Hello boys, I'M BAAAAAAACK! ::big explosion::
Ahh, ::wipes eye:: good movie. Anyways....
I'm back. Fic writing is my home. I don't think many people were too pleased with my ending to Part 2, as it received the lowest count of reviews for a chapter since chapter 14, so I wanted to get this next one out. Not to mention I need a decent chapter that didn't give away too much plot information for Witching Hour's Call for Papers (did I mention I love living in Massachusetts?). Ya'll wish me luck with that now.
Right now, I'd like to thank everyone who has thus far nominated me or my stories in the Reader's Choice Awards. I don't expect to make the cut in any of the categories I've been voted for (Novel Length: The Path Ahead, Short Fluff: Who Turned Off The Water, and Best New Author: Me), but I still appreciate the love that you guys give me.
And so, let Secrets of the Shadows, Part 3 of the Second War Trilogy begin.
Chapter 1: News and N.E.W.T.'s
Harry woke up in a cold sweat and sat straight up in bed.
"Harry? What is it?" Hermione asked sitting up beside him. He was hyperventilating and had his eyes closed, trying to block out the memory of the nightmare. "It was the dream again, wasn't it?" He nodded slowly before lying back down, looking at the patterns on the ceiling of his (and now Hermione's) room at Grimmauld Place.
Hermione draped her arm across his bare chest and looked at him. She knew what the dream was about, it even came to her too sometimes, though not as often.
"I don't suppose they'll ever go away," Harry said with a sigh. "It would bad enough if it were just you, but I see Ginny too. Sometimes I'll even get one with Ron and Luna."
"I know," Hermione said softly. "Do you want me to get Dobby?"
"No, it's –" but Harry didn't have time to finish his sentence as Dobby had heard his name called and appeared in the room.
"Miss called for Dobby?" he asked, polishing a silver goblet with his red and yellow polka dotted tie.
"No, Dobby, sorry," Hermione said. "I was just asking Harry if he wanted me to."
"Sir has had another nightmare?"
"Yeah," Harry said laying his arm over his eyes. "What time is it?"
"'Tis ten of six," Dobby replied.
"Might as well get up then," Harry said. "Could you start the breakfast, Dobby?"
"Of course sir," the house-elf said before disappearing with a slight pop.
"Are you going to go back to sleep?" Harry asked Hermione as he got out of bed and threw on a white t-shirt.
"I don't see why," she said getting up and mimicking Harry's action by also throwing on a white tee. "It's never a bad thing to get a head start on the day."
"D'you think your parents are up yet?" he asked pulling on a pair of denim jeans. Hermione looked at her simple gold wristwatch (a graduation present from her parents) as she picked it up off the nightstand and put it on her wrist.
"Probably," she said, grabbing a pair of khaki shorts from her dresser. "They're still used to getting up early for work." Harry only shook his head and sighed. "It's not your fault," she said reading his thoughts. "If anything, they're alive because of you."
"The fact that I'm the reason they have no house and can't go to their day jobs is a good thing then?" Harry asked spitefully as he sat down on the bed. Hermione sighed and sat down next to him, putting an arm around his shoulders.
"It won't last forever."
Those words had the effect of calming Harry down enough to look into Hermione's soft eyes, and he realised that what she was saying was true.
"Good," she said getting up. "Now stand up, I want to make the bed." Smiling, Harry rose and Hermione went and re-tucked the sheet underneath the top mattress. "What are you smirking about?" she asked, seeing his grin.
"I still don't understand the purpose of making the bed when all we do is get right back in it," he said shrugging. Hermione narrowed her eyes and walked past Harry on her way to the door.
"It's more comfortable," she said as she stepped out into the hallway.
"Comfortable?" Harry asked, joining her in the hall and closing the door to his room. "We don't sleep on the sheets you know." Hermione kept walking but turned to look at him and narrowed her eyes slightly.
"I suppose that's a matter of how you look at it," she said with a slightly devious grin. Although it took Harry a minute to realise what Hermione was talking about, when he did, he vowed to make the bed in the morning from then on and spare her the trouble.
They entered the basement kitchen and were greeted with the warming smell of frying bacon and eggs. Taking their usual seats at the table, Dobby was quickly at their side serving them food before going and collecting the ingredients for a batch of raspberry pancakes.
