HP vs DoM


Hermione Granger woke to a rapping sound. She yawned, grumbling softly as she padded across her bedroom and opened her window. A barn owl fluttered inside and perched on her night table, a letter clutched in its talons.

Hermione waited a moment by the window, enjoying the breeze against her face, before following the creature. She murmured, “I don’t suppose this could have waited for morning?”

The owl chittered angrily, and she smiled as she retrieved the letter. “I guess not.”

She felt carefully for the flaps in the darkness, opening it slowly but without the slightest tearing – almost as if she were a spy sneaking a peek at someone else’s mail. She unfolded the letter, then frowned. “Blank?”

Hermione turned to the owl. “You traveled all this way just to give a blank letter? Well, I suppose it might not have been that far. Then again, I was in Scotland this morning and traveling for hours. Were you following me all that time, or did you just know that I would be here when you landed? I mean, really, how _do _owls track people?”

“Don’t overthink it. That’s the reason why we had to switch to owls in the first place.”

Hermione jumped, eye darting wildly around the room before settling on where I leaned against her windowsill.

“Harry! I didn’t see you there.”

I frowned. “Then who were you talking to?”

I think she raised an eyebrow, though it was difficult to be certain in the dark. “The owl, of course.”

“That’s crazy,” I said.

Hermione raised a hand, pointer finger extended and quite ready to argue with me. She lowered it, however, upon realizing that she could never win. “Speaking of crazy, what are you doing here?”

“I figured we should break into the Department of Mysteries.”

“Tonight?” she squeaked.

“The guard should be light, and there won’t be many witnesses. It’s as good a time as any.”

“So, when you said, ‘I’ll get you when the time is right,’ you meant tonight?”

I’m quite certain she raised an eyebrow that time.

I said, “Well, I wasn’t originally planning on it, but apparently the Dursleys moved. I realized that I didn’t have any place to sleep, so I decided not to. I’m thinking we’ll head out now, get into the Ministry before dawn, and then go grab breakfast.”

“Your family abandoned you?!” Trust Hermione to latch on to the least important part of my statement.

“They’ll probably be back in a few weeks, so obliviated that they occasionally forget how to breathe.”

She clapped her hands over her mouth, eyes wide. I legitimately have no idea why anyone thinks she cares about things. Her acting is atrocious. “That’s awful. Who would do that?”

“I dunno. Dumbledore? It’s usually Dumbledore. I could find them first, I suppose, if I really wanted to, but I just don’t like them that much. Now, about going to the Ministry…”

“Right, yes,” she mumbled. “How did you get here, anyway? I didn’t even know you had my address.”

“I don’t. I followed the owl.”

Hermione stood there for a moment, blinking. “You what?”

“It’s really simple, actually. You just write someone a letter, give it to an owl, and then fly behind them. The owl doesn’t care, and they’re more reliable than most tracking charms.”

“Oh. Is there a way to stop owls from finding you, then?”

I shrugged. “I suppose, but I don’t know why anyone would. You wouldn’t get your letters.”

“But, if you were a convicted felon, then people could find you this way.”

“Theoretically.”

“Like, Sirius Black,” she said, looking a bit desperate, “Surely he’s stopped owls from following him.”

“I don’t know why he would. He probably wants his letters, and I doubt he has a permanent address. That’s just begging to be caught.”

Hermione sighed heavily. “Are we getting Ron, then?”

“Oh, I’ve already got him. He’s under the cloak, outside your window.”

I paused for a moment, considering the situation. “He should probably take it off while we get on the broom, though. If you misjudged the distance and fell two stories, we’d probably have to delay our mission.”

She twisted her lips thoughtfully. “The broom? As in, only one?”

“Of course. How else would we stay under the cloak? Besides, you and I aren’t any good at flying, so it seems like the safest option.”


“Galloping Gargoyles, Ron, keep it steady!” I shouted.

“I can’t,” Ron whined. “There’s too much weight on it. I don’t think it’s supposed to hold more than one person.”

