The Stars Alone
A Harry Potter/Stargate Fanfic (with lightsabers)
A Sequel to Broken Chains
Disclaimer: I own nothing, as my absolute lack of material wealth can attest to. This story was written without intent to profit or infringe upon the original properties or their respective interests and owners. This story presupposes that you have at least an idea of what happened in Broken Chains. It's not absolutely necessary to have read it, but it will help explain why Harry, Hermione and Luna have lightsabers and the Force (not to mention why there is a Harry, Hermione and Luna), and why Harry is so utterly, ridiculously powerful and not always very nice. More importantly, if you really hated Broken Chains then you'll have a good chance of really hating this, which will save you the trouble of reading any of it, and save me the trouble of having to read your complaints about it.
Part One: Reaping What is Sown
Chapter One: Memento Mori
Ministry of Magic, London, June 12, 1997
"The body was cursed after she was dead," the magical coroner said.
Kingsley Shacklebolt stood perfectly still and tried his best not to look down at the desecrated body of his former partner. Nymphadora Tonks for him was the very best Hogwarts had to offer—smart and loyal to a fault, fast and powerful enough to hold her own against most foes. She'd had a very hard time since the last summer, he knew, but she was still an outstanding Auror and a lovely person.
Now she was reduced to a cadaver with a blackened, gaping hole where her chest used to be. Her skin had a chalky pallor of death, though he could see bruising gathering at the back where blood had settled.
"How can you tell?"
"No bleeding." The healer who acted as the DMLE coroner shrugged. "And see the cuts and bruising from her fall? No bleeding there either to speak off. Her heart wasn't beating when this curse hit her. But most importantly is that there is no sign of the Bonham Effect at all."
Kingsley raised one brow at this single, most telling aspect of his friend's death. Named for Mungo Bonham, the founder of St. Mungos who discovered it, the Bonham Effect was the result of a witch or wizard's magical core trying to resist a lethal or offensive curse. It usually resulted in a shattering of the witch's or wizard's bone marrow, where it was commonly accepted the magical core was charged from.
If there was no Bonham Effect from the blasting curse evidenced in Tonks's bones, it meant her magical core did not resist the curse. That was the clearest and most telling indication she was already dead.
"Thank you, Cal. Write up your report, but make it to the Minister's eyes only. We need to keep this under wraps."
"I understand, Kingsley."
Kingsley left the basement of the DMLE and went back to the Minister's office where he found Amelia Bones contemplating a tumbler of Cognac. "Sit," she said the moment he walked in.
"Tonks was already dead when that blasting curse hit her," Shacklebolt said as he sank into the chair opposite her. "There was no Bonham Effect at all, so whatever killed her was not magical. The CE says there's no way to say what did kill her for sure, though, because of the post-mortem damage."
"What was she doing there, Shack?" Bones asked without preamble.
Kingsley sighed tiredly. "She and Dumbledore were trying to find a horcrux. He asked her specifically to help, though, because he wanted her to reform the Order of the Phoenix."
He sat perfectly still as Amelia looked up and glared. "I ordered it shut down."
"He wanted to reform it because of Potter, Minister. He warned me, and I presume he warned Tonks, that Harry was dangerous. Maybe even more dangerous than You-Know-Who."
"You think Potter killed her?"
"Him, or maybe one of his women," Shack said. "It's been remarked that Granger has become just as dark as he has. But if it has been a Death Eater who killed her, her death would have been by magic."
"Then we're going to have to…what the devil was that?" Amelia half-rose from her desk while Shacklebolt did the same, pulling his wand as he did so. A moment later the door opened and a wide-eyed young Auror fresh out of the academy rushed in. "Minister, he's here! He blasted through the main entrance with an army of Death Eaters!"
There was no need to ask who "he" was. Blanching, Amelia tapped her wand to her forehead, pulled out a stream of thought and memory, and stored it in a glass phial she pulled from one of her desk drawers. She opened a cabinet drawer and placed it inside.
Shacklebolt watched without a word until she was done, and then followed as she led the way out of her office toward the DMLE, where loyal aurors and hitwizards were engaged in a full-out battle in the halls of the DMLE with a line of black-robed wizards.
"Morgana," Bones muttered.
