… - …

Chapter 23 – Daylight Again

Thursday 21 January

Dan raced out the door of his dental clinic and was at St Michaels in less than five minutes. He'd run flat-out down the hallway when he ran smack into Alejandro Croaker, who had been visiting with the comatose woman. After picking themselves up, the old wizard suggested, "Perhaps we could walk outside for just a minute?"

His words allowed no discussion, so Dan followed. When they were outside, Croaker said, "Dr. Granger, I'm Professor Alejandro Croaker. I work with Amelia Bones."

Realization came to Dan, who nodded and replied, "Go on."

Croaker announced, "Your wife is in the process of waking up. In fact, she was sleeping normally when I left the room. I would expect that she'll awaken within the hour. I'll stop by again to speak with you both."

Dan nodded and replied, "Thank you, Professor."

He nodded and when Dan looked back at him, the old wizard was gone.

… - …

Saturday 22 January

Amelia walked in the door, saw her friend and hugged her. "It's so good to see you up, Emma. I've – we've all missed you so very much. How do you feel?"

Emma collected her thoughts for a moment, and aside from feeling dirty, weak, and hungry, admitted, "Confused."

Amelia let her sit and waited patiently for her to find the words that she was searching for.

"She continued, "Part of me believes that it's still July and our business was blown up yesterday and my friends were just killed." She paused for a minute before continuing, "Part of me recalls sounds – Dan coming in and reading to me or apologizing for something or another. Ninety percent of it was just a blur. I clearly remember, Susan stopping in and telling me that Harry was a great kisser."

The two women looked at each other and smiled. "I have so many questions…"

"We'll get to them when we get you home. There's a man out in the hallway who would like to give you a ride to Dan's car. Harry, Hermione and Susan are waiting for you at your home. Shall we go now?"

Emma carefully walked to the wheel chair and the orderly pushed her to the front lobby and out the front door. She got up unsteadily and Dan and Amelia each held onto a hand as she carefully got into the front seat. Six months of wasting away in bed had not been erased by a few days of physical therapy.

On the way home, Emma asked, "The men who attacked us…"

"Were wizards; fanatical followers of the wizard who killed Harry's parents. They've all been identified and have died in the last six months. They caused a swath of trouble in the meanwhile, but they've all met their maker; Tom Riddle, too. They're all gone."

Emma rode in silence, attempting to process the news. She asked, "Your officers?"

"A couple of handfuls of very good man and women were killed or badly injured along the way. Like you, I miss my friends and co-workers every day. We won't forget them, or the sacrifices that they made, but looking ahead is the right thing to do. The short of it is that nine men attacked your clinic last 9 July; they killed three of your employees. One of the stinkers was killed during the attack. The rest were active in the service of the Dark wizard who called himself Voldemort. They and their fellows committed some horrible deeds in the next months, but eventually almost all of the Death Eaters, along with Riddle were killed. One of my Captains was credited with finishing off Tom Riddle and that ended what was shaping up to be a very bloody reign of terror."

"The children?"

"They're fine. They're waiting for you. They've missed you."

Dan drove the car to their home and parked as close to the house as possible. As he was shutting the engine off, the front door burst open and the three teens dashed out. Hermione and Susan hung back for a moment as Harry ran, shouting, "Mum, I've missed you so much." He hugged her for all that he was worth. It was four weeks late, but he got his Christmas wish. Hermione and Susan joined in, and between hugs and kisses, helped her inside.

Ben pulled up a minute later, with Ami driving just behind him. The young office manager ran into the house, calling, "Dr. Emma." She gently hugged the woman who meant so much to her.

Ben walked in a minute later and smiled as he surveyed the scene. He stood by Amelia after hugging his daughter and saying, "Welcome home, Em." She wasn't tired, but was becoming visibly weak.

