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Ronald Weasley creeps silently onto the stage and looks around nervously. The lights come up revealing Albus Dumbledore and Severus Snape wearing thongs and dancing to a disco beat in hanging cages above Ron’s head.

Ron nervously holds up a sign saying, "Bob and Alyx want you to know that they own nothing of the Potterverse. It all belong to JK Rowling."

Ron puts the sign down and looks around, breathing a sigh of relief. As he does, the lights shift slightly to show Harry, Hermione, Draco, Ginny, Neville, Luna, Susan, Terry, Bob and Alyx sitting in the front row holding submachine guns. Ron swallows nervously and a puddle appears at his feet. Harry shouts "FIRE!", then the stage vanishes and a message floats in your screen. "Please standby, we are experiencing technical difficulties."

Sunset Over Britain
Chapter 12

Hogwarts, Entrance Hall…

Minerva McGonagall left her apartment to take her early morning walk. She always enjoyed the Christmas Holiday. Usually there were a few students around and, on more than one occasion, she had gotten to know some of her students much better in the relaxed atmosphere of the holiday at school.  

This morning’s walk was interrupted when Mr. Filch caught up with her.

"Professor McGonagall! You must come. I don’t know what to do to help them," said the surly caretaker.

McGonagall arched an eyebrow at his insistence, but followed him anyway. Filch led her into the great Entrance Hall and she shivered slightly from the cold. She pulled her cloak about her tightly and looked at Mr. Filch enquiringly.

"Up here, Professor McGonagall," came the tired voice of Headmaster Dumbledore.

Looking up she spotted both Professor Snape and Dumbledore stuck to the ceiling. She fought down the urge to burst out laughing.

"My word! Albus, what happened to you? How did you get up there?" asked McGonagall breathlessly.

Before Dumbledore could respond Snape cut in. "That arrogant Potter brat did this to us yesterday evening and we can’t dispel the charm!"

McGonagall frowned. "Potter assaulted you? But didn’t he leave on the Express? This is unheard of, Headmaster. I’ll contact the Aurors at once and we shall get to the bottom of this. We cannot allow students to assault faculty. No, it just isn’t…"

"Professor, please. Aurors are not necessary. Right now what is necessary is trying to find a way to get us down," Albus said in a pained tone.

McGonagall hid a smirk. If he doesn’t want to call in the Aurors then he was probably doing something and Harry caught him at it again, she thought. Why did Harry come back to the castle? Or was it a case of him never having left in the first place?

Several minutes later, Minerva tucked her wand away and sighed. "I’m afraid I’m unable to dispel the sticking charm, Headmaster. I’ll send a message to Filius. Maybe he’ll have better luck."

"Send a message?" asked Snape ominously.

"Yes, Professor. Filius decided to spend some time with his family this year, so he’s currently in London.

Now, Mr. Filch," she continued, turning to the squib, "have a few house elves bring the Professors some food and keep them warm. The draft from that door is quite chilly."

Snape began to curse loudly and struggle against the charm.

"Oh do be quiet, Severus," Dumbledore said tiredly.   "The charm will undoubtedly wear off soon. Your comments will not hasten that process."

McGonagall left the stuck duo and made it all the way to her apartment before she burst into laughter.

Grimmauld Place, That Same Morning…

Harry awoke to one of the best smells in the world. Bacon. He cracked on eye open to find Hermione waving a slice under his nose. Dobby stood next to the bed holding a heaping tray of food for him.

Stretching carefully, he sat up. Dobby placed the tray on his lap while Hermione moved to a seat next to his bed. She then reached out and grabbed a slice of bacon from his tray.

"Haven’t you eaten yet?"

"I had something, but I was waiting for you to get up. Oh and Danni said she would let you have some breakfast before she gave you a look over this morning. So eat up, until she checks you out, you’re stuck in that bed."

"Well, that wouldn’t be bad if you were in here with me," he replied with a smirk.

She laughed and slapped him on the arm. "Oh, you’re a bold one this morning, Potter. I can just see explaining that to my parents. Now eat."

"Oh, right, probably not a good idea," he said, grinning wickedly for a moment. "I hope Danni’s in a good mood today. I want to get to Diagon Alley today and I suspect that our friendly healer’s going to have something to say about that."

"So how are you feeling this morning?"

"Fine, just fine."


Harry sighed and looked down at his breakfast. "Alright, I have a headache still and my leg is throbbing like mad. But what do you expect, Hermione? I was thrown down fifteen feet into a locked cell. And I suspect our resident healer will yell at me for putting my leg through so much yesterday."

"You have that part right, Mr. Potter," said a voice from the doorway.

Harry looked up to see Danni and Tonks entering the room.

Danni gave Harry a potion for his headache and warned him to avoid any sudden movements for another day. She wanted to see him in a few days to see if anything more could be done for his leg.

"Tonks, I need to get into Diagon Alley today. Do I need an escort or is it alright if I just go?" Harry asked.

Tonks frowned for a moment, then she shrugged. "I’d prefer that you didn’t go alone, Harry. If you can wait an hour, Remus and I will go with you."

Harry nodded, then decided to broach another subject with her. "Tonks, about last night. I’m sorry…"

"No Harry," she said, waving a hand at him. "You were right to say what you did. I shouldn’t have pushed that hard."

"Pax?" Harry offered with a smile.

"Pax!" Tonks replied smiling back as her hair changed to a bright blue.

Harry watched Tonks and Danni leave the room before turning to Hermione. "Would you like to come with me to Diagon Alley? We could sort of make it a date. I have some Christmas shopping to do and some business at Gringotts. Hey! You can visit Gringotts and check out your new vault with the money taken from the Weasleys," he offered.

Hermione sat for a moment, thunderstruck. She hadn’t thought about that money since the hearing. Then another thought occurred to her and she scowled at Harry.   "I can’t use that money. It was taken from your vaults," she exclaimed.

"Oh, don’t bother yourself over a few galleons. Use it to buy yourself some books and some Christmas gifts for your folks."

Hermione shook her head at him and vowed to have a serious talk with him about money one of these days.

Harry chuckled to himself and promised he’d have a talk with her about money one of these days.

The Burrow…

Ginny stepped out of her bedroom and checked the hallway before heading to the stairway. Since her arrival at the Burrow last night, the tension in the house had become almost unbearable. As soon as she sat down at the dinner table, both her mother and Ron had started lecturing her about her choice of friends, and it had quickly become an exercise in temper control for her. On more than one occasion she’d come very close to hexing everyone at the table.

Her father was the one she’d been most disappointed with. His soft-spoken ways and moral values had been the linchpin of her upbringing. To know that those values had been little more than a deceitful act wounded her deeply.

Entering the kitchen, she ignored the glares of both her mother and her brother as she poured herself a bowl of porridge. She knew she only had to hold out for a while.

Ron scowled. "Mum, you’ve got to talk to Ginny. You won’t believe who she’s been whoring herself with," Ron said venomously.

"Oh, and you would know all about whoring wouldn’t you, Ronald?" spat Bill Weasely, standing in the doorway. He crossed his arms and glared at his brother.

Ron and Molly whirled to face Bill. "Billy, hush now. You haven’t any idea what Ginny has been doing. Besides, your brother was unjustly punished," said Molly primly.

"No, perhaps I don’t, mother. But I do know which side of this family has lost its honor and which side still maintains it. Percy was right about you all," Bill retorted, glaring at his mother and brother, daring them to reply.

"Bill! You don’t know what…"

"Enough! Your son assaulted a woman who we considered to be part of this family. Doesn’t that mean anything to you? What about the Life Debt this family owes Harry Potter? Yet you have been treating him like dirt!"

"POTTER! I’m sick of hearing that fucking bastard’s name!" Ron shouted.

He shoved his chair away from the table, stood up and stormed out of the kitchen, leaving Molly facing Ginny and Bill alone. From the living room came a muffle yelp and the sound of something heavy hitting the floor.

"What are you doing to Ron?" screamed Molly.

"Fred and George are showing him the error of his ways, Not that we really think it will do any good, but it makes us feel better," Bill said with a slight smile. Then he turned to Ginny. "Are you ready?"

"I just have to get my trunk, Bill. It’s upstairs," she told him, grinning widely.

"Well, go get it, Gin. I’ll finish my conversation with dear old mum here," Bill said, turning back to the older woman and frowning.

Molly moved to block Ginny but Bill stepped between them. Ginny looked between the two nervously for a moment, then whirled around and ran for the stairs.

