A/N: Hi guys. :) Thanks very much for all the reviews. :) My remake is proving to be much more popular than I originally expected – so of course, I´m very thankfull for it :). I also like the fact, that I didn´t dissapoint those of you, who have read the original story (thank heavens :D). I apologize for the few spelling mistakes of mine :) Sometimes I just write too fast and do not register my mis-spelling of words. In any case I do try to check it over and correct them, though from time to time some may escape my notice :) As for the story itself... well... it´ll get more interesting from this point on... I will happily intorduce many things around Harry, his sibling(s) and also other OCs which have slight backstories of their own, such as our Slytherin muggle-born - Angus Lennox (heh... took me ages to figure out a surname for him :D), as well as the going-ons behind the Repopulation Act, which (as many things patronized by any government, I believe) is not as clear or grand as the people are made to believe, even in the Magical World. I have several things planned already, some of which are in keeping with the books, some are not – though this is an AU, so please bear with me ;). In any case I hope that you guys will have lots of fun and in the cases of a few certain scenes I´ve planned – lots of laughs as well – I also hope, that a few of my twists won´t leave you guys dissapointed. So for now, let´s move forward with the story. Oh... and I would very much love to hear you guys´ opinion of some of the OCs of mine like Alice, Fidus, Angus, Blaise, Astoria and others :) Any input from you guys, however small IS an extremly great help for me :)
Chapter 5: The Breach
The entire Ministry of Magic was quiet. In this late hour it seemed there wasn´t a single person left in the underground building. Though one or two would surely be there. Or even more, thought the mysterious figure which was now walking across the hall, his black robes flying gently after him. Having cast a Silencing Charm on the room, the figure left nothing to chance – not wanting to make a sound which could alert anyone who might have remained in the Ministry dispite the fact it was nearly midnight. The deep-green full-face mask on his face hid the excited smile underneath. The sheer thrill of the task ahead of him was vibrating deep within – it HAD been a while since he had engaged himself in anything like this. A part of him was worried, that it was all over after the Battle of Howgarts and rejoiced immensly his return into action. His excitement grew even more (dispite his trying to stay calm) as his target came into view – The Repopulation Act office. Stopping at the door, the figure once more took out his wand and performed a series of non-verbal spells and charms – checking for any sighn of persence in the room before him and breaking trough several security charms. Satisfied, that the few he broke was all that was, he took the door´s handle and opened the door. He couldn´t repress a smug smirk as he entered and quickly closed the door behind him. For all the importaince placed on the Repopulation Act, Fudge was being incredibly naive in placing so little security spells on the office. The smirk instantly turned to a frown upon the realization of another possibility – maybe there wasn´t anything there that was neccessary to hide or protect. Perhaps Fudge may be a bit cleverer afterall...?
The eyes scanned the room trough the openings in the mask. The office was simple in a way. Much like the other offices of the Ministry he had seen over the years, this one had three work-tables – a stock of papers on each of them, simple chairs, a small wash-sink and on the far-right side of the room a few file-cabinets. However the centre of the room held one particural device. It looked quite like a pensieve. Curiously he stepped closer to the device. THIS was the way the office matched up the engagements. A few moments spent in complete silence, the figure simply looked at it as though trying to decide what to do – a curious smirk appearing on his face, hid behind the mask. Using the wand, he prompted the device into life, the contents of its base swirling around and out of it rose a small bubble which was still connected to the base. The figure raised the wand and inserted a name into the bubble – TOM MARVOLO RIDDLE. With another wave of the wand the bubble returned into the base and the swirl started to spin around without making a sound – the contents spinning and spinning, faster and faster, many lights accompanying the process. After a few moments the contents stopped and glowed deep red. Suddenly another bubble rose from it with another name in it – MINERVA MCGONNAGAL. The figure´s eyes bulged and he swiftly performed a Silencing Charm on his mask before positively dissolving in hysterical laughter. After it recovered, he erased the name in the bubble with his wand and inserted another one – BELLATRIX LESTRANGE. However thistime the bubble refused to sink into the base and erased the name. Thinking it over, he tried another one – ANTONIN DOLOHOV. The bubble once more refused to sink and erased the name again. The same happened with names of PETER PETTIGREW, VINCENT CRABBE, DAPHNE GREENGRASS and MARCUS FLINT. The figure took one side-glance at the stack of papers on one of the desks and tried a Summoning Charm to call one specific paper and was not dissapointed. The paper flew into his hand and on it was a list of all known Death Eaters, including the Juniors. Getting another idea the figure inserted a name, that was not on the list nor alive for that matter – ALASTOR MOODY. Once more the bubble refused to sink. The same happened with another idea, names of LUCIUS MALFOY and JAMES POTTER. The figure suddenly regretted, that he didn´t have a much younger subject´s name to try out, like say a 10 or 11 year old. Shaking his masked head, he performed a Deletion Charm in order to cover up his trails. Walking to one of the worktable, he went trough the papers. A few things among them were of slight interest, but nothing importaint overall. Another stock of papers (a much larger one) was filled with names of witches and wizards – each and every one that were registered by the Ministry. This also suggested the part of the contents stored in the file-cabinets. Suddenly he heared voices approach. Swiftly he placed the papers down and performed a Disillusionment Charm on himself, hiding himself even before his own eyes. Quickly stepping to the door, he pressed himself to the side as the door swing open and in came Cornelius Fudge himself and another witch – blonde, wearing glasses, dressed in deep-green robes – a relatively good-looking woman in her early fourties.
