Content Harry Potter
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(Spotlight snaps on to center stage and there is Ron Weasley, wearing leather biker pants and no shirt. On his chest is a tattoo saying "Mom". Hermione is sitting on a trapeze bar wearing a fairy costume.)

Ron: "Hey, what am I doing wearing this getup?"

Hermione: "It’s Bob and Alyx, Ron, they decide what we wear and don’t wear."

Ron: "I don’t think that’s fair, do you?"

Hermione: "They want you to say the words Ron. Or else."

Ron: "Or else what?"

Hermione pulls an uzi from her cleavage and fires three rounds in Ron’s general direction.

Ron: "ACK!!! OK Bob and Alyx make no claim to any of this! They don’t own it, they don’t want to own it! NOTHING!!!! THEY DO THIS FOR FUN!!!"

Hermione aims the uzi again and fires off a few more shots…

Hermione: "Oops. Sorry Ron… Harry? Can I polish your wand tonight please?"

Bob: "Hermione, stop ad libbing! You’ll get to play with Harry’s wand when I say so."

Hermione: "Oh alright…"

Sunset Over Britain

Chapter 9

Ginny’s Revenge, Part I, The Great Hall, the next morning…

Ron came down from the Common Room yawning and scratching his head. He scowled for a moment spotting Harry and Hermione together with the rest of the rejects and thought about saying something. He decided against the idea after Harry’s display yesterday. Frowning, he went over to his friends and sat down.

As he reached for the eggs, he started to feel uncomfortable. He shifted on his seat and tried to listen to Seamus, the new Gryffindor Seeker, describe his first attempt at a Wronski Feint and how he ended up in the hospital with two broken arms. Ron chuckled and shifted again as the sensation grew more intense.

Putting his fork down, he reached under the table and tried adjusting his underwear to relieve the sensation. That was a mistake. The slight touch created an intense itch and he bolted to his feet.

"OY! It itches!" he yelled. He tore open his robe plunged both hands into his pants, scratching vigorously.

Ginny, who sat next to Neville, said loudly, "I’ve told him before that he should bathe more often."

Lavender, who sat several spots away from Ginny, turned to look at her, wide eyed. "You mean he doesn’t bathe?"

Ginny leaned forward so she could see Lavender. "Oh, he bathes at least once a week Lav. He just doesn’t wash well.   You know how lazy he is."

Harry and Hermione started laughing. Ron was hopping from foot to foot and tearing at his crotch with his hands. No matter how hard he scratched, it gave him no relief. As more and more people within the hall started laughing, Seamus and Dean grabbed Ron and dragged him towards the exit.

Ministry of Magic, Department of Magical Law Enforcement…

"Director, Senior Auror Shacklebolt is asking to see you."

"Send him in, please."

Kingsley Shacklebolt entered the Director’s office and took a seat in front of her desk. Kingsley and Amelia were old friends, having trained in the Auror Academy only a year apart.

"Good Morning, Kingsley. What can I do for you today?" asked Amelia, smiling.

"Director, I’m here at the request of Headmaster Dumbledore," Shacklebolt said. "He is concerned that there may be another paramilitary group on the scene and wanted me to request Ministry aid in investigating them. Albus is concerned that this new group could be supporting You-Know-Who."

"I see… Does this mysterious group have a name?"

"Albus thinks they call themselves the Brotherhood of Druidic Knights after an ancient Celtic sect that died out long before Merlin was born."

Nodding Amelia made a few notes on a parchment.   "Has this group broken any laws?"

"Not that I am aware of, Director, although Albus believes that Harry Potter spent the summer in their company."

"Mr. Potter was an emancipated adult during that period of time, Auror. He was entitled to spend his time anyway he wished. This is the second time Headmaster Dumbledore has made accusations to this office in regards to Mr. Potter. I have personally reviewed Mr. Potter’s files, along with his current status, and find no reason for any further MLE involvement in his life.

"No Auror, we are simply stretched too thin to allow for any investigation based on Dumbledore’s suspicions. You of all people should know that. Between training of the new Aurors and ongoing investigations, we have few resources to spare," said Amelia firmly

Kingsley was shocked at Amelia’s decision. Apparently the MLE didn’t hold Dumbledore in very high esteem after the baseless charges he’d laid against Harry Potter over the summer.   "But Director, Headmaster Dumbledore says…"

Amelia slammed a hand down on her desk. "That is quite enough! I run the MLE, not Dumbledore. He seems to have this strange fixation on Harry Potter, a mere student. No, there will not be a MLE investigation of Dumbledore’s ghosts until they have broken a law. That’s the last word I’ll say on the subject."

Amelia snatched a folder from the side of her desk and opened it, then she looked up. "You are dismissed, Auror Shacklebolt."

Shacklebolt could only nod and leave as quietly as possible.

Headmaster’s office, Hogwarts…

"Professor Vector?   May I see Harry Potter please?" Minerva McGonagall’s stern voice called from the doorway of the Arithmancy classroom.

"Of course," the startled Professor said.   "Will he be rejoining us today?"

"No, most likely not," Minerva said, frowning slightly.

"All right, Mr. Potter, you may pack your things and join Professor McGonagall.   Don’t forget that you have homework this evening!"

"I won’t, Professor," Harry said, gathering up his belongings and shrugging at Hermione’s worried look.

When Harry exited the room, Minerva closed the door and eyed the young man thoughtfully for a moment.   "The Headmaster has requested that you join him in his office."

Harry scowled.   "Professor, couldn’t this have waited until lunch?   I’m going to have a hard time doing my Arithmancy homework when I’ve missed half the lecture."

"I sympathize, Mr. Potter, and, though I tried, the Headmaster would hear no argument on this issue."

"Great, what does he want now?" Harry asked.

Minerva’s lips twitched and she suppressed a smile.   "I do not know, Mr. Potter.   But I can tell you that the Headmaster was in a very good mood when I left him. As you and Professor Dumbledore have been at odds, I can only assume that whatever he wishes to discuss with you will not be pleasant."

Harry’s expression darkened with anger and his fists were clenched at his side.

"Calmly, Mr. Potter.   Nothing can be accomplished through anger."

"Maybe not, but it might make me feel better," he muttered.

Minerva did smile then.   "Perhaps, but it’s always better to face one’s enemy calmly and with a clear head."

He stared at her for a moment, a bit shocked.   "Enemy?" he asked softly.   "Professor, why are you telling me this?   You’re a member of staff!"

"That does not mean I support the Headmaster when he makes foolish decisions, Mr. Potter," she said, waving him forward.   "Now, if we don’t get started, we’ll be late."

"We?   You’ll be at the meeting?" Harry asked as he walked down the hall at her side.

"Of course.   I am, after all, your Head of House. Besides, someone on staff should represent your interests."

"My interests? But Professor, won’t that cause problems between the Headmaster and yourself?"

"It may, Mr. Potter, but that is besides the point."

"Professor, you can’t!   I don’t want you to get into trouble.   Not on account of me," Harry said earnestly.  

As they approached the gargoyle guarding the Headmaster’s office, Minerva placed her hand on Harry’s shoulder and looked him in the eye.   "Mr. Potter, some people are worth fighting for."

When Harry’s eyes widened in understanding, she smiled.   Turning away, she gave the password and they proceeded up the now moving staircase.

After being granted entrance, Harry sat in the chair that was placed before the Headmaster’s desk and Professor McGonagall stood behind him.   He noticed that Dumbledore’s eyes were twinkling.  

"Ah Harry, I’m glad you could make it," Dumbledore said.

"Did I have a choice, Professor?" Harry asked politely, cocking his head slightly and watching the old man.

"You didn’t, actually," the Headmaster said, smiling.

Harry’s eyes narrowed.   He had a feeling Professor McGonagall was right.   He wasn’t going to enjoy this meeting.

"Do you know what this is, Harry?" Dumbledore asked, holding up a sealed parchment.

"No, Sir," Harry said, though he was starting to understand.   The parchment was obviously from the Ministry.

"Have you been reading the Prophet lately?"

"The Prophet is garbage, Professor. They print lies, as you well know," Harry said politely and tried not to smile as Dumbledore’s eyes lost some of their twinkle when the barb struck home.

"Then you’ve not heard of the new law the Ministry passed last week?"

When Harry shook his head, Dumbledore leaned back in his chair and smiled once more.   "Ah, let me explain then.   The law, 1996-65, now makes it illegal to emancipate any under age witch or wizard, retroactive to January 1st of this year.   With the passage of this law, you are, once again, a minor."

