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From: Siri

To: Remi

Subject: Snape

Maybe he isn’t quite that bad.   Likes popcorn.



From: The disbelieving werewolf

To: The masticating mutt

Subject: Re: Snape

Of course — popcorn being the best judge of a person, right?

I was more interested in last night’s Prophecy than your relationship with Snape — and calling him Snape is much easier to read than Snivellus.

You have worked out what the Prophecy means, right?


From: You’ve used that one before

To: Him with a bad memory

Subject: Re: Re: Snape

It’s easier to type; I’ll grant you that.  

The Prophecy? Yeah — Harry fights Voldemort, Harry wins, Harry and Ginny get married, and I get a whole new breed of Potters to corrupt.



From: the forgetful one

To: the forgettable one

Subject: Re: Re: Re: Snape

Moving on swiftly.

As for the Prophecy, it means that Harry is the *ONLY* one who can kill Voldemort.   That no matter what we do, we can’t stop Harry having to take a life.

Sighing Remus

From: The embarrassed one

To: The learned one

Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Snape


Bugger, bugger, bugger, bugger.




From: The amused one

To: The amusing one

Subject: Re[lots]: Snape

My feelings exactly.   Well, I guess we have to make sure we’re there to help him deal with it.   A word with Ginny might be a good idea.   I’m sure it hasn’t passed her notice either.

And speaking of her, that was a hell of a performance last night.   I got goosebumps when she floated up and spoke in that unearthly voice.   Of course, I happened to see Fred and George casting the spells to help, but all the same…


From: He who misses details

To: He who sees details

Subject: Re: Re[lots]: Snape

Actually, it was after that little performance that got me going.   Seeing Harry standing there looking so mature, taking command of the Order, well, it kinda made me a little upset.

I’m not comparing him to James again, but last night, I couldn’t help but think what if?   If James had lived, he would have been the next head of the Order, not Harry.   James was destined for greatness, and Voldemort killed him.


wagging tail

From: Remus

To: Sirius

Subject: James

I know what you mean, especially in the dim light last night.   He could have been James, and Ginny could have been Lily, but the illusion was only for a second.   I’m not convinced that James would have ended up the leader, much as I loved him.   Haven’t you noticed that Harry and Dumbledore share something incredibly deep in their magic, and James, as powerful as he was, didn’t have it?


From: Let’s not be serious

To: Other Marauder

Subject: Re: James

You could be right.   Still, let’s not get dragged down.   Last night we found out we had hope — we found that Harry really can be a leader.  I’d follow him to hell and back, and we found that when he picks friends, he picks the best.

We should see if we can meet him for dinner tomorrow.


See, still no more Sirius jokes

From: Disbelieving

To: Padfoot

Subject: Jokes


Then Harry really has pulled off the impossible…

Should I point out that his forcing you to overcome your enmity with Severus wasn’t his prank?

You want to Mmail him about meeting up tomorrow?


From: Disbelieving as well

To:   He-who-knows-too-much

Subject: Re: Jokes

Okay, now I’m groaning.

Yeah, I’ll Mmail him.

I’d had such a good day as well.


whining pitifully

From: Uncle Sirius

To: Harry

Subject: Tomorrow

Harry old boy,

Hope you had a good day — and that you didn’t spend too much time snogging Ginny.

Anyway, Remus and I thought we’d pop by tomorrow and join you and Ginny for dinner.

Oh, and if I promise on Moony’s grave never to do a Sirius/serious joke again, will you drop the prank?

The Adorable Padfoot

Hopeful woof

From: Fred (or is it George)

To: The Boy-Who’s-Snogging-Our-Sister

Subject: HAOBb.

Harry, when you get a second, can you pop down to the shop, we need to give you an update on our progress.

George (Or Fred)

Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes — coming soon to Diagon Alley

Minerva McGonagall picked up a cup of tea and surveyed the Great Hall in front of her.   As they often did, her eyes rested on the Gryffindor table.   Hermione, Ron, and Ginny were deep in conversation, while the children around them were talking in low voices, trying not to interfere.

It was obvious from looking at them that the three, when Harry was not around, spoke in his voice.   Even the seventh years cast the occasional glance at them, making sure that their attention wasn’t needed.

She lowered the cup, and moved her eyes to the Hufflepuff table, when a scream that tried to shatter her soul erupted into the Hall.   Her eyes flew back to the source of the sound — Ginny Weasley — and she watched in horror as the girl grabbed her necklace before fainting.

The scream echoed around the hall, imprinting itself on her brain, in a way she would never forget.   It sounded like someone had ripped her heart out.

She turned to Albus to see him appear next to the girl.   She wasn’t quite sure how he had moved, and she wondered if it was the same way that she had heard Ginny describe Harry’s sudden movement.

Albus bent and then turned.   A fire appeared in front of him, and with a great voice, shouted, "Aberforth Dumbledore!"

"Albus?" Another head appeared in the fire, the family resemblance obvious.

"What do those necklaces you gave Harry and Ginny do?" Albus demanded, power — and worry — emanating from him.

"They link the two together on a magical level.   Why?"

"Ginny has just fainted after screaming and grabbing her necklace."

The head in the fire paused for a second, and then seemed to pale.   "Find Harry.   Now.   I’m on my way."

Albus turned, the fire dying behind him, and Minerva, accompanied by some of the other members of staff, joined him on the floor.   Madam Pomfrey was already on her knees next to the girl, checking her out — Hermione was kneeling next to her, acting as a nurse.

"Harry is in Hogwarts," Dumbledore stated in an incontrovertible voice.   "Unfortunately, I don’t know where.

"I want this school searched from top to bottom.   Prefects…"   Albus’ voice faded as he turned to face Hermione.   "What have I forgotten?" he asked with a sigh.

Hermione, who had been looking at him with a confused expression, clapped her hands together.   "Dobby."

"Yes, Miss Grangy?" Dobby asked, as the house-elf appeared with a pop.  

"Listen carefully, Dobby," Hermione said, still on her knees.   "We think that Harry is in trouble.   We know he is in school but don’t know where.   We need to find him urgently."

Dobby’s eyes grew wide, and a look of horror appeared on his face.   He turned and clapped his hands urgently.   Two dozen house-elves appeared in a series of quick pops.

"Harry Potter sir is in trouble," Dobby told them, his voice firm.   "Find Harry Potter sir now and report directly to Dobby!"

The house-elves seemed to nod in unison, and vanished with a pop.

"The house-elves find Harry Potter quickly," Dobby said.   "Dobby will look too."   With that, the house-elf vanished as well.

"Does Hermione make you feel inferior at times as well?" McGonagall asked Professor Sprout next to her in a soft whisper.

"All the time."

"Thank Merlin," McGonagall replied in relief.   "I thought it was just me."

"The house-elves have found Harry Potter, sir," Dobby said, popping back into the great hall.   "Unconscious in Severus Snape’s dungeon.   Professor Snape is out as well."

"Thank you, Dobby," Dumbledore said.

Hermione and Ron didn’t wait; they were already running out of the door, heading toward the Professor’s Room near the Slytherin common room.

Minerva checked that Ginny was being looked after with a glance and begand follow them until she realised that she could simply Apparate there.   She tried, vanished, and reappeared outside Snape’s door.   Albus appearing a second later.  

"All the professors’ quarters have wards," Dumbledore explained, as Hermione and Ron appeared, slightly out of breath.   "I can get in but can’t get them out without opening the door."

"What are you waiting for?" Ron asked.

Dumbledore frowned softly, "I have problems opening Severus’ door," he admitted a little embarrassedly.

He hissed at the door and waited.   He sighed and tried again.  

"It’s in Parseltongue?" Hermione asked.

Dumbledore nodded, and tried for a third time.  

"The professors’ quarters are the most secure in the castle," McGonagall explained quietly.   "They have to be to keep out the pranksters."

With another try, the door opened, and Albus ran in.

Harry and Severus were on the floor completely inert.

Hermione moved over to Harry and with a trembling hand touched his neck.   "There’s a pulse," she whispered, closing her eyes in relief.   "It’s faint, but it’s there."

"Right," Dumbledore said, picking up Severus.   "Min, pick up Harry, Apparate him to the Hospital Wing."

"We’ll see you there," Hermione said.   "Come on, Ron."

The two students sprinted out of the room as Minerva waved her wand at Harry, levitating him out of the room.  

Albus followed her, not using his own wand.

As soon as she was clear of the wards, she wrapped her arms around the boy and took a deep breath.   She’d never been good at dual Apparating.   She closed her eyes and pushed them both to their destination.

They arrived a second later with a pop.  

"Put him here, Min," Pomfrey ordered, pointing to a bed next to the one Ginny was already lying in.

"How is she?"

"Unconscious, but fine.   Put Snape next to Harry, Albus."

"What can you tell us?" Albus asked.

"Shh," The school nurse responded, casting spells.   "Hermione," she said, as the girl arrived through the door.   "Can you please look after Ginny?"

Hermione nodded, and Minerva moved out of the way as the younger witch went back to casting monitoring spells at the girl.

"What happened?" Ron asked, his voice sounding worried.

"We don’t know any more, yet," Albus said with a sigh.   "I will go and reassure the students that Harry is alive.   Min, I presume you’re staying?"


She watched Albus walk out the door and sat across the room out of the way.   She was a little surprised when Ron joined her a second later.

"I feel so helpless," he whispered.

"I understand, Mr Weasley," Minerva replied, just as quietly.

"He’s Harry, you know — he’s the hero.   He’s not supposed to spend half his life unconscious.   And my sister, she’s supposed to be happy with him, not cry out like her soul was ripped in two.   It scares me, you know, that they are so close, that they are so vulnerable to each other."

"You seem to have accepted their relationship now," McGonagall prompted gently.   She’d not really had Ron open up to her before and was curious to see if she could find something deeper than just the Gryffindor exterior that had been most obvious.

"Once I got over my reflex reaction, yeah.   It makes sense — they’ve both been through a lot, both been possessed by Voldemort.   When I stopped and took the time to really look at them, they are different when they’re together.   He loses that wariness and distance, and he smiles.   She’s the same; it’s like she’s finally found the peace she’s been searching for since her first year."

"You said Voldemort."

"I did," Ron agreed.   "He’s responsible for everything, you know?   It’s his fault my best friend is unconscious again; it’s his fault my sister is lying there like a corpse."

"How do you know that?"

"Because no one else can touch Harry."

"It could have been something to do with Professor Snape."   She knew that it wasn’t but wanted to see how he would respond.

Ron sighed softly and turned to look at her directly.   "No, it isn’t.   Harry trusts the Professor, and that’s good enough for me."

"Is it?"

"It is now.   I’m not going to doubt him again.   I’ve been in the cold, and I won’t go back there."

"That almost sounds like you are growing up."

"I’m trying," Ron agreed with a sigh.   "You know the Quidditch match doesn’t matter?   We’re not going to make them break up when we win."

"You seem very convinced that you will win."

Ron laughed softly, and looked around.   "I’m not," he admitted.   "Not at all.   This year especially, Harry’s been thinking ahead and planning things through.   He wouldn’t have put himself in a situation where he might lose.   At least, not without a back up plan."

McGonagall smiled and nodded slowly.  

They both turned as Hermione said, "She’s waking up."

The door to the infirmary opened, and Aberforth Dumbledore entered, looking slightly out of breath.   "It is times like this that I wish I had young Mr Potter’s power," he complained.   "So, what do we have here?"

"I have no idea what is wrong with Severus and Harry," Madam Pomfrey said with a sigh.   "They are alive, but I can’t get any sort of reaction from them.   And Ginny’s waking up."

Abe nodded and moved next to the pale girl.  

Ginny opened her eyes and gasped, "Harry!" before breaking into hysterical tears.

Next to Minerva, Ron moved forward, brushing past the older man, and hugged his sister tightly.   "Its okay, Ginny, he’s alive," he reassured her.

Ginny froze and then slowly leant back to look at her brother.  "Alive?" she whispered, tears still streaming down her cheeks.

"See?" Ron said, nodding to the left.

Ginny scrambled out of Ron’s arms, and stumbled over to Harry’s bed, checking for herself that he was still breathing.

"We don’t know what’s wrong with him," Ron said softly, moving next to her and putting his hand on her shoulder.

"I can’t feel him," Ginny said, lowering her head so that it was resting on his chest.   "He’s gone."

"There’s still hope, Ginny," Aberforth said softly.   "He still breathes."

"But he’s gone."

"You mean you can’t feel him anymore?"

Ginny nodded slightly.   "Since you gave us these necklaces, I could always feel him, you know?   He was always there in the back of my mind, so I hardly noticed him.   Then suddenly, it was gone."   Her voice grew louder and louder as her emotions began to fray.   "He wasn’t there anymore!   I couldn’t feel him anymore!"

"Sleep," Abe said softly, resting his hand on the girl’s head.   Ginny dropped into sleep without a further sound.

Abe walked over to Harry and placed his hand on his forehead.   "His mind is there," he said slowly.   "That’s a good sign."

"Any idea why he is unconscious?" Hermione asked.

"No idea at all," Abe sighed.   "Do we know what they were doing?"

"Not a thing.   I know that Snape wanted to talk to Harry about something, but I have no idea what.   Harry was planning on meeting us later."

"Well," Albus said slowly.   "I guess the only thing we can do is wait."   He absently conjured a comfortable chair and sat down in it.

From: Remus

To: Sirius

Subject: Where the hell are you?

There’s an emergency.   Where the bloody hell are you?


From: Sirius

To: Remus

Subject: Re: Where the hell am I?

London.   I’ll meet you at the Shack immediately.


From: Fred

To: George

Subject: Bugger

Well, old boy, I take it you’ve heard the news?


Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes — coming soon to Diagon Alley

From: George

To: Fred

Subject: Re: Bugger

I have indeed.   I really hope they find out what is wrong with him, quickly.

Do you think we should delay the plans for the Butterbeer?


Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes — coming soon to Diagon Alley

From: Freddie

To: Georgie

Subject: Plans

Actually, no, I don’t think we should postpone them at all.   Harry wouldn’t want us to, and we have to presume that he is going to live through this.


Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes — coming soon to Diagon Alley

From: George P Wildebeast

To: Frederick Von Sexheimer

Subject: Re: Plans

And if he doesn’t?


Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes — coming soon to Diagon Alley

From: Baron Von Sexheimer

To: Count Wildebeast

Subject: If he doesn’t…

Then we dust off the old plan and take care of business ourselves.


Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes — coming soon to Diagon Alley

From: Slightly nervous

To: The brave one

Subject: Taking care of business

Well, I think you’re right.   The prophecy might state that only Harry can kill him, but I’m not sure if I really believe that.   I’ve yet to see a problem that can’t be solved by a few hundred pounds of explosives.

So, we use that spell that turns our blood into nitro-glycerine, get "caught" by the Death Eaters, and when we’re taken to Voldemort for questioning, we set ourselves off, take out as many of them as possible, and leave a humongous plume of smoke and fire as our epitaph.


Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes — coming soon to Diagon Alley

From: You ain’t the only one

To: The only person I could do this with

Subject: Improvements

Okay, that plan was good last year, but we’re better now.   Let’s throw in some improvements.   There’s got to be a way we can use this to promote WWW.   Obviously, we’re leaving the shop to the girls, so we have to make sure that they will be set for life.

Perhaps we could add some charges so that, when the explosion goes off, we have a huge sign saying, "This Death Eater annihilation was bought to you by WWW."

What do you think?


Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes — coming soon to Diagon Alley

From: Co-genius

To: Co-genius

Subject: Re: Improvements

That’s a cool idea.   It wouldn’t be too hard.   If we tie the explosions into our magical cores, we should be able to do what ever the hell we want, as we’re dying anyway.   Lightning would be good — as some sort of tribute to Harry.

All the same, I still rather hope that we don’t have to go through with this, that Harry gets better, marries Ginny, and provides us with a whole new brood of powerful youngsters we can corrupt.


Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes — coming soon to Diagon Alley

From: Awe-filled

To: Awe inspiring

Subject: Kids

What a wonderful idea.   The kids of the two most powerful people we know should be wonderful in their own right.   Think of the pranks we can teach them.

It will take some work on our part, but if we act a little more grown-up around Harry and Ginny, we should be able to persuade them to let us baby sit.   And once we do, then we’ll be able to show them the light at a young age — mold their young minds into the proper framework to carry on the proud Weasley tradition.

I’ve got a few ideas for the sort of pranks a three year old can pull; I’ll see what I can put together.

Frederick Von Sexheimer

Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes — coming soon to Diagon Alley

From: Lady Nightshade

To: The serpent keeper

Subject: Voldemort


I’ve got no idea what Potter did last night, but Voldemort is in a right state.   He almost looks like some sort of Wraith.   All Lucius has told me is that he cried out ‘Potter!’ before collapsing.

You know, I’m actually excited for the first time in years.


From: Pansy Parkinson

To: Mum

Subject: News

I’ve got to make this quick… Just overheard Dean Thomas talk… It seems that Potter’s cousin is dating Thomas’ Muggle sister, and that they are both in a place called Little Whinging.   If our Lord captures them, then Potter will come crawling to him — you know how Gryffindors are.


Purity is truth

"Stupefy," Parvati Patil, Padma Patil, Luna Lovegood, Blaise Zabini, Lavender Brown, and Susan Bones said together.

Pansy barely had time to let out a strangled ‘eep’ before she was hurled into a wall and then collapsed into unconsciousness.

"Come on," Blaise said cheerfully.   "We need to get her out of the way before anyone sees us."

"Does it matter?" Lavender asked.   "I mean, everyone knows that we’re doing this for Harry, and that she’s a Death Nibbler."

Blaise paused and then grinned embarrassedly.   "Sorry," she apologised, "it’s a Slytherin habit.   If you’re doing something, you sneak around."

Padma cast a levitation spell on the fallen girl.   "Right, let’s get her to the Astronomy Tower."

The six girls surrounded the floating unconscious girl and escorted her through the school.   The few students that saw them instantly decided that they really didn’t need to know what was going on and vanished out of sight, their eyes studiously focused on the ceiling or the floor as they moved away.

Upstairs, on the roof, they tied Pansy to a hastily-constructed wooden framework, so that she was looking over the parapet and placed her wand just out of reach.

"Enervate," Blaise said, casting the spell at Pansy.

"What...?" Pansy moaned, before looking up.

"Hello, Pansy," Blaise said.   "It’s come to our attention that you’ve been a naughty girl, and we really can’t have naughty girls interfering in things that have nothing to do with them."

"What the hell are you talking about, Zabini?" Pansy demanded, her face going white.

Padma walked up and slapped the tied girl hard across the face with the back of her knuckles.   "No swearing," she said calmly.

Pansy’s tongue flicked out, tasting the blood that was creeping out of her nose.   "You hit me," she said in a shocked, disbelieveing voice.

"I did," Padma nodded.   "You are scum.   You are a vile racist, and I hate you and everything you stand for."

"Okay, sis," Parvati said, pulling her sister back slowly.   "Let’s not lose it here."

"But—" Padma complained.

"—I know, sis, I know.  I want to smack her around for a bit as well.   But we can’t do that; it would make us as bad as her."

"Semantics," Padma sniffed.   "Treating someone as they deserve does not make us as bad as her."

Parvati sighed.   "We both know that I’m not going to win a logical argument with you.   So instead of that, ask yourself if this is what Harry would do."

"No," she sighed regretfully.   "He wouldn’t."

"When I get out of here, you’ll be expelled for hitting me," Pansy shouted.

"Well, in that case, I can’t let Padma go down on her own," Susan said calmly, as she walked up to Pansy and slapped her.

"Typical Hufflepuff," Pansy sneered.  "Happy to hit someone when they can’t fight back."

"That’s right, I am a typical Hufflepuff," Susan replied.   "You deserved it, and I’m being loyal to Harry.   Just and Loyal, remember?"

"Anyway," Blaise interrupted.   "We’re getting a little fed up with you spying on us, so we invited you up here to have a go at persuading you to stop."

"I’m not going to stop, and when the Dark Lord wins, I’ll make sure you spend the rest of your lives as servant girls to the Death Eaters," Pansy snarled at her captors.

Blaise took a step forward and slapped Pansy hard.   "That is fun," she said with a smile.   "I’ve wanted to do that for years."   She looked back at Pansy.   "You really are stupid, aren’t you?   Voldemort’s not going to win.   Harry is going to win."

Pansy sniffed.   "Potter? Please."

"You don’t get it, do you?" Blaise said.   "Look at us here; we have two Gryffindors, two Ravenclaws, a Hufflepuff and a Slytherin, all working together, all doing something for a friend.   All punishing you for trying to interfere with Harry’s relationship with Ginny.  

"Who can Voldemort trust to do things like that?   No one.   Because all the Death Munchers are doing it for the wrong reasons."

"Drop dead, Zabini," Pansy snapped.

Luna pushed past Blaise and stared hard at the bound girl.   She leaned forward, ‘till she was eye to eye with the Slytherin.

Pansy spat straight in her face; Luna didn’t flinch the slightest bit.

"Excuse me a second," Lavender said, moving Luna back, and slapping Pansy hard across the face.   "I couldn’t let a Ravenclaw, a Slytherin, and a Hufflepuff have all the fun," she said cheerfully.   "Luna, please feel free to continue," she said, as she moved out of the way.

"It’s no use," Luna said dreamily.   "She believes in her petty heart that she will spend the rest of her life on her knees serving Voldemort personally."   She reached out and lightly caressed Pansy’s face.   "You’re looking forward to it, aren’t you?"

"What the hell are you talking about, you weirdo?"

Luna leaned in closer and whispered conspiratorially.   "The narbuckles. They tell me everything.   They tell me that you won’t change," she confided to the horrified Slytherin.   "They tell me that you have to die."

"What?" Pansy screeched.

"Can’t you hear them?" Luna sighed happily.   "They talk to me.   They want you to die so that they can dance in your blood.   It makes them so happy."

"Err, Luna?" Parvati asked.   "We’re not going to kill her."

"Of course we are," Luna replied innocently.   "That’s why we got her up here.   Why, look, all I have to do is cut the rope."

"You said we’d bring her up here so that we could scare her," Susan protested.   "Not commit murder."

"But her soul is already dead," Luna said happily.   "It’s all black and tar-like.   No sign of life at all."

"But — " Padma started and then shook her head.   "I knew you were a nut-job.   If you’re doing this, then I’m not hanging around to see it."

"Me neither," Parvati and Lavender agreed in unison.

"And count me out as well," Susan said.  

"Wait!" Pansy shouted, as they turned and started to walk away.   "You can’t leave me alone with her!"

"We’re not," Susan replied.   "You’ll have Blaise for company as well."

"I have to make sure Luna has an alibi," Blaise shrugged.   "You know me, Pansy dear, like a good Slytherin, death doesn’t scare me."

"But…" Pansy said, tears running down her cheek.   "You, you can’t do this."

"We’re not doing anything," Padma agreed affably.   "Loony is.   We’re just choosing not to help stop her."

"They want blood, the narbuckles do," Luna sang, as she danced merrily.   "They’re so happy they’re going to get it."   She stopped suddenly and placed her face in front of Pansy’s again.   "They don’t like you," she announced in an eerie whisper.

The four girls moved out of sight, leaving only Luna, Blaise, and Pansy.  

Luna waltzed around in front of Pansy, before grabbing a rope and using it to pull Pansy to the edge of the parapet.   "You know," she said to Blaise dreamily.   "Killing someone is a lot better than chocolate."

"Wait!" Pansy screamed.   "Please, for the love of all that is good, please wait."

"What would you know about good?" Blaise spat.   "You interfered with Harry and Ginny; you passed on secrets to the Death Eaters."

"I’ll never do it again!" Pansy screamed.

"Shhh," Luna said comfortingly.   "Screaming will only make your blood taste worse for the narbuckles, all bitter and sour.   And then they’d be unhappy.   And you don’t want that, do you?  

"It will be a quick death.   Only two seconds of fear as you fall toward the ground, before you hit it.   You should die instantly. But then again, you might not; the ground is a little soft.   But don’t worry, the narbuckles don’t mind if you’re not all the way dead.   A little dead is just as good for them."

"You’re insane," Pansy whispered.

"No, I’m not," Luna said, climbing onto the parapet so she could look into the girl’s eyes.   "I’m the only person who sees the world properly.   It’s everyone else who is insane."

"Help!" Pansy yelled.

"Quietus," Luna giggled, pulling her wand from behind her ear.   "There," she sang.   "Now you can only talk silently.   Isn’t that better?   If you beg nicely, I’ll remove it before I push you over the edge.   You do want everyone to hear your screams as you fall, right?"

"Keep her away from me," Pansy said in a harsh whisper, as if she was trying to shout.   "Please."

"Sorry," Blaise said.   "But we can’t risk you telling your parents what is happening around here, and as we can’t trust you, I’ll have to let Luna kill you."

"But I won’t tell anyone, I swear."

"I don’t believe you," Blaise said indifferently.

"I swear, on my magic, that I will never tell anyone anything that is going on at Hogwarts!"  

A bright glow came out of the wooden framework to Pansy’s left, as her wand emitted a dazzling white light.

"Did that do it?" Susan asked.

"It sure did," Padma said, walking up from her position behind Pansy.   She pulled another rope, pulling Pansy back from the parapet.

"W-w-what’s going on?" asked a bewildered Pansy as loudly as she could.   She was ignored.

"Luna, that was brilliant," Blaise said, hugging the smaller blonde.   "You were amazing."

"She’s right," Parvati agreed, as she walked over to join in the hug.   "You gave me goosebumps."

"I’m not really crazy," Luna said, looking down.

"We know," Lavender said gently.   "We’re your friends now — you’re one of us."

"Really?" Luna asked, as tears of relief ran down her face.

"Really," Susan said firmly, taking over the hug.   The Hufflepuff looked around, and smiled slightly.   "We are what Harry wants; friends from each house, working together to help him defeat Voldemort."

"What’s going on!?" Pansy tried to yell.

The six girls turned to face her, smug smiles on their faces.  

"You see," the Slytherin started, "Harry said that when the houses work together, there’s nothing we can’t do.   Parvati and Blaise came up with the plan, Susan, Lavender and Padma came up with the spells.   And Luna pulled it off to perfection.

"You, my dear," Blaise continued, "have just been completely had."

"But," Pansy said with a frown.  "Why? I mean, apart from scaring the life out me."

"Oh, we didn’t just scare you," Susan said smugly.   "We got you to cast a spell on yourself."


"‘I swear, on my magic, that I will never tell anyone anything that is going on at Hogwarts’," Susan quoted.   "The spell we came up with allowed us to make the wooden frame an extension of your wand.   We preloaded it with a binding oath spell, and let you do the rest."

"I almost want you to say something," Blaise said.   "I’d love to see how you handle life being a Squib."


"She’s not good with words when she’s stressed, is she?" Padma smirked.   "Or that bright either.   What it means, Parkinson, is that if you try and break your oath, your magic will vanish, leaving you a Squib."

Pansy looked at them, her mouth hanging open.

Lavender walked around the back and cut her free.   Pansy dropped painfully to her knees.

"I’d suggest you run along now, little girl," Parvati said coldly.   "And just so you know, we did think of killing you, but decided that Harry wouldn’t like it.   Next time, we’ll kill you on principle."

Pansy nodded and stumbled to her feet, running away.

They waited in silence for a few minutes, listening to the sound of Pansy’s frantically retreating footsteps.  

"That was really cold, Parv," Padma said with an admiring smile.

"I know," she grinned.   "I borrowed the voice from Harry.   Still, I don’t think she’ll be a problem."

"So she brought it, then?"

Blaise smiled and wrapped an arm around Luna.   "Thanks to our wonderful actress here, she fell for it hook, line, and stinker."

"Don’t you mean sinker?"

Blaise sniffed the air and then pointed to a puddle on the floor.   "I said what I meant," she grinned.

"It’s a pity that the oath spell doesn’t exist," Padma said.   "I might have a word with Hermione later to see if we really can find one.   Because it would be a very good way for us to be able to prove that others are as loyal to Harry as we are."

"It doesn’t matter if the spell exists," Luna said quietly.   "Pansy believes it exists, so others will."

"She’s right," Lavender said cheerfully.   "So, let’s go see if Harry’s awake yet.   Then we can go to lunch."

The scene inside the Hospital Wing was quiet.  

Ron and Hermione were working at a desk, Ginny was sitting next to Harry, reading from a schoolbook, and Sirius, in his Padfoot form, was curled up, asleep at Harry’s feet.

"A boy and his dog," Remus said with a slight smile.

"Sirius wouldn’t sleep last night," Ginny said with a shrug.   "He wouldn’t till I woke up."

"I think that Sirius only really trusts you with Harry," Remus said with a shrug of his own.   "It’s nothing conscious on his part.   But he’s devoted to Harry and knows that you are as well."

Ginny lent forward and lightly scratched Sirius’ head.   "I hate this waiting," she sighed.