“If we die, it’s entirely your fault,” I informed him.

Hermione poked me in the ribs, saying firmly, “We are not going to die.”

I snorted. “Of course not. But, if we did, it would be Ron’s fault.”

“Why did we have to fly all the way to London, anyway?” Ron asked.

I rolled my eyes, though the effect was entirely lost since I was clinging to Ron’s back and Hermione had her face buried in mine. “Do you have any better ideas?”

“Yeah, sure I do. We could’ve taken the Knight Bus, or flooed, or talked Bill into apparating us. He’s visiting, and he wouldn’t have snitched –”

“Enough with your whining, Ron. Don’t make me regret not taking Ginevra in your place. It’s not like she didn’t offer.”

“Why didn’t you take her, then?” Hermione asked.

“She annoys me. Besides, she’s willing to cover for Ron and pretend to be him, if necessary. As slowly as this is going, I suspect it will be.”

Hermione’s arms suddenly tensed around me. “Oh, I am going to be in so much trouble.”

“What have you done this time?” I asked.

“Nothing,” she snapped. “Well, just this. But my parents don’t know that I’m out, and they’re bound to be upset.”

“Just tell them you had a surprise sleepover with Ron and me.”

She giggled, the motion causing an uncomfortable tickling sensations by my shoulder blades. “You want me to tell my parents that I snuck out of the house to stay the night with two teenage boys? I think I’d be better off telling them we were stealing a prophecy to defeat Lord Voldemort. At least then they’ll be too confused to be angry.”

“I think that’s London,” Ron interrupted, steering us downward.


After three hours of wandering the city and poking our heads into telephone booths, we found the entrance to the Ministry of Magic.

We gathered under the invisibility cloak before stepping inside the red box. Nothing happened for several seconds.

“Did we pick the wrong one again?” Hermione whispered.

I shook my head. “No, this has got to be it. One of us will have to get out and dial the number.”

Ron immediately shifted the cloak so that he could scramble to the phone. At our startled faces, he grinned. “I figure it’s a lot like being bait.”

He dialed 62442. A woman’s tinny voice said, “Welcome to the Ministry of Magic. Who is this?”

Ron returned to his usual oafish demeanor. “Erm…”

“Percy Weasley,” I shouted.

“What?” he squeaked.

“No one will notice the difference,” I assured him.

Hermione said, “I hardly think –”

“What is your business here today, Mr. Weasley?” the voice asked.

Ron snorted. “Probably brownnosing.”

“Thank you. Please take the badge and attach it to the front of your robes.”

He reached down, grabbed a chunky, silver badge from the chute, and burst into laughter.

“What is it?” Hermione asked.

Ron just shook his head, which had turned bright red. With trembling hands, he affixed the badge to his robes.

“Ron, I demand that you tell me what is so funny,” I said.

The redhead, still grinning, turned so that the badge faced us, it blocky letters easily legible. It read:

Percival Weasley

Meeting the Minister

Not entirely certain what was funny about that, I stayed silent. It was probably a Weasley thing.

The voice continued as we shuddered to a stop, “Visitor to the Ministry, you are required to submit to a search and present your wand for registration at the security desk, which is located at the far end of the Atrium.”

Ron nervously glanced around the Ministry’s hall. He muttered, “Uh, should I go to the security desk or…”

I replied, “That’s what the voice said.”

“But is it a good idea to just walk up to the guard with my badge saying I’m Percy?”

“Ron, trust me, no one will notice.”

His eyes darted around nervously. “But –”

“I’m sorry; I thought you were a Gryffindor. I guess the Hat just put you there because of your family.”

Ron immediately walked towards the security desk, head held very high. We scurried after him.

“That was a really low blow, Harry,” Hermione hissed.

“I know. It was brilliant.” I smirked at my own cleverness.

“There’s no way the guard will actually think he’s his brother.”

I chuckled, raising a hand towards the guard. “Confundus.”

