The Incompliable - Part One
Chapter 33: The Incompliable - Part One
Dispite the alarming... "Christmas card" the Wizarding Community had recieved from the Death Eaters, the actual Christmas holidays were quite peaceful.
Strangely and mysteriously, it seemed as though the Death Eaters went on holiday, taking a break from their... for the lack of a better word, work.
All was very quiet, especially in the Muggle World - something Hermione Weasley was very grateful for.
It had been ages since the last time, she had spent Christmas with her parents... and thistime it held an even greater significance.
Secretly, she was very afraid, how her parents would take the whole Repopulation Act, and even more, whether it would change their opinions of Ron. To her immense surprise and relief, the exact opposite had happened.
During the wedding, they saw that her parents not only aprooved, but simply rejoiced over the fact, that she was marrying him.
She saw, that Ron and her parents had absolutely no problem in bonding with eachother, dispite the obviously different magic-muggle backgrounds... and that bond strenghtened even more during the last few days.
"I must say... I´m very happy to see, that you like my cooking so much, Ron."said her Mum, as he asked for seconds - not an unussual trait of his, during breakfast.
"I was never quite sure before, what to cook for a wizard."
Hermione couldn´t help but laugh heartily.
"Mum... for this wizard...? ANYTHING!"she announced proudly, pointing at her husband.
The kitchen rang with laughter, even Ron laughed affecionately.
"You know me, Mione... I have a healthy appetite."
Dad Granger chuckled and placed a hand on his shoulder.
"Too healthy sometimes, son."he said good-naturedly, and Hermione felt a rush of wild happiness at the way her father adressed Ron as "son".
As they shared another laugh, there was a tap on the kitchen window.
"Pig."said Ron brightly, quickly standing up and heading towards the window.
"Oh my... poor dear..."breathed Mum Granger, as Ron quickly scooped Pigwidgeon inside, the tiny owl trembling a bit from the cold it had to endure, in order to deliver the letter.
Hermione grinned dispite herself.
Her Mum was always fascinated about Owl post and instantly fell in love with Ron´s little owl, treating it with gentle care.
As fast as she could, she rushed into the living-room and brought back a small blanket, while Ron took the mail from him.
"Here... warm yourself up... there you go... my poor little owl..."she cooed, wrapping Pigwidgeon in the tiny blanket, the owl hooting at her happily, as she scooped him into her loving embrace.
"Attention-seeker."remarked Ron rolling his eyes, but chuckled happily as he started to open the letter.
The moment he opened the envilope, several small fireworks boomed from it, along with a number of party-sounds, ribbons and twinkles.
THAT made it pretty clear, who sent the letter.
Hermione at once laughed.
"Looks like James, Fred and Alice couldn´t help but get into the Christmas cheer."she said, giggling happily, as her parents looked on in amazement.
"Ginny and Harry too, by the looks of it."informed Ron happily, pointing to the plush white snake, which fell out of the envilope, instantly starting to bounce around, just like Hazumi always did.
Cutely bouncing around the kitchen, around the giggling Mum, chuckling Dad, around Crookshanks who was trying to catch it, the pulsh snakie jumped onto the kitchen table, bowed its head in an noble manner and opened its mouth, making a cartoon-spitting sound as it released the letter onto the table, making all of them laugh again.
"Guess that means, you can keep the pulshie."said Ron happily, seeing that the Charm had worn off and it remained motionless on the table.
Hermione quickly reached for the letter, and started to read it, the moment she took it from her husband´s hand.
"Okay... first up... the Potters, Fred, Alice, Neville and Hannah send you all their love, and wish you all a Happy Christmas... and of course invite you to a large party, at the Potter Cottage tommorow."she said, already reading the lines, undoubtably written by Ginny.
Ron already guessed as much, moving to her brightly, but not reading the letter himself.
"What else does Ginny have to say? How was her Christmas?"he asked brightly, her parents also eager to hear more - they have already heared of, and met Ginny and the Potters.
She read several lines, giggling at a few of them.
"She and Harry already attended a few Noble parties before Christmas. One at the Slughorns´ in particural - where she was apparently introduced to Gwenog Jones..."
"WHAT?! The captain of the Holyhead Harpies?!"he boomed in surprise, knowing full-well of his little sister´s Quiddich hero.
"Judging by what she wrote, Ginny is clearly over the moon."
Ron shook his head, his smile growing.
"I´d bet. She´s been her Quiddich hero since she was eight years old. What about presents? What did she get from Harry? I know she´ll write all about that."
She scanned a letter and fought down a laugh.
"She got a new Quidditch gear from James and Lily... a Weasley Wheezes package from Fred and Alice... a large pack of sweets from Fidus and Apricie... and... from Harry... a new Firebolt..."
"WHAT?!"he boomed, looking at her in sheer shock.
"... version Deluxe - she wrote me to remind you."she said, fighting down the urge to laugh .
"B-bloody hell..."he breathed, shifting back on his seat, looking paralyzed.
"Ron... this broom... by the sound of it, it must be something like a Ferrari in cars, right?"asked her Dad uncerainly, trying somehow to relate it to muggle terms.