"Everything is going as planned, Minister Fudge. All of the match-ups have been done and the people have been informed."she said, even as she stepped inside the office.
The invisible masked wizard made to slip out the open door before the woman could close it as he heared Fudge chuckle in delight.
"Very good, Athena. Now we can proceed to step two."
Fudge´s statement made the wizard stop. At once deciding to stick around and hear what the Minister had to say, however risky it was. He stuck carefully to the side of the office again as Athena Kellen closed the door and turned to the Minister, who was looking over the pensieve-like device smilingly.
"To think, that the Department of Mysteries lot have fretted about the Love Locator´s doubtfull ability. Heh... its not finished, Minister – they said... Its not tested... oh, what pathetic excuses. Bode even thought, that it was impossible to actually locate someone´s destined loved one. Can you believe that, Athena?"he said with another chuckle.
Athena Kellen smiled at the Minister with undeniable affection.
"Well... you know Minister, that the Love Locator only finds a potentional candidate."
Fudge gave another chuckle and waved his hand neglectadly.
"Close enough, my dear. Close enough. It does not matter. The people must understand, that they have a duty to perform to our community. Sadly a great many do not..."
"The High Society and our noble lineages DO understand, Minister."said Athena proudly.
Fudge smiled at her warmly. Athena Kellen was one of the leaders of the High Wizarding Society – a centuries old organization composed of the country´s wealthiest and most pure-blooded wizarding clans. Noble clans like the Blacks, Malfoys, Longbottoms, Crouches, Lestranges, Potters, Greengrasses, Bones and many other were members of it since the begining. The organization pretty much set the tones which the country´s wizarding society followed, generation after generation – a great number of its members holding power and conncetions not only in the Ministry. It was a prestine club of sorts, one to which even Cornelius Fudge (a half-blood himself) lacked a membership to and even marriage to his pure-blood wife could change that equation – which was one of the backfires of his old plan. However the two Wizarding Wars have dealt it a powerfull blow. Many of those which should hold their families´ places now, were either dead or imprisioned. But Fudge knew (as nearly every Minister for Magic before him), that this group of the most noble wizards still held such power, that it was better to be on the good side of them – something which always proved to be very beneficial for each Minister over the centuries. In exchange for the pro-pure-blood laws enacted, many lucrative deals made, the nobles always gave their aid to the governing Minister, both financial and legal – many have always held considerable political power.
"With the exception of Lucius Malfoy – which I more than understand of course, and James Potter everyone in the organization is pleased with the Act. Well... Sirius Black also voiced his reservations... my my... he´s obviously nothing like his family – besmirching the good name of such an old noble family."she said shaking her head, remembering Sirius Black even as a tiny Hogwarts student who entered the school during her sixth year.
Fudge sighed noddingly as Athena lost herself to her memories.
"Apparently something like this worsens by each generation, as I have observed Minister. During the old days I remember we only had cheeky little good-for-nothings like Black and Potter. Longbottom too in a different way... with all his kind and caring preaching... he sided with commoners (she shuddered at the word)... and married another huge dissapointment – Alice Crouch (she growled a bit at the name)... and now... (she shook her head) the last Longbottom, so wrapped around the Potters´ fingers... there is no hope for that old line, oh and what a shame as well – fame like his... well... a small hope IS in the Potter boy... he seems to be much different from his parents – perhaps the Potter lineage will once more hold a great noble."she said thoughtfully, already having plans for Harry Potter among other few youngsters in the noble families.
The Noble lineages were male-heridatory if the family had sons and having the young Potter on her side would certainly prove extremly usefull.
"In any case, Minister Fudge... the Nobles will definitely support you for another term, no matter what commoners OR old upstarts like Albus Dumbledore say in the matter. Have no fear. While you have us on your side, your position is unshakable."
Fudge gave her his best smile.
"I thank you for that Athena. Had it not been for your support, I would´ve lost the Minister´s chair after the Umbridge debacle."he said, shuddering at the mere memory.
Once it was clear that the Dark Lord had returned a great inquiry was to be made – something which would´ve costed him the top-job within minutes. Thanks to the Noble´s support Fudge was saved, though he had to sacrifice Dolores Umbridge – who took all the blame and was now serving a life-sentance in Azkaban.
Clearing his throat, he looked once more at the device.
"As for step two... we must enforce the following of the Act. I already have a small network of agents to be at the Repupulation Office´s disposal."
"Very well... I expect, that we will have to punish any disobedience severely. Just so we make a point."
Fudge smiled at her again.
"As Minister for Magic you have my personal support to do so. Even the Magical Law Enforcement lot won´t interfere with your competence."
