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Sunset Over Britain
Thievery, Surprises and Noodles

By Bobmin

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Standard Disclaimer:

Hermione and Harry stood in front of the cave where they had trapped Ron.

"RON!" shouted Hermione. "Just say the words and we’ll leave you alone! I promise!"

"NO! You’re going to try to kill me again! And with Poppy dead, there’s no one to bring me back to life," Ron replied from deep within the cave.

"There’s always Bob and Alyx, Ron. Now please say the words. I’ll let you see my nipples if you do."

"Can I see Harry’s instead?" came the voice. Hermione turned to Harry and he nodded.

"Yes, Ron."

"Oh, fine. The authors of this story want you to know that they own nothing from this universe. All this belongs to JK Rowling, not them," Ron’s voice echoed through the cave.

Nodding, Harry and Hermione moved over to the detonator that Harry had been setting up. With a quick twist of the wrist, the mouth of the cave exploded in a shower of rock and dust.

"No one sees my nipples except, Hermione!" Harry growled as he and Hermione walked off.

"Really, Bob! Aren’t you making those two a bit too bloodthirsty?" asked Alyx in a huffy voice.

Bob looked up from roasting Snape over a slow fire. "No, I don’t think so. Now pass me the BBQ sauce please."

"Fine, but be careful with it.   You put too much on Dumbledore last time."

Sunset Over Britain
Chapter 21

 Ministry of Magic, Office of Deputy Minister (Third week in March)…

Lucius Malfoy leaned back in his chair and put his feet up on his desk. In just a short week and a half, he had gone from wanted criminal to the second most powerful political figure in the Wizarding world. It hadn't been easy. There had been a few unanticipated bumps in the road. Dolohov claimed that something had spooked the dementors. Over two dozen dementors had taken ill on Azkaban Island and died for no reason anyone could determine. As a result, they were unable to get any dementors to return to the island fortress to guard the prisoners, so they had to send their own guards, which resulted in a drain on manpower.

Dolohov thought that the dementors reaction could be related to a possible breakout. But the simple fact was, no one was keeping records of who got sent there, so a head count was a useless exercise. On the plus side, Dolohov had managed to replace or fire nearly the entire Auror force as well as most of the Unspeakables. The remaining members of the Wizengamot were either marked as Death Eaters, or firmly in the pure blood camp.

Lucius was busy shutting down department after department. The office of Centaur liaisons, the Office of Misuse of Muggle Artifacts, the office of Muggle Relations, all had been closed down.

And while things might be going well within the Ministry, even Lucius had to admit things were not going well outside of it. In an open letter sent to the Quibbler, as well as Wizarding Governments around the world, Gringotts formally voided the Treaty of Kent as far as the British Ministry was concerned. Ragnok announced that everyone's accounts would be held in suspension until such time as conditions once again permitted Gringotts to operate on British soil. The morning that letter was published, an unbreakable shield descended in front of every Gringotts branch in the country. After three days of trying, the Government had given up trying to break it down.

The Wizarding public had a more violent reaction to the closing of Gringotts. They blamed the Ministry and if any uniformed Ministry employees appeared in public, they were often attacked. The closing of Gringotts had thrown the Wizarding economy into complete turmoil. All of this kept Lucius busy, with most of his days spent scrambling to use the muggle banking establishments, but the turmoil in the muggle world had disrupted many of those as well.

The only real ray of good news as far as Lucius was concerned was that the Ministry was finally cleaned out of unreliable elements and they could finally start working on the general population, weeding out those people and groups who were a threat to their way. Soon, very soon, they would start that process.

The Shrieking Shack…

Dumbledore and Snape returned on Tuesday from an excursion to the seedier side of the Wizarding world on the continent. Dumbledore had gotten wind of an ancient Babylonian text that was dedicated exclusively to power amplification rituals and they both went to track it down. The text had ended up costing Dumbledore a considerable amount of the ready cash he had available. Fortunately, he was able to tap a continental Order account he had set up several years back to refill his money bag.

The news coming out of Britain was not good at all.   They had learned about the giant attack on Hogsmeade and of the casualties, although not what had happened to Madam Pomfrey. The foreign media services were busy calling on their governments to break off relations with the British Ministry of Magic over their lack of action. Not a single Government had done so as of yet, but the British Ministry was becoming increasingly isolated and unpopular.

Dumbledore and Snape apparated to a small clearing not far from the Shrieking Shack. It was one of the closest spots to the Shack one could to apparate to and still remain unobserved.

Approaching the Shack, it was obvious to the two men that something was seriously wrong. Most of the windows in the rear of the building were broken and the ground near the back was torn up.

Snape stopped for a moment in shock, and then darted to the Shack. He had left several key experiments cooking and whatever happened to the shack could have disrupted those experiments. Dumbledore followed him at a more sedate pace.

Snape looked up from the three cauldrons as Dumbledore entered the shack, his expression a mixture of rage and despair. "They’re all ruined!"

"I thought that might be the case when we first heard about the attack, Severus. Frankly, I think we should consider ourselves lucky that we still have an abode to live in."

Snape snarled at the older man. He’d now have to waste several days to restart the experiments!

"Tell me, Severus, did you happen to see why all the windows are broken and why the ground is torn up out back?" asked Dumbledore in that annoyingly mild manner of his.

Snape shook his head and continued to survey the damage.

"My boy, you must learn to look for causes. Some fifty yards up the path towards the school lies the corpse of a giant. Presumably one of the two giants that attacked Hogsmeade this past weekend."

Snape whipped his head up to stare at the older man for a moment, then he started to pull down jars and tools.

"We must harvest the parts tonight, Headmaster," Snape said fervently.

"Oh. I quite agree. Severus. But for now, lets put this place back into one piece, shall we? Reparo!" Dumbledore muttered, his wand pointed at the window. The shards of glass flew back into place.

Grimmauld Place…

Dan looked up from his tea as Emma walked into the study. She had been spending her days at Padfoot, helping Narcissa, then returning in the evenings to rejoin her husband. Today she was early.

Dan started to stand when Emma waved him back to his seat. "Emma? Is something wrong?"

"Not really. I guess I just missed my husband," she replied pensively.

Dan looked at her thoughtfully. They had been together over twenty years and he had become adept at reading her moods. He stood and wrapped an arm around her shoulders, steering her to a nearby chair.

"What’s bothering you, Em?" he asked gently.

"I had finished sending off the last of our letters to the families, so I decided to take a walk through the town that Harry’s built," she said quietly. "Did you know we actually have nearly seventy people living there now? Most of them are Aurors and their families who Amelia got out. I saw this one woman, she couldn't have been more than a year or two older than Hermione, and she had a tot at her knee and another in her arms. Her husband worked for the Ministry as some sort of clerk.

"She was crying, so I went over to comfort her before she upset her babies. These people, they may be wizards and witches, but they are our people, Dan. They aren't African refugees we see on the telly, they aren't Bosnian refugees. They are our people. The girl was from Manchester, her husband from Cornwall.

"After she calmed down, I left her and continued to wandered around for a bit before coming back here. Soon we'll leave this little haven for another country, leaving so many behind!" she exclaimed, biting back a sob.

Dan leaned over her chair and pulled Emma into a tight hug. "Sweetheart, we knew this was going to happen. If there’s one thing I don't envy Harry for, it's how he feels about this. Hermione tells me this gnaws at him. He wants to save everyone, he wants to face down Voldemort and kill him so that no one else has to die. We do all we can Em, that's what Harry is struggling to do, that's what we're going to keep doing. But I am glad that Harry advanced the portkey date on those letters. The way things are going, April first seems better to my mind."

Emma nodded into his shoulder in agreement, but it didn’t really make her feel much better.

Team Weasley, later that evening…

The museum had been closed for hours when four pops were heard in the Great Court.

