It all belongs to Ms Rowling. I own nothing. Not even pants.
Frank Longbottom pulled a regulation issue flask of pepper-up potion from his pocket, took a swig and offered it to Alice. As the steam stopped spouting out his ears, he frowned in concern. Beside him, Alice corked the flask and tucked it back into his pocket.
"We won't say anything"
Frank blinked and turned to regard his wife. "Excuse me?" He looked a touch confused.
"We will not be mentioning anything about what Miss Weasley cast. As far as we are concerned, we were busy with our own spell casting. We didn't see her deal with those things, but we did notice the bodies in passing, before they started decomposing. That is all."
Frank frowned, and fingered his wand for a few moments as he thought it through. "It's interesting, we were on the other side of the fight to her, and we couldn't have seen anything. Too many people in the way."
Alice smiled faintly and kissed his temple. "You are a good man Frank Longbottom. Look at her, the poor girl is punishing herself enough."
Frank just nodded. "I've felt the same way every time I've had to cast it too." With that, he calmly wrapped his arms around his wife as they gazed out over a field covered in decomposing corpses. "You know, as distasteful as this view is. You know what it reminds me of?"
A low chuckle from Alice was all the confirmation he needed. "Our fourth date. You always did know how to show a girl a good time. Our lovely dinner interrupted by the attack, the Inferi horde, the duels and finally you stepping in front of the cutting curse that I wasn't going to be able to block. That was when I knew I was going to have to marry you, you know that Frank? There was no way in hell that I was going to let you go after that."
He nuzzled her neck softly before speaking again. "Is it just me, or have far too many major events in our lives been accompanied by a fight of some kind? I only asked you out after seeing you duel that Death Eater. I'd fallen for you after your second bludgeoning hex broke his shoulder. Our first date had those muggers, the fourth had the attack. The Honeymoon had those assassins. Not to mention the shootout we were caught in that Muggle bank a week after Neville was born."
Alice laughed softly, leaning into her husband. "My love, face it, if things like that didn't happen. You'd get bored."
"Well, possibly, it does give me a good excuse to keep my eye in."
"Frank" Her tone was dry, but amused. "The last time one of the recruits asked why you were off to practice dueling, your excuse was 'it's a day ending in Y'. "
Frank just smirked before kissing her more fully.
"Yeah?" Neville looked up at Ron from where he was seated on the ground.
"I don't know how to tell you this man, but if we don't interrupt, I think your parents are going to be getting funky on the front lawn" Ron looked slightly ill. "Old people shouldn't be acting like that. It's just wro... ow!" He winced and rubbed the back of his head, where Hermione had cuffed him. "What did you do that for?"
Hermione just fixed him with a gimlet glare for a moment before continuing to unbuckle her Gauntlet. "Leave him alone Ron. It's not like he wants to interrupt his parents mid snog. Besides, it's a good thing that they still feel that way about each other, even at their age."
Neville shuddered slightly and looked up, into the sky. "Ok beautiful, you can let them out now. Thank you for keeping everyone safe." He smiled slightly as he felt Hogwarts respond and then the huge doors began to ponderously swing open
From out of the doorway came those teachers and adults brave enough to face any threat to the students. In all, the Weasleys, Sirius Black, the teachers and no more than a dozen other adults. The group paused in their rush as they beheld the smoking battlefield that the front lawn had become. Ron and Hermione were, with casual flicks of their wands, piling the slowly decaying bodies over to the side.
"Well." Albus Dumbledore blinked slowly as he looked over the scene. "This was most unexpected. Please, do tell me what transpired here? Mr. Potter?"
Harry gently passed off Ginny to Neville, who she latched onto. "Headmaster. I had thought it would be fairly obvious. A combined force of Dementors and Inferi had been directed to attack the school. The Dementors were driven off and the Inferi were destroyed. Master Auror's Longbottom were of vital assistance, I suggest writing to the Minister to let her know of their performance in protecting the Staff and Students as well as guests from harm." A hint of a smirk touched his otherwise impassive face. "Otherwise, I'm sure you could tell her in person. Though while it gains in personalization, it lacks in formality. Now, the corpses are being piled up for examination by the DMLE for possible identification. No one was hurt, though some are more emotional than others. Those of us who participated in the defense are somewhat tired; otherwise, everything seems to be fine. Is there anything else you wish to know about Headmaster? Or can we continue with the ceremony?" The cold formality of his voice made Dumbledore blink in shock, before his shoulders slumped slightly.