"Is sir and miss satisfied?" Dobby asked from the pantry.
"Vewy," Harry said with his mouth full. Hermione gave him a stern look and he swallowed his food. "Very, Dobby. Thank you."
Dobby's grin reached from ear to ear as he quickly used his magic to conjure a bowl to stir the batter in.
"Harry Potter is too kind," he said. "Dobby is only doing chores that Dobby should be doing."
"We're still appreciative of them," Hermione said.
"I thought I smelled bacon," said a voice from above their heads. Harry looked up to see his best friend–turned ghost descending from the ceiling into a seat next to him. "What are you two doing up so early?"
"Good morning to you too, Ron," Hermione said with a grin. The ghost yawned and scratched his once-flaming-red hair.
"I'm not a morning person. So sue me," he said with a smile. "Have another bad night?"
"Yeah," Harry sighed as Dobby loaded a stack of pancakes onto his plate. "Thanks, Dobby." The house-elf bowed as he served Hermione. "It's still the same dream."
"I've been getting a lot more nightmares too," Ron said. "Visions of the battle in Hogsmeade, Ginny, Luna..."
"It's never a good sign," Harry replied. "The one thing I know about nightmares is that they're never a good sign."
"You're telling me," said Ginny, walking into the kitchen wearing her pyjamas. "I thought I smelled bacon." Harry and Hermione couldn't help but share a chuckle at this.
"You and your brother have more in common than I thought," Harry said.
"Oh, sod off," Ginny said, pulling a plate towards her.
"My, my, a bit tetchy, aren't we?" asked Ron.
"You would be too if your boyfriend was being forced to give testimony on what happened in May."
"They're still after him about that?" Hermione asked. Ginny nodded solemnly.
Draco, just as he had said, had been accepted for the job he applied for at the Ministry. However, since then he had been held there and subjected to the very worst of the Auror and Unspeakable Divsions to make sure he wasn't a spy working for Voldemort. He hadn't been able to join Ginny and the Weasleys at the Burrow as they'd planned (even though that wouldn't have happened anyway, as Dumbledore had moved everyone to headquarters as a safety precaution), and from what Ginny said, he'd been forced to drink some very vile potions to ensure that he spoke naught but the truth.
Almost as if on cue, the fireplace roared to life with green flames, and out came the topic of their conversation.
"Draco!" Ginny squealed as she rushed over to embrace him in a hug. He apparently wasn't prepared with anyone being up so early and was nearly bowled over as a result.
"Whoa, easy there, Gin," he said brushing the soot of his robes. He was leaning in to kiss her when Ron cleared his throat and made them jump apart. "Well, aren't we all up a bit early."
"The bacon's good," Harry said holding up a piece. Draco sat down at the table next to Ron and pulled a plate towards him. "How'd you get here, anyway?"
"Well, the final hearing was today and Dumbledore showed up on my behalf," the blond said, taking a swig of orange juice. "After it was over, he told me how to get here."
"If sirs or misses would like anything else then please let Dobby–"
Draco choked on his eggs as he spun around to face the elf, whose eyes promptly bulged out and let out a loud squeak.
"Oh, that's right," Harry said in a bored tone of voice. "You two need a re-introducing."
"Ha-Harry Potter sir, certainly mister Malfoy isn't staying here, is he?" Dobby asked, looking more terrified than Harry had even seen him, and that was saying something.
"I do believe I am staying here," Draco said. "Is that a problem?"
"N-n-no problem, sir..."
"Stop it," Hermione snapped, causing everyone in the room to look at her. "Draco, Dobby has been kind enough to offer his services while we live here. Dobby, Draco will be staying here in order to protect himself. Now I realise that the two of you may not exactly fancy each other, but Draco, you will treat Dobby with the due respect he deserves in Harry's house."
"Our house," Harry corrected, causing Hermione to look at him.
"Our house, then," she said with a slight smile. "Is that clear?"
"Good, now let's enjoy this wonderful breakfast, shall we?"
Draco gave one last look at Dobby and sighed before resuming his breakfast. Dobby continued to putter around the kitchen, though doing his best to stay as far away from his former master's son as possible.
"So how'd it go?" Ginny asked, once everyone had calmed down again.
