Harry Potter and the Return to Hogwarts

August 15th, 2007, 5:22 pm
Editor's Note: This story is completed, and there are a few typos and inconsistencies. It would take forever to go through all the chapters to find them, and even if I corrected some of the mistakes, it could ruin the flow of the story. Many of those mistakes have already been told to me. I am just letting you know this now. Enjoy the story!

Summary: Post-Deathly Hallows, Pre-Epilogue fan-fiction. Harry, Ron and Hermione return to Hogwarts, which is slowly being reconstructed after the Battle at Hogwarts. This story will take you through the relationships of Harry and Ginny, and Ron and Hermione. Also, many of the surviving Death Eaters are still free. Will they get revenge for the death of Lord Voldemort? Witness love, drama and suspense in this fan-fiction. Point-of-views will switch between Harry, Ron, Hermione and Ginny through-out the story. Ships: Harry/Ginny, Ron/Hermione, and maybe others. WARNING: DH SPOILERS!!

Chapter 1

"Harry, wake up," a female voice said.

Harry groaned and turned over on the four-poster bed in his dormitory. He pulled the covers up.

"Very funny, Harry," the voice said, "Please wake up."

Harry turned back over and opened his eyes. Without his glasses, everything was a blur. Someone with red hair was standing next to his bed.

"Five more minutes, Ron," Harry said.

"You don’t even know your girlfriend’s voice!" Ginny said, slapping Harry in the stomach, "Get up or I will go tell Ron you think he has a girl’s voice!"

"I do not think that!" Harry said, reaching lazily for his glasses, "Why did you have to go and hit me. Where are my bloody glasses?"

"Right here, you bloody git," Ginny said.

Harry felt his glasses go into his hand. He sloppily put them on and sat up.

"Where is Ron anyway?" he asked, looking over at the empty four-poster bed across from him, which was Ron’s.

"Probably in the Great Hall with Hermione and my family," Ginny said, "You know the professors and everyone are already doing plans for a funeral? Apparently it will be a large funeral. Right out in the grounds. That is going to take up all the grounds, I expect. With how many people that –"

Ginny couldn’t finish her sentence. Harry knew she was thinking about Fred. The last time Harry had seen Fred’s body, it was in the Great Hall beside the other forty or so wizards and witches who had died during the Battle at Hogwarts. It pained Harry to even think about it, and he didn’t want to talk about it at the present time. He decided to quickly change the subject.

"How did you get up here anyway?" he asked Ginny.

"Used the stairs, of course," Ginny said, rolling her eyes, "Just because boys can’t go into the girls’ dormitory, doesn’t mean we can’t go into yours."

"I never saw the point of that," Harry said, "You can’t tell me girls are more trustworthy than boys."

"Oh and why not?" Ginny asked.

"You came up here without permission," Harry said.

"I wanted to wake you up!" Ginny said, "Otherwise you would have slept in all day."

"I doubt that is the only reason you came up here," Harry said, "You know as well as I do that we haven’t had a decent conversation since the day of Bill and Fleur’s wedding."

Ginny sighed and sat down on Ron’s bed.

"All right, all right," she said, "I did want to come up here for other reasons. I worried about you. Do you know that, Harry?"

"Of course I know that, Ginny," Harry said, "I worried about you too."

"I came up here to see whether or not you were still here," Ginny said.

"Why wouldn’t I be here?" Harry said, "I have been asleep since late last night."

"I have just had a lot on my mind," Ginny said, "Everyone thought you were dead, Harry. I didn’t believe a word of it. I had faith. And then I saw you in the Room of Requirement, and I was relieved. But then there was the moment that you were being carried into the castle by Hagrid."

Harry sighed. He knew what she was going to say.

"I thought you were dead, Harry," Ginny said.

"I know," Harry said, "I was trying to fool Voldemort. He thought he killed me. Draco’s mother, in the forest, she told Voldemort I was dead. I couldn’t tell Hagrid I was alive. Voldemort made Hagrid carry me up to the castle. I am sorry, but that was the only way I could have survived that."

"I know," Ginny said, "I just don’t know what I would have done if… if –"

Harry stood up and walked over to Ron’s bed. He sat down beside Ginny and put his arm around her. She cried into his shoulder.

"I am alive, Ginny," Harry said, "I am here with you. Nothing is going to change that. I promise. Hey… look at me.”

Ginny looked up at Harry.

”It is okay now,” Harry said.

Ginny gave a tearful smile.

”Thanks for waking me up,” Harry said, “Now, let me get dressed then we can go to the Great Hall.”

Ginny smiled and kissed Harry on the lips. She stood up and left the dormitory. Harry smiled as he watched her leave the room. He couldn’t blame Ginny for what she thought. Ginny had been just as scared for Harry’s life, as much as Harry had been for Ginny’s life. Harry felt like explaining everything about the previous year to Ginny, but he would wait, perhaps, until they were alone at the Burrow.

Harry dressed quickly and walked down to the common room, where Ginny was waiting for him. They left the Gryffindor Common Room. Harry hadn’t noticed the previous night, but the portrait of the Fat Lady had been nearly destroyed. Harry hoped that the Fat Lady had fled before the portrait had been destroyed. This reminded him of his third year when the Fat Lady had fled the portrait when Sirius had threatened her.

”No one knows where the Fat Lady is,” Ginny said, noticing that Harry was looking at the portrait’s remains. “Though I think Nearly-Headless Nick has made it his personal mission to find her.”

”So anyone can get into the Common Room now?” Harry asked.

”Of course not,” Ginny said, “Professor McGonagall put a spell repelling anyone who was not a Gryffindor student. Every professor is doing their part to get this castle back to its original state. Well, they will be. I expect every one of them is down in the Great Hall.”

”Yeah, you told me,” Harry said.

”Yeah… right,” Ginny said.

Harry took her hand and Ginny smiled up at him. They walked toward the Great Hall.

Twenty minutes later, they had arrived in the Great Hall. Three tables were set up for students as well as others who had remained at Hogwarts after the battle. On the left side, the Slytherin table was propped against the side of the hall. The bodies of the witches and wizards who had died were lined up on the floor where the table should have been. Most of them were covered with blankets so they wouldn’t be seen. Some of them were being carried out toward the grounds by professors and other people. Harry looked toward the Professors’ table. Those who weren’t carrying bodies were writing something on parchment.

”Good morning, Potter,” a voice said behind Harry.

Harry turned around. Professor McGonagall was standing there.

”Good morning, Professor,” Harry said.

Professor McGonagall was about to go over to the left side of the hall, but Harry stopped her.

”Professor McGonagall, may I ask you something?” Harry asked.

”Of course, Harry,” McGonagall said.

”I was wondering if you had found Professor Snape’s body yet,” Harry said.

”Snape?” McGonagall asked, “I wasn’t aware that he had died.”

”Voldemort killed him,” Harry said, “I saw it. His body is in the Shrieking Shack.”

Professor McGonagall looked at Harry with shock.

”Professor, did you hear me?” Harry asked.

”I heard you, Potter,” McGonagall said, “Someone will retrieve his body, yes.”

”I was hoping I could assist them,” Harry said.

Professor McGonagall looked amazed. Even Ginny had looked at Harry with amazement.

”Now, why in the world would you want to do that?” Professor McGonagall asked.

”Snape wasn’t as bad as you thought he was,” Harry said.

”Harry, he killed Professor Dumbledore!” Ginny said, “He is the reason George only has one ear! You don’t know what it was like this year here at Hogwarts! One of the reasons I left was because of him!”

”Right before Snape died, he gave me some of his memories,” Harry said, “So I immediately went to the Pensieve to look at them.”

Harry paused. He wasn't sure how much he wanted to reveal of Snape's memories. But he knew he needed enough to prove to Professor McGonagall that they had been wrong about him.

”Yes, he killed Professor Dumbledore,” Harry said, “But it was on Dumbledore’s orders.”

”What are you saying, Potter?” McGonagall asked, “Albus would never have requested it.”

”He did request it, Professor,” Harry said, “Professor Dumbledore was going to die anyway. The curse on his arm was getting worse. Snape tried to slow the process down, but it wasn’t working. Professor Snape had participated in an Unbreakable Vow with Bellatrix Lestrange and Narcissa Malfoy. Draco was supposed to kill Albus, but he couldn’t do it. Albus didn’t want him to do it either. If Draco didn’t do it, Snape had to. If Snape didn’t do it, he would have died. Dumbledore would have died anyway. Professor Snape was always on Dumbledore’s side.”

Professor McGonagall stared at Harry. Harry knew that McGonagall was trying to see if he was telling the truth. After a minute, she smiled.

”Okay, Potter,” McGonagall said, “I believe you.”

At that moment, Hagrid had walked into the Great Hall.

”Hagrid,” McGonagall said, “There is another body to retrieve.”

”Another one?” Hagrid asked, “I thought we found ‘em all. Who is it?”

”Snape,” McGonagall said.

Hagrid’s eyes widened.

”His body is in the Shrieking Shack,” McGonagall said, “Harry will come with you.”

”Why?” Hagrid asked.

”He witnessed Snape being murdered by Voldemort,” McGonagall said.

”We better get goin’ then, Harry,” Hagrid said.

”I will be back, Ginny,” Harry said, “Tell everyone where I am.”

Ginny nodded and walked away toward the middle of the Gryffindor table where Hermione, Ron and the other Weasleys were sitting. Harry followed Hagrid out of the castle and they walked toward the Whomping Willow.

When they arrived, Harry expected the Whomping Willow to attempt to attack them. But it stood still.

”I don’t get it,” Harry said, staring at the tree, “I thought it would attack us. Was it injured in the battle?”

”It won’t attack us,” Hagrid said.

”It won’t?” Harry asked.

”Not if it knows what is good fer it,” Hagrid said, “I have raised that tree. I have watered it and looked after it. Trust me, Harry. It won’t attack me. And it won’t attack you since you are with me.”

”Why didn’t you tell me that?” Harry asked, “Do you know how many times I have been attacked by this tree?”

”I am sorry, Harry,” Hagrid said.

”It isn’t your fault,” Harry said.

”I should ruddy well think not!” Hagrid said, “You shouldn’t go near this thing if ya don’t have to!”

”I don’t think there was one moment in my life where I went near this thing and didn’t have to,” Harry said, “Every time I came over here, it was for a purpose.”

”Well, be careful next time,” Hagrid said, “Now let’s go in before the tree changes its mind.”

”Will it do that?” Harry asked.

”You never know,” Hagrid said, and he walked into the passageway.

Harry followed him in. It took them five minutes to reach the Shack and another five minutes to find the room where Snape’s body was laying on the floor.

”Why did Voldemort kill him?” Hagrid asked.

”Voldemort believed that Snape was the actual owner of the Elder wand,” Harry said.

”What was that?” Hagrid asked.

”One of the Deathly Hallows,” Harry said, “It was also known as the Deathstick.”

”That was real?” Hagrid asked.

”Yeah,” Harry said, “Voldemort had it. But I took it from him.”

At this, Harry thought of something. He was reminded that he needed to bury the Elder Wand. This brought up another idea as well, but he wasn’t sure who would agree with him, though.

”Hagrid?” Harry asked.

”Yes, Harry?” Hagrid said.

”Is it possible for Snape to be buried next to Professor Dumbledore?” Harry asked.

For a split-second, Harry thought that Hagrid was going to argue with him, and say that it wasn’t the right thing to do. But to Harry’s surprise, Hagrid smiled.

”I think it would be okay,” Hagrid said, “Have ter see what Professor McGonagall thinks. Right now, I think we better get out o’ here. We can take Snape ter the graveyard. That is where the rest o’ the bodies are goin’.”

Hagrid picked up Snape’s body with both hands and started walking out of the room. Harry followed him.

”I would have conjured a stretcher,” Hagrid said, as Harry followed him down the flight of rickety stairs, “But I don’t think it would be wise with all o’ these stairs.”

Hagrid and Harry walked out of the hole at the bottom of the Whomping Willow, and they headed toward the graveyard.

”Where is Grawp?” Harry asked.

”In the Forbidden Forest,” Hagrid said, “I expect he is tryin’ ter make peace wi’ the centaurs.”

Harry laughed at this. “What?” he asked, incredulously.

”Well, he is goin’ ter be livin’ there, ain’t he?” Hagrid said, “He has ter try ter get along wi’ ‘em.”

”Yeah, I guess so,” Harry said.

”He wanted ter help rebuild ‘Ogwarts,” Hagrid said, “He thinks he is a part of the reason that parts o’ the castle is destroyed.”

”He was helping us, though,” Harry said, “Fighting those giants. That was amazing. Pretty brave of him.”

”I know that,” Hagrid said, “I just don’t know if he knows it.”

”Well, I am sure the other Professors wouldn’t mind if Grawp helped,” Harry said, “It might make the job easier.”

Hagrid didn’t respond. Harry expected that he was deep in thought about Hogwarts and the battle that had destroyed parts of the castle. Hogwarts had been Hagrid’s home for a long time. It was true, Harry did call Hogwarts his home, but with Hagrid it was different. He had lived in that little hut for a long time. Hogwarts was literally Hagrid’s home.

A few minutes later, Harry and Hagrid had arrived at the graveyard. Professors McGonagall, Flitwick and Sprout were there, having brought down more bodies from the castle. Harry looked around the graveyard and noticed something that was being covered up in a large purple and gray tarp. Harry wondered what this was.

”Ah, Hagrid, Harry,” McGonagall said, “You are here, good. You can put Snape’s body by the others.”

Harry was about to speak, but Hagrid interrupted him.

”Er, Professor,” Hagrid said, “Harry was hopin’ that Snape could be buried next to Dumbledore.”

Professor McGonagall looked from Hagrid to Harry. Her expression went soft. This was strange to Harry, because McGonagall had always kept a strict, solid expression over her face.

”This is what you want, Harry?” McGonagall asked.

”Yes, mam,” Harry said.

”Very well,” McGonagall said, “Hagrid, you may lay Snape’s body near Albus’ grave.”

Hagrid carried Snape to the front of the graveyard.

”Professor, what is that thing that is being covered up?” Harry asked McGonagall, as he nodded over to the purple and gray tarp.

”Something the other Professors and I planned,” McGonagall said, “You will see it tomorrow at the funeral.”

”All right,” Harry said.

”We are going back to the castle, if you want to come with us,” McGonagall said.

”I will be up there in a few minutes,” Harry said.

Professor McGonagall understood. She nodded and followed Hagrid and the other Professors up to the castle.

Harry sighed. He knew what he needed to do. He put his hand in the pocket of his jeans and took out the Elder wand. The wand had been, in a way, passed down throughout the century. So much blood was shed; so many people were murdered because of this wand. For a split-second, he thought of snapping the wand in two, ending its reign of terror. His hand was itching to snap the wand, but he exhaled and refused. He would bury the wand. No one could use it but him, unless he was defeated in battle and killed. But even then, Harry was the only one who knew where it would be buried.

So Harry took the spade that was laying on the ground and starting to dig a small hole a couple of feet from Dumbledore’s grave. He dug three feet into the ground, then dropped the wand into the hole. He then used the same spell that Bill had used to cover Dobby’s grave. This time, the dirt and grass went back to the place where it used to be. The ground didn’t even look like it had been disturbed.

Harry started to walk back to the castle, but as he passed by Snape’s body, he turned and looked at it.

”I didn’t ever think I would be saying this if you ever died, Professor,” Harry said, “But I want to say that I forgive you. I forgive you for everything you did to me and my parents. I thought you hated every inch of ground we ever walked on. Now I know that I was wrong. Thank you for what you did. I want you to know that you were probably the bravest man I have ever known. Dumbledore trusted you with his life. If you were alive, I would trust you with mine. Goodbye, Professor. Rest in peace.”

Harry wiped a trickle of tear from his eye and turned around. He walked back to the castle where the only family he had left in the world was sitting, waiting eagerly for him to return.

First chapter done! Hope you liked it. I was intending this to be longer, but I am going to put the funeral in the next chapter. It will get a bit emotional!

Feedback would be great!!

Feedback goes here: http://cosforums.com/showthread.php?t=110884

August 18th, 2007, 5:42 pm
Chapter 2
Funerals and Friendship

Harry returned to the Great Hall, where Ginny was now sitting at the Gryffindor Table with Hermione, Ron and the rest of the Weasleys. As Harry walked toward them, he took a glance up toward the Professor’s table. Owls had now flown down onto the table, and were waiting patiently for something. The Professors, which Harry now noticed that Slughorn, Trelawney, and Sinistra were some of the ones sitting at the table, were writing hastily onto pieces of parchment.

Harry sat down between Ginny and Mrs. Weasley. Mrs. Weasley padded him on the shoulder and smiled softly. It was only then that he had noticed that George wasn’t present.

“Where is George?” Harry asked.

“Who knows?” Ron asked, in between swallowing mouthfuls of food.

He nearly choked, and Hermione thumped him on the back.

“He might be walking the grounds,” Ginny said, holding back a s******, “I am surprised you didn’t see him.”

“He will talk when he is ready,” Mr. Weasley said, “Give him time.”

Harry was going to ask whether the professors moved Fred down to the graveyard or not, but he decided that it wasn’t a good time. He decided to quickly change the subject.

“What are they doing up at the Professors’ table?” Harry asked, nodding to Trelawney who was tying a note to an owl’s leg.

“Writing notes to the families and friends of the deceased,” Mr. Weasley said, grimly, “I expect there are going to be a lot of people here for the funeral. It will be a mass funeral. All the caskets will be in two or three rows. Kingsley told me this last night.”

“Hey, where is Kingsley?” Harry asked.

“At the Ministry, I expect,” Mr. Weasley said, “He will be back tomorrow. He is going to be the main speaker at the funeral.”

Now Harry decided that he was going to ask the question that had been on his mind since he woke up.

“What are they doing with Voldemort’s body?” He asked.

Harry expected that people around him would still flinch at Voldemort’s name, but to his surprise no one did.

“It was burned,” Mr. Weasley said, “Last night. I witnessed it. His body was strapped to a couple of logs and sent to the middle of the Hogwarts Lake and burned. I expect it is now at the bottom of the lake.”

“Good riddance,” Ron said.

“Hear, hear,” said a voice behind Harry.

Harry and the others turned around. George was standing there. Mrs. Weasley stood up and hugged him.

“Are you all right?” Mrs. Weasley asked George in almost a whisper.

“I will be, Mum,” George said.

“Good,” Mrs. Weasley said, sitting back down, “Now sit down and eat. I expect you haven’t eaten today.”

“No,” George said, sitting on the other side of his mum.

This had reminded Harry that he also hadn’t eaten a bite. He was ready for some good Hogwarts cooking. He had missed it all those nights when he had eaten wild mushrooms and berries while hiding in forests and mountainsides. Harry put some bacon and scrambled eggs onto the plate in front of him. As he did, he noticed that Hagrid and Professor McGonagall were moving more bodies outside. He felt as if his heart had leapt into his throat. Hagrid was carrying Remus with the deepest care out of the Great Hall. Behind him, Professor McGonagall was carrying Tonks. Harry felt Ginny take hold of his hand. He looked up at her, and saw that she noticed what he was doing.

“I am okay,” Harry whispered.

Ginny squeezed Harry’s hand softly in response. Harry started to eat. As he did, he tried not to think of Remus and Tonks, or Fred and Colin Creevey, or the others who were now laying on the hard, cold floor of the Great Hall, or the dirty earth of the Hogwarts grounds. It was too heart-breaking to think of them. He didn’t want to say goodbye just yet. He would do that tomorrow, with everyone else. Suddenly, another idea had come to him.

“I was wondering,” Harry said, “Is it possible for me to say a speech or something at the funeral?”

Mr. Weasley looked at his wife, then back to Harry.

“I think that would be okay,” he said, “Yeah, I can talk to Kingsley about it. I am sure he will like the idea.”

”Thanks,” Harry said.

Harry continued to eat his breakfast. When he finished, he stood up and was just about to walk out of the Great Hall, when Ron spoke up.

”Going somewhere, mate?” he asked.

”Wanted to take a walk,” Harry said.

”Sounds like a good idea,” Ron said, “I will go to.” He turned to Hermione. “Want to come with us?” he asked her.

”I will catch up to you in a bit,” Hermione said.

”Want to come, Ginny?” Harry asked.

”I will stay here for a little bit,” Ginny said.

”All right,” Harry said.

He and Ron walked out of the Great Hall and out to the grounds. He thought of walking toward the graveyard again, but he decided he would have a chance tomorrow. He started walking toward the lake, and Ron followed him.

”I haven’t told you yet,” Harry said, “But… well, congratulations, mate.”

”What?” Ron asked.

”Well, you and Hermione, of course,” Harry said, “Finally together, eh?”

”Yeah,” Ron said.

”Is everything all right between the two of you?” Harry asked.

”Yeah,” Ron said, “We have just been talking about Australia. Well, she has been doing all the talking, really. I have just been listening.”

”Oh, right,” Harry said, “I take it she wants to go and find her parents?”

”Yeah,” Ron said.

”Uh-oh,” Harry said, “I feel a ‘but’ coming.”

”Well, I don’t want her to go yet,” Ron said, “It might be too dangerous. I was reading the Daily Prophet today. Front page news. Right under the ‘Voldemort Dead; Chosen One Alive; Wizards and Witches Rejoice’ article. It said that there are Death Eaters still on the loose. The Aurors don’t know where they are.”

”That is no surprise,” Harry said, “I expected there to be some on the loose.”

”Well, that is just it, Harry,” Ron said, “I don’t want Hermione to go to Australia when there are still Death Eaters out there somewhere. You know that we are probably still targets. This war isn’t over, no matter if Voldemort is dead. Hermione doesn’t understand that.”

”Have you told her this?” Harry asked.

”Not yet,” Ron said, “I didn’t feel like getting into a big fight a day after we got together.”

”No, that wouldn’t be a good idea,” Harry said, chuckling.

Ron also chuckled, though reluctantly.

”Do you want me to talk to her about it?” Harry asked.

”No, Harry,” Ron said, “Promise me you won’t say a word about it. I have to be the one to tell her. No matter what the outcome will be.”

”Okay, I promise,” Harry said, “But, wouldn’t it be a good idea if you went with her to Australia?”

”Oh yeah, I can see it now,” Ron said, rolling his eyes, “Mum and Dad would never let me go. I have been away from home for nearly a year. And now I want to go away for a couple of weeks or so. It is going to be worse because – well, you know.”

”Yeah, mate,” Harry said, patting Ron on the shoulder, “I know.”

”So how is it with you and Ginny?” Ron asked.

Harry grinned knowingly. He knew Ron had wanted to change the subject.

”Great, I think,” Harry said, “She came up to the dormitory and woke me up.”

”I told her not to!” Ron said, “I told her to let you sleep. Sometimes I think we do need the same charm the girls have on their stairs.”

Harry laughed. “No, it is fine,” he said, “I was okay with it.”

”It still isn’t fair that they get to come to our room and we don’t get to go to theirs,” Ron said.

Before walking to the lake, Harry turned around and looked at the castle. From this distance, they could see a lot of it. The battle had done its damage to the castle.

”Reckon they will be able to put it back together?” Ron asked, evidently noticing what Harry was looking at.

”I think they will,” Harry said, “I have faith in the old castle. It may repair itself, who knows?”

”Yeah,” Ron said.

Harry and Ron walked to the lake and sat down at the trunk of a tree. They watched the giant squid swim in the water as they waited for Ginny and Hermione. When Ginny and Hermione arrived a few minutes later, they all walked around the lake, deep in conversation. As Harry promised, he didn’t bring anything up about his conversation with Ron and his concerns about Hermione’s trip.

At eleven-o-clock the next morning, people starting arriving in thestral-drawn carriages. Many parents, those of whom had children who had remained at Hogwarts to battle, had arrived, searching frantically for their loved ones. Other witches and wizards (parents of deceased children, and friends of the deceased) had also come to say their final goodbyes. Most of the deceased would be buried in the Hogwarts graveyard. Others would be taken back home with their loved ones to be buried with other family members who had died.

Harry, who was standing near the rows of chairs near the graveyard, had recognized some of the wizards and witches. Andromeda Tonks had arrived. She had a somber look on her face: she had already been notified of Remus and Dora’s deaths. Harry noticed that she was carrying Teddy, who Harry could barely see because he was wrapped in a blanket.

Dennis Creevey had returned to the castle, being accompanied by a man that Harry knew was Mr. Creevey. Harry was sure that Mr. Creevey had been notified of Colin’s death.

Kingsley Shacklebolt arrived and headed into the castle. A few minutes later, Kingsley came out with Mr. Weasley. Harry noticed that they were walking toward him.

”Harry,” boomed Kingsley, “Arthur just informed me that you wanted to make a speech at the funeral today.”

”Yes, sir,” Harry said, “I wrote a little something last night.”

This was true. Harry had spent about three hours writing out a speech for the funeral.

”Good,” Kingsley said, “I assume you know that I will be the one leading the funeral. I will call you up during it.”

”Sounds good to me,” Harry said.

”Good,” Kingsley said, “It is settled then.” He turned to Mr. Weasley. “Now where is your son Percy? I would like to talk to the both of you before the funeral is underway.”

”He is around here somewhere,” Mr. Weasley said, “Let’s go find him.”

Kingsley and Mr. Weasley walked away. Ron, Hermione and Ginny walked up to him. All three were wearing their school robes, the requested outfits for the students who would be attending the funeral. It would mark their support for the castle and the students who had fought for the school.

”Depressing business, isn’t this?” Ron asked.

”Yeah,” Harry said, looking at the rows of the chairs, “You notice that Colin’s father is here?”

”Yeah,” Hermione said.

”I don’t understand,” Ginny said, “Isn’t he a Muggle?”

”The parents of Muggle-borns can see the castle if they are told about it,” Hermione explained.

”Oh, right,” Ginny said.


At noon, everyone was seated in the rows of chairs. The front row was reserved for those who had lost loved ones in the battle at Hogwarts. All of the Weasleys were sitting there. Harry and Hermione had joined them as well. Harry was sitting next to Ginny; Hermione next to Ron. Harry looked down the row. Andromeda was sitting in the middle of the row. Teddy was sitting in her lap, playing and giggling to himself.

For a second, Harry envied him. Teddy wasn’t old enough to know what was going on. He wondered how this would affect Teddy in the future. His parents had died without giving him the opportunity to know them very well. Harry felt closer to Teddy now more than ever.

Further down the row, Colin’s father and brother were sitting together; both were staring at Colin’s casket. Other witches and wizards, all related to someone who had died in the battle, were sitting further down the row. Harry wondered if it was right for him and Hermione to be sitting with those who had lost someone related to them. True, Remus was a friend of Harry’s father, but that was his closest connection to them. He had known Fred for seven years, but he almost felt as if he should be sitting in another row, with Neville, Luna, and the others.

A couple of minutes into the funeral, Kingsley Shacklebolt walked toward the podium. Before turning to the witches and wizards in the rows of chairs, he looked at all of the caskets and muttered something Harry couldn’t hear. Harry thought it was a spell. But when nothing happened, Harry knew that Kingsley was just saying words of praise to the deceased. Kingsley turned to the podium and looked around at the wizards and witches.

”First of all, I would like to welcome you all here to the grounds of Hogwarts castle,” Kingsley said, “Wizards, witches, squibs and Muggles alike. We are all united to pay respects to those who died fighting against evil in order to make the world, wizarding and Muggle, a better place. But we shouldn’t just pay respects to them. We should pay respects to everyone who fought and died over the years to let us see this day. For years, I thought I would rejoice for days after the war was finally over. Today, though, is not a day of rejoice. It is a day of remembrance. We gather here to remember the hardships, losses and victories over the years, knowing that one day we would gather and the war would be over. We didn’t expect it to end like this, but it did.”

Kingsley continued to address the crowd, but Harry couldn’t hear him over his thoughts. He knew what he was going to say when it was his time to talk, but could he say it. These people laying in caskets in front of him. They died fighting against Voldemort, the Death Eaters, the giants, and the other horrors that had come. But did they have to? If Harry knew that he could have given up and lived, this funeral wouldn’t even be taking place. Voices of rejoice and happiness would replace the tears and sorrow that the witches and wizards felt sitting here listening to Kingsley.

Before Harry knew it though, he was taken away from his thoughts. Ginny was poking him in the side.

”Harry?” she whispered, “Are you okay?”

”Yeah,” Harry whispered.

”Well, it is your turn,” Ginny said.

Harry looked up. Kingsley was looking at him.

”Do you still want to say something?” Kingsley said in a low voice.

Harry nodded and stood up. He walked over to the podium. Kingsley walked a few paces behind him and stood there. Harry looked over the crowd. The parchment that had his speech on it was resting in Harry’s pocket, but Harry didn’t need it. He knew what he was going to say. Harry cleared his throat and began.

”The late Rufus Scrimgeour,” he said, “once accused me of being ‘Dumbledore’s man through and through.’ He was right. But I think that everyone, dead or alive, who defended Hogwarts a couple of days ago, rightfully earns that title as well. I believe that if Albus Dumbledore was alive, he would have been leading us in the fight for the castle he loved. He would have been proud of everyone.”

He paused and looked over his shoulder at the caskets.

”If I could say anything to those who died,” he said, turning back to the witches and wizards, “It would be ‘thank you’. They died fighting against Voldemort and his army, and they didn’t have to. They could have walked away and let Voldemort walk into Hogwarts. But they stayed and fought. I thank them.”

He looked over the crowd of witches and wizards.

”And I thank you,” Harry said, “Everyone who fought this war and helped me and everyone in some way deserve my thanks. There was a time when you doubted me and those who followed me. But I forgive you.”

Harry wanted to say more, but he couldn’t put the words right. He walked away from the podium and back to his seat. Ron and Hermione smiled at him affectionately, and Ginny took his hand and squeezed it gently. Harry smiled softly.

Other wizards and witches spoke as well. Professor McGonagall, Professor Sprout, Professor Flitwick, and Hagrid all said little speeches and gave thanks. After everyone had said their speeches, Kingsley returned to the podium.

”Now I would like to present something that the Professors made for everyone who fought at the battle,” he said.

He took his wand from his pocket and pointed it to the tarp to his left. It flew away, revealing a statue of a large faceless wizard

”This memorial has no face,” Kingsley said, “because it represents everyone who fought here at the battle of Hogwarts. Not just those who died, but those who lived as well. May those who look upon the statue remember everyone who fought here at the last battle of the war.”

After the funerals, the families of the deceased went to the caskets to say their goodbyes. Witches and wizards lined up to give their wishes and prayers to the families. Harry decided that he would go to Fred’s casket last. He had other things he wanted to say to some of the other families. Mr. Creevey and Dennis were standing there, talking to Professor McGonagall. When McGonagall walked away, Harry went to him.

”Mr. Creevey?” Harry asked.

Mr. Creevey looked at Harry.

”Hello, sir,” Harry said, “I am Harry –“

”Harry Potter,” Mr. Creevey said, “Yes, I know who you are. I am Ben.”

”Ben,” Harry said, “I want to apologize for –“

”Harry,” Ben said, “There is no need to apologize.”

Harry was about to speak, but Ben raised his hand to stop Harry.

”Professor McGonagall explained everything,” Ben said, “Colin died fighting for the school. I actually wanted to thank you Harry.”

Harry’s eyes widened. He couldn’t find a reason for Mr. Creevey to thank him.

”Before Colin and Dennis went to Hogwarts, “Ben said, “They were… well, they were different. When my wife – their mother – passed away, my boys took it very hard. They weren’t happy. They would argue with each other and with me. Their magical powers showed a couple weeks after my wife’s death, and I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know what was going on. I am just a Muggle you see. Well, Professor Dumbledore came to my house and... well, to make the story short, Colin became a student and came here the following September. He came home a changed boy. He was happy. All he could talk about was you, Harry. He said you saved his life.”

Harry knew what Ben was talking about. It was during Colin’s first year that he had been petrified.

”It wasn’t just me, sir,” Harry said, “Professor Sprout revived Colin when he was Petrified. I can’t take all the credit.”

”I understand,” Ben said, “Anyway, when Colin came home, he talked to Dennis about it. Dennis was promised that he would be a student at Hogwarts when he was old enough. Well, Dennis couldn’t wait to go. I can’t say everything changed. He wanted to try his magical powers. Dumbledore had explained that he would, but also said it wasn’t a good idea. Dennis understood, but a few days a week, I would still see things moving around when Dennis was excited or really emotional. But he was happy. When he went to Hogwarts, he came back a happy boy.”

”I can’t take credit for all of that,” Harry said, “Hogwarts itself did that.”

”You were a hero to the boys, Harry,” Ben said, “You still are. Thank you.”

Harry tried to say “You’re welcome” to Ben, but the words wouldn’t come. He just nodded and hoped Been would take that as a good response. Harry shook Ben’s hand and walked on. He walked over to Remus and Tonks’ caskets. Andromeda was standing there. Teddy was sitting on the ground, playing and humming to himself. Harry grinned when Teddy’s hair changed from brown to bright green.

”Teddy, couldn’t you have picked a better hair color?” Andromeda said, “Oh, you are just like your mother.”

”Quite accustomed to his powers, isn’t he?” Harry said, grinning.

Andromeda looked up and turned toward Harry.

”Oh yes,” Andromeda said, “His mother was the same way. Gold hair one minute, bright pink the next. And that was just when she was a baby.”

”I am not sure if they told you,” Harry said, “But –“

”They named you his godfather?” Andromeda said, “Oh yes. They told me.”

”Well, you are his grandmother,” Harry said, “I know you will take care of him. I just wanted to let you know that I would like to come and visit him sometimes.”

”Of course you can, Harry,” Andromeda said, “It would be great. I was going to suggest it myself.”

”Thank you,” Harry said.

”They loved you, Harry,” Andromeda said. She wasn’t looking at him. She had turned to Tonks and Remus’ caskets.

”I know they did,” Harry said, “Believe me. And listen, if there is any way I could help you out. I know this past year has been quite tough on you.”

”I will manage,” Andromeda said, “Just come and visit sometime, won’t you?”

”Of course,” Harry said, “I will see you later.”

”Anytime, Harry,” Andromeda said.

Harry grinned and looked at Teddy. His hair was now gold. He giggled silently and walked down row of caskets. For the next hour, he walked to every casket and talked to the witches and wizards, letting him know how he felt.

When he finished, he walked over to Fred’s casket. George was the only one standing there now. Harry was hoping George would be there. He wanted to talk to him.

”George,” Harry said, “I am not sure if anyone told you. I was there when –“

George sighed and walked away from Harry and Fred’s casket. He had ignored Harry like he hadn’t even seen or heard him. A few seconds later, Ron, Hermione and Ginny walked over to him.

”Did he say anything to you?” Ginny asked, looking at George.

”Nothing,” Harry said, “He ignored me. Like it was my fault.”

”Don’t say that, Harry!” Hermione cried.

”Hermione’s right, mate,” said Ron, “George has been like that with all of us.”

Harry sighed and looked at all of the coffins.

”How many of them do you think will be buried here at Hogwarts,” he asked.

”Kingsley did say that they would be buried around the memorial,” Hermione said.

”Colin is being buried in his hometown,” Ginny said, “I heard his father talking about it.”

”Dad says he wants Fred buried near Great Uncle Billius,” Ron said, “But Bill and Charlie thought he should be buried here at the castle. So… I dunno.”

”Looks like everyone is going in,” Harry said.

”Yeah,” Ron said, “The house-elves are making a meal for everyone. It is their gift for the whole thing, I guess.”

Harry, Ron, Hermione and Ginny all walked into the castle.

”You coming back to the Burrow?” Ron asked Hermione and Harry.

”Yeah,” Harry said, “I guess I am.”

”I will be,” Hermione said, “But not for too long. I need to go to Australia to find my parents.”

Harry knew Ron was holding back his argument. Apparently Ron didn’t want to make a scene here.

When they walked into the Great Hall, Kingsley was talking to Mr. Weasley and Percy. They immediately left the Great Hall, and the castle.

”What do you suppose is going on?” Harry asked.

”Kingsley is trying to round up the Ministry workers,” Ginny said, “To see who is coming back after this whole ordeal. Mum told me.”

”How many do you think will go back?” Hermione asked.

”I guess we will see soon,” Harry said.

Harry looked around the Great Hall. Many people had started eating the food that was set for them. He felt now that everything was going to change. But how… he did not know. For now, he wouldn’t worry about that. He was with everyone who supported him and decided to finally join in the celebrations that the wizarding world had been waiting for.

Finished! Long chapter… I hope you all liked it. More to come.

With some of the stuff, I just did some guessing. I didn’t know if Colin’s mother was dead, but I took it this way.

Feedback would be great.

August 21st, 2007, 4:49 pm
Chapter 3
Back To The Burrow

Author’s Note: I know this title has been used in one of the books, but I am bad with titles, and unfortunately this is all I could come up with. Enjoy the chapter.

After the feast in the Great Hall, the guests along with their respected family members, started to leave. Bill and Fleur, after saying goodbye to Harry, Hermione and the Weasleys, left to go back to Shell Cottage. Charlie had chosen to go back to Romania, saying that he had been gone too long, and would see the family again very soon.

It was nearly dark before Mrs. Weasley had announced that she had rounded up a Portkey in Hogsmeade for the return to the Burrow. Harry, Hermione, Ron, Ginny, George and Mrs. Weasley put walked to Hogsmeade and found the butterbeer bottle that was designated as the Portkey. Mrs. Weasley used magic to transport all of the things that would be too heavy to take back on the Portkey. Seconds later, everyone touched the bottle and they had vanished from Hogsmeade and arrived at the Burrow.

Harry grinned when he immediately noticed the Burrow. It had been so long since he had seen the building. He had almost forgotten how cozy it was.

"Arthur sent me an owl at Hogwarts and said that we shouldn’t worry if he wasn’t back tonight," Mrs. Weasley said, "He said that he and Percy were very busy at the Ministry."

Everyone followed her toward the door. Mrs. Weasley muttered a few words, and Harry heard clanking inside the Burrow. The wards had been released. Mrs. Weasley opened the door and everyone walked in.

"Harry, dear, you can sleep in Bill’s old room," Mrs. Weasley said. "Hermione can sleep in Ginny’s room. Ron, that ghoul of yours is back in the attic. Everything in the room is nice and neat and ready for you."

Harry walked upstairs with Ron, Hermione, Ginny and George. George said nothing and walked into his bedroom.

"Ron and Harry," Hermione said, "I will get all of your things out of my bag and bring them to you soon."

Harry and Ron nodded and Hermione walked into Ginny’s bedroom. Ginny had remained on the stairwell, and was looking at Ron with narrow eyes. Ron finally figured out what Ginny was doing.

"Oh," Ron said, clearing his throat, "Right. Well, I will be up in my bedroom. Good night."

Ron hastily walked up the stairs, leaving Harry and Ginny outside the door of Ginny’s bedroom.

"Well… er… good night," Harry said.

He was about to walk up the stairs toward Bill’s old room when Ginny took his hand.

"Oh, no you don’t," Ginny said.

Harry turned around and Ginny stood up on the tips of her toes and kissed Harry fully on the lips. Harry kissed her back, enjoying the moment. What seemed like forever, was only seconds later when Ginny backed away.

"Good night, Harry," Ginny said, grinning.

She walked into her bedroom before Harry could say a word.

"Right, good night," Harry said to Ginny’s door.

Harry walked up to Bill’s bedroom and walked in. Mrs. Weasley had apparently been keeping the room spotless, hoping one day it would be used again. He shut the door, and was about to sit on the bed, when there was a knock on the door. Harry walked back over to the door and opened it up. Hermione was standing there, holding a pile of Harry’s things.

"Thanks," Harry said, taking the things from Hermione.

"See you in the morning, Harry," Hermione said.

Harry closed the door and put his things on top of the dresser on the other side of the room. His invisibility cloak was on the top, still looking the same as the first day he had got it. He smiled and walked over to the bed, lying down. He fell asleep instantly.


Mr. Weasley and Percy still hadn’t returned by the time Harry had woken up. By noon, when Mrs. Weasley was serving lunch, they still hadn’t returned. Harry, Ginny, Ron, and Hermione sat down at the table. George was still up in his bedroom, probably asleep.

"When is that boy going to come down?" Mrs. Weasley said to herself, looking at the stairwell with her hands on her hips.

"Let him sleep, Mum," Ginny said, "He’s had a rough few days."

"You know he hasn’t even talked about his store for four days," Mrs. Weasley said, "It’s been closed since then. A couple of owls came today, both from his employees. They were wondering when George wanted them back for work."

"He will return when he is ready, Mum," Ron said.

Mrs. Weasley was about to speak again, but the front door opened. Mr. Weasley and Percy had returned, both looking tired.

"Arthur, Percy, there you are!" Mrs. Weasley said, hugging them both, "I expected you to come back this morning."

"Been a busy night at the Ministry," Mr. Weasley said, "People coming in and out. A lot of Ministry officials resigned. They said they weren’t ready to come back. There have been a lot of changes in jobs. Kingsley has been named temporary Minister of Magic."

"He has?" Mrs. Weasley asked.

"Yeah," Mr. Weasley said, "But Kingsley wants to make sure that is what everyone wants. He wants to take it in front of the Wizengamot. He says that he needs to know if they want him as Minister."

"Why wouldn’t they want that?" Harry asked, "He would be a great Minister."

"Oh, there is no reason, really," Mr. Weasley said, "Since Pius Thicknese was under the Imperius Curse, and Rufus Scrimgeour is dead, there is nobody to rightly pass the job on. It has happened before. Just precautions, nothing to worry about."

"Kingsley named me as his Junior Assistant," Percy said, evidently bursting at the seams to get the news out to his family.

"Oh, Percy!" Mrs. Weasley said, "I am so happy for you."

"Which reminds me," Percy said, "I can’t stay for too long. Kingsley wants me back soon."

"But you haven’t had any sleep, Percy!" Mrs. Weasley said.

"I will get some, Mum," Percy said, "Don’t worry."

"Speaking of new jobs," Mr. Weasley said, "Kingsley has named me the Head of the Muggle Liason Office."

Everyone at the table congratulated him.

"Yeah," Mr. Weasley said. "Tomorrow I am meeting with the Muggle Prime Minister to address him out new plans directly for Muggles. Which reminds me, Harry, Ron and Ginny, Wilkie Twycross has announced that he will be there for those who want to take Apparation Tests. So I have set up appointments for all three of you."

"But Ginny isn’t seventeen yet," Mrs. Weasley said.

"I know this," Mr. Weasley said, "But Wilkie said that it would be okay."

"When were you able to practice Apparation, Ginny?" Harry asked.

"Dad helped me earlier this year since I wasn’t able to do it at Hogwarts," Ginny said, "Our magical barriers protected us when I was practicing. No one in the Ministry knew I was practicing."

"So," Mr. Weasley said to Harry, Ron and Ginny, "I want the three of you up early so I can take you to the Ministry for your tests."

"Early to bed tonight, then," Mrs. Weasley said.

"What else has been going on in the Ministry?" Harry asked.

"Delores Umbridge was sacked and arrested," Percy said.

Harry, Ron, Hermione and Ginny all expressed their delights.

"Yeah," Percy said, "Arrested for torturing witches and wizards. Not to mention she was a known ally of Voldemort. She was doing his filthy deeds in the Ministry."

"Speaking of that," Mr. Weasley said, "Augustus Rookwood turned himself in. Apparently, he is hoping to get off with a light sentence. He wants to help the Ministry catch the Death Eaters. I am not sure how that is going to work out."

"What about the Malfoys?" Harry asked.

"Lucius and Narcissa have been given light sentences," Mr. Weasley said, "A year in Azkaban. They admitted their wrong-doings, but they were still sentenced."

"And Draco?" Harry asked.

"Moved to America," Mr. Weasley said, "Personal reasons."

"Afraid to face everyone, I bet," Ron said, s******ing.

"Yes," Mr. Weasley said, "Well, the Aurors are keeping constant watch on Malfoy Manor. It is a known Death Eater hideout."

At this moment, footsteps were heard coming from the stairs. A few seconds later, George arrived in the kitchen. He looked pale and tired.

"George, dear," Mrs. Weasley said, "Did you get any sleep at all last night."

"Yes, Mum," George said, keeping his eyesight on his shoes.

"Well, come and eat," Mrs. Weasley said.

George sat down next to Harry. Mrs. Weasley served everyone their lunch. George didn’t eat anything.

"This isn’t normally like George," Ron muttered, "He usually eats more than anyone here at the table."

"George, you do need to eat something," Percy said.

George picked up his fork and moved it around in his food.

"I know what is wrong, George," Percy said, "You can’t mourn him forever."

"What do you know about it, Percy?" George said, his voice raised.

"George!" Mrs. Weasley said.

"Fred was my brother too, George!" Percy said.

"When was the last time you had a decent conversation with him?" George said. His face was red with fury. "You’ve been away playing pet to the Ministry, and then you come back to us hoping we’d welcome you with open arms!"

Mrs. Weasley was about to talk, but Percy spoke up first.

"I may have been away," Percy said, "But I am still part of this family and I miss Fred as much as you do. I knew Fred enough to know that he wouldn’t want you sitting around moping. Get up and get on with your life. What about your joke shop? Eh? You going to let it collect dust because Fred is not around to help you with it? He is not coming back, George!"

George stood up and just stared at Percy. He looked ready to fight. Suddenly, he walked out of the kitchen and out of the Burrow. The door slammed, then a CRACK followed. George had disapparated.

"Where did he go?" Mrs. Weasley asked.

When no one said anything, Mrs. Weasley spoke up again.

"Well, this is just great, Percy!" she said, "You didn’t need to tell him that right now."

"What I told him was the truth, Mum," Percy said, "He needs to get on with his life. The rest of us have. Now, if you will excuse me, I need to get back to work."

Percy stood up and walked outside. A CRACK! was heard. Percy had disapparated as well.

Mrs. Weasley looked around the kitchen, then ran toward the stairs and up them. Harry heard a sob come from her. Mr. Weasley sighed and walked up the stairs.

"So, Apparation Tests, eh," Ron said, apparently trying to lighten the mood, "Should be fun."

No one answered him.


Later that afternoon, Harry, Ginny, Ron and Hermione were all sitting in the living room. Mrs. Weasley hadn’t calmed down yet. Mr. Weasley had come back to the kitchen fifteen minutes after he had retreated up the stairs with Mrs. Weasley. He said that Mrs. Weasley wasn’t to be bothered. She was asleep and needed the rest. Mr. Weasley had then apparated away from the Burrow, probably to look for George. He hadn’t returned yet.

Hermione was writing something in a notebook, and hadn’t said a word. Harry and Ron were playing wizards chess, and Ginny was watching them.

"Checkmate!" Ron said, having trapped Harry’s king for the third game in a row, "Harry, are you ever going to beat me?"

Harry shrugged, looking at his fallen king.

"What are you writing, Hermione?" Ron asked, looking up at Hermione.

"Stuff for my trip to Australia," Hermione said, still looking at her notebook.

”You are still going to go?” Ron asked.

Harry looked at Ginny, who was looking anywhere else but Ron and Hermione. Apparently Ginny knew what Harry knew: if Ron was thick enough to bring it up, he was going to have to pay the consequences. There was also the possibility that Ginny was trying to look for a way out of this conversation without making anyone mad.

”Of course I am, Ronald,” Hermione said, taking her eyes away from the notebook to look at Ron, “Why wouldn’t I go?”

Ron looked at Harry in a “Can you help me?” kind of way.

”Do you not want me to go?” Hermione asked.

”Look, Hermione,” Ron said.

”No, Ron,” Hermione interrupted, “I promised myself that when the war was over, I was going to find my parents and restore their memory.”

”That’s just it, Hermione,” Ron said, apparently feeling a bit braver, “The war is not over. Have you read the Daily Prophet lately? There are still Death Eaters out there.”

”I am going to Australia on Saturday, Ron,” Hermione said, “Whether you like it or not.”

”It is too dangerous, Hermione!” Ron said, looking around at Harry and Ginny, “They will tell you. Harry? Ginny? Come on, tell her.”

”Ron is right, Hermione,” Ginny said, “There are Death Eaters out there.”

”I do not care,” Hermione said, “What if it was your parents, Ginny? I have been away from my parents for too long. I don’t know how they are doing. I want to bring them back. It is my fault that they are down there.”

”You were protecting them,” Ron said, “What if something happened to you on your way to find them?”

When Hermione didn’t answer, Ron stood up and walked off without looking at anyone.

”Ron!” Hermione yelled, “If you think it is too dangerous, why don’t you come with me? You can come with me!”

Ron didn’t answer. He had already left the Burrow.

”Damn him,” Hermione muttered.

”Should we go after him?” Ginny asked.

”No,” Hermione said, her eyes watering, “I don’t care right now. He is such a git.”

”Look, Hermione,” Harry said, “What if I was to go with you to Australia?”

Ginny was about to speak, but Hermione spoke up first.

”No, Harry,” Hermione said, with a sigh, “That is not possible.”

”Why not?” Harry asked, “I can go - -“

”It isn’t that I don’t want you to go, Harry,” Hermione said, “It just isn’t possible. Restoring someone’s memory is a risky business to begin with. You have to really know how to do it. I have to be careful about what my parents have to remember all of a sudden. Ron can go, but only cause he is my boyfriend. That is a little thing, really. But, if I have to bombard my parents with all this information about you and everything that has been going on, something could go wrong.”

”I understand,” Harry said.

”I really do want Ron to go with me,” Hermione said, looking out the window, probably for any sign of Ron. “But since he is mad at me…”

”Ron wants to go, Hermione,” Harry said, “But he thinks that might be a problem.”

”I was afraid of that,” Hermione said.

”What?” Ginny asked.

”He’s been gone so long that he thinks your parents are going to not let him go, Ginny,” Hermione said, “And with all of this that has gone on in recent days, I can’t blame him. It will be his choice, and his choice alone. I don’t want the two of you to make it for him.”

”Oh, bloody hell,” Harry said.

”What is it, Harry?” Ginny asked.

”The Dursleys!” Harry said.

”What about them?” Ginny asked.

”I almost forgot about them,” Harry said, “I need to write a letter to Hestia Jones and see how they are doing.”

”Let’s go find Pigwidgeon,” Ginny said, standing up, “You can write to Hestia and send it with Pig. I am sure that Ron won’t mind. Will you be all right, Hermione?”

”Hmm?” Hermione said, not looking up at Ginny. She was still looking out the window. “Oh, yeah, I will be fine.”

”We will be right back,” Ginny said.

Harry walked with Ginny into the kitchen. Pig had been chasing down a field mouse for lunch and was now sitting on the windowsill.

”Mom always keeps a spare bit of parchment and supplies around here somewhere,” Ginny said, looking through drawers, “Just in case she needs to write a quick letter. Aha! Found it.”

Ginny took a piece of parchment, a quill and some ink from the drawer, then set them on the table. Harry sat down and started writing…


Hello, I hope you are doing well. I was wondering how the Dursleys are doing. If you could write back quickly, it would be great.

Thanks a lot,
Harry Potter

Harry rolled up the piece of parchment and tied it to Pig’s leg, while Ginny held the owl down. Pig flew off through the window and into the sky. Harry and Ginny watched him until he disappeared into the horizon.

Weird way to end the chapter, but I couldn’t think of what else to put. I have my ideas written down on notebook for the next chapter, so it should be up within the next couple of days. So far in my notebook of the thoughts I been brainstorming about my fan-fic, I have twelve chapters thought of. I don’t have everything planned out for them, but I have ideas. The story is going to get good, and I hope you stick around.

If you noticed the part about Augustus Rookwood, let me explain. No where in DH says that Rookwood was killed. Only that Percy chased after him. So I think he might have gotten away. He might be more important in the chapters to follow, but not too soon, so look for that.

Hope you like it so far.

Feedback would be great!

August 24th, 2007, 5:55 pm
Chapter 4
The Apparation Exam

Author’s Note: This will be the first chapter that I will switch Point-of-Views between characters. This chapter will be in Ron's Point-of-View. Enjoy...

Ron woke up the next morning with his head full of thoughts. He remembered the fight he had with Hermione yesterday. The fight he knew would come if he had told Hermione not to go to Australia. He had left the conversation having stormed out of the Burrow. He hadn't talked to Hermione the rest of the day. He didn't even bid her a good night. Ron had heard Hermione's last words to him before he walked out of the Burrow. They were echoing in his head like a broken record. "You can come with me!" Hermione had said. It was true. Ron wanted to go with Hermione to Australia. It would have given him some time alone with her. He wanted that desperately.

Ever since he and Hermione had become a couple, they hadn't had very much time alone. At Hogwarts, people had talked to him a lot, wishing him their best and giving him their prayers. Letting him know how much they cared. Here at the Burrow, his mother was around a lot and Ron knew that she wouldn't let him have private time with Hermione. Ron doubted that his mother knew about his relationship with Hermione. What would she say if she found out? She would be happy, of course. But she would keep an eye on him and Hermione. She didn't want any of that romantic stuff in her house. She had too much of it when Bill and Fleur were together in the house.

If Ron went to Australia with Hermione, she would be too worried about her parents, and Ron would be too worried about Hermione. It would be the same if he stayed at the Burrow and she went to Australia. Ron knew that Hermione was going to go no matter what Ron said. But could Ron go, even if he wanted to? His mother wouldn't want him to go. She knew as well as he did that the war was not over. The wizarding world was still a dangerous place.

Ron looked up at the ceiling of his bedroom. What was he going to choose? Inside his mind, the choices were dueling it out, trying to figure out what was the better decision. Go to Australia with his girlfriend and help her find her parents, or stay at home where he would be safe, but he would also be worried about Hermione.

Ron sat up. There was only one real choice in the matter. He was going to have to go to Australia. And if he was going to do that, he was going to have to make up with Hermione. He began to get dressed. A few minutes later, he walked out of his room and began to walk down the stairs toward Ginny's room. But as he was walking down, Hermione was walking up.

"Hermione?" Ron said.

"Ron," Hermione said, "What are you doing up so early?"

"I have to get up early," Ron said, "I have to take the Apparation test today, remember?"

"Yeah, I remember, Ron," Hermione said, "But even your dad isn't even up yet."

"Mum is," Ron said, taking in the scents of the food that his mother was cooking for the morning breakfast, "Why are you up so early anyway?"

"I get up this early a lot," Hermione said.

"Listen, Hermione," Ron said, "I need to talk to you. Can you come up to my room?"

Hermione didn't answer.

"Please?" Ron asked.

"Fine," Hermione said.

Ron and Hermione walked up the stairs toward Ron's room.

"Sorry about the room," Ron said, when they walked in. "It hasn't smelled the same since the ghoul was in here."

"It's fine," Hermione said.

Ron sat down on his bed, and beckoned Hermione to come over. She sat down and Ron smiled.

"I want to apologize for what I said yesterday," Ron said.

"No, Ron, don't," Hermione said, taking Ron's hand. "I understand why you said those things. I wanted to hear you say that. It means that you care about me."

"Of course I do," Ron said.

"But I am still going to go to Australia, Ron," Hermione said, "I made up my mind on that a long time ago."

Ron sighed and looked at Hermione's hand that was holding his.

"You know," Hermione said, "Harry talked to me after you walked out of the Burrow. He offered to go with me."

"Oh, he did, did he?" Ron asked.

"Yeah," Hermione said, "But I said he couldn't go. Do you know why?"

"Because you knew that Ginny wouldn't let him?" Ron said, chortling.

"No," Hermione said, "Because I didn't want to put too much into the task of restoring my parents' memories."

"So I can't go for the same reason?" Ron asked.

"When did I ever say that?" Hermione replied, "Have I ever said that?"

"No," Ron said, "You said the complete opposite."

"Exactly," Hermione said.

"But wouldn't it put too much into the task if I went with you?" Ron asked.

"No," Hermione said, gripping Ron's hand tighter, but with more care. "It is the exact opposite. Look, you are my boyfriend. I love you, Ron."

Ron grinned at Hermione at this.

"I want my parents to know how much I care about you," Hermione said.

"Is that the truth?" Ron asked.

"No, it's the complete opposite," Hermione said, sarcastically.

Ron rolled his eyes.

"I have been reading a lot," Hermione said.

"No surprise there," Ron said.

"Let me finish!" Hermione said through gritted teeth. She punched Ron in the shoulder.

"Ow!" Ron grimaced.

"I have been reading a lot about Memory Restoration," Hermione said, "It says that restoring stuff that has to do with love is easy. Family is in that category. But so are relationships with people and being in love."

"So that means you can tell them about me and it wouldn't risk any side-effects?" Ron asked.

"There will always be a chance of risks," Hermione said, "We all take risks. Look... imagine that you lost your memory. What would you say if I told you that the reason you can't remember anything is because I didn't want you to be a part of a war that could ruin the world forever?"

"I dunno," Ron said, "I guess I would react pretty badly. I would panic. I wouldn't believe you maybe."

"Exactly," Hermione said, "Restoring something like that could be bad. Restoring something that is simple like... "You live in so-and-so. You have so-and-so children." It would be good to know that. You can go back and live the life you had."

"But Hermione," Ron said, "We can't lie to your parents. They need to know that you are a witch. That your best friend killed the most evil wizard in the world. That almost everything is back to normal."

"And they will," Hermione said, "In time. They can't be bombarded with so many things."

Ron paused for a moment to think about things. He finally spoke up.

"Hermione?" Ron said.

"Yes?" Hermione replied.

"I want to go with you to Australia," Ron said.

"Really?" Hermione asked.

"Yeah," Ron said.

"Well, then you better pass your Apparation Test today," Hermione said, "Because we will be going to Australia by Apparation on Saturday. I am going to take there with Side-Along Apparation, but I do not want to have to do that all the time."

"Don't worry, Hermione," Ron said. "I will pass the test today."

"You better," Hermione said.

"I will," Ron said, "Trust me."

"I do," Hermione said, smiling.

She moved her hand around in Ron's hand. Ron moved in closer to her, and kissed her on the lips, enjoying every moment of this. He hadn't been able to enjoy many of these moments. But the moment was interrupted by a light tapping on the door.

"Ron? Are you awake? Is Hermione in there with you?" a voice said. It was Harry's voice.

"Yes," Ron said, "I am awake."

The door opened and Harry walked in. Ron noticed that Harry was grinning.

"Oh!" Harry said, "Was I interrupting something?"

Ron was about to answer, but Hermione answered first.

"Maybe," Hermione said, "What did you want?"

"Ron, your Mum says breakfast is ready," Harry said, "She said that if you want anything to eat before your dad takes us to the Ministry, you better be downstairs pronto."

"Okay," Ron said, "We will be down."

"I take it that you are going to Australia, Ron?" Harry said.

"Yeah," Ron said.

"If he passes the Apparation Test today," Hermione said.

"I said I was going to," Ron said.

"Well, I will tell your Mum that you will be down in a bit," Harry said, "Gotta go wake up Ginny."

"She is awake," Hermione said.

Harry shut the door. Ron heard footsteps. He was sure Harry hadn't heard Hermione.

"Are you okay with Harry being with your sister?" Hermione asked.

"Hermione, you asked me that after I walked in on them kissing on Harry's birthday," Ron said.

"Yeah, and last year you yelled at Harry because he kissed Ginny," Hermione said.

"Because he had broken up with her," said Ron, "He wasn't supposed to kiss her if they weren't together. That can confuse a person."

"How do you know Ginny wasn't the one who started it?" Hermione said.

Ron raised an eyebrow. "Nah, she couldn't have," he said.

Hermione just grinned.

"Harry started it," Ron said.

Hermione stood up and walked toward the door.

"Didn't he?!" Ron asked, "Hermione!"

"Why don't you ask Harry?" Hermione suggested.

"I will then!" Ron said.

"Let's just go to breakfast," Hermione said.

"Harry started it," Ron said, standing up and following Hermione out the door.

"If you say so," Hermione said.

After breakfast, Ron, Hermione, Harry, Ginny, and Mr. Weasley used Floo Powder and arrived at the Ministry of Magic. Hermione was going with them for moral support. As Ron walked out of the soot, he gasped as he noticed how different the Ministry had looked.

The "Magic is Might" statue had been removed and was replaced with a new fountain that was currently being built. The Ministry looked a lot brighter. Words in large letters were plastered on message boards around the Atrium. One of the messages said "Muggle-born Registration" and for a minute Ron thought that that whole commission thing was still going on. But under the two large words, there was another message: "Apply for jobs at the Ministry of Magic. Most jobs are open!" Ron grinned. So Muggle-borns were being considered for more jobs. The Ministry had changed and Ron knew it was for the better.

"Blimey," he said loudly, looking around.

"Quite a change, isn't it, Ron?" Mr. Weasley said.

"Yeah," Ron said, "Definitely."

"Some things are still the same," Mr. Weasley said, "Still have to sign in with security. Come on, you lot."

Mr. Weasley led Ron and the group to the security desk, where Eric the security guard was sitting.

"Ah, Arthur!" Eric said, "Got the lot with you today?"

"Apparation tests, Eric," Mr. Weasley said.

”Of course,” Eric said, “Now, if you please…”

Ron, Hermione, Harry and Ginny all handed their wands over to Eric. A few moments later, he handed them back, then handed each of them a badge with the word “Guest” on each of them.

”Thank you, Eric,” Mr. Weasley said.

”Anytime, Arthur,” Eric said, “Good day to all of you.”

Ron and the others followed Mr. Weasley through the crowd of witches and wizards talking amongst each other n the Atrium, until they arrived at the lifts. They walked into one of the lifts which was nearly empty except for two other wizards.

”Ah, Arthur,” one of the wizards said, “Aren’t you supposed to be meeting the Muggle Prime Minister today?”

”Yes, I am, Lloyd,” Mr. Weasley said, “Just have to stop by the Apparation Test Center before I go.”

”Ah, yes,” Lloyd said, looking around at Ron and the others.

”How is it going with Augustus Rookwood?” Mr. Weasley asked.

”Oh, well, we believe he is going to cooperate with us,” Lloyd said, smiling. “We are trying to get him to tell us where the other Death Eaters are, but we believe that information may be blocked by the Fidelius Charm. We are trying to work our way around it.”

”Is that possible?” Ron asked.

Lloyd looked over at Ron.

”We hope so,” Lloyd said, smiling.

”Level two,” said a cool voice over the speaker, “Department of Magical Law Enforcement.”

”Ah, here is my stop,” Lloyd said, “Good day.”

The lifts opened and Lloyd walked out.

”Nice chap, that one,” Ron said, as the lifts clanged shut.

”He is an Auror,” Mr. Weasley said, “His specialty is interrogation.”

”So Augustus Rookwood may be the answer to the actual end of the war?” Harry asked.

”Well, if you ask most of the Ministry officials, the war is technically over,” Mr. Weasley said, “But the rest of us think that until every last one of the Death Eaters are off the streets, the war is still going on. But to answer your question, Harry, yes. The Aurors do believe Augustus Rookwood is the key to ending the war.”

”What do you believe, Dad?” Ron asked.

"Level six, Department of Magical Transport: Floo network, Apparation Test center," said the cool voice.

”I believe that this is our stop,” Mr. Weasley said, smiling. “Come on, you lot.”

Ron wanted to get his father to answer his question, but he thought better of it. They walked down the hall, and a minute later, they stopped at a door. The sign on the door said “Apparation Test Center – Head Examiner Wilkie Twycross”.

”This is where I leave you,” Mr. Weasley said, “I must meet with the Muggle Prime Minister. When you are done, just use the fireplace to return to the Burrow. Good luck.”

”Thanks, Dad,” Ron said.

Mr. Weasley gave a warm smile and walked back down the hall toward the lifts. Hermione opened the door to the room, and Ron, Harry and Ginny followed her in. The room that they walked into looked a bit cramped, even though there was only a couple people in there beside them. One of the people was the clerk sitting at the desk. The other person was sitting on one of the couches. She had long blonde hair and was reading the Quibbler.

”Luna!” Hermione said.

”Oh, hello!” Luna said, brightly, looking up from the Quibbler. “Taking your Apparation Tests as well?”

”I already took mine,” Hermione said, “But they are.”

”Those who just entered and are taking the Apparation test may sign up over here,” the clerk said, not looking up from the Daily Prophet she was reading.

Ron walked over to the desk with Harry and Ginny. Hermione continued to talk to Luna.

”Are you taking your test as well?” Hermione asked Luna.

”Oh, yes,” Luna said, nodding, “I am here on other business, and I heard that the Head Examiner would be in today, so I thought I would come up.”

”Other business?” Hermione asked.

”Haven’t you heard?” Luna replied, “Oh, you must have. It was in the Daily Prophet. Those who were sent to Azkaban and were innocent are being taken here to be reunited with their families.”

”Really?” Hermione said.

”Oh yes,” Luna said, “So I am meeting my father here at half-past-ten.”

”Wonderful!’ Hermione said.

”Yes, it is,” Luna said.

Ron finished signing up. A door, that Ron hadn’t seen, opened behind the clerk’s desk. An old man walked out, and Ron recognized him immediately.

”Luna Lovegood,” Wilkie Twycross said, “I am ready for you now.”

He looked over at Ron, Harry and Ginny.

”I will be with the three of you in a few minutes,” Wilkie said.

”Good luck, Luna!” Hermione said.

”Thanks,” Luna said, before walking with Wilkie back through the door.

Twenty minutes later, Luna reemerged from the doorway holding up a laminated card.

”Passed!” Luna said, happily.

”Well done!” Hermione said.

”Any pointers?” Ron asked. He wasn’t feeling very confident.

”I am afraid not,” Wilkie said, as he walked through the door, “You must take the test with the knowledge that you already know. Follow me, you lot.”

”Good luck,” Hermione said.

Ron, Harry and Ginny all followed Wilkie through the door. There was three desks in the room with about five feet of space between them.

”Are we supposed to apparate from desk to desk?” Ron asked, eyebrows raised.

”Patience, my good lad,” Wilkie said, “Patience. You will have a chance to apparate. But that comes in part two. Part one is the written exam.”

”Written exam?” Ron muttered, looking at Harry and Ginny, “But I didn’t take a written exam in Hogsmeade when I went for the test.”

”Times change,” Wilkie said, “Yes, a written exam. You must prove to me that you know the laws of Apparation. Without this knowledge, I cannot let you Apparate legally. Now, please take a seat.”

Ron, Harry and Ginny each took seats.

”All right,” Wilkie continued, “As, I said, this test will be taken in two parts. First is written. I hope you did your studying, because this test consists of ten questions. Some are multiple choice, but others are more complex. This will tell the Ministry if you know the regulations and rules when it comes to Apparation. Apparation is a very serious form of transportation, as you already know. Good luck. As with usual tests, all the usual precautions have been put into place, so to keep you from cheating. When you are finished, you may walk through that door, where I will be waiting."

Wilkie pointed to a door behind them.

”The first to bring me their test and pass with a minimal grade of ‘Acceptable’ will be able to continue,” Wilkie said, handing them quills, ink and parchment. “Good luck!”

Wilkie walked to the other side of the room and through the door. Ron looked at his parchment. Questions appeared out of nowhere. Ron read the first question.

"What are the 3 D's of Apparation?" Ron said, under his breath, "Well, at least I know one."

He wrote down the answer and went to the next question: What is Splinching, and how do you avoid it?

"How do you avoid it?" Ron asked himself, "Focus and determination, but that can't be it."

For the next fifteen minutes, Ron, continued to answer the questions on the test. Some of the questions had to do with rules, when and when not to use Apparation, but there were tough ones as well. Such as the history of Apparation, which Ron felt that he had failed miserably at. When Ron finished, he looked up. Harry and Ginny were gone. He was so immersed in his test that he hadn’t even noticed that they had gotten up.

Ron stood up and walked into the next room. Ginny was standing there. Harry or Wilkie weren’t there.

”Where is Harry?” Ron asked.

”You’ll see,” Ginny said, grinning, “Or at least I hope you will.”

Suddenly a CRACK was heard and Harry reappeared in front of Ron and Ginny. Another CRACK followed and Wilkie reappeared as well.

”Well done, Mr. Potter!” Wilkie exclaimed, “You passed!”

Wilkie handed Harry a card.

”Bring this to the clerk up front and she will hand you your Apparation license,” Wilkie said.

Ginny hugged Harry.

”Well done, mate,” Ron said.

”Thanks,” Harry said.

Harry then left.

”Miss Weasley,” Wilkie said, “it is your turn. But I don’t think I have ever given you a lesson before.”

”My father taught me, sir,” Ginny said.

”Really?” Wilkie said, “Arthur taught you? Well, he must have improved. It took him twice to pass his test.”

Ron and Ginny looked at each other in surprise.

”Let’s hope you have better luck, eh?!” Wilkie said, “Come, come!”

Ginny walked over to Wilkie, who muttered something to Ginny that Ron couldn’t hear. Ginny then closed her eyes.

”I will meet you there, Ginny,” Wilkie said, and disappeared with a CRACK!

Ron watched his sister silently. Suddenly she disappeared with a CRACK! Ron waited and hoped she had done it smoothly. A second thought came to him and he almost wanted her to fail. He, himself, hadn’t passed his test the first time. If Ginny passed, it would make her better at Apparation then him.

Suddenly another CRACK was heard followed by one more. Ginny and Wilkie reappeared. Wilkie looked at Ginny for a second, then smiled.

”Well done, Miss Weasley!” he said.

Ginny squealed with excitement. Wilkie handed her a card and she walked out of the room.

"Now, Mr. Weasley," Twycross said, "Let's see that test of yours."

"Oh, right," Ron said, standing up, and handing the parchment to Twycross.

Twycross took the piece of parchment from Ron and looked at it. He muttered, talking to himself, as he looked through Ron's answers.

"Well, Mr. Weasley," Twycross said.

"I failed, didn't I?" Ron said.

"Seven out of ten," Twycross said, "That qualifies as a pass! Let's move on to the practical part.”

Ron sighed. Seven out of ten? Well, it was a pass.

"Now," Twycross said, "This test will be to prove that you can Apparate. It will be a distance test. You will apparate from here to the Floo Network Office and back. These rooms have been designated as Apparation-Safe rooms. If you succeed, you will pass the test. I will meet you in the Floo Network to make sure you get there right. Good luck!"

Twycross disappeared with a CRACK!

Ron was left in the room alone. This made him very nervous.

"All right, Ron," he said to himself, "I am determined to pass this test. I know my destination. The Floo Network office. Come on, please do this."

Ron closed his eyes. A couple moments later, he felt his body pull in all directions. He could not breathe. Something inside him told him not to panic, that it was normal. Then...

"Outstanding work, Mr. Weasley!" a voice said.

Ron opened his eyes and took a deep breath. He looked around and saw Twycross.

"Hmm... everything seems to be in order," Twycross said, "Now you need to Apparate back."

Ron sighed. He closed his eyes and could barely hear Twycross saying good luck to him again. Suddenly he felt the familiar sensation of his lungs imploding. Then his ears popped, and he suddenly knew why there was a CRACK every time someone Apparated. He opened his eyes and recognized the room immediately, it was the room he had just left from.

CRACK! Twycross appeared next to him. He looked at Ron, and then smiled.

"Very well done, Mr. Weasley," he said, "You have passed."

”I-I did?!” Ron said.

”Yes, well done,” Wilkie said, “Here you go.”

Wilkie handed Ron the card. Ron left the room and went through the next room and into the office. Hermione, Harry and Ginny were all looking at him.

”I passed!” Ron said.

Hermione squealed with excitement.

”Way to go, mate!” Harry said.

”Ahem,” the clerk said.

”Oh, right,” Ron said.

He brought the card over to the clerk. The clerk looked at the card, then used her wand and turned it into a sheet of parchment. She gave the parchment to Ron.

”Ron Weasley,” she said, “This permits you to use Apparation legally. Congratulations.”

Ron thanked the clerk and everyone left the room and headed back to the lifts. Ron sighed deeply.

”I guess this means we are going to Australia on Saturday?” he asked Hermione.

”Of course,” Hermione said, “I would have gone if you didn’t pass.”

Ron smiled and sighed again. Everything turned out right. Ron just hoped everything in Australia would turn out right as well.

Another chapter done! Hope you liked it!

Feedback would be great!

August 28th, 2007, 5:47 pm
Chapter 5

Author’s Note: This chapter will remain in Ron’s POV. Enjoy

Ron and Hermione were up before dawn on Saturday morning, making their final preparations for the trip down to Australia. Hermione had explained to Ron that they would be Apparating into the rural parts outside of Sydney, Australia. Hermione had sent her parents there, because it was one of the cities that they hadn’t been to, and no one would know that they were the Grangers instead of Wendell and Monica Wilkins.

"And you have money for all of this?" Ron asked, while packing his things into the small purse-like bag that was magically expanded.

"I have told you this twice already, Ronald," Hermione said, "Yes. I had some Muggle and wizarding money saved up for something like this. When we arrive in Sydney, we will be looking for the Leaky Goblet."

"Sorry?" Ron chortled, looking up from his packing, "The Leaky Goblet?"

"It has affiliation with The Leaky Cauldron," said Hermione.

"Oh, and don’t tell me," Ron said, "It leads into a place similar to Diagon Alley."

"How did you know?" Hermione asked.

"You are serious," Ron said.

"I guess it lacks in creativity," Hermione said, grinning.

"Yeah, I guess," Ron said, "So do you know where your parents are."

Hermione didn’t look at him.

"Hermione?" Ron said, "Did you hear me?"

"It’s been a year, Ronald," Hermione said, "They could be anywhere by now."

"Anywhere?" Ron asked.

"Oh, I mean," Hermione said, "Anywhere in Sydney."

"Well, it shouldn’t be too hard finding them then," Ron said sarcastically.

"I didn’t say this was going to be easy, Ron," Hermione said.

"I know," Ron said, "I am sorry for saying that."

"It’s okay," Hermione said.

"So… continue," Ron said, "We will be looking for The Leaky Goblet…"

"Well, we have agreed to Apparate to the rural areas of Sydney around noon," Hermione said, "Right?"

"Correct," Ron said.

"Well, If we Apparate from here at noon," Hermione said, "It will be nine-o-clock in the evening in Sydney when we arrive. You know, because of the time-zones."

"Right," Ron said.

"So, we will look for The Leaky Goblet and get a room," Hermione said.

"Room?" Ron asked, "As in one?"

"Rooms are expensive in Sydney," Hermione said, "We will be lucky to even get one room at that time of night."

"And this will have two beds?" Ron asked.

"If it has one, we can manage," Hermione said, "Why are you worried?"

"I am not worried," Ron said, looking away from Hermione’s gaze.

"You don’t want to sleep in the same bed as me right now, do you?" Hermione asked, grinning.

"I never said that, did I?" Ron asked, his eyesight still away from her gaze.

"Good," Hermione said, "Then you will be fine with it. Moving on."

For nearly two hours, Ron and Hermione went over the notes in Hermione’s notebook, making sure that they had thought of everything. At one point, when Hermione was packing up the final things, Ron continued to look through the notebook. His eyesight found one page and stopped. The writing at the top said "Recreation and sight-seeing".

"Hermione?" Ron asked, looking up from the page.

"Hmm?" Hermione replied, looking through the things she was getting ready to pack.

"What is this?" Ron asked.

"What is what?" Hermione replied.

"This," Ron said, showing Hermione the page.

"Oh, well, I thought if we had some time, we could use it," Hermione said.

"Recreation and sight-seeing?" Ron asked.

"Ugh!" Hermione groaned, turning around and looking at Ron, "Okay. It has been a while since I have had a good vacation, and I really do need one! Therefore, while we are down there, I thought we could have a little fun. Is that okay?"

Ron sighed and felt like he was shrinking at Hermione’s gaze.

"I am okay with that," Ron said in a small voice.

"Good!" Hermione said.

Ron watched Hermione as she returned to doing some final preparations for the trip.

"Have you talked to your Mum about this?" Hermione asked.

"Of course I did," Ron said, "You don’t think I would just go to Australia without telling my Mum first?"

"I mean," Hermione said, "have you talked to her about this since then?"

Ron didn’t say anything.

"You are avoiding her, aren’t you?" Hermione asked, grinning.

"You know how she is," Ron said.

"She is probably downstairs making breakfast," Hermione said, "Get it over with."

"What?" Ron asked.

"Go," Hermione said, pointing to the door. "I will be fine. I will pack up. Go."

"Fine," Ron grumbled.

He wasn’t looking forward to this. He stood up and walked out of the room and down the stairs. When he went into the kitchen, he saw his mother working on breakfast.

”Good morning, Ron,” Mrs. Weasley said, without having to look at who had come down the stairs, “Have you finished your packing?”

”Yeah,” Ron said, “Hermione is just finishing up.”

”Have you and Hermione decided how long you will be gone?” Mrs. Weasley asked.

”Mum, I told you this already,” Ron said, sighing, “Hermione doesn’t know exactly where her parents are. Sydney is a big city. I mean, it is the capital of Australia, so of course it will be big.”

”I know that,” Mrs. Weasley said.

”No, Mum, we don’t know how long it will take,” Ron said.

”I would tell you to bring Pigwidgeon with you,” Mrs. Weasley said, “But he isn’t back from delivering Harry’s letter. I do hope he is okay. He has been gone a few days.”

”I am sure Pig is fine,” Ron said.

”What if you bring Errol?” Mrs. Weasley asked.

”Mum, that owl is almost on his deathbed,” Ron said, “The trip would kill him. Don’t worry. If I want to send you a letter, I can find a delivery owl down there.”

”All right,” Mrs. Weasley said.

”Are Harry and Ginny awake?” Ron asked.

”Yeah,” Mrs. Weasley said, “I think they are outside.”

As Ron walked toward the door, he heard his mother whisper “my baby boy is growing up.” Ron couldn’t help but roll his eyes as he walked out the door.

It didn’t take Ron long to find Harry and Ginny. They were sitting on the garden bench with their backs turned to Ron. Both looked as if they were glued to the other’s mouth. Ron walked over to them and cleared his throat as loud as he could. Harry and Ginny split apart and looked up at Ron; both were blushing.

”Oh, we thought you and Hermione had already left,” Harry said.

”I thought I told you already,” Ron said, “We are leaving around noon.”

”Oh… right,” Harry said.

”And how long are you going to be gone?” Ginny asked.

”No idea,” Ron said, “Could be two days, could be two weeks.”

”And Mum is fine with that?” Ginny asked.

”Well, I don’t think she is exactly happy,” Ron said, “But she is managing as well as she can.”

”Perfectly understandable,” Harry said, “You were away with me and Hermione for nearly a year. You were, for all she knew, in a considerable amount of danger. And now you are going to leave for a period of time and even you don’t know how long it will be. Of course she isn’t ‘exactly happy’. I mean who would be?”

”Are you trying to stop me going?” Ron asked.

”Not at all, mate,” Harry said, “Did I sound like that?”

”Actually, you did,” Ginny said. “I mean… kind of.”

”Oh,” Harry said, turning from Ginny to Ron, “Well, sorry, mate.”

”It’s okay,” Ron said.

A minute later, Hermione walked over to them, and they all talked until Mrs. Weasley announced that breakfast was ready.

At five minutes to noon, Ron and Hermione were standing in the yard in front of the Burrow, getting ready to go. Harry, Ginny and Mrs. Weasley were there to say goodbye.

”Your father said he was too busy to see you off, Ronald,” Mrs. Weasley said, “But he wishes you and Hermione the best of luck.”

Mrs. Weasley hugged Hermione then Ron. When Ron backed away, he noticed a tear was falling down his mother’s cheek.

”Be safe, you two,” Mrs. Weasley said.

”We will, Mum,” Ron said.

”We will be back before you know it,” Hermione said.

Hermione took Ron’s hand, and a couple moments and a goodbye from Mrs. Weasley later, Ron felt the familiar jolt he had inside his stomach when he Apparated. His ears popped and then he landed on solid ground. He opened his eyes and looked around. It was dark out, but not too dark. The light poles on the roadway were providing enough light for Ron to be able to see. Hermione was standing next to him.

”Is this the place?” Ron asked.

”Yeah,” Hermione said, pointing in front of her, “See, that is Sydney, Australia. Down the other way is smaller towns.”

”I expected more kangaroos,” Ron said, s******ing.

”They are in the outback, Ron,” Hermione said, “Miles from here.”

”Oh, right,” Ron said.

Hermione adjusted the digital watch on her hand, so that it was the local Sydney time.

”It is a couple minutes past nine in the evening,” she said, “We better get going if we want to get a room in The Leaky Goblet.”

Ron and Hermione walked toward Sydney. Thirty minutes later, they reached downtown Sydney.

”Couldn’t we… have taken… a taxi?” Ron asked, panting.

”Have you seen one, Ron?” Hermione asked.

”No,” Ron said, “Do you think there is a Knight Bus?”

”I really doubt it,” Hermione said.

Ron raised his wand hand. No sign of the large bus.

”I guess we will have to find a taxi,” Ron said.

”Right,” Hermione said, “ I am sure we can find one around here.”

Five minutes later, Hermione was able to signal a taxi. When they got into the taxi, the cabbie spoke up.

”Tourists, eh?” the cabbie said.

”Yeah,” Hermione said, “Do you take out-of-country money?”

”It is your lucky day, miss,” the cabbie said, “Because I do.”

”Good,” Hermione said, “Can you take us to George Street?”

”George Street is a pretty long street,” the cabbie said, “Anywhere in particular?”

”We will know it when we see it,” Hermione said.

”Suits me,” the cabbie said, and started the car.

Fifteen minutes later, the cabbie spoke up again.

”This is George Street,” he said, “Tell me when you would like me to stop.”

A couple of minutes later, Hermione spotted a building looking a bit like The Leaky Cauldron. Outside of the pub, the sign said “The Leaky Goblet.” Ron knew the cabbie couldn’t see the building.

”Right here, if you please,” Hermione said.

”Are you sure?” the cabbie asked, “This isn’t the nicest part of town.”

”We will be fine,” Ron said.

The taxi stopped and Hermione paid him. Ron and Hermione left the taxi, and it took off. When the taxi was out of sight, Ron and Hermione walked into The Leaky Goblet. The bar looked a bit cleaner than the Leaky Cauldron, but there weren’t as many visitors. There were four wizards sitting at the bar. The bartender was serving one a drink that looked a lot like a firewhiskey.

”That looks tasty,” Ron said.

”Ron, don’t even think about it,” Hermione said, “We are going to find a room and get everything sorted out, okay?”

”Fine,” Ron said.

Ron followed Hermione up to the bar.

”What can I do for you?” the bartender said.

”We would like a room,” Hermione said.

”You are lucky,” the bartender said, “Usually we don’t have any rooms, but this year hasn’t been much of a vacation year. What’ll it be? One or two beds.”

”Two beds if you got it,” Hermione said.

”Room five, first level right up the stairs,” the bartender said, “Five galleons a night.”

”We don’t know how long we will be staying,” Hermione said.

”That is okay,” the bartender said, “Just pay for tonight and tomorrow and see where it goes from there. I will cut the price down to seven galleons since part of it is for the night and not the whole day.”

Hermione agreed and paid the seven galleons.

The bartender led Ron and Hermione up to the room, opened the door and gave Hermione the key. The bartender left them and Ron and Hermione walked in. It was a rather small room, but it looked very comfortable. There were two beds, as well as a small kitchen and bathroom.

”You would think that magic could make these rooms bigger,” Ron said.

”It would cost more,” Hermione said, “This is a bargain. And it has two beds.”

”Oh, don’t tell me you weren’t hoping there was just a one bedroom room,” Ron said, rolling his eyes.

Hermione sighed, but Ron noticed a tinge of blush in her cheeks. It took only a short time to unpack and put the clothes away. They had taken wizarding clothes as well as Muggle clothes because they knew most of their adventure would take them into the Muggle part of Sydney.

Ron climbed into bed and was going to say good night to Hermione. But he noticed that Hermione was looking out the window into the city of Sydney. He knew what she was thinking about.

”We will find them, Hermione,” Ron said.

”I know,” Hermione said.

But Hermione was still looking out the window.

”Come here,” Ron said.

Hermione walked over to Ron’s bed and sat down on it. Ron hugged her, and Hermione started to cry into his shoulder.

”I just miss them, that is all,” Hermione said.

”I know,” Ron said, “But we will find them. You will get their memory restored, and everything will be fine.”

”It sounds simple when you say it,” Hermione said, looking up at Ron.

Ron wiped a tear from Hermione’s eye and then kissed her.

The next morning, Ron and Hermione went down into the pub portion of The Leaky Goblet and sat down at a table. They ordered breakfast. While they were waiting, two elder ladies sat down at the table behind them. They were speaking rather loudly, and Ron couldn’t help but overhear.

”I don’t know what I am going to eat, Shirley,” the first lady said, “This toothache is just so horrible.”

”Toothache, Agnes?” Shirley said.

”Yeah,” Agnes said, “It has been bugging me lately.”

”Well, then you should go to that couple sometime soon,” Shirley said, “They are both dentists and they do an outstanding job. Both Muggles too.”

”Muggles?” Agnes said, “No, no, dear. I want it done magically.”

”Oh, they are just as good as magic,” Shirley said, “Now what were their names. Oh yes, The Wilkins. Wendell and Monica, I believe.”

Ron looked at Hermione, whose mouth was open in an O.

”Excuse me?” Ron said, turning around, “Those dentists? You said the Wilkins?”

”Oh yes,” Shirley said, “Wonderful couple. Good dentists too.”

”Where do they work?” Ron asked.

”Oh, at the other end of this road,” Shirley said, “Near Town Hall. Oh, but they aren’t open today. Only on the weekdays.”

”Thanks,” Ron said. He turned back to Hermione. “Could it be that easy, you reckon?”

”I don’t know,” Hermione said, “I guess we will have to wait until tomorrow. Oh, I can’t eat now. I have to go back and read more about memory restoration.”

Hermione stood up and walked toward the stairs.

”I will bring you something!” Ron said, as Hermione disappeared up the stairs.

Ron sighed and looked out the window. This was going to be easier than he thought. He and Hermione would be able to find Hermione’s parents. And then they could go back to England! It almost seemed to good to be true.

Had to leave it at that. Bit of a cliffhanger there, and unfortunately you won’t know more about Ron and Hermione’s part of the story for a couple of chapters. Next chapter we return to Harry’s POV. Sorry! It is just how I planned it.

Also, I don’t know much about Australia or the dialogue, and I hope I didn’t offend anyone from Australia. I just wrote it how I thought it would do.

Hope you loved the chapter.

Feedback is welcomed!

August 30th, 2007, 5:30 pm
Chapter 6
A Date In Diagon Alley

Author’s Note: This chapter will be in Harry’s POV. Enjoy. Also, on another note, I would like to apologize for mistakes I did in the previous chapter. Sydney is NOT the capital, but is commonly thought of it being the capital. Just thought I would give you the heads-up about it.

Knock! Knock! Knock!

”Harry?” Ginny’s voice echoed from the other side of the bedroom door, “Are you awake?”

Harry blinked and opened his eyes, looking around the room. He felt for his glasses on the bed-side table and picked them up, then put them on.

”Yeah, Ginny,” he said, sitting up, “Come in.”

Ginny opened the door and walked into the room, then closed the door. Harry yawned and looked at the watch Mrs. Weasley had given him. It was seven-thirty in the morning.

”Any news from Ron and Hermione?” Harry asked.

”They haven’t been gone a day yet and you are asking about them?” Ginny asked.

”Just wondering,” Harry said.

”No,” Ginny said, sighing, “No news from them.”

”Why did you wake me up?” Harry asked.

”I was thinking,” Ginny said, sitting on the bed beside Harry. “We could spend the day in Diagon Alley.”

”Oh you thought that, did you?” Harry asked.

”Harry,” Ginny said, “I haven’t had any private time to spend with you. We have been cooped up in this house since we returned from Hogwarts. Voldemort is gone. We don’t need to hide anymore.”

”No, I guess not,” Harry said.

”I thought it would be nice if we spent the day in Diagon Alley,” Ginny said, “It could be a date.”

”Did you talk to your Mum about this?” Harry asked.

”I did,” Ginny said, “She said it would be okay.”

Harry looked at Ginny in the eyes to see if she was lying.

”She did say that, Harry,” Ginny said.

”Okay, okay,” Harry said.

”She also wants us to find out how George is doing,” Ginny said.

”Of course she does,” Harry said.

”Well, we haven’t heard from him since his fight with Percy,” Ginny said.

”You know good and well that he is probably moping away in that flat of his above the store,” Harry said.

”I know,” Ginny said. “That is what Mum is afraid of as well. The only good news is that she hasn’t received any letters from George’s employees. For all I know, he is bossing them around from his bed.”

”Well, then maybe it is a good idea that we find out how he is doing,” Harry said. “When do you want to go?”

”After breakfast,” Ginny said. “I was suggesting that we could go by Apparation, but Mum made a fuss about how good it would be if a Muggle saw me the first day I used my license. I already had to tell her off for wanting to go with us. We can’t get one moment of private time with her around, you know?”

”So that is what you want,” Harry said, grinning. “Private time.”

Ginny blushed. She leaned over to Harry and kissed him on the lips. Harry, in return, deepened the kiss.

”Ginny!” Mrs. Weasley said, her voice echoing from the bottom of the stairs, “Did you wake up Harry?”

Ginny backed away and sighed.

”Yes, Mum, I did!” she said.

”Are you in his room?” Mrs. Weasley said.

”No,” Ginny lied.

”Well, come down and help with breakfast!” Mrs. Weasley said.

” Okay,” Ginny said.

She turned to Harry.

“This is why I want some private time with you,” she whispered, “Because you can’t call this private!”

Harry grinned and Ginny got up and left the room. Harry removed his pajamas and changed into clothes that would be good for the hot summer day. He left the bedroom and walked down the stairs to the kitchen. Both Mrs. Weasley and Ginny were working on breakfast: pancakes and eggs.

“Please make sure to tell George that I want him over for dinner sometime,” Mrs. Weasley said to Ginny.

“If we see him today, then I will be sure to tell him,” Ginny said, in an annoyed tone.

“Oh, Harry, dear!” Mrs. Weasley said, turning away from the pancake batter she was working on. “Sleep well?”

“Well enough,” Harry said, “Has Pigwidgeon returned?”

“No, dear,” Mrs. Weasley said, “Not yet. But if he returns while you are away, I will give you the letter when you get home.”

“Great,” Harry said.

Harry sat down and sighed inaudibly. How far away were the Dursleys? Had they gotten into trouble. Were they even still alive? Harry shook himself inside. Of course they were alive. Pig is a little owl. He must just be having trouble. At least, he hoped that was true.


After breakfast, Harry and Ginny stood by the fireplace ready to go to the Leaky Cauldron via Floo Powder.

“Ginny, do me a favor and get me the things on this list,” Mrs. Weasley said, handing Ginny a piece of parchment and a pouch half-filled with wizarding money. “Oh, and it looks like we need more Floo Powder.”

Mrs. Weasley took her wand and tapped the parchment. “Floo Powder” appeared on the piece of parchment.

Harry took some Floo Powder and walked into the fireplace.

“Diagon Alley!” Harry said, dropping the powder into the fire.

Harry felt his body spin and stretch as the Floo Powder lifted him from the Burrow. A few moments later he landed on hard ground with a thud! Harry walked out of the fireplace and, after walking out of the plume of smoke and dust, immediately recognized the Leaky Cauldron. It was fairly-packed, even though it was only in the early hours of the morning.

A minute later, Ginny arrived, causing another plume of smoke and dust to escape the fireplace.

“H-Harry?” Ginny spluttered, choking on the dust.

“Over here,” Harry said.

“Good,” Ginny said, spotting Harry.

“Mr. Potter!” said the familiar voice of Tom, the bartender, “And Miss Weasley as well. How are you doing this fine day?”

“Good morning, Tom,” Harry said, as he and Ginny walked over to the bar.

“Can I get you anything?” Tom asked.

“No, not right now,” Harry said, “We are going to go to Diagon Alley.”

“If you see George,” Tom said, “Tell him ‘hi’ for me.”

“George?” Ginny asked, “Is he here?”

“I believe so,” Tom said, “He’s been quite busy these past few days, though. Haven’t seen him much.”

“Really?” Ginny asked.

“Oh yeah,” Tom said, “But I will let you find out. Good day.”

“Thanks, Tom,” Harry said.

He and Ginny walked outside toward the brick wall that split the Leaky Cauldron from Diagon Alley. He tapped the wall in the correct order and the wall formed into a large archway. Harry immediately grinned at the sight before his eyes. Diagon Alley had changed for the better. As he and Ginny walked along the street, they had to walk slowly so as to not bump into others. The place was very crowded today. As Harry looked around, he noticed that most of the stores were open. Many of them had cheerful-looking window displays.

There was only one thing that was keeping the place from being perfectly cheery. There were pictures, of Death Eaters who were still free, plastered on windows. Harry recognized a few: Mulciber, Dolohov and Avery. These were the lucky few who had escaped the Aurors and had been on the run ever since the fall of Voldemort. Harry just hoped their luck would run out soon.

”So what do you want to do?” Ginny asked Harry.

”Maybe we should get those things on your Mum’s list,” Harry suggested.

”Nah, that can wait,” Ginny said, waving her hand dismissively, “We could go to George’s store.”

”You really think it is open?” Harry asked.

”Didn’t you hear what Tom said?” Ginny replied, “It must be open. Come on, let’s go.”

As Harry followed Ginny down the cobbled pavement of Diagon Alley, they passed Gringotts. Harry was reminded of when he, Ron and Hermione had broken into Gringotts in order to find a Horcrux and destroy it. The only remnants of that day was the hole in the roof of Gringotts that the dragon had busted through with Harry, Ron and Hermione on top of it. Harry walked quickly past the bank, afraid of what the goblins might do if they spotted him. He knew he had broke into Gringotts for the greater good, but he wasn’t sure if the goblins would agree.

Five minutes later they reached Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes. Harry was mildly surprised to see that the store was still the cheeriest store in Diagon Alley. He had thoughts that George might have toned the store down after Fred’s death. But that was not the case. Harry followed Ginny into the store. A crowd of witches and wizards were making their way from each item to the next.

Ginny nudged Harry in the arm. Harry looked at her, and she nodded to the back of the store. Harry thought she might have been nodding to George, but he wasn’t there. Instead, Harry saw what Ginny was looking at. A large picture of Fred hung on the wall behind the counter. The writing below it said “All items sold in the memory of Fred Weasley.” Harry heard a noise beside him and he knew Ginny was stifling a sob.

”Harry! Ginny!” a voice called.

Harry looked for the owner of the voice, and found it immediately. Lee Jordan was walking over to them.

”Hey, Lee!” Harry said, “How are you doing?”

”Wonderful,” Lee said.

”Lee, where is George?” Ginny said.

”Upstairs,” Lee said, nodding to the stairs near the picture of Fred.

”How is he?” Ginny asked.

”Pretty well,” Lee said, “You can go up if you want.”

”Thanks,” Ginny said.

Harry followed Ginny toward the back of the store and they both walked up the stairs. Ginny tapped her knuckles on the door.

”If we are out of something,” George’s voice said, “There is more stuff in the basement!”

”George, it’s Ginny and Harry,” Ginny said.

”Oh,” George said, “Come in then.”

The door unlocked itself from the other side and opened. Harry and Ginny walked in. George was sitting in a chair behind a desk.

”George, what are you doing?” Ginny asked, “Aren’t you supposed to be downstairs?”

”Me?” George said, “Nah… I got Lee and Verity to do that for me. Come in and have a seat. Oh, and close the door, please.”

Harry shut the door behind him and followed Ginny toward the loveseat near George’s desk. They both sat down.

”So you don’t work downstairs?” Ginny asked.

”I just told you,” George said, “No, I don’t. I only go down if I am needed. I got enough work up here as it is.”

George stood up and walked over to the mini-fridge on the wall behind his desk. He opened it, took out three bottles of butterbeer, and shut the fridge. He walked to Harry and Ginny and gave them each a bottle, then sat back at the desk.

”What are you doing, anyway?” Harry asked, opening up his bottle.

”Nothing illegal, I hope,” Ginny said, “Cause you know what Mum would say…”

”Of course it is not illegal!” George said.

He sighed deeply and opened his bottle of butterbeer and took a swig. He wiped his mouth and looked at Harry and Ginny.

”If I tell you, will you promise not to tell anyone?” he said, “Only Lee and I know.”

”Fine, we promise,” Ginny said, “What are you doing?”

”Opening up a chain of stores,” George said, grinning, “I am buying out Zonko’s and every other joke shop from here to the United States. Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes is going to be world-famous.”

George’s grin disappeared from his face as he looked down at his desk.

”It is what he wanted to do,” he said, glumly.

”Who?” Ginny asked, “Fred?”

”Yeah,” George said.

”And Lee is helping you with this?” Harry asked.

”A little bit,” George said, “He is talking about starting his own radio show.”

”Like Potterwatch?” Harry asked.

”You did listen to that,” George said, “Didn’t you? We knew you did.”

”Yeah, it was really nice,” Harry said.

”Anyway,” George said, “Yes, Lee wants to start a radio show that will be available for all wizards, witches and squibs across England. If it is successful, he will branch it out across Europe and then who knows where from there. Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes will be his main sponsor.”

”So that is what you been doing?” Ginny asked, “Planning for take over of the joke shop business? And Mum thought you locked yourself up here and didn’t come down at all.”

”I’ve just been very busy,” George said.

”She wants you over for dinner,” Ginny said, “Can you come sometime?”

”I will try to fit it into my schedule,” George said. “Well, I am sure you didn’t come here just to talk to me. You two are on a date, aren’t you?”

”It’s what Ginny calls it,” Harry said, grinning.

”I knew you were together,” George said, “Ha! Lee owes me ten galleons. Well congratulations, you two. I wish you the best.”

George stood up and led Harry and Ginny back toward the door.

”I will talk to you soon,” he said, opening the door.

”Thanks, George,” Ginny said, hugging him.

Harry shook George’s hand, and then followed Ginny down the stairs.

Ten minutes later, after deciding where to go next, Harry and Ginny ended up in the Quality Quidditch Supplies store. At the first glance of the broomsticks, Harry felt a pang in his stomach. He had almost forgotten.

”Blimey,” Harry said, “I need a new broomstick.”

”What is wrong with your Firebolt?” Ginny asked.

Harry told Ginny what happened to the Firebolt.

”Why didn’t you tell me that sooner?” Ginny asked, “You really need to tell me everything about what happened when you were away.”

”Maybe at lunch,” Harry said.

He really didn’t feel like telling her the story of his travels, but he knew he would have to.

”Well, let’s get you a new broomstick,” Ginny said, “I need to get a few things too. I have outgrown my other Quidditch wear. I need new ones if I am going to play on the team this year.”

