You're My Density
Chapter 17 - Plan B
They walked into the Great Hall, one that looked rather strange without the four obligatory house tables commandeering most of the available space. Rows of seats had replaced the usual Hogwarts furniture, with the decorating banners all featuring Merlin's Dragon Symbol. Hermione was gradually winning the battle to calm Harry while leading him down the aisle toward their reserved seats at the front, only for Harry to stop suddenly as if poleaxed.
"Oh shit! Hermione, I can't accept this award. I need to talk to Dumbledore, and the Minister of Magic."
Despite the ministry flunky first trying to cajole before resorting to ordering them into taking their seats immediately, Harry simply refused to move - or say any more on the matter until speaking with the right people. Eventually McGonagall interceded, leading Harry, Hermione and their families into a small anteroom to await the two individuals he was so desperate to see.
It wasn't long before Albus and a rather flustered Minister arrived. "What seems to be the problem here. We have a lot of invited people waiting you know…" Cornelius nearly said press, which was who he really meant. It didn't pay to keep them waiting.
"Minister, I'm really sorry but I have to refuse this award."
Thinking again of those members of the press, and how they would report this, a shocked Cornelius needed about three attempts to ask Harry why he was doing this.
"I really am sorry and should have thought of this sooner. It's not the award I have a problem with, Minister, rather what it will do to me. Accepting an Order of Merlin makes me an adult…"
The knut finally dropped for Albus. "…which will remove all the protection from your Aunt's house."
"Yes Sir, and Sirius just heaped a pile of shit onto the Malfoys. Lucius will be livid, just as the wards at Privet Drive disappear. I can't have that."
It was a relieved Cornelius who offered the obvious solution. "You're right, Harry, that problem should have been anticipated - with a solution already in place. We can have new wards erected there within hours, and also have those wards monitored too - just like the Grangers."
Seeing Harry was still troubled, he was actually trembling, Hermione moved directly in front of her intended and gently held his face. Looking right into his eyes, she quietly attempted to reassure him. "We can have the house watched until those wards are up. Any danger at all, your uncle and cousin can be instantly taken to my house. The new wards will soon protect them…"
It was then Hermione discovered the real reason behind Harry's fear. "…but they wouldn't need me to stay there then."
The look of desperate loss in Harry's eyes was breaking Hermione's heart, mainly because she couldn't do a thing about it. There was really only one person present who could.
No one in the room could miss just how close these two were, with Petunia left hoping her Dudley managed to find someone half as nice as Hermione when he started looking for a girlfriend. Through Harry, Petunia now felt closer to her sister than at any time since Lily boarded that magical train as an eleven year old. Just like then, she had a decision to make. Petunia now considered the decision she'd reached as a teenager to be the wrong one, a decision that had subsequently impacted on more than just her life.
Here she was faced with the choice of permanently walking away from her nephew and magic, or accepting both into her life. Accepting this Harry, while trying to become the aunt he deserved - the aunt Lily would have expected her big sister to be. Harry was unquestionably a different boy from the one they took to King's Cross last September, and the Dursleys had unbelievably been given a second chance to be a family to him. Petunia decided to take that chance, though wouldn't be telling Vernon or Dudley that they didn't need to take Harry into their home just yet.
The young couple were holding onto each other with their foreheads resting together, waiting for the hammer to fall. Petunia slipped her arms around the couple before kissing both of them on their cheeks.
"Harry and Hermione, you are both invited to our house for the summer. That hasn't - and won't - change. Now let's go do this, or did we all get dressed up for nothing?"
Two now relieved and smiling children hugging Petunia left her certain she'd just made the right decision.
Harry turned to the Minister and apologised for the drama. "Sorry about that, Sir. Now I know my family will be safe, I'll happily accept this award."
Cornelius was beyond relieved, mainly at not now looking a fool in front of the invited guests - and especially the press. He was also unsurprisingly in quite a forgiving mood. "That's fine, Harry. There's no need to apologise for worrying about your family's safety. We'll get everything sorted right after the ceremony. Let's take our seats and get that ceremony stared."
Sirius then tried to apologise to Harry and Hermione for almost wasting their day, only to find himself being thanked instead.
