This chapter has been sitting on my computer and back from Beta's for months, I'm just not 100% happy with it, but I keep getting these reviews asking if I've abandoned the story and the answer is a most definite no. However, I'm working on a couple other fics which will be posting soon… I'm looking fo a couple Beta's one is a Naruto/Star Wars crossover, the other is a Naruto (Mass references from other anime) story... And I've got another brain twitch I'm in pre-planning stages on. Plus I've got a couple original stories in the works…
Sorry I digress thanks to my great Beta KD the Ravenclaw, and thanks to everyone who's been waiting for this chapter for the last year+ Hopefully the next chapter will a) not take nearly as long and b)be better written. My style has come a long way since I wrote this and I think that's part of why I'm not completely happy with it.
Sorry getting off track again, without further ado I present
Unspeakable Truths, Volume 2
Chapter 5: Deadwing
OTTERY ST. CATCHPOLE 1400 Hours
Silent and unseen, he made his way towards his unsuspecting target. Breathing slowly as to not make a sound, he stilled his rapidly beating heart. Even after years of service the legendary Ghost, AKA Mr. Grey AKA Arthur Weasley still felt the rush of adrenaline during tense operations.
Creeping past the sole witch guarding his target, he reached out, and nearly jumped as a hand snapped out and held his arm in an iron Grip.
"And Just what do you think you're doing?" He hid a shudder at the frigid tone in the voice. This did not bode well for him at all.
"Well umm... I..." His years of Training failed him at the moment.
"Arthur Weasley, you will NOT touch these biscuits, they are for the guests tonight."
"Don't Molly-wobbles me Arthur. You aren't getting any until the guests do."
"Yes dear," he sighed, and dejectedly turned and left the kitchen.
Molly Weasley smiled. She loved her husband dearly, but there was no way she was going to let him ruin his appetite or get away with stealing biscuits from her... "ARTHUR WEASLEY!" she yelled in frustration, knowing it would already be too late.
Arthur smiled, as he munched on the chocolate biscuit in his shed. "Sorry Molly dear, but your biscuits taste too wonderful to not indulge in one before tea."
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry November 26, 1800 hours
He was starting to feel desperate and hunted. Everywhere he turned there was one of many hunters after him. All of them looked the same, all had stars in their eyes, eyes that only saw a title, a face, a farce. He cursed his luck as he was coming down late from one of his rare training sessions without Ginny, finding himself ambushed by a raven haired beauty, one he knew from past experience would be no different from the others.
"Oh Harry! Just the talented and handsome young wizard I was looking for. Would you escort me to the Yule Ball?"
"I'm sorry Cho, I've already got a date for the Yule Ball." He apologized and gently removed her fingers that she had been lightly caressing against his arm.
"Oh come now, Harry, surely a person of your stature would want to attend such a prestigious event with someone who has some class," she replied, sliding up to him.
"The person I am going with has plenty of class, thank you very much," he snapped back with increasing frustration. The more he tried to get away the more she attempted to cling to him.
"But Harry," to his extreme displeasure she seemed to almost purr his name. "She's a Weasley, it's doubtful that she can even afford proper dress-robes, besides she's such a tom-boy. For you to show up to such an event with a girl like that would be an embarrassment for one such as yourself."
Harry felt his anger flare, and with it his magic. Trying hard to keep himself under control, he pushed her away. "Thanks but no thanks Cho, you deserve someone who's far more concerned with appearances than I am. Have a good day." He twisted on his heel and stalked away before she could respond, or latch onto his arm again.
Hermione was sitting in the common room when she saw Harry storm through the fat-lady's portrait. "Harry, what's wrong?"
He took a deep breath before starting. "Cho Chang, I told you she was trying to seduce me. She wants to go with me to the Yule Ball, and she wasn't taking no for an answer. I was so close to hexing her it wasn't funny. What's wrong with me, Hermione? I can face the taunts of death eaters without a problem, I deal with Malfoy and Snape on a daily basis, I've even managed to control my temper around Dumbledore, but a normal girl tries to get her digs in and I'm a split second from cursing her into oblivion."
Hermione's smile would have done the Cheshire cat proud. "Those digs Harry, were they aimed directly at you or at someone else close to you?"
"I have no idea what you're talking about, Hermione," was his indignant reply; despite his biting tone, the bright red blush that was slowly creeping up his neck told her the real story.
Seeing the blush only made Hermione's grin wider. "I thought as much. Does she know, Harry?"
"Of course not Hermione! If Cho knew how close I was to hexing her it would be all over school that I'm once again the lying psycho violent boy."
"Harry James Potter, that's not what I meant!" She yelled, stomping her foot.
"You know, Hermione, you're awfully cute when you've got the angry flush, don't you agree Neville?" He smirked as they both blushed bright red.
While Hermione was stuttering in her attempt to yell at him, he waved his hand at her and quickly left the common room. As he stepped out of the Portrait, he walked right into the object of his earlier teasing.