Hermione whispered something to Amelia, who nodded and returned a minute later, saying, "You are supposed to take a teaspoon of this, twice a day." Emma complied and immediately felt better; good enough for another round of hugs, but sat down with her feet up almost immediately after. With a last hug, Ami left and promised to call on Monday.

After Ami had driven off, and Dan and Ben were in the kitchen getting beverages, Emma asked, "So Susan, just how good of a kisser is my son?"

Initially shocked by the question, a giant smile crept on her face and she replied, "You remembered. Auntie, I told you so." She walked over to Emma, leaned over and whispered in her ear, "He needs a lot more practice, but he'll do." They smiled at each other as Emma gently squeezed the teen's arm."

The small dose of strengthening potion had taken effect, and she felt better; at least for a few minutes. "So each of you tell me one thing about each other that's new. Susan told me that you and she are dating. Susan, what else can you tell me?"

"He saved my life. One of the old professors tried to kill us one afternoon when we were at Hogsmeade."

"He saved my life too," admitted Hermione.

"Mine too," admitted Amelia, "Though not at the same time that Susie and Hermione were referring to. He also performed a near-miracle and gave two great people the ability to walk again."

"In other words, business as usual for Harry," added Hermione, smiling at her brother.

"Our daughter is getting ready for a part-time position in politics," added Dan, who winked at her.

Ben added, "My mum was a healer and she'd had a seat on the Wizengamot. Amelia's tutoring her on the ins and outs of the whole thing."

Amelia added, "Ben's working part-time at the ice cream shop. He packs a very good cone."

Emma smiled, remembering him telling her about his job as a teenager. "That's great, Dad. So Grandma Patti was a witch?"

"According to my friend, who apprenticed under her, she was one of the very best healers." Emma noticed that Ben smiled appreciatively.

"Ben said, "Amelia and Hermione cured my arthritis. She's been keeping me company sometimes, too."

"Actually, Ben's been keeping me company sometimes."

Emma nodded, happy for both her dad and her friend. She said, "It sounds like a lot of good things have been happening."

They all nodded.

"Good. Husband, take me to bed. We'll talk more tomorrow at noon. Goodnight everyone."

Her words were like the sweetest music to Dan's ears.

… - …

Sunday 23 January

The next morning, Emma asked, "So, we still have a home?"

"Harry still owns it, but we have the money to buy it back."

"The business?"

"We're at a new location. Sneerwell did an amazing job getting us out of the old facility. He saved us thousands on the fit-up and the lease. Ami did a brilliant job getting everything moved and keeping the business running. We owe her. I hired a hygienist and we've been trying our best to hold everything together. Sneerwell got us a very good settlement with the keyman policy, so the business is still solvent. Ben and I have been spending a lot of time together."

"Emma admitted, "I'm not sure I'm ready to go back to work."

"We'll get by, Emma. We've been through a lot together. We'll make this work."

"So what's this about Harry's miracle?"

"He can create a foot out of thin air, attach it to a leg and set them so they can move."

"Like a moveable prosthetic?"

"More like the original; like a real foot."

"Good heavens."

"Apparently none of the other witches or wizards can do the spell."

They continued talking for hours.

… - …

Monday 24 January

The thirty-nine year old dentist finally had a moment to herself. Amelia had taken the teens back to school and Dan had gone into the clinic for an hour to perform a procedure that would have been difficult to reschedule. Emma's hands clenched the cup as she sat at her walnut kitchen table. She was beyond frustrated. While Dan was desperate to have things go back to 'normal' it had become obvious that there had been so many changes. He was much closer to Ben than he'd ever been. She supposed that her hospitalization could have been the reason, and was happy with the result, so she didn't press that issue.

According to Amelia, Hermione had followed a predictable path and had apparently been quite successful in class. Emma even heard the word date referenced once or twice, and was secretly delighted by the news. The news that her Grandma Patti had been a magical explained many of the mysteries that had occurred while Hermione was growing up. She deeply resented the so called Statute of Secrecy and the wedge that it had driven between her and her father.