She couldn´t help but giggle yet again.
"Actually, Dad... its more like an F1."she answered, positively relishing to see Ron in such a state - it was simply adorable.
Her Dad´s jaw dropped, and she could tell, that thistime he had understood perfectly.
Quickly reading the next lines of the letter, she had come across something, that interested her.
"They´ve also spent time with Aberforth and Professor Dumbledore. From what Ginny is writing, Dumbledore and Harry seemed to have spent quite some time together, talking privately..."
Ron didn´t seem to be surprised at the news.
"Well... you know Dumbledore... and Harry too. Two geniuses... I bet they have a ton of things to talk about."
While Ron didn´t think it, she was not really sure, that that was all there was there to it.
"She writes, that Dumbledore is clearly happy about something, and that Harry seems to be supportive of it, but neither will elaborate further."
Ron simply shrugged, but she had the feeling that something significant must have happened.
The Granger parents of course had come to know her Headmaster, since he was present at Ron and Hermione´s wedding, and upon finally meeting him, they immediately had come to like him - in fact, they told Hermione, that THAT was exactly the way they imagined a wizard to look like.
The explanation, that Harry won´t elaborate further seemed to have sufficed for the parents and Ron, but not for Hermione.
"Maybe we should look into this with Ginny and Alice later on."she thought.
"Did she also write, what did SHE give to Harry? Did he like that puzzle, you told me about?"asked Ron curiously.
Hermione of course told him of Ginny´s intended present, since the reason for such a simple puzzle mystified her even now. However, as she read the next lines of Ginny´s letter, it had become very clear.
"That´s cheating..."she growled, her eyes narrowing at the letter.
"What is?"asked Ron confusedly.
"Ginny... apparently modified that puzzle. And asked Ravenclaw´s portrait for advise on how to do it."
Trough her narrowed eyes, she saw her husband hurriedly clap a hand onto his mouth, failing miserably to restrain the snicker that escaped him.
Before another word could even be said, there was another tap on the window.
Ron moved to the window at once, opening the window for another owl.
"Another letter from the family?"asked Dad Granger brightly.
"No. Its just the Prophet. Blimey... its... larger than ussual."Ron informed idly, as he took the newspaper and moved back to the kitchen table.
"The newspaper?"her Mum asked brightly.
So far, after her wedding, she refrained from telling her parents what was going on.
She did not want to involve them in all this, in any possible way... especially since she and Ron were unsure about the future themselves - well... SHE more than Ron, who always tried to assure her, that all would work-out in the end.
OR worry them again - the adventure in the Department of Mysteries nearly two years ago had really scared them, and though they´ve told her that they were proud of her for it, she could tell that they had been deeply worried when they heared of her involvement in the Battle of Hogwarts. She did not dare tell them of the recent Christmas shopping disaster.
"Let´s see it, then."said her Dad cheerfully.
"Oh no, Dad. I bet it just has a lot of rubbish written in it - nothing interesting whatsoever."she said cheerfully.
"Nonsence, sweetheart. You know how much your father and I like to hear about the wizarding world. As well as enjoy those moving photos."said her Mum, still cuddling Pigwidgeon to herself, before turning to Ron.
"Ron dear, could you please bring the paper to the table, so we can read it together?"
Hermione stiffened, hearing her mother´s plea. Ron swiftly shot her an apologetic look, as he brought the paper to the table, sitting down. Her parents instantly sat beside him.
She approached her husband from behind as her Dad started to read the Headline aloud.
The Reinforcement Act takes its next steps
In responce to the current situation, the Ministry had decided to fully use the assistance, the members of the Reinforcement Act Patrol are to provide.
"Of course, our recruits lack the experience and guidance neccessary, which the Ministry will only be too happy to provide."said our Minister, Cornelius Fudge.
Since there are many situations currently at hand, the Repopulation Act Office and its Head, Athena Kellen, had provided the Minister for the best possible candidate, who would lead these brave voulenteers.
"Since the Auror Office cannot spare anyone at the moment, my Office will generously spare one of our own, best members. I assure everyone, that Mr Runcorn is a very able person indeed."said Madam Kellen.
Indeed, Albert Runcorn, 36, half-blood, is a long-standing member of the Ministry. He was a member of the Magical Law Enforcement Office, until the Repopulation Act Office came into being.
"Runcorn?"breathed Ron, trying to mask his disgust.
Hermione also knew about Runcorn - Arthur never had anything nice to say about him, and she even heared, that he was one of those, who were to stop Harry and Ginny´s wedding on Kellen´s orders. She also heared from Ginny, that Harry had bounced him onto the Dark Mark Barrier, like a rag-doll - she couldn´t say, that she had been sorry to hear that...
"That´s him?"asked her Mum, pointing to the man on the picture.
"Yes, Mum. That´s him."answered Hermione quickly, sharing a swift glace with Ron, taking advantage of the moment, when her Dad also moved closer to look at the picture too.
She could tell from the tiny smile he had given her, that Ron had perfectly understood her small nod thistime - her parents must NOT know, that this peace of news signals a turn for the worse.