"Hey Ginny, are you free?"
She smiled at him, which made him recall his earlier blush. "Sure, what for? Training? Pranking?" She smirked at him for a moment before adding, "Snogging?"
She grinned as his complexion matched her hair. "That's a lovely look for you, Potter."
He glared despite the blush. "Have you been talking to Hermione again?"
She gave him a coy smile. "Wouldn't you like to know?"
"Stop that!" he snapped, his face doing a fairly impressive impression of a tomato.
She grinned, she had practiced that smile in front of a mirror for weeks to be able to pull it off in front of him, and was quite pleased with the shade of red he had turned. "Well I suppose I can; after all, I was your third choice and all…"
"Come off it, Ginny, I'm trying to be serious! Besides, you were my first choice, I was just trying to say that in a way that wouldn't get me hexed by the other two," he protested, holding his hands up in the universal sign for surrender.
"Fine, call it revenge."
"Revenge for what?"
"For what!" she snapped in outrage. "Thanks to your little antics in front of all my classmates, the girls are all bothering me trying to learn, and I quote, what did that scrawny-no-galleon-Weasley do to snag Harry Potter? And the boys are all hitting on me!"
"I'm sorry Ginny, it wasn't my intention to cause problems for you."
"Don't worry about it," She waved off his apology. "While I admit it's nice getting attention, life was easier when I could simply hide in the back of class."
"I know the feeling. Anyway, speaking of the Yule Ball..."
Ginny frowned slightly, wondering why the sudden change in subject and where Harry was going with this.
He took a deep breath to calm himself before starting. "Cho Chang wants to be my date for the Yule Ball."
At this announcement, Ginny's face fell. "Oh, well I suppose Collin would be willing to be my date for the night."
"I beg your pardon?"
"You mean this isn't one of those I've-got-a-better-date-so-I'm-not-taking-you-anymore conversations?"
"No, it's a do-you-want-to-help-me-prank-that-arrogant-chit-of-a-witch-who-made-the-mistake-of-insulting-my-escort-to-the-Yule-ball conversation."
"You sure know how to show a girl a good time Harry," she said with a grin before they vanished to plot and execute their prank. While Harry had in past years abstained from pranks, they were using them as infiltration training. Luckily, with the twins back at Hogwarts, no one suspected anyone else of the pranks occurring around the school, the twin terrors made for a perfect alibi.
After passing a pleasant evening planning their revenge, the pair slipped into their beds, their heads filled with pleasant thoughts about what the next day would bring.
LIVERPOOL ENGLAND: 0200 HOURS: MALFOY VACATION HOME.
Smythe and McLain made their way through the wreckage that was once the grand entrance to a vacation home owned by the Malfoy Family.
"Sir, we've secured the facilities and await your inspection!"
Smythe nodded as McLain dismissed the young Lieutenant.
"What do you think?"
"Security was lax enough for me to believe they didn't expect us to hit here, but heavy enough that they're hiding something important."
"I agree, get Salibard and his team of sniffers down here and see what they can turn up."
"Yes Sir!" McLain snapped off a quick salute and then took off to make contact with the battlemage and his team.
FLAMEL ESTATE: SOMEWHERE NEAR VERSAILLES FRANCE 0700
"Salibard? I wasn't expecting you for the weekly briefing for another hour. What's going on?" Perenelle Flamel was sitting at her table while Nicholas was busy preparing breakfast. They alternated cooking breakfast, as they had always given the house elves the weekends off, and while she was loathe to admit it, her husbands alchemy skill apparently transitioned well to the kitchen much better than her charms or transfiguration.
"We managed to locate and destroy the magical detectors that Voldemort's forces had been using."
"Oh? Do tell."
"We've been conducting unofficial raids in different un-occupied homes of death eaters. While Malfoy manor is well protected by unplottable wards, one of their summer homes is not. Based on evidence submitted by the UK DOM we concluded that the same wards that protect the manor always prevent the detector to work. Once we realized that we begin systematically raiding the locations we knew about."
"Excellent work, then. Well, as it looks like Nicholas has breakfast ready why don't you join us and then we'll complete this briefing properly."
The young battle wizard nodded and proceeded to follow his boss to the table.
Harry and Ginny were almost in tears holding back their laughter.
Cho's morning started with her breakfast leaping off her plate and then attacking her until she was able to grab a fork and spear it.
Then when she tried to get more food to replace her ruined breakfast, the food she set aside joined the new food in attacking her again.
Finally it stopped, but once it did all of the food on her plate, and any food she added to her plate simply vanished.
"What do you mean that the Summer home is no longer there!?" Demanded an irate Lucius Malfoy to the younger death eater who had just arrived to give him the news.
"I'm sorry, Lucius, we arrived to take our turn guarding and found the whole place had been leveled to the ground. There wasn't anything larger than a splinter left."
