Sage opened the letter and the group read:
He needs her. Alive.
He wants to make her his.
"Yeah, right," Sorka said angrily, and a bit contemptuously, breaking the strained silence that had settled on the room. "Well, he’ll have to do with what I want. And there’s no way I’m going to be his." She looked at them in turn. "Am I the only one who feels like walking on the beach?"
"Do you remember that summer, when we played in the waves?" Ginny added, knowing her friend didn’t want to talk further about the note and what it could possibly mean.
"The water is cold, you know," Sorka warned her.
"If people can swim in the Atlantic Ocean in November, I can put my feet in the Mediterranean Sea! I don’t have a bath-suit anyway, so I won’t get all wet."
"Yeah, like it stopped you, last time…"
Harry’s eyes widen and he looked to his wife. "You told her?"
"That you had none either?" Sage observed wrily, playing along too. He had meant every word of his message. Dark Bozo wouldn’t touch the woman he loved.
Harry turned to Sorka. "And you told him?" His tone was both baffled and accusatory.
They left the house laughing, forgetting – if just for an hour – that they still had a lot to do to make the world a safer place. Sage took them to a little creek, and when Sorka saw it, she had to muffle a giggle with her free hand. Sage squeezed the other and whispered, "They don’t need to know." There was an impish glint in his eyes, the same as in hers.
"At least we waited for the night."
"That was the second time."
They were ankle deep in the gentle waves when Sorka noticed Sage’s absence. He sat in the sand. She went to him, and when he looked up, she could tell he was not fully satisfied with the outcome of his conversation with his childhood friend.
"You did your best, love," she assured him, kneeling beside him.
"I know, but it doesn't make it easier."
But Sorka could hear clearly that he thought that sometimes it wasn’t enough. She ran the fingers of one hand through his hair, and Sage wrapped his arms around her. Her other hand stroked the nape of his neck.
"You’ve tried to make him see that he better stay away from the dark arts for years, but he’s always been attracted to their false promises. And he really is in deeper in this timeline than in the other. You knew that, you knew he wouldn’t have the guts to spy for us, and yet you had to try. You gave him one last chance…"
"But he had to turn it down and side with the man who wants to get his filthy paws on you," Sage growled. Their eyes met and locked. "He made the wrong choice one time too many and I might have to kill him for that."
"Let’s hope you won’t." Sorka took a deep breath and added. "I’m so sorry, honey."
Sage stood up without letting go of her, pulling her with him. "About what?"
"I don’t know… about you and Jalen being enemies now, I guess."
"I hope you’re not implying we are because I fell in love with you."
"No, of course not! You chose a path, and he chose another." She sighed and added, in a lower voice. "I just don’t want you to think that you failed him somehow."
He shook his head. "No, life taught me that people have to take responsibility for their choices and their actions." He cupped the side of her face in his right hand. "Actually, I’m not worried about Jalen."
"Then, wh…?" He looked at her pointedly, and she nodded slowly."Me." She sighed and added, "Don’t. He won’t have me."
"No, he won’t."
Sorka’s heart missed a beat at his tone and her gaze caught his. "Please, Sage, promise me that you will not…"
Having heard her breathing quickened slightly, he kissed her and whispered against her lips, "You know I can’t promise you that."
Fear – for him, not for herself – clawing at her heart, she gave him an almost desperate kiss. He did his best to soothe her.
"Nothing will happen to either of us."
"Can you promise me that?"
Sorka leaned her head against her fiance’s shoulder. "I love you."
"Why are you so afraid for me when you should be afraid for you?" Sage asked her softly, before sighing and moving her head aside for another kiss.
She shrugged lightly, unable to answer.
"She’s a Gryffindor," Ginny offered. Sage and Sorka both jumped as if they forgot they were not alone.
"Damn it!" Sage huffed and looked to Sorka, "Is she channeling Rowena?"
She tried to suppress a smile before remarking, "If I were alone, I wouldn’t feel brave or anything. I’d be terrified."
