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A History of Magic: The Harry Potter Era



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Old August 9th, 2007, 3:19 am
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A History of Magic: The Harry Potter Era

This is my second attempt at fan fiction. Like other stories in this thread, it looks at the time in the intervening nineteen years between the Battle of Hogwarts and the famous Epilogue. Like my previous story, it centers on the relationship between Harry and Ginny.

Your feedback is greatly appreciated. Please let me know your reaction here:

http://www.cosforums.com/showthread.php?t=110463

So, with no further ado,

Chapter 1 – The Morning Commute

The main hall of the Ministry of Magic was bustling with activity. Arrivals using the Floo Network whooshed in a flurry of dust and noise. The area bustled with a flurry of bodies moving rapidly into the Ministry. Wizards and goblins, muggles and witches of all types moved through the atrium, all with a purpose and destination, barely taking note of each other. Among them, a single wizard garbed in the black robes of an Auror followed along the predominant current of humanity, allowing it to carry him towards the elevators. He was of average height, with a head of dark hair, trimmed relatively short. Perched precariously on his nose was a pair of round spectacles, tilted slightly askew from the jostling the man had endured upon his entry to the great hall. Altogether, he presented a rather ordinary picture among the masses engaged in their morning commute, except if one was to look at his eyes. His eyes had the ability to capture a wandering stare, a vivid green that blazed, as if their owner had seen wondrous things and was sharing the afterglow of that experience with anyone who cared to look. As he approached the elevator, the man seemed indifferent to his surroundings. Without a glimpse around him, he boarded the lift and selected his destination. He barely noticed the doors beginning to close.

“Harry! Hold the lift, will you! Harry, hang on!”

Startled out of his morning commute daze, Harry Potter reacted to his name and pushed his hand holding his rucksack between the elevator doors, stopping their closure. Harry saw a pale hand inserted between the doors, followed by a shoulder, higher up on the door, indicating a tall man was trying to pry enough room between them to pull the rest of his body into the elevator. The shoulder was soon followed by a tuft of crimson hair that seemed to pull the rest of the man into the lift. After a moment, Ron Weasley, Harry’s best friend, had managed to board the crowded elevator.

“Thanks mate. I’m glad you heard me.”

“Hi Ron,” Harry greeted his friend, “what brings you down this way? Come to see Hermione?”

“Well, yeah,” said Ron, dipping his head sheepishly. “What?” asked Harry, immediately curious as to what would make his friend so embarrassed?

“Promise you won’t laugh?”

“Laugh at what? Come on now, Ron, what are doing down here, give it up.”

Ron cast a furtive glance around the lift, making sure there was no one around that he knew, “Hermione usually brings her lunch, and she was too busy this morning, she completely forgot to bring it in.”

“Ron, did you make your wife lunch, and bring it all the way down here?” Harry raised an eyebrow at his friend. “You do remember what happened the last time you tried to make a meal.”

“Oh, now, come on Harry, that was accident. How was I supposed to know that the pot would explode?”

Eager to change the subject, Ron quickly asked Harry about Ginny, Ron’s sister and Harry’s fiancé.

“We haven’t seen much of each other lately. She’s traveling with her team, and I’ve just finished my Auror training, so I’ve been running around, chasing magical lawbreakers, and such.”

“Anything interesting? A swarm of dementers, a horde of Death eaters?” Ron displayed a mixture excitement and anxiety, given the history Harry had with practitioners of the Dark Arts.

“Nothing nearly that interesting, mostly running down violators of the Underage Usage of Magic Ban.” Harry let out a little sigh, “Honestly Ron, I don’t know if being an Auror was what I thought it was going to be.”

“Chin up, mate. You’re only just getting started. Give it some time. You’re just in a mood, when was the last time you saw Ginny, anyway?”

Harry was disturbed that he actually had to think about that question. When was the last time he’d seen Ginny? “It’s been almost two weeks, just before the Harpies started their tour of Europe. She should be back tomorrow.”

“See? Things will get better tomorrow, mate, you’ll see.” Ron leaned into his friend’s ear and whispered, “You just have to make some time for the both you, that’s the best part of being with someone.”

The elevator came to a halt. Harry walked out, while Ron remained on board. As the doors closed, Ron gave his friend a wink, “Chin up, mate! Everything will be right as rain, tomorrow, right as rain!”

Harry stared at the closed lift doors, lost in thought. After a moment, he turned down the hallway that would take him to the Office of Aurors. He turned into the doorway and prepared himself for another day of chasing puckish teens bent on casting spells on their friends for a laugh. Entering the Office, as it was known, Harry continued down a long hallway towards his own office. The passage way had white marble floors and walls, all polished to a high gloss, the polar opposite of the dark image presented by the hall leading to the Department of Mysteries. The walls were dotted with wooden doors, each which led to an office of an Auror. Each door had a white, frosted glass window, each emblazoned with the name of its occupant painted in a glowing reddish-gold script. As one of the most junior Aurors in the Office, Harry’s office was at the very end of the corridor. Halfway down the hall, there was a large section of wall, composed of a free-standing, floating slab of the darkest granite. On the wall, the images and names of fallen Aurors were inscribed, a living memorial to those who had fallen in both battles with the Dark Lord. Each day, Harry had to pass this wall, unable to miss seeing the images of his comrades. There was Mad Eye Moody, large as day, and Tonks, displayed with her hair in a constant state of change.

Taking a deep breath, Harry continued on to his office. The door, recognizing Harry, opened, allowing Harry to enter. Harry tossed down his rucksack, adjusted his glasses and sat down at his cluttered desk.

“When was the last time you saw Ginny?” Ron’s question seemed to echo in his head. His eyes were drawn to Ginny’s picture, occupying the only clean portion of his desk. When, indeed. Two weeks ago they’d given each other pecks on the cheek and scampered off to their respective jobs. It’d really been weeks since they’d spent any time together, simply enjoying each other’s company.

There seemed to be a correlation between his recent funk, and the time since he last held her, and Harry resolved himself to correct this. “Tomorrow, everything would be right as rain.” How did his friend get so wise anyway? Is that what marriage does for a man? Harry let out a low chortle at the thought.

“Ahem, excuse me Harry,” the voice belonged to Sarah Peebles. She was a year out of Hogwarts and starting her first year of Auror training, “Mr. Dawlish asked me to fetch you.”

“Thanks, Sarah, I’ll be right along.” With another glance at Ginny’s picture, Harry walked past Sarah and out into the hall. As he was leaving the room, Sarah thought she’d heard him whisper something under his breath. She couldn’t be sure, but she thought she’d heard him say “Tomorrow.”

Chapter 2 – First Assignment

Dawlish’s office was back near the entryway, so Harry had to traverse almost the full length of the passage way. Dawlish was one of the senior Aurors, in fact, Harry had followed along with him on numerous occasions. Throughout the Voldemort crisis, Dawlish had served as best as he could. At his core, he was opposed to the Dark Arts, and began his active opposition to the Death eaters when their presence was revealed to the public. Today, he was in charge of the Office, as the senior Auror present. When Harry entered his office, Dawlish was huddled over his desk, buried in bits of parchment, with several owls perched on the stoop near his office window.

“Oh, there you are Harry, excellent.” Dawlish extended his arm, indicating that Harry should sit in a nearby empty chair. “Yes, well, how are you, Harry?” Dawlish reclined in his chair, his fingers steepled as he contemplated Harry’s face.

“I’m doing well, sir, just a little anxious, I suppose.”

Dawlish allowed a small smile to creep along the edges of his mouth, “I know exactly what you mean. When I completed my training, I was bored stiff with the mundane jobs they handed out to me.”

Harry’s cheeks reddened a bit, realizing that Dawlish was spot on in his assessment of Harry’s feelings.

“Well,” the senior wizard continued, “I think it’s time we offered you something a little more interesting.” Harry was alert now, his eyes drawn up in anticipation. “We’ve had reports of someone using a banned Crucio curse up near Lochinver in northwestern Scotland.”

Dawlish rifled through the stack of parchment strewn about his desk, “Here it is, a muggle was found wandering the Glencanisp Forest, the apparent victim of a Crucio charm. His rescuers, the man kept repeating, ‘mudbloods, begone, stay away from the Gray Castle’ Anyway, that’s all we have, so far.”

A nagging sense of dread started gnawing at the pit of Harry’s stomach. He wasn’t afraid of the assignment, the majority of the former Death eaters had been captured, exiled or killed, and there hadn’t been a Dementer sighting in over three years, so the assignment itself seemed pretty straightforward. Harry’s torment came from the knowledge of where this assignment was going to take him, which was the wild Highlands of northwest Scotland. There was no way, he thought, that he would be back in time to see Ginny when returned home.

“Sir, er, what is the assignment, exactly?”

“Well, Harry, you’re to go up there, and identify who is using Unforgivable Charms. The Ministry has an office in Lochinver that is in the Floo network. Bring your broom, the forest where the man was found is in a remote area, east of the town. You’ll have to find this ‘Gray Castle’ and see where it leads.” Dawlish brought the parchment closer to his face, “There is a former Auror living up there, in Lochinver, name of Lachlan McCrory, he retired sometime ago and settled up that region. He may be able to help you.”

Harry sat still, his mind racing as the wave of elation he’d been feeling, planning his reunion with Ginny had crashed to a halt based on the fact that he’d have to leave, before she got home.

“Alright Harry, anything else?” Dawlish stood up, and Harry stood up with him. “Right, off you go, I think you should go ahead and leave straight away.”

“Yes sir, thank you sir.” Sounding more enthusiastic than he really was, Harry shook Dawlish’s hand and headed out to collect his things.

A little while later, Harry found himself coming off the elevator, heading out to the Floo Exits. As he was entered the main hall, he spied a familiar face near the fountain. Her familiar brown tresses were drawn up in a neat bun, Hermione Granger Weasley was stooped low, talking to a house elf in a rapid whisper. Abruptly, the elf raised both his hands in exasperation and apparated away. Hermione raised herself erect and stomped her foot in frustration. Harry couldn’t help but smile, despite his despair.

“Trouble?” there was a twinkle in the way Harry asked the question.

“You have no idea! Really, why can’t anyone see reason, just once.” She rolled her eyes upward, shaking her head side to side. “It was easier knitting caps for them, then convincing them of their rights.” Her anger slowly fading, Hermione was finally focused in on her friend, noticing that he was wearing his black travel robes. Looking further, she saw his Auror’s traveling haversack over his shoulder and his broom in his hand. “Going somewhere, Harry?”

“Well, yes, they’ve given me my first solo assignment, I’ve heading up to Scotland to chase a Dark Arts mystery.”

Hermione was elated, “Well done, Harry, your first job. Wait, isn’t Ginny…”

Harry cut her off, “I know, I’m sick from it, but I don’t know what to do.” Hermione could see the pain in Harry’s face.

“Don’t worry, Harry, you’ll be back in a flash, I’ll tell Ginny what’s what, okay?”

“I guess.” Harry didn’t really think that would do, but he didn’t really have any choice.

“Look, Hermione, I’ve got to get going, tell Ron, hello, for me, and tell Ginny,” Harry stumbled on what to say, “tell Ginny…”

“I will.” As always, Hermione knew exactly what Harry was trying to say.

Harry headed over to a nearby alcove, where an ethereal greenish-purple flame was burning. He raised an arm in a farewell salute to his friend, and felt his body being whisked away.



Last edited by USNAGator91; August 23rd, 2007 at 2:51 pm. Reason: Title Change
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Old August 9th, 2007, 4:18 am
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Re: Initiation, Realization and Reunion

Chapter 3 – Homecoming

Spring had come to the Burrow. There was a light breeze filtering along the meadow. At this time of the year, the grass always seemed greener, and the stillness of the air, lent an air of peace to the place. A sudden loud crack broke the silence, and if anyone had been around to hear it, they would have sworn that it was the loudest sound they had ever heard.

Ginny Weasley’s body appeared in the courtyard of her family home. Immediately gaining her bearings, and taking a quick inventory of her collective extremities, her body released the tension of anticipating her return home. She did a quick scan of her surroundings and felt a small pang of disappointment. It was as if she’d been expecting something that didn’t come about. Picking up her leather duffel festooned with the Holyoke Harpies emblem, she traipsed over to her house.

As she entered the house, she dropped her luggage and broom near the door. The house was quiet, but familiar and comfortable. Moving through the living room, Ginny called out, “Hello, I’m home. Anyone?” Nothing, not a sound, just stillness. Ginny went to the door to the kitchen. Stepping through it, she caught sight of her mother, back turned to the entrance and the upper half of her body inside the confines of the oven. Mrs. Weasley was humming a tune and working feverishly on her stove.

“Mum? Um, what are you doing?”

Molly Weasley slowly withdrew her head from the oven. Standing up, she turned to face her daughter. Her hair was wrapped in a scarf, which was dotted with streaks of soot. The soot covered her entire torso, including her cheeks, arms and stomach.

“Well, Ginny, welcome home, dear!” Her mother deftly flicked her wand towards the stove, causing the oven door to close. “Let me look at you!” Mrs. Weasley placed her thoroughly filthy hands and either side of Ginny’s face and kissed her forehead.

“Mum, please, I’ve only been gone a couple of weeks.” Ginny snuck a quick look around, as if still anticipating something, and not seeing what she was expecting. Casually, she asked, “Where is everyone?”

“Well, Ginny dear, you know, your father is at work and well, and it’s just the two of us.” Mrs. Weasley released a little sigh. Ginny was the youngest of seven, now six children taking into account the loss of her brother, Fred. She was grown, and on her own. She hadn’t really thought that the riotous existence that came with a houseful of rambunctious boys and a precocious girl would leave such a hole for her parents.

“Have you seen Harry?” Ginny tried to be as nonchalant as she could in asking this question, she didn’t want to seem anxious.

“Well, no, he hasn’t been by in a couple of days. I expect he’s been quite busy, since he’s a full-fledged Auror and all.”

The disappointment that Ginny felt was deeper than she expected. That little pang of anxiety that she’d felt on arrival had grown to a full grown bout of despair. In her heart, she realized, she’d expected him to be here. She’d hoped that he’d be here. A small part of her had needed him to be here. Her reaction must have been visible. Her mother placed her hands on Ginny’s shoulder, “Now, now, he’ll be along soon enough. Never you fret. Are you hungry, dear?”

At that instant, a loud crack and a cloud of dust heralded the arrival of Mrs. Weasley’s son Ron and his wife Hermione. “I’m hungry, mum, how’d you know?” Hermione gave Ron an quick elbow to the ribs, and walked over to embrace her sister-in-law.

“Ginny! I’m so glad to see you!” Hermione noticed her friend’s less than enthusiastic greeting. “He wanted to be here, he was looking forward to being here when you got back, it’s just they gave him his first solo assignment, and, well, he had to go away.”

Ginny took in everything that Hermione told her. It made sense in a logical way. After all, being an Auror was Harry’s greatest ambition, wasn’t it? She still couldn’t shake her disappointment.

“He had to go away?” Mrs. Weasley had never been quite as enthusiastic with Harry’s choice of a career. Considering the battles that had been fought, and the losses that had been sustained, including that of one her sons, Molly Weasley was of the conviction that Harry Potter had fought enough battles to last a lifetime. “Where did he have to go? I hope it’s nothing dangerous.”

“He’s up in Scotland, I think.” Hermione shared her encounter with Harry, “He really didn’t say what he was going up there to do, although he didn’t seem worried.” She looked right at Ginny, “He just seemed sad that he was going to miss Ginny’s homecoming.”

“You sure you don’t want to eat, Ginny dear?” Ginny wasn’t hungry. With a shake of her head, she turned to go up the steps.

“Oy! Did you run into a bad Floo, then?” Ron was stifling a laugh, while pointing at his sister’s face.

Ginny looked into the mirror hanging near the landing to the stairs. Her cheeks and her shoulder were black with soot, obviously transferred when her mother had greeted her. The apparition in the mirror’s reflection slowly showed the edges of her lips beginning to turn into a smile. Despite her sadness, she began to laugh. With that, the floodgates opened as Ron could no longer contain himself. Before long, all four of them were laughing uncontrollably.


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Old August 9th, 2007, 6:03 am
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Re: Initiation, Realization and Reunion

Chapter 4 – The Gray Castle

The Ministry’s “office” in Lochinver turned out to be a pub, naturally. Harry emerged from the fireplace and slowly stepped down from the stone hearth into the establishment. The room was small and dark. The stone walls gave a cave-like feeling to the place. A high, crudely made bar with an array of stools was arranged to his right. The rest of the room consisted of tables and chairs situated in no real pattern, taking up all available space. There were few patrons, who were huddled low, sharing whispered conversations. Several of the customers cast quick, sneering glances towards Harry, but upon catching a glimpse of the Aurors’ emblem on Harry’s robe, they would immediately go back to the intense study of the rims of their mugs.

In one corner of the pub, a wrinkled, poorly-dressed elderly man sat reclining in a chair. His head was tilted skyward, and his snoring was permeating the relative quiet of the place. Behind the bar, a gruff, ill-kempt man of medium stature, appearing to Harry to look like a cross between Grawp and the hind end of a centaur, was giving Harry an icy stare while wiping a mug with a foul-looking rag. Harry walked over to the bar and leaned in to the bartender.

“Hello. I was wondering, well, I was wondering if you could help me.” Harry’s head did a quick turn about the room, just as he’d been trained, ensuring that his initial survey of his surroundings hadn’t changed.

“Really now?” The bartender’s voice sounded like a pail-full of coal being dumped on a slate board. “Well, ‘en who might ye be, then lad?” Taking the filthy rag he’d been working with and flinging it over his shoulder, the bartender crossed his large, hairy arms and glared at Harry.

Harry looked around the room and raised the volume of his voice ensuring that his words carried throughout the room, “I’m with the Office of Aurors. We have reason to believe that someone has used a Crucio Charm on a muggle in this area.”

What little noise had been in the room stopped with his words, save for the snores of the wretch in the corner. The bartender, who seemed to be the spokesman for the group, let out a snort.

“We don’ know of any muggle being cursed, or nothin’ like tha’” Harry could detect an obvious sense of smugness from the man. “See, an’ ‘ow do we know, you be from the Arror’s office, anyway. You don’ look old eno’ to be in here, boy. Wha’s your name, so I can’ tell your da that you’re out after dark?”

Harry squared his shoulders. He was getting no where with this man. He was far from home, far from an answer to the mystery, and most of all, he was far from Ginny. He’d had just about enough of this.
“My father is dead, and you’ll do well not to refer to him again. My name is Harry Potter, and I think it’s about time that we had some straight answers.”

The bartender had a sharp intake of breath. Harry had not had a lot of exposure to the general public in the time since the fall of Voldemort. He’d had enjoyed a good measure of relative anonymity. Ginny, as a star Quidditch player, was much more widely recognized. That was the key, Harry wasn’t widely recognized, because, his time of notoriety was while he was a child and later, a teen. His name however, was legend. Much like Voldemort’s name became He-who-can’t-be-named, Harry’s name evoked awe and a little fear wherever it was raised. Even in this remote place, the Harry Potter name offered a modicum of real respect. The bartender’s arms dropped to his side.

“A Crucio Curse, you say? Well, now that I think on it, I might ‘ave heard word of a little happenin’ out in the Canisp Wood. Tha’s out east o’ here.” The bartender seemed eager to give the information that would have Harry out of here as soon as possible.

“Thank you, is there anything else that you know about what happened?” Harry slowly made eye contact with each of the bar’s patrons, his viridian orbs bore right into each one them. Each man, in turn, forced to avert his eyes Harry’s gaze.

“No, n-no, not a thing.” The bartender seemed smaller now, less sure of his defiance.

“Can you tell me where I might find a former Auror, who goes by the name Lachlan McCrory?”

“Who, Lachlan McCrory, you say?” It seemed as if the barman was genuinely incredulous at the question.

“Yes, Lachlan McCrory, do you know him?” Harry was getting more than a little impatient.

“Ya’, I know him, you’re sure you’ll be wantin’ to meet ‘im?”

“Of course, is he nearby? Does he live close by?”

“Well, in a matter of words, yes, he’s near.” Hesitating slightly, the bartender raised his finger, pointing to the sleeping drunk of a man in the corner, “Tha’ be ‘im there.”

Harry wheeled about, his robes flourishing behind him. The man had shifted slightly, his head tilting to the side, making his snoring a little quieter.

“Sir?” Harry spoke to him. “Sir, Mr. McCrory, sir.” Harry slowly increased the volume and intensity of his calls, “SIR!” The man’s head came up abruptly. His eyes flittered around, annoyed at having his slumber disturbed.

“Are you Lachlan McCrory?” Harry stared at the man.

McCrory stared back at Harry. He had a high-pitched, raspy voice, but nonetheless, it was strong and clear, “Yes, I’m Lachlan McCrory, and who are you?”

“Sir, I’m Harry Potter, with the Office of Aurors. I was told that you might be able to help me.”

“I told Scrimgeour that I was done. He should know better than to send people to bother me. I told him that more than a few people in the Ministry were under Imperious Curses, but he wouldn’t listen.” McCrory stood up and put a bony finger in Harry’s chest, “You tell Scrimgeour that I am not coming back, and that’s final.”

Harry raised his hands. “Sir, Minister Scrimgeour is dead. He was killed by Voldemort and his Death eaters, when they took over the Ministry of Magic, over four years ago. Didn’t you know this?”

McCrory seemed puzzled, “Four years? Scrimgeour is dead?”

“Yes, sir. Voldemort was beaten and now the Ministry is back on the right side of things. You were right, a good number of the staff were under Imperious Charms.”

“Well, Merlin’s beard! I had no idea. Your name’s Potter?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Any relation to James and Lily Potter?” McGrory had leaned closer to Harry, taking a full look at his face.

“Yes sir, they were my parents.”

“Yes, I can see that now. You look like them.” McCrory waved Harry to an empty table. “Angus! Two firewhiskeys over here, bring them fast! You wouldn’t mind buying an old man a drink, would you?”

“Of course, sir.” Harry dug into his pocket and fished out some galleons. As he was about to lay one on the table, he noticed the one he had in his hand was one of the fake galleons that Dumbledore’s Army carried back during his time at Hogwarts. Harry put it back into his pocket and lay another, this time a real one, on the table.

Angus, the bartender, brought the glasses out. McCrory raised his glass in a seemingly mock toast to Harry and took a long pull at his drink. Harry mirrored his toast, but sipped his drink.

“Don’t call me sir. I’m Lachlan. Now, Mr. Potter, what can I do for you?”

“Sir, I mean Lachlan, there’s been a report of a muggle attacked with a Crucio Charm in the Glencanisp Forest. He was saying, ‘mudbloods, begone, stay away from the Gray Castle’. Do you have any idea what he meant.”

Lachlan’s face grew a shade darker, “The Grey Castle, hmmm.”

“Do you know what it means? What is the Gray Castle?”

“I don’t know who might have used the curse, but I know about the Grey Castle.” Lachlan scratched the stubble on his chin. “The Grey Castle is on the Suilven.”

“Suilven?” asked Harry.

“It’s a right notorious mountain, due east of here. You follow the River Inver east, and until you get to Loch na Barrack. The Glencanisp Forest is just north of the Suilven.”

Harry took this information in, “Is there a history of Dark Magic near that area?”

“Not as far as I know.” Lachlan drained the last of his drink. “Don’t get me wrong, it’s wild country out there, the heart of the highlands. Suilven seems to rise right up out of the bogs and moors. The top peak is known as Caisteal Laith, or “Grey Castle”. I would start my search there. It would be no small matter for a muggle to be enchanted near the Suilven and left in the forest, like you described.”

“I appreciate the help, Lachlan.”

“Not a problem. I knew your parents, you know. James was a good man. Lily, though, Lily was an angel. I was devastated when they were murdered.”

“Thank you, Lachlan.”

“Good luck, Potter.”

Harry walked out of the pub. Looking up at the battered sign, he noticed the name of the establishment was “The Targe”. The sign itself, was the shape of the round, wooden shield that the name came from. Dusk had fallen, and a cool mist was forming around him. Harry cinched up the collar of his robe and tightened the straps on his rucksack.

He straddled his Firebolt, not his original gift from Sirius, obviously. This one, he’d bought himself upon his acceptance to Auror training. In an instant, he was soaring above the village of Lochinver. Orienting himself with the North Sea, Harry turned inland, picking up the dark hue of the River Inver. The river seemed to disappear in blackness, darker than that of night. It was almost a portent of something sinister. Putting his head down, Harry guided his broom, directly into the night.


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Old August 9th, 2007, 4:31 pm
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Re: Initiation, Realization and Reunion

Chapter 5 – Epiphany

Professor Trelawnty was adamant about the power of dreams. If dreams were a testament to understanding the complexities of life, then the dream that was in progress was only serving to bespeak how twisted and complex the life of the dreamer was.

The dream had repeated itself, several times. The dreamer would be walking down a dark corridor that seemed to twist and turn, like a corkscrew, of its own volition. At the end of the hall, there were two paths that the dreamer could take. Looking to the right, the corridor was moving much more violently, and doors abutting the hall were slamming open and shut. In the distance, at the end of the cacophony of motion, there was a single door, obscured, but steady, seemingly unaffected by the eruption of sound and movement that marked the path to its jamb.

Looking to the left, the way was steady, unmoving. The passageway was brilliantly lit, with doors clearly marked along the way. Each door was ornately decorated, etched with intricate designs of woodland scenes and creatures. The doors were gaily colored, in different pastels that added a dance of merriment in color and fantasy to the hall. The dreamer, naturally, would be drawn to the festive path, moving slowly down the hall, taking in each door in turn. On occasion, the dreamer would stop at one of the doors, and open it. The room beyond was small, barely large enough to accommodate a single person; it was plain, with no decoration and no furnishings. It was if the door was the main attraction to the space, and only served to draw one into its dreary midst. At the end of the corridor of lights, was a massive portal. Edged in gold, it had a large silver-cast crest on its front. Peering closely at the crest, the dreamer saw stars and comets, moving around at tremendous speeds, speeding across and back the front of the crest. Reaching down for the handle, the dreamer starts to open the door. The room beyond is bathed in light, too bright to make out what’s happening inside. For some reason, the dreamer pauses before entering the room. Turning around, the dreamer takes a quick look towards the dark, difficult hall. The door at its end has opened, and terrific bolt of lightning comes out of it, landing in its attached, wildly moving passage. The sound is terrific, loud, blotting out all other noise. Despite the sound, the dreamer is certain that a voice has come out it. It was distinct, familiar. The tone was wild and desperate.