The guard looked up suddenly, as if confused about where he was. He squinted at Ron’s badge. “Percy?”

“Yes,” Ron said stiffly. “Of course.”

“Kind of early for you to be here, isn’t it?”

“Well, you know me” – Ron let out a nervous chuckle – “I believe in punctuality. It’s really important to me.”

“Right, yes. I remember that,” the guard said. “Go on, then.”

Ron nodded, stomping away with us at his heels. He asked, “What just happened?”

“You witnessed me being right,” I told him.

“Harry confunded the guard” – Hermione paused for a moment – “Actually, how did you do that? We aren’t supposed to do magic over the summer.”

“They can only catch you if you use a wand.”

“You can do wandless magic?” Ron asked.

I said, “I can do lots of things. I’m Harry Potter.”

“Of course you are,” Hermione grumbled. “The Department of Mysteries is downstairs.”

I beamed, slapping her on the back. “I knew you would eventually admit to working there.”

“I’m not! There’s a map right there.” The cloak rustled as she flung her arm up to point.

“Sure it is, Hermione.”

“It’s right there. Just look at it. Ron, can you tell him?”

Ron frowned. “I don’t see it anywhere.”

“I’m pointing right at it,” she cried.

“You’re invisible,” he said.

Hermione blinked, earlier frustration fallen off her face. “Oh. Right. I am. We should probably just go downstairs.”


“…So if we just mark every door that we try,” Hermione explained, “we’ll know where to go when the room spins again.”

“We can’t mark the doors!” I cried, arms flung out so that the invisibility cloak temporarily obscured the walls. “People will know we’ve been here.”

Hermione pouted. “It would be a magical mark, obviously.”

“Like that would make any difference. This is the Department of Mysteries. They solve magical mysteries all the time.”

Ron frowned, mumbling, “Actually, I think they’re named that because –”

“Silence. Hermione, you’re being particularly unhelpful tonight. Do you want us to be caught?”

She pursed her lips in obvious guilt. “Of course not.”

“Are you sure? I know we’re breaking into your workplace –”

“It isn’t!”

“–but that doesn’t change the fact that you’re supposed to be pretending to be my friend, and selling out your friends to your coworkers is not okay.”

“I…” Hermione appeared lost, for once unable to come up with a clever lie. “I’m not even sure where to start in disputing that.”

“It’s not worth it, ‘Mione,” Ron said. “So, uh, what are we supposed to do if we don’t mark the doors, then?”

I flung my invisibility cloak over my shoulders. “Obviously, we open all the doors and never close them.”

“Oh. Alright then,” Ron said, turning the nearest doorknob like the Gryffindor he is.

We split up to open more doors in a shorter time. Behind the first was some sort of planetarium, and the second contained something which resembled Lucius’s hair. The third room held a pillar and curtain. Almost immediately, I decided that I hated it. It had been a while since that had happened, and I was resisting the urge to slam the door shut when Ron spoke.

“It’s kind of weird that they don’t let people see prophecies about them, if you ask me.”

I shrugged, still glaring at the curtain. I could feel a headache forming. “They might let you, actually. I never checked.”

“You mean that we didn’t need to break into the Ministry, at all?” Hermione asked, clearly unhappy about something. Perhaps she’d stumbled onto one of Dumbledore’s secret and no doubt insidious projects.

“I mean that I never checked. The way I see it, asking would do absolutely no good. If we don’t get caught, it doesn’t matter. If it’s not against the rules and we get caught, then we’ll all have a good laugh about it. If it is against the rules, however, then we made the right decision and asking someone would have just put them on guard.”

Hermione frowned. “I still think –”

“Bloody hell, are those brains?” Ron yelped.

“Enough, Ron. We’ll get you one on the way out.” I opened another door, absentmindedly casting a stunner on the creature inside.

“And we’ll grab Harry a heart,” Hermione said.

I furrowed my brow. “Why would I need one of those?”

“…Harry, you just made that joke,” Hermione said, looking distressed. “It hasn’t even been a minute.”