"But you’re not, and there’s probably something we can do…"
"Yes, we can, all of us together," Harry assured them. "We have to stop that guy – for you, Sorka, and for the whole wizarding world. I swore to myself that as long as I would live, there wouldn’t be another Voldemort. The Ministry chose to ignore Tom Riddle because it was so much easier, and he could strengthen his dark powers. I chose to become an Auror to make a difference. I don’t want another kid to be born with a prophecy saying he will have to defeat some madman no one had the courage to stop before it was too late and he was all powerful."
Sage nodded his head in approval. "Now I remember why we saved you," he half-joked.
"Well, I’m glad you thought there was a reason to," the Auror said in the same tone.
"Sometimes I’m still impressed," Ginny confided. There was love and respect in her voice.
Sorka didn’t say a word. She was relieved they wouldn’t have to face that new threat alone.
Ginny and Harry went back home, and Sorka and Sage apparated to Quill Alley. The shop itself was unused but clean. The apartment above was well furnished. One look at it and Sorka said, shaking her head in amazement, "You know, even if I wouldn’t have remembered this place was ours, I would have known just by taking one look at it."
Sage had to admit it was true. There were undeniable proofs of he and Sorka being together in the cottage, but here, it was obvious every single furniture, every item, every color, had been chosen by the two of them together. And it felt like home. "I wonder how your friends could miss it each time they came here."
Sorka didn’t answer immediately. Then a slow smile lightened up her face. "Do you remember my suite at Hogwarts?"
"Well, yeah…" But Sage let his voice trailed off and frowned. "It was… No, it wasn’t, was it?"
Sorka shook her head. "Not that I payed that much attention to my surrounding that night when we came back from our little trip," she let out a little laugh and flushed slightly. "But now that I think about it, it was different from the one I left a few hours before. I guess that I’m so used to living in our things that, well…"
"You chose stuff for yourself that we would have chosen for us." Then Sage laughed too. "It’s a good thing we went to your room.If we would have gone to mine, the run in with Harry and Ginny would have been a bit more.... interesting!"
Her lips formed a silent "O", then she giggled.
"Well, let’s explore our home sweet home…"
It wasn’t a big apartment – a living room, two bedrooms, a study and a kitchen – but as Sorka remarked, as they stopped to look out a window onto Diagon Alley, it was big enough. Sorka smiled bitterly at the thoughts she was picking up from her present timeline. "Every room was filled with the echoes of your voice, with your smell. Each time you were far from me, I missed you so much at times that either I felt like shutting myself inside with the memories of us or I just couldn’t bear to stay within those walls." She didn’t want to sound like an emotional woman, but she felt that she had to be honest about that – something she might not have allowed herself to be before.
"We didn’t choose the easiest path," Sage admitted, coming closer and putting his arms around her from behind to hold her close.
She leaned her head back on his shoulder. "No, we didn’t. But I’m not complaining or anything. Before I met you, my life was so… empty compared to ‘hers’. In this timeline, we’ve had each other, and our perfect love, for years already."
"Perfect?" he snorted. "I remember some heated arguments…"
"That’s part of the perfection, love!" Sorka assured him very seriously. "How boring would it be if we always agreed with each other?"
"Very." He chuckled. "All the more so that each time we have a row it gives us the opportunity to… um… make our peace."
His breath was warm against her ear, making her shiver. "Oh, so you would argue with me just…"
"I’d do anything as long as I know we’re going to end up with our limbs entwined and our naked bodies very, very close to each other."
"Anything, really?" Sorka smirked.
"Which reminds me… I do need your help to remember what we did in this room." Sage indicated their bedroom with a nod of his head.
"Of course, you know I’d do anything to help you." She squealed, surprised, when he picked her up in his arms, then she laughed.