Arthur Weasley looked around from under his invisibility cloak and pointed to Bill. Bill nodded and pointed his wand at the cameras that were mounted on the walls. Within a few minutes all of the cameras in the Great Court were showing empty images and would continue to do so until dawn.

Bill moved into room #4, the Egyptian Center and disabled the security cameras in there as well. He then motioned to Arthur and the twins to enter the room. Once inside, they removed their invisibility cloaks and relaxed.

"Do you have the list, Bill?" asked Arthur.

"I've got it right here, Dad," said Bill patting a pocket in his robe.

"Well, brother mine, what’s the first thing on the list?" asked George.

"Yes, do tell us. What shall we pilfer first?" quipped Fred.

Bill rummaged in his pocket and pulled out a multi-parchment list.

"I knew we should have gotten someone other than Hermione to make that list!" declared Fred.

George nodded in agreement.

"She wants us to find something called a Rosetta Stone," Bill said dubiously.

"A Rosetta Stone? Why didn't she just conjure one?" asked Fred curiously.

"Can you conjure a Rosetta Stone?" George asked his brother archly.

"Probably, if you show me what one looks like first," replied Fred smugly.

"So maybe Hermione doesn't know what a Rosetta looks like?" offered Arthur.

Both twins sighed and shook their heads. "No, if Hermione wants one, it's important and mustn't be conjurable," George mused.

Bill shook his head in exasperation. "If we'd just start looking instead of talking, I'm sure we'd find out why she wants it a lot sooner."

"Alright then, spread out and look for it. The muggles name things in here, so read the little cards next to each object," offered Arthur.

The four men fanned out, checking the exhibits for a few minutes before Fred spotted their target.

"OY! Over here. I've got it," he said standing in front of glass case.

The others joined him looking at the large stone tablet.

"It's busted," protested George.

"Well don't look at me! I didn't break it," proclaimed Fred.

 "Don't worry about that now, boys. Let’s get it out of the case and then we'll fix it. I've noticed a number of broken objects in this place. We’ll fix what we can as we gather the stuff on our list," said Arthur. The others nodded in reply. Bill banished one face of the glass case and levitated the heavy stone out.

Fred expanded a large crate to put the stone in. Once the stone was in the box, Arthur pulled out his wand and pointed at the stone.

"Restituo is res," he intoned. There was a brief flash of orange light.

"Neat spell, Dad! That's much better than Reparo," George said in admiration.

"Yes, you don't need the original pieces like you do with Reparo. It's something we needed in the Misuse office in case all the pieces weren't available," Arthur explained with a grin.

"Right then, we have a bunch more stuff to collect from this room. Let’s get cracking," Bill ordered, with a smile.

The four moved out. The list compiled by Hermione and her mother would take them a while to gather up.   Though they hadn’t discussed it, they fixed those broken exhibits they came across, even those they weren’t taking with them.


AP News Feed…

Curators at the famed British Museum announced this morning that over four hundred priceless and rare one-of-a-kind objects were stolen last night. Scotland Yard is investigating the theft of nearly four tons of objects and a spokesperson for Scotland Yard said this couldn’t have been done without help from the night security and custodial staff.

Among the objects missing are rare manuscripts and tapestries, Egyptian objects including jewelry and heavier objects like the Rosetta Stone. Strangely enough, nothing appears on the security cameras.

In other news related to the United Kingdom, Holland became the fifth country imposing a ban on all incoming travel from the British Isles. Holland’s Health Secretary cites the strange sleeping sickness that has so far claimed over one hundred thousand victims.

Britain’s Prime Minister is planning to meet with select members of Parliament tonight, and then with the Queen tomorrow. There are unconfirmed rumors that the subject of the meeting will be the implementing of martial law on a countrywide scale.

The Government announced that the fires are finally under control in Newcastle. While aid is still pouring into that city, more is desperately needed as over fifty thousand have been made homeless in the disaster.

Finally, the American State Department has upped its concern about Americans in Britain today, issuing the first ever Travel Warning. Americans are urged not to travel to Britain and those already in Britain are urged to leave as soon as possible.

Padfoot Manor and Haven…

Narcissa woke to the sound of a soft cough and a gentle prodding. Opening one eye, she spotted Winky, Harry’s house elf, looking at her with a worried expression.

"Winky, what’s wrong?" asked Narcissa. Although she had been raised to treat house elves as little more than bound servants, Harry’s treatment of the house elves had worn off on many of the adults around him.

"Winky is sorry to be waking Mistress, but we’s had some families show up last night. They be scared and uncertain of what they’s be doing. Winky thinks that if yous talk to them…?" the little elf asked hopefully.

Narcissa bolted upright in her bed and could have smacked herself for not thinking about this! This should have been obvious, but we completely overlooked it, she thought angrily to herself. We need to set up some sort of procedure for handling people as they arrive here.

She moved from her bed to her dresser and immediately started pulling out clothing. Then she paused and looked at the little elf.   "Winky, go get a few of the elves and start up the kitchen. I want you to set up some tables and chairs in front of manor for now. Bring our new arrivals there and see they are all fed. Once they’re eating, I’ll come out to talk to them. After breakfast, please send a message to Remus to ask him to come see me today."

Winky, glad to have something to do, nodded gratefully. With a soft pop, she vanished.

Narcissa continued to dress, knowing that the elves would do their best for the families, while she thought about what she could and could not tell these newcomers. Mentally, she went over her checklist of things that had been discussed and slowly put together a short welcoming speech.

Smoothing her dress, she hurried from her room to the grand foyer of the manor house and exited the building. What she saw caught her up by surprise. The elves had placed nearly a dozen tables under a tarp. Near one edge of the tarp was a row of tables filled with food and a small crowd of people lining up to fill their plates. A small group of children ran between the tables, their excited voices adding to the overall din.

Narcissa shook her head and marveled at how resilient small children were. Not for the first time, she wished she’d had more. Steeling her nerve, she stepped onto the small platform and waited for everyone to spot her.

It took a few minutes, and more than one parent to catch a squirming child, but ultimately all eyes were on her.

"Before I begin, I must ask if there are there any healers, matrons or medi-witches among you?" asked Narcissa. She smiled gratefully when she spotted two hands go up.

"Excellent, I’d like to speak with both of you once I’m done here. Now, let me start with an introduction. I am Narcissa Black and I represent Lord Potter-Black, your host here at Padfoot Manor.

"Lord Potter-Black knew that times would get very hard as Voldemort," she paused as nearly everyone cringed at the name, "seized control of our country. Since he knew this time was coming, he took it upon himself to build this place for his friends, his family and his countrymen."

"What we have here is the manor house, which you see before you. Down the road a bit is a town. The town is mostly empty, but there is room for a thousand families. The people who are living there now have taken to calling the town Haven. There’s a primary and an intermediary school, although right now they are just empty buildings. There’s a hospital, which desperately needs staff. The town hall has been turned into a community kitchen, in which you and your families can meet and share meals with your neighbors.

"The purpose of all this is twofold, and where you fit into the grand scheme of things is entirely your choice. The first purpose is to make homes for those who wish to stay, hence the empty shops, schools and hospital. There is everything here to make this a permanent home. The second purpose is more serious. It is from here that we will go about the business of rescuing our countrymen and, ultimately, taking back our country.

"You are more than guests here. This is a safe place for you to make a home for yourselves and your families, but we need your help. We need teachers for our schools, shopkeepers and craftsmen, and trained medical personnel for the hospital.

Nothing need happen today, however.   Today you will all be fed and taken to places to stay. If you need medial assistance, just call for a Padfoot elf and they will show you were the hospital is.   I also ask that, sometime within the next two days, you sign the registry in the town hall. Please indicate what your job was and what skills you might possess, as well as listing all of your family members on the registry. Now, if you have any questions, I’ll be available to answer them for you."

A tall man stood in the back of the crowd and quickly doffed off his hat. "John Comber, my lady. This Lord Potter-Black, you aren’t by any chance referring to Harry Potter are you?"