Seeing that I’d lost all interest in responding, the girl sighed and opened another door.


“What are the chances that the right door would be the very last one we tried?” I said.

Hermione frowned. “Hm. Twelve doors. So, one out of twelve times one out of eleven, so that’s –”

“I wasn’t actually asking. I was just complaining,” I clarified.

Ron took that as his cue. With a tired grin, he said, “Good. I can’t wait to be out of here.”

“I don’t know what you’ve got to whine about,” I said. “I’m the one who nearly drowned.”

His Weasley face reddened. “You dragged me under, too.”

“Only because you grabbed me.”

“I was trying to save you!”

“Well clearly you weren’t doing a very good job of it.”

Hermione snapped, “Stop fighting. We need to get the prophecy before the morning rush comes in and my parents realize that I snuck out.”

“Fine,” I muttered.

We stepped through the doorway, and looked up. And up. And over. And over some more at the seemingly endless rows of shelves holding silvery orbs.

“Bloody hell,” Ron said.

“How are we supposed to find anything in this?” Hermione fretted. “I don’t see a directory anywhere.”

“It might be alphabetical,” Ron said.

“Possibly, but by what? Would it be under Trelawney? Or Potter? Or maybe it landed under Voldemort’s name, and I don’t even know what that is…”

“Riddle,” I said.

“How do you know that?”

“I killed him.”

“That – okay, fine, that still doesn’t change the fact that there are thousands of orbs and several possible organizational structures…”

Ron laid a hand on her shoulder, laughing. “Hermione.”

“Y-yeah?” she asked, sounding somewhat dazed.

“Calm down. We’ll find it,” Ron said. “…Probably.”

“Right,” she mumbled, flushing with embarrassment at her panic.

I declared, “I’m already far ahead of you both.”

I raised a hand towards the looming rack of prophecies and said, “Accio the prophecy about Harry Potter.”

All was silent for a moment. Then there was a sudden crash and a guttural voice. Then another and another. Then a thousand extra crashes and voices joined them as an entire shelf hit the floor. At that point, I spotted my summoned orb flying through the shelf nearest us just as the shelf to its left fell atop it.

I grabbed Hermione’s arm, she grabbed Ron, and we all ran for it – my prophecy following close behind.

“Why did you do that?” Hermione cried.

“We didn’t have time to figure out how they were organized,” I said, pulling her and Ron into the hallway outside of the department.

“But you could have used a point-me spell or something.”

“I’m not sure if I can do that wandlessly,” I said. Also, I hadn’t thought of it, but that didn’t seem worthy of mention.

Hermione gripped my hand painfully, fingernails digging into my skin as we waited in the elevator. “You didn’t even check! You just destroyed the entire roomful of prophecies.”

“It was wicked,” Ron whispered.

“Thank you,” I said. We stepped from the elevator, confunding the night guard in passing.

“No, don’t you dare encourage him, Ron,” Hermione said. “This is not alright. We broke several laws tonight and destroyed irreplaceable objects, and we are going to be in so much trouble.”

“Not if you don’t tell your boss,” I said.

She growled low in her throat. “I don’t have a boss.”

“Then we’ll be fine,” I announced, pulling the broom from my pocket and unshrinking it.


“…but, due to good fortune and quick-thinking, we were able to escape with both the prophecy and no property damage,” Hermione finished, breathing a bit heavily to make up for the last several minutes of talking.

Her parents exchanged a glance. With a small nod at her husband, Mrs. Granger turned to Hermione. “Sweetie, if you have a boyfriend, you know you can tell us, right? We won’t be upset.”

Mr. Granger coughed.

“Well, maybe a little,” she amended.

Hermione blushed, sputtering, “I…I – I do not have a boyfriend. Harry doesn’t even understand what being a girl means, and Ron is…not my boyfriend. I was telling the truth, really. These things happen in the Wizarding World.”

“Is this what you do at school every year?” Mr. Granger asked, scowling.

