Little Girls, Little Birds, Little Legs
Ginny stepped through the floo at The Burrow. She was shifty and nervous, virtually coming out of her skin with anxiety, and a false smile plastered on her face. She wanted to bring Aurora, but Harry told her to just let the Phoenix rest and eat before subjecting her to lots of travel. Besides, she needed to speak with her mother and the bird would just distract her and everyone else. The smell of fresh bacon and eggs was in the air and drew the red-head towards the ever bustling kitchen.
“Mum?” she called out, when she didn’t immediately see the portly matron of the Weasley clan. A moment later a head peaked out from the storage room and smiled at the young woman.
“Ginny, dear! You’re just in time for a nip of breakfast! Set the table would you? It’s almost done.”
She chuckled and went about the small chore. No matter what, when one of her children stopped by the house they were always put to work. As she spent a few moments placing down the plates and glasses she mused over her time with Harry the night before. She decided to just push her grief to the back of her mind and let go for once. It was like a huge burden had been lifted off her shoulders. That was, until this morning when what she did really came into focus. She was nervous and scared and needed to talk to someone.
Second thoughts and worries kept intruding on her and she knew only her mum could give her the sort of guidance she needed right now. She took a seat and waited patiently for her mum. She didn’t have to wait long as she came bustling out of the kitchen a few pans heavy, and promptly filled their plates, and one for Arthur, with some eggs, bacon, and a couple muffins.
After pouring them some pumpkin juice Molly took a seat next to her daughter and looked at her slyly from the corner of her eye. She knew that look on any woman’s face.
“I see you sorted things out with Harry yesterday,” she opened up the conversation. Ginny blushed to the roots of her hair and gapped at her mother.
“Oh, don’t ‘Mum’ me, Ginny Weasley. I know that look. Seen it on too many young women over the years. Your cousin Serena stopped by a few months back looking just like you do right now. Happy, but nervous. So speak up! Give me the gossip.”
Ginny sighed and took a nibble of her bacon while formulating her thoughts.
“I’m not sure getting back together with Harry is such a good idea. I think I made a big mistake yesterday.”
“Oh?” Molly always felt it was best to just let a girl speak about such things before giving any advice. That is if any was needed, which it usually wasn’t.
“We talked a lot and I found out why he was away for so long. I can’t really stay mad at him about that, but yet I can’t seem to get past it. I thought if I just ignored it and went straight to the making up part it would make everything easier. But I think it only made it worse.”
“I’m not sure I follow, dear.”
“Well, you know how Harry was before he left. He always took any sort of relationship, friend or otherwise very seriously. He hasn’t changed much from then. I think he is going to expect more from me now than I can give him. Than I want to give him.”
“I take it things went pretty far last night then.”
“Mum,” Ginny didn’t know how to put this in an easy way, “He was a virgin.”
Molly beamed a pleasant smile and looked out the window.
“I knew he was a good boy.”
“I’m just saying, dear. You really should have waited until you were married.”
“Ok, ok. I won’t say anymore on that subject.” Ginny rather doubted that.
“What am I going to do now? I saw the look on his face. It scares me. I haven’t had anyone look at me like that since…well, since he did back when we were in school. It was thrilling back then, but now…I’m not so sure.”
Molly leaned back and pursed her lips. Her eyes roamed the only daughter for a few moments, accessing the degree of panic the woman had in her before giving the appropriate response.
“Grow up, Ginny.” Her daughter blinked at her in surprise. When no words of rebuttal were forthcoming she continued.
“You’re twenty-four now. You’re not a child. You’ve been in relationships with men before. You sit here complaining every Christmas that you’re all alone. That no man will date you for who you are and that your fame and your body is the only thing that can attract a guy. Then what happens? Harry comes along, who loves you for you and nothing else, and here you are ready to run back here for another Christmas of crying. You may not have realized it, but you compare everyone you meet to him. I’m sorry dear, but if you keep doing that every one of them is going to fall far short of the mark.”
“I know you sweetheart. I sat at your bed side when you cried over him. I sat at your bed side, when you cried over the others. As far as Arthur and I are concerned, Harry is the only man good enough for our little girl. So grow up, Ginny. Uncertainty is part of every relationship. Grab onto him and if he tries to get away, wrap a leash on him so tight that he won’t make it two steps before you yank him back.” She leaned towards Ginny and gave her the famous ‘Mother Glare’.
“Harry is a once in a life time opportunity, Ginevra Weasley. You won’t find anyone else like him, Dear. Don’t throw it away.”
Ginny stared at her mother in mixture of astonishment and disbelief. She’d never talked to her like that before. She wasn’t sure what to make of it.
“It’s not really about that, Mum. It’s about-”
“Rubbish. You’ve been in this pattern for so long you’re afraid to change it.”
“I’ve been with Eric for-”
“Don’t mention that man to me, Ginny Weasley. I told you how I felt about him many times. Plus, there is the fact that you’re still dating him, yet spent the night with Harry. Don’t give me that excuse.”
Ginny really couldn’t argue with that. In fact she couldn’t argue at all. Her mother ran rough shod over her every time she opened her mouth. Forgoing another curt rebuttal, Ginny sat quietly and picked at her breakfast while dissecting her Mother’s advice. Did she really like the life she led? Was she more afraid of changing than she was of Harry running away or asking too much of her? Maybe she was. Maybe she was just being a silly little girl that needed to grow up.
She leaned over and wrapped Molly in a hug.
“Thanks Mum,” she whispered, “You always know what to say.”
Molly gave a chuckle and patted her daughter on the back.
“I know dear. It comes with the job.” They both laughed together and were still laughing when Arthur entered the room in his bath robe.
“Well, what’s got my two favorite women in such a stitch this morning?” he smiled that foolish smile of his as she took his place at the table.
“Nothing, luv,” Molly told him, giving him ‘that’ look, “Just a bit of girl talk.”
“I see, I see. Far be it for me to butt my nose in the affairs of a woman. But just out of curiosity. How was your night with Harry?”
He laughed and took a swig of his pumpkin juice. They were just about to lay into him when the Weasley family cloak started to chime a deep tone and they all froze. Molly’s lips trembled as she slowly turned in fear towards the cloak. Ron’s hand had moved towards a word that sent her heart into a tight grip of terror.
“Arthur!” Molly stood up and brought a shaking hand to her chest. “My Baby!”
Hermione sat at her desk and stared at the dark haired young girl in front of her. To think that this little bundle of trouble was Harry’s adopted daughter was somehow…appropriate with the trouble she was already getting into.
“Well before we begin, what should I call you? Lily O’Dowell or Lily Potter?” The girl had the tact to blush a bit at the question.
“Papa says I should stay O’Dowell to avoid attention, but I don’t mind if you call me Potter.” She was playing the part of innocent very well, Hermione thought.
“If Harry wants you to stay O’Dowell, then that’s what we’ll do. Now onto business. What, in Merlin’s name, would ever possess you to flood the potion laboratory?”
Lily shifted her feet and looked away, further delving into the part of misunderstood child.
“It was an accident, Professor Granger. Honestly! I didn’t know the potion would bubble over and expand like that.”
“Well things like that tend to happen when you fail to follow directions. You are aware, however, that the brewing of potions rated class C and above is restricted, and can only be performed in the class room, or with another professor overseeing your work. So again. What possessed you to so flagrantly disregard the rules? You could have blown yourself up.”
Lily didn’t say and just shrugged, showing a bit of mulish attitude.
“I’m not sure how things are done in America, Miss. O’Dowell, but in Hogwarts when a Professor asks you a question, you are expected to answer.”
“I wanted the potion for a friend!” she blurted out, “She gets an awful case of the pimples and asked me to make her a potion to get rid of them.”
Hermione gave the girl a hard stare and shook her head in exasperation.
“Nobel intentions aside, I’m afraid I have no choice but to deduct Gryffindor twenty points and you have a night’s detention.”
“What? That’s unfair! Nothing bad happened. All you had to do was vanish it away! Nothing was damaged!”
“That, Mrs. Granger, is beside the point. You put yourself and others in danger from your little stunt. Worse, it was over a case of mild acne. If you’re going to take risks with yourself and the school rules, make sure it’s for better judgment than the vanity of a twelve year old girl. Understood?”
“What about you?” Lily blurted out.
“What about me? And I suggest you watch your tone young lady.”
