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Ginny observed the seven green and silver blurs over the Quidditch pitch through narrowed eyes. They had just entered the stadium and taken right to the air.

“It’s so unfair!” Jimmy Peakes voiced her exact thoughts, while drumming his fingers angrily against his thigh.

“You can say that again!” Demelza Robins chimed in, though her eyes swept over the vicinity to ascertain who might hear. They were leaning against the bare woodwork of the grandstands, the absence of colourful banners and decorations allowing them a good view of the Slytherins high above them.

“It’s all turning into a right travesty.” Ginny sounded bitter. “Imagine that: having the Muggle Studies teacher approve Quidditch teams!”

“That’s why Gryffindor’s long out of the running. As is Ravenclaw. Didn’t you hear? They forfeited the Ravenclaw/Slytherin match in February, since they can’t find a decent Seeker. Cho’s no longer here, and the possible reserve Seekers, like Turpin, were never allowed back for this year.” Ginny’s friend Vanessa, a slim brown-haired girl spoke up.

“That’s convenient. I wonder who’ll possibly win the Cup this year?” Jimmy interjected sarcastically.

“It really is a shame. Half of our team missing …,” Demelza muttered. “Of course, there’s our two Undesireables … Dean would have made the team this year for sure since Bell graduated last year, but he’s Muggle-Born. Same as Coote.”

“Doesn’t matter either way. The way Seamus – most of us, really – have taken to mouthing off towards the Carrows, we’d all be suspended anyway,” Ginny inserted, her blood starting to boil at the thought of the ban that had been issued over the whole house when point deductions had proven fruitless.

“I still say we should have tried to talk to McGonagall …” Peakes objected hotly, but was silenced by his classmates’ flashing eyes.

“And then what? I hate that they’ve taken Quidditch from us just as much as you do. But there’s more at stake; and we can’t put her into that position. You heard Neville. We’ll need her before this is over, Jimmy.” Ginny was loath to admit it, but Neville had been right. He so often was those days, and she was sure she’d have acted on her temper countless times this year – and would’ve found herself knee-deep in trouble – if it hadn’t been for his talking sense into her.

Jimmy huffed angrily, but said no more.

Vanessa put her hand on his elbow calmingly. “It’s not just Hogwarts Quidditch. The League’s been suspended too.”

“Is this supposed to make me feel better?” he exploded.

“It isn’t,” Demelza defended the other girl. “She just stated a fact. But really, I’m just waiting for the day the Death Eaters get fed up themselves. I mean, people like the Malfoys seemed pretty into it it, didn’t they?”

The group of Gryffindors automatically lifted their eyes to the lone player who circled above everyone else, a sliver of light hair distinguishing him from his team mates.

“He’s losing his touch. He moves that much, he’ll never spot the Snitch,” Ginny commented snidely.

“Don’t know why Snape didn’t take his captain’s badge. It’s not like Crabbe and Goyle listen all that much to him anymore.” The two beaters were beating the Bludgers around, aiming for sheer force as they practically hovered in one place.

“Must be hard,” Jimmy said mockingly. “His cronies growing a mind of their own. Mind you, I liked it better when he had full control of them. Less random.” He rubbed his hip where Crabbe had got him with a nasty stinging hex.

“Mind of their own? Taste for cruelty and a like-minded teacher is more like it. Carrow probably puts them up to it.” Ginny took a deep breath, suggesting they return to the Common Room. She’d tortured herself enough, watching the Slytherin team practice when she couldn’t.

“There’s now a bigger bully on the playground,” Demelza agreed solemnly.

“Shouldn’t the others be finished too, if Malfoy and cronies are out of class?” Vanessa asked, sounding slightly worried as she fell in step with Ginny.

The Gryffindor seventh years had trouped off to one of the dreaded Dark Arts lessons after lunch. Ginny hated those Wednesday afternoons, because since she had a free period, it left a lot of time to worry.