"Did you check for spell work? Was it the Order or the ministry? Even without Fudge I am not without some influence there, I will have heads on platters; as for you… crucio!" the young death eater cried out in pain but Lucius paid him no mind. He already knew he would face worse when he gave the news to his master.
"My lord," he said minutes later as he approached the adopted throne room of his master.
"Lucius, what news do you bring me?"
"My lord, the Malfoy summer home was leveled along with the contents. I dispatched some former Aurors and they believe it was some kind of Muggle accident. There was no spell damage to the property."
"The object is lost then, Lucius?"
Malfoy paled as he heard the tone in his masters voice. "Yes, my lord. There was nothing left of the place."
"Before I address thiss ssshortcoming Luciussss, have you anything elssse to report?" the way he hissed sent shivers through all the death eaters in attendance.
"Yes… yes my lord! News from Hogwarts, several members of Moody's Junior Auror corp took part in the defense of the blood traitor's shop. We have several of our junior members in place to handle the situation."
"No, I want to make a more public example out of them. Have several members ready to go, when the brats take their usual weekend in that wretched town, send a team to deal with them."
Lucius smiled. "Yes my lord, it will be a pleasure."
"One Last thing Lucius."
Voldemort smiled cruelly before waving his wand. "A reminder that failure is not acceptable, Lucius, even from you. Crucio." He took delight in the screams of pain echoing in his chambers.
"Thank you Salibard, is there anything else to report regarding the operation?"
"No mam, I've left the reports from DOM US, DOM Pacific, and DOM Australia."
"Excellent work, and what of project black?" asked Nicholas, always one to enjoy cloak and dagger.
"Despite some initial security issues which, to a point still exist the majority of the project is moving forward. Specialist Paladin has made some unique requests, as has operative Firebrand, we have managed to fulfill some of them, how ever we are still seeking personal for others. A couple of their requests, however, require your approval. Along those lines we have retrieved R&D specialists The Professor and HG."
Perenelle blinked, this was an unexpected development. "Did either Paladin or Firebrand provide reasoning's for the personal return?"
"Operative Firebrand cites safety for the two developers, but notes that with the addition of Hyde and Jeckyl as well as two people they have recruited in place, they don't need their services bad enough to warrant the security they would have to maintain to protect them."
"May I see the list of what they're requesting?"
"Yes, mam," was the crisp reply as the sheet of parchment was handed over.
"Well, it appears that neither your godson nor his partner do anything by halves."
"Indeed, Salibard, I'll be in the office later today, consider any of their requests approved with the highest level of priority."
Salibard blinked, he had not been expecting that, but quickly composed himself and nodded.
"Expecting trouble, dear?" asked her husband of several centuries.
"I always expect trouble, dear, and from the looks of it so do those two."
"While I doubt they'll try anything overt, be ready for them. I always expect trouble when we're up against snakes. Now lets go pound them!"
"Go Gryffindor!" responded the team to Harry's pre-game pep talk.
Welcome, everyone, to the first Quidditch match of the season! Today's match is Gryffindor against Slytherin. I'm Luna Lovegood, your announcer, reminding you to watch out for snarbler singlefinks during the match. And now entering the field are your Gryffindor Lions: Weasley, Bell, Robins, Weasley, Weasley, Weasley, and Potter! This years team looks to be Gryffindor's strongest since Oliver Wood, now playing for Puddlemere United. And now the Slytherin Team, Nott, Harper, Baddock, Pritchard, Crabbe, Goyle, and Malfoy. It looks to be an interesting game as they prepare to get underway."
"Captains, shake hands."
Both Harry and Katie agreed to let Harry shake Malfoy's hand since they already hated each other. Malfoy and Harry shook hands; Malfoy shooting Harry a venomous glare that Harry repaid with a confident smirk. As expected, this only enraged the Slytherin Boy.
"Like we agreed, mates!" yelled Harry, as he shot into the air.
The day would go down in the minds of those who watched as the most one-sided slaughter in Hogwarts recent years. The Slytherins played dirty as they normally would, but they were simply unprepared for the mastery of the air that was the Gryffindor team. With the Weasley twins back to finish their final year, the bludgers never once approached their chasers. With Ginny and Katie as experienced, all newcomer Demelza had to do was catch and pass the quaffle. Even Harry got into the action, diving in when the Slytherins were about to pass the quaffle. Baddock was so surprised that he dropped it. Ginny quickly snatched it up and shot for another goal. Ron's time with Moody had done wonders for his reaction time as well. The Slytherins only had nine opportunities to score, and only a single quaffle made it past him.
By the time the Snitch made an appearance, the Gryffindors were up by 190, and as Harry dove and easily beat Malfoy to the snitch, Ginny threw one last goal, making the game 360 to 10.