Before she could say more, HE arrived. Amelia could feel his power from across the atrium as he floated a foot off the ground, black robes billowing behind him in an invisible wind. He looked like a pale-skinned dementor as he approached the line of fighters. He raised his hands—without a wand—and suddenly a torrent of white lightning flashed across the line of defenders. Men and women screamed in agony as they were blown clean off their feet.
"Dumbledore was wrong," Bones muttered. "Potter's not anywhere this bad. Avada Kedavra!"
The fact the Minister was willing to cast a killing curse did not surprise Shacklebolt. During the first war Amelia was one of the most capable and ruthless aurors in Crouch's force. What surprised Kingsley was the ease with which Voldemort blocked the curse. He smiled—the monster actually smiled—at the sight of the killing magic flying at him. The air before him shimmered as he wandlessly conjured a steel plate which absorbed the magic.
Instantly he banished it again, all the while continuing to float toward the Minister. "Dear Amelia," he said. His voice sounded raw and terrible, as if his vocal cords had been shredded. "So nice to be welcomed. We are going to have such interesting times, you and I. Although, I have no need for your helper."
Shacklebolt's last sight on Earth was the flash of green before his eyes.
International Confederation of Wizards, Enforcer Division,
Geneva, Switzerland, October 3rd, 2002
Mage General Stefan Andropolous stepped into his office for the first time since assuming command of the newly established ICW Enforcement Division.
The idea of an ICW military unit used to be anathema. Andropolous was a young man of twenty during the last Great War that ravaged Europe. Like many, he fought against the Nazi's and their wizard collaborators. After, while the Muggle nations met to decide the future of their world, wizards gathered at the ICW to decide theirs. The American wizards pushed for an international peacekeeping body of hitwizards, and to this day Andropolous could remember the harsh cries deriding such an idea.
Fifty years later, the idea was presented by the youngest Chief Mugwump in history, the war hero Harry Potter. Andropolous once again expected the loud chorus of voices to shout the idea down. However, the chorus never came.
On further reflection, Andropolous should have known better.
After half a century of leadership under the enigmatic, powerful and secretive Albus Dumbledore, Potter was more than a breath of fresh air. The young, powerful wizards was a walking hurricane of change. Not only did he single-handedly save magical Europe from the goblins; not only did he defeat the most powerful Dark Lord ever to darken the world, but he did so using his own personal funds to raise an army.
When Potter made the rounds before each day's session, Androlopous watched as a simple shake of the hands and a brief touch of a witch or wizard's shoulders was enough to make the representative stand taller somehow, as if his approval were the most important thing to them. Nor could Andropolous condemn his fellows for the feeling. Potter's magic was intoxicating. When he moved into your presence, it felt as if you were standing on the edge of something greater than yourself, and the sheer intensity the young man projected left Andropolous feeling breathless and jittery. It was hard not to get caught up in his cult of personality.
Even the newly elected Deputy Mugwump, Diego Ramirez, appeared swept up in Potter's charisma, which considering that Ramirez was rumored to be as powerful as Dumbledore and twice as smart, was truly saying something.
So, when Potter asked for a permanent force of witches and wizards to serve as peacekeepers in order to ensure no dark lord or goblin army ever brought the magical world to its knees again, he got his wish. The mandate looked especially altruistic when Potter insisted that the Supreme Mugwump only assume command in the event the ICW-elected commander was killed or incapacitated, and then only for 90 days before a new commander was elected. On the surface, it appeared Potter crafted a mandate to ensure he himself could never command the enforcers directly.
With his experience of being a former Colonel in the Muggle Greek army and thirty years as the Greek Director of Magical Law Enforcement, Stefan Andropolous was named Mage General of the Enforcers Division of the ICW, given a budget on par with what most individual Ministries had, and a host of volunteer aurors and hitwizards from around the world to train.
Training could wait until tomorrow. For today, the administration needed to be set up. Even the office space granted to the Enforces Division was an act of beneficence from Potter, being the former office of the Supreme Mugwump himself. Potter pointedly offered the large suite of offices and commented that his own administrative requirements were much more streamlined than his predecessor, which raised more than a few laughs from the many wizards and wizards who absolutely detested Dumbledore. Dumbledore's old offices at the ICW in fact had lain empty since his death.