"Well apparently I'm not a spy, so I can go to work regularly now," Draco said. "Oh, and by the way, Potter, Dumbledore asked me to tell you that he's going to be stopping by later on, though I think I already know why."
"Enlighten us, then," Hermione said. Draco stared at her in surprise.
"You mean I know something you don't?" he asked in mock surprise. "What a wonderful day for everyone who isn't Hermione Granger."
"Malfoy..." Harry said warningly.
"Fine, I'm sorry, but I had to get that out of my system," he said with a smile, although no one else at the table joined him in his sentiment. "Dumbledore's coming by to announce the new Minister."
"They finally decided, then?" Ron asked. Draco nodded.
"Who's it going to be?" Ginny asked, causing her boyfriend to sigh.
"Well, let's just put it like this," he said. "I never thought I'd see the day where a Weasley became Minister of Magic. Nothing against you Ginny, of course." The other four pairs of eyes in the room widened in surprise and excitement.
"Oh my gosh, Dad became Minister?" Ginny squealed, before throwing herself at Draco with her arms open.
"This is great!" Ron exclaimed. "And with Dad as Minister, you two'll get into the Auror program for sure!" he said to Harry and Hermione. Their smiles widened, but it was all short-lived as Draco cleared his throat.
"I'm sorry to ruin your celebration, but Arthur Weasley is not the new Minister of Magic," he said.
"What?" four voices said at once.
"Then who is?" Ron demanded.
"Your brother," Draco said. "Percy."
These time-shattering silences were starting to irritate Harry. For a moment no one did anything. Hermione's and Ginny's eyes were wide with surprise, Ron's mouth was slightly agape, and Harry was slowly counting down in his head to when the outburst would occur.
Ron's mouth closed and his fists clenched.
"HOW COULD THEY BLOODY ELECT HIM?!" Ron roared.
"Ron, shut up," Ginny hissed. "You'll wake everyone."
"I don't bloody care!" he yelled. "How...why on Merlin's green earth would the Wizengamot elect Perfectly Pompous Percy?"
"Well he was the leading candidate," Draco said. "Apparently they thought he did a stellar job as Senior Undersecretary–"
"Bollocks!" Ron yelled. "Don't you remember that bill he submitted to the Wizengamot on pure-blood superiority?"
"To be fair, Ron, he was proposing an amendment to change the laws so that muggle-borns could hold higher-up positions in the government," Hermione said.
"He might as well have just said that the entire population of muggle-borns are worth less than a single pure-blood," Ron huffed.
"I think he was trying to convey the exact opposite, actually," Harry said.
"Fine, side with them!" Ron exclaimed, waving his arms. "I'm going to tell Mum and Dad." With that, he drifted up from his seat at the table and floated through the ceiling.
"He'll get over it," Ginny said once her transparent brother had vanished. "But it'll take a while. Dear me...Percy, of all people..."
"This isn't good," Hermione said.
"How come?" Harry asked.
"Well there are two big reasons. One, Arthur's job could now be in jeopardy depending solely on Percy's mood. Two, our future as aurors could also be in serious danger. You know how quick he was to side with Fudge during that whole mess in fifth year. And if he thinks along those lines, then my chances are slim, because pretty much everyone knows that I'm the future Mrs. Harry Potter," she said lifting her hand to show him the engagement ring.
"Well now, isn't everyone up bright and early today," said David Granger walking into the kitchen, his wife in tow. "I thought I heard someone yelling."
"That would be my git of a brother," Ginny said with a frown. "Sorry about that."
"Oh, no trouble at all," Emma Granger said, sitting down at the table. "And you're.....Draco, right?" she asked him, to which he nodded. "You'll be staying with us now?" Again, another nod. "Well what was all the fuss about this morning?"
"A new Minister of Magic was elected this morning," Hermione said. "It's Percy Weasley." Her parents exchanged confused looks at this.
"Er...is this a bad thing?" David asked.
"He's no better than Fudge," Ginny said. "He's an older brother of mine, though we try to forget that he's part of the family."
At this point a very loud screech was heard from somewhere above them, followed by a loud thud.
"And that would be Ron telling Mum and Dad," Ginny said morosely.
"Is he really that bad?" Emma Granger asked.
"I don't suppose Hermione told you about what happened in my fifth year?" Harry responded.