“You didn’t get expelled when you brewed Polyjuice potion in your second year. And that’s a Ministry restricted item. You could have poisoned whoever drank it if you did it wrong.” Lily folded her arms and stared at the strict Professor. Hermione didn’t say anything for the longest time, but just continued to stare Lily down until the girl muttered something under her breath and looked away.
“First, Miss O’Dowell; The reasons for the brewing of that particular potions were more extreme than pimples. Second; I researched the potion very carefully for weeks ahead of time and checked my sources against six others, to make sure there were no variations in the recipe. Third; in the case of a poorly created Polyjuice potion the worst that could happen when drinking it is a severe case of stomach cramps and head aches. It is not lethal or inflammatory as yours was.” Hermione then rose up in her chair and leaned forward on her hands.
“And last; if you ever, seek to use your father’s adventures as an excuse to put yourself and other students in danger, or to show me such disrespect ever again, you won’t have a weekend free for a month. Am I clear?”
“Yeah, you’re clear.” Lily muttered her face a perfect example of a disgruntled teen.
“Would you care to rephrase that?”
Lily coughed and regained the posture and façade of the innocent and misguided student, “I understand, Professor. I’m sorry for the trouble I caused you.”
“Well, an act your sudden submissiveness may be, if you can keep up that act perhaps we can avoid such meetings in the future. You may go. Your detention will be Monday night with the new DADA professor that will be arriving.”
Lily looked at her in confusion for a moment.
“Aren’t you the DADA Professor, erm…Professor?”
“No. I’m normally the Transfiguration Professor. I was just assuming the duties of the position until we could find someone suitable. That person has been found and I will be taking over Transfiguration again.”
Lily’s face fell.
“But that’s my favorite subject.”
“Are you saying you don’t enjoy my teaching methods?”
“Not especially, Professor.” Hermione almost cracked a smile at the bluntness of the girl. She was a boiling cauldron of attitude.
“Good, then you’ll be delighted to know that I’ve been very easy on the students since I wasn’t going to be teaching the subject the entire term. I am much more demanding in Transfiguration. Anything else?”
“Who’s the new Professor?”
“You’ll find out Monday morning. He is widely regarded as one of the foremost experts on Defense Against the Dark Arts. Now get back to the common room. I know you have a two foot essay due for Charms tomorrow.”
Hermione gave Lily a patronizing little smile as the girl stamped her foot and snatched up her bag to storm out of the room.
It wasn’t long after Lily left that Hermione got the floo call from the Ministry. Minutes later she was out of Hogwarts as fast as her feet could carry her, and once past the wards, apperated away.
Lily stomped into the Gryffindor common room. With a disgusted look she threw her bag on the ground and plopped down on the couch next to her friend. The same friend that she had just gotten in trouble for.
“I take it things went kind of bad?” Juliana said meekly. Lily threw her a scowl that spoke volumes and the girl retreated a bit, her pimple problem still marking her normally fair skin.
“I hate her! She’s a foul uptight toad! I had half a mind to hex her with big buck teeth.”
“Who’s that?” asked Mark, one of the boys in her year who sat down on the ground in front of them.
“Professor Weasley,” Lily replied, “She took away twenty points and gave me a night’s detention.”
“Really?” he told her, “Wow, you got off easy. The last time she got a hold of someone like that they were milking snakes for a week.”
Lily didn’t reply, but just pulled out her wand and tapped it against her knee, shooting sharks in the air. Mark wisely backed off and held his hands out before him.
“Sorry Lils, you’re right about the uptight part though. She hasn’t been too bad in DADA though. I like her much better than when she taught Transfiguration.”
“Well, don’t get used to it, she told me she’s going back to teaching Transfiguration tomorrow.”
“WHAT?!” Half the common room shouted at once. Lily flinched and looked around in confusion, not understanding what the problem was. A seventh year hurried over, soon followed by everyone who was down there working on various things. The tall girl was fidgeting with her hands as she addressed Lily.
“Did you say Professor Weasley is taking over Transfiguration again? Tomorrow?” Lily nodded.
“How do you know?” an older boy she didn’t know asked her, his voice dripping with fear.
“She told me herself.”
Hell was right, as it suddenly broke loose. People dove towards their bags and pulled out their Transfiguration texts. People who were working on other pieces of homework put it away and franticly pulled out whatever essays they had done for Transfiguration and started to scratch out lines and begin rewording. One of the other seventh year girls fainted dead away. Lily could only watch as the entire Gryffindor House degenerated into chaos. They suddenly looked like they were preparing for their N.E.W.T.s and had to take them tomorrow. Lily turned back to her friends to see that they too had pulled out their homework and were valiantly looking for their quills and ink.
“What did I say? You lot look like you’re marching to your execution.” Juliana was the one who explained.
“You didn’t know Professor Weasley when she taught Trans’. She’s a total nightmare in that subject. She’s ten times harder in Tran’s than she is in DADA. Think old McGonagall, but worse. She drives first years like their O.W.L’s are only a day away and if you’re already done with your O.W.L’s she acts like it’s the N.E.W.T.’s. If you hate her for DADA, you’ll end up wanting her dead after a month in Trans’.”
“Quick!” They turned as the seventh year girl, who had addressed Lily, drew everyone’s attention. “Sammerson, head to the library and get the word out there. Jeffrey, head down to the pitch and let the team know they need to cut practice and get to work. You, whatever your name is, you’re friends with Ravenclaw find one of the older students and let them know as well. If you see anyone from Slytherin and Hufflepuff let them know too. We can’t let the other houses get blindsided by this.”
“This is an emergency folks, get to it! Go, go, go!” she shooed at everyone and the people she pointed out ran from the room to their orders. Lily only shook her head in amusement.
“Lily,” Matt drew her attention, “You better redo your Transfiguration homework. She really is a nightmare with grading.”
“I’ll be fine. It’s good enough. She won’t be that bad on her first day back.”
“Suit yourself. Don’t say we didn’t warn you though.”
Lily relaxed back into the couch and watched as everyone dove into their Trans’ work with an amazing amount of intensity. They still couldn’t keep that one seventh year from fainting again when they told her it wasn’t a nightmare. Lily took a glance at her bag. Well, she guessed it couldn’t hurt to maybe go over her essay one more time. Charms could wait.
Within minutes the entire Library was silent and had their Transfiguration homework out. Minutes after that a flood of the other houses poured in for the same. Twenty minutes past that time the halls were clear of students. Each dreading Hermione’s return. The castle was quiet as the fear permeated the air. No one gave a thought as to who would be covering DADA.
Harry Potter, the Boy-Who-Lived, entered the Ministry of Magic to gaping stares and stunned faces. All work and talk seemed to stop as he walked through the grand hall and past the great statue. He noted happily that it was changed and all the people of the magical world stood equal in its graceful sculpting. It was a welcome change since he last saw it.
In his eyes, the legislation passed that allowed the Centaurs, Goblins, and House Elves the rights they deserved, was the greatest thing to come out of the war. It was the start to what, Harry hoped, was a bright new age for magic. He was uncomfortable under the stares and whispers though. He’d been able to avoid all that for seven years. Being thrust back into it was like a bucket of cold water being thrown in his face.
This new type of war with the Council of Harcast was a war of wealth and influence, where Voldemort’s had been through fear and death. He would need to use his fame and name to do what needed to be done and stall whatever their plans were. It was obvious that they were finally shaking the dust off their name and moving for the first time in over a thousand years. To what purpose he didn’t know, but he doubted England and the other countries would benefit from it.
He made is way quickly towards the Minister’s office, pausing briefly to shake hands with some official or another and give nods of greeting to shy or eager waves. A little ground work to reassert him self would be useful with the rumors. He entered the Minister’s outer office and approached a young lady that had her nose buried in a stack of paperwork. He stood there for a moment, but when she didn’t address him he coughed silently.
“Yes?” she asked without looking up.
“I’m here to see the Minister,” he told her.
“Do you have an appointment?”
“Yes.” She took out a notebook and opened it to today’s date.
“Harry Potter.” Her head jerked up quickly to see a rather irritated Harry looking down at her pensively.
“Oh…” she stared at him for a few seconds, her eyes flicking up towards his scare.
“I’m so sorry Mr. Potter. Yes, of course he will see you. Go right on in. He’s expecting you.”
“Thank you, and if I may, I know you and the Minister are both very busy people, but perhaps, in the need to keep a good face on the office, you could actually look at someone who comes in and treat them like their time is important too.”
