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Author Notes:

Seasonal greetings.

A huge thanks to Kokopelli and Luan Mao for helping me with this, for adding bits to make it better, for fixing it, and for generally demanding that I do my absolute best.

Gabrielle stretched luxuriously before she hopped out of bed, grabbed the nearest top she could find, and headed out the bedroom.

Fleur was still fast asleep – she was never really a morning person.

Once in the cathedral-like common room, she headed toward Harry’s room, and as the door opened, she ran in and dived on the bed.

Only to find it empty, cold, un-slept-in, and definitely missing Harry.

She pouted massively. What was the fun of being in his bed if it didn’t smell of him and surround her in his love?

She grumpily climbed off the bed and headed toward the sofas. Dawn appeared, half transparent in the soft night light, and sat on the sofa. “He didn’t come back,” she said softly.

Gabrielle sighed and climbed into her friend’s lap. She cuddled into the now solid Dawn and relaxed. “Probably stayed with Kate,” she muttered.

Dawn nodded.

Gabrielle closed her eyes and soon fell back to sleep.

Harry found himself staring at a white brick wall.

His mind was in a mess. His holier-than-thou speech to Christophe’s sister reverberated through his head. His black and white view that there was no excuse for using the killing curse had been blown out of the water.

It had been easy to preach about the sanctity of his soul, only now, those words tasted like rank hypocrisy.

Despite everything, he knew he had done the right thing.

It had been merciful for the boy who had been slowly dying. It had been devastating to Harry.

He sighed softly.

He’d been led to this cell in a local police station, had his name taken, his valuables – including his necklace – taken from him. And that was it.

He had enough magic to send a message to some of his friends, but really, he didn’t need to bother them. He had been in worse places, and this was at least warm, with a bed.

He’d managed a few hours’ sleep and was feeling pretty rested.

And if his thoughts would stop going in a circle, he’d feel a lot better.

With a sigh, he climbed to his feet and then dropped to the floor. He started some press-ups, planning on using the space he had to work out.

“Hey, Sarge, take a look at camera seven.”

Sergeant Richard Hawkson looked at the camera in question, and raised his eyebrows. The gentlemen in the cell almost seemed to be hovering as he launched from one jumping heel kick to another.

They often got young men in their night-cells who thought that they could fight, but this was the first time he’d ever seen one who appeared to actually be able to.

He picked up the report from last night and glanced through it. The suspect, one Harry James Potter, had been found next to ten gang members and one deceased boy. The gang members were all in hospital, suffering from some permanently disabling, but not life-threatening injuries.

“Harry ‘The Hitman’ Potter,” Mike Follon, his number two, announced from a green and black computer screen of the antiquated software they still used. “According to the network, he’s actually Lord Potter, and I think I read about him last week, when he won the championship - he was trained by Ben Turpin, that guy that did the training a few months back.”

Richard looked at the screen in front of him, a feeling of dread suddenly growing inside him. He finished entering the data and pressed the ‘Confirm’ button.

The screen vanished and was replaced with the blue and white logo of the Metropolitan Police.

“Please tell me that everything was done by the book last night,” he said out loud.


“Was he read his rights, was he given a chance to contact someone?” he demanded.

Mike picked up the phone and dialled a number. He had a low-voiced conversation, before he hung up. His hand was shaking slightly.

“Jim didn’t bother – he was so concerned about the men scattered about the pavement in need of treatment, that he just bundled him in a car, took his stuff and put him in cell seven.”

“We’re totally fucked.”


“Call Jim, and everyone else in. Then send out for decent coffee, a hell of a lot of it. I’m going to call the Super.”

“Why, sir?”

“Because I suspect that all hell is going to break loose within the next hour, and we’re going to be up to our eyeballs in press and lawyers.”

“Any sign?” Chloe asked, as she joined the others for breakfast.

“Nope,” Nasher said. “And he’s not wearing his necklace. We’re starting to get a bit worried.”

“Agreed,” Melissa said. “He better have a good explanation.”

“That’s strange,” Dawn announced, as she looked at the door.

The door exploded open as a troop of Aurors, led by Minister Fudge, entered the room. “No one move,” Fudge snapped.

“Cornelius?” Dumbledore asked.

Fudge ignored him, while all of Harry’s friends slowly reached for their wands. The Minister looked around, before his eyes settled on Dawn.

“You will return all the power of Hogwarts to the Ministry.”

“No, she won’t,” Gabrielle disagreed.

“Silence, creature,” Fudge sneered. “Get her.”

The Aurors pointed their wands at Dawn.

“No,” Hermione said, her wand out and pointing back at them. “I can’t even guess as to what law you are pretending to follow here, but we will not let you touch her.”

“As of an emergency meeting of the Wizengamot this morning, I have the right to demand that all personifications of Ministry property desist their quasi-human forms immediately.”

“Excuse me, Minister,” Dumbledore interrupted. “Why was I, the Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot, not informed of this meeting?”

“The invitation must have got lost,” Fudge said with a shrug. “Enough people were present for it to be official.”

Albus growled.

“There will be an investigation,” Fudge continued. “I’m sure someone will lose their job over it.”

“I don’t give a flying fuck what you are playing at, you fat fuck,” Chloe announced. “But you are not taking our friend.”

“You will put down your wands,” Fudge ordered.

“Last time, six of us took out all thirty of your Aurors,” Crusher said, cracking his knuckles.

“And there are a lot more than six of us this time,” Cedric added.

“Diggory,” Fudge said, “you’re father would be …”

“Delighted that he is standing up for friends in front of a fat, useless, hypocritical waste of space,” Cho intervened sweetly.

“Stop this!” Albus roared.

“No,” Hermione said, her wand pointed straight at Fudge. “Dawn has the same right to life as anyone else.”

“She is not human,” Fudge sneered. “Get them.”

“No,” Dawn shouted, her hands rising to the ceiling. An almost transparent blue barrier appeared, separating everyone. “I can not let you fight with magic over me.”

“Why not?” Melissa asked.

“It is against my rules. I must protect students. I must obey the official authority.”

“Really,” Fudge said, a smirk appearing on his face.

Natalia woke to the sound of her phone. She picked it up without opening her eyes.

“Watch the TV.”

She stretched and sat up, as her TV turned itself on. A grainy black and white image appeared, and she recognised her target from the previous night.

He walked into an alley and the view switched to another viewpoint. There was a stand-off with posturing and the faint sight of mouths moving, before around ten young men charged at Potter.

Potter didn’t stand still; it looked like he was moving in fast forward compared to the other. Knives, bats, he didn’t seem to care. But what was fascinating was the look in his eyes. There were chances for him to kill, but he didn’t use them. He was going for punishment, not death.

She smiled faintly, more than impressed with the skill on display.

With the last one down, and probably paralysed for the rest of his life, Potter went to the small one on the ground. She felt like she could see the pain and agony in Potter’s eyes as he looked down.

Despite the grainy look and feel of the film, his eyes still seemed to stand out. He appeared to whisper something – possibly a religious exhortation – as he held his hand to his chest, before the boy died.

It was another few moments before the police arrived.

“This was CCTV footage we managed to get a hold of this morning,” the voice of her boss said. “Lord Potter was arrested last night. The Embassy’s lawyers are being gathered as we speak. You are to get down there to help him out as quickly as possible.

“This is a perfect opportunity for you to ingratiate yourself with him. This will announce him on the world stage in the Muggle world. It’s been kept quiet so far, but that will not last. There will be some liberals who will complain, but as he didn’t actually kill anyone, and was obviously acting to save a life of a child, he will become a hero.

“We believe that he doesn’t have anyone to support him, and act as his P.R., so there is an opportunity there. A car will arrive downstairs in twenty minutes.”

The conversation ended with a click, and Natalia jumped out of bed. She grabbed a brush and started to run it through her hair as she entered her wardrobe and pulled out her best business suit. While it wasn’t her favourite colour – it was dark grey – it was the sort of thing she used when meeting foreign heads of state.

She grabbed her wand and set the coffee maker going, and put some toast on, as she dashed into the bathroom for a quick wash.

Once dressed, she quickly ate the toast and had her first cup of coffee. Her watch said that she still had a minute left, so she grabbed her purse and hastened out. She arrived at the curb as the first of three black Mercedes cars pulled up.

Richard sighed to himself. He found he couldn’t take his eyes off Lord Potter, who was still training. He’d been going for an hour, and had stripped down to just his trousers.

His well-muscled body was gleaming, and he was moving with such speed and smoothness that it was hypnotising. He wasn’t the only person to be watching, everyone else was as well.