Andropolous placed his box of personal belongings—primarily pictures of his wife, kids and grandkids, on the large mahogany desk and looked around at the office which once belonged to Albus Dumbledore. His first thought was that it was needlessly large, and determined that he was going to have a wall installed to create a smaller office for his aide de camp.
He saw a line of wooden filing cabinets against one wall, while directly behind his desk were a wide set of windows that looked out over a beautiful meadow of green grass and trees, while Lake Geneva glittered in the background. It was a beautiful scene; especially impressive considering the office was a hundred feet underground.
Two of his lieutenants walked in levitating his files. "Shall we put them in your cabinets, sir?" young Kanahoff said.
Kanahoff, a French-German Muggleborn from Canada, levitated his box to the cabinets with his fellow lieutenant right behind him. The two young wizards began to place the files into the cabinets. Each file was a public biography and contact information for each of the Ministers and leaders of each ICW signatory Ministry of Magic—a must-have for a politically charged position such as his.
"Sir, there's something in this cabinet."
Andropolous straightened with a frown. "Potter assured me the cabinets were empty. Step away, gentlemen. It's always best to be vigilant." The two men stepped back, wands at the ready, while Andropolous cast a diagnostic spell at the cabinet itself. The results surprised him.
"Kanahoff, have you seen a charm matrix like that before?"
"I have, Mage General," the second Lieutenant, a Bulgarian, said. "My Grand Nana had a cabinet that had a similar matrix. It was a vanishing cabinet."
"Indeed, that's exactly what this is," Andropolous said. "It was not unusual for a ministry and its ICW representative to have matched vanishing cabinets for quick communications. Of course, now the offices have magic-hardened wiring for telephones, and I understand Potter's people are working on magic-hardened computers as well. Interesting." Andropolous levitated the object out, and was surprised to see what he immediately identified as a pensieve memory held within a glass phial.
"Quick, lads, get me a pensieve. There should be one two doors down!"
Both lieutenants ran full tilt, and returned moments later with a pensive held between them. The ancient device was as heavy as a man, and could not be levitated without risking its own considerable enchantments. Andropolous barely had the memory over the stone bowl when the conjured phial simply vanished, and the memory floated gently down into the swirling silver of the device.
"It was a conjured phial," he explained to his two lieutenants. "It must have taken a powerful witch or wizard for it to last as long as it did. So, shall we see what it is? Perhaps we will get to see one of Dumbledore's last memories before he was murdered by the Dark Witch Bellatrix Lestrange."
The three men dipped their heads into the pensieve. When they emerged a minute later, eyes-wide and faces pale, they looked at each as if they were standing in a completely different world.
Andropolous was the first to speak. "Both of you, listen and listen well. You are not to breathe a word of this to anyone. If you doubt your resolve, I will obliviate you for your own safety. No one, and I mean NO ONE, can know about this, do you understand?"
"Yes, sir!" both young men said sharply. Kanahoff added, "Sir, what are we going to do?"
"We're with you, no matter what, sir," the Bulgarian, Krum, said.
Giza, Egypt, February 12, 2003
"We've followed Dr. Langford's original notes." The project lead, Bill Weasley, wiped the sweat and dust from his forehead as spoke. "And this is exactly what you said you were looking for."
Weasley stood atop the edge of the excavation site, with the pyramids rising up in ancient splendor behind them. At his side, Captain Carl Kanahoff looked on with a nod. In the recently dug pit they could see a stone frame that once obviously housed something large and circular, but which was now gone.
Weasley hopped down into the pit, which was now empty after he sent his people back to their tents once the excavation was done. Bill bent down and with his wand started pointing out the ancient rune matrix. "From what my brothers told me, this is the same ward matrix Hermione Potter used to help the Chief Mugwump catch Voldemort at the end. How the hell did you people know about this?"
"I'm sorry, Mr. Weasley, but that is rather need to know."
Weasley looked around the stone frame, took his hat and dusted it against his thigh, and said, "Look, Kanahoff. This entire dig has been wonky. Langford was a Muggle. Yes, he managed to find clues regarding the old Ra rebellion myths, and his daughter continued his research, but that was seventy years ago. We didn't need to recreate the dig to find these runes—they were available in books."