"Well... I read, that he made quite the career... at least I think. Having him as Head of this... Patrol is good then."remarked her Dad.
Ron was trying hard not to let anything show, but right at the second page, he was on the verge of exploding at the sight of Lockhart´s grinning face.
An attack on our hero
"Attack?"breathed Mum Granger quietly.
Yesterday evening, our great hero - Gilderoy Lockhart - had been attacked by an unknown wizard, while on his way home from the Leaky Cauldron.
Several witches and wizards witnessed the duel, luckily no one was harmed over the course of it.
"It was dreadful, it went down so fast. Some cloaked wizard attacked Mr Lockhart from behind. He defended himself and an outstanding duel broke out."said one of the eyewitnesses.
This unknown wizard seemed to have dueled our great hero on even ground.
"He was a particurally strong opponent. Even a wizard of MY calibre had trouble penetrating his defences or finding an opening."said Mr Lockhart, reflecting on the duel.
Ron quickly shared a look with his wife, but she only shook her head slightly, while her Dad continued to read.
Unable to gain the upper-hand, the wizard retreated, and managed to evade capture by the heroic Lockhart.
The members of the Magical Law Enforcement were on the scene almost immediately and not long after, the members of the Vigilante Task Force arrived as well.
"We have reason to belive, that the attack on Gilderoy Lockhart is directly linked to the Derwent Institute killings, as well as the murder of Edwin Blacklock - the Head of the St Mungo´s Hospital. We are currently trying to confirm the suspition, that this was all the work of the Masked Wizard."said Deianira Kellen, 22, pure-blood, deputy of the Vigilante Task Force.
"The Masked Wizard? Who´s that?"asked Dad Granger in amazement.
Ron quickly looked at Hermione, who saw the small fire in his eyes, and nodded in understanding - they didn´t want to lie about this.
"A mysterious skilled wizard, Dad. We now know, that he was on our side from the very begining. It was he, who helped us in the Department of Mysteries. He always appears, where the trouble is and fights for what is right."she said with a smile, that reached her eyes, more so... she felt proud to know this mysterious wizard - or rather wizards - in person.
Her parents exchanged a small surprised look.
"That sounds like some kind of... Zorro of the Wizarding World."said her Mum.
Hermione giggled, knowing that the statement would certainly leave Harry blushing - oh, she couldn´t wait to tell him THIS.
Ron on the other hand looked troughoutly confused.
"Zo - zorro? Who´s THAT?!"
She embraced Ron from behind, giggling again.
"Its a muggle, fictional hero, Ron. A noble, who wears a mask and fights injustice for the good of the common people."she could tell, that the explanation surfficed perfectly.
"Superhero Complex all over again, eh?"he asked with a grin.
She kissed his cheek in affirmation, while her parents looked once more confused.
"Superhero Complex?"asked her Mum in sheer confusion, that made both of them laugh.
"That´s what the Minister for Magic calls it. You see... he is very scared of the Masked Wizard, thinking that he is there to overthrow him."explained Ron.
Dad Granger laughed.
"The illness of all politicians, it seems. Let me guess... he set up this... Task Force to capture him."
Ron grinned at him.
"Yup. They´re trying their hardest. But they always come up empty-handed. They´ll NEVER catch him, if you ask me."
Flipping the page of the Prophet, they all looked at a photo of a magnifiscent hall, or a ball-room.
Standing there were two figures - a young woman and an even younger boy. Both were wearing robes, which looked as magnifiscent as the room behind them, and both wore a look of clear superiority.
Ron growled, as he recodnized the boy.
Hermione also scrowled, recodnizing Corvin McLaggen... or rather Corvin Kellen now.
"So this is Orphea Kellen."she muttered, looking to the other person on the photo.
"She looks nice."noted her Mum, clearly liking the impressive robes on her.
"Maybe... but, she´s one of the most stuck-up pure-bloods, you can ever meet."said Ron at once, in a disgusted voice.
Hermione recalled what Ginny and Torie told her about Orphea - in fact, they called her a proud, golden-robed cow.
The Granger parents seemed to have understood. Shrugging, Mum Granger started to read the article.
A Grand Noble Assembly announced
The Noble families - the very backbone of our country´s wizarding population - have traditionally been present on each and every importaint decidion.
So was it, naturally, with the Repopulation Act, as well as the recent Reinforcement Act.
Rumors have been circulating, that the Nobles have taken different stands, during the passing of the latter Act.
"Rumors - yeah, right. Several families abstained from the vote, wanting no part in it. With the Potters in lead."he said, a proud note to his voice.
"This is a serious time for everyone in the country. The Minister is very troubled by the situation in the Noble circle, and so are we."said Madam Orphea Kellen, 22, pure-blood.
In responce to this, a Grand Assembly of Nobles is being prepared and will take place in three days at the Merlin Memorial Hall - the traditional meeting place for the entire Noble circle for more than seven hundred years.
This assembly is organized by one of the Top Noble Seven Families, the Kellen family - Madam Orphea and her Noble husband Corvin, 15, pure-blood."
The Granger parents looked at Ron and Hermione in sheer amazement.
