Chapter XIV - On the Chessboard


Harry was sleeping calmly; Severus too. Sirius's initial reaction when Dumbledore had told him what had happened was to panic. Then Sirius had arrived at that mansion that only brought him bad memories, and was reassured that Harry was alive. Panic had receded, and fragile hope sprung up in his heart. Sirius was also deeply angry with Dumbledore, and was trying to come to terms with this feeling. How could the Headmaster have concealed from them that Harry was a Horcrux? He didn't have the right to do that, did he? Sirius shook his head. Why did the old wizard always shroud himself in mystery and keep him apart from the decisions related to his godson? Could it be that, after all Sirius had done, Dumbledore still didn't trust him? Harry was unconscious now, and although Dumbledore insisted everything would be fine when Harry woke up, Sirius was afraid.

Dumbledore had told him he could go back home, that he would call him when Harry woke up, but Sirius hadn't wanted to leave Harry alone. So here he was, sitting at the foot of the bed in the bedroom that had belonged to his parents. Couldn't Dumbledore have placed Harry and Severus elsewhere?

Dumbledore was in his office, having a meeting with a committee of giants. War negotiations couldn't stop, even if the Chosen One, the only hope of the Wizarding World, was unconscious, perhaps with his life at risk.

Sirius had left a short note for Remus. That was another source of concern: it was already midnight and Remus hadn't appeared. That was Dumbledore's fault as well, for he had assigned Remus an almost suicidal mission. It hadn't been easy for Remus to start living among the werewolves, who considered him a traitor for having studied and taught at Hogwarts.

Harry shifted in bed, awakening Sirius from his bitter thoughts. Severus moved too, turning to Harry and wrapping an arm around his waist. Sirius smiled at Severus's possessive gesture and touched Harry's arm with his hand.

Harry opened his eyes. "Sirius?"

Sirius couldn't remember having ever felt so happy. Harry was back. "Hi," Sirius managed to say, his voice quavering on the single word.

Harry gave a sleepy smile, and Sirius embraced him carefully.

Severus murmured something. Sirius straightened up and looked at him.

"Hi. I was worried about you too."

"I hope you are not planning to give me a hug," Severus grumbled.

"Ugh, no, I've already had a bath today," Sirius countered, amusing himself with the way Severus was frowning, looking offended. "Unless I cast a Scourgify on you first."

"Do you remember the last time you tried?" asked Severus, a sardonic smile on his lips.

"Oh, yes, you bastard. You cast a spell that covered me in shit from head to toe. I'll never forget the incantation: Scatify."

A cheerful voice coming from behind interrupted their verbal fencing. "Are you having an orgy and didn't invite me?"

"Moony! C'mere. There's always a place for you."

Severus made a disgusted face, and Harry laughed. Remus gave Sirius kiss that was quick, but full of promises.

"Did things go well there?" Sirius asked.

Remus produced a wrinkled paper from his pocket and read it aloud: "You have friends where you least expect them. They will not let you down."

"That's great!" exclaimed Harry.

"He hasn't told us anything useful so far," Severus grouched.


The following night Harry was again at 12 Grimmauld Place: Dumbledore had called a meeting of the Order of the Phoenix. When Dumbledore had invited Severus, Sirius and Harry on the previous night, he had told them he was inviting the Order's members one by one, telling them that Sirius was alive and explaining the reasons why they had staged his death. According to Dumbledore, now that all the Horcruxes had been destroyed, the members of the Order should know that Sirius was alive, so that Sirius could join their activities.

The meeting had started as a great party, with everyone gathered in the basement kitchen, which had been transfigured into a large hall. There was a long table with pumpkin juice, Butterbeers, pastries and sweets.

Naturally, the centre of attention was Sirius. Harry couldn't even see him in the room; he was always surrounded by people who wanted to know the details of his "death".

Ginny, Ron, Hermione and the twins had come without invitation: Ginny's Extendable Ears had captured a conversation between Arthur and Molly about a "a decisive meeting" and "preparations to face You-Know-Who", and soon the news had spread among the Weasley brothers and reached Hermione, who was spending a few days in the Burrow. After a few debates, they had decided to come.

As they hadn't been informed that Sirius was alive, they were completely and utterly shocked to see Sirius there. Ron almost fainted. The twins and Ginny circled Sirius and started to question him.

Besides Severus, Sirius and Harry's friends, all the main members of the Order were there: Mad-Eye Moody, Kingsley Shacklebolt, Nymphadora Tonks, Hestia Jones, Elphias Doge, Dedalus Diggle, Minerva McGonagall and all the Weasleys except Percy. Remus hadn't come - he was among the werewolves, again. Hagrid was absent too; he was probably still trying to convince the giants not to side with Voldemort.