He turned, and looked out the window. In the station car park, a fleet of black cars was pulling in. Two different types of Mercedes parked neatly, both of the sort that screamed wealth and power. Three different groups formed, one headed by a woman who he could tell, even from distance, was gorgeous. The other two were headed by tall grey haired men with postures that screamed trouble. Hundreds-of-pounds-per-hour trouble.

“Ahh fuck,” he muttered. He stood up, grabbed his uniform jacket and headed downstairs to the desk.

He arrived at the same time as the woman. “Natalia Tiemerovna,” she introduced herself. “Russian Embassy. I am here for Harry Potter.” She handed over a badge.

“Heh,” the leader of the next group said. “Daniel Thornton, Chief Legal Officer, GBC. Lord Potter’s lawyers.”

“Why is it always the civil service that is last,” the third man asked cheerfully. “Charles Worthington-Symthe, Her Majesty’s Permanent Undersecretary for the State. Her majesty has asked me to assist Lord Potter.”

“Is this not overkill?” Richard asked sourly.

“Lord Potter is an important person,” Charles continued, his gaze tightening as the jovial nature vanished. “Her Majesty requested that I look into this matter immediately. I am not surprised to see Daniel here; after all, Lord Potter does have some money invested in the GBC.”

Daniel smiled faintly. “He also helped us track down one of our directors who was behaving badly yesterday. The owners feel that they owe Lord Potter a debt of honour. This is the first Saturday morning I’ve worked in years.”

Charles nodded. “And Ms Tiemerovna? I must say that you are a surprise.”

A small blush dusted the face of Natalia. “I’m afraid I didn’t know he was a Lord. We had a nice date last night, and when I saw the CCTV of what happened last night, I showed my superiors, who were impressed enough to allow me to use Russia’s resources.”

Charles raised his eyebrows. “Because of a date?”

She nodded.

“Lucky man,” Daniel coughed. “Charles, as you appear the most senior, do you want first crack?”

Charles smiled thinly. “Sergeant Hawkson. You are now going to tell me that procedure was followed to the very letter, that Lord Potter was allowed to communicate his current state, aren’t you?”

Richard swallowed. “No, sir.”

Sudden shark-like smiles appeared on the faces of all the lawyers, while the Russian girl looked irritated.

“You have seen the CCTV footage?” Charles asked, a tape appearing in his hands.

“It normally takes us a while to get a hold of it, sir,” Richard explained.

“Why don’t we watch it?” Charles suggested. “While you tell your men to get all of Lord Potter’s possessions ready – and prepare him for release.”

“Yes, sir,” Richard agreed, understanding that the suggestion was a direct order.

“I’ve already seen it,” Natalia reminded them. “Can I be taken to Harry?”

Richard looked at the Charles, who nodded slowly. “I’m impressed.”

Natalia smiled. “We have the same access to the CCTV network you did this morning. The arrest came up when I was searching the work database this morning. And as one of the secretaries at the Embassy is a fan of Lord Potter’s sport, it was trivial for him to find the CCTV. Harry should probably be moved into a special interest category,” she added.

Charles winced. “Quite,” he agreed. “Well, please make sure our boy is alright. Wouldn’t do for something to happen to him now.”

“Of course.”

Harry finished his cool down stretches, and smiled. He felt better. Although he desperately needed a shower now.

He looked up as the heavy metal door opened, and even more surprised at who was on the other side.


She grinned at him, and then went down on one knee. “My Lord,” she said formally.

Harry sighed.

“This is not the way to greet a Lord?” she asked. “My etiquette must be out of date.”

“By about three hundred years,” Harry agreed dryly.

She stood gracefully and looked at the camera in the corner of the room. The red light on the side blinked out. “Well,” she said, “it appears that we could have had a lot more to talk about last night.”

“You appear to have me at a disadvantage,” Harry said.

“I do,” Natalia agreed. “Lord Harry James Potter, you look nothing like you do in the Prophet.”

Harry looked at her in surprise. “And you look like a wart would never dare touch your nose.”

“Appearances can be deceptive. Not that it would have mattered, I had fun last night. This morning, I, erm, used some resources at my disposal to look you up, and you can imagine my surprise.”


“Ahh, yes, I’m the Special Attaché to the Russian Ambassador to Great Britain.”

Harry sat down, resting his back against the wall. “Really?”

She nodded, “The rest of the world has moved into the twentieth century. It’s only the United Kingdom that continues with its anachronistic practices. Of course, there is no reason for them to change; it has worked well for the last eon.”

Harry snorted. “Right,” he agreed. “So, I’m free?”

Natalia laughed. “As soon as they entered the information about your arrest into the computer this morning, a number of flags were raised. As such, your lawyers from GBC are here, as is the man in charge of the current review into the Wizarding laws. And we all have some very intelligent lawyers. I’ve never seen a police officer go quite so white.

“However, I will go and ask that you be allowed to shower, for the sake of the embassy’s car if for no other reason, while I go and get you some clothes.”

“Natalia,” Harry called, as the witch turned away.

She paused and looked at him.


She smiled and nodded, before turning off and walking away. He found his eyes attached to her rear, and admired how it looked in the tight skirt.

His interest in her was higher than it had been the night before, but his mind quickly returned to another brunette – the one he actually wanted to date.

Natalia walked out of the Police Station and allowed a relieved smile to take over her face. She looked up and down the street, and sighed at the quality of the shops that were available. The standardisation of the normal London high street was a truly depressing thing.

She crossed the road, aware that a couple of the Embassy security team were following her. As she crossed a side street, she noticed a small clothes shop and headed toward it.

She sighed in relief as it turned out to be a decent enough boutique. She entered and had a look around.

“How may I be of service?” an older woman in a nice skirt and blouse combination asked.

“I need an outfit for a twenty-four-year-old black haired, green eyed male, six foot tall, thirty-six inch waist, thirty-two inch leg, size nine shoes, seventeen inch neck.”

The woman smiled and nodded. “Smart, casual?”

“Casual,” Natalia said after a moment’s thought.

The woman headed toward a rack of clothes and rifled through it. She pulled out a slightly faded-looking long sleeved black and white striped shirt. She then found a black t-shirt with some white lettering in Arabic on it.

She moved over to the trousers, and pulled out a pair of blue-black jeans, with button down back pockets. She added a pair of dark black socks, and some chunky looking black boots.

She laid the outfit out at the till, so Natalia could see what it looked like together.

“I’ll take it, and your card,” Natalia said. “You have skill.”

The woman smiled. “A lifetime’s worth of experience. It is how I’m still in business, even with my prices.”

Natalia didn’t even blink as the price tag came close to six hundred pounds. She had the budget for this anyway, and handed over the Embassy American Express card. It always amused her to use this particular card. The irony was delicious.

“Don’t bother wrapping it,” Natalia said. “In fact, can you take the labels off?”

The woman looked at her for a long moment. “You’re rescuing him from the Station?” she asked curiously.

Natalia nodded. “You’ll probably see it all over the news by lunch time. He’s not decided if he is going to sue the police yet. They dropped the ball majorly, arresting a man for trying to defend a child, and not even reading him his rights.”

The woman tutted disapprovingly as she cut away the tags.

“My thanks,” Natalia said, as she nodded to one of the body guards to grab the outfit. She turned.

“Miss?” the woman called. Natalia turned her head. “What is his name?”

“Potter, Lord Harry Potter.” She headed back toward the Station, relieving the guard of the clothes as she entered. She was allowed straight back, where Harry was in a cubicle, drying himself off.

She draped the clothes over the door, putting the boots in front of them.

“Thanks,” Harry called, as the clothes vanished.

She stepped back and waited, amused as Harry opened the door and reached out with a bare arm to grab the boots.

Another couple of minutes passed, before a fully dressed Harry opened the door. She looked him up and down and smiled slowly. She handed over the card she’d got from the shop keeper. “I’d advise using her again,” she said.

Harry looked around for a mirror, and walked over to it. He looked himself up and down and nodded. He looked at the card. “Agreed,” he said. “Well, as fun as staying here has been, I’m not so enamoured of the place that I want to extend my visit, and I’m going to need some food shortly.”

He strolled down the corridor, heading toward the exit, and she found herself having to trot to keep up with him. It was fascinating to watch him, as the young man she had enjoyed a date with last night seemed to pull the mantle of power and responsibility over himself, in a manner that seemed to belie his casual clothes.

The door out of the cells was opened for him, and he moved to the reception area. Daniel and Charles were chatting amiably, while the gaggle of lawyers behind them held low-voiced conversations.

