Chapter 1: The Final Straw
“Boy. House. Now.”
A short young man, looking about 15 cringed at the tone of his uncle’s voice, though long years of living with the Dursley’s have taught him better than to delay. Carefully pulling his trunk out of the boot of his Uncle’s car, he quickly made his way into the house. Fear quickly shoved the pain of recent events out of his mind as he noticed his huge Uncle’s face turning a particularly vile shade of puce. ‘Why couldn’t they leave well enough alone?’ the young wizard thought to himself. He knew Mad-Eye and the others MEANT well, but they could not understand the sheer depth of Vernon’s hatred of anything that didn’t finish his narrow view of ‘normal.’ Not only that, but Vernon considered himself to be the king of his home, and would brook no one telling him what he could and could not do. The threats the Order gave him would be sure to push the already rotund man over the edge. His Aunt Petunia and their son followed behind the young man, one with a pinched face and one with an almost expectant gaze.
“So,” the enraged man grumbled as he grabbed the young wizard by the neck and threw him further in the hallway, “You thought you could make up any story you wanted, and it would never reach us. Is that it boy?” The large man advanced on the younger one as his wife shut the door, making sure the neighbors wouldn’t see a thing. “We fed you, we sheltered you, and you make up stories about us to your freaky friends, so that they think your life is in danger. Is that the way it is boy?” Vernon bellowed the last question as he grabbed the returning teen by the neck, shaking him violently.
Harry Potter felt something snap in his neck with that shake, causing the lower parts of him to go numb. In his mind though he could not really find the strength to care. Instead he wished for a quick death as compared to the slow painful death he was about to receive. ‘Mum, Dad, Sirius, I’ll be there shortly . . . ‘ Somewhere deep within him the strength to protest welled up unbidden as he answered, “N . . . No Uncle Vernon, I didn’t tell them any . . . anything.” His neck felt like it was on fire as his breath hitched, making the young man’s words come out scratchy and segmented.
“I’ll not be lied to Boy. Nor will any freaks tell me what I can and can’t do in my own house,” the puce colored man bellowed into his nephew’s face, covering him with spittle as he did so. But before Vernon could say anything else a loud bark echoed down the stairs from Harry’s room. Disgusted, he threw the black-haired man onto the stairs, causing the younger man to fall in a heap. Beady eyes glanced up the stairs before the older man turned toward his son, who like Vernon resembled a young whale more than a human. “Dudley, go kill that ruddy owl. It’s not as if the freak will need it ever again.”
At the sneered words of his uncle Harry found the strength to do something. He didn’t care much about himself at this point, but at least he could save one of his first friends. “NO!” he cried as he tried to scramble up the stairs, only to find his hand stepped on by his cousin as the young whale began to make his way up the stairs. Even though Harry’s hand flared in pain with a few audible pops, he couldn’t give up. Screaming what was soon to be his last words, he called out, “Hedwig, go get help! Fly away, fly for your life!” He was rewarded with a bark and hiss, then the sounds of a bird flapping away desperately.
This of course did not sit well with the Dursleys. Dudley climbed the stairs as quickly as he could and threw open the door, only to see Hedwig disappear into the sky. Petunia stood back, grimacing as her son came out of the freak’s room to report the bird gone. Vernon’s face turned darker and his lips paled into whiteness as his anger pushed him closer to heart-attack levels. “You’ll pay for that Boy. I won’t have to worry about your freaky friends. A call to the police will take care of things nicely. Though you won’t be around to witness it,” Coming up with what he thought would be a brilliant idea, he looked up at his son. “Dudders, it’s time for one final game of “Harry Hunting.”“ Dudley, sharing a wide grin of malicious glee with his Uncle, came back down stairs to start using the young wizard like a punching bag . . .
Ministry of Magic
Department of Mysteries
Deep within the Ministry of Magic, a grey-robed man walked quietly through a large room full of shelves. Every once in a while he’d stop, look around, and peer closely at the shelves, or more to the point the glass Orbs on them. Quite a few shelves were new though, and almost all of the orbs that would have occupied those shelves were long since swept up as shattered glass. Normally one would think the orbs would not shatter from mere impacts, but due to the very nature of the orbs in this room, that was one of two ways that they could be used. Thus when the battle occurred in this room a few short weeks ago a great many of the orbs became lost. It was sad really, for these orbs contained every prophesy that had still had validity in the modern world. Some were thousands of years old, some were recent. The topics they covered ranged from fish migrations in the Channel to the End of the World and everything in between.
A great many people wondered just how these prophesies got here, after all some of them were made on dying breaths of Seers and Prophets over millennia, and would therefore be impossible to get. This man knew the answer to that question, one of only three that did. He reflected on this method as he looked at some of the oldest prophesies in this room, sparing a glance toward the back of the large room. At the back of the room was another door that led into a smaller chamber, one only partly filled with some of the most important prophesies ever to be uttered. In the center of that smaller room stood a pedestal with a round stand on it. When a prophesy was made somewhere in the world, It would glow and produce a glass sphere with the prophesy inside. Most cases that orb would simply float to one of the shelves to be stored until it was retrieved. The important ones however, those that were to be ignored at the subject’s peril, would emit a small chime until someone would collect it and either store it or notify those involved. The most important of these would set off an alarm to notify this man or the other two so as to allow immediate decisions to be made.
The Unspeakable (for that is who this man was) found the events of a few weeks ago highly ironic. The fight here was over a prophesy that should have been given to one of the participants when he reached eleven years old. At least, that was according to Magical Law. The fact it wasn’t caused a major investigation into what precisely happened, headed by no one other than the head of the DMLE, Amelia Bones, herself. The keeper of this room wasn’t worried about charges being pressed against him however, mainly due to the fact that the reason this particular prophesy was not only misfiled but mishandled boiled down to one man: Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore. Why Dumbledore demanded that such an important prophesy be placed in the lower security section of the DOM is something the man swore would never quite understand, but he did. And he pulled every string he had as Supreme Mugwump of the ICW and Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot to make sure the prophesy was where it was housed until its destruction. These strings included a blanket denial of access not only to He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named but also to the other persons who it could apply to. With an importance rating of nine on a one to ten scale (10's being the end of the entire planet), it should have gone at least to the Potter and Longbottom parents when it was first made. At the very least, Harry Potter should have been notified on his eleventh birthday. There was even talk within the DOM that he would be offered whatever training he would need, at least amongst the highest ranking Unspeakables.
But that was nipped in the bud as well, very shortly after the attack on Godric’s Hollow. Dumbledore had put a ban on the prophesy so that even if the Boy-Who-Lived came down there to view it, as was his right by Wizarding Law, he could not without the presence of the old man himself. The keeper of the prophesy hall found this strange, but kept his mouth shut both at the time and as recently as a month ago, when that particular prophesy was last discussed. It did not bode well to anger the Leader of the Light, even when one was a part of an almost completely autonomous part of the Ministry. The Old Man simply had too many contacts. Looking back however, he realized just how much of a mistake that was. Now not only was half or more of the prophesies in this room destroyed, but a man died. The keeper knew Black from before the attack, and had been monitoring him for selection in the DOM, and was not happy to see such promise thrown away like a pawn. This death of course brought the man’s thoughts back to the Headmaster of Hogwarts, a topic that was sure to sour his stomach.
He would have continued to think along this path for a couple of hours at least as he resumed walking, but just as he rounded the corner a loud klaxon sounded from the room at the end of the hall. Turning around quickly, the man made his way to the door and cast the spell required to open it. Sure enough, it was the pedestal’s alarm, as loud as he had ever heard it. On the pedestal stood a glass ball on a short round brass stand. A myriad of colors swirled within, and right in front of it was a brass plaque for identification of whom the prophesy was about and from whom it was made. As he walked over to the pedestal he looked down at the plague, reading the message etched there:
LL to XL 01 JUL 96
Harry James Potter
Lily Potter (nee’ Evans)
The Keeper stood there for a few moments to mull over this situation. Before he got very far however the door behind him opened again and another man in a grey hooded cloak stepped in, as well as a man in a grey hooded cloak that was let down. The un-hooded man walked over and glanced at the first line and nearly fainted from shock.
“Close your mouth, you’ll attract flies,” The second hooded man chuckled, breaking the silence in the room. “LL to XL. Luna Lovegood to Xenophilius Lovegood, July 1, 1996 . . . Well, that explains why Croaker’s trying to swallow the room. Then again, we knew she was a Seer.” Looking down the list of names, he blinked a couple of times. “This just keeps getting weirder and weirder.”
