Los Angeles, California
Hotel Suite in the Century Plaza Hotel
A tall, well tanned and blonde man casually walks across the hotel room flipping through a newspaper. He ignores the moving pictures on the front page. He takes a seat in one of the lush chairs next to a small table. Finding the sports section he quickly scans the article on the latest quidditch match.
"Hey, Red," he calls out, "they don't say much about your ten goals in last nights game. You would think that the Los Angeles Lancers won their debut exhibition game last night the way they go on about it here."
He received a grunt and a pillow tossed accurately at his head from the woman with the sheets still pulled over her head as she lay in the bed.
The blonde man tossed the sports section aside and he looked at the next section. "Hey, the celebrity section of the paper here says something about some famous English wizard being treated at Saints Cosmos and Damian's Hospital in New Orléans. Didn't you know that Potter guy?"
The woman in the sheets sat up like someone had jolted her with a cattle prod. "What did you just say?"
"That Harry Potter dude," he said in his laid back Southern California speak, "says here he is in some sort of coma. Or at least it's rumoured that it is him."
"Give me that bloody paper," she screamed at the blonde.
"You need to chill, Red," said the blonde man as he stood up and walked towards the bed to hand the woman the paper.
The woman ignored the surfboards moving around the man's boxers as she grabbed the paper out of his hand and pushed a lock of long red hair out of her face and behind her ear. She looked at a picture taken of two women entering a hospital, one with long blonde hair and the other with light brown hair pulled back into a pony tail. She could have sworn she recognised the two but the picture was taken from too far away. Quickly she scanned the article but the only reference to who ever was in the picture stated that two witches who were with him refused to speak with anyone or identify who they were. The writer went on to speculate that one of them was the heiress to the Greengrass Import business in England, the other woman was not identified.
"That Greengrass bitch," muttered the red-head as she looked at the article and then back at the picture. She jumped out of the bed and the sheet fell to the floor revealing her naked body to the blonde man who enjoyed ogling her. The redhead turned to him and spat her anger towards the unsuspecting young man, "So, Brad," she began to say.
"Um, my name's Greg," corrected the blonde man.
"Whatever, I don't bloody care," she snapped, "why don't you go find some bimbo on the beach and show of your moves and that surfboard of yours, I need to leave."
Greg was shocked as he stared at the naked woman in front of him.
"And stop staring, you already saw enough of me. You had your cheap thrills with the best Quidditch player you'll ever meet, so go on and leave. I don't expect to see you when I get out of the shower," she said as she was walking way from him towards the bathroom. She did not stop to see if she listened to him as she closed the bathroom door behind her.
A week later…
"Now Harry," said Tracey's uncle, "you did need to rest here before the healer will clear you for international travel of any sort. I know you don't want to lie here but you have your friends and you my family, we just want to help you recover. So please, don't be causing any trouble, let us show you some of our New England hospitality and you just relax and enjoy the nice early summer days."
Harry indicated he would with a nod, and then turned to his girlfriend who was sitting by his side. "You're enjoying this way too much," he quipped.
"Oh, shush, you," she said as she gave him a quick kiss on his cheek. "You gave us all a right scare with everything that happened, so you owe us all and you will follow the healers orders for the next week."
Harry rolled his eyes. Then he turned to Hermione who was walking by at the time, "You know, Hermione, she is starting to remind me of how you were anytime I ended up in the infirmary under Madame Pomfrey's care."
Hermione gave a wry smile as she replied, "If you don't behave I'll arrange for her to come make a house call." With that she continued on her way to sit on the porch and start reading another book.
Harry resigned himself to staying put, at least for now. Daphne gave him a mock frown, "How bad can it be?" she asked.
As he looked up into her violet-blue eyes, his frustration with his situation melted. "Well, I guess this definitely does beat being in the infirmary wing at Hogwarts or even being at Saints Cosmos and Damian's Hospital in New Orléans." He sighed slightly and then raised his eyebrows as he thought out loud, "We could at least get started on preparing for the next stage."
Daphne narrowed her eyes, "You prat, you try and die on us going into that storm, facing the thunderbird in the midst of a class 5 tornado, and you already are moving on to the next part of the mission?"