Sage pulled his robes over his head and threw them onto a nearby chair. She mirrored his actions, then slowly and seductively ran her hands to the top of his button down shirt and deftly ripped the buttons open with one quick motion. They laughed and smiled as they undressed each other amid the current of kisses and nibbles and even a few bites on the napes of their necks. Once they were both completely naked they fell into the bed and with a bit of effort managed to cover themselves as they connected.
Sorka watched as her love drifted to sleep and she played with his hair as she thought over the last moments. She loved the way he made her feel... both in bed and out of it. She sighed in pleasure as her eyes closed calmly.
There were people surrounding… something… and Sorka had a feeling of déjà vu. She ran towards them, but her progress was so slow she could have been hit by an impediment jinx. When she finally reached them, they parted before her. She looked down; Spartan’s lifeless eyes were open on the night sky. Swallowing hard, she let her gaze trailed down his chest and gasped when she saw the terrible wound that had cost him his life. He had almost been cut in half. Tasting bile, she looked back towards his face. But it wasn’t Spartan’s face anymore. It was Sage’s…
"Wake up, love…" Sage was trying to wake her up gently and let out a breath he didn’t remember holding when Sorka finally opened her eyes. She shot upright, gasping for air. Then she burst into tears, trembling uncontrollably. "Hush," he whispered, pulling her to him and rubbing her skin – she was so cold. "It was just a bad dream."
Whimpering, she clung to him and sobbed into his chest. He was right, of course, but what if…
"Look at me." Still holding her with one arm, Sage put the fingers of his free hands under her chin to lift her face so he could look into her eyes. "Tell me."
Breathing hard, she shook her head. "I… I can’t…"
"Why can’t you? You don’t remember…?"
"I do! But it was just a nightmare, you said so yourself."
"Then you can tell me."
Sorka did, and made a silent promise to herself.
"Oy! You there, Sage?" Ron’s voice called from the shop.
Sage, who had tensed, immediately relaxed and called, "Upstairs!" Then he turned to the wall again, frowning slightly, and kept on taking the measurements of the room with his wands until he heard footsteps behind him. "Do come in, please," he told Ron and Harry sarcastically.
"If you don’t want people to come in, then close the door," Harry answered in the same tone.
Ron snorted. "He’s right, you know."
Sage ran his hand over his neck. "Yeah, well, Sorka and I left in a hurry and when I came back, I…" He let his voice trailed off, then cleared his throat. He knew what the love of his life would say if she knew he had left the shop opened, especially after the nightmare she had during the night. He loved her for her strength, but also for that vulnerable side of her. She wasn’t the kind of girls who was easily scared though, so something must be nagging at her mind at some level. Of course, like him, she knew that some Death Eaters and other dark wizards might not take his ‘desertion’ lightly. But it was too late to remedy the situation now – and anyway they couldn’t live their whole life like they had been for almost eight years!
"How are you doing?" he asked Ron.
"Yeah, he is now that Hermione let go of him," Harry sniggered. "She was worse than any mediwizard!"
"What have you been doing?" Ron asked Sage, obviously wanting to change the subject. He looked at the numbers written on the walls – they were already fading.
"Don’t tell me you need more space… She’s not pregnant, right?"
"What? No, she’s not," Sage shook his head. "And there’s already a second bedroom. No, I'm just checking out my defenses and getting used to this flat again. I've found a couple of surprises like this... " Sage ran his wand across the wall and quickly hit the ground as two saws emerged from the wall spinning and begging to cut anyone into three parts. As the saws sunk back into the wall he looked over to Harry and Ron and said, "That's just not right!"
"It’s a wizarding house, so of course nothing’s right," Harry observed. "What’s wrong exactly?"
It was Sage’s turn to change the subject. "So I take it that Hermione was happy to have you back?"
Ron blushed, then said: "She was there when Harry told me what happened… Blimey, I can’t believe you entered the Great Hall at Hogwarts, mate! That was just crazy."
Sage turned to Harry. "You didn’t tell him?"
The raven-haired Auror shrugged and gave a dark look at his best friend. "Hermione was there… and he didn’t tell me about you being a spy and reporting to him ."