For the most part, her thoughts and concerns focused on Harry. She'd been shocked to learn that he'd killed a man, or men. The degree that he'd seemingly taken it in stride was simply beyond her comprehension. She desperately wanted to talk with him about it, but finding the words to form a complex sentence was still an effort. Her frustration over her lack of words was stretched beyond belief when she'd heard that he'd been carrying a bit of that monster's soul in him. She was enraged when she'd learned that Dumbledore had known, but done nothing to help him. She was utterly speechless when she'd heard that it had been seriously impeding his magic and that her fifteen year old son was now performing completely miraculous surgical procedures.

She'd been completely flabbergasted when she saw the photos of Harry holding a sword, standing behind the remains of the largest monster that she'd ever imagined, let alone seen. The fact that he'd offset all of that by a simple 'Hi mum, I missed you so much' had left her speechless.

… - …

While Emma was pondering the changes, Susan and Harry had finished breakfast and were sitting in an unused classroom, waiting for Runes to start in twenty minutes. "What are you going to tell her when we go back next weekend?"

"Dunno. 'I had that murdering moron's soul stuck in my head for fourteen years, but now it's gone. There's nothing to worry about,' wouldn't work. She'd run away so fast I'd need my Firebolt to catch her. 'How was lunch?' Oh fine, except we had to kill six people. How was your week? I don't think that would work either. She'd hate me. She'd be… afraid of me."

She scooted in front of him and had him hold her as she knew he loved to. "I'm sure that Auntie explained everything after we left and I doubt that she'd ever be afraid of you; unless you conjure a silver sword and give her the pirate eye. Then any sane person would be worried. You know she loves you and just wants everything to be the same, or as close to the same as she can understand.

"The wizarding world changed loads in the last six months and she'll have to read the newspaper clippings to catch up on some of it. Harry, it would be a victory from the grave by that greasy arsehole if you let that day define you. Your leadership got us out of there that day, but which action do you think Captain Wood remembers the most? You gave a brave woman her career back. That's what's important. Let's send your mum a note. Every step that you both take towards each other is a step closer."

… - …

Wednesday 26 January

Two days later, Emma felt better; remarkably better. The physical therapist had warned her that walking normally might take a few weeks and walking around the neighborhood might be a few months away. The difference became obvious when she took her morning spoonful of the strengthening potion that Amelia had brought over. When she stopped over after work to visit, Emma had asked about it.

"There is a bit of irony in life. The man who attempted to kill the teens invented the potion that is working so well for you. The spell that Harry has been using to help those people with their legs was invented by the wizard who murdered his parents, and Harry has been paid 50,000 galleons each time he's used it."

"That's too much."

"Minister Diggory insisted on it. Harry's developed an astonishingly rare ability. Keep in mind that Amos was one of the people treated, and can walk completely normally again. Besides, Harry's had his ups and downs. The monster that he killed when he was twelve was worth fifty million pounds and the Headmaster purposefully let it rot. Amazingly, the goblins still offered him over ten million pounds for it. Actually he was paid more, but he gave part away to Hermione and some of the other victims."

"I'm surprised he didn't give it all away," commented Emma.

"He asked about it and we exchanged a few letters over the matter."

"Thanks. He's generous to a fault."

"That he is."

"You mentioned that he saved your life; what happened?"

"I was watching the teens after Snape and five recruits tried to kill them on Saturday. Riddle sent twenty thugs to my home to kill me. Harry and Hermione had those portkey watches, so we all got out. Michelle and the other Hitwizards came and made short work of the thugs. She was one of the people who lost a leg a few weeks later. Two weeks ago, he gave her a new leg."

Emma remarked, "Incredible."

