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Act I, Scene III. The spotlight centers on the stage where Ron Weasley is being led into a tall box resembling a telephone booth by Hermione Granger.

"Are you sure this is safe ‘Mione?" Ron asked.

"Oh absolutely Ronnie, just get in the box and say the magic words for added protection."

"Alright, if you say so," Ron replied climbing into the box. "The authors, Bob and Alyx, would like you to understand that JK Rowling owns the Potterverse. We do not."

"Alright ‘Mione, I said the words, what now?"

"Just be patient Ron."

Harry sneaks onto the stage and starts piling wood at the bottom of the box, then turns to Hermione for a match…

Sunset Over Britain
Chapter 11

Hogwarts Great Hall, Dinner…

The hall fell into an uneasy silence as Professor McGonagall escorted Ron Weasley up to the main table. Dumbledore and Snape were conspicuous in their absence and Ron looked angry enough to spit nails.

McGonagall clapped her hands loudly causing all the heads to turn in her direction.   "May I have your attention please? Mr. Weasley has something he needs to say to everyone," she said, and then she motioned for Ron to start talking.

Ron shot her a defiant glare before he pulled a slip of parchment from his pocket. "Students of Hogwarts," he said woodenly, reading from his parchment. "I am deeply sorry for my actions against Hermione Granger and hope that you all accept my apology."

Ron looked up to face the student body. At that moment, Peeves wandered into the Great Hall. He took one look at Ron and shouted, "Oh, go bugger Dean Thomas, Weasel!"

Ron’s face turned scarlet and he bolted from the hall. Peeves followed in hot pursuit as the hall erupted in laughter.

A New Place to Lay One’s Head…

The day after Professor Snape met the alligators in potions class, Harry and Hermione were moved from their sixth year dormitories to the Head suites in Gryffindor Tower. The suites were available from a password-protected portrait in the Gryffindor Common Room and were decorated in a similar manner, except that the bedrooms contained a separate study area. The suite shared a huge bathroom and a very cozy common room.

Professor McGonagall showed Harry and Hermione their new quarters, and they were generally pleased with what they found. Harry did have one concern, however. During the brief tour, Professor McGonagall had glanced at several portraits with a worried expression on her face.   It wasn’t the first time Harry had had to deal the Headmaster’s painted spies and he knew he have to disable these as well.

He waited until Professor McGonagall left the small common room between the two suites before turning to Hermione. He placed his fingers on her lips for a moment and she nodded in understanding. Closing his eyes, he reached out with his senses. Dealing with the portraits would be an easy thing to do. As he had done with several other paintings around the school, he adjusted the magic in them so that Harry and Hermione were effectively non-existent. The portraits would not see or hear them. They still functioned normally, but would have little to report back to the Headmaster.

Harry then walked into Hermione’s bedroom and repeated the process on the portrait there as well. He was about to leave her room when he sensed something else. Turning to the bed, he concentrated on it. Hermione, who’d followed him into the room, watched as he worked.

"Interesting," he murmured, more to himself than anyone present.

"What is it?"

"There are a lot of enchantments on the bed, all of them are benign though. There’s also a passage behind the bed. I don’t remember it being on the Marauder’s Map," he replied.

"Where does it lead?"

"I’m not entirely certain. I can seal the passage so only we can open it, seal it off entirely or just collapse it, Hermione. It’s your bed and your room. What do you want me to do?"

"You’re certain you can seal it so only you or I can open the passage?"

"Yes. No one would be able to open it from the other side. And only you or I would be able to open it from this end."

"Do it that way, then. We can explore to see where it leads later on."

Harry took Hermione’s hand in his and smiled at her.   He then raised his other hand and placed it on the headboard of the bed.

The headboard glowed for a moment. When the glow faded, he lifted her hand to his lips and kissed it before he let it go.   He then turned back to the bed and looked at it for a moment in silence.

"There are charms on the bed. A self adjusting comfort charm, a warming charm. There’s residue of several failed charms…" Harry stopped and gapped for a moment, startled.   Then his face turned bright red.

"Harry, what’s wrong?" asked Hermione, concerned by his reaction.

"There’s a charm on the bed that feels…"

"Feels like what?"

"It feels familiar… like I should know the caster. I can tell when you’ve cast a charm on something by the way it feels, Hermione. It’s the same now…I know this caster…" he stammered.

"Is it Dumbledore or Snape?"

Harry shook his head firmly. "No, neither.   This is different, it’s almost like… smelling a whiff of home?" he asked, puzzled by his own words

Hermione’s eyes lit up in recognition. "Could it have been cast by one of your parents?"

Harry closed his eyes and shuddered for a moment. "Maybe. I’ve been told my mum was excellent with charms and quite powerful in her own right and she was head girl, but… Oh, blast it all! Why would I have this kind of luck?"

"What are you on about, Harry? If you’ve run across a legacy of your mum’s handiwork, I would think you’d be happy to know it."

"Because it’s a contraceptive charm, Hermione!" Harry blurted, then whirled away from her, his face flaming.

"Oh," came the quiet reply, then she started to giggle.   "Oh honestly, Harry. Your parents had to be intimate with each other. After all, they had you didn’t they?"

"You’re right Hermione, but this is like walking in and catching them doing it!"

Hermione turned a few shades of red herself. "Ah, I think I see your point."

Harry snickered. Obviously he’d touched a nerve with Hermione. "Do you want me to dispel the charms or leave them?"

"Go ahead and leave them. I doubt I’ll need the contraceptive charm, and if I do, I’m not going to rely on a charm that’s nearly twenty years old."

"Alright, I’ll go check my room for portraits and other surprises," he replied.

Ron’s Change of Heart…

Ronald Weasley still spent his nights in the Gryffindor Tower and he still ate in Great Hall, but from eight in the morning ‘til seven in the evening he followed Mr. Filch around the castle fixing, cleaning and listening to Filch moan about the good old days when teachers could torture students legally. In-School Suspension they called it. What Ron called it didn’t bear repeating.

It was four in the afternoon and he was repairing floor stones up near Myrtle’s bathroom on the third floor when he heard a noise behind him. Standing, he turned and relaxed when he saw it was only Professor Dumbledore approaching. Dumbledore smiled benignly at him, Ron relaxed and started to turn back to the stone he was trying to fit into the floor.

"Adjungo compescor!" came a voice from behind him and the world spun crazily for a moment, and then went dark.

Ron blinked his eyes a few times. There was a voice speaking to him. Quickly trying to muster enough concentration, he turned to the speaker.

"Ronald, I realize how unfair this punishment is for you, and now that you’ve become more interested in your Defense class than Miss Granger, I’m sure you’ll do well in that subject. In fact, I might be able to arrange some extra dueling lessons with Professor Snape. That is, until you can return to your regular classes," Dumbledore offered.

Ron nodded gratefully at the Headmaster. Anything would be better than fixing floor stones for Mr. Filch.

Dumbledore smiled and walked away from Ron, his real goal accomplished.

Because of the punishments assigned at the Board meeting, he was unable to do a simple memory charm. Instead, he had transferred the emotive context Ron had felt for Hermione to his Defense classes. As far as Ron is concerned, he once loved Hermione, but no longer.

Things are Starting to Get Ugly…

Flying. It was one of the greatest joys of Harry’s life. He streaked along the Quidditch pitch only inches above the grass, his Firebolt putting out every bit of speed it could. With a slight shift of his weight he went nearly vertical, rocketing upwards out of the pitch.

At nearly one thousand feet above the pitch, he tilted over into a vertical dive, pushing his Firebolt for every ounce of speed it could provide. At the last minute he pulled out of the suicidal dive, his feet skimming the tops of the grass.

He grinned. Nothing felt as good to him at flying.

He landed his broom nearly center of the Quidditch pitch. His ban had not been lifted, but the ban only prevented him from playing Quidditch. It said nothing about flying for the fun of it. Clutching his broom, he walked from the pitch to the Entrance Hall.

Harry was surprised to see a group of about ten boys standing in the Entrance Hall. He recognized them as being from Gryffindor, but he didn’t know any of them very well. Two were friends of the Creevey brothers.

One boy stepped out in front of the others. "Potter."

Harry turned a curious eye on the boy.

"We know what you’ve done, Potter. We know how you’ve deliberately set out to ruin our team this year…"

"I see Ron’s been spinning fairy tales again," Harry interrupted dryly.

