.
He clenched his fingers tighter around the familiar, worn oak of his wand, bracing himself for whatever attack would come.
It was then that he heard it: a soft choking amidst the storm's howling winds.
He withdrew his arm, placing a finger carefully over Tonks' icy lips, signaling her to be silent. The only sign of her confusion was the light crease of her brow. She would, of course, have no idea what he was looking for; her hearing was not as refined as his.
But werewolf bites did things like that to a person.
It came again, a low, strangled moan, and he took off, rushing towards the source. No attacker could feign that kind of pain.
He skidded, flinging rocks in the air as he bent down beside her. The puddle she was feebly pushing herself out of was a deep black, filled with the blood of her and the lifeless man besides her. The girl's body spasmed with each choking hack as she coughed up inhaled water, her eyes glazed over from what he recognized as shock.
He pulled the girl up, speaking in low, reassuring tones as she flailed against him. She was too weak to do much damage.
Pounding feet sent a wave of water and mud slamming into him, Tonks skidding to a halt and dropping down besides them. Her wide brown eyes stared in horror, Remus understanding. The girl's injuries…
They were severe.
"Remus…" she whispered, "how is she…" alive.
Looking into the girl's glazed eyes, he suddenly knew.
There was a glint there, an aberrant glint, like tiny fairies had been shrunk into her irises to sparkle artfully after the magical drawing. Had Remus not once been a Defense Against the Dark Arts professor he'd not have known.
"She's a Reach," he said, hollow feeling rising.
Tonks' breath sucked in. "She can't be. They don't…they die so young." She shook her head. "She's too old."
"I don't know," he muttered, smoothing the girls mud caked hair away from her face. "Some have survived longer." The girl's body shuddered, more brown water emerging from her lips, another round of spasms racking her body violently.
Tonks stood quickly, looking around. "We have to go before the Ministry arrives. You know what they'll do if-"
"Yes," he said, eyes still upon the girl who was somehow still alive. They had to get her back to headquarters before something worse happened. Her shoulder was in desperate need of suturing, as was a lethal looking mark on her abdomen, a piece of wood outright having impaled her.
Merlin only knew what else the bastards had done to her before leaving her for dead.
Torn shards of what had once been clothing hung lightly from her, and the debris and dust sticking to her wet face made her features impossible to discern.
He let her cough up the rest of the water before stunning her. He hated doing it as he lifted her limp form from the ground, but only one thing could have survived this, and as weak as she was, he wasn't eager to get on that thing's bad side.
There was no sense in taking chances.
He exchanged a quick, meaningful look with Tonks. "Pomfrey." They had to get her to Hogwarts. No healers were at Number 12 Grimmauld. St. Mungo's would sign her death warrant, and the girl…
She needed a Healer, desperately.
In a flash the three disapparated, the Ministry of Magic arriving only minutes later to find the destruction and dead untouched.
Harry lay there, staring sightlessly at the ceiling. Shadows played across it as light from passing car headlights shone through the window, the lights cast from the street below. Privet Drive, never exactly a central thoroughfare, was busy tonight. Teenagers, Dudley and his friends, had been driving up and down it all night. Having fun. Carefree. Such was the privilege of getting a license.
Harry'd be fucking amazed if there were any mailboxes left come dawn.
Dudley and his friends, the Harry hunters, were out, having fun, and Sirius was dead.
Sirius was dead.
He clenched his gaze shut and felt his nostrils burn. The sheets were rumpled. He'd tossed them off hours ago when the deep, raw hole in his chest had gotten worse. It throbbed when he didn't pay it enough attention. He'd made the mistake of trying to sleep, and in that instant, when his guard was down, that cold control he'd maintained cracked.
Voldemort whispered in his mind. Bellatrix laughed.
It was the same every night.
It was his fault. He had been the fucking genius to lead his friends into danger. Ron, Hermione, Ginny, Luna, Neville…
Half the fucking Order.
Neville'd been hurt.
Ron'd had tentacles seared to his skull
Hermione had nearly been killed.
Sirius had been.
Voldemort had almost gotten the prophecy.
He'd lost his godfather, and it was his fault.
Harry sucked a deep breath in and clenched his eyes harder, concentrating on breathing, wiping his mind. Occlumency…what a crock of shit. He hated Snape. He hated him for holding a school grudge, for not teaching him, for not preventing this when he could have.