"If you hadn't done that to Malfoy, it would never have occurred to me the wards would be pulled down. My family would then have been left defenceless, so thanks Sirius."
"I was always going to chuck Cissi and her even crazier sister out of the Black family. When the opportunity presented itself to poke both male Malfoys in the eye too, I just couldn't resist."
Hermione chuckling at that saw a lot of tension leave the family. If she was chuckling then things must be back to normal.
It was a thoughtful Albus who followed on behind. He'd kept his promise to the youngsters and had not used legilimency on any of their family. It was impossible to miss the undercurrents though that produced the bout of emotional turmoil Harry just experienced. Simply from observing, Albus could see that the relationship between Harry and his aunt was strained - something all three Grangers were obviously aware of. Taking Harry's memory loss into consideration, adding his uncle and cousin's non appearance here today, and Albus was forming a picture he didn't much like.
With Minerva just informing him of the plans for the new courses, Petunia's involvement in them and Draco Malfoy's outburst - Albus thought there may be a way to nudge things further along the direction the young couple obviously wanted them to go. Looking at the robes the group were wearing also provided Albus with some inspiration, inspiration on how to begin fixing a problem that had existed for generations. For Albus, there was no time like the present to put those new ideas into practice.
As the hall settled, with everyone now in their seats, Albus strode toward the podium to speak.
"This is a momentous day for Hogwarts, and two of our youngest students. With the eyes of our nation on our school, I can't think of a better time to make a couple of announcements before we get to the real reason we are all here today."
That had Cornelius worried at just what was going on, and hoping Dumbledore's announcements wouldn't overshadow what he himself intended to say next.
"Starting in September, Hogwarts first and second years will be attending a new class. This class is designed to better prepare all our students to deal with the myriad of cultural differences that they face - both inside and then outside these walls. One week, they will be studying the proud heritage and culture of magical Britain. The following week will see that focus shift to the culture and customs of non magical Britain. This biweekly cycle will repeat for their first two years spent attending Hogwarts. For far too long we have expected those joining us from non magical backgrounds to integrate into our culture, without teaching them what that culture actually is. At the same time, we have ignored their culture and views. This is our attempt to readdress both those issues, and hopefully we will all learn together from these experiences. A word of warning however. The type of behaviour and views expressed by a student just before we entered the hall will not be tolerated within these walls."
Everyone listening understood what first year Slytherin was being referred to, and also exactly what the headmaster was saying. A line had just been drawn, a line there would be consequences of crossing. Since these classes only affected the current and new first years, no one really wanted to make an issue of it. The headmaster's next proposal though affected everyone.
"As I said, this is a proud day for Hogwarts. When I look at the beautiful robes Lord Potter and his intended are wearing though, nowhere is there any indication of this. This is no slight on them, rather an oversight on this ancient institution. While they proudly wear their Gryffindor allegiance on their robes, I wonder if they would indulge me for a moment, and allow a small alteration?"
Neither Hermione nor Harry had a clue what Dumbledore was up to but gave their permission. Albus' wand soon had the Hogwarts crest above that of Gryffindor on the sleeve of their robes.
"Students are rightly proud of the house they are sorted into but I feel that, over many, many years, we have lost sight of the bigger picture. Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, Slytherin or Gryffindor - you are all Hogwarts students. Today's event brings honour not just to a quarter of our school, but to all of it. Yes by all means be proud of your house but also remember, your house is part of a greater whole. To help us all remember this, we need a slight change in tradition."
With another wave of his wand, students found their house crest being moved to the sleeve of their robes. Its former prominent position being taken by the school crest, featuring a lion, badger, eagle and snake.
Their were loud gasps coming from the crowd before the sound of applause began to drown them out. McGonagall was the first on her feet and clapping, she was soon followed by the other three heads of house. Augusta led the way for the school board by showing her appreciation of this move with Hufflepuffs throughout the hall being the first students to demonstrate their acceptance of this change. The idea of every student in Hogwarts wearing a badger on their robes really appealed to them. Ravenclaws could see the good ideas behind this move and they too soon publicly supported it.
Without the house tables restricting their location, the students were scattered throughout the hall. Lee was surprised to see the Gryffindor friends he was sitting beside, Fred and George, also stand and applaud.