Narcissa nodded. "Yes Mr. Comber, Harry Potter is Lord Potter-Black, your host, if you will. I can assure you that all of the news in the papers about Harry Potter being another Dark Lord are completely false."

"Does Lord Potter-Black claim lordship over us?" asked Comber seriously.

Narcissa bit back a small chuckle and shook her head. "No, Mr. Comber, Harry Potter wants only a few things from you. He wants you to be safe, he wants you to be happy, and he asks that you live as you have been living, guided by the principles of both English and Wizarding law. But he does not want your oath of fealty. He lays no claim to lordship over you, or anyone here. For those of you who decide to leave this place and move on, you will be asked to sign a binding contract of secrecy to safeguard this place and those who live here. But make no mistake. Harry Potter does not ask for your loyalty. Nor will he force it upon you," she said in a loud voice, staring at the crowd.

John Comber nodded thoughtfully, then placed a hand on the shoulder of a young woman who looked like she hadn’t slept in the last few days. In her arms was an infant and next to her sat another small child, drinking from a cup. The woman looked up at her husband, a tear streaming down her eye and she clutched at her child.

"Me and my family have been running for three days now, ever since they closed the office of International Commerce. I was the only one to get out of the office that morning. They killed my boss outright, those ‘Aurors’," he said with loathing. "I got home and got Janie and little Mike and little Janie and we ran with just the clothes on our back.

"An ex-Auror I knew told us how to make our way here. And now you say our host is the same boy the press says is a Dark Lord. Well, I’ll say this, to hell with the press. We’ve eaten for the first time in three days. The first thing that happened on our arrival was a matron checked little Mike and gave him a potion. We’re warm again and you say we’re safe. I don’t know how we can help with your purposes, but Merlin bless you, my lady and Merlin bless Mr. Harry Potter!"

Narcissa smiled in relief. Harry’s reputation would probably not always be so well received, but at least with this group it had been. A number of the people surrounding Mr. Comber nodded in agreement. There were a number of popping sounds from outside the tarp as house elves appeared to show people to the town and their new homes.

Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry…

Lucius Malfoy walked up the road from Hogsmeade to Hogwarts. He had been looking forward to this day for some time now and it was his turn to get revenge.   He smiled as the school came into view and he quickened his pace, making the men following him increase their own.

Harry sat with his friends at lunch when the Great Hall rang with bell like tone. He glanced at the open doors to the Great Hall and waved a hand shutting them. Then he stood and approached the Head table.

Minerva McGonagall looked up as her student approached and wondered what news he brought this time. The bell tone was unknown to her.

"Professor, we have four men who have the Dark Mark approaching the castle right now. That sound was my detection ward being triggering," Harry said in an urgent whisper.

Minerva looked at the closed doors worriedly, and then at the smirking young man before her. "Just what are you planning, Mister Potter?"

Harry's grin broadened in reply and he turned as the doors to the Great Hall shot open with a bang, startling most of the students in the hall.

Lucius Malfoy stood in the entrance and scanned the crowd looking for Draco. Harry concentrated for a moment and then released one of the spells he planned to use. Draco stood up and started to move away from the table when Lucius caught the movement. He spun quickly and nodded to one of his three companions.

"Draco Black-Malfoy, you are placed under arrest. Surrender your wand and come with us peacefully," ordered the man. Clearly he was one of the new breed of Aurors.

The man lifted his wand. Luna and the rest of the Outcasts struggled to get up from their seats, but some force held them stuck fast. Hermione shot Harry a distraught look. He nodded reassuringly at her.

"I'll not go with you, Father. If you want to bow and kiss the testicles of that mongrel half blood, Voldemort, that’s your choice. But then you always were into deviant sexual behavior," Draco shot back defiantly.

The students gasped in surprise at Draco’s pronouncement. Lucius stepped back as if he’d been slapped. "So you've finally gained a bit of a back bone, eh boy? A bit late, if you ask me," Lucius replied, then turned to one his men. "Make him feel pain, but don't damage him. We need him breathing to find Narcissa and for their trial."

The man nodded and smiled evilly in Draco's direction. Then he lifted his wand and fired off a bone breaking hex in one fluid motion. Luna screamed and the hex hit Draco squarely in the chest. Depending on the strength of the hex, that location could result in broken ribs or a broken back.

Draco appeared to cringe, and then he straightened up to stare the Auror in the eye, saying nothing. The Auror growled at the lack of response. "Crucio," cried the man. The spell leapt from the Auror's wand tip, speeding across the dozen or so feet separating the two.

Suddenly a blue translucent shield snapped into being between Draco and the oncoming spell. The spell hit the shield and ricocheted up to the ceiling The Auror turned to Lucius with an expression of astonishment on his face. No one could block an Unforgivable!

Lucius snarled and was about to order all of them to fire on his son when he was distracted by movement at the entrance to the Great Hall. A single figure walked into the hall wearing a concealment cloak. The figure stopped near the entrance and threw back his cloak. He was a very tall man, and quite old looking. In one hand he held a staff that he appeared to lean upon heavily.

"Lucius Malfoy, you and your Lord hold no authority over Hogwarts, nor it's students while they reside here," intoned the man.

"Stay out of this, old man, or we'll take you in as well. We're on official Government business," said one of the Aurors.

"A rude adult is a result of not being taught manners as a child, " said the figure. "Repeat your childhood and try to do better next time."

The figure gestured with his staff and the Auror flinched, looking terrified. The man screamed once then quickly regressed in age to that of a toddler. Lucius paused to consider what had happened. There was no visible spell, no incantation, and no beam of energy. Just a slight gesture on the part of the figure and even that gesture seemed unnecessary. The display of power was formidable.

The figure turned to Lucius again. "Lucius Malfoy, as per the Hogwarts Charter of 983, signed by the four founders and the Ministry of Magic, Hogwarts and its environs are exempt from the Ministry's laws and influences. You have no authority within these walls to arrest anyone. Do not force me to remind you of what happened in our last encounter," said the figure ominously.

Lucius gaped at the old man for a moment before spinning on his heel and marching towards the doors. "We'll be back!" he snarled over his shoulder.   "Count on it, old man!"

The cloaked figure watched Lucius for a moment longer, then he too walked out of the Great Hall. As soon as he disappeared, the hall erupted in noise. The toddler looked around in fear and started to cry.

Minerva stood from her seat and fired off a spell that made a loud noise, designed to catch everyone’s attention.   "Prefects, escort the students to their houses. This morning’s classes are cancelled. The afternoon’s classes will probably be held as scheduled," she said sternly.

Harry leaned up against the Head table, his complexion had gone pale and he was panting slightly. He pulled his staff out of his pocket and expanded it to normal size, then he hobbled over to the nearby Hufflepuff table and sat heavily. His friends cautiously joined him as Minerva and the rest of the faculty walked around the Head Table, approaching him.

Harry spotted Luna’s distraught look. When the Brotherhood member had vanished, he had dispelled the illusion of Draco as well. He murmured a quick spell, then turned to look at Terry.

"Terry, would you run up to the Head Suite and ask Draco to join us, please? I’ve released the barrier on the door," he said tiredly.

"Mr. Potter, would you kindly explain what is going on?" asked Professor McGonagall.

"It was an illusion, Professor. As soon as I saw Lucius Malfoy come in, I knew he was after Draco. I sent Draco to the Head Suite and locked him in, replacing him with an illusion," Harry replied.

McGonagall paled and her hands shook slightly. "You sent Draco to the Head Suite? Might I ask how you accomplished that?"

Hermione sat down on the bench next to Harry and poured him a cup of hot chocolate. He sipped it, and then smiled gratefully at her. He furrowed his brow together for a moment in concentration.

"It’s a lot like when I tandem apparate, Professor. I extend the apparation field over the person I’m moving. This time I just excluded myself from the field."

