First off, the first six chapters have had a minor rewrite and have been fixed of several errors and a few details have been changed. In this story, unlike a couple of others that needed work, nothing that was changed affected the story, so you don't have to go back and read them all. Unless you really want to, of course.
Right... It's been a while so here's a recap. Hermione is trying to combine science and magic to restore Neville's parents, Harry is a crusading member of the Wizengamot and the DADA Professor and Ron is the Keeper for the Chudley Cannons. The project Harry and Hermione are doing combines cloning with magic and is taking a great deal of their time. However, Lord Voldemort announced his return by appearing in Diagon Alley and killing four people, including Lee Jordan. Harry is not happy about Voldemort's return, since he and Hermione just recently figured out that they love each other and Voldemort has threatened to kill Hermione.
That said, let's see the reaction of the Wizard world to Voldemort's return.
Muggle Magic & Wizard Science
Life and Death
OoOoOoO The Wizard World, 06-08JAN2000. OoOoOoO
It had been just two days since the death of the four people in Diagon Alley and the fear was already sweeping the nation. People were beginning to believe that Voldemort was truly immortal, that he would return from anything Harry did to him.
Between the people hiding and the people fleeing the country entirely, it was a wonder that their were enough people to keep the services up and the British Wizard World running. In just two days all of the assurances gained over two years of peace were gone and that is exactly what this latest incarnation of Voldemort wanted.
His plans depended on fostering that fear.
OoOoOoO Harry and Hermione, DMLE, 06JAN2000. OoOoOoO
Harry and Hermione came out of the Pensive and looked at each other for a minute. "It certainly looked like them," Hermione said quietly. Harry nodded. "We've looked at the memory, Harry. Now, let's go into it again, and examine it closely, looking for anything out of place."
Harry nodded and the two of them bent over the Pensive again.
They watched as Voldemort and his followers appeared. "Harry, Voldemort might have been immortal, but none of these others were. How can they be back?"
Harry walked over and stood in front of Pettigrew. He frowned as he looked at him and then got on his hands and knees to look at Pettigrew's feet. "Hermione, he's not touching the ground." Harry looked at the others. "None of them are touching the ground. How do they do that, and why?"
Hermione bent down and looked with Harry. "You're right. It's as if they are spirits or ghosts of some kind, but spectral beings lose any magic they had in life. They can't be spectres and using Wizard magic."
The scene went on and Harry tensed as Lee Jordan cast his spell. Harry was standing next to Voldemort when the spell passed through him. Hermione was watching the spell enter his back and Harry watched as it came out the front.
"Harry, what did you see?"
Harry frowned. "His chest changed slightly as it came out. It kind of got fuzzy for a second and then returned to normal. Other than that, it didn't seem to effect him at all."
"It was the same in the back. He didn't even flinch, despite what he said about feeling it." Hermione came around and they looked at each other. "Harry, what happened to the bodies of the Death Eaters?"
They came out of the memory before Harry could answer and he looked at Amelia Bones. "What happened to the bodies of the ones that were standing with Riddle?"
Auror Bones shook her head. "By law, all we could do was return them to their families." She consulted a sheet. "Pettigrew was given to his mother, Maurice Pettigrew. Bellatrix's body was returned to the Lestranges, Draco Malfoy claimed his father and Snape was taken by the Prince family."
Harry frowned. "I thought the Prince family was gone."
Amelia shrugged. "Few families ever truly disappear, Harry. The head of the Prince family is a third cousin out of a cadet line. We've sent Aurors out to check on each of the bodies and see if they are truly in their graves. If they aren't, the families will be brought in for questioning."
Hermione was making notes. "Harry, I want to look at the memories again, and we need to get Neville in here, and Colin." She frowned as she thought some more. "I don't know who the last person to see Lucius was, but we need to find them and get that memory from them."
She sighed. "I wish we could talk to Remus, as he was the last person to see Pettigrew alive, but we can't." Remus Lupin had killed Peter Pettigrew in the Forbidden Forest. Voldemort had chosen the night of a full moon to make his assault, to maximize the abilities of his werewolves and that had been Pettigrew's downfall. Remus had been out in the forest with the only other werewolf that had joined Harry and they had scented Pettigrew and the Death Eaters he was leading around the back way, intending to use one of the secret passages into Hogwarts.
