Hi, this is the last chapter for the story. Hope you like it.
Harry stood next to Tonks, who he had accepted as a guard, after Professor McGonagall had talked to him again, pointing out that it would put a lot of people at ease if he had one trustworthy adult present. As he quite liked Tonks' easy going personality, he had agreed to let the bubbly auror be present. Not that he didn't make her help with the last-minute preparations.
"Harry, the music is all set and we will go over the dress rehearsal in thirty minutes. The models will do the walking without the clothes, simply to perfect the timing," The wizard in charge of the music called over.
"Thank you, Jake!" Harry called back.
Next to that a group of four swiped over the catwalk and prepared the magical equivalent of spotlights all around.
"Wow, I never thought that I would get to see how a magical fashion show was done," Tonks commented impressed, keeping out of the way of the workforce to not hinder anybody.
"This is just the beginning, Tonks. I plan to start a new era of fashion in the magical world. It will be grand!" Harry declared.
"Don't you dislike your fame?" Tonks asked.
"I dislike the fame I got over the stupid moniker Boy-Who-Lived. They basically praise me for living when my parents didn't. Great way to always call that memory up for me, especially after what the dementors did to me. I want to be known, but for something I actually did. And this, the brand Bolt Fashion, is something I created. I am the one that designed the whole jewellery and some of the designs for the male clothes have been done by me. The female ones were thought up by my top designer, who dislikes the spotlight and therefore stays in the background. And the timing for the fashion show is chosen to allow the dresses that we will present in the category 'Festivities and Celebrations' go on sale for the ball season around Christmas and New Year.
"I invited reporters from Teen Witch Weekly and Witch Weekly to the fashion show, as well as the star reporter of Magical Glamour. I have hired a professional to record the whole fashion show and I have let Sirius and Remus work out how to make a magical version of a telly for my shops. There will be a huge screen where the highlights of the fashion show will be shown to the clients. The same will be done in the muggle world for the muggle fashion show with Versace that I plan. I already got the okay from Versace's legal team for my plans. They plan to do the same in their shops, as they like the idea immensely," Harry explained.
"Wow, just wow," Tonks commented. She couldn't wait to see what the actual show would be like.
Finally, it was time. Harry was dressed in a stylish blue-grey suit, which he wore the jacket of open, with a pristine white button up shirt under it, leaving the top two buttons open. Instead of a tie, he wore one of his leather string necklaces with a ruby red dragon as the pendant, the wings spread threateningly, with small onyxes as eyes. His hair was tied up with a leather band and he went over the script for tonight one more time in his head.
"Alright, Showtime," he declared and the ones manning the special effects nodded.
Music started, they had chosen a theme of classical ballade to begin with, as they didn't want to shock the conservative magicals too much from the start by using something with more beat. A muggleborn that liked to write songs had even written the ballade to fit the show. The first five models stood ready to begin when their signal was given. The first one wore a long, flowing red skirt with a knotted belly top in white with red petal images on the short sleeves. White boots completed the outfit. For jewellery Harry had created a bracelet made of silver with rubies in petal form as well as a matching necklace.
The second model wore a long sleeved emerald blouse that went down to the upper thighs, with sleeves that consisted of four separate loose pieces of see-through material and a decent décolleté. It hugged the woman's body lightly before falling a bit wider at the bottom under the waistline, giving a slight idea of a skirt. Matching to it she wore black leggings and green, short leather boots that had some silver fur on top of them. For jewellery Harry had chosen long, delicate, silver spiralling earrings with small emeralds appearing regularly and a delicate silver necklace with five black and green pearls interchanging at the bottom. They were going with nature themes and colours for the start. The next models represented snow, lava and rain. And the special effects set everything into scene, making it appear as if the model was just part of the element she represented. After those five had had their turn, Harry had to appear outside and give a short welcome speech. He had worked on it for two weeks until he was satisfied and sure he wouldn't forget anything.
He watched on a small monitor how the audience took the fashion and the appearance of the models. He knew that they had never before seen anything like this. Alone the way the models walked up and down the catwalk was new to them. Then it was his turn. They had thought up a nice special effect for his appearance. He put a sonorus charm on his throat and stepped out while a cloud of green and gold smoke changed form to build the trademark of Bolt Fashion directed by charms created by a muggleborn wizard that loved muggle special effects in movies. He walked directly through the now sparkling sign.
"Welcome Ladies and Gentlemen. Welcome to Bolt Fashion's first ever fashion show. I'm happy to greet all of you here at our premises in London!" Harry exclaimed and waited for the applause to lessen before continuing, "Tonight the team of Bolt Fashion will present to you the new spring collection, which will be available in the Bolt Fashion shops from Monday on. My name is Harry Potter and I'm the owner and chief designer for the jewellery branch of the company. Bolt Fashion is a company I founded, as I was asked to promote the fashion of a designer that wanted to have her clothes worn and presented, but disliked being in the spotlight. I agreed to help promote her designs and things spiralled from there. And no, I'm not revealing her name, I have a secrecy agreement with her."
Harry knew he had to stop any kind of investigation right there, officially that was. Nobody would ever find out that his lead designer was a house elf. But the mystery was part of the appeal. And wizards were honestly too stupid to even think of a house elf as the mysterious designer. They would think of a shy witch, or him intentionally misleading them and it was really a wizard.