"Listen Potter, we’re tired of you lording it over everyone. Your refusal to play this year ruined our chances, then you go and lose us our team captain…"

"Did you all drink stupid potions with your dinner this evening? The Board revoked Weasley’s captaincy. I had nothing to do with it. As for me not playing Quidditch, talk to the Headmaster.   He’s the one who refused to lift my ban.   If you’re looking for someone to blame for the loss of the Quidditch cup," he sneered disdainfully, "talk to the Headmaster about my ban, and kick Weasley for being such a prat as to lose his spot on the team.

"Look boys, this has been fun and all that, but it’s old news. Find something else to complain about, you wankers, because you’re starting to bore me."

Harry then shoved his way through the group of stunned Gryffindors. The silence left behind him was deafening.

Gryffindor Common Room, Later That Evening…

Harry had just come through the entrance hole to the common room when something struck him from the side. Dazed he sank to one knee and tried to look around. The room was darkened, making it difficult to see his attackers. Someone kicked Harry in the ribs and he fell to his side. A few more blows fell, then it stopped and a voice he didn’t recognize said, "This is what happens to traitors to their own house."

Harry’s vision darkened for a moment and he thought he might pass out, but the feeling passed. As he struggled to stay conscious, the common room cleared of students. He got painfully to his feet and walked to the entrance of the Head suites.

Hermione, Ginny and Neville were in the shared common room between the two bedrooms when Harry staggered into the room. He walked to one of the couches and sat down heavily.

Hermione looked over at him in the dimly lit room and frowned.   "Torca ignis," she murmured with a flick of her wand. The wall sconces flared to life. Both Hermione and Ginny gasped as the light hit him and he became fully visible.

"Er… hi?" said Harry, trying to smile.

Hermione moved quickly to his side and, kneeling in front of him, she examined his face carefully. As she did, the door opened once more and Romany walked in, followed by Professor McGonagall.

"What happened to you, Harry?" asked Hermione. His left eye was swelling shut. He had a vicious bruise on his cheek and other bruises still forming.

"I think our Housemates are upset about losing the first Quidditch match to Slytherin this past weekend and they think I’m the reason for it," he replied, while gingerly probing his lip with a finger.

Ginny conjured a basin of water and a cloth and set it down next to Hermione, who picked up the cloth and started to clean his injuries.

"Mr. Potter, do you need to go to infirmary?" asked Professor McGonagall.

Harry pressed a hand against the side of his chest and his glazed over as his hand flared with a bright halo of light. When the light died, he sighed in relief and took a deep breath.

"I don’t think so, Professor. I’m just bruised and banged up a bit. I don’t think they managed to break anything," he replied.

"I know a spell that will help with those bruises, Harry. Hermione, watch as I do this. I suspect you may end up having to do it again someday. You might as well learn it too, Ginny," said Romany.

While Romany showed Hermione and Ginny the spell, Professor McGonagall grilled Harry about what happened.

"Mr. Potter, are you sure you couldn’t identify the people involved?"

"Honestly Professor, if I could, I would. It was dark. All I know is they had to be mostly Gryffindor’s since in happened in our own common room," he said, wincing as Hermione tried Romany’s spell a little too roughly. She smiled at him in apology.

Neville, Ginny and the two Professors left a few minutes later when it had finally been decided that there was nothing to be done about the situation. While McGonagall was outraged that her own house would attack one of its members, the others had almost expected it.

As the door closed, Harry and Hermione settled into an uneasy silence in the little common room. She worked on her homework, while he wrote a series of letters. The steady scratching of his quill finally attracted Hermione’s attention.

"Who are you writing?"

"Remus, Tonks, your parents and a couple others," Harry replied, distracted by what he was doing.

Curious, Hermione walked over to him and picked up one of the parchments glancing at him for permission.   When he nodded, she smiled and read the letter. As she read, her face slowly paled and her hands trembled. Placing the letter down she used her wand to move a chair next to his and sat down.

"Do you really think it’s that bad, Harry?"

"It’s your prophecy, Hermione. We have to take steps…"

"Steps yes, but what you’re talking about here… what you’re asking… no…telling people to do…"

"Hermione," Harry interrupted heatedly, "I don’t like this anymore that you do. But everyone, including you, is refusing to let me go hunt down Voldemort and kill him or die trying. Since that isn’t an option, then I need to do something, ANYTHING…"

Harry hung his head, the desperation written in the very fiber of his being. "I can’t sit idly by anymore. I have to do something. If I do nothing, I’ll be as bad as Voldemort," he said in a whisper.

Hermione moved forward in her chair so she could lean against him. She wrapped her arms around his neck and ran her fingers through his hair. "I know you have to do something. I just never expected it to be on such a grand scale," she murmured.

He looked into her eyes, searching them carefully. "You’re not angry with me? This is going to disrupt everything, Hermione. Your parent’s lives, school, all your plans..."

She stopped him by placing a finger against his lips. "Shhh… You’re not disrupting anything. You’re trying to save our lives, Harry. If anyone is disrupting things it’s Voldemort and Dumbledore, not you. As far as my plans go, as long as you’re with me, I figure we can plan as we go."

Harry smiled and pulled her from her seat into his lap.

Weasley’s Wizarding Wheezes, Diagon Alley…

Bill Weasley walked into his brother’s shop and headed for the back room. Fred spotted him and quickly turned the sign in the window to ‘Closed’ and locked the door before following Bill into the back.

George looked up from the cauldron he was working over when Bill and Fred came in.

"Oy Bill! What’s up?" asked George.

"I got an owl from Ginny today. It’s charmed so that it’ll only become visible if all three of us tap it with our wands," he replied.

Fred started laughing, "That’s our Gin-Gin. She’s even better with charms than I am."

Bill pulled out the parchment and unrolled it on a worktable. Looking at his brothers, he pulled his wand and waited for the others. With a single tap from each, writing appeared.

Hey you three!

I’ve had to resort to this method because some of what I have to say is going to be really bad. First off, brothers of mine, I want to say that I love each and every one of you. Our family is going to change very soon, and I’m not sure it’s for the better or not, but there is no stopping it.

If you haven’t heard by now, our dear brother Ronald has been charged with attempting to sexually assault Hermione. Yes it’s true, Mum and Dad are refusing to talk to me because I know about it.   I understand from Hermione that they have been fined nearly 50,000 galleons under the Virgo Vituperium laws.

"That bloody bastard! Who does he think he is?" shouted an outraged Bill.

Fred just shook his head in shock.

"Worse than Percy, he is," mumbled George.

Which leads to an interesting observation. If Dad is only pulling down 3,000 galleons per year and paying for two Hogwarts tuitions, where did they get 100,000 galleons? Are you three sitting down? I know where the money’s coming from and you’re not going to believe it! Dumbledore has been stealing it from Harry’s trust account vault since he was a year old. According to Harry, our parents started getting payments from Dumbledore the summer before Ron started at Hogwarts. Add to that a conversation I overheard this summer and it all adds up to the fact that our parents have been knowingly taking Harry’s money.

I wish to Merlin this wasn’t true. I cry myself to sleep at nights knowing what Mum and Dad have done to Harry. And Harry is deeply hurt by all this, but he trusts me, and he knows that Tonks has been in contact with you three so he trusts you as well.

Now I suppose I should tell you that I’ve charmed this parchment so that if you try to tell talk about this to anyone but each other before I see you and dispel the curse, certain parts of your anatomy will cease having any entertainment value. IN OTHER WORDS BOYS, KEEP QUIET ABOUT THIS.

Harry asks that you all consider visiting with him on Boxing Day. I will need your help to go along. Harry says he has plans he wants to share with all of you. Bill, Fred, George, we owe Harry. I owe him a debt I can never repay.

Right now I consider Harry more family than I do Ron. As much as I would have liked Harry to like me the way he likes Hermione, that’s not going to happen and it’s probably for the best. He is far too moody and temperamental for my tastes

We need to help him. He’s been like a brother to all of you for years now and we can’t turn our backs on him.   Ron and our parents have caused him more pain than those muggles he lived with because he trusted them. And our dear parents and that prat, Ron, have sullied our name enough.


All three men sat back and let out explosive breaths.

"Well, this is quite a mess we gotten ourselves mixed up in," muttered Bill as he raked his fingers through his hair.

"There’s no question in my mind," said Fred.

George nodded. "Oh, absolutely. I agree with you."

Bill eyed the two of them warily. "What are you two on about?"

"It’s simple, Bill. Harry’s…" Fred began.

"…Our brother and our investor," concluded George.

"So, what now?" asked Bill.

Fred shrugged. "I think that’s obvious."

"Oh quite, very obvious. First we spring Ginny…" quipped George.

"…From Mum and Dad and dear Ronald…" spat Fred.