The party in the common room that night was loud and long. The team, however, wasn't slacking off. With their current score the other teams would be hard pressed to catch up, but anything could happen by the end of the year. As they had agreed, Katie and Harry and the rest of the team spent an hour at the party and then turned in for the night. The following day was the Hogsmeade visit and they wanted to be well rested for the trip.
By unspoken agreement, Harry and Ginny were together with the twins while Hermione and Luna had ended up with Neville and Ron for a day of shopping and relaxation. At least that was the original plan. As pops sounded, most of the student populace panicked.
"Death Eaters!" screamed a Hufflepuff fourth year before she collapsed in hysterics.
"Corps to me!" yelled Ron as Neville whipped out his wand and began throwing stunners at the advancing figures in black. "Luna, take Hermione and get into the Three Broomsticks. Go now, we'll cover you two." The eccentric Ravenclaw nodded and grabbed the older Gryffindor girl by the hand. Once they were there, they flipped over tables near the windows and used them for cover as they began hexing back.
"Ron! Neville, Hurry up!" yelled Hermione, as she sent a variety of rare curses at the black robed figures, forcing them to put up shields or scatter. The team of four quickly grew as more of the junior Auror corps joined the battle. The twins joined them, casting a variety of creative hexes that left two death eaters as giant green rabbits.
"Crucio"! snarled Bellatrix Lestrange, one of the two senior Death Eaters sent on the mission.
Her target, Katie Bell, screamed as the curse hit her, prompting the death eater to laugh. Her laughter was cut short as she ended the spell early to dodge a cutting curse.
A scarred young man and a red headed lady were standing on top of the roof of Zonko's, throwing curses down. The man jumped down in front of the student she had been cursing while the lady landed next to her and began administering potions.
"Who are you to interfere with the Dark Lord's plans."
"The name is Black, Mr. Black."
"I am a former Black. You are not one of us," she said before throwing three cutting hexes at him.
He flicked his wand and all three spells were redirected to the ground. That caught her attention. She had never seen anyone with that kind of command over their magic. "I'll give you a chance to join our lord or die."
The man laughed, inciting her fury. How dare he laugh at her offer or her lord? "Crucio!"
He waved his wand and the ground in front of him spouted a rock, which shattered under the curse. "Coupant Fulgureris!" he replied with two sharp flicks of his wand, sending two white blasts towards her.
"Protego!" To her surprise the first blast shattered her shield and the second hit her dead on.
Suddenly the inner circle's top torturer was screaming in pain. Every nerve ending in her body was spasming and she felt like her body was on fire. Desperately she tapped her portkey and vanished.
"Blast, I didn't realize they had those," said the man to the woman, who looked up and shrugged.
"Sloppy, Mr. Black. Nice spell work though."
"Talk later, how's the girl?"
"No long lasting damage. She'll need attention soon."
"I think the defenders are rallying to the Three Broomsticks. We'll take her there." Saying that, he scooped Katie Bell easily into his arms.
A moment later, the pair arrived where the battle was the fiercest. Glancing around to ensure Dumbledore wasn't around, he ran up to several Professors who were battling their way down and deposited Katie Bell into the surprised arms of Hagrid. He then vanished without a sound and reappeared on the roof of the Three Broomsticks where his partner was waiting.
"Well Firebrand, how bad does it look?"
"Not too horrible. The Junior Aurors plus Luna, Hermione, and the Twins are holding, but the Death Eaters are starting to break through their defenses. Neville's got a couple spell burns as does Ron but for the most part everyone is okay."
"Let me stay here and do some long range work while you go down and show them 'Mr. Black in action' long enough for me to get some protective wards around the building."
"Sounds good to me. Stay Safe."
Below, Neville was alternately throwing stunners and shields as were most of his partners. They had managed to subdue about five more death eaters, but more kept coming. Suddenly a man dressed all in black appeared and for a moment both sides paused in surprise.
Harry took the moment they stopped to layer a triple barrier run shield in front of him waited for the signal.
"Who the hell are you?" asked a death eater who was preparing to hex the man.
"Me? I'm just a guy on vacation," he replied.
The death eater paused to take in the information, and then the ground behind him exploded and he fell to the ground limp and unmoving.
Ginny gave Harry a worried smile as he apparated off the roof silently. She grabbed a couple spare stones to use as anchoring stones for the runes, and then aimed her wand up and began casting "Exeqourus Explodora!" Her spell went straight up into the sky and then flew around as directed by her wand. She looked around, trying to pick a target, and listened to the exchange between him and one of the Death Eaters. She directed her spell to come around and hit him from behind.
After sending him flying, she began quickly layering shielding and strengthening wards on the building while her partner kept the opposition busy.
"Reducto! Reducto! Reducto! Reducto! Reducto!" Mr. Black's spell barrage took out two more Death Eaters and forced the rest to take cover. Emboldened by his actions, the Junior Aurors rallied and began throwing stunners at anything in black. Suddenly the hairs at the back of his neck rose and he silently apparated, forcing his way and shattering through 2 anti-apparition wards in the process.