"Tonight's show is under the motto: Natural Beauty. Any questions can and will be answered at the meet and greet after the show. Please enjoy the show," Harry declared and got some more applause.
Then he walked back while two models wearing long dress gowns with matching jewellery walked down the catwalk and he could only smirk, seeing some of the men in the audience breathe in deeply at how much skin they showed. Well, witches wanted to look good for their wizards without looking cheap. And Harry had made sure to consider that. Well, Winky had, but he had got her reference material from the muggle world to give her some ideas where things could go. And Winky loved designing evening gowns.
Tonks sat at a meeting of the Order of the Phoenix. She had been asked to report about the events at the fashion show. The headmaster really needed to lay off with his attempts to control Harry's life.
"Okay, Tonks, how did it go? Did the old snoozers get heart attacks?" Sirius asked grinning.
"Oh, you should have seen it. It was breath-taking. I'm certainly going to visit Harry's shop on Monday. You should have seen the clothes. Much more modern than what any other shop sells, but very tasteful. He'll earn so much money with that. And yes, some old guys were close to heart attacks I think. While all of the dresses of the female models were fairly conservative by muggle standards, Harry certainly chose clothes that teased horribly. I would bet that several witches will queue up at his shop in Diagon Alley to buy their dresses for the upcoming ball season, as soon as the magazines print their photos. And they were snapping pictures like crazy. I doubt that anybody there had ever seen a witch in leggings.
"It was grand. And the fashion for the males was just as awesome. If I had a boyfriend right now, I would so make sure to drag him to the Bolt Fashion store to get him some of their clothes. They let wizards look really good. And the selection of music and special effects, just wow. I can't believe that Harry set all of that up," Tonks gushed.
"It was very irresponsible of Harry to take such a risk," Dumbledore said.
"Not really. I was shown the security precautions and there was no chance that anybody that wasn't checked by the security guards, which coincidentally included a magical version of a metal detector, which muggles use at their airports to detect weapons, just that those detectors detected anything classified as dangerous, be it potions, weapons, devices or other things was secured on the spot and sent off to the DMLE. Harry arranged a contract with the head of the Magical Law Enforcement Patrol, Stebbins, to have anybody that tried to give them trouble at the show be sent to the interrogation room, to be dealt with by them. Stebbins was more than happy to confirm that for me and he's quite positive towards Harry and his attitude to leave the officials to dealing with troublemakers and not take the law into his own hands," Tonks explained.
"Good for him. The MLEP can be quite annoying if you go over their heads," Kingsley commented," Where did you procure the detector arcs? I don't think they are common."
"They aren't. According to Harry it is a cooperation work between him, the Weasley twins and Penelope Clearwater. Mostly Harry gave the idea and the input what kind of things needed to be detected and the other three worked out the details," Tonks answered, "He will get a percentage of the profit once the twins start selling them."
"Those don't sound like your typical joke shop products, which the twins consistently said they wanted to have," Arthur threw in.
"Harry seemingly convinced them to branch out. He will assist them in the joke shop idea, as long as they add other areas of products as well and help him with things he needs for his own business. Some kind of cooperation, which they have contractually fixed. The contract is Gringotts approved as well. There are no misunderstandings in it anywhere," Tonks explained, "Harry wants to concentrate on fashion for the moment, but he doesn't want good ideas he might have going to waste. The twins were very open for including products into their assortment if they see a good business opportunity there."
"And how does Miss Clearwater fit into that? As far as I was aware, she was the girlfriend of Percy Weasley," Dumbledore asked.
"Oh, Penelope tutored Harry in the great potential that Runes have and they became friends. As she couldn't find a proper job after graduation, due to being a muggleborn, you know how prejudiced things are, Harry offered her a job keeping the books for his company, next to basically being his personal assistant, slash deputy. When Harry is busy with school, Penelope is in charge of the company. It's seemingly a well-working system. And Harry knows how valuable she is for his business. Her salary is a dream."
"While the thing with fashion is harmless, shouldn't Harry concentrate on school right now?" Molly asked.
"Oh, don't worry, his grades are good all over the board. Perhaps not excellent, but definitely all in the range of E's and low O's, the practical parts normally a solid O. He did show off his progress last year in the tournament and impressed a lot of people. I asked him the same question. He will easily pass all his classes for his OWLs. And if the trend of Death Eaters turning into squibs continues, well, he won't have to worry about the war anymore and can concentrate on his business. I mean, we already have six confirmed squibs and three deaths from those that couldn't take the loss of their magic," Tonks said seriously.
"Did St. Mungo's find out by now what caused the problems?" Remus asked.
"They are sure that it centres around the dark mark. It seems to pull the magic of the ones bearing it into it and transfers it to Voldemort. I have no information what might be wrong with him, but it is a very concerning development. Who knows what he might do with that amount of magic?" Dumbledore warned.
"That would be a problem, you're right, but it could as well be that he has problems with his own magic and subconsciously drains his marked followers to sustain his body. It is just a magical construct after all. After hearing the description that Harry gave of what happened after he was kidnapped, I did some research into the ritual. My family's library had the description of the ritual in it. As Harry said that he mostly based it on the venom of his snake, I could do some calculations. Basically Voldemort played a very risky gamble," Sirius pointed out.
"What do you mean, Sirius?" Kingsley asked.