”I wish I could watch that,” Harry said.

”You could always go back to Hogwarts, Harry,” Ginny said, “You do still have your N.E.W.Ts to take. Wouldn’t that be great? We would be in the same year.”

Harry grinned. It hadn’t come to him before. He did need to return to Hogwarts for his last year of education. Would Professor McGonagall let him? Would Hermione and Ron want to go too? Well, of course Hermione would. But what would Ron say to the idea?

”Harry?” Ginny said, “Did you hear me?”

”Hmm?” Harry said, snapping out of his thoughts, “Oh, yeah. It would be great.”

”What kind of broomstick do you want?” Ginny asked.

”A Comet 720,” Harry said, looking at the sign that said “The newest broomstick on the shelves!”

”I don’t know,” Ginny said, “I heard it had some flaws.”

”It’s fine for me,” Harry said.

Ginny bought some new Quidditch wear, and Harry bought the Comet 720. They left the store and went and finished shopping. After completing Mrs. Weasley’s list, they went back to the Leaky Cauldron. After buying lunch, they sat down at a table, where Ginny insisted that Harry told her about his trip.

It took twenty minutes for him to sum up everything that had happened to him, Ron and Hermione. He would only pause when Ginny would gasp or something.

”I wish I could have gone with you,” Ginny said, sighing and looking down at her steak-and-kidney pie.

”I would have been too worried about you, Ginny,” Harry said, “I couldn’t have concentrated. It was difficult enough to concentrate when I was thinking about the danger you could have been in. Ginny…”

Harry stopped. Ginny had tears running down her cheeks.

”Ginny, it is okay now,” Harry said. “I am here.”

”I know,” Ginny said, wiping away the tears from her face. “I just worried about you so much. I always feared that you were dead. They were looking for you.”

”Well, I am not dead,” Harry said, “I am not. I am here with you. I am not going anywhere.”

Ginny smiled.

”I know that now,” she said

After lunch, Harry magically transported the things back to the Burrow. Both Harry and Ginny returned to the Burrow via Floo Powder. When they walked into the kitchen, Mrs. Weasley was there.

”Oh, hello dears!” she said, “Pigwidgeon returned, Harry.”

She handed the letter to Harry, who read it.

Harry Potter,

Thanks for writing! Your relatives are safe and sound back in their lovely home in Little Whinging. It was an honor to watch over them. They were a bit uncomfortable to begin, but the arrangements turned out well. They were happy to return home. They do want to know how you are doing, believe it or not.

Hestia Jones

Harry looked up.

”Well, it looks as I need to make a trip to Little Whinging sometime soon,” he said.

”How are the Dursleys?” Mrs. Weasley asked.

”Hestia said they were doing well,” Harry said.

”Wonderful!” Mrs. Weasley said.

Harry grinned. His was happy to know that the Dursleys were well. He didn’t know what made him want it, but he did want to visit them. It was like completing a part of his life. If he did not do it, a piece of him would not be whole.

Another chapter done! Next chapter, the story returns to Australia. Hope you liked this chapter. It turned out to be longer than I thought it would.

Feedback would be great!

September 4th, 2007, 4:44 pm
Chapter 7
The Parent Trap

Author’s Note: This chapter will be in Ron’s PoV. Enjoy. A little note: I am naming Hermione’s parents (their real names) Richard and Helen, cause I have always felt that would be there names for some reason. While under the memory charm, they will call each other Wendell and Monica. Just to let you know.

A sound at the door woke Ron abruptly on Monday morning. He quickly took his wand from the bedside table and pointed it at the door. Hermione walked in and gasped, then emitted an annoyed sigh.

"Ron, relax," she said, "It is just me."

"Sorry," Ron said, "Old habits. What were you doing anyway?"

"Paying for today," Hermione said, closing the door.

"How long do you want to stay here in Sydney?" Ron asked, sitting up and stretching.

"As long as it takes to restore my parents’ memory," Hermione said. "Why?"

"Well, I thought you wanted to do a little sight-seeing," Ron said.

"I am more concerned about my parents right now, Ronald," Hermione said.

"I know that," Ron said.

"But yeah," Hermione said, "After I restore my parents’ memory, then I do fancy some time to go sight-seeing."

Hermione walked over to the bathroom, walked in, and shut the door. Ron stood up and walked over to the dresser. He opened a drawer and took some Muggle-looking clothes out.

"I was thinking, Hermione," Ron said to the bathroom door.

"About what?" Hermione asked, her voice a bit muffled inside the bathroom.

"Don’t you think this seems too easy?" Ron replied, sitting back down on the bed.

"I don’t know what you mean," Hermione said.

"Well," Ron said, as he began to change into the other clothes, "Doesn’t it seem fishy that the information we needed was basically handed to us?"

"I guess so," Hermione said, "Maybe we were just lucky."

"Just lucky that we were seated next to a witch with a toothache?" Ron asked. "Besides, we didn’t know that your parents would be dentists down here as well. I thought they would have forgotten that bit."

The bathroom door opened and Hermione walked out.

"Ron," she said, "The only things that I needed my parents to forget were their identities, their address, and any knowledge about me. It was for their own safety, and for ours. You, Harry and me, I mean."

"So they know they were dentists?" Ron asked.

"Yes," Hermione said, sitting down on her bed, "They had to make everyone believe that they had come to Australia to live. If they were here just to have fun, my plan would never have worked. They had come from a war-torn England to Australia just for a vacation? Ron, the Muggles didn’t know there was a war going on. And it would have looked silly that their vacation was going to be for a whole year, or maybe more. Especially when they were well-qualified dentists."

"So they started a business down here," Ron said, "I understand. But there is one little flaw. What will happen when they return to London ?"

"Wendell and Monica Wilkins will disappear from the face of the earth," Hermione said, "And my parents will return to being Richard and Helen Granger."

"So no one will remember Wendell and Monica Wilkins?" Ron asked.

"I didn’t say my plan would go off without a hitch, Ronald," Hermione said. She bit her lip as if holding back something, then said, "In fact, I am not sure how much we can get away with when doing all of this."

"What do you mean?" Ron asked.

"The Australian Ministry of Magic doesn’t know anything about this," Hermione admitted.

Ron just raised an eyebrow, not understanding what Hermione had meant.

Hermione sighed. "What do you think the Australian Ministry of Magic would say if I had used their country as a hiding place for my Muggle parents?" she asked.

Ron shrugged.

"Exactly," Hermione said, "Especially since I did it without permission. This hadn’t even come to me until months after I sent my parents here with new identities."

"I am sure they wouldn't mind," Ron said, "They would probably understand."

"That is just it," Hermione said, "Would they?"

"I don't think we need to worry about that," Ron said.

This silenced Hermione, but Ron knew that she was still thinking about it.

"Hermione, we need to focus on getting your parents' memory restored," Ron said, "It takes a lot of concentration, I am sure."

Hermione nodded. "You are right," she said.

"Should we go now?" Ron asked, after finishing tying his shoe.

"Yeah," Hermione said, standing up.

They left their room and locked it, then walked down the stairs to the pub and left the building.

"So, I guess it is just at the end of this road?" Ron asked.

"That is what that witch said," Hermione said, "Come on."

"You don't want to call for a taxi?" Ron asked.

"It is just down the road, Ronald," Hermione said.
"It is a long road," Ron muttered.

Hermione hadn't heard him because she had started to walk down the sidewalk. Ron hurried up to her.

Twenty minutes later, Hermione pointed to a large wooden sign hanging above a doorway. The sign read: Wilkins Dentistry.
"This is the place!" Hermione said.

Ron put his hand on the doorknob, but Hermione just stood there. Ron looked at her questioningly.

"Are you all right?" he asked her.

Hermione nodded rather quickly. She then sighed and leaned against the brick wall. Ron took his hand off the doorknob and walked over to Hermione. He then put his arm around her.

"It will be all right," Ron said.

"What if this doesn't work?" Hermione asked, a tear swelling in her eye.

"Hermione, don't say that," Ron said. "We have come all this way. You are the smartest witch I will ever know. You can do this."

Hermione smiled and exhaled deeply.

"Let's go," she said.

Ron opened the door and he and Hermione walked in. There were two sets of stairs in front of them. One led downstairs and one led upstairs.

"This way," Hermione said, indicating an arrow that pointed down the stairs. Above the arrow were the words "To Dentistry."

Ron followed Hermione down the stairs. They arrived at an archway, and they walked through it into the reception area. Men, women and children were all sitting in chairs around the room. There was also the clerk's desk on the other side of the room. An elder woman was sitting there. Hermione and Ron walked over.

"Excuse me?" Hermione said to the clerk, "We are looking for the Wilkins."

"If you are wanting an appointment," the clerk said, "I am sorry. The list is full today."

"We aren't wanting an appointment, mam," Hermione said, "We are... er... friends of the Willkins."

"Do they know you are coming?" the clerk said, eyeing Ron and Hermione suspiciously.

"No, mam," Hermione said.

"Then you can leave a message with me," the clerk said, "If they get some free time, then I am sure they can talk to you. For now, as I said, they are very busy."

Ron sighed. What were they going to do?

"We can wait until they are finished for the day," Hermione said to the clerk.

"I will tell them you came," the clerk said.

"Thank you," Hermione said.

Hermione walked away from the clerk's desk and Ron followed her back out the door.

"What are we going to do now?" Ron asked.

"They close at five p.m.," Hermione said, "We have to wait till then."

"Well, you have been wanting to do some sight-seeing," Ron said.

"Exactly," Hermione said, "Though it might not be too much fun. I will be worrying too much. I wish we got to see them at least."

"They were busy," Ron said.

"Well, their personality hasn't changed," Hermione said, "They were busy a lot. Always dedicated to their work and their dentist parties. I guess that is why I spent a lot of time with you and Harry."

Hermione chuckled and blushed slightly, apparently embarrassed to have admitted such a thing. She looked at her watch, and Ron knew that she had hoped he hadn't seen her reaction.

"It's ten-thirty," Hermione said, "If we can make it back to the Leaky Goblet in time, we won't miss out on breakfast."

"I am pretty hungry," Ron said.

"Of course you are," Hermione said.

"What does that mean?!" Ron asked, putting his hands on his hips.

"Nothing," Hermione said, grinning.

"Uh-huh," Ron said.

"Come on," Hermione urged Ron.

Ron and Hermione walked back toward the Leaky Goblet.

Twenty minutes later, they reached the Leaky Goblet and found an empty booth near the window. A waiter came over and they ordered breakfast.

"I will be back in a sec," Hermione said, when the waiter left.

Hermione left the table, and walked up the stairs toward the first floor of rooms. A couple of minutes later, she returned with her notebook.

"What are you doing?" Ron asked, incredulously.

"Some last-minute things," Hermione said, sitting down and opening her notebook.

"Can't we just eat without having to do that?" Ron groaned.

"The food hasn't even come yet," Hermione said, rolling her eyes.

Ron sighed deeply.

"Look, Ron," Hermione said, "I have put a lot of thought into this. When we do this, it could get ugly."

"Ugly?" Ron asked.

"Something could go wrong," Hermione said, "We know this is true."

"Nothing is going to go wrong, Hermione," Ron said, "Do I need to keep telling you that?"

"Something could go wrong," Hermione repeated, "Look. I already thought of it. We might have to take precautions."

"What do you mean?" Ron asked.

"I really didn't want to do this," Hermione said, looking down at her notebook, "But we might have to stun my parents."

"What?!" Ron said, loudly.

A couple of people looked over at him.

"Sorry!" Ron muttered to them.

Hermione rolled her eyes. "Look, Ron," she said, "Right now, my parents don't know who we are. They could think we are burglars. Or worse. We are just going to be walking up to them and they are probably going to over-react."

"That is mental," Ron said.

"It is a risk we are going to have to take, Ronald," Hermione said.

"Your parents are probably going to over-react anyway when they find out what you have done," Ron said.

"Don't think I don't know that," Hermione said with a frown.

"Do you know what you are going to tell them?" Ron asked.

"Yeah," Hermione said, "I think so."

The food came over a couple of minutes later, and, although Ron had noticed Hermione looking at the notebook, she didn't open it. Ron grinned mentally. He knew she was ready.

It turned out that most of the sight-seeing Hermione wanted to do was in the magical communities of Sydney, Australia. Ron and Hermione spent nearly four hours in Octagon Alley, which Ron soon discovered that the market place was shaped like an Octagon. Like the rest of the wizarding world, Australia witches and wizards were big fans of Qudditch. There was a large Quidditch store which Ron especially admired. Nearly a quarter of the store was full of Chudley Cannon memorabilia. Apparently the owner was a big fan of the team. Hermione had to pull Ron away in order to get him out of the store. By the time they had left Octagon Alley, Ron still remembered the conversation he and Hermione had after leaving the Quidditch store:

"I would have loved to have that Cannons helmet," Ron whined.

"The price was outrageous, Ronald," Hermione said, "I am sure you can find one just like it in London."

"No you cannot," Ron said, "I have looked!"

"Well, it is too pricey," Hermione said, "So no!"

"You sound like my mother," Ron said.

At this remark, Hermione had hit Ron hard in the shoulder. It was still aching as they left the Leaky Goblet and returned into Muggle Sydney.

"What time is it?" Ron said.

"Nearly four-thirty," Hermione said, "We need to go down to the Dentistry if we want to find my parents. We might lose them in the crowd if we are not careful."

They walked to the other end of the street. It was ten minutes to five when they reached the building.

"It closes at five," Hermione said, "So we should just wait here."

However, at five-o-clock, the only person to come out of the building was the clerk they had talked to earlier. Before Ron or Hermione could say a word to her, she got into her car and drove away.

"Bugger!" Ron said, watching the Volkswagen bug drive down the road. "We could have asked her."

"They should come out soon," Hermione said.

They continued to wait. Though, at ten minutes after five, no one had come out of the building.

"They are this dedicated to their work?" Ron asked impatiently.

"They should have walked out," Hermione said, "You don't think something could have happened?"

"Maybe we should go in," Ron suggested.

Hermione agreed and Ron followed her into the building. Hermione walked down the stairs, but Ron didn't. Instead, he looked up the stairs. There was another door at the top of the stairs.

"Coming, Ron?" Hermione asked, turning around on one of the stairs.

"I just thought of something," Ron said, "What if that is their flat?"

"What?" Hermione asked.

"What if they live there?" Ron asked, pointing up the stairs. "It would explain why they didn't come outside."

"We can try," Hermione said.

Ron walked up the stairs, and Hermione followed him. Ron knocked on the door.


Suddenly, the door at the bottom of the other stairs opened.

"Howard is going to have to come back, Wendell," a voice said, "He will have to have another filler."

Hermione's eyes widened.

"That is them," she whispered to Ron.

Hermione walked down the stairs.

"Can I help you?" Helen said.

Hermione didn't say anything. Ron knew he would have to do something.

"Hello," he said, walking down the stairs and into view. "Um... we were hoping to make an appointment."

"We just closed," a male voice said.

Richard had walked through the door way.

"We know that," Ron said, "But, you see. My girlfriend has a really bad toothache. Our car broke down. We couldn't make it in time."

"I suppose we can set up an appointment," Helen said.

"Yes, of course," Richard said, "Come in."

Hermione sighed and she walked down the stairs. Ron followed her into the reception area.

”If you will stay out here, we will get the papers,” Richard said.

”Thank you,” Hermione said.

From the corner of his eye, Ron saw Hermione take her wand out of her pocket. Ron did the same. As soon as Hermione’s parents turned their back, Hermione pointed her wand at her father.

”Stupefy!” she said, causing her father to drop to the floor.

Ron mimicked Hermione, and a second later, Helen dropped to the floor.

”Oh, Mum, Dad, I am sorry,” Hermione said.

”Are you sure we had to do that?” Ron asked, looking down at Hermione’s unconscious parents.

”Yeah,” Hermione said, “I just hope they will forgive me.”

She pointed her wand at her father.

”Finite Obliviate,” she said.

She did the same to her mother, then woke them up with the reviving spell. A second later, her parents woke up.

”W-what happened?” Helen said, looking around.

”Did it work?” Ron muttered to Hermione.

Hermione didn’t say anything. Instead, she just stared at her parents.

Richard looked up at Hermione.

”Hermione?” he asked, “What is going on? Where are we? What did you do?”

”Well… er…” Hermione said.

”Mr. and Mrs. Granger,” Ron said, “I think you will want to sit down. We will get you some water then we will explain everything. Hermione?”

Hermione nodded, and walked with Ron through the door into the back rooms. They found the small break room and filled up two cups of water.

”Did it work?” Ron asked.

”I think so,” Hermione said, “They recognized me. They knew my name. Now time for the difficult part.”

”That wasn’t difficult?” Ron asked, sarcastically.

”Ron, be serious!” Hermione said.

”Sorry,” Ron muttered.

Hermione took a deep breath.

”Okay, here goes nothing,” she said.

Ron followed Hermione back to the reception area. Ron gave Mr. and Mrs. Granger their drinks.

”Mum, Dad,” Hermione said, “Right now, we are all in Sydney, Australia.”

”What?” Richard asked.

”For the past year,” Hermione said, “You have been living here as Wendell and Monica Wilkins. This was only done for your protection. I placed a Memory charm on the both of you.”

”You did what?” Helen asked.

”Young lady,” Richard said, in an attempted calm voice.

”If I didn’t, you could have been hurt or worse!” Hermione said before her parents could continue. “My friends and I were already in a lot of danger. I couldn’t let you get hurt.”

Ron was sure Hermione’s parents were going to yell.

”Did you do this because of Voldemort?” Richard asked.

”Yes,” Hermione said, nodding, “He is dead now. Ron and I came down here to bring you back home. I hope you can forgive me for doing this.”

Helen and Richard looked at each other. Helen then looked back at Hermione.

”We understand,” she said.

”We do?” Richard asked his wife.

”Yes, dear,” Helen said through gritted teeth. “We completely understood what was going on, because what you told us. But please… before you do this again, you need to tell us.”

”There wasn’t any time for that when I did it!” Hermione said.

Richard raised a hand to silence Hermione.

”We understand that,” he said.

”We don’t think it will have to happen again, sir,” Ron said.

”What is this place we are in?” Richard asked, looking around.

”Apparently you were dentists,” Hermione said.

”Of course,” Richard said, grinning.

”We won’t be leaving for London for a couple of days,” Hermione said, “During that time, we can make sure that no one remembers Wendell and Monica Willkins.”

”You can do that?” Helen asked.

”We can?” Ron asked Hermione.

”Yeah,” Hermione said, “It may be a little difficult. But yeah… we can. For now, we can get you a hotel here in Sydney. Then we can take you back to London.”

Ron sighed. This is what Hermione had been planning in her notebook. Well, Ron couldn’t blame her. She needed to make it look like this never went on. But how was it going to happen?

Soon after, they left the building and Hermione explained in more detail what was going on. She also told her parents that Ron and her were a couple. This, out of everything, pleased her parents the most.

Loong chapter.. didn’t think it would be this long. Hope you liked it.

I have a lot of things planned for the next few chapters. Big storyline coming up. Not sure how much Hermione and Ron are going to be in it. I have planned this upcoming storyline for a while now.

Feedback would be great!

September 6th, 2007, 5:29 pm
Chapter 8
The Inside Man

Author’s Note: This chapter will begin the storyline I thought of recently. In this storyline, there will be different Points-of-view than the normal ones. This chapter will be in Auror Dawlish’s POV. Hope you like the chapter…

Clouds covered the sky of Sevenoaks, Kent, England, making the already dark night even darker. Rain threatened the skies as the temperatures began to tumble. Window shutters on houses slapped open and closed as the light wind blew against them. People beckoned their pets inside to seek shelter from the incoming storm.

The only figure outside was a tall man, whose outline was a shadow against the darkness. He stood at the east end of Blackberry Avenue . The man’s name was John Dawlish, though anyone who knew him wouldn’t recognize him. He was disguised as a man named Augustus Rookwood. This was the first step in a plan that would hopefully bring an end to the war. As Dawlish walked on down the road, trying to conceal himself from wandering eyes, the plan repeated in his mind. A plan that he had formed with certain wizards, including the Minister of Magic…

Flashback begins:

Dawlish was alone in the lifts at the Ministry of Magic. He was in a hurry to the Auror Offices, and each second that passed seemed like an eternity. Eric, the security guard, had just informed Dawlish that Minister Shacklebolt had requested to speak to him. Dawlish didn’t know what to think. What could the Minister want? Dawlish had been having trouble with his work lately. Those criminals getting away from him, those incidents that he was involved in…. he was, indeed, a skillful Auror, but he did have his bad days.

”Dawlish, there you are!” a deep, booming voice said.

Dawlish looked up. The lift door had opened. Minister Shacklebolt was standing there. Dawlish walked out and shook the Minister’s hand.

”Walk with me, Dawlish,” Kingsley said.

Dawlish walked with Kingsley down the narrow hallway.

”Did Eric tell you that I was looking for you?” Kingsley asked.

”Yes, sir, he did,” Dawlish said. “But he didn’t tell me why.”

”No, I didn’t ask him to tell you,” Kingsley said, “It is a confidential matter.”

”It is?” Dawlish said.

”I am sure you know what is going on in the Auror’s office,” Kingsley said, looking at Dawlish. “Am I correct to believe this?”

”This business with the traitor Rookwood?” Dawlish asked.

”Traitor is such a harsh term,” Kingsley said, “Especially with the current circumstances.”

”So is this what you wanted to talk to me about?” Dawlish asked, beginning to feel braver now that he wasn’t about to get fired.

”Yes,” Kingsley said, “I am sure you have heard that there are plans to find the Death Eaters who are still out in the open.”

”Only rumors from other Aurors, sir,” Dawlish said.

”Well, let me get to the point,” Kingsley said, “Augustus Rookwood has begun to side with us. We feel that he is trying to prove his innocence, even though he is a known… well, there is no better word for it… a known traitor to the Ministry. He is stating the usual.”

”Oh, yes,” Dawlish said, grinning, “I know what you mean. ‘I was under Voldemort’s spell. Now that he is gone, I can think on my own.’ That kind of thing?”

”Precisely,” Kingsley said.

”They never learn,” Dawlish muttered, “I can’t tell you the number of convicted Death Eaters who said that when Voldemort first fell, only to return to his side the moment he returned.”

”Oh, I know,” Kingsley said. “But some of us believe that this might be the real deal. He might be the key to the end of the war.”

”Uh-huh,” Dawlish said, skeptically, “Well, I won’t like it until I see it.”

”Well, you might have a front row spot for it, Dawlish,” Kingsley said.

”Excuse me, sir?” Dawlish asked, stopping in his tracks.

”You will see,” Kingsley said, “Come with me.”

Dawlish reluctantly followed Kingsley into the Aurors office.

”Ah, Minister,” a woman at a desk said, as soon as the two walked in.

”Is everything ready?” Kingsley asked.

”Yes, sir,” the woman said, “Auror Lloyd Brownhouse and the prisoner are both in Interrogation Room B.”

”Thank you,” Kingsley said.

He walked in through the door on the other side of the room and Dawlish followed him. They walked past Interrogation Room A, and over to B. Through the one-sided window, Dawlish saw two figures in the room. One was standing watch over another; the latter sitting in a chair, his arms and legs magically strapped to it. Kingsley muttered a word, and the door unlocked. He and Dawlish walked into the room.

”I trust everything is well?” Kingsley asked Lloyd..

”Rookwood has kept silent,” Lloyd said, “Other than that, everything is swell.” Lloyd looked over at Dawlish. “Good morning, John. Did Kingsley explain everything?”

”Only parts,” Kingsley answered for Dawlish. “Nothing at all about our plan.”

”Plan?” Dawlish said, looking from Kingsley to Lloyd.

”Understandable,” Lloyd said, “Better to keep it away from prying ears.”

Lloyd smiled and looked at Dawlish.

”Yes, John,” he said, “A plan. A clever thought-out plan that, if done smoothly, could very well end the war. And you, my good friend, are going to be a big part of it.”

”I don’t understand,” Dawlish said.

”Yesterday, after hours of special interrogation,” Lloyd said, “Rookwood told me that there will be a meeting in the Sevenoaks district of Kent.”

”Let it slip, more like,” Rookwood muttered.

”Hold your tongue, traitor!” Dawlish growled at Rookwood.

He raised an arm to Rookwood, but Kingsley stopped him.

”That will not be necessary,” Kingsley said.

”You are lucky your Minister stopped you,” Rookwood said. “You wouldn’t want to be the reason this war goes on any longer than it must, would you?”

Dawlish didn’t answer. Rookwood just grinned, darkly.

”Let’s just move on, shall we?” Lloyd said.

”Yes, of course,” Kingsley said.

”As I said,” Lloyd pressed on, “There will be a meeting in the Sevenoaks district of Kent. It will be a special meeting. Open invitation for any Death Eaters. We believe that this is a rallying point to strengthen the Death Eaters. This is why we need you, John.”

”I don’t understand,” Dawlish said.

”You will be going to the house in Sevenoaks,” Lloyd said, “You will be disguised as Rookwood.”

Dawlish looked at Rookwood, who grinned.

”Now,” Lloyd said, “There is where it gets to be a problem. You will probably need a pass to get in. Something that only Death Eaters have.”

”The Dark Mark,” Dawlish said.

”Correct,” Lloyd said, “Now, Polyjuice Potion will allow you to have the Dark Mark on your arm. We don’t know if it will have the same effects. The magic surrounding it may not be the same.”

”I understand,” Dawlish said.

”Also,” Lloyd said, “We believe that the Death Eaters will have heard that Rookwood was brought into the Ministry. You must make them believe that Rookwood has been made an official here in the Ministry. They must think that Rookwood tricked us and now has a job. They will love to have an inside man. So, this is your task. You must go in and see who is in the house. Then you must listen and join in any conversation that will take place. Listen for clues on what will happen next. We need to know what they are planning. We believe this will be the first step in stopping them.”

”Yes, sir,” Dawlish said.

”Report back here after the meeting,” Lloyd said. “Make them believe that you, Rookwood in other words, have to report here so as not to be suspected of anything.”

”I understand,” Dawlish said.

Lloyd began to write something on a piece of paper.

”Here is the address,” he said, as he was writing. “Do not lose this. Do not let anyone see this.”

”Of course,” Dawlish said, taking the paper.

”Oh and John?” Lloyd said.

”Yes sir?” Dawlish asked

”Good luck,” Lloyd said.

”Thank you,” Dawlish said.

He left the room.

Flashback ends…

Dawlish walked down Blackberry Avenue until he arrived at number seven. The house looked like a normal house. The only thing that gave it away were the two men standing outside the door, standing like statues. They reminded Dawlish of the Queen’s Royal Guards. As Dawlish walked closer, he recognized the two men. He knew their faces from the wanted posters. They were Selwyn and Jugson, two of the Death Eaters who were on the loose. Dawlish was at the right place.

”Hold it,” Selwyn said, pointing his wand at Dawlish, “Stay right there!”

Dawlish stopped. He didn’t panic, but he was still alert. Did they see past his disguise?

”What is your name?” Selwyn said, walking closer to Dawlish.

”Rookwood,” Dawlish said, in Rookwood’s gruff voice. “Augustus Rookwood.”

“Rookwood, eh?” Selwyn said, smirking. “Hey Jugson, when was the last time you heard that name?”

”In the Daily Prophet,” Jugson said, grinning. “He had walked in to the Ministry, expecting to plea his innocence. That is what the Prophet says anyway.”

”Ah, yes,” Selwyn said, looking into Dawlish’s eyes. “Now I remember. What do you have to say about that?”

”I have to say,” Dawlish said, “That I am happy to have tricked those dolts.”

”What did you say?” Selwyn said.

”I tricked them,” Dawlish said, louder. “I told them I wanted to go back on their side. I wanted to work in the Ministry again. They believed it.”

”I don’t think so,” Jugson said, walking toward Dawlish.

Selwyn raised his hand to stop Jugson. He then moved the same hand to Dawlish’s left arm and raised the sleeve on the raincoat, revealing the Dark Mark. Selwyn smirked and looked up into Dawlish’s eyes.

”How did you find us?” he said.

”I heard it was an open invitation,” Dawlish said.

”And where did you hear that?” Jugson asked.

”It doesn’t matter,” Selwyn said, raising his hand again to stop Jugson. “The meeting will start soon. We must go in.” He paused and looked back at Dawlish. “We must all go in.”

Dawlish grinned and followed Selwyn into the house. Part one of the plan was complete.

As Dawlish followed Selwyn and Jugson through the house, he was very wary of his surroundings. One or two times, he thought he saw something out of the corner of his eye. Then, finally, on the third time, he actually did notice someone. A woman with long brown hair was in a corner of a room, dusting off something with a filthy rag.

”Who is that?” Dawlish asked, nodding at the woman.

”One of the owners of the house,” Selwyn said, “They are Muggles.”

The woman turned around and looked at Dawlish. Dawlish noticed that the woman’s eyes were glazed over.

”Under the Imperius Curse, I presume?” Dawlish asked.

”Of course,” Selwyn said.

”You said one of the owners?” Dawlish asked.

”I don’t like these questions, Selwyn!” Jugson said, turning on the spot.

”I need to ask questions, Jugson,” Dawlish said, “It gives me a reason to be trustworthy.”

”Completely understood, Rookwood,” Selwyn said, “Jugson, mind your own business.”

Jugson grunted and walked on.

”Yes, Rookwood,” Selwyn continued, “One of the owners. The other one is in the kitchen, preparing for our feast. They had a maid and a cook, but they wanted to defend themselves. We couldn’t have that.”

”So they are dead?” Dawlish asked.

”Of course,” Selwyn said, “We couldn’t have them escaping and telling the authorities that we were here.”

”No, of course not,” Dawlish said, “Where is this meeting taking place? We have been walking forever.”

”In here,” Selwyn nodded, turning into a room.

Dawlish walked in and looked around. Four other people were sitting at the table. Dawlish recognized them all from the wanted posters: Rowle, Avery, Yaxley, and Mulciber.

”Another one?” Rowle said, looking up. “Good, good!”

”Wait a second!” Avery said. “That is Rookwood!”

”Yes, I know that, Avery,” Selwyn said. “I am not blind.”

”He is known to have talked to the Ministry after the Dark Lord’s fall!” Avery said. “Why did you let him in?”

”Maybe because Selwyn knows how good an inside man can be,” Dawlish said.

”Inside man?” Avery said, “What is that supposed to mean?”

”It means that those fools at the Ministry believe I am on their side again!” Dawlish said. “Do you have a problem with that?”

”Now, now,” Yaxley said, raising his hand, “I didn’t arrange this meeting so that we can fight each other. I did it so we can get revenge on those who are the reason for the Dark Lord’s downfall!”

Dawlish looked at Yaxley. Apparently he was the leader of the Death Eaters now. Dawlish wondered if he had been elected or not.

”Rookwood, sit down,” Yaxley said, before looking at Selwyn and Jugson, “That goes for you two as well, unless you feel there are more people coming?”

”No,” Selwyn said, “This is all we got right now.”

”Seven of us?” Rowle asked, “Only seven!”

”Yes, Rowle,” Yaxley said, “Only seven of us. Do you have a problem with that?”

Rowle looked around at the others, then back at Yaxley.

”Well?” Yaxley said, louder.

”No,” Rowle said, in a defeated voice.

”Good,” Yaxley said, “Because if we are lucky, we will have more than seven soon.”

”So that is why this meeting was called?” Dawlish said.

”Yeah,” Yaxley said, “I think we need to get back in power. We were doing well in the Ministry, until the Dark Lord fell, then we retreated like a bunch of wimps! I am sick of that!”

A couple of the other Death Eaters said “Yeah!”

”You all came here tonight,” Yaxley said, “Because you wanted to make sure people still feared the name of Death Eater. Am I right?”

The Death Eaters around the table nodded.

”Good,” Yaxley said, smiling. “But we can’t do it with just seven people.”

”Right!” Mulciber said.

”Right,” Yaxley said, looking at Mulciber. “We need others. Suggestions?”

”What about Lucius?” Selwyn asked.

”Yes, what about Lucius,” Yaxley said, tapping his hand on the table. “Rookwood.”

”Yes?” Dawlish said.

”You are in the Ministry now,” Yaxley said, “What have you heard about Malfoy?”

”He and his wife are serving a one-year sentence in Azkaban,” Dawlish said, “And his brat went off to America. New York City, I think.”

”Little Draco Malfoy,” Yaxley sneered. “Probably went to get away from us.”

Some of the Death Eaters cackled.

”Scared to show his face after the fall of the Dark Lord,” Yaxley said. He looked up and grinned. “That’s it.”

”What is it?” Selwyn asked.

”Lucius Malfoy is serving a one-year sentence in Azkaban,” Yaxley said. “It was a plea bargain. He is wanting to get back on the Ministry’s good side. I say we bring him back.”

”Back?” Rowle asked.

”Back to our side,” Yaxley said.

”How?” Jugson asked. “He won’t do it.”

”We make him,” Yaxley said. “We kidnap his brat, then we free Lucius.”

”Sounds difficult,” Avery said. “I mean… sure. Getting the brat will be a piece of cake. But getting into Azkaban and taking Lucius out… not to mention getting out of there alive.”

”Yeah,” Rowle said, “And what about the publicity it will bring up. The attention. The Ministry will know that we are back in action.”

”They already do know,” Mulciber said, “Isn’t that right, Rookwood?”

”What?” Dawlish said.

”Oh, don’t tell me you haven’t seen the wanted posters!” Mulciber said. “Yes, I say we do this! We aren’t going to sit around and wait for the Aurors to knock down the door. We are going to fight back!”

”That’s the spirit,” Yaxley said. “Who knows? We might kill a few Aurors along the way. We might get more allies.”

”I am liking this more and more,” Selwyn said.

”Rookwood!” Yaxley said.

”Yes?” Dawlish asked.

“You are already under the Ministry’s suspicions,” Yaxley said, “I will guarantee that. You have to go back into the Ministry. Otherwise they will think that something is going on. The rest of us… let’s get this into order. We have a trip to America to plan!”

Dawlish stood up. As he did, a thought came to mind. He had to make sure everyone trusted him.

”What do you want me to do?” he asked Yaxley, “I mean… I am the inside man.”

”Find out what is happening in Azkaban,” Yaxley said. “If you can. Do not raise suspicions.”

”Of course,” Dawlish said.

He walked out of the room and out of the house. He had to get back to the Ministry and tell Kingsley. If there was a way to protect Draco Malfoy, it had to be done. This was the only way to keep the Death Eaters from continuing their plan.

Chapter done! Hope you liked it. Hope you weren’t too confused. If any of you were confused about this chapter, read it again. You will understand.

Next chapter goes away from this storyline for a bit. But it will come back.

Feedback would be great!

September 10th, 2007, 5:24 pm
Chapter 9
Chapter Not Titled Yet

Author’s Note: This is in Harry’s POV. Writing a story like this with more than one setting, it is hard to follow the days. This chapter takes place on Tuesday: two days after Harry and Ginny went to Diagon Alley, one day after Hermione finds her parents, and one day after the Death Eater meeting. Hope you enjoy it.

On Tuesday morning, Harry was sitting in his bedroom at the Burrow. He was waxing his new broomstick, the Comet 720, having nothing else better to do. It was only minutes after dawn, and he couldn’t sleep. He planned that today would be the day he would go to Little Whinging in Surrey . He wanted to let the Dursleys know that he was okay.

The day before, Ginny told him that she would like to go with him to visit the Dursleys. Harry accepted, only because he knew that Ginny didn’t want to stick around the Burrow where it would be boring.

At half past seven, Mrs. Weasley called everyone down for breakfast. When Harry arrived at the kitchen, Ginny and Mr. Weasley were already sitting there; Mr. Weasley was reading the Daily Prophet.

”Harry, good morning,” Mrs. Weasley said, “Sit down and have some breakfast. Arthur, will you put that down until we are done with breakfast?”

”Yes, dear,” Mr. Weasley said, folding the newspaper up and putting it on the table.

Harry took a glance at it. The headline of an article read “New security measures and more discussed at the meeting with the Hogwarts governors”.

”What was that about?” Harry asked, pointing at the headline.

”The Ministry isn’t taking any chances,” Mr. Weasley said, taking a quick glance at the headline. “It is no secret that there are Death Eaters still out there. Everyone in the Ministry knows it, and thanks to the Prophet, now the wizarding world probably knows it. So, the Ministry has to make sure that they reassure the parents of students that everything will be safe at Hogwarts.”

”What has Professor McGonagall said about this?” Ginny asked.

”She hasn’t said much,” Mr. Weasley said, “But from what I have heard, she may not choose to be the Headmistress this year at Hogwarts.”

”What?” Harry asked.

”That is the rumor,” Mr. Weasley said, “She is talking about choosing someone else to take her place. She will still be Deputy Headmistress, and remain the Transfiguration Professor.”

”What made her make that decision?” Harry asked.

”She’s not a young woman, Harry,” Mr. Weasley said, “Frankly, she wants someone much younger to take the place as the Headmaster of the school.”

”Which means that might bring in someone new?” Harry asked, “Someone who doesn’t know Hogwarts. That doesn’t make sense at all.”

”No, it doesn’t,” Mr. Weasley said, “But time will tell. Why are you asking this? Are you interested in returning to Hogwarts?”

”I’ve been thinking about it,” Harry said, truthfully, “I mean… I want to become an Auror. I need to pass my N.E.W.Ts if I want that, right?”

”Right,” Mr. Weasley said.

”Have you talked to Ron and Hermione about this?” Mrs. Weasley asked. “I mean… I would like Ron to go back to finish his education. I don’t speak for Hermione, but…”

”She would probably go anyway,” Ginny said.

”I only talked to Ginny about this,” Harry said, “We haven’t heard from Ron or Hermione since they left.”

”I know,” Mrs. Weasley said, “I am beginning to worry about – -“

The rest of the sentence was interrupted by a SMACK on the window. Everyone gasped and Mrs. Weasley turned around in a hurry.

”Was that Errol?” Ginny asked, standing up.

”No,” Mrs. Weasley said, looking out the window. “He is resting in the barn. I haven’t sent him on an errand in a while.”

Suddenly a barn owl flew up onto the windowsill. It looked very tired. Mrs. Weasley took the letter from the owl and looked at the front of it.

”I think it is from Hermione and Ron,” she said, handing the letter to Harry.

”Yeah,” Harry said, looking at the letter, “That is Hermione’s handwriting.”

”That owl flew all the way from Australia?” Ginny asked.

”I doubt it,” Mr. Weasley said. “They usually have different owls take the letters. But I bet this one came from a long way out. It is exhausted.”

”We’ll let it stay for the day and let it go tomorrow,” Mrs. Weasley said.

Harry opened the letter and read it aloud.

”Dear Harry,” he read, “Just wanted to update you on our adventure. We found my parents on Monday, and restored their memories. We will be back sometime on Wednesday. We are coming back to London on that day and taking my parents back home. See you then! Hope you are well. Hermione. P.S. Ron says hi!”

”Well, that is a relief,” Mrs. Weasley said, dishing out scrambled eggs and sausage onto everyone’s plates.

At half-past eleven, Harry and Ginny apparated to the park near Privet Drive in Little Whinging. Ginny, having no previous knowledge of where Privet Drive was, was accompanying Harry using side-along Apparation. Thanks to the nearly-unbearably hot weather, no one was playing on the playground. This reassured Harry that he or Ginny weren’t seen just appearing behind a bush at the back of the playground.

”This was the closest I could get us,” Harry told Ginny. “My relatives live just down the street.”

”Fine with me,” Ginny said. “I don’t think it can get any hotter around here.”

”That is common for a Surrey summer,” Harry said, helping Ginny out of the bush.

”Will your relatives mind us just coming up uninvited?” Ginny asked.

”Probably,” Harry said, “But that is just how they are. Come on.”

Harry and Ginny walked down the street toward Number 4 Privet Drive. As they walked up to the house, Harry wasn’t surprised to see that, even with the absence of the family, the lawn in front of the house was looking like it always did: green and fresh. Uncle Vernon must have done a lot when he returned, Harry thought, either that or he paid someone to keep it clean.

Harry and Ginny walked toward the door. Through the open living room window, Harry heard the voice of a newscaster on the television.

”It has been hot these past few days,” the newscaster said, “Wish we could have some more of that fog that we had earlier this year! At least that brought in some cool air! How’s it look, Ruth?”

”Well, I don’t think we will see any cool air very soon, Bill,” Ruth, the weatherman said, “It will be hot, hot, hot!”

”Er, it sounds like they have guests,” Ginny said.

”No, that is the television,” Harry said, chortling.

”The what?” Ginny asked.

”I will explain later,” Harry said, knocking on the door.

”Dudley, get that, will you?!” said Vernon’s voice inside the living room.

The front door opened, and Dudley was standing there.

”Harry!” Dudley said, surprised, “What are you doing here?”

”Thought I would come by and visit,” Harry said.

Ginny nudged Harry on the side.

”Oh, yes,” Harry said, “Dudley, this is my girlfriend, Ginny.”

”Pleased to meet you,” Dudley said, “Come on in.”

Harry and Ginny walked inside, and Dudley closed the door.

” Dudley, who was it?” Vernon called, “Was it that ruddy magazine salesman?!”

”No, Dad,” Dudley said as he led Harry and Ginny into the living room, “Harry came to visit.”

”Harry?” Vernon said, turning around.

”Hi, Uncle Vernon,” Harry said.

”What are you doing here?” Vernon asked Harry, “You have to go into hiding again?”

”No, no,” Harry said, “Nothing like that. We just came to visit. This is Ginny.”

”Oh,” Vernon said, looking from Harry to Ginny, “Well… er… nice to meet you.”

”Vernon?” Petunia said, as she walked into the room, “Who was that at the - -“

She finally noticed Harry and Ginny.

”Oh, hello,” she said.

”Harry came to visit, Mum,” Dudley said.

”Oh,” Petunia said.

Harry wasn’t too sure if Petunia was happy or not. Petunia walked over to the couch and fluffed up the pillows.

”Well, you can sit down if-if you want,” she said.

”That would be nice,” Ginny said.

”I will get you some drinks,” Petunia said, “I just made tea.”

”Great,” Harry said.

Ginny said down.

”I will be back,” Harry whispered to Ginny, “I am going to talk to her.”

Ginny nodded. Harry walked into the kitchen.

”Oh, I didn’t need help,” Petunia said, seeing Harry walk in.

”It is no trouble,” Harry said. “Um… actually, I wanted to talk to you.”

”Oh?” Petunia said.

”Yeah,” Harry said, “Do you remember what happened the last time we saw each other?”

”Vividly,” Petunia said.

Harry wasn’t sure if she was telling the truth or not, so he plowed on.

”Before you walked out the door,” Harry said, “You were going to say something to me. Do you remember what it was?”

”Not really,” Petunia said, opening the refrigerator door. “Harry, what is this about?”

”Do you remember a man named Severus Snape?” Harry asked.

Petunia stopped what she was doing and looked up at Harry. She closed the door without getting anything out of the fridge.

”What do you want to know about him?” Petunia asked.

”I don’t want to know anything,” Harry said, “I know a lot already.”

”What do you mean?” Petunia asked.

”I know that you and my mother knew him when you were kids,” Harry said, “I know that my mother was his friend. You didn’t like that… did you?”

”That was nearly twenty-eight years ago, Harry,” Petunia said, “You can’t expect me to remember all that.”

”I know why you hate magic, Aunt Petunia,” Harry said.

”Yeah, because I told you why,” Petunia said.

”No,” Harry said, “You lied to me. You said you hated it because Lily was a witch. Tell me this… would your opinion of magic change if you were accepted into Hogwarts?”

”How do you know that?” Petunia said, slowly, all the color flushing from her face.

”Magic,” Harry said, grinning. “You still haven’t answered me. You were jealous of Lily, weren’t you? All those times when Lily was doing magic in front of you. You asked her to stop, but you were only jealous that she was doing it.”

”Stop!” Petunia said, a tear coming to her eye. “You don’t know the half of it.”

”Yes, I do,” Harry said.

”How do you know all this?!” Petunia demanded.

”I told you,” Harry said, “Magic. I was able to look into Severus Snape’s memories. His last dying wish was for me to see his memories. The memories of him and Lily.”

”He’s dead?” Petunia asked.

”Yes,” Harry said.

Petunia sighed and looked out the window.

”I loved my sister, Harry,” she said, turning around. “Every time I look at you, I am reminded of her. It hurts sometimes, Harry. I do know what I was going to say that day we last talked to each other. I will say it now. I never told you this, but you have your mother’s eyes.”

”You are not the only person to say that to me,” Harry said.

”Well, it is the truth, Harry,” Petunia said.

”Petunia!” Vernon said, “Where is that tea? What’s the hold up?”

Petunia looked up from Harry, as if she had forgotten about everything else.

”Go on,” Petunia said to Harry, “I will get the tea.”

Harry smiled and walked out of the kitchen, and back into the living room. Ginny, Dudley and Vernon were watching a soccer game.

”Look at this, Harry!” Ginny said, “What kind of sport is this? They are all on the ground, and there is only one ball!”

”Of course they are on the ground!” Vernon said, in an uproar, “Where would they be? In the sky?!”

”Don’t answer that, Ginny,” Harry said, quickly, “I will explain it later.”

He walked over to the couch between Dudley and Ginny.

”So what have you been doing, Dudley?” Harry said, “I imagine being locked up in that safe-house was kind of boring.”

Vernon mumbled something, which made Harry look at him. Dudley sighed and shook his head.

”Don’t mind Dad,” he said, “He hasn’t gotten over being at the house. But I had a great time. Caught up on my reading. I was able to exercise on the treadmill. Yeah, things were great. And I am going to be headed to community college in September.”

Harry noticed that Vernon was trying to concentrate on the television.

”Dad wanted me to go to Oxford,” Dudley said, looking back at his father, “But I declined. I didn’t like the thought of it.”

Petunia walked into the living room with a tray full of glasses of tea.

”Surrey Community College is a fine place,” she said, “I know people who went there. They had fine futures.”

”Where are you going, boy?” Vernon asked Harry.

”Er… I have to finish my education at Hog… at my school,” Harry said. “Then… er…”

”We don’t have further education after that,” Ginny said, “Unless you count job training.”

”No further education?” Vernon asked, “Rubbish.”

”If they train in jobs,” Petunia said, “I think that is good enough, Vernon.”

”Yeah,” Harry said, “I know the Ministry has good training.”

Vernon muttered something, but Harry knew that he was trying to keep it to himself.

”Oh,” Petunia said, standing up, “Harry, I have something for you. I couldn’t give it to you last year, cause of the situation. Let me go get it.”

Petunia left the living room. Vernon looked up at the spot where Petunia had just been. He looked as if he didn’t even know what Petunia had in mind. Petunia returned a minute later with a shoebox.

”Now, don’t open it here,” Petunia said, handing the box to Harry, “I want you to wait until you leave. Lily mailed me this a month or so before she died. I only looked at the letter she wrote me. The rest is inside. I do not know the contents.”

Harry’s mouth went dry. There was something from his mother in the house the whole time?

”I didn’t know this was in our house,” Vernon said.

”It was hidden under the loose board on the stairs,” Petunia said. “I didn’t know what to do with it. Then a couple months ago, I remembered it.”

”Well, it is good that it will be gone,” Vernon muttered, eyeing the shoebox.

”Thanks, Aunt Petunia,” Harry said, “Well… I think we can get going. I just wanted to know how you were doing, and let you know that I was okay.”

”It was nice to see you, Harry,” Petunia said.

”Yeah, it was,” Dudley said.

”Vernon?” Petunia asked, looking at her husband.

”Oh… yeah, bye,” Vernon said, his eyes staying on the television. “Thanks for coming.”

Petunia sighed. When Harry stood up, Petunia hugged him. Harry was surprised at this.

”We will see you again?” Dudley asked.

”Yeah,” Harry said, “Count on it.”

”Bye then,” Dudley said, “Nice to meet you Ginny.”

”Same,” Ginny said.

Harry and Ginny walked out of the house.

”They were nice,” Ginny said.

”Yeah,” Harry said, “Sorry about Uncle Vernon.”

”It is okay,” Ginny said, “He could give Aunt Muriel a run for her Galleons. Imagine her having a conversation with him.”

Harry laughed. Ginny laughed too.

”What do you think is in the box?” she asked.

”I don’t know,” Harry said, looking at the shoebox. “I can wait until we get back to the Burrow. Come on.”

Harry and Ginny walked to the playground and over to the spot behind the bush. When Harry gave the all clear, he and Ginny apparated back to the Burrow.

When they walked inside, Mrs. Weasley was waiting on the couch.

”Oh, good, you are back!” Mrs. Weasley said.

”Yeah,” Harry said.

”There is someone in the kitchen wanting to speak to you,” Mrs. Weasley said.

”Ron and Hermione are back already?” Harry asked.

”No,” Mrs. Weasley said, “Not yet.”

”Actually,” a voice said, “I was the one wanting to talk to you.”

Harry turned around. Kingsley was standing there.

”Minister?” Harry asked.

”Come into the kitchen, please,” Kingsley said.

Harry nodded and followed Kingsley into the kitchen. No one else went with them.

Yep! I am ending the chapter there! Next chapter will be in a different POV. You won’t know the details of the conversation for a couple of chapters!

Hope you liked the chapter!

Feedback would be great!

September 13th, 2007, 5:00 pm
Chapter 10
The Rookie

Author’s Note: This is in Draco Malfoy’s POV.

“Hey, Rookie!” a muffled voice said, “Get up! You slept in again!”

Draco Malfoy opened his eyes, and shielded them against the bright sunshine peering in through the window.

“W-what?” he said, sitting up.

He wiped the sleep from his eyes, and looked around.

“It is nearly eight-o-clock!” the voice said. It was coming from the other side of the door. “You will be late to work!”

“Give me a break, Skinner,” Draco groaned, “I work downstairs.”

“That is not an excuse!” Skinner said, “Now get up.”

Draco heard footsteps walking away from the door. He sighed and laid back down. Staring at the ceiling, he cursed under his breath. How did he get in this mess? Here he was, in the United States, in New York City, working like one of his servants. All this just to get away from… well, he didn’t want to think about it.

He looked up on the wall above his bed. The days on the calendar were three-fourths of the way marked out with x’s. It was a week before the end of July. Had he already been in the United States for nearly a month? It was true: Time flies when you are having fun. If you could call this “fun.”

He groaned and picked up his jeans from the side of his bed. Never did he think that he would be living like this. He lived in one of the rooms above The Pitch, the only wizarding bar in New York City. Behind the bar was the small market-place that resembled a much tinier Diagon Alley. The room was cheap, because he only had to pay for half of it, having working off the rest in The Pitch. He didn’t bring a lot of money from his home in the UK, because it would have raised suspicions of who he really was. To the people around The Pitch, he wasn’t known as Draco Malfoy.

He had changed his name to Hugh Singer in order to keep hidden from those who he knew were after him. He didn’t know who was closer to finding him: The Ministry… or the Death Eaters. Ever since his parents had agreed to a light one-year sentencing in Azkaban, Draco knew that he had to get away. The Ministry probably knew that he had gone to America. It would only be a short time before someone arrived on the doorstep of The Pitch, asking for the white-blonde haired boy. Draco thought of re-coloring his hair, but he turned down that thought, hating it.

At night, over the past two weeks, Draco would lie in his bed and look up at the ceiling. He was tired from work, having to wait tables like a house-elf. It made him grumpy… well, more than he usually was. While in bed, he would think of how his life had led him up to this. Was he being punished for joining the Death Eaters? Was he being punished for betraying the Death Eaters? He didn’t know.

What he did know is that he didn’t like this life. He didn’t like having to sleep in an uncomfortable bed, in an uncomfortable stuffy room. He didn’t like working for people who treated him like scum. He didn’t like the bad dreams he had at night, which had him waking up with his face covered in sweat.

Oh, yes… he did have dreams. Most were nightmares. Nightmares about friends who had died in the battle at Hogwarts. Nightmares about ghosts who came to his room to blame him for their death. Nightmares about the battle at Hogwarts. Like he wanted to remember that. His parents had nearly died. He had nearly died. But he didn’t… all thanks to Harry Potter.

“Tch!” Draco scoffed, pulling on his jeans, “Potter. Famous Harry Potter. Probably getting loads of fan-mail. He was the one who took down the Dark Lord, after all.”

He couldn’t be too angry about the downfall of the Dark Lord. He, himself, would have probably died if the Dark Lord was still alive. He knew there had been times when he was close to dying by the hands of the Dark Lord. A part of him was pleased that the Dark Lord was gone. But still… he knew it wasn’t over. As long as the Death Eaters were out there, Draco had to stay away. He knew that they would probably kill him the moment they found him.

Part of him wanted to go back to London. He wanted the protection of the Ministry. But would they give it to him? There was a chance he would end up in Azkaban as well, right beside his parents. He was a Death Eater, even though he ran away. He had the Dark Mark on his arm. His co-workers admired the mark. They didn’t know what it was. There were no Death Eaters in the United States. It didn’t come this far.

No, the only thing his co-workers ever talked about was Quidditch. The teams in the United States weren’t well-known. The Salem team was the best by far. But still… it wasn’t half as good as the teams in Europe.

Draco scoffed again. When he had changed into his work-clothes, he left the room. He locked the door and walked down the stairs to the bar portion of the pub.

“There you are!” Skinner said, noticing that Draco had come down. “Get the tables set. We got wizards and witches coming in. We don’t want to keep ‘em waiting!”

“Yes, sir,” Draco said.

As much as he didn’t want to admit it, he was scared of Skinner. Nobody knew Skinner’s first name. Everyone called him Skinner or Boss. Skinner was a tall, well-built man. He had short black hair, blotched with grey spots. He was the owner of the bar, but he also was the man who would kick unfriendly people out of the bar. Few people stood up to him. Most were afraid of him. Draco couldn’t figure out why. Maybe it was just because of the way he looked. But one thing was for sure. If anyone caused Draco trouble, he knew that Skinner would be there for him.

Draco started to set the tables with the usual menus, napkins and silverware. Not long after Draco had started, the first round of wizards and witches walked in. These were the ones who would come in everyday, have a couple cups of coffee and talk with Skinner and the bartenders. The wizards and witches would come back in the night to have mozzarella sticks and a couple pints of lager. Occasionally, Skinner would have to throw them out, but they always came back the next day with a smile.

“Hey Skinner!” one red-headed wizard said, “You hear about Oliver Wood?”

The name raised Draco’s eyebrows, and he looked around.

“I don’t pay attention to European Quidditch, Mack,” Skinner said, “You know that.”

“I know,” Mack said, “Anyway, Wood is starting Keeper for Puddlemere United. Yeah, they just announced it last night. He is supposed to out-rank all other Keepers. That is the rumor anyway.”

Draco made a loud “tch” noise, which made Skinner and the other wizards look around.

“What was that, Rookie?” Skinner asked Draco.

“I knew Oliver Wood,” Draco said.

“You don’t say!” Mack said, a big grin forming on his face.

Draco smiled. This was the perfect opportunity to get out of work for a bit.

“Oh yeah,” he said, “I knew him. I played against him.”

“You went to Hogwarts?” Mack said.

“You didn’t tell me that!” Skinner said.

“Do I have to tell you everything?” Draco asked in a loud voice.

“You watch your tone, Rookie,” Skinner said.

“Easy, Skinner,” Mack said, turning to Skinner and waving a hand, dismissively, “It is okay.” He turned back to Draco. “So what do you know about Oliver?”

“He was Captain and Keeper of his team,” Draco said, “Popular guy with most of the students. I didn’t like him.”

“Did you play?” Mack asked.

“Oh yeah,” Draco said, “I played Seeker.”

Mack grinned, looking impressed.

“Is he good enough that I can bet high on Puddlemere United this year?” Mack asked.

“I guess,” Draco said.

“I’ll do it,” Mack said, “If you can tell me anymore, let me know. Might be a big tip for you.”

Draco was about to talk, but Skinner interrupted.

“Maybe later,” he said, “I am sending the Rookie on an errand.”

Draco grinned and agreed. Anything to get away from this smelly place.

“Go into the Alley,” Skinner ordered Draco, “Go to Marcus. Give him this. He will know what to do. Bring back what he gives you.”

Skinner handed Draco a piece of paper.

“And don’t you read it, Rookie,” Skinner said, “Or it will be your job!”

“Yes, sir,” Draco said.

He sighed and went out the back door. Unlike Diagon Alley, there was no wall between the Alley and the shop. The gravel road was as long as three Quidditch Pitches. Stores, large and small, lined up down each side of the road. Draco started walking down toward Marcus’ shop.

Draco knew who this Marcus was. He worked at the wand shop in the Alley. Draco didn’t know how good Marcus was at wand-making. He knew he was nowhere near as good as Ollivander. He wasn’t the nicest wizard either. There was a bad aura around Marcus when Draco would visit him. There were times when Draco thought that Marcus was hiding something.

As Draco walked down the Alley, a thought had come to him, as he looked at the paper. What could Skinner want with Marcus? Skinner didn’t need a wand. Was Marcus doing something else besides wand-making. Whatever it was, Draco didn’t want any part of it. But he knew he had to do the job. If he didn’t, he would get on Skinner’s bad side. He didn’t want to do that. Last time he did, he had stayed up half the night working at The Pitch. He didn’t go to bad to early the next morning, and still had to get up at the same time. Draco knew then that he was not supposed to mess with Skinner.


Ten minutes after leaving the Pitch, Draco arrived at Marcus’ shop. He walked inside, and looked around. Marcus wasn’t at the front desk. It didn’t look like there was anyone else in the shop either.

“Marcus?” Draco called out, “It’s Hugh. Skinner sent me.”

“He did, did he?” a voice called.

Draco knew it was Marcus. He had visited Marcus a couple times before.

“Yeah,” he said, “I have a note.”

A door somewhere in the back, that Draco couldn’t see, opened and closed. Marcus appeared in between two shelves. He had long black hair, but was pretty short in size. Draco didn’t underestimate him though. If there was one person other than Skinner that Draco feared around there, it was Marcus.

Marcus took out his wand and muttered something. Suddenly, the paper left Draco’s hand and floated over to Marcus. Marcus read the paper and looked back at Draco.

“Did you look at this?” Marcus asked him.

“No, sir,” Draco said.

Marcus grunted. “I will be right back,” he said, “Stay there.”

“All right,” Draco said.

Marcus walked away and a minute later, Draco heard the same door open and close again. Draco sighed and looked around. Seeing all of these wands reminded him of the moment when Draco lost his wand to Harry Potter. Draco got another wand shortly after, but he didn’t feel the same with it. He had the other wand for so long. It was like a part of him. He felt naked without it.

The sound of the door opening and closing again woke Draco from his thoughts. A second later, Marcus appeared again with a paper sack.

“Take this to Skinner,” Marcus said. “Do not look at it. Do you understand me?”

“Yes, sir,” Draco said.

“Good,” Marcus said. “Go.”

Draco nodded and walked out the door. He walked back up the road to the Pitch.


Ten minutes later, Draco arrived back at the Pitch.

“Well?” Skinner said, the moment Draco walked in.

“Here you go,” Draco said, handing Skinner the sack.

“Good,” Skinner said, taking the sack, “Very good.”

Draco was about to go back to work, when Skinner stopped him.

“Take a break, Rookie,” he said.

“Sir?” Draco asked, surprised.

“Go on,” Skinner said. “Get yourself a butterbeer.”

“All right,” Draco said, shrugging.

Draco walked over to the small refridgerator behind the bar and took out a butterbeer. As he opened it, he looked around the bar. The witches and wizards who were there before had left. There were other wizards there now. Draco looked around to see if there was anyone he knew. He would do this occasionally, even though he knew there was probably no one around that he would know. Or at least, he hoped so. But like always, Draco shrugged the feeling off. No one would come to America from back home. How wrong he was.

“Hey, Rookie!” Skinner said.

Draco looked up at Skinner, who was now standing by the front door.

“I thought I told you,” Skinner said, “No visitors during work hours.”

“What?” Draco said.

“Someone is here to see you,” Skinner said, nodding to the doorway.

Draco gulped and looked at the doorway. His eyes went wide.

“What in the hell are you doing here?” he asked.

Cliffhanger! Who could it be? Well, you will have to wait until next chapter! I apologize for the short chapter. I didn’t think this was going to be long away. Sorry!

Hope you liked it! Gave you more of a view on what Draco was up to.

Feedback would be welcomed!

September 16th, 2007, 8:56 pm
Chapter 11
No Title

Author’s Note: This chapter starts about an hour-and-a-half before the previous chapter ended.

”Ladies and Gentlemen,” a voice said, “I would like to inform you that we will be landing in JFK Airport in New York City in about thirty minutes. As your pilot, I would like to thank you for using British Airways, and I hope that you plan on using it again. Have a wonderful day.”

Harry blinked open his eyes and looked around. He was sitting in one of the middle rows of the Second Class portion of the airplane. This was his first ride, and he felt a bit optimistic about it. He didn’t like the taking off part, and falling asleep was his only option to forget about being in the sky. Flying on a plane was nothing like flying on a broomstick. He had complete control when he was on a broomstick.

The sound of the pilot’s voice had woken him up. For a moment, he had forgotten why he was on an airplane to the United States . Then it had come to him. He was here because the Minister of Magic had requested that he went. He wasn’t alone either. Somewhere on the plane were two Aurors and Harry had the feeling that they were watching him. Not because they didn’t trust him, but because it was for his protection.

The protection wasn’t just because Harry was the one who brought Voldemort to his downfall. No, there were other reasons. Apparently, the rumor that Harry had longed to become an Auror wasn’t out of Kingsley Shacklebolt’s hearing range. Harry had the impression that this was supposed to be some kind of training mission. Kingsley Shacklebolt knew full-well, because Mrs. Weasley had told him over and over before Harry had returned to the Burrow after his visit to the Dursleys, that Harry was planning on finishing his education at Hogwarts. Harry knew this because of Kingsley’s careful attitude during the meeting with him. Harry remembered this meeting like it was on the back of his hand…

Flashback Begins:

Harry followed Kingsley into the kitchen at the Burrow. Behind him, he heard Ginny’s voice echoing from the living room.

”Mum, what is this about?” she said.

Harry didn’t hear Mrs. Weasley’s answer because Kingsley had drowned it out.

”Harry, do you want to sit down?” he said in his deep booming voice.

Harry turned and looked at Kingsley. He was sitting at the kitchen table.

”Yes, sir,” Harry said.

Harry walked over to the table and took a seat in one of the chairs.

”Am I in trouble, sir?” he asked.

”No, Harry, of course not,” Kingsley said. “And do please call me Kingsley. You have known me for a couple of years. I think you have that right.”

”Okay,” Harry said.

”Before you arrived, I had a nice conversation with Molly,” Kingsley said, “She says that you want to go back to Hogwarts this year?”

”Um… yeah, I was thinking about it,” Harry said. “Is that what this is about?”

”No,” Kingsley said, raising a hand, “No, of course not. Well… it does help. You see… I know that you want to become an Auror.”

”Uh-huh,” said, Harry, who had no idea where this was going.

”Of course, I can see that it could be the reason you want to finish your education,” Kingsley said, “You do need to have good results on the N.E.W.Ts for the Ministry to even consider you becoming an Auror. But I may have a way for the Auror Office to put you into higher consideration. I used to be an Auror. I think you know that.”

”Yes,” Harry said.

”Well then,” Kingsley said, “Let me get to the point. I believe you have heard that Augustus Rookwood was being questioned at the Ministry.”

”Yeah,” Harry said, “How is that going?”

Harry face turned deep red. He just realized that he asked a pretty straight-forward question to the Minister of Magic.

”Er… if I may ask, of course?” he added, quickly.

Kingsley just smiled.

”It is going fairly well, actually,” he said. “We were able to find out some good information. I believe you know that Lucius and Narcissa Malfoy are in Azkaban right now. It has been in the Daily Prophet.”

”Yes, I have heard about that,” Harry said.

”Their son, Draco, is currently residing in the United States ,” Kingsley said.

”I have heard about that as well,” Harry said.

Harry wished that Kingsley would come out with whatever he wanted to say, because as of now, he was very confused.

”We believe that the Death Eaters are hatching a plan,” Kingsley said. “They want to enlarge their numbers and try to avenge the death of Voldemort.”

”I am not surprised,” Harry said, truthfully.

”Yes,” Kingsley said, “Well, they believe that Lucius is a fine start to this plan.”

”But Lucius and Narcissa went to the Ministry,” Harry said, “They pled a bargain, didn’t they? That is why they are only serving one year in Azkaban?”

”Yes,” Kingsley said.

”So the Death Eaters must know that Lucius would probably not go back to them,” Harry said, “After what nearly happened to Draco?”

”Ah, that is where their plan comes into effect,” Kingsley said, “You see, the Death Eaters want to kidnap Draco. Then, they will use Draco has a bargaining chip for Lucius.”

”But I don’t understand,” Harry said, “Are you saying that they want to break Lucius out?”

”That is the eventual plan,” Kingsley said.

”So why don’t you secure Azkaban more tightly?” Harry asked.

”We believe,” Kingsley said, “that the plan starts with Draco… not Lucius. If Draco is not kidnapped, then it will slow down the plan to get Lucius. So we are more focused on Draco.”

Kingsley stood up and looked out the window.

”According to sources,” he said, “Draco Malfoy is working in the wizarding sports bar called ‘The Pitch’ in New York City . Coincidentally, he also lives in a room above the place. It is sort of like the Leaky Cauldron. Bar and motel kind-of thing.”

”I understand,” Harry said.

”We believe that Draco went to America ,” Kingsley said, “to get away from the Death Eaters, and the Ministry of Magic. We think that he knows someone is after him, but he has no idea who it would be. The Ministry is not after him. But…”

”But because his parents are now in Azkaban,” Harry said, “It is not impossible that he thinks like that.”

”Correct,” Kingsley said. “Now for the part where you come in. Tomorrow, I am sending two Aurors to go to New York City . The problem is this: Draco will probably recognize someone like them. He will panic. He will run. This could put him in more danger. We don’t know if Death Eaters will be there. Draco could run into them.”

”That would be bad,” Harry said.

”Yes, it would,” Kingsley said. “That is why we need you to find Draco.”

Harry sighed. He knew it was going to come to this.

”Sir,” he said, “Are you familiar with the past history of Draco and I?”

”Yes,” Kingsley said. “I mean… I believe so.”

”Then you would know that it might be a bad thing if I show up in his place of work and residence,” Harry said. “He might panic.”

”You saved his life at the battle of Hogwarts, did you not?” Kingsley asked.

”Yeah,” Harry said, “After he tried to kill me.”

Kingsley turned and looked at Harry. This was the first time in minutes that he had looked at him.

”Maybe this wasn’t a good idea,” Kingsley said. “I thought that… but no.”

”I will do it,” Harry said, quickly.

At that moment, he didn’t know why he said it. Was it because this might make Kingsley and the Ministry see that Harry had what it took to become an Auror? He didn’t know.

Kingsley stood there and looked at Harry.

”Are you sure?” Kingsley asked. “I mean… your past history with Draco could compromise the mission.”

”Or it could be the thing that makes it work,” Harry said.

”Yes,” Kingsley agreed, “It could. So you will do it?”

”Yes,” Harry said.

”Good,” Kingsley said, “Then I want you to come with me. We will go to the Ministry. We have to work out the last of the details, then you and the two Aurors will be on a flight to New York City .”

”We are leaving already?” Harry asked.

”Yes,” Kingsley said, “If that is not a problem.”

Harry sighed. He was hoping to see what was in the shoebox his Aunt had given him. But that would wait. He knew that he needed to do this.

”No, sir,” Harry said, “Not a problem at all.”

”Then we must leave,” Kingsley said.

Harry followed Kingsley out of the kitchen. Mrs. Weasley and Ginny looked at both, hoping to get an answer.

”Harry and I must go to the Ministry,” Kingsley said, “Harry will not be back tonight.”

Harry tried to ignore the looks on Mrs. Weasley and Ginny’s faces, but he couldn’t. He looked into Ginny’s eyes. It was almost as if they were trying to bore into Harry’s mind to get some information.

”I will be back in a couple of days,” Harry said to both Mrs. Weasley and Ginny, “If Hermione and Ron come back, explain to them why I am not here. Just say I had something to do. See you later.”

”Be safe,” Mrs. Weasley said, before embracing Harry in a hug.

”I will,” Harry said.

He turned to Ginny.

”Goodbye,” she said.

”Bye,” Harry said.

He then followed Kingsley out of the Burrow.

Flashback ends...

Harry looked out the window of the plane. He wondered what Ron and Hermione were doing, whether they had come back to London or not. He thought of Ginny, not being able to tell her what he was about to do. It was like withholding information from her about his quest to find the Horcruxes. He hated doing it. It upset Ginny. He knew that. And just days before, he had told Ginny that he wouldn’t leave her again without explaining what he would do. He had promised her. Now he felt like that promise was broken. He would make it up to her. But how, he would think of that later.

His thoughts went from Ginny to the shoebox. The shoebox was now probably up in Harry’s bedroom at the Burrow. Ginny probably knew to put it there. Harry thought about what was inside. Something from his mother, no doubt. But it would be a couple days until he could find out what was inside.

His thoughts then went to the current mission he was on. Finding Draco and bringing him back to London . At the Ministry, Kingsley informed Harry that Draco would be going to a safe-house. Harry was to explain this to Draco. It was supposed to be the one thing that would make Draco trust Harry. But would that be enough? Harry hoped beyond hope that Draco would put the past behind him. For his sake, for Harry’s, as well as the wizarding world.

Thirty minutes later, the plane arrived at John F. Kennedy Airport . It took twenty more minutes for Harry to get out of the airport. Harry nearly had a problem with security, but the Aurors that accompanied Harry fixed everything.

”Quick thinking back there,” Harry said, when he and the two Aurors walked out of the airport.

”Nothing the Confundus charm couldn’t fix,” one of the Aurors, Glenn, said with a wink.

Meanwhile, the other Auror alerted a taxi and one came right away. Harry and the two Aurors piled into the taxi.

”2300 Block of Main St reet please,” the Auror said to the taxi driver.

”It will take about twenty-five minutes depending on traffic,” the taxi driver said.

”No problem,” the Auror said.

The taxi started down the road.

”Muffliato,” the other Auror muttering, pointing his wand at the driver.

”Good work, Al,” Glenn said.

”We need to discuss our plans with Po tter,” Al said, “Don’t want the Muggle to hear.”

”Er… plans?” Harry asked.

”Just some final plans before we get there,” Al said, “We know that the Malfoy boy will be working at The Pitch. Minister Shacklebolt has ordered that only you can go in. We will keep watch outside, and will only come in if we are needed. Do you know what to do?”

”Convince Draco to come back to London ,” Harry said, “Yeah.”

”Good,” Al said, “Do it however you can. Don’t cause alarm, though. The bar will probably have security, and if they sense trouble, they will do something. America n Wizards don’t have much respect for us British Aurors.”

”I don’t know what the fuss is all about, anyway,” Glenn said. “But that is not the point.”

”No,” Al said.

”And what if we run into trouble?” Harry asked, “What if there are Death Eaters?”

”We will take care of them,” Al said, “I don’t know what you are worried about, though, Potter. You should be able to take down Death Eaters. After all, you were the one who took down –“

”Al, don’t do that,” Glenn said, “The boy has already been through enough without having to have all this publicity and thanks.”

”I was just saying,” Al said.

”We know what you were saying,” Glenn said, “So don’t say it.”

”I understand everything,” Harry said, “And I thank you for coming.”

”Don’t mention it,” Glenn said.

Al lifted the Muffliato Charm.

”Oi!” he said to the taxi driver, “Can you speed it up a little? We don’t got all day.” He chuckled and looked back at Glenn and Harry. “The nerve of some of these guys.”

Glenn just rolled his eyes.

”What?!” Al said.


Twenty minutes later, the taxi arrived at the spot. Al gave the taxi driver the English money, and followed Harry and Glenn out of the car.

”There it is,” Glenn said to Harry, “The Pitch.”

Harry looked across the street. The Pitch looked a little like the Leaky Cauldron. It was pretty dingy and dirty on the outside. The muggles didn’t seen it: their eye-sight went from the clothing store on one side, to the sports store on the other side.

”We will be over here,” Glenn said, “You go ahead. If there is any trouble, we will be in there before you can say Auror!”

”Thanks,” Harry said.

Harry thought much wasn’t going to happen right away, but he was wrong. The second he arrived on the other side of the street, he heard a very familiar voice from inside the bar.

”What in the hell are you doing here?” the voice said.

It was Draco’s voice. For a moment, Harry thought Draco had seen him. Then, he heard another voice.

”We have come to bring you home, Draco,” the voice said. “Your daddy will be most pleased to see you.”

Harry knew this voice. It was Mulciber, one of the Death Eaters.

”You got the wrong person, sir,” an unfamiliar voice said, “This isn’t the boy you are looking for. His name is Hugh.”

”Get out, Skinner!” Draco said, “You don’t know what they can do.”

”You better listen to him, Skinner,” Mulciber said, “I don’t think you want this bar destroyed, do you?”

”This is your last warning, scum,” Skinner said, “Get out of my bar.”

”No,” Mulciber said, “This is your last warning.”

Harry knew something was about to happen. He attempted to open the door quietly, but it was no use. Mulciber and the other Death Eater, who Harry recognized as Rowle, heard it. Rowle turned around.

”Well, well, well,” Rowle said, “Look who we got here, Mulciber. I thought you would be under greater protection, Potter. Not out in the open like this.”

”Potter?” Draco asked, “What are you doing here?”

”What the hell is going on here?” Skinner said.

”Skinner, I thought I told you to go,” Draco said.

”No,” Skinner said, “This is my bar. I am not going –“

”Avada Kedavra!” Mulciber roared.

The spell hit Skinner, who fell to the ground. He was dead.

”No!” Draco yelled.

”Stupefy!” Harry yelled, unleashing his wand and pointing it at Mulciber.

The spell hit Mulciber, who fell to the floor, stunned.

”Expelliarmus!” Rowle said.

Harry’s wand left his hand, and flew toward Rowle.

”Well, well,” Rowle said, “Look at this. I got your wand, Potter.”

”Reducto!” someone said from outside.

The door blasted apart. This distracted Rowle. Harry dove toward Rowle and tackled him. Harry tried to get his wand back, but it was just out of reach.

”Not this time, Potter!” Rowle said, grabbing onto Harry’s leg.

”Stupefy!” Draco said.

The spell just missed Rowle and Harry, but hit a table, which came crashing down on Rowle. More tables fell apart, burying Rowle in rubble. Harry had just gotten his leg away from the falling tables. He picked up his wand and stood up quickly. Al and Glenn, the Aurors, ran through the doorway.

”What happened?!” Al said.

”D-Death Eaters,” Harry sputtered, the dust choking him, “Careful, they aren’t dead. Just down.”

”Where is Malfoy?” Glenn asked.

”O-over here,” Draco said, coughing.

Harry looked up. Draco was behind the bar, getting to his feet.

”What is going on?” he said.

”We’re here to take you back to London ,” Glenn said, “You need protection.”

”Rubbish,” Draco said, “I came here to get away from all that!”

”Well, they found you, Draco,” Harry said. “It is better if you come with us. The Ministry is not targeting you. They want to help you.”

”Skinner!” Draco said, “They killed him. Why?”

”You have to come with us,” Glenn said.

”Fine,” Draco said, “Let me get my things.”

”Here, I will go with you,” Al said.

Suddenly, the table debris moved and Rowle stood up. His wand was out.

”Avada Kedavra!” he said, quickly.

The spell hit Al, who fell to the floor, dead. Glenn tried to curse Rowle, but Rowle ran out the door, cackling.

”I will go after him!” Harry said, running toward the door.

”No,” Glenn said, “He’s gone.”

Harry stopped in his tracks, and looked at Glenn.

“Are you sure?” he said.

“Yes,” Glenn said, “We don’t need to cause alarm in the streets. Besides… he probably Apparated by now. Make sure the other Death Eater doesn’t move. Bind him.”

“All right,” Harry said.

Glenn went over to Al and looked at him. Harry knew Glenn was saying his good-byes.

“Did he have any family?” Harry asked.

“Hmm?” Glenn muttered, looking up. “Oh… no.”

Harry binded Mulciber’s body using a curse.

“Good,” Glenn said, “Now, go with Malfoy and see to it that he gets his things together. We will be apparating back to London in a few minutes. I must contact the United States Ministry of Magic before we go.”

“Draco, come with me,” Harry said.

Draco agreed, though reluctantly. As he followed Harry, up the stairs, Draco muttered words that Harry couldn’t hear.

“Look, Draco,” Harry said, “I don’t care what you say. We are going.”

“I was fine by myself, thanks,” Draco said.

“You would have been dead if I didn’t come in,” Harry said.
“I could have handled it myself,” Draco said, “Now Skinner is dead.”

“An Auror is also dead, you know!” Harry said.

“What does the Ministry want me for?” Draco asked.

“The Death Eaters were going to use you, Draco,” Harry said, “They were going to break your father out of Azkaban, and use you to get him back into their ranks.”

“My father bargained with the Ministry,” Draco said.

“I know that,” Harry said.

“So why would he go back to the Death Eaters?” Draco asked.

“Would he go back if he thought you would die if he refused?” Harry asked.

“I doubt it,” Draco said.

“Yeah, well, I think your father cares for you more than you know,” Harry said, “More than you deserve as well.”

“Don’t talk like that, Potter,” Draco said, “Never! Leave my father out of this.”

“All right,” Harry said. He didn’t feel like arguing right now.

Draco hurried up the stairs and over to his room. He unlocked the door.

“Stay out here,” Draco said.

Draco went into the room, but Harry remained at the door, watching him.

“What is the Minister planning anyway?” Draco asked. “And while we are on the subject, what do you have to do with this?”

“The latter is none of your business, Malfoy” Harry said, “The Minister is planning on putting you in a safe-house until the Death Eaters are caught.”

“I don’t trust the Ministry,” Draco said.

“You will have to trust them enough,” Harry said. ”Hurry up. We got to go.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Draco grumbled.

Draco walked out of the room with a pack full of his things. Harry followed him back down the stairs. Glenn was standing there waiting for them.

“There you are,” he said, “The US Ministry of Magic is on their way. They are not happy. But they will clean this up. I will have to report back to Shacklebolt. He is not going to be pleased. All right, let’s go. Malfoy, you are going with me. Side-Along Apparation.”

“I got my license, thank you very much!” Draco grumbled.

“I am doing it for other reasons,” Glen said, “Come on. Harry, take Mulciber. He is stunned and binded, so he should be no bother.”

“All right,” Harry said.

Glen muttered a curse and Draco’s things disappeared.

“Don’t worry,” Glenn said to Draco, who looked as if he was going to yell, “You will be re-united with your things in a sec. Harry, we are going back to the Auror Headquarters. We can apparate there.”

Harry nodded. He took hold of Mulciber, and Apparated back to London and the Ministry of Magic.

Chapter is done! Hope you liked it. Bit of action here and there.

Feedback will be welcomed!

September 22nd, 2007, 5:53 pm
Chapter 12
A Rose By Any Other Name…

At seven-o-clock in the evening, Ron and Hermione apparated back to Oxford, England. Accompanying them by Side-Along Apparation were Hermione’s parents. It was ten in the morning in Oxford when they arrived. They apparated at a hidden location near Hermione’s house, so as not to alarm any Muggles.

It took five minutes to walk down the street to the neighborhood where Hermione’s house was. When they arrived, Ron, as well as Hermione’s parents, was surprised to see that the lawn around the house was nicely mown.

”Simple magic kept the lawn nice,” Hermione said, with a bemused expression, looking at the reaction of her parents. “I know you didn’t want me to do that, Mum and Dad, but I didn’t want the lawn to look like it was uncared for. It would have raised too much suspicion, even if you were supposedly taking a year-long vacation.”

”It is okay, Mione,” Richard said, “We understand. You don’t have to explain. We are pleased that you would do this.”

Ron grinned when he saw that Hermione was blushing, apparently embarrassed at the nickname “Mione”. Ron vowed to himself that he would ask Hermione about it. He wanted to know all about this name.

“How about we all go inside?” Helen offered.

”Oh, hold on,” Hermione said, “I need to remove the security spells.”

Ron looked at Richard and Helen, expecting them to say something. They only smiled. All the original worries Ron had about Hermione’s parents not liking magic disappeared. Hermione had never really talked about her parents, so Ron didn’t know what to expect from them.

Hermione muttered some words and after a minute, she announced that all of the spells were lifted.

”All right,” Helen said, “How about we go in and I can make a good meal?”

”Dear, we just ate not an hour ago,” Richard said.

”I haven’t had the chance to cook in my own kitchen in a year, Richard,” Helen said, in an attempt at a calm voice, “Can I do that? Please?”

Hermione rolled her eyes, and put a hand out to stop Ron.

”Stay here for a moment,” Hermione whispered.

”Why?” Ron asked.

”Believe me,” Hermione said, “We don’t want to get involved when they bicker.”

”I didn’t see them as the bickering kind,” Ron said.

”There are times,” Hermione said, watching her parents walking inside.

”Whatever you say, Mione,” Ron said, grinning.

”What did you say?” Hermione said, turning to Ron.

”Nothing,” Ron said, quickly, hoping Hermione didn’t actually hear him.

”No, I know what you said,” Hermione said, through gritted teeth.

”Oh, come on!” Ron said, “You have to tell me. Where did that name come from?”

”I… er… I don’t remember?” Hermione said, her eyes peering toward the ground.

”I seriously doubt that,” Ron said, grinning.

”I think we should go inside,” Hermione said.

She started walking toward the door. Ron just stood in the same spot. Hermione turned and looked at Ron.

”Are you coming in?” she asked.

”Not until you tell me,” Ron said.

”Is that a threat?” Hermione asked.

”Maybe,” Ron said, still grinning.

”Ugh!” Hermione said, “You are such a boy!”

”Will you tell me then?” Ron asked.

”Fine!” Hermione exclaimed, “It is my Dad’s nickname for me. It’s a pet name. He’s used it since I was little. Is that good enough?!”

”Geez, I just wanted to know,” Ron said.

”Okay, now you know,” Hermione said.

”Can I call you that?” Ron asked.

”Only if you want another round with those birds!” Hermione said, “And yes! That is a threat!”

”Okay, okay,” Ron said. “You know, I think I was right back in first year.”

”About what?” Hermione asked, slowly.

”You are scary sometimes,” Ron said.

Hermione rolled her eyes and marched inside the house.

”What did I say?” Ron asked himself.

He shook his head and walked inside the house.


Ron made sure not to mention anything more about the nickname “Mione” for the rest of the time he and Hermione were at the house. After a quick brunch, in which Mrs. Granger insisted that everyone had, Ron and Hermione announced that they had to be leaving. Ron said that he had been away from the Burrow for too long, and that his mother would be worrying about him. Mrs. Granger understood right away. Both of Hermione’s parents made Hermione promise that she would be back before too long. Hermione assured them that she would be, and her parents finally let her and Ron leave.

”I am sorry about that back there,” Hermione said, as she walked hand-in-hand with Ron up the street.

They were heading back to the spot where no one could see them Apparate.

”It is okay,” Ron insisted, “Believe me. They are no worse than my parents. Well, more like my mum, I should say. But they didn’t see you for a whole year.”

”They didn’t know I was their daughter during that time, Ronald,” Hermione said. “How many times do I have to tell you?”

”Oh, right,” Ron said, “Well, it is still the same, isn’t it? Now that they know, I am sure they are thinking it.”

”Yeah, I guess,” Hermione said.

”I still don’t know how you got the Australian Minister of Magic to believe us yesterday,” Ron said. “You are definitely a genius.”

”I am not, Ron,” Hermione said.

”Yes, you are,” Ron said, “No one else could have done that. I am sure the Australian Minister of Magic is a very powerful individual.”

”Let’s just get going,” Hermione said, “Your mother is probably very worried about us. I hope they got the owl I sent a couple days ago. It had a long way to go.”

”Hermione, you are avoiding this discussion,” Ron said, “Did you do something that I don’t know about?”

”What ever do you mean?” Hermione asked.

”Don’t play innocent with me,” Ron said, “I know you did something. It better not have been illegal!”

”You sound like your Mum,” Hermione said, walking ahead.

”What did you do?!” Ron asked.

”Would you be quiet?!” shushed Hermione, “You are going to wake my neighbors. They don’t need to know. And for your information, I did not do a single damn thing! Nothing illegal.”

”You didn’t Confund the Australia n Minister?” Ron asked.

”No!” Hermione said, practically yelling, “How could you… I would have never… I can’t believe you said that!”

”Sorry,” Ron said, in a small voice, “I just thought –“

”If it wasn’t for your mother,” Hermione said, “I would not be going to the Burrow with you right now! I want her to know that I am okay!”

”I didn’t mean to upset you,” Ron said, “I was just asking.”

”Come on,” Hermione said, “Let’s just go.”

Hermione didn’t say another word as Ron followed her up to the safe spot where they could Apparate back to the Burrow. In fact, the only thing Ron heard Hermione said was when she counted down from three to one before she apparated. Ron apparated back to the Burrow. When he arrived, he was at the gravel road outside the property. Hermione was already walking toward the Burrow. Ron hurried up to her.

”Hermione, please listen to me,” Ron said.

Hermione sighed and stopped. She turned and looked and Ron.

”I didn’t mean to upset you,” Ron said. “I was just wondering. I never should have said it.”

”You are right,” Hermione said, “You shouldn’t have said it.”

”I am sorry,” Ron said, “Can we not bring this up while we are in there?”

”Fine,” Hermione said.

”Good,” Ron said.

Hermione turned and walked toward the Burrow. Ron followed her. When they went inside, Ginny and Mrs. Weasley were in the kitchen.

”Ron! Hermione!” Ginny said, “You’re home!”

”Oh thank goodness!” Mrs. Weasley said.

She dropped the plate in the sink, making it crack in two. As she hugged both Ron and Hermione, Ginny repaired the plate.

”Where is Harry?” Ron asked, looking around.
“He’s with the Minister,” Mrs. Weasley said.

”What?” Hermione asked, “Why? Is he okay?”

”I am sure he is fine,” Mrs. Weasley said.

”Whatever is he doing with the Minister?” Hermione asked.

”They didn’t tell us,” Ginny said, sounding a bit bitter about it.

”Well, when did he leave?” Ron asked.

”A couple nights ago,” Ginny said.

”But he should be back today,” Mrs. Weasley said.

Ron knew she was trying to make her voice sound more confident than it was.

”Do you two want anything to eat?” Mrs. Weasley said, trying to change the subject.

”No,” Hermione said, “My parents fixed us something not an hour ago.”

”Oh,” said Mrs. Weasley, “How are they? Did you find them well? You sounded so happy in the letter.”

”Yeah, they were all right,” Hermione said, “They probably would have had a good life if we hadn’t found them. You know, if – well, anyway they were doing good. They had a little business down there as dentists.”

”Unfortunately we had to explain everything to the Australia n Minister of Magic,” Ron said, “And that was –“

He stopped when he saw Hermione’s look on her face. She had narrowed her eyes, and Ron knew she was wondering if he was going to say something.

”It went as well as it could have,” Ron said, changing his sentence mid-way, “The Minister was fine with it.”

”So there was no trouble?” Mrs. Weasley asked.

”No, Mum,” Ron said, “None at all.”

”Well, that is a relief,” Mrs. Weasley said, “With the rumor of Death Eaters still out there, I thought – well, you are home now, and safe. That is all that matters. I am going to send an owl to Arthur and tell him that you are home.”

”Pigwidgeon is out getting mice,” Ginny said, “But he might not mind.”

”I will go find him,” Mrs. Weasley said.

She walked out the front door.

”She still doesn’t want to give Errol a job?” Ron asked Ginny.

”No,” Ginny said, grimly, “I think he might be going into retirement.”

”Aw well,” Ron said.

”Listen, I was hoping to have a chance to talk to you,” Ginny said, to both Ron and Hermione, “Harry and I were talking a few days ago. He was thinking about going back to Hogwarts to finish his education. He was wondering if you two were thinking of going back.”

“Why in the world would I want to do that?” Ron asked.

“You haven’t finished your education, Ronald,” Hermione said, “Personally I think it is a good idea. I haven’t done the N.E.W.Ts. I am sure Professor McGonagall would allow us to go back.”

“She isn’t going to be the headmistress,” Ginny said.

“What?” Hermione asked, “She’s not?”

“No,” Ginny said, “It was in the Daily Prophet.”

“Then who will it be?” Hermione asked.

“We don’t know yet,” Ginny said, “Ron… why don’t you want to go back to Hogwarts? What will you do if you don’t?”

“I dunno,” Ron said, shrugging, “I thought I might work with George.”

“You definitely don’t want to work with him,” Ginny said.

“And why not?” Ron asked.

“For one thing,” Ginny said, “Lately he has been bossing his workers around.”

“That doesn’t sound like George!” Hermione said.

“Actually, it does,” Ron said, chuckling.

“Harry and I went to Diagon Alley,” Ginny said, “We saw George. He usually just sits up in his flat.”

“Still not over Fred’s death?” Ron asked.

“It isn’t that,” Ginny said, “He is planning on expanding Weasley’s Wizards Wheezes.”

“Well, then he might need me,” Ron said.

“Ron,” Hermione said, “I want you to go back to Hogwarts for the year. Please? It won’t be the same without you. Besides, you need to finish up your education. Haven’t you been saying that you want to be an Auror someday?”

“There is no chance in hell,” Ron said.

“Yes, there is!” Hermione said, “After everything you did last year.”

“Yeah, right,” Ron muttered, “The Ministry is probably more focused on Harry. I am sure he could be an Auror now if the Ministry wanted him.”

“You could be an Auror, Ron,” Hermione said.

Suddenly a CRACK echoed outside the Burrow.

“Is that Harry?” Hermione asked.

Ginny ran over to the window.

“He’s here!” she yelled in a delighted voice.

Ron, Hermione and Ginny ran outside. With one hand, Mrs. Weasley was hugging a very windswept Harry. In the other was Pigwidgeon, attempting to free himself. Mrs. Weasley only let go of Harry when Pig pecked her on the finger.

Ginny was the next to hug Harry. Harry just chuckled as Ginny jumped into his arms.

“When did you get back?” Harry said, looking at Ron and Hermione over the shoulder of Ginny.

“Just a few minutes ago,” Ron said.

“Where have you been?” Hermione asked.

“I will explain later,” Harry said, “There is something I want to do.”

Harry let go of Ginny and walked into the Burrow.

“What is going on?” Ron asked, perplexed.

“I think I know,” Ginny said, “Harry and I visited his relatives in Surrey a couple days ago. His Aunt gave him a box from his mother, and he hasn’t had the chance to open it.”

“I see,” Ron said.

“I am going to go in,” Ginny said.

“Ginny,” Mrs. Weasley said, “You leave Harry alone. He just got back.”

“Okay, Mum, I promise,” Ginny said.

Mrs. Weasley followed Ginny into the house.

“Think she will keep that promise?” Hermione asked Ron.

“I doubt it,” Ron said, grinning.

“You should think about going back to Hogwarts,” Hermione said.

“Fine, I will think about it,” Ron said, sighing.

“I will miss you if you don’t go,” Hermione said, “I might not be able to concentrate on my work.”

“I doubt it,” Ron said.

“Yeah, you are probably right,” Hermione said, “Please?”

“I said I would think about it, Mione,” Ron said.

“I heard that,” Hermione said.

“Come on,” Ron begged, “Can’t I call you that? I like that nickname.”

“Only if you go back to Hogwarts,” Hermione said with a smirk.

“That’s blackmail,” Ron said.

“I know,” Hermione said, grinning.

“So you will miss me if I am not at Hogwarts with you?” Ron asked.

“Yeah,” Hermione said, “Of course I will. It won’t be the same.”

“I will keep that in mind,” Ron said, grinning.

Hermione smiled too. She started walking back toward the Burrow.

“Hey, Mione,” Ron said.

Hermione turned around.

“I love you,” Ron said.

Hermione grinned and her face turned red.

“I love you too, Ron,” she said.

Ron smiled and followed Hermione back into the Burrow.

Done! One of the more fluff-filled Ron/Hermione chapters. Some arguments as well, but I thought those were funny. This might have been a little shorter then I hoped. Oh well. More to come! Yes, you will find out what is in the shoebox Harry has. I promise!

Oh, I was thinking about putting in a flashback about the meeting with the Australian Minister of Magic, but one of my readers (and former Beta) didn’t think I should add it.

Feedback would be great!

September 26th, 2007, 5:51 pm
Chapter 13
A Key To The Past

Author’s Note: This chapter takes place right after the last chapter ended.

Harry ran up the stairs to the third level of the Burrow where his bedroom was. Hoping beyond hope that Ginny had put the shoebox in his bedroom, Harry quickly opened the door to his bedroom and walked in. It didn’t take long for Harry to find what he was looking for; the shoebox was lying in the middle of the bed.

Time seemed to slow as Harry walked toward the bed. What could be in the shoebox? He knew it was something from his mother, and maybe his father. But what could it be? A letter? Something important? Or not much at all. Was he just getting his hopes up? It was a shoebox. Maybe it was just shoes…

He walked over to the bed and took the lid off of the shoebox. Inside was a rolled up piece of parchment and a small brown envelope. Harry picked up the parchment and unrolled it. It looked like a letter. Harry immediately recognized the hand-writing. It was the same handwriting he had seen in the letter in Sirius’ room. This was Lily’s handwriting. Excited, and a little nervous, Harry read the letter:

Date: July 31st, 1981

Harry looked at the date again. The letter had been written on Harry’s first birthday. Did Lily write this around the time that she wrote the letter to Sirius? He continued to read:

My Dearest Harry:

If you are reading this, then your father and I are dead. If everything goes according to plan, you will now be living with my sister, Petunia. If you are reading this, then my greatest wish has been granted: you are alive and well. If my sister granted my request, then you should be reading this on your eleventh birthday.

”Eleventh birthday?” Harry mouthed to himself, “I was supposed to get this then? Damn it, Petunia. Why didn’t you give it to me?”

Still cursing his Aunt under his breath, Harry read on:

It is funny to think that while I am writing this letter, you are just feet away from me sleeping in your crib. I can scarcely imagine what you would be like at eleven years old. My only hope is that I can see you on that day, and you will never have to read this letter.

My only reason to write this letter is to give you an explanation and a warning. Sweetheart, I do not want you to panic when you read this letter. But if you are your father’s son, then I am sure you will hang your head high.

A man – if you can call him a man anymore – named Voldemort is causing very bad things to happen around the world. I don’t know how to say this. If you are reading this at age eleven, you might be a little young to hear this, but I want you to hear it from me. Voldemort and his followers, known as Death Eaters, are killing people around the world. Many of the people that I know have died, and I am worried that more will die. Your father and I are in hiding right now. We don’t know if Voldemort is coming after us, but we want to be safe. Albus Dumbledore, a good friend of ours, explained a lot to us. That is why we are in hiding. If you have not met Albus, then I am sure you will. He is a wonderful person. I am sure you will like him very much.

Enclosed with this letter are a couple of things. One is something that your father and I have decided to give you.

Harry put down the piece of parchment and opened the brown envelope. He dumped the contents onto the bed. There was a key that looked very similar to those given to you when you got a vault at Gringott’s. There were also two pictures. Harry picked up the key and looked at the letter again.

The key enclosed is a copy of the original that we have. It goes to a vault inside Gringott’s wizarding bank in Diagon Alley. The vault is full of our personal items. Things that we didn’t want destroyed if something were to happen. If you find these things, then I think you will live a nice whole life.

Harry looked at the key. His parents had another vault? Why wasn’t he told about this? What could be inside the vault? Maybe the answers were still in the letter. Harry read on:

Also enclosed are two pictures. One is a picture of you, me and your father. The other is a picture of me and your father, along with your father’s three best friends. I hope you will be able to meet these people. I trust all three of them with my life.
Harry picked up the two pictures. As he looked at the picture of Lily, James, Sirius, Remus and Peter, he thought of the words Lily had written: “I trust all three of them with my life”. Lily and James never knew that Peter was going to betray them. And yet they trusted him with their life. Harry looked at the image of Peter with a sudden hatred. Though the man was now dead, Harry still hated him. If he could do it without damaging the rest of the picture, Harry would have cursed Peter out of the picture.

Harry dropped that picture and looked at the other. It looked as if he and his parents were at their home in Godric’s Hollow. Lily and James were sitting on a couch. Lily was holding baby Harry in her arms, and James was attempting to tickle Harry, probably trying to make him laugh for the picture. Who was behind the camera? Was it one of James’ friends? Maybe it was someone else. Dumbledore, perhaps?

Harry returned to the letter:

I close this letter with this: I hope that you have the best possible life that you can. My wish is that your father and I can spend it with you. But if we can’t, then I want you to live your life. Don’t grieve for us. We’ve had good lives. We just want to know that you will have a good life.

Your father and I love you with every ounce of our bodies and soul.

With all of my love,

Harry re-read the letter over again. Midway through the letter, there was a tap on the door.

”Harry? Are you in there?” a voice asked. It was Ginny.

”No,” Harry said, “Come in.”

He took a last look at the letter then quickly put it inside the box. He put the two pictures and the key inside. Ginny opened the door and walked in just as Harry put the lid on the box.

”So what is in it?” Ginny asked, her eyesight on the closed shoe-box. “Er… if it isn’t too personal of a question to ask?”

Harry grinned. Ginny only asked him because she knew he wouldn’t get mad. Harry knew that.

”It was a letter from my mother,” Harry said, “As well as two pictures and a key.”

”A key?” Ginny asked, “To what?”

”My parents’ Gringott’s vault,” Harry said, looking down at the box.

”But,” Ginny said, sounding a little confused, “I thought you already had your parents’ vault.”

”Apparently they had another one,” Harry said, shrugging. “I want to go to it.”

”That might be harder than you think,” Ginny said.

”Not really,” Harry said, “I just go into Gringott’s bank. Wait, do you mean… are you saying that they are not going to let me back because I broke into…”

”No, nothing like that!” Ginny said, waving her hands to stop Harry.

”Then what are you talking about?” Harry asked, his voice raising a little.

”Geez, Harry,” Ginny said, grinning, “Hermione was right. You never did listen in History of Magic, did you?”
”I tried!” Harry said, “What is your point?”

”The Age Law of 1985,” Ginny said, “That is when they changed the coming of age from eighteen to seventeen.”

”What does that have to do with anything?” Harry asked.

