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Chapter 6 : Heartless
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Harry/James, Ginny/Lily, Ron, and Neville apparated onto a windswept plain. The grass was knee high, not deep enough to hide anyone wanting to ambush them. In the distance there was a small thatched roof cottage.
"James why did you bring us this way?" Ron wanted to know. "I mean the view is beautiful with the mountains in the background."
"Because Rook they are not connected to the floo network. Kingsley has known this man for over 30 years and feels it is important for him to be at the conference."
"Speaking of that is the planning meeting still Friday?" asked Neville as he kept glancing behind them. Even though they were disillusioned it never paid to be too careful.
"Leaf it is now Saturday. Some scheduling issues have forced us to adjust some things. I trust this does not inconvenience you too much" Lily asked.
"Actually this is better. I wanted to spend time with my girlfriend and her Family on Friday so this way we will have all day" Neville responded.
"Excellent. Saturday at Noon it is. Lily can you contact Cat and Royal please?" James requested. He saw Lily's patronus, now a doe, leap out and vanish. Harry carefully inspected the area around the house, noting much of the lawn was walked on recently especially near the doors and windows. "Keep alert" he reminded them as he cast 'Homenum Revelio'. It only showed one occupant inside, but his second spell 'Priori Incantatum' uncovered much magic used in the last day. He silently pointed to the many marks on the walls and roof indicating spell damage. Casting his modified shield charm he knocked on the door in the designated pattern. The door abruptly opened and a jet of white light erupted at them. His shield caught it and reflected it back, creating twin beams in Gryffindor Houses' red and gold. A clanging sound was heard as they hit the corresponding shield inside indicating the response was accepted.
"Kveojur Husbondi" James said as he bowed.
"Anaegjulegt ao lokumhitta dig" came the reply. In the dim light they saw a very, very old man lying in a bed in the center of the room. It was sparsely decorated with thin shabby curtains which may once have been used at Hogwarts. A washstand sat beside the bed looking to be centuries old.
The man in the bed looked older still. "Come closer my children. My vision isn't what it used to be" he instructed with a raspy voice. As they approached they understood what he meant. No color existed in his eyes other than white, indicating he was blind.
"Here Father" Ginny said as she poured him a glass of water. She sat beside him on the bed, helping him to drink it. A tingle ran down her arm as his trembling hand touched hers.
"Thank you my child" he responded, now not coughing quite as much. "Come closer all of you, for I have little time left. I am sorry to say I cannot attend this gathering. For many years Albus and I discussed it, but circumstances prevented it. You are his student" he said, looking in Harry's direction.
"Yes. We all are" he answered, placing his hand over Ginny's. She kept hers in the old man's hand, and Harry motioned for Neville and Ron to do the same on the other side.
"For many years this has been my home. My wife and I. As you can tell she is no longer with me. About 15 of your years ago we were attacked here. I was outside gathering wood in the neighboring forest when they came. As powerful as she was she was no match for them. Their leader, and her apprentice, had a small army. I returned immediately but it was too late. I confronted them and in my rage killed all but the two who barely escaped with their lives."
"I know the feeling" Harry whispered, remembering himself.
"I can see you have. It is unfortunate to have to get to that point. But I can see the love in your hearts. Especially you two. You will be married soon?" he asked trying hard to see Ginny and Harry.
"Not soon enough" she replied, kissing him in the forehead.
"And you too. You have found mates?" he asked.
"Yes. I am asking her this Friday" Neville stated.
"Congratulations" Ron told his best friend. "My Wedding will be in several weeks."
"I am pleased for all of you. Marriage is an incredible thing. To find the one you are meant to be with for all time, both now and when you are gone. My wife is waiting for me and I will join her soon. For many years I have lived on this Earth. Great sorrow and great joy have I seen. Two things have kept me going. Love, and the quest for knowledge.
I first met Albus Dumbledore about 100 years ago. He and his friend were searching the World for ways to make themselves unbeatable, believing that their superiority could force those around them to do what is in their best interest. Tragedy caused them to part ways, resulting in him understanding the most powerful weapons can be used for both good and evil. It took him years to come to grip with what happened. Eventually he discovered what I did long ago. That love is the most powerful magic there is. Once he accepted that, and began to live himself again, he could face his former friend. I brought them here away from the crowds and the distractions. Their Battle lasted several days ending with him being the victor.