"Perhaps you should tell him who wrote and sponsored the law, Albus," McGonagall said, her voice calm.

"I don’t think that’s necessary, Minerva," Dumbledore said, frowning at her.   "I will remind you that you are attending this meeting as Harry’s Head of House, nothing more."

"Actually, I would be interested in knowing who’s responsible for the law," Harry said. "After all, it wouldn’t be the first time Voldemort’s managed to get one of his followers into a position in the Ministry to twist things his way.   And this does sound like something he would think up, doesn’t it?"

"I can assure you that Voldemort had nothing to do with the passage of this law.   I wrote and co-sponsored it," Dumbledore said, annoyed.

"You? Why?"

"You know why, Harry.   We have spoken before about this and you know that I disapprove of you actions.   You have proven to be incapable of making adult decisions and do not have the training or experience to look out for your own safety. You need supervision and guidance through these difficult times," he said, smiling once again.

"Guidance and supervision?   I managed to elude you and the Order all summer and you think I’m incapable of looking out for myself?" Harry asked, raising an eyebrow in question.

"We will not go into this any further.   The law has been passed and it will not be changed," the Headmaster said sternly.

Harry very much wanted to laugh at the old man.   He knew were this conversation was going, but had to play his part.   So instead, he frowned and looked puzzled.   "So this means I need a guardian again?"

Dumbledore nodded.   "Yes, it does."

"Well, I suppose Remus would do it," Harry said, shrugging.

"I’m afraid Remus Lupin cannot be your guardian.   Dangerous creatures such as he are excluded from guardianship."

"Dangerous?   Remus?   You know better than that, Professor," Harry said, glaring.

"What I think is beside the point.   The Ministry’s laws pertaining to werewolves are quite clear in this matter."

"Well then, the Granger’s will…"

"The Granger’s, while I’m sure they are nice enough people, are muggles, Harry.   Muggles are also excluded from obtaining guardianship of magical children."

"So no muggles, no ‘dangerous creatures’…wait!"   Harry turned in his seat and looked up at his Transfiguration teacher and smiled.   "You wouldn’t want to be my guardian, would you Professor?" he asked, grinning for her benefit and winking.

Again, Minerva’s lips twitched as she watched Harry’s eyes dance with mischief. "While it’s a little unorthodox, I would certainly be willing, Harry.   I always wanted to have children some day," she said, smiling at him warmly.

Harry turned quickly in his seat and saw the brief scowl on Dumbledore’s face.   It disappeared a moment later and he tried not to laugh out loud at the evidence of his Headmaster’s annoyance.

"It seems the problem’s been solved, Sir," Harry said cheerfully.

"Professor McGonagall’s generous offer will not be needed.   This," Dumbledore said, holding up the Ministry parchment once more, "is notification from the Ministry that your guardian has already been chosen."

"Why didn’t you just say so, Sir?   Why did we have to waste so much time going through this?   I could have gone back to Arithmancy," he said, scowling as though upset about missing class time.

"Aren’t you curious about who the Ministry has assigned as your guardian, Harry?" Dumbledore asked, the twinkle back in his blue eyes.

Harry rolled his eyes.   "You, I would imagine," he said.

When the Headmaster sat back, a look of surprise on his face, Harry shook his head.

"How did you know that, Harry?" Dumbledore asked.

"Perhaps you’re not as subtle as you think you are, Sir," Harry replied calmly.   "Now, can we get on with this please?   I’d rather not miss lunch."

"Very well." The Headmaster sat up once again and smiled benignly at the young man. "As your guardian, it is my duty to see that you are kept safe and healthy.   However, due to your…unusual circumstance, there are a few things required of you."

"Such as?" Harry asked with genuine interest.   He was curious to see how far the old man would try to take this farce.

"They are simple things really, harmless things," Dumbledore said casually.

"Albus, really.   Must you drag this out?" Minerva said, scowling.

"To the point then." Dumbledore picked up a piece of parchment from his desktop and examined it for a moment.   "This is a list of the things I require from you as your guardian.   I will go through them for you and answer any questions you may have."

When Harry simply nodded, he consulted his list and cleared his throat.   "First, you and Miss Granger will no longer see each other outside of classes.   There will be no studying together, you will not sit together at meals and you will not visit with each other in your common room in the evenings."

Harry bolted to his feet.   "What?   Hermione?   Have you lost your mind?   You can’t do this, Professor."

"I can and I will," Dumbledore said, calmly.

"But why?" Harry asked, sinking back into his chair.

"She exerts too much influence over you and the choices you make, Harry," he said, not unkindly.   "I know you care for her, but this is better for you."

"I think I understand.   You wish to be the only person who ‘exerts’ influence over me. Am I right, Sir?"

"I am older and wiser, Harry.   You must trust my judgment in this.   It really is for the best."

"Older, perhaps," Harry said, scornfully.   "Wiser?   I think not."

"There will be no more discussion on this matter.   You will do as your told," Dumbledore said, angrily.

When Harry simply glared in response, the Headmaster returned to his list.   "Now, to continue.   You will no longer threaten Professor Snape or myself with any form of prosecution for our actions.   What we do, we do for your own good.   In time, you will come to see that."

Harry remained silent, though he was seething inside.   What he was hearing would be nightmare fodder for days.

"Professor Snape will be using Legilimency on you frequently, to make sure you are hiding nothing from us.   You will drop your shields and allow him entrance into your mind.   If, at any time, you refuse my order, you will be given a sleeping draught and the required information will be obtained while you sleep.   You will also apologize to Professor Snape for threatening him, exposing him as a spy and for breaking his wands.   Do you understand?"

Harry nodded curtly and tried not to grind his teeth.   His entire body was stiff with anger and he wanted nothing more than to storm from the office.   He felt Professor McGonagall’s hand brush his back lightly, briefly, and guessed that she was trying to tell him to be calm.   And while he understood her logic, he was finding it difficult to do as she suggested.

"You will also apologize to every member of the Order for putting them at risk when they searched for you over the summer…"

"I didn’t ask…" Harry started.

"This is not up for debate!   You will sit there, listen to what actions are required of you and then perform those actions, Mr. Potter!" Dumbledore said in a loud, angry tone. "As I told you before, I will no longer put up with your resistance.   You will apologize as I have directed.   Is that clear?"

"Albus, I think you are being overly harsh," Minerva said, gripping the back of Harry’s chair.   "This is all rather sudden for Harry.   It’s only natural that he be upset."

"I will remind you once again, Professor McGonagall, that you are here only as his Head of House.   Your comments are not required, nor welcome!"

"As his Head of House, I have a duty to look out for his well being," she said, trying to speak calmly.   "Yelling at him and demanding his submission to your authority as his guardian are not conducive to a well adjusted student!"

"You will remain quiet, or you will leave this office, Professor," Dumbledore said coldly.   "I will not allow you to interfere in my guardianship of this child."

When Minerva glared at him, but remained silent, he turned back to Harry.   "Now child, to continue.   You are required to submit to me the names of the cloaked figures you were seen with this summer and tell me how I may contact them.   You will also tell me where you spent the summer, so that I may examine it for myself.

"Any and all correspondence will be given to me before it is sealed.   If I approve, I will send it for you. Any correspondence you receive will be delivered to me before you read it. You will, however, have no contact with Remus Lupin or Nymphadora Tonks. Also, you will not be allowed off school grounds for any reason.   Your holidays, including summer break, will be spent at Hogwarts, where you will be kept under supervision at all times. If you behave, you may be allowed to visit the Burrow for a few weeks over the summer."

"The Burrow?   So I can spend time with Ron?   Thanks, but no," Harry said scornfully.

"That brings up another point.   You will cease this petty fighting with Ronald Weasley.   He has your best interests in mind and wants to help you.   I will ask him to keep an eye on you and to help you when he thinks you need it."

"My best interest at heart?   Are you mad?   He attacks my girlfriend and calls her a slut, and you think he’s looking out for my interests?" Harry said in disbelief.

"As Miss Granger will no longer be your girlfriend, I fail to see how this is relevant and we shall, therefore, not debate the issue.   You will simply do as you are told."


"The matter has been dealt with to my satisfaction. That is all you need to know," Dumbledore said.   When Harry opened his mouth to comment, he scowled.   "Enough!   The matter will no longer be discussed and we will move on.