"…And then we talk to Harry," concluded George.

Grimmauld Place…

Remus looked up from the kitchen table when the window popped open and Hedwig flew in. He was surprised to see the large owl wasn’t carrying a single letter, but a whole stack of them in her talons.

"Here Girl, let me take those for you," he said softly to the pleasant bird.

He removed the package of letters and started to thumb through them. Hedwig didn’t wait around. She sprang aloft and exited via the window. There were letters for each of the Grangers, there was a letter for him and Tonks, another for Amelia and Narcissa, even one for Danni, the healer.

Opening the letter addressed to him, he picked up his cup of tea and started to read. As he read, he started to laugh. The old Marauder could see the possibilities Harry was suggesting. This would be a feat worthy of the very best the Marauders were capable of. Something that required the daring of James, combined with the intellect of Lily.

Remus put the letters aside. The Grangers, Narcissa and Tonks would be able to read theirs later tonight at dinner. Amelia and Danni would have to be brought here so they could read the letters.

Remus left the kitchen shaking his head. Here he was, afraid Harry was going to bolt when he learned the ramifications of the new prophecy, and instead he was planning on pulling this stunt! Remus shook his head again, and then he headed for Diagon Alley.

He was going to need muggle money for this, a lot of it.

Guerrilla Warfare…

Harry and the Outcasts sat down for breakfast at what had quickly become their end of the table. In some ways, the past few months had altered all of them. Susan and Terry had grown closer, and Terry had become more assertive. Draco and Luna were still carefully maneuvering around each other, as were Ginny and Neville.

Harry sat back and thought about the last few weeks. Things had started heating up for the Outcasts. There’d been another attack on Luna, which Draco thwarted. Several shouting matches involving Ginny, Hermione and the Gryffindor girls had broke out in the common room and in the halls. There had been several more attempts to ambush Harry that had failed in rather dramatic fashions. In one instance, a group of seven Gryffindors had lain in wait for Harry inside an unused classroom. As Harry passed the classroom, the door was sealed and silenced. It was only two days later and after a school wide search that the missing students were found, hungry and very angry about being sealed in the room.

By mid December, just barely a week before the holiday break began, Harry found himself failing Potions, thanks to Professor Snape. And failing was just the least of his problems. Barely a class went by when Harry didn’t have to endure his attacks, verbal or mental.

Harry had shown admirable restraint thus far, but his patience was starting to wear very thin. Hermione tried to help him, but even when they had the same exact answers on a test, she would pass with an E and he’d get a D or T.

Hermione nudged Harry out of his reverie. He looked at her questioning.

"Where are you this morning, Harry? You seem to be a thousand miles from here," she said annoyed.

"I’m sorry, Hermione. I just got side tracked thinking about potions class," he replied.

She laid a hand on his arm in sympathy. "I know he’s being really unfair to you…"

"Unfair?" Harry snorted in amusement. "He’s deliberately failing me, Hermione, even when we have two essay’s that say the same thing, you get a good grade and I fail. I am ready to drop the class entirely at this point. Or I’m going to do something very nasty to him…," he concluded, scowling darkly.

Draco looked at the two then started shaking his head. Harry caught the movement. "What?" he asked in exasperation.

"You amaze me sometimes, Potter," Draco drawled. "You can be so Slytherin at times, then you get so caught up in what’s happening you become so…   so Gryffindor," Draco said with a sneer.

"Well? What do you suggest, Oh, Mighty Slytherin?" asked Harry with a smile.

"Simple, old boy. Keep all of the homework assignments, both yours and Hermione’s. When you have enough of them, send them to the Board, demanding an explanation of why nearly identical homework generates such a disparity in grades. In the meantime, you two," he said pointing at Harry and Hermione, "keep your noses clean and let the rest of us take care of Professor Snape."

Harry glanced at Hermione and she shrugged. "It makes sense, Harry. We collect evidence to present to the Board," she said quietly.

Harry nodded. "I don’t like it, but I’ll do it. I still feel the need to lash out at something though," he said angrily, then his expression changed and he smiled a slow, devious smile.

His eyes became unfocused for a moment, and then a shrill scream echoed throughout the castle. They all watched as Dumbledore hiked up his robes and ran from the Great Hall.

Hermione and Draco looked at him suspiciously. "Harry," she said, "what did you just do?"

Harry speared a slice of ham from the platter and dropped it onto his plate before he looked at her. "Me? Oh, nothing really. I just triggered one of the wards on the castle and locked the old fool out of his office for the rest of the day."

"Which ward did you trigger?" asked Draco, trying not to laugh.

Another scream echoed through the castle.

"The one that warns when dragons attack the castle," Harry replied, dishing up a spoonful of scrambled eggs and depositing it next to his ham.

All of the Outcasts stopped to stare at him.   He looked at them questioningly for a moment, ignoring the continuing screams echoing throughout the castle. When no one said anything, he shrugged, winked, and then turned back to his breakfast, suddenly famished.

Grimmauld Place, That Same Day…

Tonks appeared in the main foyer of Grimmauld Place with Danni and Amelia Bones. Since Grimmauld was under a Fidelis charm, the only way to bring anyone in without revealing its location was via portkey.

Tonks led Amelia into the kitchen. It was the first time the Director had visited Harry’s London safe house. Remus Lupin looked up from the table where he had several parchments and books spread out in front of him. He motioned for the three women to sit.

"Amelia, Danni I know you’re wondering why we asked you to come today. I’m working from instructions from Harry so please, both of you, bear with me as I have to take this step by step," Remus said.

Danni looked curious. Amelia looked intrigued as she motioned for Remus to continue.

"What do you know about the Hall of Prophecies, Amelia?" asked Remus quietly.

Amelia blinked in surprise. "It’s part of the Department of Mysteries. It’s where the Ministry keeps all of the prophecies on record. Wait a second, Harry went there at the end of the last term."

Remus nodded. "That’s right, he did. He was tricked into going there by Voldemort, who wanted a prophecy that involved Harry and himself. That particular copy was destroyed before Voldemort could hear it, but its message has not been lost. We’re getting off topic here, however. I’m more interested in your opinion on prophecies in general."

"According to the records I’ve seen, few prophecies have proven to be false. Based on that, I’d have to say I believe in them," Amelia stated firmly.

A moment later, Danni nodded in agreement.

"I thought you might say that, and so did Harry. Hold onto your hats, ladies. I’m about to reveal to you a new prophecy. Harry and a few others, including your niece and her boyfriend, witnessed it. Harry sent me a copy of it and his interpretation. Let me read this to you, then you can think about it before we talk about what it means.


Amelia and Danni sat at the table for a long moment. Danni had a confused look on her face, but Amelia didn’t. She reached for a cup of tea with a trembling hand, spilling the contents.

"I take it from your reaction that you have some inkling what this means, Amelia?" Remus asked quietly.

Still trembling she nodded. Remus turned to Danni and arched an eyebrow in question.

Danni shrugged. "Honestly, I failed Divination and never could make sense out of that stuff."

"It’s simple, Danni," began Amelia. "Correct me if I’m wrong, Mr. Lupin, but it means Voldemort will conquer Britain and very soon, within a year for certain. It also refers to a chosen child, a defender who must sit and watch it happen. Not just from another place, but another country? I’m not sure I understand that part of it. Am I right so far, Mr. Lupin?" asked Amelia.

"Very close, Amelia. The only piece of information you seem to be missing is who the chosen child is," murmured Remus.

"You know who the child is, Mr. Lupin?" asked Amelia breathlessly.

"Director, you know him. It’s Harry," Tonks said softly.

"Harry!?" exclaimed Amelia. She sat back, her expression shocked and stared off into the distance for a moment.   Then, frowning, she pursed her lips together, thinking. "It makes sense, considering all the problems he’s had. But if this is the case, he’s in more danger than I had anticipated. My immediate impulse is to pull him and his friends out of Hogwarts, but I’m sure you and Harry have other plans," she said, watching Remus closely.

"Harry’s given me fairly complete instructions, Director, and I have a letter from him, addressed to you. Harry asked me to explain to you the new prophecy and to then ask you a simple question. If you say yes, I’m to give your letter. Actually, the question applied to both of you," explained Remus seriously, looking between the two women.

Danni leaned forward. She had recovered from her sense of shock, but she was frightened, visibly so. "What question?" she asked in a tremulous voice.

"Harry intends to save as many people and as much of our world as he can and he wants to know if you both want to be part of those saved? If so, I have letters for both of you, which outline your role in Harry’s plan. He guarantees you and your families a safe haven away from the danger. In return, he asks for your help."