“Ginny, Noooooooo!!!”

With a start, Ginny Weasley sat upright in her bed. Her breathing was labored, her chest heaving in rapid motion. Her bramble of red hair was dark, muted; toned down by the perspiration from the experience of her dream. She glanced around the room. She was in her old room in the Burrow. Its décor seemed dated, as it hadn’t really changed since she’d graduated from Hogwarts. More than the Weird Sisters Posters or the “little girl” adornments, the room just didn’t seem to fit her, who she was now, a grown woman, with a life.

She peeked out towards her window, where the first glimpse of dawn was tickling the curtains that hung loosely around the frame. Taking a deep breath, Ginny arose from her bed and walked across the room to her dresser. She took in her reflection in the mirror over the dresser. Her night gown hung loosely from her shoulders, her arms were limp at her side. They were strong arms, taut from the years of Quidditch matches where she had made a name for herself, in school and now, professionally. Her hair was matted, tangled, as if it too had fought its own demons during the night.

Absently, she picked up her brush and began to comb out the tangles and the snarls that were strewn throughout her auburn tresses. The dream had started on the first night she left with her Quidditch team to tour Europe. She had been ecstatic about the trip. The Holyoke Harpies had won their division, and were playing exhibition matches against a number of clubs on the Continent. Yet, the dream took its toll on her. It seemingly sapped a part of her essence, every time she had it. It never changed, in structure or content. The more she had it, the more vivid it became. At first, the voice wasn’t audible, its words weren’t discernible. Each night, it became clearer and louder. She just couldn’t recognize who was calling to her, and why she shouldn’t enter the door in the bright hall.

Her gaze dropped to the bottom of her mirror. Wedged in between the frame and the glass was a small, faded photograph of Harry. He had a sheepish smile, his head turned down slightly. His eyes were haunted, distant, as if they’d seen more than their fair share of life. His expression was more of shyness than happy. In many ways, this was Ginny’s favorite picture of Harry, because of his vulnerability. Only she had seen this side of him, and he’d told her more than once, that she was the only person that could ever make him overcome that vulnerability.

She reached down and pulled the photo from its place, “Where are you, Harry? I miss you terribly.” A weight had plopped itself firmly on her chest the first day she’d returned home and realized that he wasn’t around. Every day without word seemed to make the weight heavier and harder to bear. She cupped the picture in two hands and gently brought to her chest. With a sigh, she turned to dress and head downstairs. As with every other night she had her dream, she knew that there would be no returning to sleep.

Dressed in jeans and a sweat shirt, Ginny made her way into the kitchen. Her parents were in their traditional places, her father seated at the table, sipping a steaming cup of tea, his nose buried in today’s edition of The Daily Prophet. Her mother was tinkering with something on the stovetop, fretting about some ingredient that she’d possibly forgotten or added too much of. Seeing her daughter enter the kitchen, Mrs. Weasley allowed a bright smile to cross her face.

“Good morning, dear! I’d expected you to sleep in a bit, after all your traveling. Can I fix you something to eat?” Mrs. Weasley eagerly rubbed her hands with the folds of her apron, hoping that her daughter would let her mum make her a morning repast.

“I wasn’t really tired,” Ginny lied, “but I wouldn’t mind a good breakfast. I hardly had time while were away to eat a good meal. Morning, Dad.” As Ginny passed her father, she reached down a placed a peck on his cheek.

“Good morning, dear.” Mr. Weasley was engrossed in an article within the depths of his paper, “It says here that the Muggles are still insisting that they’ve been to the moon! How remarkable!”

Ginny shook her head in mild amusement. Shortly, her mother placed a plate of eggs and toast in front of Ginny. The sight and smell of the food awakened a rumbling in her stomach that, for the moment, overcame the oppressive weight on her heart. She was hungry, indeed.

Later, Ginny found herself wandering the periphery of the property. Her father had shuttled off to his job at the Ministry and her mother had gone off for a visit with Andromeda Tonks and little Teddy Lupin. As she walked, taking in the beautiful day, she reflected on her dream. What did it mean? It was beginning to haunt her. This was a new feeling for Ginny. Up to now, she’d always been assertive; she was not one to be rendered helpless by anything, especially a weakness from her own mind. Subtly, her shoulders squared up and her chin rose, ever so slightly. She had to take some action. She was not going to allow these dreams to rule over her night.

She appeared in the hallway of a modest apartment building. Looking left and right, to make sure that no one had seen her sudden appearance, Ginny moved down the passage, looking at the apartment numbers on the doors. Upon reaching the door marked Number Seven, she smirked at the small plaque that adorned the front of the door, directly beneath the brass knocker. In a rolling script, it said simply, “The Weasleys”. Ginny reached up and knocked on the door. A muffled flurry of motion and finally, steps reached out from behind the door. After a time, the door opened, revealing the curious face of Hermione Granger Weasley, her sister-in-law, but most importantly, one Ginny’s and Harry’s closest and dearest friends.

“Ginny!” Hermione could barely contain herself. She practically flew across the threshold and buried her friend in a tremendous hug. “I’m so glad to see you.”

Struggling to breathe, Ginny meekly hugged her friend in return, “Er, Hello Hermione, hope I’m not bothering you guys.”

“Of course not. Ron’s at work and I had the day off. Come in, come in.” Hermione ushered her friend into the flat. It was large, airy and open. The walls had tier upon tier of shelves with an entire wall consisting on several large panes of glass giving an expansive view of the cityscape. The bookcases seemed to reflect both Ron and Hermione’s tastes. On one side, each shelf was crammed with books of all manner and type. On the other side, various jars and glass cases held specimens of Ron and George Weasley’s inventions from Weasley’s Wheezes. Particularly prominent, above the main bookcase, was a frame that contained the Ministry Edict banning the use of products supplied by Weasley’s Wheezes that had hung at Hogwarts during the Delores Umbridge administration.

“You have a wonderful place,” remarked Ginny.

“Thank you, I can’t seem to get Ron to grow up when it comes to decorating, but I’m working on him. What brings you down here?” Ginny hesitated slightly, unsure of how to proceed. Hermione immediately registered her hesitancy, “What is it? Is something bothering you? I know Harry’s off on an assignment, but he’ll be back soon.”

“It’s not just that, it’s, well, I don’t know.” The dam burst. “It’s everything! I haven’t seen him in over two weeks, and even then it hasn’t been for more than a moment at a time. We both have been so busy, it seems like we’re never together. To top it all off, I’ve been having a horrid dream. It repeats itself, every night. I haven’t had a good night’s sleep in forever.”

Exhausted by her confession, Ginny flung herself like a rag doll into one of the easy chairs by the window. Hermione gave her friend a thoughtful look, and then began to titter slightly, her hand over her mouth in a vain attempt to hide the smirk that she wore.

“It isn’t funny.” Ginny crossed her arms and assumed the visage of a petulant child.

“I’m not laughing at you, silly.” Hermione no longer tried to hide her amusement. “It’s just that Ron had seen Harry the morning he left, and well, he said the same thing you did, in so many words.”

Ginny looked up at her friend, a look of disbelief on her face. Hermione walked over to where her friend was sitting. Judging by her pose, Ginny could anticipate her friend’s transformation into that of a know-it-all lecturer.

Hermione drew up and assumed the look of absolute surety that typically came when she was stating the obvious to her friends. “Both of you are peas in a pod. You and Harry need each other, as much as you need air to breath; as much as I have always needed Ron. You both just need to stop being so obtuse and remember it’s about the both of you, together. You have to make being together more important than anything in the world.”

Ginny drew back, a little startled at the conviction in her friend’s voice, “All Harry’s ever wanted is to be an Auror. Who am I to stand in the way of his dream?”

“Being an Auror is something that Harry wants to do. His dream, all that he’s ever wanted, has been you, Ginny. That’s it. You are the center.”

Not fully believing Hermione, “I can’t be selfish; I thought relationships were about sacrificing for the one you love.”

“They are!” Hermione’s level of frustration was nearing its boiling point. Ginny was as strong and courageous a person Hermione had ever met, but was as blind as anyone to the realities of love. Hermione decided to turn the tables, “Let me ask you something, what if I were to tell you that Harry thought that all you ever wanted to do was play Quidditch, and if that’s what you wanted to do, he wouldn’t be a barrier to that dream? If you don’t believe me, how hard did he fight your trip? When did he ever ask you to shorten your practice time, to make an effort to be with him, instead of being on the pitch?”

A small light of realization began to form in the back of Ginny’s head. Hermione pressed this opening, “Both of you are so thickheaded. You both think that you are doing what’s right by being the selfless hero, when what you really need to be doing is making sure that there is time for you, together. It’s a question of priorities, really, what’s more important? Ron and I have found that it’s about us. I think it’s completely dreadful that Ron was able to understand this before you and Harry did.”

At that thought, both Ginny and Hermione burst into laughter. The release was needed, as both continued until their sides hurt and their eyes watered. After a while, Ginny looked at her friend, “What about my dream?”

“Tell me about it.” Ginny described her dream to her friend in complete detail. Hermione would nod at different points, and ask clarifying questions to make sure she had it right. When Ginny finished, Hermione sat pensively, contemplating what she’d heard. Absently, she stroked the chin of Crookshanks, her cat. After a while, Hermione sat up.

“It’s quite easy, actually, your dream, that is.” Ginny raised an eyebrow, wordlessly pressing her friend to continue. “Your dream is a manifestation of what we’ve been talking about. The first hall represents your life up to now. Difficult, dangerous, nonetheless, you came through to place where you get to make choices.” Hermione stared intently at her friend. “One passage choice is bright and attractive; it’s easy to navigate, but this isn’t the one to take. The rooms are unsatisfying, no matter how many doors you open, you are never really fulfilled. The other passage choice is the hard choice. It’s difficult to make your way through, but the destination is steady, solid.”

Ginny was barely breathing, Hermione’s words seared into her brain, making a great deal of sense. “How do I know what’s behind the door?” Ginny was wracking her brain, “What about the lightening strike? What does that mean about my choice?”

“You really can be quite obtuse, can’t you?” Hermione’s tone was playful, not teasing. She stretched her wand to a point in the room, “Accio Picture!” A framed picture on a shelf across the room lifted up in the air and floated over to Hermione. Taking the picture in her hands, she looked at it briefly and reversed the frame to show it to Ginny.

Ginny focused on the picture. It was actually a framed Quibbler cover from many years back. Prominent on the page was a picture of Harry, from the time just after the Triwizard Tournament. His hair was standing straight up in the front, as it was wont to do when he had performed a certain amount of physical exertion. Ginny’s eyes were drawn to a very distinguishing feature on Harry’s face. It was a scar, placed there in a stark reminder of the life and death struggle with Voldemort that Harry had gone through. The scar was in the shape and form of a lightening bolt.

Hermione allowed herself a smug look. “Really, Ron had this figured out, well before the both of you.” Ginny cast a searing look at her friend.

Just then, the front door burst open. “Hermione, help!” There stood Ron, his feet were ten times larger. His nose was elongated and hanging down towards his chest. His ears had grown gray and wrinkled and increased in size by a factor of ten. He looked like a rather skinny, redheaded elephant. “George said that our ginger snaps would make me smarter! Really!”

Both girls broke into another round laughter.

***Author's note: I'm trying to get these chapters out as soon as I possibly can, but apparently, my boss likes me to actually work from time to time. As always, your feedback (http://www.cosforums.com/showthread.php?t=110463) is coveted and enjoyed!


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Old August 9th, 2007, 11:22 pm
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Re: Initiation, Realization and Reunion

Chapter 6 – The Mystery of the Grey Castle

Harry swooped down to follow the course of the River Inver. As he left the town of Lochinver behind him, he felt the darkness of the night wrap around him like a blanket of dread. At first, he was able to follow the soft contours of the riverbank, but as the last vestiges of the day evaporated, Harry knew he could no longer continue. Spying an open field adjacent to the river, he alit softly from his manic flight and gently came to a stop in the open area.

“Lumos!” The tip of his wand glowed a soft blue hue, adding a measure of visibility to his erstwhile blackened surroundings. Using one hand, Harry dropped his haversack on the ground below him. The bag had been charmed with the same incantation that Hermione used during their quest for the Horcruxes, so it held the substantial kit required by Auror in the field. Rummaging around the bag, Harry was able to pull his tent and sleeping bag out, and after a few minutes had the makings of a rudimentary campsite working. Drawing on his experience from that time on the run with Ron and Hermione, Harry made sure to cast the requisite protective spells around the place. Reflexively, Harry thought how similar the circumstances were now, compared to the quest. Very similar, thought Harry, unless you add in hundreds of Death eaters, the hexed resources of the Ministry of Magic, and one Dark Lord bent on your final destruction.

Harry laughed to himself, and sat back on the grass, just outside his tent. The evening was cool, with the sounds of the night echoing throughout the air. Looking up, Harry could make out the constellations in the sky. As he did so, an ache began to pervade his chest. It wasn’t physical, in the way that he was being attacked, but it was a psychic hurt, that seemed to permeate every nerve of his body. Reaching a hand back to his bag, he pulled out a picture frame. It was Ginny’s picture, the one from his office. He stared at it with a longing that transcended the simple feeling of missing her. Harry felt as if a physical part of his being was simply, not there. It was a void, and emptiness that could only be filled by her presence. He couldn’t even let her know where he was, that he was alright. An Auror in the field, first and foremost, must maintain low visibility. That was the first rule of being an Auror.
With a sigh, Harry rose and walked into his tent, clutching Ginny’s photo to his breast. Lying down inside his sleeping bag, he tried to fall asleep, thinking of her. After a fitful start, he finally lapsed into a restless, dreamless slumber.

As dawn broke, Harry awoke, unable to recognize his surroundings, at first. Rapidly gaining his bearings, he collected his belongings and began to break camp. With the sun’s first light to illuminate his surroundings, Harry made short work of the process, and before long, he found himself standing in an empty field surveying his surroundings.

It was early morning. The ground seemed to hold on to the morning mist like a recalcitrant child would hold on to a blanket, knowing it was the first day of school. The effect gave the rolling heather slopes an ethereal look; mysterious and beautiful. The terrain was remote, rugged. As far as Harry’s eye carried, there were hillocks and bogs, gorse bush and moorlands. Looking around him, Harry noticed a large shadow, cast on the meadow, like a dark blight in a tranquil garden. Harry’s eyes followed the shadow, towards the direction of the rising sun, and found he was looking at a mountain.

The mountain seemed out of place in the landscape. It rose vertically, high above the surrounding countryside, like a rocky fist punched up from the earth. It’s sides where craggy and sharp, in stark contrast to the gentle rolls of the surrounding hills. It looked predatory and foreboding, its shape like the dorsal fin of a shark swimming towards the rising sun. This had to be the Suilven that Lachlan told him about. If that was the case, then the highest point must be the Caisteal Laith, the Grey Castle. His objective in sight, Harry donned his bag and brought up his broom. In an instant, he was airborne. Flying in a lazy circle, Harry took in his surroundings. The river was flowing lazily towards the sea, beckoning him to turn around and return the way he came. To the north of the mountain was a large, imposing mass of green that seemed to mark the boundary of the Glencanisp Forest. Suilven dominated the skyline. With a slight movement denoting his natural skill with the broom, Harry did a slight roll to his right and plotted a course towards the impressive promontory.

As he approached Suilven, Harry decided to do a quick circuit of the rocky rise, looking for obvious signs of mischief. Close up, the mountain seemed even more forbidding than it did from afar. The sides were for the most part flat, intermixed with sharp, jagged protrusions of rock which seemed to be a defense against those foolhardy souls who would deign to scale it. Moving around Suilven and up towards its highest point, Harry noted the round, bastion-like shape of the peak’s highest point. The rock was a dark shade of slate, turning a sinister shade of midnight blue in the shadows. Harry noted that the moniker “Grey Castle” was appropriate. It was an impressive citadel, repelling times’ hordes, maintaining its vigil as a specter on the horizon.

Harry deftly guided his broom to the apex of the peak. A small, flat area roughly the size of his office allowed him a stable platform to land. Dismounting from his Firebolt, he brought it up in his hands and expertly placed it into the bag on his shoulder. The broom was easily stowed in a matter of seconds. He took a quick look around. The morning sun had fully risen, and the mist in the on ground below had lifted. Harry carefully studied the ground before him. As his eyes slowly studied the various cracks and crannies on the ledge, he noticed a slight depression located at the very edge of the cliff. On closer inspection, Harry noticed that the depression was actually a ramp, a slanted ledge that formed a path down the back side of the platform and led to an opening in the side of the mountain. Harry cinched up his haversack and pulled out his wand. Without a second thought, he proceeded down the ramp, and entered the man-sized cave.

The passage was cool; droplets of moisture beat a slow staccato on the angled floor. It was shaped like tube, barely wide enough for a person to fit through, and canted down. The further Harry descended into the cave, the more he noticed that the walls were curved, and as continued to move downward, he was moving in a spiral. After a few minutes, he no longer had the benefit of light drifting in from the cave entrance. In fact, turning around, he could no longer see the cave entrance.
“Lumos!” Harry was instantly bathed in the comforting and familiar blue glow of his wand. He couldn’t see much ahead, as the tunnel continued its twists. Harry continued his slow progress deeper into Suilven.

Eventually, Harry began to lose track of time. He’d been walking for so long, he had no idea how far he’d gone. The curvy nature of the path and the total lack of any type of adornment or signage had left Harry a little disoriented. After a while, Harry began to notice subtle changes in the passageway. The floor was no longer uneven rock, but had become over time steps, that were obviously carved or cut by human hands. The walls began to straighten, and the incline got a little steeper, along the lines of a flight of stairs. Harry noticed notches in the walls, like hand holds. Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, Harry noticed the dim glow of a light ahead. The light had a low orange glow, and flickered like a torch. Contrasted with the general darkness of the cave, the light ahead shone like a lighthouse beacon in a storm.

“Nox!” Harry issued the spell non-verbally. He figured that he was getting close to whatever the mystery the Grey Castle held. Creeping along silently towards the light, he noticed that the walls of the passageway had begun to widen, the path becoming more of an entrance to a great cavern. As he neared the mouth of the great cave, Harry’s ears began to pick up a sound. It was a low murmur, rhythmic, like a chant, that repeated itself over and over. He couldn’t quite make out the words, but as he approached the opening at the bottom of the steps, it was definitely getting louder.

Harry stopped his movement and reached into his bag. After a few frantic seconds, Harry was able to find his Cloak of Invisibility, donning it, he moved into the large, fire-lit cavern.

He found himself at the top of a large veranda, which had a long flight of stairs extending down into the room. At the bottom of the cave was a river, that flowed rapidly, moving from one entrance to an exit on the opposite side. The river had a large bend in the middle of the cave; it was as if the water were trying to avoid something in the middle of the cave. In the middle of the river’s bend was a chasm. The hole was wide, and circular in shape. It had high, vertical walls with elbows of rock and granite protruding out. Some of the protrusions held torches, and Harry was able to see the distant bottom of the chasm. What he saw shocked him. The bottom of the crevasse was littered with the bones and bodies of various creatures. Some were obviously human, some were the remains of magical creatures. Harry picked out a Unicorn and a Thestral. The entire mass was in various forms of decay, indicating that whatever happened had been going on for a long time, and was still going on to this day.

By the time Harry’s brain registered this information, he’d reached the bottom of the steps and was standing on the lip of the chasm. Looking around further, he spied a path leading from the stairs to an arched opening. As he walked towards the opening, the murmuring became much more distinct. Soon, Harry heard a voice. Investigating closer, the voice was becoming more familiar, he’d heard it somewhere before. The walls of this passageway were smooth, lined with hieroglyphics that Harry had never seen before. The passageway opened into a large antechamber, which housed a giant dais. Upon the dais was a fire pit, holding a large black cauldron. The liquid in the cauldron was bubbling, emitting noxious, foul smelling fumes. Around the cauldron were three figures. As Harry neared the dais, he saw that the figures were three old women. Their heads were like skulls, the skin pulled taut, but wrinkled and worn by time. They all had mangy, long white hair, pulled tight into pony tails. They were dressed in tattered black dresses, adorned with the bones, some recognizable, some not. The women looked alike, not only in dress and style, but in mannerisms, as if they were cut from the same sinister cloth. They were addressing someone on the opposite side of the dais from Harry.

“We…”

“Do…

”Not…”

“Fear…”

“The…”

“Ministry…”

When they spoke, they talked as one. Each word coming out of each successive woman, they were able to complete the entire sentence, rapidly, as if sharing each other’s brain.

Harry heard another voice speak, “An’ I tol’ ye, that this is no ordinary Arror! He’s Harry Potter!”

The grating, gravelly voice was instantly recognizable to Harry. It was the barman from “The Targe”, the pub he had arrived at in Lochirven.

“He’s the one that killed the Dark Lord!” the bartender’s voice came out in a whisper.

“That is of not bother to us…” the women said in their round about fashion, “We are a full coven of Furies, and the matters of this world have no meaning here. This Harry Potter, will feed us for a long time to come.”

Furies! Harry gasped. No one had seen hide or hair of a single Fury in over 400 years, but their power was legendary, as was the appetite for death. They fed on the blood and souls of the living, and were almost impossible to defeat. A single coven was enough to become myth in Greek and Roman times. They were known for their vengence and they were without mercy. When Dawlish told Harry that he had an interesting assignment for him, he wasn’t kidding.


Suddenly, the voices behind him became distinctly louder, “There is someone here, sisters! Our guest has arrived. Welcome to Suilven, Harry Potter.”


***Author's note: I know, I know, I want to find out what happens too. I'm working on it. Don't forget to leave your feedback! (http://www.cosforums.com/showthread.php?t=110463)



Last edited by USNAGator91; August 9th, 2007 at 11:25 pm. Reason: oops
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Old August 10th, 2007, 12:31 am
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Re: Initiation, Realization and Reunion

Chapter 7 – Furies’ Wrath

Harry froze, scarcely breathing. Had they somehow managed to see him? He looked over to the figures on the platform. No one spoke. The only sound was that of the percolating liquid in the cauldron. The bartender cast a wary eye to and fro, trying to see if he could spot Harry.

“We hear your thoughts, Harry Potter! We know you are near!”

Well, that explained how they seemed to read each other’s minds, although Harry hadn’t considered that this ability extended to reading his mind. His own thoughts drifted back to his initial Occlumency lessons with Snape. Even during his Auror training, he had barely made acceptable marks with them. Now he was facing foes who could read his mind. Harry concentrated on blocking their access, his face knotted in concentration.

“You cannot hide from us forever, Harry Potter. We will feed on your soul.” The women cackled with delight, “Angus, dear, be a good fellow and find Mr. Potter.”

Angus moved towards the spot where Harry was standing, waving his arms from side to side. “Petrificus Totalus!” Harry’s sub-vocal command took immediate effect on Angus, rendering him totally immobile. Unfortunately, the spell also told the sisters Harry’s approximate location. A bolt of lightning struck with a strong concussive force where Harry had been standing, shattering the stone pavers in millions of pieces. Fortunately, Harry had already been on the move, side stepping out of the way, as soon as he had cast the Petrificus charm on Angus.

Harry found an alcove in the wall near where he was standing. Kneeling down, he cast a wary glance at the women. The Furies had moved away from their cauldron, and stood midway down the steps that led to their dais. As one, they raised their arms and began chanting. As if on command, a light snow began to fall inside the antechamber. Soon, Harry’s outline, under his cloak became visible. The sisters soon found where Harry was kneeling. Harry, seeing that he’d been found, raised his wand, “Stupefy!”

His aim was true, but as the spell reached the women, it rebounded as if cast aside by some unseen force.

“Silly man! Our magic is older than anything you can conjure. We are the first practitioners of Dark Magic. “

With that, another bolt of energy shot its way from their collective fingers, hitting the spot adjacent to Harry’s hiding spot. The force of the impact flung Harry to the side, a piece of rock careening off his side, breaking the skin, and, perhaps, cracking a rib.

Harry rolled with the blow, allowing his momentum to carry him further down the aisle and away from the Furies. Quickly, he discarded his cloak, throwing it haphazardly into his rucksack.

“Expecto Patronus!” In the blink of an eye, Harry’s Patronus stag gracefully glided down the path towards the three witches. Raising their arms, the women chanted in unison, generating a figure in the shape of a serpent, bathed in a fire, crimson red. Harry attempted to keep his concentration, but his Patronus started to lose ground to the hags’ serpent. Suddenly, both the stag and serpent exploded in a shower of sparks, white and red fire and light, expanding throughout the antechamber. Harry was blown back towards the main passage, his body flying against the rock wall, his rucksack dislodged by the blow.

The Furies continued their descent, reaching the bottom of the landing. Harry wearily raised his bruised and battered body to his hands and knees. Looking up, he saw the approaching women, and realized that his strongest magic had failed.

“Think!” Time seemed to stand still, Harry head was groggy from the punishment his body had taken. Suddenly, it hit him. Defiantly, Harry stood up, his wand extended towards the three women.

“We told you, boy, that your magic cannot hurt us!”

“Who said anything about using my magic? Oppugno!” Harry’s arm raised slightly, his spell aimed not at the Furies, but at their cauldron, which contained their own abhorrent concoction. It was of their own magic. The cauldron began rolling down the steps, gaining speed with every landing it descended.

Too late, the three sisters realized what was happening. They were directly in its path, and could not veer away. As one, they began to shriek, a horrible sound, which shook the foundations of the chamber, causing rock and debris to become dislodged and fall to the floor. When the cauldron hit them, a huge tempest of fire exploded from their bodies, the whole room bathed in tinges of red, yellow and orange.