Unfortunately winning did little to satisfy him. He continued to blame himself, this time for not addressing the problem sooner. He returned to Hogwarts eventually becoming Headmaster. Having all of your young minds helped him. I was saddened to hear about his death, but it comes to take all of us eventually."
"We were there. Our hearts were broken too" Harry answered.
"I can hear the sadness in your voice. Do not fear for him or me. But my time grows short. My 'friends' have returned with reinforcements" he said as the building shook.
"What can we do?" asked Neville as he felt footsteps on the roof.
"Ignore them. This is more important. They cannot enter while I live. The reason why I was attacked was for my knowledge. Inside my head is the accumulated knowledge of hundreds of years of research into charms and spells. Tom Riddle pursued me even after his death. His lieutenant joined with another, and it was they who took my wife's life. When Voldemort was reborn she returned to him after being liberated from prison."
"Bellatrix" Ron hissed.
"Yes. But her new mentor is here again, believing if I am captured they can force the knowledge out of me." He closed his eyes and the air began to swirl around him. Hundreds of silvery vapors came out of his head, eventually materializing into an ordinary looking book. "Here is my knowledge. Accumulated from over six hundred years of studying. Albus told me when the time will come there will be six I could trust who loved each other more than their own lives. Guard this carefully." His breathing began to slow and get more shallow.
"James can you get us out of here?" Lily asked as the building shook more.
"Yes but I have been using my shield to help him protect us. I have taught you the spell. Hogwarts is our best bet" he answered as beads of sweat ran down his face from the exertion of keeping those outside.
"Everyone hang on" Lily said as she kissed James. Simultaneously there was a flash as the roof collapsed.
"NO !!!" screamed the leader, who thought four others who she hated were caught too. Angrily she kicked the empty bed, setting both it and what was left of the cottage ablaze. She then killed several of her followers and disappeared herself.
* * *
With a flash five figures appeared at the gates of Hogwarts. Ron sent his patronus inside while Neville levitated the now dead body. James and Lily were leaning on each other attempting to stand.
"You were magnificent" Lilly told her boyfriend.
"Thanks. But without him there were too many. I don't know how he kept them out all those years" he replied as he continued to take deep breaths.
"It was with this" Lily replied, slipping the valuable book into her bottomless purse. Another flash brought Cat/Minerva and Royal/Kingsley to the gate.
"We have dropped the wards temporarily" Minerva answered. "Kingsley you help James and I'll take Lily. You two please bring our late friend." The seven of them apparated into the Headmistresses Office, and she waved her wand to reinstate the protective wards. Several clangs were heard indicating people trying to enter.
"Just barely" Kingsley told them as he helped James into a seat. Lily went immediately to his side, afraid the strain was too great on him.
"I couldn't have brought everyone back" he said as he kissed her. "I love you."
"James I love you too. We need to get home as soon as possible so you can rest. We aren't ready yet for the conference and you need your strength."
"You may use my Office if you wish to rest before leaving" the portrait of the Headmaster stated.
"Thank you Albus" James replied as he got unsteadily to his feet. Leaning on Lily he waved his wand and the symbols of the four houses of Hogwarts floated out- the lion of Gryffindor, the badger of Hufflepuff, the eagle of Ravenclaw, and the snake of Slytherin. Each went to a bookcase on the far wall and blended into the four corners of it, glowing like they were there all along. The bookshelf silently swung open revealing a room beyond. The weary couple left their friends for some much needed rest.
"Since when has that been there?" Kingsley wondered.
"I had no idea. There were times I swear Albus was in here, but when I came in the room appeared empty" Minerva replied.
"It is a sanctuary of sorts. James and I spent much time in there when he was here" he answered in his normal cryptic manner. "My friend is reunited with his wife Perenelle. He missed her very much. They were apart very little the last 500 years."
"So I take it this is Nicolas Flamel" Neville wondered.
"Yes. One of the strongest Wizards of all time, and certainly the most knowledgeable. Had that gotten into the wrong hands things might have been even worse than with Tom Riddle" replied the Headmaster.
"Did something go wrong there?" Kingsley inquired.
"Yes and no. We arrived outside and saw the evidence of visitors recently. He allowed us in and we saw an incredibly old man who was near death" Ron told them.
"He talked about you and your Battle with Grindewald. Then he passed on his wisdom and knowledge in the form of a small book which Lily has" added Neville.