Ginny saw him leave and followed suit, using a portkey to take her to the safe-house where they would regroup and reemerge.
Once they were both in the safe-house, they removed their glamour and checked each other to make sure they looked okay. They then slid out the front door and into an alley.
It took them five minutes before they could get to the three broomsticks. "Harry! Ginny! Over here!" yelled Ron as he saw the two approach.
Neville glanced at the distance the pair would have to move and ordered the group there. "Covering fire!" The group let loose with a barrage of spells and Harry and Ginny used the opportunity to run across the street into the door. Harry had a couple spell burns and Ginny seemed to be favoring one leg more than the other, but they were safe and that was enough for everyone there.
Distant pops could be heard, and suddenly Aurors and Order members entered the combat zone, prompting a cheer from the weary defenders.
Albus Dumbledore frowned. While it was the arrival of the order along with Ministry Aurors that had won the day, according to the report, a mysterious man dressed all in black had turned the tide of the battle.
There was a knock on his office door. "Come in, Kingsley."
"Hullo Albus, We've finished debriefing the students involved in the defense of Hogsmeade. We swept the town, and the only strange thing we found were these." He held up three bottles of ink. "One was found where Katie Bell said she was rescued from Lestrange, another in front of the Three Broomsticks, and the last was found where Potter and Weasley said they were ambushed. I have pensieve accounts from the Junior Auror Corps and Bell. Potter said there wasn't much to see in his, just a shadow and then the people attacking them dropped."
"May I view them?"
"Of course, I was going to ask you to join me as I reviewed them, since two pairs of eyes are better than one."
"Of course." Dumbledore reached out and tapped the pensive with his wand.
An hour later he and Kingsley emerged and he conjured some tea for them. "Interesting and informative, Kingsley, and it makes me think that the ambush on death eaters near the Shrieking Shack had something to do with this mysterious man in black. Is there anything else to report?"
"No, just getting ready to turn everything in to Amelia and Rufus."
"Very well then, good day."
Kingsley nodded and then left his office, leaving him to wonder what happened. He had almost lost Potter in the attack, he'd have to start getting the boy better defense lessons, but Severus was in the position and the two did not seem to get along. Oh well the boy would just have to learn how to deal with his betters. He wrote a note for Severus to give Harry supplementary lessons for his next detention and stood up to make his way to the Great Hall. The students would have to be consoled, as several of their numbers were still recovering in St. Mungo's or the Hospital Wing.
Harry pulled out a small knife and pricked his finger, letting a single drop of blood fall to the parchment. After tapping it with his wand, the parchment glowed briefly before unrolling. As his mail was being screened without his knowledge, all his important correspondence was transferred through Luna. Thinking about the odd Ravenclaw brought a small smile to his face, he never would have thought the seemingly strange witch was actually Ginny's spymaster at Hogwarts, and when it came to covert information passing, she was amazing and mail was no different. The note was from Gringotts regarding several of his purchases. Grabbing a quill he wrote his reply and then resealed the parchment with another drop of blood. When a bright flash of heat signified the arrival of an even more secure form of post, he quickly plucked the new letter from Rosette and eagerly started on the newest arrival.
After five minutes, he blinked and carefully reread the letter that he had received via phoenix post. It looks like his godmother agreed with his assessment and Rosette had been kind enough to be willing to be the messenger. Overall while confirming a couple of his suspicions the tone of the letter was good, and the news at the bottom was phenomenal.
He was thinking about how to it could be used for a strong tactical advantage when he realized a problem from their last impromptu operation. He looked over to where his partner was sitting and working on a potions assignment.
"Ginny, have you got a minute?"
Instead of replying verbally he handed her the letter. She smiled at Harry's grand-mère's warm tone that managed to come across the parchment until she reached the end of the letter, prompting her eyes to grow wide in surprise. Her response was a feral grin, and she nodded to him.
"Let's get everyone together. Black Inc. is ready to start stopping attacks as they happen. Not arrive fifteen minutes after the Death Eaters have left." He nodded, agreeing with her on all accounts.
A few minutes later, Harry, Ginny, Hermione, Luna, and the Twins were assembled in the Room of Requirement. Once all six were comfortable and each had added their own privacy wards over what the room provided, Harry began.
"Okay here's the breakdown. We now have a way to find out about certain Death Eater attacks as they happen. Let me clarify that. We don't have a way of getting information ahead of time only as it's happening. When we can, we will intervene and do what we are able."
He paused and glanced at the ground. "I'm sorry to say that because of security concerns we will not always be able to intervene. We are further restricted because of our decision to remain anonymous, especially with our spell choices."
"Harry, what do you mean by that?"
"Hermione, when we start going in we aren't using stupefy. In a combat situation I start with Reducto and go up from there."
"Harry Potter! You're talking about Killing people!"
