Title: Harry Potter and the Cup of Death

Synopsis: Post HBP Harry decides to forgo returning to Hogwarts to search for the remaining Horcruxes with Ron, Hermione and the only one who can complete the riddles Dumbledore has left Harry.

Disclaimer: I own nothing except a computer. And it's a crappy old one... So what I'm saying is - don't sue me.

Rating: Pg-13

A/N: Yeah yeah, I am a total fibber, and a slacker, and I have an excuse! And oh dear. Well anyway this HALF of this chapter. The other half is not finished due to my muse having done a runner! So review! Inspire me! Make suggestions! Oh and thanks to my three reviewers! You guys are the reason I am updating this story!
Chapter 3: Stranger at the Burrow(Part 1)

The Burrow was a hive of activity as the big day drew ever closer. Everyday more visitors arrived in the village and a nearby field had been made unplottable and invisible so a large temporary building could be set up to house many of the wizards and witches- not to mention goblins- who were attending the wedding of Bill and Fleur. At the back of the yard the ever present mist was hiding under shrubs that were brittle and brown in the unseasonably cold weather. Behind Harry Hedwig twittered in her cage, she seemed resentful towards Harry and he felt that perhaps it was because he had hardly used her in the last year except for two notes to Ron and Hermione during the last week when he had been at the Dursley's.

As he thought about that short week at the Dursley's he remembered the strange reaction of Aunt Petunia when he had told her Dumbledore had been killed. He had waited three days to tell them so that when (as he had assumed they would) they threw him out he would at least have spent several days in the house. Uncle Vernon had simply looked rather like a rather stunned and purplish mullet- while Aunt Petunia had gone pale, her thin lips quivering and her eyes more afraid than Harry had ever seen them, and they were looking at him with a curious expression. Her next words however had been the most surprising.

'You saw him die.' The words had been said in a hushed tone and she had looked for a moment as though she was going to cry- rather she had leapt from her chair and wrapped her bony arms around his shoulders. This had torn Dudley's face from the television as he stared at her with his mouth open in unflattering shock. Uncle Vernon had been even more shocked his face rapidly going pale and his eyes wildly looking anywhere but at them.

Finally he gave a sort of choked cough that made him sound as though he was being killed. At his cough Aunt Petunia had let go of him and blown her nose loudly into her handkerchief and dabbed at her eyes.

It had been one of his more bewildering experiences that summer- not that there hadn't been plenty of other strange an perplexing things going on. Staying in a house with Ginny was like a sort of strange torture- she had become distant and hurt, her face harder and never seeming quite as happy as should be. Harry felt a strange guilt for this: he could not in good conscience stay with her it would put her in terrible danger yet at the same time the monster inside him asked whether if he loved her so much why was it so easy to let her go- and was it really for her safety?

Hermione and Ron on the other hand where exchanging what they obviously thought secret smiles and Harry was fairly sure – though he had not yet caught them at it- secret kisses. Meanwhile little Gabrielle Delacour had arrived three days ago with her parents and she seemed to have developed a vast desire to spend every possible moment in Harry's company. At every opportunity she was showing off her magical skills and her not inconsiderable Veela charms, though Harry noticed that the more he resisted them the weaker her efforts became and now she too was moping around the place as well.

Thus Harry was spending his time either hiding here in his room with a book or with whatever Order member was present and otherwise unoccupied. His mind was never far from the events of the previous year, his day dreams lingering fondly over memories of the lessons he had shared with Professor Dumbledore. His mind constantly thinking over the task he had set himself. He looked down at the book in his hands Hogwarts: A History was definitely not a fascinating read, and he had yet to find anything truly useful- just as Hermione had said. Still it had given him more information about the school and its founders.

With a grunt he shut the large book and stood. He took it over to the bed and set back in the trunk that was propped against the bottom of the bed. He'd have to return to Diagon Alley soon to buy every spell book that might be useful in the year ahead- but that was at least three or four days away for that as the wedding was now less then a day away.

"Harry! Lunch!" called Mrs. Weasley's voice. Harry groaned, normally lunch at the burrow was a joy, with wonderful rich food and happiness and laughter, but since Fleur's parents had arrived this was no longer the case. It could not be plainer that they believed their precious daughter was making a terrible mistake, Mrs. Delacour in particular seemed to find the Weasley house and its occupants as beneath her- except for Harry. He could have handled the awkward silences and complex games of insults disguised as compliments or idle comments that the two mothers were involved in, or that Mrs. Delacour preferred to only speak to him and was encouraging Gabrielle to pursue him if only the food had remained as delicious and filling but after the first meal with the Delacour's Mrs. Weasley was spending hours preparing strange and obscure dishes and odd finger food.