"Very well Mr. Potter, I agree, the ceremony should continue. However, it will take a few minutes to finish setting everything up again."
"Of course Headmaster." Harry nodded and turned to walk over to his friends.
It took almost an hour for the ceremony to recommence and after another hour, it was over. The newly graduated students cheering as they made their way back into the great hall for their leaving feast. The atmosphere was joyous, with just a hint of nervous tension. The food was good and it appeared that Molly Weasley had both Sirius Black and her own Twins cowed enough that they were not pranking anyone.
Far too soon for many, the feast was over. The now graduated students said their goodbyes to their parents and headed off to their respective houses. Parents headed home and a tentative peace descended upon the castle. In the Gryffindor common room, hidden behind silencing charms, a scene was being played out that was mirrored in the other three. The seventh years were having their final night at Hogwarts. The other years had been sent off to their dormitories and careful wards had been put up to prevent teacher interruption.
"So I said, Pet, I said Love, I said Pet, you can lead a hippogriff to water but you can't make him drink," Seamus Finnegan was drunk. However he was not alone in this state of affairs. Beside him, Lavender Brown was staring at the shot glass that was tucked into her cleavage. A small slice of lemon was resting on one breast and a small amount of salt was on the other.
"This is a Muggle tradition? It seems a bit, you know, raunchy?" Her expression was one of a mixture of delight and apprehension.
Dean Thomas grinned. "Yeah, it can be, but unlike some other methods of doing this, our clothes are staying on."
"Oh," Lavender, in her intoxicated state, wasn't sure weather to be pleased, or upset.
Off to the side, five other ex students sat in a complicated tangle of body parts. Careful examination would later reveal that Ginny was on both Harry and Neville's laps. Hermione sat in front of the couch, leaning against both Ron and Harry.
"So, tomorrow we leave," Hermione sounded a bit despondent. "Seems wrong somehow. This is our home."
"I know." Harry sipped his firewhiskey. He, like the other four, was being careful not to get too drunk. "But this chapter is over. Tomorrow, we split up. Everyone has a mirror and it's not like we won't see each other constantly. However, we need to start building lives here. We also have to find out who this new Dork Lord is and kill him, not to mention, find Bill."
Ginny nodded an expression of worry on her face. "He's hiding somewhere uplottable and most likely under the fidelius. Well, being hidden. I've managed to find out from Gringotts that his entire team went missing on the same day he did. So most likely, it's a ward breaking job and whoever has them, doesn't want anyone else to know what's going on. From that, I can give us rough time frames before something else happens." She sighed slightly. "Ok, now their team is the best." A hint of sibling pride shone through her concern. "Whatever they are working on is most likely ancient and difficult. Bill, our Bill, once told me that his team could crack through dangerous wards in two months, difficult dangerous wards in three, and the Hogwarts wards in six. So we have at least three months before anything major."
Ron blinked. "How do you figure three months?"
"It's simple really. They will be working under duress. That will slow things down. Then they will also be subtly sabotaging themselves to draw it out. It's only when the lives of his team are at threat that they will work normally."
"Of course" Hermione nodded. "And they will have an advantage over their abductors because if the wards crash, they will destroy what is inside most likely, so they have to be cautious. Well, that's some good news at least."
"Oh Ron?" Parvati's voice drifted over to where they were. "Can you help us with something?" The girl in question was tilting slightly due to inebriation and a touch owl eyed, however a wicked smile graced her lips.
"What's up Parvati?" Ron looked slightly curious.
"Well, we were talking and I couldn't help but wonder, can I see your tattoos?" Beside her, Lavender was giggling into Seamus' shoulder.
Ron flushed red and was obviously looking for a polite way to decline when Harry nudged him. "Oh go on Paws, show her. It's not like you to be so modest." Harry had a masterful straight face up.
Ron sighed and stood up, the playful mood in the room and some Firewhiskey obviously influencing him more than he'd admit. Removing his robes, he sighed and began unbuttoning his shirt.
"You want some appropriate music Ron?" Ginny was giggling now as Neville bounced a Knut off his friend.
"Take it off!" was all Neville got out before receiving a scowl and a shirt in the face.
"Well?" Ron, shirtless, stepped closer to the Indian beauty. "Is this what you wanted to see?" He teasingly gave a bit of a flex.