Athena went to her work-table, sorting trough the papers – wanting to show something to Fudge. Suddenly however, she noticed something else among her papers. Looking over them again she noticed one particural paper missing.
"The list of Death Eaters! I have placed it there personally..."she murmured, as Fudge looked over, drawing his wand.
The masked wizard suddenly repressed the need to slap himself. The list was inserted behind his belt – in the wake of his investigations he forgot to place it back. What an childish mistake...
"Allow me, Athena. Accio list."said Fudge, before the masked wizard could perform a counter-spell on the damn paper.
The list shot beneath his belt and given the place he was standing, gave away his position. Both Fudge and Athena froze, realizing that there was someone there. Both instantly raised their wands – Fudge shooting a Stunning spell, while Athena cast an Alarm charm, before the invisible figure could stop her as he blocked Fudge´s spell. Before Athena could point her wad on the place where the spell was blocked, a curse flew from it and hit Fudge. Fudge´s clothing instantly became too tight, restraining him as they covered him completly and the Minister for Magic fell to the ground, his wand falling to the ground before him. Athena swiftly fired a series of stunners at the place from where the curse came, but the first two were blocked and the rest rebound off a non-verbally cast Shield charm. She was able to deflect one or two, but the rest hit her and she fell to the ground stunned. The still invisible wizard at once reached for the door and ran out of the room, knowing very well that the Alarm Charm activated other protective enchantments of the Ministry building. At once his Disillusinment Charm was lifted and he knew, that an Anti-Dissapearation Jinx was in effect too. Worse yet, judging by the running sounds he already heared coming his way, Aurors were already on their way. He swiftly ran trough the hall, swiftly trying to evade detection by the Aurors. No such luck, though.
"There he is!"exclaimed one of them, four others behind him.
All instantly fired spells at him and spread out, trying to block any way of escape. The Shield Charm the masked wizard cast was so strong, that the spells at once re-bound at rapid speed, hitting the walls, even catching Dawlish unprepared. As he fell to the ground, the masked wizard used the opening to run trough his way, even as he reflected another series of spells.
"Don´t let him get away!"he heared another Auror – Proudfoot yell as they ran behind him.
Trying to block and reflect spells behind his back, the masked wizard swiftly made himself to a larger hall, where he could fight back. Instantly he turned and shot a few curses, one of them stricking Savage and glueing him to the wall behind him, completly incapacitating him. Before the others could even register it, the wizard moved in - determined to take them all out before any of them could undo the curse pinning their comarade. The three Aurors attacked and fought at the same time, but the masked wizard not only held his own, but was driving them back. In short order he penetrated their defences and two other fell to the ground stunned as Proudfoot just managed to roll over, the curse missing him by inches. Gritting his teeth, the combative Auror had had enough.
"Avada Kedavra"he roared, green light shooting from his wand.
The masked wizard swiftly jumped to the side before the Killing Curse could make contact. Proudfoot fired another one, then another – both missing their target. Proudfoot gave an angry howl of rage before firing another one. The masked wizard was obviously extremly agile, much more than the angry Auror. Evading yet another Killing Curse the masked wizard was suddenly closer to him and on to an opening in Proudfoot´s defence. Before Proudfoot could shield or block, his wand flew from his hand and a second later a curse hit him – lifting him off the ground and making him fly upwards, painfully colliding with the cieling and glueing him in place.
"Gravity can be most unpleasant."said the masked wizard – his voice magicly changed by the mask, as he looked up at the goaning Auror.
"Be gratefull that the cielings are not so high around here."
Suddenly he jumped from the place he stood, making a small twirl in mid-air as he evaded a Stunning Spell.
Looking around he saw three more Aurors standing there, wands raised. All three were looking at the masked wizard, sizing him up. James Potter narrowed his eyes as he took in his appearance – black cloak, black high-boots, black belt, a deep-green mask and on his torso was what looked like body-armor of the same color, his arms and hands covered by black leather – this was no Death Eater uniform he recodnized.
"Lucky we had a late-night meeting with the Magical Law Enforcement office."noted Kingsley Shacklebolt.
"Yeah. What about you, mate?"said Sirius Black in a cheerfull voice, directing the question at the masked wizard.
"Couldn´t wait for the Ministry opening hours?"asked James with an innocent smile.
Sirius gave out a bark-like laugh.
"What people won´t do to avoid standing in lines."
"Come on, Padfoot... ever stood in one? Rather exhausting it is. You can´t blame our masked friend wanting to save himself the trouble."said James, joking along.
The masked wizard gave a kind of snort as he gave a few small looks around to verify his position and search for a way out – a gesture that didn´t go unnoticed by the three Aurors.
"You´re wasting your time, mate."said Sirius, still in a cheery voice.
"Thanks to the alarm you can´t disapparate out of here and there are many of us here now. I´m afraid you´re outnumbered my dear friend. Come on... we won´t be as mean as Proudfoot up there (he pointed to the Auror on the cieling)... put the wand down like a nice masked man..."
