The Reception - Part One
A/N: Hi guys. The new chapter took its time a bit, but I hope it will make up for it. To answer a few of those comments, that commented on my oh-so-many-mistakes, I should point out an importaint fact – I´m Slovak. :) Here at home I have very few chances to use the English knowledge I have and there are not many around to help and correct me, so please bear with me, guys – I´m still learning :D
As for the pets – that had been a question I hadn´t answered yet – out of the Slytherin Squad, only Harry and Angus have pets – Naja and other snakes, and Pura. The remainder belong to their respective families – Blaise´s mum has the golden piggy (couldn´t resist that one) and Lucius has his pure-white peacock – which I imagine Draco must´ve chased around their garden as a child :D
In this chapter however, some of the history of the families will be revealed, I hope you guys will find it nicely done. Some of Torie´s family background will also be explained a bit too and a bit about Draco´s parents too – let me know what you guys think about the AU Lucius Malfoy ;)
The truth about the Masked Wizard is also close at hand so stick around ;) But a tiny spoiler for future chapters – Tom Riddle will also learn a bit from his past mistakes, so the Dark Lord will also become stronger, due to the new experiences and gradually will be capable of something he previously shunned... but I won´t hint anymore, I´m still working on that part and it may as well change :D
In my AU many characters take certain changes from the canon, like Severus, Wormtail or Dudley Dursley for instance so... (btw if you will be left wondering about Dudley and his school-mates attending the wedding, James had taken the trouble of freeing from school for the afternoon – here they have very a good relationship thanks to the Evans grandparents)
I also hope you will find Sirius and Alice pieces adorable – she really is her Gofather´s little girl :D
In any case, I hope you guys will find the story to your liking and continue on giving me your great comments – they really keep me going, so thank you very much
Chapter 18: The Reception – Part One
The wedding reception was simply grand. In a way, Harry had been amazed by his parents´ craftiness – especially Mum´s, since she had taken the trouble to invite a lot of his good aquaitances. Including her ex-Professor Horace Slughorn, who was now chatting happily with Albus and Minerva McGonagall, or even his cousin Dudley along with his band – composed of his school-mates and his girlfriend Hortence, which was providing the wedding music, dispite the fact that lovesongs weren´t a part of their ussual playlist.
"Dudley´s band really IS good, Lils."noted James as they danced along with everyone, shooting a glance at his well-built nephew, who was occupying the drums and singing along with his girl on the guitair.
"I just wish they chose a better name. Honestly, what self-respecting band calls itself "The Mad Hogs"?"she whispered, rolling her eyes.
James erupted in laughter.
"Dudley told me, that it was your dear old Mum who advised him such a lovely band name."
Sighing in exaspiration, shooting an exaspirated glance at her Mum, who was dancing happily with her Dad.
Everyone else at the reception however didn´t give a damn what name the band had. The muggle band composed of two lovely girl guitairists and three boys – a chubby bass guitairist, a tall and very thin keyboard player and of course, Dudley himself. Since they began playing half-an-hour ago they played numerous slow songs but also many swifter ones that very much intrigued the Magical guests there, never having heared such music before. Harry and his friends however knew most of the songs played and even sang along with a few of them. Ginny had danced with James, Arthur, Albus (who was a very good dancer dispite his age), Remus, Severus and of course, her handsome husband who could NOT get enough of dancing with her. For this dance however, they were joined by Naja and Hazumi who seemed to want to join in on the fun – Naja wrapped around Harry and Hazumi around Ginny´s shoulder.
"Harry, let´s sit down."she pleaded as soon Dudley announced another song to general cheer from Angus and Torie.
"Oh... its a really good song, thisone..."said Harry frowning, fixing his wife a small look.
"... but a good husband should just shut up and listen to his darling wife at all times."he said with a grin, winking at her.
"Learnt that from your Mum, haven´t you?"
Harry grinned and shook his head.
"Grandmum Annie actually."he said, making her giggle again – anyone meeting the Evans grandparents quickly learnt, who wears the pants in that family.
"I´m just sorry, that Dray isn´t here. I know it would mean the world to you."said Ginny as soon as they sat down into their respective throne-like chairs, Naja and Hazumi slithering on the table.
Both fixed their sights on Torie. Ginny was worried, that she may be lonely or sad with so many loving couples there, but on the contrary – Torie seemed to be having the time of her life dancing with Ron, then Fred, Bill, Charlie, then James, then Sirius, then Severus, Slughorn, Arthur, Albus, Neville and now she even succeded in dragging Aberforth onto the dance floor – Aberforth glared his brother, who winked mischievously at him.
"For someone who hates to dance, Ab is dancing pretty fine."commented Harry idly.
"Maybe its thanks to the dance-partner."noted Ginny slyly.
The two shared a small laugh and Ginny took his hand into both of hers.
"She told me about the Ritual of Two Hearts, that she and Dray did. I´m happy, that they have found a way to be together no matter what."
Harry smiled as he watched Torie dance.
"I remember that since her first-year... I saw that pretty early on - she had eyes only for Dray. And well... she never gave up. Even when he was dating Pansy Parkinson."
Ginny frowned a bit at that.
"And you dated Torie´s sister Daphne, right? Torie told me. She said, that she really went out of her way to get you and that she was very obsessed with you."she said quietly – though she knew, that Harry only dated her in his fifth and sixth year because of the Juniors, she still couldn´t help but wonder.
Harry pondered on the best way to explain.
