After dinner the adults sent us upstairs so they could prepare for a meeting of the Order that was to take place that night. As they cleared the kitchen and gathered extra chairs, the eight of us grudgingly headed up the stairs, apart from Al, who skipped merrily up, uncaring of the important meeting.
We gathered in mine and Maria's room, since it was the closest, and Al went straight to the corner of the room, where Hanabi and Sakura were resting, and amused himself with feeding and grooming them, leaving the seven of us to discuss the Order.
"So, I've heard of it of course, but what exactly is the Order of the Phoenix?" I prompted once we were settled on the two beds.
"Its members work to counter the Heylin's attacks on our world and prevent them from gaining the support they need to gain total control." Clay spoke up, giving me the answer he had undoubtedly wrangled from one of the members since he arrived at headquarters.
"It's basically the anti-Death Eaters." Rai offered from where he slouched on the bed.
Clay huffed a laugh, rolling his eyes, but conceded, amused. "Yes, I suppose it is."
"Do you know what they're doing? What's happening?" I asked eagerly. I had continued to receive the Daily Prophet at home, but there had never been a mention of the type of behaviour I'd expected the Heylin to get up to now that Wuya was back. Just mundane front-page headlines. "The Daily Prophet hasn't been reporting anything unusual. Is that because nothing's really happening or because Fudge is still refusing to believe She's back?"
"They won't let us in on any of the meetings, of course, so we don't know all the details." Fernando started, sharing a grin with his twin.
"However, they didn't know about our new product: Extendable Ears. Basically made for this sort of thing." Ricardo winked at me as attention shifted back to his twin, who had begun talking again, and I knew then that they had been funded by the Triwizard winnings Rai and I had gifted them with at the beginning of the summer.
"Couldn't last forever though, I suppose." Fernando sighed, shrugging a shoulder. "Mum found out about them; you can imagine she wasn't too pleased. Confiscated the lot of them. And they make sure to hold the meetings outside of you lot's hearing range."
I could see the others shifting uncomfortably as they remembered my second question. I narrowed my eyes at Rai, raising an eyebrow expectantly. He looked at me for a moment before sighing in resignation.
"You've only been reading the front pages?" he asked tentatively.
"Yeah." I drew out the word in uncertainty, squinting at him. "That's where any news of them would be, wouldn't it?" He fidgeted, and the others once again cast glances at each other. "What?" I looked around at them in suspicion.
"Well…" Rai began reluctantly. "You're right. Any big stories would be on the front page, but there haven't been any. The Heylin seem to be keeping a low profile for the time being."
I nodded, though by their expressions I could tell there's more. "But…?"
Rai started to wring his hands, worrying his fingers. "Fudge is still denying that She's back. He's sticking by what he said last year in the Hospital Wing."
And then I understood what he was struggling to tell me. "He's still saying we're mad."
Rai nodded slowly with a bitter smile. "He's…uh…if you look near the back of almost every issue…he's got them writing about us." He shrugged. "I believe the exact words were traumatised, attention seeking children."
I sighed, more upset than angry about it. It had been going on for a month now, it wasn't as if I could erase it from existence. "Do you think people believe it?" I asked quietly, not able to look him in the eye.
"Some people probably do." He answered, equally as quietly. "But the people who matter don't. We've just gotta remember that."
I nodded, raising my head to look him in the eye. "The worst part is that no one is being warned that She's back. That they're together again. Strong again. They're totally unprepared for whenever She decides to make her move."
"I think that's what the Order is working on at the moment." Maria piped up. "Getting information out. But it's slow going as they can't just let everyone know. It has to be specific people, at certain times. They're starting with the old Order. Well, those that are alive."
I nodded thoughtfully, before a thought hit me. "Where's Pedro? I didn't see him at dinner."
It didn't escape my notice that the four Pedrosas tensed at my words. I watched in confusion as Ricardo glanced over his shoulder to where Al was chatting away to Hanabi, before leaning forwards and lowering his voice. "He stood by his precious Minister."
"What!?" I blinked, unable to comprehend what he was implying.
"Yeah." Maria agreed lowly. "He and dad had this huge fight when they started to reform the Order. He stuck by the Minister, because of course he can do no wrong, and dad stuck by Master Fung. P…Pedro said that Master Fung was a senile old fool who was stupid to believe the fanciful tales of two attention seeking students."
I shook my head. "But-" I glanced at Rai, who was staring intently at his hands, tightly balled into fists in his lap.
"Yeah." Fernando sneered. "He chose that idiot Fudge over his own family. Said a few choice words about dad and his place in the Ministry too. He moved out that night. Just ignored mum when she ran after him. Just disapparated. We haven't seen him since."
I bit my lip. I had been sure that the Pedrosas were someone I could rely on to believe me; all of them. Sure, Pedro and I had never been close, but he was still someone I would call, at least, a friend. And Rai, his own brother… I couldn't imagine how horrible it must've been for him to hear such things about him coming from his big brother's mouth. And he would've heard it, no doubt. If Pedro had said such a thing about his brother, there would've undoubtedly been a screaming match between him and Antonio, and Rai could've heard that from anywhere in the house…
"Just…don't mention it to mum or dad?" Maria muttered, glancing back at Al. "Or Al. We're just lucky he was asleep. We told him Pedro went away for work. Just like Juan and Carlos."
I nodded, reaching over to take Rai's fists in my hands. His knuckles were white with the pressure he was exerting and his eyes, when I managed to see them beneath his fringe, which fell over his downturned face, looked suspiciously wet. I squeezed it gently, rubbing over the knuckles with my thumb until they loosened, Rai looking up at me with a tiny smile.
"Is there anywhere we can blow off some steam?" I spoke up once Rai was relaxed again, glancing around at the others and ignoring their expressions. I knew if I dwelt on it too long I would start blushing, and Rai would get suspicious and look into my thoughts and… "You know, spar, use our elements…or something."
"Mum's been nagging us to help clean this place since we got here." Fernando piped up, still looking at Rai and I with a strange softness in his gaze. "Sirius' parents were rather into their Dark Arts and so there's more than a few dangerous, or just plain nasty, bits and bobs in this old place."
"There's this large room, like a ballroom or a dining room or something." Ricardo added. "It's got a large empty space, a wardrobe whose clothes we're pretty sure are enchanted, and curtains possibly full of Doxys. Does that sound like the sort of thing you're thinking of?"
I glanced at Rai and caught his usual smirk twitching at the corners of his mouth. "Mum would be pleased to know we're finally starting to help, I suppose. Then again, it'd just be more proof that you're a good influence on us. I'm pretty sure that's what she's been thinking all along."
I grinned. "What are we waiting for then? Let's go."