As he walked over to the door he heard several cars pull up outside. He hurried to the window to see two ministry cars out the front. Professor McGonagall and Kingsley Shacklebolt got out of the first car with a middle aged woman dressed in dark grey robes that matched her steel grey hair that formed strict curls around what Harry thought was an equally forbidding and stern face, Mad-Eye followed a second or so later.

Harry looked at the other car, Tonks had just stepped out. Harry blinked, her hair was now a very vivid very shocking electric blue, he grinned as he thought about what Mrs. Delacour would think of Tonks, Remus Lupin- and Harry once again thought of Mrs. Delacour's raised eyebrows and downturned mouth as he saw his old professor's rumpled appearance. He stood behind Tionks for a moment before turning around as a third figure emerged Harry didn't know.

Rich auburn hair glowed in the sunlight around a very pale face. Whoever she was she looked very muggle-like, she would have gone unnoticed on any muggle street - even Aunt Petunia could not have found anything to complain about.

She looked around and a small smile formed on her face as she took in the burrow. Suddenly as though sensing she was being watched she looked up and met his gaze.

Harry frowned as pale blue eyes stared right at him, eyes that seemed too large for the small pale face they were in. He frowned as the Order members formed up around her, they seemed worried as they hurried her into the house, Mad-Eye coming last with the steel haired woman in grey who had bewitched a large black trunk to fly in front of her.

Harry watched them enter the house and hastened downstairs to meet them in the little entry hall.

"No, no Molly- not staying, just Aislinn as we arranged." Professor McGonagall was saying. As he turned around to look in he noticed that most of the Order members were waiting outside the door.

"Oh but lunch is only just on the table Minerva…" offered Mrs. Weasley.

"Oh no I have to leave." Said McGonagall who with a final look at the young woman hurried back out the door.

"We'll stay Molly." Said Lupin with a smile as the woman in grey maneuvered the trunk against the wall. Harry felt a strange lightness at those words and couldn't help the smile that covered his face. The matronly witch in grey had returned to the young witchAnd turned to the young girl who Harry guessed was about his age.

"Thank you." Her voice was low and commanding. Harry had a feeling it was a voice people listened to. The woman in grey bowed and walked outside, closing the door behind her as she did.

"Wotcher Harry!" called Tonks as she and the girl turned and saw him watching.

"Hi Tonks, Hi Lupin." Replied Harry, grateful for any company that might make lunch a more enjoyable affair. Lupin turned and smiled at Harry.

"Hello Harry." He placed a hand on the shoulder of the young girl. "Aislinn this is Harry, Harry- Aislinn." the two nodded to each other.

"Hi." Said Harry, smiling at her again. Once again he barely got a response and now he could see why, the large blue eyes were bloodshot and her face though pale was marked by dark circles under each eye. She had the fragile look of someone who stayed up late at night weeping and it made Harry uneasy- he had seen that look all to frequently. He felt his smile slide off his face like wet mud.

"Hello." He was surprised when her eyes did not flick up to look at his scar and she instead turned to follow Mrs. Weasley who seemed a little uncertain as to what to do or say while she studied slender witch.

"Well, come on through." She finally said and led them through the house, The witch passed Harry with barely a glance and fell into step just behind Mrs. Weasley as they walked through the house to the back yard, where due to the large number of people coming, lunch was being served.

"Thank you for having me Mrs. Weasley." The words were said in the same low voice. Today even Mr. Weasley, Bill, Charlie and Fleur were coming home for lunch and Mrs. Weasley wasted no time in telling the Aislinn that, speaking in a motherly tone as she patted the girl's slight shoulder and explaining proudly what Arthur Weasley's job was.

As they stepped out into the back yard the sun broke from its hiding place behind the clouds and warmth spread over the back yard. Harry quickly glanced around the table as everyone turned to look at the new arrivals and mostly to stare at Aislinn. Harry saw that Mr. Weasley, Bill, Charlie and Fleur had arrived as planned and even Fred and George were there, there lurid green dragon skin coats positively glowing in the sudden sunlight.