"Hey, it’s not the same… right?" Ron asked, because he had no idea of what they were talking about.
"Not the same? I’m just your best friend, after all!" Harry said in a tone dripping with sarcasm. "Serves you right to have been in a coma for months – it wouldn’t have happened if I had known Sage was on our side!"
Sage couldn’t help but think he was right. He sighed and told Ron what he and Sorka had done.
The redhead had to sit down. "And you remember everything you did before the time change?"
"But not everything the other… I did in this timeline. I have more or less access to those memories, but like any memories, I have to be specific to call them to mind. It's like I see a stream of thoughts rushing past me at times, and if I concentrate enough I can muddle out specific incidents. Then there are other times little things bring a memory that floors me like the Knight Bus." He shrugged, then inquired. "What are you two doing here, by the way?"
"We were just curious," Harry answered, looking around.
"Yeah, right, like you’ve never been here before." Sage’s eyes narrowed suspiciously.
"We’re here to duel, like we used to do before that git…" The Auror indicated Ron with his thumb. "… asked you to spy on some dark nutter for him. You’re up to it?"
He raised a black eyebrow questioningly.
Sage nodded. "Sure. So, each one for themselves…?"
"Actually, we thought it would be the two of us against you. You’ve got two wands, after all," Ron interrupted him.
"How is that fair? You are trained Aurors!"
"What? Afraid of us? You’re not going to chicken out of this, are you?"
"And I am a trained Auror, but Ron is not even half of one now."
"Hey! I resent that!"
"Alright!" Sage said, unable to resist the challenge. "As long as you don’t try to cut me in half again, Harry," he added. Then he remembered Sorka’s dream and didn’t find that so funny anymore.
"No worries, mate. Harry wouldn't want to deal with Sorka if he did that again," Ron laughed. "She would hex him to oblivion, conjure him back, and hex him again…Being with the three most powerful witches of our generation can be a curse."
Sage was always amazed at how much Ron could be dead right when he tried to joke about serious matters. Except Sorka wouldn’t be mad… he shook his head to dispel that thought. "And you said I was afraid?" he snickered. "Are we going to spend all day talking? I thought you were here to duel!"
They left the apartment and headed towards the backroom of the shop. It was empty, with the exception of a few shelves against the walls, but unlike most rooms, it’s size was what you wanted it to be.
Sage waved his wands and they found themselves in a narrow street. They were shops on both sides.
"Not bad," Harry remarked appreciative. "You must have created this for one of your classes?"
"Yeah." Except there had only been one student… "It always creates a different setting. Are you guys ready?"
Sage darted towards a doorway, simultaneously casting Disarming Spells towards Ron and Harry. At the same time, the first cried, "Tarantallegra!", and the latter, "Levicorpus!" But they were a fraction of a second too late. Their spells hit the stone.
Harry dived in an alley and Ron was very glad he was still very thin when he had to hide behind a gnarled tree guarding the door of an apothecary.
Sage knew that Harry was probably right, so if he could get rid of Ron first… His thoughts were interrupted by a Binding Curse, and he quickly erected a shield. His friends battered it during a few minutes. He riposted. However it was obvious that none of them was exposing himself. And if none of them did, they would still be hurling spells at him and he at them when the night would fall.
Taking a deep breath, Sage made himself a moving target, rolled on the paved street, hearing an hex hit where he had been a second before, jumped to his feet and find the right angle. "Impedimenta!" Ron had not seen it coming. As he was trying to leave his cover to go after the tall ex-spy, he fell face first. "Incarcerous!" Sage added, for good measure, and ropes bound the redhead.
"Sectumsempra!" Harry bellowed, before adding, "Levicorpus."
Sage felt a cut open on his forehead and found himself dangling upside-down. Quickly pointing a wand at himself and thinking, Liberacorpus, he cast a Cutting Spell, hitting the raven-haired Auror at the right forearm, immediately followed by a Jelly-Fingers Jinx. Harry dropped his wand. "Petrificus T…" Sage began, and never finished.