The masked wizard did no such thing. His only reply to it was a tiny chuckle, sounding a little menacing under the mask´s changed voice.
"Surrender."said Kingsley quietly, trying one more time.
The masked wizard moved in. James, Sirius and Kingsley all fired their spells, but the wizard blocked and evaded them. Jumping over Kingsley, he blocked Sirius´ Body-bind curse and fired another one at James, who had to react fast in order to block it. Blocking another series of curses, the wizard returned a few as well. However this trio was much more formidable than the previous one – having a perfect team-up, helping eachother out and guarding one another´s weaknesses. Smirking slightly under the mask, the masked wizard made another few attack-defence exchanges before jumping into the air and pointing the wand on himself.
"Impedimenta"he roared, the jinx blasting him away trough the hall´s passageway into the next one, surprising all three of them.
"Creative bloke."whispered Sirius feeling a resentfull pang of admiration at the unexpected move.
James couldn´t help but nod as they ran into the next hall. They entered, each were as vigilant as ever as they looked for the masked wizard. However not vigilant enough. Jumping behind a statue, the wizard chaught Kingsley off guard and at once Kingsley flew to the side of the wall, his wand falling from his hand as he was glued to it. James and Sirius turned around, but the masked wizard already moved in. Once more the trade of curses and blocks began, as the masked wizard moved around them – all three mindfull of the staircase leading down to another hall. Using a small advantage, the masked wizard transfigurated the stairs with an almost effortless wave of his wand – the staircase turning to an icy slide. James tried to press, tried to keep him away from them but the masked wizard outmanoovred him and swiftly slid himself down the staircase. With a nod from Sirius, the two followed and slid down after him. However it was a trap - the masked wizard had been waiting for them quite carefully hidden. At once Sirius was struck with a curse and his clothes wrapped tightly around him. James at once continued the fight alone, but now that he lost his two teammates he was clearly on defence. Trying desperately to gain the upper-hand, James tried to bait him with a false-opening in his defence. However the masked wizard saw trough it and acted the opposite way, which created another – unplanned opening. One which he took before James could even notice. Hiting James with the same curse, James fell to the ground beside his best friend mummified by his own clothing. The masked wizard looked at the pair of them and turned, running into the next hall, the two Aurors struggling against their own clothes.
"Gotta hand it to the bloke, Jamesie... He´s tough."said Sirius as he stopped struggling.
"You can say that again. I can´t remember the last time I was overpowered in a duel."nodded James, stopping his struggle as well.
"Still... I´m not ready to give up yet, Prongs."said Sirius, looking around to check if there was anyone in the hall.
James grinned, knowing full well what his best friend thought.
"Way ahead of you, Padfoot ol´ chum..."
Without another word the two secret animagi transformed, leaving their clothing on the ground.
The masked wizard still ran in the hall filled with statues and bists of famous witches, wizards and even goblins. Just one more hall and he would be able to get out of here. Suddenly he heared something race after him and he jumped from the way just in time as a brownish-black stag nearly rammed him to the ground. As he rolled on the ground he tried to make a jump to the passage of the next hall, but a giant bear-like black dog blocked the way. Stopping, the masked wizard looked infront of him, registering the fearsome growling of the dog and looked behind him to see the stag clapping one of his front legs on the ground, pumping himself for another charge. The standoff endured for a mere few seconds before the masked wizard made a move – the stag and the dog at once responding. With a loud bark, the dog attempted to bite at any part of him. Evading the dog, he fired a spell at the rushing stag. But the stag had been very agile – dodging the spell and aiming his antlers at the wizard, rushing at him full speed. The wizard swiftly transfigured the floor into ice again, making it very difficult for the two animals to attack now. They were however far from giving up. The masked wizard was sliding from one side to another, evading the animals as best he could. Once more he pointed the wand on himself and cast an Impediment Jinx, blasting himself trough the ice into the next hall, where he landed painfully. Swiftly shaking it off, he got to his feet and ran across it, his saving grace being just behind the corner of the statue-filled hall, the stag and dog gaining on him. Both animals now off the ice sped up, trying to catch up to him as he turned around the corner.
The stag and dog came to a halt as they came to the corner. The masked wizard was GONE. Breathing hard the two animals looked at eachother in absolute confusion before they transformed back into their human forms.
"I...Impossible!"breathed James, looking around the deserted corridor.
"Must be a trick! He can´t have dissapearated! The protective spells are still active!"breathed Sirius, trying to catch his breath.
Taking a few sniffs of the air around them, Sirius shook his head but his face still sported the confused look.
"Gone... there´s no one here, Prongs."
James shook his head in disbelief. HOW?! How in Merlin´s jumping soggy old balls did this mysterious wizard manage to get himself from the Ministry?! The corridor was long, there was no way he could run away, or even blast himself away, for there were still two other halls that way before a single fire-place which could transport him away instantly. And he couldn´t dissapearate...
"Portkey?"breathed James out-loud.
As he looked to his best friend for his opinion, there was an unmistakable sound of running steps coming closer and Sirius sniffed the air again and gone red in the face.