Croaker had just managed to close his mouth and was about to address his two compatriots when another alarm sounded. This one came from the rotating room that served as the foyer for the “publicly accessible” part of the Department of Mysteries. What caught everyone’s attention as there was only one room accessible from there with that kind of alarm. The three men turned on their heals and quickly ran from the high-security room back to the spinning room. As they arrived, they noticed a door opened that was /never/ even unlocked, much less open. Nor were the three men alone. Inside the spinning room stood a total of eight people in grey Unspeakable cloaks, the last one having just entered and shutting the Locked Door behind him. But what was strangest of all, at least in the lead Unspeakable’s mind, was that he didn’t recognize ANY of the badges on these people, nor any of their code names.
“Excuse me,” the one of the entering trio who was obviously in charge announced as he pointed a wand at the assembled group, “Who are you and how did you get into that room?” Croaker and the other Unspeakable drew their wands at this point as well, covering the speaker against a room full of people.
Normally an Unspeakable’s cloak has a charm on it to allow another person to see the face through the hood, should that person be allowed to either by the wearer of the cloak, or by the Head Officers of the Unspeakables. But when what appeared by gait to be a young, very confident man came forward, the hood would not reveal who it was. The man’s badge read, Charlemagne, Leader Team Gamma. The power rankings were maxed out, and by the code along the bottom of the badge he seemed most adept in Battle Magic. But the badge did not need to even be considered for power ratings, for it was obvious just being around him that this young man was much more powerful than the average Wizard. This gave the Unspeakable in Charge a cause for concern until he noticed the young man was holding an envelope and a shrunken and lightened box in his hand.
“I know you don’t know me,” said the young man’s baritone voice, “But I am Team Leader Charlemagne, and those five are the rest of my team. The other two are the objectives we were sent after,” he explained, motioning to each group as he spoke of them. “I would explain more as to who they are, but there’s another emergency that you need to know about, Code Violet.”
This got the Head Unspeakable’s sole attention as he absently took both the envelope and the box. Emergency codes were based upon the color spectrum, but unlike their muggle counterparts the least emergent of the codes was black, followed by red. They increased until White was reached. In the entire history of the Department of Mysteries there had only ever been one Code White, and that was during the Grindelwald years when he attempted to invade the DOM by massive force. While Code White called for the immediate assembly and action by every single Unspeakable in the entire department, Code Violet was almost the same level save that it called for immediate use of one or more Unspeakables, no questions asked. There had been only a few in the History of the Unspeakables, mainly those times when action was required or the entire Wizarding World would collapse. Nodding at once, he looked at the Team Leader and stood aside to let him to go on.
Instead of explaining what was going on, he turned toward the group and started to give orders, “Sun Tsu, Selene, you go to the Lovegood residence and pick up Ms. Lovegood. Bring her back here, but remember, she can see through these things without permission. And then go to the Granger residence and pick up Ms. Granger. Remember her parents won’t be happy to see you.” Two figures nodded and moved at once, as if they were either related or knew each other very well. “Phoebe, Athena, I need you to go to the Longbottom residence, and collect Mr. Longbottom. Mrs. Longbottom will be reticent, but you can tell her it has to deal with the reason he was in the Department of Mysteries. I will collect Mr. And Miss Weasley after I get our most dire case back here. Liber, you head to the Misuse of Muggle Artifacts Office and speak with Mr. Weasley. Tell him we’ll need to talk with him at home. If he’s not there, wait for me outside the Burrow. Raptor, Firebrand, I need you to stay here and organize a triage. One of the people we’ll be bringing back will be in very bad shape. Don’t answer any questions until I’m back with the Weasley.”
Everyone else nodded, but the first two to break off paused at the door. “Charlie,” the shorter female cautioned, “You might want to let Athena and Raptor come with you. I know the situation, but you’ll need help at your first stop, and numbers will help you deal with Mrs. Weasley as well, even if Mr. Weasley is there.” She spoke as if she knew exactly what she was talking about, which caused a pause in the Team Leader’s thoughts.
The two stared at each other for a moment as if communicating on some unknown level, then Charlemagne nodded once. “Very well. Raptor, Athena, you’re with me. Phoebe, I think you can handle the Longbottoms by yourself, just remember Ms. Augusta can be a bit . . . formal. Firebrand, you know the drill, I’ll leave you here as before. Okay team, let’s move.” With this the team left the circular room out the correct door, moving pretty fast.
Croaker, having been an Unspeakable for ages, gave Firebrand a thoroughly appraising look before saying, “Firebrand, I knew someone with that code name. I wasn’t aware we reused code names so soon . . . “ If the statement was meant as a question, the last remaining Gamma Team member didn’t answer. Instead she looked toward a couple of others that had entered during the lobby during the commotion and started to give out orders.
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry
Albus Dumbledore eased himself into the chair of his office and allowed himself a chance to relax. This had been a good year for him. Not a great one, considering he had to spend part of his time in that damnable Shrieking Shack hiding from Fudge, but a good one just the same. Nearly everything went according to plan, though some things not quite in the way that he expected. Still, you couldn’t make an omelette without breaking some eggs, right?
First, he successfully put a wedge between the members of the Golden Trio. Oh, it wasn’t a big one, but there was one and they didn’t even notice it! His plan to keep Mr. Weasley and Ms. Granger from writing Mr. Potter worked perfectly. Naturally Mr. Potter would see the lack of information as a betrayal. It was only human to think along those lines, and despite the brat’s annoying habit to get himself out of tight situations time and time again, he was still only human. This would put some doubts in the head of the so-called “Chosen One” about his closest friends, doubts that the Headmaster would indeed encourage. The Boy-Who-Lived was getting a bit too comfortable, a bit too reliant upon the other two for Dumbledore’s tastes. No, it was better that the Trio were split and held at arm’s length from Mr. Potter at best, merely tolerated preferable.
To this end he would impose the same letter writing ban as last year for the first part of Summer. But the Potter boy would not know of it. No, that would not do. Instead he’d plant some tidbits of information about the other two growing closer to each other, and inform Harry of another, safer, route for letters to be passed amongst them. Not that the other two would know about THAT. No, that would not do at all. Maybe he could find a way to let the Weasley girl contact Potter. It was time to start steering them together anyway. After all, after the Weasley girl’s possession, it would be a simple matter to control her thoughts, thus steering them in the directions he saw fit. That would be best. Dumbledore was tiring of being in the spotlight, and it almost seemed inevitable that Potter would rise even higher. So his best bet was to be the power behind the throne. Let Potter take the reins as it were, but control where the boy would steer.
To this end, he’d need the boy to be pliable. The grandfatherly image was a good start, but not quite good enough. Especially after Black’s death. Now there was an unexpected boon. No, he didn’t want the man killed. Instead he had hoped that Black would do something rash and get himself caught again. Then he could rush in and convince Fudge not to give the Marauder the kiss. He’d have to go back to prison of course. Too bad, but that was unfortunately unavoidable. But that would cement his position in Potter’s heart. But no, Black had to get himself killed. At first the old man cursed the younger for his rampant stupidity. But after sleeping on the destruction of his office for a night he realized things couldn’t have gone better. Now with the boy broken like he was, all Albus had to do was wait until Harry was good and tenderized at his relative’s home, then rush in and take the boy away from them, for good.
Yes, this would be the last summer the young wizard would have to spend at the Dursley residence. Oh, he toyed of making the boy go back until he was 17, but that had a couple of Major flaws to it. First was Petunia Dursley. She was of course a squib, as was all the Evans’s except for Lily. But unlike most squibs, the Evans’s were taught everything about the Wizarding World, for the family at one time was a major go-between family between their world and the muggle world. They provided the link that allowed for raw materials and even some production processing for clothing, food and the like. That focus had been shifted to another family when Lily was discovered to be a witch. After all it would have been far too easy for the young witch to discover some of the well-hidden secrets of the Evans lines now. So, the Jacobsons moved in and took over the Evans role, and for the first time in several centuries this caused the children of Evans House to be treated like they were supposed to. Petunia resented the change, and resented being a squib, causing a major rift between sisters. So when Lily Potter nee’ Evans died, and Albus needed a place to put young Harry, Petunia made the old man give an oath that as soon as Potter was considered an adult that the Headmaster would remove “the freak.” And as if that wasn’t bad enough, the bitter woman also knew that Mr. Potter would become Lord Potter on his 16th birthday, that being when the law required that the Heir of a deceased Head of House take their place as Head. This granted immediate emancipation as well, something that could not be avoided.