"That was when they attacked. He said they can't come in while he was alive but because he was dying they probably could have. James helped him to keep the protective shield up while he was making the book, and Lily apparated us to safety. What do you know about her, other than she and James love each other?" asked Ron.
"They have known each other since childhood. Like James she has had to face adversity at a young age. She is also very powerful and not to be trifled with. If they didn't tell you it was Iceland our friend lived in, since the Medieval Witch hunts forced him out of his home. At one point in time he lived near you. Over 1000 miles they transported you" Minerva answered.
"Albus and I went there decades ago attempting to convince him and his wife to support the idea of the conference. While they believed in it he was reluctant to come here. Tom Riddle had been tracking him for years wishing to form a backup plan in his quest for conquering the World. Later we found out it was the sorcerer's stone he was after in his attempt to be reborn after his unsuccessful murder attempt of Harry" added Kingsley.
"Speaking of Harry how do we know if he will be there? Five years since he left and no word. I don't know if I want to hug him or beat the stuffing out of him" Ron stated for himself and Neville who was nodding in agreement.
"When we saw Harry six months after he disappeared he was a shadow of himself. Yes he was eating but the fire and the passion was gone. Kreacher had healed him physically but mentally he was 'acting like Harry' shouldering all the blame for the deaths on both sides. Coupled with feeling like being at the Burrow was a burden on your Family he felt he had no choice other than to leave" replied Minerva.
"But he wasn't!!! He should have known that!!!" Ron yelled.
"How could he? None of us were of a sound mind. I had my hands full at the Ministry. Your Father and Brother Percy were a great help but with working 16 hour days for weeks on end they could barely stand. Charlie was trying to motivate George to get out of his room and then get the shop restarted. Did you know Harry transferred gold into their account at Gringotts so they could?. Thank GOD for Angelina Johnson being there or he might have withdrawn further than he did" Kingsley told him.
"And Hermione and I weren't any help. We fluctuated between being so happy we couldn't stand it and missing Fred and her parents. Ginny never talked about while we were gone. Everything we know came from Neville, Seamus, Michael, Susan, and the others of the DA" Ron added.
"The beatings and the curses she endured so the younger kids wouldn't be subjected to them almost broke her. Very rarely did she cry. Probably the worst time was when we found out everything we let them do to us to keep the first and second years safe was made worse. Special rooms created to torture us in, with walls put up so that the younger ones could see us but we couldn't see them. Knowing we let them do those things to us so it didn't happen to them. Learning later some even killed themselves so that it wouldn't happen to us anymore."
"I was in as bad a shape as Harry. Hannah refused to let me push her aside and kept after me. Because she was there for some of it I think it helped her to understand. She and my Gran healed my burns and you wouldn't know it now. But a part of me wished I would have paid more attention to Harry" Neville bitterly said.
"All of us were in bad shape Neville. Molly was hurting too, unable to deal with the grief. Her mistake was to treat Harry like one of her own, not realizing he wasn't a Weasley. He did not react to things the same way as the rest of you. A blow up, get it out of your system, and life goes on. Both of you know how he brooded on things. We will never know what he has kept bottled up inside. Ginny was the closest to discovering these things. Hermione too. So to answer your question yes he wants to be there. He wishes he could help out more directly, but for now is forced to remain on the sidelines. I believe this will help him in the long run. Not to get back onto the cover of the Prophet as many have speculated but to get back into the real World. What his future plans are only he knows."
* * *
Ginny led Harry to a couch and helped him to lie down. A table appeared next to her and she gratefully filled a glass of water for him. She wondered if he might like pumpkin juice better and the liquid transformed as she was pouring it. "So I take it we are in the Room of Requirement?" she stated as she handed him the glass.
"It is but not the same one. The day after I rescued you from the Chamber he was pacing around in the main Office, wishing for a place to collect his thoughts. The four symbols appeared on the book case and the door opened. He entered to find a smaller version of his Office, free of outside interruptions. We came here to study and prepare for Tom once Albus was certain that is who we were facing."
The Room changed to show a library like the regular Office. Desks and couches appeared to allow more people places to work. "Harry who else knew about this? Hermione would have killed to be in here."
"Just Albus and I. And now you. He wished to keep this quiet and I am respecting his request."
"Thank you James. Or should I saw Harry? Or Sven, Stosh, or who knows how many others?" teased Albus from his portrait which just appeared.
"Too many old friend. You know what Ginny has?"
"Yes. Guard it with your life. Nicolas has forgotten more than probably you and I combined know."