"The ritual creates a fragile shell out of three magical ingredients normally. The more powerful the magic in them, the more durable the shell. As his father was a muggle, like Harry reported, he had to tweak the original ritual to still work. The baby form he had, probably he possessed a magical baby that Peter got for him, was not part of the original ritual. That one was actually meant to give a dark wizard whose body was damaged beyond magical healing, or simply old, a new, more powerful and younger body. It also doesn't have to be the father; it can be any magical ancestor from which the bone is taken. It is 'Bone of the forefather, unknowingly given', in the original ritual. Probably he had no idea where the bones of his mother or her family could be found. The servant that had to sacrifice his flesh was most often a house elf. You couldn't find a more devoted being and the more devoted and the closer the bond between master and servant, the stronger the body created," Sirius listed.
"The most powerful part of the ritual would in this case be Harry's blood then," Dumbledore realised, "It would by far be stronger than Peter's flesh or the venom of the snake."
"Correct. Peter is at best a mediocre wizard. The whole potion was based on the venom of a highly magical snake I think, as no normal snake would grow to the length as Harry described that monster. Now, I think that Voldemort didn't know one critical detail in his plan. Harry's blood isn't entirely human," Sirius stated.
"What do you mean?" Molly asked.
"He was bitten by the basilisk in the Chamber of Secrets and later a phoenix cried into the wound to save his life. And Fawkes again cried into Harry's wound later on. But the second dose of tears was only entered into his bloodstream after his blood was taken forcefully. Now both basilisk venom and phoenix tears are highly magical substances and it takes decades for them to fully be absorbed by the body. Right now they remain in his blood and only their strongest effects cancel each other out. Basilisk venom brings death and Phoenix tears life. But basilisk venom also has the effect to instantly disintegrate any other kind of venom, like say, acromantula or other snake, and phoenix tears speed up natural healing. If you don't take them into account with your potion, you can get very instable results. Especially as your only powerful component in the whole ritual is the tainted blood," Sirius continued, "If anything throws the delicate balance that created the magical body construct off, it would be prone to quickly deteriorating."
"Oh Merlin, I didn't make that connection, but the start of the sickness was one week after Harry and Poppy did that experiment to cleanse Harry's scar on his forehead, the one from where the connection between Harry and Voldemort originates," Remus exclaimed, "If you're right, Sirius, and Harry's magic was the only thing really holding the construct together, then severing the connection could be the grain that tipped the balance. Harry wrote that he was finally free of the dark taint and that he didn't get nightmares and pain from the scar anymore after the cloth worked like he had hoped it would."
"What exactly did they do?" Emmeline asked, professional curiosity as a healer shining through.
Sirius quickly summarized what they had done and Emmeline was very impressed.
"I need to talk to him and see if he can procure more of these cloths. They would be invaluable for healing problematic patients or in case you need to have a constant influence of a potion from the outside," Emmeline decided happily.
"I'm sure he would be happy to help," Sirius nodded.
"You mean it is Harry's fault that all these people are sick and losing their magic?" Dumbledore asked.
"No, it is Voldemort's fault, for branding them, tying their magic to him in the first place, and the Death Eaters' for accepting a brand that basically comes down to a slave brand," Sirius objected harshly, "Not to mention that it was hardly Harry's fault that he was kidnapped right off the Hogwarts grounds in the cursed tournament last year and his blood forcefully taken from him. Harry did what anybody in his situation would have done. He found a way to cut the connection that caused him pain and certainly wasn't good for his body. You have to stop blaming Harry for everything that you don't like, just because he's sick of listening to your hypocritical words."
"Sirius, mind your words!" Dumbledore snapped.
"Oh, does the truth hurt?" Sirius asked sarcastically, "From what Harry told me about his time at Hogwarts, I can fully understand him and as his godfather I fully back him up. It doesn't mean as much anymore, as he was smart enough to realise his chance to get emancipated. And I for one am glad he did. I only hope I can catch Peter in this mess to prove my innocence. But perhaps, with the worst guys on the Wizengamot being sick, there might be a chance for the truth to finally be heard and my name cleared."
"That would be taking a huge risk," Dumbledore argued.
"It's a risk I would be willing to take if I can make sure that only those that actually have an interest in justice being done are present. I will go out and see if I can find Peter. I know how he thinks. I managed to track him down in 1981 thanks to that after all. Once I can present him, the DMLE would be forced to roll up the case from the start, as one of their main accusations isn't viable anymore. And with the statements of Harry, Hermione, Ron and Remus, there would be enough support to harden the statement. It would have been a lot easier if you had used your influence when you were still Chief Warlock to get this at least investigated by the DMLE, but now I have to use other means," Sirius declared.
Dumbledore really didn't like the looks he was given. Why couldn't people simply take his word for things?
It was Monday morning and the owls that delivered the morning mail had many of the special editions of Teen Witch Weekly to get to the many witches at Hogwarts that had a subscription to the popular magazine. Thanks to Lavender and Parvati, all the students at Hogwarts knew that Harry Potter had held a fashion show at his London branch of Bolt Fashion and that this morning the pictures and reports about it would appear in the magazine. The number of owls was high and many girls eagerly freed the owls from their burdens, immediately unwrapping their magazines. The cover had a photo of Harry surrounded by the models that had participated in the show, fireworks behind the group.