Some would say that the best way to handle that would be to keep the boy in the dark and refuse to let him go anywhere near the Ministry or the goblins. But Dumbledore knew that to be a bad move. First it was Wizarding Law, and there were far too many people interested in the boy for that to work. Not to mention the rather horrendous backlash if/when the boy discovered the truth. Even more so, since if he was right, young Mr. Potter was about to become the head of the Black Family as well. That was the second flaw to any plans of keeping him there for another summer. If anyone truly found out what life was like there . . .
Dumbledore was shaken out of his reverie by a bright pulse and violent rattling from his desk. Opening a secret drawer, he glanced at the monitoring objects within. Two of them were alarming rather loudly. First was health monitor on the boy. This one had been most helpful through the years, but the alarm now was rather unexpected. It was darkening quickly, meaning that Potter was near death. This combined with the monitor of the wards on Privet drive which showed that they had collapsed caused the Headmaster to go very pale. Standing up immediately he looked over to the portraits. “Please have Professor McGonagall meet me at the front gates immediately. Tell her young Mr. Potter is in trouble.” Then after thinking a moment he sent a patronus toward Privet Drive telling the guards there to wait for his arrival before entering the house. After this he turned and left, hoping that he would not be too late.
Number 4 Privet Drive
Little Whinging, Surrey
The Boy Who Lived was in serious trouble. He had just lapsed into unconsciousness, though that did not stop the rain of blows pouring over his body. Petunia had stood by with a look on her face reminiscent of having a peace of dung under her nose, watching without protest. She was not egging her husband and her son on, but at the same time she wasn’t about to stop them. In truth, she hated her nephew as much as Vernon did, but lacked the courage to do anything to him personally. Instead, she satisfied herself with watching her family kill the freak. She would help with disposal later. Not that she would apparently have to wait much longer, as the young wizard’s breathing became more ragged and hollow with each passing moment. She quietly cheered that her time with the freakish part of her family would be at an end very soon.
But alas, such a release was not meant to be hers as three almost simultaneous “pops” were heard in the sparse bedroom upstairs. But Petunia had barely enough time to look up before the door swung open hard, slamming into the wall it was attached to. This sudden noise was enough to give the two males a start, which had left them paused in their beating of the young boy. Two red beams of light shot down the stairs, catching them both in the chest and launching them back into the corner near the front door. A loud, authoritative voice echoed from upstairs after the beams of light saying, “Department of Magical Law Enforcement. DO NOT MOVE!”
“Out of my house!” Petunia shrieked as she started forward, only to find a wand in her face. She had not seen the person in the grey hooded cloak come down the stairs, so his rapid appearance succeeded in startling her thoroughly. She, of anyone here other than her nephew, knew the most of the Wizarding World so she understood from the stance the person in front of her that she would be severely hexed if she even thought of moving. Out of the corner of her eyes she caught another two grey-cloaked figures moving, one toward the front door and one toward her nephew. “You have no right to interfere . . . “ her next words died on her lips as the wand held against her was thrust violently right in between her eyes, causing her to stagger back.
“I have every right to interfere in an attempted murder. We could add child abuse and Muggle Assault on a Wizarding Minor as well, Ms. Dursley,” the man facing her growled out. She could tell the man in front of her was angry, very much so. He also sounded a little familiar to her, but she couldn’t quite place the sounds. Either way, she knew she was in trouble, though her pride would not let her let it rest. “He’s just an abnormal freak. Good riddance to bad rubbish.” She quickly found out that this was the wrong thing to say however as a red light flashed in front of her, sending her back into a wall. Suddenly she was bound, and when she tried to speak next she found no sound coming from her at all. Frantically she looked over toward her husband, as if seeking aid.
But aid would not be forthcoming from that area either. The small table next to her front door was demolished, as was the vase on it. The glass of the window panes next to the door were also broken, and the wall next to the door was also showing signs of severe breakage. Her mind didn’t even register the sounds of them being thrown into the wall and door again while she was confronting the man with the wand trained on her, but apparently they received the same treatment she did. She became scared for the first time as the man that was supposed to protect her was as much at the mercy of these freaks as she was. And her son was hurt, adding to her horror. Who would do such a thing to her Dudders? How could these people defend the worthless freak and assault good honest people? Fear only spurred her loathing even further, though she felt utterly powerless at the moment. Then she remembered seeing a third shape. Absolutely terrified of having another freak demolishing her home, she looked around hurriedly to find the third person bent over her nephew. This was simply too much for the woman as she started to rage against her bonds, trying to get free to either finish the job of her husband and son or to rescue said family. The two men covering the muggles switched places, and the one who appeared to be in charge stood before her.
“Ostendo sum mihi ut Petunia Dursley,” she heard the voice from the man above her whisper. Afraid that he cast some kind of spell on her, she looked up in time to see the face of the leader. She was deeply shocked into silence as the man leaned over to come a few inches from her face. “You had better hope Mr. Potter forgets all about you, Mrs. Dursley. Or your life will not be worth one pence. And make no mistake, he WILL survive this. If Voldemort cannot kill him, what makes you think slime like you could even aspire to such feats?” Those last words were followed by another flash of bright light then darkness.
Watching Charlemagne enter this house after all that he had been through was both fascinating and very worrying. She knew her leader knew what they would find, but she didn’t know how he would take it. The man had been through so much already, and to go through this now was going to be a test of sorts. How well will he handle this? Would he kill the Dursley’s? What would happen when Dumbledore showed up? That confrontation would be unavoidable, as much as confronting the family here was. How good or bad would things go. The future was very cloudy at this point, and only time would tell.
First things first though, to get down there. They arrived in young Mr. Potters room, only to find it full of boxes and the door locked. It looked like the Dursley’s had used the place as storage during the school year, and had replaced the door. The door looked new with four new locks, and no cat door. Interesting, she would have thought there would be one there. After all she heard, she would have expected it. Still, the door was locked and time was of the essence. So as Raptor and Charlie were both struck dumb by the decor of this room (though for different reasons), Athena decided to open the door. At the same time she wanted to make a statement, so she used Expelliarmus instead of Alohamora. The door was nearly blasted off of its hinges, swinging wide to hit the wall beside it. This not only caused what was happening downstairs to stop, but it alerted the only other person down there that was conscious that things were different now.
The two men went out into the hallway and started downstairs first, firing silent expelliarmus’s as they went. Athena could tell whatever they saw angered them, though their faces seemed a curious contrast of emotions considering they actually looked a lot a alike. Raptor’s face seemed to contain an anger that she only usually saw in Charlemagne’s face, one of such bottomless rage as to be absolutely terrifying to whoever he looked to that way. Not that his targets could tell of that expression underneath those hoods, but it promised a slow, painful death to the people below. Charlemagne, on the other hand, seemed angered, but at the same time haunted. Of course Athena knew full well why the haunted look was there, but this was no time to say anything about it. Both of the men had already moved into the hallway and down the stairs, leaving Athena to catch up.
As she hit the bottom of the stairs she came to a near sudden stop. Quickly she had to suppress the urge to throw up, followed by another urge to punish the muggles present for the unforgivable atrocities they committed upon their victim. The young man was broken, almost laterally as he laid there bent forward at a nearly impossible angle half-way down the back. His neck was almost hanging limply as blood poured out of his ears, nose, and mouth. Both legs had compound fractures in several places, and each arm seamed to have two more. Already the body was bloating from internal bleeding, and his face looked nearly crushed. “Habitum in vita,” she said aloud. Instantly the body froze and all blood stopped flowing as time ceased to exist as far as Harry Potter was concerned. Ignoring the almost spitting rage of Raptor and the cold, calculated rage of Charlie, she instead took out a small silver box and placed it on the ground beside the body. Pressing the top of the box with her wand, she watched as several thin metal cables reached out and attached themselves to the body. Once they were attached, the box glowed a faint red and paused. Only then did she breath a sigh of relief, only to have it fall as she heard Charlemagne cast the Ostendo charm. She looked up to see Charlie get in the older woman’s face, snarling with such anger as to be palpable in the room. After he said his piece she watched as he pointed his wand at her and stun her. She let go of a breath she wasn’t even aware she was holding in hopes he wouldn’t kill her outright.