"We all do," Hermione agreed.   "But while he’s breathing, there’s hope.   And we’ll find something, Gin, I promise."

Ginny nodded and smiled wryly.   She reached out and stroked Harry’s hair back softly.   "I hate seeing him like this," she whispered.   "I hate seeing him so still.   He’s Harry.   He should be smiling and laughing.   He should be looking at me like I’m his world, not lying in a hospital ward."

Sirius opened one eye and woofed his agreement softly.

The Brothers Dumbledore entered the room together.   "I do have some news," Albus said, as he took a seat.   "It seems that what ever happened to Severus and Harry, happened to Voldemort as well.   From what one of my spies tells me, Voldemort seems to have reverted to how he was just after he was resurrected.   So I can only presume that there was some form of magical conflict between the three of them."

"So we have some time for Harry to get better?" Ron asked.

"I hadn’t thought of it that way, Mr Weasley," Dumbledore said slowly.   "But you are quite right.   Voldemort will be in no shape to attack."

Sirius growled softly.

"Abe," Ginny asked softly.   "How do our necklaces work?"

Abe shrugged lightly.   "They use your magic to communicate with each other, why?"

Ginny froze, a frown appearing on her face at the words.   "They are not magical themselves?" she asked.   "They use our magic?"


Ginny jumped off the bed accidentally kicking Sirius, who barked and jumped to his feet, changing forms, and looked at Ginny.

The red-haired witch pulled out her wand and pointed it at Harry.

"Ginny?" Hermione asked slowly.

"Not now," Ginny said.   She closed her eyes and reached for the memories she had of Harry growing up.   She let them fuel her temper, as she pulled her magic together.   She pointed her wand at Harry and cast a bolt of pure magic at him.

Harry jerked, before going still again.   Ginny growled under her breath, and cast the same spell, again.   Twice more.   Suddenly, she dropped to her knees and burst into tears.   She clutched the necklace and smiled at the others.   "He’s back," she whispered, before fainting from exhaustion.

Sirius moved first, catching her before she hit the floor.   He carried her to Harry’s bed and placed her next to him.   He quickly removed her shoes and gently tucked her under the covers.

"What?" he asked, as everyone looked at him.   "They both need this," he said, his tone challenging anyone to disagree.

"What just happened?" Ron asked.

"Your sister is very insightful," Hermione said with a smile.   "She puts things together quicker than I do."

"Put what together?" Remus asked.

"Ginny couldn’t feel Harry. We just found out that Harry was in a fight with Voldemort, and that Voldemort was in a bad state.   Ginny then found out that the necklaces use their magic.   The logical conclusion is that Harry used all his magic in the fight, and there was nothing left to power the necklaces.   So Ginny used her own magic to give some to Harry," Hermione explained

"Oh," Ron said slowly.   "And she’s unconscious because, knowing Harry, he needed a lot of magic?  So why isn’t he awake?"

"I’d suggest," Abe said slowly, "that Ginny merely kick-started Harry’s magic, gave it enough to start building on, rather than giving him enough to function normally."

"Like restarting a heart after a heart attack?" Hermione asked.

Abe walked over and waved his hands above Harry.   "Exactly.   And when they wake, I owe them both an apology.   I’m afraid I didn’t think about the fact that I couldn’t feel Harry’s magic — I thought he was just unconscious."

"Should we do Snape as well?" Ron asked.

"I’ll do it," Dumbledore said with a smile.   "I suspect that if Ginny had just told us, we could all have helped, and she wouldn’t be unconscious."

"Oh please," Ron snorted.   "Tell my sister not to give Harry something? You’d have better luck persuading Voldemort to become a brush salesman."

Sirius sniggered.   "Can I interest you in a broom?" he asked, his voice sibilant.   "It comes with a free ‘I-hate-everyone’ charm."

Albus pointed his hand out at Snape, and bolts of light flew into the professor’s chest.  

"That should do it, Albus," Abe said with a smile.   "And as we can now expect them to wake up later, I’m going to see the twins.   I need to make sure everything’s on track for our launch."

"Abe, thanks for helping," Albus said sincerely.

"It’s people like Harry and Ginny that give me hope for the future," Abe said softly.   "This time we’ll win, and we will end this mess permanently."   He nodded at the others and walked out.

"I think I like him," Ron said.   "But does anyone in your family ever say what they mean?"

Albus roared with laughter.   "Not if we can help it, Mr Weasley," he said cheerfully.   "Might I suggest that you all go and get something to eat?   I’ll stay here for a while."

Hermione nodded and stretched.   "We’re sure about Harry?"

"If Ginny is, I am," Albus said with a smile.

Hermione nodded.   "Come on, Ron."

Ginny stretched and smiled.   She could feel Harry’s heart beat against her chest and feel his magic through her necklace.   It was faint, but it was definitely there.   She just wished that for once, just once, she could wake up with him and NOT be fully dressed.

It didn’t seem fair that Ron and Hermione got to sleep together, and she still hadn’t had more than a serious snog.

She sat up gently and brushed her hair back from her eyes.

"Good morning, Ginny," Snape said from across the room.

"Professor Snape!" Ginny cried, climbing out of bed.   "You’re awake."

"I am," he said, his teeth showing in the darkness as he gave a little smile.  

"I’ll call Professor Dumbledore," she said, searching for her shoes.

"Don’t, please, Ginny," he said.   "I’d like to talk to you alone for a bit first."

"Okay," Ginny said agreeably, moving to a chair next to him and curling up comfortably.   "What do you want to talk about, Professor Snape?"

"Severus," he said.

"Excuse me?"

"My name is Severus, Ginny.   I’d quite like it if you used it when we’re not around the other students.   Harry has my permission, as well."

"Why me?"

"Partly because I owe you an apology," he said slowly.   "And partly because I know you a lot better now."

"What do you owe me an apology for?"

"I’m afraid I made a rather rash decision that helped to cause this.   Yesterday, I invited Harry to my quarters because I had a problem that I needed help with."

Ginny nodded.

"When I was younger, I was very much in love with Bellatrix Black.   She was one of the reasons I joined the Death Eaters.   When she married Rodolphus, I became a spy for Albus.

"Bella contacted me last week, after Harry managed to remove my Dark Mark, and asked if she could switch sides."

Ginny gasped.

"As Harry is the only person who can remove the Dark Mark, I asked for his advice.   I’m afraid that Harry realised very quickly that he needs Bella."

"As a spy?" Ginny asked.

"Exactly.   He wasn’t happy about it but agreed to help me.   After a drink, he asked me an interesting question.   Did I think that we could use the same spell that joined our minds when we got rid of the Dark Mark to defeat Voldemort?"

Ginny nodded slowly.   "The idea of defeating Voldemort like that would be very attractive to Harry."

"And to me," Snape agreed.   "So I agreed, and we went, in my mind, to find Voldemort.   Unfortunately, he was waiting for us and trapped us.   He gloated for a second and then cast the Killing Curse at us."

Ginny gasped in horror.

"I thought we were going to die.   Harry thought we were going to die."

"What happened?"

Snape sighed softly.   "Would you be a dear and pass me a glass of water?"

Ginny nodded, jumping to her feet and rushing to the sink.   She returned with a glass of water.

"Sit down," Snape said gently.   "Before I continue, we need to back up a little.   Have you ever thought about Harry’s power to do whatever he thinks he can do?"

"Not really," Ginny said in a small voice.

"At one level of his psyche, Harry is highly suggestible.   If someone he trusts tells him he can do something, he takes them at their word and makes it happen.   Unfortunately, the opposite is also true."

"What do you mean?"

Snape sighed and shifted slightly.   "Voldemort told Harry that he had found spells that Harry had never dreamed of, and Harry believed him.   The spells that were binding us were not that strong, but because Harry believed he couldn’t escape, the spells were unbreakable.

"And then Voldemort cast the spell at us.   I was deeply inside Harry’s mind at the time, so I was able to follow his thoughts.   Part of Harry believed that he was going to die, and with him in that mind set, we were doomed.

"But then thoughts started flashing through his mind.   Did you know that you were the first witch he actually knew the name of?"

Ginny shook her head.

"I saw your entire history together, including what he did in the Chamber of Secrets.   I saw everything, and I saw just how much he loves you.   You are the centre of his universe, Ginny.   In a way, you are the most important person in the world, more so than Harry, because you are his inspiration, his reason for fighting, for defeating Voldemort.    

"And he didn’t want to leave you.   He knew how upset you would be, and he couldn’t do that to you.   All of this was happening so fast that I could see the spell moving toward us in slow motion.

"Two parts of Harry battled each other — the part that believed he was going to die with the part that loves you so much.   The part that doesn’t ever want to leave you."

Ginny had tears running down her cheeks as she listened to her once-hated professor explain her boyfriends heart to her.

"At the last second, his desire to live with you won, and he started to act.

"Harry could have easily protected himself from the spell, but I would have died.   I told him to do it, and he told me to shut the hell up."

Ginny choked out a laugh.

"He literally grabbed all of his own magic, and all of mine, and formed a shield in front of us.   It was the most beautiful, most incredible thing I have ever seen.   The curse bounced off the shield, and hit Voldemort, and that was pretty much the last thing I remember, ‘til I woke up here about twenty minutes ago."

"Thank you for telling me," Ginny whispered.

Snape smiled in the darkness.   "He’s an incredible young man," he said softly.   "He had a chance to get out and leave me.   And honestly, I wouldn’t have blamed him if he had.   Instead, he chose to make sure that I got out of there alive, regardless of the personal cost to himself."

"Harry sees himself as normal," Ginny said with a little sigh.   "He thinks that, in any situation, everyone else would act the same way he does.   He doesn’t see himself as being anything special.

"Excuse me for a second," Snape said.   "Could you pass me my wand; I’ve got an Mmail from Bella."

Ginny nodded and reached into a cabinet, handing her Potions professor his wand.  

"Oh, good," he smiled.   "It looks like Voldemort is in as much of a state as we are."

Ginny nodded.   "One of Professor Dumbledore’s spies said that he would need time to recover.   Which is a good thing because Harry does as well."

Snape nodded.   "I think just spending time with you will be all the rest he needs."

"I hope so," Ginny said.   "It feels like we are moving from crisis to crisis half the time with very little time to ourselves."

"So I saw," Snape agreed.   "But I can tell you that the times he spends alone with you are the most important things in his mind.   When he took you to London and walked through the gardens with you, it was his idea of heaven."

Ginny smiled slowly.   She was happy that Harry was alright, but she didn’t like the way he had tried to do something so dangerous without any support. "I am going to tell him off," she admitted.

"I know," Snape laughed.   "And I shall confess to Albus.   He will be disappointed with me and will make that very clear.   Don’t be too hard on him, though."

"I won’t be," Ginny promised.   "I just want to make sure that he thinks things through a little more before placing himself in danger."

Snape yawned softly.   "If you don’t mind, Ginny, I’m going to go back to sleep.   Please don’t tell anyone else about Bellatrix — that is between Harry and me.   I told you so you could help him deal with the decisions he has to make."

Ginny stood, gasping a little as she found that the floor was a lot colder than it had been before.   "Thanks for helping bring Harry back to me," she whispered and lightly patted his hand.

She danced over to Harry’s bed and slid in next to him.   She threw one leg over him and rested her head on his shoulder.   Snape had given her something to think about.   It was all very well — everyone playing games with Harry’s psyche for their gain, but as Voldemort had proven, it could have a negative aspect as well.  

She sighed as she realised there were a few examples she should have recognised.   Times when Harry had appeared fine after doing some complicated magic, but as soon as she had told him he must be tired, he had suddenly looked it.   If she hadn’t said it, he probably wouldn’t have been, but in his suggestible state, and the trust he had in her, he had agreed.

She was so tired that she didn’t even notice the feel of Harry’s arm moving to hold her in place.

"So," Lavender said.   "Where shall we start?"

"Well," Parvati said, as she looked around.   "The bedroom?"

There was a knock on the door, and as they opened it, four more girls trooped in.

"You weren’t planning on decorating Harry’s room without us, were you?" Susan asked cheerfully.

"It was supposed to be a secret," Parvati explained.

"There’s no such thing in Hogwarts," Blaise grinned.   "So, we’re here to help."

There was a small pop, and Dobby appeared.   "Begging Mistress’ pardon," Dobby said, bowing low and moving away.   "But what are students doing in here?"

Luna walked forward and dropped to her knees.   "This is going to be Harry’s room," she said to the house-elf.   "We are going to decorate it for him."

Dobby’s eyes went enormously wide.   "Harry Potter will live here, miss?" he squeaked.

Luna nodded, her own eyes pretty wide.

Dobby shook his head, looking visibly upset.   "No, no, no," he cried.   "Not good."

"What’s not good, Dobby?"

"Harry Potter sir cannot live like this.   This small, cramped room is not right for such a great and powerful wizard like Harry Potter, miss."   The elf suddenly seemed to cheer up.   "Dobby will fix it," he promised.   He clapped his hands, and as before, two dozen more house-elves appeared.

"Harry Potter sir, the great and wonderful wizard, is going to be living here.   Harry Potter’s rooms are too small.   Hogwarts needs to give Harry Potter bigger rooms!"

The elves all nodded at once, and they walked to the walls, six along each, and started to push.   The room seemed to grow as the elves pushed the walls back, bright lights shining from where their hands touched the walls.  

"Harry Potter will be needing a kitchen as well," Dobby said.   The elves moved like whirling dervishes, reshaping the walls as Dobby directed them left and right.

Ten minutes later, Dobby collapsed to the floor in front of them, as the other elves vanished.   "Dobby is tired," he said softly.   "This room is now fit for Harry Potter sir.   If Mistresses need more help, Dobby will return tomorrow."

Luna went down on her knees again and gently hugged the house-elf.   "You make sure you are here when we show Harry his room," she told him.   "You deserve to be thanked by him as well."

Dobby blushed and stammered, before disappearing with a pop.

"You’re very good with him," Susan said.

Luna smiled.   "This is amazing," she sighed as she looked around.   "I wonder if Ginny would let us move in as well."

Lavender laughed.   "Probably not; she’s a little possessive."

"And I thought Gryffindors knew how to share," Blaise smirked.   "It’s a good thing we came, as you are definitely going to need help now."

"Yeah," Lavender agreed.   "I didn’t know the elves could even do that."

"Nor did I," Padma said.   "I’ll have to do some research on them later.   They do good work, though."

"Guys," Lavender yelled.   "Come and look at this!"

They followed the sound of her voice and ended up on a large balcony that faced the Quidditch pitch.

"Harry’s never going to want to leave here," Blaise said softly.

"I’ll bet that’s what Ginny is hoping for," Parvati replied.  

"Well," Lavender said, clapping her hands.   "Let’s get to work.   Padma, you and Luna are on research.   I want you to find out how they did the ceiling in the Great Hall.   Blaise, Susan, you’ve got the bathroom to start with.   I know they’re both Gryffindors, but don’t make it Gryffindorish.   We want this place to be a mixture of all the houses."

Blaise saluted instantly.   "Sir, yes, sir!" she shouted and turned on her heel.

"Do we really need her?" Lavender asked Parvati.

"I think so," Parvati grinned.   "She’s fun."

Friday morning dawned with the monotonous regularity of something that happened once a week.

Ginny yawned deeply and inhaled.   She’d been sleeping quite well these past few nights, and while the whole school knew exactly where she spent the nights, no one had made a joke about it.   Not even Draco.  

"Why are we always dressed when we wake up together?" Harry asked, his voice dry and raspy.

"I’ve been asking myself that all week," Ginny replied, before freezing.   "Harry?"

He nodded.

"Harry!" she yelled and threw herself on top of him.   She buried her face in his neck and broke down in tears.

"Shhh," Harry whispered, stroking her back softly.   "It’s okay. I’m here."

She looked up at him; he was a little blurry because of the tears in her eyes.   "Harry," she said seriously.   "I need you to do something for me."

"Anything," he said seriously.

"Come into my mind — I need to show you something."

He nodded, whispering the spell under his breath.

Ginny took a deep breath and welcomed him into her mind.   She carefully guided him to the memory she had stored and nudged him toward it.

He didn’t back away; he absorbed the memory completely, before pulling away.   Tears were running down his face, and he had a heartbroken look.

"That’s what I felt like when I thought you were gone," she choked out, crying with him.   "I can’t feel like that again, Harry."

"I’m so sorry," he whispered.

"I know," she said.   "I just want you to remember that the next time you think of doing something like this again.   I won’t hold it against you if I’m there, Harry, if I can help look after you, but you can’t go off on your own."

"I won’t," he promised.

"Good," Ginny said softly and gently kissed him.   "Now, come into my mind again."

He nodded, and did as she said, and she was so relieved that he had taken what she had done the right way.   She’d been scared that he might push her away, for her own sake, but had decided that it was the best way to make him understand.

As she felt him, she nudged him toward another memory, this one bigger.

He moved into it and stood there.   After a second, he seemed to glow and grow bigger inside her mind.

He left her, reluctantly, and she met his eyes.   He was staring at her with absolute awe.   "That is how much I love you," she said softly.   "I know how much you love me; Severus told me all about it, so I felt it was fair for me to show you just how much I adore you, Harry."

"Thank you," he said, his voice breaking a little.   "Thank you."

She leant down and kissed him again.  

"How is everyone?" Harry asked.   "Is Severus okay?   What day is it? Have Fred, George and Abe launched the Butterbeer yet?  How’s the DA gone?   What’s happened with Voldemort?"

Ginny laughed. "Typical, Potter.   You’ve only been awake for a few minutes, and already you’re asking questions.   You’re not getting answers immediately.   I think we need a bit of a meeting.   So, you go jump in the shower, and I’ll get everyone here."

"And breakfast?" he asked eagerly.

"And breakfast," Ginny agreed.

Harry smiled and dropped a quick kiss on her lips and slowly walked over to the shower.   His body was obviously more tired than his mind.   She walked out of Harry’s room in the hospital ward and wandered over to the fireplace.   She threw some Floo powder into the fire and fire-called Sirius first and then Remus.  

She paused for a second and then called her mum as well, inviting her to the meeting, so that she could see for herself that Harry was all right.   Molly had been more than a little upset that she hadn’t been notified immediately about Harry being unconscious.

That done, she walked into the hallway and padded sleepily along to the Great Hall, aware that she still looked a bit of a mess, having slept in her clothes again.

She pushed the door open and smiled as every head in the room turned to her.   "He’s awake," she said simply.

The spontaneous cheer that rang around the hall knocked her back onto her heels.  

Ginny raised her hand, quietening them down.   "So you all know," she said.   "Harry and Professor Snape were both ambushed by Voldemort.   Voldemort, having prepared for the attack for a long time, locked the Professor and Harry in their minds, and then cast the Killing Curse on them."

There was a gasp of horror from around the Hall.

"Luckily," Ginny continued.   "Voldemort once again forgot that my boyfriend is the Boy-Who-Will-Not-Be-Defeated-By-The-Dark-Tosser, and Harry managed, with the help of Professor Snape, to redirect the curse back onto Voldemort."

There was another huge cheer from the students — one that some of the professors joined in as well.

"Obviously, doing the impossible took a lot out of Harry and Professor Snape, which was why they were both unconscious.   As Harry used all his magic, I honestly thought he was dead.   And as you can guess, I am more than slightly pleased that he is still alive."

There was a small rumble of laughter that echoed around the hall.

"But," Ginny continued.   "We have heard from our spies that Voldemort is in an even worse state than Harry."

This cheer was accompanied by the whole school (bar a couple of exceptions) jumping to their feet and cheering at the top of their lungs.

Ginny smiled and waited till they had finished.   She had prepared this speech in her mind while waiting for Harry but hadn’t expected it to be so well received.   It made her realise that, as Harry’s girlfriend, she had gone from obscurity to fame in a very short time.   As Harry had gained in responsibility, so had she.  

"Professor Dumbledore, Professor Snape, Professor McGonagall, Ron, Hermione - Harry has a few questions.   I’ve called Padfoot and Moony as well, and they’re on their way."

"Thank you, Ginny," Albus said, standing.  

"There is one other thing," Ginny said, on the spur of the moment.

"Please," the headmaster said, spreading his arms wide.

Ginny placed her hands on her hips and stared into the Hall.  

"Harry is having tomorrow off," she stated flatly.   "We are going to have a picnic, then we’re going to play some games, and then we’re going to have a barbeque.   Everyone, including the staff, is invited."   She paused for a second and then pulled her wand out of her pocketing, and muttering "Sonorous," as she pointed it at her throat. "Quiet!" she yelled over the cheering.   Her magically enhanced voice bounced off the walls.

As everyone went instantly silent and stared at her, she cancelled the spell.   "Thank you," she whispered.   She glared into the room, at everyone, including the professors.   "That means that tomorrow, Harry is not available for problem solving.   I don’t care what happens in the rest of the world — for tomorrow, no one brings it to Harry.   He is going to have fun, he is going to relax, and he is going to remember just how good the Wizarding world can be, and just how much he can enjoy himself.

"Have I made myself clear?"

There was an audible gulp from a lot of the students, followed by a wave of nodding.

"Good," Ginny smiled brightly.   "Lavender, Parvati, you’re in charge of organising the menu.   Talk to Dobby, he’ll be delighted to help.   If you want to buy anything, come and talk to me, and we’ll get it here.   Seamus, Dean, you’re in charge of the games.   Make them a mixture of Muggle and Magical.   Blaise, Susan, Luna, you’re in charge of the music.   I want something light for the meals, and something we can dance to in the evening.   Prefects, you’re in charge of finding enough seating for the Professors who don’t want to sit on the ground and lighting spells for the evening.   Orla, you’re in charge of photography, but no publishing photos of Harry without my approval."

She looked up at the Professors’ table to find that Snape was laughing so hard he had tears running down his face.


Snape took a deep breath and made a visible attempt to calm himself.   "Gin," he started, and paused as people gasped in shock that he’d call her by a nickname.   "Having just ordered the entire school to organise a picnic for your boyfriend, might I inquire as to what you are planning next?"

Ginny smiled at him.   "Harry should be well enough to take charge next time," she replied sweetly.   "So I won’t need to."

Snape snorted and stood.   "Come on, Professor," he said to Dumbledore.   "We’ve been told what to do."

"Quite right, Severus," Dumbledore agreed cheerfully.   He turned to walk down the stairs and then paused.   "I think," he announced.   "That Ginny’s plans are excellent.   So I shall cancel the last two lessons for today to give the people who have jobs to do time to do them.   I expect a most wonderful day tomorrow."

The cheer he received was nearly as loud as the earlier cheers.   Nearly.

As Ginny led the professors and Ron and Hermione out of the room, Dean turned to Seamus.  "Well, that was unexpected," he said.

"Yep," Seamus agreed cheerfully.   "It’s going to be fun, though."

Dean nodded and sighed a little.

"Kicking yourself?" Seamus asked.

"A little, yeah," he sighed.   "She’s like a flower."

"In what way?"

"For the past few days, she’s been down and hardly noticeable.  Hermione, Ron, and Blaise took the D.A. meeting, even though she was there.  Everyone’s been treading carefully around her.   But as soon as Harry wakes up, she’s back to her vibrant best.   She just ordered the whole school around like it was nothing, and she looked so beautiful doing it."

"Aye," Seamus agreed.   "That she did.   But as you said, it’s Harry who puts that smile on her face and gives her that energy."

"I know," Dean sighed again.   "I just wonder if I could have made her do that, if I’d fought for her, you know?"

"Don’t take this the wrong way, mate," Seamus said.   "But you couldn’t have.   You just have to see the two of them together to realise how much they are in love.   But don’t concentrate on that, concentrate on the good things."

"Like what?" Dean said morosely.

"She’s just got us out of Astronomy for the day and given us freedom to organise the games for tomorrow."

"True," Dean agreed, smiling slowly.   "And hey, it was nice of her to invite us.   There’s obviously more going on than we know about."

"You mean the way Snape is suddenly calling Ginny, Gin, or the way that our Headmaster was amused by her ordering around the whole school rather than being upset?" Seamus grinned.

"Yep," Dean grinned.   "Makes you think, doesn’t it?"

"A little," Seamus said, his smile fading.   He was suddenly aware that students had been listening to his conversation with Dean.   He stood on the bench and looked around.   "But you know," he said loudly.  "I’m kinda glad I’m not involved anymore than I am.   For better or for worse, Harry appears to be our only hope now, and if it means he gets special treatment because of it, I’m all for it.   He’s the one who’s putting his neck on the line for us, and the one who seems to nearly die at least once a year.   I don’t want that sort of pressure on me.   I like being a kid; I like being sixteen.   I promise that when Harry needs me, I’ll be there for him, as he has been for me over the last six years."

Across the Hall, Blaise climbed on to the Slytherin table.   "With a couple of minor exceptions," she said with a pointed glared at her own table, "look at what the school is now.   Look at what Hogwarts has become.   Students from all four houses are starting to talk to each other, being friendly toward one another.   This is what Harry is doing for us, so the least we can do is make sure he has a kick-arse day off tomorrow.

"You all know what you are doing.   If you’ve not been given a job, and want to help, come see either Susan, Luna, Parvati, Padma, Lavender, or me.   We’ll put you to work.   Let’s prove that we can organise everything without Harry, Ginny, Hermione, or Ron."

Seamus grinned and offered a bow.   "Any one else feel like making a speech?" he asked.

"Why not?" Susan said, climbing to her feet, and then blushing furiously.   "Erm," she said, looking around.   "I’m a Hufflepuff, not a Gryffindor," she mumbled, just loud enough to be heard.   "To back up what Blaise and Seamus have said — for too long, we’ve been depending on Harry and his friends; this is our chance to say thank you for putting their lives on the lines for us and our families.   Let’s not blow it, okay?"

There was a cheer, especially from the Hufflepuff table, and Susan turned an even brighter red.

Cho Chang climbed onto a table next.   "I feel that Ravenclaw honour would be sullied if at least one Ravenclaw didn’t say something here," she said, taking a deep breath.   "As a house, we are completely behind Harry and Ginny.   And after the magnanimous way in which they treated me after I made my rather public mistake, I — personally — am firmly behind them as well.   To borrow some words from Harry, ‘when Hogwarts stands together, there is NOTHING that we can not do!’"

There was another cheer from the students.   Then, Lavender got to her feet.   "Okay people, remember what Professor Dumbledore said.   Classes first, organise party later.   So, everyone get to where you’re supposed to go."

There was some general laughter, as the students filed out of the Hall.

Ginny walked back in to the Harry’s room to find her parents, Padfoot, and Moony already there, talking with Harry, who was finishing off some breakfast.   She walked up to the bed and raised her arms up to him.   She was more than capable of climbing next to him herself, but that was hardly the point.

Harry made his tray vanish with a snap of his fingers, reached out and easily pulled her up and gave her a quick kiss before sitting her down next to him.   She immediately slung her legs over his lap, and snuggled closer to him.   There had not been enough contact between them for her liking, and now that she had his telling off out the way, it was definitely time to catch up with that.

Harry wrapped an arm around her tightly, obviously feeling the same way.

"How are you feeling, Sev?" Harry asked the professor.

"Pretty good; you’re going to be tired for the rest of the day."

"You still look like crap," Harry grinned.   "Sunlight won’t kill you, you know."

Severus rolled his eyes.   Ginny had to hide a smirk as she looked at the shocked faces of Ron and Hermione.   Apparently, the idea of Snape and Harry bantering was beyond either of their comprehension.   She hadn’t told anyone exactly what had happened, as it wasn’t her story to tell.   But if anything was going to bring Harry and Snape closer together, it was sharing an attack with Voldemort.

"We’ll find out tomorrow, won’t we," he said with a grin.

"Oh?" Harry asked.

"Indeed," Snape said.   "General Weasley, the one sitting in your lap, decided that you are having a day off tomorrow and ordered the entire school to help you or face her wrath.   It was a very motivational speech," he finished.

"Ginny?" Harry asked.

She felt herself blushing furiously.   "I didn’t threaten them," she protested.

"Not in as many words, Ginny," McGonagall said with a slight smile.   "But you did make it very clear that you would be upset if anything went wrong."

Ginny shrugged and turned to Harry.   "I just wanted to make sure that you got to rest and have fun tomorrow.   We’re going to have a picnic, then play some games, and have a barbeque after that."

"Barbeque?" Sirius asked.   "Are we invited?"

"Of course," Ginny smiled.

"Woohoo!" Sirius crowed.   "Me man, cook meat on fire.   Fire good!"

"You can do your own, Padfoot," Harry laughed.   "I’ll have mine done by someone who can actually cook."

"I’m insulted," Sirius sniffed.

"Why?" Moony asked.   "You’re the only person I know who can burn water!"

"Hey!" Sirius protested.   "What is this, ‘Pick On Me’ morning?"

"It can be," Snape said.   "But as fun as that is, I think we should answer Harry’s questions first."

"Thanks," Harry said dryly.   "Okay, what’s happening with Voldemort?"

