Thanks for all the reviews on the last chapter. Now onward with the story!
Once the girl had mentioned the name Dumbledore both James and he looked towards the hut. They'd heard all about the late Headmaster of Hogwarts, but they knew very little about his younger brother besides the fact that he existed. Albus recalled hearing some of the adults in the Order worrying over the old man, although others called Aberforth Dumbledore a fool for remaining in the United Kingdom after the flight of the Order.
An old, gruff-looking man emerged from the stone cottage. So this man was Aberforth Dumbledore. He didn't look a lot like the pictures he'd seen of his namesake, but the old man did have the same blue eyes as the late Headmaster. Upon seeing the two boys sitting in a pile of hay Mr. Dumbledore raised his busy eyebrows. It would have been funny, except that the man looked terrified. "Josie, get them inside," he hissed. "Now!"
The little girl ran back to Albus and his brother and tried to pull them onto their feet. However, she must not have been very strong because she couldn't even lift him off the ground. "Come on!" she said. "Get up!"
Jamie and he sat there staring at the somewhat pathetic display. Mr. Dumbledore, though, seemed to have had enough of it, for he marched over to the two brothers and picked them both up by the scruffs of their necks.
"Hey!" shouted Jamie.
"Ow! Ow!" whined Albus. Despite his age Mr. Dumbledore could certainly push them around.
"Shut up," seethed the old man. The little girl held the door open for them as Aberforth Dumbledore shoved them inside. He proceeded to drop them unceremoniously onto the floor, shut the door, and padlock it several times. Finally he turned to the two of them. "What the hell do you two think you are doing?" he hollered. "You're just as bad as the rest of your family."
"You know us?" asked Jamie. Albus was just as surprised as his older brother.
"Anyone could take one look at you both and tell that you're Weasleys!" Mr. Dumbledore snapped.
"Actually we're Longbottoms," interrupted Albus. He'd always been proud to call himself a Longbottom. It was something that distinguished him and his brother from all the rest of their red-headed cousins. "Mum was a Weasley, though."
"I don't care," retorted the old man. Their mum hadn't been kidding when she'd said that Aberforth Dumbledore was very brash. Mr. Dumbledore began to pace back and forth. "It doesn't matter what you last name is or how you're related to the Weasleys. As long as you look like one everyone will call you that. Now tell me how you fell into my goat pen."
Jamie told him an abridged version of their adventures- he was rather generous with the terms borrowed and followed for curiosity's sake- to which the old man frowned, but the little girl looked on with eyes full of wonder.
"So I guess we must have been hit by a stray spell," finished Jamie. "And that's all that happened. We've got to go now, but it was nice meeting you both."
"You can't just go like that!" exclaimed the little girl, her blue eyes now wide with fright.
"But our mum and dad are waiting for us," replied Albus. He smiled at the girl. "We have to go."
Mr. Dumbledore opened one of the shutters slightly and pointed outside. "Do you see what's happening out there?" he inquired.
Jamie and Albus walked over to the window and peaked outside. He immediately felt his stomach tie in knots. The street outside was full of Death Eaters marching from door to door and searching yards. "They're everywhere!" he heard his brother proclaim.
"And they won't be leaving any time soon thanks to the Order," grumbled Aberforth. He closed the shutters once more. "It would be suicide going out there.
"Then how do we get home?" questioned Albus frantically. This had not been part of the plan. He ran a hand through his messy red hair.
"You don't," answered Mr. Dumbledore simply. "There's no way out of here now, so you two will have to adjust to it unless you want to get caught."
Albus felt his world slip out from under his feet. He'd never see his family again. Never again would he walk along the beach outside of Uncle Bill's cottage or play in the ocean waves. He should have told Jamie no to this disastrous scheme from the very beginning. Glaring at his brother Albus said, "This is entirely you fault."
"My fault?!" responded Jamie. He crossed his arms and glared back. "I didn't lose control of the broom!"
"Because you can't even control one in the first place!" spat Albus. "Now look at what your fantasies have done now, Jamie! Do you feel like a hero now? Do you think that Mum and Dad would be proud of you?"
He saw that that last part had hurt his brother a lot, for angry tears began to form in Jamie's eyes. Albus didn't care, though. For once it felt good just to let his brother have it. He had not expected, however, that his brother would be angry enough to start a fight.
