A/N: and here we go with another chapter. Hope ya'll are enjoyin' yourselves.
Astra recovered from her wounds and was back to teaching class again. Harry could be seen on his off hours in the library looking through mounds of books instead of checking homework, though he did get a smart wrap on the skull from Astra if he didn't.
On the week after Madame Pince had been killed in the Great Hall, Harry found Hedwig and the other owl on his desk. He ran over and took the letters, reading them quickly.
I've gone to the Burrow with Lily. Mum and Dad said that it was all right and that they would watch Lily if I had to go out. I wish you all the luck in the world and give you all my love. I will protect our baby with my life if I have to, but I doubt I will.
Harry smiled and tore up the paper and then set it on fire in his hand. He didn't want the letter getting read by anyone else but him. He opened the other one and grinned, seeing Hermione's handwriting.
I'm writing you from my desk at home. Ron is on the look out for anything, though really, he needs to take it easy. He's more stressed than I am.
I think your idea would be a great one; at least Ron would finally be able to relax some being in familiar surroundings. He's worse than Crookshanks, and cats are normally high strung!
Love from the two of us,
Harry grinned as he sat back in his chair. He'd have his two best friends there to help him, just like in the old days. It had been a long time and he'd missed being with them in such a manner. The teachers' quarters were big enough for two people to live in for a long time, so he had no doubts as to Ron staying inside the castle.
He gave both owls a bit of roll he'd taken from the kitchen and stared out the window. He was going to have to find out what was going on soon or else someone else might get hurt.
"I don't get it. How did he get inside anyway? You can't get in through those windows normally. Unless, Filch the ever incompetent janitor left those windows open," said Astra as she looked at Filch as he was walking past her. Harry sighed as Filch glared at her. She grinned evilly at the man and shooed him away with a dismissive hand, languishing in the power she now had over the vile man.
Harry pulled her by her arm into the Library. "I need help finding something," he said shortly.
Astra rolled her eyes. "Do you even know what it is you are looking for?"
"Your sister said, 'Where two dragons fight' and so I'm trying to find anything on something that happens or is held between two dragons fighting."
"And you listen to her?" Astra knew better than that, but her sister did enjoy playing with people.
"You said it yourself. She doesn't speak unless she has something to say," Harry said as they walked into the library. There were children studying at the tables, some in the big comfortable chairs. Astra grunted and took her arm back as Harry walked into the restricted section. "And I have reason to believe it's in here?"
"And why is that?" Astra grunted.
Harry grinned. "Because anything that a Minimort would want would be in here."
Astra laughed, holding onto the side of a bookcase to keep herself from falling. Children turned, curious as to what was so funny that a teacher was nearly falling down.
"You've been staying around me too long, Harry," she gasped. "Minimort," she sniggered.
Harry pulled her into the restricted section and started pulling out books and looking at the spines. "No.. no… Ghost Sex Manual?" Harry stared at the cover of the book in his hands and was almost afraid to look into it, but his curiosity was getting the better of him.
Astra took it from him and opened it, looking through the pages. Then, she turned it to the side. She kept turning it around until she held it away from her like it was about to bite her, cringing. "I don't think silvery entrails can be used like that." Harry was now very glad she looked through it instead of him. He took it from her and put it back with a sigh.
She got on her toes and started bouncing up to look at the higher shelves, though Harry didn't need to do that himself. He was already at nearly eye level with the shelves. He patted her on the head and she bit him. "OW! What was that for!"
"For being taller than I am," she grunted.
"Honestly! I finally get here, my back is killing me and you two are acting like children!" Harry and Astra turned to see an irritated and very pregnant Hermione standing at the entrance of the Restricted Section. "What in the world am I going to do with you two?" she said with a smile, finally.
Harry chuckled as Astra nearly tackled Hermione, hugging her. "Oh my God! I missed you so much, Hermione!" she giggled.
Hermione laughed and patted Astra on the head as she let go of the pregnant woman. "Good girl, good girl."
Harry walked over and hugged Hermione. "Did you just arrive here?"
"As a matter of fact, yes, we did. Ron is putting our things into Madame Pince's room right now. He looks a bit like he could topple over any moment," Hermione said, chuckling.
Astra laughed. "Sounds about right! Draco went through that, though he denies it now, the idiot. Hopefully, Ron will break out of that stupor he's in right now when the kid's born."
Hermione sighed. "Not bloody likely."