For about ten minutes it was silent, then many girls rushed towards Harry to pester him with questions about the new clothes, when they would be available, a possible branch in Hogsmeade and much more. Harry took it in stride and answered the many questions, as long as they weren't too personal. Some boys also wanted to know a bit about the men's line of clothes and Harry informed them that he would give each house three catalogues for Bolt Fashion's assortment so that they could all peruse the offers in their free time. He swiftly drew twelve catalogues from his school bag and handed three off to the Ravenclaws, Hufflepuffs and Slytherins. The three catalogues for Gryffindor were quickly snatched up by Lavender, who shared it with Parvati and the Quidditch girls, Ginny, who took it over to her year mates, and Hermione, who wanted to know what her best friend was really up to.
"I can't believe that you would really go through with this," Ron commented, disbelieving, "I mean, why fashion?"
"Fashion is something that constantly changes and which can earn you much money. And it is much more interesting, and not to mention safer, than chasing dark wizards down. I really like this prospect for my future much better than what people simply expected without knowing me," Harry replied.
"Oh, that evening gown is so pretty!" Ginny exclaimed excitedly," And it wouldn't clash with my red hair at all. And you can get it for just three galleons. That is a bargain!"
"Huh, how can you afford to sell dresses for that little money, Harry?" Hermione asked, after having looked through the catalogue.
"I have ways to get the raw materials cheap. Very few of the clothes have charms on them and they are all part of the higher prize segment. You need special materials for charms to stick. Though I think I have found a new way to circumvent the requirements, but it's still experimental. Therefore, I won't tell you more about it. If I can get it working, it will be another great cash cow. And you have to keep in mind that three galleons are one hundred and fifty Pounds, Hermione. While that might not be that much for an evening gown, it is still a lot of money for the average teenager. I have intentionally had my designer work out which materials could be used for which price class.
"By the way, you can get all the clothes in the catalogue in two price classes. The one made from non-magical materials is about a third of the price that the magical variant costs. My shop has both stored, as I don't have numbers yet of which kind would be more popular. For the catalogues it is even easier. You can order the dress, blouse or whatever you like, give your measurements, which a magical tape can transfer to an order form, which I will also place into all the common rooms, and then it can be tailored to fit you perfectly within a day or two at most, if it isn't already in storage.
"My group of tailors has made sure to prepare enough of each kind of product to serve the first storm on the shop. I actually expect an owl tonight to hear how it went. To be on the safe side, I hired two more shop assistants to manage the onslaught," Harry informed her.
"Are you that sure that it will last? I mean, for the moment people will flock to your store, no doubt about it, it is new and your name always draws publicity. Not to mention that the magazines will have fired people up into checking things out for themselves. But what after that is over with?" Hermione asked.
"I planned ahead. I am in negotiations for store space in Hogsmeade. Once the rush on the store in Diagon Alley has calmed down, the additional assistants will be transferred to the Hogsmeade branch. Or, depending on how good they are, split up among the stores while the more experienced workers take the lead. And I made sure to employ muggleborn witches that have a great eye for colours and know how to give customers good advice. I'm going to copy the concept of successful fashion stores in the muggle world by offering the best kind of service. Something that is new to the Wizarding World," Harry explained grinning.
Hermione couldn't really refute that. And she liked that Harry gave some muggleborns, which were often disadvantaged, good jobs and perspectives for the future.
Harry was in discussion with Winky about optimising her work and cutting down on his costs in the production process. Winky had had a great idea, as one of her house elf friends had told her how he had seen how wool was turned into cloth, be it from sheep or from cotton wool plants. Winky needed a few more helpers to meet the demand, which had even surpassed Harry's best case scenario. The witches and wizards had basically stormed his shop in Diagon Alley when the new collection was on sale.
Thankfully he had smart assistants manning the shop and they had created a well-working system. Either, if the customer didn't want to wait, they could set up an appointment to have one assistant concentrating on them, which about half of the customers had happily done, being actually impressed with the offer existing. They could book the assistant for half an hour to an hour, which only cost them a small extra fee. But wealthy customers didn't mind that. Others that didn't want to pay for the service were directed to a small ticket machine, copied from the muggle world, to let the customer draw a number and the assistants would work through the customers in that order.
If you had a higher number, you could for example leave the shop to get some other purchases done, which gave the assistants more space to work. They had asked Harry to hire more workers, as the interest wasn't lessening at all after two weeks, and Harry had already held another day of job interviews and chosen two more muggleborns, one man and one woman, to start working on Monday. He had also asked Dobby if he knew any additional free house elves that were looking for work and had got two young elves that couldn't be kept by their former families.
They were sent to assist Winky to keep up with the demand. Winky was both training and supervising their work, as the chosen head elf for Bolt Fashion. Dobby was the general head elf for the Potter family elves. Dobby had also had the idea of setting up a small tea room with fashion magazines to read in the shop to make waiting less irritating for the customers. One of the other Potter elves kept the tea ready, together with biscuits, and it had proven to lessen the stress for the assistants and customers a lot.
"Alright, we can see if we can make this work, but we would need more house elves for the project, Winky," Harry agreed with his elf's proposal to create the materials needed for the clothes themselves to cut down on costs.
Buying the raw cotton wool and sheep wool was certainly much cheaper than having to buy the cloth, which had already put the costs for the production in it. And with magic it was very easy to achieve great quality if you knew what to do. And Winky had assured him that there were some more house elves that needed good new homes that knew how to do this. Many families, thanks to having taken the dark mark, were dwindling in numbers, therefore losing the ability to keep house elves bound to them. And if Harry acted quickly, he could snatch up a few of them for little gold, as the families that owned them would be happy to get the gold and let a number of unhappy elves go.