Dumbledore answered.   "It seems that you managed to reflect the Killing Curse at him, and he is suffering more than you are."

"Good," Harry said cheerfully.   "So we can expect some quiet time?"

"I’d say so," Dumbledore nodded.   "The Death Eaters have no idea what happened, so they’re laying low until someone tells them to do something."

"So, it’s Friday today?" he asked.

"Yes," Hermione said.   "You were out for two and a half days."

"Hey," Harry grinned.   "That’s not bad for me.   What’s happened with the DA?"

"Me and Hermione…" Ron started.

"Hermione and I," Hermione corrected.

"Does it really matter?" Ron asked.

"Yes," Hermione replied firmly.

"Fine," Ron sighed.   "Hermione and I have been running it, with Blaise, Susan, Lavender, Parvati, Luna, and Padma.   We followed your notes and practiced the shield some more."

"Excellent," Harry smiled.     "Now, does someone want to tell me what else happened while I was out?"

Ginny settled down comfortably, listening to everyone talk with one ear and to Harry’s heartbeat with the other.

Harry listened to what had happened while he was out, asking questions as they talked, but was more concerned about Ginny.

The feeling of devastation she had felt chilled him to the core.   It was like nothing he had ever experienced, and he couldn’t ever put her through that again.   She loved him.   More than anyone else alive, she loved him.   It humbled him, because he finally had what he had wished for. She was someone who put him first and loved him as much as he loved her.

And he did love her.   And this picnic tomorrow seemed like a perfect opportunity for him to put the first of the three rings on her finger.  

He looked as his watch, as people stopped talking, and saw that it was nearly time for lunch.   "Okay," he said, as he looked around.   "I’m going to steal Ginny for the afternoon.   I need to find out how Fred, George, and Abe are doing.   I think we need to really push this launch as hard as we can and hit Lucius where it hurts while Voldemort is out of commission.   It should make him a little unsure as to what to do, in case he does something that Voldemort doesn’t like."

"Good idea," Dumbledore nodded.

"Padfoot, take the afternoon off as well.   I don’t want you getting in trouble before tomorrow.   The search for Voldemort’s base can wait.

"Molly, have you got anything planned for this afternoon?"

"Not at all," she said.

"Ginny, who have you got working on the food for tomorrow?"

"Lavender and Parvati," Ginny replied instantly.

"Could you work with them?   I think they might appreciate an expert’s advice."

"I’d love to, Harry."

Harry closed his eyes and silently Summoned his wallet.   As it appeared in his hand, he lobbed it gently to his girlfriend’s mother.   "Buy anything you need.   If we’re going to have a party, let’s make it a good one.

"Hermione, Ron? I’ve got something a little more difficult for you to do."

"What?" Hermione asked.

"I want you to go with Remus to the Library."

"Why?" Remus asked.

Harry took a deep breath.   "I was thinking while I was in the shower," he paused for a second and decided to see how many of the adults he could freak.   "And I must have been tired because I wasn’t thinking of Ginny," he paused and laughed to himself.   Ginny was blushing, Snape looked amused, Sirius was gagging, Molly and Arthur were looking like they really wished they hadn’t heard that, Minerva and Albus were smiling slightly, and Ron and Hermione looked like they knew he was teasing.   He’d have to try harder next time.   "And for some reason," he continued.   "I was thinking back to another time I was here in the hospital wing when Lockhart removed the bones in my arm."

"And?" Remus asked softly.

"Well, we all know that he was a complete fraud, right?"

"Erm, not all of us, Harry," Sirius said dryly.

"Oh, well, he was.   But that’s not important right now.   What he did was travel the world meeting people, getting their stories, and writing them down and claiming them as his own."

"Right," Sirius nodded.

"Well, he told us a story once, in the Defence class, about the time he was in Australia."

Hermione started and looked at Harry.   "How did I miss that?" she exhaled.

"It was hardly that important at the time," Harry shrugged.  

"But I memorised all his books," she sighed.   "Including Wandering with Werewolves — I should have remembered."

"You can’t blame yourself, Hermione," Harry said firmly.

"Flip you for it," Sirius’s voice interrupted them.

"Heads," Snape called, as a Galleon span into the air.

"Heads it is," Sirius sighed.   "It’s all yours."

"Why thank you," Snape grinned.   "As I’ve won, I get to ask the burning question.   What on earth are you two talking about?"

Harry blushed and felt Ginny giggle against him.   "Hermione, you can probably quote it better than I can."

She nodded.   "Lockhart was talking about it with Harry in class, and he said, "I pounced - like this - slammed him to the floor - thus with one hand, I managed to hold him down - with my other, I put my wand to his throat -I then screwed up my remaining strength and performed the immensely complex Homorphus Charm - he let out a piteous moan - go on, Harry - higher than that - good - the fur vanished - the fangs shrank - and he turned back into a man. Simple, yet effective - and another village will remember me forever as the hero who delivered them from the monthly terror of werewolf attacks.’"

"You’re scary at times," Ron laughed softly.   "You even got his voice right!"

"That’s partly how I remember things," Hermione explained.   "I go back to where I was at the time."

"So," Harry continued, looking at the stunned Remus in front of him.   "Everyone dismissed it because it was Lockhart saying it.   But, what if there really was a werewolf in Wagga Wagga?   And what if someone there did manage to cure it?"

"But…" Remus started.

"It can’t hurt to look, Remus old boy," Sirius said cheerfully.   "And in fact, I’ll even go so far as to help you research."

Harry said, "Eep," and Vanished with Ginny.   "Is it safe to come out?" he asked from under the bed.   He could feel Ginny laughing against him.

"Err, where are you?" Ron asked.

"Under the bed," Harry replied.   "Padfoot wanting to study is one of the signs of the Apocalypse."

He Apparated them back onto the bed and grinned as he saw everyone but Sirius laughing hard.

"Hey!" Sirius protested.

"Okay," Snape said as he looked as his watch.   "I’ve got a class to teach.   I’ll see you later."

"I have as well," McGonagall said, climbing to her feet.   "It’s good to see you awake again, Harry."

"I’ve got to get back to work," Arthur said cheerfully.   "I’ll see you later, dear," he said to his wife and walked out.

"I’ll go and see what the girls have going with the food," Molly announced.   "It should be fun."

"Don’t worry about the drinks," Harry said.   "I’ll get Fred and George to bring up enough Butterbeer for the school, if they’ve got the capacity; otherwise I’ll just buy up a load of the old stuff."

"Okay," she nodded.   "Be good this afternoon," she said to Ginny.

"I will," Ginny said quietly.

"And we’ll get to work in the library," Hermione said, taking Ron, Remus, and Sirius with her, leaving Harry, Ginny, and Dumbledore alone.

"I’ve had a talk with Severus," Dumbledore said slowly.

"And I’ve had a more effective chat with Harry," Ginny interrupted.

"Ahh," Dumbledore said and nodded slowly.   "In that case, give my regards to your brothers and mine."

"We will," Harry smiled and Apparated himself and Ginny to his bed in Gryffindor Tower.

"I need to get changed first," he said.   "And maybe have a nap."

"Why, Mr Potter," Ginny said with a smile.   "Are you trying to get me to sleep with you?"

Harry nodded eagerly.   And if he wasn’t so damn tired, he’d try for the lack of clothing part as well.   "Please," he begged.

"Well," Ginny said, kicking off her shoes and removing her skirt, leaving her in a long white shirt.   "Don’t say I don’t do anything for you," she finished, as she crawled under the covers with him.

"Thanks," he smiled and kissed her lingeringly.   "I do love you," he said softly.

"I know, sweetheart," she whispered back.   "Sleep now; I’m here.   I’ll always be here."

From: Filius

To: Other heads of house

Subject: A miracle

I was marking my sixth years’ homework at lunchtime, and I came across a rather surprising essay.

It was very well written, a definite O.   And it was definitely in the student’s handwriting.

The only problem is that I never gave this homework to this particular student.   And he’s been unconscious for almost the entire time since I gave it out.

Now, either Harry’s powers have grown so much that he is writing essays while unconscious, or something strange is going on.


From: Sev

To: Commander Albus and his right-hand men

Subject: Re: A miracle

I must confess to having noticed this myself.   Harry’s homework is here, in place, well written, and O material.

Unfortunately, Ms Granger is a little too clever for her own good.   She might have copied Harry’s style of handwriting, and a lot of his phrases, but she wasn’t able to dumb it down enough.

Harry has never written "whom" in the entire time I have taught him.  Nor has he ever used the word "discombobulate" when "confound" would do just as well.

So, why is Ms Granger doing homework for Harry that hasn’t even been set?

Sev — Curious.

Working for the downfall of the Dark Tosser for fifteen years

From: Right hand Woman

To: The rest

Subject: Re[2]: A miracle

I’ve got it as well — perfect homework.   It’s an exceptionally good forgery, and if I had set Harry the homework, I’d be giving him points for effort.

Do you think we should ask her?

Min — curious as well


From: Commander Albus

To: Ground Control

Subject: Re[3]: A miracle

Knowing Ms Granger quite well, I am of the opinion that she is simply ensuring that Harry finishes school on time with top marks.   We all know that he has more important things on his mind, like keeping everyone alive.   And as we never told him - or Ms Granger - that we would not be giving him homework, she must be doing it for him to ensure that his grades don’t suffer.

I find it admirable and another example of the loyalty Harry generates in those around him.

I shall have a quiet conversation with her about it, and if I am right about her motives, then I suggest that we accept the homework as if it was by Harry and allow his grades to adjust accordingly.

Of course, I’m sure that once Harry has defeated Voldemort, he will return to doing his studies normally.


Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot and Chairman of the International Confederation of Wizards  

From: Right-hand sprout

To: Lefties

Subject: Re[4]: A miracle

Well, in that case, I’ll look forward to receiving some excellent homework from ‘Harry’.

Sev, how’s the betting coming along?


From: Book-master General

To: Soon-to-be-richer-Professors

Subject: Betting

Good news, I got odds of four to one from one of the Goblin syndicates.

And I wouldn’t worry about us being cheated. I might be a little nicer these days, but I do have twenty-odd years of practice being a git to fall back on.

I almost think that he would pay up even if Harry lost.

Sev — whistling innocently

Working for the downfall of the Dark Tosser for fifteen years

From: Schoolmaster General

To: Senior Colonels

Subject: Re: Betting

Severus, I would be castigating you for threatening a poor goblin, but as I’m in the pot, I won’t.

Have you been practising?


Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot and Chairman of the International Confederation of Wizards  

From: Snape

To: Minnie and Rolanda

Subject: Help

Can I beg a favour please? Albus has just reminded me that I need some practice, so could you join me next week for a practice session or two?



Working for the downfall of the Dark Tosser for fifteen years

From: Chaser Min

To: Chaser Sev

Cc: Keeper Rollie

Subject: Re: Help

Normally, no… but as there’s money involved, you can count me in.   I still remember a few tricks from back in my day that they will never have seen.



From: Grateful Sev

To: Minnie

Subject: Re[2]: Help

You’re not that old, Minnie dear — you certainly don’t look it.


Working for the downfall of the Dark Tosser for fifteen years

From: A blushing Min

To: Snake Charmer

Subject: Re[3]: Help

You little charmer you; however, I remember teaching you your first Transfiguration charm.


purr purr

From: The non-cat charmer

To: The cat

Subject: Re[4]: Help

But you carry the years so well…

Can I pop by your office later? I need some love advice.


Working for the downfall of the Dark Tosser for fifteen years

From: There goes another one of my lives

To: Cat-killer

Subject: Re[5]: Help

I think I just about choked to death when I read that last Mmail.   I’d be upset if I wasn’t so bloody curious.

Come on over at nine — I’ll have a drink ready.



From: Harry

To: Sev

Subject: Poisonous Plants

I appreciate the botany lesson.   I understand more now how potions can be useful with a bit of poison.

I’d appreciate a demonstration, face to face, so to speak, on Sunday.


Audaces fortuna juvat

From: Professor Snape

To: Harry Potter

Subject: Re: Poisonous Plants

Are you SURE you’re not a Slytherin?

I’ll arrange for the demonstration, and give my apologies to Ms Weasley, but this should be a one on one session.


Working for the downfall of the Dark Tosser for fifteen years

From: HJP

To: SS

Subject: Re[2]: Poisonous Plants

I agreed to tell Gin what I learnt afterwards, and she’s happy with that.

Let me know what time.

Oh, you might want to talk to Sirius… he’s got a very effective hangover cure.   If you two put your heads together, you might be able to improve it.   HAOBb will then licence it from you and sell it along with the Butterbeer for the perfect night out.  

You could both make a lot of money from it.


Audaces fortuna juvat

From: Sev

To: Sirius

Subject: Partnership

It seems that Harry isn’t happy with us just getting on; he’s decided that we should work together.

He tells me that you have a cure for a hangover that could do with some improvement.   He has suggested that we work together, and then license it to Harry for production.



Working for the downfall of the Dark Tosser for fifteen years

From: Thoughtful

To: Thought provoker

Subject: Re: Partnership

Are you out of class yet?   I’m so far out of my depth in this research that I’m thinking of changing into Padfoot so I can at least make myself useful by keeping their feet warm.

If so, I’ll pop down and we can discuss this in person.  

Did you ever think that we’d end up friends, and that we’d spend our time following around a sixteen year old that has trouble getting free time to spend with his girlfriend?


woofing thoughtfully

From: Poor Professor

To: Person who could help change that

Subject: Re[2]: Partnership

Actually, we can have a bit of a talk about that when you get here.   While I won’t betray Harry’s confidence (I have been in his mind), we really ought to see if we can help them get a bit of free time.

Pop down to my dungeon when you’re ready — it’s close to the Slytherin common room.


Working for the downfall of the Dark Tosser for fifteen years

"Wear this," Ginny said, laying a black shirt on his bed.

"’Kay," Harry smiled.   "It’s really disorientating to wake up and realise you’ve missed half a week.

"I’ll bet," Ginny smiled, as she sat on the edge of the bed.   "What’s the plan for this afternoon?"

"We’ll go see Fred, George, and Abe first.   Then we’ll go and see the Goblins and bring them up to date.  Then we’ll stop by the Ministry and see how Percy and Kingsley are doing."

Ginny smiled softly.   "That’s a full afternoon," she said softly.   "But where’s the kissing Ginny time?"

Harry paused in his shirt-buttoning and looked at her seriously.   "I’m hoping that I’ll have the energy at the end of the day, and if I do, we’re going to get one of the boats, and sail into the middle of the lake, and be alone."

She smiled brilliantly at him.   "Wonderful," she clapped.   "Let’s go then.   And don’t worry about having the energy, you will."

Harry nodded.   "Do I look okay?"

"You look like you’ve been in a fight for your life, and that you should be resting, but you’re too responsible to stop."

Harry smiled crookedly.   "Which is how I feel.   But I promise that tomorrow, I’m all yours."   He held out his arms.   "Let’s get going."

Ginny smiled and walked into them, hugging him tightly.   A second later, they Apparated, reappearing in a giant warehouse.

A huge flywheel turned in one corner, a light brown liquid cascading over it, falling into what appears to be a deep stream.   Along the stream, multi-coloured bottles bubbled merrily, occasionally giving off burps of shimmering bubbles.

"Welcome," Aberforth exclaimed, bowing merrily.   "To Honest Abe’s Original Butterbeer Factory."

"It looks amazing," Ginny said, as she looked around.  

"It does," Abe agreed.   "Come and have a look."  He pulled them to one corner, where what looked like a giant pair of bellows was wheezing at a steady pace.   "This is the Bubble-iser," he said proudly.   "It’s what gives the Butterbeer its foam.   Highly important part of the business.

"This," he continued, pointing to the flywheel, "is the mixer.   It takes water and the first part of my formula and mixes them together.   The height is set perfectly.   We originally tried to use a giant whisk, but it wasn’t as dramatic.   Each of those glass bubbles is adding more ingredients to the mixture, including the preservatives."

He danced over to where the stream of Butterbeer seemed to defy gravity and flow up a large pipe.   "This goes to our bottling plant," he explained cheerfully.

"This whole place looks like a Muggle theme park," Harry said.

"Exactly," Abe said, spreading his arms wide.   "We’re going to open a branch of Weasleys’ Wizarding Wheezes here and charge Wizard families for the privilege of looking around.   We’re going to have an experimental area where kids can play with the latest and greatest Wheezes free of charge, giving us invaluable market research and test subjects for free.

"And then we’ll add a Quidditch practice area where people can pretend to be you, or Viktor Krum, or Oliver Wood."

Harry laughed softly and wrapped an arm tighter around Ginny.   "Do you need any money to get it started?"

"We should have enough with what you have already invested," Abe said, suddenly going serious.

Harry shrugged.   "It’s only money, Abe, and I’d use it all to see my friends happy."

"That’s hardly the point, Harry," Abe replied seriously.   "The point is to have fun doing something you love.   I’ve lived a quiet life for many years now — just me and Michael.   This," he said, waving his hand expansively, and continued, "is the most fun I’ve had since Albus and I went on a Mediterranean Cruise with the Mother of All Saints Nunnery."

"One day," Harry said slowly, "we are going to sit down, and you are going to tell me all your stories."

"And me," Ginny said firmly.

"You should know, Harry," Abe grinned, "we old men love to talk."

"And we’d love to listen.   Anyway, where are Fred and George? I want to know how things are going."

"Through here," Abe said, opening the door to the bottling area.  

Inside held another cornucopia of sights and smells.   The Butterbeer which had flowed up the pipe on the other side continued to defy gravity, as it ran along the roof in an upside down stream — before it hit a large sieve.   The Butterbeer then parted into thirty or forty different trails and flowed down into a series of funnels, each leading to a row of bottles.  

A steam-powered device controlled the flow, starting and stopping it as new bottles were launched into place.   Once the bottles were full, they were moved to another machine, where two skeletal hands added a cap and the label.

"Isn’t that a bit inefficient?" Harry asked, laughing.

"A little," Fred agreed, appearing from nowhere.   He was wearing a bright blue coverall.   "But this is only for the bottles.   The wholesale distribution is done downstairs, and we have quadruple the volume going through there."

"How are you doing with the volume?"

"We’re at full production now and ready for launch on Monday."

"Do you have enough to spare for every student at Hogwarts tomorrow?"

George dropped from the ceiling, hanging from a rope upside down.   He was wearing a bright orange coverall "You’ve got us into Hogwarts?" he asked,   a wide smile on his face.

Harry nodded.

George flipped to the ground and did a little dance on the spot.   "As soon as they taste this stuff, they’ll be hooked, and they’ll tell their parents!   It’s perfect."

"You can thank your sister.   It’s her idea, and she’s the one organising the party."

"And yes," Ginny said instantly.   "You three are invited.   It’s tomorrow from ten o’clock on."

"What do you say, Abe?" Fred asked.   "Think we can take a day off to do a bit of flesh pressing and show off the gear?"

"I think so," Abe said cheerfully.   "This thing runs itself as it is."

"Well," Harry smiled, "about that.   I’ve got a new challenge for you."

"A new one?" George asked.   "We’ve not finished this one yet."

"Shh, George," Fred said soothingly.   "I’m sure it will make us a lot of money.   It will, won’t it, Harry?"

Harry took a small step backwards, so he was no longer next to Ginny.   "I’ve got Snape and Sirius working together on a hangover cure.   I’ve tried it myself, so I know it works.   This way, people can drink as much as they like at night, and then take the cure, and be fine for work the next morning."

Fred and George looked at each other and then leapt at Harry, who sidestepped calmly.

As Fred and George went flying, Abe jumped and landed firmly on Harry.

"You didn’t think you’d get away with that twice did you?" Fred demanded with a huge smile.  

Harry groaned and dumped Abe onto the floor — he was a little surprised at just how sprightly the old man was.   "I had hoped," he grumbled.   "Anyway, I’ll be having a word with Amelia Bones about increasing the punishment for drunk and disorderly behaviour.   There’ll be no excuse at all for it when you can get sober quickly.   That way, we won’t have a rise in bad behaviour."

"And we can claim to be socially responsible as well," Fred agreed.

"Socially responsible? Us?" George asked, before collapsing to the floor in hysterical laughter.

Ginny smiled and shook her head slowly.   "If I wasn’t related to you two, I’d’ve disowned you a long time ago."

"No, you wouldn’t," Fred said, breathing hard from the laughter.   "You’ve always been our favourite sister."

"I’m your only sister."

"Irrelevant," George sniffed.   "The point is, you love us because we’re cute."

"Right," Harry agreed dryly.   "Not to drag you back on topic or anything, but how are the solicitors coming on with the Cease and Desist letters?"

"They’re all ready."

"I was thinking," Harry said slowly.

"Quick, someone get me some oxygen," Abe said.   "When Harry starts thinking, you better be prepared."

Harry fixed him with a dour look, "Wouldn’t it be more effective if the Solicitors were accompanied by some armed Goblin guards?   It would send out the message that we’re not playing games here."

"How are you going to arrange that?" Fred demanded.

"Leave that to me," Harry smiled.   "I’ll have them here on Monday."     He turned to Ginny apologetically. "It might take a little longer at the bank than I thought.

Ginny smiled and rolled her eyes.   "Just don’t forget Ginny-kissing time."

"Problems in paradise?" George asked, his eyes alight with mischief.

"Only because Harry has problems with his free time — he doesn’t get any.   Organising the defeat of Voldemort is very time consuming," she pouted.

"I’ve promised I’m all yours tomorrow," Harry said softly.   "And for tonight."

"I know," Ginny said, lightly standing on her toes to kiss his cheek.

"I never thought about that," Fred said, shaking his head.   "I kind of forget that you’re still in school and organising the fight back at times, too.   You seem to be everywhere when you’re needed."

"I’m not infallible," Harry said with a shrug.   "I’m just trying my best to keep everyone I love and care for alive and happy."   He looked at his watch.   "And we better get going, I want a talk with Mackrack next."

"You do hang in exalted circles," Fred grinned.   "But who are we to be surprised; we knew you were destined for greatness, especially after you saved our Ginny.   And we’ve never said this," he continued, going very serious, "but we owe you more for that than we can ever repay.   You coming into our lives has been the best thing that has happened to our family — you even helped persuade Percy to stop being a git."

"Damn straight," George continued.   "We’ll be with you where ever you go."

Harry blushed and looked down, faintly aware that Ginny was smiling broadly.   She moved forward and gently kissed both of her brothers on the cheek.   "I do love you two as well," she said.   "Even if you are irredeemable."

Fred and George both grinned, "Fancy a sweet?" they offered.

Ginny laughed and jumped into Harry’s arms.   "Get me out of here, quick."

"Okay, we’ll see you tomorrow," Harry said with a smile and Apparated them to the entrance hall of Gringotts.

"When we get in, don’t be surprised by anything I say," Harry said, looping one of his arms into Ginny’s.

"Oh?" Ginny asked.

Harry smiled at her.   "Mackrack makes good tea," he said, changing the subject.   "I was very surprised when I met him on Monday."

"What are you asking for?"

Harry grinned.   "That would be telling."

Ginny skipped in front of him and wrapped her arms around his neck.   She writhed against him firmly, placing little kisses on his jaw.   "Harry," she purred.

He felt his arms close around her automatically, holding her close.   "Ginny," he groaned.

"What are you asking for?" she asked again, her eyes wide and clear, looking up at him with absolute love.

"You’re a witch," he groaned.   "How am I supposed to talk to Mackrack now?"

"Just think of Umbridge in a bikini," Ginny suggested brightly.   "And now that I’ve embarrassed you enough, you’ve got a goblin to the left waiting patiently for you."

"Hi, Griphook," Harry said.   "I know I’ve not got an appointment, but I was wondering if Mackrack was available for a quick meeting."

Griphook bowed solemnly.   "I believe he can fit you in," he said.   "If you’ll follow me."

"Come, wench," Harry growled.   "And don’t think you’re not going to pay for that later."

"I’ll look forward to it," Ginny grinned.  

They walked down the statue-lined corridor, and into the luxurious office.   "Mackrack, this is Ginny, my mate.   Ginny, this is Mackrack, manager of Gringotts, and their current leader," Harry introduced the two to each other.

Mackrack bowed formally.  Ginny curtseyed and then shot a blinding smile at the goblin.   "It’s a pleasure to meet you," she said, walking closer and offering her hand.

Mackrack shook it and then looked at Harry.   "I should have known the mate of Harry Potter would be prejudice free."

Harry smiled at the goblin and placed an arm around Ginny’s shoulders.

"Please, sit," Mackrack said, indicating a couch in the corner.   "My desk is a little too formal at times.   Can I offer you a drink?"

"Harry told me that you make a delightful cup of tea.   That would be wonderful."

Mackrack showed his teeth and nodded.   "Griphook," he commanded and took a seat in a large chair.  

"I thought I’d let you know," Harry said, sitting down next to Ginny.   "That Voldemort and I had one of our little fights on Tuesday.   I’m afraid that Voldemort came off a little worse for wear."

"His snake-iness does hate having the Killing Curse reflected back onto him," Ginny smiled.

Mackrack nodded slowly.   "I’m glad you’re not dead."

"So am I," Harry laughed.   "But enough about that, let’s talk about something important."

"What’s more important than Voldemort?" Mackrack asked.

"Money, of course," Harry grinned.

"Ahh, Harry, I knew you were special," Mackrack laughed.   "What would you like?"

"Well," Harry said, taking a deep breath.   "I was thinking that Goblin Mercenaries are legendary, especially in their bravery.   If I was to hire them, not only would they have something to do and keep in shape, but they would also be able to enjoy a good fight.   It would also show the Wizarding world how far Goblins have come in the last few centuries and make the population realise just how lucky they are to have such good bankers."

Mackrack looked at him, his eyes hooded.   He took the tray Griphook brought into the room and passed them each a cup of tea.   Harry sipped his for taste, and smiled contentedly.   "Excellent," he exhaled.

"It is good," Ginny agreed.

"I think, Harry," Mackrack said, as he sipped his own tea.   "That I will be able to let you hire our Mercenaries.   Obviously, I’d have to charge you."

"How much?" Harry asked.

"Hmmm," Mackrack said slowly.   "A hundred and fifty troops, commanders, and associated personnel, plus equipment.   I’d have to charge at least a Galleon."

"You drive a hard bargain," Harry said, nodding.   "Not to enquire about your confidential business practices, but if, say, Lucius Malfoy, came asking for a similar service…?" he trailed off.

"I would have to charge full price," Mackrack said sadly.   "I can’t let two people have discounts; it’s just not done.   And judging by the state of the Malfoy finances, he would find it extremely difficult to raise the amount."

"More so after Monday," Harry smiled.   "One of my companies has acquired the legal rights to the Butterbeer trademark.   On Monday, our solicitors will be visiting selected businesses, and the main factories, demanding an immediate cessation of the production and sale of Butterbeer under its current name.

"At the same time, we will be offering to buy up all the old Butterbeer, at a reduced rate and offering for sale a new, improved, drink, endorsed by me personally."

"You’re going to do a complete takeover," Mackrack stated calmly.   "Are you taking this down, Griphook?"

"Yes, sir," Griphook said.

"I’d like to hire some security guards tomorrow to go with the Solicitors.   This is business, not personal, so I will be paying full price."

Mackrack nodded firmly.   "This is what I like about you, Mr Potter.   You know where the line is.   We will happily provide you with guards.   Would you like the ones that visit the factory to know that any accidental damage of property will be frowned upon?"

"Absolutely.   Tell them that they’ll be punished with a bonus.   I know how Goblins hate that."

"Indeed," Mackrack agreed.   "Griphook, does Mr Malfoy have any outstanding debts with us?"

"A few," Griphook said.   "I don’t know the exact figure, off hand."

"Prepare the documents to have them foreclosed on Monday.   We want to make sure we get our money first."

"That won’t put you in an awkward position with the Death Munchers?"

"Not at all," Mackrack bared his teeth.   "It’s strictly business, and they know that business always comes first."

Harry finished his tea and relaxed back in his chair.   "When this is over, we’re going to have to talk about my vaults and managing them properly.   I think I’d like to start an investment company."

"Mr Potter," Mackrack said firmly.   "If things go the way we hope, then you will never have to worry about such a thing again.   We do have the best people here."

"I’m sure you do," Harry smiled.   "You will take the cost of the guards on Monday out of my vault?"

"We will, indeed."

"Are you finished, dear?" he asked Ginny.   As she nodded, he turned and stood, shaking Mackrack’s hand.   "It’s been a pleasure.   I’d like to do this again, without all this silliness."

Mackrack bowed and as he took Ginny’s hand, he kissed the back of it.   "The pleasure’s been mine, Harry.   And you and your mate are welcome any time."

"Thank you.   I’ll be in contact about the deployment of the Mercenaries.   They might want to start practicing, by the way."

"They will be ready.   You have my word."

Harry bowed, and took Ginny’s hand.   "It was good seeing you as well, Griphook."   He slid around so he was holding Ginny and Apparated them both away.

