Title: The Well of Shadows
Author name: Ruskbyte

Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.

Chapter Thirty
~ Tomorrow's Interlude ~

The Ashes. Nobody in the quaint village of Badger's Drift knew the reason why the house was named so. Many years ago it had been called something else altogether, under the auspices of its previous owners, but that had changed when one particular black-haired young man and one feisty red-haired young woman had moved in.

It had been the talk of the village for months; somebody finally taking possession of the old house, which had stood abandoned for so many years at the end of the hollow. Some of the older folk considered the house cursed, but they seldom spoke of their reasons for thinking such. The house and surrounding area quickly earned a reputation of being a place where peculiar things happened at the oddest times - though that was par for the course in most Midsomer villages.

Despite their home's idiosyncrasies, the young couple that lived there were well liked by the people of Badger's Drift, and even in some of the neighbouring villages. While not grossly rich, they seemed quite well off and were not afraid to pay handsomely for quality work. They were not in the habit of throwing lavish parties, but everyone was welcome to drop by for some tea and biscuits if they were around. And if something odd might happen, well, nobody was perfect.

What nobody in Badger's Drift realized, however, was that all the little incidents they thought a bit unusual were actually quite normal. In fact, they were such natural occurrences that neither the young couple nor their closest friends and family considered them the least bit odd. The reason for this disparity was a simple one, really.

The Ashes was home to a wizard and a witch.

A very, very, famous wizard and witch.


At the moment it had been a quiet and unremarkable day in Badger's Drift. On the outskirts of the village, a fifteen minute walk from the main road, the Ashes sat serenely under a late afternoon, summer sky. The sun was intermittently peeking out from behind the drifting clouds, casting its light over the surrounding countryside. Filtered by the branches and leaves of the oak and holly trees in the garden, the sunlight streamed through a kitchen window and gave Ginny's hair a fiery glow.

She was in the process of making herself a cup of coffee, her second since arriving home an hour ago. The rich aroma of a special Turkish blend Harry had bought for her last birthday wafted up from the mug and filled the room. Cradling the steaming mug in her hands, it felt nice and warm against her skin, she lifted it up and took a sip. Nice and hot.

A familiar tingle ran down her spine, one that had nothing to do with the coffee. Someone had just Apparated straight through the Anti-Apparation wards that encompassed the house and garden. Not to mention bypassing the dozens of assorted perimeter and security charms which kept the Ashes free of any unwelcome guests. Since Harry was the only person, other than herself, able to accomplish such a feat, Ginny did not get up, but instead waited for him to join her in the kitchen.

"Hullo, love," Harry greeted as he came through the door, having finished depositing his trench robe in the Ashes' entrance hall where he had Apparated.

"Good afternoon, Harry," she replied happily, tilting her head back to receive a kiss as he passed behind her before sitting in the chair next to her. "I put some tea on for you," she said, indicating the teapot on the tabletop.

~You read my mind, Gin~ he told her through their bond, smiling as he removed the slender frames of his glasses and slipped them into his shirt pocket. He waved his hand at the teapot and had it pour him a cuppa, which then drifted lazily through the air to him.

Ginny grinned at him, Always.

The pair sat in comfortable silence for several minutes, content simply with each other's presence. Ginny watched fondly as Harry blew gently on his tea, which had just a hint of mint mixed in, before he sipped from the cup. Nobody knew where Harry had acquired his taste for mint tea, for whenever someone asked he simply remained silent and continued sipping his tea with a mysterious smile that the Mona Lisa would be envious of.

"Did you confirm our use of the Great Hall for tonight?" Harry asked out loud after a while.

"Yes," Ginny nodded, placing her half-finished coffee down on the table. She settled back in her chair and continued, "The summer holidays began a week ago, so there aren't any students at the castle right now. She doesn't have any problem with us using the hall, although she did say that she would prefer if we leave it in the condition we find it."

"I don't think that will be a problem," he declared, sipping on his tea and looking at her with a twinkle in his eyes that Dumbledore would have been proud of.

*Yes, your problems are usually far messier.*

*At least the big ones are,* agreed Heracles, voice laced with bemusement. *He still causes wonderful amounts of mayhem and chaos without even trying.*

*D'you remember that time--*

Ahem, interrupted Ginny, taking a swallow of her coffee. Would you please cut that out?

"So, how many cups is that?" asked Harry teasingly. "I know you're fortifying yourself before we leave."

"It's only my second cup," she replied defensively, before admitting, "since getting home."

Harry raised his eyebrows and said, "That's quite a cutback. I was expecting it to be your sixth or seventh, at least."

Ginny scowled playfully. "Harry."

"Come on, love," he said, finishing his tea in several deep gulps. He checked his wristwatch, the one she had given him for Christmas many years before and observed, "We'll have to go now if we want to get to Hogwarts early."

Finishing her coffee as well, she put her mug down next his empty teacup when she stood. As they briskly walked from the kitchen out into the Ashes' entrance hall the cup and mug rose into the air and floated to the sink, where the tap turned itself on, and proceeded to give themselves a good cleaning.

In the entrance hall Ginny was searching for her house keys when she said, "Y'know, we've been preparing to go on this trip for what seems like forever. Now that it's finally here - I'm not ready for it."

"Tell me about it," agreed Harry, looking through the cupboard they used to store their cloaks and outdoor robes in. He looked over his shoulder at her and grinned, "Still, if I remember correctly, it's going to be fun."

*Fun? Are you daft?*

*Centaurs, merpeople, vampires, goblin mercenaries--* recited Alexander, before being interrupted by Loki.

*And don't forget that bloody arsehole Malfoy...*

Harry chuckled and retorted easily, ~I think it'll be a bit less stressful when observed from another perspective.~

Osiris sounded very reluctant to agree. *Could be, but we doubt it.*

"Aren't you going to put on your trench robe?" asked Ginny. Harry paused in his perusal of the cupboard and looked pointedly at her. She returned the look with one of puzzlement for several seconds before blinking in realization and admitting, "Ah, yes. I'd forgotten."

"I think this will do," he decided, pulling on an ordinary midnight blue travelling robe, with two fine lines of red trim.

Slipping into her own travel robe, she asked, "Do we have enough money?"

"I stopped at Gringotts on my way home," Harry assured her, pointing at a money bag sitting on the small table by the front door. "Fifty Galleons should be enough for our wardrobe and necessities while we're there."

"Shall we be off then?" she asked, picking up the bag and tossing it to him.

He caught the bag and safely deposited in his robe's inside pocket. He grinned and politely waved her on, "After you,"

With a soft pop, like a large soap bubble bursting, Harry and Ginny disappeared.


With a soft pop, like a large soap bubble bursting, Harry and Ginny appeared in front of the massive wrought-iron gates that guarded the route leading onto Hogwarts' grounds. With the power of the Order backing them they could have easily Apparated straight through the castle wards, as they had done many times before, but on this occasion they preferred to arrive in a more sedate fashion.

As the world seemed to blossom into existence around him, Harry saw that he and Ginny were not the only ones who had arrived earlier for the meeting. Standing on the other side of the gates, having only just passed through them a few moments earlier, stood a familiar figure.

"Blaise!" he said merrily, striding forward to engulf the short-haired blonde witch in a friendly hug. When they parted his friend looked at him with her crystal blue eyes narrowed in suspicion.

"Somehow I get the impression that I'm about to be talked into doing something utterly insane, yet again," she drawled sarcastically, but with a smile.