"Well yes, but what does this Percy have to do with you?" Emma said.
"He was one of the few that voted for my expulsion."
Suddenly there was a loud yell heard from the vicinity of the stairs.
"This is absurd!" came the unmistakable voice of Molly Weasley from the hall. "How could this have happened?"
"Now, now, Molly, there's no need to overreact..."
"I'm not overreacting!" the matriarch of the Weasley clan screeched as she and Arthur came through the door followed by Fred, George, and Ron. She stopped when she noticed everyone assembled in the room. "What are you all doing up so early?"
"People seem to be commenting on that a lot today, don't you think?" Harry asked with a smile.
"Well I'm glad that someone is able to find humour in all this!" Molly yelled. "Percy as Minister, what was the Wizengamot thinking–"
"Yes, a lot of people were most surprised when I nominated him," a disturbingly calm voice said from the doorway.
"Albus, how good of you to join us," Arthur said, walking over and shaking the headmaster's hand.
"Thank you, Arthur, although it seems the primary reason for my visit has already been revealed," he said, glancing over his spectacles at Draco, who promptly fixed his gaze on his empty plate.
"Why Percy?" Hermione asked. "Why not Amelia Bones, for instance?"
"She was considered," Dumbledore said, conjuring himself a chair and sitting down at the table. "But she openly requested not to be voted for."
"Why not?" Ron asked. Dumbledore shrugged.
"Apparently she didn't want the responsibility," he said. "Though you can hardly blame her. One doesn't spend 26 years being the Head of Magical Law Enforcement and not feel over-excessively responsible for things beyond one's control."
"So you nominated Percy," George said, taking a sip of orange juice. "Don't get me wrong Albus, none of us would ever argue with you–" he glanced at Harry with a small snicker. "Well, most of us."
"But why on earth would you choose him?" Fred finished.
"I wish to impress upon all of you the fact that I have no interest in political power for myself in the least," Dumbledore stated. "That being said, we need someone in office who will be easy for us to watch. Someone who is......inexperienced in political matters involving high power, and can be swayed easily by the right people."
"And who do we have in the Ministry that could do that?" Molly asked. Dumbledore's head turned until his gaze was fixed upon a seat three to the left of him, and slowly all eyes in the room fell on Draco, who noticed this.
"Me?" he asked incredulously. "No. Not happening. Not a chance in hell."
"As a result of your late father's connections, not to mention some sizeable donations that have been made in your name as of late, you'll find that swaying the opinion of someone like Percy will not be difficult at all," the headmaster said with a smile. Draco considered this for a moment.
"I'm not usually one to pass up an opportunity for power," he said. "But what do I get out of all of this?"
"I think," Dumbledore said evenly. "That considering the...er, mess I've helped you out with in the past two weeks, perhaps you could do this as a personal favor to me?" The graduated Slytherin took a long pull from his goblet.
"All right," he said after a moment. "But on one condition."
"I really don't think it's very polite of you to be making demands," Molly said, but was silenced by Dumbledore.
"I want in on the Order of the Phoenix."
"A reasonable request," the headmaster said. "I have no arguments against it, but other members surely will."
"Not if I back him, they won't," Harry said, causing all eyes in the room to be turned on him. "Oh come on, Draco and I hated each other as much as my father and Snape. If and when I vouch for him, he'll be admitted."
There was a stunned silence following these words, whilst Dumbledore simply twinkled away at Harry.
"Well I think I've said all I need to say," the headmaster said, rising. "I'll let you all get to your day-to-day activities then. Oh, and Hermione?"
"Yes, sir?" she asked.
"You may expect what you've been so anxiously awaiting sometime this morning." Hermione's eyes grew wide at this, and Dumbledore merely smiled and exited the room.
"What was he going on about?" Ron asked.
"Do you really think he meant it?" Hermione asked, suddenly very giddy.
"Meant what?" Harry replied.
"Oh, if they come today I'll be so thrilled, we weren't supposed to get them for another week–"
"Hermione, are you going to make me read your mind to figure out what you're talking about?" Harry asked with a smile. She was about to respond when a loud bang was heard from the fireplace, and Fawkes gracefully glided out of it and landed on the table, dropping several thick envelopes among the usual mail.
