Summary: Successful campaigns cannot be fought when its leaders have different goals. Book Two of the What A Difference A Father Makes series.
Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter. JK Rowling is fucking him up all on her own.
A Scattered War
Harry slumped forward on the bench put aside for duellists, letting them get a ringside seat of the action. One of many perks of being a participant in the European Duelling Circuit.
Daphne winked at him as she took the steps and blew him a kiss when he grinned up at her.
He ran a hand through his hair as he watched the blonde reach the middle of the platform. Her rather concerned looking opponent only managed to grimace as Daphne smiled radiantly.
'Ladies and gentlemen! At long last we have the final for the Underage Witch's Amateur Tournament,' one of the commentators said through a Soronus charm, his faint Spanish accent not lost through the magic. 'And I've gotta admit, I wasn't expecting this sort of match up. A rookie taking on a seasoned veteran, I love when this sorta upset happens don't you Philopus?'
'I couldn't agree more Raphael,' Philopus said, his own Greek accent much more pronounced. He spoke slowly, as if considering each word to make sure he was saying what he meant. 'Especially when she's given us such a show … this newcomer has definitely been showing us just what the Brits can do. I just hope she doesn't run out of steam now she's against a previous champion. Especially when this is Gertson's final underage tournament. Sissy will want to end on a high.'
Harry snorted. Yeah, cus Gertson there was any sort of challenge to his girl. Sissel Gertson may be a previous champ but she'd had much weaker match ups than Daphne and only just won her semi-final. Daphne had all but walked her matches.
The Norwegian witch didn't appear to be missing that fact either, the sweat on her brow couldn't just be from the Spanish sun. Norwegian or not, it's not like she was wearing anything heavy.
Merlin bless the designers of battle robes. They probably hadn't made them so form fitting for the reasons Harry liked, but he considered it a happy coincidence. It certainly enhanced the parts of his girlfriend that had … ahem … grown over the summer.
The ref, a black woman with silver teeth mixed in with her normal ones, ran the girls through the usual pre match steps. Checking for enchantments and anything that might give one competitor an edge over the other. It was surprisingly exhaustive but then again, people did get competitive.
The arena itself was built on Isla Torralva, halfway between Barcelona and Corsica. One of the very last all magical islands in Europe. It was mostly populated by Spanish wizarding families but it wasn't uncommon to find French, Italian or even Algerian households. Nearly all were dedicated to duelling and tourism. Most of the streets had some kind of hotel or restaurant on them.
They made a killing during the summer and mostly spent the rest of the year holding minor tournaments to tide them over. It'd be a nice place to live Harry supposed, but he'd miss the UK. Home was home.
With a shine of her silver teeth, the ref deemed both competitors clear and bid them to the starting positions. The protective wards flickered to life with a wave of the ref's wand. A rainbow of colours flashed between each of the stone pillars that marked the boundary.
Daphne stared down her opponent, the side profile of her damn impressive as she dropped into the ready stance he'd taught her at the very beginning of their lessons last school year. She'd got it damn perfect now. It was … hot.
'Looks like we're ready to go!' The Spanish commentator shouted. 'Witches and wizards young and old, I give to you your finalists! The explosive newcomer from Great Britain! The fifteen year old rookie looking to make a name for herself … Daphne Greengrass!'
The packed arena roared its approval as Daphne waved out with a stunningly beautiful smile. The blonde kept smiling as the roaring slowly dissipated.
'And her opponent, two time champion! The Valkyrie from Vestfold! The Terror of Tønsberg! Sissel Gertson!'
The crowd screamed in excitement, the blonde Scandinavian smiled tightly up at them as a chant of something in Norwegian travelled around the arena. They weren't kidding on calling her a Valkyrie. Gertson was nearly a full foot taller than Daphne and her muscled legs were clearly seen through her light brown battle robes. She had experience and pure brute strength over Daphne but she'd always been a bit arrogant when duelling underdogs.
Daphne was gonna put her on her arse.
A whistle exploded into life from the ref's wand and drew Harry's attention back to the match.
Daphne snapped off the first spell, a slippery little curse that pulled out your legs from under you.
Gertson sidestepped the spell and lashed out three quick fire curses, stunners and a Bombarda if Harry had to guess, it was hard to hear over the shouts of the crowd.
The younger witch dodged the stunners and all but batted the third spell away like an annoying insect. Ropes and ice flew from Daphne's wand and while the older witch dodged the ropes the ice caught her in the side and earned a snarl.
The Norwegian witch went on the attack, not keen to be shown up by a newbie, and started hammering Daphne with spell after spell. Her shield charm took the brunt of the damage but with each fresh blow, Daphne was pushed closer and close to the edge.