Jamie lunged at him, causing Albus to fall back on the floor. He began kicking at his brother to force him away, but Jamie continued barraging him with punched and scratches. Since that strategy failed, Albus resorted to an old tactic of his: he grabbed his brother's arm and bit him.
Jamie howled in pain, pulling his arm back. He used his other arm to catch Albus in a head lock. Albus struggled, trying to get away from his brother, but Jamie's grip remained firm. "Don't try to make this only about me!" yelled his brother. "It's your fault, too!"
Soon it was not only them but also Mr. Dumbledore yelling ("Be quiet you idiots!") while trying to separate the two brawling brothers. They all stopped as a sharp whistle sounded in the room. The little girl- whatever her name had been- stood on a chair, her forefinger and thumb in her mouth.
"Well, if you're all done wasting your energies," she said haughtily, her hands on her hips, "I think that I might have a solution."
Jamie and Albus scowled at each other but sat back down. Aberforth Dumbledore peeked through the shutters again. "Hurry up, then," he stated. "I'm sure someone noticed this squabble."
"Thank you," she acknowledged them. "What I am thinking is that they could leave the country with Ana. She just arrived today, but she should be returning to her teacher's house a week from now."
"Who'd Ana?" muttered Jamie while nursing a bleeding lip.
"Do you really think that she'd help them?" asked Mr. Dumbledore warily.
"She's perfectly friendly, Mr. Dumbledore," replied the little girl with a laugh. It was a very nice laugh, the kind that sounded like the jingling of bells. "I know you don't trust her, but you don't know her very well. I do, and I can say that she'll take them along when she leaves."
"But they'll have to go up to the school," argued Aberforth, jerking a thumb at Albus and his brother. He could already see Jamie's eyes light up in excitement. His brother really didn't know when to give it a rest when it came to his passions.
"I'll take them through the secret passageway and they can stay in the room there," responded the little girl. She hopped down from the stool. "No one besides Ana and I have used it since the Rebels left the UK. They won't think twice about checking it."
Mr. Dumbledore looked at her and at the two brothers long and hard under his bushy eyebrows. He finally sighed and gave a shrug. "I suppose it is their best bet of getting out of the country alive," he admitted. "It's up to them to decide if they want to risk it."
The little girl looked at them expectantly. "Well?" she inquired.
Jamie stood up. "I'm in!" he exclaimed.
"It's better than just staying here forever," agreed Albus. He pushed himself off of the floor. "Let's go."
Mr. Dumbledore looked at a portrait hanging over the mantelpiece. "You heard them," he said. "Lead them up to the school."
The girl in the portrait smiled and began walking further back into her frame, her auburn hair swinging behind her. She almost appeared to disappear into the scenery as she continued along her way. To Albus' amazement the portrait swung open to reveal a tunnel once the girl disappeared completely from view.
The little girl climbed onto a table and then pushed herself onto the mantel piece. "Come on!" she called to them. She climbed inside, and Albus saw her yellow hair disappear into the darkness of the tunnel. Jamie followed right after her. Albus was having a little trouble reaching the mantel piece- both he and his brother had been cursed with short genes from their mum's side of the family- but he felt a hand help him up. Jamie looked away bashfully as he pulled his brother inside.
"Sorry about all of this," he apologized. His ears turned a bright shade of red.
Now Albus felt bad. There was no satisfaction in being mad at someone when they expressed remorse. "Don't mention it," he mumbled. "I was being stupid, too."
"Stop standing there and get going!" demanded Aberforth Dumbledore. "I don't need Death Eaters coming in here and seeing the two of you now. They'll be here any minute, so leave quickly!"
"Sorry!" they both called back. Jamie nodded at him and then ran off after the little girl.
Albus turned back for a moment before doing the same. "Mr. Dumbledore?" he asked.
"What now?" griped the old man.
"Thanks for helping us," responded Albus. He gave the old man a little wave before turning back around and running after his brother. The portrait door swung close behind him, enveloping the tunnel in complete darkness.
"So where in the school does this passage lead to?" Albus inquired. He had to run to catch up with his brother and the little girl. The mention of them taking even a few steps inside Hogwarts seemed to have lit a fire in his older brother's soul, making him to walk much faster than usual. "You mentioned a room abandoned by some rebels."