Kanahoff pursed his lips as he considered the eldest Weasley son. "Bill, between you and me, what do you think of Harry Potter?"
"I think he's a dangerous, murdering bastard," Bill said without hesitation. "The son of a bitch mind-raped an auror friend of my brother Charlie's who later died under mysterious circumstances, and I'm convinced he's the one who started the damned goblin war in the first place."
Kanahoff looked up and around, eyes narrowed. "Those are opinions you should not voice in the open, Mr. Weasley."
"Why, think Potter's going to hear me from Egypt?"
"Yes, actually, he might," Kanahoff said grimly. "We're done here. Please have your men fill the dig back in. And then...then I think it is time you met your sponsor."
Puma Punku, Tiahuanaco, Chile, November 14th, 2003
Lieutenant Bill Weasley of the ICW Enforcers Division stood on the edge of an exposed megalithic rock foundation from an ancient temple of a long-dead civilization. There was no treasure here, nor magic.
That, Bill knew, was a problem. Puma Punku was known to rest on a cross of ley lines and should have been absolutely saturated in magic. In fact, Bill remembered that when he visited the site in his first year as an apprentice curse breaker he almost broke out in a sweat from just the raw magic in the air.
Now…nothing. It was as if the whole area had been utterly drained of magic.
"Sir, we found blood traces!"
Bill looked at the speaker—one of ten Enforcers assigned to him for this research mission. He walked over to the section of stone the man was working on, but of course he could not see anything with his naked eye.
"I found traces too," a witch further away said.
"Positive traces here, too!" One by one, all ten witches and wizards reported trace amounts of blood. Bill himself cast the auror forensic charm and saw the blood traces like little bits of gold shining on the stone. They were miniscule and far apart—mute evidence that someone attempted to clean the stone. But the fact that they reacted to the charm indicated they were less than five years old. Moreover, the traces were everywhere, covering the entire stone basin in mute evidence of what could only have been a literal bloodbath.
"That's it, then," Bill said, not even bothering to hide his fear. None of the Enforces knew exactly why they were looking for blood in the desert, nor would they ever find out. But in Bill's pocket was a copy of a letter written by a former classmate of Harry's who managed to break a powerful memory charm, and whose very act of confession breached an Unbreakable Vow that led to her death. In effect, she committed suicide in order to confess what happened. If word got out too early, there would be hell to pay. "Pack it up, we've found what we needed. Portkey launches in five minutes."
Wainfleet All Saints, England, January 6th, 2004
"Well, he certainly seemed convincing, and though we can't exactly advertise it, from what I understand we have had a significant tax revenue spike from the inclusion of your kind."
The speaker was none other than former Prime Minister John Cochran, who was vacationing at his family home after recently losing his position as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland.
Interviewing him was Mage General Stefan Andropolous, dressed wholly Muggle for the occasion, and the Deputy Mugwump of the International Confederation of Wizards, Diego Ramirez. It was Ramirez who leaned forward to pierce the Muggle with his gaze. "It is necessary for us to be clear, Mr. Cochran. You are telling us both that it was Harry Potter who came to you and requested British military assets to be used against the Goblin bank Gringotts. Is that the case?"
Cochran pursed his lips, realizing perhaps how serious the question was. He could not lie, however much he wanted to, because of the mild dose of veritaserum Androlopous had sprayed in the air. A concentrated drop of the potion could have killed the Prime Minister, but an aerosol spray worked with minimal risk.
"That is correct," the former PM said. "Mr. Potter used a laser scope to direct heavy ordinance to a target in the center of London, which was later identified as a goblin stronghold. Because of that strike, Potter assured me he was able to destroy the goblin threat, free your economy from the gold standard, and was able to make several millions of pounds of contributions to the party."
Ramirez stood and walked out of the library, face blank. Andropolous also stood. "Thank you, sir, for your time today. Obliviate!"
The Mage General heard the pop of the Deputy Mugwump apparating away and followed suit a second later. A minute after, John Cochran recovered from his fugue state, blinked and stared about him in confusion before picking up where he last remembered reading from his spy thriller.
Ministry of Magic, London, England, February 2nd, 2004
Senior Undersecretary of Magic Arthur Weasley sat behind his desk in the Ministry of Magic with a soul-weary sigh.