"Harry, you can’t just apparate people by themselves," Hermione said breathlessly.

Harry looked at her for a long moment as she blushed. Her comment was silly and she knew it.

"It’s not something I plan on doing often, Hermione. That apparation and what followed took a lot of power to accomplish."

"POTTER!" yelled an irate blond Slytherin. He was unable to say anything else however, as he was immediately assaulted by a blond Ravenclaw.

Harry snickered at Draco’s dilemma, and then turned back to Professor McGonagall. "What I had my illusion tell Malfoy was accurate, up to a point. The charter does say the Ministry has no jurisdiction here in the school. But that is a tactic that will, at best, only buy us a week, maybe a little longer. The charter also states that, in times of emergency, the Ministry can assume jurisdiction. Meaning if the Ministry wants to declare a state of emergency, then they can come in here without Hogwarts interfering."

"Aye Mister Potter, I’m aware of what the charter says. And next time, Malfoy will return with a lot more people at his disposal."

The implications were clear and they all knew it. They would have to find some way of stalling the Ministry for a few weeks longer.

Malfoy Manor, that evening…

Archibald Richfield leaned back in the plush ottoman and puffed on his cigar. "An excellent dinner, Lucius! Most excellent! Your house elves have considerable talent."

"Yes, we’ve trained them well over the years," replied Lucius.

Richfield eyed Malfoy thoughtfully. News of his humiliating retreat from Hogwarts this morning had spread like wildfire in the halls of the Ministry of Magic. Lucius had suffered a blow to his reputation and Richfield was sure this dinner was Lucius’ way of trying to rebuild it, by obtaining the good will of the Minister himself. Richfield grinned smugly to himself. Having Lucius in his back pocket would be a nice change for once.

"Walk with me, Archie. There’s someone I’d like you to meet," said Lucius.

Richfield rose, thinking Lucius was about to introduce him to some entertainment of the female kind, and grinned at him. Yes, owning Malfoy and having Malfoy owing him would make for a very nice change.

The two walked into the depths of Malfoy Manor. Lucius led Richfield into a large chamber where a figure sat on a great throne. Lucius bowed before the figure and Richfield gasped at the red glowing eyes.

"My lord, the Minister of Magic." said Lucius.

"B-B-But you’re a myth! You can’t exist!" gasped Richfield.

Voldemort turned cold eyes on the Minister of Magic. "Of course I exist. Without me, you never would have been elected. Now it’s time for you to accept your mark, Richfield."

"But… but… but…"

"Come Richfield, did you really think you won your position based on your policies? Of course you didn’t. Fool! You won your position because I allowed it, because I had your opposition eliminated, because I had the position opened in the first place by killing Fudge.

"Now you will accept your mark, and your orders from Lucius here, or I will have you eliminated and Lucius will assume your position. And by morning your daughters will be whoring for my men."

Richfield stood trembling. A dark spot appeared and then grew on his trousers and he nodded tearfully.

"Excellent. Kneel, Mr. Richfield, and swear fealty to me. Swear your oath of obedience on your very life and the lives of your family," Voldemort said, his eyes smoldering with disdain at the man’s cowardice.

Lucius watched without flinching as the mark was burned into the Minister’s arm. Richfield writhed and cried on the floor, submitting to the fate he thought he could avoid simply by denying the reality of his rise to power.

When Voldemort was finally done, he turned to Lucius. "Lucius, my newest servant still needs to be taught a lesson tonight. When he awakens, take him home and show him what happens to servants who displease me. Use his youngest daughter," Voldemort said with a sneer.

Lucius bowed low in acknowledgement and turned to Richfield when Voldemort stopped him again.

"Lucius… I have heard the rumors about what happened at Hogwarts today. Do not let your anticipation of vengeance on your son rush you into a foolish move. Leave Hogwarts alone for now. When the time is ripe, you will return with an overwhelming force and take it for my new home. Yes… I think using Hogwarts as my new home would suit me well, wouldn’t you agree?"

"Yes, my Lord. Hogwarts would make an excellent palace for you," Lucius said with a smile.

Voldemort shifted in his seat and grinned evilly. "Go then, Lucius, and enjoy your evening. I hope to hear her screams from here."

Lucius bowed again and lifted Richfield up by the back of his shirt. "Come Archie, we are to pay a visit on your daughter," he sneered.

Grimmauld place, the next day…

Nymphadora Tonks walked around the room she shared with Remus. She was barefoot at the moment, and very angry. Since the Sunday following Richfield’s election to the post of Minister, she had been cooped up in Grimmauld Place with little to do. Remus was spending most of his days at Padfoot. She’d gone over there the first few days, but there really wasn’t anything she could do there yet. Miles was working on the Operations Center, and the Aurors who had escaped were being formed up into units.

The problem was that Harry had forbidden her to join a unit and that left her with nothing to do. Remus explained that Harry was forming what he called his Inner Council and that included her. No one on the Inner Council would be included in the operational units as regulars. She supposed it was an honor to be included, but at the moment she didn’t feel particularly honored.

She kicked a pillow across the room and sat heavily in a chair waiting for the time when Remus would return for dinner.

Tonks looked up when Remus walked into the room an hour later. He had established very early in their relationship that he did not want her assuming new forms for him. It was one of the reasons she loved both him and Harry. They were more interested in knowing Nymphadora Tonks for who she was rather than whom she could look like. That didn’t mean that she wasn’t above using her skills on a more subtle scale with her man, however.

A slight softening of her features, a little added luster to her hair and a little more fullness to her lips. She used her abilities the way a normal woman used makeup. She quickly assumed her most appealing regular face and smiled brightly when Remus entered. "Remy?" she asked.

"Hmmm?" Remus sat down tiredly on edge of the bed and looked at her.

"Remy, do you think we can go out for dinner tonight? I’ve been cooped up in here practically since I resigned and it’s beginning to drive me bug shit," she said softly, then she pulled out her big gun. "Now I know what Sirius felt like cooped up in this house."

Remus wiped his face tiredly. "Maybe going out to eat would be a good idea, Tonks. Do you have any idea where you want to go?"

Tonks paused for a moment, this was going to be easier than she thought. "I know a good Chinese place near Hyde Park.

"Do you want to invite the Grangers?"

She smiled demurely at him and shook her head, then stood and walked to the closet and pulled out a fairly revealing dress. Remus’ eyes lit up.

"Right. I’ll go let the Grangers know they’re on their own tonight," he said, smiling.


Ministry of Magic, Department of Magical Law Enforcement…

Marcus Flint stepped out of his office and headed towards the lifts. He had spent the day processing prisoners to be sent to the holding pens in Azkaban and he was tired. He planned on getting a quick bite to eat and then going home to the three imperious controlled girls he kept for his entertainment.

He sighed as he pressed the button for the lift and waited. He hated his job. Not because he was doing anything wrong, but because there was no room for advancement. Short of killing his supervisor or doing something spectacular, he was stuck in this dead end position. And unless he got lucky, he was there to stay.

He smiled evilly as he saw several of the Aurors dragging in some new prisoners. Then he snorted. Let the night crew handle them, he thought.


Wong’s Noodle Emporium…

Flint stepped into Wong’s Noodle Emporium in a really foul mood. He had spotted several pretty girls who he could have added to his collection, but there had been too many muggles present to do anything.

Wong’s was a cozy little restaurant, with mostly local clientele. The walls were decorated in alternating panels of mirrors and Oriental motif carvings. Despite the troubles plaguing the country, Wong’s was doing a brisk business. That business caused Flint to pause and look around trying to find a seat.

A moment later he gaped in surprise when he spotted a familiar face sitting at a table facing away from the door. It was Remus Lupin, the werewolf who had taught Defense Against the Dark Arts in his seventh year. Lupin’s name was on the wanted list, both as a former Professor of Hogwarts and as a member of Dumbledore’s Order of the Phoenix.