"Well... you see... its a bit more complicated. First you have to understand, that unlike Torie who was always a bit tomboyish and resisted it, Daphne was raised as a high society noble girl and she acted like it. She wanted to be with someone from a respected family and someone, who held power. I guess she saw something like that in me when I blasted that idiot Flint across the common room and she... well befriended us at first. She knew Blaise and Dray from the high society parties and well... in those days, the snakes in our year mostly stuck together. First I honestly thought, that she – like a few snakes, like Dray for instance - just wanted to be herself, different from her family and be friends with us. But I was wrong. In the end it turned out, that after joining in the Juniors she had found... someone else to love (he still had trouble believing who it was - it was so absurd). As for being herself, Daph agreed with her parents´ pure-blood philosophy, but she was always prepared to go into extremes. Something Hyperion and Silvaterra were always too cowardly to do."
Ginny frowned at the disgusted tone he used in the last sentance.
"What are they like? Torie barely mentiones them."she asked, eyes on Torie and half-sure, that she will soon wish she hadn´t asked that question.
Harry gave a deep sigh.
"Pompous, high society-obsessed idiots actually. Their thinking is at least a century old. All they care about is the honor of their family. Something, they say Torie brings shame on with her rebelious and lawless ways."
"B...but surely they love her, right?"
The sour look on Harry´s face at once told her.
"The word Love just isn´t in their vocabluary. They barely give a damn about her. Their only concern is how she dresses, acts and thinks. They don´t even care during summer holidays that they don´t see her at all. I mean... a three week trip abroad and they didn´t even give a damn about it. Torie informed them of course, but her father didn´t even look up from his reading. He just told her to make sure no one from the Magical Community sees her rubbing shoulders with some Mudblood."
Ginny looked down on the table and was not surprised, that Harry was so furious with them. In fact she was surprised about something else.
"You didn´t hex him into oblivion, did you?"she asked, not blaming him if he did.
Harry shook his head, confirming her suspitions.
"I wanted to, but Torie stopped me. Said, that its not worth the bother and we left the house. You see... unlike Daphne however Torie still loves them. Well – they´re her parents and she once said, that just because they don´t respect who she is doesn´t mean she will do the same to them."
Ginny´s eyes once more found Torie on the dancefloor and couldn´t help but stare at her in admiration. Harry grinned and looked at her too, his eyes reflecting pride.
"She was always like that, Gin. She is without a doubt one of the greatest people I´ve ever had the fortune to meet."
Ginny nodded and smiled as she saw a grinning James giving her a small curtsey and asking her hand for the next dance, Torie responding with the same curtsey as she accepted.
"No wonder she looks up to you as her "big brother" and to your parents as well – you´ve given her something her own family didn´t."
"Oh, you should see her with Draco´s parents. Narcissa is always having girl-chats with her and...( he snickered again) the super-pure-blood himself - Lucius is acting like a proud father."
Ginny roared in laughter.
"Super-pure-blood?! That´s a good one. Let me guess... Angus thought of that one up."she inquired still chuckling.
"Bingo. You should see ol´ Lucius struggle to be polite to Angus when the lot of us visit Malfoy Manor."
Ginny´s jaw dropped.
"Lucius Malfoy? Polite to a muggle-born and allowing him to enter his house? Are we talking about THE Lucius Malfoy?! Or just someone from another planet who simply shares his name?"
Harry chuckled at the look of utter confusion on her face.
"Yes, love... THE Lucius Malfoy. You wouldn´t believe the things he is capable to do for the well-being of his only son. Narcissa also helped in that, I´m sure. He is friends with Sev and well... sometimes he and Narcissa get together with Callidora and my parents. Heh... you should see him being polite to my Mum – for Narcissa´s sake thistime."
Ginny was barely believing what she was hearing. The Lucius Malfoy SHE heared about was...
"Oh, he´s still a sneaky, pompous high-class bloke. That´s a given. But you see...(he lowered his voice) both he and Sev were Death Eaters during Voldemort´s first reign of terror, (he held up his hand, because Ginny gasped in sheer horror) but they both deserted. Narcissa, who sided with her sister Andromeda and her cousin Sirius had become a target for him. He deserted for her and Dray."
Ginny could only say "Wow" – the man had a heart afterall. She bit her lip as she looked to the dance-floor.
"And... and Severus?"
Harry smiled a bit – his Godfather was just dancing with his Mum.
"Sev was my Mum´s best friend since childhood and my Dad´s arch-rival. As a kid he was always fascinated by the Dark Arts – he admitted it to me himself – he and Lucius got in with the other Slytherins at the time. When my Mum chose my Dad over him, he cut off all contact. However... he loved her still. And when Voldemort started to target my Mum, he had made his choce and contacted Albus, becoming a spy for our side. Before I was born he made up with my Mum and called it a truce with my Dad and his mates."
Once more, Ginny could hardly believe the history Harry´s family – hers now as well – had.
"See how many things can be made right when people lay aside their differences, make compromises and find a solution?"asked Harry, smiling gently.
"That´s why you forgave Neville and Alice so easily."she breathed, now absolutely sure.
Harry nodded sagely. They were suddenly snapped from their musings at the sound of something moving on the table. A small bowl filled with Molly´s meatballs was moving on its own across the table. On second glance the two saw, that it was Hazumi. The tiny bouncehop was using his head to slowly push the bowl towards Naja who looked on curiously.
"Awwww... what a sweet little gentleman. Getting food for his dream-girl."cooed Ginny, positive she had never seen something so adorable.
Naja looked curiously as Hazumi bounced a bit closer to her and hissed. She turned her head at Harry who had a big grin on his face and Ginny who was smiling supportively, she flicked her tongue out a few times. Turning back, she reached into the bowl and picked the first meatball, Hazumi bouncing up and down joyfully. Ginny felt Harry tap her on the shoulder and saw, that he had reached for another bowl.