Amelia raised an eyebrow. "Remus, let’s be reasonable. We’re talking about a sixteen-year-old boy here. How can he possibly…"

Tonks overrode her forcefully. "Yes, he’s a sixteen year old man, Director, who just happened to undergo a three hundred and sixty hour long Matura Magicus!"

Danni paled and sagged in her chair, while Amelia rocked backwards as if she had been struck. She looked to Remus, who nodded, confirming Tonks’ statement.

"He’s also one of the richest wizards in the world, Amelia. And he’s already spending the money to make this work. This past week alone I’ve spent nearly 45 million pounds on this plan," he added quietly.

Danni shook her head, murmuring about such a lengthy Matura.

Amelia face cycled through shock, disbelief, doubt and finally, a steady, firm expression.   Her eyes hardened and she straightened in her chair. "Count me in," she said quietly.

Danni nodded mutely in agreement.

Smiling, Remus slid the letters from Harry across the table to Amelia and Danni. The two women ripped them open.

"Merlin," Amelia said, shaking her head in amazement. Then she looked up at Remus. "He isn’t asking for much, is he?" she said with a hint of sarcasm.

Remus chuckled. "I know what you mean, but look at it from my point of view. I’ve been spending his money like water. He isn’t kidding, and he knows exactly how much danger he’s in."

Head Suites, Gryffindor Tower, Later That Night…

Hermione entered her bedroom having just returned from dinner.   Harry hadn’t been in the Great Hall and she wondered where he was.

She stopped in surprise when she noticed her bed pulled away from the wall. The hole it left behind was dark and foreboding and just looking at it made her uneasy. A quick check of Harry’s room showed he had been there. His books and his school robe were tossed on the bed.

He must have decided to explore the passage, she thought. Swallowing nervously, she steeled her nerve and pulled out her wand.

"Lumos," she said and her wand flared with a bright beam of light. Holding her wand before her, she entered the dark, dank passage.

The walls of the passage were slick with moisture and lichen and there was a faintly unpleasant smell coming up the passageway. She could see that someone that recently passed through as the dust, cobwebs and spider webs had all clearly been disturbed.

The passage opened up abruptly into a large empty room with two exits. From her position she could see one passageway sloping upwards and the other sloping down. From the passage going up she could make out a faint light in the distance and heard the sound of someone whistling, badly.

She smiled. Harry couldn’t whistle to save his life, but that didn’t stop him from trying, especially when he was preoccupied with a puzzle. The light bobbed closer. He was coming down the passage so she decided she’d wait for him.

Three minutes later Harry emerged from the passageway and spotted Hermione. He gave her a very disarming grin and she growled to herself for a moment, reining in the wave of desire that flashed through her. His mannerisms of late had been wreaking havoc with her body and, intellectual that she was, she resented being controlled by her raging hormones.

Then she noticed he wasn’t using the standard light spell and frowned, trying to figure it out. Over his shoulder shimmered a bright ball of light, nearly white with just a touch of blue to it.

"What spell is that, Harry? It looks useful." she asked quietly. Even with his calming presence in the chamber there was still an element of unease.

"This? This is Lumos Flotima. Unlike the standard light spell, it doesn’t tie up your wand to generate the light. The downside is, you end up with this ball of light instead of a beam, but it’s not really a problem."

He showed her the wand movement and, a moment later, Hermione had a bright pinkish tinged light sitting over her shoulder. She smiled in gratitude for the new spell and motioned to the passageway heading upwards.

"Where does that lead?"

"It branches off about a hundred yards in. One passage ends in what appears to be a tower room similar to the Owlery, but it looks like it hasn’t been used in centuries. The other branch ends up in a room, which, near as I can tell, is right behind the restricted section of the library. It appears to be an old storage room, and it’s still loaded with books, so I expect you’ll be interested in it," he said, grinning.

Hermione grinned back and motioned to the other passageway, the one heading down. "What about that one? Have you explored it yet?"

Harry looked at the passage for a long moment. The faintly unpleasant smell seemed to be coming from that passageway. He frowned. The smell was vaguely familiar but he couldn’t place it.

"No, I haven’t gone down that way yet. Do you want to see where it goes with me?"

Hermione nodded eagerly. She felt much more comfortable now that Harry was here.

Harry led her down the second passageway, breaking through the spider webs for her. She shivered every time one of the webs brushed against her.

"I don’t know how you can take it Harry!" she exclaimed.

Harry glanced over his shoulder to see her shivering from another web. He smiled apologetically at her. "Sorry, Hermione. I didn’t realize they bothered you. Spiders don’t bother me. There were a lot of them in my cupboard," he said softly.

With a shrug, he cast a spell that erected a bright translucent orange tinted wall about a foot in front of him. The spell covered the passageway entirely from wall to wall, ceiling to floor. As he walked, the spell stayed a foot in front of him at all times, cleansing the walls of cobwebs and spiders as he walked.

Thirty minutes of steady, downhill walking brought them to a low opening with a grate covering it. Bending down, Harry peered through the grate. Then he surprised Hermione by pushing it open. The ancient metal barred door squealed in protest, the sound echoing eerily in the chamber beyond. Harry ducked down and climbed through the opening.

He held the grate open for Hermione to crawl through. Her first impression was one of overwhelming disgust because of the smell. Harry cast a bubblehead charm on both of them, filtering the smell out.

Once she was able to breath without gagging, she looked around in curiosity. They’d come out into a large chamber. In the darkness she could only see a few feet. Even the combination of their light orbs failed to illuminate the chamber.

"I recognize this place," Harry growled. "I hoped never to see it again."

"LIGHTS!" Harry yelled in Parseltongue.

Hermione looked at him curiously then gasped as the torches around the room flared to life, revealing a huge chamber with a row of snake statues lining the center of the room. At the far end was an enormous carving of a snake. In front of the carving lay the rotting skeleton of a basilisk.

"Harry? Is this the…"

"Chamber of Secrets, yes," Harry said softly, his eyes unfocused, but fixed on the corpse at the far end of the chamber.

Hermione moved out between two snake statues and into the central corridor formed by all of the statues. She stopped and stared at the huge, rotting skeleton. From nose to tail tip it seemed to be at least sixty feet long with the head easily eight feet tall. Harry joined her a minute later.

"You… how… how did you manage to fight that when you were twelve?" she exclaimed in awe.

"Badly, very badly. I killed it, but it killed me, or would have, had it not been for Fawkes, the Headmaster’s phoenix. I stabbed it through the soft palate of its mouth and it bit me, breaking off a fang full of poison in my arm.

"Ginny lay over there," he said quietly, pointing to a spot on the floor. "And Riddle stood gloating over her lifeless body and my imminent death. It took all of my strength to wrench that fang out of my arm and use it to kill him. It was a time when I still believed in Dumbledore."

Hermione watched his face carefully. It had been one adventure she had missed entirely, she had been petrified and up in the infirmary at the time. Harry’s face winced a few times in remembrance of long forgotten pain. She reached up and touched his cheek and he blinked in surprise for a moment, and then looked down at her.

"You alright, Harry?" she asked softly.

Harry nodded. "Yeah Hermione, I’m fine… this just brings back some unpleasant memories."

"I think we should head back to our rooms. Perhaps another day we can return and harvest some parts of the Basilisk. There are a number of very rare potion ingredients in a Basilisk body," she told him.

Harry chuckled and led her back to the grated entrance to the chamber. The walk back up to their quarters was more tiring than the walk down. By the time they exited into Hermione’s bedroom, Harry was mumbling about bringing his broom with him the next time they went down.

Hermione giggled, while Harry headed to the private bath they shared. There, he peeled out of his clothes and slipped into a steaming hot tub with a sigh of relief.

The return trip had caused his leg to ache badly. Frowning, he reached into the water and started to massage his leg. In the past few weeks it had shown no further improvements and it was something that really worried him. He could go most of the day without needing the cane, but he couldn’t run for long, or properly, and if he stressed the leg too much, it ached for hours afterwards. As much as he hated to resort to doing it, he’d have to go see Madam Pomfrey tomorrow and have her take a look at it.

Harry closed his eyes and tried stretching his leg out as far as possible. After several minutes of trying, he gave up, gasping from the pain. Frustrated, he climbed out of the tub and wrapped a towel around his waist, then walked out of the bathroom heading into his room.

Hermione spotted him coming out of the bath and frowned, noticing he was using the cane again. She decided she’d talk to Harry about it in the morning.