"I’m ashamed to be a Weasley, Mother. Your actions and your acceptance of our brother, the would-be rapist, are a stain on our family’s honor. Where is the honor you raised us with? Where are the ethics you instilled in Fred, George, Ginny and myself? Has our entire life been a lie?"

The sound of her hand meeting his cheek was as loud as a clap of thunder. The silence that descended on the kitchen was deafening.  

Bill reached up to touch his cheek where his mother had struck him and his eyes turned hard. "I’m taking Ginny with me. She’ll stay at my place. You’ve had your one shot and I’ll not leave Ginny here to be abused by you and Ron," he said coldly.

He turned around and left the room and Molly was left alone, shaking with anger.

In the living room Bill saw Ron trussed up and spinning slowly like a top. Fred and George were busy casting delayed action charms and hexes on his various body parts as he spun.

Ginny came down the stairs, dragging her trunk behind her and Bill smiled at her.   Taking the trunk from her, he led her over to the fireplace.   With a nod to the twins, he threw a pinch of floo powder into the fire.   Within moments, he and Ginny were gone.

With a glare, George sent a final delayed charm at Ron, then tucked his wand away and moved towards the fireplace.   Fred joined him a moment later and they used the floo to return to their shop on Diagon Ally.

Diagon Alley…

In the end it took more than a single hour, but Harry, Hermione, her parents, Remus, Tonks and two additional Aurors met up outside of the Leaky Cauldron to go to Diagon Alley. Everyone was wearing their concealment cloak. Draco had opted to stay at Grimmauld Place with his mother.

Harry had one piece of business he needed to take care of before he could start his Christmas shopping. Entering the Alley from the back of the Leaky Cauldron, he made a beeline for Gringotts with everyone following him.

Inside, he pushed back the hood on his cloak and walked up to the nearest Goblin. "Excuse me, Sir, but can you direct me to where I might find Rotfoot, the Property Manager?" he asked.

The goblin smiled toothlessly. "Follow me."

They were led to an interior office containing a high desk. The room was austere, save for a single complex tapestry on the wall depicting a combination of Goblin Runes and Runes from other species.

Behind the desk was an aged Goblin who peered down on them from his desk.   "I am Rotfoot, Property Manager. How may I help you?" he asked.

"Ah, Rotfoot. I would like to have the following properties set up under an interdiction," Harry said, handing the Goblin a parchment.

Rotfoot blinked in surprise and then recovered. "Ah… Sir…"

"Lord Harry Potter-Black," Harry offered with a closed grin.

"My Lord, we have not interdicted any properties since the 1500s," protested Rotfoot.

"But surely you still have the capability, yes?" pressed Harry.

"Well yes, my Lord, we can…"

"Very good, Rotfoot. How soon can you get the interdictions set up?"

"We can have them in place by the end of the month, my Lord. Is there any other business I might be able to help you with today?"

"Can you make account changes?" asked Harry.

"Not directly, my Lord, but I can see the account changes routed to the proper department."

Harry handed Rotfoot a parchment. "I’d like a one million galleon account set up for each of the individuals on this list. Preferably, I’d like the account vaults to be located at the Stonewall Lane branch. Also," he paused and turned to Hermione. "What’s the number of the vault you were assigned?"

Hermione looked at him for a moment. "Vault 1081. Why?"

"We’d like the contents of the Potter Family and Black Family vaults, as well as vaults 1081 and vault 679 transferred to Gringots on Stonewall Lane," Harry said.

Rotfoot rocked back in his chair as if he had been slapped in the face. Lord Potter-Black had just asked for the relocation of nearly half a billion galleons!

The goblin nodded weakly and quickly scribbled a note, which he dropped into a basket. The note vanished in a bright flash of light and, a moment later, another appeared.

Rotfoot picked up the note and scanned it briefly. "My Lord, Ragnok, the chief executive of Gringotts, would like to have a word with you and your friends if you don’t mind. Meanwhile, your account changes have been routed to the appropriate department and should be completed by the end of the business day."

The door opened and another goblin appeared. They were quickly led to a plush office with a large conference table. After taking seats, another goblin appeared with tea.

After the tea was served, Ragnok, chief executive officer of Gringotts world wide entered the room.

"Ah, Mr. Potter. It is an honor to finally meet one of our most distinguished depositors," Ragnok said smoothly with a polite bow before sitting at the head of the table.

"The honor is all mine, Ragnok," replied Harry with another small smile.

"I am curious Mr. Potter…"

"Please, call me Harry," Harry said interrupting him.

"Very well, Mr…ah…Harry. I’m curious. You made a number of requests of us today that we find somewhat alarming. It’s not unusual for a family vault to be relocated to another branch. But when that comes with a request to put fifteen manor houses scattered throughout Britain under an interdiction, an act usually reserved for times of war, it piques our curiosity."

Harry glanced at Remus. He had tutored Harry extensively on Goblin culture, but this was a situation not covered in those lessons. Remus shrugged in response. The situation was too unique to offer any substantial advice.

Harry decided at that moment to take an approach of honesty. "Ragnok, I assume it’s safe to say that anything I tell you is covered by Gringotts usually efficient confidentiality?" he asked.

"Of course."

"Very well, then. We’ve come across a prophecy that specifically states that four or five months into the coming year, Lord Voldemort will win supremacy here in Britain. With that in mind, I am protecting those assets that I cannot move by placing the manors under an interdict. The vault contents are being moved for the same reason. I pray that the move will be temporary and I will be able to return everything to my rightful vaults, but I must take steps."

Ragnok clasped his hand together in front of him, his eyes closed.   "How reliable is this seer, Harry?" he asked quietly.

Hermione bristled, but Harry stayed her anger, placing his hand over hers.   "I owe this seer a life debt, Ragnok. I trust her implicitly and would lay down my life to protect her. In addition to this particular prophecy we have a second, from a non-human source, confirming parts of it," he replied in a serious tone.

"Very well, Harry. You have done Gringotts a great service and we, too, remember our debts. We shall, of course, take steps to begin relocating all our floating accounts, as well as increasing security around the vaults of the other great families," Ragnok said with a toothless smile.

"That is all any of us can do, Ragnok. As always, I appreciate the service provided by you and your people. May you find safety within your ancestors halls," Harry said, concluding the meeting with the ritual goblin blessing.

Ragnok’s eyes widened in pleasure as he stood up and he bowed low, acknowledging the blessing. A moment later, a goblin arrived and they were led from the room and escorted to the doors of the bank and out into Diagon Alley.

After spending several hours shopping, Harry stopped in front of Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream shop and held up a hand imperiously. As one, they skidded to a halt and Harry threw back the hood on his cloak.

"Look folks, I know there’s a specific reason for the body guards, but do you think it would be possible, if just for a little while, my girlfriend and I can have half a date without the entire Brotherhood sitting at the next table?" he said, exasperated.

Remus and Tonks started laughing, while Hermione pushed her own hood down and managed to look embarrassed.

Then Harry pulled out the big guns...Puppy dog eyes. Giving the adults a piteous look, he waited for them to decide.

Emma finally shook her head and chuckled. "Alright, you two. We’ll be back here in an hour. And I’m sure Tonks will be somewhere nearby. I doubt seriously that you’ll get into much trouble alone in an ice cream shop for an hour."

Harry and Hermione took seats inside the shop while the other adults, still laughing walked off to various shops to burn an hour.

"Harry, what’s this all about? We’ve had plenty of time together at school and I’m sure we’ll even have some time together during the holiday, since we’re all staying in the same house." Hermione asked, perplexed by Harry’s behavior.

Harry shook his head in dismay. "I don’t know much about relationships, but I thought it would be nice to make sure we have some time for us. Oh, I’m not talking about sneaking off to snog each other, as fun as that is, but time for us to do things. You know… couple stuff…"

Her expression softened and she eyed Harry, a bit bemused. "Couple stuff?"

He nodded. "You know, dates. Going to the movies, or out to eat. Maybe take a walk in the park. I still want to kiss you until your toes curl, but I thought it would be nice to do other things too. I’d like to be able to sit down and talk about things other than our problems or our plans. Things are going to get real crazy in the next few months and I want to make sure there’s always time for us. Am I making any sense?"

She reached across the table and took his hand. "You’re making a lot of sense."

He frowned for a moment. "I think your dad’s starting to worry about me. Have you seen the looks he’s been giving me?" he asked her seriously.

Hermione laughed. "He won’t be to hard on you, Harry. He knows Mum and I would never forgive him. But it might be a good idea to talk to him when you can."