The sergeant had a resigned look on his face.

“Ahhh, Lord Potter,” Charles greeted him. “Yet again, we meet under less than auspicious circumstances, and you see the negative side of our justice system.”

Harry tilted his head.

“I was at your farcical trial,” Charles added. “Charles Worthingon-Smythe.”

Harry’s face cleared. “My apologies, Mr Worthington-Smythe.”

“A mouthful, isn’t it,” Charles said mournfully. “Charles will do.”

“As long as we can drop the Lord in my name,” Harry bargained. “Harry is a nice and simple name.”

Charles nodded.

Harry grinned past him, and held out his hand. Daniel shook it firmly. “A trial and I wasn’t invited?” he asked dryly. “That’s the sort of thing that makes me nervous.”

“Harry had it under control,” Charles said. “He had an impressive young woman representing him.”

“Will I be arguing with her later?” Daniel asked.

“Probably,” Harry said with a smile. “She’s going to be my personal lawyer.”

“I’ll look forward to it.”

A clerk appeared with a box. “Lord Potter,” he said nervously.

Harry reached in and pulled out a gold watch, attaching it to his wrist, then a wooden amulet necklace that he put around his neck. Natalia felt that she was the only one who recognised the slight flicker of worry that skirted over his face. She was a trained observer, after all.

Harry picked up his mobile phone and turned it on. From her position, she could see that nothing happened, but he acted like there was a message. He dialled a number and put the phone to his ear, acting like he was listening, while he put the rest of his confiscated items in his pockets.

He hung up, the same worried expression appeared again, but this time it stayed. “I need to get to Scotland, immediately.”

“We have a plane at Heathrow,” one of the lawyers from GBC offered.

“We have one at the City of London,” Natalia added. “It’s closer.”

Harry nodded. “Daniel, can you take care of anything else here?”

“Of course.”

“Thanks for this.”

“Not a problem, Harry, and just remember that when you read the reports of my death by irritated spouse.”

“You got a pen and paper?” Harry asked the clerk.

The clerk nodded frantically, before passing him the two items.

“Call this number, ask for Jonathan, tell him I told you to call, and that I’ve ordered a table for four for this evening, although only three will probably be there.” Harry said as he passed the paper to Daniel. He looked at the other lawyers. “You can then arrange for each of this motley crew to have dinner there as well, at my expense.”

“Harry,” Daniel protested. “We’re already paid exceedingly well for this.”

“As your client, shut up and do as you’re told.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Natalia, your guys are okay dealing with Daniel?”



“They are public servants…”

“Fine,” Harry said, rolling his eyes. “No one will care if they happen to have their spouses in for a team-building exercise, and if a few people happen to pop by to help with lunch.”

Charles nodded slowly, before he smiled.

Natalia studied the lawyers, and was impressed. The GBC lawyers looked like they were willing to swear fealty to the Lord in front of them and the civil service employees weren’t far behind them. Even her own people looked impressed.

“Right,” Harry said, clapping his hands. “Let’s get moving.”

“Sergeant, a car to clear the way to the airport, please,” Charles said.

“Right away, sir.”

“If you don’t mind,” Charles said, “I’ll accompany you. I have some sway in Scotland that I might be able to help with.”

Harry nodded, and headed toward the door, Natalia and Charles followed in with him. Natalia turned her head to look at the lawyers. “You’ve done well; I’ll take it from here.”

“Yes, Miss Tiemerovna,” the lead said, falling back.

The police car was already waiting for them, the lights going. Her own black Mercedes was behind it, the door opened. Harry entered indicated she should enter first, he followed her in, Charles last.

As soon as the door closed, they were thrust back against the leather seats as the driver floored it, two police cars already holding the traffic of the junction.

“Something is going wrong at Hogwarts,” Harry said firmly. “I can’t wait to take Muggle transportation.”

“I figured as much,” Charles said. “Will one of you be able to give me a lift?”

“I’ll have to bring both of you.”

“I can Apparate,” Natalie pointed out.

“Not through Hogwarts wards, you can’t,” Harry replied. “Time is of the essence.”

“I’ve told the Police to stop at the Airport gates,” Charles said. “It will keep up the pretence.”

“Harry, we need to talk as soon as this emergency is over,” Natalia added, making sure she remained useful. “A lot of things have changed.” She reached forward and opened the glass panel separating them from the driver. “We’re gone; pretend that we are still here. Organise the plane to take off and head for Edinburgh airport.” She didn’t wait for a reply.

Harry reached out and grabbed her shoulder, and then Charles’. There was a brief feeling, like that of being cocooned in magic, before the scene shifted and they were in a huge entrance hallway, facing a couple of large doors.

“Welcome to Hogwarts,” Harry said softly.

Charles straightened his tie. “That,” he said, “was the most amazing thing I have ever felt.”

Suddenly, Harry seemed to almost catch fire, as he let loose all of his magic.

Charles went wide eyed. Even Natalia gulped – she’d never felt anything like it.

Harry slammed the doors open with his foot.

Of all the sights, the one that drew the eye was the man in the uniform of an Auror, standing in front of a kneeling blonde child, his hand on her head, her face in his crotch. Her shirt was ripped open, showing her chest.

A hundred things ran through her mind. The surprised looks on the faces of the others, the way that things didn’t quite add up properly, like it had been designed to evoke the most powerful emotional reaction out of Harry.

There were five groups: a group of students behind a clear barrier, a group of Aurors surrounding a politician. The Professors, the rest of the school, and one tall girl with hair so green it belonged either in a Japanese comic or on a personification of a school.

This seemed like a perfect chance for Natalie to show off a little, and show that she was more than she seemed, and give her more of a chance to integrate with Harry quickly.

Besides, she felt her own emotions react to the little girl, who must be the Veela friend of Harry’s. It might help her get in with the child as well.

Harry seemed to be about to explode, but paused as she touched his arm. As he looked at her curiously, she marched across the hall toward the Aurors. All the attention seemed to be on Harry, and just how much magic he was pumping out. The looks on the Auror’s faces were of fear, while his friends looked relieved.

An Auror moved into her way, his wand rising. She swayed to one side and launched a punch forward, aiming for the neck. Hard to soft, she ensured she followed through as her instructors always taught her, aiming to incapacitate completely.

The Auror fell without a sound, causing another to move over to her. She wished she wasn’t in heels and a skirt, but she didn’t view the Aurors as a serious threat, as they never bothered to learn how to fight without wands.

The second was dispatched as easily; she used a light punch to the stomach to move him into the position that she wanted. With his hands out of the way, his jaw was an easy target for her palm. Soft to hard; no point in injuring yourself mid-fight.

With her target in front of her, she saw that he had released his hand on the girl’s head, and was raising them protectively.

She almost walked past him, as her fingers hitched her skirt up slightly, and she kneed him, with all the power of twenty years of ballet, nine years of military training, and eight years of Systema.

His eyes bulged - and she restrained the urge to pull them out – his face went red, and he hit the floor and vomited.

Natalia dropped to her knees, and hugged the girl tightly, covering her at the same time.

The girl hugged her back, before squirming so that she could watch – seemingly unaffected. Natalia drew the remains of her shirt around her, and almost smiled as the girl relaxed against her.

{a few minutes previously}

Gabrielle looked at the stalemate, unsure what to do. All the faith she had in Harry meant that she knew that he would be here soon.

“You have to follow our commands,” Fudge said to Dawn. “So return the power to the castle.”

“I am the castle.”

“No, you’re not,” Fudge sneered. “You are not a human, you are an artificial construct. Our mirrors can talk to us, that doesn’t make them anything more than a tool.”

“She’s more human than you are,” Fleur spat.

“Your opinion is irrelevant, creature,” Fudge retorted.

Gabrielle frowned, wondering where Harry was. She was in trouble, and she needed him, and he hadn’t shown up yet.

Fudge and the Aurors were in control; Dawn was actually stopping anyone else from interfering, as she looked like she was caught between the two sides of her rules – obedience to the Ministry and protection of the students.

At no stage did Gabrielle doubt that Harry would turn up, he obviously didn’t know she needed him yet.

Perhaps she hadn’t been praying hard enough. Or even at all. How could she expect her god to know everything, when she hadn’t even prayed for him?

She moved forward, away from the others, the barrier proving no hindrance to her, and once in some space, she dropped to her knees, and raised her hands so that she was praying.

One of the Aurors stormed over to her. “Your god won’t save you now,” he said with a sneer.