”When your parents arranged to name you as the rightful owner of the vault if they died,” Ginny explained, “They probably said that you could have it when you turned eighteen years old. And since they died before the Age Law took place, they weren’t able to change the contract.”

”So I can’t get into the vault until I am eighteen?” Harry asked.

”Probably,” Ginny said.

”Damn it,” Harry muttered under his breath.

”Your eighteenth birthday is less than a week away,” Ginny said, “You can probably wait until then. Or… well, we will be going to Diagon Alley next month once the booklists come in. So maybe you can go then?”

”The booklists?” Harry asked, “Oh, right. I wonder if I should send an owl to Professor McGonagall before then and tell her I want to go back to Hogwarts?”

”Mum might do that,” Ginny said, “Once she talks Ron into going back. I… er… I let it slip earlier that you and Hermione wanted to go back, and that Ron was undecided.”

”Why did you do that?” Harry asked.

”He made me mad,” Ginny said, “Well, he thinks he made me mad. I needed a good reason to tell Mum.”

”You are evil,” Harry said, grinning.

”I know,” Ginny said, with a big grin on her face. “You like it?”

Harry was about to answer when the bedroom door opened. Ron walked in, looking out of breath.

”Oh, sorry,” Ron said.

”Ron, you didn’t have to do that!” Hermione’s voice rang as she followed Ron into the room.

”I said I was sorry!” Ron said.

”I thought you were talking to Mum,” Ginny said.

”I already did,” Ron said, “And thank you for telling her. It wasn’t like I needed more of a reason to make a decision about it!”

”What are you talking about?” Harry asked, hoping to cover up the fact that Ginny had told him already. He didn’t know how Ron would take that.

”Ginny told us that you decided to finish your education at Hogwarts,” Hermione said, “I thought it was a good idea. I am going to go back as well. Ron didn’t know if he wanted to go.”

”I told you,” Ron said, “I was thinking of getting a job with George.”

”You know you want to go back,” Hermione said.

”Looks like I have no choice,” Ron said, grumpily, “Now that Mum knows. She said she is going to send an owl to Professor McGonagall telling her that we all are going back to finish our education.”

”Well, I for one think it is a good idea that you are going back,” Hermione said with a grin. “What do you think, Harry?”

”I would have missed having you around the halls and the Gryffindor Common Room, Ron,” Harry said, “No offense.”

”I guess I am okay with it,” Ron said, “I just always thought I would be done with Hogwarts by now.”

”Hey, so did I,” Harry said, truthfully, “But with the circumstances that has happened, I am just lucky to be able to see my final year at Hogwarts.”

The room went very silent. Ron and Hermione were looking at each other, and Harry knew that they were trying to non-verbally decide on who should say something. Instead, Ginny spoke up.

”Harry,” she said, “Are you going to tell us what happened with you and Minister? Or… are you able to tell us?”

”He would tell us even if he couldn’t,” Ron said, grinning.

”How do you know about this?” Harry asked Ron.

”Mum and I told him and Hermione,” Ginny said, “They arrived at the Burrow just minutes before you came home, and they were wondering where you were.”

”So can you tell us?” Ron asked.

”I can’t see why it would be a problem,” Harry said, “As long as it was kept a secret.”

”A secret?” Hermione asked, “Why?”

”It would probably cause panic,” Harry said.

”Spit it out,” Ron urged Harry on.

“Well,” Harry said, “Kingsley knows how much I want to become an Auror. So a couple of days ago, he came here and talked to me about a plan that the Ministry was hatching. Augustus Rookwood told the Ministry that there was a Death Eater meeting somewhere, and Dawlish, the Auror, was able to go undercover as Rookwood and get into the meeting. Well, he found out that the Death Eaters were trying to get more people into their ranks. There were very few that survived the battle at Hogwarts, or weren’t apprehended. Well, apparently the first plan of the Death Eaters is to free Lucius Malfoy from Azkaban.”

“But,” Hermione said, “Isn’t he on the Ministry’s side now? Isn’t that why he has a light sentence. He wouldn’t go back to the Death Eaters, would he? Unless something really changed his mind.”

“According to Dawlish,” Harry said, “That is exactly what the Death Eaters are thinking. Their plan was to kidnap Draco.”

“Didn’t he go to America?” Ron asked.

“Yeah,” Harry said, “And that is where I come in. You see… I went to New York City in the United States. I was to bring Draco back home. I went with two Aurors. We found Draco, but two Death Eaters had got to him first.”

“Was he okay?” Hermione asked.

“He was fine,” Harry said, “The Death Eaters were threatening to take him back to England with them. That is when I interrupted. Unfortunately an Auror and a Wizard died. McNair, the Death Eater who almost beheaded Buckbeak, was killed. Rowle, the big blonde Death Eater, got away. We didn’t find him.”

“And Draco?” Ginny asked.

“He is now in a safe-house somewhere protected by the Fidelius Charm,” Harry said, “And the Ministry is now finding ways to protect Azkaban with better security.”

“They still believe the Death Eaters will try to free Lucius?” Ron asked.

“There is a chance,” Harry said.

“So the Death Eaters are trying to avenge Voldemort’s death?” Ginny asked.

“That is right,” Harry said.

“Are you one of their targets?” Ginny asked.

Harry knew what she was thinking.

“The Ministry doesn’t think so,” he said, “But Kingsley knows I am going back to Hogwarts this year, and he is okay with it.”

“So there is going to have to be more security at Hogwarts?” Ron asked, “Great. Just what we need.”

“If it is for Harry’s protection,” Hermione said, “As well as all of our protection, then I see no problem with it.”

“Yeah,” Ginny said, “I agree.”

“I know,” Ron said, “It just makes me feel uneasy.”

“Well, I guess we should go,” Hermione said, more to Ron then anyone.

“What?” Ron asked, “Oh, fine.”

Ron stood up. Hermione stood up and was about to walk to the door, but turned back to Harry.

“Oh,” Hermione said, “I nearly forgot. Ginny said you got something from your Aunt?”

“It was just a letter from my Mum,” Harry said, “As well as some other stuff.”

“Oh, wonderful,” Hermione said.

“Yeah,” Harry said.

Ron looked like he wanted to say something, but Hermione tugged him toward the door and out of the room.

“Are you worried about the Death Eaters?” Ginny asked Harry.

“No,” Harry said, truthfully, “Not at all.”

“So the Minister thinks you could become an Auror?” Ginny asked.

“Yeah,” Harry said, “I think he might have given me a job earlier today if he didn’t know I was planning on going back to Hogwarts.”

“Really?” Ginny asked.

“Well, I was the one who defeated Voldemort,” Harry said, “I can’t tell you how many Aurors were lining up asking me if I wanted to join them.”

“Well, they are all pretty confident now that Voldemort is gone,” Ginny said.

“Yeah,” Harry said.

A sudden urge swept over Harry, and he wanted to kiss Ginny. He just wasn’t sure if Ron would come back in the room. Harry knew that Ron was just being a good brother, and he couldn’t blame him. Suddenly, he felt Ginny take his hand.

“I was worried about you when you left a couple days ago,” she said, “I was so relieved to see you come back. I don’t know what I would do if… well, I am just happy that we will be together at Hogwarts.”

“Yeah,” Harry said.

“At least there you won’t have a chance to get that far away from me,” Ginny said, grinning.

“Yeah, that’s true,” Harry said, “But didn’t you tell me that you were wanting to focus on Quidditch this year?”

“I will find the time,” Ginny said, “There is always time for that.”

“I guess so,” Harry said, “Just hope you don’t get kicked off the team because of me.”

“Oh, I don’t think that will be a problem,” Ginny said, “I have high hopes that I will be captain this year.”

“Really?” Harry asked.

“Just something I heard,” Ginny said.

“Well, that means you will have to work twice as hard,” Harry said.

“I will be all right,” Ginny said. “For now… I just want to…”

Ginny didn’t finish her sentence. Instead, she kissed Harry fully on the lips. Harry returned the kiss and hoped beyond hope that Ron wouldn’t interrupt him this time.

Another chapter finished! Hope ya liked it! I know a lot of people wanted to know what was in the letter. Well, there ya have it.

Feedback would be great!

October 1st, 2007, 5:34 pm
Chapter 14
Harry’s Birthday

Author’s Note: From reading your reviews, I know that you want to find out what is in the vault. Well, that will come in 2 or 3 chapters. I want to leave the suspense a little longer. For now… enjoy the chapter.

The few days before Harry’s eighteenth birthday went pretty uneventful in the Burrow. Before going to bed each night, Harry would read the letter from his mother again and again. He would have dreams of what could possibly be in that vault at Gringott’s.

What could possibly be in the vault? He remembered what his mother had written: If you find these things, then I think you will live a nice whole life. Obviously it might just be things that could fill up a house when Harry was able to get one.

He didn’t want to use Grimmauld Place. It gave him bad memories. Just being back in the house the previous year gave him chills. Come to think of it, he didn’t know what he wanted to do with Grimmauld Place. Would the Order of the Phoenix still need it? He didn’t want to sell it. Kreacher would never forgive him for doing that. Before a year ago, he wouldn’t have cared what Kreacher thought. But now that Kreacher had become much nicer to Harry and his friends, Harry felt better about the house-elf.

Harry wondered whom he could ask about the status of the Order of the Phoenix. Professor McGonagall was busy, and hadn’t come around the Burrow since the Battle at Hogwarts. So, he couldn’t ask her. He hadn’t thought about asking Kingsley when he was at the Ministry of Magic. Would the position of Minister of Magic give him the right to be the new leader of the Order?

Harry’s best choice was to ask Mr. Weasley, but he was busy with work that Harry wouldn’t get a chance until the day of his birthday.

The weather couldn’t have been any better the day of Harry’s birthday. Earlier in the week, Mrs. Weasley told Harry that there would be some guests over for Harry’s party, so they would be eating dinner outside again. Harry said he didn’t want a big party, but Mrs. Weasley said it wasn’t any bother.

Mr. Weasley was able to take the day off of work thanks to Minister Shacklebolt. Kingsley told Mr. Weasley that he didn’t know if he could make it for the party, being so busy with Minister Business, but he would try his best.

When Harry woke up on his birthday, only Mrs. Weasley was in the kitchen. She was preparing a small breakfast.

"I hope you don’t mind that we have a small breakfast today," Mrs. Weasley told Harry, noticing that he had come into the kitchen. "I am more focused on preparing for dinner."

"That is not a problem," Harry said, "Um… actually I was looking for Mr. Weasley. Do you know where he is?"

"I believe he is out in the barn," Mrs. Weasley said, "Who knows what he is doing. Please tell him to come inside. I want him to help me with the stuff for the party."

"Okay" Harry said.

"Thank you, dear," Mrs. Weasley said, "Oh, and Happy Eighteenth Birthday."

"Thank you, Mrs. Weasley," Harry said, before walking outside.

He walked over to the barn near the driveway. As he walked into the barn, Harry heard a small tinkering of metal. He couldn’t see Mr. Weasley, but he did see, to his great surprise, Sirius’ motorcycle.

"Mr. Weasley?" Harry called, "Are you in here?"

"Over here!" Mr. Weasley said in a muffled voice.

Harry walked over to the other side of the motorcycle. Mr. Weasley was working on something under the seat.

"I didn’t know this was here," Harry said.

"Hagrid brought it over from the Tonks residence," Mr. Weasley said, "A few days after Bill and Fleur’s wedding. I have been working on it. Unfortunately I haven’t had much time lately."

"But why are you working on it?" Harry asked.

"Well, I guess I can tell you now," Mr. Weasley said, "Just don’t tell Molly. Molly and I wanted to give you this for your birthday present. Well, in reality, I guess this motorcycle is actually yours. Everything of Sirius’ went to you."

"Yeah, er… now that we are at that subject," Harry said, "I want to talk to you about something."

"All right," Mr. Weasley said.

He dropped the screwdriver and turned to Harry, giving him his full attention.

"Go on," he said.

"Well," Harry said, "I want to know the status of the Order of the Phoenix?"

"Oh," Mr. Weasley said, looking surprised at the question, "Well, I don’t know. I guess it is still together. I mean… so many of the members are gone now. It’s…"

"I am sorry to bring this up," Harry said.

"No, it is all right," Mr. Weasley said, "Go on."

"Well, the reason I am asking," Harry said, "Is because I want to know if the Order will use Grimmauld Place or not. I do not want the place. There are too many bad memories for me there. I don’t want to sell it, because Kreacher will never forgive me, and I don’t want to offend the Black Family, even if most of the line of Blacks are dead."

"I will talk to some of the Order members, Harry," Mr. Weasley said.

"Thanks," Harry said. "I will just leave you to your work then. Oh, and Molly said that she wanted you inside. Breakfast is almost ready."

"Tell her I will be inside in a little bit," Mr. Weasley said, disappearing behind the motorcycle again.

"What if she asks me what you are doing?" Harry asked.

"I think she knows what I am doing," Mr. Weasley said, "She will know…"

"All right," Harry said.

"Oh, Harry?" Mr. Weasley said, popping up from behind the motorcycle, "Happy Birthday."

"Thanks," Harry said.

Mr. Weasley smiled and disappeared behind the motorcycle once again. Harry walked out of the barn and back toward the Burrow. When he walked inside, he was nearly tackled to the floor. All he saw was a lot of red hair.

"Happy birthday, Harry!" Ginny said, chuckling.

"Yeah, thanks," Harry said groaning a little, "Couldn’t you have eased up on the tackle?"

"I wasn’t meaning to tackle you!" Ginny said, "Just tried to hug you. Sorry."

"What’s going on?" Ron asked, as he and Hermione we walking down the stairs.

"Ginny… err… doesn’t know her own strength," Harry said, picking himself up off the floor.

"I was just saying Happy Birthday to him," Ginny said.

"What is all the commotion in here?" Mrs. Weasley asked, walking out of the kitchen.

"Nothing," Ginny said, innocently.

"Oh," Mrs. Weasley said, "Well, breakfast is ready. If you want it before it gets cold, you better come get it. Harry, where is Arthur?"

"Er… he will come inside in a little bit," Harry said.

Mrs. Weasley sighed and returned to the kitchen, muttering something about Mr. Weasley.

Over the next few hours, Harry and the others helped Mrs. Weasley set up for Harry’s birthday party. Mr. Weasley decided that it would be better if the usual protections were put on the lot: Muffliato, so that the Muggles wouldn’t hear a big party; as well as other ordinary protection spells. After putting them up, Mr. Weasley assured Harry it was just precautionary measures.

A little after one-o-clock, guests started to arrive on the road outside the property. Bill and Fleur were the first to arrive. For some reason or another, Fleur looked happier than usual. Harry wasn’t the only one who noticed this.

"Did you see Fleur?" Hermione whispered to Harry, Ginny and Ron, who were helping her set up the two tables for the evening’s dinner, "She’s practically glowing."

"She’s always like that," Ron said, "It’s because she is half-Veela."

"I think there is more to it," Hermione said, grinning.

"What do you mean?" Ron asked, with a blank stare.

"You are so thick-headed," Hermione said, "I am not going to tell you. I don’t want to ruin it."

Twenty minutes after Bill and Fleur arrived, George walked down the driveway hand-in-hand with Verity, the clerk from Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes. They walked over to Harry and the others.

"I am going to bring the gifts inside, George," Verity said.

She kissed George on the cheek and walked away. George was practically blushing when both Ginny and Ron chortled.

"So you and Verity, eh?" Ron asked. "When did this happen?"

"I asked her to come to the party," George said, "That is all."

"I don’t believe that one bit," Ginny said, "She kissed you on the cheek. I think something is going on."

"Whatever," George said, though he became redder in the face.

"Fine, don’t tell us," Ron said, "Help us set up these tables."

"No can do, little brother," George said.

"But you will be sitting here tonight!" Ron exclaimed.

"So will Bill," George said, "Ask him."

George stuck out his tongue and walked away.

"Git," Ron muttered, "Still the same ol’ George."

Hagrid was the next to show up. About forty minutes after George and Verity arrived, Hagrid walked down the driveway. He walked inside the Burrow, and Harry could hear his booming voice through the open window.

"Minerva said she might be able ter make it," Hagrid said, "She said she has ter go ta’ London."

"Has she found a new headmaster yet?" Mrs. Weasley asked.

"If she has, she has yet ter tell me," Hagrid said, "Where’s Harry?"

"Outside in the back," Mrs. Weasley said.

A couple of moments later, Hagrid walked out to the back.

"Harry!" Hagrid said, "how are ya doin’?"

"Great, Hagrid," Harry said.

"And the rest o’ ya?" Hagrid asked, looking around at Ginny, Hermione and Ron.

"Great," Ginny, Hermione and Ron all said at once.

"Minerva told me tha’ all four o’ ya are going ter ‘Ogwarts this year" Hagrid said, "Is that right?"

"Yeah," Harry said, "Wanted to finish up our education."

"That’s good," Hagrid said, "Good thing to do."

"Yeah," Harry said.

"I guess ya won’t be taking me class?" Hagrid asked.

"We might, Hagrid," Hermione said, quickly.

"Oh, it’s okay," Hagrid said, "I know you will be busy with the other classes. Well, I am gonna go talk to Arthur. He said he was working on Sirius’ motorcycle. I will see if he needs help."

Hagrid walked away from Harry and the others.

"Hagrid’s right," Hermione said, watching Hagrid walk inside the Burrow. "We probably won’t be taking his class this year."

"We might," echoing Hermione’s words.

"We’d be really busy," Ginny said, "And if I become Quidditch Captain, then… I feel bad doing that to Hagrid, but I won’t have time."

"Yeah," Harry said.

Harry made a silent promise that even if he didn’t take Hagrid’s class, he would spend more time with him. He hadn’t been able to do that lately, and he knew that Hagrid missed the times when Harry and the others spent tea-time in Hagrid’s hut.

A few minutes later, yet another CRACK was heard. Harry and the others went to the front of the burrow. Andromeda was walking down the driveway; Teddy was in her arms.

“Andromeda!” Harry said, “I didn’t know if you were going to make it or not.”

“Oh, the Weasleys asked me to come,” Andromeda said, “I couldn’t miss it for the world, and I thought it might be fun for Teddy.”

“I am sorry I haven’t visited since the last time we talked,” Harry said.

“No trouble at all,” Andromeda said, waving her hand dismissively, “You’re having a busy summer. I understand. Actually, I been having loads of fun with Teddy. He seems to find new ways to amuse me everyday. Oh, how he reminds me of Dora.”

“Yeah,” Harry said, as Teddy’s hair went from brown to red.

“Andromeda!” Mrs. Weasley said, as she walked out the front door, “Welcome! Oh, and look at darling Teddy. He’s changed his hair to Weasley red.”

“Yeah,” Andromeda said, “Would you like to hold him? I would, but er… I got to use the little witch’s room. I meant to before I left, but Teddy just wanted so badly to come now, so…”

“Oh, of course!” Mrs. Weasley said.

She walked over to Andromeda and gently took Teddy from her. Teddy cooed and his hair turned bright green. Harry and the others laughed.

It was five-o-clock and no other guests had arrived yet. The air inside and directly outside of the Burrow smelled of Mrs. Weasley’s delicious cooking. As Harry and the others were helping Mrs. Weasley set the silverware, plates, glasses and food on the table, two more CRACKS were heard. A few moments later, Minerva and Kingsley arrived.

"Kingsley, you made it!" Mr. Weasley said, walking over to the Minister and shaking his hand.

"Yes," Kingsley boomed, "I thought I could take a little break from my ministerial duties and join the festivities. I might have to pop back in the Ministry at any time, though."

"Completely understood," Mr. Weasley said.

"We were just getting ready to eat," Mrs. Weasley said.

"Harry and I were hoping to talk to you about something, Minister," Mr. Weasley whispered. He turned around. "Harry, would you come over here?"

Harry walked over to Mr. Weasley and Kingsley.

"Earlier today, Harry brought up something that he wanted to discuss," Mr. Weasley said, guiding Harry and Kingsley away from the others. "He wanted to know about the status of the Order of the Phoenix."

"Did he now?" Kingsley asked, looking at Harry.

"Yes, sir," Harry said, "You see, I wanted to know because I was thinking about Grimmauld Place. I have no use for it. I don’t really want to sell it.”

“I will think about it,” Kingsley said, “And give you an answer later.”

“Would the Ministry mind?” Mr. Weasley asked, “I mean… it is no secret that the Ministry didn’t like it when they found out about the Order.”

“Arthur, you are forgetting,” Kingsley said, “I am the Minister of Magic.”

“Well, I would hate for you to have to use the Ministerial powers like that,” Mr. Weasley said.

“It is no bother at all,” Kingsley said, “To tell you the truth, I think it is a better idea that the Order stays around. What with all the Death Eaters still on the loose.”

Harry walked away while Kingsley and Mr. Weasley were still in deep discussion. He walked back over to Ginny, and was about to sit down at the table when he heard his name.

“Harry?” Professor McGonagall called, “Can I have a moment with you are your friends?”

“All four of us?” Harry asked, looking around at Ginny, Hermione and Ron.

“Yes, if you please,” McGonagall said.

Harry, Ginny, Hermione and Ron all walked over to Professor McGonagall.

“I wasn’t going to send you these until sometime next week,” McGonagall said, “But since I am here, I thought it would be okay. These are your book lists.”

McGonagall took four envelopes out from under her cloak, and gave one to each Harry and the others.

“Ginny, you will find something extra in your envelope,” McGonagall said.

At this, Ginny quickly opened her envelope. It only took her a minute to find what McGonagall was referring to.

“I am Quidditch Captain?” Ginny asked, looking back at McGonagall, “But I thought… I thought that since Harry was still at Hogwarts…”

“Harry was my second choice,” McGonagall said, “But since you haven’t been Captain yet, I thought I would give you a chance. There is also something else I would like to add. Your mother has said that you were hoping to play professional Quidditch after you finish your education.”

Harry, Ron and Hermione all looked at Ginny, who was only looking at McGonagall.

“Er… yeah, I was thinking about it,” Ginny said.

“Then you may be happy to hear the next part,” McGonagall said, “There is a rumor going around that many Quidditch Players will be going on strike in a couple of years, and the Quidditch teams are preparing for this if it comes up. During the Quidditch games this year at Hogwarts, there will be scouts from different teams in the stands watching the performance of the players. I just thought you might like to know that.”

“Brilliant!” Ginny said, “I gotta go tell Mum.”
Ginny ran away from the group, leaving McGonagall with the others.

“I wanted to talk to the three of you,” McGonagall said. “As you may know, it is rare for any students to be at Hogwarts longer than seven years. Technically, since you never came to Hogwarts for your seventh year of education, that does not apply to you. However, there will be other students who were in your year coming back. Most of these students were at Hogwarts for their seventh year, but because of the conditions of the last term, they will only be there for half of a term. Therefore, there will be two times that the N.E.W.T exams will be available to be taken. Now, while you could possibly be there for two terms, it is possible that you will be able to take the first exams. At the end of the first term, if you feel that you are ready to take the tests, then just tell me. Do you understand?”

Harry and the others nodded.

“Good,” McGonagall said, “Also, I have unfortunately as of yet to get a new Headmaster. But I have faith that we will get one. As Deputy Headmistress, I do not have the power to choose Head Boy and Girl. While it may be unfair to the other seventh years, you will have a chance to be Head Boy and Girl. It will be up to the Headmaster, or Headmistress, when they are chosen. I just wanted to inform you of that.”

Professor McGonagall walked away from them. Before Harry or the others could say anything, Mrs. Weasley came outside and announced that dinner was ready. Everyone sat down at the tables; Ginny walked over and sat down next to Harry, while Ron and Hermione sat on the other side.

“So what did Kingsley want?” Hermione asked, while she put a turkey leg and some mashed potatoes on her plate.

“What?” Harry asked.

“Weren’t you talking to him?” Ron asked, before taking a large bite from his turkey leg.

“Oh, yeah,” Harry said, “Well, I was just wondering if the Order was still going to be together.”

“Why?” Hermione asked, “You weren’t thinking of joining?”

“Oh, no, not yet,” Harry said, surprised from the question; he hadn’t even thought of joining lately. “No, I was wondering if they wanted to use Grimmauld Place. I have no reason to use it. I don’t want it. It’s just… I would hate for it to be empty. Especially if Kreacher stays there. I don’t want him to go back to the way he was… you know… mean and uncaring. But if Grimmauld Place isn’t going to be used, then…”

“You aren’t talking about selling it?” Ginny asked.

“I don’t want to sell it,” Harry said, “It would be like offending the Black Family or something.”

“What would Kreacher do?” Ron asked.

“He could work at Hogwarts,” Hermione suggested.

“Hadn’t thought about that,” Harry said.

“Well, he could do that,” Ginny said, “And… well, if the Order doesn’t stay together, then… well, we can think of something later.”

“Yeah,” Harry said, “I guess that would work.”

Harry continued to eat, and while he did, his mind went from Grimmauld Place to his parents’ vault in Grimmauld Place. He wanted to go there sometime soon. But when? Now that they had their Hogwarts school-lists, would Mrs. Weasley want to go to Diagon Alley sometime soon? Or would he have to go alone?

Suddenly, a light dinging sound broke Harry’s concentration. At the other end of the table, Bill had stood up.

“I have an announcement to make,” he said, “Harry, I hope you will not think of this as an intrusion of your birthday party.”

“No, not at all, Bill,” Harry said.

"I have some good news,” Bill said. He paused, as if deciding whether to make the announcement or not. Then he continued. “Mum, Dad - you are going to be grandparents. Fleur and I are having a baby!"

Around the table, a roar of cheers and voices of congratulations were heard. Mrs. Weasley stood up with tears in her eyes and hugged Bill, then Fleur.

“How long have you known?” Mrs. Weasley asked Fleur.

“A month or so,” Fleur said, “Bill thinks it iz pretty accurate. But you cannot tell by looking at me, can you? It is cause of my slim physique.”

“Her physique isn’t going to be slim for long,” Ginny muttered, so only that Harry could hear.

Harry chuckled silently.

“Though I must admit that I am surprised it took this long,” Ginny whispered to Harry, “They’ve been married nearly a year, haven’t they?”

“Yeah,” Harry said.

A few minutes later, everyone had finished dinner, and Mr. Weasley summoned most of the presents; the motorcycle was still in the barn. Harry opened Ginny’s first, only because she practically begged him to. It was a pendant. Harry opened it up. A moving picture of a laughing Ginny was inside. This turned out to be Harry’s favorite present of all. Mrs. Weasley gave Harry the usual homemade mince pies and candy. George and Verity gave Harry a gift-basket of the usual joke-shop goodies. Ron gave Harry dragon-leather Quidditch Gloves, which incidentally came from Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes (George said that they were a new line of products and they were not tricky whatsoever). Hermione’s present was a new journal which screamed whenever someone else opened it. Bill and Fleur gave Harry a goblin-wrought bracelet (“We were trying to get your sword back, Harry,” Bill said, “but Griphook wouldn’t give it to us!”). Hagrid gave Harry a fur coat (Hagrid couldn’t remember what it was made of). Andromeda gave Harry a book called Quidditch Through The Ages: The Future of Quidditch… which happened to be the sequel to the original book. Professor McGonagall gave Harry a book entitled “Tips for Advanced Transfiguration” (“This is a rare book,” she said, “I can’t find many of them, but the tips are very helpful!”). Kingsley said his present wasn’t finished yet, but Harry would get it soon.

Finally Mr. Weasley magically summoned the motorcycle from the barn.

“Molly and I thought that you might want this the most,” Mr. Weasley said, “It is rightfully yours. Don’t know if you fancy riding it or not, after what happened the last time you were on it.”

“Actually, ‘at might have bin me own fault,” Hagrid said, chuckling nervously.

“But we thought you might like to have it anyway,” Mr. Weasley said.

“Thanks,” Harry said, smiling.

The party went on for thirty more minutes until the guests started to leave. Bill and Fleur were the last to leave, after having a conversation with Mrs. Weasley. Mrs. Weasley mainly told Fleur what to expect with her pregnancy (“Having had seven kids,” she said, “I guess you could call me an expert!”)

It was nearly eleven-o-clock when Harry and Ginny walked up the stairs to go to bed. Ron and Hermione had gone upstairs some time before, but Harry wasn’t sure if Hermione had actually gone to Ginny’s room.

“Do you like my present?” Ginny asked, putting her arms around Harry and nodding to the pendant, which was around Harry’s neck.

“I love it,” Harry said.

“Good,” Ginny said, “Do you want my other present?”

“What is it?” Harry asked.

“This,” Ginny said.

She kissed him directly on the lips, and Harry returned the kiss. She opened her mouth, inviting Harry’s tongue in. He accepted the invitation with pleasure.

“I think that might have been my favorite present of the night,” Harry said, chuckling, after coming up for air a few seconds later.

Ginny smiled and her cheeks went red.

“Good night, Harry,” she said.

“Good night,” Harry said.

Ginny smiled and walked into her room. Harry went down the stairs to his room. He changed into his pajamas and went to bed.

“Eighteen,” Harry thought to himself, “Doesn’t seem too different to seventeen.”

Harry chuckled and fell asleep.

Another chapter done! This was definitely my longest chapter so far. Oh, Kingsley’s present isn’t a normal gift. It will come later. Not sure when… but it will come. Also, I was trying to go by canon when thinking of Fleur’s pregnancy. Hope it was the right time, canon-wise.

Hope you liked the chapter.

Feedback would be great!

October 9th, 2007, 5:42 pm
Chapter 15
No Title

Author’s Note: The only reason I have no title in this chapter is because I do not want to chance revealing any spoilers before you read the chapter. On another note, I am sorry this took so long to write. I have been busy these past few days.

The best thing about Professor McGonagall handing out the booklists to Harry, Ron, Hermione and Ginny early is that the annual trip to Diagon Alley for school supplies would come on an earlier day this year: the first Saturday of August, according to Mrs. Weasley.

Harry was pleased to hear this because it meant that he would finally get an answer to the question he had in his mind for a while: what is in his parents’ old vault? Ever since he turned eighteen on Wednesday, the days leading up to the Diagon Alley visit seemed to go as slow as molasses. He had chosen only to reveal the contents of his mother’s letter to Ginny, Ron and Hermione, so it wasn’t uncommon for Mrs. Weasley to ask Harry if he was sick. Harry tried to keep cheerful while waiting. Three days seemed to go slower than the two months or more he had to wait each year to return to Hogwarts. For a normal person, his actions may seem insane, but he felt perfectly normal to feel this way.

On Friday, the day before the trip to Diagon Alley, Harry’s actions did not go unnoticed…

Harry was sitting outside on the bench-swing near the Weasley’s garden, staring at the light-blue and cloudless summer sky. He was so lost in his thoughts about the content of the vault; he didn’t even hear Ron the first time he called Harry’s name.

“Harry!” Ron said, a little louder than normal “Can you hear me?”

“What?” Harry said, looking up at Ron, “Oh, hey Ron. What’s up?”

“I was getting bored,” Ron said, “I am going to go swimming in the lake, and Hermione and Ginny are going with me. Want to come?”

“Maybe later,” Harry said.

“You aren’t still thinking about your parents’ old vault, are you?” Ron asked.

“No,” Harry lied.

“Harry, you aren’t a good liar,” Ron said.

“So what if I am thinking about it?” Harry said, loudly, “How would you feel if there was a vault in Gringott’s that was yours and you didn’t know about it? I was supposed to know about it at age eleven, Ron!”

“Hmm,” Ron said, thoughtfully, “Would the vault have a load of gold?”

Harry rolled his eyes.

“I am only joking, Harry,” Ron said, “I don’t know how I would feel.”

“If I didn’t know that we were going tomorrow,” Harry said, “I’d probably go right now.”

“Don’t you think you are taking this the wrong way?” Ron asked, “I mean… truthfully. What if you expect something to be in the vault and it isn’t there? I mean… what do you expect to be there?”

Harry was about to speak up, thinking that he had an answer. He sighed, realizing he didn’t know what to expect.

“See?” Ron asked, “Don’t put your hopes up too high. When something like that happens, it tends to come crashing down. I kind of speak from experience, mate.”

“I just want to know, Ron,” Harry said, “That is all. I mean… I don’t know what to expect. I just hope it gives me more answers than questions about my parents.”

“Yeah, well,” Ron said, “Don’t think too hard, mate. If you get around to it shortly, come swim with us. The girls would appreciate it I am sure.”

“One of them would anyway,” Harry said, chortling.

“I heard that, Potter,” Ron said.

Harry just chuckled. Ron walked away, leaving Harry to his thoughts.

Early on Saturday morning, Harry woke up and dressed in a hurry. He walked downstairs. Mr. and Mrs. Weasley were the only ones up. Mr. Weasley was reading the Daily Prophet. Mrs. Weasley was making eggs and pancakes.

“Good morning, Harry,” she said, looking up from the pancake batter she was mixing, “You are up early.”

“Am I?” Harry said, looking around at the clock, only to remember that it wasn’t a regular clock.

“Yeah,” Mrs. Weasley said, “It isn’t even seven yet.”

“Oh,” Harry said, holding back a yawn.

“Did you sleep well?” Mrs. Weasley asked, “You still look tired.”

“I am fine, Mrs. Weasley,” Harry lied, hoping that Mrs. Weasley wouldn’t see around it.

Truthfully, Harry didn’t get much sleep that night. Dreams wove in and out of his mind all night. Harry thought he would be happy to have different dreams than those of Voldemort and death, but these dreams just affected him the same. The one dream he could remember affected him the most. He had gone to Gringott’s bank and found his vault. When he was there, he tried to open the vault, and it wouldn’t open for him. When he tried again, it sucked him into the vault… and that was when he woke up.

Hoping it would change the subject, Harry walked over to the table and sat down.

“Anything interesting in the Daily Prophet today?” Harry asked Mr. Weasley.

“By ‘interesting’, I assume you mean something to do with the Death Eaters,” Mr. Weasley said behind the Prophet.

“Er… yeah,” Harry said.

“I thought as much,” Mr. Weasley said, “And no, Harry, there is nothing in here about Death Eaters.”

Harry sighed. This caused Mr. Weasley to put the Prophet down and look at him.

“Sounds like you were hoping for something, Harry,” he said, “Is this true?”

“Well,” Harry said, “Tell me this: have you seen anything in the Prophet about the Death Eater incident in the United States?”

“No,” Mr. Weasley said.

“Exactly,” Harry said.

“Harry,” Mr. Weasley, “Please don’t think that the Ministry would hide this from the wizarding world. It’s a changed place with Kingsley at the helm. I assure you.”

“Then how do you explain it?” Harry asked, “I mean… I was a witness.”

“Did you ever think,” Mr. Weasley said, “That they are trying to hide it so that the other Death Eaters don’t find out?”

“But Rowle escaped,” Harry said, “Don’t you think that he would tell the Death Eaters?”

“I can see where you are going with this, Harry,” Mr. Weasley said, “There are some things in the Ministry that have to stay silent.”

“But you said the Ministry has changed,” Harry said.

“Change takes time, Harry,” Mrs. Weasley said.

“Molly’s right,” Mr. Weasley said.

“I guess,” Harry said, though unsatisfied. “Any news about Hogwarts?”

“The Hogwarts letters went out to everyone today,” Mr. Weasley said, “Seems like they are expecting a load of students this year.”

“Including the Slytherins?” Harry muttered.

“Seems so,” Mr. Weasley said, “You seem unhappy about that.”

“You were at Hogwarts during the Final Battle,” Harry said, “You saw what happened. The Slytherins turned on us. Just like Professor McGonagall predicted. How do you know they won’t do it again?”

“You’re judging them on the history of their house, Harry,” Mr. Weasley said, “I happen to think they will turn a new leaf.”

“We’ll see,” Harry said.

A minute later, Ginny walked down the stairs and over to the table. She sat next to Harry.

“Good morning, Ginny,” Mrs. Weasley said, “Sleep well?”

“Yes, mum,” Ginny said.

“I was about to go upstairs and see if you all were awake,” Mrs. Weasley said.

“Oh, no need, Mum,” Ginny said, “Hermione is awake. She went up to Ron’s room to wake him up.”

Harry could tell by Ginny’s voice that she thought Hermione might have been doing more with Ron than waking him up.

“Well, he better wake up soon,” Mrs. Weasley said, looking toward the stairs, “I want to leave for Diagon Alley shortly after breakfast. I expect that it will be pretty busy so I want to get there early. Do you two have your booklists ready?”

“Yes, mum,” Ginny said.

Mrs. Weasley started serving food to everyone. A minute later, Ron and Hermione both walked down the stairs. They both sat down in chairs across the table from Ginny and Harry.

“Good morning, you two,” Mrs. Weasley said, serving them each a plate, “Sleep well?”

“Yes, Mrs. Weasley,” Hermione said.

“Yeah, I guess,” Ron muttered.

“Something wrong?” Mrs. Weasley asked.

“No,” Ron said, “I just wish I got more sleep.”

“Well, you don’t have to come with us today,” Mrs. Weasley said.

“No, I want to,” Ron said, “I would have felt better with a few more minutes of sleep, that’s all. But Hermione had to come in and wake me up.”

“Should have locked your door,” Ginny said.

“Hermione would have probably found a way to unlock it anyway,” Harry said, chortling.

Hermione just grinned.

Ten minutes to eight, after Harry and Ron both had to run upstairs to retrieve their booklists, and Harry had to get the key to his parents’ vault, Harry, Hermione and the four Weasleys were all in front of the fireplace.

“Now remember,” Mrs. Weasley said to Harry, as she handed him some Floo Powder, “Speak ‘Diagon Alley’ nice and clearly now.”

“He knows, Mum,” Ron said, groaning, “He is practically an expert at this stuff now.”

“Thanks, Mrs. Weasley,” Harry said, taking the Floo Powder.

He walked into the fireplace and dropped the Floo Powder.

“Diagon Alley!” he said loudly.

Harry felt the usual twisting and turning as he spun around, seeing only blurs of other fireplaces. A few seconds later, he landed with a thud on the hard floor. He walked out into the cloud of dust and soot and waited for it to clear. A moment later, he recognized the pub of the Leaky Cauldron. He walked out of the way and just seconds after he did, Ginny walked out of the fireplace. Over the next couple of minutes, Hermione and the other three Weasleys joined them.

“All right,” Mrs. Weasley said, wiping off soot from her dress, “Let’s see. I think we should go to –“

“Molly, dear,” Mr. Weasley said, “If we are going to get Ginny’s presents for her birthday, we all can’t go together. We can all split up.”

“Sp-split up?” Mrs. Weasley said, looking a bit frightened at the thought, “Oh, well…”

“We’ll be fine, Mum,” Ginny said.

“Well,” Mrs. Weasley said, “I guess…”

“I think it is a fine idea,” Mr. Weasley said, “All right, let’s see…”

Mr. Weasley gave Ron and Ginny both some money, and then walked out of the Leaky Cauldron with Mrs. Weasley.

“I guess we will split up too,” Ron said.

“Yeah, I’ll go with Harry,” Ginny said, “We need to go to Gringott’s. Have fun.”

Before Ron could say anything else, Ginny and Harry walked out of the Leaky Cauldron. They walked through the already open archway, through which Mr. and Mrs. Weasley had walked through moments before. Diagon Alley was already crowded. Young children were being escorted by their parents through the busy street and stores; most of them were begging for this and that. Harry just hoped he could stay as blended in with the crowd as possible. Up until now he had totally forgotten that he was still going to be known as the boy who brought down the most evil wizard of all time.

As Harry walked toward Gringott’s with Ginny, there was also one other thing that he had totally forgotten about. The last time he had been in Gringott’s, he, Ron and Hermione had escaped on a dragon after breaking in to a vault and escaping goblins and wizards. The hole in the roof could still be seen through the boards that were lamely attempted to board it up. Harry wondered why it wasn’t fixed using magic. Apparently he wasn’t the only one who wondered that.

“Wicked!” Ginny said, “Was that the part where you escaped on that dragon?”

“Er, yeah,” Harry muttered, “Can we not talk about that now? We are about to go in there!”

“What are you so worried about?” Ginny asked.

“The goblins are going to remember me, of course,” Harry said, “Maybe this was a bad idea.”

“Oh, they will get over it,” Ginny said, waving a hand dismissively.

Harry wasn’t too sure about that. Cautiously he walked with Ginny up to the guards, who used their Probity Probe as a precaution and let the two through. As he walked in, Harry swore he saw the guard look back at him. But how could the guard know it was him? Was he one of the ones that was there that day? Did he see Harry?

“Don’t worry,” Ginny whispered, “You are the man who defeated Voldemort! They’ll forgive you.”

“Uh-huh,” Harry muttered, looking around.

Harry and Ginny walked up to one of the goblins.

“What can I do for you?” the goblin said politely.

“Hello,” Harry said, “I would like to get into a vault, but I don’t know where it is. All I know is who it was owned by and I have the key.”

“Hmm,” the goblin said, “And who is the owner of this vault?”

“Technically, I guess it is now mine,” Harry said, “But it was owned by my parents, James and Lily Potter.”

The goblin’s eyes went larger.

“One moment please,” he said, and he walked away.

“What was that about?” Ginny asked.

“I have no idea,” Harry said.

The goblin returned with another goblin.

“This is him, Yellowfoot,” the goblin said.

Yellowfoot looked at Harry.

“You asked to get into the Potter’s vault?” he said.

“Yes,” Harry said.

“Cleaver, here, said that you own it now?” Yellowfoot asked.

“Yeah,” Harry said.

“But you don’t know the number?” Yellowfoot asked.

“No, but I have the key,” Harry said.

He quickly fished inside the pocket of his jeans and found the key. He took it out and placed it on the counter.

“Hmm,” Yellowfoot said, “It looks right. Cleaver, get the package.”

“The Clankers?” Harry asked, “Are we going that far?”

Yellowfoot looked back at Harry as Cleaver left.

“No,” he said, “It’s another package. Something for you.”

“For me?” Harry asked.

“Yes,” Yellowfoot said, “It was requested that if someone asked to get into the vault, and they had the key, that we were supposed to give them this.”

Cleaver returned with a brown envelope.

“Inside is a letter,” Yellowfoot said, as Cleaver handed the envelope to Harry, “Do not open it until you get inside the vault. Understand?”

“Yes,” Harry said.

“Good,” Yellowfoot said, handing the key back to Harry, “Come with me. Miss ginger, here, can come too if you wish.”

Before Ginny could even let out a scowl, Yellowfoot was leading her and Harry toward the carts. Moments later, Harry, Ginny and the goblin were in a cart. The card sped down the tracks, deeper and deeper underground. Harry wondered where this vault could possibly be. Harry knew the vault could be opened by a key, so it couldn’t go that far. A few minutes later, the cart stopped.

“Vault seven hundred and thirty one,” Yellowfoot said.

“We are this deep down?” Harry asked, “I mean… I have been here before. These vaults don’t open with keys.”

“True… mostly,” Yellowfoot said, “Come with me.”

Harry and Ginny followed Yellowfoot out of the cart.

“Key please,” Yellowfoot said.

Harry handed the key to Yellowfoot.

“Stand back, please,” Yellowfoot said.

Harry and Ginny backed up.

Yellowfoot put his boney little finger up against the vault. Suddenly, a racketing sound started up and the vault door opened up… only to reveal one more door.

“What?” Harry asked.

“This is where the key comes in,” Yellowfoot said.

He put the key into the lock, which Harry had only just seen. The door opened.

“You two may go in,” Yellowfoot said, “I will wait here.”

Harry and Ginny both walked in. Harry’s jaw dropped the moment he entered the vault. The vault was twice the size of Harry’s vault. Furniture and other goodies for a home were placed all around the vault.

“Harry,” Ginny said.

“I know,” Harry said, “Look at it.”

“No, not what I meant,” Ginny said, “What about the envelope?”

“Oh… right,” Harry said.

Harry had almost forgotten about the envelope, though it was in his right hand all along. He opened up the envelope and reached his hand in, pulling out a small piece of parchment. Harry read it:


If you are reading this, you are now in your new vault. Everything you see is yours. All of this stuff used to be ours. If you have yet to notice it, there is also a trunk near the front of the vault. Inside is our last gift to you. May you use it well.



Harry looked around and found a large brown trunk sitting on a chair. He walked over to it and opened it. A stack of parchment was clearly seen on top.

“What is it?” Ginny asked, walking over to Harry.

Harry didn’t respond; his mouth was dry as his eyes looked at the top piece of parchment: there was one single large word above a lot of small words. The word read “Deed”.

Harry picked up the piece of parchment, and quietly read through it, muttering words to himself.

“What is that?” Ginny asked.

“It is a deed,” Harry said.

“What?” Ginny asked.

“Yeah, listen,” Harry said, “It says ‘Upon my death, I, James Potter, sign this deed over to my son, Harry James Potter. This deed is for the house at 311 Kensington Lane in London, England. It was once owned by my mother and father, and was given to me on the day of their death.’ I guess I own another house.”

“What?” Ginny asked again.

“This is what she meant,” Harry said, looking around at all the houseware and furniture, “My mother. My parents wanted me to be able to live a good life. This is what they meant.”

“Wow,” Ginny said.

She walked over to the other side of the vault, where portraits were hanging on the wall.

“Who do you reckon these are?” she asked, “Your relatives?”

“Maybe,” Harry said, distracted.

Harry’s attention was not on Ginny. He had just noticed something else A small wooden box was laying on it’s side inside the trunk. Harry picked it up, and opened it. Harry gasped silently. There was a bunch of jewelry inside: necklaces and bracelets. There was also a small box. Harry took it out and opened it. Laying inside was a ring with a diamond encrusted into it. There were also words etched in the inner part of the ring. He squinted at the words: “To the love of my life.” Was this Lily’s wedding ring?

“What are you looking at?” Ginny asked.

“Nothing!” Harry said quickly, shutting the box.

“Oh,” Ginny said, “Well, look at this. Isn’t this wonderful? This is all yours.”

“Yeah,” Harry said, “All mine.”

Though he wasn’t looking at the stuff. Harry was thinking about that ring. There was a reason it was inside the vault. It wasn’t with his mother at the time of her death. Harry thought about the words his mother had written. I want you to have a nice whole life. Harry grinned. Everything in this vault was a promise to Harry that he would have a nice life. Harry looked at Ginny.

“Everything in this vault,” Harry muttered to himself.

Well, I hope you liked the chapter! Yes, I wanted to end it there. If you are smart, you will know what Harry meant at the very end!

Feedback would be welcomed!

October 12th, 2007, 5:17 pm
Chapter 16

Author’s Note: I am going to be doing something in this chapter that I have never done before. There will be three different Points-Of-View (POV) in one chapter. So it won’t be too confusing, I will name at the beginning of each part who’s POV it will be. I am basically splitting this chapter into three parts.

(Ron’s POV – Ten minutes before the last chapter ended)

“What do you think we should get Ginny for her birthday, Ron?” Hermione asked, “It is her seventeenth, so it is pretty special.”

“I am not the right person to ask that, Hermione,” Ron said.

“Rubbish,” Hermione said, “You give good presents.”

Ron and Hermione were walking down the busy cobbled street of Diagon Alley, trying to avoid running into the other witches and wizards that were walking in and out of different shops. Just when he was about to give up and suggest that they shop for their school supplies, Ron noticed Quality Quidditch Supplies to his left.

“Maybe we should have gotten something for her in Australia,” Hermione said, “But I was too worried to even think about --- Ron? Where are you going? Oh, wait for me!”

Ron walked into the Quality Quidditch Supplies store and was looking at the Quidditch gear when Hermione caught up to him.

“You want to give her something to do with Quidditch?” she asked him.

“She’s the captain of the Gryffindor team, Hermione,” Ron said, “I think it’s the right idea.”

“Well, I guess,” Hermione said, “I was thinking about getting her a basket full of small stuff.”

“Ugh, that is so girly!” Ron said.

“She is a girl, Ronald,” Hermione said.

“Right,” Ron said, looking through the gloves and apparel. “Well, you can get her what you want. I am going to get her something from here. Hmm… what do you think about gloves? Well, I got those for Harry, so maybe not.”

“I wonder what Harry and Ginny are doing,” Hermione said, in a bored voice.

“Didn’t Harry say he wanted to go to his parents’ old vault?” Ron asked, “Hmm, I wonder if Ginny needs a new broom polishing kit. They have that new deluxe package. It is supposed to be the choice of the Quidditch World Cup this year. Yeah, I will get her that.”

Ron and Hermione walked to the shelves one row over. Ron instantly spotted the Deluxe Broom Polishing Kit. There was only one left.

“Wow!” Ron said, excited, picking it up, “Last one. Lucky, eh?”

“Yeah, I guess,” Hermione said, annoyed, “I wonder if Harry found the vault yet.”

“He probably did,” Ron said.

“You don’t think the goblins would be annoyed with him,” Hermione asked in a worried tone, “After what we did?”

“Don’t worry, love,” Ron said, as he walked with her to the counter. “I bet he’s fine. He’s got my sister with him. She’d probably hex the goblins if they treated Harry badly.” He turned to the witch at the counter. “Yeah, I want to buy this.”

The witch smiled and took the broom polishing kit from Ron.

“Ten Galleons, please,” she said.

“Ten Galleons?” Ron groaned, taking out his money pouch and emptying it. “That is almost all my money gone. Ginny better like this thing. Lucky Mum and Dad are paying for my books. I will just have enough to get my potions supplies.”

“Are you going to take potions?” Hermione asked.

“I have to,” Ron said, as he paid for the kit, “If I am going to get the job I want.”

“What is that?” Hermione asked.

“Well, I have my mind set on being an Auror with Harry,” Ron said.

“Really?” Hermione asked.

“Yeah,” Ron said, “I mean… I don’t want to end up working for George, do I?”

Hermione just chuckled. The witch put the kit in a bag and handed it to Ron, who then left the store with Hermione.

“Say, how about we go visit George?” Hermione asked.

“I thought you wanted to get things for that basket for Ginny,” Ron said.

“I might be able to find a few things in George’s shop,” Hermione said, “Come on.”

Ron and Hermione walked down the cobbled street toward Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes. The store was definitely the busiest one in Diagon Alley. Ron wasn’t surprised to see that the store hadn’t lost its magical, yet comical, touch. Things were buzzing, beeping, spinning and squeaking in the window display. Little children would pull away from their mother or father’s grip to look and laugh at the display.

“George definitely hasn’t lost his touch,” Ron said, chuckling, as he followed Hermione into the store.

“Ron, Hermione!” a familiar female voice said, “Welcome!”

Ron looked over at the counter, where he saw Verity.

“Looking for George?” she asked, as Ron and Hermione walked over to her.

“Yeah,” Ron said, “Know where he is?”

“Sorry, but he is not here,” Verity said.

“What?” Ron asked, “Where is he?”

“Somewhere in Ireland,” Verity said, “Zonko’s headquarters are there. He is trying to buy them out. He sent an owl to me earlier today. He won’t be coming back until the Zonko’s CEO gives in to his demands. So what are you doing here?”

“Buying birthday gifts for Ginny,” Ron said, “As well as our school supplies.”

“Oh yes, George told me you are going back to Hogwarts,” Verity said, “If everything works out, Zonko’s might have had a makeover by the time you go into Hogsmeade. So Ginny’s birthday is coming up?”

“Yeah, on the eleventh,” Ron said, “But she doesn’t want a big party. She never does.”

“Have you seen Ginny around?” Hermione asked Verity, “She’d probably be with Harry.”

“Nope, I can’t say I have,” Verity said.

“Must not have come down this way yet,” Hermione said, “Oh I almost forgot. I wanted to see if I could find some stuff for Ginny here.”

“Just don’t get the daydream thing,” Ron warned.

Hermione just chuckled and walked over toward the nearest shelf. Ron turned back to Verity.

“So how long have you and George been a pair?” he asked her.

“I don’t know what you are talking about,” Verity said, though her cheeks went pink. “Why? What has George been telling you?”

“He just says you two have been on a few dates in the past couple of weeks,” Ron said.

“Fine,” Verity said, “If you want to know… yes, we are a couple.”

“I knew it,” Ron said, grinning.

“Though, I have been thinking lately,” Verity said, her voice going lower. “Don’t tell him this, Ron. Promise me.”

“Fine, I promise,” Ron said, only because he was eager to know what she had to say.

“Lately George seems like he is trying to forget about Fred,” Verity said, nodding to the big picture of Fred behind her, “It might be okay to not think about him too much. But to forget him all together?”

“And you don’t want to confront him about this?” Ron asked.

“Not yet,” Verity said, “I just don’t know what he would say. You know your brother better than I do. He is normally the cheery type. But I always see him avoiding Fred’s picture.”

“But this store,” Ron said, “It looks cheery. George must be feeling better to keep this store like this.”

“It is my doing, Ron,” Verity admitted, “All of this. I am the one who is keeping the store so cheery.”

“Oh,” Ron said.

“Don’t tell George, Ron,” Verity said again, “Please.”

“Don’t worry,” Ron said, “I won’t.”

“Thank you,” Verity said.

At that moment, Ron’s parents entered the store.

“Oh, hi, dear,” Mrs. Weasley said. “We thought you might be in here. Where’s the others?”

“Hermione’s around here picking out a few things for Ginny,” Ron said.

“Where are Ginny and Harry,” Mrs. Weasley asked.

“They haven’t come down this far,” Ron said.

“Well, we should find them,” Mrs. Weasley said, “I want to get your school supplies. Oh, there you are, Hermione.”

Hermione had re-emerged from the aisles with four or five goodies in hand. She bought the things and Ron walked with her and his parents out of the store.

(Harry’s POV – Wednesday – 4 days before Ginny’s birthday)

Harry had left Diagon Alley with more than just his new school supplies. He didn’t have to buy a gift for Ginny, because he had found something more special than anything he could buy at Diagon Alley. Harry had concealed some of the contents he had found in the trunk at his parent’s vault (the jewelry box, as well as a few of the more important documents including the deed to his grandfather’s house) in his bags that had contained his purchases from Diagon Alley.

Ever since he had returned from Diagon Alley the previous Saturday, Harry had ventured up to his bedroom to look through the documents and the jewelry box. He had thought a lot about what to give Ginny for her birthday, knowing that he wanted to give her something that was in the jewelry box.

He had already planned to reserve a table at a restaurant for Ginny and himself for dinner on Ginny’s birthday. He had talked to Mrs. Weasley on Tuesday about this, and she said it was a wonderful idea, and decided that the family celebration would be an afternoon lunch.

Harry had thought a lot about the jewelry. He knew that this was probably once owned by his mother, and was sure that she would be happy that he was going to give one of the things to Ginny. But what to give her? A voice in Harry’s mind said to give her the ring. But he vowed that that particular moment in time would have to wait. If he had even mentioned to anyone about proposing to Ginny at this moment in time, well… he didn’t want to think about that. Even Hermione would tell him to wait for a while… especially until after they left Hogwarts.

On Wednesday afternoon, while sitting on the bench swing with Ginny near the Weasley’s garden, Harry had finally decided what to give to Ginny for her birthday. His mind was so busy thinking about the gift, he had forgotten that he was talking to Ginny.

“Harry?” Ginny said, prodding Harry in the shoulder, “Are you okay?”

“Hmm?” Harry said, snapping out of his thoughts, “Oh, yeah.”

“Well, don’t get mad at me for saying this,” Ginny said, “But I have been hearing rumors.”

“About what?” Harry asked.

“You are planning something special for my birthday,” Ginny said.

“Oh yeah,” Harry said, “Where did you hear that from?”

“Around,” Ginny said.

“There is only one person who I can think of,” Harry said.

“Okay, okay,” Ginny said, “Mum was telling me that she was planning a lunch party for my birthday and I asked why it wasn’t going to be a dinner. She said that I am going to be too busy for one. Would you know why?”

Harry didn’t answer. Ginny just grinned.

“Well?” she said, “What do you have to say to that?”

“I have to say that you are just a bit nosy,” Harry said.

“So?” Ginny said, innocently.

“So,” Harry said, sighing, “Maybe it was meant to be a surprise.”

“I don’t know where you are taking me, do I?” Ginny said, grinning, “Technically it can still be a surprise.”

“Honestly, I don’t know where I am taking you,” Harry said, chuckling.

Ginny hit Harry playfully in the shoulder.

“Ow!” Harry groaned, “What was that for?”

“No reason,” Ginny said, grinning.

“Well, I guess it was better than a Bat-Bogey Hex,” Harry said.

“I would never make you suffer through that,” Ginny said.

“Really?” Harry asked.

“Really,” Ginny said, “Maybe Ron. Maybe. But not you.”

Harry just grinned. Ginny chuckled, and as she did, Harry’s mind returned to the jewelry box where Ginny’s would-be gift was laying. But which one, Harry didn’t have the faintest idea.

“I will be back,” he said, standing up, “I got to use the little wizard’s room.”

Harry quickly walked back into the Burrow and up toward his bedroom. He walked into the room and over to his bed. He got down to his hands and knees and reached under his bed, then pulled out the wooden jewelry box. He put the box on the bed and opened it. He rummaged through the silver and gold necklaces and bracelets, and a moment later he felt something that didn’t feel anything like a piece of jewelry. He pulled it out and looked at it. It was a key.

“What is this doing in here?” Harry muttered to himself.

He rummaged through the jewelry box again to look for any other things that weren’t jewelry, but couldn’t find anything. He looked back at the key, then suddenly the deed was pictured in his mind.

“Of course,” Harry said, grinning, “It’s the key to the house. No better place to put it than the jewelry box I guess.”

As he put the key back in the box, his eyesight went to a silver necklace. He took it out. At the end of the necklace was half of a heart. Was it meant to look like this, or was there another piece. Again, Harry rummaged through the box, but didn’t find anything that looked as if it would connect to the other piece.

“Maybe there isn’t one,” Harry muttered.

He looked back down at the necklace. This, he decided, was the gift he would give to Ginny for her birthday.

(Ginny’s POV – August 11th – Ginny’s seventeenth birthday)


“Go away,” Ginny muttered, turning over in her bed, “I am sleeping.”

“Hmm?” Hermione said, sleepily.


“Wassat?” Hermione muttered.

“I don’t know,” Ginny said, her eyes remaining closed, “But if it is Ron at the door, tell him to go away.”

“It’s not at the door, Gin,” Hermione said, “You have a visitor.”

“Hmm?” Ginny asked, sitting up.

Hermione sleepily pointed to the window. Ginny looked across the room. An owl was perched on the windowsill.

“Let it in, will ya?” Ginny asked.

Hermione stood up from her cot and opened the window. The owl flew over to Ginny’s bedpost.

“What do you got for me?” Ginny asked, untying the envelope from the owl’s leg.

“Might be a present,” Hermione suggested.

“I don’t think so,” Ginny said, “It’s from the Ministry.”

“Oh,” Hermione said, “Open it. I might know what it is.”

Ginny opened the envelope and took out the piece of parchment. She unfolded it and read.

“What does it say?” Hermione asked.

“Just that I am now permitted to use legally use magic outside of Hogwarts,” Ginny said, “But to be careful around Muggles and to use magic wisely.”

“I thought it might be that,” Hermione said, “I got one last September.”

“Great,” Ginny said, “I’m going back to sleep.” She turned to the owl. “You may go.

The owl flew out the window, and Ginny laid her head back down on the pillow. Suddenly, there was knock on the door.

“Ugh, now what?” Ginny said, putting her blanket over her head, “Can’t I have peace on my birthday!”

Hermione chuckled and walked to the door.

“Oh, good morning, Ron,” Hermione’s voice said, “Come to wish a happy birthday to Ginny?”

“Oh, right, it is her birthday, isn’t it,” Ron said.

“Very funny,” Ginny muttered under her blanket.

“What’s wrong with her?” Ron asked.

“I’m tired, Ron!” Ginny said, “I was rudely awakened by an owl!”

“Are you awake yet?” Ron asked Hermione.

“No,” Hermione said in a sarcastic, annoyed tone, “I am still in bed asleep. Yeah, I’m awake.”

“Hermione, just go to his room,” Ginny said, sighing, “I know you want to.”

Hermione scoffed and Ron chuckled.

“I’m not dressed yet, Ronald,” Hermione said.

“Well, then get dressed,” Ron said, “Then will you come up?”

“Fine,” Hermione said, sighing.

Ginny heard the bedroom door shut. She pulled the blanket down from her head. Hermione was walking back over to her cot; Ginny noticed that she was blushing.

“It is no secret what you do when Harry and I can’t find you,” Ginny said, "We know what you do."

“No, you just think you do,” Hermione said, sitting down on the cot, “Both you and Ron know full well that nothing like that would go on while your mum is in the house. She would have a fit!”

“I know she would,” Ginny said, “Besides I meant nothing like that. I just think you are making up for those years ago when you should have both seen how you feel about each other.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Hermione asked, reaching for her choice of outfits.

“Oh, it is no secret how you felt for Ron before you two got it together,” Ginny said, “I mean… everyone could see it. The tension was so thick that you could cut it with a Diffindo Curse.”

Hermione said nothing, but blushed.

“Of course I shouldn’t blame you,” Ginny said, “It’s my brother’s fault. He was talking about you for a long time. He used to count the days till you would come over here. I couldn’t get him to shut up. But he made me promise that I wasn’t going to tell you. I wasn’t going to anyway. I never interfere with my brothers’ relationships.”

“Uh-huh,” Hermione said, “What about Bill and Fleur?”

“Let’s not go there,” Ginny said, simply.

Hermione grinned, but said nothing else. She continued to get dressed, and then walked out of the bedroom. The door shut and Ginny was about to go back to sleep when it opened again.

“Ugh!” Ginny groaned, “Doesn’t anyone understand that I like to sleep in on – oh, hi Harry.”

“Oh, I didn’t know you were still in bed,” Harry said, walking into the room and closing the door, “I saw Hermione leaving and thought you were up. But if you want to go back to sleep, I can leave you –“

“No, no,” Ginny said, quickly sitting up, “I am awake.”

Ginny grinned when she noticed that Harry had gone a little pink in the cheeks.

“What’s wrong?” Ginny teased.

“What?” Harry said, “Oh, nothing.”

“Oh, I see,” Ginny said, looking at her pajamas, “Harry, you’ve seen me in my nighties before.”

“I have?” Harry asked.

“Uh-huh,” Ginny said.

“I guess I have,” Harry said, clearing his throat, “Well, I wanted to say that I booked our reservation for seven-o-clock tonight. I am not telling you where we are going, but we will have to take Floo Powder to get into London. We’ll probably have to leave around six-thirty.”

“I can’t wait,” Ginny said, smiling.

“Well, I will just let you get dressed,” Harry said.

“But I want my birthday present,” Ginny said.

“It can wait until tonight,” Harry said.

“Not that one,” Ginny said, “Come here.”

Harry smiled and walked over to Ginny. He kissed her full on the lips, and Ginny returned the kiss.

“Thanks,” Ginny said.

“Happy birthday, Ginny,” Harry said, as he walked to the door and left.

Ginny just grinned.


It turned out that the family birthday party was just that. It was a small birthday lunch. The only guests who had come to the party were George and Verity. George, who only just returned from Ireland, had announced, as he walked into the door, that his meeting with the Zonko’s president went extremely well; if all went right, the name Zonko’s would be old news.

“I thought Bill and Fleur would be coming,” George said, as he joined everyone at the table outside.

“Bill apologized and said that they couldn’t make it,” Mrs. Weasley said, “Fleur’s first appointment with her doctor is today. First of many I bet. Charlie couldn’t come either. One of the dragons got loose in Romania and apparently it burnt down a few houses.”

“Ouch!” George joked.

After lunch, which was sandwiches and birthday cake, Ginny opened presents. Mr. and Mrs. Weasley gave Ginny a watch which was Weasley family tradition when the witch or wizard turned seventeen. Ron gave Ginny the Deluxe Kit. Hermione gave Ginny a basketful of sweets and girl stuff.

George and Verity’s present turned out to be a fireworks show. As Ginny watched the firecrackers whiz and spin around the sky, she couldn’t help but think what Muggles would say if they saw it: “It’s just like magic!”

At six-o-clock, Ginny and Harry were standing in front of the fireplace. Mrs. Weasley was there to see them off as Mr. Weasley was called to the Ministry for some unknown reason, and Ron and Hermione were who-knows-where. George and Verity were long gone, probably celebrating the apparent buy-out of Zonko’s.

“Have fun, you two,” Mrs. Weasley said.

“We will,” Ginny said.

“We shouldn’t be out too late,” Harry said.

Ginny was the first to get to the Leaky Cauldron via Floo Powder. Harry arrived shortly after her, and they ventured out into London. There were no taxis available, so Harry came up with the idea to use another form of transportation. He stuck out his wand hand and the Knight Bus came up. Both Harry and Ginny were surprised to see that Stan Shunpike was there to welcome them.

“Ern!” Stan said, “Look oo’ it is! It’s Harry Potter!”

“Stan!” Harry said, as he and Ginny got on the bus, “Didn’t think we would see you. How are you doing?”

“Better,” Stan said, “A lot better now, thanks to Voldemort being gone. All thanks to you! Where bouts are you headed?”

“Sixteen Main Street,” Harry said.

Harry and Ginny were jolted back into one of the seats as the Knight Bus sped off.

“How’s business been doing?” Harry asked.

“Pretty well,” Stan said, “Though we’ve had to watch out for those Death Eaters. Rumor is that I may be a target, can you believe that?!”

“What?” Harry asked.

“Yeah,” Stan whispered, “So I have had to use some security on the bus these days. He just looks like a passenger, but he’s an Auror.”

Stan nodded to a fellow at the other end of the bus.

“Just precautions,” Stan said, “How are you doing?”

“Pretty well,” Harry said, “It’s Ginny’s birthday, so I am taking her somewhere special.”

“Well, Happy Birthday then, miss!” Stan said, bowing slightly.

“Thanks,” Ginny said.

A few minutes later, the bus stopped at a halt.

“Here you are,” Stan said, “And don’t worry about paying. You got a free ride, today!”

“Thanks,” Harry said.

Ginny walked out of the bus with Harry. When she stepped out, she saw a restaurant called “Fran’s Place.”

“I know what this place is,” Ginny said, “George told me about it.”

“That makes two of us,” Harry said, “George was the one who suggested it to me.”

Ginny followed Harry in. They walked up to a podium where a waitress was.

“Seven-o-clock reservation for Potter and Weasley,” Harry said, “We are a bit early though.”

“Perfectly fine,” the waitress said, “Follow me.”

Ginny and Harry followed the waitress to a table with two chairs. The waitress put the menus on the table.

“What would you like to drink?” she asked as Ginny and Harry sat down.

“Tea,” Ginny said.

“That is fine with me too,” Harry said.

The waitress smiled and walked away. Ginny opened her menu and looked in it.

“Kind of pricey,” Ginny said.

“Don’t worry,” Harry said, “I got Muggle money during our visit to Diagon Alley.”

“I am just going to have a baked potato and salad anyway,” Ginny said.

“Hmm,” Harry said, “This pork steak sounds good.”

The waitress returned with the drinks, and Ginny and Harry ordered their meals.

“I was going to wait until after dinner,” Harry said, when the waiter left, “But this is as good as time as any.”

Harry took out a long maroon box and handed it to Ginny. She opened the box and gasped. It was a silver necklace with half of a heart.

“Like it?” Harry asked.

“I love it!” Ginny exclaimed.

“I think it was my mother’s,” Harry said.

“What?” Ginny asked.

“It was one of the things that was in the vault,” Harry said.

“Wow,” Ginny said, looking down at the necklace. “You are giving it to me?”

“I think my mom would have approved,” Harry said.

“Wow,” Ginny said again.

“Here, let me help put it on,” Harry said, standing up.

Harry walked over to Ginny, and put the necklace around Ginny’s neck and latched it. Ginny looked at it.

“Where’s the other half of the heart,” she asked.

“Er, I have no idea, actually,” Harry said, giggling nervously, as he sat back down.

“Oh, well I love it anyway,” Ginny said, “Thank you!”

“I thought you might,” Harry said.

Ginny and Harry spent an hour or so at the restaurant, and then walked back to the Leaky Cauldron. It was a long walk that took nearly an hour, but Ginny and Harry were able to talk a lot as they walked.

It was nearly nine-o-clock when Ginny and Harry arrived back at the Burrow. No one was in the living room, but Ginny heard whispering in the kitchen. She and Harry walked into the kitchen were her mother, Ron and Hermione were all sitting down at the table. The Evening Prophet was in the center of the table.

“We’re back!” Ginny said, “Er… what’s going on?”

“Breaking news,” Ron said, pushing the Evening Prophet over to Ginny and Harry.

Ginny looked at the headline on the front page: AZKABAN BREAK-OUT! AURORS DEAD, MANY PRISONERS ESCAPE!

Cliffhanger! I know that some of my readers hate cliffhangers, but this was planned for a while! Hope you enjoyed the chapter! It was a long one!

Feedback would be great!

October 23rd, 2007, 5:46 pm
Chapter 17
Return to Grimmauld Place

Author’s Note: Sorry for the delay. Writer’s block and other stuff had delayed me from finishing this chapter

Anger swept through Harry’s mind as he read the headline of the Evening Prophet. Before he could think of anything else, he started to read the article:

Earlier tonight around seven-o-clock local time, Azkaban was
invaded by Death Eaters. As of now, we only have so much
information. What we know is this: Ministry officials have told
the Prophet that half-a-dozen Death Eaters invaded Azkaban
Prison and ruthlessly attacked with a purpose. One of the few
lucky Aurors who survived had this emotional story to give us:

“I was on my dinner break when it happened. There was no
warning. The Death Eaters attacked the prison with no mercy.
I didn’t know what was going on at first, and then I heard a lot
of commotion. I ran out of the guard room only to see one of my
fellow Aurors falling to the ground, lifeless. Next thing I knew, I
was slammed against the door, and then I saw darkness. I couldn’t
do a thing. We had no warning…”

Right after this, the Auror broke down into tears and refused to
say anymore. The other Aurors who would talk has given the
Prophet this information. As of right now, they do not know who
escaped, only to say that they expect a large number of the
imprisoned Death Eaters have escaped. When asked if they knew
of any of the names of who escaped, they could only mention two
names, Lucius and Narcissa Malfoy. Most witches and wizards will
remember that Lucius and Narcissa Malfoy were former Death
Eaters who turned themselves into the Ministry after Voldemort’s
downfall. They were serving a one-year sentence in Azkaban.
Certainly there will now be questions as to why the Malfoys had
chosen to leave Azkaban with the Death Eaters.

Ministry of Magic Kingsley Shacklebolt has yet to give us any opinion
on the events of what has taken place.

For more on this story, go to page 3.

“You notice that the two names the Aurors could point out were the Malfoys?” Ron asked Harry, “They couldn’t give us any other names.”

“It doesn’t make sense,” Harry said, his eyes remaining on the Prophet.

“What doesn’t?” Ginny asked.

“The Malfoys would never go with the Death Eaters,” Harry said.

“Harry, these are the Malfoys we’re talking about,” Ron said, “How could you possibly say that?”

“Because of what I know!” Harry said, impatiently, “There was an undercover Auror on the inside in one of the Death Eater meetings. He specifically heard them target the Malfoy family. That is why I had to bring Draco back from the United States. That is why he is in hiding!”

“We’re not talking about Draco,” Hermione said, “We are talking about his parents.”

“Hermione’s right,” Ron said, “Lucius Malfoy? You forget? He was a Death Eater.”

“He’s turned a new leaf,” Harry said, “He was serving a light sentence with his wife in Azkaban. He wouldn’t have voluntarily gone with the Death Eaters.”

“What are you saying?” Ginny asked.

“He was the center of the Death Eaters’ plan,” Harry said, “They wanted him. Look at what it says.”

He looked back down at the Prophet.

“The Death Eaters attacked with a purpose and with no mercy,” Harry said.

“They wanted to cause chaos,” Ron said, “It is what the Death Eaters do.”

“Azkaban was the first part of their plan,” Harry said.

Before anyone could say anything else, Mr. Weasley stepped through the doorway. He was holding a copy of the Evening Prophet in his hand.

“Well,” he said, “You won’t believe what is going –-“

“We already know, Arthur,” Mrs. Weasley said.

“Oh,” Mr. Weasley said, looking down at the Evening Prophet on the table. “Well, that saves time. I can get right to the important part. I have been in a meeting with the Minister of Magic.”

“What?” Mrs. Weasley asked.

“Kingsley has been a very busy man these past couple of hours,” Mr. Weasley said, “He has sent numerous owls out to a few people, informing them of his plan.”

“But it says in the Prophet,” Ginny said, “Kingsley had said nothing to the Prophet.”

“Indeed, he has not!” Mr. Weasley said, “Because they do not need to know. You see, tomorrow afternoon, there will be a meeting in Number 12 Grimmauld Place. Kingsley is ordering all current members of the Order of the Phoenix to be there.”

“What?” Harry asked, “The Order –-?”

“Kingsley has made up his mind,” Mr. Weasley said, “The Aurors cannot be expected to be the ones who stop this war once and for all. Kingsley only trusts a few people.”

“So he plans on the Order of the Phoenix to do it?” Harry asked.

“He didn’t tell me a lot,” Mr. Weasley said, “But he plans on telling us all his plans tomorrow. He did say this though.”

He paused for a moment and looked around the table at everyone.

“He wants the four of you to be a part of this meeting,” Mr. Weasley said, looking at Harry, Ron, Hermione and Ginny.

“Arthur, what are you saying?” Mrs. Weasley asked, “They can’t be expected to –-“

“They are all of age,” Mr. Weasley said, “And they all have a right to attend the meeting.”

“But they are still students at Hogwarts,” Mrs. Weasley said, her voice shaky but still stern, “The rule in the Order is strict.”

“I believe his plans for them have nothing to do with the Order,” Mr. Weasley said, “You see, the first person Kingsley sent an owl to was Professor McGonagall.”

“Kingsley’s plans include Hogwarts?” Harry asked.

“I don’t want to go that far, Harry,” Mr. Weasley said, “But there is a chance.”

“Hogwarts can’t take much more,” Mrs. Weasley said, “If it was attacked again –-“

“I believe that is what Kingsley is thinking,” Mr. Weasley said, “He wants to know that the students will be safe. With the news of this breakout from Azkaban, a lot of people are going to be worried. If Hogwarts could have been attacked so easily before, it will be much simpler for it to be a target now.”

Silence followed these remarks at the table. Finally, Mrs. Weasley spoke up.

“Well, it is very late,” Mrs. Weasley said, “If the Minister is expecting us to be in London tomorrow at noon, then I say we better get to bed. Are you leaving again, Arthur?”

“No, dear,” Mr. Weasley said, “Kingsley has given me the night off.”

“Then we all better be going to bed,” Mrs. Weasley said, “Good night, you lot.”

Harry and Ginny walked together up the stairs toward the bedrooms.

“News like this could ruin someone’s birthday, eh?” Ginny said with a small chuckle.

“Good thing it is past midnight,” Harry said with a yawn, as he looked at his watch.

“Don’t think that this little flaw means that my birthday wasn’t great,” Ginny said, “I enjoyed it thoroughly. I think I love your present the most.”

Harry smiled and Ginny took his hand. Harry briefly noticed how the silver necklace sparkled in the moonlight through the window before Ginny had brought his attention to her face. She smiled and Harry kissed her on the lips, but the moment didn’t last long.

“Oi!” Ron’s voice said, “You are blocking the stairway!”

Harry hastily backed away and looked down the stairwell to see Ron and Hermione walking toward them.

“Oh, sorry,” Harry said, with a chuckle. “We were just saying goodnight.”

“Yes, we saw that,” Hermione said. “Now I think we all better go to bed before Molly is the next one up the stairs.”

Harry agreed and, with a last look at Ginny, walked up the stairs and into his bedroom.

At ten minutes to noon the next day, the Weasleys, Harry and Hermione were huddled around the Burrow’s fireplace. An owl had come in earlier that morning from Kingsley saying that traveling by Floo Powder to Grimmauld Place would be permitted for a few hours. Harry was the first into the fireplace.

“Grimmauld Place!” Harry yelled as he dropped the green powder into the fireplace.

Harry soon experienced the familiar feeling of dizziness that was to be expected when traveling via Floo Powder. A few moments later, he felt his feet hit solid ground. He walked out of the fireplace, coughing and sputtering in the dust and soot.

“Master Harry is here,” croaked Kreacher, the house-elf.
“K-Kreacher?” sputtered Harry, as the soot and dust disappeared around him.

“Yes, sir, Master Harry,” Kreacher said.

Just as the soot and dust had disappeared, more had blown out from the fireplace as Ginny walked out, covered in soot.

“Kreacher was pleased when he heard that you were coming, Master Harry,” Kreacher said, as he used his duster on Harry’s clothes. “The Minister told Kreacher and Kreacher suggested that he would make Master Harry's favorite foods for the occasion."

“Where is the Minister, Kreacher?” Harry asked, as the aging house-elf walked over to Ginny and dusted off her clothes.

“In the dining room, Master Harry,” Kreacher said.

“Thank you, Kreacher,” Harry said.

Harry walked out of the living room and toward the dining room. As he walked closer to the dining room, he heard the Minister’s booming voice.

“The next term at Hogwarts is getting ever-so closer, Minerva,” Kingsley said, “I do hope your choice for Headmaster will be revealed to me soon.”

“As soon as possible, Minister,” Professor McGonagall’s stern voice said, “But I do believe this little pre-meeting discussion that you want with me has nothing to do with the next Headmaster.”

“Absolutely right,” Kingsley said, “Since I do not know who the new Headmaster is, I can only take these precautions. These recent events concerning the Death Eaters has brought questions and complaints to the Hogwarts Governors, and of course, to me. Parents want to know what will be done to ensure the safety of their children. That is why I am going to do two things to ensure their safety. The first choice will be one that will make the parents happy, but the other choice of mine cannot and will not be told to anyone but a select number of students and Professors.”

“I don’t understand,” Professor McGonagall said.

“Oh, you will soon enough,” Kingsley said, “I just want to make sure that you will agree to what my plans are. Know that it is for the best for the students.”

“I am afraid that I cannot agree until I know what is going on,” Professor McGonagall said.

“Understandable,” Kingsley said, “You will know shortly. I believe the meeting will take place in a few minute’s time.”

“Harry?” a voice rang from down the hall, “What are you doing?”

Harry jumped slightly and turned around. Ginny, Ron and Hermione were walking toward him.

“Oh, nothing,” Harry lied.

Before the others could say anything, another voice interrupted them.

“Ah, Harry,” Kingsley’s booming voice said, “Good to see you again. I trust that Arthur has informed you that I have invited you are your friends to the meeting.”

“Yeah,” Harry said.

“Good,” Kingsley said, “Ah, and speak of the devil! Arthur, I assume with your arrival, that you are the last of the guests here?”

Harry turned around. Mr. Weasley was walking up to him and Kingsley.

“Yes,” Mr. Weasley said, “I was just talking to Bill and Fleur. Most of my family are here, but I am afraid that I cannot find Percy. I was hoping he would join us today.”

“I tried to get the chap to come, but he is busy,” Kingsley said, “Now if you excuse me, I will just go and tell everyone that the meeting is about to begin. If the rest of you will sit at the table in the dining room, that would be great.”

Kingsley walked down the hall, and Harry walked into the dining room, where Professor McGonagall was sitting.

“Harry, I didn’t know that you and your friends were coming,” she said, after turning around and noticing Harry was walking in. “I wonder if this is what he was talking about… oh, don’t mind me. How are you doing? Ready for the new term?”

“Yeah,” Harry said, “How is the old castle doing?”

“I am sure you are talking about the reconstruction?” McGonagall asked, “Yeah, day by day. The old castle is very magical, and if we use too much magic on certain parts of the building, it might backfire on us and send other parts crumbling down. Hagrid’s half-brother is helping a lot, and we have most of the Professors doing their parts.”

“Have you found a new Defense Against the Dark Arts Professor?” Harry asked.

“Nope, that is another position that has to be filled,” McGonagall said in an exhausted tone. “And now this whole thing with the Death Eaters adds more to worry about.”

McGonagall cleared her throat and smiled at Harry and the others.

“But don’t worry,” she said, “I am sure Hogwarts will be back to normal soon.”

“If you could ever call it normal,” Ron said, chortling.

“Yes,” McGonagall said, “I always find that there are things in Hogwarts that surprise even me almost every day. Why, just a few months ago, I forgot about the fake step in the Grand Staircase… well, you can imagine what happened. It wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for Filch and Peeves, though. But I can’t complain. Just makes Hogwarts much more enjoyable.”

Before Harry and the others could say anything, voices were heard as the other guests for the meeting started walking into the room. Bill and Fleur walked in together, hand in hand, followed by Mr. and Mrs. Weasley. Charlie, George and Verity walked in next, followed by Hagrid, who stayed near the back of the room, but smiled and waved to Harry. Some of the Professors, including Flitwick, Slughorn and Sprout walked in. Abeforth Dumbledore and Elphias Doge followed. Hestia Jones and Dedalus Diggle were next. Harry smiled appreciatively at these two, remembering that they were the ones who helped the Dursleys out the previous year. Harry was surprised to see the next people that followed: Dawlish and a couple other people who Harry recognized as Aurors. These three Aurors stood near the wall at the back of the room. Harry couldn’t understand why Dawlish was there. Wasn’t he supposed to be undercover with the Death Eaters? Had something gone wrong?

The moment Harry had sat down at the table beside Ginny, Kingsley had returned to the room.

“Before I begin,” Kingsley said, walking over to the far end of the dining room table, “I would like to thank all of you for coming. I am happy to see how many of you have answered my request for you to come. Now, on to business.”

Kingsley cleared his throat and looked around at the witches and wizards at the table.

“If you have been reading the Prophet these past few hours,” Kingsley said, “You will know what has happened at Azkaban Prison. Death Eaters attacked and freed many more of their group. It is true: I have not said anything to the Daily Prophet, because I have been thinking a lot about what has happened. I have come to this conclusion: the war is far from over. As much as we have wanted it to happen, the downfall of Lord Voldemort did not end the war. I am afraid it might have sparked the fire in the remaining Death Eaters.”

“If you haven’t noticed,” Kingsley said, “We have a few more guests here with us tonight than normal. The three Aurors behind me, and Harry Potter and his friends. Normally, they wouldn’t allowed in these meetings, but they are part of my plan.”

Harry looked at Ginny, Ron and Hermione, who all looked back at him in wonder.

“I will begin with Harry and his friends,” Kingsley said. “A few years ago, there was a little-known club at Hogwarts. Nearly everyone at Hogwarts did not know of this little club, except for a few chosen students. This club was known as Dumbledore’s Army. I want to say that I am very pleased with what went on with Harry and his friends. If it wasn’t for their club, we wouldn’t have had as much help as we did at the Battle of Hogwarts. Harry’s friends, who were members of Dumbledore’s Army, helped us in the battle at Hogwarts. They were also taught to defend themselves, and in the end it helped them out. What does this have to do with the Order of the Phoenix? Well, let’s just say that Dumbledore’s army was a smaller form of the Order. It is no secret that Hogwarts is vulnerable. If Harry and his friends will agree, I want Dumbledore’s Army to reform. This will be for students who want to learn how to defend themselves and their families. It will also help with the security of Hogwarts. Which is another point I want to make. Some of the Order of the Phoenix will be going to Hogwarts to help with security. The Aurors will be too busy with the rest of the wizarding world while helping them defend against the Death Eaters, so we will need some of you to help. After this meeting, if you want to volunteer and defend Hogwarts and the children, I want you to come to me.”

“Dawlish,” Kingsley said, turning around, “Can you come here please?”

Dawlish nodded and walked over to Kingsley.

“Dawlish, here, has served me a great purpose,” Kingsley said, to the rest of the group, “He has gone undercover with the Death Eaters to get information. Unfortunately we can’t get a lot of information because of the Fidelius Charm, but we have gotten some. I would like Dawlish to explain a few things, but then he will have to go back to his work. Dawlish?”

“Thank you,” Dawlish said, turning to the others, “I would like to say that working undercover with the Death Eaters has gained us some information, but it has brought us pain as well. You see, I could have stopped the Prison break-out at Azkaban, but it would have revealed who I was. But I do know some of what happened. Lucius and Narcissa Malfoy were two of the prisoners that were freed, and as of right now, I don’t know what is going on with them. I have not returned to the Death Eaters hideout since the break-out. I do not know what the plan is for the Death Eaters, but I assure you this isn’t over. I just hope we can win this war. I will return with information soon, but for now I have to go. I just want you to know that you can trust on me.”

Dawlish then nodded to Kingsley and walked out of the room. Over the next hour or so, Kingsley talked about what would go on with the Order of the Phoenix. Harry only heard parts of this because his mind was still rattling over the fact that Dumbledore’s Army would be reforming. He would definitely have to get more information on this. He didn’t know where to begin. And with only a couple weeks before Hogwarts would re-open, Harry felt he was going to be very busy.

Sorry I couldn’t do too much with the meeting, my mind went blank. Next chapter switches to Dawlish’s POV. I like doing those chapters so it is going to be fun.

Hope you enjoyed this chapter and sorry for the delay.

Feedback would be great!

October 27th, 2007, 4:51 pm
Chapter 18
Snake and Wolf

Red and orange blazed the skies as the sun set over the horizon. The air was still as hot as ever as one of the warmest summers England had seen yet was just days from coming to an end. A cloudless sky provided no relief from the heat and humidity. There was no wind and a person could hear for miles.

But in the town of Kent, no one heard the CRACK of Apparation as John Dawlish appeared behind a bush in a small park. The Auror had used all precautions so that he wouldn’t be heard. He still looked like himself and, in the most dangerous neighborhood of the night, this was not a wise idea. He knew that Death Eaters were gathering, reunited after a victorious mission, at the large house just a few hundred yards east of the park.

Dawlish crept into the public bath-house a few feet away from the bushes he had apparated into. After making sure that he was alone, he magically locked the door to keep out wandering Muggles and who knew what else. Dawlish knew that Death Eaters would be coming in disguise from their hiding places all over the country, and in the back of his mind, he feared that one would come into the bathroom just as he was turning himself into Augustus Rookwood.

Yaxley’s plan was simple, and if Dawlish was going to be posing as August Rookwood, he would have to make sure the plan went well. He had to look as if he was in hiding for a couple of days and that he had just come from miles away. Yaxley had thought of this so that no Auror would be able to find every one of the Death Eaters. As far as Dawlish knew, the plan had worked well: none of his fellow Aurors had found any of the Death Eaters.

Regaining his composure, he took the small magically-expanded bag from his coat pocket and took out the black cloak, jeans, a small vial and the goblet of Polyjuice Potion.

He quickly changed into the clothes and stuffed the old ones into his bag. He took the cork off the vial and up-ended it. A single hair of Augustus Rookwood fell out. Dawlish placed it into the potion, which started to fizz and bubble. Dawlish drank the potion and moments later he was the identical copy of Augustus Rookwood. After dirtying up his face and hair to make himself look warn out and tired, Dawlish took a final glance at himself and unlocked the door then walked out of the bath-house.

Dawlish made his way out of the park and down the road. At the end of the road, a large two-story house rose above the others on a hill.

“I don’t know what Yaxley is playing at,” Dawlish muttered to himself, as he looked at the large house, “I would have thought he would have wanted to hide in a place that looked conspicuous.”

He made his way up the driveway and over toward the door. Like the previous meetings with the Death Eaters, the front door was guarded by two men in cloaks. Dawlish didn’t recognize these two men and thought that they must be rookies. As Dawlish walked closer, the man on the right raised his hand.

“Stop,” the man said in a gruff voice, “Got to check you.”

But before the man could make a move, the door behind him opened.

“It’s all right,” a voice said, “He’s one of us.”

The owner of the voice was finally revealed when he walked out of the door. It was Selwyn, one of the Death Eaters that had taken a liking to Dawlish.

“Come on in,” Selwyn said to Dawlish.

“Are we expecting anyone else?” the Death Eater with the gruff voice said.

“Who knows,” Selwyn grunted, “But stay out here just in case. You got that, Slane?”

“Yes, sir,” Slane said.

Dawlish walked into the house and Selwyn closed the door behind him.

“Rookies, I hate ‘em!” Selwyn said with a harsh chuckle. “But Yaxley says we need them, so that is why they are here.”

“I never seen them before,” Dawlish said, as he followed Selwyn through what looked like the entrance room. “Are there more?”

“Of course there are more!” Selwyn said, “Firm believers of our mission, though I bet not one of them is pureblood.”

“What?” Dawlish asked.

“Yeah, can you believe that?” Selwyn replied, “They were in the cells with some of the Death Eaters, and apparently they were fans of our work.”

“Where are the Malfoys?” Dawlish asked.

“Down in the wine cellar,” Selwyn said, “It was a high-security room. I am amazed at what some of these Muggles can achieve. We got two more of the rookies guarding the Malfoys. Though they won’t be down there for much longer.”

“What do you mean?” Dawlish asked.

“Yaxley’s got plans for them,” Selwyn said, “Didn’t you hear? He’s the one responsible for getting them out of Azkaban. I hear they didn’t want to leave. Yaxley stunned Narcissa because she wouldn’t shut up, and he made Lucius carry her.”

“So this house,” Dawlish said, “A little out-there, isn’t it? I thought Yaxley would want to be somewhere hidden.”

“Yeah,” Selwyn said, “It has certainly gotten complaints from some of the other guys. Aurors could waltz right up here just because it looks like the kind of place we would go. I don’t know. Some people want to revolt against Yaxley, but he is a good leader. I suspect we would have all been dead during the attack on Azkaban if it wasn’t for him. Either that, or we wouldn’t have left Azkaban. I don’t know which is better. Anyway, meeting is through here, come on.”

Dawlish followed Selwyn through two large oak doors. Inside the next room, which was the dining room, was a long table. Death Eaters were sitting in chairs along the table, laughing and talking to each other.

“Rookwood!” Yaxley’s voice rung out, “Good, you made it. Where’ve you been?”

“It takes a while to get from Scotland when you are playing ‘keep away’ from Aurors, Yaxley,” Dawlish said with a chuckle.

“Very true!” Yaxley said, “But you are here! Good… let’s get this meeting under way.”

“Shouldn’t everyone be here?” Mulciber said.

“We are all here,” Yaxley said.

“Yeah, unless you want the rookies in the meeting,” Jugson said.

Mulciber was about to speak up, but Yaxley interrupted him.

“That is not necessary,” Yaxley said, “The rookies are doing their own jobs.”

“Yeah, and they are good at it!” Rowle said, raising up his mug, “Speaking of… where is that little bugger, Hoover? I want more firewhiskey!”

The other Death Eaters roared and chuckled, then immediately stopped when Yaxley raised his hand.

“They are not your personal house-elves, Rowle,” Yaxley said, “You probably haven’t thought about it, but we need them. We should be thankful that we were able to get them out of Azkaban. Because of them, our numbers are that much greater!”

“Here, here!” Avery said.

More “here, here’s” followed.

“Now let’s get started,” Yaxley said.

But before Yaxley could say anything else, the dining room door opened. A man walked through that Dawlish did not recognize.

“Yes, Jonas, what is it?” Yaxley said.

“You requested that the Malfoys should be present,” Jonas said.

“Of course,” Yaxley said, “Send them in.”

Jonas disappeared behind the door, and then a second later the door opened farther. Lucius and Narcissa Malfoy walked into the room. They were gagged and tied by ropes. Lucius’ face looked dirty and it looked like he had a light purple-and-black spot forming around one eye. Jonas and another Death Eater were standing behind them with their wand pointed at the two. The room went deadly silent as the Malfoys walked slowly toward Yaxley’s end of the table. Dawlish looked at Lucius and could sense fear in his eyes.

“Lucius, Narcissa,” Yaxley said, “I am glad that you could join us. Come here.”

“Get going,” Jonas muttered to the Malfoys.

“Oh, don’t be afraid,” Yaxley said, “You are the highlight of our party. Jonas, remove their gags.”

“Yes, sir,” Jonas said, turning to the Malfoys, “Say one thing, Malfoy, and you will regret it.”

Jonas removed the gags from Lucius and Narcissa’s mouths.

“Lucius and Narcissa,” Yaxley said, “You will be happy to know that we all will graciously welcome you back by our sides if you will accept.”

Lucius and Narcissa didn’t say anything.

“Their speechless,” Rowle said, chuckling.

“Need time to think about it?” Yaxley asked, “Well, you could return to the wine cellar. I would say that you could enjoy the wine down there, but we took it all.”

“And we love every bit of it!” Mulciber said, raising his goblet.

The other Death Eaters chuckled.

“I don’t think you have heard,” Yaxley said to Lucius, “But I believe someone very dear to you has returned from their trip to the United States.”

Tears went to Narcissa’s eyes.

“Draco,” Lucius muttered, “If you hurt him–-“

“Shut up, slime!” Jonas said, jabbing Lucius in the back with his wand.

“That is all right, Jonas,” Yaxley said, “I think we can allow them to speak freely.”

Jonas hesitated, then backed up.

“Lucius, you don’t need to worry about your precious son just yet,” Yaxley said, “He is not in our custody, so I assure you he is well protected… for now. You see, Rookwood is working at the Ministry again. Isn’t that right, Augustus?”

“Yes, sir,” Dawlish said, “Though I don’t know my place there right now, I will admit. I had to take a sick leave because of current circumstances.”

“It doesn’t matter,” Yaxley said, “But you see, Lucius. The Aurors at the Ministry have your boy in a safe house. All Rookwood has to do is just get a little information and… well, I will leave that to your imagination.”

“What do you want me to do?” Lucius asked.

“Well, it is easy, Lucius,” Yaxley said, “You see, we need as many Death Eaters as we can get. Having you and your… ah… precious wife here by our side would make us quite pleased.”

“You can have me,” Lucius said, “But not Narcissa.”

“Oh?” Yaxley asked, grinning, “And where is Narcissa going to go, I wonder? She can’t go anywhere. Haven’t you heard? Well, no… shame on me, how could you have possibly heard? You have been in that wine cellar since you got here. Well, a few hours after the Azkaban incident, an emotional story was put into the Evening Prophet. Aurors dead… Death Eaters escape… and who are the only two escapees that the Aurors could name at the moment? Lucius and Narcissa Malfoy. And if I remember, they even said that it looked as if you two had walked out with the Death Eaters.”

Lucius looked at Yaxley with fury.

“I am afraid that you are public enemy numbers one and two,” Yaxley said with a grin, “Why… to the public eye, you are nothing but Death Eaters again. Filth to the common wizard. Oh, what will little Draco think?”

“Fine, Yaxley,” Lucius said, “If you promise that you will not harm our son, we will join you.”

“Well, as much as I like your promise,” Yaxley said, “I am going to have to think about it. Jonas, take them back to the wine cellar.”

“No!” Lucius roared, “We said we would --“

Yaxley raised his wand and the gags returned to the Malfoy’s mouths.

“And I said I would think about it,” Yaxley said, “Adieu and farewell.”

“Come on, scum!” Jonas said.

Jonas and the other Death Eater pushed Lucius and Narcissa out of the room. The room went silent as the attention of all of the Death Eaters went to Yaxley, who had returned to his seat. He tapped his knuckles on the table and looked around.

“Rookwood, I want you to be honest with me,” he finally said, “What are the chances of you finding the Malfoy brat’s hideout?”

“Honestly?” Dawlish said, “Slim to none. Everyone in the Ministry is spooked. Our raid on Azkaban hasn’t helped either.”

Yaxley didn’t reply right away and Dawlish tried his best not to show that he was afraid. He didn’t know what Yaxley’s reaction would be.

“I thought as much,” Yaxley said.

Dawlish’s sigh of relief was silenced by Mulciber’s next question.

“So what do we do?” he asked.

“I guess our only choice would be to make well on Lucius’ request,” Yaxley said, “I mean… we cannot get to his son, so the promise will be kept… for now.”

Yaxley grinned and cackled softly. The other Death Eaters followed with their cackles.

“Should we bring the Malfoys back in?” Rowle asked.

“Not just yet,” Yaxley said, “Give them time to –-“

But the last part of Yaxley’s reply was muffled by the sound of the door opening. Slane, one of the Death Eaters who was on guard duty at the front door of the house, appeared.

“Yes, what is it?” Yaxley asked, looking at Slane.

“You have another guest,” Slane said.

Before Yaxley could even command Slane to bring the guest in, Slane was pushed out of the way by the apparent guest. Dawlish’s stomach clenched as he looked at the man. The man was tall in size and his black hair and moustache were matted down. He gave a dark smile and Dawlish saw pointed fangs.

“Greyback!” Yaxley said, “What are you doing here?”

“Having a party without me, Yaxley?” Greyback said, his voice almost a growl, “I am jealous. You know how I like parties.”

“I will ask you again, Fenrir!” Yaxley said, his voice raising to a commanding tone, “What are you doing here?”

“I heard there was a Death Eater rally in the vicinity,” Greyback said, “And I thought I would come. I am a Death Eater, in fact. How come I was not invited? Hmm?”

“Last we heard,” Rowle said, “You were dead, Greyback.”

“Dead?” Greyback said, “Whatever gave you that idea?”

“You didn’t show up after our battle at Hogwarts, did you?” Rowle said.

Greyback gave a raspy cackle.

“You think I was killed at Hogwarts?” he asked, “Not a chance. A battle between wizards, giants and beasts of the earth couldn’t kill me! It will take more to kill Fenrir Greyback!”

“Lower your tone, Greyback,” Yaxley said, “It was nice and peaceful before you got here.”

“Well, I can’t help it sometimes,” Greyback said, with no remorse in his voice, “There is a full moon coming. I can smell it from a mile away.”

Greyback walked over to the empty chair on the right side of Dawlish and sat down. Fenrir looked around the table and took a second glance at Dawlish.

“Well, well,” he said, “Augustus Rookwood. I thought you were playing pet to the Ministry.”

“Rookwood is our inside man, Greyback,” Yaxley said, before Dawlish could say anything, “He has been very useful these past few weeks. It is thanks to him that we pulled off the raid in Azkaban.”

“Was it?” Greyback asked, a sneer forming across his mouth, “Well, congratulations. Now you got every single Auror back on the hunt for us! Have any of you got the decent brain to figure that out!”

Greyback stood up and sent his chair flying backwards a few feet as he backed away.

“I believe I told you,” Yaxley said, “To lower your tone.”

“What if I don’t?” Greyback roared. “I see you got every one else here kissing your shoes, but I am not going to. I came here to get answers. I had to dodge Aurors left and right to even get a shot at getting here! I was hiding away until the time was right, and then I hear that Azkaban was raided by Death Eaters!”