"They have no restraint and no fear of using deadly spells, Hermione. While I would like to take the moral high road, we can't allow ourselves that luxury. This. Is. War. Given time you'll understand Hermione. Look at it like this, you stun a death eater, their partner comes by an eneverates them, and then you're back to two to one. You hit them with a curse that causes so much damage they need days with a healer and it's one less enemy you have to worry about. Besides that's not the real security concern."
Hermione deflated as she heard his reasoning. "Very well Harry, I see your point. So what is the main security concern then?"
"Well on the attack at Hogsmeade, Ginny and I worked under our disguises, but the spells we used can be seen through by people like Dumbledore. Therefore when he breached my warning wards we had to evacuate before he saw us. Thankfully review in a pensive won't reveal anything other than what are disguises look like..." His voice trailed off as he noticed that Hermione was practically vibrating in her seat.
"Yes, Miss Granger do you have something to share with the class?"
She grinned. "You two will bow in awe before my genius and the Twins ability."
Harry and Ginny exchanged a look and then as one turned back to her. "Alright Hermione..."
"Just what is it..."
"That will force us..."
"To stand before you..."
"Would you two stop showing off!" snapped Hermione, annoyed.
"Sorry, Hermione," they chorused in unison. Prompting her to glare at them again.
"As I was saying prepare to be amazed." She nodded to the twins who produced a small tray.
"Okay, and just what do we have here?" asked Ginny while Harry gently tapped the wrapped objects with his wand.
"The newest flavors of Poly-pops. Mr. Blackberry and Red Hot Red Head."
Harry blinked and grabbed one that had a skull and crossbones. "Someone's idea of a joke?"
"Of course not, the man who leaves bottles of Black ink is soon to be earning the reputation of the most dangerous man in the magical world. What better else to mark his polypops." Replied Fred Indignantly.
Harry unwrapped the candy and glanced at Ginny. "Can't be as bad as McLain's brew."
Ginny shuddered at the memory of their strictest trainer's favorite beverage; they had made the mistake of trying it once, after that drinking it was a form of punishment. "Right," she said, and popped the cinnamon flavored candy into her mouth and waited.
A moment later the two began to change. Ginny grew four inches and her curves grew more pronounced. Harry grew two inches, his hair gained white strands, his eye color dulled and he developed several interesting scars around his body.
"Hermione this is brilliant!" remarked Harry but stopped when he realized the voice was still his own.
"Sorry Harry, you'll still have to do that trick you do for your voice. I couldn't replicate the voice right." She turned to look at her best friend "Wow Ginny, just wow."
"Ginevra Molly Weasley you spit that out right now!" snapped Fred and George in Stereo. "It's one thing to know that your baby sister alters her appearance to look like a harlot, but it's another thing to see it," explained Fred to a bemused looking Hermione and Luna.
"Weasley? nope never heard of them, the name's Julia Scarlett. Miss Scarlett to you."
The two spit out the candy and transformed back to themselves. As the Candies hit the ground they puffed out of existence. "Added security feature," explained Hermione as Ginny bounded over to hug the older girl.
"It's amazing Hermione, how'd the three of you do it?"
"While I wish we could take the credit..."
"Because the work behind it is truly brilliant..."
"But all we really did..."
"Was explain a couple processes to Hermione..."
"And she did the rest."
As the twins finished, Harry, Ginny and Luna all looked at Hermione in expectation.
"What?" She asked with a smug grin.
"Hermione." Chorused three voices at once.
Hermione Granger stared at the three of them in shock. Even the twins had their jaws open in surprise. "Oh good job, it looks like we broke the twins AND Hermione."
Shaking off her stupor, Hermione sighed and went into her explanation. "I could give you the long and drawn out process, but I imagine the shortened version will suffice for you three. I used the Twins procedure for the Canary Creams with several appearance modifications to achieve the desired effects."
"And the elimination after use?"
She gave them a wicked grin that was downright scary. "Remember Harry how you warned me to avoid taking lemon drops from the Headmaster?"
After he nodded, she continued. "Well I took a couple and tried to analyze them, but every time I tried to dissolve them into a potion or probe them with Magic they disintegrated. I then researched possible spells that would do that, and after finding a few, I thought it'd be a good added protection for the polypops so that they can't be taken and studied."
"That's my sister," said Harry proudly, nudging Ginny slightly, "not the smartest girl in Hogwarts for nothing."
Hermione blushed as Ginny nudged him back. "Okay Potter, what's the big secret you two are hiding?" She finally asked, as the pair looked like the cat that got the canary.
"I just received a letter from grand-mère. She's been a bit busy herself, and it looks like one of the operations teams Destroyed the magical detectors that Voldemorts forces was using. With that eliminated, they're going to have a much harder time going after targets. And along those same lines we've gotten the wand signature of 5 of his inner circle that we can track down."
"But how did you find this out?"
"Harry, I have a question."