"Oh no. Someone is coming."exclaimed James in a panicked voice.
"Prongs, its her..."moaned Sirius in fright.
Both men were painfully at once aware of a little fact – they left all their clothes on the ground as they transformed into their still secret animagus forms – they were now standing there completly NAKED!. James at once jumped behind the nearest statue, while Sirius looked around franticly for something to cover himself with. The only thing he was able to find was a bist of Norbert the Noble. He swiftly placed it infront of his private area just as a woman ran into the hall, her wand raised.
"Where is he?!"asked Amelia Bones, looking from one side of the hall to the other.
"Gone... somehow he dissapearated."murmured Sirius, his face bright red.
Amelia breathed a dissapointed sigh before she took a look at Sirius. At once she was overcome by a fit of giggles.
"My, my... he really cleared you, Sirius."she said before giggling again.
Sirius gave a cheeky grin, though his face was still deep-red.
"Well... even we Aurors have our bad days, I´ll have you know..."he said sheepishly.
Amelia giggled again and even Sirius joined in a bit.
"Though... this was NOT the impression I wanted to give straight after our engagement."
Since both of them were originally single for a long time, they also fell under the Repopulation Act and ended up being engaged – something they didn´t actually mind, since they knew eachother for a very long time and were dear friends.
Amelia gave a cheeky look at him, her eyes also looking downward to the bist that was the only thing keeping him at least slightly decent.
"Still sticking to your old House, are you Sirius?"she asked cheekily, referring to Norbert the Noble – one of the most famous Gryffindors in history.
Sirius gave her a large boyish grin.
"Noble at all times."he said proudly.
Amelia laughed, shaking her head.
"You know... as Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement I could punish you severely for lack of modesty."
Sirius laughed too.
"Come ooooon... have you any idea how many sexy young witches would love to see me like this? And now you´re the only one, who has that priviledged right... you should feel honored."
Both of them laughed.
"Priviledged or honored – NO. Appretiative of the sight – YES."she said with a smirk and also (Sirius noticed happily) a slight mischievous sparkle in her eyes.
She couldn´t lie to herself – though Sirius Black was no longer a teenager, he was an attractive man – something Amelia found highly appealing among other qualities of his. Sirius wiggled his eyebrows as though getting an idea.
"Say... Amelia, darling... fancy finding an empty office?"he said in his cheeziest pick-up voice, drawing another fit of girlish giggles from her – the pair suddenly seemed twenty years younger.
"Oi, Padfoot!"came a voice behind one of the statues.
Amelia dissolved in yet another fit of giggles when James´ red-faced head poked from behind the statue.
"Before you two do any of that, can you find ME a pair of PANTS?!"
Harry awoke to a feeling of pressure being added onto him. Opening his eyes, he saw a girl sitting on the side of his bed, smiling at him.
"Morning, sleepy-head."sing-songed Astoria happily.
Rubbing his eyes sleepily, he reached for his glasses.
"Torie? What are you doing here so early?"grumbled Harry.
Astoria giggled dispite herself.
"Its 9 am, silly. You overslept."
Harry looked around the room. Blaise and Angus weren´t there. They must´ve alredy left for breakfast. Harry also noticed a few pieces of food wrapped in a handkerchief on his bedside table. He smiled gently at the girl.
"Torie... you needn´t have."
Astoria gave him a warm smile.
"I know... I know."she said good-naturedly, ruffling Harry´s hair with affection before standing up.
She moved across the room to another bed and Harry fixed himself to get a better view of the scene as she moved closer to another sleepy-head in the room.
Her eyes sparkled with affection as she used her fingers to brush the blonde hair from the sleeping boy´s forehead. Lowering her face close to his ear, she whispered quietly in her most pleasant voice.
"Draco... Draco...time to get up... Draco..."
Draco still slumbered, but his lips curved into a content smile, cuddling more into his pillow. Astoria moved away from him and took out her wand. Pressing it to her neck, she performed a Sonorus Charm and Harry covered his ears, grinning like a maniac.
At the extremly loud call Draco jumped and rolled off his bed, falling to the ground as Harry roared with laughter. Astoria undid the charm and gave Harry a wink, before turning to the side of the bed where Draco fell, her face sporting a smirk and looking extremly pleased with herself as Draco´s grumpy face surfaced.
"WHY do you DO THAT?!"he exclaimed angerly, while his best friend rolled on his bed in hysterical laughter.
"Because its the only method that wakes the sleepiest snake of Slytherin."
Draco glared her coldly as Harry laughed again.
"I was just having a nice dream."he said pouting.
Astoria raised her eyebrow.
"Oh... dreaming of your fianceé?"she asked in a would-be neutral voice.
Draco looked at her defiantly.
"I wasn´t dreaming of Granger. Actually I was dreaming of..."he swiftly trailed off.
He quickly turned his head away from her, his cheeks growing red.
"Dreaming of whom?"asked Astoria, her voice full of geniune curiosity.
Draco still refused to meet her eyes.
"Never you mind..."he muttered.
Harry looked at them with a smile on his face. Both Draco and Astoria noticed the smile.