How wrong he was, he didn’t know her god like she did. But as she looked up at him, a memory of his sneer flashed through her mind. He was the one that had cursed her. He was the one that had hit her.

He stopped right in front of her, his hand out to hit her.

Gabrielle smiled up at him, completely unafraid. Harry had promised that he would never let anyone hurt her, and she had total faith in him.


Gabrielle felt it the moment that Harry arrived back in Hogwarts. She knew it! She knew he would save her!

There was an explosion of magic from outside the doors to the Great Hall that she could still feel despite being near their table and far from said doors. Everyone turned toward it in surprise.

Gabrielle reached down to her shirt and ripped it open, before she took a deep breath, held it, and thrust her head forward. She refrained from head-butting him, as she didn’t want him to have an expression of pain. She knew exactly what it would look like, and wanted her god to both punish the one that had hurt her, and not feel guilty for it. As she expected, the Auror’s hands moved automatically down.

The door banged open, and she kept her head in place for a few more seconds, for effect, and then looked up.

Her first reaction was to sigh in disbelief. As expected, Harry was looking perfect, just like a vengeful god. Next to him, was a man who, despite looking like a lawyer, had an expression on his face that suggested that some people in the room were not going to be happy at the end of the day.

Next to them, stood both a surprise and not a surprise. A woman; she was reasonably tall, with beautiful shiny, long, dark chestnut hair, and as she was a friend of Harry’s, she obviously had the requisite long legs and ample chest.

It so wasn’t fair that everyone got to be grown up, and she didn’t even have the start of a chest yet!

And it was so typical of Harry to be left alone for just one night, and find another beautiful woman.

The woman placed a hand on Harry, and then marched forward. As if she were strolling in a park, the woman dispatched two Aurors with deceptive ease, each movement looking very different to Harry’s – it seemed more circular, it had no punch and counter-punch, more a rolling, swaying style that seemed to mean that she could attack endlessly.

The Auror in front of her was hauled around, and Gabrielle cheered internally as the woman kneed him so hard in the balls his feet left the ground!

The next thing Gabrielle knew was that she was being hugged by the woman, who was fast becoming her new role model. She kicked bum!

She squirmed out of her arms so that she could watch the show, and then settled against Harry’s friend comfortably to watch her god fix everything.

The thought of checking her new hero never entered her mind. If she was good enough for Harry, she was good enough for her.

“Dawn,” Harry said, his voice was so cold and hard, like stone. Gabrielle shivered happily. “Explain.”

“Now see here, Potter,” Fudge started.

“The next person to talk without my permission will spend the last five seconds of their lives in agony before I allow them to die.” Harry’s voice hadn’t changed, giving his threat the certainty of divine proclamation.

Fudge whimpered, and went quiet.

“My rules say that I must protect the students, and that I must listen to the Ministry. Minister Fudge wants me to return to the stone. Your friends wanted to stop them, but I can’t let them fight, so I had to stop them.”

“You didn’t stop Natalia,” he pointed out.

Natalia: that was the name of her new hero? It was a good name, almost Natalie, and Gabrielle liked that name.

“She is not a student,” Dawn replied. “And she did not use magic.”

“So, the problem we have is that you are trapped between two laws, not being able to utilise your free will?”

Dawn nodded, a look of pain on her face.

“Dawn, you will drop that barrier now,” he ordered, pointing to the barrier between his friends and the Aurors.


“Dawn,” Harry snapped. “You will do as you are told.”

There was a battle of wills between the embodiment of the castle and the man who refused to back down.

After a minute, with the tension between the two rising, Dawn suddenly stepped back and went down on one knee.

“Lisa, Crusher, Smasher, Nasher, Thrasher, if any one moves in any way that could be deemed aggressive, you will take them out.”

“Yes, Harry,” they said in unison.

Harry walked over to the kneeling girl and raised his hand, touching her face. He suddenly went very still.

“Easy Harry, play the game.”

The advice came from Charles, and was barely audible, but it was enough for him to regain his temper.

He looked at Dawn, her new appearance not even registering in his mind. He moved over, touching her face, forcing her to look at him, before he launched himself into her mind.

“Harry?” she asked; they were standing around in a cold chamber, a room he’d never seen before.

He looked around. On the walls were some posters. He moved over to them, and nodded to himself. They were the rules she was built with. Some were rules he agreed with, morally, at least, but some he didn’t, because they infringed on what he considered inalienable human rights.

“Harry?” Dawn asked again.

“This is a representation of your mind?”

“Yes,” Dawn said.

“You can’t take these posters down?”

“No one can.”

Harry smiled. “I always liked a challenge.” He moved over to the wall, and tried to grasp the posters, only they appeared to be a part of the wall, and there was nothing for him to grip on to. “Hmm,” he muttered.

“They are my rules, my life.”

“Rules are meant to be broken every now and again, and blind obedience to anything is not a good thing. You need to be able to reason, to argue, to make your own decisions.”

“I am a castle,” she pointed out.

Harry’s response was short, to the point, and mildly profane, and probably not suitable for mixed company.

Dawn flushed.

Harry whispered a spell under his breath, and grinned as the wall seemed to shimmer, allowing him access. He walked through it, where the posters from the previous wall were now blackboards, like in a classroom.

He picked up a chalk eraser, and moved over to the first rule he didn’t like – the one that pledged obedience to the Ministry. With a cheerful whistle, he erased it. He then had a good look around, and continued to remove the ones that he didn’t approve of.

He was aware that he was unilaterally setting a person’s free will, but if he didn’t do it, who would? Fudge? He snorted to himself, before he finished and looked at what he had done.

As far as he could tell, Dawn would now have a lot more freedom to be herself, to think for herself, and to make decisions for herself.

“What do you think?” he asked.

She looked speechless.

There was door in the middle, marked ‘Memory’, and without asking for permission, he walked through it.

The first thing he saw was her view of what had happened, and the way Fudge had acted. He growled to himself, and made a promise to do something permanent about the Minister.

“Dawn, show me the past. Show me what it was like before you gained a form.”

He managed five seconds before dropping to his knees and hugging himself. It was crushing, it was loneliness, and it was cold. It was familiar.

It was so very familiar.

It was the feeling of being in a cupboard and watching the rest of the world have fun while you just watched through the cracks in the door.

It was being alone when no one else was.

It was hopelessness, it was sadness. It was defeat.

And yet through it, was the dream, the dream that one day the door would open, and that someone would free him.

“Harry?” Dawn asked.

Harry reached out, his magic pulling the girl closer to him. She squeaked, but he ignored her as he held her close. He didn’t want to say the words, he didn’t feel like he had the right to say them, but he said them because he knew she needed to hear them. “I forgive you.”

Dawn responded by bursting into tears and burying her face in his neck.

“It’s okay,” he whispered, patting her back softly. “Let it out.”

Dawn sobbed harder, and he smiled slightly. He couldn’t imagine how he would have felt if someone had let him out of the cupboard, only then to look like they had regretted it.

So he lost a few years of his lifespan? So what, what did that matter when compared to someone so cruelly treated for an eon? It was meaningless. He held her tight until she stopped crying.

He pulled back and conjured a hankie, holding it to her nose. She giggled and blew her nose heavily. “I’ve never done that before,” she said. “Blow my nose, I’ve done the crying.”

He vanished the hankie and stood. “So, how do you feel?”

“Better,” she admitted. “And I don’t have these confusing rules to follow anymore. But I’m worried; if you can do this, can someone else?”

“Good point,” Harry agreed, and moved out of her memory room, back into the rule room. He wrote one new rule on the board, effectively locking control to himself and Dawn.

Dawn looked at it. “Only Harry Potter and Dawn Hogwarts together may amend these rules,” she read out and smiled. “Thank you.”

Harry grinned at her. “Right, ready to go kick some Ministerial arse?”

“I can treat them like I did the blonde idiot,” Dawn said happily. “I control myself now.”

“That’s how it should be,” Harry said, reaching up and brushing her hair out of her eyes. “You are as real as any other person here, more so. You have a weight that is incredible on your shoulders, and you are standing tall, accepting the responsibility to educate the children as they need to be.”

Dawn smiled softly, and then hugged him swiftly.

“See you on the other side,” Harry said, and closed his eyes. When he opened them again, he was back in the Great Hall of Hogwarts. His watch told him that they had been gone less than thirty seconds.

His magic was still swirling around the room, and he allowed it to continue. To his right, Gabrielle was sat on Natalia’s knees. He smiled internally. If Natalia had passed Gabrielle’s test, that was good enough for him.