A bolt of greenish magical energy crackled between he and his friend. Always quick on his feet, Sage erected a shield as big as possible and thought the counter-spells to free his friends; Ron and Harry joined him. "Protego!" they said in unisson.
"What was that?" Ron asked as they were taking cover in an alley.
At the same instant, a masked figure appeared… than another… and another. They were deploying themselves to fire at them.
"The rules have just changed, guys," Sage said in a taut voice, before bellowing, at the same time as Harry, "Reducto!"
"Yep, we’re going to practice all our nasty spells," Harry continued.
"And our loves will be very happy we did," Ron finished. "Sectumsempra!"
Sage had counted at least six masked enemies and guessed there were more lurking in the shadows. He toyed with the idea of making the street disappear, but if they found themselves face to face with twenty dark wizards, they were dead. So even if it gave their enemies the same advantage, they needed the covers the street could provide them.
He caught Harry’s eyes and indicated a doorway. His friend took a quick peek around and nodded his head. Sage then turned to Ron. "Stay right here."
"Where you going?"
Sage looked up and indicated the ledge running along the building with a nod of his head.
"No way," Ron answered.
"One of us must get to… uh… upper ground. And there’s an open window at four feet from the corner. " Sage turned to Harry again. "Ok, you go first. We cover your move. Then you and Ron make sure they are too busy to notice what I’m doing."
As Sage and Ron were sending curses and jinxes towards the Death Eaters, Harry dived, rolled on himself, jumped to his feet and ran towards the doorway. Then he joined Ron in the spell casting while Sage climbed up a drainpipe and sidled along the ledge to the window. Like he had told Ron, it was opened. As soon as he was there, he saw a dark wizard fall, hit by a Cutting Spell. Smirking, he thought, Everte Statum!, pointing his wand in two directions and was rewarded by two thuds, as many Death Eaters having crashed into walls. Then Sage threw a knife that stuck into the shoulder of a third, envelopping him into the ‘loving’ embrace of a Devil’s Snare. They got rid of three more enemies, but there were still spells shooting their way, even if they tried to injure them so they would remain out of it for good. As two more fell, victims of their crossfire, the dark wizards started to beat a retreat.
Breathing hard, Sage focused on Sorka’s ring… and what he sensed made him jump out of the window. He hit the street and pointed his wand at a fleeing Death Eater, "Reducto!"
The man fell, but as if he had read Sage’s mind, another stunned him and they both disappeared.
"Are you mad?" Harry angrily asked Sage. "Only Aurors are allowed to use that spell on a retreating enemy!"
Sage turned to him. "If you want to put me under arrest, you’ll have to do it after we save our wives."
Harry grimaced at what happened. As he turned on the spot he had hoped they would have at least one dark wizard to question…
"Where is Sage?" Ginny asked.
Sorka remembered her first reaction had been to protest when Sage had declared that he would go to Hogwarts with her every morning and pick her up at the end of every school day. But she had looked into his eyes, closed her mouth again and nodded her head. "I don’t know," she frowned.
"He’s just late," Hermione said in an accusatory tone, as though he had done so to thwart her.
Ginny rolled her eyes and exchanged a look with her best friend – they both knew that though she said she had come to Hogwarts to talk to Sorka, Hermione was there to see Sage.
As Sorka was telling herself that Sage would never be late unless something – or someone – was detaining him, six hooded figures appeared out of thin air and fanned out to surround them.
"Damn," she muttered, moving so fast her wands seemed to magically appear in her hands. "Protego!"
Ginny and Hermione cast the same spell, the three of them quickly forming a triangle facing out three directions. It was a defensive formation. They had not done this since the Second War and the Final Battle, but they did so smoothly.