"The wards around your trunk and your bed will be dropped. Your belongings will be searched whenever and by whomever I deem necessary. This may, at times, include staff, prefects and even your dorm mates. You will also remove your earring, cut your hair and have the tattoo removed by Professor Flitwick.

"Your classes will, for the most part, remain as they are.   However, your free periods will now be used for training.   I will work up your new schedule and you will learn what I deem most useful to you.   You may have a variety of teachers, including Professor Snape.   You will obey him.   As Occlumency training is no longer necessary, he will be teaching you how to duel."

Harry couldn’t help but grin at the thought.   He knew it would never happen, but the image of a surprised Snape being smeared against the dungeon wall filled his heart with warmth.   When he noticed Dumbledore staring at him oddly, he wiped his expression and waited.

"Do you understand everything I have told you, Harry?’ Dumbledore asked a bit suspiciously.

When Harry nodded, the Headmaster sat back in his chair, well pleased.   The child would come to learn that he had no choice in the matter.   Eventually, Harry would come to trust him once more and his plans for the boy could go forward.

"I’m glad.   It really is for your own welfare, child.   Now, you may keep this," he said, holding out the list of things he required from Harry.   "I’m sure it’s clear enough, but if you don’t understand something, I will be more than happy to explain.   Not debate, mind you," he added, as Harry looked ready to speak, "but clarify.   You can’t change this, Harry.   Accept it and things will be much easier for you."

Harry took the offered parchment and glanced at.   Looking back at the Headmaster, he asked, "Are you finished, Sir?"

"For now.   You are dismissed."

Harry stood and cocked his head.   "Dismissed?   Not yet, I think.   I have a few things to add." He held the list up before Dumbledore’s eyes and, with a flick of his wrist, drew his wand. "Incendio," he murmured, and watched as the parchment burned merrily down to ash.

"Harry!" Dumbledore exclaimed.   "There was no need to burn it.   I know you’re angry now but…"

"Angry?" Harry asked calmly, brushing the ash from his fingertips.   "No, not really. And as your list was meaningless, there was no reason not to burn it."

"Meaningless?   What are you talking about?" Dumbledore demanded.

Harry shook his head.   "Merlin, and you’re supposed to be wise?   Tell me, Professor, did you even read the Ministry’s letter?   Of course you didn’t.   In your arrogance, you assumed you’d been given guardianship over me.   You really are a fool, aren’t you?" he asked in amused distain.

At Dumbledore’s dumbfounded expression, Harry plucked the Ministry’s letter from Dumbledore’s desk and opened it.   Glancing at it swiftly, he read it out loud.

 To: Albus Dumbledore, Headmaster, Hogwarts

From: The Office of Child Protective Services

Dear Sir,

We regret to inform you that your application for guardianship of one Harry James Potter, minor, has been denied, as an existing guardian for the minor in question already exists. As the current guardian is a member of the minor’s family, it was deemed a more suitable placement.   The decision is final, and there can be no appeal.

Jamie McFearson
Child Advocate

Dumbledore stood up and grabbed the letter from Harry’s unresisting fingers in disbelief.   "But this is impossible!   No one knew I was going to write this law or apply for guardianship!   How did you do this?" he demanded.

"Me?   I didn’t do this.   I was contacted Tuesday morning and informed that I now had a guardian because a law had been passed revoking my emancipation."

"This will not stand," Dumbledore shouted, slamming the letter down on the desk.   "I will have this revoked! Who is your guardian?"

"Oh, I’m sure my guardian will contact you in time.   Now, I’d like to go to lunch," Harry said, turning towards the door.

"I demand that you tell me who your guardian is!   You have no family, Potter, they’re either dead or in prison!" the Headmaster exclaimed.

"Demand all you like, Sir," Harry said, looking over his shoulder as he opened the door. "But since this doesn’t have anything to do with this school, my guardian has asked me to tell you to…what were the words?   Oh yes, I was told to tell you to ‘Sod off, old man’."

Harry then turned serious. "You think Voldemort is dangerous, Headmaster? You better start worrying about me instead, you old fool. You’ve pushed me too far this time. The next time you push, I’m pushing back and I daresay you won’t enjoy it," he said in a cold tone.

Dumbledore’s expression was a combination of shock at being spoken to in such a way, amazement that a mere child had out-maneuvered him so well, and fear that he’d lost all control of the wizarding world’s greatest weapon and a tool to use on his own path to fame.

Minerva followed Harry out the door. Seeing the Headmaster’s expression, she started laughing so hard she nearly cackled like a witch from legend.   "Oh Merlin!   Bested by a student, no less.   Twenty-five points to Gryffindor, Mr. Potter, for a brilliant performance!" she gasped, wiping the tears from her cheeks.

"Thank you, Professor. Maybe I should scrap the idea of being an Auror and take up acting instead," Harry said cheerfully.

As the door closed on their laughter, Albus Dumbledore sank into his chair, shocked. What just happened, he asked himself.

Outside Dumbledore’s office, McGonagall stopped Harry with a hand on his shoulder. "You knew about this all along, didn’t you, Mr. Potter? How did you manage it?" she asked him intently.

Harry looked at his Transfiguration Professor and smiled warmly. "Like the good Headmaster, I also have friends who believe and support me, Professor. I’m not pleased about losing the emancipation, but at least I’m still out from under his thumb. And in nine months, he’ll never be able to try that again."

"A masterful performance, Mr. Potter," the normally stern McGonagall said, her eyes dancing with glee.   "I am very proud of you."

Harry ducked his head shyly, not used to comments.   "Thank you, Professor.   And I really do appreciate your help."

Defense Against the Dark Arts Class…

"Mr. Potter, Miss Granger? A word before you leave class, please," Romany called.

The two watched as the other students filed out of class. Once the room was empty, Romany shut the door and cast a privacy charm before turning on Harry.

"Alright Harry, what’s the problem? Your power levels were all over the place today. Twice you cast a simple shielding spell that was nearly solid in nature. I thought we had put this problem behind us," she said, sounding annoyed.

Harry looked ashamed for the loss of control. Hermione touched his arm gently. "Harry, what’s wrong? You’ve been distant and cold since you came back from Dumbledore’s office this morning."

"I’m sorry," he said quietly. "I just can’t get out of my head what he wanted me to do. Since that meeting I’ve been fighting the urge to destroy something, anything…preferably Dumbledore or Hogwarts."

"What do you mean? What did he want you to do?" asked Romany, curious and alarmed by his comment.

"He thought he’d been named my guardian and he had a whole list of things he wanted me to do. Things like allowing Snape to use Legilimency on me anytime he wanted, letting Ron search my trunk, apologizing to the Order, that sort of stuff. None of that matters all that much, but he wanted me to break up with Hermione. He thinks she’s too much of an influence on me," he said, turning to look at Hermione.

Hermione could see the pain in his eyes. She stepped forward and embraced him. He laid his head atop hers and began to talk again.

"Ever since that meeting I’ve been so angry. He doesn’t know how close I came to blasting him into pieces, how close I came to losing control of my anger in that meeting. It frightens me to know I can get that close. Even when I found out I have to kill Voldemort, I didn’t and still don’t want to kill him, I don’t want to be a murderer. But today I wanted to kill someone and that scares me," he said in a whisper.

Romany looked startled at his revelation about Voldemort. She filed that away for another time. Right now she had to deal with a powerful wizard before he became afraid of what he was.

"Harry," she started off softly, "everyone experiences that sort of desire at least once in his or her live. It’s not something we’re proud of, but it happens. The important thing for you to know is that you recognized how close you came and still managed to avoid it. You learned a lesson about yourself today and right now it’s a painful one, but later on in life you’ll be glad for it.

"Right now you need to focus on what’s most important. Your meeting with Dumbledore and his subsequent defeat today was the first salvo in a war. We need to take steps to ensure your safety and Hermione’s. She’s obviously a target…"

Harry frowned and tightened his grip on Hermione as he listened to Romany.

"You both have enchanted objects to let you know if the other is in danger. I’ll charm my earrings to do the same, so I’ll know if either of you are in danger. I’ll also inform Amelia that the situation here is becoming untenable. It’s important to the investigation that you two remain in school and seem to be unaware of what he’s up to," Romany said.

"Romany, would it be possible to arrange for Hermione to have an emergency portkey? I’d do it myself, but I only know a few locations to enchant into the key. And she can’t do my type of apparation," suggested Harry.

"That’s a good idea, Harry. I’ll talk to Amelia about it. Wait a second… ‘your type of apparation’?"