"That it was. We arrived back here. Dan and Ben were in the kitchen and offered us a drink. We got to know each other a bit. He's a remarkable man. They went to Diagon Alley a few times to get help from Sneerwell at Gringotts. Along the way, he became friends with Florean Fortescue, who owns the ice cream shop. They've struck up quite the friendship. After a while, it came out that his mum was a witch and we came on a way to a treatment for his arthritis; at least for a few years at a time."

"So Hermione wants to save the world by going into politics?"

"Apparently. I brought over a box of books a few weeks ago. I never imagined that she'd read them all, let along in a week. She actually read them, not just skimmed through them. She must have been an armful growing up."

"She was three when I found her, reading a book; reading it and saying the correct words on each page. I was so happy for her at first, but quite unnerved when we concluded that she was summoning books that we'd previously put away. We began withdrawing from the neighbors a bit. Needless to say, primary school was a double edged sword for her. Her only real friend was the Librarian. The physical bullying began in the third grade. It was getting intolerable by the end of Primary, but I have a feeling that she contributed to it.

"We were ever so glad when it appeared that she was making friends at Hogwarts. Yet, to this day, she'd probably pick a good book over having a cuppa with a friend. She has a solid sense of right and wrong; I'll never take that away from her, but there is no gray in her life. I suppose that it will come with time, but it could pose a problem for her in the Wizengamot."

Amelia thought about her own life and admitted, "There's very little actual black or white in my life. I've see horrible people do very good things for retched reasons and I've seen very good people to terrible things for the best of reasons. She'll miss out on a lot in life if she doesn't grow in perspective."

"Relative to the Wizengamot, it will be an extra year for both of them. Susan has rights to the family seat; I'm a member by virtue of my work. Harry will occupy his family seat, of course. I just hope that they stay together; they seem to complement each other."

"True, but they've lived life at the edge. It tempers people pretty quickly."

"What does Susan want to do after school?"

"She's interested in runes, how about Hermione?"

"She's expressed an interest in journalism, politics, human rights, technology, science, learning, and education, to name a few. As you mentioned, she's never met a book that she didn't like. I wouldn't be surprised if she went for several masteries. I'm not certain what graduate school costs in the States, but I'm certain that she'd be interested."

"I wouldn't worry about it. After the basilisk photo signing session, she walked away with about 150,000 pounds."

"What! What did I miss?"

"The goblins offered Harry just over a million galleons for the remains of the snake and two galleons each for each signed photograph. He talked them into doubling the offer. Well, the short of it is that they had fifty thousand signed photos to sign and split the photo money seven ways. Hermione was given one of the shares."

"Emma quipped, "So much for sending her pocket money every month."

They both laughed and Amelia asked, "What are your plans?"

"I'd like to go to work and learn what our financial situation is, take the kids on a long holiday, spend some time with Dan, share a cuppa or twenty with you, and see my dad a bit more. All those months, I didn't know much about what was going on, but I knew that I couldn't wake up."

Amelia nodded at her friend and she continued, "The strengthening potion has been fantastic. It's been less than a week since I woke up and I'm all the way up to feeling merely exhausted after a long day at work. I'm ready to go for a drive in the country."

"How about a quidditch match? Harry plays two weeks from Saturday. There's a little village by the castle. We could take the portkeys there, see the match, have a late lunch with the teens and make a day of it. Ben and Dan were planning to go."

Emma admitted, "It sounds heavenly."

"Perfect. I'll make the arrangements."

… - …

The man currently calling himself Dr. Fells walked into the shop that had a sign displayed, We buy gold.

The dealer looked at the man wearing a cream colored linen jacket and panama hat as he walked into the shop and concluded that he was a man of means. He asked, "How can I help you?"

The man produced a small stack of gold coins and said, "I'd like these melted and sold."

The dealer asked, "How much do you have?"

Without blinking, Rookwood replied, "8,000 ounces today. Can you handle that much or should I go to the shop down the street?

Immediately the dealer stated, "I can handle it."

"How much?"

"220 an ounce."

"You're wasting my time."