Harry stood, watching the spectacle. Enraptured by the sight, he almost failed to realize that the cauldron was still intact, and still rolling towards him. Grabbing his rucksack, he began to run towards the passage that led to the room with the chasm. The cauldron increased in speed, careening wildly towards Harry. When it impacted on the side of the entrance to the passageway, it exploded in one final orgy of light, fire and force. The fireball lifted Harry off of his feet and knocked his bag and wand from his hands. The force of the impact carried Harry into the main cavern and deposited him on the floor, near the chasm. The momentum of his landing carried Harry to the lip of the chasm, and over the edge. Desperately, Harry reached out and with both arms extended, managed to grab one of the torch holders on the wall of the chasm.

His whole body ached, the pain from countless wounds coursed through his body. His glasses had been ripped from his face and he could feel blood leaving him. He was weakening by the second. Slowly, his hold on the promontory was weakening, his strength fading away. He made one last attempt to pull himself up. His fingers weren’t up to the task. Harry fell back into the chasm.

The fall seemed like an eternity. Finally, he hit the floor below, landing on the pile of bones that dotted the pit. Harry could feel his own bones breaking, and his skin punctured by the jagged edges of bone and rock. The pain was excruciating. Soon, all was still, save the rasping of his breath. His legs could not move, and Harry knew that this may be the end. His wand and his bag were up top. He had no way to pull himself up, and he had reached the end of his endurance. As the edges of his vision began to fade to black, he dug his hand into his pocket. His fingers grasped his last chance at being saved. Concentrating as hard as he could, Harry felt he had done everything that he could do. Lying back, he thought of his Ginny. Her face came to him readily. He knew every line, every brilliant red hair. He saw her eyes and her smile. He could almost smell the lilac scent that seemed to be always around her. Harry smiled, and then slowly let the black on the edges of his vision take hold.



Last edited by USNAGator91; August 10th, 2007 at 1:19 am. Reason: Missing word
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Old August 10th, 2007, 2:10 pm
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The Godfather
 
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Re: Initiation, Realization and Reunion

Chapter 8 – A Galleon for Your Thoughts

It had been a while since he had a dream. Lately, his nights had been filled with fitful sleep, bereft of dreams. So, he was pleasantly surprised that he was dreaming. This dream wasn’t extravagant, or overly detailed. He was floating in a black space, free of worry and fear. In a flash, he could see her, Ginny. She was as beautiful as he’d ever seen her. Her long red hair cascaded playfully around her shoulders, casting a sheen about her face that highlighted her eyes. Her eyes were staring right through him, boring into his soul and registering the unbound love he had for her. She was smiling at him, a smile that could make him catch his breath, if he were conscious of breathing. This was an extraordinarily good dream. He caught a hint of her scent, it was sweet, like lilacs in the morning with just a hint of sunrise. It must be raining, for he could feel the raindrops on his face, and she was so beautiful in the rain. He knew it was a good dream, because all of his senses permeated the darkness to feel, and every fiber of his being was focused on seeing her, being near her. All that was left was for her to call to him, he so desperately wanted to her to call his name.

“Harry…”

There it was, her voice, calling his name. Her voice rang out again, like a song, “Harry…” Again, he heard her, calling to him, comforting him.

“Harry…” Like a choir, a myriad of voices called his name. He thought it odd, but it was a dream, after all.

“Look, here’s his bag!”

“I found his wand over here!”

“Have you found him?”

“There’s blood all over, you don’t think he’s gone?”

“You shut your mouth, he’s alive, I can feel it.”

All in all, this was a very strange dream. There were different voices, and frankly, he only wanted to hear one.

“Look, down there, there he is! Harry!” There it was the voice he was looking for, that was more like it.

Ginny Weasley stared down the walls of the chasm, her eyes carefully avoiding the carnage of death all around the broken body of her fiancé, Harry Potter. Her cries brought the rest of the people with her running. Clutched in her hand was a single galleon. This was no ordinary galleon. Ginny was one of the founding members of Dumbledore’s Army, who had equipped themselves with fake galleons which could be used to send clandestine messages to its members back during a time when the D.A., as it was known, was an outlaw band.

The galleon in Ginny’s hand was emblazoned around its edge with a simple message, “Harry, Furies, Death, Pain, Love You, Sorry, Ginny”.

Almost immediately Ginny was surrounded by the members of the D.A. who had received the message. Hermione, breathless, came up to Ginny, carrying Harry’s bag and wand. Following Ginny’s arm, she gasped at the sight of their friend down below. Hermione’s heart went out to Ginny, unable to imagine the horror that the scene below must be causing her.

Trailing behind them, Lachlan McGrory and Dawlish, peered down and then apparated down to Harry’s location. After a moment of hesitation, they were joined by Ron and Neville Longbottom, another founding member of the D.A. Carefully approaching Harry’s limp form, Dawlish quickly took stock of Harry’s injuries. He shared a guarded look with Lachlan.

“How is he?” Ginny’s plaintive plea reached their ears, shaking the four members of the rescue party out of their stupor.

Ron had been staring at Harry. The devastated state of Harry’s body brought a gray, ashen pallor to Ron’s pale features. He glanced up at his wife and gave her a look Hermione could only understand indicating that he didn’t think that this was going to end well. Ron’s eyes then briefly flitted over to Ginny, an indication to Hermione, that maybe, she’d want to get her friend away from this place.

“C’mon Ginny…” Hermione tugged on her friend’s arm, trying to pull her away from the chasm.

“No!” Ginny broke her arm loose from Hermione’s hand. Turning her face towards the bottom of the pit, Ginny concentrated and in the next instant appeared down on the floor with Ron and Neville. No one had approached Harry, as if they were afraid to damage him further. Ginny moved towards him, falling down on her knees, ignoring the scrapes from the abhorrent detritus that covered the floor.

“Harry…”

“Harry…”

This was the oddest dream, he thought. Everything was black, as if a whole jar of Peruvian Blackness Powder had been thrown around. All he could make out were familiar voices. It was forcing him to concentrate on the one voice he wanted to hear. He heard it again.

“Harry?” Ginny gently touched his cheek. Forcing herself to ignore the blood that was covering the area on and around his body, she moved to support his head and ran her fingers through his hair. The only sound that could be heard in the cave, was that of Ginny, crying, her tears streaming down onto Harry’s face.

In some dreams, he thought, you could feel yourself falling. In this one, he felt himself moving. His head was moving. That was strange, he considered, but there was something else, it was wet, like rain, but beyond that, the movement. He felt his head move, and, well, it hurt! He felt the pain, and it hurt, as if he were conscious, as if he were alive.

Ginny had bent her head towards Harry, her hair fanned out over his upper torso, like a comforting blanket. As she was leaning in to kiss him goodbye, a groan came from his mouth.

“Harry?” He used all of his remaining strength, pushed all of his will and his love into the exertion, and was able to open his eyes. In the back of his mind, the effort was well worth it, because before him was his Ginny. She was real, and not some construct of his mind. Her face hovered near his, a look of shock and relief alternating on her features. Tears were streaming down her cheeks, seemingly moving from adorable freckle to adorable freckle. It was the most beautiful sight he could have imagined. He had expended all of his physical energy to open his eyes. He had so much to say to her, but all he could muster, was a weak smile.

“He’s alive!” Ginny was triumphant. Gathering herself, she started issuing a flurry of commands, her self-assurance returning with the knowledge that Harry lived.

“We’ve got to get him out of here. Hermione! Start getting everyone moving, and send someone ahead to St. Mungo’s. Tell them we’re bringing Harry and he’s terribly wounded.”

Dawlish moved towards her, “I’ll take him to St. Mungo’s.” Ginny waved him back, “I’ll do it. I’m not leaving him, I’m not leaving him!”

She touched her arm to his, covering it, making contact and in a flash, the both of them disappeared. Dawlish cast a glance over at Lachlan and nodded his head upward. Lachlan met his gaze and with that, both disappeared.

“Neville, Ron. Come on!” Hermione was directing the rest of the rescue party out and away from the cavern.

Ron looked over at Neville, “Come on, mate, we’ve got to go.” Neville nodded his head to Ron. With that, Ron looked up to Hermione, and apparated to her location.

Neville Longbottom hadn’t moved the entire time he’d been down in the pit. His eyes were riveted on the spot where Harry had been. The dim outline of Harry’s body could still be seen in the blood that covered the floor. Neville was rooted there, shocked at what he'd seen. The blood, the bones, the complete evil that the scene represented, it struck an evil nostalgic chord with him. There always seemed to be bad people, he thought, there was always bad people hurting the good. When will it ever end?

After a time, his eyes slowly dropped, as they did, he caught sight of something on the floor. It didn’t belong. Among the bodies and dark reminders, it seemed ordinary. Neville reached down and picked it up. It was Harry’s glasses. One of the lenses was missing and the other had a large crack running down the middle. The frames were bent, broken just like Harry. Neville took the glasses in his hands and smiled. The glasses could be fixed, they had survived and been found, so they could be fixed; just like Harry. With that, Neville apparated.

***Author's note: More to come, I promise. Let's keep the feedback coming, it's helping a lot! (http://www.cosforums.com/showthread.php?t=110463)


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Old August 10th, 2007, 8:32 pm
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The Godfather
 
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Re: Initiation, Realization and Reunion

Chapter 9 – Visiting Hours

The waiting area had a panel of windows that allowed visitors to see into the ward where Harry was. Ginny was pacing irritably back and forth along the wall of windows, stopping periodically to look into the room; she would resume her trek with a huff.

“C’mon Ginny, you need to relax.” Ron, Ginny’s brother, was seated on along bench, on the wall opposite the windows. His wife Hermione lay on the bench, sleeping, her head across his lap. It had been almost six days since members of the D.A. and the Office of Aurors had brought Harry to St. Mungo’s. Despite the effort of the greatest healers in the land, it had been a touch and go affair. Since the majority of Harry’s wounds had been more the result of physical punishment, the experience had been near fatal. Aside from the moment when he opened his eyes when Ginny found him, Harry had not regained consciousness until today.

Ginny, who had scarcely been away from the hospital for the entire time Harry had been receiving treatment, had made a quick trip home to change and eat. Upon her return she’d learned that Harry had awoke. Ginny was wracked by guilt at not having been there when he awoke, and now, he was beset by a delegation from the Ministry of Magic, who were debriefing him on his encounter with the Furies. Ron had to almost physically restrain Ginny when the ward’s burly matron refused Ginny entry to the ward, until the Ministry officials were done.

“This isn’t right!” Ron knew his sister had a very short fuse. He smiled at the thought that at least, this time, her temper wasn’t directed at him. “I should have been there, Ron, when he woke up. How stupid! How selfish of me!” Ron’s eyes tracked his sister’s circuit in front of the window. Looking at her face, he saw that she was near tears, and working herself up to a mood that would be legendary in wizard history.

Calmly, Ron guided Hermione’s head to the bench, so that, he could stand up. Ginny saw the movement and marveled at the tenderness Ron displayed in this simple act. Ron moved over to his sister and stopped her momentum. He opened his arms wide and wrapped her in an embrace.

“Stop beating yourself up, sis. He knows you’re here. Blimey, the way you’re carrying on, I think all of London knows you’re here.” He offered a teasing smile to Ginny. “You’ve nothing to worry about. You needed a rest and, thank Merlin, you realized you needed to change your clothes. You were rank!”

Ginny gave Ron a reluctant smile, and then playfully punched his shoulder. “I was not rank!” He smiled back at her and shrugged his shoulders as if to say, “If you say so, but you were rank!”

A loud bang sounded in the room and George Weasley suddenly appeared to them.

“I heard he was awake! What’s the news?” George had on a plaid patterned muggle suit. Atop his head was a bowler, from under which his longish, bristly red hair seemed to be fighting a losing battle to escape the fashion faux pas. His outfit was completed by a bright red bow tie and his pants tucked into chaps covering his well-worn brogans.

“No news yet,” said Ron, eyeing his brother’s garish apparel, “Hey, what’s with the get up? You look a sight!”

“Oh, this?” George bowed with an exaggerated flourish. “Lee told me about a muggle showman, P. T. Barnum is his name, I think. Anyway, he showed me a book about him, and well,” George extended his arm as if he were a stage actor making a grand entrance, “There’s a sucker born every minute!”

The commotion in the room caused Hermione to stir. Opening her eyes, she was greeted by the site of George in his flamboyant pose, and started laughing. Ginny, despite her frustration, couldn’t help but join in, given George’s ridiculous presence. The tension in the room dissipated immediately.

“He’s awake, but now he’s with the Ministry people. They won’t even let me sit with him. We found him, there’s not much that they can keep us from knowing.” Ginny plopped down on the bench and exhaled a huge breathe. George reached into his breast pocket and pulled out a couple of non-descript packages. With a conspiratorial nod to Ron, he opened the packages and dumped them into his hand. “Extendable Ears, anyone?”

George and his deceased brother, Fred, had created the “Extendable Ears”, which allowed a person to listen to conversations from a long distance. They looked like human ears, with a long strand of flesh-like material connecting them. There use was straightforward, the listener would hold one ear to his or her own, and the other ear would extend on the elastic tether to the area that was being monitored.

Ginny jumped from her seat and grabbed a pair outright. Ron, Hermione and George, grabbed their own sets of ears and knelt down next to her by the entrance to the ward. With the listening end of the ear pressed to her ear, the seeking end wiggled its way toward the group surrounding Harry’s bed. After a moment, Ginny began to hear the conversation going on clearly.

“Furies! Dawlish, why didn’t we have warning of this?” Ginny recognized the voice of Kingsley Shacklebolt, the Minister of Magic.

“I don’t know, Minister, there hasn’t been a Fury sighting in centuries. All we knew was that someone was jinxing muggles with crucio charms. That was it.” Dawlish looked haggard; the news of Harry’s encounter with the legendary witches had him on the run, lately.

“Minister,” Ginny recognized Lachlan McCrory’s high-pitched voice, “the area around Lochirven and Suilven has always been quiet, magically speaking. I’ve been there almost five years, and I hadn’t heard of anyone being cursed.”

Kingsley stroked his chin, deep in thought. His rested on Harry, who was sitting up, trying with considerable effort, to follow the conversation. “Dawlish, where did the tip come from about the muggle in the woods?”

“I’ve been trying to track it down, Minister.” Dawlish ran his fingers through his head, a physical indication of his general exhaustion. “The thing of it is we don’t know who sent the warning. No one has been even able to find the muggle that was reported to have been cursed.”

“Interesting,” the voice came from the figure standing in the corner, who had, heretofore, remained silent during the exchange, “this is very troubling, very troubling, indeed.”

Kingsley turned to the man, “What’s that, Miles?”

The man stepped forward, approaching the Kingsley while collecting his thoughts. Miles Jackson-Smythe had a curious affectation for the muggle-created detective, Sherlock Holmes. To that end, he was dressed in a twin-billed hunter’s cap, mounted fore to aft on his head. He had a long, draping wool overcoat, ruffled and pleated, as if worn all the time, never removed, probably even to sleep. The effect was topped off by the large, meerschaum pipe, which extended from his lips. The smoke from the pipe cut perfect circles moving and expanding in a concentric pattern above his head. Jackson-Smythe’s resemblance to the legendary literary figure ended with his clothing. He was short, and rather rotund, the buttons of his overcoat straining to retain the mass of his figure inside its confines. He had long, flowing white hair that looked askance to the anachronistic hat he was wearing. His beard was also long, falling down to near his waist, looking more like Father Christmas than any special investigator.

That was what he was, a special investigator. Miles had a reputation for finding the unfindable. He answered questions that could not be answered. He started his career as an Auror, but his penchant for handling the most troublesome problems earned for him a role which evolved into that of being a “special projects” specialist. For several years, he was assigned to the Minister of Magic, directly, and tasked by the holder of that office. During the Dark Times, as the imperious-induced Thicknesse administration was referred to, Miles had tried to poke his nose in too many places. Unlike Lachlan McCrory, however, he was not fortunate enough to simply retire. His banishment to Azkeban still left visible scars, and no one could tell if the incarceration had left any other types of wounds.
“It’s elementary, my dear Minister!” Kingsley rolled his eyes. Unperturbed, Miles continued, “We have to find the others.” Noticing that his audience was looking at him with blank stares, Miles started to pace, finding a rhythm in his stride to match the cadence of his dissertation. The smoke from his pipe, trailed along, like that of a Christmas train in the winter, “Based on what we know, Furies cannot leave their sanctuary. These Furies could not have hunted the prey they needed to feed on. Ergo, they had to have outside help.”

“You mean this man, Angus? The bartender?” Kingsley interjected.

“Angus,” Lachlan snorted, “that man couldn’t find his way out of a pack of geese.”

“Precisely, my dear man.” Miles had the look of a teacher who seen a brief moment of clarity spark up in a rather dull pupil. “But think deeper, if what you and Mr. Potter have described is accurate, then the help we are discussing is much more substantial.”

“What do you mean, Miles?” Kingsley was visibly concerned, “Substantial in what way? Are you saying that wizards were helping them?”

“Maybe not wizards, but something able to control powerful magic, a goblin, perhaps. The remains of magical creatures were in that pit, including a thestral. The magic required to see, much less capture these beings has to be, shall we say, extraordinary at the least.”

“That’s outrageous! Even the Dark Lord’s minions wouldn’t cater to serving something as loathsome as a Fury, it would be beneath their hatred for anything not pure-blood.” Dawlish was aghast.

“Perhaps,” the brow of Miles’ forehead furrowed deeper, “however, Minister, there is another item to consider. I believe that young Mr. Potter here, may have been specifically targeted. This whole episode may have been a trap, a ploy to lure him to a remote place, thence to destroy him.”

The words caused Ginny to gasp. “Who would want to kill Harry?” Hermione’s whispered question echoed Ginny’s thoughts.

“Who left alive, you mean?” Ron’s retort was lost in the smack to the back of the head by Hermione’s hand, as she shushed him, so that, she could hear more of the conversation.

“That’s preposterous!” Dawlish was flustered as he contemplated the implication of Miles’ observation. “How could anyone know that I would send Harry into a trap, unless you think I’m part of the plot?”

“No, no, don’t be ridiculous, dear boy.” Miles pulled the tip of his pipe out of his mouth, using the end to emphasize each point he was making. “Consider the facts. Over the past few weeks, your senior Aurors were engaged in pursuing random reports, here and there. When this report came in, how many relatively minor cases did you have? Many, I should think. How did you come to picking Harry for this assignment, anyway?”

“I didn’t pick Harry, exactly.” Dawlish thought back, his memory clouded by his weariness. Suddenly, his eyes lit up in recognition, “I remember that I sent a first year trainee out to bring me the first junior Auror she could find. It was Sarah Peebles, I sent Sarah Peebles, and I told her to send me one of the Juniors.”

Miles turned to Harry, “Harry, how far from Mr. Dawlish’s office is yours?”

Weakly, Harry replied, “Mine is at the end of the hall sir, I’d only just finished training a week ago or so.”
Miles neared Harry, “Now concentrate, when you came in the office, were there any other Aurors around? Were you the only one in the office?”

“No sir, in fact, I think I was one of the last to arrive.” Harry’s head was throbbing from the effort to remain awake.

Miles stood fully erect, and whirled around to face Kingsley and Dawlish, “Minister! I submit to you that Mr. Potter was the target of this attack. Dawlish, here, sent someone to fetch any random Auror, and yet she passed all of the doors to specifically fetch Potter. That’s where we should start, Sarah Peebles!” Pleased with himself, Miles assumed a stance he had seen on the cover of one the Sherlock Holmes novels he’d read, his body turned to the side, head up, and the pipe held high in a mock salute.

Kingsley was less than pleased. “Dawlish, find Ms. Peebles and get to the bottom of this. I want to know if this one person, or if we have another Dark Arts conspiracy on our hands.”

“Minister, I would suggest that we keep Mr. Potter in town for the time being, until we figure out what’s going on.”

“I agree. No long absences my boy, you’re to stay put, until further notice.” With that, Kingsley swept the rest of the group with a long stare, “We need to get to the bottom of this, immediately.”

Ginny’s heart skipped a beat on hearing that Harry wouldn’t be taking any trips, any time soon.

There were nods of assent, all around. After a quick goodbye, the group started walking towards the exit. Hurriedly, the four eavesdropping Weasleys pulled their Ears back and tried to settle on the bench, acting conspicuously nonchalant. The Minister’s staff walked out, nodding to them as they passed. Kingsley stopped, turned and looked at them, suspiciously. His gaze halted on Ginny and he gave her a friendly smile.

“He’s fine, why don’t you go see him?” Ginny stood up and entered the ward before the Minister could say good bye. Smiling an apology to Kingsley, Hermione, George and Ron followed her towards Harry’s bedside.

As the foursome approached Harry’s bed, a large, brooding matron was hovering over him. His eyes were closed as the effort of the past couple of hours had overcome him. The Healer saw the four friends and stepped between them and Harry.

“Visiting hours are over. Your friend needs his rest, you’re going have to come back tomorrow.”

Ginny was visibly shaken. The emotional stress of the past week had finally torn a hole right through her being. Tears began to form in her eyes, her knees were on the verge of collapse.

“Wait,” the voice was soft, strained, barely audible. “Please let Ginny stay, I need her to stay with me. I don’t want her to go, please.” They turned towards the source of the plaintive voice. Harry’s eyes were opening, he had tears streaming down his face. His arm reached out his hand, pleading for the warmth of Ginny’s hand.

For a moment, it looked like the matron was going to refuse his request, but Harry’s eyes were directed at her. The look he gave wasn’t pathetic, nor was it begging, it was resolved, deep as if this was his most fervent desire. Understanding the relationship between will and survival, she gave in.

“Alright,” her soft voice belied her external presence, “she can stay, but the rest of you will have to come back tomorrow.”

Hermione rubbed her tear-streaked face with the front of Ron’s shirt. Nodding to Ginny, she pulled Ron and George with her, out of the door.

The matron walked away to visit her other charges. Ginny hesitated a moment, looking down at Harry. He had lain back onto his bed, his body tired, and weak. His eyes were dancing, trying to communicate his need to touch her. As if drawn in, the tears she’d been fighting, began to stream uncontrollably. She reached her arm out to his, taking his hand in her own. She sat down at his side, careful to not displace his tired form. Her touch was light and gentle, but not afraid. She brought her head down to his and placed a kiss on his lips. She held her lips to his, lightly, barely touching, letting him feel her love, but not taxing his spent body. She separated from the kiss, and looked into his eyes. Those eyes told her everything, they were together, and suddenly the oppressive weight that had been crushing her heart had lifted, and she was soaring.

Harry smiled, thinking that he had to tell her so much. He wanted to tell her about the trip, and his feelings about being apart and about being in such despair when they weren’t together. He wanted to tell her that nothing meant more to him that she, and his last, desperate thoughts were of her.

His body just wouldn’t allow it, so all he could muster was a simple, “I love you, Ginny.” With that, he fell asleep, with the knowledge that she was there.

His words hit her like a lightning bolt. It shocked her to her soul. They’d said it to each other before, countless times. This time, she knew that he’d given everything to saying it to her. It expressed more than just what he felt, but reflected what he was, what they were. She leaned close to his ear, and whispered, “I love you, Harry, always.” Unsure whether he heard her or not, she realized that it didn’t matter. This time, her declaration was for her, it was her commitment that they would never be apart. He was her everything, and she would move the Earth for him. Emotionally spent, she lay down beside him and stroked his hair. She would care for him, until the end of time. A thought penetrated the back of her mind as she laid there, someone wanted to kill Harry. Someone wanted to put him in danger. She didn’t care what she had to do; no one would take him away from her. She resolved herself to never leave his side; he would never face the darkness alone again. Slowly, her thoughts drifted back to him, for the moment casting aside the danger or the exhaustion. To her, right now, there was only Harry, and life was good. For the first time in a long time, she allowed sleep to overtake her; confident that her dreams would be good dreams, because, her dreams had come true.

Ron and Hermione had let George go on ahead. Ron was standing behind her, arms wrapped around her as the watched the tableau unfold through the windows in the waiting room. Taking in the tender scene, Ron bent his head and kissed his wife gently on the top of her head. Hermione closed her eyes and smiled. Turning around and facing her husband, she kissed him on the lips and then pulled away.

“Harry’s been through enough. He deserves a normal life, just like everyone else.” Her voice became more and more strident.

“What do you mean? What do you aim to do?” Ron looked down, his admiration for her resolve beaming from his face.

“We are going to help get to the bottom of this. No more conspiracies, no more prophecies. It all ends. Harry and Ginny deserve to be happy.” She paused, and turned to look the sleeping couple, “They deserve to be as happy as we are, she needs to be as loved as I am. That’s the best gift we can give them.” She tugged at Ron’s arm and smiled at him, “Come on Ron, let’s go home.”

Mesmerized by her invitation, Ron allowed her to tug him along. Looking back at Harry and Ginny, he couldn’t help himself. Barely audible, he murmured, “Gift? Why couldn’t we just get them a nice china pattern?”

***Author's note: See what I mean? There's more to the story. Let me know if it's working for you. (http://www.cosforums.com/showthread.php?t=110463)


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Old August 11th, 2007, 4:02 am
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The Godfather
 
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Re: Initiation, Realization and Reunion

Chapter 10 – Potter’s Army

Hermione scampered across the room, her feet moving at a feverish pace as she finished the preparations for the meeting. At her direction, Ron had laid out several sets of tables and chairs on one end of their apartment’s main room and set up a slate board near the windows. Hermione was working to finish the refreshments and preparing her notes for the meeting.

“Oy, Hermione, I’m done with this lot now, what next?” Ron’s face was bathed in perspiration, the result of the work he’d been doing.

“That’s about it, Ron, why don’t go ahead and get ready.” Hermione hadn’t even looked up from her note taking. Ron started to turn for the bedroom and halted in mid-turn. After all this time, he still couldn’t believe his luck. The woman sitting at the table was his wife. She was perfect, in every way, and he loved everything about her. Her back was to him, as she sat at the table, concentrating on her work. He loved the way her hair fell about her shoulders. Without seeing, he could picture her brow pinched in concentration, the eyebrows almost meeting as she worked through problems. He loved her passion and strength. She had kept them all sound during the dark times. In spite of everything, she had chosen him, and he loved her most for that.