The Astronomy Tower…

Draco Malfoy, former pampered pureblood prince and heir apparent to the Malfoy family paced nervously atop the Astronomy Tower. His late night astronomy class has been dismissed nearly an hour ago and he had yet to leave the tower.

He was an intelligent man, but not a patient one and he hated puzzles with a passion…until he met a pretty blond puzzle by the name of Luna Lovegood, anyway.

To say that she confused him was an understatement. She seemed so stupid at times and out of touch with reality. Then she’s say something so profound that he was sure her vague/dreamy/loony mannerisms were an act.

And if that wasn’t enough, she haunted him. For some reason he felt compelled to watch over her, make sure she was safe. It had to be an illness! I can’t actually be falling for Luna can I? He mused. No, it’s simply not possible, I was raised to look for a better partner. Then he snorted. If I were honest with myself, I was raised to be a Death Eater, so who am I kidding?

Draco swore viciously and nearly kicked one of the stone benches in frustration.

"Draco," came a familiar and very enticing voice.

He spun around so fast that he lost his balance and fell atop one of the benches used during classes. In an instant she was by his side, helping him to his feet.

"Would you like to talk about it, Draco?" asked Luna softly.

Draco stood and brushed himself off. "Talk about what? There’s nothing to talk about."

"Oh," she said. For a brief moment her eyes shone with the hurt his refusal to talk caused her, then they became vague once more. "You best get back to your house then. Curfew is nearly on us."

Luna turned and started to walk to the tower entrance when Draco grabbed her by the arm, pulling her around to face him.   "What are you doing to me, Luna? You haunt me…" he said softly, staring into her eyes.

"You haven’t learned yet, but you’re getting closer.   This," she said, touching his forehead, "has yet to learn to talk to this," she continued, placing a hand over his heart.

Draco closed his eyes at her touch. His arms trembled with the need to reach out for her, but she stepped away from him and turned again to leave the tower.

"Luna," he said in a hoarse whisper.

"Hmmm?" She paused in the doorway and looked back at him.

"Can… May I have the honor of escorting you to the Yule Ball?" he asked hesitantly.

"I’d like that very much Draco," she replied with a small smile. When she turned away once more, her smile became a grin. Gotcha, she thought.

Hogwarts Infirmary, the Next Morning…

Harry limped into the infirmary. He’d told Hermione to cover for him in Transfiguration and he’d try to get there as soon as possible. He didn’t want her to worry, so he didn’t tell her why he was skiving off class.

Madam Pomfrey looked up from her desk at the sound of the doors to the infirmary opening. She was surprised to Harry Potter walking in under his own power and, for once, not covered in blood. She noted that he was not using his cane, but his gait was still stiff.

Stepping out from behind her desk, she walked towards him. "Well Mr. Potter, I’m surprised to see you coming in here on purpose. Now then, what seems to be the problem?" she asked gruffly.

"It’s the leg, Madam Pomfrey. It was getting better, but I think it’s gotten about as good as it’ll get," he said with a sigh.

"Not getting any better, eh? Well, up on the table, Mr. Potter. Let’s get a look at it."

Harry walked over to her examining table and climbed on it. For the next twenty minutes Madam Pomfrey ran a series of painful tests on his leg. When she finally finished, he was panting from the pain. She gave him a small pain-relieving potion and then helped him off the table. When his feet hit the floor, he was forced to pull out his cane and expand it to normal size.

"I think you may be correct, Mr. Potter. Your leg is showing an impairment of twenty-five percent and I’m not sure it will improve. If you were going home for the holiday I would suggest seeing Healer Sorenson at St. Mungos. He’s very good with helping people recover from serious injuries," she stated in a matter of fact tone.

Harry blinked in surprise. "But I am going home for the holiday, Madam Pomfrey."

"Really? The Headmaster said you would be remaining in the castle."

"Did he now?" replied Harry in a glacial tone, his eyes narrowing. "Thank you, Madam Pomfrey. I’ll make an appointment to see that healer over the holiday."

Madam Pomfrey handed Harry a slip, excusing his lateness from class and sent him limping out of the infirmary.

A short while later, Harry limped into Transfiguration class. Both McGonagall and Hermione noticed the use of the cane so early in the day.

Harry crossed over to McGonagall’s desk and handed her the note from Madam Pomfrey.

After class, McGonagall made Harry and Hermione stay late.

"Mr. Potter, would you kindly explain to me why you went to Madam Pomfrey’s of your own accord?" asked McGonagall sternly.

Harry glance at Hermione, who was looking at him curiously. He was beginning to think that keeping this from her might have been a mistake.

"I wanted to see Madam Pomfrey about my leg, Professor. For the past few weeks there’s been no improvement in it," he said, then he noticed Hermione’s frown.

"Yes Hermione," he said tiredly, "I know I said it was getting better. But I’m afraid I’ve been trying to deny the truth to you and myself. Madam Pomfrey says I have a twenty five percent loss of function, and it will always cause me pain if I overexert it. I may not be a cripple, but I’ll never enter the Olympics," he concluded, staring down at his right leg as if it were a friend that had betrayed him.

"It could be worse, Mr. Potter," McGonagall said gently.

"I understand that, Professor. I guess I’m just disappointed. I had hoped it would heal better than this."

"Things will get better, Harry. You wait and see," Hermione said fervently.

The Yule Ball…

Harry sat in his room examining his wardrobe. He’d spent most of his time after dinner handing out special little Yule gifts to the people he wanted to come to Grimmauld Place over the Holiday. The gifts, disguised as jewelry, were really timed portkeys charmed to activate at exactly 10 A.M. on Boxing Day.

After taking a shower, he carefully dressed in his Potter family robe. The royal blue robe shimmered in the torch light as he dressed. Similar to his Black family robes, the Potter robes were emblazoned with his family crest, as well as his rank marking, indicating his status as Lord of one of the great wizarding families.

Placing his Celtic cross earring in his ear, he checked himself out in the mirror. His hair was more manageable, but still not quite long enough to tie off. He shrugged. He was ready to go meet with his date. He grabbed his cane and shrunk it down. Then picked up the gift he’d had Remus pick up for him.

He paced nervously in their little common room, waiting for Hermione to finish dressing. A noise from the staircase caused him to look up to see Ginny and Neville walk in. Harry let out a low whistle and nudged Neville. Ginny blushed at his reaction.

Neville raised an eyebrow at Harry after giving him an approving nod for his outfit. "Still no Hermione, eh?" Neville asked with a grin.

"You know women. It takes them three hours to do what we do in one. How long does it take to shower and throw on some clothes?" Harry replied, grinning back.

"I heard that, Potter," came a steely voice.

Harry spun around to see Hermione standing in the doorway of her bedroom. She wore a stunning white and blue robe. He quickly walked over to her.

"You look almost perfect, Hermione," he murmured to her breathlessly.

"Almost perfect? You know, Harry, you’re not winning any points here tonight. First you make a comment about women taking too long to get dressed, then you give me a backhanded compliment," she told him.

"Well you need this… to round out your outfit," he said, handing her a small box.

Hermione took the box he offered and eyed him suspiciously. Ginny walked over to her side and nudged her. "Go on, open it! I want to see too!"

She opened the box to see what looked like an enormous snowflake attached to a delicate silver chain.

Ginny’s eyes widened. "Hermione! That’s an enchanted snowflake! They last forever. And because it’s made from Yule snow, it’ll always take on the color of the outfit you’re wearing. If you wear it long enough, it’ll also start to echo your emotions in color. They’re hard to come by."

Harry pulled the necklace out of the box and opened the chain. Hermione turned away from him and lifted her hair. He placed the chain around her neck and closed the clasp "Now you’re beyond perfect," he whispered

Hermione turned around and looked at him, her heart in her eyes as she blushed. Harry linked his arm with hers and escorted her from the suite with Neville and Ginny close behind them.

The four Outcasts met up with the others just outside of the entrance to the Great Hall. Draco had opted for stately black robes. Luna, on the other hand, had decided that this year neon pink and purple were attractive colors. Harry liked Luna, but her robes gave him a headache. Surprisingly, Draco didn’t seem to have any problem with her outfit, and Luna positively glowed over the attention he was paying to her.

As a group they entered the Great Hall, they stopped to admire the work of Professor Flitwick, who had turned the enlarged hall into a winter wonderland. Decorated trees lined the sides of the hall and, between each tree, were snowmen. Up near the Head table was a raised stage for the band. The ceiling and walls depicted a scene of a snow covered meadow with a cloudless winter sky. Harry had to admire the mastery of charm work that Flitwick had pulled off. One couldn’t help but shiver from the implied cold, even though the hall was comfortable.