"Where should we keep it Professor? Here?"
"No Ginny. I suggest Harry's place. The Elves can help to safeguard it. You should go there and rest soon." Several vials appeared on the table next to the pitcher of pumpkin juice. "Revitalizing and strengthening potions. Please take them. Two each if you would be so kind."
Obediently they complied, feeling much better within minutes. As the door opened they could hear Kingsley ask. "So they attacked. Any idea of how many? I won't lie to you I am worried about the conference and security for it."
"What about the old DA? The only one we lost since then is Lavender Brown. Greyback had injected her with some unknown poison and we never could help her" Neville said.
"I have been talking to them. Covertly of course. All except Cho Chang have agreed to help one final time. Of course none know what the assignment is, only it is extremely important. Padma and Parvati Patel suspect what it is and are attending the conference anyway" answered James as they re entered.
"Why isn't Miss Chang interested?" Lily attempted to coolly ask.
"Because she is 'pregnant with her second child and happily married' as she put it to me when I asked her several months ago" replied James. "Her husband is not a Wizard and she has no interest in returning to our World."
"Oh" Lily replied trying not to sound to happy.
"This doesn't give us a lot to work with, but with the people we trust it will have to do. So noon on Saturday then?" wondered Minerva.
"James did you get a feel of how many were out there?" Kingsley again asked. "Neville and Ron each guessed at least 20."
"More like 40" speculated Ginny.
"There were 28 when he began to falter. More and more arrived as we talked. In the end I felt spells coming from over 50. Everything but the 'Avada' curse they were using" James answered.
"As we left I tried to count. I lost track at 40 sets of cold eyes staring at us. And that was in front of me. We could be facing twice that number. And varying degrees of power I sensed too. While not as many as Voldemort had at his height they can cause us more problems than we can handle" Lily concluded.
"Then let us hope they choose to wait until the conference. Otherwise our numbers will be greatly depleted in advance of it attempting to guess where they might strike" Albus told them, remembering back to the Order of the Phoenix and the guessing games played. His failure to monitor Harry's and Neville's parents adequately stayed with him until his own death.
* * *
"Good Morning ladies" announced Mr. Harry James. "How are we all today?" A chorus of grumbling was heard as the sun began to peak over the top of the Quidditch stadium. "Come now it is already 7 o'clock. I have been up for two hours preparing your breakfast just as I did for the last two weeks. Did not Gwenogg tell you how much your practicing has improved?"
"Yes Mr. James but it's so early" Tracy Adkins replied on behalf of the team. "Only Gwenogg and Ginny are happy at getting us up this early to exercise."
"Don't you feel better in the day when you do? I know the days I don't I do not feel well around mid day. It makes me want to sleep which accomplishes nothing" he answered.
"I guess it depends on if you are alone or not" Valmai Morgan responded.
"Touche Miss Morgan. I was referring to sleeping alone" he laughed as he replied. Behind his back he knew Ginny was sticking her tongue out at her team mate. "And now shall we? How many laps around the pitch? 10? 20?"
"Mr. James you know we are lucky to make it once. You and Ginny can run for hours" Catherine replied. "It must have something to do with being in love."
"Perhaps" Ginny said as she slipped off her Harpies sweat suit to reveal her running outfit for today.
"Miss Weasley where are the rest of your clothes?" teased Mr. Harry. Today she had on her skimpiest shorts which barely covered her bum and a tank top.
"What? You said this morning it will be hot today" she said as she smiled back at him pulling her long red hair up to be out of the way.
"Very well then" he told her as he too took the top of his sweat suit off. Normally they both wore their Harpies Official sweat suits (an idea which Mr. Holyhead fully endorsed, believing this was another way to make money selling official clothing). He set his on the table next to Ginny's, unaware of the stares he was receiving in his tight fitting white tank top with the Harpies logo embroidered on the left breast.
"I think we should go" Ginny said pulling him away before the eleven other girls get into a fight over him. This was the first time he did this and she remembered the looks he got the time he met with 'the King' and wore a snug fitting emerald green shirt. She almost got hit with a bludger herself that day. Together they took off running at an easy pace along the long side of the Pitch.
"So we are both in a teasing mood today?" she joked as they ran.
"You started it. Trying to distract me. As long as you are next to me I will be fine. Running behind you might cause me to lose control" he replied.
"And that would be a bad thing?" she asked as they started around the first bend.