Mackrack stared at the spot for several long moments.   He turned and pressed the button on his desk, retracting the wall so that he could conference call with the other Heads of branches.

"Mackrack?" The head of the Egyptian bank asked.   "This is unusual."

"I’ve just had an unusual meeting," Mackrack said, growling softly.  

"Of course," the Egyptian head said, raising his hands gently.   "I didn’t mean to imply anything."

"I’ve just had Mr Potter come pay me a visit along with his mate.   It seems that Harry is following a very Goblin-like pattern with finding his life-mate at a very young age.   They do appear to be devoted to each other."

There was a wave of approving nods around the fireplaces.

"And his mate is as open-minded as he is.   I’ve agreed to hire out our Mercenaries, for the sum of one Galleon, to Harry for the battle against Voldemort."

"One Galleon!?" the Egyptian head demanded.   "Are you insane?"

"Mr Slitscythe," Mackrack thundered, "you will remember your place or I will remove you from it."

"But you’ve gone mad," he protested.

"Mad?" Mackrack growled.   "How much do you think complete trust from the Wizarding population is worth?   How much do you think their hero’s personal recommendation is worth?   How much do you think Voldemort’s defeat is worth?   How much do you think that Harry alone — Harry, who is currently organising a complete takeover of the entire UK Butterbeer businesses — is worth?

"Your problem, Slitscythe, is that you are incapable of seeing beyond your small and insignificant nose."   Insulting another goblin’s nose was the biggest insult possible.   "We have been handed a gilt-edged chance to overcome the inequality we suffer, and you are concerned about a few measly galleons."  

He paused and looked up and down the fire.

"I hereby call for a vote on the removal of Slitscythe as General Manager of Gringotts Egypt."

"Seconded," the head of the French branch said instantly.   "For?"

There was a series of Aye’s.


There was only silence — due to the rules, anyone faced with dismissal from the board was not allowed to speak in his own defence.   He had to rely on others to defend him.   Unfortunately for him, no one was willing to intercede on his behalf.

"Then it’s agreed," Mackrack said, pleased.   "I shall send Griphook out immediately to manage for a few days until we can choose a replacement."   He pressed a button, and Slitcythe’s face vanished from the fire.

"Now that we have that out of the way," the head of the Spanish branch said cheerfully.   "You mentioned a takeover?"

"Oh, indeed," Mackrack said, baring his teeth.   He explained the plan quickly.   "Harry not only insisted on paying for the guards on Monday, but he also promised to allow us to manage his sizeable fortune."

"As you said," the head of the Spanish branch said cheerfully, "we stand to gain a lot more than the price of our Mercenaries.   An excellent bit of business."

"Harry understands that when everyone profits, it is better all around.   He trusts us, and we WILL be equal to that trust."

"Quite, quite."

"Well," Mackrack said.   "While I have you all here; let’s hear today’s profit reports."

From: Draco

To: Mum

Subject: Me

I don’t know if I can write this, but it’s been suggested to me as a good idea to get it off my chest.

A lot has changed in the past few weeks.   And some of it you know, as I’m sure Dad has ranted to you about it.

To clarify…

I am gay.

I think I always have been.

I’ve tried so hard to be what Dad wanted — a junior version of him.   I’ve hated what he hates, I’ve sneered at what he sneers at, and I’ve alienated pretty much everyone in the hope that I might get a word from him.   A look, anything.

And you know what?   I’ve failed at everything as well.   What ever I do, Potter’s been better at it than I have, and Dad will never forgive me for that.

And the truly galling thing?  Potter doesn’t care.   He doesn’t care about me, or Dad; he just wants to be left alone.   He’ll save the world, and if he gets his way, will retire from public view and be happy.

And that’s where I can learn from him.   He wants to be happy.   I can’t remember the last time I was happy.   Even when Dad bought my way into the Quidditch team, I was scared I was going to let him down.

For far too long, I’ve denied who I am.   What I am.  

I am not Lucius Malfoy Junior.  

I am Draco Malfoy, a boy who’s no longer denying what I’ve always desperately tried to ignore.

I know that Dad is going to abandon me over this.   It’s one of the things I’ve had to talk about, and I don’t know if I can handle being poor, but I guess I haven’t got much choice in the matter, have I?

I love you, and I really hope that for once, you can stand up to Dad, and that I can remain in contact with you.   Don’t worry; I won’t say that in person — I know how you hate declarations of affection.   But, considering that I’m admitting to being gay, saying that I love you is hardly on the same level.

And before you think it, no, there is nothing you could have done to stop me from being gay, nor can you ‘cure’ me.   I’m not suffering from a disease here.

I hope you do write back, but I’ll understand if you don’t.

Draco Malfoy

From: Drac

To: Ter

Subject: Mum

I’ve told her — I’ve not told Dad, she can do that.   He’s a homophobe anyway… on top of being a supremacist and a racist.   In fact, I don’t think there’s an ‘ist’ Dad doesn’t like.


From: Proud

To: Proudee

Subject: Re: Parents

I’m proud of you, Drac.

And you know what they say about homophobes…

"I’m not a homophobe — I’m not afraid of me house!"


From: D

To: T

Subject: Re[2]: Parents



They appeared in the Ministry of Magic, near Percy’s office.   Ginny looked up at Harry and sighed softly.   "Are you sure you have to do this now?"

He nodded, looking exhausted.   "I have to know what is going on.   I have to give the impression that I’m everywhere I need to be, like Fred and George said."   He straightened his shoulders and seemed to will the tiredness away.

She sighed again and hugged him gently.   "I can’t wait till this is all over, and I don’t have to share you with anyone else."

"Have plans for me?" he asked, smiling.

"Plans that involve a bed, no clothing, and a lot of groaning," she teased gently and then laughed as he blushed.

She opened the door to Percy’s office, and paused as the sound of shouting came out.  

"You will call off your investigation!"

"No, I won’t," Percy’s voice replied icily.

"If you know what’s good for you and your family…"

Harry sighed and moved past the door, slamming it open.   "Lucius!" he called cheerfully.   "How good to see you again."

Malfoy looked at him and scowled.   "Potter!"

"Well done.   Instant recognition — very impressive.   So, care to tell me exactly why you are failing at intimidation here?"


"—He’s failing because his Ministry support is at an all time low," Percy said formally.   "That will be all, Lucius.   You can rest assured that your attempt at suppressing the truth will feature prominently in my report."

Lucius growled under his breath.

Harry took a step forward; he looked like he was planning on ripping Lucius in half.   The long-haired wizard took several steps back until he was against the wall.

"I object to people threatening my family," Harry stated.   Ginny felt a small fissure of electricity shoot through her as Harry released the controls on his magic.   She was shocked by just how weak he was at the moment.   Although, obviously Lucius didn’t feel that way, as the man paled dramatically.

"If I was you," Harry continued.   "I’d be much more worried about events closer to home."

"What do you mean?"

Harry’s smile had a tinge of ruthlessness about it.   "You’ll see, my dear Lucius.   You’ll see."

Lucius looked around, sneering; only the effect was spoiled by the slight look of fear in his eyes.   "I’ll get you."

"No, you won’t," Harry said.   "How is Voldemort at the moment?"

Lucius opened and closed his mouth before barging past Harry and storming out of the room.

Harry smiled slightly, and then collapsed into a chair in front of Percy’s desk, closing his eyes.

Ginny shook her head and walked over to him, kneeling by the side of his chair.

"Are you quite alright?" Percy asked, looking concerned.

"A little tired," Harry sighed.

"He’s been catching up on everything he missed," Ginny explained.

Percy nodded and turned abruptly to his fireplace.   He grabbed some Floo powder and threw it in the fire.   "Penelope?"

"Yes, Percy?"

"I know it’s a dreadful imposition at such short notice, but are you able to handle a few extra guests for dinner?   I’ve got Ginny and Harry here, and Harry looks like he really needs a good dinner, and we need to talk."

"Of course," Penelope’s head smiled.   "I was making extra anyway.   If you want to come home now, I’ll open a bottle of wine for a pre-dinner drink."

"Thank you," Percy smiled softly, a look that seemed a little out of place on his normally restrained face.

Percy turned to face them.   "Come on, then," he said before he stepped into the green flames.   "The sooner we get to my place, the sooner we can get Harry relaxed."

"Percy," Harry called, before Percy could vanish.   "Thanks."

"You’re welcome," Percy nodded.  

"We’ll see you there," Harry offered.   "I still hate the Floo."

"Of course," Percy said, a faint smile hovering around his face.   He stepped into the fire and vanished.

"Come on," Harry said to Ginny.

She smiled and climbed onto his lap, pressing her face into his neck and inhaling deeply.

There was the briefest feeling of movement, before they landed in the living room of Percy and Penelope’s house.   For a second, Ginny felt a little disorientated.   The living room was absolutely perfect with not a single thing out of place.   It looked like someone had opened the Home Improvement pages of the Prophet and created one of the rooms.

"Come on through into the den," Percy called cheerfully from the next room.   He looked more relaxed than Ginny could remember — he’d even removed his Ministry robes, his tie and undone the top button of his Muggle shirt.

The den reassured her that Percy was indeed a Weasley.   It had two comfortable sofas, a table behind them, and a wireless playing on the windowsill.

"The living room is for when I have to play politics," Percy said with a shrug.   "I do prefer the informality of it in here, but I wouldn’t let some of those vipers anywhere near where I live if I had the choice."

Harry sat down and stretched out his legs.   "This is really comfy," he groaned.

"Charmed that way," Penelope said with a smile, bringing in four glasses of wine.   "I’m sure there are many reasons why I shouldn’t be giving you alcohol, but you look like you could do with a drink, Harry."

Harry laughed softly.   "Thanks," he smiled.   "Ginny, can you bring them up to date please?"

Ginny nodded.   She knew Harry hated talking about himself, so she was more than happy to do so.   It also gave her a chance to make sure that Harry didn’t put his own accomplishments down.

She finished her recital about what had happened at Fred and George’s, unsure if Harry wanted her to talk about what they had done after that.

"We then had a meeting with Mackrack," Harry continued smoothly.   "We’ve arranged for the Goblin Mercenaries to join us in the final battle."

"Well," Percy said slowly, after exchanging a long look with Penelope.   "Are you sure you should be doing all this today?   You look like Death warmed up."

"It’s important that people know I am up and around," Harry sighed.   "It’s as much psychological as anything else.   The Prophet will print all sorts of rumours about me being seen in certain places, and Voldemort and the Death Eaters will read them and think that I’m fine while Voldemort is still a mess."

"You have excellent instincts for politics, Harry," Percy said.

Harry smiled crookedly.

"What I’m worried about, is how low his magic is getting," Ginny said, taking the subject away from politics.   She wasn’t ready for Harry to find out about her plans for him yet, all of which could wait till after Voldemort was decomposing somewhere.

"Low?" Percy asked.

"Didn’t you feel how low it was earlier?" Ginny asked, a little surprised.

"That was low!?"

Ginny nodded firmly.  

Percy laughed softly and shook his head.   "I’m starting to realise just why we didn’t stand a chance against you," he admitted.

Next to her, she could feel Harry relax and drift off, so she reached out and took the empty wine glass from his hand.  

"Don’t take it personally," Ginny said quietly.   "He only does it where he feels comfortable and safe."

Penelope smiled.   "Then I shall take it as a rather large compliment.   Shall we go into the kitchen?"

"I think that’s a good idea," Percy said.   He stood and pulled off a blanket from the back of his chair, spreading it over Harry.

Ginny followed Percy into the kitchen and walked over and kissed him gently on the cheek.   "I do love you," she said softly.

"A fact that I am eternally grateful for," Percy said solemnly.   "But enough about that. How are you, Ginny?"

Ginny walked over to the counter, out of the way, and climbed onto it.   "Tired and scared," she admitted softly.   "It’s been an incredibly long week.   Not having Harry in my mind was worse than having Voldemort in there."

"I’m not doubting you," Percy said carefully.   "But are you sure you’re doing the right thing, being attached to him?"

"This is what I’ve wanted all my life," she said simply.   "I didn’t realise the price would be so high, but then I didn’t think the rewards would be either.   I had a chance, Percy, to go for normality.   I had that chance with Dean; I could have stepped to one side and been out of the fight.   It wouldn’t have been scary, but it was also very boring and dull.   There was no fire.   Harry can make me feel like my blood is on fire, like I am the most important person in the world.

"With Dean, I would have met Dean’s mum and step-sister during a holiday.   In just one day with Harry, I’ve seen the new Butterbeer factory, been introduced as Harry’s mate to Mackrack of all people, and am now spending time with my brother on a school night, with everyone’s full permission.

"What I really need is time alone with Harry."

Percy looked thoughtfully at her.   "Not to ignore everything you just said, but did Harry really introduce you as his mate?"

"Yeah," Ginny nodded.   "Why?"

Percy smiled slowly.   "That does make me feel a little better," he admitted.  

"Why’s that, dear?" Penelope asked from the stove.

"Because Goblins mate for life.   Introducing a female as a mate is effectively the same as saying this is my life-partner."

"Really?" Ginny asked, suddenly feeling a bit of her fear about Harry vanish.

"It means he’s making long term plans for you," Percy nodded.  

"Which means he thinks he can defeat Voldemort," Ginny said brightly.   "I was worried that this last week might have dented his confidence."

"Hiring Mercenaries is a sure sign of that," Percy agreed.   "It is a pain that Snape is no longer a spy."

Ginny coughed softly.   "I can’t tell you anything," she said apologetically.   "But Harry does have a spy in the Inner Circle — please don’t tell anyone else."

"We won’t," Percy said firmly.   "It is reassuring though.   He’s come a long way in the last few weeks, hasn’t he?"

"Have you ever thought that it’s down to you guys?" Ginny asked with a smile.

"It is?" Percy asked doubtfully.

"If you hadn’t forced him into a corner, he would never have discovered that he does have the ability to lead."

Percy laughed softly and shook his head.   "I think I shall keep that knowledge firmly to myself," he said.   "My behaviour wasn’t exactly exemplary, and even if something positive has come out of it, I won’t be admitting it."

"Hey, Perce, you around?" a voice called from the fireplace.

"William?" Percy asked, moving in front of it.

"It’s Bill," Bill groaned.

"And I’m Percy," Percy agreed, before going silent.   Ginny hid a giggle.

"Fine.   Percy," Bill stressed.   "Have you seen Harry and Ginny?   Albus said they’re doing the rounds at the moment.

Percy looked at Ginny, and she nodded.

"They’re here," Percy acknowledged.

"Can I come through?" Bill asked.

"Of course," Percy said, stepping back.

The long-haired Weasley arrived through the fireplace a second later, brushing himself off casually.   "Hey, Munchkin," he said cheerfully.   "Where’s Harry?"

"Having a nap," Ginny said, holding out her arms for a hug.

Bill walked over and grabbed her, lifting her off the counter and spinning her around before hugging her tightly.   He put her down and grinned.

"So," he said cheerfully.   "Does any one have any idea why my boss at Gringotts would suddenly be replaced, and the new guy, a Goblin I think is called Griptook, placed in charge?"

"Griphook?" Ginny corrected.   "We had a meeting with him and Mackrack earlier."

"I thought Harry would have something to do with this," Bill said.   "I’ve officially been seconded to Harry for the duration of the crisis, on full pay, as has Fleur.   She’s packing at home right now."

"That’s wonderful," Percy said.   "It will be good to have you around a bit more."

Bill paused and looked at Percy.   Then at Penelope.   "Penelope," he said slowly.   "I don’t know what you’ve done, but it’s worked."

Penelope laughed softly.   "Harry did the hard work," she said gently.   "I just helped Percy deal with it.   I’ve always seen the man inside."

Percy was currently proving that he was indeed a Weasley by blushing furiously.

"So," Bill said, changing the subject.   "Where’s Mum today?"

"At Hogwarts," Ginny said promptly.   "She’s helping organise the food for tomorrow’s picnic and barbeque.  I’m having a day off for Harry with the new Butterbeer, games, and food.   And yes, you are all invited."

"Cool," Bill grinned.   "We’ll be there."

"Absolutely," Percy smiled.  

"Okay, Bill," Ginny said.   "Listen up, and I’ll tell you what’s been going on this week."

When she had finished, Bill whistled slowly.   "Wow.   Do any of you feel the same tingle?"

"I do," Percy said.

"Me too," Penelope agreed.

"What tingle?" Ginny asked.

"It’s called hope," Bill said softly.   "It’s something that’s been missing for some time."

"Ginny," Penelope said.   "Why don’t you go wake Harry up? The food is almost ready."

"That smells great," Bill said.

"Bill," Percy sighed.   "Subtlety is not your strong point.   Go and get Fleur and join us."

"Thanks," Bill grinned and jumped into the fire.

"Is he really the oldest?" Percy asked.

Ginny laughed and walked back into the den.   She knelt in front of Harry, and gently brushed his hair back.   This was the time when he was truly hers and hers alone.   No one else got to see what he was like when he was sleeping.   It was different to when he was unconscious; it was more personal, and she knew that if he sensed anyone else, he’d wake instantly.   No one else got to see him looking so young and vulnerable.

"Hey," Harry said, his voice a little croaky.   "I should apologise to Percy."

"I wouldn’t," Ginny said softly.   "They took it as a compliment that you felt safe and comfortable enough to fall asleep here."

"The wine helped," Harry admitted.  

Ginny leaned forward and kissed him softly, feeling him respond to her.   "The food’s ready," she said as she reluctantly pulled away.   "And Bill and Fleur are joining us.   Griphook seems to have been promoted to manager of the Egypt branch, and he put Fleur and Bill under your command for the duration on full pay."

Harry ran his fingers through his hair as he sat up.   "That was nice of Mackrack," he said slowly.   "I wonder how Fleur would feel about doing some modelling."

Ginny blinked and shook her head slightly.   "What?"

"Can you imagine the effect a Veela would have on the market, if we had pictures of her drinking Butterbeer as part of our advertising blitz?"

Ginny paused for a few seconds, letting the thought permeate through her mind.   "That’s a pretty good idea."

"And I can get them doing some serious research as well.   They’re both good at their jobs, so there must be some curses they can find for me."   Harry smiled.   "I’m starting to think about ending this soon."

"You are?" Ginny asked.

"Yeah, it’s interfering with my love life, and I’m not willing for that to happen for much longer."

Ginny smiled broadly and kissed her boyfriend.   "I think I like being your mate," she said firmly.

Harry laughed softly and stood, lifting her with the ease that always thrilled her.   "Come on," he said, as his stomach growled.

"Just take a seat at the table, Harry," Penelope called from the kitchen.

"Thanks," he called back, taking a seat.  

Ginny walked to a cupboard and pulled out some cutlery; she’d never been here, but it was where her Mum had kept them, so she’d guessed that Percy would have as well.

She set the table quickly and then walked into the kitchen to see if she could help.  

"Can I use your Floo for a second?" she asked.

"Better be quick," Percy said firmly.

Ginny nodded and jumped into the fireplace.   It didn’t take her long to persuade Fred and George to donate a few bottles of HonestAbe’s, and she returned loaded down.

"It’s the new Butterbeer," she explained cheerfully to Penelope.

"Oh, what a wonderful idea," Penelope smiled.   "I must admit to being quite curious about it.   Bill and Fleur are talking to Harry."

She nodded and walked back into the den, and took a seat next to Harry and opposite Bill.   There were two places left at each end of the table for Percy and Penelope.

She felt Harry’s hand reach down and hold hers, his thumb lightly brushing over the back of her knuckles.

"Officially, the Goblins are still neutral," Harry said, "but Mackrack and I are friends, so if it came down to it, they would join us.   I’m hoping that they won’t have to.   Their neutrality is good for their business.  

"Mackrack seconding you to me I didn’t expect, but I’m pleased with it.   We’ve got a heavy duty research project going on at the moment, and if we can crack it, the results will reverberate around the world."

"Oh?" Bill asked, looking curious.

"Have you heard of the Homorphus Charm?"

Bill and Fleur shook their heads.

"It’s rumoured to be a cure for werewolves.   As it’s a charm, I’m guessing that the werewolf issue started as a curse.   At the moment, I’ve got Remus, Hermione, and Ron studying it, but as they can only do it part time, so I’d like you two to take over.   It’s important because if we can come up with a cure, it will lose Voldemort some of his supporters, and it will make some of the others think twice about following him."

"If it is, then it’s the ultimate curse," Bill said softly.   He turned to Fleur.   "Sound fun?"

"Eet does," Fleur said, smiling massively.   "We shall enjoy doing zat."

Percy and Penelope walked in, each carrying two steaming plates of what looked like beef stew.   Ginny smiled as she noticed that Harry’s plate was decidedly bigger than everyone else’s.

Penelope sat down, while Percy went back and got the last two plates and a plate of thick white bread.   He placed the plates down and sat at the head of the table.   Ginny got to her feet and poured everyone a glass of the new Butterbeer.

"Before we start," Percy said formally, "I think a toast is in order."

Bill groaned and was elbowed firmly by Fleur.

"Thank you, William," Percy sighed.   "I was merely going to say, ‘To hope.’"

"And to freedom," Harry added.

"To love," Ginny smiled, looking at Harry.

"And to life," Penelope continued.

"To friends," Fleur agreed.

"And to family," Bill finished, looking directly at Harry.

They clicked their glasses together and drank as one.

"Wow," Bill said.   "This stuff is great."

"I know," Ginny smiled.   "You’ll love Fred, George, and Abe’s factory."

"Speaking of that," Harry said, as they all started to eat.   He paused what he was going to say, and turned to Penelope.   "This is great!"

"Thank you," the prim witch said softly.   "It was a recipe of my grandmother’s."

Harry nodded and turned back to Fleur.   "How would you feel about being famous?"

"Een what way?" Fleur asked, daintily taking a bite of the stew.

"Our logo for Honest Abe’s Original Butterbeer is basically Abe’s head on a black background.   While this is good for some people, I don’t think it’s perfect for everyone, especially some of the younger ones.   I was thinking that a series of adverts with you drinking Butterbeer would attract them."

Fleur blushed prettily.   "You want me to be a model?"

"Exactly," Harry smiled.

Fleur looked at Bill.

Bill laughed and shook his head.   "What, you think I’m going to say no?"

Fleur smiled brilliantly.   "I vould luv too!"  

"Great," Harry said.   "I’ll talk to Fred and George tomorrow and get them to talk to some advertising specialists, and we can see what we can come up with.   We’ll be going for classy, as we want this to be a family drink."

Fleur nodded.

Ginny reached out and took some of the bread, tearing it into chunks and placing it on the stew.   She suddenly realised just how much Harry was doing for her family, especially her brothers, and how quietly he was doing it.   Percy’s career was back on track, more so now that Harry had helped knock the stuffing out of him.   This report he was doing was his chance to really be noticed, and he had been given it because of his relationship with Harry.

Fred and George, well, they’d benefited the most.   The way things were going, they’d end up richer than the Malfoys, and it was down to Harry always believing in them that they’d been given the chance.

Bill was now being given the chance to do something extraordinary.   To find the cure for Werewolves, along with the fact that Mackrack now obviously knew who he was, which would help his career as well.

She lightly squeezed Harry’s leg.   She had no idea what he had in mind for Charlie, but was willing to bet everything she’d find out sooner or later.   She wasn’t even sure if it was conscious on his part, or if he just believed that everyone he was with should be happy and successful.  

He’d make a wonderful Minister for Magic.   Apart from being completely incorruptible, and having a nobility streak a mile wide, he was determined to do the right thing, regardless of what other people thought.

"Okay," Harry said.   "Sorry to bring work into this, but I am here for a reason.   Percy, how’s the investigation going?"

"Frustratingly," Percy sighed.   "Our visit to Azkaban was perfect in every aspect."

"And?" Bill asked.

"That’s just it.   It’s a prison.   It should not be perfect.   It was absolutely spotless.   It was as if we had been prepared for."

"Take some Aurors and do a surprise visit next week," Harry said with a frown.   "Don’t tell anyone, except Kingsley, beforehand.   If they’re hiding something, you should be able to find it some way.   There is something going on or Mackrack wouldn’t have given me the hint otherwise."

Percy nodded.   "At the moment, the report, while taking the Ministry to task for its actions, doesn’t have anything dynamite to talk about.   I firmly believe that Azkaban is the key."

"I know you’ll find out what it is, Percy," Harry said confidently.   "If you do run into any problems, let me know.  I can be there in seconds.   And don’t be afraid to fall back into how you were last year.   It may be that these people will respond more to that than how you are at the moment."

Ginny smiled as Percy’s back straightened, and he nodded.   It was another sign of the Harry effect.   A few words from him, and people were revitalised and ready to go back into the fight.

It made her realise that he had been right earlier.   It wasn’t as much what he was doing, as it was that he was doing it.   Despite fighting Voldemort and nearly dying, he was here, giving advice and taking responsibility, giving support, and people were responding to that.   It was as if they had realised that, and though they may be tired and frustrated, they had someone to turn to, and that someone was working harder than they were.

The rest of the meal was spent in general conversation, the subject moving away from Voldemort, and Ginny found that she just had the chance to enjoy a meal, as an adult, with two of her brothers and their partners.   It was the first time she’d done it, with a partner of her own, and she really enjoyed it.   As she finished eating, she shifted nearer Harry and smiled as his arm went around her.   She listened, mentally planning what she would serve when they could throw their own dinner party.

From: SS

To: BB

Subject: Rendezvous

Belle.   Sunday, 1pm.   That clearing in the Forbidden Forest.   I’ll be bringing a guest.


Working for the downfall of the Dark Tosser for fifteen years

From: Informal Belle

To: Stuffy Sev

Subject: Re: Rendezvous

I’ll be there — without bells.


From: Sinistra

To: Headmaster, Hogwarts

Subject: Ginny Weasley


Was Ms Weasley ill today? Only, she wasn’t in my lesson today, and I didn’t have a report from Madam Pomfrey.


From: Albus

To: Astronomy Professor

Subject: Re: Ginny Weasley

Ginny was with Harry today.


Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot and Chairman of the International Confederation of Wizards  

From: Sinistra (again)

To: Headmaster, Hogwarts (again)

Subject: Ginny Weasley (again)


Exactly why was Ms Weasley allowed to skip classes along with Mr Potter? Today was a very important lesson for her OWLs.


From: Albus

To: Sinistra

Cc: All staff

Subject: Re: Ginny Weasley (again)

I’m well aware that our primary function at Hogwarts is to teach, and from that perspective, I will wager that Ginny learnt more today with Harry than she would have here at Hogwarts.   The insight into Goblin society alone is highly educational.  

More importantly though, it has allowed Ginny to spend some time with Harry.   As much as I would rather they were both in school, there are schemes in place to rid the world of Voldemort.   A couple of students missing a few lessons is a small price to pay for that.

Over the next few weeks and months, there will be times when a number of students will simply not be available for classes.

We have an exceptional couple of years’ worth of students, all of whom have rallied around Harry and are dedicated to the complete destruction of Voldemort.   For the first time, my school is becoming one, with inter-house rivalry suspended, and I for one, am extremely pleased to see it.

As it is no longer restricted knowledge, Harry is the only person who can defeat Voldemort.   There are no ifs, buts, or maybes about it.   He has proven over the past few weeks that he can shoulder the mantle of responsible leadership, and as such, and as a professor in his own right, is entitled to a degree of latitude not normally given to either students or staff members.

If anyone has an issue with this, please see me in person.


Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot and Chairman of the International Confederation of Wizards  

From: w4n|} M4K3|25

To: 4L8U5 |}UM8L3|}0|23

Subject: Enhance Your Wand!

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From: The Wizarding World’s Terrific Trio

To: The Wizarding World’s Saviour

Subject: Monday

Attachment: Orderofbusiness.pmt

Harry old boy.   Just to let you know, our first port of call on Monday will be the Butterbeer factory on the outskirts of Guildford.   We’ve attached the schedule for you.


Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes — coming soon to Diagon Alley

From: The Wizarding World’s RELUCTANT saviour

To: Abe and Fred and George

Subject: Re: Monday


Question: Why does your signature say that your store is opening soon when it’s been open for ages, and why does it have the wrong name?


Audaces fortuna juvat

From: The embarrassed ones — not Abe

To: Harry

Subject: Signature

Let’s just say it was a lesson learnt and leave it at that?


Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes — coming soon to Diagon Alley

From: The curious one

To: The curiosities

Subject: Re: Signature

Come on… you can tell me…


Audaces fortuna juvat

From: The curiosities

To: You know what it did to the cat

Subject: Re[2]: Signature

It was one of the things we told Lavender and Parvati.   When we started out, we listened to a salesman and ended up with a load of personalised Mmail paper with the wrong name on it  — way too much actually.   We tried to sue, but the salesman skipped town.   So we’re still using it now for anything not to do with the business itself.


Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes — coming soon to Diagon Alley

From: Cat knower

To: Cat teasers

Subject: The curios cat

At least the cat died happy…


Audaces fortuna juvat

"We’ll see you tomorrow at Hogwarts," Harry said to Percy, Penelope, Bill, and Fleur, as he cuddled Ginny.

"Oh, and wear casual clothing," Ginny added, as Harry Apparated them away.

"Where are we?" Ginny asked, looking around.

"The Carpathian ridges in Romania.   I guessed you’d want to invite Charlie tomorrow as well."

Ginny reached up and pulled him down, kissing him lingeringly.   "I do," she agreed.

"Come on then," he smiled, taking her hand.   The last time he’d seen a dragon was during the Tri-wizard tournament, and that one had been a little grumpy toward him at the time.  

They walked into what looked like a permanent campsite.   "We’re looking for Charlie Weasley," Harry yelled, as someone hurried across the site.

"West field," The man shouted back, pointing to his left.

They walked through the grass in silence, following a trail.   "I’d like to do this again one day," he said quietly.   He didn’t want to think about Voldemort and everything else at the moment.   He just wanted to enjoy the moment with his girlfriend.  

"I know," she whispered simply and moved closer.  

The meal with Percy had been very good, but it had been the idea of having his own dinner parties with Ginny that had been the most restorative thought.   Sure, he was still pretty weak magically, but he could feel his power coming back to him all the time — especially after his cat-nap.

He opened a gate in the fence for Ginny, and they walked through into complete chaos.

One of the dragons, a dark blue one, seemed to be trying to escape, throwing off the ropes that the Dragon Handlers were using to keep it still.   It roared, sending a burst of bright yellow flames high into the sky, before turning violently and running straight toward them.

Harry sighed softly and wondered if his mother’s blessing, that had allowed him to survive, had also ruined his luck.   Because it certainly seemed that whenever he turned up anywhere, something bad happened to him.

"Harry, Ginny, get the hell out of the way!" he could hear Charlie yell.

"Don’t move," he said to Ginny firmly and took a couple of steps forward.   As the dragon got closer, he released his magic, wrapping it around him like a shield, and waited.

When it was only fifteen feet away, he cast a Sonorous charm on his throat.   "Sit!" he yelled.

The noise echoed around the plain like thunder, and the dragon stopped, skidding to a halt in front of him.   It looked at him in surprise.

"What on earth do you think you are doing?" Harry demanded of the dragon.   "I bring my mate to see her brother, and you attack us?   What on earth were you thinking?"

The dragon whined and placed its head on the ground, covering its snout with its front paws.

"Look at the others," Harry continued.   "They’re all being good dragons, but no, not you."

The large grey eyes of the dragon seemed to whirl in apology.   Harry sighed and walked over to it, rubbing its forehead gently.   "Were you just playing?" he asked, cancelling the Sonorous spell.

The dragon nodded.

"You do know that the humans are trying to help you, don’t you?"

The dragon nodded again.

Harry sighed.   "You’re a silly beast, aren’t you?"

The dragon snorted and got back to his feet, sniffing Harry firmly.   He stood there, feeling the heavy breath brushing against him.   He was more than a little surprised that the dragon had done what it was told, as he had been prepared for a fight with it.   He’d have to ask Charlie about it later.

"This is my mate," he said, beckoning Ginny forward.

The dragon sniffed her as well and nodded.

"Do you have a mate?" he asked.

The dragon nodded proudly.

"Well, are you going to introduce us?"

The dragon nodded again and offered a leg to Harry.

"You want us to ride you?"

The dragon nodded for a third time.  

"Cool," Harry grinned.   The thought of flying on a different animal appealed to him immensely.   He’d enjoyed the feeling of flying on Buckbeak when he was younger.   Flying with another animal was very different to flying with a broom.   He placed a leg on the dragon’s, and vaulted on to the huge back, landing between two ridges that seemed to hold him comfortably in place.   He reached down and pulled Ginny up easily from the dragon’s leg, placing her behind him.   He felt her wrap her arms around her waist, and he yelled, "We’re on."

The dragon snorted and turned on the spot, galloping toward the north.   As he picked up speed, he spread his wings, and a second later they were swooping high into the atmosphere.  

He could hear yelling and realised that it was coming from him — Ginny was screaming with pleasure behind him.   It was like nothing he had experienced and made the experience with Buckbeak pale in comparison.   The dragon was so strong, so magical, and so powerful, that he could feel it affect all his senses.

"Faster," he yelled, encouraging the dragon.   The dragon roared, and they went into a steep dive.   They were moving faster than he had ever been before, even on a broom, as they descended from a great height, before swooping over a great lake, their speed causing a huge trail of water to plume behind them.

As suddenly as they had started, they stopped.   The dragon spread his wings wide and reared up, so that they were pressed down.   Almost daintily, the dragon landed in with the herd of other dragons and offered them a leg down.

Harry helped Ginny down first, before vaulting forward, over the dragon’s head, and landing in front of him.

The dragon lowered his head and lightly nudged Harry’s chest.

"Aren’t you a strong one," Harry said softly, rubbing the dragon’s head hard.   "That was amazing."

"It was," Ginny agreed, walking around to the front and rubbing the dragon’s head as well.   She scratched hard between its ears, and the dragon’s left rear leg thumped into the floor with pleasure.

"Thank you very much for the ride," Ginny said to the dragon, giving him one of her most beautiful smiles.   "It was brilliant."

The dragon raised his head, and a little roar came out.   A second dragon moved over.   This one was a beautiful mixture of pale white and yellow.

"Is this your mate?" Harry asked.

The blue dragon nodded.

"She’s beautiful."

The dragon threw his head back and puffed out his chest.

Harry walked over to the white and yellow dragon.   "I’m Harry," he introduced himself.   "This is my mate, Ginny."

The white dragon sniffed them both closely, and then bared its teeth in a draconic grin.   She lowered her head, and Harry scratched it as well.

"Harry," Charlie’s voice rang out.   "Can you ask them to keep the others still for the night?   We want to repair the wards tonight, so that Muggles don’t see their home."

"Did you hear that?" Harry asked.

The dragons snorted.

"Are you going to do it?"

The blue dragon snorted again, and rolled its eyes.

"What’s the matter?" Harry asked.   "Do you not need the wards?"

The dragon shook its head.  

"Why not?"

The dragon roared softly and then seemed to shrug.   It looked frustrated that it couldn’t communicate back with Harry.

"Can I try casting a spell to allow me into your mind?" Harry asked softly.   "I’m very good at it, and I won’t invade your privacy."

The dragon sniffed Harry slowly and then looked into his eyes.   "Only me," Harry agreed.   He wasn’t sure how he knew what the dragon wanted, but it was working.

"Legilimens!" he whispered and floated toward the dragon’s mind.   What he encountered was nothing at all like he had expected.   The dragon seemed to be a mixture of animal and human.   There was definite thought, but also instincts were a lot more important, as were the senses.   He discovered that his own smell was one of power and respect, despite his obvious young age.

He opened his own mind a little, sharing the respect and awe he held the dragons in.   How magnificent they looked, and how strong and powerful they seemed.

In pictures, the dragon flashed a few things at him.   "Crenth?" he thought.   "That’s your name?"

He felt Crenth smile at him.   "Ahh, it’s the name as I would understand it," Harry laughed.   "What’s wrong with the wards?"

Another series of images flashed through his mind, including how the dragons used to live, long before Wizards found them.

"Thank you," he said, and pulled back from Crenth’s mind.

"Charlie," he shouted.   "Cancel the wards spell!"

"Are you insane?" Charlie shouted back.   "They’re the only thing that are stopping the Muggles from finding that dragons exist!"

Harry turned to face Charlie, and around forty other dragon handlers.   He put his hands on his hips.   "Turn off the bloody wards!"

Behind him, he could feel Crenth and Midram, Crenth’s mate; breathe a plume of fire in agreement with him.   It was so bloody typical of wizards to presume that they knew best.  

Charlie gulped and nodded.   He turned and talked to the person who was obviously the boss.   The boss sighed, and nodded, glaring at Harry.

The group of wizards turned around and pointed their wands out, each of them casting a cancelling spell.   There was a display of red light as the wards fell.

"Go on, Crenth," Harry said, turning back to the dragon.

Crenth sat back on his hind legs and raised his face.   He roared into the night sky, breathing fire.   Next to him, Midram did the same.   The other dragons matched them, until the sky was bright with fire.   The fire seemed to arch out above them in a beautiful yellow cover.   With a little grumble, Crenth stopped and the fire seemed to shiver in place for a second before fading away.

Harry held out his hand, feeling for magic, and found that Crenth had been right.   The magic the dragons had produced had given them a much stronger ward.

"I’ll get them to bring you some more food," Harry promised, as Crenth lay down on the ground.

Crenth lightly butted his shoulder.

"You’re welcome," he said softly.   "Come on, Ginny."

She grabbed his arm and walked with him over to the Dragon Handlers.   Charlie, and his boss, moved to the front of the group, waiting for them.

"What was that?" Charlie asked.

Harry sighed.   "Crenth was trying to tell you that they’ve been protecting themselves for far longer than humans have existed.   He knew that you were renewing the wards tonight, and he didn’t want you to do it.   Wizard magic makes them itchy and irritable.   The first group of Dragon Handlers cast the spell as soon as they came here, not noticing that the Dragons already had a ward spell up.

"They’ve dealt with it, realising that you were only trying to help, but Midram is in clutch, and Crenth wants to be a father.   He’s not willing to put up with anything that might make it more difficult for Midram to give birth.

"Dragons are part pure magic," he continued, "as I’m sure you know.   They see things differently.   When he saw me, he recognised my power and came straight over; he was hoping that one of the ‘Old Wizards’ would be able to help him."

"’Old Wizards’?" Charlie asked softly.

Harry sought out Ginny’s hand and held it.   "A wizard who could understand them," he explained.  

"How did you talk to them?"

"Through Legilimency," Harry explained.   "I went inside Crenth’s mind.   He’s amazing; a mixture of human and animal.   He communicates in images, like a Muggle TV."

"Well, Mr Potter," Charlie’s boss said, shaking Harry’s hand.   "You certainly know how to make an entrance.   I’m Morgo Flashchime, by the way.   I’ll apply to the Ministry to get a Legilimens out here to see what else we can find out."

"Pleased to meet you," Harry nodded.   "And this is Ginny Weasley, Charlie’s sister," he added, noting the glance the man through towards the red-haired dragon tamer.

"You also need to be careful to get someone honest," Harry advised.   "If they don’t trust the person, it might not work.   It might be a good idea if I teach Charlie myself.   Crenth trusts him."

"Weasley," Flashchime ordered.   "Go with Mr Potter; come back when you’ve learnt to talk to the dragons."


"You heard me," Flashchime grunted.   "I may be a Dragon Handler, but that doesn’t mean I don’t know what is going on in the rest of the world.   And if the dragons trust him to be their messenger, that’s enough for me."

"Harry, can you really teach me?"

Harry nodded.

"All right!" Charlie yelled, jumping into the sky and pumping his fist.   "And will I get to ride them like you did?"

"Crenth likes flying with humans," Harry smiled.

Charlie took a couple of steps forward and pulled Harry into a tight hug.   "Thank you," he said.

Harry laughed softly.   "You’re welcome," he croaked.   "But air is good."

"Sorry," Charlie grinned and turned to his sister.   "Snapdragon!"   He picked up Ginny and spun her around, before hugging her hard.   "It’s good to see you too.   What are you two doing here, anyway?"

"Well," she said, before Harry could say anything.   "It seems that Harry hasn’t helped your career out recently, so he thought that, after fixing Bill, Percy, Fred and George, he’d get around to you next."

Harry blinked and stared at Ginny.   "Huh?" he asked.   He hadn’t done anything.

"It’s okay," she smiled, hugging his arm and giving him that smile that always said that she knew something he didn’t, and that it was better for him to just accept it.   We came to invite you and Tonks to a picnic and barbeque at Hogwarts tomorrow," Ginny said cheerfully.   "The whole school, as well as all our family, will be there."

"Cool," Charlie nodded.   "I’ll be there, seeing as how I’m now at Harry’s disposal."

Harry laughed softly.   "I’d hardly call it that," he shrugged.   "But come to Hogwarts tomorrow; I think I’m going to have you, Bill, and Fleur stay there."

"Bill and Fleur are going to be staying there as well?"

"Mackrack had them seconded to me," Harry explained.

Charlie nodded slowly.   "Okay, I’ll be there tomorrow morning.   I’ve got a few things to do this evening."

"And we’ve got to get back," Harry agreed.   Thanks to time zones, it was still only nine pm back home.  

From: Excited Dragonboy

To: Siblings of the Male variety

Subject: Our future brother in law and his mate

Harry and Ginny just dropped by to invite me to the party at Hogwarts tomorrow.   As usual, Harry made a bit of an entrance.  Bluedust, one of our bigger dragons was very upset that night, and broke free, running toward Harry.

Of course, I tried to tell him to get out of the way, but since when has that boy ever done anything logical?   Instead, he took a few steps forwards so that he was protecting Ginny and cast a Sonorous spell.   He yelled out ‘Sit’ at the dragon, and the dragon sat.  

As did I.  

As did everyone else in earshot, including my boss and some of the toughest dragon handlers in the world, and every single bloody dragon on the field.  

A few minutes later and Harry’s introduced Ginny to Bluedust as his mate, and they’re being offered a flight on the dragon!   This wasn’t one of our usual flights, where we strap a saddle to the middle of the dragon’s back and don enough padding to survive an attack by an Acromantula.   They sat just behind his neck and seemed perfectly comfortable there.   And judging by the speed Bluedust was going, they were perfectly safe.  

When they got off, both Harry and Ginny were almost glowing with pleasure.   You can see that they both love to fly almost as much as they love each other (and don’t gag till you’ve seen them together).  

Bluedust then introduced his mate, Starsparkle, to Harry and Ginny, before Harry cast Legilimens at the dragon.   When he finished, he’d found out that Bluedust’s real name is Crenth, that the Dragons can do their own wards, and that Wizards and dragons can communicate.

So, my boss has ordered me to stay with Harry till I learn to be a Legilimens as well — I’ll be in England for some time!   And when I’ve finished, I’ll be able to fly with the dragons like Harry and Ginny did.

Speaking of them, I am now feeling quite guilty about what we did.   Seeing the way they hold hands, or the looks they give each other, or the protective way Harry looks after Ginny, even though she doesn’t really need it, shows that he isn’t playing with her — far from it.

In a weird way, I’d love to see someone hurt Ginny a little.   Just because I think the resulting explosion would go down into history as proof positive that you do NOT touch Ginny.

Anyway, Ginny said something that really got me thinking.   When I asked what they were doing here, she said, "It seems that Harry hasn’t helped your career out recently, so he thought that, after fixing Bill, Percy, Fred and George, he’d get around to you next."   I wasn’t sure what she meant, but I think she was giving me a message.



Draconis dominium

From: Percival

To: Siblings (Male)

Subject: Harry and Ginny

Charlie, are you feeling quite all right?   I do believe that your last Mmail was the single longest communiqué I have ever received from you.

I am pleased that you will be back in England.

As for Ginny’s message, it mirrors something I have been thinking myself.   Like you, I share in your guilt, perhaps more so, as it was my stubbornness that dragged it on longer than needed.

Fred and George were not only funded originally by Harry but are poised for further success.   Bill has been given a challenge, which I am sure that he is up to, which will see him hailed as a hero.   My own career is rocketing skyward, as this report has some highly important people knocking on my door, asking advice, and now you will have the chance to become the first true Dragon Rider since the old days.

What I have found interesting is the way that he isn’t giving us anything other than a chance to do it ourselves.   We have been given the chance for success, nothing else.

As for Harry and Ginny, I will admit that I lost the rest of my reservations when I found out that Harry introduced Ginny as his mate to the Goblins.


The information in this Mmail is confidential and may be legally privileged.   It is intended solely for the addressee.   Access to this Mmail by anyone else is unauthorized.   If you are not the intended recipient, any disclosure, copying, distribution or any action taken or omitted to be taken in reliance on it, is prohibited and may be unlawful.

From: Werewolf Curse Breaker

To: The boys

Subject: Re: Harry and Ginny

So, all the boys are going to be in the country in preparation for our Quidditch match next Sunday?   I’m trying to work out if it’s coincidence, or if Harry is merely planning ahead.  

I agree with you Perc(-e+y), he is just giving us a chance — a chance at a lot of hard work actually, but isn’t that what a leader is supposed to do?   He’s delegating tasks that he hasn’t got time to do himself.   Everything is for the war effort, even though he hasn’t said it.

Fred and George: Attacking the financial side

Percy: Attacking from the ministry

Charlie: Air support for when the fight happens

Me: Removing some of Voldemort’s key supporters

Ron:   Helping lead Hogwarts


From: Ron Researching

To: Brothers Becoming

Subject: Re: Harry and Ginny

I got the Mmail about Bill earlier, and I’m happy you’re taking over the research.   Hermione’s got a few starting points for you, so don’t be surprised if we join you in the library a few times.

Interesting list, Bill.   And first, I will say that the chances of you all being in the country when Harry needs you being luck is zero.   He’s planning things so far ahead these days that even Dumbledore is taking more of a back seat.  

Dumbledore offered Harry a seat at the game, and he’s taking it.

You did miss one person out on your list though…


Her role is the most important because she’s Harry’s strength.   Without her, we wouldn’t be in this situation.   When Harry was unconscious this week, Ginny was a mess.   It was almost heartbreaking.   She moved in almost a daze — don’t get me wrong, she was still telling people what to do, and encouraging them, but the light was gone from her eyes.   It was worse than after that bloody diary finished with her because at least we had something to fight then.  This time there was nothing.  

As soon as Harry woke up, so did Ginny.   His first reaction was to look for her.  

Anyway.   I’m looking forward to tomorrow; I can’t wait to try the new Butterbeer, and Mum’s been working with Lavender and Parvati all afternoon, preparing the food.   She’s been ordering supplies in, left, right, and centre — and speaking of that, something’s happened there as well, as she didn’t even flinch when Harry said he was paying — I was expecting an explosion.   Hate to say it, but I think Mum’s realised that Harry’s grown up and is treating him as an adult.


From: Fred, featuring… George!

To: This generation of male Weasleys

Subject: Re[2]: Harry and Ginny

Well, we hate to say we told you so… but…   We told you so!

We’re looking forward to seeing you all tomorrow.   We’ve had a few more developments we should tell you about.   Monday is gonna knock the Wizarding world on its arse!

I don’t think Harry has done what he’s done for us on purpose — that’s not how he works.   He simply sees opportunities and thinks of which of his friends would be the best for it.

You should be grateful that Harry still thinks of you as friends.

You’re all going to love Abe… imagine one of us with as much power as Dumbledore, with over a hundred years of pranking experience!

George, with assistance from… Fred!

Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes — coming soon to Diagon Alley

From: Ron

To: Brothers

Subject: Abe

Don’t worry too much; Abe’s not quite that bad… He’s a very good bloke though.   Got to talk to him a few times while we were keeping Harry company.


On the balcony outside of Harry’s new rooms, Blaise, Susan, Padma, Parvati, Lavender and Luna were sitting in comfortable chairs, drinking glasses of Butterbeer as they stared across the lake.  

Padma pulled out her wand and chanted a spell under her breath, allowing them to see more clearly.

They watched as Harry stood in the middle of the small boat, one arm wrapped around Ginny who was standing in front of him.   He moved his right hand slowly, causing plumes of water to shoot high into the sky.   A bright white light appeared, shining toward them.   As it grew higher in the water, it refracted into an almost dizzying myriad of colours, bathing the water in an amazing light show.

Two of the plumes bent toward each other, creating an archway of pure water that became breathtaking as it moved in front of the light.

Slowly, Harry turned Ginny around and leant down, kissing with her such tenderness and love that it took the watchers’ breath away.   They saw Ginny reach up and gently pull him down, so that they were lying in the bottom of the boat, staring up at the stars.

They were still for a few minutes, talking softly, before Ginny moved on top of Harry and kissed him rather seriously.

Padma sighed softly and let the spell drop, letting them have their privacy.

"Where am I going to find a boy whose idea of romance is creating a beautiful light show, and then staring at the stars from a boat in the middle of a lake?   Where am I going to find a boy who you know will be able to handle it if anything went wrong during that?" Blaise asked, sighing softly.

"Out there with the tiny redhead," Lavender said.   "All you have to do is beat Ginny in a fight, survive Harry’s wrath, rescue him from the depression he’d be in, and then persuade him to love you."

"Oh," Blaise laughed.   "Is that all?   I doubt I could get past step one, never mind step two."

"True," Padma agreed.   "I guess we’re just going to have to tell the boys that if they want to go out with us, they have to act more like Harry, and less like, well, teenage boys."

"This is why I don’t date," Luna said cheerfully.   "I’m waiting till after we leave Hogwarts and get to spend time with non-Hogwarts boys and men.   It’s not exactly a hardship."

"They’re not that bad," Parvati said, "as long as you don’t compare them to Harry.   They’ve got their own charm.   Are you going to join us tomorrow morning?"

"What are you doing?" Susan asked.

"We’re going to make sure Ginny looks perfect.   A full makeover.   I got her some casual clothes for exactly this sort of thing."

"What time?" Blaise asked.

"Well, this thing kicks off at ten, so how about six?   I’m thinking of bringing her here, so she can see where she’s going to be living.   Then we’ll set to work on her."

"I’m in," Blaise said.

"Me too," Susan agreed.

"I’ll be there," Luna smiled.

"I’ll make an effort to get up that early," Padma groaned.

"I’ll wake you," Luna offered brightly.   "Mornings are the best time of the day.   It’s full of hope."

"I’ve always like evenings," Blaise said slowly.   "It closes the day off, drawing a veil over everything that has happened, in preparation for a new day."

"Do you think that they’ll allow us to continue to spend evenings here?" Padma asked softly.

"Yes," Blaise replied instantly.   "Because it’s what Harry wants — a group of people from all the houses wanting to spend time together.   Hopefully, Ginny and Harry will join us as well."

Saturday dawned slowly over the horizon, as Lavender and Parvati entered the fifth year girls’ dorm and sneaked over to Ginny’s bed.

"I wish I had that skin and hair combination," Lavender complained.  

"Oh shush," Parvati grinned.   "Ginny," she called.

"Huh?" she asked, opening her eyes.

"Come on," Lavender said.   "It’s time for you to get ready for the party."

"What? Already?" Ginny asked, still not awake.

"Yep," Parvati agreed.   "Come on."

Ginny sighed and rolled out of bed, still in the long t-shirt she slept in.   The fact it was Harry’s was fairly obvious.

She looked at her watch.   "It’s only six o’clock!" she complained.   "I’m going back to bed."

"No, you’re not," Lavender said, grabbing one hand.  

"You’re coming with us," Parvati added.   "We’ve got one hell of a surprise for you."


"No buts!"

From: Blaise Zabini

To: Professor Dumbledore

Subject: Harry and Ginny

Good Morning, Headmaster.

I was wondering if you could do us a favour this morning.   We’ve kidnapped Ginny, and we are planning on giving her a full makeover before the picnic today.

Would you please keep Harry busy all morning?   We don’t want him to suspect anything.


Blaise Zabini, on behalf of Harry’s Girls — Susan, Padma, Parvati, Lavender, and Luna

From: Albus

To: Harry

Bcc: Harry’s Girls

Subject: This morning

Harry, when you wake up, can you please join me for breakfast this morning?   I’ll be in my office and would like to be bought up to date with your plans.



Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot and Chairman of the International Confederation

From:   Susan

To: Ron Weasley

Subject: Harry

Ron, we’re giving Ginny a bit of a makeover this morning.   We’ve already arranged for Harry to be distracted with Professor Dumbledore this morning.

When Harry gets in the shower, can you go into his trunk and pull out the khaki trousers and deep green shirt that will be on your left and leave them on his bed?


Susan — on behalf of the others.

From: A tired Ron who is going back to sleep.

To: Susan Bones

Subject: Re: Harry

No problem.  


Harry woke, sitting up instantly, and frowned.   He looked at his watch, and he thought of going for a workout.   A large yawn later, he realised that he needed more sleep, so he lay back down, and rolled over.  

He was asleep again in seconds.

"Where are we going?" Ginny asked.   "And you could have let me put some socks on; it’s bloody cold."

"Quiet, wimp," Parvati sighed.   "We’re going to Harry’s rooms."

Ginny instantly perked up.   "Oh, why didn’t you just say so?"

"We’re here," Parvati said, saying the password.

Ginny walked in; glad it had carpeting for her bare feet, she stopped dead in her tracks.   "Oh.   Wow," she said breathlessly.

"Thank you," Padma said from a couch opposite her.   "We did put some work in."

"It looks amazing," Ginny breathed.   The ceiling looked almost transparent, as it matched what she could see outside.

"We know you both love to fly," Blaise said softly.   "So we made the ceiling reflect what it’s really like outside."

"This is huge!"

"We know," Susan agreed.   "It was normal size to start with, but Dobby was horrified with the idea of Harry living in it like that, so he got some of the other house-elves to help reshape it."

"Come and look at this," Luna called.

Ginny walked over and gasped with pleasure as she looked out at the sun slowly rising over the Quidditch pitch.   The balcony looked like it could support a full party.

"This is amazing," Ginny said again.

"You think Harry will like it?" Lavender asked.

"Like it? He’ll love it!" Ginny said firmly.

"Go and see your bedroom," Susan said.

"Okay," Ginny said, and then stopped, blushing.   "You mean Harry’s bedroom?"

"Yeah, right," Blaise snorted.   "You’re little red riding hood, and Harry’s a big bad wolf.   Who are you kidding?   I don’t think anyone in the school expects you to spend time away from here."

"Oh," Ginny said and walked into the bedroom.   She instantly fell completely in love with it.   From the ceiling that was enchanted, to the gloriously huge four poster bed, to the matching colours.

"Right, enough gaping," Lavender said firmly.   "Go get in the shower and make sure you wash your hair!"

"Okay," Ginny said slowly and walked into the bathroom.   She looked around and decided that the girls had been right.   She was moving in here.   She stripped off Harry’s t-shirt and her knickers, and played with the knobs.   She soon had a powerful, hot shower running, and stepped into it, letting the water wake her up completely.  

There were several bottles to one side; obviously Lavender and Parvati had borrowed them from her cupboard.   With a shrug, she started to wash her hair, sighing a little at just how long it took to get it completely clean.

Fifteen minutes later, she finished rinsing the conditioner out and stepped out of the shower.   Her t-shirt had vanished, and all that was left was a pair of high-cut knickers, a sleeveless t-shirt, and a towelling robe.   She dressed quickly and wrapped a towel around her hair.

"Okay," Lavender said.   "I think we’ll start with the hair."

"I’ll do that," Padma said.   "I’ve got some new drying charms that will help."

"And I’ve got a curling charm that will make her hair look amazing," Susan announced.

"Okay, you two get to work.   Sit down, Ginny," Parvati said, pointing to a chair in the middle of the room.   "And take that robe off."

"Why?" Ginny asked.

"No questions," Lavender said firmly.   "Your problem is that you grew up with too many boys, and not nearly enough girls.   When was the last time you shaved your legs?"

"A few days ago," Ginny said, blushing furiously.

"More like a week," Lavender said thoughtfully.   "But never mind, we’re going to wax your legs."

"You’re going to do what?" Ginny asked.

"Wax them.   Well, actually it’s a potion, but that’s hardly the point."

"What does it do?"

"It rips the hair out, and don’t worry," Parvati said cheerfully, bringing over a small cauldron, "it’s got some anti-inflammatory stuff in it as well, so your legs will look perfect."

"Won’t that hurt?"

"Not at all," Lavender promised.   "And don’t move, Blaise and Luna are going to do your nails."

"You know its bad when I know more about being a girl than you do, Ginny," Luna smirked.   "I’ve been one of the make-up experts for the Quibbler for years."

"You were one of them?" Padma asked, surprised.

"Yep," Luna smiled.   "I was so tempted to make it crazy, but I would have felt guilty if someone had actually followed the advice and got hurt, so I used a penname."

"There were some good articles in that.   Who were you?"

"Selene," Luna replied.

"Oh, clever," Padma said.  

"Why is it clever?" Blaise asked, as she pulled a chair over to Ginny.

"Luna is the Roman goddess of the moon.   Selene is the Greek goddess of the moon."

"That is clever," Blaise agreed.   "Pass me the clippers."

Ginny felt a little bewildered as everyone started to work on her.   She could feel Padma and Susan doing something with her hair, and she realised she had no chance of escaping, so she sighed softly and relaxed.   It did feel good to have people paying so much attention to her.   Parvati seemed to be making sure her legs were very dry, applying talcum powder to them as well.

She almost fell asleep as she closed her eyes and relaxed further.   She trusted them completely, even if she did feel like it was a waste of time.