The Nott family had long since held a monopoly in the cloth supply industry in Great Britain, the magical part at least, and both of Theodore Nott's parents were among the patients that were losing their magic. His grandfather had died from the 'disease'.
"How would we go about getting the elves? The Death Eaters will hardly sell them to me after all," Harry asked.
"Oh, we only need to wait, Master Harry," Winky assured him, "All house elves feel when the magic that binds them becomes too weak. If Winky tells them that Master Harry is willing to take them on once they are free, they will come to Winky immediately so that you can bind them to the Potter family."
"So I wouldn't even need to pay gold to their families?" Harry asked.
"No. Only those from families that are good would need that. And Winky thinks that with the elves from the bad families we would for now have enough elves. You can still offer to buy elves that simply don't have work anymore to help the family out. It would make you look good in public, Master Harry," Winky told him.
She had learned a lot about public image and diplomacy while working for Barty Crouch. And she had been teaching Harry how to present himself to not only be taken serious by adults, but also how to avoid negative images. She knew that if anybody knew that she was the one designing the clothes, it would look bad and the sales would fall. Therefore, she wanted nobody but her master to know. If anybody found her working on a dress, she could say that she was one of the elves working for Harry, not a lie, and everybody would simply assume that after the design was decided upon, the house elves took care of getting the production done. Not that unusual in the wizarding world. Nobody would draw the right conclusions.
"Hm, if we get enough house elves, we could perhaps even grow our own cotton wool with time. Might be a project for the future. I know from the muggle world that clothes from natural sources are much higher regarded than synthetically made ones. I would think that it will be similar in the wizarding world. Perhaps some silk worm farm as well to add that material to our product range. Silk is the most expensive material we buy right now after all," Harry pondered.
"It's definitely worth looking into, Master Harry," Winky agreed.
"Well, keep me updated on the freed house elves front and spread the word that I'm willing to employ all the elves that need a new home. We definitely have more than enough work for them all," Harry told Winky.
"Winky will do so," She promised happily.
"I'm going to concentrate on the Versace show for the time being, please only call me if something really important comes up. With how this will also make my name known in the muggle world and open up roads to establish my brand there further, I need to concentrate on making sure that everything goes well," Harry said and Winky assured him that she would take care of everything.
Harry looked around the rooms given to the ones that were part of the fashion show with interest. As he was still considered a minor in the muggle world, he had asked Tonks if she would mind accompanying him. She had agreed immediately, as she was very curious how Harry's designs would be taken by muggles. The last month since his fashion show in London had given his shop a huge amount of traffic and the MLEP had to arrest some thieves that fell to the wards of the shop. Many thought that they could take advantage of a young entrepreneur and his probably lax security measures. They thought wrong. Harry had let Sirius, who had taken polyjuice potion to do the job, which he was grateful for, as it got him out of his hated house, set up anything that was legally allowed.
The Blacks with their paranoia knew more about wards of all kinds than even the goblins. By now Sirius could come over to help out at the shop in person. He had succeeded, with the help of Remus, to catch Peter, who couldn't transform into a rat anymore, as his magic level was too low for that. Ironically, the only reason why he wasn't a full squib yet was the life debt that he owed Harry. A healer at St. Mungo's had determined that the still open debt kept his magic, just a little of it, tied to his person. Sirius and Remus had caught him when he had left Knockturn Alley wearing a hooded robe. Overwhelming him was laughably easy, as his one actually impressive ability was turning into a rat. And that required much more magic than he had left.
He had been given veritaserum in front of the Wizengamot and it had started a whole avalanche of events. Madam Bones was not amused that the Minister had withheld important information from the DMLE and had tried to take law into his own hands, when the criminal was already apprehended and secured. Not to mention that brushing off the statements of eye-witnesses, no matter their age or if they had lycanthropy, was against the law. She especially exploded when she found out that Sirius had never had a trial. Fudge had claimed the Black case under his authority and had kept all files locked up in his office. It was clear from the files that there hadn't even been a proper interrogation after he had been arrested.
It got Sirius his freedom back, plus a large amount of gold in compensation for his suffering unjustly at Azkaban. Right now Sirius was at St. Mungo's for treatment. He would be let go on Christmas eve, which was why he couldn't come today.
"It's different to your own fashion show," Tonks commented.
"Well, this is an established designer's show after all. I'm a newcomer in the business," Harry replied.
None of them commented that the special effects from his show couldn't be replicated without magic. Not in reality at least. It would be different in movies. With computers a lot of things were possible now.
"Ah, Mr Potter, nice to see you again," The Scout that had asked if he would do a joint fashion show with Versace greeted him.
"Mr Napla, good to see you as well. This is my cousin, Dora Tonks. She agreed to accompany me, as my guardian was indisposed tonight," Harry introduced them, "Dora, this is Mr Napla, the scout that asked if I wanted to create a special collection of jewellery just for this fashion show."
"Nice to meet you, Mr Napla," Tonks said dutifully and shook the man's hand, who returned the greeting.
"Mr Versace is busy with the last minute preparations currently, but he told me to ask you to meet him after the show. He was very impressed with the designs you came up with after he sent you the designs for the clothes that will be presented tonight. Especially the ones that you only had a general description of what he wanted," Mr Napla informed Harry.
"I'm happy to hear that. It was fun and a challenge to match my designs to those of another designer," Harry replied.