It wasn't looking good as Gertson slashed down and shattered Daphne's shield. With a hiss of pain Daphne rolled out of the follow up spell and cast more ropes at her opponent.
Caught unawares, one of Daphne's ropes wrapped around Gertson's wand arm and started to constrict so hard Gertson nearly dropped her wand, giving the Hogwarts student a chance to put some distance between them.
The ropes hit the floor just as Daphne was casting a stunner of her own and the taller blonde rebounded the curse back so fast Daphne barely had time to roll out of the way. Red light splattered against the ward and was quickly followed by another light from the other side. The rainbow hue faded away.
Daphne rolled forwards, landing on her feet and cursing after Gertson. The older witch stood her ground and dodged or blocked each bolt of magic sent her way. She was so focused on blocking Daphne's attack she didn't catch the sickly green spell that collided with the back of her skull.
A scream filled the air as Gertson tumbled forward, the wards dropping as one of the stone pillars crumbled under the body of one of the announcers.
Wizards and witches in silver masks and black robes swarmed in from above and before Harry knew what had happened Death Eaters had overrun the arena.
He vaulted up onto the platform without thinking, he had to get to Daphne, they could better defend each other if they were together. At least until help came.
Daphne turned to him as he got within talking distance. Scared eyes widened as ghostly green shone in her face. She fell and he had to slide to catch her. His arms cradled her on the stone platform.
An evil chuckle pierced his mind and Harry was back on the floor screaming and clutching at his head.
They will all die Harry Potter. You can do nothing to save them. You will all die.
'DAPHNE!' He screamed until his throat was raw and he desperately pulled her face up to see only vacant eyes. 'NO!'
'NO!' Harry screamed as the covers exploded away from him. 'NO!'
The door slammed open and Harry's head shot up. In the faint glow of near dawn light someone rushed through and was in front of him before he had time to put his glasses on. A shimmer of black hair filled his blurred vision as a man approached him.
Another person, blonde hair shining in the light, joined the first one.
Magic trembled in his fingers and behind his eyes as the blonde one's arms closed around him. He shook in the grip, needing to put distance between them. He couldn't stay still now. If it was someone he could trust they'd know to let go off him. Unless ...
Using the Death Eater's weight Harry flipped them both onto the bed.
His attacker landed flat on their back. Harry snarled as his wand thrummed in his hand … the light of his instinctive spell shining in wide blue eyes, millimetres away from the tip.
A pulse pumped against his hand, and Harry was vaguely aware that he was being pulled away from his bed by a strong grip.
'Harry!' the first Death Eater shouted, his face pale but his eyes hard. 'Stand down kid! You're safe, it was just a dream.'
Harry fought against the grip, he needed to get away. He had his wand he could …
'Harry.' The voice was warmer, calming. His hands on Harry's shaking shoulders. 'Breathe kiddo, it's alright. Deep breaths, come back. Just a dream, nobody's here who wants to hurt you.'
Sucking down air Harry held onto the man's arm in a white knuckled grip. He wasn't safe … Death Eaters were attacking the island. Everyone was dead or dying, he was alone and this one was trying to calm him down?
The man's face came into focus, piercing scared silver eyes and black hair … Sirius.
'I-I-,' Harry gasped out as air escaped him. 'Death Eaters. I was fighting. Here, where?'
'No Death Eaters Harry,' Sirius said soothingly, squeezing his shoulders. 'We're on the island but you weren't fighting you were sleeping.'
'Daphne …' His grip loosened, colour flooding back into his skin. His eyes stopped burning and the world went blurry again. 'She was … she …'
Sirius smiling face came into focus as his glasses were slipped onto his face, the expression strangely sad. He shifted to the side so the rest of the room was revealed. Daphne sat massaging her neck on the edge of his bed. 'She's right here.'
Her neck. Why was she rubbing her neck and where was the person who'd attacked him? He'd had them pinned and if they were attacking him Sirius wouldn't have let them out … he'd definitely felt a pulse as well so …
'Daphne.' The blonde girl looked up at him
The blonde girl approached him slowly. Her hands stretched out. As if she was holding back an animal who was about to attack. Sweet blessed Merlin … He'd attacked her. He'd nearly killed her.
And she was reaching out to him, trying to soothe him. Fucking hell.
It's okay,' Daphne rasped, her face pinched and very pale, sweat building at her hairline. 'It's okay, you didn't know what you were doing.'
He longed to cling to her, but he daren't. What if he hurt her again? His entire body was shaking as it was. He needed to not be touching her. She had to be safe, away from him. She needed to not be understanding for fuck's sake!
