“Hermione,” Ron whispered, trying to get her attention. “What’s supposed to go in next?”
Harry snickered quietly as he overheard Ron. Seventh year of potions and Ron still had absolutely no clue as to what he was doing. Harry tuned out Hermione’s exasperation and her explanation as he continued to work on his own potion.
He had finally caught on to the concept of potions last year and he wasn’t too bad at it now. Of course, that probably had something to do with the fact that his ‘remedial potions lessons’ last year had actually included some one-on-one potions lessons with Snape.
After much apologizing, begging, pleading, and groveling (along with a direct order from Dumbledore) Snape had taken to training Harry again. Working with the bastard potions professor was far more appealing when compared to losing anyone else like he’d lost Sirius.
So between many detentions and ‘remedial potions lessons’, Harry spent a lot of time in training with Snape the previous year. Snape had started by training Harry in Occlumency, the first and foremost problem. The potions lessons got included because Harry needed to actually show improvement in the classroom if they were going to keep their cover. Go figure.
Over time they developed a truce and a decent working relationship. Harry spent many, many hours training with Snape. It all paid off when Harry finally defeated Voldemort at the end of the school year.
Now in his seventh year, he was enjoying life finally. There were still several rogue Death Eaters running loose, but they weren’t Harry’s responsibility. He was free to live his own life.
Lost in his reverie, Harry was startled when the door to the classroom slammed open. He was even more startled when he saw Dumbledore—a very angry, almost afraid Dumbledore.
“Severus, I need your assistance in the Entrance Hall,” Dumbledore commanded. Snape obviously understood the urgency radiating off the Headmaster and immediately moved to comply.
“Potter, you’re in charge. Please refrain from causing any trouble.” Snape sneered at all of his students before sweeping out of the room.
Dumbledore addressed the students. “I will be sealing you all in this room and you will be unable to leave. There is a matter of great urgency but you will be safe here.”
He turned to Harry. “You know where things are. Call for Dobby if you need assistance for any reason and I’ll get a message to you all as soon as possible.” With that said, he was gone.
After the door shut there was a bright yellow glow covering the entire room, brightest at the doorway but lighting up every wall, ceiling and even the floor. No one was in any doubt that Dumbledore had quite literally sealed them into the classroom.
Harry blinked and slowly gazed around at all of the other shocked students. He always said things happened during potions but this was getting a little extreme.
“Why did Snape put you in charge?” Pansy demanded.
Harry gave a slight shrug. He was more concerned with why they had to be locked in in the first place and had turned his gaze back to the sealed doorway.
“Why not?” Draco drawled. “Better to make Potter responsible for anything going wrong rather than one of us.” This mollified the upset Slytherins as they snickered.
Harry sent them a small, knowing smirk, but didn’t comment, causing Draco to furrow his brow in confusion. All of the Slytherins looked confused as Harry flicked his gaze across them. Seamus looked confused as well.
Harry chuckled when his gaze fell on Ron’s smug grin and Hermione’s full, knowing smile.
“What are you laughing about, Potter?” Draco demanded.
“Believe whatever makes you feel better, Malfoy,” Harry commented flippantly.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Draco snarled.
Harry sighed. This wasn’t the time for a fight. “Nothing,” he said, backing off. “I don’t want to fight with you.”
“I want to know what you meant,” Draco demanded.
“I want to know what’s wrong and what’s so bad that we have to be locked in here,” Harry said, diverting the topic.
His diversion was successful when worried expressions broke out on the faces again. Even Draco looked concerned briefly before he let his mask fall back into place.
“Do you have any ideas?” Hermione asked.
Harry shook his head. “All I know is that things have been quiet recently, although everyone expected that was because there were plans in the works. No one knew what they were though.”
He had regular meetings with Snape and Dumbledore, where they kept Harry apprised of any situations that developed with the Death Eaters. Voldemort may be gone, but Harry was still a target.
“You really have no idea at all?” Ron asked.
Harry rolled his eyes. “I’m not a Seer, Ron. In fact, you know I’m total crap at Divination. I’ve been here, along with the rest of you, and have absolutely no idea what’s going on.”
“Well, what are we supposed to do now?” Hermione asked.
Harry looked around. Even the Slytherins seemed to be looking to Harry for an answer, though they were less obvious about it than the Gryffindors. He glanced into his cauldron.
“There’s not much we can do at the moment. For now, I guess we try to salvage our potions. Luckily we were at a long simmering stage. Snape will still expect us to complete them, emergency or not.”
That reminder seemed to help people focus. Not a soul in that room wanted to bring Snape’s wrath down upon them. They turned back to their work and chatter broke out in the room, debating different ideas about what was happening in the castle.
“Harry, do you really think we’re all right here?” Hermione asked anxiously as she stirred her cauldron.
Harry nodded. “You know as well as I do that neither Snape nor Dumbledore would leave us in a dangerous position. Besides, you saw him seal the room as well as I did.”
“Yeah, but I’ve never seen Dumbledore look so upset.” Hermione didn’t sound any less anxious.