Ministry of Magic, Misuse of Muggle Artifacts Office…

Arthur Weasley sat in his chair, uncomfortable and out of sorts as he thought about the last few months. Since the summer, he’d had an uneasy feeling about what was going on in his life. His family seemed to be fracturing and his wife and youngest son had turned into near strangers. And when Ron assaulted Hermione, he’d felt a deep abiding shame that one of his sons could treat a woman so badly.

To top it all off, his sweet, loving wife had become a complete shrew in the last few years.

With a sigh and a last glance at the clock, he stood and went to the office floo to return home. With a flash of green flame, Arthur stepped out into the Burrow.

"Arthur! You aren’t going to believe what those sons of yours have done!" screeched Molly as he stepped out of the fireplace.

Arthur walked to his chair, dropped into it heavily and listened to Molly rant about Bill, Fred and George. Then she began to complain about the spells that had been cast on Ron and how she had spent most of the day trying to dispel them.

Rubbing his tired eyes, he made a decision.   He couldn’t do this any more.   Standing, he brushed past her and walked back to the fireplace.

"Arthur, are you listening to me?" Molly asked, obviously annoyed.

"No dear, I stopped listening to your ranting years ago," Arthur replied, his lips pressed into a firm line.

"Well?!? What do you plan to do about William? He took Ginny!"

"What do I plan to do? I plan to apologize to my children. I don’t know you any more Molly and I don’t care to. Doesn’t what Ronald tried to do to Hermione bother you in the slightest?" he asked angrily.

"She probably asked for it, running around in those tight fitting muggle clothes. Everyone knows how bad they can be. It was just a misunderstanding that she blew all out of proportion!"

"Oh really? And what about Harry Potter? With the exception of Ronald, our children consider that young man part of this family. He saved our daughters life in her first year! He saved my life last year! What about that?"

"Oh pish posh! Albus would have saved Ginny if Harry hadn’t and Albus would have found you in time."

At that point a rainbow colored Ron stormed into the living room. "I don’t believe this family! You’re fighting over that rich bastard again? Look at me. Look what Fred and George did to me. Look what I’m going through at school. Do you care? No! Everyone has to fight over the bloody Boy-Who-Lived!"

Arthur looked at his youngest son in disgust.   With tired sigh, he turned back to the fireplace.

Molly’s eyes widened in disbelief as Arthur turned away. "If you leave, don’t expect me to take you back!" she all but shrieked at him.

Arthur looked at her sadly. "I know, Molly. Forgiveness became something foreign to you a long time ago."

Tossing the floo powder into the fireplace, he stepped in and returned to his office, the echo of his wife’s outraged shriek ringing in his ears.

Digging out an old cot and setting it up, he glanced around the office and shrugged.   It would do for the night.   Tomorrow, he’d see about trying to fix things with the rest of his family.

Grimmauld Place…

Later that afternoon they returned to Grimmauld Place with their purchases. While everyone was off either hiding or wrapping Christmas presents, Harry went in search of Narcissa and Draco.

He found the two talking quietly in her sitting room. Knocking, he waited patiently for permission to enter before joining them. Narcissa smiled, welcoming him.

"You know Harry, this is your house. You don’t have to knock," she said as he joined them.

"That might be true, Mrs. Malfoy, but it certainly wouldn’t be polite."

"So what brings you visiting?" she asked.

He handed both her and Draco keys to a Gringotts vault, along with a balance statement. "I’ve taken the liberty of setting up an account for you both at Gringotts. It might not be as big as the Malfoy fortune, but properly managed, one could live quite comfortably on it."

Draco scowled and crossed his arms.

"Draco, I know we’ve never gotten along well in the past and our friendship/truce is only a few months old, but I’m not trying to buy anything here," Harry said hotly, watching the blond Slytherin.

Narcissa placed a hand on Draco’s arm. "Dray…"

"I know, Mother, I know!" he exclaimed, running a hand through his hair.

"When Sirius named me Head of the Black family it made us cousins of a sort, Draco. I’d like to think we could put our past differences behind us. Besides, I’m going to need your help for what I have planned. I’ll need help from both of you, in fact. But by the same token, as family, it’s my job to see that you’re taken care of."

"Has Mr. Lupin shown you the paperwork I filled out, Harry?" asked Narcissa.

Harry smiled. "Yes, I signed off on them this morning and I’m sure that, within a day or so, Lucius will discover his wife and son have disowned and divorced him."

Both Narcissa and Draco grinned at the thought of what Lucius would do.

Harry ran a hand though his hair. "I want you both to understand one thing. There will be a time, hopefully not too far in the future, when I’ll be forced to confront Voldemort and Lucius. I have to kill Voldemort and if Lucius gets in my way…" he left that thought unsaid.

"He will," Draco said quietly.

Narcissa reached out and grabbed Harry’s hand in her own. "Harry, the man I thought I was marrying didn’t exist. The man who fathered my son was cruel to both of us and has tried to kill you and your friends. I can promise you, I’ll not shed a single tear when the time comes."

Harry looked at Draco, who nodded his agreement.

"Thank you. I know this hasn’t been an easy time for either of you, and I do know you’ve had to make some serious adjustments in how you live and think."

"Yes," Draco drawled, "we’ve made changes, but don’t get all Gryffindor gushy on us, Potter. I’ll admit that Granger is probably the smartest witch I’ve ever met, even if she is a mud… muggle born. But if you tell her I said that, I’ll deny it!"

Harry grinned.   He left a few minutes later after telling them that he’d like to see them join the rest of the household at meals, rather than isolating themselves.

Dan, Brandy and Potions…

Dan Granger found Harry in the main study on the first floor. From the doorway, he watched as the young man walked around a small ornate box he had purchased earlier in the day. As he circled it, his hands flared with magic and the box glowed brightly.

He waited until Harry finally sat down before interrupting him. "I hoped I’d find in you in here, Harry. Can we talk?"

"Of course, Mr. Granger. Please, take a seat," Harry said, waving him to one of the comfortable chairs.

Dan walked into the room and sat down. He carried two brandy snifters and a bottle with him. Setting the snifters on the table, he poured two fingers worth in each glass and handed one to Harry, who eyed it suspiciously.

"Napoleon Brandy, Harry. It’s from your own cellar, so it should be perfectly safe. Unlike so many other drinks, Brandy is truly a gift from the gods to civilization."

Harry cautiously sipped from the large round glass and his face lit up in pleasure.

Dan watched him carefully. When Harry leaned back and began to relax, he pounced.   "Harry, I wanted to talk to you about Hermione. I’d like to know what your intentions are towards my daughter."

Harry paled and took a large swallow of brandy. "Mr. Granger, your daughter means the world to me. I’d rather die than see her hurt in anyway."

"Yes, I can see that, Harry. I’m more concerned, however, with her future. I hope you can understand that as an only child, Emma and I tend to be overprotective towards her."

He took another swallow from his glass. "Are you going to ask me to stop seeing her? I respect you and your wife, sir, but I love her and I’m not sure…"

Dan blinked in surprise. "Good lord no, Harry. I’m not going to ask any such thing. I may be an overprotective father, but even I can see that you’re good for each other. You both seem to balance each other out."

"It does seem that way, sir. But I also know that she’s in a lot of danger by being with me," Harry replied, taking another swallow from his glass.

"That’s true, but Remus and Tonks explained it to Emma and myself. Basically, we’re in danger anyway because of who and what we are. By being with you, she gains not only the benefit of those who are protecting you, but she gains your protection as well."

"I think I can understand that, Mr. Granger. Her safety and well-being are very important to me. As far as her future goes, I would like to be there for her as long as she’ll let me. But I know just how smart she is. Someday she’ll realize that herself and move on. Sooner or later she’ll understand what a mistake she’s making by being close to me. I just hope that she’ll allow me to remain her friend. As for her immediate future, you know the danger we all face and you know what we’re doing about it. I can’t say that everything will be perfect, but we’ll be safe," he concluded, and took another drink of brandy.

"I think you’re being too harsh on yourself. From what I can see, Hermione doesn’t need to find anyone better. My daughter is showing all the same signs that her mother showed when she was dating me. I was too dense to spot them then. But now, watching Hermione, it’s pretty obvious," Dan told him, refilling both of their glasses.

Harry smiled gratefully and took another large swallow from his glass. "I hope you’re right, Mr. Granger. I’d like nothing better than to be able to someday come to you and your wife and ask for permission to marry her. We have a lot to do before we get to that point, or at least I think we have a lot to do. Hermione has her own ideas, as I’m sure you know. She’s so smart, I can’t help wonder why she’d want to stick around with me."

