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soulless_sailor in ootp_united

WHO: The Order
WHEN: The day before the scheduled Ben move
WHAT: Regrouping and research

It didn't take long for Sirius to realize that Tonks was still very much not all right. She barely spoke to him when he knocked on the door of the bedroom, and refused to come out. He wondered if she was eating at all, or sleeping enough, or drinking too much...

Not being able to find out put him on edge. Damn Snape and damn Pettigrew. Damn them both, collectively, to every level of hell. Now was not the time to pull a highly suspicious disappearing act. There was never a good time, but the worse things got, the less Sirius found he could tolerate.

He was pacing now, back and forth across the kitchen, and finally had to force himself to stop. He'd done enough of that the night before. Enough pacing, enough worrying. Except that the worry never stopped any more. There was always something putting him on edge, putting the Order on edge, putting people in danger...

At last, he yanked the window open and leaned out to have a cigarette. The rest of the Order wouldn't be by for another fifteen minutes or so, assuming they were on time. That gave him a short while to collect himself, at least. Or to get to a point where he could appear collected.

Oh hell, why bother?


Remus tried something new and Apparated to the front porch of Grimmauld Place, letting himself in through the actual door. What an idea, doors. Whoever made them should have won a medal.

His eyelids were full of sand, both literally and figuratively. He had only just gotten up, on account of not getting to bed until something like four in the morning, and already wanted to go back to bed and stay there.

The werewolf looked up the stairs, wondering briefly about Tonks, and then wandered into the kitchen.

"Hi, Pads," he muttered, and grimaced. "Another cigarette?"
"Yeah, sorry," Sirius murmured, sounding more vague than apologetic. He flicked ashes out the window and into the mangled, overgrown bushes below.
"How's Tonks? Did she talk to you?"
Sirius shook his head. "Barely. She's still pretty upset."
He sighed, looking mournfully toward the kitchen door. "It isn't her fault."
"I know. And I think she knows, but she's still blaming herself." He sucked the last of the life out of the cigarette and flicked the butt out the window. "Runs in the family."
The fireplace sputtered to life in a burst of emerald green, and Kingsley's tall form sauntered out, eying the scene in the kitchen warily. If possible, it seemed the atmosphere was more dank and dire than the night before. Not everything seemed better in the morning.

He nodded to Black and Lupin, taking his seat in the most dignified manner possible-- that was, slowly. He always found it a little difficult to put his large form into one of these tables.

"Mad-Eye should be along shortly."
"Terrific. We could use a little paranoia around here," Sirius muttered sarcastically.
"I don't think he got much sleep last night," Remus muttered to Kingsley by way of explanation for his tone. "Is Samantha coming, Sirius?"
"Yeah, in a bit. And I didn't get any sleep last night, thanks for asking."
"Did you want me to ask?"
Sirius muttered under his breath and went back to leaning on the windowsill. He wanted another cigarette, but didn't really want to be blowing smoke around when Samantha showed up.
Kingsley merely raised an eyebrow, his universal reply to just about any social awkwardness, and nodded in acknowledgment, as the fire blazed to life again and Moody stomped out, his staff clacking over the stone kitchen floor.