“Well, not all the time,” Hermione muttered. “Usually we study.”

Ron said, “Well, you do.”

She elbowed him in the ribs. “But something like this happens every couple of months.”

“It’s slightly less often for the other houses,” I said.

Hermione asked, “How do you even know that?”

“Ginevra talks to them. Merlin knows why.” Also, I used to be a Slytherin, which is more about ancient secrets and politics.

“So all that tripe about a prophecy was true?” Mr. Granger asked.

“Yes,” Hermione said. “I wouldn’t have said it if it was a lie.”

I was completely certain that was a lie.

“And you believe whatever that crystal ball says?” he continued, gesturing towards the misty orb in my hands.

“Divination is a perfectly respectable subject,” I declared.

Hermione said, “We have differing opinions on that. What matters is that Voldemort thinks that the crystal ball is right, and it may possess information that will help us against him.”

Mr. Granger nodded sharply. “Has it, then?”

Hermione blinked. “What?”

“Given good information.”

“What does it say, hon?” Mrs. Granger prodded.

“Um…we haven’t exactly heard it yet,” Hermione said. “The wind was loud, and it was dark out, and Harry kept shouting that he was going to drop it.”

“Ron needed to be prepared so that he could catch it.”

Ron turned red, presumably with pride this time.

“We can listen to it now, I suppose,” Hermione mumbled. She glanced from her parents to Ron and me, then back again.

I said, “That was a cue for you two to leave.”

“No it wasn’t!” Hermione cried.

“Really? Because I was pretty sure this time.”

“I think you were right,” Ron said.

“Thank you Ron.”

“Just play it, please?” – after a moment, she repeated testily – “Please?

“You never told me how to do it,” I said.

“Fine. Tap it –”

“Of course you would know how because you’re a secret –”

She raised a hand to silence me, apparently not wanting her parents to know that their lives were a carefully constructed lie to support a deeply undercover Ministry worker. “Tap it with your wand.”

“Would that count as doing magic over the summer?” Ron asked.

“I’m not sure,” Hermione said.

“Ron, since you brought up such an important point, I award you the honor of playing the prophecy.”

“I’m not that dumb, mate.”

“I don’t carry my wand over the summer. So either you do it, or all of our deaths are your fault.”

“Your deaths?” Mrs. Granger asked weakly.

“Harry has a dark sense of humor,” Hermione said.

“Actually, I never joke. I mean everything I say,” I said.

Ron paled. “You what?”

“Kidding! I was kidding.” I wasn’t kidding.

Ron shakily tapped the orb with his wand, and it split into two halves, a wispy Sybil Trelawney peering at us from between them. She spoke in a deep, gravelly voice.

“The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches … born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies.”

I nodded. I knew that part.

“… and the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will be his own undoing … and either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives … the one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord will be born as the seventh month dies …”

“That’s great!” Ron said.

“What do you mean?” Mr. Granger asked, frowning.

“It says that You-Know-Who gets rid of himself. And Hermione thought we had to do it, too!”

Mrs. Granger said, “Um, sweetie…”

At the same moment, Hermione said, “Ron, that isn’t actually what it…”

The two shared a look, and, with a tip of the elder’s head, Hermione continued, “That’s not what it says. It says that ‘he shall be his own undoing.’ It never says that ‘he’ is Voldemort. It could just be Harry messing his own life up because he was acting like Harry. Or it might mean that Voldemort was his own undoing because he marked Harry as his equal, which means that Harry still has to be the one who defeats him.”

I growled in frustration. The prophecy might also consider us the same person (because we are). In that case, either of us is completely free to kill the other. “What’s the point of a prophecy if it doesn’t tell you exactly what to do?”

“No point, really,” Ron said.

“I think I hate Divination now.”

“I’ve hated it since third year,” Ron said.

“Usually I would say that all school topics have merit if you actually put in effort and try to learn,” Hermione said, “but Divination is just terrible.”