He hastily looked away as Mrs. Delacour moved towards him to maneuver him into a seat between her and Gabrielle- as had already happened at three previous terrible meals that he would rather forget. Seizing upon a sudden inspiration he caught Aislinn's gaze and smiled. She returned a curious look and then thankfully very quickly caught on as he motioned for her to follow him.

"So Aislinn how long will you be staying here?" he asked as he felt rather than saw Mrs Delacour watching him he had the unpleasant itching feeling between his shoulders that told him she was probably glaring at him but he didn't dare look at her.

"Three days. And you?" she asked – looking Harry felt as uninterested as it was possible to be when one had just asked a question, her eyes roving back and forwards over the people around her with sharp blue eyes.

"Oh, I've been here nearly a week now, I'm staying here for a few more days then heading for Diagon Alley-" he led her rather quickly around the end of the table and towards Ron, Hermione and Ginny who always made a point of sitting as far away as possible from where Mrs Delacour was. "I also have to pass my Apparition test at the Ministry." He said with a half glance at Mrs. Delacour, she had a rather sour expression on her face and was looking at Tonks and Lupin with the exact sort of distaste as he had expected.

"Ah." She said nodding as he motioned for her to take a large padded cane chair next to Hermione while he took a straight backed wooden chair which had seen better days next to Ginny.

"These are my friends, Ron and Hermione-" he motioned to each of them who smiled. "-and Ginny-" he motioned to her and she smiled too, though Harry noticed it seemed a little strained. "And that's Fred and George- they run 'Wealsley's Wizarding Wheezes'." She smiled and leaned forward slightly to say hello to the twins who were sitting just past Ginny. Just then Mr. Weasley stepped up to the head of the table, he had a large grin on his face as he looked around the table, his eyes first lingering over Bill and Fleur and then over Aislinn- Harry thought he saw the grin waver when Mr. Weasley looked at her but that could be just his imagination.

"Everyone- we have a new face here, this is Aislinn, she will be staying with us for a short while. And for those of you who have not already met them this is Remus Lupin-" he waved at Lupin "- and Tonks. Now then lunch." He said with enthusiasm and sat down abruptly, his face still grinning.

"Have you passed your Apparation Test yet?" asked Ginny, from the other side of Aislinn.

"No, I don't turn seventeen until December. But I've already done the training for my test." Ron was making a disgruntled noise, he had failed his second test by a hair's breadth by apparating inside the front gate of the Burrow instead of outside the front gate. Aislinn smiled sympathetically at Ron who was making stabbing motions at the jacket potato on his plate as Hermione passed the plate of jacket potatoes to Harry who helped himself to two before passing it to Aislinn who passed it straight to Ginny.

"They're good." said Harry warningly with a nod at the Jacket potatoes that Ginny was helping herself too. The next food being sent their way was some strange meat and vegetable mixture that was a yellowish color. Harry took one look and hastily passed it on to Aislinn who didn't even glance at it before passing it on to Ginny. Finally lunch began in earnest and Harry was relieved that he had managed to find enough foods that he knew what were or that looked edible to fill his plate with.

"Did you hear about Marcurio Bodwell and his family?" asked Fred to his father. The conversations that had begun around the table halted as everyone turned to look at Fred with frightened eyes. Mrs Weasley looked even more shocked than the others, she had imposed a complete ban on anything to do with the war being brought up at the meal table which had meant that any extra information had had to be got in quick whispered conversations before or after mealtimes and as Harry had been cornered for days by Mrs Delacour he had missed out on anything the Daily Prophet didn't print.

Mrs Weasley lost her surproised look and Harry saw her face tighten into anger. "Not now Fr-"

"What's happened?" interrupted Aislinn, leaning forwards to look at the twins.

"The whole family was killed last night. Only found an hour or two ago." There was dark uncomfortable silence. Aislinn sat back in her chair, her eyes staring directly across the table into thin air.

"The Aurors were far too late again then." She said, her voice dripping with bitterness. Bill laughed humorlessly.

"I'm sorry to say it –especially in front of you Tonks-" he said nodding to the blue haired witch. "But the Aurors are lucky to even find people the same day they're killed- even one of their own."

"That's alright Bill, I say it myself." Said Tonks moodily, as she spoke her hair seemed to dull.

"I thought we said none of that talk at the table." Said Mrs Weasley her face pinched and angry as her eyes flashed around the able. Fred, Bill and Tonks all looked slightly guilty. Aislinn sat back in her chair, her eyes still seemingly staring at nothing.

To be Continued...


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