Three Aurors were still on the floor near them.

Harry walked over to Charles, and quickly explained what had happened.

Charles looked thoughtful for a few second. “If I may, Harry?”

“Do you have to?” Harry whined playfully.

“Yes, because as much fun as it would be to watch you Apparate Fudge to the Moon, I do feel that due process should be followed.”

Harry sighed. “Go ahead.”

Charles walked over to the Minister. “By order of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth the Second, you will accompany me to Windsor Castle immediately.”

“I am the Minister for Magic,” Fudge said. But that was as far as he got, before Harry ripped the Minster’s wand out of his hand and snapped it. Harry followed that up by lifting Fudge by the neck high into the air, and holding him.

He didn’t use any magic. He was peripherally aware of his friends moving as one, pointing their wands at the Aurors, even as Dawn raised her hands and the Aurors froze.

Harry looked at Fudge. “Today,” he said softly, “you attempted to murder one of my friends. That is not acceptable. However, my Queen’s representative has requested that due process be followed, so I will accede.

“If I hear from Charles that you have not acted properly, then no one on this planet will save you from my wrath.”

Fudge, who was now starting to go purple, tried to nod, but nothing happened apart from his body wriggling.

Harry dropped Fudge to the floor, and knelt, bending over so that no one could see him grasp his necklace under his t-shirt. With a whispered spell, he turned a coin in his pocket to a Portkey and passed it to Charles. “This will find you a quiet spot nearby.”

“Thank you. I’ll be back this afternoon to watch the trial.”

Harry blinked. “Oh yeah, I forgot about that. Thanks.”

“No problem. And can you at least try and not be arrested again for the rest of the day?”

“No guarantee,” Harry grinned.

“Come, Fudge,” Charles said, and grabbed the Minister. With a pop, they were both gone.

Harry looked at the remaining Aurors, he took care to memorise each and every face. “You,” Harry said, pointing to one at random. “Take these scum on the floor away, and give a full report to Amelia. I will be checking that it is correct later, so don’t leave anything out and don’t embellish.”

The Auror was still locked in place. Dawn said, “Let me help.” She raised her arms, and the Aurors vanished.

“Anyone know where Fudge lives?” Harry asked.

“The Minister’s Mansion,” Hermione replied. “It’s behind Gringotts.”

He gathered all his emotions from the last day, pulling all his power into himself. He didn’t notice as he floated off the ground. With his arms crossed, and his hands on his hidden necklace, he let the spell loose, and smiled.

“Well,” he said cheerfully, as he landed and went down on one knee. “Let’s hope he likes applesauce.”

“I like applesauce,” Gabrielle said.

“Hey,” Harry pointed out. “I’ve been here at least five minutes, and no hug yet?”

Gabrielle was up and sprinting toward him before he had finished saying the words. He dropped to his knees, and opened his arms. Gabrielle smacked into his chest at full speed and hugged him as tightly as she could. He hugged her back, stroking her hair gently.

He pushed her away and looked at her blouse. Most of the buttons were missing. He undid his own shirt and helped her into it, over her own shirt. He picked her up with one arm. “I love you,” he whispered.

Gabrielle burst into a glowing white light as she buried her face in his neck and seemed to relax some hidden tension.

Harry looked around, to find that the professors and students were still separated away by the barrier of Dawn’s.

If it kept them quiet, that was good enough for him.

He looked up and winced, as Aurora, Hermione, Melissa and Fleur were all frowning at him with their arms crossed. Melissa was even tapping her foot. “What?” he asked.

“Arrested?” Hermione demanded.

“Oh,” Harry said. “Bloody Charles could have kept his mouth shut.”

“Don’t blame him,” Natalia said. “We’ve still got to discuss how we’re going to handle everything.”

“Handle what?” Harry asked. “You mentioned that earlier.”

Natalia slid to her feet. “Have you heard of Public Relations?”

He nodded.

“The Muggle world will be going nuts around now. One man defeats a gang of hooligans that had just murdered a child. And then they find that man is a kick-boxing champion, and then, to top it all, they find that he is even a Lord, royalty in fact.

“It’s not as if the world is going to be Obliviated. The CCTV of your fight is incredible, it’s going to be on every news program and channel in the world already, and the papers are going to have a new hero.”

Harry knew he was pale now. “That wasn’t what I wanted,” he muttered.

“No,” Natalia said with a grin. “So, at some stage, you’re going to have to give some interviews, handle the press, and everything else.”

“Want a job?” he asked her.

“Nope,” she said, her eyes challenging. “I’ll give advice for free, but I won’t work for you.”

“Why not?” he asked.

“Because it’s bad form for the boss to date an employee. And after last night, I want my options open.”

He looked at her, even as Gabrielle giggled in his arms. Natalia couldn’t have made the message clearer if she’d tried. And he hadn’t actually thought about that aspect of his relationship with the others beforehand.

“What time is Sirius’s trial?” he asked.

“One this afternoon,” Melissa replied.

Harry looked at his watch; it was only nine thirty in the morning. He looked at Natalia. “Want to get back to your life?”

She shook her head. “Oh no, I have about eight million questions, most of them centred on the green haired lady whom you called ‘Dawn Hogwarts’.”

Harry smiled faintly. “Yeah,” he agreed. “I can see that being a curiosity.”

“Harry,” Hermione said, her hands still on her hips. “We have the odd question ourselves. For example, exactly how do you leave in a temper, spend a day with one beautiful woman, get arrested – which you still haven’t explained – and then turn up the next day with a Royal representative and a completely new beautiful woman?”

“I also saw Annie yesterday,” Harry offered.

“You’re not helping you case here, Harry James Potter!”

“Indeed not,” Aurora put in, apparently feeling that she had to act like a proper Head of House despite Harry being nearly her own age. “Why don't you start with introductions, before we resume pointing out your omissions and shortcomings?”

“Erm,” Harry said intelligently. “Natalia, I’d like you to meet Hermione Granger, the beautiful witch glaring at me next to her is Melissa Cuthbert, the lawyer I mentioned earlier. The gorgeous blonde next to her is Fleur Delacour, potentially one of the best chefs in the business. The amazing blonde next to her is Aurora Sinistra, the one who had to leave yesterday, leaving me open to being picked up in a bar. She’s also our Head of House.

“The four boys and the girl in the matching uniforms are my bodyguards. Crasher, Smasher, Thrasher, Nasher and, erm, Lisa.

“We then have Christophe, who knows more about wine than my Sommelier at my restaurant, he’s dating Melissa. If you’ve spent any time watching sport, you’ll know of Viktor Krum, who’s dating Hermione. Next to them we have Chloe and Andrew, and then Adrienne and her boyfriend Jacque.

“The twins are Fred and George, they think they’re alike, but you can soon see that one of them is the respectable one, the other is the wild one. Their girlfriends are Alicia and Angelina, and there’s often a third who’s not their girlfriend – Katie – who hangs around a lot. Hanging at the end is Cho Chang and Cedric Diggory.

“As you picked up, the woman with the beautiful green hair is Dawn Hogwarts; we’ll explain in detail later. I had a bit of an issue with her yesterday, but having peaked through her memories, all that is completely forgotten, and she’s still the same being I’ve loved for…” he paused. “Since I was eleven,” he finished with a shrug.

“Thirteen years, then,” Natalia said. “You’re definitely twenty-four.”

Harry blinked at her owlishly. “How do you know that?”

She shrugged. “Natural talent. My grandmother was a gypsy; she could do it as well.”

“Thank you,” he said, some what pleased to know how old he was. “And finally, this is the most important person in my life, Gabrielle Anne Delacour.”

Gabrielle squirmed out of his arms, turned, and curtseyed regally to Natalia.

Natalia smiled and managed an elegant curtsey back, despite being in a tight skirt. “Aren’t you just the most gorgeous little thing?”

Gabrielle beamed happily.

“Guys,” Harry continued, “this is Natalia Tiemerovna, Special Attaché to the Russian consulate in London. We met last night when we were watching Annie’s stage show – which is brilliant by the way, remind me to take you all there – and she used me to get better seats.

“She was checking that I wasn’t some sort of rapist this morning, when my arrest flagged up, and she heaved a bunch of lawyers out of bed and came a-rescuing. As did my lawyers from GBC and some from Her Majesty. So, after getting out and getting my necklace back, we high-tailed it back here.

“And you know the rest,” he finished happily.

Hermione sighed. “That’s not even close to a sufficient explanation, Harry, but it will do until we can get somewhere private.”

