Content Harry Potter
  • Previous
  • Next

Standard Disclaimer:

Hermione steps out onto the stage wearing a full length formal gown and steps up to the podium. Harry, dressed in a tuxedo, approaches from the opposite side of the stage to meet her at the podium.

Harry leans over the microphone. "The authors would like us to tell you that they do not own any part of the Potterverse. And now that you understand that, the nominees for Stupid Git of the Year are, FEMA for it’s handling of the Hurricane Katrina, Ronald Weasley for his attempt to eat a plastic twinkie, and the Admins of"

Hermione squeals and tears at the envelope, then leans over the microphone showing a wonderful amount of cleavage. "And the winner is… Ron Weasley! Come on up here, Ron!"

The spotlight swings madly through the crowd and people jump to their feet applauding wildly. Ron, looking completely surprised, jumps from his chair and runs down the aisle. Climbing up the stairs to the stage, he turns and waves to the crowd before approaching the podium.

At the podium, Harry hands Ron a stick of dynamite with the fuse lit. Then Harry and Hermione walk off the stage while Ron looks at his award with admiration.

"I’d like to thank my mum for pushing me to be a butthead in this story, and my Dad for abandoning me, leaving me with psychic trauma from which I will never rec….BOOM!"

Sunset over Britain
Chapter 17

Hogwarts Infirmary…

Draco woke slowly from a deep slumber feeling as though he were clawing his way out of a deep hole and the effort of waking was exhausting. At the very edge of his senses, he could hear two distinct voices urging him to wake up. Both voices belonged to important people in his life.

He opened his eyes and a moment later he blinked as a moist cloth wiped the sand from them. Looking up, he could see his mother sitting next to him, gently sponging away his sleepiness. He tried to turn, but his shoulders felt heavy and unresponsive. Looking at his left shoulder, he spotted the large bandage encasing it.

"That will come off later today, Dray," Narcissa said softly. "Madam Pomfrey has immobilized your shoulder to help it heal for now, but by noon it should be fine."

"What happened, Mother? The last thing I remember seeing was Professor Snape standing over me, then he walked away and I could have sworn an angel came to me."

"I’ve been called a lot of things, but no one has ever called me an angel before," Luna said sadly from the other side of his bed. Draco turned to towards her, his face lighting up in a smile.

Draco looked at Luna and was struck by her expression. Something was clearly not right.   "Luna? What’s making you sad?" he asked of her. It tore at his heart to see her upset like this.

"Her father will be along later today. We have something important to discuss with him…and her, I’m afraid," Narcissa said softly. She watched the young woman with no small degree of affection and personally thought the emotional crisis the woman was experiencing was not as big a deal as Luna thought it was.

Draco looked between the two of them, confused. "Mr. Lovegood? But why? Will someone please tell me what is going on?" he pleaded.

The doors to the infirmary swung open and Luna bolted from his side, heading for the exit, crying softly. She tried to run past Harry and Hermione, but Harry, with his seeker reflexes, snagged her, pulling her into his arms where she broke down weeping.

Harry looked over at Narcissa and Draco. Draco appeared to be as confused as he felt. Narcissa stood and walked towards Harry. When she reached him, she gently pulled Luna from his embrace and into her own.

"Come, all of you, sit by Draco and I’ll see if I can explain this properly," Narcissa said as she walked back to Draco’s bed. Once there, she made a motion to Draco and he obediently moved over on the bed. Narcissa then sat Luna down on it. The young woman looked up wildly at Narcissa and shook her head violently. Narcissa looked meaningfully at Draco and he reached out to touch her cheek. She shivered, then stretched out next to him, burying her head in his shoulder, afraid to look at anyone.

Harry and Hermione sat on a nearby bed, looking to Narcissa for an explanation of Luna’s strange behavior. Narcissa gently ran her hand through Luna’s golden hair before she began to speak.

"Last night when you were attacked, Dray, two people helped save your life. Harry and Luna. Harry got you up to the infirmary where Madam Pomfrey could treat your injury. But you were still very badly injured and would have died if it were not for Luna," she said gently, still stroking her hair.

"Luna is a Child of Gaia. They have many unique abilities, but few are more unique than their ability to tie a soul. When a Child of Gaia marries, she usually ties to the soul of her mate. It’s similar to a soul mate, or a soul bonding done during a marriage ceremony, but it’s more profound. A soul tie means that, for a short time, the soul being tied enters the body of the Child of Gaia, intermixing the two souls. In a way, it’s almost like a Dementors kiss, as most of your soul leaves your body and enters the other person. The longer the Child holds the soul within her, the greater the mixing. When done, your soul is passed back into your body.

"In a few very rare cases, a Child of Gaia has saved her mate by forcing her mates soul to remain on this plane of existence. A soul tie is permanent. Once it’s been done, the two people have mixed their souls so completely that they are incomplete without the other in their life. While it’s not considered illegal in the eyes of the law, soul tying someone who isn’t your mate is considered the greatest breach of etiquette a Child of Gaia can commit.

"Last night, my daughter performed a soul tying, Dray. She bound your soul to hers, forcing you to remain on this plane and keeping your body alive until Madam Pomfrey could heal your injury. Last night she was more concerned with keeping you alive than what she was doing, but I’m afraid she’s realizing exactly what she’s done now," Narcissa concluded softly.

Hermione frowned for a moment, then her eyes lit up. "If I understand you, Miss Black, Luna has effectively married Draco against his will? And that’s why you’re calling her your daughter?"

Narcissa nodded. "It’s more profound than just marriage, Hermione. What Luna has done will prevent Draco from loving another woman other than his own family and children. That’s why, among the Children, its considered very bad form to do this."

Harry scowled and looked at Draco, who was staring at Luna with a strange expression on his face. Then he walked over the side of the bed where Luna was laying.

"Alright, Hermione is probably going to kill me later for this, but this little dance is so unnecessary. Draco, before the attack, would you say you loved Luna?" Harry asked intently. Everyone noted Luna stiffening in the bed and closing her eyes tightly.

Draco looked at Harry for a moment, his eyes hard. He didn’t like this line of questioning from Harry because it was hurting Luna. "Of course I loved her, and if you don’t apologize to Luna, I’ll peel you from your skin and use it as a rug!" he growled at Harry.

Harry ignored Draco, while both Hermione and Narcissa both broke out into great smiles. Harry knelt by the bed and touched Luna on the shoulder. She opened one eye and peered out at him.

"He loved you before you tied yourself to him, Luna. You might have skipped his proposal, but I think he would have gotten around to it sooner or later. He is a bit dense that way," Harry told the blonde girl gently.

She blinked in confusion. "Luna," Harry said softly, "he loved you before and loves you now. You’ve saved the life of a man who already loved you. Ask him your yourself, but I’ll bet a million galleons that he is convinced you didn’t do anything wrong. Plus if this means he gets to marry you sooner, he’ll be all for it."

Luna glanced up at Draco, who had wrapped an arm around her when he realized what Harry was doing. Draco gazed into those perfect sky blue eyes of hers and nodded as he smiled at her. He was surprised to feel that wash of emotions that normally assaulted him now came as a comfort. He could feel her uncertainty and fear…and her love. He tightened his grip on her and hoped she could feel something of his emotions as well. Then he colored as some of his baser emotions broke through. A moment later, Luna blushed as well and she smiled shyly back at him.

Harry stood looking at the two and smiling, then he turned to Hermione and Narcissa. "I don’t think we want them to wait too long, but is anyone adverse to a late spring or early summer wedding?" he asked cheekily.

Draco looked up at Harry and couldn’t help but smile. "Potter, you’re such a peasant!" he said fondly.

"Maybe, but this peasant has to admit to being a little jealous," Harry said, almost too softly to be heard. Hermione looked up at him in shock, while Narcissa’s eyes narrowed speculatively.

Malfoy Manor, Aberdeen and scattered points throughout the U.K…

Lucius Malfoy stood in his Master’s chamber. Next to him stood a muggle who he’d been priming for this moment for several weeks. Sweat trickled down his brow as he waited for Voldemort to notice him and his strange companion. The art of prevarication was not something that Voldemort was known for yet, tonight, it was necessary. Lucius had spent days explaining that to his Master. Tonight he would see if they could carry it out.