Harry glanced at the doorway again, like he was still expecting it to give him some answers. Truth be told, he was anxious about the situation too. He wanted to know if everyone else was all right and if all the students had managed to be protected.
“I’ve seen him look that upset,” Harry admitted. “Whatever is going on is major, but I’m sure Dumbledore put the students’ safety first. It’s why we’re sealed in here. I’m sure it’ll be all right.”
Seamus and Ron at least looked reassured. If Harry said it would be okay, then things would likely be all right. “Well, what’s your theory as to what’s happening?” Ron asked.
Harry frowned. “I have no idea, to be honest. Even when everyone was afraid of Sirius and the castle had to be searched, we were at least all brought to the Great Hall and confined together.”
“Maybe they simply didn’t have time to get us all to one area,” Hermione pointed out.
“Probably.” Harry shrugged.
“Do you think it has something to do with the remaining Death Eaters?”
Harry gave her the same answer. “Probably.”
While they worked on their potions, they debated on what could really be happening. Their ideas ranged from an animagus infiltrating the school, in obvious reference to what happened third year, to an outright attack at the school.
Harry personally wasn’t satisfied with the last idea. If there had been a sudden attack, he was fairly certain Dumbledore would have asked him to help fight. He could hold his own and was better at fighting than many of the teachers. None of it really made sense.
Gradually everyone finished up their potions and sample vials were lined up neatly on Snape’s desk. Everyone was looking slightly lost as they went back to their seats when they should have been leaving class.
“This is ridiculous,” Draco finally exclaimed. “I’ve got better things to do than sitting around here with a bunch of Gryffindors.”
“Like we want to sit around with a bunch of snakes,” Ron said. Hermione put a hand on his arm, hoping to restrain him if it became necessary.
“Don’t insult snakes,” Harry said. The Slytherins snarled at what they deemed an insult. “Snakes have good qualities, too.”
Ron’s smug look flashed to incredulity as he rounded on Harry. “Are you sticking up for the Slytherins?” he sputtered.
“I didn’t say that.”
“Then you’re insulting them,” Ron said, smug look returning.
“I didn’t say that either.”
“What are you on about then?”
Heads swiveled back and forth, following the growing argument between the two Gryffindors.
Harry gave a careless shrug. “I only said that snakes have good qualities, too. I don’t remember saying anything specific regarding Slytherins.”
“It was implied, Harry!”
Harry forced himself to suppress his grin at the proud look Hermione shot Ron for understanding what implied meant. Ron very much dealt in facts, not subtle implications.
“Was it implied?” Harry asked.
“Yes!” Ron exploded. “Slytherins are snakes!”
“Oh.” Harry looked thoughtful. “Well, my answer’s still the same. Snakes have good qualities, too.”
“How can you say that?!” Ron was still shouting and turning a nice vivid shade of red in his anger and frustration.
Harry’s eyes finally narrowed dangerously. “Ron, I don’t give a fuck if you like these particular Slytherins or not. You know damn good and well that Slytherins have very useful qualities. Now back off.”
Ron was completely taken aback, but didn’t seem ready to back down. “But Harry, they’re evil.”
Harry’s nostrils flared as he glared at Ron, but Hermione cut in before Harry could say anything.
“Ron, think about why Harry was put in charge here,” Hermione snapped.
Ron stared at her for several moments before he turned to stare back at Harry sheepishly. “Sorry, Harry.”
Harry’s expression relaxed and he grinned at Ron. “No problem, mate.”
“Did Potter just defend the Slytherins?” Pansy asked plaintively, literally rubbing her eyes in confusion.
Draco’s eyes were narrowed in suspicion. “I think so.”
“He certainly wasn’t defending you, though,” Ron snarled at Draco.
“Enough already, Ron,” Harry said in exasperation. Ron dropped back into his seat with a surly expression.
“That’s twice now that it’s been questioned why you got put in charge, Potter,” Draco drawled. “What’s the real reason?”
Harry studied Draco, debating how to answer the question. “Who said you were wrong? Maybe Snape put me in charge simply because he can punish me for anything that goes wrong. It certainly makes sense.”
Draco was frowning, obviously sceptical. His gaze flicked over Ron, who was once again looking smug, then to Hermione whose expression had gone suspiciously blank, before glaring at Harry’s calm face again.
“I don’t think that’s why,” Draco said. “I think there’s more to it.”
“Maybe,” Harry said. “Not that it particularly matters because we’re all more than capable of taking care of ourselves. Besides, hopefully we won’t be stuck in here much longer anyway.”
As if his words had conjured it, there was a bright flash of flames before a golden feather and parchment dropped to the desk in front of Harry. The girls shrieked and everyone but Harry startled at the sudden appearance of flames in the classroom.
“Fawkes,” Harry breathed, snatching up the parchment.
“What the fuck was that?” Draco demanded.
Harry ignored him in favor of reading Dumbledore’s message, so Ron answered the question for everyone. He was the only other person there that had ever witnessed it before.
“That was Dumbledore’s phoenix leaving a message.”