"Like I said, I think you’re being unfair to yourself, Harry. One day you’re going to wake up and realize that you actually do deserve to have the same kind of happiness that everyone else has. And if I know my daughter, she’s going to be the one to teach you that lesson."

Harry blushed and took another gulp from his glass.

Dan refilled their glasses again and then pointed at the ornate box Harry had been working on. "So, what project is this?"

Harry lifted the box proudly and turned it around so Dan could see it better. "This is a Christmas present I’m working on…"

Hermione, Mum and Blinking Lights…

While Dan and Harry sat in the study talking, Hermione went in search of her mother. Finally she located her mother in the sitting room off her parents bedroom.

She tapped on the door lightly. "Mum, can we talk for a moment?"

Emma looked up from a surgical journal she was reading. "Of course, dear. Come in and tell me what’s bothering you."

Taking the chair next to her mother, she sat down and looked at her for a moment. "Mum, would you tell me about Nana. Please?"

Emma blinked in surprise. "Nana? I thought you’d want to talk about Harry.   Hmm…Nana.   Very well, what would you like to know about my mother?"

"Was Nana a little strange at times?"

"Is this about the prophecy you gave, dear?" asked Emma gently.

Hermione looked down at her slippers. "Yes, Mum."

Emma reached for a cup of tea on a nearby table and, taking a sip, she thought for a moment. "Nana was always a little strange, dear. She was a wonderful woman, but she had an uncanny ability to know when I was in trouble."

Hermione poured herself a cup of tea and pulled her legs up under her on the chair. "The day I gave that prophecy, Harry created a charm that he put on a piece of parchment. He said it was a gift he was giving to us, his friends. The parchment was charmed to give each person three minutes with a person from his or her life that had died. Three minutes to say goodbye. Ginny saw her uncles, Luna her mother, I saw Nana… she told me things."

Emma stared at her daughter for a long moment before nodding for her to continue.

"She told me about Harry. She said I was his anchor to the light. She also said she was going to give me a gift. She said I had the gift of sight and she was going to awaken it for me. Then she said some more stuff about Harry and I, before fading out. But I got to say goodbye to her," Hermione said, trying to choke back a sob.

"Is such a thing possible?" asked Emma in a whisper.

Hermione wiped an unshed tear from her eye and nodded. "It’s incredibly difficult, but it can be done. And where Harry is concerned, the impossible is often the truth."

"What else did she say about Harry?"

"She said that Harry and I would be famous one day, and that Harry would give me a family to be proud of," she replied, her face flaming.

Emma nodded and smiled gently at her daughter while considering her words carefully. "My mother was a different sort of woman, Hermione. I loved her to death, but I’d swear there were times when she knew what was happening before it happened. I remember when I first brought your father home. We had only been on a few dates at that point and hadn’t progressed beyond handholding. Nana took your father’s hand in hers and turned to me saying, ‘You’re very lucky to find the right one so early in your life.’ I wasn’t sure what she was talking about then, of course, but it became clear later on." Emma’s stared into the fire, her eyes unfocused as she remembered the event so long ago.

"When you were born she held you and trembled. She said that you were destined to greatness, but you were only part of a whole, not to be complete until joined with another and together you both would be great. I didn’t understand it then, but I think I’m coming to understand it now. Watching you and Harry together I think I see what she meant," Emma said softly, turning to look at her daughter.

Hermione thought for a moment. In a way, it confirms some of what Nana said. She was startled out of her thoughts when Emma continued.

"When you first came in here tonight, I expected you wanted to talk about Harry. It’s obvious to your father and myself that he cares for you a great deal, even if he has problems telling you about it sometimes."

Hermione was about to reply when all of the candles in the room when out. Confused, she gestured for her wand and it extended from her holster. "Torca Ignis!" she said. The candles flared to life, lighting the room, then went out again.

"What in the name of Merlin? Torca Ignis!" Hermione cried, igniting the candles again only to have them falter and extinguish a moment later.

Frowning, Hermione decided to use another spell.   "Lumos Flotima!" An orb of light appeared over her shoulder.

"Mum, I don’t know what’s going on, but we better check it out. I think you should follow me," Hermione said, heading for the door.

Outside in the hallway Hermione could see that the wall sconces had gone out. Several of the bedroom doors were opened and she saw Draco and Narcissa looking out their doors, their faces lit up by the light from their wands.

"I don’t know what’s going on, but I’ll bet that Harry’s somehow involved," Hermione murmured to her mother.

Emma suddenly looked worried. "Oh dear. Your father had gone off to have a talk with Harry tonight."

Hermione looked startled. "A talk? About what?" she asked, almost afraid of the answer.

"Well… you, dear." Emma said softly.

Hermione winced. From the landing downstairs came the sound of very off-key singing.

"God arrest ye every gentlemen, let muffin you delay…"

"Oh Merlin, what has Daddy done?" she exclaimed in exasperation, rushing for the stairs with her mother hot on her heels.

As they reached the lower landing, the singing stopped and the doors to the study opened. Dan stepped out looking rather smug with himself. From the doorway, Hermione could see Harry sitting in a chair, giggling to himself and hiccupping. With every hiccup, the fire in the fireplace flared.

Dan pointed to the empty bottle of brandy.   "Ish emptee. Need anuffa," he slurred.

"Mum!" Hermione exclaimed. "Your husband’s gotten my boyfriend drunk! No wonder the lights won’t stay on."

Emma grabbed her husband by the arm, trying very hard to sound stern. "No dear, I think you’ve had enough to drink tonight."

Harry burped. A whole shelf full of books fell to the floor and a scream came from upstairs. Two minutes later, Remus and Tonks came rushing down the stairs.

"What’s going on?" Tonks shouted. "Our bed started flying!"

Hermione pointed at Harry, who sat smiling at them. He waved gleefully. Only Dan waved back. He hiccupped loudly and all of the lights in the house flared again, only to go out with his next hiccup.

"Thash me buddee," murmured Dan, then he made a gagging sound and bolted for the nearest bathroom.

"Herm… Herm… Hermiiionee," Harry called drunkenly, waving at her. Then he slid out of the chair and onto the floor. He burped again and a chair in the corner exploded, showering him in wood shavings.

"Oh Merlin, we’ve got to sober him up before he destroys the place. Tonks, stay with him. Hermione, come into the kitchen and help me brew the potion," Remus said.

In the kitchen, Remus pulled out a number 10 pewter cauldron and filled it with water. "We’re going to need some dross root, finely diced, pickled murlap," he murmured, while Hermione started rooting through the potion ingredients cabinet for what he needed.

"Remus, this doesn’t sound like the standard sobering potion," Hermione ventured.

"It’s not. This is something that Lily invented. It works better and has fewer side effects." A few minutes later the potion was simmering on the stove.

"No Harry, I am not going to turn myself into Hermione for you!" Tonks exclaimed from outside the door.   Remus and Hermione stared at each other for a moment before bursting into laughter.

Tonks dragged Harry into the kitchen and sat him down on a chair at the table. A minute later, he slid off the chair and was sitting on the floor giggling to him self. Every few seconds the lights would come on, then go off.

"We’re going to need to redecorate the study. It’s a wreck," Tonks said, shaking her head in amusement.

"I can’t believe my father got Harry drunk! I’m going to kill him!" exclaimed Hermione angrily.

"Not now, Hermione," Remus said. "Hand me a jigger of that ground Abraxan kidney, then a handful of diced Old Crow’s feet. We’re almost done."

With the last two ingredients in the potion, it turned a sickly, glowing green color. Remus scooped out a cupful and looked around for Harry.

"Tonks, get him out from under the table so I can dose him," Remus said in exasperation.

Tonks reached under the table and pulled Harry out. He hiccupped again and Hermione’s hair turned blue, sticking straight out stiffly. Hermione’s eyes flared in outrage and she stamped her foot. "Harry James Potter!"

Remus grabbed Harry, pinching off his nose and put the cup to his mouth. Harry’s eyes bugged in his head as he swallowed and steam seemed to drift out of every pore of his body with a loud hissing sound. When the steam stopped, he shook his head and looked at Hermione in confusion.

"What happened to you hair?" he asked innocently.

"I don’t know who to be mad at, you or my father! And look at what you did to my hair!"

"I did that?"

Remus and Tonks exchanged a look and Remus grabbed another cup of the potion. "I think we should get this to Dan, while Hermione and Harry have their discussion," he said.