It couldn't happen again; it wouldn't.
Harry might not know what he was doing, but he'd make sure nothing like this ever happened again. He was done trusting Dumbledore. He was done trusting anyone. Not the Order. Not the Weasleys. Not himself. How could he? Voldemort had taken up semi-permanent residence in his head at night, and he hadn't yet figured out how to get rid of him.
But tonight was worse. Tonight he could practically hear them.
He couldn't see them. He couldn't even though he clenched his gaze shut and tried. But he could hear the remorseless laughter of Bellatrix. He could hear someone shouting for their family to run. There were accented voices, inhuman, high-pitched. They ended with a loud curse. The others were human sounding, but their screams…
They ended the same way.
His teeth gritted, face clenched in pain and agony. "Get out of my head," he choked, fisting a grip on his pillow, eyes watering from the daggering pain slicing his skull in two.
He could see them now. Rain and mud and blood. They were vague, dim blurs.
Voldemort was killing, and there was nothing he could do.
Behind him something popped.
Harry had precisely two seconds to react, and react he did.
At the loud pop of apparition he threw himself off the side of the bed, falling and snagging his wand in the process. His shoulder struck the floorboards hard, something cracking, and he would have groaned had his skull not already been throbbing, blurring his vision. He was in enough pain as it was.
The floor on the far side of the room creaked.
Harry threw his arm straight out and aimed underneath his bed, slashing a vicious line across the floor and hissing a tripping jinx to go with it.
There was a loud shout, but he didn't pay attention to it. In his skull there was still hissing, screaming…
He fired off two more spells, not sure what. Then he moved. Years of Death Eaters and assorted friends trying to kill him on top of Quidditch bludgers had taught him to never stay in one place too long.
Harry rolled and was on his knees, wand drawn and aimed, a stunning hex fired off at the approximate level of a grown man's groin before he registered that someone had shouted at him to stop.
Pity, because he was fairly certain Mundungus' genitals would never be the same.
Not to mention the man's knees. The wizard had gone limp, slamming straight down onto the bedroom floor, his kneecaps taking the brunt of the impact.
His head throbbed, his vision blurred, but he still managed to see Kingsley and Moody standing there with their wands drawn, Mundungus on the ground, and some nameless witch he vaguely recognized crumpled against his closet door.
For a second nobody moved.
Then Kingsley bit back a chuckle.
Harry was in no mood for laughing. He got to his feet, damn gingerly – he'd hit his bedroom floor after all – but not once did he lower his wand. "Tell me two things that only Moody or Kingsley would know. Now."
Moody fixed him with a calculating, one-eyed look, as if he were a prize Doberman at a dog show. "Atta boy, Potter. Trust no one and sleep with your wand in a ready spot."
Harry said nothing. He kept a steely gaze and simply waited.
This time Kingsley didn't bother to bite back the chuckle, Harry feeling a surge of irritation that he found this amusing.
Regardless, the Auror calmly answered him. "Alastor here spent the better part of your fourth year locked in a trunk," he relayed, his hoop earring glinting in headlights as a car drove past, "and we threatened the Dursleys to treat you better this summer when you were dropped off."
It would do. He shifted his head towards Moody and arched an eyebrow. A sharp pain behind his eyes gave a harsh throb.
Moody scowled in Kingsley's direction. "Bring that up again Shacklebolt and I'll tell Potter here all about that time in Singapore."
He didn't even ask.
Moody lifted his eye patch and peered out from under it. "Barty Crouch stole my eye when he did that, Potter. Right out of its socket. Impersonator sullied my favorite dark arts detector and then my flask. I had to get new ones. Free of Death Eater filth and all." His gnarled hand snapped his eye patch back into place, then gave a flask attached to his hip a firm rap for emphasis.
Harry eyed it to make sure it was indeed new.
He lowered his wand, but didn't look any more amused than he had before. "What's going on?" he asked warily. "Unless it's a Weasley the Order hasn't exactly infiltrated my room."
Moody gave a terrifying smile. "Worried we'd catch ya up here with a girl, 'ay there Potter?"
Harry shot him a look. "Do I look like I've been busy chasing tail?"
This time Moody laughed, and it was more terrifying than his sharkish smile.
Harry was on edge. It wasn't every day he got woken up by a hoard of Order members that hadn't warned him they were coming.