"That goes for YOU too, Harry."said Draco, pointing his finger at his best friend.
Astoria moved from Draco´s bed and seated herself on Harry´s.
"What about you, lover-boy? How did your talk with Ginny Weasley go?"she asked curiously.
"And I warn you right now, Mister Potter... I´m expecting details."she said with a mock-stern note in her voice, as she twirled her wand lovingly in her fingers.
Harry couldn´t help the small smile that came to his face as he remembered yesterday.
"You were right, Torie... We talked in the Room of Requirement... she seems to be just as you´ve said. Plus just as Al... I mean, Professor Dumbledore said, she has a firery temper as me and Draco saw before the Great Hall..."
Draco couldn´t help but give a light chuckle.
"You can say THAT again."he said, shaking his head but his voice was aprooving.
Harry ignored it and continued, for Astoria´s curious look lingered.
"... anyway... we dined there... talked a bit more before separating... she has a good sence of humor by the way... and... I am to meet her before the leave for Hogsmeade."
Astoria smiled happily and embraced Harry.
"Awww... big brother finally has a date."she said in a happy voice.
Harry blushed brilliantly.
"Come on, Torie... I am merely giving this engagement a chance... though... she IS very curious... and..."
Both Asotia and Draco watched him with curiosity, eager to hear more as Harry´s face went completly scarlet and he adverted their eyes.
"... I find her... cute..."the last word escaped him in an all but whisper, as though he was afraid to admit to something like that.
"Harry... that´s soooo adorable."exclaimed Astoria, hugging Harry again.
After knowing Harry for so many years and trying to protect him from her possesive sister´s grasp, she wished nothing more than a sweet loving girl for him. She wished that a girl would come, who would manoovre around the walls he built over his heart as the years went by – she being a romantic at heart, though she would only admit to it in the present company.
Draco also smiled happily, simply wanting his best friend to be happy.
"I second that, mate."he nodded giving Harry a thumbs-up.
Harry looked at Astoria and then at Draco, still red-faced.
"Nice to see you two finally agreeing on something."he muttered.
Draco and Astoria shared a look, but their smiles remained on their faces. Harry shook his head and got up from the bed.
"Anyway... I´d best go contact my parents. Otherwise we might have them barge in here..."he said, rolling his eyes good-naturedly.
Draco chuckled, but Astoria bit her lip. She was always envious of Harry and Draco´s relationships with their parents. It was something she didn´t have with her´s. Her parents were always so blinded by pure-blood nobility – insisting that she would act more like Daphne – never once looking at what she wanted, never once accepting the person she was.
The two boys at once knew what was wrong. Draco made his way across the room, sat beside Astoria and gave her a single-armed hug.
"Torie, we like you just the way you are.( Harry nodded and Astoria was sure that Angus and Blaise would do so as well if they were here ) And I know for a fact, that my parents – yes, even Lucius – super pure-blood Malfoy, does."said Draco, all three smirking at the title their group had for his Dad – one that Angus invented upon their first visit to Malfoy Manor.
Astoria couldn´t help but giggle, remembering the ordeal. Given that Angus was his son´s dear friend, Lucius (a bit uncharacteristicly and for his precious son´s well-being) made obvious attempts to refrain himself to register his muggle-born status.
"And you know, that my parents adore you."added Harry smilingly.
Astoria nodded. Even if Neville and Alice had trouble tolerating snakes around the Potter Cottage, on those few occasions she visited Astoria found that words like love and care were the backbones of Lily and James Potter´s existence – both being extremely warm to their son´s dear friends. If Neville and Alice weren´t so... their group would´ve spent portions of the summer around the Cottage together, which Astoria suspected was the main reason why Harry didn´t want to stick around it so much.
"And I know... I know... your grandparents too, Harry."nodded Astoria, already knowing what Harry wanted to add, for their group DID spend a bit of a each summer with the elderly Mr and Mrs Evans and Harry´s cousin Dudley Dursley, each of them being more than friendly.
Harry nodded with a smile.
"See? You´ve got us."he said as though proving a point.
Astoria couldn´t help but give both boys her sunniest smile, as Draco squeezed her tighter.
"Come here."she whispered to Harry and the three embraced.
The two boys knew very well, that Astoria was a gentle soul. But... give her a reason and a wand and there was no trouble in seeing even older, stronger boys run for cover.
"Will you please stop laughing, everyone?"asked a red-faced James as Amelia recounted the night´s events at the kitchen table.
Neighter Lily, nor Alice nor Nymphadora could help it. They were chaught in a fit of giggles. Even the two family house-elfs couldn´t help their chuckles. James, Sirius and Amelia returned to the Potter Cottage one hour after midnight, when everyone was asleep. However somehow, the story of the breach in the Ministry leaked and before the sun was up, the Daily Prophet already had the story on front-page. Luckily they did not know about two certain butt-naked Aurors, but the girls´ curiosity about the breach was evident and Amelia was all for enlighting them on everything.
"One thing bothers me though, Prongs..."said Sirius over the laughter, obviously in deep thought.