Fenrir’s ranting, though it was loud as ever, went silent to Dawlish. He felt pain inside his body. He knew that the Polyjuice Potion was about to cease and he was about to turn back into an Auror in the middle of a room of Death Eaters. He had to do something. Suddenly it came to him.

“Now, Yaxley,” Greyback continued, “Where are my answers?“

“Right here, Fenrir,” Dawlish said.

Dawlish turned around quickly and unleashed his wand.

“Stupefy!” he yelled.

Before Fenrir could do anything, he was hit with the stunning spell and sent flying against the wall. He slouched to the ground, stunned and unconscious. The other Death Eaters around the table cheered and banged their fists on the table.

“I didn’t want to hear one more thing,” Dawlish said.

“I was about to do the same thing myself,” Yaxley said, “But you beat me.”

“Yaxley, I apologize,” Dawlish said, “But I need to get to the Ministry to make sure I have an alibi. Otherwise, they will think I had something to do with the break-out and… well, you know the rest.”

“I agree,” Yaxley said, “You may go.”

Dawlish nodded and stood up. As he walked out of the room, he heard Yaxley order Rowle to take Greyback down to the wine cellar with the Malfoys. Dawlish hurried out of the house and down the road. He ran to the park and by the time he walked into the public bath-house, his appearance had changed back to its original state.

Sorry it was so short, but I wanted to leave it at that. Next chapter will be the return to Hogwarts!

Hope you enjoyed it!

Feedback would be welcomed!

November 1st, 2007, 4:59 pm
Chapter 19
Return to Hogwarts

Author’s Note: You will notice that I have skipped a couple of weeks in the chapter. I have only done this because I had nothing else to put in those two weeks. But there will be a couple flashbacks here and there in the chapter that informs you of what happened during parts of those two weeks.

The loud whistle and the engine of the Hogwarts Express could be heard inside one of the compartments of the train, where Harry, Ginny, Hermione and Ron were sitting. Ginny, Hermione and Ron were deep in conversation, but Harry, who was looking through the window into the crowd expressing their goodbyes to the students on the train, could not hear them.

He was deep in thought about many things. Usually he would be excited to return to the place he called his home. But today he felt somewhat different. Maybe it was because he had so much on his mind. Over the past couple of weeks, the request that Minister Shacklebolt had given him to reform Dumbledore’s Army had played over in his mind. Harry remembered the first time he was actually able to discuss this request with Ginny, Ron and Hermione. It was the day after the meeting at Grimmauld Place:

Flashback begins:

Harry was sitting at the desk in his bedroom looking at a nearly blank piece of parchment. This was not homework that he was working on, but it could have been. It was a request from the Minister of Magic.

“If Harry and his friends will agree, I want Dumbledore’s Army to reform. This will be for students who want to learn how to defend themselves and their families,” the Minister had said.

The moment Harry had heard this from the Minister, a million things had sparked in Harry’s mind. But now, after a good night’s sleep, they had disappeared as if hidden under an Invisibility Cloak. The only thing that was on the parchment in front of Harry was the words “Dumbledore’s Army Ideas” written at the top.

Harry’s first thought when hearing the request was the Room of Requirement. The last time Harry saw the Room of Requirement, it was engulfed in flames that the Fiendfyre had caused. Had the Room been permanently damaged? Or was it just the room that was filled with junk? Harry picked up the quill and dipped it in the ink. He then wrote:

1. Check to see if the Room of Requirement is accessible.

Harry hoped that the room was still intact. As a continuance of his request, Kingsley had asked that very few people knew about Dumbledore’s Army, just like when it was formed. Harry didn’t know if this was possible. Many students, including the Slytherins knew about it. But Harry was sure, if he asked it to, the Room of Requirement would do its job of containing the secret inside.

Suddenly, the door of the bedroom opened, causing Harry to turn around in his chair. Ginny was walking through the door.

“There you are,” she said, walking into the room and closing the door, “What are you up to?”

“Just thinking,” Harry said.

“Really?” Ginny asked.

She walked over to the desk and Harry saw that her eyes had found the parchment.

“Dumbledore’s Army ideas,” she read, “I thought it might be that. So you really are going to bring it back?”

“It is what Kingsley wants,” Harry said, nodding, as he looked at the piece of parchment.

“But do you seriously think it will be as big as last time,” Ginny asked.

“Bigger, I hope,” Harry said, “This time it will be an ordinary club.”

“Except that everyone will not know about it,” Ginny said.

“It is an exclusive club,” Harry said, shrugging.

“You do know the reason Kingsley wants it reformed, right?” Ginny asked.

“So that the students can defend themselves and their families,” Harry said, nodding again, “It is the same as last time.”

“No, Harry,” Ginny said, “Last time was an alternative to the Defense Against the Dark Arts Class. This time it will be like training an actual army.”

“Rubbish,” Harry said.

“I guess you haven’t actually thought about it that much,” Ginny said.

“What is that supposed to mean?” Harry asked.

“Kingsley’s worst fears are that Hogwarts gets attacked again,” Ginny said, “With a full roster of students returning this year, it could be a target again. While it is under reconstruction, Hogwarts is still open to attacks. That is why he is asking that most of the Order of the Phoenix act as security.”

“That has nothing to do with Dumbledore’s Army, Ginny,” Harry said.

“It does!” Ginny said, loudly, “Don’t you see? How many of the students would have remained at Hogwarts during the battle a few months ago if it wasn’t for Dumbledore’s Army? Didn’t you notice? Most of Dumbledore’s Army, even those who weren’t students anymore, were there to fight!”

Before Harry could reply, the bedroom door opened again. This time it was Hermione and Ron who walked in.

“We heard yelling,” Ron said, “But it wasn’t Harry, and since this is Harry’s room now, we decided to see what was going on.”

“We weren’t yelling,” Ginny said.

“Well, it definitely wasn’t your inside voice,” Hermione said, “What is going on?”

“We were talking about Kingsley’s request,” Harry said.

“Which one?” Ron asked, “I swear he made a million of them during the meeting.”

“His request for us to reform Dumbledore’s Army,” Harry said, “Ginny thinks Kingsley is… well, he is using the word ‘Army’ literally.”

“What does he mean, Ginny?” Hermione asked.

“Dumbledore’s Army isn’t an alternative for Defense Against the Dark Arts anymore,” Ginny said, “We don’t have Umbridge anymore telling us we can’t practice spells in class.”

“Well, we don’t know who the next Defense against the Dark Arts Professor will be, do we?” Ron asked, “So how can you say that yet?”

“Whoever they are,” Ginny said, “I am sure they won’t be bad as Umbridge.”

“So what are you getting at?” Hermione asked, “You think Kingsley is going to do what the Ministry feared for years: you think he wants to create a student army?”

“It just seems odd that he wants us to reform Dumbledore’s Army,” Ginny said, “That is all.”

“So you aren’t going to be a part of it?” Harry asked.

“I don’t know, Harry,” Ginny said, “I really don’t.”

End Flashback

“Harry?” Ron said, “Harry! Are you okay?”

Harry shook himself mentally and when he looked around, Ron, Hermione and Ginny were all looking at him. He looked back out the window and realized that the train was moving down the tracks.

“Oh, yeah,” Harry said, looking back at his friends, “I am fine, why?”

“No reason,” Ron said, shrugging, “You weren’t responding.”

“Are you sure you are okay?” Hermione asked.

“I am perfectly fine,” Harry said, “I was just lost in thought, I guess.”

Before Hermione or the others could reply, the compartment door slid open. Luna walked into the compartment, followed by Neville.

“Here you are!” Luna said, “We were wondering if you were all coming back!”

“Hi Luna, Neville!” Hermione said.

Luna said beside Ginny, and Neville said beside Ron.

“What are you doing here, Neville?” Ron asked, “I thought you finished your education.”

“Not totally,” Neville said, “I think I have about a half of a year left. But I am staying at Hogwarts for the whole year. I am going to be Professor Sprout’s aide.”

“Like a student-teacher?” Hermione asked.

“Yeah,” Neville said, “There have been rumors that Professor Sprout is going to retire, and I was thinking of replacing her as Herbology Professor.”

“That is great!” Hermione said.

“We were walking down the corridors of the train,” Luna said, “And you would be surprised how many eighth years are back.”

“Eighth years?” Ron asked.

“Well, the students in mine and Ginny’s year are the seventh years this year,” Luna said, “So everyone who was a seventh year last year and came back for a more proper education are the eighth years. You see? It isn’t the official term, but it is what I call them.”

“So what are we?” Ron asked, motioning to himself, Hermione and Harry, “I mean… we didn’t go to Hogwarts last year.”

“You are eighth years,” Luna said, “It would be too confusing otherwise.”

“It makes sense,” Ron said, shrugging.

“So how many ‘eighth years’ are back?” Hermione asked.

“A fair few,” Neville said, “We saw both Parvati and Padma Patil. They were sitting with Seamus, Dean and Lavender. I am sure there are more. I mean, that was just the Gryffindors. This has never been done in the history of Hogwarts. Who knows how the Professors are going to manage?”

“Yeah, it does seem rather hard to picture,” Harry said.

“So Luna, how is your father?” Hermione asked.

“Oh, he is wonderful,” Luna said, “He returned from Azkaban with a ton of ideas for the Quibbler. Did you know that a few Dementors are still working at Azkaban? Yeah, my father saw them!”

“What?” Harry asked.

“Yeah, apparently they are rebelling against their kind!” Luna said, “They want to be paid!”

“Paid… right,” Ron said, chortling, “How crazy is that?”

“Well, it is not crazy at all!” Luna said, “It has been known for years that the Dementors were being driven around like slaves.”

“Uh-huh,” Ron said, “And how are the Snorcacks?”

“I wish I knew,” Luna said with a frown.

“What is wrong, Luna?” Hermione asked.

“Well, we can’t find any right now,” Luna said, “I think the fear of war scared them off. They are in hiding.”

“Maybe they are hibernating?” Ron suggested.

“Rubbish, they don’t hibernate!” Luna said.

“Right, my mistake,” Ron said, “That must have been the Blibbering Humdingers.”

“Oh, they do hibernate,” Luna said, nodding, “But only every one hundred years. This reminds me! That is coming up in December! Has it already been one hundred years? Wow!”

Ron tried his best to hide his snort, but Luna didn’t hear it anyway. She was looking out the window dreamily, probably wondering if she could spot a Snorcack or something.

Harry didn’t mention Dumbledore’s Army during the train ride. He didn’t want to bring it up because he thought it might bring up issues he didn’t want to talk about.

Finally, the Hogwarts express arrived at Hogsmeade, and when Harry and the others walked off the train, it was into a downpour. Harry could barely hear Hagrid’s call of “First years, over here!” over the wind and rain as he ran into an empty carriage. However, Ginny, Hermione and Ron didn’t follow him into the carriage. Harry looked out into the rain, and saw that they were staring at something.

“Something wrong?” Harry asked, as he walked out of the carriage.

None of the three answered. Harry then finally realized what they were staring at.

“I get it,” Harry said, looking at the Thestrals in front of the carriage, “You all can see them now, can’t you?”

Ron, Hermione and Ginny nodded.

“I understand,” Harry said, solemnly, “But if you don’t get in the carriage, you are liable to catch a cold. So…”

Hermione and Ginny nodded and hurried into the carriage, but Ron was still looking at the Thestral.

“I didn’t realize how odd it looked,” he said, “This is what we flew to the Ministry on at the end of our fifth year?”

“Yeah,” Harry said.

“Wow,” Ron said.

“Yeah,” Harry said again.

“Coming, Ron?” Hermione asked from inside the carriage.

“I guess,” Ron said, and he walked into the carriage.

Harry followed him in and sat next to Ginny. Luna and Neville then walked in and sat down as well.

“The rain is horrible!” Neville said, “Isn’t it?”

Ron, Hermione and Ginny didn’t do anything.

“What is wrong with them?” Luna asked Harry.

“They just got their first look at the Thestrals,” Harry said.

“Oh,” Neville said.

“It’s okay,” Luna said, “They are really nice!”

Ron, Hermione and Ginny nodded slightly. The carriages started moving and twenty minutes later, they arrived at Hogwarts. Harry and the others hurried out of the carriage and up the stairs into the Entrance Hall of the castle. As Harry walked into the Great Hall, he heard different students say his name or tell their friends that he was there.

Harry had expected this. His fame was still going to be talked about for a long time. Harry, Ginny, Hermione and Ron sat down at the end of the Gryffindor table near the door.

“That is strange,” Hermione said, “I was hoping we would see who the new Headmaster was. But there is no one in the Headmaster’s chair.”

Harry looked up at the Professor’s table. Sure enough, many of the Professors were already sitting at the table. The Headmaster’s chair was empty.

“Maybe it is Hagrid!” Ron said, “I mean… isn’t he still taking the first years across the lake?”

“Maybe,” Hermione said.

More and more students walked through the doors of the Great Hall and sat down at different tables. Harry looked over at the Slytherin table. As far as he could tell, none of the Slytherins in his year had shown up. But Harry had also expected this.

Once everyone of the students, other than the new first years, were seated at their tables, a loud ding was heard at the Professors’ table. Harry looked toward the noise. Professor McGonagall was standing in front of her chair, which was on the left of the empty headmaster’s chair.

“Quiet down, everyone,” she said.

Gradually the students quieted down until finally the hall was silent.

“As you may have noticed,” McGonagall said, “The new headmaster of Hogwarts is not here yet. I expect he will be here shortly, but as I understand, Hagrid and the new first years have made their way through the downpour of rain and are ready to come through. Mr. Filch, if you please?”

Mr. Filch hobbled to the giant oak doors and opened them all the way up. Sure enough, right behind Filch, Hagrid and the new first years were walking into the Great Hall. Every single one of them were soaked to the skin and nervous, but still looked happy to be here. Harry caught some of them looking at him as they passed by the end of the Gryffindor Table.

By the time the twenty-or-so first years had made their way to the other end of the Great Hall, Professor McGonagall had walked around to the front of the Professors’ table. The ancient Sorting Hat, looking a bit burned from the damage Voldemort had done to it, but still looking as good as ever,
was sitting on a small stool.

“Before we begin the sorting, I have some bad news,” Professor McGonagall said, “Due to the damage it had sustained in the great Battle of Hogwarts, the Sorting Hat is unable to give its annual Pre-Sorting song.”

Many sad remarks and “awws” erupted from the students around the hall.

“The Sorting Hat has asked me to apologize to you on its behalf,” McGonagall said, “But it is able to continue with its sorting. So, let’s begin.”

It took almost half an hour to sort the new students into their respective houses. During the whole ordeal, Harry could hear Ron muttering wishing the Sorting would hurry up and that he hoped McGonagall would save her announcements till after dinner. During this time, Harry noticed that Hermione was rolling her eyes at Ron.

“Well, I was hoping the new Headmaster would get here while the Sorting was taking place,” McGonagall said, in a very annoyed tone, walking back around to her chair, “But I guess I will have to make some of the announcements.”

“Well, the new headmaster isn’t Hagrid,” Ron said.

“Yeah, but whoever it is isn’t starting on McGonagall’s good side,” Harry said, “I wonder where he is.”

“I wonder who he is,” Ron said, chortling.

“First I want to make the usual reminder,” McGonagall continued, “The Forbidden Forest is strictly off-limits to everyone. The forest is a very dangerous place, more-so as of late. The battle that had taken place here has done considerable damage to the Forest. That just doesn’t mean the trees and plant-life in the forest. Hagrid has told me that the magical creatures are in a particularly foul mood right now. So I do not want to hear anything about any of you going into the forest.”

McGonagall looked around the Great Hall, probably for any rule-breakers who was already planning on an adventure into the forest.

“Next,” she said, “As you all know, the castle had also taken some considerable damage in the battle. Over the summer, we had done some repair to the castle, but more has to be done. I want all of you to be extra careful when walking around the corridors. Third, I am sure that all of you know the threat that still lingers over the wizarding world. Death Eaters are still on the loose. I say this, not to scare you, but to warn you. The Ministry is looking for them, but as of right now, it is only partially successful. Therefore, when you walk around the corridors of Hogwarts, you will be happy to know that you will be safe. Security will be walking around the halls for your safety, and they will make sure that your year here at Hogwarts is very enjoyable.”

“Fourth,” McGonagall said, “I would like to introduce one of the new appointments to the staff this year: Professor Redcorn. He will be the new Muggle Studies Professor.”

McGonagall looked to her left. Down near the end of the table, a man in his mid-forties stood up and bowed slightly. He had short reddish-brown hair and was of average height. The students around the Hall applauded the new Professor, who sat back down in his chair.

“Next,” McGonagall said, “for those few Quidditch Players who want to pursue a career in the sport --“

“Hold on,” Ron whispered to Harry, “Where is the new Defense Against the Dark Arts Professor?”

Harry shrugged.

“Shh!” Ginny said, “I want to hear this!”

“Scouts from around the Quidditch League," McGonagall plored on, "will be in the stands during every one of the Quidditch Games this year. They will be looking for new players. If you need any more information, Madam Hooch will give you all that you need.”

Suddenly, the two large oak doors opened, causing everyone to look toward them. A tall, thin man with short grey hair walked through the doors.

“Students and fellow Professors,” McGonagall said, clearing her throat, “I would like to introduce the new Headmaster of Hogwarts and the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher… Professor Emelius Browne.”

Cliffhanger! I know… my reviewers probably didn’t want this cliffhanger, but I have been planning this one for a while now. Next chapter you will learn more about the new Headmaster, and who the new Head Boy and Head Girl are as well!

Oh, and truthfully, I couldn't come up with anything for a Sorting Hat song, so that is why I did what I did.

Also, for a few bonus points (actually more for my amazement), do you know where I got the name of the new Headmaster? For those who don’t, the answer will be in the next chapter’s beginning Author’s Note!

Hope you liked it! Feedback would be great! You can find it at the link in my signature.

November 5th, 2007, 4:30 pm
Chapter 20
Emelius Browne

Author’s Note: I said I would answer and here you go: the name Emelius Browne is from the movie “Bedknobs and Broomsticks”. I recently watched the movie and the name stuck with me. Some people got it right, so congrats! A couple of my reviewers wondered why I would choose an original character as the new Headmaster. Well, I wanted to open up to new possibilities. Also, JK Rowling herself said that McGonagall would not be the new headmistress, and given some thought, I didn’t want Hagrid as the new headmaster. Also, this chapter will be in a couple of POVs, and will switch back to the first one later in the chapter, just to let you know. Enjoy the chapter!

(Harry’s POV)

Every student, and many of the Professors, were looking at the new Headmaster as he walked down between the tables toward the Professors’ table. As Emelius Browne walked past Harry, Harry was sure that Emelius had taken a second glance at him. On any other occasion, this wouldn’t have surprised Harry one bit. But Browne’s entrance was quite as mysterious as could possibly be.

His appearance also was pretty mysterious, other than the fact that he looked as serious as could possible. Maybe it was for just for the special occasion of the Beginning of Term feast, but Harry couldn’t help but notice that Browne was wearing the most glamorous of suits; black and white with a bow-tie around the neck. Harry’s first impression was that Browne looked like a penguin he had seen at the London Zoo once.

Browne walked around the Professor’s table and over to McGonagall, who talked to him in silent whispers. Browne nodded and McGonagall looked around at the students.

“Professor Browne would like to say a couple of things,” she announced.

McGonagall sat down and Browne turned toward the students.

“First off,” Browne said, “I would like to apologize for my very late entrance. I missed the Hogwarts Express and had the misfortune to have to take the Knight Bus to Hogsmeade.”

“He wanted to take the train?” Ron muttered softly, “Why didn’t he apparate?”

Harry shrugged.

“Unlike the former and late headmaster,” Browne continued, “I was never a student here at Hogwarts. I lived in Scotland for most of my life and, all of you who don’t believe in the Loch Ness Monster, I invite you to my office sometime this year. I have loads of stories!”

Many of the students laughed, but others looked skeptical.

“Generally, as I am not familiar with the goings-on of this magical school,” Browne said after the laughter died down, “I might need a little help getting acquainted with the wondrous things this great castle has to offer.”

“I am sure Peeves would volunteer,” Ron muttered with a grin.

Hermione smacked him on the back.

“So if you see me getting lost,” Browne said, “I encourage you to help an old man out, eh? Now, Professor McGonagall has told me that she has already explained the rules and guidelines to you all. I know all of you are very hungry, but I have a couple of announcements I need to give. As the Headmaster of Hogwarts, it is my job to name this year’s Head Boy and Head Girl.”

Many of the seventh (and so-called “eighth”) years looked excited.

“When Professor McGonagall chose me as the new Headmaster,” Browne said, “She gave me a list of names for me to go through and decide. It has taken hours upon hours and cup after cup of coffee to come up with, but a couple of names sparked my interest. So without further ado, my pick for Head Girl this year… is Hermione Granger!”

An uproar of cheers along the Gryffindor table erupted. Hermione stood up, blushing madly.

“My pick for Head Boy,” Browne continued, “Is Ronald Weasley!”

At first, it was obvious that Ron hadn’t heard his name. He was much too happy for Hermione.

“Ron,” Harry said.

“I know, I know!” Ron said, “She’s Head Girl!”

“You are Head Boy,” Ginny said.

“What?” Ron asked.

He looked up at Professors Browne and McGonagall, both who were grinning at him.

“She’s telling the truth?” Ron asked Harry, looking back at him.

Harry nodded.

“I thought it would be you!” Ron said to Harry.

Truthfully, Harry thought it would have been him too. If Harry’s name was on the list McGonagall had given Browne, his name would have stuck out like a sore thumb. So why had it not been him? He wasn’t jealous that Ron was chosen, he was just surprised that he, himself, wasn’t.

“Professor McGonagall has requested that the two of you remain here after the feast for your instructions,” Browne instructed, before looking at the rest of the students. “That concludes the announcements, and I know all of you must be hungry, so let the feast begin!”

Food of all sorts and sizes appeared on all of the tables.

“Doesn’t it seem strange that Ron and I were picked?” Hermione asked, trying her best to ignore the amount of food Ron was shoveling onto his plate. “I mean… I don’t want to complain, but it doesn’t seem fair to the actual seventh years.”

“Don’t worry about it!” Ron said, before biting into a chicken leg and swallowing, “I mean… you heard Browne. He had a list of students’ names. You should be flattered!”

“What? Like you?” Hermione asked.

“Nah, too strong of a word for me,” Ron said, “Amazed, yes. Shocked… yeah. But come on, look around. Do you notice anyone who is upset about Browne’s choices? You heard the reaction! The applause and cheering was so loud I didn’t hear my name!”

“I guess you are right,” Hermione said, “I wonder why we have to stay after the feast, though.”

“Probably to get your badges and some information,” Harry said.

“And you are not upset that you weren’t picked?” Hermione asked Harry, skeptically.

“Why should I be?” Harry asked, shrugging.

“I don’t know,” Hermione said.

“I would hate to be jealous now,” Harry said, “When my two best friends were picked. According to Browne, who doesn’t even know you well enough, you are the best for the job.”

“That brings up a point,” Hermione said, “He doesn’t know us well enough.”

“He didn’t know who most of the students are,” Ginny said, “He probably knows who Harry is, just cause of his fame… no offense, Harry.”

“None taken,” Harry said, finally putting food on his plate.

“But I can understand why he wouldn’t choose Harry,” Ginny said, “It might give him too much attention. Even I know that Harry probably wants to get away from all the fame and publicity.”

“She’s right,” Harry said.

Hermione didn’t say anything more about the subject, though she did look lost in thought.

(Ron’s POV)

After the feast, Ron and Hermione stayed behind in the Great Hall while all of the students had left to go to their respective Common Rooms. By the time Professor McGonagall and Professor Browne had walked over to Ron and Hermione, most of the professors had left the Great Hall as well.

“Well, first of all I would like to say congratulations to the two of you,” Browne said.

“Thanks,” Ron and Hermione both said.

“I couldn’t help but notice that you looked a little confused by the news of this,” Professor Browne said, “Any objections to my decision? I am all ears.”

“I am fine with it,” Ron said.

“Miss Granger?” McGonagall asked.

“Well, it is just,” Hermione said, “We are not actually seventh years, Professor McGonagall. It just seems unfair that –-“

“Ah, yes,” McGonagall said, before Hermione could go any further, “I see what you mean. Let me assure you that when I gave the list to Browne, I didn’t have any objections to any of the names. The actual seventh years did have a chance. If you want to know, Miss Granger, beside Harry… you were the only two in your year that were on that list.”

Ron and Hermione looked at each other in shock.

“Why wasn’t Harry chosen then, Professor Browne?” Ron asked.

“I thought it might come up, yes,” Browne said, “Well, I didn’t choose Harry for the simple fact that I knew he probably wouldn’t want the attention. He is well qualified, yes. If you want to tell him I said that, I give you all the permission in the world. Now, I will leave you with Professor McGonagall. I must be off to find my office. Hmm… I wish I had a map of this old castle.”

Ron chortled, thinking of the Marauder’s Map, as Browne walked off.

“Professor,” Hermione asked, looking over McGonagall’s shoulder at Browne as he walked through the oak doors. “Have you warned him of some of the dangers of this castle.”

“I don’t know what in the world you mean, Miss Granger,” McGonagall said, though she had the smallest of grins on her face.

“Well… Peeves for instance,” Hermione said.

“Ah, yes,” McGonagall said, “I am sure Browne will meet Peeves very soon.”

McGonagall paused, evidently listening for any sounds of catastrophe that might have followed her remark. But none came.

“Now,” McGonagall said, “How about we all go to the Gryffindor tower. I have a surprise for the two of you.”

Ron and Hermione both grinned as they followed McGonagall through the oak doors.

“Professor,” Hermione asked, as three of them made their way up the large staircase, “Are any of the Order here?”

“I assume you are wondering about security?” McGonagall said, “Yes, as a matter of fact, I have a meeting with them shortly, so how about we hurry?”

“And what are we to do about Dumbledore’s Army?” Ron asked.

“What does Harry have to say about it?” McGonagall asked.

“I think he wants to go through with it,” Ron said.

“You think he does?” McGonagall asked.

“He hasn’t talked about it much,” Hermione said, “He keeps it to himself. But it might be because of his conversation with Ron’s sister. Apparently Ginny thinks the Minister is actually hoping for a student army.”

McGonagall didn’t say anything.

“Professor?” Hermione asked, “It isn’t true, right?”

“I will talk to Harry about it,” McGonagall said.

Ron and Hermione looked at each other in wonder. However, they did not ask anymore of the subject. McGonagall didn’t say anything until they reached the Fat Lady’s portrait was… or where it should have been, because it wasn’t there.

“Err… where is the Fat Lady?” Ron asked as he walked through the portrait-less hole with Hermione and McGonagall.

“I wish I knew,” McGonagall said with a sigh, “And after the fiasco a few years ago with Sir Cadogan, I’d hate to put another portrait up here. So I have placed a few security charms.”

“You mean you can’t find the Fat Lady?” Hermione asked.

“Oh I am sure she is around here somewhere,” McGonagall said.

“Where can she be?” Ron asked, “She is a lady in a painting!”

“That has the ability to move around wherever she pleases, Ron,” Hermione said.

“Oh, in all actuality, she is supposed to come back to her painting,” McGonagall said, “But no luck as of yet. We asked her friend Violet, and, unless she is hiding something, she doesn’t know where she is either. But don’t worry, you two. It isn’t that big of a problem. As Head Boy and Girl, you just have to inform the Gryffindors of the situation, and make sure nobody else tries to get in. Understand?”

Ron and Hermione nodded.

“Good,” McGonagall said, “Now, my surprise is at the very top of the stairs on each side. Miss Granger, I will accompany you up the witches’ side. Mr. Weasley, you just wait at the top of the wizards’ side, okay?”

Ron nodded again, and McGonagall and Hermione walked off up the stairs. Ron started up the wizards’ side of the stairs and when he reached the top a couple of minutes later, there was a closed door. Ron tried to open it, but it wouldn’t budge.

“Great,” Ron muttered, “Just great.”

Ron started to walk down the steps again, but as he turned around, he heard the sound of someone clearing their throat. He turned around. Professor McGonagall was standing there.

“Professor?” Ron asked, “How –-“

“I thought I asked you to wait for me,” McGonagall said.

“Yeah, but the door was locked,” Ron said.

“You will see why,” McGonagall said, “Come on in.”

Ron walked into the room and his jaw dropped. It was a bedroom. Except it was much larger compared to his at the Burrow. There was only one bed and it was bigger than the bed in his dormitory. Ron noticed his trunk next to the bed. He also noticed the giant dresser across from his bed, and there was a big heater in the corner for cold nights. He noticed the giant window, which overlooked the Forbidden Forest , behind his bed.
Professor McGonagall walked over to the dresser and opened up one of the drawers. She took out a small book and gave it to Ron.
"Don't lose that book," she said, "You will write your password in there and that will be the password that gets you into here."

“This is my room?” Ron said, amazed, as he looked around the room.

“Yes,” McGonagall said, “But it hasn’t been used in a couple of years.”

“What do you mean?” Ron asked.

“Well, this is the first time in many years that two students of the same house were Head Boy and Girl,” McGonagall said, “Each tower has a bedroom for each, depending on what student gets the honor. Well, I believe this bedroom hasn’t been used since your brother Percy was Head Boy.”

“He never told me about the room!” Ron said.

“Of course not,” McGonagall said, “Or he wouldn’t have had the privacy he lacked in the dormitories.”

McGonagall looked at Ron with a smug smile.

“Wait a moment,” Ron said, “Does that mean that Hermione --“

“Miss Granger’s room is at the other end of the hall,” McGonagall said, nodding toward the other door in the room.

Ron hadn’t seen this door until now. He walked over to it and opened it. He saw a narrow corridor; at the other end of it was a door.

“There is also a private bathroom,” McGonagall said, “But you probably can’t see the door from here.”

“Wow,” Ron said, as he shut the door.

“I will just be going now,” McGonagall said, “You probably want to get to bed soon. Classes start in the morning.”

McGonagall walked over to the door that led to the stairway and walked through.

“And don’t forget to put your password into that book!” McGonagall said, as she shut the door.

Ron sighed and pulled his trunk to his bed. He opened it, and then looked around. He could definitely get used to this place. Suddenly, he heard a knock on his door, but it wasn't the door to the staircase. It was the other door that McGonagall must have come through. Ron stood up and walked over to it, then opened it. Hermione was standing there.

"I could sing!" Hermione said, with a big grin on her face, "We have our own bathroom!"

"Yeah, McGonagall told me," Ron said.

"Oh, it's great," Hermione said, "And it has a giant bathtub."

"Let me see that," Ron said.

Ron walked down the hallway and found a door in the center of the hallway. Ron went through this door and his jaw dropped. The bathroom was nearly the size of his bedroom.

“Isn’t it great?!” Hermione said, behind him.

“Yeah, it is,” Ron said.

He walked back into his bedroom and Hermione followed him in.

“You aren’t supposed to be in here,” Ron said.

“How do you know?” Hermione asked, walking over to the large window, “Oh, wonderful view of the forest. I can see the lake from my room.”

“It is a general rule, Hermione,” Ron said, “Or are you going to start breaking rules now that you are Head Girl?”

“I would never!” Hermione said, looking scandalized, as if the words were poison to her ears.

“Uh-huh,” Ron said, in a doubtful tone.

“Okay, maybe here and there,” Hermione admitted, “So you want me to leave.”

“Well, I have to unpack,” Ron said, “I want to get to bed. Have to wake up early. Oh, and I need to put a password in that book.”

“You haven’t done that yet?!” Hermione asked, “I put one in mine right away!”

”I was about to!” Ron said, truthfully, “But then you knocked on my door.”

”Uh-huh,” Hermione said, in the same doubtful tone Ron had given her a moment before. “So why don’t you do it?”

”Well, because you are in here!” Ron said.

”Then I will just go,” Hermione said.

”Can I see your room?” Ron asked.

”Nothing much to see,” Hermione said, “Besides you may not be allowed.”

”What is going to happen?” Ron scoffed, “I step too far towards your room and the floor will turn into a slide and send me back here.”

”Probably,” Hermione said, grinning.

”Rubbish,” Ron said, “What if I have to see you in the middle of the night? I-I mean, if something comes up.”

”Throw a rock at the door,” Hermione suggested.

”Where am I going to find a rock?” Ron asked.

”You will figure it out,” Hermione said, “Good night!”

She walked over to Ron and kissed him on the cheek, before walking out of the bedroom.

Ron grinned and walked over to the password book. He wrote down the word “Mione” on the first page of the book, then stored the book in the drawer.

(Harry’s POV)

When Harry woke up the next morning in his dormitory, he looked over at the bed next to his, which was supposed to be Ron’s bed. But as far as Harry could tell, there was nothing that even hinted that Ron had slept in that bed. Ron’s school trunk, usually open on the first day of term with things hanging out of it in a mess, was nowhere to be seen.

Harry got dressed into his school robes in a hurry and walked down the stairs to the Common Room. Ron was sitting on the couch in front of the fire with Hermione.

”Hey, what happened to you last night?” Harry asked Ron, as he walked over to the couch, “By the looks of it, you never even went to the dormitory.”

”That is because I didn’t go,” Ron said, “Both Hermione and I have our own bedrooms.”

And then Ron went off explaining about his new Head Boy bedroom, pausing only when Hermione had to add something. By the time Ron was finished, Ginny was walking over to them.

”Ginny, you will not believe what Ron just told me,” Harry said.

”I think I already know,” Ginny said, “How do you like your bedroom, Ron?”

”Wait, you know?” Ron asked.

”Percy showed me it when he was Head Boy,” Ginny said, shrugging, “Does it still have the same great view of the forest.”

”Fantastic view,” Hermione said.

”Wait a minute!” Harry said, “You can go into his room, Hermione?”

”Yeah,” Hermione said, nodding.

Ron rolled his eyes at Harry’s reaction and Hermione looked confused.

”What?” she asked.

”Nothing,” Harry said, grinning.

”Oh, I think I know what is going on,” Hermione said, “You think that just because I can go into Ron’s room...”

”I was saying nothing like that,” Harry said.

”I wonder what Ronnie has to say about that,” Ginny said, grinning.

”I thought she was breaking a rule going into my room,” Ron said, shrugging.

”And have you seen her room?” Harry asked, grinning as well.

”No,” Ron scoffed, “If I go anywhere near her room, I am afraid I will be hexed.”

”Hermione wouldn’t do that!” Ginny said.

”Actually she probably would,” Ron said, “But I didn’t mean that. Last time I tried to go up to Hermione’s room, I ended up sliding back down to the Common Room on my butt! I don’t want that happening again.”

”I remember when that happened,” Harry said, “That was back in fifth year.”

”Yes and I have not forgotten it,” Ron said.

”Well, we better get going to the Great Hall,” Hermione said, “McGonagall should be handing out the timetables.”

Harry, Ron and Ginny agreed and they all walked out of the exit.

”What did McGonagall have to say about this?” Harry asked, nodding back at the hole where the Fat Lady was usually standing guard at.

”She told us to explain to the Gryffindors that all proper security measures are in place,” Hermione said, “So there are no worries. I pinned up the information on the board. There shouldn’t be any problems.”

Harry could see where there might be problems with it, but he didn’t mention them at all.


In mid-breakfast, Professor McGonagall started to hand out the timetables to the students. It turned out that many of the classes Harry would be taking would be with Ginny, as well as Ron and Hermione. Defense Against the Dark Arts would be the first class of the day, and would take place on Mondays and Fridays, followed by Transfiguration and then Charms after lunch. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, Potions would be first then Herbology and then after lunch… Harry couldn’t believe his eyes. It said Dumbledore’s Army.

“What?” he muttered, “I don’t get it.”

“You have it too?” Hermione asked.

“What do you mean?” Harry asked.

“Tuesdays and Thursdays after lunch,” Hermione whispered, “Dumbledore’s Army.”

“Yeah,” Harry said, “But… why would it be on the timetable?”

“If I am not mistaken,” Ron said, “It is the only thing listed on Friday as well.”

Harry looked down at the Friday slot. Dumbledore’s Army was listed there as well.

“What is going on?” Harry asked.

“Harry?” Neville asked from a couple seats down, “Is this right? It says Dumbledore’s –“

“Wait, you have it too?” Harry asked, before looking up and around the Great Hall, “Who else has it?”

“Well, it doesn’t say a location,” Neville said, “Are we going to be having it in the Room of Requirement?”

“I don’t know,” Harry said, “The room sustained heavy damage –“

“Well, it must have healed itself,” Neville said, “Because I looked last night. It looked fine to me.”

“McGonagall,” Hermione said.

“What?” Harry asked, looking around. McGonagall was still delivering timetables.

“McGonagall said she would talk to you about Dumbledore’s Army,” Hermione said.

“She hasn’t said a word to me,” Harry said.

“Well, there hadn’t been time,” Ron said.

“Speaking of time,” Hermione said, “We need to get to class.”

“I haven’t finished my breakfast,” Ron complained.

“Come on!” Hermione said, pulling Ron up.

When Harry, Ron, Hermione and Ginny walked into the Defense against the Dark Arts classroom, it looked different than before. Usually there was stuff that associated with the dark arts hanging around the classroom so that the students would know what they were: pictures, graphs, etc. Now there was nothing around. Could this be a sign that Defense Against the Dark Arts wasn’t going to be fun this year?

“Please be seated,” Browne said from the other side of the room, “Class will start in a few minutes. Harry, I am glad you are here early. Can I speak to you for a moment?”

“Oh, sure,” Harry said.

Ginny, Hermione and Ron found seats near the front of the class, though Ron was muttering about not wanting to sit so close. Harry, however, walked up to the front of the classroom and over to Browne’s desk.

“We haven’t had the pleasure to actually meet until now,” Browne said. “I would like to talk with you, but now is not the time since class will be starting. Can I invite you to a meeting tonight in my office? Say… after dinner?”

“Oh!” Harry said, surprised at the request, “Yeah, I guess that would be all right. I am not doing anything tonight.”

“Great!” Browne said, before looking over Harry’s shoulder, “Yes, please be seated. Class will start in a few moments.”

Harry turned around. Parvati and Padma Patil entered the room, followed by Neville and Luna. Harry then deduced that class would be with the Ravenclaws.

“Well, I will be expecting you, Harry,” Browne said, as Harry looked back at him.

Harry nodded and walked over to Ginny’s table and sat down. Soon, more Gryffindors, including Lavender, Seamus and Dean, and more Ravenclaws walked into the room and took their seats. When it looked like everyone had come in, Browne walked over to the podium.

“Is everyone here that is going to be here?” Browne asked.

Everyone nodded.

“Good,” Browne said, “I didn’t get the time to introduce myself more than a little bit. Professor McGonagall first came to me looking for a Defense Against the Dark Arts Professor. I was a Professor in Scotland, and she had heard some good things about me. When I heard that the Headmaster position was open, I happily accepted. Then when Professor McGonagall told me the bad news that she didn’t have any plans for a Defense Against the Dark Arts Professor other than myself, I quickly accepted the position as well. Let’s see, anymore. I don’t want to give my age out, but I am much younger than Professor McGonagall.”

Some of the students laughed.

“Have you ever seen the Loch Ness Monster?” Luna asked.

“Hmm?” Browne replied.

“You said in your speech last night,” Luna said.

“Oh yes,” Browne said, “I haven’t seen enough to give anyone enough evidence, but I can tell you stories.”

“My father has seen it,” Luna said, “When I was just a baby.”

“What is your name, miss?” Browne asked, looking at a piece of parchment on his desk.

“Luna Lovegood,” Luna said.

“Lovegood, yes,” Browne said, “Not a very common last name. I am guessing you are the daughter of Xenophelius Lovegood?”

“Yes, sir,” Luna said, happily, “Have you met him?”

“No, but I want to,” Browne said, “I love the Quibbler.”

A snort came from Ron, and Hermione plopped him on the back.

“All right,” Browne said, shuffling some papers in front of him, “I have some good news and bad news for your first day of class. Good news: no homework!”

Cheers were heard from the majority of the class.

“But the bad news,” Browne said, “Pop quiz!”

The cheers went to complaints and jeers.

“Oh, don’t worry,” Browne said, grinning, “It isn’t for a grade. I just want to see how much you know. It will help me in the planning of my lessons.”

A lot of collective sighs were heard. Browne laughed a little at the reaction as he handed out the quizzes.

Browne instructed the students that once they were done with the quiz, which Harry discovered had 50 questions, they could have free time until the bell rang.

Harry and Ron were two of the last to get their quizzes done and just had a couple of minutes to spare. Hermione, of course, got her quiz done first and was grinning from ear to ear when she returned from bringing it up to the front. Harry was surprised to see that Ginny had done it rather quickly as well, though she wasn’t grinning as much as Hermione.

“I think Browne is a good professor,” Hermione said in the corridor after class, as she followed Harry and the others toward Transfiguration, “Class went pretty well.”

“I wonder why he didn’t say what school he was teaching at in Scotland,” Ron said.

“I don’t know,” Harry said, “Do you know how many magical schools there are in Scotland, Hermione?”

“Two, I think,” Hermione said, “Loch Trot is one. Then there is Shady Glades. I don’t think he taught at Shady Glades. It is more influenced on the Dark Arts.”

“Like Durmstrang?” Harry asked.

“Yeah,” Hermione said, “So what did Browne have to say to you?”

“Just wants to have a conversation with me in his office after dinner,” Harry said.

“I wonder why,” Ron said.

“Probably to meet the person who is the reason for Voldemort’s downfall,” Ginny said.

“Or maybe he is just picking out students he likes,” Hermione suggested, “He had an interest in Luna.”

“Small fan club she has,” Ron chortled.

“Stop it!” Hermione said, slapping Ron on the back again.

Harry and Ginny just laughed.

It turned out that both McGonagall and Flitwick were following in Browne’s footsteps. Both professors had pop quizzes for the students. The only interesting thing that happened in Transfiguration was that McGonagall wanted to meet with Harry privately as well, though Harry said he had to meet with Browne that evening. McGonagall looked annoyed.

After dinner, Harry went straight up to the headmaster’s office. When he got there, he had realized that he didn’t know the password to get into the office. He started naming off stuff that he thought Browne might use.

“Scotland,” Harry said.

The statues of the eagle didn’t move.

“Loch Trot,” Harry said, remembering the name of the school Hermione said.

Nothing happened.

“Come on,” Harry urged, “Let’s see… Loch Ness Monster.”

The eagle moved downwards into the ground and stairs appeared. Harry grinned, stunned at the password. He walked up the stairs into the office. The office hadn’t changed much since he had last seen it. Either Browne wanted to keep it the same, or he hadn’t had the chance to unpack his things. Harry looked behind the desk, where the portrait of Dumbledore was. Dumbledore was sleeping in his chair, the tip of his hat blowing from the breeze of his snores.

“Good, you made it,” Browne’s voice said.

Harry looked up. Browne was walking down the stone stairs.

“I see you figured out my password,” he said, “I guess it was a bit obvious.”

“Took me a while to get it,” Harry said, his eyes returning to Dumbledore’s portrait.

“Dumbledore must have been a great man,” Browne said, “I never had the chance to meet him.”

“He was the greatest wizard I ever knew,” Harry said.

“So I’ve heard,” Browne said, “Yes, Professor McGonagall told me that you and him had quite the friendship.”

Harry said nothing.

“I just wanted to let you know,” Browne said, walking over to his chair behind the desk and sitting in it, “That, to me, you are going to be like any other student in this school. I know you don’t want to be treated any differently.”

“Yes, sir,” Harry said.

“If you need anything though,” Browne said, “I want you to come to me. Not as a professor, but as someone who will listen.”

“Thanks,” Harry said.

“Anything you want to tell me?” Browne asked, “Maybe about the school… or something? I am not really associated with the school yet.”

“You will be,” Harry said, “Is that all you wanted?”

“Right now, yeah,” Browne said.

Harry had the strange feeling that Browne was trying to get answers out of him. Did he know about Dumbledore’s Army? Or was it something else?

“I would invite you to stay,” Browne said, “I would like a nice conversation with you. But it turns out I am pretty busy. Much to do. Say, did you like that quiz we had today?”

“It went well, I guess,” Harry said.

“I have been told you know a lot about the subject,” Browne said, “Best in the class.”

“I don’t know about that,” Harry said, “My friend –-“

Browne laughed. “Quite modest, you are,” he said, “Good. I’ve heard a lot about you, Harry. And everything I have heard has turned out to be true so far.”

Harry wondered what Browne had heard, but he didn’t ask.

“Good night, Harry,” Browne said.

“Good night, sir,” Harry said.

Harry left the office, still unsure about Professor Browne. Was he hiding something? Or was he just too busy to continue the meeting he was so wanting? Harry didn’t know, but he was too tired to think about it. He headed for the Gryffindor Common Room and went straight to bed. It had been a strange couple of days. But he was happy to be back at Hogwarts.

Chapter done! This has got to be one of the longest chapters I have ever written. I don’t know if I should apologize for the length or not, but whew!

More to come… hope you liked it.

Feedback would be great.

November 17th, 2007, 4:48 pm
Chapter 21
No Title

Author’s Note: Sorry for the delay. Writer’s Block is a pain!

The next morning, Harry sat at the Gryffindor table in the Great Hall with a lot on his mind. In just a few hours, Dumbledore’s Army would officially make its return and Harry hadn’t even come up with one idea for the first meeting. There were a lot of problems already.

How many students would show up to the meeting? Would it just be the members of the former Dumbledore’s Army who were still students at Hogwarts? Or would there be more? It was definitely not Harry’s choice to reform Dumbledore’s Army, but Harry couldn’t blame Kingsley Shacklebolt for it either. He didn’t control the schedules for the classes at Hogwarts. Was it McGonagall who was planning this?

The other problem Harry had was what he would do for the first meeting. He didn’t have any plans to teach something to the students. He also didn’t want to rely on Ron or Hermione, who had helped Harry a lot during the first Dumbledore’s Army, to make the decisions for him.

“Harry, are you okay?” a voice said, interrupting Harry’s thoughts.

Harry looked up. Hermione and Ron were standing up across the table.

“Yeah,” Harry lied.

“Well, we need to get to the dungeons,” Hermione said, “Potions starts in a few minutes.”

Harry looked down at his plate. He had not eaten any of his bacon or eggs. He sighed; this was going to be a very bad day, he just knew it.

Harry stood up and followed Ginny, Hermione and Ron down to the dungeons. When they walked into the Potions classroom, Professor Slughorn and Madam Pomfrey were there talking to each other. Other students were already sitting at their desks.

“Harry, m’boy,” Slughorn said, looking over Pomfrey’s shoulder, “Good to see you!”

“You too, sir,” Harry said.

Though this wasn’t all true. Harry remembered the actions Slughorn had in the battle of Hogwarts. Slughorn had given very ill judgment deciding his place in the battle. McGonagall had warned him and, when the Slytherins were told to leave the school with the other students who didn’t fight in the battle because they were too young or chose not to, Slughorn left with them.

“Is something wrong, Professor?” Hermione asked, looking from Slughorn to Madam Pomfrey.

“Oh, no, Miss Granger,” Slughorn said, “Everything is perfect. Madam Pomfrey is here to assist us today in class. And it is about to start! So would you please take your seats?”

Harry and Ginny sat at the center table in the front row, and Ron and Hermione sat at the desk on the right of them. Slughorn clapped his hands to get the students’ attention.

“Good morning!” he said, “Would you please get out your things for Potions, as well as your Advanced Potions book, and turn to Chapter 15: Moste Marvelous Medical Potions?”

Around the room, shuffling was heard as everyone took out their books and potion ingredients and other essentials.

“As you must have already noticed,” Slughorn said, over the noise of the preparations, “Madam Pomfrey is here with us today. The reason why? Your first potion of the year will be to make the medical potion known as the Pepper-Up Potion. Madam Pomfrey is running out of the potion in the Hospital Wing, and I thought it would be good if we made some. Now, only the best-working ones will result as a passing grade. Whatever potions Madam Pomfrey picks will immediately get a passing grade. The others will be graded on their accuracy.”

Around the room, many of the students looked pleased at this challenge.

“Because this is your final year at Hogwarts as a student,” Slughorn said, “I will not be guiding you in your potion-making. You must do it alone. I will not write anything on the blackboard. If you need any of the potion ingredients, please get some from the storage. If done correctly, you should be able to finish the potion by the end of class. So… begin!”

For being such a common potion in the magical medical variety, the Pepper-Up potion was kind of hard to make. Slughorn kept looking at Harry, and Harry was sure Slughorn was thinking about what happened a couple of years ago when Harry had been so good at Potions because of the Prince’s book.

“You can copy from me,” Ginny muttered, so only Harry could hear.

“What?” Harry whispered.

“I know you are dreadful at Potions,” Ginny whispered, “It is no secret, you know. And I know you need to pass this class to even think about getting into the Aurors. So let me help you.”

“Since when are you good at Potions?” Harry whispered.

“You would be surprised,” Ginny whispered.

Harry thought for a moment. Would Slughorn notice if he copied off of Ginny? Did Harry even want to copy off of Ginny? This was the first time he had ever seen Ginny attempt a Potion.

“Fine,” Harry finally said.

“Good,” Ginny said, grinning, “Besides, I know you aren’t focused on your work.”

“What do you mean?” Harry asked.

“Dumbledore’s Army, of course,” Ginny said.

“I thought you weren’t interested in that,” Harry said.

“I have given it some thought,” Ginny said, twisting the cap off a bottle of Newt eyes.

“I thought you were more worried about Quidditch,” Harry said, mimicking Ginny.

“I am,” Ginny said, “But try-outs aren’t scheduled for a couple of weeks, so I thought I would see what would happen. Besides, aren’t you planning on trying out for Seeker again?”

“I haven’t thought about it, to be honest,” Harry shrugged.

“Harry, we got you a new broom for the occasion,” Ginny said, taking a couple of the Newt Eyes out and dropping them into the cauldron.

“Yeah I know,” Harry said, dropping the Newt Eyes into his cauldron as well, “I just may be really busy, you know?”

Ginny didn’t answer. Instead, for the next few minutes, she continued pouring ingredients into the cauldron. Harry did the same, and soon, the potion turned a light-grey. He looked at the book. It said it should be light-grey at this point.

“You do know your stuff,” Harry said to Ginny.

“At least one of us does,” Ginny said, grinning.

Harry rolled his eyes and looked over at Ron and Hermione’s cauldrons. Ron’s potion was still as clear as water, which wasn’t even listed as a suggested color anywhere in the recipe. Hermione’s potion, however, was black, grey and white, which was a further step suggested for the potion.

When there was only five minutes to go till the end of the class, Slughorn clapped his hands again to alert everyone.

“All right!” he said, “Time is up!”

Harry stopped and looked at his potion. It was a dark grey color. He then looked at his book. The potion was the color it was supposed to be.

“Well, it looks right,” Harry said, looking over at Ginny’s potion which was the same color.

“How thick is it?” Ginny asked.

Harry dipped the mixing spoon into the potion. He could feel a bit of thickness as he tried to move the spoon around the cauldron.

“Sort of thick, I guess,” Harry said, “Is that good?”

Before Ginny could answer, Professor Slughorn and Madam Pomfrey walked over to Harry’s and Ginny’s cauldrons. After a moment of hums and then complete silence, Madam Pomfrey smiled.

“Wonderful concoction, the both of you!” she said, as she took a couple of vials out of her pocket and poured a bit of each of the potions into the vials.

“Passing grades!” Slughorn said.

Harry grinned at Ginny, who had a look of “I told you so.” Madam Pomfrey and Slughorn moved over to Ron and Hermione’s cauldrons. After a moment, Madam Pomfrey shrugged at Ron’s cauldron, but put the vial into it. When she took the vial up, there was a large hole in the vial.

“Oh dear,” Madam Pomfrey said.

Slughorn didn’t say anything and Ron just groaned. After a quick grin, Madam Pomfrey said that Hermione’s was wonderful. Others in the class were merely passable, but some were, if possible, worse than Ron’s. On one occasion, one vial looked passable until it exploded sending most of the students retreating under their desks. The bell rang a moment later and most of the students walked out. Harry, Ginny, Hermione and Ron were only left. Harry grimaced as he walked toward the door with the others. There was a big mess. Everyone had left the failed potions, and the disastrous results, all over the class.

“Mr. Weasley?” Slughorn asked.

“Yes?” Ron asked, wincing, apparently thinking he was going to get punished for his disaster of a potion.

“Tell you what,” Slughorn said, “If you clean up this mess, I will just ignore your potion and give you full credit.”

“Er… sure,” Ron said, before turning to the others, “I will see you in a bit.”

“Hurry up, Ron,” Hermione said, “We got Herbology next.”

Ron nodded, but as Harry walked out of the classroom with Ginny and Hermione, he heard him groan.

“I guess you are still trying to make Slughorn think you are brilliant at Potions?” Hermione asked Harry, as they walked out of the castle toward the greenhouses.

“What do you mean?” Harry asked.

“Well, I am not saying you are as bad as Ron at Potions,” Hermione said, “But normally, you would probably be helping Ron with cleaning up now. I don’t get it. You don’t still got that rubbish Potion book of the Prince’s, do you?”

“No,” Harry said.

“So how did you do it?” Hermione asked.

“I helped him,” Ginny admitted.

“What?!” Hermione asked, “Ginny…”

“Harry’s dream is to be an Auror, Hermione,” Ginny said, “This is his last chance to get to have that dream. He may be rubbish at Potions, oh, no offense Harry, but I am not going to let some stupid subject ruin that dream!”

Harry was speechless, and fortunately for Ginny, so was Hermione.

A few minutes later, Harry, Ginny and Hermione arrived at the greenhouses. Other students were crowded around them; one was Neville.

“Awesome!” he spoke up to Harry, “You get to be in the first class where I am student-teacher.”

“Brilliant,” Harry said, “Er… where is Professor Sprout?”

“She’ll be here soon,” Neville said, “Hey, where is Ron?”

“Right here,” Ron said behind Harry.

Harry turned around. He half-expected Ron to look really dirty from cleaning, but Ron didn’t look too bad.

“That was fast,” Hermione said.

“I used magic,” Ron said, shrugging, “Always handy for times like that.”

The door to Greenhouse one opened up and Professor Sprout walked out.

“In here, you lot!” she announced.

Neville walked in first, followed by Harry and the others.

“Before we begin,” Sprout said, as everyone took their spot around the long table, “I have a couple of announcements. I am sorry to say that I have decided to retire at the end of the school year.”

Sounds of “aww”s and “no way!”s were heard around the greenhouse.

“I know,” Sprout said, “But I have been a teacher here for a long time. I need to retire. But I have some news! Neville Longbottom, here, is very interested in being the next Herbology Professor. So I have assigned him to be my student-teacher this year. If everything goes right, he will be the new Professor next year.”

“All right, Neville!” Seamus said.

“Yeah, sounds great, Neville!” Hannah Abbot said.

Neville just blushed.

Like her colleagues the previous day, Professor Sprout had a pop quiz for the students, just so she would know how much they know about the subjects already. This pop quiz however was hands-on, and consisted of three or four magical plants. Harry only succeeded in nurturing two of the plants by the time the bell rang.

While Harry, Ginny, Ron and Hermione walked toward the castle, Harry started thinking about what he would do with Dumbledore’s Army, and when Ginny, Ron and Hermione went into the Great Hall, Harry didn’t follow them.

“What’s wrong, Harry?” Ginny asked.

“You go on,” Harry said, “I am going up to the Room of Requirement.”

“You aren’t going to eat?” Ginny asked.

“I am not hungry,” Harry said, “See you in a while.”

“I will bring something up for you,” Ginny said.

“All right,” Harry said, “If you want to.”

Ginny nodded and followed Ron and Hermione toward the Gryffindor Table. Harry sighed as he watched them. It was true, he did want something to eat, but if he wasted any more time, he wouldn’t be focused on Dumbledore’s Army. He started up the Grand Staircase, and twenty minutes later, he found himself in front of the blank wall where the Room of Requirement was located.

“I need a place big enough for at least forty people,” he muttered as he walked back and fourth three times, “and good enough for a hands-on lesson of basic and advanced wand-dueling skills.”

Harry looked up, hoping for the best but expecting the worse. He smiled to himself when he saw the doorway, consisting of two large oak doors, not unlike the doors at the Great Hall. When he walked into the room, his jaw dropped. Nev ille was right; the Room of Requirement had fixed itself, and for this particular request, it had done more than Harry thought possible. The room was as long as a Quidditch Pitch. Along the walls were shelves of books and parchment. In the middle of the room was a long raised stage, which looked like a dueling platform.

“I know what to do now,” Harry said, grinning, as he walked over to the stage.

It was simple enough that Harry was amazed he hadn’t thought of it before. There was only going to be one way to know what the students knew when it came to what he would be teaching. It would teach the students different spells while showing them how to do them and having them participate in them hands-on. It would show them the dangers and environment of the duels.

“A tournament,” Harry said, “Why didn’t I think of that before?”

“I am very impressed, Harry,” said a familiar voice.

Harry turned on the spot. Professor McGonagall was standing inside the doorway.

“Professor?” Harry asked, “What are you doing here?”

“Just wanted to know if you were ready,” McGonagall said, “Your first class takes place in less than an hour.”

“I thought the correct term was meeting,” Harry said.

“More or less,” McGonagall said, “But to Professor Browne and other professors, the students will all be in a class.”

“I just hope Browne doesn’t notice a good number of students missing,” Harry said, “He doesn’t know about this place.”

“Yet,” McGonagall said.

“What?” Harry asked.

“Oh, I am sure there will be a slip of the tongue sometime this year,” McGonagall said, “One of your… well, students, I guess we should call them… might have loose lips, if you know what I mean.”

“These are going to be secret meetings,” Harry said, “All precautions will be taken.”

“I am happy to hear that,” McGonagall said, “But if I remember correctly, your safety precautions didn’t stop Umbridge a few years ago, did it?”

Harry opened his mouth, but closed it, having no possible answer to that question.

“Mmhmm,” McGonagall said, “Well, I am sure you will figure it out soon. Good day, Harry.”

She turned to the doors and walked out of them. As she walked out, Ginny, Ron and Hermione walked in.

“Bloody hell,” Ron said, “The Room of Requirement has outdone itself.”

“What did McGonagall want?” Hermione asked.

“She thinks that Browne will find out about Dumbledore’s Army,” Harry said.

“There is always a chance,” Hermione said, “But I don’t think you have to worry. I have some ideas to better security and secrecy in Dumbledore’s Army this time. Hopefully, you won’t have to find out about it though.”

“Blimey, what are you planning on doing with this?” Ron said, pointing to the big stage as he walked over to it.

“We are going to have a dueling tournament,” Harry said, simply.

“Brilliant!” Ron said.

“Yeah, I like it too,” Ginny said, “Oh, right, I got you some food for lunch, Harry. Mum would have a fit if she knew that you weren’t eating.”

“Are you sure about this, Harry?” Hermione asked, “A tournament? Like a dueling tournament?”

“Yeah,” Harry nodded.

“Couldn’t it get out of hand?” Hermione asked.

“There is always a chance,” Harry said, mimicking Hermione’s answer a couple of minutes before, “But I am sure it will go smoothly.”

“Yeah, Hermione,” Ron said, “You don’t have to worry. I personally think it is a great idea.”

Hermione didn’t say anything. She walked over to the door to close it, but it opened and more students walked in. Neville, Luna, Dean, Seamus, Lavender and both Patils all came in together.

“I think we can assume most of the members of the old Dumbledore’s Army that are still here will be coming,” Ron said.

“Yeah,” Harry said, nodding.

A minute later, Justin Finch-Fletchley and a few other “eighth years” walked in. Students that looked as if they were sixth and seventh years joined. Dennis Creevey was the last to walk in. For Harry, this was the first time he had seen Dennis since the funeral a few months before, though he wasn’t the least bit surprised when Dennis walked over to him.

“I just want you to know that I am only here in the memory of my brother,” Dennis said, “I wasn’t too sure about coming, but all of us Dumbledore’s Army lads got to stick together, eh?”

“Yeah,” Harry said.

All of the students were huddled around the stage, chatting to each other. Harry walked onto the stage, and Hermione, Ron and Ginny followed him.

“All right, settle down,” Harry said, loudly.

It took a couple minutes for the chatter to quiet down.

“We can’t be in here for too long,” Harry said, “Maybe a couple of hours. Any longer and some people would get suspicious. With that said, I would like to start. A lot of you were in Dumbledore’s Army a few years ago, and I am happy that you are back. To the new students, I welcome you here. Before we go any farther, I want you all to sign a piece of parchment. It will let me know who is in Dumbledore’s Army.”

“I am sure there are other reasons as well,” a fifth year Ravenclaw said.

“Shut up, Hugh!” another fifth year Ravenclaw said.

“Hey, hey, no need for that,” Harry said, putting his hand up, “He is right. There are other reasons. I won’t lie to you. Dumbledore’s Army has to be kept a secret. There aren’t very many who know about Dumbledore’s Army. Most of them are in this room. Dumbledore’s Army is here for one purpose: to strengthen your dueling skills, as well as other skills. If word of this gets out, I cannot allow Dumbledore’s Army to stay around. Understand?”

Most of the students nodded. Harry took out his wand and pointed it to one of the bookshelves to his left.

“Accio Parchment and quills!” he said.

Five pieces of parchment and a few quills flew over to Harry and landed in his free hand.

“Line up and sign up!” Harry said, setting the parchment and quills on the stage.

It took fifteen minutes for everyone to sign their names on the pieces of parchment. Some who were reluctantly were the last to sign, but everyone in the room had agreed to the terms.

“Great,” Harry said, “Let’s get this underway then. The first thing we are going to do is have a tournament.”

Cheers were heard, as well as a few confused groans.

“It’s okay,” Harry said, putting his hand up, “If you don’t want to participate, you don’t have to. For those of you who don’t, there are books on the shelves to your left and right. If you read them, it will be the same as what you will do in the tournament. Just without the hands-on approach.”

After a moment, twelve of the students, mainly fifth and sixth years, walked away from the group and settled around the bookshelves.

“All right,” Harry said, “This will be split up in three parts. Fifth years. Sixth years. And Seventh and so-called eighth years. However, in the finals of the tournament, it will be possible for a fifth year to battle a seventh year and so on. I hope you are prepared. There will be normal duels, and there will be advanced duels. But there are also rules!”

Most of the students groaned.

“I know,” Harry said, “Rules are boring, but we got to have them. First rule… no aiming to kill! That is the most important. Second… no unforgivable curses. Third… do not try to seriously injure your opponent. We don’t want to have to send someone to the hospital wing, because it will cause questions to be asked. Fourth… you can use whatever you want in your surroundings. You can summon stuff and all that good stuff. Got it?”

Everyone nodded.

“Good,” Harry said, “We won’t be able to get through all the first round of the tournament today. Only fifth and sixth years will be dueling today. So we will begin with the fifth years.”

The fifth and sixth year duels lasted over an hour, and Harry kept looking at his watch for the time. Overall, it was an average performance with the students. But one that stood out in Harry’s mind was Hugh, the fifth year who spoke up earlier. He used offensive and defensive spells that might have been too advanced for any other fifth year. When Harry announced that it was time to leave, he requested that Hugh should say behind.

“Quite a performance, Hugh,” Harry said to the fifth year as most of the other students left the Room of Requirement.”

“My father was an Auror,” Hugh said, “He taught me how to duel.”

“He taught you well,” Harry said, “Tell him I am impressed.”

“Thanks,” Hugh said, “But I am afraid I cannot tell him. He died a few years ago. The ministry believes one of the Death Eaters killed him.”

“I am truly sorry,” Harry said.

“Thanks,” Hugh said again, “Well, I better get going.”

“See you Thursday,” Harry said, “Same time.”

“Yep,” Hugh said.

Hugh then left the room.

“Well, I have to say that it went pretty well,” Ron said.

“Yeah, great first meeting,” Hermione said.

Ginny, however, said nothing.

“Something wrong, Ginny?” Harry asked.

“No,” Ginny said quickly, “Well, yeah. I haven’t decided on how many of these meetings I will attend. I am so focused on Quidditch.”

“It’s okay,” Harry said, “I understand. The Quidditch scouts will be coming, and I know you want to be a professional Quidditch player.”

“Yeah,” Ginny said, “Well, I am going to go to the Common Room.”

She then walked out of the Room of Requirement.

“We need to do our Head Student duties,” Hermione said, “We will catch up to you later.”

Harry nodded and walked out of the room to catch up to Ginny. As he walked back to the Common Room, he thought about how well everyone did in the first meeting of Dumbledore’s Army. There was no need to worry now, he thought, Dumbledore’s Army was going to be as great as before if not better.

Sorry for the delay and the weak ending. I ran out of ideas.

Hope you liked the chapter.

Feedback would be great!

November 20th, 2007, 5:15 pm
Chapter 22
Dreams and Confessions

Author’s Note: This chapter will be in Hermione’s POV.

"He's on the move," Harry said quietly to Ron and Hermione. He glanced at Cho and then back to them, "Listen, I know it's not much of a lead, but I'm going to go and look at this statue, at least and find out what the diadem looks like. Wait for me here and keep, you know--the other one--safe."

Cho had got to her feet, but Ginny said rather fiercely, "No, Luna will take Harry, won't you Luna?"

Hermione didn’t hear what Luna had to say. She was too immersed in thoughts about the cup Horcrux that she and Ron had in their possession. Voldemort would be at Hogwarts soon, and if there was any chance of destroying him, the cup Horcrux had to be destroyed… but how? With the sword gone, there was no chance of destroying the Horcrux.

“Hermione,” Ron said.

“What?” Hermione asked.

She looked around. Harry was now nowhere to be seen.

“What do we do?” Ron asked. “I feel like we need to do something.”

“I don’t know!” Hermione said, “We have the cup and we can’t destroy it. We don’t have the sword anymore.”

“Hermione,” Ron said, “It wasn’t the sword that destroyed the Horcruxes.”

“What?” Hermione said, “Of course it was! Where have you been?!”

“No, Hermione!” Ron said, “It was the basilisk venom.”

“The venom?” Hermione said slowly.

She slapped her hand to her forehead.

“Of course!” she squealed. “Oh, Ron, you are brilliant!”

“Do you think Harry will be okay?” Ginny asked, walking over to Ron and Hermione. “Voldemort is really coming, right?”

“Yeah,” Ron said.

“Listen, Ginny,” Hermione said, “We have to go somewhere. If Harry comes back, tell him we are going to Myrtle’s bathroom. Come on, Ron!”

“A bathroom?” Ginny asked.

Hermione dragged Ron to the door and out of the Room of Requirement.

“We have to get into the Chamber of Secrets,” Hermione said, as she and Ron hurried down the Grand Staircase.

“But how?” Ron said, “I was there, remember?! There was only one way to get in, and unfortunately neither of us has that ability!”

“We will have to try!” Hermione said, “We have to get the basilisk venom!”

“I don’t know about this,” Ron said, in a panicked tone of voice.

Truthfully, Hermione didn’t know how they were going to pull this off either, but there had to be away. If there wasn’t, then there wizarding world had no chance.

Ten minutes later, Hermione and Ron reached Moaning Myrtle’s bathroom on the second floor. They went inside and ran over to sinks.

“This is the entrance to the Chamber of Secrets,” Ron said, “And I am telling you there is only one way in!”

“When Harry spoke Parseltongue, what did it sound like?” Hermione asked.

“A hissing noise,” Ron said, shrugging, “I don’t know.”

“Remember, please!” Hermione begged Ron.

“I can try to mimic it,” Ron said.

“Go on then,” Hermione said.

Ron cleared his throat.

“Hyahasshika,” Ron said, in a feeble attempt at hissing.

Hermione didn’t think it would work, but a moment later she heard a jolt come from the sink. Suddenly, the sinks and a large hole appeared.

“I-I did it?” Ron stammered.

“That was brilliant!” Hermione said.
“I didn’t know I had it in me,” Ron said.

“Come on!” Hermione said.

Without any second thoughts, Hermione jumped down the hole and was soon sliding deep underground. She heard Ron behind her, groaning a little. A minute later, Hermione came to the end of the slide-like pipe and landed with a thud on something that made crackling sounds.

“Ugh!” she groaned as got up from the ground and looked at it: there were the bones of mice and rodents littered all over the place.

“That was just how I remembered it,” Ron said, shuddering, “And it was just as scary as before.”

Hermione grinned, but the grin disappeared as she looked around. There were three other pipes and the only thing she saw through them was darkness.

“Where do we go?” she asked.

“This way, I think,” Ron said, pointing to the pipe ahead of them.

Hermione followed Ron into the pipe. A couple of minutes later, they arrived at a pile of rocks.

“We are going the right way,” Ron said, “A cave-in had blocked it, but Harry had to move the rocks away. I remember. Come on!”

Ron hurried forward at a pace where Hermione had to run to keep up with him.

“Slow down!” Hermione finally said a few minutes later when she was nearly out of breath.

Ron stopped and at first Hermione thought they were at a dead-end. At a second glance, Hermione saw that there was a large door.

“Speak in Parseltongue again!” Hermione said.

“Hyahasshika,” Ron said.

This time, there was no delay. With a loud noise echoing off the walls, the door opened. Hermione and Ron hurried through and this time they were in a very large room. There were statues of snakes on the sides of the walls. In the middle was a long stone walkway in between some water.

“T-there it is,” Ron said, shuddering and pointing to the end of the walkway.

Hermione saw it as well: a large snake-like skeleton was lying on the stone ground.

“Well, let’s go,” Hermione said, “It’s not like it will attack us, right?”

“I wouldn’t be too sure,” Ron said.

Hermione rolled her eyes and walked down the stone walkway. She heard Ron’s footsteps behind her, as well as Ron muttering silently. As she approached the skeleton, she realized it was bigger than she thought.

“Harry fought this?” Hermione asked, “I never realized it was so big.”

“You never saw it in that mirror of yours?” Ron said, “You know, when you got Petrified?”

“Ugh, do we have to bring that up?” Hermione asked.

“Oh, right, sorry,” Ron muttered.

“It’s okay,” Hermione said, “No, I didn’t really see it then.”

“So what do we do?” Ron asked.

“We have to get the fangs,” Hermione said, “And hope beyond hope that there is still venom inside them.”

“Er… right,” Ron said, “And… how do we do that?”

Hermione didn’t answer, but only looked at the large boney fangs. A minute later, she took out her wand and pointed it at the fang.

“Diffindo!” she said.

The large fang dropped away from the jaw.

“Brilliant, Hermione!” Ron said.

“Er… thanks,” Hermione said, grinning, “I didn’t know if that would work, to be totally honest.”

“How many do you think we need?” Ron asked.

“We better take a lot,” Hermione said, “We don’t know which ones still have venom in them.”

Hermione and Ron used several severing charms on the jaw, separating the fangs from it.

“We better go,” Hermione said, “We need to find Harry.”

“Hang on,” Ron said, “How about you destroy the cup?”

“W-what?” Hermione asked.

“You haven’t had the chance to destroy a Horcrux yet, right?” Ron asked.

“No,” Hermione said, “But… right here? Right now?”

“No better time than the present,” Ron said, shrugging.

“Okay, I guess I can,” Hermione said, nervously.

She dropped a few of the fangs, and held onto a larger on. She then took the silver cup from her cloak and looked at it.”

“So, just stab it?” Hermione asked.

“Yeah,” Ron said.

“Okay, heh,” Hermione said, laughing nervously, “Here goes nothing.”

She lifted up the fang, and Ron held up his hand.

“Wait!” he said.

“What?” Hermione asked.

“We don’t know what it will do,” Ron said, “I-I mean… when you stab it. So you better drop it as soon as you do.”

“Yeah, good advice,” Hermione said, rolling her eyes.

Truthfully, she didn’t need him to say that. What else was she going to do? Hold it?! Hermione took a deep breath and lifted the fang. But as she did, she saw something very weird inside the cup. What looked like water was filling the cup.

“Come on, Hermione!” Ron urged on.

Hermione didn’t move. She was looking at the watery substance. Her eyes went wide as she saw something in the water. There was a figure of a girl. A very familiar girl. The face of Lavender Brown was staring up at her. But there was something different about her face. Her eyes were glowing red.

“He’ll never want to be with you, Granger,” the figure said, “He told me, you see. He loved me. Why would he want to be with a Mudblood like you?”

“Hermione, destroy it!” Ron said, though it was very faint.

Lavender’s face disappeared, but another face replaced it: Harry’s face, with the same glowing red eyes.

“He thinks you love me,” Harry’s voice said, though it was cold, “Why would he want to intrude on that? We are his best friends.”

“Hermione, can you hear me?” Ron said. This time his voice was stronger.

Hermione blinked and, with all her strength, forced the fang into the cup.


Hermione opened her eyes and looked up. She saw the ceiling of her Head Girl room.


Hermione sat upright and looked at the door. Something was trying to get in.

“Hermione, can you hear me?” Ron’s voice said.

Hermione got off her bed and walked over to the door on her right, unlocked it and opened it.

“Whoa, watch out!” Ron screamed, “Reducto!”

Hermione screamed as a rock exploded feet from her. But instead of pieces of rock flying everywhere, it was pieces of maroon fabric.

“Damn, that was my favorite shirt!” Ron said.

“What the bloody hell is going on?!” Hermione asked.

“Sorry,” Ron said, “I was trying to wake you up. It sounded like you were… I don’t know, moaning? Bad nightmare?”

Hermione sighed and, in her mind, she saw the cup-Horcrux filling with water. She shook it out of her mind and looked on the floor.

“What is this?” she asked, pointing to the rocks on the floor, “Where did you get rocks!”

“Actually it isn’t rocks,” Ron said, “They are my clothes. I transfigured them. I remembered what you said. You know… throw rocks at the door if I need you.”

“Not at… what time is it?” Hermione asked, “Not at this time of the morning!”

“I was afraid you would wake someone up,” Ron said, “You woke me up.”

“Sorry,” Hermione said, “Now can you come get your rocks… or clothes… or whatever?”

“I can’t go over there!” Ron said, “If I could, I wouldn’t have done this.”

“Just try, Ronald,” Hermione said, sighing, “I am not going there. I am still in my nightgown!”

“Fine,” Ron said.

Ron walked timidly toward Hermione. Hermione rolled her eyes as she watched him.

“Honestly, you are pathetic!” she said, “It is not going to turn into a slide!”

Ron walked faster and sighed with relief when he wasn’t rolling back to the other end of the hallway.

“Now I have to find a new favorite shirt,” Ron muttered as he picked up his clothes and the pieces of torn fabric that was once a shirt.

“Don’t look at me,” Hermione said, “You were the one who made it explode.”

“I thought it was going to hit you!” Ron said. “You know how I would have felt if –-“

Hermione grinned when she noticed that Ron had turned red.

“Something wrong?” Hermione asked, still grinning.

“N-no,” Ron stammered, “I-I –- no, nothing.”

“You can’t tell me you have never seen me in my nightgown,” Hermione said, “All those times at the Burrow. I swear I have worn it to breakfast.”

“It’s not that,” Ron said, “You… look nice, Hermione.”

This time it was Hermione who started blushing.

“Really?” Hermione asked.

“Yeah,” Ron said, “I mean… truthfully, some Sleakeazy’s Hair Potion wouldn’t do harm. You got bedhead.”

“What?!” Hermione asked in a high-pitched voice.

“Bedhead,” Ron said, “It is what my brothers call it.”

“I was rudely wakened from my bed!” Hermione said, “Of course I got bedhead!”

Hermione rolled her eyes and slammed the door behind her.

“Hermione, I was kidding,” Ron said in a muffled voice, on the other side of the door. “I want to talk some more.”

“I have to get ready,” Hermione said, “We can talk in a bit.”

“Want to talk about your nightmare?” Ron asked.

“I didn’t have a nightmare,” Hermione said in a terrible attempt at a honest voice.

“You can't lie to me, Hermione,” Ron said.

“I don’t want to talk about it,” Hermione said, “Not right now. Now can I get ready?”

“Fine,” Ron said.

Hermione then heard Ron’s footsteps gradually get softer as he walked back toward his room. She sighed and closed her eyes, but then opened them again, afraid she would see something from her nightmare.

Why did she have to go through that again? Because, truthfully, it wasn’t a nightmare. It was more like a flashback into the events that had taken place. She never wanted to see that again. She figured it was the Horcrux defending itself, and it was just a spell, but how did the Horcrux know what she was thinking?

For at the moment she was with Ron in the Chamber of Secrets that day, she was fighting another battle in her mind. She was deciding how to tell Ron the truth: that she loved him and had loved him for a long time. Of course, the truth had come out a few minutes later when she had kissed Ron. At first, she didn’t know she how Ron would react. True, she knew he had some feelings for her. Ginny had told her so many times at the Burrow… how Ron always talked about her during the summers. It was easy to realize that Ron fancied her. She just wanted Ron to tell her that. But after waiting for months for Ron to finally admit his feelings, Hermione couldn’t take it anymore. She had to act out and that is why she had kissed him.

Well, that was most of the reason. The other part of the reason was what she had seen in the cup. It had stayed in her mind like a stain on a glass. It wouldn’t go away without some hard work. Those faces… Harry and Lavender, both with eyes so bright red. Lately it was hard to look at Harry without thinking of what she saw. But she couldn’t tell Harry what she saw. Could she even tell Ron the truth? Hermione knew that Ron expected some kind of answer. She didn’t know what Ron was thinking. Could he tell it was that bad of a nightmare?

Hermione took a deep breath and reminded herself that she was still standing in front of her door with only her nightgown on. She walked over to her dresser and took the pocket watch from the top of it. She opened it up. It was half-past-six!

“Already?!” Hermione cried out to no one in particular, “I don’t have time to take a shower or anything!”

There was no other way. She would have to miss breakfast. She was not going to go to class without taking a shower.

“This is NOT going to be a good day,” she said with a sigh, as she took out her Gryffindor robes. She gathered up her bath things and walked out of the room and into the hall. When she walked to the bathroom, the door opened before she even touched it. She nearly screamed when Ron walked out.

“Relax, Mione,” Ron said, “It’s just me.”

“I know,” Hermione said, taking a deep breath, “Sorry, I just –-“

“What are you doing anyway?” Ron asked.

“I was just going to go take a shower,” Hermione said.

“Right now?” Ron asked.

“Yeah,” Hermione said, “I am not going to eat breakfast. I am not going to class without taking a shower.”

“Oh, okay,” Ron said, walking around her.

Hermione sighed as she watched Ron walk toward his room.

“Ron,” she said, as Ron opened his door.

“Yeah?” Ron asked, turning around.

“I’ll talk to you about my dream later,” Hermione said.

“Are you sure?” Ron asked.

“Yeah,” Hermione said.

“All right,” Ron said, “See you in class. I love you.”

“I love you too,” Hermione said, smiling.

Ron grinned and walked into his room. Hermione walked into the bathroom and shut the door.

Hermione arrived in the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom with a few minutes to spare. Ron, Harry and Ginny were already in the classroom.

“There you are!” Ron said.

“Having a bad day?” Ginny asked.

“I woke up late,” Hermione said, sitting in the chair beside Ron.

“I honestly can’t believe that is late for you,” Ron said, “Six-thirty is early for me!”

“I am used to getting up around five-thirty,” Hermione said.

“Must be a girl thing,” Harry said.

Hermione rolled her eyes.

“Did you tell them that I had a nightmare?” Hermione whispered to Ron.

“No,” Ron whispered back.

“Thank you,” Hermione said.

Hermione’s earlier thoughts that this was going to be a bad day turned out to be right. It just happened that Hermione had achieved the best results on the pop quiz on Monday, and Professor Browne had unfortunately picked Hermione as his favorite student to ask questions to. Hermione answered the first two questions late, getting only some bad looks from Browne, who chose to ask Harry next.

After class, things only got worse. While heading toward Transfiguration class, Hermione, Ron, Ginny and Harry hit a detour: Lavender and Seamus had chosen a corner in the second floor corridor as a good place to get well-acquainted. Harry and Ginny walked ahead toward the Transfiguration classroom, letting Hermione and Ron, as Head Girl and Boy, deal with the snogging couple.

“Oi!” Ron said, “This isn’t the time or place for that!”

Lavender and Seamus tore apart hastily, and in the commotion, Lavender had accidentally poked Seamus in the eye.

“Oh great,” Seamus said, rubbing his watering eye, “I told you we were going to get told off.”

“Yeah, and it had to be the Head Couple too,” Lavender said, rolling her eyes.

“What did you say?” Ron asked.

“It is no secret that you two are finally together,” Lavender said.

“That is none of your business,” Ron said.

“Oh, and I suppose this is your business?” Seamus asked, motioning to himself and Lavender.

“There is no snogging in the hallways, Seamus,” Ron said, “You know that. Do you want a detention?”

Seamus and Lavender said nothing. Lavender just stared and for a split-second, Hermione thought she saw a flash of red. She shook herself mentally and looked away.

“Get to class,” Ron said.

“Hmmph!” Lavender muttered as she and Seamus walked away in a haste.

“You were awfully silent then,” Ron said to Hermione.

“Sorry,” Hermione said.

“It’s okay,” Ron said, “Let’s get to class.”

Hermione nodded and followed Ron to the Transfiguration classroom.

Later that night, Hermione and Ron were curled up on the couch in front of the fire. This had become their normal routine while waiting for the curfew to come around, making sure that every Gryffindor was inside the tower. Harry and Ginny were there as well, Harry in the most comfortable chair, and Ginny sitting on the floor at his knees.

“Is something bothering you today, Hermione?” Harry asked.

“No,” Hermione lied, “Why would you say that?”

“You just haven’t been your normal self,” Harry said, “ Normal ly you would have been asking all of us if we have even started on our Transfiguration essays and boasting on about how you already have yours finished.”

“Yeah,” Ginny said, “Not to mention that it would probably be twice as long as the rest of ours if not longer.”

“It was only the third day of classes,” Hermione said, attempting a lame excuse, “I haven’t gotten back into the mood.”

Hermione glanced over at Ron, who frowned. Apparently he was hoping that she would finally come out and tell everyone what was worrying her. Ron was about to say something, but was interrupted by two giggling voices. Ron and Hermione looked up. Lavender and Seamus were walking past them.

“Didn’t think we would be back by curfew, did you?” Lavender asked, looking at Hermione and Ron with narrow eyes.

Neither Hermione nor Ron said anything. Lavender rolled her eyes and retreated off with Seamus into a shady corner of the Common Room.

“What is up with her?” Ginny asked, “You guys didn’t give them detention, did you?”

“No,” Ron said.

“We should have,” Hermione said.

“What?” Ginny asked.

“They were snogging in the halls,” Hermione said.

“That usually would have substituted as a warning,” Harry said, “What else is going on?”

“I think I know,” Ron said, “They called us the Head Couple.”

Harry snickered and Ginny elbowed him in the knee.

“What? That is funny!” Harry said, still snickering, though he was rubbing his knee, “Head Couple. I like that nickname.”

“You are a prat,” Hermione said.

Hermione sighed and got up, using this as a good excuse to get out of the Common Room. She retreated up the stairs and went to her room. It was only a couple of minutes before there was a knock on her door, coming from the direction of the hallway splitting her room with the bathroom and Ron’s room. Hermione opened the door and wasn’t surprised to see that Ron was standing there.

“I have half a mind to put the sliding hex in the hallway,” she said, letting Ron in the room.

“You wouldn’t!” Ron said, feigning a whine.

Hermione shrugged and closed the door.

“Harry and Ginny promised to make sure that everyone came in by curfew,” Ron said.

“They really didn’t need to do that,” Hermione said.

“I wish you would tell me what is going on,” Ron said, “I am having trouble making up excuses when I don’t know what the problem is. Is it the nightmare?”

Hermione sighed and sat down on the bed. She had to tell him, though she couldn’t believe she was going to do it.

“It wasn’t exactly a nightmare, Ron,” Hermione said, closing her eyes, “It was kind of like a flashback, but it played like a dream.”

She opened her eyes again to look at Ron’s reaction. He had a blank expression on his face, but that wasn’t uncommon for him.

“Go on,” Ron said, sitting on the bed with Hermione.

“You remember when we went into the Chamber of Secrets to get the basilisk fangs?” Hermione asked.

Ron nodded.

“Something happened,” Hermione said, “Something that I haven’t told you.”

Hermione expected Ron to say something, but he didn’t.

“You know when you said I could destroy the cup?” Hermione asked, “Something… happened. I saw something in the cup right before I destroyed it.”

Ron looked as if he was thinking of something.

“I saw something impossible,” Hermione said, “There was water filling up in the cup. And then… I saw… Lavender’s face.”

Ron’s eyes widened.

“Stop,” he said, “I think I know what you are going to say. The cup defended itself. It tried to play with your mind and stop you from destroying it.”

“Yeah,” Hermione said, “But how did you know?”

“But then why didn’t I see it?” Ron muttered.

“What?” Hermione asked.

“Harry saw… so why didn’t I see?” Ron muttered.

“Harry didn’t see anything,” Hermione said, “He wasn’t in the Chamber of Secrets.”

“No,” Ron said, “That is not what I am talking about. Do you remember the night I returned to you and Harry… after running away.”

“Yeah,” Hermione said, “How could I forget?”

“I destroyed the locket,” Ron said.

“Yeah, you told me,” Hermione said, “What is –-“

“When I was about to destroy it,” Ron said, “I saw something.”

“Something impossible,” Hermione said.

“I saw what looked like you and Harry,” Ron said, “But it was like… ghost-like. It looked kind of real. But they had red eyes. It was like revealing my own worries back to me. I thought you and Harry… you know… fancied each other.”

“What?!” Hermione asked, “Ron…”

“Let me finish,” Ron said, “What I saw… what looked like you and Harry… they kissed.”

“The Horcrux was trying to defend itself,” Hermione said, “Ron, I don’t fancy Harry.”

“Harry said he was the same way,” Ron said, “He said you were like a sister to him.”

A tear started to pool in Hermione’s eye.

“I am guessing you saw something similar to what I did,” Ron said, “With the cup, right?”

“I saw Lavender and Harry,” Hermione said, “Separately, two different faces. They were telling me that you wouldn’t ever feel the way I felt for you.”

“It was the Horcrux defending itself,” Ron said, “But then why didn’t I see it? Harry saw exactly what I did.”

“Maybe because you didn’t have to see it,” Hermione said, “But I have a strange question to ask you. Do you ever have the feeling you see something that you know is not real.”

“Like what?” Ron asked, shrugging.

“I keep seeing things,” Hermione said, “I saw a gleam of red in Lavender’s eyes today.”

“Your mind is playing tricks on you,” Ron said.

“I figured that,” Hermione said, “So you never saw anything like that?”

“No,” Ron said, “But it doesn’t mean anything. Hermione, your dream, just ignore it. I love you, and I have loved you for a long time. I just wish I would have known it. It would have been me going with you to the Yule Ball dance instead of Krum. Maybe then you wouldn’t have…”

Ron said something else but Hermione didn’t catch the rest of it.

“What?” Hermione asked, “Sorry, didn’t catch the rest.”

“Ginny told me a couple years ago that you kissed Krum that night,” Ron said in a small voice.

Hermione didn’t say anything.

“So it was true,” Ron said with a low sigh.

“Yes, but if I would have known,” Hermione said.

“No, you don’t have to apologize,” Ron said, “I was stupid for not asking you to that dance.”

“I can’t disagree with that,” Hermione said with a small laugh.

“I will be smarter the next time there is a dance,” Ron said.

“There’s the silver lining I was looking for,” Hermione said.

Ron grinned and then leaned into Hermione and kissed her deeply on the lips, and Hermione returned the kiss, thankful for the privacy of the Head Girl’s room. The kiss only ended when Hermione felt she would run out of breath.

”It’s getting kind of late,” Hermione said, after stopping Ron from going into a second round.

Ron pouted and Hermione giggled.

”No, I am serious!” she said, still giggling.

”I know,” Ron said, standing up.

”Ron,” Hermione said, when Ron opened the door, “I love you.”

”I love you too,” Ron said, grinning, before walking out the door and closing it.

Grinning, Hermione changed into her nightgown and turned out the lights. She fell asleep quickly and dreams of Ron replaced those of wails and ghosts with red eyes.

One of my favorite chapters to write so far. I hope you liked it as well. Oh, and don’t look too far into the red gleam in Lavender’s eyes. It was Hermione’s mind playing tricks.

Well, because of the upcoming holidays, the next chapter won’t be coming up for a few days, maybe a week.

Feedback would be great!

November 27th, 2007, 5:17 pm
Chapter 23
Isolation and Interrogation

Author’s Note: As I have done many times previously in this story, I am switching to another character that is outside of the four main character’s PoVs. This time, it will be Draco’s PoV.

Daylight shone in through the windows of the safe-house Draco Malfoy was currently residing at. Draco had to cover his eyes as the bright sunlight woke him up. He groaned and got up from the bed, and yanked the curtains so that they would cover the sunlight. Unfortunately, he yanked them a little too hard and they toppled onto the floor. Yelling his frustration, he took his wand from the nightstand and pointed it to the curtains.

"Reparo!" he muttered.

The curtains hung themselves back on the window, blocking out the sunlight. Muttering to himself that he couldn’t go back to sleep now, he walked over to the dresser and opened the top drawer. He looked on the wall above the dresser where a calendar was pinned up. X’s covered up half of the first week of the month of September. Draco pointed his wand to the first Thursday of the month and, muttering a few words, slashed an X in the block where Thursday was.

He sighed as he looked at the calendar. He had now been cooped up in the safe house for nearly a month and a half. He had spent every day bored beyond belief, not being able to do anything but sit around and wait for some news. He had long since thrown away the option of reading to pass the time. The only thing he even looked at these days was the old Daily Prophets that were stacked up on a table in the living room. Even then, there weren’t that many there. The only way he would get a Daily Prophet was if one of the Aurors, who had been made Secret-Keeper of the safe house, was to come and give him one. Now that he thought of it, today was the day that an Auror usually visited him to deliver groceries for the week. Maybe they would have some news…

Oh, how he wanted to get some news of something. The last time an Auror had given him any news, it was of the breakout in Azkaban. He hadn’t even found that out it happened until two days after it had. And the most interesting thing that sparked his mind was that his parents were two of the escapees. The mere thought of it was painful. All he knew was that his parents had last been seen escaping with the Death Eaters. To him, it didn't sound the least bit correct. Ever since the downfall of the Dark Lord, his parents had chosen to try to get back in the good books with the Ministry of Magic. But that wasn’t the worst of his worries. Where were his parents now? Were they captured by the Ministry again and sent back to Azkaban? Were they in a safe house, like he was? If so, where? And why weren’t they in the safe house with him? Or were they being held prisoner by Death Eaters? Draco couldn’t bear to think of that. What was happening to them if this was the case? Were they even still alive?

Attempting to rid these thoughts from his mind, Draco took some clothes out of the dresser. Most of the clothes that he had were not to his liking. He had a few that he brought with him to New York City, and they had been sent with him to the safe house. But the other clothes were those that Aurors had bought for him. Whoever bought the clothes did not know what Draco liked and that was very easy to see when looking in his dresser.

He quickly dressed and walked downstairs to the kitchen. He opened the fridge and took out the carton of eggs and the package of bacon. He closed the fridge and walked over to the oven. He opened a cupboard door on the left side of the oven and took out a frying pan. He opened the carton of eggs and sighed when he saw that there were only a couple left.

"Those damn Aurors better be here today," Draco muttered, taking the eggs out of the carton.

Draco had long since decided to give the Aurors a little bit of respect. Even if he didn’t like them much, they were still his number one source of food and news, as well as security.

He cracked the two eggs and put them into the frying pan. He then took out the last of the bacon and put them in the frying pan as well. He turned on the oven and walked away. This was his normal routine every morning. He would start breakfast and use magic to complete it. He was never good at hands-on cooking, and since magic was a much easier way to go, he used it.

True, he wasn’t supposed to do magic in the safe house, but he did anyway. There were no Aurors watching his every move, and he knew that if he didn’t use magic, it could wither away into nothing, or at least that is how he felt.

After he had his filling of bacon and eggs, Draco walked into the living room to find something to do to rid his boredom. Suddenly, the living room filled up with smoke and dust.

Draco coughed and sputtered and thought for a moment that the safe-house was under attack.

“D-Draco Malfoy?” a voice said, coughing “Are you here?”

“Who are you?!” Draco called out, “I don’t recognize your voice.”

“Oh, this is ridiculous!” the voice said, “Gusto!”

A whooshing sound was heard and the smoke and dust blew out of the room. To Draco’s surprise, a man was standing in front of him with his wand out.

“Hold on, son,” the man said, as Draco pointed his wand at him, “Relax, I am not going to hurt you. I am Dawlish. I work for the Ministry.”

“Hang on,” Draco said, finally recognizing the man, “You are one of the Aurors? What are you doing here? Where’s Not-Worthy?”

“Atworthy,” Dawlish corrected him, “Is away from work today.”

“Figures,” Draco said.

“He is gone for personal reasons if you need to know,” Dawlish said, “The Ministry sent me today. I have your groceries for the week.”

Dawlish nodded to the ground below him. Draco only then noticed the bags of groceries at the Auror’s feet.

“So how has your stay been?” Dawlish asked, “Wingardium Leviosa!”

The bags lifted into the air.

“Bloody boring,” Draco said, “Wish I could leave.”

“That bad, eh?” Dawlish asked.

Draco swore he heard the Auror chortle as he magically moved the bags of groceries into the kitchen.

“Then I guess you wouldn’t want to know that I am partially to blame for you being here,” Dawlish said.

“What are you talking about?” Draco asked, following Dawlish into the kitchen.

“I was the one who found out that the Death Eaters were going to try to kidnap you,” Dawlish said.

“Then why didn’t you come to get me?” Draco asked, “Why was it Potter?”

“I was busy,” Dawlish said, “And it happened to be Potter’s first mission as an Auror, or that is the rumor going around.”

“Potter isn’t an Auror,” Draco scoffed.

“I expect he will be though,” Dawlish said, “Once he completes his N.E.W.Ts and gets out of Hogwarts.”

“Potter went back to Hogwarts?” Draco asked, incredulously, “Why would he do that?”

“He has his priorities straight,” Dawlish said.

“All right,” Draco said, “Enough about that. Did you bring a Daily Prophet? I want to know what is going on.”

“Oh, I knew I forgot something,” Dawlish said, slapping his head comically.

“Damn it,” Draco said, “That is my greatest source of news in this hell-hole! What do the Ministry pay you for?!”

“Hey, I didn’t know I was doing this until today,” Dawlish said, “I got more important stuff I have to be doing!”

This struck Draco’s curiosity.

“Oh yeah?” he asked, “Like what?”

“Confidential,” Dawlish said, “If I told you, I’d have to kill you.”

“Fine, get out of here, now!” Draco roared, walking back into the living room and pointing his wand to the fireplace, “Incendio!”

Flames erupted in the fireplace.

“Then I take it that you don’t want to know how your parents are doing?” Dawlish said,
walking over to the fireplace.

“Aguamenti!” Draco said.

Water sprayed from Draco’s wand into the fireplace, and the fire was extinguished

“I didn’t think you were allowed to do magic here,” Dawlish said, turning around.

“Who cares?!” Draco scoffed, “Tell me what you know about my parents!”

“Well, it seems I have struck a nerve,” Dawlish said with a grin.

He walked over to the dusty couch and sat down.

“All right,” he said, “What do you want to know?”

Draco inhaled and exhaled, calming himself down as he thought of his first question.

“What happened after the Azkaban break-out?” he asked, “I know that my parents were two of the people who escaped. The last thing I heard, they were last seen leaving with Death Eaters. But I know that can’t be true.”

“Oh?” Dawlish asked, “Why not?”

“They wouldn’t do that,” Draco said, “Not now. I mean… they only had to spend a full year in Azkaban and they were free.”

“True,” Dawlish said.

“So what happened?” Draco asked, “They got away and were taken back to the Ministry?”

“I wish it were true, Draco,” Dawlish said.

“What happened?” Draco asked again.

“The Death Eaters have no intention on losing this war,” Dawlish said.

“What does that have to do with my parents?!” Draco asked, his patience running thin.

“More than you know,” Dawlish said, “All right. You know that you are a target of the Death Eaters now?”

“Yeah,” Draco said, shrugging, “That is why I am locked up here.”

“Well, whether you like it or not,” Dawlish said, “Harry Potter saved you from the Death Eaters.”

Draco said nothing.

“You were the target of their number-one plan,” Dawlish said, “You see. If everything worked out for the Death Eaters, they would have used you for blackmail against your father.”

“But it didn’t work out,” Draco said, “That is why I am sitting in this house now.”

“Correct,” Dawlish said, “Well, the Death Eaters weren’t just going to give up cause their plan was foiled. They had an alternative plan. Hence the Azkaban break-out.”

“What are you saying?” Draco asked.

“The Death Eaters are looking to strengthen their numbers,” Dawlish said, “They cannot win with a handful of wizards. They are rounding up more troops. Your father was their number one option.”

“Was?” Draco asked, “What do you mean by that?”

“Your parents are being held captive by the Death Eaters, Draco,” Dawlish said.

Draco’s eyes went wide.

“What?!” he asked, “What is the Ministry doing about this? Do you know how my parents are doing?”

“As far as we know,” Dawlish said, “They are just fine.”

“Where are they?” Draco asked, “Where is the Death Eaters’ hideout?”

“I cannot tell you,” Dawlish said, “That is the truth.”

“You don’t know, do you?!” Draco asked, standing up and kicking the table. “Lousy Ministry of Magic! Why did my parents ever agree to side with you again?! Look where it got them!”

“Where would they be now if they were sided with the Death Eaters?” Dawlish asked.

“Well at least they wouldn’t be held captive against their will!” Draco said.

“They sided with the Ministry, Draco,” Dawlish said, “For your well-being.”

“I can take care of myself!” Draco roared, “That is why I went to New York! I wish I never came back now!”

“Do you think you would still be alive if there was no one to help you?” Dawlish asked.

Draco looked at Dawlish with hatred.

“Get out,” Draco snarled.

He lit the fireplace again and it ignited with orange flames.

“I am just telling you the truth,” Dawlish said.

“Out!” Draco roared.

He didn’t want to see Dawlish’s face anymore. Before Dawlish could even get up from the couch, Draco had walked into the kitchen. In his rage, he ripped open one of the grocery sacks and the fruit inside it went flying. He then collapsed on the floor in a sitting position and buried his head in his knees and cried.

First I want to apologize for this chapter being so terribly short. I thought I had enough ideas for a lengthy chapter, and it turned out to be short. I was going to wait to write this chapter until after the story was completed, and have this be a deleted scene, but I figured something out and this needs to be in it.

