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A History of Magic: The Harry Potter Era



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  #41  
Old August 27th, 2007, 4:15 am
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Re: A History of Magic: The Harry Potter Era

Chapter 42 – Unto the Breach, Dear Friends

Order was slowly recapturing the corridor of the Office of Aurors. The training arena, being the largest room on the level, was pressed into duty as a temporary morgue. When Harry walked out into the passageway, he spied a beleaguered Dawlish briefing the Minister of Magic, Kingsley Shacklebolt. Dawlish turned to face Harry, eyeing the sword and scabbard belted to his waist.

“It’s a long story, John, but suffice to say, we still don’t have a moment to lose. This has all centered around Morgana being able to revive her son, Mordred. Now, we think she has the means to do just that.” Harry gave the Minister and Dawlish an overview of the quest from the past few days. Dawlish shared a worried look with the Kingsley.

“We’re at rock bottom, Minister. Most of the Aurors and the Hit Teams are either too injured to function, or dead. Whoever we have left will probably be needed to mount some sort of defense of the Ministry, if Morgana is making a move towards us.” Dawlish’s hand was moving apace through his scalp, his look of worry falling on the covered figure of Gawain Robards. Kingsley’s mind was working at a rapid pace. He looked at Harry.

“What do you propose, Harry? Dawlish is right, we don’t have the bodies for a full assault, even if we knew where to go.” Kingsley’s eyes were tired, his expression resolute but without a tremendous amount of hope. Knowing Kingsley Shacklebolt, the Ministry would resist with him right in the middle of the action, but he held no real notion of the outcome.

“Well sir, if it’s all the same to you, we have a means to carry the fight to Morgana.” Harry pointed to the barely noticed, but completely out of place oxcart in the center of the passageway. “We have one last chance. Merlin gave Ron one of the Irish Hallows, so I believe we take that chance.” The group around Harry nodded in agreement.

“Harry, Ron and Sarah do need some immediate medical attention, Minister.” Ginny spoke up, not wanting the obviously serious injuries to go untreated. “But Harry’s right, this is a chance we can’t pass up. Hermione and I are volunteering. It’s better than sitting home waiting for something to happen.”

“I’ll go with them as well.” Cavendish had made her way to the group. Her amber eyes shone with fire against her light complexion. The loss of the past night fraying the edges of her eyes, building worry lines along her face. Her jaw was set. “John, given a choice to fight here or there, I prefer to carry the fight to the enemy.” She fixed Dawlish with a level gaze, her eyes brooking no argument.

Dawlish looked at Kingsley, a small nod passed from the Minister of Magic. Dawlish gave a shake of his head and raised a hand for one of the passing healers, signaling him to give Harry, Ron and Sarah a quick once over. He then turned to face Cavendish, his expression lightening, his eyes softening. “You watch yourself out there, Elizabeth, you still owe me dinner.” Without warning, he leaned towards her and touched his lips to hers, the kiss fierce filled with need and passion, his hand grasping the back of her head and her arms crossing around his neck. After a moment he backed away and turned to Harry, waving goodbye as he returned to his duties.

The stunned looks on the friends caused Dawlish to shrug his shoulders before he was off. Their gazes turned toward Cavendish, who had a silly smile on her face, her hand on her lips, barely believing the sentiment. Harry tried to hide a small smile while Ginny let out an outright giggle. Sarah blushed with Cavendish, the unexpected display having relieved tension and fear. Hermione was holding Ron’s shoulder as a healer was working on repairing his injuries, but Hermione also had a knowing smile that grew as she noticed the perplexed look on Ron’s face.

Momentarily forgetting the pain of his recovery, Ron decided to ask the most obvious question, he thought, that was resting on the tip of everyone’s tongue.

He turned to Cavendish and emphatically asked, “Your name is Elizabeth?”

Hermione made sure to find a relatively uninjured part of his body to elbow.


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Last edited by USNAGator91; August 27th, 2007 at 3:47 pm. Reason: First edit sucked.
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Old August 27th, 2007, 3:49 pm
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Re: A History of Magic: The Harry Potter Era

Chapter 43 – Remembrances of Avalon

The cacophony of sound that met Morgana as she strode to the middle of her chamber was deafening. Bestial growls mingled with hoots and whistles as she arrayed the collected might of her followers. Hobgoblins were rubbing shoulders with wyverns. The roars offering the evil enchantress their fealty as she strode towards the pool. Kneeling in front of the pool, Merwyn the Malicious awaited her arrival, a smile of triumph and self-satisfaction on his face. As she neared him, she called for him to rise and present his prize.

“My lady, the Bone of Ullr.” He extended both arms, the bone stretched between both his hands, offering it for her inspection. Her smile broadened, a look of pure avarice crossing her face. She reached with one hand and grasped the bone in her fingers.

“Not to worry, my boy, soon you will be free, and so will I.” She walked to the space where her son’s body was held frozen in time. She laid a tender caress on the surface of his capsule, almost like a lover’s touch. She began to study the Bone in her hands. She turned it over and over, mesmerized by the runes that dotted its surface, trying to discern their meaning, trying to find where one charm started and another ended.


Apparition and disapparition had always been characterized by a loud thunder-like crash and a display of smoke. Even transportation through the Floo network had always been accompanied by some sort of theatrical show of light and sound. Scholars who looked into the spells behind the phenomenon had theorized that the sudden appearance of matter into a spot that heretofore had been empty required the loud displacement of the air in order to allow the body being transported to have room to appear. In the case of the Chariot of Arianrod, the wizards who had created this unique form of egress had intentionally wanted it to be flashy. Its original owner, Morgan the Wealthy was convinced that his entrances on the “Chariot” needed to announce his status to those so fortunate to witness the event. The area in Morgana’s chamber began to rumble, a flicker of flame and smoke rising from a point in the room. A small beam of light hovered in the middle of the smoke, slowly expanding, growing, rays emanating in a variety of colors forming a bubble within which the rickety frame of the Chariot of Arianrod began to form. The cart was translucent and slowly gelled into a solid form. Within the box cart area, the six figures of its occupants coalesced into view and with an explosion of light and sound, the Chariot of Arianrod made its arrival known.

They jumped from the oxcart in pairs, Ginny with Harry, Ron with Hermione, and Sarah with Cavendish. Harry took in their surroundings with a careful eye, scanning the entire room while somehow keeping a wary watch on Ginny. Deep in his heart, he knew she was more than capable, but could not restrain the need to protect her, to watch over her as the entered danger’s grip. As their eyes became accustomed to the light in the chamber, they noticed that their entrance had not gone unnoticed. Their ears rang with the roars of a pair of wyverns that circled the massive room, as they waited a command from their mistress. The floor was covered with scores of hobgoblins, who looked like a twisted combination of a house-elf and goblin that carried a perpetual look of pain, as if the joining had left them tortured.

“Ah, Harry Potter! It was so kind of you to join us!” Morgana looked up from her scrutiny of the Bone of Ullr. “You will be witness to a truly magical event, the rebirth of my son, and our escape from this prison.”

Harry drew back, the horde of hobgoblins and the circling dragonets closing in on the small group. Ron looked over at his friend, unsure as to why Harry had not sprung to action. Harry was rooted to his spot, his eyes taking in Morgana, but never really straying from Ginny. It dawned at Ron that perhaps Harry was more worried about Ginny than about Morgana, and that hesitation could prove fatal. Ron stepped forward and aimed his wand a small statue that sat near the edge of Morgana’s reflecting pool.

“Expulso!” The statue shattered into pieces, raining debris all around and bursting the bubble of calm that had descended since their arrival. “Harry, I’m going to try and cast the Stone of Fal at Mordred!”

The eruption of sound and smoke snapped Harry out of his stupor. His focus on Ginny had almost made him forget the reason they were there. He shook his head and allowed his instinct take rein.

“We’ve got to help Ron! Follow him!” Harry’s voice was more commanding, automatic. For the moment, he was able to segregate his feelings for Ginny’s safety and his need to act as an Auror in the field.

A wave of hobgoblins blocked Ron and Hermione’s path to Mordred. They heaved spells towards the pair, which mainly seemed to consist of a form of impedimenta charm, but instead of erecting barriers, the ground beneath the couple began to liquefy into thick syrup. Ron and Hermione found their pace slowing, unable to keep up any momentum through the morass.

“Duro!” Hermione fired a counter spell at Ron’s feet causing the ground to harden somewhat, enough for her husband to pull himself out and continue his trek towards Mordred. Ron’s pace quickened and he fumbled for a moment pulling the stone from his pocket. Finally, he grasped the Stone of Fal and heaved it towards the still form nearby. The eyes of the wizards traced the path of the stone; Ron’s aim had been true. It reached its apogee and began its descent towards the rock holding the son of Morgana. At the very last instant before contact, a thin, bony hand reached out and caught the stone. Ron turned to the source of the hand, and found himself staring at the face of Merwyn the Malicious.

Ron knew who the dark wizard was immediately. An avid collector of Chocolate Frog wizard cards, Ron had been slightly ecstatic at procuring one of the relatively rare Merwyn the Malicious cards. Based on the card, Ron knew that Merwyn was relatively obscure, known for creating nasty jinxes and curses. Ron also knew that Merwyn was reputed to have died over a thousand years ago, so his appearance in this room was surprising, to say the least.

“Petrificus Totalus!” Ron’s surprise was complete as Merwyn’s paralyzing spell struck him.

“Ron!” Hermione struggled to find traction. She raised her wand and aimed at the skinny wizard in tattered black robes that had stopped her husband. Her stunning spell missed Morgana’s toady as he whirled and apparated in that exact instant. Sarah and Cavendish had finally caught up to the struggling Hermione and helped extract her from the bog. With catlike grace, Hermione moved towards her husband's still figure and aimed her wand to free him.

“Aguamenti!” Merwyn had disapparated nearby and a large plume of water washed over the three women.

“Duro!” The evil wizard cackled as he froze the streams of water around them, effectively locking them in place, rendering Sarah, Hermione and Cavendish helpless. Within a few seconds the band of intrepid friends had been reduced by two thirds and they were no where near stopping Morgana.

Ginny Potter had been engaged in a long range exchange of spells with the hobgoblins that were closing in on her and her husband. She turned and saw Harry hovering near her, his movements constrained to the area behind her, but he was not making any real moves towards Mordred or their friends. “Harry, you’ve got to stop Morgana! The stone failed. We have to try something else!”

Harry turned towards his wife, held by a reluctance to leave her there alone. She smiled at him, not a coy smile, but one of resolve and dedication. One of the things that had endeared her to him was her fierce independence. The look she was giving Harry reminded him that she was more than capable and that he need not worry. He smiled back at her and drew the sword at his side. With a nod, he apparated away in a cloud of smoke and thunder. Ginny chuckled and began to cast shield charms and stunning spells to clear a path through the hobgoblins to her friends. The fury of her assault caused the creatures to fall back, unable to sustain any real resistance to the woman with the fierce eyes and fiery mane. Every once in a while, Merwyn would make an appearance, trying to engage a curse here or there to knock Ginny off her path, but she was ready, a counter spell or shield charm up to deflect his attempts. She knew, however, that it was only a matter of time before she was overwhelmed; the weight of numbers simply was too great.

Harry disapparated on the dais where Mordred’s body stood. As he approached the shell, he saw Morgana on her knees, rapidly chanting from the runes etched on the Bone. A small beacon of light was shining from the center of Mordred’s encapsulated body. Harry raised White-Hilt to strike one last, desperate blow at the block of stone and gem that housed Mordred’s body. The blade of the sword struck the crystalline coffin and rebounded, making nary a scratch on its surface. Morgana paused from her incantations and hit Harry with a quick shield charm that sent him flying and White-Hilt dropping to the ground. With flit of her eye, one of the massive wyverns landed, dropping one of its talon-laced rear legs directly on Harry’s chest, its claws piercing Harry’s shoulder, literally pinning him to the floor. He made an effort to find Ginny, to say he was sorry for failing. His eyes found hers, she’d finally succumbed to the numbers and was bound tight in a sea of hobgoblins.

“You are too late, Potter. It was a gallant try, but in the end, you can not stop me.” Morgana finished the series of incantations. The crystalline casing holding Mordred’s body began to brighten, heat radiating from its surface. Fractures began to form along its surface and the cracks became larger and larger. Soon, like an ice floe in a tropical current, the material of his coffin melted from his body, revealing the figure of an unbelievably handsome man. The man drew a deep breath, opening his eyes for the first time in millennia. Despite the weight of the creature on his chest, Harry moaned, drawing Ginny’s attention to him. She smiled, briefly, recognizing that Harry lived, but her gaze was unavoidably drawn to the man waking on the platform near her husband. Mordred took in his surrounding, completely comfortable with the chaos and tumult that reigned. He moved his arms, flexing his hands to test their dexterity. His eyes surveyed the room, settling on the smiling figure of Morgana as she approached him. He smiled the same twisted caricature of a smile that she had on her own face.

Opening his mouth he called to her, “Hello mother, it’s so nice to see you.” Harry’s heart dropped, a dull ache crashing through his body. Morgana’s laugh seemed soulless. She moved towards her son and laid a loving hand on his shoulder. His smile mirrored hers, less loving, more evil. He tested his legs and moved with his mother to the center of the room.

“Look, my son, we are free to leave this prison and you are free to take your rightful place as ruler of the land.” Her gaze fixed on Harry. “This is the champion of this world; of this time. I offer his life to you, so that, you may show them that resisting you would be pointless.”

Mordred smiled and walked towards where Harry was pinned to the floor. He stopped and knelt down to pick up Harry’s discarded sword. He tested its heft and found it suitable. Ginny’s intake of breath was audible, painful. Her eyes widened; she was unable to move, unable to act. Mordred raised White-Hilt over his head, its blade aimed for Harry’s neck.

“That will be quite enough, Mordred!” The voice was commanding yet lyrical. Its timber was youthful and energetic with a hint of age and wisdom. Its resonance with Mordred froze the evil knight in mid strike. Lowering his sword, Mordred made a slow turn towards the source of the call.

Morgana was less composed, the years of imprisonment having worn on her, but the voice was that, truly, of the only man who held the power to stop her.

“Arthur!”

Standing near the reflecting pool was a man. He was tall, almost larger than life. On his chest was a silver breast plate, adorned with the image of dragon as it gleamed with an unearthly aura. He had various pieces of armor on his legs and arms, also cast in silver, shimmering brightly as if with their own luminescence. His he had on stark white pantaloons and blouse and a broad white cape flowed from its attachment to his armor. His face was young, but bordered by eyes that had experienced life and death and the eternity in between. His eyes were bright blue pools, deep enough to get lost in, but brilliant enough to make one turn away. He was smiling, his mouth framed by a goatee similar to Merlin’s and the smile was soft; almost as if he was part of a joke and the punch line was just simmering below the surface.

“Hello, Morgana. It has been a very long time.” His smile deepened, the joke, it seemed, was on Morgana herself; she just hadn’t gotten it yet.

The dark witch was apoplectic, “How is this possible? You can not be here. I do not believe it!”

This time Arthur Pendragon allowed himself a deep-throated laugh. “I’d like to say that you posed such a threat that Britain’s need for Arthur’s return was necessary. I’d like to say that your powers were so vast, that only I, Arthur, could stop you.” He looked down at Harry, and winked.

“But that would be giving you too much credit. The real reason I am here is your own stupidity and ignorance.” She bristled at the words. “You see, Morgana, the spell you tried to use from the Bone of Ullr was a universal spell. It not only affected your son, but me as well. When you freed Mordred, you freed me. You had no idea what you were doing, did you?”

Her face turned a dark shade of purple. The insinuation of her incompetence burned into her soul. Arthur’s grin had not left him. He turned towards the pool, “Nimue!”

The waters of the pool began to bubble, frothing into a tall waterspout that cascaded to the ceiling. The Lady of the Lake emerged from her fountain, and stood next to her king. He held out his hand and she smiled a joyful smile. She drew Excalibur from behind her and handed it hilt first to its rightful owner, Arthur.

He held the sword limply in his hand, feeling its familiar weight, sweeping it from side to side. Finally he held it high in the air. A bright light exploded from its tip, the song of angels seemed to echo through the chamber. The creatures serving Morgana simply disappeared, including Merwyn leaving only the dark sorceress and her son standing alone in the center of the room. Arthur turned to them and smiled.

“Whatever shall we do with you two?” Arthur seemed to weigh his options. “My return has been premature, to say the least. You, Morgana, are almost more trouble than you are worth. Perhaps there is a certain amount of justice to be had here.” The king glanced at Nimue and she bowed. Arthur nodded once more and pointed Excalibur at Morgana and Mordred.

Mordred raised his arms defensively, and realized, too late, that the crystals had begun reforming around his body. He barely managed a scream before the glass-like substance encased his body, imprisoning him once more. Morgana’s screams were not restricted and she sobbed, not for her son, but for herself, unable to resolve the turn of events.

“What will you do to me?” She was defiant, her beauty transcending her evil.

Arthur smiled, “I could just leave you as before, imprisoned and bitter. Maybe, however, I have not been completely fair to you, Morgana. You crave freedom from Avalon? So be it, you are free.”

Morgana, Morgan Le Fay, Morgause; she’d been known by many names, and now she could not believe her fortune. Her nemesis, her foe, her brother; had granted her freedom in some convoluted display of justice. The word justice dripped from her mind, like a curse. Her elation soon turned to discomfort, then to horror. Her brain began to numb, and her body compressed and changed itself. She stared at the reflection pool and the image of a carrion crow shone back at her. She tried to muster the concentration to change back, and found that she could not. She was stuck in her animagus form.

“Morgana, this is the price of your freedom. You will remain in that form, forever. However, you are free to go, wherever you chose.” This time Arthur didn’t laugh, the gravity of Morgana’s punishment weighing on him.

The six friends had been freed from their respective bindings. The disappearance of Morgana’s minions had released their spells. Harry ran his hands over the places where the wyvern’s talons had dug into his flesh, but no sign of injury could be found. He turned to King Arthur and knelt.

“Oh do get up, would you?” Arthur put a hand down and helped lift Harry up. “I would like the return of my scabbard, though, if you don’t mind.” Harry peered down at leather case on his belt. He unbuckled it and handed it to Arthur, who lost no time in sheathing the mighty sword and belting it to his own waist. Arthur turned to the beauty beside him.

“Nimue. Thank you for safekeeping Excalibur for me. I have but one more duty for you.” Her head dipped lower, almost in resignation. Arthur smiled. “Would you be so kind as to return the items these brave people borrowed from Merlin?” She looked up, unsure of what Arthur was saying. He clarified the point a little more. “I think you’ll find that Morgana’s spell was truly universal. If I’m not mistaken, our wizard friend is alive and well in his cave, but waits for his true love to release him. I was wondering if you could return these items, since you were heading that direction.”

Her eyes trembled with tears as her green tresses bounced at anticipation. She reached up and boldly gave Arthur a kiss on the cheek. She raised her hand and summoned the Stone of Fal and White-Hilt to her hands. She started walking towards the Chariot, her conveyance back to her true love. As she passed Harry, she stopped, her beauty enhanced by the smile that radiated from her face.

“You’ve been granted a great gift, Nimue. Love is eternal, and a second chance at a life with love is the greatest gift. Be well.” Harry raised his hand to her. She leaned over and kissed Harry’s cheek and whispered in his ear. With that, she practically flew to the oxcart and climbed on. The last view of her was the vision of love and happiness emblazoned on her cheeks as she whispered a simple destination, “Merlin.”

Harry and his friends turned to King Arthur. His smile had not left his face and he turned to them.

“It is not my time. I am not needed. You are the champion of your era, and you must be ready to face whatever trials come.” He looked at Harry, imparting a sense of duty. “I will remain here on Avalon, until I am needed. Do not look for me, for this isle is enchanted, and will disappear in time and history until a great need summons us.”

“You have all done well. I am proud of my heirs, but stay vigilant against the darkness. It will always be there, lurking, waiting for the opportunity to strike.” He smiled once more, and raised Excalibur over his head. “Farewell, my friends. We will meet again, someday.”

The room, the island and King Arthur disappeared in a flash. The six friends found themselves in the middle of a circle of ancient rectangular stones.

“Stonehenge!” Hermione’s voice broke their amazed silence. “He sent us to Stonehenge!” Ron moved to his wife and embraced her with a tight hug. Harry put an arm around Ginny, the glow of the encounter still visible on his face.

“I can’t believe what we just saw.” Sarah’s eyes were wide, the awe of the moment shaking her.

Harry looked up at the sky and saw a shooting star blaze a trail across the darkening night. “I believe it.” He looked back down at Ginny and kissed her tenderly. He then looked around at his companions.

“Let’s go home.”

***Author's Note: I apologize for the substandard first effort. I rewrote this scene with more of the emphasis I wanted. I also took out the cliffie and went for the resolution. I hope this is better.

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My Fanfics:
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Teddy Lupin and the Legacy of the Marauders ; A History of Magic: The Harry Potter Era (on hiatus); You Are Cordially Invited... (First Attempt)

Last edited by USNAGator91; August 27th, 2007 at 3:59 pm.
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Old August 27th, 2007, 10:05 pm
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Re: A History of Magic: The Harry Potter Era

Chapter 44 – Autumn Breezes

The summer closed with a whimper. Cool autumn breezes filtered through the land like a fresh breath, driving away the fear and grief of the past few months. Since their wedding, Harry and Ginny had been involved in the events surrounding Morgana’s glorified escape attempt, and any attempt at normalcy or routine had been fleeting, at best. The cooling temperatures helped to level the fears and anxiety that permeated the Ministry of Magic. The losses to the Cerberus attack turned out to be lighter than first feared. Over the months since the assault, the injured had returned to a modicum of health. The dead were mourned, and the granite memorial wall in the passageway in the Office of Aurors had been appropriately decorated with the names and images of the seven Aurors that had been lost. Harry walked passed the wall, reflecting on the dead. He saw Masterson, who was ambushed trying to protect Luna Lovegood. Beside him were faces of Dawes and Milton, forever bound together in memory as they were friends in life. Harry continued to reflect on the images, his eyes passing through and finally resting on Gawain Robards. Gawain had been the head of the Office of Aurors for years, and in fact had recommended Harry for acceptance to that august group. Robards had fallen, facing the enemy, but his loss was felt to this day.

“Harry!” The voice knocked him out his reflection. Turning, Harry saw the approaching figure of John Dawlish, newly designated chief of the Office of Aurors. “There you are, I thought you were heading to the training arena?”

“I’m heading there later; Lachlan wanted to run Ron through some advanced scenarios, so I asked if Sarah could join them. Lachlan is much more devious than I am.” Ron and Sarah were flying through training. Their experience over the summer had allowed Dawlish to take the unprecedented step of passing them through their Year Two M.A.G.E.’s. The added bonus was that both were now taking accelerated training to take their third and final M.A.G.E. by Christmastime, allowing them to become full Aurors more rapidly than anyone else had, in the history of the office. Part of the reason was the holes left by the losses, but both Ron and Sarah had distinguished themselves in the field and practical experience trumped school lessons any time.

“Lachlan is devious.” Dawlish let out a chuckle. “When he was my tutor, he liked to set my wand on fire with a flagrante charm, forcing me to either cast a spell or drop the wand. Speaking of which, how have you been coming along with your trials at wandless magic?” Since his return, Harry had been working with Miles Jackson-Smythe on refining his skills at casting spells without a wand.

“It’s been inconsistent. I do pretty well with defensive spells and charms. It’s the offensive spells I seem to have problems with. We’re working on it.” Harry laughed, the level of weakness of his stunning spells versus his shield spells when he cast them without his wand was over a factor of ten. “How’s Cavendish?”

Dawlish’s cheeks reddened; a completely different look for the older wizard. His budding romance with the mysterious amber-eyed Auror had caught the Office by surprise, but was appreciated, nonetheless. Since his elevation to head the Office, Dawlish had been reticent to discuss the matter, feeling that he didn’t want to show favoritism. Harry’s view was entirely different, liking the fact that Dawlish was exhibiting signs of life outside the office. He let his friend off the hook, “Did you need something?”

“No, I’m heading up to the Minister’s office.” Dawlish gave a wave and made for the bank of lifts at the end of the hall. Harry waved him off and continued his stride down the hall. ‘

With the carnage that had occurred inside the Ministry and in the Office of Aurors, Dawlish had instituted a massive overhaul of their facilities. While the training arena was kept, the Aurors were now housed in one large room lined with office cubicles. Each Auror was assigned a cubicle with senior Aurors assigned spaces towards the front of the row. Dawlish made sure that seniority in the ranks had nothing to do with time in service. His senior Aurors were now Lachlan McCrory, Savage, Proudfoot and Harry. Each had office space at the head of a row of cubicles. The Aurors who sat in the adjacent office spaces in their row were members of the senior Aurors’ team. Each team consisted of eight Aurors, including their leader and the Ministry had mandated that the Auror population would not exceed thirty members, unless required by crisis. Dawlish was aiming for a leaner, more agile organization. The unspoken offshoot of this method, was that the Aurors became the elite of the elite. The Azkeban guardians were assigned to the Ministry directly and the Hit Team was still being reestablished. For now, the Office of Aurors was the primary law enforcement mechanism for the Ministry and Harry was a key part of it.

He walked to his desk and sat for a moment, ignoring the piles of paperwork and memos that were stacked upon it. A flutter of wings announced the arrival of his owl, Helios, a great golden owl that had been a gift to him from Ginny when he turned eighteen. A note hung loosely from his leg so Harry rose up and pulled it from its binding. Absently, he rubbed the owl’s proud head as he perused the message, Ginny’s unmistakable scrawl marking its words.

“Harry, I’ve decided to drop in and pick you up at work. If you turn around, you’ll see me standing just behind you. Love Ginny.”

His hand dropped to his side and he turned around and there she was, bright as day. She was wearing jeans and a sweater, her normal wear for work as she spent the bulk of her time at
Quidditch pitches, in her role as the chief Quidditch correspondent for the Daily Prophet. She was leaning against a wall, her arms crossed. Her brown eyes sparkled, matching the full lips of her smile. He soaked in her beauty, her auburn locks framed around her face, making her stand out. Her expression was sly, coquettish, the hint of mischief in her face. He felt a pulse of electricity cross the space between them and hit him between the eyes and stop his heart. He honestly could say that she’d never seemed more beautiful and that he loved more, right now, then ever before. Heedless of where he was and what he was doing, he walked over and grabbed her up off her feet and swung her around in a circle, delighted at her presence. Before he allowed reality to set in, he kissed her and the electricity he’d been feeling turned into a full power surge. The power of her presence, the softness of her lips, the smell of her hair, her total essence caused his knees to buckle and he found himself trying to lean against a nearby wall, overcome with Ginny being, well, Ginny.

“What are you doing here?” His question wasn’t alarmed; in fact, he absolutely radiated thorough elation at her visit.

“Work is fine; I just finished my story for deadline. I was thinking,” She winked at him, turning her head down slightly, “Well, it’s just that I missed you and I had to find you straight away.” He gave her a wry look, still not really piecing together where she was going.

“Have you seen the weather outside, Harry?” The turn of the conversation was odd, but seeing that he hadn’t been outside, really outside, not just seeing the weather patterns produced on the Ministry’s walls in almost a week, he shook his head no. “It’s beautiful out. The trees are turning colors, the wind is brisk, and it’s one of my favorite times of the year. I love walking outside in the fall almost more than any other time, but do you know what I enjoy more than walking in the fall?”

Harry couldn’t stop himself; he was, after all, a man. “I’ve got a few guesses.” His tone was decidedly more teasing.

She blushed, telling him that he’d not been far off the mark, but she recovered enough to offer him a playful punch to the shoulder. “Manners! That’s not what I had in mind.” Her cheeks were burning furiously, their shade almost matching her hair. “What I was saying before your mind went to the gutter was that what I fancy more than a walk outside on a cool autumn day is taking that walk with my man.”

She pulled him by the arm; he didn’t really offer much resistance. “That is, if I don’t break his legs for embarrassing me in front of his coworkers.” She was playful and he loved that part of her as well.

“Now that was just dirty!” Ron Weasley entered the cubicle area trailed by Sarah and Lachlan who could barely restrain a tremendous bout of laughter. Ron’s clothing was in tatters, all shredded save for his boxers which were adorned with large hearts that had 'H loves R' in perpetual rotation around each.

Harry controlled his response, while Ginny hid her head behind his back, shoulders wracking in an uncontrollable bout of hysterics. “Ron, what happened?”

“What happened?” Ron turned towards Harry with an obvious attempt to retain some portion of his pride. “Lachlan over here used a Reducio spell on my clothes, Harry. Those robes were a gift from Hermione! He shrank my clothes and then disarmed me when my shirt sleeves drew too tight.”