Flint hesitated for a moment. The new Ministry wasn’t afraid of exposing themselves to muggles, but Wong’s was a favorite haunt of Flint’s. In fact, one of the girls in his collection was the owner’s daughter. If he exposed himself here, he’d probably have to end up burning the place down after locking most of the witnesses in. Casting a locking charm on the door, he turned and aimed his wand at Remus’ back.

"Filiolus pango frendo," he said loudly.

Before Remus could react to the casting, he was hit in the shoulder and it shattered, sending bone fragments shooting down into his chest cavity. He swayed for a moment, and then collapsed face down against the table.

There was a moment of silence in the restaurant and then people started screaming. Flint cast a locking charm on the fire exit and the door to the kitchen, then slowly approached Remus’ still figure. The other patrons were clustering around the exits trying to get out. No one wanted to approach the man with the strange stick that shot a beam of light.

Flint edged up to Remus and prodded him with his wand. The werewolf moved slightly and Flint relaxed. He was worth more to Flint alive than he was dead. Maybe that promotion was closer than he had thought!

"STUPEFY!" shouted Tonks from the doorway to the ladies room.

Flint looked up in surprise. Tonks’ shot caught him mid chest and sent him flying backwards into the buffet. Then, without another look in his direction, Tonks rushed over to Remus. She grabbed him by the hand and immediately activated her emergency portkey.


Infirmary, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry…

Danni McNeil rubbed her tired eyes. Finally, a moment a peace, she thought as she sat heavily in her chair. She loved being a healer, but she had never known just how hard a school healer really worked. Between dealing with emotional problems of the smaller children, childhood illnesses, Quidditch injuries and spell injuries, being a healer at Hogwarts kept her on her feet from dawn until well past dusk.

Some of the visitors to the infirmary were more social than medical. Harry and Hermione had visited earlier. He had needed to pick up more of the bath salts he used. The pair stayed for nearly an hour, enjoying a conversation and a cup of tea. They would have stayed longer, but one of the prefects had brought in a suspected case of wizard’s pox and she’d had to ask them to leave so she could work.

Danni sipped her tea. The student with wizard’s pox had been sent back to her house after a quick potion and a few spells. Now she had an infirmary full of empty beds and it was a state she rather enjoyed.

She took another sip of tea, then jumped at the small popping sound behind her. Turning, she saw Dobby looking up at her.

"Hullo Dobby, what can I do for you tonight?"

"Mistress Danni, you is needed back at the city house. Master Remus is hurts very badly," Dobby said, his hands twisting in his tea cozy.

Danni stood and started loading up her traveling kit. "Dobby, find Professor McGonagall and tell her where I am going to be and why. Then, find Harry and tell him the same thing. Tell them both to come to Grimmauld Place."

Dobby nodded and vanished from sight while she continued to fill her kit. Two minutes later she activated her portkey to chaos.


Grimmauld Place…

Danni appeared in the main foyer of Grimmauld Place to the sound of shouting and sobbing. Arthur was holding Tonks in his arms and was the one crying. Amelia knelt by Remus and was attempting to apply what little first aid she remembered from her training more than thirty years earlier. Dan and Emma stood off to one side, watching.

Danni took in the scene with a practiced eye and immediately took charge. "Dan, Emma, take Tonks into the kitchen and get her calmed down. Arthur, conjure a stretcher. Let’s get him into bed where he’ll be comfortable and I can work."

Arthur nodded and passed the distraught Tonks to Emma before conjuring a stretcher. He then moved into the living room and transformed one of the couches into a bed.

Amelia expertly moved Remus onto the stretcher, then into the living room where she placed him on the bed. Danni came in behind her and started pulling potions from her bag. She took in his appearance and didn’t like what she saw. Vanishing his shirt, she could see his shoulder was badly misshapen and massively bruised. She injected a blood-replenishing potion, then cast a spell that transfigured the shattered bone fragments into water.

"Danni?" asked a voice.

She looked up and spotted Harry, Hermione and Professor McGonagall. Harry looked as if he was ready to join Tonks and break down. Danni made a snap decision. She could use Harry and his abilities. "Good, Harry, I need your help," she said softly. "Come stand on the other side of the bed and hold your staff over Remus. Cast the suspensor spell. Do you remember the incantation?"

"I think so. That’s the one that holds his life force in place by loaning him strength, right?"

"Yes, that’s the one."

Harry moved to other side of the bed and held out his staff. "Suspensor Vitalus," he intoned. The crystal on his staff flared with a blue light, bathing Remus. Almost immediately Remus’ breathing slowed down and his expression eased.

Danni nodded to Hermione and Professor McGonagall.   "Everyone else is in the kitchen with Tonks, trying to find out what happened."

It was nearly three hours later when an exhausted Danni and Harry stumbled into the kitchen. All conversation stopped as everyone turned to look at the two of them.

Harry sat next to Hermione and closed his eyes, bowing his head. Danni took a chair next to him, only slightly less tired than Harry was. Emma poured them both a cup of tea.

"Danni?" whispered Tonks. "How is he? He’s not…"

"No, Tonks, rest easy. He’ll live," Danni said heavily. "I don’t recognize the spell that was used on him, but the damage was extensive. I don’t think I could have saved him without Harry’s help. Twice he had to increase the rate of power to the suspensor spell. I’ve never seen anyone do that before."

"Perhaps, but I don’t think I’d want to do it again," murmured Harry. He sat silently for a moment, and then looked at Tonks. "I want to know what happened." His voice was flat, his face expressionless.

"It’s all my fault," Tonks whispered miserably.

Harry arched an eyebrow at her in response.

"I was bored. I have nothing to do now that I’ve resigned. There’s no work for me at Padfoot, nothing to do here, you won’t let me join one of the Auror units that Miles is forming…"

She paused looking at Harry.

"Go on," he said coldly. Tonks flinched. Even Hermione and Professor McGonagall were surprised by his tone.

"I knew we shouldn’t have gone out, Harry, but it was just for a dinner…just one evening. I convinced him to agree against his better judgment," she said softly. "I didn’t even see the attack. I was going to the ladies room when it happened. I came back out to find Remus slumped over in his chair and someone holding a wand on him. I didn’t even try to find out what was going on. I stunned the guy and portkeyed here with Remus straight away."

The house groaned as Harry’s temper began to slip its leash and his magic flared outward. "Stupid woman," he hissed at her, his eyes burning. Tonks flinched as if she’d been slapped. "Your boredom nearly killed the man you claim to love and the closest thing I have to a father."

Harry stood suddenly and started pacing the kitchen, while Tonks broke out into fresh tears. Harry was so angry his aura turned visible. Everyone flinched back from the sparks arcing around him.

He stopped suddenly and faced Nymphadora. "Tonks, I didn’t let you join the Auror units because you are too important. To both Remus and me. If you had only told one of us how you felt, we would have found something for you to do…something you would have enjoyed. Stupid… Stupid… This is the kind of dumb stunt that people would expect from me, Tonks, not from you! Merlin! And you’re a trained Auror?"

Harry whirled to face Danni. "How long will it take Remus to recover and will he be able to be moved to Padfoot?"

Danni shuddered under Harry intent gaze. "He’s going to be bed ridden for at least a month, Harry. The spell shattered his shoulder sending dozens of bone fragments shooting into his chest cavity. He has damage to his lungs and his heart. In another ten days, he’ll undergo his monthly transformation but, unless I can get his organs repaired enough in time, he won’t survive it."

Harry clenched his fists. "When can we move him to Padfoot?" he ground out between clenched teeth.

"A week at the earliest." Danni squeaked.

Harry nodded, then turned back to Tonks. "You," he said pointing a finger, "come here."

Tonks meekly stood and walked over to stand in front of him. She refused to meet his gaze.