"The show starts in twenty minutes. You will only be required to appear on stage for the final walk, when both you and Mr Versace will present yourselves to the audience. For the rest of the show, we have reserved a private balcony for sponsors to enjoy the show. An assistant will come and inform you when it is time to come down to the stage," Mr Napla explained.
"That's fine. Thank you, Mr Napla," Harry agreed and then followed the assistant that waited for them to the balcony.
Once they reached the balcony, many eyes looked at them questioningly, but Harry met them with a charming smile, which he had practiced for some hours in front of the mirror, and introduced himself. A good number of them were now interested in finding out more about him and his brand, which led to him making more contacts and exchanging business cards. Harry always carried some with him for just this purpose.
Finally, it was time for the show to start and Harry and Tonks took their seats. Harry also had a notebook out to make notes on what kind of dresses would be presented at the show, which could serve as an inspiration for his own shops. While he currently mostly concentrated on the magical side, he did have a number of shops in big cities in the muggle world as well. Their assortment just wasn't as large as it was in the wizarding world. But he guessed that his jewellery assortment would gain a lot more prominence after this show.
Tonks watched how easily Harry talked with Versace and some other big names in the fashion scene after the show was over. It had been different to the show Harry had held at his shop, but no less impressive. Especially if you considered that it was all done without magic. The dresses were simply a dream, but she knew that most were out of her price range. But that was okay. She had seen how Harry wrote down things that he liked and she would bet that similar dresses and clothes would be available in his shop in the near future.
She got to talk with a few others around there as well including some of the models that had presented the clothes. It was interesting to find out how disciplined you had to be in this kind of job and how hard the competition was. Super models might earn large amounts of money, but they also had to really look out what they ate each day and keep fit to manage. They also had little free time, as they could be called for jobs all over the world at a moment's notice. The job came with benefits and disadvantages alike.
Still, seeing her cousin shamelessly flirting with one of the younger models, a pretty brunette that had seemingly decided to tease Harry, but which didn't work out like she had imagined, was great. She would have so much that she could tell Sirius and Remus once they were back. Harry probably wouldn't, for fear of being teased mercilessly by the two Marauders. She made sure to make some photos with a muggle camera. She could after all easily develop the film with the needed potion to let them move afterwards.
Harry also got a few more offers and orders for jewellery, which he wrote down in his notebook and promised to have the deliveries ready at the end of the Christmas break. His business really seemed to be taking off well. She just hoped that it would continue. She really did. Harry had had enough problems in his life and he deserved this success that wasn't fraud with danger to his life. If only Dumbledore would stop interfering.
After the fashion show in Dublin, Tonks took Harry back to Grimmauld Place. Sirius would be out of St. Mungo's the next day and she couldn't wait for him to hear how Harry's first involvement into a muggle fashion show had gone. Harry certainly had many orders to get done now, but he had told her that he could easily manage. Once he had finished a design, he could let his house elves work on preparing the required number of copies. When asked how he could afford that many precious stones, he had just grinned and claimed a business secret.
Contrary to the summer, when there hadn't been many rooms ready for inhabitation and the teenagers had needed to share rooms, this time around, the rooms were all cleaned out and safe to use. Sirius had also made sure to bring one of the family bedrooms up to date and had given it to Harry, well, more like told Tonks to let Harry sleep there when he was back from school, as he was still hospitalised. Tonks certainly approved of his actions and Harry appreciated finally having a real room of his own. The one at Privet Drive had always been his cousin's second bedroom, never his.
He had immediately decided to put the spell Sirius had put onto the walls to good use. Sirius, not knowing which colour Harry would prefer his walls to be, had put a voice activated colour changing charm onto them, keyed to Harry's voice. Two passwords could activate the charm and lock the result. Harry loved it, as it also allowed him to change the look of his room whenever he felt like having a change, without having to invest loads of work with painting the walls in the colour he wanted. At the moment he had locked the walls at a crème colour and had the curtains of his four poster bed in a dark blue. The ceiling was changed to be a different colour than the walls. Sirius had interestingly put a separate charm on each of the walls and the ceiling. At night Harry had the ceiling show a dark background with white, softly glowing stars. He had always loved the sight of a night sky with lots of stars on it.
Within a few minutes he was ready for bed, as it had been a long day. When he had arrived, Winky had made sure that his clothes and other possessions, which he had had in his school trunk, were all put away neatly and then returned to her work. She was deliriously happy to have such an important job and even have a number of other house elves following her orders for Bolt Fashion matters. Harry was just looking forward to his first real family Christmas in his life.
When Sirius arrived the next day, he looked a lot better than before. He had again filled out and a good deal of the haunted look he had given before was gone. It wasn't fully dealt with, there still were noticeable traces, but a lot fewer than before. Harry greeted him happily and told him about his success with the combined fashion show in Dublin and how many orders for jewellery he had got from the guests there. Many also had a hard time taking in that a fifteen years old teenager was the one creating the 'Creative and Gorgeous Gems', simply as a hobby at the beginning.
Of course Tonks had to add her two cents and Sirius got a good laugh from her descriptions of Harry shamelessly turning the tables on the models that thought they could make him blush and stutter when they flirted with him. After a good breakfast, Anny, one of the new house elves that Harry had hired and who had been asked to take care of Grimmauld Place, as Kreacher couldn't be relied on, had made pancakes and waffles, as she knew that her master loved anything that could be eaten with treacle, Sirius took Harry with him to select decoration for the Christmas tree and the remainder of the house.
