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As Harry muttered the password, the front door of 12 Grimmauld Place swung open. He entered the front hallway and moved into the front parlour where he propped his Firebolt against the wall and dropped his ruck sack behind him. As he did so, the clock in the hall chimed to indicate it was 10 o’clock in the evening. Ah, right on time, he thought. And then as if on cue, he heard Mad-Eye’s roar from the meeting room. “Where is Potter??”

“I’ve arrived Mad-Eye – just setting my things down!” He roared back, leaving his things and going in to the area where everyone had gathered. He nodded to those that were near the front of the room before heading directly over to where Mad-Eye and Remus were standing. “Gentlemen, would you mind if I had a word with the two of you for a moment?” He said in a low tone; and to the right to him, Ariadne blushed a deep pink. She knew Harry must still be annoyed with her being sent to fetch him.

“Hello Harry, could it wait until after we’ve finished this?” Remus said calmly. He knew what Harry was annoyed with. He had warned Mad-Eye this would happen.

“No – it will not wait until we’re done. When we’re done – the group of us leave. I want to discuss it now.” Harry said, his green eyes glinting behind the lenses of his glasses.

Mad-Eye looked from Harry to Remus and then back to Harry and could see from the look on his face that Harry wasn’t budging until they gave in. “Come on then Potter, let’s go into the other room.” Turning he walked away not, knowing the other two would follow.

In the adjacent room, Remus shut the door and placed a silencing charm on the room so the other Aurors couldn’t hear.

As soon as Harry felt the charm fall into place, he turned to Mad-Eye. “How dare you send a rookie off to fetch me!” He shouted, finally letting his annoyance out.

“I wanted to ensure that you got here.” Mad-Eye said simply, which infuriated Harry further. “And now you are. Shall we head back to the meeting?”

“I told you this would annoy him Mad-Eye.” Remus said, turning from Moody towards Harry. “Mad-Eye was just worried that you may be late.”

“There is more to this than my being late.” Harry said as he began pacing the small room. Originally it had been used as a waiting area for the Black’s house-elves. Now – it was a junk room, it contained old charts, parchment and maps that had been used in past missions. Because the deatheaters were such a tight knit group, the DA had strict rules about anything that could be used as evidence not being destroyed. Harry had thought after the war was over, Remus would have ordered this room cleaned. He had been wrong.

“You’re right Potter – it is about more than you being late.” Mad-Eye admitted, causing Harry to stop in mid-stride to stare at him. “Your mind is elsewhere and I need you to be in this 110%”

Harry ran his hands through his wild hair. “When have I ever given less than 110%?” He asked.

“Harry, now I know this is going to sound like we’re coddling you. But we’re worried that your mind is more on Ginny and James than on this mission. It won’t be a safe place for anyone on the team if you are like this.” Remus said, placing a fatherly hand on Harry’s forearm.

Harry looked at both of the wizards in the room with him. Each was a great wizard in his own way. Remus for overcoming his werewolf side and becoming a great scholar, which in turn helped pave the road towards Voldemort defeat and the war’s end. Mad-Eye was the type of auror that let nothing stop him in his quest to bringing down the darkest of the dark wizards. He was surprised at their thoughts. “Remus – of course my mind is on the two of them. They are my family. I can’t deny that. But I thought you both knew me better than that. When I was 18 and fighting the darkest wizard in the history of the wizarding world, I put my friends and family to the back of my brain, even though I knew some were dead, and others seriously injured. But I went on.” He paused for a moment, waiting to see if either would comment. “When the war continued, and I decided to leave everyone behind once more, did I falter? No. I’m surprised you thought you had to interfere with my private life.”

Mad-Eye stayed quiet while Remus sighed heavily. “Harry – I don’t know what to say. We’re just concerned about your safety.”

“Well there’s nothing to be concerned about Remus. Now lift the charm. Let’s get on with this meeting.” Harry said bluntly as he moved towards the door and opened it.


Harry mounted his broom and kicked off of the ground. He deeply inhaled the cool air of the summer as he flew high into the night. His cranky mood dissipated as the breeze ruffled his hair. During the first few of seconds of flight, Harry always experienced a freedom that only he could understand. As the firebolt leveled off, Harry let out a deep sigh and smiled widely. Despite the fact that he was about to fly into a dangerous situation, Harry’s mood was light and the smile on his face reflected the fact.

“Alright folks! It’s time to head off.” Harry shouted as he turned towards the group of witches and wizards assembled behind him on similar firebolts, cleansweeps and nimbuses. “We’re flying straight through until we hit Yekaterinburg. Once we hit the rally point we’ll assemble at the safe house before proceeding to the mountains.” Harry gestured towards a wizard near the far right of the pack. Beckoning him to come closer, he waited for him to arrive. “Yuri – when we arrive I will need you with me and Ariadne. I speak a bit of Russian but as we both know - you’re our expert.”