Harry grinned and nodded in agreement. "The usual."

Blaise mock-groaned and rolled her eyes. "Oh, joy."

After exchanging the usual pleasantries they started walking up to the castle. The sun was dipping low over the horizon, the sky awash with pinks, reds, oranges and yellows. Long shadows stretched out from the great oak trees of the Whispering Woods, the successor to what had once been the Forbidden Forest - which had been ravaged beyond recovery by the Well of Shadows and subsequent battle against Voldemort.

As the three trudged up the well-worn path, Blaise enquired, "So, what lunacy d'you have planned for us this time?"

"Uh uh, Blaise," Harry playfully rebuked, wagging a finger at her. "Not until the others have arrived."

*Not that she, or any of the others, will believe you when you do tell them.*

*If you're not careful they might lock you in a padded cell at St. Jerome's.*

Blaise sighed, but was apparently content to wait, though still asked, "Who's coming?"

"Practically everyone," answered Ginny with a grin.

"Well, I know George and Fred are coming. And you'd never do anything without Ron and Hermione," mused Blaise, considering. She mulled over the subject. "Who else?"

Ginny began ticking off on her fingers. "Mum and Dad will be here too."

"Sirius and Remus," added Harry. "Dumbledore and Professor McGonagall."


Blaise shook her head. "George wasn't sure she could make it."

Harry only shrugged. "We'll have to wait and see."

"Otherwise, that's everyone," concluded Ginny, dropping her hands and wrapping one arm around Harry's waist as they walked.

They were about halfway up the path when a loud crack sounded in front of them, followed by an ecstatic cry of, "Harry Potter sir!!"

Harry heard Ginny suppress a groan and release her hold on him when they drew to a stop. As he took several steps forward, waiting for Dobby to run up and engulf his knees in the inevitable hug, she muttered under her breath, "Here we go again."

"Harry Potter broughts his Misses Gingy too!"

*It's scary the way he always greets these two.*

*I know,* agreed Romulus. *Not even the most servile house-elves are as eager as this one.*

Gently prying Dobby off his legs, Harry could hear Blaise behind him quietly ask, "Doesn't he ever quit?"

His lips twitched at Ginny's reply. "Are you kidding?"

"Dobby is so pleased that Harry Potter has come to visit Hogwarts," bubbled Dobby, bouncing up and down like a five year-old on Christmas morning.

"It's good to see you again, Dobby. How are you these days?"

"Dobby is working happy at Hogwarts, Harry Potter sir," Dobby told him, grinning rapturously at the fact that his idol was taking an interest in his well-being.

"That's good to hear," Harry allowed, smiling at the house-elf's enthusiasm. He looked past Dobby towards the castle and said, "We're having a meeting this evening in the Great Hall, that's why we're here. D'you know if anyone else has arrived before us?"

Dobby nodded so eagerly his head was in danger of shooting off. "Just Master Dumbledore, Harry Potter sir."

Harry smiled. "Ah. Thanks, Dobby."

"It is always Dobby's honour to help Harry Potter, Harry Potter sir," Dobby told him seriously, before vanishing with an echoing crack.

"Oh, be quiet you two," said Harry as Blaise and Ginny stepped up from behind him and they resumed their walk up to the castle.

"We didn't say a thing!" protested Ginny, trying to look a picture of innocence.

Harry looked at her sceptically. "Right."

"Y'know, Harry," suggested Blaise with a mischievous grin, "maybe you should just have Dobby come work and at the Ashes for you."

~Oh, he'd love that~ agreed Ginny.

"I'm not sure I could survive the experience," replied Harry. He looked at the two witches and reminded them, "You remember all the trouble I had in our second year."

Blaise's grin grew broader. "Yeah, Malfoy spent months trying to find out who hexed that Bludger to chase you. He would've had a seizure if he ever found out."

Ginny chuckled and added, ~Plus there's the fact Hermione would go nuts.~

*If she thought you were using Dobby without paying him, and you know he wouldn't accept payment from you, Harry,* agreed Merlin, *she might actually try to hex the two of you.*

Not only that, but can you think of a way to explain a house-elf bringing out a tray of tea and crumpets when the neighbours come to visit? asked Harry, picturing such a scene and the utter chaos that would doubtless ensue.

*It might be worth it, just to see the looks on their faces.*

*Poor Muggles.*

By now they could see the front doors leading into the Entrance Hall and make out two figures standing in wait. The one was most likely Professor McGonagall, while there could be no doubt as to the other's identity. After all, who else but Dumbledore had such a silvery beard, not to mention the bright turquoise robes?

"Ah, Harry, Virginia, Blaise," Dumbledore greeted them when they had finally reached the front steps and begun climbing them to the entrance. "It is good to see you here, this fine night."

"Likewise, sir," Blaise returned.

"Please, dear girl--" Dumbledore waved a dismissive hand "-- call me Albus."

Blaise looked at the old wizard uncertainly, as most younger witches and wizards did when he asked that they address him by name. "Uh... yes, sir."

Harry grinned at Blaise, remembering his own apprehension and discomfort when Dumbledore had done the same to him, shortly before the start of his fifth year at Hogwarts. Fortunately, unlike most others, Harry had got over it within a matter of days. Turning his attention away from his friend and to the man who was his first mentor, he looked Dumbledore up and down before asking, "Foregoing the wheelchair today, Albus?"

"I find the cane lends one an air of dignity, don't you?" answered Dumbledore, indicating the elaborate gold and cherry wood staff that he was supporting himself with.

"You very seldom seem anything but dignified," Harry countered.

"True, but a little bit extra never hurts."

Ginny looked wryly at Dumbledore and said, "Aside from cheesecake and fire whiskey, yes."

"Harry, Ginny," said McGonagall, stepping forward. Her face was set in the usual stern look that terrified the first-years, but with just the hint of an affection smile. Once sure she had their attention she arched an eyebrow and stated, "I trust that whatever you have planned isn't going to cause too much damage to the Great Hall."

"Why do they always assume we're going to blow something up?" Harry asked Ginny, sounding a bit affronted by the implication.

*Er... because you always do?*

Before Harry could argue with Heracles, Dumbledore coughed politely and said pretty much the same thing, much to Harry's dismay. "Probably because you've done just that on more than one occasion, Harry."

"I always put everything back together exactly the way it was!" Harry protested. "Even that time I blew up the entire castle!"

"Not exactly the way it was, Harry," observed Blaise, waving a hand to encompass the entire castle.

"Hogwarts is a thousand years old," he defended himself. "It needed renovating."

McGonagall wryly suggested, "Perhaps, though in future maybe a less drastic approach might be called for."

"You don't have to worry about that, Minerva," Ginny assured her. She looked to Harry, whose jaw was beginning to fix itself in a firm line. Reaching out again, she slipped her arm around his waist and pulled him close to her. "We're never going through a situation like that again."

"Come on," said Harry, in a slightly clipped voice, as he and Ginny stepped through the great doors and into the Entrance Hall, "the others will be here soon."


Half an hour later almost everyone had arrived, save Ron and Angelina. As Fred and George had explained, Moira was unavailable until the next week, due to the fact that she was currently touring through Italy. Ron, on the other hand, was simply late as usual, something Harry and Ginny had already taken into account when arranging the time of the meeting.

Arthur and Molly Weasley were chatting with Sirius Black and Remus Lupin, who had arrived not long after Harry, Ginny and Blaise. The four were discussing a recently submitted bill that, if the Ministry passed it, would allow werewolves and other so-called dark creatures to become Aurors. While it was a number of years too late for Remus, it was a great step forward against one of the Wizarding World's oldest prejudices.