“Like Muggle Studies,” I agreed.

“Harry!” she shouted.

“It’s not bigoted if I’m talking about the class. Right, Mr. Granger?”

The man smiled. “I don’t know enough about the topic to say.”

“See, your Dad agrees with me. Why do you have to be such a terrible daughter, Hermione? Sneaking out of the house, lying, arguing with your poor father?”

Hermione pouted, and Mrs. Granger said, “You’re not a terrible daughter, but we are going to have a talk about this.”

“After my friends leave, right?” Hermione asked, eyes wide and deceptively innocent.

“Alright,” her mother agreed.

Hermione glanced in our direction, with some emotion or another.

“Well, I can tell when I’m not wanted,” I said. “Come on, Ron.”

Ron said, “Uh, I don’t think she really wants us to go.”

“No, she was pretty obvious about it. Besides, Ginevra has probably just finished playing herself and you during breakfast. She’s no doubt exhausted.”

Ron winced. “Right, yeah. Bye, ‘Mione.”

“Bye Ron,” she sighed, staring miserably at her parents. Maybe Ron was right after all. There’s a first time for everything, I suppose.


I was under attack.

“Get off of me!” I cried, shaking my body in the hopes of dislodging the arms wrapped around it. But her grip was too solid.

“Nice to see you, too, Harry,” Hermione said and released me from her hug.

I rubbed at my arms in an attempt to disrupt the continued sensation of touch. Warily, I glanced around Hermione’s bedroom. Her mother had shown a similar tendency towards unwarranted bodily assaults.

“Do you have to do that every time?” I demanded. “It’s only been a week.”

She pinched her lips, head raised haughtily. “I was worried about you, you prat. You didn’t say goodbye, you didn’t take your trunk, and – when I tried to send an owl – it got confused and kept circling back. Then, I sent a letter to Ron and found out that he hadn’t seen you since you left to visit me. Where have you been?”

“In the trunk.”

“…Sorry?”

I opened it, gesturing towards the comfortable apartment within. “It’s magically expanded.”

“You…you’ve been living in a trunk?” she said faintly.

“It seemed like a sound investment, since property values keep rising.”

“How do you eat?”

“Dobby.”

The house-elf appeared, only to pop away again at my dismissive gesture.

“So you’re stealing, then,” she said flatly.

Dobby is stealing. _I _am accepting gifts,” I said.

Hermione shook her head and then peered into the compartment. “I just assumed you’d be with Ron. If you’d told me that you really didn’t have any place to go, you could have stayed here.”

I chuckled. “That’s what I’ve been doing.”

“In the guest room, Harry!” Her hair fluffed up like a cat’s coat.

I frowned, glancing outside her bedroom door. “I don’t know if I would like that. Your guest room’s pretty small.”

She raised an eyebrow. “You’ve been living in a trunk.”

“Which is still bigger than your guest room.”

Hermione began to pace, footfalls heavy on the hardwood floor. My trunk shuddered with every step, and my bookcase rattled within. Suddenly, the girl exclaimed, “Is it smoking?”

“Well, I have to air the potions fumes sometime, or they start to build up.”

I’ve tried to remedy the situation through spells, but that tends to set off some of the more delicate brews. I still hadn’t fixed the hole in the floor from my last attempt at Felix Felicis.

“There is absolutely no way this is safe,” Hermione muttered.

“You’re thinking like a Muggle, Hermione,” I said as I descended once again into my new home.

“I am not!” she said. “Also, there’s nothing wrong with that!”

“Sure there isn’t, Hermione” – I chuckled, waving my hand as the roof latched behind me – “Sure there isn’t.”


I hopped out of my trunk, squinting at the unexpected sunlight. I squawked indignantly, “Did you move me?”

Hermione smirked. “No.”

I was clearly at the Burrow, and Ron waved at me from beside her. “You liar! Now, I’ll have to ward the trunk against your meddling.”

“You can’t ward something against being picked up, Harry,” she sighed.