"From this point on, you are Remus’ personal assistant, until he or I say otherwise. For now, that means you’re his nurse. When he doesn’t need a nurse, you’re his research assistant. And if you ever do anything so stupid again, I won’t wait until he awakes to show you how angry I am!"

Tonks sobbed and tried to nod at him. Harry stared at her for a while longer, then he lifted her chin up so she could see him. He was still angry, and his magic was still flaring wildly, but he spoke in a softer tone. "Tonks, you make mistakes, you learn from them. You owe Remus an apology and you know it, but I’ll leave that for you two to handle. Learn from this Nymphadora. I can’t say the next weeks will be easy for you. The guilt you feel for causing someone you love to be injured is terrible. I know," he said, his own eyes clouded with remembered pain as he glanced towards Hermione for a moment.

He wrapped Tonks in a rough embrace and held her as she slowly regained her self-control. Finally, he stepped back from her. She smiled wanly at him, then meekly followed Danni out of the kitchen to go check on Remus.

Harry watched the two women leave for a moment before he collapsed in a chair at the table. Hermione moved from her chair to one next to him. Now that he’d had it out with Tonks, another truth hit him. He had nearly lost Remus!

"Harry," Amelia said in a serious tone. "I know you’re worried about Remus, but you took exactly the right tone with Tonks. She may be your guardian, but we all know that’s a legal fiction. She screwed up and got a member of the team hurt. As leader of the team, it’s your job to reward good work and punish bad. You did the right thing."

Harry could only nod in reply while his own emotions warred within him.


The Underground Railroad…

Amelia leaned back in her chair and considered Harry. He was strong and would weather this crisis. These were the times that could make or break a leader and she firmly believed that this would make Harry. She suspected that he got a lot of that strength from the young muggle born witch, Hermione. Amelia had never fallen for the pure blood racist nonsense, but she did have to admit that Hermione surprised her. Not because she was muggle born, but because of her obvious intelligence and even more obvious devotion to Harry.

Amelia had been spending her days organizing safe houses and escape routes. Hermione had made some key suggestions when Amelia first started, and they had made life a lot easier. She had strongly suggested using the muggle internet to communicate with various people and showed her how the Americans had set up the pre-civil war underground railroad to sneak run away slaves to the free northern states.

Magic, technology, and knowledge of more than thirty years of law enforcement in the magical community enabled Amelia to quickly set up safe houses and escape routes. Word filtered out on the grapevine…if you were on the run from the Ministry, help was available.

William Barratry peered through the cold rain and moved back into the shadows as he heard footsteps approaching. The alleyway was dark, making it hard to discern who was coming. He carefully fingered his wand in his pocket and prayed he wouldn’t need to use it. Behind him, his wife and daughter huddled in the doorway. He reached behind him and gripped Amy’s hand. He could feel his ten year old daughter tremble. She squeezed his hand in return.

The two Ministry Aurors walked slowly up the alleyway, the rain and darkness muffling their conversation and their footsteps. William pushed his wife and daughter further back into the darkness and then stood in front of them. He was only partially concealed and knew it. If these Aurors were any good, he’d be spotted.

William drew his wand and prepared himself for a fight. The two Aurors stopped not ten feet from his location.

"See? I told ya. This be a dead end," said one Auror.

"Aye, there’s nothing here. Let’s head over to Murphy’s and get a drink. I heard he’s got some new girls…freshly caught," replied the other.

William nearly pitched to his knees in relief as the two Aurors turned and walked back into the night. After waiting a few more minutes, he pocketed his wand and grabbed his wife’s hand. The three crossed the alleyway to another door where William knocked, and prayed that what he had been told was true.

There was a moment of silence, and then a voice could be heard. "Who knocks at this hour?"

"Three who are lost and looking for hope," William replied, giving the counter sign.

The door opened to reveal a dimly lit room and William led his family to safety.

Amelia sat back and sipped her tea. She waved to Harry, Hermione and Professor McGonagall when they stood and got ready to return to Hogwarts. Danni would be going back and forth for the next few days. She tried but failed to suppress a smile. Harry, whether he knew it or not, was becoming a hero all over again. He was a legend in the making, thanks to the tireless efforts of the people like herself.

Hundreds of miles away, three people appeared in a room. William and Mary Barratry looked around worriedly. Amy gripped her mother’s hand tightly. A door opened and a man dressed in Healer green stepped in, smiling.

"Welcome," he said. "You folks are safe, so you can start relaxing. You’re no longer in Britain."

A couple of house elves appeared holding trays with hot drinks and food on them.

"I’m Healer Anston. Tonight I’m going to check to make sure you’re all well, and then we’re going to feed you and get you into bed. Tomorrow, you’ll go for orientation where all your questions will be answered, I promise."

Healer Anston knelt by Amy and smiled gently at her. "You’re safe now, my dear and tonight you’ll be warm and comfortable with your parents nearby."

As he talked to her, distracting her, he ran a series of diagnostic spells.

Amelia took off her robe and threw back the blankets on her bed. She slipped between them and settled in for the night, confident that the Underground Railroad was running like it should.


Hogwarts, Gryffindor Head Suite…

Hermione woke up slowly. Something was amiss but she wasn’t sure what. Harry had rolled away from her on the bed. He lay with his back facing her and listening for a moment, she figured out what was wrong. Harry was crying softly, trying not to wake her.

Hermione slid over and wrapped an arm around him.

"Harry?" she whispered.

"I nearly lost Remus tonight, Hermione… I don’t think I’m strong enough sometimes. You nearly lost your parents. We lost Poppy and tonight… I just don’t know."

"Look at me," she commanded softly.

He rolled in the bed until he faced her. She moved up on the bed so they were eye to eye. She reached up and brushed a tear off his cheek. "You are the strongest man I know, Harry. You’ve seen friends and family killed and you keep fighting. Your parents were killed and somehow you still managed to defend yourself. I couldn’t have saved my parents, but you did. You saved hundreds in Hogsmeade and cried over those you couldn’t save.

"I’ve watched you, you know. No matter how difficult things become, you keep fighting. If you get a little down now and then, well, that’s part of my job, isn’t it? To help you," she said gently.

"Is that fair to you though, Hermione? You make it sound like I keep you around only because I need you."

"You do need me, Harry Potter, and I need you. It’s part of what being in love is all about. Discovering needs that only the one we love can fulfill. There is no shame in needing someone. We go through life needing people, it’s only when we deny those needs that we start to lose our humanity. You need Remus, and you even need Tonks, despite what she did. Now sleep, Remus will be fine." She brushed the hair gently off his forehead.

He searched her face for a moment as if looking for an answer. Then he pulled her close to him, cradling her in his arms and burrowed his face into her hair. Within moments both were asleep again.


Grimmauld Place, the next morning…

Tonks and Winky watched Remus carefully as he slept. Danni had finally returned to Hogwarts, but not before leaving Tonks with a bunch of potions and a list of written instructions. Winky’s job was to help Tonks and, if necessary, get Danni from Hogwarts.

Remus slept fitfully, which meant he was fighting the sleeping potion Danni had given him and he’d awaken early.

The fact that Remus was a werewolf complicated matters. He would heal faster than a normal person would, but his pain would have him leaning towards violent reactions. He would have to work very hard to control his temper and baser impulses in the next few days.

Tonks leaned forward when Remus opened his eyes. She watched him carefully.

"What… where?… Tonks?" asked Remus groggily.

"Shhh… relax Remy. You were badly injured last night. You’ve got at least a few days bed rest ahead of you," Tonks said softly.

Remus widened his eyes in alarm and started to sit up, but Tonks stopped him. He hissed in pain and fell back to the bed.   "What happened to me, Nymph?"

Tonks refused to look at him, instead her tears started again. "It was my fault, Remy," she said brokenly. "I was bored and talked you into going out for dinner when it wasn’t safe."

Remus reached an arm out and snagged her hand in his own. "Sweetie, I agreed to go out with you. It wasn’t like you pulled any tricks to convince me."