"Meatballs, love?"he asked innocently, wiggling his eyebrows.
Ginny grinned at him.
"Copycat."she accused, taking the meatball and biting off one half, offering her husband the second.
Nymphadora´s cries at the other side of the table drew their attention and they saw that she was sitting there, taking deep breaths, one hand on her big tummy. Remus was at her side instantly and looking at her franticly.
"It... its time..."she breathed and Remus Lupin went pure white.
"WAAAHOOOOO!"exclaimed Sirius, who had ran right after Remus along with James, Alice and Lily.
"The cub´s coming! The cub´s coming... WAHOOOO!"yelled Sirius, jumping up and down in joy, drawing all attention on them even the band stopped playing.
"COOOL! THIS IS SO AWESOME!"exclaimed Alice, joining in with her Godfather, the two dancing a happy-dance.
"That´s enough you two. We must get a healer here on the double."commanded Lily, though happy about it herself.
"This is great."said Ginny, who came closer along with Harry, who nodded smilingly.
"Looks like we we will have many good things to celebrate on this day."
Suddenly a loud explosion was heared in the distance. Then a blinding flash of green light shone trough the windows and several people gasped.
Down, above the populated village, amist the rising smoke was...
"The Dark Mark?!"breathed James.
Many, who looked out the window gave a terrified gasp. At once another explosion from the village rang and far-away screams the homes and houses were heared.
"A Death Eater attack!"exclaimed Angus in disbelief.
"Death Eater?! What´s that, son? Some new animal speci... jumpin´ water buffalos, what´s THAT?!"exclaimed Sean Lennox, spotting the green skull in the air.
The non-magic guests were all staring at it in awe, never having seen something like that. The remainder however wore looks of shock, fear and disbelief. Just then a massive force went into the air and enclosed the entire village, plus the Manor.
"Anti-disapparation field."gasped Sirius in recodnition.
"A big one at that."nodded James.
"They´re in great numbers then. No way a small group would be able to raise such an extensive field."noted Angus.
"Thirty, fourty or even more."whispered Harry, a strange look Ginny had never seen before appeared on his face.
"Party´s over, I guess."whispered Dudley, knowing what this might mean.
"No way, Dudster... not for us - it has ONLY begun."said Torie, a small look of excitement on her face.
Lily fixed her with a glare.
"You are NOT going down there to fight, young lady. THAT´S our job."
Just then, Dora gave out a moan of pain, reminding them another issue at hand.
"This close to birth she can´t apparate and even a Portkey transport would be a danger to the baby. We have to do something and fast."said Remus, looking at his friends beseechingly.
"I´ll deal with that, Remus. You youngsters can help."said Molly, looking at the teenagers there.
Most looked shocked at the very prospect – Ron actually gulped – but there were a few (girls mostly), who nodded.
"No, I will handle that. I´m a healer, remember? Though I´m still a trainee, I have done this a few times. It will all be fine."said Audrey confidently, Percy flashing her a proud look.
A group was already preparing to go to the main door – Sirius, Amelia, Aberforth, Slughorn (though half-heartedly) and most of the Weasleys. Alice at once transfigured her wedding clothes into a battle outfit. Seeing that, Ginny at once spun her head to Harry, sure that he would voice his protest and wish to join in the fight as well.
Harry however was looking out the window, a strange calculating look on his face – Ginny could tell, that he was doing some serious thinking.
"Do NOT even think about it, son!"warned James, grabbing him by the shoulders and forcing him to look into his eyes.
"You and the others are not supposed to be here in the first place and furthermore there are things for you to take care of HERE."he said, looking at the Muggle guests there, who had understood that something horrific was going on.
"I´ll go beyond the field and return with Ministry reinforcements."said Kingsley Shacklebolt, nodding at James.
"I´ll go with you, big brother. Someone has to guard your back. And I´m not taking NO for an answer."said Callidora, glaring him a bit, a rare-serious note to her voice.
"You kids stay here and don´t forget to cast a protective charm on the Mansion."said Severus, eying his charges, some of which looked rebelious.
"Professor Snape is right, young ones. Let US do the fighting. You keep yourselfs safe and do NOT come out."said Albus in a strong voice.
"You Professors shouldn´t be here in the first place as well, you know."Harry pointed out coldly, eying Al, Severus, Remus and McGonagall.
The latter three glared him a bit, but Lily nodded.
"He is right. You are all supposed to be back at Hogwarts. That means - we have to make an alibi for you..."
"Order members will also be notified immediately. That is our excuse."said Albus calmly.
"And let´s not forget - this town is my birth-place, Lily. I will NOT stand for those cowards to destroy it."said Minerva McGonagall, power radiating from her.
Another explosion from downtown had reminded them of a painfull truth – this was hardly the time for any kind of arguments.
"CRUCIO"squeaked Wormtail in excitement as the wizard, who tried to escape fell to the ground and was now roaring in pure pain.
His rat-like face took on a sinister grin as soon as he stopped the Cruciatus Curse.
A jet of green light shot from his wand-tip and the wzard on the ground moved no more.
"Well, you seem to be having fun, Wormtail."commented Rabastan with a grin, just as another explosion from a house after them sounded accompanied by a mad cackle.
"Mulciber too by the sound of it. Well... the Dark Lord DID want a carnage for grand effect. Anyway, I suppose its time to start the real task. Here..."he said, giving Rabastan the ball used for communication.
Rabastan fixed him with a curious look.
"Do you really think its him, Wormtail?"
"The Dark Lord suspects he is. That´s why we must confirm."