"You support this? Wearing a snake on our robes..."
"I saw Harry and Hermione stand, that's good enough for us."
George proved though there was always method in their madness. "Beside, if we all stand - who does that leave sitting?"
A grinning Lee then joined his two friends, standing and applauding the changes.
As Dumbledore left the podium, a once more happy minister took the headmaster's vacated spot. Cornelius gave the applause a moment to die down before beginning his own speech.
"Before I say any more, can I add my support to the latest Hogwarts initiative. The two young people we're all here to honour today may have saved four of their housemates, but does anyone doubt those house affiliations affected their decision to rescue them? No, they would have acted nomatter whowas in danger."
Quite pleased with his opening remarks, Cornelius then began to give his prepared speech. A hall full of students, staff, school board members and invited guests had no choice but to sit and listen.
The surprise Cissi expressed at receiving an unscheduled owl from Draco rapidly turned to shock while reading his letter. She'd been cast out of her family, and disinherited.
There were unnoticed tears streaking her cheeks as Cissi's thoughts traveled back all those years. She was sixteen and infatuated with the handsome Lucius Malfoy. That his father was actively trying to arrange a marriage between them helped fuel that infatuation. Her great uncle, and Head of the Black family at the time, wouldn't hear of it though.
"Jumped-up, Frog, swindlers who had to flee France with their tails between their legs..." The Head of the Black Family also doubted the Malfoys' claims of being purebloods, a claim marriage into the House of Black would certainly add credence and credibility to.
She had been resisting all other offers of marriage though her age would see her being forced by her family to accept one soon. Then, the miracle happened. Her older sister, Andi, had also resisted all offers of marriage sent to the family. Andi though had just done the unthinkable, she'd run away and married a muggleborn.
Compared to a muggleborn, her uncle thought marriage to a Malfoy was eminently more respectable. Her Head of Family finally agreed the match. A formal courtship began, followed by a lavish and grand wedding when she was nineteen. Everything in her life was perfect, except for one thing. For years of their marriage, there was no heir to the Malfoy family.
When Lucius became more and more embroiled with the Dark Lord, his interest in her while occupying their marriage bed became less and less. With only Andi of the three Black sisters having so far given birth, Lucius' taunts and barbs that perhaps he married the wrong sister cut deeper every single time. As they celebrated their fifth wedding anniversary, it was only Cissi's conviction that she was a member of a proud house, Black rather than Malfoy, that kept her going. Then, at the age of twenty five, her world was complete - she finally gave birth to a son. Their happiness was almost irreversibly damaged however when baby Harry Potter then defeated the Dark Lord
Being able to portray himself as a loving family man with a young son certainly helped Lucius keep himself out of Azkaban. That, and a lot of gold changing hands. The years following that debacle had been happy ones, though the same trouble that almost cost them so much appeared to be raising its ugly head again.
She was reaching that stage in her live where, in a couple of years, Cissi would have been a Malfoy as long as she had been a Black. There was no doubt which one she considered herself though, and that knowledge had helped sustain her through the bad times of her marriage. Now that was taken away from her, and also from her son. Cissi didn't know how to deal with this blow. A raging Lucius storming into the room wasn't going to help.
Seeing the letter in his wife's hands, and also her emotional state, Lucius reached the right conclusion. "I take it you have just heard from our son? Did the whining little git tell you how he single-handedly managed to get both you and him expelled from the Black family? I'm willing to make a large wager he didn't. I've just had McGonagall on the floo, listing Draco's numerous failings - like those failings were my fault."
Just when Cissi thought the situation couldn't get any worse, Lucius' anger was telling her it was about to.
"Handing Potter this ridiculous award also makes him an adult in our society. He turned up to receive this award with the Potter and Black crests on his robes. This should have warned even an imbecile what the situation was, but not Draco. As you would expect, Potter's intended's robes also displayed the same house associations. Our son then made a spectacle of himself, insisting loudly that the bitch should remove it at once. He proclaimed, in front of hundreds of witnesses, that no mudblood would ever wear the crest of a house he was heir to. Even Lord Black explaining the situation wasn't enough to deter our son from his rant. He then proceeded to insult Lord Potter, heir apparent to Lord Black, further by publicly calling his family filthy muggles."