He shouldn't have been so weary—his salary was higher now than he ever dreamed. He was able to build his Molly the house he believed she always deserved, and she enjoyed the trappings of power to be certain. He had seven healthy, successful children and two grandchildren already. He had certainly achieved every goal and hope he had when he was younger.
So why was he so tired?
Because you don't matter anymore.
That small, nagging voice in his head that sounded suspiciously like Gideon Prewett had been hounding him of late. Gideon never liked Arthur and never considered him good enough for his little sister, Molly. Nor had he hesitated to share his opinions. For the past thirty years of marriage, his self-doubt always assumed a voice like Gideon's.
However, when he finally faced the thought openly, he realized that he truly did not matter. The Ministry of Magic belonged wholly, and without any question, to a boy of only twenty-four years of age. Worse yet, with the sole except of his eldest son Bill, who was vocal about his dislike of the Minister, every other one of his children belonged heart and soul to that same boy.
Arthur remembered like it was yesterday sitting down for breakfast with his family, only to discover a painfully shy newcomer at his table. Harry always seemed like such a wonderful, loving child.
When he fell through the Veil of Death at the Ministry, Arthur held Molly for hours while she cried for the boy, and then held Ginny while she did the same. When Harry came back, it seemed like the greatest miracle, only for that miracle to be dashed by the terrible reality. Harry came back as a monster.
What he did to Tonks…Arthur shook his head. The legillimancy attack against Tonks should have landed Harry in Azkaban for life. It was as good as an Unforgiveable. But Harry was the Chosen One, and Dumbledore could not afford to put the one destined to kill Voldemort into a prison to rot away. So instead they brought in Harry's and Ron's friend Hermione, and it seemed as if she had saved his soul.
The fact they then began a not-very-secret liaison with Xeno Lovegood's flaky girl made their morals questionable, but still not evil.
After Voldemort took the Ministry and murdered poor Amelia Bones and her niece Susan, among many other of Arthur's friends, Harry somehow managed to get the Crown to appoint him as Minister of Magic, and he never looked back. Arthur, like the rest, was simply caught up in his wake as Harry ruthlessly destroyed Voldemort using Muggle weapons of all things! He continued to run his company, employing almost all of Arthur's children in various capacities, while ruling magical England with an iron fist. Arthur held the position he did solely because of the friendship his children had with the young Minister.
Harry didn't rule just England, though. After defeating Voldemort and saving much of Europe from the Goblins in their last, most violent revolt, Harry was appointed Supreme Mugwump of the International Confederation of Wizards. He essentially ran the magical world.
If he were to be honest with himself, Arthur had to admit some of Harry's initiatives were good. All ICW-accredited schools did not just teach a course about Muggles anymore, but in fact taught Muggle academic subjects in addition to the magical subjects, and all students were required to take these courses, and then take the appropriate standard examinations for their Muggle countries. The Purebloods fought against the rules, but Harry was an unstoppable machine, and the fight was for naught. Arthur, personally, approved of the initiative.
Potter forced through legislation both in England and abroad declaring the use of Dementors in prisons illegal torture, and led a personal crusade to destroy the demons. That was an exceedingly popular law, really, and the pictures of him personally destroying the demons was plastered across every magical paper in the world.
However, some of his other initiatives were not so nice. For instance, for the past year Arthur Weasley paid taxes. The decision to slowly introduce Muggle taxes was controversial to say the least, especially since Potter required all Ministry employees to be the first to pay. So, Arthur Weasley was registered with Inland Revenue, and now paid taxes on his salary. He knew that future steps would include participation in the social security plan the Muggles maintained. They would not pay for medical, though, given the magical community had its own system.
Most frightening of all was Potter's latest proposal to first condition Muggles to the possible existence of magic over the coming years with popular media works, leading up to the revelation of the magical world.
Really, it was too much, too soon. Harry might have been the youngest self-made trillionaire in history; the youngest Minister for Magic in England; and the youngest Supreme Mugwump in the world, but he just pushed too much, too hard, too quickly. It made men like Arthur feel as if they simply did not matter.
At the sound of a knock, he looked up to see his eldest son standing at his door with a warm smile. "Hello, Dad."