“Hey, isn’t that Sally-Anne?” Demelza pointed to a small mousy-haired girl in red-lined robes who was practically hurtling out of the entrance doors and came towards the group when she saw them.

“But … where are the others?” Ginny could immediately tell that something was wrong.

“Carrow is making the others stay back. I don’t know what to do” She was practically crying.

Taking charge, Ginny stepped closer and steadied the girl with both hands. Although she must be at least a year younger and had inherited the short Weasley genes, she was an inch taller than the other girl. “Breathe. What’s wrong?”

“Carrow … he was picking on me. Said I didn’t have proper magic in me, that I’m weak, and didn’t deserve to be called a pure-blood. I-I thought if I just stayed quiet … he had to let up at some point, didn’t he? But he never d-did.” She lifted huge, upset eyes to Ginny’s.

“This wasn’t the first time, was it?” Ginny realised, a rush of disgust rocketing through her stomach.

Sally-Anne shook her head, words tumbling out of her mouth. “Neville – he – he moved in front of me, and said that – that Carrow was a pathetic excuse for a human being and to stop picking on children. Of course Seamus backed him up immediately. Everyone started shouting and swearing. Neville said I was doing magnificent for someone who had been ill for as long as I was. I-I didn’t know he knew.” Vanessa enveloped her in a hug then, and Ginny needn’t ask the question when Sally-Anne continued, “I fell ill after third year, and Mum wanted to keep me home. This year, that wasn’t an option.”

“He kept everyone?” Jimmy drew the attention back to the original problem.

Sally-Anne nodded, still pale as a ghost. “Yes. He said-he … he said since everyone was so quick to jump to my defence, they should be prepared to bear the consequences. Then he sent me to go. He sounded so gleeful.”

“That vile little …” Ginny didn’t finish, and she had to pry her hands away from Sally-Anne’s shoulders when she saw the flash of pain she must have caused as she tightened her grip. The now familiar ball of fury was gathering in her stomach. Blinking, she saw Demelza blocking Jimmy with all her body weight, and Vanessa who was trying to get her attention while still holding a trembling Sally-Anne.

“We should let the others houses know,” Vanessa suggested, her voice sounding tight but otherwise emotionless.

Ginny suspected it was to not fuel her anger anymore and do something stupid. Jimmy’s anger and Vanessa’s forced calm made her clamp down on her own emotions. Harry would jump right in, Hermione would have a plan, Luna would present a startlingly brilliant aspect no one else thought of, and Neville would get them to calm down. What could she do? She couldn’t do it alone. “Jimmy, you come with me. Demi, Van, tell the Claw and Puff’s sixth year prefects. Without attracting attention.”

“What can I do?” Sally-Anne asked quietly when the two other girls left swiftly, hurrying to add at seeing Ginny’s hesitant expression. “I realise you don’t know me, but I want to help too.”

Instinctively, Ginny looked around, searching for Neville or Luna to consult with, but of course they weren’t there. “We probably need some healing potions,” she ventured finally, mentally taking stock of their supply in the Room of Requirement. They’d just refilled it, but who knew … “How good are you at brewing? If they are punished by Carrow, they won’t be allowed to go to the Hospital Wing, in order to ‘learn their lesson the hard way’.” She sincerely hoped that punishment only involved lines, though past experience showed otherwise. Filch was probably having a field day.

“Enough for my needs. But I could go to Pomfrey. I do have permission to consult with her for my medication, so I could just claim ...”

“Still suspicious, since they might guess who it’s for,” Jimmy piped up, and his voice betrayed how worried he seemed, too.

“Go with her. Use the short-cuts I showed you Say you found her being sick in the halls or something when you’re stopped.” Ginny signalled her class mate. “Then bring Sally-Anne to The Room, I’ll get it ready and wait for anyone to arrive.”

Stopping them once more, Ginny extended her hand to Sally-Anne. “Swear to me you will keep quiet about everything that happened after you came through those doors. And what you’re about to see. And I will come after you if you don’t.”