"But that’s just it, Remy I did pull some tricks on you," she whispered. "I’m so sorry."

"You mean that trick you pull when you can’t be bothered with putting on makeup? Softening your features, making your hair shinier?"

Tonks whipped her head around and stared at him in astonishment. "You know about those?"

Remus nodded at her. "Of course I do. Hello, werewolf here! Heightened senses remember? Besides, I love you. That means I pay extra attention to what you do."

"You’re not mad at me?" she asked in a small voice.

"If I were mad at you, then I wouldn’t want to marry you, would I?" he replied with a grin, and then held up his hand to prevent her from jumping on him in the bed. "I do want to marry you, Nymph, and I do want you to jump on me in bed, but right now, I don’t think that would be a very good idea," he said, wincing slightly as he tried to make himself more comfortable.

Tonks grinned back. "Right, then. Well, Harry dressed me down last night and gave me the job of being your official nurse, as well as your research assistant, from here on. So any nursey things you need right now?"

Remus grinned at her, then shook his head regretfully. "I’m afraid not, but there are several volumes up in the bedroom you can bring down. Hermione and Harry both have me on research projects. I might as well get to reading since I’m stuck in bed."

"Breakfast first, Remus, then you can read," replied Tonks with a grin. Winky appeared, carrying a tray, and Tonks helped him sit up.


A Visit with Team Weasley…

Four days after Remus’ attack, the Weasleys met for their next operation. Remus and Tonks had been moved to Padfoot, although the Grangers were still spending the nights at Grimmauld. It was generally felt that Grimmauld should be kept open as long as Harry and his friends were in school.

With March quickly coming to a close, the pressure was building on everyone. Amelia had learned that Kingsley Shacklebolt had been promoted to Auror Section Chief, which strongly pointed to him working for the other side. Amelia passed the information to Minerva as soon as she learned of it. Minerva managed to get the information out in time for most of the Order to go into hiding.

It was a subdued group of Weasleys who met that night. Their mother was wanted by the Aurors and had gone into hiding, but no one knew where.

"So, what’s on the list tonight?" Arthur asked Bill, who held the list.

This would be the fifth trip out for Team Weasley. So far, they have raided the British Museum, the National Archives, The Tower of London and two private dealer collections.

"You’re going to love this one, Dad. She wants us to pop on over to Portsmith and visit something called the Royal Navy Museum. She’s quite specific with this list, and she also asks if we can figure out a way to pick up something called the HMS Victory."

"Very well then, let’s get cracking," Arthur said with a smile.

Bill, Fred and George exchanged grins amongst themselves. This was a side of their father they had never seen before.

"So what is the HMS Victory, Bill?" asked Fred.

"Damned if I know, Fred, but I’m sure we’ll find out. Knowing Hermione, it’s another broken rock," he replied.

"Hey, it could be worse! Remember those moldy old books she had us get? If it weren’t for Dad’s repairing spell, they would have fallen apart on us!"

"Yeah, remember that silly Domesday book?" quipped George.

"Now boys, let’s not forget that Hermione says these things are important cultural treasures and are part of both Wizarding and Muggle Britain," said Arthur, trying to be serious.

"Oh, bugger it all. The truth is, running around at night stealing this stuff is almost as much fun as pranking," Fred said.

"Quite," said Bill with a grin. "Now, shall we go find out what an HMS Victory is?"


AP News feed…

Heritage Thieves Strike again!

For the sixth time in the past month, the so-called Heritage Thieves have struck again in Britain. This time they made off with treasures from the Royal Navy Museum and set a new record for themselves. The Heritage Thieves emptied out several galleries of priceless paintings and managed to make off with the HMS Victory, as well. Scotland Yard, with help from the Royal Navy and the Coast Guard, were unable to locate the 2196 metric ton sailing ship anywhere in the area.

Scotland Yard has asked Interpol and the FBI for help in solving these crimes, but both agencies have expressed reluctance to assist Scotland Yard, given the current state of affairs in the United Kingdom.

The Prime Minister has called for an emergency session of Parliament later this evening to address the state of the Kingdom. Meanwhile, the Queen and Prince Consort remain in Balmoral Castle, far from the disturbances.


NY Daily News Headline…

Mum Declares State of Emergency!

An emergency session of Parliament was unexpectedly thrown into confusion and panic last night as members started collapsing without warning. Although no one will admit it officially, anonymous sources in the National Health Service say the members of Parliament that were stricken ill all appear to be suffering from that strange sleeping sickness that is sweeping the nation. At least forty members of the House of Commons were stricken ill last night and all of Parliament has been placed into protective quarantine until doctors can determine if they are infected.

The Prime Minister, Tony Blair, was spirited away from the scene by members of the Diplomatic Protection Group and is being carefully monitored by his own physician.. He later spoke to the nation from his office at number Ten Downing Street, where he declared that the country was in a state of emergency and outlined a series of measures the government was taking to ensure public safety. Such measures include:

Dawn to Dusk Curfew.
Activation of several reserve military police and hospital units.
A temporary ban on all large assemblies, including theater, movies and sporting events.

At the same time, a special session of the UN Security Council was voting to impose a medical quarantine on the United Kingdom. Such a quarantine would include a naval blockade, as well as stopping all aircraft from leaving or entering British airspace. Normally, a military blockade is considered an act of war, but the British Government acknowledges that they have been unable to contain the spread of the sleeping sickness.

The U.S. Seventh Fleet is already on station near Britain. France, Norway and several other countries have promised to send their own naval ships to support the blockade.

In related news, the Pound fell to its lowest point in nearly fifty years, while the Yen, Deutsche Mark and Dollar surged. Economists are warning that if measures aren’t taken to strengthen local currencies, the fall of the British Pound could trigger a world wide financial collapse.


Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry…

"Potter! I want a word with you," said a voice from behind.

Harry turned in the corridor and cringed to see Millicent Bulstrode bearing down on him like a small avalanche.

Millicent thundered up to Harry and glared at him.   "I think you owe me an explanation, Potter."

"Oh? In regard to what, Millicent?"

"You know damn well what, Potter! You slipped that love potion into my drink."

Harry sighed and looked around. He then motioned for the large Slytherin girl to sit on a bench nearby, where he joined her.

"You’re right, Millicent, I do owe you an explanation…and an apology. Let me explain and, if you’re still mad at the end of the explanation, I’ll think of a way of making it up to you. Alright?"

The large girl thought for a moment before nodding in agreement.

"Before the start of school, Hermione and I learned of a plot against me that was going to hurt her. Ron was going to slip her a potion. Before he could, I relocated the contents of her goblet to another goblet. Unfortunately, it was your goblet. That was an accident. It was supposed to go to Professor Snape’s, but I suppose I missed in my aim. I was sort of rushed to remove it in time.

"I never meant for you to get the potion and I am truly sorry for what you went through. If all had gone according to my original intent, the brewer of the potion would have been the one chasing Ron Weasley, not you," he said with a sigh.

He felt a hand on his shoulder and looked up to see that Hermione had joined them. He glanced at her, then turned his attention back to Millicent.

Millicent was still frowning, and then she shrugged expressively. "I guess I can’t fault your motives. I’m glad to know you didn’t target me deliberately."

"I really didn’t, Millicent. That happened by accident," he replied.

"And what about all those times you let me into the Gryffindor Common Room? You weren’t trying to humiliate me?" she asked evenly.

"I’m sorry if that was embarrassing to you, but you weren’t the one I was trying to humiliate. After what Ron tried to do…"

Millicent nodded. "Revenge. It’s a concept we Slytherins are very familiar with."

Harry smiled in reply, then a thought occurred to him. "Millicent? Why now? You’ve had months after the potion wore off. Why come confront me with this now?"