A loud bang sounded ahead of them and one of the cloaked, masked Imperius puppets landed near the pair of them, clearly stunned.
"The show starts now, I suppose. Rennervate"said Rabastan, waving his wand and reviving the fallen man.
The man at once jumped to his feet and dashed back into the fight. A powerfull fight erupted in the streets of the town. Wormtail and Mulciber however, as Voldemort had instructed, tried to keep themselfs outside the fight and let their puppets do their dirty work. For the most part, anyway.
"Hi, Pete. Busy day, I see."greeted James with a fierce look on his face as he glared his former friend.
Wormtail grinned evilly.
"Oh... very busy, Prongs. Avada Kedavra"
James quickly jumped away, the Killing Curse missing him by inches.
"Why, you filthy little RAT!"exclaimed Lily in pure outrage, shooting a series of curses at him, however none suceeded to make any contact.
Wormtail had dissapeared – his rat form enabling him to dash away from danger, four other Death Eater puppets taking up his place, pointing their wands at Lily.
Before the first curse could make contact, it was blocked by none other than James.
"Shall we, love?"he asked cassually as though he was asking her to dance.
"I would be delighted, sweetheart."she said back, grinning at him.
"I love it, when you call me that."breathed James like a lovesick teenager, but deflecting another curse automaticly.
The pair of them at once started to duel the four so fiercely, that they were on defence in an instant. James and Lily were fighting like the greatest duelling pair in the world, guarding one another, attacking accordingly, as if on pure instict, and so naturally that most would think they were one being. Their opponents simply stood no chance – all four were on the ground in a matter of seconds.
"I love you."breathed James in ecstasy, kissing her briefly before dashing to the four on the ground and removing their masks, Lily right behind him.
"I recodnize this one. He´s Octavius Pepper. He vanished a year ago."breathed Lily.
James needed no telling twice.
"The Imperius Curse."
"We have to let the others know."breathed Lily.
"Expecto patronum"they screamed together and in a second two silvery forms – a stag and a doe – erupted from their wands and galloped across the battle-fought streets, relaying the message.
Upon hearing it Aberforth, who was fighting along with Albus, grunted as soon as the doe patronus galloped away to deliver the message to another.
"Knew there was somethin´ off. I mean... the numbers o´ these scum... Stupefy"
Albus resisted the urge to chuckle at his brother´s remark – he had thought of that a moment ago. With a simple flick of his wand three of the figures that ran against them, wands raised, fell to the ground as though thew were clubbed over the heads.
A second later, a window on the house beside them broke and a dazed-looking middle aged witch fired a curse straight at Albus. Before it could make contact a Shield Charm had been raised and the curse re-bounded back on her, sending her to the ground.
"Yer gettin´ old, Albus."said Aberforth, grinning at him mischievously.
Just then another curse flew from the street, thistime at Aberforth, but that one got reflected as well.
"That makes two of you, grandpaaaaas."came the teasing voice of Sirius Black, who was standing behind them along with his Goddaughter and grinning like at them like mad.
"Awww... don´t be so mean, Padfoot. They ARE elders afterall."said Alice Potter, wiggling her eyebrows at her Godfather, who gave out a bark-like laugh.
"C´mon kiddo. Betcha I can take out more than you."
Alice gave a derisive snort.
"Dream ON, Pads."
Without another word, the two dashed past the two old men happily and started to duel manicly – anyone that dared to cross their paths beware.
"Dunno ´bout you, Al... but I´m taking this personally."grunted Aberforth, but Albus recodnized the emotion behind it.
"You are quite right of course, little brother. Let us show the youngsters that these... ah... grandpas, can still outduel them on any given day."he said mischievously, feeling much younger dispite the serious situation.
It became very clear, that the Death Eaters had a plan as well. Wormtail and Mulciber were able to cast Imperius Curses on some of those witches and wizards attempting to either run or try to protect the Muggles that were running about, screaming in terror.
"This is bad! They have good positions covered."exclaimed Amelia as their larger fighting group was being pushed back, attempting to protect and shield those that didn´t fight.
The Imperiused puppets, both cloaked in Death Eater robes and civil clothes were closing in on them, more joining in by the moment.
"Bad doesn´t even cover it."said Arthur, whose shoulder had already been bruised by a curse.
"We can´t give up now, though."said Bill, deflecting another curse.
"Sure as hell we won´t."exclaimed George, his fianceé nodding fervently.
Suddenly the ground infront of them shook and wild large vines sprouted from it, instantly lashing out on the Imperiused ones, knocking several off their feet while the other quickly moved out of its reach.
"ITS HIM!"roared one of them, heads and wands at once turning in the direction, at once firing curses.
Amelia, Arthur, George, Fred, Angelina, Alicia and Bill gasped. Jumping from the rooftop of the small house, evading all the curses and with a small summersault landing in the nearby soft bush, the Masked Wizard had arrived, ready to fight.
"KILL HIM!"roared the voice of Mulciber and at once half a dozen of the Imperiused raised their wands.
"Florem caligo"roared the Masked Wizard, a powerfull jet of pink and purple steam wrupted from the tip of his wand, at once shrouding the entire group of the Imperiused ones along with him.
The wild stream of spells, hexes and curses that flew from the purple mist in all directions made the defenders freeze – none of them dared to run into it, Amelia, Bill and Arthur also had to deflect two curses that flew out of it.
The Masked Wizard ran out, followed by five Imperiused ones as the mist began to clear up. The remainder were either bound by curses or the vines, that ceased to move and instead only kept the captured people bound.
"ITS HIM! ITS HIM! KILL HIM!"roared many voices trough the streets as the Masked Wizard ran, blocking or redirecting curses back at their casters.