Cissi was aghast at this development. Whatever you privately thought about someone, there were social niceties that breeding demanded be displayed in public - especially at social occasions.
"I am now left with only two options. Write a formal letter of apology from House Malfoy to Houses Black and Potter, or disown the little git too."
This really shocked Cissi, understanding at once what the implications were. Her husband then spelled it out to her, so there could be no misunderstandings.
"Our marriage was arranged so the Black name could bolster that of Malfoy. It was always known I could never inherit the Black name or fortune, but any sons of ours perhaps could. Draco has now totally destroyed that possibility, and also brought disgrace to the Malfoy name. Since you have been thrown from the Black family, that would certainly be grounds for annulling our marriage contract. I am seriously considering doing so, and then siring another Malfoy heir with a new wife."
As the blows kept coming, Cissi didn't think pointing out that the disgrace Lucius had already heaped on his family name was much worse than this - a mere child's indiscretion. With the damage Lucius had done to his own standing in their society, Cissi also knew the chances of her husband finding another proper pureblood from a good family to marry him had greatly reduced.
"Since starting Hogwarts, Draco has been a major disappointment. If I hadn't already purchased the brooms for Slytherin House, I would simply scrap that entire idea. I now have to consider what situation is worse between the Malfoy donation of brooms and our son still can't get himself selected, or Draco being seeker on a losing Slytherin team. Whatever the outcome, I'm going to have to sit there and watch. I would consider sending him to Durmstrang in September but I fear that experience would break him. Draco doesn't have the guile or strength to stand up for himself at Hogwarts, what chance would he have at Durmsrtang?"
Cissi was used to letting Lucius simply rant away, knowing he would eventually run out of steam. That was not to be the case this time though.
"If I have to write an apology to those houses, Draco is going to pay for it all summer. Our son is soft and stupid, not traits I would allow someone possessing to inherit House Malfoy..."
She was out her seat, standing in front of her husband with both hands on his chest. "Please, Lucius. He's still a boy. Draco needs time..."
Lucius' hands closed over her slim wrists and forced Cissi to her knees in front of him. "I'm prepared to give Draco next year at Hogwarts - no more. This will only happen if there are drastic changes around here..."
She was left with no option but to nod and lower her head. Being cast out of the Black Family left Cissi with nowhere else to go. She was a Malfoy now, for better or worse. Should Lucius choose to terminate their marriage, she and Draco would be left without any family name whatsoever.
Hermione awoke with the feeling she was being watched, she was right. Harry was awake, turned facing her with his head resting in his hand - elevated and supported by his elbow.
"Good morning, beautiful. How is the most precious person in the world to me this fine morning?"
This had Hermione wide awake. "What's wrong? Did you have another memory dream? Oh I thought you might, after what happened yesterday. What was it this time? Please don't tell me you remembered staying at Privet Drive - we're just beginning to get that sorted..."
Hermione was stopped from saying any more by Harry leaning down and capturing her lips. "I really don't deserve you. Not after all the hurt I've caused you - over a stupid bloody broom too..."
"Oh, is that all?"
"All? I looked at you, could see the heartbreak it was causing too, and I did nothing..."
"Harry, every time I look at you I see exactly who I want to spend the rest of my life with. There is nothing we can do about what happened then, and I honestly think we're two different people now. We're much more mature..."
"I don't know about that. Yesterday, when I thought I was going to lose my family forever, I felt like a lost little boy. You were there for me again..."
"...and we'll be there for each other for the rest of our lives. Are you disappointed the Dursleys won't be coming to Sirius' island?"
After thinking for a minute, Harry was able to answer honestly. "Not really. While I think Aunt Petunia would have coped, magic, on top of being abroad for the first time, would have been too much for Uncle Vernon and Dudley. Even as an eighteen year old, none of us had ever been abroad. It's just bad luck they had already booked for the same time."
"It's Neville's first time outside Britain too. It kinda makes me realise how lucky I've been. I just thought everyone went abroad for their holidays."
