Harry Potter and the Hellfire Potion
DISCLAIMER: This is not my work. I found this years ago when HPANA was still running and loved it. It was created by a user named "Cas". He/she wrote this before DH came out and it starts off with how he/she thought DH was going to end. Again this is not my work. Cas if you are out there please let us know. This is a brilliant story and I wanted to share it with all HP lovers...
Check out my feedback page in the Flourish and Blotts book club page: http://www.cosforums.com/showthread.php?t=131875
Chapter 1 ~ The Ministry of Debris
The rubble lay thick and dusty around the Ministry of Magic. There was an eerie silence, broken only by the occasional trickle of tiny pieces of crumbling debris. The golden statues of the Fountain of Magical Brethren, once destroyed in the past and then repaired, was again in ruins. Galleons, sickles and knuts meant for St. Mungos Hospital for Magical Maladies glittered wetly on the floor. The many golden grates of the Floo Network fireplaces hung off at odd angles, some were completely melted...
"Harry?!" a shrill, panicked voice called, echoing across the hall.
"HARRY?!" There was a small explosion, accompanied by red sparks, and a small hole appeared in the wall of rubble. A head of bushy brown hair appeared, the face bloody and dirty.
"Hermione - keep your voice down!" hissed another voice, "you could cause an avalanche! We'll have to shift this lot by hand - quietly."
"But what about Harry? What if he's - "
"Don't! Don't... Just-just help me. We're no good to Harry if we lose it are we?" Ron looked at Hermione and saw her eyes fill with tears, her bottom lip trembling. "Hermione, we have to keep it together - c'mon." He turned back to the small hole Hermione had manged to blast with her wand and started to scoop up handfuls of rubble. With a deep, shaky breath, Hermione nodded and added her efforts. Glad he had his back to her, Ron was reminded forcibly of the last time he had done just this - shifting rock in his second year of Hogwarts, down in the Chamber of Secrets. That too was to help Harry, as well as his sister Ginny. He felt his eyes become wet - was Harry still alive? It seemed impossible that he could be - he and Hermione had witnessed the explosions from outside the Ministry, but Harry had always come out of impossible situations alive and kicking! He was the boy who lived... Ron sniffed and wiped his already filthy hand across his eyes.
"Ron..?" Hermione said tentatively.
"What do you think happened in here? What could possibly have caused that kind of explosion?"
"I don't know. And how did Harry manage to give us the slip like that? One minute we're all together, the next he was gone!" They were talking softly, so as not to cause a cave in. Both were glad of a distraction from wondering what they would find inside.
"I don't know" replied Hermione faintly, "but you know what Harry's like. He would never let us face Voldemort - "
-"You-Know-Who!" hissed Ron
"He would never let us face You-Know-Who with him - oh please let him be okay!" They continued to scrape and dig, ignoring the dozens of cuts on their hands and arms, intent only on getting though, and getting to Harry.
Ginny, Neville, Luna
"Come on! Hurry up!" Robes flying, feet slapping against the pavement of the Muggle street, Ginny had twisted mid-run to yell at Luna and Neville.
"We're...running...as fast...as...we can!" panted Neville, red in the face. Luna remained quiet, the only sound was her rasping breath as they raced along towards a dilapidated old phone box. People turned to stare at them in surprise at the sight of their long black school robes, but Ginny, Luna and Neville ignored them, focused only on getting to the Ministry. The phone box came into sight and they flew in, slamming the door behind them. Ginny, squashing Neville's face out of the way, typed in the number and the phone box magically began to descend, only this time, the journey was not smooth, but jerky and rough and the cool magical voice was warped and twisted, like someone trying to play a tape underwater.
"I don't like this!" cried Neville. "Sssh!" hissed Ginny, with a fierce look in her eyes. Luna looked tense and pale, clutching on to the sides of the glass doors for support. Finally, it came to a shuddering halt inside what they thought was the Ministry of Magic...but what on earth had happened here? Rubble was piled high, preventing them from opening the door.
"Cover your faces" said Neville, who seemed to be regaining his nerve. "Reducto!" he muttered, blasting the door away along with a small amount of rubble, allowing them to step out of the phone box.
"Good work, Neville, but we'd better not make so much noise," whispered Ginny. Luna nodded in agreement. The three of them turned to face the insurmountable wall of ruins in front of them that was once the Ministry of Magic.
"Are Harry, Ron and Hermione trapped in here?" breathed Neville, staring opened-mouthed at the wall.
"I don't know," said Ginny determinedly, "but we're going to find them."
"What was that?!" squealed Hermione softly.
"It sounded like another explosion," said Ron uneasily. Some of the rubble had come loose and rained down upon them, turning their hair and eyebrows a dusty gray colour, making them each look as though they had aged seventy years.
"What should we do?!" said Hermione. Ron recognised the panic in her voice and knew that if she lost it, he would too. "We find Harry," he said simply.
The sound of Harry's name had had the desired effect. "Yes, yes, of course, you're right," Hermione muttered, visibly pulling herself together, "I think we're nearly there..."
Together they scraped the last few handfuls of brick aside and were able to fit through the opening they had made. Ron went first, wand at the ready, his mouth falling open at what he saw. Without turning, he held out a hand to pull Hermione through and straightening up, she gasped.
"Oh my goodness!" Hermione regretted this almost immediately, as she breathed in a mouthful of dust making her cough. Still without tearing his eyes away from the destruction of the Ministry, he slapped Hermione on the back, until she pushed him away.
"Thanks," she said faintly, gripping onto his arm for support. They turned slowly on the spot to take in the entire foyer, amazed by the devastation to the once majestic place.
"Hermione?" he whispered.
"Let's find Harry and get the bloody hell out of here."
Do you think the dead we have loved ever truly leave us?...James often suggested I stay as a dog...You - cupboard - now!...Hold on...your father is coming...You're Dumbledore's man through and through...Make way for the Heir of Slytherin!...Hold on Harry...I am guilty of an old man's mistakes...What are we doing here? Has something gone wrong? Oh no Ron, this is exactly where we wanted to end up!...Grimmauld Place is rightfully yours...Master needs to find his Wheezy!...Hold on Harry...Hold on...Hold on...Harry?...Where are you?
Voices swam in and out of Harry's head, like a badly tuned radio. Am I dead? Is this what it feels like? he thought, feeling like there was a ton of rubble covering him. I didn't think it would hurt , he idled. Am I a ghost? And then logic began to kick in. I can't be dead because I'm in pain, he thought stupidly. He felt like his brain was wrapped in cotton wool. He couldn't get a thought to stay in his head for long. Pull yourself together! Think! What happened?! He tried desperately to remember what on earth could have caused him to be lying here, in terrible pain, with what felt like a mouthful of rock... All he could think about was a blinding, shocking, burning pink light and then coming to here, wherever here was. Okay...you can't remember, but can you move your arms and legs? He tried to lift a leg but it was a dead weight. It was becoming increasingly difficult to breathe. He felt panic surge through him, and this was the push he needed to re-double his efforts. Screwing up his concentration, he tried to wiggle his fingers. His arm was squashed against his body at a very odd angle, and moving it made it feel like a dagger was being pushed into his elbow, but he persevered. He kept wiggling his fingers, trying to push through whatever was burying him and slowly, slowly he started to inch his hand upwards...
"Did you hear that?!" Hermione was practically skipping on the spot from fear.
"Hermione! Can't you keep still? We'll never find Harry in all this," he said hopelessly, looking around at the mess of brick and rubble.
"No, seriously Ron! I think I heard something! Listen!" They stood perfectly still, their ears keened for the slightest noise. Then they heard it. The sound of small rock tumbling down, and a faint groan.
"Harry!" gasped Hermione. She started to scramble over the rock towards the sound, when Ron seized the back of her robes. "Wait!" he hissed, "what if that's You-Know-Who?!" Hermione stopped dead in her tracks.
"You don't think that Voldemort - "
-"You-Know-Who!!" hissed Ron.
-"You don't think that he's here too do you?" Hermione continued fearfully.
"We don't know what happened here, do we?" replied Ron, "let's just be careful, okay?"
The sound of shifting rock continued, until suddenly, a pale, dirty hand poked up. The sleeve was unmistakable: Hogwart's school robes.
"HARRY!!" they thundered in unison, clambering over the debris. "Harry! You're okay!" sobbed Hermione, half laughing, half frantic.
"Harry mate, talk to us!" gasped Ron.
A muffled voice floated through the rock. "What?" said Hermione, leaning in even closer, with Ron eagerly at her side. The voice came again:
"Get off me - you kneeling right on my - "
"Oh sorry!" Hermione cried, skidding backwards. Ron did the same.
"Get me out of here!" Harry's voice was heavy with pain. Ron and Hermione exchanged a concerned look and stood back, brandishing their wands.
"Ready?" Ron asked.
"I think so," she replied.
"WINGARDIUM LEVIOSA!!" they yelled at the same time. The rock flew into the air to hover there. Hermione kept the charm sustained while Ron dashed forward to pull Harry out of the hole as gently as possible. Hermione flicked her wand and the rocks flew to the other side of the entrance hall.
He was battered, bloody and bruised, but he was wonderfully, amazingly, miraculously alive!
Last edited by jmunay10; December 5th, 2012 at 12:07 am.
Re: Harry Potter and the Hellfire Potion
Chapter 2 ~ Help from Above
"I think I heard them!" exclaimed Neville, "let's go!"
Ginny, Neville and Luna started to scramble over the piles of debris until they discovered the opening made by Ron and Hermione. Clambering through, they staggered over the crumbling rock, tearing their robes and trying to stay on balance.
"Look!" gasped Luna. At the far end of the entrance hall, they spotted two figures in black robes leaning over a third person who seemed to be unconscious.
"Ron!" cried Ginny, as she, Luna and Neville picked their way over as quickly as was possible.
"Ginny - Luna - Neville!? What are you doing here?"
"We came to help you! How is he?" Ginny said, peering anxiously at Harry.
"He's alive, but totally out of it - I think he just passed out again," said Ron nervously. Hermione was wringing her hands, trying desperately not to cry. There was a sudden noise and the five of them whipped round, wands out, to see a whole side of the entrance hall collapse, completely blocking the hole Ron and Hermione had forged.
"Oh no! We must have made too much noise!" sobbed Hermione. "Oh, please - someone help us! We have to get Harry out of here!" The dust from the rubble was becoming so thick it was hard to breathe and nearly impossible to see.
"How are we going to get out?" asked Neville desperately.
"First we have to get Harry up! Have you tried renervate?" asked Ginny.
"Yeah, but nothing seems to be helping - one minute he was talking, the next..." he trailed off sadly. Luna let out a sob and Neville patted her on the arm.
"We'll just have to carry him then, won't we?" he said.
"Right - good idea," said Hermione. She muttered something, and a stretcher appeared out of nowhere.
"Help me lift him Neville," said Ron "and you lot stand back and give us some light." Ginny, Luna and Hermione each said lumos and pale light illuminated Harry's twisted body. Ron worked his arms under Harry's shoulders, while Neville picked up his feet.
"Be careful!" admonished Ginny. Staggering slightly, Ron and Neville lowered Harry gently onto the stretcher. Hermione waved her wand again and conjured straps to secure him.
"Now what do we do?" asked Luna.
"Well...we levitated some of the rock off Harry - maybe between the five of us we can move a lot more?" said Hermione hesitantly.
"Let's try" said Ginny, looking more confident than she felt. As quietly as possible, so as not to cause another collapse, the five friends started to levitate small amounts of rubble out of the way.
"This is taking too long! Our air will run out soon," whispered Ron, frustrated. "Don't stop!" hissed Hermione, "we have to work together!"
"Help...us..." murmured a soft voice from the stretcher. "Harry!" they all gasped, stopping what they were doing to kneel around him. "Harry - are you okay?" breathed Ginny, her tears falling thick and fast. "Help...us..." sighed Harry again, before passing out. "This is hopeless!" sobbed Hermione. Luna looked as though she was about to faint and Ron and Neville were exhausted.
All of a sudden, a soft golden glow lit up the Ministry, revealing a small opening at the far side of the entrance hall, in front of which stood a tall, thin figure, shimmering in the light so that it did not look solid. "Look!" cried Luna, pointing.
"D-Dumbledore?" Hermione whispered uncertainly. They all stared in complete shock. "It-it-it c-can't b-be!" stammered Neville.
"It is! It's the way out!" exclaimed Ron. With renewed energy, he and Neville seized the stretcher and Hermione, Ginny and Luna led they way, levitating as much rock out of the way as possible, heading towards the source of golden light, towards Dumbledore..? As they drew closer, his outline seemed to become more blurry, instead of becoming sharper. When they were a few steps from the opening, he vanished completely. Exchanging shocked looks, Ron climbed out first, turning back to take one end of the stretcher. He and Neville guided it out, then turned back to help Ginny, Luna and finally Hermione through, who had taken one last long look around, trying desperately to see Dumbledore once more. Once she was through, they ran to the phone box - now without a door, and piled in, Luna flicking her wand so that Harry on his stretcher was vertical in midair. The phone box began it's slow crawl upwards, jerking and bumping until they were able to see the beginning of the Muggle street. Just as they clambered out, tripping over one another, they heard the sound of a complete cave-in beneath them, as the Ministry of Magic completely disappeared in a pile of dust and rubble forever.
Re: Harry Potter and the Hellfire Potion
Chapter 3 ~ Healer Smethington
They apparated to St. Mungo's. Hermione, being the most skilled, performed a Side-Along apparition with Harry on his stretcher. Ron brought Ginny with him, then he and Hermione both apparated back to bring Luna, who wasn't of age yet and Neville who still hadn't quite mastered the art. They were a bedraggled and exhausted group. As they were about to trudge up to the Welcome Witch, a Healer in green robes, with very grey hair and kindly green eyes rushed over to them. His name badge read Healer Smethington.
"What has happened to this boy?" he demanded, peering down at Harry, taking in his dusty, bloody appearance and drawing his wand over the many cuts on Harry's face, magically healing them, hurriedly directing Harry and his stretcher down a hallway with a second wave of his wand.
The five of them, jogging slightly to keep up, exchanged looks. "Well...we're not exactly sure," said Hermione hesitantly, "We don't really know what happened before we found him, but the Ministry, it, well, it -"
"He had an accident - he was trapped under loads of rubble, but we don't know how." Ron cut in swiftly, with a very unsubtle look at Hermione.
"Is that so?" Healer Smethington said with obvious disbelief in his voice. "You all look like you've sustained injuries too. Come, let's get your friend seen to and I'll have a Junior Healer attend to you."
Two young looking women appeared at their side and tried to usher Luna, Ginny, Neville, Ron and Hermione through a door marked "Minor Magical Mishaps".
"No! I want to stay with Harry!" said Ginny, pushing past the Junior Healers and following Healer Smethington. The others followed suit.
"My dear," he said kindly, as he directed Harry's stretcher into an empty room, "there is nothing to be gained from panicking. Your friend is in very good hands. Once you and your associates have been cleaned up you may come and visit - what is his name?"
"Harry. Harry Potter." said Ginny in a low voice.
"Good Lord!" Healer Smethington exclaimed, reaching down to brush back Harry's fringe, revealing the lightning bolt scar on his forehead. "I see. And you really have no idea what happened to him? Any information you might have could help him..."
The group exchanged looks again.
"We really don't know, sir," said Hermione taking a step forward. "One minute we were together, Ron, Harry and I that is, then Harry disappeared. Ron and I saw this blinding pink light, then there was an explosion and the walls collapsed. We made our way through and found Harry like this..." she trailed off sadly.
"And where did all of this take place?" Healer Smethington asked gently, as he lowered Harry onto the bed.
Hermione and Ron looked at each other. Ron gave a small nod.
"The Ministry of Magic," said Hermione nervously.
"The Ministry!?" Smethington exclaimed. "Preposterous! The Ministry collapse? Impossible!"
"Can we please talk about this later?" hissed Ginny, close to tears again.
Gathering himself, Smethington muttered "of course, of course. Please wait outside now."
"No! We have to be here - "
"There, there my dear," he said soothingly "I must take care of my patient. I shall send for you when I am ready, but for now I need you to wait outside."
"C'mon Ginny," said Ron, taking her arm. "We'll be right outside this door," he said in a clear voice to Healer Smethington. Smethington nodded his agreement, closing the door behind them. Out in the corridor, Neville and Luna sank to the floor to sit and wait. Ron paced back and forth, occasionally throwing glances at the door of Harry's room. Hermione was rooted to the spot, staring at the floor and Ginny chewed at her lip nervously.
"What really happened back at the Ministry?" asked Neville after a while.
"We honestly don't know," said Hermione, "we were telling the Healer the truth...But...I think Harry was fighting You-Know-Who..."
"What?!" he gasped in amazement "But then, where is Y-Y-You-Know-Who, w-where is he now?"
"We don't know," said Ron tensely, finally ceasing his relentless pacing, coming to a stop in front of Luna and Neville.
"Is he dead?" wondered Luna "Did Harry...did Harry kill him?"
"We don't know," Ron repeated, "but we couldn't see any sign of him when we found Harry..."
"Should we tell the Healer about this?" asked Ginny
"No. Harry would definitely not want to tell anyone." Ron said firmly.
"But what if it helps him?"
"Ron's right Ginny. Harry would be furious with us. No-one is supposed to know that he's..." she glanced quickly at Luna and Neville, "well, you know..."
"The Chosen One?" Neville asked quietly. Hermione and Ron's eyes widened in surprise, "I worked it out on my own - it wasn't that hard really. Dumbledore dies and Harry suddenly isn't at school much. The only explanation is that the Daily Prophet is telling the truth for once. Harry is the Chosen One. I'm right aren't I?"
For what seemed the millionth time, Hermione and Ron exchanged looks. They nodded.
"Wow," breathed Luna softly, "I always knew Harry would do something amazing to help the world, but this..."
"Quite a bit more than most seventeen year old's have to cope with in a lifetime, wouldn't you say?" asked a voice behind them.
Neville and Luna jumped to their feet. They all turned sharply turned to see who the voice belonged to.
"Hello everyone. I hope you have a good explanation for being out of school at this time of night."
Remus Lupin smiled as he walked towards them.
Re: Harry Potter and the Hellfire Potion
Also feel free to post directly on here. I would love to hear what you guys think about Cas' story.
Re: Harry Potter and the Hellfire Potion
Chapter 4 ~ A Visit from A Guardian
"So...you left school without permission, illegally apparated to the Ministry of Magic, which you know full well is supposed to be closed off to anyone who is not an employee and illegally disapparated out after leaving the place in collapse? Have I left anything out?"
The six of them were sitting round a table in the tea room of the hospital. A teapot and six teacups sat on the table. Harry was still being tended to by Healer Smethington, and, after checking anxiously on his condition, Lupin had persuaded them to leave their vigil so they could explain just what had happened. Nobody seemed to want to look him in the eye directly.
"What I would really like to know is - aside from about a million other details - if the building collapsed on you, how on earth did you get out?"
Hermione raised her head until she was looking directly at Lupin. She was still terribly pale, but the appearance of a member of the Order seemed to have given her new hope. "Well, I think - it might sound stupid now - but I think D-Dumbledore showed us how..."
At the mention of Dumbledore's name, Lupin sat upright. "What do you mean?" he demanded.
"Well, we were completely stuck. There was this really heavy dust all around and piles of rubble everywhere. We thought we would suffocate in there, but then this gold sort of light appeared, and we could see somebody standing in front of the way out. We're not mental or anything - we all saw it." said Ron, looking defiantly at Lupin, as though daring him to say they were lying. Lupin looked from Ginny, to Neville and finally at Luna. They all nodded in agreement with Ron.
"Oh, I don't think you're mental, Ron," said Lupin, leaning back in his chair again. "Quite the opposite. Through our talks with Dumbledore's portrait, we discovered that he's been keeping an eye on Harry. On all of you actually."
"What?! How?" said Ron a little too loudly. Other witches and wizards looked around at them for a moment, before turning back to their own conversations.
"How?" repeated Hermione for Ron, much more quietly, her eyes filling with tears. Ginny was sniffing and tears were silently leaking from Luna's eyes. Neville too looked like he would sob at any moment.
"When a wizard as powerful as Dumbledore dies, " Lupin began softly, staring down at his hands, "he is able to...he is able to use his powers from 'beyond the grave' so to speak. As you probably know, we have sought Dumbledore's advice via his portrait in Professor McGonagall's office for matters to do with the Order many times. Recently Dumbledore had grown increasingly concerned about Harry. He sensed that some sort of showdown with Lord Voldemort was imminent, and urged us to keep a closer watch over Harry - and his friends" he inclined his head towards them, "and so we tried. But, with Harry leaving Hogwarts so frequently to look for the Horcruxes, it grew impossible. Dumbledore assured us that he would watch over him - "
"But if Dumbledore can help us, why hasn't he made himself known before?" demanded Ron
"Ron, you must understand, wizards who are no longer of this world can only make their presence known in times of great need. They are not like ghosts who roam about amongst the living. They are spectacularly more powerful than that, but they can only reveal themselves when they are truly needed."
"And he showed himself for us today," said Luna hoarsely - tears running freely down her face now. Neville had succumbed and was crying too. Ginny, sitting between them, placed a hand on each of theirs, squeezing gently.
Hermione, blinking back her own tears asked, "But why are you here? How did you know where to find us?"
Lupin smiled at her. "The portrait of Dilys Derwent alerted us. One final thing that was stated in both Lily, James and Sirius's will was that in the event of their deaths, I would be Harry's guardian. I am here to look after Harry."
Re: Harry Potter and the Hellfire Potion
Chapter 5 ~ The Golden Chamber
Harry was slowly walking down a long, golden corridor. He looked up to try and see the ceiling, but it went so high it seemed to go on forever. He continued to walk, feeling like he was being pulled gently along by an invisible force. It felt pleasant. He mind was at ease and he was content to simply drift along. He came to a tall golden door that opened with a soft swish. Harry entered and saw two extremely comfortable looking armchairs. He took a seat in one, and was just peering around for a better look when;
"Hello, Harry," said a kindly voice.