Sally-Anne’s eyes were huge in her drawn face, but she kept them firmly on Ginny’s. “I swear on my life. Not when someone gets possibly injured on my behalf.”

Ginny watched them go, before jumping into action herself. She spared a last glance toward the green-and-silver Quidditch players. “Have fun, then. The day I’ll get up there again is the day we win.”

*

“Come on, tell me!” Dudley wheedled, walking along at Lucia’s shoulder. She sent him an irritated glance, as she’d done all morning but he still hadn’t given up. It annoyed him she wouldn’t tell him more about herself and the squib-business; and Hestia hadn’t revealed any more than what she’d already told him. She’d just sent him along with a snack and a pat on the arm.

He would have been quite content with that once; let himself be distracted and live happily in obliviousness, indulging his appetite and own needs. He was suddenly fascinated with it all, and the questions wouldn’t stop spewing out of his mouth. “Why can’t some of you do magic? Why can some Muggles do it and turn into wizards and witches and others don’t?” Here, the faded photography self of his seven-year-old aunt swam briefly in front of his eyes; what had made her different than her sister? “Why do some wizards kill the others? What’s the difference?” That still stumped him, and no one had yet been able to make it clear to him.

Lucia stopped in her tracks, facing him with her hands on her hips. “Look, Dudley, …” Before she could say any more, two mousy-haired boys headed straight for them, looking determined.

“You!” Colin shouted, his pointer finger lifted in Dudley’s direction. Dudley felt like looking around to see whether Colin was addressing him or someone else. If he hadn’t tried to get answers from Lucia, he’d dodged the Creevey brothers, who had seemed quite intent on cornering him.

“What?” he asked, annoyed. He didn’t like the accusing tone; feeling the familiar urge to pound first and ask questions later, which he’d done so often not too long ago when someone as much as looked at him askew.

“Who are you?” Colin wagged his finger in his face, managing to look intimidating despite being a head smaller and considerably skinnier than Dudley. “Professor Lupin wouldn’t confirm anything; he said to ask you.”

Dudley was more apprehensive of the wands peeking out of Colin’s and Dennis’ belts than the younger boys. His brow knitted, and his next sentence sounded more like a question than a statement. “Uh, Dudley Dursley?”

Lucia snorted quietly next to him, and Dennis also cracked a smile – which made Dudley’s expression darken considerably - but Colin wasn’t deterred.

“Are you or are you not related to –“

Once again, his conversation partner was cut off, when the bell in the hall jingled and glowed a soft blue, announcing a visitor who hadn’t been rejected by the wards.

“Ah, here they come!” Elphias Doge stepped out of his office, clapping his hands once. Adults came out of the living room, among them the elder Creeveys, Hestia and Dedalus. The latter two went outside, ushering in a group of people, some dressed normally – or what he would call normal – and three of them in those long robes. Last, and closing the door as he did so, was the man his mother had called Lupin, and a dark-skinned wizard, who directed the newcomers to Elphias, who promptly assigned them a room.

“More fugitives?” Dennis murmured under his breath.

Dudley surveyed the group, wondering how they were supposed to fit into the house as well. But then, he shouldn’t really be surprised at anything anymore. An elderly woman came into his line of vision when a rather large man moved; she was clutching an old, big handbag and a grey-and-black-flecked cat to her chest.

“Mrs Figg!” Dudley’s jaw dropped as he gasped.


*

Percy was breathing normally, making a conscious effort to put the events of yet another excruciating day to the back of his mind. He couldn’t dwell on it; rather he should be preparing some kind of resilience. But still, the theories that were cursing around would almost seem ridiculous if the effects didn’t prove to be so disastrous. On top of it, he’d also run into his father in the lift again, making for a very awkward few minutes.

Passing the identity checks at the newly-installed apparition point next to the Three Broomsticks in Hogsmeade, he shook his head at the exaggerated security. He’d never considered Ron to be particularly clever, but he doubted even his brother would be dense or daring enough to apparate directly into Hogsmeade. Then again, the ministry break-in some months ago had been attributed to Harry Potter, and he – and with him Ron and Hermione, Percy was sure – had shown he wasn’t deterred by the Ministry’s security measures.