“Tilly,” Harry called. The elf appeared instantly, along with Dobby. “Can you make Natalia and me a large breakfast? We’ll have it in the Common Room. Dawn, drop the shields and come with us. I want everyone’s ideas on how we are going to handle what happened last night.”

The room was plain, with a simple wooden table surrounded by eight office chairs. At the head was a tanned older man with white hair and a prominent bald spot. He was wearing a suit, and had a powerful look to him. The other chairs were filled with younger men, and two women. Each person had a name on a folded piece of card in front of them.

“Thank you for coming,” said Director Frank Jones. “We are here to discuss England, and the new power that is forming over there.”

“Must be interesting to call us all here on a Saturday afternoon,” Randy Paulson muttered. “How much so?”

“He’s the only person to pull off a triple-A rank spell since Merlin died over a thousand years ago.”

The silence around the table was palpable.

“A triple-A rank? What the hell did he do, raise the dead?”

“Close,” Frank said. “He anthropomorphised the spirit of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.”

There was another silence as everyone tried to imagine the power needed to bring an inanimate object to life with a corporeal body.

They failed.

“The problem,” Frank continued, “is that the Russians have already moved.”

“What!” came the chorus from Frank’s subordinates.

He nodded over to a corner, where a pensieve sat. “We’ll watch what happened earlier,” he said as he stood and followed the others over. They all leaned over the side and felt their consciousness fall in to the whirling grey liquid.

They emerged outside a courtroom, most of them recognising it as the British Ministry of Magic.

“Watch, to the left,” Frank ordered.

The crowd of people parted, allowing a man to march forward. He was preceded by five uniformed bodyguards who weren’t exactly being polite with their audible suggestions that they got out of the way.

“The man is Harry James Potter, a Lord,” Frank said as he paused the memory, “To his left, is Charles Worthington-Smythe, the Undersecretary for State, and the liaison between the Crown and the Ministry for Magic.

“To the right, is Major Natalia Anastasia Tiemerovna. She was raised under the KGB’s childhood scheme, where some of the best and brightest youngsters were handed over to the state, so that they could serve them better. When the old Soviet Union fell, she moved to the FSB instantly, where she’s regarded as one of their best.

“The Russians moved faster than we could, as by coincidence, she was in England already. As you know, we’re still rebuilding our relationship with the Wizarding World over there, after our last agent got fed up of being called a colonial all the time.

“Tiemerovna helped Potter out this morning, but that’s a different issue. Watch.”

The memory continued, as they entered the large courtroom. Harry moved to the seating area, his coterie followed him as his body guards moved people out of his way, allowing him the best seat in the house.

He was silent, surveying the courtroom with a carefully blank expression. Charles settled next to him, with the others surrounding him.

“Bodyguards?” Randy asked.

“Five of them,” Frank agreed, as the memory fast-forwarded at a gesture. “This is the trial of Sirius Black.”

“The guy who betrayed the Potters when Voldemort was killed?”

Frank snorted. “Never believe anything the British Ministry tells you.”

A girl in her late teens stood next to the notorious Sirius Black, a faint smile of confidence on her face. “Melissa Cuthbert,” Frank said, “she was in his last trial, she’s one of Potter’s inner circle of fanatically loyal employees.”

They watched the trial intently, shaking their heads at the complete lack of anything resembling justice in the prisoner’s incarceration.

“Pay attention,” Frank warned.

If I may ,” Melissa said in the memory, “I would like to prove my client’s innocence categorically .”

You may ,” the judge said.

Melissa moved over to Black, and drew out a memory. She placed it in a box. On the wall, a picture appeared.

“What the hell is that?” Randy shouted, interrupting the memory.

“Cleary,” Frank said acidly, “it’s a Pensieve viewer.”

“But that’s not possible.”

“Potter is planning on distributing them.”

“So let me get this right,” Janice Porter said, speaking for the first time. “We have a young, powerful, rich wizard, that can do triple-A ranked spells, and has access to technology that we failed at five years ago?”

“Correct,” agreed Frank. “Our operative there tried to break down the spells, only to find they were encrypted. We don’t think it was Potter himself who did it; rumour had it that the two identical red-haired men in his entourage knocked it together for a laugh, and Potter spotted the idea and made damn sure no one else could use it. Intelligence reports that, based on his profile, he may well be planning on taking it to the Muggle world.”

“With the clarity, the size, and the depth of colours, it would sell like hotcakes on a cold day,” Janice muttered.

“And the Russians are already in there,” Frank said. “And it’s not as if we can go up to him and say, ‘By the way, the Russians are bad, ‘kay, and that just because the normal world has ended the cold war, doesn’t mean that the magical world has.’”

“Why not?” Randy asked.

“Because he’s a British wizard, and they’ve stayed out of it completely!”

“Oh, yeah, sorry.”

“Anyway,” Frank said, “let’s finish this off, and work out how we are going to get Potter on our side.”

They watched the memory, the endless reams of evidence for Black’s innocence, and nothing but rumour from the prosecution, having a low voiced conversation as they did.

They all went quiet as Cuthbert gave her closing speech.

“A few months ago, I stood here and argued against the Ministry in what I thought was the most farcical trial I would ever be involved in. The Minister of Magic breaking laws with no consequences. The Wizengamot going along with the Minister with no critical thought.

“And yet here I stand, almost incensed that I am arguing this case. The Ministry of Magic illegally incarcerated the Lord of an Ancient and Noble House. The Ministry of Magic broke the very charters it was founded on. The Ministry of Magic ignored the basic fundamental right of every human being accused of crime to be tried in front of a jury of his peers.

“Instead, the Ministry sentenced my client to life in prison, without parole. The Ministry then compounded this by sentencing my client to a life time of torture, as if somehow that was acceptable in a civilised world.

“The Ministry of Magic has no choice but to completely exonerate Sirius Black and to start the long process of regaining the authority it has blithely thrown away.

“The Ministry of Magic owes my client an apology, just as it owes every single citizen of Great Britain an apology.

“The world is watching. The people are watching, and the people demand justice. The people demand that the Wizengamot return to its roots of representing the people, and not themselves.”

She sat down, as the judge allowed the Wizengamot to retire.

Frank, even though he had seen this before, still palmed his face when the Wizengamot returned after three minutes to pronounce Sirius completely cleared of all charges.

The crowd in court shouted abuse at the Wizengamot, as they realised that everything Melissa had said was true – that the Wizengamot didn’t give a whit about the law, only about looking good.

A tall woman stepped off the plane from Barcelona and stretched. A four hour drive followed by a two hour wait at an airport and then a two hour flight wasn’t the best way to travel.

After a brief walk through a corridor with brightly covered adverts welcoming her to London, and informing her that she might like to use their banking services, she joined the correct queue at immigration.

Andorra was a wonderful place to live, but as it was not part of the European Union, her passport meant she had to join the slowest queue.

As always, or so it seemed at Heathrow, there were only two customs agents on duty. When it was finally her turn, she walked to the small lectern-style desk and handed over her passport and visa.

The male agent glanced at the photo and then gave her an over-long stare, before he asked a series of inane questions, of which the answers were clearly stated on the visa before him.

She answered them all politely. Eventually, he stamped the passport, one of the forms, and then muttered something that might have been a welcome. She smiled as politely as she could, took her papers and strolled off.

Once she had recovered her luggage, she headed straight out the front of terminal four and joined the small queue for a taxi.

“La Rochelle, Charlotte Street, please,” she said, as she lifted her suitcase into the black cab and took a seat.

“Sure, luv,” the balding, overweight driver replied. The taxi lurched forward with scant regard for anything that might have been in its way. A few minutes later they were making decent speed along the M4. Fortunately the traffic was light. She stared out the window, really not wanting to get into a conversation with the driver.

Just the fact that she was a passionate supporter of Barcelona meant that she had no wish to discuss the relatively new Premier League, especially not if he was an Arsenal supporter – which he was, according to the tattoo on his left arm, and the red and white scarf on the passenger seat.

“You ‘ere on holiday, luv?”

“Business,” she replied absently.


“Yeah.” Fortunately, he took the hint and didn’t engage her in any more questions. Thirty minutes later they finally pulled to a stop outside the restaurant. The door was opened for her, and she stepped out.

“Miss,” the doorman said, grabbing her suitcase as a matter of course.

“Can you tell Jonathan his god child is here?” she asked, as she turned and paid the cabbie. She tipped him twenty percent as an apology for her rudeness, and he appeared happier as he pulled around.

She turned and was immediately embraced.