Harry smiled sweetly, "Hey, this is for you as well as it is for me."
"Flattering me like that won't help," she said with an equally fake smile in return. After allowing her smile to relax, she continued, "But we can start working on the plans for that soon, Hermione is sure to have some ideas."
Harry looked around the room, he was still exhausted from his ordeal, and then he turned back to Daphne. "So, where is Draco? Didn't he come back here to the Johnson's home with everyone?"
Daphne squeezed his hand lightly, "He needed to get back to England. He is still in Auror school, unlike some people I know."
Harry could sense her internal frustration, so he asked, "Is that comment in reference to me or Ron?"
"Ron, the stupid bloody git," she said flatly. Then turning to look at Harry she continued, "What is that man's problem? Why would he be stupid enough to pick a fight with four of us, and do it over and over?"
Harry shrugged his shoulders, "Obviously he has issues, both with me and with Hermione. Perhaps even with how is life has turned out. He was jealous of my fame when we were in school, a fame I never wanted nor did anything to earn. Now he is jealous of the fame I did earn and the fact that he wasn't lauded as much as I was. He claimed to be my friend when we were at school, when it was easy to be my friend." Harry paused and looked at Daphne, "I know I attract trouble like I'm some sort of carp magnet, but I really don't go looking for it."
"No, flying into a storm after a thunderbird isn't looking for trouble," she interjected, with the sarcasm dripping off her every word.
Harry winced slightly at her statement. "But that is still the fallout of everything else that I did nothing to earn. I didn't make the prophecy. Riddle chose me as his target and the subject of that prophecy. Ever since then I have had this target on my back, or my forehead. I didn't ask to be the one to have to fight Riddle or to be the one to destroy his Horcruxes. Now, everything that I am doing is based on digging myself out of the various holes that whole mess left me in. My debt to the goblins is due to needing to get Helga Hufflepuff's cup. If there was another way to get that cup, we obviously couldn't figure that out. Can't change any of that now, it's all water under the bridge."
His voice started to turn melancholy.
Daphne lifted his chin with her fingers so he had to look her in the eyes again. "Hey, those of us here really do understand that. Hermione is here because she is your friend. She gave up her job at the ministry in Australia to help you out. I'm here with you because I want to be with you."
Harry tried to force a smile. "I've known for over a year what I needed to do to deal with the goblins. I wasn't sure I really wanted to go through all of that trouble. Now I know I need to see this through. For you. For us. That day we met in the pub, everything has changed for me since then. You've given me a clearer reason to go on than any I've had before."
Daphne narrowed her eyes once more at him. "Fighting for your survival against Riddle wasn't a reason to go on?"
"That's the thing, that was for survival," he said as he took her hands in his. "But this, this is different. This is because I choose to do it to make you happy, to make me happy. This is more about choice. This is about taking control of my life with the hope of truly having a life that is mine, mine to share with those whom I chose to share it with."
Harry's sentimentality brought a slight tear to Daphne's eye and she leaned in and kissed him softly on his lips.
Saints Cosmos and Damian Hospital
The receptionist was frustrated with the young woman in front of her. "For the final time, I am not sure how else to tell you this, I don't care who you think you are but we cannot give you that information. You may be his girlfriend, but that means nothing without a release from any patient that gives us authorisation to release any information to anyone."
The red-headed woman in front of the receptionist was pouting. "Well, can you do me a favour of a different sort?" she asked, thinking she may have outsmarted the receptionist. "I am sure a mutual friend of Harry's and mine is here visiting him. Maybe you could page her, or have someone contact her, and then she could come talk to me."
She noted a pensive look on the receptionist. "Just get a message to Hermione Granger, or my other school friend, Daphne Greengrass," she added, "either one of them would come talk to me."
The receptionist looked down at her list of guests in the hospital building, and then commented "I am sorry but neither one of them have been here for a few days."
With a sweet smile, the red-head just said "Thank You" to the receptionist and turned away as she smirked to herself. "Well, even if I don't know where they are, I know that Harry is not here any more."