Siphoning the wetness left by molten snow-flakes off his cloak, he closed the front door behind him. As he took the stairs in a measured pace, he had to stop half-way up to let the landlord’s daughter pass. She gave him a chipper “Hello!”, to which he reacted with a polite nod and tipped his hat. Her mouth twitched suspiciously, but he had already hurried on.

Back in his small room, he neatly hung his cloak and hat, and changed out of his Ministry robes, thoughts mingling at random in his mind.

They’d recently discovered that they had ‘met’ before. She had been a year below him, and in Hufflepuff. They’d been eleven and twelve, respectively.

A lone girl in the corridors, nearing curfew. Feeling righteous, he strode up to her, narrowing his eyes and asking in an attempt to copy Bill’s authoritarian Head Boy voice, “Who’s there? It’s already past curfew!”

For some reason, she looked annoyed at him, then pointed upwards. “I tried to tell you not to come closer. Now we’re both stuck.”

Following her pointing, he raised his eyes, taking in the mistletoe. Sure enough, he felt like he’d been glued to the spot. Surreptitiously glancing around, he was positive that at any moment now, two identical scrawny red-heads would burst forward, laughing like hyenas and, if his experience was anything to go by, equipped with a Magi-Camera to document their prank. Nonsense, he mentally scolded himself. The twins weren’t even at Hogwarts yet. “Do you know what this means?” he asked her in an attempt to sound nonchalant.

He had stiffened unconsciously, and neither had he noticed that she took the last steps that separated them. “Let’s just get this over with,” she murmured, and brushed her lips over his cheek.

Caught off guard, he stood rigidly, in the middle of the hall. She, however, took a cautious step backwards, scoped up her things from the floor, and was gone. He thought he heard soft giggling from her retreating figure, but couldn’t be sure.

Percy scrunched up his face, feeling bewildered and embarrassed. Naturally, his cheeks had heated up, and he hated feeling out of his depth.

He, too, wheeled around and disappeared in the direction he’d come from, taking the long route up to Gryffindor tower and barely managed to avoid bumping into the Gryffindor prefects. He made a point to avoid thinking about the incident, and Huffepuffs in general, for the rest of his Hogwarts career.


Percy felt twelve again just thinking about it now. Apparently girls weren’t his forte. Not at all.

He hadn’t recognised Audrey; she’d changed quite a bit. She had mentioned it some days ago. Now she wasn’t just his landlord’s daughter, whom he could greet with a polite hello; but someone who knew him and knew exactly who he was. And, he thought, he probably hadn’t left the best of impressions back then, nor was he doing a better job now. And why in Merlin’s name did he even care about what a girl thought of him? There were other things going on which he should concentrate on. Though, it felt good that there was still a shred of normality in the world, even if it made him feel less than comfortable.

Percy purposely grabbed “The Workings of Our World” by Grogan Stump from his book shelf, and immersed himself in the former minister’s ideas until it was time. Checking his pocket watch – an heirloom that had previously belonged to his maternal grandfather – to gauge the time, he eventually put it aside. Oliver had asked to meet him.


The Hogs Head. Percy wrinkled his nose at the seedy building. Grimy windows and rundown front, the shop sign clinging onto the horizontal wooden beam above the door by two rusty chains. He had never once stepped foot into the infamous pub, even when his dorm mates – and his brothers – had declared him a pansy and worse for it.

“Oliver.” Percy nodded in greeting, sitting down at a chair after making his way through the almost empty barroom.

“Perce.” Oliver returned the nod.

Percy flinched. Fred had called him that when he would tease him. Clearing his throat, he said, “What happened to Weasley?”

“I figured we were beyond a last name basis. And since Percy just screams the attribute “Prefect”, and Percival is … well, just a bit old-fashioned. No offence, mate. Anyway, you call me Oliver.”