Remus had gotten Peter, but the Death Eaters had taken Lupin and Janet Brooks, the other werewolf out shortly there after. The two of them had killed nearly thirty Death Eaters between them first, severely blunting the Forbidden Forest group. All of the blood had drawn the Acromantulas and none of the Death Eaters had made it to Hogwarts.
Harry sighed, remembering Remus. "The last person I know of to see Pettigrew was Draco, during Riddle's mission briefing. We'll get him in here. I was the last person to see Lucius alive." He looked at Hermione. "He was the first Death Eater I saw after Ginny died." Harry's face was still and Amelia looked at him, not understanding what was wrong.
Hermione had seen Harry's stone face many times and could read it better than Amelia. She could see something in his face that Amelia couldn't. Harry was disturbed about whatever he'd done to Lucius. "Harry, I need you to do something for me. Write down everything you remember about Voldemort as he was the last time you saw him before he was combined with Nagini. Do the same with Malfoy. I have an idea."
Hermione turned to Amelia. "I need you to get written descriptions and memories from the last three to see the others alive that we can use in a Pensive."
Amelia frowned. "I don't suppose you'd mind filling the DMLE in on what you expect to find," she said wryly.
Hermione blushed and looked at Harry. "Harry, would you get started, please? I don't want you to hear this, it may influence your memory."
Harry blinked and looked at Hermione. "This is one of those Muggle things you're learning at university, isn't it?" he asked.
Hermione nodded. "I'll explain it all to you after you've written your descriptions down."
Harry nodded and smiled at Hermione. "You know you don't need to explain it. I trust you."
Hermione smiled in turn. "I know that, Harry, but I like explaining things to you."
Harry smiled and touched Hermione's arm. "Over lunch, then?"
Hermione looked at him and smiled. "I think we may have to make it dinner, Harry. This is going to take a while, and then I have to be at the lab for some time. Nostradamus at eight?"
Harry grinned. "It's a date. I'll make the reservation and get your descriptions done."
Amelia watched them quietly, ignored by them both until Harry left. Hermione turned and saw Amelia smiling. She blushed. "Harry and I are exploring a relationship, but we would appreciate it if it didn't become public knowledge yet."
Amelia Bones smiled. "I am honoured that you trust me enough not to say anything." She shook it off and looked at Hermione, returning to the professional Auror. "Now, tell me about this idea of yours."
"It's simple, actually. I noticed that the five people in the street looked like the people they are supposed to be, but I think that they are composite recreations. I didn't want to say anything to Harry, but Lucius Malfoy was injured in the Ministry incident during our fifth year. Since he was treated by the Aurors on the spot, it left a small scar just in front of his right ear. If you didn't know it was there, you'd never notice it."
Amelia nodded. "Yes, I remember him trying to make a claim that we disfigured him. It was dropped when he went to Azkaban and he never tried again."
"The point is, the memories don't show anything like that, and I think the cane was the one that was taken from him in that same incident, after the Aurors found a poisoned knife in the handle. I think someone was recreating his appearance from the last time they saw him." Hermione frowned. "The only thing I don't understand is how they cast spells from illusions. That shouldn't be possible."
Amelia frowned. "No, it shouldn't," she said quietly and looked at Hermione. "You're a member of the Wizengamot and as such, you have certain privileges. I'm about to tell you something that you may not tell anyone who is not a actively sitting member of the Wizengamot."
Hermione frowned as she thought about it. "So I can tell Neville and Harry, but not Ron."
Amelia nodded. "That is correct." She closed the door and cast several spells on it. When she was done she sat down and motioned to another chair. "Sit down, Miss Granger. This is going to take a while."
OoOoOoO Harry, Hogwarts, 06JAN2000. OoOoOoO
"Professor McGonagall, I need to talk to you, if you have a minute." Harry had written out the descriptions for Hermione and Apparated to Hogsmeade. He had a DADA class after lunch and a DA meeting after that.