The Outcasts made their way to an empty table and took seats. As they sat, food and drinks appeared. Harry watched with amusement as the other girls admired Hermione’s snowflake. Looking up at the Head table, he saw all of the teachers watching Dumbledore, who was watching the hall itself.

Once the hall had filling up, Dumbledore stood to speak and all eyes turned to him. There was a scattering of applause for the Headmaster that swelled until most students were clapping. The notable exceptions being Harry and his friends, and most of Slytherin.

"Yes. Yes. Thank you one and all. Tonight, for your entertainment, we bring you a new band called the Moaning Monsters. We’ve also opened up the rose garden for your enjoyment. It can be reached by taking the door to the right of the stage. As this is only our second Yule Ball, I’d like you all to know that the Board of Governors is seriously considering making this an annual event. Now, I won’t bore you any longer. Let the ball begin!" exclaimed Dumbledore.

With that final proclamation, every tree in the hall lit up and the overhead candles were doused. The only light now came from the stage where the band was setting up, the Christmas lights on the trees and the moon overhead.

As the music began to play every girl at the table had the same wistful expression on her face and every boy had the same expression of terror. Harry took one look and started laughing, earning him a number of scowls from his table.

Harry stood and bowed regally to Hermione, offering her a hand. "May I have the honor of this dance, milady?" he asked formally. Hermione blushed, stood up and took his hand. As he escorted her towards the center of the dance floor, he called to Neville over his shoulder. "Gryffindor’s forward, Nev!"

Neville started at Harry’s call and turned to look at Ginny. He had to admit that Ginny looked beautiful. He was almost afraid to touch her. Mustering his courage, he asked her if she’d like to dance. When she smiled and nodded, Neville copied Harry’s actions. He stood, bowed to her, and then offered her a hand, which she happily took. A moment later, both Terry and Draco were doing the same thing.

Hermione tried to steer Harry back to the table as the music changed to a faster pace. He cocked his head looking at her curiously.

"I thought I was supposed to be leading here. Why are you steering us back to our table?" he asked, smiling.

"Your leg, Harry. I would have thought that would be obvious, even to you. If you dance the faster songs, you’ll pay for it later tonight," she replied, exasperated with his attitude.

He didn’t reply. He just pulled her into a tight embrace and continued dancing. Hermione sighed in his arms and mentally cursed his stubbornness. Then she deliberately slowed their movements. If anyone noticed the couple dancing out of step with the music, no one said a word.

The music shifted to a slow song and Neville pulled Ginny close to him. She rested her head against his chest. For Neville, it was a moment of epiphany. He leaned down and whispered; "I think I’m falling in love with you, Miss Weasley…"

Ginny whipped her head off his chest and stared up into his smiling face. A slow blush crept up her face. She reached up with one hand to caress Neville’s cheek, but was suddenly pulled roughly away from him and sent sprawling to the floor.

Ginny looked up, outraged, to see Dean and Seamus holding Neville by his arms. Ron, still dressed in his work clothes and reeking from what ever he had been cleaning, advanced on Neville.

"Keep your filthy Slytherin loving hands off my sister," he growled.

Dean and Seamus suddenly let go of Neville and, screaming, grabbed at their crotches. Neville staggered backwards when they released him. Harry helped steady him, while Hermione went to help Ginny.

Seamus and Dean collapsed on the floor from a spell fired by both Harry and Draco. Surprisingly, they both chose the same target areas.

Ginny stood next to Hermione, her wand out. Around the group a tight crowd formed, keeping the teachers from entering the circle that had opened up. Neville spotted Ginny’s wand and shook his head at her.

"This is my fight, Gin," he said flatly.

Ginny’s eyes flared in anger for a moment, then she looked down at her feet.

Ron’s nostrils flared and he lunged for Neville. Neville sidestepped him and stuck out his foot, causing Ron to fall and skid along the floor.

Harry moved over to Hermione’s side and spotted Snape and Dumbledore trying to push their way through the crowd. Under his breath he whispered a spell. Both men paused in consternation then turned around and rushed for the nearest exit. Over the excited exclamations of the students, rude bodily sounds could be heard coming from the two fleeing men.

Hermione watched them running from the hall and then looked at Harry curiously.

"Bowel Loosening spell," he murmured. She looked shocked for a moment then started to giggle.

Meanwhile, Neville kept up a dance around Ron. No matter how hard Ron tried to hit him, he missed and usually end up falling to the floor. Neville never once tried to purposely hit Ron but, as it stood, Ron was doing enough damage to himself. Hitting him wasn’t necessary.

Ron slowly climbed to his feet again. As he turned to face Neville once more, his eyes crossed as he stared down the end of Neville’s wand.

"Go away, Ron. You and I used to be friends, but no longer. You’ve turned into an arrogant bloody idiot who wouldn’t know a right idea if he tripped over it. Go back to kissing Snape’s arse and leave me and Ginny alone or, so help me, I’ll make you regret you ever tangled with a Longbottom!" Neville said, his voice like steel.

The crowd surrounding the fight stepped back in surprise hearing Neville’s words, allowing just enough room for some of the teachers to break into the circle. McGonagall grabbed Ron by the scruff of his neck and dragged him from the circle, while Flitwick told two students to take Dean and Seamus up to the infirmary.

With the fight officially over, Ginny hurled herself into Neville’s embrace. Harry exchanged a grin with Hermione. He turned to see Terry and Susan smiling. Then he frowned. Draco and Luna were no where to be seen.

Draco and Luna Get Cozy…

Once Dean and Seamus were down, Draco grabbed Luna’s wrist and pulled her away from the group.   Weaving his way through the crowd, he led her to the door to the rose garden and stepped out. The garden was enchanted to keep it warm and blooming all year and the scents of summer were strong.

Walking quickly, but mindful of her high heels, he pulled her down one of the rows until he reached a small stone courtyard. A fountain bubbled merrily nearby and benches were set back enough from the main court to offer a bit of privacy for those who wished such things.

Draco stopped near the fountain and turned to face Luna.   Her expression was a mixture of pleasure and puzzlement. She watched him closely, obviously waiting for an explanation.   He fidgeted nervously for a moment, unsure how to begin.   She was so different from the other girls he’d dated and he didn’t want to do anything to…he wasn’t sure.   Maybe offend her?   Annoy her?   Hurt her, he thought suddenly.   I don’t want to hurt her.

"You won’t, you know," Luna said softly.

"Won’t what?" he asked, a bit startled that she’d spoken.

"Hurt me," she replied.

"How did you know what I was thinking?" he asked in bewilderment.

"The look in your eyes, the expression on your face, your posture.   Your thoughts are obvious to anyone who watches closely enough," she whispered, moving closer to him.   "You won’t hurt me, Draco.   I’m stronger than you think."

"Luna," he said softly, taking the last few steps to close the distance between them.   "I don’t want to make any mistakes with you.   The type of women I’ve dated in the past were…well, you know what Pansy’s like," he muttered in disgust.

She shrugged. "We all make mistakes, Draco.   They’re unavoidable."

"I know it, it’s just…" he trailed off.   He looked into her eyes, saw the excitement dancing behind them and nearly groaned.   Reaching out, he brushed the backs of his fingers against her cheek, much like she’d done to him.   When she leaned into his touch, he did groan.  

Bending down, he touched his lips to hers lightly.   When she didn’t pull way, he wrapped one arm around her waist and repeated the caress. Raising his head, he gazed down at her, waiting.

Luna opened her eyes and met his gaze.   She brushed a finger across his lips.   "Don’t stop," she whispered.   When he bent down once more, she closed her eyes in anticipation.   She knew this would happen and, while she hadn’t expected it so soon, she certainly wasn’t going to stop him.

The next instant, she was spinning away and it took her a moment to realize that Draco’s lips on hers hadn’t caused her sense of vertigo. Her eyes flew open at the same moment she heard Draco’s grunt of pain and she watched him fall to the stones of the courtyard, doubled over, with a large, heavy young man standing over him, his hands fisted.

When Luna took a step forward, intent on going to Draco, arms snaked out from behind her and pulled her way.

"I don’t think so," a deep, thick voice said behind her. Hands delved into her pockets and came up empty.   "She doesn’t have her wand.   Perfect."

Her eyes narrowed and she wondered why Crabbe and Goyle had followed them to the garden.   Draco’s former bodyguards, they’d turned against the blond once it had become clear to some in Slytherin House that he’d refused the Mark and had fled Malfoy Manor to escape the Dark Lord.

