Harry was usually the first at the Room of Requirement, whenever they had a D.A. session. There wasn't that much to do before hand – Harry didn't exactly have lesson plans, and most of the things he taught could be taught on the fly, sort of. But he was the one who knew what was needed for each session, so he was the one who needed to set up the Room.
That day he was much earlier than usual, though. He had vague plans to go over some basic attack spells in their next meeting and wanted to see if the Room could provide a variety of attack dummies to use. It just would be safer that way, rather than using spells on each other in practice like they'd done with the expelliarmus and the other less destructive spells. The whole jig would be up if a number of their members had to go to the hospital wing with cuts and bruises, after all.
He wasn't the first there that day, though. As he approached the seventh floor corridor, Fred was not so casually leaning onto the corner leading to the left hand side, with a book held upside down in his hand – obviously keeping watch.
"Morning, Fred," Harry said at the sight of him, slowing his steps cautiously. A Weasley Twin keeping watch was rarely a good thing.
Fred gave him a look which was just on the side of disappointment. "Oh. Wotcher, Harry. Didn't think anyone was going to come in yet," he said and closed the book.
"What are you doing?" Harry asked, craning his neck to see if he could spot George.
"Oh. Well. Nothing much – just mucking about a bit," Fred answered, giving his book a look and the shoving it into his book bag. "Guess we can do it later, if you're going to start the session early."
"Hm," Harry answered noncommittally and stepped past him. It wasn't just George in the corridor past Fred, but Lee Jordan – and it was Lee who was pacing the front of the secret entrance to the Room. His face was scrunched up in concentration and he was actually massaging his temples with his fingers as he tried to make the Room appear.
"Oh," George said as he saw Harry. "Bummer."
"Hi, George. Lee," Harry said and just barely smothered the urge to put his hands to his hips and tap his foot. "What are you guys doing?"
"Nothing bad?" George offered hopefully. "Just testing the Room a bit, is all. All the stuff it can turn into, and… stuff. We've checked that no one's about and everything. And we were going to reset it afterwards."
"Testing the Room," Harry repeated slowly.
"Well. Yeah. I mean, come on, everyone wants to test the place, see what it can do," George said. "Don't tell me you haven't been tempted."
"Well, no I haven't. I already have the Room turning into what I need," Harry said, arching an eyebrow. "What else would I need for it to turn into, except for the practice room?"
"Oh ye of little imagination," Fred said, clapping Harry on the shoulder. "You should broaden your mind a bit. We've so far gotten to experience a water park and a ginger bread house and we've even managed to make a room that was all upwards-down and everything."
"And that one time, we made an ice room and skated inside it, it was pretty cool," George added. "And the Room can get as big as you want – we had a broom race the other day."
"How long have you been at this?" Harry asked with something akin to dismay. Not that he minded them having fun, exactly. It was just that the secrecy of the room was what kept D.A. safe, and if they played around in it – hanging about the entrance like this… they were pretty much bound to get caught.
"Well… a couple of days, not that long," Fred said sheepishly. "It's just a spot of fun, really – no harm done. Plus the room makes a great place to experiment with our, ahem… products."
Harry sighed and shook his head. "So what are you trying to turn it into now?" he asked, glancing at Lee – who'd gone a fourth circuit now, and managed to effect no change in the hidden entrance.
"Lee wanted to try something special," George shrugged. "Won't say what – seems to be having trouble there, our old Lee."
"Me thinks his mental mind powers aren't good enough," Fred agreed.
"Shut up, mate, I'm trying to concentrate here," Lee answered, frowning so hard it looked like he was in actual physical pain.
Harry looked at him and then at the twins who were looking between him and Lee expectantly – either waiting for him to tell them to quit it and get out of the way, or for Lee to succeed. Then he sighed and stepped forward, ignoring Lee and walking past the door three times, thinking just give Lee what he wants so that we can get on with this at it until a door popped into the wall. Except it wasn't quite a door.
"Success!" Lee cried in triumph at the sight of the oval shaped metal slab that now stood in the wall.
"What?" Harry asked, his question echoed by a confused George and Fred at each of his sides.
Lee ignored them all and stepped forward – and in reaction, the metal slab split diagonally in the middle, the two halves sliding into the frames and revealing a dark space beyond. As Harry and the twins shared looks of confusion, Lee stepped inside, taking out a wand and casting a lumos to illuminate the dark space beyond the strange door.
