Chapter 17 - 2
Hermione - 2nd part
“When should we inform the D.A. members ?” Hermione asked the next day as she entered Harry’s room.
“We’ll wait till after the meeting of the Order”, Harry replied. “And we must first be sure that the mirror is really the fifth Horcrux. It’s useless to alert them too early, it would only create panic all over the school, don't you think so ?”
“Right. But you are sure that it’s the fifth Horcrux ?”, asked Ron.
“Yes, as for that, I’m quite sure. I’ve seen the same scene again and again.”
“It all relies on you”, said Hermione.
“I consider persuading Ginny to remain behind, in the school” Harry said. Voldemort is too much interested in her, she might jeopardize our plans, and I rely on you to convince her, Ron.”
“Yes, you are right”.
“We’ll again study our map of Gloucester. I’ve bought four copies, in case we should distribute them to the others. The scale of the map is one upon two hundred thousand, which means one centimetre on the map is equivalent to two kilometres in reality.”
“We’ll take our lunch here with you, Harry ! I wish we could have our last lunch together’, said Hermione … ‘before the final battle’, she added hastily as if suddenly she feared that the word ‘last lunch’ might bring bad luck.
“Yes, I’ll ask Dobby, said Harry, looking inquiringly at Hermione. ‘What’s the matter ? Something’s wrong ? Do you want to postpone our operation for a few days ?”
“No, it’s nothing the matter. Come what may. It’s no use postponing till another day. The faster it ends, the better it will be”
The three friends took their lunch together, while discussing and verifying what they had to do first.
“It’s time for us to go to the meeting”, said Harry.
And the three friends set off for the mirror room. Harry didn’t wear his Invisibility Cloak. There was no need for him now. All the members of the Order were there already, except for McGonagall who arrived running behind the three of them.
A long table was laid in the middle of the room, the windows were wide open flooding the whole room with a bright sun light.
‘It’s very well’, Harry thought.
Mr Weasley greeted the three friends and gave each of them a Misleading Cloak. They put on at once their new cloak, and took place at the table. There were Mrs Weasley, Bill, Fred, Georges and also Charlie who happened to be on holiday at the Burrrow (‘Ron’s whole family except Percy’, thought Harry), Moody, Shaklebolt, Aberforth, Hagrid, Tonks, Lupin and about twenty other members.
“We have our Misleading Cloaks too, Molly and I”, said Mr Weasley, smiling. “The other members haven’t got it yet. The Order gave us that priority”.
‘It fits him well’, Harry thought. It dropped down half the calves, in the ways of Muggle cloak, that made him look younger.
“It’s normal”, said Aberforth, then turning to Harry, he went on: “You’ve convened us for an exceptional meeting, and here we are.”
Harry got up.
“Good afternoon to you all, and thank you for answering my call. I think and I’m persuaded that the mission Professor Dumbledore had assigned to me before his death comes to its end. But to have a clear confirmation I still have to do a last test. Then he withdrew his wand and with a smooth wave of his hand he pointed it straight at the mirror which broke neatly into two parts, releasing a wisp of dark smoke that took shape clearly in the bright sun lit room. A silver thimble fell down from nowhere and rolled on the floor.
Ron and Hermione let out a sigh of relief.
McGonagall, on the contrary, burst out “Potter!” rather out of exasperation.
Without paying attention to McGonagall, Harry pointed his wand right at the smoke wisp and shouted in a firm and clear voice: ‘Avada Kedavra’. A dazzling green flash darted out from Harry’s wand tip, struck right in the middle of the smoke, which broke into pieces and melted away in thin air.
“My test just confirmed my supposition. So, my mission comes to its end. We should now go and see Voldemort. I’ve been watching out the comings and goings of his snake for over a month now. During the day, it lazes about near its master, and at about five o’clock in the afternoon, it goes hunting.”
With a smooth wave of his wand, Harry pasted up on the wall the detailed Gloucester map, enlarging it ten times. Then Harry sent from his wand tip a small red ball to indicate the strategic places on the map along with his explanations.
“… Here is the Malfoys’ manor in Gloucester. But we must go farther, behind the manor, from this fork of the Seven. The scale of this enlarged map is one upon twenty thousand, so ten centimetres on the map correspond to two kilometres in reality. This distance from the Malfoys’ manor to the fork of the Seven is about … er …forty kilometres.”‘… It’s here the usual hunting area of Voldemort’s snake’, Harry continued, drawing a circle on the map with his red ball. ‘The three of us, Ron, Hermione and I, we’ll enter in the snake’s hunting area, while you’ll wait for us here’, said Harry marking a cross with his red ball, ‘out of the hunting area. Because, we should not arouse its suspicion, nor frighten it neither. And I must absolutely eliminate it before I could confront Voldemort. When we have killed it, Ron will send you his Patronus. It’s a Jack Russell, fast and more discreet than mine.”
“That’s for sure”, blurted out some of the members.