"I told you to wait," Crabbe growled.   "Nott will be here with the portkey any minute!"

"Why wait?" Goyle asked, pocketing Draco’s wand. "We can have a little fun before we deliver him to Mr. Malfoy and the Dark Lord."

"The Dark Lord?" Luna asked vaguely. "But Draco doesn’t want to take the Mark."

"Shut up," Goyle growled, bending over and dragging Draco to his feet. "What would a little trumpet like you know about it anyway?" He twisted Draco’s arm up behind his back and grinned when the blonde man sucked in his breath sharply from the pain.

"Trumpet?" she asked in puzzlement, relaxing in Crabbe’s arms and waiting.

"Yeah, you know, a trumpet," Goyle said, looking at her and frowning.   "A slut, a whore… a trumpet!"

Luna’s eyes widened in disbelief for a moment before she started to chuckle.   She was quite at first, but as the situation sank in, she couldn’t help herself.   The chuckles became giggles, which became full-throated laughter.

Draco watched her for a moment, and then shook his head.   "You mean ‘strumpet’, you walking pile of Tatampur shit!"

"Actually, they don’t leave it in piles," Luna started to inform him.

"Not now, Luna," he said gently.

"Oh, right.   Well, are we almost done here then?" she asked.

"We’ve just started," Crabbe growled, tightening his arms.   "Draco’s disarmed and you don’t have your wand.   As soon as Nott gets here, we’ll be leaving."

"You know, you’re both being rude.   Draco was just about to kiss me again when you interrupted.   If you don’t mind, I’d rather he pick up where he left off," Luna said, a scowl starting to form on her face.

"You’re daft," Goyle said.   "We’re not letting you go.   We got plans…"

"Shall we go, Draco?" she asked, interrupted the slow-witted lump of a man.

Draco narrowed his eyes and watched the girl carefully.   He knew that Crabbe and Goyle could hurt her without meaning too.   But Nott would do it purposely and deliberately, just to hear her scream.   They needed to escape before he arrived.

"Whenever you are," he said finally.

Her smile was like the sun, bright and full of joy.   Moving quickly, she raised one foot and brought the heel of her shoe down hard onto the top of Crabbe’s foot.   The man cried out in pain.   His arms released her and he bend town to grab his foot.   When he did, Luna spun around and brought her knee up as hard as she could.   When it slammed into the man’s face, there was a loud, horrid crunching sound as something broke.  

Crabbe jerked upright, his cries of pain becoming howls of agony.   When he raised his hand to his face, she grabbed his shoulders for leverage and drove her knee into his groin.   His howls stopped, his face drained of color and he dropped like a rock to his knees.

Luna spun quickly and stopped, amazed.   Goyle stood, his arm twisted behind his back, while Draco stood behind him watching as she demolished Crabbe.

"Nice work," he complimented, grinning.

She shrugged rather carelessly.   "I’ve been watching Ginny," she said, reaching up to her hair.   She pulled out the stick she’d used to hold her hairstyle together and her blond tresses tumbled down. She then flipped the piece of wood around, palming it and Draco finally realized that it was her wand.

"Clever girl," he said admiringly.

"I needed something to hold my hair up. Besides, it wouldn’t have looked right behind my ear…not with these robes," she said impishly.

Laughing, Draco tossed Goyle’s wand to her.   She caught it, then turned and disarmed Crabbe.   She stepped back and threw both student’s wands out into the garden as Draco bound and gagged both men and, levitating them, moved them deeper into the foliage.

When he came back, he brushed his fingers across her cheek again.   "Come, we need to leave before Nott shows up. And thank you, Luna," he murmured, brushing a kiss across her forehead.

She sighed in disappointment, but nodded her understanding. "You can pay me back with a dance," she said.


When he took her hand, she tightened her grip and let him lead her back into the Great Hall. The noise hit them as they stepped through the door and they both cringed slightly.   Moving deeper into the hall, it wasn’t long before they ran into a member of the Outcasts.

"Are you two all right?" Hermione asked, taking in their disheveled appearances.

Draco’s robe was twisted, a few buttons were missing, it was horribly wrinkled, and he had dirt ground in around his knees. Luna’s hair was a tangled mess and her own robes were wrinkled.   Both, however, were smiling.

"We’re fine," Draco began.   "We ran into a little…"

Luna placed a finger over his lips to quiet him.   She then smiled at Hermione, her eyes dancing.   "We’re fine, thank you.   If you’ll excuse us, Mr. Malfoy owes me a dance," she said firmly.

When she led Draco out onto the floor, Hermione watched them for a moment before shaking her head.   Odd couple they may be, but somehow it seemed right.   With a sigh, she turned and plunged back into the crowd to find Harry.

Breakfast, the Next Morning…

Harry was just starting to fill his breakfast plate when Professor McGonagall interrupted him.

"Mr. Potter, the Headmaster is concerned over your poor potions grade. He would like you to see Professor Snape before you leave today. Professor Snape has created some extra credit holiday homework for you."

Harry sighed in resignation and nodded to his Professor. He grabbed a quick drink of his morning tea and left the Great Hall for the dungeons. He wanted to get this over with and get back to the Hall before Hermione showed up. In a little over two hours they’d be boarding the Hogwarts Express for the trip home.

Harry had just entered the dungeons proper when he was staggered by a wave of dizziness. The corridor tilted sideways and the floor rushed up to meet him as the darkness closed in.

Hogsmeade Train Station…

Hermione was worried. She had waited for Harry in the Entrance Hall until there was just one carriage left. No one had seen him since breakfast. Finally she climbed into the remaining carriage and rode down to the train station hoping to find him there.

Arriving at the station she started her search. Wherever Harry was, he was in good health. Her charm hadn’t activated. Neville and Ginny approached her after looking in some of the forward train cars. Neville shook his head at her hopeful look.

Hermione had a tough decision to make. She could board the train, scheduled to leave in a few minutes, or she could apparate directly to Grimmauld Place. Once the train started moving, she would be unable to apparate from it. And if Harry was not in one of the few un-searched cars, she would be stuck for several hours, unable to alert anyone to his disappearance.

I can’t sound an alarm until I’m sure he’s missing, she agonized to herself. Gritting her teeth over her limited options, she climbed aboard the Express as the train started to lurch out of the station.

In the Darkness…

Harry groaned and rolled over. He started awake from the feel of the cold, wet stone below him. Sitting up, his first impression was of darkness. It was total. His second impression was one of nausea. His stomach roiled heavily and he fought against the urge to vomit. Shuddering, he took shallow breaths until the feeling passed.

He reached for his wand, but it and the holster were missing. Suddenly a soft light appeared above him. The light appeared as a small slot was opened in a door. From that little light he could see he was in a dank room about fifteen feet below the door. Obviously someone had tossed him into the cell after he had passed out. Carefully he raised his head to look at the opening.

A face appeared. Professor Snape sneered at Harry, looking down at his seated form in disgust. "It has been decided you are not to be allowed to leave the castle this holiday, Potter. If you are a good boy, I may even let you come out in a day or two," he said with a low laugh.

Then the door slammed shut again, leaving him in darkness.

Harry sat for a moment. He would have to give Snape some time to leave the area before he could do anything. With a heavy sigh, he began a ritual he had started a long time ago. Harry called it the ‘Harry Test’. Slowly, he flexed fingers, toes, arms and legs. His leg was painful and from the other sore spots he guessed he had been pushed from the door above his head.

With no discernable light in the cell, he had no way of judging the passage of time. He pushed out with his senses and he could feel the magic of the castle around him, but was unable to detect anyone nearby.

Standing, he groped in his pockets, but they had been emptied of everything, including his cane. He leaned against the wall, and then concentrated for a moment. From his cell he was unable to locate the signature of his wand. Expanding his consciousness out further, he searched the castle for Hermione but was unable to locate her. He could only hope she had left the castle with the rest of the students.

Harry grimaced for a moment, then vanished from the cell without a sound. A second later he was sitting on his bed in the Head Boy’s suite. Harry cast a pain relief charm on himself that would last a few hours. He knew he’d paid for it later, but for now he needed to be unfettered by pain. A wall clock revealed that he had been locked in the cell for nearly six hours. By now, the Express was either just arriving or unloading.

Harry rummaged through his trunk looking for a specific set of robes. He had warned Dumbledore. Now it time to stop warning and start pushing back.

Donning his Black Family formal robes, Harry girded himself for the confrontation. He carried his concealment cloak draped over his arm. Then he grabbed an old textbook and transfigured it into an elegant walking stick.