They spent the rest of the morning first getting a Christmas tree from the forest, they couldn't really decide which one to take and needed until lunch to have compromised on one they both liked. In the afternoon they continued with putting up decorations around the house, with Sirius teaching Harry wizarding Christmas songs, some of them Harry was sure he had made up. But his good mood was infectious and he was happy like never before. Ally made sure that they had biscuits and tea after they were done and the two were truly proud how the house looked like. There were two large socks next to the fireplace, with four smaller ones a bit father to the right. The two large ones were of course for Harry and Sirius, the smaller ones for the only remaining relatives of Sirius that he could stand, his cousin Andromeda Tonks and her family as well as Remus Lupin.
Remus had promised to come over to spend Christmas with them and the Tonks were invited for dinner. They spent the rest of the afternoon and the evening exchanging stories, some they had experienced and some that Sirius had been told when he had been a kid. They went to bed around ten, to be able to get up early for Christmas. Both were looking forward to the day.
Albus Dumbledore nursed a glass of firewhiskey. It was the afternoon of Christmas Eve. He normally didn't take to drinking that kind of strong drinks, but he decided that the occasion required it. He had just got a report from the healers at St. Mungo's. As one of his teachers was treated there for the mystery disease, he managed to be kept updated on how all the patients were doing. And up until yesterday there had only been five Death Eaters, including Severus Snape, that still had had magic. Ever since the early hours of the morning that number was down to zero. Severus Snape was a squib. Others in the early phase of the disease being noticed had died. Nothing the healers tried could stop the drain on their magic, they just had found a way to prevent the victims dying from the problem after the first two weeks of the problem being noticed. As long as they reported to St. Mungo's of course. The ones staying at their homes often didn't manage it.
It was a hard blow for their country, even if few people would acknowledge that fact. It only showed how far the cancer of Tom's ideology had grown into the oldest families of their country. Not to mention that the first number had died by the hands of Harry Potter, when he had been kidnapped at the end of the Triwizard Tournament. But that was chalked off as self-defence under duress. While he had tried to make Harry see that the use of those spells wasn't something he should pursue, the boy had ignored him and dared to ask how else he would have been able to survive that kind of odds against him.
Miracles didn't happen twice and only a fast wand and shocking the opponent could let you get away with your life. And Alastor had been on the boy's side in that, actually praising how he had kept his head under fire.
With the loss of their magic, they would be unable to keep their jobs or positions of influence. It would mean that others would take over and with their different opinions came a change of direction. Normally he wouldn't have cared, it could only be positive if extreme dark leanings disappeared, but the number of people that were replaced would make this shift too abrupt. Their society wasn't good at dealing with major changes. They needed time. Time they wouldn't get. Squibs, by law, weren't acceptable as heads of a family. And most families that had lost their family heads now only had underage heirs, leaving their spots open until they graduated from Hogwarts.
A vacuum of power that others would attempt to fill before the children could even try to continue the path of their parents. But it also painted a clear vision of what would happen in a few years, when they were old enough to take their positons. Squabbling at the Wizengamot over the tiniest issues, as the heirs would try to get their way with blunt demands, like they were used to up until now. Just that there wouldn't be anybody letting them get away with it, as the power of their parents was already lost. The opinions of squibs held no swing in their world. All laws were against them. Then businesses having to deal with inexperienced owners, after all the laws also didn't allow squibs to own or lead businesses in the magical world. All his work towards changing that in the past had been laughed off by the ones that now suffered from it. He didn't like it.
When he had just poured his glass anew, his floo activated.
"Albus, you have to come and see this!" Healer Cartwright called from the flames.
"What happened Jeremiah?" He asked.
"It's unbelievable. Come through please. I can't believe it myself. The dark marks on all our patients' arms, they are fading!" The healer exclaimed.
"What? I'm coming through directly," Dumbledore declared and the healer's head disappeared, his glass with whiskey forgotten on his desk, "St. Mungo's Hospital, Healer Cartwright's office."
With those words he stepped into the green flames and was taken to the hospital. When he arrived, Jeremiah Cartwright, the leading healer for the disease, took him to one of the rooms where the patients were kept.
"It's unbelievable. We have been monitoring the patients, as we feared that becoming a squib might not be the end of the tragic disease, but just ten minutes ago, the nurses that were on watch all came running to my office, reporting the fading of the marks, Albus," Cartwright said.
"Could you determine any reason?" Dumbledore asked.
"We have some theories, but not enough proof," Was the answer.
When they entered the first room, Dumbledore recognised a number of Death Eaters that all looked unresponsive.
"We noticed that the speed was slow in the beginning. But with each victim that lost his magic or died, the speed increased. We suspect, based on your reports about the return of You-Know-Who in June, which the Ministry really should have taken serious, that something with the ritual had delayed effects. He has been drawing magic from his followers and anything else he could access. We have suspicions about dark artefacts, as he was known to collect them. It is possible to use imbibed magic from such devices to keep yourself alive in emergency situations. It's documented in medical research.
"The dark mark has been known to be a direct line through which he could contact his followers at the end of the last war. Now it seems that whatever hit him, was too much for him to deal with just working on his own magic. He drew any magic he could into his body, but it wasn't enough," Cartwright explained.