“I’ve always called you Oliver.” Percy stated, raising his eyebrows over his horn-rimmed glasses.

Oliver dragged a hand through his hair. “You did. Can we, I dunno, put the past behind us?”

“I guess,” Percy replied dubiously, accepting the other’s calloused hand. During his school years, he’d only talk the bare minimum with popular Quidditch player Oliver Wood, despite sharing a dorm with him for seven years.

“Your hints proved very useful so far,” Oliver began hesitantly, and Percy cut his gaze to his face sharply.

“What do you want now? I’d have contacted you the usual way if there’d been anything …”

Oliver waved his hands placatingly. “Nothing of the sort. Or everything. Depends on how you see it.”

Before he could ask Oliver to elaborate, a shadow loomed over them. Aberforth set down two glasses of fire-whisky. “Make it quick, Wood. Curfew’s close, and I’ll not have that blasted charm go off again.” He shuffled away, grumbling to himself about stubborn kids and old fools.

“Ah, here they are.” Oliver paid the old barkeeper no mind, waving to three people in heavy cloaks. They sat down in near silence. Percy’s eyebrows shot up again, on their own accord.

Oliver put his wand on the table in a casual movement, giving Percy a calculating look. “How far would you go to get rid of our lovely occupiers?”

“Is this a rephrasing of your earlier question?” Percy asked shrewdly.

“Have you ever heard about the Order of the Phoenix?” Two of their new companions had lowered their hoods; a younger and an elderly man. Percy thought he might have seen the older one around, but couldn’t really put a name to the face. The man pulled out a top-hat and positioned it meticulously on his head.

“Diggle!” Aberforth’s voice boomed around the room, which was now completely empty except for their table.

“Don’t get your wand in a twist, Abe. We’ve put up an alert before we entered, no one’s going to overhear. So.” The man, Diggle, turned toward him again, more cheerful. “You’re Arthur’s boy, right? Shows. – Anyway, the Order’s not exactly recruiting right now -,” Oliver scoffed in irritation at this. “- but we’re trying to keep in contact with anyone who might want to help when the time’s right. Don’t know why Oliver’s been suggesting you, not your father or your brothers.”

Percy flinched for the second time that evening, while Dedalus only shrugged and focused on his shot of fire-whisky. Percy thought he might need one too.

He raised his eyes in question at Oliver, who replied with a shrug of his shoulders, “Audrey thought so too.”

The smallest of his companions lowered her wood, watching him with amused eyes. It felt like he’d been struck by lightning.

It cost Percy a conscious effort to look back at Oliver and Dedalus, who was casually playing with his wand. “What exactly would that entail?”

“What you’ve been doing already. Have an open ear, and open eyes.” Dedalus said with a cheerful smile.

“Spying,” Percy concluded, not really know whether to feel offended about the assumption. But as Diggle had said; he’d been doing it for several months now, only he’d thought of it more of ‘warning’.

“And you’d be in touch with everything,” Audrey inserted. “When the fighting starts …”

“You’re not fighting,” the dark-haired wizard beside her snapped, glowering at the girl.

“Nick.”

Percy’s eyes narrowed at the protective glance the man was sending Audrey, finding he disliked him immensely.
“I’ll do it,” he said quickly, nodding in Diggle’s direction.

Diggle pushed a parchment in his direction. On Percy’s questioning glance, he explained, “Your brother George actually suggested it, said it was inspired by a very smart young witch and proved useful before. Basically, it will let us know exactly if and who told.”

He signed his name with a flourish. Diggle explained once again that he would basically just passing on information to Oliver as before, and keep in touch with the resistance.

Oliver thumped on the shoulder on his way out, and Diggle and the other wizard left, which left only him and Audrey.

“Are you really going to fight if needed?” he asked.

Audrey regarded him with a somewhat amused look, which he interpreted to mean ‘Stupid question’, before she said, “We should hurry up; barely five minutes for the Caterwauling Charm to activate.”