Just then there were two pops out in the front yard indicating someone had apparated here. Raptor’s head snapped to the door, followed by his touching his eyeglasses for a moment. Athena did not need him to say another word as to who was out there though. From the look on the man’s face there could only be one person it could be. Dumbledore. “We need to go,” Athena said quietly but insistently. “The old man can wait, but Harry cannot. He’s in stasis, but I dare not hold it forever.” She sincerely hoped that her words would penetrate her companion’s rage-filled heads, for she did not want to have to deal with keeping them alive s well as Harry Potter.
Raptor glared in the door so hard it could have erupted in flames. But Athena’s words apparently won true as he nodded. “Charlie,” the man said quietly, “ We need to get out of here before . . . “ Just then a familiar tingle seemed to come from their chests. “Damn, anti-app wards are up. Can I take care of the Great Betrayer, please?” Raptor’s face looked absolutely vicious but at the same time hopefully innocent which came across as promising great violence and death.
Charlie wasn’t fooled for a moment though and shook his head. “No, I’ll keep them busy, you break through the wards. We leave in one minute, make it quick.” Not stopping to watch Raptor pull out a silver tube, Charlie marched to the door and threw it open. A reddish stunning bolt flashed against a shield from one of his devices as he raised his wand. Firing four stunners of his own caused two distinct THUMPS on the ground, indicating that only two were strong enough to block them. “Department of Magical Law Enforcement. Freeze!” Athena moved out further into the hallway to both cover Raptor and watch what was happening outside.
Outside, in a straight line to the doorway stood Albus Dumbledore and Nymphadora Tonks, those being the only two who’s shields could take the stunners. Dumbledore looked back at them in shock, obviously expecting anything else but what he was seeing. She saw the headmaster reach up and slide his half-moon glasses up to his eyes, only for his eyes to widen even more as he realized the obscurity spells on the cloaks could not be circumvented. Knowing full well he couldn’t let them take Harry Potter out of there, he decided to try his position card first. “I’m Albus Dumbledore, Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot. I’m here for my magical dependent, Harry Potter. You have no authority to keep me from him. Stand aside, or be guilty of kidnaping.”
A mirthless chuckle echoed out from under Charlie’s cloak while his wand pointed directly at the Headmaster. “You are not his Magical Guardian, old man. That was Sirius Black, to be followed by Remus Lupin, or Amelia Bones. Of course, the head of the DMLE doesn’t know about that, does she? Or, didn’t at any rate. Either way, Mr. Potter is severely injured from the people you’ve illegally placed him with. He requires immediate medical attention or he won’t live the next hour. As a member of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, I order you to lower your anti-apparition wards or be guilty of being an accomplice to Murder of a Wizarding Youth, child abuse, and aggravated assault of a Wizarding Youth via Muggles.”
Dumbledore paled at the insinuation that the austere head of the DMLE now knew of her role, but quickly hid it as he responded, “He is unsafe at the Ministry or St. Mungoes. We will take him to Madame Pomfrey, who is more then capable of handling the injuries that Mr. Potter has obtained. I’m sure he’s not as bad off as you say . . . “ He was interrupted by what sounded like a crash of a complete set of china. A bright blue light flashed as the wards fell, followed by three sharp cracks. The only person left was the man in the grey cloak, who even the Headmaster could tell was smirking, even if he couldn’t see the face. “Halt! You’re . . . . “
That was as far as the old man got before finding a wand pressed against his forehead. “Even the Chief of the Wizengamot is held under the laws of the land, Dumbledore,” the man’s voice hissed from under the hood. “Heed this well, you have committed your last illegal act against Harry Potter. He will not be returning to Hogwarts in the fall, and when you next see him . . . Well, I’d wish mercy on your black soul, but I don’t think there will be any.” With this the man in grey apparated away, leaving a stunned man and Auror gaping at the house. Police sirens soon were heard from a block away, headed in their direction.
Near Blackpool, Lancashire
Neville was nervous as his Gran picked him up at King’s Cross. The fact she looked more formal and uptight than usual did not bode well for her reactions when they managed to get home. In fact he briefly entertained the notion of trying to get the Weasley’s to hang around a bit longer at the station, but Mr. Weasley’s participation in the quelling of Harry’s Uncle put paid to that idea. And even if that hadn’t, the fact that Augusta was all but politely dragging Neville along did nothing to make him believe he could hope to stave off his Gran’s lecture any longer than she wanted it to. She did pause to watch the spectacle with Harry’s Uncle though, long enough to shake her head in disgust. “They are obviously not doing any good,” she said tritely but softly. “I have half a mind . . . “ Looking down and her grandson cut that off however. Neville knew then he was in for it.
As they arrived home from the station, the Longbottom Regent snapped her fingers to summon a House Elf. “Toby, take Master Longbottom’s chest into his suite,” not even waiting for a reply from the elf, she turned her head to the side so she could glance at him. “Master Longbottom, follow me into the sitting room.” With this she strode off, leaving Neville to follow. Quickly he brought everything to mind that happened this year. The DA, Umbridge, the Inquisitorial Squad, and finally the Department of Mysteries ran through his mind. As he finally arrived in the sitting room, he decided the best way to handle this would be to stand for his actions as a Head of House would, with confidence and conviction. He would show his Gran the new side of her Grandson, the side that would not leave a friend to face danger by himself. The kind of man that fulfilled all obligations, especially those of friendship and alliance.
It was the last DA meeting before the Christmas hols, and Neville Longbottom was tired, but satisfied. Harry was a good teacher, patient, caring, charismatic, and honest. Neville had been watching Harry through this, and while he did not want to be in his friend’s shoes, he definitely wanted to be more like him. He was tired of feeling inferior to his own family, just as he was tired of being a disappointment to his Grandmother. For once, he’d like to do something that would make his parents proud of him. He had no doubts they would all be pleased to have Harry as The Longbottom, so with this in mind he had made a promise to himself earlier this year to study his friend closely, so that he could learn how to be more . . . well, like Harry.
But he knew that the one of the fastest ways to alienate Harry was to be like the fan boys and girls out there. He knew that the moment he started to watch Harry too much he’d find himself pushed just a bit further away. Not that Harry would ever give up on him. That wasn’t Harry’s way. No, he’d just draw Ron and Hermione closer to him to act as a buffer. Rather than alienate the raven-haired youth, he decided that today he’d ask Harry straight out for some pointers, and hopefully bring himself closer to the Golden Trio. With this in mind, he walked up to the Heir of the Potter Family and waited for him to wave the next group on. Then he cleared his throat and spoke formally, “Harry James Potter, Heir to the Most Ancient and Noble House of Potter, I, Neville Longbottom, Heir to the Noble House of Longbottom would respectfully beg a boon of you.”
This stopped the Boy-Who-Lived, as well as the other two of the Trio, dead in their tracks. Hermione looked like a fish out of water, and Ron looked like someone hit him on the back of the head with a board. Harry stared straight ahead with an expression similar to Hermione’s as all concentration was lost. Not surprisingly Ron was the first to recover from the shock of Neville’s formality, and deftly plucked the piece of parchment that Harry was holding out of his hands. “Go on mate. He’s being formal for a reason, and you’d do better finding out what he wants.” Neville had to find Harry’s expression rather comical as he turned around to look at him, but Neville did not break his erect posture or serious manner. To do otherwise would be a severe insult, something Gran would make sure he never lived down. Ron pushed Harry toward Neville, who turned on his heels and walked to the far side of the room.
After the first few steps he could hear footsteps behind him, as well as Hermione asking Ron what that was about. Ron told her he’d explain it to them later, but right now they had to worry about clearing the room. This suited Neville just fine, because it allowed him to focus on what he wanted from Harry. As they reached the corner of the room he pulled his wand and tried a couple of Silencio’s before turning toward Harry. Harry’s expression had changed from gobsmacked to calculating in the time they had walked over here, and grew even more leery with the spells. Finally Neville turned toward to face Harry as he summoned up every last ounce of courage he had. “I apologize for being so formal, but I have a big favor to ask of you, one I would not feel right asking any other way than as one Heir to another.”
Harry blinked for a moment in confusion, then asked, “Okay, but what is this Most Ancient and Noble stuff, Neville? I don’t know anything about the Potters being a house like that. I’ve only ever heard one house referred to like that, and that was not a family I’d like to emulate.” He looked disgusted at the last comment, making Neville wonder what family he was talking about.