Acting on impulse, he moved up behind her and leaned to kiss her neck. She raised her head and smiled. “Now go on, they’ll be here any time.” Her admonishment was delivered with out any real heat, and he laughed and turned to go. She caught his arm and looked up to him. He stopped and granted her silent request for a kiss.

When he had gone, Hermione sat back and thought on the events of the past few days. She was adamant in her decision, they had to help Harry. Ginny and Harry have earned the happiness of a normal life. They deserved the life that she and Ron had. Harry had almost died twice for greater good; well he’d actually died once, now that she really thought about it. The difference now was that he wasn’t alone. He had inspired many people and they were stronger for it. Lost in thought, she almost didn’t hear the knock at the door.

Opening the door, she was greeted by the sight of Neville Longbottom. Neville smiled and accepted her invitation to enter the Weasley home. “Hello, Hermione, have you started yet?”

“You’re the first, Neville.” Hermione walked him to the meeting area. “Thank you for coming, I really appreciate it.”

“I wouldn’t miss it for anything, Hermione. I owe Harry a lot. He helped me to a stronger person, I couldn’t let him down.” Hermione offered Neville a knowing smile, and pointed him towards the sitting area. She turned to answer another knock at the door. This time it was Luna Lovegood, resplendent in a bright green dress adorned with herbs and flowers. She offered a wistful smile and walked in. Her long, blonde hair flowed behind her, and she spoke a gentle sing-song.

“Hello Hermione, it’s been so long, I’ve missed everyone.”

“Thanks for coming Luna, we really appreciate it.” Hermione closed the door behind them.

“No worries, but I don’t know if he’ll appreciate it. Harry is quite headstrong, and he may not like our meddling in his affairs.” With that, Luna headed over to where Neville was sitting.

Over the course of the next few minutes, the pattern continued, where by ones and twos, former members of Dumbledore’s Army made their way to Ron and Hermione’s flat. The Patil sisters, Padma and Parvati, came next. Followed in rapid succession by Seamus Finnegan and Cho Chang. Dean Thomas was next, clasping hands strongly with Ron when they saw each other.

Lee Jordan and George Weasley came together, George more normally attired this time, but still talking about suckers and P.T. Barnum. Ernie Macmillan and Hannah Abbott arrived almost simultaneously. Hermione closed the door and she was convinced that this turnout would be as good as she could hope for. As she walked back towards the living room, she heard a quiet rap on the door. Opening the door, she was taken aback. Standing in the hallway was Dennis Creevey. Hermione’s first impression was that he’d grown. He was as tall as Ron, but broad of chest. He smiled at Hermione and walked in, with a confident stride. The only recognizable feature was his sheepish grin. He was the same Dennis, yet remarkably different. He joined the others in the room.

Hermione’s gaze swept over the gathering. Of the original twenty-nine members of Dumbledore’s Army, fourteen were gathered here based on her call. She’d hoped for more, but was happy nonetheless. Part of her felt a little regret that two of their ranks would never again have the opportunity to join them. Fred Weasley, George’s twin, and Colin Creevey both died fighting during the horrific battle at Hogwarts.

“Thank you, everyone, thank you for coming.” Hermione called the meeting to order. “I’ve asked you to come, because Harry needs help. He just doesn’t know it, yet.”

“What’s going on, Hermione? Are there more Deatheaters out there?” Dennis Creevey’s voice was deep, assertive. He was no longer the little boy they knew.

“Not exactly, Dennis.” Hermione looked at each one of them. “This is much different. Someone, we don’t know who, is trying to kill Harry, they’ve made one attempt, and it very nearly succeeded. This is an evil no one can find or identify.”

Neville’s thoughts raced back to the experience on the mountain. He remembered the chasm of death, and the condition they’d found Harry in. He couldn’t shake the memory. “I’ll help, Hermione, I want to help.”

Hermione smiled, she knew that she could count on Neville. Ron cleared his throat, “Hermione, why don’t we tell them what we know so far?” Hermione threw a loving glance at her husband, thankful for his keeping the meeting moving. She began to layout what they’d seen and what they’d heard from the Minister.

After hearing the tale of the Furies and the idea that Harry may have been lured to a trap. They heard the Aurors’ suspicion about Sarah Peebles and finally learned how near death, Harry had been. The room was somber, no one speaking as they thought on what had happened.

Finally, Cho raised her head, “Doesn’t it ever end? For any of us? Who could want to hurt Harry?”

“That’s what I want us to find out, Cho.” Hermione stood up, ready to defend her position. “I want to find out who’s behind this and make sure that Harry and Ginny are safe.”

A small voice spoke up, Padma Patil raised an issue that most had been thinking about, “Um, Hermione, we all want to help Harry, we’d all do whatever we can, but isn’t this something better left to the Office of Aurors? They have Sarah Peebles in custody, after all. They have access to the information. What can we do?”

Hermione had prepared for this, “That’s true Padma, but we know Harry. We know who has had it out for him. If it’s someone he’s had a row with before, maybe we can find out who it is.”

The assembled friends considered this response. Ernie MacMillan stood up, “That’s all well and good, Hermione, but what do we do then? Do you want us running around like some private vigilante army?”

“No, Ernie.” She hadn’t expected this question; in fact, she hadn’t even considered this issue.

Ron stood up next to his wife, “Ernie, it’s not like that. There are a lot of things that we could do.”

“Like what?” Dean Thomas could always be counted on to rile Ron.

Ron stumbled at first, “Well, we could…, or maybe we might…” then he struck on the right response, “If we find out who’s responsible, we can tell the Aurors. We could offer our assistance to the Minister. Most importantly, we can protect Harry. Several of us could be around him and not be too obvious.” Ron beamed at his grace under pressure.

Hermione was proud of Ron. As always, he came through for her and she never tired being reminded why she loved him so.

“Does everyone agree?” Everyone’s hands went up. They were ready to go back into action.

“Thank you,” a relieved Hermione was pleased that the hardest part was over. “Now, let’s put a plan together, uh, yes Dennis?”

Dennis had raised his hand to get her attention. “Well Hermione, this may seem a little strange, but I was thinking, well…” Dennis hesitated.

Ron spoke up, “What is it, Dennis? Come on, out with it.”

Dennis spoke out, encouraged, “Well, seeing that we don’t have all the members of the original D.A. here. I mean, even if we had everyone, we wouldn’t be able to have, well, EVERYONE.” The images of Fred Weasley and Colin Creevey moved through the minds of all the attendees.

“I was thinking, that maybe we should change the name. Dumbledore’s Army was for a different time, and for different people.” Hermione liked the idea, it made sense. This wasn’t about fighting Voldemort or secret Defense Against the Dark Arts training. This was something that they were choosing to do. It was a completely different proposition.

“Does anyone have any idea of what we should call ourselves?” Hermione placed a parchment on the table.

“Well,” Dennis hesitated slightly, “I think we should call ourselves Potter’s Army.”

It sounded right, it was fitting. The name was accepted without exception. Everyone moved forward to sign the parchment on which Hermione had written, “Potter’s Army”.

George came up to sign his name, and then stopped. He picked up the parchment and held it to the light. “What are you doing, George?”

He continued his inspection and then eyed Hermione closely. “I was just trying to make sure you hadn’t jinxed this one too, I’d hate to have boils growing out of my face.”

The thrown book missed his head by inches.

***Author's Note: My pace may be slowing, but I'll try to keep up. As always, feedback please. (http://www.cosforums.com/showthread.php?t=110463)


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Old August 11th, 2007, 4:02 pm
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Re: Initiation, Realization and Reunion

Chapter 11 – Mr. Harry James Potter, Auror


As Ginny arose from her bed, the morning sun was already up past its 10 AM position. Stretching briefly, Ginny smiled; she was happy to be home, but, even more so, she was happy that Harry was there in the Burrow with her. He’d been allowed to leave St. Mungo’s after his physical injuries had fully healed. Ginny and Harry had not been apart for the entire duration of his recovery, but, as she reflected, they had not talked much. The silence wasn’t awkward, but more a result of the recovery that Harry was enduring. Ginny’s mood blackened a bit; she thought back on the extent of Harry’s injuries at the hands of the Furies. She was especially furious at the thought that someone had intentionally put Harry in a position where he was vulnerable.

As she dressed, Ginny’s mind wandered over the events of the past three weeks and tried to put substance to what happened. She’d been so preoccupied with whether Harry lived or died, she hadn’t put any thought as to the who, or the why of the situation. She decided that she should talk to Ron and Hermione about this, if she could catch up with them. Ginny hadn’t seen much of her brother and sister-in-law, since that day in the ward at St. Mungo’s. They would briefly flit in and out of her parents’ house, not really staying for any amount of time. Ginny thought it was curious. She walked out of her room and saw the door to her brother Ron’s old room was open. Mrs. Weasley, her mother, had insisted that Harry stay with them for the duration of his recovery, and, Ginny hoped secretly, for the duration of the crisis at hand.

Peering into the bedroom, she saw that the bed was empty, its bed clothing tidily arranged and clean. Ginny’s heart skipped a beat. She’d expected to see her fiancé there, sleeping, and was surprised by his absence. She went down the stairs at a faster clip than she normally did and burst into the kitchen. Molly Weasley was sitting at the table, sipping a cup of tea and reading her husband’s discarded copy of the Daily Prophet.

“Good morning, Ginny,” she greeted her daughter, as she came into the room.

“Mum, have you seen Harry?” Ginny’s voice had an edge of concern. The brusqueness of her response caused her mother to raise her head from the newspaper and arch an eyebrow.

Molly Weasley took in her daughter. Molly and Arthur were proud parents, and were grateful for the life and energy that seven children brought to their house. Molly was particularly proud of her daughter. Ginny had grown to be an independent and determined woman. Molly especially enjoyed the fact that Ginny wasn’t one who suffered fools, or was too reticent to let anyone know her thoughts. For a time, when Ginny was at Hogwarts, Molly was afraid that the qualities that made Ginny special, would preclude her from finding the right person to fall in love with. Molly felt that a boy with too strong a personality would try to stifle Ginny, and one with too weak a personality would not complement her daughter. Who could have thought that the answer to the riddle had been in their midst for all this time? Molly was sure that Harry was perfect for her daughter. He’d make her happy. He’d live only for her. He was the only person that could make her daughter, well, frantic.

Molly smiled, “He’s just outside, near the boundary wall, dear. I think he’s just resting in the sun. Can I make you something to eat?”

Ginny walked to the kitchen window and looked outside. The Burrows had a wide stone wall that edged the property. The wall wound itself over the various hillocks and through the glens, adding a frame of age and beauty to the pastoral scene. After a moment, she spied the form of a man, lying on top of the wall, basking in the rising sun. Upon closer inspection, she saw that it was Harry; his eyes were closed, his arms interlocked behind his head. He was smiling, as if he was seeing something pleasing, and Ginny hoped, just for a second, that he was thinking of her.

She turned to her mother, “I’m famished!”
Harry Potter’s repose on the wall was enjoyable. He was lying on a section of the wall that was atop one of the larger hills of the property. He was dressed in jeans and a tee-shirt that had to have been one Ron’s from a younger time, as it fit him snugly about the arms. Nearby, a large English elm, untouched by blight or disease, rose majestically from the hill’s apex. A light breeze fanned over Harry, its passage only marked by the sound of the leaves of the tree. Sunlight cascaded down on him, warming his face and body. It felt to Harry as if he were a wilted plant, deprived of nutrition, was suddenly being given sustenance by the pure light of the sun. Harry smiled at that thought, Neville surely would have been pleased by that.

Harry had been thinking on what had happened to him. First and foremost, he was ecstatic about being with Ginny. Although they hadn’t talked specifically about the anxiety he’d been feeling about their relationship before the encounter with the Furies, he had a distinct feeling, based on their interaction over the past few days, that the anxiety and despair would not return. In fact, he was quite sure of it.

He was more surprised as his thoughts turned towards his first mission as an Auror. Harry had been reviewing every action, every response, every minute regarding his travels to Suilven. He had bounced details off of Dawlish and Lachlan, during their visits to him in St. Mungo’s, when they came for follow-up interviews. The startling thing was that Harry was quite satisfied with how the mission went.

In the past, especially during his time at Hogwarts, Harry always questioned himself as to what he was doing, and how events had turned out. If he survived an encounter with Voldemort or his henchmen, he would credit his success to luck or unplanned assistance from some ally. Harry had never been sure of what he was doing; he’d never been confident of his decisions in critical times. On numerous occasions, he’d been paralyzed by indecision, which had made for potentially catastrophic results. Even during the final battle at Hogwarts, Harry had always thought that his actions were dictated by a little panic and a lot of anxiety. Up to that last fateful walk towards Voldemort and Harry’s eventual death, temporarily at least, Harry had never been quite sure that he was doing the right thing, making the right choice.

This uncertainty had carried over into his post Hogwarts life. It had permeated almost every decision he made: Where should he live? How should he be with Ginny? Should he be an Auror? It seemed like in every facet of his life required constant thought and a certain amount of angst. That had all changed with his escapade at the Grey Castle.

Harry reflected on the entire journey. He remembered his confidence in dealing with the patrons at the “Targe”. He made solid decisions, like not flying up to the mountain and night, but waiting for morning. During his encounter with the Furies, his actions were quick and decisive. His responses to them escalated incrementally. He remembered how he tried to stun, then conjured his Patronus and then his final spell to defeat them. Even when he’d fallen down into the pit, he’d still managed to find a way to summon help. During the entire time, he’d not been afraid of dying. He’d already died before, so if that was the worse that could happen, then so be it. Harry had kept his wits about him, and most importantly, as he thought back, he could not think of a single event, a single decision that he made which he would change.

Harry sat up and swung his legs around to allow them to hang over the wall. In retrospect, he’d done quite well. He had always possessed strong magic, exceptional magic, some would say, but he was a boy then. Now, for the first time, he felt grown up. He felt like he was a man, any doubt about his capabilities were erased. In his mind’s eye, he felt like he could see images of Remus, Sirius and his father, smiling at him with knowing grins, as if he’d finally passed some test of maturity. In a small way, Harry’s shoulders began to straighten back and broaden a little, nevermore to slouch in the manner of someone unsure of his path in life.

Ginny exited the door from the kitchen. She began to walk towards Harry, her eyes never leaving his figure. He looks different, somehow, she thought. She really hadn’t seen him upright, unhurt in weeks. Physically, he was taller, his shoulders broader. His taut shirt showed the outlines of a more impressive muscularity. Not over done like some of the men she'd seen on the Quidditch pitch, but lithe, athletic, almost predatory. His legs seemed longer, and his jeans were tight against the curvature of his thighs and calves. Even in his relaxed pose, he seemed coiled, ready to leap up at a moment’s notice. It was as if she was seeing him, again, for the first time. As she neared, she could make out his face, and she could see his eyes. His viridian eyes locked with hers. They seemed almost iridescent as they danced with obvious delight in seeing her. Her heart fluttered, her breath caught in her lungs. She felt a little light-headed. Ever since she was a little girl, that first day she saw him on Platform 9 ¾, she’d thought him handsome. Today, she realized, the man she loved, Harry James Potter, was, for lack of a better term, sexy.

Harry smiled as Ginny made her way towards him. The sun was at her back, its rays dancing through the tresses of her crimson locks. He loved her hair, it’s fiery hue seemed alive as it bounced with every stride she took. It marked the outline of her face perfectly. Harry’s breath always shortened, whenever he saw her face. Every facet, every feature seemed to etch a place in his memory. He could place every line, every freckle, every curve in perfect clarity. Her eyes twinkled in amusement, as if the radiant smile on her lips had a connection with them. Years of Quidditch play had toned her body. She wasn’t that ten year old girl he remembered, nor was she the awkward teen he first fell in love with. She was a woman, of her own mind, which was incredibly appealing. She walked unhurriedly, but definitely with purpose. Her movements drew his eyes to her figure. Her legs were strong and lean. Her body was beautiful, her growth into adulthood had added curves in the right places. Yes, Harry thought, she was definitely a woman, and, bringing a twinkle to his eye, she was incredibly sexy.

Ginny approached the wall and leaned her arms on the top, next to where Harry was sitting. “There you are.”

“Hello, there. Sleep well?” Harry leaned down to place a kiss on her lips.

“Yes, you’re up early, everything alright?”

Harry looked at her, “Of course, I just got tired of being inside, I needed to get out for a bit. Why? Were you worried about me?”

Ginny’s cheeks reddened, “No, don’t be silly.”

“You know, you don’t need to worry about me, Ginny.”

“What do you mean?”

Harry paused, “What I’m saying is that, I’m fine. Actually, I’ve never felt better. Becoming an Auror was the a good decision.”

“That’s good, Harry.” Her tone was less then enthusiastic, maybe her thoughts about his desire to be an Auror were right.

“Ginny…” “Harry…”

Both laughed at trying to start the talk they’d been wanting to get to. Harry inclined his head, indicating that she should start.

“Harry, I’d thought I’d lost you, but the thing of it is, that, I’d been worried that I’d lost you a while back, before your mission.” The look she gave him was almost pleading.

He looked at her, “Ginny, I’d felt the same way about you! I’d thought that, well, with your travel and time with the Harpies, that you’d needed to get on with your life. I love you so much, I thought that, well, who was I to stand in the way?”

Ginny’s expression turned puzzled, then amazed. “I thought that’s the way you felt about being an Auror! I’d always thought you were supposed to make sacrifices for the one you love.”

Harry leapt down from the wall and stood next to her, drawing her to him. “Ginny, when I was down in that pit, when I thought I would not make it out, I thought of you, it’s always been about you. It brought me hope. When I changed the galleon, I knew you would come. I knew, no matter what, you would come. I suppose this is part of learning to be a couple. Perhaps we should really try to work on our communication or something like that.”

“Where’d you learn that? Have you been reading Ron’s book on bewitching witches?” There was laughter in her tone.
“Not exactly, but it was something that Ron taught me, believe it or not. He tried to tell me the day I left.”

Ginny laughed and told Harry about the talk she’d had with Hermione. “Can you believe that Ron would be teaching us about matters of the heart?”

“Oh, I don’t know, Hermione has always been a great teacher, maybe it works better when you have such a blank slate to work with.”

Harry and Ginny looked at each other, and the burst into laughter. The emotions of loss and love, pain and recovery were all expunged in that one instant. After a while, their giggles subsided and they just looked at each other. Leaning in, together, they kissed, deep.

Harry pulled away slightly, “Never again, Ginny, never again will we be apart. I don’t mean physically, of course, but I mean, I’ll never doubt us, ever. We’re linked, we were meant to be, and I’ll do my best to make sure we are never apart, here,” He pressed his hand to her heart, “I love you, and I want to be together, forever.”

She took his hand in hers, and looked up at him, a tear forming in her eye, “Absolutely. I love you, too, Harry, don’t ever doubt it again.” After a moment, she continued, “I guess it took us long enough. Hermione was right, we are a bit obtuse, aren’t we?”

“I guess it comes with the territory,” Harry continued, “what with the whole saving the world and all.”

Together, they burst into another round of laughter. Finally, they came together in a lasting embrace, tender and loving.

In one of the outer buildings of the compound, unseen, three figures watched the couple on the hill. George Weasley, Cho Chang and Dennis Creevey were carrying out their assigned guard duties.

Cho turned her eyes downward, “I know we’re keeping watch over Harry, but I don’t think we need to use your Extendable Ears. It’s unseemly.”

“Come on, Cho!” George was reeling in the ears, “We’ve got to be sure they’re safe, we’re doing our duty.”

Dennis’ cheeks were tinged with color, he’d been embarrassed at spying on Harry and Ginny’s private moment. “Just put them away.”

“Suit yourself, but if we miss my sister slapping an Imperious curse on Harry, we’ll be sorry.”

This time, the object Cho threw didn’t miss the back of George’s head.


***Author's Note: I think we've pretty much established Ginny and Harry's relationship. Originally, this is where I had intended to end the story, but I've gotten a little carried away, so we're going to have to go ahead and find out who's behind this nefarious plot. More to come, but it helps to hear back from you.


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Last edited by USNAGator91; August 11th, 2007 at 4:25 pm. Reason: Harpies are an all girl team, duh.
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  #11  
Old August 12th, 2007, 2:10 am
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Re: Initiation, Realization and Reunion

Chapter 12 – Hero’s Return

The next few weeks were ideal for Harry. He spent every waking minute with Ginny. He felt his life had taken a turn for the better. He’d been surprised over the time he was convalescing; at how many of his old friends from his Hogwarts days had taken time out of their lives to visit. Their visits lasted quite a while and he enjoyed every minute of it.

As the days passed, he began to feel that the time was right for him to return of the Office of Aurors. Harry thought that the conversation with Ginny about his return would be difficult, and it was.

“Why can’t you just stay here, Harry?” Ginny had her arms folded as he attempted to convince her of his desire to return. “They haven’t even found who’s behind this.”

“That’s precisely why I have to return, Ginny.” He straightened up and took her hand. “We have to live our lives. I’m not doing anything, here, Ginny. I have to go back and at least try to help. I promise, I’ll be back, safe and sound.”

Ginny wasn’t quite convinced, but nodded her head hesitantly. Dinner that night was a quiet affair. When Ginny told her parents that Harry had decided to return to work, Molly Weasley immediately understood her daughter’s mood. Arthur Weasley was completely oblivious.

“Splendid, Harry. Why don’t we go in together?” Harry was relieved at the offer. He would be ready the next morning.

That night, Harry had difficulty falling asleep. His thoughts kept drifting to the woman in the next room. Rising silently, he tip toed down the hallway to Ginny’s room. Opening the door slowly, he snuck in and whispered her name, “Ginny, are you awake?”

“Yes.” The reply was immediate. He moved over towards her voice and sat at the foot of the bed.

“Ginny, I…”

“It’s alright, Harry. Really.” She sat up to look at him. “We talked about this. I know it’s different now, but I can’t help but be worried.”

“You’re sure?” Harry tried to catch a glimpse of her eyes in the darkness.

“I’m sure.” This time her voice was much more confident. “I just, well, could you just, hold me tonight?” He didn’t make any response, but simply moved to the open spot on the bed.

Harry rose early the next morning. Easing out of bed slowly, so as not to disturb Ginny’s slumber, he made his way back to his room to dress. He’d been preparing for this day, almost since the first day he was released from the hospital. He dressed quickly, and gathered his bag and went downstairs.

The elder Weasleys were already up and about, in the kitchen. When Mrs. Weasley saw Harry, she didn’t speak, at first. After a moment, she caught herself, and asked Harry if he’d like breakfast.

After breakfast, Mr. Weasley rose from the table. “Well, ready Harry?” Harry rose with him.

“Harry! Wait.” Ginny bound down the stairs. She stopped short upon seeing him. Looking him up and down, she smiled, as if a brand new confidence had come over her. “I just wanted to wish you luck.”

He smiled at her, “I’ll be home for dinner.” He went to her and kissed her full on the lips. Mr. Weasley gave his wife a surprised glance. Molly Weasley simply shrugged her shoulders and smiled.

Arthur Weasley recovered his composure, “Well, I guess we should be off.” He led Harry out to the front courtyard and in a flash, both were gone. Ginny sat down at the table, a look of quiet confidence on her face.

“So, Ginny dear, what do you have planned for today?” Ginny looked at her mother, a decision already made.

“I think I’ll drop in on Hermione. I need to discuss something with her.”

Harry and Arthur appeared in the main hall of the Ministry of Magic. With a nod, Arthur made his way towards his office. Harry paused a moment and adjusted his robes. He took a deep breath; he started his walk into the Ministry.

The Harry Potter that strode into the Ministry of Magic today was remarkably different from the one that was dispatched to Scotland. His gait was long, confident. His shoulders were thrown back which accentuated his height. His head was up, allowing him to face forward, presenting a determined figure to any observer.

More than his stature and carriage, Harry had changed his overall physical appearance as well. He wore black pants, tucked neatly into a pair high black leather boots, which had a mirror shine buff. He’d put on a white collared oxford with a tie decorated in his old Gryffindor colors. His robes were midnight black, and flowed freely as if they were alive. The only hint of color on the robes was the gleaming silver Aurors shield affixed to his left breast. It highlighted his position, and created an aura of authority around Harry. The most dramatic change could be found on his face. Gone were the round, adolescent spectacles that had been his hallmark. In their place were wire rimmed, more rectangular glasses, which were perched firmly on his nose. The effect made his face look narrower and leaner. A further impact was that Harry’s eyes were much better framed, more visible, more mysterious. The only remnant of his uniform from his previous visit was his rucksack. It was beaten and worn from his experience in Scotland and Harry carried it high over one shoulder, displaying it like a talisman, as if to say he had not been defeated.

Instead of shuffling through the foyer, one of many functionaries of the government, the crowd seemed to part to let him through. Here and there, people would stop and whisper to each other as they noticed his passing. Harry ignored them, and made a straight line for the elevators. Within minutes he was back in the Office of Aurors.

After settling in, Harry went down to Dawlish’s office. Knocking on the door, Harry entered to find McCrory and Jackson-Smythe inside with Dawlish. Dawlish had a distinct, exhausted look about him and Jackson-Smythe looked the same as when Harry first met him.

Lachlan McCrory had made a transformation almost as dramatic as Harry’s. Gone were the tattered, worn rags and the mangy, hunted appearance. In their place, Lachlan was groomed neatly and he had on an impressive set of Auror robes. He greeted Harry warmly.

“Harry, good to see you.” He extended his hand and offered him a firm shake. “You look refreshed, ready to get to work.”

“Thanks Lachlan, good to see you as well. Back with us, I see?” McCrory nodded with a smile. Harry turned to Dawlish, “Sir, any news on what’s behind all this?”

Dawlish glanced quickly at Jackson-Smythe. Miles gave him quick shrug of the shoulders. “Well Harry, we interrogated Sarah Peebles, apparently she was the victim of an Imperious Curse.”

Miles interjected, “We think we have some idea that there was some Deatheater involvement, but right now it’s just rumor, nothing concrete.”

“So, what’s our next step?” Harry looked from man to man. “What’s next?”

“Look, Harry. The Minister gave us specific instructions to keep you out of this.” Dawlish offered a sheepish look. “I think he believes that we can’t risk you.”