I have a ton of ideas for the next chapter.

Until then, hope you liked this chapter! Feedback would be great!

December 1st, 2007, 5:26 pm
Chapter 24
Oh Captain, My Captain

Author’s Note: This chapter will be in two different PoVs. So watch for them.

(Harry’s PoV)

The last two days of the first week back at Hogwarts had been just as eventful as the first three.

The most exciting thing to happen on Thursday, by far, was the second meeting of the new Dumbledore’s Army. Harry was happy to discover that all of the new members of the DA had come back for the second meeting. This was the first sign that the whole thing was sure to be a big success. The meeting had started off where the last one ended: the seventh and so-called eighth years would be taking their turns to duel in the tournament Harry set up. Except this time, they would be dueling each other instead of their separate years.

In Harry’s mind, the most impressive duel was Neville vs. Ernie MacMillan. The last year had done wonders for Neville’s skill in dueling. Before the duel, Harry had caught Ernie boasting on about how easy this was going to be. By the time the duel had gotten well underway, Ernie wasn’t all that confident anymore. Neville’s Shield Spell had improved nicely and Ernie had nearly been stunned by his own rebounding spell when it ricocheted off of Neville’s magical barrier. In the end of the duel, Neville used the Leg-Locking Curse to end it in victory.

The other winners of the first round of the tournament for that day were Ginny, Luna, Ron, Hermione, Justin Finch-Fletchley and both of the Patil sisters. Harry opted to stay out of the tournament because he was the leader and, for lack of better word, teacher of Dumbledore’s Army.

During breakfast on Friday, Professor McGonagall made a big announcement: the first Quidditch game of the season, Gryffindor versus Ravenclaw would be taking place on Halloween. Quidditch Scouts from all over the Professional League would be coming that day to watch the games.

Shocked by this news, Ginny hastily got up from the end of the Gryffindor table and hurried up in near-running speed to Professor McGonagall. After a moment’s discussion, Professor McGonagall spoke up again.

“Ginny Weasley, the Captain of the Gryffindor team this year,” she announced, “has asked me to announce that she is holding the Gryffindor team try-outs this Sunday at two-o-clock in the afternoon and asks that any Gryffindor interested in playing to be present on the Pitch.”

Ginny had reached her seat again by the time Professor McGonagall was finished with the announcement.

“You are holding try-outs already?” Harry asked her.

“I thought it was a good idea,” Ginny said, “The first game is less than two months. I need to know who my players are so we can get to practicing. Is there a problem with that?”

“No,” Harry said, “I just thought it was kind of quick, that is all.”

“Well, I think it is a good idea,” Hermione said, “It is the first sign of a good Captain.”

“Yeah, I thought you would have known that, Harry,” Ron said, after swallowing a mouthful of scrambled eggs, “I mean… you were Captain. Though now that I think about it, Ginny, your actions do remind me of the way Oliver Wood lead the team.”

“Well, look where he is now,” Ginny said, “He is part of a professional Quidditch team. If you think I am like Oliver, then I guess it is a good start.”

“It is a great start, Ginny,” Harry said, “Just don’t get as obsessed with Quidditch as he did, I beg of you.”

“Don’t worry about that,” Ginny said, chortling, “But now that we are having this discussion, will you be my Seeker, Harry?”

“Depends how I do at the try-out, I guess,” Harry said, shrugging.

“Oh, come now,” Ginny said, waving a hand dismissively, “You don’t need to try out for me. I have seen the way you play.”

“Ginny, I said the same thing to Katie Bell when I was captain,” Harry said, “And I will tell you what she told me. You don’t want to pick your old teammates right away because there may be someone better.”

“I doubt it,” Ginny said, “But okay.”

“I am touched that you would say that,” Harry said, “But I will go to try-outs all the same. Blimey, I just remembered! I haven’t even flown on the Comet 720 since I bought it. I wonder if Professor McGonagall would let me practice on the Pitch before Sunday. I will be right back.”

Harry got up from the table, and to his surprise, so did Ron.

“Are you coming along?” Harry asked him.

“Well, I figure I might as well try out for Keeper,” Ron shrugged, “And I do need some practice again. So… yeah, I guess I will.”

Harry and Ron walked up to the Professors table. Professor McGonagall was talking to Professor Browne, and abruptly stopped when she noticed Harry and Ron walk up.

“May I help you?” she asked.

“Yeah,” Harry said, “Could Ron and I use the Pitch tomorrow to practice flying? I haven’t had a chance to fly on my new broomstick since I bought it. I thought I could use some practice before the try-outs.”

“I don’t see why not,” McGonagall said, “I will speak to Madam Hooch. Expect a letter tomorrow. It will tell you what time you can go to the Pitch.”

“Thanks, Professor,” Harry said.

He was about to go back to the Gryffindor table with Ron when Professor Browne spoke up.

“You play Quidditch, Mr. Potter?” he asked.

Harry was kind of surprised by this question, and he wasn’t the only one. Professor McGonagall and Ron both had surprised looks on their faces.

“Yeah,” Harry said, “I play Seeker.”

“Harry was the youngest Seeker in a century when we first came to Hogwarts,” Ron said.

“Were you now?” Browne asked, “Minerva, why didn’t you tell me this?”

“I didn’t see the point,” McGonagall said, sternly, “I mean… you didn’t ask me for information on any…” She paused to find the right word. “…particular student did you?” she finished.

“No, I guess I did not,” Browne said.

“Er… we will just go, now,” Harry said.

“Of course, Potter,” McGonagall said, though she was still looking at Browne with the same stern look.

Harry and Ron walked away.

“That was weird,” Ron said, nodding back at Professor Browne.

“Yeah,” Harry said.

“It sort of sounded like he thought he should have known this information,” Ron said, “But why? I mean… it isn’t that important that you were the youngest Seeker in a century, no offense.”

“None taken, mate,” Harry said, “Yeah, it seems weird to me too.”

He looked back at Browne, who was talking to Professor McGonagall. McGonagall’s stern look had changed to one of confusion. When Browne looked back at Harry, Harry turned around and walked back to the Gryffindor table with Ron. He looked back at McGonagall, wondering if she would have more to say about this in the letter she would deliver to Harry.


Whatever Professor McGonagall was thinking about the new headmaster, she was keeping it to herself. The only thing in the letter Harry received the next morning at breakfast was that Madam Hooch would allow the Pitch to be open for an hour at two-o-clock sharp.

So, a little after half-past one, Harry and Ron took their broomsticks and walked down to the Pitch. When they arrived, Madam Hooch was on the sidelines.

“Do you need any of the balls?” Hooch asked.

“The Snitch and the Quaffle,” Harry said.

“If it was anyone other than you, Potter,” Hooch said, as she walked over to the ball cupboard with Harry and Ron, “I wouldn’t have allowed them the Snitch. Seeing as the Gryffindor try-outs are tomorrow, I need to make sure the Snitch will be available. Just be sure to get it back, eh?!”

“Of course, Madam Hooch,” Harry said.

“Oh, is that the new Comet 720?” Madam Hooch said, looking at Harry’s broomstick, “I would be careful with that one. I have been told that there have been a few flaws with it.”

“Yeah, I keep hearing that,” Harry said.

“Just be careful,” Hooch said, “I have lost count when it comes to how many times you had to go to the Hospital Wing because of Quidditch-related incidents.”

“Well, let’s see,” joked Ron, “There’s –“

“Shut up, Ron,” Harry advised him, though he was laughing.

“Touché!” Ron said, before flying off into the sky, “Oi, I just thought of something! How am I going to practice being a Keeper when I have no one throwing anything at me?”

“He’s right,” Harry said, “Leave the Snitch in the case for now. Give me the Quaffle.”

Madam Hooch took the Quaffle from the case and handed it to Harry. Harry straddled his broomstick and flew off into the sky. Harry noticed right off that although the Comet 720 was fast, it wasn’t as fast as the Firebolt. There were some good things about it, though. It didn’t vibrate when he turned toward the left and headed for Ron and the three rings he was guarding. It was also very comfortable, Harry noticed. He wondered if it had its own Cushioning Charm.

“Are you sure it will be fast enough?!” Ron yelled, “You do remember that it takes speed to get to the Snitch first!”

“You just worry about those rings!” Harry said, throwing the Quaffle straight toward the middle ring.

Ron caught the Quaffle right before it could sail through the ring. He grinned, amazed at the catch.

“Lucky catch!” Harry said, as Ron threw the Quaffle back at him.

It turned out that luck seemed to be on Ron’s side. He only missed two out of the dozen or so attempts Harry made at the rings.

“I don’t know what to say,” Ron said, when he flew over to Harry after catching the Quaffle for the tenth time, “I don’t know if I am getting better, or you are just a bad Chaser, no offense.”

“I am beginning to think it is this broom,” Harry said.

“Oh, don’t say that, Harry,” Ron said, “You weren’t meant to be a Chaser. That is why you are a Seeker. Oi, Madam Hooch! Release that Snitch!”

Hooch did so and the Snitch flew off about thirty yards away from where Harry was. Harry flew off and the broom seemed to get much faster. Noticing this, Harry went to a halt.

“Why did you hit the brakes, Harry?!” Ron asked, “Something the matter?”

“I dunno,” Harry muttered, looking at the broomstick.

Regaining his composure, he flew off toward the Snitch. It took ten minutes to catch up to it before he could finally catch it. Ron was on the ground by the time the Snitch was in Harry’s hands.

“Come down, Potter!” Madam Hooch said.

Harry obeyed and flew down toward the ground. When he landed, he had to skid on the ground to stop the broom.

“I knew the Comet 720 had its flaws,” Hooch said, as she and Ron walked over to Harry, “But this is rubbish. Potter, I am sorry, but I think I need to take a look at that broom before you get back on it.”

“What?!” Harry asked, “But Madam, I have try-outs tomorrow.”

“You can borrow one of the school’s brooms, Potter,” Hooch said, “I can’t let you go back in the air with that right now. I am sorry, but that is my final word. Practice is over for today.”

Harry didn’t say anything. He handed the broom and the Snitch over to Madam Hooch, then walked off back to the castle with Ron. Evidently Ron had noticed that Harry wasn’t in the mood to talk, so he didn’t say a word all the way to the Gryffindor Common Room. When they walked in, Hermione and Ginny both got up from the table where they were doing their homework.

“You’re back!” Ginny said, “How did practice go?”

“I don’t think now is a good time, Ginny,” Ron said.

“Oooh, bad practice?” Ginny asked, looking at Harry.

“Madam Hooch confiscated Harry’s broom,” Ron said.

He told Ginny and Hermione about the practice.

“Do you reckon she thinks it is cursed?” Ginny asked.

“It is really hard to curse a broomstick,” Hermione said.

“Yeah, but you didn’t see what I did,” Ron said, “If it was the first time I watched Harry fly, I would have thought he was rubbish at it.”

“I told you the Comet 720 had its flaws when you bought it, Harry!” Ginny said.

“These weren’t your normal flaws,” Harry finally said, “I am going up to my dormitory. I will be down for dinner.”

He sighed and walked off toward the stairs of the dormitory.

“Who would want to curse Harry?” Harry heard Ginny say to Hermione and Ron.

Harry wondered if Ginny knew that he was thinking the same thing.

The next day at half-past one, it took a bit of persuasion to even get Harry down to the Pitch for try-outs. He doubted how he would do even on one of the school’s brooms. It had been about five years since he had to use one of the school’s brooms. By mere coincidence, it was for exactly the same reason: one of the Professors had thought that his Firebolt, brand new at the time, had been cursed.

Harry walked with Ginny, Ron and Hermione down to the Quidditch Pitch. Students from fourth to “eighth” year were all on the sidelines waiting for their moment when they could try out for the team.

The Chasers were the first two positions to be attempted. Ginny, herself, would be the third Chaser on the team. After about forty-five minutes, Ginny decided that Dean Thomas and Seamus Finnegan had turned out to be the two best Chasers this year.

The Beaters were the next two positions to be decided. The most surprising performance was Dennis Creevey, who had the best performance out of everyone. The other Beater to be chosen was Pickler, a sixth year girl, who had nearly knocked Ginny off her broom with a well-aimed Bludger.

The next position was Keeper. Ron outshined every one of the other people who auditioned, catching every single Quaffle to come his way.

By the time it was the Seeker’s turn to be chosen, there was only one other person besides Harry trying out: Higgins, a fifth year.

“All right!” Ginny addressed Harry and the fifth year, “Since there are only two of you, the Seeker will be the first person who can catch the Snitch!”

Harry took the Comet 360 that Hooch had given him from the broom cupboard. He and Higgins flew into the sky. Madam Hooch released the Snitch and blew the whistle. Harry was surprised by Higgins’ speed as he gained the lead toward the Snitch.

“Higgins may be fast,” Harry thought to himself, “But I know the Snitch’s movements.”

All he had to do was calculate where the Snitch’s next movement would be. This would prove to be difficult because the Snitch wasn’t very predictable. Suddenly, Harry found an opening. Higgins went higher into the sky above the Snitch and when the Snitch moved toward the right at full speed, the wind had propelled Higgins farther upwards into the sky. Harry took his chance and moved to where he knew the Snitch was going to go. Before he knew it, Harry was feet from the winged golden ball.

“Come on, faster!” Harry begged the Comet 360, as the Snitch kept flying inches away from his fingers.

Harry then lunged forward and grabbed the Snitch in his hand. In his excitement, he nearly crashed to the ground, but saved himself in time. He then landed softly on the ground.

“The winner and still the Gryffindor Seeker!” Ginny announced, “Harry Potter!”

The rest of the new Gryffindor team and other Gryffindors ran over to Harry, cheering, applauding and patting Harry on the back. Over Ginny’s shoulder, Harry saw Higgins walk away in a huff.

After all the excitement died down and most of the Gryffindors had walked back toward the castle, Hermione suggested that they should go see Hagrid. They hadn’t had a chance to visit him in his hut since they arrived at Hogwarts.

“I think you will make a great Captain yet, Ginny!” Ron said, as they walked off the Pitch and out of the stadium, “We have a good team this year.”

“Yeah, I think we have a good chance to win the cup,” Harry said.

“I wouldn’t bet on it,” a voice said behind them.

Harry, Ginny, Ron and Hermione turned around. Higgins, the fifth year who Harry beat out for Seeker was there.

“It isn’t hard to see,” Higgins said, “Weasley knows most of the team personally. I bet you have contact with four out of the six other members on your team at least once every couple of days.”

“What are you saying, Higgins?” Harry asked.

“Your Captain is playing favorites,” Higgins said.

“She knows who the best players are,” Ron said, “And she picked them.”

“We’ll see,” Higgins said, “Every good Quidditch player knows a Captain shouldn’t pick their friends. Then they miss all of the good players. At the rate you are going, Weasley, Gryffindor will be in last place this year!”

Higgins walked off in a huff. Harry expected Ginny to just wave this little insult off, but when he looked at her, she wasn’t looking too happy.

“Come on, Ginny,” Ron said, noticing her reaction as well, “He’s got Loser’s Lurgy. He is just mad that Harry beat him for Seeker.”

“He’s right though,” Ginny said, “Most of the team is people I personally know.”

“What he said was a Quidditch myth,” Ron said, “It has happened to some teams, but it isn’t common. It is sometimes thought to be bad luck. That is true. But we don’t need luck, Ginny!”

“Listen, you guys go and see Hagrid,” Ginny said, “I am going back to the castle. I am kind of tired.”

Ginny walked off before Harry or the others could say anything. When Harry tried to stop her, Ron and Hermione held him back and shook their heads.

“Let her go, mate,” Ron said.

“Yeah, she just needs time to think,” Hermione said, “Let’s go to Hagrid’s.”

Harry nodded and walked with Ron and Hermione toward Hagrid’s hut.

It took about fifteen minutes to get to the hut. When they arrived, Hagrid was walking out of the forest.

“I was wondering when ya guys were goin’ ter come down here,” Hagrid said.

“Sorry, Hagrid,” Harry said, “We’ve been busy.”

“I understand,” Hagrid said, “I have been a bit busy meself. Headmaster Browne has yet ter meet Grawp and, well, I am not sure if he will like him.”

“Browne doesn’t strike me as someone who would have a prejudice against giants,” Hermione said.

“I know,” Hagrid said, “But I have ter take me chances. Minerva came by ter visit before term started. She suggested that I take Grawp up ter the caves north of here. Ya know where I hid for a few months? Well, I did some thinkin’, and I think it might be for the best… for now. But enough of that. Come inside, have some tea.”

Harry, Ron and Hermione all agreed and followed Hagrid into his hut.

“Ginny was going to come with us,” Harry said, “But she isn’t in the best of moods.”

“Oh?” Hagrid asked, starting a small fire in the fireplace, “Why’s that?”

“We just had the Gryffindor team try-outs today,” Harry said.

“I heard about that,” Hagrid said, “I was gonna come, but like I said, been busy. Did it go well?”

“Oh, it went very well,” Harry said, “But after the try-outs, there was this kid, Higgins. I beat him out for Seeker. Well, he was still a bit mad that he wasn’t chosen. He said a few things to Ginny. Stuff like how she chose her friends for the team, and that it would bring bad luck to the team. Well, she walked off back to the castle after it was all over. Said she was tired, but I don’t know. I think she took it pretty badly.”

“Criticism is tough,” Hagrid said, “Believe me. I know.”

“Yeah,” Harry said, “And Ginny wants to do so well. I know she wants to be a professional Quidditch player. This is just rough for her right now.”

“Aye,” Hagrid said, “I can see how it would be.”

While Ron and Hermione talked to Hagrid, Harry just drank is nearly-scalding hot tea in silence. He knew he needed to cheer Ginny up. He decided he would do that when he got back to the castle.

(Ginny’s POV)

Ginny lay in her bed in her dormitory. She was alone because she locked the door and refused to let anyone come in. She felt that she was in there for days, but it had only been a little under an hour since she had walked into the castle.Tears stained her cheeks and they kept coming. She hated to cry and rarely did. In a household where she grew up with six brothers, she had to be tough. But at this moment, she let the tears run.

For a few years now, her biggest dream was to play professional Quidditch after getting out of Hogwarts. This year was her best chance to achieve that dream. Quidditch scouts would be arriving at the castle in a few weeks, and she was Captain of the Gryffindor team.

But today, she doubted her chances of even getting any attention from the Quidditch scouts. She personally felt the try-outs were complete rubbish. True, she felt that she had chosen the best players, but she couldn’t help but think about what Higgins had told her.

“Every good Quidditch player knows a Captain shouldn’t pick their friends,” Higgins’ voice rang in her head, “Then they miss all of the good players. At the rate you are going, Weasley, Gryffindor will be in last place this year!”

Fresh tears fell from her eyes. Her worst fear was that the team would get last place with no victories. If it happened, it would go down as one of the worst years in Gryffindor team history. Everyone would remember Ginny Weasley as being one of the worst Captains ever.

Knock. Knock. Knock.

“Ginny, are you in there?” a very familiar voice said.

At first Ginny thought she was hearing things. It was impossible for Harry to be up here.

Knock. Knock. Knock.

Ginny got up slowly and walked over to the door, then opened it. Sure enough, Harry was standing there.

“How did you get up here?” Ginny asked.

“Hermione,” Harry said, “She removed the sliding hex on the stairs for a few minutes.”

“I guess having the Head Girl as your best friend has its advantages,” Ginny said with a teary smile, “Get in here.”

“There have only been a few times I have seen you crying,” Harry said, walking into the room, “And most of those had to do because something happened in your family. But this… I guess Higgins’ words got to you.”

“You could say that,” Ginny said, closing the door.

She wiped her eyes on her sleeve and followed Harry over to her bed.

“You just need to forget what that boy said to you,” Harry said, “It’s nothing. He was just mad because he lost. You… we… have a wonderful team this year.”

“I know,” Ginny said, “It is just… I want to be a professional Quidditch player so badly. I’ve wanted that for the longest time. If the team does well this year, I think it might improve my chances on getting picked.”

“I will do everything I can to help you with that,” Harry said.

“You don’t think the team will be rubbish just because I picked my friends, right?” Ginny asked.

“Of course not!” Harry said, “Higgins will be eating his words after our first match.”

“That is what I wanted to hear,” Ginny said, smiling tearfully.

“You know,” Harry said, “You should cry more. You look kind of pretty when you cry.”

Ginny rolled her eyes.

“I hate crying,” she said, laughing softly. “Makes me look weak.”

“You are most definitely not weak, Ginny,” Harry said.

Ginny was about to say something, but was interrupted by a tapping sound.

“I don’t want anyone in here right now!” Ginny yelled at the door.

The tapping sound continued, but it wasn’t coming from the door. It was coming from the window behind Ginny’s bed. Ginny and Harry turned around. An owl was perched on the windowsill; a letter was in its talons.

“What is it doing here?” Ginny asked.

“Are you expecting a letter?” Harry asked.

“No,” Ginny said, shaking her head, as she got up and walked over to the window.
She opened the window and the owl flew in. It flew over to Harry and dropped a letter in his lap. He picked it up and looked at the writing on the front.

“It is for me,” he said.

“How did it know you were up here?” Ginny asked, looking at the owl.

Harry shrugged as he opened the piece of parchment. He read it, silently:


I request that you meet me in my office tomorrow night after dinner. Madam Hooch just informed me that your Comet 720 has been cursed.

Professor McGonagall
Deputy Headmistress
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry

Cliffhanger! To tell you the truth, when I started this chapter, I didn’t know I was going to have parts of this chapter in it. This chapter was mainly supposed to be focused on Ginny and her role as Captain, but as I wrote it just came to me.

On a personal note, I may be starting a new job in the next few days, so I do not know if I will be able to keep up the pace I have been going with my chapters. But I will continue this story.

Hope you liked the chapter!

Feedback would be great!

December 6th, 2007, 6:16 pm
Chapter 25
No Title

“McGonagall thinks your broom is cursed?” Hermione asked, the next day at breakfast.

“Madam Hooch does, at least,” Harry said, shrugging.

Harry had just told Hermione and Ron about the letter he received from Professor McGonagall the previous day. He was going to tell them sooner, but by the time he had returned to the Common Room after visiting Ginny, Ron and Hermione had gone to do their Head Boy and Girl duties.

“But is she completely sure, I wonder?” Ron asked, “I mean… the Comet 720 does have its flaws.”

“Ron, you were there,” Harry said, “You saw what it did.”

“Yeah, I did see it,” Ron said, “And to me, it just looked like a broomstick with some flaws. I mean… besides, who would want to curse you, Harry?”

“Well, my first guess would be Death Eaters,” Harry said, “But there couldn’t be any here at Hogwarts.”

“How in the bloody hell could your broom get cursed anyway?” Ron asked, “Hasn’t it been in your dormitory since we arrived here?”

“Yeah, up until I took it out to practice,” Harry said, “I mean… it isn’t like someone could come up to my dorm and curse it, is it?”

“I don’t know,” Hermione said, “I haven’t exactly trusted the magical defenses on our Common Room as of late. The Fat Lady still hasn’t been found, and until she does, we are going to have a big hole in the wall for a door.”

“Yeah, but only Gryffindors could get in, Hermione,” Ron said, “Professor McGonagall told us that.”

“No Gryffindor would curse my broom,” Harry said.

“Unless they were under the Imperius Curse,” Hermione said.

Harry sighed and stood up. Any of this could be true, but he didn’t want to hear any more of it. He walked off out of the Great Hall before Ron, Hermione or Ginny could say any more. He then walked outside onto the grounds. He continued to walk and before he knew it, he was at the shore of the Hogwarts Lake. Looking down at his reflection, he could see the lightning-shaped scar on his forehead. He put a hand to it, half-expecting it to start burning… but it did not.

“I thought this whole fiasco was over!” Harry yelled, picking up a rock and throwing it into the lake.

Voldemort was long gone; his body was probably rotting at the bottom of the lake. Harry thought his troubles would be over the minute Voldemort was gone. The curse on his broom, for Harry was sure that it was cursed, had to mean something. Was someone plotting revenge on him?

Harry turned around, expecting to see a Death Eater walking toward him, their wand pointed at him. But he was alone. Everyone was in the castle…

“Oh bloody hell!” Harry said, slapping a hand to his forehead.

Lost in thought, he had forgotten about the first class of the day. He looked at his watch and sighed. Class had already begun ten minutes ago. Ginny, Ron and Hermione were probably wondering where he was, and making up excuses to Professor Browne for his absence.

“Well I can’t go now,” Harry said.

And he sat down on the shore of the lake. He glanced over at the Quidditch Pitch, where he could clearly see three of the rings. Would he be allowed to fly the Comet 720 again? Or would he have to settle with one of the school’s brooms? At this moment, he really missed his Firebolt. When he was on that, he felt like no one could beat him. Now he felt vulnerable, even if he was going to be able to fly the Comet 720 again.

He wrenched his eye-sight away from the Pitch and looked out onto the lake. The Giant Squid was swimming in the center of the lake, batting his tentacles at birds as they flew around. Harry smiled as he remembered the first time he was on the lake: floating in one of the rafts, looking at Hogwarts for the very first time. It seemed so long ago; another lifetime.

Thirty minutes later, Harry got up and headed back to the castle. He headed for the second floor where the Transfiguration classroom was. When he reached the classroom, a voice rang out.

“There you are!” a voice said.

Harry turned around. Ginny, Hermione and Ron were walking toward him.

“Where have you been, Harry?” Hermione said, “We were worried about you!”

“I went outside for some fresh air,” Harry said, “And by the time I remembered I was supposed to be in Browne’s class, it had already been in session for ten minutes.”

“Well, there was nothing to miss,” Ron said, rolling his eyes, “Lectures and we have to write a three-page essay. Don’t ask me to remember what it is on.”

“Old-School Magic, Ronald,” Hermione said, sighing, “Apparently Browne has heard of Sectumsempra.”

“He isn’t expecting us to show him what it does, is he?” Harry asked.

“Of course not!” Hermione said, “Come on, let’s get into the classroom. Or are you planning on skipping Transfiguration too?”

“Okay, I am sorry for skipping Defense against the Dark Arts,” Harry said, “Is that what you wanted to hear?”
Hermione said nothing, but just walked into McGonagall’s classroom. Harry followed her in with Ron and Ginny.

“Ah, Potter, there you are,” McGonagall said at her desk, “Can I talk to you for a moment?”

Harry shrugged and walked up to McGonagall’s desk.

“Did you get my letter?” McGonagall asked.

“Yeah,” Harry said, “I will be in your office after dinner.”

“Is there anything you would like to tell me now?” McGonagall asked.

Harry paused. He knew Hermione, Ron and Ginny were all looking at him, but he didn’t look over his shoulder.

“Nothing right now,” Harry said to McGonagall.

McGonagall looked at Harry, frowning. Harry wondered if McGonagall was skilled in Legillimency, because he thought she might have been trying to look in his mind.

“All right,” McGonagall finally said, “You make take your seat. I expect you to be in my office after dinner. No later than seven-o-clock.”

Harry nodded silently and walked to his seat. When all the students had arrived, McGonagall stood up and pointed her wand at a stack of paper. She muttered some words and the papers flew around the room to their respective owners.

“These are the results of your quizzes from last Monday,” McGonagall said, once all the papers had arrived in front of the students. “I have decided what the majority of you seem to have trouble with. The first subject of the term will be Human Transfiguration.”

Some of the students cheered.

“All right, settle down,” McGonagall said, “We will begin today with Facial Transfiguration. Let me assure you that this is very difficult. How about I show you what I mean? Let’s see… Mr. Weasley, come up here, please.”

Ron hesitated and walked up beside McGonagall.

“If you could change anything about your appearance,” McGonagall asked Ron, “What would it be?”

Ron shrugged.

“You don’t know?” McGonagall asked.

“Haven’t thought about it,” Ron said.

“Very well,” McGonagall said, “I have a better idea.”

She turned to the rest of the students.

“Does anyone have any suggestions of what they would like to see changed on Ron’s face?” she asked.

“His eye color,” Hermione spoke up quickly.

“What is wrong with my eye color?!” Ron asked.

“Now, now, Mr. Weasley,” McGonagall said, “This is just for fun. What color would you like them to be, Miss Granger?”

“Cat’s eyes,” Hermione replied.

A few of the students, including Harry and Ginny, laughed.

“Good choice,” McGonagall said, “Eye color can be particularly difficult to change, but with a bit of practice you can achieve it.”

She turned back to Ron.

“Now, Mr. Weasley,” she said, “I need you to hold completely still. Do not worry, this will not hurt. Now, I am not going to say the incantation. The only reason is that I do not want any of you to try it without mastering it. I really don’t need to see one of my students in the Hospital Wing because they have gone temporarily blind from attempting this!”

Ron groaned.

“Oh, don’t fuss!” McGonagall said to Ron, “Haven’t I said that this will not hurt?!”

She took out her wand and pointed it at Ron’s face.

“Now, please do not move,” she said.

She muttered a long incantation under her breath and suddenly one of Ron’s eyes turned bright yellow and then the other one did the same. The students applauded.

“It worked?” Ron asked.

“See for yourself,” McGonagall said.

A mirror appeared in thin air and Ron grabbed it. He looked into the mirror and grinned.

“Can they stay this way?” Ron asked, “I kinda like it.”

“Your eye color will change back to its original color in an hour or so,” McGonagall said, “You may return to your seat.”

Ron returned to his seat and McGonagall spoke up again.

“Now,” she said, “Please get out your Advanced Transfiguration books and turn to chapter 15, on page 157 entitled The First Step to Facial Transfiguration. I want you to read the chapter and write a one-page essay on it. It will be due on Wednesday.”

Professor McGonagall wasn’t present at dinner, which meant that she was probably waiting for Harry in her office. Harry downed a quick dinner and headed for McGonagall’s office.

It took ten minutes to get to the door of Professor McGonagall’s office. Harry knocked on the door when he arrived.

“Come in,” McGonagall said.

Harry opened the door and walked in, shutting the door behind him. He then noticed that Madam Hooch and Professor Flitwick were in the room as well.

“Have a seat please,” McGonagall said, pointing to the chair in front of the desk.

As Harry walked closer, he noticed his Comet 720 lying on McGonagall’s desk. He sat in the chair and McGonagall spoke up.

“I do not want this to take very long,” McGonagall said, “And I know you probably don’t either, Mr. Potter. So how about we get straight into it. Yesterday afternoon, Madam Hooch came to my office and told me that your broomstick had been cursed. She had taken it to Professor Flitwick who had examined it thoroughly. It didn’t take long for him to realize that your broom had been cursed. Various curses had been placed on the broom and Professor Flitwick assures me now that your broomstick is now fine.”

“Great!” Harry said, “Does that mean I will be getting it back?”

“I think it will be okay,” McGonagall said, “But first I want to ask you a few questions. Do you have any idea who would want to place a curse on your broomstick?”

“Well,” Harry said, “Me and my friends were talking about it. They suggested that a Death Eater might have done it, but as far as I know, it would have been impossible.”

“A Death Eater?” McGonagall asked, “Yes. They would seem like the type to do it. I mean… they might want revenge on you for ridding the world of Voldemort.”

“But it would be impossible for them to place a curse on my broomstick,” Harry said, “Before I came here, it was locked away in my room at the Burrow. And it has been in my dormitory since I got here. Has a Death Eater been spotted on the grounds or in the castle?”

“Of course not,” McGonagall said.

“I didn’t think so,” Harry said.

“But there is still the fact that your broomstick was cursed,” McGonagall said, “Do you have any other ideas of what might have happened?”

“Not really,” Harry said.

“Well, I would love to say that your broomstick has been safely away in your dormitory,” McGonagall said, “But there is always a chance that someone might have placed a curse on it while it was in there.”

“Professor,” Harry said, “I don’t think any Gryffindor would do that. Though there was something Hermione said.”

“Yes?” McGonagall asked.

“Professor,” Harry said, “Are you completely happy with your security charms that were placed on the Gryffindor Tower. I mean… with the Fat Lady gone, there is a big hole for a doorway.”

“I have had my doubts,” McGonagall admitted.

“Do you know where the Fat Lady’s portrait is?” Harry asked.

“Mr. Potter,” McGonagall said, “If I did, she would be guarding the Gryffindor Tower at this very moment.”

“Well, those were all the ideas I could think of,” Harry said, “If a Death Eater didn’t get into the castle, then it must have been someone inside the castle with a way to get into the Gryffindor Tower.”

“I will do an investigation,” McGonagall said, “I have one more thing I must ask you. Do you feel that you need an escort around the school for the time-being?”

“An escort, Professor?” Harry asked.

“Yes, for protection,” McGonagall said, “Obviously, someone is trying to do some harm to you. I don’t want to scare you, but that is the truth. If you do need an escort, I am sure someone would love to volunteer.”

“No,” Harry said, “I am all right.”

McGonagall looked at Harry the same way she did earlier in the day. Harry felt for a second time that she might have been trying to use Legillimency on him.

“All right,” she said, “But if I, or any of the Professors, feel that you need the escort, I will have to assign one to you.”

“Okay,” Harry said.

“You may go unless there is anything else on your mind,” McGonagall said, “Don’t forget your broomstick.

Harry shook his head and stood up. He took the broomstick.

“Be sure to get that essay done, Mr. Potter,” McGonagall said, as Harry walked toward the door, “I would hate to fail you. I know how much you want to be an Auror.”

“Yes, Professor,” Harry said.

He walked out of the office and closed the door. As he headed back to the Common Room, a part of Harry was very happy to get his broom back, but another part was wondering if Professor McGonagall wasn’t telling him everything.

Chapter done! Hope you liked it!

I have many ideas for the next chapter. Hope it get it up by middle of next week.

Feedback would be welcomed!

December 12th, 2007, 5:27 pm
Chapter 26

Author’s Note: Over the past couple of days, I have done some thinking about the next couple of chapters in my fan-fiction. I have come to a decision that the chapter I am eager to write will have to wait until the next chapter. If I wrote the chapter now, I would be skipping about two weeks of time. If you are familiar with my story “Secrets and Snogging” then you may remember parts of this chapter. I wanted to add it here, because I just love what I had written. Enjoy…

Over the next couple of days, Harry tried to focus his mind on his schoolwork and the D.A., but his mind was clouded with the visit he had to Professor McGonagall’s office. His fears, which had only been heightened when Ron and Hermione had voiced their opinions on the matter, were confirmed with McGonagall’s words.

Did she really believe that he was in danger? Was there something she was not telling him? She wanted him to have an escort with him every day, but he refused.

“If McGonagall was okay with you not choosing to have an escort,” Hermione said, when Harry told her, Ron and Ginny about his meeting with McGonagall, “Then maybe she doesn’t think you are in any immediate danger.”

“Yeah,” Harry said, “Maybe that’s it.”

But Harry wasn’t sure whether he believed it or not. During the next few nights after the meeting, his dreams were haunted with images of Death Eaters invading Gryffindor Tower and entering his dormitory. He woke up in cold sweats, pointing his wand at the covers surrounding his four-poster bed. He only went back to sleep after making sure that the only people in the room were his dorm-mates.

“Harry, what are you going to do about the second round of our tournament in Dumbledore’s Army?” Ginny asked, that Thursday at breakfast, “I have been thinking about it, but I am not sure you have. It takes place after lunch, remember?”

“I thought you would be more focused on the Quidditch practices,” Harry said.

“I have been,” Ginny said, “More than you think. Maybe you haven’t noticed, but some of our team-mates have been coming up to me and suggesting plays to try. Dean and Seamus want me to try out a play they saw some Chasers did at a professional Quidditch game. It just seems a little dangerous. Something about…”

But Harry wasn’t paying attention. Over Ginny’s shoulder, he saw Professor McGonagall and Browne talking to each other; McGonagall was looking as cross as ever. Harry wished at that moment he could read lips.

“Harry?” Ginny asked, “Are you listening to me?”

“Yeah,” Harry said, looking back at Ginny quickly, “I think you should at least give it a try.”

“Yeah,” Ginny said, “I wonder when we could get our first practice in. I’ve been checking and it seems the Pitch is going to be booked for the next couple of weeks.”

“It can’t be booked every day,” Ron said, sitting down at the table with Hermione, “That’s impossible.”

“I wish I could agree with you,” Ginny said, “But as a couple of the players on our team have a full day of classes all week, I have to work the schedule around that. Honestly, I didn’t think it would be this hard to get some practice in.”

“You’ll find the time, Ginny,” Hermione said.

“Yeah,” Ginny said.

She frowned as she looked toward the doors of the Great Hall. Harry looked as well. Seamus and Dean were coming in.

“I bet they want to talk to me about more plays,” Ginny said, rolling her eyes and standing up from the table, “I really don’t want to right now. I am going to go. I will see you in Potions.”

“I’ll go with you,” Harry said, standing up as well, “I am not that hungry.”

“See you in a bit,” Ron said.

“Class starts in fifteen minutes, you two!” Hermione said, “Don’t be late!”

“We won’t be,” Harry said.

He and Ginny left the Great Hall.

“Honestly, I miss one class and she is already lecturing me,” Harry said.

Ginny laughed.

“So what are you going to do about Dumbledore’s Army?” she asked.

“I will figure it out,” Harry said, “I am not all that worried.”

He sighed.

“Though to tell you the truth,” he said, “I am starting to wish Dumbledore’s Army didn’t come back. I really don’t have the time for it.”

“What are you saying?” Ginny asked.

“Do you remember when you said it wouldn’t be like the original?” Harry asked.

“Yeah,” Ginny said.

“I am starting to agree with you,” Harry said, “It seems more like a class than anything, and while some of the members are having fun, I am not sure if everyone is. I bet a few of them only come back because they are basically required to.”

“Maybe you should talk to Professor McGonagall about this?” Ginny suggested.

“I wish I could,” Harry said, “Unfortunately I think she has a lot on her mind right now.”

“Talk to Ron and Hermione about it then,” Ginny suggested, “See what they have to say.”

“Yeah,” Harry said.

“So do you know if your Comet 720 is all right now?” Ginny asked.

“I haven’t had the time to test it,” Harry said, “I wish I could, but I’ve been so busy. And like you said, with the Quidditch Pitch booked, I won’t be able to test it until our first practice.”

“I think it will be fine,” Ginny said.

“I hope so,” Harry said, “Those school brooms are dreadful!”

Ginny laughed and took Harry’s hand. Harry smiled at this comforting gesture. He looked toward the castle entrance and wished that there was more time before he and Ginny had to go to class. It had been a while since he and Ginny had some private time together. It would have been nice to be able to walk around the Hogwarts Lake with no intrusion and no worries about classes and cursed brooms.

A couple minutes before eight, Harry and Ginny arrived at the Potions classroom. Most of the students were already in the class, and when Harry and Ginny took their seats, Professor Slughorn spoke up.

“Well, I was going to let Madam Pomfrey teach you all how to make Skele-Gro,” he said, “but because of uncontrollable circumstances, she is going to be busy all day in the Hospital Wing. So that will have to wait. Fortunately I have an alternative potion for you to make! It is one of my favorites and it is very tricky. I don’t think it is even in your Advanced Potion books!”

Many of the students looked very intrigued. Professor Slughorn turned his back on the students and picked up something, then turned back around. A vial was in his hand. The contents of the vial were definitely liquid, but it looked very dirty.

"Does anyone know what this is?" he asked, motioning to the vial.

"Swamp water, sir?" Ron asked.

Many of the students, including Harry, laughed. Hermione just rolled her eyes.

"Well, it does look like swamp water," Slughorn said, chuckling, "But no, it is not. Ah, Miss Granger? Do you know?"

“It is Mentiraserum,” Hermione said.

The reaction of the other students in the room could look no plainer: no one besides Hermione and Professor Slughorn knew what Hermione was talking about.

“Good girl!” Slughorn said, “Ten points to Gryffindor. And for another ten points, would you tell the class what exactly Mentiraserum is?”

”It is a Lie Potion,” Hermione said, “It is the exact opposite of Veritaserum, the Truth Potion. If you drink it, you will be forced to lie for twenty-four hours.”

"Correct!" Slughorn said again, "Another ten points to Gryffindor. Mentiraserum is indeed the exact opposite of Veritaserum. It is used to fool your enemy."

"And this potion is supposed to be complex?" Seamus asked, "Or dangerous?"

"Don't look at this potion too lightly, Mr. Finnigan," Slughorn said, "This potion is used to fool your enemy, but it is not something you would find in Zonko's!"

"Why would someone want to use it?" Ron asked, "Surely it is easier to lie than to tell the truth. I mean, I can tell you from experience. It is easy to make up a story about yourself."

"Yes, but when you are being interrogated by an enemy," Slughorn said, "Do you want to spill your secrets to them?"

“No,” Ron said.

“Exactly,” Slughorn said, “No you do not. You do not know how your enemy could use that information against you!”

"Will it counteract Veritaserum?" Ginny asked.

"Only if it is taken before it," Slughorn said.

"How is it that most of us have never heard of this potion before?" Harry asked.

"Oh, I am sure you have heard of it before," Slughorn said, "You just didn't know of its importance or what it actually did. Now that I have shown you it, you will recognize it."

“I doubt it,” Ron muttered, “I still say it looks like swamp water.”

Hermione rolled her eyes.

“Is it toxic?” Parvati Patil asked.

“If taken in large quantities,” Slughorn said, “Then yes. It could be very easy to kill yourself or someone if you overuse Mentiraserum.”

"So how does it taste?” Harry asked, “If we were given it and didn't recognize the color, how would we recognize the taste?"

"I don't know," Slughorn said, "I never tasted it before. I am afraid to taste it. A lot of people are. No one wants to lie for twenty-four hours. Especially with no real cure. I think perhaps that is the real reason this potion sounds more dangerous than it is. People are afraid to take it. I won't let anyone take it. So, I am going to let you make the potion, but here's the thing: I will be handing out one of the ingredients, and I will not tell anyone what it is. I am sure there are some people who can recognize it, but I don't think anyone in this room can. No, not even you, Miss Granger.”

"Why are you teaching us to make it if you are not teaching us properly?" Lavender asked, "Isn't that kind of pointless?"

"It is not pointless at all, Mrs. Brown," Slughorn said, "I believe that if you make this potion, you will know more about it than if you didn't make it. If you encountered it, you would be able to spot it."

"I doubt it," Lavender said.

"Well, if you do not agree with my teaching style," Slughorn said, "Then I suggest you leave Mrs. Brown.”

Lavender, however, remained seated.

"All right," Slughorn said. "Please get out your potion-making supplies. I will hand out the secret ingredient and then I will tell you how to make the potion. Listen carefully, because as I said earlier, this potion is not in your books!"

It turned out that the potion was so complicated, that not even Hermione had finished by the time class was finished forty-five minutes later. Professor Slughorn went to each desk and looked at the potions. He was not happy with the results, but he was not that mad either. He chose to grade on a curve, which gave Harry a much better grade then he would have achieved otherwise.

In Herbology, Professor Sprout had given Neville permission to teach the class for a day. He taught everyone how to look after a stock of Mimbulus Mimbletonia. Neville informed Harry after class that Professor Sprout had purchased the plants just for the occasion when she would let him teach. Harry thought that the class went pretty well, other than the fact that at least half the class got covered in the smelly goo from the plants at one point or another.

After a quick lunch, Harry headed up to the Room of Requirement by himself. Today would be the second round of the seventh and “eighth” year dueling tournament, and Harry needed to set everything up before too many students came in. He reached the empty wall on the seventh floor and said the required words and the large doors appeared. Harry walked in and grinned when he noticed that nearly everything was set up.

“I need to add a bit of a challenge to today’s duels,” Harry addressed the room.

Suddenly, piles of large, white pillows appeared near the dueling stage.

“Pillows?” Harry muttered, “Not what I had in mind, but it will work.”

The doors opened behind Harry, and he turned around. Ron, Hermione and Ginny were walking into the room.

“Ooh!” Ron said, s******ing as he looked at the piles of pillows, “We are going to have a pillow fight!”

“No,” Harry said, “I asked for the room to make today’s duels more of a challenge, and suddenly these pillows appeared.”

“Oh, so you are going to have the second round of the tournament today,” Ginny said, “I was thinking about that. Who am I facing?”

Before Harry could reply, more members of Dumbledore’s Army entered the room. Five minutes later, the every member of Dumbledore’s Army was in the room. The seventh and “eighth” years were huddled around the dueling stage. Most of the other members were sitting around the room talking or reading books about dueling and other stuff.

“All right,” Harry said, gaining the attention of the students huddled around the stage, “Today will be the second round of the dueling tournament. After today, only four of the competitors will be left. As you have probably noticed by now, there is a big pile of pillows behind me. I know that it might sound ridiculous, but if you are in a duel today, I want you to try and find a way to use a pillow to your advantage. So let’s get started. Hermione and Parvati, you two are up first.”

“Good luck, Hermione,” Ron said.

Hermione smiled at him affectionately and walked up onto the stage with Parvati. Each walked to one side of the stage and took their wands from their pocket.

“Remember the rules when dueling,” Harry said, walking off the stage, “No aiming to kill or seriously injuring your opponent. No Unforgivable Curses. You may begin… now!”

“Stupefy!” Parvati said, quickly, aiming her wand at Hermione.

“Protego!” Hermione yelled.

The shield spell barely was able to form before the stunning spell hit it and rebounded back toward Parvati who dove out of the way and nearly fell off the stage. Parvati then used the levitating curse on one of the pillows and it lifted into the air in front of her.

“Waddiwasi!” Parvati yelled.

The pillow flew straight toward Hermione at full speed.

“Reducto!” Hermione said quickly.

The pillow exploded and the feathers flew everywhere. Harry could hardly see Hermione or Parvati through the feathers, and he doubted either competitor could hardly see their foe.

“Expelliarmus!” Hermione said.

Seconds later, Parvati’s wand landed feet in front of Harry. The feathers floated to the ground and Harry was able to see what was happening: Parvati was searching for her wand and Hermione had hers pointed at Parvati.

“Get out of the way, Parvati!” Padma said.

“Stupefy!” Hermione said.

The stunning spell hit Parvati square in the chest and Parvati toppled over, stunned.

“The winner… Hermione!” Harry announced.

Hermione walked over to Parvati.

“Ennervate,” she said.

Parvati woke up.

“Nice duel, Parvati,” Hermione said.

“You too, Hermione,” Parvati said.

“Next duel,” Harry said, “Ron and Padma.”

Ron and Padma walked up onto the stage as Hermione and Parvati walked off.

“Remember the rules,” Harry said again, “And begin!”

The duel had begun before Ron and Padma could get their wands out of their pocket. Ron quickly grabbed his wand and pointed it at Padma.

“Petrificus Totalus!” Ron yelled.

Padma took out her wand and looked up just in time to dive out of the way. Ron pointed his wand at one of the pillows.

“Wingardium Leviosa!” he said.

The pillow lifted into the air, and with a sudden force the pillow veered straight toward Padma. This time the pillow hit its mark, straight into Padma’s chest, knocking her to the floor.

“Petrificus Totalus!” Ron said again.

Padma couldn’t get out of the way in time and the spell made her fall flat on the floor, stiff as a board.

“The winner!” Harry said, “Ron!”

“Finite,” Ron said, pointing his wand at Padma.

“The next duel,” Harry said, “Ginny and Justin!”

Ginny and Justin replaced Ron and Padma on the dueling stage. Each competitor took out their wands, ready to duel.

“Begin!” Harry said.

“Stupefy!” Justin said.

“Protego!” Ginny yelled.

The Shield spell was way too fast for the Stunning spell, and it guarded it nicely.

“Battius Bogus!” Ginny yelled.

Although he had never heard the incantation, Harry had a clear idea what this spell was: Ginny’s signature Bat-Bogey Hex. The spell was too quick for Justin to have time to protect himself and he was soon on the floor covered with small bats attacking him.

“I give! I give!” Justin cried out, “Gerroff me!”

“The winner!” Harry said, “Ginny!”

“Finite!” Ginny said, pointing her wand at Justin.

The small bats disappeared.

“Holy Merlin,” Justin said, in a shaky voice, “I have heard of that spell but have never seen it.”

“Sorry,” Ginny said, “Got carried away, I guess. I wasn’t intending on using it.”

“No,” Justin said, “Don’t apologize. That spell is amazing!”

“Final duel of the day,” Harry said, “Neville and Luna!”

For a moment, Neville and Luna just looked at each other, before they walked to the stage and took out their wands. Harry knew that the friendship between these two was, in a word, magical, and this definitely could be the best duel of the day.

“Begin!” Harry said.

“Stupefy!” Neville said.

Luna ducked and Harry was impressed by her quickness.

“Expecto Patronum!” Luna said.

A large silver rabbit emerged from Luna’s wand. Almost every one of the students around the stage was very confused why Luna would do the Patronus Charm. Even Neville looked a little confused. Noticing Neville’s reaction, Harry knew what Luna was planning. Luna moved her wand, and the silver rabbit ran over to Neville, but did not attack him. Instead, the rabbit hopped around Neville’s legs. Neville looked at the rabbit, pointing his wand at it, apparently waiting for it to attack. Harry knew at that moment that Luna’s plan had worked. Suddenly the rabbit disappeared and Neville looked up at Luna, who had her wand pointed at him.

“Silencio!” Luna yelled.

The silencing spell hit Neville before he could even raise his wand. Neville tried an incantation, but he couldn’t speak.

“Stupefy!” Luna yelled.

The stunning spell hit Neville square in the chest. He fell to the floor, stunned.

“The winner!” Harry said, “Luna!”

“Ennervate,” Luna said, pointing her wand at Neville.

Neville opened his eyes and looked around with a very confused expression.

“Wonderful usage of spells, Luna!” Harry said, “I really didn’t expect those to work the way that they did.”

“I took my chances,” Luna said, “I took a risk and it paid off.”

“Yes it did!” Neville said, “Good job. I couldn’t even get a spell off!”

“All right,” Harry said, “That is the end of class everyone! Those who are in the semi-finals of the tournaments next week better get prepared. It will get harder and harder to win!”

Everyone but Harry, Ginny, Ron and Hermione left the Room of Requirement.

“I can’t believe all of you won your duels,” Harry said to them.

“We were lucky,” Ginny said.

“Lucky you didn’t put us against Luna!” Ron said, “She was amazing!”

“Yeah, well you better be nice to me this week or you will be facing her next Thursday,” Harry said.

“Actually I wouldn’t mind it,” Ron said, “I don’t know who will be the easiest to beat.”

At this, he looked at Ginny and Hermione who both grinned.

“Do me a favor and put me against Luna,” Ron muttered to Harry.

Harry laughed, and the four of them left the Room of Requirement and walked toward the Common Room.

End of another chapter! Hope you liked it. I definitely know what I am putting in my next chapter. It will be up in the next week…

I hope, at least. Weather has been terrible around here! Power outages and everything!

Feedback would be great!

December 19th, 2007, 4:05 pm
Chapter 27
Hermione’s Birthday

Author’s Note: This will be in Hermione’s POV.

The sunlight shone in through the window of Hermione’s Head Girl room and Hermione had to throw the blanket over her head to shield her eyes. Once her eyes adjusted to the light, she threw the blanket off of her and sat up. She grinned when she looked at the desk near the window. There was a big gift basket sitting on the desk.

Today was the eighteenth of September: Hermione’s nineteenth birthday. For a moment, she was saddened by the fact that she was nineteen. She really expected to be out of Hogwarts by eighteen years of age, but with the events that had taken place in the last year, plans had changed.

She stood up from the bed and straightened out her nightgown before walking over to the desk. Before she had even got up from the bed, she knew who the gift basket was from. It was a tradition of her parents to give her a gift basket full of sugarless sweets and other goodies on her birthday when she was away. Making a mental note to send an owl to her parents thanking them for the basket, she unwrapped one of the sugarless candies and popped it in her mouth. She then glanced at her watch: it was nearly six-o-clock.

She sighed when she saw the time. That was the only bad thing about her birthday being on a Thursday this year. She was going to have to attend classes today. There were also the semi-finals of the dueling tournament in Dumbledore’s Army later that day. She knew she would be facing Ginny, because Harry had given in to Ron’s pleas the previous week and had decided to put him against Luna. Hermione grinned at this thought. Ron was going to have quite the duel on his hands when he faced Luna. Those spells she performed in her last duel… Hermione hadn’t even thought of using them in her duels!

Deciding that she really needed a good shower before class, Hermione gathered up her bath things and headed toward the door that led into the hallway. She abruptly stopped when she opened the door. On the floor at her feet was an envelope. She picked it up and immediately noticed Ron’s writing on the front.

“What did you have to put in a letter that you couldn’t tell me yourself?” Hermione muttered to herself as she opened the envelope.

She took the piece of parchment from the envelope and unfolded it, then read:


Happy nineteenth birthday! I wrote you this letter because I was hoping you would meet me in the Room of Requirement tonight at seven for a private birthday dinner. I can give you your birthday present then. I think you will like it.

Love you with all my heart,

Hermione smiled affectionately. A private dinner in the Room of Requirement. That sounded really nice. Hermione wondered what Ron could possibly be getting her for her birthday. Then she remembered something that had happened a couple days ago at breakfast…

Flashback begins…

“So you are going to put me against Luna on Thursday?” Ron asked Harry, “Right?”

“Yes, Ron,” Harry said, “Ask me that again and you will go against Hermione!”

“You wouldn’t do that!” Ron said, in a mock-horrified voice.

“I would,” Harry said.

Hermione grinned when Ron looked at her.

“I still don’t know if I am happy with the choice,” Ron said, “Luna is a tough duelist!”

At this moment, Ginny walked over to the table and sat down beside Harry. But she hadn’t come from the Entrance Hall. She had come from the Professor’s table.

“Well, I did it!” she said.

“Did what?” Harry asked.

“Assigned the first Quidditch practice,” Ginny said, “Just confirmed it with McGonagall. It will take place on the Saturday after next.”

“Great!” Ron said.

“So what were you talking about?” Ginny asked.

“Our duels on Thursday,” Ron said, “I am not so sure if I do want to face Luna… I mean, after what we saw her do in her duel against Neville!”

“Yeah,” Ginny said, “She was very impressive.” She turned to Harry. “This reminds me, Harry. Have you talked to Ron and Hermione about the discussion we had last Thursday?”

“What?” Harry asked.

“About Dumbledore’s Army,” Ginny said, “You know…”

“Oh, yeah, right,” Harry said, “No, not yet.”

“Now is a good a time as ever,” Ginny said, “Since they are right here.”

“What did you want to talk to us about?” Hermione asked.

“Well,” Harry said.

He delayed for a moment, and Hermione wondered if he was deciding if he should say anything.

“How would you feel,” Harry continued, “if Dumbledore’s Army took a break after this tournament ends?”

“A break?” Hermione asked, “Why do you want to do that?”

“Well, it’s just,” Harry said, sighing, “I really have no ideas about what to do after the tournament. I don’t know any new spells that would be useful to teach everyone. Most of the students who have dueled know their stuff. A lot of them know things well advanced beyond their year. It’s just… I feel like the whole thing is not what it used to be. I hate to say it, but Ginny was right. This is just another old-fashioned class. It doesn’t replace what we are learning in Defense against the Dark Arts. What do you guys think?”

“Have you talked to Professor McGonagall about this?” Hermione asked, “She was the one who thought of bringing it back, wasn’t she?”

“She’s rather busy,” Harry said, “And I don’t know what she would say. I don’t know if I can lead Dumbledore’s Army anymore, that is all. I want to help Ginny with Quidditch, and I really need to focus on my N.E.W.Ts if I want to become an Auror.”

“Tell her that then,” Hermione said.

“Yeah, mate,” Ron said, “Tell her exactly what you just told us. I don’t think she will object.”

“So you are all right if Dumbledore’s Army takes a break?” Harry asked.

“I can’t speak for every one of the members,” Hermione said, “But yeah, I guess it is all right. I mean, I agree with you. I do need to focus on my N.E.W.Ts. There is a real chance we can take them in December.”

“Really?” Ron asked, looking intrigued.

“Professor McGonagall has been saying that she is planning on doing the exams twice this year,” Hermione said, “Once in December, right before Christmas Break, and then another when it normally would happen.”

Ron was about to say something, but before he could, Dean Thomas spoke up.

“Hey, Ron,” he said, “Is that your owl?”

At once, Ron, Hermione, Harry and Ginny looked up toward the ceiling. Pigwidgeon was diving toward Ron. There was a small parcel in its talons. Pig stopped in mid-air a couple feet from the Gryffindor table and dropped the parcel. It landed on Ron’s head and fell onto the table.

“Bloody bird!” Ron said, as many of the students around him were laughing hysterically.

He picked up the parcel, but didn’t open it.

“Oh, I think I know what this is!” he said, before looking at Hermione, Harry and Ginny, “I have to go! I will see you in Potions!”

Ron got up from the table and walked out of the Great Hall.

“Where is he going in such a hurry?” Hermione asked no one in particular.

“Yeah,” Ginny said, “And what is in that parcel?”

“Must be something good,” Harry said, “He didn’t finish his breakfast.”

“Hey!” Ginny said, “What if it is your birthday present, Hermione?”

“You think so?” Hermione asked.

“Yeah,” Ginny said, “Wonder what it could be. Looked awfully small.”

“Yeah,” Harry said, “Too small to be a book. Maybe it is perfume. He has gotten you that as a present before.”

“Hey,” Ginny said, “Could be jewelry.”

“He couldn’t afford it, could he?” Hermione asked.

“George might have lent him the money,” Ginny said, shrugging.

Hermione nodded and grinned.

End Flashback

Hermione smiled. There was a good chance it could be a piece of jewelry that Ron was giving her for her birthday. The parcel was definitely very small. It was true though, Ron was not the kind of person that you expected to see giving good presents out. So Hermione decided not to get her hopes up; he could just be giving her a box of candy.

She glanced at the letter again and smiled at the part where it read “Love you with all my heart”.

“I see you got my letter,” a voice said.

Hermione looked up from the letter. Ron was standing in the doorway of his bedroom.

“Yeah,” Hermione said, “Thanks.”

“So you accept my invitation?” Ron asked.

“Of course,” Hermione said.

“Good,” Ron said, smiling, “I see you are about to take a shower?”

“Huh?” Hermione said.

She then remembered she was holding her bath things.

“Oh yeah,” she said, “I was going to take one before going down for breakfast.”

Ron’s smile went to a frown.

“Something wrong?” she asked him.

“Well,” he said, “I was thinking about bringing you breakfast in bed. Another birthday treat. But the house elves are really busy with breakfast, I guess.”

“It’s okay,” Hermione said, “I understand.”

“Okay,” Ron said, “I will just let you take your shower then.”

He smiled and retreated back inside his bedroom. Hermione smiled and put the piece of parchment back in the envelope. She quickly put it in her bedroom, then walked down the hall and into the bathroom.


In Potions, Madam Pomfrey was able to join in with the class lesson, and the students were taught how to make Skele-Gro. While it was easy for Hermione to make, it was still some of the strangest ingredients she had ever used.

Professor Sprout was feeling a bit under the weather, so Nev ille was able to teach a class again. Everyone was extremely relieved when he had told them that they wouldn’t have to work with the Mimbulus Mimbletonia again. But their relief was short-lived: they would have to work on the Venemous Tentacula, which at this point in time wasn’t a very happy plant ind eed. Hermione thought she was extremely lucky by the end of the class not to get injured.

Once again, Harry had decided to skip lunch and go straight to the Room of Requirement for some preparations, leaving Hermione, Ron and Ginny wondering what he was planning. Though they did not speak much. Hermione was silent almost all the way through lunch trying to decide the best strategy for her upcoming duel. It was a bit difficult however. Thoughts of the birthday dinner Ron was planning and his mystery present was interrupting her dueling strategy.

After lunch, Hermione, Ron and Ginny made their way up to the Room of Requirement and the door appeared for them. When they walked in, they found that Harry was not alone. Most of the members had already arrived. For a mere moment, Hermione felt saddened by the fact that Harry was planning on putting Dumbledore’s Army on hiatus.

Harry was near the dueling stage talking to Luna.

“Oh hey guys,” Harry said, when Hermione, Ron and Ginny walked over to him, “We were just talking about today’s duels. I think I figured a new stipulation.”

“Oh really?” Ginny said, “And what is that?”

“I am not going to tell you,” Harry said, “It will be a surprise.”

“But you told Luna?!” Ron asked, “That is not fair!”

“Who says I told Luna?” Harry replied, grinning.

“He didn’t tell me anything,” Luna said, “I promise.”

“You guys better get ready,” Harry said, “Looks like everyone is just about in here. I just have to make one announcement.”

At this, Harry walked up onto the dueling stage.

“Sonorus,” he said, holding his wand to his voice, “Can I get everyone’s attention? I have an announcement.”

It took a couple of minutes for the members to get quiet and focus their attention on Harry.

“Thank you,” Harry said, “Over the last few days, I have been thinking about Dumbledore’s Army. I have come to a decision. After next Thursday’s session, Dumbledore’s Army will be taking a break.”

Gasps and shocked emotions rang through out the room.

“Quiet please,” Harry said, “I know this is a shock. I have talked to a few friends of mine and they agree with me. I need to focus on my N.E.W.Ts right now and my future. Right now, I am finding myself busy with too many things. Until I can find some spare time, I am going to have to put this on break. Now, I will talk to Professor McGonagall and see if she can do a study class or something. If not, every one of you will have free time on Tuesdays and Thursdays and this time of the day. All right… now it is time to get to the semi-finals of the seventh and eighth year combined duels. I would like Hermione and Ginny to come up to the stage.”

Hermione and Ginny made their way up onto the stage and took out their wands.

“Before you start,” Harry said, “There is one more thing that needs to happen.”

Harry raised his wand, and as soon as he did, the room was completely pitch-black! A few of the students screamed.

“Now, now!” Harry said, “Do not panic. This is supposed to happen. I want to know how the duelists can do when it is pitch-black.”

Hermione was about to use Lumos Maxima, but she stopped partially in to it. She knew what had to happen. If she used the light spell, Ginny would know where she was! But how could she see Ginny otherwise.

“Be careful when you use your spells,” Harry said, “You could harm someone outside the duel if you are not careful!”

“Muffliato,” Hermione whispered where she thought Ginny might have been.

Hermione hoped it had worked. If it did, then Ginny wouldn’t be able to hear where she was, even if her heavy breathing had betrayed her.

“This is rubbish!” Ginny said, “Lumos Maxima!”

Ginny’s wand lit up and Hermione could see Ginny plain as day. Most of the stage and a few of the spectators, including Harry, Ron and Luna could be seen as well. There was only one problem: Ginny could see Hermione as well.

“Bad mistake!” Hermione said, “Stupefy!”

Because of the Muffliato curse, Ginny did not hear the stunning incantation. However, Ginny got lucky. Hermione’s curse was just off by a little bit.

“Nox!” Ginny said.

The room went completely dark again.

“Stupefy!” Ginny said.

“Protego!” Hermione said quickly.

Suddenly a THUD was heard.

“Ginny?” Hermione heard Harry say. “Are you still able to duel?”

No answer.

“She is not answering,” Harry said, “So I guess that means that the winner –-“

“Stupefy!” Ginny said.

“Whoa!” Hermione shrieked.

But for some reason, the stunning spell didn’t work. Ginny’s aim was off by just a bit.

“Petrificus Totalus!” Hermione yelled.

A few seconds later, another THUD was heard. Hermione wasn’t going to get fooled this time.

“Lumos Maxima!” Hermione said.

The stage was once again enlightened.

“Winner!” Harry said, “Hermione!”

The whole room was back to its normal lighting this time. Once Hermione had adjusted her eyes, she saw that Ginny was laying at the other end of the stage, stiff as a board.

“Finite,” Harry said, pointing his wand at Ginny.

Ginny sat up and then got to her feet.

“Bloody hell!” Ginny said, “I thought I had you. I feinted the first time to try to trick you.”

“Wait,” Ron said, “You really did faint?”

“No, I feinted,” Ginny said, “You know, faked it.”

“It surprised me,” Hermione said, “Luckily, your aim was a bit off.”

“I can’t believe it,” Ginny said, “That won’t happen again. Why couldn’t I hear your spells? Were you doing non-verbal spells?”

“No,” Hermione said, “I used Muffliato.”

“Damn,” Ginny muttered, “Didn’t see that coming.”

“All right,” Harry said, “Final duel of the day. Luna and Ron! Get up to the stage.”

Hermione and Ginny walked off the stage, and Ron and Luna replaced them.

A couple of minutes later, the room was pitch-black again. Hermione grinned when she heard Ron whimpering a little.

“Come on, Ron,” Ginny said, “I know you aren’t afraid of the dark!”

“Don’t answer that, Ron!” Hermione said, “It will give up your position!”

“Right,” Ron said, “Oops!”

“Stupefy!” Luna said.

“Protego!” Ron yelled.

Hermione felt a whooshing sensation go just over her head.

“Watch where you are making those spells ricochet!” Hermione warned, “That one just went this way!”

“Oh this is bloody stupid,” Ron said, “Lumos Maxima!”

The light from the wand lit up almost half of the room.

“Expelliarmus!” Luna yelled.

“Protego!” Ron said.

Suddenly, a few things happened at once. The room went totally dark and the sound of a thud followed by scraping wood was heard.

“She is on the ground, Ron!” Hermione said, “Finish it now!”

“Stupefy!” Ron yelled.

A louder thud was heard then nothing.

“Luna?” Harry’s voice rang to the left of Hermione.

“Is it over, you reckon?” Ron asked.

“Lumos Maxima!” Harry said.

The room lit up again. Hermione focused her eyesight on the stage. Luna was laying on the stage. She was stunned. The lights in the room went back on and the room as fully lit this time.

“The winner!” Harry said, walking over to Luna’s unconscious form, “Ron! Ennervate.”

Luna woke up and sat up slowly.

“Never again, Harry,” Ron said, panting, “That was the worst! Dueling in pitch-black…”

“Okay, okay,” Harry said, “I get it. It was just so I could show everyone how difficult it is to duel in pitch-black conditions. You all right, Luna?”

“Yeah,” Luna said, standing up.

“Good,” Harry said, turning to the rest of the students, “That is all for today. Two more sessions left. I want you all back here on both Tuesday and Thursday. Okay?”

Everyone agreed and started filing out of the room.

“The final duel of the tournament is going to be very interesting,” Ginny said, with a big grin forming across her face, “It is Hermione against Ron.”

Hermione’s eyes went wide when she realized that Ginny was right. She looked at Ron and wasn’t surprised to see that he was looking at her with a look of shock. It looked as if he had just realized that too.

At fifteen minutes to seven that evening, Hermione left her Head Girl bedroom and walked down the stairs toward the Common Room. She had decided to dress in something nice this evening and went with a light-blue full-bodied dress. She would have done her hair up, but she didn’t want to have to deal with the Sleakeazy’s Hair Potion again.

“Going out this evening?” a voice asked when Hermione was at the empty hole at the entrance of the Common Room.

Hermione turned around. Harry and Ginny were cuddled up on the couch in front of the fire.

“Didn’t Ron tell you?” Hermione asked, “He and I are having a private dinner in the Room of Requirement for my birthday.”

“I guess he failed to mention it,” Ginny said.

“Speaking of dinner,” Hermione said, “I thought the two of you would be headed down to the Great Hall.”

“We have already eaten,” Harry said, “We haven’t had any private time to ourselves and thought this would be a good time as any. Aren’t you supposed to be doing your Head Girl duties though?”

Hermione gasped. She had forgotten about that.

“Oh, go on,” Ginny said, “If we get the time, we will do it for you. Have a good night.”

“Be back before curfew,” Harry said, “And don’t do anything we wouldn’t do!”

Hermione rolled her eyes. She waved goodbye to them as she walked out of the Gryffindor Tower , then headed for the Room of Requirement. When she arrived, two large oak doors formed for her. Though this time, she noticed, they were white instead of brown. She smiled and opened the doors and walked through them.

She gasped as she closed the door behind her. The room had been transformed into a small private café-like room. Elegant curtains and paintings lined the wall which was wallpapered with dark-maroon paper. The room was rather dark, except for a few candelabras on the walls of the room. In the center of the room was a small table, fit for two people. The tablecloth was maroon and the chairs and table looked like they were made of oak. Two candles were lit in the center of the table.

“You were nearly late,” Ron said.

Ron walked out of a more shadowed portion of the room and toward the table.

“Do you like the room?” Ron asked.

“I love it!” Hermione said, walking over to the table.

Ron pulled out the chair, and Hermione sat down.

“Quite the gentleman,” Hermione said, grinning.

Ron’s cheeks nearly matched the color of the tablecloth. Hermione heard more movement, and looked to her left. Winky the house-elf walked toward the table.

“Er, I hope you don’t mind,” Ron said, “She volunteered for the occasion.”

“Well, if she volunteered,” Hermione said, “How are you this evening, Winky?”

“Good, miss,” Winky said.

“She brought up a few things for dinner,” Ron said, “Just the normal stuff we usually have in the Great Hall.”

“Sounds wonderful,” Hermione said.

“I was going to get firewhisky,” Ron said, sitting down in the chair opposite of Hermione, “But I didn’t have time and I know you don’t like the stuff.”

“How were you going to get that?” Hermione said, as Winky started bringing over tureens, bowls and plates of hot food.

“From Aberforth,” Ron said, “I am sure we can still get to Hogsmeade from here.”

“Hmm,” Hermione said.

“That wasn’t the actual reason I was wanting to go to Hogsmeade, Hermione,” Ron said, “Remember when George was talking about how he hoped to buy out Zonko’s? I was wanting to see if he had done it yet. I haven’t received a letter from him or anything.”

“That might take a while,” Hermione said, “Anyway, I think our first Hogsmeade weekend might be the weekend before Halloween. We can just find out then.”

“Yeah,” Ron said, “I guess. Hermione? Would you like your present now?”

“Before we eat?” Hermione said.

“Well, it can wait,” Ron said, shrugging, “If you want…”

“No,” Hermione said, “Yeah, you can give it to me.”

“Okay,” Ron said, standing up from his chair.

He reached into his right pocket of his jeans and pulled out a small maroon box then handed it to Hermione, who gasped. She opened it. It was a silver ring with a ruby on top.

“It’s a promise ring,” Ron said, sitting back down, “I was reading about them. Promise rings are meant to be silver.”

“I love it!” Hermione said in a whisper, “But how were you able to –-“

“George helped me buy it,” Ron said, “I was talking to him this summer and your birthday present came up. I had nothing in mind, and then George comes up with the idea.”

Hermione grinned and took the ring from the box then place it on her ring finger. As she looked at it closely, she saw strange markings on the side, just below the ruby. She recognized them as runes.

“These runes,” Hermione said.

“Oh yeah,” Ron said, “I saw those after I bought it. The guy at the store didn’t say anything about them. I was wondering if you would know what they meant.”

“Well, this one means protection,” Hermione said, “And this one means love.”

“Really?” Ron asked.

“Do you know if it is a magic ring?” Hermione replied.

“I wouldn’t be surprised,” Ron said, shrugging, “I bought it in Diagon Alley.”

“It might be a protection ring,” Hermione said.

“What?” Ron asked.

“It could protect me from certain spells,” Hermione said, “But I don’t really want to confirm that.”

“Yeah,” Ron said, chortling, “You could be wrong. I mean… not that you are ever wrong at stuff like that.”

“I am sometimes, Ronald,” Hermione said.

“So you really like it?” Ron asked.

“I do,” Hermione said, “I really do. I love it. Thank you.”

She stood up and walked around the table. She leaned toward Ron and kissed him deeply on the lips.

“I guess you do,” Ron said, chuckling.

Hermione and Ron spent a couple hours talking and eating in the room of Requirement. It was almost ten-o-clock by the time they returned to the Common Room. Harry and Ginny were cuddled up asleep on the couch.

“I think we need to wake them up,” Ron whispered.

“No,” Hermione whispered, “Let them sleep.”

“Fine,” Ron said, sighing.

Hermione grinned. She knew that Ron still wasn’t too sure how he felt about his sister being with his best friend.

“Good night,” Hermione whispered, as she headed up the steps.

She smiled as she looked at the ring. This was definitely her favorite birthday ever.


Chapter finished! Hope you liked it!

I have some bad news. I don’t think I will be able to post the next chapter until after the New Year starts… say like… the first week of January maybe. I will be very busy over the next couple of weeks. But I hope to be able to write more when I continue again.

Feedback would be welcomed.

January 5th, 2008, 4:31 pm
Chapter 28
The Element of Surprise

Author’s Note: Sorry for the delay! Holidays and the after-effect of them (including a bit of a cold here and there) have caused me to slow up on my writing. This chapter will be in two PoVs.

(Harry’s PoV)

The next Wednesday came in like a lion. High winds and torrential downpours caused problems around Hogwarts. Harry and his friends were in the middle of breakfast when Hagrid walked into the Great Hall soaking from head to foot. As Hagrid walked up toward the professor’s table in a rush, Argus Filch was following behind him muttering about the large puddles that the gamekeeper and Care of Magical Creatures Professor was leaving behind. A few moments later, Hagrid walked back out of the Great Hall, followed by Professors McGonagall and Flitwick. As she left, McGonagall could be heard yelling at Filch about how he needs to go and make sure Peeves was doing no harm.

“What in the bloody hell is going on today?” Ron asked, looking at the large oak doors.

“I have no idea,” Harry said.

“Harry, have you spoken to Professor McGonagall about the issue with Dumbledore’s Army?” Hermione asked.

“Er… no,” Harry said.

“No?” Hermione asked, “Are you having second thoughts or something?”

“No,” Harry said, “Thursday is going to be the last meeting. I just haven’t found the right time to talk to McGonagall. She has been really busy.”

“Well, if she comes back before we have to go to Defense Against the Dark Arts,” Hermione said, “I think you need to talk to her.”

“All right, I will,” Harry said.

At this moment, Dennis Creevey walked in and sat next to Harry.

“I have been meaning to talk to you since yesterday,” Dennis said to Harry.

“Oh?” Harry asked.

“At first, I wasn’t too happy with returning to Dumbledore’s Army,” Dennis said, “But over the past few weeks, that has changed. I know that you have made up your mind about the fate of Dumbledore’s Army, and if you have, I just wanted to thank you. We may never talk like this again, so I wanted to say that now. The tournament you assigned was definitely one of the best things I have done since I have come to Hogwarts.”

“I am glad you liked it,” Harry said. “You did very well.”

“I couldn’t have won that without some of the stuff you taught us,” Dennis said.

Harry couldn’t find the right words to say to this, but he was saved any response when Hermione spoke up.

“Harry,” Hermione said, “Professor McGonagall is back.”

Harry looked up. Professor McGonagall had returned to the Great Hall and was using her wand to dry herself off. Harry stood up and walked over to her.

“Professor?” Harry said, “Can I speak to you?”

“Can it wait, Mr. Potter?” McGonagall said, “I am little busy right now.”

“I need to talk to you about Dumbledore’s Army,” Harry said, lowering his voice, “It can’t wait much longer.”

Professor McGonagall opened her mouth to speak, but at this moment Hagrid walked in.

“Minerva,” Hagrid said, “I’m afraid we aren’t done yet. It has gotten more complicated.”

McGonagall sighed and looked from Harry to Hagrid, then back to Harry.

“Mr. Potter,” she said, “Meet me tonight in my office at eight. We can discuss it there.”

She turned and walked back out of the Great Hall.

“Oh Harry!” Hagrid said, “Good ter see ya.”

“Yeah, you too,” Harry said, “Is something the matter? You look troubled.”

“Nothing ter worry about,” Hagrid said, “This weather has caused the Giant Squid ter wash ashore.”

“What?!” Harry asked.

“We are trying ter get it back into the lake,” Hagrid said, “Rough waters out there. Gotta be going, Harry. Good day!”

Hagrid turned around and rushed out of the Great Hall. Harry returned to his seat at the Gryffindor table.

“So?” Hermione asked.

“Er… so what?” Harry asked.

Hermione sighed and rolled her eyes. “Sometimes I don’t get you, Harry,” she said, “What did you go over there for? Did you tell McGonagall about Dumbledore’s Army?”

“Oh yeah… right,” Harry said, “Yeah, I have a meeting in her office tonight.”

“What is going on?” Ron asked, “Some of the professors are in a panic.”

“The Giant Squid has washed ashore,” Harry said, with a chuckle.

“What?” Ron asked.

“Cool!” Dennis said, “I remember when I encountered it. It saved me, you know.”

“It is certainly not cool, Dennis!” Ron said, “That thing could injure people.”

“Oh, get a grip Ronald,” Hermione said, “I am sure it won’t hurt anyone. It’s probably more worried about getting back into the lake.”

“Speaking of Dumbledore’s Army,” Dennis said, “What are you going to do about the final meeting?”

“Well,” Harry said, “Ron and Hermione will be dueling of course. But who knows after that? I might figure out something special.”

“Like a party?” Dennis said, “That would be cool!”

“Maybe,” Harry said.

Harry was more focused on the meeting with Professor McGonagall. In fact, this was on his mind so much that he had forgotten about the test that had been assigned that day in Defense Against the Dark Arts. The test was rather short, but Harry didn’t know how he did. Unfortunately, Professor Browne was able to grade all the tests before the end of class. When Harry’s test was sent back to him, there was an “A” for Acceptable on the top of the test. At the bottom of the test was a note that looked as if it had been written quickly. It was almost unreadable. It said: “My office. Tonight. Eight-o-clock.” Harry’s eyes went wide… this was going to be a problem.

At the end of class, Harry stayed behind and went up to Professor Browne.

“Professor?” he asked, “I can’t be in your office tonight.”

“What?” Browne said, “Why not, Mr. Potter?”

“I have a meeting with Professor McGonagall,” Harry said.

“I will speak to her,” Browne said, “As Headmaster, I think I have a right to be able to have things on schedule.”

Harry panicked. He had to have this meeting with Professor McGonagall tonight. What was he going to do?

“I have her class next,” Harry said, “You could come with me and talk to her.”

“I think that would be a good idea,” Browne said, “I will just write a little note for my next class.”

Browne pointed his wand at the board and suddenly the chalk wrote “Be Back In A Bit. Study For Your Test.”

“I think that will do,” Browne said, “Let’s get going then.”

Harry followed Browne out of the classroom. Ten minutes later, they arrived in the Transfiguration classroom. Harry went to his seat and Browne walked up to the front of the class where McGonagall, looking no worse for the wear after being out in the storm for a period of time, was sitting at her desk.

“What is going on?” Ginny whispered to Harry.

Harry didn’t respond. He was trying to listen to what Browne and McGonagall were saying. Unfortunately he couldn’t hear a thing. A moment later, Browne walked over to Harry, put a piece of parchment on his desk and walked out of the room. Harry read it:

My office. Sunday. Twelve-o-clock.

“What is that supposed to mean?” Ginny asked, “Do you have a detention?”

“I don’t know,” Harry said.

“Well you are lucky it isn’t on Saturday,” Ginny said, “We have Quidditch practice then.”

“Oh yeah,” Harry said, “Almost forgot.”

Harry looked up at McGonagall, who had cleared her throat to get the class’ attention.

“There will be a test next Monday on the four chapters you have been reading this month,” McGonagall addressed the class, “Today, you will study for it. When the bell rings, you can go to lunch.”

Was it just Harry’s mind playing tricks on him, or did Professor McGonagall seem a little flustered? She was definitely not her normal self. And how was she able to convince Browne to change Harry’s detention time, if that is what it was? Harry shrugged and opened his Advanced Transfiguration book, but today wasn’t the best day to study. Harry’s mind was still focused on the other events.

At fifteen minutes till eight that evening, Harry left the Gryffindor Common Room and headed for Professor McGonagall’s office. As he walked, lightning lit up the corridors and the thunder rumbled. Harry wondered if this storm was going to have any affect on the reconstruction of Hogwarts. A good percentage of the work was still needed to be done on the castle.

Harry arrived at McGonagall’s office a couple minutes before eight and knocked on the door.

“Come in,” McGonagall’s stern voice said.

Harry opened the door and walked into the office. McGonagall was sitting in her chair at her desk.

“Close the door and sit down,” she said.

Harry shut the door and walked over to the chair and sat down.

“You wanted to talk to me about Dumbledore’s Army?” McGonagall asked.

“Yes,” Harry said, “I don’t know how you will react to this, but I feel that it needs to go on break… and it may be a permanent one.”

“I see,” McGonagall said.

“It’s just,” Harry said, sighing, “I have found that I am very busy right now. I have been thinking of taking the N.E.W.Ts in December, you see.”

“Yes, quite a few in your year has been thinking about making the same decision,” McGonagall said, “It is becoming very popular.”

“I also want to focus more on Quidditch,” Harry said, “I know Ginny is really focused on it, since the Quidditch scouts are going to be coming. I want to help her with that.”

“I see,” McGonagall said again.

“I just don’t have the time for Dumbledore’s Army,” Harry said, “I can’t think of any thing that we can do. A lot of the stuff that I could teach will just be taught in other classes.”

“If you are trying to persuade me to agree with you,” McGonagall said, “You do not need to go any further.”

“Oh,” Harry said.

Harry didn’t know what McGonagall was thinking. Was she going to refuse Harry’s request?

“I have to agree that Dumbledore’s Army needs to go on break,” McGonagall said.

“Really?” Harry asked.

“Yes,” McGonagall said, “You see… if it goes on much further, there could be troubles ahead. A certain Professor is beginning to get a lot more smarter about the goings-on in this school.”

“Are you talking about Professor Browne?” Harry asked.

“Yes,” McGonagall said, “I don’t know what he is doing most of the time, and it seems –-“

“Is he going to cause trouble?” Harry asked.

“I don’t know,” McGonagall said, “I mean… it could be nothing. Right now, he seems to be a satisfactory Headmaster and Professor. I don’t have any reason to complain to the school board.”

“He is trying to put more power in his place,” Harry said, “He tried to stop this meeting we are having now.”

“Are you sure?” McGonagall asked.

“He talked to you earlier today,” Harry said, “Didn’t he tell you?”

“He asked me why I was having a meeting with you,” McGonagall said, “I told him it was a detention, and it had been planned for a while. A little white lie on my part, but he doesn’t need to know that.”

“What if he does know?” Harry asked. “Or what if he is trying to stop me from having these kinds of meetings with you.”

“Oh, I don’t know about that,” McGonagall said, “It makes it sound paranoid.”

Harry sighed. McGonagall was right. He was sounding a bit paranoid about these things.

“When are you planning on putting an end to these Dumbledore’s Army meetings?” McGonagall asked.

“The last one will be tomorrow,” Harry said.

“Be careful with it,” McGonagall said. “If Browne does know, he might try to stop it.”

“Would he stop it?” Harry asked.

“It is all happening right under his nose, Harry,” McGonagall said, “You haven’t forgotten what Delores Umbridge did when she found out, have you?”

“No,” Harry said, “Not at all.”

“I didn’t think so,” McGonagall said, “Now, if we are done here…”

“Actually,” Harry said, “Are you going to assign a study hall to replace this?”

“I will think about it,” McGonagall said, “Now we done?”

“Yeah,” Harry said.

“Then good evening,” McGonagall said.

“Good night,” Harry said, standing up from his chair.

Harry walked out of the office and back toward the Gryffindor Common Room.

(Hermione’s POV)

Hermione woke up the next morning after having a rough night’s sleep. She looked out the window and sighed. The storm that had caused so much trouble the day before was still taking place, though it had slowed up a lot. A rain shower was all that was left, but it was still causing small waterfalls down the windows of Hermione’s Head Girl bedroom.

She looked up at the ceiling, but didn’t really focus on anything. Her mind was still hazy after the discussion she had with Harry the night before. When Harry came back from his meeting with McGonagall, he had wasted no time in telling Hermione, Ron and Ginny what he had learned. Hermione wasn’t the least bit surprised what Harry told her about what Professor McGonagall said about Professor Browne. Professor McGonagall may have tried to make it look like nothing was too serious, but in Hermione’s mind, there was something definitely wrong with Browne. But what? Hermione couldn’t put her finger on it.

Knock! Knock! Knock!

“Hermione?” Ron’s voice said, on the other side of the door, “Are you awake?”

“Yes, Ron,” Hermione said.

“Just making sure,” Ron said, “It’s like.. almost six-thirty.”

Hermione looked over at her clock.

“I slept in!” she said, “Damn it!”

“Are you all right, Hermione?” Ron asked.

“Yeah,” Hermione said, sighing.

“It is okay to sleep in, you know?” Ron said, “You don’t always need to wake up early. You going to take a shower? Cause I was going to take one...”

“I don’t have time,” Hermione said, “You go ahead. I will see you at breakfast.”

“Yeah, see ya,” Ron said, “I love you.”

“Love you too, Ron,” Hermione said.

Hermione heard Ron walk away from the door. She groaned and sat up.

“I don’t know how much I can take this school thing anymore,” Hermione said, then looked at the mirror in the corner, “But don’t tell that to anyone.”

“Whatever you say, dear,” the voice in the mirror said.

Hermione rolled her eyes and laid back on the bed. She really didn’t want to get up this morning.

Fortunately for Hermione, the first half of the day was actually going really smoothly. She had just walked into the Great Hall after another good Herbology class. Ron and Ginny were with her; Harry had walked up to the Room of Requirement to get it prepared for the last meeting of Dumbledore’s Army.

“You know,” Ron said, “If Neville keeps it up, he could actually be a brilliant Herbology Professor. As long as he doesn’t trip and drop a whole tray of Pricklebushes again, like he did today. That was great. I bet he is still trying to get those thorns out of…OW!”

Hermione had chosen this as the right time to step on Ron’s foot.

“Oh, sorry,” Hermione said, grinning, “Wasn’t watching where I was going.”

“You know,” Ginny said, sitting down at the Gryffindor Table, “I will actually be happy when Dumbledore’s Army is over. Harry wasn’t joking when he said he was distracted by it. He’s not cut out for that teacher stuff. Why McGonagall ever wanted him to make it a class is beyond me.”

“He is good with some of it,” Hermione said, “The tournament has been fun.”

“Speak for yourself!” Ron said, “I still haven’t forgotten the fiasco with the pitch-black duels!”

“Speaking of that,” Ginny said, “What do you think he has cooked up for you two today?”

“I don’t want to think about it,” Ron said.

“What is wrong with you today?” Ginny asked Ron.

“Nothing,” Ron said, shrugging, “Why?”

“You seem tense,” Ginny said, “More than usual, I mean. Right, Hermione?”

“I’m just focused on the duel,” Ron said, “I have to face Hermione. It’s going to be tough.”

“You really think so?” Hermione asked, “I always thought you were a better dueler than me.”

“Really?” Ron asked.

“Yeah,” Hermione said, “I am going to have a tough time as well today.”

This cheered Ron up considerably, and when they walked up to the Room of Requirement, Ron wasn’t having any doubts about the duel he was about to have with Hermione. When they arrived at the Room of Requirement, there was a bunch of students standing outside of it. Harry was right by the doorway.

“What is going on?” Ron asked, “What’s the hold up? Why can’t we go in?”

“Harry said we can’t,” Dean said.

“Harry?” Hermione asked, as she, Ron and Ginny made their way through the crowd, “What is going on?”

“You and Ron are going to be the only ones allowed in the Room of Requirement,” Harry said.

“What are you talking about?” Hermione asked.

“The room has something special in store for your duel,” Harry said, grinning.

Harry opened the doors and every one of the students gasped. It looked as if someone had brought the Forbidden Forest into the Room of Requirement. Hermione could only see a few feet into the room.

“The room has outdone itself!” Ginny said.

“No effing way!” Ron said, “I am not going in there.”

“You have to, mate,” Harry said, “Or do you forfeit?”

Ron didn’t answer.

“Ron, it will be okay,” Hermione said, “It isn’t actually the forest, you know?”

“Oh yeah,” Ron said, “How do you know? Who knows what could be in there!”

“Are you a Gryffindor or not, Ron?” Seamus said, “You are supposed to be brave.”

“It is just going to be for a few minutes,” Hermione said, “I promise.”

Ron then muttered something, but Hermione couldn’t understand it.

“What did you say?” she asked.

“Fine, I will do it!” Ron said.

“That’s the spirit!” Harry said, “Now. Since you two are going to be the only ones in there, this is what is going to happen. Whoever wins will have to drag the other one out here for everyone to see. Otherwise, we won’t believe that you won the duel, okay?”

Hermione and Ron nodded, but didn’t say anything.

“It will be very dark in there,” Harry said.

“You don’t need to tell us that,” Ron grumbled.

“Both of you will go separate ways,” Harry said, “After three minutes, you will both see a bright light. That will tell you that you can find each other. Use your surroundings. The elements will affect you. This isn’t going to be a normal duel.”

“Can we just go in?” Ron asked, anxiously, “I want to get this over with.”

“Yeah, go ahead,” Harry said, “Hermione you go left, Ron you go right.”

Hermione and Ron both walked into the room.

“Good luck,” Hermione said.

“Yeah, you too,” Ron said.

Hermione walked to the left and heard Ron walking in the opposite direction.

“Lumos,” Hermione said.

The tip of her wand lit up. As she walked through the forest, she was amazed how real it looked. It felt more like a forest with every step she took. She wondered when she was going to hit the wall of the room but she couldn’t even see anything that represented a wall. Suddenly a bright light nearly blinded her and she had to cover her eyes.

“That’s the signal,” Hermione reminded herself, “Time to go find Ron.”

She took a deep breath and turned around. As she looked around, she couldn’t figure where she had come from.

“Okay,” she said to herself, “Calm down. I just need to keep walking in this direction and I will find Ron.”

Hermione hoped that Ron was doing all right. This was definitely not the best place to be in, especially when you knew someone was looking for you.

Suddenly, Hermione heard a loud scream.

“Ron?!” Hermione yelled out loud, “Are you all right?”

Was Ron playing a trick on her to discover her location? Then… another scream. Hermione started running toward the sound of the voice. She didn’t care if she was walking into a trap.

“Ron?!” Hermione yelled again.

“Hermione, watch out!” Ron’s voice said to her right.

Hermione looked over. A large spider was running toward her.

“Stupefy!” she yelled, pointing her wand at the spider.

The spell hit the spider and it rolled over, stunned. Hermione looked up and saw Ron. Two more spiders were closing in on him.

“Stupefy!” Hermione yelled again, “Come on, Ron!”

“Stupefy!” Ron said.

Both spells hit their target. The spiders sank to the ground, stunned.

“What in the bloody hell are they doing in here?” Ron said, panting.

“The Room of Requirement must have got a little carried away!” Hermione said.

“Remind me to kill Harry when we get out of here!” Ron said.

“Oh, calm down,” Hermione said.

“Aren’t we supposed to be dueling?” Ron asked.

“Oh yeah,” Hermione said.

“You know, you could have won the duel earlier,” Ron said.

“I wasn’t going to stun you then!” Hermione said, “You were surrounded by spiders.”

“Can we just get this over with?” Ron asked.

“Okay, but we will do this the right way,” Hermione said, “A regular duel. No need to hide.”

“Fine,” Ron said.

“We will separate twenty paces,” Hermione said, stepping backwards away from Ron.

“Okay,” Ron said.

Hermione backed away another few paces and Ron did the same.

“On three?” Hermione suggested.

“Er… right,” Ron said.

“One,” they both said, “Two…”

Hermione and Ron both raised their wands.

“Three!” they said.

“Stupefy!” Ron said, quickly.

“Protego!” Hermione said.

The stunning spell ricocheted off of the shield spell and hit a nearby tree, sending branches flying.

“Expelliarmus!” Ron said.

Hermione tried to get another shield spell up, but it was too late. Her wand went flying. She ran toward it and rolled to the ground.

“Levicorpus!” Ron said.

Hermione dodged the spell by inches and she grabbed her wand from the ground.

“Stupefy!” Hermione yelled, pointing her wand at Ron.

Ron attempted the shield spell, but it was too late. The stunning spell hit him square in the chest. He fell to the ground, stunned. Hermione stood up, trying to catch her breath.

“Oh, I’m sorry, Ron,” Hermione muttered as she walked over to Ron’s stunned form, “Let’s get out of here.”

Hermione grabbed on to both of Ron’s arms and dragged him toward the entrance of the room. It took Hermione a few minutes to find the door, but she found it at last.

“The winner, Hermione!” Harry’s voice was barely audible through all the cheering as Hermione walked out of the Room of Requirement.

“Rennervate,” Hermione said, pointing her wand at Ron.

Ron’s eyes blinked and he sat up.

“Damn, I lost, didn’t I?” he asked.

“You did,” Hermione said, “But you were wonderful in there.”

“Harry,” Ron said, “I should kill you, you know.”

“Why?” Harry said, surprised.

“There were spiders in there!” Ron said, “Acromantulas!”

“Really?” Harry said, looking at Hermione for verification.

“They almost attacked him,” Hermione said, nodding to Ron, “That is how I found him. He was screaming.”

“I was not!” Ron said, “Okay… fine… I was.”

“You did great though,” Hermione said.

“You were better,” Ron said, “You almost beat me. Your aiming was just a little off there at the end, that’s all.”

“I am going to get the room to change,” Harry said, “Then we can have a little celebration, eh?”

“Not because I won, I hope?” Hermione asked, grinning.

“It’s the last meeting,” Harry said, “Have to give it a good send-off.”

“How are we going to get food?” Ron asked, “The room doesn’t give us any, you know?”

“Are you always thinking about food?” Hermione asked.

“Hey!” Ron said, “I was almost killed by giant spiders in there, Hermione! Give me a break!”

Hermione laughed.

A few minutes later, Harry held a little party for the members of the Dumbledore’s Army. Ron had disappeared for a little bit, but the next time Hermione saw him, he was holding a box of what looked like butterbeer and firewhiskey, as well as an assortment of food.

“Compliments of Aberforth Dumbledore, eh?” Hermione asked him.

Ron said nothing, but grinned.

Chapter is finally done! Sorry for the long delay! I would have made the little party longer, but I didn’t have any ideas for it…

Hope you liked the chapter! Hope to get the next chapter up sometime next week!

Feedback would be welcomed!

January 11th, 2008, 5:38 pm
Chapter 29
The Portrait

Quidditch practice the next day was eventful. It was Ginny’s first Quidditch practice as Captain, and it was the first practice with a nearly-completely new team.

Madam Hooch was there to make sure that nothing went wrong, and she was a little bit of a help when it came to Harry’s practicing. Harry didn’t feel like working with the Snitch right away, since he wasn’t completely sure that his broom was one-hundred percent again. So Hooch took out the bag of tennis balls and used her wand to throw them into the sky with humongous force and speed that Harry had to work a little to get them.

Meanwhile, Dean and Seamus were eager to show Ginny that they were the best choice for Chasers. They reminded Ginny of the move that they had discovered while watching a Professional Quidditch game and hesitantly, Ginny decided to try it out. To give it the full effect, the two Beaters and Ron would all be playing their positions.

“Madam Hooch,” Dean yelled from up in the sky, “I want you to watch this play. If we do it right, we may be able to gain 20 points legally in one play.”

“Is that possible?!” Hermione, who near Hooch, asked.

“It is definitely possible if performed right,” Hooch said, “You may try it!”

“Great!” Dean said, “Er… do you mind if I give some instructions, Ginny?”

“Do what you want!” Ginny said, “It is your play, not mine!”

“All right,” Dean said, “We need to be in a triangle position. Two of the players a few feet apart and the other above them.”

“You two will be below me!” Ginny ordered.

“You will start with the Quaffle then!” Dean said.

Madam Hooch threw the Quaffle toward Ginny, who caught it, and she joined her fellow Chasers in the position.

“We all need to fly toward the rings,” Dean said, “Basically we need to fly around in a circle but stay in the triangular position. Does that make sense?”

“Yeah,” Ginny said.

“Makes sense to me,” Seamus said, “I saw it with my own two eyes.”

“We will pass it to each other to confuse the other players, and especially the Keeper,” Dean said.

“You can try!” Ron yelled.

“When we get to the rings,” Dean said, “One of the Chasers who does not have the Quaffle will need to go behind the rings. If the Quaffle goes through the ring, that Chaser needs to catch it and send it back to another Chaser quickly. They can score again. If it works, it will give us twenty points.”

“Let’s do it, then!” Ginny said.

Ginny started off toward the rings. A few seconds later, Dean said, “Now!” and each of the Chasers began to fly around in a triangular position. Ginny passed it to Dean, who caught it and immediately passed it to Seamus… who dropped it.

“Seamus!” Dean said.

“Sorry,” Seamus said, as Ginny flew down and caught the Quaffle, “Forgot how quickly the Quaffle was passed!”

“Let’s do it again,” Ginny said, flying back to her original spot.

Over the next twenty minutes, there was always a few mistakes. One time, Ginny didn’t go to her correct spot in the triangle and Dean nearly collided into her. Another, Ron had caught the Quaffle, causing the whole play to mess up. Another attempt, Seamus was nearly beheaded by Dennis Creevey’s well-aimed Bludger.

“One last time!” Ginny said, starting to get angry, “If we keep this up, we will only be practicing this one play!”

“Then let’s do it!” Dean said.

They got in their positions. Ginny started flying toward the rings. Dean said “Now!” for what seemed like the millionth time. The three Chasers started flying around in the triangular positions, and Ginny passed the Quaffle to Dean, who passed it to Seamus, who passed it back to Ginny. They did this a couple of times, and when Ginny passed it to Dean, he immediately passed it back to her. Fortunately she realized he did it. They were now very near the rings. Seamus flew in between the rings and stopped behind them. Ginny threw the Quaffle toward the left ring and it sailed through! Seamus immediately caught it and passed it to Dean, who passed it back to Ginny. She faked it toward the middle and threw it toward the right and it sailed through!

“Twenty points!” Madam Hooch yelled.

“Wow!” Ginny said, “I don’t believe it worked.”

“You aren’t the only one!” Dean said.

“That was a Professional Quidditch-type play!” Hooch said, “Keep this up, and the scouts will be impressed!”

For the rest of the day, Harry knew that nothing would keep Ginny from smiling.

Fifteen minutes till noon on Sunday, Harry left the Gryffindor Common Room and made his way to the Headmaster’s office. When he arrived, he realized that he didn’t know the password to get into Professor Browne’s office. While he was trying to think of what it could possibly be, the gargoyle guarding the door sprang to life and stepped to its left. Harry thought for a moment that the gargoyle was letting Harry go on through, but as the stairs lowered down, he saw that they were occupied. Professor Browne was standing on them, looking a little harassed.

“Ruddy portraits think they can do whatever they please!” Browne muttered to himself, “Well, we will see about... Potter! What are you doing here?”

Harry nearly jumped out of his trainers when the headmaster spoke up.

“You asked me to meet you here, sir,” Harry said, regaining his composure.