'Daph-' he started but Daphne cut him off with a shushing sound and stroked his messy hair. She wouldn't let him go and her cold touch was burning.
'It's okay Harry,' she said softly. Her voice the same quality as Madame Pomfrey from school as she cradled him in her arms. 'You're safe, you're in your hotel room with me, Sirius and my parents. Everybody's safe and there's no danger.'
'Too close,' Harry forced out as he slowly felt the terror loosen its grip on him. 'You're too close.'
She smelled like sweat and the faintest bit of salt and it was absolutely bloody perfect. His stomach turned. She should be as far away from him as possible right now, not trying to comfort him. Daphne let him pull away and Harry went back to his bed. Sirius, who had deliberately put himself between the two teenagers, gripped Harry's shoulder and gave him a look he didn't even want to figure out.
Nick Greengrass cleared his throat and earned a nudge in his ribs from his wife.
Both Greengrasses were stood in the doorway, Sweat glistening on the pair skin the summer bedclothes showed off for them both. Sirius gave Harry's shoulder a supportive grip as he felt his face grow hot. How long had they been there? Had they seen him pin Daphne?
'You alright now kiddo?' Sirius' voice was light but it was strained. Dark hair was matted against his tanned skin. 'Just a bad dream right?'
Harry searched their faces, relieved to find no anger. Also a little sickened to see so much undeserved concern. 'Just a nightmare, nothing to worry about.' Not like I nearly killed your daughter.
Satisfied, Sirius patted his shoulder and let out a breath no one else would have noticed.
'Well I think we should all get back to our rooms,' Nick said, more to Daphne than anyone else. His eyes kept darting between Harry and Daphne. Harry's stomach dropping lower and lower. The man was a lawyer for a reason. He must smell something was up. 'I was thinking we'd have a bit of a look around the island before the preliminaries in the afternoon.'
Daphne shot Harry a pointed look. 'Maybe I should-'
Harry shook his head slightly, just enough that Daphne could tell.
Her face fell, disappointment flooding her features before more agonising acceptance took over. She nodded once and before he could stop her, planting a brief kiss on his forehead and left the room.
She forgave him.
Her parents watched her leave and then followed after, giving Harry a confused but kind smile as they pulled the door to.
'Want me to stay here?' Sirius muttered when it was just the two of them. 'More sleep would do you some good.'
'I'll be okay,' Harry said as he moved the covers about listlessly. 'You'll be waking me in a couple hours anyway.'
'If you're sure,' Sirius said, giving Harry's shoulder a squeeze. 'I'm right outside.'
Sirius was almost at the door when Harry slipped back under the covers. 'Don't tell Dad?'
His godfather stopped in the doorframe and for a long moment Harry wondered if he hadn't heard him. With a heavy sigh Sirius turned to face him. 'Get some sleep kiddo.'
Harry just nodded and lay back down.
It had been worth trying to keep this from his dad he supposed.
James pushed open the back door, the familiar oak panelled cloakroom from his childhood practically an oven in the summer heat.
Locking the door behind him, he hung up his cloak and stepped into the pristine kitchen. The elves must have been through already. Remus hadn't done a dish since he'd set up shop in the Potter Library.
His throat caught as his gaze fell over the kitchen table. How many summer afternoon had he spent around that table with the Marauders? Back before everything had gone wrong. The blessed peaceful days where he was just a kid and the biggest problem was getting Lily Evans to not hate his guts.
He pushed through to the dining room, a brand new slew of memories kicking him in the teeth. Christmas with his parents, spectacular dinners and hours of laughter haunted the room. That wonderful Christmas when everyone had been round the gigantic table. His parents, Lily, Sirius, the Lupins, Alastor and … Peter.
He grit his teeth and glowered at the chair the traitor had always sat in. The same chair he'd sat in when James had broken down because his parents had died in the night as they'd all slept.
James stomped on the pain, the burn of anger stoking in his chest as he tore away from the vision of Peter's hand on his shoulder.
The long wooden pine of the hall, creaked under his feet as the darkness was sprinkled with candlelight up the grand staircase.
Gripping the bannister, James made his way up the steps. The walls seemed blank with the lack of portraits. The wards around the house that spent years rebuilding itself but they hadn't gotten to the pictures of his family just yet. The original owners of the house had apparently deemed the actual house and the furniture was more important than pictures of dead people.
James had to agree. He didn't much fancy explaining to his great grandfather why he wasn't better at potions again. He'd laughed it off as a teenager but right now he'd probably tell the old man to fuck off. Which would get back to his parents once their portraits finally restored.