When Hermione backed Harry into a corner, Tonks started laughing.   Remus rolled his eyes and dragged her from the room, leaving Harry to his fate.

"Um… Hermione? I can fix it, honestly."

"You’d better!"

Harry’s hand flared and he waved it at Hermione’s hair, returning it to normal. Then inspiration hit him, or perhaps it was merely a suicidal impulse.

"Hermione, would you like me to change it’s color? I can even make it less bushy if you like."

Hermione’s eyes narrowed and her gaze turned steely. "Are you telling me you don’t like the color of my hair?"

OH SHIT! WRONG THING TO SAY! His mind screamed at him as Mount Hermione rumbled.

"No… nothing like that, Hermione, honestly! I just thought that since I could change it I’d make the offer, you know? I’m not trying to insult you. I love your hair and it’s color, really! Um… Oh bloody hell," he muttered in defeat. "Just shoot me and put me out of your misery. Are you sure you don’t come with an instruction manual or something?" he asked, slumping into a chair.

Hermione decided to take mercy on him. After all, it was her father who’d set out to get him drunk. "Go to bed, Harry. I want to have words with my father."

Hermione followed him to his bedroom to make sure he was going to sleep before she set off to find her father.

She stepped into her parent’s bedroom, her eyes narrowed in anger.   Both her parents were sitting on the edge of the bed and Dan had his head in his hands. Remus and Tonks stood nearby, looking concerned.

"What’s going on now?" she asked loudly.

Dan winced and Emma looked up at her daughter warningly.

"Lilly’s sober up potion works for Muggles, but it apparently doesn’t get rid of the hangover," Remus said softly.

"We could try a hang over remedy on him, but who knows what side effects it might have?" quipped Tonks with a grin.

Dan looked up at the three adults and his daughter. "You four are evil and must be destroyed. You’re enjoying this far too much."

Hermione smiled, her eyes dancing gleefully.   "Goodnight, Daddy," she said, just a touch too loudly.   "I love you."   When her father cringed, grabbed his head even tighter and groaned, she laughed and turned for the door.

She left the room, slamming the door on her way out and was secure in the knowledge that her father was paying for his crime.

Christmas Eve, Hogwarts, school of Witchcraft and Wizardry…

Professor McGonagall looked up from her desk as Filius Flitwick entered her office.

"Filius! I have been trying to get in touch with you for three days now!" Minerva exclaimed.

"Why? What was so important, Minerva? You knew I was going to London for a few days."

"We needed you to dispel a charm."

"A charm? What kind of charm did you run across that you couldn’t dispel?"

"It was a sticking charm cast by Mr. Potter."

"Minerva, what in the name of Merlin gave you the idea that I could possibly dispel anything that boy casts? Did the charm finally wear off?"

"Yes, at about five o’clock this morning. Mr. Potter had stuck both Professor Snape and the Headmaster to the ceiling in front of the Entrance Hall doors. Quite a drafty spot, I must say. The Headmaster had a few minute warning in which to cast a cushioning charm. Professor Snape wasn’t as lucky. His first clue was the floor rushing up to him. Broke his nose, I’m afraid."

Filius slumped down on his chair, laughing.   Minerva shook her head and sighed in exasperation.  

"It’s all very well for you, Filius, but do you have any idea what it’s like to be woke up by Severus cursing the portraits off the walls? Peeves had a field day throwing stink bombs at him and even the Bloody Baron refused to help control the poltergeist."

Flitwick made a desperate grab for the arms of his chair and missed.   Sliding to the floor, he wrapped his arms around himself and howled with laughter.

"Merlin bless him," Filius gasped out.

"Who?" Minerva asked, puzzled.

"Harry Potter!"

Malfoy Manor…

Lucius snarled and kicked the body of the dead house elf across the room. The elf had just returned from one of the many letter drops that allowed Lucius to still conduct some business while on the run. This time the elf had brought back something totally unexpected.

It was a clipping of the legal notices from a recent Daily Prophet that someone had sent him. Scanning the small print, he’d been enraged to discover that the Head of the noble and ancient house of Black had dissolved his marriage to Narcissa, according to the old family laws.

Under the family laws, the Head of House could dissolve a marriage at the request of his family member. In the case of children born of that marriage, both families were given the option to adopt the child into their family.

What it really meant was that Lucius could appear in court, asking to adopt his own son, or Narcissa could appear and ask the same thing. Since Lucius was an escaped convict, appearing in court was the last thing he wanted to do.

Lucius snarled again and kicked the dead elf once more.

"Damn that woman!" he shouted.

At that moment Wormtail stuck his head around the door. "Ah, Lucius," Wormtail began, only to stop when he noticed the man looming over the body of the dead elf.

"What?" Lucius exclaimed, his head whipping up to glare at Wormtail.

Wormtail smirked. Word had already gotten around in the Death Eater ranks that Lucius’ cousin had bankrupted him.

"Something vexes thee, Lucius?" Wormtail asked with a grin. Kicking a fellow Death Eater when he or she was down was almost as much fun as torturing muggles in Wormtail’s book and he very much enjoyed kicking Lucius.

Lucius glared at him for a moment. "That bitch divorced me! I’ll find her and peel her skin from her bones! I’ll set her on fire and cook her slowly!"

"While you’re thinking up such wonderful entertainments, you might want to also consider that our Master would like to speak with you," Wormtail said, openly grinning now.

Lucius rushed from the room, heading for Voldemort’s chambers in the basement of the building.

Voldemort watched as Lucius entered his chambers, noting that the man was covered with blood.

"Playing again, Lucius?" Voldemort sneered.

"Punishing a house elf, my Lord. He brought me some disturbing news."

"Ah, nothing too disturbing I trust?"

"My wife has divorced me, my Lord."

"Pity, that. I told you that you should have killed her last year. How faired the attempt to kidnap your son?"

"I’m afraid Rodolphus’s Slytherins failed to kidnap him, my Lord."

Voldemort’s eyes hardened. "I will deal with Rodolphus later. Now, tell me what you have managed to accomplish in the last month and a half."

"My Lord, we have taken control of two muggle armies. Once you give us the word, both armies will move out against the civilian authorities, capturing key positions. With control of these armies and a little luck, we should be able to capture the muggle government and force them to surrender in short order."

"Excellent, Lucius. I will tell you when it’s time to unleash my puppet army. Now go. Oh, and send Rodolphus to me."

"Yes, my Lord," Lucius said, backing away and bowing.

Misuse of Muggle Artifacts Office…

Arthur Weasley sat hunched at his desk in his quiet office, carefully writing a letter to his oldest son. His staff had left for the day, something for which he was thankful.   The looks he’d been receiving for the last few days were wearing on his nerves and he wasn’t in the mood to answer the questions he saw in their eyes.

His clothes were wrinkled and his hair was unkempt looking. His desk was littered with files, teacups and leftover food. For the slower members of his staff who were unable to put all of the signs together, the cot tucked into the corner of his office spelled it out for them. He was living in the office these days  and while many speculated on the reason, none wanted to ask the usually mild-tempered man about his sudden change in residence.

Setting his quill aside, Arthur rubbed a hand over his balding head and sighed. Picking up the letter he’d just written, he read it through quickly.


It’s my hope that you will share this letter with Fred, George and Ginny, as there are things that the four of you must know.   I can only hope that, once you know the truth, you can forgive me. Merlin knows I doubt I will ever be able to forgive myself.

And he’d told them all of it.   The lies, the theft, the maneuvering to assure that Ron and Harry became friends, nothing was left out. Picking up his quill once more, he dipped the tip in ink and finished the letter.

I’ve already written a statement of fact that I intend to submit to Amelia Bones.   Your mother and I have broken the law and we’ll pay for it.   Worse, we have broken Harry’s trust. Your mother doesn’t see it that way, however, which brings me to my next subject.

I have moved out of the Burrow and am currently staying in my office. When I arrived home the day Ginny left, your mother and I fought.   I won’t go into all the details here, but you should know that, while I may be willing to put up with many things from your mother, striking one of our children is not one of them.

I’ve made many mistakes in my life, but allowing myself to be manipulated by Dumbledore has been one of the worst. My compliance has torn our family apart, and I don’t know if we can ever come together again.

I don’t know if any of you can forgive me, or even if I deserve it, but I do so hope to hear from you.

All my love,

Rolling the parchment, he sealed it and, before he could change his mind, he sent it off.   Looking around his office, he thought vaguely about dinner but nothing appealed.   He was too tired anyway.