Harry turned back in his chair and saw that the other seat was now occupied.
"Hello, sir," he was not at all surprised to see Dumbledore sitting across from him, though some deep part of his mind did register that this was a bit unusual, even for him.
"How are you feeling, Harry?" enquired Dumbledore, peering at him over his half moon spectacles.
"I'm okay. Very tired...but sir - I - I'm not sure what happened. Where are we?"
"I have brought you here so that I might talk to your unconscious self," Dumbledore began, "You have been through an enormous ordeal. Do you remember anything?"
Harry thought hard, but it was very difficult, as something about this place made him feel so comfortable and relaxed. Dumbledore noticed his efforts and said, "No matter if you cannot. There will be time enough to re-live what has happened to you. But for now, I must talk to you of important matters."
Harry nodded, feeling more alert at the tone of Dumbledore's voice.
"Harry, today you have achieved something that has freed the wizarding world of the greatest evil it has ever known. You did it my boy! You did it!" Dumbledore beamed down at him.
Harry blinked slowly, confused. Then slowly, slowly, so painfully slowly, he remembered...something...what was it? Voldemort...blinding, burning pink light...Voldemort...dead..? Could it be? Hope was blossoming in his chest.
"It is true, Harry." Harry jumped. Did I say that out loud?
"No, you did not. I'm terribly sorry, it is very rude of me to hear your thoughts without telling you that I can," Dumbledore said aloud. "But before we can truly celebrate, before you can go back to your conscious form and reassure your friends that you are alive and well, we must talk of something of the utmost importance. You see Harry, all of your efforts could be undone if you do not complete your final task."
"My final task?" Harry repeated slowly, "what do you mean? If Voldemort is dead, isn't it all over now?" his spirits were rapidly sinking.
"Harry, I completely understand that you have been through quite enough and if there was a way to lessen your burden I would, but for now I need you to hold on to your courage, for you will need every last ounce to get you through this last ordeal."
"What is it?" Harry whispered, afraid of Dumbledore's answer, but desperate to hear it all the same.
"There remains one person with the will and strength to bring Lord Voldemort's spirit back. Your final task is to stop them."
"His spirit? Do you mean like his ghost?" Harry asked, confused.
"No Harry. The spirit of an enormously powerful wizard is much more than a mere ghost. It can rise from the ashes, much like a phoenix, to wreak havoc once more. Only the evilest, darkest of wizards would chose such an existence, but has Voldemort not proved in the past that he cares not for depravity? The unicorn’s blood, the Philosopher’s stone, and of course, the most awful, the seven Horcruxes."
Harry nodded numbly. He could hardly believe this was happening. All this time! All this time destroying the Horcruxes, battling Death Eaters and finally killing Voldemort and he can rise from the grave! Harry wanted to scream in anguish, but the calming power of the room subdued him. He looked bleakly up into Dumbledore's face.
"Tell me who," he asked.
"I will show you. No, no, we don't need a Pensieve," he said, smiling at Harry, who was looking around the cavernous golden room. "Close your eyes, focus your mind...and off we go..."
In a swirl of gold, they disappeared.
Re: Harry Potter and the Hellfire Potion
Chapter 6 ~ Enemies Revisited
The hooded figure stirred. It was huddled next to the dying, orange embers of a fire, tinged with green sparks. The forest was pitch black, and the only sound was the occasional hoot of an owl.
Suddenly, there was a popping noise, and a short, skinny man appeared, stumbling on the edges of the fire, waving his arms in a desperate attempt to stop himself from falling in head first.
"Who's there?" demanded the cloaked figure on the forest floor, fearfully, pointing a wand with a trembling hand.
"It-it's me - W-Wormtail!" gasped the skinny man, now stamping on the edge of his cloak which had begun to smoke.
"What do you want?" spat the figure with disgust.
"I have news! The most terrible, awful, shocking -”
"Out with it you fool!" screamed the voice under the hood.
"It - it's the Dark Lord...He has been...he's..."
"He is WHAT?!"
"He is dead! The Dark Lord is d-dead!"
"Impossible! Who on this Earth has to power to vanquish the Dark Lord?" the voice was scornful, "Who?" the figure demanded, standing up and taking a step towards Wormtail.
"Now - p-please remember - I - I'm just the messenger! I was at the Ministry, in disguise, when I heard the most awful explosion. The entire building is in ruins, it -”
"I care not for the state of the Ministry, you imbecile! What of the Dark Lord?" The figure moved swiftly, and suddenly a wand was at Wormtail's throat. "Do not toy with me Wormtail," the figure crooned softly, "you will pay the price if you do."
Wormtail let out a sob as he stumbled backwards, trying to get away from the line of fire.
"I will ask you once more: what has happened to the Dark Lord?" the voice was now deadly calm.
"It - it was H - Harry P -P -P - " Wormtail was cowering, his arms shielding his face. He could not summon the courage to say the name aloud.
The figure slowly lowered the wand, staggering backwards.
"No...no! I won't believe it! I cannot believe it! You are lying to me!"
"No! I swear it! I swear! Harry P - P - Potter, h - h - has killed the Dark Lord," he whimpered, now crouched down on the ground, his eyes screwed up tightly.
"The Dark Lord..? Defeated..? It...it can't be," the voice coming from the figure was faint now, wand arm hanging slackly down. And then came the most awful, bloodcurdling scream, sending every owl out of the forest in fright:
"Aaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrgh! No! Master! Please! No! Noooooo!"
The figure fell to its knees, head thrown back. The hood of the cloak slipped back to reveal a face. One side was gaunt but smooth, but the other, a melted, misshapen, ugly mess. The face had been mutilated as a punishment. A punishment from the Dark Lord in fact. The scream continued.
It went on and on, until Bellatrix Lestrange could scream no more.
Re: Harry Potter and the Hellfire Potion
Chapter 7 ~ The Final Task?
"Bellatrix Lestrange is the one?" wondered Harry aloud. They had returned to the golden room. He and Dumbledore had just witnessed the exchange between Bellatrix and Wormtail. It had been like trying to look at something at the bottom of a lake, but the words had been perfectly, chillingly clear. Dumbledore nodded, with a sombre look in his eyes.
"But...but I thought Voldemort had killed her!" he stammered.
Dumbledore sighed deeply. "No Harry. He did not kill her for her errors over the past year. He needed his remaining loyal Death Eaters too much to do that. Instead, he destroyed one of the few things Bellatrix treasured - her looks."
Harry knew he should feel disgust for what Voldemort had done, but he could have no sympathy for Bellatrix Lestrange. She's as bad as Voldemort, he thought bitterly; she deserves everything she gets and more!
"I understand how you feel, Harry," said Dumbledore gently, "but we cannot allow hatred to cloud our path."
"What do you mean? I thought you wanted me to kill her!"
"I would not force you to kill again for any amount of harmony in the wizarding world, Harry. It must be your choice. I do not think that ending Bellatrix's life is the only solution. We must simply stop her from bringing Lord Voldemort back."
Harry looked at Dumbledore with weary eyes. After a long silence, in which Dumbledore did not break his gaze, Harry asked,
"How? How do I stop her?"
"First you must return to your body...your conscious self. You must be patient. You will need time to heal - hear me out, please," he said, as Harry opened his mouth to object.
"There is time, Harry. Bellatrix has not yet discovered the ways in which she might revive Voldemort's spirit. You must be whole again in your body or you will not succeed. Am I making myself quite clear?" he peered seriously down at Harry, but his eyes were not unkind.
"Yes sir," replied Harry softly. When will this all be over? He asked himself.
"Soon, my boy. Very soon." said Dumbledore with a small smile. Harry knew he understood and felt a little better.
"But sir - how - how are you doing, you know - now that you're...well, now that you're - "
"Dead? Oh quite well, I thank you, quite well. I am having quite a time catching up with lost acquaintances! And of course keeping up with you keeps me very busy indeed," he smiled again, and Harry knew it was time to go, but...
"When can I talk to you again?" he asked desperately.
"Do not fear, Harry. I am always here..."
And with that, Dumbledore and the golden room began to slowly dissolve, and Harry found himself walking back down that long golden corridor, back to his body, back to his final task...
Re: Harry Potter and the Hellfire Potion
Chapter 8 ~ Phoenix
One extremely long week had gone by. Harry’s limp form laid quiet and still in his bed at St. Mungo's, while Ron, Hermione, Ginny, Luna and Neville had maintained a constant watch over him. Lupin had had to leave on mysterious business, refusing to tell them what it was until his return. Mr. and Mrs Weasley had arrived late on the first day that Harry had been brought in, and had tried unsuccessfully, to make Ron, Hermione and Ginny go back to the Burrow for a bit of rest. The three of them had refused point blank. Realising they were fighting a losing battle, Mr. and Mrs. Weasley reluctantly agreed to let them stay. There was hardly any space left in Harry’s small hospital room now, so they had to take it in turns to allow people to visit Harry – not that he showed any signs of waking. Healer Smethington had told them that there didn’t actually appear to be anything else wrong with Harry, nothing that they could see anyway, but still he lay there, pale and silent. Nothing seemed to bring him round.
Hagrid had been to visit, bringing Hedwig with him, who was now perched on Harry’s bedpost. The nurses hadn’t liked this one bit, but whenever they got close enough to try and shoo her away, Hedwig snapped furiously with her beak, causing terrible damage to anyone foolhardy enough to try and stop her watching over Harry. Eventually, and with much muttering and resentful looks, the nurses had given up on trying to remove her.
“She’s a good owl really,” called Hagrid after them, following a particularly bloody attack on a grumpy nurse. “She’s jus lookin out fer ‘Arry!” Hagrid reached out and stroked Hedwig’s feathers. “Eh ‘Arry?” he said softly to the still form on the bed, “I found ‘er flapping round my hut, in a right state she was, til I realised she wanted ter see you. Brought ‘er straight ere I did, ‘Arry? Can you ‘ear me? C’mon on now…” he broke into sobs, pulling out his enormous spotted handkerchief and blowing his nose. Hermione reached over and patted him on the back. She, like the others looked dreadful. They all had he dark circles under their eyes, and were as pale as Harry, but nobody could bring themselves to leave until they knew he was all right.
Fred, George, Charlie, Bill and Fleur had all been to visit, as well as Professors McGonagall, Flitwick and Sprout, who had brought with them a huge “get-well” card, signed by almost every student at Hogwarts. Mr. Lovegood, Luna’s father, had come by, bringing with him several copies of The Quibbler, with news of Harry’s defeat of Voldemort making the front page. Mrs. Longbottom, Neville’s intimidating grandmother, had also visited several times, walking imperiously around the hospital, telling anyone who would listen that her grandson and Harry Potter were great friends. Rufus Scrimgeour had tried to gain access to Harry’s room, but was stopped in his tracks by every member of the Weasley family, Hermione, Hagrid, Neville and Luna. He left with an extremely sour look on his face, but under the circumstances, there was nothing that Harry could have told him anyway.
Lupin finally returned, looking serious.
“Where have you been?” demanded Mrs. Weasley anxiously.
“Forgive me, Molly, everyone,” he said, looking around the crowded room (which was even worse now that Hagrid was refusing to leave too). “I went to retrieve something that I think holds the key to Harry’s recovery. But I am afraid I must ask you all to leave this room – all of you, except Hermione and Ron that is.”
There was a chorus of disapproval from everyone else, while Ron and Hermione exchanged surprised looks.
“If there were another way, I would use it, but please, I must ask you all to leave so that I can try to help Harry. Isn’t this what we’re all here for, after all?” he asked, looking at each unhappy face in turn.
“All right everyone. You heard him. Out!” Mrs. Weasley began to herd everyone from the room. “Do what you can, Lupin,” she whispered, with tears in her eyes, “Harry is like a son to me.”
“And to me,” replied Lupin softly, touching her arm. With that, he closed the door behind everyone, and turned to face a bewildered Ron and Hermione. “And now, let me explain what is going on,” he said to them with a small smile. “Please sit down.”
"I have here a will," said Lupin, extracting a thick sheaf of parchment from his robes. He saw that Ron and Hermione were still staring, open mouthed at him. "Please sit down. And don't look so worried - this is a good thing."
Ron and Hermione sank down into two of the chairs lining Harry's bed. Hermione was trembling slightly. Ron reached over and took her hand in his.
"We're listening," he said, looking at Lupin with tired eyes.
"This will belonged to Dumbledore. Due to his unexpected death, we have had some trouble in gathering everything together," he looked at them with slightly watery eyes. Dumbledore's death still affected him deeply. "He didn't have time to get his affairs in order before...well, before he passed away, so it has taken some time, and a great deal of consulting his portrait to get everything together."
"So...so has Dumbledore left Harry something that will make him better?" asked Hermione, sitting a little straighter in her chair.
"That is exactly right. Dumbledore wanted to leave Harry something to help him in times of great trouble, something that only Harry could claim. Dumbledore wanted only Harry and his closest friends to know of it, as its power is something that many could seek to abuse. This is why what happens in this room must remain that way - in this room." Lupin said these last words with such urgency that Ron was nearly half out of his seat. Hermione tugged on his hand until he sat back down.
"So what is it?" demanded Ron.
"Allow me to read the relevant passage of Dumbledore's will aloud," said Lupin, clearing his throat.
"I, Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore, do bequeath, in the event of my death, to Harry James Potter, to be called upon in times of great need..."
Ron and Hermione were both out of their seats now, clutching each other for support,
"...Fawkes, the Phoenix."
…and with those words, there was an explosion of flames and Fawkes burst magically to life in the centre of the room…
Re: Harry Potter and the Hellfire Potion
Chapter 9 ~ Awakening
Harry sank a little deeper into the comfort of his warm bed. He was so tired; it felt like his bones were worn out. He was vaguely aware of a sting to his skin (he didn't realise that his skin was raw and pink, still healing from the many injuries he sustained when the Ministry collapsed on him), when he felt hot liquid dripping onto his face. He made a groggy sound and tried to wipe the stuff off, but his arm was too heavy to move. Drip, drip, drip - there it went again. He could ignore it no more. Harry felt his whole body start to heat up from within, and with a small flicker, his eyes opened and a very blurry, candlelit room swam slowly into focus.
"HARRY!!!!!" screeched a voice, and suddenly Hermione's face was inches from his.
"Oi, mate! We thought you were never going to wake up!" Ron's freckly face appeared at his other side.
"Wuh? Whassgoinon?" Harry asked blearily. He heard a soft squawk and realised Fawkes, Dumbledore's phoenix was perched at the end of the bed. "Fawkes?"
"He used his tears to heal you! Oh, Harry! You're okay!" squealed Hermione
"Where's Dumbledore?" Harry asked thickly. He felt like he was trying to talk through a mouthful of sludge. Every one of his senses seemed like it was working in slow motion.
"Er, he's not around, Harry," said Ron, unsure of what to do, "He...he left Fawkes to you, in his will..." he trailed off and looked at Lupin for help. Had Harry lost his memory?
Lupin smiled reassuringly at Ron and knelt down so he was eye-level with Harry.
"Hello Harry. It's good to have you back. You gave us quite a shock, I can tell you."
"Wha' happened? Everything's sore. Where's Dumbledore?"
"Harry...you've been through a huge ordeal...it - it involved Voldemort. Do you remember anything at all?"
"Voldemort..." said Harry slowly, "yeah...we fought...pink light was everywhere, then..."
"You were in the Ministry of Magic with Voldemort. We're not entirely sure what happened, but it would appear that the two of you battled, and the building collapsed." he reached out and held Harry's hand. "Voldemort is dead, Harry. You defeated him!"
"I - I did?" Harry asked, feeling the healing power of Fawkes's tears really taking effect now. Everything was coming into clear focus at last. He sat up, carefully. "I did! He's - he's gone! He's - " he stopped short, suddenly remembering something Dumbledore had said...his final task...what was it? And then Harry had an awful, sinking realisation, Bellatrix Lestrange.
"What's the matter Harry?! You did it mate! YOU DID IT!!!" Ron was practically galloping around the room now.
"What's all the noise - HARRY!!!" Mrs. Weasley had stuck her head in the door when Ron started making a racket. "Harry, my dear! Oh Harry!" she hurried towards him, and grinning at her weakly, Harry accepted her overbearing embrace gratefully.
Hearing all the noise going on in the room, the others rushed in.
"Oh!" sobbed Ginny, rushing forwards and nudging Mrs. Weasley, not too gently, out of the way. "Harry," she breathed softly.
"Ginny..." Harry stared at her, his heart suddenly feeling a thousand times lighter. Ignoring the stares from everyone around them, he pulled her towards him and kissed her lightly on the lips. They pulled apart, grinning at each other, then hugged tightly. With a sob, Hermione rushed over and threw her arms around them both, Ron shrugged to himself and did the same, with an enormous smile. Luna and Neville exchanged a glance, then followed suit a beat later.
Harry, Ginny, Hermione, Ron, Luna and Neville – the six friends and the remaining members of the DA - sat like this for a very, very long time.
Re: Harry Potter and the Hellfire Potion
Chapter 10 ~ The Madness Within
Very far away, a completely different scene was taking place.
"There must be something...anything," Bellatrix Lestrange muttered to herself as she riffled through an enormous book. She had broken into the Riddle house in Little Hangleton, the last place that Lord Voldemort had lived, and had feverishly torn the place apart looking for the ancient book. It was as big as a paving stone, bound in black leather and edged with gold. It contained some of the most evil, dark magic ever known to wizard kind, and she intended to use it against Harry Potter. Since learning of Voldemort's death, something had broken in her mind - she had lost her husband and her sister, but this was much, much worse. Her Lord, her master was no longer there to command her and she knew only one thing; she must avenge his death.
There was a popping noise to her left - a tall man in black robes appeared in the dark, dusty room.
"Bella. I thought I would find you here," said Lucius Malfoy roughly, lowering his hood. He too had changed dramatically - partly due to his long stay in Azkaban, but mostly because of the loss of his wife, Narcissa. She had been killed by Lord Voldemort as Lucius’s punishment for having a son who had failed to kill Albus Dumbledore.
“Leave me, Lucius. I am busy,” she said, hardly glancing his way, still tearing through the pages of the book.
“Bella, this is madness – the Dark Lord is gone – Narcissa is gone. We must flee before the Ministry catches us. It is only a matter of time before they discover where you are. Come with Draco and I – I have friends who will look after us far, far away from here…” He knew she wasn’t listening. He didn’t really care about what would happen to her, but he knew Narcissa would have wanted him to help her sister. Thinking of his dead wife, Lucius gripped the back of an old armchair to steel himself. He had been forced to watch whilst Voldemort tortured her, into insanity and then, mercifully, death had come to her, but not before she had had to endure the very worst. He had been paralysed by fear of Voldemort and had done nothing to stop her pain. Her screams still haunted him at night, but who could prevent the Dark Lord’s will? There was really only one to blame for all that had occurred: Harry Potter. If they had only killed him when they had the chance, none of this would have happened, none of it! Lucius felt his blood start to boil with rage, and felt good – directing his anger at Harry allowed him to forget his own part in this tragedy. He walked towards Bella and seized her roughly by the shoulders,
“Come on. You foolish woman! Do you really think you will be able to destroy Potter alone? When not even the Dark Lord was” – he stopped abruptly. Bella spat in his face,
“How dare you! How dare you suggest that that filthy blood traitor was capable of destroying the Dark Lord alone!” she swung back her hand to slap Lucius, but he caught her and threw her to the floor.
“As you wish,” he said contemptuously, glaring down at her and wiping his face, “If you are fool enough to risk your own neck, so be it. I however have no wish to return to Azkaban. Draco and I leave at midnight. You know where to find us should you return to your senses.”
And without a backwards look, he vanished, leaving Bellatrix to crawl back to the book and begin to turn the pages from the beginning, searching, searching, for the downfall of Harry Potter…
Re: Harry Potter and the Hellfire Potion
Chapter 11 ~ Muggle Mobiles
"How are you feeling today, dear?" Mrs Weasley asked Harry, as she bustled around his hospital room, opening the curtains with a flick of her wand with one hand, and adding more pillows behind his head with the other.
"I'm fine, just a bit tired," said Harry, yawning widely.
There was a knock at the door, and a nurse brought in a tray of breakfast, setting it down gently on his lap and scurrying from the room hastily. Between Hedwig and Mrs. Weasley, most of the staff at St. Mungo's had learnt not to linger too long in Harry's room. Only Healer Smethington could tend to Harry without an ear bashing or a hand pecking.
"Hmm," said Mrs. Weasley, watching the nurse leave the room with a beady eye, while Hedwig ruffled her feathers threateningly "Well you're still dreadfully pale, dear. Eat that now while it's still warm, though I don't know what they're thinking, expecting people to get better eating that rubbish," she and Harry surveyed the contents of his breakfast; leathery looking fried eggs, shrivelled up bacon and extremely unappetizing looking tomatoes. "The sooner we get you home the better - then you can have some proper food." she said sternly.
"About that..." said Harry tentatively, picking up his fork, "er, well - I -"
"Now Harry, dear," said Mrs. Weasley gently, sitting on the edge of his bed and reaching out for his hand, "I know what you're going to say and Arthur and I don't want you to worry about a thing. You are family and your home will always be with us. If we could adopt you we would! Now, I know Remus is your official guardian now," she said quickly, as Harry opened his mouth to point this out, "but he agrees. You need a real home. He's very busy with his work for the Order, and although he and Tonks are desperate for you to go and live with them when they finally get married, it's just not practical now. They'll need time to find a home and I won't rest easy unless I know you're being looked after properly. Now Harry, our decision is final - " she said, interrupting Harry once more.
"No, no! I'm not disagreeing! I - I just wanted to say thanks," he stammered, "You and Mr. Weasley have been, well, you know, and I... er, well..." he trailed off, turning mildly pink. How did he put into words that they meant more to him than anything in the world?