Yuri Pavelec was a native to the country of Russia and had been in charge of finding death eaters there during the war. He was a quiet wizard that did his job effectively. The two had met when Harry was doing an investigation at Durmstrang and at Harry’s request, Moody and Lupin had recruited him as their agent in Russia. He nodded to Harry and turned on his broom to return to the place in the pack.

“Right then,” Harry said. Looking over the group once more. “Has everyone performed the cloaking charm?” He watched as many of them nodded. Mad-Eye’s auror group had developed a cloaking charm that allowed those in close proximity to see them but from far away the crowd looked like a simple cloud in the sky or a fog on the ground. It was more effective for flying but could work on the ground when crossing large areas like fields or mountains. “All right – let’s move out!” Harry shouted as he turned on his broom and headed East.


As Harry headed towards the Ykaterinburg and the East Urals, Ginny tossed and turned in her bed as she urged herself to sleep. Flipping her pillow over for the fifth time and fluffing up beneath her head, she fell back against it and sighed. Her body had reached the point of exhaustion as her lack of sleep the past few days was finally catching up with her. She closed her eyes and snuggled down into comfort of her down duvet and willed her mind to stop going. But it wouldn’t. If her mind didn’t shut down soon, Ginny was afraid she was going to have to pull out one of her old text books from her History of Magic class. The 8th Goblin War was particularly bad.

Around her, the flat settled itself. And it made it seem too quiet. She sighed again and rolled over onto her side. Looking at the empty spot where Harry had been less than two hours ago made her feel melancholy. She pulled his pillow towards her and hugged it, breathing in his scent. It helped her brain settle slightly and she felt herself relax slightly.

Ginny was falling off the last precipice of consciousness into sleep when there was a light tap on the window. Instantly, her eyes flew open to see Hedwig perched on the sill outside, a letter in her beak.

“Hedwig! What are you doing here? Harry said he wouldn’t be able to write while he was gone. Oh I hope there’s nothing wrong.” Ginny exclaimed as she threw back the covers and rushed to the window to let the snowy owl in.

Hedwig hopped through the window and held her beak out for Ginny to take the letter. Ginny removed the envelope from her beak and stroked the soft feathers on the owl’s breast. “Thank you Hedwig.” She clicked her beak at Ginny and flew to the top of the wardrobe and tucking her head beneath her wing, Hedwig became still.

Ginny smiled at the owl and walked back over to the bed to turn on the light on the night table. As the soft light flooded the room she read her name scrawled across the front of the envelope in Harry’s distinct handwriting. She smiled as she ran her fingers over her name and turning it over, she pulled the seal away from the edge of the flap to open the envelope.

Pulling out of the piece of parchment that was inside, Ginny sat back against her pillows to read.


I’m sure you’re surprised by Hedwig’s arrival; considering I’ve just left you and James not that long ago. I just wanted to send you this note so that you know the two of you are in my thoughts while I’m gone. I love you and I can’t wait to be home with you so we can start our life. And Gin – would you mind taking care of Hedwig while I’m away? Mad-Eye won’t allow her to come along – he thinks she’s too recognizable. She may be a bit miffed that she’s been left behind, make sure you explain to her why I’ve had to leave her behind.

I love you Ginny. See you soon.

Ginny felt a fat tear roll down her cheek as she finished re-reading the letter. She looked up at Hedwig and smiled. “Figures.” She said, watching the snowy owl sleep. “He waits until he’s gone to ask me to keep you here. When I have no chance to say no.”

Ginny yawned as she set the letter on the table next to the bed. Pulling the covers over her, she was about to turn off the light when she caught a movement coming from the doorway. Looking over, she saw James standing in the door frame in his blue-footie pyjamas, his stuffed snitch in his arms.

“James, why are you out of bed?” Ginny asked, patting the bed beside her. James came into the room and climbed onto the bed with his mother. Taking him in her arms, she pulled him under the covers with her.

“I woke up and I was sad.” James looked at her and snuggled closer to her. “I miss Daddy.” He said quietly, his fingers wrapping around the loose fabric of Ginny’s nightshirt and rubbing it between his forefinger and thumb.

“Oh sweetie. I miss him too. But look –“ She said, pointing to the spot where Hedwig slept on the wardrobe. “That’s Daddy’s owl, Hedwig. He just sent me a letter to tell me he missed us and loved us lots. And while he’s gone, we’ve got to take care of her for him.”

“She’s pretty Mummy.” James said, yawning as he admired the sleeping Hedwig. “Can I sleep in with you tonight? I promise not to kick you.”

Ginny chuckled and gave him a hug. “Of course you can sleep in here Quidditch-Bug, even if you kick me in your sleep.” Kissing the top of his head, she reached over to shut off the light. She lay down beside her son and smiled in the dark as he cuddled up beside her.

“’Night Mummy.” James said sleepily, quickly falling back to sleep as Ginny rubbed his back, like she had done when he was being a fussy baby.

“Night Quidditch-Bug.” Ginny replied, closing her eyes and letting her mind shut down, she drifted off the sleep.

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