Ron Weasley was sitting in the stock room of his brother's store in Hogsmeade. He was reading the latest edition of the Daily Prophet, checking the Quidditch scores and looking to see just how his Chudley Cannons were doing in the standings. He wasn't interested in working very hard on the inventory that his brother had assigned him to review as a punishment for the supposed embarrassment that he had caused by starting that fight in the street with the Slytherins. Ron could hardly even acknowledge to himself that Hermione had been there and that she had been associating with those three.
He was so engrossed in the paper that he had not heard the door to the stock room open and close. He was startled as a newspaper and a magazine were thrown on the table in front of him. He looked briefly at the two periodicals and then up at the intruder on his private time.
"Hey Gin, it's a surprise to see you here today," he said with a startled smile. "I was just taking a quick break before finishing up this inventory thing George asked me to get done for him."
"Stuff it Ron," snapped Ginny. "Just look at what's in front of you."
"You're standing in front of me," he replied dimly.
"Did mom drop you on your head too many times when you were a baby?" she sighed. She pointed to the magazine and the newspaper.
Ron picked up the paper and looked at the article on the cover, something about the immigration of wizards and witches to the United States from south and Central America. He gave her a puzzled look.
"Open it up, look inside," she said with exasperation.
"Hey, the Harpies beat that new team in Los Angeles, the Lancers is it?" Then he turned to his sister, "Brilliant! Great play there. 490 − 20. You ladies really showed them yanks."
"Thanks," she said quickly but then her smile left her face as she swatted him on the side of the head. "Not that section, turn to the next section."
Ron rubbed the side of his head and opened the paper to the next section. "The Boy-Who-Lived in a coma in a magical hospital in New Orléans," he read out loud. "So that's what they were on about."
"Who was on about what?" demanded Ginny.
"Granger came by last week, with Malfoy and the Slytherin scum Greengrass sisters. I was surprised that Hermione would stoop so low so as to be with them."
"What? Where did you see them?" she asked again.
"Out in the street, they were on their way to Hogwarts. The last time I saw Malfoy and those two Greengrass bints, they were with Harry at Diagon Alley. We kind of got into a bit of a row then, and again last week." Ron looked away from Ginny as he mentioned this.
"Why were they heading to Hogwarts?" she asked.
"I don't know," he mused, "they were gone long before I was released."
"They put you in the hospital? St. Mungos?" queried Ginny.
"No, from the holding cell at the DMLE," he said. "Four on one and they put me in the jail. Malfoy must still be paying people off," he muttered.
Ginny rolled her eyes. "What would they want at Hogwarts, Ron? You must know. They must have returned to New Orléans right after that, as they were seen there the end of last week, but then they left."
Ron gave her a questioning look at her last statement.
"Look at the magazine," she said simply pointing at the other publication she had thrown in front of him earlier.
He picked up the issue of "I Heart Teen Witch" and he perused the cover.
"Fifty ways to get that wizard to notice you without using a love potion."
"The Weird Sisters or Wizards Jam, is British or American magical music better?"
"Twenty useful charms to use before your next date."
Ron looked up at Ginny, "Err, this isn't my sort of thing, I thought you knew that. This is trash."
"Keep reading," she snapped at him.
"Mystery patient at Saint Cosmos and Damian, Is the Boy-Who-Lived Dying here in the States?"
"Now look at the picture," she directed.
Ron looked at the photo and he noted that picture of the afore-mentioned hospital had a trio walking into the front door, and he readily recognised that it must be Hermione with Malfoy and the older Greengrass sister.
"Is that where Harry is?" he asked. "Is he really dying? Did he die?"
"Of course he didn't die," she said, completely exasperated with her brother's slowness. "That would have made the papers everywhere. But those bitches and that slime Malfoy were there visiting my Harry and now they're all gone. I want to know what's going on but no one is telling me anything, and I have to get back to my team."
"What do you want me to do about it then?" asked Ron.
"Idiot! I want you to find out what's going on. Start with finding out why they came here, why they had Malfoy with them. Then find out where they went and what happened. Something funny is going on and I'm not laughing."
"All right, Ginny, I'll see what I can do," said Ron, "don't get your knickers all in a twist."