On the other side of the staff room, where they had congregated while waiting for everyone to arrive, Fred and George had engaged Blaise in a lively and animated explanation of their latest invention. With the white Muggle lab coats they wore during their experiments, combined with what appeared to be a Static Charm on their hair gone wrong, the twins were the very picture of two stereotypical mad scientists. In contrast, Blaise, who was listening with tolerant bemusement to their wild tale, could have passed for a dapper executive in the upper echelons of a high profile company. Truth be told, both impressions were rather accurate portraits of the twins and blonde witch.

"I believe it is the agreed upon time," announced Dumbledore, who was sitting in his customary chair with McGonagall and Hermione on either side. Hermione, who had arrived with Arthur and Molly, was holding her tea in her right hand and was absently twirling her wand in her left.

Ginny, who had been quietly talking to Harry, looked around. "Ron's late."

Harry smiled wryly. "Must have got lost in London again."

"Hopeless," declared Blaise, with a roll of her eyes.

*Ah, I believe this is him now,* remarked Sun Tzu, as a familiar aura intruded into Ginny's range of perception.

*That man is going to be late for his own funeral.*

*I wish I had been.*

*Come to think of it, so do I.*

At this point Ron burst into the staff room, almost hanging from the doorframe as he tried to catch his breath, and gasped out, "It's not my fault!"

"Really? And how's that, dear?" asked Hermione, raising her teacup to hide a smile.

"This map's complete gibberish! I can't make heads or tails of it!" Ron explained, holding up a crumpled sheet of paper and waving it about.

George joined his flustered younger brother by the door and looked mournfully at him. "Ron, maps of the London Underground are colour coded so that you always know where you are. It's impossible to get lost in it - Fred and I can't even manage to get lost in it."

Ron held the map under George's nose. "Look at this map and tell me that again."

"I really don't see the problem," said Fred, looking over George's shoulder.

"It's a Muggle photocopy," explained Ron impatiently. "It's in black and white!"

"We'll get you some crayons."

Ron's face was fast approaching the same shade of red as his hair, which Ginny knew meant that an explosion was imminent, when Arthur Weasley stepped forward. Putting a hand of each of the twin's shoulders he pulled them away from Ron and calmly told them, "Don't tease your brother, boys."

"Come on, Dad," pleaded George, making a show of clasping his hands together and dropping to his knees in mock supplication. "We hardly get to see our ickle Ronniekins these days. We have to take full advantage of any occasion that presents itself."

Molly stomped up to the kneeling wizard and used one of his ears to pull him to his feet before starting to berate him, "Fred Weasley--"

Fred, who taken several cautious steps back, interrupted, "Oi, he's not Fred! I am!"

"Don't try my patience as well, George!" snapped Molly, letting go of George so that she could round on Fred and impale him with her infamous glare.

"Actually, Molly, he is Fred," Blaise pointed out as George staggered over to stand next to her, rubbing his ear ruefully.

"Oh," Molly blinked, halted just before she could work herself up properly. After a quick apology to Fred, she turned her attention back to the first twin. "George Weasley--"

George draped an arm around Blaise's shoulders, ignoring his mother, and remarked dryly, "Thank you so much, dear."

Blaise kissed him on the cheek. "My pleasure, luv."

"Come on you lot, enough goofing off," said Harry, rising from his seat. He extended a hand to help Ginny up as he told them, "We're here on serious business."

*As if you wouldn't goof off if given the chance,* teased Loki.

Not right now, we wouldn't, Ginny told him sternly. Taking Harry's hand she stood up and started walking to the door. "Let's go. We'll be needing the Great Hall for this."

"Are you going to tell us what this is all about, Harry?" asked Sirius, coming up behind Harry and Ginny, as the group filed out of the staff room and began walking towards the Great Hall.

Harry's godfather had recently grown a goatee, primarily because he was too lazy to shave properly everyday. This, together with the short ponytail he wore his shoulder length hair in, gave Sirius the appearance of a man several years younger than he really was. The roguish grin that seemed permanently etched across his face only enhanced the effect.

Harry smiled fondly and told him, "Patience, Sirius, patience."

"You're expecting Padfoot here to be patient?" asked Remus, walking alongside Sirius. His short, steel-grey hair gleamed in the torchlight when he shook his head, "Really, Harry, you should know better than that after all these years."

"Hope springs eternal, Remus," Ginny told him.

"So what's going on?" asked Sirius again.

"We'll explain when we get there."

Blaise, who was walking together with George, noted, "You know, Harry, before I got to know you better; I would've considered meeting like this very odd."

Harry laughed. "That's what I've always liked about you, Professor, you're so undeniably level-headed."

"D'you have to keep calling me that?" asked Blaise with obvious exasperation.

"But it's your title, Professor," teased Ginny, joining in on what was an old joke.

"One year! One year!" exclaimed Blaise as they entered the school's Trophy Room. "I was the Defence Against the Dark Arts professor for only one year!"

George was grinning as he hugged her to him. "Yes, love, but you were also the first of our generation to do so."

"Besides," Ron added, "everyone is Defence Against the Dark Arts professor for only one year."

"Except for Harry and Ginny here," Remus pointed out. "They've never applied for the position."

Harry smirked knowingly. "I wouldn't be too sure of that, Moony."

"What do you mean, Harry?" asked McGonagall, who had been listening to their banter.

"You'll find out in a minute or two," answered Ginny, smirking wryly herself.

By now they had passed through the Trophy Room and were walking down the next to last corridor leading to the Great Hall. They progressed quietly for the most part, until Sirius broke the silence.

"Are we there yet?"


Having finally arrived at the Great Hall, and somehow managing not to hex Sirius along the was, Harry stood alongside Ginny as everyone waited patiently (and in one or two cases impatiently) for them to explain.

"Well? Are you going to tell us what we're here for?"

"In a minute, Sirius," Harry told him, before turning to Dumbledore, "but before that we'll be needing the letter I asked you to write yesterday, Albus."

"Of course," Dumbledore agreed with a nod. He reached into his turquoise robes and drew out a sealed letter which he handed to Harry. "I am curious though, Harry, why you would need a letter of recommendation for both you and Virginia. Your exploits over the years, the both of you, are almost legendary. Nobody in the wizarding world would hesitate to employ either of you."

Ginny chuckled wryly. "They will where we're going."

"Going? Where're you going? You're leaving now? Is this why you called us?"

"Yes, Sirius, we're leaving now," confirmed Harry patiently, "but it's not a question of where we're going."

"What d'you mean, Harry?" asked Hermione.

"Harry and I have some unfinished business to take care of," Ginny explained. "We've known about it for quite a while, but we've only recently reached the point where we can set about tying up the various loose ends we left dangling."

"What are you talking about, dear?" Molly asked, visibly concerned. Even after so many years she was still wary of her children taking on a task they might not be able to cope with. "Are you and Harry in trouble of some sort?"

Osiris snorted in amusement and asked, *When are you two not in trouble?*


~Your opinions are appreciated~ Ginny all but growled, ~but could you let us get on with it in peace?

"We're not in trouble now, Molly," Harry told her. He smiled at the thought. "That's what we have to go and take care of."

"You're starting to sound like Dumbledore, Potter," commented Blaise. It took her nearly a second before she remembered that Dumbledore just so happened to be standing next to her. Blushing red enough to match any Weasley she stammered and apology, "Oh crap. Sorry, sir, I--"

"No need, Blaise," he assured her. "I agree with you - our young couple are being rather obtuse."