Moody gave a stern nod, then glanced down at Mundungus and the witch. "We'll have to work on that whole 'identifying and not hexing civilians' thing when you become an Auror, Potter. Won't do to have you neutering the bystanders."
Right. Mundungus did have a disturbing scorch mark near his crotch.
He'd apologize later.
For now Harry grunted, brushing off his hands on his jeans. He was already dressed. He'd went to sleep every night since June fully clothed with his wand in hand, just in case. "Or," he'd dryly said, "just spitballing here, someone teaches Mundungus how to cast a shield charm."
Kingsley shot the unconscious man a long look. "I have it on good authority he knows how to. But seeing it executed under duress is another matter."
"Uh huh," Harry said, disinterested. "Who's that?" He nodded towards the witch.
At this Moody actually grinned, from ear to ear, and it looked terrifyingly like a Great White shark on the prowl. "Tonks, in one of her many personas."
Kinglsey grunted affirmation, casting an annoyed look down at his protégé. "Believe she named this one Phelony Pierce, on account of all her piercings and prison tattoos."
"Get it?" Moody said. "Phelony felony?"
Taking a closer look Harry saw none. "Where-"
"Believe me, Potter," Moody's grizzled voice erupted, "you don't want to know. Neither did we, but she told us anyway. And believe me, you do not want to know."
Kingsley cleared his throat uncomfortably.
Harry winced. "Right."
And that was when he noticed; Tonks pants were covered in blood and mud, from the knees down.
Harry's eyes shot up, and with an instant roar of upset any vestiges of Voldemort within his mind were blasted straight out. His eyes cleared. "What's happened?"
The two exchanged a look.
"There's been attacks, Potter," Moody growled.
Out in the hall his Uncle Vernon began to shout, the walls shaking as the man stormed towards his door, and it occurred to Harry far too late that they'd woken him up.
With a contemptuous wand flick Kingsley locked it right as the door knob began to turn, a loud thud following as his uncle ran headlong into it.
Moody ignored this. He stalked forward, peg thumping loud on the floor. "Half-breeds and creatures, Potter. He's hunting them down. Anyone with non-human blood in them...he wants to use them."
"And instead he's killing them," Kingsley growled.
"Or taking them. That last Death Eater we found skulking about your aunt and uncle's Harry, about a fortnight ago…he wasn't a vamp but he still somehow had fangs."
Harry felt a cold chill up his spine. There'd been a Death Eater. Here. No one had told him. It took him a long time to respond. Finally...
"I wouldn't know anything about that," he said bitingly. "Not like anyone filled me in."
Moody's expression creased, his brow drawing deep over his eyes. "Potter, what do yer mean no one's told you?"
He scoffed, words damn derisive. "What do you think?"
Kingsley's expression grew stiff. "I see."
A deep growl resonated from Moody's chest. "We assumed you'd been told, given things, Potter. Seems we're overdue for a chat with the powers that be. Least you were ready for it." Mad Eye nodded towards the state of the room and unconscious bodies, before swiveling his fake eye back onto him. Harry didn't have to ask. He grasped it. He'd been ready for attack, so they'd assumed that Dumbledore of all people had prepared him.
Once more a slow burning anger rose up in him. At Snape. At the Order. At Dumbledore. They never told him anything when it could actually make a difference. He'd been on his own, since day one, and the only people to ever stand truly by him he'd gotten killed or hurt.
There'd been repercussions from the battle at the Department of Mysteries. Of course there had. How could there not when the Minister of Magic had laid eyes on Dark-Lord-Fucking-Riddle in the flesh?
The first was the impeachment trial. Someone with a brain at the Ministry had finally decided to try to oust Fudge. That was still underway, but hell...it'd be nice to get Fudge's ass out.
The other was that the Decree for the Restriction of Underage Wizardry was gone. Dumbledore had headed up that motion. The Supreme Mugwump had argued that the return of Voldemort endangered witches and wizards of all ages, and that in the event of attack students should be free to defend themselves without fear of reprisal.
So Harry had taken advantage. In spades. He'd been practicing, using a book that Hermione had sent him 'against her better judgement', but he was done being everyone's pawn and Dumbledore's fucking puppet.
Hell, Harry'd even taken out a subscription to the Quibbler. It'd be a cold day in hell before he dropped so much as a sickle on the Prophet. But every day the Quibbler brought news of more killings, more unexplained disappearances, and of more war. Once he read around the typical lunacy that Luna's father liked to weave in, it was obvious that the Ministry was in absolute mayhem. Harry didn't mind that. It made Fudge's job harder.