There was no hint of humor in his voice and it brought all laughter to an end.
"Why didn´t he kill us? Or Proudfoot... or anyone else for that matter. The way he was dueling, he could´ve if he tried."
The table went silent completly. No one was able to come to an answer. Any Death Eater wouldn´t hesitate for a second to cast a Killing Curse.
"I don´t know, Padfoot... In any case his use of magic was extraordinary... in fact... I´ve only ever seen TWO wizards who were THAT skilled."
No one at the table had a second´s doubt about who those two wizards were – Albus Dumbledore and Lord Voldemort.
"Perhaps there´s a new face in town."offered Nymphadora Lupin quietly.
Alice shook her head, her raven black hair dancing as she did. She resembled Lily as much as her brother resembled James, only with small differences – she inherited James´ eyes (thankfully NOT his eyesight), and his hair-color. She was also dear friends with Nymphadora, who now lived along with them in the Potter Cottage, since her beloved husband often spends too much time at Hogwarts.
"No way, Dora... I mean... come on... there´s no one more skilled than ol´Professor or ol´ snake-face."
"Apparently there IS, Alice."said her godfather somberly.
"You didn´t fight the bloke, kiddo. He took on Kingsley, me and your Dad all at ONCE and still came up well. There are not many wizards who are up to that."said Sirius earnestly.
Alice grinned cheekily.
"Maybe you´re just getting old, Padfoot."
Sirius gave a bark-like laugh.
"That´s not what my dear Amelia said last night, right darling?"he asked, wiggling his eyebrows at his fianceé beside him.
Amelia and Nymphadora gave a girly giggle (Amelia turned scarlet during the giggling), while Lily simply rolled her eyes.
"They actually found an empty office..."said James in a dead-panned voice, looking at his wife, who looked at Amelia with a look of surprise before turning to Sirius, fixing him a motherly stern look.
"SIRIUS BLACK! You are making this good girl go siriusly BAD!"she exclaimed in mock-sternness, gesturing to Amelia.
Sirius pretended to look like a first-year chaught in mischief, giving Lily a "Sorry, Mummy" look, large puppy-eyes going full-blast while Amelia blushed a deep-scarlet. Nymphadora giggled happily, while Alice screwed her face.
"Yuck."she said loudly and her Godfather rounded at her.
"Excuse me, young lady... But I am encouraging you and Mister Weasley in your activities if I recall correctly... The least you could do, is tolerate MY activities."he said, ignoring Alice´s gestures of "For the love of God, please keep quiet!" – something which Sirius returned with a look that said plainly "You asked for it".
Lily and James instantly fixed her daughter with a shocked, frozen look.
"You... you haven´t done anything with Fred Weasley yet, have you...?"breathed James, dreading the answer – afterall... this was his precious little girl he was talking about, no matter how old she was.
Alice blished scarlet, her long jet-black hair covering her blushing face. She stiffened, sencing her Mum´s penetrating gaze (or rather glare) on her.
"You HAVE."it was a statement, not a question.
James instantly fixed his best friend his most furious look. Sirius put up his hands in mock-surrender.
"Leaky Cauldron, mate. I saw them walking downstairs from one of the rooms, holding hands, sunny, radiant, joyous smiles on their faces - two plus two."
Both Potter parents were now looking at their shame-faced daughter furiously.
"And you have the nerve to call your brother a tactless opportunist pig?! At least he doesn´t go shagging around in hotels."growled Lily icily.
Alice lowered her head more.
"Just because there´s no girl who would like to shag him..."she muttered quietly.
"Alice!"warned James with narrowed eyes – both he and Lily didn´t like the animosity between their children and tended to put a stop to it at any given time, dispite their obviously lost battle.
Sirius clapped his hands, drawing all attention to himself.
"Come now, Mum and Dad. Alice is a big girl now, she is of age and she IS engaged to the dashing young Mister Weasley. Needless to say, that she is madly in love with him. I believe you could excuse the slight mis-step... I mean..."
He fixed Lily and James a most suggestive little smile.
"You two know better than anyone how it feels to be madly in love, right?."
Lily and James gulped slightly, turning red in their faces. Sirius was the only other person present at the table who knew full-well of their... well... overly-romantic adventures during their seventh year at Hogwarts – something the two Potters intended to stay that way, especially since one particural adventure had Alice as a result.
"You´re right, Padfoot... we DO know... but still, sweetheart..."started James, putting a hand around his precious daughter´s shoulders, running his hand up and down soothingly.
"We would prefer you and Fred taking things slow for the time being..."finished Lily in a diplomatic voice, casting a small glare in Sirius´ direction – Godfather or not, THIS was bloody blackmail!
Sirius grinned as Alice looked at her parents.
"I know, Mum... I just... can´t help it... I love him so much..."the last bit was said with a sigh, both Potter parents recidnized all too well.
Most of the table – even the reluctant parents shared a happy smile at what they had heared.
"Good morning, everyone."came a familiar voice from the fireplace.