She felt something on her leg, and looked down as Parvati spread a lime green concoction in a strip by her right knee.   Lavender then applied a small cotton strip to it and smiled cheerfully at her.   The girl grabbed the end of the strip and pulled it up her leg, hard.

Ginny screamed, and then swore violently and repeatedly, pulling in every swearword she’d ever heard her brothers use.

"Do you kiss Harry with that mouth?" Susan asked.

"It bloody hurt!" Ginny complained.

"It wasn’t that bad," Lavender said dryly.   "Show some of that Gryffindor courage!"

"You said it wouldn’t hurt!"

"I lied," Lavender admitted with a small shrug.   "Now sit down, and don’t move, you’ll ruin the work."


"—Sit still, Ginny," Blaise said firmly, "and let me work your cuticles."

Ginny sighed and settled back down on to the chair.   Harry had better bloody appreciate what I’m going through for him, she thought.

Harry rolled out of bed, and stretched.   Absently, he padded into the shower.   A few minutes under the hot needle-like stream and he felt much more awake.   It only took him a second to wash his hair.

He wrapped a towel around his waist and walked over to the sink.   He needed a shave, so he looked around quickly.   As no one was around, he moved his hand to his face and cast a spell under his breath.   All the hair around his face and neck fell painlessly into the bowl below, leaving him completely clean shaven.

He ran a comb through his hair quickly and brushed his teeth.  

He gave himself another quick look in the mirror, and then walked back into the boys’ dorm.

"If you walk like that to breakfast, I guarantee that you’ll make every girl in Hogwarts’ year," Dean said dryly.

Harry shot him a foul look.   "Don’t you start," he muttered.   He was a little surprised to see some clothes laid out for him.   With a shrug, he put on some deodorant and got dressed, finishing the outfit with some brown boots.   He glanced outside and saw that it was going to be a nice day, so he carefully rolled up his sleeves, and undid the top two buttons of his shirt.

"Never mind the girls," Seamus grinned.   "I’m thinking of jumping you myself."

Harry grabbed his pillow and heaved it at the Irish boy, hitting him squarely.

"Ron," Harry said.   "I’ve got breakfast with Dumbledore; if you see Ginny, will you tell her I’ll catch up with her when I can?   Oh, and we invited all your brothers to come along."

"Yeah, they Mmailed me last night," Ron said.   "I’ll tell Ginny."


"Okay," Blaise asked.   "What colour are we going to do her fingernails?"

"Leave them clear, I think, just make them shiny," Luna said.   "She doesn’t need any enhancement."   The blonde then picked up Ginny’s hand and slapped her wrist, hard.

"What did you do that for?" Ginny asked, looking bewildered.

"It’s a warning," Luna said calmly.   "Next time you start to bite your nails, you’ll remember that and stop.   We don’t want our work here ruined because you’ve got a nervous habit."

"I’m finished," Blaise said after a few more minutes.  

"We are as well," Padma said.

"And with this," Lavender said, ripping of another strip.   "We’re done as well."

"Another minute here," Luna sighed.   "I’ve just finished repairing teeth damage."

Ginny felt herself blushing.

"Right," Lavender said.   "I’ll get her clothes for the day."   She vanished out of sight and returned a second later with a pile of carefully folded clothes.

"Finished," Luna announced.   She pulled out her wand from behind her ear, and cast a charm at the nails.   "There we go — that will last all day.   As long as you don’t bite them."

"I won’t," Ginny promised fervently.

"Get dressed then," Parvati said.

Ginny nodded and sat up, stretching hard.   She turned her back to the girls and pulled on the white bra that was on top of the pile.   It wasn’t one of hers because she’d never had something this soft and light.   She pulled on the button-up blouse next, wondering if it had been chosen so as to not mess up her hair.   She bent and pulled on the white ankle socks next, and then looked at the skirt provided.

"I can’t wear this to a picnic," she complained.   "Everyone will be able to see up it when I sit down."

"Are you, or are you not, a witch?" Lavender sighed.   "You’re going to put an Obfuscation charm on the bottom, so that no one can see up it."

Ginny paused.   "Can we make that charm specific?"

"What do you mean?"

She grinned wickedly.   "I wouldn’t mind Harry being able to see up it," she said innocently.

Lavender faked a tear and a sniff.   "I’m so proud of her," she said as she turned to the others.   "She’s growing up and learning to tease her man properly."

"I’m not teasing, really," Ginny said.   "I’d quite like the chance to get him alone and awake long enough for him to see if he can find my limits."

"Do you have any?" Blaise snorted.

"Of course not," Ginny grinned.   "But he doesn’t know that.   And if I did, by the time he’s worked up the courage to get that far, I’ll be over them anyway."

"Yes," Padma interrupted before the conversation could deteriorate any further.   "We can make the charm so that Harry can see."

Ginny smiled and pulled on the tight denim skirt and then the white trainers.   "So," she said brightly, as she turned to the others.   "How do I look?"

Blaise whistled slowly.   "Like it’s a good job that Harry is the most powerful bloke in the school, or he’d spend the entire day fighting the other boys off."

"Here’s the deal," Parvati said firmly.   "Obviously, Hermione is going to be your Maid of Honour at your wedding.   You make us all Bridesmaids, and we’ll do this again the morning you get ready."   She moved a large mirror over, so Ginny could see herself for the first time.

She looked at herself, and gasped.   "Deal," she said instantly.   "And you two can design my dress as well, and Harry’s tux.   We’ll let you do a few publicity shots of us."

"Are you sure?" Parvati gasped, looking shocked.

"Definitely," Ginny smiled.

"All right!" Lavender shouted, jumping at Parvati and dancing her around the room.  

"Thank you," Ginny said softly, looking at the other girls.

"You’re welcome," Susan said.   "Now, come and eat some breakfast, before we have to go outside."

"Ginny," Hermione called.   "Can we have a word with you?"

"Sure," Ginny said.

"In private," Hermione said apologetically to the others.  

"We’ll see you outside," Susan said, shepherding the others away.

"What’s up?" Ginny asked.

"Come into the library," Ron suggested.   As they entered, he quickly put up a privacy spell.

"I’ve had an idea," Hermione said.   "We spent most of yesterday trying to find that charm, without much luck, when it suddenly occurred to me that we don’t need it."

"We don’t?" Ginny asked, looking confused.

"No," Hermione agreed.   "What we do is give Harry a fake charm, and tell him that he has to do it at midnight when Remus is in full werewolf mode, and that he should be able to do it easily."

Ginny frowned.   "So he’ll ask the same question I’m asking.   Why hasn’t it been done before?"

"That’s the clever bit," Hermione grinned.   "We’ll tell him that it’s really painful, so no one had the guts to do it.   He’ll do it, and when he does, as it’s a fake spell, he won’t be hurt."

Ginny looked horrified, "Sweet Merlin,  No!" she gasped.   "Oh hell no!   We’re not doing that.   No chance at all."

"Why not?" Ron demanded.

Ginny shook her head.   "I’ve not had a chance to tell you this yet, but Harry’s ability to do whatever he thinks he can do goes both ways.   If he thinks he can’t do something, he won’t.   It’s because he’s got a highly suggestible subconscious.   What do you think would happen if you suggested a curse would be painful?"

Ron and Hermione both paled dramatically.  

"It would be worse than the Cruciatus," Ginny said for them.

"Well, can’t we get him to do it without the pain?" Ron asked.

Ginny shook her head again.   "I’m not willing to use that anymore, and I’m going to be working with Harry to see if we can find a way of controlling it.   Look, I love Remus as much as anyone and I know he would agree that if there was a chance of permanent damage to Harry, he wouldn’t go through with it.   We need to find the correct charm and let Harry perform that, so that we know what the consequences will be."

Hermione nodded slowly, and started to smile.   "I think I’m pleased," she said softly, "because it did seem close to cheating."

Ron laughed softly, and hugged Hermione with one hand.   "In that case, let’s get to the party."

From: HJP

To: The forgetful one

Subject: The Quibbler


What’s your father’s Mmail address?   I think he might be interested in a little project we are organising on Monday.


Audaces fortuna juvat

From: Why am I forgetful?

To: The boy who makes curious comments

Subject:   Re: The Quibbler

Attachment: Dadsaddress.mml

Dad’s address is attached.


The Truth Is Out There

From: Harry

To: Luna

Subject: Why

I was referring to your little performance in the D.A….

Thanks for the Mmail address.


Audaces fortuna juvat

From: Harry Potter

To: Mr Lovegood

Subject: Tip-off

You might want to think about having a cameraman and a reporter available on Monday lunchtime, perhaps having lunch at the Three Broomsticks.


Audaces fortuna juvat

From: Editor in Chief, Quibbler

To: The Boy Who Could Help Find The Mysterious Crockells

Subject: Re Tip-off

Why thank you, young man.

It will be a pleasure to take a working lunch.   I appreciate it.

If you ever want a new pet, I know where you can get an Ashwinder.


"Good morning," Harry said, as he walked into the Headmaster’s office.

"Morning, Harry," Albus replied.   "I hear you had a busy day yesterday?"

"A little," Harry agreed and launched into an edited version of what he had done.

"Interesting," Albus said, as he finished.   "You seem to be intent on getting this over and done with."

Harry nodded.   "I’m still working out the final details," he admitted.   "But the longer this goes on, the longer Voldemort has to grow in strength and power.   We’re close to being ready."

"Can I ask what you intend on doing?"

Harry frowned.   "I’m going to get Voldemort to do something remarkably stupid, but I can’t tell you what at the moment.   It’s a little ironic, but I finally understand why you couldn’t tell me everything.   Sometimes, secrets aren’t yours to share."

Albus smiled faintly.   "And I think I now understand your frustration at not being told everything."

"Well, destroying your own office probably wouldn’t get you very far," Harry said with a smile.   "As much fun as it is."

Albus laughed merrily.   "It’s very unusual for me not to know everything, Harry," he admitted.   "It is a little disconcerting."

Harry nodded.   "But I think that’s enough talk for today.   I promised Ginny that I was hers and hers alone today."

"Quite right," Albus agreed.   "I think it’s time for us to go outside.   I’ve heard some wonderful plans for today.   If it goes well, I think I shall make it a regular event."

"It’s good for the school to do something together where everyone has to make friends with other houses," Harry agreed.

"It is, indeed.   I’m afraid that, with the never-ending battle with Voldemort, I’ve rather taken my eye off the school itself."

Harry shrugged.   "It’s not really your fault.   Everyone just started to believe that they had to live up to their House’s legends.   It didn’t take much to remind everyone that we are all kids."

"All?" Albus asked with a smile.

"Most of them," Harry corrected himself, as they walked out of the school and toward the large field next to the Quidditch pitch, and paused.   "Wow," he whispered.

"I quite agree," Albus said.  

A large canvas marquee hovered in one corner of the field, covering a row of tables that looked to be heaving with food.   He closed his eyes slightly and nodded as he saw the charms keeping the food fresh.

To the left of the marquee was a small tent where he could see Fred, George, Abe, and Charlie, setting up row after row of Butterbeer bottles.

Next to them, Bill, Fleur, and Tonks were setting up a stand full of Weasley Wizard Wheezes.

At a right angle to them, along the back of the pitch, was a row of chairs for the professors, and in front of them, was a large area covered in a humongous multi coloured blanket.

He could see Draco’s blond hair in the distance and was a little surprised to see him sitting next to Terry Boot, very close to Terry in fact.

In front of that was a grassy area where Seamus and Dean were walking around, marking out specific areas with strokes of their wands.

Above everything hovered thousands of small lights that would provide illumination for when it started to go dark.

"I think, Harry," Dumbledore said softly, "that you are right.   When the school works together, there is nothing that we can’t do."

Harry nodded, and turned, and froze.   He tried to blink, to do anything.   He could hear someone telling him to breathe, and it seemed like a good idea.   He shook his head, trying to clear it, but couldn’t.

Ginny was walking toward him.   No, she was floating toward him because no one who looked like that would ever need to walk.

Her long, vibrant red hair had been curled slightly, and the curls tumbled down over her shoulder, the vivid red contrasting sharply with the white blouse she was wearing.   He let his eyes drift downwards, over her hips, and over the denim skirt she was wearing.   It came to mid thigh and exposed a lot of leg that he really wanted to start exploring.   An exceptionally cute pair of socks and trainers finished her look.  

His eyes slid back up her slowly, burning everything into his mind as she walked closer.   He looked at her hands, and noticed that her nails seemed to be shining, before he went back up to her face.

Her lips were smiling at him, and her skin looked perfect in the bright, early morning sunshine.   He met her eyes and finally managed to breathe.

"Hey," Bill said quietly.   "The guests of honour have just arrived."

Tonks let out a slow wolf whistle.   "Charlie, if I wasn’t in love with you, and scared of Ginny, I’d be all over him like a rash."

"No worries," Charlie said back, a grin on his face.   "I’d probably end up fighting you for him as well."

Bill shook his head slowly.   "I really didn’t need to hear that," he said, as he saw what appeared to be most of the school start to fill up the grass.

"And here comes Ginny," Tonks said.   "And I want to hear what they say to each other," she finished, vaulting over the table.

Bill took one look at his sister and joined Tonks, striding over the grass, aware that Fleur was right beside him.

"Harry?" They heard professor Dumbledore say.   "Breathe, Harry."

"Is it wrong to think that your sister looks hot?" Charlie asked under his breath.

"Yes," Bill said.   "But she does."

"We’re not the only one to think so," Charlie pointed out, nodding his head toward the general direction of the other students.

Bill looked around him and sighed.   Some of the students were looking at Ginny like she was a Veela.   "We’ll have to remind them that Ginny’s off limits," he said to Charlie.

Harry seemed to suddenly come back to life, and he took a step toward Ginny, before he paused, and turned, looking at the students.   The Boy-Who-Lived seemed to snarl suddenly, releasing a focused burst of magic.

For a second, Bill was afraid, as if he’d just seen inside a tomb full of the worst curses imaginable.   He looked around again and laughed softly.   "Okay, maybe we won’t," he said to Charlie.   "I think that Harry’s just reminded everyone that Ginny’s his."

"And I think that Ginny won’t take long to remind everyone that he’s hers," Charlie smirked.

They stopped, close enough to listen in, as Ginny and Harry walked toward each other.  

"Ever had the feeling that Voldemort could attack at the moment, and they wouldn’t notice?" Tonks asked in a stage whisper.

Bill laughed, hearing Fleur giggle next to him.

As Harry and Ginny got closer to each other, they stopped barely a foot apart.   Harry reached up, softly touching her face, running his fingers gently over her cheek.

"Every time I see you," he whispered.   "I fall in love with you a little bit more.   At the moment, I can hardly believe that you exist, let alone that you are in love with me.   It makes everything I do and everything I still have to do worthwhile, just to see a smile on your face, just to see that look you give me when you’re proud of me.   You haunt my days and inhabit my dreams, Ginny, and I thank Merlin every day that I have you in my life."

Bill turned slightly to find tears running down Fleur’s cheek.   He could hear Tonks sniffing to the other side and exchanged a guilty look with Charlie.   He almost wished that he hadn’t been listening in on such a private moment.   He looked up at Dumbledore and was a little surprised to see the Headmaster with a similar expression of regret on his face.

"Oh, Harry," Ginny breathed softly.   "I’m very real, and you’ve never, ever, let me down.   You’ve saved my life and saved my soul.   I’ll be in your days for the rest of time."

Bill suddenly swallowed hard and brushed at his cheek.   It must have been one of the Weasley Wheezes, he thought to himself.  

Harry slowly leant forward and kissed Ginny with such tenderness and love, that Bill turned on his heel, no longer wanting to intrude.

He glanced to his side to see Charlie smiling crookedly at him.   "How are we going to apologise?" he mouthed.

"No clue," Charlie mouthed back.  

"So," Ginny said brightly, breaking the mood.   "Is everyone here?"

"I think so," Harry said.   "Even Snape’s out in the sun."

Ginny laughed.   "You should say a few words, thanking everyone for coming," she suggested to Harry.

Harry nodded and strolled forward with her, so that they were in front of the entire school.   "Thank you all for coming," he said.

Bill was a little surprised, as he hadn’t even seen Harry cast the Sonorous spell.   "I can’t tell you just how impressed we are at what you’ve done, this place looks amazing.   You’ve all worked incredibly hard, and it shows."

Bill found himself joining in the cheers from the students.

"Today is a day for us to have fun," Harry continued.   "It’s a day for us to refocus, and a day for us to remember what we are fighting for.   And this is the perfect way to do it.

"Look around you, look at your friends and house mates, the people in the same year as you.   Look at the Professors and people you’ve seen and don’t know.  

"Every single one of you is smiling, is relaxed, and is ready to have fun without the threat of danger.  

"This is the reason.   This is it.   This is what the Death Munchers want to take away from us, and this is what we are fighting to keep.   For one day, we are going to celebrate, and every laugh we have, every smile we break, every look we share will be a direct response to those who don’t want us to be able to do this.   This is the day we affirm our independence and gather around us the energy we need to fight.

"The end is coming, and when it does, we will be ready.   We will have prepared; we will have the ability.   And in the end, when the dust has cleared, we will stand triumphant on the field of victory, and we will have shown the world that Hogwarts is the finest Wizarding School there is!"

Bill roared his approval, his eyes locked on Harry and Ginny.   For a second, they appeared to be more than human.   He shook himself, and the feeling vanished, leaving behind a sense of pride that he knew them both, that he was related to one and would soon be related to the other.   He could hear Fleur screaming her agreement next to him, and as he looked around, he even saw the Professors at the back on their feet with the students, and he realised just why everyone was willing to follow Harry.

The boy was a leader; purely and simply a leader.   He would follow Harry wherever the boy went, and the feeling of hope grew inside him, and before he knew it, he was screaming again.

Harry and Ginny stood still for a minute, and then Harry raised his hand, stopping the cheering as effectively as a conductor controls an orchestra.  "So, let’s get this party started.   Dean? Seamus?"

The two boys moved to the front and talked to Harry quietly.

Harry nodded and waved his hand.   A piece of Mmail paper appeared in front of him.   He appeared to think for a second, and then the paper started to duplicate, the original vanishing as it duplicated.

All around the field, students and professors’ Mmail notification alerts went off.

Bill looked down, as his own went off, and he cast a spell to read it.

"From: Harry

To: Gamma Team

Subject: Teams

Congratulations, you have been selected to represent Gamma Team in today’s competitions.  

The teams have been selected randomly, and each team will have members from all years.

To add an element of competition, each member of the winning team will win house points for the students and bottles of wine for the adults.

Good luck, and remember to have fun.


Audaces fortuna juvat"

"I’m in Gamma," he said.

"Delta," Charlie smiled.

"Alpha," Fleur added.

"Beta," Tonks finished.

"I wonder what team Harry and Ginny are in," he mused.

"You should all have received your team notification," Harry’s enhanced voice said over the chatter.   "We’ll have our first game in half an hour.   Before then, feel free to have a drink; for one day only, the drinks will be free thanks to our sponsors, Honest Abe’s Original Butterbeer."

There was another, smaller, cheer as the students started to walk toward the tables.

"We better get back there," Bill said.   "They’re going to need our help!"

"Damn right," Charlie said, and started to jog toward the table.

He took Fleur’s hand, and walked fast, aware that his elegant, French girlfriend would never jog.  

"Can Harry Potter and Professor Dumbledore please join us at the front?" Dean’s enhanced voice rang out over the crowd.

Harry, a surprised look on his face, lightly kissed Ginny and walked to the front.

"Now," Seamus shouted, his own voice under a sonorous spell.   "Professor Dumbledore and Harry are going to be our judges.   As a lot of today’s competitions are magical, it’s not really fair if any one team has the two most powerful and skilled magic users in their group.

"But," and Seamus paused and shot a grin to the crowd, "it’s hardly fair if they get to watch us making fools of ourselves, and not do so themselves, is it?"

"No!" roared the students.   Harry couldn’t help laughing, especially as he saw Sirius and Juanita shouting along with them.

"So," Dean continued.   "We thought that the first game would be a bit of fun between Harry and the Headmaster.   It’s a little like Muggle football, in that they have to get the ball in their opponent’s net.   But," and he paused dramatically.   "The only rule is that they are not allowed to move.   It must be magic only.   To adjudicate, we have the other non-combatant for the day, Abe Dumbledore."

Harry laughed softly.   "So, are you ready to get beaten?" he asked Albus, knowing that his role was to be the young upstart.

"Beaten? I don’t think so.   I believe I can still teach you a thing or two, you young whipper-snapper," The Headmaster replied jovially.

Harry looked around and then blinked as he saw a flash of white.   He gulped, realised he could see straight up Ginny’s skirt as she sat in front of him.   "Excuse me for one moment," he croaked and jogged over to Ginny.

"You’re flashing everyone," he whispered, as he bent over next to her.

"It’s a charm, Harry," she whispered back, sounding amused.   "I’m flashing you alone; no one else can see anything."

Harry gulped, "How am I supposed to stand up straight now?"

"Umbridge in a bikini?"

"Witch," Harry groaned.

"Just enjoy it," Ginny smiled.

Harry shook his head and tried to think of Umbridge in a bikini.   Unfortunately, bright white knickers kept drowning her out.

"Ready?" Abe asked.

Harry nodded and tried to focus on the game.   Thankfully, he noticed Ginny switch positions, and he realised could concentrate on the game.  

"The rules are simple.   You’re not allowed to attack each other, only the ball.   You’re not allowed to build any permanent structures, and anything you create must be destroyed within five seconds.   Apart from that, anything goes."   Abe held up a large white ball.   "Ready?   Set! Go!"

There was a large cheer as the ball flew into the air.   A bat appeared next to it, and swiped the ball toward Harry’s goal.

Harry threw up his hand, trying to take control of the ball.

"Should I have told you that the ball is charmed to resist direct magic?" Abe’s voice rang out.  

"Yes," Harry shouted back, as he created his own bat and slammed the ball back.   With a wave of his hand, he made the bat vanish and started to plan ways of winning.

"Whoops," Abe said, to chuckles from the watching students.   "I should also have said its best out of three."

A large plant suddenly grew out of the ground and caught the ball it its long branches.   The plant bent all the way backwards and whipped forward fast, throwing the ball back toward Harry’s goal faster than he could see.   He created another bat, only to misjudge it slightly.   The ball sliced down and bounced into his goal.

He swore under his breath and then grinned as he saw Albus doing a small dance on the spot, before raising his fists in victory, extending the index and little finger of each hand.  

He laughed as he heard Dean exclaim in disbelief, "Dumbledore threw up the horns!"

"Round two; if Albus gets this one in, he wins," Abe shouted, throwing the ball into the air.

Harry swished his hands in front of him, creating a small winged creature.   The creature grabbed the ball, and flew toward the goal.   He counted to five, then made the creature vanish, letting the ball continue on its path to Albus’ goal.

A second plant appeared, but Harry was ready this time.   As the plant bent backwards, an axe flew through the air, slicing through the branch.   The ball bounced down and into Albus’ goal.

Harry smiled wildly, and threw a grin at Ginny.   The midday heat was starting to get to him, and he wished he wasn’t wearing such a heavy shirt.   He absently undid it and threw it toward Ginny.

He wondered exactly why Ginny felt the need to stand for a second, and stare at the students behind her.

He shrugged, and wondered how Dumbledore was able to stay in his full robes.

"Built-in cooling charm," Albus called over, obviously interpreting his envious look.

"Final ball, gentlemen."

Now that they had both got the hang of the game it was a more even match, as all sorts of objects flickered in and out of existence, as they fought over the white ball.

Harry managed to get the ball to fly toward his target when Albus raised his hands high, causing the ground itself to rise, protecting the goal.  

The ground returned, and a ball of fire seemed to circle the ball, firing it toward Harry’s goal.   He reached out with one hand toward the lake and pulled a couple of hundred gallons back, using it to dowse the ball, throwing it randomly into the air. Using the elements had given him an idea, though.  

He started to move around the grass, twisting.   He put his hands out and started to hover, twisting faster and faster.

With a yell, he suddenly released a tornado of air that caught the ball and travelled straight at the goal.

Dumbledore threw both his hands forward, and a burst of pure magic knocked the ball off track, sending it spiralling into the sky, before another burst sent it back at Harry.

He grinned; he really couldn’t remember the last time he had had so much fun.   He sunk to his knees and raised his hands.   With a dramatic pause, he brought them both down, jumping to his feet at the same time.   Two hundred new balls appeared around the original, all illusions, next to them, two hundred bats sent them in different directions.

Albus worked faster than Harry would have thought, casting wave after wave of spells that made the illusions vanish.

Harry sent five directly at him while absently kicking the genuine ball along the ground.

Albus, looking up, defeated the balls, not noticing the one trickling along the ground, until it crossed the goal line.

"Goal," Abe yelled.   "Harry Potter wins!"

A second later, Harry found an excited red-haired witch kissing him enthusiastically.   "That was brilliant!" she yelled.   The cheers from the watching students seemed to agree with her.

Harry felt himself blushing and walked over with Ginny to his headmaster.   "Good game," he said loudly, offering his hand.

"Very good game," Albus agreed, shaking his hand enthusiastically.   "I’ve not had as much fun in many years.   We shall have to have a rematch next year."

"Absolutely," Harry grinned and pulled the older man in for a quick hug.  

"Well," Dean’s voice called out over the noise.   "I don’t think anyone quite expected that display of magic.   I’d like to thank Harry Potter and our headmaster, Albus Dumbledore, for starting off the day in style.   The next game will be between Alpha team and Delta team, and will start in an hour.   Lavender, Parvati, Mrs Weasley, and the Hogwarts house-elves have slaved hard, and now it’s time for us to enjoy their efforts.   The charms have been removed from the food, so everyone grab a plate, some food, and tuck in!"

"We’re going to do this in order," Lavender’s voice rang out.   "There is more than enough food for everyone, so don’t worry if you’re last.   Alpha Team, you’re first!"

Harry took his shirt back from Ginny and pulled it back on, not bothering to do that buttons up, as he was still pretty hot.   They walked, hand in hand, and sat next to Ginny’s parents, Percy, Penelope, Sirius, Remus, and Juanita.

"That was amazing," Sirius grinned happily.   "That last move was brilliant, you sneaky little bugger."

Harry smiled, as Ginny sat comfortably in his lap.   "It was a lot of fun," he smiled.   "Did you know I was going to be doing that?" he asked Ginny.

"Nope," she said, kissing him on the side of the face.   "It was good to watch, though.   Even if I did have to remind certain witches and wizards that you belong to me."

"Possessive, aren’t we," he teased.  

"Very," she agreed.   "Are you having a good time?" she asked her parents.

"We are," Arthur said cheerfully.   "It’s good to see all the family here, although most of them are working with Fred and George.   It looks like the new drink is going to be a success."

"We hope so," Harry agreed.   "How did the curse hunting go yesterday?"

"A few leads," Remus said with a shrug.   "But nothing concrete."

"I’ve assigned Fleur and Bill to work on it full time for the next few weeks," Harry said casually.

"You have?" Remus asked.

"Yeah, it’s important that we approach it seriously.   And those two have a lot of experience in curse breaking."

"Thank you," Remus said softly.

Harry shrugged.   "What about you, Juanita, having a good time?"

"I’m a little out of my depth," she smiled.   "You’re not like any wizard I ever saw back home.   They could do little things, but what you were doing…"

"Percy, Penelope, are you enjoying the day?" Harry asked.

"We are, undoubtedly, having a truly splendid time.   The entertainment has been suitably entertaining so far, and I will admit to having a little anticipation toward participating in the games myself."

Harry smiled warmly at Percy, pleased that the once stuffy Weasley was more willing to be himself these days.   He might still talk formally, but Harry suspected that it was more to do with the company he kept at work, rather than any real desire to sound like he had a wand up his…

"It’s our turn for the food," Ginny said, stopping the conversation and interrupting his thought process.

They stood as a group and walked over to the heaving tables, which were covered with every cold food imaginable.   Huge bowls of salad fought for space alongside massive plates of quiche, cold chicken, and sausage rolls.  

"This is amazing," Harry said, turning to Molly.

"Oh, it was nothing," she said, smiling broadly.   "Lavender and Parvati arranged for most of this, I just had the odd suggestion here and there."

With their plates full, they sat back down again and were joined by the rest of the family.

"When’s the last time we were all together like this?" Fred asked cheerfully, as Abe sat next to him.

"I don’t think we ever have had everyone together like this," Ron said, as he sat down with Hermione next to Harry.

"At least, not with us all as couples," Charlie added.

"I guess we’re all just one big happy Weasley family," George said with a grin.

There was a round of groans, as several people threw food at him.   "That’s really bad," Fred said.   "I’m so proud of you."

"Hey, the rest of us are eating," Ginny protested.   "Angelina, can’t you hit him or something?"

"Not today," she laughed.   "But if he’s not a good boy, he’ll regret it later."

There was a round of ribald laughter as George blushed furiously.