Headmistress McGonagall looked at Harry. "Of course, Professor Potter. What may I do for you?"
"With this reoccurring problem we're having, I may have to miss a class or two. I have a possible replacement, if she meets your standards."
"I understand, Professor. I have been expecting you to say something about this for a week or two. May I ask who you want to have replace you?"
Harry sighed. "Before you say anything about my choice, hear me out." He looked at Professor McGonagall. "My choice is well trained, got an O in DADA on both the OWL and NEWT and is currently not working. She is also willing to be on call for any class, with as little as one hour's notice."
Professor McGonagall raised one eyebrow. "She sounds perfect, Professor Potter, but you're asking me to hear you out first makes me nervous, and I notice that you have not given me a name yet."
Harry winced and looked around. Seeing that they were alone he looked at the Headmistress. Taking a deep breath he told the Headmistress who he wanted to use.
Professor McGonagall stopped and stared at Harry in shock. "Professor Potter, she is."
Harry held up his hand. "I know that she has a problem or two, but she is getting much better and she has almost sixty percent mobility back."
Tonks had been captured by the Death Eaters during one of the last fights before the final attack on Hogwarts and tortured for nearly forty hours before a group of the DA led by Remus and Janet, who were on a search and destroy mission, found her. They were seeking out Death Eater homes and destroying them, limiting the Death Eaters strong points.
The house they had been assaulting was supposed to be empty but Remus and Janet had gone in first, using their werewolf senses to make sure that the house was empty.
What they found was a strong smell of blood and the faint sounds of screaming from inside.
They assembled their people and went in. Remus and Janet had been the ones to find Tonks and the four Death Eaters that had been torturing her. They brought her out and took her to St. Mungo's after destroying the room they had found Tonks in. They never told anyone anything about what they had seen in there, taking that secret to the grave with them. None of the Death Eaters survived the assault.
Tonks had been severely damaged though, spending nearly five months in St. Mungo's recovering from her injuries. Not that there had been a lot St. Mungo's could do for her. Damage from the Cruciatus had destroyed her nervous system and fine motor control. It had also left her completely paralysed from the neck down.
The physical damage had been nothing compared to the mental damage. While no one came right out and said it, it was plain that she had been repeatedly used in several ways and with objects as well as by the Death Eaters. The MediWizards also found evidence of compulsion spells and potions that lowered resistance to mental compulsions such as the Imperious.
Tonks had gone home after the MediWizards had finished doing all they could for her. That had been almost three years ago now and nobody in the Wizard world had heard from the Tonks' since then. It was widely believed that they had turned their back on the Wizard world and gone Muggle, as many of the Muggleborn had done before the death of Voldemort.
Professor McGonagall thought about it. "You think she can do this, Professor Potter?"
"I do. The Tonks family is the last remaining cadet branch of the Black family that I have not disowned for following Voldemort. They withdrew to the Muggle world after St. Mungo's was done for two reasons. Muggle have people that specialize in healing minds and they have a great deal of experience in dealing with the kinds of things that happened to Tonks."
Harry looked at the Headmistress. "I have spent a great deal of the Black fortune on physical therapy, mental health treatments and a great number of other things and it wouldn't have made the slightest bit of difference, except for one thing. Tonks' Metamorphmagus abilities. That talent allowed her to change shape many times, and maintain that shape until she went to sleep. Once she was asleep, her body reverted naturally. Somehow, the constant changes managed to repair a lot of the damage the MediWizards and Muggle doctors couldn't do anything about."
Professor McGonagall thought about what Harry had said. "You think she is prepared to teach students?"
Harry nodded slowly. "I do and more importantly, she thinks she's ready to come back as well."
Professor McGonagall stood still and thought about it for a minute. "I will want to talk to her before I say yes, Harry. I have only just gotten the teaching staff in order and I will not approve anyone that cannot do the job right."
Harry smiled. "Thank you, Professor. I'll have her come by tomorrow." He smiled again and looked at his watch. "Now, if you'll excuse me, I have less than five minutes to be in my classroom."