Dragging his cot out from the corner, he climbed in and thought longingly of his children, the Burrow and, strangely, Harry.   As images of summers past danced behind his closed eyes, images of family meals taken outside under the stars and Quidditch matches that had lasted for hours, the enormity of just what he’d lost became a crushing weight upon his heart.

In the darkness of his office, Arthur Weasley wept for what he had lost.

Grimmauld Place…

Harry had spent the entire day locked in his bedroom. Dobby brought him something to eat, but he wouldn’t let anyone into the room. Hermione was annoyed, but Harry said he was working on Christmas gifts, so she couldn’t complain too much. Finally, just before dinner, the house rumbled and shook for a good minute, and then Harry emerged from his room looking inordinately pleased with himself and joined everyone for dinner.

"Alright there, Harry?" asked Remus.

"Couldn’t be better, Remus. I finally figured out what I needed to do," replied Harry, still looking smug.

"Was that you shaking the house a moment ago?" asked Hermione. Tonks looked at him, curious about his answer.

"Yeah, I’m sorry about that. I didn’t think extending the spell would make the place shake like that," he said, looking embarrassed.

"What spell?" Hermione asked eagerly.

He looked at her for a moment, and then shrugged. "Well Hermione, it’s like this, I can show you the spell, or you can wait until tomorrow morning to see it in action. I did promise you that I would show you my notes on it, but I’ll give you the notes when I show you your present."

"I’ll wait then," she told him, smiling.

After dinner, Harry and Hermione went off to ‘The Muggle Room’, a room that Dan and Remus had set up with a television, stereo and a DVD player. The two sat for several hours watching Ghostbusters and Scrooged before heading off to bed. Tomorrow was Christmas morning and they wanted to be up early.

Christmas at Grimmauld Place…

The next morning Harry awoke early and headed downstairs with both arms loaded down with presents. He placed the presents under the Christmas tree and went into the kitchen.

Christmas for Harry has been a very hit and miss affair. Last year he’d spent it here in Grimmauld with Sirius. Previous years it was either with the Dursley’s, in which case there was no celebration for him, or at Hogwarts.

Getting a cup of tea from the kitchen he went back into the living room and sat down on a couch to look at the tree that Dobby and Winky had put up for them. His pile wasn’t the only one under the tree. Apparently several other people had put some presents under it as well.

"Harry?" asked a familiar voice.

"Happy Christmas, Hermione," he replied with a gentle smile.

"Happy Christmas, Harry. How do you want to handle the presents? In my family we always waited until after we have breakfast."

Harry pondered that for a moment. "That sounds fine to me. I don’t really have any holiday traditions to follow. Before I went to Hogwarts, I wasn’t allowed to have presents, or Christmas. And since Hogwarts, Christmas was either at school or here."

His words still shocked her, even though she had expected something of that nature. In some ways, while she was helping Harry to still come to grips with his own past, she hadn’t yet addressed his issues herself. There was so much she wanted to help him learn and experience.

"The Dursley’s never let you participate at Christmas?"

"Oh, they did, but only as a way of showing their contempt. In my fourth year they sent me a present for Christmas. I tore open the box eagerly, only to find they had sent me a tissue," he replied, his tone neutral.

Hermione shuddered at the mental image. "Well in that case, I suggest you ask Remus what kind of holiday traditions your parents followed. If you don’t like them, start your own," she said.

He smiled up at her. "I like that idea. And I think I’ll start another new tradition right now. Care to join me?" he asked her while he stood up. Perplexed, she nodded and followed him as he stepped into the kitchen.

Harry told her to sit down while he started pulling pots and pans out, then ingredients. In a short amount of time he had pancakes, bacon, eggs; a full breakfast cooking, right down to the biscuits. Hermione marveled at his expertise in the kitchen and it was even more astounding as he never once used magic to cook anything. She started setting the silverware and dishes out as he piled food onto platters.

"Put out two extra settings today, Hermione," he told her.

She looked at him curiously, but put out the extra settings anyway.

"Dobby? Winky?" Harry called. A second later there were two pops and the two house elves appeared.   Both looked at Harry, wearing an apron and cooking and their ears drooped in dismay.

"Master Harry! We is sorry! We didn’t know you is hungry!" wailed Winky.

Harry pulled the last of the food off of the fire and turned to kneel next to Winky. "Do you know what today is?" he asked the distraught elf gently.

"Christmas day, sir."

Harry glanced up at the people entering the kitchen, then turned his attention back to Winky.

"Yes Winky, it’s Christmas, and that means that today I am going to cook breakfast for my family, including you and Dobby. I would really like it if you and Dobby would join us at meals from here on, but especially today. I’d like you to enjoy the day with everyone else."

Dobby’s tennis ball sized eyes filled with tears and he stepped over to stand next to the trembling Winky. "Harry Potter sir, we is elves. We cannot eat with your family," he told Harry softly.

"Yes you’re elves and you work for me and my family, but you are also a part of my family and always will be," he told the little elves.

Hermione walked over to put a hand on Harry’s shoulder. "Dobby, I think Harry is saying he considers you to be family just like he considers the rest of us."

Winky looked up at Hermione, her lower lip trembling. "Is true, Miss Hermy?"

"It’s true, Winky. Harry has room in his heart for both of you," replied Hermione softly.

Harry took Winky’s hand, and then reached for Dobby’s. He then led both elves to seats next to his. After they had taken their seats, Hermione grabbed him in a tight embrace.

"You’re a good man Harry Potter," she whispered.

The two elves were shy at the table, but Harry kept offering them food as the platters were passed around. Winky finally managed to get up the courage to ask Harry if he would give her the recipe for the biscuits.

During the meal Harry tried to grill Remus on what Christmas traditions his parents had, but he came up with very little information. Remus couldn’t remember anything different, but he also had to admit that he never was there for Christmas Eve or Christmas morning. He did offer one anecdote concerning Sirius stuffing a five month old Harry into a Christmas stocking and hanging him over the mantle of the fireplace, much to Lily’s annoyance.

After breakfast Harry let the two elves levitate the dishes into the sink where they would be cleaned automatically, then he grabbed both elves by the hands and led them into the living room where the tree was.

Once he reached the tree, he knelt next to his pile and pulled out two packages that he handed to Dobby and Winky. Both were surprised and ecstatic over their presents. Dobby received several skeins of yarn and Winky a magical cookbook.

After giving the elves their gifts, Harry pulled out two identical packages that were roughly the size of a small trunk. He gave one package to Hermione and one to Remus.

Remus tore into the wrapping revealing an enameled box with his name monogrammed on it. The box contained a handle for easy carrying. When he looked up at Harry, curious, Harry gestured for Hermione to open her package. Her present was nearly identical to the one he gave Remus except that Harry had Hermione’s name monogrammed along the top of the box using her birthstone.

Both looked at Harry, unsure. He smiled and motioned for them to open the box. Inside each was a row of books.

Hermione looked at the titles, and then arched an eyebrow at him. "Harry? The Joys of Fly Fishing,   Bass Fishing for Beginners and Trout Cooking? Are you trying to tell me something?"

"He must be, Hermione. My box is full of books on dog grooming!" quipped Remus.

Harry laughed. "No, the box randomly selects books when you don’t think of a particular subject. Close the box, think of a subject, and then open the box again."

Remus and Hermione looked stunned, then they eagerly closed their boxes and reopened them. Remus ran his fingers reverently along the titles. Hermione sat stunned looking at the twenty different volumes of Hogwarts: A History.

"What else do I get my two favorite bookworms but their own personal shelf of requirement in a box?" Harry asked in a light tone.

The next thing Harry knew he was engulfed in a double embrace. Both Hermione and Remus had grabbed him, cutting off his air supply. When they released him, Harry handed Hermione and Remus a copy of the notebook he had used to build the boxes. He cautioned them that the books would only exist as long as they were in the same room as the box. He hoped to increase the range of the box eventually, but room range was a good start in his opinion.

All in all, it was the best Christmas Harry could ever remember.

Christmas at Bill Weasley’s Place…

Fred, George, Bill and Ginny were opening their gifts when a knock came at the door.   When all eyes turned to Bill, he shrugged in bewilderment.

"I’ll get it," Ginny said, standing and heading to the door.

"Did either of you invite someone over?" Bill asked.

"No," the twins replied in unison.

Ginny walked back in the room looking pale and a bit shaken.

Bill stood up, concerned.   "What’s wrong, squirt?"

"We have company," she said, as a figure followed her into the room.

"Dad?" Bill choked, staring at the man before him.