Harry nodded sagely. “Ron, you’ve been in some nasty rows, you know that there aren’t any rules to fighting, except maybe, to win.” Harry’s neck was turning a brilliant shade of red, and he was desperately trying not to make eye contact with the perpetrators of Ron’s predicament. “There is one bright spot, though, Ron.” Harry choked on his words.

Ron eyed Harry closely, just now noticing the form of his sister who was gasping for breath behind her husband, unable to stifle her laugh. “What’s that, Harry?”

“You can tell Hermione that Lachlan didn’t destroy all of the clothes she gave you.” Harry began to snicker, his control fading. “Although, I’m hoping that the reducio spell hadn’t hit your boxers, because, imagine the size they were before being reduced?”

Ginny just managed to pull Harry down the hall before Ron “reduced” his best friend. As they ran down the hallway she leaned to Harry and whispered, “Remind me that I have to find you a different present for Christmas.” She paused, the image of Ron’s mishap in her mind, “Hermione already stole my idea.”

Harry stopped and stared at her for a moment. Cinching up his trousers, he chased after her disappearing form hoping she’d been joking.


***Author's Note: More of a lower key. I'm going to have a little fun with the next few chapters and I'm not going to keep doing it at Ron's expense, especially since Harry hasn't really been truly embarassed yet. I'll work some adventure elements, but no big evil-laced arc until sometime after Christmas (in story time, not in real time. Are you crazy? That's almost 5 months off.)

Thanks for putting up with the rewrite. The Feedback helped me catch the error and make a correction. Now you know why I think Styphon and Pollux are the best.


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Old August 29th, 2007, 6:01 am
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Re: A History of Magic: The Harry Potter Era

Chapter 45 – Office Politics

A palpable change permeated the air in Diagon Alley. As the days of autumn passed, the merchants at the various establishments prepared themselves for the Halloween and Christmas rushes. They peddled their wares more aggressively, highlighting specials and exclusives to the increasing numbers in the throng of shoppers passing by. The crowd both inside and outside of Weasley’s Wizards Wheezes was especially exuberant as its proprietors, Lee Jordan and George Weasley took every opportunity to ensure that this season’s new product lines were aggressively marketed to the masses. This year, they had a new employee. For the most part, muggles did not flourish in the wizard world, however, the Wheezes had an especially popular section that specialized in muggle sleight of hand and illusion. Dudley Dursley had bonded with Lee and George during Harry’s bachelor party and his particular expertise in muggle tricks and gaffs offered Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes a unique source of products. The partnership was doing extremely well and the association with George and Lee had brought Dudley out of his shell and made him more open, more fun.

Of course, Ginny would never acknowledge that something beneficial could be made out of an association with George and Lee, but she was willing to give Dudley the benefit of the doubt. She shook her head as she passed 93 Diagon Alley, the home office of Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes, watching Dudley and Lee trying out an assortment of “Whoopie” cushions on several unsuspecting diners at a nearby sidewalk café. Dudley had purchased several of the rubber bladders and brought them to the Lee, who’d added a foul scent to the standard offering, which completely changed the dynamic of the joke. Ginny had to make her way past her brother’s shop everyday she went into the offices of the Daily Prophet, and tried with as much aplomb to disassociate herself with their antics.

Her role as the chief Quidditch correspondent for the Prophet was going well. It hadn’t hurt that she was still renowned for her prowess on the pitch and she leveraged her past relationships to find storylines with impact. She made a point to avoid the more salacious aspects of her subjects. The Quidditch world had been buzzing ever since rumors of a torrid relationship surfaced between Gwenog Jones, captain of her former club, the Holyhead Harpies and Oliver Wood, the starting keeper for the Harpies’ rival Puddlemere United. While there may be some truth to the rumor, kindled in part, by their meeting at Ginny and Harry’s wedding, Ginny felt that her role was to report real news, not gossip. This did not, however, preclude other members of the Prophet staff from trying to dig into the private lives of others, most notably Rita Skeeter.

The wizard world’s answer to tabloid journalism had resurrected her reputation with her exclusive interview of Harry for the Quibbler and through her fantastical book on Dumbledore. The Daily Prophet, in its drive to reinvigorate its own tarnished reputation after the Thicknesse dalliance, had brought Skeeter back as a special “investigative” correspondent. What this really meant was that the newspaper was giving her a blank check to pursue any vapid rumor or story on any person of note that she could. Ginny’s stomach literally turned at the sight of her and even more so when Rita made attempts to curry favor while at the same time take surreptitious peeks at items on Ginny’s desk in order to find juicy tidbits on notable Quidditch players or on Ginny’s immediate family, who were celebrities in their own right, especially Harry who’s relationship with Skeeter was rocky to say the least.

Such was the case when Ginny was walking to her desk. As she rounded the corner to the open area that housed their work spaces, Ginny spotted a platinum blonde set of tight curls nestled over the top of Ginny’s desk. The flashy hair held a pair of bejeweled spectacles in place and the eyes behind the glasses were busily poring over a journal that had been left on the desk.

“Ahem,” Ginny’s annoyance with Skeeter was rising to the surface, “Is there something I can help you with, Rita?”

Not perturbed at being caught, Rita raised her heavy-jawed face to reveal some thickly penciled eyebrows and gave Ginny a toothy, crocodile smile, “Not at all dear, just looking over your material, seeing if I can give you hand with your prose. There’s nothing like showing the ropes to the wife of my great friend, Harry Potter. How is dear Harry? Is everything alright with you two?” Her tone was syrupy and bracing at the same time.

Ginny opted not to answer the question this time. Any response would have been convoluted into some impossible situation. If she said everything was fine, then Skeeter would report that Harry and Ginny were barely on speaking terms. If Ginny expanded in any way, then Skeeter would have Harry running off with the nearest witch in the Office. Ginny decided to ignore Skeeter altogether and waved the vile woman off.

Rita Skeeter’s byline the next day spoke of “Trouble for the Heroic Power Couple”. The story contemplated a rocky road for Harry and Ginny Potter as their hectic lifestyles had driven them apart. Skeeter speculated that perhaps Ginny’s high flying career as a socialite reporter had led her to ignore her wifely duties. Skeeter then offered commentary as to how sad she was for her good friend, Harry Potter, who deserved happiness in marriage. Rita Skeeter dedicated herself to making sure that Harry Potter had a happy life. She committed a whole series of her columns to the endeavor, and she desperately hoped that neither Harry or Ginny were making the problem worse by straying from each other.

Over the next few days, Rita began her series by following Ginny around. Unfortunately, Ginny herself was writing a detailed story on the Holyhead Harpies and their season. Skeeter had not been able to find anything juicy since a woman covering an all-female Quidditch team would not inspire much suspicion. Skeeter than turned her attention to Harry. Whenever he left the Ministry, she would maintain a vigil as to his comings and goings. For the first couple of days, Harry was always alone, and went straight home after work, so Rita decided to loiter in the main hall of the Ministry during the daytime hours. Her persistence paid off, as Harry came bounding from the elevators with Sarah Peebles in tow. The two Aurors were talking in whispers. Skeeter’s eyebrows raised up in a gesture of satisfaction. Now here was a story she could follow up on.

The next day, Skeeter was seated at her desk, filling in the pieces to her big expose on the questionable relationship between Harry and his protégé. As she edited her piece, she saw Ginny sitting at her own desk, considerably troubled by something. Rita watched as Ginny threw a folded piece of parchment into a wastebasket and ran from the room. While corroborating facts were never necessary for her stories, Rita was always on the lookout for items that made her writings half-way digestible. Skeeter walked over to Ginny’s desk and eased the discarded paper from the trash can. She ran back to her own desk and opened the scroll eagerly, smoothing it out to make out the words:

“How could they get together? Harry and Sarah, Wednesday, Lunch, Grimmauld Place”

Visions of noon time trysts played out in Rita’s mind, especially when thrown in with the idea that a noisy confrontation would follow with the rejected wife. Rita wrote a tantalizing piece for the evening edition, proclaiming a scoop of earth-shattering proportions to rival her book on Albus Dumbledore. She was absolutely giddy about her prospects. The only thing that would make this better, she believed, was to have witnesses, credible witnesses. She penned a quick note and sent it out by owl. The stage was set.

Seated at a bench outside 12 Grimmauld Place, Rita wore darkened glasses in some misconceived notion of anonymity. She heard the footprints approaching,

“Ms. Skeeter, I got your note, what is it that absolutely required the interruption of my day?” Percy Weasley was visibly annoyed. Skeeter’s note had been to the Minister, but given Kingsley outright contempt for Skeeter, but unable to avoid her missive, the Junior Undersecretary to the Minister was tasked to see what she wanted.

“Mr. Weasley, your presence is almost better than the Minister’s. You see, I’m the bearer of bad news. The great Harry Potter is stepping out on his wife, your sister and you will be witness to this infidelity.” Percy’s expression became horrified. His stunned face was word enough to Skeeter that her news was more than enough to get his attention. Percy was having difficulty looking at Rita, the disbelief he displayed offering a note of triumph to Rita. She was back, she could feel it, and it would be at the expense of the great Harry Potter. A couple was approaching from down the block. From a distance, she could see that the woman was Ginny Potter. As she neared, Rita saw that she was with Lee Jordan, a family friend. Obviously, Ginny had tried to get help from her brother George, and his erstwhile business partner had come to assist her in the confrontation. This story was getting better and better by the minute.

Approaching from the other direction, Rita saw the great Harry Potter walking up the street, on his arm, Sarah Peebles. The moment of truth had arrived.

“Harry James Potter!” Ginny’s voice rang through the air, freezing everyone. Ginny stormed up to Harry and Sarah, looking at both of them in anger.

“You’re late!” Ginny burst into laughter and kissed Harry and offered Sarah a hug. She motioned to Lee to approach. Lee was somewhat shy, his eyes lowered a bit.

“You two have been tap dancing around each other for months.” Ginny pulled Lee’s hand over to Sarah’s. “It’s about time you two decided that you liked each other and did something about it.” Somewhat chagrined, Lee smiled and closed his hand around Sarah’s.

“You’re right, of course.” Lee bent down and kissed Sarah on the top of the hand, “Would you care to join me for lunch?” Sarah was blushing unabashedly, her face beaming. She turned to look at Harry.

“Take the rest of the day.” Harry winked and the couple went off. “You finished, Miss Matchmaker?” Harry teased his wife.

“Not just yet.” Ginny turned and strode purposefully over to where a shocked Rita Skeeter stood. “Hello, Percy. What did I tell you?”

“You were right, Ginny. Quite shocking, indeed.” Percy gave a snicker and moved away from Rita Skeeter.

“What is the meaning of this? What is this all about?” Skeeter was perplexed, trying to figure an angle to pursue on this.

Ginny looked at the tabloid diva with strident expression. “This was part one of a two part lesson in ‘Leave the Potters Alone’, Rita. Keep your nose out of our business.”

“I don’t know what you mean. What lesson? What are you talking about Mrs. Potter? What are you up to?” Rita’s voice was haughty. How dare this strumpet talk to her like that?

Ginny’s voice lowered, becoming menacing. “It means that I won’t stop at fighting you *** for tat. You will find, that I am the one Potter or Weasley, for that matter that will not just get even, I get ahead.” With that, Ginny handed Rita a small package and turned to catch up with Harry. The two walked off arm in arm, laughing.

Rita Skeeter looked down at the package in her hand. She unwrapped the plain brown paper offering and found a mirror with a note attached. The note had a brief message in Ginny’s hand.

“Rita, Part two of your lesson is in your hand. The paper you stole from my wastebasket was jinxed, courtesy of my sister-in-law. Remember, I don’t get even, I get ahead. Regards, Ginny Potter.”

Her hands trembling, Rita Skeeter raised the looking glass to her eyes. The sight caused her to gasp and fall to the ground in a dead faint. Her golden curls had receded from her forehead and her brow was covered in large pustules of acne. The welts had formed themselves into a word that covered all the skin. There was only a single word, which punctuated the fact that Rita Skeeter had been had. The acne formed word was,

“LIAR”.


***Author's Note: Never cross a Ginny!

Feedback is greatly appreciated, go on, the link isn't hexed.


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  #45  
Old August 30th, 2007, 2:51 am
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Re: A History of Magic: The Harry Potter Era

Chapter 46 – All in the Line of Duty

The entire cadre of Aurors was gathered in the training arena. The murmur of individual conversations buzzed through the hall while every few moments eyes darted to the set of double doors set onto the far wall. Harry and Lachlan stood huddled together, both conversing but neither really hearing the other. Every so often, Harry would take to pacing back and forth, his strides were hurried.

“They’ll be done when they’re done!” Lachlan’s exasperated drawl finally penetrated Harry’s focus, causing him to look towards the senior Auror. “Don’t you remember your own? It must have taken more than few hours to complete.”

Harry nodded and resumed his pacing, like an expectant father. A clamor at the doors drew his eye as the force of two bodies crashed the doors open. Two tired but elated figures burst into the room holding sheets of parchment over their heads.

“We did it! We passed!” Ron Weasley’s beaming face radiated in elation, matching the expression of Sarah Peebles who was trailing behind him. “No trouble at all, we passed with flying colors!”

“Brilliant, Ron! I knew you could do it.” Harry turned to his own trainee, Sarah, whose smile warmed Harry’s heart. “I definitely knew you could do it, Sarah!” Her blush highlighted her triumphant smile.

Ron and Sarah had just sat for and passed their Year 3 M.A.G.E.’s, or Master Auror Governing Examination, the last step for a trainee in the process of becoming a full fledged Auror. Given that they were both taking the tests well before their eighteenth month of training was testament to their experiences and hard work over the past few months. Of course, Harry and Lachlan would often point to their own tutelage as key indicators of success. Nevertheless, both Ron and Sarah had now completed the final stage to becoming Aurors.

The two were surrounded by the new colleagues receiving salutations and congratulatory pats on the back. The crowd parted revealing the proud faces of Hermione Weasley, Ron’s bride and, to everyone’s surprise, Lee Jordan, Sarah’s newly found beau. Hermione ran to Ron and embraced him fully, smothering his lips with hers in a wildly passionate and somewhat public display of affection.

“I’m so proud of you Ron!” Hermione was at a loss for words, the superlatives seeming inadequate to the accomplishment. Ron smiled, happy for the chance to share this seminal moment with the person he loved the most on the planet. He knew her support and guidance had been integral to his achievement. He laughed with Hermione as they saw Sarah grab Lee stridently and kissed him full on the lips. It had been many years since they’d seen the normally loquacious Lee Jordan taken aback, unable to speak.

“May I have your attention, please?” The distinguished form of John Dawlish stepped to the front, carrying two cardboard boxes. He placed the boxes on the floor in front of him and continued, “Could I have Mr. Weasley and Ms. Peebles step forward with their tutors?”

Harry moved to the center of the room with Sarah and Lachlan accompanied Ron. Dawlish drew his wand and motioned for Harry and Lachlan to do so as well The three pointed their wands at the boxes in the center of the room while Dawlish began to intone an oath.

“The greatest privilege is to serve others. The choice to protect society through the promotion of justice and peace is one that is not entered lightly. The commitment to protect the innocent and the helpless is one that requires dedication. Ron Weasley and Sarah Peebles, you have demonstrated persistence, loyalty and courage. It is my pleasure to accept you into the Office of Aurors. Muto Lamnia!”

Harry and Lachlan repeated the spell, offering the power of their wands as teachers, “Muto Lamnia!”

Incandescent beams of golden light struck the nondescript boxes, causing them to glow internally. The cardboard making up the boxes disappeared leaving two glowing silver pieces of metal on the floor. Harry and Lachlan reached down and took one piece each. Holding the brilliant talismans up for the crowd, the two approached their graduated protégés. The metal pieces had shaped themselves into Auror shields with comets and moons in orbit around their fronts. Harry walked up to Sarah and affixed the shield to her robes. When he’d finished a shower of sparks etched her name onto the shield. When Harry turned towards Ron, he saw that his name was similarly etched on his own shield. Dawlish approached the two and shook their hands. The party was just beginning.

Later in the day, Harry had slipped away and was working through a pile of paperwork on his desk. Dawlish came up and slapped Harry on the back.

“Well done, Harry! You did an exceptional job with Sarah’s training.” Harry took the congratulations well. “Did you notice that no one had even thought twice about turning down Sarah all those months ago?”

“Well, saving the world tends to buy you a lot of goodwill.” Harry harbored no real ill feelings towards his friends and colleagues. The pain and loss over the past few months had washed that all away. Dawlish smiled brightly and his laugh was genuine, heartfelt. Harry tested Dawlish’s humor, “So, you headed home or have you made plans.”

Dawlish stifled his laugh, but couldn’t help his smile, “Elizabeth and I have plans, if you must know.” Harry smiled, happy for his friend. “What about you, Harry? Isn’t about time for you to head home?”

“I will, there’s a party down at the Burrow to celebrate. I’m going to head there, but I think I’ll take the stroll.” Dawlish’s smile became a little more serious. “Harry, you’re a good Auror, but remember why you do this. You should go and be with your family.”

“I will John, I just like to do it.” Dawlish nodded, understanding Harry more than most laymen would. With a wave, Dawlish left the room.

“The Stroll” was a tradition started by Gawain Robards years ago that consisted of an Auror walking the length of Diagon Alley, much like a police officer in the muggle world would walk his neighborhood beat. In fact, the inspiration for Robards came from his affectation for police dramas on television he’d watched at home with his muggle parents. The practice had been stopped when Voldemort had secretly seized control of the Ministry and the Aurors had become an extension of his terror policies. Robards had rekindled his Stroll when the Dark Lord had been defeated, as a means to reassure the public. When Robards had died, Harry had taken up the practice, as a dedication to Robards and to his colleagues who had passed away.

Arriving at the Leaky Cauldron, Harry found the place packed with patrons knocking back drinks to forget the day. Making his way to the entrance to Diagon Alley, Harry adjusted his robes, ensuring his talisman of office was prominently displayed. Confident that he looked suitable for the task, he walked into Diagon Alley. Harry nodded to the passersby, taking in the sights and sounds of the shopping arena. He passed the apothecary and looked in its window. A loud bang from the nearby cauldron shop drew his attention.

“Watch out!” The voice from above was too late, and a flood of liquid poured down onto Harry’s head from a second story window. It was green and thick. The perpetrator of the accident was an rotund face, kindly, but shocked at the mess she’d caused. “I’m so sorry there, Mr. Auror, the pot just got away from me!”

Harry shook his hands, the viscous ooze spraying all around him. “No worries, ma’am. Nothing that can’t be cleaned.” Harry took a quick look up at the woman with his one clear eye, “Is it?”

The woman had disappeared leaving Harry to wonder. He cleaned himself off as best as he could and gave serious thought to just heading home, but decided he could continue. As he walked, he began to notice a peculiar smell, almost rancid. When he turned to find the source, he discovered that he was the source of the aroma, the liquid emanating a particular rotten effervescence. Sighing, he continued his walk trying to avoid as many people as possible. As he passed Eelops Owl Emporium a flurry of feathers and muscle zoomed from the door.

“Puck! Come back here!” An owl was effecting an escape from the shopkeeper. Without knowing, it flew right into Harry’s chest, feathers flying everywhere and then landing on Harry’s sticky robes and holding fast. “I’m sorry, sir, I don’t know what’s come over him. He’s normally very tame.” Harry looked at the owl, one of its eyes pointed up and to the right and the other straight down.

“I can see how he was able to hit me.” Harry chuckled and nodded to the keeper. Now Harry was covered in an odiferous slime and covered with owl feathers. He tried his best to brush the feathers off and moved on down the alley. As he approached Florean Fortescue’s, he made a mental note to stay on this side of the alley in an effort to avoid the entrance to Gringott’s. While the goblins had said they forgave him for his breach of their vault almost five years ago, he didn’t want to give the guards pause in his present state. So preoccupied with this thought he didn’t see the child that ran out of the ice cream parlor and right into his leg. Harry bent over to check the boy, and noticed that entire contents of a double chocolate fudge sundae had made its way to the knees of his robes, coating them with the hot, sweet remnants of the dessert. Topping the whole scene off, the boy began to cry uncontrollably and was pointing at Harry with an accusing finger.

“He pushed me and made me drop my ice cream!” Harry was mortified as were the child’s parents who had chased him outside. Trying to apologize, Harry handed the family a few scythes to replace the ice cream and hurried off. When the first mishap had happened, Harry had doubts about continuing his walk, now he was sure of his doubts. Harry’s wandering made him lose sight of his surroundings. Peering up, he found himself outside Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes. The horror that George, Lee or Dudley would find him this state sent him running. As he looked back to check his escape, he failed to notice the obstruction that tripped him up and sent him flying headfirst into an open trash bin. Harry pulled himself up, bits of flotsam and food hanging from every part of his body. He also found himself missing the smell of the green ooze from before, because now he smelled of rotten refuse. Throwing his hands in the air, Harry apparated away leaving a smoky, trashy smell behind.

Near the trash can, snickers began to turn into full fledged guffaws. Two pairs of shoes, followed by two pairs of pants and so on, began to reveal themselves as two figures were revealed as they removed the Invisibility Cloak they’d been sharing.

“I win, you said he’d leave after the owl shop.” George Weasley’s carrot topped head beamed in a large smile as he gloated to his partner in crime, Dudley Dursley.

“Well I thought tripping the kid with ice cream was low, but the trashcan trick was brilliant!” Dudley laughed out loud.

George winked, causing the muscles around his lost ear to contract obscenely, “That’s the best part, I had nothing to do with the trashcan. You owe me, he lasted longer than you said he would. The ‘tar and feather’ trick was classic.”

“Double or nothing.” Dudley didn’t like losing a wager. George shrugged his shoulder. “I bet he goes home and changes first, then goes to the party at your parents’.”

George pondered the dare, “You know, Ginny warned him not to be late to the party, or she’d make him pay. You’re on!”

Dudley grinned and reached out to shake George’s hand, sealing the bet. “By the way, are you sure that my video camera was able to get the entire thing through that invisible cloakee thingee?”

“I dunno, let’s check.”

Dudley rewound a few seconds of the tape in the handheld video camera he was carrying. He saw Harry’s last forlorn fumble into the trash heap. Dudley looked at George, a devilish grin on his face, “Oh yes, we got the whole thing. Christmas will be fun, this year.”

George smiled with his friend and grabbed his arm, side-along apparating, heading to the burrow to confirm the winner of the latest wager.

***Author's Note: Christmas is coming! My birthday is Christmas Day, so be forewarned, I may be a little more mushy than usual.

Please, FEEDBACK, Seymour, FEEDBACK.


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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)

Last edited by USNAGator91; August 30th, 2007 at 2:56 am.
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  #46  
Old August 30th, 2007, 9:41 pm
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Re: A History of Magic: The Harry Potter Era

Chapter 47 – Christmas Gifts

He lay awake. He knew it was close to dawn, but winter’s onset made it harder for the sun’s rays to permeate the window in his bedroom. He was a slightly anxious, almost nervous lately as the day approached. He’d been anticipating today almost as much as he’d anticipated his wedding. He felt tightness in his chest and it seemed all he could do not to hyperventilate as he reflected on his plan. He rolled on his side and gazed at her. Her eyes were closed, her long lashes resting on her dimples which were accentuated by the freckles that dotted her face. Her red hair glowed, every strand seemingly with a mind of its own but placed as if they were of the same intent, which was to frame her beauty. Her red full lips were closed with the hint of a smile, as if she were thinking of a joke that only she knew the punch line to. One rebellious tress of crimson broke away from its brethren, falling carelessly across her face, tickling her nose causing it to twinkle unconsciously. He reached up and gently moved the recalcitrant strand from her face, his touch soft, loving, trying to avoid disturbing her slumber and breaking the spell of awe he felt every time he looked at her. He slowly rolled over and quietly rose from the bed. Putting on his robe and slippers, he silently made his way from the bedroom and down the stairs to kitchen.

“Good morning, Master Harry!” Kreacher, Grimmauld Place’s resident house elf was rustling around the kitchen.

Harry looked at his home’s only permanent moving fixture. He’d freed the house-elf months ago, but the octogenarian pug decided to continue to service the home and its owners and still insisted on calling Harry, “Master”. This reality was even more awkward than when Kreacher had technically been a slave, still, Harry could not imagine Sirius’ old family home without Kreacher and would learn to live with it.

“Master Harry, would you like some breakfast?”

Harry shook his head, “Not yet, thank you, just some coffee. I’ll wait until Ginny gets up before I eat.”

Kreacher nodded sagely, “Very good, Master Harry. Kreacher will be heading back to Hogwarts, but you will find what you need warmed in the oven.” Harry smiled his thanks, but noticed that Kreacher was eyeing him strangely.

“What is it?” Harry could swear that the house-elf was smiling, only if Kreacher’s lips were physically capable of doing so.

Kreacher bowed, “Everything is prepared for today. If I may be so bold, Master Harry, Kreacher is not getting younger, it would make his life complete to care for little Potters.”

Harry rolled his eyes. Ever since his freedom, Kreacher’s favorite words were “If I may be so bold, “which was invariably followed by something blunt and usually inappropriate. Hermione would probably hex him, but sometimes Harry found himself missing the days when Kreacher was a slave and hated him. Of course Harry didn’t mean it, but Harry had only really known two truly free house-elves before Kreacher and his interactions with them hadn’t been as intrusive.

“Kreacher, I’ve told you again and again, it will happen when it happens. We’re just living our lives. We have time enough for all that.” Harry grasped the mug of steaming coffee that Kreacher placed before him and took a small sip.

Kreacher bowed, again an almost-smile on his face, “Time is a mystery, never enough and sometimes too much, but Kreacher only knows what is.” With that, the small gray figure apparated away.

Harry had no idea what Kreacher meant and playing the words over in his head did not make it any clearer. With a shrug, Harry took his cup into the front seating area of the house. He made his way into the room, adorned like the Gryffindor Common room and saw Kreacher had lit a fire to combat the cold from outside. Instead of making for one of the easy chairs, Harry went to stand in one of the large bay windows. Drawing back the curtains, he took in the winter spectacle outside. Harry especially enjoyed winter. Its briskness and freshness always seemed to cleanse the landscape. With Christmas near, the world’s denizens, muggle and wizard alike seemed cheerful and happy. Hope was abounding and Harry always seemed to draw strength from the spirit of the season and the time.

A new snow had fallen the night before, covering every part of the street and park outside. It was early still, so nothing moved. No birds, no people; all was still. An endless wave of drifts and valleys covered in a magical white blanket of newness instantly calmed his pulse, settling him down. The edges of the window were coated in frost and ice painting mosaics of crystal on the panes like the border to a fine winter landscape. A light dusting of flakes fell in a haphazard fashion, driven to their resting places by a gentle breeze. The best part of this time of year, was that magic seemed to permeate all of the society and Harry thought that was perfect.

He heard her steps on the hardwood floors, the soft tread of her stride as she neared him. His heart began to race, how was it after being married for six months and having known her for so many years that her mere presence elicited such a response from him? She walked up behind him and reached an arm around his waist. He raised an arm and placed it around her shoulders. Her body fit perfectly into his; they were meant for each other. He looked down and the vision of her washed over him, as if he was seeing her for the first time. Her smile was warm, welcoming and always with a hint of daring and playfulness. He reached down and kissed her, the power of that simple gesture weakening his knees. She was beautiful, kind, soft and warm, but at the same time strong, independent and brave. This was not contradictions in personality, but the foundation of the most perfect person he’d ever met and his eyes watered slightly as he, judged himself unworthy of her presence, but lucky at his good fortune.

“Good morning.” His smile was warm. She returned his greeting. Her nightgown was flannel, extending to her knees. She was wearing a pair of soft fuzzy slippers in the shape of a bunny’s ears, a gift from Hermione on her birthday. She hugged him tightly.

“I love the way you look at me” Her brown eyes glowed, basking in his attention. She reached up and kissed him again. “You’re not working today?”

“It’s pretty slow, and Lachlan’s team is covering everything. I was hoping you’d want to spend the day with me, if you don’t have anything else planned.” Harry had made sure that her calendar at work was free. He’d even consented to lifting the hex on Rita Skeeter, so that, Ginny’s publisher would clear the next few days for him. “Its only a few days until Christmas and I wanted to have some alone time with you, before we head to the Burrow.”

She thought for a moment, realizing that she’d really had nothing planned. “No, I think I’m free until after the holiday.” A wicked smile came over her. “So, we don’t have anywhere to be and no one is around.” She pulled his arm, drawing him to the stairs. Harry didn’t need a second invitation.

A few hours later, they sat in the kitchen wolfing down the breakfast that Kreacher had left them. As usual, the offerings were delightfully succulent. They enjoyed being in each other’s presence, casting sly glances at each other, and giggling like adolescents.

“I have a surprise for you.” Harry broke the silence.

Ginny raised her eyebrows. “Oh really?”

“Yes, we’re going on an overnight.”

“You mean you had something planned for today, besides the obvious?” She reveled in the torrid shade of red his face became.