But right now he was still processing what they'd told him. He half wanted to ask why they were freely sharing information, but he wasn't about to remind them that the Order had a long history of keeping students in the dark.
So instead he thought it through.
Death Eaters were going after partial species.
He felt a stab of panic inside. "Hagrid?" he asked, voice suddenly a lot younger.
"He's fine, Potter. We got him and the others to safety."
"The Delacours. The Flitwicks. Rolanda was already at Hogwarts prepping the pitch. Bill Weasley and Lupin refused but-"
Harry's mouth opened before he could stop himself. "Bill isn't a-"
"No," Moody practically growled, "but he was attacked last month, Potter. Wolf that bit him – man named Greyback - wasn't turned but it did a number. Bill adopted some of the traits, got stronger, bitier. That kind of thing will make him valuable to someone like him."
Harry compartmentalized. He shut his emotions down. They were fine. They were all fine.
He nodded, then glanced around. "I assume you're moving me then? You wouldn't be here if you weren't."
"Right in one, Harry," Kingsley said, turning and giving a flap of his maroon cloak.
He frowned. "But why? You're weeks early."
Moody had thud-thudded his way over to Mundungus, titching his wand in the general direction of the man's abdomen. "Like we said, Potter. There were attacks. Ennervate. Lot of cross species were taken, particularly students. Figured Voldemort might use it to distract the Order so he could get to you."
Harry stood there, in the center of his unlit room, and felt a heavy weight crushing down on him.
Voldemort had taken students. The Order hadn't gotten there in time.
When he finally spoke his voice was hollow, heavy. "How many?"
Mundungus let out a groan, rolling over and clutching his crotch. Moody stepped callously over him and grunted, "Twenty nine. That we know of."
The space by his closet lit up in a flash, Kingsley enervating Tonks.
The metamorphmagus let out a quiet groan, reaching up to rub at her eyes as she squirmed. "Merlin Harry," she grumbled, "you're one helluva welcome party."
Then Tonks stretched out, like a cat sprawled out across his floor, her shirt catching on a ring on her hand and tugging her shirt all the way to her chin before she noticed.
And that was how Harry Potter found out that Nymphadora Tonks did not wear bras.
And also where that piercing was.
Author's Note: Chapters 10-20 are still being re-written.
For those of you who are new to the story, chapters 1-25 were originally written two decades ago in my teenage years. Due to nostalgia I came back years later to finish this, and was somewhat horrified at the original writing quality so I've been playing 'axe the lesser quality' sections and rewriting those. That is a long, long process.
You'll see different segments of the story written in different styles and that's because in order to get decent at writing, you have to experiment a little. I did exactly that. I'm also horrified at some of those styles so once it's all rewritten it'll be more consistent. I hope...
For those waiting for new chapters, I apologize for the update delay. I am volunteer EMS and SAR (search and rescue for you civie folks) and work in public health...during a pandemic. Free time for writing has been somewhat non-existent. Additionally, revising is a long process. Revising 1-10 alone was around 120,000 words. I anticipate regular weekly/bi-weekly updates beginning again sometime in February.
Thank you in the extreme to Nauze, SammyBlueGA, NataS666, drscot and acekiller157 for your help on revisions, letting me bounce ideas off of you, and for your sick and twisted willingness to re-read 105,000 words of things you'd already read to help out. Seriously, I knew you lot were into pain, but being willing to reread things at 4 am while I agonize over whether or not to blow up the train or simply toss sleeping gas into it amidst a Jar-Jar discussion brings that meaning to a whole new level.
An extra thank you to SammyBlueGA, who has been beta reading these revised chapters. Not all beta read versions are posted yet, but they will be over the course of the next few weeks/months. I owe them a fruit basket.
Last but not least, if it weren't for Nauze this would have been taken down and deleted a long time ago. They rock on multiple levels.
As of January 2020 chapters 1-20 have been beta-read a bit more (but not all rewritten). Chapters 1-6 were completely re-written with new plot elements and additions added. Chapters 10-24 are still undergoing heavy, heavy edits. We DO have a beta reader (two of them actually SammyBlueGA and Nauze thank you!) but the beta read versions are not yet posted. Bear with me...