Wormtail gasped at hearing the voices – this was what he had waited for. He looked infront of himself just in time to block an incoming curse.
"Sorry, Moony. I have my duties to perform. We´ll finish this some other time."he said almost politely to another of his former friends, who like the others were very intent on stopping him.
"You´re not going anywhere, Peter! Obhaersca"
The yellowish stream of glue that erupted from Remus´ wand spread across the pavement, but Peter was too quick for it. Performing an Evasion Enchantment he learned from Barty Crouch, he was able to transport himself far from reach of the glue the fellow-marauder had conjured, at once transforming into his animagus form and scurrying away.
Before Remus could do anything, four more Imperiused puppets had ran in, firing their curses. Quickly jumping behind a small vegetable stand he managed to escape the worst.
Alice an Sirius had arrived, returning fire. Alice´s Reductor curse hit, blasting the nearby hitting the nearby wine and beer drums, blasting them into smithereens and spraying their opponents from head to toe, making them sputter and close their eyes for just a brief moment. But a moment the pair of them, along with Remus had used
"STUPEFY"shouted all three of them, their stunners quickly knocking out their targets before any of them could block or shield themselfs.
"Nice one, Alice."praised Remus proudly as they lowered their wands.
"Thanks, Moony."she said beaming, the sunny smile copying that of her mother´s.
"Uh-oh... watch out, you two!"warned Sirius, his eyes on the nearby archway from which another group of the Imperiused, no less than ten, were appearing.
The three of them started to counter the curses cast at them, but it was obvious they were on defence. Suddenly one of them howled in pain as a rope of thorny vines bound him, sending him to the ground.
"What the...?"breathed Remus.
"Its him!"gasped Alice in awe.
Sure enough, in another archway leading to the street they were in, stood the Masked Wizard. The Imperiused at once turned and ran towards him, their wands at the ready.
Looking over his shoulder, the Masked Wizard saw that the group he had been running from had almost chaught up as well.
"Gotta time this JUST right."he thought as the two groups were approaching fast from both ways, their curses only a moments away.
Once again the pink and purple mist once more shrouding him just as the first spells were cast. Remus, Sirius and Alice however moved in, aiming their Stunners at the backs of those whom they could see, aided by James, Lily and Severus who had just arrived. One or two of them turned and tried to counter-attack, but they were struck by Body-bind curses flying from the mist. As the mist cleared up, all the puppets on their side were lying on the ground. On the other one however, five were on their feet, having managed to shield themsefs. However in the middle of the archway...
"He´s gone!"breathed Sirius.
"AFTER HIM! HE CAN´T BE FAR!"roared one of them, robed in Death Eater robes.
"Not so fast, girls and boys."called another voice and the five swiftly fell to the ground under the weight of the Stunning spells shot from behind.
Alice´s face at once lit up, recodnizing the voice all too well.
"Freddie!"she exclaimed and sure enough, standing there were Fred, George, Bill, Fleur and Angelina.
"Where are Arthur, Charlie and Amelia?"asked James the moment they grouped together.
"Getting the Muggles into a house to keep them safe. Slughorn and McGonagall got it covered. Aberforth and Dumbledore are still in the streets fighting and Kingsley just sent us word, that Ministry reinforcements are on their way."informed Bill swiftly.
"Well... they´ll be late as ussual. We won´t need reinforcements anymore."said Alice happily.
"What d´you mean?"asked Severus confusedly.
"She´s right."nodded Fred.
"We saw him."added George.
"Who?"asked Lily, looking from one teenager to another.
"The Masked Wizard."exclaimed Fred, George and Alice.
"We saw him too. A moment ago."nodded Remus.
"Here in this archway. Made these idiots curse eachother before dissapearing."revealed Alice excitedly.
"What´s wrong, Prongs?"asked Sirius.
But James didn´t reply. He was standing there completly frozen.
"How? How? HOW?!"he thought franticly.
He was in such shock, that he barely felt Lily grasp his free hand.
"James? What´s wrong? James?"
Now Lily was shocked. Only a rare few times since she came to know him did her voice fail to get his attention.
A loud explosion from the house on the next street however did. James´ eyes narrowed.
"Apricie!"he called urgently and a second later, the old female house-elf appeared.
"Yes, Master James."she piped up brightly – no hint of anything being wrong.
"How´s... the activity inside Lennox Manor?"he asked carefully, so that the question won´t be too suspitious.
"Fine, Master. Miss Audrey and Mrs Weasley is having Mistress Nymphadora in the bedroom for guests – it is going all right."she added at once, seeing the frantic expression on Remus´ face.
"Master Neville and Master Harry is making the protective enchantments. They are in the hall along with all guests."she carried on.
James´ mouth flew open. It just didn´t make any sence.
"That´s good. At least the Death Eaters won´t be able to get in."said Lily with a sigh of relief.
Another explosion sounded in the distance.
"All right, Apricie. Get back into the Manor."commanded James and the house-elf obeyed at once.
"As for the rest of us - let´s help out before the Ministry lot gets here."said James, fierce determination in his eyes as he dashed into the streets towards the last explosion.
Ginny sat in the comfortable lion throne her brothers Transfigured for her. Along with many of the other guests. The atmosphere in the room was very sober – one could easily hear every single sound. Even Hazumi wasn´t bouncing around like he ussually did. Instead he wrapped himself on Ginny´s shoulder in a supportive gesture. Many times explosions from the village could be heared in the distance, hightening the tension. Neville and Angus returned from the upstairs guest-bedroom moments ago, having checked on Dora, who was being tended to by Audrey and Molly, aided by Hannah and Hermione – the baby was well on its way.