Harry started down the hall while Professor McGonagall watched him. She sighed. Harry was trying to save someone again. She turned toward her office, thinking. Harry was not the type of person to allow a substandard teacher to replace him. She would hold her opinion until after she met with Tonks.
OoOoOoO Ron, The Chudley Cannons Arena, 06JAN2000. OoOoOoO
Ron watched the Chasers come roaring in and knew which way they would go. Not wanting to give his knowledge away, he pointed his Broomstick slightly in the wrong direction and crouched, as if he was ready to go for the left hand goals.
The Chasers came in, dropping a swap pass from the front Chaser to the second, who headed left. Ron made as if he was going that way until he saw the second Chaser rear back. Before he throw the Quaffle, Ron was moving. The Chaser threw, acting on trained reflexes, but it was too late. Even as the third Chaser got the Quaffle and threw it at the right hand goal, Ron was there to block it.
He caught it and tossed it to one of the second string Chasers who tore down the Pitch, going for a goal on the other Keeper. Ron had a minute to look around and he frowned as he saw the two people circling the Arena in random patterns. To anyone else, they might actually appear to be a pair of Seekers discussing strategy, but Ron knew they were Aurors looking for any sign of Death Eaters.
He knew why they were there, but it still irritated him. Harry was better at fighting than Ron, but that didn't mean Ron was incapable of protecting himself. Just because he wasn't as good as Harry didn't mean he wasn't any good. Merlin, no one else on the planet could say they were as good as Harry either. He sighed and looked at the other end of the Pitch, where the second string had just muffed a pass and dropped the Quaffle. He shook his head as the trainer called the end of practice.
He flew down near the changing room and checked his broomstick before going to take a shower. He was going to Neville's tonight. Neville and he had to work on implementing some of the plans they'd been working on since Voldemort had reappeared.
"Mr. Weasley, this came for you about twenty minutes ago." One of the workers handed him a note. Ron thanked him and opened it.
Hermione and I are going into the lab to do some work and then to a dinner in the Muggle world. I'll see you tomorrow.
Ron was irritated for a second, but then he remembered what it was like, in those first few weeks of being with Hermione. They had spent a lot of time in Sirius' house, just talking. Well, OK, so Hermione wanted to talk while Ron was trying to Braille every centimetre of her mouth. Ron was still looking for a girl that made him feel that way. Hermione had been fun, sweet and he had known her for five years. That had been a lot of why he had gotten up the nerve to ask her out, he knew her and she was easier to talk to than another girl.
He grinned as he headed for the showers. He didn't have that problem now, thank Merlin.
OoOoOoO Neville and Ron, Longbottom Estate, 06JAN2000. OoOoOoO
Neville answered the door and looked past Ron. "Hello, Ron. I thought Harry was coming with you."
Ron just smirked and handed Neville the note Harry had sent him. Neville read it and looked at Ron seriously. "I am sure that Hermione and Harry will be talking about Voldemort and the lab. I mean, what else could they have to say to each other?"
Ron stared at him, dumbfounded, until he saw the way Neville's lips were twitching. Ron controlled his smile and pretended to consider the matter seriously. "I believe you're right. It's not as if they'd spend the evening flirting or anything."
They looked at each other again and burst out laughing.
OoOoOoO Harry and the Docards, the Lab, 06JAN2000. OoOoOoO
"So, who came up with 'Docards?" Harry asked as they waited to see if the second attempt at cloning Subject two was going to work.
Hermione blushed. "I did. After the two Aurors stopped by to talk to Melissa, they sent an owl with some forms to be filled out." Hermione rolled her eyes expressively. "The Ministry wants to know what we're researching and how much we're making for the taxes."
She looked at Harry. "I hope you don't mind, but I told them that this was primarily a Muggle business and if we made any money in the wizard world we would let them know. I put down that we were researching the possibilities of using wizard blood to create vaccines for Muggles. Since I had to put down titles for our people and they're doing more than either doctors or MediWizards, I called them Docards."
Harry frowned. "Is that possible?"