Harry looked at Ginny and arched an eyebrow. Was that a compliment or an insult?

~A bit of both I'd say~

Then I think we should take it as a compliment.

Ginny passed it off by explaining, "It's a talent we've been practicing."

Harry nodded. "Like Snape practices being a stuck up bastard."

"He practices?" asked a suddenly goggle eyed Fred.

"In front of a mirror?" asked George almost immediately after, a demented grin spreading over his face at the thought.

*It was quite a surprise when he let that slip.*

*Could've knocked us over with a quill.*

"Honestly, you two," huffed Hermione. "Could we please stick to the topic at hand?"

Harry chuckled. "Ever the voice of reason, Hermione."

Hermione nodded. "Somebody has to be."

"In that case; allow us to present our latest accomplishment," announced Ginny with a flourish, successfully catching everyone's attention. "The product of countless hours of in depth research and hard work over the years."

Harry reached into his robes and, with an equal flourish, withdrew and displayed the object of his and Ginny's labour. He held it out for all to see as he began a running commentary.

"An elegant, stylish, not to mention durable finish. Ergonomically designed controls and display. Twelve and twenty-four hour functionality. Programmable calendar. Built in AM/FM radio, with automatic station tuning," he said, pointing out each feature as he went. "And --I'm really proud of this-- a snooze button!"

"Um... Harry?" asked Hermione sceptically. "Muggles have had electric alarm clocks for quite a while already..."

He looked at her and arched an eyebrow in the most sardonic expression he could muster. "I'm pretty sure they don't have any that can be programmed to transport the users back to a preset date and time."

*Wait for it. Wait for it.*

*They're going to blow their tops just like Vesuvius.*

"What?!" barked Sirius, staring at Harry and Ginny in disbelief.

"You're saying this is some kind of time-turner?" asked Remus.

"Hardly anything that simplistic," replied Ginny, taking the compact alarm from Harry and pressing on the various buttons that adorned it. Her voice was filled with no small amount of satisfaction and pride as she said, "This is a work of art in the field of temporal magic. It compares to time-turners as the space shuttle does to paper aeroplanes."

"You're joking!" exclaimed Ron incredulously. "What the bloody hell did you make something like this for?"

"We made it, because we had to," Harry answered, "because we had already made it."

*Careful,* cautioned Osiris, *or you'll give them, and us, a headache.*

And why, might I ask, he replied, shouldn't they be as confused as we were?

McGonagall stepped forward, shaking her head in what must have been an attempt to comprehend what was being discussed. "What the devil are you going on about, Potter? Why do you need to use the Great Hall for this?"

Ginny looked up from the alarm, which she was still programming, and said, "You'll understand in a few minutes, hopefully."

"Then we can get to the tedious task of explaining all the unanswered questions that have accumulated over the years," added Harry, keeping careful watch on both Ginny and the others present in the hall.

"Ah. I believe I understand," Dumbledore declared with a look of comprehension.

"Albus?" McGonagall looked at the former headmaster.

Hermione, who was looking pale all of a sudden, stumbled forward. "You - you're planning on going back in time, aren't you?"

"Five points to Gryffindor, Hermione," said Blaise sarcastically. "I thought it was obvious. After all, why build a... whatever you want to call it, if you don't intend to use it?"

"Five points to Gryffindor?" repeated Harry with a grin. "Those old teaching habits die slowly, don't they, Professor?"

Now Sirius stepped forward. "This is insane! Harry--"

*It probably is. Was. Will be. Whatever.*

Molly Weasley joined him, but focused her daughter instead of Harry. "Don't you even think about contemplating this, Virginia--"

*A couple of decades too late for that.*

Ignoring Blaise's comment, Hermione continued, "Harry! Ginny! Listen to reason, you can't--"

"We always listen to reason," Ginny told them all, cutting off their protests. She grinned impishly. "It's mostly a question of who's yelling the loudest at the time."


"Relax, Dad," she told her father, who was approaching the situation with far more calm than his wife. Only looking up from the alarm clock for an instant she met his gaze and said, "We're going from Hogwarts straight to Hogwarts and back. What could possibly go wrong that didn't already go wrong?"

"Would you like a list?" asked Blaise.

*I don't think there's enough parchment in the castle for one that long.*

*Now or then.*

"That's another one of your good points, Blaise," Harry told her. "You're such an optimist."

"The date and time are set," Ginny declared as the alarm began to beep. Holding it in one hand she slid her free arm around Harry's waist.

Harry waved goodbye to their friends and family, saying cheekily, "If we're not back in ten minutes, please feel free to panic."

Ginny grinned. "Be seeing you."

With a thunderous crack Harry and Ginny vanished in a flash of light that left spots in the eyes of those remaining.


The group of astonished witches and wizards stood silently in their places, staring at the now vacant spot where Harry and Ginny had been standing only a moment before.

"So, Blaise," Ron spoke up after nearly a minute had passed in silence, "how're my niece and nephews doing?"

"Terrible," Blaise deadpanned. She shot a look at George, who was still gaping at where Harry and Ginny had disappeared. Rolling her eyes she nodded at him and explained to Ron, "They all take after their father, unfortunately."

This shook George out of his stupor and he looked fondly at her. "Really? Some might say they're smaller versions of you, dear."

Fred, who was standing by his parents, shook his head ruefully. "Ooooh, you're going to pay for that one, brother mine."

"Our sister-in-law deserves it," Ron countered on George's behalf.

"I suppose I do," agreed Blaise amiably. She shook her head and sighed, "Those children of ours are unholy terrors, I'm sorry to say."

"As their mother shouldn't you be defending them as being 'little angels'?" asked Fred, looking at her curiously.

"I'll have you remember that, 'Unca Fwed'," Blaise replied dryly, "the next time they set your wife's hair on fire."

Fred swallowed and tried to laugh. "Heh heh, Ang would not be happy if that happened again."

Hermione nodded her agreement. "She would probably quit work so that she'd have enough time to give you a thorough hiding."

Ron laughed. "At least Fred doesn't have to worry about Angelina beating him to a pulp with a Beater's Bat. Neville was telling me, last time I saw him, that Moira had chased him around their house with one after he invited her cousin Angus to dinner."

"Yeah," agreed George, delighted over his twin's discomfort, "Angie prefers the age-old tradition of grabbing whatever she can reach and throwing it at him. She still has a great aim."

"As if Blaise hasn't ever thrown things at you, George?"

"Actually," interrupted Sirius, who had been watching with a gleam in his dark blue eyes, "I had the good fortune to stop by one day for a visit, which happened to coincide with a little spat they were having at the time."

Remus, who had been looking thoughtfully at where Harry and Ginny had been standing, looked up and asked curiously, "What did she do to him?"

George swallowed nervously, "Er, Sirius..."

"I chased him out the front door," answered Blaise, with a devilish grin, "hitting him over the head with his broom."

"Not the Thunderbolt!" protested Fred and Ron together, both apparently more concerned with the broom Blaise had used than their brother's health.

"Blaise, dear, d'you think that was wise?" asked Molly, trying to sound as if she disapproved, but unable to hide the mirth bubbling in her eyes.

Dumbledore, who was watching the proceedings with amusement, leaned close to McGonagall and whispered to her, "Aren't you glad, Minerva, that we no longer have to teach them?"