"Hello Bill," Arthur said quietly.   "I’m sorry for just showing up like this but…" He trailed off, not knowing what to say.

Ginny looked at her brothers and sighed.   The anger behind their eyes was plain to see and, while she knew it was justified, she also knew that she wanted her family back, or at least as much of it as possible.   She’d given up on Ron weeks ago.   The bloody bastard wasn’t worth the effort.   Her mother…well, she’d given up on her mother when she’d struck Bill.

"It’s good to see you, dad," Ginny said softly.

Arthur grimaced and then tried to smile at his daughter.   "I sent a letter," he started.

"I got it," Bill said.

"And he showed it to us," George said coldly.

"I see."   Arthur cleared his throat.   "I shouldn’t have come, but when I didn’t hear from you…"

"What do you want?" Fred asked, his tone matching that of his twin.

"I thought that perhaps we could talk," Arthur said.   "I thought that if you had any questions, maybe I could try to answer them for you." As the silence stretched out, Arthur began to fidget.   Finally, unable to stand the quiet room any longer, he raked a hand through his hair. "I’m sorry.   Maybe this was a bad idea.   Happy Christmas."

When he turned and began to walk to the door, Ginny jumped forward and grabbed his coat.   "Wait," she said.   When her father turned around, she smiled at him, and then turned to face her brothers.   "If I thought I could get away with it, I’d hex all three of you," she exclaimed.   "Dad’s at least making an effort! The least we could do is talk to him."

"Ginny," Bill said quietly, staring at Arthur, "you know what he’s done.   Not just to our family, but to Harry."

"Yes, I know.   I also know that I want my family back, or as much of it as I can get. For Merlin’s sake, it’s Christmas!" she said, stomping her foot and glaring at her brothers.

"Gin," George began.

"Don’t ‘Gin’ me, George Weasley.   What would it hurt to listen to what he has to say?   And I don’t know about you three, but I have some questions I’d like to ask him and I’m not likely to get another chance anytime soon, once school starts."

"It’s all right, Ginny," Arthur said, placing a hand on her shoulder.   "You can ask me anything. I’m staying at the office, so you can pop in over the holiday and we’ll have lunch and visit."

"No," Bill said, scowling,   "she’s right, dad.   We all have questions and you’re the only one who can answer them.   You might as well stay."

"What?" Fred exclaimed.

"Bill, you have to be joking," George said, staring at his older brother as if he’d suddenly grown another head.

"Oh shut it, you two.   After reading his letter you both said you had questions you wanted to ask him.   Well, now’s your chance."   Bill then turned to Arthur. "You might as well make yourself comfortable, Dad.   It’s going to be a long day."

Christmas Evening at Grimmauld Place…

Hermione was heading to bed when she heard a noise coming from upstairs. The third floor of Grimmauld was largely unused except for the muggle room. Curious, she climbed the stairs to the dimly lit corridor above and noticed a light coming from under one of the doors.

She paused by the door for a moment, listening. The sounds were definitely coming from inside the room. She was about to open the door when she stopped. Whoever was in the room was obviously upset about something and she wasn’t sure if she should disturb them.

Finally she mustered her courage and opened the door. A single candle lit the room. In front of the wide windows stood Harry. Startled he hastily wiped at his eyes.

"Hermione w-w-what are you doing here?" he stammered.

She stepped up behind him and wrapped her arms around him. "What’s bothering you?"

"Look at it," he said, gesturing out the large window. In the distance, Big Ben could be seen, the city alight with holiday lights even at this late hour of the night.

"In a few short months this will be a ruin, lit by fire. All the people who’ll die Hermione! So many…" he choked up and she tightened her grip on him.

"Can you save them all?" she asked him softly.

"N-n-no, I can’t," he replied and let loose with a sob.

Hermione pulled him away from the window towards a nearby couch. She sat him down and held him as he cried softly on her shoulder. He was the most powerful wizard the world had ever seen, and in the face of prophecy he was still powerless to prevent the coming catastrophe.

He calmed in her embrace. He buried his head in her shoulder and breathed deeply. Something about her scent he found enticing. Lifting his head off her shoulder, he looked into her eyes. "What would I do without you? In the past year you’ve come to mean more to me than anyone else I know," he whispered.

She blushed. Then she shuddered as he trailed soft kisses along her neck and up to her lips. Snow began to fall outside the window but neither noticed.   They remained in each other’s embrace for some time before returning to their own beds. Neither was ready to take their relationship to the next level yet.

The Boxing Day Meeting…

The day after Christmas started slowly. It was a dreary day with a cold, biting rain. Even with many of Grimmauld’s fireplaces roaring, the chill seemed to permeate the building. Harry slept in that morning, comfortable under his heavy blankets. He would have stayed there except for the fact that Hermione attacked him mercilessly.

With a little over an hour to go before his guests started to arrive, Hermione burst into his bedroom. She had a maniacal gleam in her eye. She rushed over to Harry’s bed and threw back the blankets, exposing his feet. Then she gently grabbed one of them and started to tickle it. He was awake in an instant and howling as he tried to get away from her. He finally fell out of the bed when she released his foot and she collapsed on the bed, laughing.

"Hermione!" he exclaimed. "Are you barmy? What did you do that for?"

Hermione sat up and smoothed out her skirt, then she smiled at him. "Remus told me that both your parents were only ticklish on the bottoms of their feet. I’ve spent hours massaging your legs and your shoulders and you’ve never shown a single sign of being ticklish! But now I know your weakness, Potter!"

"I may be ticklish on my feet, but you’re ticklish in a lot more places!" Harry growled. Then he blinked in surprise as he noticed Hermione suddenly blushing like crazy. He sat for a moment, puzzled, until he realized he hadn’t put on pajamas last night. He’d gone to sleep in just his boxers.

Standing, he looked at her and smiled slyly. "I need to get dressed, Hermione. Unless you want to help?"

She stood, her face flaming and tried to maintain her dignity. "Ask me another day and I might give you a different answer. Right now you need to get dressed and get ready to meet with your guests."

"I’ll look forward to that day," he said softly. "And to the day when I can return the favor."

Her blush deepened. She walked over and kissed him on the cheek before turning and running from the room. Harry stood, shaking his head in amusement.

As ten o’clock rolled around Harry’s guests began to arrive via their portkeys in the main foyer. Winky stood by taking their coats, while Dobby directed them all into the main dining room, which had been expanded to fit everyone.

Harry walked into the room after everyone had arrived and looked around at his guests; Remus, Tonks, Hermione and her parents, Amelia and Susan Bones, Terry Boot and his parents, Professors McGonagall and Flitwick, Danni McNeil, Ginny, Fred, George and Bill Weasley, Narcissa and Draco Black, Neville and his Grandmother, Luna and her father. As they all took seats, Dobby and Winky served drinks and placed some platters of snacks on the table.

"Before I begin, I’d like to thank each of you for coming today. Some of you are going to be surprised and shocked by what you’ll hear. Some of you know most of the story, and a few know it all. Today was supposed to be a day when I told you all about a secret government investigation into the criminal activities of Albus Dumbledore and various others. Criminal activities which involved theft, conspiracy, child abuse and even attempted murder. Things have changed, however.

"The criminal activity of Dumbledore and his cronies mean nothing now. Everything has changed and now I have to put a question to every one of you. Quite simply, do you wish to be alive in six months time? Something bad is going to happen and each and every one of you is going to be given a choice to protect yourselves and your family. Or you can leave right now, no questions asked, although you’ll be unable to discuss what you heard here today with anyone.

"Let me start by turning this meeting over to Remus Lupin, who will explain exactly what we’re dealing with and why I’m taking the steps I’m taking."

Harry sat next to Hermione, who reached out and gripped his hand tightly in her own. He had divulged his entire plan to her before they’d left Hogwarts. Then it had seemed like a dream, today it would be like the snowball teetering on the top of the mountain, slowly making its way down.

Remus stood and cleared his throat. "I’m assuming that Harry’s managed to capture everyone’s attention and no one wishes to leave." When no one moved, he smiled. "Very well then. What we have is a problem involving three distinct and unique prophecies from three unique sources.

"The first prophecy, made shortly before Harry was born, could have applied to either Harry or Neville Longbottom."

Neville sat up straight in his chair and stared at Harry, who grinned sheepishly at him. Remus noted Neville’s reaction as well.

"Don’t worry, Neville. Voldemort chose Harry to be his adversary, not you. We know that because Voldemort marked Harry with his curse scar. The prophecy goes as follows.


"Yes, that means what you think it means. Harry must kill Voldemort, or die in the attempt."