Everyone watched Harry closely, in varying degrees of anxiety and curiosity. He skimmed over the letter quickly.
There was a round of, “What?!” in response, as everyone stared in alarm at Harry’s outburst. He blinked and looked around at the group of Gryffindors and Slytherins. This was not going to go over well.
He cleared his throat and began reading.
First of all, everyone is unharmed. We were able to safely seal everyone into various rooms around the castle before any injuries could occur.
Unfortunately, you will all have to remain where you are for the foreseeable future. We expect that it will take at least a day or two before it will be completely safe in the castle again. Your professors will explain to you further. Be reassured that you are safe where you are.
For the time being, only the house elves will be able to reach your current locations. They will bring all of your meals to you and your professors will help to provide you with appropriate accommodations throughout this forced lockdown.
Once again, let me assure you that you are safe and all will be back to normal soon.
Harry stopped and looked up at his classmates surrounding him. He glanced nervously at the gobsmacked Slytherins. He wasn’t so worried about the gobsmacked Gryffindors.
“We’re locked in here for fuck knows how long with a bunch of Gryffindors?!” Draco exclaimed in outrage.
Harry nodded. No one was looking happy at all.
“We don’t have a professor here, though,” Pansy said. “Dumbledore took Snape away, so who’s supposed to explain things to us and help us out?”
“Does the letter say anything else, Harry?” Hermione asked hopefully.
Harry took a deep breath. “Yeah, that was just what he obviously wrote for all the students. There’s more written here addressed to me. Um, I was a little shocked that we’re all locked in here together and haven’t read it yet.”
“Well, hurry up then,” Draco commanded. “I’m sure he’s told you what the fuck is actually going on.” Harry glared at him briefly before turning back to the parchment.
Obviously there is no professor with your group as I needed Professor Snape’s assistance, so I’m sending this further information to you; to ease your mind and for you to explain to your classmates. I’m quite confident in your abilities and those that are locked in with you.
A special device was released in the Entrance Hall. You and a few others would compare it to a muggle bomb of sorts. Once set, it sent dangerous curses floating through the hallways like a poisonous gas—searching for victims. Hence, the reason for the continued forced isolation in sealed rooms.
As to how it came to be about, you will be pleased to know that a particular rat was involved. It seems that he was forced to be their sacrifice in this mission. Fortunately for us he has been apprehended, but unfortunately not before setting off the device. He has been questioned under veritaserum. Additional testimony has allowed us to send out the Aurors and the remaining Death Eaters have been apprehended as well. I’m sure you know what this all means, and I must say that I’m happy for you that this has finally ended.
As for the castle’s current status, it is unclear how long the castle will need to remain in lockdown. We are working on that problem and hopefully the castle will be free of danger within a couple days.
Harry, I am essentially placing you in charge at your location. Until it is safe, Professor Snape will not be able to return. The only ones able to access the sealed rooms are the house elves, as I’ve mentioned.
Please ensure that you and your classmates are provided for. Several of you are good at transfiguration and I’m sure that you will be able to meet your needs.
I will keep you posted of any further developments.
Harry let out a loud whoop of joy. “Yes! I’m free!”
“What are you on about, Potter?” Draco snapped. “I thought you just said we’re all stuck in here for at least the next day or two.”
Harry’s face took on an expression of pure malicious glee, causing many of the students to take a step back. Harry turned to face Ron and Hermione. “Scabbers has been caught.”
“Really? Finally?” Hermione breathed.
Harry simply nodded.
Ron stared for a moment before it sunk in. “It’s about fucking time,” he declared with a vicious snarl. Once again students stepped back, unsure of what was causing these two Gryffindors to act so spitefully.
“Oh, Harry, I’m so happy for you!” Hermione exclaimed, tears starting to fall down her cheeks. Harry snatched her up and spun her around.
“What is going on?” Draco demanded.
“The rest of the Death Eaters have been caught,” Harry said cheerfully.
Everyone stared at Harry, slack jawed. “You only said Scabbers,” Ron whispered.
“Scabbers was expected to be their sacrifice, but he was caught before he was killed and, under Veritaserum, he led the aurors to the rest of them,” Harry said gleefully. “Here, I’ll read it for you.”
He read the first section of the letter addressed to himself out loud to the others.
Suddenly all of the students were shouting out and cheering, both Gryffindors and Slytherins. Hugs and slaps on the back were making the rounds. Everyone was happy to hear that it was all apparently over finally.
This group of Slytherins had actively spoken out against taking the Dark Mark before Voldemort’s demise. They still weren’t popular in the school, but Harry in particular had been glad when they decided not to become junior Death Eaters.
Harry calmed down and read the rest of the letter amidst the continuing celebratory air in the room. The script changed and the rest of the letter was a note added by Snape.
“What are you grinning about now, Potter?” Draco sneered, although it wasn’t nearly as hateful as normal under the circumstances.
Harry looked over at him, and smirked. “Well, Malfoy, it appears you’re going to get your answer as to why I’m in charge after all.”