"In front of the team certainly. And you know how I feel. This is so good I am afraid I will do something to ruin it. Can we wait a little longer before we ... "
"Yes we can. But not if you keep dressing like that either. The looks the other girls are giving you makes me want you even more. It would be very easy to grab you and apparate right into bed at Stonewood."
"And I suppose we would both be naked when we get there?"
"Not necessarily. For example you could carry me up the stairs and ravage me. Or we might not make it that far, only to the couch. Last night was close wasn't it."
"Boy was it. Had that owl not come I think we would have been having a different conversation right now."
"You mean like 'when can we again? I have to wait how long?' Things like that?"
"No. More like Ginny that was incredible. Why did you make me wait so long" he said as he took off faster.
"Why you ... "she jokingly answered as she sped up to catch him.
Gwenogg Jones smiled as the pair ran past her. She and the rest of the team wanted to improve their performance but those two obviously wanted more. Some of the team, being women, were jealous of the relationship. But all were happy for the both of them. Last month when she received the letter Ginny's Mother had written she felt sorry both for Ginny (who she was sure was embarrassed by it) and 'the King' (who wanted to exploit it). When everyone returned she let Ginny bring it up. Her younger team mates sympathized with her, and the older ones grew concerned her relationship with Mr. Harry was damaged. He surprised them with breakfast that first morning, asking each how their time off went. Saving Ginny for last he apologized for being unable to meet her parents but promised in front of the team that it would happen, then bent her over and kissed her like 'they do in the movies' causing her to cry openly that he was comfortable enough in their relationship to do this. There was nothing else he could have done, not even doubling their salaries, that would have made them love him more.
Seeing Mr. Holyhead at the practice table she stopped to talk. 'Hey I made it once around. Let them go at least one more time'. "Good Morning Mr. Holyhead. Are you here to run with us today? Have you seen the improvement in the team?"
"Yes I have" he lied since he had been there twice since the program began. "I wished to talk about Miss Weasley. How has her practices been with her being gone so much?"
"Good. Better than most. She and Mr. James are here early. He brings us a good breakfast, probably better than what we would have on our own. She and the rest change into the lightweight practice uniforms he got us and we spent 6 to 10 hours either flying or planning."
"And Mr. James? Where is he in this?"
'Well if you were here you idiot then you would know the answer'. "He usually leaves for his club. Sometimes he is here when practice ends and he and Ginny leave together. And a few times he stops and says good bye to her when she goes to see her future sister in law. You remember the letter where you said she can leave don't you?" she now suspiciously asked. "Mr. James said the same thing."
"I do. I am asking because I received a second letter, this time from both her parents. They wish to come to practice and watch her unobserved. Because of their relationship I have not told Mr. James yet. What are your thoughts?"
'Wow he wants to know what I think'. "Practice is always closed. The team knows about the first letter and it upset about it. If you allow this to happen the whole team will be unhappy and we will lose whatever we have gained. Even the new brooms won't help. And that does not factor in Mr. James. If you do this without discussing it not only can he call you out in terms of the money he just might challenge you, and you and I both know what that result would be. No I think telling them practices are closed is your best bet. That will avoid you and the team getting into the middle of a Family matter."
"I thought so too. She is high spirited as is the rest of her Family. Or at least she was. Being with Mr. James has matured her for lack of a better word. No I shall reply I am sorry but that is our policy, and ignore the rest" he answered, leaving the letter on the table as he walked away.
'Accident or on purpose? What should I do? He wants me to read it'.
Dear Mr. Holyhead,
We have made a grievous mistake in the letter we sent you last month. We apologize if this has caused any problems within the Harpies organization.
As you may suspect our daughter took the letter the wrong way, believing we did not think she was capable of asking for herself. Far from it. She has always been very outspoken, not backing off from a challenge. It was a spur of the moment letter which we deeply regret sending creating a rift in our Family as a result.
Thank you for letting her leave for those times she needs to. Being this far from home is difficult for all of us, and with her being the youngest as a parent it has been a greater challenge than raising seven children. I'm sure being a parent you know what we mean.
I understand your policy is not to allow visitors at practices, but we are hoping you can make an exception under the circumstances. Ginny has cut herself off from the Family, with the exception of our Son Ron and his fiance Hermione Granger whose Wedding she will be in. Do you believe their best friend Harry Potter will be in it also? They had a relationship at one time, and our hope one day was for them to be together. Circumstances proved otherwise but only time will tell.