"There's no need to say a word," said Mrs. Weasley, guessing his thoughts, her eyes brimming with tears, "not only are you like the seventh son we never had, but you've saved the lives of half the family!" she sniffed and whipped a hanky out of her woolly sleeve, dabbing at her eyes. "Now eat! The others will be here to visit soon. I think Ginny in particular is looking forward to seeing you..." she peered at him out of the corner of her eye. Harry choked on a bit of tough bacon and looked at Mrs Weasley anxiously.
"Oh don't look like that! Arthur and I are thrilled! You're really just one step away from officially being part of the family!" she sighed, looking misty eyed.
"Er ... I don't think we're quite there yet, Mrs. Weasley,"
"What?" she said, suddenly snapping out of her reverie, "oh, no! Of course not, dear! Just silly old me, getting carried away! I'll go and see where that lot have got to!" and she swept out of the room, but not before Harry saw her hide a small smile.
"Well, I don't suppose it would hurt too much to think about the future, would it Hedwig?" he asked his snowy owl, feeding her some of his now cold bacon. Hedwig hooted her agreement. Though, as much as he cared for Ginny, he knew there was only two things he could focus on now; getting better and getting out of here to stop Bellatrix Lestrange.
There was a tap on the door and it immediately swung open to reveal Ginny, Hermione and Ron. Each was staggering under the weight of a ton of Honeydukes confectionery.
"What's all that?" asked Harry. Hedwig seized her chance while he wasn't looking to snap up the rest of his bacon. Ginny came over to kiss him on the forehead and perched at the end of his bed, scattering brightly coloured packages of chocolate everywhere.
"It's for you mate. A thank you present from millions of wizards and witches! There's loads of this stuff outside - food, flowers, robes - even a couple of broomsticks! The Welcome Witch told us we'd better find somewhere for it or she'd chuck the lot. Grumpy cow," he said, shaking his head.
"Ron! That's not fair - it is getting in the way a bit. Sorry Harry," said Hermione apologetically, dumping a load of sweets on his bedside table.
"So what? Harry's saved the world from the most evil sorcerer on the planet! You'd think she let him make a bit of mess!"
Hermione gave Ron a stern look and joined Ginny on the edge of Harry's bed.
"So! How are you today?" she asked brightly.
"Good. Can't wait to get out of here though,"
"Well that's all right cos Mum says you can come home tonight!" said Ginny happily.
"Yeah - she just told us as we were coming in. Healer Smethington says you just need rest, and Mum convinced him you could get that at home, so..." Ron picked idly through the small mountain of goodies on Harry's bed. Ginny slapped his hand away,
"Those are for Harry!" she snapped, playfully.
"Yeah, but he doesn't mind - do you Harry?" Ron looked at Harry beseechingly.
"Course not! Dig in!" and laughing, the four of them tore into the sweets, when -
"Knock, knock!" came a dreamy voice from the doorway.
"Luna! Neville! Come in and join us," said Harry, noticing that the pair of them also had an armload of gifts.
"The Welcome Witch asked us -”
"To get rid of all that stuff too?" interjected Harry, his mouth full of Bertie Botts Every Flavour Beans.
"Yeah - she was a bit stern about it too," said Neville, reaching for a Chocolate Frog and passing it to Luna, before helping himself to a liquorice wand.
"Where did all this come from, Harry?" asked Luna, who held her still unwrapped Frog in her hand.
"Thank you gifts from all around the world!" said Ginny, smiling proudly at Harry.
"Oh...Well have you made sure there are no Snalaky Snackattackers in there?"
Hermione, Ron and Ginny each choked on their sweets. Harry and Neville, who were slightly more resigned to Luna's theories simply raised their eyebrows in polite question.
"Er...come again?" asked Harry, fighting his impulse to laugh. Ginny and Ron weren't doing quite as well.
"Oh it's terrible," Luna said seriously, "Dark Wizards place them in people's favourite foods, and when you bite into it, they multiply and run all over your face, and try to eat your eyes right out of their sockets!"
Ron was laughing so hard now, whilst trying to hold it in that his face turned purple and his cheeks bulged with un-swallowed sweets. Hermione conjured a tiny bowl for him to spit them into, and gave him a hard thump on the back. He spat, and then came up gasping for air, he eyes streaming. Luna did not appear to have noticed any of this, but continued to look concerned about the sweets in question.
"Er, these ones are okay, thanks Luna - they've all been checked out," said Harry, hanging on valiantly to his last ounce of composure.
"Oh good," she said, looking a lot happier, and sat down to unwrap her Frog.
"Anyway!" said Ginny, tearing her eyes away from Luna and turning back to Harry, "let's get you packed and go back to the Burrow! Mum's making a huge feast for you and Hermione, Luna and Neville are coming to stay for a few days!"
"Wow! Great! But...how are we going to get rid of this lot?" he surveyed the mountain of sweets that now seemed to be everywhere.
"Well...why don't we magic back all the other stuff, like robes and broomsticks, so you can find out who sent them, and leave the sweets here for the kids ward?" asked Hermione.
"Yeah, good idea! But I doubt that Welcome Witch will like it!" said Harry, climbing out of bed.
"Tough!" said Ron and Hermione in unison.
Everyone laughed and began to scramble around Harry's room, gathering up gifts, sweets and his belongings. Harry allowed himself a quick moment to look at his friends, happy and relaxed. If only they knew, he thought. Don't think about that now. Just enjoy it before you have to find Bellatrix.
And with that thought, he gathered Hedwig into her cage and laughing along with the others, prepared to go home.
After a quick dash around the Children’s Ward of St. Mungo’s, which included the signing of many bits of parchment for all of them (all the children wanted the autograph of the great Harry Potter and his amazing friends who had helped him defeat Lord Voldemort), Harry and the others prepared to leave the hospital. Healer Smethington was there to give Harry one final check up.
“Now if you have any problems, any at all, please come and see me immediately – better yet, call on me and I shall come to you. After all,” he said, beaming down at Harry, “it’s not everyday I get to treat the most famous wizard in the world!”
Harry had grinned weakly at this – he could hardly remember what he had done to defeat Voldemort – not that he was complaining - but it did feel rather odd to have so much praise heaped upon him for something he was only vaguely sure he had done. Ron, Hermione and the others were acting fairly normally, though he thought he had caught Hermione starting to ask him about what had happened at the Ministry, only to be shushed by Ron several times. Ginny was fit to bursting with pride (which Harry didn’t mind one bit) and Luna was her usual, dreamy self. Harry found himself thinking, in spite of what lay ahead, that he was truly, genuinely, really happy, for the first time since Dumbledore had died. Speaking to Dumbledore in that mysterious golden room had been almost as good as having him back in the flesh, and Harry felt sure that there would be more conversations like that to come, and it made him hopeful. And after all…if he could defeat Lord Voldemort, surely he could defeat Bellatrix Lestrange?
As they left the hospital, (which took some time as more, fully-grown wizards wanted to stop and thank Harry and get his autograph) they met the giant form of Rubeus Hagrid, who had come to escort them to the Burrow.
“Hagrid!” exclaimed Harry, rushing towards him, and allowing himself to be swept into an enormous hug, “I didn’t know you were meeting us!”
“Well, I jus wanted to – to help you with yer things…” said Hagrid, sheepishly, reaching for the armload of gifts Harry was staggering under.
“Oh really?” smiled Hermione, “sure you weren’t just checking up on Harry?”
“Alrigh’, alrigh’ – yer caught me – I – I jus couldn’t wait t’see yer, Harry,” said Hagrid, his eyes misting over. “I’m jus so proud of yer! Fancy that eh? You, defeating You-Know-Who – all by yerself!”
“Hagrid – I think you can call him by his name now,” said Harry firmly.
“I know, I know – I’m jus bein’ silly,” he said, dabbing his eyes with his hanky. “But enough abou’ that fer now! Let’s get you home, Harry! There’s a party for yer!”
“How are we getting there, Hagrid?” asked Neville, who, like the others, was also carrying a large armload of Harry’s gifts from well-wishers.
“Ministry, or more like, wha’s left o’ the Ministry sent tha’ car,” said Hagrid, inclining his head towards a large car across the road, with two official looking wizards sitting in the front seats. “So…” he said, casually as they crossed the road, “d’yer remember anything yet, Harry?”
“Er, no – not really – it’s all a bit of a blur,” said Harry, not quite meeting Hagrid’s eye. He was telling the truth, but he didn’t really feel like sharing what had happened between him and Dumbledore – at least not yet anyway.
“It’s amazing though, how you recovered like tha’! One minute, we thought you was a goner, then the next you was awake! So…” he asked again, in another would-be casual voice, “wha’ was it Lupin brought yer? Y’know, that made y’better?”
Harry exchanged a swift glance with Hermione and Ron. Aside from Lupin, they were the only people who knew that Fawkes had healed Harry with his magical tears. When Harry had come round, Fawkes had burst into flames and disappeared, just as the others had come back into Harry’s hospital room. Harry didn’t want to lie to Hagrid, but he knew Dumbledore wanted him to keep this information to himself.
“Er… I don’t really know,” said Harry, looking firmly at the car door that was now being opened for him by a very deferential Ministry wizard.
“Right! Say no more.” said Hagrid, who obviously thought Harry was being tight lipped because of the Ministry personnel present. It was easier to let him think this than have to tell him a lie, so Harry nodded gravely to Hagrid, who winked back conspiratorially. The seven of them, along with Hedwig in her cage and Harry’s mountain of gifts sat in the magically enlarged backseat of the car and it pulled away from the kerb. Once satisfied the coast was clear, the driver looked casually around, and then hit a large button on the dashboard. There was a sputter, and the car vanished and suddenly took off into the air.
“Oi!” shouted Ron indignantly, “that was my Dad’s idea!”
One of the wizards twisted in his seat to address Ron, with a smile on his face, “Who do you think gave the order to have them made, sir?”
Ron’s mouth fell open in amazement.
“You mean the Ministry finally bought one of his inventions?” he asked in awe. Ginny was looking pretty shocked too. She and Ron looked at each other with eyes the size of saucers, their red eyebrows nearly disappearing into their flaming red hair.
“Yes – we have over one hundred flying cars now, though your father wanted to call them Muggle Mobiles. The Minister didn’t feel it was an appropriate name though, so we just refer to them as Ministry on the Move cars. They’ve cut travelling time in a vehicle dramatically.”
Ron and Ginny continued to stare, open-mouthed. “How come he didn’t tell us?” asked Ginny finally.
“I expect with everything that’s been going on,” said Hermione with a meaningful look at Harry, “he probably forgot!” and then she began to giggle, in a very un-Hermione like way.
It was infectious – they all remembered too clearly the time that poor Mr. Weasley had been fined by the Ministry (when Cornelius Fudge had been in charge) for being in possession of an “illegally enchanted Muggle item”. Of course, it had been Harry and Ron’s fault he was charged, as they had stolen the car to get to school.
It seemed like perfect poetic justice then, with that in mind, that Mr. Weasley was now being paid by the Ministry to produce a hundred of the illegally enchanted cars…
Re: Harry Potter and the Hellfire Potion
Chapter 12 ~ The Party of the Decade
As the flying car touched down on the lane leading to the Burrow, Harry noticed a something huge and white attached to the front of the Weasley’s home.
“What’s that?” he asked, pushing his glasses a little further up his nose and leaning forward to squint through the windscreen.
As the car trundled closer to the Burrow, Harry gasped. The huge white thing was a banner, reading: “Harry Potter – Saviour of the Wizarding World!” Harry squirmed in his seat. The others were beaming at him, but he found it a bit embarrassing. Daring to look up again, he realised that the Weasley’s home was surrounded by people, waving and smiling eagerly. The Ministry wizard parked the car and leapt out to open the door. Taking a deep breath, Harry climbed out with Hedwig’s cage firmly under his arm and looked at the crowd awkwardly. There was a moments silence and suddenly a huge cheer went up, nearly deafening Harry. It continued as the others got out of the car, looking a bit bewildered but pleased nonetheless. Hedwig began to flap her wings in alarm, prompting Harry to move his feet. Mr and Mrs Weasley, standing at the front of the huge crowd with Ron’s brothers, Charlie and Bill (Percy had yet to return home) hurried forwards with open arms to usher them up the path and into the house. Witches and wizards were clapping Harry on the back and trying to shake his free hand, shouting out words of thanks and congratulations. Harry caught a glimpse of his Hogwarts classmates, Seamus Finnegan, Dean Thomas and Ernie Macmillan, all cheering him on. Cries of “Good one, Harry!” and even “I love you, Harry!” punctuated the roar. Harry could just make out Ron s******ing behind him, and felt his face turn scarlet. They finally reached the front door and went in, Mr. Weasley shutting the door firmly behind them. There was a sudden, panicked thumping on the door, accompanied by a muffled cry,
“Hey! Let me in!”
“Oh! Sorry Neville!" said Mr. Weasley, wrenching the door open once more and pulling Neville unceremoniously through the door, slamming it behind him. Neville could only look at him with bulging eyes, but Mr Weasley had turned his attention to Harry.
“I’m sorry about all this, Harry,” he said in a low voice, taking the opportunity to talk to Harry while Mrs. Weasley was busy fussing over Ron and Ginny, “I told Molly you wouldn’t like it, but, well, she got a little carried away…” he trailed off looking at Harry with a worried expression.
“It’s okay! It makes a nice change from people thinking I’m bonkers,” said Harry, smiling. The truth was he would rather avoid all this fuss, but would not dare offend Mrs. Weasley for anything in the world. “Who are all these people?” he asked the room in general.
“Well-wishers, Harry! They all wanted to thank you and when they heard that you were coming home they all started popping by! I happened to mention that we were having a little party and word spread and here we are!” exclaimed Mrs. Weasley, hardly pausing for breath, her eyes shining with pride as she looked around at them all.
“So come on you lot – let’s go out there so you can meet everyone – Harry, give Hedwig to me, I’ll put her upstairs where it’s a bit quieter.”
Harry handed the cage to Mrs. Weasley and caught Ginny’s eye. She smiled sympathetically and took his hand with a warm squeeze.
“Come on,” she whispered, “let’s go.”
Mr. Weasley put a hand on the doorknob and turned to look at Harry and the others.
“Now before you do, just remember Harry, if you start to feel unwell or tired, or anything at all, let me know and we can get rid of these people in a jiffy.”
Mrs. Weasley hurried forward and put her hand on his forehead.
“That’s right Harry dear, you come straight back in here. Oh dear!” she said wringing her hands, “perhaps this was a bit too much too soon.” She said, looking at him worriedly.
“No, no – I’m fine Mrs Weasley. Really,” he added firmly.
“Well, if you’re sure…”
“I’m sure. Let’s go!”
Mr. Weasley opened the door and the roar of the crowd swept into the tiny kitchen like a gust of excited wind. Keeping a firm hold on Ginny’s hand, with Ron, Hermione, Luna and Neville bringing up the rear, Harry and the others stepped outside. Light bulbs from dozens of cameras were popping all over the place and Harry noticed that there was an enormous trestle table laden with food and drink running the entire length of the front and back garden. Suddenly his stomach rumbled and his heart lightened. I might as well enjoy this! he thought to himself.
Squaring his shoulders, he smiled at the guests and allowed his hand to be shaken, his cheek to be kissed and his back to be slapped. His Hogwarts Professors were all there; Slughorn with his walrus moustache, McGonagall, Flitwick, Sprout - even batty old Trelawney was floating about with her ridiculous beads and giant glasses. Kingsley Shacklebolt, Tonks, Mad-Eye Moody and Lupin were beaming at him, as was Tom the barman from the Leaky Cauldron. Florean Fortescue was there, leaning on his walking stick (he had been rescued by members of the Order after Voldemort’s followers captured and tortured him a few months earlier). Mrs Figg, his batty old neighbour from Privet Drive was there, standing with Argus Filch, who was smiling for once (albeit pretty grimly), Neville’s grandmother, Mrs. Longbottom was smiling imperiously down at them.
They finally reached the table of food. It was heaving with cakes of every flavour imaginable, sandwiches piled high, crisps, pies, salads, Cornish pasties, sausage rolls, roasted chicken and beef, chips, potato salad, an enormous crystal bowl of fruit salad, and, looking almost too elegant for the table, a shimmering tower of extremely decadent chocolate profiteroles (these were of course provided by Fleur, Bill’s wife). In the centre of the garden, a stood a silver fountain magicked up for the occasion, with a stream of foaming Butterbeer. Golden goblets hovered in mid-air, waiting to be filled and the popular wizarding band, the Weird Sisters were playing on a podium, draped in purple velvet, at the far end of the garden.
Lupin made his way up to the podium, and bent down to speak to the Weird Sister’s drummer. The music stopped, and Lupin held his hands up for quiet.
“I am sorry to interrupt what promises to be one of the best parties known to Wizard Kind, but I’m sure you would all like to join me in a toast to Harry and his friends Ron, Hermione, Neville, Ginny and Luna and thank them for all that they have done for us,” he nodded at each of them in turn, as the guest all turned to smile at the group.
“We have been through very dark times of late. Many felt that we could never succeed with our dear friend and wise protector, Albus Dumbledore,” at these words, many of the party guests bowed their heads in respect, “and indeed it was extremely hard to find the right path to follow. But one young man remained determined. He, like many of us, has lost a great deal through the evil actions of Voldemort and his followers,” at this a shudder ran through the group, “but he did not stop.” Turning to Harry, he raised his goblet and the crowd did the same. “Thank you Harry Potter. We owe you everything.” Turning to face the entire audience, he raised his glass again and said, “And let us raise a glass to a bright new future for the Wizarding world.”
And with that, everyone, including Harry and the others, raised their glasses: “The Wizarding world!”
“And now,” said Mrs. Weasley, standing next to the trestle table, “My family and invite you to join us – eat, drink and enjoy!”
A few hours later, the party was in full swing. Mr. Weasley was dancing with Mrs. Weasley, her head nestled on his shoulder, both of them looking happier than Harry had seen them in over two years. Lupin was dancing somewhat awkwardly with Tonks, who was bopping about on the lawn with great abandon, her hair a shimmery golden colour for the party. Seamus was being steered around by a very tipsy Professor McGonagall, much to Dean and Neville's amusement, who were laughing at him openly from the Butterbeer fountain. In the far corner of the garden, looking very hesitant, Ron took Hermione's hand and led her to the edge of the makeshift dance floor. Harry and Ginny, sitting together watching them, exchanged amused looks. Although it had been painfully obvious to all who knew them, Ron and Hermione had just never seemed able to admit to each other how they felt.
"I really hope he just snogs her and gets it over with!" giggled Ginny.
"Er, yeah," said Harry gazing at Ron and Hermione for a moment, before turning to look at Ginny, "Um...listen, can we go inside and talk for a minute?"
"Okay," replied Ginny, looking concerned.
They got up and slipped unseen through the kitchen door. Harry took Ginny's hand and led her through to the sitting room and sank down onto the sofa.
"Harry, what's wrong?" asked Ginny, starting to worry.
"Nothing! It's just that, well...Look, I know that last year I said that we had to stop seeing each other, and now that Voldemort is gone, I wanted to ask - well, the thing is - I - "
"Wanted to make us official again?" asked Ginny, with a hint of a smile returning to her eyes. Harry felt warmth surge over him and a huge grin split his face.
"Yeah! Will...will you be my official girlfriend again? Please?" he added, suddenly doubting what Ginny would say.
"Come here you idiot," said Ginny, leaning in towards him and kissing him softly, "in my mind we were never apart," she whispered as she pulled away.
"Good," said Harry, grinning at her. "I'm sorry it had to be that way, but I couldn't risk - "
"I understand." said Ginny firmly, "but now I don't want anything to keep us apart again - okay?" her voice caught in her throat and her eyes filled with tears.
"Hey! You don't have to be upset!" he pulled her into a hug. "I promise I'm not going anywhere, but there is one more thing you should know -"
The kitchen door burst open and Hermione and Ron tumbled through it.
"There you are! We wondered where you had got to!" exclaimed Ron, striding into the sitting room, holding Hermione's hand. Both had flushed cheeks, but Hermione was looking at Harry and Ginny in concern.
"Um, Ron, I think we should come back later," she said delicately.
"Why?" he said, turning to her. He looked back at Harry and Ginny, who was wiping her eyes. "Hey...what's the matter? Have you been crying?" Ron demanded.
"No, everything's fine now," said Ginny, smiling at Harry.
"Oh. Ooooh," said Ron, comprehension finally dawning on him. "So, er...are you two back together then?"
"Yes!" yelled Ginny happily as she grabbed Harry's hand.
"Wicked...Er, no offense Ginny, but Harry doesn't look so happy about it," he trailed off uncomfortably, looking at Harry's serious expression.
"Well, of course I'm happy about that, but I was just about to tell Ginny something. Something important."
"Oh Harry, Ginny - we're really sorry - we'll go and let you talk," said Hermione, now trying to drag Ron back to the kitchen door.
"No, wait! I need to tell you two as well."
"What is it?" asked Hermione, clutching Ron's hand as they came further into the sitting room.
"Sit down." Harry instructed.
The two of them sank down into an armchair together. Hermione leaned forwards anxiously, and Ron looked pale.
"What is it mate? Are you feeling all right?"
"It's...well...y'know when I was in the hospital, asleep, or in a coma or whatever Healer Smethington called it..?" asked Harry slowly.
"Yes..." said Hermione uncertainly, looking positively faint now. Ginny's hold on Harry's hand tightened.
"What about it Harry? Are you sick?"
"Well, Dumbledore visited me - "
Ron's mouth dropped open and Hermione and Ginny gasped.
"What do you mean 'visited you'?" demanded Hermione.