"225. I'm not going to be able to feed my family at that rate."

"Agreed. Binks will bring the gold. Here it is now. I'll be back tomorrow morning at 11."

Rookwood returned the next day. The shopkeeper greeted him. "Dr. Fells, you're right on time."

"Do you have my Euros?"

"Right here." The dealer produced a battered looking case and opened it.

Fells took a minute to examine the contents and sampled a few of the notes. There was 1.8 million as expected.

In a hopeful voice, the dealer mentioned, "Perhaps we can do business again another time?"

"I could do that now."

The dealer replied, "The same rate will apply."

The next day, Rookwood left Venice with 3.6 million Euros. For the same coins, Gringotts would have offered 128 thousand. Both men believed that they had made the best deal.

Rookwood knew it was time to leave Venice and called for his assistant.

… - …

Friday 4 February

Amos asked, "So what did you learn?"

Arthur pulled a note that he'd prepared out of his pocked and replied, "In 1840, the year Dumbledore was born, the wizarding world had a significant technical advantage over the nonmagicals; we could send an owl with a message and have it delivered a hundred miles away within an hour or so. Now they can reliably send an e-mail message to a person almost anywhere and have it arrive in seconds, perhaps as much as a minute. Ordinary people are buying these computing devices and putting them in their homes. Their telephone devices can communicate instantly and the mobile telephones can be carried in a coat pocket.

"Ordinary things such as this small notepad and pen are simple to use. In other words, they have mastered manufacturing. In the wizarding world, I'd go to Madam Malkins, and she'd make me a pair of trousers, a shirt and a cloak, more or less to order. I'd get them the next day and honestly, they'd be fairly expensive. In the nonmagical world, a shirt would be made, in different sizes, thousands at a time. The store would buy an assortment of sizes, stocked on a shelf and sold to the wearer. The wearer would never meet the person who made it. Most of their things are made that way. It's a bit impersonal, but much less costly.

"The impact of manufacturing and technology cannot be overstated, Amos. It was just over sixty years between the time of the first powered airplane flight to the time that the Americans stood on the moon. Think about it, Dumbledore was teaching transfiguration when the Wright brothers built their first airplanes.

"We cannot effectively hide from them. They have cameras almost everywhere, even above the Earth, in satellites.

"By the time Dumbledore was headmaster, there had been what was referred to as two world wars. By the end of the second war in 1945, they weren't just using the bombs that blew up a good part of Diagon Alley; they'd developed weapons that could level entire cities. In the years since, they've developed weapons that could turn an entire countryside to melted glass.

"Amos, the fact of the matter is we don't know what they know. It's more than likely that our clumsy attempts at obliviation have been spotted a dozen times.

"Where I'm going with this is, their technology is growing at a truly frightening rate. Look at the World Quidditch Cup that was held in Wales a year and a half ago. We chose to hold it in a nonmagical campsite. Yet no one over the age of fifteen, ourselves included, could convincingly dress as a nonmagical. The short of is we cannot ignore them or their abilities."

Truly impressed that his experiment was paying off, Amos asked, "So where does that leave us?"

"As magicals, we possess some remarkable abilities, but as a rule, our society hasn't done much with them; no hear me out; have we built a dam or a bridge? Have we built a road or a railway? Have we explored the oceans or outer space? Have we provided drinkable water for the world? Have we cured any diseases? I'm not jumping on the rah rah American bandwagon, because, as a rule, they've butchered the English language, but the fact remains, if they hadn't intervened in the '40s, my sons would be speaking perfect German.

"We possess the ability to transfigure, conjur, perform spells and create potions imbued by magic. We possess the ability to purify seawater and make it perfectly drinkable. Could that solve a problem for certain parts of the world? I think so, yet the local witches and wizards more typically use their abilities to set themselves up as warlords, or find ways to individually make themselves wealthy through bribery, scams or theft. There was a rumor that the Notts originally made their fortune scamming casinos. Apparently Lucuis' crowning achievement in life was raising white peacocks. That's not much to be proud of. We need to find ways where our abilities provide a significant advantage and allow us to use them while still maintaining the statute of secrecy."