"Nice to see your smiling faces," he grunted, heavily sitting on the bench, making the legs jar a bit.
Sirius said nothing. He didn't have to. The first t-shirt that had come to hand that morning was one that read, "I'm just one big f$@#ing ray of sunshine, aren't I?" It was so appropriate for his mood that it was almost ironic.
"You needed the sleep," Sirius murmured in reply.
"You're not."
"Enough," Moody said decisively. "You can all figure out sleeping arrangements later. Samantha, we need a report about last night. I'm assuming things went according to plan, considering that I spent a lovely winter's night atop Gringotts without incident. What did you learn and where do we go from here?" He cut in firmly, tiring of this roundabout way of doing meetings. They never got anything done these days... the Order was going to the dogs.
"If the Dark Lord is really supervising, you can bet Merlin's wand that it's not for Ben's sake," Moody growled out. "At least we have a date and time. No muggle is a hugely important endeavor to You-Know-Who. Maybe getting us out in the open is... But not a muggle. Carlisle, eh? Lots of old magic up there. Just kind of place the Dark Lord likes to stash things, muggles or no..."
Moody narrowed his one good eye, while the blue one spun sharply. "I think you're onto something there. There are very few things in this world that the Dark Lord himself will mobilize for... One is Harry Potter, and the other is a Horcrux. Other than that he's content to let most of them do the work for him. And we all know how he loves to put those things away in certain places... Yes, that would make sense. He IS trying to distract us..."
"And," Sirius put in, leaning against the counter, "how do we find out what the hell he's doing without effectively committing suicide? We don't have a lot of time..."
"Knowledge is power, Black," Moody simply replied. "Not much is known about horcruxes, it's such dark magic, and so rare. Department of Mysteries would know, but they're not exactly helping us right now. The only other place would be..." he looked rather cross at having to say this... "books. Nasty, ugly, decrepit old dark magic books. They don't exactly check those out at the city public library..."
"Hogwarts has a very large library," Remus put in quietly. "And I seem to remember a large amount of old, dusty, decrepit books about dark magics."
Sirius actually grinned. "Riiight, the restricted section..."
"Which did not, contrary to your belief, have porn in it."

Samantha hid her grin behind her hand.
"Can't blame a horny teenage boy for dreaming," Sirius pointed out, still grinning.
"Right," said Moody, who wanted to pluck out his brain and put it through that chemical wash they kept at the back of potions classes, just to be cleansed from the visual image that was a young Sirius Black prowling the restricted section for magickal pornography, and opening up a giant, moving centerfold of a naked witch with magically enhanced tits in a pointed hat demonstrating lewd acts with her wand.

Yes. Chemical brain wash, please. If Snape was still around, he'd beg off for some of that stuff. It was for emergencies. This was an emergency.

"I think McGonagall would let us us the Hogwarts resources as long as I don't go turning any Malfoys into ferrets. I have to hand it to that bastard of a Death Eater, Crouch, that must've been devilishly fun to do..."

Too bad he was locked up in his own trunk for that incident. Anyway, Moody hated research. Looking at old dusty tomes written by people with their own biases and academic rhetoric... The best learning either came from doing or experiencing, especially when it came to defense against the dark arts.
He coughed and tried not to grin. "Turning students into animals isn't legal, Moody. Try to remember that. Anyway--we can go up to Hogwarts and try to find out enough about Horcruxes to know how to recognize one. And possibly track it."
"Without dying," Sirius put in.
"Obviously, that goes without saying. If you're too afraid of dying, though, you can stay behind..." Moody hinted.

"Anyway, Lupin, your idea is a sound one. I say we go, and go now. As you said, Black," he cast a look towards Sirius, "we don't have much time."

"Sounds reasonable," Kingsley supplied, standing as well.
"Wait a minute, we're not all going to go trooping into the Hogwarts library, are we?" Sirius inquired. "That might look a little...strange."
"You sure?" Sirius asked. She did look tired...
"Rest," Moody grunted. "How many people does it take to read books? Honestly, you'll be better use when you're rested up."
"Are you all right?" Sirius asked quietly.
Kingsley wasted no time in grabbing the floo powder, wanting to get away as quickly as possible before another argument could break out about something.

"Hogwarts library," he said, stepping into the flames, and Moody followed on his heels.
"Guess that leaves us," Sirius said to Remus, shrugging a bit.
"I guess it does," he replied with a faint, wan smile, and glanced at the doorway once--just to see if Tonks was going to appear--and then stepped into the flames.
Sirius followed, not without some reluctance. Samantha was exhausted, Tonks was more upset than he'd ever seen her...

But the Order was potentially on the trail of a Horcrux, and that ought to take precedence, right?



He didn't have time to decide before disappearing into the flames.

September 2008

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