Everyone´s head turned in that direction and Alice at once stood up, her face scarlet as the youngest Potter had entered the kitchen.
"YOU! How long have you been there?!"she growled furiously, dreading the worst.
The worst was confirmed when Harry shot her a smug smile.
"Long enough. And by the way sister dearest, I WAS intrigued to hear on how you are getting along with my future brother-in-law. I am pleased to hear, that it is going so well."
Alice shot him a death-glare, but suddenly sniffed.
"Still better than the poor girl that got engaged to a slimy snake like you!"
"ALICE!"exclaimed both Lily and James, but Harry paid no attention to it, his face neutral.
"You might be interested in learning, that I am engaged to one of your friends..."
"...who incidentally is your fianceé´s younger sister."he finished fearlessly, already expecting the explosion.
"WHAT?! YOU´RE ENGAGED TO GINNY?!"
In a swift motion Alice crossed the kitchen table before her father or Godfather could stop her and grabbed her brother by the collar, dispite the gasps of shock and protest coming from the table.
"NOW YOU LISTEN TO ME! IF YOU HARM THAT GIRL IN ANY POSSIBLE WAY, I WILL PERSONALLY MARCH INTO HOWGARTS AND HANG YOU BY THE BALLS FROM THE ASTRONOMY TOWER, DO YOU UNDERSTAND?!"
James and Lily stood up also, ready to step in but Harry´s raised hand made them stop and look at eachother uneasily – the relationship of their two children started going downward when Harry was sorted into the House of Snakes. They expected it to clear up over time, most prominently when Voldemort was killed and the various Slytherins´ roles explained by Dumbledore after the Battle of Hogwarts (for instance Harry´s role of gathering information about the Junior Death Eaters´ activities), but precicely the opposite has happened. Alice´s hatered of her brother seemed to increace tenfold.
Amelia looked at the scene in shock, while Sirius and Nymphadora shared uneasy looks – both very familiar with the Potter siblings´ relationship. It was one of the things Sirius also tried to cure his Goddaughter of. Afterall... he liked the kid pretty much as well and as for Alice´s "stupid snake" argument... well... he became friends with Snape, didn´t he?
Still being held by the collar, Harry fixed her with a murder-glare of his own.
"First up, Alice – and foremostly... let...me... go!"he said quietly, but his tone had power behind it.
Alice looked into his eyes defiantly – hazel brown meeting emerald green for a few seconds, before she obeyed his command.
"Second... it may seem a mystery to YOU, but I have no intention of harming Ginny in any way possible. I do not love her yet... but I believe that it IS a great possibility, since I haven´t some across anyone as charming as her before."said Harry who in the wake of his anger admitted to something he merely suspected, but didn´t want to tell anyone yet – well... so much for that plan.
Lily, James and Sirius exchanged glances – neighter of them have ever seen Harry show any hint of romantic interest for a girl before. In fact, James had been secretly worried for a small time, that Harry may not "like" girls at all.
"And as for the part of hanging me from the Astronomy Tower... I will choose to forget, that that sentance ever left your mouth. You see, sister... I still hope that one day we may find an understanding and that you won´t try to curse me on sight before we do."
At the last statement, Alice´s hazel eyes had looked downward for the slightest moment. Harry took that oppoturnity to walk calmly past her and adress his parents.
"Well... as I have already said, I am engaged to Ginny Weasley. As Fidus no doubt have told you, Mum... you do not need to worry. Yesterday evening I have spoken to her and we are to meet for the Hogsmeade trip today (Alice gave a small gasp and looked down on the floor again as though unsure what to make of this)."
Lily and James looked at eachother and then looked at their son.
"Can we join you there, sweetheart?"asked Lily quietly.
Harry took a moment to reply. Innitially he wished to postpone his parents´ meeting Ginny. However he also wished to talk to them about this, but that was out of the question now thanks to his sister – her outburst leaving him annoyed and he certainly didn´t wish to discuss anything more with her in the room.
"I have asked Ginny about it (Alice now looked at him astounded)... and she said, that she is prepared to meet you at any time possible. So... if you want to, you will find us around noon at the Three Broomsticks."
The Potter parents smiled lightly.
"We´ll be there, Harry."promised Lily.
"Yeah. We want to meet this... how did you say... charming girl."said James, grinning at his son.
Harry returned his father a wide smile, a faint blush gracing his cheeks. He walked back towards the fire-place, regretting that it was also out of the question to visit and speak to his pet (or rather ONE of his pets), but turned to his sister and gave her a calm look.
"To be clear, Alice... let us pretend that this outburst never happened. I am annoyed but NOT offended. However I really wish – and I can say as much, now that the Battle of Hogwarts is concluded – that you would stop seeing me as a slimy snake and start to realize, that unlike a certain Chosen One, you also have a blood-brother."
The last comment prompted Alice to fix him with a stare, one that was a mix of anger and regret. Harry however returned her look with a most calm one of his own.
"Just a playfull thought."he added, shrugging his shoulders before he threw the floo-powder into the fire, called "Hogwarts" and dissapeared in the green flames and into Professor Snape´s study.