"We sort of met up in this room, and he told me that I had to take care of myself and make sure I got better. He told me that I had defeated Voldemort," (for once Ron and Ginny didn't flinch at the name) "but that it wasn't over yet." Harry looked at each of them in turn to make sure he had their full attention, "Dumbledore said that there is still someone who could bring Voldemort back - bring his spirit back..."
"What?" Ron mouthed in a hoarse whisper, looking horrified, "do you mean like You-Know-Who's ghost?"
"No, that's what I thought at first, but Dumbledore says that when a really powerful wizard dies, it's possible to bring back his spirit and that that will be more powerful than ever - but that only the darkest wizard would chose to do that because it's pure evil - like splitting your soul into Horcruxes - so something that would be right up Voldemort's street."
"But who would want to do that?" asked Ginny, who looked like she was going to be sick, "who would want to bring him back into our lives?"
"Bellatrix Lestrange." It was not Harry who said this but someone in the doorway.
"Neville!" gasped Hermione, turning around, "W-what are you doing in here?"
"It is her, isn't it Harry?" he asked, ignoring Hermione's question.
Harry looked Neville square in the eye. "Yes."
Neville's mouth tightened, but he was calm, considering that Bellatrix and her husband were responsible for his parent's being in St. Mungo's for the rest of their lives.
"How are you going to stop her?"
"Hang on! Who says Harry has to stop her?" demanded Ginny, her eyes flashing. "Surely the Ministry can manage to catch Bellatrix Lestrange without him?"
Harry stared down at their linked hands.
"No! I won't let you! You've done enough! We've all done enough!" she said angrily.
"Harry - what else did Dumbledore say to you?" asked Hermione gently, trying to stop Ginny before she got a full head of steam behind her outburst.
"He told me that I had one, final task to complete. He said I had to make sure I was physically well again, and that I have to stop Bellatrix - not kill her, but make sure she doesn't bring Voldemort back. He also said that she hasn't discovered how to do it yet."
Hermione bit her lip as she pondered these words. Ron looked at Ginny as she brushed angry tears aside. Neville was rooted to the spot as he stared intently at Harry.
"You have to stop her Harry," he said quietly. Ginny whipped around to face Neville furiously, but he held up his hand and said, "You know it has to be you. The Ministry have tried and failed so many times to catch her and keep her where she belongs. You stopped Voldemort - and now you have to stop her. And if that means she dies, then so much the better." He held Harry's gaze steadily. Harry realised, for the first time, just how much Neville had changed over these past couple of years. He felt a silent rush of understanding pass between them - each had lost their parents to Voldemort and his Death Eaters and only Neville could really understand just how deep the pain ran - far more than Hermione or any of the Weasley's ever could. He nodded to Neville and Ginny let out a sob.
"No, no, no," she moaned, "I don't want to lose you again, Harry."
Ron struggled out of the armchair he was sharing with Hermione and moved over to Ginny, kneeling down in front of her.
"Listen - it'll be okay! If Harry here can get rid of You-Know-Who, Bellatrix Lestrange will be a piece of cake!"
"That's not what she means though, is it Ginny?" asked Hermione.
"Eh? What does she mean then?" asked Ron, confused.
"She means she doesn't want Harry to put their relationship on hold again. I'm right aren't I?" Hermione asked again.
Ginny nodded, then looked at Harry defiantly. "Well?" she asked, "are you going to say that we can't see each other so you can keep me safe again? Because if you are I will be so angry! I can take care of myself, and I'm older now, AND you just asked me to get back together with you again, so it would be really unfair - "
"Whoa! Ginny! Slow down a minute!" gasped Harry, suppressing a grin, "There is no way I would dare ask you to do that again - and Ron is right - this won't be like it was with Voldemort. Dumbledore thinks there is time to prepare, and this time I'll have the Order to help me. And you of course," he added hastily, as Ginny, Neville, Ron and Hermione all opened their mouths to point this out to him. "But," he said turning to address them all, "I think we should keep this to ourselves for the time being. I'll talk to Lupin about it later and then we'll go to the Order. I just don't think it's a good idea to worry anyone else with this right now - especially not when everyone is so happy for the first time in ages."
The others nodded. Neville left silently to rejoin the party. After giving Ginny a quick hug, Hermione and Ron followed him. Left alone, Harry turned to Ginny and brushed her long red hair back and cupped her face gently in his hands.
"I'm sorry," she whispered, her eyes downcast, "I just don't want to waste any more of our time together. I don't know what I would have done if you hadn't come out of the coma and it made me realise that I...that I love you, Harry," she looked up at him shyly.
Harry thought that his insides would burst with happiness as he pulled her gently towards him and kissed her.
It was well past two in the morning by the time the last party guests left the Weasley's garden. Luna was dozing in a lawn chair and Neville, seeming preoccupied had gone to bed early. Harry and the others were stretched out lazily on a blanket, watching a very rare phenomenon: Mrs. Weasley had astonished everybody by getting extremely tipsy, and she was now twirling round in the middle of the garden, humming absentmindedly to herself whilst conjuring pink and gold hearts that shimmered around her head. Mr. Weasley chuckled softly to himself as he and Charlie cleared up.
"I haven't seen her this relaxed in such a long time!" he sighed happily to his children. Ginny was giggling at the sight, but Ron as steadily turning red.
"Dad! Can't you stop her? This is so embarrassing!"
"No way little bro!" exclaimed Fred, watching his mother with glee, as George sneaked behind a shrub, taking pictures of their mother, "this is going to be pure gold! Blackmail material for the rest of our lives!"
"I'm not sure how long your lives will last when your mother finds out you took pictures of her in this state!" Hermione said in amusement.
"Pictures? Of me?" exclaimed Mrs. Weasley, spinning unsteadily to face Ron, "Oh how lovely!" and she proceeded to strike several extravagant poses, not realising that George, who had the camera, was off to her far right. "Now one with me and Ronniekins!" and oblivious to his attempts to escape, Mrs. Weasley pulled Ron towards her and threw both arms about his neck.
"Mum! Gerroff me!" squealed Ron, much to Harry, Hermione and the rest of the Weasleys' delight. It was too much for them, they fell about laughing while George captured the moment on camera. Grudgingly, Ron smiled, until he too joined in with the laughter.
"All right, all right," said Mr. Weasley, wiping his eyes. "I think that's enough now. Come on Molly, let's get you to bed." Gently disentangling Ron from his mother's embrace, Mr. Weasley led his wife to the kitchen door.
"Kiss me Arthur!" Mrs. Weasley demanded, hiccoughing slightly, attempting to engage Mr. Weasley in another dance. "Yes dear, maybe later," he said quietly, casting a furtive look over his shoulder at the others, who were now doubled up and howling on the lawn. "Be quiet you lot and get this garden cleared up! I doubt your mother will want to wake up to your photos and this mess tomorrow - or later today should I say!"
"Yes Dad," grumbled the twins reluctantly. "Yes Mr. Weasley!" said Harry and Hermione, as they stood up and began to wave their wands, clearing the mess up as they went. As Mr. Weasley closed the kitchen door behind him, the others caught the last strains of a song Mrs. Weasley was singing about coconuts.
“Do you think we should wake Luna?” asked Hermione, still giggling about Mrs. Weasley, “She might get cold.”
“Nah, let’s leave her be for now,” said Ginny, placing the blanket they had been sitting on over Luna, “she looks so tired. I’ll wake her before we go inside.”
Glancing around, Ginny made sure the twins were out of earshot, and then said quietly enough so that only Harry, Ron and Hermione could hear, “So…Do you have any idea what you’re going to do about Bellatrix?”
Hermione froze midway between vanishing a squashed gateaux, causing half of it to disappear while the rest remained, congealing on the lawn, while she looked at Harry with wide, slightly frightened eyes. Ron too had stopped his rather half-hearted attempt to collect all the Butterbeer goblets that were scattered about the garden, to stare at Harry. Harry himself heaved a deep sigh. “I don’t really know yet. Anyone got any ideas?” he said, looking mostly at Hermione. She was always best at thinking clearly in situations like this.
“Well…this might sound silly, but I think we need to try and talk to – to D-Dumbledore –“ she said hesitantly.
“Well of course I’d love to do that, but I don’t know how to make that happen. When I was in hospital, he just sort of appeared – I didn’t ask him to – he just turned up. I don’t know if I can just make that happen again.”
“Actually mate, we saw him too.” Said Ron, looking to Ginny and Hermione for back up.
“You what?” gasped Harry.
“It was when we were in the Ministry,” said Ginny, “we had you on the stretcher and the walls were tumbling down around us and – “
“ – and I said ‘help us’ – or something like that, and this figure sort of appeared and showed us where there was a way out! It – it really looked like Dumbledore.” Hermione concluded lamely.
“Lupin told us that truly great wizards could show themselves in times of need, or something like that, so - so that’s what we reckon happened.” He looked at Harry, while Ginny and Hermione nodded fervently. “You…you do believe us, don’t you?” asked Ron, looking unsure of himself. The three of them stared at Harry. He stared right back at them, thinking hard.
“Of course I believe you! I’m just trying to think of a way we can talk to Dumbledore again…”
“Well that’s easy,” said Ginny.
“Oh yeah?” asked Harry.
“Yeah,” she said, a smile breaking over her face, “we can go and talk to his portrait, in McGonagall’s office!”
Re: Harry Potter and the Hellfire Potion
Chapter 13 ~ The Short Version
"And why exactly would I permit you access to my office when I am not there?" demanded Minerva McGonagall, her nostrils flaring. It was mid-morning and she took a seat at the kitchen table, where Harry, Hermione, Ron and Ginny were sitting, eating a late breakfast of sausages and eggs. Mr. Weasley had gone to work at the Ministry several hours earlier and Mrs. Weasley had yet to surface. Professor McGonagall had arrived by Floo powder moments earlier in response to Harry's owl, requesting an urgent meeting. She had brought Hedwig back with her, rather than making her fly back to the Burrow and her beautiful white feathers were now a murky grey colour from the soot. Harry and Ron looked at each other thinking the same thing, should we tell her? Ron gave Harry a small nod. Harry took a deep breath and said,
"We need to talk to Professor Dumbledore - and it doesn't matter if you're there...or not," he said, looking Professor McGonagall squarely in the eye.
"I see, oh thank you, Miss Granger," she said, as Hermione placed a mug of tea in front of her. Hermione lifted Hedwig gently out of the Professor's hands and took her to the sink where she began to brush the soot out of her feathers. Hedwig hooted at her and softly nipped her fingers in thanks. "And why exactly do you want to talk to him? Or should I ask," McGonagall added shrewdly, "why do you need to talk to him?"
"Well, it's a long story," said Harry, "but believe me - we wouldn't be asking unless it was really important."
"I see," said Professor McGonagall again. She took a sip of her tea and set the mug carefully back down on the wooden table. She interlaced her fingers and leaned forwards, looking Harry equally as squarely in the eye.
"Then you had better give me the short version."
"This is hopeless!" screamed Bellatrix Lestrange, flinging the magical book into the fire. After scouring its pages she had still not found what she was looking for, even though she was not quite sure exactly what it was she needed to find. A shriek escaped the book as its pages curled and blackened in the green flames. She looked at it with contempt. Yes, it had contained some truly awful Dark magic, but it was not enough. She wanted to make Potter really suffer, feel pain beyond pain - beg for death. The book did not contain that sort of punishment. No...she would need to take from him what he loved most. Perhaps she should kidnap one of his little friends...the filthy Mudblood Draco had told her about? Or perhaps the red haired imbecile...or his annoying little sister? Potter seemed very enamoured with her... Looking up, Bella caught a glimpse of her misshapen face in the shattered mirror above the fireplace. It was her custom to destroy any mirror in her sight, ever since the Dark Lord had punished her. In the few shards of glass that remained in the frame, she could see her ugly, melted skin and sunken, hollow eyes. She was exhausted.
"I need rest," she murmured to herself, sinking onto a filthy sofa with rotting fabric and drawing her travelling cloak around her for warmth, "tomorrow will be the day I find the magic to destroy you, Potter..." and comforted by that thought, Bella drifted off to sleep.
She was walking on damp grass, in a very dark forest. The only light came from the full moon directly above. She shivered as she looked around, hearing footsteps to her right - then her left - wait! Right behind her! Bella stumbled as she swung this way and that, trying to locate the cause of the footsteps. A soft sigh echoed through the trees. Bella gasped in fear, groping for her wand.
"Lumos!" she breathed, her heart thumping in her ears, "Who's there?" she asked, backing up until her spine made contact with something solid. "Aargh!" she jumped with fright, letting out a sigh of relief, discovering it was only an old oak tree.
"Bella..." her name whispered through the dark.
"Show yourself!" Bella demanded, beads of sweat dotting her brow.
"Bella..." her name was called again, growing stronger with each syllable. Bella heard the footsteps again and swung once more to her right, brandishing her wand. There was no-one there.
Slowly turning around on the spot, she came face to face with -
"Bella..." Narcissa, Bellatrix's sister, murdered by Voldemort months before, was standing right before her, looking whole again, her white blond hair fluttering out behind her, even though there was not a breath of wind stirring in the trees.
"It-it can't be!" stammered Bella, staggering backwards, nearly falling to the floor in her attempt to put some distance between herself and her dead sister. She stared at Narcissa, whose skin was a pearly grey colour. She seemed to be hovering a few inches from the ground and held her hands out to Bella imploringly.
"Bella...my sister...I do not have much time..." her voice made the hairs on the back of Bella's neck stand on end. "I have come to warn you...you must cease before it is too late..."
"What do you mean? Cease what?"
"You must lay this feud to rest. You must not continue down this path...it will be your destruction,"
"What do you mean? What path?"
"Your attempts to destroy Harry Potter...in the end they will only destroy you. Bella," she implored as she glided closer to her sister, "I am in a state of permanent torture for the evil deeds I have committed. There can be no redemption for me, but for you, if you continue with your plans, there will be everlasting torment and hell. The path you have chosen will lead to your ultimate doom. I have escaped for but a few moments to warn you...to beg you to stop!"
"How can you say that? The Dark Lord was all-powerful, we lived to serve him! I must avenge his death - I must! Potter must not be allowed to live," she spat with contempt.
"Bella, Bella - " Narcissa glanced fearfully over her shoulder, at what Bella could not see, "My time is nearly up. Please think about what I have said. You must stop this - now! Please Bella, please!" she cried desperately as her outline began to blur.
"Narcissa?" screamed Bella, as she reached out a hand to her sister, "Cissy? No! Come back! Cissy!"
And with a start Bella woke up, heart racing and drenched in sweat, to find herself still on the rotting couch in the Riddle house.
"Well, the thing is Professor, I need his advice. I think we might still be in danger from the Death Eaters that the Ministry haven't caught yet. I need to know what Dumbledore thinks," said Harry, making it sound like the idea had just popped into his head, rather than being visited in his dreams by their dead Headmaster.
"I see," said Professor MacGonagall looking gravely concerned, "well perhaps you should also talk to the Minister, Potter. The Auror Squad ought to know about your concerns."
"Yeah, well there's no way that I'm going back to that place anytime soon," said Harry, wryly.
"Now Potter - Harry," her gaze softening slightly, "I know how you feel about the Ministry, and I believe I share the same views as you," she said, with a hint of a smile, "but you must realise that to capture the remaining Death Eaters, you will need Auror's on your side. You are still weak from your battle with You-Know - You-Know - oh drat - Voldemort and as such I think it would be prudent to discuss matters with the Minister."
Harry opened his mouth to protest once more, but Professor MacGonagall interjected swiftly,
"And yes, you may visit my office to consult with Professor Dumbledore's portrait. You are always welcome." she finished, reaching over to pat his hand, "Albus thought a great deal of you Harry, a great deal, and I know he would be extremely proud of all you have accomplished so far." Her eyes misted over for a moment, before she snapped back to her usual brisk self. "Anyway! I must be getting back to Hogwarts. There is much to do to prepare for the new term. Good day to you all," she said, nodding to all of them in turn. Stepping towards the fireplace, she threw in a pinch of glittering Floo powder, and with a cry of "Hogwarts!" she was gone.
They watched her disappear. Turning to the rest of them Harry asked: "So...what do you reckon? Should we go to the Ministry?"
"What, those pillocks? Nah mate, I reckon we can handle her by ourselves!" said Ron confidently.
"Are you insane?" said Hermione angrily, "Bellatrix Lestrange has avoided capture for the past three years! Harry, " she said, turning back to him, "you've got to be careful that you don't underestimate her - she's extremely powerful, extremely evil and we know she would stop at nothing to do you in!"
"Ah come on Hermione!" said Ron, cutting Harry off, "if Harry can defeat a great git like V-V-Voldemort, he can definitely take care of one witch!"
"And that's where you're wrong!" Hermione near bellowing stood up suddenly, knocking her chair over as she did so. Hedwig ruffled her feathers in alarm and Crookshanks shot into a nearby cupboard. Ginny, Ron and Harry stared at her with their mouths open. "In case you hadn't noticed, Harry is a mess! You've barely recovered from battling Voldemort! You're thin as a rake, you get tired after being up for only a few hours and you're still dealing with this whole thing mentally! Bellatrix Lestrange is not just 'one witch'! She is pure evil! Look what she did to us! Look what she did to Sirius! And if that's not enough," she shouted at the top of her lungs, her face a dangerous shade of red now, "LOOK AT WHAT SHE DID TO NEVILLE'S PARENTS! DO YOU THINK THEY ENJOYED BEING TORTURED INTO INSANITY?! DO YOU THINK IT'S FUN FOR THEM, NOT KNOWING WHO OR WHERE THEY ARE? NOT RECOGNISING THEIR OWN SON? SHE HAS THE ABILITY TO BRING VOLDEMORT BACK AND YOU REFUSE TO TAKE IT SERIOUSLY! YOU ARE SO - "
Shaking, Hermione turned to find Neville and Luna standing in the doorway of the kitchen, both wearing horrified expressions.
"Oh Neville, I-I- I'm so s-sorry," mumbled Hermione, hanging her head in shame, the colour draining rapidly from her face. Neville on the other hand was steadily turning scarlet, his eyes wide.
"That's okay, Hermione. You're right. You should be taking this seriously," he pointed a trembling finger at Harry and Ron, "that's the only way to get her. You c-can't underestimate her, or she'll k-kill you, or make you wish she had..." he trailed off and hurried out of the kitchen, with Luna close at his heels.
Ginny reached down and picked up Hermione's chair. "Sit down," she said gently, breaking the tense silence in the room and tugging on Hermione's arm. Hermione sank into the chair looking positively ill.
"Now look," Ginny said sternly (reminding Harry for one scary moment of Mrs. Weasley) "Hermione and Neville are right. Harry," she said, rounding on him, "you told me that Dumbledore said you had to get better before you rushed off to fight Bellatrix, right?"
"Right..." said Harry, feeling rather small.
"And are you better? No!" she said, not waiting for an answer. "And you," turning on Ron now, "You can barely say Voldemort's name without flinching, so stop making out you're so cool with all of this. It's scary and it's okay to admit it! Now, we will defeat her, because we have to, but if we rush off without thinking then we might as well walk up to Bellatrix without wands and ask her to kill us! Now I don't trust the Ministry any more than you do, but we have to talk to someone there - and yes, I know you don't want to, but tough! We're going - "
She stopped abruptly. A large eagle owl had just swooped in through the open kitchen window and landed on the draining board. Hedwig blinked at it interestedly as Ron moved towards it to remove the letter it carried, keen to avoid a further ear bashing from Ginny.
"It's for you, Harry!" he said passing the letter over, as the owl gave Hedwig a wink and a hoot, then took flight once more. Harry tore the letter open and read the official looking parchment within.
"Well, it looks like you two got your wish," he said, looking at Ginny and Hermione.
"What do you mean?" asked Hermione meekly, speaking for the first time since her outburst.
"It's from Scrimgeour. He wants to see me, right away, says it's urgent. It's to do with Dumbledore."
Re: Harry Potter and the Hellfire Potion
Chapter 14 ~ Trumping Umbridge
Harry arrived at the Ministry by Floo powder. He was still too weak to attempt Apparating alone, but was nervous about what state he would find the Ministry in. As he stepped out of one of the golden fireplaces, he gasped. It was a mess. Although the fireplaces had been repaired, there were heaps of rubble piled all around the Entrance Hall. Ministry wizards were dotted along every few feet or so, vanishing piles of debris or repairing broken walls. The fountain of Magical Beings was being removed, piece by piece and in the centre of the room stood something at least twelve foot tall, draped in an enormous purple cloth.
Harry took a few more hesitant steps forward, looking around, when someone rushed up to him.
"Harry!" exclaimed Mr. Weasley, shaking his hand enthusiastically. "What are you doing here? How are you feeling?"
"I'm fine thanks, Mr. Weasley. Scrimgeour just sent me an owl asking to see me." Mr. Weasley looked puzzled. "So you don't know why I've been summoned either?" asked Harry, starting to feel uncomfortable. What on Earth could the Minister want to talk to Harry about that involved Dumbledore? Mr. Weasley shook his head, frowning.
"I don't suppose Molly was awake when you left, Harry?" Mr. Weasley asked carefully, a smile playing on his lips.
"Er, no, not that I noticed," answered Harry, trying not to laugh, "do you think she's okay?"
"Oh yes! I'm sure she's fine - embarrassed, but fine. Nothing a good hangover cure won't fix! Anyway, would you like me to find Scrimgeour for you, Harry?" But Harry was saved the effort of replying as Scrimgeour was striding towards him, beaming. Tripping over himself to keep up was Cornelius Fudge, the previous Minister for Magic, and waddling along behind Fudge was...
"Umbridge!" Harry muttered incredulously under his breath. "What's she doing here?" he hissed to Mr. Weasley.
"The old bat still works here," Mr. Weasley whispered back, out of the corner of his mouth.
"Harry, my boy! Good to see you, good to see you!" Scrimgeour smiled at him, pumping his hand up and down a little harder than necessary.