Hermione looked over at Romany from Harry’s embrace and started laughing. "I told you he does things others can’t, including apparating into and out of Hogwarts," she said proudly.

"He also uses something he calls personal apparation, which I’ve only seen him use once to sneak into my bed at the start of term to leave me a note. He’s never really explained that very well either," said Hermione stepping back from him and looking at him expectantly.

Both women looked at him for an explanation.

"I-I-it’s not all that special, Hermione," he stammered. "I just apparate to a person instead of a place or coordinate."

"How can you apparate to a person?" asked Romany, curious now. She certainly couldn’t do it.

Harry shrugged. "I’m not sure. It has to be a person I know well. I just concentrate on the person and away I go. It’s not something I do often. When I first tried it, I apparated to Remus Lupin, only he wasn’t alone at the time." He shuddered. "It’s a good thing I don’t make any noise when apparating. I think Tonks would have been upset with me popping in like that and interrupting them."

Hermione’s eyes grew wide and she started the snicker.

"Hermione, it isn’t funny! I think I’ve been scarred for life!" he said in protest.

Hogwarts Great Hall, dinner time…

Harry was surprised to see Hedwig winging into the Great Hall. He had sent Hedwig off to Remus yesterday with a letter asking about the Grim tattoo. Hedwig appearing now meant Remus had replied, since he told Hedwig to wait for a reply. She winged in low over the Gryffindor table and, instead of carrying a note attached to her leg, she had a much bulkier package clutched in her talons. Dropping the package in front of Harry, she landed between him and Hermione.

Hermione caressed the beautiful bird and fed her some meat scraps from one of the platters while Harry unwrapped the package. Inside the package were two envelopes, one marked "READ ME FIRST!", one un-addressed, and a small notebook.

He opened the marked envelope first.


Hold onto your hat cub because this letter is coming with a few surprises. First off, the book contains notes Sirius made concerning the changes to the wards around Padfoot Manor and, in particular, the Grim tattoo. It’s pretty complex and takes up most of the book so you might want to show it to Hermione. Most of the wards seem pretty standard if you ask me. The only real surprise is the addition of the tattoo, which will be given to each Head of the Black family.

I had to get this information from Gringotts. Fortunately, your name seems to carry some weight there and they were more than happy to give up the book with the information. According Rotfoot, the chief goblin in charge of the Gringotts Property Management department, the book and the letter were placed in their care back in early May. Rotfoot says the letter was written by Sirius and was to be given to you when you came enquiring about the wards.

I haven’t read the letter Harry, and I probably couldn’t. Sirius was quite good with concealment charms, so it’s possible that no one but you can read it. I don’t know what the letter says but I’m sure it’s going to upset you. Don’t read it alone if you can avoid it. No matter what he says in the letter, always remember he loved you and so do Tonks and I.


Harry picked up the unopened letter as if it were the most precious object in the universe. He handed the other letter and book to Hermione, who watched him curiously. Then he stood up from the table and quickly limped out of the Great Hall.

He left the school and walked down to the lake. Finding a boulder, he sat down and looked out across the water, watching the giant squid wave its tentacles as it performed lazy back flips.   He closed his eyes for a moment and took a deep breath.   He tore the envelope open and pulled out the letter inside before opening his eyes and beginning to read.

Prongs Jr.,

If you’re reading this, then I’ve died. What a horrible way to start a letter, hmm? But then again, there’s no easy way to say something like that, is there?

I am so sorry, Harry. I hope I died well, fighting for what I believed in. I’m sorry I won’t be there to help you. And I’m most sorry that I left you behind to chase after a traitor and ended up in Azkaban for twelve long years. If I’d not been so rash, we could have spent those years together.

When I first saw you and got to hold you, you were barely an hour old. Your father held you, then passed you to me. Both of us were reluctant to give you back to your mother, who had not yet had the chance to hold you. Your parents loved you and thought the sun rose and set around you, although Lily did think you were a handful. And despite the fact that I was an outsider from a bad family, your parents welcomed me into their home and hearts and honored me by naming me your godfather.

This past year has been difficult for me, Harry. It’s taken me a while to realize that you are not James, despite how you look. You are your own person, combining the very best of James and Lily into a unique person. Your father was my friend and more. I watched him grow from being an arrogant, stuffy full blood, to a fine upstanding man in love with a muggle born witch. His attitudes shifted radically as he matured, but his fundamental core remained steadfast. He was someone who wouldn’t allow people to be picked on because of blood. Someone that hated bullies. James might have started off as a prat Harry, but, like all of us, he grew up. I’m sure Lily had a lot to do with it, but the process had already started by the time they fell in love.

You’ve managed to combine the best of both your parents. You have your father’s bravery and steadfast loyalty to friends. You have your mother’s compassion and intelligence. You are all your parents could have wanted their child to be and I know how proud of you they would be right now.   You are also the closest thing to a son I’ll ever have.

Life hasn’t been easy for you and I can’t tell you how angry it makes me knowing the burdens that have been placed on your shoulders. Live my son, find a way to beat Voldemort and live. Find yourself a woman who can give you the love you richly deserve and raise a family of little Potters who’ll play Quidditch and like a good prank.

I can only hope that James and Lily can forgive me for making such a mess of things and not being there for you. I’ve left you the Black Family fortune. Combined with the Potter fortune, you are one of the richest wizards in the world. Use the money to live and help your friends. If you can live and love, you’ll have made this old fool very happy.

Goodbye son,

With tears streaming down his cheeks, Harry carefully folded the letter and put it back into the envelope. He choked back a sob, then he folded his arms across his knees and lowered his head. He cried quietly, longing for a life he had been denied.

Arms wrapped around him and he heard a very familiar voice comforting him.   "It’s alright Harry," said Hermione softly. "Cry for him, cry for your loss. You need to do this."

He leaned into her embrace and wept for what he had lost. When his tears finally stopped, she tightened her hold on him for a moment. "Feel better now?" she asked him softly.

He smiled weakly and nodded. "He really loved me, that’s what makes it hurt so much," he said in a wondering tone, shaking his head in disbelief.

"Is that so hard for you to believe, Harry?"

"It is. All my life I’ve wanted what everyone else takes for granted…a parent, a friend, someone who cared if I had a nightmare or a skinned knee. I never had any of that before. Do you know much I envied Ron and his family or you and yours? Ron would get jealous of my money or my fame and I’d trade it all in a flash to be a normal teenager with parents. He never could understand that.

"When you spend the first ten years of your life being told you aren’t worthy of being loved, you start to believe it, Hermione. That’s probably more damaging than all the beatings and weeklong lockups in the cupboard without being fed.

"What’s it like to be three and climb into bed with your parents because the storm scared you? Or to have someone bandage your skinned knee and tell you everything will be alright? Sirius wanted to give me those things, but instead ended up in prison without a trial. I could have had all that, but fate didn’t allow it.

"Now things have changed for the better, and it’s so confusing. I can honestly say in the past few months I’ve felt things I’ve never felt before. Feelings I don’t know how to deal with.

"I look at you and see a future that I want very much. I look at Remus and Tonks, even your parents, and see people that care about me. But every so often I wonder when I’m going to wake up and find it was all a pleasant dream and nothing more," he said with a sigh.

Hermione was struck by how many basic human needs he had missed out on. While he had spoken about his past before, he’d rarely spoken about it in terms of his needs and desires. His words caused her heart to ache for him.

She leaned over and kissed him softly. It was a gentle, feather light kiss, like the whisper of butterfly wings on his lips. "Does that feel like a dream, Harry?"

"If it is, may I never wake up," he murmured, smiling.

"Everyone needs love in their lives, Harry. It’s essential to human happiness. Yes, it’s wonderful and confusing and sometimes even painful, but everyone deserves to be loved.

"That’s what makes you different from Voldemort. He’s denied that aspect of himself. You haven’t. You may think you don’t know how to love Harry, but you do it every day with your friends. You show it to me every day in a dozen little things you do without even knowing you do them.

"If I had to say you had any problem, it would be with receiving love and only time and trust will fix that," she said, then her expression turned playfully seductive. "As far as the rest Harry, you know very well how to kiss. And one of these days soon I intend to find out what else you can do well. I may not be an expert in love, but think of the fun we’ll have learning together."

Harry looked at her, shocked for a moment, before he laughed. "Do you want to know a secret?" he asked her shyly.

She smiled encouragingly and nodded.