"What kept the Headmaster from reading the letters he intercepted?"
"Two things, one it can set off alarms at the ministry magical post department, there are ways to get around that though. More importantly is that all regular post that comes to me has been blood sealed since we came back to Hogwarts."
"Harry, Blood magic is a class 3 dark Art!"
"Only according to Fudge's Ministry. One hundred years ago any official for of post was blood sealed to prevent anyone intercepting it. The fact that blood magic is a dark art is nothing more than a worthless lie to the public eye. All my mail has been blood sealed since I started coming to Hogwarts."
Harry looked at Ginny's spymaster in shock before her elbow reminded him that he needed to continue. "Ministry prejudice not-withstanding, blood seals are still breakable if he had a sample of my blood. These are also signature sealed, meaning that it would require my own magical signature to activate the blood seal which would release the letter."
Hermione let out a low whistle. "That's impressive, I've never heard, or read anything like that."
Ginny smiled. "I know, that's because it hasn't existed before now, the Flamels created it for our personal use, they needed something that even Dumbledore couldn't break through. For all his manipulations and questionable motives, the man is a powerful wizard and brilliant researcher as well."
"So where does that leave us?" asked Hermione. To her surprise it was Luna who answered.
"We're working on some other forms of communication, while the seals prevent unwanted eyes from reading the letters, if we don't receive them than they are useless."
"The Unspeakables use a form of two way parchment, similar to the DA coins, it uses a variation of the protean charm, but we want something better."
Hermione thought about it for a moment and then got a gleam in her eye. "Harry what do you know about muggle forms of communication."
"Like phones? but they don't work at Hogwarts and how would you get the lines run for..."
"No Harry, my mum and dad have something new that they got from the states, it's called a cellular phone and it works without the wires in a traditional phone."
"What's the range on that Hermione? we have magical radio transmitters but they only work a couple miles."
"Harry, with a cell phone I can call my aunt in the states. She's actually the one who got mum and dad into it, she's a doctor and apparently this is just catching on with their medical personnel."
"I like it, for now let's go with this, Hermione, Fred and George work on creating a magical version of the cellphone, Luna, find a way to make it secure. Any questions?"
"No? then, you're dismissed."
A minute later the room was empty with the exception of Harry and Ginny.
"When do we finalize the plans for Black Inc.?"
"I asked grand-mère to find someone to run it while we're in school. Afterwards we'll see how it goes."
"Why not create the company publicly? Why have the intermediaries? We have alternate identities already. You just hate the public spotlight, no matter persona you're wearing." She concluded.
"Yes I'd have to say I like my privacy," he answered with a smile.
She nodded and the two of them spent the rest of their training in companionable silence.
"I bring this meeting to Order," announced Albus Dumbledore, widely respected as one of the leaders of the light side.
"Albus, why did you call this meeting?" Asked Kingsley Shacklebolt as he entered the meeting followed closely by Tonks, who tripped upon entering and fell flat on her face.
"Clumsy Hag," muttered Snape who she had knocked down as well, as he got up off the floor without bothering to offer her a hand up.
"Sorry Sevvie, Wotcher Albus, what gives?"
"Please have a seat, Kingsley, Nymphadora." He replied, waiting until they did so. Tonks' hair changed color in irritation as he used her hated first name.
"Now the reason we are assembling, Severus was able to obtain information without compromising his position that there will be a death-eater attack tonight in conjunction with the speeches from the two candidates for Minister. Severus, if you please."
"As you know, the Dark Lord had significant influence over the previous Minster of Magic. He wishes to have that same influence over a new minister, at least until the time he feels ready for a complete takeover. His candidate, an old pureblood named Bishop, will mention in his speech how inefficient the Aurors have been in the war effort. When Scrimgeour attempts to refute the statement an attack will be launched at Diagon Alley. The purpose is to simply create panic and mayhem and discredit the Head of the Aurors."
Dumbledore stood back up. "We will be waiting for the death eaters. There will be some members in the Leaky Cauldron and more shopping around. We must act quickly because time is of the essence."
The Order members received their designated areas and disappeared leaving the home once more empty.
Or almost empty.
Almost an hour before the meeting had begun, Harry and Ginny (using polypops and disillusionment spells, as well as sharing Harry's invisibility cloak) silently apparated into number 12-Grimmauld Place.
Ginny pulled out a muggle style notebook and a pen, and then cast a wandless silencing spell on them.
Use a disillusioned Extendable Ear, she wrote on the paper.
Harry nodded and did that. He then pulled out a special transcription quill and tapped it with his wand. Used almost exclusively by medi-witches and wizards in Hospitals for detailed healing operations, it identified who spoke and wrote down what was said. He hit that with a silencing spell as well.
As the meeting progressed, the two watched what was being said and came to an unspoken agreement. As everyone apparated out Ginny pulled out a tiny cube.