“Did I?” Browne asked, “Right, yes, I did.”

“Is something wrong, sir?” Harry asked.

“Hmm?” Browne replied.

“I overheard, sir,” Harry said, “You seem to be having trouble with the portraits. If I may suggest, Mr. Filch may be able to help.”

“I don’t believe that is any of your business, Mr. Potter,” Browne said, suddenly, “But yes, because of uncontrollable circumstances, we will not be in my office today.”

“Oh?” Harry asked.

“We will go down to the classroom,” Browne said, “Come on, Potter.”

Harry followed Professor Browne toward the Grand Staircase. As he did, he wondered if there were other reasons as to why they weren’t going to be in the office. It was where Browne had requested the meeting. This intrigued Harry and he definitely wanted to know what was going on in that office.

Harry and Professor Browne arrived at the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom a few minutes later. When they walked in, Browne led Harry to his desk and conjured a uncomfortable-looking chair for Harry to sit in.

“Why can’t I sit at a desk?” Harry asked, looking at the chair.

“You will speak when you are spoken to!” Browne said, “And to answer your question, I want your full attention, so you will sit in the chair.”

“Yes, sir,” Harry said, stiffly, as he sat down in the chair.

For a mere moment, he thought that the chair was going to attack him or force him to stay in it. But it didn’t do either. Harry watched Browne walk behind his desk and sit down in his very comfortable chair. Harry’s gaze then went to a small portrait that was sitting on Browne’s desk. Harry took a closer look and noticed Browne was standing with three other people: a woman and two others, a boy and girl, who looked as if they were in their teens.

“Is that your family, sir?” Harry asked before he could stop himself.

“Yes,” Browne said, reaching over to the portrait and laying it face-down.

Harry looked at the portrait again. On the back, in tiny letters, it read:

Emelius, Beverly, William and Clementine Browne. May of ’97.

“On Wednesday,” Browne said loudly, attempting to regain Harry’s attention.

Harry tore his sight from the portrait and looked at Browne.

“On Wednesday,” Browne said again, “I assigned a test. Do you remember?”

“Yes,” Harry said.

“Do you remember what I graded you on that test?” Browne asked.

“An Acceptable, I believe,” Harry said.

“You believe?” Browne asked.

“An Acceptable, sir,” Harry said, trying his best to control his temper.

“Correct,” Browne said, “Now… if I am right, you normally have good grades in Defense Against the Dark Arts, is that right? I mean to say… you are normally seen as the best student in your year in the subject.”

“I don’t know about that,” Harry said.

“If I am correct,” Browne said, “I believe you want to be an Auror when you finish your education.”

“Yes, sir,” Harry said.

“You have to do very well in this subject,” Browne said, “As well as other subjects to be able to be considered for that career path, I do believe.”

“Yes, sir,” Harry said again.

“So,” Browne said, “If you are normally the best student in your year in this subject, and are on your way to becoming an Auror… why in the world did you only get an Acceptable on your test?”

“I don’t know,” Harry said.

“You don’t know?” Browne asked.

“I may have been a little distracted,” Harry said, shrugging.

“Ah,” Browne said, “Do you know why you were distracted?”

Harry didn’t answer. He did know: he was thinking more about McGonagall’s meeting and the fate of Dumbledore’s Army. But Browne wasn’t to know that.

“You don’t know?” Browne asked.

“It was just one of those days,” Harry said, brightly.

“Ah,” Browne said, “Yes. One of those days. We all have one of those days. No one is immune from having one of those days, is that correct, Mr. Potter?”

“I don’t know, sir,” Harry said.

“All right,” Browne said, “I am willing to do something for you, Mr. Potter. I know how much you want to become an Auror. I am going to let you retake the test. Right now. We can just throw away the other test. Are you willing to do that?”

“What’s the catch?” Harry asked.

“I just want to know one little thing,” Browne said, “What were you doing in Professor McGonagall’s office on Wednesday evening?”

“I am not sure if it is any of your business,” Harry said, “But I was serving a detention.”

“I do not think so,” Browne said, “I saw you earlier that morning talking to her in the Great Hall.”

“Is that illegal?” Harry asked.

“Watch your tongue!” Browne said, standing up.

“I assure you it was nothing more than a detention, Professor,” Harry said, calmly, “You can ask her yourself.”

Browne looked as if he was about to reply, but he stopped and sat back down.

“Get out of here,” he said.

“What?” Harry asked.

“I thought you would be smarter than this, Mr. Potter,” Browne said, “I thought you might have wanted to do better on your test. But I guess I was wrong. You may leave.”

Harry stood up and was about to walk toward the door when Browne spoke up.

“I think I will be talking to Professor McGonagall,” Browne said, “It has come to my attention that for the past month, a good number of students have been vanishing for a couple hours at a time
and reappearing later.”

Harry turned around and looked at Professor Browne.

“Professor McGonagall has not been too cooperative with me,” Browne said, “and if she continues, Mr. Potter, I may have to alert the authorities. I am sure the school governors, as well as the parents, will want to know about this. I do not know how many people are in on this, but I am getting smarter about the goings-on in my school, Mr. Potter. Something is happening under my nose and I do not like it!”

At that moment, Browne put the portrait of his family right side-up. He sighed and looked back at Harry.

“You wouldn’t know anything about these mysterious vanishings, would you now?” he asked.

“This is news to me, sir,” Harry said.

“Really?” Browne asked, “Because I thought you might know something. It turns out you may have been in on this as well.”

Browne grinned and raised his eyebrows.

“You can’t prove anything,” Harry said.

“Oh can’t I?” Browne asked, “I think I can.”

“I would like to see that,” Harry said, “There is nothing to prove, so it will be pretty impossible. You are extremely paranoid, Professor Browne, and I am sure Professor McGonagall will agree with me on that! Good day, Professor.”

Browne’s face turned red and Harry was reminded of the tempers Uncle Vernon usually got into. Harry took this as the best time to get out and he sped out of the classroom. He headed back to the Grand Staircase, well intent on returning to the Gryffindor Tower and informing Ron, Hermione and Ginny about what he had just discovered.

“Peeves!” a voice rang out, “Am I going to have to find the Bloody Baron?!”

Harry looked up. Professor McGonagall was on one of the staircases looking up near the top. Peeves the Poltergeist was zooming around annoying inhabitants of portraits. He gave a high-pitch cackle and flew through a nearby door, blowing raspberries as he went. Harry hurried up the stairs, where Professor McGonagall was sitting on one of the stairs, looking a bit worn-out.

“Oh, hello, Potter,” she said, “I guess you heard that.”

“Wasn’t hard to miss,” Harry said, with a chuckle.

“Aren’t you supposed to be in Professor Browne’s office?” McGonagall said.

“We were in the Defense Against the Dark Arts Classroom,” Harry said, “I just left.”

At that moment, a light turned on in Harry’s mind. This was the exact person he needed to be talking to!

“Professor,” he said, “I need to tell you something.”

“Well, what is it?” McGonagall asked.

“I think Professor Browne knows about Dumbledore’s Army,” Harry said.

“Oh?” McGonagall said, “Why do you think that?”

“He just informed me,” Harry said, “That he has discovered that students have been vanishing for a couple of hours a few days over the past month. Well, if he doesn’t know about the Room of Requirement…”

“Then he wouldn’t know where the students would be going,” McGonagall finished Harry’s sentence, “And he would have to think that they are vanishing.”

“He thinks you are behind it all,” Harry said, “And he threatened to alert the Ministry.”

“Did he now?” McGonagall asked, “Well, it certainly looks like power is going to the old coot’s head!”

“Are you going to talk to him?” Harry asked.

“Yes,” McGonagall said, grinning, “I think I know what to do. Potter, it looks as your idea of a period of study time will have to go as planned. I think if I can convince that this is where the students have been, then there will be nothing to worry about.”

“How will you do that?” Harry asked, “Browne would know if something like that was going on. He would know it was planned.”

“Oh, we will see,” McGonagall said, “Expect an owl from me in the next couple of days. I will inform you about what has happened. Thank you for giving me the heads-up.”

McGonagall stood up quickly and walked down the stairs.

“You’re welcome, Professor,” Harry said.

Harry walked up to the seventh floor and returned to the Gryffindor Common Room.

Chapter done! I am sorry it was so short… I kept having SO much trouble with the Quidditch part. I had the second half of the chapter done and the first part kept delaying me. If I didn’t put anything for the Quidditch, I would have been a little mad at myself. I had to put something. Hope you liked it.

Next chapter will be veering away from Hogwarts. Sorry, but that is what is in my head!

Feedback would be great!

January 18th, 2008, 7:40 pm
Chapter 30
The Other Prisoners

Author’s Note: Sorry for the delay! I’ve been kind of busy and hadn’t been able to focus on my new chapter until recently. This will be in Auror John Dawlish’s POV.

The weather in London was definitely something that couldn’t go unnoticed. One day, it would be sunny with no clouds in sight. The next day, clouds would come in from nowhere and the temperatures would lower to a near-freezing point, even at noon. This was not right for early autumn and everyone knew it.

The Muggles noticed the changes in weather and the Ministry of Magic wasn’t too happy about it. The Ministry had some allies in the meteorological community, and all that the Muggles knew about the weather was that a big storm system was taking place out in Atlantic Ocean that was causing this kind of weather in Britain.

Unfortunately, the Muggle Prime Minister, who was well-informed of the wizarding world, knew better. Minister Shacklebolt was up to his neck in complaints and on the last Monday of September, he had asked Auror Dawlish to come into his office. Dawlish still remembered the meeting…


“Dawlish, please remind me of the details of your current mission,” Shacklebolt said, in an attempted calm voice.

Dawlish winced. He was sure the Minister was going to lash out at him at any moment.

“I believe you asked me to infiltrate the Death Eaters hide-out,” he said, “And find out anything that I possibly can.”

“And in doing so,” Shacklebolt said, “Hopefully put an end to the war once and for all, yes?”

“Yes, that would be the best result,” Dawlish said.

“I agree,” Shacklebolt said.

He stood up from his desk and paced around the perimeter of it.

“The one little thing that has come to my attention, though,” he said, “Is that it seems at the moment that you are failing your mission.”

“I will admit that I have hit a few snags,” Dawlish said, nervously.

“A few snags,” Shacklebolt said, “The riot in Azkaban which caused the release of a numerous amount of dangerous felons and convicted Death Eater… would you define that as a little snag?”

“Well,” Dawlish said, “I don’t –-“

“You don’t know,” Shacklebolt said, “John, I am going to let you in on a little secret.”

He walked over to Dawlish and stared him in the eyes.

“The only reason you are still on this mission is because you have gained the Death Eater’s trust!” he roared, “Do you understand me?”

“Y-yes, sir,” Dawlish said.

“Do you have any more information for me at the present time?” Shacklebolt asked.

“Sir, if you are asking me to tell you the location of the Death Eaters hide-out,” Dawlish said, “You must understand that the Secret-Keeper spell is the only thing that is not letting me disclose the information. You know what would happen if I even uttered a single word of it, right?”

“Quiet!” Shacklebolt roared, “I am not talking about that. I am talking about what the Death Eaters are planning! That is what I wanted you to find out!”

“They haven’t really planned anything yet,” Dawlish said, “As far as I know.”

Shacklebolt turned around and walked toward his desk. Dawlish could hear his deep breathing.

“This is what I want you to do,” Shacklebolt said, “The Prime Minister has been complaining to me that Dementors must be the reason for the horrible weather we have been experiencing. I don’t know why he would suggest that. He can’t see the Dementors. Anyway… I want you to find out if the Death Eaters still have any Dementors under their control.”

“Yes, sir,” Dawlish said.

“Things better be improving, Dawlish,” Shacklebolt said, “You don’t want to know what will happen if they don’t.”

“Yes, sir,” Dawlish said.

“You may go,” Shacklebolt said.

Dawlish turned and walked out the door.

End Flashback

It was early Tuesday morning now, the day after Dawlish’s meeting with the Minister of Magic. Dawlish, now disguised once again as Augustus Rookwood, was walking down the street toward the Death Eater’s hide-out. Dawlish wished there was a way for the other Aurors to follow him to the hide-out, but he knew that was not to be.

Once Dawlish reached the house, he noticed that Selwyn and Rowle were standing outside the front door.

“Why are you two out here?” Dawlish asked, “Where are the rookies?”

“Yaxley has them in the dining room,” Selwyn said, “We are doing their jobs today. Speaking of… you and I will be on guard duty down in the wine cellar.”

“You are leaving me here alone?” Rowle asked.

“What is the matter, Rowle,” Dawlish chortled, “Scared to be out here alone.”

Rowle reached for his coat pocket.

“Rowle!” Selwyn said, “Cool it. I imagine someone will accompany you. Come on, Rookwood.”

Dawlish followed Selwyn into the house. He looked at Rowle, who looked as if he could commit murder at that very moment.

“So why is Yaxley interested in the rookies today?” Dawlish asked.

“There have been rumors that some of the rookies are not trustworthy,” Selwyn said.

He paused.

“Actually there have been a lot of rumors going on lately,” he said.

Dawlish chose this as the right time to get to the point.

“Any of the rumors have to do with Dementors?” Dawlish asked.

“Why do you ask?” Selwyn replied.

“I don’t know,” Dawlish said, shrugging, “It just seems… you know, the weather is going crazy. I thought that might have been something to do with Dementors.”

“If we have any Dementors still under our control,” Selwyn said, “I know nothing about it. Though it wouldn’t surprise me. Nothing does these days.”

Selwyn looked at a door as he and Dawlish passed it. Dawlish looked at it too and recognized it. It was leading into the dining room.

“I can’t hear a thing,” Dawlish said.

“Silencing Charms,” Selwyn scoffed, “Come on. We need to be in the wine cellar. There is no one down there. Who knows what is going on?”

“I have never been down to the wine cellar,” Dawlish said.

“You haven’t?” Selwyn asked, “Well not much to see. Unless you count the three jail cells. All the wine is gone of course.”

“Three jail cells?” Dawlish asked.

“Of course,” Selwyn asked, “Three prisoners, three jail cells. We just use magic to conjure them. Greyback’s cell is far away from the Malfoys. It is for their protection.”

“Shouldn’t Greyback be sedated?” Dawlish asked.

“Only during the week of the full moon,” Selwyn said, “Ah! Here we are.”

They had arrived at a stairwell going down to the basement. Dawlish followed Selwyn and as soon as they reached the bottom of the stairs, Dawlish saw the door to his left. Selwyn took his wand out and muttered a few words under his breath. Dawlish heard a series of noises that sounded like various locks unlocking. The door opened and Dawlish saw a hallway.

“Strange,” Dawlish said.

“What?” Selwyn asked.

“Nothing,” Dawlish said, shrugging, “I just expected the cellar to be on the other side of this door.”

Selwyn just chuckled and walked down the hallway. Dawlish followed him. As soon as they got closer, they could hear voice.

“I wish I could get some meat!” the unmistakable growl of Greyback’s voice roared, “They can’t keep us like this!”

“They can do whatever they want,” Lucius said in a bored voice, “Now would you shut up!”

“Watch it, Malfoy,” Greyback said, “or you will regret it when I get out of here. I hear your little boy is back in England.”

“Don’t,” Narcissa screamed, “you ever talk about our son!”

“We better get in there,” Selwyn said.

Dawlish followed Selwyn and they hurried into the next room, which was the wine cellar. The first thing he saw was Lucius and Narcissa in two separate cells near each other. Lucius was laying on the cold cement floor, looking very bored with the current circumstances. Narcissa, however, was standing. Her hair was in all directions and she looked insane. She was looking in the direction of the other side of the room. Her face was full of fury. Dawlish looked at the other side of the room. Greyback was sitting against the wall in his cell, grinning. His pointed teeth were showing.

“What in the bloody hell is going on here?” Selwyn asked.

“That… monster… needs to go!” Narcissa roared.

“Narcissa, that is not going to happen,” Selwyn said.

“What?!” Narcissa asked, “Lucius, are you hearing this?”

“Why should I bother?” Lucius asked, still in the same bored tone, “Nothing is going to change. If you have yet to notice, dear, we are their prisoners!”

Dawlish grinned. Lucius sat up straight and looked at him.

“What are you smirking at, Rookwood?” he asked, “If Yaxley was smart, you would be down here with us.”

“Shut your mouth!” Dawlish said.

“You know it is true then,” Lucius said.

Dawlish reached for his wand. Selwyn immediately stopped him.

“Augustus, you are going to have to get used to it,” he muttered, “They do it all the time just to annoy us.”

Selwyn took out his wand, and for a slight moment, Dawlish thought he was going to curse one of the prisoners. But the next moment, two wooden chairs appeared out of thin air.

“Take a seat,” Selwyn said, “Hey, can you do this alone for a bit? I got to go to the little wizard’s room.”

“Yeah, I can take care of it,” Dawlish said.

“Good,” Selwyn said, before exiting the room.

“So you are still getting away with that ‘I work at the Ministry’ gag,” Lucius said to Dawlish.

“I wouldn’t talk,” Dawlish said.

“We can talk all we want,” Lucius said, “You guys haven’t taken that away.”

“You didn’t let me finish my sentence,” Dawlish said, “You wouldn’t be poking fun at what I do if you knew I what I know.”

“I doubt it,” Lucius said.

“What if I said,” Dawlish said, “That I know how your son is doing, and where your son is right now?”

“Liar!” Narcissa hissed.

“Fine,” Dawlish said, shrugging.

He muttered a couple of words under his breath and an issue of the latest Daily Prophet appeared in his lap.

“Wonderful!” he said.

He opened it up but didn’t look at anything in particular.

“Are you telling the truth?” Lucius asked.

“Maybe,” Dawlish said.

“What do you know?” Lucius asked, “Spit it out!”

Dawlish put the newspaper down.

“First,” he said, “I want to know something from you.”

“We don’t know anything,” Lucius said.

“I doubt that,” Dawlish said, “I am sure you have been eavesdropping on the guards that have been down here before me. I want to know what you have heard from them.”

“Why?” Lucius asked.

“Isn’t it obvious?” Greyback asked, “Rookwood doesn’t know as much as he would like. It seems Yaxley, or whoever is in control up there, isn’t telling everyone what is on their mind.”

Dawlish was very lucky to have packed a couple extra flasks full of the Polyjuice Potion. He knew this was going to take a while, and he would need more time. He wouldn’t take the potion just yet. He still had a little time.

“Is this true?” Lucius said.

“Maybe,” Dawlish said.

“I have heard a few things,” Lucius said.

“Don’t tell him!” Narcissa said, “We need that information kept to ourselves.”

“You do want to know how your son is, don’t you?” Dawlish asked, “If I can’t tell you before Selwyn comes in, then you won’t be able to find out. Now tell me what you know.”

“Apparently,” Lucius said, “We are not the only prisoners that the Death Eaters have in custody.”

“What?” Dawlish asked.

“One of your… rookies… said that he was supposed to go somewhere in October,” Lucius said, “He said he was to be a guard for the other prisoners.”

“Other prisoners?” Dawlish asked, “Who?”

“We have yet to find out,” Lucius said, “Now tell me what I want to know!”

“One more thing,” Dawlish said, “Have you heard anything about Dementors under the control of the Death Eaters?”

“No,” Lucius said.

Dawlish couldn’t tell if Lucius was lying.

“Now tell me!” Lucius commanded.

Dawlish walked over to Lucius and Narcissa’s cells.

“Your son is fine,” Dawlish whispered to Lucius and Narcissa; he didn’t want Greyback to hear, “He is in a safe-house under the protection of the Ministry. I don’t know where he is though. Now, I have yet to tell the other Death Eaters this information. If you two will cooperate in the future when I need it, I won’t give this information to them. Understand?”

Lucius and Narcissa nodded.

“Yell at me so that Greyback does not get suspicious,” Dawlish said.

“Get away from us!” Lucius yelled, “What do you want?”

“Is something the matter?” Selwyn’s voice said.

Dawlish turned around. Selwyn was standing in the doorway.

“Nothing, Selwyn,” Dawlish said.

“Good,” Selwyn said.

“Can I go to the loo now?” Dawlish asked.

“Hurry up,” Selwyn said, nodding to the door.

Dawlish hurried out the door and walked up to the next floor and immediately to the bathroom. He shut the door, then took the flask of Polyjuice Potion out and gulped it down immediately. He sighed and slumped down onto the toilet.

“I am not cut out for this job,” he said, “I seriously hope I didn’t tell them more than I should have. But I needed answers. And I got some. But who are these other prisoners? Where are they?”

He pondered for a moment. Could he risk asking anyone about that information? Would Selwyn know?

“Selwyn’s not high up enough in the rankings,” Dawlish said, “Who am I kidding? The only people who could possibly know are Yaxley and whoever that rookie was.”

But who was he? All of the rookies were in with Yaxley. It was no use. If Shacklebolt confronted him again, he would just have to give him the answer he wanted. Unless Yaxley was keeping another secret, there was definitely no Dementors in the control of Death Eaters.

Dawlish regained his composure and left the bathroom. He returned to the wine cellar. Nothing else really happened. Dawlish had to make another excuse for a bathroom trip nearly an hour later. At the moment, he was surprised no one had discovered his true identity. He didn’t want to think about what would happen if they did. He left nearly an hour after the last of his collection of Polyjuice Potion was used up, having to make up the excuse that the Ministry would be needing him.

Sorry the chapter was another short one. It turns out my big idea for this chapter wasn’t too big. But it definitely helps the storyline. If you have been paying attention, you may know who the other prisoners are. Where they are? I might not even know that yet!

Not sure when the next chapter will come up. More brainstorming is due!

Feedback would be great!

February 5th, 2008, 6:13 pm
Chapter 31
What Happens in Hogsmeade…

Author’s Note: Terribly sorry for the delay once again! I have been extremely busy and have only been able to find a little time to write. In this chapter, I am going to skip about 3 weeks of time in the story. I do not have enough ideas for that time slot, and I really want to get on with more of the story. So the first part of this chapter will be some short paragraphs describing what happened in the time that was skipped.

The weather in London and the rumors of Dementors were not in the Daily Prophet, under Minister Shacklebolt’s direct orders, so no one at Hogwarts knew about it for the first week of October. On the first Monday of the month, Neville received an owl from his grandmother, telling him about what was going on. Everyone around him heard his gasps of shock and was interested to know what had happened. He told everyone he could at the end of the Gryffindor Table, including Harry, and by the end of the day everyone in Hogwarts knew what was happening in London. Professors McGonagall and Browne were getting bombarded with requests to hear more about the news and to see if the rumors were true, but of course they didn’t know either. Finally, on Tuesday morning, McGonagall promised every student in the Great Hall at breakfast that she would find out what was happening and inform everyone as soon as possible.

Ever since Harry left the so-called detention with Professor Browne in the Defense against the Dark Arts classroom, he had been trying to keep Browne’s eyesight away from him, but it was hard. Whenever Harry would do his coursework in class, he could always feel Browne’s eyes glaring down at him. It became extremely hard to not look up at Browne and yell at him, and Harry feared that Browne wanted to do the same. Though there was no real reason for Browne to yell at him. First of all, Harry’s work in Defense against the Dark Arts was as well as it had ever been. Harry was trying to do his best, so he wouldn’t have to have any more detentions. Also, a couple days after the detention as well as the conversation with McGonagall, Harry had received an owl from Professor McGonagall saying that everything was well when it came to Browne and the matter of Dumbledore’s Army. It turned out that McGonagall had convinced Browne with a well-thought story that the students were in study hall and were being chaperoned by some of the Hogwarts security. McGonagall explained that she didn’t want every person in the school to know about the security for obvious reasons. The only thing that resulted from this was that Dumbledore’s Army was now replaced with study hall two times a week.

With the Gryffindor Quidditch match coming ever closer as each day passed, Ginny was nearly unbearable to be around. She kept talking about new Quidditch plays, making sure every single team member were ready for the next practice, wanting to get everyone’s opinion on what they think about the new plays, and just going on about the Quidditch scouts. The Quidditch scouts would be coming on the last Monday of the month, two days after the trip to Hogsmeade. Harry was looking forward to the Hogsmeade trip, but he didn’t want to think about what the trip would be like if Ginny was going to be talking about Quidditch. Knowing that the game against Ravenclaw would be less than a week after the trip to Hogsmeade, Ginny was sure to be talking about Quidditch. Ginny had also put together four more Quidditch practices, including one that would take place just a couple days before the game. Everyone on the team was beginning to get worn out and some were even becoming unpleasant. Ron nearly threatened Ginny after one of the practices because she had yelled at him for missing one of the Quaffles coming at him. Ron was in a bad mood, because the Quaffle in question was thrown by Ginny herself and Ron had to duck just to not be knocked out by the speed of it. Luckily, Hermione had dragged Ron away before anything serious could happen.

Harry, on the other hand was doing perfectly well during practice. By the end of the third practice of the month though, Harry decided that he was only doing well because Ginny was too busy with everyone else to even pay attention to him. He hoped that the last practice before the game would prove to be much better and it would make everyone feel a lot better when it came to playing the game. The best thing when it came to Quidditch in the past month, though, was that Harry’s broom was as perfect as it could be. There were absolutely no problems with it, and Harry didn’t mind that it was a bit slower than his old Firebolt.


Finally it was Saturday and the day of the Hogsmeade trip. Harry hoped that he could enjoy a free day of no worries about Quidditch. Though somehow he doubted it: he was going to be spending most of the day with Ginny, and since the Quidditch game was only one week away, she was sure to be talking about it all day. Ron, on the other hand, was not talking about Quidditch at all. He was more excited about the Hogsmeade trip itself. George had recently sent him a letter and said that there was a good chance Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes would be replacing Zonko’s by the time Hogsmeade weekend came around.

Neither Ginny, Ron nor Hermione were in the Gryffindor Tower when Harry walked down to the Common Room, so he decided he would go to the Great Hall alone. When he arrived at the Great Hall, he immediately spotted Ron and Hermione at the Gryffindor table, though Ginny was nowhere to be seen.

“Where is Ginny?” Harry asked, sitting down at the table.

“Haven’t seen her today,” Hermione said, shrugging.

“She is probably trying to decide on the next maneuver the Chasers should work on,” Ron said, after swallowing a mouthful of eggs.

“You need to lighten up on her when it comes to Quidditch,” Hermione said, “She just wants to win the game next Saturday. I know you want to win it, right?”

“Hermione, this must be the hundredth time we have told you,” Ron said, “You and Quidditch don’t mix, so don’t mess with it.”

“Hey!” Hermione said, offended, “I know some stuff about Quidditch! Just cause I don’t play doesn’t mean I don’t know anything about the game!”

“There is a big difference when it comes to playing the game,” Ron said, “You can know everything about the game, and still do horrible. Aren’t I right, mate?”

Harry didn’t want to answer, because he didn’t know who was actually correct. He didn’t like to be in the middle of Ron and Hermione’s fights. It usually didn’t go well. When he was about to give his best answer, he was saved by a flash of long red hair. Ginny had arrived and sat down at the table next to Harry.

“Well,” she said, “It’s confirmed.”

“George got the shop?!” Ron asked.

“What?” Ginny asked, “I don’t know. I wasn’t talking about that. I mean, I just talked to Professor McGonagall. The Quidditch scouts are definitely coming on Monday.”

“Oh of course,” Ron said, rolling his eyes, “Quidditch.”

“According to her,” Ginny said, oblivious to what Ron had said, “It seems as if the scouts will be here by breakfast on Monday, and they are going to hold a meeting right here in the Great Hall. I would appreciate it if all of the Quidditch team is here for the meeting. Okay?”

“Will it get me out of class?” Ron asked, his mood suddenly changing.

Hermione rolled her eyes.

“I guess,” Ginny said.

“Then I will be here!” Ron said.

“Good,” Ginny said, turning to Harry, “What about you?”

“Yeah, sure,” Harry said.

“Great,” Ginny said, “I need to post something on the noteboard in the Common Room. See you in a bit!”

Ginny grabbed a piece of toast and got up and hurried off.

“Be sure to come back down in a few minutes!” Harry yelled at her, “We will be going to Hogsmeade in an hour!”

Ginny gave a thumbs-up motion to Harry and disappeared out of the large oak doors of the Great Hall.

“Sometimes I think a bad day at Quidditch practice would lighten her mood,” Harry said.

“Don’t let her hear that,” Hermione said, “She might not talk to you for a while.”

“I don’t know if that would be a good thing or a bad thing,” Harry said.

Ron laughed, but Hermione looked shocked.

“Of course it would be a bad thing!” she said.

“I was joking, Hermione,” Harry said.

Though truthfully, Harry didn’t know whether he was really joking or not.

An hour later, Harry, Ginny, Ron and Hermione were sitting comfortably in one of the carriages heading for Hogsmeade. Grey clouds were coming off from miles away, and it looked as if there was a good chance of rain, but for now, it was a pretty nice day. Twenty minutes after it left, Harry’s carriage was one of the first to get to Hogsmeade. Ron was the first to jump out of the carriage.

“I think George was successful!” he cheered.

“How can you tell?” Hermione asked, “We can’t even see the shop from… oh!”

Hermione had apparently seen something, and a moment later, Harry figured out what she saw. A large wooden sign that usually had announcements of big sales now only had one sign on it (or perhaps it was because it covered the other signs): a large neon-red sign almost blinded Harry. Shielding his eyes, Harry read it: Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes! New branch now open in Hogsmeade! Grand opening sale! First come, first serve!

“I can’t wait to see it!” Ron said, and he took off running.

“Ronald, wait up!” Hermione yelled.

“Too late,” Harry said, grinning, “Let’s go.”

Harry, Ginny and Hermione walked off down the road toward where Zonko’s formerly was. Harry knew that he would probably see the store long before he got there, and he was right. As he turned a corner, there was already a bunch of kids crowded near the store trying to get in.

“Hold up, hold up! No need to push!” George’s voice came from somewhere inside the shop.

“How did Ron get in?” Hermione asked, “How are we going to get in?”

“We will have to wait,” Harry said.

“Let’s go to the Quality Quidditch supplies!” Ginny said, pointing to the building at the end of the road.

“Don’t you want to wait and talk to George?” Harry asked.

“Fine,” Ginny said, though it definitely sounded like she wasn’t happy with it.

She walked over to bench and sat down. Harry looked at Hermione, who shrugged. They both sat down with Ginny, but none of them talked. Five minutes later, Harry heard a voice.

“What are you guys doing?!” Ron asked, “Why aren’t you coming in?”

Harry looked up. Ron was standing there, already holding a large bag that looked really full.

“It’s crowded, Ronald,” Hermione said, “How are we supposed to get in.”

“Oh, it’s not too bad,” Ron said, “Come on. George will want to see you. Though I am not sure he is too happy. I guess he is overworked, though. I didn’t see anyone else helping him.”

“Really?” Harry asked, “Verity isn’t there?”

“Didn’t see her,” Ron said, “And I didn’t ask George yet. He was way too busy.”

“It doesn’t look that crowded now,” Harry said, “Come on.”

Harry and others walked into the store. George was alone at the counter, so they walked up to him.

“Hello!” George said, “I was wondering when you were going to get in here. Ron came in and you others didn’t!”

“The store was way too crowded,” Hermione said.

“Yeah,” George said, “A lot of work.”

“Don’t you have any help?” Ginny asked, “Where is Verity?”

“Are we already out of Fever Fudge?!” George said, “Wow!”

George walked over to a door and walked through it. The sign on the door said “Staff only.”

“Did he just ignore me?” Ginny asked.

“Kind of looked that way,” Harry said.

“Can’t blame him,” Ron said, “He only has one ear… ouch!”

Hermione had hit Ron on the back. George came back out with a box of Fever Fudge and walked over to the Skiving Snackboxes section. Harry and the others followed him.

“Where is Verity, George?” Ginny asked again.

“If you want to know,” George said, “We are currently not speaking to each other at the moment.”

“Why?” Hermione asked.

“I don’t think you want to know,” George said.

“Come on,” Ron said, “Tell us.”

“Verity cheated on me,” George said, “With Lee.”

“What?!” Harry, Ron, Ginny, and Hermione exclaimed.

“Shh!” George said, “I am the only one around here with one ear, remember?!”

“Sorry,” Ginny said.

“Oh, George,” Hermione said, “I am sorry.”

“How did you find out?” Harry asked.

“A reliable source told me,” George said, “I went back to Zonko’s Headquarters earlier this month to finalize the deal with them, and when I came back, there is an owl waiting on my desk in my office in Diagon Alley. I told Verity I would not need her help when I came down here to Hogsmeade, and that she should just stay in the Diagon Alley branch. Then, she goes and quits on me. I sent an owl to Lee, and, well, you know, he is a good friend of mine. He told me what happened right away. Apparently, Verity is living with Lee now.”

“So that is the end of you and Verity?” Ron asked.

“Yeah,” George said, “Without her help, I am running low on employees. I am going to put an ad out and see if I can get some help here.”

“I would help you if I wasn’t still in school,” Ron said.

“I know you would,” George said.

“If I pass my N.E.W.Ts in December,” Ron said, “Then I will help you.”

“I will take you up on that promise,” George said, with a smile, “So how is your final year of education? Are you ready to escape on a broom yet?”

“I don’t think that would be possible even if we wanted to do it,” Ginny said, “Filch probably expects it now thanks to you and Fred, may he rest in peace.”

“Oh, so you do want to escape?!” George asked, with a grin.

“I said IF we wanted to escape, George,” Ginny said, “For your information, it is a pretty good year so far. Our first Quidditch game is next Saturday. You should come!”

“Can’t make any promises,” George said, “But I might try to make it.”

“I think you will like it,” Ginny said, “Good team this year, and brilliant strategy, if I do say so myself.”

“Listen,” Harry said, “I am going to see if I want to buy anything. You stay and talk to George. I will be back.”

Ginny didn’t answer, and when Harry, Ron and Hermione walked off to the end of the aisle, she was still talking to George about the Quidditch strategy.

“How long do you think it will be before George gets bored of the Quidditch discussion?” Ron asked, grinning.

“Ten minutes, if we are lucky,” Harry said.

“You two need to be nice!” Hermione said.

“You can’t tell me you are not tired of talking to her about Quidditch?” Ron said.

Hermione didn’t reply.

“Ha!” Ron said, “So you admit it!”

“She could tone it down some, yes,” Hermione said, “But you shouldn’t talk about it behind her back. Gryffindor seems to have a good Quidditch team this year, and she is part of that result.”

“I agree with you,” Ron said, “She does need to tone it down.”

Hermione sighed and Harry walked away, sensing an argument. He walked to the Skiving Snackboxes and picked up a few different things.

“Wanting to get out of a class, Harry?” George asked, walking over to him, “Tsk, tsk! And I thought you wanted to pass your N.E.W.Ts.”

“Oh, I do,” Harry said, “I wanted to get some, you know, just in case.”

“I hear you, mate,” George said.

“Where is Ginny?” Harry asked, looking around the store, “I thought she was talking to you.”

“She ran out of the store,” George said, “Said she wanted to go to Quality Quidditch Supplies. I tell you, she may rival Oliver Wood when it comes to obsessing about Quidditch.”

“I hear you,” Harry said, grinning, “It is kind of annoying, really. Have you heard from Oliver? Is he going to be joining in the big Quidditch player’s strike?”

“I wouldn’t expect him to,” George said, “But you never know.”

“Yeah,” Harry said, walking with George to the counter, “Well, I should go and find Ginny. Sorry again about Verity.”

“Oh, it is nothing,” George said, waving a hand dismissively, “There is someone out there for all of us.”

“Yeah,” Harry said.

Harry bought his goodies and left the store. He found Ginny a couple of minutes later, walking out of Quality Quidditch supplies with a pair of new gloves and a new broom polishing kit.

“I know it might be a little too much,” Ginny said, when Harry eyed the gloves, “But they were on sale. I couldn’t pass them up. Where is Ron and Hermione?”

“Probably bickering still in your brother’s shop,” Harry said.

“Oh,” Ginny said, “Want to go to the Three Broomsticks?”

“I am sure it must be crowded,” Harry said, “Let’s go to the Hog’s Head. Would like to see how Aberforth is doing.”

Ginny agreed and she walked with Harry down to the grimy old bar. The smell of ale and goats met Harry’s nose when he and Ginny walked in.

“Potter, Miss Weasley!” Aberforth said from behind the counter, “What can I get for you?”

“Two butterbeers,” Harry said.

“First two are on the house,” Aberforth said, grabbing two bottles from under the counter.

Harry and Ginny each picked up one. Harry grimaced as he looked around. The bar was still as dirty as when he first had come in back in his fifth year. He and Ginny were the only two in the bar besides Aberforth.

“When are you going to clean this place up?” Harry asked, opening his bottle and taking a swig.

“What?!” Aberforth said, “I like it the way it is.”

“It turns the customers away,” Harry said.

“I get all the customers that I want,” Aberforth said, “I don’t need a bunch of students coming in here every Hogsmeade weekend. There was enough with all that business up at the school. I still haven’t forgiven you for that! Scared my goats away! Took a week to round ‘em all up!”

“Well, I am sorry about that,” Harry said, “But as I have told you before, it was the only way to get the students out safely.”

“They didn’t have to scare off my goats, though!” Aberforth said.

“I apologize for that,” Harry said.

“Apology accepted, I guess,” Aberforth said.

Harry smiled and took another swig of his butterbeer.

“Oh, I guess I should bring it up,” Aberforth said, “I might be closing down the bar by this time next year.”

“What?” Harry asked, nearly choking on his drink, “Why?”

“I am old, boy,” Aberforth said, “Might not be around much longer. And I am sure nobody wants this place. Ministry offered to give me a fair bit of gold to last me the rest of my life. Said they wanted to tear this place down and build something. I might accept. Thought I might move back to Godric’s Hollow with it. It would be nice to end my life where it started.”

“Is there something you’re not telling us?” Harry asked.

“No,” Aberforth said, “I am not dying of anything yet. I got no family left here. To tell you the truth, I was only here to look after my brother, and vice-versa. Now that he is gone. I got no one left. Though I would make the best of what I got.”

“I think it sounds like a good idea actually,” Harry said.

“Yeah,” Aberforth said, “Well, I am glad I got the chance to meet you. Albus always spoke highly of you.”

Harry smiled and took a last swig of his butterbeer.

“Good luck with the rest of your life, Potter,” Aberforth said.

“Same to you,” Harry said.

And they shook hands.

Well, I decided to stop it there. Wasn’t much more to put! Sorry about the long delay. Had to find time to write, and when I did, the ideas came to me. Not sure when the next chapter will be up, but I got my ideas. It will be a good chapter. I promise you!

Feedback would be great!

February 11th, 2008, 5:00 pm
Chapter 32
No Title

Author’s Note: This chapter will be in Harry’s POV. Prepare for a long chapter. I couldn’t split this up into two chapters even if I wanted to!

On Monday morning, Harry was once again alone on the trip down to the Great Hall. But this time, as he arrived at the final staircase that led into Great Hall, he found that he was not alone. A good number of students were standing in the entrance hall, talking with friends in eager voices and hushed whispers. A few Professors, including Flitwick and Sprout, could be seen trying to quietly usher the students back into the Great Hall, but only a few would listen. Harry took a quick glance in the Great Hall, where there were only a few students at the tables. Harry also noticed that neither Professor McGonagall nor Browne were sitting at the Professor’s Table. Harry walked through the crowd of students and found Ron and Hermione. They were standing near the doorway, which Harry now noticed that the two large oak doors were standing wide open.

“What is going on?” Harry asked.

“Apparently the Quidditch scouts are on their way,” Hermione said, “Ron and I...”

She looked at Ron, who was looking out at the grounds, and rolled her eyes.

“Well, I was trying to get the students back into the Great Hall,” she said, looking back at Harry, “Part of my Head Girl duties, you know. But they just won’t listen!”

“Have you seen Ginny?” Harry asked.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if she was out on the grounds wanting to get the first look,” Ron said, chortling.

“This all started when Filch came into the Great Hall,” Hermione said, “We were sitting at the table about to have breakfast, and he came in and walked up to McGonagall and Browne. They left with Filch and someone over at the Ravenclaw table suggested that the Quidditch scouts might be arriving. Then Nearly-Headless Nick came in and glided over to us, and told us that he may have seen a carriage or two coming up toward the castle. Ginny got up and hurried out of the Great Hall and almost everyone else followed.”

“Yeah,” Ron said, “But everyone else didn’t follow her out of the castle. She is the only one out there.”

“As far as you know,” Hermione said, “You didn’t see anyone else go out there.”

Before Ron could say anything, Ginny had appeared back through the doorway.

“The Quidditch scouts are here!” she announced.

“Good,” Hermione said, “Now can we please go back into the Great Hall?”

“ Oka y,” Ron said, “But only because I need something in me before the day starts.”

Ron and Hermione walked through the crowd back into the Great Hall, and a few others followed them. Harry was about to walk in when he noticed that Ginny was still looking out the door.

“Coming?” he asked her.

“I will be in there in a little bit,” Ginny said.

“Come on,” Harry said, “You will get to see them when everyone else does.”

Ginny didn’t say anything.

“I know you want to talk to them,” Harry said, “But I doubt Professor McGonagall and Browne will give you the chance right when they come into the castle.”

“You are right,” Ginny said with a sigh.

She walked toward the doors of the Great Hall, and Harry followed her. By this time, most of the students had made their way into the room, so it was much easier to get in.

Ten minutes passed by and thanks to Professors Flitwick and Sprout, the only people in the Entrance Hall were those that were making their way into the Great Hall for breakfast. At the Gryffindor table, Ginny was the only one who wasn’t eating. Harry kept catching her glance up at the open oak doors. Suddenly, Professor Flitwick and Sprout walked into the Great Hall, and a few seconds later, McGonagall walked in. She was immediately followed by a man and a woman, who Harry knew was the Quidditch scouts.

“That’s Gwenog Jones!” Ginny exclaimed, “From the Holyhead Harpies!”

“I thought I recognized her,” Hermione said, “I met her during one of Slughorn’s parties.”

“Who is the man?” Ron asked, “He is definitely not a Quidditch player. At least… not one that I know of.”

“Maybe he is part of the Ministry?” Hermione asked.

Harry raised an eyebrow.

“I don’t mean like that, Harry,” Hermione said, sighing, “I mean he may be one of the officials.”

“Yeah!” Ron said, “That could be it!”

Harry turned and looked as Gwenog and the wizard had reached the Professor’s table. Browne, who was the last to enter the hall, was now sitting in the Headmaster’s chair. Harry noticed that Slughorn had stood up and was now shaking the hand of Gwenog Jones. Gwenog then took the empty seat next to Professor Slughorn, while the other scout took a seat near Professor Flitwick.

Professor McGonagall was the only one left standing. She tapped her goblet lightly to get everyone’s attention. This was a bit unnecessary; nearly every student in the Great Hall was looking up at the Professor’s table.

“I know that you have all been waiting eagerly for this day to come,” McGonagall said, “Some more than others. I would like to introduce you to the two Quidditch Scouts who will be staying with us for the remainder of the Hogwarts Quidditch season. First, a fair few of you may know Gwenog Jones. She is Captain and Beater of the Holyhead Harpies.”

Most of the students applauded and cheered, and didn’t stop until McGonagall raised a hand.

“Next, I would like to introduce Samuel Simmons,” McGonagall continued, motioning to the gentleman near Professor Flitwick, “He is one of the highest-ranking officials of the Quidditch League and has a front-running position to be the next Head of the Department of Magical Games and Sports.”

An applause shorter and quieter than the previous rang through out the halls and stopped before McGonagall needed to raise her hand.

“In a few minutes,” McGonagall said, “Most of you will be asked to head for your classes. Those of you who are a member of one of this year’s Quidditch teams will be allowed to stay for a short meeting with Mr. Simmons and Mrs. Jones. Until then, enjoy your breakfast.”

McGonagall returned to her chair and began talking animatedly to Mr. Simmons. Harry noticed that Professor Slughorn was talking to Gwenog Jones.

“Isn’t this exciting?” Ginny asked.

“Yeah,” Harry said, returning to his meal.

At ten minutes to eight, Professor McGonagall announced that most of the students needed to be going to their classes. It took about ten minutes for the students who weren’t Quidditch players to leave the Great Hall. Hermione said goodbye to Harry, Ron and Ginny and left quickly to escape the hustle. Most of the Professors had left the hall as well. Only Professors McGonagall and Browne, along with Gwenog Jones and Samuel Simmons, remained seated at the Professor’s table.

Harry looked around at the other tables. He recognized three of the students at the Ravenclaw table, Terry Boot, Anthony Goldstein and Michael Corner. All were former members of Dumbledore’s Army. Over at the Hufflepuff table, Harry recognized Zacharias Smith and Ernie MacMillan, also former members of Dumbledore’s Army. Harry looked over at the Slytherin table and recognized no one; it was a completely new team.

“If I can have your attention,” Professor McGonagall said, “Mr. Simmons would like to speak to you.”

Mr. Simmons stood up and put his wand to his mouth and muttered a word that Harry was sure was “Sonorous”.

“Good morning,” Simmons said, his voice magnified, “As Professor McGonagall has already stated, I am Samuel Simmons, and I work in the Department of Magical Games and Sports in the Ministry of Magic. I wouldn’t be surprised if any of you know who I am. Many years ago, I sat where you are sitting now. I was actually a Ravenclaw student here at Hogwarts.”

A couple of the Ravenclaw students cheered.

“I did play Quidditch for Ravenclaw,” Simmons said, “I was one of the Chasers on the team. I could have been part of the Professional Quidditch League, but in my seventh year, I crashed my broom and suffered a leg injury. It caused me to never ride on a broom again. Thus, it ended my future as a Quidditch player. But I am still a big Quidditch fan and that is why I joined with the Ministry in the department. Now, that is enough about me. I want a show of hands… who has their heart set on becoming a player in the Professional Quidditch League after they are done here at Hogwarts?”

Ginny was the only one at the Gryffindor Table to raise her hand, but four other students in the Great Hall raised their hand as well: one at the Ravenclaw and Slytherin tables and two at the Hufflepuff table.

“Fantastic,” Simmons said, “Now, I understand that there will be a game this Saturday, Gryffindor versus Ravenclaw if I am not mistaken. I will be delighted to watch that game and see if there is indeed a future in Quidditch for some of you. Let me assure you, it doesn’t matter if you win or lose that game. I will be looking for those who can play well and do well with their team-mates!”

Simmons paused and then continued.

“As most of you have probably heard,” he said, “There is an expected strike from many of the Quidditch players. It could happen next season, or sometime in the near future. But myself, and others in the Ministry of Magic, believe that just because the players are striking, it shouldn’t keep the fans from watching the game they love. That is why Gwenog and I are here today. Across the world, at many of the wizarding institutions, Professional Quidditch players, as well as officials of the Quidditch league, are looking for new talent. There is a good chance that at least one of you in this room today could be the next player in the Professional Quidditch league!”

Many of the students, including Ginny, clapped enthusiastically.

“Now, I will let Gwenog Jones of the Holyhead Harpies speak to you,” Simmons said.

He sat down and at the same moment Gwenog stood up. She put her wand to her mouth and muttered a word.

“Good morning,” Jones said, her voice magnified, “I am sure most of you know who I am, so there is no need for introductions. As Mr. Simmons has said, many of the players in the Quidditch League, including some of the players on the Holyhead Harpies, are threatening to go on strike. As most of you know, the Holyhead Harpies are an all-female team. I saw a couple of witches raise their hands a few minutes ago. Let me assure you that I will be watching you closely. You could have a bright future with the Harpies.”

Harry noticed a slight grin form on Ginny’s face. He knew she was a big fan of the Holyhead Harpies and would probably do anything to be on that team.

“Like Mr. Simmons, I also used to be where you are today,” Jones continued, “A student longing to be on an actual Quidditch team. I was on one of my school’s Quidditch teams, but the competition wasn’t really fierce. I had attended a Quidditch World Cup game, and the competition there blew me away. I knew that was what I wanted to do in my life. So I didn’t give up hope, took a few falls, but got back up and now I am the captain of a Professional Quidditch team. That is what I will be looking for when I watch the games. I want to see fierce competition. Someone who could very well blow me away when it comes to playing. I want that. I want to be shocked. I want to feel those emotions I did when I watched that Quidditch World Cup game. I think it is possible. I think it is possible outside of the Professional Quidditch league for a game to be as good, or better, then an actual Professional Quidditch game. Keep that in mind that that is what I will be looking for when I watch all of you play. Thank you for your time.”

Every one of the students applauded and a few, including Ginny, stood up and cheered. McGonagall raised her hand to quiet everyone. Gwenog sat back down.

“I believe we are through here,” Professor McGonagall said. “I will give you permission to skip your first class of the day…”

McGonagall raised her wand, and a small slip of parchment appeared in front of each of the students. Harry picked up his and read it:

I, Professor McGonagall, Headmistress of Hogwarts, give this student permission to skip this class on this day. Thank you.

“You may all go,” McGonagall said, “Thank you.”
“That was amazing!” Ginny said, five minutes later, as she walked with Harry and Ron back to the Gryffindor Common Room to wait for the next class bell.

“Gwenog Jones seemed a bit arrogant, didn’t she?” Ron said.

“Not at all!” Ginny said, “I think she is brilliant!”

“Yes, I know you idolize her,” Ron said, rolling his eyes.

“I wonder if she will be attending our practice this Thursday,” Ginny said.

“I doubt it,” Ron said.

“She will be watching the game, though,” Harry said.

“Yeah,” Ginny said, “So I want everyone to do their best! You got it?!”

Harry and Ron reluctantly agreed.

Quidditch practice on Thursday went fairly well, in Harry’s opinion.

At the start of practice, Harry had to promise Madam Hooch that he would be able to catch the Snitch. Moments before, she was lecturing him that it would be Harry’s fault if he lost the Snitch. Although it wasn’t going to be used for the Quidditch match, because every Snitch in a Quidditch Game was always a brand-new one, it was still a perfectly good practice Snitch and Madam Hooch did not want to replace it. Harry knew that there was no need for Madam Hooch to complain, and was rather offended that Madam Hooch thought he couldn’t catch the Snitch. In the end, the reluctant Madam Hooch released the Snitch, and it took Harry only ten minutes to spot the Snitch and only a few more moments before he had it safely in his hands.

On the other end of the field, Ron was having a fair bit of trouble defending the rings against Ginny, Dean and Seamus. They had already succeeded twice at the special twenty-point play that was sure to be a success if it was kept a secret until the game on Saturday. Harry watched as Ginny flew toward the rings again with the Quaffle safely in hand. Suddenly, Harry watched as Dennis Creevey smacked a Bludger toward Ginny, and it was well-aimed. Ginny was too busy concentrating on flying toward the rings that she hadn’t yet noticed the Bludger just a few yards behind her.

“Ginny, look out!” Dean yelled, “Bludger… behind you!”

Ginny looked over her shoulder, and was so surprised that she dropped the Quaffle. She flew up into the sky, her broom in a vertical motion. She then did a loop-to-loop so that she was behind the Bludger, which immediately flew away. Seamus caught the Quaffle before it could drop to the ground and he sped toward the rings.

“Seamus, pass it!” Ginny said.

Either Seamus didn’t hear Ginny, or he ignored her, because he was still heading for the rings. Suddenly, he threw the Quaffle toward the left ring, but Ron was able to catch it seconds before it could sail through the ring.

Harry looked over at Ginny, and could tell that she was furious.

“Seamus!” Ginny yelled.

Her voice was so loud that Harry could hear it clearly. She flew over to Seamus.

“Someone’s in trouble now!” Dean said, chortling.

“Dean, shut it!” Ginny ordered.

Dean looked a bit offended.

“Seamus, have you learned anything in the past few weeks that we have been practicing?!” Ginny asked.

“Of course I have!” Seamus said, though his voice was a bit shaky.

“Then why did you not pass it like I told you to!” Ginny said, “If you passed it to Dean, it would have confused Ron and there may have been a better chance! What is going to happen in the game on Saturday, if you keep the Quaffle to yourself?”

Seamus only sputtered.

“You will either not score, or you will get the Quaffle taken from you by the opposition!” Ginny said, “Do you want that to happen?”

“All right, I get your point,” Seamus said, “I just thought I could make it.”

“Uh-huh,” Ginny said, then she raised her voice, “All right! Practice is over!”

“Already?” Harry asked, flying over to Ginny.

“I think we’ve done enough,” Ginny said.

“All right,” Harry said, shrugging.

Harry headed to the Pitch and immediately went to the boy’s locker-room. Before Harry turned the corner, he heard yelling.

“Your sister is getting a little annoying, Weasley!” Seamus said, angrily.

“She’s just focused on the match, Seamus,” Ron said, “I can’t blame her.”

Harry decided he’d better go in before it got worse.

“I have to agree with Seamus, mate,” Dean said, “She did seem a little edgy. I think Seamus could have made that play.”

“I knew where he was going,” Ron said, "There wasn't much of a chance, really."

“Maybe I am to blame for some of this,” Dennis said, in the corner of the room, “I mean, maybe she over-reacted because of my Bludger. I thought she would have seen it.”

“She has a lot on her mind,” Harry said, speaking up, “Like Ron said, she is focused on the match.”

“I think she is more focused on impressing Gwenog Jones,” Seamus said, “It is no secret that she is a big fan of the Harpies. And it is easy to tell how much she wants to get into the Quidditch League.”

“I think it is a good thing that she wants to get into the Quidditch League,” Harry said.

“Of course you do,” Seamus said, “You are her boyfriend.”

By this time, Seamus and Dean were both dressed in their school robes. Before Harry could ask Seamus what he meant by that remark, Seamus stormed out of the locker room and Dean followed him as well.

“So you don’t think I am to blame?” Dennis asked, timidly.

“No, Dennis,” Ron said, “You did really well.”

Dennis smiled gratefully.

“I am not really sure who is to blame, truthfully,” Ron said to Harry.

“Yeah,” Harry said, opening up his locker and retrieving his school robes.

“Did you see Hermione?” Ron asked, “Because I didn’t.”

“She may have stayed up in the Common Room,” Harry said, “N.E.W.Ts are less than a couple months away.”

“Yeah,” Ron said, “Well, I will see you in the Common Room.”

Ron finished getting dressed and left the locker room. As Harry got dressed, he had to agree with Ron. He didn’t know who was to blame for the incident. Ginny was getting a lot more focused than she should have been. It wasn’t like her to do that.”

“I think Ginny will calm down after our game on Saturday,” Dennis said.

“Yeah,” Harry said.

“See you later, Harry,” Dennis said, “Good practice.”

“Yeah,” Harry said again.

Dennis left the locker room. Harry hurried dressing, hoping he could get to Ginny before she walked back to Hogwarts. He walked out of the locker room a couple minutes later, and Madam Hooch informed him that he was the last one, and that he should go because Ravenclaw was about to take the field for practice.

It was finally Saturday: Halloween and the day of the Gryffindor-Ravenclaw match. The Quidditch match would start at noon, and both Quidditch teams were due at the pitch at eleven-thirty. Harry woke up at eight-o-clock after a good night’s sleep. When he looked around, he realized that he was the only one in his dormitory. He hurried into his robes and walked down the stairs into the near-empty Common Room. As he was heading for the portrait-less hole in the door, he just barely noticed Ginny sitting on the couch in front of the fire.

“Ginny?” he said, stopping in his tracks, “I thought you would be down in the Great Hall.”

“I already ate,” Ginny said, staring at the fire.

“Oh,” Harry said, “Are you all right? If you want to talk, I don’t need to go to the Great Hall yet.”

“No,” Ginny said, “I am okay. You need to get some breakfast before it disappears. You will need your strength for the game today.”

“ Oka y,” Harry said, “See you later.”

“I might come back down in a little bit,” Ginny said.

Harry nodded and walked toward the hole in the entrance. Twenty minutes later, Harry reached the Great Hall. Hagrid, Professor Flitwick, and other Professors were already setting up the decorations for the Halloween Feast that evening.

“Hey, ‘Arry!” Hagrid said, setting down a very large pumpkin near the Gryffindor table.

“Hi, Hagrid,” Harry said, “Looks like a good batch of pumpkins this year.”

“Great batch!” Hagrid said, “I have more than enough! I even gave a few ter da House Elves for their pumpkin pies.”

“Great,” Harry said.

Harry walked over to the Gryffindor Table and sat across from Ron and Hermione.

“Good morning,” Hermione said, cheerfully, “Oh, I thought Ginny would come back down with you.”

“I don’t know why she didn’t,” Harry said shrugging.

“I think Seamus might know,” Dean said, on the other side of Ron.

“What are you talking about?” Harry asked, looking from Dean to Seamus.

Seamus didn’t say anything.

“Oh, I get it,” Harry said, “You are still mad at her because of what happened at practice on Thursday.”

“I am not mad at her, Potter,” Seamus said, “Look, I want to win this Quidditch game as much as the rest of you. Yes, I did talk to Ginny. I talked to her last night before she went to bed. I told her that if she did anything to mess me up during the match today, I was going to quit the team. I guess she still has that on her mind, because when I arrived for breakfast, she immediately left.”

“Why would she mess it up, Seamus?” Harry asked.

“We both know I did perfectly well in practice,” Seamus said, “She just can’t get over the fact that I didn’t pass it because I thought I had a shot. We don’t always have to pass the Quaffle, you know.”

Seamus dropped his fork with a clatter and got up from his seat and left in a hurry. Harry didn’t look at anyone in particular and when he looked at his empty plate, he had second thoughts of eating anything. But he knew he had to eat something, so he filled his plate with biscuits and gravy.

If Ginny was hoping for team unity, it most definitely wasn’t happening before the match. When Harry, Ginny, Ron and the two Beaters arrived, Dean and Seamus were nowhere to be found. They finally arrived when Ginny was about to give her very first pep talk to liven up the team. Instead of listening to what Ginny had to say, Dean and Seamus remained in the boy’s locker room during her whole speech.

“I know things have been a little shaky this past month,” Ginny said, “Please know that I only assigned as many practices as I did because I wanted to know that all of you would be ready for this game. I think I succeeded. I think we have a great team this year, no matter what anyone says. From what I have seen, Ravenclaw looks like a pretty good team this year. But I know we are better. If we win today, that will put us in first place, and it gives us a big leap for the championship. This may be our easiest match of the year, and that isn’t really saying much because Ravenclaw is going to give us there best. So we have to give our best as well. Right?”

“Right!” Dennis said, before anyone else.

“Right,” Harry and Ron both said.

“Let’s get out there then!” Ginny said.

By the time, Harry, Ginny and the others went out to the field, Dean and Seamus had caught up with them. The students and Professors were making their way into the seats surrounding the Pitch.

“Looks like Luna is doing the commentary again,” Ron chortled, nodding up to the Professor’s seats.

Harry looked up. Sure enough, Luna was sitting in the commentator’s spot near Professor McGonagall. Harry also spotted Mr. Simmons and Gwenog Jones sitting on the other side of Professor McGonagall.

The crowd started cheering, and Harry could barely hear Luna’s voice as she called out the Ravenclaw team member names. All he heard was “Corner”, and knew that Michael Corner was going to be the Seeker.

“And the Gryffindor Team!” Luna announced.

“Everyone on your brooms,” Ginny ordered, “Up in the sky!”

“Finnegan, Thomas, Pickler, Creevey,” Luna continued, “Weasley, Weasley, and Potter!”

As each name was called, that person rose into the sky on their broom and circled the Pitch.

“This is Ginny Weasley’s debut as Captain of the Gryffindor team,” Luna said, “She is a real good friend of mine, and I think she will do very well! What, Professor? Oh yes! As all of you know, Mr. Samuel Simmons and Miss Gwenog Jones are here to watch the players today. Let’s give them a nice welcome!”

The crowd cheered and applauded and Harry watched as Madam Hooch made her way onto the field. She opened the box of Quidditch balls and soon the Snitch was released. Harry tried to follow the small golden ball but lost it when it headed for the rings on the other end of the field.

“Captains!” Hooch said, “Shake hands!”

Seeker Michael Corner was also the Captain, and Harry watched closely as Corner and Ginny met. Harry wondered if Ginny and Corner’s past would come to haunt them, but the handshake was as normal as ever. The two players backed away and Madam Hooch released the two Bludgers. Out of the corner of his eye, Harry saw Dennis watch the Bludger as it flew near the rings where Ron was guarding.

“On my whistle!” Hooch said, “Three, two...”

A high whistle sound rang and Madam Hooch threw the Quaffle into the air. Ginny snatched it out of the air quickly and escaped the other Chasers and started her journey to the other end of the field. Harry looked up and saw Michael Corner staying in the same spot where he started. He hadn’t seen the Snitch either.

“Gryffindor Captain Ginny Weasley is closing in on the rings!” Luna said, “Will she pass the Quaffle to one of her teammates? I think she will! She gets even closer to the rings!”

“Ginny, pass it!” Harry said, though he knew perfectly well nobody could hear him.

“Fellow Chaser, and really good friend of mine, Dean Thomas is coming up behind Ginny,” Luna continued, “As well as a Ravenclaw Chaser! Pass it Ginny before he gets it! Oh! Never mind, he got whacked by a Bludger. Free air space again for the Gryffindor Captain as she gets closer. Is she going to pass it? I think she is! Yes, she… no! It’s a fake pass! But that scoring attempt is real! The Quaffle goes… it goes… the Ravenclaw Keeper misses it by inches and Gryffindor scores! An early ten-point lead for Gryffindor!”

The crowd cheered and applauded. Harry looked around for the Snitch, but couldn’t see it. He saw Ginny gave some kind of order to Dean, and Dean stayed back while Ginny headed for the opposite side of the field.

“Dean Thomas is all alone as Ravenclaw takes possession!” Luna said, “Is this some sort of genius plan for Gryffindor? We will see. It looks like Anthony Goldstein has taken the Quaffle for Ravenclaw.”

Harry watched as Goldstein flew as quick as he could down the Pitch. Dean came soaring up behind him, but had to retreat because of a well-aimed Bludger. Harry looked for Ginny and found her near Seamus. For a moment, he thought they were arguing again, but it seemed as if they were forming a plan. Seconds later, Ginny and Seamus both took off toward Anthony Goldstein. As Ginny got closer, Anthony passed it toward a fellow Chaser, but that Chaser had to swerve to not get pummeled by a Bludger.

“Nice aim and hit by Gryffindor Beater Dennis Creevey!” Luna said, “And Ginny takes the Quaffle back!”

A loud cheer erupted from the Gryffindor stands. Harry couldn’t hear what Ginny was saying, but he saw her raise two fingers in the air. Harry thought he knew what this could mean. Dean and Seamus went to each side of Ginny, and they flew down the field in formation.

“Looks like Gryffindor Chasers are up to something!” Luna said, “But they better watch out because… oh! Nice hit from a Bludger on Terry Boot and Boot goes flying away. He could have a big headache! And the Gryffindor Chasers continue their journey! They are near the rings! What is Seamus Finnegan doing?!”

Harry watched as Seamus flew behind the rings. The Keeper looked very confused, and this was the perfect moment.

“Ginny passes it to Dean,” Luna said, “Who passed it back to Ginny, what is going on?! Ginny passes it back to – no! She attempts to score again! The Quaffle goes toward the right ring! And it sails through… Gryffindor scores! Wait, what is this?! Seamus Finnegan has the ball! No, he passes it to Dean who throws it toward left ring! The Keeper is confused! And the Quaffle sails through! Is that twenty points, Madam Hooch?”

Harry saw Madam Hooch put two fingers up. The crowd cheered and applauded!

“It is!” Luna yelled, “Twenty points in one play! I have never seen that before, and by the look on Gwenog Jones’ face, neither has she!”

Harry looked around and thought he might have seen a gleam of gold, and flew toward it. A few seconds later, though, Harry stopped. All he had seen was the glint of someone’s glasses.

“You can’t find the Snitch either?” a voice said.

Harry turned around. Michael Corner was behind Harry.

“If I could, would I tell you?” Harry asked.

Michael rolled his eyes and flew off.

“Where is that thing?!” Harry said to himself.

Thirty minutes passed and the game was getting faster by the minute. Neither Harry nor Michael Corner still could not find the Snitch. Gryffindor had scored quite a few more points. They were leading Ravenclaw one-hundred and forty to thirty. Ron was doing pretty well, having caught four of the seven scoring attempts on his rings. Ginny was in possession of the Quaffle again.

“Ginny passes it to Seamus, who passes it to Dean,” Luna said, “I wonder if Ravenclaw Chasers are getting confused, because I sure am! Oh! Poorly hit Bludger! The Ravenclaw Beater tries to make up for her team-mates’ mistake but misses the Bludger… and it nearly hits the Keeper, and he goes off in a tailspin! What a strange turn of events! This gives the Gryffindor Chasers open rings, and Dean Thomas makes the most of it… and it sails through the middle ring without any trouble! Gryffindor is up one-hundred and fifty to thirty!”

Ten more minutes passed of intercepting and superb goal-tending and near-misses by the Bludgers. Ginny signaled for another two-pointer, and just a couple minutes later…

“Another twenty-point play!” Luna said, “Gryffindor is up one-hundred and fifty to th – oh my, was that the Snitch!”

Harry looked toward the commentary booth. Sure enough, the Snitch was lingering feet in front of it. Harry took off toward it.

“Harry, watch out!” Dennis yelled.

Harry looked up. A Bludger was coming full-speed toward him. Harry did a quick dive and the Bludger soared past his head.

“Got it!” Dennis yelled.

Harry heard a smack and knew the Bludger was far away now, but he couldn’t look behind him. He had to get to that Snitch. Out of the corner of his eye, Harry saw Michael come from the right of him. The Snitch went higher in the sky and both Harry and Michael soared higher into the air. Suddenly, before Harry could do anything, his broom stopped rising into the air and dropped into a vertical dive.

“No!” Harry said.

Harry tried to move the broom up with all his might, but it kept diving toward the ground. He felt the wind whip around his face. Harry attempted to pull the broom up again…

“Yes!” Harry said.

The broom rose into a horizontal motion. Harry looked around for the Snitch, and gasped when he saw its location. It was now resting in Michael Corner’s hand.

“Michael Corner caught the Snitch!” Luna announced, “Ravenclaw wins! One-hundred and eighty to one-hundred and seventy! What a finish!”

Harry sighed looked around for Ginny. He found her, and his heart sunk. She had the most disappointed look on her face, as she headed for the ground. Harry headed for the ground as well, but Ginny landed a couple minutes before he could, and she was in the girl’s locker room before he could say anything. Harry looked at his broom. It had failed him once again.

Wow! That was a long Quidditch-packed Chapter! I hope you liked it. I have ideas for my next chapter, but I assure you, it will be a LOT shorter than this one.

Feedback would be great!

February 20th, 2008, 4:14 pm
Chapter 33
Loser’s Lurgy

Author’s Note: This chapter will be switching back and forth between Harry’s and Ginny’s PoVs.

(Harry’s POV)

By the time Harry left the boy’s locker room, Ginny, as well as the rest of the Gryffindor team, and most of the students, had gone back to the castle.

As Harry walked up to the castle, Harry could picture the scene in the Ravenclaw tower quite clearly. He could see the Common Room, owing to the fact that he had been there recently. Michael Corner would be hoisted up on the shoulders of at least two of his fellow Ravenclaws, and every Ravenclaw in the vicinity would be cheering Corner’s name. Harry knew this quite well, because there were countless times when he would have been in the middle of the same thing, but most of the time he liked peace and quiet after a rough game. Harry wasn’t sure whether Michael Corner would want to do the same thing.

Harry stopped halfway between the Pitch and Hogwarts castle. He had not seen nor heard anything out of the ordinary that would have caused him to stop. He didn’t know whether he wanted to walk into the castle. He was the reason Gryffindor had lost the Quidditch game. Gryffindor was up by one-hundred and forty points and was looking to be the sure-winner of the game.

"It’s not your fault," a voice in Harry’s mind said, "It was your broom."

Harry sighed and looked at his broomstick. He tried to fight back the urge of breaking the broomstick over his knee and destroying the cursed thing.

"It can’t be cursed," Harry said, "Professor McGonagall had said that the broom had been fixed. I would have known if the broom was cursed!"

Harry looked at the broom. Would he have really known if the broom was cursed again? And if so, who would want to curse the broom? Professor Browne didn’t seem like the right candidate. Harry had been through this argument with himself once already. Browne couldn’t have gotten into the Gryffindor Common Room. There was no possible way.

Harry continued walking toward the castle. As he walked, the voice in his mind told him that he needed to talk to Ginny. He wanted to talk to her. He didn’t know what he wanted to say, but the last time he had seen her, she looked so disappointed. Almost to the point that she could be angry with him. He didn’t want to think of what could happen if she continued to be angry with him. He had to talk to her.

Harry hurried his pace toward the castle, and what would usually take about thirty minutes to get from there to the Gryffindor Common Room took nearly half that time. He arrived at the Common Room and entered. Harry was surprised to see how many people were in the Gryffindor Common Room. As he looked for any sign of Ginny, Harry noticed that almost no one was looking up at him. Were they disappointed with him? Or was it something else?

"Harry!" a voice called, "Over here! Where have you been? We saved you a spot!"

Harry looked for the owner of the voice and found Ron and Hermione sitting on the couch in front of the fireplace.

"I am looking for Ginny," Harry said, as he walked over to the couch.

"She hasn’t returned," Hermione said.

"We think she may be trying to drown herself in the shower," Ron said.

As Harry sat down next to Ron, he had another glimpse at the students around the room.

"They think I am to blame for Gryffindor losing the game," Harry said, "Don’t they?"

"Harry, don’t say that," Hermione said.

"No, Hermione," Harry said, "Maybe they are right. Maybe I am the one to blame. I didn’t catch the Snitch! I am the reason we lost."

"If it makes you feel any better," Ron said, "We only lost by ten points."

Harry didn’t say anything.

"I know what you are thinking, Harry," Hermione said, "I saw what your broom did. Every one saw what that broom did."

"Believe me, Hermione," Harry said, "I want to say that my broom wasn’t cursed, but I don’t know if I can. Every time I try to think of something, it always comes back to the fact that my broom is cursed again."

"Harry, you really need to listen before you speak sometimes," Hermione said, "I do not think your broom is cursed."

Harry was about to say something, but Hermione continued quickly.

"There is a good explanation for what your broom did," she said, "After Professor McGonagall confirmed the first time that your broom was cursed, I did some reading up on the current Quidditch brooms."

"You read something that has to do with Quidditch?!" Ron said, in mock amazement.

"Your broom is not cursed this time, Harry," Hermione said, ignoring Ron, "You see, like every broom, the Comet 720 has a flaw. And unfortunately, the flaw reared its ugly head at a very bad time."

"Get on with it, Hermione!" Ron said.

"Okay," Hermione said, "When you were chasing the Snitch, it went higher in the air, correct?"

"Yeah," Harry said.

"Well, obviously you had to go higher as well to chase it," Hermione said, "Unfortunately, the Comet 720 has a height limit. But only when it is at a vertical motion."

"What does that mean?" Ron asked.

"If Harry had stayed at a horizontal motion while chasing the Snitch," Hermione said, "I don’t think it would have taken a nose-dive. If you think about it, it really isn’t a flaw at all. It is a safety measure. At a vertical motion, the player can slip off the broom much easier."

"Well, that is dumb!" Ron said, "Harry could have been killed if he hadn’t saved himself at the last minute."

"That is why I hate flying on brooms," Hermione said, "You can never completely trust them."

"So my broom wasn’t cursed?" Harry asked.

"Not today," Hermione said, "And it wasn’t your fault that Gryffindor lost the game either."

"I hope Ginny understands that," Harry said.

Suddenly, Harry heard light footsteps and looked over his shoulder; Ginny had entered the Common Room. Before Harry could even say a word or stand up, however, Ginny had walked over to the stairwell and had disappeared up into the staircase that led to the girls’ dormitories. At that moment, Harry then noticed that more people were looking at him. Harry turned around in a haste and stared quietly at the fireplace. Oh, how he wished he had Floo Powder handy. He would do anything to be somewhere far from the Common Room and the halls of Hogwarts castle.

"Harry," Hermione said.

"She didn’t even look at me, Hermione," Harry said.

"What if I can get you that alone time you need with Ginny?" Hermione asked.

Ron looked as if he was going to say something, but Hermione raised a hand to stop him.

"What do you mean?" Harry asked.

"You know I could allow you to get up those stairs," Hermione said, "We’ve done it before."

"No, I can’t ask you to do that," Harry said.

"I want to do it, Harry," Hermione said, "We both know why Ginny is acting like this. You are not to blame for Gryffindor losing the game, and I think you need to let her know that. Otherwise, I sense that only bad things could come from this."

"As good as that idea sounds, Hermione," Harry said, "I don’t think I could get away with it. There are way too many people here."

"Nonsense," Hermione said, waving a hand dismissively, and standing up, "Come on."

Harry looked at Ron, but it didn’t help much. At that point, it looked like Ron didn’t know how he should answer. Harry sighed and decided to give in. Hermione was right after all. This might be the one chance he would get to talk to Ginny. Harry stood up and walked over to the staircase with Hermione and Ron. Hermione took out her wand and pointed it to the staircase.

"Finite!" Hermione said.

"It can’t be that easy!" Ron said, "If it was, then I could have done that years ago."

"It is a special charm, Ron," Hermione said, "Only Head Students and Professors can un-jinx the stairs. It says so in ‘Hogwarts, a History’. You would know that if you would read the book."

"So can I go up?" Harry asked, stopping a possible argument.

"Yeah, go ahead," Hermione said.

Harry walked up the stairs cautiously, then sped up when he knew that it was safe. He reached a door near the top of the staircase. Harry saw Ginny’s name on a sign near the top of the door. He knocked on the door. A few moments later, it opened.

"Ginny, I need to talk – oh, hi Lavender," Harry said, noticing that Lavender was the one standing at the door, "Can I talk to Ginny?"

"She doesn’t want to talk to anyone," Lavender said, "How did you get up here, anyway?"

"Hermione un-jinxed the stairs for a bit," Harry said.

"I should have known," Lavender said.

"What is that supposed to mean?" Harry asked, "Never mind, can I please talk to Ginny?"

"Did you lose your hearing during that Quidditch game, Potter?" Lavender said, "I said she does not want to talk to anyone."

"Just for a bit," Harry pleaded.

"No!" Lavender said.

"Fine!" Harry said, "Please tell her that it was not my fault we lost the game."

"Okay," Lavender said, closing the door.

Harry sighed. He nearly kicked the door, but in mid-kick, he thought better and stopped. Cursing silently, he walked back down the stairs.

(Ginny’s PoV)

From her four-poster bed, Ginny could hear the dormitory door close. She was lying on her bed, facing the wall. She heard a creaking sound and knew that Lavender had returned to her bed.

"Thank you, Lavender," Ginny said.

"You’re welcome," Lavender said, "Though next time, I think you should answer the door. I think Harry was about to curse me. Anyway, he asked me to tell you –"

"I heard what he said," Ginny said, turning around to face Lavender, "Thank you… and thank you for being up here with me."

"To tell you the truth," Lavender said, "I am actually trying to avoid Seamus. He was pretty mad before the Quidditch game even started, and I think losing the game made it worse."

"I think I’m the one to blame for that," Ginny said.

"What?" Lavender asked.

"I yelled at him during practice on Thursday," Ginny said, "And then last night, he threatened to quit the team. I thought he might have been feeling better today, but now I don’t know."

Tears welled in Ginny’s eyes.

"I just wanted to be a good Captain, Lavender," she said, "I want to impress the scouts so badly and now I think that might be ruined."

"Rubbish," Lavender said, "You were great. Gwenog Jones was really impressed today. Besides, Gryffindor only lost by ten points. It can’t be that bad."

"I know you are trying to cheer me up," Ginny said, "But I just can’t help but think that this loss ruined my chances. If Harry caught that Snitch, we would have won by over three-hundred points."

"Harry says it wasn’t his fault," Lavender said.

"Do you believe him?" Ginny asked.

"It doesn’t matter what I think," Lavender said, "What do you think?"

"I don’t know what to think right now," Ginny said.

"Are you going down to the Great Hall later for the Halloween feast?" Lavender asked.

"I don’t know," Ginny said, "I know I should, because it will be my last Halloween feast at Hogwarts. But I want to avoid Harry today. I just don’t feel like talking to him right now."

"What if I told you there was a way you could go without having to face Harry?" Lavender said, grinning.

Ginny was about to ask Lavender what she meant, but was interrupted by a sound.

"Go away!" Ginny said, "No visitors!"

"Ginny, that wasn’t a knock on the door," Lavender said.

Ginny looked up at Lavender, who nodded toward the window. Ginny looked up. An owl was perched outside on the windowsill. Ginny got up slowly and opened the window. The owl flew in.

"Well, it isn’t from Harry," Lavender said.

"Unless he didn’t use Hedwig," Ginny said, as the owl landed on the bedside table.

Ginny untied the letter from the owl’s leg, and opened the letter.

Miss Ginny Weasley,

You are invited to attend a special meeting in my office Monday night at seven-thirty. Please send owl back with reply if you can make it.

Hope you have a wonderful Halloween,
Minerva McGonagall

"Who is it from?" Lavender asked.

"Professor McGonagall," Ginny said, "She wants me to attend a special meeting in her office on Monday night. Should I accept?"

"Only you can make that decision," Lavender said.

"I guess it can’t hurt," Ginny said, taking a quill from the bedside table.

She wrote down the words "Yes, I can make it" at the bottom of the letter and reattached the letter to the owl’s foot.

"Please go back to Professor McGonagall," Ginny instructed the owl.

The owl hooted and flew off.

"You still haven’t given me an answer," Lavender said.

"Hmm?" Ginny said, shutting the window.

"I believe there is a simple way you can go down to the Halloween Feast and not have to face Harry," Lavender said.

"I am all ears," Ginny said, grinning.

(Harry’s PoV)

Down in the Gryffindor Common Room, Hermione and Ron tried unsuccessfully to cheer up Harry many times, but after an hour, Hermione realized she was defeated. She and Ron then left to do their Head Boy and Girl duties, leaving Harry sitting by the fire.

”Any minute,” Harry kept telling himself, “Any minute, Ginny will come down and I can talk to her then.”

”Talking to yourself again, Harry?” Seamus said.

Harry didn’t say a word, so Seamus sat down beside him on the couch.

”Look, I know what your problem is,” Seamus said.

”I don’t think you do,” Harry said.

Harry got up from the couch.

”You think your girlfriend is mad at you because Gryffindor lost the game,” Seamus said, “Right?”

Harry didn’t answer.

”Well if it makes you feel better,” Seamus said, “Lavender is up there too.”

”I know that,” Harry said, turning around, “She was the one who told me Ginny didn’t want to talk to me.”

”Oh… wait you went up those stairs?” Seamus asked, “How?!”

”Hermione let me,” Harry said, “And before you ask, no, she will not let you go up there. I had a good reason.”

”I have a good reason,” Seamus said.

”I bet,” Harry said, rolling his eyes, “You do remember that I have seen you and Lavender snogging whenever you get the chance. I don’t want to see it, believe me. You do need to find better private places.”

”That is what I am talking about!” Seamus said.

”Uh-huh,” Harry said, “That is the main reason that jinx was placed on the stairs. Now, if you excuse me, I am going to do some homework. At the moment there isn’t anything better to do.”

Harry walked up the stairs toward his dormitory. He had no actual intention of doing his homework yet, but after about ten minutes of staring at the ceiling of his four-poster bed, that homework looked better and better.

”You do need to do your homework,” the voice in the mirror said, when Harry looked at one of his schoolbooks that was resting on his trunk, “Otherwise you won’t pass those N.E.W.Ts. in December.”

”Oh, I know you would like to see me for a few more months,” Harry said, rolling his eyes.

The mirror went silent. But Harry knew the mirror was right. He wasn’t that focused on the N.E.W.T exams, and if he wanted to pass them in December, he better start doing some major studying.

Harry had gotten so caught up in his homework, that he almost forgot to check on the time. When he finally got the chance to look down at his watch, he nearly hit his head on the four-poster bed when he leaped. It was six-thirty. He had been doing homework for hours now! The Halloween Feast would be starting in thirty minutes.

”There is no way Ginny will miss this feast!” Harry said, grinning as he stood up. “I can try to talk to her then!”

Harry leaped up from the bed, and straightened his school robes. He attempted to straighten his hair, but after a moment, he decided there was no point. He hurried out of the dorm and down the stairs.

”Where have you been?” Hermione asked, as soon as Harry reached the Common Room.

”Doing homework,” Harry said, “There was nothing else to do. Have you seen Ginny?”

”No,” Hermione said.

”Let’s go down to the Great Hall,” Ron said, “Ginny will come down. She won’t want to miss the feast.”

”Yeah,” Harry said.

He, Hermione and Ron walked out of the Common Room and began the twenty minute journey to the Great Hall. Harry kept looking back to see if he could see Ginny. He almost walked through Nearly-Headless Nick when he reached the Entrance Hall.

”Oh, Nick,” Harry said, turning just in time to see him, “Sorry!”

”Not a problem,” Nick said, “I wasn’t looking where I was going myself. I was trying to find Sir Podmore.”

”Are you still trying to get into the headless hunt?” Ron asked, rolling his eyes.

“Yes I am,” Nick said.

”And how many times have you failed?” Ron asked.

”Well, let’s see,” Nick said, “This will be – oh, now wait one moment! I know what you are trying to say! You do not think I will get into the Hunt, do you?”

”No” Ron said.

”Well, I do!” a voice said.

Harry turned around. A fancy-dressed ghost was sitting bare-back on top of a see-through horse.

”Sir Podmore!” Nick asked, “You really think so?”

”Yes,” Sir Podmore said simply, “You can be our referee! Haha! Talley-ho!”

Sir Podmore rode into the Great Hall, and Harry could hear him laughing.

”Did you hear that?” Nick said, “Referee!”

”Nick,” Ron said, “I think he was joking… ouch!”

”Nick, that is wonderful!” Hermione said, with a narrow-eyed look toward Ron.

”Yes, it is!” Nick said.

Nick turned around and glided into the Great Hall. Harry could hear him sobbing happily.

”Ron, you need to be nice!” Hermione said.

”But Sir Podmore was joking,” Ron said.

”I know!” Hermione said, “But you didn’t have to say – oh! Men!”

Hermione stormed off into the Great Hall.

”He was joking,” Ron said to Harry.

”I guess,” Harry said.

Harry followed Ron into the Great Hall.

(Ginny’s POV)

”Lavender, I don’t know why I agreed to this!” Ginny said, “I look ridiculous.”

”You do not!” Lavender said, “Blonde looks very good on you!”

Ginny and Lavender were standing at the top of the last staircase that led to the Entrance Hall. Ginny was looking out a window and could see her reflection.

”You just can’t see it perfectly,” Lavender said, “Because the window makes the reflection bad. Here…”

Lavender muttered a word and a small mirror appeared in her hand.

”Since when did you get so good at magic?” Ginny asked. “First transfiguration, now summoning!”

”I have my secrets,” Lavender said, grinning, “Now, look.”

Ginny sighed and looked into the mirror. Her red hair that was usually up in a ponytail was now blonde and reached near the middle of her back. Ginny noticed that one eye was now green and the other blue. She also felt a little taller, but that was because she was wearing heels.

”You don’t have one thing to worry about!” Lavender said.

”I must be a little underdressed!” a voice said, at the bottom of the stairs. “Didn’t know we had to wear costumes to the feast!”

Ginny cringed. She recognized that voice. She looked down the stairs. George was walking up toward her.

”You recognized me?” Ginny asked him.

”It wasn’t too hard,” George said, “I had to imagine you with red hair though. You do make a better red head!”

”Great,” Ginny said, “Just great. What are you doing here anyway?”

”I watched the Quidditch game today,” George said, “It was a great game, other than, you know, the fact that –“

”We lost,” Ginny said, “Yes, I know.”

”I would have talked to you,” George said, “But you stormed off. Was there someone you didn’t want to talk to?”

”If you want to know,” Ginny said, “I am trying to avoid Harry. I am a little angry at him.”

”Because he didn’t catch the Snitch?” George asked, “That is no reason to be mad at him. It was a great game.”

”George, please,” Ginny said, “Tell me the truth. Do you think Harry would recognize me?”

”I don’t know,” George said, “It might be risky if you actually want to avoid him.”

”I do,” Ginny said, “I know I shouldn’t. I want to talk to him, but not right now. It would ruin the feast.”

”Who did this to you?” George asked.

”Lavender,” Ginny said, nodding to Lavender.

”It is good, Lavender,” George said, “But not good enough…”

Lavender didn’t say anything.

”I do have an idea, though,” George said. “It is a new thing I am going to introduce in a few months. The Ministry of Magic really wants it. It is a prototype, so…”

”Get on with it,” Ginny said sighing, “What is it?”

George grinned and took something out of his pocket. It looked like a necklace, but there was a small silver vial-shaped piece of metal at the end of it.

”I call it a Polyjuice Pendant,” he said, “You put it on, and you turn into someone.”

”You turn into whom?” Ginny asked.

”Anyone,” George said, “I think. Not sure yet. Right now it turns into this young Muggle girl that was sitting near me at an outdoor restaurant the day I thought of this thing. I don’t know why.”

”Were you thinking of the girl?” Lavender asked, rolling her eyes.

”No!” George said, quickly, “Apparently she was around fifteen, though. The only downside is when I try this thing, I take on her appearance. Not really cool if you ask me. But you see… I need you to be the guinea pig in this experiment.”

”How long does it last?” Ginny asked.

George muttered something and Ginny couldn’t hear him.

”What?” she asked.

”I don’t really know,” George said.

”You don’t know!” Ginny asked.

”No,” George said, “I tried it a couple of times. Once, it did it for an hour. So I thought it would be like a Polyjuice Potion. But the next, it did it for thirty minutes.”

”I don’t know if I want to try it,” Ginny said, “I want to be at the feast longer than an hour.”

”Come on!” George said.

Ginny sighed and looked at her reflection in the window. True, she didn’t know how long Lavender’s magic would work on her either.

”Fine,” she said, with a sigh.

”Great,” George said, handing Ginny the pendant. “Put it on quickly. No one can see you.”

Ginny sighed and put the pendant on around her neck. Suddenly, all she could see was a lot of purple smoke.

”W-what is g-going on?!” Lavender said, coughing.

”Do-don’t worry,” George said, coughing, “I forgot… this always happens! Evanesco!”

The purple smoke cleared away.

”Whoa!” Lavender said.

”What happened!” Ginny said, “I feel a little shorter…”

She looked at George. He was taller than usual.

”I am a little shorter!” Ginny said, “George!”

”Nah, you were always this short,” George said.

”I would know if I was shorter or not!” Ginny said, angrily.

”Relax,” George said, taking the mirror from Lavender, “Look. It worked.”

Ginny looked into the mirror. She definitely looked different. Her eyes were now both blue, and her hair was jet-black and was down past her shoulders.

”I am still in my robes,” Ginny said.

”Good,” George said, “I was worried.”

”Excuse me,” Ginny said.

”Well, the second time, I did it,” George said, “When the smoke cleared up… let’s just say I was lucky there was no one else in the room.”

”That is not funny!” Ginny said.

”I wasn’t kidding,” George said, “But relax. You are okay.”

Suddenly, eerie music came from the Great Hall.

”Looks like the feast is starting,” Lavender said, “I think we better get down there.”

”Yeah, Professor McGonagall said I could sit at the Professor’s table as a guest,” George said, “She might wonder where I am. Oh! Ginny, almost forgot. If you feel bubbles in your stomach, you need to get out of the Great Hall. Fair warning… see ya!”

”What will happen?!” Ginny said.

George walked into the Great Hall.

”Oi!” Ginny yelled.

Ginny and Lavender hurried down the stairs and into the Great Hall. George was already near the Professor’s table.

”Git,” Ginny said, “How am I supposed to know what will happen? Where are we sitting?”

”We could sit with Dennis Creevey,” Lavender suggested, nodding toward the center of the table, “Isn’t he one of your team-mates.”

”He wouldn’t recognize me, remember,” Ginny said, “No one will recognize me. Lavender, what am I going to do?”

”I think you better get to your seats,” Filch grunted, before Lavender could say anything.

”Come with me,” Lavender said, “I will just say you are my study buddy or something.”

Ginny was about to ask where they would sit, but she had the feeling she knew where. Sure enough, a moment later, Lavender had sat down to the right of Parvati Patil. Muttering, Ginny sat down on the right side of her.

”I hope you don’t mind,” Lavender said to everyone “This is my study buddy. She didn’t want to sit with her year. She is a new kid, and is worried something will happen tonight. Apparently, she heard about the troll.”

”That was years ago,” Harry said, “Nothing to worry about. So what is your name?”

”Gin… ger,” Ginny said, quickly.

”Nice to meet you, Ginger,” Neville said, “Harry is right. Nothing has happened at Halloween in a while.”

”Of course, you have to watch out for the bats,” Ron said, chortling.

Ginny grinned. This might actually work, she thought.

She was right. No one got suspicious at the fact that Lavender had a study buddy that no one knew about. Thirty minutes into the feast, Ginny did notice that Harry kept looking at the oak doors.

”She’s not coming down,” Harry said, “I was so sure that she would.”

”Who?” Lavender asked.

”Ginny,” Harry said to Lavender, “Hey, wait a moment. You were talking to her. What did she say?”

”Not much,” Lavender lied, “She was asleep when I left.”

Ginny heard Harry sigh. He went silent, and Ginny felt a little bad. In fact, it made her stomach hurt… Ginny gasped, remembering what George said.

”Ginger?” Lavender asked, “Is something wrong?”

”I will be right back,” Ginny said.

”Well, hurry back,” Neville said, “You never know what could happen at the feast.”

Ginny stood up and ran out of the Great Hall. She thought she was free, but suddenly, purple smoke surrounded her.

”Oh no!” she said, coughing.

”What is going on?” a voice said.

”What happened?” another voice said, “Wasn’t that Ginger girl out here?”

Ginny recognized the second voice: It was Harry’s. If she could just get up the stairs. She ran toward the stairs.

”Evanesco!” Hermione’s voice said.

Too late. Ginny hadn’t made it all the way up the first staircase.

”Ginny?” Harry said, “Is that you? Wait up!”

”Just leave me alone!” Ginny said, feeling tears coming to her eyes.

Ginny hurried as fast as she could up the stairs, but no one followed her.
All right! Thought I should end it there. This was going to be a very short chapter… I was just going to have the first couple of parts and the Ginny-Lavender conversation would be different, and the letter would be the last part. But I wanted to make this chapter a bit funny, but keep it in storyline. It turned out a lot longer than I intended.

Hope you liked it!

March 13th, 2008, 6:21 pm
Chapter 34
The Bug

Author’s Note: Sorry for the long delay. Writer’s block combined with me just being really busy has really delayed my writing. I do want to finish this story, and I am not even half done with it! Almost half-done, but not yet! A little note about last chapter: Ginny mentioned Hedwig in the sense that the owl was alive. That was my little mistake. I keep forgetting the little things. And yes, when it comes to writing and remembering the details, that is definitely a little detail that is easy to miss! Unfortunately, the cursed Writer’s Block has kept me from having enough ideas to go with the chapter I wanted to write, so I will have to skip it and do a small summary later. Anyway, this chapter will be in Draco’s POV.

The cold, dreary weather that affected most of England had yet to reach the secluded spot where Draco Malfoy was staying. While there was the occasional day where the sky would be covered in grey clouds and rain would pour from them, there were also those days where the sun shined bright and warm. Unfortunately, Draco could not enjoy these warm days outside. He was still locked up in the same boring, isolated house that he had been in for countless days.

Draco had stopped marking off the days on the calendar, realizing that it was pointless and it would just remind him of how long he had been there. Oh it was true: Draco was not always alone. Once or twice a week, an Auror would stop by with groceries. If Draco was lucky, the Auror would also have news or a moment’s time to stay and chat. However, the one Auror Draco wanted to see, an Auror by the name of John Dawlish, had not come back since his first visit. Draco asked where Dawlish was, but none of the Aurors could tell him. Draco wondered if Dawlish was dead. A part of his mind hoped that Dawlish was not dead. Draco wanted Dawlish to come back. He wanted to hear more about his parents. Dawlish was the only one who had visited Draco that had told or could tell Draco anything about his parents.

The small hope that Dawlish would come back had actually given Draco some ray of hope. If none of the Aurors besides Dawlish could give Draco some information about his parents, there was only one conclusion to this that Draco could think of: Dawlish knew where Draco’s parents were. This idea had worked its way through Draco’s mind that he began to think of things. Was Dawlish working with the Death Eaters on the Ministry’s orders? Was he there to save Draco’s parents? If so, why had Dawlish not been able to save Draco’s parents? If he had saved them, Draco would have surely been given some news about it. There was also the fact (and this had gone through Draco’s mind so many times, that it wrenched his stomach to the point of vomiting) that Dawlish was working with the Death Eaters and had become a traitor. If so, Dawlish knew where Draco was. After thinking of this, Draco had begun a routine of looking at the front door and expecting a band of Death Eaters to come in and attack him.

By the middle of October, Draco had gone through these ideas in his mind so many times, that any possibility seemed capable. Draco had to get answers. There was always the possibility that Dawlish would come back. And if Dawlish did come back, there was the chance that this would be the last time. If Dawlish, or any of the other Aurors, were not going to give Draco any answer, Draco had to get the answers himself.

A week before Halloween, an Auror came by with the weekly groceries and a copy of the Daily Prophet.

“I know I probably won’t get an answer from you,” the Auror, Atworthy, said with a sigh, “But is there anything special I can get you the next time I come by?”

“Actually there is,” Draco said.

“Really?” Atworthy asked.

“As you can probably see,” Draco said, “It is rather boring around here, and I want something to keep me occupied.”

“What do you have in mind?” Atworthy asked.

“Something to read,” Draco said.

“Other than the occasional Daily Prophet, I assume,” Atworthy said.

“Yes,” Draco said, “Being isolated has put some thoughts into my mind. It has given me the opportunity to think about the future. I would like some books. Are there books on magical inventions?”

“Why would you want these?” Atworthy asked.

“Does it really matter?!” Draco asked, agitated, “I want to read them. Wouldn’t you want something to read if you were locked up?! Those seem like they would be interesting.”

“Okay, then,” Atworthy said, “I will talk to my supervisor and see what he says. If all goes well, I will come back in a few days and give you the books.”

“Good,” Draco said.

Atworthy left, and Draco smiled to himself. Draco knew very well that there were books on magical inventions. Whenever he was bored, he would read some of the books that were in the library at Malfoy Manor. There was one book, “The Theory of Magical Inventions”, which came to mind. Draco had read it once, but that was years ago. He did remember one thing that he read in the book. Something similar to what the Muggles would call a bug. Not the critters that ran around, but the small devices that could track anything. If Draco could get his hands on this information, and Dawlish did pay a visit, Draco could plant a magical bug on him and find out where he was going. All Draco would have to do was escape the safe-house and follow him… but Draco would think of that when the time came.

To Draco’s luck and fortune, Atworthy returned a couple of days later. Draco noticed that he was carrying a knapsack.

“You are lucky, Draco,” Atworthy said, “I have found a few books that might suit your fancy.”

Atworthy put the knapsack down and opened it. He started to take books from the knapsack and placed them on the coffee table. There were four books in total, and Draco had recognized a couple of them, including the one he wanted: “The Theory of Magical Inventions.”

“And I also have the latest Daily Prophet for you,” Atworthy said, taking out the newspaper and placing it on the table, “Now, Draco. I am giving you these books because you asked for them. But I want you to promise me one thing. You will not use these books to create anything while you are in this safe-house. They are just for reading purposes only. Do you promise?”

“I promise,” Draco said, mentally crossing his fingers.

Atworthy stared at Draco for a moment. Draco knew full well that Atworthy could not use Legillimency, but Draco still closed his mind anyway.

“Very well,” Atworthy said, “I will return in a few days with groceries. If that is all…”

“Actually,” Draco said, “That is not all. I wanted to know how one of your fellow Aurors was doing. An Auror by the name of John Dawlish. He substituted once for you and he has not come back. I was getting worried about him.”

For the most part, that was a lie. Draco was not really worried about Dawlish at all. He just wanted Dawlish to come to the house.

“Dawlish is perfectly fine,” Atworthy said, “I will let him know that you are worried about him.”

“I was hoping he would come by,” Draco said, innocently, “We had a good discussion when he was here, and I just thought…”

“I am not sure if that will be possible,” Atworthy said, “But I will see what I can do. Have a good day.”

Atworthy picked up his knapsack and left via Floo Powder. Draco wiped the smile from his face, but it came back as soon as he sorted through the books on the table. Draco immediately picked up "The Theory on Magical Inventions" and started flipping through the pages. He quickly found the bold words that read “Magical Tracking” at the top of a page. He started to read:

The art of magical tracking has been used by Aurors and other wizards trained in the art of catching those wizards who use Dark Magic, or magic for the sole purpose of torturing, killing and other means of evil.

“Blah, blah, blah,” Draco said, “I don’t need the history and the views of right and wrong. I need to know how to get one and use it!”

Remembering the warning that Atworthy gave him and the promise he was to keep, Draco did have some doubts that there was information on how to use it in these books. But Draco did have the strong feeling that he had seen this information in the very book he had in his hands. He continued reading and skipping paragraphs until he found one that suited his fancy.

Unlike many of the things seen and used in the wizarding world, the tracking device originally came from Muggles. They called trackers “bugs”. The Author would like to state that the trackers have no resemblance to insects, and will from this point on refrain from using the term “bug”.

Draco sighed. Still no actual information on how to get one. He turned a page. Nothing there either. He turned another page and grinned. The bold words at the top of the page read “Tracking Devices and how to use them.”

“Atworthy must not have any knowledge what-so-ever of the contents of this book,” Draco said, with a grin.

He started to read:

The Ministry of Magic has put a restriction on what can be written in the books about the various magical artifacts used, so that information will not be in this book. However, do not fret, reader, because there is stuff that can be in the book. As the title of the book suggests, everything in this book is inventions and allows the reader to do stuff at their own will. Below is what in unsanctioned terms would be called a recipe. (Note: The Author does not suggest that any of the following is used without full knowledge of how it is used, and gives full warning that the...

“Blah, blah, blah!” Draco said, “Disclaimers are for the weak! Let’s see… aha! Here we go. Simple Homemade Tracker!”

Draco continued to read:

You will need:

1) Two of any small common object you use everyday. (e.g.: utensil, quill.) They must be identical to each other.
2) Wand
3) Hard surface (Table, counter, desk)

Draco almost laughed. This sounded almost too easy. He got up from the couch and walked into the kitchen. He opened a drawer near the sink and retrieved two forks from it. He returned to the living room and sat on the couch then continued reading.