Neville shrugged it off though and smiled at his friend. “I don’t know what family that is, Harry, but the Potters had earned the title of “Most Ancient and Noble” a long time ago, and they were always a good Light family.” With this he started thinking and finally said, albeit slightly more timidly than before, “Harry, I had asked you over her because I want to learn from you.” Harry was shocked, but didn’t say a word so as to allow Neville to continue. “Harry, you may not have noticed, but I’m not the most self-confident person in the world. Thing is, I’ve watched you for years now, and while there are things your rather self-conscious about, overall when the chips come down you exude confidence like you were some military leader. I . . . I want to learn that confidence from you. I think it would go a long way to help me in my Magic, and also in other matters. I was going to offer you anything you want in return, including a familial debt, but I think I can do one better. If you agree to help me, I’ll help you with the traditions of the Pureblood Houses and what I know of the Potter house. What do you say?”
Harry started to blush slightly halfway through this and looked down at his feet. When Neville finally stopped, he simply said, “I don’t know that I could teach you all that much in that area Neville . . .”
Neville shook his head and brought his hand up to Harry’s shoulder in a rather friendly way before replying, “I know you want to be “Just Harry,” but I don’t think that’s going to be possible for you. Not for the reason you think,” he said the last part hurriedly to avoid Harry’s temper, “But because even when this whole upcoming war is over, you’ll still have an estate and a House to run. Even without your unwanted fame, that would put you in the spotlight, Harry. But . . . maybe I can show you a way to meet all of that so that you can be yourself? After all, you will be the Head of House Potter. YOU set the tone for the house, no one else. I can teach you the traditions so you can do what you want, and you can help me improve my confidence.”
Harry Potter was apparently conflicted, and ran his hand through his hair before looking up at Neville again and saying, “Nev, you’ll be a target. You know that right? You’re associating yourself with me, and trouble seems to find me with alarming regularity. You sure you want to do this?”
Neville was pretty much at ease at this point, as Harry hadn’t dismissed the idea out of hand. So it was with a little confidence that he answered, “Yes. I really don’t want to go into why, but I’m already a target. I’ll stand by you Harry, if you’ll have me.”
The conversation was brought to an end by waving down their attention. After the spells were dropped Neville learned it was his turn, and Harry told him he’d think about it. Over the holidays his parents were divulged to the Trio, and they didn’t try to coddle him or blame him. Harry agreed to help him soon after the Holidays, which soon turned beneficial to both of them.
“Sit down, Master Longbottom,” Augusta Longbottom said both stiffly and formally. Neville had a decision to make, and for once decided to base it upon his Gran’s actions. When it was evident she was not going to sit, he stood straighter and shook his head. The Regent was not too happy with this response, and mistook it for childishness. “Mister Longbottom, I told you to sit down. This defiance of me will not help you further, and I thought I taught you better than this.”
The words would have been stingingly sharp had Neville not been prepared for this. Standing up even straighter, he looked Augusta in the eye and said, “Madame Longbottom, I would prefer this discussion be handled with a bit of decorum. I know why you wish to speak to me, and I also know you likely do not have all the facts of the matter. I would request, before any lectures take place, that we sit down and I tell you what happened. Then, if you think I have done anything that disgraces House Longbottom, I will be willing to take whatever punishment you wish to bestow. But as Heir to House Longbottom I was operating both under obligation to a Most Ancient and Noble House, and as a friend to someone who really needed my help. It was with those two undeniable obligations, as Heir, that I had done what I did.”
For a moment or two it looked like his Gran was either going to explode or slump into a chair from shock. Never had Neville talked to his Grandmother like this, and never had he looked so confident. It didn’t matter that Neville’s stomach was flip-flopping inside. He knew he had to keep the outward confidence up. And he knew he was right. Like Harry said, confidence came from knowing you are right and sticking to your guns. As long as you do not blind yourself, being right will give you the strength you need to handle any number of tense situations.
Finally it appeared as the shock won, and Augusta managed to lower herself into a chair, followed closely by Neville. Both sat straight and proper. Augusta broke the silence first with a nod. “Okay, Master Longbottom, let me hear from you what had happened.”
With this statement, Neville launched into the long story of what happened during the school year, the build-up to all of it, and finally to the DOM experience itself. He carefully watched his grandmother’s expressions during this, though except for a couple of places he found it rather hard to avoid slipping in either concern or pride. Finally he wound down and looked directly into the older woman’s eyes, also something he’d never done before. “Gran, I owed Harry for what he has done and taught me over the year. I learned more in that time with the DA than I had learnt in all four years previous combined. That alone would be enough for me to risk my life to help him. I also have noticed he has the weight of the world on his shoulders, and a madman that seems to really want to kill him. For honor’s sake, I could do nothing else. I’d like to think my parents would be proud of me.”
He had her right up until that last point, though the rebuke was comparatively mild. “Why would you care what they might think, you made it clear you are ashamed of them over the Christmas Holidays.”
Hearing this, Neville stood up and did something else he had never done before, he rebuked his grandmother. Standing straight, he replied, “No, I do not feel ashamed of my parents. You never asked why no-one knows about them, at least from me. The reason is not shame as you think, but more because I do not wish the others to pity me. I don’t want that to be an excuse as to why some things are the way they are. I do not want them to think that I would even /consider/ using that as excuse. I won’t break under the weight of what they think, nor will I let my parents insanity get me down. I don’t talk about it because it is none of their business, and is not germaine to how good or poorly I do at anything.”
It became apparent after a few minutes of shock that Augusta believed him, for a slight smile grew upon her face. “Sit down Neville,” she said softly. “I apologize for my jumping to conclusions on this matter. Of course your parents would be proud of you. Especially with that last argument. Mister Potter appears to have been really good for you.” Calling upon a house elf, she asked for some tea and biscuits for both of them. She appeared to relax more, which set Neville at ease. “So what did these “confidence lessons” entail?” she asked.
That question was never to be answered however, for right at that moment the family house elf returned. “Mistress, there is a person at the door, demanding to speak with you about an important matter. Toby is uncertain about his visitor, for Toby cannot see her face. She is wearing a badge though. It is reading Phoebe, and that is the only name she is giving.” At this announcement August Longbottom pulls her wand and looks to Neville. “Stay here, Master Longbottom. If a fight breaks out, floo to your uncle Algernon’s house.”
“But Gran . . . “
“No,” the older woman snaps as she heads to the door, “You do not have a wand, Neville. If necessary, go to Algernon’s and call for help from there. We will have to go get you a wand of your own from Mr. Ollivander soon enough.”
It was a long ten minutes wait, but it appeared that he didn’t need to evacuate. At one point during that tem minutes he almost did floo off as the discussion near the entrance of the Manor became heated, but it quieted down rather quickly. Shortly thereafter his grandmother entered again, followed by someone in grey robes. The person’s face was concealed, and Neville noted the badge Toby mentioned. He became bewildered, wondering what was going on when the cloaked person came right up to Neville, who started to stand.
“Neville Longbottom, Heir to the Noble House of Longbottom?” the stranger asked in a voice that sounded both familiar and unfamiliar at the same time.
“I am Phoebe, and I represent the Department of Mysteries. In regards to the incident in our department a couple of weeks ago, we are requesting that all six children come in to be debriefed. Although I realize the lateness of this, I must insist you come now. There is a problem arising from your visit to our department that requires your urgent attention. You are not in trouble, but your presence is needed. Will you come?”
Neville looked at his grandmother as if asking an opinion, to which she nodded that he should go. Neville wasn’t convinced though, and asked, “Why so urgent, after two weeks? Why now?”
Phoebe’s head moved a little, as if she was raising up to look him in the eyes. “Because the situation that precipitates this summons has just now happened. It involves one Mr. Harry James Potter. To be succinct, Mister Longbottom, he needs you. Please, get your trunk and follow me.”
Neville didn’t particularly need to hear anymore, and wasn’t about to waste time asking why he needed his trunk. “Must be those muggles,” he spat, shaking his head. “I’ve got to go Gran. I’ll be back when I can.” As the last words were spoken he called Toby and asked for his trunk. Once it was brought, Phoebe shrank it and handed it to Neville to put away. Together they walked out the door, only barely hearing Augusta’s wish that he be careful.
Ottery St. Catchpole, Devon
Luna had never seen her father like this before. He looked like a cross between a cornered crumple-horned snorkack and a riled bush-dwelling snoot. She knew he was going to be upset, and she ever saw that she’d be in for it when she got home when she made the choice to go to the DOM with Harry. But she really didn’t have much of a choice, even if she would have chosen anything else other than going. Harry had quickly become her world this year. For the first time she felt she had friends. For the first time she felt like she belonged. For the first time, she felt she had a refuge from the Ravenclaws, and she would do anything she could to keep that. But as much as she felt the others were friends, she felt something different for two of them, one was easy, and one was difficult.