Harry took Hermione over to a comfortable chair and sat down across from her, Astra standing next to Hermione's chair. "So, tell me what it is you're looking for. What is this Master that killed Madame Pince?"
"We haven't the foggiest idea," said Astra. "Minimort, as we've started calling him, just came in through the windows of the Great Hall, through the ceiling where no one would be able to see him with some sort of cross bow and shot Madame Pince when she said 'I bring a message from the Master'. Very dramatic and whatnot."
Hermione's face frowned deeply, looking to Harry. "You shouldn't be able to come in through the windows in the ceiling because they're always locked. Owls come in through the ones below, but not in the ceiling."
"I figure Pincer had something to do with it. She probably told Filch to get those windows open and keep them that way," Astra said as she put a finger to her lips, thinking. Harry could see the cogs in her mind working, almost to the point of blinding speed. She wasn't as book smart as Hermione and couldn't figure out riddles like Hermione, but she was still just as intelligent.
Harry smirked. Two good minds thinking out the entire situation would help the cause immensely. He leaned forward and placed his chin on his knuckles, pushing his glasses up. Hermione was starting to look distressed. "Er—what was the message Madame Pince saying—before—you know."
"That's it. She dropped to the ground with a bolt through the heart after she said 'I bring a message from the Master'," said Astra.
"That is the message," said Harry suddenly.
Hermione was now starting to feel useless, asking silly questions that the two of them could answer without her. "What is the message?"
Harry growled as he stood, getting that brooding look he tended to get when he was angry. His fists balled at his sides as he wondered what sort of fool he was to have not seen it before. "That is the message. He can come into this castle whenever he chooses; use anyone he wants for his deeds. He's telling us that we are powerless against him."
Astra's face hardened like Harry's, both gazing at each other over the rims of their glasses. Then, she smirked. "But he doesn't know that we are NOT powerless and that with everyone here, we can beat anything. We are stronger than one lone man coming into the castle."
"There you go with the bright and cheerful happy ending again, Astra," drawled Draco as he walked over to them. She looked at his empty hands and he smiled. "He's asleep."
Astra relaxed slightly and smiled, mouthing a thank you to him before turning to Harry. "Remember, Harry? Seventh year looked down right bleak, but Hermione figured out the countdown and we were able to stop the annihilation of Hogwarts."
"You're putting too bright an image for that situation. People were killed, more than should have been allowed," countered Harry.
"So? We stopped him. Their deaths weren't in vain," said Astra, putting her hands on her hips. "And neither will Madame Pince's."
"Oh stop being so defeatist, Harry. We'll figure out what the man's going after before he can get it," said Ron as he walked in. By now, all the students were watching the small group of adults speak.
Harry noticed them and blushed faintly. "We should speak in my office."
In Harry's office, Ron and Hermione sat down next to each other. Astra and Draco were nearest to him and he was at his desk. "Geez, Harry, you really need to check those homework papers or you're going to get in trouble with Mrs. Snape," said Astra eyeing his desk. She hated grading papers too, but at least she did it.
"Avalon said that whatever he's looking for is in between two dragons that are fighting. Does any of this sound familiar?" he asked. Hermione frowned, but shook her head, Astra just shrugged as did Ron and Draco.
"How is Kennedy?" asked Ron.
Astra seemed to shrink away from the group, as though a dark veil were suddenly dropped in front of her. "He's tired and seems to be running into things a bit more than usual," said Harry. "I still don't know what it is that's in him. The symptoms are too general."
Hermione nodded and stood up carefully with Ron's help. "What are the symptoms again?"
"Fatigue, coordination is off, can't think straight," said Harry.
"I'll look up any of those and see if I can't find something. I'll also look up anything on magical artifacts that include dragons fighting." Hermione smiled at Harry. "Don't worry, it's what I'm here for."
"What DID bring you here, Weasleyette?" Draco drawled as he put an arm around his wife's shoulders.
"Didn't Harry say anything? I've accepted the position of Librarian temporarily until they can find a new one," she said, smiling brightly.
Draco grunted, but said nothing. Astra smiled at Hermione. "I hope you won't be as mean and nasty as Pincer was."
Hermione laughed. "I'll be worse!" Then, she walked out laughing, Ron looking a bit worried as he walked behind her.
Harry grinned and leaned back in his chair. This time, he knew they were going to triumph against the Master. Hermione and Ron were there to help him and stay by his side. Astra and Draco left his office soon after Hermione and Ron left, leaving Harry alone with his thoughts. Thankfully, they were good thoughts.