"Bill!" Arthur said, pleased despite his melancholy thoughts. He jumped up to greet his eldest. "What a wonderful surprise! What are you doing here?"
"Oh, I was in the building and thought I would say hello," Bill said. He accepted the hug his father gave him and the two men settled back in, with Bill closing the door behind him. "How are you and Mum?"
"Oh, we're doing well enough," Arthur said. "Are you coming by the Burrow later? Your mum would love to have you."
"No, I have to get back to France soon," Bill said. "Actually, I just came to give you this." Bill reached into his robes and removed an envelope. "Don't open it until you're home, though."
"What is it?"
"An invitation to a tea tonight. I'll be there, and Fleur. Plus a few others you might recognize."
"Should I tell Molly to dress up then?"
"Sorry, Dad, but Mum can't come."
Arthur paused and stared hard at his eldest son. "Whatever do you mean?"
"I mean just that, Dad." Bill was always an earnest boy, and earnestness now shone through his eyes. "I love Mum as much as anyone of us, but we both know she couldn't keep a secret even if all our lives depended on it. She can't come. If she asks, you're having a meeting with some members of the Ministry, which will be true enough."
Arthur looked down at the envelope and felt the first tangs of worry. "Bill, what's going on?"
"I can't tell you, not yet," Bill said. "But I can tell you that it's important, perhaps even as important as the old Order of the Phoenix was, back in Dumbledore's day. I can tell you no one you're going to meet tonight is a dark wizard or witch. And we simply want to talk. Please come, Dad. Just open the envelope, and it will do the rest."
With that, Bill stood and walked quickly out of Arthur's office. When he was gone, Arthur looked down at the envelope with a worried frown. He had no doubt the man who came was his son—the Ministry's new security procedures tested for both Polyjuice Potion and the Imperius curse using new methods developed by Potter's company. Further, he recognized Bill by his many personal mannerisms, such as the way he brushed his hair off his shoulder, and crossed his legs when he sat.
What was Bill up to?
"Mr. Weasley, you're three o'clock is here," his secretary said over the magical desk-com.
"Thank you, Marge. Please send her in." He glanced once more at the envelope before he placed it in his briefcase. Work came first, no matter what Bill wanted.
Except, of course, that it really didn't. His meeting with Mafalda Hopkirk dragged on for a seeming eternity, and when it was done it felt almost as if his clocks were moving backward. Finally, at ten minutes until six, Arthur decided he could not take it anymore. He gathered his things and nodded to Marge on the way out of his office.
"Off a bit early, see you tomorrow," he said to his secretary.
The young witch smiled kindly. "Well, seeing as you were in an hour early, I don't think ten minutes early will count against you too badly, sir. Have a good night."
Arthur headed down the corridor to the lift that would take him to the main atrium and looked around at the many other witches and wizards leaving work for the day. Some nodded to him, while the many younger faces pointedly ignored him. Arthur for his part recognized them—they were part of Harry's new cadre of Ministry employees who acted as if they were the lords of the Ministry.
In some ways, they were much like the Death Eaters were during Voldemort's short, bloody reign. Granted, they did not kill or torture anyone. Instead, they performed punishing audits, reorganized departments, laid off long-time Ministry employees and set up magical computers to do the work that before belonged to honest, hard-working individuals who now had no job at all.
Cold, hard and efficient, much like Potter himself.
Molly gave him a kiss on the cheek when he got home. He was pleased to see that Ginny joined them for dinner—she'd left Phoenix Industries for a position with the Holyhead Harpies last year and was quite famous as a chaser. Even with her fame and fortune, though, she still came home often for dinner since despite Holly's best efforts to teach her Ginny could not cook.
They talked quidditch, taxes and the weather. They did not mention Harry Potter at all—Arthur because he didn't really approved of what Harry was doing and Ginny because she not only approved it, but was one of Harry's most vocal public supporters.
"Well, that was lovely as usual," Arthur said. "However, I have a meeting tonight with a pair of old Wizengamot friends to talk about a bill they're thinking about introducing. They asked me to take a look before bringing it to the Minister."
"What's it about?" Ginny asked. "I can tell you right now if Harry will go for it."