Parvati shook her head slightly, her smile growing more wicked. "Not really Ron. I mean, you still have your vest on don't you?"
Ron sighed and undid the shoulder straps before pulling off the vest. He wasn't shy by any stretch of the imagination, but the way he was being regarded made him feel a little uncomfortable. "I don't suppose you wanted to see them for any particular reason?" His voice sounded higher than usual.
"Oh, mainly because I wanted to see you with your shirt off." Parvati ran one finger over the Gryffindor crest over his heart. "It's pretty rare for someone to show that much house loyalty to get a tattoo?"
"Ah, well, we all did. A sort of reminder of where we came from." The famous Weasley Blush was making a fast comeback "You know, remember that we were all…." His voice trailed off.
"It's a reminder of why we fought." Harry's voice came across as firm and uncompromising. "We are Gryffindor, we are of the Light. Gryffindors never give up. Never give in. Never surrender."
"Yeah, that's it" Ron nodded firmly. "No matter what, Gryffindors don't give up."
Parvati smiled and nodded. "True. So that would explain the Phoenix as well, pure Light. To have a magical tattoo of a Phoenix, does that mean that one had to allow it? Or is it just a picture?"
Ron shook his head slightly and touched a finger to her lips. "Don't ask questions that you know you won't get an answer to. I'm not going to spill our secrets. Not now, not ever."
Parvati just grinned. "Well, even if you don't, think of all the fun I'm going to have trying to get you to. This is our last night Ron; I'm not going to let an opportunity like this go to waste." With that, she grabbed his hand and started dragging him up to the girl's dorms entrance. Muttering something as she walked through the entrance, no alarms went off and then they were both gone upstairs.
"Bloody Hell!" Lavender was caught between shock and laughter. "I knew she was after him, but even for her, that's bold." Soon the others were too busy laughing to speak.
The next day dawned bright and sunny. Birds were singing, the sun was shining and chaos abounded around the school. Students did last minute packing, hunting for lost or forgotten items. In the Gryffindor seventh year, girl's dormitory, Ron Weasley, still looking slightly shell shocked, silently un-shrunk the broom that he carried and flew out the window. Making a few turns, he flew in the window to the common room for the travelers.
"Bloody Hell!" He rolled off his broom to flop on a couch before turning to regard an amused looking Hermione who had been sitting in one of the armchairs, reading a large book. "I don't suppose you have some pepper-up, muscle relaxant and nutrient potions handy do you?"
Hermione chuckled softly. "No Ron, but I do know that breakfast is being served for another hour, which should give you plenty of time to shower and get changed before going down to eat. Harry has already packed your trunk, so that's all you need to worry about."
Nodding, Ron pulled himself to his feet and stumbled off.
All too soon, students were climbing into the Hogwarts Express. Trunks were shrunk and compartments expanded. In one particular compartment, no less than fifteen leaving students were seated in comfortable couches that had been conjured.
"So what does everyone plan to do now?" Susan Bones asked, from where she was perched, a touch primly, on Neville's lap.
"Sleep." Came the groaned out reply from a still hung over Seamus. "Need sleep."
"Aww, poor little Seamus was worn out by the big bad Lavender was he?" Dean's tone was filled with muffled laughter.
"Are you calling me big?" Lavender eyed her friend dangerously, who rapidly paled and began to stutter out apologies, denials and pleas for mercy. The resulting laughter from the rest of the group resulting in blushes as well.
"Well, I'm going on holidays." Hannah piped up. "With Eloise and Tracey. We leave in three days. First stop, Paris, and then after we do Europe, it's off to the colonies. We've been saving and preparing for it for two years."
"So, it's not a honeymoon then? Hoping for some summer romance?" Susan teased her friend.
"Oh not like that." Hannah went bright red. "No, we will be going Muggle about a third of the time. The only firm dates we've made are New Years Eve in Sydney, Australia and Valentines Day in Cape Town."
Blaise Zabini smirked and rummaged in a pocket for a few moments before pulling out an ice chest, un-shrinking it and then offering out butterbeers. "I've got a month off and then it's on to the family business." A hint of a sly grin visible. "It's going to be tough, but at least I'll be able to hit up some of the guards for dueling training."
"So, Blaise, Blackmail, Extortion and Stand Over?" Tracey Davis grinned and tossed the cork from her butterbeer at him.