"Connect call team three," she whispered into it and then waited for the girls face to appear above it. Hermione and the twins had succeeded beyond their wildest imagination on their invention.
"Good evening, what is the situation?"
"Prep the team and be ready, the birds are watching Diagon alley, but I think Hogsmeade might be a potential target. Pops for everyone and watch your backs."
"You too, Keep my brother safe."
"Relax, we're only on observation for this operation. You four are the ones who need to be worried. "
Harry cut in, pushing his face into view. "Remember the plan: if there's trouble alert the corps and use delaying tactics. Above all keep yourselves safe."
Hermione resisted the urge to roll her eyes. Ever since they had started their training Harry's protective older (despite the fact that he was younger) brother syndrome had been in high gear with her and Luna. "Sure thing, out."
"They'll be fine. Even if they are attacked, they are prepared to deal with it."
"Yes, shall we go?"
Once more, the two apparated silently, and a moment later appeared not at an officially designated apparition point, but on the roof of Weasley's Wizarding Wheezes.
Hermione and Fred had made their way to the roof of the three broomsticks. "How do you guys do that?" she asked him as he helped her climb up from where the stairs ended. When they had walked in he had simply smiled at Madam Rosmerta, who waved him past.
"Years of practice, we have a little agreement with Rosie, we leave the galleons she doesn't mention that we were outside of Hogwarts on a non-Hogsmeade weekend. How else do you think we got butterbeer for the Quidditch parties?"
She nodded thoughtfully as she pulled her hair back into a no-nonsense bun. "Do you have all the equipment?"
"What equipment?" he replied jokingly, and then shivered. Between the hair in a bun and the glare she was giving him, Hermione was doing a spot-on impression of their head-of-house.
"Oh, you mean this equipment," He said, quickly pulling out a bottomless bag.
"That's what I thought," she replied smugly, pulling the bag from his grip and began removing the contents.
"Which set should we use?"
"Well Miss Scarlet, I think we should use the ones we look like."
"Sounds like a plan, Mr. Black. Shall we locate our objectives?"
"Your specialty as I recall, Miss Scarlett," he replied with a gentle shove.
"True Mr. Black, so try not to mess up too much," she replied, bumping him back.
It didn't take the pair very long to locate the majority of the Order.
"Could they be any more obvious?" asked Ginny, with more than a trace of annoyance in her voice.
"Well it's a good thing that most of the death eaters aren't any smarter." Whispered Harry back to her.
The two watched as ten death eaters apparated in, drawing the attention of the order of the Phoenix, who began dueling them. Before either side had made much progress another thirty death eaters arrived, vastly outnumbering Dumbledore's limited forces.
Had the full order been involved the battle may have gone differently, but with odds of nearly three-to-one they didn't have a chance. Above them Harry and Ginny, or rather Mr. Black and Miss Scarlett, had abandoned their earlier plan to merely observe and were using subtle magic and spells to protect the Order members from the violent green killing curse.
Harry was using a great deal of wordless conjuration to block the curse, while Ginny would summon or banish objects to place them between the spells and the people.
Between their efforts, the Order didn't lose anyone to the curse, though their number was reduced to about half from injuries.
Before they were over run, loud pops signified the arrival of Ministry Aurors who swept in under a hail of stunners.
The Aurors were on the prowl and looking for trouble, so Ginny nodded to Harry and the two port-keyed back to the Hogsmeade Safe House.
"There, I've got ten magical signatures apparating in."
"Do any of them match the database?"
"One of them matches a known Auror's Signature."
"What do you think?"
"If I had to guess, someone at the ministry is taking preemptive measures to make sure Scrimgeour's speech isn't rudely interrupted."
"Right, let's get out of here before we're caught."
The two started to make their way down to the ground floor when Fred froze suddenly, causing Hermione to walk into his back. He was staring at a dirty glass sitting on the floor.
"How do you know?"
"Rosmerta left me a warning, come on let's get to the other safe house?"
The two carefully made their way back to the roof, and eventually to the roof of the Hogsmeade safe-house where they finally relaxed.
"Why didn't we just come here in the first place, it's under the fidileus so we wouldn't have had to worry about anyone seeing us."
Fred paused, trying to answer that. Luckily for him, the answer was supplied before he could be hexed.
"Because the ambient magic protecting the building would interfere with Aura viewing glass, as well as most of the other means of observation unless you've been trained in mage sight."
"Hullo Hermione. I take it that the Aurors showed up?"
She looked so shocked that the younger girl laughed. "They showed up at Diagon Alley too, when we saw you up here we figured they must be going to all the major areas in preparation."
"Voldemort's getting a bit predictable if the Ministry can out guess him."
"Either that or they have someone inside the Order who alerted them."
"Unless Fudge has actually gotten someone in the death eaters."
"No chance, Bones maybe, Scrimgeour possibly, Fudge, no way."
Pondering that happy thought, the group made their way back to Hogwarts.