For the purposes of tonight’s little charade, Lucius had conjured several large tables with maps of the country on them. The muggle standing next to him, Sir Charles Worthington, DSC, Commanding officer of the Her Majesty’s 1st Armoured Division, stood at attention when Voldemort finally stood and approached the table. He snapped off a salute of such perfection, the likes of which can only be achieved by a lifetime of military service.

Voldemort nodded to the muggle. "Sir, thank you for the opportunity to show you our capabilities with this civil uprising simulation," said the Brigadier.

"The pleasure is all mine, General. If you would kindly explain tonight’s exercise?" asked Voldemort, slipping into the role of a visiting dignitary. Apparently the deference built into military command structure for the civilian authority appealed to Voldemort.

"Tonight, Sir, we will start by simulating a country wide power loss, followed by selected raids on key supply depots. The purpose of the exercise is to see if we can scramble enough security in time to defend the depots. Meanwhile, red team, Commandos from 16th Air Assault Brigade, will fan out to assault the depots, stealing material and commandeering transport to relocate selected supplies.

"If all goes well, Sir, elements of the 4th Armoured Brigade will provide security as our Blue Team."

Voldemort nodded and eyed Lucius. He had been unwilling at first to play along with this fancy little game of his, but the more the muggle talked, the more interesting it sounded.

The Brigadier checked his watch and nodded to a nearby Death Eater. To the Brigadier, the man was dressed in a normal uniform. At the nod, the Death Eater started placing small flags on the map. Others joined him, moving the flags to key locations.

"Sir, the exercise kicked off precisely at twenty one hundred hours with an act of simulated sabotage to a power station just out side of Aberdeen. This station is one of the key stations in the national power grid and, unfortunately, it has not yet been updated with new computer monitoring systems. We’re able to take advantage of that weakness…"

It started as a simple overload in the local power grid. A sensor reported the overload and a computer attempted to compensate by shunting power from another nearby grid. The second grid, unaware of the new burden being placed upon it, read the increase of power usage as another overload, which in turn resulted in more power being drawn from another interconnected grid.

In truth, this sort of failure had happened only a few times before, and never in the U.K. The original failure that started the whole process was caused by simple sabotage. The result was a cascading failure that rippled through the entire power grid of the United Kingdom in a matter of minutes. Within the first ten minutes, ninety percent of Britain, Scotland and Wales were without power and would remain that way for most of the day as emergency crews rushed around to switching stations to resetting the system.

In the ensuing chaos, it would be several days before the authorities noticed that certain military facilities had been robbed. And even then, most of those doing the noticing were under Voldemort’s control, so the thefts were mostly ignored.

Many hours later, Brigadier Worthington turned to Voldemort, his attitude was both elated and somewhat crestfallen. "Sir, it will take a few days for my staff and me to put together a clear report as to how well everything worked, but from what I can see, we had some successes and some failures. Several key depots where successfully raided and some were not. With your permission, I’ll go consult with my staff and start putting together that report for you."

Voldemort nodded and the Brigadier stepped back, snapped off another precise salute and left the room. Voldemort turned to Lucius. "Well?"

Lucius chuckled. "It went as I predicted, Master. Our muggle friend doesn’t realize he’s stolen enough material to keep their army running for quite a while. We have nearly their entire command structure, down to the company level, under our control. When the time comes, that fool will lead his army out to suppress a terrorist threat that he thinks has already taken over the government. Tonight’s little play was designed to make sure they’d have the supplies they need, and to show you exactly what they could do, my lord."

"So he doesn’t even realize that tonight’s exercise was real, did he?" asked Voldemort trying not to laugh.

"No, my lord. To him, this was all faked…some pretty lights, some flags on a map," Lucius replied.

"Excellent, Lucius! Excellent! Go see to the comfort of our muggle guest. I do believe he will turn out to a very useful slave for us."

Bowing, Lucius turned sharply and left the room.

 Lunch Time, Great Hall…

Harry and Hermione sat off to one side of their friends. Hermione had been distant since their visit with Draco that morning Draco himself had yet to be released and probably wouldn’t be until later in the day.

In the meantime, Tonks and several other Aurors were investigating the attack. It was a fact that was driving the Headmaster crazy. Dumbledore had been splitting his time between the Wizengamot and the school for weeks now, and throwing in an official investigation only compounded the demands on his time.

Harry watched Hermione eat. She sat stiffly, clearly upset about something if one knew what to look for.   And knowing what to look for was something Harry was striving to learn diligently. When he could take it no longer, he touched her on the arm, startling her. She jumped slightly, and then shot him a glare that spoke volumes.

Harry sighed. "Do you want to tell me what is bothering you or would you rather continue to stab me over and over with that glare of yours?" he asked, softly enough that only she could hear him.

She put her fork down, her hand trembled in anger. "Why are you jealous of Draco? Because he has Luna?" she hissed back at him.

Harry blinked at her for a moment in confusion. When he started to laugh, her eyes narrowed angrily. Tears streaming down his face, he laughed so hard he held his sides and nearly slid off the bench.   His laughter ended abruptly when he found himself staring down the business end of Hermione’s wand. He looked at the anger and hurt in her eyes and his own eyes narrowed. Using two fingers he gently pushed the tip of her wand away from his face.

"Hermione," he said loud enough for the rest of the Outcasts to hear, "I’m not jealous of Draco because of Luna. I’m jealous of the fact that he now has a very valid reason for marrying the woman he loves and not waiting. I doubt we could be so lucky."

There were several gasps around the table and both Ginny and Susan frowned at Harry. "No ladies, she isn’t pregnant," he told them. "But it’s their story, so I won’t tell it. Ask them when they show up at dinner."

Harry leaned over far enough to touch his head to Hermione’s. "I’m just jealous of what they can do, Hermione," he whispered.

Her eyes softened as she looked at him. "How come you’ve never wanted to talk about our getting married or having a future together before?"

Harry’s expression became guarded and his eyes darted to the others around them. The guys were occupied talking to each other, but Susan and Ginny were watching Harry and Hermione like hawks.

He tried to pull away from Hermione and signal to her that they’d talk about it later, but she was having none of that. Harry had put this particular conversation off for too long and Hermione had an expression on her that said it was going to happen here and now.

"Because it wasn’t fair to you, Hermione. How can I talk of marriage or a family when I still have to deal with Voldemort? How fair is it to talk of those things, to make plans, when I wasn’t sure I had a future? Sure, I have more power than he does, but he’s got over fifty years experience in dueling over me. He knows thousands of spells, and while I may be catching up, his experience is a powerful multiplier.

"I’d like nothing more than to rebuild Potter Manor in Godric Hollow and live there with you and raising a family. You’ve given me a reason to want very much to survive this war. Before our relationship, I didn’t have any such reason," he said, lowering his eyes.

She placed a finger under his chin, forcing him to look at her, and was startled to see unshed tears in his eyes. He was an intensely private man when it came to his own feelings. That he would shed tears in public shocked her.

Harry’s eyes locked with hers. "Is it wrong for me to wish we could do the same as they can, Hermione?" he whispered to her.

She shook her head, smiling at him.

Harry’s eyes became unfocused for a brief moment, then he refocused on her. A few minutes later, Hedwig flew into the Great Hall to land near Harry.

"You are so going to have to teach me how you manage that, Harry." remarked Hermione as he caressed his owl.

"Manage what?"

"Summon Hedwig like that."

"I’m not sure it’s something I do. Hedwig’s very smart and she always seems to know when I want to send a letter," he replied, and then he reached down into his book bag and pulled out a small package. Hermione leaned closer to see what he was up to. He attached the package to Hedwig.

"Take this to Remus, girl. If you’re tired, stay the night and come back tomorrow," he said to the owl. Hedwig blinked at him in acknowledgement, then sprang aloft with the small package.

"Do I want to know what that was all about?" asked Hermione.

"Hmmm? Oh, the package. That was the Basilisk parts we salvaged. I shrunk them down and I’m sending them to Remus. He’s going to have the hide turned into armor for all of us. He’ll save some of the parts and sell off or trade the rest. There’s enough hide in that box to make boots and a vest for every one of the Outcasts, plus the adults at Grimmauld. According to Remus, a one thousand year old Basilisk hide will be stronger than armor made from a Hungarian horntail. Lighter and more comfortable too."