"Quite right, Albus," the headmistress agreed. She shook her head ruefully. "They certainly haven't matured much over the years."

"If anything, I think they've grown more childish than they were," observed Hermione, who was closest to them and have been able to overhear.

"Oh really, Hermione," drawled George in a fair imitation of his wife. "And what, pray tell, do you do when Ron ticks you off?"

Fred, exhibiting the twin's usual quicksilver loyalty to their brothers, rounded on Ron with a cackle. "Yes, Ronniekins, what weapon does our dear Hermione favour?"

Blaise looked curiously at Hermione and asked, "Let me guess, you hit him over the head with a copy of Hogwarts, a History?"

"No, I have much better ways of letting Ron know I'm upset with him..."

Further discussion was brought to a halt when another flash, accompanied by another crack of thunder, encompassed the Great Hall. Blinking away the spots caused by the brilliant light, the group found themselves gaping at the two figures now standing in their midst.


Gregory Proteus shook his head in an attempt to ward off the mild dizziness that assaulted him in the moment everything changed from then to now. He looked across at his wife, Hilary, who was standing opposite him, one hand clasping his own and the other keeping hold of the alarm clock that had brought them here. Her bright hazel eyes were slightly glazed as she too fought down the effects of their journey.

"Finally," he said.

"Glad to be back, hmm?" Hilary asked, releasing his hand and reaching up to brush a stray lock of her shoulder length blonde hair out of her eyes.

Gregory smiled wryly. "Unquestionably. Time travel always gives me a headache."

Hilary was instantly concerned and asked, "D'you need to see a Healer?"

"Not the actual travelling, love, the concept. Tomorrow's yesterday and yesterday's tomorrow and everything's so incredibly predictable," he said, waving her worries aside as he slung his arm over her shoulders. Together they turned to face the seemingly dumbstruck witches and wizards that had witnessed their arrival.

*At last!* exclaimed Osiris with obvious relief. *That was an unnerving experience.*

*Oh hush, Osiris,* said Merlin. *We knew we would lose our connection to them during their displacement.*

*Knowing and experiencing are completely different things.*

"Gods, it's them," Ron breathed, sounding scarcely able to believe what his eyes were seeing before him. He gestured dumbly at them as he muttered, "The Defence professors from our sixth year. The barmy ones."

Blaise nodded as she too recognised them, calling them by the names they had long ago told their students to use. "Professor Hilary and Professor Gregory."

"Yeah, them. The Proteins."

"Proteuses, you twit," corrected Fred, not taking his eyes off the two newcomers. "Honestly, George and I didn't even have them as teachers, but we remember their names."

"I've always said Ron has the memory of a goldfish," added George.

~Your brothers never fail to amaze me, love.~

The twins? How's that?

~Despite what's just happened; they can't resist teasing Ron.~

"Harry, Virginia," Dumbledore greeted, limping forward, "welcome back."

"It was like we never left, Albus," they chimed.

McGonagall clutched a hand to her chest in surprise and gasped, "Oh my."

Sirius shook his head so forcefully that his hair escaped from its ponytail, looking very much like an oversized Grim trying to shake his coat free of water. He stared at them, switching his attention from the one to the other so quickly his head was almost a blur. "Harry? Ginny?"

"You were those crazy Defence professors everyone kept talking about?" asked Remus in incredulous disbelief. "You taught yourselves?"

Gregory gave them all a familiar grin and nodded. "Interesting paradox, don't you think?"

Fred and George shared a look. "Wicked."

~Finally~ Harry silently told his wife, running a hand through his currently mahogany hair and using his wandless magic to return it to its natural black. Feeling a now familiar prickling sensation all over his scalp he resisted the urge to scratch furiously as he stated, ~That damn hair dye was making my head itch something terrible.~

At least you weren't bothered by the contact lenses, replied Ginny, using some wandless magic of her own to shed her disguise. Her golden curls shimmered, darkening and smoothing out into deep auburn tresses as she deftly flicked the specially coloured lenses out of her eyes.

*It is, was, ill fortune that you were unable to use any of the Glamour magicks to alter your appearances,* commiserated Isis.

~Too risky,~ Harry told her as he removed his own contact lenses. ~Our younger selves might have noticed if we had.~

"It was you, wasn't it?" asked Hermione, though in truth it was more a statement than a question. She stumbled towards them as Harry put on his glasses, the plain glass lenses muting the brightness of his eyes just a fraction. "You're the ones that convinced my parents to let me stay at Hogwarts!"

Harry smiled ruefully and confessed, "It took days to get the taste of that Polyjuice Potion out of my mouth."

"Still, it was worth it," Ginny said resolutely. "Somebody had to talk some sense into them. You're our friend; we couldn't very well let you get pulled out of school now, could we?"

Hermione crossed the short distance in an instant, latching her arms around them both and crushing them to her in a fierce hug.

"Thank you, both. So much," she whispered when she finally released them, visibly trying to hold back her tears as she stepped back into Ron's waiting arms.

"This is crazier than anything I was expected," admitted Blaise.

"I can't believe you actually did that!" accused Sirius, waving his hands angrily. "Do you have any idea how dangerous that was? Do you?"

"I'm afraid I must agree with Black," concurred McGonagall, given them both a stern look that had not been directed their way since they had left Hogwarts. She arched a disapproving eyebrow and said, "You especially, Harry, should know the risks involved with time travel. After that incident with the time-turner..."

Dumbledore, who had conjured up a cosy chair to rest in while they had been waiting, smoothly interrupted her. "This situation is a trifle different from what happened in Harry's third year, Minerva."

"Perhaps so, but it was still incredibly foolhardy," said Arthur, shaking his head worriedly. "If the Ministry ever found out..."

"They won't, Dad. Now that we've done what we've had to, we're going to destroy the clock," Ginny assured them all. She held up the alarm clock, which looked exceedingly innocent despite what they knew of its true purpose, and caused it to disappear in a swirl of light and sparks. "Since we didn't make any notes or plans, nobody will be able to duplicate it."

*Aside from any future holders of the Order,* added Alexander conditionally.

*Should they require it,* agreed Miko.

Ginny repressed a grimace. Let's hope they never do.

"But why did you do it?" asked Remus insistently. "Any kind of interference in past events could lead to catastrophe."

"All things being equal, I would normally agree," Harry said a touch dryly, "but things were definitely not equal that particular year. Far from it."

McGonagall cleared her throat and suggested, "I think it would be best if we finished this discussion over dinner."

Hermione, still in Ron's arms, nodded in agreement. "Definitely, headmistress."

"Yes, we'd better have something to eat now before Ginny and I start explaining," Harry said in his usual good humour. He glanced sidelong at his Godfather as the group, some more reluctantly than others, began to leave the hall. "I know how Sirius gets at times like these."

"Don't we all," agreed Fred and George.

"What do you mean 'how I get'?!"


The dinner, as par for the course at Hogwarts, was a sumptuous feast that left all those who partook in it well sated. For a change the meal had not been served at the staff table, where guests to the castle traditionally dined during visits, but rather in Professor McGonagall's private quarters.

After the main course had been finished desert was served by the headmistress' personal house-elf, an ancient and wizened creature that wore a miniature butler's uniform and insisted that everyone call him Alfred. Until then discussion at the table, which the former Transfiguration professor had magically extended to accommodate all her guests, had revolved mostly around the more mundane events of their everyday lives.

Now, as Harry helped himself to his second serving of chocolate cake, liberally drenched in whipped cream, the conversation turned the matter at hand.

