Chapter 60 - Looking Ahead

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A/N: I just wanted to say thank you to all the lovely people who have commented on this series so far. Thank you so much for reading and thank you so much for taking the time to tell me how much you are enjoying it. I am so sorry for the delay in posting the rest of this story - my father was very ill last year and it pushed everything else down the priority scale, unfortunately with fanfiction right at the bottom. He's well on the mend now and I am just about catching up, so here are the next chapters of DPO - I hope they were worth the wait :)

~*~

February slipped into March with the most interesting thing happening being an unfortunate explosion of tiny sugar hearts all over the Great Hall on Valentine's day. Everyone had been finding them for weeks. Harry and Draco expanded the number of people with access to their new devices with more Weasleys, Tonks, and those in school who had taken the Hecatemus oath.

It was a nice quiet, uneventful few weeks, so of course it couldn't last.

Harry was finishing his evening meal while reading over a very industrious Ravenclaw's ideas for teaching Quidditch to her year, when the whispering started. Two Hufflepuffs had just entered the Great Hall and were talking excitedly to members of their house still at dinner. It was only the last few as Harry had been late himself, having had to deal with escorting one of his first years to the hospital wing after the boy had fallen while doing something enormously stupid.

Draco had gone to set up the Room of Requirement for their weekly meeting with Hilde, which was why he was by himself in the first place.

Something about the body language of the Hufflepuffs put him on edge. He could see whatever they were telling their friends spreading like a wave through the remaining pupils. This definitely wasn't good. He had just made the decision to go over and find out what was going on when a hand brushed him lightly on the shoulder.

Of course he turned immediately. That is was Professor McGonagall was not a surprise, he had automatically recognised her magical signature, but the grave expression on her face said far more than words.

"Voldemort?" he asked.

She nodded.

"He has made his first public move," Professor McGonagall told him, "there has been an attack."

"Where?"

"Tintagel," she replied, "the magical part."

"How many?"

"Three killed, twelve injured."

His blood ran cold. So far Voldemort's efforts had been confined to him and those he knew, whatever the insane wizard had been up to behind the scenes. This was a new step, a public declaration of war against a civilian target.

"Thank you," he said and stood up.

His appetite was gone, there was no point in staying in the Great Hall.

[What is it?] Draco asked.

[It's begun,] was all he replied.

~*~

Draco could tell Harry was thinking dark thoughts even without touching his soulmate's mind. When Harry walked into the Room of Requirement the frown that marred his face was more than clear.

"It's really beginning," Harry said, sitting down at the table Draco had requested for this session; "he's starting to show his hand."

"Frankly I'm amazed he waited this long," Draco said and finally Harry looked up at him, slight surprise showing on his expressive face. "Ever since the Ministry joined with the Order I've been expecting reprisals. If he's moving then he thinks he has the upper hand and we know he doesn't."

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