His stomach did a violent flip when he thought of her in the line of various spells. Nonetheless, he couldn’t help but admire her certainty. As if it was the most natural thing in the world to stand up to wrong.

An image of the cottage appeared in front of his eyes; how there’d always be food outside on one of the windowsills, lately in charmed bags due to the temperature. And how those bags always seemed to disappear without anyone taking offence. There were apparently more ways than one to help. And I just had to chose this cottage, wanting to lie low. Percy rolled his eyes at his pot luck.

*

Nymphadora sat at the kitchen table, twirling her wand and watching the knife cut the carrot into uneven pieces over the pot on the stove.

“Cut them more evenly, will you?” Andromeda observed mildly.

She was about to state that it hardly mattered what size the carrots were, as long as they were edible, but her mother turned around, put her hand onto the small of her back with a sigh. “I am sorry, Nymphadora. At least you can’t hurt yourself that way.”

She’d brightened at the first words, then her expression darkened. “I’m not clumsy, I’m not,” she muttered mulishly under her breath, slashing her wand in agitation. The knife jerked, chopping the hovering carrot in half; which sent the pieces crashing into the boiling water and sent it flying everywhere.

Andromeda let out a startled squeak, taking another step back. She pinched the bridge of her nose wearily. Nora, who had been sitting beside her silently up to that point, busy supervising the bread dough that was kneading itself on the counter, said soothingly, “Mrs Tonks, how about you rest for a minute until the stew’s ready? I’ll take care of it.” She put a calming hand on Nymphadora’s shoulder, and got up to take up position in front of the stove.

“I probably should,” Andromeda conceded, leaving with a grateful sigh to go sit in the living room. Nymphadora looked after her mother with a grimace; she’d noticed the dark circles under her mother’s eyes since her father left. They hadn’t heard from him in over three months. Which was probably a good thing, she assured herself. If he’d ended up in the news, it probably wouldn’t be for any good reason.

A shudder went through her at the thought of what she’d do if she’d lose her own husband. Again, and not because he was being ridiculous. He was gone at the moment, saying something about Kingsley … Both of the men were wanted, and still Remus went away doing Order things … If only she could come …

“Nora? Can you switch on the wire-less?” she asked, remembering.

“Oh, is it the time?” The auburn-haired witch glanced over at the clock, before doing as she had been asked. A flick of her wand had the stew bubbling away on the stove, and she went to fiddle around with the dials of the wireless. She muttered the code word under her breath, until they could hear voices among the crackling.

“We almost missed it,” Nymphadora wheezed heaving herself up from her chair to stand closer. Two more months of this, she thought in aggravation. And a week. But she didn’t count that week, because surely, one could round that off? Two months sounded better than two months and a week. Or nine weeks, for that matter.

“River,” Nora breathed, interrupting Nymphadora’s inner ranting. The pink-haired witch knew her friend was waiting for Fred to come on air, who’d said he might be on this broadcast if he could make it to the abandoned warehouse they’d currently stationed their equipment. She herself was rather anxious to hear Remus’s voice, even though he’d only left the day before yesterday.

“… and now back to our trusted correspondent, Royal. What news do you have for us today?”

“Well, River, this is a sad day for all fans of the popular band “The Weird Sisters”. As was confirmed today, bassist Donaghan Tremlett’s appeal to the Wizengamot has been dismissed. Tremlett, a Muggle-Born, has now been summoned before the Muggle-Born Registration Commission. The band has appeared for several performances during their bassist’s probation pending the court’s decision, humouring its provisions. As our faithful listeners will know, this past September, the whole band has been prohibited from leaving the country and their repertoire censored.

Tremlett was unavailable for a statement, and this crew is rooting for him to stay undetected for a while longer. His colleagues were seen storming out of the Ministry of Magic in a rush. We shall keep you updated on whether the remaining Sisters will be likely to sing He-Who-Doesn’t-Care’s praises.”