1) Place the two objects next to each other on a hard surface.
2) Point your wand directly at the two objects and using nonverbal magic, repeat the following words until you see a blue glow around the objects.

Below the directions was the incantation. Draco grimaced. It was a very long incantation. He placed the two forks next to each other on the coffee table in front of him. He took his wand from his pocket and pointed it at the forks. Using nonverbal magic, he spoke the words. On the first attempt, nothing worked. The forks did not move, and there was no trace of the blue glow that the book had instructed. Draco sighed and tried again. This time he said the words and he was sure he got them right, but nothing happened. He looked back at the directions.

“Repeat the following words,” Draco said, “Of course.”

Draco tried for the third time and nonverbally repeated the words over and over. Suddenly, after what was probably the fourth time repeating the words in a row, the forks started glowing blue.

“Finally!” Draco said, irritated, “Now, let’s see.”

Draco returned to the book:

After the objects have the required glow, wait for a couple of minutes. The glow should disappear.

Draco waited and watched the forks. After a couple of minutes, Draco was about to give up because the bright blue glow could still be clearly seen. He stood up and was about to walk away when the glow around the forks suddenly disappeared.

“Finally!” Draco said again, impatiently.

Draco sat back down on the couch and looked at the directions again.

Because the tracker has been known to fail, it is also a wise choice to see if it works. The best way to do this is to put one of the objects in a room far away. First of all make sure you are in an Apparation-safe place. If you are in two-story house, put one of the objects on the second floor. Leave the other one where it is.

Draco shrugged and picked up one of the forks. He walked up the steps to the second floor of the house and walked into the bathroom. He placed the fork in the bathtub and walked out of the room. He returned to the living room and sat back down on the couch. He picked up the book and found the paragraph he was on. He almost fell off the couch when he read the next words: “Make sure you are in an Apparation-Safe house.” He knew how to apparate. That wasn’t the problem. He had never tried to apparate inside the house from one room to another. No one had told him that it was possible or impossible to do so.

“Well, no better time than the present,” Draco said, “What is the worst that can happen?”

I could splinch myself, he thought. If he did that, then nobody would be there to help him. Well, he had to try it. He stood up, closed his eyes and pictured the top of the stairs in his mind. He counted from three to one and immediately felt as if he was being sucked into something narrow. A moment later, he heard a pop and opened his eyes. He grinned. He was at the top of the stairs. He tried again to make sure he could do it, and few moments later, he appeared in the living room and nearly toppled onto the coffee table. He wouldn’t admit it, but he definitely wasn’t the best when it came to Apparation. He picked up the book and continued to read.

If you are in an Apparation-Safe house, then you will be able to successfully test out the spell. Pick up the other object and hold it in your hand. Repeat the same incantation you used earlier, while concentrating on Apparating. Be careful when you do this. Many wizards, including the author, has failed and injured themselves while doing this. If you are successful, you should land in the vicinity of the object used as the tracking device.

Draco grimaced when he saw that he had to repeat the same words, and he nearly fell over when he saw that he had to do them while concentrating on Apparation at the same time. This was difficult for even great wizards. It took a lot of concentration to Apparate while doing nothing else! He put the book down and picked up the fork. He knew this was had to work the first time. If it didn’t work, then he could get splinched. He sighed deeply and closed his eyes. He focused on the bathroom and repeated the words. What he didn’t see, was that as he repeated the words, the fork turned blue again. Draco heard a pop a moment later and opened his eyes. He was standing in the bathtub. He looked down at his feet. The fork, which had a bright blue tinge, was right in front of his feet.

“I don’t know how this is going to work,” Draco said, bending down and picking up the fork, “I will be lucky if don’t land on Dawlish when I apparate.”

He got out of the bathtub and walked out of the bathroom then down the stairs. He returned to the living room and nearly yelled out in alarm. Auror John Dawlish was sitting on the couch reading the same book Draco was reading.

“What are you doing here?” Draco asked, when he found his voice.

“Oh, hello,” Dawlish said, looking up from the book, “Atwood found me at the Ministry of Magic. He said you were hoping that I would come by again. I wasn’t doing anything. So I thought I would come. Did he give you these books? They are quite good, I must say. I have read them before.”

“I was getting bored,” Draco lied, hastily storing the forks inside his pockets, “I didn’t have anything to read besides Daily Prophets. I get tired of news, you know.”

“Funny,” Dawlish said, putting the book down, “Never saw you as the inventing type.”

“You begin to think of things when you are isolated,” Draco said.

“Right,” Dawlish said, “So what did you want to talk to me about?”

“Well,” Draco said, “When you visited me last time, you seem to know a lot about my parents’ location. I was wondering if you knew anything else. I haven’t seen a single thing about it in the newspapers. Nothing about any Death Eater attacks or anything like that either.”

“The Ministry is stopping the Daily Prophet from printing anything about the Death Eaters,” Dawlish said, “That is why you haven’t seen anything.”

“Why would they do that?” Draco asked.

“We don’t want the Death Eaters to know how much we know about them,” Dawlish said, simply.

“How much is that?” Draco asked.

“Sorry,” Dawlish said, “I cannot tell you that.”

“And why not?!” Draco said, infuriated, “My parents are being held prisoner by them! I should get to know some things!”

“You know all that you should,” Dawlish said, “And maybe more than that. Is this the only reason you wanted me to come over?”

No, there was another reason, Draco said to himself. But he wouldn’t let Dawlish know that. A poke in his hip reminded him of the two forks that were hidden away in his pocket. He had to plant one of them on Dawlish, but how?

“May I use your bathroom?” Dawlish asked, when Draco didn’t say anything.

“Huh?” Draco said, not paying attention, “Oh, yeah. Go ahead.”

Dawlish nodded his thanks and stood up from the couch, then headed up the stairs. Draco walked over to the couch to sit back down, and almost tripped over something.

“Stupid table!” Draco yelled, looking down, “Wait, what is this?”

Draco bent down to get a better look. A small, brown knapsack was sitting underneath the table.

“It must be Dawlish’s,” Draco said.

Draco looked up at the stairs, and could not hear Dawlish coming down. He quickly picked up the knapsack and opened it. Draco took out one the forks and put it in the knapsack, digging around so that it would be at the bottom. As he was about to close the pouch, he saw a small bag. He picked it up and opened it. It was full of green powder.

“Floo Powder!” Draco said, “Of course!”

Draco dropped the knapsack, and kept the pouch and ran into the kitchen. He quickly opened a cupboard and found a glass. He dug his hand into the small bag and took out some Floo Powder, then put it into the glass, and returned the glass to the cupboard. He heard a noise, and ran back to the living room. He went to the knapsack and closed the small bag, then threw it in. He closed the knapsack and put it under the table. He let out a sigh, then realized the cupboard was still open. He walked into the kitchen.

“Draco?” Dawlish called, “Oh, there you are?”

Dawlish walked into the kitchen. Draco took an empty glass from the cupboard.

“Thought I would get something to drink,” Draco said, making an excuse, “Want anything?”

“No, thank you,” Dawlish said, “I must be going. I would stay longer, but I need to be somewhere.”

“Oh,” Draco said, filling the glass with water, “Well, if you must.”

“I will come back one of these days,” Dawlish said, “I know you like to know about the current events.”

“Yeah,” Draco said, “Some stuff you can’t just get from the Daily Prophet.”

Dawlish nodded. He picked up his knapsack and looked inside. Draco held his breath. Was Dawlish going to notice? Dawlish took out the small bag and grabbed some of what Draco knew was the Floo Powder. Would he notice some missing? Dawlish looked at Draco.

“Well, goodbye,” he said, “Wait… what is that?”

“What is what?” Draco asked.

“In your pocket?” Dawlish asked, pointing at one of Draco’s jean pockets.

Draco grimaced. He took the fork out of his pocket.

“Oh, forgot about this!” Draco lied, quickly, “I had found the fork in my bedroom and had meant to bring it into the kitchen. I forgot I put it in my jeans.”

“Oh,” Dawlish said, “All right. Well, see you later.”

Dawlish deposited the bag back into his knapsack and threw the knapsack over his shoulder. He walked over to the fireplace, where a fire was blazing.

“Be careful with this fire,” Dawlish said, “Don’t want to burn the place down.”

“Yeah,” Draco said.

Dawlish threw some of the powder in the fire, which turned green. He stepped into the fire.

“Sterling Lane!” he yelled, and then disappeared.

“Sterling Lane, eh?” Draco said, grinning, “Maybe I won’t need to apparate.”

He walked over to the kitchen and opened the cupboard. He took out the glass full of green powder. He poured some into his hand. He walked back to the living room and checked to make sure he had the fork and his wand with him. If he was going to get out of the house before the Floo Network shut the way out, he had to do it now.

“Here goes nothing,” he said, throwing the powder into the fire. He walked in.

“Sterling Lane!” he yelled.

He suddenly spun around and all he could see was the orange glow of fire, and then darkness.

Cliffhanger! I will end it there! You will find out what happened next chapter! Hope you liked this one!

If I am lucky, I will get this chapter up soon. But I might be going away, and won’t be on a computer for a few days. I don’t know yet. Might not be able to get a new chapter up until the first week of April.

Feedback would be great.

March 18th, 2008, 7:29 pm
Chapter 35
Sterling Lane

Author’s Note: Yet another mistake of mine was pointed out to me. But I might play off of my mistake and do something with it, so I won’t tell you what that mistake is. Also, there have been some questions about Headmaster Browne. He will be explained more in upcoming chapters (and there might be something in this one, who knows!), so keep a look out for that one. This chapter will be in Draco’s PoV.

Draco landed on solid ground a few moments later, and stumbled out of the fireplace. He coughed and spluttered, and as soon as the dust cleared, he had wished he didn’t. There was no immediate danger, but Draco felt uneasy. Had someone heard him enter? He was making a lot of noise with all of that coughing. And where was Dawlish? A sudden thought came to his mind. Was he in the wrong place? Had he messed up with the Floo Powder? As he looked around the living room (and he was sure it was the living room, because of the various furniture), he could tell that there was someone living in this house at one point or another.

He heard a humming sound, and quickly took his wand from his pocket and pointed it at the doorway to his left. He walked toward the doorway, and saw that it led to a hallway. There were stairs going up to a second level, and also another door. He heard the humming noise again, but this time it was louder. He turned around quickly, but there was only a table with a small lamp on it.

“Where is that humming sound coming from?” Draco whispered to himself.

He then remembered the fork in his pocket and took it out. He was surprised to see that it was glowing, and he had also found the source of the humming.

“Get a grip on yourself!” Draco scolded himself.

He thought he should go up the stairs to see if there was someone there, and as he walked toward the stairs, the humming grew louder.

“What do you want?!” he yelled at the fork.

He nearly threw it against the wall, when he had a strange thought. Was the fork leading him to its companion? Was the tracking spell working? The humming was growing a little louder each time he took a step. Did it sense the other fork? He walked over to the door near the stairs and opened it. It led outside. The first thing he saw nearly made his stomach leap into his throat. Dawlish was on the other side of the street walking into a small park.

Draco walked out the door slowly and closed it as silent as he could. He ran over to a tree and hid behind it. Dawlish walked down a sidewalk in the park and disappeared out of Draco’s view. Draco quickly walked across the street and over to another tree on the edge of the park. He found Dawlish, who was walking toward a public restroom near a playground. Dawlish went into the restroom. Draco took this opportunity to get closer to Dawlish. He ran, but disguised it as jogging so no one would get suspicious. If anyone had recognized him, including Dawlish, he would be in deep trouble. As he ran over to a tree near the playground, Draco thought he should go back to the house and use the Floo Network to go back to the safe-house. He then realized he had not brought any more Floo Powder with him, and wondered how he was going to get back when that time came. The Floo Network would probably be closed to his house anyway.

Suddenly, someone walked out of the restroom, but it wasn’t Dawlish. But it definitely was someone who Draco recognized: Augustus Rookwood.

“What is he doing here?” Draco whispered to himself, “Last time I heard about him, he was still in the hands of the Ministry. But that was months ago! And where is Dawlish?”

Draco heard loud humming again, and grimacing, he quickly deposited the fork back into his pocket. He peered around the tree to see if Rookwood was coming his way, and almost screamed out. Rookwood was indeed coming his way. Draco had to hide again. He stealthily ran toward the restroom and hid against a wall. He definitely did not want to go inside when Dawlish was probably still in there. Draco heard the humming again, but it was getting softer. He tried to think what that meant. Was he getting closer to the fork… or was it getting farther away from him? When he got closer to Dawlish, the humming got louder. So that meant that the other fork must be going away from him. Draco peered around the corner of the wall and found Rookwood. Draco then saw something he recognized. He was holding the same knapsack that Dawlish had. Had Rookwood stolen it from Dawlish? If so, Draco needed to get it! He had to plant it back on Dawlish. Dawlish was the only one who could lead him to his parents.

He walked into the restroom but saw nobody. Dawlish was nowhere to be found. Draco had the strangest thought come into his head.

“It couldn’t be!” Draco said.

He walked back outside and looked at Rookwood. Was that actually Dawlish in disguise? Draco looked at the knapsack again. It had to be… there was no other way possible. Rookwood was still in the hands of the Ministry. He couldn’t escape that easily! This intrigued Rookwood more. If Dawlish was disguised as Rookwood, then… that was it! This was all part of Dawlish’s plan! And Draco was right in the thick of it! He looked at Dawlish and found that he was walking back toward the same house that Draco had just left. Draco stealthily followed him, and as he got closer, he realized that Dawlish was not going to the same house, but he was headed up the street where more houses were. Draco’s heart skipped a beat at the thought. His parents must be in one of those houses!

“I’m coming for you,” Draco said to himself.

Using trees and any other means of hiding, he quietly followed the man, who looked like Augustus Rookwood, who Draco knew was actually Dawlish. He looked up at the street sign as he passed by. Sterling Lane . He had never heard of this street! But that was nothing important. There were loads of streets he never heard of. As he walked up the street, Draco found more places to hide: behind cars, hedges and trees. There were a couple of times when he thought he saw Dawlish look back, but Draco was already hiding when he did. He was just surprised that Dawlish couldn’t hear the humming, which was getting louder every time Draco got closer.

“I will have to drop this fork some time soon,” he said to himself, “Or the noise will betray me.”

A few minutes later, Dawlish finally turned into a driveway. Draco was on the other side of the street, and to get a good view, he had to jump over a fence. He did so, and quickly hid behind a large bush. He peered over the bush and saw that Dawlish was heading for a large house, though it was small compared to Malfoy Mansion . At the top of about fifteen steps (Draco lost count halfway up), two men were standing outside the front door of the house. Draco guessed that they were guards. Draco realized that if Dawlish was going to say anything to the guards, Draco would not be able to hear them. He had to get closer. He turned to his left and slowly climbed the next fence. He looked across the street to make sure no one was looking at him, then hurried across the street and ducked behind a large wooden fence. He heard one of the guards speak.

“Who do you suppose that is, Lazarus?” the guard on the left said.

“How am I supposed to know, Walt!” the other guard, Lazarus, said, “I ain’t no Seer.”

“Oi, stranger!” Walt said, “Stay where you are!”

Draco gulped, and thought the guard had seen him. He cautiously peered over the fence, and sighed when he realized Walt was looking at Rookwood.

“What is your name and reason for being here?” Walt asked, “This is private property, you know.”

“I know it is,” Dawlish said, “My name is Augustus Rookwood. I was ordered here.”

“Rookwood, eh?” Lazarus said.

Suddenly, the door opened behind the guards. A man walked out, but Draco couldn’t get a good glimpse at him.

“Ah, Augustus,” the man said, “Come in.”

“Thank you,” Dawlish said, “I was trying to tell these two who I was. I guess they don’t know me.”

“Don’t worry, lads,” the man said, “He is supposed to be here.” He turned to Dawlish. “They are new rookies. Yaxley found ‘em and sent them here.”

“Yaxley?” Draco mouthed.

Draco knew who this Yaxley was. He had seen his picture in a large article in the Daily Prophet labeled: “Death Eaters Still On The Loose.” Draco was definitely in the right place. Draco looked up at the house again. Dawlish had gone inside, but he could still see the other man’s shadow.

“We will be having a meeting soon,” he said, “He is the only one we are expecting. Come on in.”

“In a moment,” Walt said, “ Hoover is still out here. I am waiting for him.”

“Hoover, eh?” the man said, “Well, when you find him, tell him he is on prisoner watch.”

“I bet he will like that,” Walt said with a grin.

“Prisoner watch, eh?” Draco said to himself, “Now we are getting somewhere.”

Draco looked back at the guards. The other man had gone back inside.

“I don’t see why any of us needs to watch the prisoners,” Lazarus said, “They are no trouble at all.”

Walt had replied, but before Draco could make any of it out, he felt something touch his shoulder. He turned around and gasped. A man was standing there with his wand pointed right at Draco.

“You must be Hoover ,” Draco said.

“That’s right,” Hoover said, “Stupefy!”

“Protego!” Draco said, lifting his wand.

“Expelliarmus!” Hoover yelled.

“Expelliarmus!” Draco yelled at the same time as Hoover .

Both wands left their owner’s hand. Draco hurried to the ground to find his wand and found it behind him. He stood up, only to find that Hoover was still at the same spot.

“Enough of this,” Hoover said.

WHACK! Draco had only seen the fist a moment, then saw stars in his eyes as he fell to the ground. The next thing he saw was darkness.

Draco opened his eyes, but didn’t see anything. Wherever he was, it was in total darkness. He sat up and felt a splitting pain in his head and put a hand to it. He felt a large bump on his forehead. He also felt a bruise around his right eye and he knew that he would have a black eye if he didn’t have one already. Since he couldn’t see anything or hear anything for that matter, he had to feel around. He could tell he was sitting on the ground, because he felt grass and dirt. He moved his hand around, and a moment later, he felt something to his left. It felt like wood. He realized that he must be outside in a poorly built building… probably like a shack or something. He was about to stand up when he heard voices.

“I want to see the prisoner,” the voice said.

Draco felt a lump in his throat. He knew that voice. It was poorly disguised, but it was definitely Dawlish’s voice.

“I have orders to wait until Yaxley comes,” another voice said.

Draco recognized this voice as well. It belonged to Hoover , the man who had knocked Draco out. Draco silently promised that he would get his revenge on that man. But for now, he listened to the conversation.

“Orders?” Dawlish asked, “From whom? Avery? Avery is just a pawn compared to me.”

“I still have my orders,” Hoover said, “And I am going to see them through. I want to be here when Yaxley sees the prisoner. He has been looking for this one for a while now.”

“And you think you will get some kind of reward, do you?” Dawlish asked, with a sneer.

“It might put me up in rank,” Hoover said, “I didn’t sign up in the Death Eaters to be a servant, you know. Hey, what are you --?”

“Stupefy!” Dawlish said, before Hoover could get another word out.

Draco heard a crash, then a moment later, he saw blinding light. He covered his eyes.

“They didn’t give you any light!” Dawlish said, “That is the least they could have done. Lumos Maxima!”

Through his fingers, Draco could see the room being fully lit.

“You bloody fool!” Dawlish said, with a growl, “Put your hands down! You don’t need to hide your face, I know who you are!”

“I wasn’t hiding my face,” Draco said, putting his hands down, “And I know who you are, too… Dawlish. Your appearance is good, but you need to work on disguising your voice. Though I am confused on why you picked Augustus Rookwood.”

“Never mind that!” Dawlish said, “What are you doing here? How did you get out of the safe-house?! How did you know where I was?”

“I stole some of your Floo Powder,” Draco said, “Quiet your voice next time you say where you are going. Especially if it is some place like this.”

"Smart," Dawlish said, "And that is not a compliment! And I guess I know how you found me. I was wondering why they said they found a fork in your pocket. That book you were reading... you made a magical tracker, didn't you?"

"The fork's companion is in the bottom of your knapsack," Draco said.

"Damn you," Dawlish said, "Do you realize how much trouble you are in? Do you realize how much trouble you put me in?!”

“I don’t bloody care how much trouble either of us are in!” Draco yelled, standing up, “I came to get my parents out. I don’t know what you and the Ministry were planning, but it was definitely not freeing my parents! And if you aren’t going to free them, I am!”

“First of all, lower your voice!” Dawlish said, hastily, “Do you want them to hear you? Secondly, you followed me for nothing. Your parents are not here.”

“You liar!” Draco said, “I heard the guards talking about prisoners.”

“I am not lying,” Dawlish said, “There are prisoners here, but they are not your parents. There are two different locations that Death Eaters are hiding at. Your parents are at the other location.”

“Liar!” Draco yelled.

Draco ran toward Dawlish, with all intentions on punching any part of the Auror he could reach. But before he could go five steps, he was pulled back to the wall he had started from.

“Magical invisible chains,” Dawlish said, smiling, “Well, the Death Eaters are smart.”

“You let me go now!” Draco snarled.

“I am afraid that I cannot do that,” Dawlish said, “You see, I have to keep my identity the way it is. If I set you free, the Death Eaters would think that something fishy was going on. I cannot do have that. I think you will just have to stay put for a while. Besides, I think Yaxley might be coming here to talk to you. If you are lucky enough, he won’t decide to kill you, and he will take you to the other location. You might just get to see your parents, Draco. Isn’t that what you wanted?”

“I don’t know if that is a smart idea, Dawlish,” Draco said, with a grin.

“Oh yeah,” Dawlish said, “And why not?”

“What is Atworthy going to say when he finds out I am gone?” Draco said, still grinning, “You were the last one to see me in the safe-house. Then you went straight to the Death Eaters. Let’s think… what is the reason I was put in the safe-house?”

“To keep you away from the Death Eaters,” Dawlish said.

“Exactly,” Draco said, “Atworthy is going to think that you sold me to the Death Eaters.”

“Maybe you should have thought about that when you decided to follow me,” Dawlish said, turning and opening the door.

The grin was quickly wiped from Draco’s face.

“Yaxley should be here soon,” Dawlish said.

Dawlish then walked out the door, leaving Draco in complete darkness once more.

Draco realized that he didn’t know the true meaning of isolation until that very moment. At least in the safe-house, he was free to go wherever he wanted (as long as it was in the safe-house). He was free to eat what he wanted, whenever he wanted. And it was never this dark. Draco couldn’t even see the end of his nose. Dawlish nor any of the other Death Eaters hadn’t brought him any food or water, or had even bothered to check on him.

Draco tried to remember what Professor Snape had taught him about wandless magic, but he couldn’t even remember the simple spells.

“That’s what I get for not paying attention,” Draco said to himself, “Didn’t think it would backfire on me this early in my life.”

“Let me in there,” a voice suddenly said.

“Name and rank?” Hoover asked, “I am only supposed to let Yaxley in.”

“I am Yaxley, you dolt!” Yaxley yelled, “Let me in now.”

Draco heard the door open and covered his eyes once more.

“Has the prisoner been given anything to eat or drink?” Yaxley asked.

“I didn’t think it was necessary,” Hoover said, “This is meant to be a torture house. You know… keep the prisoner isolated and confused. Makes it easier when we want answers from him.”

“You haven’t asked him anything?” Yaxley asked.

“I personally have not,” Hoover said, “But I know Rookwood went in a few hours ago.”

“A few hours,” Draco thought, “just how long have I been in here!”

“Did he find out anything?” Yaxley asked.

“I don’t know,” Hoover said, “He didn’t say.”

Draco grinned. Dawlish must have wiped Hoover’s memory clean from the point that he had knocked him out.

“Sir, I don’t know if anyone told you,” Hoover said, hastily, “But I was the one who caught the prisoner.”

“Were you?” Yaxley said, “Well, good job. Now scram! And go get Rookwood!”

“B-but,” Yaxley stammered, then sighed, “Yes, sir!”

Draco heard Yaxley mutter words under his breath as he walked into the shack and closed the door.

“Lumos Maxima!” Yaxley said.

The light from the wand completely engulfed the room in light. Yaxley stared at Draco, and Draco remembered Dawlish’s words that if Draco was lucky, Yaxley wouldn’t kill him.

“If you are going to kill me,” Draco said, “Get it over with.”

“Why do you think I would want to kill you?” Yaxley said.

“You kidnapped my parents!” Draco said, “And you sent your goons after me in New York City! They killed my boss and nearly killed me before... before they were taken out. Obviously you want to kill me and my parents.”

“I do not want to kill you, Draco,” Yaxley said, “And I do not want to kill your parents either. I want you to help me.”

“Never!” Draco snarled.

“Oh, I wouldn’t be too quick on your answer,” Yaxley said, “I think you will want to hear what I have to say.”

“Well, then say it,” Draco said.

“I am not sure if you know this,” Yaxley said, “But I am the reason your parents are out of Azkaban.”

“Out of Azkaban and into your custody!” Draco said, “Not much better! If you are trying to convince me, you are not doing a good job.”

“Well, I thought your parents would thank me for getting them out,” Yaxley said, “And I hoped you would thank me as well.”

“They were sentenced to a year in Azkaban,” Draco said, “Then they would be free.”

“Ah yes,” Yaxley said, “Freedom. What good does it do when their name, your name, the name of Malfoy, will be forever considered mud in the wizarding society?”

Draco sighed. He had no answer.

“You see,” Yaxley said, “I want to help your parents. I want to help them get their pride back. This will happen if they join the Death Eaters again.”

“Never!” Draco snarled, “They will never join you. The Death Eaters are the reason our name, reputation and our lives are ruined!”

“I thought you might disagree with me,” Yaxley said, “That is why you are coming with me. You see, ever since your parents have been in our custody, they have been worried about you. They thought you were dead. Oh, they knew you went to America. But they didn’t know what happened to you. Now that you are in my custody, I think they will do anything to keep you safe. Anything.”

“You are going to use me as a bargaining chip,” Draco said.

“Very smart,” Yaxley said.

Draco was about to reply, but a sudden knock on the door interrupted him. Yaxley opened it. Draco saw Dawlish, still disguised as Augustus Rookwood.

“Ah, Rookwood,” Yaxley said, “I trust you have done what I asked of you.”

“Yes, I talked to the prisoners,” Dawlish said, “I let the children know that if their dear father didn’t do something soon, their mother would regret it. They panicked and cried and complained, of course. But after they shut up, I got them to convince their mother to write a letter to her dear husband. Of course, I was telling her what to write. She did extremely well given the current situation. The letter is on its way to Hogwarts via owl post as we speak.”

“Wonderful,” Yaxley said, “I need you to do one more thing for me.”

“Sir?” Dawlish asked.

“Accompany me and the young lad back to London,” Yaxley said, “We will be taking a car. A few minutes ago, I got word from Avery that the Ministry is on full alert. They are watching the Floo Network and have even put up the Apparation Alerts. Apparently all the hubbub is about a young man who just so happened to escape their custody.”

Yaxley turned to Draco and grinned. Draco looked at Dawlish, who had a slight look of panic on his face, but Yaxley hadn’t noticed.

“Of course, sir,” Dawlish said, when Yaxley looked back at him.

“I will get the car ready,” Yaxley said, “You get the boy ready for the trip.”

“Yes, sir,” Dawlish said.

Yaxley walked out and Dawlish entered. He magically lit his wand and looked at Draco.

“I told you Atworthy was going to find out,” Draco said, “You are in quite a bit of trouble, I bet.”

“I am not the only one who is in trouble,” Dawlish said, grimly.

This quieted Draco.

“Get up!” Dawlish said.

He walked over to Draco and removed the chains, then commanded Draco to get moving. A few minutes later, Draco was in the back of a yellow Ford Anglia, with no means of escape, on his way to London.

Done! Hope you liked the chapter! Did it give you some answers?

Next chapter, the story goes back to Hogwarts!

Feedback would be great!

April 5th, 2008, 5:43 pm
Chapter 36
Flashbacks and Confessions

Author’s Note: This chapter will be in Ginny’s PoV.

The Monday after Halloween, Ginny woke up in her four-poster bed. She pushed back the curtain and peered out. The sun had yet to rise, but Ginny could see a hint of daylight coming in. This was usually the time she woke up every weekday, so that she could take a shower and get herself prepared before going down to breakfast. Today, however, she was really tired. She didn’t want to take a shower, and even going down to breakfast and even her classes was something she was thinking about skipping. The only real thing she was looking forward to was this meeting she would have with Professor McGonagall.

If it wasn’t for Quidditch and the fact that Ginny wanted to fulfill her dream of becoming a professional Quidditch player, Ginny would have left Hogwarts that very weekend. She didn’t care what her parents would say. She knew they would have a fit, especially her mother. She didn’t really care. At the moment, she wanted to be far away from everyone, especially a certain boy with messy hair and a scar on his forehead.

It was true, she wasn’t really that mad at Harry anymore. She knew it was stupid to be mad at him. She knew he wasn’t the complete reason Gryffindor lost on Saturday. It was that broom: the most evil piece of magical wood Ginny had ever laid her eyes on! She could still blame Harry, of course. It was his fault the broom was his in the first place. He bought it, completely ignoring Ginny’s warnings about what the broom could do… or could not do in this case.

Quidditch wasn’t the only thing that had kept Ginny staying at Hogwarts. Hermione tried to tell her that everything was going to be all right. And in Ginny’s opinion, she did a very good job of it. Ginny remembered the conversation. It had taken place on Sunday morning….

Flashback begins…

Ginny’s eyes were closed as she lay in her four-poster bed, but for the past two hours on Sunday morning, the day after the Halloween fiasco, she had not been sleeping. She kept opening her eyes and peering out her curtains to see if she was alone. Everyone besides Lavender and Ginny had left the dormitory around seven-thirty that morning. But every time Ginny would peer out her curtains, she could see Lavender snoring, but in a deep sleep, in her four-poster bed. Ginny wanted to wake her up and yell at her to finally leave the room! She wanted peace. She believed that if anyone else was in the room, she would not have that peace.

Ginny opened her eyes once again and peered out of the curtains. Lavender was not in her bed. Ginny sat up and looked around. She was the only one in the room.

”Finally,” Ginny said, laying her head back on her pillow, “Urgh!”

She sat up and grabbed her pillow. It was wet with sweat and probably a few tears. Ginny had done a fair bit of crying after escaping the Entrance Hall and the Grand Staircase. She hated to cry, and made sure that if she did, there wouldn’t be anyone to see it. She threw her pillow against the wall and laid her head back down on the sheets of her bed. She was about to close her eyes, when she heard a voice.

”Ginny?” the voice said, “Are you up here? Can I come in?”

Ginny immediately recognized the voice. It was Hermione’s.

”No!” Ginny said, “I want to sleep!”

”Ginny,” Hermione said, “It is almost nine-o-clock. You can’t sleep forever.”

”Yes, I can!” Ginny said.

”I want to talk to you,” Hermione said, “Please let me in. Remember, I am the Head Girl, and no matter what spell you used to lock the door, I can still use the skeleton key to come in. I am giving you a chance to open the door.”

”Skeleton key?” Ginny said, scoffing, “There is no such thing!”

”Ha!” Hermione said, “You know, I figured you would be one of the few who actually read Hogwarts, a History, Ginny. But I guess not. Very well, then.”

Ginny knew Hermione was joking. Or at least thought she was. A second later, Ginny heard the door unlock and creak open. Ginny gave an annoyed sigh and looked toward the door. Hermione was walking inside the room. She shut the door and walked over to Lavender’s bed and sat down.

”How do you do it?” Ginny said.

”Do what, Ginny?” Hermione asked.

”You come back to Hogwarts after a full year of being away from education,” Ginny said, “And it is like you never left. Here you are… Head Girl, still the top of your year and will probably have high scores on your N.E.W.Ts test, which you can take in December, and you aren’t even flinching at the sound of it!”

”You sound a bit jealous,” Hermione said, with a slight grin.

”I am serious, Hermione,” Ginny said.

”I make sure I am focused,” Hermione said, shrugging, “But to be honest, it is not always a piece of cake, Ginny. I’ve had my problems too, you know.”

”You know,” Ginny said, “Last night, when I came up here, I did a lot of thinking. I almost left Hogwarts last night.”

”What?” Hermione asked, shocked, “Ginny…”

”I know what you are going to say,” Ginny said, “So don’t say it. Don’t worry, I am not going to leave Hogwarts. I want to become a Professional Quidditch player, and this is my biggest chance. It’s my only chance really…”

”I think you have a great chance of being a professional Quidditch player, Ginny,” Hermione said, “You are doing great.”

”Am I?” Ginny asked, “My only shot to become a Quidditch player is to make sure I am one of the greatest captains Hogwarts has ever seen. I have to impress Gwenog Jones, Hermione. You don’t know how hard that is, believe me. But that is not all. I am beginning to think I am annoying every single person on my team. I’ve seen what happens when I try to talk about Quidditch in front Ron and Harry. They almost ignore me.”

”Ginny, I think Gwenog Jones is impressed with you,” Hermione said, “I really do. I mean, you were busy on the Pitch, so I don’t think you saw her reaction when…”

”You don’t have to tell me about that, Hermione,” Ginny interrupted, “Lavender told me. Yeah, Gwenog was impressed when we scored twenty points in one play. There is just a couple things wrong, Hermione. One: I didn’t come up with the play. Seamus and Dean did. They copied it from a Professional Quidditch play they saw. And two: we lost the match, Hermione!”

”Were you even listening to the judges at the meeting?” Hermione asked.

”How could you know what they said?” Ginny asked, “You were not there.”

”Ginny, I talk to Ron and Harry everyday,” Hermione said, “They tell me everything. They said that the judges did not care who won or lost. They wanted to know how well the players did out on the Pitch. I don’t think you have anything to worry about, to be completely honest.”

Ginny sighed inaudibly. She wanted to believe Hermione. She just had a feeling that her chances were already being compromised.

”Are you still mad at Harry?” Hermione asked.

”I don’t know,” Ginny said.

”It wasn’t his fault that you lost the match,” Hermione said, “This time we can actually blame it on the broom. Although I must say that Harry should have read more about the broom before he even thought about buying it. But you know how he hates to read.”

”What are you talking about?” Ginny asked.

”Harry couldn’t catch the Snitch because the broom had a certain flaw,” Hermione said, “Actually, it is more of a security measure, I suppose.”

”Get on with it!” Ginny said, sensing her temper rising.

”When Harry was going after the Snitch,” Hermione said, “The Snitch suddenly went higher in the air, right? Unfortunately, Harry was right under it. So if he wanted to be the first to get the Snitch, which of course he did, he would have had to follow it right away. He flew higher into the sky, chasing the Snitch, but he was at a vertical motion. This is where the broom’s flaw comes in. The broom can only go so high at a vertical motion. When it hit its limit, it gave up and dropped out of the sky. The makers of the broom wanted to make sure there was no chance of a player harming themselves by falling off the broom that high up. So you see? It wasn’t Harry’s fault. He really wanted to catch the Snitch.”

Ginny didn’t say anything. She was still trying to work out everything Hermione had said.

”Ginny?” Hermione said.

”Okay,” Ginny said, “So it wasn’t actually Harry’s fault. But I still want to be mad at someone.”

Hermione rolled her eyes.

”So what happened last night?” she said, “Where did this…’Ginger’… come from?”

”I wanted to go down to the feast,” Ginny said, “I mean… it was my last Halloween Feast here at Hogwarts, so I wasn’t going to avoid it. But I was mad at Harry, and he had tried to talk to me earlier in the day.”

”Yes, I know that,” Hermione said, “I let him come up here. You know… he got so bored because he couldn’t talk to you that he actually got some homework done early.”

”Can I continue?” Ginny asked.

”Oh, right,” Hermione said, “Sure.”

”Anyway,” Ginny said, “Lavender got the idea that she could help me with a disguise.”

”Wait a second?” Hermione asked, “She did that? I had no idea she was so good at Human Transfiguration.”

”No, she did not do that!” Ginny said, with an annoyed sigh, “When she got done with me, my eyes were two different colors and I had long blonde hair. Unfortunately, I still looked like myself in appearance, because George recognized me.”

”Yeah, I saw him,” Hermione said, “He was sitting up at the Professor’s -- oh, right… sorry, continue.”

”So he asked me what was going on,” Ginny continued. “I told him, and he didn’t think Lavender did such a good job. So he decided to use me as a guinea pig for a new invention of his: something called a Polyjuice Pendant.”

She expected Hermione to respond, but all she got from her was raised eyebrows.

”I turned into the girl you saw,” Ginny said, “Apparently it was someone George saw when he was thinking of the idea. Well, he didn’t tell me everything that could happen. Well, you saw the results. When the pendant’s magic ran out, a huge plume of smoke burst out of it and around me, and I was myself again.”

She felt tears in her eyes and brushed them away.

”It was the most embarrassing thing that ever happened to me,” Ginny said, “I couldn’t face Harry after that.”

”He was worried about you, Ginny,” Hermione said, “He didn’t go to sleep until after midnight in hopes that you would have gone down to the Common Room to talk to him.”

”I probably fell asleep shortly after I decided it would be best if I stayed at Hogwarts,” Ginny said.

”So can I tell Harry that you aren’t mad at him?” Hermione asked.

”Not yet,” Ginny said, “Please?”

”I don’t know why you are doing this,” Hermione said, “But okay. Now, will you please come downstairs?”

”Maybe in a little while,” Ginny said.

Hermione sighed, but nodded. She left the dormitory, leaving Ginny to her thoughts.

End Flashback

Ginny knew that, however much it had annoyed her, Hermione was right. Ginny had no real reason to be mad at Harry. There was no point to avoiding Harry, which Ginny had done on Sunday, and Ginny knew that she should talk to Harry again. Besides, she had bigger problems then continuing to be mad at Harry for no real reason.

Ever since the loss to Ravenclaw on Saturday, Ginny had not thought about the actual team at any time. How would the loss affect the team? Was Seamus going to leave the team, as he had said when he talked to Ginny on Saturday morning? If so, Ginny would have to find a new Chaser. Not to mention that with over half of the team possibly leaving Hogwarts at the end of December, the next game would be the last one with the current team. Ginny would have to find more players after Christmas break.

”Well, I did want to prove to Gwenog that I have what it takes to be a professional Quidditch player,” Ginny said, “If this doesn’t do it, I don’t know what will.”

Ginny sat up and decided that she should take a shower before breakfast. Ginny hurriedly rounded up her shower things and left the dormitory.

Throughout the day, Ginny could tell that Harry was trying to find the time to talk to her. When Ginny finally got the nerve to reply to Harry, Professor Browne had interrupted with a cough that had clearly told Ginny and Harry to get back to work on their essays.

Somewhere between Defense Against the Dark Arts and lunch, Harry must have changed his mind about talking to Ginny. Or perhaps, Ginny thought, someone changed it for him. Ginny did remember that she asked Hermione to not tell Harry anything, and this might have translated into Hermione trying to get Harry to avoid the situation altogether.

After the final class of the day, Ginny decided once-and-for-all to talk to Harry and tell him that she wasn’t upset with him. But when she went to the Common Room, Harry wasn’t there. Hermione explained that Harry wanted to do some more studying for the N.E.W.T exams and did not want to be disturbed. Ginny waited in the Common Room for Harry, and during this time, Seamus confronted Ginny and said that he would stay on the team. When Seamus walked away, Lavender smiled at Ginny. Ginny expected that Seamus didn’t come up with this decision all by himself.

When it was time for dinner, Harry didn’t show up to the Great Hall. Even Hermione thought it was strange that Harry would miss dinner to study. Ginny hoped Harry would come down, but soon it was time for Ginny to go to Professor McGonagall’s office for the meeting, and she had to rush there.

She reached the office a couple minutes after seven and knocked on the door.

”Come in,” Professor McGonagall’s voice rang out.

Ginny opened the door and walked in. Professor McGonagall was the only one in the room. She was writing something on a piece of parchment.

”Sorry I am late,” Ginny said.

”No matter,” McGonagall said, “Unfortunately my other guest is late as well.”

”Other guest?” Ginny asked.

McGonagall slightly smiled, which was rare for her.

”You will see,” she said.

McGonagall continued to write on the piece of parchment. Ginny chanced a quick glance and could tell that whatever she was writing was pretty long. Suddenly, there was a knock on the door.

”Come in,” McGonagall said.

Ginny turned around as the door opened. Gwenog Jones walked in, followed by Professor Browne. Ginny looked back at McGonagall, who was looking rather annoyed at Professor Browne. Ginny guessed Browne wasn’t the other guest, and assumed that it was Gwenog.

”Sorry I am late,” Gwenog said, “I was talking to Samuel, and all of a sudden, he gets sick. Well, a moment later, Headmaster Browne came by and he helped me escort Samuel to the Hospital Wing.”

”I hope everything is all right,” McGonagall said.

”Madam Pomfrey said she can fix Mr. Simmons up very quickly,” Browne said.

”I wasn’t exactly sure where this office was,” Gwenog said, “So the headmaster said he would escort me.”

”I was delighted to come,” Browne said, “But now I must be going. Before I left my office, an owl delivered a letter to me and I haven’t had a chance to open it. I will leave you to your meeting. Good evening.”

”Good evening, Headmaster,” Gwenog said, “Thank you again for your service.”

Browne exchanged glances with McGonagall and frowned. Ginny looked back at McGonagall who had the same annoyed look as before. Browne then quickly left the room.

”Wonderful gentleman,” Gwenog said.

McGonagall didn’t say anything, but continued to look at the door. Ginny noticed this.

”Professor?” she asked, “Is something wrong?”

”Hmm?” McGonagall said, looking at Ginny, “Oh, no, nothing.”

”Is it something to do with Professor Browne?” Ginny asked.

McGonagall sighed and looked down at the piece of parchment for a moment. She then looked back at Ginny.

”If I tell you this,” she said, “You must make sure that only trustworthy ears hear it. Understand?”

”Of course,” Ginny said.

McGonagall paused, then continued. “I am not sure I trust Professor Browne,” she said.

”Oh?” Ginny asked, rather surprised.

”Over the past few weeks,” McGonagall said, “I have noticed that he has acted very strange.”

”Perhaps you should talk to the school governors,” Ginny suggested, “If you believe he is unfit for his job, I am sure they would want to know.”

”I have no proof that he is unfit for his job, Miss Weasley,” McGonagall said, “The school governors aren’t going to do something because of an old witch’s ramblings.”

”But they have a high opinion of you, Professor,” Ginny said.

"That is kind of you to say, Miss Weasley," McGonagall said, "But unfortunately, I do not believe it is as easy as you think it is.”

She sighed.

“I should have seen this coming when I talked to Professor Browne,” she said.

“What do you mean?” Ginny asked.

“I have known Emelius Browne for a long time,” McGonagall said, “We met shortly after I graduated while I was attending a conference in northern England. We were both interested in teaching, and over the years we have been in contact. Well, he was the first one I thought of for the Defense Against the Dark Arts position. Well, at that time, the school governors were pestering me about the Headmaster job and what to do with it. At that time, I did not want to become Headmistress. I was fine with my job. Well, as you can probably guess, I asked Emelius Browne to take up the position of Headmaster. He was so delighted, that he decided that he would take both jobs.”

She paused for a moment, then continued.

“But over the past few weeks,” McGonagall said, “I have noticed things about Professor Browne. Just small things here and there. He has changed over the years. He is not the man I used to know many years ago.”

Ginny seemed a little shocked, but she didn’t voice her opinion. She had thought that Professor Browne was many years younger than Professor McGonagall, but she figured she shouldn’t be that surprised. Professor McGonagall, herself, was fairly old, but she looked like a woman who was at least twenty years younger than she was. Of course there was one thing that she remembered Harry mentioning.

“I don’t understand,” Ginny said.

“You don’t understand what, Miss Weasley?” McGonagall asked.

“I was under the impression that Professor Browne had a family,” Ginny said. “Harry told me that he had seen a picture of Professor Browne’s wife and children. Well, he said that the children don’t look older than… well, myself, I guess. But if that was true, then…”

Ginny sighed. She didn’t know how to put her thoughts into words.

“I know little about Professor Browne’s family,” McGonagall said, “But I am not surprised if the children Harry told you about were teenagers. They could be adopted. I have never thought of asking.”

“Harry had wondered if Professor Browne didn’t like talking about his family,” Ginny said, “He said that Browne had put their portrait face-down when he caught Harry looking at it.”

“That is a little strange,” McGonagall said.

Ginny was about to say something when she heard a coughing sound. She looked to her right. Gwenog Jones was standing there. Ginny had become so immersed in this discussion that she had forgotten Gwenog was in the room.

“Oh, I am truly sorry, Gwenog,” McGonagall said, looking at the slightly-harassed Gwenog, “I had almost forgotten why I arranged this meeting in the first place.” She turned to Ginny. “Miss Weasley, Gwenog informed me on Saturday, after the Quidditch game, that she was wanting to talk to you. So of course, I arranged this little meeting. Gwenog, I know you want to say something, so please do.”

“Ginny,” Gwenog said, walking over to the empty chair and sitting down, “I know that you are one of the students wanting to become a professional Quidditch player. And I also have heard a rumor that you are a big fan of my team.”

“Yes, mam,” Ginny said.

“Well, I must say,” Gwenog said, “That even though your team lost on Saturday, I was quite impressed with how you played. As you know, Samuel and I are not looking for people who can win every one of the games they are in. Why, the Harpies lost the first game that I was Captain.”

Ginny had recalled reading that somewhere, but she didn’t remember that until now.

“I have my eye on you, Miss Weasley,” Gwenog said, “Let me assure you. I am not saddened to say that there are not many fans of the Holyhead Harpies. But we make sure we can entertain those who are fans of us. I just want you to know that you have a good chance of becoming a professional Quidditch player.”

Tears went to Ginny’s eyes. She was speechless.

“Well, say something, Miss Weasley,” McGonagall said.

“It’s just,” Ginny said, “I thought that losing that game would put me on the bottom of the list. I was so upset after that game.”

“I know it is hard to lose a game,” Gwenog said, “Especially when it looks like you are going to win it. That is actually what I like about the game of Quidditch. Anything can happen.”

Gwenog stood up.

“Remember that, Ginny,” she said, “Anything can happen.”

Ginny smiled and wiped the tears from her eyes.

“If that is all, Gwenog,” McGonagall said.

“Oh yes,” Gwenog said, “That is all.”

“It is rather late,” McGonagall said, more to Ginny, “And I am sure Miss Weasley has some homework she really needs to get working on.”

“Yeah,” Ginny said, standing up, “Thank you, Gwenog. This means so much to me.”

“That’s the spirit I like to see in my players,” Gwenog said, “Who knows? You might become the next Harpie after all.”

Ginny was ecstatic, and the feeling of elation lifted her steps as she walked back to the Common Room.

Kind of a weird ending. But I hope it turned out as good as I thought it did.

I must admit, it is hard working out the character and story of Professor Browne. When I first introduced the character, I didn’t expect to go the way I am going now. So some things might not make sense, but they will soon. There will be a lot more about Professor Browne coming up.

Hope you liked the chapter! Feedback would be welcomed!

April 9th, 2008, 5:34 pm
Chapter 37
Letters, Threats and Promises

Author's Note: A few of my reviewers have been asking questions, which I like. So I will answer a couple that won't give away the storyline. One question that was asked was where did Harry go in the previous chapter. After he had decided (or thought, rather) that Ginny didn't want to talk to him, he went to do more studying for his N.E.W.T exams. They are coming ever closer (around the last week of December) and he wants to be ready. Other people have been asking about Professor Browne. Well, if you are curious about him, this chapter may suit your fancy. It will be in Professor Browne's PoV.

Emelius Browne left Professor McGonagall's office and immediately headed for his own. He cursed the fact that he had gone into her office. He didn't need to escort Gwenog Jones into the room at all. He could have just shown her the door. He saw the look on McGonagall's face when he walked into her office. Did she know that he was up to something?

Indeed, Browne was up to something. He had been suspicious of Professor McGonagall for a while now. He knew she was lying to him. He just couldn't figure out what that lie was. Gwenog had let it slip, unintentionally or not, that she was late to a meeting with McGonagall and a student. Gwenog hadn't mentioned the name of the student, but Professor Browne thought he knew who it was. Browne thought McGonagall was having another secret meeting with this student, and wondered how Gwenog could possibly be involved. But when Browne had entered McGonagall's room, he was surprised to find that it wasn't this particular student at all. It was just the Gryffindor Quidditch Captain. Browne knew what the meeting was about right then. The Quidditch captain, Ginny Weasley, was one of the students interested in becoming a professional Quidditch player. That was why Gwenog was asked to go to McGonagall's office. Just to have a little chat with her.

Browne kicked himself mentally. His own curiosity almost cost him everything. If Minerva McGonagall found out what Professor Browne was doing, everything would be compromised. It was true: he could have kicked her out of her own school in a heartbeat. He wouldn't need the permission of the school governors. He was Headmaster of the bloody school! But he needed Professor McGonagall. She kept the students and other professors in order. Besides, if it wasn't for Minerva McGonagall, he wouldn't be this close to achieving his goal. It was fate's good fortune that brought McGonagall to him just a couple days after his life turned upside down...

Flashback begins

A cool breeze of the coming autumn welcomed Emelius Browne as he walked through the now-open barrier that split Diagon Alley with the Muggle world. Children, around the age of eleven or twelve, ran around the narrow cobbled street while their parents tried to calm them down. Other kids, in their teens, patiently followed their parents into different stores. It was mid-August, and the hustle and bustle of getting prepared for the upcoming school year made Diagon Alley a very busy place.

But Emelius Browne didn't come to Diagon Alley for that reason. He had come to meet an old friend. He walked down the street, and soon heard a semi-familiar voice.

“Emelius Browne,” the voice said, “You made it.”

Browne looked over his shoulder toward the direction of the voice. A woman with grey hair and worn out Muggle clothes was sitting at a umbrella-covered table outside a cozy little restaurant called Fortescue's Ice Cream Parlor. She had a stern look on her face, but smiled as Browne walked over to her and shook her hand.

“Minerva McGonagall,” Browne said, “It has been a long time.”

“Yes, it has,” McGonagall said.

“Curious get-up you are in,” Browne said, glancing at McGonagall's outfit.

“It is a Muggle outfit, Emelius,” McGonagall said, “It is common sense to wear it while traveling. Though it seems common sense has left you today.”

Emelius flushed at this response. He was wearing a proper dark-blue wizard's robe. He didn't see anything wrong with it.

“The Muggles might find you suspicious,” McGonagall said, teasing, “Maybe crazy. But I guess I shouldn't be surprised. You were always the eccentric type.”

“Not as of lately,” Browne said, “Can we please get on with why you asked me to come? I have other business to attend to.”

“Of course,” McGonagall said. “As you know, I am the Deputy Headmistress of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Currently we are running short of a few key positions at Hogwarts. I know you are still in the teaching business, though it seems that you haven't been as lucky as of late with finding a good job.”

“I had other things to attend to,” Browne said.

“Of course,” McGonagall said, “But you are here today. So I am guessing that you are currently looking for a job again. Well, I want to give one to you. You see, right now I am looking for a Defense Against the Dark Arts Professor, as well as another position.”

“And you know my history with that subject and that is why you sent an owl my way,” Browne said, “Right?”

“Correct,” McGonagall said.

“What is the other position you have in mind?” Browne asked.

“I am looking for a new Headmaster of Hogwarts,” McGonagall said, simply.

“Well, that is absurd!” Browne said, chortling, “You are Deputy Headmistress! Why don't you just take the job?!”

“I don't think I am fit for the job,” McGonagall said.

“Absurd,” Browne said again.

McGonagall gave him a stern look. Browne cringed. He had seen this look before. Minerva McGonagall was quite the expert at this, and Browne had hoped that she had gotten over it.

“You are serious?” he asked.

“Quite,” McGonagall said, simply.

“You want me to be Headmaster of Hogwarts?” Browne asked.

“Maybe,” McGonagall said.

“And if I take the job,” Browne said, “You would have to look for another professor for Defense Against the Dark Arts.”

“You see what I am dealing with,” McGonagall said, “Will you accept one of these positions? Because if not, I have to look for two other people. I have to look for one other person anyway. As you can see, I am busy. What is your answer?”

“I am having trouble deciding,” Browne said.

McGonagall sighed and threatened to stand up from her seat and leave.

“How about this?” Browne said, “What if I take both positions?”

McGonagall stopped in her tracks and sat back down in her chair.

“Both positions?” she asked.

“Yes,” Browne said.

“I don't know if that is possible,” McGonagall said.

“Why not?” Browne asked, “Last time I heard, you were both the Deputy Headmistress and the Transfiguration professor. Is that true, Minerva?”

“Yes,” McGonagall said.

“Then why would my decision be impossible?” Browne asked.

“Headmaster is a big job, Emelius,” McGonagall said, “And I don't believe you have ever been Headmaster before in your life.”

“There is a first time for everything,” Browne said. “It is a good proposition. I have great knowledge in the Defense Against the Dark Arts, and I am willing to be the Headmaster. Two birds with one stone, as the saying goes, I believe.”

McGonagall didn't say a word, but looked at Browne. Browne almost cringed again under her gaze.

“I accept,” she said.

“You do?” Browne asked.

“Yes,” McGonagall said, “But if something goes wrong and I feel you are unfit for your job, I will strip you of one or both positions if I feel it necessary.”

“I accept,” Browne said.

“Great,” McGonagall said.

“Should we alert the Ministry?” Browne asked, “I am sure the Daily Prophet would want the public to know about the new Headmaster of Hogwarts.”

“You are that eager to let everyone know?” McGonagall asked.

“It was just a thought,” Browne said.

“I will see what I can do,” McGonagall said, “Meanwhile, should we celebrate the occasion? I know Florean Fortescue personally. There are very few people who know that he is not just an ice cream man. He has some exceptional liqueur.”

“Maybe another time, Minerva,” Browne said, standing, “I must be going.”

“Of course,” McGonagall said, standing as well.

Browne shook McGonagall's hand and walked back toward the barrier that would bring him back to the Muggle world.

Flashback ends.

The day before that meeting, Browne had received two owls. One was Professor McGonagall's informing him about the situation and the invitation to the meeting. Browne had no intention of accepting that invitation. He had not spoken to Minerva McGonagall in a long time. Now she was asking him to meet her! He wouldn't have gone to that meeting if it wasn't for the other letter. That letter had changed his life forever.

Browne had been on a personal holiday, meaning that he was the only one going on this holiday. He left his family in northern Scotland and had gone to London for no reason other than to just get away. The day after he had arrived, he had received the two owls. The second owl carried a package and Browne thought that it might have been just a care package from his family. When he opened it, he found three small boxes. In each box, he found a lock of hair. Browne read the letter, and to his horror, he found that it was a threat letter. His family had been kidnapped and the locks of hair was proof of the dirty deed. The only ransom was a proposition. Somehow the author of the letter had found out that Minerva McGonagall was interested in Professor Browne to take a job at the school. The proposition was that Browne had to get the headmaster job. The next letter would come when the author found out via Daily Prophet, that Emelius Browne was named the new headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. If the author hadn't found out, then the next letter that went to Browne would contain something much more gruesome than just words on a piece of parchment.

The following hours, he tried to think of what to do. He couldn't alert the authorities. That would risk the lives of his family. He had to meet McGonagall and hope that he would get the job. His fear was that she was somehow in the whole plot. How otherwise did the author of the letter know that McGonagall had was interested in him?

He accepted McGonagall's invitation and hours later he was the new Headmaster of Hogwarts. Unfortunately, the news hadn't been put in the Daily Prophet until the day after Professor Browne had come to Hogwarts.

Browne had received a letter before then, and all it said was “We will not wait for long.” Between mid-August and early September, sleep didn't come peacefully for Emelius Browne. The next letter Browne got was when the announcement had finally reached the Daily Prophet. The note said that the author was pleased, and that his next orders would come soon. Browne replied to this letter and said he wanted proof that his family was still alive. The next owl that came brought a package similar to the first one he had gotten. When Browne opened the small box, there was a whole fingernail in it. The nail polish on it told Browne that it was either his wife's or teenage daughter's fingernail. The only thing on the note told Browne that if he wanted more proof, next time the owl would bring something much bigger.


Browne reached his office a few minutes after leaving Professor McGonagall's office. When he walked in, he looked around to make sure no one was waiting for him. The portraits around the room were either asleep or feigning sleeping. If they were faking, they did not look at Professor Browne. He walked to his desk and sat down, then picked up the rolled-up piece of parchment. He unrolled it and his eyes widened. This time the letter was written by his wife. He knew her handwriting. He started reading. But as he read, he soon discovered that even if it was his wife writing, it was not her style. She had been forced to write this. Wanting to completely understand the letter, he started it at the beginning.

Dear Emelius,

Over the past couple of months, my captors have been quite silent when it comes to their plans for us, as well as you. Over the past couple of days, they have finally decided to talk to me and our two children. Unfortunately, the news we have heard is not good. Emelius, you must do what they ask you. I don't know what will happen to us if you do not complete their request. They haven't given me any information on this student at the school, and tell me that they have given you enough to know who this person is, and what is to be done. They are aware that this particular student will be leaving at the end of December, which means that your chances of completing their request is running out. Time is running out, Emelius. For all of us, I am afraid. Whatever you have to do, please do it.

The letter ended there. It didn't even end properly. That was one reason that Browne knew the letter wasn't actually from his wife. The content of the letter alone was not his wife's words at all. The writing looked as if it was being written quickly and hastily. It was very messy, and Browne even thought he might have seen the dim markings of a tear stain. Tears went to Browne's eyes as he read it again. He then crumpled up the letter and threw it to no place in particular.

Still, there were parts of that letter etched in his mind. Browne knew that time was running out. But he had tried everything. The students of Hogwarts were very well protected within the walls, and the targeted student was no exception. He didn't know what these people wanted. He didn't even know who they were! But he did have some thoughts. He had never met one of these Death Eaters before, but he knew what they dealt with. They were dark, evil, wizards and would do anything to get their revenge.

Browne did have his doubts, though. If the Death Eaters wanted to capture this person, why didn't they do it themselves? They had the manpower. The escapees during the riot of Azkaban were mostly Death Eaters, or that was the rumor at least. Hogwarts was still vulnerable. The Death Eaters knew this. They were the reason it was vulnerable! Why didn't they come marching in? Were they planning something else? Did this person have anything to do with it?

Browne had done everything in his power to do what he could. He wanted his family back. Tears pooled in Browne's eyes again as he picked up the portrait of his family. He brushed the tears away as he looked at the portrait.

Browne remembered the day the portrait was taken. It was just months before everything happened. They all looked so nice, so happy. Everything was perfect. He looked at his wife, Beverly, who was sitting beside him on a small couch. They had been married quite a long time. They had marked their thirty-five year anniversary just days before this portrait was taken. Their two children, William and Clementine, were standing right behind him and his wife. They were adopted, but they were both biological brother and sister, almost two years apart in age. Emelius and his wife had tried to have a family of their own, but after years, they had given up. Then, sixteen years ago, they decided to finally adopt a couple of children. They had found the two children in an adoption agency. The girl, the youngest, was just a few months old. The boy was almost three. Their parents had died in an accident in Scotland and they had no other relatives. Emelius and his wife adopted them both without hesitation.

“My darling Clementine,” Browne said, reciting the first part of his favorite song, as he looked at his daughter.

He used to sing that song to her each night before she would go to sleep. She wanted to be a professor like himself. She was very smart. One of the smartest of her class. Like her father, she also believed in the Loch Ness Monster, and she wanted to be the one to find it. Little did she know that the rumor was that it was this monster who had killed her biological parents. Browne had yet to tell anyone that. He had discovered it in an old newspaper when he was trying to find out what had happened to their parents. The common story was that her parents had drowned in the Loch when their car had crashed over a barrier and fell into the Loch. That was the Muggle story. The one thing that Muggles didn't know was that the couple were wizards and, like many wizards, they didn't even know how to drive a car.

Emelius next took a longing glance at William. William, nearing nineteen years of age, had a wonderful future ahead of him. He had two careers in mind. He wanted to be a professional Quidditch player, much to his father’s dislike. Emelius knew that William was much smarter than that. Emelius was sure that William could be an Auror if he had his mind set on it. He had wonderful results on his N.E.W.Ts. But his brain was so befuddled with dreams of wanting to become a professional Quidditch player. Emelius smiled at the thought. He was sure William would protect his mother and sister at all costs.

Emelius wiped a tear from his eye and set the portrait down gently. He stood up and walked over to the crumpled up piece of parchment and straightened it out.

“You will be out of there in no time, my darlings,” he said, looking at the note, “Mark my words. I will do everything in my power to make that happen.”

He walked behind his desk once more and looked under it. A small brown trunk was sitting near the back of it, just beyond where his feet usually rested. He reached under the desk and pulled the trunk toward him. He muttered a word and the trunk popped open. Inside was a stack of parchment. A few looked as if they had been crumpled up then straightened back up. Each of these were letters Browne had received from the man, or men, who kidnapped his family. He would look at the notes from time to time. There were also a few pieces of parchment that were attempted notes to send back to the kidnappers. Browne would think it was too threatening, and it would put his family in more danger. But instead of throwing them away, he would stash them in his trunk for later readings, and to keep his mission in mind.

Browne had read those letters so many times that he knew the contents by heart. He would tell the kidnappers that they had not given him enough information at first, and that it could have ruined his mission right there. He would insult them, but never send those letters. It just made him feel better.

Browne gently put the letter on top of the stack of the other letters and closed the trunk, then shoved it back under the desk. He looked back on his desk and found a small tan-colored folder. He grimaced. He still had to grade the results of those tests. He shoved them away from his mind. He would work on them later. He was much too tired tonight and he had too many things on his mind. He stood up and walked to the back of the room and tapped his wand on an empty portrait. The portrait moved, revealing a passage-way to the Headmaster’s bedroom. He changed and went to bed, though he didn’t fall asleep for hours. Once he did, his family and the no-faced kidnappers invaded his dreams.

I am sorry this chapter is so short! I wanted to put a few other things, but I couldn’t figure out how to do it. I didn’t want to reveal too much, because there are probably a few readers who haven’t figured everything out and I wanted to leave them guessing.

Hope you liked the chapter. It will take a little while for me to figure out what to do next. But my next chapter should come in a week or two.

Feedback would be great!

April 21st, 2008, 5:21 pm
Chapter 38
Making Up And Shipping Out

Author's Note: Got a couple more answers for reviewers’ questions. Someone asked about the mention of Florean Fortescue. It was never mentioned whether he was killed or not. So I am only assuming that he had taken a short vacation (in other words, got the heck out of there) during all the trouble, and he came back. Another reviewer thinks the DADA position is still cursed. No it is not. Everything that happened to Browne, happened before he had the meeting with McGonagall. Onto the next chapter. This will be in Harry’s PoV.

Harry woke up on Tuesday to find that he was alone in the room. He had once again overslept and was mad at himself for not choosing to take a shower the previous night. He couldn’t take one now, or he wouldn’t be able to eat before class. He had been so caught up the previous night with his N.E.W.T studies that he had completely lost track of time and didn’t get to bed until after midnight. He heard his dorm-mates come in at some point of the night, but didn’t see them, because had the curtains around his four-poster bed lowered.

Harry sat up and when he put on his glasses, he saw that a few of the school books and a small stack of parchment was at the end of his bed. He figured he must have fallen asleep while reading one of the books. Sure enough, when he got a better look, there was the Moste Potent Potions book on the edge of the bed near the pillow.

Harry had been studying for the N.E.W.T exams not just because he would be taking them in less than two months, but because he wanted to get everything else out of his mind. He knew Ginny wanted to talk to him. Hermione had told him so. He wasn’t trying to avoid Ginny either. Every time he would try to talk with her in private, something else would come into play. Like yesterday, he was going to try to talk to Ginny during dinner in the Great Hall, but Ginny had eaten and left the Great Hall in a hurry. Harry figured Ginny as trying to avoid him. But then why did Hermione say she wanted to talk to him so badly?

“Women,” Harry muttered, opening the curtains around his four-poster bed, “Can’t live with them. Can’t live without them.”

“Whatever you say, dear,” the mirror said, sleepily.

Harry rolled his eyes and quickly dressed into his school robes. He packed the books and parchment hastily into his bag, then took his wand from the bedside table and put it in his pocket. He then left the room and went downstairs to the Common Room. The Common Room was almost empty except for a person with ginger-red hair sitting on the couch in front of the fire. Harry sighed and put down his bag. He walked over to the couch.

“Hi, Ginny,” Harry said.

“Hi, Harry,” Ginny said, without turning around.

“Why aren’t you in the Great Hall?” Harry asked, even though he knew the answer already.

“Because I was waiting for you,” Ginny said, “I have been trying to talk to you. But…”

“Every time you spoke up,” Harry said, “Something stopped you. Yeah, I know the feeling.”

Harry walked around the couch and sat next to Ginny.

“I tried to talk to you at dinner, Ginny,” he said, “But you ate so fast, you made Ron look slow.”

“I had to go to a meeting with McGonagall,” Ginny said, “And I was already running late.”

“Why did you… never mind,” Harry said, “We can talk now.”

“Don’t you want to go to breakfast?” Ginny asked.

“No,” Harry lied, “I think we should talk.”

“You don’t have to explain to me what happened at the Quidditch game, Harry,” Ginny said, “Hermione told me it wasn’t your fault.”

“Please don’t say it was your fault either,” Harry said, “You did brilliantly. We would have definitely won if…”

“It really doesn’t matter that we lost, Harry,” Ginny said, “Really.”

Harry was surprised at this comment.

“What is wrong, Ginny?” Harry asked, “I thought you would be mad at me.”

“You’re right,” Ginny said, “Before yesterday, I would have been mad at you. In fact, I probably was mad at you. But that was only because I thought you ruined my chances at becoming a professional Quidditch player.”

“So what changed your mind?” Harry asked.

“Last night, Professor McGonagall invited me to her office,” Ginny said, smiling, “Gwenog Jones showed up after me. Well, she told me that she thought I did very well. Basically there is still a very good chance that I can make the professional Quidditch league.”

“That’s great!” Harry said.

“There was something else though,” Ginny said.

“Uh-oh,” Harry said, wincing.

“Oh, no, nothing to do with Quidditch,” Ginny said, “I’m supposed to only tell this to people who I trust.”

“Oh, then I don’t know if I qualify in that category,” Harry said, joking.

“Do you want me to tell you or not?” Ginny asked.

“Yeah, go on,” Harry said.

“McGonagall doesn’t trust Professor Browne,” Ginny said.

“Well, that is no secret!” Harry said, chortling, “You can see it in her expression whenever she and Browne are in the same room.”

“She doesn’t think he is fit for his job as Headmaster,” Ginny said, “But she can’t find a way to prove it. I mean… he isn’t acting out of the ordinary, is he?”

“It is hard to say,” Harry said, shrugging, “We don’t know him that well.”

“We don’t,” Ginny said, “But McGonagall does.”

“What do you mean?” Harry asked.

“Professor McGonagall first met Browne shortly after she graduated from Hogwarts,” Ginny said, “At a convention of some sort.”

“Ah, so depending on how well she knows him,” Harry said, “She could say whether or not he is acting out of the ordinary.”

“I don’t think they have talked that much recently,” Ginny said, “She said she didn’t know much about his family. He rarely mentions them, I guess.”

“Yeah,” Harry said, “I did think it was strange when he set the family portrait face-down.”

“That is exactly what McGonagall said when I mentioned it to her,” Ginny said.

Harry didn’t say anything but stared into the fireplace.

“I’m glad we are talking again,” Ginny said.

“I agree,” Harry said, “It felt very strange not talking to you.”

“What could you ever do without me?” Ginny asked.

“Well, study, for one thing,” Harry said.

Ginny raised her eyebrows.

“Yeah,” Harry said, “I’ve been doing a lot of studying for my N.E.W.T exams.”

“I’ve been thinking about that,” Ginny said, “It is going to be strange being her by myself for the remainder of the year.”

“You won’t be here by yourself,” Harry said, “Besides, I think you will be too busy to even notice. What with finding a new Quidditch team, and devising new plans for the final game. Plus you will have to study for the N.E.W.Ts.”

“Ugh,” Ginny said, “Don’t remind me. I don’t think I could do the N.E.W.T exams in December even if I wanted to.”

“Speaking of,” Harry said, “I wonder if your brother has even started studying.”

“That’s Hermione’s job to make sure he does,” Ginny said.

“He’d probably be too distracted by Hermione herself,” Harry said.

Ginny laughed. “Well, if he doesn’t pass the exams,” she said, “He will have to come back and do them again. I don’t think he wants to do that.”

“You’re probably right,” Harry said, laughing.

He stared into the fire again, and heard his stomach rumble.

“I think we need to go to the Great Hall,” he said.

“Oh, can’t we just wait a few more minutes,” Ginny said, snuggling up beside Harry, “I’ve missed this. I’ve missed you.”

“I’ve missed you too,” Harry said.

Ginny smiled and leaned in to Harry and kissed him.

“I love you,” she said.

“I love you too,” Harry said.

Harry’s stomach rumbled again.

“I don’t think my stomach loves you though,” he said, laughing, “Especially since you are delaying breakfast. Ow!”

Ginny had punched him playfully in the stomach.

“Fine,” Ginny said, sighing, “Let’s go down to the Great Hall.”

Harry and Ginny both stood up. Ginny grabbed her bag which was next to the couch, and Harry grabbed his, and they started the journey to the Great Hall.

Harry and Ginny expected Ron and Hermione (Hermione, especially!) to be pleased that they were speaking to each other again. However, Ron and Hermione were not at breakfast. Harry and Ginny didn’t see them until they walked into the dungeons toward the Potions class room. Hermione and Ron were waiting at the door.

“Ha! I told you Ron!” Hermione said, playfully slapping him in the shoulder. “You lose the bet.”

“Bet?” Harry asked, while Ron scowled, “What bet? What is going on?”

“I knew that Ginny had stayed behind to wait for you, Harry,” Hermione said, “And I figured you would two would finally have enough sense to talk to each other. Seeing that you two are together like this, I expect I was right.”

“Yes,” Ginny said, “We talked to each other, and decided that it was stupid to be mad at each other.”

“So what was this bet?” Harry asked, again.

“Ron has been begging me to help him study for the N.E.W.Ts,” Hermione said, “For some reason, he thought that you two still wouldn’t have got the nerve to talk to each other, and that you would be avoiding each other. So I bet him that if he was wrong, he would have to study all by himself without asking me for help.”

Ginny and Harry laughed while Ron scowled, and retreated into the Potion’s classroom.

“You are going to end up helping him, you know?” Harry asked.

“We’ll see about that,” Hermione said.

“No, I think Harry is right, Hermione,” Ginny said, “We all know you can’t resist Ron’s charm.”

“I can if I want!” Hermione said, rolling her eyes and walking into the Potions classroom.

“I don’t think she knows what she is up against,” Ginny said.

“What are you talking about?” Harry asked.

“You never saw Ron do his patented ‘puppy dog eyes’ trick, have you?” Ginny asked.

“Puppy dog eyes?” Harry said, laughing, “What do you mean?”

“When Ron was younger,” Ginny said, “Years before he met you. He was probably around seven or so. He would try to get Mum to do stuff for him. Well, it wasn’t working until he figured out how to do the trick. Mum fell for it right away. Fred and George were jealous. They couldn’t believe they hadn’t thought of it first.”

“Why hasn’t Ron used this trick before?” Harry asked.

“Mum scolded him for it a couple years later,” Ginny said, laughing at the memory, “She made his face stick like that, and then he promised he wouldn’t do it ever again.”

Harry laughed out loud.

“Now, now,” a voice said, “What is so funny?!”

Harry turned around. Professor Browne was standing there.

“Er… nothing, sir,” Harry said.

“I thought so,” Browne said, "Shouldn't you be in class?"

Harry was about to respond, but another voice spoke up.

“Headmaster?” the voice said, “What brings you to this part of the castle?”

Harry looked behind Browne. Professor Slughorn was standing there.

“I was… err… looking for Mr. Filch,” Browne said, “I need his advice.”

“I am not sure that Argus Filch is the man for the job, Headmaster,” Slughorn said.

“He is the one who does maintenance work around here, is he not?” Browne asked.

“Yes, that would be him,” Slughorn said.

“Then, yes,” Browne said, “I think he is certainly the man for the job.”

“His office,” Slughorn said, “If you could call it an office… is up on the main floor. Near a statue of a Warthog. Can’t miss it, sir.”

“Thank you,” Browne said.

Browne took another glance at Harry, then walked off.

“Harry, m’boy!” Slughorn said, walking toward him, “Shouldn’t you be in class?”

“Potions is next, sir,” Harry said, “I was about to go in.”

“Of course, of course!” Slughorn said, “Let’s go in then!”

Slughorn walked into the room, and Harry and Ginny followed. Harry and Ginny took their usual seats near the front of the classroom. Ron and Hermione were already sitting at their table. Professor Slughorn walked up to the front of the room and waited patiently until every student had taken their seat. He then cleared his throat to make sure he had the complete attention of everyone and began.

“I don't really have a lesson planned,” Slughorn said, “So this is what I want you all to do. You will partner up with the person you are sitting with, and you will be making a potion. There is no exact potion that I want you to make, just any kind of potion. But I want you to surprise me. I want you to amuse me. If you successfully do this, you will get top grades! Because I assume that your potion will take up all the time this class has to offer, you may begin whenever you are ready.”

Slughorn became silent, and everyone else took this as a time to start.

“What do you think we should do?” Ginny asked Harry, as she took out her book and began sorting through the other things needed for potions.

Harry didn't have the slightest idea. He took a glance over at Ron and Hermione's table. Ron looked utterly confused, but Hermione was already searching for a potion in her book.

“Harry?” Ginny said.

“I don't know,” Harry shrugged.

Ginny sighed. “Well, go get some ingredients that we don't have with us from the cupboard,” she said, “and I will look for a potion.”

Harry hastily stood up and walked over to the potions cupboard. Seamus Finnegan was already over there.

“What should I get?” Seamus muttered to himself, “Oh, hi, Harry.”

“Hi,” Harry said, taking a glance at the cupboards full of ingredients.

“I guess you and Ginny made up?” Seamus asked.

“Er.. yeah,” Harry said.

“Has she talked to you about Quidditch yet?” Seamus asked.

“Sort of,” Harry said.

“I just wanted to know if she heard that our next game will be in early December,” Seamus said, “We will be against Slytherin. Just wanted to know when the next practice will be.”

“I will ask her later,” Harry said, “So I guess you are staying on the team then?”

“Yeah, I thought I should,” Seamus said, “I mean, as long as the N.E.W.T exams go well, I will be leaving Hogwarts in December.”

“Yeah, same here,” Harry said.

“So I figured why not have a little fun before I leave,” Seamus said, “Ah! Here we go.”

Seamus grabbed a handful of ingredients and left the storage room. Harry resumed his search, and as he did, Ron walked over.

“I don't honestly know what ingredients to get,” Ron muttered.

“Yeah,” Harry said, “Me either.”

“Hermione didn't tell me what potion she was thinking of making,” Ron said, “How am I supposed to know what ingredients to bring over?”

“Yeah, I know,” Harry said, “Ginny didn't tell me what she had planned either.”

“Do you think it will be an Antidote,” Ron said, eyeing the bezoars and taking a few.

“The potion is supposed to amuse Slughorn,” Harry said, “Not poison him.”

“Yeah,” Ron muttered, “Right. Well, I am just going to grab a few things and hope it pleases Hermione.”

Ron took a few ingredients from random boxes and walked back to the desk. Harry, not having the faintest idea what to get, imitated Ron and walked back over to his desk. Ginny had already taken out the cauldron as well as vials and baggies of ingredients.

“Took you long enough,” Ginny muttered, “I figured out a potion. Apparently, from the effect it has, it is similar to Sleakeasy's Hair Potion.”

Harry looked at Slughorn and imagined him with long hair. He laughed silently.

“Sounds brilliant!” Harry said.

“Thanks,” Ginny said, “But let's get started. What did you bring over?”

Ginny rummaged through the ingredients, and Harry was relieved that she was slightly impressed.

“Well, at least we won't poison him,” Ginny said, chortling.

She waved her wand in circles while pouring some clear, smoking, liquid into the cauldron. She instructed Harry to start cutting up some of the herbs.

Over the next hour, the potion's color went from clear and watery-like, to grey and thick. At one point it also started turning different colors each second, and looked similar to the colors of a rainbow. When the potion was finally done, it was a dark yellow.

“Pour your potions into a vial,” Slughorn instructed, “And wait for me to come around. Mr. Potter, Miss Weasley, yours will be the first to be judged!”

Ginny poured the potion into a vial, while Harry used the Cleaning Charm to clean up everything else. He took a glance over at Hermione and Ron's table. Hermione was pouring an aqua-colored substance into her vial. Ron was looking at the vial, and Harry knew he was wondering if it would explode. Slughorn walked over to Harry and Ginny's table.

“This looks marvelous,” he said, “Now, do not worry about poisoning me. I have all the precautions ready.”

Slughorn picked up the vial and sniffed it, then took a big gulp. He swished it around in his mouth and smiled, then gulped it down.

“Goes down the gullet quite well!” Slughorn said.

Harry, Ginny, and everyone else waited and watched for the effects. Suddenly, a puff of smoke erupted around Slughorn's head and Harry gasped as he looked at Ginny. Ginny, however, looked quite pleased. Slughorn sputtered and he became visible once more. Except he looked quite different. He had shoulder-length hair that was the color of the potion. Slughorn smiled and summoned a mirror. He took a quick glance.

“Oho!” Slughorn laughed, “I've always wanted to be a blonde! How marvelous! Full points to the both of you!”

Slughorn waved his wand, and he went back to the normal white hair and a slight bald spot. He then walked over to Ron and Hermione's desk.

“Appearance is good,” Slughorn said, as he picked the vial up.

Without saying another word, he drank the potion in one gulp. Slughorn tried to talk, but suddenly, bubbles started to come out of his mouth. Whenever he tried to say something, more bubbles would come. Ron looked horrified, but Hermione smiling from ear to ear. Slughorn smiled and rummaged around his pocket for something. He took out a small corked vial and removed the cork. He then gulped the contents down.

“Wonderful!” he said, after a moment.

No bubbles escaped from his mouth.

“Very amusing!” he said, “I had never seen that before! Full marks to the both of you.”

Slughorn spent the next few minutes going around to the other desks. Seamus and Lavender got an Acceptable because they had nearly poisoned Slughorn. One potion made Slughorn’s voice squeak so that he sounded like a mouse, while another one gave Slughorn a very long tail and made his fingernails into long claws. Another potion exploded when Slughorn picked up the vial. When the bell rang, Slughorn was thoroughly impressed as he bid everyone farewell.

After Herbology, which was another successful class in which Neville had taught, it was time for lunch in the Great Hall. As Harry and the others walked back to the castle, one of the seventh year Ravenclaws pointed behind Harry. Harry turned around. A thestral-bound carriages was making its way through the gate.

“What is going on?” Ron asked.

“No idea,” Harry said, “But I have a feeling we should get to the Great Hall.”

By the time Harry and the others made their way to the Great Hall, it was packed with students. It was only during Beginning of Term and End of Term feasts that the hall was this packed. Every one of the professors were seated at the table. When Harry sat down at the Gryffindor Table, there was already a conversation going on.

“That is what the rumor is anyways,” Dennis Creevey said.

“What rumor?” Harry asked.

“Apparently there is going to be a big announcement in a few minutes,” Dennis said, “Why else do you think the Hall is packed like this.”

“Dennis is right,” Neville said, “I was talking to Professor Sprout, and she said that Headmaster Browne wanted everyone in the Great Hall.”

“What could it be?” Ginny asked.

Before anyone could take a guess, Professor Browne had stood up from his chair. Every student became silent as if a charm had been cast over the Great Hall. Most students were already looking at the Headmaster.

“I see that there is already rumors about an apparent announcement,” Browne said, “And I would like to say that those rumors are right. I do have a couple of announcements. First, for those students who are deemed ‘eighth-years’ by their peers, there will be a meeting on Friday after breakfast. As you probably know by now, your N.E.W.T exams will be taking place during the last week of term. For those who wish to take your N.E.W.Ts then, I want you to be present at here in the Great Hall on Friday.”

Professor Browne paused, and as he did, the large oak doors opened. Argus Filch walked in and nodded to Browne, who nodded back. Argus walked out, and Browne addressed the students again.

“As you are all aware,” Browne said, “Over the last few weeks, the Quidditch scouts have been guests here. Well, very recently, one of the scouts, Samuel Simmons has become ill. Unfortunately, Madam Pomfrey has said that he has become to ill to continue his work here at Hogwarts. So he is being replaced.”

Some of the students began talking to each other. Browne raised his wand and the students became silent once again.

“Many of you students who have been here for a few years,” he continued, “will recognize this gentleman. Those of you who are Quidditch fans will definitely know who he is. This man was a guest here four years ago during the Triwizard Tournament.”

Ron groaned, and Harry knew right away who Professor Browne was talking about.

“So without further ado,” Browne said, “Will our new Quidditch scout come in?”

Every student turned to look at the door. Argus Filch walked back in, followed by a man with short black hair and a slight duck-footed walk.

“I am pleased to introduce,” Browne said, “Viktor Krum.”

Ron’s second groan was not heard over the eruption of applauding and cheering in the Great Hall.

What a way to end the chapter! I know this is a weird time to bring Viktor Krum in, but he will be a small part of the storyline. And you can be assured he will have something to do with Ron and Hermione.

Feedback would be great!

April 29th, 2008, 5:31 pm
Chapter 39
No Title

Author’s Note: This chapter (and perhaps the next) will be in Draco’s point-of-view. Ever since my last chapter was finished, reviewers have been hinting that they wanted to know what happened to Draco, and I have been thinking. These next couple of chapters will have to do with Draco and the Death Eaters. After that, we won’t see Draco or the Death Eaters again until sometime after the N.E.W.Ts are done. This chapter starts a few minutes after “Chapter 35: Sterling Lane” ended. Enjoy.

Trapped and useless.

That is what Draco felt like at this moment in time. He was sitting in the back of the Ford Anglia as it was noisily making its way back to London . Draco was blind-folded, gagged and his hands and legs were magically bound together. The only thing he could do was listen and smell, and since the latter was no use to him, he used his ears as if they were the most valuable thing in the world. It just so happened that Yaxley and Rookwood (who was actually the Auror Dawlish) had not used any magic to stop Draco from hearing anything.

Draco didn’t try any means of escape, and even if he did, he knew it would probably be useless. His captors were very smart people and he knew they would not let him go. Besides, he knew that he was safe as long as Dawlish was around. He may be trying to gain information on the Death Eaters, but Draco knew that it was Dawlish’s job to protect Draco if Dawlish wanted to keep his job. Draco knew that Dawlish was forming a plan in his head of a way to help him escape. Dawlish knew completely well that Atworthy (and probably a lot of other Aurors) were trying to find Draco at this very moment.

The only thing that was going through Draco’s mind was the fact that he would be reunited with his parents very soon, even if it wasn’t in the way he had originally planned. He just wanted to know that his parents were safe, and assure them that somehow he would set them free.

“What is going through your head, Rookwood?” a voice spoke up, “You have been silent ever since we started the trip.”

Draco knew this was Yaxley’s voice. His voice was coming from the left of Draco, which meant that Dawlish was the one who was driving.

“It’s just,” Dawlish said, “You told me that Avery said that the Ministry was on high alert.”

“Right,” Yaxley said.

“All because of a young man,” Dawlish said, “who had escaped their custody.”

Draco knew that Dawlish was looking at him through the rear-view mirror.

“Correct,” Yaxley said,” According to Avery, anyway. Where is this going?”

“Well, I would assume it was Malfoy, wouldn’t you?” Dawlish said, “The one who has escaped their custody, I mean.”

“That would be my first assumption, yes,” Yaxley said.

“How did the Ministry find out so quickly?” Dawlish asked, “We can only assume Malfoy escaped their custody today.”

“Whoever was keeping an eye on Malfoy must have found out that he was gone,” Yaxley said, “That isn’t what is worrying me, Rookwood.”

“Sir?” Dawlish asked.

“What is worrying me, Rookwood,” Yaxley said, “Is how Malfoy found the hide-out, and why he assumed that his parents were there.”

Dawlish didn’t answer.

“What do you have to say about that, Rookwood?” Yaxley asked.

“He must have tracked down someone,” Dawlish said.

“How do you suppose he could have done that?” Yaxley asked, “You are working at the Ministry, you tell me. How could a boy, who has been in a safe-house with nothing but the essentials and maybe a Daily Prophet or two, follow a Death Eater right to the house?”

“I wouldn’t know,” Dawlish said, “You know my history with the Ministry, sir. They don’t exactly put a lot of trust in me.”

“There is a reason I had searched for new members,” Yaxley said, “There is a reason why the rookies are the ones at the other headquarters. Nobody, especially the Ministry, knows that rookies are Death Eaters. That is what I planned on. We don’t want anyone coming to that house. Nobody can find out about those headquarters, Rookwood. The prisoners inside that house are a top priority in my plan.”

“I understand, sir,” Dawlish said.

“So why did Malfoy show up at that house?!” Yaxley said.

“I don’t know, sir,” Dawlish said.

“You don’t know,” Yaxley said.

“No,” Dawlish said, sounding troubled, “But we can ask him now.”

“Why didn’t you find out earlier?” Yaxley said, “Which brings up my next question. What did you find out?”

“Sir?” Dawlish asked.

“That rookie, Hoover, said you talked to Malfoy before I showed up,” Yaxley said, “What did you find out?”

Draco gulped. What would Dawlish say under this pressure? Would he ruin it for the both of them?

“Malfoy wouldn’t say anything,” Dawlish said.

“He didn’t say anything?” Yaxley said.

“He wanted to know where his parents were,” Dawlish said, “And when I didn’t answer, he refused to say anything unless I answered. I can assure you, sir. He thought his parents were at that house. He doesn’t know what exactly is in the house.”

“Really?” Yaxley asked.

Draco noticed that Yaxley sounded a lot calmer at this point.

“Hoover captured him before he could get inside,” Dawlish said, in a relieved tone, “There is no way he could know what is in that house.”

“No, I guess not,” Yaxley said.

“So what is your plan, sir?” Dawlish said.

“What?” Yaxley asked.

“Your plan?” Dawlish asked, “What are you going to do with the boy?”

“What I originally planned,” Yaxley said, “No matter how he much he doesn’t want to do it, the boy is going to persuade his father to join our cause again.”

“Why do we need Lucius Malfoy?” Dawlish said, with disgust, “Haven’t you heard about what Lucius and his wife did on the day of the Dark Lord’s downfall? Lucius was at Hogwarts, but he didn’t even want to join the battle. He wanted the Dark Lord to call the attack off because his boy was in the middle of it all. He became soft and weak, I tell you!”

“And what do you think Lucius will do under the persuasion that we are going to kill his son?” Yaxley asked.

“Cower and whimper?” Dawlish scoffed, “He’s no better than his wife.”

“Maybe,” Yaxley said, “But I believe it will work out in the end. You’ll see.”

“Can I ask you something, sir?” Dawlish asked.

“Sure,” Yaxley said, with a hint of regretting that statement.

“Why haven’t we done anything since the Azkaban riot?” Dawlish asked, “I’ve been hearing things at the Ministry, sir. If we are trying to keep our reputation up…”

“We’ve done enough, Rookwood,” Yaxley said, “And more will be done. I understand that you want to avenge the Dark Lord, as do I. We just have to wait for the opportune moment.”

“I understand, sir,” Dawlish said, “It”s just… with the Ministry on high alert, it seems more and more people will figure out that we are planning something. It is putting us in more danger every second.”

“I know what I am doing, Rookwood,” Yaxley said, “No more questions. Tell me when we get to London. I am tired and I need to rest my eyes.”

�Yes, sir,� Dawlish said.

Neither Dawlish nor Yaxley said any more. However, Draco could hear Yaxley's snores after a while. He also thought he could hear the sloshing of liquid. After a moment, he realized what he had heard. The drive to London would probably take a while, and the Polyjuice Potion would wear off if Dawlish didn't take any more.

With nothing else interesting to listen to, Draco was left to his thoughts. He decided to think about what he had heard in the conversation between Yaxley and Dawlish. Was Dawlish speaking as Rookwood, or as himself? Was he ordered by the Ministry to ask these things? Or did they just come out of his own thoughts?

Then there was the discussion about his own parents. Draco had heard quite clearly what Dawlish said about his father. Was this part of Dawlish's plan, or was he actually trying to save Draco's parents? Why does Yaxley want his father anyway? Draco knew that his father wasn't that strong. He didn't have the influence and power above the Ministry anymore. Everyone in the wizarding world knew that Lucius Malfoy was a traitor...

Draco's eyes seemed heavy and he could not concentrate on his thoughts anymore. He was exhausted. He hadn't been able to sleep very well since his capture. He laid his head back against the uncomfortable seat and closed his eyes. He thought of his parents and they were the last thing on his mind before he drifted off to sleep.

Draco was wakened by a sharp jab on his shoulder.

“Oi, wake up!” Dawlish said, “Who said you could drift off to sleep?!”

Draco opened his eyes and thought for a moment it was night. Then he remembered he was blind-folded.

“W-what?” Draco tried to say, but all that came out was a muffled sound.

“We're here,” Dawlish said.

“Come on, Rookwood!” Yaxley ordered, “Get the boy out!”

Draco felt a sudden tug and he was lifted out of the car and slammed to the ground.

“Be careful with him!” Yaxley said, “We need him to be uninjured, you got it? Unbind his legs. He can walk now. I assure you, he won't run away. If he knows what's good for him, anyway.”

Draco heard a mutter from Dawlish and then felt his legs freed of their bindings.

“Can I go to the loo?” Dawlish asked, “It was a straight drive for almost three hours.”

“Help me get him to the cellar,” Yaxley said, “Then you can go.”

“Come on, you,” Dawlish said, roughly.

Draco felt a firm grasp on his shoulder and he was forced to walk up a hill.

“Sir!” came a voice, “Thank goodness you are here! We've heard rumors, sir.”

“I believe you can see that I am busy at the moment,” Yaxley said, “If these rumors are about the Ministry being on high alert, then yes, I already know.”

“You do?” the voice said.

Draco could tell this was a man.

“Fine, I give,” Yaxley said, “What did you hear?”

The man stammered. Yaxley sighed.

“The ministry hasn't found us or anything like that, right?” he said.

“N-no, sir,” the man said, “At least I don’t think so, sir.”

“Then what ever you have to tell me can wait,” Yaxley said, “I have other business as you can see. Who is guarding the prisoners in the cellar?”

“Selwyn and Jugson, sir,” the voice said.

“Good,” Yaxley said, “Come on, Rookwood.”

Draco was prodded in the back and he moved forward.

“Rookies,” scoffed Yaxley, “If I didn't need them, I would kill some just because they annoy me.”

Dawlish laughed and continued to prod Draco. A few minutes later, after walking down a set of stairs, Yaxley spoke up again.

“You can take your bathroom break,” Yaxley said.

“You will be okay with him?” Dawlish asked.

“He has no wand, and he is tied up,” Yaxley said, “What do you think?”

Dawlish said nothing, but Draco heard receeding footsteps, and he knew that Dawlish had left him.

“Idiot,” Yaxley muttered.

Yaxley said something under his breath and suddenly, the blindfold and gag fell away from Draco. Draco blinked until his eyes were adjusted to the little light that barely filled the room. He looked over his shoulder. Yaxley was standing behind him.

“See that door, boy?” he asked.

Draco turned and he noticed a normal wooden door.

“Yeah,” Draco said.

“Beyond that is the wine cellar,” Yaxley said, “Where we hold our prisoners.”

“My parents,” Draco said.

“As well as another person,” Yaxley said, “If you cooperate, this will be your new home. You will get what you wished. You can be with your parents. But you must cooperate.”

“I know what you want me to do,” Draco said, “You want me to convince my father to join the Death Eaters again.”

“Very good,” Yaxley said, “Keep that in your mind and you will do nicely. Open the door.”

Draco reached out to the door handle and turned it. The door opened, and Yaxley prodded him in the back.

“Go in,” Yaxley ordered, “Your parents will want to see you.”

Draco walked into the room. He heard his parents' voices before he saw him.

“My dear boy!” Narcissa said, half-sobbing, “Lucius, Draco is here! They captured him!”

Draco looked to his left. Two separate, adjoined cells were against the cement wall. His father, who before this point was laying down staring up at the ceiling, was sitting up and looking at Draco with a blank stare. His mother looked mad, her hair sticking up in all places, her clothes were dirty and she had tears pouring down her face.

“Be quiet you two!” one of the two guards said.

Draco noticed the two guards in the middle of the room. He recognized both of them. Jugson was the guard who had given the order, and Selwyn was sitting in one of the chairs reading a Daily Prophet and looking bored with the current situation.

“I said, be quiet!” Jugson said, mainly to Narcissa who was still sobbing. “Or I will feed your son to the werewolf!”

If Jugson had not pointed at the cell on the other side of the room, Draco would not have noticed it. He was horrified as he saw Fenrir Greyback laying on his bed. He was grinning at Draco with hungry eyes.

“You will do no such thing, Jugson,” Yaxley said, “Draco is our guest today. He is going to be doing a little job for me. In fact, I excuse you from your duty.”

At this remark, Selwyn looked up.

“Not you, Selwyn,” Yaxley said, “Doesn't look like you have been doing anything anyway.”

“Sir?” Jugson said.

“Leave, Jugson,” Yaxley said, “Rookwood will be coming down in a few minutes. He can take your job. Besides, I need you to talk to the guard out front. The Ministry being on high alert seems to have struck some fear into him.”

“Yes, sir,” Jugson said.

Jugson immediately left the room and shut the door.

“That is this about the Ministry being on high alert? ”Selwyn asked.

“I would like to know about that too,” Lucius said.

“f course you would,” Yaxley said, “It just so happens that your son was in their custody until very recently. He found some way to escape and ended up in our hands. Now the Ministry has found out about his disappearance.”

“Then let him go! ”Lucius said, “I am the one you want! Draco has nothing to do with this!”

“I think Malfoy has a bit of a point, sir,” Selwyn said, “This disappearance only makes us look guilty. It puts us in danger!”

“It will put us in more danger if we let the boy go, you fool!” Yaxley said, “Lucius doesn't care about us. He just wants to make sure his son is safe!”

“So that’s it,” Draco said, “You were never going to let me go.”

“How can you be so sure of that?” Yaxley asked.

“Well,” Draco said, “You just said –“

“I may change my mind,” Yaxley said, “If you do what I ask of you.”

“What do you want Draco to do?” Lucius said, “I will take his place.”

“We are getting somewhere now,” Yaxley said, “You see, Lucius, I am getting tired of you rejecting my invitation back into the Death Eaters. Fortunately, that is where Draco comes in. You see, Lucius, if you do not join the Death Eaters, your son will be forced to be a Death Eater. And with the Ministry getting smarter, I am sure you know what will happen if they find Draco and it turns out he is one of us.”

“Draco will never join you!” Narcissa said, furious, “And neither will we!

“Hush, Narcissa!” Lucius said.
“Lucius, what are doing?” Narcissa asked, “You know what they want from us!”

Lucius ignored his wife and looked directly at Yaxley.

“Let me talk to my son,” Lucius said, “Alone. Then I will decide what to do.”

Yaxley didn’t say anything, but he looked as if he was pondering Lucius’ request.

“All right,” he said.

He dragged Draco over to the front of the cell, and opened it quickly, then pushed Draco in, and locked the cell again. Meanwhile, Dawlish had returned.

“What is going on?” Dawlish asked.

“I am going to let Lucius and Draco decide their fate,” Yaxley said, simply.

Draco panicked. What was he going to do? He didn’t want to see his father become a Death Eater once again, and he didn’t want to become a Death Eater. There was no way out of this. He looked at Dawlish. Could he save them? Did he have any plan to rescue them?

Suddenly, Draco remembered the conversation Dawlish had with him. He didn’t exactly care what had happened to Draco. Didn’t he say it was Draco’s own fault that he got in this mess? Didn’t Dawlish respect his job more than he wanted Draco free? This anger came into Draco from nowhere, and Draco felt as if he was about to explode. Dawlish had promised that he would get his parents out of here!

“You and Selwyn guard the prisoners,” Yaxley said, “Alert me when they come to a decision. If they don’t come to one, you know what to do.”

“Rookwood isn’t who you think he is!” Draco said, suddenly.

Dawlish’s eyes went wide, and Yaxley turned around.

“What did you say?” he asked Draco.

Dawlish suddenly laughed, though it seemed forced..

“The boy didn’t say anything, sir,” he said, “This imprisonment has made him crazy. Maybe I should get him something to eat. He will be fine, then.”

“I said Rookwood isn’t who you think he is,” Draco said, “That isn’t even Augustus Rookwood. He is a spy from the Ministry.”

“You don’t believe him, sir?!” Dawlish said, “The boy is mad! He is trying to find a way out. If we fight, then he can –“

“Stupefy!” Selwyn yelled.

The spell hit Dawlish directly in the chest, and Dawlish collapsed to the ground. Yaxley looked at the stunned figure, then at Selwyn.

“I’m sorry,” Selwyn said frightened, as if he knew he did something wrong, “I thought –“

“You did very well, Selwyn,” Yaxley interrupted, “Take him away to a empty room and tie him up. If the boy is telling the truth, the Polyjuice Potion’s effects will go away soon. And tell Jugson to get back down here!

“Yes, sir,” Selwyn said.

He picked up Dawlish and walked out of the room.

“If you aren’t telling the truth, Draco,” Yaxley said, turning to him, “Well, you just better hope you are.”

Yaxley left the room.

“Draco!” Narcissa said.

She grabbed him and hugged him tightly.

“Why did you do that?” Lucius asked, still staring at the spot where Dawlish had fallen.

Draco stared at the same spot.

“I have no idea,” he said.

And for once, he was telling the complete truth. He had no reason why he had just revealed the identity of the one person that could free him and his parents of their wretched prison.

CLIFFHANGER! This is one of my favorite cliffhangers so far. Next chapter may take a while, but I have a lot in my head.

Hope you liked it!

Feedback would be great!

May 17th, 2008, 6:15 pm
Chapter 40
A Traitor in The Midst

Author’s Note: Sorry for the delay. Recently I have started writing a movie script, and unfortunately this fan-fiction has dropped in priority. I will try to update my story whenever I can. Here is the next chapter. This chapter will be in two Point-Of-Views: Dawlish's and Draco's.