“Yes, so pack a bag. We can go anytime.” She bolted from her seat and ran up the stairs.

************************************************** ************************************************** *****

They disapparated on a lonely country road near an old stone bridge. The trees were laid bare by winter’s hand and freshly fallen snow covered everything. Harry grasped Ginny’s hand and led her down the lane. As they neared the bridge he waved a hand wiping the snow from the small brass plaque affixed to the side of the bridge.

“Slaughter Bridge?” Ginny read the name on the sign, her breath visible in the cold air.

Harry nodded, “This is where the Battle of Camlann was fought. This was the place that Mordred and Arthur fought to the death. This was where we came to find Nimue, the Lady of the Lake.”

Ginny took in her surroundings, a look of wonder on her face. Harry smiled and led her across the bridge to the slope on the other side. The sound of bells rustled in the air. Ginny turned towards the sound and found a simple sleigh standing in the clearing near the stream. It was white with silver trim. A broad, black leather seat was its main feature with two flame-lit lanterns attached on gambols on either side of the seat. They walked toward the sleigh, the drifts coming up to their knees, making progress difficult. With little effort, Harry leaned down and picked her up and carried her to their conveyance. He gently placed her on the seat and reached on the platform behind them and pulled out a heavy down blanket, protecting her from the chill of the open Bodmin Moor. Reaching to the rear of the seat once more, he pulled out a thermos and poured a cup of steaming hot chocolate, and gave it to her, the aroma surrounding them in the quiet spot.

Ginny took a sip of her cocoa and looked forward to the team that was attached to the sleigh. Two sinewy thestrals nuzzled each other, cooing in their ethereal language. Ginny smiled in wonder and looked up at her husband in amazement. He smiled back at her and drew on the reins lightly, prompting their chargers to move on. They followed the contours of the moor, the rolling hills covered in a smooth white blanket. The scene was unrecognizable from last summer when Harry, Ron and Sarah had trudged through the muck and mud of the moorland in the summer. The thestrals maintained a slow and steady gait, while Harry leaned back and put his arm around Ginny. She put her shoulder on his and opened the blanket to share. They cuddled, taking in the landscape, not speaking, but hearing everything that transpired. She loved the sound of the bells as the thestrals gracefully traversed the countryside. The runners on the sleigh slid effortlessly through the perfect snowfall. She closed her eyes for a moment, and imagined that she could hear Harry’s heart beat, pounding in love and care for her. She thought, for a moment that the wind swept cold made her eyes water, but realized in an instant that the love she felt for this man next to her was close to overwhelming. The moment was perfect.

They continued over the hills, eventually happening on an open area where the hills met the running stream.

“That’s Dozmary Pond. That’s where Bedivere brought Excalibur and threw it to Nimue.” The lake drew nearer, the edges covered in ice, the water a dark black, smooth, almost like ice itself. The sleigh drew to a halt near the edge of the Pool. Harry extended a hand to Ginny, helping her out of the sleigh and walking her near the water’s edge.

“Do you remember when we were in Avalon? When Arthur freed Nimue from her service?” Ginny nodded, remembering the scene. Nimue was delighted, wanting to renew her love for Merlin. She’d come over to Harry and kissed him on the cheek and whispered in his ear.

“She said something to you, didn’t she?” Ginny’s curiosity was piqued. Harry nodded.

“She said, ‘You alone understood the hope that love gave me. You realized that love was eternal. You will be blessed by your own love. My gift for you is here.’ She’d put something in my pocket.” Harry pulled a faded parchment from his pocket and read it. “Ginny, take out your wand, please.”

Ginny was confused, the request unexpected. Trusting Harry, she drew her wand and stood next to him.

“I’m going to conjure my Patronus and I need you to do the same. We’ll do it together, out towards the center of the lake. Ready?” Ginny nodded. As one they pointed their wands to the lake.

“Expecto Patronum!”

A flash of brilliant white light extended from both wands, overpowering the white of the snow on the ground. Cast against the blackness of the water, they noticed the light changing into their forms. A large shining stallion was joined by an equally stunning mare. The pair frolicked together and ran off towards the middle of the lake, nuzzling each other, helping each other across. The Patronuses disappeared over the horizon of the lake.

The surface of the lake began to roil near its middle the blackness frothing white in a turbulent display of energy and power. A small point of white began to rise from the water, slowly growing to become the top of a tall spire. The spire was attached to a tower which continued to rise until in the midst of the pool stood a castle of ice, shimmering in the winter sun. The castle sat on a floe that was motionless and stable. A long finger of ice stretched from the flow to the point on the shore where they stood. Harry smiled at Ginny and led her onto the ice bridge, towards the castle. When they got to the ice floe, they noticed that every structure, every gate, every step was made of ice, perfectly formed into its integral parts. They entered the main keep area and saw torches of white light emanating from the walls and arches. In the middle of the main room, a fountain of water ushered into the air. In the middle of the fountain, a full sized image of Nimue floated, suspended in the streams of water. The eyes of the image shone a bright solid hue of emerald, its green hair flowing as if caught in a summer breeze. The image smiled down at them.

“Harry, welcome to my winter palace. At first, I’d always thought of this place as my prison, but what it became was a monument of my love for Merlin. I share this with you so that you can have the opportunity to display your commitment to your own beloved. This place is yours for the evening. All you need do is ask and your every need will be answered. Know that Merlin and I are together and happy. Remember your own words, Harry, love is eternal and its power is the greatest magic.” With that, she disappeared in a shower of light.

Ginny took a deep breath, finding her voice. “This is incredible. You’ve planned this all this time?”

“It’s good to know that I can still surprise you.” Harry winked and then kissed her deeply. “Let’s see how this works.” In his mind’s eye, he pictured a piping hot cup of tea. In an instant, a table with cup and saucer appeared in front of them. “That was easy enough.”

They explored their surroundings and glimpsed the wonders of the place. Doors were adorned with priceless gems and jewels in their surfaces. Harry got an inspiration and led Ginny up a spiral staircase to the top of the tower in the center of the castle. When they reached the summit, they gasped at the view. They could see for miles across the lake over the snow capped hills. It was as if they were monarchs governing their own solitary magic realm. Harry turned to his bride.

“Ginny, I have one more surprise. I know that Christmas is only couple of days away, and I have something for you when we are at your parents, but I have something for you, something special.”
He fumbled in his pocket and withdrew a small gift box. Opening the box, he turned around so she could see it.

It was a locket. It was very simple and small. It looked to be made of plain gold, smooth, with intricately etched scroll work on its edges. Its chain was fine, thin but sturdy. Ginny smiled and took the locket, opening it. A small shower of light displayed two images, one of Harry and Ginny holding each other, and one of another couple, very familiar to Ginny.

“Are those your parents?” Her voice shook, amazed by the images. Harry straightened his shoulders.

“A while back, I went to meet Dudley out at a small café near Privet Drive. When I got there, he was sitting with my Aunt Petunia. Needless to say, I was surprised. Dudley explained that he’d been working on her, arguing about how wrongheaded she’d been, and, well, she wanted to talk with me.” Harry paused, his heart racing, his mind in a whirl as to what he should say. Ginny put her hand on his arm, urging him on.

“Anyway, Aunt Petunia apologized for her attitude and well, told me she was happy that I’d gotten married. We had a good talk.” Harry chuckled. “The thing of it is, when my parents died, Aunt Petunia was given whatever possessions they had to hold for me. It wasn’t much, but this locket was part of the bunch. She’d forgotten about it and when they returned to Privet Drive after Voldemort was defeated, she found it.” Ginny had a sharp intake of breath, the implications of Harry’s words coming clear.


“You see, that locket belonged to my mother. Aunt Petunia said that it belonged to Lily’s family. She’s right. It belongs to Mrs. Potter. It belongs to you.”

Ginny began crying openly, she reached up and hugged him tightly. He drew back and took the locket by its chain. Opening the clasp, he laid it around her neck and closed the clasp. It fell nicely at the bottom of her neck, as if it were meant to be there. He touched her cheeks tenderly, wiping the tears from her face and kissed her, soulfully, no other person near them, the world theirs for this one lasting moment.

After a moment, Ginny chuckled and began to laugh softly. Harry looked a question towards her.

“It’s nothing, really.” She looked up at her husband, the devil may care twinkle back in her eyes. “I was going to give you your gift early too.”

“You don’t have to, you know. I can wait until Christmas.” Harry was curious.

Ginny gently fingered the locket on her neck, the symbol of the gesture making her float higher than the tower she was on.

“No, I think I’ll give you your gift.” Looking around the castle and the landscape, she smiled. “After all, you’ve outdone yourself.”

Harry anticipated a kiss the likes of which he’d never had, much like his birthday present the first time they’d gotten together.

Ginny’s smile grew wider, “Your gift is, well, we’re going to have a baby!”

Harry stopped breathing for a moment. His heart stopped. Everything stopped as he processed her words. He looked at her, his love bursting from every pore of his body. He swept her up and kissed her solidly. Finally letting her down gently, he turned to the open expanse of water and shouted at the top of his lungs.

“We’re going to have a baby!!!”




***Author's Note: Leave it to the woman to get the last word. Oh well. The Weasley Family Christmas is up next.

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  #47  
Old August 31st, 2007, 7:41 pm
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Re: A History of Magic: The Harry Potter Era

Chapter 48 – Christmas with the Weasleys

The Weasley home near Ottery St. Catchpole consisted of an odd assortment of additions and stories. As more children were added to the family, the more area was added to the home. From the outside it appeared to grow higher and wider, like a boxy inverted pyramid. The only thing really keeping the structure from collapsing on itself was the magic that Arthur Weasley employed to keep the building sound. The concept of the Sunday Dinner was a resounding success, however, the tradition that seemed to bear the test of time was the Weasley Family Christmas. Molly Weasley would lock herself in her kitchen almost a full week before Christmas, running all curiosity seekers out with forceful spells. At various times in the past, George or Fred or Ron would try secretive ways to find out what their mother was up to, to no avail. Even after George and Fred had started their fledgling business and had access to a wide array of gadgets and spells, Molly would find a way to thwart their attempts at premature knowledge of the Christmas feast.

Arthur, for his part, would take over the living room, trying to create the “perfect” Christmas atmosphere. His projects were always muggle-inspired and almost always abject failures. One year he was infatuated with Christmas carols, but drew his example from a muggle singing group called “Alvin and the Chipmunks”. It took Molly Weasley almost two weeks to reverse the spell that had elevated Arthur’s voice to a pitch that dogs could barely hear. Another year, Arthur was completely taken with finding the perfect tree. He scanned movies and magazines to find the image of the ideal tree. Once he’d settled on the right look, he began a frantic search for an evergreen that would fit the bill. Unable to find a pine of the proper height and girth with the appropriate fullness of branch, Arthur found a small Douglas fir sapling and using an engorgio charm, which caused the small tree to explode up to thirty times its size and density. Arthur had been pinned against a wall by the wayward boughs and the stairs that had passed directly above the living room were not navigable until a team of wizards and loggers appeared to clear the way. It was almost three months until the last vestiges of pine needles, cones and limbs were finally cleared from the living room, and a little longer until Molly would actually speak to Arthur in anything but monosyllabic words. To this day, a fresh pine-scented aroma wafted through the living room as a reminder of the Great Tree Fiasco of 1990.

This year, Arthur was particularly inspired by the whole notion of “The Christmas Village.” He’d read that this phenomenon in an American magazine that talked about the lengths people would go to create a perfect Victorian village scene, complete with lit ceramic buildings, landscapes, snow and of course, trains. Arthur adored trains and the idea that he could use magic to enhance a basic diorama of utopian Yule time living was almost too much to ignore. Further, since this involved a panoply of effects and detail; George, Lee and Dudley were more than taken in with the project, assisting in every aspect of the creation of what fast became a monstrosity of urban renewal, right in the middle of the living room. All of the furnishings from the living room were removed, except for the Weasley family grandfather clock, and that remained because a belligerent Molly Weasley had stood with her arms folded, head and shoulders covered in flour, toes tapping, and threatened serious bodily injury if the precious heirloom was touched.

The entire living room had been transformed into a rolling landscape of hills, dales and rivers in perfect three dimensional display. Various portions of wizarding Britain were represented: Hogwarts, Hogsmeade, Quidditch stadiums and the like. A scale model of the Hogwarts’ Express ran from a miniature King’s Cross station up and back to Hogsmeade station. Arthur had pleaded with some of his colleagues in the environmental section at work to lend him snow spells, which he employed to keep a constant dusting of the powder in perpetual covering of the area. Lee had been responsible for the lighting and he’d conjured fireworks and flames to represent the sun and the moon as well as street lights, but always added an explosion here or there to make the display have what he called “character”. Dudley was fixated on automobiles and would bring in remote controlled cars and place them on a continuous loop throughout the display. Of course, no one really thought that it mattered that a modern era monster truck was really incongruous with a Victorian scene. George was responsible for populating their production with human figures, people. He started with the mundane, but eventually allowed his base side to carry the day. Soon there were images of Deatheaters on brooms colliding in fiery ways with the ground or a train or other flyers. The plumes of smoke marking their detonation always were a crowd pleaser. As with all of Arthur’s Christmas endeavors, he probably would not hear from his lovely bride until Christmas Day. Her issue this time was that given the number of people coming to the party this year, he’d used their only interior entertainment space for his gadgetry. In fact, he’d also blocked their Floo entrance for their visitors, causing a very circuitous trip around the diorama in order to gain access to the rest of the house. Arthur began furiously erecting a pavilion in their court yard to accommodate their guests.

Christmas morning arrived with a flourish causing the senior Weasleys to race around attending to last minute details. George and Lee had stayed overnight, making last minute changes to their creations on the Christmas Village. The extended Weasley clan began its arrival around mid morning. Ron and Hermione made their appearance, having spent Christmas Eve with her parents. The couple stepped onto the hearth and was immediately struck by a flash of light and snow that constituted the sunrise and blizzard of the ornate scene in the living room. For a moment, they were stuck in their position, with any one path through impossible. Ron picked his bride up and tossed her over his shoulder, in a fireman’s carry, much to her consternation, and tiptoed through the village with minimal damage.

“You could have just let me apparate to the courtyard, you git!” She gave him a playful smack and turned to greet her mother-in-law. Ron felt a tug on his trousers.

“’allo, Uncle Ron!” A radiant Victoire Weasley was demanding his attention and he was more than happy to oblige. Nearing five years of age, the tow-headed daughter of Ron’s brother Bill and his wife Fleur was the distinct copy of her mother. Her hair was fair and came down to just below her shoulders. She had a regal bearing about her, but Ron noticed, right away that her smile was distinctly Weasley in origin. Her smile was mischievous as if she’d placed a Weasley’s Wheeze under the dining room table, which, the more Ron thought about it, she just might have. She was the dangerous mix of her mother’s brilliant beauty and her father’s family riotousness.

“Hello, sunshine!” Ron picked her up and held her close, putting a kiss on her cheek. “I’ve missed you so much.”

“Uncle Ron! Put me down! I’m a big girl and a lady. Ladies do not get bear hugs!” Ron smirked at her reaction and put her down.

“Well then, Lady Victoire, what is the proper greeting for a lady of your stature?” Ron’s tone was serious, no trace of mocking or humor.

Victoire stood straight and raised her nose slightly, an air of arrogance in her voice, “Well, if you must know, this is the way a lady is greeted.” She put her arm out, hand with its palm down.

Ron gave an exaggerated bow and took her hand, placing a small kiss on the top. “Is that better, m’lady?”

Her cheeks reddened, smile breaking out on her lips. “Much, thank you. Teddy!!!” All pretense at decorum dropped as Victoire ran like mad to embrace the new arrivals to the Burrow. Andromeda Tonks and her grandson, Teddy, were wending their way through the door. Teddy heard his name and saw the flash of blonde hair approaching. His own hair turned a dark black and he rolled his eyes. He looked helplessly at his grandmother and braced for the assault. When Victoire reached him, she flung her arms around him and hugged him tightly. Teddy’s hair instantly turned a deep red, almost matching the purple in his cheeks either from the crushing force of the hug from Victoire or from the embarrassment of the display. It was probably a good dash of both.

“Merry Christmas, Teddy!” Victoire released him and drew a deep breath. “Did you bring me a present? I have one for you.”

Teddy’s hair began to shuffle between a multitude of colors reflecting how flustered he was. Red turned to blue turned to green turned to orange as he stammered through his greeting, “Yes, er, Victoire, um, well Merry Christmas to you. Um, no, er I mean yes, we have, that is, my grandmother and me got you a gift, er” His eyes drifted through the room, pleading for rescue, but Teddy knew that there were Weasley boys about who reveled in his discomfort. It almost seemed as if they ate their own.

“Victoire! A lady never flusters a man. Let Teddy breathe!” Fleur Weasley came to his rescue, shooing her daughter away. “Well, Teddy! You look so handsome! You are what, seven?”

“Almost.” Teddy’s hair turned a calm shade of aqua, thankful for the rescue.

Fleur smiled, “you ‘ave grown so tall. What a ‘andsome young man!” She gave him a peck on the cheek causing him to blush harder while his hair became almost plaid as it flew through another range of color changes.

“Remind me to teach him how to play poker.” George whispered to Lee. “He’ll never be able to bluff.” Teddy saw George and Lee whispering and knew immediately that’s where the fun and mischief of the day would be. He walked over and greeted them. The two “role models” quickly began to tutor Teddy on the fine art of the whoopee cushion.

More and more guests arrived. Sarah Peebles was not too far behind Ron and Hermione, having decided that she’d much prefer being with Lee than at home. Right after Sarah, Charlie Weasley made his appearance, looking none the worse for wear for someone that spends his days in the company of dragons. The party was hitting full stride with everyone heading outside to the heated pavilion. A large table with a fire pit was set up in the middle and soon everyone began to congregate around the table. A crack and whoosh announced the arrival of Dudley, his mother Petunia in tow.

Petunia looked disoriented and clung to Dudley for dear life. George and Lee came up and shook Dudley’s hand fiercely. Dudley seemed a little out of sorts.

George gave him pat on the back, “What’s the matter, Duds? You have problems with the port key? It worked, didn’t it?”

“Well, yes, no problems, but” Dudley held up the object in his hand, “I know you have to use common objects, but a toilet seat? Couldn’t you have used something else?”

His two friends snickered and shrugged their shoulders, dragging Dudley with them to fill him in on their latest caper.

Molly Weasley approached Petunia Dursley and took her hand. “Welcome to our home. It must be a little strange for you, but I absolutely loved Lily, she was one of a kind.”

Petunia was a little shaken and she had problems finding the words, “Th-thank you. You have a wonderful home.” Her eyes widened a miniature witch on a broom flew past her face. “Where’s Harry, by the way?”

As if on cue, Harry and Ginny appeared. They were holding each other, gazing, smiling at each other, seemingly oblivious to anyone around. Molly looked at them, a memory of the last family gathering where Harry and Ginny had huddled around like that. “OK, out with it, what are you two up to anyway?” Molly put her hands on her hips.

Harry didn’t hesitate. He looked up from Ginny and at his mother in law, his voice carrying across the entire space. “We’re going to have a baby!”

Everything stopped. There was no noise and no activity. It was if the words hung like a balloon in the air. Molly Weasley was a dedicated family woman. Her emotions were tied to the sanctity and safety of her large family. Her expression was raw, loving. Her only daughter was going to be a mother. Her youngest child was going to have a baby. Molly Weasley let out a huge wail and started bawling, then grabbed Harry and Ginny up and squeezed them together.

“Wonderful! That’s wonderful. Arthur, come here, your baby is going to have a baby!”

The mood of the party became more uplifting, more upbeat. Everyone crowded around the happy couple, clapping them on the back, a surreptitious hand here and there touching Ginny’s stomach, as if the baby were coming just then.

Harry saw his Aunt Petunia. Leaving Ginny to enjoy the attention of their moment, Harry walked over to his aunt. He was unsure of what to do, hug her or shake hands. He was caught in the middle. She smiled and wrapped her arms around him.

“I’m so glad you could come.” She nodded. “It means so much that you’re here Aunt Petunia. I want you to meet Ginny.” Ginny and Harry’s communication was much better. As he was saying those words, he felt a hand in his, Ginny having moved over to where he was. “Ginny, this is my Aunt Petunia. Aunt Petunia, this is my wife, Ginny.”

Petunia smiled, “Pleased to meet you. You are so lovely. Congratulations on the news.” Petunia turned towards Harry, “Your mother would have been so happy for you, Harry.” She spied the locket around Ginny’s neck and smiled as a tear dropped from her eye.

Dudley had made his way over to them, “Everything alright, mum?” Petunia smiled at her son.

“Everything is perfect.” She smiled knowingly at Ginny and Harry.

With everyone abuzz about the news, the feast kicked off in high gear. Dudley had helped Mr. Weasley understand how to work the disk player, so Christmas music piped in to their ears as they dined and enjoyed each other’s company. They celebrated another year together and toasted their lost family members.

Everyone exchanged gifts, the children Teddy and Victoire receiving the lion’s share of packages to open. When everyone had settled in, Dudley and George moved to head of the table and set up a large television on its end.

“We have a gift for everyone.” George smirked at Dudley. “You see, we have in our midst, a great man, the greatest Auror ever.” George nodded at Dudley who started the small video player near the television. George continued, “But even the most accomplished wizard and Auror can be had, with the proper motivation.”

The video showed Harry’s Diagon Alley misadventures. Harry’s face showed shock and his face reddened. The assembled partygoers broke into applause as Harry’s carefully executed face plant into the trash can was displayed. He couldn’t help himself, he laughed. He’d been had. When the video ended, George stood up. Harry rose from his seat and looked at his cousin, accusingly.

“He imperialized me.” Dudley pointed to George. George held up both of his hands.

“Now Harry, you know it was all good fun. I mean, you can’t hold a little thing like this against me, can you?” A small bolt of lightning struck George in the rear end. Harry looked around, he hadn’t cast any spells. He looked at his wife; she was as stunned as he was.

“Bugger! I’ll get you!” Lee Jordan had his wand out and began to hurl charms at his erstwhile partner, who began to flee outside. The noise caused the whole room to become a flood of noise, spells and excitement. Molly was chasing after Lee and George, trying to keep them from escalating the battle. Dudley was right behind, his video camera at the ready.

Andromeda Tonks and Fleur were trying to separate little Victoire from Teddy, who she was trying to drag towards a tuft of mistletoe hanging over the tent entrance. Arthur, Bill and Charlie were chasing the miniature Hogwarts’ Express that had escaped its panorama in the living room and was making a beeline for the front gate. Ron and Hermione had locked arms and walked over to where Harry and Ginny were standing. They were soon joined by Sarah, who was shaking her head.

“What was that all about? What got Lee so riled up?” Harry looked at Sarah, wondering what was going on.

“Lee feels that it was a betrayal to leave him out of such a ‘perfect’ gag. He said it was lower than if they’d done the gag to him.” Sarah shook her head. “I’d better make sure they don’t hurt themselves.”

Ron, Hermione, Harry and Ginny looked at each other and laughed uncontrollably. The riot of sound and fury was all around them, a continuous cacophony of disorder and mayhem. Somewhere a Christmas tune was playing, not matching the flurry of activity going on. Harry turned to his bride, a bright smile on his face.

“You know what?” He raised his voice slightly, pointing to the madhouse around them. “This is perfect.” He reached down and kissed her.

Ginny knew what he meant. She’d grown up in this environment. The fights, the tumult, the craziness, all these things came with being part of a loving family. She and Harry were starting their own family, and as she saw Harry taking every bit of the silliness in, she saw that he was right. Everything was just perfect.


***Author's Note: It's like Christmas at my house! The feedback helps, I had not intended to incorporate the video, but there were requests. This your story as much as mine, so remember:

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  #48  
Old September 2nd, 2007, 5:34 pm
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Re: A History of Magic: The Harry Potter Era

Chapter 49 – New Year’s Resolutions

One of the most interesting things about being newlyweds is that every event or holiday that the couple experiences in their first married year is a new feeling. The new family is creating traditions and memories that will endure for their lives and the lives of their children. Sometimes the effort that young couples put into making signature holiday events memorable can be harder than the event themselves. Harry and Ginny wracked their brains trying to figure out how they should spend the New Year’s holiday together. They knew that while they would spend Christmas at the Burrow, they wanted New Year’s to be something that was uniquely theirs. In the end, it came down to history. The Weasleys were family and they’d always have family time. The new Potter family tradition for New Year’s Eve had been decided.

The man was bent over his desk, the light of a single candle the only source of illumination as he furiously scribbled into a battered journal. Splayed about were numerous bits of flora set at different angles near his work. He’d lost track of time, as was his wont. He was so engrossed in his work that he did not hear the approach of the footsteps to his door. He reached for another bit of leaf sitting on his desk and held it up to the feeble light.

“Neville, knock it off! You’re going to miss the whole thing.” Dean Thomas was standing in Neville Longbottom’s office door. Neville had been so engrossed in his research for the upcoming term that he’d lost track of time. The truth of the matter was that as the resident Herbology professor at Hogwarts, Neville was having the time of his life. He often found himself lost in the vagaries of exotic plant life and its relationship to magic. He was uncovering new and different applications of all parts of the plants he cared for and took great pleasure in passing his discoveries on to his students.

“Right, sorry Dean. Thanks for coming up for me.” Neville grinned and shut his journal. Extinguishing the candle with a wave of his hand, he walked over and joined his friend. They made their way down the corridor towards a nearby flight of stairs that led up to the seventh floor. Absently, they stopped talking and walked past the same place three times. Before long a doorway appeared on the wall nearby. Neville pulled on the handle and held the door open for his friend.

The Room of Requirement had configured itself into a large ballroom that was filled with revelers. Above them, the ceilings were high, marked with raised arches and grand chandeliers. White flower petals fluttered about and the sound of music drifted throughout the room providing a festive ambience to the party. At the far end of the ballroom, a clock face covering the entire wall kept steady time, a phantom pendulum swinging. Along either side of the room, buffet tables loaded with all kinds of food and dessert and a bar serving all manner of drink were stationed for the party goers. The crowd was gathered around a raised dais in the center of the room, amidst the dance floor.

“I found him!” Dean waved to the group which cheered in greeting and delight. “He was fiddling with his weeds, again.” Dean pat Neville on the back and guided him to the group. Atop the platform, standing by a podium, Harry raised a glass of champagne in mock salute to the late comers.

“Now that we’re all here, I’ll continue. Ginny and I were trying to come up with the best way to ring in the New Year. We thought about all the romantic or memorable things we could come up with and nothing seemed right.” He took in the faces of the people looking at him. “We thought about you, our friends. We’ve been through so much together. We’ve been through life and death and we’ve survived and won. All we could think of was that the only way to spend New Year’s was with Dumbledore’s Army!” The crowd burst into spontaneous applause.

“Well done, Harry!” Seamus Finnegan raised a mug of beer, suds flying. As if by premonition, the lights dimmed and the music began playing in earnest. Harry dismounted from the podium and it rose up out of the way. The party goers and their dates began to whirl around the dance floor.

Harry walked over to where Ginny, Ron and Hermione were standing, near a punch bowl. He gave Ginny a quick kiss, then turned and kissed Hermione on the cheek and shook Ron’s hand.

“Great idea, mate.” Ron sipped his drink and took in the room. “Using the Room of Requirement was inspired.”

Ginny spoke up, “Actually, that was Neville. When we owled him about the party, he came up with the idea of using the room.”

“It’s beautiful.” Hermione admired the décor. The music was ringing through their ears and the rhythm combined with the dance made her do a twirl. Grasping her husband’s hand, “Come on Ron, I fancy a dance!”

Harry laughed at his friends and put his arm out to his wife. She took it and he led her out to the dance floor. Fireflies flit about their heads, like fireworks in the night. The light in the raised ceiling blackened and pinpricks of light, like stars gave the illusion of dancing under an open sky. Harry kissed his bride, his hand slyly moved to her stomach, his eyes locking with hers, enjoying the moment. The kissed once more and held on tight through the music.

Neville stood by the punchbowl, his toe tapping time to the music. His eyes surveyed the people who had made the party. Cho Chang and Dennis Creevey were holding each other tight, barely moving on the floor. George had a beautiful blonde woman on his arm and he seemed to be chatting seriously with her. Lee and Sarah were seated on a bench seat, kissing passionately. Everywhere, people were with other people. The fact of it was, Neville’s love was his work and he’d not even thought about something social. He wasn’t sad about it. It was just life. He sighed and sipped his drink.

“You don’t like to dance?” The lyrical voice of Luna Lovegood cut into his reflection.

“Oh, hi Luna. I really don’t dance.” Neville turned to his friend, a pleasant smile greeted him as she sipped on punch.