And then Harry promptly realised what Lee had made. "No way," he muttered and whipped out his wand too, following Lee inside. "No way," he said again, as he saw the interior. It was all smooth metal – a sort of vaulted corridor, triangular in shape, with glowing ancient runes on the walls. Lee was already going ahead, further down the strange polished corridor, and Harry hurried after him and into the open space beyond.
"No way," he said again pointedly, as he saw what was beyond – across the large hall, past the odd tables and glass screens, there was a window. An enormous floor to ceiling window, with dark, empty space beyond it. Except it wasn't dark, not quite.
It was lit by thousands of stars.
"Lee," Harry said, turning to him. "No way."
"Way," Lee answered, grinning as he hurried to the window and reached out to touch it, to lean forward and look around – only to quickly yank his hand back when the window proved not to be glass after all, but energy. It sparked at him like electricity and hissing the dark skinned wizard shook his hand. "Oh, that is so wicked," he murmured, starting at the window as it if hadn't just electrocuted him.
"How in the…?" Harry asked, also coming forward. It was nothing but dark, star speckled space outside – no, not quite. There was a shadow below them, far below them, hanging like a spot of black void that blocked out the star light. An object, not quite circular in shape. "Is that an asteroid?"
"Where?" Lee asked and then grinned as he saw it. "Oh this is so cool!"
"Ahem," George said behind them. "Could you two share with the class? What is this place?"
Harry and Lee turned to look at them and then they shared a look. "Poor, poor, scifi-deficient purebloods," Lee shrugged sympathetically and turned to face the twins. "You, my dear, dear friends, are on a spaceship!" he announced grandly, spreading his hands. "Welcome!"
"Huh?" Fred and George asked in unison. "We're on a what?"
"On a spaceship. On space. Or in space," Lee said excitedly, almost giddily, and tried to haphazardly explain what it meant. "See, I told you Muggles went into space, right? They went to the moon and everything, on these ships that flew by rockets and stuff? Well, they have this genre of fiction called science fiction which is mostly about space and stuff and …"
Harry shook his head and leaned back to look at the window, and the asteroid below them. His mind was catching up with him, now, and the little boy excitement was fading away. Of course it wasn't actually real. It was just the Room of Requirement making what Lee had wanted to see – and as it was, it was hardly realistic. Not that he'd ever been any particular reader of science fiction, but even he knew what actual spaceships were like, on the inside. They were awkward and cramped and they didn't have gravity like normal every day Earth did. Nothing like this enormous vaulted space, open and grandiose.
The place was probably a copy of some spaceship Lee had seen on a scifi show on a telly or something. It didn't make it any less cool, granted, but it did give him a bit of a reality check.
"Okay. So," George said, arms folded. "This isn't actually a place, but a… ship. In space."
"I'm pretty sure you're not supposed to be able to live in space," Fred said, stroking his chin thoughtfully. "Pretty sure there's no air."
"Obviously the spaceship has its own atmosphere inside it and its made air tight so it doesn't get out – use your imagination a bit, guys," Lee said superiorly.
"Why aren't we floating about?" Fred asked.
"Artificial gravity. Like reverse a levitation charm, but technological."
"Muggles can do that?" George asked, fascinated.
"Well. No. But you know," Lee motioned around. "It's not like this place is actually real, or made by muggles or anything."
"So it's… not a spaceship?" Fred asked suspiciously.
"It's a fakeship," George said accusingly.
"It's not a fakeship, you prat. It is a spaceship, just… not a real one. A scifi spaceship," Lee made a face at them. "Come on guys, stop spoiling this for me. Back me up here, Harry."
"Hm?" Harry asked. "Oh, yes. This is very cool," he said obligingly. "Is it from a series or something? Star Trek or… whatever it's called."
"Nah," Lee answered. "I didn't think I'd get the details right and then it would bug me. I just wanted a spaceship, so… a random generic spaceship," he shrugged and then clapped his hands together excitedly. "Let's go find the engines!"
Harry hesitated but… well there was still time until the session and it couldn't hurt exactly, could it? They'd muck about a bit and then come out and then he'd make the usual training room, plus the dummies for target practice. It wasn't as if having a bit of fun could hurt them anyway – Merlin knew Harry could've used a bit of carefree fun.