"Excellent Arthur. That's your assignment for the next two months."

… - …

Saturday was the day that the Ministry designated Parents Day at Hogwarts. The nonmagical parents arrived via a series of prearranged portkeys that arrived near the quidditch stadium. Unsurprisingly, some of the parents took the ride better than others. They were given a few minutes to collect their wits after the rapid, but for some, unsettling journey.

Amelia met Dan, Ben and Emma, who had wisely used their portkey rings to travel to Hogsmeade and walked the mile to the castle. "Why didn't we take the Ministry portkeys?' asked Emma.

"It would be like comparing your beautiful timepieces to a thrift shop watch – they both tell you the time but yours are finely crafted devices. Ours have a spinning sensation that many people find unsettling, whereas yours provide comparatively little sense of motion. I'm told that most people would compare ours to an excessively bumpy jetliner ride."

Emma, who was no stranger to jetliner travel nodded at the older friend in understanding.

… - …

"We're going to run them into the pitch," exclaimed Ron, as the team finished their breakfast. "I bet the score will be 400 to nil. They're mostly second years, except Anderson."

"Doesn't sound very sporting." observed Fred.

"Especially since its parents' day. There's no joy in smashing a team when they're down," added George.

"We're not the school bullies," agreed Harry. "Ravenclaw hammered them so bad in their second game that three of their players quit the team. Their parents will be there too and for most of them it will be the first match that they've ever seen. How would you like it if your mum and dad came to see your first game and you got beat 400 to nil?"

"Well… er…"

"We're better than that," agreed George.

"We'll play hard the first ten minutes then swap in the reserves. Everyone gets to play and nobody gets hurt."

… - …

Rational-minded Emma knew that Quidditch was played in the air. She knew that her son rode on a broom, which had been described to her as flying like a bird.

Mom-minded Emma always envisioned that the bird in question was a robin, fluttering about at 15 feet, not a falcon rushing through the air at speed. As such, mom-minded Emma soon closed her eyes and listened to Lee Jordan's narrative.

"… Potter's flying at 150 feet in his usual search pattern… He's swooping under the Hufflepuff chasers… Look at that – an inverted roll. Here comes Smith, the Hufflepuff seeker. They're marking each other. Smith bumped Potter on that last turn. Oh no! She slipped off her broom. She's dangling by one hand… Potter turned back and grabbed her… She's back on her broom. Good show. Hufflepuff called a time out."

Emma was hyperventilating.

"Smith kicked off again. She's ok. Duffy scored. That brings the score to 50-30 with Gryffindor in the lead. Captain Potter called a time out. He seems to be substituting in the reserve team, He also pulled himself out and reserve seeker Dennis Creevey is coming in. Play is resuming…"

"Harry's on the ground. You can look now," commented Ben. For Emma, the change made all the difference in the world. The swoops, dives, tight turns, passes and shots had been transformed from abject terror to objective interest.

"Look at that," she commented a minute later as the Hufflepuff keeper blocked a shot from one of the Gryffindor chasers.

"Their team passes back and forth more than Harry's team," observed Dan

"The program says their captain is one of the chasers. She must emphasize that more," said Ben.

Fifteen minutes, the score was tied at 120. Harry called another time out. "Everyone's had a chance to play. Let's wrap this up."

Hufflepuff seeker Ericka Smith would become very good flyer in a year or so, and Harry enjoyed the chase as they flew side by side in pursuit of the snitch. He had the better broom but made an effort to only fly as fast as hers would go. He did however, have more experience with arcs and trajectories. Three minutes later, they were on the ground and Harry was shaking her hand, saying, "You flew very well. Next time, I'm certain that it will be your day." He handed her the snitch.