"Do you remember when I went out in Cho in fifth year and how you and Ron both teased me about kissing her?"

She frowned, wondering where he was going with the subject.

"Well, the truth is, she kissed me. I didn’t really kiss her back. I was so shocked and surprised that I stood there like a dummy. You were the first girl I’ve ever kissed back."

She looked surprised and he laughed. "Don’t you remember what I replied when Ron asked me how was it? ‘Wet’. Some kiss huh?" he asked, still grinning.

Hermione giggled at the comment, but she was secretly pleased by it. Someday she’d tell Harry that he was the first boy she had really kissed.

Together the two headed back into the castle.

Ginny’s Revenge, Part II, The Great Hall, the next morning…

Ginny sat sedately with her friends having breakfast when a commotion broke out near the far end of the Gryffindor table.

Both Seamus and Dean had leapt to their feet and were busily scratching their nether regions and screaming about the itch. Ron was still in the infirmary. Madam Pomfrey could only reduce, not eliminate his itch.

"I tried to warn them about Ron," Ginny said loud enough to be heard over the screams of the two Gryffindors.

Lavender leaned over the table and looked at Ginny. "What do you mean, Ginny?" she asked curiously.

Hermione turned to look at Lavender. "Oh Lavender, don’t you know there are sexually transmitted diseases that cause a tremendous itch?" she asked in an exasperated tone.

"You don’t mean…?" asked Lavender, clearly shocked.

Hermione shrugged. "Think about it, Lavender. Three boys, all in the same room, all coming down with the same uncontrollable itch?" she replied.

Lavender’s eyes grew wide, and worried. Parvati gasped and the two young women looked at each other in concern. Both women had had intimate encounters with at least two of the boys in question. Lavender gasped in shock when Seamus yelled again and started scratching his mouth as well.

"I think I’ll go take a shower," Lavender said, her face pale. A moment later, Parvati followed her from the room.

Ginny and Hermione smiled at each other. Harry eyed both of them suspiciously. "What’s going on here?" he asked.

"Nothing, Harry, just a little bit of character assassination," said Ginny primly.

Hermione laughed at Harry’s confused look. She leaned in towards him. "By this evening’s Halloween feast, Lavender will have spread the rumor that Seamus, Dean and Ron are gay or, at least, bisexual."

Harry exchanged looks with Neville and Draco before turning back to Hermione and Ginny. "I’m glad you aren’t angry with me. I’d hate to see what you’d do."

"I told you the answer to that already, Harry. I’d let Hermione take care of you for me," answered Ginny, looking smug.

Hermione laughed and reached one hand under the table to squeeze his thigh. Harry shifted nervously in his seat and Hermione’s hand slipped higher by accident. She pulled it away as if burned and Harry broke into the coughing fit. Both looked at the other, blushing madly.

"Hermione, I warned you that hands under the table could get you into uncharted territory," Ginny said, laughing.

The Halloween Feast…

Harry was looking forward to the Halloween feast. Although the muggles had perverted it into a commercial holiday for children, Halloween was truly a special day on the Wizarding calendar. Halloween magic was special, stronger and somehow purer. It was said in the wizarding world that Halloween was the one day of the year that a wizard or witch could tap into their ancestor’s magic, even if only for a brief moment.

In honor of the occasion, Harry had worked a complex enchantment into a single piece of parchment that he would share with his friends. He had tested a minor version of the enchantment earlier and now he used the more powerful version. Just testing it had filled him with an intense sadness and it wasn’t something he wanted to partake in again. But it was a gift he could give them if they wanted it. He rolled up the parchment and carried it with him down the to Great Hall.

As Ginny and Hermione predicted, by the time he reached the Great Hall he’d overheard several conversations about the sexual antics of Ron, Dean and Seamus. He had trouble not laughing at some of the more outlandish stories.

Harry was pleased to see the way that Professor Flitwick had redecorated the Great Hall for the occasion. Jack O Lanterns floated above the tables. The house tables were missing and had been replaced by many round tables, seating ten people. Even the Head table was missing. The ghosts of Hogwarts floated everywhere as people took seats.

Harry sat down at a table next to Hermione and his friends. Today he wore simple muggle clothes; jeans and one of the loud, yellow t-shirts Hermione and Emma hated so much.   This one read: I Broke Into The Department of Mysteries And All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt!

Hermione took one look at the shirt and rolled her eyes, while Neville and Ginny broke into a fit of laughter.

He was surprised when Susan brought her date, Terry Boot, over to join them. When he arched an eyebrow in her direction, she smiled shyly and he broke out into a big grin. Terry stood uncertainly by an empty chair, looking at the group.

"Am I welcome here?" he asked, looking at them.

Harry turned to Susan, who seemed to be blushing eight shades of red. "I don’t know. Susan, should we let him sit?" he teased with a grin.

Hermione slapped Harry on the shoulder. "Prat! Of course you’re welcome, Terry. Take a seat. Don’t mind Harry, he’s just upset because a prank was pulled and he wasn’t in on it," she said, smiling at the Ravenclaw.

Hermione turned to Harry, "Susan and I have been teaching Terry things. Susan would like him to join our little group…" she trailed off as Harry looked over at Susan, who nodded at him with a hopeful look on her face.

"Terry’s been a friend of mine long before Hogwarts, Harry. I trust…," she stopped when he held up his hand.

Harry turned to look intently at the Ravenclaw. "Terry, if Susan says you’re alright, then I don’t have a problem with it. The real question is will you have a problem with what this will do to you? Most of school is afraid of us. Do you want to be in that boat as well?" Harry asked carefully.

Terry looked Harry in the eye, his expression grim. "Susan’s made me see that you’ve been treated unfairly. She hasn’t explained it all, but if she’s convinced you haven’t gone dark, that’s good enough for me. Besides, I’d follow Susan into You-Know-Who’s lair, if necessary."

He glanced over to Susan and his expression immediately softened, his heart in his eyes. She blushed and looked down at her plate when he reached over to hold her hand.

Harry looked around to the others, his eyebrow raised in question. Each, in turn, nodded at him, a few grinned.

"Well then Terry," Harry said, smiling, "welcome to the Outcasts. Susan, when you think he’s mastered Occlumency, let me know. I’ll check his shields and then you can fill him in on the details, alright?"

Susan nodded gratefully at Harry.

After enjoying the meal and the quiet conversation that followed, Harry finally reached into his pocket and pulled out the parchment he’d prepared earlier.   "Guys, I have a surprise. But before I show it to you, you all have to make a decision," he said, unrolling the parchment and placing it on the center of the table.

"This parchment is enchanted with a special charm I created. If you touch it with your wand it will show you a vision."

"Vision of what, Harry?" Hermione asked, interested despite her self.

"It’ll take you to see the one person or persons you miss the most who’ve passed over to the other side… The charm will only last for three minutes, but it’ll seem completely real. You don’t have to do it if you don’t want to, but I know some of us never got the chance to say goodbye…"

Hermione sat chewing her lip, while surprisingly Luna looked eager and focused on what Harry was saying.

"I’d like to try," Luna said excitedly.

"Touch your wand to the parchment, Luna, but only if you’re sure," Harry said.

Nodding eagerly, she touched her wand to the parchment on the table. Her eyes lost their focus and she grew still.

The room faded. She found herself sitting in her living room. From the kitchen she heard a familiar voice she had not heard for many years.


She whirled and looked as her mother came through the door.

"Merlin my little girl is all grown up and what a beautiful woman you’ve become," said her mother.

"Mama? Is it really you? You’re not a disguised Gnuffle?" whispered the trembling girl.

"It’s really me, Luna. How I have missed you, my little girl. You’ve made me very proud," her mother said.

Luna hurled herself into her mothers arms. "I’m sorry, Mum! I wanted to help you when the fire broke out, but I didn’t know any spells, I didn’t have a wand…"

"Hush, my darling. By the time the fire started, it was too late anyway. You were strong for me and your father, that’s what matters."

They held each other for a while, then the scene slowly started to fade. Luna’s mother called out, as if from a distance, "Stay true to your path, Luna. Great things await you…give my love to your father…"

The room faded back into the Great Hall and Luna looked around at her friends, her eyes wet with unshed tears. Standing, she walked over to Harry and embraced him. He patted her back somewhat awkwardly before she returned to her seat.

"It’s a wonderful gift, Harry," Luna said, smiling dreamily. "If it’s the last thing I do, I’ll try to get you a Cross-Footed Snuffle Whimper for Christmas to repay you for the gift you’ve just given me. They are a lot of fun."