"You knew," accused Ron, with only a hint of spite. Taking a gulp of his after dinner coffee he continued, "You knew everything that was going to happen. Everything that entire year, and afterwards as well."

"The Well of Shadows. Draco. You knew he was going to go on a rampage that first night in your PDA class," said Hermione, unconsciously rubbing her left hand over her right arm and shoulder.

"It was PFT at the time," corrected Harry calmly.

"You let it happen," Ron ground out unhappily. "You just sat back and let--"

Ginny interrupted him, "And let things happen the way they were supposed to happen. The way they did happen."

Dumbledore, sitting next to McGonagall, cleared his throat. "Perhaps, Harry, Ginny, you should start at the beginning."

"That might be a bit of a problem, Albus," Harry told him with a faint smile of wry amusement.

"How's that, Harry, dear?" asked Molly, putting aside her strawberry cheesecake.

"Predestination Paradoxes tend not to have beginnings, Mum," explained Ginny patiently. She gave the matter a moment's thought and added, "Or ends for that matter."

"Could you repeat that in English for the rest of us, please?" asked Ron, clearly exasperated and not liking it. Though he had mellowed greatly over the years, thanks mostly to his wife's influence, he still had little patience to spare when he would prefer to get to the heart of a matter.

As Hermione, who had some experience in this matter, explained the concept to Ron, Harry listened to Joan say, *Explaining zis eez going to take zome time.*

Fortunately time is something we have in abundance at the moment.

McGonagall suddenly looked at Harry and Ginny with a narrow expression. "So that's why the Proteuses --you-- were always baiting Severus about the Quidditch results. Making bets. You already knew how the games were going to play out."

"I don't know about anyone else," Harry said with a grin, "but I've been waiting for decades to get revenge on that slimy git."

"Especially after how he treated us during in my sixth year," agreed Ginny.

"And does introducing Crabbe and Goyle to opera count as revenge?" Blaise asked dryly as she sipped at her sherry. She arched an eyebrow at them, "Those two kept half of Slytherin up during the nights, practicing."

Harry was barely able to prevent his grin from growing even wider. Somehow he managed to affect and innocent expression and shrug offhandedly. "We may have mentioned the subject in passing after one of our classes."

Ginny chuckled and added, "You have to admit, Blaise, that they've improved over the years."

"It would be hard not to improve," countered Blaise. "They started out with bawdy sea shanties for pity's sake."

"At least it made the Halloween cabaret interesting that year."

"Pixies," Hermione suddenly said, drawing everyone's attention to her.

"Excuse me?" asked Ron, thoroughly bewildered.

"No wonder you set those pixies loose on us in your first class," Hermione said, looking at Harry with an incredulous expression. "You were taking a page out of Lockhart's book, weren't you?"

Harry laughed and shook his head. "The expressions on your faces..."

Ginny's silent laughter echoed through his mind as she almost choked on her coffee as the memory, which was certainly fresher in her and Harry's thoughts than in Hermione's. After all, for them it had been less than a year. ~If only we could've taken a photograph of it.~

"But why did you go back to that year?" asked Sirius, leaning forward and nearly knocking over Remus' cup of hot chocolate. He shook his head in confusion and went on, "Why not a couple of years earlier and prevent Riddle from rising again in the first place? Or why not a year later? You know how hard things were then. If you had helped fend off that first attack--"

"We had a different mission, Sirius," interrupted Harry. He did not like to dwell on the events of what was supposed to have been his seventh year at Hogwarts. "One that was more important and with far reaching consequences."

"We played the part history cast for us. Nothing more," elaborated Ginny.

"The centaurs," said Ron, snapping his fingers in comprehension. "You're the ones that talked them into helping us during the battle after you tried to disperse the Well. And the merpeople as well."

Hermione blinked and then turned to look at them in surprise. "The merpeople? Circe, so that's why you were damp when you came into the Hospital Wing after Harry's fight with those shadow dragons that Christmas. You'd been in the lake, talking to the merpeople."

"And here I thought they'd been shagging in the shower," laughed Blaise.

"Blaise!" exclaimed Molly.

"Oops. Sorry, Mum," she instantly apologised, not wanting to risk her mother-in-law's wrath. She had seen her husband and Fred on the receiving end of that far too often.

"So that's why you went back," concluded Arthur thoughtfully, "to help turn the tide in the battle against Riddle after you had successfully dispersed the Well of Shadows."

"Not quite, Dad," corrected Ginny.

Harry explained. "Our primary goal was to ensure Draco Malfoy survived the experience."

"The book on Hogwarts' wards that Hermione found," elaborated Ginny, turning to look at her long-time friend and grasp her hands in her own. "The one by Calvin Hobbes? We planted it in the library for you to find."

"The information in it was tailored to modify the dispersion. Took us years to work out the process ourselves, even with the Order's help," finished Harry.

Ron looked as if they had both just declared their undying love for Snape. "But why the hell would you want to do that?"

Dumbledore, who had been keeping quiet and simply listening, spoke up. "I'm sure, Ronald, that you should be able to work that out for yourself."

"What d'you..." Ron trailed off and his eyes grew wide. "Merlin's beard."

"You sneaky bastard, Potter," said Blaise, looking at him in admiration. She understood the pivotal role Draco had played in the final act of that particular drama, perhaps better than most of those sitting at the table. Only she, Harry, Ginny and Hermione knew the exact details of what had happened that night.

"Thank you," acknowledged Harry politely. He took a bite of his cake before looking across the table at Hermione. "There were other things we had to take care of as well."

Ginny nodded in confirmation and explained, "Besides making sure your parents let you stay at Hogwarts, we suggested that our younger selves help train you to use your left arm."

"We knew it would be nearly eight years before we could brew that particular Restorative Draft. You needed something to distract you from dwelling on it - and learning how to use your left arm was the best thing.

"Yes, I'd forgotten that," mused Hermione thoughtfully, staring into space as she remembered those difficult days following her injury. "It was also one of the reasons I began studying wandless magic over that summer, again with your help. It was almost a lost art until you began teaching it to me."

"And see where that led to," Harry prompted.

"I had always thought having a class devoted to wandless magic would have been a boon to Hogwarts," agreed Dumbledore. He smiled at Hermione and raised his glass of Coke (his latest vice from the Muggle world) as a salute. "The last seven years have proved me correct in that regard."

McGonagall nodded in agreement. "I had much the same thought when Hermione proposed the idea of her Wandless Spellcasting course at the end of her tenure as Defence Against the Dark Arts professor."

"It's certainly the most popular elective offered," asserted Blaise.

Ginny turned from Hermione, who was starting to blush from the attention directed at her, and looked at her brother. "And Ron's habit of jumping from one idea to the next has saved our rear ends on more than one occasion over the years. Thinking outside the box is a useful skill."

"Not to mention suggesting that Practical Fighting Techniques be kept going, even after we had left school," added Harry.

"Y'know, I've always preferred that name," admitted Ron wistfully, thinking back to his school days. "Practical Defence Application just doesn't sound as much fun."

"I believe that is why the school governors decided to change its name," said Dumbledore.

"It still has a good record of attendance, even after all these years," Hermione told them happily. "The only activity the students get even more excited over is Quidditch."

"Although it was quite a bit more popular when Mr Potter was teaching it," admitted McGonagall.

Fred laughed. "Harry definitely has an... interesting... teaching style."

George shook his head and groaned, "Don't remind me. I still can't forget that first night when he 'volunteered' us for use in his demonstration."