The blonde girl looked back at them. "It's a room that only appears if you know what you're looking for," she replied. "I found it one day when I was looking for somewhere to hide from Alecto Carrow. She's a nasty woman, probably the meanest one I know. She's a Death Eater, so don't go looking for her."
"Yeah, our parents have mentioned Alecto Carrow," said James. "Doesn't she have a brother?"
"She does," affirmed the girl. "Amycus Carrow. Apparently something happened at the end of his first year teaching here. All I know is that it involved attempting to banish the resident poltergeist, Peeves, but he did something wrong. Some people say he saw into the afterlife and what waited him there, but most people think that's rubbish. All that matter is that he fell into a coma for seven years and then died."
"That sounds absurd," commented Albus. Amycus Carrow hadn't seemed weak-of-spirit in any of his parents' stories. "Wasn't he a Death Eater, too?"
The little girl stopped to look back at them. "There are some things that even Death Eaters are afraid of," she responded. "I suppose it must have been something pretty terrible."
They walked along in silence after that, the passage still sloping slightly upward. The darkness pressed in around them, making Albus rather uncomfortable. He reached out a hand to touch the closest wall. His older brother finally felt the need to break the silence. "So we're just to stay in the Room of Requirements, right?" asked Jamie.
"The Room of Requirements" inquired the girl. Albus could just make out her eyes widening in the darkness. "Is that what this room is called?"
Albus thought back on how the girl had described the room. He hadn't heard her mention it by any specific name, but now that he thought about it he felt rather silly. Normally he noticed these kinds of things way before Jamie. "Oh yeah!" he exclaimed. "Mum and Dad have mentioned the Room of Requirement before. And those rebels you mentioned must be the D.A."
"Do you know the rebels?" questioned the girl, her dark blue eyes becoming wider if at all possible.
"Well, we live with a lot of them on a daily basis," stated James nonchalantly. And now his brother was now trying to show off. It was so typical of him. Albus rolled his eyes.
"Wow," breathed the girl. "So they did escape. From all anyone here knew they just disappeared. I thought the Order might have just given up and settled outside of England."
"That's pretty much what happened," stated Albus. "Of course it wasn't so much them-"
"They didn't just give up!" argued James indignantly. Of course this comment would be the one thing that would make his brother hot-blooded. It was almost as if they'd switched personalities for a little bit. Perhaps they'd obtained a little more damage than they'd thought when they'd fallen off their broom. "They've got plans! That's why they were out there today!"
"Sorry," pouted Josie. She cast her eyes downwards. "I didn't mean to offend you. I really just didn't know. It's not like the Death Eaters are actively advocating for your side of the war."
Once again they stopped talking, choosing to walk along in an uncomfortable silence. James seemed to be silently fuming while the girl looked extremely embarrassed. Albus felt rather bad about this. It wasn't as if she'd known how sensitive his brother was about the Order. He wracked his brain trying to think of something to say to get all of them off this awkward footing. "So… Mr. Dumbledore called you 'Josie' earlier," he began. "Is that your name?"
The girl's mood brightened considerably, and she smiled at him. It was a very nice smile. "That's right," replied the girl. "It's short for Josephine. Josephine Elizabeth Saulsbury. That's a mouthful, though, so you can call me Josie just like everyone else."
"Right," said Albus. A glance back told him that Jamie still wasn't opening up. "That brooding one is my older brother Jamie. I'm Albus."
Josie gasped. "Like Mr. Dumbledore's brother?"
"Y-yes," stammered Albus. Jamie glowered at him, now angry about his 'boring name.' Well, wasn't this just great. "Jamie is named after Harry Potter's dad. Harry was a friend of our family."
She looked back at James, her mouth hanging open like a codfish. "That's so cool!" she exclaimed. "You both are so lucky! I wish I had a cool name like that."
This comment cheered his brother up quickly, just as Albus had expected. "So how close are we to the school?" asked Jamie.
"We're nearly there now," answered Josie. "Just a few more meters…"
In no time they were facing an ancient looking wooden door. Josie opened it a crack to peek inside. "Empty as always."