"Lead the way," he said and with the still somewhat confused Fred and George tagging along, then went about trying to find the ship's engines.
The ship was dark throughout – except for the faintly lit up ancient runes that ran along the walls. Harry eyed them with some amusement as they walked around, trying to find wherever the engine might be. Ancient magical runes on a supposed spaceship. Poor Room of Requirement, trying to make a scifi thing with magical means. Ancient runes aside, though, it had done pretty good job.
The ship was huge – the biggest thing they'd ever managed to make the Room turn into, easily. It had several corridors and a lot of rooms, some of them empty, most of them full of strange tables with weird symbols and stones on them. There weren't windows in every room, but those rooms that had windows, the view was always spectacular – with the sharpest, brightest stars Harry had ever seen. Even in Astronomy session and whilst using a telescope he hadn't seen so many, so bright stars.
"I guess it's the whole not looking at them through an atmosphere," Lee said when he commented on it. "Pity we don't seem to be anywhere near a planet – it would've been unspeakably awesome, to see Earth from orbit."
"I guess the Room of Requirement didn't have any idea how to make that happen," Harry shrugged. "I don't know what Earth looks from orbit – do you?"
"This is boring. Why is it so dark in here? You can't even see anything here – not that there's anything interesting to be seen anyway," Fred complained. "It's just corridors and rooms and stars. How is this in any way exciting?"
"This is so exciting – shut up," Lee answered. "You uncultured, uneducated swine."
"And how," Fred answered. "But no, seriously. What's the point?"
"It's a spaceship," Lee said, with some exasperation. "That's the point. You know, you could just take off if you don't want to be here."
George sighed, clasping his hands behind his neck and peering at the ceiling. "Well we're already here – might as well see the rest. See what's so special about these enguines."
"Engines," Harry corrected him. "Why is it so dark in here, though?" he wondered, glancing at Lee. "It kind of doesn't make sense. Did you want a dark spaceship?"
"No, not really. But I guess I didn't really specify that I wanted light, either," Lee shrugged. "Stop moaning, you guys. It's not like it's a problem - we have wands after all."
"Your fakeship sucks, Lee."
"Shut up, you prick."
It took some time and wandering around until they found what was most likely the engine. Or… something like it, anyway. It was one of the biggest rooms they'd seen so far, three, four stories tall with an enormous and enormously complicated looking shaft thing running from ceiling to floor. There were cat walks leading to it, and platforms arranged around it with some of the weird pedestal tables and a few glass screens here and there.
"Looks busted," George commented.
"Hm," Lee agreed with a nod, frowning as he leaned onto a railing and peered at the bottom of the enormous room. The crystal shaft thingy was completely dark. "Busted or just turned off. Wonder if we could fix it…"
"It's not actually real, you know," Fred said.
"I swear to god, Fred, I will hex you."
"It's kind of weird that it is busted, though," Harry said. "Makes sense that the ship is dark, if this is the engine or the power… something. But why would it be busted, when this is basically just a simulation of a spaceship. What's the point in simulating a broken spaceship?"
"Testament to Lee's poor imagination skills," Fred said and then jerked back as Lee punched him on the shoulder.
"Maybe there's a limit to what the Room of Requirement can do – maybe it just can't do complicated things like whatever this is," George said, folding his arms. "So instead of trying to make it work, it made it broken because that's easier?"
"Might be," Lee said. "Still, this place is so cool. I wonder if we could… I dunno. Fix it."
"It's not real," Fred said in sing-song tone.
"I don't mean it literally – I mean. Fix the simulation – or help the Room along or stuff," Lee said, peering around. "Even if it's not real it would be cool if we could… I dunno, make it work. Maybe even actually pilot it."
"Wait. Pilot it?" Fred said. "Like move it?"
"It is a ship," Lee said. "By definition they're meant to move."
Harry looked around and then checked his watch. "Well, hope you don't mind it but I'm going to have to ask you to do it later. I need to start getting the room ready for the meeting. We should head back to the door."
"Yeah, sure," Lee said with a sigh and then glanced at a nearby wall and the ancient runes on it. "Gonna have to bring a dictionary with me, next time," he muttered and with one last regretful look at the ship's strange power room, he turned around and they headed back.