“Of course you do, everyone likes to dance. It seems to me that you just don’t have a partner.” She held out her hand to him and the walked over to the dance floor. They joined their friends in moving to the music and Neville found himself more fleet of foot than he expected. There was something calming for her friends whenever they found themselves around her. Luna’s smile was innocent but knowing. It was if Luna was the mistress of her own universe and everyone else were welcome visitors.

As the night wore on, and the hands of the clock approached midnight, a noticeable anticipation moved across the crowd. Ron had been congregated with George and Lee, chatting over some new aspect of their business. As he would always do, his eyes roved the room, looking for his wife. He spotted Hermione standing by herself and noticed a wistful look on her face, which disappeared as Padma Patil walked over to talk to her. Ron saw the look. Something was troubling her. He excused himself from his conversation and walked over to her.

Padma had moved on and Hermione noticed Ron’s approach. Anyone who knew her would say that nothing seemed awry, but Ron saw the flicker of difference in her eye. He approached and kissed her.

“What’s wrong?” His question was direct, knowing.

She didn’t go through the dance, she admitted that she had something on her mind. “We’ve been married almost two years. Harry and Ginny have only been married a few months. It’s just that…”

He jumped to the heart of the matter. “You’re ready for children?” Her eyes cast downward. She gave a slight, almost imperceptible nod. “If you’re ready, then so am I.”

She looked up at him, searching his eyes for indications of hesitancy or condescension. She saw none. Instead she saw an earnestness that filled her heart with warmth and love.

“I do, Ron. I’m ready.”

“Hermione, we’re a family. I love you more than life itself and I can’t wait to have children with you.” Her eyes welled with tears, and he pulled her to him, hugging her tight, stroking her hair.

“Come on you two! It’s almost time!” Harry was walking past them with Ginny in tow, moving towards the center of the room, in front of the large clock. Ron and Hermione followed them and by the time they’d arrived with the rest of their friends, the long tones of the clock marking the arrival of midnight began to toll.

As the last peals of the clock finished, they group exploded in a rousing cheer of “Happy New Year!” Here and there, couples marked the arrival of the year with kisses, as for the most part, everyone in relationships saw this new year as emblematic of huge change. Dennis and Cho kissed deeply, new love kindling with the promise of something more. Lee and Sarah embraced still awkward but soft, telling of a new encounter with the promise of something more. Neville and Luna shared a kiss, less romantic but more friendly, symbolic of the fact that everyone here would always be close and there to support each other. Hermione and Ron kissed with a renewed passion, sealing their commitment on moving forward with the next phase of their marriage. Harry and Ginny kissed, their bodies melded, sharing the energy of new life. Their year had been marked by loss, joy and the ultimate renewal.

As was always the case, the Room of Requirement anticipated the needs of the people inside. The lights dimmed and as the New Year arrived, the stars on the ceiling began bursting into a lightshow of fireworks and sound. The music began playing “Auld Lang Sine” and the party goers were singing along. Dumbledore’s Army had renewed their commitment to each other and knew that the D.A. had found a way to express their solidarity.

************************************************** ************************************************** ***********

The changing over of a new year is an event of renewal and growth. It can also mark a time of change. The man walked into the foyer of the large mansion. The corners and crevices of the entryway were shadowed in darkness. He walked into a main gallery, where light had not penetrated in years, save for the flicker of candles surrounding a small figure in the center of the room. The man walked towards the figure and knelt, his head bowed low.

“The time has come. The last of Voldemort’s fools have been captured.” The figure was shrouded in a blood red hood and robe. “That idiot Voldemort hampered our ascension with his selfish pursuit of glory and pure blooded nonsense, but now we can proceed.”

The man basked in the glow of the raw power of his patron. His voice was low, supplicating. “Perhaps he’s unwittingly helped us in our task. The fools are now convinced that they have faced down the worst evil they will ever face. They are complacent.”

The hooded figure looked at its minion. “That is true, and I have always been patient. We will destroy them from within. We will unify the wizarding world and the Minister and his lackeys will help us win. Their arrogance will make them unaware. Their compassion will make them weak. Their lack of ruthlessness will paralyze them. Their faith in each other will be their ultimate defeat.”

The man allowed himself a small smile. Truer words had never been spoken and the anticipation of ultimate victory washed over him. His master rose to full height.

“You may begin. The end of all things is at hand and there is no one to stop our rise.” The man joined in his master’s glee, their laughter echoing through the open space of the gallery. The time was finally at hand.


***Author's Note: Sorry for my tardiness. It's Labor Day weekend here in the US and my wife and I through a kicking '80s party last night, so I was busy, ok? Anyhow, a New Year is here in the story and we have some new things going on. I hope you enjoy.

The move into the main Flourish and Blotts area has opened us up to more readers. Your FEEDBACK is greatly appreciated.


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My Fanfics:
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  #49  
Old September 3rd, 2007, 2:23 am
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Re: A History of Magic: The Harry Potter Era

Chapter 50 – Grand Re-openings

The defeat of Lord Voldemort and the subsequent search for his followers had occupied the Office of Aurors for the better part of five years. The capture of the last few Deatheaters signaled a sea change for the Ministry of Magic. For almost twenty years the pursuit of dark wizards was exclusively tied to finding the Dark Lord’s minions. The Office of Aurors had grown to unprecedented numbers. Tragically, those numbers had been diminished by the countless battles that had been fought to protect wizard society. The Ministry had come to the decision that the number of Aurors would not exceed thirty total, unless otherwise needed. John Dawlish was assigned to head the Office and he’d reorganized the office into four working teams, each headed by a seasoned and blooded senior Auror. His four team leaders were Harry, Lachlan, Proudfoot and Savage. Each had six colleagues in their team for four groups of seven. With Dawlish, the current manning for the Office of Aurors stood at twenty nine. The graduation of Ron and Sarah marked the last such event for the foreseeable future, barring death or retirement. There were no trainees in the pipeline.

Harry walked into the open area that held the cubicles for the Aurors. His team was arrayed in a series of work spaces in line with his own. In addition to Sarah, he had five other Aurors of differing experiences and backgrounds. Ron, with Harry’s agreement, had elected to stay with Lachlan’s team, avoiding the awkward chance that he’d have to take direction from his close friend and brother-in-law. Since the end of the Morgana episode, the Office of Aurors had primarily been engaged in pursuing minor practitioners of the Dark Arts. The curses that these pseudo-dark mages were using were small and inconsequential, but still required follow up. The majority of their tasks ranged from checking on tips about the use of dark magic to the pursuit of adolescents who’d violated the ban on underage magic. Even now, Harry’s team were out, checking on a variety of mischief complaints from a muggle school, where several bouts of boils had broken out for no apparent reason. Harry was checking through several reports that had crossed his desk, especially an interesting announcement that Borkin and Burke’s establishment was re-opening under new management. Just as he was thinking that this was something to keep an eye on, he heard some muttering from the adjacent row of cubicles. Peering over to the familiar sound of his friend’s voice, Harry spied a red-headed body struggling with tying a tie.

“What’s up, Ron?” Harry walked over to where his friend was about to rip the tie from around his neck and made a slight adjustment to the knot, straightening out the problem.

“What do you mean? Don’t you have to get ready?” Ron checked the alignment of his tie in a nearby mirror. “The S.P.E.W. reception is at seven.”

“Sorry, old boy. My team is on the clock tonight, so I have to stick close by, looks like you’re on your own.” Ron rolled his eyes, picturing a long night ahead. Part of what Hermione had brought to her job with the House Elf Relations Office was to bring the patrons and members of S.P.E.W., the Society for the Promotion of the Elfish, together with members of the government in order to facilitate the systemic liberation of the house-elves. Tonight, one of the largest fundraisers and networking events for S.P.E.W. was being held at the home of one of the most influential backers of the organization. Members from the highest levels of government and wealth were coming together and Hermione was leading the way. As her husband, Ron was expected to attend and tonight, he’ll be going without the support of his best friend. Ron slumped his shoulders and walked out of the office, as Harry shook his head in mock sympathy.

Ron arrived through the Floo, one of many guests making their way to the large mansion. The fireplace was in a large ballroom, marked by high ceilings and elegant chandeliers. Several liveried wizards were carting trays of hors de oeuvres and drink to the attendees. A group of instruments, sans musicians were in the corner of the room playing a minuet. Ron dusted himself off and wandered about the room. He saw Cavendish and Dawlish standing together in a muted conversation with Kingsley Shacklebolt, the Minister of Magic. Ron nodded to Dawlish and continued his search of the crowd. He saw Hermione standing near the center of the room, engaged in a conversation with a house-elf standing near Ron’s brother Percy. Ron straightened his tie again and walked over to join his wife.

Hermione saw his approach and raised her hand briefly. “Ron! I’m glad you could come, I’d like you to meet someone.” Ron glanced at Percy, who had a bemused look on his face. “Mrs. Burke? This is my husband, Ronald Weasley.”

A diminutive woman had been masked by the crowd from his eyesight. She came forward and offered her hand to Ron. She was old, very old. The creases and lines of age were well drawn into her face, yet her eyes were a vivid azure, full of life. She stood erect, not worn down by time’s weight. Her hair was jet black, not a hint of white or gray. Her grip was firm, solid and she had a pleasant smile as she greeted Ron.

“Kirklees Burke, Mr. Weasely. May I call you Ron?” He nodded. “I’ve heard so much about you. It’s a great pleasure to meet you.”

Ron murmured something perfunctory and looked at the woman. She was the oldest scion of a pure-blood wizard family possessing enormous wealth. Most of the members of her clan were not known as being overly sympathetic to non-pureblood causes, yet Kirklees had been outspoken in her support for elf’s rights as well as a fighter against prejudice based on background. She was distantly related to the former proprietor of Borgin and Burke’s in Knockturn Alley. Even though she was the oldest surviving member of the Burke clan, she’d poured a lot of effort and a lot of money into the cause and had reaped a sterling reputation for her efforts. Hermione was an absolute admirer. Ron smiled at her attention, amazed at her sharp intellect which belied her octogenarian exterior. The evening wasn’t as bad as he’d thought it be.

Evening in Diagon Alley had a different feel than the daytime. For the main concourse, there was an air of romance and mystery. The shops were gaily decorated in an assortment of lights and gas lamps that lent itself to couples looking to spend a few lost hours together. Like it’s widely accepted sister, Knockturn Alley took a distinctively different feel at night. The lighting was more sparse, casting ominous shadows across the open spaces. Walkers tended to tread rapidly, as if every dark place hid danger. Visitors would swear that they could make out eyes watching them from blackness of the side alleys and buildings. For years, Borgin and Burkes was the cornerstone of Knockturn Alley, its looming façade dominating the vistas in the walkway. The shop had been closed since the fall of Voldemort, its owners implicated in a number of crimes associated with the Deatheater wars, including the death of Albus Dumbledore.

Harry walked down the middle of Knockturn Alley, his shoulders erect and his robes flowing around him. Even though his attire was midnight black, it stood out from the shadows that dominated the thoroughfare. His viridian eyes absorbed every detail of his surroundings, settling on the entrance to Borgin and Burke’s. The double doors were thrown wide open, a fire pit lit on the front terrace. The flames were a brilliant red, casting a sinister glow on the building, as if it were bleeding. Harry chortled to himself and walked directly into the shop. The store was cramped and crowded with display cases and shelves housing any number of dark arts related artifacts. Books of dubious origin dotted a number of bookcases along the wall and bones and bottles littered the displays. A few patrons were scattered about the store, browsing the aisles. A number noticed Harry’s entrance, and quietly moved away from his proximity. One person, however, did not seem bothered by Harry’s presence. He took in Harry’s robes and prominent Auror’s talisman. He smiled in welcome.

He was dressed in black trousers that covered highly polished ankle length shoes. He wore a blousy black long sleeved shirt that buttoned down the front. A blood red ascot covered his neck. His ensemble was completed by a black sports coat, with a three button front, left open. The man was pale, almost translucent, as if the sunlight had never touched his skin. His hair was also black, straight and fell down beyond his shoulders and was pulled tight into a pony tail. He was tall, over six and half feet and his eyes were black, like onyx. The indication of age was the tufts of white hair that peppered his goatee, near the chin. His appearance matched the nefarious inventory that populated the store. Harry noticed the man’s stare and walked up to him.

The man held out a hand, “My name is David Farrant, I’m the new owner here. How might I help a representative of the Ministry?”

His grip was firm, but cold and clammy, like Harry had reached his hand into the depths of a crypt. Harry looked at Farrant over the top of his glasses. “I’m Harry Potter. I read somewhere that someone was opening this place up again. I was just coming by to see what’s changed.”

“I am honored to have this grand opening graced by your presence. It’s not often that we have a legend cross our threshold.” His smile twisted his face into a vile grimace exposing rows of shiny, thin teeth that seemed predatory. “As you can see, we carry most of the same items as the previous owners, with a few additions. These are all for nostalgic or sentimental purposes, of course.”

“Of course.” Harry felt immediately that a game was being played. “This place doesn’t have a good reputation for straight forward business dealings.”

“One should not judged by one’s past. You were friends with Sirius Black, were you not? I dare say he wasn’t to be judged by his family history.” His tone was dripping, but Harry could not make out if it was contempt, sarcasm or humor. Harry chose to ignore the tone altogether, even at the mention of Sirius.

“Quite.” Harry looked around, his eyes taking in the tomes on black magic and blood purity. “Still, one should also learn from the past and not be doomed to repeat its errors. Don’t you agree?”

Farrant bowed at the waist. “I see your point, Mr. Potter. As you can see, this is just a curiosity shop. You’ll find no looming nest of dark conspiracies here.” He chuckled, the laugh sounding like earth thrown on top of a coffin.

Harry looked at David Farrant closely. After a minute or so, Harry smiled its tone was menacing, giving hint to an unspoken warning. “You’re right, of course. It would be complete idiocy to expect evil to pervade an establishment when the eyes of the Office of Aurors are being so watchful, wouldn’t it?” The challenge was issued not so subtly.

“It would be, were something underhanded were being done.” The challenge had been received and understood. “If there is anything I help you with, please do not hesitate to ask.”

“Thank you, and welcome to the neighborhood. I hope your enterprise flourishes.” Harry bowed at the neck and strode out into the night. He’d have to keep an eye on this place and its curious new owner.

The pub was like hundreds of others that dotted the landscape of London. James Robins was no one. He was a simple man, a plumber who liked to spend his hours after work indulging in a pint or two after a hard day cleaning up the refuse of his fellow men. He stumbled out the door of the establishment and started walking towards the tube entrance. Passing an alley, he heard a scraping noise, followed by the mewling of a cat. A compassionate man, James Robins made the decision that would cost him his life. He walked into the alley to find the cat that was in distress. He reached the midpoint of the alley and peered towards a box that seemed to be the source of the noise. He never saw the shadow rise behind him. He never saw the darkness that passed over him. He never had a chance to scream before his life was stolen from him in one fatal, brutal stroke. James Robins disappeared from the face of the earth and no one in his muggle world had the first inkling as to how or why.


***Author's Note: Next chapter may not be until tomorrow or Tuesday, depending on my schedule. I'm working on it.

Fans and Pans are both appreciated...help me out here....FEEDBACK


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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)

Last edited by USNAGator91; September 3rd, 2007 at 2:26 am.
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  #50  
Old September 3rd, 2007, 8:13 pm
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Re: A History of Magic: The Harry Potter Era

Chapter 51 – Motion

It was well after midnight when he arrived back to his home. Harry took in the familiar surroundings of his sitting room at Grimmauld Place and tried to be as silent as possible. He tip toed up the stairs to his room and wordlessly removed his clothing and put on a pair of shorts and a tee shirt. He turned towards the bed, his eyes barely making out the shape on the far side, moving in regular patterns. Harry took off his glasses and laid them on the bedside table. He lifted the bedcovering and slid his body slowly into the bed. Harry lay on his side, facing the bed’s other occupant. The form next to him continued its steady, rhythmic movement; Ginny had apparently not heard his arrival.

“You’re late.” Her voice was soft but clear, apparently his initial assessment was wrong. “Did everything go all right?” She turned to face him.

The dark of the night made it difficult to make out her features clearly, yet her face was bright and clear in his mind’s eye. He reached over and pushed hair from her face and he could feel her smile on him. “Everything’s fine. I had to go meet the new owners of Borgin and Burke’s.”

He played with her hair, stroking it back for her and caressing her forehead. She purred like a content kitten. He smiled, an electrical shock shot down his spine every time she did that.

“What about you? How did your day go? Is the Chudley win streak for real?” The Chudley Cannons had been on a tear of late, pushing through several teams and assuming the lead of their sectional.

“It looks that way. They meet up with some of the stronger teams in the League next month, so we’ll get a better idea then. Merlin save us from Ron if they actually win something.” Harry chuckled at that and reached a hand to his wife’s cheek.

“How are you feeling?” Harry’s hand reached to touch her stomach. She was only a little over a month into her pregnancy and had not yet begun to show. Nonetheless, a visible change was beginning to take hold. Her face seemed to glow and her smile was warmer. Her hair seemed a more brilliant shade of red and had a lot more life. Her body seemed more curvaceous, more alluring. In short, he found her more attractive, more beautiful than any other time he’d known her.

“I’m fine; I really don’t feel anything yet.” She placed her hand over the top of his. “Although, come to think of it, I am feeling a little strange.”

His heart checked at his throat. “What? What is it? Do you want me to get you to St. Mungo’s?”

“No, it’s not that at all. I’ve got this feeling; I don’t know.” He looked at her, concern emanating from his gaze. She smiled coyly, “You’re not sleepy, are you?”

Harry discovered another interesting change that came over women during pregnancy.

************************************************** ************************************************** ********

When he arrived at the Ministry the next morning, Harry didn’t feel as tired as he ought to. He bumped into Ron in the Floo entry area and the two walked together to the lifts that would bring them to the Office of Aurors.

“I’m telling you, Harry, it really wasn’t all that bad.” Ron was regaling his friend about the S.P.E.W. reception the previous evening. “Mrs. Burke was very interesting. She’s known some of the most famous wizards of recent times. I had a good time, really.”

“That’s good Ron. I’m glad to see that you weren’t bored.” He clapped Ron on the back and the two exited the lift. They entered the Office of Aurors and were met by its normal bustle as interdepartmental memos and owls intertwined with the general conversation and movement into and out of the room. Harry nodded towards Ron and the two made their way to their collective desks. Harry watched Ron greet Lachlan, his own team leader. Harry gave a wave to Lachlan and then went down the row of his own team to determine who had made it in.

Sarah Peebles was at her desk, furiously scribbling away at a parchment, finishing a report on something or another. She gave a silent wave to Harry and continued her labors. Next to her was Williamson, a veteran Auror whose actions during the Thicknesse regime were not quite accounted for. He had an affectation for scarlet robes which were remnant from a cross cultural exchange he’d participated in decades ago with the Russians. He sported long hair bound in a ponytail, but spoke rarely. He did not acknowledge Harry’s gaze.

Next to Williamson was Leonora Sigismund. She wore light blue robes adorned with stars and moons. She had bright platinum hair cut short into a bob. Her eyes were a deep blue while her lips were lush red. Her skin had an olive tone, belying a Mediterranean background. She was thin, but athletic and could more than hold her own in a fight. Leonora was usually very pleasant to be around. She had a quick wit and a quicker temper and Harry found himself trying to keep her emotions in check, especially around her more intemperate colleagues.

Speaking of intemperate colleagues, one such specimen filled the desk next to Leonora, Sean Manchester. Manchester was short, but solidly built. He had the rough hands of a longshoreman and his head was like a square block resting on top of a cinderblock. His voice was rough like gravel and he lurched rather than walked when he moved. His massive arms hung out to the side and seemingly would drag his hands on the ground were his elbows not bent. His face was marked with pits and scars the result of an illness when he was a child. He was generally not what Harry would consider a “people person” and Harry had to watch for Manchester whenever he interacted with others, especially Leonora, who Manchester took special pleasure in annoying.

The final two office spots were taken up by Carter Coombs and Monroe Burby. Both men had been in the same year at Hogwarts. Coombs had been a Gryffindor while Burby had been a Ravenclaw. Over the years, they’d worked out a relationship that complemented each others’ strengths and weaknesses. Coombs as the smaller of the two, slight of build. He wore his black hair short in a crew cut. He had a long, narrow nose upon which a thick pair of glasses sat, causing his brown eyes to magnify in the lenses. His robes were almost always in a state of disarray and he talked with shy, almost pronounced stutter. One other thing, he was probably the most capable fighter in the Office. His friend, Burby, was Coombs’ polar opposite. Burby was tall, well over six feet. His skin was dark bespeaking the West African background of his muggle parents. He wore his hair in a crew cut as well. His robes were tidy and he had a massive, brooding way about him that seemed ominous, menacing. He spoke in deep, resonant voice, but by nature was introspective and analytical. He was the details person of the duo and together, they were the most formidable team in the Office.

All in all, Harry had a functional team, one he was always a little intimidated by due to his own relative inexperience in the job. While he realized that he was world renowned for his exploits, he hadn’t quite seen how that translated to this colleagues and what their perception of his ability was. He decided to plug his way through, much like he’d survived through the years, and take things as they came to him. He sighed a bit and rose by his chair.

“All right, let me have everyone’s attention.” Six pairs of eyes drew towards where he was standing. “It looks like we’re caught up on the minor casework. Monroe, where are we on finding Arnold Paole?”

Monroe spoke up, his rich baritone filling the air, “It’s odd, Harry. He’s seemed to have just disappeared. I can’t explain it.” Burby’s brow was gnarled in frustration, the inability to explain the disappearance of their target not a comfortable position for someone of his intellect. “He’s always been a bit player, small time. He’s thrown covering spells our way that are radically advanced for his ability. I just can’t explain where he’s got to.”

Harry sympathized with his massive subordinate, he nodded his head. “Keep me updated on any changes. Sean, where are we with the Adam’s search?”

The squat Auror let out a porcine snort. “We’ll have him by tomorrow evening. He’s going to visit his girlfriend and a Hit Team will be there waiting for him.” He chuckled. “James Wray from the hit team is going to take polyjuice to look like the girlfriend.” He couldn’t hold back his enjoyment of the thought. The rest of the team joined in the humor.

Harry calmed them down after a while. “Good, that’s good. All right, it seems we’re caught up. I’d like us to keep an eye down Knockturn Alley. I made a visit to Borgin and Burke’s and something doesn’t feel right with this new owner. I can’t point to anything specific, but I’m feeling an itch.”

Williamson had seemed completely disinterested in the whole conversation up to this point. He rolled his eyes and whistled. “Harry, your itches always seem to lead to trouble. Sean and I will keep an eye on the place.” Williamson gave a glance to Manchester who offered him a noncommittal shrug.

“Thanks, I appreciate it.” Harry looked over his team. “That’s it, check the incoming board and make sure your paperwork is up to date.” A flurry of activity down the way, near Lachlan’s team, caught his attention. He dismissed his own team and walked over to Lachlan’s desk, raising an inquisitorial eye.

Lachlan smiled at him. “We’ve got a strange report of some muggles that have been murdered down in the West End. They were petrified and killed. The strange thing was that there’s no sign of an Unforgiveable Curse. Physically, their bodies are dried up, but there are no marks whatsoever. I’m taking my team down to take a look. It definitely looks like dark magic.”

Harry gave Lachlan a pat on the back wishing him luck, as Lachlan’s team began to file out. Harry saw Ron and walked over to him. Ron nodded his head to Harry while he collected his satchel.

“You want me to let Hermione know you’ll be running late?” Harry looked over at the time, dusk was rapidly approaching.

Ron shook his head, “No, she’s working late. Her and Mrs. Burke are meeting with some House-Elves from the West Country to see how they were enjoying their freedom.” Hermione had been instrumental in approaching families around Ottery St. Catchpole and Godric’s Hollow to collectively emancipate their House-Elves. The success had been extraordinary and now she was looking to build on that success.

“Fine then, keep your eyes open, Ron. This sounds big.” Harry shook Ron’s hand and watched as he and Lachlan’s team made their way out the door.

************************************************** ************************************************** **********

The crimson robes shone in the darkness as the man knelt in before the figure wearing them. His hunts were now being investigated, which had been the plan all along. He basked in the raw energy of the evil in front of him. All his years, he’d worried about pure blood versus mudblood and he’d wasted his time. Real power came from magic, dark magic that was used to its fullest potential. There were too many examples of the power of magic having no correlation to blood lines. The man was excited that his master recognized this as well. They were focused on power, and they would soon get it.

“You have done well.” The voice was low, barely a whisper. He coveted the slight praise, treasuring its infrequency, adoring its presence. “You know what to do next.”

“All is prepared. The Office of Aurors are acting exactly as you predicted. We will soon be in a position to undermine and dictate their every move.” He bowed low, enjoying the building laughter emanating from his patron. All was moving precisely according to plan.



***Author's Note: Sorry for the choppy previous chapter. I'm trying smooth out the information delivery.

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  #51  
Old September 4th, 2007, 2:16 pm
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Re: A History of Magic: The Harry Potter Era

Chapter 52 – Illusions

The rundown warehouse was made of century old brick, its front long deteriorated by time and neglect. Its windows were dark, marked with broken panes along its length. Lachlan’s team disapparated in a spear formation, arriving in the center of the open space. Dust flew in the air and a musty smell, like an old basement permeated the area. Lachlan took in the warehouse, his eyes adjusting to the darkness of the shadows. The room was old, worn with signs of periodic squatters around highlighted by the remains of fires and refuse scattered about. Lachlan’s eyes were drawn to the incongruous sight of a man in a three piece gray suit who affected a relaxed posture near one of the walls. The man had the appearance of a dandy, making a conscious effort to avoid touching any of the surfaces in the room. He held a monogrammed handkerchief to his nose and mouth as if the smell of the building’s decay were a deadly contagion. Lachlan led his team towards the man.

“My name is Hennessy. The Prime Minister asked that you be brought into this because of the unique nature of the crime.” He pointedly avoided Lachlan’s extended hand. “Our own constabulary is quite upset at being excluded from this investigation. Quite frankly, I don’t see the need to involve you people in this.” He emphasized “you people” with a special contempt and his nose was slightly raised to mark his attitude.

Lachlan snorted. “We’ll try to remain out of your way.” He extended his arm to his team, fanning them out. “However, if there is dark magic at play, you will be thankful for our intervention, I suspect.”

Hennessy made no acknowledgement of Lachlan’s statement. “You’ll find the victims in the basement. I trust you won’t linger here long. We can not afford an incident.”

“I understand, we’ll be gone before you know it.” Lachlan’s words fell on deaf ears. Hennessy had already turned and left without another word. Lachlan shook his head and pointed his team towards a nearby flight of stairs. They proceeded down the darkening stairs, the only sound the creak of the ancient timbers as their weight bore down. Ron was in the lead, his wand held high, a luminescent blue light highlighting the space. They descended to an open room. Long planks of wood dotted the ceiling. At the end of the room, there appeared to be five slabs of meat hanging from the rafters. As the group approached, the figures clarified into resolution. Ron made out the hanging figures to be the bodies of four men and a woman. They were bound and the ropes hung from hooks suspended from the ceiling.

Lachlan made his way forward noticing that the bodies were hanging upside down, feet raised towards the room, heads barely suspended above the floor. Their skin was gray, ashen and shriveled, revealing the contours of their skeletal structure. Their eyes were a solid black, as if their blood had filled the eyeballs, like a glass full of wine. Lachlan bent down and inspected the face of the nearest body. It was of a man, a working man by the looks of him, a plumber or electrician. His face was contorted in pain, rigor mortis freezing his last gasp of horror for posterity. His body looked empty, as if the total internal volume had been emptied, yet no visible signs of injury could be found. There were no marks and no cuts. Lachlan stroked his chin in thought.

“It’s like their life forces have been drained from them.” Ron’s declaration mirrored Lachlan’s thoughts. Lachlan looked on the floor directly below the bodies. There was no blood, no detritus. Lachlan motioned for Cavendish and Ron to approach and indicated for the rest of the team to spread out and conduct a thorough search of the surroundings. Ron and Cavendish moved up to the dead, unconsciously recoiling from the horror of the scene.

“It looks like they’ve been exsanguinated, yet I can’t find any sign of blood or puncture marks. This is odd.” Lachlan searched the surrounding area. Finally straightening his back, he reached into his bag and pulled out an old-fashioned kodachrome camera. He extended the accordion lens and handed the camera to Cavendish. “Take a few pictures. This camera has been charmed to create full three dimensional images. Make sure you get the bindings.”

Ron walked up to Lachlan, as Cavendish began to snap pictures of the hapless victims. “So, is this dark magic?”

Lachlan started up from his musings, “I wasn’t sure for a moment, but look at the bindings. They’re remnants from an Incarcerous Charm. I don’t know what killed these people, but a wizard definitely bound them. Whatever happened to them, there was magic involved and we’d better find out who’s behind it.”