Everyone looked at Luna for a moment before looking around to see who would be next. Finally, Ginny pulled out her wand and touched the parchment.

Ginny’s view of the Great Hall faded and she found herself on top of a small hill overlooking the Burrow. It was a bright, sunlit day, obviously summertime, and butterflies danced lazily in the field. She couldn’t help smiling at the sight. It was one of her favorites of the Burrow and her childhood.

"You’re even prettier than your Mum was at your age," came a voice.

"Oh, I quite agree. Much prettier," said another.

Ginny whirled and confronted two men she didn’t recognize. The red hair marked them as family and they looked vaguely familiar, but she didn’t know them.

"I always knew Molly would have wonderful looking children," said one man, smiling softly at her.

"Oh yes, and the red hair! It’s a shame we’re related. I’d like a red head like this one myself," said the other, laughing.

"Now Gideon, don’t frighten her," said the first man.

"I’m not frightening her, Fabian! Am I frightening you, Ginevra?" he asked.

Ginny looked between the two, recognition dawning upon her. "Uncle Fabian? Uncle Gideon?"

"In the flesh," said Gideon, smiling.

"Well, not really. More like, thanks to your smart, green eyed friend," countered Fabian.

Ginny laughed. "Now I know where Fred and George get their way of talking! We thought it was twin-speak."

"Oh my goodness no, my dear," said Fabian.

"It’s merely a family trait with close siblings," said Gideon.

Ginny hugged the two men tightly, men she’d only heard about, who’d been lost fighting in the first war against Voldemort.

"Now listen carefully, Ginevra," started Fabian

"We’re so very proud of you," continued Gideon.

"You’ve chosen a difficult path to follow," added Fabian.

"But it’s the right path, even if it pits you against family," Gideon said.

"Stay true to your heart," said Fabian.

"Your parents may have strayed, but hold your course." said Gideon.

"And always remember that we love you, Ginevra," said the two men as the scene faded back to the Great Hall.

Ginny looked over at Harry, her face contorted by a myriad of emotions. "Harry… I… words… thank you for your gift…," she said before burying her face into Neville’s shoulder and sobbing softly.

Harry and Neville exchanged a glance. "I’ll pass, mate. The people I want to talk to haven’t passed over yet," Neville said quietly. Ginny tightened her grip on Neville and he held her, caressing her hair.

"It’s alright, Nev. I didn’t think you would," replied Harry.

Susan extended her wand next and touched the parchment.

The Great Hall faded and she found herself sitting in her bedroom in Aunt Amelia’s house. Before her stood a man and a woman she’d only seen in pictures.

"Mum? Dad?" she whispered, trembling.

"My little baby is all grown up," whispered her father. Susan’s mum said nothing. She simply stepped forward and swept Susan into an embrace. In a moment her father joined them. It was one of those moments where words were unnecessary.

"We’re so proud of you, Susan, so very proud," said her Mum.

"You’ve grown up into a wonderful woman and a powerful witch who fights for the light. What more can a parent ask of their child?" said her father.

"I’ve missed you both so very much," sobbed Susan.

"But dear, we’re always with you, and always in your heart. We’ve never really left you. Never forget that Sus," said her mother.

"You’ll see us Sus, the first time you hold your own child. Or see your first grandchild. We’re a part of you and you pass that along with you as you live," said her father.

The scene started to fade out. "Mum! Dad! Don’t go!" she cried.

"Our time here is over, Sus, but our love for you never ends," replied her mother as if from a great distance.

Susan blinked her eyes as the Great Hall came into focus. Ginny and Luna smiled softly at Susan and she shivered for a moment as the rush of emotions started to settle down. Reaching across the table, she grabbed Harry by the hand, gripping it tightly and smiling her thanks to him.

Harry looked to Draco, but the blond shook his head. "None of the Malfoys or Blacks are worth talking to, Harry," he said softly.

Looking at Terry, the Ravenclaw also shook his head, turning down the offer. Harry nodded and turned to the last person, Hermione. She sat, chewing her lip, undecided.

"Hermione, you don’t have to do this if you don’t want to," he said softly, caressing her cheek.

She leaned into his hand for a moment then her resolved hardened. Reaching out with her wand, she touched the parchment.

The Great Hall faded from view and she found herself in her Grandmother’s living room.

"Child, come sit by me," came a gentle voice.

Hermione whirled and spotted her Grandmother. "Nana? Is that truly you?" she whispered.

"Yes child, now come sit with me. We don’t have much time," said her grandmother.

Hermione sat next to her Grandmother and then grabbed the woman, pulling her into an embrace. She wept as she held the old woman who’d meant so much to her.

"Hush child, relax. I know how much you miss me and I miss you too. But our time is short. Your young man is a strong wizard, the strongest that the world’s ever seen, but it’s taken most of his power to give you this gift. Let’s not waste it.

"There are things I need to tell you, important things. First and foremost, your young man, he needs you to be strong for him. Stand by him and he’ll remain true to you and the light forever, for his love for you is true and burns like a beacon in the night. Abandon him and he’ll sink into the depths of darkness. You are his magnet to the light. Without you, he will not survive to do what he must…"

"But, Harry? He’d…"

"Hush child, let me finish. The fates have given you both jobs to do and, if you succeed, your names will be recorded down through the ages like Merlin, Godric Gryffindor and Rowena Ravenclaw. You need each other. His life and yours are tied closely together. He has great power and great skill and you provide him with guidance and love. It’s your love that ties and binds him to the light and the path of right.

"To help you in this, you are given a gift, child. A gift I had, but kept secret. I meant to pass it to you and now I do so."

Her grandmother reached over and kissed her on the forehead. She felt a funny shock run through her and she experienced a moment of vertigo. Looking up at her grandmother, she smiled at the older woman.

"Oh child, I envy the extraordinary life you will have with your young man," her grandmother said, touching her cheek softly. "Together you will usher in a new age for the wizarding world. You will set an example that all will follow and your young man will give you a family to be proud of.   And with my gift, you will be able to guide him. You always had the talent, Hermione. Now I’ve awakened it within you."

"I love you, Nana," Hermione said as the room started to fade.

"Yes child, and I love you. Stay true to the light and your young man…" came the reply as if from a distance.

Hermione shook herself slightly and she slumped against Harry.   He put his arms around her, alarmed at her reaction.

Still in his arms, she shuddered and started to speak in a voice that wasn’t hers.



Harry gasped and hissed quickly, "Someone write this down!"

Both Luna and Ginny conjured parchment and quills and started copying. When they both nodded to let him know they’d managed to get it all down, he gently shook Hermione, breaking her from her trance. Still holding her, he searched her face carefully, concern for her shining from his eyes.

She turned and wrapped her arms around him. "Thank you, Harry. That was a priceless gift."

Both Ginny and Luna passed their parchments to Harry.   He looked up and nodded gratefully to them.

Hermione looked at one of the parchments in puzzlement.   "Harry, this looks like…"

"Prophecy, Hermione. Yes, I know," he replied.

"But where did you get this? Where did it come from? When…" she sputtered, confused.

"It came from you, Hermione, just now," he said softly.

Hermione shook her head, disbelieving.   When he nodded gently, and touched her cheek, she looked stricken and her eyes welled up with tears. Harry tightened his grip around her and tried to calm her.

Luna stood up and walked around the table to kneel next to the sobbing girl. "Hermione," she said firmly, "look at me."

Hermione looked up from Harry’s shoulder, surprised by the tone of command coming from Luna.

"Being a Seeress doesn’t mean turning into another Trelawney," Luna said calmly. "It means that once or twice a year you’ll give a real prophecy. It’s an uncontrollable talent that gets triggered by events around you. It doesn’t change who or what you are. My family has had three seers in the past one hundred years and every one of them loathed and later failed Divination."

Hermione looked intently at the younger girl for a moment, her tears stopping.

"Does that help?" asked Luna gently.

Hermione bit her lip and nodded.

"Good. Shed enough tears and you’ll attract a Tatampur.   They’ve been known to eat people," Luna said airily as she stood to return to her seat.

Hermione blinked and started to laugh.   Harry grinned, Draco rolled his eyes and the others started to chuckle.

Minutes later, Harry took the two parchments, folded them and put them away. Hermione looked at him curiously, so he leaned over to her. "You can look them over tomorrow.   Tonight’s a night for celebration," he whispered.