“Calista!” her god father welcomed her. “I didn’t expect you until much later!”

“I got an earlier flight,” she said with a smile. “It’s not a problem?”

“Of course not, you can prop up my bar for a bit. It will give you a chance to see Lord Potter, the man I want you to work for.”

“Yeah, I’m really grateful for this opportunity,” she said with the brightest smile she could produce. “I needed to get out of there!”

“I know. How is Phillipe?”

“Well, apart from the fact that he still talks about the three weeks you two spent together in Sitjes in the seventies, he’s great.”

Jonathan coughed politely. “Those were an interesting few weeks,” he agreed. “Come.”

She followed him into the restaurant and ignored the looks she got, as not many people turned up to this restaurant on a Saturday night in jeans, a t-shirt and a battered brown leather jacket. The fact that the jacket was a present from Jonathan was one of the two reasons she was wearing it. The other being that she adored it.

She took a seat and the bottle of beer that was placed in front of her. “Thanks,” she said as she drank from the bottle. She appreciated the fact that Jonathan was allowing her the liberty to do so – she bet they didn’t sell much beer here.

“He’s here!” Jonathan whispered, and managed to change from her god father to the Maître D’ of the best restaurant in London in the blink of an eye.

The first to enter was a very good looking lady of Asian descent, but it was the second who managed to dominate all the attention in the room just by entering it. He wasn’t classically handsome, but he carried himself with the sort of power and self-belief that came only from having been tested and come out on top.

She knew he was a national fighting champion, and while her god-father was non-magical, she was a witch. She could sense his incredible magical power, and really quite liked the feeling of coiled strength it gave off. It seemed that the name wasn’t a coincidence – that the Boy-Who-Lived had somehow grown up into a very nice looking piece of male.

“Yes,” she murmured to herself. As always, Jonathan was right, this was exactly what she needed.

Harry stretched as he dressed quickly. He was wearing one of his new suits, and looked at himself in the mirror. He smiled. He’d come a long way since the small child who had entered Hogwarts only four years of real time ago.

Sirius was having a quiet evening with Remus and a bottle of whiskey. They were going to have a party next week, but for now, Sirius just wanted to come to terms with the fact that he now officially had his life back.

Harry had also arranged for him to visit some psychologists. There had to be quite a few problems remaining from being incarcerated in Azkaban for so very long, followed by a year on the run, and then being confined to what sounded like a terrible home.

He strolled out of his bedroom, to a couple of wolf-whistles from Cedric and George.

He grinned at them.

“My father is expecting you,” Cho said. “Do you want me to come?”

Harry shook his head. “I might not be back. I’ve not been able to get a hold of Kate for the little trip I’m having with Gabrielle tomorrow. I’m going to stop by her place after the meeting with your father.” He turned to his bodyguards, “I promise that I’ll send a call for help if anything happens this time – I’m in a far less destructive mood.” He shot a wink at Gabrielle, waved to the others, and Apparated away as Dawn once again lowered the wards for him.

He appeared in a large drawing room. An elderly oriental looking man was sat on a dark red leather chair. Next to him, standing slightly behind the armchair was a younger man who had a faint resemblance to Cho.

Harry inclined his head. He knew that he was dealing with a shark here, and he wasn’t going to show any fear. “A pleasure to meet you, Mr Chang.”

The old man nodded. “My son, Han.”

Harry nodded at him. “Have you eaten? I’ve had a busy day and it might be more comfortable for us to meet on neutral ground.”

The man looked at him for a long moment, before he nodded sharply. He clapped his hands once. “Mei Lin,” he called.

A beautiful young woman entered the room. Han’s eyes seemed to be locked to her form. He couldn’t fault Han, really. She was wearing a short-sleeved cheongsam in bright red, with a gold-coloured sun pattern repeated over it. The outfit hinted at everything, and highlighted her eyes and long dark hair.

“This is Mei Lin,” the old man grunted sourly. “I was ordered to allow her to attend.”

“Do excuse him,” Mei said softly, her voice was musical. “I’m afraid that he hasn’t quite entered the twentieth century yet. I am attached to the business development office, and when Chen mentioned that you were coming, I invited myself along. And when Chen refused, I’m very afraid my superiors may have been far more insistent.”

“Why?” Harry asked, keeping his voice neutral.

Mei laughed softly. “Why? Why, after your unique demonstration of the pensive projector today.”

Harry smiled slowly. “Shall we?” he asked. He pulled out a small piece of velvet rope from his pocket and held it out. “If you would all touch it.”

Chen Chang grunted and moved to his feet, as Han moved forward. As the three others touched it, Harry turned it into a Portkey, and they vanished, arriving in the alley to the side of the restaurant. He led the others to the entrance, and entered.

“Lord Potter,” Jonathan greeted him effusively.

“Jonathan,” Harry said back, with a brief wink. He was a little surprised, as he didn’t remember giving Jonathan his title, but a moment’s thought pointed the finger at the lawyers from GBC having spilled the metaphorical beans.

“Your table is ready, of course,” Jonathan said, preceding them to a quiet corner.

“Thank you,” Harry said, as he sat Mei, and ensured that the others were sitting before he sat down himself.

“Where are the menus?” Han demanded.

Harry looked at him for a long moment. He contemplated insulting the youngster, but decided it probably wasn’t worth it, no matter how much fun it would be. “After the wine, we will be given them,” he said softly. As he finished, Richard, the sommelier, appeared.

“Lord Potter, I have a simply marvellous white. I do believe it is almost as good as the red from your own vineyard.” He poured a small amount from a bottle that seemed to magically find itself in his hands.

Harry tasted it quickly, not making a production of it. The wine was fruity and rich, and had an extremely pleasant aftertaste. “As always, Richard, your taste is exquisite.”

Richard seemed to glow for a second, before he expertly poured everyone a glass, and left the bottle in a silver bucket on a stand next to Harry.

“You must be very proud of Cho,” Harry said, looking at the old man. He glanced briefly at Mei. “His daughter.”

“I am,” the old man grunted.

“She is doing very we –” Mei started.

“So, Harry,” Han interrupted. “This –”

Before he could continue, Harry returned the favour, by cutting him off. “The time for business is after dinner, not before,” he said icily.

The old man turned to Han and said something extremely sharply in Chinese to Han. Han flushed and leaned back.

Cho’s father looked at Harry for a long moment, but didn’t say anything further.

“Mr Chang,” Harry said slowly, causing the man to look at him. He met the pale grey eyes. “Do you want a partnership?”

Chang stared back at him, his face expressionless; nothing in his eyes giving him away, it was only the very faintest of movements that gave Harry a hint as to what he was thinking.

“Maybe in twenty years you will deal with me,” he grunted. “You will deal with Han, now.”

Harry smiled at him respectfully, thought about making an impolite observation about the unlikelihood of the elder Chang lasting another twenty years, and leaned back as waiter passed them the menus. There was silence, as everyone studied the menu. When they had finished, Harry looked up, and a waiter appeared instantly. He took Mei’s order first, then the elder and younger Changs. He didn’t take Harry’s, and vanished.

“You didn’t order?” Mei asked.

“This place is one of my vices,” Harry said. “They know my tastes here, and I prefer to let the chef decide what is best. If anyone knows, it would be him.”

Mei smiled at him; her jade green eyes seemed to sparkle in the candlelight. As the two Changs didn’t seem to want to talk, he talked to the most attractive person at the table, drawing out her life story.

The food was, as always, excellent.

As soon as the last plate was removed, Han leaned forward and broke into their conversation. “Now,” he said, his voice impatient.

“That is the second time you have interrupted Mei,” Harry said gently. “You will not do it a third time.”

Han growled softly at him.

“Did Cho tell you why I asked to meet you?” he asked the elder Chang.

As the old man didn’t respond, Han said, “A business venture. You need us.”

“Ahh,” Harry said softly. “That is where the breakdown in communication has occurred. I did ask Cho to be as polite as possible, as the last thing I wanted was my own bluntness to be attributed to her.” He turned to Han and glared at him, putting the irritation he still felt over the events of the previous twenty-four hours into it. “I do not need you at all,” he said in a low voice. “It would be easier with you, but without you it would simply take me an extra two years to get what I want.”

“You will not get into China without us.”

Harry noticed the faintest of smirks dance over Mei’s face for the briefest of seconds.

“Then I suspect that China will come to me eventually,” Harry replied. “Of course, she might not, and I will lose potential sales. I would rather that happen, than me to deal with someone so patently unready to do business with the serious players.”