Harry was the easy one to figure out. She felt the connection between them the first time he placed his hand upon her shoulder, and she knew he did too. In fact, he jumped back when he touched her, as if shocked. But Luna instantly felt a second connection, and needed more time to figure it out. So she blamed it on nargles, then smiled that dreamy smile she used most often. He looked confused for a moment, and she wondered if he’d buy it. But in the end he did, and she was able to go back to practicing. She felt for sure he would’ve known what that spark was, after all it was fairly well known in the wizarding world what the signs for bonds. And though soul bonds were fairly rare, wizarding children were told practically birth what the signs were.
And that is where Luna had made her mistake, as she discovered latter. What was well known in the wizarding world as children’s stories and lessons were not known at all to Harry. In that way, he might as well been a muggle-born. Once she realized that, she started to try to figure out how to tell him. It would not be easy, especially after he went after Cho Chang. Cho never liked Luna, this is something Luna knew. Luna for the most part ignored her, save she thought the older teenager was partly responsible for her stuff being stolen each year. And if he went with her, then it would be . . . bad. But then he left her to go see Hermione, and Cho was now out of the picture.
Of course, this led to another problem, one she didn’t recognize until that interview of Harry’s with Rita Skeeter: Hermione. At that interview she accidentally brushed up against the fuzzy-haired witch’s arm as she reached for a drink, and she felt that jolt again. That one was easier to pass off, since Harry was at a rather intense part of his story, thus the excuse of nerves. And again, the other person bought it. Only this time Luna knew she wouldn’t know what it was, for Hermione was a muggle-born witch. But that began a long, in depth struggle for her. She never considered herself to be attracted toward women. Not that she had anything against lesbians or bisexuals. But the signs were unmistakable. She watched them both closely, trying to figure out how to make this work. For they were both from the Muggle world, and in some ways they were worse there with attitudes when it came to same sex and sharing than the wizarding world was. That was not even counting the fact she knew neither one of them were into much, at least in that way.
So the plan had come down to two things: Watch and Protect. She would watch them, not from afar but closely, and try to find some way to make them all happy. At the same time she let her protective side grow, and woe betide anyone trying to hurt either one of them. So when Harry was almost out of his mind over Stubby Boardman, there was never any doubts. She would go. If he left her behind, she’d follow. Being a Seer had its plus sides, and this one meant she could not lose him over some silly invisibility cloak. Okay, a not-so-silly invisibility cloak. She would prove she could and would stand by both of them, no matter what.
Although she acquitted herself well, she still considered that trip a failure for two reasons. First, Harry’s godfather was dead. She could see the downward spiral he was taking after he came back, and had sincerely hoped that he would be able to pull out of it. But she had this gnawing pit in the middle of her stomach that something was horrendously wrong. So she had been on edge for a while. But what happened to Hermione made it worse. Hermione almost died. HER Hermione almost died. That she didn’t was a miracle, one that she thanked Merlin and Morgana for. But this also meant Luna failed. She was on her last nerve right now as a result, and she knew her daddy would soon be jumping down on it, and her.
True to her sight, that’s what happened alright. “Luna,” Xenophilius said in a part choked and part stern matter. “Come into the living room, we need to talk.” Luna sighed and followed along reluctantly. And sure enough, when she sat down her father started with, “I’d like to know just WHAT YOU WERE THINKING?!” This strangled outburst gave way to several minutes of lecture alternating between pleading, yelling, and guilt. Luna was beginning to feel more and more anxious as the minutes passed by, as she felt something squeezing her heart. Finally Xenophilius looked at her and said, “And what I don’t get most is why, when I have done my level best to keep you out of this war and safe, you would risk people fully knowing about you for some boy.”
At the word boy the bottom dropped out of her world. She began to shake as she saw not the future, but the present. But it was not here she was seeing, but several miles to the south where Harry lived. And she knew his life was in danger, and that he was dying. She felt her heart slow, and saw her father finally look at her. She watched as he went from raging to worried in a blink of an eye, and then watched as he started rushing to her in slow motion. Wave upon wave of pain, fear, and hopelessness washed over her, leaving her feel cold. She was frantic to get to him, no matter what, but she was too far away. Just then, everything stopped, and she heard Fate inside her head. Unbeknownst to her, her mouth opened as she recited the words she was hearing:
The last true protector of Fate’s Child shall fall in the ides of the sixth month. And the beacon shall dim, casting the Child of Fate into darkness. The Children of Time will brave that darkness and send Fate’s Chosen forth to free them. And together they shall face the Darkness, for only they can bring light to a dying world. The last true protector . . .
As the world resumed something resembling normalcy she realized she was looking up into the eyes of her father, who seemed to have heard just one thing too much. He was silent though, which she was thankful for since it gave her a chance to answer him. “Daddy, I’m sorry. But Harry and I, as well as one other, are linked by Fate. And he’s being pointed by fate to destroy Riddle. I can’t leave them alone. Not to do this. Yes, it will mean that Riddle may discover me a Seer close to Harry, but I’ll have to take that chance. As it is...” At this another wave of cold, numbing darkness flowed through her, making her world once again slow to a crawl. But this time there was a faint hope as she spewed yet another prophecy. This one she could not remember though, and as she came out of it she heard a knock on the front door. Her father obviously used this time to try to focus his senses as he walked to the door and opened it. There, standing on the other side of the door were a pair of Unspeakables, cloaks and all.
Luna found it interesting that she could see under their hoods, but her father could not. After a brief discussion they were let in, and the female of the two walked up to her and hugged her. This floored the others in the room, at least enough to get Luna to smile when she saw her face. ‘Oh this is too good,’ she thought to herself. As she separated from the Unspeakable she smiles a small, knowing smile and asked deliberately, “What do I call you?”
The male of the two stepped forward and nodded. “I am Sun Tsu and this is Selene. You are Luna Lovegood and this is your father Xenophilius Lovegood.” Nodding to his partner, he let her continue.
“Something has come up within the past hour that requires the attention of the Ministry Six, as you six are being called,” she says carefully. “It has to do with your excursion into the Department of Mysteries. Unfortunately, you may be required to be gone for a couple of weeks,” Turning to look at Xenophilius, she continued in a soft but re-assuring voice, “I promise you she will be well looked after, and she will be away from this war for a while. She will be as safe as we can make her.”
Xenophilius looked very torn, something Luna could read easily on her face. But she knew that he trusted her, and trusted her judgement in the end. Indeed, before these two came in, it was looking like he finally accepted what had happened. So instantly making the decision that felt like she could get to Harry the quickest, she turned and started for the foyer. “Daddy, I don’t think this is something we can ignore. I’m sorry, but I need to go.” She could tell her father was about to object, so she changed directions and went over to kiss him on the cheek. “I’ll be careful, but I have to go.” With this she gave him a hug and started to head out to her trunk. “See you in a couple of weeks Daddy!” The two unspeakables and Luna headed out of the door, and as soon as they were past the House Wards, they apparated away.
Outskirts of London
Hermione Granger took a deep breath and let it out slowly as she closed the door to her room. Her parents were happy to see her when she got into the station, but she was unprepared for the vehemence of their arguments when they got home. Apparently the Headmaster had written them, telling them /everything/ that happened. This had spawned a brief but fierce debate as to why Hermione hadn’t told them about Voldemort or any of the other less-than-pleasant facts about the Wizarding World. It had finally ended not that long ago with an ultimatum:
Hermione was about to pull her hair out in exasperation after hearing her father demand she stop seeing Harry. The fact both of them were looking at her expecting her agreement to this was in a way very aggravating to her. So she stood up tall and looked her father in the eyes as he gave the response that she privately knew he did not want. “Father, I love you and I will always be your daughter, but you cannot tell me who I can and cannot be friends with when you are over half the country away from me.” Taking another deep breath and letting it out slowly, she looked at them for a moment. “Harry Potter is very important to me. More than you know. He does not go looking for trouble, instead it seems to find him with a startling regularity, even when he tries to avoid it. Yes, he’s a primary target for this terrorist, but what you need to understand is that I’m /safer/ with hm than without. Because with him at least I have someone who will not only watch my back, but will go to hell and back to rescue me. Without him, I’m a muggle-born and target for every death eater out there. More so since they know who I am already. I can’t run, they’d just find me. So I refuse to run. I will fight for my right to live, and your rights to live. I’m sorry if this does not meet with what you want.”