"Trade? He’ll trade the parts for something?"

"Well, you know how hard it is to enchant an object strong enough that even a muggle can use it?"

Hermione nodded knowingly. Even the portkey he had made for the Grangers to go back and forth between their surgery had taken Harry nearly half a day to charge. There was no problem using a magical artifact with muggles, so long as another wizard or witch was lending their power to the object. But when the artifact was to be used solely by muggles, it required an extensive charging process.

"So what are you having made for my parents, Harry?" she asked, now really interested.

"Each will get a medallion to wear. It will act as a shield and a portkey. The moment the shield is activated, they’ll be portkeyed straight to Padfoot. Even if they had wanted to use the portkey that I had made for them, they couldn’t have. It was a timed portkey and wouldn’t go off for another three and a half hours. Also, I’m getting you a wristwatch similar to the clock the Weasleys have in the Burrow. It’ll let you know what condition your parents are in."

Hermione reached over and placed her hand on his arm. "You don’t need to do this."

"But I do. Yes, they are your parents, but someday…" Harry stopped and he flushed.

"Someday?" she asked softly.

"Someday I hope they’ll be my in-laws," he whispered.

Hermione eyes widened and she fought the urge to leap onto the table and show Hogwarts that the bushy haired book witch knew how to do a victory dance.   She squeezed his arm gently. "Why, Mr. Potter, are you proposing to me?"

Harry looked up at her and she could see him gathering his Gryffindor courage. "I think I am, Miss Granger. Not today, not soon, but yes, I think I am. I would like very much to make you Mrs. Potter."

"Well before you two start preparing for your upcoming nuptials, you might want to take care of this little matter first," said Professor McGonagall, interrupting them. She laid a package down on the table before them and Harry reached for it. Hermione was busy blushing and trying to stammer an apology to the Professor.

McGonagall smiled at her. "You should consider yourself lucky, Miss Granger. His father proposed to his mother in the middle of a Quidditch match. At least the both of you are sitting down. James was on the back of a broom, dodging a bludger at the time. He shouted his proposal to her in front of the entire school."

Harry looked up from examining the paperwork that the Professor had supplied. "My dad did that?" he asked, the admiration and awe was evident in his voice.

"Proposing on the back of a broom in the middle of a Quidditch match is NOT my idea of a romantic proposal," Hermione protested.

Harry looked crestfallen for a moment, "I guess I could have been more romantic as well, right?"


Harry snapped his fingers and his eyes lit up as his magic flared in him. "Alright. Forget about that proposal. I’ll do it right and give you a really romantic proposal. It may take a while, but I’ll get it right!"

Hermione looked at him with dismay. He had that look about him that usually signaled trouble ahead. She was perfectly willing to accept his first attempt, but nothing would sway him from his goal, the perfect romantic proposal. Ginny started choking on her drink and Susan pounded on her back.

McGonagall smiled in commiseration to Hermione. Ginny and Susan both had watched in awe as Harry first proposed half heartedly, then took it back with a promise of a much better one.

Ginny leaned over towards Hermione. "I thought you were smart, Hermione! He proposed and then you let him take it back while he works up a properly romantic proposal? Knowing Harry that could take years!"

Ginny groaned and started to pull on her hair. Susan nodded, her eyes sympathetic, and Hermione pushed her plate away from her so she could pound her head against the table.

Harry slid the package that McGonagall had given him to Susan. She opened the envelope to find the names and home addresses of every student in the school. She made two copies of the list and gave one to Terry.   The other would be sent to Narcissa.

Headmaster’s Office, Hogwarts…

"Come in!"

Dumbledore glanced up and then did a double take as he waved Nymphadora Tonks to a seat in front of his desk.

"Thank you for seeing me, Headmaster."

"Nonsense Nymphadora! Please, have a seat. Lemon drop?"

"No, thank you, Sir."

"So what did I do to deserve the honor of this visit, Nymphadora?"

"Headmaster, I am following up on my investigation into the attack on Mr. Black last night."

Dumbledore nodded sagely. "Yes, terrible business that. Most unfortunate that it should happen to young Mr. Malfoy."

Tonks’ eyes narrowed. "Mr. Black," she emphasized, "was probably injured on the stairway. He was attacked from behind. One thing he did report was that, before help arrived, he saw your former Potions Professor who, according to Mr. Black, made a comment, then continued walking, rendering him no aid whatsoever."

"Well Ms. Tonks, to be fair, my former Potions Professor, as you call him, had been fired only that day. The person who had been instrumental in that firing lay at his feet, and as a he was no longer a professor here at Hogwarts, he was under no obligation to render aid to the student," Dumbledore retorted hotly, still upset about Severus being fired.

Tonks eyed the Headmaster calmly before replying. "What you say is true, Sir, but I need to know how to get in contact with your former Potions Professor. He is a possible witness to the attack and I need to question him."

Dumbledore leaned back in his chair and peer over his glasses at the young Auror. She had certainly changed considerably from the cow eyed, clumsy student she had once been. She had even changed from the clumsy, star struck rookie Auror she had once been, but maybe he could still reach her.

"I might be able to help you, Ms. Tonks. In return, if you could see fit to help me with young Harry, I would appreciate it. It seems that he has gotten himself more heavily involved in Miss Granger than is prudent."

Tonks kept a straight face, but inwardly was completely shocked by what the Headmaster was suggesting. She waved a hand trying to dismiss this line of conversation but Dumbledore pressed ahead.

"I seriously doubt Miss Grangers parents would appreciate what their daughter and Mr. Potter have been doing. I would separate them myself, but there was that Ministry decree to put them into separate quarters, which we have done."


"In fact, I will be surprised if Miss Granger doesn’t show up in the infirmary one morning, pregnant."


"Since Harry refused to cooperate with me in the slightest way, I have been sorely tempted to contact Miss Granger’s parents, and yourself as Harry’s guardian, to put a stop to this foolishness."

"Headmaster Dumbledore! Is it your intention to see if I am willing to arrest you or not?"

Dumbledore blinked in surprise.

"Headmaster, I am not here to discuss the sexual habits of my ward and his girlfriend. I am here in my official capacity to investigate a crime, and at this point, I could rightfully bring you in for obstructing that investigation. Now I ask you, how might I get in contact with Severus Snape?"

"I am not fully cognizant of Mr. Snapes post-Hogwarts plans. However, you can be assured, Auror Tonks, that I will inform him that you need to speak to him should I see him," Dumbledore replied stiffly.

"Thank you, Headmaster. I’ll put out a detain-and-question warrant on Severus Snape. Right now, he’s wanted as a possible material witness. I strongly advise you to tell him to contact us as soon as possible when you see him next.

"As far as Harry and Hermione go, I can assure you that I will inform her parents of the issue as well as speaking to both of them. Good day, Headmaster," she said, standing and heading to the exit.

Leaving Dumbledore’s office, Tonks went to McGonagall’s. If anyone knew where she found find Harry and Hermione, it would be the Deputy Headmistress of the school.

Transfiguration Office…

Tonks was looking out one of the windows in the office when the door opened and Harry and Hermione slipped into the room. McGonagall looked at Tonks, who nodded in thanks, then she slipped back out of the room to return to her class.

"Sit, you two," Tonks ordered softly.

Harry and Hermione both looked at her questioningly, then sat. Without thinking, they both reached for the hand of the other.

Tonks tried to hide the smirk before she turned to face them. "Alright you two, I’ll be blunt here. The old man knows you’re sleeping together. That means I have no choice but to tell your parents this evening Hermione…before he does."

Harry paled and swallowed nervously but Hermione tightened her grip on his hand and lifted her head defiantly. "My parents already know. Well, my mum does, and she said she’ll tell my dad."

Tonks eyed the young woman suspiciously for a moment then relaxed slightly. "I’ll still have to talk to them, Hermione. I’m sure you can understand that."