"A Death Eater attack right now? And right here?! This can´t be coincidence! It just can´t be. But HOW?! Sure, Harry feared, that Kellen would try something, but... there just is NO connection that I can think of."thought Ginny worriedly.
She was very much aware of the sound behind her chair – her new husband was busily pacing up and down eversince he had returned into the hall-room having set-up his share of protective enchantments. She could easily tell, that he was thinking somewhere among the same lines as she was. She wondered briefly if he had been able to find the answers she was searching for. What made her uneasy however was Harry´s disquiet. She understood from what Torie had told her, that Harry rarely gets into such a state. He even hadn´t been able to resist having a small sip of Firewhiskey along with Angus, Neville and some of the other men in the room (a sure sign of showing nerves). Dudley also had only one sip – not liking the stuff and sticking to butterbeer instead. Angus´ father however liked it perhaps way too much. He was already drinking his sixth glass when Angus had had enough of it and vanished both the bottle and the glass before performing a Sobering Charm on him, Susan taking over to scold him and old Sean acting much like his son, becoming shamefaced and quiet.
"I suppose there is always a chance the Death Eaters may have someone close to Kellen under the Imperius Curse. Dray DID mention, that Runcorn´s squad was right on target. That would naturally mean, that they haven´t taken our Hogwarts bait. THAT much seems fine. However... why in the blue blazing hell did they attack the village? To divert attention? Perhaps. But if the wedding wasn´t their target..."thought Harry, his mind desperately trying to make sence of what was going on – he HATED it, when the answer to something was beyond his reach – his frustration was starting show to those who knew him best.
"Harry sweetheart, maybe you should sit down."said Annie Evans pleadingly, but to no avail.
"Your grandmum is right. Sit down and relax. Everything will be fine."said Robert Evans gently.
"Yeah, Harry. You´re not helping yourself, you know."nodded Dudley.
But Harry´s frustration seemed to only grow. He started pacing from one way to another faster.
"Harry... Harry, please... sit down."
At the sound of Ginny´s voice Harry seemed to have come back to reality. Slowly, he nodded and sat down into his snake throne.
"You´re right."he replied quietly, grasping Ginny´s hand, making her smile supportively.
"There IS no other choice, Potter... you will have to tell her. She HAS to know."he told himself, feeling almost guilty as he looked at her – maybe he should have done so days ago.
"Thaaat´s right. Now... I suggest we eat some of this wonderous food and have a drink."suggested Robert in a joyfull voice – hoping to raise the spirits a little.
"I second that." exclaimed Sean Lennox happily.
"NO Pop! We can drink all we want when we´ll know this is over."said Angus, narrowing his eyes.
"But son... wizards are handling the situation. I´m sure these... Death Lickers or whatever they´re called are on their way to prision already."implored Sean.
As if on cue, another explosion from the village sounded.
"You were saying, Pop?"asked Angus coldly.
Another explosion sounded. But thistime...
"Hey... wasn´t this one a bit loud?"asked the keyboard player of Dudley´s band.
"Yeah it was."breathed Hortence in horror.
Just then Naja slithered towards Harry fast and started to hiss franticly. All faces looked at Harry´s, whose expressions changed in a matter of mere moments – going from shock to thoughtfull, then angry and finally a look of forced calm. He quickly hissed something to Naja and she slithered on the table.
"What´s going on?!"exclaimed Ginny as her husband conjured a map of the manor, pointing to it with his wand.
"The Death Eaters had just gotten trough our protective enchantments."
"B...but you and Neville made them yourselves."
"Mate, we have to protect the Muggle guests! And Tonks and her kid..."
The sombre atmosphere that reigned there was quickly turning into panic.
At once the room quieted down. Harry was looking at the map much like a war strategist going over a battle plan, listening to Naja´s hisses. On closer look Ginny saw, that her black onyx scales were glittering more than ussual.
"Everyone will please NOT panic."he said in a strong, authoritative voice that Percy would envy.
"Harry? Why are Naja´s scales glittering like that?"asked Ginny, feeling a bit shrunken – her husband was once more emitting that raw power she felt during the Relationship Counsil.
"She is using her ability, her detection ability to be precise."
Ginny and several others barely had the time to marvel over this revelation before Angus quickly joined Harry´s side, Neville not far behind.
"Where are they, Harry? Let´s kick those scum out of this house!"he said fiercely.
"According to Naja, there are in three small groups. Five in the East Wing, five in the West and... (he listened to Naja´s hiss) four in the garden."he said, narrowing his eyes.
"I´ll take the garden."said Angus in a cool-as-ice voice.
"ANGUS!"exclaimed Sean in shock.
"Wait a minute, little brother! You´re not thinking of going down there to fight them alone?!"breathed Roger Lennox, his eyes reflecting geniune worry.
"Angus Lennox! You have to be out of your mind, if you think I will let you go fight those scum alone!"exclaimed Susan, her eyes narrowing on her finace.
Thistime however Angus didn´t display any hint of shyness whatsoever. Instead a look of pure strength remained on his face.
"Nev, you may be the target as well..."started Harry, but Neville shook his head.
"I know what you want to say, Harry... but save it. I will take them on!"he said, drawing more gasps of shock from everyone.
"Boys! Think it over, please!"exclaimed Robert Evans.
"Don´t forget about ME! I´m going too!"announced Ron, with a look of fierce determination.
"Me too!"said Ginny, standing up from her chair.
Harry´s green eyes turned on her – a look of disaprooval on his face, one that drew Ginny´s anger.
"Don´t you dare tell me not to fight, Potter! If you can, so can I!"she exclaimed, ignoring the disaprooving sounds made by her new grandparents-in-law and her brother.