Smiling at his intended, he asked a question that he thought Hermione might have a better idea of. "Do you think Neville will ask Parvati to join us for a week?"
"If he doesn't, then I think they'll be over. There's no way Neville will be able to keep this to himself, or that he's allowed to invite Parvati for some of the holiday. It's whether he wants them to be over that will make Neville's mind up. Inviting Parvati on holiday will move their relationship to a different level of commitment, one I'm not sure Neville is ready for."
"I saw Parvati eyeing up the Potter and Black house crests on your robes, she seems really keen to have the Longbottom crest on hers one day..."
"...which is exactly why Neville might not ask her. Neville can't ask her as a friend as everyone, especially Parvati, would be reading more into it."
"I assume she's not invited to Crawley?"
This time Hermione was a lot more certain. "Not a chance. That will be Neville, and his gran's time to learn about our society. Just taking them a walk down Crawley High Street should be enough to blow their minds. Neville spending the week in my house should really open his eyes."
"I'm looking forward to staying at Neville's too, then we're off to Privet Drive. What about Malfoy, do you think all these changes we've made will see him slipping the diary to someone else?"
"He might just keep hold of it, Harry. If so, then it will be time to talk to Dumbledore. We'll need to tell him more in September anyway."
Agreeing with that, Harry had more to add. "Dobby should keep us well informed of what's happening with the Malfoys. Best case scenario - he goes after me by slipping you the diary. Should we ask Dumbledore if he can buy some basilisk venom?"
"That's a great idea, love. It might be expensive but a drop should be enough to finish a horcrux. We can even tell Dumbledore what the basilisk venom is for, and bring any horcruxes we get our hands on to him to be destroyed."
"Your mum and dad will love that plan. The only thing I'm not looking forward to this summer is not being able to sleep with you. I've gotten rather addicted to snuggling into my intended every night."
This actually caught Hermione by surprise. "I never thought of that. We'll need to have separate beds on the island, at Neville's and your house. Unless Neville's gran stays the night in Crawley, you should be okay doing your usual and coming into my bed."
That cheered Harry up slightly. "Cool, I thought I was going to miss you for the entire summer..."
"We'll be spending every day of the summer together, but I know what you mean. Now, much as I hate to say it, we need to get up. We both have family to say goodbye to later."
Draco was meanwhile trying to stir up a revolt in Slytherin, with little - make that no - success. "How can you possibly wear robes with that hated symbol on them? I for one won't."
The response from the rest of the house was swift and predictable. "You're already in detention every night this week, Malfoy, so you can do whatever you want. Things can't get any worse for you. Don't go dragging the rest of us into this."
One of the sixth years then really twisted the knife. "You should be wearing the Gryffindor lion on your robes anyway, you've charged right into situations like a Gryffindor all year. The only difference is, they occasionally win their arguments."
With the rest of the house now laughing at him, Draco swore he would never wear the altered robes. Even Pansy pointing out that he wouldn't be able to take classes without wearing them didn't sway his opinion.
They had potions tomorrow with Dumbledore. Since the school badge now being prominently displayed on their robes was Dumbledore's idea, there was no way the Headmaster was going to allow Draco to flout the new Hogwarts dress code.
Pansy could see it wasn't just the Black inheritance Draco had lost, any respect within Slytherin the Malfoy name had given him was also gone. After his latest declaration, the chances of Draco regaining any of that respect were nil. The Slytherin thing to do would be to keep your head down and not draw any unwanted attention, not do the exact opposite by setting off on a crusade already doomed to failure.
Hermione and Harry were saying goodbye to their family, all of whom were heading home with newspapers full of their awards ceremony. A portkey took the Grangers and Petunia to Crawley while Sirius disapparated away from Hogwarts. Turning to reenter the castle wards, neither Hermione nor Harry could miss the sight of a contrite Hagrid standing waiting on them.
"I'm really sorry fer what I did tae yer cousin, Arry."
"Hagrid, muggle boys don't naturally grow pig's tails. My aunt and uncle were forced to take Dudley to a private hospital where he had to undergo a painful and expensive operation..."
"What? A simple 'finite incantatem'...oh."