"Thanks Harry, replied, Smith, and she meant it. "My parents came today and…"

"I understand. Mine did too. Thanks for the good game."

… - …

Saturday 19 June

Harry, Susan, Hermione, Colin, Neville and Luna sat in the train compartment together. Neville said, "I'm glad we're all here together."

Susan replied, "Me too. The OWLs weren't so bad. Hermione, how did you do?"

She admitted, "I wasted my time in Muggle Studies and Care of Monsters. Harry, did you sign up for that Healing class with Madam Pomfrey?"

Harry replied, "Yes. There's not an endless supply of missing limbs in the magical world. Delivering babies sounds good to me."

Neville added, "I'm going to take the new history class next year."

Susan said, "I'm taking NEWT Charms, Runes, Arithmancy and Potions. Stirwell is a way better teacher than Snape ever was, even if he gets nervous if you come within ten feet of him, Harry."

Hermione asked, "Susan, what are your plans after you finish at Hogwarts?"

She replied, "I'd always thought that I'd go into law enforcement like Aunti. The more I look into it, the less it appeals to me – mostly paperwork and standing outside in the rain. I'm not going anywhere near those monsters at Azkaban."

Harry suggested, "You're learning a lot about charms and runes. Maybe you could learn to craft pensieves."

Neville added, "I heard each one is different."

Hermione replied, "Maybe; there must be a common base-set of runes to make them work. That was a great idea by the board to give the professors two years to get their mastery and complete coursework in Instructional Methods. It moves them away from the master-apprentice model closer to a public education model where the instructor actually knows something about teaching."

Everyone thought that was a great idea.

… - …

Four days later, the four marauders looked at the full shelves with great satisfaction. Remus had made arrangements to have a color multi-page advertisement printed up in quantity that would be given out with every purchase. They recognized that school age teens represented a large part of their customer base and wanted to make it easy to do business with them all year.

George showed Mooney their latest item, "We call it the Hogwarts monster collection. There is a giant spider, four different dragons, a basilisk and a blast-ended skrewt. They crawl, slither or flap their wings. Two galleons for the set or nine sickels each."

Remus looks at them and remarked, "They're well made. You should write up something about each one. I can get it printed and made into a little pamphlet. Good work."

… - …

At Emma's insistence they met at the Flying Horse for lunch. She wanted to see with her own eyes where her children were forced to defend themselves.

Hermione said, "We were sitting at this very table. Neville, Luna, Colin, Susan, Harry and I had come in for lunch like this."

Emma nodded and let Hermione continue. Profess, er Snape and the goons were somewhere over on that side of the restaurant. As every table has its own little partitioned room, we really didn't see each other while we were eating."

Amelia thought to herself, everything that Hermione's said so far was within the facts.

"We got up to leave and Snape's group must also have at the same time. I don't think that anyone planned to meet in the entranceway."

Harry picked it up at that point, "It was like that old west movie Tombstone. Snape and friends started making threats and talking trash that they might let us live."

Susan said, "Everyone seemed to be picking an opponent."

Hermione added, "Colin's camera accidently flashed at the same time somebody fell backwards. They drew their wands and started casting. Harry, Neville and Susan were a fraction of a second faster."

"It ended in about ten seconds. We defended ourselves and we survived. I cast a spell then shielded Susan who was about to get blasted. Michelle came a few minutes later and told us to stay where we were and not go anywhere.

Emma felt that she had to ask, "Could you have avoided the confrontation?"

Hermione looked like she didn't want to answer, so Harry took the question, "Let's rephrase your question, could we have safely avoided the confrontation? Snape was there recruiting goons to become killers. They all were itching to show that they were hard cases. Neville, Hermione and I have previously been cursed by those guys, either when they outnumbered us, or cursed in the back ever since first year. All the while, Snape was like their Boy Scout leader, showing them the way. To answer your question, could we have turned around and walked away? I seriously doubt that all of us would be alive today if we'd done that. Mum, I absolutely believe that their actions would have matched their words and they would have killed all six of us, after having sick fun with the girls. They'd already taken advantage of Luna years earlier. They weren't going to back down. The only way to have avoided it would been to have seen them before they saw us and either immediately left or to have sat back down again before they saw us."