“Y-Yes, Mr. Potter. I’m so sorry. I’ll do that.” she stammered out, blushing an embarrassing shade of red when he chastised her. He gave her a soft smile to lessen the blow and turned away towards the office door. He could feel her eyes on him as he walked away.
When he walked in he found the Minister in conference with a slightly sour looking man. The man was gesturing wildly with one of his hands while the other was waving a folder in Kingsley’s face. They both stop whatever it was they were talking about and turned towards Harry. Kingsley looked relieved to see him and quickly summoned a chair.
“Harry, thank god you’re here. I just sent someone out to find you.”
“No need to rush things Kingsley,” Harry said, “I stopped by to finalize the deal for my recipe.”
“Oh yes, that. Hand over the contract. I’ll sign it right now.”
Harry looked at him oddly, but did as requested. When the Minister signed the paper Harry pulled out a thick book and placed it on Kingsley’s desk.
“That’s a copy of all my notes on the creation of the pendants. The method is in the back. The rest just describes everything in detail. Well, that’s it. I have to close up shop and head to Hogwarts now.” He got up to leave, but Kingsley stopped him.
“Harry, wait. We have a situation that you should know about.” Harry turned back to him with a questioning look and waited.
“We moved on the information you provided me with at the start of the summer and raided Eric O’Soule’s home this morning. There was an explosion.” Harry felt a chill creep into his bones at the news. He walked back over to the chair and sat down.
“First, I’m sure you remember Pius Thicknese.” Harry nodded and reached over to shake hands. He wouldn’t hold the man’s actions during the war against him. He knew how hard Imperius was to fight, and that was when he knew he was under the spell. Considering that Harry had used his fame to allow the Malfoy family to walk free after the war left him no room to be so hypocritical in regards to the coup performed by the man.
“Pleasure to meet you, sir.”
“Likewise, Mr. Potter, likewise.”
“Now what happened Kingsley?” Harry was itching to find out the details.
“Well, this morning we sent thirty members of MLE to the house using standard raiding practices. Among the group were ten Aurors. From the reports I’ve been given they first found the place to be abandoned. All notes and personal possessions were gone and O’Soule was nowhere to be seen. They began a search of the place when a magical trap was set off. The result being an explosion that leveled the home. I’m still getting reports in, but so far we have fifteen dead. Including four of the Aurors.”
“Merlin, Kingsley! Weren’t they wearing the standard issue robes that protected them from things like that?”
“They were, but it was too strong. It got through the enchantments. Harry, there’s something else,” Kingsley paused, “Ron was inside when it happened.” Harry gripped the arms of the chairs tightly.
“Is he ok?” he asked in a suddenly hoarse voice.
“No. He’s in critical condition at St. Mungos at the moment. They lost him a couple of times, but were able to bring him back.”
“But he’s alive?” Harry asked. Kingsley gave have a shrug before answering.
“For now, but I’m told its touch and go.”
Harry sat thinking for a moment before struggling up on weak and shaky legs.
“I should go.” he said, looking forlornly towards the door. He wanted to rush out right then, but didn’t want to offend Kingsley. The Minister on the other hand understood perfectly well and gave a small gesture of dismissal.
“Of course. I understand. I already sent word that if you showed up you were to be extended every courtesy and privilege as if it was me there instead of you. See to Ron. Maybe you can help him.”
Harry gave a grateful nod and was out of the room in seconds. He barely noticed as the whispers resumed and people tried to step in his path for a word or two. He just plowed right through them all. A juggernaut of worry and impatience.
St. Mungos was in chaos when Harry arrived. There was so many wounded that they had to use an entire floor to tend to them. When he first walked through the floo he was greeted by a nondescript Auror, who led him through security and pushed past the reporters who were clamoring for a statement from Harry.
“Sorry about that, Mr. Potter. We couldn’t keep something like this covered up for long. Within ten minutes of the wounded being brought in the reporters arrived. A couple of them confounded the guards and snuck past, but we took all their wands away to stop that from happening again.”
“It’s ok. I understand perfectly how sly reporters can be over a picture or a story.”
The man, Harry still didn’t know his name, chuckled and gave a nod. “You would at that, wouldn’t you? Well here you go,” he said arriving at a white double wide door, with a symbol of two broken wands crossed in a weird sort of ‘M’ pattern.
“You’ll find Senior Auror Weasley and family at the last door on the left. You’re alone here except for hospital personnel and security.”
“Thanks for your help. I’ll find you when I’m ready to leave.” The man gave a nod and walked back towards his post. Harry spared him a single glance before walking through the doors into a scene of horror.
Healers were running around the place, trying to save life and limb of who ever needed it. There weren’t enough rooms, so cots were lined along the walls, full of patients, who were groaning in pain, or screaming in agony. Harry saw one wizard holding a stump of a hand in front of his face with a dumbfounded expression of his face. He saw another laying on his cot with the entire right side of his face burned to a crisp. And these were the just those that didn’t warrant a room to themselves for the more extensive injuries.
Harry dragged his eyes away from the ruined bodies of the others and made his way down the hall to Ron’s room. When he walked in he saw Arthur, Molly, Ginny and Hermione, arguing with a couple of healers in low voiced. Everyone turned towards him and he saw Hermione’s face go slack with relief. A moment later she was in his arms, crying into his chest.
“Oh, Har-Harry!” she sobbed, “It’s so bad. They’re saying he might not make it.” she broke down completely at the last and he had to hold her up, to keep her from falling to her knees.”
“Shhhh, it’ll be alright. I won’t let him die, Hermione. He’s my brother. I’ll do whatever I can.”
“You have to help him Harry, you just have to!”
“I will, I will.” He looked over to his friend and tensed. He was a mess alright. There were patches of third degree burns over his body, and where there wasn’t, there were second and first. What really made Harry tense up, was that he was missing the lower half of his leg. The Healers seemed to be doing something about that though, since there was a long flat pan with a thick red liquid that the stump was resting it. Harry could see a red glow with fibrous whips of maroon, being pulled from the liquid towards the stump, sewing and growing the limb back, inch by slow inch.
Harry finally led Hermione over towards the Weasleys' and the two Healers. He spared a glance towards Ginny, who was puffy eyed and understandably distraught. Both she and Arthur had their arms around Molly, who was looking in a down right sad state.
“How is he?” He asked the Healers, needing to get the information quickly.
“He isn’t good. The burns have put his body into a state of shock. He’s lost a great deal of blood, but we have him on a steady stream of replenishing potion to take care of that. We will be able to grow the limb back, but it’s his mind that’s in the greatest danger now. He might not ever recover if we can’t pull him back.”
“What do you mean?”
The Healer rolled his eyes, having already given the explanation once before.
“He’s in shock. Usually when something like this happens, the patient will withdraw into themselves in an attempt to save the mind from a reality it can’t accept right then. This explosion however, carried another side affect that we are seeing with most of the other patients. A magical comatose to put it simply. Some sort of curse is affecting his mind. It’s as if the curse is simply making him lose the will to live. If he doesn’t starting fighting soon, he won’t last the night.”
Molly sat heavily on the ground and Ginny and Arthur followed her for comfort. Hermione clutched at him harder that ever, but had regained control and put on a brave face.
“What can be done?” she spared him from asked, but the Healer just gave a shrug.
“Nothing. It’s up to him now. We’ve got enough pain killers in him to numb even the Cruciatus Curse, and gel to heal the burns. If he can pull through and start fighting he should be ready to leave in a week. It’s this night that will make it or break it. Now, please excuse us, we have other patients to see.”
Everyone stared hopelessly as the curt and unsympathetic healer left with his apprentice to tend to others; others that were probably much easier to help and with less demanding families to pester him. Reluctantly, as if afraid to face the truth, the group of miserable and forlorn friends and family, moved to gather around Ron’s mangled body. Hermione made to take his hand, but thought better of it as it was heavily burned, and with a sad little sniffle; let her own drop down to her lap.
No one said anything for the longest period. Hermione sat on one side of Harry, Ginny of the other. Each had an arm and rested their head on his shoulder to watch Ron’s ragged breaths. Each sending silent pleas for him to fight. To find a way through the magic and come back to them.
After close to an hour of sniffles, yawns, and tears, Hermione broke the unspoken rule of silence and asked the question.
“Harry? Do you know what happened?”
“Yeah…” He didn’t elaborate further though, not wanting to go into detail with Ginny right there. Everyone was looking at him though and he knew he couldn’t escape without the truth. Anything else and Hermione was shred the story in half.