"Yes - oh. They not only didn't know that, who was going to perform the spell for them? You risked breaching the statute of secrecy and, from someone who's already banned from doing magic, you seem determined to arrange a trip to Azkaban for yourself. Are you that keen to study those poor misunderstood dementors?"
The shudder of fear that passed through their large friend told them Harry had made his point. "Don' even joke about tha', Arry. They really are monsters. I got a little saved. Ain't much but it might help pay fer me mistake..."
Harry shook his head. "I already took care of that. The real damage is more my family were already afraid of magic, you made that fear a lot worse. Hermione and I now need to try and show them magic is not something to be feared, rather a talent that can be used for good too."
Thinking back to his memory dream from last night, Harry felt able to pass on some good advice. "We all make mistakes, Hagrid. It's learning from those mistakes - and not doing it again - that's the important thing. No more tails, and no more baby dragons?"
"I've learned my lesson, an' thanks again. I was so proud o' yeh two yesterday, had ter wipe tears from me eyes. Anyway, I got yeh a little present. Sent owls off ter all yer parents' old school friends, askin' fer photos… knew yeh didn' have any… d'yeh like it?"
Recognising what Hagrid was handing her intended put a wide smile on Hermione's face. She hadn't mentioned this event to Harry, and the surprise was worth it. Watching as one of the most important friendships in Harry's life started repairing itself meant she would be smiling for the rest of the day.
Rather than make a grand entrance, Draco slinked into potions class as soon as the door opened. He also claimed a seat as near the back of the classroom as possible. It was all to no avail though, Dumbledore called him on his lack of school robe while taking the class register.
"Mister Malfoy, your attire doesn't seem to adhere with the standard of dress code set by this school. Kindly go and rectify this oversight at once."
Trying not to show he was shaking, Draco answered the headmaster. "It isn't a mistake..."
"Mister Malfoy, trust me when I say you would be making a grave mistake in pushing this any further. Since you are already assigned detention for the remainder of this term, my only additional disciplinary option is to send you directly home. After your debacle on Saturday concerning Lords Black and Potter, I would have thought giving your parents as much time as possible to calm themselves before you returned home was the wisest option to choose. You can either leave and change, or leave and wait outside my office - I will then take you home when this class is over. Leave this class now, and if you've not returned within ten minutes I will simply assume you've chosen the home option."
Draco strode out of the classroom, quietly closing the door behind him before breaking into a run to his dorm. The angry letters he'd received from both his mother and father meant the Headmaster taking him home today was absolutely the last thing Draco wanted to happen at the moment. His parents were so angry, Draco would be happy to stay away from home until Christmas.
No one was surprised when a now properly dressed Draco quietly slipped back into the class, well within the ten minutes he'd been allocated. It would seem the revolution against the new design of school robes was over before it even got started. Dumbledore just accepted Draco's return, not breaking his lesson with the class to even remark on it.
Hanging back after class, Harry and Hermione waited to talk with Dumbledore.
"Your Aunt's house is now warded the same as Miss Granger's. Since Halloween, I've tended to think of you both as adults. That is the only excuse I can give for not anticipating that particular outcome of your award."
"Thank you, Professor, but it was something else we wanted to talk to you about."
Picking up from her intended's opening, Hermione then managed to shock the great Albus Dumbledore. "In the summer before, one of the items you had suspected of existing made an appearance. It was a miracle no one was killed, but Harry and I don't intend to let things get anywhere near that level this time. Could you acquire some basilisk venom? A drop or two should put an end to any of these items we find."
"We were hoping you could dispose of any we get hold of. That would certainly please Hermione's parents, though I have no intention of telling my family anything about them."
Needing a steadying deep breath before he could answer, Albus quickly agreed to everything they asked. He then had a question though. "Is this not breaking your oath, not to reveal any information of the future to me?"
Shrugging her shoulders, Hermione answered as honestly as possible. "We have deliberately changed things so much that what happens from now on is really unpredictable. We only have knowledge of one of these items, apart from the one now missing from Harry. There are contingency plans in place in case things change but we hope to get hold of it by the end of summer. Come September, I'd hoped the three of us could sit down and discuss what we do next."
"Have things really changed so much?"