Hermione nodded, while Harry looked as if he wanted to bolt for the door. Tonks glanced at him sympathetically for a moment, and then looked at them both again. "Alright, I don’t know how he found out, but you two should consider the possibility that he has some way you haven’t found yet of monitoring you. Lastly, Harry, you hurt Hermione and I’ll skin you alive before her parents can. Hermione you don’t want to know what I’ll do to you if you hurt him. I’ve never been a parent before and I’m still not sure I’d be a good one, but Harry’s like a little brother to me. Hurt him and I’ll hurt you. Simple enough?"

Both nodded at the young Auror.

"Good, now that I have that out of the way, I’m going on record as saying I’m happy for you both. I think you’re both made for the other. Remus and your parents might have problems with it, but as long as you two don’t have problems, I don’t have a problem. You’re both old enough to know what you’re doing. However, do not make me an Aunt just yet. Got that?"

Once again, they both nodded, though their faces were red enough to make her smile.

Harry’s eyes narrowed and became unfocused as he thought for a moment. Then he snapped his fingers. "House elves!" he exclaimed. "That’s how Dumbledore found out!"

Hermione’s eyes widened.   "Can we do anything about it?"

"I think so, we can’t keep the elves from coming to our quarters to clean and, frankly, I don’t care if the old man knows I’m sharing my bed with you. I’ll shout it from the Astronomy tower if you’d like. But there are a few other precautions we need to take," Harry replied.

Tonks looked at the two for a moment, then made a decision. She walked over to Harry and pointed a finger at him. "Alright you, out. Time to run for a bit. I want to talk to Hermione, girl to girl, and you just don’t fit the description."

Harry blinked in surprise and gathered up his books.

Tonks watched him walk from the room before turning to Hermione. "So what’s this I hear about you messing up big time with Harry today? Ginny told me you went off your trolley today…said you made a real shambles of things."

Hermione’s expression changed to disappointment and she sighed heavily. "Ginny isn’t far off the mark about that. Harry made a halfhearted proposal today and, when I mentioned he wasn’t very romantic, he took it back, promising he’d do a more romantic one next time. Ginny’s trying to tell me that ‘next time’ could be years from now."

Tonks snorted in amusement and leaned up against the desk, eyeing the younger woman. "Oh, I wouldn’t worry about Harry too much. He’ll spend some time talking to people and thinking about it, then he’ll pick a way and ask you. Which is far better than I can say for the wolf I’ve been chasing," she finished with a sigh.

"He does love you, Tonks," Hermione offered.

"I know he does sweetie, but his Lycanthropy is the biggest stumbling block. Do you remember back during the summer when you and Harry had that fight about him not wanting you to get involved with him?"

"Yes. He didn’t feel he was worthy of me and, since he had to face Voldemort, he didn’t want me grieving after he was dead," Hermione said sadly. "I told him he didn’t have the right to make that sort of decision for me and I’d stick by him no matter what happened."

"I’ve said the same thing to Remus, but he isn’t willing to listen to me."

As Tonks spoke, a glimmer of an idea burst into Hermione’s brain like a rocket.

"Tonks, I don’t want to get your hopes up, but I have an idea…"

The Chamber of Secrets…

Harry stood in the exact center of the Chamber of Secrets and looked around. The Chamber had undergone a major renovation in the past few weeks. Gone were the snake statues and the large foreboding carvings. The ceiling echoed the Great Hall, with its fancy skylight charm. The Chamber had been greatly expanded and, even though the renovations were not yet complete, he felt it was time to put some necessary touches on it now. With Hermione busy with Tonks, he had the time necessary to come down here and cast the spells he needed to cast.

The last of the snake shaped sconces had been replaced with more ordinary looking sconces and even though things still responded to parseltongue, they also now responded to regular spells like a ‘Torca Ignis’.

Satisfied that everything was in order, Harry pocketed the parchment strip he had already made up and then he glanced at the ceiling. Good, he thought. Dusk approaches, always a good time to cast a permanent charm, during the last fading light of day.

Standing with his legs slightly apart he lifted both hands as if to clasp both of them in prayer.   "Securus Falsus dissumulo fidelita Harry Potter!" he said loudly.

His hands flared briefly, then the light traveled up his arms and into his body. From his body the light wave passed down through his feet, hitting the Chamber floor.

From the floor, the light swept through the room. The spell he’d cast wasn’t an ordinary Fidelis charm. This one not only hid the location of the room, but its very existence from everyone not privy to the secret. Anyone who had actually visited the Chamber in the past would remember that it existed, but not how to find it. People could be sent to the Chamber via portkey, but unless they knew the secret, they would forget ever being in it once they left. They wouldn’t forget what happened there, they just wouldn’t remember where they had been.  

Up in the Great Hall, dinner was had just been served and, for a brief moment, there was a complete pause in the noise level as everyone halted what he or she was doing. Hermione halted as she lifted a slice of roast from the platter. She frowned for a moment and shook her head, then placed the meat on her plate.

At the Head table, Dumbledore and the other staff members paused for a moment, then continued again with their dinner as if nothing had happened.

Great Hall, Dinner time…

Twenty minutes later, Hermione looked up in relief when she spotted Harry limping to his seat next to her. He had his cane out and his leg was obviously bothering him again, which meant he had been up to something. As he sat down, he handed her a slip of parchment.

"Read this, memorize it, then pass it to the person next to you."

Hermione looked at the slip of parchment in confusion. "The Entrance to the Chamber of Secrets can be found behind the Head Girl’s bed in the Gryffindor Head Suite. Harry Potter is the Chamber’s Secret Keeper."

Hermione experience a wave of dizziness as the secret wiped the block from her memory and she looked at Harry in confusion for a moment before it sank in. Then she nodded and handed the parchment to Ginny.

"So that explains why you’re limping so badly," she murmured.

Harry nodded and grimaced. "I’m afraid so. On the other hand, I figured that since you were busy with Tonks, I could get that taken care of. I used your modified version of the charm and it seemed to work fine. I wonder what Voldemort will say when he discovers that even he can’t enter the Chamber anymore. Won’t that be an insult to the Heir of Slytherin?" He glanced up to see all of the other Outcasts grinning back at him. The thought of denying the Heir of Slytherin what he considered his birthright somehow tickled their fancy.

Terry handed the slip of parchment back to Harry, who pocketed it. He would have to see that Professors McGonagall and Flitwick got a look at it later.

"Are we going to need an extra therapy session tonight, Harry?" Hermione asked, the concern written all over her expression.

Harry looked down at his plate and sighed. "I’ll just soak longer than usual tonight. I’ll be fine. There’s been no improvement since shortly after Christmas. Even then, the improvement has been negligible. I think we’ve reached the limit of what therapy can do." The disappointment was evident in his voice.

Hermione looked disappointed.

"No improvement, yes, but you’ve strained the leg badly today. If you don’t let Hermione help you with it, later tonight your leg will be so badly cramped you won’t be able to walk. I honestly don’t understand why you always try to make it seem like it’s less than it really is." exclaimed Ginny.

Harry stared at her in shock.

"What?" she asked acidly. "Do you think we don’t notice how you always seem to put other people’s troubles forward and downplay your own? Look, Harry, we’re your friends. All of us have at least some clue of what kind of life you’ve led and understand why you do it. But just once I’d like to see you say, ‘Gee, you know what? My leg is killing me. Hermione, could I get your help with it?’ She wants to help you and every time you make her fight you for it, it hurts you both. Maybe the therapy won’t help improve your leg anymore, but her massaging your leg will help ease the pain. And Hermione wants to ease your pain."

Harry blinked at the petite redhead.   She had been a bit put out with him over his prank on Neville the other day but, by the same token, even she admitted it was a decent prank. What she was saying made a lot of sense.

"Hermione?" he asked softly. "I don’t think the exercises are helping anymore, but I’ll never turn down your massages, especially on a day like today when my leg hurts."

Then Harry did something he had only done once before. He reached out and gently touched Hermione’s aura. Over the link, he sent her a silent apology, as well as a gestalt of his feelings for her, and then he carefully broke the link. Like before, breaking the link was harder than creating it. It almost seemed like she fought him over the connection.

Hermione leaned against him. He wrapped an arm around her and she seemed to shudder with an intensity that was nearly orgasmic. Hermione closed her eyes relaxed into a pleasant afterglow.