"Bah! Bah I say to you and your doubting ways!" Blaise laughed and then turned to grin at Lavender. "And now that we are no longer at school, you don't have an excuse to turn me down because you are a Gryffindor and I am a Slytherin. What say you? Might I be able to offer you a night of fine dining and dancing?"
Lavender blushed slightly. "I'll think about it. However, wouldn't it concern your family if you were to be seen with a Half-Blood?"
Blaise shook his head, his face serious. "No. Simply put, the Zabini family has always cared more about ability than blood. While I am Pureblood, my Great Aunt is Muggleborn, yet no one dared look down on at her or disparage her. She, like everyone, earned her place in our family.
Lavender sat back, thinking for a moment, before nodding slowly. "I think, I will accept. Just the once, I don't know what you are like as a person. Saturday night."
Blaise nodded. "It's a date, as the colonials say."
The rest of the group grinned at the conversation.
While this was going on, Harry pulled a brightly wrapped gift from a pocket and placed it on Hermione's lap. "As promised, one Graduation Gift. Wrapped and all."
Hermione squealed and started shredding the paper covering what was clearly a book shaped gift. "Oh Merlin, Malefic Potions, Volume 3. I can't believe you found a copy! I'd almost forgotten that I didn't have this volume. It completes my set too!" She bounced happily in her seat, hugging the old book to her chest. Across the compartment from her, there was an almost collective blink.
"Malefic Potions? You own a set of Malefic Potions? That's rarer than Most Potente Potions! Not to mention illegal as hell, banned in almost all the Wizarding nations world wide for the dark nature of the potions, not to mention the harm that some of them have done!" Susan Bones was horrified. " I can't believe you own such a vile text."
Hermione blinked and cocked her head "Really? You've read the series then? Obviously you must have to know so much about it. As opposed to hearing a hysterical third hand viewpoint that you had someone else make for you?" Her voice was scorn filled as she defended her gift.
Susan retreated, looking like she had been slapped. "Excuse me? It's common knowledge. Merlin on a Broom, the title alone is a dead giveaway! Evil Potions!"
Hermione smirked. "Really, It's common knowledge eh? Like it's common knowledge that I died. If you've never done the research and never read it, how can you have an informed opinion, rather than just being a sheep and letting people make your opinions for you?"
"Enough!" Neville's voice cut through the argument. "That is enough from both of you. Hermione, you don't need to be so hostile. Susan, I don't think you even know what is in there, why don't you find out before rendering judgment?"
Susan blushed and nodded before regarding a now red Hermione. "Might I know what potions are listed in there?"
Hermione nodded and carefully opened the text; she smirked faintly at the dedication in the front. "To my beloved Tiberius on our wedding day, Lucretia. I can't believe people would vandalise texts like this with a dedication. Anyway, moving on, the list of potions is actually fairly small; it seems to cover lunar influences on potions. There is an entire chapter here dedicated to the nature of the metals used in cauldron creation. Oh my, this is progressive, considering it was written in the 1400's. Look at this." she showed it to Harry. "The author is postulating that shrivelfigs can be used in place of immature Mandrakes. That theory was not proven for another two hundred years. Anyway, of the potions, two are definitely dark. No questions there. Blood burning poison and a very nasty compulsion potion with a heavy lust effect. However, it also has the counter potions, so bonus marks for that. It has the pre-curser to Veritaserum, The one that needed a counteragent before the effect was removed. It also has the counteragent recipe. There is a darksight potion that will allow you to see clearly at night. Oh! Dragonskin potion. The one Terry used in the duel against Ron!" Hermione bounced in glee. "This is wonderful! Thank you Harry" She gave him a smoldering kiss for a few seconds before going back to her book, leaving Harry with a bemused expression.
Across from her, Susan blushed slightly and raised her chin. "I may have been wrong about the content of the book Hermione. However, it is still listed as a restricted text. It's not illegal to own, however you cant buy or sell it. It's illegal. I don't want you to get into trouble. "
Harry grinned lightly. "I was given the text by Narcissa Malfoy as part of the ransom for her son's life. No laws were broken in the obtaining of this book. The existence of it and owning a copy is not illegal. In fact, it is something of a status symbol amongst certain parts of the community, to own such texts."