“He was leading a raid this morning on a suspect’s home. It was trapped and when he was inside a magical bomb went off. That’s about all I know.”
There was another pregnant silence.
“Harry,” Ginny finally spoke up, “Last night…you said that they were going to raid Eric’s home and arrest him. Was it his manor? Did he do this?”
He didn’t say, but his silence was all the answer anyone needed. Ginny’s fingers dug painfully into his arm as she went off into her own thoughts. Everyone else was having a similar reaction. Thinking of the man they had invited into their home. The man that might have murdered Ron.
Another hour later a nurse came by with some food ad tea for everyone and laid it quietly on a table before departing without a word. She did check his vitals before leaving, but gave a slight shake of her head that nothing had changed.
“Is my husband going to die Harry?” Hermione asked in a broken voice. A sound that Harry would never want to hear in his worst nightmares.
“I don’t know Hermione. It’s not looking good.”
Molly and Arthur looked at each other and it was Arthur who asked the question that Harry was waiting for. For some reason, some odd quirk of the magic, what he wanted to do had to be broached by someone of blood relation. He couldn’t offer it on his own. The help needed to be sought after.
“Harry. You obviously have a strong command of some pretty obscure magic. Is there anything you can do for Ron? Can you save my son?”
"I have an idea, but....it's dangerous. It might do more harm than good."
"We trust you, Harry," Arthur aid and Molly nodded in agreement.
Harry stood up, pulling away from the confused women and went over to the writing table that had a set of quills and parchment. He spent a minute writing out a note in that same scratchy, messy handwriting that he still had since school. Then he rolled it up and stood.
“Sirius!” he called out. A second later, outside the window, a burst of flame ignited and a bright red Phoenix, with bands of various yellow hues, appeared. With a couple of flaps it settled on the sill until Harry could open the window.
“Sirius,” he said to his faithful companion, once he was settled on his arm, “I need you to take this note to Lily, no matter where she is. Stay with her until she gets the items I need. Take her to the house if she needs to, but make it fast. Ron’s life depends on it.”
“Hermione,” he turned towards her, “Can you track down a Healer and tell them I need some Selephix potion?”
Hermione puzzled over the request; it was very odd after all.
“Harry,” she said, “That’s used for making animal’s luminescent. What possible use could it have in healing Ron?”
“It’s not only used for making animal’s glow, if you infuse obsidian dust in five parts per, it can make magical signatures light up like Christmas bulbs.”
She gasped in surprise.
“I never thought of that before! Obsidian attracts the Ragdaman Theory!”
“Yup, and if applied to say…a scrying crystal, what would happen?”
“You could trace the magical properties of any spell in the body or…the mind!”
Harry gave her a wink and a pat on the shoulder. “Go get me the potion, Hermione, times running out.”
“Oh, yes of course.” She hurried away to get the potion.
Ginny pulled him away to whisper to him alone.
“Harry, what are you going to do? Can you really help him?” harry gave her a grim look and a small shrug.
“Possibly. What I want to do is dangerous, but it’s all I can think of. I have to try Gin. You know I have to.” She bit her lip and then impulsively reached up on her toes to kiss him lightly on the lips.
“We trust you, Harry. You know that. Do what you have to.” She turned away, but Harry grabbed her arm and pulled her back towards him.
“Ginny, why did you leave this morning? No word, nothing at all. Did I do something wrong.”
“No!” she shook her head, “It’s not you, at least not entirely you. It’s partially me. Don’t worry, Harry. I’m still going to give this a try, just - let’s not have this talk right now. My brother’s dying.” she brought her arms around herself in a gesture of self comfort that Harry found adorable. He gave in and ran a hand through her hair fondly without saying a word.
The sounds of scratching quills and hushed whispers, in the Gryffindor common room, was doing more to distract Lily from her work than a marching band next to her ear. She was going over her essay for the second time and her friends still told her it wasn’t up to Professor Weasley’s standards. It was moments like this that she wished she was back in the states. They had an educational standard there, not different rules set up from teacher to teacher. How could anyone find a rhythm when every class differed so much? All Dad said was that it would be harder, but fun. Not unfair and grueling.
Her private musings, and the concentration of the entire house, were disrupted as a ball of bright flame erupted over her table, causing her and her friends to flinch away.
“What the-” various voices called out, and a couple of people gave short little barks of surprise at the show. Lily was hastily patting out a small tether of flame that had landed on her long essay and was muttering some choice ideas on what she would do to who ever had cast a fire hex over her homework when the soothing song of Sirius filled her ears. Her head snapped up in surprise to see her father’s Phoenix on the table in front of her.
“Sirius?” she asked in confusion, “What are you doing here?”
Before the majestic bird could reply a chorus of ‘ooohs’ sounded through out the room.
“Lily, that’s a Phoenix standing on our homework!” Juliana exclaimed in a wonder filled voice.
“Yeah, it’s Sirius, but what’s the ruddy thing doing here of all places?”
“You know it?”
“Yeah, he’s my fathers.” Lily replied without thinking. She knew immediately she should have kept her mouth shut, but it was too late.
“Yeah right. Like your father owns a Phoenix, O’Dowell.” A nasal voice from behind her sneered. She whipped her head around to glare at Fergeson; a cocky boy in her year, who always gave her a hard time for being raised in the states; or colonies as he tended to still call them.
“No one owns a Phoenix, Fergeson. He’s a friend that’s bonded to my father, but I can understand how you could mistake something like that with your intelligence.”
“What ever. It’s more likely Professor Weasley’s sisters. The one that was hatched during the Grand Merlin Maze. Look, it’s got a note for you.” His sneer turned into a leer as he continued, “In more trouble again probably. Going to cost us more points?”
“Just ignore the prat, Lils,” Mark told her, sending a glare to her dorm-mate, “Go on. Open the letter.”
Lily took the advice and turned her back on the up tight arse and took the letter from Sirius’s beak. It had her father’s seal on it, and she snapped it open with a touch of her wand. She opened the envelope and took the letter out and read it silently. Her eyes growing wider and wider with each passing sentence. He couldn’t be serious.
“Blimey Lils! That letters from-”
Mark and his big mouth was silence as Lily saw him reading over her shoulder and slapped a hand over his mouth. She leveled a furious and demanding glare at the stunned boy, till she thought he knew to shut up. When she removed her hand, the entire room, including Juliana, was looking at the scene with a great deal of suspicion.
“Don’t worry about who it’s from, Mark. You shouldn’t read other people’s mail.”
“But Lils! What’s ‘He’ doing writing a letter to you?”
“None of your business,” she replied through gritted teeth. Juliana couldn’t keep her curiosity under check anymore and took the opportunity to snatch of letter from her friend’s hand.
“Hey! Give that back!” Lily cried and dove over the table and an alarmed Phoenix to try to get the request back, but she was too late. Juliana had moved away and read the name at the bottom. Her eyes shot open wide and her mouth formed a comical ‘O’. When Lily finally got around the table she snatched the letter away right before Fergeson had a chance to reach it.
“Come on O’Dowell,” he taunted, making a grab for the letter, “Don’t keep us in suspense. Tell us who your father is and how he’s so important to have a Phoenix send you a letter. What did he do? Steal it?”
“Father!” Mark suddenly shot to his feet and was backing away from Lily, quickly hitting the wall. “Your fathers…Really Lils?”
She looked between both a horrified Mark and a floored Juliana before closing her eyes and with a resigned sigh nodded her head. She knew her father was really famous and that he warned her that there might be reactions like this, but she didn’t realize the extent of what he meant till she saw a trembling Mark and a normally chatty Juliana struck speechless. She’d have to get to the bottom of this when she got the stuff delivered to him.
“Yeah, it’s true, but shut up, the both of you. It’s no one else’s business. Got that?” she emphasized the last with a harsh look around the room. People gave a shrug and started to go back to their homework. Except for Fergeson, who had moved into a corner to watch the whole episode.
Lily spent a moment making sure everyone, except for the prat of course, was back to doing what they were doing before. She guessed even the appearance of a phoenix wasn’t enough to daunt the fear of Professor Weasley returning to teach Transfiguration. She tucked the note into her robe and started to gather her things. She had a feeling she was going to get in trouble for this, but maybe if she showed the faculty the note from her father they would let her off the hook. Maybe? She shook away thoughts of the future and slung her bag over her shoulder.