Dr. Benoit shrugged. "I'm still running tests, but something in Wizards is immune to almost every thing that Muggles suffer from. If I can isolate and recreate it, we may have the so-called 'universal' vaccine. It's going to take a lot more work before I'm ready to try and fool the Muggle world into thinking I discovered something new." He smiled. "In fact, after running a few tests on our friends here and doing a bit of work, after our current project is done, there are a number of things I would like to look into to." Dr. Benoit was becoming animated as he discussed the possibilities he could see.
"Melissa's disease, for example. It is a virus, transmitted solely by saliva to blood contact. To make matters more interesting, it lacks an enzyme that her body only produces in her secondary shape. So, she is only contagious in her altered shape. Now, while she is only contagious then, many of the benefits of the disease are available at all times. Right now, I don't have time, but I want to try and work out a vaccine first and then isolate the benefits of the werewolf shape and see if they can be introduced into the system without the negative side effects."
Harry thought about that for a minute. "Are you telling me that Melissa's condition is not a curse?"
Dr. Benoit frowned. "It might have been, because something like this would never have evolved in anything natural that Muggles know of. However, over time, or by the design of whoever created it, it has become a self sustaining virus. However it started, at this point, I can do something about it I think, with enough work and a bit of luck."
Harry nodded. "Doctor, are you planning on staying in the wizard world at this point?"
Dr. Benoit shook his head. "Harry, you're a nice guy and these friends of yours are decent people, but the racial bias and general attitudes of most of the idiots in your world are not something I care to deal with. Plus, in order to have credibility with the rest of the world, you have to have a reasonable authority that can show their research and facilities."
Harry looked around the makeshift lab that depended as much on magic as it did science. "Somehow, I don't think this is going to impress people."
Hermione and Dr. Benoit looked at each other. "We're working on that, Harry, and as soon as we have a reasonable set up, we'll let you know." Hermione bit her lip. "It's liable to cost a lot and it may require a lot of magic to make it appear that we have enough funds to support Dr. Benoit in the Muggle world."
Harry frowned. "Won't that require us spending a lot of time in the Muggle world?"
Hermione shrugged. "I've thought of that and we're still working on something that will work. I thought I might get Blaise's help."
Harry blinked. "Blaise is a decent person, but he doesn't know anything about Muggles."
Hermione shrugged, saying, "maybe not, but he is a Slytherin, in the classic sense and can help us with the deceptions and offer suggestions in how to trick the world."
Harry thought about it and frowned. "I can't believe that we have to spend as much time deceiving everyone as we do trying to help them."
Dr. Benoit sighed. "It is the one thing that both worlds have in common, Harry. Neither world is willing to believe that anyone would do something for no reason, and in the Muggle world, if you don't charge for it, they think it's a scam or no good."
Harry sighed. Before he could say anything, a timer beeped. Hermione and Dr. Benoit jumped up and went into the clean room where they both glowed for a few seconds as the magic Hermione had created for this room acted as an ultraviolet effect and killed anything they didn't want entering the clean areas of the Lab. Harry stood outside and watched through the window. The lab was set up for working and there wasn't a lot of room. Harry would have been in the way and since he wasn't doing anything in there, he waited.
Dr. Benoit looked at the computer and tapped a couple of keys. "Everything appears correct from here. Would you bring me subject two, Hermione?"
Hermione nodded and carefully removed the small tube from the Muggle device it had been sitting in. Hermione hadn't gotten this far in her research yet, but the machine created the perfect conditions for the cellular division that they had set up.
Dr. Benoit put the tube under a microscope and Harry and Hermione waited for his verdict. He looked up after a few seconds. "We have division. Subject two is working properly."
Hermione smiled. "Perfect. How long before we can move it to the womb?"
Dr. Benoit studied the tube again. "Seven or eight hours. I want to make sure that the early divisions are perfect."
Hermione nodded. "Do you have anything else that you need me for?"
Dr. Benoit looked at Harry and smiled. "Hermione, you don't want to stay and ask a million questions about what's going to happen next?"
Hermione bit her lip, looking indecisive. Harry, who could hear everything over the intercom interrupted the doctor's gentle teasing. "I have to brief Hermione on a couple of things for the Wizengamot, Doctor, and then I have a surprise for her."