The afternoon passed quickly, as different games were played among the ten teams, with some personal grudges being settled in the fun and games.   One of the most amusing was a relay Quidditch race that ended up with McGonagall and Snape racing each other around the field through a course of turns and dips.  

In an absolutely shocking display of cheating and underhandedness, McGonagall cast a charm on Snape’s broom, causing it to go backwards.

Despite Snape’s fervent protests, his appeal for a rematch went unheeded, as, after a quick conversation between the judges, it was decided that nowhere in the rules was sabotaging your opponent’s broom forbidden, and Epsilon team got another ten points.

Ginny, in Zeta team, gathered her team together.   The final contest before the barbeque was a magical dodge ball contest.   In a series of closely run matches, her team was playing Severus’ team in the final.   The winner of the match would be crowned the champion.   She wanted to win, not for the points, but for the kisses she was going to claim from Harry as her reward.

"Okay, listen up," she said.   "First and Second years, I want you to protect the older years.   Your job is to catch or deflect everything that comes toward us.   Third and Fourth years, your job is to get the balls to the Fifth, Six, and Seven years.   Blaise, you’re concentrating on Lavender and Parvati.   Snape’s mine.   Everyone know what they are doing?"

"Yes, Ginny," her team said, looking excited.

"Remember," Ginny said firmly.   "All I ask is that you try your best if you do, we might be defeated, but we will never be beaten.   And the chances are, we will win.   Now, as much as Professor Snape has improved recently, this is our chance for a little payback for all the years he was a git.   Now, are you ready?"

"Yes!" her team yelled.

"Then let’s get ‘em!"

They spread out and approached the other team, who looked as fired up as hers were.   It was almost bizarre to think that Severus would be able to motivate people, but as he had proved earlier, when his team had knocked out McGonagall’s, he certainly could.

She was pretty sure that Harry had not made the teams up randomly, and that she’d been given a bit of a handicap.   Hers was the only group without a Professor, and without any of her family in it.   All it had done was made her more determined that they would win, and she’d played on their underdog status — blithely ignoring the nagging voice that said any team with both her and Blaise in it was not going to be an underdog.

"Ready?" Abe, who had decided he liked being a referee more than serving Butterbeer, shouted.

Ginny held up her hand and pulled her hair back into a ponytail, mentally apologising to her friends for ruining her hairdo.   She turned, and undid her shirt, before tying the tails into a knot under her breasts.   She stretched a little and wished her skirt was a little less restrictive when she felt it give slightly.   She shot a look at Harry, who mouthed, ‘Good luck,’ to her.

She blew him a kiss and made a mental note to give him a firm thank you for transfiguring her skirt so subtlety.

"Stop!" Fred yelled, suddenly running into the middle of the pitch with George.

"What is it?" Abe asked.

Ginny spotted Harry stalking forward, looking around warily for threats.

"We’re taking bets on the outcome, one bet per person.   Seven to two on Snape, two to one on Ginny."

She laughed softly as a storm of people shouted out small amounts of money.   Bill, Charlie and her parents appeared next to George, taking all the bets down on parchment.

"Any more bets?" George asked, as the noise level lowered.

"100 Galleons on Professor Snape," Dumbledore said firmly.

"We can’t cover that," Fred gasped.

"You’re covered," Harry said.   "I’ll bet the same on Ginny with one proviso.   The winner donates the money to St Mungo’s."

"Agreed," Albus said loudly and walked over and shook Harry’s hand.

There was a loud cheer from the students, as Abe took centre stage again.

"Are there any more interruptions?"

"Just one!" Harry yelled, jogging up to Ginny.   He kissed her firmly and whispered, "I love you."

Ginny sighed happily, and just looked at him, knowing she didn’t need to say anything.

He winked at her, and ran back over to his seat next to Albus.

"In that case," Abe shouted, "Let’s play ball!"   He waved his hands dramatically, and fifteen bright red balls took to the sky.

The game was played to the traditional Dodge Ball rules.   Simply, if you were hit, you were out.  

Her first and second years were doing a sterling job.   The charms they used were the simplest — they just had to point and yell the word — but they were very effective at deflecting the balls at the last minute.

The third and fourth years were using Summoning charms to bring the balls nearer, passing them on to the senior students who were using a variety of charms to fire them back at their opponents.

Seeing an opportunity, Ginny ran and dived over a first year, rolling along the ground.   She jumped to her feet at the end of the roll and scooped up a ball, throwing it diagonally into the air.   She pointed her wand at it and fired a blast of magic, catching it at just the right angle to fly directly at Anthony Goldstein, taking the boy out.

She dashed back into the safety of the group and noticed that it was diminishing rapidly.   Snape had obviously ordered his team to pick off her first and second years first, meaning the others had to spend more time defending.

She looked up at her opponents and frowned.   It was going to be a close run thing, as she didn’t have time to change tactics at the moment.   She leaned back slightly, letting a ball fly past and got an idea.   She pointed her wand at the flying ball, and locked it, before spinning, letting the ball pick up speed, before she launched it straight at Lavender.

The ball flew towards the girl’s stomach, but didn’t do any damage, as they had been charmed to stop an inch from the skin.   Lavender groaned and dropped to the floor, crawling out of the match.

As the match continued, more of the students were hit, until there was only Ginny, Blaise, Parvati and Snape.

With a strangled curse, Blaise dodged a ball from Snape and walked right into one from Parvati.

She could hear the crowd cheering them on, shouts of support to both sides echoing around the table.

Ginny grit her teeth, determined that if she was going to do down, she was going to go down fighting — hard.

As two balls flew at her, she jumped in the air and then straightened her legs, leaning back so that the balls flew under and over her.   Craning her head backward, she grabbed two of the balls with her magic, sending them on a corkscrew toward Parvati.

The Gryffindor managed to dodge the first but not the second, which left the final of the competition a one-on-one duel between Ginny and Severus Snape.

Snape immediately spun in a circle, gathering all the balls around him, before launching them one by one at Ginny.

Ginny cart-wheeled to the right, jumping straight into a flip, before diving over another ball, rolling, so that she landed on her back safely.  She raised her legs and pumped them out, using the momentum to move her back onto her feet.   She dived forward, catching a ball in mid-air, and used her movement to power the ball toward at Snape.

Snape jumped, vaulting the ball with ease, but the movement gave Ginny enough chance to get her bearings back and launch her own focused attack.

She quickly cast a Reversal charm on one of the balls, and launched it at herself, swiftly sending the other normal balls out with it.   The non-charmed balls were moving faster, so Snape got to them first, using them to trap Ginny in place.

The Professor smirked, as he realised he had Ginny with nowhere to go.   With a dramatic shake of his wand, he cast the last ball straight at Ginny.

Only, the Reversal charm did its job, and the ball flew directly back at the surprised Snape.

"And the winner is," Abe shouted.   "Zeta team!"

There was a loud cheer from the students and professors, mixed with some good-natured grumblings from the students who had bet on Snape.

Ginny smiled as she bent over, trying to regain her breath.   She looked up and turned to see Harry running at her full speed.   She opened her arms and let him embrace her, swinging her around fast.   "I knew you could do it!" he yelled.

"I didn’t do it," Ginny corrected.   "We did it," she said, nodding at her team.

"And congratulations indeed," Dumbledore said.   "Thirty points to each member of Ginny’s team and first choice of the food at the barbeque."

Ginny slid from Harry’s arms and walked over to her team, kneeling before them.   "I told you," she said softly, "that if you tried your best, it would be all that I could ask.   You did better than that, and I am so proud of all of you.   Every one of you played an important part in our victory, and don’t ever forget it.   Now, go, see your friends, and have fun!"

Her team cheered and ran off excitedly.

"Good work, Ginny," Blaise said softly, embracing the smaller girl.   "You might think that it was a team effort, but in the end, a team is only as good as its leader, and we had the best."

Ginny blushed and looked down at her feet.   "Do I look okay?" she hissed suddenly at Blaise.   "I’ve ruined my hair and my blouse."

Blaise threw her head back and laughed loudly.   She undid her own ponytail and smirked at Ginny.   "Go over to Harry now, and ask him the same question."

"But…" Ginny started.

"No buts, go," Blaise said firmly.

Ginny smiled, and gave Blaise a quick hug.   "I couldn’t ask for a better number two," she whispered and started to jog back to Harry.

She held out her arms to him, and he moved into them, and suddenly, she found herself on top of the Astronomy Tower.

"What are we doing here?" she asked in surprise.

"Do you have any idea what you look like?" he asked, his voice sounding lower than she remembered.

"A mess," she said embarrassedly.   "My hair’s all over the place, I’ve ruined my blouse, and mmph," she finished, as Harry kissed her firmly.

"We’ve not got long," he said apologetically, "But I couldn’t wait any longer to kiss you properly.   You were incredible out there."   He paused and kissed her again, his hands dipping under the back of her shirt and caressing the skin.

She purred against him, definitely wanting to encourage this sort of behaviour.

"I came close to casting a blindness spell on the entire school," he whispered against her lips.   "Didn’t want them seeing how damn sexy you looked."

"Sexy?" Ginny squeaked, and then cursed herself.   Squeaking wasn’t a good way of appearing attractive.

"Oh yeah," Harry groaned, kissing her again.   "I ended up just casting the same charm you used on your skirt on your blouse.   You were bouncing," he said reverently, as his hands slid down and lifted her against him.  

"Oh," Ginny said, feeling the hard rock of the wall of the tower against her back.   "So you looked yourself?"

"Damn right," Harry groaned.   "You’ve been driving me nuts all day; I nearly lost to Albus because all I could think about was your underwear.   It was impossible to sit with your parents, with you in my lap, when all I wanted to do was run my hands under that damn skirt of yours and see if your thighs are as soft as they look, and judging this contest… I didn’t even see Minerva charm Snape’s broom; because I was too busy looking at you."

"What’s stopping you from exploring now?" Ginny demanded, tilting her head so she could kiss him a few times.

"The fact that we’re due back downstairs in a minute or two," Harry sighed, resting his forehead against hers.   "You were brilliant out there, my love.   Like some sort of warrior queen from the past.   You organised your troops, got them working as a team, and in the end, snatched victory from the jaws of defeat.   I’m so proud of you, and so proud that I have you."

Ginny gasped softly, suddenly feeling her eyes tear up.   Hearing Harry praise her like that went straight to her heart, and the only response she could think of was to kiss him, hard, and pour her soul into him.   So she did.

Eventually, to her disappointment, he broke the kiss and took a step away from her.   His hand went to his pocket, and he suddenly looked nervous.

"Ginny," he said softly, his tone suddenly serious.   "I was going to do this later, but I can’t wait anymore.   In the short time we’ve been together, so much has happened between us.    I can hardly remember what my life was like before you launched yourself into it so dramatically."

She suddenly found that she couldn’t breathe.   Her stomach started to twist nervously, as she looked at him, having no idea what he was doing.

"I know we’re young," he continued, "but I also know that I want to spend my life with you.   So," he pulled his hand out from his pocket, revealing a velvet lined black box.   "Will you take this ring, knowing that as soon as we’re old enough, I’ll add a proper engagement ring to it, and as soon as we can afterwards, a full wedding ring?   Will you take this ring, as my promise to you?"

She gaped at him, her mind stopped.   She couldn’t believe what he had just said; it had been the last thing she had expected.  

"Yes, Merlin, yes!" she half screamed and threw her arms around him, bursting into tears.

She felt him hold her gently, stroking her back hard.   She sniffed and held our her ring finger, not knowing if he knew what finger it went on, and not willing to take the chance.

He slid the ring down her finger and smiled at her in a new way.   It was possessive; even more so, as if he’d publicly claimed her now.   She felt the ring tighten around her finger; she looked down at it and gasped.   "It’s gorgeous," she breathed.  

"It’s a family heirloom," Harry said softly.   "When I place the other two rings on your finger, they will merge into one."

"I love it," Ginny said, kissing him firmly.   "And I love you."

Harry kissed her back, lingeringly, before he broke the kiss.   "We’ve got to get back," he grumbled.

"Why?" Ginny asked.   "Can’t you just Apparate us to your bed, and we can continue to celebrate in private?"

"Ginny," Harry sighed.   "There is nothing in the world I’d want to do more than that.   But your entire family is downstairs, as is the rest of the school, and they’re waiting for us so that they can start to eat."

The words Ginny used to explain her thoughts on the school were strangely apt, considering her previous offer, and it put a smile on Harry’s face.

"You better not," Harry grinned.   "That sort of behaviour should be reserved for me, and me alone."

"It is reserved for you," she smiled.   "But we’re going to have to search through that vault of yours and find you a ring as well."

The look Harry shot her almost took her breath away.  

"Come on, my love," he said, and Apparated them away.

They appeared back with the students, near her family.

"Oh My God!" Parvati screamed loudly, attracting everyone’s attention.   "What is on your hand?"

"This?" Ginny said casually, holding up her hand.   "Oh, Harry just promised to marry me as soon as we’re old enough."

Lavender squealed and grabbed her, pulling her away from Harry.   Ginny looked over her shoulder to see Harry being grabbed by Charlie and hugged hard.   She laughed at the look on his face, and turned back, as all of her friends, and her female family members, gathered around, demanding to hear what had happened.

Harry exhaled slowly.   He’d been a little surprised by how firmly he’d been welcomed into the family — even Mr Weasley shaking his hand excitedly.   He’d explained to all of them where he got the idea from and how he was planning on getting engaged to Ginny as soon as he was seventeen and marrying her after she finished school.

Even Ron had congratulated him, pointing out that they really would be brothers now, as he had hugged him.

Molly Weasley, her face blotchy from crying, had taken to hugging him at random moments, and spending others deeply ensconced with Lavender and Parvati, probably arranging his wedding.

After the distraction had subsided, and he was glad he didn’t have to talk anymore, Albus and Abe had worked together so that the picnic tables were magicked away, revealing huge barbeque pits beneath them.   Another charm had set them alight, and all the Hogwarts house-elves appeared, loaded down with platters full of food, and the smell of sizzling meat had awakened the hunger of everyone there.

The sausages, burgers, and steaks, had tasted as good as they had smelt, leaving them all pleasantly full, and they spent the night in loose-knit groups, as people wandered from one to the next, talking under the thousands of lights the Prefects had organised.   At the back, some of the students danced to the soft music.

"Are you sure you know what you’re doing?" Hermione asked, as she sat down next to him with Ron next to her, so that they were in a small triangle.

"I think so," Harry said slowly.   "I meant it, you know?   One of the things Voldemort has been trying to do is to kill hope.   He’s trying to stop us living the lives we want to live.   Well, I want to live my life with Ginny, and that ring is my promise to her that I will do everything and anything I can to survive and put the other two rings on her finger.   We both know that it might not happen, but fear is not a good reason to not do it.  

"I had thought about doing it this evening at the end, but she looked so beautiful; she’d fought so hard to win that I realised I couldn’t wait.   I can’t keep threatening the rest of the school, so this is also a statement to them, that Ginny is mine, and she will be mine for the rest of my life.   And as soon as we can find a ring, I’ll be wearing one as well, so everyone will know that I belong to her, just the same."

Hermione smiled.   "I never thought that when Ginny started kissing you, it would end up like this."

"Who would have thought that?" Harry asked.

"Not me," Ron grinned.   "I was too busy trying to protect Ginny.   Of course, what I should have been doing is trying to protect you, mate.   Once she got her claws into you, you had no chance."

Harry laughed.   "I wouldn’t say she had claws."

"You’ve never been against her," Ron smirked.  

"True," Harry nodded.

"What are you three talking about so intently?" Ginny asked, dropping firmly into Harry’s lap.

"Why you, Ms Weasley," Harry smiled.

"Ms Weasley only till I leave school, then I’ll be Mrs Potter," Ginny said happily.

"See," Ron smirked.   "Told you so."

"Oh shush you," Ginny said, exhaling.  

Harry felt her snuggle deeper into his chest, so he wrapped his arms around her, holding her firmly.   One by one, the rest of the Weasley family joined them, and they spent the evening talking quietly, enjoying the company.

It wasn’t for a while that Harry noticed Ginny had fallen asleep on him.   Her exertions earlier had obviously worn her out.   He shifted slightly, so that she was more comfortable.

"Go and put her to bed, Harry," Molly said softly.   "We’re the last ones out here anyway, and it’s time we went home."

Harry looked around, a little surprised to find that most of the students had already left, some still walking back to the school.   Albus was talking to Dobby in one corner, and dozens of house-elves were at work, cleaning up the mess left by the students.

"I’ll put Hermione to bed as well," Ron said cheerfully.

"No you won’t, Ronald Weasley," Molly said firmly.

"But, you’re letting Harry put Ginny to bed," Ron blurted.

"Actually I told Harry to put Ginny to bed," Molly corrected.   "And I will allow you to do the same, if Hermione desires it, when you have placed a ring on her finger."

"Oh," Ron said, frowning.  

"Don’t even think about it," Hermione said gently.   "We’ll have plenty of time when we’re grown up.   We’re just the support crew; we’ve not got the weight of the world on our shoulders."

"You’re more than the support crew," Harry said.

"I know, Harry," Hermione said softly.   "But it’s the principle that counts.   As much as I’d like it, I can’t take the burden from you.   Ginny can help you in a way I can’t.   You two deserve the relationship you have."

"I completely agree," Percy said, entering the conversation.   "I do apologise for my earlier behaviour, Harry.   There is no one else I would trust as much with my sister."

Harry shrugged and grinned at Percy.   "Don’t worry about it," he said.   He looked down at Ginny and then turned back to the rest of the Weasleys.   "Charlie, I want you to spend the time you’re not with me in the library.   Hermione, can you find him some good books on Occlumency?   Charlie, no practising before I get there.

"Bill, Fleur, I want you to relax tomorrow morning and then meet with Hermione in the afternoon and find out where they got to in researching.

"Molly, I’d rather you started spending time at Hogwarts during the day.   I don’t like you being on your own at the Burrow.   We’ve got more than enough work to go around.

"Percy, you and Penelope can help with the research tomorrow as well.   On Monday, start organising the surprise inspection.   I want you to take along Bill and Charlie when you go.  

"Fred, George, stick with Abe tomorrow and double check everything for Monday’s launch.   I had a Mmail conversation with Luna earlier, and I’ve tipped off her dad, so that we have some press coverage for the early afternoon edition.   It will set off the Prophet, so prepare to be inundated.

"Sirius, Remus, Juanita, be bloody careful.   Tomorrow you’re back on the trail of the Death Munchers’ headquarters.   If you get in trouble, let someone know instantly; we’ll be there to bail you out.

Harry’s face turned serious.   "I don’t want any of you going anywhere on your own now.   Things are going to change tomorrow, and I think we’ll be on the final countdown then.   I can’t afford to have any of you captured now, okay?"

There was a row of slightly stunned faces looking at him, but they all nodded slowly.

Harry smiled at them. "Night," he said softly.   "And thanks for coming today."  

He hugged Ginny a little tighter and Apparated them to her room.

"I wonder what is happening tomorrow," Fred said slowly.   "I would have thought he would have said Monday when we attack the Death Munchers financially."

"Yeah," George agreed.  

"With leadership comes great responsibility," the voice of Albus Dumbledore interrupted them, as he joined them, sitting down in the spot Harry had vacated.   "And Harry now understands a lot more of my own behaviour over the past few years.   There are times when a leader cannot tell everything.   I do know that something is happening tomorrow, but I’m afraid that even I don’t know what, and as much fun as idle speculation is, it will not be helpful in this case."

"We’re his friends though," Ron protested.

"Indeed, you are," Dumbledore agreed.   "And as his friend, you have to trust him that he is keeping secrets for a reason.   You have seen yourself how he is taking the responsibility on himself, and how he is standing tall."

"It was so nice to see him having fun today," Molly said, moving the conversation on with the skill of long practice.

"And to see him protecting Ginny," George smirked.   "Anyone else notice that Ginny suddenly became blurry when she was playing?"

Bill sniggered.   "Yeah, it was hard to miss.   He wasn’t exactly subtle about the Obfuscation charm he placed on her."

"But," Percy interrupted smoothly.   "I do believe that you two owe him an apology."

"We do," Charlie agreed.   "We’re just trying to work out what you can do for the boy who already has our sister."

"Might I suggest a simple apology?" Albus asked.

"Not good enough," Bill said, wrapping an arm around Fleur.   "There’s got to be something that Charlie and I can do for him."

"We’ll think about it," Charlie sighed.   "Still, I can’t wait till next Saturday now."

"The Quidditch match?" Hermione asked.

"Absolutely," Charlie enthused.   "I’ve wanted to play Harry properly for years, and this is my chance."

"I just wish I knew who was on his team," Bill complained.   He looked around and paused.   "You and Remus?" he asked, looking in disbelief at Sirius.

"Yep," Sirius grinned.   "And Snape.   Snape was a very good chaser in his day, and Remus and I were superb beaters."

"We’re going up against the Marauders!" Fred and George said together, jumping to their feet and doing a small jig.

"We said the same thing," Remus said dryly.  

"So, we’ve got Snape and Ginny as Chasers, Harry as Seeker, and Remus and Sirius as Beaters," Bill said.   "So, who’s the other Chaser, and who’s going to be the Keeper?"

"No idea," Sirius said promptly.   "But I can’t wait to find out.   And you know, I wouldn’t be surprised if who ever they are just happened to be someone we need around here."

The others laughed.   "Well," Bill yawned.   "We’ve all been told what to do, so I suggest we do it."

"Agreed," Percy said, standing.   "It’s been an immensely pleasurable day."

"And one I shall be doing again next year," Dumbledore said firmly.   "It shall be an annual event.   With Voldemort gone next year, I think I shall invite all the parents and make it a full day."

"Good idea," Arthur said jovially.   "Those games were a lot of fun."

"Come on, dear," Molly said, taking Arthur’s arm.   "We’ll see you tomorrow.   I do hope I remember how to research."

Harry appeared in the dark of Ginny’s dorm room, and he instantly cast a privacy spell around himself and Ginny’s bed.   The last thing he wanted to do was startle some of her roommates.   He placed her on the bed gently, and lightly stroked her hair back from her face.  

As gently as he could, he undid her trainers and pulled them off, along with her socks.   He suddenly wished that Molly was here to help him.   He knew he had to take off her bra so she’d be able to sleep comfortably, but doing it when she was asleep seemed wrong.   And as much as he wanted to see what was under the bra, he really wanted to do so with her encouragement and participation.

With a sigh, he closed his eyes and did his best to transfigure her clothes into something more comfortable.   He peeked, and was relieved that he seemed to have succeeded in turning her clothes into a long nightdress.  

He slid her under the covers, and kissed her forehead softly.  

"I love you," he whispered, and Apparated to his own bed, making a mental note to find out what was happening with his Professor’s Room.

Ginny woke and stretched, and sat up suddenly.   "I fell asleep?" she whispered.   "Oh bugger, I fell asleep."   She felt like crying.   All the times she’d wanted to spend the night with Harry, and he’d even gone so far as to pre-propose to her.   And then, with even her mum happy, she’d gone and bloody fallen asleep.

She looked down and blinked.   Before she knew it, she was giggling.   Harry had quite definitely put her to bed last night, and her future fiancée had been as noble as always, despite the obvious temptation.  

Her nightgown was something she was going to have to keep, just to show her Mum.   Harry might be an incredible wizard, but they had obviously found his fatal weakness — transfiguring clothes.   Her skirt and shirt had been merged into one garment, and changed into something soft, although she wasn’t sure what the new material actually was.   She peaked down the front of the thing, and sure enough, the imprint of her bra was on the inside.

She stripped it off smoothly and folded it up, placing it neatly in her chest, before picking up one of her robes and going to have a shower.

From: Ginny

To: Mum

Subject: Last night

Morning, Mum, just wanted to let you know that my darling pre-fiancée might be the best fighter in the world, but I’m going to have to be the one fixing the clothes.

In order to protect my dignity, he transfigured my clothes into… something that was basically everything I was wearing morphed together — even my bra.  


Audaces fortuna juvat

From: Mum

To: My pre-engaged daughter

Subject: Re: Last night

I must say that I’m pleased, if a little surprised, as I did expect him to put you to bed properly.

After you fell asleep, Harry decided that all of us should spend more time at Hogwarts.   As such, I will be spending my days in the library with Bill, Charlie, and Fleur.   I just hope I remember how to research.

Do you know why Harry thinks that things are going to change today?


Mum — who sees you’ve taken Harry’s signature.

From: Ginny

To: Mum

Subject: Re[2]: Harry

I’m not surprised… we’ve not actually managed to get past the kissing stage yet.   One of us is normally unconscious, asleep, or so busy we can’t stop.   It’s really frustrating.

And yeah, I do know what is happening today.   I can’t tell you what though.


Ginny — it’s his family motto — and as I’m joining his family, it’s going to be mine as well.

Audaces fortuna juvat

From: Mum

To: My not-so-little Girl

Subject: Re[3]: Harry

What ever you do with Harry, just be careful — please.

I don’t need to know what is happening today, I’m just pleased to know that he has someone he can talk to.



From: Harry Potter

To: Minerva McGonagall

Subject: This morning

Sorry to bother you on a Sunday, Minerva, but if everyone else is working today, I’m afraid that I’m going to have to coerce you as well.   Can I spend the morning working on my Animagus forms with you?



Audaces fortuna juvat

From: The Deputy Headmistress of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry

To: The Boy Who Took Control

Subject: Re: This morning

Attachment: directions.pmt

Morning Harry.

Somehow, I am not surprised at your request.   Come to my quarters, we’ll have breakfast and go over the basics of the transformation, and then we’ll start to work on changing shapes.


yawning sleepily

From: Harry

To: My future wife

Subject: This morning

Morning, love.

I just wanted to tell you I’ve got an Occlumency lesson this morning I forgot about.   I’ve then got that meeting at lunchtime.   Can you keep an eye over everyone this morning, and make sure everything is going smoothly?

See if you can rope Flitwick into helping as well.   I’d rather not pull in the other students yet; let them enjoy a few more days, before I set them to work.

Love you,


Audaces fortuna juvat

From: The Future Mrs Potter

To: Mr Potter

Subject: Re: This Morning

Harry, I’m sorry I fell asleep on you yesterday.   I really wanted a decent snog session, but you felt so good, and I was so relaxed, I couldn’t help it.

I’ll spend the morning in the Library.  Charlie can be a little distracting, as he doesn’t really like studying, but I’ll remind him about riding Crenth properly.

Good luck today, and don’t let her get to you.

Love you more,


 Audaces fortuna juvat

Harry walked toward McGonagall’s room slowly, whistling under his breath.   He felt better than he had in ages.   The day off had done him more good than he had thought, as he felt rejuvenated.   Having a day where he hadn’t had to worry about anything more serious than who won a competition had been wonderful, and he knew he was going to have to give Ginny a very private thank you as soon as he could think of something to do for her.

Of everything he ever been given, yesterday’s peace had been the best.

He knocked on the statue that McGonagall’s directions told him to, and a second later, it pulled into a recess, revealing a wooden door that swung open.

He was more than a little surprised to see his teacher was wearing Muggle clothing and had her hair down.

"I do know how to relax, Harry," she said cheerfully.   "Come and sit down."

Harry nodded and followed her into a small kitchen area, where a table was set with two places.   He sat down and smiled as he recognised the bottles of drink on the table.

"Fred and George were most generous," his professor said calmly.   "And I managed to snag some bottles at the end of the day."

"They are expecting to get the money back from the students," Harry said with a smile.

"Judging by the reaction, I have no doubt of that at all," Minerva said dryly.   "Eat, don’t stand on attention."

Harry smiled and nodded, digging in.  

"Changing forms, Harry, is as much mental as it is magical," Minerva started.   "You’re forcing your body to change into a new shape.   This shape won’t feel natural at first; you have sixteen years of your current shape to overcome, and after a while  you will find that you are equally at home in any of your three shapes.

"The process itself is pretty simple.   You fix the shape you want to change firmly in your mind, and then you use your magic to transfigure yourself into that shape.   There is no spell, no incantation; it is purely internal magic.  

"The first time I tried, it was after many months of studying, of working out how my magic actually works, so that I knew it well enough to be able to trust it to change my shape.   You don’t need that.   You already know your magic much better than most wizards ever do.  

"What do you feel when you use wandless magic?"

Harry swallowed the last of his egg and thought for a second.   "In control," he said slowly.   "It’s simple, really.  I kind of tell my magic what I want it to do, and it does it for me.   I just have to control how much power I use, so that I am controlling the magic instead of the magic controlling me."

Minerva smiled widely.   "That’s exactly it, Harry.   It’s that relationship with magic which is the cornerstone of an Animagus’ ability.    Take a drink, and come with me; and we’ll try a transformation."

"Already?" Harry asked, surprised.

Minerva nodded.   "Think for a second, Harry.   You already know how to Apparate, so that shows you can control your body and your magic, enough to transport yourself anywhere in the world.   You already have your animals in your mind, so we know that you do have the talent to be an Animagus, which isn’t a surprise as your father was one, and the talent is often hereditary.   And you know how your magic works.   So you have the key skills needed.  