"Hello Minister," Harry said carefully, ignoring Fudge and Umbridge completely, though she had the nerve to smile her loathsome, self-satisfied smile at him. Fudge at least had the decency to look abashed by the meeting. "Well Harry, I expect you're wondering why I asked you here?" said Scrimgeour, looking like the cat that had swallowed the canary.
"Yeah, it had crossed my mind," said Harry, looking suitably bored, though he was curious as to why he was here. "Well, I would ask you to my office, but as you can see, this is all that's left for now - not to worry though!" he added hastily, as though Harry really cared that the Ministry had been destroyed in order for him to defeat Lord Voldemort. Harry merely raised his eyebrows coolly at the Minister.
"Er, yes, well." Scrimgeour rushed on, as though afraid Harry might leave if he didn't hurry. "Perhaps some privacy is in order?" and turning to the wizards who were working on clearing up, he said, "lunchtime everyone - one hour - please vacate the Entrance Hall! Thank you!" turning back to Harry and Mr. Weasley, Scrimgeour said "and Arthur, perhaps you might like to take a well earned lunch break now?"
"No - " Harry cut in. "Whatever you have to say to me can be said in front of Mr. Weasley."
A hard look flashed across Scrimgeour's face momentarily and then it was gone. In a more serious tone he said "Very well, very well. Arthur, you may stay. So, Harry, it is time for honesty. We both know that you and I have not seen eye-to-eye on recent events. I think it would be churlish of me to deny that you have been treated very unfairly by this Ministry, both recently under my rule and in the past when Fudge here was in charge." At these words he inclined his head towards Fudge, who went pink. Umbridge continued to look smug, and as though she found Scrimgeour's words faintly ludicrous.
"I know you have suffered terribly losses throughout your young life, your parents, your Godfather and of course, Dumbledore, yet through it all you still were able to defeat Voldemort - ridding us of one of the evilest wizards of the century. There is nothing we can do to make up for the losses you have sustained, nor anything we could give you to show our enormous appreciation, but I am here to offer you an apology on behalf of the Ministry for all that we did wrong and - "
The Minister trailed off, having caught the look on Harry's face. "But what's wrong my boy? I know things haven't been what you'd call harmonious, but we are trying to make amends-"
"Really?" asked Harry, his tone icy. "Then why is that foul cow still standing here?"
Scrimgeour looked confused, glancing around as if expecting to see a cow wandering through the building, but Umbridge looked furious.
"How dare you?" she exclaimed, in a hard voice, "You impudent little - why you should be on your knees thanking the Minister for even seeing you! Do you think he would be apologising unless he was forced to? Look at what you've done to the Ministry building - "
"Dolores!" thundered Scrimgeour, "That is enough!"
"I apologise Minister," simpered Umbridge, reverting instantly back to her false sweet and girlish voice, "I know you wouldn't stand for any Ministry official to be spoken to like this - I-I should have allowed you to deal with it," she peeked up at him, in what she evidently thought was a demure way. "Obviously the Potter boy has yet to learn good manners, no matter how many wizards he has battled." she smiled widely at Scrimgeour.
"Well Harry," said Scrimgeour, looking furious, "I see that you leave me no choice - "
"No choice?" scoffed Harry, completely unafraid of angering the Minister for Magic. "Do you have any idea what that woman," he spat this is Umbridge's direction, "put us through when she was at Hogwarts? She sent Dementors after me, made Slytherin's into an 'Inquisitorial Squad' - who by the way are all Death Eaters now - " Umbridge's eyes widened at this, "shot Stunning spells at Professor McGonagall, forced me to scar my own hand when I told the truth, " here he brandished his scarred hand, "and tried to use the Cruciatus Curse on me!" Harry paused for breath, "Not to mention attempting to sabotage our Defense Against the Dark Arts OWL by being a rubbish teacher! And she's STILL here! So I reckon your Ministry can shove - "
"Harry! If you could hold your tongue!" Harry was cut off mid rant by Scrimgeour. "As I was saying, you leave me no choice..." Umbridge smirked at Harry, having quickly recovered her composure after this shocking outburst. Turning to face Umbridge, Scrimgeour said, "I have no choice but to arrest you Dolores. Not only for attempted use of an Unforgivable curse against a fellow wizard (amongst other things) but for being a completely insufferable, despicable and above all highly irritating human being. Guards!" two Azkaban guards Apparated out of thin air. "Arrest this woman," the Minister ordered in a bored voice.
"Wait! Minister! No - you can't! He is lying! Potter is lying!" screamed Umbridge, her upper arms seized in a tight vice-like grip by the guards.
"Oh do be quiet Dolores. Take her away."
And with that the guards and a struggling Umbridge Disapparated, leaving a stunned Mr. Weasley and a delighted Harry, chuckling to himself, making a mental note to report this back to Ron and the others. Fudge had wisely remained silent during this whole altercation, and avoided Harry's eye in case he too were next. Unfortunately, the Minister rounded on Fudge next.
"And you Fudge - I think you have something to say to Harry?"
Fudge took a moment to gather himself, then looked up at Harry (who was now nearly a foot taller than the former Minister). "Yes - yes I do. Harry," he took off his lime green bowler hat, and twiddled it between his thumbs, "I owe you a huge apology. I should have listened to you - and Dumbledore - and believe me when I say that there is not a day that goes by when I don't curse myself for not doing things differently. And... I want to thank you Harry. You have done more for the entire wizarding world in a few years than I could ever hope to achieve in a lifetime. Thank you." Fudge held his hand out hesitantly to Harry, as if expecting Harry to whip out his wand and curse him on the spot.
Harry looked at him warily for a moment, then shook Fudge's hand with a small smile. "Er, thanks." he said, feeling awkward.
"Excellent!" boomed Scrimgeour. "Now Harry, if you will turn your attention this way," he indicated the giant thing covered in purple cloth that Harry had noticed on his arrival. Harry, Mr. Weasley, Fudge and Scrimgeour moved closer to it. "As you have probably noticed, the statue of Magical Beings has had its day. It has been destroyed twice now - perhaps someone is trying to tell us something, eh? Anyway, without further ado..." he waved his wand and the cloth fell away to reveal -
"Blimey!" said Harry.
"Merlin's beard!" exclaimed Mr. Weasley.
"Oho!" gasped Fudge.
"Isn't it marvellous?" asked Scrimgeour, surveying them majestically. The marvellous thing he was referring to was a twelve foot high statue of Albus Dumbledore, carved out of marble, brandishing a wand. "I thought it a fitting way to remember a truly great wizard," he went on, taking their stunned silence for stunned awe. Tearing his eyes away, Harry stammered, "er, it's - "
"I knew you'd appreciate it. A fitting start to a glorious new age, don't you agree? But that's not all Harry." waving his wand, a scroll and golden medal appeared out of thin air and dropped into the Minister's outstretched hand. "On behalf of all at the Ministry of Magic, and all of Wizard Kind, I would like to present you, Harry James Potter, with the Order of Merlin, First Class, for Special Services to Wizard and Muggle Kind." He waved his wand and the medal attached itself to Harry's shirt. Handing the scroll to Harry, Scrimgeour said, "I hope this goes someway towards bridging the gap between you and the Ministry, Harry."
"Thank you. I er..." Harry wasn't sure what to say next.
"Thank you Minister, I'm sure it will." said Mr. Weasley, placing a hand on Harry's shoulder. "Well, Harry isn't supposed to be out for long periods. You don't mind if I see him home do you? I know Molly will be worried."
"Oh! No, of course not Arthur. Goodbye Harry," said the Minister, shaking Harry's hand. Fudge followed suit, then Mr. Weasley led Harry back to the fireplace, with one last glimpse at Dumbledore's statue. "I hope we see you back soon - you are welcome here at anytime Harry, anytime at all."
"Thank you," Harry said again, in a daze.
"Come on Harry," whispered Mr. Weasley, pushing Harry gently into a fireplace. In a whoosh he had disappeared, followed closely by Mr. Weasley, headed back to The Burrow.
"...and then," Mr. Weasley said loudly, competing with the howls of laughter issuing from Ron, Hermione, Ginny, Neville and the twins (Luna was beaming out the window), "Harry said, "so why is that foul cow still here?" and you should have seen Umbridge's face! Harry," he said turning to look at him, "I thought she was going to curse you right there in front of the Minister!"
"That would have been even better!" cried Ginny, "Harry could have cursed her back, a hundred times worse!"
"Yeah, a nice Bat Bogey Hex would have have made it even better!" said Neville, with a surprisingly evil grin.
"But Harry," said Hermione, composing herself for a moment, "did they really take her to Azkaban?"
"Yeah, they did," said Harry, barely concealing an enormous grin as he savoured the thought of Umbridge being taken away by the Azkaban guards.
"Wicked..." sighed Ron happily, "I would've paid a hundred Galleon's to have seen that!"
"Oh yeah? And where would you get that kind of money Won-Won?" asked Fred, flicking Ron around the ear. Ron was just about to thump his brother in retaliation, when he caught the forbidding look on Mr. Weasley's face. Scowling slightly, he lowered his fist.
It was early evening, and outside the sun was beginning to set, turning the sky a dusky pink. Harry surveyed his laughing friends in the Weasley's cosy kitchen, feeling happy and relaxed. Looking up, he saw Mrs. Weasley standing in the doorway.
"And what's all this racket about?" she demanded, in a thoroughly bad temper. Everyone suddenly sat up straight with the exception of Luna,
"Oh dear, you don't look very well, Mrs. Weasley, was it because you drank so much last night?" Luna asked sympathetically.
Luna was saved the telling-off of a lifetime by Mr. Weasley, who jumped out of his chair, "Ah, Molly dear!" he cried, slightly desperate, hurrying over to his wife, while she puffed up like a bullfrog, clearly in a towering rage and about to let Luna have it, "Here dear, why don't you sit down. You lot," he hissed at the others, "why don't you go into the sitting room, eh?"
Not needing to be told twice, Harry and the others shot out of their seats and hurried into the sitting room, with the exception, once again, of Luna, who got up slowly and gracefully, patted Mrs. Weasley on the shoulder and left at a much slower pace. In the sitting room, Harry and the Weasley siblings were shaking with hushed laughter. Hermione and Neille merely looked scared.
"Blimey, that Luna's a right nut-"
"Luna!" Harry practically yelled her name, trying to both alert the twins to her appearance and stop Luna from hearing what they were about to say.
"Oh! Are we playing a game?" she asked dreamily, "HARRY!" she yelled at the top of her lungs. "Now what do we do?" she asked, gazing around the room, smiling excitedly at everyone.
Ron and Ginny were snorting with giggles now, but Fred and George, said, "Yeah, it's the Yelling Game - now we'll go: GINNY!"
Nearly screaming with laughter now, Ginny joined in enthusiastically: "RON!"
Ron, wiping tears from his eyes yelled: "HERMIONE!" with great gusto, punching his arms into the air.
Hermione looked horrified for a moment, before saying, rather feebly, "Er...Neville!"
Neville, who was now laughing too, took a deep breath, just about to shout when Mr. Weasley popped his head in - "Will you lot shut up!" that was it - everyone in the sitting room, including Luna, fell about laughing, clutching their sides and gasping for air.
"Molly and I are going for a nice walk in the village," said Mr. Weasley, smiling at their high-spirits,"you lot will have to get the dinner ready. We'll see you later." and shaking his head, he left them, in hysterics, rolling around on the floor.
A couple of hours later, Mr. Weasley and a slightly shame-faced Mrs. Weasley arrived back at The Burrow for dinner. Everybody was avoiding making eye-contact with her, for fear of having their head bitten off. Neville had surprised everyone by cooking a feast of chicken and dumpling stew.
"My Gran makes me cook all the time," he said, shrugging his shoulders as he stirred a large saucepan on the hob, waving his wand with the other hand so a large knife began chopping bread on the breadboard. Harry and Ron exchanged surprised looks at this piece of information.
"Wow, Neville - it smells good! I had no idea you could do this sort of magic!" said Hermione, impressed. Neville went pink and had trouble concealing his pleased smile. Ginny bustled about the kitchen getting out cutlery, while Fred and George levitated plates out of the cupboard. "Careful you two," warned Mrs. Weasley.
"Calm down Mum," said Fred as the plates landed perfectly on the table, in between a knife and fork each. "Yeah, it's not like we're doing it under the influence of sherry or anything..." George chimed in, peering sideways at his mother.
"Fred, George..." cautioned Mr. Weasley.
"No dear, it's all right. Look you lot - about last night... Sometimes, when grown-ups go to parties, they like to have a drop or two of something to drink - "
"Come off it Mum!" scoffed Ron, "We're not babies! We don't care! So you were plastered - so what? It was a party!"
"Yeah Mum! It was pretty cool if you ask us," said Fred, grinning wickedly at his mother. Harry nodded at her encouragingly, being very careful not to laugh.
"But that's not what I - I mean I don't want you to - I'm not saying it's right - " stammered Mrs. Weasley, looking flustered.
A giggle escaped Ginny. Mrs. Weasley looked at her sharply.
"Oh! Fine! I was drunk! There!" she shouted, a smile spreading across her face, "I WAS DRUNK! I don't remember the last time I was so happy and I got drunk! All right? Now can we eat please?" Laughing along with everyone else, she got up to help Neville dish out the stew. "Thank you Neville dear, this looks wonderful."
When everyone was settled around the table, Mr. Weasley produced a bottle of Firewhiskey. Pouring a tiny measure each for Luna and Ginny and a larger measure for everyone else (though Mrs. Weasley quite wisely stuck to pumpkin juice) he said, "I would like to propose a toast. I know this isn't quite the gathering we had yesterday, but now that we are just family and close friends," here he beamed at Neville, Luna and Hermione, "I would like us all to raise a glass to us - we made it through the war, pretty much in one piece, Harry even got an Order of Merlin First Class and Umbridge is in jail to boot! So - here's to us!"
Everyone clinked their glasses together and cried "To us!"
Later that evening, after Ginny had reluctantly left the kitchen to go and clean out Arnold, her Pygmy Puff's cage, Harry, Hermione and Ron were left alone, washing the dishes. Neville and Luna were playing wizard chess in the sitting room and Mr. and Mrs. Weasley had retired for the evening. Fred and George had Apparated back to the small flat above their Diagon Alley shop, Weasley's Wizard Wheezes, leaving Harry and the other two plenty of privacy in which to talk.
"So, did you manage to talk to Scrimgeour about Bellatirx?" asked Hermione quietly, as she supervised the washing of the dishes. This chore was now made much easier owing to the fact that they were allowed to use magic to hurry things along. Ron was waving his wand over a tea towel that was drying what Hermione washed. Harry, who was levitating leftovers into the fridge turned to look at them as he replied, "No. There wasn't really a good moment to - and Fudge was there the whole time," he added hastily, trying to prevent Hermione from having a go at him. To his surprise, she nodded at him.
"That's probably a good thing," she said thoughtfully, as the dishes clinked gently together in the soapy water, "I still wouldn't trust either of them as far as I could throw them, Order of Merlin First Class or not."
"So, who are you going to tell?" asked Ron, his eyebrows creased in concentration as his enchanted tea towel dried the plates.
"Well, I was going to go to Lupin, but he's been so busy with all the wedding plans, and I don't want to worry him - or Tonks," he added. "I thought maybe I would talk to Kingsley Shacklebolt, see what he has to say and find out if the Ministry has any leads as to where she might be."
"Well that sounds like the best idea to me," said Hermione, sounds greatly relieved,"but...have you had any thoughts as to what you'll do when you actually find her?"
"Er, no, not really - but I am taking it seriously. Very seriously," he said firmly, as Hermione opened her mouth to nag him once more.
"Well good. The last thing the Wizarding world could handle now is their hero, The Chosen Boy Who Lived being done in!"
Re: Harry Potter and the Hellfire Potion
Chapter 15 ~ We Solemnly Swear We Are Still Up to No Good
Later that night, after a fruitless discussion with Kingsley Shacklebolt in the Weasley's fireplace, Harry was feeling extremely frustrated. Kingsley and the rest of the Auror squad were unable to locate any of the missing Death Eaters, let alone Bellatrix.
"They're either in Unplottable locations or dead, Harry." Kingsley had said, "but we're working on it!" before his head had disappeared from the flames with a pop!
As Harry lay in bed, in what used to be the twins' bedroom, he suddenly remembered with an unpleasant jolt that Ginny would be returning to Hogwarts in a few short weeks, on top of everything else. It felt very odd to not be going back with her, even though he had not attended school full-time for over a year now. Consoling himself with the thought that he could at least see her on Hogsmeade weekends, Harry drifted off to sleep.
Once again, he found himself wandering lightly down the golden corridor, and felt his heart lift: he was going to see Dumbledore! He reached the enormous golden doorway that opened without being touched, and entered the chamber within. Settled in one of the soft armchairs and reading a heavy looking book bound in red and gold leather sat Albus Dumbledore.
"Sir!" exclaimed Harry, wanting to hurry over, but discovering once again the hypnotic, sleepy power of this place that prevented sudden movement. He managed only to glide into the chair opposite. "How are you?"
Snapping the book shut with a muffled thud, Dumbledore looked at Harry. "I am very well, Harry! And I must say, rather astonished at the memorial statue erected by the Ministry!"
"Er, yeah - what...what did you think of it, Sir?" Harry bit his bottom lip to stop a smile spreading across his face.
"Well! What can one say to such...er...such an honour? Though I rather thought my nose was shorter," here Dumbledore frowned, touching the tip of a finger to the tip of his rather long and crooked nose. "Do you think it a good likeness?" he asked, a twinkle of amusement in his eyes.
"Er... well... you're not twelve-foot, are you, Sir? But, it does sort of look like you - I mean - I knew it was supposed to be you when Scrimgeour took off the cover. Not that I'm saying your nose is big - it's just -" Harry shut up abruptly, looking sheepishly up at Dumbledore, who was chuckling deeply.
"Ah, Harry my dear boy, that is quite all right. I daresay I should be flattered that Minister Scrimgeour thinks so highly of me," he said looking at Harry with raised eyebrows, making his opinion on the Minister quite clear. "And I see you met with our old colleague, Dolores Umbridge? Dear, dear, I fear she got a little more than she bargained for, don't you agree Harry?"
"Yeah, and deserved everything she got too!" said Harry, with deep satisfaction.
Dumbledore nodded, "I had a feeling Dolores would meet her match sooner rather than later. But I digress Harry. I apologise. Our time here is limited, and I wanted to check on your present condition..?"
"Oh I feel much better now, Sir," said Harry.
"Splendid! Now," he said, peering down his crooked nose at Harry, "have you given any thought to the matter we discussed when last we met?"
"Yes! Loads, and - "
"But Harry, did I or did I not, insist that you were to be absolutely whole in body and spirit before you rushed off to seek out Bellatrix Lestrange?" Dumbledore sounded quite stern now.
"But Sir, I haven't actually done anything about her yet - I've just been thinking and talking to Ron and Hermione about it - but the trouble is we haven't been able to work out how to find her yet - and neither can the Ministry!"
"Not to worry, Harry. As I said before, I am quite sure there is still time before Bellatrix herself becomes aware of what she is capable of. And, by the way, do you solemnly swear that you are not up to no good?"
"I - " Harry broke off, confused. Dumbledore winked at him as slow realisation dawned on Harry.
"Hang on! We could - "
"Exactly my dear boy! Now off to sleep! Goodnight!"
And in a swirl of gold, Dumbledore was gone.
Harry awoke with a jolt. Heart hammering, he scrabbled about in the dark for his glasses. Closing his hand around them, he swung his legs over the side of his bed and padded quietly down the hall to Ron's bedroom. Opening the door extremely carefully to avoid creaks, he whispered,
"Ron! Wake up!"
Ron snored loudly.
Moving closer to the bed, Harry hissed:
"Ron! Wake up you lazy git!"
Rolling over, Ron mumbled something in his sleep, which sounded horribly like, "Mmm, Hermione, just one kiss - wuh?" Harry had shaken him awake before he heard more than he could stomach.
"Ron - I've had an idea! Get up!"
"Harry...what time is it?" Ron asked blearily, sitting up and rubbing his eyes sleepily.
"About four in the morning. Come on - get up - we need to go and talk to Hermione - quick!"
"What's wrong?" Ron asked, fearfully, pulling on a maroon woolly jumper that was several inches too short in the sleeves and climbing out of bed.
"Nothing bad. I think I know how we can find her!"
"What?! Lestrange?" whispered Ron, his eyes widening. But Harry didn't answer, he just pulled Ron out of the room and they crept down the stairs to the bedroom that Hermione was sharing with Ginny and Luna. Pushing the door open a crack, Harry and Ron peered in. Harry gasped. The room was huge! Surprised, he looked at Ron questioningly who mouthed, "Magically enlarged - luggage - women," rolling his eyes. At the furthest end of the room, Hermione slept, curled up in a ball beneath her blankets. Pulling their heads out of the doorway for a moment, Harry whispered in the hallway:
"I don't want to wake up Ginny and Luna - what do we do?"
"Leave it to me," said Ron, drawing his wand. Creeping back to the door, he took careful aim and shot golden sparks into the room. From the hallway, Harry heard a small yelp. Hermione was awake. Miraculously, Ginny and Luna slept on. Ron gestured to Hermione and with a muffled thump, she clambered out of bed and tiptoed silently into the hallway.
"What was that?" she hissed, rubbing her head where the sparks had hit her. There was a faint smell of smouldering hair and she was scowling heavily at the pair of them.
"Sorry, Hermione! We need to talk to you - come on," Harry beckoned to them and they moved stealthily down the remaining stairs to the kitchen.
"Er, Hermione, what are you wearing?" asked Ron, catching sight of the voluminous woolly thing Hermione was wearing over her pyjamas. It was scarlet and covered in golden bobbles.
"It's a shawl! I made it myself - with Gryffindor colours!" she said, beaming at the pair of them, holding her arms wide and twirling. Privately, Harry thought it looked more like she had draped herself in one of Dudley's old jumpers but thought it best not to tell Hermione that.