Harry spent all the time with Ron and Hermione and tried to answer their questions the best as he could. It wasn't easy to tell the whole story of the Quest for the Horcruxes in a few minutes. He promised to meet them on another day to bring them up to date. At a distance, Harry observed Severus talking to McGonagall. It was evident that Severus enjoyed talking to her. Harry knew Severus respected all the Head of Houses, but his relationship with McGonagall was closer and more affectionate - in Severus's twisted, provoking way.

"Blimey, Harry, why do you keep staring at Snape like that?" asked Ron suddenly, making Harry's blood flow to his face. "It looks like you're... Uh... Harry?"

"Er... I told you we're getting along quite well, the four of us. Now we're all friends."

"That's wonderful!" exclaimed Hermione. "It must have been a rich experience for you. You must have learned many things during this time."

"Yeah, I reckon I've learned a lot. We had fun... but we had scary moments too."

"Yeah, Harry, but the way you're staring at the greasy bat, and... ugh... the way he's ogling you... it's not like a friend."

"It's a long story. I can't tell you now."

Ron looked at his suspiciously. "Are you gay?"

"Ron!" exclaimed Hermione.

"Why? Do you have something against gays?" asked Harry.

"Er, no. It's just that... it's weird, to think that my best friend..."

Harry laughed and rolled his eyes. "There's no need to worry: you're not my type."

"Who's your kind? The greasy git?"

Hermione slapped Ron's arm. "Ronald Weasley!"

"It's all right," said Harry. "I knew it wouldn't be easy..."

"I saw you together that day, when you called me to Professor's Snape's office to ask about the Grail. It was clear that there was something between you. So I'm not surprised. I don't know how Snape is intimately, and I confess the idea that you're together is a little weird to me, but I won't judge you before I know the whole story," stated Hermione.

"Thanks. Someone," said Harry, glaring daggers at Ron, "should be more understanding."

"It's all right, mate, let's change the subject," said Ron.

An embarrassed silence fell over them, and Harry felt thankful when Dumbledore rang a bell to ask everyone to sit down and listen to what he had to say.

"Good evening, friends. A crucial moment approaches..."

Right then Harry felt a strong pain in his arm and turned to Severus. Harry realised Voldemort was calling Severus. Severus stood up and left the room silently.


Albus paced his office thoughtfully. Everyone had left, except for the members of the Order that were standing guard at the Headquarters: Nymphadora Tonks, Mad-Eye Moody and Hestia Jones. Severus had already returned from the Death Eaters' meeting and given his report; Remus had called him through the Floo system and given him the latest information on the activities of the werewolves; Hagrid and Madame Maxime were in the mountains northeast of Minsk again, trying a new approach in which Albus placed great hopes: Madame Maxime expected to convince the wives of the leaders of the giants that it would be stupid to join the war. Riddle had placed his pieces on the chessboard: Greyback was his contact among the werewolves; Golgomath, the leader of the giants, should lead his people to join the Death Eaters in the attack; and the Dementors answered directly to the Lestrange brothers.

Albus had placed his pieces on the chessboard too. He couldn't do anything regarding the Lestrange brothers, but Dementors could be driven off rather easily. As for the giants and the werewolves, Albus expected to be able to prevent them from arriving at the scene of the battle. This way, he would diminish the impact of the enemy's attack.

The Order's members had already received their orders. Everything was ready.

Albus focused on the resplendent chalice at the centre of his office. There was just one thing left to do.


On the afternoon of June 27th, as had been settled, most of the members of the Order of the Phoenix gathered in the Black mansion. Albus called Severus and Harry to his office and led them to the Grail.

"I want you to touch the Grail with me. We will share our magic and strengthen our hearts."

The pair of them looked at him suspiciously. They were so alike each other, and they knew him too well... Luckily, they were also obedient.

When their hands were upon the chalice, Albus closed his eyes and concentrated. The sensation of transferring his magic was intoxicating - he felt light, as if floating in the air. When it was over and he released the chalice, he felt weak, but the lightness didn't leave him.

Severus supported him. Strange; Albus didn't think he was so weak, but the two of them were looking at him as if he were about to collapse.

"Albus, what have you done?" asked Severus, in that irked tone that concealed a deep affection, as Albus knew very well.

"There's no need to be concerned. Let's fulfil what we have agreed to do."

Albus sat behind his desk, took up his quill and wrote:

The Headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix may be found at number twelve, Grimmauld Place, London.

Then he handed out the piece of paper to Harry. "Please take this to Nymphadora and tell her to send her owl to Draco Malfoy. You go with him, Severus. I must talk to the young Malfoy alone."

"You are unwell," Severus protested. "Let me stay with you."

"I can lend Severus my Invisibility Cloak," suggested Harry.

Albus smiled. He had expected Severus to offer to stay - Severus, always the spy, and always the guardian.

Albus's mind had foreseen all that, but his heart was grieved.


Note: As Baphomet II was written before J.K. Rowling's explanation on the Fidelius Charm, I have to warn you that, in Baphomet, it's assumed that when the Secret Keeper dies, the Fidelius Charm wears off.

(Story Index)

Review here please!

Ptyx, March 2006