“Sir, that’s rubbish, there’s got to be something I can do.” Harry was not pleased with the response.

“We’ve got some things for you follow up on, Harry.” Dawlish shook his head no at Harry’s unspoken question as whether this dealt with the Furies investigation. “Your situation isn’t the only thing that the Office of Aurors handles, Harry.”

Harry was visibly disappointed. Dawlish gave him a critical look. “Are you saying that the work we assign other Aurors is beneath you, Mr. Potter?”

Ashamed at the rebuke, Harry shook his head. “Then, I suggest you get to work, we’ll keep you up on what’s going on.”

Harry straightened up and nodded goodbye to the three and started back to his office. When he arrived, he heard a rustle of feathers, and Helios, his owl stood perched on his window sill. Attached to his leg was a small bit of parchment. Stroking Helios’ head, he pulled the paper out and unrolled it.

“Harry, Have a pleasant day back. I can’t wait to see you tonight. All my love, Ginny”

Harry sighed, the sentiment placating the disappointment he was feeling. He re-rolled Ginny’s message and placed it in his pocket. Another ruffle of feathers announced the arrival of more owls with official looking messages.

Sitting down at his desk, the new Harry Potter began to file through the pile of Underage Use of Magic reports that had collected in his absence.


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Old August 12th, 2007, 1:33 pm
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Re: Initiation, Realization and Reunion

Chapter 13 – The New Recruit

After Harry had left with her father, Ginny ate a quick breakfast and went upstairs to change. For the past couple of weeks, Ron and Hermione had been conspicuous by their absence. Ginny had been so wrapped up in caring for Harry, so she hadn’t noticed. Now that Harry was back to work, she decided to catch up with her brother and sister-in-law.

Later that morning, she apparated back to the building where Ron and Hermione lived. When she turned towards their door, she spied a familiar figure approaching. Luna Lovegood offered Ginny a warm smile.

“Luna, how are you? What are you doing here?”

“We have another P.A. meeting, I’ve missed seeing everyone.” Ginny gave Luna a puzzled look.

“P.A.? Don’t you mean D.A.?” Luna smiled sweetly at Ginny.

“No silly, because we’re here to help Harry. It’s Potter’s Army, so it’s the P.A.” Luna grabbed her friend’s hand. Leaning in towards Ginny’s ear, she whispered, “Anyway, we couldn’t be the D.A., because Colin and Fred aren’t here anymore. It wouldn’t be right if we couldn’t have everyone from Dumbledore’s Army. Now come on, we don’t want to be late for the meeting.”

Luna knocked on the door. When Hermione answered, Luna tugged on Ginny’s arm and pulled her into the apartment, openly startling the assembled group. Ginny’s eyes swept the room, taking in the faces of her friends.

“What is going on here?” She looked at her brother Ron, who quickly lowered his head, as if he’d been caught with his hand in the proverbial cookie jar. Her gaze shifted to her brother George, who tossed her a quick salute. Hermione stepped up to Ginny and pulled her aside.

“Ginny, why don’t we go speak privately.” The women walked into the adjacent bedroom. “Now, don’t be upset, we only want to help.”

An exasperated Ginny pulled her arm away from her friend, “Help with what? Hermione, what is going on here?”

Hermione described the events that had led to the creation of Potter’s Army. When Hermione described what she and her friends had been doing, Ginny was slightly alarmed.

“You mean to tell me that someone has been watching us this entire time?” Ginny thought back to all of the private moments that she and Harry had shared over the past few weeks. “How closely have we been watched?”

Now it was Hermione’s turn to blush. Quickly she changed the subject, “You’re not mad at us, are you?”

Ginny grinned, “No silly, I’d come over here to ask for help. I’ve been wanting to do something, and I don’t know what. This is a grand idea.”

Hermione’s relief was apparent on her face. The two walked back to the meeting. Rapidly, they brought Ginny up to date on what they’d been able to find out so far. Neville laid out the details.

“From what we know so far, Sarah Peebles wasn’t working of her own will. She was given a simple instruction and she followed it. We don’t know where or when it happened.” Neville pulled out a parchment. “Our plan was to take two approaches. First, we would put a protective cordon around Harry.”

Hermione interjected, “We couldn’t tell you, Ginny. You were, er, well, close to Harry. We were trying to do this, so that, he didn’t have to worry.” Hermione’s discomfort with their activities was evident.

“We’re sorry about spying on you, Ginny. For what it’s worth, I’m very happy for you two, it was very sweet.” Cho’s words seemed to placate Ginny somewhat.

George chortled, “Yes, it was very sweet!” Ginny’s face became a deeper shade of crimson.

Neville restarted his presentation before George’s ability to walk became a question of doubt. “Er, right, anyway, our second approach was to sit down and identify people that we knew from Harry’s past that would harbor so much hate that they wanted to kill him.”

Ginny nodded her head in agreement. “You started with the Deatheaters, I suppose.”

Dennis Creevey spoke up, “That seemed logical. As far as we know, there are eight still on the loose. We’ve each tried to track down their whereabouts.”

There were nods all around. The first to speak up was Dean Thomas, “Goyle Senior is the shadow of the man we knew. Aurors caught up with him last week, and he’s cooling his heels in Azkeban.” Dean turned to the Lee Jordan on his right.

“Rookwood is accounted for, he was killed by a dragon while he was trying to hide out in Romania. Your brother Charles found his body, or what was left of it.” Lee smiled at the thought. He turned the meeting back over to Neville.

“That leaves Deatheaters that neither we, nor the Ministry can account for: Dolohov, Jugson, Nott and Travers.” Neville hesitated.

Ginny noticed the omission, “Wait, you said there were eight, you’ve only named six. Who’s left?”

Ron spoke up, “Well, it’s the Malfoys.”

“The Malfoys?” Ginny could scarcely believe her ears, “How can they be unaccounted for?”

“That’s just it, both Lucious and Draco have disappeared.” Hermione pulled out a binder that contained appeared to contain several issues of the Daily Prophet. “Lucious fell out of sight about a year ago, and no one has seen Draco in almost a month.”

Cho had a thoughtful look on her face. After wrestling with whatever she was thinking about, she spoke up, “Wouldn’t that exclude Draco?” All eyes locked in on her. “Well Harry was sent to visit the Furies almost six weeks ago, and Draco hasn’t been seen in a month, so, how could he have planned all this being in full view of the authorities?”

The concept resonated with the group. Ron looked up, “Blimey, she has a point, besides that git Draco never had the spine to do something like this. He’s too much of a coward.”

“My money is on his old man.” Seamus Finnegan was firm in his conviction. “He’s been after Harry for years. He was behind the smear campaign at the Daily Prophet after the Triwizard.” Seamus’ still stung from his parents’ and his own belief in the lies that were published in the Prophet during their fifth year at Hogwarts.

“What should we do next?” Ginny was up and moving around. She always did her best thinking while pacing.

“I think we need to concentrate on Lucious, he’s the most obvious. We follow up on each one, until we find them and either exclude them or identify them.” Dennis was more direct in his words; he was taking a more active role in the organization. His suggestion was a good one, and the others indicated their agreement.

Padma Patil meekly raised her hand, “Just one thing, what about the Furies? Even if these men were responsible, how did they know about the Furies?”

“What do you mean, Padma?” Hermione prodded the quiet girl.

“If they knew about the Furies, then why didn’t Voldemort use them when he ruled? They would have made powerful allies.” Padma looked at her friends and gathered herself up, “But they didn’t. We all saw that pit, there had been creatures murdered there for years. Who had been helping them? The Deatheaters were helping Voldemort of a good portion of that time.”

The answer to this question wasn't immediately available to the group. Ginny looked around, “We’ll need to look into that, there’s still something missing here. Padma has a good point.”

“I think we need to research more of this.” Hermione’s brain was working at a furious pace. “Neville and I are best equipped to this.”

“I’m not stupid, you know.” Ron’s hurt expression brought a smile to Hermione’s face.

“I know that Ron, I wasn’t saying you were stupid. It’s just that I work at the Ministry, I can use their resources to see if there’s any history on the Furies. And Neville is teaching at Hogwarts. He can look through the library there without raising an eyebrow.”

Somewhat mollified, Ron gave his wife a smile and sat down. Ginny smiled inwardly at their exchange. “I think since Harry has gone back to working at the Ministry, we won’t have to watch him during the day.”

Luna raised her voice, “It’s so lucky we have Ginny with us, she can watch Harry at night for us. Do you think you can keep him close during the evenings?”

Ginny had to turn away from her friends in order to hide her fiercely burning face and the guffaws that were emanating from George and Ron.

“Wait, that’s not a bad idea.” Dennis’ brow was creased in concentration, “With all the ground we have to cover, Ginny can give us a warning if she needs us. Ginny, does Harry still have his galleon?”

“I don’t think so, I haven’t seen him with it. I think he dropped it in the pit.”

Dennis was excited, “That’s perfect, you can communicate with us, and he won’t even have to know.” Hermione’s eyes lit up at the suggestion.

“That’s positively brilliant, Dennis.” Hermione spoke out to all of them. “Anything else?”

No one had anything further to add. The meeting adjourned. They began to file out, one by one. Ginny shook hands and helped to walk each out. Finally, it was just her, Ron and Hermione.

“I don’t know what to say.” Her heart was warmed by the support her friends were giving Harry. She no longer felt alone in her fears, and even better, she was doing something proactive to help the man she loved.

Ron sat pensively; he wanted to say something, but was thinking twice about it. Hermione gave him a look that told him to just spit it out. “I don’t like keeping Harry in the dark about this.”

Hermione turned to Ron, “We’ve talked about this. We are trying to take this burden off of him.”

“He’s different Hermione; I don’t think he’ll be happy. He’ll want to be involved.”

Ginny thought about this, “You’re probably right, Ron. I don’t like keeping anything from him either, but we’re so close to an answer. Let’s see if we can come up with something and then we’ll tell Harry, okay?”

Ron was far from convinced. His sister may be in love with Harry, and Hermione was one of Harry’s best friend, but Ron and Harry were mates. They’d fought and hurt together. Ron was also a husband, and knew how the love for someone could blind a person to doing the right thing.

Ginny meant well, but her judgment may have been clouded by the potential that Harry could be hurt. Ron had no such misgivings. He knew that Harry was a man of action, and truthfully, if things turned into a fight, Ron wanted Harry with them.

Ron kept his thoughts to himself. Instead he turned to his sister, “So, how will you keep a close watch on Harry at night?”

Hermione’s elbow was especially sharp this time around.


***Author's Note: Thanks for all the great feedback, it's helping with the story. I'm trying to get these out as fast as I can.

http://www.cosforums.com/showthread.php?t=110463



Last edited by USNAGator91; August 12th, 2007 at 1:39 pm.
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Old August 12th, 2007, 10:52 pm
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Re: Initiation, Realization and Reunion

Chapter 14 – Ron’s Choice

One of Harry’s favorite times of the day at the Burrow was dusk. The sunset this evening was especially dramatic. As he arrived back to the Weasley’s home, he stopped himself in the courtyard to take in the scene. The sun had just dipped below the hills on the western horizon. The sky was symphony of rose, pink and gold that seemed to fighting the inevitable darkness of the night. The moon and stars were visible, spectators to the nightly dance. The air was still, an evening mist covered the fields, like a cool blanket that seemed assure the woodland denizens that it was time for slumber.

Harry enjoyed the time he’d been spending here, but he felt out of place. He was better, his injuries all but gone. He’d have to talk to Ginny, but his goal was to return to his home on Grimmauld Place. Perhaps she could come with him, or they could work something out. He just couldn’t bring himself to feel independent and grown up if he was spending his nights sleeping in Ron’s childhood room. Harry turned to look at the main house and saw that the first story was brightly lit. The din of laughter was emanating from the structure, giving the impression that a party was going on. Harry started his walk towards the house.

The Weasley kitchen was more crowded than it had been in weeks. When Harry walked in, crammed around the table were several of his friends, and when you get right down to it, his family. Ron was sitting across the table with Hermione sitting on his lap, her arms wrapped around his neck. Mr. and Mrs. Weasley were sitting next to them, the look on Molly’s face was almost rapture. Harry grinned inwardly, thinking that Mrs. Weasley’s definition of happiness was a kitchen full of people that she could foist her succulent concoctions upon. George and Lee Jordan sat in the corner, talking in animated whispers, obviously planning their next mayhem-inducing invention. Harry’s eyes finally rested on Ginny, who’d been sitting at the end of the table, facing the door. When he walked in, her eyes reflected a look of absolute delight mingled with the weariness of relief. He drunk in the sight of her, and tried to give her a look that communicated that all was well and that he’d loved her more now than when he saw her this morning. He often envied the unique way that mature couples had that allowed them to convey a library’s worth of information with a small glance or subtle gesture. He’d seen it with Molly and Arthur Weasley for years, and Ron and Hermione had been developing this ability since their time at Hogwarts, well before their love had even revealed itself to each other.

Everyone in the room shouted in greeting. His arrival had been anticipated, apparently. Except for the elder Weasleys and Ginny, no one had seen Harry’s physical change in its total presentation and the others in the room felt a spark of surprise and interest, as if the lightning bolt on Harry’s forehead had reached out and struck each of them in turn. Ron was especially affected by Harry’s presence. Ron took in the transformation, and a slight tinge of guilt passed before his face, before he was able to rein it in. Hermione wasn’t one to remain speechless for too long.

“Harry! You look splendid! Everything’s healed?” Hermione did a quick inspection, and took special note of Harry’s eyes, now better displayed behind his new glasses. She felt a strength from him, the change was more than in appearance, he just seemed more formidable. Doubt began to filter into her mind, but that was quickly stopped with a brief glance at Ginny.

“I feel great, Hermione. I’ve never felt better. In fact,” He hesitated, and gave Ginny had long look, “I think that I may head back to Grimmauld Place soon.” Looks of alarm and concern passed over everyone. Harry pressed on, “It’s not that I don’t appreciate everything that you’ve done for me,” He made a point to look right at Molly and Arthur, “It’s just that, I think it’s time.”

Around the table, the clandestine members of the P.A. were furiously trying to come up with a reason to prevent Harry from leaving the Burrows. Unfortunately, the answer had not reached any of them before Arthur Weasley spoke up, “That’s a brilliant idea, Harry. I’d expect an Auror to want to be in his own space. I think it’s positively smashing.”

Ginny wondered, for a moment, whether her father’s motives were tied to some discomfort with her relationship with Harry.

Hermione recovered her wits, “That’s great Harry, I agree.” Ron raised a questioning eyebrow towards her. “Maybe, you could have someone stay with, just until you’re absolutely sure you’re better. You wouldn’t want Mrs. Weasley to worry, would you? Maybe one of us could stay with you, at least for a couple of weeks or so?”

“I can do it!” Ginny’s response came out a little more eager than she intended and drew questioning looks from her parents. “Well, what I mean is that Grimmauld is closer to the Harpies’ headquarters, and there’s so much room over there and I helped with its decoration.”

Mrs. Weasley spoke for the first time, “Ginny, I think it’s a marvelous idea.” Molly offered her husband a warm smile when gave her a barely audible harrumph.

Ron added, “I like it. Aside from Harry, Ginny is the only person that Kreacher doesn’t hate.”

With that, Harry smiled and sat down with them for dinner. The meal passed with everyone avoiding questions about Furies or conspiracies. Instead, most centered on George and how Weasley’s Wheezes was flourishing, now that Lee Jordan had joined the business. The conversation flowed to Harry’s first day back and what interesting things were going on with Hermione and the house-elves. Arthur spoke of some of the wonders that muggles had created like something called a blender and a microwave which both fascinated and appalled the culinary minded Molly. The evening slowly drew to a conclusion and George and Lee took their leave. Harry stood up to announce his intent to pack his things for his return to 12 Grimmauld Place.

Hermione saw an opportunity, “Ron, why don’t you go up and help Harry.” Hermione gave Ginny a “wait here” look. Ron understood Hermione’s need to speak with Ginny outside earshot of Harry and jumped up to help. The two friends proceeded up the stairs while Arthur and Molly headed into the living room for their evening toddy.

Ginny took a quick look around, “So, have you found anything?”

“Not much, Furies had ancient magic. From what I could find out, there was no way for any wizard to control them.” Hermione bit the corner of her lip, an indicator that her vast intellect was analyzing the data “But the curious thing is that they could not travel away from their lair. They feed on humans and magic, but their prey had to be brought to them. Neville checked the library at Hogwarts and found an interesting item, whoever served the Furies in this capacity doesn’t only have to be a wizard. He’d found evidence that goblins and house-elves have served in that capacity.”

A knowing look covered Ginny’s face. “That’s why you want me to accompany Harry to Grimmauld. You want me to talk to Kreacher.”

Hermione nodded. “Ron is a very shrewd person. He was right, you are the only person, aside from Harry that could talk with him.”

Ginny and Hermione put their heads together and finalized their next moves.

Ron and Harry were busily collecting Harry’s things, and placing them in a waiting trunk. They weren’t moving at a brisk pace, taking time to share a laugh about one item or another. As the task neared completion, Ron sat on the bed.

“So, Harry, you and Ginny are better, yeah?”

Harry gave his friend a smile, “Absolutely superb, Ron. You were right about that. It’s been better than I could possibly imagine.”

Ron gave Harry a look, “You know, it gets better than that. I can’t explain it, but it really does get better every day. Every time I think that I couldn’t love Hermione any more, I find more. We really are two parts of a whole, you know. She doesn’t belittle me, she is a part of me.”

Harry took a second look at his friend. He couldn’t help but marvel at his maturity. Ron had grown wise in his time since Hogwarts. Harry’s mind reflected on how marriage had helped Ron along to this point, but considering their past, Harry knew that there was a lot more to his friend than was seen on the surface.

“So how’s the Wheezes business, anyway?” Harry changed the subject.

“It’s great, really. Lee has brought a lot to us. I think he was raised on Eye-Puff Pastries. We’ve never done better.” Harry detected a slight note of hesitation in Ron’s voice. “Anyway, has it gotten better for you as an Auror? The whole near fatal collision with mythological evil witches aside, of course.”

Harry chuckled heartily. “It’s gotten better. You know, it suits me. I’m happy. Even with the minor things I work on, I’m making a difference, I have a purpose.”

“That’s good mate, I’m happy for you, really.” Ron’s eyes turned downwards.

“What is it Ron? What’s bothering you?”

Ron eyed Harry straight on, “Do you remember, back in school, when we both had thought we’d be Aurors?” Harry nodded his head. “When we left school, I thought that I didn’t want to be an Auror, but now, I think that maybe I made a wrong decision.”

Harry was taken slightly aback by his friend’s admission. “What are you saying Ron, you want to an Auror, now?”

“That’s what I’m saying. I want more out of life. I want to make a difference. I want to be more to me and to Hermione than someone who makes Joopy Cushions for a living.”

Harry interjected, “I think the muggles call them ‘Whoopy Cushions’.”

“Whatever, what I want is to be an Auror. It’s what I’m good at, it’s what I want to do. What do you think?”

“I think you should talk to Hermione first,” Ron rolled his eyes, sometimes Harry was master of the obvious. Harry ignored the gesture, “I think that if this is what you want, I’ll ask around at the Office tomorrow.”

“Thanks, Harry.” Ron looked around for any other articles that needed to be packed. “We’d better get you out of here soon. Judging from my dad’s expression when he found out Ginny was going with you, he might want to put you in that muggle blender himself.”


***Author's Note: I think it's coming together. Keep the comments coming.

http://www.cosforums.com/showthread.php?t=110463


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Old August 13th, 2007, 2:44 am
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Re: Initiation, Realization and Reunion

Chapter 15 – Home

Considering that he really didn’t have a lot of possessions at the Weasleys, Harry decided to make the trek back to his Grimmauld Place dwelling, then and there. Ron and Hermione volunteered to help Harry and Ginny carry their things. When the time came to depart, Harry received a grudging handshake from Mr. Weasley which was diametrically opposed to the crushing bear hug Mrs. Weasley had delivered. Harry wondered to himself what his reaction would be, were he and Ginny were lucky enough to have a daughter of their own.

When arrived at the front of 12 Grimmauld Place, the neighborhood was very quiet. With very little fanfare, the two couples carried their burdens up the landing and into Harry’s home. Told to leave the luggage at the foot of the stairs, the four moved into the kitchen. The change to Sirius Black’s former family home had been extraordinary. Harry and Ginny had spent the past few years remaking the entire dwelling to something that reflected their own time and their own vision. Gone were the portraits that reflected the darkness of the Black family, including the spiteful portrait of Sirius’ mother. Harry had installed large bay windows in the front rooms which allowed sunlight to flow throughout the home during the day. The baleful tapestry containing the Black family tree had finally been removed and the room turned into a sitting room, a not so subtle homage to the Gryffindor Common room that Harry and Ginny had spent so many happy times in.

The place was home, moreover, it was Harry’s home. For his entire life, Harry was basically a vagabond, a forced guest in the homes that he lived, whether it be the Dursley’s or even the Weasleys. Hogwarts had become his real home, but even there, he did not have a space to call his own. This was one of the facets of his life that, ironically, made Harry’s life similar to his vanquished foe, Voldemort. The Dark Lord had been an orphan, shuttled from place to place until he found Hogwarts. Harry glowed at the fact that, now he had something else that set him apart from his foe.

The four friends entered the kitchen to find Harry’s house-elf, Kreacher, fussing over the stove. Four mugs of hot chocolate, accented with fresh whipped cream and cinnamon were on the table.

“Greetings Master Harry, Mistress Ginny.” Kreacher nodded to them both, but visibly ignored Ron and Hermione. “It is pleasing to have you home finally.”

“Hello, Kreacher, it’s good to be home.” The aroma of the hot chocolate and whatever Kreacher was baking seemed to overpower Harry’s senses. “How did you know we’d be coming tonight?”

Kreacher shrugged his shoulders noncommittally and faced Harry full on. “Master Harry, please forgive Kreacher for not helping you. Kreacher was not allowed to visit, but Kreacher knew that you were recovering from your injuries.”

“Really? Did you find out from someone at Hogwarts?” Kreacher pulled a tray of fresh chocolate chip cookies out of the oven and placed them directly on the large wooden table.

Giving an insistent gesture for Harry and Ginny to sit down, and deigning to allow Ron and Hermione to follow, Kreacher answered. “Professor Longbottom made a point to inform me of your condition. He said he would give me updates after his P.A. meetings, and he regularly came to tell me about Master Harry.”

Ron, Hermione and Ginny shared an inaudible intake of breath. Secretly they watched Harry’s reaction to Kreacher’s statement. The interval seemed to take forever. The actual passage of time was barely discernable.

“That’s good Kreacher. Never you mind, I am home, and Ginny has agreed to stay with us. Will that present a problem for you?” Harry didn’t seem to notice Kreacher’s inadvertent disclosure.

“Kreacher is elated, Master Harry. I must say, Kreacher can not wait until Mistress Ginny properly becomes your wife. Kreacher is very good at caring for children.” The gnome-like house servant cast an expectant glance at Ginny.

Ginny tried to hide her embarrassment behind a sip of her hot chocolate. She managed to hide behind the massive mug, but her neck had followed her cheeks in turning a deep ruddy red. Soon, their dessert over, Ron and Hermione decided to take their leave. On her way out, Hermione passed a relieved and knowing look with Ginny.

Harry and Ginny bade Kreacher farewell as he made his return to Hogwarts, but he promised to return in the morning. He seemed genuinely pleased that, once again, the Black family estate would have a permanent presence. The couple moved to the sitting room and noticed that Kreacher had started a fire in the large fire place. Holding Harry’s hand, Ginny maneuvered him to one of the large, high-backed chairs that flanked the hearth. She had Harry sit, and then moved to sit across his lap, her head resting on his shoulder. They sat silently, enjoying their first taste of being together, alone. To Harry, the moment was perfect, he could feel every beat of her heart. The scent of her hair drifted permeated the air, and it was intoxicating to him. He heard her every breath, slow, rhythmic, he could not imagine a better place.

After a while, they decided to turn in for the evening. He clasped her by the hand a led her up the stairs. When they reached the door to his room, he paused, offering the decision of whether to move on to her room, or to do something else up to her. She didn’t hesitate, but walked past him into the open door to Harry’s room, leading him by the hand. They closed the door behind them.

The next morning, Harry woke first and he took the opportunity to gaze at her as she lay in the bed next to him. The sun on the windows cast an aura that reflected gently off her hair. He enjoyed to watch her sleep. Today she seemed happier, more at peace, the barest hint of a smile on her face. She seemed to sense his eyes on her, so she slowly opened her eyes and the hint of a smile turned into the real thing.

She rose with him and they both dressed for the day. Kreacher was busy in the kitchen when they came down. Harry downed a brief breakfast and kissed Ginny with a new passion, much like he saw with the happy married couples he knew. With that, he headed off to the Ministry of Magic.

After he’d gone, Ginny sat for a moment at the kitchen table, watching Kreacher go about his morning routine. “Kreacher, would it be alright to ask you something?”

“Of course, Mistress Ginny. How may I be of service?” Kreacher turned away from what he’d been doing and faced her.

“I was just wondering, well, what do you know about the Furies?” Kreacher seemed surprised by the question.

“Kreacher knows something of Furies.”


“What do you know about who serves them? You see, we know that someone had to tell whoever who was after Harry, where to find the Furies, and we know that goblins and house-elves have served them in the past.”

Kreacher’s features were distressed, “Mistress Ginny! Are you saying that Kreacher would send his master to such a horrid fate?” He began to wail and turned to pound his head against the door of the stove. “Kreacher would never betray Master Harry, never!”

Ginny yelled, “No, Kreacher, that’s not it at all. I need your help. Do you know who serves the Furies now? Who would want to hurt Harry?”

Kreacher stopped his attempt at self-flagellation. He turned and looked at Ginny, his eyes wide in understanding. Composing himself, he looked either way, speaking in a harsh whisper, “The goblins have served the Furies for centuries.”

“Do all of the goblins serve them?” Ginny was thunderstruck at the notion that a battle with all goblins loomed.

“No, Mistress. This is very ancient, very dark magic. I do not understand it fully, but house-elves fear it. House-elves only served the Furies because their masters were servants.”