"Thanks Ron," she said as she gave him a quick hug. "I'll square everything with George for you so you can get working on this right away. Start at Hogwarts, head over to the states. Find out what the bloody hell is going on."
With that she turned and walked out of the stock room, leaving Ron a little shocked. Picking up the magazine again, he flipped through some pages as he muttered, "twenty useful charms, eh…"
Harry looked out over the lake from the porch where the group was sitting. Tracey Davis was glad that she had her best friend, Daphne Greengrass visiting again, even if it was because her boyfriend was here to recuperate after a nearly fatal accident on one of his trademark adventures. Tracey looked out over the lake with Harry as she commented, "You know, this is one of the largest lakes in the world without a single island."
Harry raised an eyebrow, "That sounds more like something Hermione would have to say."
Hermione frowned, "Is that all I am to you? A repository of obscure facts?"
"Sometimes, yeah, that would describe it," he said with a laugh.
Hermione slapped his arm with a chuckle, "You git," was all she said.
"So, Tracey, how long have your relatives lived here?" asked Harry.
"My aunt and uncle moved here after he started working as an unspeakable for the Congress of Magic. He met my aunt when she was traveling after she graduated from Hogwarts. I had hardly ever seen them before the end of the war, when I had no where else to go," her voice trailed off as she remembered what happened to her parents during her seventh year. Her father was muggle born so her family was targeted by the Death Eaters.
Daphne reached out and squeezed her friend's arm. "You know you could have always stayed with us," she said gently.
"You know that would have been too much on your family, with the condition your family's business was in," she replied leaning towards her best friend.
"You could come back with us," smiled Daphne. "Things are different, things are changing."
"I know," said Tracey soberly, "but I now have this opportunity through the Salem Institute to study healing, and I've always been interested in that. Maybe, after I finish my training."
Harry could see that his girlfriend still missed her best friend, and he felt for her. Deciding he needed to change the subject, he called out to Hermione. "So, my favourite repository, have you helped us figure out how to deal with a chimera?"
"Not yet, but I am working on it," answered Hermione without looking up from the book she had buried herself in, "but I better come up with something, cause Merlin knows we can't leave the planning up to you anymore. If the next accident you suffer from going off on one of your own poorly thought out ordeals doesn't kill you, Daphne and I might be there to finish the job. So you better stay safe and be smart, because we're not putting up with that kind of stress again."
Harry grinned at her threat, but he knew he better be careful or he would surely be chastised quite thoroughly if he had any sort of serious mishap in the future. The girls thought he was reckless, he felt he was determined and bold, but in the end he knew he was lucky if not just well prepared.
The next day the four young friends were again sitting on the porch, enjoying the warm June sunshine. Hermione closed the book she had in front of her. "So, we need a plan," she said simply.
Tracey eyed her carefully. "You mean a plan for the rest of the day, for the rest of the summer, or for life in general?"
Hermione winced at Tracey's comments. "We need a plan for dealing with the chimera."
"Count me out," said Tracey. "I have school in the fall again and I'm not getting involved in any of your crazy adventures."
Daphne sighed. Then looking at Hermione she asked, "So what do we know about this chimera? It's got three heads or something."
Hermione took out her notepad where she had been busily writing down all of the information she could find. "Well, we know that chimeras can be found in or around Greece, if they even still exist at all. My hunch is that we would have to go to a Greek Island to find one, probably one of the smaller ones. Well, they are quite large and they have voracious appetites and they are usually ill-tempered."
"Hermione, please get to the point," interrupted a frustrated Daphne. Harry just smirked at the interplay.
With a slight huff, Hermione continued. "Well, they do have three heads. There is the lion's head at the front, the goats head either to the side or behind it. And then there is the tail, which has the head of a poisonous asp. It is that venom that Harry says he needs for the next part."
Harry looked up from the notebook on his lap. "Well, to be clear, the chimera has to be alive when we collect the venom."
"What?" exclaimed Daphne.
"It's all right here in the notes I took," he answered simply showing the ladies his notebook. "You would have been proud of me Hermione, taking all of these notes on my own and doing all of that research without you there to guide me."
"You could only do that because of all of the help I gave you back in school," she said smugly.