I gestured sharply with my hand, missing my wand terribly. “Really? Have you ever tried? You can’t just assume that everything you read in books is true, you know. Sometimes the authors are scheming. Like you.”

Hermione rolled her eyes. “Yes. I’m sure. Now, Ron has something to tell you. Right, Ron?”

“Uh, right,” he said. “Mate, you really shouldn’t be living in a trunk.”

“Don’t let Hermione bully you,” I said. “Your home is perfectly nice.”

“It’s not a shoebox!” he snapped. “Besides, this isn’t like that. My uncle had one of those trunks, but the charms broke when he and all his things were inside…They had to bury him in it.”

“Do you see, Harry?” Hermione said. “This is very dangerous, and you shouldn’t risk it.”

“Ron’s uncle was probably doing something stupid –”

“Yeah, hanging around in a trunk,” Ron muttered.

“–and messed up the charms. Besides, I spent half my money on this trunk, and it’s non-refundable.”

Hermione twisted her lips, skeptically asking, “Half your money?”

“My thousand galleons from the Triwizard Tournament.”

“That’s kind of a weird way to put it, isn’t it?” Ron asked. “I mean, it’s like you’re not thinking about your parents’ money at all. Weren’t the Potters rich?”

I paused. “It never occurred to me to check. I’ll have to inquire about this.”

I retreated into my trunk to write a letter, Ron and Hermione’s horrified protests following me inside.


Dear Dumbledore,

I must confess that your scheme to steal my parents’ money was brilliant. Now that I have discovered it, however, I request that you return my inheritance in full. If you do this, quickly and without complaint, I shall return the hostages unharmed.

Love,

Harry Potter


Professor Dumbledore smiled benignly down at me, and I fought the urge to cower behind Ron, Hermione, or possibly Ginevra. That smile always seemed to precede a terrible loss during my time as a Dark Lord.

“I wish you had asked, earlier, my boy,” he said shaking his head wearily. “I’m afraid I’d quite forgotten to give you your vault key.”

Ha! Forgotten? Despite the occasional, hopeful rumor of senility, Dumbledore couldn’t forget something if he had a team of Obliviators following him at all times. I twisted my face into some amalgamation of innocence, not allowing it to slip even as Ron’s twitching mouth betrayed his restrained laughter. “Of course, sir. I’m just glad to have it now, really.”

“Good, good. If I may be so bold, how have you been buying your books and school supplies before now?”

“The Dursleys helped me out.” Not willingly, mind you, but – since they lack Ron’s Gryffindor courage – they would never be so foolish as to complain about my thievery.

Dumbledore’s smile grew, and it appeared as if he’d just been hit by a cheering charm. “Yes, of course. I’m glad to hear you’re so close to your family. Love is wonderful, you know.”

“Yes, it burns things. I recall,” I said.

Ron said, “What?”

I frowned. “Don’t make me order Ginevra to silence you again.”

“Ah, yes,” Dumbledore chuckled. “I had meant to ask. Who were the hostages you mentioned?”

“Well, I mostly added that part to speed things along.”

Ron cleared his throat, and I hurriedly added, “Hermione’s idea, naturally. But, in a pinch, I could always use my friends.”

Albus Dumbledore’s eyes twinkled. “You always can, I dare say. Now, I’m afraid I have to go attend a meeting. Good day to you all.”

To my surprise, he then headed straight for the Weasleys’ house, humming merrily all the way.

Hermione asked, “What sort of meeting could he mean?”

“Some weird group that’s been hanging around all summer,” Ron said, wrinkling his nose.

“The Order of the Phoenix,” Ginevra said.

I scowled, and Hermione’s eyes lit up. She said, “Oh! I read about them. They were a small group that opposed Voldemort during the War. Everybody thought that Dumbledore was a member, but no one could ever prove it. Apparently, they’re very skilled in urban combat.”

Ron shrugged. “I guess so. Mostly they just sit around and eat Mum’s sandwiches.”

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