“At that moment, you’ll joint us” Harry went on. “We need your help, because we are going right into Voldemort’s den. He must be there, surrounded by all his servants. So, if you all could come along, you would not be too many. But, we cannot leave the school without surveillance. We have friends who would be ready to patrol all over the school, all through the afternoon and in the evening if need be. We also have about fifteen friends who are ready to join us in this operation.”
“As for the school”, said McGonagall, “I’ll leave Hagrid, his giant brother and the Professors who are not members of the Order. What about your friends ? How many are they ?”
“About fifteen. If you could call one of those Professors, so I could take him to my friends …. Hermione, could you please call them up ?” Harry added turning to Hermione.
Hermione took out her Magic Galleon and composed the date and time of the meeting.
“Go on, I’ll join you”, Harry said to Ron and Hermione.
McGonagall turned to a portrait on the wall and asked it to bring Professor Flitwick, her Deputy Headmaster.
Two minutes later, Professor Flitwick came in.
“Filius”, said McGonagall, “I must go out, and the Aurors who are on guard duty must accompany me too. During this time, could you, please, organize a non-stop watch all over the school, with the other professors and a group of about fifteen volunteers among the students. Hagrid and his brother may look after the ground and the gate. All the underground issues and the various strategic points, you already know. Now you go with Potter, he’ll take you to his friends.”
“You wait for me here, I’ll come back in five minutes with my friends”, said Harry to all the assembly.
All the D.A. members were there, in Harry’s room, when Harry and Professor Flitwich arrived.
“Those who want to join me, please, place yourselves here, on my right, I say only those who have got the Apparition Licence’, said Harry. The others, you’ll be at Professor Flitwick’s disposal. And remember that if you want to send messages between you, you could ask the portraits on the wall, it’s an efficient and quick communication way too”.
“Good Luck, Harry !”, said Gabrielle, with a small smile.
“Thank you, Gabrielle”, replied Harry.
Harry cast a round look over the members who wanted to accompany him and, of course, he saw Neville, Luna and Ginny.
“Where are we going ?” asked Neville.
“To Gloucester, far behind the Malfoys’ manor”, replied Ron.
“No, Ginny”, said Harry. ‘Surely Ron told you. I would like you to stay behind, in the school with the others, for many reasons, and Ron did agree with me. We discussed it at length, Ron and I, and I don’t want you to upset me today when I most need to have my mind free, I must concentrate on other things. Go and join the other group, please. It’s for your good as for mine too. Please !”’ And he gave Ginny a small kiss on each cheek.
“Go !, Ginny”, Ron said.
And Ginny stepped back to the other group, looking sulky, but said nothing.
And the elf appeared in front of Harry.
“Do you have the rabbit ?”
While Dobby went for the rabbit, the other D.A. members spoke among themselves, or asked Hermione and Ron for more details.
“Here’s the rabbit, Mr Potter’, said Dobby, giving Harry the rabbit in its basket.
“Brilliant ! Thank you, Dobby”, said Harry, kneeling down to be at the height of the elf, and then he spoke to him in a whisper: “I’ll go for a very dangerous mission, I hope I’ll come back, unscathed. But if ever I should die on my mission, you and Winky, you go and live with Hermione. She is the person I love most in this world, and you’ll tell her so for me. I’ll go into the forest behind the Malfoys’ manor. Good bye, Dobby’. And Harry gave Dobby two kisses on each cheek.
“Dobby will come with you, Mr Potter, and Dobby will die for you if need be.”
“No, you’ll serve Hermione, if ever I should not come back.”
“Dobby must obey Mr Potter”, Dobby replied with tears falling on his chest.
“Now, we must return to the reunion. Come on with me”, Harry said to his friends as he got up.
They ran to the reunion room.
“Here we are”, Harry said to the whole assembly. I leave you the map, and here are two more, if ever you need them. You’ll wait for us here, at the border of the hunting area, and wait for our signal.” Then he turned to the D.A. members, and added: “You’ll follow Professor McGonagall’s orders.”
The three friends went out of the room. Hermione took the basket from Harry’s hand. At the gate, they found Hagrid waiting for them.
“Good-bye, Hagrid”, the three friends said in a same and one voice.
“Good-bye, you three, and Good luck !”
“Thank you !” the three friends replied in chorus.
When they came beyond the castle’s boundaries, Harry turned to Hermione and hugged her tightly in his arms, so tightly that again he felt their two hearts beat in unisson at the same accelerated rate. He wanted to tell her that he loved her, but refrained from doing so.
Hermione just wept silently but said nothing, then she Apparated to conceal her turmoil.
Harry threw his arms over Ron’s shoulders, hugged him then took Ron’s hands in his: “If anything ever happens to me, you should know that you are my only and unique friend, Ron !”
“You too are my only and unique friend, Harry”, Ron replied. “Whatever may happen to us, bear in mind that Hermione loves you, it’s you she loves,” Ron added stoically.
“No, she loves you, and you love her, but we should not talk about that now, it’s not the proper moment … To Malfoy’s manor !” said Harry and he Apparated.
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