"I seem to recall the results of that night as well, Mssrs Weasley," McGonagall reminded them both, her eyes narrowing fractionally behind her rectangular spectacles. Being turned on by two of her students in the middle of the inaugural Practical Fighting Techniques demonstration duel was not something she was ever likely to forget.

"Uh... we did apologise for that, remember?"

"Why don't I remember any of this?" asked Dumbledore suddenly, looking at Harry and Ginny with an intense curiosity.

"Pardon, Albus?" Molly asked, confused by the former headmaster's question.

"I remember the events as they took place perfectly well, Molly. However I have no recollection whatsoever that Gregory and Hilary Proteus were Harry and Ginny Potter," he explained.

"Why should you? They were in disguise," said Ron.

Blaise rolled her eyes. "Ron, you twit, the letter."

"Quite so, Blaise," Dumbledore agreed. He explained, "I recall you having a glowing letter of recommendation, though the details escape me. I presume that was the same letter I gave you this very evening?"

"We used this," said Harry, reaching into his robes. He drew out a stylish pair of sunglasses and deposited them on the tabletop for all to see.

"Omnitacles?" asked Fred, recognising them as one of Weasley's Wizard Wheezes' most successful products.

Ginny nodded and told them, "We modified them with a Memory Charm, specifically targeting Albus' knowledge of our real identities."

Dumbledore cautiously picked up the Omnitacles and examined them. "Ah, quite ingenious."

"We were worried sick when we had to use them," Ginny told him.

"Not to worry, my dear, it was well worth the risk," the old wizard waved aside her concerns. He looked at the group assembled around the table and said, "Not to slight anyone's accomplishments, but Gregory and Hilary Proteus were two of the most successful and popular Defence professors I ever had an opportunity to work with. I cannot blame them for wanting, needing even, to keep their true identities secret until now."

"That I must agree with, even though they did have a propensity for practical jokes," agreed McGonagall, looking sternly at Harry and Ginny as she did. For some reason she then turned her gaze to Fred and George, clearly remembering that they too had not let their position as the Defence professor prevent them from wreaking havoc throughout the school. She often said that she suspected the twins had only applied for the post (in different years thankfully) as part of a marketing campaign to advertise their wares to the students. Doubtless to say, Defence had been a very popular subject during their tenure.

Seeing that the neither pair were not looking the least bit repentant she turned her attention back to Dumbledore and said, "I remember asking you, when you retired, if you knew how to contact them."

George looked at her curiously and asked, "You actually consider them good enough to ask them back?"

McGonagall gave a brisk nod. "Without a doubt."

"In fact," interjected Sirius, "I think Remus here is the only one to ever return to the post, even if there was a year break in between."

"I have asked him on several occasions, but he has always refused," McGonagall told him.

Remus smiled and shook his head. "I enjoy teaching, but these days I prefer my research work at Stonehaven."

"That's a pity, you were--"

"Wait!" exclaimed George, rising from his seat with a demented grin.

"Wait!" exclaimed Fred, also getting to his feet with an identical grin.

George clapped his hands together. "Wait!"

Fred was almost bouncing where he stood. "Wait!"

"We're waiting." Blaise observed dryly.

"You tried to get the Proteuses back to teach Defence again, right?" Fred asked McGonagall, rounding on her and making a show of pretending to be a high priced barrister questioning a star witness.

"I believe I confirmed that a while ago, Mr Weasley."

"You two are the Proteuses, right?" asked George, mimicking his brother perfectly as he turned to where Harry and Ginny were sitting.

~Harry, I don't like that look in their eyes~ Ginny told him, eyeing her brother with a touch of nervousness. Only the Gods, Fred and George knew what scheme they were hatching.

Neither do I, Harry admitted.

*Oh ho, this is going to be good,* chuckled Osiris.

Fred and George caught each others eye and beamed.

"That solves everything!"

"What are you talking about, Fred, George?" asked Molly, quite confused.

Arthur looked at his wife sceptically and asked, "You really want to know?"

Fred looked at McGonagall. "You want the Proteuses to teach Defence Against the Dark Arts."

"Harry and Ginny are the Proteuses," continued George.

"So why aren't you signing them up already?" asked Fred, waving his hands between the two and McGonagall.

Harry looked at Ginny. I had a feeling they were going to suggest this.

~Well, it's not the worst job in the world~ she confessed thoughtfully. ~In fact, I rather enjoyed that year~

So did I.

"That's actually a very good suggestion," admitted McGonagall, apparently surprised that it was Fred and George that had come up with it. She began to eye Harry and Ginny with the same calculating look that Harry remembered from his first year, when she had pulled him out of his first flying lesson and deposited him in Oliver Wood's hands. Clearly her throat she observed offhandedly, "Professor Riggs scared most of the students half to death this past year."

"Oh, Ginny dear, Harry, it would be wonderful if you took the post," cried Molly, looking positively delighted at the idea.

Hermione was grinning at them both from across the table. "Even if only one of you teaches Defence, the other can always take over the PDA classes."

Ron was also grinned, though for a completely different reason. "Just think of Snape's reaction when he finds out."

"Cor," breathed George, his eyes glazing over as he pictured such a scene.

"You have to do it," Fred pleaded, "if only for that."

Harry shared a look with his wife, whose bright brown eyes were sparkling with mirth. He held out a hand and asked, "Gin?"

"Harry?" she asked in return, taking his hand and signalling their agreement. Having come to an accord they turned to see everyone watching and waiting expectantly.

"Why not?" they chorused.

Fred and George pumped their fists into the air and yelled, "Excellent!"

Blaise leaned forward, to offer her congratulations. As Harry, then Ginny, shook her hand she asked, "Does this mean you'll stop calling me Professor now? After all, you were teaching over a decade before I was."

"No. We weren't teaching," Ginny denied, "it was the Proteuses."

"Which gives me an idea," said Harry. He looked at his former professor and asked, "Minerva, would you object to us making an entrance similar to our last one?"

"I don't suppose so," McGonagall agreed after some cautious consideration.

"You're thinking of giving Snape an aneurysm, aren't you?" asked Ginny, grinning at the thought.

"How d'you think he'll react?" asked Harry wickedly. "Discovering that the dreaded Proteuses are returning Hogwarts, only to have them suddenly reveal their true identities?"

Ron, looking at them with an awed expression, exclaimed, "He's going to go crazy!"

"At the very least," agreed Hermione, also breaking into a grin.

"You intend for me to keep your appointment to the position a secret from Severus?" asked Minerva, realizing what Harry had in mind.

Fred quickly corrected her. "Not a secret, Headmistress,"

George grinned evilly. "A surprise."

Everyone began to discuss and place bets on Snape's possible reaction to learning that Harry and Ginny would be teaching Defence Against the Dark Arts the next term. Dumbledore, who was watching the proceedings with a benevolent and grandfatherly smile, leaned close to Harry and Ginny.

"I gather the discussion about you time travelling adventure is over?"

"For the time being, yes," agreed Harry, watching as his friends and family. "After all, everything worked out all right in the end."


Final Author's Note: The final chapter of the story, not to mention the longest; coming in at a grand total of just over ten thousand words! I hope that everyone has enjoyed the ride and will be waiting patiently (yeah right) for the story of Harry's seventh-year at Hogwarts. You can expect to see The Shattering of Souls being posted towards the end of November, early December at the latest.

For those of you willing to stick around, there's a sneak preview at the bottom.