"That boy beside her is her husband?!"asked Dad Granger incredulously.
Ron shot a small look at Hermione, before answering.
"You see... the old Pure-blood Noble Family Law enables marriages from the age of 15 - as long as their family Heads agree. The Kellens are the ones leading the whole Repopulation Act and many Noble families stuck a deal with them."
"Poor boy."breathed Mum Granger, no doubt under the impression that he had been forced into it.
Ron scrowled, and Hermione placed a hand on her mother´s shoulder.
"We know him from our House, Mum. Believe me... he´s anything but a poor boy. He´s as stuck-up as his brother, wife AND mother-in-law."
Dad Granger folded his arms and fixed both of them a look.
"Well... another Act passed, Patrol units, a Masked Wizard, a Grand Noble Assembly - which is something, I bet doesn´t happen often... I can´t help but think, that there is much more going on in the Wizarding World, than you´re letting on, Hermione."he said, fixing his only daughter a stern look.
Hermione tensed, but before she could voice any kind of reply, the doorbell rang.
"We should take Pigwidgeon upstairs."she said at once, looking to her husband, who stood up as well, taking the owl from his mother-in-law.
Racing up into her room, she closed the door and pressed her back to it, the moment Ron went by.
"Well... there we go - they know."she commented sadly, watching Ron place a happily hooting Pigwidgeon back into his cage.
"Mione... I reckon now is as good time as any to tell them everything."he said bluntly, turning to her.
Once again, Hermione bit her lip in frustration.
"I know... its probably better to hear it from me, rather than the paper... but I just..."
Ron quickly covered the distance between them, wrapping his arms around her lovingly.
"I know, Mione. You didn´t want to worry them. But they´re parents - they worry... just like my parents. I think it´ll be better, if they DO know, what´s going on."
Hermione snuggled into his embrace, even as she released a sigh.
"MIONE, RON, COULD YOU COME DOWN, PLEASE?"rang her Mum´s voice from somewhere downstairs.
"That came from the living room. Well... I guess you´re right. There´s no way to avoid it now anyway - I´ll tell them everything."she said, separating from her husband´s embrace.
Opening the door, she stopped when she felt Ron take her hand into his.
"WE´LL tell them everything."he said simply.
She instantly shot him a look of sheer and utter gratitude, before swiftly rewarding him with a peck on the lips.
"Come on, you..."she breathed lovingly, pulling him gently after her, not able to restrain a giggle at the goofy look, her tiny little peck made appear on his face.
The moment they reached the living room however, their smiles froze.
Standing in the living room, along with her confused looking parents were three people.
Two of them - the younger ones, looking in their twenties - were dressed in plain muggle clothes. On the side of their chests was a small badge, that on first look could be mistaken for a Hogwarts Prefect´s Badge. On closer look, one could easily make out the letters R, A, P, placed one over the other.
That made it perfectly clear to the young Weasley couple, who these people were.
Although, they needed no such assistance, given their obvious leader - dressed in a black trenchcoat, and so recodnizable, that even her parents knew who he was.
Especially, since they saw him in the paper, mere moments ago.
"Ronald and Hermione Weasley, I presume."started Runcorn, surveying the pair of them.
Both only nodded in numb shock - both wondering, what in the world was Runcorn doing HERE of all places, or worse... what did he want from them.
"I am Albert Runcorn, the leader of the Reinfor-..."
"We know, who you are. Is this another check-up from the Repopulation Act Office?"asked Hermione, trying to go cautiously, and trying not to look at her parents.
Runcorn´s face remained neutral.
"No, Mrs Weasley. I am here on different business. I merely have a few questions to ask you."
"About what?"asked Ron, his eyes narrowing.
"About Dean Thomas, Lavender Brown and Fay Dunbar. They are your classmates at Hogwarts, are they not? According to our information, you have also been their respective roommates at Hogwarts, prior to becoming Head Boy and Girl, correct?"
Ron and Hermione looked at eachother for a small moment, before looking back at Runcorn.
"Yes, they are. What is this about?"
Runcorn didn´t even bother to answer Ron´s question.
"Have you been in contact with any of them recently? After leaving the castle for the Christmas Holiday?"
Hermione chaught her glare just in time - she now knew, full-well what this was all about, and she could tell by the way Ron squeezed her hand, that he knew too.
"No. We haven´t. We are never in contact during the holidays. We´ve only been in contact with the rest of the family - Ron´s siblings, in-laws and such."she said, hoping that Runcorn will make the connection, since he was apparently so well informed.
Judging by the scrowl, that crossed his features for a small moment - he HAD.
"Well... as fellow Gryffindors in the same year, I gather that you are all friends. Did they ever speak to you about their feelings on the Repopulation Act?"
"Not really, no."answered Ron.
Runcorn narrowed his eyes at him, making it very clear, that he did not believe it.
"Look, eversince the Repopulation Act came out, it only added on our already busy scheduele. We are currently busy with our NEWT classes, as well as having Head Boy and Girl duties to perform, while outside of class. As well as the Gryffindor Quidditch Team Captain duties, my husband needs to do. Unfortunately, we do not have as much time on our hands, as our classmates enjoy."said Hermione, now really glaring Runcorn, and being really thankful of the fact, that she and Ron unlike so many others were spending the most of their class-free time at Hogwarts.