"Well, I'm not rightly sure yet, since I haven't seen it," Arthur said. And then because his daughter's presumptuousness bothered him, he added, "However, since I am the Senior Undersecretary of Magic, I do believe it's my job to review pending bills first, not yours young lady."
"Merlin, Dad, you sound like Percy," Ginny said, laughing off his admonishing tone. "Well, have a good night. Are you going to be able to make the game next week?"
"I'll certainly try," Arthur said. "I'm sure Ron will be there to cheer on the Canons."
Ginny snorted. "As if they could ever beat the Harpies. Well, have a good night. Thanks for supper, Mum!"
She hopped up and apparated away without further word. When she was gone, Molly and Arthur shared a long, knowledgeable look. After thirty years, the two could read each other without effort. "You'll be careful?" she asked, somehow knowing he was lying to his daughter.
"I will," he said. "I don't know when I'll be home."
She nodded. "Okay. Love you, dear."
"And you, Molly love."
He walked back to his study—a feature of their new home he absolutely cherished—and pulled out the envelope. Without hesitation, he opened it up and felt the familiar tug of a portkey. It took him only a moment to orient himself, and he realized with a start that he was standing on the edge of Hogsmeade.
"I was beginning to worry," Bill said, emerging from the shadows of a tree. Being early summer in Scotland, the sun was still up despite the late hour. "Come on, we're meeting at the Hog's Head."
They did not go through the central portion of town, however. Instead, they stayed in a back alley behind most of the shops until they reached the decrepit old bar still run by Albus Dumbledore's brother, Aberforth. The ancient, withered wizard was there to meet them in person with a grunt. He turned and led the way back into the bar, which sat empty save for two tables pulled together.
Arthur felt his stomach drop when he saw who was there. "Ambassador Uretsky? Deputy Mugwump Ramirez?"
"Arthur, good to see you!" David Uretsky of the American Magical Consulate said. He stood, stepped forward and extended a hand which Arthur shook numbly.
The second man at the table looked like a swarthy-skinned Dumbledore, extending to the twinkle in his eyes common to the truly powerful. "Senior Undersecretary," Diego Ramirez, Deputy Mugwump of the International Confederation of Wizards and the Chief Warlock of the Brazillian Magical Ministry, said. His voice sounded deep and solemn "And may I introduce Mage General Stefan Andropolous of the ICW Enforcers Division."
Arthur shook the hand of the gruff, gray-headed wizard. "Weasley. I've heard a lot about you from your son," the Athenian wizard said in accented but otherwise impeccable English. "Bill is a good man—it has been a pleasure serving with him."
Arthur turned and stared at Bill. "What do you mean?"
"I've been working with the ICW Enforcers for a while now," Bill said. "I didn't want any of the family to know, though. The Enforcers and Potter's army have had clashes, and you know how Ron, Percy, the Twins and Ginny are."
"Please, have a seat," Ramirez said. "Before we continue, Arthur, I'm afraid we are going to have to ask for an Unbreakable Vow. What we are going to discuss has been deemed top secret by the ICW Enforcer Division and myself. The vow will certify that you will not divulge what you learn this evening, nor will you divulge the identifies of those who were here. The exact wording is in your portkey."
Arthur still clutched the envelope in his hands and pulled out the slip of paper with the vow. It used rather standard language. "Very well, since it does not compel action I can agree to it," Arthur said.
He made the vow to Ramirez with the American ambassador serving as the bonder. When that was done, Ramirez removed a massive manila folder from an obviously charmed pocket in his robes. He looked Arthur in the face as he began to speak. "Almost six years ago, shortly before her death, Minister Amelia Bones sent a phial of memory to Dumbledore's ICW office, hoping perhaps that his replacement to the ICW would find it. In the phial, she provided a memory of her and Auror Kingsley Shacklebolt discussing the very high probability that Auror Nymphadora Tonks was murdered by either Harry Potter or one of his two disciples during his fight with Bellatrix Lestrange. She also stated that Albus Dumbledore believed with his last breath that Potter was as dangerous, if not more so, than Voldemort himself."
Arthur sucked in his breath. "No!"
"Oh it gets better, dad," Bill said with a humorless smile. "And that's why you're here. The life of more than half our family hangs in the balance. For your children's sake, we need your help…"