***

Williamson and Manchester worked their way down Knockturn Alley. Their dress was disheveled, almost like vagrants. They blended with the normal traffic that surrounded the alley. Coming to a shrunken heads shop directly across from Borgin and Burke’s, they proceeded to secure seating in a run down café directly across from the shop. They ordered tankards of ale and kept a constant watch on the front door of Borgin and Burke’s.

The sun fell and the traffic dropped at their target. Williamson saw a flash of movement near the side of the building which drew his eye. He focused on the movement and caught sight of a person who should not be there. He nudged Manchester, pointing down the alley. Manchester did a double take and looked back into the open doorway at Burke’s. David Farrant was still firmly ensconced behind his display case, but the figure in the alley was still, frozen. Manchester looked at Williamson who nodded in agreement. Paying their tab, the pair rose and moved towards the alley. They kept their movements subtle, relying on their training in Stealth and Tracking to obscure their intent from the casual observer. They slid into the alley, each walking down a side, approaching the familiar figure at the end of the alley. Williamson peered at Manchester, who shrugged his head.

“Ma’am, are you alright?” The figure didn’t speak, but had a lost look on her face. “Why don’t you let us get you out of here, I’m sure your family would be worried about you.”

The woman spoke, her voice familiar to the pair, “Oh no, I’m perfectly fine and soon, so shall you both.” She smiled and raised her hand, her wand displayed, “Petrificus Totalus!” The spell reached from her wand and engulfed Williamson with its glare freezing him.

Manchester drew his wand, still shocked from who was attacking him. As he raised his arm, he was hit from behind by another paralyzing spell. As he fell, his eyes caught a glimpse of his attacker. A pair of dark eyes stared back at him, an evil smile on the face.

“Do not worry. Soon, everything will be perfect.” The man strode to his partner, who looked up at him with a blank face. “You’d better be moving along, my dear, before you are missed.” She nodded and walked out of the alley, her curls trailing smartly behind her.

The man turned towards the paralyzed Aurors, his face sneering. “You will thank me for this.” This time his smile was pure evil. Williamson tried to scream and realized his efforts were fruitless.

***

Burby and Coombs appeared suddenly at the hearth of a non-descript pub in Plymouth. It was near midnight and the Aurors found the place half filled patrons nursing their drinks. The two glanced at the bored bartender and walked out into the street. It was drizzly, overcast, the threat of a heavy storm lingering over the harbor. Their pace was brisk but unhurried, Coombs’ eyes searching like a falcon on the hunt. When they reached Pier Thirty, they found a quay with a warehouse sitting right atop the water, tall derricks reaching up into the night, their tops disappearing into the clouds.

“Are you sure this is the right place?” Coombs kept his scan going, his free hand on his wand, ready to strike at a moment’s notice.

Burby was lost in thought, his partner’s voice bringing him out of his reverie. “What? Yes, this is the place. Pier Thirty, Plymouth. Arnold Paole was seen out here. This is where he is holing up.”

Coombs snorted. They reached end of the pier, where they found a decrepit Liberty ship moored alongside the pilings. The paint had long since faded, rust the dominant color. There was a decaying gangway leading to the pier, but no sign of life about the decks or within. The two Aurors drew up to the bridge and walked up onto the quarterdeck. There was no sound, only the wind filing through the holes in the hull and superstructure. Coombs looked up to the bridge and caught sight of a flicker of light. He pointed to the light and led Burby up the external ladder to the bridge. Rounding the corner, they found themselves staring at the back of a man.

The man turned around. He was bald, almost fifty years old. He smiled revealing brown teeth and gaps where several were missing. He began to cackle and raised his hands in mock surrender.

“Arnold Paole. You are under arrest for practicing dark magic on muggles and wizards.” Coombs had his wand up pointed at Paole. He was unprepared for the stun charm that hit his partner full in the back. Whirling around, Coombs took the brunt of another stunning spell in his chest. He flew back onto an old binnacle which housed a broken compass rose. He fell to the floor, his eyes darkening. As he lost consciousness, he saw a flurry of long black hair and the glare of amber eyes, his attacker very familiar to him.

“No need to worry, Carter. All will be revealed soon enough.” The shock of knowing who’d ambushed him followed him into his slumber.

***

Ron walked into his home, the old pendulum clock reading a little after ten in the evening. The apartment was dark, save for a small light near the high backed chairs near the window. As his eyes adjusted to the darkness, he noticed that his wife, Hermione, was seated in one of the chairs.

“I didn’t see you there.” Ron smiled, grateful for her presence. “What are you doing sitting here in the dark?”

She seemed lost in thought, staring out the large wall of glass that faced out into the city. After a moment, she seemed to snap to reality and noticed him standing there, as if she hadn’t seen him come in.

“Oh, hi Ron, how was your day?” He looked at her, puzzled by her reaction. For as long as he could remember, her brain worked on a razor’s edge, quick and sharp. Today, she seemed preoccupied.

“Interesting. We had an interesting situation develop.” He was about to delve into the mystery surrounding the dead muggles, but she seemed to lose her focus again, retreating into the depths of her mind. “Hermione? Hermione!” She returned her focus back to him. “Is something wrong?”

She shook her head, more it seemed, to clear out the cobwebs, than to say no. “It’s nothing. I just had a bad day; we couldn’t get any movement on some of the more wealthy families and house-elf emancipation. We’re at a standstill.”

Ron was slightly perplexed. She looked at him as if she had more to say, as if something more was troubling her. He turned to hang his robes on a coat stand. When he turned around, she had moved directly behind him. He started, not expecting her to be so close to him, and not having heard her approach. He was delighted and his love for her radiated from his being. He reached a hand to hers, and she jumped a bit as if hit by a jolt of electricity. She turned her eyes down.

“What is it? What’s bothering you?” He searched her eyes, the conversation from New Year’s echoing in his brain. “I told you that I’m ready to have children, is that the problem?”

She returned his glance, a small smile on her lips. “No, really, I’m just so very tired.”

“We’ve both been working so hard. We’ve barely seen each other over the past couple of weeks.” Ron was trying to be empathetic. He tried to communicate how much he loved her. Her mind, her energy, her passion all seemed at low ebb. He’d never seen her like this. The pressure of the weight of the world seemed to hang over her.

She gave him a half smile, thankful for his effort. “You’re right.” Wearily, she turned and moved towards the bedroom. “I think I’m going to turn in.” Without even a look back, she walked into the bedroom and closed the door behind her. Ron stood, speechless, replaying the evening in his mind.

***

The next morning, Ron caught up with Harry in the corridor leading to the Office. Ron seemed frayed and worried and Harry stopped.

“Ron, you look a sight. Is something the matter?” Ron took a couple glances up and down the hall and lowered his voice.

“I don’t know, Harry. Hermione doesn’t seem herself. She seems distant.” Ron related last evening’s conversation and the commitment that they’d made to each other during the party at Hogwarts.

“I wouldn’t read too much into it, Ron. She’s been at the House-Elf Relations office for almost four years and has done more in that job than anyone else, ever.” Harry placed a reassuring hand on his friend’s shoulder. “The wear and tear of that effort has to get to you. Maybe she’s just hit a wall. All you can really do is be there for her.” Ron gave a sheepish grin, Harry’s thoughts echoing his own.

“I know, but I hate feeling this helpless. I wish there was something I could do for her.”

Harry chuckled. “I know what you mean, but Hermione isn’t some fragile damsel in distress. In a lot of ways, she’s stronger than the both of us combined. Give her some time, she’ll pull around.”

Ron was grateful for his friend’s advice. The two continued their walk into the Office. Harry gave Ron a wave and walked over to where his team’s cubicles were positioned. He threw his haversack down on his desk and pulled a parchment from his inbox.

“All right, everyone, updates?”

Williamson looked at Manchester than spoke in an even, monotone voice. “Nothing to report from Burgin and Burke’s. Everything was quiet last night.”

Harry nodded and turned towards Burby and Coombs. “Word has it that you guys had a line on Paole last night, anything?”

Burby’s low baritone echoed, “We thought we had a lead, but we missed him.”

Harry grunted and looked down at his sheet. “Right, I’ll go and update Dawlish.” Harry turned and walked towards the other side of the room.

He did not see the hard glances exchanged by Williamson, Manchester, Burby and Coombs. After a moment, the four turned away from each other and looked towards their desks. Their shared moment lost in the morning buzz of the Office.


***A/N: Ah, the plot thickens, I think. (Long maniacal laugh as I twist the end of my handlebar mustache)

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  #52  
Old September 4th, 2007, 8:54 pm
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Re: A History of Magic: The Harry Potter Era

Chapter 53 – “The Minister’s Acting Funny!”


Dawlish and Lachlan waited in the front office outside the massive oak door that housed the inner sanctum of the Minister of Magic. At length, the door opened and Percy Weasley came out, his arms full of scrolls and books, a harried look on his face. He smiled at the two familiar faces.

“He’s ready to see you. I’m sorry I took so long, affairs of state seem to be unending.” The two laughed and walked in the door. Kingsley Shacklebolt was seated behind a large wood desk that seemed to be carved out the stump of a gnarled tree. He was writing furiously and seemed engrossed in the task. The two friends moved to the front of the desk, not saying a word. The silence in the room was awkward; the only sound really was the scratch of quill on paper. After a long few moments, Dawlish cleared his throat.

“Ahem, Minister?”

Shacklebolt looked up, as if noticing their presence for the first time. His visage was empty, preoccupied.

“Ah, gentlemen. Please, sit.” He indicated the chairs in front of the desk. They shared a curious glance. “Sorry, the Wizengamot is considering a motion to emancipate all house-elves. I’ve just begun to review the legislation. What do you have for me?”

Dawlish looked at Lachlan, prodding him to start. “Well, Minister. It seems we have a bit of a Dark Arts mystery on our hands. The ramifications could be huge, considering the loss of life among muggles.” Lachlan related his findings from the warehouse. At times, Kingsley looked a little dazed and uninterested. When the senior Auror had finished presenting his facts, Kingsley took them in with a more serious gaze.

“That’s all you have?” Kingsley locked eyes with Lachlan causing the Auror to fidget a bit. “It seems to me that the evidence of any magical involvement is shaky, to say the least. Wouldn’t you think this is something for the muggle authorities? I would believe that the involvement of our Aurors would lend our community to greater exposure.”

Lachlan was stunned. Granted, he was working on a lot of conjecture, but he knew the signs of magic when he saw them. Shacklebolt had been one of the finest Aurors in his day, why couldn’t he make the connection?

Dawlish leaned forward in his chair. “Minister, I agree with Lachlan’s findings. There are distinct indications of magical involvement. The nature of the crimes is very troubling. We should delve deeper into this.”

Shacklebolt peered at both men, his brow furrowed. “I disagree, however, I’m not one to interfere with an ongoing investigation, especially when an Auror is chasing a hunch. However, I think you’ll find less nefarious reasoning behind these killings. We’re not even sure that they were murders. I expect your investigation to conclude as expeditiously as possible and then for this matter to turned over to the muggle authorities. Is that clear?” His gaze would brook no argument. “That is all, gentlemen.”

Their summary dismissal left them stunned. Rising, Dawlish tugged at Lachlan’s sleeve, leading him out of the office. They bumped into Percy on their way out.

“All done?” Percy’s demeanor was pleasant.

“Percy, is the Minister all right?” Dawlish looked back into the open office, catching sight of the Minister back to scratching away at his parchment.

“Of course he is, why?” Percy was genuinely perplexed.

Lachlan’s temper was rising to the surface. “The Minister’s acting funny.” Percy stepped back from the tirade and Dawlish laid a hand on his friend’s shoulder.

“He’s just been very busy. We’re coming to a head with the house-elf business. It’ll be the crowning achievement of his administration and a lot of names will be made. Hermione will be in very high standing, I should think.” Percy was proud of his sister-in-law, especially considering that the Weasley name was attached to the legislation.

“That must be it, good luck with that Percy.” Dawlish pulled Lachlan away and headed for the elevator bank.

***

Ginny walked up to the door in the non-descript apartment house. The door was labeled “Number 7” and was adorned with a brass knocker that was engraved with the Weasley name. Tapping the knocker, she waited a few minutes. When no one answered, she turned the knob and found the door unlocked.

“Hermione?” Ginny was greeted by silence. The blinds on the main windows were drawn casting dark shadows throughout the main room. Ginny looked around and saw the bedroom door ajar. Slowly, she moved toward the door and touched it open wider. A large, four-poster bed stood in the middle of the room. The bed covers were tangled and matted. Ginny noticed a bundled nest of brown hair nestled on a pillow and the form of her friend lying atop the covers.

“Hermione!” Ginny raised her voice and shook the sleeping form on the bed. Slowly, Hermione raised her head.

“Ginny? What are you doing here? What time is it?” Hermione looked at a nearby alarm clock and saw that it was around ten AM.

“It’s morning. What are doing still in bed?” Ginny moved and drew open the drapes covering the windows allowing the sun to firmly penetrate the room. Hermione recoiled a bit, wiping the sleep from her eyes.

“I took the day off. I’ve been on the go for so long; I hadn’t had a decent night’s sleep. Is something wrong?” Hermione bolted upright. “Did something happen to Ron?”

“No, Ron’s fine. I’ve come to check on you.” Ginny found herself tidying up some clothing that had fallen to the floor. “Ron’s been worried sick. He thinks that you’re mad at him or some such thing.”

“That’s rubbish! I’ve just been busy. We’re going to free the house-elves. All of them. I’ve been working days on end, that’s all.” Hermione rose from her bed, pointing Ginny towards the living room. Ginny walked into the living room and hesitated for a moment, feeling as if her friend’s eyes were boring into the back of Ginny’s skull. When Ginny turned, however, Hermione was not immediately behind her, but had moved to put on a bathrobe hanging from the door.

“Tea?” Hermione walked towards the kitchen while cinching up her robe.

“No thank you. I read somewhere that I have to watch what I drink. I’m eating and drinking for two, you know.” Ginny patted her stomach, which had still barely begun to show signs of her pregnancy.

Hermione beamed, her smile was warm and genuine. “Ron and I have decided to give it a go. I guess that’s why he’s so up in arms. I’ve been kind of drifting lately. We’ve had no time for…” She paused, blushing.

Ginny laughed, relieved that nothing was really the matter, except that her friend was still adjusting to married life to an Auror. Ginny could attest that routine things, like family and love could be seriously hampered when one is an Auror.

“Do me a favor?” Hermione looked up from her ministrations at the stove. “Can you please put Ron at ease? He’s been impossible lately. I’ve got to freshen up.”

Hermione pointed to a door near her bedroom. “Believe me; I’ll make this up to him. Everything will be perfect!” Ginny laughed and moved towards the bathroom. Hermione watched her friend disappear behind the door.

***

“Harry, would you join me and Lachlan in the conference room?” Dawlish called to Harry from a door leading off of the main floor of the Office. He handed a parchment to Williamson and moved off towards Dawlish, not noticing the stare the Auror gave his back.

A voice rang from the cubicle near him, “Manchester, what’s biting you? It’s been a whole week since you made fun of my knobby knees!” Leonora Sigismund was teasing Sean Manchester.

He smiled weakly, “You’ve gotten boring to make fun of, Leonora. Maybe it’s the long robes you wear to hide your scrawny legs?”

She laughed, “I was beginning to worry about you.” He shrugged his shoulders and glanced at Williamson, whose eyes were still locked on the closed conference room door.

“What gives, John?” Harry walked to the large round table that took up the bulk of the conference room. Dawlish shut the door and invited Harry to take a seat.

“Lachlan and I have been puzzling over the muggle murders he’s investigating. We’ve just come from the Minister and the meeting was less than satisfying.” Dawlish related their encounter with Shacklebolt.

“You think he’s been imperioused?” Harry was doubtful, but always gave the benefit of the doubt to his two friends.

“I don’t know.” Lachlan rose, pacing as the thought. “He’s not acting in a stupor or as if he’s under someone’s control. In all things, he’s been quite normal.”

“Except this.” Harry turned to Dawlish, who nodded.

“I want to try this.” Lachlan pulled out a pair of ordinary spectacles, which looked very much like the glasses that Harry was wearing. “They’re Extrico Imperium lenses. The wearer sees a red aura around anyone who is not in full control of their faculties.”

“We want to be unobtrusive about this, Harry.” Dawlish was working his hands through his hair.

“You want me to go see Kingsley with these on.” Harry made a statement, not a question. Lachlan nodded and handed the glasses to Harry. He took them and replaced his own glasses with them.

“I’ll be right back.” As Harry walked out of the conference room, he made his way to his desk. Williamson looked up, and rose.

Harry looked at Williamson and paused for a moment. Fixing a steady gaze on the Auror, Harry adjusted the glasses and smiled.

“I’ve got to run up the Minister’s office, can it wait?” Williamson nodded and Harry left the room.

About a half hour later, Harry returned to the conference room and handed the glasses back to Lachlan. “Nothing. There was no red aura, nothing.” Lachlan seemed disappointed.

“Still, that doesn’t hide the fact that something is not right.” The three dropped into chairs around the table.

“Let’s take a step back. Why don’t we go over what we have, from the beginning?” Harry motioned for Lachlan to step through his evidence.

Lachlan reviewed the findings, stepping through every element of the crime scene. He pulled the photos of the bodies and their bindings to illustrate why he was troubled. Harry mused over the pictures.

After a few minutes, a thought came to him. “What if we assume that your theory about a wizard being involved is correct? It seems to me that we have to get to the root of how these people were killed. Forget their kidnapping or incarcerations, what’s your instinct tell you about their condition?”

Lachlan was silent. He reviewed the withered state of the victims and the condition of their bodies. The ashen pallor cast by their lack of blood or organs resonated with him. “If I had to guess, without really looking for injury, I would say that they were killed by vampires.”

“Come on, Lachlan! Vampires? That’s absurd.” Dawlish was noncommittal in his retort; his response was knee jerk and not wholehearted.

Harry gave Lachlan’s theory some thought. An inkling of an idea was rattling around in the back of his head. “Why, Lachlan? As you said, there were no indications of physical injury. From what we know about vampires, their bite is pretty distinctive.”

“True, but we really don’t know a whole lot about them, do we?” Lachlan began to run down his mental catalog on vampires. “We know they’re dark creatures. We know that they prefer darkness, although we really haven’t confirmed whether sunlight is deadly. Garlic and mirrors can repel them and the only way to truly kill them is to drive a stake, preferably made of aspen, wild hawthorn or whitethorn in their hearts. They procreate through some sort of blood exchange and the only way to free their slaves is to kill the primary, the initiator of the family chain.”

“Can you imagine if we went to the Minister with this story?” Dawlish’s palms were sweating; the notion that vampires were loose in London was disconcerting, to say the least. “If you thought he was skeptical before, just wait until he hears this one. Besides, we still haven’t accounted for the magical elements of the crime.”

Lachlan was stumped. His theory’s major flaw was the magic employed on the victims and the noticeable lack of tell tale bites. He clamped his mouth tight, unable to respond. He looked at Harry, who was staring at the photos on the table. “What?”

“It’s nothing, really.” Harry’s mind was churning at an unbelievable pace. The nagging thought revealing itself to the front of his brain and exiting out of his mouth. “I was just thinking. For centuries we’ve considered vampires to be dark beasts, creatures of the night.” His thoughts drifted to his godson, Teddy and Teddy’s father, Remus. “But Remus Lupin was bitten by a werewolf and retained his wizard powers while still being a werewolf. What would happen if a vampire happened to be a wizard, or vice versa? What if a wizard happened to be a vampire?”

Lachlan stared at Harry for a moment, mouth agape. “I’ve never heard of such a thing, it’s unprecedented!”

“As you’ve said before, Lachlan, unprecedented is a term that I am intimately familiar with. So, back to the original question, what kind of power would a wizard vampire have? What would be the consequences?”

Lachlan stood mute. Dawlish let his head droop and raised a hand to his eyes. “The consequences would be deadly.” As one, their eyes dropped back to the haunting images on the table.


***A/N: Best be nice to Styphon, kiddies. I'd planned to hold this one until tomorrow, but he insisted that was cruel and unusual. While I'm not above torturing my readers, Styphon keeps hexing me, so I posted it. Enjoy.

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Old September 6th, 2007, 4:25 am
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Re: A History of Magic: The Harry Potter Era

Chapter 54 – Uncertainty and Betrayal

The man knelt before his benefactor, drinking in the anticipation of the moment. Everything was going as planned. He’d served others in pursuit of higher goals, but never for something so important, never for something so meaningful. He could feel the power coursing through his veins; he’d never felt this alive. He thought to himself, what good was power without being able to wield it for a good cause? He had a cause. He had several causes, all higher than he, all worthy of his attention and all, now, within his grasp.

His patron stood before him and smiled. He could sense his disciple’s nervous energy. “Rise, rise. We are beyond this, stand up.”

The man rose, pulling the hood from his head. The fiery red head of Percy Weasley revealed itself in the light permeating the room. “We are nearing our destination. The others are moving to gain our final recruits.”

“Good.” His patron walked forward, pulling his own hood away from his head. “You have done well. Soon we will be in a position to unify our brethren. Think of it, no pure-bloods, no mudbloods, no muggles. All united in purpose and in magic by one blood. There will be no more slavery and no more elitism, only one goal, to live in harmony.” Percy smiled, lost in the moment. In one fell swoop, he would be an instrument in the introduction of a new utopia for wizard kind. He looked up at his sponsor, and saw his own smile reflected in the twisted sneer of David Farrant.

“Finish the mission.” Percy bowed and walked out the door.

***

Sarah and Leonora walked down the main street in Hogsmeade, their strides purposeful, confident.

“Thanks for coming with me.” Sarah was scanning the storefront windows, searching their wares intently. “Lee’s birthday is coming up, and I have no idea what to get a man who makes gag gifts for a living.”

Leonora laughed, “I don’t know what help I’d be, but I had to get out of the Office. Our partners have been boring lately.” Sarah let out a giggle. She’d not been with the team long, but had noticed that the men in her team had been very focused of late. She had no idea whether this was normal, but apparently to Leonora, it was out of character.

Leonora was enjoying the walk, the brisk February air filling her lungs. As they passed the alley leading to the Hog’s Head, she thought she saw Williamson’s familiar black mane flash into the pub.

“Wait a second. I think that was Williamson.”

“Where?” Sarah tried to follow where Leonora’s gaze led. “I didn’t see him.”

“Over there, heading into the Hog’s Head. I thought he was watching Burgin and Burke’s.” She was curious, now. “Let’s go check it out, besides, Aberforth is kind of a jokester, maybe he has an idea of what to get your man.”

Sarah blushed a little, and agreed. They turned down the alley and walked down to the entrance to the Hog’s Head. Pulling the door open, they walked into the establishment. The room was dark and their eyes took a few seconds to adjust. The room was mostly empty, no sign of Aberforth Dumbledore’s presence. In the corner, a group of people, garbed in black and crimson robes were gathered around a table. The noise of their entrance caused the group to turn towards the pair.

“Sean?” Leonora recognized her dwarfish colleague. “What’s going on here? What are all of you doing here?”

“Leonora, um, you shouldn’t have come.” Manchester walked away from the table, joined by the group. Sarah glanced at the group, unease building in her as she recognized the faces.

Williamson, Burby and Coombs joined Manchester standing in front of the table. Sarah’s instincts were blaring. She did not know whether finding this group at a pub in mid day was a normal occurrence, but their body language was distinctly suspicious. Unnoticed, Sarah allowed her wand to drop from the sheath in her sleeve into her hand. She held her hand behind her leg.

“It isn’t what you think, Leonora.” Williamson stepped forward hands out. “We’re working for the future, for all of us.”

“What do you mean?” Leonora was definitely puzzled by the development. Her own instincts were numb. These were men she’d fought and bled with. They’d earned the benefit of the doubt. Her thoughts were processing the scene when the stun charm hit her in the chest. Using Williamson to shield his movements, Manchester was able to get a spell off against the unsuspecting Leonora.

Sarah moved quickly, her own shield charm arcing out and knocking the four closely standing figures to the floor. She dove to her left, dodging a return bolt that Coombs had fired while he was being knocked back.

“Reducto!” Sarah’s curse destroyed the ceiling beam near her antagonists. Wood and plaster poured down on them, and obscured her, for the moment from their sight. She spied the door, still wide open and close by. She saw Leonora’s prone form covered in dust, not moving. During her training, she’d been tested in simulated situations where she had to make quick decisions. In all of the tests, there were no right answers and no wrong answers, just decisions and consequences. Flee or fight? It was a primal question. In the second that it took to decide, the answer was abundantly clear. She would get her partner out of there. In the end, neither choice would have mattered. As she ran towards Leonora, a pair of figures appeared in the door.

“Stupefy!” The stun charm hit her square in the back. Sarah was propelled into the wall, her head slamming onto the surface. She fell down near Leonora’s unconscious form. The haze began to overcome her as she fell into darkness. She desperately had to see her attackers. She had to know who had beaten her. Standing in the door, Elizabeth Cavendish’s amber eyes were fixed on the person holding the extended wand. The shock of the figure that stunned her completed her journey into slumber. She mustered one final effort, giving voice to her shock and disappointment.

“Hermione!?!”

***

The sun’s last vestiges were disappearing in the western sky. Harry tugged on the collar of his overcoat as he made his way to the warehouse where the victims were found. He glanced around quickly, ensuring his solitude. Reaching into his bag, he withdrew his Cloak of Invisibility and donned it quickly. Assured of his concealment, he ducked into the warehouse through a broken slat in the door. He made his way down to the basement, wanting to get a view of the area for himself. As he made his way down the stairs, the sound of voices drifted across the room to his ears. He drew his wand and crept to the wall, easing his way to the figures at the end of the room.

“You’ve done well. Our numbers are now sufficient to complete our task.” Harry’s eyes widened as he recognized David Farrant’s face as the new owner of Burgin and Burke’s was addressing a group of robed figures, whose backs were to Harry.

“The first step will be the House-Elf Emancipation Act. We will be taking our first move to unifying the magical world.” Harry choked back a shout. Percy Weasley’s voice echoed in his brain. The evening’s surprises were just starting.

“The elimination of slavery in our society is a great thing.” Kingsley? Kingsley Shacklebolt was involved in this? What was going on here?

Williamson’s voice carried to Harry, another hammer blow to his psyche. “We have all the Aurors, save four. For some reason all attempts at enlightening Ron Weasley, John Dawlish and Lachlan McCrory have failed. We’ve been unable to get close to Potter. He has thwarted every attempt.”

Farrant stood for a moment. “What about his wife, your sister?” His gaze was fixed on Percy.

Percy smiled balefully, “For some reason, our enlightenment charm has had no effect on her, much like with Ron. I was hoping you could help us understand.”

“It is of no matter. We have the numbers we need, and when they see the good we are doing, they will come to the light of their own accord.” Farrant was troubled by their inability to turn the three most powerful obstacles in their path, Dawlish, Lachlan and Potter. Their magic, apparently, was not infallible.

“Anyway, we have to finish why we are here.” Farrant turned and led the group to the figures of four bound humans. All were unconscious, their clothes ragged and torn.

“There is no other way?” Harry’s stomach turned. Sarah was among them. “Must we do this to accomplish our task?”

Farrant smiled patiently, like a father guiding a learning child. “These are criminals. They are thieves and rapists. They prey on their own kind. Their blood will be for the greater good and they will stop causing suffering and they will stop their own suffering. I’m sorry, child, but this is necessary.”

“It’s all right, Sarah. We have all done this. It really is for the greater good. Think of all those souls we will free.” Harry stopped breathing, altogether. Hermione! Tears began to stream down his face. He crumpled into a ball along the wall, his legs no longer able to support his weight. The betrayal was complete. He looked over and saw his friend, his best friend’s wife, the only sister he’d ever had. Hermione stood erect, her long brown hair cascading down her shoulders. Her face was pale and she had a serene smile on her face. The smile was a contorted version of her normal, pleasant grin. The long, dagger-like teeth changing her face into something feral. All of them had the daggers. All of them were vampires.

Sarah nodded and pointed her wand to the four figures on the floor. “Levicorpus!” As one, the four bodies levitated by their ankles. Sarah cast a glance towards Farrant, who prodded her to continue.

“Vacuus Sanguinious Corpus!”

The bodies began to shrivel and shrink, as if the skin were being pulled taut against their skeletons. A bright ball of light began to form in the middle of the group. It began to expand and turn red, as if the blood from the bodies were filling the luminescent vessel, which is what exactly was happening.

Soon, the light stopped growing. Farrant stepped towards the ball and waved his wand, muttering in ancient tongue. The orb burst in a blast of light and sound, tendrils touching each of the assembled vampires, causing each to feel a nourishing energy build in their bodies. Farrant turned to a smiling Sarah and placed a hand on her shoulder.