Runcorn scrowled again, but shrugged.
"Very well then, Mr and Mrs Weasley. I must however ask you, that should you come into any kind of contact, or see any of them, be sure to notify the Ministry. I thank you for your time, and we shall see ourselves out."
With a nod to his two cohorts, they made their way towards the front door.
"Wait. You haven´t answered my question. What´s this all about?"called Ron.
Runcorn turned and looked at him.
"Haven´t you read the Prophet today, Weasley? In that case, I suggest you do - pages 10 and 11. Good day."he said, before walking out the front door, after the other two.
The moment the front door closed, Hermione´s parents looked at the pair of them, half-worried and half-angry.
"Hermione..."started her Dad, but she cut him off.
"I didn´t tell you anything since the wedding, but only because I didn´t want to worry you more. The situation in the Wizarding World is really not good at all. Please sit down. Ron and I will tell you everything."
The Grangers looked at eachother in surprise, before sitting down in one of the large armchairs. Hermione lead Ron to the other large one and sat down with him. Holding her husband´s hand tightly, she took a long breath and started to talk.
Aided by Ron, she proceeded to explain everything that was going on - mostly in terms, her parents could easily understand, leaving out only those things, that were very uncertain or things, that should remain secret - at least for now.
When she finished, half an hour later, her parents looked indeed worried, not to mention angry, but thistime it was directed at Fudge and the Ministry.
Remembering Runcorn´s comment on the pages in the Prophet - pages, they didn´t have a chance to read yet - the four of them moved back into the kitchen, where the paper still was, quickly turning on pages 10 - 11.
The double-page held more than 20 pictures of witches and wizards - several of them, the young Weasley couple recodnized all-too well.
These witches and wizards have been all reported missing. Their respective families are of course, desperate for any news. The Ministry for Magic asks for assistance in finding them. Any and all information regarding their whereabouts should be fowarded to the Ministry, or any member of the Reinforcement Act Patrol.
Beneath each picture was a name, age, and the estimated time of their dissapearance.
Ambrose Gillis, 32, half-blood, late November
Zacharias Smith, 18, pure-blood, begining of Christmas Holidays
Marcus Belby, 18, half-blood, begining of Christmas Holidays
Michael Corner, 16, muggle-born, begining of Christmas Holidays
Fay Dunbar, 17, half-blood, begining of Christmas Holidays
Lavender Brown, 17, half-blood, begining of Christmas Holidays
Hermione bit her lip, as the pictures of her old roommates smiled at her sadly.
Tracey Davis, 17, half-blood, begining of Christmas Holidays
Dean Thomas, 17, muggle-born, begining of Christmas Holidays
Ron closed his eyes and let out a long sigh. They knew it was only a matter of time before something like this happened... Especially, since the meeting of the Repopulation Act rebels at Hogwarts - Neville had told them, that some of their fellow classmates were determined not to follow the act, and many were talking about going into hiding.
He scanned the pictures of those, who were no longer Hogwarts students, not really recodnizing any of them.
Looking at the last picture, he gave out a loud gasp of shock.
"Ron?"breathed Hermione in surprise.
Ron however only stared at the picture, looking as though he had been stupefied.
"Ron dear, are you all right?"asked Mum Granger in concern.
Hermione looked at the picture, her husband was looking at, and instantly understood.
She placed a gentle hand on his shoulder, the pair of them watching the picture of a young, spectacled man, who gave them a small, but pleasant smile.
Brian Reeves, 19, muggle-born, early November
Dressed in her disguise as Amanda Roberts, Daphne Greengrass surveyed the setting of the old, abandoned muggle Zoo.
She was grateful, that Tom had told her of this location, though he had different plans for it. If only those stupid muggles knew, how much free space and abandoned dwellings of theirs had beend hidden from their blind, yet prying eyes...
Located on the far outskirts of a larger muggle town, the place was not only close to the muggles, but quite like the amusement park, that the Death Eaters now use as a base, it was one of the areas that the Ministry did not bother to monitor at all.
Subtly suggesting this location to one of the muggle-borns in the group, she made it look as though the woman had come up with the idea.
The place required a lot of work, but the fact only seemed to have increaced the group´s morale.
As she passed by, her eyes were tracking the empty cages and exhibits.
"Maybe it would be interesting, if this place was filled with animals again. It wouldn´t be hard to get them, and several of the mudbloods around love animals - they would go for the idea in an instant."she mused, thinking of the possibilities it would offer.
At hearing her name called, she looked to the side, seeing a young pair walk towards her.
"Owen, Misty... all is fine, I take it."she said pleasantly as the two young people, in their waning teens came to her.
Holding their hands, they had their wands in the other ones.
"More than fine, Amanda. We´ve set up all the extra Defence wards in the east wing - no one is getting in without us knowing."said Owen, placing the wand inside his robes and running a hand trough his long, wavy brown hair.
She smiled at the tall, thin, 19-year-old ex-Ravenclaw.