"Well, for one thing, it wasn’t quite as bad as most people thought it was. Ronald turned out to be rather cooperative when I got him alone. And I only became sure of my facts recently," said the Slytherin smugly, and then she chuckled at Harry’s reaction to the revelation about Ron. "Too much information, Potter?" she asked sweetly.

"Way too much, Millicent… So do you accept my apology?" Harry asked with a grin.

"I do. Provisionally. You owe me a favor, Potter. And someday I may decide to collect on it," she said, then stood and walked off to her class.

Harry glanced up at Hermione standing beside him. "That was strange," he commented.

"It was, but I suppose we should have expected it. Now tell me why you let me believe you deliberately chose Millicent that night instead of admitting you missed?"

"Sometimes… not often mind you… but sometimes, when I admit I goofed, you yell at me. I don’t like it when you’re yelling at me," Harry replied softly. He quickly looked down at his feet.

"Does it really bother you that much?" she asked in a small voice.

"Sometimes, Hermione, but then sometimes it makes me feel warm to know that there’s someone looking out for me. It’s hard to explain it properly. I know I’m not as smart as you are…"

"Harry, stop that right now! You are smarter than you think! Look at you, you passed both Arithmancy and Ancient Runes owls with Os less than a month after you cracked open the books for the first time. I only yell at you when you do something without thinking about it first," she said, overriding him.

He grinned up at her and grabbed both her hands. "Well, I’ll try to think before I leap. And you… never change Hermione," he replied huskily, kissing the palms of her hands.

She moved closer to him and ruffled his hair affectionately. "I swear you’re turning into a romantic."

He stood and picked up his book bag, then he placed an arm around her waist. "Only where you’re concerned. Now, I do believe Romany is waiting for us in Defense class."


Headmasters Office, Hogwarts…

"Come!" snapped Minerva. She hated using this office, but she had received a firecall from Esther Hampton of the Board of Governors, who told her she was the Headmistress of Hogwarts and to use the office.

The door cracked open and Romany Blackthorne entered, followed a moment later by Professor Flitwick.

"Filius, Romany, please come in and have a seat. Would either of you care for some tea?" Minerva asked.

Filius grinned. He’d known his friend and colleague long enough to know she covered her nervousness by offering to serve tea.

"Minerva, it’s just an office, and it is yours now," Filius said with a chuckle.

Romany looked between the two of them, then accepted the offered cup from Minerva.

"Professor, I do believe you asked for this meeting, so why don’t you begin," Minerva said, leaning back in the comfortable chair, eying the Defense Professor curiously, while ignoring Filius and his jabs.

Romany sipped her tea for a moment and ordered her thoughts.   "I’ve asked for this meeting because I’m concerned about Ronald Weasley. Academically, he is third in the Defense class, behind Mister Potter and Miss Granger. He might actually have tied for second place with Miss Granger, were it not for his attitude."

"Oh?" prompted Professor McGonagall.

"To be blunt, the boy is hyper-aggressive. I’ve had to stop letting him participate in class duels because he tries to maim his opponents, rather than disarm them as he’s been told to do."

Minerva frowned. "Yes, Poppy had mentioned that he’d caused several severe injuries that resulted in longer than usual hospital visits."

"Some of my Ravenclaws are afraid of him, Minerva," offered Professor Flitwick. "He’s not doing well in my charms class at all. In fact, he’s doing worse than he did during previous years."

"Yes, I noticed the same thing in transfiguration, Filius," replied Professor McGonagall.

"And yet, according to Madam Pince, he spends an inordinate amount of time in the library in the evenings, studying apparently. I asked Madam Pince to give me a list of the books he’s checked out in the last month. All of them are Defense related books. The other strange thing is I performed a scan on him last week and detected a residual magic signature that reminded me a lot of Professor Dumbledore. I suspect someone has cast a long term charm on the boy," offered Romany.

Minerva narrowed her eyes at that revelation. "An enchantment? Filius, this is more your bailiwick than mine. Can you detect what type of enchantment has been placed on the boy?"

"I know a few tricks I can try that aren’t generally well known, Minerva. The question is if he’s been enchanted, what will we do about it?" Filius asked in reply.

Minerva shrugged. "That depends on what the enchantment is, I suppose. We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it." She then turned to Romany. "Thank you for bringing this to my attention. Now, how are the rest of your classes, Professor?"

"I have two groups of students these days. The regular Hogwarts students, and Harry and his friends. ‘The Outcasts’, as they call themselves, are in a class by themselves. Harry’s taught them some advanced techniques that they’d normally learn in Auror training, but not here in Hogwarts, and then some. All of them are capable of silent casting, and most of them are capable of wandless casting, although the power levels vary wildly. After Harry, I’d say Hermione, Ginny and Draco are the strongest. But Luna has some abilities that I think she’s only starting to tap.

"I still can’t let Harry duel another student. His power levels are just too high. He disarmed a dummy the other day in class and the dummy was thrown into the wall, cracking the stones," Romany said ruefully.

"Wandless magic? By Merlin, I must say Mister Potter has all the makings of a fine teacher to teach such a difficult subject," Professor Flitwick offered.

"Yes, his group last year managed to achieve outstanding scores in their Defense OWLS and NEWTS. It was a shame we couldn’t continue it this year. But as Harry himself pointed out, the D.A. was in response to an incompetent Defense teacher, and that’s a problem we no longer have," Minerva said thoughtfully, and then she shook herself.   "Thank you both for coming. Filius, do let me know what you find out about Mr. Weasley. In the meantime, I have reports to file with the Board," she said with a sigh.

Romany and Filius smiled and left her office. Minerva reached over to a large stack of parchments and pulled one down.

Author’s Notes:

In case no one understands at this point, Yes Dumbledore is evil. So is Ron and Snape.

Widespread riots in the Wizarding world… they are coming.

Ron’s silence will soon be broken. Don’t worry about that.

Hermione will keep her staff primarily for ritual work and research work, otherwise she’ll use her wand. Unlike Harry who is also using the staff as a cane, Hermione has no need of a crutch.

This is a subject that just doesn’t want to die. Yes in 1996 three of the four Polaris class submarines were still in service. The Tridents didn’t come into service until 1998. Now for all the remaining nit pickers, I’ll leave a bowl of nits for you to pick at the bottom of this file. Enjoy!

For those wanting more Padfoot details, I think you’ll be pleased with what has been revealed here.

XL — No Comment, and stop peeking into my outline file!

Were the giants needed? Nope, I could have attacked Hogsmeade with overly large, magic resistant dwarfs.

As to the dragging out comment. Go back and reread the prophecies. The timeline to leave is quickly approaching and they can’t leave before that date.

The ward is a simple detection ward. Its impact will be minimal in the story.

For those that can’t tell, we finished his chapter at the end of March. Next stop April.

Pet Peeves:

Authors that do not test their beta readers. Or perhaps they are just lying and say they have betas?

Here are some snippets from stories I’ve run across.

With sated apathies we will soon retire.
Further annocements can wait until latter.
Professor Dumbledore sat down as the students rose to there feat.  
Ron, who had just wrestled his trunks to the bottom of the stairs, turned to see Harry effortlessly levitation his own trunk down to the living room.
He watch the emergency personal trying to put the fire.

Every one of these statements has stopped me and made me go HUH? Now this is really simple folks. And kids, if you’re writing and think I’m complaining about you, well I am, but only a little. This isn’t a case of the occasional error, but some of these files I’ve seen are rife with the buggers.

TEST YOUR BETA!!! Make a paragraph that would fit in your story. Like this.

Luna was stumped for the first time in her life. She knew she had to jump over the river to follow Ron, but she also knew she couldn’t get her feet wet. She quickly searched the riverbank and was surprised to find a rope, tugging on the rope released a rowboat from the far shore. The row boat glided magically across the river. With a very un-ladylike leap, she jumped into the rowboat for the trip to the other side.

Now, make a bunch of errors in the paragraph and give them to the person who wants to beta for you. If they can’t spot the errors, don’t hire them.

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