Hermione looked at Harry. "What kind of a surprise, Harry?"
Harry grinned at her. "If I told you, it would not be a surprise, would it?"
OoOoOoO Voldemort and the Death Eaters, Somewhere, 06JAN2000. OoOoOoO
"The test run was perfect. Panic levels are at projected levels and it is time for the next attack. Where that attack is depends on the projected levels of panic and fear you want to create." The short chubby man that spoke was watching the leader.
The leader of the group looked up. "I want to create a growing panic. I do not want to confront anyone of importance yet. I should not have been able to feel that boy's curse and until we figure why I did, I do not want to chance this project being uncovered by having one of us hurt by someone with more power."
"I still think it was a reaction caused by seeing the curse go through you." The only woman of the group spoke up.
"But you cannot be sure. Shall I allow you to confront Neville Longbottom alone and see if he can make you feel something besides a tickling sensation?" The leader stared at the woman until she dropped her eyes. "I thought not."
"Internal bickering aside, what is the next target?" The speaker was a tall blonde man holding a cane.
"Hogsmeade is the best place to attack to raise panic levels." This dispassionate comment came from a man dressed in black, who sat in the shadows in the corner. "No people of significant power, and it's close enough to Hogwarts to raise the fear that we may attack it next."
"It will work. Now, let's begin the planning. After that, we'll work on the spells and see if we can figure out exactly what happened."
The five people began planning their attack on Hogsmeade.
OoOoOoO Harry and the Hermione, in London. 06JAN2000. OoOoOoO
Harry looked around the restaurant. It was a quiet little family place with maybe a dozen tables in the main room and three 'private' rooms that were used by families with lots of children and other groups needing or wanting a bit of privacy.
Hermione had brought Harry here and disappeared, saying she'd be right back. Harry looked up as two people appeared in the door Hermione had gone through. He blinked. Hermione's mother had long brown hair, the same colour as Hermione's, but hers fell straight down in ways Hermione never did without massive amounts of magic or hair gels.
The smiling woman walking with Hermione had the same bushy frizzy Hermione had always had, although her hair was much darker. "Harry, this is my aunt Debra. She's my father's sister, and she owns this restaurant. Aunt Debra, this is my friend, Harry Potter."
The older woman raised an eyebrow. "You're bringing a young man to meet the family, Hermione? He must be someone very special." She looked at Harry. "How do you do, Mr. Potter? I'm very pleased to meet a friend of Hermione's."
"I'm fine, ma'am. I think Hermione has some explaining to do, though. I don't recall having heard of you before this." Harry looked at Hermione. "It would have been nice to have been warned that I was going to meet family."
Hermione blushed. "I'm sorry, Harry, but I didn't even think of coming here until after we were at the lab and then the experiments drove it out of my mind."
Debra was watching the two of them. "Harry, before you blame Hermione for this, it is not her fault. My brother and I had a disagreement a couple of years ago and we don't speak much these days. He didn't like the man I chose to marry and I refused to listen to him."
Harry frowned. "That seems like a serious argument," he said carefully, not sure if he was being too personal.
Debra shrugged, a shadow of pain in her eyes. "It wasn't the argument that divided us, but the things we said to each other during it. It was a bitter fight." She shook her head. "That is not why you're here though, so let's find you a table."
"Aunt Debra, can we have one of the private rooms?"
Debra turned to look at Hermione. She took in the way Hermione was blushing and avoiding her eyes. "Well, this must be a very special young man. Room two is not being used tonight. I'll have a server in to take care of you in a few minutes."
Hermione thanked her aunt and led Harry to one of the doors the were along the back wall near the kitchen.
The room was small, and held only a table for four. Soft music came from the corners of the ceiling and the light was provided by a chandelier. Harry held Hermione's chair and moved to sit down across from her, but Hermione stopped him. Hermione had him move a chair next to her and they sat there.
Hermione was getting something out of her bag and Harry took a minute to look at her. Harry had only recently thought about Hermione, or paid any attention to what she looked like. He still could see the bushy haired girl that had been 'charmed' to meet them on the train so many years ago.