Harry simply nodded his agreement with her statement. "So, anyone have any great ideas on how we can catch a chimera, get it to give us some venom, keep it alive the while time and have none of us get killed or injured?" he asked as he looked around the group.
Holding her hands up in front of her, Tracey quickly stated, "Don't look at me, guys, you all are the crazy ones who go off on your little death defying adventures."
Daphne stuck her tongue out at her friend. Then she turned to Harry, "Well we could ask Hagrid to come along, and have him wrestle the beast to the ground, and then you use that talking to snake thing and ask it to give us some venom."
"What a great idea!" exclaimed Harry. "Only thing is, I think I might have lost the ability to use Parseltongue when the horcrux in my scar was destroyed." Letting go of the sarcasm he then looked at Daphne, "But thanks for the idea."
Daphne glared at her boyfriend only momentarily before giving him a smile. Tracey through a small pillow from the chair she was sitting on at her friend. "You two cut that out, we don't need you to ruin your appetite with how sweet you can be."
Hermione looked at the three friends, and then she quietly stated, "Well, part of that might work."
They all spun around and stared at Hermione. "Which part?" demanded Harry.
"Getting Hagrid to wrestle the beast. He is part giant. He likes to hang out with acromantula, so he is not afraid of a little poison, and his idea of a big scary and dangerous animal is not the same as ours. After all," she continued, "he did want to raise a dragon as a pet."
"Don't worry, we'll be getting back to dragons soon enough," added Harry dryly.
"Well, I suppose we could ask him," said Daphne meekly, "couldn't we? He always seemed to like you guys."
"It couldn't hurt," chimed in Tracey.
"So says the one who already opted out," retorted Daphne.
"Well, we could go ask him, or send him an owl," suggested Hermione.
"No owls, no communication with others," harry stated firmly. "We can talk to him. But if Hagrid isn't there at the school, or he can't or won't join us, then we need another plan."
"We could try stunning the creature," said Daphne.
"They are remarkably resistant to magic," replied Hermione. "And we don't want to risk killing the snake head."
"I'd rather see a stunned chimera with a dying snake head tail then be in a death match with one," commented Daphne.
"Multiple body bind spells," said Harry as he was thinking out loud.
"Does Merlin have any stronger stunning spells or such that we can learn?" asked Hermione.
"Well, we could take a look," answered Harry as he thought about her question. Then turning to face her he added, "You'd love the chance to get in there and do your own research, wouldn't you?" he asked rhetorically
Hermione beamed at him. "Of course I would and you know that. Do you think I really could go into the hall of Secrets?"
"We'll see," he answered simply.
"So why do I have to go to the states?" asked Ron again.
"I've already explained this to you multiple times, Ronald," answered Ginny as they sat at a table eating lunch at a muggle sidewalk café not far from Diagon Alley. "I've already been there, and they might recognise you as part of the famed Golden Trio. You might actually be able to dig up some answers about what they are up to, or where they went. I'm sure they haven't returned to England, well, other than Draco and it is already confirmed he is still in Auror training."
"Don't remind me," spat Ron.
"So remember," continued Ginny as she ignored Ron's comment, "you need to find out why they were in the states, why the bints came back to England and returned to New Orléans with Malfoy."
"I already have a pretty good idea of why they came back to the Hogwarts," grumbled Ron.
"Whatever," commented Ginny not really listening to her brother. "Look, I really need to go, I have practice shortly so I need to floo back over to the training pitch. Have fun, send me an owl as soon as you find something out."
With that she stood up and walked away. Ron looked down and growled silently as he saw she left the bill for him to pay.
Over the next couple of weeks Harry was allowed to increase his activities as he gained his strength. From jogging around the area, to swimming in the lake, the group worked with Harry to help him increase his stamina and strength. When the mediwitch from the Congress of Magic, a family friend of the Johnsons, finally released Harry to return to what ever activities he was inclined to do, as well as allowing him to travel once again, the friends were eager to begin their quest for the chimera. Harry, Daphne and Hermione all thanked Tracey and her aunt and uncle for their hospitality as they headed to Boston to travel back to England.