"When your father, Sirius, and Pettigrew became Animagi, they didn’t have any of that, and they had to start from scratch.   On top of that, they had to go at a pace that Pettigrew could keep up with.   And he was never the strongest of wizards."

Harry nodded slowly, everything she said did make sense.   And if Pettigrew could become an Animagus, then he must be able to as well.  

"What do I do?" he asked, eagerly.

Minerva smiled slowly and walked into her living room.   "Watch my magic, Harry, as I transform."

Harry nodded, squinting a little as he watched his Professor, slowly shrink and start to grow fur.   Her transformation was much slower than he had ever seen before, but he could see the way her magic flowed around her, and into her, as she finished the transformation.

It didn’t look that difficult.

"Harry," Minerva said, as she returned to her normal form.  "I want you to close your eyes and find your wolf.   If you need to, I can help put you back in the trance."

Harry shook his head, and closed his eyes.   He concentrated, mentally calling for it to come out to him, and a second later, it did, bounding out of the recesses of his mind eagerly, as if it wanted to be free.

"I’ve got him," he whispered.

"Excellent, Harry.   Keep him firmly in your mind and then simply let your magic go.   Become the wolf, Harry.   Change yourself into it.   It will hurt the first few times, but it’s nothing compared to the Cruciatus curse."

Harry nodded and slowly released his magic.   He could feel the changes as they happened around him.   His fingers split, and while painful, it wasn’t as bad as he would have thought it would be.   He could feel huge nails appearing in his hands, and the bones start to change shape.

He opened his eyes, and saw the room start to rise as he sunk forward; his spine changed shape, forcing him on to all fours.   He opened his mouth and felt his teeth push forward painfully; he tried to yell, but his tongue grew, filling his mouth.

Suddenly, the pain stopped, and he was still.   He looked around, and blinked, repeatedly.   Everything was so bright and so very clear.   He could see the individual weaves that made up the couch, and he could see the cat hair clearly attached to it.

He inhaled sharply and almost sneezed.   He could smell the breakfast in the other room, the flowers in the window, and the faint jasmine that was coming from his professor.

He looked down at his new paws.   They appeared huge to him with vicious looking claws out the front.   He lifted his paw, turning it, examining it, lightly moving, until he found out how he could control them.

"Harry?"   The voice was loud, too loud, and he looked around.

"Why don’t you take a few steps around?"

He nodded and moved his front paws — and almost over-balanced.

"You have to walk with all four legs," he heard McGonagall say, and he could distinctly hear the amusement in her voice.

He tried again, stumbling a little, until it became more natural for him.   It was like swimming, in a way, the movements unnatural and uncomfortable until they suddenly clicked, and his body told him exactly how it wanted to move.

Harry heard something roll on the floor behind him and turned, leaping.   He growled, as he landed on it, his claws out.  

"Sorry," Minerva said, only he could tell she wasn’t sorry at all.   Her voice was a lot more open to him.   He growled softly at her, and looked down at the cat toy dwarfed by his paws.

He pushed it away and went back to walking around the room.  

He’d never felt so powerful before, never felt like he had so much energy, like he could run all day and still be able to protect his pack and his mate.

His mate.   He wanted to see his mate, but knew he couldn’t.   Everything seemed a little more uncomplicated at the moment.   Protect his mate, protect his pack, and stop everything that stood in his way.

He growled again, a warning growl, to anyone, everyone, in his way.  

"Harry," he heard her call again.   "I want you to turn back now."

He whined a little; he didn’t want to turn back.   He liked it like this.

"Ginny isn’t a wolf, Harry," he heard her point out, and he could hear her amusement.   "Like you did before, picture yourself and let your magic do its job."

He nodded, and found his form mentally.   It was different going back; it was like putting on a pair of old jeans — comfortable and reassuring.  

"Wow," he said softly, as he stood up.   He looked around and then blinked.   "Where do my clothes go?"

Minerva laughed, throwing her head back.   "Of all the questions you could ask, Harry.   Your magic takes care of them and your glasses."

Harry nodded.   "That was amazing," he said.   "I felt so strong, like nothing could stand in my way.   I didn’t want to come back."

"We all feel like that the first time," she agreed.   "It gets easier each time, till it’s just another part of you.   Tomorrow, we’ll work on your other form.   Now, you must be tired, do you want a nap?"

Harry nodded again; now that she mentioned it, he was a little tired.   He collapsed onto the couch he had examined earlier and gave into the urge to curl up.   A second later, he was fast asleep.

From: Victorious Min

To: Filius

Subject: Wolf-boy

He did it!

He did it!

He was magnificent.  

Albus gave me the clue sometime ago, suggesting that I look at Harry’s relationship with magic.   It turns out that he already has the necessary ability.   I just told him what to do, demonstrated it once, and let him do it.

He’s napping on my couch now; tomorrow, we’ll do his other shape.


purring like a lawnmower

From: Filosophical Flitwick

To: Marvellous Minerva

Subject: Re: Wolf-boy


What did he look like?


From: Mean Min

To: Flippant Fil

Subject: Re[2]: Wolf-boy

Not going to tell you.   Not going to tell you.   I’m not going to spoil the surprise for anyone!


still purring

From: Minerva

To: Albie

Subject: Harry


Harry has successfully completed his first transformation.


pleased purr

From: Your boss

To: Staff member

Subject: Re: Harry

And?   Details please, Min.


From: You couldn’t run the school without me

To: Over-opinionated boss

Subject: Re[2]: Harry

I’m not going to tell you, either.   That’s up to Harry.



Harry woke from his nap, feeling refreshed.   He glanced at his watch and stretched, before he stood and walked into the kitchen.   He smiled, "I never realised how hard professors had to work."

Minerva looked up from the homework she was marking.   "Fancy doing some for me?"

"Normally, I’d love to," Harry said dryly, "but I’ve got an appointment."

"Of course," Minerva said, rolling her eyes playfully.  "Come and see me tomorrow afternoon, and we’ll do your hawk."

Harry nodded.   "Thanks, for everything."

She smiled brightly at him.   "One of the greatest gifts an educator can receive is a student who listens and excels.   Now, get to your meeting; I’ve got another fifteen essays to mark."

Harry nodded and said goodbye, walking out of the room, heading toward Severus’ dungeon.   He knocked on the door and entered as it opened.

"Ready?" he asked.

"Quite," Severus said, a faint smile on his face.


"In a way, yes.   Your first love is always special, even if things don’t work out, and Bella was mine."

"I am, as well," Harry admitted.   "This is the day that everything changes.   If this goes right, I’ll have a spy in the Inner Circle, and my plans will almost be complete."   He paused, and shook himself slightly.   "I’m going to Apparate us to the edge of the Forest.   I don’t think we should be seen."

"Good idea," Snape agreed.   "Shall we go?"

Harry offered his hand, and as Snape took it, he Apparated them both through the wards and into the forest.

"Do you know the way?" Harry asked.

"That’s the sort of question you should have asked beforehand," Snape smirked.

"True," Harry said with a shrug.   "So, do you?"

"Of course," Snape grinned.   "This way."

They walked through the twisted forest.   Despite the fact that it was midday, the forest was dark, still and somehow oppressive.

Harry sniffed the air absently, before realising that it was more of a wolf move than a human one.   He could smell something, and he realised that he wanted to change forms.   There was something about this forest that was almost appealing to his other form.

The proceeded in silence for a while before Snape said.   "I come out here for potions ingredients."

Harry nodded, as he looked around.   "I can see why."   He grinned suddenly.   "I’ll bet it’s cheaper?"

Snape nodded.   "Albus does so hate to have his budget spent on something that third years will turn into sludge."

Harry laughed softly.

"We’re here."

They entered a large circular clearing.   It almost looked like a meeting point with fallen trees surrounding it and a circle of stones in the middle.   Harry walked over to one side, and sat down comfortably.

"Are you going to want to talk to her privately?" Harry asked Snape.

Snape thought for a second and then shrugged.   "I don’t know," he admitted.   "I’ve only seen her while I’ve been spying for the past fifteen years."

Harry nodded. He looked at his watch, and as the clock turned to one pm, she arrived.

"Punctual," Harry said dryly, not standing.

"Potter," Bellatrix sneered, although it appeared to be more automatic than anything else.

"Bella," Snape nodded.

"Sev," Bellatrix replied, a faint smile appearing on her face.

"Well, you still look like shit," Harry said casually.   "Azkaban really doesn’t agree with you."

"It doesn’t," Bella agreed.   "And I have no real wish to go back there."

"You do know that at the moment, I’m more likely to rip your throat out than help you?" Harry said, still keeping his voice casual.

"You?" Bella laughed mockingly.

Harry drove to his feet, moving as fast as he could, pushing himself to get to her as quickly as possible.   He summoned his sword from the D.A. storeroom, and stopped, dead still, peering into Bella’s eyes, the sword against her throat.

She paled dramatically and looked at him in absolute shock.

"Why shouldn’t I just kill you?" he demanded coldly, as he stared at the woman who had dared to try and touch his Ginny.

He saw recognition appear in Bella’s eyes; recognition that he could go through with it.

"Severus?" she whispered pleadingly.

"No, Bella," Snape said from somewhere behind him.   "Things have changed.   I work for him now."

"I don’t know," Bella said honestly, answering his original question.

Harry stepped back, sending the sword back to its home with a snap of his fingers.   "I’ve got a take it or leave it deal for you, Bellatrix."

"What?" Bella croaked, falling to her knees and looking defeated.

"You do what I tell you, and you get a second chance when Voldemort is defeated.   You don’t get a clean sheet, just a suspended sentence.   What it means is that you pay me personally for your crimes."

"What do I have to do?"

"You are going to spy for me.   You are going to do what Sev did, and when the time is right, you are going to do everything you can to get Voldemort to do what I want him to."

"Voldemort will kill me if he finds out," Bella said softly.

"And how is that different to normal?"

Bella smiled crookedly.   "It’s not, really," she agreed.   "You’ve changed."

"I have," he agreed.   "Do we have a deal?"

"If I do it, you’ll remove my Dark Mark?"

Harry nodded once.

"And you’ll let me live afterwards?"

"You have my word."

"I’ll do it.   But what about my sister?"

"What about her?" Harry asked coldly.

"Can the same apply to her?"

"The more people who know, the more dangerous it is for you."

"Narcissa would never tell anyone, not even Lucius."

Harry sighed softly.   "Okay.   I’ll give her the same deal.   If she can persuade Lucius to back you up when I tell you what I want, it will be useful."

"Thank you," Bella said, looking uncomfortable as she said it.

Harry nodded.   "Sev will be in contact.  I won’t be."

Bella nodded.

"Sev?" Harry asked.

"Nothing," he said simply.

"I’d say it was a pleasure, but I’d be lying," Harry said.   "And you’re quite welcome to try and betray me.   It will set me back a bit, but I’ll still win and when I do, you’ll see why Voldemort is scared of me."   He said the last bit in the coldest voice he could.

Bella nodded.   "I won’t," she said simply.   "Voldemort is back on his feet, Lucius got him some sort of potion out of storage, and it seemed to return him to a human state."   She nodded to Severus and vanished.

Severus walked over to Harry and sat on the edge of a tree.   "You were going to kill her," he stated.

"I was bluffing," Harry said, collapsing onto the grass.

"Bluffing?" Severus called, looking shocked.

"Absolutely," Harry sighed.   "She’s used to dealing with Voldemort, so I knew I had to get through to her the hard way.   She needed to see that I was capable of giving her the future she wants."

"You scared me."

Harry shrugged.   "I thought I might," he said.   "It’s why I didn’t tell you beforehand what was going to happen.   I wanted your reaction to be genuine as well."

"It was," Sev grinned.   "And my dry cleaners would appreciate it if you never talked to me like that."

Harry laughed.   "I need a drink.   I didn’t expect Voldemort to be back on his feet so fast."

"Three Broomsticks?"

"Sounds like a plan," Harry agreed.

"I’ll buy you lunch," Snape offered.

"See you there," Harry said, as he Apparated away, not bothering to stand up first.

After lunch, Harry walked into the Library at Hogwarts, feeling a little tired.   He laughed softly as he looked over the table.   There was a row of red-heads studying books, partners opposite them.  

He walked over to Ginny silently.   "Hey, pretty lady," he purred.   "Come here often?"

Ginny didn’t look up.   "Occasionally," she sniffed.

"You want to go for a drink?" he asked.

"Not interested," Ginny said again, without looking up.  

The others were now watching them intently.

"My future husband’s the jealous sort," Ginny continued.   "He wouldn’t take kindly to me going off with someone who tried to pick me up in a library."

"I’m not scared of him," Harry grinned.   "And what’s wrong with a library?"   He moved closer to her, and quickly placed his hands under her arms, and lifted her back, over the chair.

"Put me down, you beast," Ginny said dramatically.

"Oh no," Harry smirked.   "I’m just proving that I can pick you up in a library."

Ginny sighed audibly.   "That’s a really bad pun!"

"I know."   He turned her around in his arms.   "But you’re right."

"Of course I am," Ginny agreed.   "About what?"

"I am the jealous type," he said.   "And I don’t share you with anyone."

"Good," Ginny smiled and wrapped her arms around his neck.   She pulled him down and kissed him softly.   "I do love you, bad lines and all."

"Good," Harry parroted.  

"How did it go today?"

Harry walked over to the head of the table and sat down, placing Ginny down in his lap.   "Very good meetings.   Things are going as planned," he told them.   "Things are coming together, and the tide is going the way I want it to."

"You’re starting to sound like Professor Dumbledore," Ron complained.

Harry blinked and laughed.   "Why thank you, I think," he smiled.   "Now that I’m on the other side of it, I understand why Dumbledore talks like he does.   It makes perfect sense if you know both sides of the story.

"Anyway," he continued.   "Charlie, you’re with me; the rest of you continue."

"What about me?" Ginny asked cutely.

"Wherever you want to be, sweetheart," Harry said.

"Good answer," Ginny praised.   "I’ll get back to researching."

Harry stretched and looked at the tired people in the Library.   Charlie had been an eager student, more than ready to run before he could walk, and Harry had spent as much time holding him back as pushing him forward.   Still, the second oldest Weasley offspring did have some latent talent, and would be able to communicate with the dragons eventually.

"Okay, let’s call it a night," Harry said.   "We’ve gone through an amazing amount of books today, and we’ve got some positive leads to be followed up.   We’ve all got school or jobs tomorrow, so let’s hit the sack."

"Carry me?" Ginny asked, walking over to him.

"Always," Harry smiled.   "But I think I want to talk to you alone.   I’ve got something to show you."

"I’ll bet you have," Charlie smirked.  

"Mind, Gutter, Out!" Harry said firmly.  

Charlie snorted.

"Let’s get out of here," Harry sighed to Ginny.   "Night all," he finished, as he wrapped an arm around Ginny and Apparated them both away to the Room of Requirement.

"Why are we here?" Ginny asked.

"I’ve not been totally truthful with you," Harry said softly.

"What do you mean?"

"I’ve not been in Occlumency lessons.   I’ve been learning to be an Animagus with Min."

Ginny’s eyes seemed to open wider than he had ever seen them.   "Really?" she gasped.

He nodded.   "I didn’t want anyone else to know yet."

"Good plan," Ginny smiled, nodding in an approving manner.

"You’re not mad?"

"You’re going to show me now, aren’t you?"

Harry nodded.

"Then of course not," Ginny said, a wide smile on her face.

Harry laughed softly and shook his head.   He moved to the centre of the room, and concentrated.   As he had before, he pulled forth the image of his wolf form and merged himself into it.   It was a little easier this time.  

He stretched his new body and padded over to Ginny, sniffing her.   If he could have, he would have smiled.   He could just detect a faint hint of himself on her, marking her as his.   He rested his head on her knee and looked up at her, giving in to the urge to study her from a new angle and from a different perspective.

"Oh, Harry," she cried softly.   "You are so beautiful."

He frowned a little, not sure if beautiful was the right word for him.  

Ginny reached out and gently scratched his head.   He pressed his head firmly into the fingers, wanting a firmer touch.   He turned slightly and licked her wrist, causing her to giggle.   She tasted clean and fresh, and his.

"Can you walk around for me?" Ginny asked.

Harry pulled away from her and started to walk around the Room.   As he got used to moving again, he started to jog, getting used to the muscles he could feel, before he took off, running as fast as he could.     He quickly found out how to use his tail for balance, and how to use his claws to keep from losing his footing.   It wasn’t long before he was bounding around the room; he paused and turned, leaping straight over Ginny in a single jump.

He landed and padded around to her.

"That was amazing," Ginny said, smiling happily.   She dropped to her knees and hugged him, burying her face in his ruff.   "My beautiful Harry," she whispered.  

He barked at her gently, and pulled back, turning into his human form.   "What do you think?" he asked, remembering how tired he had been the first time he had done it.   "It still takes a lot out of me," he confessed, stifling a yawn.

"Amazing," Ginny said simply.   "But you look like you need sleep."

"I do," Harry admitted, looking at the couch.

"Get us a blanket, Harry," Ginny said, kicking her shoes off and walking over to him.

He nodded, and kicked his own shoes off.  

Ginny pulled out her wand and made the couch a lot bigger, till it resembled a bed.   She pushed him down, taking the blanket from him.   With an expert flick of her wrists, she spread it out over him and then crawled under it, until she was lying against him.

"Night," she whispered, kissing him gently.

"Night," he whispered back, almost asleep before he finished the word.

From: Harry’s girls

To: Professor Dumbledore

Subject: Harry’s room

Professor, Harry’s room is now completely finished.   How do you want to hand it over to him?

The girls

From: Albus P Dumbledore

To: Multi-house task force

Subject: Re: Harry’s room

Carefully, would be the word that springs to mind.   Now that Dobby has enlarged it slightly, it’s bigger than mine.   I don’t want some of the other Professors feeling put out about it.

I shall casually mention to them today that the house-elves took it upon themselves to enlarge the room a little.

You will all be there to show us around?


Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot and Chairman of the International Confederation of Wizards  

From: Blaise — for the girls

To: Sneaky Headmaster

Subject: House

Professor… exactly what House were you in at school?   Because we’ve noticed some decidedly Slytherin tendencies from you.


From: Esteemed Headmaster

To: Curious Students

Subject: Re: House

I’m afraid that information is on a need-to-know basis only… And no one needs to know.


Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot and Chairman of the International Confederation of Wizards  

From: Padma — with the others

To: Headmaster, Hogwarts

Subject: Re[2]: House

That sounds like a challenge.

Consider it accepted, sir.


From: One Happy Albus

To: Happy Heads

Subject: The school

Morning all.

I’ve just had a wonderful Mmail conversation with a few of our sixth year students.   For the first time, they are seeing me as something more than a respected Headmaster and are treating me as a person.   I do so find it refreshing.  

Anyway, they are now on a mission to find out what House I was in when at Hogwarts — so please, don’t help them.


Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot and Chairman of the International Confederation of Wizards  

From: One Tired Min

To: Uncle Albie

Cc: Other heads

Subject: Re: The school

I’m happy for you — although why you had to tell me so bloody early I don’t know.   As long as they don’t forget that you are the Headmaster.

M — going to try and get another five minutes

curling up

From: Uncle Albie indeed

To: Aunt Min

Cc: The non-argumentative ones

Subject: Re[2]: The school

It’s all very well for you to talk Min — you who invites Harry to share breakfast — you have a house full of people you can be close to.   As headmaster, I’ve had to tread a fine line, so as not to seem like I am favouring any one house — and being Headmaster, it has meant that I’ve not been able to spend as much time as I would like getting to know the next generation of adults we are training.

Sometimes it’s lonely being the headmaster.  I took this job because I love to teach, and I love to see children grow into fine adults.   Running the war has taken me away from it, and the fact that I am finally getting to a stage where people feel free to talk to me fills me with joy.


Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot and Chairman of the International Confederation of Wizards  

From: Wide-awake Sev

To: The lonely old man and the others

Subject: Re[3]: The school

In order to help, please feel free to take my first year potions class this morning.


Working for the downfall of the Dark Tosser for fifteen years

From: Also-awake Pommie

To: Sev — and the rest

Subject: Re[4]: The school

I’m sniggering into my coffee here.   But Snape’s right, Unca Albie.   When this stupid Voldemort thing is over, why not start taking some lessons yourself?


From: Half-awake Flitwick

To: Unca Albie

Cc: The teasing trio

Subject: Re[5]: The school

I quite agree with them — get back to doing what you actually enjoy.   It will do wonders for you.


From: Excited Albus

To: Wonderful (if a little too full of teasing) colleagues

Subject: Re[6]: The school

I will.   And I think I’ll spend the morning brushing up on a few things.   Fudge’s report can wait.


Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot and Chairman of the International Confederation of Wizards  

Harry woke slowly and smiled at the ceiling.   He could feel Ginny sleeping on him, and he could smell her hair.   It was somehow both relaxing and exciting, as he felt like he was awake enough to enjoy it.

He slid his hands down, stroking her back softly through the green shirt she was wearing, before he looked at his watch.

"Gin," he whispered softly.

"Don’t want to wake up," Ginny mumbled, pressing her face into his shoulder.   "Warm, comfy, you smell good."

Harry laughed softly.   "Breakfast?"

"Would rather have you," Ginny mumbled.

"We’ve not got time."

"We’ve never bloody got time," Ginny sighed grumpily.   "As soon as bloody Tommy-boy is dead, I expect to be taken somewhere quiet and have at least a week of Harry Potter time to myself — clothing optional."

Harry shifted slightly, trying to hide just how much he liked that idea.

Ginny’s hand wandered casually over his chest.   "So I’m not the only one who likes that idea?"

"Witch," Harry sighed.

"Your witch," Ginny agreed.   "And don’t forget it."

"No chance of that," Harry said.

"Good."   Ginny pushed herself up his body and lightly kissed him.   "I need a shower," she sighed.  

"Me too," Harry agreed.

"We could share one?" Ginny offered.

Harry felt torn.   On one hand, he wanted to see Ginny naked.   He wanted to touch Ginny naked.   He pretty much wanted to do everything Padfoot had told him about naked.   But on the other hand, he was really hungry, having skipped a meal yesterday, and he had a Potions class first thing.

His mind was settled for him when Ginny’s stomach rumbled.   "Shower alone," he said firmly.   "Then eat, then we can talk about water conservation."

"A subject that sounds very interesting," Ginny smirked.   "And that would require a lot of action on our parts."

"Absolutely."   He wrapped his arms around her and Apparated them to the Gryffindor common room.   It was empty, with all the students at breakfast.

"Be quick," he smiled.

She nodded and bounced away cheerfully.

He shook his head as he watched her go, and walked into the boys’ showers, casually throwing his clothes towards the hamper in the corner.

A quick shower later and he felt much more awake, if even more hungry.   He walked to his dorm room and looked at his uniform.   After a second of deliberation, he decided not to wear it just in case anything happened today.   He pulled on a dark green shirt and a pair of trousers, pulling his school robe over the top.

He ran his fingers through his hair, and walked back down to the common room, waiting for Ginny.

She appeared a few minutes later, her robes undone, showing her school uniform.  

He got to his feet and kissed her slowly.   "Mmm, minty fresh," he whispered.

She laughed softly.   "Kissing later, food now."

"Of course," he grinned.   "I know better than to stand between a Weasley and food."

"What are you saying here?" Ginny demanded.

Harry casually Apparated them both to the Great Hall.   "Nothing," he said innocently.

"Right," Ginny said to him.   "Morning," she smiled at Ron and Hermione.   "I recommend getting Harry to transport you around Hogwarts, so much easier than walking."

"Do we get to sleep with him as well?" Lavender smirked from further down the table.

"No," Ginny said firmly.   "That’s reserved for me."

"What about not-sleeping with him?" Parvati teased.

"Chance would be a fine thing," Ginny grumbled.

Ron had a look on his face that was half a laugh, half complete relief, and half regret.   "You two really need to get away," he mumbled.

"Damn right," Ginny agreed.

"And as soon as Voldemort finds out exactly how many different ways a pitch fork can be used, we’ll do so," Harry said.

"But you know what’s really strange?" Ron asked.   "That fact that it’s Monday, we have Potions first thing, and I’m looking forward to it."

Hermione and Harry laughed, and Hermione gave him a kiss on the cheek.   "Don’t ever change," she said fondly.   "Are you going to be in class today?"

"I hope so," Harry smiled.   "The Butterbeer takeover should go well today."

"I can’t wait till we can get that stuff in Hogsmeade," Lavender said.   "I never want to touch the old stuff again."

"Good," Harry grinned.   "The twins will be delighted to hear it."   He reached over and quickly filled his plate.

"Hungry?" Ron asked.

"I skipped a meal yesterday," Harry shrugged.   "And did a lot of magic.   I could eat a raw deer."

Hermione frowned at him.   "Do you mind? I’m eating."

"Sorry," Harry smiled, feeling a little disturbed that the idea of eating a raw deer was actually kind of appealing.   He put it down to the wolf inside him and settled for four sausages.

He lightly hugged Ginny to him for a second, and then got down to the serious business of eating.   He was ravenously hungry, and he had to concentrate hard to make sure he didn’t eat like an animal.  

He finished his plate and exhaled slowly.   "That’s better," he smiled.

"I don’t think I’ve ever seen you eat that much," Ginny said, sounding awed.

"I was hungry," Harry explained, again.

"As everyone saw," Hermione laughed.

"Harry," Professor Dumbledore said, interrupting them.   "Your rooms are now ready.   I shall show you them after dinner tonight, and we’ll set your teaching schedule then as well."

"Thanks," Harry grinned.  

"You better get a move on, you don’t want to be late for class."

Harry looked around, a little surprised to see that they were the only ones left.  

"Come on," he said to the others.   "I’ll see you at lunch," he said to Ginny.

She nodded and gave him a quick hug, before jogging off.

Harry vaulted over the table and grabbed his two friends’ shoulders, and smoothly Apparated them both to the Potions dungeon.

"Ginny was right," Ron smirked.   "It is better to take the Harry."

"Take the Harry?" Harry asked.   "What am I, a taxi?"

Hermione sniffed.   "Nope, you smell a lot better than a taxi."

Harry groaned and lightly pushed them away, opening the door.

"Sit down," Snape said casually.   "I expected you to be late, considering the size of the meal you were eating."

"Nah," Ron smiled.   "He burnt off half of the meal when he jumped over the table and Apparated us here."

"I am here, you know," Harry pointed out.

"We know," Hermione said.   "But we’re talking about you, not to you."

"Gee, thanks," Harry complained.

Snape sniggered.   "Go on, sit down."

Harry sat down and quickly glanced as his email notification went off.

From: Super-spy

To: Spy master

Subject: Spy

Harry, you’ve got a bloody spy at Hogwarts — someone who must have heard something this morning.   Voldemort just got a message a few minutes ago and has ordered a load of Death Eaters to go help Lucius at something.   I don’t know where they’re going, as there’s a Portkey involved.


From: The twins in trouble

To: Harry

Subject: Help!

Harry, we need help, now!   We’re at the first Butterbeer factory and loads of Death Eaters have just shown up.   We’re fighting with the Goblins.   Get here now!

Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes — coming soon to Diagon Alley

From: Lord Voldemort

To: Nott

Attachment: directions.pmt

Subject: Revenge


Take a squadron of Death Eaters to this address tomorrow.   Capture Potter’s relatives and kill the parents of Dean Thomas — we’ll show everyone what happens when you stand up to me.  

When you have them, I shall send a message to Potter, demanding he come begging for the life of his family.

Victory or Death

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Author Notes:

As always, I need to thank Elsielann, Pixiellie, Musings, RDPrice, Camille, and Grey Wizard for working incredibly hard on getting this back to me as quickly as possible.   Any mistakes left are mine, and mine alone.

A special hello to Hannah — because putting up with parakletos all the time must be hard *grin*

Oh well.   Anyway, another cliché skewered.   Why is it that in fanfiction, Harry’s never allowed a day off without being attacked?  

I made a few mistakes in the last part, not least the mystery of the changing middle name for Kingsley, and using "hoist" and "petard" completely out of their original context.

I also said that I’d use Blaise till I got some decent Slytherin females… well, if I’d looked closer, I would have seen that there is Daphne Greengrass.   However, as I started this before it was confirmed what sex Blaise is, I decided to leave it.

So, we have a spy at Hogwarts… Poor Harry, should have remembered that loose lips sink ships.   Any idea who the spy is? The clues are in the story…

The idea for the Homorphus Charm came from Kelleypen on the Phoenixsong Forums.

Discussions, and such like, can be found at my yahoo group:

This is the second to last chapter — only one more to go.   All the pieces are now in place for the final part, the dominos are set, and it just needs a single move to set everything off.

I promise that there will not be another massive wait for the final part, because I need to have this story finished before HBP arrives.