“Do you know which goblin serves them now?” Ginny was close to an answer. She was near a way to save Harry from further harm.

Kreacher looked at Ginny, and shook his head. “No mistress, the name of whoever serves is stricken from all memory, by very powerful spells. I do not know.”

Ginny was devastated, she had been so close, and now, the information was really no more than she had before. Her frustration showed on her face.

“But, Mistress,” Kreacher looked up at her intently, “I know where they live.”

Ginny turned incredulously. “What? What do you mean? You know where the goblins live?”

“It is written in our ancient texts that if we wanted to serve the Furies, house-elves were to travel to Cape Wrath, in the far north. On the highest cliff overlooking Kearvaig, there is a citadel, the Dark Citadel. All servants of the Furies gather there.” Kreacher bowed his head. “It is a dark place, mistress, very dark indeed.”

Ginny’s eyes were wide in astonishment. Here was the first and most concrete clue they had to the mystery. Her heart was racing; she needed to deliver this news as soon as she could.

“Thank you, Kreacher. You don’t know how much this means to me.” She leaned down and planted a kiss on the top of his head.

She ran out of the house, without another word. Had she waited one more minute before leaving, she would have been treated to the sight of the house-elf keeling over onto his back, and passing out from the shock of the kiss.


***Author's note: I just wanted to say that it is not my intention to offend those living in Scotland by planting the locations of the evil ones there. I chose the Suilven and Cape Wrath locations by looking at a topographical map of Scotland from 1928, they fit what I was seeking in a location. Check out the Wikipedia entry on Suilven and you'll see what I mean.

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Last edited by USNAGator91; August 13th, 2007 at 2:46 am.
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Old August 13th, 2007, 2:22 pm
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Re: Initiation, Realization and Reunion

Chapter 16 – Sacrifice

Harry made his way to his office with a definite renewed vigor in his step. He liked waking up with Ginny. He reveled in the idea that they were together, for real. Today’s walk into the Ministry was marked by his nodding and smiling to everyone he encountered, the entire path to the elevators. Upon entering his office, he sat down at his desk. He’d whittled down his past due assignments to a manageable level. Swiveling around in his chair, he turned to face the window and reclined with his hands interlocked behind his head. His brain was chewing on the puzzle that was his own situation. While the Ministry had said that he couldn’t be actively involved in the investigation that did not preclude him from looking into the matter himself.

He’d also been noticing some rather odd behavior by his friends. Friends from his past showing up at the oddest times, while enjoyable, seemed to occur more often than usual to be accounted for by coincidence. Ron and Hermione had made appearances during his recovery at the Burrow, but had not dwelled for any meaningful amount of time. Even Ginny, though completely open about their relationship and its course, was holding something back from him. His mind drifted back to the visits from his friends. Luna, Neville, Dean, Ernie, Dennis, even Cho, had been around. He found it strangely odd that former members of Dumbledore’s Army were suddenly finding convenient excuses to be around. Ron, Hermione and Ginny were members of the D.A. as well.

“The D.A.” A small memory triggered in the back of Harry’s head. “D.A., D.A…” Something familiar was tugging at him; something very recently said.

Harry suddenly stood straight up, “P.A.!!!” Kreacher had mentioned something about the P.A. It wasn’t exactly the same as “D.A.”, but neither was the fact that Harry was excluded. What if his friends, including the woman he loved, were trying to solve this problem themselves? For a brief moment, the experience within Suilven sent a shiver down his spine. He was a trained Auror, after all, and he barely survived. He had to find out what was going on. He grabbed his bag and flew out his office door.

Ginny arrived at Ron and Hermione’s apartment and knocked on the door furiously. After a moment, Hermione opened the door to her friend. Ginny burst into the apartment, a flurry of energy and excitement. Several members of the P.A. were present, part of an ongoing strategy session. Neville, Dennis, Cho and Dean were clustered around a table that contained various books and papers that they had amassed about the Furies. Ginny walked to the table and started pacing in front of it.

“I’ve got something.” The group turned to look at her. “Cape Wrath, the answer is at Cape Wrath!” she announced triumphantly.

Ginny outlined what Kreacher had told her and the location of the Dark Citadel. The excitement that she felt had been conveyed to them. A flurry of discussion ensued.

Hermione caught everyone’s attention. “So, what do we do? Do we go to the Aurors?”

“We need to check it out ourselves, we need to be sure.” Dennis looked around to his friends. “What if we’re wrong? What if the answer isn’t there? We’d have exposed what we’ve been up to and they’ll put a stop to it.”

A quiet settled upon them as they weighed their options. “It wouldn’t hurt to have a look around, I suppose.” Neville’s quiet voice took them by surprise.

Hermione looked at Ginny, “Should we tell Harry?” Ginny was torn, she knew that Harry had to know about this, but at the same time, Dennis’ point was valid, what if they were wrong?

“Not yet.” She pointed to a blank parchment, “Maybe you should leave a note for Ron. The six of us can handle the scouting; we’ll be back before dinner.”

Harry arrived at his home to find it empty. “Ginny!” He ran up the stairs and searched all the rooms. Not finding her, he ran back to the kitchen. A pit began to form in his stomach. Desperately, he shouted, “Kreacher!”

A flash of smoke and light marked the arrival of the house-elf. “Yes, Master Harry?”

“Have you seen Ginny?” Harry’s insistent tone caused Kreacher to take a quick step back.

“No, Master, Kreacher answered her questions about the evil at Cape Wrath and then she went away.” The house-elf appeared to forget his bout of fainting.

“Cape Wrath? Kreacher, tell me exactly what she said.”

Kreacher related the conversation he’d had with Ginny earlier in the day. As Harry took in the account, his eyes narrowed, especially when he heard the context of Ginny’s inquiries. An ember began to smolder in the recesses of his eyes, which progressed to a steady burn as he heard the entire encounter.

Kreacher had barely finished his retelling before Harry turned and ran out the front door.

The six intrepid friends arrived via Floo at an inn in the small village of Kearvaig. Without so much as a look around them, they rushed out the door, brooms at their sides. In the corner of the room, a small, hook-nosed man with black, soulless eyes looked up from his newspaper and watched them depart. He gave a small smile lacking nary a trace of humor. Folding his paper, he walked out of the inn, and out into the town.

With Ginny in the lead, Hermione, Cho, Neville, Dennis and Dean flew at breakneck speeds, hugging the nape of the earth. Even though they had arrived at midday, the sky was an ebon black, with dark clouds hovering seemingly on top of the earth. The oddity was that there was no rain, no moisture; just an arid dryness, like that generated in the throat of a person who is facing abject terror. The advance party of the P.A. tore through the terrain towards Kearvaig Bay, coming upon the craggy promontories of Cape Wrath.

The place exuded a sense of pure, unadulterated evil. The highest point of land on the Cape was its most northern peak. It stood dark, foreboding, rising straight up out of the ocean, out of place like its soulless brother, Suilven. A fearsome North Sea pelted the cliffs of the rock with a relentless fusillade of power, as if the waters knew great evil dwelt there and sought to smite it from the face of the earth. The mountain didn’t move, didn’t falter, laughing at nature’s most fervent attempts to cleanse its midst.

They landed at the base of the tiny finger of land that connected the monstrosity to the rest of the world. Leaving their brooms, they inched their way across the narrow isthmus towards the center of the peak. A heavy shroud of fog enveloped the top obscuring the middle from observation. With a look around at each other, they proceeded to enter the fog upon crossing the land bridge.

Entering the mist, Ginny’s heart started to race. She could not see more than a few feet in front of her. Every few seconds, she would hazard a glance to either side of her, ensuring that her companions were still in sight. As she made her way forward, her progress would be halted every so often by wild bundles of gorse, forcing her to make a painful extrication from their enveloping thorns. After a time, almost an eternity, the fog began to clear, revealing a squat redoubt. Ginny couldn’t help but thinking that it was smaller than she’d expected. It was square, rising barely three stories above the ground. In the middle of a it’s roof, a dome of weathered stone rose above it. The structure was composed of large, ancient rocks that had been smoothed by time and wear. It was a dark gray, dotted with small arrow slits along its periphery. Ivy covered the walls along their entire length, but the plants were dead and looked black as if the building itself were bleeding its evil into the ground and rock itself.

“It looks deserted.” Cho’s quiet voice seemed to reverberate in a loud echo. “Maybe whoever was here left when the Furies were destroyed?”

Hermione contemplated the statement. “We should look inside, just to be certain.” She took a hesitant step towards the fortress. She suddenly felt a tug on her elbow.

“Hermione, wait.” Ginny turned her friend around. “I don’t think we should go in there. Even if they’re gone, well, look at this place. We should go tell the Aurors.”

“Tell them what?” Ginny turned her head, surprised at force behind Neville’s question. “Do we tell them that found a spooky castle? Is that it? What help would we have been to Harry, then? We would be laughing stocks then, I suspect. Harry wouldn’t trust us to conjure up a cloud, would he?”

Ginny was stung by Neville’s comments. “Easy Neville, just take it easy.” Dennis had moved forward and put one very large hand on Neville’s shoulder.

Neville shrugged off Dennis’ hand and started walking towards the large wooden doors at the base of the building. “If you won’t do what it takes to help Harry, I suppose I will.”

Stunned, the others followed him towards the doors. When they got to the ancient double doors, they glanced around, looking for signs of occupancy. No light shown from beneath the doors, nor was their any indication of movement. Neville reached up and pulled on the large, brass rings that were mounted on the portals. After a moment, the door began it move. Its passing was silent, smooth, its great mass moving effortlessly leaving barely a whisper as it traversed the whole course of its opening. They walked into the opening, entering a dark, open space, quiet as the dead.

A deep, familiar sinister laugh penetrated the silence. “Excellent, our guests have arrived. Lumos!”

Hermione was startled by the sudden brilliance that assaulted her eyes. Recovering quickly, she’d almost wished the lights had remained off. “RUN!” Frantically, she pulled her wand while pushing Ginny back.

As she turned to flee, Ginny heard the impact of a spell, then the crumpling of a body. Casting a quick glance she saw Dean fall. Before she could scream, she saw Hermione knocked to the ground by another spell that hit her from above, she was not moving.

Ginny turned to Dennis and Cho, “Keep moving! Tell Harry! Tell Harry!” Cho hesitated for a moment, then was pushed forward by Dennis, breaking into a run.

Ginny moved back towards the entrance, trying to see if there were any signs of life from her friends. Suddenly, she noticed Neville, still standing in the same place he’d been after opening the door. His eyes were glazed over, his arms were inert, unmoving at his side.

“Neville, come on!” She tugged at him, trying to will him to move. She took a quick look at Dean and Hermione and then was knocked back by a curse that flung her to the ground. Darkness crept around the edge of her vision. She turned her head and saw several pairs of arms lifting Hermione and Dean up and away from where they fell. Neville was still standing, seemingly unaware of the activity around him. As she finally gave in to the approaching darkness, a small tear formed in her eye. “I’m sorry Harry. I’m so sorry.”

The disembodied voice let out a cry of glee, “Perfect, all is going according to plan.”

Cho and Dennis maintained their suicidal trek through the blinding fog. Dennis led the way, barreling through the cuts and the scrapes of the gorse bushes. The sound of their pursuers never seemed to slacken. Dennis could feel the sharpness of their curses as they flew past his head or hit the ground near him. Reaching the entrance to the land bridge, Dennis stopped and faced Cho.

“You’ve got to go. I’ll hold them here. Forget your broom, apparate somewhere, anywhere, just go get help!” he pushed her down the path and assumed a defensive posture, his wand held high.

“But…”

Dennis yelled over his shoulder, “Just go, Cho! You’re our only chance!”

Cho turned to run. Behind her she heard the sounds of spells and curses being launched. The sound of battle carrying to her ears as she rushed down the hill. Stopping at the bottom, she heard a hideous scream, one that was unmistakably Dennis’ voice. She froze.

At the top of the hill an arm extended a wand, ready to hurl a spell at the figure of Cho. A hand extended itself over the arm and pulled it down. “Wait, remember, the plan was for one of them to escape.”

The wand’s owner chuckled. “Right. Let’s get this one back with the others.” Behind them, the sound and flash indicated that Cho had mustered the concentration to leave.

Harry ran to Ron and Hermione’s door. It was wide open. Walking within the apartment he stopped short. Ron was standing in the middle of the room, his face carrying a haunted look of anguish and fear. Tears were rolling from his eyes and he gave Harry a helpless, pleading look. “Harry, we’ve got to save her. I can’t go on without her.”

Harry heard a sound. It was a plaintive, heart wrenching wail. He turned to its source. In a corner chair, her hands in her face, Cho Chang was sobbing uncontrollably.


***Author's note: I had a lot of fun writing this one.
Feedback, please. http://www.cosforums.com/showthread.php?t=110463


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  #16  
Old August 13th, 2007, 7:57 pm
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Re: Initiation, Realization and Reunion

Chapter 17 – Evil Most Primal

The scene at the Weasley apartment tore at Harry. A rising sense of dread and panic began to build up in the back of his head. Fighting it back, he pulled himself to his full height and walked to Ron. Barely holding himself together, Ron passed a rolled parchment to Harry.

“Ron, Ginny found out about a possible location for the servants of the Furies. It’s near Cape Wrath. We are going to scout it out. Dennis, Cho, Neville and Dean are with us. Ginny says we’ll be back by supper, so no tinkering in the kitchen. I love you more today, Hermione.”

An unrelenting tide of sympathy hit Harry square in the chest. While Ginny and he had been busy discovering the little nuances of being a couple in love, Ron and Hermione were leagues ahead of them. The blow to Ron was more than physical, more than emotional; it was as if Ron were a ship at sea, being blown by a gale, with no rudder, compass or sail. Harry placed a comforting hand on Ron’s shoulder. Pausing a moment, Harry turned and knelt in front of Cho.

“Cho?” Harry moved his hands to hers, pulling them from her face, trying to look her squarely in the eyes. “What happened, Cho? Where are they?”

Cho’s eyes darted from side to side, avoiding any type of contact with Harry’s eyes, as if looking into Harry’s eyes would cause to fall into a chasm of guilt and pain. “Cho!” Harry was more forceful, more in command. Her eyes locked on his, and he softened his tone. “Tell us what happened, what did you see?”

“I can’t, Harry. I can’t bear it. Dennis, he….” Cho was wracked by another bout of sobbing, “Dennis gave himself up for me, I can’t bear the screams, Harry, and I heard him scream.”

Ron’s expression became increasingly forlorn. He didn’t see any way for them to find out exactly where they were being held. They’d been lured into a trap, so retracing their steps was not a move that Ron considered realistic. Harry, on the other hand, had not spoken but was contemplative his eyes searching the room. He stood and walked to where his bag lay. Reaching inside, he rummaged around until he found the item he’d been looking for. Returning to Cho, he spoke in a soft, reassuring whisper, “That’s alright Cho, there’s a way you can help them all.”


Eyes closed, the rest of her senses were attuned to what was going on around her. She was hanging with her arms bound above her head, of that much she was sure. Her shoulders had become numb to the ache hours ago and she felt the hard, cold stone wall on her back. Her head was foggy, as if she were waking from a deep slumber. It was quiet, tomblike; the only sound was the occasional drip of moisture running its course down the wall. She had the distinct feeling that someone was watching her, she felt the eyes. They were cold, penetrating and they sent a shiver down her spine.

“Ah, you’re awake. Excellent! It was so good of you and your friends to join us, my dear.”

Ginny started at the voice. She knew that voice, she’d heard on numerous occasions, at many battlefields. It was distinct, contemptuous and it dripped with venom. Slowly she opened her eyes. At first, the introduction of light to her senses was momentarily blinding, she recoiled a little, trying to focus in on the source of the voice. Her vision began to clear and her eyes were drawn to a tall figure in black, standing a few feet in front of her. He was clad in the garb of a Deatheater, black robes covering him from head to toe. He had black gauntlets on that gave rendered his overall appearance confusing as there was no light to contrast the blackness of his eyes. His face was pale, with blue eyes, burning a bright fire that made them seem almost white. His hair was long, and white, a shock of white fire running down his back. The only thing missing since the last time she’d seen him was his mask, he wasn’t wearing a Deatheater’s mask.

“L-Lucious M-Malfoy…”

“I always knew you were a brilliant child! Quite right! A gold star for one of Dumbledore’s prize pupils. You will make this detention most interesting, Ms. Ginerva Weasley. You will make this evening, special!” Lucious Malfoy clapped his gloved hands together and strode along the edge of the wall. Ginny took a quick glance around and saw Hermione imprisoned in a like manner as she on the wall to her left. On her right, Dennis Creevey hung; he looked a little battered, but none the worse for wear. Peering further, Ginny could just make out the hands and head of Neville and Dean. There was no sign of Cho. Ginny allowed herself a small ounce of hope. Maybe Cho had gotten away. The thought caused her to sit up, just a little.

Malfoy offered her a bemused grin, “Is that hope I’m seeing? Are you wondering where Ms. Chang has gone off to?” Ginny’s stomach turned. “We let Ms. Chang get away. She, fortunately, is the last piece of the puzzle. The last bit for us to achieve our aim.”

“Us?” Ginny felt the dryness in her throat. Her question was the most she could muster for now.

“Of course, where are my manners?” Malfoy whirled around in a grand gesture of mock humility. “Gentlemen, I’d like to present to you, Harry Potter’s betrothed, Ms. Ginny Weasley.”

Out of her peripheral vision four figures appeared, dressed in similarly to Malfoy. He extended an arm to each one, “I believe you know Mr. Dolohov. Over hear is Mr. Jugson. On his right is the esteemed Mr. Nott. Lastly, we have Mr. Travers.” The Deatheaters offered Ginny exaggerated bows as each was introduced. Ginny heard a rumbling, heavy sound of walking coming from behind Malfoy.

“Oh yes, lest I forget, May I present, Groundhammer, leader of the band of goblins that are assembled for this venture. So sorry, now be a good goblin and run along.” The goblin sneered soundlessly at Malfoy, but eased his way back to a far wall.

Malfoy turned to face Ginny, his posture upright and arrogant. “What you see before you is the culmination of years of careful planning and calculation. While you were whiling away your days acting as Potter’s concubine or chasing a snitch, we were planning and acting.” This time he allowed himself a real smile. “Tonight, it all comes to fruition.”

“You will fail.” Hermione’s voice was strong, resounding in the air. It’s strength lifting Ginny’s spirits.

“Oh, dear me, I almost forgot. The muggle. I don’t know why Dumbledore put so much faith in a person of so undeserving of a witch’s power. Maybe he fancied you as a pet. That’s it! You were one of Dumbledore’s pets.”

Instead of a useless retort or a plea born of rage or fear, Hermione laughed, in fact, she let out an outright chuckle. Malfoy looked at her and raised an eyebrow.

“Look at you!” Hermione’s confidence was growing. “All this talk about your blood’s purity, and yet you find yourself consorting with so-called lesser beings, hiding in a cold, remote hovel worshiping a long-dead, never to return master. Even your new mistresses are no more. I almost pity how pathetic you’ve become, Malfoy.”

A look of loathing crossed Malfoy’s face, passing quickly and changing to one of calmness. “You think this is about the Dark Lord?” Malfoy began to pace in front of them, “You think this about some grand design to resurrect Voldemort or some other evil to rule your miserable world?”

Malfoy allowed himself a laugh, “Of course that’s what you would think. This,” he pointed to the air around him, “all of this is about the most primal evil, the most basic sin that man has ever known. It is the most primitive and the most powerful force that can destroy men.”

“You’re talking about Harry!” Neville’s voice resounded through the room. Malfoy turned to face Neville full on.

“Ah yes, my pawn.”

Neville shouted out, “I’m no one’s pawn!”

“My boy, you have all been my pawns. You were all so predictable, riding off to rescue your hero, Potter. Like you, he will be predictable, too. He’ll come flying in to save his friends, to save his damsel in distress, won’t he, my dear?”

Ginny’s pulse stopped cold, a look of fear crossing her visage, noticeable to everyone in view, including Malfoy.

“You see it, don’t you? I’m right about him, aren’t I? You see, the most primitive evil, the hoariest of magic is vengeance. Every one of us here craves but one, simple thing, to revenge ourselves on one Harry Potter.”

Hermione’s eyes widened in a glimpse of understanding, “You mean this is personal?”

“Another gold star for Dumbledore’s pet! Of course it’s personal. You are all so arrogant, so full of yourselves. You come riding in here hoping to dispel some grand cabal, fighting the good fight. Heroes to the cause! Think on this children, the most basic evil, the most prominent reason to kill isn’t for a cause, it’s always personal.”

Malfoy stood up and raised his arms, encompassing the dark gathering of goblins and wizards. “All of us have some grievance with Mr. Potter. The Deatheaters, well you know why the Deatheaters hate him. He deprived them of their rightful place in society, cavorting with half-bloods and muggles. He robbed them of their power, their destiny. He made them hunted outcasts. Imagine what the killing of the great Harry Potter will do for their self-esteem.”

Malfoy laughed at his joke, “And the goblins? Why, pray tell, would they ever want to harm a single little hair on Mr. Potter’s head? Anyone? How about you Mr. Longbottom?”

Neville’s head dropped slightly, “Gryffindor’s Sword.”

“Gryffindor’s Sword,” Malfoy repeated Neville with undisguised glee. “Not only did Mr. Potter enlist the aid of a goblin to break into Gringott’s, which did not sit well with them, I assure you, he gave his word that the payment for the help would be the Sword,” Malfoy cast a meaningful glance over at the goblins, “rightfully belonging to goblin-kind. He then went back on his word, and stole the Sword, again!”

“He did not! The Sorting Hat provided me the Sword! Harry didn’t steal it! If it was anyone, it was me!” Neville was beside himself with horror, thinking that he’d been, even remotely, responsible for Harry’s peril.

“How noble. Of course they blame Mr. Potter. It was his quest, was it not? It was his task. He, in his usual cowardice, just like now, sent his minions to perform the real hard work, but he is responsible.”

Ginny was stunned. How could they be so stupid? All this time, she and the others thought that they were protecting Harry, and all they’ve done was doom him. Malfoy was right, knowing Harry and his heart, knowing how much they’d grown together, and, with a pang of guilt, how much she’d forced him to make her the most important person in his life; she knew that Harry would come, that was what he was, it’s what he’d always been.

“What about you, Malfoy?” Hermione’s head was high, defiant. “What’s your reason? If I recall, Harry saved your son’s life, and you were far from the Dark Lord’s favorite, so by killing him, Harry saved your life as well.”

“Do you enjoy being a know-it-all? Do you revel in being a freak of nature?” Malfoy’s sneer cast a shadow over all of them. “He made my son a weakling, a pitiful whelp! He ruined the purity of our bloodline. Draco was supposed to be my heir, my legacy. He was supposed to be the power that defended all wizard-kind from the likes of you Ms. Granger and from the likes of Harry Potter.” Malfoy had lost his composure, his eyes blazed in pure hate and contempt. “Why do I hate Harry Potter? I hate him because he made me loathe and hate my son.”

An uncomfortable quiet descended upon the room. The other Deatheaters looked at each other curiously and then turned to leave. Malfoy regained his sense of control and turned to look at his prisoners, “There is no need to fear, we will not kill you, at least not yet. You will bear witness to the destruction of one Harry James Potter. His suffering shall be your punishment.” With that he started to walk away.

“Malfoy!” Hermione’s voice was commanding, assertive, so much so, Malfoy paused a step, but did not look back. “You are a pathetic shell of a man, and I was wrong, I don’t almost pity you, I do pity you.” Her tone was strident taking Malfoy by surprise.

She continued, “By the way, my name is Mrs. Hermione Weasley! Please do try to be accurate with your lectures.”

***Feedback, please. http://www.cosforums.com/showthread.php?t=110463


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  #17  
Old August 13th, 2007, 9:22 pm
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Re: Initiation, Realization and Reunion

Chapter 18 - Mobilization


Harry helped guide Cho to the Weasley’s bedroom. Gently he placed her on Ron and Hermione’s bed and bade her to rest, assuring her that all would end well. Returning to the living room, Harry collected his rucksack and made to leave. On his way out, he spotted Ron, still rooted to the same spot he’d been in when Harry arrived.

“Ron!” Harry grasped his friend by the shoulders. “Ron! We’ve got to go.” Ron eyes had been blank, but the implied notion of action shook him from his stupor.

“Go, Harry? We’re going to do something, then?”

“Of course, come on!” Harry grabbed Ron’s arm and apparated away from the room.

They appeared within moments at the main entrance of the Ministry of Magic. Beckoning Ron to follow, Harry dove into the crowd, walking purposefully, without hesitation.

“Harry, where are we going? Why are we here? We need to do something now!” Ron reached and grabbed Harry’s elbow, whipping him around.

Harry pulled closer to Ron’s face. The veins in Harry’s neck were visible and he had his teeth drawn tight, in obvious anger. “Do you want to see Hermione alive? Well do you?” Ron pulled back from the intensity of the question, “Well I want Ginny back and there’s only one way I know to do that. Now you can trust me and we’ll do this together, or you can stay behind, and I’ll do it myself. What’s it going to be Ron?”

“How can you say that, Harry? After all this time, after all we’ve been through, you know I trust you.”

“Then come on, we’re wasting time!” With that Harry continued his trek further into the Ministry. When they arrived at the Office of Aurors, Harry led Ron back towards his office. When they reached it, Harry shut the door and turned to the pensieve standing in the back corner. This was one of the only personal items that Harry had brought with him to his new office. This was the same pensieve that had called Albus Dumbledore’s office home until its owner’s death. Reaching into his bag, Harry pulled out the same item he’d used in Ron’s apartment when questioning Cho. It was a small glass vial, colored a deep blue.

“Hey, what’s that?” Ron’s curiosity briefly overcoming his grief.

“Cho was too distraught to be questioned. The memory was too raw for her, so I asked her to share it with me.” Harry removed the stopper from the vial and poured its contents into the pensieve. Harry found himself drifting as if floating along clouds. He turned to and fro, looking for the memory that Cho had shared. He found her image floating and moved towards it. Soon he found himself viewing a scene from Hogwarts.