"Our N.E.W.T.'s!" Hermione exclaimed, rushing over to the letters and looking for hers.
"Is it that time in our young friend's lives already?" Fred asked, glee running rampant through his features.
"I believe so, my esteemed brother," George said, a huge smile plastered on his face.
"Well then, let's see what you got!" Ron exclaimed, watching Harry, Hermione, and Draco find the envelopes containing their results.
"What about you?" Ginny asked, looking for a letter that would have Ron's grades.
"Me?" he asked with mock indignation. "Why in Merlin's name, my dear sister, would I expend exorbitant amounts of energy on exams that hold absolutely no meaning in my future whatsoever?"
The entire room stopped and stared at Ron.
"What?" he asked, slightly startled.
"I never thought that Ron Weasley would ever use three four-syllable words in a sentence that made absolutely perfect sense," Hermione said with a huge smile. Immediately the room broke into a chorus of laughter while Ron did his best to look somewhat embarrassed.
"Go on then, let's have a look!" David Granger said with a grin. Draco opened his first and quickly scanned the letter.
"'O' in potions and charms, 'E' in everything else," he said. Ginny squealed and wrapped her arms around him in a hug, causing a little redness to creep into his otherwise pale cheeks.
"That's wonderful!" she exclaimed, her voice muffled in his robes.
"Er, thanks, Gin."
"Well, what about you two then?" Molly asked, trying to look affronted at her only daughter's obvious display of affection, but failing slightly.
"Together?" Hermione asked Harry.
They both ripped open the envelopes and two letters fell out of each of them. Hermione squealed upon reading her letter, which for Hermione was quite rare.
"I got 'O's in everything I took!" she exclaimed, and was immediately swamped by her parents' congratulations and hugs.
"Oh, that's so wonderful, dear!" her mother exclaimed, while her father was beaming.
"You've got a tough act to follow, mate," Fred whispered to Harry, clapping him on the back. Shrugging, he looked at his letter containing his marks.
Mister Harry James Potter
Hogwarts High-Level N.E.W.T. examinations:
Defense against the Dark Arts: Outstanding
Transfiguration: Exceeds Expectations
Charms: Exceeds Expectations
Care of Magical Creatures: Outstanding
Other Significant Mentions:
6th Year: Prefect
7th Year: Prefect, Head Boy, Captain of Quidditch
"Well, how did you do?" Hermione asked, finally breaking away from her parents long enough to talk to Harry.
"Three 'O's, two 'E pluses'," he said.
"Harry that's wonderful!" Hermione exclaimed, giving him a hug.
"Fanks," he said, muffled by her hair. "Hey, what are these?" he asked, pulling the two other sheets of parchment that had come with their grades towards him.
"I don't know," Hermione said. Harry handed her the one that had come with her letter, while scanning his.
Dear Mister Potter,
Your application to the Auror Training Program has been received and carefully considered. Your marks are more than sufficient, and your leadership skills are of a very high quality. Therefore, I am pleased to inform you that you have been accepted into the ATP, along with one other person who applied. We expect to see you at Auror Headquarters, Level Two in Ministry of Magic, on June 20th. Bring only your wand. Congratulations on your acceptance.
Kingsley Shacklebolt, Head of Magical Law Enoforcement
"Bloody hell," whispered Ron over Harry's shoulder. "I didn't know you had already applied."
"I didn't," Harry said in an equally low tone. "And I thought Amelia Bones was the Head of Magical Law Enforcement." He glanced over at Hermione who was re-reading her letter. "What does yours say?"
"I got into the auror program," she whispered. "I hadn't even applied yet." Harry showed his letter to her.
"Not that I'm complaining," he said. "But how is this possible?" As if to answer him, Fawkes separated a letter from the pile and pushed it towards Harry. Seeing both his and Hermione's names on it, he opened the envelope and brought it next to him so both he and Hermione could read it.
Dear Mr. and Soon-To-Be-Mrs. Potter,
Neither of you were aware of this, but upon receiving information regarding your N.E.W.T. grades, I took it upon myself to submit applications to the Auror Training Program for both of you. I would therefore like to offer my heartfelt congratulations to each of you. It is a profession that Lily and James would have been proud to see you both in.