Finally, my most heartfelt and sincere thanks to my beta; Anne. She's somehow managed to slog through this with me, giving birth to one or two brilliant ideas that improved the story greatly and managing to keep me true to the characters as best I could.

paulo_j1983 - Actually, as hinted at in this chapter, Neville finally ended up getting hitched to Moira.

Captain-Owl-Girl - There's definitely a sequel.

The Keymaker - Wait and see. I've got some Fudge bashing planned in the sequel.

Lindiel Eryn - Harry's death isn't what causes he phobia of the colour red. Quite the opposite, in fact.

laex - Sorry i took a little longer than I had planned to get this last chapter done.

Draconias - Hopefully this chapter has laid to rest some (but not all) of the questions concerning Gregory and Hilary. Somethings, however, won't be revealed until near the end of the seventh-year story.

usakid - Don't worry, I have no intention of killing Sirius. Harry, on the other hand... As for you questions; Harry and Ginny can only hear what the other wants them too, though they may sometimes overhear a stray thought. If JKR plagarised my work? Well, I could always use some spare change.

greer Harper - I'm definitely continuing the story. After having come this far, I can't back out now.

Jess16 - Actually, I plan on getting Ginny totall sloshed again at least once during the seventh-year fic.

DV - Thanks.

A-Potter-Person - Hopefully the wait was worth it. Unfortunately you'll have to suffer though another one (even longer I'm sorry to say) before I start posting the sequel.

Cosmos Rose - Actually, while I had originally planned only only writing until the end of Harry's seventh-year, I have since decided to carry on with an eighth-year fic, which will deal mostly with the aftermath of SoS.

Kortir - I like the idea of the Order having the key to Gringotts' vault number one, but I don't know if I'll be able to work it into the story. If I do, it'll probably only happen in the eighth-year fic.

cancan227 - I'll try, but no promises.

Serenity55 - Thank you.

sweetness - The entire party/hangover idea came to me and I simply couldn't resist writing it into the story.

PadfootOldBuddyOldPal - I'm ending the story here and will be covering what happens during the summer in the seventh-year fic.

Furioh - Everyone has to get blind drunk at least once during their lives.

Reimei - Yes, definitely all coincidences.

Mage of Shadows - My poison was half a bottle of tequila and almost a full bottle of black sambuka. It was my twenty-first birthday.

tim - Everything will be continued in the sequels.

Makayla - Hope you liked.

Fresh-AngelBabe - Good to hear.

Josh Whitt - Now it's complete.

didihoulio - The first chapter of SoS should be ready by the end of November.

dementorchic - I was rather undecided about including Bellatrix after JKR used her in OotP to kill Sirius.But I decided to go ahead with her anyway. Don't know if any of the new characters like Tonks or Luna will turn up.

Dawniky - I have an idea or two boucing around for a one-shot covering Snape's reactions when Gregory and Hilary are announced as the new DADA professors, only to reveal themselves as Harry and Ginny.

lady knight of kennan - Actually, I suspect that Fred and George didn't know what hit them either.

Professor Larsen - Experience.

Catgrl52 - No, no, no. Gregory and Hilary told Harry to read the letter when it was time. It isn't time yet and won't be for a while.

crabbe - I'm glad to hear my stories have helped. I hope you enjoyed this last chapter of Well of Shadows and trust you will find The Shattering of Souls equally enjoyable.

reg - Harry/Ginny action is unfortunately going to be in short supply in the future, probably because Harry's getting killed at the start of his seventh-year.

azntgr01 - Getting drunk is fun. It's waking up the following morning that's not.

Briar Rose - Moony and Padfoot will be featuring rather prominently in the sequel.

koosei - Dumbledore also gave them the private rooms so that Ginny wouldn't hex any of the boys in Harry's dorm while she was stressed out over the OWLs.

Luigi - ASA has been transfered to adultfanfiction.net

Bukama - I should be starting on Screen Test soon, but don't have a firm idea of when.

X a r a l i n d - I'll try.

Sparks - Soon enough, I hope.

swimade333 - Pretty much the end now, but hopefully the wait won't be too long and then the sequel will be out.

padfoot4eva - I don't know where you might've gotten the impression, but South Africa isn't that far behind the States. We're all quite familiar with Friends and have been for a good many years.

Aneko Kohana - I love that show. Now I just have to cameo O'Neill, Carter and Teal'c

Arizosa - Pleased to hear you're looking forward to it.

Lukaret Kokushibyou - Let's just say that Fudge is not going to leave on his feet.

Adenara Yatman - Thanks.

Songbreeze Swifteye - Yeah, who would imagine Colin as a ladies man?

AmaraDragon - Ah well, maybe someone slipped her a sleeping draft before hand.

Shannon Snape - Yep.

Lunawolf - Sooner or later everyone has a hangover.

Teresina Dragonwagon - Always a good thing.

Nosgoroth - Hope you're feeling better.

l88er-az - That wouldn't be Fyre Fairy you're waiting for, would it?

Queen of the Jungle - By the time you reach my advanced years, you've had experience with just about everything.

Ginny1946 - I'll have a look.

Black Rose9 - I'm glad you liked it.

Emerald - According to the stats page; 626 at the moment.

Angelis1 - Thanks.

Geor-sama - Blaise will have several moments during the seventh-year fic.

MegumiFuu - I hope the final product lived up to everyone's expectations.

Nikki Ash - Unfortunately most of your questions will only be answered in the sequel.

Blue Phoenix2 - I used to be able to do that.

hermionegreen - The only time I've really had a proper hangover was after my 21st and I suspect that was more because of the volume consumed than anything else.

Lana Riddle - Providing anyone survives, yes.

howling wolf1 - Okey dokey.

The One above All - Cool.

Mistri - Agrippa will turn up in the sequel. Until then...

~ ~ ~

Why did women always have to burst into tears? It never failed to make Ruskbyte uncomfortable, though he knew not why. He supposed, if worst came to worst, that he could throw caution and common sense out the door and try to comfort Verity in whatever way he could.

It was just a question of whether or not she'd kill him for trying.

~ ~ ~

Griever-lme - Well, somebody had to be. This doesn't mean that Ginny isn't a hottie in her own right, but Blaise is one of those naturals.

Athena McGonagall - Harry and Ginny probably could have purged the alcohol from their systems with the Order's help, but not without a lot of teasing before hand. Fortunately they had Hermione arrive first.

taruial - With luck I won't keep you waiting too long.

Hufflepuff1324 - I hope you enjoyed the story's conclusion.

Cory3 - I'm going to try be a little prompter during the sequel.

OrionTheHunter - Thanks.

keebler-elmo - Okay.

Lioness-07863 - This was the last chapter.

GinnyPotter - This and both the planned sequel are thirty chapters total.

WolfMoon - Oh, school, my condolences.

plaidphoenix - Blue stuff.

A taste of things to come...

"Anything else?"

"Actually, yes," Sirius replied after a moment. He looked at the bartender and asked, "I don't suppose you know where a man can find himself a new motorcycle?"

The bartender looked quizzically at him. "You don't have a bike?" he asked, receiving a shake of the head as an answer. "Then how'd you get here?"

"You wouldn't believe me if I told you," Sirius replied truthfully. He sipped on his drink and repeated his earlier question, "So, do you?"

"Well, I can recommand a few places. If you've got more of those--" the bartender glanced at the Galleon resting on the counter, "-- you shouldn't have a problem buying any bike you want."

Sirius smiled dangerously. "Who said I was going to buy one?"