A Hillside Overlooking Liverpool, England, that evening…

Lucius Malfoy watched impassively as he ran a simple test on the city of Liverpool. With a nod of his head, his Death Eaters released twenty wizards. Each had been placed under the Imperius curse and given detailed instructions and some specialized equipment stolen from a British Military base.

This operation was different from the last. This one had been timed to the minute. Two controlled wizards apparated away. Three minutes later, the city of Liverpool plunged into darkness and the remaining seventeen wizards apparated to their targets.

Strangely enough, the first sign that anything was wrong in Liverpool came from purely commercial sources. British Telecom detected an outage in the circuit and was unable to make contact with their field offices using landline or cellular phone. A repair crew was dispatched from Manchester to check the lines.

A fishing vessel contacted the HM Coastguard and reported massive fires along the docks of Liverpool. A flyover at four A.M. by a HM Coastguard helicopter was sufficient to awaken the British Government.

Within half an hour, help was streaming into the stricken city, but people fleeing the fires hampered it. Special staging areas were set up to route the refugees into temporary areas, where relief personnel could help the injured and distraught. The British Government put the Military on high alert but by that point the attackers had either died in the assaults or had vanished without a trace.

Over the next several days it would be revealed that a systematic attack had taken place, first disrupting power, then communications, and then emergency services. Over seventy percent of Liverpool’s police and fire stations were destroyed within minutes of the power going out, then the hospitals. After that, the city seemed to burst into flame. Reports of black cloaked figures killing people by waving sticks at them were discounted as hysterical ravings of people maddened by fear.

The British Government convened an emergency session of Parliament and Military security was beefed up at key points in London. A quiet sense of panic descended upon the country as the Government could only offer vague theories about terrorists.

Hogwarts Library the next morning…

Hermione and the others poured over the prophecy, checking it against the many books in the library on the subject, while Harry prepared a letter to send to Remus with a complete copy of the prophecy.

Finally Hermione looked from her books and notes frowning. "I’ve taken this apart, and I hate to say this, but it isn’t pleasant.

"If I’m reading this right, it means that Voldemort must conquer England before he can be defeated. And before that happens, Harry must leave England. The part about the stronghold is confusing. Could it be Hogwarts? Or the Ministry? I’m not sure. But if this is to be believed, then things here in England are going to get a lot worse before they get any better," she said, slumping back in her chair.

Harry looked stunned. Leave England? Alone? Where would he go? The very thought of leaving his friends and Hermione behind made him tremble.

"NO! I won’t do it. I’m not going to leave the country and leave you to the mercy of that madman," he growled at her.

Hermione looked at him and her features softened. "Harry, it doesn’t say you have to go alone. Wherever you go, I go," she said firmly.

Harry looked at her for a long moment, then turned to his friends. "We need to make plans. Anyone that wants to keep themselves and their family safe will be welcome to join me. I’ll not leave my friends behind."

Ginny looked afraid. As a minor, and one belonging to a questionable family, she couldn’t go anywhere.

Harry took one long and knew what she was thinking. "I mean what I said, Ginny. I won’t leave you behind. If this is going to get as bad as it seems, kidnapping will be the least of our worries. Send a note to Bill, Fred and George. I want you to make arrangements for all of us to get together over the Christmas holiday. Draco, you’re covered for the holidays. Neville, bring your Gran, Susan will bring her Aunt, Luna her father and Terry his parents. I’ll not leave you guys in danger," Harry said intensely.

He turned back to his letter to Remus and wrote down their interpretation of the prophecy, asked him to double check it, and start making plans for a large meeting of people over the holiday. While he wrote, the others began writing their own letters.

Later that evening, Hermione went in search of Harry. His manner had been subdued all day and, when he didn’t show up for dinner, she became worried about him. She checked the Marauder’s Map, which he had given to her for safekeeping, then headed for the Room of Requirement.

Entering the Room, she was surprised to see him exercising his leg, pushing it harder than she had ever tried. He had tripled the weights on his ankle and she could see him straining with every movement.

Spotting her, he paused in his exercises and unsnapped the weights. He got up from the table and peeled down to a bathing suit, then sat by the edge of the pool.

"I’ve been an fool, Hermione," he said bitterly. "I’ve been so worried and concerned about Dumbledore and his antics that I’ve completely forgotten what I’m supposed to do."

Hermione transfigured her uniform into a single piece bathing suit and joined him by the side of the pool.   "What do mean?" she asked him gently.

"Voldemort," he replied, looking at the pool. "I’ve been trying to pretend he wasn’t there, that Dumbledore was my only worry. Your prophecy drove it home in all its harsh reality. I’m the weapon, but I’m not allowed to do anything until a lot of people die. Some weapon. Merlin, why can’t I just find him and get this over with one way or another?"

Hermione grasped his chin and gently turned his head until he was looking at her. "Harry, if you face him now, he’ll kill you!"

"So? How many people are going to die because I have to run away, Hermione? How many? Dumbledore isn’t stopping him, the Ministry isn’t… maybe… maybe I’ll get lucky," he said softly

She released him and turned away from him. "How can you be so cruel, Harry? Don’t you know how hurt everyone would be if you died trying to kill him before the time was right? Remus would be devastated. So would Tonks. I…" she stopped, unable to go any further.

"I’m sorry, I wasn’t trying to be selfish. It’s just so damn confusing!   I wasn’t thinking of others. Just myself again," he said, and then sighed, hanging his head in shame.

"When the times comes, I’ll stand by your side and you’ll do whatever it takes to get rid of that monster," Hermione said softly. Then she gasped as Harry’s head whipped up, his eyes flaring with magic and he gripped her by the shoulders.

"You’ll not be there, Hermione, so forget that idea right now. I don’t… I can’t… you can’t…" he stopped, at a loss for words. He pulled her to him, holding her gently, trying to convey the depths of his feelings.

She broke free from his embrace and pushed him to the floor, then straddled him. Staring down at him, she glared. "Harry Potter, you can’t stop me from being there. It’s my choice to make, not yours. You better get that through your head right now," she told him angrily.

Harry’s expression glazed and his hands ran gently over her back. She suddenly realized where she was and made a move to get up, but he pulled her down into his arms.

Harry didn’t want her embarrassment to break the embrace, so he rolled onto his side taking her with him. Lying side by side, he kissed her softly. His kisses grew more passionate and her ardor quickly matched his.

Harry’s mind whirled as her hands left a trail of erotic heat across his back. The feel of her soft breasts pressed up against his bare chest drove his desire higher. He ran both of his hands up into her hair and kissed her again and again. Gasping, he buried his head in her hair and trembled against her.

The temptation to move his hands to forbidden places was intense. There was a strange sensation coming from an unusual area and it was enough to give him pause, while Hermione slid a little lower to kiss his chest.

"Hermione?" he breathed into her ear, causing her to shudder delightfully against him.


Harry found it very had to talk with what she was now doing to him. She was laying soft kisses across his chest, her hair traced an erotic halo around the spot where she was kissing.

"Hermione, you do know what you’re doing, don’t you?" he asked, sucking his breath in and shivering.

She stopped and looked at him curious.

"Hermione, ummm… where is your hand?" he asked, unable to keep the grin off his face.

Hermione paused for a moment, then turned a bright red as she realized she had slid her hand into his swim trunks and was busy caressing his bum.

Embarrassed, she buried her head against his chest and pulled her hand out of his trunks as if it was touching fire.

He gently cupped her chin and lifted her head so she could see him. Aware of her actions, she was also extremely aware of his own arousal pressing up against her.

"No one has ever held me or touched me like that," he said softly. "I know you aren’t ready to take our relationship further yet, but please don’t be embarrassed or ashamed. You only did what I’ve been dreaming of doing to you."

"I can’t believe I did that," she mumbled, still embarrassed.

"Well, don’t look at me to tell you to stop next time. I’ll behave myself and keep my hands in acceptable areas, but I won’t stop you from exploring," he said, grinning wickedly.

She propped herself up on one arm, her hand under her chin. "What makes you think there’ll be a next time, Mr. Potter?" she asked trying not to match his smile.

He pulled her up to his level and she squeaked in surprise. He kissed her quickly. "Because I think you want me as much as I want you." Then he wrapped both arms around her and rolled the both of them into the pool.

Sputtering, she shot to the surface. "Oh Potter, I’m going to get you for that!" she said, and then laughed when he swam away from her.