"Eurgh, Hermione! It's revolting!"
"Shut up, Ron," she snapped. "Anyway Harry - what on Earth have you woken us up at this hour for?" she questioned, haughtily turning her back on Ron, who was shaking his head in amusement.
"I've just spoken to Dumbledore again!"
"What? Noooo!" gasped Hermione, excitedly.
"Yes! And he gave me an idea about how to find Lestrange! Listen," and eagerly, they sat down at the kitchen table as Harry filled them in in hushed tones. Every now and then Hermione would sputter, "What?!" and Ron would say "Whoa!" but generally, they allowed Harry to get to the end of his explanation without too much interrupting. By the time he had finished, the sun was just starting to peek at them in the distance. Ron got up to put the kettle on, as Hermione was asking,
"But Harry, how do you expect us to make another Marauder's Map? I mean I'm good, but I don't know if I'm that good!"
"Well, actually, you are that good, but you're forgetting one thing,"
"What's that then?" asked Ron, tipping large amounts of sugar into their teacups.
"We might not have Padfoot, Prongs or Wormtail, but we do have-"
"Moony!" gasped Hermione.
Dressing quickly, Harry, Ron and Hermione were ready to leave before anyone else in the Weasley household awoke. Hastily scribbling a note to his mother, Ron said;
"So, we're going to Grimmauld Place then?" he looked at Harry hesitantly, knowing full well that Harry had avoided the house since Sirius had died several years ago. Harry considered his answer. Lupin had remained at Grimmauld place since Sirius's death, overseeing matters concerning the Order. Harry had been very happy for him to do so, but had declined to actually go there because it always stirred up painful memories for him. Now though, he felt like the burden of hating his inherited house had lessened.
"I'm okay," he started, slowly, "I mean, Sirius wanted me to have the house, and in a lot of ways, it has done good - like providing an Unplottable place for the Order to work from. I don't think I want to actually live there, especially with only Kreacher for company," here he shot a silencing look at Hermione, who had frowned at this comment, "but I feel all right about going there, I s'pose. And besides, this is important"
"Good," said Hermione firmly, choosing to ignore his slight on house elves, "it's not right that you used to feel like you had no place to call home. And of course I understand why you wouldn't want to live there, but, well, it's nice to know you have somewhere, just in case..."
Harry found this to be a slightly odd comment, but was too intent on talking to Lupin to bother asking Hermione what she meant. As usual, Ron hadn't noticed anything amiss. Instead, he was leading them round the back of the house so they could Apparate to London without being stopped and interrogated by Ginny, Neville or, worst of all, Mrs. Weasley.
"This is good," he said, selecting a spot out of sight of the window. "Shall we?" and with a pop! Harry grasped Hermione's arm and disappeared into thin air, closely followed by Ron.
Reappearing in London, just outside of number eleven Grimmauld Place, unseen by any Muggles due to the early hour, they all thought "number twelve" and in the blink of an eye, Harry's house, number twelve Grimmauld Place appeared before them. He surveyed the imposing black front door and was relieved to find that he felt okay. Ringing the doorbell was now safe to do as Mrs. Weasley, in a fit of rage a year earlier had shot such a fierce spell at Mrs. Black's drooling, insulting portrait, that it had blown up, obliterating any sign of Sirius's insane mother. Kreacher had flown into a gibbering rage, but everyone else was openly relieved (several toasts had been raised to Molly Weasley that night). Confidently, Harry pressed the doorbell, for good measure, and after a rather long wait, a tousle-haired Tonks opened the door, still in her dressing gown.
"Harry!" she exclaimed, so surprised that her hair went from pink, to red to blonde. "What are you doing here so early? Is everything all right?" she asked anxiously, stepping aside to let them in, as her hair settled back to pink.
"We're fine," said Ron with a smirk, "shouldn't we be asking what you're doing here so early?" he asked slyly. Hermione gave him such a hard dig in the ribs that his smugness was short-lived. "Ouch!" he hissed, while Harry said,
"We want to talk to Lupin. Is he awake?" he asked as Tonks led them down the hall. "yeah, of course - he's busy finding a house for us, actually," she said with a scathing look at Ron, who grinned apologetically. "I was just kidding, Tonks - I think it's wicked that you and Lupin are together,"
"Yeah, I know," she said, relenting with a smile. "Too cheeky for your own good, you Weasleys' " Following her down the stairs, they entered the long, dimly lit kitchen. Lupin was sitting at the table with a mug of coffee, pouring over the Daily Prophet. Looking up, his eyes widened at the sight of Harry, Ron and Hermione in the doorway.
"Harry! What are you doing here? Is everything-"
"Everything's fine, Remus," Harry interrupted, "we just wanted to talk to you."
"Well, of course, come in, sit down. Nymphadora-" he said, turning to Tonks, who rolled her eyes.
"Remus! I told you not to call me that!" she said in a low voice, though she didn't sound in the least bit annoyed. Lupin smiled at her, tugging gently at a lock of pink hair.
"I know, I know, but it is an uncommonly beautiful name, and as such, should be preferable to 'Tonks'!" At these words, Hermione sighed wistfully. Ron looked at her through slightly narrowed eyes, as though trying to work out what was making her gooey. Noticing this, Lupin cleared his throat. "Anyway! Would you mind making some tea while I talk to these three?"
Beaming at him, Tonks nodded and bustled about the kitchen, breaking only two teacups and the sugar bowl in the process.
"So, Harry. What can I do for you this early in the morning?" he gave Harry a searching look.
"Well," replied Harry, taking a deep breath before plunging ahead, "It's a bit of a long story." He began by explaining his first discussion with Dumbledore, about how Bellatrix Lestrange possessed the means to resurrect Lord Voldemort (Tonks's hair turned black at this), and Dumbledore's subsequent visit and his hints about the Marauder's Map. By the time he had finished, with Hermione and Ron chiming in whenever he paused for breath, the tea Tonks had made had gone quite cold. Before responding to Harry, Lupin turned to Tonks and nodded to her hair. "Er, it's happened again," he said quietly.
"What? Oh!" she exclaimed, touching her hair absentmindedly. "Ever since Remus proposed, it's gone a bit haywire - every time I get excited I loose control of what it's doing," and screwing up her face in concentration, her hair popped back into the bubblegum pink shade they were all accustomed to. Turning back to Harry, Lupin said,
"That is quite a lot of information to digest, Harry..."
"Well, it's all true," Harry said quickly, worried Lupin might think his brain was addled by too much magic.
"Of course, of course. I don't doubt it! But this is just so... I mean, Bella - able to bring back Lord Voldemort? Needless to say, this is not god news. And Dumbledore thinks we should use a Marauder's Map? Of what, the whole country? That would be impossible!"
"I don't understand," said Tonks, who had been deep in thought, "if we can't find her," here she was referring to herself and the other Auror's working at the Ministry, "how will a map find her?"
"Ah, but the Marauder's Map is no ordinary map. It took James, Sirius and I years to make, purely because of the size of Hogwarts and all its hidden passageways and rooms. I just can't see a way of making one that goes beyond a specific building..." he trailed off, thinking hard. "But Dumbledore obviously thinks that there is a way..."
Looking up, he smiled at the three of them, who all looked slightly disappointed at this news. "I would also have thought that it would be impossible to do without the help of my fellow Marauder's, but I think if anyone can help me make a new Map, it's you three."
Relieved, Harry said; "So you'll help us then? Dumbledore says there's still time - that Lestrange hasn't figured it out herself yet, so that helps a bit, doesn't it?"
"And perhaps in the meantime, we will have found her," Tonks mused. Hermione and Ron nodded at this. They seemed quite overwhelmed at the thought of finding Bellatrix Lestrange alone.
"Well! That's settled then. First thing tomorrow we'll visit Hogwarts. We'll need to use the library and I think it might be wise to consult with Dumbledore's portrait. Harry, I assume you still have the original Marauder's Map?"
He nodded. "I was going to give it to Ginny, but she won't mind if she has to wait a bit longer for it!"
"Excellent. Well, would you like to stay for breakfast? Nymphadora was going to make pancakes..." he stared hopelessly after Tonks, who had eagerly hurried off to get out bowls and ingredients, tripping over a chair and setting fire to the butter in the process. Her hair had now turned green.
"We'd love to!"
After an extremely interesting breakfast, Hermione disappeared upstairs with Tonks to look at wedding dresses in Witch Weddings, a popular magical bridal magazine. Lupin left for the Ministry, where he now worked as the Chief Liason for Werewolves and Other Bitten Wizards. Harry and Ron wandered around the house, looking at how Lupin and Tonks had transformed it. It was very different to how Harry remembered. The mounted house-elf heads had vanished, to be replaced by photographs of friends and people Harry assumed to be Tonks's family, Bill and Fleur Weasley's wedding and lots of smiling pictures of Lupin and Tonks. The carpets were now a cheery red colour and the previously dark walls had been cleaned up (no doubt with a great deal of magical assistance) to reveal scrubbed wooden panels, making the room lighter than Harry had ever seen it. He was surprised at how different he felt about the place now. It made him very happy that Lupin and Tonks were making this dank old place into a home. He suspected there was a long way to go, but his spirits lifted as he noted subtle changes here and there.
"I tell you what," said Ron, breaking Harry's train of thought, "This place isn't half bad now, eh?" Harry was about to answer when-
"There you are!" exclaimed Hermione, "I've been looking for you everywhere! This place is big enough for at least four people to live without ever bothering each other!" Again Harry noted this slightly odd comment, but did not say anything. "You should see Tonks's room!" she went on, "it's so beautiful!"
"So what were you doing up there anyway?" asked Ron.
"Tonks was showing me the wedding dress she wants to buy. You know, I think it's so brilliant that Remus is working now - they can afford the wedding they want and he's so much happier, don't you think?"
"I dunno," said Ron, shrugging.
Hermione tutted "Honestly, Ron - sometimes you have the awareness of teapot!"
Harry grinned at his friends. Although they bickered constantly, Ron and Hermione always reminded him of a young version of Mr. and Mrs. Weasley whenever they fought (which was nearly all the time). He wondered how long it would take them to realise that.
"Right - shall we get back to the Burrow then?" he interjected, before they really got going. He was also quite keen to spend as much time as possible with Ginny, before she went back to Hogwarts for the Autumn term. Hermione and Ron looked up in surprise, as though they had forgotten that Harry was in the room.
"Oh! Yes, good idea Harry! Why don't we take the fireplace though? There'll be too many Muggles around outside now."
"Why can't we just Apparate from in here?" asked Ron.
"Don't you remember the extra security Dumbledore added? It's like Hogwarts, you can't Apparate or Disapparate within the-"
"Yeah, okay I remember, I remember!" Ron said hastily. "I also remember that you're mental," Harry was sure he heard Ron add under his breath, though he saw it was said with a soft smile. They made their way to the kitchen fireplace, and with a cry of "the Burrow!" they went home, one by one.
Climbing out of the fireplace after Ron and Hermione, Harry brushed the soot from his clothes and smiled at Ginny, who was waiting for him, with a slight frown creasing her brow.
"And where have you lot been?" she demanded. She was sitting at the kitchen table with Luna and Neville, a large platter of sandwiches and a jug of iced pumpkin juice between them.
"Excellent - I'm starving!" said Ron happily, pulling up a chair and grabbing a sandwich in each hand and stuffing them into his mouth with alternate mouthfuls. Hermione gave him a disdainful look and daintily plucked one sandwich from the pile and began to eat with small, ladylike bites.
Walking over and giving Ginny a quick kiss on the lips, Harry sat down and said, "Been to visit Lupin and Tonks," tucking into a ham and lettuce sandwich. "What have you lot been up to?"
"Neville's been teaching us about all the different plants in your garden," said Luna to Ron dreamily, as though he had asked the question. Ginny grimaced quietly. Clearly she hadn't found this activity too thrilling.
"And your Mum's gone to Diagon Alley," added Neville, pouring more pumpkin juice into his glass. "I got an owl from my Gran today - she wants me to come home tonight - wants to have a big family dinner." He smiled sheepishly. Ever since the defeat of Lord Voldemort, Neville's Grandmother, Mrs. Longbottom had taken to boasting about her only grandson. It made a big change to how she used to be, but it looked to Harry like Neville was still getting used to this new, improved treatment.
"And I'm going to go home too. Daddy's going to take me to Diagon Alley tomorrow to get my Hogwarts things. If we have time he's going to get me a new Wrackspurt catcher!" said Luna excitedly.
"Er, great," said Harry. He knew he'd heard Luna talk about Wrackspurt before, but couldn't for the life of him remember what they did, or why they might need a catcher. Suppressing a smile and avoiding eye contact with Ron who was smirking so widely he would have made Dolores Umbridge proud, Harry suggested a game of Quidditch in the Weasley's orchard. Grabbing Fred, George and Charlie's old brooms out of the garden shed for the others (Harry, Ron and Ginny had their own broomsticks) they split into three-aside teams: Harry, Luna and Neville verses Ron, Ginny and Hermione. Harry was pleasantly surprised to find that Neville was actually quite good at Quidditch - he certainly seemed more confident than Harry would have expected. He put this down to the new treatment Neville's proud Grandmother was bestowing upon him. Luna was dreadful, but seemed to be having a very enjoyable time. In the end, several hours later, Ron's team won, 120 points to 80. Tired but happy, they headed back to the Burrow to see Luna and Neville off, who were travelling home via Floo powder.
Once Luna and Neville had disappeared in a whirl of glittering green flames, Mrs. Weasley surprised the rest of them by saying that they were to join Mr. Weasley at the Leaky Cauldron for dinner that evening. "I thought it might be nice, now it's just family here, to have a meal out for a change!" said she said, beaming fondly at Harry and Hermione.
"Oh, Mrs. Weasley, are you sure?" asked Hermione, looking a little worried.
"Of course dear! You and Harry are family! Why, you've both been coming to stay since you were what, eleven, twelve? I can hardly believe you're all eighteen now! Now, go and get ready - we leave in an hour!" at these words, Ginny and Hermione dashed upstairs to their room. Harry and Ron exchanged looks with a shrug. It certainly wouldn't take them an hour to get ready, but Mrs. Weasley was giving out every signal that anyone left lingering in the kitchen would be given chores, so they slouched off to the garden to do a spot of de-gnoming without having to be asked. They took Crookshanks with them, as chasing gnomes was his favourite pastime.
"When I get my own place, I'm going to invent something that does this for me!" said Ron grumpily, as a giggling gnome took a swipe at his hand. Crooshanks darted after it as it ran madly around the garden.
"Do you know where you're going to move to?" asked Harry interestedly. He too had thought about what he would do with his life now that he felt he had one again, pushing thoughts of Bellatrix Lestrange to the back of his mind for now.
"Well, no, but I - I thought we could get a place together..?" he looked at Harry hesitantly, not sure of the answer he would get.
"Yeah, that would be wicked!" Harry said, relieved. He had been thinking the same thing, but wasn't sure if Ron would want to move out of the Burrow. Grinning at each other like loons, Harry said, "what about Hermione? What d'you reckon she'll do? She must want to live in the Wizarding world, mustn't she?"
"Yeah, I reckon. She can't live with her Muggle parents forever. And...well, it would be weird to not have her around wouldn't it?" Ron's ears were turning bright red so he ducked down to yank a gnome out from behind a flowerpot.
Laughing, Harry replied, "Yeah, you're right - it would be weird without her. She'd better come and live with us too! But - but what about Ginny?" now it was Harry's turn to go red.
Ron smirked at him, "Well, she's still got a year of school left and Mum and Dad'll murder her if she tries to move out. I mean, we'll be lucky to get out alive! Ginny can always visit us though, and it's not like we wouldn't come back here every Christmas and Easter is it?" he asked, looking a bit anxious now.
"Course not." said Harry firmly. So, with that decided they continued to fling gnomes through the air. Crookshanks was in heaven.
"So..." Ron began again, after a few minutes of companionable silence, "Where would we live - y'know, if we did actually move out..?"
"Well," said Harry, heaving a deep sigh, "I've been thinking about it a lot, and after going to Grimmauld Place today...I think we could move there - I mean, once Lupin and Tonks found somewhere else, of course. It is a lot better now than before..."
"Yeah - they've made it look really cool, and of course, we could do some stuff to it too..." Ron added, sounding excited.
"And I own it, so we wouldn't have to pay any rent or anything like that either. And, as Hermione so un-subtly pointed out earlier, there is loads of room - we could have Ginny, or Neville or Luna or anyone we wanted to come and stay."
"Yeah!" said Ron, happily. Harry grinned at his best friend.
They flung the last of the gnomes (for that day at least) out of the garden, called for Crookshanks and went inside to change for dinner at the Leaky Cauldron.
Re: Harry Potter and the Hellfire Potion
Chapter 16 ~ A Near Kiss
Hermione and Ginny descended the staircase at eight o'clock, after spending an hour getting ready. Hermione was wearing a lovely set of soft pink robes, and Ginny, a beautiful pale green. Each had their hair elegantly bound up, caught with tiny wild flowers, picked from the Weasley's garden, that left a lingering trace of perfume in the air. Harry, who like Ron was wearing his dress robes, had stepped forwards, eyes wide.
"Wow," he breathed softly, "you look - you look so...so..."
"Thanks, Harry," Ginny smiled, not making him finish. Taking her hand, Harry led her outside to join Mr. and Mrs. Weasley, leaving Ron to stammer at Hermione;
"Er, thanks, Ron," said Hermione, trying not to laugh. She led the gibbering wreck that was Ron outside to join the others.
"Oh girls," sighed Mrs. Weasley, "you look so lovely, and so grown up! Quick, Arthur, go and fetch the camera, we should capture this moment!"
"Right-o, Molly!" said Mr. Weasley, dashing back inside to get the camera. After several poses, each set up by Mrs. Weasley, they were finally ready to leave.
They arrived at the Leaky Cauldron promptly at half past eight. Mr. and Mrs. Weasley strode ahead, leaving the others to follow. There was a slightly awkward feeling in the air. For reasons he couldn't fathom, Harry felt quite nervous tonight. He couldn't take his eyes off Ginny, who was quite radiant. He noticed that Ron was having a much harder time of it with Hermione though. He kept stumbling and getting tongue-tied - very unusual for any Weasley. Ginny had noticed too, and, tugging on Harry's arm so he had to lean forwards, she whispered in his ear,
"Do you think tonight will be the night that Ron finally asks Hermione out?"
Forgetting his own nervousness, Harry replied in a whisper, "I think she'd better do it - it'll be a lot kinder." and giggling quietly to themselves, they followed Mr. and Mrs. Weasley into the Leaky Cauldron, with Hermione, who was now practically carrying Ron, bringing up the rear.
"Ah! Good evening Mr. and Mrs. Weasley, Mr. Weasley, Miss. Weasley, Miss Granger and Mr. Potter!" Tom the barman reeled off their names in one breath. Grabbing Harry's hand, he pumped it up and down for five minutes, "I do hope you enjoy your evening tonight - don't you look lovely ladies!" he exclaimed, still shaking Harry's hand, "and of course, you are my guests - anything you want, anything at all, just name it!" Waving away Mr. Weasley's protests, he finally released Harry's hand and led them to their table.
They enjoyed a wonderful meal, with much talk and laughter. Even Ron managed to loosen up and go back to his old self and they finished the evening with a delicious, enormous chocolate éclair a-piece. Stuffed, they managed to fit in a cup of coffee, before thanking Tom (trying fruitlessly to pay, but Tom wouldn’t hear of it) and prepared to go home. This took a further hour, as other diners kept getting up to say hello to Harry and get his autograph. They finally managed to get outside.
“Now, Harry dear – are you quite sure you’re up to Apparating back? Because we could go back in there and use Tom’s fireplace,” asked Mrs. Weasley, anxiously.
“No, I think I’m fine to go back with Mr. Weasley, thanks,” replied Harry, who was not allowed to Apparate alone until his next check-up with Healer Smethington. Grasping Mr. Weasley’s arm, they disappeared. Ginny did the same with Mrs. Weasley, leaving Ron and Hermione alone, outside the Leaky Cauldron. The only light was coming from the flickering street lamps a few feet away. Ron and Hermione stared at each other wordlessly, smiling shyly. They instinctively leaned forwards, their faces getting closer and closer when-
“Hullo! Wha’re yer doin’ here?” Hagrid came lumbering down Diagon Alley towards them, a huge smile on his face.
“Hagrid!” said Ron, in an unnaturally high voice, taking a giant step away from Hermione. “Hullo! How are you? We were just going to Apparate home – we just had dinner here with Mum, Dad, Harry and Ginny! We’d better get going or they’ll wonder where we got to!” and with that, Ron disappeared with a pop!
“All righ’ bye-“Hagrid said, but only Hermione was left, looking quite upset.
“I’d better go too. Night, Hagrid,” she said sadly, then she too was gone.
“All righ’ well g’night Hermione-” said Hagrid, to thin air.
“Humph! Summat I said?” he asked himself, and shaking his head, he entered the Leaky Cauldron.
Harry and Ginny were settled on the sofa, enjoying the crackling warmth of the fireplace when Ron appeared in the middle of the living room.
"Hi," he said glumly, plonking down beside them with a sigh.
"What's up with you - where's Hermione?" asked Ginny with narrowed eyes. Before Ron could answer, there was a popping noise and Hermione appeared on the spot that had just been occupied by Ron.
"Oh, hello," she said awkwardly. Suddenly the air was thick with tension. Harry and Ginny swivelled their heads from Ron to Hermione and back to Ron, as though they were at a tennis match. Nobody spoke.
"Well...goodnight," Hermione said stiffly, and hurried out of the room.
When she was out of earshot, Ginny heaved a loud sigh. "What did you do?" she said in an accusatory tone.
"Nothing!" said Ron defensively, "why do you always assume I'm in the wrong?"
Harry and Ginny stared at him.