This woman though, was not that girl. Her face had matured, losing the slight roundness of girlhood and becoming different. Harry was still learning this new face and he was certain he wanted to have several centuries to examine it and get to know every pore.
Hermione finished what she was doing and looked up, only to be caught in Harry's eyes. Unlike Harry, she had watched Harry grow and change and she could tell what was bothering him almost every time, just by the way he looked. This Harry though, wasn't bothered, just watching her with an utterly open expression on his face. The two stared at each other until the door opened.
They jumped and Harry barely refrained from drawing his wand. "Hello, Hermione. Your aunt asked me to take care of you tonight." The woman, a dark skinned woman of about twenty-five looked at Harry. "Mm. Absolutely yummy. Care to introduce me to my next ex-husband?"
Harry blinked and Hermione laughed. "I would love to, but this isn't him. You keep your paws off of Harry." She shook her finger at the woman. "I know about your ways, and Harry will be fully warned about your attention span, Dora."
The woman sighed. "Slandered, and before I even bring the wine."
Harry watched the two woman and realized that they were friends, although the thought of Hermione having a friend so... earthy was a bit shocking.
"Harry, this is Dora. She's worked for my aunt for a few years, but it's only been the last few months that I've been able to see the humour in her ways. Dora, Harry Potter."
Harry stood and offered Dora his hand. She took it and smiled. "Yummy and polite, too. You sure I can't invite him home, Hermione?"
Harry smiled at her. "I think Hermione might be upset with me if I did anything like that."
Dora snorted. "You? She might be mad at you for a week or three, but she'd kill me."
Hermione smiled sweetly at Dora. "I wouldn't kill you, Dora, that would be over too quick. I'd tell Antonio that you missed him."
Dora winced. "Warning taken. Now, do you know what you want, Hermione? I'll let Harry look at the menu while we chat." She handed Harry a menu and the two women began discussing what was fresh and which cook was working.
While the two women talked Harry looked at the menu and blinked. Most of it was in French and those few things that were not in French Harry had never heard of. He looked at it for a minute, trying to puzzle it out and inwardly cursing the limited applications of a magical education in the Muggle world. He looked at the two women, still chatting and he caught Hermione's eye. "Hermione, since you know the restaurant and the chef, I'll trust you to order something for me."
Hermione blinked and looked at the menu in Harry's hand. She sighed. Dora had brought the fancy menu, assuming that Hermione wanted to impress her date. The restaurant usually served normal English fare, but they had an excellent chef, for business dinners and special occasions. "No problem, Harry."
Hermione went back to discussing the food with Dora and Dora left a few minutes later. Hermione looked at Harry. "Relax, Harry. I ordered some good food, and some food you'll like."
Harry pouted at her for a second, and then grinned. "I couldn't tell what any of that stuff was. I was afraid I'd order snails or something equally meant to be potion ingredients rather than food."
Hermione choked on the water she was taking a drink of. "French food is not meant to be potion ingredients, Harry. You need to expand your Muggle education, or someone might mistake you for an American."
Harry shrugged. "If I can ever find a few days when I can do something that doesn't have to do with politics, Voldemort or the wizard world, I will."
Hermione sighed. "This is not Voldemort, Harry. Amelia told me something after you left, but we cannot tell anyone who is not a sitting member of the Wizengamot what I am about to tell you."
Hermione waved her wand and a spell that prevented eavesdropping sprang into being. She looked at Harry and began to talk.
OoOoOoO Aunt Debra, her office, 06JAN2000. OoOoOoO
Debra looked at her monitor as it erupted into static. She hadn't meant to be eavesdropping on Hermione, but the monitors had been put in place after a couple of incidents had gotten out of hand in the private rooms and her insurance rates had started going up. She considered what she'd heard and put together a lot of half understood things over the last few years. Hermione had always had odd things happening around her as a child, but it wasn't until she went to that school in Scotland that things got really strange.
Harry's mention of a 'wizard world' was strange, but with the things she'd seen over the years, it made sense. Her brother had to know, and that meant Hermione's mother knew as well. If Hermione was some sort of witch, that would explain so much. Why her brother had let her go to a school no one had ever heard of in the scientific community, why Hermione had seemed so out of touch with current fads after she started going there. Harry's comment and Hermione's response about 'Muggle' things made Debra think that wizards didn't pay any attention to non wizard folk.