She swung the door open wide and walked inside. The Room of Requirement was a massive stone hall decorated only with a small painting on one wall next to a large wooden door and three banners on another wall: one red, one yellow, and one blue. He knew the emblems on the banners too well.
"Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, and Ravenclaw," mumble Jamie. His brother probably would have tripped over the door frame if Albus hadn't reached out to stop him from blindly walking inside. "Where are the hammocks?"
Josie had gone ahead of them into the room and now stood on a wooden platform that served as some kind of foyer to the outside world. "Hammocks?" she questioned. "Oh, they must have vanished after the rebels left. The Room only provides things that you ask for. Since there was no one here asking for hammocks the Room didn't make any. You guys might want them since you'll be staying here for a little while."
Josie climbed down a ladder to the ground, Albus following right after her. "What do we do now?" asked Al.
"Wait here," stated Josie authoritatively. "I'm going to find Ana. It may take a little while, so don't get anxious."
Albus looked at his brother, who rolled his eyes. "We're not going anywhere," said James. "It's not like we could without getting caught anyways."
"Okay," replied Josie. "Don't do anything stupid.
"We won't," Jamie and Al groaned in unison. She seemed to be more than a little high strung. Maybe this was what Hermione was like in her first year if Uncles Fred and George's stories were anything to go by.
She walked over to the other door. Josie reached out to open it, but surprisingly the door opened itself. Albus jumped in his spot and saw his brother turn pale as a sheet. Josie shrieked and staggered backwards due to the shock. However, no Death Eaters came into the room.
In walked- well, rather stormed- a teenage girl with brown curly hair spiraling down most of her back. It looked a little singed at the edges. The rest of the girl didn't look much better. Several holes in her black dress, not to mention the many scrapes and bruises on her face and arms spoke of some sort of fight. These marks seemed to pale in comparison with the bloodied bandage on her knee. The wounds, however, didn't seem to bother her for she kicked the door close with surprising force. It caused the small painting on the adjacent wall to fall off. Without thinking Albus picked it up and clutched it for dear life.
"Ana!" cried out Josie, a bit of color coming back to her face. "What happened to you?"
"I don't want to talk about it, Josie," spat the older girl, glaring daggers at Josie. "Just get out of here."
"But-" protested Josie.
"Get out!" yelled Ana. If this first impression was supposed to be a good one, then Albus was ready to swim back to France. Jamie seemed to have the same thoughts and started moving towards the ladder.
Josie's eyes began to well up with tears. "No!" she shouted back at the older girl. "You're going to listen to me, Ana!"
"Why should I?" challenged the brunette. "You could just go off down that secret passage of yours and bother Mr. Dumbledore or some other person who might bloody give a-"
At that moment Jamie knocked into the ladder, causing it to clatter to the floor. Both girls stopped shouting and looked in Albus and Jamie's direction. His older brother chuckled sheepishly while rubbing the back of his head. Albus hid his blushing face behind the portrait so that the girls wouldn't pay him any mind.
"Nice going," grumbled Al.
Ana turned her icy blue eyes back to Josie. "Who are they?" she questioned accusingly.
"The one who knocked over the ladder is Jamie, and the other one is Albus," explained Josie. "As I was going to say earlier they need your help!"
"Why?" inquired the girl. "You didn't turn Aberforth Dumbledore's goats into people now, did you?"
"No!" blurted Josie. She seemed extremely flustered now. "They fell into Mr. Dumbledore's goat pen-"
"Might as well be goats," drawled Ana. She stretched her arms over her head and started walking back to the door. "This is a waste of my time…"
"Please listen!" begged Josie. "They're from the continent!"
"The continent?" asked Ana. She turned back suddenly interested. "What are they doing here then?"
"They were out flying and fell into the goat pen!" exclaimed Josie. She crossed her arms in front of her chest. "If you would stop interrupting me, then it would have been clear in the first place!"
"Alright, alright. Cool your cauldron," stated Ana. Josie turned away from her. "Merlin! There's no need to get your wand all tied up in a knot. What do you want me to do about it anyways?"
"Well, they won't be able to get out of here even if they were invisible again," said Josie. "So I was wondering if you could please take them back to the continent when leave next week."
"What?" questioned the older girl. She looked over at his brother and him skeptically. "I'd have to change them into newts or something. Weasleys aren't exactly inconspicuous."