Thinking they wouldn’t stand a chance against them, their enemies were taking their time. "We’re here for one of you. The other two can go," one of the Death Eaters drawled. He seemed to look straight at Sorka, who was the tallest of the three, through the slits of his mask.
"Yeah, right," Hermione muttered.
"You can never believe a dark wizard," Ginny acquieced. "They are born liars."
"Ginny, promise me that if I’m caught, you won’t let Sage run to the rescue." Though Sorka’s face was blank, her tone was pleading.
"How do you want me to do that?" her best friend gasped, but without betraying any emotion either.
"Do whatever you have to, but don’t let him get himself killed, please."
They want me alive, but he’s of no use to them.
"Can I face the dark lord wannabe instead?" Then Ginny sighed. "I can only promise you that he won’t do it alone."
"For the time being, you’re still here with us, Sorka," Hermione cut them.
Their enemies didn’t miss their conversation, even if they couldn’t hear what they were saying. "Sorka Dumbledore, our master wants to… introduce himself to you," the leader continued. Hearing the slight pause, at least three of the others snorted.
"What if I don’t want to meet him?" Sorka riposted.
"I don’t see how you have a choice," another of the lackeys growled. "You will bow before the dark lord!"
"You still have to come and catch me first… if you can," she told them. "And for your information, you should know that I bow to no man."
"Remember, our master wants her alive!" the leader reminded his men.
As all hell was breaking loose, Sorka thought about Sage and sensed he was fighting alonside Harry and Ron. Damn, those Death Eaters were better organized than they had given them credit for!
Their shields battered from all sides, Sorka, Ginny and Hermione started casting spells at their attackers. A chorus of "Petrificus Totalus!", "Incarcerous!" and "Impedimenta!" came from their formation and could be heard despite the cracklings of a few curses.
"Locomotor mortis!" Sorka cried, then she told her friends. "We’re in this alone. There are Death Eaters at the shop too."
They didn’t ask her how she could know that. If they cleared the way to the gates, they would be able to fight with their backs to them. They needed to use nastier spells… and tricks, so their opponents wouldn’t recover so quickly. As soon as the thought crossed her mind, Sorka tucked her left wand in her back pocket, took out a knife and threw. Her aim had never been so true. It flew through the Death Eater’s shield and struck the man in the shoulder. The blade glowed blue, and her victim fell backward. Of course, it wouldn’t kill him. But his friends would have to find the counter-curse to revive him. She conjured the weapon, making sure to twist it before yanking it from the flesh.
Taking their cue from her, Ginny and Hermione fought more viciously too.
"Sectumsempra!" Sorka bellowed.
At almost the same time, a male voice cried the same curse, that hit one of the Death Eaters in the stomach. Sorka’s had struck another in his wand arm. She was surprised when she recognize their unexpected ally – Blaise Zabini.
He caught her eyes and smiled at her.
"He doesn’t take ‘no’ for an answer, does he?" Hermione snarled, looking briefly at their old fellow classmate.
"What do you mean?" Sorka asked, glad for the diversion, because she couldn’t bring herself to smile back to the young man. Not because he was a Slytherin – there was something in his eyes that gave her the creeps. His aura felt like slimy grime.
Hermione didn’t answer, because at that very moment, her shield went down under two simultaneous hexes. Weakened, their formation broke, and Ginny and Hermione found themselves battling back to back. Sorka was left with Blaise, who had finally closed the distance between he and them. And all her instincts started screaming that she was fighting with an enemy at her back. But she didn’t have much choice.
"You haven’t responded to my owl," Blaise said casually between two spells.
"Your owl?" Blaise Zabini had sent her an owl? When? Why?
"Oh, please, Sorka, we’re not kids anymore, and the enmity between the Gryffindors and the Slytherins is in the past now," he told her. "I’ve always fancied you, even back then. And if you would try to get to know me better…"
Sorka was so shocked that, if she had not been so well trained by Sage, she would have forgotten to keep her shield up. But she kept it up, of course, relying on instinct. And she started to use her two wands like she never had done before.