Harry however fixed her a serious look.
"I didn´t suggest such a thing. However I must ask you to remain here."he said calmly.
Ginny´s face at once sported a look of shock and disbelief, Harry at once recodnizing it.
"I am asking you to remain here – in order to guard the guests. Along with Susie and Ron."
This explanation however didn´t help much.
"Look at the map. This hall is right in the middle of the manor. They can get here from almost any direction. Someone HAS to stay here in case they bypass us."
Ginny bit her lip – there was logic in that statement.
"But you´ll be facing five at once?!"
Harry closed his eyes and shook his head.
"Not entirely. Fidus!"he called and the old house-elf instantly dissapeared from the end of the room and reappeared at his side.
"I want you to go down into the village, please. Inform my parents and Professor Dumbledore of what is going on here. Tell them to come here at once."
"Right away, Master Harry."nodded Fidus and was gone in an instant.
Ginny couldn´t help but breath a sigh of relief. She was slightly surprised that...
"This is not the time for anyone to play the hero, sweetheart. We need to take all the precautions necessary to ensure that no one gets hurt... or worse."he said calmly and rationally.
Harry´s tone and explanation seemed to have poured a sence of calm into the room.
"You are a good leader, Harry Potter."said Luna from the far end of the table, making her husband chuckle.
Harry shot them a small smile.
"I appretiate the compliment, Mrs Zabini. However this is hardly the time for any compliments at all."
Blaise stood up, smiling at him gently.
"How right you are, my dear friend. I am right I hope, when I say that you wish for the two of us to go and reinforce our delivering mother and her helpers."
"You are right, Blaise. So please, make haste."he said curteously and at once, Blaise and Luna stood up and hand-in-hand exited the hall, making their way into the upstairs guest-bedroom.
As soon as the door behind them closed, Harry directed his wand at it and performed a non-verbal spell on it. Naja´s golden scales started to shine and she looked at him. Harry said something to her in Parseltongue – once more drawing gasps of awe from the majority of the Muggle guests – and she nodded her head in acceptance.
"She will stay here for extra protection. She has powerfull defencive magic of her own and she can withstand most curses with ease."
He fixed his sights on Susan, Ron and Ginny.
"I will have to ask you three to remain here and guard the guests, please."
The calm tone in his command was one that Ginny had recodnized, but right now couldn´t tell where she had heared it before. However it was a tone, that invited both confidence and compliance. Plus the look on Harry´s face when she nodded soothed her more would have believed.
"All right. Nev, Angus – each of us will take one of the places. Remember, it is not neccessary to engage them in an all-out battle. Merely hold them back until reinforcements arrive."
Both of them nodded and followed him towards the other door, drawing out their wands.
"Wow, Gin..."breathed Ron as the door closed.
"He sure is something..."he said, flashing a look at Naja.
"... it almost feels like we´re with Dumbledore."
Her brother´s statement made her gasp. NOW she had remembered, where she had heared that tone and where she was getting exactly the same feeling – with Albus Dumbledore. She instantly felt a surge of wild pride mixed with pure awe. She remembered the words Aberforth told her in the Hog´s head on her and Harry´s very first date.
"You´ll see, Ginny."he said pointing his thumb on his brother.
"That boy will surpass this ol´berk with his hands tied behind his back. And sooner than you might think."he said as his older brother chuckled happily.
"Immobilus"roared James, disabling another Imperiused person.
"Stupefy"exclaimed Alice, stunning another.
"Incarcerous"shoted Lily, binding the next one.
The Ministry reinforcements had arrived moments ago and the puppets had taken to hiding themselves and abushing the groups searching trough the streets.
"Strange isn´t it?"wondered Alice as she strolled along the battle-worn street with her parents.
"A second ago, they were ready to fight to the death. Now they´re only ambushing. I mean... if someone is under the Imperius Curse, they wouldn´t care if they´re outnumbered or outmatched, right?"she asked, shooting a glance at her father.
"You´re right, lion-cub. It seems as though they had been ordered to change tactics. But why?"breathed James, trying to make some sence once again.
"Maybe they were meant to get our attention and bring us down here."breathed Lily in a frightened revelation.
James and Alice gasped.
"But that would mean..."whispered Alice in equal fright.
Just then Fidus had apparated by their side.
"Master James, Mistress Lily, Master Harry is sending me here. Death Eaters..."
"NO!"exclaimed both frightened parents.
"Neville!"exclaimed Alice, confident that the true target of the attack had been revealed.
Just then a group of five puppets charged them. However they promtly fell to the ground as though knocked out. Alice and Lily gaped in awe. Standing there, was the Masked Wizard. For a small moment they all gazed at eachother but suddenly he jumped, evading a stunning spell.
"HE´S MINE! CRUCIO!"
Evading the Cruciatus curse, the Masked Wizard turned, facing the newly arrived Vigilantee Task Force.
"Florem caligo"he shouted, producing another thick mist before running the opposite way.
"Damn it! What´s this?!"roared a man´s voice.
"Who cares?! AFTER HIM!"roared Deianira Kellen, running trough the mist and right after the Masked Wizard, her fellow Task Force members right after her, paying the three Potters absolutely no attention.
Except one, who had froze on the spot and in a second ran straight to them.
"Malfoy."growled Alice, fixing him a glare.
"Are you guys all right? Kingsley told me about the attack here."he said in a hurry.
"Why would you care?! You´re here to catch the Masked Wizard!"asked Alice coldly.
Draco however disregarded the question and looked at James, his eyes darting to Fidus before returning to James´ eyes.
"They´re in the Manor too, aren´t they?"