She looked between both her mother and father for some time, waiting for a response. She could tell she didn’t quite get through to them by the hard glare from her father. Finally he spoke, low and angry, “Hermione, do not pretend for one moment you know what it is like to fight for your rights. You have never been in the military, I have. I also happen to know that most wizards don’t know the “muggle” world at all, and thus would be easy to spot. We are going into hiding, whether you like it or not. I would rather have your cooperation than not, but whether or not you come with us is not an option. Maybe you’re right about Mister Potter. But if you are, then he’ll win this war. At that time we’ll consider letting you go back. In the meantime, I want you to go to your room and think hard about what you will or will not do.”
Hermione closed her eyes for a moment to hold back the tears, then shook her head. “Dad, in September I turn 17, which is the age of adulthood in the wizarding world. I beg you to reconsider this . . .” Something in her mind screamed at her to stop, so she took that.
“Reconsider this?” her father asked dangerously.
“I don’t know yet,” she said with a sigh. “I’m going to my room to think about things, and what’s happening. I’m sorry I disappointed you.” With this she ran up to her room, not turning around when she heard the calls for her to come back.
She was shaken out of her revere by the distinctive pops of apparition in the back yard. Drawing her wand, she looked outside and blinked for a moment. Two people in grey robes, and one student. ‘Luna Lovegood? What is she doing here, and who are they?’ She started to make her way to the door when she heard her father stepping out the back. She couldn’t make out exactly what was being said, but he didn’t sound happy. So she sped up, hoping to avoid an incident.
As she hit the bottom of the steps she saw a flash of red light in the dining area. This caused her to slow down and start to walk toward the kitchen as stealthily as she could, hoping to catch someone off-guard. Glancing around the corner she saw her mother sitting in a chair wrapped in ropes and her father unconscious on the floor. She moved a little more to see what she could glance and almost ran into Luna. This startled the bushy-haired witch enough to make her jump back and level her wand at her. “Stand and identify.”
Luna for the most part seemed uncaring that there was a wand pointed directly at her face. Instead she smiled and said, “Hermione, it’s so good to see you up and about. It’s me, Luna.” The blond girl seemed very happy, and not quite as out of it as usual.
This of course caused Hermione to suspect her more, so she asked, “What unusual event happened in the Three Broomsticks and what did you later attribute it to?”
Luna’s smile took on a dreamy quality at that memory as she looked very happy. “I brushed against your arm with my hand, and we both got shocked. It startled us. Later we attributed it to the tense atmosphere surrounding Harry’s story and us being too into it.”
Hermione blinked and lowered her wand at the positive identification, then nodded. “Who are they, Luna? And what are we doing here?” For some reason she could not explain she felt happy that Luna was here, even though she barely knew her. Chocking it up to the stress of the moment she looked at Luna waiting for an answer.
“We’re here to rescue you silly,” Luna replied, her glassy eyes looking up directly into hers. “Unless you want to leave everyone behind that is.” She blushed slightly at this and continued, “Besides, Harry needs u . . . you. These people are from the Department of Mysteries and are willing to take us to him.”
It was as if a switch went off in her head, running upstairs she grabbed her trunk and gave her cat a hug. “I can’t take you with me, but watch over mom and dad, okay?” Somehow she knew that where she was going no animals could go, not even half-breed kneazles. Luna was right behind her and grabbed the other end of her trunk. “They’ll lighten this and shrink it downstairs, right?” Luna nodded at this and together they took her trunk back downstairs.
In the meantime both of her parents were Enervated and tied to their chairs. The Unspeakables were not talking to her parents, but waiting for them. As the girls made it into the kitchen Luna spoke up first. “I already told her what’s going on, so you can save the explanations for later,” she sighed, setting the trunk down when Hermione did. “Hermione, can I talk to your parents for a moment? They’ll help you with the trunk.” When Hermione nodded at her she smiled warmly at her before turning to Hermione’s parents. “Hermione loves you very much. She shows it every day at Hogwarts by the way she talks about you. I would like to think you’ve been a very good set of role models for your daughter. The problem here is that she loves Harry and won’t leave him. I know that you are concerned, and have every right to be. But please, trust in your daughter.”
Hermione caught the last part of that and walked up behind Luna. For some reason she couldn’t even explain she put her hands on the younger girl’s shoulders and smiled sadly at her parents. “Mom, Dad, you taught me to follow my convictions. I can’t leave the world to suffer when I can do something about it. I love you both, and hope you’ll forgive me.” With this she turned back toward the grey cloaked figures and nodded to them, motioning them to lead away. Just as the four apparated away the bindings came off of the Grangers, leaving them home alone.
Mis-use of Muggle Artifacts Office
Ministry of Magic
Arthur Weasley was both very concerned at the same time very proud. His youngest two children had stood up to a dozen death eaters, and with four others managed to fight them to a standstill. It took a while for him to finally understand what they were doing there, but in the end could not fault them for trying to save Sirius’s life. At the same time, he could have wished they would have found some other way to do it, even if it was to leave the school and contact him at home. But he was also a realist. Harry would have brooked no further delays, and there was no chance that they’d have listened to them without some decent amount of time having passed. Knowing Harry like he did, and if he was truthful to himself, it was probably the best they could do at the time. He only wished someone could tell Harry that.
Against his better judgement he left Molly with the kids after the train arrived, claiming he had to finish some things here. He knew Ron and Ginny would probably be subjected to an in-person Molly Howler when they got home, but he still was not certain that the time had come to get Molly to let them go. He sighed, signing the last of the paperwork on his desk before pulling out a box from a secret compartment he kept in there. Slowly he traced the Arms on the box, wondering if the time had come for him to divulge what he knew. Once he did, it would likely change the dynamic of his family forever. Or at the very least it would change the way his family acted with others. Not for the first time he wondered about his all-but-officially adopted son and his might-as-well-be daughter. Could they take this news? How would they react to his youngest two?
He had thought to have this talk a year earlier, but he took the same route Dumbledore did. He wanted his children to have a childhood. But lately he had been seeing the cost of that decision, both in the broken heart of Harry and the life of Sirius. He remembered the words of his father years ago, “Secrecy is a double-edged sword. It both saves and destroys lives. Use it sparingly, but use it well. And if you would walk in the Light, never wait to long to tell the truth.” He remembered those words, but unfortunately he failed to apply them. He forgot that his family was supposed to be independent thinkers, giving loyalty only so long as it is earned. He hadn’t caught the signs until recently that Dumbledore was losing his worthiness to be followed. He didn’t listen to his own sons about Harry, he never questioned why Ginny didn’t need help after her first year, and he never questioned the now infamous occlumency lessons with Severus Snape. Even he could see that it would have been worse than useless for Harry to learn that art from the potions professor. He wondered, if not for the first time, if they were serving the right people. But who to hang their hat with? Harry, though it even irked Arthur to say this, was simply too young.
He was pulled out of his thoughts by a knock on the door. “One moment,” he called as he set the box on the floor and closed the secret compartment. “Okay.” With this the door opened to reveal about the last visitor, short of Harry, that he’d expect here. Nodding once at the unspeakable in his doorway, he motioned for the person to come in. He watched the person carefully as he closed the door behind him and almost glided to his desk.
“Arthur Weasley, I am Liber. I wish to speak to you of an urgent matter,” said the Unspeakable. Yes, he was male by the tone of voice, but like most other Unspeakables, you really couldn’t tell who he was underneath the hood.
Motioning to the chair in front of his desk, Arthur smiled and walked around the desk. “What can I do for you?” He felt as if he was being closely scrutinized before he got a response.
“Mr. Weasley, I come to you today with a matter of great import. Today there was a prophecy made about your youngest son and your daughter. This one, due to its nature, must be acted upon soon. I do not wish to alarm you sir, but this could effect the war against Voldemort.” The man did not move or fidget, which impressed Arthur. He was about to object when the Unspeakable continued. “This is considered a high priority, but secret job. They will be kept as safe as we can keep them, and they will be away from the main portions of this war for the time they’re doing what needs to be done.”
Arthur thought about this for a moment, then looked down at the box on the floor. ‘Time to let them go,’ he thought to himself. “Liber, let me ask you this: Will they be doing something to counter He-Who Must-Not-Be-Named? Will they be making a contribution to this war, despite their safety?”