It was hard to describe the sensation, it was orgasmic, but it wasn’t. Harry had done that only once before and she vowed that tonight she was going to talk to him about it when they were alone. In that brief instant of connection, he managed to convey a soundless apology that was beyond anything mere words could have conveyed.

The three other female Outcasts were looking at Hermione jealously. If this was something Harry could do, maybe he could teach it to their boyfriends…

Dinner at Grimmauld Place…

Tonks leaned back in her chair and sighed. Sometimes there was nothing better than the feeling of a full stomach after a long day of fruitless investigation. Emma was sitting next to Dan working on the daily crossword puzzle. It was something that Tonks could not understand. Even Hermione enjoyed working on those little muggle games, but they seemed too much like schoolwork to her.

Dan read his newspapers. Every day he’d scan the papers and if he found anything that remotely sounded like it might be Voldemort related in the muggle news, he’d show it to Remus and they’d bring it to Harry’s attention.

"Anything interesting tonight, Dan?" asked Remus.

Remus was coming to enjoy the after dinner conversations with Dan and Emma immensely. The Grangers offered insight into the muggle world that he lacked and, surprisingly, he found himself thinking of Dan as a friend. Perhaps not as close as Sirius or James, but a friend nonetheless.

"It seems as though some parts of the Government took your message serious, Remus. According to the Times, the Royals will be embarking on a world tour in early April, ostensibly to escort the Crown Jewels on a museum tour. First stop will be Washington D.C., followed by New York, Toronto, Calgary, Sydney, that sort of thing. According to the article, the immediate Royal family, except for the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, will escort the collection.

"Add to that an announcement that the Royal Navy will be participating in a joint exercise with the Yanks, also beginning in April, and it sounds like someone might have listened to you."

Remus nodded, satisfied that something was happening. It had been a while since they’d delivered the message to the Prime Minister and he had begun to worry that nothing was being done.

"Now that you two have discussed the state of the realm, would be alright to bring up a subject that is a little closer to home?" asked Tonks.

Both men looked at her in surprise. Usually she never had much to say during these conversations, instead preferring to use the after dinner time as a way of de-stressing from her day. Both men nodded and Emma looked up from her crossword puzzle.

"I had an interesting conversation with Dumbledore today concerning the investigation into the attack on Draco. He wasn’t very helpful and suggested that if I help him, he might be able to help me. Then he offered me some information that he hoped would upset me and, I think, make me more agreeable to helping him."

Now she had everyone’s attention. She reached into her pocket and pulled out a five-galleon coin and slid it across the table to Emma.

Mrs. Granger’s eyes widened and she grinned brightly.

The two men looked between Emma and Tonks in puzzlement.

"What’s going on, Emma?" asked Dan.

"If I may?" asked Tonks

Emma nodded, still grinning. "This show’s all yours."

"The Headmaster hit me with some news today, and threatened to tell you and Emma about it, Dan. That’s why I’m even bothering with this now.   If he does tell you, it won’t come as a total shock. Your daughter loves Harry."

Dan leaned back in his chair in confusion. "I know she likes him, maybe even loves him, and he is crazy about her. But why would that be a shock?"

"No Dan, Hermione loves Harry. Literally, figuratively, biblically…in every sense," Tonks said, trying to maintain a straight face. Men could be so dense sometimes.

Dan’s brows furrowed for a moment, then his expression darkened. His hands crumpled the newspaper he was reading and his arms trembled.

"Daniel, knock it off! This shouldn’t come as a surprise to you. In fact, I’ve been expecting this for weeks now," Emma said hotly.

Dan turned to look at his wife in shock. "Weeks? And you didn’t tell me?"

"I didn’t tell you because I knew you would be acting this way. You have no right to be upset with either of them. He’s sixteen and she’s seventeen. You and I were both fifteen when you convinced me to do it. Our little girl has been trying to work up her nerve to convince Harry to take their relationship to that level since before Christmas."

"She’s convincing? Where is her sense?"

Emma growled in the back of her throat and grabbed her husband by his head, forcing him to look at her.

"Aren’t you listening? She’s in love, Dan. The worse part of this for her is she’s had to play the aggressive role here. Harry won’t do a single thing to her without first hearing her say he can. Personally, I find it rather refreshing that a sixteen year old male is not only capable of controlling his hormones, but he respects my daughter enough that he refuses to make a move on her!"

Dan’s eyes narrowed again. "Wait a minute. You knew this was going to happen and bet with Tonks over it?"

Emma had the grace enough to look sheepish for a moment. "Well, it wasn’t really a fair bet. We made it before the attack on us both. I don’t think Tonks would have made it afterwards.

Now Dan, I know this is going to be hard, but if you ever want to share my bed again, you’ll not give either of them a hard time over this. I mean that. Even if she decides she wants to sleep in his bed, you’ll leave them be."

Dan cringed and nodded to his wife. Remus smiled at his friends discomfort.

"What are you smiling about?" demanded Tonks, poking Remus in the chest. "What goes for Dan, goes double for you!"

Remus swallowed nervously and looked around quickly for a way of changing the topic. "Umm… Say Dan, I have to go to Padfoot tomorrow, would you like to join me? I have several errands I have to run."

Dan glanced at Emma nervously before turning to Remus. "I’d love to help, Remus."

The Pentagon, Washington D.C., Mid Afternoon Same Day….

The intercom buzzed for a moment, then a burly hand reached over and flipped a switch. "Yes?"

"Admiral, CINCLANT is on the STU, Sir."

"Thank you, Casey. I’ll take the call," he told his aide.

The Admiral picked up the handset attached to the strange bulky telephone. There was a moment of electronic noise on the line as the two units negotiated for a moment.

"Mike is that you?"

"Rusty! So what have you done with my fleet this time that you’re calling to apologize about?"

"Aw man, you’re never going to let me live down the fact that I parked one of your boats off the beach of the Newport Nudist Colony’s World Volleyball Championship and had it video taped?"

"It’s not exactly standard practice to use a Los Angeles class submarine so you could produce a ‘training film’ for the fleet."


"Oh alright, I’ll stop yanking your chain. I know you never gave that order and it really was just a broken rotor that landed the Chicago there for the twenty-four hours. So Mike, what can I really do for you?"

"Sir, it’s these new orders concerning the joint exercise with the Royal Navy. You do realize this looks a lot like Red Europe, that simulation we ran back in ’82?"

The Admiral sat up in his chair and flipped a switch on his desk that locked his door. Red Europe was a classified war game that had been run a number of years ago in which the scenario allowed for the Warsaw Pact to achieve dominance in Europe and what militaries that could, managed to evacuate to the United States and Canada.

"That’s exactly how you are going to treat this, Admiral. Is Atlantic Command up for the challenge?"

"Jeezus, we’re ready Mike, but you realize you’re telling me this is a bug-out of the entire blue water component of the Royal Navy?"

"I know what your orders are saying, Rusty, I cut them myself after speaking to the NCA. Requisition what you need to get the job done. I want total security for this. I don’t want to find out about it on CNN."

"Aye aye, Sir. We’ll handle it."

"Thanks Rusty, I knew I could count on you. Send my best to Helen, will you?"

"Will do, Mike. I’ll be in touch."

The connection on the STU broke off and the Chief of Naval Operations placed the handset back on its cradle. Then he turned to look out his window and shook his head. The United States Navy would be playing host to the Royal Navy and it’s nuclear deterrent in order to prevent them from falling into the wrong hands during a coup attempt. And if necessary, would destroy said force in order to prevent it from falling into those hands.

Meanwhile, sixth fleet was coming home from the Med and the seventh fleet was heading at high speed into the Atlantic in order to be in position to provide evacuation for those Americans who might get caught up in the turmoil of a coup attempt. The sixth fleet would take up station off the east coast and make sure that no British Warships sailed from an American port once they docked.

 Hogwarts Library, later that evening…

"Five minutes ‘til curfew, Mr. Boot," Madam Pince told the Ravenclaw.   "I’d suggest packing your things and leaving…now."

"Yes, Ma’am.   Thank you.   I must have lost track of time," Terry replied.