Susan blinked, blushed and smiled shyly. "Good. I'd hate to have to try to arrest you. I think the entire Auror corps is afraid of you. I'd even heard Auror Dawlish saying that it was obvious that you'd undergone all sorts of dark rituals because that was the only explanation for how good you were." She smirked slightly. "Then the Longbottoms, Auror Shacklebolt and McKinnon all rounded on him and pointed out that while you were good the main problem was that Dawlish was just that bad and that he was more of a toady than a law enforcement operative. Neville's father suggested that perhaps he needed to be taken off executive protection and be put back into a couple of months dueling trailing, so he can gain an edge."
"No amount of edge will help if he has to duel Neville's father." Terry Boot just seemed amused.
"That's the truth," Susan nodded. "Before she became minister, Auntie was head of the DMLE, she says that even back then, Auror Longbottom was scary, now it turns out that it's a familial trait." She grinned at Neville. Who just smirked and poked her in the ribs, eliciting a giggle and a squirm.
The floo in 12 Grimmauld place flared into life and in rapid succession, three figures were spat from it.
"You know, the Floo system, while I'm sure it was brilliant a hundred years ago, is just dirty and inefficient now." Hermione groused as she dusted herself off.
"So, you going to invent a better way Brains?" Harry seemed amused.
"I may too." Hermione nodded and turned to the door. "Where are our rooms?"
"Rooms? Oh, yes. Second floor, third and fourth doors on the right. Umm, are you sharing a room?" Sirius looked a touch embarrassed. "I wasn't sure, so I had two rooms prepared just in case.
Harry shrugged. "Sometimes we will, sometimes we wont. Depends how we feel each night."
"Right you are, Prongslet." Sirius grinned in good humour. "Good to see your Godfather's moral code is being observed."
"Which reminds me." Harry suddenly looked serious, eyes hard as the emeralds they were the colour of locked onto Sirius' grey eyes. "I am not Prongslet. I am not Prongs. I am Harry James Potter, who has earned the name of Streak. The Marauders weren't pranksters, but they knew how to prank. The Marauders were the most dangerous combat unit in the world. Their name struck fear into the heart of the enemy. I wont take kindly you calling me by the wrong name."
Sirius blinked and took a step back in shock.
"Don't get me wrong Padfoot, I love you. I'm immensely happy to be here, but I'm not James. Please, try to see me as my own person, not as just an adjunct to your best friend." Harry smiled softly. "Now that the uncomfortable stuff is dealt with, how about we relax, have a drink and work out what the hell we are going to do now."
Sirius nodded slowly and then clapped once. With a 'pop', a house elf, dressed in a butler's uniform appeared. "Jeeves, if you could take these fine peoples trunks up to the prepared rooms and unpack them please? We will be eating at six."
'Jeeves' Nodded and then with impossible gravity, "Of course Milord. If I may be so bold as to assume, that you will wish for excessive numbers of desert again? Or will the deuce be sufficient?"
Sirius pondered for a moment, "Excessive deserts will have to suffice for today. Thank you Jeeves."
The House elf bowed and vanished with a 'pop'.
"He is a bit crazy, but well worth it," Sirius admitted with a shrug.
Hermione and Harry just chuckled and relaxed on a couch.
The Burrow was, to the eyes of Ron and Ginny, smaller than they had remembered. The odd angles and the lopsided, about to topple over appearance was the same, but it felt smaller. There were fewer gnomes than they remembered. Even the kitchen seemed smaller.
Noticing their bewildered expressions, Charlie smiled ruefully. "It just isn't as big as you remember?" He grinned at their nods. "I felt the same way after coming home after my first year away. I wasn't sure if I was let down, relieved or what. It just, wasn't as much as I thought it was. However, it's home. Why don't you drop off your trunks and then take a look around, see if there are any differences to where you were?"
The two nodded and headed up the stairs, leaving their parents and four brothers behind, who were looking at each other in concern.
Bill Weasley sighed as he leant back in the rather comfortable armchair he was seated in. There hadn't been much choice really and now he and his crew were under a very nasty oath to curse-break and safely unseal the tomb they were going to be taken to next week. They had also included a no escaping, trying to escape or contacting someone who would try to help them escape clause. All in all, while they were in luxurious conditions now before heading off into the field, a gilded cage was still a cage. At least they hadn't been forced to agree to work at full speed. They would be able to slow things down for months if they were lucky.
A/N: Yes ! An update! Thanks to Wargear for fixing up my unspeakable abuse of the english language