“Well done.” She blushed at the praise. “We must go now. The time has come to make our move. Tomorrow night, we will announce our presence to the world. We have the event to do so and we have the numbers to make a difference. Now, return to your homes. Remember, keep silent!”

“What about Harry and Ron? I still don’t understand why we haven’t been able to help them see truth.” Hermione sounded distinctly like her old Hogwarts’ self, questioning the norm. This act of normalcy was the cruelest hit of all.

“Leave them alone. We don’t want to hurt them; we only want them to see the light. The Emancipation Announcement will give us that opportunity.” Somewhat mollified, Hermione joined the rest in a circle. As one, but to separate destinations, they apparated from the room.

Harry sat alone in the dark, his Cloak of Invisibility unable to mask the pain and hurt that he was suffering from. He had no idea where to start. He had no place to go. The tears streamed from his face. He had no idea if he had the strength or the will to stop them. How could he fight his friends? How could he help them return to their true selves? How could he heal their pain?

How in the world, would he be able to tell Ron?

The only answer available was the silence of the dead in the room.


***A/N: Okay, not the most uplifting chapter I've written, but as they say, it's always darkest before the dawn. Please forgive me.

As always, please let me have it HERE.


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Last edited by USNAGator91; September 6th, 2007 at 4:36 am.
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Old September 7th, 2007, 1:38 am
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Re: A History of Magic: The Harry Potter Era

Chapter 55 – Denial and Resolve

He had no idea of the passage of time. When he finally rose from his spot on the floor, he felt drained, all of his energy sapped by the depth of the loss he felt. Harry went out into the street. Removing his Cloak and stowing it in his bag, he wandered a bit, no clear direction and no real sense of what to do. His thoughts drifted to Hermione and the pain that Ron would go through when he learned the truth. Who to trust? The entire Ministry was compromised and it seemed everything hinged on the House-Elf Emancipation signing ceremony, which was scheduled for the following evening. He walked a few blocks, the full moon offering a lighted path down the deserted street. His head was down, the shock was wearing off and his mind was exploring a myriad of paths to follow. He stopped, his heart interjecting itself into his thinking. Ginny. The baby. His first job was to get them to safety. He couldn’t fight with them in danger. He pulled himself up and checked for any passers by. In a flash, he apparated home.

“Ginny!” He arrived home, the evening having settled into night. He ran up the stairs and into their bedroom. “Ginny!” His heart was racing, where was she? His eyes grew accustomed to the dark and focused on the bed.

“Wha-what? Harry? What is it, what’s wrong?” She stirred from the bed, sleep still offering confusion to her expression. His pulse slackened as he finally exhaled. She saw his face, its tear-streaked lines marking its features. His eyes were panicked and darting, as if he were worried, afraid and hurt at the same time. She’d never seen him in this state. She snapped to awareness.

“Harry? What’s happened? What’s wrong?” She rose and pulled him to her. He let himself go in a flurry of sobs, unable to talk. She held him. She was frightened, she couldn’t fathom what would put him in this state, but she knew he needed to release the fear, so she just held him.

After a moment, he settled and stood up straight. He guided her to the bed. “Sit down, I need to tell you something. It’s something horrible.” He told her everything. He related his experience in the warehouse and the events leading up to them. She took it quite well, for the most part. Her eyes began to water and she felt her own energy draining from her. Her brother and her best friend were part of a terrible conspiracy involving the darkest evil. Harry had left out a lot of the details, but what he told her shook her being to the core. As ever, though, her own inner strength overcame her fear.

“So, what are we going to do?” Her eyes blazed, she was determined. “Who can we trust?”

“I’ve been thinking about that. You seem to be immune to their influence, but we have to protect the baby. The first thing we have to do is get you somewhere safe.” Harry had moved to her dresser and was packing some things in a duffel bag.

“Where? The Burrow?” She hated the fact that he was right. It wasn’t just about them, anymore. They had to think about the life they’d created and the consequences of her safety.

He shook his head. “No, we can’t know who’s been affected or how long. Either Percy or Hermione may have gotten to your parents.”

“Where, then?”

He didn’t speak at first, making sure her belongings were secure. “Kreacher!”

The stooped house-elf flashed in being outside their door. “Yes, Master Harry?”

Harry didn’t bother to correct him. “Kreacher, I need your help. Ginny’s in great danger. Can you do something for me?”

“Of course, Master Harry, all you need do is ask.” Kreacher bowed low, confusion in his eyes.

“Please take Ginny to Hogwarts. Take her to Hagrid’s. The entire Ministry has been overrun by vampires. Trust no one but Hagrid and don’t let anyone near them. Will you do that for me? I don’t know who else to trust.”

Kreacher stood in stunned silence. The magnitude of the honor he’d been bestowed was almost more than he could bear, almost. “I will guard Mistress Ginny and the Potter child with my life.” His voice was solemn and his bearing was more erect, his duty more than any other he’d been charged with.

“I know you will, thank you Kreacher.” Harry turned to his wife and kissed her hard, grasping her in his arms. “I need you to do this, Ginny. I need to know you and the baby are safe. Hagrid and Kreacher will protect you.”

“I know, Harry. What will you do?” She was afraid for him. This wasn’t the simple task of defeating evil. He had to fight the people closest to him and he had to win. There was simply no other choice.

“I’m going to kill Farrant, and set them free. No matter what it takes.” His voice had an edge she’d recognized. It was his resolve to do his best, even unto death, to do what was right.

She kissed him back, her lips soft, reassuring, not conveying the sense that they were parting for the last time. He touched her stomach, almost in farewell to his unborn child. He looked at Kreacher, who stepped forward. The house-elf gently took hold of Ginny’s hand and nodded to Harry. In an instant, they were gone. Within minutes, so was Harry.

***

Harry entered the Office of Aurors more wary than he’d ever been. He surveyed the cubicles and did not see anyone about. He walked further back and spotted a familiar shock of red hair. Ron and Lachlan were seated together, reviewing some paperwork.

“Harry! What are you doing here so late?” Ron looked tired, the rigors of being the Auror on call wearing on him a bit, and perhaps the feeling that something was not quite right between him and his wife also hitting him. Harry felt a pang of guilt. Ron had no idea how wrong things were.

“Is Dawlish around?” Harry looked towards the Head Auror’s desk, it was empty.

“No, just me and the kid, here.” Ron snorted but noticed immediately, that Harry was not joining in the mood. Something was very wrong. Lachlan picked up on Harry’s mood as well. “What is it?”

Harry pulled on his Auror’s shield and held it in front of his face. “Dawlish!” He spoke the words clearly, directing them at the rotating comets and stars on the silver medallion. He beckoned his two friends to follow him into the training arena. Wordlessly, he drew them into one of the simulated buildings and waited. Before long, he heard his name and Dawlish appeared in the doorway, holding his own Auror’s shield. It was shining a brilliant gold with dark blue lettering stating, “Harry Potter, Training Arena.”

“What is it, Harry?” Dawlish walked towards them. “I was about to head home from Diagon Alley when I got your call.”

Harry looked at the three Aurors, all that were left of the team that Dawlish had meticulously rebuilt. “We’re in trouble.” The understatement of the century was followed by the most incredible and most horrible story ever told. His friends grew fearful and aghast. For a moment, no one spoke. What could be said? Finally, Ron broke the silence.

“Rubbish! Harry you’re wrong. You know Hermione. You know she could never do what you said she did.” Ron’s eyes blazed at his friend. Harry took a step back as it seemed that Ron was even ready to draw his wand. “You’re making it up! If she was a vampire, why hasn’t she turned me? Are you saying that I’m a vampire?”

“No, Ron. That’s just it, they were complaining that you and John were immune, for some reason. They were just as puzzled as I was. I have no idea why me and Lachlan haven’t turned.” Harry shrugged his shoulders.

“I do, to both counts.” They turned to face Lachlan, who had stood. “First, I’m a descendant of the great wizard and vampire hunter, Van Helsing. Our blood lines are immune to vampire takings. I had no idea that vampires could turn wizards and take blood in the way you describe, but it makes sense in a certain way. But if a vampiring wizard has enhanced magical abilities, it goes to mean that some of our weaknesses are there as well.”

“What do you mean?” Harry was intrigued.

“Come on, Harry, what’s the greatest power you’ve ever encountered. What has kept you alive, even after death?” Lachlan wasn’t impatient.

“Love.” Dawlish’s voice resonated. “It’s love. Hermione couldn’t turn Ron because her love for him made him immune. It’s the same reason that Elizabeth couldn’t turn me.”

“What about Ginny?” Harry was beginning to see the light.

“Well, Harry. She’s with child. There is a special kind of love that a mother has for a child. It surrounds them both and protects them together. Vampires can’t have babies in the way humans do. The concept of giving birth out of love is alien to them. You of all people should know how powerful a mother’s love for her child is.” Now Lachlan was definitely a little frustrated with Harry.

“You all have lost your bleeding minds! This is preposterous!” Ron was fuming, the implication that his wife was creature of the night was too much for him to process. Love also makes one blind. “I won’t hear anymore, I’m going home.”

Ron stormed for the door. “Ron, wait!” Harry chased after him. “Think about it, man!”

Harry caught up with his friend and stopped abruptly. Ron had drawn his wand and placed the point on the skin on Harry’s neck. “Don’t try to stop me, Harry. If you hurt her, I will kill you, am I clear?” Harry raised his hands and gave a small nod of his head. Ron turned and left the room.

“We’ve got to get out of here. We’ve got to prepare.” Lachlan grabbed Harry’s arm. Harry nodded, still watching the door where his friend had disappeared.

Dawlish joined them, “Where do we go? Everyone knows our haunts.”

“I know a place. Feel like a drink?” Lachlan smiled and led them out the door.

***

Ron huffed into his apartment. It was dark and he sped around the place looking for his wife. He searched the bedroom and saw no sight of her. Their house was empty. His heart raced, there was no way Harry could be right. The turning of the knob at the door announced her arrival.

“Oh, hello Ron. Did you just get home?” He nodded, unable to speak. “Good day at work?”

“S-sure. How about you? You’re out late.” He tried to be nonchalant, normal.

“Oh you know, the Emancipation is tomorrow. So many people will be enlightened, Ron. It’s so exciting.” For the first time in weeks, she was animated and excited. He hadn’t seen her that way about him or them. In fact, everything they’d wanted to do had been cast by the wayside for this crusade of hers.

“I’ll be glad when it’s over, then we’ll have more time together and we can go back to trying to have a baby.” He was hopeful, this was the trial balloon, maybe, after all, it was just the rigors of work.

“Come on, Ron! This is just the beginning. First it’s the house-elves, than goblins and maybe even we can stop all this pure-blood nonsense. There’s so much we have to do. I don’t know if I’m ever going to be ready to have a baby.” She smiled. “I’m turning in, you coming?”

“No, I have to go back to the Office.” She smiled and went into their room.

“I don’t know if I’m ever going to be ready to have a baby.” His heart broke. That wasn’t Hermione. They’d discussed this. After three years of marriage and a lifetime of experiences, having a family was all they’d wanted. A person doesn’t change like that. He stumbled out the door. His shoulders were limp, his head downcast. The truth had hit him like a sledge hammer. Harry had been right.

***

The only change to the Targe was the man behind the bar. With the death of Angus during Harry’s encounter with the Furies, the bar had been placed for sale. Lachlan had purchased the place and hired on a gruff, heavyset old woman named Mary. No one knew her full name, she was simply Mary. The Targe was no stranger to patrons drinking into the dawn hours and if the owner of the place wanted to sit with his friends, so be it. Lachlan, Harry and Dawlish nursed tankards of beer at a table, very near the place where Harry had first met Lachlan. Things were different then.

“So, what do we do?” Harry looked at his two companions. They were a trio against the world and the odds were grim. “Personally, I think Farrant is the key. We kill him and the rest are released.”

Lachlan nodded. “True, but remember, he’s got Merlin knows how many people. It won’t be easy, especially since we won’t want to hurt anyone to get to him.”

“We have no choice. They’ll only get stronger. There’ll be a lot of people there tonight, most of them not vampires. I think they’re using this opportunity to get to the most influential people.” Dawlish took a long pull at his drink.

“There’s one more thing. Even though we’re immune from this ‘enlightenment’, we can still be turned the conventional way, I think.” Harry looked at Lachlan. “They can bite us, Harry. Their bite can turn us.”

“Well then, we’d better make sure we get Farrant before that happens.” Harry was more afraid than before.

“One other thing.” Lachlan leveled his gaze at Dawlish. “You can’t hesitate. I know we don’t want to hurt them, but these are no longer the people you knew. You have to be ruthless, we can always heal the physical wounds. There is still something of our friends inside, else Farrant wouldn’t have to use this Emancipation pretense to keep them in line, but make no mistake, they will fight and we will have to fight back. Are you prepared to do that?”

Dawlish drew a deep breath. “I am.”

Lachlan turned to Harry who sighed. “I am.”

“I am, too.” They turned to the voice. Ron stood near the fireplace. He had on his black robe, his Auror talisman blazing bright silver. He had his wand in his hand and a bandolier around his chest with wooden staves inserted in the holders with their edges shaved to a point.

Harry didn’t smile. This wasn’t a happy time. He nodded to his friend and offered him a seat. Mary brought over another stein of ale and Ron took a deep pull. Now, they were four and that would have to be enough.


***A/N: I'm a little drained. The next chapter is titled "Civil War" and it should be a little like "King Takes Queen". I'm shooting for tomorrow, but I may take a tad bit longer.

Let me know what's going on HERE.


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Old September 7th, 2007, 9:16 pm
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Re: A History of Magic: The Harry Potter Era

Chapter 56 – Civil War

The main hall of the entry gallery to the Ministry of Magic had been transformed to host the gala. Balloons and streamers festooned the area and a raised dais with a podium had been erected near the large fountain in the center of the room. The three towering figures of a wizard, goblin and house-elf shadowed the podium offering a frame for the festivities. A large crowd milled in the open area. They were the best and brightest of wizarding Britain’s elite. Government functionaries mingled with industrialists. Rights advocates chatted up intellectuals. An air of anticipation covered gathering as well over two hundred beings noted a hallmark change in the world as they knew it.

“How little do they really know.” David Farrant allowed himself a brief grin. He made small talk with the other invitees around him, but his eyes scanned the room, making contact with the sixty or so converts he had intermixed with the crowd. He could not believe the progress he’d made and soon, he would be the de facto ruler of a new, powerful world. His heart, if he had one, would be racing with excitement. He was so close to victory. His eyes stopped on a monument in the corner of the room. It was erected to commemorate the victory over Voldemort. It displayed the figure of Harry Potter casting the spell that rebounded the Dark Lord’s killing curse and had brought victory. Harry Potter. He was the main obstacle to his total victory and no one had seen him in over thirty six hours. He knew Potter was plotting something. There was no sign of his wife and the other three seemingly immune Aurors. It was only a matter of time before they did something and he had to be ready. He motioned for Williamson to draw near.

“Any sign of Potter or the others?” Williamson gave a shake of his head. “We need to be ready, they may make a move and try to disrupt these proceedings.”

“We’re ready, the bulk of the Enlightened are distributed around the area. Once we have lifted the veil of ignorance, our numbers will have tripled.” Farrant nodded at Williamson’s report. They were as ready as ever.

A buzz began to make its way through the crowd. Kingsley Shacklebolt, followed closely by Percy Weasley, approached the podium and raised his hands for silence.

“Ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for coming here. This is an auspicious occasion, for today marks our entry into a new era. No longer will we have the stain of slavery and bigotry to mark our passage through time. No longer will one man hold himself above others in some fruitless search for advantage. When I sign this document, all house-elves in Britain will be free from bondage and equal members of our society.”

The crowd burst into thunderous applause. Kingsley removed a quill from his robes and leaned down to sign an impressive looking parchment. His movement was fluid, graceful and he whirled through the signature with little aplomb. When he finished, he handed the quill to a nearby house-elf who affixed his own mark. With a shake of the hands, the bargain was sealed. The roar of the crowd became deafening. Kingsley basked in their adoration, but after a moment, raised his hands once more.

“Many people put in tireless effort to make this day happen. I’d like to take time to thank these people. To my right is Gabney, the leader of the House-elf Coalition.” He paused as the crowd acknowledged the diminutive figure near Kingsley. “Hermione Weasley ran most of the groundwork.” More applause. “Kingslee Burke of S.P.E.W.” The applause was polite. “Percy Weasley.” More clapping. Kingsley worked his way down a list of functionaries who had worked on the project. As he drew to the end of his list, he cast his gaze towards Farrant.

“There is one man who was the true linchpin of this great achievement. David Farrant, please, come to the podium. Mr. Farrant was the man who helped us see the light and made it possible to move forward. Through his efforts, we were able to transcend the biases of the past and craft a new order of light. Without him, we would not be here, in a place where blood origins no longer matter. Where, after tonight, we are truly one people. David, a few words, please?”

Farrant feigned embarrassment as he approached the podium. So close. He could feel their eyes on him and he reveled in the attention. Soon now. He approached the dais and raised his hands in mock humility. After a moment, he began his speech.

Harry found it difficult to make his way through the crowd towards the speakers’ platform. Even though hidden under his cloak, he was playing a dangerous game of avoiding everyone. He took a circuitous route, slipping through gaps in the bodies working his way forward. While doing so, he was playing a dangerous game of vampire/no vampire. Who had been turned? He and his cohorts had deposited their shields behind the bar at the Targe. There would be no tracking them through that means. The fear gripped his body as he passed friends and family, all of whom he could not trust. He finally came to a spot near the fountain, behind the speakers and waited for the signal.

Three of the entry floos burst into a cloud of smoke and light marking the arrival of visitors to the Ministry. Eric Munch rose from the security desk and was promptly rewarded with a stun charm to his chest. The noise of the arrival and the sound of the attack drew the attention of the crowd. Standing line abreast, Lachlan, Dawlish and Ron strode into the main hall, wands raised and fire in their eyes. They didn’t hesitate, but strode confidently towards the gathering.

“David Farrant. You are under arrest!” Dawlish had no intention of arresting Farrant, but his voice carried and continued the distraction. Two of his Aurors separated from the crowd and smiled at Dawlish, trying to convince them of their benevolence. Ron struck them both with a shield charm and continued his walk.

Farrant gazed at their entry. “Stop them!” His minions moved towards the three interlopers, wands drawn, curses flying. Farrant gazed at the stunned onlookers who were unsure of what was happening. He raised his own wand, “Produxi Immortalis Cruentus!” A red light exploded across the room slamming into the assembled wizards. For a moment, their eyes glazed over then their front canines began to narrow and lengthen. Almost as one, the crowd turned towards the three embattled Aurors and moved to join the fray.

Harry knew that the moment had come. The odds had gotten significantly worse. He had to make a single desperate strike. He flung off his cloak and leapt into the waters of the fountain. He drew his wand in one hand and raised the stake in the other over his head. He made a headlong dash for the back of Farrant, who stood at the podium. Harry moved fast, any hint of his approach disguised by the pandemonium around him. He hopped on the platform and brought the stake down hard towards Farrant’s back, on his heart side. He nearly pulled it off. The stun charm lifted him bodily off the platform threw him to the side, into the far wall near the elevators. Harry rolled with the blow and jumped to his feet in one movement. His wand came up and he threw up a shield just as another spell impacted on its surface. Harry saw through the haze that he’d been thwarted by Hermione. She stood, side by side, with Cavendish and Sarah, covering Farrant’s back. Their faces were feral, their bestial incisors protruding in grins of pure hate.

The frontal assault was continuing. Lachlan and Dawlish had been driven to the left while Ron pressed his attack to the right. They relied mostly on their stunning and shield spells, but the weight of numbers would soon tell the difference. The three moved with amazing speed and grace, coordinating spells and evasions with practiced ease. Ron fought like a man possessed his anger and fear propelling the innate skill to a sharp edge. He rolled to avoid a spell cast by Coombs and sent Dean Thomas reeling across the floor. He destroyed a stanchion supporting a colorful banner, which brought the sign down onto a mass approaching at a run. He flung a shield charm at the Patil sisters who had been bearing down on him from the side. He didn’t stop his movement and dove headfirst for the floor and slid across the marble floor stopping behind a column to collect himself.

“Cover me!” Lachlan yelled at Dawlish, who nodded, moving into position to assist his friend. The older wizard moved with surprising agility and knocked more of their attackers away. He pointed his wand towards the towering statues over the fountain. His spell flew and slowly the large bronze figures began to move. They swept their massive arms through the crowd, sending bodies flying and giving the vampires another thing to worry about. Lachlan moved back to Dawlish’s side and engaged the Aurors pressing on their flank.

Ron had seen Harry’s flight across the room. As he peered around the column that was his temporary refuge, he saw his friend on his back, wand out, shield charm flying repelling the assault from the stage. Ron bolted from his cover and darted for the source of the attack.

“Stupefy!” His spell hit Cavendish in the side and sent her reeling into Sarah. Ron turned his wand towards the last figure hurling curses at Harry.

“Ron, help me!” Harry’s voice was insistent as other spells were making their way towards him. Ron stood still, his wand hand wavering, aimed at Hermione, who was continuing her assault on Harry’s shield. She turned her face towards her husband, her features had returned to their classic beautiful state. Her eyes bore right through Ron, tears streaming down her cheeks. Her face was haunted and stunning. He loved her so. He began to cry, openly. His teeth were clenched as he fought with himself. Ron straightened his wand and locked in on his wife.

“Harry! I can’t! Merlin, help me. I can’t do it.” Ron looked over to Harry and dropped his wand hand. Harry nodded. Ron never saw Percy’s stun charm him nor did he feel the darkness that overtook him.

They’d failed. Harry took out a small capsule and threw it against a wall nearby. A harsh, shrieking sound pierced the room. Dawlish and Lachlan heard the prearranged signal an bolted for the exit Floos. Within seconds, they were gone. Harry was not so lucky. He was the last of the assault force. He was holding his ground, but his will was failing. When Lachlan had departed, the animated statues had ceased their movements. Now, Harry had the full attention of the crowd. He fought on, flinging his friends to and fro. As the crowd began to close in on him, a sudden inky blackness covered the area. Harry felt hands on his shoulders that were pulling into one of the open elevators on the wall nearby. He couldn’t see anything, but he could hear the howls of frustration and the random casting of spells as his tormenters tried to pierce the shroud of the thrown Peruvian Blackness Powder. Harry let himself be carried away. He felt an arm cover his and then he felt the familiar feeling of apparition take hold. The Battle of the Ministry was over, and his side had lost.

He appeared in the familiar confines of Weasley’s Wheezes in Diagon Alley. He turned to his rescuer and saw the grim visage of Lee Jordan looking back at him. Nearby, he saw Dennis Creevey holding Cho Chang tightly. Lee had tears in his eyes but Harry also saw a building anger in Lee’s face.

“What the blazes is going on, Harry?” Lee was definitely angry, none of the happy go lucky character of the co-owner of a gag shop. “George was one of those things. I don’t know why I wasn’t changed, but I don’t like it at all.”

“It’s a long story, Lee, but we can’t stay here. It will only be a matter of time before they figure out who helped me and where you’d take me.” Lee raised his wand, as if attackers were outside the door. Harry put his hand over Lee’s wand. “Come on. We’ve go to go.” Harry led them to the stock room and gestured for the three to join hands. Harry grasped their hands and transported the quartet out of there. He only hoped that the others had been able to escape and make the rendezvous.

***

Ron woke with a start. He was laying on his back a hard, cold surface. It felt like rock. He tried to rise, but found he was secured tightly by bonds. He had a gag in mouth, rendering him completely unable to speak. When he opened his eyes, he saw that he was not at the Ministry, but in a large room, almost like a ballroom. He was on top of a massive stone table. Surrounding him were scores of the same people he had been fighting a little while before. His eyes found his brothers, George and Percy and he pleaded with them. They had content looks of peace, as if they were parents about to punish a recalcitrant child for his own good. The crowd parted and several people, led by David Farrant made their way to him.

“You and your friends have been very nettlesome.” Farrant’s smile was cold but hidden from the rest. “You only need see the light. We will help you see the light.” Ron’s mind raced and tried to figure out what was happening. “I don’t know why you have been so obstinate, Ron. Our method of distributing the truth has not had an affect on you. An old friend once said, the old-fashioned methods remain tried and true.” He opened his mouth, displaying his massive front fangs then he halted and turned to Hermione.

“Perhaps, your husband would be more comfortable learning the truth of the one blood from you?” He waved and arm towards Ron. Hermione nodded almost numbly. She turned towards Ron while her gentle features transformed into its vampiric form. She smiled and started the slow walk towards her husband’s bound form on the table. Despite the gag, Ron screamed.

***A/N: The next chapter will have more thrills and chills, oh and a resolution to the problem. Stay tuned for more.

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Old September 8th, 2007, 5:55 am
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Re: A History of Magic: The Harry Potter Era

Chapter 57 – Highgate Manor

“What the devil is going on?” Lee was infuriated and his eyes blazed at Harry. “Sarah was one of those things. She was a vampire.” Lee Jordan looked around The Targe. The small pub was empty save for Lachlan, Dawlish, Harry, Cho, Dennis and Lee. Lachlan had sent Mary home and shut the pub down. It was early morning and the sun had not yet risen for the sleepy town of Lochinver. Each of the six survivors of the Ministry encounter had made their way to the pub and were busily licking their wounds. Harry gave Lee a sympathetic look. He waited until his distraught friend settled down and filled him in on the situation. Needless to say, Lee took the news rather poorly.

“Why didn’t you tell anyone, Harry?” Lee rose from his seat and began to pace.

“Who could he tell, Lee? Who could he trust?” Dennis walked over to Lee and put a massive hand on his friend’s shoulder. “If Hermione could be turned, who could Harry trust? As far as he knew, any one of us could have been a vampire.” Dennis glanced at Cho who had a slight grin on her face. “What is it?”

“Considering what Harry told us, you must really love me, that’s how we survived.” Her grin became a smile showing her teeth.

Dennis blushed a little, but recovered quickly. “How do you know that it doesn’t mean that you love me? I’m pretty sure it works both ways.” That brought distinct coloring to Cho’s cheeks.

“Why don’t you two stuff it?” Lee was not in the mood to hear their chatter. “Everyone that we know is a dark creature and they’re getting more recruits as we sit here. We’ve got to do something, Harry.”

Dawlish and Lachlan moved to join the quartet at the bar. “Yes, we can’t stand pat, we need to do something.”

“There’s an old philosopher, Sun Tzu, who once said, when in death ground, attack.” Harry stood and looked each one in the eye. “We’re in death ground, there’s no where else to go. We attack.”

“Where? Do we go back to the Ministry?” Dennis put his arm around Cho. “They’ll be stronger there.”

“No, our target has never been all of the vampires. We have to go after Farrant. He’s the key.” Harry looked over at Dawlish and Lachlan. “Highgate Manor?”

Dawlish nodded. “Highgate Manor.”

When Harry had started his investigation of David Farrant, he was surprised to learn that Farrant had purchased an old mansion located on the grounds of Highgate Cemetery. The home had been empty for almost three hundred years. Its previous occupants had been a family of dark wizards who’d unleashed a firestorm of death and destruction on wizards and muggles. Their defeat had been costly and their home abandoned. Farrant’s purchase of the property was interesting to say the least.

Harry looked around at his friends. “We’ve got to try, we owe that to our friends.”

***

Hermione approached her husband’s bound form on the stone table. A pair of hands grabbed his head and turned it to expose his neck. She could see the veins pulsating as his fear pushed his blood through his body. She opened her mouth, the fangs of her mouth glaring white in the room. She leaned down and stared at Ron’s eyes. She took in the fear and trepidation. That was normal, but there was something else. She paused. She saw disappointment. Why was that there? Why was Ron disappointed? She looked deeper, he was disappointed in her. He did not want this.

“Go on, child.” She turned towards Farrant and nodded. She turned back towards Ron and again, she hesitated.

Finally, she pulled back. “I can’t. He doesn’t want this. It’s not right.”

“You’re helping him see the light.” Farrant came down to the table. “Don’t you want him to help us? Don’t you want him to help you?”

“Yes, but we’re doing this so everyone can be free, right? Even those who don’t want to be enlightened.” She stood and looked at Farrant.

“You’re right, of course.” Farrant approached her and smiled. “However, if we don’t have your husband with us, no one can be free. Don’t you worry, I’ll do this for you.” He nudged her aside and approached the table. He would not hesitate. He would take care of the Ron Weasley problem and Hermione would fall into place. Nothing could stop him now.

An entire wall exploded in fire and mortar just as he moved to bite Ron. The force of the blast floored the vampires that were in the room. Swooping in on brooms, Harry led his intrepid warriors into the open hall. They peeled apart and began to engage the seventy odd vampires in the room. Harry spotted Farrant rising from the floor near the stone table that held Ron’s bound form. Harry turned the nose of his Firebolt headed towards the pale wizard.