"That´s good then. I must say, Owen... Ambrose told me, that you´re quite the expert on them."she said, feigning admiration.
Owen grinned proudly.
"Oh, they´re a piece of cake... I´m a Ravenclaw afterall..."
The slightly shorter, 18-year-old girl, an ex-Hufflepuff with black hair, tied several small pigtails, had also placed her wand inside her robes and gave a playful slap on his shoulder.
"Yes, yes, yes... so we know. Pay no attention to this show-off, Amanda."she said good-naturedly.
Owen blushed slightly, but kept grinning shepishly at the pair of them.
"So, what were you up to?"asked Misty brightly.
Daphne... or rather Amanda now, only shrugged.
"I was just walking around... reflecting on my childhood. I haven´t been in a Zoo for years."she answered, sticking to her cover as a muggle-born.
Both Owen and Misty nodded in understanding.
"I know what you mean. We haven´t been to one, since before Misty´s fifth-year at Hogwarts."said Owen, looking at the empty cages.
Misty giggled and slapped his arm again.
"You mean before YOUR sixth - Merlin, you were so nervous about how many OWLs you´d get. So much, that Mum asked me to take you somewhere, to take your mind off things, since you were hardly even eating."
Amanda raised an eyebrow, a sly smile appearing on her face.
"Owen... a genius like you? Shame on you."
Misty erupted in giggles as Owen blushed scarlet.
"Well... we should give our genius a break, Amanda. In fact... could you please give our report to Brian for us? I would like to... reflect a bit with my cute big brother."she said with a wink, and smiling at the blush on Owen´s face.
"Sure. Feel free to... ah, reflect all you want."said Amanda with a grin.
As the pair of them walked to the direction, she had been coming from, Daphne couldn´t help but recall their story.
Misty, the young daughter of a half-blood witch, who had married a filthy muggle man, a mere half-year before his son, Owen recieved a letter from Hogwarts. Though innitially having a rocky, sibling relationship, the two fell in love during Misty´s fifth-year - something, that had been threatened by the Repopulation Act.
And this was just ONE story among many others in this group of Repopulation Act rebels.
"Seriously... I sometimes think I should write all of this down. It would make Madam Sugarsweet´s trashy romance novels look lamer, than they already are."she thought with amusement.
For a small moment, she imagined Tom´s face, if he´d known half of these peoples´ life-stories.
In an instant, she was launched into a fit of affectionate giggles - oh, she could JUST picture his look of sheer, boyish disgust.
Still giggling, she walked into the main building of the Zoo.
There, she greeted many of the... comarades, as she walked towards the hall.
There was an air of compagnionship in the air - all were working for a common goal.
"Just perfect. It won´t be long now."she thought with a sudden feel of sadistic pleasure.
Walking into the main room, where a large table - fit for more than twenty people - was.
On the very end of it, sat the young, bespectacled man, the group was now looking up to.
His blue eyes were currently running over the copy of Daily Prophet. On the right side of his part of the table was a small notebook, where he was undoubtably making notes.
Noticing her, he looked up.
"Looks like the younger Hogwarts students have gone into hiding."said Brian Reeves.
She fixed him a smile.
"Told you. Are you going to approach them?"
Reeves nodded, his eyes returning downwards.
"Naturally. But there are two more things, that concern me at the moment."he said, narrowing his eyes at two pages of the Prophet, that were on the table in front of him.
Looking at the pages, Daphne had to surpress a satisfied smile. The pages on the table were showing Runcorn and his Patrol, and the announcement of the Grand Noble Assembly.
"Looks like I´ve indeed chosen well."she thought, as Reeves looked up again and asked her to summon Ambrose and a few others to him.
"AAAAH! DAMN!"roared Ginny, as she fell to her knees in James´ study.
James was by her side in an instant, but he couldn´t help but grin at her.
"Almost had it!"she growled, as he helped her up.
"Calm down, kiddo. Here... rest for a bit."he chuckled, as he sat her down on one of the chairs.
She wanted to shake her head and insist on giving it another try, but her exhaustion chaught up with her. As she finally melted into the armchair, she gratefully accepted the bottle of Butterbeer - James´ favourite way to finish their training sessions.
"Over... already...?"she questioned, dispite the fact, that she was panting for breath and that her sore body was now positively screaming in protest.
Still grinning, James shook his head.
"It doesn´t matter, that you weren´t able to reach it today, Gin. I´m very pleased with your progress. I´m confident, that you´ll clear stage three in no time at all. I´ve said so before, but you obviously have a real knack for this. Just like with Fire Magic."said James proudly, as he opened his own Butterbeer.
She gave him a weak smile, before sipping some too.
Just then, the large clock in James´ study announced the time - they once again took longer, than expected. In fact, it was almost dinnertime.
"Hm... we took most of the afternoon... I´m surprised, that Harry didn´t come here, asking for you."mused James.
Ginny wasn´t very much surprised.
This morning she was having her ussual lie-in and woke up once again to the sight of her husband in bed with her, reading.