“Lily,” she turned to Juliana and Mark who were both standing by each other now and looking at her nervously. She mulled the situation over in her mind and with a motion of her head, left the common room. Her friends met her outside the portrait, where she waited to begin the explanation.
“So, I guess I have some explaining to do.”
“I’d say so! Blimey Lils,” Mark was shaking his head, “Your dad is Harry Potter and you’re keeping that a secret? Why? You’d be the most popular girl in school!”
“Because, I’m not supposed to tell anyone. Why are you both so strung up over this anyway? I know my father is famous or something, but you two looked like a deer caught in head-lights.”
“Muggle term; Well?”
“Because, Lily,” Juliana was wringing the front of her robes with her hands, “It’s Harry Potter. The-Boy-Who-Lived. Being his daughter is a really big deal, don’t you see?”
Lily couldn’t help but laugh out loud.
“The-Boy-Who-What?” she laughed again, “That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. What is that supposed to mean?”
She looked at both the silent and speechless friends and a fresh wave of mirth threatened to bubble up from their expressions.
“Anyways, I’m sure you can tell me all about it, but I have to do something for my Dad, I’ll see you guys later tonight.”
“What are you going to do?” asked Mark. He still had that star struck look on his face. Like he had awakened from a dream and wasn’t sure what was reality or fiction.
“I…have to do some things.” she replied.
“What kind of things?” asked Juliana, “Can we help?”
Lily hesitated. She could use the help. A distraction would be pretty nice.
“Ok, if you guys don’t mind getting into trouble. We could end up spending a week in detention.”
“Wicked!” exclaimed Mark, who was getting into the idea the more he thought about it. Helping out and befriending the daughter of Harry Potter would certainly one up Fergeson and his toady Lavenhurst.
“Ok, follow me. We have to go down to Hogsmead and snatch something from my house.”
“Leave Hogwarts?” Juliana jumped and looked around nervously. “I’m not sure I want to do this now.”
Lily was growing impatient. Harry was waiting.
“Well then stay. I have to hurry though. I’ll see you back here. Come on Mark, I know a secret way out.” She turned and started to run down the long flights of steps towards the ground floor.
“Coming!” he said and started after her. A minute later Juliana caught up to them, slightly winded and with a wounded expression.
“Jeeze guys. You were supposed to try to convince me to come. Not leave me standing there looking like a scared second year!” Lily smiled.
“You didn’t look like a scared second year.” she told her friend.
“You looked like a scared first year.” That remark was rewarded with a tongue. Lily giggled as they come to the statue that the letter told her of.
“Look around the corners,” she told her friends, “Make sure no one is around.”
So far they hadn’t run into any trouble. It was still mid day however, so students out of house on a Sunday wasn’t a problem. Still, her heart was beating so fast that if she had the misfortune of meeting a Professor, she would probably have been given detention just from the look on her face.
She shook away that terrible thought and focused on the statue in front of her. She pulled the letter out of her robes and read the part over one more time. Satisfied she had it down she leaned closer to the statue and muttered the password under her breath. She let loose a started squawk and leapt back in surprise as the cumbersome thing moved away from the wall slightly. Mark and Juliana rushed around the corner at the sound and their jaws dropped at the sight.
“Lils’, where’d ya learn about this?”
“From my Dad’s letter. Come on lets go before someone sees us!” She slipped through the narrow opening. With the two comrades in mischief soon behind them they had to use a Lumos to light their way after the statue had closed up.
It was obvious, even from the pale and poor wand light, that no one had trod this passage since the time that Harry and his friends had stolen through them. Thick forests of spider webs seemed to create of maze of silvery silken strands that had to at times be blown away by a spell or two. It was slow going and they were about half way down the path when Juliana shrieked so loud that the other two dropped their wands. When the wands were once more in hand they directed the light towards Juliana, who was pressed against a dirty wall and crying in fear.
“Jules’?!” Mark asked, moving over to the young girl quickly in concern, “What’s wrong?”
She didn’t have the strength to answer and just continued to stare at something. Mark and Lily looked at each other and then followed her gaze.
“Sweet Merlin!” Mark gasped and backed against the wall next to Juliana. Lily was able to keep hold of her self, but just barely.
On the ground was an old skeleton. A horrifying visage that still had old rotted clumps of skin still on it. A perverse and morbid curiosity overcame Lily and she knelt down to examine the corpse more closely. It had been dead many years, she saw, but probably still in her lifetime. The robes it once wore were chewed and tattered. Barely still in one piece, having been eaten by rodents and close to disintegration by the elements. She saw something lying next to it and directed her wand light closer. It was a mask. A mask in the terrifying visage of a broken and fanged skull.
“Mark,” Lily whispered, “look at this. What do you make of it?” She picked up the masked and moved to show him.
Juliana was still in a nearly catatonic state and had her eyes screwed shut and was rocking herself back and forth. Mark on the other hand in typical boy fashion, got over his surprise and was as curious now as Lily. He moved his wand over the mask and studied it a moment. He pulled it from Lily’s hands and examined it more closely.
“Not sure,” he shrugged, “Looks spooky. Hey! This would be a great Halloween mask! Mind if I take it with us?”
Lily didn’t care one way or the other as long as it was out of her sight. She wanted to stay a bit and look at the skeleton closer, but they had to get Juliana away, who was whimpering now and close to bolting or fainting. Either one wouldn’t be good.
“I don’t care, just put it away and get moving. Come on Juliana, let’s get away from here.” Lily said. Juliana quickly agreed and they continued down the webbed and musty path.
“Who do you think it was? Mark asked.
“How am I supposed to know? Let me use my amazing powers of divination to divine the deceitful declaration!” she rolled her eyes.
“Yeah, but the way there was skill old skin on it-”
“Can we PLEASE, talk about something else?” Juliana begged from between then. Lily grabbed her hand and gave it a squeeze.
“Yeah, Mark was just about to shut up about it, weren’t you, Mark?”
“Errr…Yeah. Sorry Jules’”
“Stop calling me Jules’!” she whispered.
“Ok, Ok, Juliana.” Lily could see something ahead and motion for them to be quiet.
“I think we’re almost there,” she told them, “I see something ahead of us.”
They began to move more in earnest. Each eager to be free of the old confining space of the tunnel. They came at last to a set of stone stairs that led up to a wooden door. Carefully Lily inched the wooden open and took a look around. It was a storage room. She pushed the door aside and moved up and out of the way. Soon the three of them were breathing fresh air and looking around. It seemed to be a candy store of some kind. Boxes and crates were filled with different kinds of sweets. Lollipops, chocolate frogs, flying candy canes; there were hundreds of different things in the room.
“I think were in Honey dukes.” Mark told them.
“Honey dukes?” Lily asked.
“Yeah. It’s a sweet store in Hogsmead. We must be right in the middle of the town.”
“That’s good then,” she told her friends, “My house isn’t too far from here. Maybe a couple of blocks.”
Juliana spoke. “But it’s obvious that we shouldn’t be in Hogsmead. Someone is bound to see us and make us go back to the castle. We’ll be in real trouble then.”
Lily thought for a moment.
“Do either of you know any glamour charms?” They both shook their head.
“We’ll just have to brave it then. Cover our faces and hurry as fast as possible. If anyone tries to stop us, we run for it. If we get separated make your way back here and go back to the castle. Got it?” They both nodded and pulled their robes a little over their faces.
They crept out of the cellar and past an elderly man and woman who were moving some things around on the shelves. They almost got caught when one of them turned around, but they were able to duck behind a shelf in time. When a patron with a little child came in they used the chance and dipped through the open door. The streets were bustle with activity as families and couples were moving from shop to shop on an average day in the Wizarding world. A few gave the trio a curious, but amused stare, but no one tried to stop them. Kids would be kids after all and no one wanted to bother taking tem back to the castle, or had the heart to stop their little adventure.
Lily led them down some allies and over a couple of streets. It took about ten minutes, but she finally brought them to a comfy building that was part shop and part house. A few people were mingling outside the closed shop to look at some of the merchandise through the window. Lily didn’t want to be seen walking in so she took them around back.
“Is this it, Lily?” Juliana asked her. She nodded in reply.
“Yeah. My Dad runs his business here and we live upstairs.”
“Harry Potter owns Perfect Protections?” Mark asked in astonishment. Lily didn’t think it was such a big deal and just gave a small shrug before walking up to the back door. She tuned out the barrage of questions Mark started to ask her and took out her wand. She pressed it to a symbol on the back door and tried to remember what her father had told her.