Please inform Mr. James of our request and get back with us at your earliest opportunity.
Arthur and Molly Weasley
"You bastard. To leave this out here to try and break them up. And it's my fault for telling them or not telling them isn't it?" she said as she read the letter again.
"Here Pig" Ginny waved as the tiny owl flew to her as she approached. Harry had continued to finish the final lap while she cut across the Pitch and got the return owl from Hermione. She took a glass of pumpkin juice from the table and began to read.
How are things there? I am glad Mr. James got the idea of the exercises. It should help to clear the mind and focus better. Athletes all over the World use this in their endeavors.
Can you get away tonight? We have some Wedding issues to finalize. Ron got a response about Harry and he wants to tell you. We'll be at our place after three.
Thanks again for all the help and give 'Mr. Harry' a hug for me.
"Another request for help?" Gwenogg asked.
"Yes. Tonight if possible" Ginny answered. She saw Harry slowly walking reading something too and wondered what it was since she didn't see any other owls.
"I think so. 'The King' was here a few minutes ago and asked me how it was going with you leaving to go places. I almost told him if his Ass was here he could tell for himself. Anyway today isn't a problem. Maybe after 4, but we'll see. He also left something accidentally on purpose. Mr. James has it" Gwenogg told her nervously.
Seeing that Ginny went over to Harry. Wordlessly he handed her the letter. She read through it and began to laugh. "So he thinks it will give us problems. What shall we do, pretend to break up? Or kiss passionately in front of him?"
"Like you said before don't give him the satisfaction. Make him wonder seeing no change in us. Are we hiding our emotions or did it not have an impact? Let him wonder about it. Was the owl from Hermione?"
"Yes. Gwen says today is fine. I wanted to meet the French Minister but maybe another time?"
"Later in the week you will in a matter of speaking" he winked.
"Sorry I forgot. Can I come by later?"
"Like you have to ask. Anytime anywhere you know I am there for you."
"Did you say anytime or anywhere?" she whispered as she pressed herself against him.
"One day that will be true" he whispered back. He lightly smacked her bum. "Now back to work before I ravage you right here."
"Now who's teasing?" she replied as she kissed him back.
* * *
Hermione Granger nervously paced the floor in her flat. It was a modest place, furnished with things mainly found in second hand shops of high quality which had seen better days. But Ron's Mother knew quality when she saw it and approved in spite of them not being engaged initially. Little side comments she would make caused them to see each other less and less until their engagement, in which case the owls flew constantly. 'What about this? What about that? When I was young we ... ' Her musing was interrupted by the floo as Ginny came out.
"Hi Sis" Ginny said as she hugged her future sister in law. As close as sisters they were, except for when Harry first left. Each blamed themselves at the time and avoided each other for months, afraid the opposite one was mad at them. Ron eventually got them back together the first Christmas, and together they kept looking outside hoping Harry would return.
"And how is Mr. Harry?" Hermione asked.
"Fantastic! He and I run every morning at the Pitch, or around the streets of Paris if we have the day off. His club is not open real late so he gets up early. He says it gives him energy later in the day."
"And you're not 'wearing him out' so to speak?"
"No" she answered blushing. "To answer your question we are waiting. We haven't been together two months yet. But it seems like forever, and you know how impulsive my Family is."
"Impulsive about what?" Ron asked as he came in with Dinner from the Kitchen.
"Nothing. That smells great Ron and I'm starving. I played through lunch so I could leave early. I can smell rosemary, garlic, ..."
"Mr. James must be a good influence. I hope we can meet him soon. Actually we wanted to talk to you about a few things" he answered.
"I'm hungry too Ron" Hermione said as she sat. "The Wedding is going OK. No major problems. A few minor things we have taken care of, like your Mother asking again about the flowers. Otherwise things are under control.
We wanted to talk to you about something we are involved in. In a couple of weeks a conference will be happening. The first of its kind in centuries. Albus Dumbledore tried decades ago for it but because of Grindewald and then Voldemort he couldn't get it off the ground."
"Ginny it's called the International Wizarding Conference, or IWC. All the Ministers from around the World will be there. Our concern is security. We want the DA to be there, attached to each group. For example Padma and Parvati will be there with the Indian delegation. We need people we can trust. Can you still do your bat bogey spell?"
"Are you volunteering for a demonstration Ron? When is it?" she asked trying not to laugh.