James´ nod only confirmed his suspition. But that would mean...
"But the Masked one is here too."said James, locking eyes with the young Malfoy, inviting him to prob his mind.
Draco did so and his eyes widened in realization as he saw the memory of Harry telling him...
"We need to get back to the Manor and fast."said Lily desperately.
Draco looked at her and nodded.
"Go. Fast. Don´t worry, leave this situation to me."
Alice however scrowled at him.
"Why? So you can try to catch the Masked Wizard and hurl him to Kellen?!"
Draco turned to her, but thistime however there was a look on sincerity on his face.
"Do not worry, Alice. I have no such intention. I will leave it to Harry and your Dad to explain everything about me to you. In the meantime however, please trust me with this. Please."he said, understanding that the situation had changed, since the start of the Repopulation Act.
Alice looked momentarilly stunned. For once, she was completly unsure how to reply.
"We trust you, Dray. Be sure to let us know once the situation had been handled."said Lily, nodding at him.
"Fidus, quickly. Take us back to Lennox Manor."said James, grabbing hold of Fidus´ tiny arm, his wife and daughter doing the same.
The old house-elf nodded and in a second they were gone. Draco turned as another explosion, caused no doubt by a curse rang from the next street. The feeling in his heart was telling him, that he hed better get a move on.
The hall-room of Lennox Manor was once again quiet. Everyone was straining their ears to hear any sounds of battle. However dispite the quiet, everyone was calm. Naja was keeping herself close to Ginny and the Evanses, her onyx scales sparkling.
Suddenly a loud stream of explosions rang from the garden, making both Susan and Pura, who had his head on her lap dart to the window, followed by the Lennox brothers and their father.
Horrific noises were heared trough the window. Shouts of curses, breaking, smashing, cracking, loud ear-splitting roars of pure pain that chilled to the bone and loud, angry "Moos".
"W...what´s that..."breathed Hortence in horror, as she and Dudley likewise darted to the window along with other guests.
Susan squinted her eyes to see better into the tree-filled gaden just in time to see a man litterally flying trough the air and smashing into the tree before sliding to the ground and moving no more.
"Ouch... that one sure must´ve hurt."remarked Augustus Lennox.
"Hope it did."said Ron in savage triumph.
"But what could have thrown him with such strength?"wondered Roger.
Just then large brownish bull ran trough the garden, evading a Stunning Spell and ramming another cloaked man, sending him flying into the air.
Darting into the narby bush and out of the view of the people starting through the windows, the bull transformed into a human form.
Staring into the garden, his wand in hand, Angus breathed a small sigh.
"That´sthree down."he said to no one in particural.
However as he looked around the garden and for good measure cast a non-verbal Human Presence Revealing Charm, did he notice an importaint fact – apart from the bodies there, no other Death Eater was present.
"Angus!"exclaimed James Potter as he ran into the garden.
Angus aimed his wand at him, making him freeze on the spot.
"What did Ollivander say, when I got my wand?"he asked, on alert should the man get the answer wrong.
James however smiled, loweing his wand.
"He said, that it was incredibly rare for such a young wizard to match himself with a wand of Larch, but he felt that you needed that wand as much as it needed you. He also said, that you will become an exceptionall wizard – something which I whole-heartedly agree on."
Breathing out a sigh of relief, Angus lowered the very wand they spoke of.
"Sorry, Mr Potter."
James waved off the apology good-naturedly.
"It pleases me, that you snakies are so cautious. There´s never enough of it, especially in situations like this."
"What´s the status?"asked Angus urgently.
"Well, the guests are all fine – Ron, Ginny and your precious one have done their jobs excellently. Dora already had the baby – its a boy, so we will have to have a cuppa to celebrate later – and Lily and Alice went to aid Neville in the East Wing and we´re going to the West."
"Two seemed to have moved into the house, so my guess is that they have also joined the East or West Wing. So the two of us..."
"Three."came another voice from behind James.
"Ginny... you were supposed to remain in the Hall."said James, sighing a bit.
Ginny fixed him a small glare.
"Its obvious that the guests aren´t the target. I refuse to sit in safety while my husband is fighting somewhere on his own."she said in a strong voice.
Just then a doe partonus galloped towards them from the house. Stopping in front of James it spoke in Lily´s voice.
"We´ve found Neville! He didn´t meet with a single Death Eater in the East Wing! But before we could leave for the West the pathway to it was blocked by that Dark Barrier they use. James! They´re after..."
"HARRY!"exclaimed both James and Ginny.
"There´s a shortcut there trough the side of the garden! After me!"exclaimed Angus urgently, the two running right after him.
The town´s belltower was by no doubt the highest building there. Though very old, dating centuries back, it was still reasonably well-kept and mostly unused at this time. The Masked Wizard breathed out a small sigh, resting the legs, tired from all the running. Afterall, evading attacking Imperiused puppets along with the entire Vigilantee Task Force was no mean feat. There was litterally no place to run – other than the belltower.
Rising to the top of it, the Masked one weighted the chances. Now that the Ministry folk had arrived there was perhaps no need to fight anymore.
"Should I simply call Dobby and have him transport me back into the Manor, so that no one gets suspitious or wait and..."
Mustering all the strength possible, the Masked one dodged sure death.
"Now its just you and me, you masked arsehole!"exclaimed Mulciber in savage truimph.
The Masked Wizard faced his opponent, but heared that downstairs the door had opened and the unmistakable roar of Deianira Kellen sounded.
"He must be here! Don´t forget! We want him alive!"
"Great..."thought the Masked Wizard bitterly.
"These clowns downstairs and one of Voldemort´s top duelists up here."