Hermione decided to give the headmaster some examples. "The item that we hope to get our hands on this summer actually made its way into Hogwarts, and the Chamber of Secrets was opened again. No bloody way is Harry having to go back down there. Next summer, Sirius Black would break out of Azkaban - after seeing a picture of Ron Weasley with Scabbers. Sirius wanted to protect Harry while the ministry surrounded Hogwarts with Dementors. They had a kiss on sight order for Sirius but those monsters weren't too fussy who they grabbed."
Albus found himself holding onto the potions bench, needing the support to remain standing. "I knew things must have been bad if I helped you achieve the incredible feat you accomplished. I didn't realise just how bad..."
"To be honest, Sir, those were only the warm up years. Things then got a lot worse..."
"Now perhaps you'll understand why we changed so much. Looking at how things eventually turned out, we really couldn't make things any worse than they had gotten."
That his worst fears apparently hadn't come close to how bad things had become saw Albus reinforce his promise to help these two any way he could. "You both really deserve those medals you got presented with on Saturday. Just coming back deserves Orders of Merlin. I have to believe that dreadful outcome you witnessed can be avoided."
"So do we, Sir. The new classes for first and second year will see Muggle Studies having to be totally revamped. Hermione showed me the course and it's ludicrous. With what we heard being planned, next September will have students knowing more about the subject than the professor teaching it. Hermione and I will do our best to shape the future into one we all would like to see, but the magical community have to want these changes. If things start getting anywhere near as bad as they were last time, we had to promise Dan and Emma we would grab our families and run. If magical Britain is determined to self destruct, the three of us would be helpless to stop it."
Taking a moment to centre his thoughts, Albus nodded to confirm Harry's last point was sadly correct. "I really appreciate the trust you have shown me here today. Not only have you given me a glimpse of one possible future, but some idea of the timescale involved too. By working together, I can only hope we three can help build a future where Tom and his death eaters become nothing more than footnotes in the history of our country."
That was something they could all hope for. After that rather intense conversation, sitting down to lunch at the Gryffindor table provided some light relief. Neville had asked Parvati to Sirius' holiday island. To say she was pleased would be a gross understatement. Neville though had taken Sirius' advice and invited Parvati's twin sister too. This way he wasn't spending a week on holiday with just his girlfriend, Padma would be there as a buffer, chaperon and anything else that stopped her twin sister expecting a ring like Hermione's before they were a lot older.
When Susan Bones approached them, saying her aunt had accepted an invitation from Sirius too, Harry and Hermione were delighted. Both wondered what the relationship was between Sirius and Amelia. With Sirius being a wanted criminal the last time, and Amelia head of the department trying to catch him, Hermione had to confess no knowledge of the pair. This time, with Sirius a free man, things were clearly different.
Harry remembered Hermione telling him Amelia had been murdered, leaving Susan to become Malfoy's plaything - until she hanged herself. He seemed to remember the Slytherins, led by Draco, had then moved their attentions on to the Patil twins. These were no longer just names and faces to Harry, rather people he knew who were becoming friends.
When Susan asked if they thought Sirius would let her best friend, Hannah, accompany her on holiday, Harry quickly said he was sure his godfather wouldn't have a problem with that. He would write and ask, just to be sure.
The smile Susan wore at hearing his opinion just convinced Harry of something he'd been thinking about. If things started to go pear shaped in Britain, getting the Grangers and Dursleys out of Britain would no longer be enough. There was no way he could leave Sirius behind, nor could they sit somewhere safe and leave Neville in Britain to face what was coming.
The list was growing though, so it was fortuitous that this summer they would discover just how big this island of Sirius' was. Proposing this solution to Dan and Emma as a viable 'Plan B' might ease their minds. Then again, the people involved in this struggle were becoming more than names to them too. Neville and Augusta Longbottom were already much more than names, with others sure to join that status over the summer. Come September, they would also begin teaching the first two years of students in Hogwarts.
Like it or not, they and anyone else teaching those lessons, would become the faces of muggle Britain to the purebloods in the castle. If they could begin to change minds and attitudes in Hogwarts, then they had a chance. If not, then there was always plan B. As plan B's go, the Black Island sounded pretty good.