Merlin, he wasn't sure whether he was looking forward to that day or not. They'd get to meet their grandson at least. What they'd have to say to James himself though …
Poking his head into the drawing room at the top of the stairs, James grimaced. It was almost identical to the room he'd been sat in when Dumbledore had explained that to protect his new-born son, James would have to abandon his home to the inevitable razing at the hands of Death Eaters.
He rested his hand against the wallpaper on the landing and frowned. Another thing Dumbledore had asked him to sacrifice. At least this was something he could get back and the old man didn't ever have to know.
His parents had known Dumbledore, even bankrolled his little organisation, but Fleamont and Euphemia Potter had gotten Dumbledore's number quicker than James had.
They'd made a point of telling James that nobody outside the Potter line was ever to be told about the wards and their regenerative magic. No matter the damage, the Potter ancestral home would always rebuild itself. It'd take some time but it would always come back.
'It's a family thing son,' his father's voice rang out in his head. 'Us Potters, we're too stubborn to die easy. Why would our houses be any different?'
James smiled and patted the wall fondly. 'Yeah Dad. Stubborn that's us.'
He wiped at his eyes and resisted the urge to go up the next set of stairs to the bedrooms. If Aurora was waiting to surprise him again, she might be annoyed if he didn't show up soon … but the candlelight from down the hall meant Remus had something for him.
She'd understand. Hell, she might not even be up there. It was just wishful thinking probably. If she was she'd be asleep. It was well past three in the morning.
He found the werewolf bent over a table laden up with books and scrolls. Immediately he was taken back to all the summers James had let Remus loose on the Potter library. The only difference was that his friend could actually grow facial hair now.
A discarded tea tray sat nearby, the debris of endless cups and tea bags proof that Remus was at least taking tea breaks. His parents would be relieved. Tonks too.
'Remus?' James asked.
His friend held up a finger and a smile tugged at James' face. Just like school indeed.
'Remus, I need to talk to you.'
Remus turned the page of the book he was reading, placed a bookmark in it and put it down. He looked up, brown fuzz bristling his face. 'What?'
'I assume you're not in bed again because you have something for me?' James raised an eyebrow at the scattered books. The odd title flashing out at him. Rare Ould Magicks and Potter Grimoire 1755-93 at the top of piles level with Remus' head. 'Didn't you start with the Potter books?'
'Yeah,' Remus stretched back and scratched his chest. 'And that's why you can now pinpoint Harry no matter where he is on the globe. You know, unless they burn his clothes, snap his wand, shave his head and take his glasses.'
James dipped his head and pointed at the discarded Marauder Mirror. 'Any word from Sirius while I was away?'
'He checked in when they got to the hotel. Before then when they got to Barcelona and then before that, London. They've got there safe and sound James.' Remus stood and cracked his back, his fists pressed into his lower back. 'I still haven't figured out how to make a Portkey that'll skip past customs, and get them directly back here, from the island though. That's proving tricky.'
'They have the ones that'll get them back to London at least?' James said as he sat down in a comfy chair, one of many littered around the room. The Potter family used to be huge, it was little things like empty chairs that reminded him that if he and Harry didn't make it …
He shook the thoughts away and studied Remus' face as he grimaced at him.
'Yes James, you think Sirius would have gone without them?' Remus didn't look away from the books he was jotting down notes from. 'He's just as aware as us that he has to be on top of security. Speaking of,' Remus said abruptly as he threw rolled up parchment at him. 'That is the beginnings of a Map for this place. I figured it was worth making one for here while Sirius looked for the Hogwarts one starting September. Can't be that hard to find it now he'll be a teacher. Anyway, have a look.'
James opened the roll and raised his eyebrows in surprise. They were just rough sketches but all four floors of the manor house had been drawn up. Even the attic where the Owlery used to be. His friend must have walked through the entire house countless times. Bless his obsessive need to know every detail for an invention.
'I need to know if there's any secret ways in and out of the house, you grew up here I figured there must be a few.' Remus was back to looking through the books, one open at a chapter all about enchantments for shielding. 'We also have enough bedrooms ready that if you wanted, we could permanently move in here and not have to double up.'
James hummed. The sooner they got in here the better but they couldn't leave Potters' House visibly empty just yet. That'd cast too much suspicion on where they actually were.
Besides, the house wasn't fully up to snuff yet. The wards still needed charging, family magic still flowed through the enchantments but they were dangerously low on fuel if Voldemort found them and attacked. They wouldn't charge quickly enough with just James here anyway. Had to be Potter magic that charged the wards too. Sirius may as well be family but if you weren't a Potter by blood, your magic couldn't do shit.