Cho was sitting with her friend Marietta Edgecombe. Cho had obviously been sobbing, and her friend’s face was covered in acne, a result of a jinx she’d suffered from betraying Dumbledore’s Army. Cho looked up from her weeping and stood tall, “You know, the thing of it is, well, I was beginning to really fall in love with Harry.” He was surprised and shocked at the revelation. For the longest time, he’d thought that her interest in him was solely to be close the person who last saw Cedric Diggory alive. Harry dropped out of this memory, since it obviously wasn’t the one he was looking for.

He searched some more throughout the pantheon of images until he found one that seemed likely. He found himself at an inn, just as Ginny and Hermione were arriving with the rest. As they walked in, Harry noted a figure in the corner, watching the group pass. “That’s Nott!” A Deatheater! Was he the one behind all this, Harry wondered. In moments, Harry was riding along with the group as they careened through the countryside on their brooms. He could see Ginny leading the way. His heart raced a bit, admiring her fearlessness, her ability at guiding the group through the nooks and crannies of the terrain. He raced along with them, taking note of every feature, every detail. Soon he found himself on the ground, walking with them as they approached the Dark Citadel.

He heard their every word, especially when Ginny cautioned them to return. That would have been a wise precaution, and Harry was stunned at Neville’s insistence to proceed. He walked to the entrance, standing by Ginny. He wanted to get her perspective as much as possible. Harry reminded himself, that these were Cho’s memories, her side of the story. He noted that Cho’s eyes seemed to drift towards Dennis, more often than not. When they reached the doors, Harry braced himself for what he’d find. As he studied the room inside the doorway, he noticed that is was a very large and open space. On the far wall was a balcony, which ran the whole length of the building.

To Harry’s left and right, were large staircases mounted to the side walls that led up to the balcony. At the landing of each stairway and along the banister of the of the steps, Harry saw goblins, at least a score on each side. Looking further up the stairs, he noticed the figures of five men, obscured by the light they were casting down on Potter’s Army. Harry’s eyes drifted upward, taking in the massive dome atop the structure. As Harry focused on the dome, he noticed several wispy figures floating in the space of the dome. Dementers! Harry cringed; there were at least ten of the them, maybe more. When the booming voice of Ginny’s captor echoed in the memory, Harry knew immediately who it was. Malfoy!

Harry followed the memory to its conclusion. He was proud of Ginny’s courage, urging Dennis and Cho to get help. He understood Cho’s horror at Dennis’ decision to hold off their pursuit, especially considering the way Cho had been looking at him during the memory. When the memory ended, Harry stepped back from the pensieve and took a deep breath.

“Lucious Malfoy.”

“What’s that, Harry? Malfoy?” Ron turned an incredulous eye towards Harry.

“Malfoy’s holding them. He’s got them and he’s has a whole lot of help.” Harry paced about for a minute and then turned to Ron, “Wait here.”

“What do you mean, ‘wait here?’” Ron’s voice trembled. “Shouldn’t we get the others, I’ve got my galleon with me, I can have them here in a pinch.”

“Don’t! Ron, haven’t you learned anything yet?” Harry’s tone softened at Ron’s hurt look. “Ron, you said you trust me, so just wait here, don’t do anything.”

Harry left his office and flew down the corridor. When he reached Dawlish’s office, he wasn’t surprised to find both Lachlan and Miles sitting there as well. Dawlish turned rapidly, surprised by Harry’s sudden appearance.

“It’s Malfoy!” Harry’s hurried pace forced the words out of his mouth faster than he’d anticipated.

Miles turned to him with a questioning glance, “What? What do you mean?”

Harry took a deep breath and tried to slow down, “The man behind all this is Lucious Malfoy. He’s got goblins and dementers and maybe some of the other Deatheaters, too, but he’s the one. He’s got Ginny and Hermione!”

“Are you sure?” Dawlish looked at Harry, already convinced that Harry was sure. Harry told the men what his friends had found out during the course of their clandestine investigation. “Makes sense.” Was all Dawlish had to add.

“We’ve got to do something!” Harry was starting to let the panic overtake him. Lachlan reached a calming hand out to him, “Easy, lad. We will.”

“We don’t want to rush off, rashly, do we?” Miles assumed a fatherly tone with Harry. “That’s just what he expects. Malfoy is fighting based on what he knows.”

Harry thought on that for a bit, Malfoy hadn’t met the “new” Harry Potter. In the past, Harry would have run off, and just jumped into trouble, mostly alone. Now he was part of a bigger whole, both with Ginny, but in his life. He knew what he had to do, and he knew, in his heart, that this was the best approach.

“We need to get all the Aurors we can and go in a clustered apparition.” Dawlish was already sending out owls to collect his widely spread Aurors. “Do you think that you have enough of the memory studied to act as apex, Harry?”

“Yes, sir.” Was all Harry could manage.

Dawlish continued, “As soon as we mobilized our forces, we can go and get everyone out. We shouldn’t be more than a few hours.” Harry’s face fell. “Remember, son, this is about you, not them, they are the bait. We can wait a little before we spring their trap, we have time.”

“H-Harry?” Outside the office door, Ron stood shaking. Behind him stood George and Lee, both their faces ashen with shock.

Harry’s heart stopped, “Ron, what is it?” Ron extended his hand. Within it he held one of the fake galleons from the P.A. The Protean Charm had been used to inscribe a brief message.

“Potter. Be Here. ½ Hour. Or Ginny Dies. LM”

***Author's Note: Sorry guys, but most likely won't get the next one up until tomorrow. It's a doozy and I want to do it right.

***Feedback, please. http://www.cosforums.com/showthread.php?t=110463


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  #18  
Old August 14th, 2007, 3:57 pm
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USNAGator91  Male.gif USNAGator91 is offline
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Re: Initiation, Realization and Reunion

Chapter 19 – King Takes Queen

Lucious Malfoy was a predatory cat, his eyes constantly roving as he paced the length of the balcony in the Dark Citadel. He had his captives arrayed along the back wall of the platform, allowing him to watch them while at the same time; he could keep an eye on the entrance to the keep. It was from here, he was able to blind the members of P.A. during their capture and he hoped he’d have that advantage when Potter arrived.

Potter! The name alone made his blood boil. The Dark Lord had been a fool. While Voldemort pursued his own glory, he never really made Potter the priority he should have been until it was too late. Malfoy vowed to himself that he would not make the same mistake. He would not underestimate Potter as being lucky. Malfoy understood completely that if he regarded Potter as a fully accomplished wizard, then he would take the proper actions needed to finally kill him.

As he roved the balustrade, Malfoy avoided continued conversation with his prisoners, especially the annoying Granger woman, or Weasley, whatever her name may be. Leave it to the Weasleys to muddle their lineage with mudblood intermixing. His anxiety had started rising; he had anticipated that Potter would be here by now. Perhaps, he was giving Potter too much credit for being able to figure out where he needed to go. Unconsciously, he let out an audible snort, the only sign of his frustration.

“Things not going as planned?” Hermione’s comment dripped with sarcasm. “You think, Ginny that our captor has not quite figured out your Harry?”

Ginny smiled at her friend’s audacity. “Well, you know Harry, always refusing to participate in plans for his demise.”

“You both have such sharp senses of humor.” Malfoy was not about to let them see his nervousness. He moved towards a table that rest against the balcony railing. The table contained the group’s confiscated wands and other items. Malfoy danced his fingers across the items on the table. His hand stopped suddenly, a self-satisfied look on his face. He turned his face up towards the girls and smiled.

“I’ll be frank with you both; I’m quite surprised that Mr. Potter has not shown up. Perhaps he’s showing himself to be the coward he always has been.” Ginny’s blood began to boil at the comment. “Perhaps he’s trying to gather more of his friends together to do his bidding?” Malfoy brought his hand up, his hand holding an object up for them to see. It was one of the galleons that held the Protean Charm that allowed them to communicate.

“Hmmm, what have we here? Protean Charm? How quaint. I wonder if we can’t give Mr. Potter the proper incentive to be on time for his death.” He concentrated on the coin for a few minutes. “Well, that should do it.” He held the coin up for Ginny to see clearly. She gasped audibly. With a smile, he showed the coin to Hermione. “You know, if Mr. Potter doesn’t decide that his fiance’s life is worth the effort, perhaps Mr. Weasley will get the message and die in Mr. Potter’s place.” For the first time since their capture, Hermione began to feel a tinge of despair.


“We don’t have a choice, we have to move.” Harry was startled by Dawlish’s statement. “A half hour doesn’t give us much time, but I don’t see what else we can do. We’ll just go with who we have.”

Lachlan looked at Dawlish, “How many do we have?”

“There’s me and you, Harry, Cavendish, Milton, and Dawes.” Dawlish gave Harry a look of apology. “We’ll have to make this a rescue mission instead of a capture mission.” Cavendish was a tall woman, with tanned skin and a shy smile. Her eyes were an amber, which were accentuated by long, silky black hair. Milton and Dawes seemed to mirror images of each other. Both were light skinned, with white hair. Neither bore facial hair, but had age lines that did nothing to hide their seniority. Both had been working together for so long, that neither were distinguishable from each other, save for their eyes. Milton had black, coal-like eyes that seemed lifeless, until he was angered. Dawes’ eyes were a light blue, which seemed to reflect the sky at noon on a springtime afternoon.

“Well, could you use me?” Miles Jackson-Smythe sat comfortably in a side chair, the smoke from his pipe framing his face in a ring. “I’m still up to snuff, if you know what I mean, and I wouldn’t mind having a go at some Deatheaters.”

Dawlish gave Miles an appreciative nod. “That makes seven, enough for a spear.”

“What about us? We can help!” Ron spoke up, wanting desperately to have something to do with saving his wife.

“No.” Dawlish was adamant in his response. “Look, Mr. Weasley, I know your wife is part of this, and I know you want to be an Auror. How would it be, if you died on your first time out with us?”

Ron refused to be denied, “I don’t care about myself, but if you hadn’t noticed, we’re all good in a fight with Deatheaters, and we were the ones that figured out who was behind this whole thing.” Ron gave Dawlish one last desperate plea, “Mr. Dawlish, I’ve got to be there, we can help. Ten is better than seven, no matter how much training we’ve had.”

“He has a point, Dawlish.” Lachlan’s intercession surprised Dawlish. “They can free the hostages while we make short work of the baddies.”

“They’ll be your responsibility, Lachlan.” McCrory gave a nod in agreement. Dawlish looked at Ron, George and Lee in succession. “You can come as long as you do exactly what Mr. McCrory tells you.” They all gave there assent to his conditions. “You will only be there to free your friends. You go in, you release them and you get them out. Do not get in our way; we’ll have our hands full as it is.”

Dawlish pulled up his own Auror’s rucksack and looked around at everyone, and moved out the door. The rest followed in his wake. They moved down to the main hall of the Ministry, their presence of purpose and black robes causing the passers by to move out of their way. Once in the hall, Dawlish turned to his companions, “Okay, form the spear, and ready yourselves for a clustered apparition.”

In Auror terms, the best way to apparate a large group in the face of hostile opposition was to form a spear. The spear was an inverted vee-shaped formation where the lead apparating Auror, called the apex, would stand. In this case, Harry was at the tip of the spear, since he held the knowledge of where they were to appear. Dawlish assumed a position to the left and immediate rear of Harry, while Lachlan stood to Harry’s right and immediate rear. Miles stood to Dawlish’s immediate left and rear and Cavendish assumed the same position relative to Miles. The other two Aurors, Dawes and Milton assumed mirror image positions on the right hand side. Once fully formed, the seven Auror spear stood ready to present a front to an enemy that allowed the individual Aurors to fight together and mutually support each other. Dawlish told Ron, George and Lee to assume positions inside the spear, offering them maximum protection.

A clustered apparition was performed by having every Auror place a hand on the person in front of them in the formation. In this manner, Harry had both Dawlish and Lachlan placing a hand on his shoulders. Likewise, each Auror laid a hand on the shoulder of the one in front. Dawlish had George and Lee clasp onto Ron’s shoulders, who then reached and grabbed hold of Lachlan’s shoulder, to his right. Dawlish looked around at the band of ten heading as they prepared themselves.

“Right, wands out!” In unison, the seven Aurors drew their wands and placed them in their free hands. The three interlopers mimicked their actions. “Well then, ready Harry?” Harry nodded his head. He was surprised that he didn’t feel nervous or tense, in fact, he felt quite reassured. Perhaps the feeling of hands on his shoulders, like supports for the weary, made him feel stronger. He actually felt like he was receiving energy through the connectivity to his comrades. “Well, then, we better be at it, then. Let’s go!”

In the presence of all the people watching at the Ministry, the fist of Aurors, warriors all, disappeared in flash of fire and smoke.

Malfoy’s pacing had increased its speed. He was coiled, ready, his eyes constantly roving the doors below. When he’d charmed the galleon message, he’d turned over a small hourglass in front of Ginny and Hermione, leaving it suspended in the air, in their full view. The sands in the glass were roughly three quarters of the way depleted and his anticipation grew with every grain that dropped. Between circuits of the balcony, he would take time to taunt the hapless captives.

“Maybe he doesn’t love you as much as he loves his own pitiful life, eh?” The words were hurled like missiles and yet, Ginny was calm. This serenity surprised her, but she felt it reflected her true feelings for Harry, her absolute trust, no matter what. Part of her hoped upon hope that he wouldn’t show, that he would remain safe and free. However, in the deep recesses of her being, she knew he’d come, it was just a question of how. Her greatest fear was that he’d arrive as he was wont to do. He was the lone hero, bravely standing up to evil’s plot; that’s what he always did. That’s what he did countless times against Voldemort and that’s what he did against the Furies. Ginny Weasley’s greatest fear was that Harry would be Harry.

Outside the entrance, a loud crack and thunder broke the silence of the tension. Malfoy whirled towards the door, raising his hands in signal to his allies to ready themselves.

“The fool,” Malfoy’s mouth twisted into a sneer. “He didn’t even bother to hide his approach.” He turned and looked into Ginny’s eyes, his own blazing a fire of death and triumph, “He was so desperate to save his sweet Ginny. Enjoy watching your beloved’s death.”

In that instant, the two entryway doors exploded in a shower of light, smoke and debris, showering the first floor denizens with dust and shrapnel. The haze hovered at the entrance, obscuring the vision of those within. Malfoy had unconsciously crouched down at the destruction of the doors. Rising, he peered into the white smoke that permeated the entrance. As his vision started to recover, Malfoy noticed a tall figure coming to stark clarity in the middle of the fog. The tendrils of smoke seemed to drop off the man’s robes as if unable to cling to the absolute purity of his cause. The figure was walking through the smoke, his robes, dark black, marked with a sheen as if a magical aura covered him. His gait was slow, deliberate, the heels of his boots the only sound in the room as he walked across the cluttered pavestones. Malfoy smiled, a genuinely gleeful smile, the fool had come alone.

Ginny’s heart jumped when the doors evaporated in a cacophony of sound and force. As she watched his approach through the mist, her pulse ran in a sing song of love and affection. She saw his face and especially those eyes. His eyes glowed with a fire she’d not seen before. They roamed the hall, taking in every detail. Then they stopped and locked with hers. Ginny saw the love and the relief that reached out and warmed her entire body in that one look. Abruptly, another thought that stunned her to the core. At her side, Hermione had dipped her head.

“He’s come alone.” Hermione couldn’t hide the disappointment in her voice.

Time had stood still. Harry’s walk through the cloud of smoke wasn’t more than a few grains through the hourglass. To Lucious Malfoy, the time was interminable. In a matter of seconds his glee turned to indecision and doubt. As his prey walked further into the room, more figures began to appear on either side of Harry, proceeding through the mist. Malfoy stood incredulous at the temerity of Potter. He had not come alone.

“Kill them! Kill them all!” Malfoy’s scream was hysterical, uncontrolled as the surprise of the Auror spear wrestled with the reality in his mind.

Hearing the words, Dawlish offered a relaxed smile. “Apparently we’re uninvited guests. I’ll take the left, Lachlan take the right. Harry, the dementers if you please.”

The Aurors on either side of Harry sprinted from their positions, attacking the goblins that had positioned themselves on the landings of both flanking stairways. Ron, George and Lee found themselves following the right hand group, keeping pace behind Lachlan. Harry gazed at the domed ceiling. There were at least twenty dementers swirling about in circles making a slow descent towards the combatants. If they reached the embattled wizards, the fight would be as good as finished. Harry raised his wand high above his head.

“Expecto patronum!”

Ginny’s eyes were momentarily blinded by the brilliance of Harry’s spell. As the effect wore off, the image became more and more clear. The aura of white light and haze that were the hallmarks of a Patronus Charm were especially bolder, clearer than any other she’d seen, ever. The spell seemed to burst from Harry’s wand in a symphony of light that momentarily stunned everyone in the room to inactivity. As the Patronus manifested itself into its form, Ginny prepared herself for the comfortable, reassuring form of the stag. This time, as Harry’s Patronus formed, it was not a stag. The figure that burst through into the air was that of a large steed. It’s head kicked back, it’s nostrils flared; and it literally exploded up in the air as if running across a large meadow. Ginny’s heart burst, right there.

When Harry was teaching the members of Dumbledore’s Army the proper method of conjuring a Patronus Charm, he’d told them to lock on their happiest memory. In Ginny’s case, that had been of her first time she’d seen Harry, those many years ago on Platform 9 ¾. Ginny’s Patronus had come in the shape of a horse that danced around the Room of Requirement, much to the delight of Harry, as she remembered. Now, here, she saw, Harry’s Patronus had shaped itself into a steed, a reflection of his bond with her. Hope rose within Ginny’s body, and it followed with a certainty that they would be together soon.

Harry was slightly taken aback by the force and the form of his Patronus. In the past, his happy memory had been of his parents, of some imagined scene of their being together with him in the time before their deaths. It wasn’t a memory that he’d had complete assurance that had occurred, but the power of its love had always helped Harry to produce a powerful Patronus. It’s form was of a stag, like his father’s. Harry had not used his Patronus Charm since that day in the cavern with the Furies. The Patronus had been defeated, so Harry had decided to find another memory to build on. Harry now was possessed of real memories that reflected his passage through life. These were happy memories, raw and embodied with love and passion. The memory he chose was that of Ginny, sleeping, that first morning she’d stayed with him on their return to Grimmauld Place. He’d remembered her rosy hair, not a tress out of place, laying on her pillow providing a ruby frame to her face. Her eyelids were closed, the lashes caressing the top of her cheeks which were carefully highlighted by freckles and curves. Her lips were round, full and had the barest hint of a smile. The sunlight of the dawn highlighted her exquisite beauty, taking his breath away. This was the memory Harry locked in on. This was the image that conjured a Patronus that was unparalleled in force and beauty.

Harry noticed the form of his Patronus and smiled. A stallion was a good form, as he recalled Ginny’s Patronus she’d created back at Hogwarts. A small, detached part of his brain remembered how Tonk’s Patronus had changed to that of a werewolf, a reflection of her unbreakable love for Remus. Even more, Harry remembered how Snape’s Patronus had taken the form of a doe, the same as Harry’s mother, in reflection of Snape’s unrequited love for Lily. Even his parents, James and Lily, had forms in their charms that complemented each other and demonstrated the bond between them in the guises of a stag and doe. Harry smiled inwardly, he and Ginny were near complete in their unity.

The ethereal stallion launched itself upward towards the domed ceiling casting dementers out of its path. When it reached the top of the dome, it trapped most of the dementers against the surface of the ceiling. The effect of the prolonged assault with no where to escape caused hideous tears in the fabric of the dementers’ being. Their existence began to erode, bits and pieces of their bodies and clothing falling away. After a moment, the dome itself shattered upward, blowing the remaining dementers out through its top. Littering the floor, were the remains of several of the foul creatures.

Malfoy stared at the dementers’ remains on the floor. No one, ever, had been able to destroy a dementer. They were the personification of fear, doubt and hate. They were the amalgam of all the negative feelings that pervaded human-kind. Yet, Potter had been able to use a weapon that relied on happiness and love to utterly destroy the hate. A inkling of a doubt began to draw itself into Malfoy’s consciousness. It was the doubt caused by the potential for failure, which could lead to despair. Malfoy refused to surrender to the doubt. He urged his followers on.

When Harry’s Patronus had dissipated, the silence of the pause was deafening. The dazed occupants of the Citadel stood agape at what they’d just seen. Malfoy’s urging knocked the entire room into action. Harry moved to a piece of wrecked stone, using it as cover. He exchanged spells with the Deatheaters on the landing above him. Taking a brief glance around he saw Dawlish on his left, with Miles and Cavendish, in a furious exchange of spells with the goblins in that area. Several of the goblins were prostrate on the ground, both hit by spells from the Aurors and unintentional spells from the Deatheaters above. On Harry’s right, more goblins were down, as Ron, George and Lee added the weight of their wands to the assault by Lachlan, Milton and Dawes. In that instant, Harry saw a flash of a spell from the balcony hit Dawes; his body crumpled to the floor. Harry turned back towards Dawlish, who locked eyes.

“We’ve got to get to the higher ground!” Harry pointed up towards the balcony.

Dawlish nodded his head, “We’ll hold here, you go with Lachlan!” Harry gave Dawlish a grin and moved from his hiding place.

Ginny watched Harry dart from his protective cover. He raced from rock to rock, using the debris as a shield from the incessant attacks from the Deatheaters above. His movements were fluid, graceful, without wasted effort or hesitation. When he reached the side of the stairway, Harry leapt up and placed a hand on the railing, vaulting himself over banister and onto the stairs, behind the embattled goblins and the Aurors. Ginny marveled at Harry’s actions, he showed no fear, no doubt. There was only a cool, calm confidence in his every move, his every step.

Harry turned to face the goblins from his higher position. “Protego!” The shield charm knocked flat all of the goblins facing Lachlan and his group. Just then, a spell from the balcony shattered the stone railing near him, showering him with rock and debris, momentarily stopping his momentum. Ginny’s heart stopped an instant, as she looked for signs of Harry. Within seconds she could see his figure, turning to move up the stairs, his head up, his robes flapping a billowing trail behind him, marking his progress upwards. Leaving his friends to paralyze the helpless goblins, Harry turned to make his way up the stairs, to the balcony. At the top of the landing, Harry saw Nott and Travers racing towards him wands raised.

“Impedimenta!” Harry’s blocking charm brushed the two Deatheaters back from the top of the stairs, allowing Harry, now joined by Lachlan, the ability to reach the balcony. Lachlan turned to pick up the fight with Nott and Travers. He fell into a round of spell, counterspell as Harry raced towards the middle of the balcony, where Malfoy raged.

Malfoy could not believe the turn of events. In his mind, this was not happening. The hourglass that he’d used to mark the time until Ginny Weasley’s death was almost finished, and now he stood with the dementers all but destroyed, over half of his repugnant goblins overcome, and his fellow Deatheaters engaged in a losing battle. Seven Aurors! Potter! He had cheated! Potter was supposed to be the solitary hero. He was not supposed to do this! He wasn’t a real Auror! How had this happened? He turned in time to see Nott and Travers flung back by Harry’s Impedimenta spell.

“Protego!” Lucious sent a shield charm which knocked Harry back onto the floor. Lucious turned without a look back and ran towards a door, hidden in the wall between where Hermione and Ginny hung.

“Stupefy!” Harry launched his charm from his knees; the charm whizzed above Malfoy’s head as the former tormenter ducked into the hidden passageway.

Joined by Milton and the rest, Lachlan’s stalemate with Nott and Travers quickly reversed its fortunes and within seconds both Deatheaters were bound and controlled.

Harry turned to find Dawlish’s party had overcome its goblins and was trading spells with Dolohov and Jugson on the far landing.

“Petrificus Totalus!” Harry’s spell hit both of the remaining Deatheaters square on, ending the battle in the chamber.

Harry turned towards Ginny and saw the waves of relief in her eyes. “Alohomora!” The bindings holding her arms released their grasp and she fell the short way into his arms. The kiss they shared was one that he’d remember for eternity. It was soft but urgent, reflecting the pent of fear of loss he’d been restraining in order to effect her release. Her response was of love and understanding, recognizing that he was a different man, a better man, free from doubt and second guessing. He was resolute, confident in their life together. Releasing from their embrace, Harry eyed Ginny carefully. She smiled and tilted her head. He returned her smile and tore off, through the hidden door after Malfoy.

Ginny grinned to herself. Apparently, she thought to herself, they’d begun to master the silent communication that lovers have. A shout broke her reverie. “Hermione!” Ron came running up to where his wife was held. Quickly releasing her, he caught her and held her tight to his chest, taking time to lift his head and shower her with kisses about her face and lips. Ginny watched the pair, basking in the joy of their reunion, melding the whole that came so close to being torn asunder. Ron seemed older, Ginny thought, more upright, confident. It was not unlike a change in someone else she knew. She looked towards the doorway where Harry had disappeared.

Dawlish and Lachlan met in the middle of the balcony and shook hands. “That was, interesting.” Lachlan snickered at Dawlish’s penchant for understatement. Dawlish surveyed the carnage around him, “What’s our situation?”

Lachlan turned towards the foot of the stairs, “Dawes is hurt, but not badly. We have about twenty goblins tied up and two of our Deatheater friends in custody. How about you?”

“Miles took a nasty fall.” Lachlan gave him a concerned look. “He’s fine, Cavendish is with him. We’ve got the same number of goblins secured over there and we nipped Jugson and Dolohov.”

“Dolohov? They’ve been missing his company in Azkeban.” Lachlan mused a bit. “That Weasley boy, Ron. He did quite well today. Did you say he wanted to be an Auror?”

“Harry mentioned it to me. He was vouching for him.” Dawlish reflected on Harry’s actions today. Harry had done well, in fact, he’d done better than any Auror Dawlish had ever seen. Dawlish thought that Harry may very well be the best he’d ever worked with.

“He’s a good lad, Ron, I mean.” Lachlan watched as Ron and Hermione continued their reunion.

Dawlish looked over at his comrade, “You fancy having an apprentice?”

“Why not? Can’t stay retired forever. Just end up in a pub somewhere for some child-Auror to find me.” Lachlan laughed and looked around. “Speaking of which, where is Harry?”