Liber looked at the man opposite from him for a few long moments, then gave a small chuckle. “Yes Mr. Weasley. And I guarantee when they’re done that they will be ready to give an even larger contribution to the War. What they’re going to be doing will be helping Harry Potter in his efforts against Tom Riddle. That’s all I can tell you.”
Nodding once, Arthur leaned back in the chair and looked at the man in front of him. “Okay, I give permission. They’re at my house right now. Shall we?”
“Sure Mister Weasley, though my boss and a couple of others will meet us there. Your wife’s temper is legendary.”
With this Arthur laughed, stood up and picked up a box. “If your boss is there, I may ask him to witness something for me.”
Ottery St. Catchpole
Ron and Ginny both knew as they boarded the Knight Bus that their mother was going to go ballistic when they got home. Ron actually spent some time sitting down and preparing for it. Something his best friends and family would have never thought he would do. But this year saw a growth in the gangly red-head, especially with the after-math from the Department of Mysteries. That brain thing had put a few things in perspective for him, not only causing him to reflect over the first few years of Hogwarts, but also causing him to look at his motives for his most recent decisions. The one conclusion he came to more than any other is that he had been going through the motions of being a friend, without actually being one.
For one thing, he’d been horribly jealous over things that no-one had any control over, but he never stood up and tried to do what it took to get the things he wanted. The twins were quickly building wealth, for example. He’d be envious of them, but never wanted to put the effort forth that they most obviously had. Yeah, they got their start-up money from Harry, but if you looked at it this was merely a replacement for what they lost. And in truth Harry was more an investor, the twins would be giving him a portion of their business. Lately he’d been considering that being jealous of this was not worth it, especially considering that he hadn’t put the effort forth they obviously had.
This of course led to him not being as good of a friend as he could have been, especially to Hermione and Harry. He had thought that he fancied Hermione for a long while, but upon reflecting upon that he wasn’t so sure. He wasn’t quite ready to give up on that, but now even he could realize that their constant arguing could not be good. This held especially true as he remember the times he saw Hermione in tears. He had promised himself to start thinking before opening his mouth. That at least would cut down on the arguments. The other side of his friendship problems was Harry. With Harry it was more a matter of lumping him in with his brothers. Ron realized that Harry was more accomplished than he was, or in some ways he could ever be. But Ron could not give up his friendship with Harry, for he genuinely liked his friend. He didn’t know what he was going to do yet, other than be there as a true friend rather than someone who went along because there was nothing else to do.
But these reflections were not preparing him for the living howler that he knew was coming. He knew he’d have to stand up to his mother. Sparing a glance to the side he managed to catch his sister’s eyes. For a few minutes they looked at each-other, then she nodded once. They both knew the score, knew what was going on. They knew the hell they were about to enter. Silently they agreed that in what was coming Ron would have to take the brunt of things first with Gin backing him up when she could. Just then the bus stopped, and Molly started to haul the family off of the bus.
As they walked into the front door of the Burrow Ron knew that this was not to be an ordinary lecture. For one thing, Bill and Charlie were both there waiting for the group to get home. The twins weren’t, but everyone knew they were just a floo call away. Taking a deep breath he sat his trunk down next tot he stairs just as he heard his mum order him to. Silently they walked into the livingroom where the rest of the available family joined them. Knowing full well what was coming, he decided to say one thing before his mother began her rant. “Mum, I know what you’re wanting to talk about. I would like to say one thing, to make it perfectly clear. I have been reviewing what happened this year in my mind rather closely, and if I had to do it all over again, I wouldn’t change a thing. Harry needed us. He couldn’t find anyone to tell him that the vision he saw was false, nor did we have time to alert too many people, especially with Umbridge having caught us while we were trying to verify it. Harry is my best friend, and I won’t let him down again.”
Molly Weasley spun to look at Ron as he spoke, a frown appearing on her face. Nodding once she turned toward Ginny. “Do you have anything to add young lady?”
Ginny took a deep breath then stood tall to face her mother. “Mum, I know you think we’re too young, but the fact is that I lost my childhood in my first year. I’ve already had to deal with some of the worst that you can deal with in this war. I was in V . . . Vo . . . Voldemort’s mind.” She smiled slightly as everyone but Ron jumped at the name. “I also got away from him. I’m already a target, and refuse to spend my life hiding from him. I . . . care for Harry a lot. But the fact remains I have just as much a stake in this as he does. I will stand beside him, no matter what. You can’t keep me from a fight I’ve been a part of since I first went to Hogwarts.”
From the expressions of everyone in the room, save his mother, the tactics they were using floored them. He could tell Bill never thought of things quite like this before, and Charlie’s eyes were wet as he looked at his little sister as if seeing her for the first time. But his mum was different, her frown threatened to reach the point of a scowl as she looked between them. “RONALD BILIUS WEASLEY, GINEVRA MOLLY WEASLEY, DON’T YOU USE THAT TONE OF VOICE WITH ME.” Taking a deep breath she started to continue, “I’m sorry that you feel you have to be in this war, but the fact that He-Who-Must-Not be named is after you does not mean that you have to fight him. In fact, you should be trying to get away from him instead. Save your lives, for no one will thank you for being reckless and getting yourselves killed. What were you thinking?”
Ron scowled at his mother’s words and shook his head. “That if I were going to lose all my family like Harry has, at least I would have tried to save them first. I am a Weasley, and I will not sacrifice my family to live. Don’t ask me to do that mum. Just don’t.” Ginny agreed, adding a few words about she wasn’t being reckless, but that they were not going to back down and hide while others died around them.
This sparked an argument between the two youngest Weasleys and their mother that raged on for the better part of an hour. It would have continued for longer save for sound of the front door opening. Surprised, she jumped and stopped her rant to look toward the front of the house in time to see Arthur step out. “Finally, someone who can talk sense into these two stubborn children,” Molly breathed before taking a breath to inform her husband of what was going on. The older Weasley’s in the house were not-so-privately siding with their siblings at this point, and looked rather indignant at Molly’s last words. But before they could say anything Arthur held his hand up to stop Molly from talking.
Silently he stepped aside to admit four people in grey robes, with their faces obscured. Once everyone was inside Arthur started introductions, “These are people that were never here, they don’t exist. This is Liber, Raptor, and Athena. The gentleman next to me is Charlemagne. They are here for Ron and Ginny. But before they start conducting their business, Charlemagne has agreed to witness something for me. Ronald, please come forward.”
Ron had not known what to make from any of this, and quite frankly he was shocked. So shocked in fact he didn’t recognize his father beckoning him to come forward until Ginny elbowed him in the ribs. Wincing a bit, he stood up and walked to his father, only sparing a glance at the robed man next to him. When Ron was just a step or two from his father he stopped, waiting for whatever was coming.
“Ronald Bilius Weasley, As head of the Ennobled House of Weasley, I hereby give you the keys to your inheritance. What was kept in secret will soon come to light, and the mantle of the youngest sons now passes on to you. So mote it be.”
“So mote it be,” the man standing next to Arthur as the Senior Weasley tapped the box he had handed his son with his wand. Instantly a glow surrounded Ron and the box, causing Ron to feel something settle he had thought was missing from his life. He could only stand there shocked and whisper the appropriate response as it settled.
But Arthur was not done yet. He turned toward his youngest child and smiled.”The Ennobled House of Weasley has a prophecy of its own. This is one I will explain to the rest of the family as well as Ron’s Inheritance. In the meantime the prophecy foretold of a time when the mantle of the youngest sons would be passed to a sixth son with a seventh sibling, the only daughter. Together brother and daughter would take up the fight against the Darkness alongside Gryffindor’s son, and they would bring honor back to a family that had long since lost it.” To say Ginny was shocked would have been an understatement, but their father’s next words would shock them both even more. “These people are here for both of you. Ron, Ginny, go with them now. Go and do what you must. Harry needs you both, and you must face your destiny. Don’t worry about us, we will be here when you return.” One of the cloaked figures smiled, though very few could actually tell she was, but her nod of agreement could not missed.
“ARTHUR WEASLEY, WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’RE DOING? THEY’RE MUCH TOO YOUNG AND . . .” She got no further than that before Arthur put his hand over his wife’s mouth. Ron could not believe his eyes, and would have stayed for more save the cloaked people started to usher them and their trunks out. The last thing Ron heard as he walked out was his dad telling his mum that it was time to let go. Ron wasn’t sure what was going on, but he felt that whatever was happening was about to change all of their lives forever. He only hoped the changes were for the best.