“Right before might.” she uttered and with a pale pink glow the door clicked and swung open. “Oh good. I got it right.”
“Got it right?” Juliana asked in a strangled voice. “What would have happened if you got it wrong?”
“I guess we would have woken up in the Ministry cells for breaking and entering.” Juliana and Mark both made some strangling noises behind her back as she walked into her home.
Her father had done some work in the month she had been away. The storage room in the back of the house had finally been organized and labeled. It used to be a hopeless mess and they had to search for whatever they needed. She took them past the back room and into her fathers main work room. It was dark so she lit up the glow bulbs along the walls.
“Wow!” both her friends breathed at the sight. All along the room were various objects all in some state of work. One was rotating slowly over a cauldron, absorbing the vapors that came out. Another was sitting over a purple flame and still another was just dancing in the air, seeming to do nothing else.
“This is so cool.” Mark told her, moving over to look at the thin rod that was pulling in the cauldron’s vapor. He started to reach out to touch it before Juliana grabbed his arm and pulled him back.
“Don’t touch stuff. It isn’t yours and you could blow us all up.” Mark was about to argue when Lily confirmed Juliana’s statement.
“She’s right Mark. All of this is really dangerous right now. They aren’t finished and can be deadly. Best not to touch anything.”
Her friend gulped and took another step back and stood next to Juliana, eyeing the now ominously thin rod. Lily pulled out the letter with the list and set to work. She went to a large cabinet and opened it up. Inside were dozens of gems and rocks, even a diamond the size of a thumbnail. She began to look through a couple of the sealed bags until she found what she wanted and tucked away the glossy black shards into her robe.
“What was that?” Juliana asked her.
“What’s it for?”
“Beats me, Dad just needs it.” she said and then knelt down under one of the benches and pulled out a box.
“Look in the other boxes. Look for a large crystal about the size of your hand.” she told them.
“We won’t get killed will we?” Lily rolled her eyes in exasperation.
“No you idiots. He wouldn’t keep something dangerous just lying in boxes. That stuff is stored in a protected place. Just keep looking, I gotta get something else, then we can leave.”
Juliana and Mark nodded and began to look through all the boxes for the crystal. While they were diverted, Lily snuck through a black doorway on the other side of the room. The room beyond was always lit. It was spacious, but didn’t have much in it. Each item was meticulously separated from the other. Shelves lined each wall, all glowing or flickering with a different variety of protections for each item. Potions boiled in stoppers. Little dark insects banged themselves inside jars, but the most dangerous items couldn’t be seen, the protections around them were so powerful and many. Lily walked across the room to another door way and hesitated. She had never been beyond this door. It was the most important rule of the house. No one, for any reason but Harry was to go inside. Now her dad was telling her to break that rule and bring something out.
She raised her wand, like instructed and placed it inside the thin hole in the center.
“Oparius et Simina et Farius et tu Apsa!” she whispered. The door seemed to shimmer and literally melted away before her eyes. Even her jaw dropped at the room beyond.
The walls were plastered with silver and gold. How they held up to the weight she didn’t know. Along the walls odd runes were glittering and shifting as if alive. They moved and writhed in complicated patterns forming new runes each time they brushed each other. The bands of silver moved to strike like snakes when three or more runes threatened to collide and forced them away. It was the strangest sight she had ever seen.
In the room were four items. One on each wall resting on a pedestal and a velvet pillow. In the center was a large and old book that seemed like it was torn in half. A glass jaw rested over the top and the jar itself had its own runes as well. She was specifically told not to go near the book. No matter what. The item she needed was on the other side of the wall. She pulled out the letter once more and read the instructions carefully.
She moved over to the far right wall, stepping on the stones that would be safe until she reached the item there. She then waved her wand over the item and incanted the words to negate the defenses.
“Illuminus Valdra Octo.” The haze fell away and she picked up the cloth. It was a large cloak that seemed to shimmer. The ends were frayed and slightly tattered, but it was still in excellent shape. She threw the cloak over her and vanished from sight. Her view shifted slightly and the world took on a graying view from under the cloak. She could see two large shadowy figures guarding the item on the far wall. She was told that with the cloak they wouldn’t see her or harm her.
She followed yet another patterns of stones, having to almost walk around the room twice before she finally came before the two creatures. They were vague and hazy. Like shadows and smoke they stood, or floated, she couldn’t tell which, on either side of the item. She raised her wand once more and pointed it at the item. Following the last set of instructions she weaved a figure eight sign and muttered the words as softly as she could. It was a long password.
“Conjuvius Electo et Fina tu Finite.” she slashed her wand down. “Apsu Paramosa et Fina tu Finite” she slashed her wand up. “Parsalius Imbivia, Juxtavius Agusto.”
She steeled her self and lightly toughed the item with the tip of her wand. Beside her each figure shrieked and was blown away by the expulsion of the enchantments. The gloom given off by them faded away and the item rose slightly off its cushion. Ready for grasping.
She carefully reached out and took the wand. It was long and white, with what seemed like bubbles infused in the white wood. Large towards the base and growing progressively small towards the tip. She was tempted to try and cast a spell with it, but her father told her to do so would bring her great harm.
Safe now, with the wand in hand she took off the cloak and moved back towards the other pedestal. She folded it up and placed it back on the velvet, reenacting the protections that were temporarily down.
“You owe me one, Dad.” she said and walked out of the room, shutting and relocking the door behind her.
Back in the work room, Mark and Juliana were waiting.
“What took you so long? We were worried!” Juliana asked immediately. Mark scoffed.
“She was worried. I knew you were ok.”
“You liar! You were about to charge through the door to rescue her!”
“Enough!” Lily screamed. “By Merlin’s saggy left bottom. The two of you could make a dementor kiss its self! I’m fine and I got what I needed. Did the two of you get the crystal?”
Looking ashamed the two nodded and Juliana held up the sphere.
“Good. It’s time to go then. Head back to the castle. I have to go give this stuff to Dad.”
“We aren’t coming with you?” Mark asked indignantly.
“No, you can’t. I’m taking Sirius to St. Mungos. I might not be back till late.”
“You can’t just leave us here Lily,” Juliana said, “We risked our necks to help you. Take us with you. If we get caught we won’t have the protection that you do. You’re going to get us in trouble again.”
“It’s not like that Juliana.”
“Yes it is. Whenever we help you on your silly schemes, we get in more trouble that you do.”
“Not for the potion! I got in trouble for that one.”
“That’s just once in five times now? If you leave us to hang out to dry for this one, Lily, we won’t ever speak to you again!”
“She’s right, Lils,” Mark said, “You’re taking us with you all the way on this one. Besides, how often do we get a chance to meet the great Harry Potter?”
“I don’t see what’s so great about him. You guys don’t have to do his chores or smell his socks!”
“Don’t change the subject Lils’. We’re going with you.”
Lily threw up her arms. “Fine! If I get yelled at for bringing you lot, you’re both going to be doing my homework for a month.”
Mark and Juliana looked at each other for a moment and nodded.
“Deal!” they both said. Lily rolled her eyes and then took the Crystal from them and placed it with the other items.
“Sirius!” she called out into the air. A moment later the Phoenix that had been a staple in her life appeared in a bright flash of fire. “Change of plans, Sirus. You have to take us all to St. Mungos. These thickheads won’t let me go otherwise.”
Sirius let loose a short and curt trill.
“I know, I know, but they’re my friends. I can’t let them get in trouble for me again. Please take them?” The bird seemed to ponder it a moment before it flapped its wings a couple of times.
“Ok guys, he agrees. Come and hold his tail.”
Mark and Juliana shuffled over with smiles plastered all over their faces and took the large fanning tail of Sirius.
“This is so neat!” Mark said, “I get to apperate with Harry Potter’s Phoenix and meet the man himself! Wait till my brother hears about this. He won’t believe me.”
Lily pursed her lips, but didn’t have time to rebuke him as they felt their world vanish in a flash of light. It wasn’t like apperating, where you feel yourself squeezed through a hole. It was like being broken up painlessly into thousands of pieces and moved around. When they were put back together they found themselves in a lobby in front of a very startled Auror.
“What the- Who are you lot?” he asked, drawing his wand and eyeing the three children suspiciously. Lily stepped forward and held out her hand.
“Hello, I’m Lily Potter. My father sent for me. These are my friends sent to look after me. It’s very important that I see my Dad right away. I have something for him.”