Exiting the Head suites, he placed the entire suite under a Fidelis charm. Then he limped from the common room, his anger growing with every step. As he approached the Entrance Hall, he could sense the presence of  two people. Dumbledore and Professor Snape.

The two were staring out into the courtyard and talking quietly as Harry moved silently up behind them.

"I’ve taken care of our little problem, Headmaster. I daresay things will start looking better in a few days," Snape said smugly

"Right, Snivellus. The only problem you need to worry about is whether I decide to let you live or not," Harry said.

Both men whirled to face him.

Harry raised a hand and muttered, "Freno Regina".

Both men froze in place, their eyes darting from side to side in panic.

"Accio wand," Harry muttered.

His wand, still in its holster, tore its way free from under Snape’s robe. He caught it in one hand and lifted his sleeve to snap the holster to his forearm. Then he stared long and hard at the two men. Both were startled by Harry’s use of wandless magic.

Harry moved closer to Snape. "I’ll teach you to fear me, Snivellus. Mark my words, the next time you interfere in my business, I will leave you a lobotomized moron," he said coldly.

Then he levitated Snape, wandlessly, up to the ceiling and placed him there with a sticking charm.

Next, he turned to Dumbledore. "I told you, old fool. I warned you. I did everything but draw you a fucking picture of what I was going to do if you pushed me again. You wanted a war, you got it, old man," he shouted. His magic flared with his anger and the Entrance Hall groaned and creaked as waves of magic poured off him.

Harry released Dumbledore from the freezing spell and handed him a note from his solicitor. "That is the bill for damages your bird club inflicted on my home."

"Your home?" asked Dumbledore incredulously.

"Yes. Twelve Grimmauld Place is my home. I’m the one that evicted you this past summer."

Dumbledore started to say something when Harry stopped him by holding up a hand. "I have no wish to hear your complaints any longer, old man. I expect that bill to be paid promptly or I will see you in court and I can afford more solicitors than you can."

"Harry, you cannot…"

"SHUT UP!" Harry roared, his magic beating at Dumbledore so strongly that the old wizard staggered backwards and looked up at him in fear.

With a flick of Harry’s hands, Dumbledore found himself stuck against the ceiling right next to his potions master.

"Your time is over, old man. I’ll give you this last warning. Stay out of my way while I’m at school," Harry said in a cold tone.

"Happy Christmas, Headmaster," Harry snarled. Then he donned his concealment cloak and vanished from sight. The entire castle shuddered at his disappearance.

Kings Cross Station…

Hermione dashed from the train in a complete panic. Jumping to clear the heads of some of the taller people in the crowd, she spotted Remus, Tonks and her parents near the entrance to the platform. With few excuses, she hastily started to push her way through the crowd. Draco followed, close behind.

Her parents lit up with smiles as they spotted Hermione working her way through the crowd. Then Dan’s smiled faded as he saw the expression on his daughter’s face. Stepping forward, he reached for her as she hurled herself into his arms.

"Harry’s missing!" she cried.

"We searched the train from one end to the other. Potter’s not on it," Draco drawled.

Remus and Tonks rushed her, demanding more information.

"Harry’s missing. I looked everywhere for him. He never…"

"I’m right here," Harry said tiredly.

Hermione’s head whipped around to stare at him. In a glance she could see he wasn’t all right. His complexion was pasty white, he was swaying slightly and the right side of his face was streaked in dried blood. Remus got to Harry just as the younger man’s legs started to give out. He caught Harry under his arms.

Dan pulled out his portkey for Grimmauld and everyone grabbed hold. Remus held Harry tightly, while Dan activated the portkey in its emergency mode. "HOME," Dan shouted.

Grimmauld Place…

Remus staggered when the portkey brought them to Grimmauld Place. Draco quickly reached out and steadied Remus and Harry. Between the two, they dragged him into the living room and set him out on the couch.

Narcissa spotted them arriving and rushed down the stairs to see what the problem was. The last few months she had gone far in her own recovery. She made several sweeps with her wand over Harry, running diagnostic spells. She wasn’t a fully trained healer. She had stopped her training when she had married Lucius, but she still remembered the old techniques.

"He’s got a concussion. It looks like he’s taken a fall. There’s a lot of bruising and his leg has been badly strained as well. There may be other problems, but I’m not sure," Narcissa said doubtfully.

Tonks straighten up and walked over to the fireplace. Tossing some green powder into the floo she stuck her head in for a long minute, then pulled it out.

A minute later Tonks’ friend Danni McNeil arrived via portkey. She took one look at Harry lying on the couch and pushed people out of the way to get to him. She gave the rest of them the look all healers learn early on in their careers.   It said, in no uncertain terms, ‘Get Out’.

Roughly an hour later, Danni came into the kitchen to get Tonks. She told the rest that Harry would be with them soon, but first Tonks needed to get a statement from him.

Tonks walked into the living room, frowning.  "Harry, I need to find out what happened. If we need to make arrests…"

"No, Tonks. It’s unnecessary," Harry said wearily.


"Tonks, you know what’s going to happen. Any case made now is a futile gesture. We have more important things to worry about than criminal investigations and cases," Harry said firmly.

"Harry, as your guardian, I don’t need your permission to press charges," Tonks said suggestively.

"Tonks, I love you dearly, but I’m going to tell you right here and now, if you try to pull the manipulative Dumbledore routine on me, there won’t be enough of you left to fill a basket. Yes, you are my guardian and no you don’t need my permission to press charges. But press charges for what? So Snape gets put in jail for a few months before everything goes to hell.   How does that help anything? What purpose does it serve, other than to distract us from what’s really important?"

Tonks folded her arms across her chest and looked unconvinced.

"Besides Tonks, it’s going to take several days for that sticking charm to wear off, and I really doubt anyone in Hogwarts will be able to dispel it," he added with a smirk.

"Sticking charm?" Tonks asked in a curious tone.

"Yep… to the ceiling, right inside those big old drafty doors." And then he laughed.   A tired laugh, true, but a laugh.

Author’s Notes…

Emma and Dan Granger will remain healthy in this story.   Someone pointed out a possible interesting plot twist, but it would require us to toss out most of our story and re-write it, changing the plot as we go.   I’m sure you’ll forgive us for not changing anything.

In the A/N’s "we" is used because there are two people writing Sunset over Britain.   We also wrote Dumbledore’s Army and Spiritus Crystalus.   If you read the A/N’s we figured that our sign off "Bob and Alyx" made that rather obvious, but we guess not.   Hope this clears up any confusion.

The spider bit Harry on the calf…the area below the knee but above the ankle. The damage extends from the bite spot upwards through the calf muscle and into the lower thigh.

I (Alyx) have never seen the TV program called Winston Churchill, The Valiant Years. But then, as I was born in 1971, that’s not too surprising.   Bob may know it though.   He’s a bit older than I am (Snickers and runs like hell).

(Bob’s reply) GRRRRRR

No, no, no!   We got blamed during the writing of our last stories for everything from not getting homework done, to being put on restriction by parents, to being late for work because people stayed up too late reading!   We refuse to accept the blame here.   However…umm…here’s a silencing potion for your husband.   Slip it in his coffee (or drink of choice) and go about your reading in peace.

For those asking to borrow our ideas for their own fics, our answer is sure, go ahead.   All we ask is that somewhere in your fic (Authors Notes, or wherever) you mention who you borrowed the idea from.

Harry’s leg is going to be a bit of a problem, isn’t it?   Ah well, no true hero is perfect (Grin)

How long will it take Harry and Hermione to grow ‘closer’ in their relationship?   However long it takes (aren’t we evil?).

Will Harry learn the AK?   Doubtful, but then, you never really know, do you?

For those who think Ron’s punishment was to light, relax.   Ron’s going to find out just had bad it really is.

We can’t tell you how long the story will be.   With each chapter we find ourselves fleshing out and adding details, thereby making the story progression a bit slower and requiring more chapters.   But we think those details are important to the story to help add body.  

We don’t accept howlers from anyone’s parents, so get that idea out of your head right now! We of course willing to accept donations however, so grab your parents credit cards and send us all the information contained on them. (just kidding!)

That’s it, folks.   For those who haven’t done so, you can join us at our Yahoo group.   The address can be found in the Author’s profile.   Chapter 12 is being written, so we can’t give you an update schedule yet.   On one last note however…we have both recently quit smoking, so if we seem a bit…er…grumpy, you know why :D

We hope you enjoyed the chapter!

Bob and Alyx


Excessively long update periods.

Why pray tell does seem to take some authors MONTHS to write a 3K word chapter? I don’t get that at all.

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