“Impedimentia!” Farrant raised his wand causing a wall to rise directly in Harry’s path. Too close to avoid the block, Harry’s broom shattered against the obstruction sending Harry’s body flying down to the floor. His body landed with a thud on the wooden floor throwing the air out of his lungs. He recovered enough to dodge a spell cast by Ernie Macmillan and rolled away from the onslaught of vampires heading his way. He rose to his feet and threw a shield to clear a path towards Farrant.

“Expelliarmus!” His wand flew from his hand. He turned to see Hermione aiming her wand at him. He spun around and saw that he was surrounded. George and Percy Weasley had their wands pointed in his direction. Harry looked to see if any of his companions were nearby. Lee, Cho and Dennis were being backed into a corner on the far side of the room. They were still fighting but too far to be of any help. Dawlish’s prone body was lying across a slab of masonry surrounded by ten unconscious foes. Lachlan was locked in a duel with Kingsley Shacklebolt and Leonora Sigismund. He was being pushed back and Harry could tell that he would not last much longer. Farrant walked towards him, a ring of wizarding vampires surrounding Harry.

“You’ve lost, Mr. Potter. You should save yourself any more harm and surrender.” Harry lowered his head and took a deep breath.

“I’m not in the habit of surrendering, especially to the likes of you.” Harry extended his arms in front of him with his palms out. “Protego!”

In almost all cases, wands are used to cast spells in order to ensure that any charm has the proper force and focus. There have been cases where wizards have been able to cast spells without wands, but for the most part, there really is no way to ensure accuracy or depth of power. There are some wizards, a small few, who could deliver powerful spells without wands. Tonight, Harry found out that he was one of them. His shield charm wasn’t focused, but in the close quarters he found himself, that was not a problem. The real story was the power of the spell that was delivered. Every one of the foes that had been standing in a semicircle around him had been literally thrown to the four corners of the room.

“Accio wand!” Harry’s wand flew to his hand. Although he could cast without a wand, he was much better with one and tonight he needed his wand. He dove to his right and ran at Farrant, who was groggily rising to his own feet.

“Expulso!” Farrant’s spell impacted on the floor beneath Harry, throwing his body in the air. Harry brought his legs together and somersaulted in the air towards Farrant. The vampire allowed himself a grin and he displayed his teeth to Harry. Farrant would have Potter now. He would turn Potter and there would be no limit to his power. Time slowed down as Harry’s transit towards Farrant drew to a close. The dark haired vampire reached his arms out and grabbed Harry in a remarkably strong grip. He pulled Harry down to him and leaned in to bite Harry’s neck. His teeth sank into Harry’s flesh and Harry yelled in pain.

Suddenly, Farrant stopped and drew back his mouth from Harry’s neck. He threw Harry down to the floor and staggered back staring at Harry’s bleeding form. His hands reached up to the object protruding from his chest and he stared at Harry in shock. When Farrant had gone for the bite, Harry had jabbed his wand directly into Farrant’s breast.

Farrant stumbled and fell to his knees. His skin began to dry and crumble into ash. He screamed until he lost his voice. His face froze in a mask of hatred and surprise while his legs and arms disappeared. His body slowly faded into dust and within moments, all that was left was Harry’s wand, sitting on top of a pile of silt. Harry walked slowly to the remains of David Farrant and picked up his wand. He had a hand over the wound in his neck and he glanced around the room. Lachlan was down on the other side of the room, seemingly unconscious, like Dawlish. Lee, Cho and Dennis walked up to Harry.

“Episkey.” Cho pointed her wand at the wound on Harry’s neck, immediately staunching the flow of blood.

“It’s over.” Lee looked around for Sarah. He saw her prone form lying on the ground near the stone table. He walked over to her and turned her body over, checking her for injury. As she rolled over, her eyes flew open and she hissed as her mouth opened exposing her sharp canines to her beloved. Lee stumbled backwards. “H-harry. Something’s wrong. They’re still vampires.”

They stood in a circle, their backs to each other as the stunned undead began to rouse from the impact of the battle. Harry was shocked. “How is this possible? We killed the alpha, the primary vampire.”

“Of course you didn’t.” The voice was vaguely familiar. “David was a loyal servant and I enjoyed his company, but he was never smart enough for this. All that has occurred has been based on my design.” A hooded figure appeared near the main doors. The new arrival’s robes were a fiery crimson which glowed in the light of the fires smoldering from the assault. “It’s unfortunate that he could not turn you, Harry Potter. You would have made a powerful servant.”

“Who are you?” Harry could not make out the face of their new enemy. “I’m no one’s servant.”

“You think you can best me or my children?” The alpha vampire spread its arms to encompass the rest of the now recovered vampires in the room. “You’re battered and bloody. You have no more energy to fight.” Small, withered hands removed the hood from the alpha’s head.

“Kirklees Burke?” Harry was stunned. The benefactor of the greatest humanitarian crusades in the world was most powerful vampire in Britain.

Her deep blue eyes absorbed his surprise. “You see, this is my house. I grew up here almost seven hundred years ago. I am the oldest of my kind.” Her eyes narrowed. “You have done much to impede my plans for this world. I may have to kill you to make an example of you.”

Harry’s body tensed and he raised his wand. “I won’t stop fighting, ever. Eventually, I will win.”

“My boy, you can not win. The essence of the one blood will triumph. Just think about what I will bring to the world. There will no longer be an issue of blood purity. No one will be a muggle or mudblood. I will bring unity to the magical world.”

“At what price?” Harry felt his anger rising. “How many have to die for this to be real? What about humans?”

“They are cattle. They exist to feed us.” She stepped forward, just beyond the door. “We are superior! We are the future. We are the powerful. Why can’t you see that?” She pointed at Harry. “You have power, but you never use it. I know how to use power. Power will make this world mine. Power will make us rulers over all. It is a new order and there is absolutely nothing you can do about…”

The front of her robe rose forward. The point of a shaft of wood tore through the fabric and became visible. Burke’s eyes grew wide with shock. She looked down at the wooden shard exposed on her chest. Her scream was piercing and her death was more turgid, more violent than Farrant’s. Her body writhed and quivered as bits of dried and desiccated flesh tore from her body. The skin disappeared from her body leaving an inhuman skeleton in its wake. Her voice was still ringing through the room when the bones of her skeleton exploded into nothingness.

The room was silent as the echoes of her screams reverberated throughout. Harry kept his wand up and pointed out towards the figures of their former foes. He looked for any sign of change.

“It worked!” Harry turned to Lee who was cradling a sobbing Sarah Peebles in his arms. “She’s back! Harry, she’s back!”

Harry’s gaze shifted to the stone table in the center of the shattered room. Hermione had freed Ron from his bindings and she had collapsed in a heap, crying in shame over what she had almost done. Ron sat up on the table, unsure of what he should do. His own face was a mask of shame and pain. This battle had been costly, in more than just physical pain. It would be a long time before they all recovered from this, if ever.

Harry turned back towards the remains of Kirklees Burke. He wanted to see who had saved them all. Coming from the shadows of the doorway, Ginny appeared holding the shattered remains of Harry’s Firebolt, which she’d used to impale Burke. Ginny was trailed by Hagrid and Kreacher, both with chagrined looks on their faces. Harry’s heart soared at seeing her, but his expression had an unspoken question. “What are you doing here?”

She smiled sheepishly. “Have you noticed that the bad guys always seem to talk too much? That woman simply would not shut up!” She looked down at the remains of Harry’s broom. “I guess we’re going to have to get you a new one.”

Harry laughed and took her in his arms. He kissed her hard and she smiled even more. For the moment, they were together and safe. He looked over at Hagrid and Kreacher. He would have to discuss some things with them later. He turned his eyes back towards his wife. Her eyes danced teasingly.

There would be time for introspection and reflection tomorrow. Thanks to Ginny, there would be a tomorrow and that was all that mattered.



***A/N: We have a lot to cover in the recovery from this. Ron and Hermione, especially have some healing to do. Just some tidbits. Sean Manchester and David Farrant were known as the men who discovered a vampire in the Highgate Cemetary (allegedly) in the 1970's. Manchester also purported to have evidence of the Nun of Kirklees, who was the vampiress who eventually killed Robin Hood (again, allegedly).

Moving back to lighter fare next, but never you worry, I have a different action arc in the works so don't get too comfortable.

We're 57 chapters into this and I'm really digging all your responses, so please, continue the FEEDBACK.


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Last edited by USNAGator91; September 8th, 2007 at 2:04 pm.
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Old September 10th, 2007, 2:55 pm
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Re: A History of Magic: The Harry Potter Era

Chapter 58 – Reconciliation

The sun rose in the eastern sky casting a soft pink glow across London. The warm bath of light caressed the large floor to ceiling windows of the apartment. Ron Weasley sat in his favorite oversized chair watching the birth of a new day make its appearance. Since he and Hermione had returned home, he’d sat in this position, unmoving. She’d gone into their room and neither had spoken. He sat up a bit and rubbed the rope burns on his wrists and unconsciously put a hand on the spot on his neck that only hours before was the place his wife had hesitated to place a bite. The events of the past few weeks caused a brief shudder. He took a second to glance at the closed door of his bedroom, wondering if he should go in and hold her but afraid of her response. A small part of him felt empty as if she’d betrayed him while the greater sum of his being felt guilty for holding the situation against her. As always, when confronted with great conflict in his emotions, he locked up. He couldn’t speak. For many years now, he’d relied on her strength and her presence to center him and now, she was the reason for his pain and indecision.

The bedroom was dark, all of the shades drawn. The dawn had no means of penetrating the gloomy interior of the room. The bed remained made, untouched. She was in the farthest corner of the room curled in a ball, hugging her own legs tightly. Her sobs had stopped hours earlier, her body completely empty of tears as she’d poured her emotion into the horror of what she’d done and almost done. She remembered everything and her actions shamed her. What scared her most was that she remembered the absolute certitude she felt in committing her actions. She recalled the absolute righteousness of her cause. She was freeing the house-elves and she felt she was doing an absolute good. During the night, she traced her actions and the betrayed faces that Sarah, Harry and Ron had frozen in her mind. Ron. He had tested her. The last night in the apartment, he’d asked her a simple question and she’d failed in the most complete way. She’d totally rebuked their life together in one sentence and now, only after the fact, she recalled the sadness in his eyes. Even the terror she saw when he was bound to the stone table could not compare to the abject sadness she saw when she told him she didn’t want to have a family with him. Even though she was cried out, new tears formed in her eyes and she began to rock back and forth.

Dawn had broken and the new morning had become reality. The full light of day was breaking and the bustle of the city below began to filter to his ears. Ron stood to his full height. He adjusted his ponytail and gazed out into the morning sky. There wasn’t a cloud to be seen. Spring was fast approaching and the first arrivals of the birds from their winter migration were making their appearance. He wanted to be angry, but try as he might, he really couldn’t bring himself to feel the rage. How different, really, was what happened to Hermione from when he left her and Harry during the quest for the Hallows? Actually, in his mind, his “betrayal” was more damaging, because he had done it of his own free will. Hermione was the victim, wasn’t she? The border of his mind was tinged in sadness and guilt. He loved her, that was for sure, but could they recover from this?

He walked the room, taking in the pictures and mementos of their life together. Here and there, he’d let out a small chuckle or a sigh as the memory of events past flowed past. He came to a picture of Tonks and Lupin. Ron’s mind settled on the image of their bodies lying together after the last battle. They were together, forever, bound by love and marriage. His eyes came to a picture of his niece, Victoire sitting with her mother and father. The image of Fleur’s undying love for Bill, even when Fenrir Greyback had bitten Bill, was vivid in Ron’s mind. It had not mattered one whit what had happened, Fleur was steadfast in her devotion. Incredibly, that was the memory that overpowered all of Ron’s thinking. All his life, he’d played the amiable fool. His friends and family knew better, but he always doubted himself. He always felt that he was playacting a role. He muddled through school and playing Quidditch. He always doubted whether he truly belonged. When he left Harry and Hermione in the woods during that fateful last year, it wasn’t because of frustration but because of doubt of his own ability. When he chose to become an Auror, he’d always thought that somehow he was barely making it, that some amazing turn of fate had allowed him the ability to continue. When Hermione had fell in love with him and married him, a small part of his mind always thought it was a fluke, that she’d made some mistake.

The thing of it is, Hermione never doubted him, ever. She always believed in him. She never played him for a clown or a fool. She never allowed him to feel that way. She was always there to bolster his spirits and to keep him on track. She was his center and now she needed him, more than ever. He’d told her all those years ago, that he’d never abandon her again. He wasn’t about to abandon her now. All thoughts of his own doubts and his own pain washed away in that instant. Right now, she needed him. He couldn’t imagine what she was going through and he felt like an absolute heel for being caught up in his own sorrow. His eye drifted to the bedroom door. Without a second thought, he walked to the door and slowly opened it.

She didn’t hear the door open, but felt the light hit the room as the sun’s rays drifted in the open jamb. She felt his presence in the room. She hazarded a careful glance at him, expecting to see anger or fear or, worse yet, disappointment. She saw none of that. He was smiling. She picked her head up from her arms and looked at him fully. He’d changed in the years they’d been together. His shoulders were broad and his body had filled in with muscle and mass. He was no longer the gangly, awkward teen who hunched over from his height advantage over his friends, now he was tall and lean. He’d let his hair grow down beyond shoulders and she loved the way he kept it pulled back into a ponytail using one of her ribbons to hold his hair together. His eyes were calm and reassuring, with a touch of worry as he moved toward her. He knelt next to her and placed a hand on her bare arm, causing a bolt of electricity to course through her body. Her eyes were streaming with tears and she tried to say something, anything to him.

“Ron, I…” What could she say? How could she take anything back?

He shushed her, gently, by putting a finger to her lips. Instead, he pulled her up and drew her into his chest, enveloping her in his arms. She buried her face into the warmth of his embrace and allowed him to support her, drawing strength into her legs from his love. Within seconds, they’d disappeared from room.

They arrived at the Burrow, his family home. He silently led her out of the courtyard to the outer wall. They walked together, hand in hand, out the gate into the surrounding countryside. The landscape was marked by pasture and rolling hills. The tops of the hills had the odd tree, but for the most part, the land was open and a vivid green. He walked to the top of one of the highest hills and stood beside an aging oak whose branches were just now budding, the promise of spring and a new life foretold on its extremities, just like it had done for countless decades before. Finally, he turned to face her.

“When I was a boy, this was my favorite place to go when I was home. With all of my brothers and my sister about, this was the only place where I could go that gave me a small amount of privacy.” He walked around the trunk of the tree. “I did this after our first year at Hogwarts. It was difficult; I had to do it by hand, no magic.”

He pointed to a spot on the tree, weathered by time, yet she could see the etching. The writing was crude, but the depth of the carving was demonstrable of the effort required to place it there. She peered closely and saw the writing.

“R.W. + H.G.” Her eyes widened when she considered when he’d said he done this.

“I’ve hoped for a long time, Hermione Granger Weasley, that our lives were destined to be together. I’ve always known that my life would never be complete without you.” She stood transfixed by his eyes, which burned with a fire of certainty. “I’ve always dreamt about us. Imagine my surprise when my dreams came true.”

Fresh tears burned her cheeks. He wasn’t railing at her and he didn’t seem hurt or sad, only resolved.

“It doesn’t matter what happened, not really. What’s important is that I have you back. I’m not whole without you.” He hesitated. “It’s never been about children or having a family. For me, it’s about us, and I don’t want to lose us. If you don’t want to have children, so be it. I would die if you didn’t want to have me.” His voice drew off and he cast his eyes downward.

“I’m sorry, Ron.” She placed a finger on his chin and raised his eyes to her. “I’m sorry I hurt you so much. I don’t know what to say.”

“You don’t have to say anything.” He chuckled a bit, his humor suddenly making its return. “I mean, you were taken over by an evil vampire. I think I can give you the benefit of the doubt, just this one time.” His eyes twinkled.

She smiled for the first time in a long time. ”I do want children. I want us to have a family, Ron.”

“Good, but there's time for that later. Are you alright? Do you want to talk about what happened?” His question was earnest. She saw the concern. She nodded. She was an analytical person. Normally, she could piece out puzzles by working them out, but the problem was about her, and frankly, she’d no idea how to be introspective. Here he was offering her a chance to have a shoulder to lean on and a way to analyze the events of the past few months. He smiled and drew his wand. He muttered a few words and one of the exposed roots of the tree expanded and transformed into a flat, bench-like construct. He took her hand and seated her on the branch. He reached into the inner folds of his robe and withdrew a handkerchief and dabbed it on her eyes.

Handing her the handkerchief he smiled. “Why don’t you tell me about it?” She drew up a breath and she told him everything.

They sat for hours, he listened while she spoke. Sometime during the discussion, he reached down and took her hand, gently caressing it as she worked her way through the horror she’d experienced and that she inflicted. He never wavered and held her eyes with his as she made her way through the tale. When she finished, they sat quietly.

After a while, he turned and looked at her. “That Burke woman used your compassion and your selflessness against you. You didn’t betray any one, Hermione. You had your best nature perverted in an evil way. I’m glad she’s dead.”

Hermione felt the warmth of his hand and the strength of his conviction. He stood and knelt next to her. “It’s going to be difficult for you. Even if our friends have forgiven you, you will feel the pain because you haven’t forgiven yourself. I’m going to be there with you, always. No matter how long or how difficult, I will be there with you.” He stood and pulled her up on her feet.

“I love you, Hermione.” His words were direct, his eyes were locked on hers and she felt them down to her soul.

“I love you too, Ron.” He smiled at her and leaned down and kissed her full. Their embrace was desperate and reassuring. They’d found each other again and realized, once more, that they belonged together.

When they separated, she wiped her eyes. “I was serious about what I said. I do want to have children.” A new sparkle came to her eyes and he finally noticed it.

“What? You mean, now?” She nodded, now the sparkle extended to the smile on her face. He smiled himself and pulled her to him, preparing to return them to their home.

“One thing, though, if I may?” He gave her a quizzical look, wondering what the condition would be. She gave a slight hesitation and the words came out in a little slowly. “Well, um, I was hoping…”

“What is it? Anything you want, you know that.” His response was a little quick and impatient.

She smiled. “Could you remove the garlic in your pockets and around your neck? It smells something fierce and it’s a myth anyway. Garlic doesn’t repel vampires, only lovers.”

He rolled his eyes. “Now you tell me. I’ve had a score of cloves on for the last two weeks.”

“I can tell.” They disapparated while laughing uncontrollably.


***A/N: Let the healing begin. We're going to build up to Baby James and some other things. I also have to lay the groundwork for some other things. It's all good.

Thanks for the great feedback, it helps. I got a little mushie this time, so let me know what you think.

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  #58  
Old September 10th, 2007, 9:59 pm
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Re: A History of Magic: The Harry Potter Era

Chapter 59 – “Why is everyone acting so strange?”

Spring was blossoming into its full beauty at the Burrow. It was the Sunday after the events at the Ministry and Highgate Manor and Molly Weasley was unsure if her weekly family outing was going to come off. Despite her doubts, she conducted her preparations with all the vigor and aplomb of her normal efforts. She’d owled everyone telling them that she was going to put on a spread and hoped that the family would be together, like usual. Molly and Arthur had missed the goings on at the Ministry, but a visit from Kingsley Shacklebolt was enough to shock and amaze the elder Weasleys as to the gravity of the situation. Molly’s first action was to go to Weasley’s Wheezes in Diagon Alley. The shop was closed and no sign of either Lee or George could be found. Nonplussed, Molly went to Percy’s apartment. She found him there, and after some great effort, got him to fill her in on the details, as he knew them.

Percy anticipated that he’d be shunned, as before, but Molly Weasley was a powerful woman. Most of all, she was a mother who saw her children suffering and she wouldn’t allow any of her kids the opportunity to wallow in guilt or sadness. She set about doing what she did best; she comforted Percy and he felt a small bit better, so much so, he agreed to come to Sunday Dinner. Her attempts to get to Ron and Hermione had been slightly better, but Ron let her know that he was comforting his wife and he needed some time to make things right. Ron also agreed to make Sunday Dinner.

When the sun crossed its midday line, Molly was working feverishly in her kitchen while having Arthur finish his task of erecting the pavilion. It was the first time since last fall that they could have the dinner outdoors and Molly was going to take full advantage of the opportunity. As Mr. Weasley finished the final preparations on the tent, the first of the extended Weasley clan began to arrive. Bill and Fleur came in with their precocious five year old daughter, Victoire. For a moment, little Victoire forgot her lady-like trappings and leapt into her grandfather’s arms.

“There’s my little princess!” Arthur adored the affection his granddaughter gave him and always had a bauble or trinket to give her. “Let me see if I remembered to get you something.” He reached into his pocket and rummaged around for a bit. “Ah, here it is!” He pulled out a tiny crystalline figure in the shape of a unicorn. Its facets captured the sunlight and reflected in a prism of color. The little girl’s eyes danced a beautiful shade of blue and she squealed in delight.

“Thank you ‘papa. It’s pretty!” She held up the piece to show her parents.

“No prettier than you are, my sweet!” Arthur kissed Victoire on the cheek and whirled her around helping her to chase the butterflies that had started to congregate in the courtyard. Bill and Fleur smiled at their daughter’s glee and turned to see Molly coming out of the house. Bill gave his wife a quick nod and went over to give his mother a hug.

“Any word from the others?” Molly gave slight shrug of the shoulders. “It’ll be difficult, but they’ll make it through. You raised a strong family, mum.”

Molly smiled at his gesture. A sound in the living room announced the arrival of more guests via the living room floo. She turned to see Andromeda Tonks and her grandson, Teddy Lupin, exit the house and come out into the garden. Andromeda was carrying several pies and Molly went to help her carry them into the house. Teddy stood for a moment surveying the grounds and planning his misadventures for the afternoon. He had just turned seven and struck a remarkable figure for someone his age. His hair was a dark shade of blue and his eyes blazed with mischief and curiosity. He was the king of his world and no one could knock him off of his hill. No one, that is, except one tow-headed fireball of a girl who had made him her own personal possession.

“Teddy!” His hair turned an odd shade of purple and red as he heard Victoire’s voice. In a snap, he was running towards a nearby orchard, pursued at full gallop by a smooch-faced blonde bombshell almost half his height. Fleur made to follow, but Bill touched her arm.

“It helps for her to work off some of that energy.” Bill winked and Fleur couldn’t help herself, she smiled with him. About that time, Harry and Ginny made their appearance and immediately moved to greet Bill, Fleur and the rest of the family.

“Where’s Teddy?” Harry asked Andromeda the whereabouts of his godson.

She smiled and pointed out towards the sound of wailing and screaming. “He’s saying hello to Victoire.” Harry laughed and looked around, hoping the others would come as well. Eventually, the rest of the family except Charlie who was engrossed in the hunt for a rare blue dragon egg he’d had reports of in the Mt. Ararat area of Turkey. Ron and Hermione made their way to the Burrow and quietly greeted the family, followed almost immediately by George who had none of his usual wit and charm about him. Percy came right after George and shyly made his way to the pavilion. Finally, Lee and Sarah arrived. Sarah studiously avoided everyone, especially Harry, unable to make eye contact with him. An immediate air of tension took hold of the gathering. The conversation was light but forced, intentionally ignoring any hint of the events that had rendered half the family walking undead. Molly ushered them to the table and had everyone sit.

Most of the affected avoided eye contact, their heads down. Harry was at a loss. Any attempt at starting up a conversation seemed to fall on deaf ears. He turned to Ginny, wondering how he could get through to the rest of them. She shrugged her shoulders and had no answer for him. The feast that lay out before them was the most sumptuous, most extravagant that Molly Weasley had ever prepared, yet they mechanically made their way through the food with little enthusiasm. George Weasley was poking at layer of mash potatoes with his fork. His head was down as he studiously avoided looking at Lee and Sarah. In doing so, he failed to see the perfectly made chocolate crème pie that sailed in a perfect arc and landed precisely on the top of his head and splattered on his face and on Lee and Sarah, who were sitting in close proximity to him. Slowly wiping the smooth chocolate filling from his eyes he looked up to see who’d thrown the dessert.

“Gotcha, Uncle George!” Teddy’s hair was a brilliant shade of aqua, a self-satisfied color because he’d made that pie with his grandmother for just this occasion. George had long been trying to torment the young lad, and he’d resolved himself to get even. Teddy looked around, expecting a rebuke. Instead, the table was dead silent. “Hey, why is everyone acting so strange?”

Why indeed, thought Harry. Teddy looked around the table and figured that he’d gotten away with his gag. He was so wrong. Ginny took up a spoonful of mashed potatoes which went flying in a perfect strike to the side of Teddy’s face. The smug smirk on Ginny’s face was immediately wiped out by slab of roast beef that landed on her cheeks. She whirled and saw that the culprit had been her own mother, who was busily hurling peas and shepherd’s pie at Arthur and Bill. The food fight was on, joined in earnest by George, Lee and Sarah who formed a triangle of culinary sharpshooters taking aim at Hermione and Ron at the far side of the table. Soon the entire pavilion was a panoply food and drinks being tossed this way and that and covering everything. Ever the lady, Victoire Weasley stood outside the tent, calmly petting her grandfather’s owl and tut-tutting at every wayward morsel that was thrown. Soon, when every scrap had been expended, and every party-goer was covered in every morsel available, the scene burst into uncontrollable fits of laughter. Each member of the family was holding onto another and enjoying the side-splitting guffaws of their catharsis.

Molly Weasley stood up and gathered herself as best as she could. Wiping a smattering of baked beans from her eye and tossing a piece of pasta from her hair, she stood, dignified and raised her hands. “We are a family. It doesn’t matter what we’ve been through, or what has happened, we are always there for each other.” She looked around at the mottled faces of her assembled loved ones. “We need each other now, more than ever, and I hope we all can recognize that, now.” She received a round of applause. They broke into groups as each person went and said the words to others that had been lacking just minutes before.

“I’m sorry, Lee.” George reached out a hand to his friend. George looked over to Sarah. “Go easy on her, it was difficult to live through, you have no idea what it was like to have your body do things your mind knew were wrong.” Sarah nodded and reached a hand out to Lee.

Lee Jordan had already forgiven them. He was not, by nature, a vindictive man. “I know. We’ll all be fine.” He gave Sarah and quick peck on the lips and a promising wink. “Besides, when we get the shop reopened, I have a fantastic idea.” Lee spread his arms out. “We need a line of food fight favors!” George beamed, it was a capital idea.

Percy made his way over to Ron. “I’m sorry I stunned you, back in the Ministry.” Ron blushed a bit, waving his brother off.

“It’s over Percy, we won and you’re back to normal.” Ron gave his brother a big, gooey hug, rubbing more mashed potato into his head. “Besides, it was quite a thing to see you and Hermione agreeing on anything.” Percy laughed at his brother and winked over at Hermione.

“Don’t you want to clean some of that off, Teddy?” Harry walked over to his godson and pulled a bit of celery out his now green hair. Teddy shook his head vehemently. “Why not?” Teddy nodded over to the tent where little Victoire was lecturing the owl next to her.

“…And if that Teddy Lupin thinks that I’m going to go anywhere near him when he’s covered in food, he’s got another thought coming to him…” Victoire’s nose was raised in the air. Teddy looked at Harry and grinned, his hair becoming a definite shade of pink.

Harry walked over and sat next to Ginny. He put a gravy coated arm around her shoulders and watched the healing overcoming the family. They would be fine. Ginny started and for a second, Harry thought something had scared her. She smiled at him and grabbed his arm and put his hand on her stomach. He felt a slight bump against his hand, unsure that he was feeling what he felt. He looked at her, his eyes wide.

“The baby’s moving!” she confirmed. It was magical, barely believable. He felt the small tremor, once more and it sent shivers down his spine. He reached over and kissed her again and laughed at the sensation.

Molly and Arthur watched their family get back to normal and enjoyed the inherent lunacy of a Weasley family gathering. “What ever possessed Teddy to whack George like that?” Molly grinned at Teddy, giving him a wink.

“Who knows, dear? George has been teasing him for so long. He is Remus and Tonks’ son, maybe he just had had enough of it?” Arthur gave her a pull on the shoulders and peck on the cheek. Molly wandered off to get the family going on the clean up.

Arthur was surprisingly untouched by the “festivities” and walked silently out of the pavilion and out into the courtyard. “Uncle Arthur?” He turned to the voice and spotted Teddy Lupin following him out of the tent. “Did I do all right? I did what you told me to do.”

Arthur placed a reassuring hand on Teddy’s cleaned up face and mussed his hair. “Yes, my boy, you did just fine. You did exactly what I asked.”

“That was fun; will we be able to do it again?” Teddy was already trying to figure out what George would look like with a chocolate cake crown.

“No, I think your Aunt Molly wouldn’t take to that to well.” Arthur knelt down and looked Teddy in the eye. “In fact, why don’t we just keep this to ourselves? We may need to try it again someday.” Teddy gave Arthur a quick conspiratorial grin.