The Auror had an eye brow raised and was very skeptical.
“Harry Potter’s daughter eh? And I’m Merlin’s long lost son. Come on you lot. Back to school with you. Old McGonagall won’t be happy with some of her students leaving the school to bug Harry Potter.”
Lily didn’t really know what to say. Why wouldn’t he believe her?
“But I really am his daughter! Well, adopted anyways. He sent for me. Go check with him, he’ll tell you.”
“Harry Potter’s best friend is lying dying in a bed and you three are itching for an autograph. Unbelievable. I’m not going to bother him over this silly nonsense. Let’s go.”
“No! I’m not lying! Go check with him! He needs some stuff to help out his friend! He sent me to get them from our house. He’s tall; he stoops a bit when too many people look at him. He’s shy around crowds, but has a nice smile. He likes kids, but hates bullies. He used to read me bed time stories after my other dad died. When he reads at night it’s always with pumpkin juice and real close to the fire so he can head the crackle of the flames. Please believe me!”
The Auror still looked skeptical, but the impassion, almost crying, young girl in front of him convinced him to take the risk. If he was wrong and she really was Harry Potter’s adopted daughter then not letting her through would kill his career. If he let her through and it was just a fan, all he would get would be a scolding from his superiors. The lesser of two evils.
“Ok. Follow me. I warn you though; if you’re lying, I’ll march you back in chains, right into Hogwarts, in front of the whole school. Got it?”
The three children gave a nervous nod and followed after him; their Hogwarts robes swaying behind them as they hurried to keep pace with the taller man. He took them past some reporters who looked at the bunch, but pawned it off to some kids who had Auror parents. It was a close guess, but they weren’t bothered as the Auror took them through a pair of large white doors.
The three of them stopped at the scene. Juliana grew green and ran over to a waste bucket and lost her lunch. Mark and Lily weren’t far off, but were able to hold the contents of their stomach down; albeit with great effort. The Auror had waited for them and actually gave Juliana and sympathetic pat on the back before pulling her along. When they reached the last door in the hall way he told them to wait here and went inside the room.
Not more that a minute passed before he came out again and told the three they could enter. He apologized to Lily for giving her such a hard time and tried to make her understand that he was just doing his job. She didn’t reply, but gave him an indifferent, but frosty look. He took the hint and made his way back towards his post.
Lily pushed through the door with Mark and Juliana following shyly behind her. The room was an almost cold white, with a few wizarding portraits around, but empty. A table to their left, against the wall, held a pan and some potions with a fresh roll of gauze. Against the other wall as a bed that held Ron Weasley, and next to the bed was her father, Harry Potter.
Harry looked at the three timid children calmly, but with pursed lips. He studied each face in turn before standing up from his seat and walking over.
“Where is Sirius?” was the first thing he asked. Lily looked started and looked around in confusion.
“Ummm, I don’t know. I totally forgot about him when he brought us here. Harry just nodded and reached out to brush something off her shoulder. He looked her up and down to make sure she was alright.
“I assume you brought the items?” his voice sounded mildly accepting, but she could tell there was a hint of anger or annoyance there. This wasn’t good.
“Yeah, right here.” she said softly and untied the bag at her side and handed it over to him. He looked inside and nodded. He pulled out the wand and gave it a close inspection before nodding satisfaction.
“Thank you, Lily.” He hesitated before pulling her into a hug. She loved his hugs. She knew he never had much of them as a kid and he made up for that by hugging her every time he could. It made her feel really loved and she didn’t complain at all. Lots of kids got slaps instead. She counted herself lucky. When he pulled away he looked at her two friends and cocked a brow.
“Oh, I’m sorry. I forgot to introduce you all. Dad, this is Juliana Evensere and Mark Wallace. Their friends from school. Mark, Juliana, this is Harry Potter, my Dad.”
She stepped back to let her father get to know them a bit. He held out his hand and shook theirs.
“Hello,” he told the star struck second years. They just nodded dumbly and stood with open mouths to stare at him. Each of their eyes slid up to his forehead at the same time to land on his scar. It was a huge irritation at the time and he let some of his famous temper loose.
“Normally, when someone says hello, you say something back. And my eyes are lower. They aren’t in my scar.”
They two looked horrified and darted their eyes down much lower. To the floor in fact. The girl mumbled something under her breath that Harry couldn’t understand.
“What was that?” Mark looked at Juliana as if she had just insulted the Minister for Magic and leapt to correct the affront.
“She said it’s an honor to meet you sir. We’ve heard so much about you.”
Harry chuckled a bit. “I imagine you have, and it’s nice to meet the both of you as well. Anyone who is willing to befriend that little brat behind you must have some guts.”
“Hey!” Lily protested, but quickly shut up at the look he gave her. She says that it was coming and coming fast. She started to inch away.
“I assume you two have an amazing adventure to tell me.” Mark leapt at the bait before Lily could stop him.
“Oh yeah! It was wicked. We snuck through an old tunnel; hid out in Honeydukes, cool place by the way; then Lily took us inside your house-”
“Inside you say?” Lily flinched, “I hope you liked it.”
“Oh yeah. She showed us your work room too.”
“Really?! What a treat!” Lily groaned and started to inch away some more.
“You have so many cool things there. There was this rod that seemed to eat up the smoke. I almost touched it, but Juliana stopped me, and then Lily told me it was dangerous and not to touch anything unless she said so.”
“Lily!” Harry said sweetly, but with a dangerous glint in his eye, “I’m happy that I’ve taught you enough that you know what to touch and what not to touch.”
“Well, you see. It’s like this.” she started to try and explain, but Harry was having none of it.
“Enough!” he snapped and scowled at the trio. They jumped and Mark and Juliana backed away quickly to stand next to Lily, each suddenly clutching one of her hands as Harry marched down on them, his face blazing with anger.
“Lily Potter. I’ve told you, I don’t know how many times that no one, absolutely no one, is to be in our home. My instructions were clear. You and you alone were supposed to go home and get the items. Did I tell you to bring your two friends?”
She shook her head, not daring to reply.
“Did I tell you to let someone inside?” Again she shook her head.
“You let two students, who don’t know the dangers, into my Laboratory! What? I repeat, what possessed you to do something so…so…Stupid?!”
“I don’t know…” she whispered, biting back the tears that threatened to well up in her eyes. She knew it had been a bad idea and now she was paying the consequences.
“You don’t know? You don’t know? Why is that always your answer? I’ve raised you with enough sense to actually think of reasons behind your actions, yet you always tell me ‘you don’t know’. Well, I’m sick of it, Lily Potter.”
“Sorry doesn’t make up for the fact that you put your two friends in danger. I don’t think you even understand the danger you were in. Lily, you’re protected from things because of spells I’ve placed on you. They,” he pointed to the two students who were now cowering behind her, “are not. All if would have taken was for one of them to touch to trip over something and all of you would have been dead.”
“Furthermore, what are you even doing here? I told you to get the items and give them to Sirius to bring here. Not to come here yourself and bring half the students population with you!”
“I wanted to find out what was going on. You always told me never to go into that room. I was scared and worried. I wanted to help you.”
Harry saw that her eyes were getting puffy and her lip was starting to tremble. He was still angry, but now relieved that nothing had happened to the three. He buried the fierce look on his face and gave Lily a resigned sigh. He stepped over to her and pulled her into another hug that she returned so hard that she almost squeezed the air out of him. He rested his hand behind her head kissed the soft threads of her dark hair.
“I know, sweetheart, but you have to stop doing this. One of these days the odds are going to catch up to you and someone is going to get hurt. You scare me half to death with these little stunts of yours. No more, Lily. Please don’t do this anymore.”
“Okay,” she whimpered into his robes, “I promise. I won’t do anything like this anymore.”
He smiled down at her as she lifted his head and kissed the tip of her nose.
“I love you, Dad.” she told him earnestly. “I’m so sorry.”
“It’s ok, sweetie. No one got hurt and I love you too.” He pulled away and she stepped back into the embrace of her two friends.
“Now, about your punishments.”
“Punishments, sir?” Juliana asked with a note of fear in her voice.
“Yes, punishments. All three of you left the castle. I’m sure that your professors are angry with you.”
“But sir,” Mark pleaded, “They won’t know unless you tell them.”
“Ah, but I’m afraid that one of them already knows?”
“Errr, they do?” he asked nervously.
“Yes. They do,” a new voice said behind them.