"Oh all right!" he said, extremely annoyed, "not that it's any of your business, but we were outside the Leaky Cauldron and you lot had gone, so we were alone, and - and - "
"You kissed her?" asked Ginny shrewdly.
"Well," Ron was turning a deep shade of puce now, "not exactly..." he looked at them, highly embarrassed.
"Oh God, Ron - what?" demanded Ginny.
"Well...Hagrid came strolling down the street and interrupted us! I mean, come on, who goes for a nice stroll at midnight? And then I - I sort of panicked and - and came home..." he said, somewhat lamely.
"Oh, Ron!" exclaimed Ginny, slapping her forehead. "You mean you just left her there, in the middle of Diagon Alley? Alone?"
"Hagrid was there!" he said furiously.
"You are a complete pillock Ronald Weasley! I'm going to go and check on her. You," she said, turning to Harry, who had sat silently throughout this exchange, just waiting to be dragged into it, "talk to this idiot, please!" and with a swift kiss to Harry's forehead, Ginny disappeared upstairs.
They sat in silence for several minutes. When he felt he could not let the silence spiral on any longer, Harry cleared his throat;
"So...er...what are you going to do?"
"I dunno - what can I do? Every time me and Hermione get, well - you know - something goes wrong. Maybe it's just not meant to be," he finished, glumly.
Wishing he were anywhere but here having this conversation, Harry said; "Well, have you actually tried talking to her - rather than waiting for times when you might...you know." Harry dearly hoped that they were both talking about the same thing here.
Ron shook his head, staring at his hands twisting in his lap.
Feeling rather hot under the collar, Harry valiantly made one last attempt to cheer up his friend; "Look! She obviously likes you, and you like her, so tomorrow, when you get up, me and Ginny'll clear off and leave you two to talk - and I bet you anything that by the time we come back, you'll be going out - okay?"
Ron looked at him hopefully. "D'you reckon?"
"Definitely." said Harry firmly, leaping up before the conversation went further than he could bear. "Er, I'm off to bed then - see you tomorrow!" and scurried out the room, leaving Ron to his confused thoughts.
Early next morning, Harry was awoken by the buzzing of the small alarm clock he had taken from the Dursley's. He had been intending to give it Mr. Weasley, who was fascinated by all things Muggle, but thought it would be a good idea to use it this morning, and ensure that he and Ginny were safely out of the way when Ron and Hermione had their talk.
Climbing out of bed, Harry slipped quietly out of the room and went to Ginny's bedroom, intending to wake her up before Hermione found out what was going on. He was sure that if she knew Ron wanted to talk to her, she would make herself scarce, prolonging Ron's agony just a bit longer. Women, Harry thought to himself wryly, thankful that he and Ginny had had a smooth relationship so far. Well, as smooth as it could be for a couple who had broken up so the most evil sorcerer in the world wouldn't find out about it, then got back together a year later. Shaking his head, Harry tapped lightly on the door, and peeked in to find Hermione's bed was already made and Ginny sitting awake, brushing a humming Arnold, her pet Pygmy Puff.
"Morning," she said sleepily, "what are you doing up so early?"
"I was coming to wake you! Where's Hermione?" he asked, suspiciously.
"Ron came and woke her up an hour ago. They've gone for a walk," she added, giving Harry a significant look, "I just hope he doesn't put his big foot in it again. Come in."
Harry sat at the opposite end of the bed, leaning forwards for a moment to give Ginny a kiss. "Well, I told him to talk to her - he can't go too wrong if he does that, can he?"
Ginny said nothing, but gave him a dark look.
"Yeah, all right, I see what you mean," Harry relented, "so - shall we have breakfast together? I have to go to Hogwarts with Lupin today - I don't want to be late."
"Okay," said Ginny, yawning widely. She had declined to go with them, knowing full well that in a weeks time, she would be seeing more than enough of the Hogwarts library. Leaving Arnold curled up on the bed, they went downstairs to find Mrs. Weasley frying sausages and a very happy looking Hermione and a dazed looking Ron, already seated at the table.
"Morning dears," said Mrs. Weasley as she hummed quietly to herself, "What time are you leaving to visit Lupin?" Mrs. Weasley didn't know what they were actually planning to do today. Ron had thought it was best, and the others had been in complete agreement.
"When we've finished breakfast," chirped Hermione, who was positively glowing.
Exchanging amused looks, Harry and Ginny sat down at the table, as Mrs. Weasley dished out scrambled eggs with the sausages.
"So...have a nice walk this morning, you two?" asked Ginny innocently, buttering some toast.
"Yes, thanks," said Ron, with a warning tone that clearly said Ginny should keep her mouth shut while their mother was in the room. Ginny grinned evilly at him and Hermione blushed. Harry thought it best to keep quiet and eat. Mrs. Weasley, who seemed not to have noticed anything amiss was loading his plate with more food.
"Well have a good time. Ginny, I'm glad you're up so early, we can go to Diagon Alley and get your new school things - your book list came to day."
"Can we visit Fred and George while we're there?"
"Of course - maybe we can have a spot of lunch with them - we'll send Errol ahead with a note to let them know,"
Swallowing the last mouthful of her breakfast, Ginny jumped up from the table. Kissing Harry goodbye,she bid farewell to Hermine and Ron (not without a small smirk) and followed her mother out of the room to go and get ready for their shopping trip to Diagon Alley.
Half an hour later, Harry, Ron and Hermione had Apparated to the village of Hogsmeade. As they walked to Hogwarts, the silence that had been present in the Weasley's kitchen continued. Harry wanted to ask his friends what was going on, but couldn't quite get the nerve up to do so, and risk causing another argument. Hermione was hard pressed to keep her grinning under control, while Ron seemed in a state of permanent shock. Harry made a mental note to have a quiet word with Ron later.
As they approached the gates to the grounds of Hogwarts, Harry felt his heart lift. I'm home, he thought. Hogwarts truly was his favourite place in the world. He hadn't attended school properly for the past year and admittedly, at the end of his sixth year, Hogwarts had lost some of its appeal. He had witnessed some terrible things here. He remembered how awful he felt when he discovered that Draco Malfoy had been using the Room of Requirement to help Death Eaters enter the castle. The Room had acted as a shelter for him and other members of the DA when they had needed it most, and he still couldn't shake the feeling that it had let him down in some way. Of course the worst possible thing that had happened had been the murder of Albus Dumbledore. The thought of it still made Harry's blood run cold, but time had passed.
He could now remember what he loved about the castle too. It had been his first real home, where he had made the best friends he could ever have wished for and he missed the simple things, like eating meals in the Great Hall, his four poster bed in the dormitory, Quidditch, visiting Hagrid and Fang, and of course, all the adventures he, Hermione and Ron had had since their first year. Smiling to himself as he thought about one adventure in particular involving a troll and one of the first charms they had ever learned, Harry's reverie was broken by someone calling his name;
"Harry!" Lupin was waving to him from just outside the gates to the school. They reached him and after saying their hello's, Lupin led them through the gates and up the winding driveway to the Entrance Hall.
"Oh!" sighed Hermione, "I've missed this place!"
"Me too," said Harry and Ron together. Lupin smiled at them.
"You can always come back you know - sit those NEWTS you missed out on..."
"Oh, I'd love too!" sighed Hermione.
"Er, Hermione," said Ron, addressing her for the first time since they'd left the Burrow, "you took all your NEWTS by Correspondence Course and still passed everything with O's!"
"Yes, but I only got an E for Defence Against the Dark Arts! I wouldn't mind a chance to rectify that" she snapped, "and besides, a Correspondence Course is nothing like actually being here!" she looked around wistfully, lost in memories. Ron rolled his eyes, being careful that she didn't spot him.
They had reached the enormous front door. Knocking three times, it swung open. Mr. Filch was standing in the doorway, all traces of the slight cheerfulness he had displayed at Harry's party long gone. Mrs. Norris, his foul old cat was weaving around his ankles and gave a loud hiss when she saw Harry. They had never quite hit it off.
"Hullo, Mr. Filch," said Lupin, polite as ever.
"Yerse, yerse - what are you lot doing 'ere?" he scowled heavily, looking at Harry and Ron as though they were still schoolboys of eleven years of age, with a pocketful of Dungbombs and mud all over their shoes. The fact that Ron did have a Dungbomb in his pocket and Harry did have mud on his shoes was quite beside the point.
"We're here to use the library, Mr. Filch," said Lupin evenly, "it has all been arranged with Headmistress McGonagall."
Filch grunted and muttered something under his breath, grudgingly moving aside to let them pass.
"Thank you," said Lupin with a smile. Filch scuffled off with Mrs. Norris close at his heels.
"Now we're not students and can't get detention anymore, can I please curse that ugly old cat?" asked Ron hopefully.
Lupin chose to ignore this comment as they climbed the marble staircase. Harry wasn't paying much attention. He was too busy staring around at everything. It felt like he hadn't been here in a hundred years and he inhaled deeply, breathing in the smell of the castle like it was the breath of life.
How he had missed Hogwarts!
Re: Harry Potter and the Hellfire Potion
Chapter 17 ~ A Portrait is Worth a Thousand Words
"So...what are we looking for, exactly?" asked Ron.
They were seated around a desk in the library. Thankfully, they had the place to themselves as Madam Pince wasn't due back until the start of term. It was quite a sight; the grounds of the castle were immaculate and still without students roaming around. The library, although usually extremely quiet due to Madam Pince's dislike of talking, whispering and breathing, was now eerily silent.
"Well," said Lupin, drawing a pair of reading glasses from inside his robes, "first of all, I'd like to look at the original Map, please."
Harry pulled the Map out of his bag and lay it on the table. Lupin, smiling to himself tapped it with his wand and said;
"I solemnly swear that I am up to no good," and laughing, he watched the spidery ink lines appear, sprawling their way over the parchment until they were looking at a miniature version of Hogwarts. Looking at the library, Harry was not surprised to see tiny dots labeled with each of their names.
"Ah!" signed Lupin, happily, "This was such a good bit of magic, if I do say so myself! Now, let me see," and he peered closely at the map, "if you'll look closely, you'll see that the map does not go beyond the edge of the school grounds. We put an extremely strong charm on the parchment to make Hogwarts castle appear, it took all four of us combined to do it, and we were only able to because we each knew something about every inch of the castle. In other words, where Sirius had an excellent knowledge of the dungeons, James knew all there was to know about the hidden passages. I knew all the classroom and hallways, and Peter knew about the common rooms - do you understand? Where one of us did not possess knowledge, another filled in that gap. Together we were able to use our combined knowledge to create the map.
We did not know such detail about the Forbidden Forest, which is why we didn't include it. Of course, it would be near impossible to map out a living thing that constantly changes, like the Forest, but within the grounds we certainly knew our stuff. The power in the Map lies within the parchment itself though. As soon as you set foot within the school grounds, the Map knows your name and can chart your exact position and movements. It tells the real person, so even if you're using Polyjuice Potion or an invisibility cloak - or, as in Peter Pettigrew's case, even if you are an Animagus, it knows where you are."
His face clouded over for a moment, lost in thought about his treacherous ex-friend.
"So...how do we make a map that charts the whole country?" asked Ron, looking extremely perplexed.
"Well, I have been giving the matter a great deal of thought and I'm not convinced that Dumbledore meant for us to make a giant, all-inclusive map. For one thing it would take too long, and for another, I'm sure he wouldn't encourage you to make a device with which to watch over every wizard in the country. It's not exactly ethical. Would you like it if you knew someone could see your every move?"
At this, Ron glanced at Hermione and turned an odd shade of green.
"No I wouldn't!" he stated categorically.
"Exactly, and if it were to fall into the hands of Dark wizards, it could be extremely dangerous. No," he continued, looking thoughtfully at the map, "I think Dumbledore must want us to chart a specific location, and that is where you come in, Harry."
"Me? How am I supposed to know a good location? I don't know where she would be."
"Well, have you actually thought about it?" asked Hermione, reasonably.
"Of course! I've thought of nothing but how to find her, and what we can do to stop her!" he pointed out indignantly.
"Yes, but I asked you if you had thoughts about where to find her, not how to,"
Harry opened his mouth to protest, but closed it again quickly. Hermione did have a point, he supposed.
"Well I-" something clunked into place in Harry's head. He frowned, thinking hard.
"What is it, Harry?" asked Hermione, looking nervous.
"I just... I'm remembering.. hang on..." his head felt like it was buzzing. He was remembering a memory, someone else's memory from a long time ago, something he had seen with Dumbledore... in the Pensieve.
"I need to talk to Dumbledore!" he exclaimed, jumping out of his seat.
"Harry! What's wrong?" cried Hermione, Lupin and Ron sat there with mildly shocked expressions.
"Nothing - but I think I know where she might be!" Harry called over his shoulder as he bolted from the library. "I'll be back in a minute!"
Dashing down corridors and racing up staircases, Harry came skidding to a halt outside the Head's office.
"Ginger Newts!" he gasped and he dashed up the slowly spiralling staircase. Hammering on the door, it was yanked sharply open to reveal a shocked looking Professor McGonagall.
"Potter! What is the meaning of this?"
"Sorry, Professor!" he panted, clutching a stitch in his side. He was sharply reminded that he wasn't really up to running about yet.
"Whatever is the matter? Come in, come in!" Professor McGonagall exclaimed, ushering him into the office and helping him into a chair.
Catching his breath, Harry gratefully accepted the glass of water Professor McGonagall conjured for him.
"Dumbledore," he stammered as he gulped the water. "I need Dumbledore!"
"Then look no further," said a different voice.
Turning his head sharply, Harry saw that the voice belonged to a portrait above McGonagall's desk. Framed in gold, it contained a wizard: Albus Dumbledore.
"Dumbledore!" Harry shot out of his chair, stumbling over to the desk, clutching it to keep himself from falling. "I think I know- I think I remember-"
"Harry! Calm down, boy!" said Professor McGonagall, striding over to him. "Why on earth are you getting so worked up?" she sounded annoyed but looked very worried.
"Minerva," interrupted Dumbledore gently, "perhaps it would be best if I could have a moment alone with Harry?"
"I - of course," she said, relenting, although she didn't look very happy about it.
"Thank you," said Dumbledore, giving her a small bow from inside his portrait.
She swept from the office. Once her footsteps had died away, Dumbledore looked at Harry. "Well now. It appears we are quite alone, Harry. What is it that has brought you to my former office in such a rush?" his eyes twinkled behind his half-moon spectacles.
"Well," now Harry had caught his breath, he wondered if perhaps he was on completely the wrong track with his guess, but as there was no-one here but Dumbledore to judge him, he went on; "It was something Hermione said just now, about where to look for Bellatrix Lestrange. I suddenly remembered that day, when we were in the Pensieve, and we went to Tom Riddle's house...it was in the same village Voldemort went to just before he got his body back - the house where his father lived, right near the place where his mother and his last remaining Slytherin relatives lived. And where he hid one of his Horcruxes! And - and the graveyard in that village - well, it was the one where his father was buried, remember? 'Bone of the father, unknowingly given'..." here Harry trailed off, shuddering at the memory of when Wormtail had tied him to the gravestone of Voldmort's father, Tom Riddle Senior, and performed a terrible spell...
Dumbledore said nothing, but continued to look at Harry.
"And - well - I think that with someone like Lestrange, someone who lived to serve him - someone insane - I think she might have some sort of connection with that house, as it was the last place he lived," he concluded somewhat lamely, not wanting to meet Dumbledore's eye. How stupid can you get? he wondered to himself, what a terrible idea! When Dumbledore still didn't speak, Harry dared to look up. To his great relief, Dumbledore had not (as Harry had feared) walked out of his portrait, but was instead, beaming at him.
"My dear boy! You've done it again!"
Harry heaved a sigh of releif.
"Now, if I may ask, do you remember the name and location of the village where Lord Voldemort's mother and father came from? Do you remember the layout of the house in which his mother, Merope lived?"
"I think so!" Harry was thinking hard again, the house had been small, not many rooms,"Yeah! I'm sure I do!"
"Excellent! Then I think it would be wise if you were to re-join your friends in the library and continue your good work! Chop chop!"
Harry turned to leave; "Yes I - how did you know we were in the library?" he asked, looking back at Dumbledore.
But Dumbledore had already left the portrait.
Re: Harry Potter and the Hellfire Potion
Chapter 18 ~ The Madness of Bella
"B-Bella..? Are you h-here? I b-b-brought you some food.." a trembling Wormtail entered the filthy house, a basket of food in his hand. There was rubbish strewn about the floor. Picking his way through it, he wrinkled his nose in disgust.
"Ow!" howled Wormtail, grabbing his behind as the curse glanced off him. "Bella! Stop it! It's me!"
Bellatrix appeared from the shadows, her face obscured by her hooded black cloak.
"Wormatil - I thought I told you to die a foul and painful death?"
"Ah, Bella, I'm glad to hear your sense of humour is still intact!" simpered Wormtail, sycophantically, proffering the basket.
"What's this?" she asked, looking at him with contempt and wondering why she hadn't killed this loathsome little cockroach yet.
"Food - f-for you. You must be hungry..." he wheedled.
Ripping the basket from his hands, she pulled back to cover to reveal bread, cheese and chicken legs. She sniffed cautiously at it, then pulled out a chicken leg and thrust it at Wormtail.
"Eat it." she demanded.
"I - I - why?" he sputtered indignantly.
"Just a little surprised at your sudden generosity. And I'm quite sure your hand didn't slip with a bottle of poison now, did it?" she asked silkily.
"I would never - the mere suggestion - oh very well!" and snatching the chicken from her hand, he tore into it with his yellowing, pointy teeth. Swallowing, he wiped his mouth and said;
"There - happy?"
"Somewhat," she said sourly, and sank to the floor devouring the food rapidly.
"So, how have you been, Bella?" Wormtail asked, with a would-be casual voice, sitting beside her on the floor.
She ignored him and continued to eat, hardly pausing for breath. Wormtail reached inside his robes and pulled out a small flask. Unscrewing the cap, he took a swig and, coughing slightly, offered it to Bella.
"Firewhiskey?" he waggled the flask under her nose.
Eyeing it suspiciously, she paused for a moment, before snatching it and taking several long gulps. Handing the flask back, she said;
"You may leave now."
"But, Bella! I-I thought you might like some company! Lucius and Draco left last night - I know you're all alone..." he wheedled, handing the flask back to her.
Bellatrix gave a harsh laugh. "And what concern is it of yours?" she sneered, taking another slug of Firewhiskey.
"Well... I thought you might need someone to... to talk to..?"
"Well now! Is wittle Wormtail feeling wonely? No fwiends left?" she mocked him in her horrid baby voice, "Get lost, Wormtail - no-one needs vermin like you around, no matter how desperate they are."
"Come now, Bella! That's not very friendly - I did bring you food, after all - no one else cares about where you are," whined Wormtail.
"You have never done anything for anyone else without an ulterior motive, Wormtail, so why don't you just spit it out. What do you want?" snatching up her wand, she pointed it directly at his forehead.
He yelped and drew his knees to his chest, cowering in fear.
"All right..." she mused, "if that's the way you want it. You have until the count of three to tell me why you're snivelling around here. Otherwise, you die."
"Bella!" he cried, scrambling to his feet.
She raised her wand, smiling cruelly.
"All right! All right! Please! Lower your wand! I-I'll tell you!"
Bellatrix lowered her wand and gazed at Wormtail, head tilted, appraising him. "This had better be good." she said coldly.
Sobbing slightly, Wormtail sank back to the floor in relief, sweat beading his brow. "I came to ask for your help..."
Bella snorted. "My help? And what, pray tell, can I do to help you, Wormtail?"
"Well.." he began, haltingly, through his sobs, "you must know that the Ministry are closing in on us..."
"Us?" Bellatrix cut in.
"Yes, 'us'" repeated Wormtail, with a hint of impatience now, "the Dark Lord's followers, Bella! The Ministry grow ever closer to catching us! Now that we no longer have the protection of the Dark Lord it is only a matter of time until we are thrown into Azkaban!"
"Go on..." she eyed him suspiciously but couldn't deny that Wormtail had a point.
"Well, you have so successfully evaded capture," Wormtail rushed on, eagerly, sensing weakness, "if you can help me do the same, I might have some valuable information for you..." he looked at slyly.
"And what might that be?"
"Do you swear to help me? Look after me? The Ministry are after my blood, Bella! Now that they know I am alive, they are furious - they - they even visited my Mother and took back my Order of Merlin..." he trailed off sadly.
"Your Order of Merlin?" sputtered Bellatrix, "You care for an award given by those imbeciles?! For something you didn't even do?!" enraged, she sent a hex at him, deliberately aiming it so it singed what was left of his thinning hair. He screamed, beating himself about the head to put out the sparks. "Now tell me your 'valuable information' - I grow weary of your pathetic lies."
"I c-c-cannot say a word until I am sure you will p-protect me!" he stammered.
"You dare issue orders to me?" Bellatrix gasped, incredulously. Wormtail dived to the floor and threw his arms over his head protectively, sure he was about to feel terrible pain, but to his great surprise, he heard a laugh. Daring to peek up, he saw that Bellatrix was smiling at him. Granted, it was a hideous smile, but it was an improvement to having a wand at his throat.
"Well well! This must be good information - why else would you so foolishly risk unbearable pain and torture?" she mused, to herself. "Very well, Wormtail. If the Ministry come a-calling, I shall kill them and if by doing so it saves your life...so be it."
"Well, Bella - th-that's not exactly what I meant,"
She eyed him coldly. "That's the deal, Wormtail - take it or leave it." And raising her wand again, she sent another curse at him, that shot clean through his earlobe.
"AAAAAAAARRGH!" he screamed, writhing about with pain. "OKAY! Okay, Bella! I-I'll tell you!" he was sobbing loudly now, clutching his bloody ear.
"Oh SHUT UP!" she said, irritated now. With a casual flick of her wand, she healed his ear in a second.
His sobs ceased instantly.