The two instigators of the Great Weasley Food Fight walked off to the western wall to watch the sun set and share in their success.



***A/N: Nothing, and I mean nothing is better for the soul than a good food fight. I learned that from the esteemed Senator Blutarsky, Faber University '64, Delta House. (Those that know what I'm talking about, God Bless You)

In the words of Sen. Blutarsky..."FOOD FIGHT! (and Feedback)"

"Fat, Drunk and Stupid is no way to go through life, son."


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  #59  
Old September 11th, 2007, 7:58 pm
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Re: A History of Magic: The Harry Potter Era

Chapter 60 – Remembrances


The arrival of spring coincided with the recovery of not only the Weasleys and their extended family, but with the general recovery of everyone involved. Kingsley Shacklebolt and his administration were under a considerable amount of scrutiny and criticism for allowing dark forces to insinuate themselves so deeply into the fabric of the government, but the effect was blunted by the implementation of the House-Elf Emancipation Act and by the vociferous support of Harry Potter on Kingsley’s behalf. The Office of Aurors was in a state of disarray, considering that the majority of its members had been turned, but Dawlish, Lachlan and Harry had made the Office’s recovery their primary mission. As May came around, Harry was fully engaged in bringing his team back to its fighting trim, but also, Harry was keeping a weather eye on his wife as she entered the last trimester of her pregnancy.

Harry sat at his desk reading over some dispatches that had arrived via interoffice memorandum. He heard the flutter of wings and saw Helios, his golden owl, preening himself on the cubicle wall. Harry took a treat out of his desk drawer and tossed it to the majestic owl and pulled the message affixed to his leg. Giving Helios a brief pat on the head, Harry unrolled the parchment and immediately recognized Ginny’s handwriting. He scanned over the contents of the message while his brow furrowed. As he moved to the end of the message, he allowed himself a little smile and rolled the message back up, then placed it in one of the inner pockets of his robe.

“What’s that, then?” Ron had walked up from his own desk located in the adjacent row to Harry’s.

“Not much, really, just a message from Ginny. She went to see the midwife and everything is fine with the baby.” Harry stood from his chair and pushed it under his desk.

Child delivery in the wizarding world was conducted, for the most part, under the guidance of a midwife. These were older or retired healers whose sole function was to assist expectant mothers with birth of their newborns. St. Mungo’s Hospital usually reserved itself for trauma treatment, and was not normally a facility designed with prenatal and obstetric care in mind. The midwife was usually consulted at the beginning of the first trimester of the mother-to-be’s term in order to determine a good course of prenatal care and delivery preparation. Ginny was due sometime in July and her visits from the midwife were scheduled weekly.

Ron gave a smile, “So, have you two picked a name? I hear Ronald is a popular choice.” Harry chuckled.

“We’re having a bit of a disagreement on this one. Ginny likes James and I’m partial to Arthur, if it’s a boy.” Harry tidied up the papers on his desk. “If it’s a girl, we’re both pretty set on Lily.”

“What? No Ronald, at all?” Ron teased his friend.

“Well, everyone knows that my favorite Weasley son is Percy, but he already asked us not to consider that name.” Ron gave a mock look of hurt.

“So, it’s been six years, are you going to the memorial?” The weekend would mark the sixth anniversary of the Battle of Hogwarts. Every year subsequently had been marked by a memorial on the grounds of the school near a grand memorial that had been erected near the cemetery for those lost in the fight with Voldemort.

“Of course I will. It’s sad, though.” Ron nodded his head in understanding. The turnout on the first anniversary of the Battle had been extraordinary, but each succeeding year had seen a noticeable drop in the attendance. Last year, it had only been the immediate friends and family of those lost. This year they expected the numbers to drop even further. Such was the nature of free societies when a crisis passes. The freedom to choose also causes very short term memories as to the sacrifices made to secure that freedom. Harry and Ron knew that the trend would only continue, until the arrival of the next dark lord.

“Listen, I’m meeting my team in the training arena. I’ll see you later?” Ron gave a wave and Harry walked out of the office area. Harry went down the main corridor and stopped at the door to the training arena. He adjusted his robes and walked into the massive, high ceiling chamber. Normally, the arena contained several mock ups of buildings and streets, but today it was an open space, like the bottom of a Quidditch pitch with several blocks and boxes laid about, like obstacles. The room was dark, the ceilings a dark purple with accent lighting dotted around the periphery of the moldings. Harry walked in purposefully and strode to where his team had gathered. They weren’t talking and none, save for Sarah, had looked at him since he’d entered the space. They milled about and avoided each other. Sarah stood with her shoulders back and head held high. Manchester and Williamson sat on boxes at the far end of the group. Leonora Sigismund milled around aimlessly and walked to avoid colleagues. Carter Coombs stood rigidly, his fingers twirling his wand in a variety of patterns, almost like a nervous tic. Monroe Burby sat idly, his massive size dwarfing his fidgeting partner, Coombs, while he crossed his arms and inspected a dust mite on his sleeve. The tension was palpable in the room, despite its openness.

Harry walked down to the arena floor and scanned each of their faces. Their guilt and regret for their roles during the vampire crisis were etched in great detail. Harry felt a momentary pang of empathy for them, but he also knew that for his team to retrieve its edge, a food fight was probably out of the question. He allowed a brief smile to cross his lips which buried into a scowl. With professionals such as these, the only real way to restore their confidence was to focus on the work. He’d read each of their reports on the events and Harry figured he had the way to bring them back.

“I can’t tell you all how disappointed I am in you. You should all be ashamed of your performance!” Harry’s voice grew in volume as he continued. “I’ve never seen such a poor display from Aurors in my life.” They all looked up. Sarah had a puzzled look on her face; this was definitely not the pep speech she’d been expecting. The others recoiled in shock, not expecting their normally fair minded leader to chastise them.

Williamson stood up. “It’s my fault, Harry. I led the rest in becoming vampires. I converted most of them. I should have been able to resist. You’ll have my resignation within the hour.” The crimson clad Auror dropped his head.

Harry didn’t let up. “Williamson, do you really think this is about you becoming vampires?” Harry stared down the veteran Auror. “What I’m talking about is how shoddy your performance was during this whole time.” Harry pointed to Williamson and Manchester, then to Coombs and Burby. “You four allowed Sarah over here,” Harry pointed to where Sarah stood. “to incapacitate you with a single blast charm.” The four Aurors recalled their fight to overpower Leonora and Sarah at the Hog’s Head. Sarah had destroyed one of the overhead beams which covered them in debris and effectively removed them from the fight.

“Leonora! At that same fight, you hesitated, even though you knew that the presence of your teammates was out of sorts. You let them get the drop on you!” Harry’s face was beginning to color as he really was becoming angry at their performance. “Sarah, why didn’t you attempt to escape at the Hog’s Head?”

“I made a judgment call, Harry. I was trying to save Leonora.” Sarah stumbled a bit, but was confident in her decision.

“Your first duty was to all of us. You should have made an attempt to escape and warn the rest of us. Your decision resulted in both of you being turned, not just Leonora.” Sarah’s head dropped as well.

“During the battles we fought, at no time did my side have more than six people and no more than four Aurors and yet you all failed to take us down.” Harry’s eyes lit up and burned into them. “In the Ministry, there should have been no way for the four of us to do the damage we did or to escape. That was a horrible performance.” Harry placed his hands on his hips and his tone softened. “I blame myself, really.” That drew surprised glances from his team. “I’ve been too easy on you all. I’ve neglected your training, allowed you to get soft. Well, I intend to remedy that situation. We are going to work harder, train more often and we will hone your skills to a fine edge.” Harry slowly drew his wand and took a defensive stance while whispering a stun charm. “I think we’ll start your training right, about, now.”

Harry watched them enter the office area. They were tired and frustrated. Their faces were animated as they discussed the session and went over strategies to combat the beating they had just taken from Harry. He allowed himself a smile. They were fixated on becoming better and he saw no evidence of the guilt or remorse that had been present before. Their own healing had begun.

***

They chose a perfect day to hold the memorial service. The sun was high in a deep blue sky, not a cloud in sight. Hogwarts was turned out in its finest regalia, the student body drawn up together, no houses, no class distinction, much like the students who’d fought against Voldemort. Tiers of seating were arrayed before the large monument that marked the entrance to the cemetery that held the slain from the battle. Seated were the survivors of the battle and families of the fallen. On the whole, it appeared to be an impressive gathering, but Harry knew better. Missing were the beneficiaries of the losses. The people who did not fight or did not sacrifice a love one were no longer attending the ceremony. Their lives had moved on and their memories had become lost. Only those personally affected seemed to remember the battle that was fought and they sat among themselves, keeping the memory insular.

Harry glanced around and saw the survivors of Dumbledore’s Army drawn up, all attending and all remembering their fallen. Dennis Creevey sat with his father near him and Cho on his side while he stared past the monument to the marker that identified the place where his brother was laid to rest. Harry sat with the Weasleys, his hand in Ginny’s while Molly and Arthur kept their own counsel, sharing their thoughts of Fred and his sacrifice. Andromeda Tonks sat with Teddy. She allowed a small tear to escape her eyes, but kept a surreptitious watch on her grandson. Teddy had attended every memorial, but this year was different. This year, he truly understood why he was here. He wore a black suit, with a white shirt and black tie. His hair was jet-black to reflect the occasion. He sat straight, his eyes focused on the eternal flame of the main monument, but straying every so often to the pair of grave markers beyond that sat together; the final resting place of his parents.

Neville Longbottom walked to the podium erected in front of the monument. It was an obelisk crafted from the finest white marble capped with a crystalline jewel which refracted the sunlight in a myriad of colors. Its sides were smooth, only marked with the carving of a large lightning bolt that was filled in gold. The monument framed Neville’s figure. Harry noticed that Neville stood tall, his shoulders wide and he approached the lectern with a confidence that he’d not had while a student. He was a teacher now, and his stature among the student body was growing every day. He placed a set of notes on the platform before him, but he never seemed to look down, the occasion perfect for extemporaneous reflection.

“Six years ago, we fought. The battle had been joined for many years and over time, had cost us many friends and family, but six years ago, this school and these people at rest behind me took up arms in a great cause.” He paused and surveyed the gathering. “We are all that remain to remember them, but it is of no matter, really. It is the nature of free societies that a special few fight and die for the liberty of the masses. That is what we must always remember.”

Neville hesitated, the weight of the memories bowing his shoulders slightly. He fought the sadness of the loss of his parents to madness and he tried to rein in the tightness in his chest over the deaths of that night, six years ago. His head dropped a bit, and the familiar shyness began to rear its ugly head. He felt a hand on his back, light but reassuring. He looked to his side and saw that Luna Lovegood had walked silently up to the podium and was looking at him with an earnestness that was her special gift to her friends in times of need. He felt his confidence begin to grow and he stood tall.

“I won’t say that our smaller numbers today don’t bother me. I won’t say that I feel a little let down by the fact that members of our government and our society have not shown up today.” Neville delivered his remarks without animus, but the bite was still there. “It really doesn’t matter in the end, as long as we, here, remember them. These were our friends and our families and our best tribute to them is remember their sacrifice and to remain vigilant against the return of oppression.”

Neville’s eyes began to water, but his eyes shown brightly against the afternoon sun. “The past six years have demonstrated that evil is always lurking. It doesn’t recognize your house, or your class or your politics. Your status or your notoriety has no bearing on your safety. We must be on the watch and support each other in keeping the darkness at bay.” Neville’s eyes finally rested upon Harry, boring into him with a depth that caused Harry to start. “I, for one, will always be there to fight, no matter what the cost, in order to preserve the freedom these people died for. That’s the least I can do to make sure that the price they paid all those years ago was worth the investment. I, for one, intend to earn their gift, each and every day.”

Neville stepped from the podium and leaned down to hug a teary Luna. He placed a gentle kiss on her cheek and took her hand, leading her from the podium. A hush covered the crowd, the resonance of his words and conviction washing over them with a solemnity that finally brought appropriateness to the occasion. There were no cymbals crashing or contrived lightshows, just the gentle breeze off the lake and the rustle of the leaves from the orchard of trees nearby.

When the ceremony had ended, Harry made his way through the crowd, offering the umpteenth apology for the losses that the families had endured. He made his way into the cemetery and saw Teddy standing in front his parents’ graves, their headstones were joined by an arch at the top with an ethereal image of Remus and Tonks standing together, sharing a kiss. Teddy eyes were fierce, but there were no tears. He stood tall, staring at their picture. They seemed so alive and happy. Harry recalled Tonks’ unconditional love for Remus which overwhelmed the reserved man. She had unlocked the secret to his soul and Harry was absolutely convinced that they died happy because they were together.

“Uncle Harry?” Teddy finally spoke, his voice was strong. Harry looked down at him and grasped his hand, pressing Teddy to continue. “I’m ready now. Can you tell me how they died?”

Harry and Andromeda had tried to fill in the gaps of how they’d lived, who they were and how they loved. By mutual consent, they’d agreed to leave the darker aspects of their deaths until Teddy was older, when he the distance from the event matched his maturity to handle the details. His godson, Harry was discovering, was beginning to be wise beyond his years. Harry recalled his own childhood, raised as an orphan. He remembered the questions he had and how lost he felt by the emptiness of not knowing.

“Are you sure?” Harry knew the answer before Teddy did. Harry, after all, had been there before. A small glint came to Harry’s eye. Remus had been so prescient. In naming Harry godfather to his son, Remus had chosen the only person who could truly relate to the boy as he grew up. Harry wasn’t sure that Remus knew that Teddy would be an orphan, but coincidences in life are hard to come by. Harry took Teddy’s hand and let him towards the shore of the lake. As they walked, Harry turned and began to tell Teddy the story of the Marauders and of his first meeting with a rather peculiar Defense Against the Dark Arts professor by the name of Remus Lupin.

The crowd began to dissipate, heading back to their lives built on the sacrifice of the dead. Dennis Creevey gave Cho a quick kiss on the cheek and walked over to his father, who had not stirred from his seat since the end of the memorial.

“Are you alright, dad?” Dennis towered over his father, but his manner was gentle. “I can take you home, if you like?”

Lionel Creevey woke from his reflection. “I thought you were going to have a reunion with your D.A. club?”

“It’s no bother, I can get you home. I don’t want you to be alone.” Dennis smiled at his father, trying to shore up his flagging emotions.

“Don’t mind me, Dennis. I get this way this time of the year.” The hardworking milkman rose from his seat. “Since your mum and Colin died, it gets difficult, but I’ll be fine. You go on, now. Go with your friends.” Lionel Creevey looked over and spotted Cho walking with Dean Thomas. “She seems nice. You like her?”

Dennis blushed, “More than I can tell you. She’s the one, I think.” Lionel clapped his son on his broad back.

“Good, everyone should have someone. Hold on to her, son. Your life seems to always be unpredictable. It’s good to have something solid to hang on to, but there’s always a chance it can be torn away. You and I both know that.” Dennis glanced at his father, the tone of the response held a trace of bitterness.

“Are you sure you’re going to be okay? I don’t mind taking you home, Dad.” Lionel gave his son a chuckle and his best brave face.

“Never you mind, I’m not feeble, you know. I’ve got the port key and I’m going home and going to bed. I’ve an early start tomorrow, so I’ll watch some TV and toddle off. You run along, I’ll see you next weekend. Bring that lovely girl of yours around and we’ll have dinner, ok?”

Dennis smiled and hugged his father, placing a kiss on his balding head. “Ok, Dad. See you then.” Dennis strode off at a pace to catch up with Cho. Lionel Creevey watched his son’s receding back. He pulled out the ancient key that his son had charmed that helped him transit from home to Hogwarts and back. He turned it in his hand, and the fear and the rage returned to his face. The darkness that filled his thoughts day after day, night after night, returned. He sighed heavily and transported home, to be alone with his feelings.


***A/N: I had not planned for this chapter to coincide with the sixth anniversary of 9/11 but it seemed fitting. For those that haven't gathered, I'm a former officer in the United States Navy and I've lost several colleagues both during the attacks and since. I was grateful to pour some of that into this chapter and I hope you excuse my portrayal.

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Old September 12th, 2007, 8:07 pm
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Re: A History of Magic: The Harry Potter Era

Chapter 61 – The Third Trimester Tournament

Summer crept up on Harry as he worked his team through its new training cycle. His team had finally pulled itself from its funk and now had an edge that was, in fact, better than they’d been before their experience with the vampires. The team immersed itself into its work, tracking down the odd dark arts practitioners and generally diving into their work with a professionalism they’d never had before. It was just as well for Harry, because as June gave way to July, he found himself immersed in a constant battle to the finish line as the impending birth of his first child began to dominate his time.

It started just into May. Ginny was showing more prominently and her ability to get around was becoming more and more hampered. Harry’s experience with expectant mothers had been pretty much limited and very distant. He’d watched from afar as Bill and Fleur went through Victoire’s birth and admittedly, had not seen the day to day demands that a husband must attend to, while the mother’s body adjusts to the hormones that were overloading her body. To make matters even more interesting, Ginny was a witch and the hormones seemed to be enhanced by the magical properties imbued by the baby’s parents. This made Ginny’s high points, very high, and very enjoyable from Harry’s perspective, but her low points were very low, and at times, Harry was hoping for the appearance of an army of Deatheaters, just so he could have a little peace.

Harry finally broke down, one day, and cornered Arthur Weasley in the Ministry. Arthur always seemed to walk in a kind of peaceful calm that indicated after fathering seven children, including the aforementioned Ginny; he would have some sort of insight as to how to handle the situation. Harry was desperate and browbeating his father-in-law seemed to be the only recourse. Arthur, of course, was more than happy to lend some advice, man to man, of course.

“There’s nothing you can do, Harry. You’re just going to make sure she’s happy.” Arthur gave Harry a benign smile. His response, coupled with Arthur’s look of complete seriousness, convinced Harry that the man was wandering through life drunk, or at least he made his way through Molly’s seven pregnancies in that state.

“It’s true, Harry. If Ginny is anything like her mother, and believe me, she is, then you’d be better off ramming your head into a brick wall than try to find some way to change her at this time. All you can do is try to give her what she wants, and be understanding. Besides, it’s not long now, you can take anything for a month or so.” Harry gave Arthur a puzzled look.

“You do know we’re talking about Ginny, right?” Harry leaned in, hoping he’d smell the tell tale odor of some inebriating substance on Arthur’s breath.

“Yes, yes I do.” With that, Arthur bade Harry farewell, and went towards the floo network, a smile on his face and a distinct twinkle in his eye. Harry didn’t care what anyone said, he had a firm suspicion as to where the wild side of the Weasley children came from. Harry allowed a heavy sigh to escape his chest and made for home.

When Harry entered the front door, he found himself in the hallway, completely surrounded by packing boxes and cans of wall paint. The front room, his favorite room, had been completely changed over with a coat of bright red paint and new furniture that included a chaise and a sofa. Gone were the Gryffindor colors and the immaculate oak bookcases and his easy chairs, especially his favorite easy chairs. A flowery border adorned the middle of the wall and the room had the distinct odor of drying paint. A loud crash resounded from upstairs and Harry braced his shoulders while making the long, treacherous climb up the landing. When he reached his bedroom, he paused, swallowed, and pushed the door open.

The bedroom was a wreck, with bed pillows and throw rugs tossed everywhere. The large four-poster bed was dismantled and all of their classic furniture was shoved to a corner of the room. Seated on an ottoman, Ginny reclined to take the pressure off of her lower back, but she was pointing here and there and giving out orders. Carting boxes and moving furniture, Dennis Creevey and Ron were moving at a hectic pace, while Kreacher stood next to his mistress holding a serving tray with what appeared to be a glass of chocolate milk and vial of honey. Dennis noticed Harry’s appearance and gave his friend a haggard, pleading look.

Harry hesitated. Ginny hadn’t quite noticed him yet. There was still a small chance that he could join Charlie on the dragon egg hunt in Turkey. He seriously contemplated his escape.

“Welcome home, Master Harry.” Kreacher gave Harry a wicked grin and Ginny turned to face her husband.

“It’s about time you got here. It’s lucky that Ron and Dennis came by to drop off a present, or else I’d have no one to help me.” Ginny kind of scooted around and faced Harry.

“Yes, it’s very lucky indeed.” Ron grumbled while struggling with the old grandfather clock. Ron put the clock down and motioned to Dennis. “Well, it looks like Harry’s home. Come on Dennis, we have to go do that thing for Hermione.”

Dennis dropped the piece of bed frame he was carrying. “Thing? Oh yes, the thing. Right. See you Harry!”

Before Harry could utter a word, his two friends, men who had risked life and limb against the greatest evils in history for him, ran out the door like rabbits to the hounds. Harry dropped his bag, sullenly and faced his wife.

“What’s all this, then?” He pointed to the tsunami strewn room that used to be his bedroom.

“Well, we’ve got a baby coming and we have to have everything ready.” Ready? What did she mean by that? “We can’t just have all this stuff around, we need to prepare and the house was filthy besides, wasn’t it Kreacher.”

“Certainly, Mistress Ginny.” The bland smile never left Kreacher’s face. Do house-elves drink too?

“What about the sitting room?” Harry felt that he was out of control; he had no idea where she was going with this.

“Oh Harry, it was time for a change. Our baby can’t walk around some dark, drafty room and those book cases were dangerous.” Dangerous? Book cases?

Arthur’s words from before echoed in Harry’s brain. Harry sighed and took off his robe. Taking out his wand, he set about rearranging the furniture and redecorating the bedroom at his wife’s insistent commands. As he set about his work, he couldn’t help but notice that Kreacher’s smile never left his face. Harry was going to have to re-inspect the liquor cabinet.

A few hours later, their task complete, Ginny felt tired suddenly and drew herself into the bed. Satisfied at their labors, she had a peaceful look about her. She definitely glowed and Harry couldn’t help but think how beautiful she was. In fact, he’d never seen her so beautiful and he gently kissed her forehead as he tucked her into the newly moved and repainted bed. She was asleep almost as soon as her head touched the pillow. Silently, he snuck out and made his way to the kitchen.

Kreacher was fussing about the kitchen, replacing this or that and generally tidying up the room. Rarely used cooking implements had been strewn throughout and Harry was curious as to what had been going on while he’d been away.

“I’m sorry about all this, Kreacher.” Harry looked around. “What’s all this?”

Kreacher turned to Harry and now Harry was sure there was a light in the house-elf’s eye. “It is of no bother, Master Harry. Such has been the way of my mistresses that were with child.”

“What do you mean?” Harry sat wearily at the table. The house-elf seemed to sense his master’s exhaustion and anxiety. He placed an ice-cold tankard of beer in front of Harry.

“Mistress Ginny is ‘nesting’. When the time for birth approaches, the mothers prepare their homes for the arrival of the youngling.” Kreacher put away a large skillet. “When house-elf mothers are about to give birth, they must blast a new burrow into solid rock. It is the way of things.”

Harry sipped his beer. Maybe Kreacher had something there. “What about all this? It looks like you’ve been cooking for an army.”

Kreacher bowed, “Well, when mothers approach the birth of their baby, they get desires for exotic food and drink. I can not explain it fully, but Mistress Ginny has been requiring me to prepare very interesting food combinations.” The house-elf hesitated.

“What?” Harry leaned forward, unconsciously finding himself hanging on the first being that actually was explaining what the blazes was going on.

“I’m sorry, Master Harry. There will be some requests that I cannot fulfill.” Harry was surprised; the little gnome was usually quite resourceful. “The mothers can be very specific. They may ask for an item from a particular establishment, a human establishment. Unfortunately, there are places in the muggle world that I cannot go.”

That was an understatement. “Well, Kreacher, you seem to have this figured out. Maybe we can work out a way for me to find the harder to get items, but you have to keep me informed.”

“That would be acceptable, I think.” Kreacher beamed once more.

***

June turned into July and the team of Harry and Kreacher did their level best to keep pace with the extraordinary requests that Ginny’s cravings came up with. The problem with the cravings, as with a lot of pregnant women, was that there was no rhyme or reason as to what the mother desired. In fact, Harry had no idea how Ginny had even had a notion about the foods she wanted; because as far as Harry could tell, there were items she’d never had before, ever.

“A Twinkie? What in Merlin’s name is a Twinkie?” Kreacher, who’d Harry had arranged to disapparate directly into the Office of Aurors, near his desk, shrugged his shoulders.

“Who knows what a Twinkie is?” Harry raised his voice to the room. Most of the Aurors, especially those in his team knew better than to openly laugh at their leader’s predicament, but Sean Manchester couldn’t help himself. He burst into tear-emitting laughter.

Dawlish, ever the diplomat, and the best poker player in the Office helped Harry. “A Twinkie is a yellow spongecake filled with crème filling. It’s a mass market product from the States, why do you ask?”

Harry pointed to Kreacher. “Ginny wants a Twinkie with lemon sherbet and covered with,” Harry looked down at the house-elf to confirm the last ingredient. “HP Sauce.”

Even the normally stoic Dawlish couldn’t help himself. The laughter permeating the room exploded into a roar and Harry could barely be heard through the din. “Right, very funny everyone. Does anyone know how to get a Twinkie, or do I have to go the States myself?”

“Don’t worry, Harry. I have a friend, a wizard, who is at the American Embassy. I’ll owl him and see what we can do.” Dawlish wiped a tear from his eye and walked to his office. Within the hour, Kreacher was off with a small baggie that contained two vacuumed packed bundles of sugary delight called Twinkies.

***

Kreacher and Harry held their own as the weeks progressed through July. As the month ended, it was all but certain that the baby would be there any day. An office pool had been started to guess the exact date and time while another side bet was on the sex of the baby. Everyone seemed to be getting in on the joy of the moment. Harry was finding himself more anxious than ever. Every appearance by Kreacher held the potential of telling him it was time, yet every appearance brought out an increasingly more difficult to find item. Baguettes from Paris, no imitations. Belgian waffles? Did he have to go to Antwerp for those? What exactly was a caramel macchiato anyway?

Harry also was trying to clear his work plate, ensuring that his team was functioning and that his paperwork was gone. When the baby arrived, he wanted to take some time off. One night, Harry found himself alone in the Office, plying his way through any number of mundane reports that covered his desk. A loud bang announced the arrival of Kreacher. Exhaustion and stress had taken its toll on Harry, so his exasperated greeting was not unexpected.

“What does she want now? Honey covered chicken wings? Pickles and whipped cream?” Harry cast a weary glance to his house-elf.

Kreacher stood silently, a large and tooth grin on his face. He bowed deeply at the waist. “It is time, Master Harry.”

It was a simple statement which eliminated all traces of tiredness from his body. Harry jumped up and began hurry to and fro. He grabbed his bag and began to toss everything within sight into it. As he scampered about, Kreacher reached up grasped Harry’s arm. Harry stopped suddenly and looked down at the house-elf. Harry took a deep breath and nodded to his companion. Kreacher transported the two of them to Grimmauld Place.

Harry and Kreacher arrived in the living room. Arthur Weasley stood there in a bathrobe and pointed upstairs. “Molly and the midwife are already there.”

Harry ran upstairs and heard the muffled sound of shouts. Was Ginny really calling him those names? He gave a pause and then rushed into the room.

Harry held her hand, her grip vise-like and crushing. She gave one last effort and then collapsed back onto the bed. He couldn’t see what the midwife was doing and he felt a momentary pang of fear. What if something was wrong? Soon, he heard the clear chorus of crying, the sound loud and strong. The midwife brought a small swaddling bundle over to Harry and Ginny.

“It’s a boy.”

The words pounded into his head. He turned to Ginny, her smile shining as they realized their good fortune. The midwife handed the delicate package to Harry, who lay it gently near Ginny’s chest. His face was small and round and he had a small tuft of soft black hair. His eyes were closed and his brow was furrowed in a bundle of lines and rolls. His lips puckered slightly and his hands moved without direction. The baby’s skin was pink, darkening to red and he seemingly rolled his head to get closer to his mother’s heartbeat. In a magical world, it was the most fantastic thing Harry had ever seen in his life.

Molly daubed her eyes as she wiped away her tears. “What will you name him?”

Ginny looked at Harry and nodded. Harry looked to his mother-in-law.

“James. His name is James Sirius Potter.” Ginny’s eyes glowed. He’d made a good choice. Ginny nuzzled little James and kissed his forehead. She looked up, and Harry moved closer to kiss her. When they pulled apart, Ginny whispered in Harry’s ear.

“Happy Birthday, Harry.”

It was 1:02 AM, July 31st. He didn’t know how she’d done it, but Ginny had given him an extraordinary, hard to top, birthday present, again.


***A/N: I did not make up the craving thing, OK. You tell me where to find a red jelly donut at 3 AM in the middle of nowhere and to make sure I put A-1 steak sauce on it. That's a true story, so there.

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