The three seemed to freeze. Even their breathing stopped and their eyes grew wide with the horror that only a kid could possess.
‘It can’t be,’ Lily thought, ‘anyone but her. Please let it be someone else.’ Slowly the three turned their heads to look at the figure looming behind them. It was. Hermione Weasley was standing behind them with pursed lips and holding a steaming silvery potion. Her gaze was sweeping along the line like a wave pounding down a shore.
“Evensere, Wallace. Twenty points from each of you and a week’s detention.”
“Silence!” she snapped, her hair going a little wild. “My husband is dying and I have to deal with three spoiled students! I’m not in the bloody mood to hear a word from any of you! As for you McDowell; I’m not sure what to do with you anymore. I will speak with you later when I have calmed down. If I have calmed down. Now get out of here. All of you!”
They scrambled to make it to the door, but Harry’s voice stopped them.
“Hermione, they are already here and they would need an escort back to the castle. They might as well stay till things are finished, then I can take them back for you.”
Hermione looked like she was about to argue, but Harry stepped closer and put a finger on her lips.
“They did it to help me and to find out what was happening. How many times have we done something similar?”
“Harry, you can’t condone misbehavior on this scale. They need discipline-”
“And they will have disciple,” he interrupted, “but for now, I asked Lily to bring me the things she needed and her two friends just stayed by her side to help her out. Doesn’t that seem familiar to you at all? They will get the detentions and all the points your pretty little heart can deduct, but for now, let’s keep them close at hand.”
Hermione gave a large sigh and nodded with exhausting. She held up the potion to Harry.
“Here’s the Selephix potion. It was murder trying to get one of the healers to give it to me. I had to throw your clout all over the place, and drop your name like a bomb in the right places.” Harry took the potion from her and led her over to the chair.
“Take a seat Hermione. Ginny took her parents off to distract them. I’m almost ready. You three,” he called over to the three twelve year old doing their best to remain hidden and small, “Sit down and be quiet. Don’t talk, don’t move, and definitely don’t cast any spells.”
“Yes sir.” Lily said, “Thanks for letting us stay by the way.” Harry raised a brow that quelled the little bit of pride she had managed to muster.
“I want you close because I don’t know if Europe can survive the three of you outside of school. Who knows what kind of global disaster you could cause.”
“I’ve never caused a disaster before!”
“Oh? What about that tornado?”
“Oh…ok I’ll be quiet.”
Harry turned his head and broke into a grin. She never left him a dull moment. He looked down to see Hermione staring up at him curiously for a moment.
“What?” he asked softly, too low for the three students to hear.
“You sound like a parent. I’ve never heard you talk that way before. It’s nice to see.”
“Not all the time, Hermione. Lily can bring up the vilest temper in me. She really likes to test authority, but hates dealing with the consequences.” He shook his head ruefully.
“Yes, I’ve noticed.” Hermione said wryly. They both shared a laugh, and turned back to Ron.
“What are you going to do Harry?”
“An old spell; or new if you look at it in a certain way. We should get started.”
He reached into the bag and pulled everything out. When Hermione saw the wand she gasped in astonishment.
“Harry Potter! What are you doing with that? You were supposed to get rid of it!”
Harry looked at the kids in warning to her and pulled her in close to whisper in her ear.
“I retrieved it when I came back. Some of the spells in the book require a wand like the elder wand. I wanted it safely tucked away and not in some grave that anyone can dig up.”
“But you said-”
“I know what I said Hermione, but that was the ranting of a battle weary kid. I need the wand to do what needs to be done.”
“I don’t understand. Your own wand is plenty powerful.”
“It’s not the power I need, but the concentration. I can cast the spell with little effort with the Elder Wand. That leaves me plenty of concentration to do the search.”
“I’m going to merge with Ron’s mind and try to contact him and pull him back.”
“Harry, that’s dangerous. Very dangerous. What if the spells afflicting him start to affect you as well? You’ll be vulnerable.”
“That’s where you come in. The scrying crystal will work both ways. It will let me look into his mind and let you trace any spells that start to hurt me. You can pick them out one by one and counter them.”
“But what is I don’t know how?”
“Then I’ll probably die with Ron.”
“…don’t say that Harry. Don’t you dare say that to me.”
Harry pulled her into a hug and reassured her that it would be ok.
“I have faith in you Hermione. You won’t let anything happen to me. I have to start now.”
He pulled away and motioned for her to step back. She noticed that there was the faintest glow of a pentagram on the floor that stretched around the bed. Harry pocked his old wand and took the Elder in hand. He pointed it towards the fading symbol and it flared anew; a shimmering and pulsing lavender that reached to the ceiling. She had seen similar stuff in the Department of Mysteries, but never one so strong and defined. He then conjured a small wooden bowl and poured the Selephix potion into it.
“Hermione,” he said to her, “I need you to power the obsidian while I work on the crystal. It needs to be very fine.”
“Can I use magic?”
She took the shards away from him and set them on the table to get to work. She conjured her own bowl to pulverize the stone and got to work. Meanwhile Harry cast a permanent levitation charm on the crystal sphere and began to utter spell after spell at it. What was once a haze transparent globe was slowly turning into a glowing smoky mirror.
The three Hogwarts students sat transfixed at the sight. They were witnessing magic that none, but perhaps Lily, had ever seen. This was real magic. Not levitation charms and Hinklypuffs. Glowing symbols and flying crystals. The stuff that famous wizards performed that they only read about. Never to be witnessed. This day would be forever engrained in their minds.
Mark leaned over to whisper into Lily’s ear.
“Wow,” he breathed, “Your Dad really is Harry Potter! He’s amazing”
“Shhhh. Be really quiet and don’t move. I’ve seen him do stuff like this before and it’s never a good idea to distract him. Bad things happen.”
“Bad things?” he asked. She looked at him and then rolled up the bottom of her robe up to her lower thigh. There was a think jagged scar surrounded by some old tissue that seemed to be an old burn.
“Bad things,” she emphasized grimly. Mark gulped and sat back into the picture perfect image of stillness and patience. Juliana reached out and took Lily’s hand. She knew about the scar, being her dorm-mate and all. Lily never said how she got it, except to say that she was fooling around while her father was doing something dangerous. They all sat and watched the magic across the room.
Hermione was now done, with the stone. It was smashed and smashed again into fine black sand. Nothing larger than a grain was left. She stood up and took it over to Harry who was just now finishing the last piece of magic on the sphere.
“I’m done,” she told him. He gave a nod and took the bowl from her without a word and poured the sand into the Selephix potion. The thick silvery substance took on a creamy white as Harry stirred it in. When he was done he tapped the side of the bowl with his wand and a thin layer of frost appeared around the wood, cooling it dramatically. He then used the wand once more to lower it into the potion. He rotated the globe slowly until the thick sticky substance coated every inch and the bowl was empty. As Hermione watched the creamy white seemed to be absorbed into the crystal until the smoky shine of the reflection cleared and, while still mirrorish, cast no reflection of the room.
“Ok. I’m ready. This is going to take awhile. I won’t be able to speak once I’ve started. It’s important that no one touches me or interrupts the spell. Hermione watch the scrying sphere carefully. Look for changes in color and lines. When a spell tries to imprint itself on me you’ll see something come out of the crystal and try to touch me. Don’t let it. Stop whatever it is in any way you can short of body contact. Got it?”
“And you three,” he looked toward the three children, “Not a word or a peep or a movement. No matter what happens don’t interfere. Understood?”
“Yes sir.” They said together and gave their promise.
“Well then. Let’s get started.”
He sat down next to the bed and sent the globe to hover over Ron’s head. Then he pointed his wand and silently cast the spell with a tense expression of concentration. There was a loud bang and an arch of gold light shot from the wand and hit the sphere, and then rebounded into Ron. The erratic gold light stabilized into a smooth line that bridges the two men and the room fell quiet.
Harry’s eyes fell closed and the only sounds were the humming, and sometimes crackle, of the magical bridge. Long minutes passed before Hermione had to make her move. She was watching the sphere closely when she say the tell tale flicker of a thin black steam gather on its surface. She readied her wand and watched some more. When it struck she was ready. Most black magical signatures were life and energy stealing curses. When it lashed out towards the still form of Harry she was ready.
“Abeos Mumius!” she cried out and the smoky stream ran head long into a faint golden dome that was erected around Harry. The stream continued its assault for a few seconds more until its power was drained and faded away. Then the smartest witch