He stuffed his homework into his book bag under the watchful, disapproving stare of the irritable librarian. Throwing the bag’s strap over his shoulder, he rushed from the library, mentally kicking himself for not watching the time.   He was supposed to meet Susan in the Room of Requirement after curfew, but he had wanted to finish his homework first.

Rounding the corner and heading for the staircase, he didn’t notice the shadows converging on him.   Placing his foot on the first stair, he was suddenly yanked backwards and spun around.   His book bag went flying, scattering his homework throughout the hall. Before he could register what was happening, someone kicked him hard between the legs.   As his knees buckled, he leaned forward, and a fist grazed his temple, dazing him further.

Someone grabbed his hair and pulled his head back so far he thought his neck would snap.

"Tell Potter to come out from behind his wards and play," a voice growled in his ear.   "If he doesn’t, the next friend of his we catch will get it much worse than you!"

His hair was released.   Leaning forward, he gasped for breath and blinked, trying to clear his vision as he stared down the staircase in front of him.   Placing both hands on the floor, he began to push himself up when he was suddenly kicked in the back.   The force of the kick, and his own momentum propelled him down the staircase.

Blackness engulfed him, but not before he heard the snapping of bones breaking. His last conscious thought was that Susan was going to be upset with him for being late.

The shadowy forms watched the Ravenclaw for a few moments, waiting to see if he moved.   When footsteps were heard behind them however, they scattered.   Most fled down the staircase, making no effort to avoid stepping on or kicking Terry as they rushed passed.

Irma Pince rounded the corner and noticed books and parchment scattered throughout the hall.   Her lips thinned and she scowled. She’d always felt that students couldn’t be trusted with books, and this was a prime example!

Glancing around the hallway, she found no one to explain the mess.   Reaching the staircase, she paused in her descent and frowned in puzzlement.   There was something at the bottom of the stairs.

Drawing her wand, she cast the light spell and gasped at the crumpled form below her.   She rushed down the stairs, her heart pounding in her chest.   She may dislike the students and the way they treated her books, but that didn’t mean she wanted to find one dead at her feet!

Bending down, she paled when she saw the face of Terry Boot.   The boy had just left the library!   Unwilling to leave the injured student and not knowing what else to do, she pointed her wand at her throat.

"Sonorus!" she all but shouted.   "Help!   I need help on the landing of the third floor staircase!   I’ve found an injured student!" she cried out, her voice greatly amplified.

Canceling the spell, she leaned down to peer at Terry.   "Hang on, Mr. Boot.   Help will be here soon, and I plan on having words with you about your treatment of my books!"

Room of Requirement…

Harry heaved himself out of the pool and stood up.   He caught the towel Neville tossed him and smiled his thanks.   They were running a bit behind tonight, but his leg had been bothering him earlier and his massage had been painful, and the swimming helped ease some of the pain.

Draco watched as Harry dried himself with the towel and shook his head despairingly.   "You know, Potter, there are quicker ways to dry yourself, and we are in a hurry.   Susan’s been chewing her nails for the last twenty minutes, waiting for us to leave," he drawled.

"I have not, Draco!" the Hufflepuff in question said indignantly.

"Oh, so I guess you wouldn’t mind if we all sat down and played a game of Exploding Snap while Potter waits to dry off?" he asked.

"Leave her alone, Draco," Luna said, twirling her hair into a neat bun and holding in it place with her wand.

Draco threw up his hands and gave up.

"I’m sorry, Susan.   I wasn’t thinking," Harry said, sheepishly.   Dropping the towel, he reached over to his clothing and pulled his wand out of his robe.   Before he could cast the drying charm however, Ginny cast it on him first.   He thanked her and quickly tossed his robe on over his swim trunks.

"Have we got everything?" Hermione asked, looking around the room.

"That should be it," Ginny said.   "Have fun, Susan!"

"Tell Terry hello for us, and that we missed him tonight," Hermione added, following the others to the door.

"Don’t get caught when you leave the room later," Harry warned.

"Thanks everyone.   I’ll see you all tomorrow," Susan replied, a faint blush staining her cheeks.

Hermione, the last to exit the room, closed the door behind her and moved to Harry’s side.

"I never would have thought Susan would ask for the use of the Room of Requirement," Ginny giggled.   "She can be so straight-laced sometimes."

"Terry’s a good influence on her," Neville said quietly.   "They’re good for each other."

"She’s just lucky her aunt likes him," Harry teased.

"That’s one way of making sure he doesn’t take advantage," Ginny laughed.   "When your aunt’s the Director of the MLE, your boyfriend’s bound to be on his best behavior!"

"Oh, is that what he’s going to be doing tonight?" Draco asked, an expression of mock-surprise on his face.   "How silly of me.   I’d assumed they were going to have sex."

"Draco!" Ginny, Hermione and Luna all exclaimed.

"What?   Am I wrong?" he asked innocently.

Heading down the staircase to the sixth floor, they all froze when a voice cried out. "Help!   I need help on the landing of the third floor staircase!   I’ve found an injured student!"

"Come on!" Ginny shouted, pulling her wand and charging down the stairs.

"Ginny, wait!" Hermione cried.   "Remember Filch?   This could be a trap!"

Ginny stopped. Pale and shaken, she looked at Hermione.   "I didn’t think about that."

They moved forward cautiously, Draco and Harry probing ahead of them, scanning the stairs for any nasty surprises someone might have left behind. When they came to the fourth floor landing, they found books and parchment scattered everywhere.   Harry’s eyes narrowed as he saw the torn book bag near the stairs.

Reaching the third floor landing, they found Madam Pince, Professor McGonagall, the Headmaster and Madam Pomfrey all gathered around a limp form on the floor.

"What happened?" Neville asked quietly.

McGonagall looked up at the students on the stairs and frowned.   "Where did you lot come from?" she demanded.

"My therapy, Professor," Harry replied, watching Madam Pomfrey work on the still form below.   "Who is it?"

"Terry Boot," the Professor said, scowling down at Poppy.   "He’ll live, but he’s pretty banged up."

"Susan!" Hermione cried.   "Someone has to get her."

Before anyone could gainsay the idea, Ginny spun and sprinted up the stairs and out of sight.   McGonagall opened her mouth to deliver a scathing remark, but closed it and sniffed in annoyance.

"I need to get him to the infirmary.   He’s lost a bit of blood from the scrapes, but not enough to worry about.   The broken wrist and cracked skull need to be tended to, however," Madam Pomfrey said.

"Is it serious?" the Headmaster asked.

"Nothing I can’t fix.   He’ll have a blinding headache come morning, but the bones should be mended by then.   What I’d like to know is how he ended up down here."

"As would I," Professor Flitwick puffed as he rushed up the stairs.   "Oh Terry, my dear boy!"   Kneeling, the Ravenclaw Head of House cringed when he saw the blood on the student’s face.   "He’ll be all right, Poppy?   Truly?"

"He’ll be fine, Filius.   We just need to get him to the infirmary," the Medi-witch told him gently.   "Come, you can levitate him there yourself."

"Terry!" Susan cried, nearly flying down the stairs.   "Oh Merlin, what happened?"

Dumbledore stopped her headlong flight and held her arm while Flitwick levitated Terry onto the stretcher Madam Pomfrey had conjured.

"That’s the question of the evening," Dumbledore said.   "Don’t worry, Miss Bones. Madam Pomfrey says he’ll be fine.   You may follow them to the infirmary, but only if you promise to stay out of their way while they tend to him."

"Yes, Sir!   Thank you," she sobbed.   When the Headmaster released her, she rushed after the Medi-witch and Professor Flitwick.

"Did any of you see anything?" McGonagall asked, watching the student’s carefully.

"No, Ma’am," Neville said, watching the stretcher disappear down the next staircase.   "Harry had finished his therapy and we were heading for the stairs when a voice started yelling for help.   We rushed down the staircase, but Hermione reminded us that we needed to be careful, after what happened to Mr. Filch and all. So we slowed down and Harry and Draco checked the stairs in front of us to make sure they were safe."

Dumbledore looked up and glanced between Draco and Harry, his brow furrowed. He had thought he had put the rumors about how Filch had died to bed. Obviously he hadn’t succeeded.

"And Susan?" McGonagall asked.   "Why was she not with you?"   When no one spoke, she scowled.   "Well?"