"Now, Wormtail...tell me everything you know."
Pushing Wormtail roughly into a rickety old chair, Bellatrix leaned forwards intently. "Well?"
Sniffing shakily, Wormtail wiped his eyes with the back of a grimy hand. He hiccoughed slightly and trembling, raised his eyes until he was looking at her. "b-before he died, th-the Dark Lord, he paid a visit to his family home-"
"This is his family home, idiot," she snarled.
"N-no no, Bella! This was his father's house," he looked at her carefully, "his Muggle father's home..."
Her mouth twisted in disgust. "That is pure fantasy - cooked up by Potter and that Muggle-loving old fool Dumbledore! The Dark Lord was pure of blood-"
"No, Bella," said Wormtail forcefully. "Look into my mind if you have to but this is not a lie." He stared at her intently, willing her to see the truth.
She stared at him, hard. Raising her wand, she cried "Legilimens!" Images flashed through her mind; Wormtail, cowering in front of the Dark Lord, nodding sycophantically as a high, cruel voice said; "...yes...he was a Muggle, but it is of no consequence to me, Wormtail. I ended his worthless life when I was a teenager..." the voice became foggy as Bellatrix's arm went slack, breaking the spell.
"No..." she whispered, eyes wide with shock, "You lie!"
"No, Bella - I do not lie. Can't you see? This place is not magical! He despised this house and all that it represented! We must go to his mother's house - a truly magical place. We will be better protected there."
"How?" she demanded, her face drained of all colour.
"Because his mother was a direct descendant of Salazar Slytherin. You see Bella! It matters not that he had a Muggle father! The blood that ran through his veins was that of the most powerful dark wizard-"
Bellatrix raised her wand in fury.
"-I mean, the most powerful dark wizard before the rise of Lord Voldemort! Come Bella! I cannot help you if you are constantly threatening to kill me!"
"Very well," she relented, lowering her wand, "take me to the house."
Re: Harry Potter and the Hellfire Potion
Chapter 19 ~ An Old Friend Returns
"Harry, I'm exhausted! Can we call it a night?" sighed Hermione, rubbing her eyes.
They were still seated around the table in the library and outside the sun had set. The lamps were burning low, causing flickering shadows to fall across the room, casting an eerie glow. Harry looked up in surprise. He and Lupin had been perusing a Muggle map of Britain, plotting out the coordinates of Great and Little Hangleton. Ron was wandering up and down the aisles of the Restricted Section, looking for methods of magical concealment other than Invisibility Cloaks. Hermione had been making a long list of potion ingredients for everything from Veritaserum to Polyjuice Potion. They wanted to be well prepared.
"What time is it?" he asked.
"It's nearly nine o'clock! Ron, your Mum's going to wonder where we are! We've missed dinner and we told her we'd only be a few hours!"
"Yeah, now you mention it, I'm starving!" said Ron, rubbing his stomach and gazing beseechingly at Harry.
"All right, all right," said Harry, giving in. It was probably a good thing too. The tiny lines on the map were starting to blur and he had run his hands through his hair so many times it now stuck out even more than usual, making Harry look like he had received a mild electric shock.
"A very wise idea," agreed Lupin, rolling up the maps and parchment. "We shall continue this in the morning. Why don't you come over to Headquarters. Er, probably best to arrive after breakfast," he smiled sheepishly, remembering the meal Tonks had cooked when they last visited.
"Good idea," said Harry, helping Hermione return books to the shelves with a flick of his wand. Ron's stomach gave a loud rumble.
"Let's go! If I don't get some food soon, I might have to eat Mrs. Norris!"
"Eurgh, Ron! Even for you, that's disgusting!" Hermione snorted.
Harry waited for the usual retaliation and to his great surprise, none was forthcoming. Peering at Ron out of the corner of his eye, Harry noticed that again Ron had gone a funny green colour, but said nothing. Exchanging a look with Lupin, Harry simply said,
"I don't think it'll come to that, Ron. Let's go home and see if there are any leftovers. Hopefully roast chicken!" Turning back to the table, Harry picked up his bag and promptly dropped it again in surprise. Square in the middle sat a hot, roasted chicken on a golden platter.
Ron rubbed his eyes and did a double take. "Am I so hungry that I'm seeing things or is there a chicken sitting on that table?"
"Unless we're all having the same hallucination, I'd say that there is definitely a chicken on the table." said Hermione, matter-of-factly, "the question is, where did it come from?"
"Who cares?" exclaimed Ron happily, "let's eat! We just need knives and forks-"
Four knives, forks and golden plates materialised around the chicken. Ron stepped forward to cut a piece, but Hermione threw out an arm to stop him.
"Wait a minute! You know better than to eat something when you don't know where it came from!"
"Well, Hermione, normally I would agree with you, but we are in Hogwarts. I find it hard to believe that this is the work of Dark Wizards." said Lupin, gently. He turned to look at Harry, who was smiling to himself.
"What's so funny, Harry?"
"I think I know who sent us this," clearing his throat, he said, "I'd also like some roast potatoes, carrots, peas and gravy!" As he named each item, a dish of it appeared on the table. Hermione frowned as realisation dawned.
"Harry, it's not very nice to take advantage like that-"
"Take advantage of what?" asked Ron, who had taken a seat when Hermione wasn't looking.
"Not what - who-"
"Come off it, Hermione!" scoffed Harry, also taking a seat. Lupin followed. Relenting finally, she joined them at the table. "Anyway - it's not like I wasn't going to say 'thank-you' " and addressing the air around them, Harry announced;
"You should join us too!"
A knife, fork and fifth plate appeared on the table next to Harry. With a loud crack, a sobbing but very happy Dobby the house elf appeared, and threw his arms joyfully around Harry's legs.
"Harry Potter, sir!" exclaimed Dobby, rapturously, "Is you all right, sir? Is you all better?" he stared at Harry anxiously, tears dribbling down his front.
Extracting his legs gently, Harry replied, "I'm fine thanks, Dobby. How are you? Come and eat!"
"Oh thank you Harry Potter, sir. You are so kind and generous and brave and noble and-"
"Er, Dobby, the chicken's getting cold." said Harry, feeling heat rising in his face while Ron tried and failed to cover a smirk. Dobby clambered up onto a chair and clicked his fingers. Equal portions of chicken, roast vegetables and gravy disappeared from the serving dishes and reappeared on each of their plates.
"Excellent, Dobby, thanks!" said Ron, shovelling food into his mouth.
"You is welcome, Master Wheezy, sir!" Dobby exclaimed, his giant round eyes shining with happiness. Turning to Harry so their faces were inches apart, Dobby asked, "Is you enjoying it Harry Potter, sir? Can I get you anything else? You just names it and Dobby will get it for you-"
"Actually, some Yorkshire pudding would make this perfect, Dobby-"
"Ron! Don't you think you've got enough to eat already?" said Hermione, hotly.
"-this is great, thanks, Dobby," Harry cut in swiftly, not entirely sure how long Ron's new found patience would last. "But I'm not sure how Madam Pince will react if she finds out we've been eating in the library."
"Never fear, Harry Potter sir! Dobby is making everything vanish when we is finished! Dobby is doing anything to make sure the most valiant and powerful Harry Potter is not getting into trouble!" he continued to gaze adoringly at Harry until Lupin cleared his throat.
"Come now, Dobby, you have made an excellent meal - please eat with us," he smiled warmly at Dobby, who welled up again.
"You is very kind Mr. Lupin sir," and dabbing his eyes on a hand-knitted hanky, Dobby gave another click of his fingers and his food suddenly split into many tiny, bite-sized pieces. Picking up his fork and holding it like a shovel, he began to scoop the little morsels into his mouth, eyes wide, staring at Harry, reminding Harry of the way Luna Lovegood sometimes behaved. Hiding a smile, he tucked in to his own food, his mind still going over countless map coordinates and the layout of the Gaunt home. He wondered if it had magical protection on it - would this prevent them from plotting it on the Map? He thought back to what he knew about 12 Grimmauld Place. Sirius's father had placed countless unplottable charms on the Black family home - surely Marvolo Gaunt had done the same? But then again, when he and Dumbledore had visited the Penseive memory of Bob Ogden, the Ministry official they had seen have an encounter with the Gaunt family, he hadn't had any difficulty getting into the house. That was if you didn't count Morfin Gaunt hexing him of course. Harry turned this thought around in his head when he noticed that Dobby had practically climbed into his lap.
"Er, Dobby - what are you doing?" Everyone had finished eating.
"Does Harry Potter want dessert, sir? Dobby is making your favourite! Treacle tart!" and as it used to happen in the Great Hall at mealtimes, the leftovers faded away and an enormous treacle tart appeared in the centre of the library table.
Harry looked at it longingly (as did Ron), but Hermione cut in-
"-Dobby, that's so kind of you, but we had really better get back to The Burrow - your Mum will be frantic, Ron!"
Dobby looked devastated. "I understand, miss," he squeaked sadly, still sitting on Harry, a fact which had escaped no-one at the table.
"Listen, Dobby - it looks great - maybe we can take it with us?" suggested Harry.
Dobby hopped up and down on Harry's legs in delight. "Yes - you is so clever and-"
"Dobby - my legs!" gasped Harry, while Ron laughed but Hermione and Lupin looked mildly alarmed.
Dobby gasped in horror, "Oh Harry Potter! Dobby is grievously sorry! Dobby will punish himself, right now!" and leaping off Harry's legs with a final painful bounce, Dobby made to run at a shelf of books. Harry and Hermione, well used to this sort of behaviour by now each grabbed him by the elastic waistband of his shorts. His tiny arms and legs flailed in the air for a moment before they put him down at a safe distance from the bookcase.
"Dobby, it's okay - really - I'm fine!"
But Dobby broke into earsplitting sobs, whacking himself about the head until Harry caught hold of his little wrists and said firmly;
"Dobby - that's enough! You'll have Filch and Mrs. Norris up here with all this noise and then we'll all be in trouble! I promise I'm not angry with you."
Dobby ceased his sobbing and peered up at Harry through watery eyes. He suddenly bowed low. "Harry Potter - Dobby is most grateful and he will be quiet as a mouse sir! Dobby is not getting Harry Potter into trouble for all the world! Dobby is getting your treacle tart ready to take home, sir!" and with a clap of his hands, the tart was encased in a pristine white box, tied with a scarlet string. Hermione knelt down to pat Dobby on the shoulder.
"Thanks Dobby. We really have to go now, but if you're allowed time off, you can come and visit us at The Burrow if you like."
Dobby stared at Harry in wonder, all trace of unhappiness gone, his eyes glowing like stars.
"Dobby is getting one day off a month, sir! Dobby is the happiest house elf in the world now he is visiting Harry Potter! Now I is showing you and your friends to the nearest fireplace to help you get home quickly, Harry Potter!"
Skipping excitedly, Dobby led the way out of the library, closely followed by Hermione and Lupin. Ron turned to scoop up the treacle tart. Taking advantage of their lagging behind, Harry muttered;
"So what exactly happened with you and Hermione this morning? You've hardly said two words to her since we got here and you've been acting really weird all day."
Making sure Hermione, Dobby and Lupin were still far enough ahead to be out of earshot, Ron replied indignantly;
"Well, we went for a walk in the garden, and before I could even say anything, she told me that she understands that I'm an 'immature idiot sometimes' and that she's 'come to terms' with the fact I'll always be like that, but that I should 'get my act together' as it's obvious we're meant to be together!"
"Blimey - that's harsh!" whispered Harry, shocked at Hermione's insight into the situation.
"Well that's not all!" hissed Ron, keeping his voice low so that Harry had to listen hard, "she said - she said-"
"What?" Harry demanded.
"She said that one day we'll get married and I had better get used to the idea!"
Harry, Ron and Hermione escaped with only a mild telling off from Mrs. Weasley for coming in so late that evening. After she had stomped off to bed, they stayed up 'til the early hours of the morning, drinking tea and eating Dobby's delicious treacle tart. Ginny joined them and they filled her in on all they knew so far.
"So what's next?" she asked as Hermione handed round the last few pieces of tart.
"Keep working on the map," said Harry, gulping down the last of his tea.
"Yeah, and find some way of getting there without her finding out," mumbled Ron with a full mouth, spraying Ginny with crumbs. She lifted her legs up to allow Hermione to hoover them up with her wand.
"Sorry!" Ron apologised, swallowing the last bit.
"Hmm," Hermione frowned, "let's go and get some sleep - we have to be at Lupin's in a few hours!" And with that, they trudged off to bed.
The next day dawned bright and sunny. Harry, waking from a very pleasant dream about Ginny found he couldn't get back to sleep again. Deciding to go for a wander round the garden he dressed quickly and crept down the stairs. Crookshanks was sprawled out on his back on the rug in front of the dying embers of the fire, his paws swiping at thin air, whiskers twitching. Looks like I'm not the only one who's been dreaming, he thought, smiling to himself. He opened the door to the garden, breathing in deep lungfuls of fresh air. The grass was coated in a fine sprinkling of dew that glistened in the early morning sunlight. Ambling aimlessly through the overgrown path, Harry thought about all that had happened recently. He couldn't quite believe that Voldemort was dead. With all that had been going on, he'd hardly had time to prod at his vague memories of what had taken place at the Ministry of Magic. All he could remember was that blinding pink light and the most intense pain he could ever have imagined. He sighed in frustration, why can't I remember? Part of him doubted that he had even defeated Voldemort at all. In fact, if it weren't for Dumbledore's visits, he wouldn't believe it. Coming to the edge of the garden, Harry stepped on something that made a squelching sound.
"Oi!" came an indignant shout.
Looking down, Harry spied a garden gnome, shaking an angry fist at him. Lifting up his foot, he realised that he had just squashed the gnome's breakfast; a fat juicy worm. Harry smiled and shrugged his shoulders. This only enraged the gnome, causing him to run at Harry's shoe, kicking him, to no avail.
"Hey!" Harry exclaimed, reaching down to pluck the gnome between his forefinger and thumb. "It was an accident," the gnome continued to flail about, and was about to sink his little pointy teeth into Harry's knuckle. "Okay," he sighed, "you leave me no choice." Swinging his arm in a circular motion, Harry flung the cursing, yelling little gnome far from the Weasley's home. Chuckling softly to himself, he sank down onto a moss covered garden bench to pick up his interrupted train of thought. In many ways, even though Voldemort was dead, his life hadn't changed one bit. The hunt for Bellatrix Lestrange seemed every bit as hard, but deep down, Harry couldn't feel fear. Not - as he knew Hermione thought - because he underestimated Bellatrix in any way, but because he had learned that you had to follow your destiny. That was his life. Forever a marked man. He knew after Bellatrix there would be someone else out there, some sick individual who was evil and twisted and desperate to take up where Voldemort had left off. Harry felt at peace with this knowledge. For all the evil that existed, there was a balance and that balance was love. He understood now that you could not have good without evil, light without dark, love without hate. And now his visit to Sirius's ancestral home had brought a whole slew of painful memories with it. A lump rose in his throat as he thought of the family he had lost. He knew with sudden clarity that he would find Bellatrix, and avenge his Godfather's death. He also knew now to enjoy every moment he had with his friends, the Weasley family and most of all, Ginny.
A miaowing sound cut into his thoughts. Crookshanks was sitting at his feet, gently pawing his leg, looking at him hopefully. Harry sat up straight, allowing him to leap onto his lap.
"Hello," Harry sniffed, wiping his wet face with is sleeve and ruffling Crookshank's ginger fur with his free hand. "What are you doing out here?" Crookshanks stared at Harry, purring deeply. "Are you hungry?" He stood, scooping Crookshanks up under his arm and headed for the kitchen door.
Mrs. Weasley was inside, stirring something on the stove. She jumped when the door opened, dropping her wand on the kitchen floor.
"Oh, Harry dear! You startled me! What are you doing up so early?" she peered at him, a frown creasing her brow. "Harry, are you all right?"
He put Crookshanks gently on the floor, taking a moment to collect himself. Straightening up, he smiled at her. "Yes thanks, Mrs. Weasley. Just woke up early and couldn't get back to sleep."
They stared at each other for a moment, and before Harry knew what was happening, Mrs. Weasley had crossed the kitchen and engulfed him in a hug. Harry hesitated for a moment, before hugging her back. The lump rose in his throat again, and to his embarrassment, he felt his eyes brim with hot tears.
"Don't you be ashamed one bit, Harry," she said fiercely, reading his mind, "you've been through so much - too much. You just let it all out."
Harry didn't know how long they stood like that. Relief washed over him as he let out everything he had been holding onto all these years. Mrs. Weasley smoothed a motherly hand over his hair. Finally, Harry let out a deep breath and they broke apart. Mrs. Weasley handed him a handkerchief and led him to a chair at the table. She sat next to him and took his hand.
"Feel better?" she asked gently. He nodded and let out another halting breath. He didn't want to look at her. What must she think of him?
"Harry," Mrs. Weasley said knowingly, "look at me."
He slowly raised his eyes, a blush rising in his cheeks.
"Now you listen to me," she said firmly, "you must never feel embarrassed about letting go. In all my years I have never met anyone who has done or seen as much as you. All the attention that's been heaped on you over the years, and do you know what? Never once have I heard you complain, never once have you shirked your duty. You've saved the lives of thousands, maybe even millions with your actions. It's a bigger responsibility than anyone in the world has ever had to deal with, and quite frankly, if you didn't get upset, I would be very worried. So don't you ever be ashamed Harry Potter - don't you dare."
Harry sniffed, and let out a watery laugh. "You're quite scary sometimes, Mrs. Weasley."
Mrs. Weasley laughed too. "That's right, young man. Don't you forget it. Now, what would you like for breakfast?"
A few minutes later, Ginny clattered down the stairs.
"Harry! What are you doing up so early?" she asked, dropping gracefully into the chair opposite.
Before he could answer, Mrs. Weasley interrupted, "Here you go! Sausage, bacon, eggs and toast for two. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a load of washing to do," and sliding two plates full of food onto the table, she exited the kitchen, giving Harry a significant look as she went.
"What's going on?" Ginny asked with concern, ignoring her food.
"Nothing," Harry replied, smiling at her and buttering some toast.
"Are you sure? You look a bit pale-"
Ginny was interrupted by the arrival of Socrates, the Longbottom's tawny owl. Standing up to relieve him of his letter, she said; "It's addressed to you. Here," and handed the scroll to Harry.
Tapping it with his wand, he read;
I have news for you! Can you bring everyone to 142 Diagon Alley today? At 4 o'clock? Luna has already said yes. Please send Socrates back with your reply.
"I wonder what that's all about?" Harry mused aloud. As keen as he was to find out Neville's surprise, he wasn't pleased that he would have to cut his time with Lupin and the new Map short.
"What're you looking so grumpy about?" Ron asked as he entered the kitchen, hair sticking out all over the place. Hermione was close behind and took the letter Harry held out to them. Reading it out loud, she said;
"Ooh! What could it be?" she asked interestedly.
"D'you reckon we'll have time to go...you know - what with our visit to Lupin?" Ron asked in a low voice, looking around to see if his mother was in earshot.
"It sounds important to Neville - we should be there Harry," said Hermione firmly. Ginny nodded in agreement.
"Yeah, all right," he sighed in a resigned tone. "But can we get going to Lupin's now then? We won't have as much time as I thought."
"You have to let me eat first!" cried Ron, loading his plate with food. "I'll be quick I swear."
Harry rolled his eyes. "Don't worry, take your time. I don't want you to choke yourself. I'll write a quick note to Lupin to let him know." Harry hurried off to find Hedwig.
"Do you think Harry's okay?" Ginny asked the other two, when Harry was out of earshot.
"'Course he is," said Ron through a large bite of sausage. "Why wouldn't he be?"
Hermione sniffed delicately. Ignoring Ron, she said "Why do you ask, Ginny?"
"I dunno - he just seems a bit quiet this morning. Maybe I'm worrying over nothing..."
"We'll keep an eye on him today. Don't worry - I'm sure he's fine."
They passed the rest of the time trying to guess what Neville's big secret was, until it was time to leave for Lupin's. When they arrived, they found that Lupin had already laid out all the parchment and books they had been using the day before.
"Where's Tonks?" asked Ron.
"At work. Even though Voldemort is gone, there are still plenty of Dark Wizards to keep up with, the Malfoys in particular."
Harry felt his stomach tighten in anger. "I hope she finds them soon," he growled.
"Harry mate, I agree, but do you have to sound so much like Mad-Eye?" asked Ron nervously. He and Hermione exchanged a glance.
"Why don't we just concentrate on the Map," she said, looking at Harry with concern. "Look at this, Harry. I've found a potion that explodes when you throw it - that should come in handy, don't you think?"
"Excellent work, Hermione," remarked Lupin. "May I see the list of ingredients?"
Hermione handed him the potion book she had been reading.
"Let's see, Mandrake root, lacewings, hellebore...all easy to get hold of, but this, the pus from mimbulus mimbletonia, that's going to be tricky."
"Mimbulus mimbletonia? That rings a bell," said Harry, frowning.
"Of course it is! It's Stinksap! Well, the pus is. Neville's got one, remember?"
"What, that great spiky cactus he's in love with?" asked Ron, wrinkling his nose, "well that's all right then - we can just ask Neville for some. We all know he'd do anything to get Lestrange..." he looked around at them darkly. Hermione and Harry nodded in agreement.
"By the way, what is it Neville wants you to see in Diagon Alley?" asked Lupin, trying to keep the mood light.
"No idea," said Ron, throwing his quill down and stretching his arms wide and looking at his watch. "Blimey! Now you mention it, we should go. It's quarter to four!"
They scrambled to gather their belongings together. They planned to meet Ginny and Mrs. Weasley there.
"Oh Lupin! We're leaving your place in such a mess!" Hermione said, apologetically.
"Not to worry, Hermione. You just get to Diagon Alley," he said as they lined up by the kitchen fireplace, "and send me an owl to let me know what the big surprise is!"
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