"How does everyone know that we're Weasleys?!" cried out Jamie.
"You aren't turning me into a newt!" retorted Albus, holding the painting in front of him as a shield. It wasn't a bad choice, for the painting appeared to be one of some kind of armored castle, if it really could be called a castle. Albus wanted to look at it more, but told himself not to give into his eleven-year-old inquisitive mind and focus on the problem before him.
"A cat then," remarked Ana with a lazy wave of her hand. "Besides, I can't take them."
Josie's face went from angry to sad to very surprised in a matter of seconds. "Why not?" she asked.
"Because that would require me to leave Hogwarts," replied Ana. The older girl's eyes seemed to glare angrily at nothing in particular. "And this year I am not going."
Albus looked nervously at his older brother. If this Ana girl wasn't leaving the country, then how were they supposed to get home?
Josie appeared torn between immense disappointment and elation. "You aren't going back to Mr. Salem's house?" she questioned in a rush. "That's wonderful! I mean, that isn't. We can do so much together this year! You haven't been home this long ever! But how will Albus and Jamie get home?"
Ana rolled her eyes at the younger girl. "Calm down."
Josie then became rather contemplative. "But why?" she inquired. "Why are you staying this year?"
"Well, with the spectacular show that the Order of the Phoenix put on this morning, Professor Snape has determined that it is too dangerous to fly a long distance," elaborated Ana. "There are a couple other forces acting behind this too, like the Board of Governors and the Ministry of Magic, not to mention other facts. But mainly since the Order is on the move again there's a blanket order preventing wizards and witches from travelling to the continent. Thus, I am to remain here and enroll for the year just like the usual rabble."
The younger girl shook her head at Ana. "Very dramatic," she ticked. "That still doesn't answer my question about Albus and James."
Ana looked at them silently for a long time. Both of Albus and his brother shuffled uncomfortably under her gaze. At least in his opinion, Albus thought there was something very familiar about those icy blue eyes and the lazy mannerisms of the older girl. "I suppose they could become part of the rabble…" trailed Ana.
It took a moment for the words to sink in. "Are you saying we should enroll in the school?" asked Albus slowly. His brother began shaking next to him, whether it was because of nerves or excitement he wasn't sure. Still, it was never a good sign.
"You can't get out of here without setting off a caterwauling charm," defended Ana. She shrugged. "And right now I'm all out of other ideas. It will give us some time to figure out how to get you at least out of the immediate vicinity."
"We're going to Hogwarts," muttered Jamie, his legs still twitching. "We're going to Hogwarts, and we're going to learn magic."
Merlin, they really were in trouble now was all that Albus could think. He had to admit, it would be cool to learn magic and see one of the places where his parents grew up. It seemed really risky, though. Josie seemed to agree with his thoughts.
"Isn't it safer for them to stay in here?" argued Josie. "They'll be recognized as outsiders if they set one toe out of this room!"
It was a very good point. They'd been called Weasleys twice by strangers today. Jamie and he would stick out like sore thumbs.
"Someone could try to access this room and see them," retorted Ana. "I know you think it's 'really safe', but it isn't. I proved it by walking in here earlier. Plus, the house elves like to use some of the other forms of this room, and they can't get in here if those two are. Also, they like to wander off and get in trouble."
"We do not!" shouted Albus, his ears turning red.
"Then why are you here right now?" asked Ana. She raised an eyebrow at him, but all he could do was turn redder in the face. "I thought as much. Now as for them being too recognizable, I can fix that…"
At that statement, Albus really wanted to climb back up into the tunnel and find Mr. Dumbledore. Anything seemed better than trusting the brunette witch with the smirk on her face and mischievous glint in her eyes. He knew, though, that they didn't have a choice.
I felt it was best to address some questions here. First, I must apologize about a big error I made at the beginning of the story. Shell Cottage is in Cornwall. The Polka-Dotted Sock and I were convinced it was in France. Thanks for correcting us! I will go back and fix that detail later, but just for the record Jamie and Al live in France, just not in Shell Cottage. Second, Alastor is the youngest son of Lupin and Tonks in this universe. Now that the main characters are in the UK the story should pick up pace, so the Howl's Moving Castle aspect of the story will start weaving in.