However, he was reading the Daily Prophet - his face looking stony and analytic. After lunch he retreated into their room and she knew full-well, that it had something to do with the articles in it - though she hadn´t got round to reading them yet.
She sipped her Butterbeer quietly, she thought about what might be going on.
Trough the Christmas Holidays she could tell, that Harry had been thinking heavily about something - no matter how much he tried to pretend otherwise.
She knew, that the situation was looking very grim since the Vote - even among the Noble Ladies, there was much concern.
For her, it meant one more question - her husband´s secret identity...
As the Masked Wizard... what is he going to do?
Up until now, she refrained to ask him that.
"Maybe I should... before he runs off into action again..."she mused as she exited James´ study.
Coming down the stairs she couldn´t help but notice Neville and Hannah in the living room, playing a game of Patronus Battle with Fred and Alice. All four of them were laughing, as their Patronuses jumped around, assisting that of their tag-partners and trying to best the other team.
For a while, she stod there, smilingly watching the game.
Fred´s monkey Patronus was jumping and shielding Alice´s dog Patronus, while Neville´s frog Patronus was leading their attack and Hannah´s duck Patronus was defending it - it was quite a show, really.
As she watched on, she became aware, that she wasn´t the only one watching.
Looking beside her, she spotted the elderly female family House-elf, her face torn between amusement and mild-exaspiration.
"They is should not play like this, when we is expecting a guest."sais Apricie with a sigh.
She smiled gently at the elf, of course knowing who was to visit the cottage for dinner.
"I´m pretty sure, that Bathilda will mind, Apricie."
Though Apricie could not exactly argue the point - especially given, that the guest in question is a pretty frequent one - she still seemed slightly disaprooving.
"You is looking tired, Mistress Ginny."she noted, looking at her properly, her eyes at once showing concern.
"I´ve just had a bit of training of my own, Apricie. Its nothing to be worried about."she said assuredly.
Apricie still looked concerned.
"Should Apricie excuse Mistress from dinner and bring her some later? If she is too tired...?"
Ginny smiled tenderly at the elf - really... one just couldn´t help but love the way they always looked out for you.
"No, Apricie. That´s fine. I´ll rest up and come to dinner, along with everyone else, okay?"
Apricie nodded, but looked at her a bit pleadingly.
"Could Mistress Ginny also get Master Harry to come?"
The gentle question made her giggle. Indeed, Harry did not attend the family dinner for a few days now - since he had either been on some small meeting with other Nobles, or simply too busy with repairing Hufflepuff´s Cup in the privacy of his room.
"Well... I´ll do my best. But I can´t make promises, you know. Head of the family and all that... no one of us can boss him around now."she said with a wink.
Apricie laughed lightly.
"But only Mistress can make Master... change his mind."said Apricie, almost slyly.
Ginny shared a laugh along with the old house-elf.
"Well... I´ll happily do my utmost best."she said with a wink.
Walking towards the door of their room, she actually took the time to figure out the door´s riddle, surprisingly getting it right in a very short ammount of time.
There was a very calm, pleasurable, almost lazy atmoshpere in their room. Only a few candles supplied the little light in the room, and Harry was playing another piece of music he had gotten from his Japanese friends. The calm, pleasurable melody was calming and beautifull.
Looking towards the main table, she saw her husband seated in his favourie cobra-head chair - the very same chair he had been sitting in during their wedding, slightly modified and along with her own, presented as a wedding gift from the Lennoxes.
What made her heart warm over was the fact, that he was once again playing with HER Christmas present - indeed she could not have possibly made him a better one.
"I really can´t thank you enough for the puzzle..."he said gently, as she came closer.
She grinned, as she watched his fingers still fiddle with the metal ball, trying to manoovre it out of its cage. She Charmed it, so that it would always make the task difficult. Though solvable, it always made sure, that it would be quite the challenge - something, she knew her Harry positively lives for, especially when puzzles are concerned.
"Gin...? You look tired."he said, taking a better look at her.
She simply shrugged, deciding on simply telling the truth - or some measure of it.
"I´ve been doing some training. With your Dad."
Harry´s eyebrow shot up in curiosity.
"Well... its better to learn from more than one teacher. You never know, how much you can learn that way."
Harry held her gaze for a second, but Ginny knew that he wouldn´t dare use Occlumency. Sure enough, he gave her a small smile and shrugged - no doubt deciding not to pry.
"Fair enough."he said simply, putting the puzzle down on the table and rising from his chair.
"So... is this all you were doing this afternoon? Lazing, listening to your music and playing with your puzzle?"she asked playfully.
Harry bit his lip and gestured to the table.
Ginny saw two large articles from the Daily Prophet this morning. Looking questioningly at her husband, he only nodded.
She quickly scanned the two articles, but was shocked by the second one. One showing the missing witches and wizards - several of them people she knew, and was friends with.
"Runcorn already started to act. Double B confirmed that he and his lot were out questioning the families and friends of the missing people, or how the Ministry now calls them - the Incompliable."
She cast him a half-angry and half-incredulous look, though truth-be-told, it was to be expected with the Deadline of the Repopulation Act coming within the next week.