When Harry felt Hermione’s hand tremble in his own, he released it and put his arm around her shoulder. She leaned against him for comfort.

"The second prophecy comes by way of the Hogwarts Sorting hat’s song this past September.

"A warning, united I told last year,

Ignore you did, my words so clear.

And now light dims and darkness falls,

Hogwarts to ashes ‘tis the end o’ all.

The sunset comes, it looms so near

Evil will spread with rule and fear.

The light falters, and hope undone.

Sunset comes with a darkening sun.

From blackest night will beacon burn,

To an emerald land all hope will turn.

The land will burn and death bells ring,

From the ashes of all will a hero spring,

Brotherhood arising, legends of yore,

Old power awakes and so much more.

Legends renewed, his spirit unbroken,

The evil’s bane these words are spoken.

"This second prophecy clearly suggests that something dire will happen to Hogwarts, most likely during this school year. And it, in turn, leads us to the third and final prophecy, which was exposed only in the last month.


"Again, we know the chosen child to be Harry, and the first part of this prophecy seems to agree with the part about Hogwarts burning in the second prophecy. In short, ladies and gentlemen, this third prophecy is the direst of all because it clearly says that Voldemort will come to conquer England sometime during late April or May, the time of the Bull."

Remus stopped and passed out written copies of all three prophecies for everyone to read. Terry’s father, John, raised a hand. Remus nodded to him.

"Excuse me, Mr. Lupin, I’m just a muggle who married a witch. If Harry’s the one to go after Voldemort, why doesn’t he just go do it and get it over with?"

"That’s a good questions, Mr. Boot. The short answer is, he can’t. We’re dealing with a prophecy conflict here. Due to the way Harry was raised, he has put the first prophecy into conflict. The first prophecy clearly stated that Harry and Voldemort would be equals. Harry has no equal in Wizarding world in terms of raw power. And until Voldemort can reach Harry’s level, they can’t face each other. The prophecy would prevent it. Should Harry try to force the issue…"

"Imagine every atom of your body exploding outwards at the speed of light," muttered Harry.

"Total protonic reversal," quipped Hermione.

"Ok, important safety tip. Don’t cross the streams," added Dan.

Emma rounded on all three of them. "Will you three please stop quoting movie lines? This is serious!"

Remus smiled lightly. "Easy Emma, a little levity never hurts. But all jokes aside, no one is sure exactly what would happen if you tried to force a prophecy in conflict. There are records of conflicting prophecies in the past, but they’ve always had their conflicts resolved before the prophecy took effect."

"Excuse me Remus, but what makes you so sure that Harry is stronger than Voldemort at this point?" asked Professor Flitwick.

"There are several indicators, Filius, but I think the key one is Harry underwent a much delayed Matura Magicus this past summer, which lasted for fifteen days…that’s three hundred and sixty hours. Then there’s the fact that he can manipulate spells that have already been cast, see and manipulate auras, both on people and objects…I could go on, but I think most of you are catching my drift here," Remus replied softly.

He then looked at Harry, who nodded in thanks before standing up to address everyone again.

"So there you have it. Sometime in the time of Taurus, Voldemort is going to conquer England, muggle and Wizarding worlds alike. According to prophecy, I have to leave the country and watch England burn from a distance. Well, I don’t like that very much and I’m not going to go alone. Each of you and your families will be coming with me. And each of you will be helping me to save more than just we few.

"At the end of this meeting, you will all receive a package detailing what we need you to do. Also in the package will be personal portkeys for everyone in your immediate family, which will bring you all here. Finally, certain select individuals will also be given access to funds to allow them to buy the materials and help they’ll need to accomplish their tasks.

"I want to be perfectly clear just how serious I am about this. As of today, Remus has spent more than five million galleons setting up our sanctuary. That sanctuary will contain housing, a school and a hospital. It’s being constructed even as I tell you about it."

Quite a number of people sat up at that pronouncement.

"I’ll be passing out envelopes with your names on them. In each envelope you will find a basic outline of what we need for you to do to help make this plan work. I want each of you to read it carefully, think about how it might be improved, then come see me. If you’re stumped about how to proceed, talk to Remus, Fred or George Weasley. They’re our experts at sneaking around.

"In a few moments we’ll break up this meeting and lunch will be served. Please take your time and enjoy your meal. There’s a library on the second floor if you wish to look anything up and I’ll be here to answer any questions for you all day. I urge you all to consider staying over for a day or two so we can have ample time to discuss what needs to be done. We have plenty of spare bedrooms." Harry looked each person in the eye, and then sat down.

The room broke out into a buzz as people started reading their letters. Harry sagged in his chair and bit his lip nervously. The easy part was over and the difficult part was now beginning.   The plan was in the hands of the people who would be exercising it. It was make or break time.

Hermione rubbed his thigh gently under the table as they both watched and waited.

Authors Notes:

To the person who asked to use our t-shirt sayings to place on real t-shirts to sell, we wouldn’t advise it.   It’s not that we mind so much as the fact that, unless you’re just DYING to meet JKR’s lawyers, it really isn’t such a good idea.   If you make any money using her work (in this case, the Potterverse), you’ll find yourself sued rather quickly and we are NOT responsible in any way, shape or form.

We thought the Headmaster’s motives were obvious enough by now.   He’s after fame, for the most part.   He doesn’t want to be Minister of Magic or anything like that.   He wants his name to go down in history…he wants to be remembered as a greater wizard than Merlin, a wizard who’s killed TWO dark wizards.   Yes, he wants Voldemort to die, but it’s not so much to "save the world" as it is to make a name for himself.

Many of you think Harry’s leg is going to hamper him.   In some respects you’re right…but then again…   You’ll find out…but not until the sequel (aren’t we evil?) so you might as well stop asking (Evil Cackle) :D

To the reviewer who mentioned writer’s block, may a thousand fleas infest your armpits if you’ve jinxed us! :p However, one note on that subject.   If you write yourself an outline, you’ll do a lot to avoid that horrid condition.

How do we write so fast?   No sleep, much caffeine and sore fingers.   Oh, and a good outline!

Ah yes, the "Big Plan".   Well, you’ve got a few hints of it here.   You’ll get more as the story continues.

Hrm…the "emasculation of Hermione"?   We weren’t aware she had balls.   Damn, Harry’s going to be surprised, isn’t he?   Yes, we’re kidding.   We don’t feel that acknowledging her desire for Harry, while still being annoyed at what her hormones can do, in any way weakens her. You’re welcome to your opinion of course. We just thought we’d clarify our own.

Oh, and to all of those who guessed the leaving date wrongly (New Year, right after boxing day, etc), all we can say is: NEENER NEENER! :p   We were rather surprised at some of the research some of you went to in order to find the (wrong) answer, but honestly, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar…and the "Time of the Bull" is Taurus, April/May :D

We’re going to cut the A/N short this time around.   We want to get this posted sometime tonight.   If we didn’t answer your question here and you really want an answer, ask it on our Yahoo group.   If you’re not a member, you can find the address on the Author’s homepage link.

Pet Peeves:

Obsessive Detail!!!! Just when I think I hit pay dirt and find a nice long story, it turns out that the author has spent sixty percent of the chapters describing the texture and weave, plus color of the robes Harry is buying. Is it really necessary for an author to tell us that he bought forty two rainbow colored, glow in the dark, condoms, thirty pairs of socks with optional toe holes, two hundred pairs of boxers, sixty eight pairs of slacks with bell bottoms, made from a fine weave denim with buttons instead of a zipper, but there’s a zipper in the back in case of emergencies, and each pocket is enchanted to spew donuts on command. The belt loops are rated to hold two and a half tons of weight, and on every other Thursday the slacks will ring like bells, unless it’s a full moon at which point they hum a cute little ditty.

Am I making my point? A trip to Diagon Alley shouldn’t consume more than a chapter, hell, it could be done in two paragraphs. The same could be said for Christmas gifts. We describe a few gifts which we feel help enhance the emotional depth of the story, but never see the need to list every blipping gift that is handed out.

Oh yeah, here is another clue boys and girls! Diagon Alley is not the Wizarding World version of an international arms black market. I don’t see how this shopping center suddenly holds everything from body forming armor to swords, battle axes, tanks and nuclear submarines. Maybe Ollivanders has a backroom where he is developing biological weapons and Gringotts is really a front for ELF, the Militant Elf Liberation Front.

That’s it, folks.   We hope you’ve enjoyed it.   Chapter 13 is being written and will be up soon.

Bob and Alyx

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