"She…umm…well…" Neville stammered.

"Terry and Susan were going to spend some time together tonight," Draco replied calmly.   "They haven’t had much time alone lately.   They’ve both been busy with their studies."

"Oh dear," Dumbledore murmured, his eyes twinkling.

McGonagall scowled.   "Very well.   You lot, get back to your common rooms.   Now.   And no detours!"

A chorus of "Yes Ma’am" echoed across the staircase as they all rushed off before she could ask any more embarrassing questions.

"There’s a mess on the landing above, Professors," Madam Pince said.   "It looks like Mr. Boot’s book bag tore open."

"Come, let’s check the stairs and the landing above," Dumbledore said, drawing his wand.

The three spread out, casting detection charms on the stairs as they climbed, looking for any clue as to the cause of the accident.   The reached the landing without finding anything.

Scowling once more, Madam Pince eyed the books scattered on the floor. "This is why students should not be allowed to check out books from the library!" she exclaimed.

Lowering his wand after scanning the landing and finding nothing, Dumbledore smiled at the annoyed librarian.   "Why don’t you pick them up and take them back to the library, Irma?   I don’t imagine Mr. Boot will be up to much studying for a few days."

"I’ll do just that, Headmaster," she replied, the relief in her voice evident.   She continued to mutter to herself as she levitated the books into a neat pile.   "If you’ll excuse me, I’ll just go file these way."

Dumbledore fought a smile.   "Of course.   Good night, Irma."

"Headmaster, Professor," the librarian said, nodding her head at them before disappearing up the stairs with her precious books.

"Albus," Minerva said quietly, looking around the hall.   "Two accidents involving stairs?"

"I know, Minerva.   I don’t understand it either.   This time, however, it seems to be a simple accident," he replied, flicking his wand and gather up several pieces of parchment.

"This time?"

"What?" he asked, turning to face her. "Oh, it’s nothing.   I misspoke myself." When Minerva continued to stare at him, he smiled vaguely.   "Do you wish to help me gather Mr. Boot’s belongings?"

"What’s going on, Albus?" she demanded, flicking her own wand absently, gathering up more papers.

"It’s nothing, my dear.   I’m simply tired and a bit overwhelmed by yet another accident on school grounds."   Bending down, he picked up the torn book bag and mended it.   Then, picking up the notes and homework he’d gathered, he flipped through them idly as he dropped them into the bag. As another paper fluttered down into the bag, the Headmaster froze for a moment, and then glanced up at Minerva.   Seeing that she was busy collecting the rest of the paper, he quickly copied the remaining notes in his hand and stuffed them into his robe before dropping the rest into the bag.

He walked to Minerva’s side and held the bag open while she dropped the notes she’d collected into it.   "That should do it.   I’ll just take these up to the infirmary for Mr. Boot."

"Albus, perhaps we should be looking at putting alarms on the stairs…something to let us know when there’s an accident like this.   Had Irma not been here…"

"Harry and his friends would have found the boy, Minerva.   This was an accident, nothing more.   The boy was probably in a hurry to meet Miss Bones," Dumbledore replied, his eyes twinkling once more.

McGonagall’s gaped at him, unable to understand why he was being so naïve. "But Albus…"

"Now, now.   You have rounds to complete and I need to talk to Poppy about the boy’s condition.   We will talk no more about this, Minerva," he said gently.   Turning way from his once trusted colleague, he walked calmly down the stairs, not looking back.

Minerva watched him walk away and scowled.   With no other options open to her, she continued her rounds.  

Headmaster’s Office, the Same Night…

After visiting the infirmary and dropping off Mr. Boot’s book bag, the Headmaster returned to his office.   Seated behind his desk, he pulled out two pieces of parchment and flattened them out on his desk to examine more closely.

The first parchment contained what looked to be a list of the names and home addresses of students.   He wasn’t sure what to make of it, but couldn’t think of a single reason for Mr. Boot to have such a list.


"Prophecy?" he muttered to himself.   Reading it through several more times, he nodded.   It sounded like a prophecy, thought he couldn’t think of who had given it.   Sibyll Trelawney was the only seer he was aware of, and he was monitoring her at all times.

"Bastion of the light?" he murmured quietly.   "But does that mean Hogwarts, the Ministry or…?" He sighed.   "Perhaps Severus can help."

Gryffindor Head Suite…

Hermione awoke to find the bed empty. She looked around in confusion before spotting the source of her inner anxiety. Harry stood in front of the window looking out on the northern courtyard and a small slice of the lake. Hermione threw on a robe and padded softly over to stand slightly behind him.

"What’s bothering you?" she asked softly. She could see his hands tightly clenched into fists, leaning up against the windowsill.

"The attacks are coming faster now. Me, just before the holiday, your parents, Draco and now Terry. I’m sure some of this is that old goat’s doing. But some are just students confused by the lies that have been spread around. I don’t know how much longer I’ll be able to hold myself in check," he whispered, and then hung his head for a moment before whirling away from the window.

"I want to rage against them, but I don’t even know who I want to rage against. I punished Dumbledore and Snape for their little adventure with me before the holidays. I killed the Death Eaters who attacked your parents. But who attacked Draco? Who attacked Terry? Or was it just an accident?   My friends are being hurt around me and I get there too late to stop it!" he snarled, then he looked down at his hands in frustration.

"You can’t protect us all, Harry. They all knew that when they made their friendship with you obvious at the beginning of the school year. I knew that when Remus came to our house, begging for us to come help you," she replied, trying to soothe some of his anxiety.

"I know that. I just… Merlin, I don’t like this. Give me an enemy I can fight!" he said in exasperation, running a hand through his hair.

Hermione moved so she was standing in front of him. He looked at her questioningly as she reached up and caressed his cheek softly. "I know you’re frustrated, but there’s little anyone can do, but stick to your plan...stick to your plan and support our friends as best as we can," she replied quietly, then she took his hand and led him back to bed. Morning would come all too soon and they needed their sleep.

Slytherin Common Room…

It was very late and all of Slytherin house was asleep.   None heard the sound of the common room door banging shut.   Few could help but hear what came next, however.

"Up, my children!   We have much to do before dawn!   Everyone come to the common room, please," the voice of Sibyll Trelawney boomed throughout Slytherin House with the obvious aid of the Sonorus spell.   "Hurry now, my dears.   We haven’t much time."

Ten minutes later, everyone member of the House stood in the common room, staring at Trelawney with varying degrees of disbelief, disgust and confusion.   She stood before them, her hair in disarray, dressed in a ratty bathrobe and wearing a pair of fuzzy slippers resembling dogs.   They barked, those slippers, every time she took a step.

"Are we all here?   Excellent.   Now listen, my children.   I have had a vision…a terrible vision.   I have seen the fall of Slytherin House. Yes, I have seen its destruction!" she exclaimed dramatically, pacing before the assembled students, her slippers barking and her hands waving.   "But with this vision came our beloved House’s salvation!"

"What with the ‘our beloved House’ bit?" Pansy Parkinson whispered to Blaise Zabini. "The woman’s been our Head of House for a matter of days, yet she speaks as though she’s always held the position.   She’s not even a Slytherin!   She’s barking."

"No, I believe those are her slippers," Blaise murmured back.

"Changes must be made, my dears, and they must be made before dawn!" Trelawney proclaimed.   "We must work quickly, for there isn’t much time left.   All of you go get your school robes and scarves and return to me here.   Hurry now, off you go."

With much muttering, they did as they were told.   When the common room was once again crowded with students, now carrying the items their Head of House requested, they stood and watched warily as she paced before them.

"It’s the colors, you understand," she said frantically.   "Slytherin’s colors are the root of all the problems that have plagued this house for centuries.   But we shall change that tonight, my dears.   Oh yes, Slytherin’s destiny will change tonight!"   Reaching into the pocket of her robe, she quickly pulled out a Slytherin scarf.   "As of this moment, Slytherin colors will no longer be green and silver."

At her pronouncement, the room erupted into shouts of disbelief and refusal.   The students were shocked that she would even suggest such a thing.

"Blaise!" Pansy hissed.   "You’re a prefect.   Say something!"