A Meeting with McGonagall and Flitwick…

It was the first week of November and the entire school was tense. Rumors had been circulating about a rift between Harry Potter and the Headmaster and many of the older students were coming down on the side of Dumbledore. The schedule Board meeting was only fueling the rumor mill. The younger students, those in their third year and below, were generally too preoccupied with their own lives to care one way or the other.

After a week’s absence Snape was back with a vengeance. It was his first day back teaching potions and Harry felt the Professor try to breach his shields twice.

The first time he simply let the attempt bounce off his shields and continued making his potion. The second time he got into a staring contest with the greasy git. It would have lasted for the rest of the class had it not been for Draco nudging him to finish chopping up the mummy fingers.

Harry and Hermione had been summoned to Professor McGonagall’s office after dinner. Harry had an idea what the meeting was about, but for him, the key question was how much he could reveal without giving away too much.

Since their time in the Room of Requirement, Harry and Hermione had grown closer. They were also more aware of the each other’s boundaries and which ones could and could not be crossed safely. Both privately wished that the other would agree to take things to another level up.

Since they shared all the same classes, Harry stayed close to Hermione. She was becoming increasingly nervous being in the school and it was an attitude that Harry couldn’t blame her for. She took comfort from his presence, so he did what he could to help her.

Entering the Transfiguration office, they noted that both Professor Flitwick and Professor McGonagall were already there. Nodding to the two teachers, Harry closed and sealed the door, then cast several privacy charms on the room. He then took a seat next to Hermione and leaned his cane up against the desk. He had taken to wearing ankle weights all the time now, which tired his leg easily.

"Mr. Potter," Professor McGonagall said, "I asked you both here because I am becoming increasingly alarmed at what is occurring in this school. I have witnessed the Headmaster treat you both unfairly with behavior that borders on the criminal. I have seen my own House turn against its own members. Quite frankly, I’m sick of it and I’d like to know why this is happening so I can do something to stop it before the school explodes."

"Professor," started Harry, "I’d like to tell both you and Professor Flitwick about what’s going on, but I can’t.   Not yet, anyway. However, if you’d both be willing to swear a wand oath, I promise I’ll tell you what I can now."

Both professors looked at each other for a moment, then gave Harry their oaths. Both Harry and Hermione visibly relaxed when it was over.

"Professors, what do you know about the Prophecy that the Order of the Phoenix was guarding all last year?" asked Harry.

 "I know it was something involving you and V-V-Voldemort, Harry, but that is about it," Minerva replied, puzzled by his question.

Harry nodded. "Yes Professor, it did involve both of us, but it also explains why our illustrious Headmaster has seen fit to try to control my life the way he has," he replied, trying to keep his anger in check.

"I suppose it would be easier to just give it to you so you know what I’m dealing with. This will make things a bit clearer. Mind you, this is not the only thing that explains what is going on, but this is the one that started the ball rolling," he said softly.

Harry then leaned his head back, and closed his eyes. Hermione reached over and took his hand in her own.   "I can see it all like it was yesterday," he murmured. "Sirius had been dead for barely an hour when the Headmaster locked me in his office and revealed the real reason why he had hired Trelawney as the Divination Professor. She gave a real prophecy, the first of two, you see. He played the image of her in his Pensieve for me.

"…The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches... born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies... and the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not... and either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives... the one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord will be born as the seventh month dies....

"Can you imagine being fifteen and grieving the loss of the closest thing to a parent you have ever known and suddenly being told that you have the weight of the entire wizarding world on your shoulders? I should have been prepared, trained for this fight. But no, instead I was placed with muggles who hated me and treated me lower than the lowest house elf," Harry said softly. Then he opened his eyes and looked at them.

Minerva looked aghast.

Filius didn’t seem so surprised however. "I always wondered about that, Harry. Especially considering some of the things I’ve seen you do this year. You removed that ring from Miss Granger using a spell that shouldn’t have worked and I tried every dispelling spell I knew on it," said the diminutive Professor.

Harry smiled at his little Charms Professor. He truly liked and admired the man. "Yes Professor, I’ve been hiding some of my abilities, especially from our Headmaster. There’s a lot more going on here than I can tell you tonight, but you can see now why the Headmaster is so keen to keep me under his thumb. To him, I am his weapon, a tool for him to use. I refuse to be anyone’s pawn anymore," he replied.

"You saw what he wanted me to do, Professor," he said turning to McGonagall. "He wanted me to basically grovel before him and abandon the woman I love. I won’t do it. I’ll withdraw from this school, drop out like Fred and George Weasley before I’ll let him control me again."

Harry was starting to get worked up, but Hermione gently squeezed his hand, calming him.

"Harry," Minerva said hesitantly, "when you were bitten by that spider, I saw scars…so many scars on your body. Did the muggles do that to you?"

He nodded mutely and looked down. Hermione leaned over and put an arm about his shoulders before looking up at McGonagall.

"They did, Professor. It’s not something he likes to talk about. It took most of the summer for him to begin to come to grips with it," she replied quietly.

The two professors exchanged a look between them. Then Professor Flitwick spoke for both of them.   "How can we help you two?"

"Just knowing that you both believe I haven’t turned dark like so many others is help enough. But I am planning to have a get together over the Christmas holiday. There, I’ll be able to explain in greater detail what is going on, and what we have to do. Right now, we have not only one prophecy, but now a second one to deal with as well. There are things we need to do but I can’t make those plans here."

"Do you really think the Headmaster will allow you to leave the school over the Christmas holiday, Harry?" asked McGonagall in disbelief.

Harry looked up at her, his eyes alight with power and the very air around him seemed alive with magic. "Professor, he hasn’t the power to stop me from leaving the castle if I want to," the green eyed wizard said quietly. "Although it might be interesting if he tried."   And then he smiled, a cold, chilling smile.

Author’s Notes…

Yes, once again we deal with the dreaded Author’s notes. Its in this section that we poke fun at all our little reviewers that think they can trip us up and make us confess our deepest plot bunnies. Won’t work. Nope.

Harry’s annoyance levels are tiered. Fudge is at the bottom of his list right now and buffered by Amelia, so he’s not too upset with Fudge at the moment.

Pranks? Nope, not in this little dark fiction. This is DRAMA with angst. Unlike our other stories there will be little intentional humor in the story except for things like Harry’s t-shirts.

The board of Governor meeting will occur next chapter. It’s written. Something everyone has to realize. If we throw Ron, Snape and Dumbledore into prison then we have no story. Nope, we have to tease them into positions of advantage and disadvantage. We have things that have to happen in particular time frames and set ups to do. This is a twisted little trip we’re on and we have one rule for you. If you guess something is going to happen. Throw the guess out the window cause the odds are against it.

Someone seems to think that FF net will remove our story due to "chatty" A/N’s.   In a word…so?   Most of our A/N’s are in response to questions asked in reviews.   Occasionally, we’ll get off topic a bit.   However, if the system admins feel that a 30-40 page chapter with a 1-2 page A/N is a violation, there’s not much we can do about it.   Our A/N’s will remain as they always have.   If the story is removed from the system because of it, we’ll simple move it to another.   There are more than enough sites out there now that it’s not really much of a threat.   If you don’t like our A/N’s, simple scroll down, folks!   Or, if they’re that annoying, stop reading!

Sunset over Britain is not "slightly AU"…it is COMPLETELY AU.   Hope that clears things up a bit.

Jamie46: You can email reviews if you like.

Voldy good, Harry bad, Susan dead?   Excuse us a second, would you?   (Howls of laughter heard from off-screen)   Ahem, sorry about that.   Yes, yes you are absolutely right!   How truly amazing that you can read our minds so easily!   We are impressed!   Now, want to by a bridge?   (Wicked grins)

As far as the "uncanon" thing goes, we were talking more about specific characters and their behavior.   You’ll note that we didn’t change the name of the school from Hogwarts to Ball-Buster University.   The Headmaster is still a wizard named Dumbledore, rather than a Crumple Horned Snorkack named Bubbles.   Get it?   Hope that helps.

Pet Peeves!

Lack of Consistency. If there is one thing I hate is seeing an author that produces a 10K word chapter followed by a 2K word chapter followed by a 5k word chapter. Pick a rough size to your chapters and stick to it.

Every chapter of our stories averaged a minimum of thirty pages in MS Word. MINIMUM.

Be consistent in your writing. It’s annoying to find a wonderful chapter that’s huge, then you follow it up by a 3 word chapter. Bleh!

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