“We shall indeed. In case they are not, they’d find guaranteed air time with us,” River spoke up again. “As a side note, a special thanks goes to Rapier for the newest nickname. – Next, I want to extend a warm welcome to Romulus, who has joined us again this fine day. And as always, that means it’s time for Pals of Potter.”

“Thank you, River. If you’re still a subscriber of The Daily Prophet, I am sure you will have noticed the article about the arrest of Xenophilius Lovegood on the grounds of harbouring Harry Potter.”

Nymphadora’s hands came to rest on her belly, feeling her baby kick up against her palms. She was sure he could recognise his father’s voice, just like she would recognise it anywhere. That slightly hoarse timbre always sent shivers down her spine, while it soothed over her heart like balm at the same time. She couldn’t bear to be separated from her husband; where she couldn’t make sure with her own eyes and everything in her power that he didn’t suffer any harm. He had experienced so much grief and hurt already, if she wasn’t responsible for two lives at that very moment, she would be wherever he was. After their falling out, he had promised to try his best, even if he still insisted that he hadn’t much to offer. She preferred it over anything else.

“… confirmed that Lovegood’s daughter has also disappeared, with no clue as to her whereabouts. We and the whole resistance hope that this bright girl is not lost to us, for believing in the right values.”

“Poor girl,” Nora murmured from her perch against the table, just a few steps away from Nymphadora.

They don’t care she’s only a girl,” the pink-haired witch seethed, eyes flashing. If only she’d get the chance to get her hands on some Death Eater neck …

“Meanwhile, there are no further sightings of Harry Potter and Hermione Granger. It has been confirmed that they were at the Lovegood’s, where they reportedly made a last-minute escape, and which ensured Xeno the relatively lenient punishment and preservation of his life. As discussed in our last issue, we still believe that sighting to be legitimate, although the reason still remains a mystery. They alone know what was behind it, and since they Ministry are not making any promising moves besides tightening their security measures even more, they are none the wiser, either. Xeno Lovegood, keep your secret for a little while longer. To Harry, Hermione and everyone out there, all of our prayers are with you.”

“Though we wouldn’t mind if you’d hurry up just a little,” River took up the commentating again.

The wireless started crackling and whizzing ominously, just then, making both women swear in frustration. Nora tried fiddling with the dials again, hoping it was just an atmospheric disturbance, but it was no use. Seemingly out of nowhere, thunder sounded over them, although the sky outside was still a pale blue.

A creaking sound, like a rusty door opening, rent the air. Loud footsteps could be heard from the other room, and then Andromeda Tonks’ s voice came from the hallway, “Someone’s tampering with the wards again! Dora, go!”

“I don’t bloody think so!” she muttered agitatedly, heaving her heavy body after Nora who already disappeared through the door. There was a floo-connection, solely connected to Minerva McGonagall’s summer home, and the only way out of the house, but she wouldn’t be using that one and leave her mother and her houseguest-turned-confidante all on their own. Being pregnant didn’t mean she could suddenly not execute spells anymore. Panting, she paused under the front door, and, leaning on the door jamb for support, lifted her wand high into the air to cast reinforcements at the weakening magical protection.

They’d hold out just a little longer.





Cue the long and winding Author's Note:

I am so sorry for taking so horribly long to update, and to respond to those lovely reviews. Thank you so much for them, they kept me going :D
There's a lot going on, decisions had to be taken, so sadly, that left little time to edit and tweak those chapters up to par :(
Now there's nothing left but hope for the best. At the moment though, it feels pretty good! Wish me luck!
On the up-side, a lot of that tension went into bits and pieces I was dreading to write, so there'll definitely be updates. Hopefully, everything will calm down a little.

Oh, and of course, I am not Joanne K. Rowling, and none of the canon characters and settings are mine.

As for the story, this chapter is a bit of a filler. Still, Dudley's back, as is Percy. The bits about Quidditch and The Weird Sisters is just speculation on my part. Next time, there'll be a glimpse into one of the other houses ;)
By the way, would anyone want to see Nora and Fred again?

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