Harry ran down a narrow passage that led from the Citadel’s main room. Soon he could hear the crashing of the waves, as he approached an opening at the end of the passage. Harry sped out of the opening on a wide open area, overlooking the foreboding cliffs, the surf pounding in his ears. Turning quickly, Harry raised his wand.

“Expelliarmus!” Malfoy had been hiding near the doorway. His spell had sent Harry’s wand flying back into the passage.

“Incarcerous!” Ropes appeared from the ether, binding Harry tight, not allowing any movement. Malfoy moved the point of his wand to Harry’s neck.

“You think you’ve won? Don’t you Potter! You think you’ve beaten me! Now look at you. Rushing out here, in your arrogance! I’m going to kill you, Potter. I’m going to kill you here and now, but I want you to die knowing one thing. I’m going to kill her, too, Potter. I’m going to take away the one person you can’t afford to lose. I’m going to make her suffer and I wanted you to take that with you to your grave.”

Malfoy stepped back freeing his wand from Harry’s neck. His eyes blazed with fury and hate. His mouth was curled into a smile, as the culmination of all his vengeance, all his rage was fixed on the tip of his wand and on the words forming in his mouth.

“Avada Keda-“

“Expilliarmus!” Malfoy’s wand flew over the edge of the landing, flying off into the surf. Turning to face the threat, Malfoy found his extremities paralyzed, no part of his body responding to his commands. A dark figure moved from the shadows of the landing. Garbed in black, the man was tall, pale with a shock of platinum blonde hair that flowed in the wind. His eyes were blue, but haunted. His cheeks were gaunt, ashen, as if the man had a weight on his soul that refused to be moved. His wand pointed at Malfoy.

“Draco.” Draco Malfoy turned a brief eye towards Harry, barely acknowledging his presence. He turned his entire focus on his father.

Lucious recovered from his shock, “Draco? You fool! I was about to finish Potter, what are you doing?”

“Be still, father.” Draco hurled the name like a curse, his lips twisted. “You haven’t earned the right to kill him. You should have spent all of your energy, all of your passion,” Draco’s eyes dropped to the ground, his voice becoming a whisper, “all of your love on teaching me.”

“Love?” Lucious’ jeering laughter rang through the air. “Do you see how you’ve failed me, failed our familiy, boy? Love, you simpering fool? What is love compared to power? What is love compared to fear? You had it in your hands, and you failed, coward. You are not my son!”

His father’s words hit Draco like blows. A light flashed in Draco’s eyes and he raised his wand towards his father’s face. A look of hate and fear permeating his being, the killing curse forming on his lips. As quick as it appeared, a look of doubt that bordered on pity passed over Draco’s face. His wand dropped to his side, a small tear forming in the corner of his eye.

“Coward!” Lucious was livid, he’d raised a son that couldn’t even revenge a slight. “You don’t even have the nerve to kill me, you’re pathetic. You don’t know how to wield real power, and you never will.” Draco’s face dropped, his shoulder’s drooped down as if the weight on him had increased tenfold.

“He’s wielding the greatest power in the world.” Ginny stepped from the passage, Harry’s wand in her hand. She turned to Lucious, “Anyone can kill the helpless. Real power is the ability to grant life, when you have the choice.”

Draco looked up momentarily, his eyes finding Ginny. She smiled at him and looked back to Lucious, “You are pathetic, Lucious. Your whole life has been consumed by power and revenge. You’ve lost sight of the power of love and life. What good is power without someone to share it with? What good is death, if no one remembers you? You worried so much about Voldemort and power and Harry, you lost your most precious legacy, your son’s love.”

Lucious looked away from Ginny, his face taut, his voice silent. “I’m sorry for you Lucious, I’m sorry because you will never have what me and Harry have. I pity you and I feel good about Draco. He can still find it, he can still be a better man.” Her gaze had shifted to Draco, trying to impart her words to him, looking for some sign that what she was saying had meaning.

Draco’s shoulders straightened. He took a deep breath and look of confidence came over him. He cast one last look towards Lucious. Father and son, both filled with contempt for each other, bade each other farewell. Draco turned to look at Ginny and Harry, his bonds having been released by Ginny.

“We’re even now, Potter. You saved my life, now I saved yours. Pray we do not meet again.” Draco Malfoy did not look at his father when he left. He simply turned and walked towards the other end of the cliff and disappeared into the darkness.

Harry clung to Ginny, his mind racing over the events of the past few minutes. They held each other close, their hearts beating together in time. Voices calling their names echoed up to them from the passage. Harry kissed Ginny sweetly and guided her shoulders away from the evil that was Lucious Malfoy.

“Let’s go home.” She smiled up at him, making his heart race anew, and allowed him to lead her up the passage.




***Author's Note: I know, I know, it sounds like an ending, and it can be, however, I think there are some items to tie up and some avenues to pursue, if you want me to. Let me know in the feedback. I've got to go ice my fingers.

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My Fanfics:
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Last edited by USNAGator91; August 14th, 2007 at 4:11 pm.
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Old August 15th, 2007, 12:54 pm
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Re: Initiation, Realization and Reunion

Chapter 20 – New Beginnings

Harry and Ginny followed Ron and Hermione into the Weasley’s apartment. The hour was late and the two couples were exhausted on their feet. The emotional strain of the past few days had begun to show on them all, but more so, on Ron. He’d been quiet since freeing Hermione from her bonds. The near loss of his wife had reinitiated a train of thought within his head that was leading him down a path that he knew, would be for the best. The past weeks had taught him that he needed to be more serious about what he was going to be in the future. Ron wanted to be more than a jokester. His gaze drifted to Hermione, of all of them, she was the steadiest, the most consistent. She was the rock that he and Harry, and now Ginny had all relied on in a crisis. She was decisive, true and strong. Over the recent weeks, it had been she that had brought the P.A. together, she was the one Ginny relied on for matters of the heart; she had been the one with the most faith in everyone. Ron’s mind went back to the decision causing the storm in his brain and a path resolved itself. He would be an Auror, he would be provide strength to complement Hermione, so that, as a family no one could ever tear them apart. Now, his brain, exhausted from coming to that conclusion, how should he tell Hermione and avoid a slow death?

Ron and Hermione half sat, half fell into one of the large easy chairs in the living room. Ginny, for her part, sat in a chair across from them. She beckoned to Harry to join her, but he held a hand, giving her a look, asking her to wait. While his friends watched him, Harry went in the Weasley’s bedroom and saw Cho, lying asleep, her body curled into a ball. Her shoulders were shaking, as if she was still crying, but no sound came to Harry’s ears. Reaching down, Harry touched her shoulder, whispering to her.

“Cho?” There was no response. “Cho, Dennis is all right. Did you hear me? Dennis is just fine, he’s back.”

Her movement stopped, her body tensed. She turned to look at Harry, her eyes read and swollen from her hours of grief and heartache. Her face asked the question, her voice had not quite found the energy to ask.

“He’s at Dean’s house. He’s not injured, just a little bruised. He asked about you; if you had made it back. If you hurry, you might…”

Harry never finished his sentence. She leapt up and ran to through the door. Harry heard the front door slam and he returned to the living room. Harry had a wry smile as he saw the stunned looks on his friends. Ginny, in particular, had a playful, questioning expression on her face. As he joined her on the chair, he told them about Cho. “She has it bad for Dennis. I think it might be mutual, but she nearly lost it when she thought he sacrificed himself for her.”

“I understand her feelings.” Ginny’s retort came without any real bite. She was far too exhausted, far to content to engage in any banter. Harry felt her struggle with consciousness.

“Well, I think we should be off, don’t you Gin?” Harry stood and offered a hand to Ginny. Gratefully she let him pull her from the chair. Harry turned to Ron, “Thanks, Ron. For everything, I don’t know what I’d done without you.” He turned to Ginny, “I don’t know what I’d do without her.”

Hermione sat smiling in her chair, watching her friends. She was excited that they finally figured it out. She turned to Ron, looking him over, noticing that he was preoccupied with something. His lips were turned in a manner that he only had when pondering things of great consequence. She’d have to ask him about it soon. Presently, though, she had to get something out in the open.

“Harry, what we saw, during the battle, do you think we should talk about it?” She sat up, her tone was quiet, helpful.

Harry looked at her, confused, “Which part? The forty or so goblins, the Deatheaters, or the love of my life strung up like a Christmas ham?”

“I think she’s talking about you, darling.” It was the first time she’d used that word with him. He’d have to figure out if he liked it or not. Right now, it sounded sweet.

“Oh, well, what about it, Hermione? What about my actions do you think is sinister?”

“It’s not that at all, it’s just, well, you displayed some pretty extraordinary powers tonight. You moved so fast, and your Patronus, well no one has ever done that to a dementer before.” Hermione looked at him steadfastly, “I do love the change in your Patronus, that was sweet .”

Harry blushed, then turned to Hermione, “I’ve been trying tell all of you, everyone, that I’m fine. Something happened when I faced the Furies. Call it an initiation, call it maturity, but I feel better than I’ve ever felt. You can thank Ginny for the Patronus, her love, her support, is more than enough power to sustain us, just ask Lucious Malfoy.”

Ginny barely stifled a yawn, “We’ll talk tomorrow.” Ginny led Harry by the hand. She gave a wave to Ron and Hermione and walked towards the door. Hermione saw her give Harry a little wink and coquettish smile and soon they were gone, heading home. Hermione let out a little laugh at their fun. She turned to Ron, who was still sitting, quiet, and his mind racing a mile a minute. Hermione planted a small kiss on his cheek.

“What is it?” The kiss broke Ron out of his stupor. He grinned, sheepishly at her.

“It’s nothing really.” The look on his wife’s face did not accept that answer. He wilted under her gaze. “Hermione, it’s just that, well, I want to be an Auror.” There, it was out, Ron held his breath expecting an outburst.

Hermione looked at him for a moment and then smiled, “I already know that, silly. I’ve always known that. It suits you, it was just a matter of time until you figured it out for yourself.”

“You knew? I mean, how, er, how long?” Hermione thought Ron was cute when he stammered.

“I’m your wife, I knew it before you did.” She rose and gave him an inviting smile, her eyes dancing in the light. “Now, come to bed.”

Ron Weasley did not need a second invitation.

As parties go, this one had all the hallmarks of becoming legendary. The room was packed with revelers who were bent on regaling all who would listen, the story of the Battle of Cape Wrath. None were more animated, or more exaggerated than the tales of bravado and heroics being spouted by George Weasley and Lee Jordan. Both men would try to outdo the other in expressing what each other’s reactions had been to the fierce encounter that included goblins, Deatheaters and dementers. Thrown into the mix were their enhancements of their story telling with various samples of their products. Here and there a casted spell was luminated with a fire ball here or a caterwaul there. None of their respective audiences were disappointed in their display, especially given the firewhiskey that was being freely poured.

Harry looked around the room. All the members of Potter’s Army were there. When they’d arrived, all had given Harry contrite looks of apology, but his smile and reassurance let them know that he harbored no lasting disaffection, there would be time enough later to remind them that they were all better working together, than excluding any one member. Harry was curious about how close his guardians had watched him. His gaze turned to Ginny, who was in the corner of the room talking to the Parvati Patil, and his cheeks reddened a bit. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Lachlan McCrory and Dawlish speaking together in a close huddle. Miles Jackson-Smythe had made a brief appearance to the party, but was called away by the Ministry. Milton was at St. Mungo’s, keeping the injured Dawes company until the latter was able to leave. Cavendish was in the corner, casting a haughty look as Dean Thomas and Ernie MacMillan vied for her attention. Harry smiled and walked over where Lachlan and Dawlish were standing.

“Mr. Dawlish, sir. Thanks for helping me get her back, sir.” Dawlish accepted Harry’s handshake and rolled is eyes at Lachlan.

“Harry, we’ve actually known each other for a long time, please call me John.” Harry mouth dropped open. In all these years, he’d had no idea that Dawlish had any other name, except Dawlish. Lachlan let out a huge guffaw!

“Dawlish, no one in the Office has ever called you John, even the ones that like you, why are you putting this on Harry?”

Dawlish gave his friend a hard stare which turned into a wistful thought, “Based on what I’ve seen from Harry over the past few weeks, it’s more than likely that I’ll be working for him.”

Harry stood, perplexed by Dawlish’s candor. He decided to change the subject. “Oh, er, sorry, um, John. Anyway, about Ron, I was wondering if you’d given his acceptance some thought.” Dawlish gave Lachlan a nod.

Lachlan spoke, “Dawlish and I talked to the Minister and the other senior Aurors. He’s to become and Auror. He’ll be assigned to me, I’ll train him!” Harry beamed, Lachlan was an inspired choice. “Tell him to see me in the Office on Monday.” Lachlan gave Harry a conspiratorial wink, “Tell him to be ready to go to work.” Harry bid adieu to the pair and moved off to find Ron.

Ron and Hermione were still wrapped together at a table across the room. It was as if they’d just discovered that they were in love recently. They were trading soft kisses, and smiling and laughing at each other. Harry was pretty sure that Ron had told Hermione about his intentions, this must be the make up portion after the fight. As he approached their table, Harry carefully scanned Ron’s face and body for signs of injury that Hermione may have inflicted during their “conversation.” Ron looked no worse for wear.

“Hey Ron, do you have a minute?” Harry decided that discretion was the better part of valor.

“It’s okay, Harry, I told her.” Harry gave Ron a skeptical look, unsure if they were talking about the same thing.

“Men!” Hermione snorted with an air of false contempt. “Yes, Harry. Ron told me about wanting to be an Auror. You can stop trying to protect him. He held his own quite well, last night.” She gave her husband a quick wink. Ron nearly choked on his drink and turned to Harry, begging him to speak up.

Harry laughed heartily, “Well, anyway, since you survived last night, and I don’t mean the Dark Citadel, I’ve been asked to have you report to the Office on Monday morning. Lachlan McCrory will be your trainer. He said, ‘be ready to go to work’, if I recall correctly.”

“That’s splendid, Harry. Thanks a bunch!” Ron gave Hermione a huge hug. Ginny had walked up beside Harry and slipped her arms around his waist. She raised a questioning eye to him.

“Ron’s been accepted into Auror training, he starts on Monday.”

“Brilliant, Ron!” Ginny gave a look to Hermione, “How long before he broke down and told you?”

“What? What do you mean?” Ron looked back and forth between Hermione and his sister. “Are you saying you knew it too?” Ginny gave a mischievous grin.

“Ron, a woman always knows what her man is thinking.” She leaned over and gave Harry a kiss on his cheek. “And a woman always shares what her man is thinking with her best friend.”

Both Ron and Harry looked at each other and at their respective mates, mouths agape. Their amazement was broken by a furor by the front door.

“Look, it’s mum and dad!” Ginny pulled Harry towards her parents. Molly and Arthur Weasley entered the room and took in the party in full swing. Spying Ginny and Harry, they moved over to meet them.

“We got your invitation.” Molly Weasley looked around, registering the faces of the guests. “So what’s this all about anyway?”

Arthur Weasley turned to face the couple, “Yes, quite right, did we miss something?”

Harry and Ginny looked at each other, and burst into laughter.

***Author's Note: After careful thought and consideration, I've decided to go ahead and continue the story, basically to reload and keep going. As I said earlier, this story has grown beyond my original six chapter intent, so what the heck, let's keep going. I've got the story arcs ready and I'll keep going as long as someone reads it. Please remember, it took 18 chapters to give you the battle at the Dark Citadel. I like the rollercoaster effect. I like to write both action and romance, and I'll throw in some humor as well.

As always, I gauge your desire by your feedback, so strap in, and we'll see if you like this little parallel earth, of the JKR universe that I'm trying to string together.

http://www.cosforums.com/showthread.php?t=110463


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Last edited by USNAGator91; August 15th, 2007 at 3:50 pm. Reason: Dawlish's name is John, per JKR
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Old August 15th, 2007, 9:36 pm
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The Godfather
 
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Re: Initiation, Realization and Reunion

Chapter 21 – Changes of Plan

The next morning, Harry and Ginny slept in, enjoying the comfort of not having to be anywhere, and especially, not having to worry about assassins around the every corner. They lay together, enjoying each other’s touch and presence. Finally, they rose, and went down for breakfast.

Kreacher had left them a wide array of choices for their meal. The house-elf had already returned to Hogwarts, after telling Harry that he’d only need to call and the house-elf would return. Harry enjoyed the time alone, truly alone with Ginny.

Harry stared at her for a moment, taking in her beauty, drinking in the sheer joy of being with her. She gave him a playful, pixie-like smile, “What?”

“Nothing, really.” Harry smiled back at her. “So, the season is about to start up again. When do you think you’ll be heading back to the Harpies?”

A small cloud crossed Ginny’s face as if Harry had raised a subject; she was not quite ready to deal with. “I have a few more weeks, but there is an exhibition match coming up this weekend.”

“That’s great, Ginny! Who’re you playing? Is it in Holyhead? We could make a weekend of it.” Harry seemed genuinely enthusiastic about the prospect of watching Ginny play.

Ginny’s response was more subdued, “No, it’s against Puddlemere United. It looks like Oliver Wood will be retaining his job at Keeper this year.” Harry was ecstatic at that announcement. During his first year at Hogwarts, Oliver Wood had been the Captain of the Gryffindor House Team. Oliver had made the unprecedented decision to name Harry to the team, and Harry had flourished from there. When Oliver had graduated, Harry was delighted that he’d been accepted to join Puddlemere United, but for the first few years, Oliver was carried as a reserve keeper. Last year, Oliver had finally broken into the starting role and took part in the epic title match against Ginny’s Harpies which lasted almost five days. The match finally came down to a bit of derring-do by Ginny that involved several barrel rolls to avoid a bludger and a grass-level, inverted pass to catch the snitch. Harry laughed to himself at the memory; Ginny received the “Dangerous” Dai Llewellyn Commemorative Medal, awarded for players who take immense risks that produce a winning or entertaining result.

Harry had been lost in thought, his excitement building about the idea of watching a good Quidditch match, that he’d almost missed the cloud over Ginny’s response. “Is there something the matter? What’s wrong?”

“I don’t know, Harry.” She hesitated, unsure of how to proceed. “That last tour, before everything that’s happened recently, took a lot out of me.”

“Of course it did, Ginny, it’s been a long season, and you were exhausted.” Harry reminded her of the Harpies win the Great Britain sectionals, the first in their history.

Ginny wondered if every woman involved with a man was similarly handicapped by their consistent inability to see things that were less than obvious. “Harry, I’m not talking about the sport, I’m talking about, oh never mind!” She sat back in her seat, in a huff.

“Ginny, really, I want to know, what’s bothering you?” Harry was sincerely puzzled. He was wracking his brain, covering every conversation, every observation over the past few weeks. What had he missed? What clue had he overlooked? Was this a bad thing? Harry Potter was a good, possibly great Auror, but he had no way to figure out the mysteries that were the minds of women.

Ginny watched his face and saw the genuine confusion that reigned there. Her expression softened, because she also saw concern and love in his face as well. He loved her, of that she had no doubt, but maybe she’d need to be a little more expressive as to what was on her mind. She chuckled, remembering his comment about “working on their communication”. Saving the world does put a lot of strain on a relationship. She smiled at him and let him off the hook, just this once.

“It’s not that at all. I’ve enjoyed playing Quidditich, but I can’t help but think that it’s a child’s game. I’ve been playing for three years, and I want more. I want to be married; I want to have children with you Harry.” He smiled at that comment. “Most of all, I want to be an adult.”

Harry had not expected this. He’d always thought that he would be asking too much of her by wanting more of her time. Yet, here she was, expressing the same feelings he’d had. “Is there something else you’d like to do, besides have children with me, that is?” He smiled inanely at her.

She laughed, “I’ve been chatting to the senior Quidditch correspondent at the Daily Prophet, he may be retiring, and there may be an opening for me there.”

“A reporter! At the Daily Prophet!” This turn was certainly unexpected; he’d had no idea that this had been a desire of Ginny’s. Given his history with reporters from the Daily Prophet, Harry was sure he’d blocked out that possibility subconsciously. He made a mental note to remind himself to have a few more conversations with his wife to be in the future. He’d been handed quite a few surprises, and they were scarcely done with breakfast.

“Oh Harry,” Ginny cast a mocking grin at him, “Don’t say it that way, it’s not like you’ll be seeing a juicy expose about the great Harry Potter, it’s Quidditch.”

Harry returned her smile, holding his hands up in surrender, “Well, if there were an expose, you’d certainly have the goods.” She threw a breakfast roll at his head.

When they’d recovered from their laughter, he leaned into her ear, “So, when do you think you’d want to start? Being a reporter, I mean.”

She looked at him, “This year, I would think. I’ll talk to Gwenog after this match and offer to stay on until they find my replacement. I hear that Hogwarts has some really talented players graduating this month, so, that shouldn’t be a problem.”

Harry grew serious, “Ginny, I’m obviously delighted. If you are sure that this what you want, I’ll support you as much as I can. I just want you to be happy.”

“Harry, I’m happiest with you. I want to have a life together, not traipsing around the globe, missing you. I don’t want to dream about missing opportunity, not when my real dreams have come true.” She leaned over and kissed him, hard. “We don’t have anything planned today, do we?”

Harry drew back and looked into her eyes and smiled, “No, not a thing.”

************************************************** ********************************

The Holyhead Harpies played an exciting brand of Quidditch. They were aggressive and innovative led by their long-time captain Gwenog Jones. Ginny had fit in with their style of play from the beginning. She was fearless and innovative, often performing feats heretofore unseen on the pitch, as marked by her capture of the snitch against Puddlemere United last season. Harry loved watching her play and he reveled in being a part of the crowd. Frankly, Ginny was a much more talented Seeker, than Harry had ever been. He marveled at her tenacity, which seemed to match her personality. Today, the weather was exceptionally dismal. Rain and swirling winds, combined with cooler temperatures, assured the fans that the match would be a low scoring affair. Harry noticed Oliver making his way to his goal and smiled as his friend gave a cheerful wave to the crowd.

The conditions didn’t seem to matter to Ginny. From the start, she soared and swooped, spotting the snitch, almost straight away. She dove in pursuit, and increased her speed to mind-boggling velocities. She veered suddenly to avoid an approaching bludger sent into her path by one of United’s beaters. Harry turned his head as the crowd roared from a brilliant stop by Oliver on a shot taken by Gwenog Jones. The opposing Seeker had no problem seeing Ginny’s movements. In fact, he took a direct, full speed path towards her, and by association, the snitch. The weather and her own determination hid the opposing Seeker from her view. As Ginny reached for the snitch, she felt a massive blow that rendered her senseless. Wary of a Wronski maneuver, where an opposing Seeker would attempt to lure their counterpart into an uncontrolled dive by chasing an imaginary snitch, the United’s Seeker had seriously misjudged his dive and crashed solidly into Ginny. Both were knocked from their brooms, and both were at a perilous height.

From Harry’s viewpoint, the collision was not readily apparent. The collective gasp of the crowd caused him to turn his head. In a flash, he saw the two falling competitors, and by that time, it was too late for him to react. Harry stared in horror, helpless to do anything. He could not feel himself breathing. All he was aware of was the rampant, incessant beating of his heart, which seemed to be wedged firmly in his throat.

“Ginny…”

Harry leapt from the stands and onto the playing area. He ran at full speed, crying out her name as loud as he could, “Ginny!” He came upon her crumpled form and he tenderly placed his hands where he could support her head. “Ginny! Wake up, please wake up!” He searched frantically for any sign of life. This was not happening, he thought, they’d already planned out their lives. The worst that could happen to them, had already happened.

“Ginny, are you okay? Can you hear me?” The obvious note of worry in his voice rousted her from daze. She looked up into his eyes and smiled. Not the teasing smile of prankster, but the knowing smile of one who understands the panic that comes with the thought of losing someone dear. Harry had put her through similar situations, a countless number of times. A small part of her smiled at the fact that the roles were reversed, and he could finally understand, in a little way, the anxiety he’d put her through.

“I’m perfectly fine, Harry, just a little dazed, that’s all. You should know better, it’s Quidditch, not chess.”

Harry felt the worry leave his body, he exhaled heavily and gazed down at his fiancé. In that few moments between the fear that he had lost her and the knowledge that she would be fine, Harry felt like he had aged years. He wondered, taking in Ginny’s face, if this was what she was going through whenever he was putting his own life in danger. How horrible it must have been to put her through the doubt, the fear of their future ending. Now, their future together seemed so far away. In that moment, he didn’t want to wait, in that moment, he knew that he couldn’t wait. He wanted their future to start as soon as possible.

“What?” asked Ginny, knowing that the look on his face indicated that he had reached some sort of important epiphany. Harry was always amazed, always thrilled about how well she knew him. Their communication was getting much better. “I don’t want to wait anymore. I don’t want to even wait until next fall. Let’s get married now, Ginny, no more waiting, let’s just do it.”

“Well, if all it took was for me to take a little fall, I would have let some idiot hit me earlier!” The twinkle in her eyes displayed the love and amusement she felt. “Let’s get married next month, Harry. I promised my mother we would have a decent ceremony. One month, please and I’m yours forever.”

“One month, I can wait one month.” One month isn’t all that long, he supposed. He helped her up, to the delightful roar of the crowd. He saw Oliver Wood making his way towards them. Harry raised a hand in greeting and noticed that Oliver had slapped his own hand to his head.

“Hey, Harry.” He turned towards her. Ginny smiled conspiratorially and lowered her arm, allowing her sleeve to slacken as something fell out of it. An object fell from her sleeve and into her hand. Firmly ensconced in her fingers was the snitch! The crowd’s reaction was positively deafening.

***Author's Note: Please forgive the similarity to another fan fic chapter I wrote, but this was pertinent to the story. Imagine how much I'm going to have to expand on the wedding chapter.

***Feedback please: http://www.cosforums.com/showthread.php?t=110463


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Thanks to cybobbie for the awesome sig pic!
Thanks to the best fanclub in the world!

My Fanfics:
A History of Magic: Part II - Beyond the Epilogue
Teddy Lupin and the Legacy of the Marauders ; A History of Magic: The Harry Potter Era (on hiatus); You Are Cordially Invited... (First Attempt)
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