Dumbledore inspected the left arms, which were all laid bare to let the healers notice if there were any changed in the focus point of the disease, and saw what Healer Cartwright meant when he said it was fading. There was only the faintest outline left. That could only mean one thing.
"He's close to death. Much closer than when he lost his body after he killed Lily and James and couldn't kill Harry," He spoke.
"We thought the same. We can't prove it fully, as the Ministry is still denying everything, even with the number of Death Eaters that all were hospitalised because of this sickness, but I would say with some certainty that, as soon as these marks are gone forever, we will be rid of You-Know-Who for good this time," Healer Cartwright stated.
"That would be the only good part of this tragedy. No matter what kind of mistakes these people made, to lose your magic is too hard a punishment," Dumbledore sighed.
"Well, at least they might escape Azkaban. No matter what Amelia Bones and Rufus Scrimgeour tried, Fudge was stubborn and didn't want to hear anything about a possible involvement of these people in crimes, they were all 'upstanding pureblood citizens'. Well, not so much magical anymore now. Things will change and I for one, am glad that we can finally get some better people into their spots. Their children normally have at least three years until they graduate from your school. Try drilling some sense into them. We don't need a repeat of the seventies and early eighties, Albus. This is a great chance for our country. We haven't been drawn into a war again. We should use that," Cartwright commented.
"I will certainly try. I will be busy over the next few days. I need to find a new Potions Master, now that I can't keep Severus employed anymore," He sighed.
"Well, he never produced good results. We had a lot of trouble getting enough candidates for healer training. His own knowledge and skills none withstanding, the man wasn't a teacher, Albus. I would have rather had him do research and publish his results than dealing with him teaching innocent children with his kind of temper. I would have happily let him be part of our research department, if you hadn't kept him on a short leash. I know you had your reasons, but in the end, it harmed the students. Just some food for thought. Look for a person that can actually teach first and with brilliance about the subject second," Cartwright stated his opinion.
Dumbledore didn't have it in him to actually defend his former Potions teacher anymore. Too many things were happening now and the only good part was that the threat of Voldemort would soon be gone. Well, perhaps it was time that he let Minerva take over. He suddenly felt very old. People had been giving him trouble for months now and all his plans for the future, the way he thought Voldemort needed to be defeated, had all been wrong. Harry hadn't needed to face off against him. It seemed, it had been enough that he got rid of the horcrux in his scar, which an established potion, used in a new way, had achieved, when all his books on the topic had declared it impossible. When he had given up on finding a way to save the boy. He had worried about being able to find all the other horcruxes, find out what they were, how many more there were and he was still just at the beginning of his investigations. Now that was a moot point.
It seemed that in his desperation to get enough magic to survive in his new body, he had also drained his horcruxes of their magic. It being his own magic made them ready recipients of his draining actions. Probably not even intentional. Tom feared death more than anything. The feeling of his magic leaving him, bringing him closer to death, must have caused a subconscious reaction. The mark wouldn't fade if there was still even one horcrux left.
He was really too old to continue like this. Perhaps he could return to Godric's Hollow and spend the rest of his days there in peace, writing books about Alchemy and Transfiguration. He certainly still had a lot of things he could pass on to the next generation. Occasional visits to his beloved Hogwarts would also certainly keep him in high spirits. He would discuss things with Minerva when he returned. And he had to send an owl to the members of the Order to spread the good part of the news.
Sirius read the letter from the owl that had arrived in the morning, just after they had had breakfast. He and Harry hadn't been able to wait with opening their presents and had made a huge mess out of the lounge where the Christmas tree was located. Well, Sirius more than Harry. He had to read the letter twice to really believe what it said. Then a huge grin appeared in his face.
"Hey, Harry, really good news!" He announced.
"What's the matter, Sirius?" Harry asked curiously.
"Voldemort is dead!" Sirius cheered, "And Snivellus is a squib. For some reason Dumbledore is sorry about that."
"Really?" Harry asked excitedly, "They will finally leave me alone?"
"Yes. Dumbledore has called for a meeting of the Order of the Phoenix for the twenty seventh, as he wants to let us all enjoy Christmas. He just wanted to tell us the most important good and bad news in short form beforehand. Well, I only consider it good news," Sirius commented.
"Yes! I'm finally free!" Harry cheered, jumping around the room, "No more death traps and people trying to push me into directions I don't want to"
"This calls for a celebratory drink. I'll get some bottle of elven wine from the basement," Sirius declared, but the bottle appeared on the table, together with two glasses.
"Thank you Anny!" Sirius called out. He loved that new elf. Soon he had the glasses filled and handed one of them to Harry. "To a glorious and peaceful future!"
"To the future!" Harry repeated and both drank the wine, which Harry decided he certainly liked a lot.
He had trouble believing it, but this would be the turning point for his future. And he had done nothing to get the undeserved fame this time around. There were still problems in their world, but the adults could deal with them now. He was just a normal teenager, one that had great plans for his future. He would build up his business and become a very rich man. But now that the dark shadow over him was gone, it would be a lot easier than before.
This would certainly be a Christmas he would always keep in mind, as long as he lived.
The beginning of a new life, with family, friends and a safer world, with the extremists being largely decimated, simply because they allowed a maniac to brand them like cattle. Well, he could easily live with that.
Now he only had to convince Hermione to lay off his study schedules. Well, you couldn't have everything.
I know that there are a few loose ends from here on, but not enough to make a full chapter on them. I leave it to your imagination how this might develop :)