"Quiet!" Blaise shouted.

The students turned to him with hopeful eyes.   Surely, as a prefect, he could explain to the daft woman why such a thing should not happen and, thereby, put a stop to the madness.

"Professor," Blaise began, "I’m sure you thought you had a vision, but perhaps it was simply a nightmare.   Green and silver were the colors Salazar Slytherin chose for his House. We would dishonor him and his vision for his House by changing them."

"He was wrong," Trelawney declared, drawing herself up to her full height.   "My vision was true, but I don’t expect one who does not have the sight to understand such things."

She stared at the young man, her eyes huge behind her glasses. "Oh my dear boy," she continued sadly, "your fate has been revealed to me.   Death stalks you, and will take the form of a dark haired, blue-eyed woman.   Heed my warning, so that you may know her and escape the agonizing death she brings." She shook her head suddenly and blinked.

"Now, then.   As I was saying, Slytherin colors will no longer be green and silver."   She held up the scarf and, with an awkward flick of her wand, cried out, "Novo Coloro!"

The students watched as the green and silver stripes of the scarf seemed to shift and change position, becoming silver and green.   A bit puzzled, they looked back at their Head of House, who tucked her wand away and held up the scarf in triumph.

"You see?   No longer will the House colors be green and silver, but gray and forest," she said, shaking the scarf at them.   "You all have the incantation, so make the changes to your own scarves, then your robes.   Hurry, my dears, we haven’t much time."

Draco watched his housemates as they stared at the batty Divination Professor as though she were a new species of insect they had just discovered and weren’t sure if they should squish beneath their shoe.   In truth, none of them could see the difference between the ‘old’ colors and the new.   All she had really done was rearrange the order of the stripes and change the names of the colors.

If the daft woman wanted him to change the order of the colors on his scarf, it mattered little to him. Slytherin House was simply a place for him to store his things and a bed to sleep in.   The pride he’d once felt in being part of it was gone, replaced by indifference and a faint hint of disgust.   With a shrug, he drew his wand and quickly did as she asked.

"Excellent, Mr. Black," Trelawney said, beaming at him.   "I can already feel the karma of our House changing.   Ten points to Slytherin for you! Hurry now, everyone.   Follow Mr. Black’s lead.   Change your scarves, then your robes."

With much grumbling, they did as she asked.   A few, such as Crabbe and Goyle, needed help, but it only took a few minutes for the changes to be made.   Once done, Trelawney stood before them once more, looking grave.

"You have done wonderfully, my dears.   Now, I want the prefects to make the same color changes to the common room.   While they are doing so, the rest of us will re-arrange the furniture.   It’s all wrong.   The flow of positive energy has been blocked and we must correct this."

Over the next several hours, students moved furniture about the room as directed by their new Head of House.   She waved her hands about, spouting gibberish about karma, Feng Shui, energy flows and the fate of ‘our beloved House’, all to the chorus of her yapping, barking slippers, until their eyes glazed over.   Many of the younger children fell asleep on the stairs, leaving the older students to do the heavy work.

When it was over, Trelawney looked around the room, pride shining from her eyes.   "We have done it, my dears.   Slytherin shall survive!" she announced grandly.   "And just in time.   Dawn is here, but we have finished our great work.   Now then, get cleaned up and get yourselves down to breakfast."   With that, she picked up her scarf, flipped it around her neck rather dramatically, and marched from the room, her back straight, her head up, and her slippers barking.

The students looked about their ‘new’ common room in a daze.   Despite hours of changing the colors of the banners on the walls and rugs on the floor, despite shoving couches here and chairs there, the room looked exactly as it did before Trelawney set them to molesting the furniture.

And now, according to the gray and forest colored clock on the wall, they had thirty minutes until breakfast started, and a full day of classes to look forward to.   It was going to be a long day for Slytherin House.

The Great Hall Breakfast…

The Outcasts watched in amusement as Luna transfigured Draco’s cereal bowl into a pillow and he sunk into a sound sleep upon it. He had briefly explained Trelawney’s late night excursion into Slytherin house and what she wanted them to do.

Harry tried hard not to laugh for Draco’s sake, but it was hard not to. He’d had three years of Divination with that crackpot and knew full well what she was capable of doing in the name of her ‘craft’.

Harry leaned back in his seat and the front of his robe billowed open to reveal a new T-Shirt. Ginny looked up in interest.

"Let’s see it, Potter," she growled playfully.

Harry winked at her and pulled his robe open enough to read the shirt. "The ugly fairy must have kissed Voldemort on both cheeks!"

Ginny’s eyes widened and she snorted orange juice through her nose. Neville was torn between helping her and laughing, while Hermione rolled her eyes at Harry. She never saw the shirts when he put them on, he’d just appear wearing one and it was beginning to drive her nuts.

Meanwhile, Draco snored softly next to a platter of bacon, Luna hovering near him, protecting him from something called she called ‘Meepcreeps’.   Everyone was there, except Susan, who was upstairs visiting with Terry.

Everyone was still waiting to hear more about what happened to him last night and when he’d be released from the infirmary. Harry was willing to bet money that it had nothing to do with Meepcreeps.

Minerva McGonagall looked up from her breakfast and surveyed the hall. Her practiced eye could usually spot trouble before it began. But there was no trouble today. Three Houses ate their breakfasts, while Slytherin slept in theirs. She fought a brief battle between a smirk and a frown before the frown won. She’d heard what had happened to Slytherin House from Rolanda Hooch, who had been complaining about some of the younger children who’d shown up exhausted and dead on their feet for an early morning flying lesson.

She turned to Dumbledore. "Headmaster, about Professor Trelawney…"

"Yes, yes, I am aware of it, Professor. Let us see if this one incident is an isolated thing, or part of a larger problem before we take steps," he replied, waving his hand in dismissal.

McGonagall glanced over at the Slytherin table again and sighed. Those children would be absolutely useless in class today! And wasn’t that Pansy Parkinson sleeping in a bowl of oatmeal? The vain girl would be mortified when she woke up wearing her breakfast.

From his end of the Gryffindor table, Harry looked up in surprise when Susan walked in and went to her seat, followed by Tonks. His expression darkened and he nudged Hermione.

"So, it wasn’t an accident, was it?" he asked of his guardian.

Tonks shook her head. "No, I’m afraid it wasn’t."

Susan reached over and placed a hand on his arm. "There’s more, Harry. Terry didn’t see who attacked him, but at least one was a guy who said, ‘tell Potter to come out from behind his wards and play,’ and that if you don’t, ‘the next friend of his we catch will get it much worse than you’.

Tonks watched for a moment before she left and approached the Head table. It was time to inform the Headmaster that another attack had taken place.

Harry stared down at his plate for a moment. Hermione looked up in alarm as the air grew heavy and oppressive in the Great Hall. Suddenly there was a deafening crack, sounding like a clap of thunder.

Most of the Slytherin students fell from their chairs to the floor in surprise. Harry looked up from his plate. Hermione gasped in awe. The amount of magic she could sense in him was stronger that anything she had ever felt before. His eyes blazed with power and the stone table literally rippled like water in a pond under his hands.

He smiled to reassure her, but there was no sense of the magic lessening, in fact it seemed to grow.

"What are you going to do?" she asked in small voice.

"They want me to come out an play, that’s exactly what I’m going to do.   I don’t think they’ll like the results, however" he replied, and then his expression softened again. "Don’t worry. I won’t do anything stupid."

She smiled back at him worriedly. His power level had surged again, that much was obvious. This time though, it wasn’t receding, and that was different.

Authors Notes:

Well it’s time for the dreaded Authors Notes again and this is the first set since we got our arses kicked off of Do we have anything nice to say about them? Nope, but we’re not going to spend a lot of time complaining about them either.

Normally our Notes are driven by the reviews, but we don’t really have any reviews this time.

We’d again like to thank Jeconais for his help in bringing you this story. We may be in a new spot, but we’re not giving up! Also, a big shout goes out to all our loyal readers who’ve found us here. MMMMWWWWAAAAA!!! We love ya!

Pet Peeves:

Do I really need to say what I’m peeved about with this chapter? Do I really need to say it? Bet you can guess it!

  • Previous
  • Next