"On July 31st. Harry's Birthday. And that is the other thing. Harry will be there to deliver the keynote speech."
"Hermione is he the one organizing this? I can see him doing this after what happened with Tom."
"No Ginny he isn't. At the Ministry someone else is. A man we only see a couple of times a year. He is the Assistant Head Auror, appointed by Kingsley himself. He's very mysterious."
"Ron that's an understatement. We know virtually nothing about him. He travels the World seeking out the Ministers or their equivalents. His name is James Black and he is a very powerful Wizard. Several days ago they went to Iceland to meet with someone else. He apparated a group of four a thousand miles without even trying."
"And he has an assistant. His girlfriend who might be as strong as he is. We were attacked and he used his shield charm to defend us against at least 50. She transported the five of us back to Hogwarts."
"Wow. This is fascinating. So you want me to help? I have to check with Gwenogg because we have a match the following day against Belgium. She might not allow me to go."
"What about Mr. James? Can't he over rule her?" Ron asked.
"Yes, but he tries not to. He knows she wants the best for the team, and he hasn't mentioned anything to me about a conference so I am guessing he knows nothing about it. I'll ask but no promises. By the way this is great Ron."
"Thanks. James reminds me a lot of Harry. If he was grown up, or maybe his magic had grown with him. He studied with Dumbledore too. I wonder if they ever met?"
Ginny had a hard time keeping from laughing. 'Oh them met all right.'
"Me too. He has a presence around him like Harry did. Or should I say does, since we will be seeing him at the Conference. And the Wedding" Hermione added.
"Ginny one more thing about that. Kingsley told me Harry wants to bring someone. Apparently he has a girlfriend too."
"And Ron you are worried I might kill her. I couldn't be happier for him. Both of us have moved on. Do I regret what happened between us? Absolutely. If he had not left would we be together right now? I can't answer that."
"That was my fault Ginny. Everyone knows that. His letter made it obvious how much he was hurting. It's no wonder the Family hates me."
"Ron no we don't" she said as she and Hermione hugged him. "More than anything we were frustrated. We wanted to help him. To me that was more important than us being together. But at that time in my life I couldn't be with anyone. In five years I went on two dates, and in both cases all they wanted was to see the color of my knickers. Yes a part of me will still love Harry and wonder. But I am in love and happy. I won't give you or him any problems."
"That's what I told Kingsley to tell him. That you are bringing someone too and are very happy. I'm sure he will feel the same. Harry always put everyone ahead of himself. I am glad he found someone to share his life with."
"And Ginny there is one more thing. Mom has been pestering us about how often we see you. And how often you leave practices to be with Mr. James."
"Ron what do you tell her beside to mind her own business? Or to ask me that herself?"
"Ginny that's the problem. You haven't been home since the letter. She feels very bad and wants to apologize."
"Hermione she knows where to find me! Send an owl to the training camp. Pig knows his way here but don't send Errol or I will never get the letter."
"When you left she tried to follow you. She was mad at herself for messing things up. Are you and Mr. James seeing each other?"
"Yes Ron we are. There is a strain between him and 'the King' but we aren't letting us be affected by it. For your information my team was very upset about the letter. Some felt she was treating me like a child and others were worried Mr. James might think I'm too immature. And everyone was mad at 'the King' believing he was trying to start something. But Mr. James met with us the next morning and apologized for not coming to Sunday Dinner and promised one day he would."
"That's just it Ginny. Both our parents, Mom especially, are worried. Panicked almost. Last weekend I heard her asking Fleur how to say some things in French."
"Took her long enough. I bet Fleur feels the same."
"No Ginny she thought it was funny. I overheard Dad tell Bill it's because they want to surprise you at his place, so since you won't come to them they are coming to you."
"Our place is so popular people wait in line for hours. Sometimes they get turned away because it is so busy."
"Can you talk to him? I can see Mom exploding at being told she can't come in."
"Yes but I am only there occasionally. Gwenogg isn't real happy when I leave but our practices are going very well. I am coming early every day whether I leave or not."
"Dedication is important. You're not giving her a reason to say no. And beating Italy last week by a big amount helped too. Maybe Ron and I can come also? We can send a patronus with the day so both of you will know. Is he usually there?"
"Most of the time. He does have Owner's Meetings or ones with other business men occasionally."
"Kveojur Husbondi" means good morning.
"Anaegjulegt ao lokumhitta dig" means a pleasure to meet you.
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