"I still don't like it."

"Mum, nobody liked it. That's not the point. We're all still here. That's what matters. We're still here. You're still here. Nothing else is important." Emma accepted his words and gave up her argument.

... - …

The first Saturday after school was finished, Ben was delighted to see Hermione, Harry and their dates in line at the ice cream stand. When they reached the head of the line he asked, "Good to see you all. Hello Susan, Hi Colin, what would you all like today?"

"Two lemonade cones, a cookie dough and a strawberry cone, please."

Ben and Fortescue made the cones while Harry paid. They sat down and Hermione said, "Colin, there's your pictures on the wall." Sure enough it was the complete set of Harry's basilisk photos.

Colin said, "Cool place you guys have here – very rad."

The two ice cream men smiled. Within five minutes, the line was twenty long.

Hermione watched the two men scoop. Her grandpa was obviously in so much better physical condition than he'd been the evening her parents were attacked. He was clearly enjoying his day. She was happy for him.

… - …

The listing agent gave an involuntary shudder as she showed the man the three- level villa overlooking the clear blue ocean waters of the Mediterranean . It was a beautiful six bedroom home set into a hill, with room for a pool and parking for ten vehicles. The outer walls were made of Mistretta stone – a sandy colored block with a red clay tile roof. There was a wraparound balcony on each level where one could sit and enjoy the stunning view. The walkway in back was tile and polished marble that was shaded by vines.

The kitchen had a large range and oven with a large window overlooking the water. The feature that sold Rookwood on the home was a covered breezeway that overlooked the ocean but kept the person shaded from the sun. After years in Azkaban, he was still almost albino-pale.

In perfect Italian, Rookwood asked, "How much and when is the property available to occupy?"

The listing agent replied, "The asking price is 1.25 million Euros and the closing can be scheduled for as soon as tomorrow. Will you need financing?"

"No. I'll pay cash. Tomorrow morning at the bank at 11?"

"Perfect. I'll have the papers ready for you tomorrow morning, Dr. Fells."

The ex-unspeakable took another look around. Rookwood could remain here for years in obscurity, smoking quality cigars and enjoying the local wines. Deep down however, he knew that eventually he would become bored.

… - …

July 1998

Wizengamot Elder Ogdon read the Oath – "Hermione Jane Granger, do you swear to work toward the betterment of Britain, be just in your decisions and work toward the betterment of all magicals residing in the Isles?"

"I will."

She was the first of their generation to claim a seat. Susan and Harry would be next. Amelia would introduce the bill calling for open elections of the vacant seats with two year terms in staggered years. Another handful of their classmates would join them in the coming years. Most would be muggleborn. Eventually there would be an elf and a goblin as members.

Everything wasn't perfect but the body was looking ahead rather than desperately struggling to hold onto the past.


… - …

De Lisle Carbine

A demo can be seen on you tube

ooo ccc ooo

I'm sorry that the final chapter to this tale took so long to come out. I'd long pondered running it into Post-Riddle tale. In hindsight, I'm glad that I didn't and developed Atonement instead. As such, it sat half-written for some five years. Again, I apologize.

I envisioned Rookwood being similar to Thomas Harris's remarkable Hannibal Lector character. He'd probably lead a quiet life until something or someone set him off again. Given the long lifespan of magicals, that's probably a when, rather than an if.

Speaking of Atonement, I was delighted when I'd asked about readers' top-five favorite tales. There were easily twenty that I hadn't read. They can be found in the reviews for chapter six.

Until we hear from each other again, I wish you health and happiness.