Sage, Harry and Ron apparated close to the castle gates… and to the battle. They immediately entered the fray. While Ron and Harry went to their wives, Sage made his way to Sorka. He didn’t know the man who was with her, but he could tell she didn’t trust him. It wasn’t jealousy – no, he just knew her and her body was telling him something was wrong. However, he’d never seen her fight like she was fighting, her wands weaving a defensive and an offensive magic around her. It was exactly what he knew she would be able to do, one day. But they had not practiced enough for her to achieve that kind of control. Then he realized she no longer had only weeks of training, but probably years. Of course, in a situation like theirs, he would have done his best so she would be very capable of taking care of herself.
"There’s a party and no one told me?" he joked when he reached her position.
"You didn’t invite me to yours either," she shot back in the same tone, without a pause in her spellcasting.
Focusing for a second on her ring, Sage knew his fiance was relieved to see him. Well, he would clear this up later, when they wouldn’t be in the middle of a fight.
Fortunately, they outnumbered the dark wizards, now. A few minutes later, they had all disapparated – presumably to report to their master.
As soon as the last was gone, Sorka jumped into Sage's arms and wrapped her legs around his waist. She kissed him deeply, and he kissed her back, his arms holding her tight. Part of her brain registered Hermione saying: "Oh, please, Ron, you’re covered in sweat!"
"No more than Sage, and Sorka doesn’t seem to mind!"
"Yeah, well, she should. And she will, trust me, after having been with him for eight years."
Sorka couldn’t help but laugh, immediately joined by Sage, Ginny and Harry. Then she pointed her wand at her love sweaty and bloody forehead and said, "Episkey." The cut healed instantly. "I hope you got the one who did that to you."
"He did," Harry muttered, showing his forearm.
Sorka and Ginny looked at them in turn. Sorka let out a growl, "You two weren't dueling were you?"
Sage smiled sheepishly and said, "Not us two... us three... well, yeah."
Hermione slapped Ron across the chest and admonished, "You've only been out of the hospital for a few days and the medi wizard told you to take it easy!"
Ron turned sharply to Sage and cut at him, "Thanks for dragging me into this!"
"You look like grown-up men, but you’re just kids, I swear," Ginny humphed.
Clearing his throat, Sage turned to the black man who had fought back to back with his fiance, but he was gone. "Who…?"
"His name is Blaise Zabini," Hermione answered, narrowing her eyes. "Have you never met him?"
"Hermione thinks he’s one of them," Ginny whispered loudly enough.
The brunette gave her an impatient look. "All of those presumably pure blood wizards, so full of pride and prejudices, end up grovelling at the feet of the biggest bully among them one day," she stated.
"Honey, you know they aren’t all that bad," Ron intervened.
"You’re an Auror. I’m sure you know better. Tell me, has one of them never been either convicted or suspected of consorting with some dark lord wannabe?"
Neither Harry nor Ginny were paying attention to them. Obviously, it was one of Ron and Hermione's favorite arguments. And actually it rang some distant bell in Sorka’s mind…
"Death Eaters striking so close to Hogwarts, I don’t like that," Harry mused.
"They were here for Sorka," Hermione observed, turning to the redhead. Then she arched her eyebrows and added. "Maybe your fiance pissed off their master?"
"Maybe I did," Sage answered through gritted teeth.
"You know as well as I do that he already wanted me before!" Sorka protested.
"I watched you fight," Harry told her, before turning to Sage. "You made sure she could protect herself, right?" When Sage nodded, he added, "Could you and Sorka train Ginny?" He looked at his wife. "I know you’re a fine dueller, love, and I don’t want you to fight, but if you have to, I want you to be ready."
Ron ignored Hermione's half hearted disgust and wrapped his arm around his soul mate. "I think we all could use a bit of practice."
Authors' Note: There was more action in this chapter - we hope you enjoyed it. Really, what did you think of those scenes? And of Blaise's sudden arrival?
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