Minerva McGonagal, Deputy Headmistress of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardy
P.S. I told you I would help you become an auror if it was the last thing I did, Harry. Good luck.
"Well, wasn't that nice of her," Harry said with a huge grin.
"Would you like to tell us what exactly is going on?" Fred asked. Only then did Harry and Hermione look up and realise that the entire room had been watching them intently with bated breath. Smiling, he held up the letters.
"Hermione and I are going to become aurors," he said with a grin. There was silence for a few seconds before the entire room with the exception of Draco and Hermione's parents erupted in cheers and applause.
"Well done, you two!" Arthur was shouting from near Molly, who had tears of joy running down her face. "First aurors in five years!"
"Forgive me for saying so," David said. "But why is this such a monumental occasion?"
"Why?" chorused the Weasley twins in unison.
"Because auror is one of the most prestigious jobs a wizard can hold!" Fred exclaimed.
"They're all looked upon with the utmost respect and admiration!" George added.
"Not to mention that they're eligible for some very high ranking positions later on in their careers," Arthur said. "For example, Barty Crouch was an auror in his early days, and he almost became Minister."
"Yeah, but look what happened to him," Draco said with a scoff, causing everyone to look at him.
"Way to kill the mood, Malfoy," Ron said.
"Terribly sorry," he replied. "But I haven't been to sleep for several days straight now, so forgive me if I don't join in the celebrating and retire."
"Where do you plan on sleeping?" Harry asked.
"Dumbledore said I could take the fourth room on the left on the second floor," he said. "So I'll be in there." Harry nodded, and Draco rose from his seat and left.
"We must have a party!" George exclaimed once the door closed. "In honor of the two newest aurors, Harry and Hermione!"
"I think that's reasonable," Emma said. "When?"
"Tonight," said Fred with a grin. "There's a wonderful restaurant in Diagon Alley that has a banquet hall for formal occasions. We'll rent it out."
"Whoa, whoa, whoa," said Harry. "Banquet hall? Formal occasions?"
"Quite right!" exclaimed Fred, clapping Harry very hard on the back. "We've been wanting to do something like this for a while now, anyway. Ever since you gave us your prize money from the Triwizard Tournament, we've felt we needed to repay you, so we'll do it now."
Harry looked at Hermione, who smiled and shrugged.
"Okay," Harry said with a chuckle. The twins let out a cheer and quickly huddled together to run through a list of things.
"Here's the plan," Fred said addressing the room. "Everyone meet at Angelo's at six-thirty tonight, and–"
"What?!" Molly shrieked. "Angelo's? Are you out of your minds?! You can't afford that!"
"Au contraire," George said with a grin. "'Tis but petty cash for us."
"You're joking, right?" Ginny said.
"Not at all," Fred replied. "I realise we don't divulge our financial status to all of you, but rest assured, this will barely put a dent in what we have right now." Molly could only shake her head in disbelief and Fred continued.
"Anyway," he said. "Angelo's at six-thirty, and please clean up nice. This place is very high class."
"Are you sure about this?" Harry asked. "I don't want you guys to go to too much trouble."
"Trust us, Harry," George said. "It's no trouble. Just don't ask us to do this for you all the time once you've tried the food."
"Is it that good?" Hermione asked.
"Oh yes," Fred replied. "Angelo's. Six thirty. Now go enjoy your day!" With that Fred and George promptly walked over to the fireplace, threw in some floo powder, and shouted 'Weasley's Wizarding Wheezes' before stepping into the flames and vanishing.
"Well," said Ron with an amused look. "This should be interesting."
And that's the first installment.
In regards to chapter length...in the past I've had some people complain to me about my chapters being simply too long. I can understand that. I usually try to write about 12-17 page chapters for each update, but that won't be continuing with this story for two reasons. One, it can cause boredom on the part of the reader (though I hope this is never the case), and two, long chapters are frightfully difficult to write. So with that in mind, I would like to inform all of you, that because of slightly shorter chapters, they will:
a.) Be of better quality (which I'm sure no one cares about :-P )
b.) Be updated quicker (stay seated)
I'm not promise faster updates, I'm just saying that it may happen a few times throughout the course of the story. There will be no updates past the usual day of the week line (which from here on out is Friday). So you all can thank me for that later j/k j/k. Until next time.