And with Harry not coming back except for a couple of days before school and then Christmas … no, they'd move in only if they had to.
'No, I think some of us should still live in Staffordshire for the time being. It's well situated and besides if we moved in here en masse it'd draw more than enough suspicion from …'
He left the sentence unfinished. Saying everyone would make him look just as paranoid as they were accusing him of. He also didn't have the energy in him to argue that a certain old man couldn't be trusted with bloody anything.
His last conversation with Harry was still lingering in his brain and he wasn't going to lie, it was bugging the ever loving shit out of him. He'd been meaner to the cult members at tonight's raid than he'd needed to be. They'd just been kids after all.
It was like Harry hadn't been listening to him when he explained the multiple reasons why Albus bloody Dumbledore didn't deserve to know everything they were doing.
'You know Harry's right about Dumbledore,' Remus' words were distracted but he didn't miss the edge in the werewolf's voice. 'With all the kid's going through it's a wonder he trusts anyone, and he still thinks Dumbledore is worth confiding in.'
'I'm not having this discussion again Remus,' James groaned as he fell back in his chair, hand going to his face. 'We're already half in the Order, Sirius even had to give up Grimmauld Place because no one else had anything better and …'
'And we need someone other than Aurora in the school to watch over the kids. Besides, Sirius hates that house, I doubt he cares who's using it.' Remus looked up from the books properly for the first time. 'I get why you don't want him to know everything James, I was there in the early years too. But we're at war and our biggest weapon against Voldemort right now is working with Dumbledore. You're not the only one who's tired of talking about it. You need to pull your head out of your arse. He's not done anything to show he'll fuck us over yet has he?'
'Give him time,' James said sourly. 'He's only just got the Order back together. Not to mention the Prophet and Fudge trying to discredit him, the old man's busy, he'll find time to fuck us over when he's sorted that shit out.'
Remus rolled his eyes but a bit of concern trickled through.
The mad old bastard was under stress from Fudge, the inept Minister of Magic wouldn't hear a word against his wealthy supporters and once Dumbledore had gone against James' advice and told everyone he could of Voldemort's return … well Albus had recently been stripped of the Chief Mugwump title, critics claiming his age was finally catching up with the old headmaster.
James would be lying if the retribution wasn't just a bit sweet. But Albus Dumbledore in Azkaban for treason would be seriously costly once Voldemort started making his move.
Which he hadn't done yet. Another frustrating thing for him to take in. Voldemort was either being supremely patient or his Death Eaters had gotten much better at concealing their movements in the last fourteen years.
The only person who seemed to know anything was Snape, surprise surprise, and the one Order meeting Remus and Sirius had attended at the old Black house, the Potion teacher wasn't present for. If he didn't know any better he'd be beyond suspicious of Snape. But he did know better.
James had been undercover before and as loathed as he was to admit it, he had to respect Snape's actions. It was fucking stupid, but he hadn't been rumbled yet and at the end of the day, there was no one other than Snape who Voldemort could hurt in punishment if the schoolteacher was caught.
'Look James,' Remus said with a heavy sigh. 'I get why you're so reluctant to trust Dumbledore, I really do. But he can at least move more freely than Amelia. Did she have anything to tell us tonight by the way?'
James shook his head and sighed. 'Nah, she's just running us through drill after drill. Checking the personnel files of all the new people coming in so rigorously we probably know more about some of these kids than their mothers do. If he's putting people in the DMLE he's being really fucking clever about it.'
'Joys.' Remus popped a bookmark in the text he was reading and put it down. 'Well I best go to bed I suppose, I've got to work on a new way for us to communicate if we can't use the mirrors. I'm thinking something small and ordinary, something that wouldn't stand out as valuable if we're captured.'
James nodded and stood too, knocking out the lights around the old library. More visions of time spent doing his schoolwork, Lily and him pouring over books before they'd decided to hide in Godric's Hollow … last ditch efforts in case they were found …
'James,' Remus said at his shoulder.
'Come on, enough ghosts tonight, Aurora's probably still waiting up for you.' Remus clapped him on the shoulder and turned out the last light.
'Yeah,' James said absently. Trying to banish the happy smile Lily had given him when they'd figured out the ward that was meant to incinerate any intruder who crossed the threshold, but had just left their house in Godric's Hollow a ruin. 'Aurora.'
He resisted the urge to run back into the library all the way up to the master bedroom door.
A/N: I'm back bitches!
I did say sometime in the New Year, I never specified when.
So I hope you enjoyed the chapter and that this was worth the wait, I can't wait to hear what you guys think. I'm going to be trying to update on a monthly rate at least but if I can get chapters out quicker than that I will.
In a bit,