“How dare you?” Han said, moving to his feet. “You have no idea who you are dealing with!”

“Sit!” Harry ordered, lacing his voice with magic. “You will not make a scene in my restaurant. Now, be quiet, and let your betters talk.” His earlier attempts to keep his temper had flown out the window. He looked at the old man. “Cho works for me,” he said tightly. “If anything happens to her, it will be you I come for.” He let his power show, but only in his eyes, trying to see what effect it would give.

It was a struggle to focus his power so tightly, but he kept that struggle in the back of his eyes.

The old man managed to keep eye contact for an impressive fifteen seconds, before he sighed deeply. He stood. “We will do as we are told. Come, Han.”

The two walked out, one looked stopped and older than he had been a few minutes ago, the other stomping out in a barely controlled rage, leaving Harry alone with Mei.

“You impressed him,” Mei said. “He thought tonight would be a fine time to allow his son to take the lead. He has perhaps learnt that there is a time and a place to allow your heir apparent to act in your place, and this was neither.”

Harry smiled faintly. “Draco Dormiens Nunquam Titillandus.”

“Which means?”

“Never tickle a sleeping dragon.”

“An apt piece of advice,” Mei laughed softly. “Would you mind telling me your plans?”

Harry smiled and agreed. He told her the rough outline he had given others, and what he planned to do in the future.

After he had finished, Mei whistled slowly. “China will help you everyway she can,” she promised, “part of my job is finding new business opportunities. Everyone at the office who saw the pensieve memory of your technology was incredibly impressed. You should visit China, it is a beautiful country.”

“I am coming to China soon,” Harry replied. “I qualified for the World Kick Boxing championship.”

Mei looked shocked for a second, before she smiled. “I’ll see if I can be assigned as your translator,” she murmured. “It would be a good excuse to go home.”

Harry smiled at her.

Mei looked at her watch. “It’s time for good girls to be heading home,” she said with a grin and a wink.

Harry stood as she did. He shook her hand, “It’s been a pleasure meeting you.”

“Likewise, My Lord,” she teased, before she walked out.

Harry found his gaze locked to the sway of her hips as she walked out. He had barely sat back down when Jonathan joined him with a bottle of red.

“Director Jones, Director Jones!”

Frank looked up as an intern came running in.

“Yes…” he paused, mentally searching for a name; his eyesight wasn’t good enough to read the small print on the badge. “Worthington?”

“This just came in from our Muggle office in London.”

Frank opened the envelope, and placed the first picture on the table in front of him. The others crowded around.

“That’s Chun Chang,” the intern said, showing off. “He runs an import and export business. Has some dealings with criminal elements, but nothing serious – nothing more than any other major businessman.”

He placed the second one down.

“Aww, crap,” Randy muttered.

“Who is she?” Worthington asked, before he could capture himself.

“Captain Mei Lin, from Guóānbù,” he sighed. “The Ministry of State Security. Just where the bloody hell is our special operative?”

“Two hours from Heathrow.”

“Fuck,” he sighed. “And the ideas on how to get her in?”

Silence was his only reply.

Harry knocked on the door to Kate’s apartment, not really expecting her to be home on a Saturday night.

“Come in,” she called. “It’s about time you got here!”

Harry moved in. “I didn’t know I was expected.”

“Harry!?” Kate asked, her head appearing out a door. “What are you doing here!?”

“Seeing you?”

Kate sighed. “Make it quick.”

“You’ve not been returning my calls,” he said, as she followed her in to the bedroom. There was a suitcase on the bed, and she was packing.

“It’s been fun, but it’s over, I’ve done my job,” Kate said cheerfully.

Harry blinked. “What!?”

“You heard me, run along, please. I’ve got to pack.”

Harry didn’t move. “I think I’d like a bit more of an explanation.”

“Got a good job,” Kate said. “Going to be away for months. Need to leave yesterday.”

“Kate,” Harry said softly.

She didn’t turn around.

“Look at me,” he snapped.

Kate’s hair flew as her head turned toward him, and he looked at her eyes. “Why?”

“Why what?”

“Why are you doing this? We’ve got something, Kate.”

“What we have,” Kate said clearly, “is business; an employer – employee relationship. Your people hired me, I delivered exceptional service and taught you a few extra things, and for all this I was well paid. Now it’s over, and I have a new job.”

“You don’t have to do this. There is another option.”

“And do what?”

“Well, I was hoping you’d move into protection. My bodyguards have asked me to look at their plans, and you’d fit in properly. You can already dance so learning to fight wouldn’t be that hard, and you could keep the dating part as you protect male clients, you just wouldn’t have to sleep with them. You’d be perfect.”

Kate paused and smiled at him brightly. “What a wonderful idea, and everything will be great and wonderful and there will be free puppies for everyone,” she squealed, clapping her hands under her chin. “And the dirty whore gets a new chance at life, and Harry gets what he wants and everything works out with kittens and rainbows.

“Fuck you, Harry. Fuck you and the way everything always comes up Potter. Fuck you and the way you can do whatever you want. Well, you know what? I’m not a little project for you.”

“A little project?” Harry yelled back. “What the hell do you mean by that? I’ve not said anything before this evening.”

“Not verbally,” Kate yelled back, “but I could tell that you wanted to.”

“What man wouldn’t?”

“You want the deep dark secret, Harry? You want the reasons that Kate Pastwa became a high priced whore?

“I’ll bet you think it was something bad that happened when I was a dancer. Hell no, I was making it, but it was a lot of hard work, and you had to sleep with the right people to get ahead.” She sneered, “Like little Annie, anyway a friend told me about how I could make a few extra bucks by going out on a date with someone.

“He was around fifty, rich, charming, and I drank too much champagne. When I woke up in the morning I was a little sore, and there was the equivalent of five thousand dollars on my bed. Five grand, for a night’s work. And I didn’t have to kill myself training, or sleep with some narcissistic asshole to get in the door.

“I swore there and then that I’d never work for anyone again, I’d never be owned. I’d work my own way, and that is damn well what I am trying to do.”

“I’ve never tried to own you,” Harry stated forcefully.

Kate sneered at him.

“I’ve not complained about your job, nor have I even really thought about it in anything more than an abstract way. I have never tried to own anyone, nor have I tried to control you. I know what you are like, which is why I came up with what I thought a fair compromise. Clearly my mistake. So what do you want, Kate?”

“I want you to walk out the door, and never fucking look back.”


“Fucking leave, Harry. The person you thought I am was paid for by Fred and George.”

“Bollocks,” Harry snapped back.

Just for tonight, can we pretend ?” she said in a mocking voice. “Fucking gag me.”

“Liar,” Harry whispered. “Look, let’s keep the status quo then. You sleep with other men, and I’ll do the same.”

“Oh you’d like that, wouldn’t you,” she sneered. “A chance to get into the knickers of that French whore, or maybe it’s her little sister you like. So young and loyal, I know she’d do anything for you.”

Harry felt his heart freeze, and he smiled faintly. He nodded to her. “Congratulations, you found the correct button to push, very well done. Goodbye.”

He turned and walked out, Apparating away from the building and away from his childish dreams.

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Author Notes:

This chapter was hard to write - especially the last scene. It doesn't help that I've got plenty of distractions outside of fanfiction at the moment.

While not relevant, to make it clear, Harry did flood the Minister's house with apple sauce. I guess he has plausible deniability if nothing else. "What? You are accusing me of flooding the Minsitry house with apple sauce? Really?"

Some continuation of the theme from the last chapter - that someone who does what Harry did, in London - which is the suveilance capital of the world, won't be able to hide from the Muggle world.

The Americans (and everyone else) are still making the same mistake - ascribing Dawn's power to Harry. He cast the spells, but only he knows that he was more of a conduit than anything else.

I went to Sitjes for the first time a few years ago - and boy did I feel inadequate. So many good looking men with beach bodies, and me the traditional pasty English programmer with the extra luggage around the waist. (The extra luggage has mostly gone these days, sadly, the pasty English part remains the same).

Harry suggest neutral ground to the Changs, and then took them to a restaurant he owned. That amused me as I wrote it.

I kept all the Chinese names "Firstname Surname" deliberately here, just for clarity more than anything else - they are in England and dealing with an Englishman - no need to add complexity.

Kate has a new job, that involves cruising around some beautiful islands for six months. I'm of the opinion that the back story that she gave wasn't entirely true - and that her motivations weren't as clear as she made them out to be.

There will be a little of the fall-out from this in the next chapter (including why they got back together) - but that is the end of Kate - who was a far more popular character than I expected.