(Dawlish's PoV)

Dawlish opened his eyes, but he could not see anything. Where ever he was, it was pitch black. He could not hear anything at all. No voices, no footsteps, no breathing. Nothing. His head throbbed, and his mind jolted into the last memory he had.

It was in the wine cellar of the headquarters of the Death Eaters. Draco Malfoy had been captured and was now the prisoner of the Death Eaters, along with his parents and Fenrir Greyback. Dawlish remembered that he had just come back from the bathroom, after taking another vial-full of Polyjuice Potion. He was planning to get the Malfoys out of their mess and was in the middle of his plan when Draco had given away his identity. But why?

Dawlish growled as he felt more pain from his pounding headache. He tried to put his hand up to his head, but he couldn't move them. They were tied behind his back. He realized what was going on. Selwyn had stunned him, whether it was on Yaxley's orders or not. Yaxley must have decided to see if Draco was telling the truth. That was why he, Dawlish, was in this predicament. It was a waiting game. Yaxley would be coming back. He was just waiting for the Polyjuice Potion to wear off.

Hope left Dawlish and fear remained. What would happen to him when Yaxley confronted him? Dawlish knew everyone of Yaxley's plans, because Yaxley had trusted him, thinking he was Augustus Rookwood. And just hours before...

Dawlish sighed. Was it hours? It seemed longer.

Just hours before, Dawlish had heard Yaxley in his panicked state. He thought his two biggest secrets, secrets that could win or lose the war, were revealed to the Ministry of Magic. What would Yaxley do to Dawlish once he found out that the Ministry was discovering all of these secrets because of someone that he thought he trusted turned out to be an undercover Auror?

Dawlish's mind returned to thoughts on Draco Malfoy. Why had the boy revealed who he was? Had he become panicked by the current circumstances and that the truth would help him. If it was that indeed, then Draco was a foolish boy. Yaxley wasn't going to let Draco go. Not after Draco knew where the other headquarters were. But why now? Why, after trusting him, did Draco give him up? Did he ever trust him? Dawlish tried to remember why Draco wouldn't trust him. There was that moment when Draco was first captured. Draco had tried to tell him that he needed to free him. Why didn't he listen? Maybe that is why Draco gave him up.

Dawlish regained his composure and knew he had to find a way out. If he didn't, then he would surely be killed today. Yaxley would make sure that Dawlish wouldn't have a chance to tell the Ministry any more of his secrets. Dawlish knew this. He would be a fool to think any different.

Suddenly and unexpectedly, bright lights turned on all around Dawlish. Dawlish closed his eyes and opened them slowly so he could adjust them to the light. The light wasn't so bright after all, but that wasn't the first thing on his mind. He knew Yaxley, or another Death Eater, must be coming. He expected a door to open, but as he looked around the room in which he was prisoned, he couldn't find a door. In fact, for a moment he doubted there was a door. All around the walls, mirrors were lined up so that all Dawlish could see was himself. Even the ceiling, now that he saw it, was a large mirror.

He gazed at himself, and to his horror, he realized that the transformation back into himself was already taking place. He could still see traces of Augustus Rookwood, but they would be gone soon. If Yaxley or another Death Eater walked in, they would know then that it wasn't Augustus Rookwood they were talking to. It wasn't Rookwood that they had confided in. That they had given their biggest secrets to.

Dawlish looked at himself, and he realized that he was sitting on a plain wooden chair. The bindings on his hands, however, were magical. He then knew that escape was practically impossible. Without his wand, Dawlish couldn't remove the magical bindings which prisoned him. And even if he did get out of his bindings, there was probably no way out. The door, if there was a door, was probably a one-way. It could be opened from the outside. Dawlish realized that this room was definitely some kind of torture chamber. It wasn't meant to harm the prisoner physically, but mentally, so that when they were interrogated, their mind would cave in. Dawlish knew what it was. As an Auror, he knew when he first saw it. A prison of this kind... it was more useful on a victim then Veritaserum any day! No matter how he tried to avoid the thought, he knew that he was the victim.

”Come on, then!” he yelled, “If you are coming in, then get in here! Let's get this over with!”

He didn't know if anyone could hear him, and even if someone did, it would probably be a Death Eater. But he didn't care. If today would be the day of his death, he was sure as hell not going to be spending it doing nothing!

Suddenly, a portion of the mirrored wall opened up and Dawlish knew this was the door. Dawlish could see a face, and he knew whose it was. Selwyn. The man that he thought he could trust. The man that befriended him when he was disguised as Augustus Rookwood. Now that the disguise was gone, there was no way predicting what Selwyn would do. Wasn’t he the one who had stunned him in the first place?!

“Kill me if that is what you are planning on!” Dawlish growled in a low voice, “I am not afraid of you!”

Selwyn grinned and closed the door, though Dawlish didn’t know if the door was completely shut. Were the walls soundproof on both sides? Was the door left slightly ajar so Dawlish could hear everything? Was Selwyn helping him? Or did Selwyn fancy hearing Dawlish yelling uselessly until his voice was raw?!

Dawlish looked at the door for a few tense moments, fearing, but hoping at the same time, that someone would come into the room. He hated being alone. He hated waiting for whatever was going to come.

After a few minutes he heard voices. He recognized both of them: Yaxley and Selwyn.

“Well?” Yaxley asked, “What is it, Selwyn? I am a busy man. The Malfoys still have yet to give me a decision, and I can’t wait much longer.”

“It seems the Malfoy boy was right, sir,” Selwyn said, “I just checked in on the prisoner, and it isn’t a very pretty sight. It definitely isn’t Augustus Rookwood. Whoever it is, the process of the effects Polyjuice Potion is taking a long time to wear off.”

“It doesn’t matter!” Yaxley growled, “He isn’t a Death Eater, so he must be a spy.”

“For the Ministry, you reckon?” Selwyn asked.

“Who else do you think it would be?” Yaxley sneered.

“I don’t know,” Selwyn said, “Where do you think the real Augustus Rookwood is?”

“I don’t know,” Yaxley said, “But I will add that to the long list of questions that I am going to ask!”

Then everything went silent. Dawlish knew what was coming next. He had no defense for it. He was going to be interrogated by Yaxley. Fear raced through Dawlish again. Was Yaxley a skilled Legilimens? Or would he simply stuff Veritaserum down Dawlish’s throat?

The door opened again and Yaxley walked in, followed by Selwyn. Yaxley glared at Dawlish. Dawlish knew that the Polyjuice Potion was wearing down and that he would soon be himself once again. But he wondered if Yaxley even knew who he was? Could he play it that he wasn’t a part of the Ministry?

Yaxley walked over to Dawlish and stared into his eyes. SMACK! Yaxley hit Dawlish’s left cheek with a fisted hand.

“Who sent you?” Yaxley said.

Dawlish didn’t answer. He just stared at Yaxley, then looked at Selwyn.

“Selwyn isn’t going to help you, spy!” Yaxley said, “Who sent you?!”

“I came on my own accord,” Dawlish lied.

“A likely story,” Selwyn said, “What about all those times you were making up excuses that the Ministry of Magic needed you to be back?”

“Quiet, Selwyn,” Yaxley instructed.

“B-but, sir,” Selwyn stammered.

“I said quiet!” Yaxley yelled.

Selwyn opened his mouth, but closed it a quickly. Yaxley walked behind Dawlish, who felt very vulnerable.

“You know,” Yaxley sneered, “Selwyn does have a point.”

Dawlish looked at Selwyn. He was grinning from ear to ear.

“I have lost count,” Yaxley continued, “when it comes to the times that you had to leave quickly because of some Ministry business. Was it because the Polyjuice Potion was wearing off?”

Yaxley walked around to the front of Dawlish, put his hands on the arms of the chair and stared into Dawlish’s eyes.

“Or was it because you really had to go to the Ministry?!” Yaxley asked.

Dawlish didn’t answer. Yaxley stood up straight.

“Maybe it was both,” he said, “What have you been telling the Ministry?!”

Dawlish kept silent. Yaxley slapped him across the face again.

“You aren’t going to answer any of my questions,” Yaxley said, “Are you?”

“I think you already know most of the answers, Yaxley,” Dawlish said, “So why don’t you just kill me now. That is what you are going to do in the end, aren’t you?”

“You aren’t going to let him talk to you like that?” Selwyn said, “Are you, sir?”

“Quiet!” Yaxley instructed him for a third time, “He wants to talk.”

He turned back to Dawlish.

“I haven’t made my decision whether I am going to kill you or not, actually,” he said, “You may be of some use to me.”

“I will never join you!” Dawlish growled.

“But didn’t you say that you had come of your own accord?” Yaxley asked, sneering, “So it was your decision to come to us. Even if you were disguised as Augustus Rookwood.”

“Hmmph,” Dawlish said, “I am not going to say anything of use to you, Yaxley. So why don’t you just kill me? I know what I got myself into when I came here.”

Yaxley’s sneer turned into a growl, and Dawlish just grinned. He didn’t know why, but he knew he had to continue.

“I know your secrets, Yaxley,” Dawlish said, “That family up in the other headquarters. They are the wife and children of the current Headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. You are trying to blackmail the man. You want him to do something for you. And I think I know exactly what that is. You are afraid of the boy who killed Voldemort, aren’t you?”

“Arrgh! Shut up!” Yaxley yelled, as he slapped Dawlish across the face with a hard fist.

The attack didn’t stop Dawlish, but gave him another reason to go forward: he was making Yaxley mad. This is exactly what he wanted to do.

“That isn’t the only thing you are planning, Yaxley, is it?” Dawlish continued, “You are reforming the Death Eaters. Trying to bring them back for a surprise attack. That’s why you haven’t done anything since the Azkaban Riot. You only attacked Azkaban because you needed more to join your ranks. But tell me this… you don’t think that is enough, do you? You need the Malfoys? Don’t you!”

Dawlish expected another attack, but Yaxley just grinned.

“Good job,” Yaxley said, “Very good. You seem to know everything, don’t you? Tell me this, then. Do you know why I need the Malfoys?”

Dawlish was silenced, but not by any spell. This reply from Yaxley was the thing that did it. He didn’t know why Yaxley needed the Malfoys.

“You don’t,” Yaxley sneered, “Do you?”

“Nice job, boss,” Selwyn said, “We got him backed into a corner. He thinks he knows everything.”

“Shut up, fool!” Yaxley yelled at Selwyn, “He may not know that part of my plan. But he knows fully well every detail of my greatest plan. What do you think of that, Selwyn? Eh?”

Selwyn stuttered under Yaxley’s voice. But if he was going to say anything, he was saved by a loud sound. Dawlish heard it too. It sounded as if someone was pounding on the door.

“What the hell do they want?” Yaxley yelled, “I said I didn’t want any interruption!”

Yaxley walked over to the door and opened it. As soon as he did, a man fell into the room. Dawlish then heard a bunch of different spells being yelled outside the room.

(Draco’s PoV - After Yaxley left the Cellar)

“Draco!” Narcissa said.

She grabbed him and hugged him tightly.

“Why did you do that?” Lucius asked, still staring at the spot where Dawlish had fallen.

Draco stared at the same spot.

“I have no idea,” he said.

“What do you mean?” Lucius asked, “Who was that man?”

Draco sighed.

“His name is John Dawlish,” he said.

“The Auror?” Lucius said, “What is he doing here?”

“He is working undercover,” Draco said, “Well, he was… until…”

“Draco,” Narcissa said, “Son, why did you tell them who he was?”

“I told you,” Draco said, “I don’t know!”

“Oh come on!” Fenrir Greyback roared, “Obviously the brat is lying to you!”

“Shut your fanged mouth, fiend!” Narcissa yelled.

“If your brat is telling the truth,” Fenrir said, “That man could have freed us from this prison. Now we are still here because he gave him up! You know it is the truth, Malfoy!”

“I said shut up!” Narcissa roared.

“That’s a good idea!” a voice said, “Why don’t you all shut up?!”

Draco turned and looked toward the door of the wine cellar. Jugson had returned.

“I didn’t want to be down here,” Jugson said, “But it looks like I can’t control that. I haven’t had sleep in over twenty-four hours, and I need some. So you better all behave or you will feel my wrath.”

He took out his wand and summoned a chair in the middle of the room. Draco looked at Fenrir, who was staring greedily at Jugson. But a second look, and Draco could tell that he was actually looking at Jugson’s wand. This turned a light on in Draco’s mind. He knew he had to get that wand. But how?

“Feel your wrath, eh?” Fenrir said, “What are you going to do to us, anyway? From what I understand, your boss wants us alive and well.”

“Greyback may be a vicious monster,” Lucius said, “But he has a point, Jugson. You have to do what Yaxley says.”

Jugson’s mouth turned into a frown.

“You don’t like that, do you?” Lucius said, “I can see that from here. You are jealous of the position Yaxley has over you.”

“Lucius is right,” Fenrir said, “You are weak, boy. It’s despicable. Any respectable Death Eater should be able to stand up for himself.”

“Shut up!” Jugson ordered.

Draco grinned. They were getting to Jugson’s mind. Just a little more. He had to make Fenrir continue. Fenrir was the only one who could take Jugson out. There was only one problem with this: Draco definitely didn’t want Fenrir to get the wand.

“You know we are right,” Draco said, “Don’t you?”

“How long are you going to take it?” Fenrir said, “Are you going to stick up for yourself. Or are you just going to play follow the leader like a sad little boy who –-“

“I said shut up!” Jugson yelled.

In his fury, Jugson ran over to Fenrir to attack him. Jugson tried to yell out a spell, but Fenrir ran to the cage and aimed his long arm at him. His huge fist made contact with Jugson’s forehead, and Jugson fell back. Draco wasn’t looking at Jugson or Fenrir. He was looking at the wand, which had been knocked away from Jugson and was bouncing and rolling right toward Draco’s cage. The wand rolled, then stopped a few feet from the cage. Draco dove to the cement and reached his arm out.

“Come on,” Draco muttered, “Come on.”

“Reach for it, son!” Narcissa said.

Draco reached out his fingers. It was like grabbing a Snitch out of thin air. He just had to reach. He moved his body against the bars until his shoulders were throbbing against the cold metal. He then felt the wand against his fingers and grabbed it!

“Good job, son!” Lucius said.

Draco stood up and pointed the wand at the bar.

“Back up,” he said.

Lucius and Narcissa backed up against the wall.

“Bombarda!” he roared.

Draco shielded himself with his arms. The bars exploded and metal flew around the room.

“Come on,” Draco said, “Let’s go.”

“We need to get our wands,” Lucius said.

“Where are they?” Draco asked.

“I heard one of the Death Eaters say something about them being in Yaxley’s office,” Narcissa said, “Where ever that may be.”

“Let’s go, then,” Draco said.

“Hey, wait a minute now!” Fenrir roared, “What about me?!”

“You?!” Narcissa said, “I should stun you here and now! We can’t trust you!”

“I knocked out Jugson, didn’t I?!” Fenrir said.

“True,” Draco said, “But you wouldn’t have helped us if you got the wand. See you later, Greyback!”

Draco and his parents ran out of the wine cellar. As they ran down the hall, they could hear Fenrir.

“When I get out of here,” he yelled, “I will kill your boy, Malfoys! That is a promise!”

Draco and his parents reached the stairs that led into the first floor of the house.

“We will be very lucky if we don’t get caught by any Death Eaters,” Narcissa said.

“You let me take care of that!” Draco said, “You go find your wands.”

“No!” Narcissa said, “We are not splitting up! I won’t lose you again.”

“I will be fine, Mother!” Draco said, “Go! We will never get out of here if we get caught.”

Narcissa was about to object, but Lucius spoke up.

“We will go,” he said, “But we will be back. Be safe.”

“Of course, Father,” Draco said.

Narcissa hugged Draco, then she and Lucius set off down the hallway. Draco followed them only until his parents found a set of stairs that went up to the second level and went up.

“Looks like everything is clear up here!” Draco heard his father say.

Draco nodded and set off down another hall. He heard voices coming in a room, and he pressed his body up against the wall. He crept along the wall and found a door slightly ajar. The voices became louder.

“Where is Yaxley?” a voice said.

“I guess he isn’t back from interrogating the prisoner,” another voice said.

“Maybe someone should check on him,” the first voice said, “Mavers, you go!”

“Fine,” Mavers groaned, “Got nothing better to do here.”

Draco’s eyes went wide. Whoever Mavers was, he would be coming out of the room. Draco backed up and hid behind another wall. Mavers walked out of the room. He had long, black hair, but otherwise he looked like a nerd. He was skinny with glasses on the bridge of his nose. Draco thought that Mavers would walk toward him, but he walked the opposite way. Draco knew he had to follow him. Where ever he was going, Dawlish would be there. But so would Yaxley, and probably Selwyn.

Draco followed Mavers down the hall in the most stealthiest of manners that he could do. A couple minutes later, Mavers stopped. Draco couldn’t see a door, but he figured there had to be a secret room for prisoners. Suddenly, Mavers turned around and looked straight at Draco.

“This is your first time tracking someone, isn’t it, kid?” Mavers said, grinning.

Draco gasped. Mavers lifted his wand, but Draco did too.

“Stupefy!” Draco yelled.

The spell hit Mavers in the chest and he fell back against a wall. Draco then heard voices and turned around. Nobody came, but he heard a noise behind him. He turned back around. A portion of the wall opened up. Mavers fell into the room.

“Stupefy!” a voice said.

Draco heard the spell coming at him just in time. He dove behind a statue.

“What is going on here?” Yaxley’s voice rang out.

Yaxley appeared through the portion of the wall.

“THE MALFOYS HAVE ESCAPED!” a voice roared.

Draco had no other choice.

“Stupefy!” he yelled, pointing the wand at Yaxley.

“Protego!” Yaxley yelled.

The stunning spell bounded off of Yaxley’s shield spell and hit the statue behind Draco. The statue exploded.

“I don’t know how you escaped the cell, Draco,” Yaxley said, “But you won’t escape again.”

Yaxley pointed his wand straight at Draco.

“CRUCIO!” a voice yelled, but it wasn’t Yaxley’s.

Yaxley fell to the floor and shook around from the effects of the curse. Draco looked down the hall. His parents had appeared. Their wands were in their hands. They ran over to Draco.

“Are you okay,” Narcissa asked.

“Come on,” Lucius said, “We have to get out of –-“

“Crucio!” a voice yelled.

The spell hit Lucius and he fell to the floor. Draco looked up. Selwyn was standing there. He had his wand pointed at Narcissa.

“Drop the wands,” Selwyn said, “Or she dies.”

“It’s two on one, Selwyn,” Draco said, “I can hit you before you get the spell off.”

“Actually, it’s not,” a voice growled.

Fenrir Greyback appeared around a corner. He had a wand in his hand.

“Drop the wands,” he said, “Or I kill the boy.”

Narcissa dropped her wand and Draco sighed, then dropped his. Yaxley stood back up.

“Fine job, Selwyn,” he said, “You too, Greyback. Selwyn, take them back to their cells.”

“What do we do with the other prisoner?” Yaxley said.

“Leave him to me,” Yaxley said.

“Yes, sir,” Selwyn said, turning to the Malfoys. “Let’s get going.”

Draco sighed. This was it. He didn’t have any more ideas. He was trapped.

This is the last time we hear of the Death Eaters and the Malfoys for a while. I want to get back to the other storylines.

Hope you liked the chapter. I am not sure when the next will go up. I may be busy.

Feedback would be great!

May 22nd, 2008, 4:08 pm
Chapter 41
Arguments and Articles

Author's Note: This chapter will be in two PoVs. It will go back and forth between Ron and Hermione's PoVs.

(Ron's PoV)

Ron, Hermione, Harry and Ginny were walking up the Grand Staircase to the Common Room. It was after lunch when Viktor Krum had arrived. Their next class was study hall, but that wouldn't be for another hour.

“I think Viktor will be a great Quidditch scout,” Ginny said, “I mean, he is a brilliant Quidditch player. Plus, I don't think he is one of the players who are going to participate in the strike.”

“Yeah,” Harry said, “I didn't like Mr. Simmons. He may have been a Ministry official with the Quidditch division, but he doesn't have a say when it comes to the strike.”

“I suppose you are happy he is back,” Ron blurted out to Hermione.

Harry and Ginny looked at each other, with surprised, as well as worried, looks. Before this point, neither Ron nor Hermione hadn't spoken a word since Viktor had arrived.

“What are you talking about?” Hermione asked.

“Viktor, of course,” Ron said.

“Well, I wouldn't say happy,” Hermione said, “Surprised, yeah.”

“No, I saw you,” Ron said, “He grinned at you as he was passing our table.”

“Ron, he was grinning at everyone,” Harry said, “I'd say he was pretty happy to be back here.”

“Yeah,” Hermione said, “Ron, where is this coming from?”

“I think you know,” Ron said.

“I think we should get going,” Ron heard Harry mutter to Ginny.

Harry and Ginny walked off up the staircase, leaving Ron and Hermione in the middle of the staircase between the first and second floor.

“Ron, we talked about this, remember,” Hermione said, “I have no feelings for Viktor Krum. We were just friends.”

“Just friends, huh?” Ron grumbled, “You kissed him.”

“Ron, that was almost four years ago!” Hermione said, “And if you have forgotten, you hadn't even hinted your feelings toward me at that moment, you know?! You're always jealous, you know that? That is your problem. You have nothing to be jealous about.”

Ron didn't respond. He just looked over the staircase at the other students coming up the stairs.

“Oh, you are unbelievable sometimes!” Hermione said.

A sob escaped Hermione's lips and she ran up the stairs.

“You and Hermione have another fight?” a voice called.

Ron turned around. Lavender and Seamus were walking up the stairs.

“Bugger off, Lavender,” Ron said.

He started up the stairs.

“Don't talk to Lavender like that!” Seamus yelled.

“I can talk to whoever I want like that, Finnegan,” Ron said, pointing to his chest, “I am Head Boy!”

Ron walked up the stairs. As he walked up, he still heard Seamus talking. It wasn't hard anyway. He wasn't trying to keep his voice quiet.

“He is only like this because Viktor Krum is here,” Seamus said, “Everyone knows he is jealous of Krum.”

Ron fought back the urge to take out his wand and curse Seamus all the way down the Grand Staircase. He walked up to the Common Room, and walked through the portrait-less hole. Harry was sitting on the couch. Hermione nor Ginny were nowhere to be seen.

“So what happened?” Harry asked.

“I don't want to talk about it,” Ron said, “Where's Ginny?”

“She's probably trying to talk to Hermione,” Harry said, “You and Hermione had another fight. Didn't you?”

Ron sighed and sat on the couch next to Harry.

“I thought so,” Harry said, grinning, “I'm not surprised. You are the only couple I know whose relationship survives because of arguments.”

“It's not funny,” Ron said, “I hate arguing with her. I really do.”

“Then why do you do it?” Harry asked.

“I can't help it,” Ron said.

“I think you can,” Harry said, “You just don't want to. So what was it about this time? Oh wait, let me guess. Viktor Krum.”

“It's my fault,” Ron said, “I brought up the fact that they kissed.”

“So Ginny was telling the truth about that,” Harry said.

“I was telling the truth about what?” a voice said.

Ron and Harry looked over their shoulders. Ginny had returned to the Common Room. She walked over to the couch and sat next to Harry.

“Never you mind!” Ron said, “Did you talk to her?”

“No,” Ginny said, “She won't let me in. I did hear her crying though. I want to know. What I was telling the truth about?”

“That Hermione kissed Viktor after the Yule Ball,” Harry said.

“Of course I was telling the truth,” Ginny said, “I saw it with my own two eyes.”

“I don't want to hear about that,” Ron said.

“Hermione hasn't told you?” Ginny asked.

“Of course she told me,” Ron said.

“Then what is this fight about?” Ginny asked, “Wait a moment. You are worried because Viktor is back around, aren't you?”

Ron said nothing, but stared into the fire.

“Mate, I don't think you have anything to worry about,” Harry said, “Do you remember when Viktor was at Bill and Fleur's wedding.”

“Yeah,” Ron said, “So what?”

“So,” Harry said, “When you and Hermione were dancing, Viktor saw you. Well, he asked me if you and Hermione were together. Of course he didn't know who I was, because of the disguise. Anyway, I told a white lie and said yeah. I mean, I had a feeling you and Hermione would eventually see that you love each other. So, I don't think you have to worry. He knows she is taken.”

“Thanks, Harry,” Ron said, “Now I just feel worse.”

“Maybe you should try and talk to her,” Harry said.

“Good luck with that,” Ginny said, “She usually lets me talk to her when stuff like this happens. If she didn't let me in, then I kind of doubt that she will let you in, Ron.”

“You have to try,” Harry said, “Apologize to her.”

Ron sighed. Then, out of the corner of his eye, he saw Seamus and Lavender walk into the Common Room. Fearing an argument of some kind would come his way because of his actions a few minutes ago, he stood up and hurried toward the stairs. He walked up the stairs and entered the Gryffindor Boy's Dormitory Tower. He walked up to the top of the tower until he reached the door to his room. He muttered the password and opened the door. He shut it and walked over to the other door.

He opened it and walked into the hall, then walked over to Hermione's door. He knocked on the door.

“Go away, Ron!” Hermione said, tearfully.

Ron sighed. He could tell that she was crying.

“Hermione,” Ron said, “I want to apologize. Can we please talk?”

“I think we talked enough today!” Hermione said, “Go away!”

“We got study hall in a few minutes,” Ron said.

“I am not going!” Hermione said, “Leave me alone.”

Ron sighed again. He knew he couldn't win this. He walked away from the door and went back to his room.

(Hermione's PoV)

Thunder roared as a light rain shower started to fall. The rain slid down the windows in Hermione's Head Girl bedroom. But Hermione wasn't paying attention.

She was laying on her bed and tears were trickling down her face.

“Damn it, Ron,” she whispered, “Why do you always have to do this?”

The argument with Ron was one of the worst she had with him. And this argument, like many others, was about Viktor Krum. It was bad enough that Viktor had returned into her life. Now Ron had to bring up the relationship she had with Viktor.

Relationship. She hated that word. At least when it came to Viktor Krum. It was a fling that she had with him. A stupid one at that, Hermione had to admit. She only put interest into Viktor to make Ron jealous. She had lied to Ron in their most recent argument. She had told him that he hadn't hinted his feelings toward her. That was a lie. Back in fourth year, Hermione knew that Ron had feelings for her that were more than platonic. In the truth of it all, the fling with Viktor Krum wouldn't have even existed if she had taken things into her own hands.

She wasn't the least surprised when Ron had asked her to the Yule Ball. He was half-joking, half-desperate because he couldn't find a date, but he still asked her. Unfortunately, she didn't take the situation into her own hands and she had to go out with Viktor Krum because he was so popular and it would make everyone jealous. Looking back at it, Hermione knew that the whole thing was actually quite childish. True, it was like a fairy-tale evening, and it ended up with her and Ron arguing. But looking back, Ron only argued with her about it because of his feelings for her.

So in the honest truth of it, Ron's jealousy for Viktor Krum wasn't completely his fault. Hermione just didn't want to admit it to anyone but herself.

Hermione sat up and wiped the tears away from her face. She looked at her wristwatch. Study hall would be taking place in less than half an hour. But as she told Ron, she wasn't going. She didn't want to face Ron right now. Her eyesight left the watch and went directly toward the small bookcase in the corner. The title “Hogwarts, a History” glistened in the light of the room.

She walked over to the bookcase and took the book out. She walked back over to the bed and laid down. She opened the book to the Table of Contents. It had been a while since she had taken a good look at the book. Her eyesight went to the words “Headmasters of Hogwarts.” She shrugged and turned to the correct page. She started to read the chapter. A few minutes later, she arrived at a very part of the chapter. There was a list of things on the page. At the top of the list, it read “Headmaster's Privileges.”

A few years ago, this might not have intrigued Hermione. But because of the new Headmaster, who, at least to Hermione, wasn't as trustworthy as she would like her Headmaster to be, Hermione decided to read this list carefully. She looked down the list, until something caught her eye.

12. The Headmaster has the right to decide which portraits get to be placed in the castle.

At the word “portrait”, the portrait of the Fat Lady appeared in Hermione's mind. The Fat Lady and her portrait had been missing for quite a while. Did the Headmaster know where she was?

“No,” Hermione said to herself, “Of course not. Browne wasn't here when the Fat Lady disappeared. And if there wasn't no Headmaster at the time, then I suppose the Deputy Headmaster, or Headmistress, would have the say when it came to the Headmaster's privileges. But she doesn't know where the Fat Lady is either.”

Hermione made a note mentally to discuss this with Harry and Ron. She resumed reading “Hogwarts, a History”.

(Ron's PoV)

Friday, the day of the N.E.W.T meeting, came in like a lion. The first snowfall of the season had come overnight and the grounds around the Hogwarts castle were blanketed in white. The water along the shores of Hogwarts Lake had been covered with a light sheet of ice. The lake wasn't the only thing half-covered in ice. The outsides of the windows in Hogwarts were covered with ice to the point that no one could see outside them.

Inside the castle, however, it was nice and toasty. In the Head Boy bedroom of the Gryffindor Tower, it was no different. The sunlight barely made its way through the ice into the room, but it was enough to wake Ron from his slumber.

Ron groaned as he opened his eyes and sat up. He took his wristwatch from the bedside table and looked at it. Fifteen minutes to seven. The N.E.W.T meeting would take place in about two hours. He yawned and set the wristwatch back on the table, then stood up. He gathered his clothes for the day. He didn't have any classes today since it was a Friday, but the dress robes were mandatory because of the N.E.W.T meeting.

Ron walked toward the door that led to hallway with the bathroom and opened it. As he did, he saw Hermione walking back to her room. She had a towel with her and her hair was wet, so he deduced that she had just finished with her shower. He thought he should say hello, but then he remembered that they currently weren't speaking to each other.

He was about to say hello anyway, when a knock came on the other door. Ron closed the door and walked over to the other door, then opened it. Harry was standing there.

“Good, I hoped you would be awake,” Harry said, walking into the room.

“Yeah, I was just about to take a shower,” Ron said, closing the door, “What are you doing here?”

“This room is really nice,” Harry said, “Why haven't you invited me up here before?”

“I don't know,” Ron said, “Privacy matters, I guess. What are you doing here?”

Harry turned around and raised up a Daily Prophet.

“Is that today's issue?” Ron said, “How did you get that already?”

“I have an owl deliver it to me early,” Harry said, shrugging, “Anyway, there is something you need to read.”

Harry walked over to the dresser and spread out the newspaper. He turned a couple of pages.

“Look at this,” he said.

Ron walked over to the dresser and gasped when he saw the headline in bold letters.


“John Dawlish?” Ron said, “But who--”

Ron's mind suddenly clicked to the last time he heard John Dawlish's name. It was back in Grimmauld Place shortly before he returned to Hogwarts.

“He's the Auror who went undercover to investigate the Death Eaters!” Ron said.

“Right,” Harry said, “Keep reading.”

Wednesday evening, around nightfall, a Ministry official was entering the public entrance to the Ministry of Magic, when he discovered John Dawlish's body laying outside the phone booth used for the entrance. The Ministry official, who wouldn't give us his name, had this to say:

“I was coming in for my nightshift and it was pretty dark,” he told the Daily Prophet Thursday morning, “I was about to go into the phone booth to go to the Ministry when I noticed the body. I had recognized John Dawlish, having spoken to him a couple years ago. Obviously, magic had been used, because otherwise the Muggle police would have spotted him long before I did if there wasn't magic used.”

John Dawlish was an Auror for the Ministry of Magic. The Daily Prophet couldn't get answers as to what, if any, mission the Auror had been on. The Minister of Magic, Kingsley Shacklebolt, had this to say:

“I knew John Dawlish very well,” the Minister told the Daily Prophet, “While I cannot say what mission Dawlish was on, I will say this. The death has been ruled suspicious. I have reason to believe that John Dawlish was murdered.”

The Minister wouldn't go as far as to say what were his reasons for this, but we assure you that we will keep an eye on this story and will give any breaking new when it comes.

Ron looked at Harry.

“You know what I am thinking, don't you?” Harry asked.

“Harry, you're as bad as Hermione when it comes to expressing your thoughts,” Ron said, “Just tell me. It is too early to guess.”

“Obviously the Death Eaters killed him,” Harry said, “They found out his identity, and they killed him. Question is... why did they kill him?”

“They are Death Eaters,” Ron shrugged, “It is in their nature.”

“That isn't good enough for me,” Harry said, “There has to be a reason. Dawlish found out something. He knew where their headquarters are.”

“The Death Eaters wouldn't let him go with that information,” Ron said, “What confuses me, is why Kingsley lied to the Daily Prophet.”

“He didn't lie to the Daily Prophet,” Harry said, “He told them that he couldn't say what mission Dawlish was on. He couldn't very well say 'Death Eaters killed John Dawlish because he found out their secrets', could he?”

“No,” Ron said.

“Well, I am going back down to the Common Room,” Harry said, “I just wanted to get your opinion.”

“You and Ginny all right?” Ron asked.

“Yeah,” Harry said.

“Yeah,” Ron said, “I guess you would be. You don't have any thing to fight about.”

“I wouldn't say that,” Harry said, “I don't know if you could call it a fight. But when we lost the Quidditch Match, I couldn't get anything out of her for a while.”

“Yeah, I remember,” Ron said.

“Well, I will let you take your shower, then,” Harry said.

He took the Daily Prophet and walked back out the door and shut it. Ron picked up his clothes and towel and walked out the other door. He walked over to the bathroom and stopped. He looked at Hermione's door. He wanted to talk to her, but in all honesty, he didn't know what to say.

(Hermione's PoV)

Hermione dried her hair off and put on her school robes.

It had been three days since her argument with Ron, and they hadn't talked much since then. Actually, they hadn't talked at all. Hermione suspected that Ron wanted to ask her to help him with his schoolwork, but he never did. He seemed to do all right, though. He even got a passable grade in Potions the previous day.

Hermione hadn't talked to Harry about the discovery she made about the portraits in “Hogwarts, a History.” Every time she tried to talk to Harry, Ron would be around. You couldn't split those two up if you wanted. It had been a while since they had a serious fight.

Hermione picked up her wristwatch from the bedside table. She looked at it. It was nearly seven. Harry was usually awake by now. She could talk to him about the portraits now. Her eyesight then caught the promise ring Ron had given her on her birthday. She had thrown it off when she entered the room after the argument. It had lay forgotten on the bedside table for three days now.

She sighed, then picked it up and put it on her finger. She then stood up and walked over to the door that led to the staircase. She wouldn't need her book-bag because the only thing she would be doing that had to do with classes was the N.E.W.T meeting. She opened the door, walked out of the room and closed the door and locked it. She hurried down the stairs to the Common Room. She immediately spotted Harry sitting on the couch in front of the fireplace. The fire was roaring today because of the cold weather outside, and it warmed up the Common Room completely.

Hermione walked over to the couch. Harry was reading a copy of the Daily Prophet. Hermione sat down on the couch.

“Harry,” she said, “We need to--”

“Hermione,” Harry said, “I want to show you something.”

Harry opened the Daily Prophet to a certain page and gave it to Hermione. He pointed out an article and Hermione read it.

“Dawlish was killed by the Death Eaters,” she said.

“That is what Ron and I thought too,” Harry said.

“You talked to Ron today?” Hermione asked, shocked.

“Yeah,” Harry said, “Just a few minutes ago. Why? You haven't talked to him yet.”

“No,” Hermione said, looking into the fireplace.

“I think you should,” Harry said.

“I know,” Hermione said, “I want to. I hate when we fight. I love him, you know.”

“Yeah, I know,” Harry said, “I see your ring is back on your finger.”

Hermione smiled when she looked at the promise ring.

“You really do need to talk to him,” Harry said, “I think he has forgotten all about that fight.”

“I doubt it,” Hermione said.

“Well, okay,” Harry said, “But I don't think he is mad anymore at least. You're not still mad at him, are you?”

“No, I've forgiven him for it,” Hermione said, “Even if he is a complete git.”

“I guess I deserved that,” said a familiar voice.

Hermione and Harry turned around. Ron was standing at the bottom of the staircase. Hermione stood up and walked over to him.

“How much of that did you hear?” Hermione asked.

“Only the 'complete git' part,” Ron said, chuckling.

“I forgive you,” Hermione said.

“I'm sorry as well,” Ron said.

“Don't be,” Hermione said, “Parts of it was my fault.”

“Most of it was mine,” Ron said, “I shouldn't have said all that. I know you love me. I love you too.”

Tears trickled down Hermione's face. Ron took her hands in his and kissed her.

“I see you two have made up,” a voice said behind them.

Hermione and Ron broke apart and looked up. Ginny was standing on the stairs.

“I knew you two would see the light once you finally got the nerve to talk to each other again,” Ginny said.

Hermione smiled. Everything about the portraits and “Hogwarts, a History” had escaped her mind, and she didn't care.

After breakfast, everyone besides the “eighth years” left the Great Hall. Professor McGonagall and Professor Browne stayed behind as well. Professor Browne stood up from his chair.

“I assume that all of you are planning on taking your N.E.W.T exams at the end of December?” Professor Browne asked the students.

Every one of the students nodded.

“Good,” Professor Browne said, “Now, I think all of you know how important these exams will be. The results of these exams will prepare you for your careers ahead in life. Many of you have great careers ahead of you. I can already see that. Without further ado, I will let Professor McGonagall take over.”

Professor McGonagall stood up and went to the podium.

“Starting next Friday,” McGonagall said, “Up until the time when you will take your exams, you will have a mandatory N.E.W.T exam preparation class. For two hours a day, a different Professor will tell you what you might see in each exam. We will answer any questions you may have about the subject when that time comes.”

McGonagall took her wand and raised it then waved it out. Stacks of papers appeared in front of each student.

“What you see in front of you,” McGonagall said, “Is a study guide for your exams. If you go through this guide and answer the questions and study your answers, I can assure you that your exams will much easier. Understand? Good. Now, are there any questions?”

“Will there be essay questions on the exams?” Justin Finch-Fletchley asked.

“Yes,” McGonagall said, “One for each subject. Anymore questions?”

No one raised their hands or spoke up.

“Good,” McGonagall said, “The exams will take three days at the last week of December. Like your O.W.Ls, you will be taking them in here. For now, that is all. Thank you.”

There was a shuffle of footsteps as the students around Harry, Ron and Hermione stood up. Ron and Hermione were about to leave, when Harry spoke up.

“We need to talk to McGonagall,” he whispered.

“About what?” Ron asked.

“Dawlish's murder,” Harry said, “Maybe she knows more.”

“Browne will see us,” Hermione said, “We can't let him know what we know. Since it has to do with the Order, I mean.”

“Hermione's right,” Ron said.

Harry looked around to the Professor's table. Hermione and Ron looked as well. Professor McGonagall was walking away. Browne, however, was looking at Harry, Hermione and Ron.

“What are you three doing?” Browne asked.

“Just talking,” Harry said, “Er... about the N.E.W.Ts, I mean.”

As McGonagall went by, Hermione whispered to her.

“Professor, we need to talk to you,” she whispered.

“Meet me at the staircase,” she whispered, without stopping.

She continued down the rows of tables. Hermione cleared her throat to get Ron and Harry's attention.

“Well, we will be leaving now,” she said.

Hermione, Ron and Harry all picked up their pamphlets and walked out of the Great Hall. Professor McGonagall was waiting by the staircase.

“I believe I know what this is about,” she said, “Walk with me. We don't want people to hear us.”

By “people”, Hermione knew that McGonagall meant Browne.

“I take it you read a certain article in today's Daily Prophet,” McGonagall said, as she walked up the stairs with Hermione, Ron and Harry.

“Yeah,” Harry said, “Dawlish was killed by the Death Eaters, wasn't he?”

McGonagall nodded.

“I've been in contact with Kingsley since this happened,” McGonagall said, “Unfortunately, Dawlish's murder isn't the only thing that surprised me. There is something else.”

“What?” Harry asked, “I didn't see anything about the Death Eaters in the Daily Prophet. Other than the usual rumored sighting and reminder of who is still free.”

“That's because there is no reason for this to be in the Daily Prophet,” McGonagall said, “Draco Malfoy has gone missing from his safe-house.”

“What?” Harry, Ron and Hermione all said.

“You heard me correctly,” McGonagall said, “From what Kingsley told me, he believes Dawlish had been in contact with Draco. Apparently Draco discovered that Dawlish knew where Lucius and Narcissa are. Kingsley thinks Draco tailed Dawlish.”

“So Draco is probably a prisoner of the Death Eaters now,” Harry said, “Damn him. This is exactly what the Death Eaters wanted. Professor, you need to warn Kingsley. The Death Eaters could attack soon.”

“You don't think he knows that, Potter?” McGonagall asked, “Of course he knows. He just can't do anything about it right now. The Ministry has no clue where the Death Eaters are right now.”

“Maybe the Death Eaters won't attack yet,” Hermione said, “They don't want to risk anything. I mean, they aren't that many Death Eaters alive are there?”

“Kingsley believes they are gathering people,” McGonagall said, “That is why they attacked Azkaban.”

“Damn it,” Harry said, “I thought this whole thing would be over when Voldemort was defeated.”

“It's because of Voldemort's defeat that this isn't over,” McGonagall said, “The Death Eaters want revenge.”

“Yeah,” Harry said.

“Well, if that is all,” McGonagall said, “I need to get back to my class. You three have a good day. Be sure to work on that study guide.”

“Yes, Professor,” Hermione said.

McGonagall walked up the stairs. Hermione, Ron and Harry walked back to the Common Room and started on their study guides.

Chapter finished. Next chapter, I will be skipping some time. I want to get into December quickly, because I have many things on my mind that will happen in that time.

Hope you liked it.

Feedback would be great!

May 23rd, 2008, 4:14 pm
Chapter 42
Gryffindor vs. Slytherin

Author's Note: As I said at the end of the last chapter, I will be skipping some time. I will have a few paragraphs at the beginning to go over what had happened in the time that was skipped. Again, I'm not going to return to the Malfoys/Death Eater part of the storyline for a while. Everything else is a lot more important. You'll see why in the next few chapters. This chapter will be in Harry's PoV.

The month of November passed by quickly for Harry, Ron and Hermione, but it was very eventful.

Every day, Harry received the Daily Prophet and read through it, but there was nothing more about Auroras John Dawlish's murder, nor anything about any Death Eater attacks. Every few days, Harry confronted McGonagall and asked her if she had heard anything more from the Minister of Magic. Most of the time, all that McGonagall would say was that Harry needed to be worrying about his upcoming N.E.W.T exams and not about the Minister.

When it came to studying for the N.E.W.T exams, Harry thought he was doing well. He was getting some help from Ginny, and when Hermione had scolded her for helping Harry, Ginny only said it was because she wanted to get some early studying in. Harry thought Hermione was being hard on Ginny, because after all, Hermione was getting some help too, as well as lending help.

The bet Hermione and Ron had that resulted in Ron having to work on his N.E.W.Ts alone was completely forgotten. The recent argument Ron and Hermione had actually resulted in bringing them closer than ever. Harry didn't know what Hermione was doing to Ron, but Ron was actually doing better than Harry with his study guide, and was actually answering some questions thrown his way in the mandatory N.E.W.T preparation classes.

Besides N.E.W.Ts, Harry and Ron had other things on their minds as well. The Quidditch Match against Slytherin would happen in the first week of December, and Ginny definitely hadn't forgotten about it. Slytherin had narrowly lost their match against Hufflepuff in the middle of November, and were now in last place. Even so, Ginny didn't let up on making sure every Quidditch practice went perfectly. This would likely be the last Quidditch match that Ginny would have with her current team, because over half of the team would be leaving Hogwarts forever at Christmas Break. She wanted to make sure this game would be the best one yet. Besides, if Gryffindor lost against Slytherin, there would be no chance that they could win the cup, and it could ruin Ginny's chances of getting into the Professional Quidditch league. This made Ginny's coaching fiercer than ever.

Harry also began to notice things about Professor Browne. He seemed to be getting a bit pale as the weeks went by. Harry thought he was sick, but if he was, then this was definitely something that wouldn't go away. Late in November, when Browne had given his Defense Against the Dark Arts Class the day off because he didn't feel like teaching, Ron went as far as to say that perhaps Browne was a werewolf and they hadn't noticed until now. Hermione sunk that theory and assured Ron that they would have definitely noticed something before now.

The Gryffindor-Slytherin match would be on the first Saturday of the month of December, so Ginny decided that the last practice would take place on Wednesday night after dinner. Ginny told everyone that she wanted them to be present in the Great Hall at six-o-clock sharp for dinner. She wanted them to go over their scenarios for the match before they went to the field for practice.

So at ten minutes to six on Wednesday night, Harry, Ron and Ginny left the Common Room with their brooms in hand and went down to the Great Hall. Dean, Seamus, and the Beater, Pickler, were already at the Gryffindor table when they arrived.

“Where is Dennis?” Ginny asked, as she sat down with Harry, Ron and the rest of the team.

“Right here,” Dennis said, as he walked into the Great Hall, “I was just checking the weather. I can assure you, it is bloody cold out there!”

Dean, Seamus and Ron groaned.

“It will be all right,” Ginny said, while Dennis took a seat next to Pickler, “We've practiced through cold weather before.”

“I really hate winter,” Ron grumbling, taking some chicken from a large bowl and putting it on the plate in front of him, “Remind me why we are going to be practicing when it is about to be nightfall out there.”

“Because some of us don't have the liberties of a free day on Fridays,” Pickler said.

“Our Fridays aren't free!” Ron said, “We've been studying for our N.E.W.Ts.”

“Yeah!” Seamus said.

“Quit your bickering,” Ginny said, “Even if everyone had a free day on Friday, it wouldn't be a good idea to practice then. We would be really tired during the game on Saturday. We are doing it tonight because it will give us time to prepare and rest for the game. Now, we need to figure out some good plays that we can do. Any ideas?”

“The twenty-point play,” Dean said.

“I agree,” Seamus said, “It is a great idea.”

“Yeah, it's a great idea,” Harry said, “Except that the Slytherins are going to expect it. It was a surprise play when we did it, but now they will be ready for it.”

“Harry's right,” Ginny said, “Though I will admit, we might be able to use it once. But only once. Otherwise, we can't count on it. Any other ideas?”

Ginny looked at Dean and Seamus, expecting them to come up with more plays.

“Don't look at us!” Dean said.

“Yeah,” Seamus said, “We're all out of ideas.”

“That's just great,” Ron said, “You do remember you're two of the Chasers, right? You've had over a month to figure out plays.”

“Ginny, you're captain,” Dennis said, “What are your ideas?”

Ginny didn't answer.

“Well, that is just perfect!” Seamus said, slamming his fork down, “We've been focused on our secret weapon and now that it isn't a secret anymore, we can't use it. Now we don't have anything else!”

“I have an idea for a play,” Pickler said, suddenly.

Everyone looked at her.

“What about the 'V' Play?” she said.

“The what?” Ron asked.

“Here, I will show you,” Pickler said.

Pickler took three oranges and two apples from a nearby fruit bowl. She put one orange down, then the other two diagonally behind it. She then put an apple diagonally behind each of the oranges.

“The chasers are the oranges,” Pickler said, “The apples are the Beaters.”

“Why can't we be the apples?” Dean joked.

“Shut up,” Ginny said, raising a hand to stop Dean, “I want to hear this.”

“Anyway,” Pickler continued, “The front Chaser takes the Quaffle first. Let's say that would be Ginny. Ginny would then pass it to one of the Chasers behind her. Then the would pass it to the Chaser beside them. As they all fly in a V, the Beaters would be guarding them. They continue to pass it to each other and then head for the goals.”

“It looks almost exactly like the twenty-point play,” Seamus said.

“Exactly,” Pickler said, nodding.

“So it would confuse the other team,” Ginny said, “Since they expect the twenty-point play. I kind of like it.”

“Thanks,” Pickler said, “And maybe once or twice we can turn the play into a twenty-point play. I mean, after they get used to this.”

“That's a great idea,” Ron said, “I would get confused by it, to be sure.”

“Let's hope Slytherin doesn't use it against you, then, eh?” Harry said.

Everyone laughed.

“Now, Harry,” Ginny said, looking at Harry, “How sure are you that your broom isn't going to malfunction like it did last time.”

The question shocked Harry. He hadn't expected that it would come.

“I can't be one-hundred percent sure, of course,” Harry said, after a moment, “But it's been great for me for the past month.”

Ginny sighed. After a moment, she replied.

“That is as good as I can expect, then,” she said, “We will try out Pickler's play, and practice the twenty-point play again. Harry, you won't be able to see the Snitch when it gets dark, so there is no point of practicing with it. Can you be a defender?”

“Yeah,” Harry said.

“Great,” Ginny said, smiling, “All right, everyone hurry up with dinner. I told Madam Hooch we would be at the Pitch before seven.”

Everyone started eating and continued discussing more strategies.

Dennis was right. The weather was really cold and it didn't help that the wind started to pick up. Harry glanced at the sky above and his insides went numb when he realized it was going to be much colder up there.

Twenty minutes after leaving the castle, the team arrived at the Pitch.

“Good, you are here!” Hooch yelled, “Let's get up in the sky. I don't want to be out here for more than a couple hours. It's already bloody damn cold!”

“You heard her,” Ginny said, “Get on your brooms and get up in the sky!”

“Potter, do you want me to get the Snitch?” Hooch asked.

“No, ma'am,” Harry said, “I am going to be a defender tonight.”

“Good idea!” Hooch said, “By the way, Miss Weasley, I just thought you would like to know. We have company tonight.”

Harry's stomach went numb. He expected the Slytherin team to be watching. But when he looked around at the stands, he noticed that the scouts, Viktor Krum and Gwenog Jones, were sitting in the Professor's box.

“They heard you were practicing and decided to watch,” Hooch said.

Harry half-expected Ginny to be happy, but when he looked at her, she wasn't grinning. She had a serious expression on her face.

“All right, team!” she said, mounting her broom, “Let's go!”

Ginny was the first in the sky, followed by Harry, Ron, then Seamus, Dean and the two Beaters. Madam Hooch released the two Bludgers from the box and they flew up into the sky at breakneck speed. She then took out the Quaffle and threw it to Ginny, who caught it.

“In your positions, team!” Ginny ordered, “Harry, defend the rings! Beaters, watch those Bludgers! We don't want to hurt anyone tonight, but they are a big part of our strategy!”

“Yes, captain!” Harry heard Dennis say.

Harry flew over near the rings. Ron was floating around the middle ring.

“Have any clue what they are doing?” Ron asked, nervous.

“We're not supposed to know,” Harry said, “It's part of the whole plan.”

Harry looked at Ginny, who was ordering Dean and Seamus into position.

“Looks like the twenty-point play!” Harry said.

“Yeah,” Ron said.

“I will try to intercept it!” Harry said.

“Good luck,” Ron said.

Ginny, Seamus and Dean headed for the rings, and Harry headed straight for them. WHOOSH! Harry swerved away from a Bludger aimed at him by Pickler, and it broke his concentration. This was definitely much tougher than being a Seeker. By the time he regained his concentration, Ginny, Dean and Seamus were already close to the rings. Harry sped up, but as he got close, Ginny passed the Quaffle to Seamus, who sent the Quaffle toward the left ring. Ron missed it by inches and it sailed through. Harry knew what was coming, and he flew behind the rings toward Seamus and the Quaffle. WHOOSH! Another Bludger, this time hit by Dennis went dangerously close to Harry and he had to swerve out of the way. Ron also knew what was coming, and when Seamus through the Quaffle, Ron caught it with ease this time.

“Nice catch, Ron!” Ginny said, after the play was done, “Dennis, watch where you aim that Bludger. I am not talking about hitting Harry. I know that was the idea. But in an actual game, hitting the Bludger near the rings will be a penalty!”

“Sorry, captain!” Dennis said, “Guess I forgot!”

“It's okay,” Ginny said, “Don't let it happen again. Chasers, let's get back into position. Beaters, you too!”

Dean, Seamus and the two Beaters flew down the field, but Ginny stayed behind and flew over to Harry.

“You okay?” Ginny asked him.

“We have some tough Beaters,” Harry said, “I couldn't get close to you.”

“I'll give you the heads-up this time,” Ginny said, “We're doing the V Play, combined with the twenty-point play. I doubt you will be able to get close to us with the Beaters so close by, but you have to try every way possible. It is what the Slytherin Chasers will do.”

“I know,” Harry said.

Ginny smiled, then flew off down the field.

“What are they doing?” Ron asked, when Harry got back in position.

“V Play combined with the twenty-point play,” Harry said.

“Ginny told you?” Ron asked.

“Yeah,” Harry said, looking at Ginny, who was putting the other team members in position.

“She could have been lying, you know?” Ron asked.

“I doubt it,” Harry said, “She wants to know if the Slytherin Chasers will be able to intercept it. Oh! Here they come!”

“Get going!” Ron said.

Harry flew toward Ginny and the others. The wind and the cold air bit his face, but he fought through it. He heard Ginny yelling in the wind. Harry thought it was an order to her team, then he heard it clearly.

“Harry, watch out!” she yelled.

Harry saw the Bludger just in time and flew high into the sky to get away from it. He then remembered the broom's safety issues and flew back down back toward the action. He couldn't get to the Quaffle because Ginny, Seamus and Dean were so close to each other. Unless...

“I need to come in from the bottom,” Harry said to himself, “It is what the Slytherins would do.”

Harry flew low to the ground and swooped under Ginny and the others.

“He's below us!” Pickler yelled into the wind.

“The Bludgers aren't anywhere near us!” Dennis yelled, “We can't defend you, captain!”

“Split up!” Ginny said.

Harry didn't expect it. Ginny, Dean and Seamus broke up the V play, but zoomed down the field quicker than ever. Harry tailed Ginny who had the Quaffle in hand.

“He's behind you!” Dennis said.

Ginny faked a toss toward Dean and passed it instead to her left to Seamus. Harry tried to go after Seamus, but he saw a Bludger come from the right. He flew toward the ground and headed for the rings. This was the only way to break up the play. Unfortunately, Seamus saw Harry and threw the Quaffle to Dean, who was closest to the rings. Ginny flew behind the rings. Harry didn't know what to do. It was Ron's chance to shine now.

Dean aimed the Quaffle toward the middle, and it sailed through. Ron was expecting a fake that didn't happen. Ginny caught the Quaffle and threw it toward Seamus, but Harry was ready this time. He flew in between Seamus and Ginny and caught the Quaffle with ease!

“That was intense!” Harry said, when everyone crowded around him.

“That V play is tough,” Ginny said, “But we need to make sure we can do it.”

Everyone agreed and they spent the next hour trying to make the V play as perfect as it could be. By the time Hooch called the practice to an end, Harry could tell that Ginny was pleased. Harry glanced up at the Quidditch scouts who were applauding.

“I think we're ready,” Ginny said when she reached the ground.

By the time Saturday came around, the weather was still as cold and harsh as it was during the last practice. The only good thing Harry could say about the whole thing was that at least they would be playing the game in the daylight.

At breakfast, the Gryffindor team had, once again, gathered at the Gryffindor table in the Great Hall. Their brooms were laying under their seats. The Slytherin team were also gathered at their table and it looked as if they were very confident about today's match.

“I'm going to save my pre-game speech for the locker room,” Ginny said, “But I want you all to know something. I'm very proud of you. This will probably be the last game that we will all be playing as a complete team. So let's get it right this time.”

“Hear, hear!” Harry said.

“Hear, hear!” the rest of the team shouted in unison.

Professor McGonagall stood up from the Professor's table and tapped her spoon against her goblet to get everyone's attention.

“The Gryffindor versus Slytherin Quidditch match will be taking place in an hour,” she announced, “Right now, I would like both teams to make their way down to the Pitch.”

“You heard her, team!” Ginny said, “Let's get going!”

Both the Gryffindor and Slytherin teams stood up from their tables and took their brooms, then marched out of the hall. Twenty minutes later, they reached the Pitch, and went into their locker rooms. After changing into their uniforms, Ginny had them gather up in the main part of the locker room. She inhaled and exhaled and looked around at the team.

“I am not going to lie to you and say that it doesn't matter if we win or lose today,” Ginny said, “That would be dishonest. We do need to win this game today. If we lose, we are out of the running for the Quidditch cup. I believe in this team. I did have my doubts at first, but I can now completely say that I believe in my team. The Slytherins are a tough team. They are a completely new team this year, and we've only seen them play once against Hufflepuff. Other than that, we know nothing about this team.”

“Captain, that isn't completely true,” Dennis said, “The Slytherin seeker, Horn, is in a few of my classes. He is arrogant. But he is also kind of tall for his age. Harry, he has long arm length.”

“So it will be easy for him to grab the Snitch if he gets to close to it,” Harry said, “I understand.”

“We've seen their Chasers and Beaters play in one game,” Ginny said, “Now, I don't know if they will use the same strategies, but that is as much as we have. From what I saw in their game against Hufflepuff, most of the time they were spread far out. That is completely different from us.”

“They might have changed their strategies,” Seamus said, “I mean... we did, right?”

“That's right,” Ginny said, glancing at her wristwatch, “It is nearly time for the start of the game. It is cold out there, but don't let that bother you. We can win this game. We will win this game.”

“Hear, hear!” Dennis said.

“Hear, hear!” the rest of the team said in unison.

“Now, let's go!” Ginny said.

Harry and Ginny stayed behind while the rest of the team went to the door of the locker room.

“Did I do okay?” Ginny asked Harry.

“You did great,” Harry said.

“Thanks,” Ginny said. “Harry, promise me that you will be the one to catch that Snitch this time.”

“I promise,” Harry said, “I won't let my broom get the best of me.”

Ginny smiled and kissed Harry on the cheek.

“Let's get going,” she said.

The team walked out of the locker room. The stadium was already full of cheering students. Harry could hear Luna commentating again over the cheering.

“And Horn!” Luna announced, as the Slytherins flew into the sky.

Harry could see Horn, who was the last player that flew into the sky.

“Get on your brooms, guys,” Ginny said, “It's time.”

“And now the Gryffindor team!” Luna announced, “Creevey, Pickler, Finnegan, Thomas, Weasley, Weasley and Potter!”

Most of the students cheered, but Harry could hear distinct jeering from the Slytherins at the other end of the field. Harry and the rest of the team flew into position as Luna continued talking.

“Both of these teams lost their first game,” she said, “Though it was very close. This game is very important. Whoever loses is out of the running for the cup! This game is sure to be great, because these teams are bitter rivals! And here are the Quidditch Scouts! Viktor Krum and Gwenog Jones! Let's give them a round of applause!”

The stadium erupted in cheers.

“Madam Hooch is flying onto the field,” Luna said.

“I want a nice, clean game!” Hooch yelled, when she was positioned under the teams, “From all of you!”

Madam Hooch released the Bludgers and they flew off in opposite directions. Hooch then released the Snitch which flew off toward the rings behind Harry. Harry turned around and he could see Horn looking at the Snitch, then look at Harry with raised eyebrows.

“I want the captains to shake hands!” Madam Hooch said.

Ginny shook the hand of the Slytherin captain, a sixth year Chaser. Meanwhile, Madam Hooch took the Quaffle from the case. She blew her whistle and threw the Quaffle into the air.

“And the game begins!” Luna yelled.

The Gryffindor and Slytherin Chasers all swooped in for the Quaffle. Ginny came out with it and headed for the rings.

“And Gryffindor Captain Ginny Weasley heads down to the rings,” Luna said, “But she's got company!”

Ginny saw two of the opposing Chasers come right up behind her, and she flew off higher into the sky. Then a Bludger, hit by one of the Slytherin Beaters, followed Ginny up from under her. Ginny saw it just in time, and flew lower and toward the rings. A Slytherin Chaser flew right in behind her, but Dennis smacked a Bludger at the boy and sent him swerving out of the way. This gave Ginny a free shot. She faked it to the middle, and threw it toward the left. It sailed through with ease!

“And Gryffindor takes an early lead!” Luna yelled, “Ten-zero!”

Harry clapped and cheered. He then realized he wasn't paying attention to the Snitch. He quickly looked at Horn to see if the Slytherin Seeker had seen it. But he was still hovering in the same position.

“And Slytherin is in possession!” Luna announced.

Harry looked down at the action. The Slytherin Chasers were fast, but they were being tailed by Ginny, Dean and Seamus. Ginny went in for an interception, but the Chaser, who Harry recognized as the Slytherin captain, passed it to a team-mate and they flew off toward the rings. The Chasers were now close to the rings. Harry saw that Ron was watching the Quaffle to see if he could tell where it would go through. He didn't see the Slytherin Captain come in from behind. Harry knew what was coming, but he wasn't in range to tell Ginny. The Chaser threw the Quaffle toward the left ring and it sailed through as Ron missed it by inches. Then the Slytherin captain caught the Quaffle and passed it to another team-mate, who threw it toward the right ring, and it also sailed through!

“Oh my!” Luna yelled, “Slytherin stole a play right out of the Gryffindor play book! They scored twenty points in one play to take the lead! Twenty-ten to Slytherin!”

Ron looked furious with himself. Harry looked at Horn, who was in motion. Had Horn seen the Snitch? Harry looked around wildly to see if he could find the snitch, but he couldn't see it. Harry turned to look at Horn, who was flying toward him.

“Didn't think we would do that play, did you, Potter?” Horn asked, sneering, “I bet your Captain is surprised by that one.”

Harry looked down at Ginny, who had the Quaffle in hand. She put two fingers in the air.

“Ha! Looks like she's wanting to do the twenty-point play as well!” Horn said, cackling, “Our chasers are ready for it.”

“We'll see,” Harry said.

Harry knew that signal that Ginny had made. It wasn't for the twenty-point play. It was for the V Play. Harry just hoped that the Slytherin Chasers wouldn't be able to get to the Quaffle.

Ginny flew down the field with Dean and Seamus right behind. Then Dennis and Pickler flew in right behind them.

“What's this?!” Luna said, “We haven't seen this play before!”

“Loony Lovegood is right,” Horn said. His sneer had left his face. “What is this play, Potter?”

“Wouldn't you like to know?” Harry said, grinning.

He watched as Ginny flew down the field. She passed the Quaffle to Dean, who immediately passed it to Seamus. An opposing Chaser flew toward them, but Dennis saw him and smacked an incoming Bludger toward him. This was the perfected V play they were practicing.

“Nothing can stop them!” Luna yelled, “It's up to the Keeper! But the Keeper looks confused!”

Ginny had the Quaffle again. Suddenly, a Bludger came in from under her, and Ginny saw it, but dropped the Quaffle. The Slytherin captain took it and flew down the field.

“Oh! Interception by the Slytherin captain!” Luna yelled, “And the Gryffindor Chasers are having trouble breaking away from their group.”

Luna was right. Because of the close proximity that the V Play required, Luna, Dean and Seamus were having trouble maneuvering back toward the opposing Chasers.

“It's up to Ron!” Luna yelled.

The Slytherin Captain threw the Quaffle toward the middle ring. Ron tried to catch it, but he missed it by inches and it sailed threw! Another Chaser caught it, but Ron knew what was coming. The Chaser tossed the Quaffle back toward the Slytherin captain, but Ron intercepted it!

“Ron Weasley stops the twenty-point play, but Slytherin still scores!” Luna yelled, “It is now thirty to ten in Slytherin's favor!”

Thirty minutes later, and the game was still as fierce as ever. Unfortunately, Slytherin had a commanding lead, Fifty to one-hundred and eighty. Slytherins control of the Quaffle was unbelievable and their defense was just as good. Harry knew he had to catch the Snitch if they were going to win, but he couldn't find the Snitch anywhere! The only good thing was that Horn was just as confused as he was!

Slytherin was, once again, in possession. They were doing a play that Harry could only identify as the opposite V. The Beaters were guarding the Chasers with ease. Ginny tried to intercept the Quaffle as it was thrown, but she had to veer off so she wouldn't get pummeled by a Bludger! The Slytherin Captain flew in between her fellow Chasers and Beaters just as they reached the rings. A Beater and a Chaser then flew in behind the rings. The captain threw the Quaffle toward the left ring, and it sailed through. It was then caught by another Chaser, who threw it back to his Captain. Ginny flew in as the Quaffle was thrown, and she caught it before it could even get near Ron.

“And Captain Ginny Weasley saves the score” Luna said, “But the score is now one-hundred and ninety to fifty in favor of Slytherin.”

Suddenly, Harry saw Horn fly off toward the center of the field. Harry followed him, then immediately saw the gold glint that was the Snitch floating around near the ground. Harry caught up to Horn and they were neck and neck. Harry saw a Bludger out of the corner of his eye and stopped, but Horn flew on. WHAM! The end of Horn's broom got destroyed by the Bludger and Horn flew off in a tailspin!

“Oh! And there goes the Slytherin Seeker crashing toward the ground!” Luna yelled, “Ah! And Slytherin intercepts the Quaffle that was thrown by Dean Thomas!”

Harry knew he had to get the Snitch now. Otherwise, they were going to lose. Harry flew toward the Snitch as it floated higher into the sky.

“Oh, no you don't!” Harry yelled.

Harry knew what the Snitch was doing. It was trying to get high enough to avoid Harry. Harry knew he couldn't go in at a vertical motion. So he flew up into the sky and dove back toward the Snitch. He flew near it and was now inches from the Snitch. He reached out one hand...

“Slytherin scores!” Luna yelled.

Harry felt the Snitch's wings in his hand and he closed his hand around it and caught the Snitch!

“Harry caught the Snitch!” Luna said, “Wait a minute, though! What's this?! The score is tied! Two-hundred to two-hundred! We have a tie! I've never seen that before! What will Madam Hooch say.”

Madam Hooch went out to the center of the field.

“Gryffindor and Slytherin teams,” she announced, “We have just witnessed a rare tie! We will now be having a shoot-out!”

“A shoot-out!” Luna said, “We will have a shoot-out! Wait... what's a shoot-out?”

“In a shoot-out,” Madam Hooch announced, “All six players other than the Keeper on each team will be shooting the Quaffle into the rings. The first team to get six points will win the game. If we have a tie by the end of six rounds, we keep going. Since Gryffindor's Seeker caught the Snitch, they will go first. Then each team switches off. I will give the teams a minute to sort out the order of who goes first.”

Harry flew over to Ginny and the rest of the team.

“That Slytherin team is tough!” Seamus said, out of breath, “Sorry, Ginny, but we didn't have much control.”

“It is okay!” Ginny said, calm as ever, “We are at a tie right now. We have to win this. Here is the order we will go. First the Beaters will go, Pickler, then Creevey. Then Dean, and Seamus. Harry you will go fifth, then I will shoot last. I can not stress this enough. We have to win. Got it?”

“Got it!” Creevey yelled.

“Got it!” the rest of the team yelled in unison.

“Ron,” Ginny said, “Please promise me that you can catch those Quaffles.”

“I will try, sis,” Ron said.

Ginny nodded.

“Pickler, you are first,” she said.

“Yes, Captain,” Pickler said.

Pickler flew away from the team and into position. Madam Hooch gave her the Quaffle. Hooch blew the whistle, and Pickler flew toward the rings and shot the Quaffle toward the left ring. The Slytherin Keeper hit it with his hand and away from the rings! The Slytherins cheered. Harry heard Ginny sigh.

“We'll be okay, Ginny,” Harry reassured her.

The first Slytherin to take a shot was the Captain. Ron took position. The Slytherin Captain faked the shot toward the left and threw the Quaffle toward the right ring. It sailed through!

“Slytherin leads one shot to zero!” Luna announced.

“Your turn, Creevey!” Ginny said.

Dennis flew into position Hooch gave him the Quaffle. Dennis flew off toward the rings. He faked the shot to the right, then faked again to the left and threw it toward the middle ring! It sailed through!

The Gryffindors cheered.

“All tied up now, but it is Slytherin's turn!” Luna said.

The first Slytherin Beater missed when Ron caught the Quaffle. Then both Seamus, Dean, and the other Beater all made their shots. It was tied up once again. It was Harry's turn now.

He flew into position and Hooch handed him the Quaffle. He looked back at Ginny, who smiled. He smiled back, then turned his attention to the rings. The Keeper sneered. Harry flew off toward the rings.

“The Keeper will know if I fake,” Harry whispered to himself, “Let's see.”

He then threw the Quaffle toward the right ring, and the Keeper flew toward the left! The Quaffle sailed through.

“Yes!” Harry yelled.

“Gryffindor leads!” Luna yelled, “Next up is the last Slytherin Chaser!”

The Slytherin Chaser flew into position. Madam Hooch gave him the Quaffle, and as soon as she did, he threw it toward the rings. Ron was a bit surprised, but he flew toward the left ring and caught the Quaffle by his finger tips!

The Gryffindors cheered!

“Nice catch!” Ginny said to Ron, as he flew over to them.

“If Ginny makes this shot,” Luna said, “Gryffindor wins!”

“No pressure, Ginny,” Ron joked.

“Yeah,” Ginny said, ”Thanks.”

Harry watched as Ginny flew off into position.

“This is Ginny's chance now,” Dennis said, “The Qudditch scouts are watching her.”

Harry looked up at the Professor's stands. Viktor Krum and Gwenog Jones were standing up. Their concentration was on Ginny.

Madam Hooch handed the Quaffle to Ginny. She flew off toward the rings. She faked a shot toward the middle and threw the Quaffle toward the right. The Slytherin Keeper tried to grab it, but it sailed past him and through the rings!

“Gryffindor wins!” Luna yelled.

Harry and the rest of the team flew over to Ginny and clapped her on the back. Ginny had tears in her eyes.

“What a game!” Luna yelled, “What a game!”

“Party in Gryffindor Common Room for sure!” Seamus yelled.

Harry, Ginny and the rest of the team flew around the stadium in a victory lap and then landed on the ground.

“The scouts were watching, Ginny,” Harry said, when he entered the Locker room with her.

“Were they?” Ginny asked, “I wasn't paying attention.”

“Yeah,” Ron said, “They had all their attention on you.”

Ginny grinned. Harry knew there was no way that grin would leave her face for the rest of the day.

Chapter finished! Another Quidditch-packed chapter! Yes, it was my plan for the game to be a tie, and for Slytherin to have a commanding lead. I know it might have made Ginny and the other Chasers look bad, but it worked out in the end.

Hope you liked the chapter! It's been a while since I had two chapters up so close to each other. I got to think about what I will do with the next chapter. I have my plans for the last week of December, but this chapter ended the first week, so I need to do something else to pass the time before that. Might be a few days before I get the next chapter up.

Feedback would be great!

May 27th, 2008, 4:12 pm
Chapter 43
No Title

Author's Note: This chapter will be in multiple PoVs. I will warn you... this chapter gets a little... fluffy.

(Ron's PoV)

The celebration party lasted long into the night, but there was one member of the Gryffindor Qudditch team who hadn't attended it.

Ron was up in his bedroom with Hermione. They were both sitting on Ron's bed, and their N.E.W.T study pamphlets were spread out all over it. Over half of Ron's pamphlet was finished. Most of Hermione's was finished as well. Ron found an empty pamphlet and groaned when he read the subject at the top: Potions.

“Do I have to take the Potions N.E.W.T?” Ron asked Hermione.

“If you want to be an Auror with Harry, you do,” Hermione said, “Potions are essential for an Auror. You have to recognize poisons. You need to be able to brew Veritaserum for interrogations, Polyjuice Potions for undercover missions, and antidotes and medicines for... you know... if you get hurt.”

“How do you know so much?” Ron asked, smiling.

“I don't know,” Hermione said, shrugging, “I study.”

“So do I!” Ron said.

Hermione raised an eyebrow.

“I do!” Ron said, raising his voice, “Just not as much as you. I mean... I think I've done pretty well with all the other subjects in this pamphlet up to this point. It's just, you know, I don't like Potions. Blame Snape for that one.”

“Come on,” Hermione scoffed, “You do well in potions. You did pretty well by yourself when we were fighting.”

Ron rolled his eyes.

“You did!” Hermione said, “I mean it!”

“I cheated,” Ron admitted, “I copied off of Ginny. She really knows her stuff!”

“That's impossible,” Hermione said, shaking her head, “She got a better grade than you that day.”

“That was your fault,” Ron said, chortling.

“My fault?!” Hermione scoffed.

“Yeah,” Ron said, “We may not have been talking to each other. But do you know how hard it is for me to go a few minutes without thinking of you? Or looking at you?”

“That's sweet, Ron,” Hermione said, with a smile. “But then... why didn't you copy off me that day?”

“You would have yelled at me,” Ron said.

“At least we would have been talking to each other,” Hermione said.

Ron grinned. He tried to kiss her, but she put her hand up.

“We really need to get back to work,” she said.

“I don't want to,” Ron said, in a mock-whine.

“I thought you did!” Hermione exclaimed, “That is the reason why we aren't downstairs celebrating with everyone else.”

“To be honest,” Ron said, “I only said that because I wanted to spend some private time with you.”

Hermione sighed. She then grinned.

“I have an idea,” she said, smiling, “We will do a little game.”

“I'm listening,” Ron said.

“We will ask each other questions,” Hermione said, “If I get one wrong, and you get one right, then er... I don't know...”

“I could kiss you and stuff,” Ron said.

Hermione sighed.

“Yeah,” she said, “Okay.”

“But that is going to be almost impossible,” he said, groaning, “You're better than me at every subject.”

“Not every subject,” Hermione said, “I will admit that you and Harry are better than I am with Defense Against the Dark Arts. So I'll ask you questions about Potions, and you ask me questions about Defense Against the Dark Arts. Okay?”

Ron thought for a moment, then nodded.

“Okay,” he said, “You're on.”

“We'll go down the list,” Hermione said.

Ron found his completed Defense Against the Dark Arts pamphlet. He looked at the questions.

“I'll go first,” Hermione offered, “I will start with an easy one. What ingredient can be used for most antidotes?”

“A bezoar,” Ron said, “Of course I know that one. It saved my life once.”

“Correct! See!” Hermione said, encouragingly, “You can do this. You just have to think of an event that happened when you learned about the particular thing in question. Your turn now.”

Ron closed his eyes.

“What are you doing?” Hermione asked, with an annoyed sigh.

“Will you let me do this?” Ron interjected, opening his eyes again. “I don't know what to ask you!”

“Okay, okay,” Hermione said, “Just hurry up. Otherwise, we will be at this all night.”

Ron sighed. He closed his eyes again and moved a finger down the first page of the pamphlet. He stopped and opened his eyes. He looked at the question.

“Okay,” Ron said, “Here goes. What creature is also known as a water demon?”

“A Grindylow,” Hermione said.

“Right,” Ron said.

“What potion is the opposite of Veritaserum?” Hermione asked, reading from her pamphlet, “And what does it do?”

Ron sighed. They had learned that earlier this year. He knew what the potion did, at least.

“It is a lie potion,” Ron said, “It causes you to lie for twenty-four hours. There is no known antidote.”

“What is the name of it, though?” Hermione asked.

Ron paused. It sounded a bit like Veritaserum. He knew that. He sighed. This was absolutely mental! He smiled. That's it!

“Men...tiraserum?” Ron asked, unsure of his answer.

Hermione paused. Ron groaned.

“Correct!” Hermione said.

Ron grinned.

“Your turn,” Hermione said.

“Let's see,” Ron said, looking at his pamphlet, “Aha! Name five ways you can identify a werewolf.”

Hermione inhaled and exhaled. Ron knew from Hermione's reaction that he had picked a good question.

“Go on,” he said, grinning.

“Don't pressure me, Ronald,” Hermione said, annoyed, “It's been a while since I thought about this. Let's see. The snout, the tufted tail, the eyes. Uh... the size of the wolf...”

“And?” Ron asked.

Hermione sighed.

“The full moon?” she guessed.

“Wrong,” Ron said, “The fur. Werewolves don't have much on their body if any at all.”

“Damn!” Hermione groaned, mad at herself, “I knew that!”

“The full moon? Really?” Ron asked, grinning, “I mean... what if you're inside when you encounter a werewolf?”

“Okay, okay,” Hermione sighed, “You win that round.”

Ron smiled. He leaned over to Hermione and kissed her. He deepened the kiss, and Hermione giggled, then backed away.

“Cheater,” she said, laughing, “You've only won one round so far.”

“Yeah... right,” Ron said, clearing his throat.

“Let's continue,” Hermione said, regaining her composure, “And can we please get past the creature questions? I doubt there will be that many on the exam.”

“They're in the pamphlet, Hermione!” Ron said, pointing a finger at the pamphlet.

“There are a lot of questions in the pamphlet, Ron,” Hermione said, “Some of these questions are here just to throw us off.”

“That's no fair!” Ron said, scoffing.

“I know,” Hermione said, “Next round. Let's see...”

Hermione asked a question about the properties of a moonstone next. Ron had no clue what the answer was. The only thing he could remember about a moonstone was that he was having trouble writing the essay about it. That didn't help at all.

He was so angry that he couldn't answer the question, that the next question he asked happened to be one of the easiest in the pamphlet: What are the three Unforgivable Curses?

“This is an easy one,” Hermione said, “The Killing Curse, the Torture Curse, and the Imperius Curse. I doubt the incantations will be on the test. Especially since we have to use incantations in the verbal exam. Okay... my turn. What is the potion used for healing deep cuts?”

“It's either essence of murtlap,” Ron said, “Or dittany.”

“One is right,” Hermione said, “Which one? Think Ronald.”

“Essence of murtlap was what you gave Harry when he came back from Umbridge's detentions,” Ron said, thinking back, “Those cuts weren't that deep. So essence of dittany is my answer.”

“Correct!” Hermione said, “Your turn.”

Ron sighed, relieved, and looked down at the pamphlet.

“What is another name for a Patronus that has taken its complete form?” he asked.

“Ethereal Patronus,” Hermione answered.

“Wrong!” Ron said, “Corporeal Patronus.”

“Bugger,” Hermione groaned, “I knew that! I knew it!”

“Did you?” Ron asked.

Hermione pouted. “Maybe,” she said.

Ron grinned. He leaned over and kissed her. She giggled as he deepened the kiss, and leaned back against his pillow. Ron brushed his hand against her stomach, and she laughed, and gently pushed him away.

“Sorry,” Ron said, quickly, afraid he did something wrong.

“It's okay,” Hermione said, in a small voice, as she sat back up, “It just tickled. That's all.”

“Next round,” Ron said, picking up a sheet from his pamphlet.

“No,” Hermione said, sighing, “That's it for tonight.”

“What?” Ron asked, “Was it something I did?”

“No, I promise,” Hermione said.

She gathered up the sheets of her pamphlet and stood up.

“Hermione,” Ron said.

“I'm fine,” Hermione said, rather quickly.

“Want to see if Harry and Ginny are still downstairs?” Ron asked.

“No,” Hermione said, walking over to the door, “I'm tired. I'm going to go to bed.”

“Okay,” Ron said, “I love you, Hermione.”

Hermione turned around and smiled. “I love you too, Ron,” she said.

She then opened the door, and walked out, then closed it. Ron sighed, as he looked at the spot where Hermione was just standing. He couldn't help but feel that he had done something wrong. He picked up his quill and quickly jotted down the answers to the Potion questions they had gone over. He then picked up the sheets of his pamphlet and put them on the bedside table. He stood up and changed into his pajamas, then turned off the light and went to bed.

(Harry's PoV)

The celebration was over. Harry and Ginny were the only two students left in the Common Room. They were on the couch in front of the roaring fireplace, and Ginny was cuddled up against Harry. Ginny wasn't talking, but Harry could hear her breathing. For a while, he thought she was asleep, but when he looked at her, her eyes were open. She was staring at the fire.

“What's wrong?” Harry's asked.

“Nothing,” Ginny said, “Just thinking.”

“Oh yeah?” Harry asked, “What about?”

“Quidditch,” Ginny said.

“Of course,” Harry said, rolling his eyes.

Ginny turned and slapped him gently on the chest. Harry laughed.

“You're really feisty sometimes,” he said, “You know that?”

“Blame my mother for that one,” Ginny said, with a laugh.

“I'll have to remember that,” Harry said, sighing. “I wonder what your brother and Hermione are doing.”

“I don't know,” Ginny said, “I haven't seen them for a while. Maybe they are out doing their Head student duties.”

“No,” Harry said, looking at his watch, “They would be back by now. Besides, I think I saw them go upstairs. Together if I'm not mistaken.”

Ginny turned around.

“When was this?” she asked.

“I don't know,” Harry asked, shrugging, “Hours ago. But you know Hermione. She's probably torturing your brother right now trying to get him to study for the N.E.W.Ts.”

“What about you?” Ginny asked, teasing, “Do I need to torture you to get you to study?”

“For your information, I am doing fine by myself,” Harry said.

“Really?” Ginny asked.

“Yeah,” Harry said, “Why?”

“No reason,” Ginny said, turning her face back toward the fire, “I just can't help but think that after Christmas break, I won't get to see you for a few months.”

“I'll come and visit,” Harry said, “If only just to make it for the last Quidditch game.”

“I don't know,” Ginny said, “I mean... I assume you'll be pretty busy. You're going to go into Auror training soon after leaving Hogwarts, right?”

“Not too soon,” Harry said, “I really want to get settled into my new house.”

“What?” Ginny asked, surprised, “You haven't mentioned that!”

“I've been thinking about it,” Harry said, shrugging, “It will be nice to have a house of my own. At least... you know, until you get out of here.”

Ginny sighed.

“What is it?” Harry asked.

Harry sighed silently. Was he too quick in assuming she'd want to move in with him already?

“I don't know,” Ginny said, “I can't help but think about how Mum would react to that.”

“I can see it now,” Harry said, “She'll be a leaky faucet, that's for sure. 'My baby girl's all grown up' and stuff like that.”

Ginny laughed. Harry laughed too, if only to hide the relief that she wasn't mad at him.

“Yeah,” she said, “That's probably pretty close. But you know my Mum. She won't accept it until I'm gone.”

“Funny,” Harry said, “That's what Ron said before he, Hermione and I went to hunt for Horcruxes.”

“I wouldn't put it past him,” Ginny said, laughing.

“Do you know what he's going to do when he leaves Hogwarts?” Harry asked, “He hasn't told me. I just thought it was because he wasn't sure.”

“He wants to be an Auror with you,” Ginny said, “But he also promised George that he would help with the joke shop until he got more staff. So... I don't know.”

Both Harry and Ginny went silent for a little while. This discussion about life after Hogwarts led him to think more about what he was going to do. He knew that his life wouldn't be as good as he wanted it to be until the threat of Death Eaters was long gone. That was one of the reasons he wanted to be an Auror. He felt that for the threat to be gone, he would have to take care of it himself. But he couldn't do anything about that until he was out of Hogwarts.

“Harry?” Ginny asked, “You okay? You went quiet there.”

“I'm fine,” Harry said, sighing, “Just tired.”

“Yeah,” Ginny said, leaning her head against Harry's chest, “Me too.”

“We should go to bed,” Harry said, “We may be the only two awake in the whole tower.”

“This is really nice, though,” Ginny said.

“Yeah,” Harry agreed.

Ginny smiled at Harry. Harry leaned in and kissed her. He deepened the kiss and every worry in the world went away. He was back to that glorious feeling that he and Ginny were the only two people in the world. Nothing else mattered. Then Ginny backed away. Harry opened his eyes. The fire reflected in Ginny's eyes. She looked more beautiful now then ever.

“I love you, Ginny,” Harry said, softly.

“I love you too,” Ginny said.

“And we do need to go to bed,” Harry said.

“I agree,” Ginny said, “How comfortable is your bed?”

Harry raised an eyebrow.

“Just kidding,” Ginny said, with a laugh.

She stood up. Harry stood up as well and they walked up the stairs. Ginny quickly kissed Harry once more and smiled at him, before wishing him a good night, and retreating up her staircase. Harry walked up the staircase to his dormitory.

Throughout the next couple of weeks, Professor McGonagall, Browne and the rest of the professors were making sure that the 'eighth years' would be ready for their N.E.W.Ts. During the two Fridays prior to the last week of December, the N.E.W.Ts preparation class went from two to four hours. This meant more work and more stress. The only relief for the 'eighth years' was that there would be a pre-exam Hogsmeade visit on the Saturday before the last week of December. Professor McGonagall also made a very special announcement on Saturday morning at breakfast.

“Can I have your attention?” Professor McGonagall announced at to the students, “Next Friday, the seventh years and those known as 'eighth years' are invited to a Commencement dance at six in the evening, right here in the Great Hall. While everyone will be leaving for Christmas Break next Saturday, the 'eighth years' will be leaving us forever. This dance will be a final farewell for you. We all hope you do well in the future.”

The spirits were high for the seventh and 'eighth' years, and the worry about N.E.W.T exams was, for the moment at least, forgotten. As Harry, Ginny, Ron and Hermione walked toward an empty carriage that was about to make its way down to Hogsmeade, Harry distinctly heard Lavender, Parvati and Padma chatting about the lovely dresses they could look for down in the village. Seamus and Dean were trailing behind them, looking thoroughly annoyed.

“I wish this announcement came earlier,” Ginny said, as she entered the carriage with Harry, Ron and Hermione, “I don't have anything nice to wear for the dance.”

“Oh, the shame,” Ron said, s******ing.

Hermione glared at Ron.

“You might be able to rent one,” Harry suggested to Ginny.

“That actually sounds like a good idea,” Hermione said, “What do you say Ginny?”

“All right,” Ginny said, “But we'll have to hurry. I am sure the store will be a bit crowded soon.”

Twenty minutes later, the carriage arrived at the village.

“Are you two coming with us?” Hermione asked.

“I'm going to wear my school robes to the dance,” Ron said, “I am not going through that fiasco again. At least I know I will look good enough.”

Harry laughed, as he recalled Ron's horrible dress robes at the Yule Ball.

“And you Harry?” Ginny asked.

“I'll be wearing my school robes as well,” Harry said, “You two go. We will head to George's shop.”

Hermione and Ginny walked down a side road, while Harry and Ron walked down the main road toward Weasley's Wizard Wheezes. They arrived and walked inside. George was standing behind the counter. He spotted Harry and Ron, who walked over.

“Hey, you two!” George yelled over the hustle and the noise, “Where's the girls?”

“Renting dresses for the Commencement Dance,” Harry said.

“Commencement Dance?” George asked, “Really?”

“Yeah,” Ron said, “Professor McGonagall just announced it today. It's next Friday.”

“What about you?” George asked, “Why aren't you getting something to wear for the dance? Or are you going naked?”

“We're just going in our school robes,” Ron said.

“What?” George said with a sigh, “No. Ron, as your big brother, I refuse to let you do that. And Harry, as a good friend, that goes for you too.”

“What are you talking about?” Ron asked.

“You'll see,” George said.

He picked up a small silver bell and shook it. It gave a loud, bellowing ring. Ron and Harry, as well as most of the students shopping in the store, had to cover their ears to shut out the noise.

“George! Do I have to destroy that bell?!” a familiar voice yelled from the back room.

The door to the back room opened and Angelina Johnson walked out.

“Harry! Ron!” she exclaimed, “Nice to see you again!”

“Angelina!” Ron said, surprised, “You're working here?”

“She visited the shop in Diagon Alley one day a couple months ago and saw the 'help wanted' sign,” George explained, “She's been working with me ever since. Angie, can you tend the shop for a bit? I need to give something to my brother and Harry.”

“Hurry back,” Angelina said, “Or I will destroy this bell! And don't call me Angie!”

“Yes, dear,” George said then looked at Ron and Harry. “Come on, you two.”

Harry and Ron followed George to the back of the store. There were stairs going up to the second level. George unlocked the door at the top of the stairs and he walked in. Harry and Ron followed. What Harry thought would be an office, was actually a small pad complete with bedroom, bathroom, kitchen and a good-sized living room.

“This is my home away from home when I want to get away from Diagon Alley,” George explained, “Wait here.”

George walked into the bedroom but left the door open.

“So, George,” Ron said, “I kind of noticed something between you and Angelina down there. Is there something you'd like to tell us?”

George walked out with a large bag.

“That's private, little brother,” he said.

“I knew it!” Ron said, “You and Angelina are together, aren't you?”

“If I say yes,” George said, “Will it shut you up? Fine... yes. Now, I got something for both of you. It is just a rental. You have to give them back.”

George opened the sack and pulled out two tuxedos. Harry could tell from where he was standing that they were dragon-skinned.

“They're not exactly your size,” George said, “But I can enchant them to fix that.”

George took his wand from his pocket and pointed it to the suits. He waved it around enchanting something under his breath.

“That should do the trick,” he said after he finished.

“I don't know what to say,” Ron said.

“Yeah,” Harry said.

“It's not what I want you to say,” George said, “It's what I don't want you to say.”

“What are you talking about?” Ron asked.

“I can't believe I am telling you this,” George said, with a sigh, “Angelina and I are engaged to be married. Dad and Mum don't know, and I don't want them to know right now. You know Mum would have a fit.”

“Fine,” Ron said, “I won't tell them.”

“And don't tell Ginny either,” George said, “That goes for both of you. She can't keep a secret.”

“Of course she can,” Harry said.

“Then obviously you don't know Ginny as well as you should,” George said.

“Fine,” Ron said, “We both agree.”

“Yeah,” Harry said.

“Good,” George said, returning the suits to the bag.

He handed the bag to Ron.

“Let's go back down,” George said, “Otherwise Angelina will have a fit!”

George, Harry and Ron walked back downstairs. Ginny and Hermione had arrived and were talking to Angelina. Each of them had a large bag in their hand.

“There you two are!” Hermione said, “Where have you been?”

“I was just giving them a gift,” George said.

“Hermione was telling me that your N.E.W.Ts are next week,” Angelina said, “You guys ready for them?”

“As ready as we can be,” Harry said.

“Good to hear,” Angelina said, turning to George, “Before I forget. George, someone was asking about a Polyjuice Pendant.”

“Was it a student?” George asked.

“Looked too old,” Angelina said, shaking her head.

“That's probably someone from the Ministry, then,” George said, “They've been trying to get my inventions for a while now. Where are they?”

“I told them you'd be back,” Angelina said, “But they left a couple minutes ago.”

“All right,” George said, turning to Harry and Ron, “Well, I'd better get back to tending the store. Good luck with your N.E.W.Ts, and have fun at the dance.”

“Thanks,” Ron said.

Harry, Ron, Ginny and Hermione said farewell to George and Angelina, and left the store.

“It was nice to see Angelina,” Ginny said.

“Yeah,” Hermione said, “George needed the company.”

Ron s******ed. Harry gave him a warning look and he stopped.

“What was that about?” Ginny asked, glaring at both of them.

“Nothing,” Ron said, “A bug flew into my mouth.”

Ron faked a cough.

“Uh-huh,” Ginny said, in an I-doubt-it voice.

Ginny didn't say anything more, but Harry suggested that they could go to the Three Broomstick's for a drink. Everyone agreed.

By the end of the trip, Harry was really happy to have a last worry-free day before N.E.W.Ts. The next few days were going to change Harry's future... for the better or worse.

Chapter finished! Before I wrote this, I wasn't exactly sure what to put in this chapter. But as I finish this chapter, I can say that I am extremely happy with what I did for this chapter.

The next chapter will be the N.E.W.T exams.

Feedback will be welcomed!

May 27th, 2008, 4:15 pm
Chapter 44

Author's Note: This chapter will be in Harry's PoV.

Early Sunday morning, a piece of parchment appeared on the note-board in Gryffindor Tower. It was the N.E.W.T schedule.

On Monday, everyone would take the written test for every subject on their list. That would last from shortly after breakfast to shortly before lunch. Then the verbal exams would go in alphabetical order with the exception of Astronomy, which would be taken in the evening. Harry's first verbal exam would be Charms, and that was the last verbal N.E.W.T on the first day.

“That's a lot to cram in to three days,” Hermione said, with a worried tone, as she looked at the schedule.

“Kind of makes you feel happy you dropped all of those extra subjects, right?” Ron asked.

“Yeah,” Hermione said, “But I do still have one subject more than you and Harry.”

Harry, Ron and Hermione, as well as the rest of the 'eighth years' spent most of Sunday inside their Common Rooms or dormitories doing some last-minute cramming for N.E.W.Ts. Occasionally they would take a break and go outside for some fresh air, even when the weather was extremely cold. But it wasn't uncommon to see a few students with their eyes glued to their study pamphlets while they were standing outside.

For many students though, their only break from studying on Sunday was at lunch. Professors McGonagall, Sprout, and Flitwick were walking around the tables in order to make sure that each student was taking a break from studying. Occasionally, they had to tell a frantic eighth year, who had their nose pressed down to the study guide, that it was okay to take a break here and there.

Ginny walked into the Great Hall for lunch, looking very cold. She sat down with Harry, Ron and Hermione with a notebook half-full of notes.

“Where have you been?” Harry asked.

“At the Qudditch Pitch,” Ginny said.

Ginny explained to Harry what she had been doing. She had promised Harry that she would leave him alone that day, so she was using her time wisely. The notebook was there because she was interviewing Gryffindors here and there, trying to get replacements for the Qudditch team members who would be leaving Hogwarts.

“I've just been watching a few students audition for the team,” Ginny said.

“Are you mad?” Ron asked, shocked, “You're doing that in this weather?!”

“Of course,” Ginny said, “I have to make sure I have a team when I return after Christmas Break. We basically have to start over with everything. I'm just lucky the last match isn't until spring.”

Ginny looked over her shoulder toward the large oak doors. A couple students had walked in.

“Ah! Two more possible teammates!” she said, smiling.

She hopped up from the table and walked toward the students.

“She's mental!” Ron said, watching his sister.

“I think it's a good idea,” Hermione said.

“Oh, it is a great idea!” Ron said, “But going down to the Quidditch Pitch in this weather? She's crazy!”

Ginny walked back over to the table. She was pink in the face.

“My mistake,” she said, “They were Ravenclaw students.”

Harry and Hermione laughed.

“Mental!” Ron repeated, shaking his head and returning to his lunch.

After a good night's sleep, Harry was sure that he was ready to take his N.E.W.Ts. He walked down to the Great Hall. Outside the doors of the Great Hall, a sign read:

Attention “Eighth Years”:
The N.E.W.T exams will take place at eight-fifteen a.m. sharp.
If you have any questions, please be in the Great Hall at eight a.m.
Good luck!

Harry walked in to the Great Hall and over to the Gryffindor table. Hermione was eating breakfast, but Ron was looking over his study guide. He wasn't alone. Neville, Dean and Parvati were also looking over their study guides. Neville had gone cross-eyed because he was reading so quickly.

“Ron, it's not a good idea to study right before you take your exams,” Hermione said, as Harry sat down across from her, “You tend to forget everything.”

Neville looked up at Hermione.

“Is that true?” he asked.

“Most of the time, yeah,” Hermione said.

“That's rubbish!” Parvati said.

“Suit yourself,” Hermione said.

Ron, Neville, Parvati and Dean then stacked their pamphlet up and stuffed it back into their knapsacks.

“You could have told me that before, you know,” Ron said, “Now I am going to fail everything!”

“No you're not,” Hermione said, rolling her eyes.

“Miss Granger's right,” Professor McGonagall said, walking up behind Harry, “All of you did very well in the preparation class.”

“Thanks,” Hermione said.

“Yeah, thanks,” Ron muttered.

“Don't worry,” McGonagall said, “Believe me. The exams aren't as nastily exhausting as the name suggests.”

She gave a rare encouraging smile and walked off toward the Professor's table. Fifteen minutes to eight, she stood up and tapped her glass lightly.

“Can I have your attention?” she addressed the students, “I want everyone to finish up within the next few minutes. That includes those who will take the exams. We need to prepare the Great Hall for the N.E.W.T exams. To the 'eighth years', I give you this last bit of advice. Take a deep breath. Count to ten. Just relax. I assure you it will make your exams that much easier.”

The Great Hall emptied out shortly after Professor McGonagall finished. Mr. Filch stood guard at the doors while Harry and the rest of the 'eighth years' waited in the entrance hall. Some were patiently waiting, but others looked nervous. Ginny wished Harry, Ron and Hermione good luck and walked up the grand staircase.


A few minutes later, Argus Filch opened the doors and peeked in. He then opened the doors completely. Harry and the other students walked in. The four long tables were gone and were replaced with normal desks.

“Look for your name on a desk,” McGonagall announced, “That is where you will be sitting.”

Everyone shuffled around looking for their desks. Harry found his desk and sat down. Hermione was sitting a couple rows ahead of him, and Ron was sitting near the back of the Great Hall.

“You will have four hours to finish your exams,” McGonagall addressed the students when everyone was seated, “There will be no reason to look on your neighbor's paper. Most of the time, they will not be exactly like your exam. You will not be able to see anything on them anyway. You will be using anti-cheating quills and ink, of course.”

She took her wand from inside her robes and waved it around. Quills and ink appeared on each desk.

“Take your time with your exams,” McGonagall said, “We have given you enough time to make sure that you all complete them. If you don't know an answer to a question, skip it and come back. It will be much easier that way. Now I will take any questions.”

“What if we finish early?” Padma Patil asked.

“Alert a professor, and one of us will take your exam,” McGonagall answered, “Then you may leave the Great Hall. Next? Mr. MacMillan.”

“Could you tell us more about the verbal exams?” Ernie asked.

“They will be similar to the exams you took in your fifth year,” McGonagall answered, “Except that they will be much harder, of course. Because of the problems the Ministry of Magic has had over the past year, the normal exam professors will not be attending this year. Instead, your normal Professor will be testing you. Next? Mr. Finnegan.”

“When will we get the results?” Seamus asked.

“Sometime during the first couple weeks of January,” McGonagall answered, “Any more questions?”

No one raised their hands or spoke up.

“Good,” McGonagall continued, “In a moment, your exam will appear in front of you. Again, relax and take your time. You will find that it will be a lot easier. Good luck. You may begin... now.”

She waved her wand once more and the exams appeared in front of each student. The size of the exams differentiated between each student depending on how many subjects they were taking.

Harry cleared his throat quietly. He took a quill and dipped it into the ink. The first page only had Harry's name followed by “Nastily Exhausting Wizarding Tests” and a list of subjects in which he would be taking: Charms, Defense Against the Dark Arts, Herbology, Potions and Transfiguration.

Harry turned the page. Charms was the first exam he would be taking. He started on the first question and was surprised to see that it was on something he had learned back in first year: Name the Levitation spell and the type of movement the spell requires. Harry answered. He soon found that the questions increased with difficulty as they exam progressed. The essay question for Charms was an opinion question:

How were Charms associated with the First and Second wizarding wars? Did they help or hinder the result of each war?

Harry felt he had answered the question to the best of his ability. It turned out that Charms was by far the easiest subject on the exam. The exception, perhaps, was with the next exam: Defense Against the Dark Arts. The exam's questions ranged from dark creatures, to questions about dark wizards, i