"Apparently, they´ve got lucky by questioning one of the muggle-born families under Veritaserum and they´ve told them, where the Hogwarts lot will be meeting today, before going into total hiding. B was able to provide me with intel about Runcorn´s orders - directly from Kellen. He is to arrest the lot of them, and they will be sent to Azkaban without a trial."
"What are you planning to do?"she asked him at once.
Harry looked to the side where she knew that, hidden under the pillow supporting his sleeping Boa-constridor, was the Masked Wizard´s mask. He quickly looked back at her with determination in his green eyes.
"What I can, Gin. I won´t let Kellen and her Repopulation Act Office do this..."
She answered his determined look with a blazing one of her own. She held his gaze perfectly, wanting to let him know, that she stood by him a hundred percent.
"I´ll deal with the family here. And I won´t breathe a word to Nev, Hannah, Fred or Bathilda."
The determined look in his eyes changed into a look of sheer and utter appretiation, which he held for a small moment before litterally smashing his lips onto hers in a passionate kiss.
"Don´t think you´re off the hook though, Potter..."she breathed as soon as they separated, but had yet to break their embrace.
"This time, it really IS a job for the Masked One, but one day soon... I´ll be fighting right beside you, are we clear?"
She almost purred at the twinkle in his eyes.
"Absolutely."he breathed, before she smashed HER lips on his.
Still lip-locked the two manoovred towards the bed, nearly falling onto poor Hazumi, who bounced out of the way in just the right time.
The small, but steamy snogging session lasted only a few moments before there was a loud knock on the door.
"GIN, HARRY! MUM SAYS DINNER IS READY. BATHILDA IS ALSO HERE."roared Alice´s voice.
"I swear... that girl is too loud."grumbled Slytherin´s portrait.
Both young Potters shared a small snicker at the sight of old Professor Salazar grumbling with his hands on his ears.
"COMING!"roared Ginny just as loud.
"Loud LIONS!"exclaimed Slytherin, while Gryffindor´s portrait snickered boyishly, causing his old friend to shoot him a death-glare.
Harry and Ginny shared a laugh, before Harry double-checked the time.
"Well... time for me to move out."he said, obviously calmer than he was, when he was sitting here alone.
Ginny wasn´t in a hurry to get out of bed.
She lay on her belly comfortably, watching Harry summon the pieces of the Masked Wizard´s robes to him with a wave of his wand, and starting to dress up.
"Don´t you have a dinner to get to?"he asked playfully, while he slipped on the armor.
"It can wait."she answered gleefully, quite happy to see him put on the robes.
The moment he was almost ready, she got up from the bed and approached him, inspecting him like she did before her first Noble Party.
"Check."he answered brightly.
"Triple Check."he answered proudly.
"Fidus?"she asked slyly, already knowing Harry´s secret getaway plan.
"Standing by, in case I need him."
"Mask?"she asked, now positively smirking.
"Che- HEY!"he exclaimed, when he saw that Ginny had the mask in her hand.
He shook his head, smiling with utter admiration, before adopting a sly look of his own.
"Good-luck kiss?"he asked innocently.
"Hm... can´t leave without that, can you?"she answered playfully, before giving him a loving one.
"Give ´em hell. Show Runcorn what a... ah, Masked Menace you really are."she said proudly.
"We´ll celebrate when I get back."he breathed, before he allowed her to place the mask on his face.
Ginny gave him a mock-stern look.
"Schnell, schnell, sofort!"she commanded, mimicking the way Lily often rushes him.
Without another word, he gave her a mock-sallute, turned on his heel and went towards his table.
Pointing his wand on the floor, he opened the secret passageway he had built after his fifth-year, supplied by the knowledge from good old Professor Slytherin. With a final wave to her, he dissapeared down it, the trap-door closing behind him.
A/N: Hi guys. Its been a while, but hopefully this chapter will make up for the time you had to wait for it. As many of you have pointed out several times, my grammar is not exactly perfect and I´ve finally decided to get a Beta reader. Since there are a LOT of mistakes to repair, it may take some time, but we´re starting from Chapter One. Of course, I don´t want the new chapter to be put on hold until we get there, so if there are any other mistakes here (there really shouldn´t be, since I´ve read and re-read the entire thing so many times, trying to root them out, but still I´m only human) please bear with them for a while. Rest assured, that they will be repaired.
Onto the story - I´ve hinted a few things that have happened in the "backstory" I´m also writing, featuring Albus´ life, childhood and his history called "Confronting the Past" and though there´s only the prologue there yet, more chapters are coming soon - in fact, I´m writing the next one as we speak. A small secret - the outcome of that story will have its impact on this one in later chapters.
Not forgetting this one... well I´ve decided to make another "Parts" chapter since there is much going on, and much will happen, now that the Deadline of the Repopulation Act is approaching and Fudge is out for punishment. There will be several new characters there and as you may have guessed, one has a connection to Ron.
But more of that later.
The next chapter is going to be pretty action-packed, and I´ll try to make it as soon as I possibly can.
Until then, hope you love this one.
Did you enjoy my story? Please let me know what you think by leaving a review! Thanks, HarpieKing07Write a Review