Debra had been wondering about some of the strange things for years, but she'd ever had any reason to think of something like this. She was not as smart as Hermione or her mother, but she was bright enough to to build a profitable restaurant from a lunch counter and keep it going.
This bore thinking about.
OoOoOoO Harry and Hermione, the private room, 06JAN2000. OoOoOoO
Harry closed his eyes for a minute after Hermione finished speaking. "So, the Aurors were working on a way to cast spells from illusions so that Aurors would not have to face Death Eaters directly. They had a working prototype of the rune set that would allow it, but then this Lattimer Foster ran away with the rune set and the notes to work on it after he was caught doing something illegal."
Hermione nodded. "Part of the rune set allows the person using it to form the illusion in any image they want. The idea was to make the Death Eaters think that they faced some sort of supernatural entities."
Harry nodded. "What else can you tell me about this rune set?"
Hermione looked at her notes. "It's short range, about four hundred metres or so. The group using it has to be about that close to use the spell casting abilities. Since the rune set and the people don't have to be in sight of the illusions, they could be in a building, in woods or even in the open under a disillusionment spell." She considered the list. "One of the group has to monitor the rune set, so only four of them can cast spells with this bunch."
Harry frowned as he thought about it. "And I can't tell Ron about this, but I can tell Neville." Hermione nodded. "I'll see Neville tomorrow and we'll see if we can get some tactics together. It's going to be hard to explain why we need people to look somewhere else while the battle is right out in the open."
"Harry, what did you think of the play last night?"
Harry blinked at the odd question until the door opened and Dora came in. Harry nodded and they discussed Hamlet as Dora set the food up. She left with a smile and a wink for Hermione.
Hermione looked at Harry. "No more talk of violence or politics while we eat."
Harry nodded and they set to eating. Harry had a ploughman's pie, good solid fare and he kept looking at whatever it was that Hermione was eating. She saw his glances and smiled as she held up a bite on her fork. "Would you like to try it, Harry?"
Harry opened his mouth to say something and Hermione put the bite in his mouth. Harry ate it and shrugged. "It's different, but not anything I'd care for on a regular basis."
Hermione smiled slyly. "I would think not. Escargot is very expensive."
Harry frowned. He'd heard that word somewhere before and then it came to him. "Snails? You fed me a snail?"
Hermione burst out giggling at Harry's outraged tone. "Of course not. I just wanted to see the look on your face."
Harry stared at her for a second and then very deliberately wiped a bit of gravy on her nose.
Hermione looked shocked for a minute and then tried to glare at Harry, a task ruined by the smile she couldn't hide. "Prepare to do battle, Potter."
Dinner devolved into to a minor food fight, interspersed with giggles, laughter and a great deal of childish fun.
Harry finally ended the fight by catching Hermione with her hands spread out and leaning in and kissing her.
Hermione didn't resist. Her arms came around Harry and she responded willingly.
The two of them were so engrossed in their second real kiss that they didn't even notice Dora opening the door, spotting them and then backing out quietly.
The two of them finally finished the meal and had dessert, spending as much time feeding each other as they did kissing, interspersed with quiet talk about a dozen things, none of them depressing or very important.
When they finally finished, Harry took Hermione home and in the little room that was the Apparation point, they stopped for one more kiss and Harry screwed up his Gryffindor side as he held Hermione and looked at her.
"I love you."
Hermione stared at him for a second and smiled. Harry wasn't the type of person for florid displays or long speeches. "I love you too, Harry."
A kiss became several, and Harry was grinning foolishly by the time they finished. Hermione was nearly glowing with joy and both of them had slightly swollen lips, the result of a long snogging session.
Harry waited to leave until Hermione had gone in the house and the last thing either of them heard as they turned back for one last look at each other was the simultaneous declaration from the other.
"I love you."
Harry never did get to show Hermione his surprise that night.
OoOoOoO Draco Malfoy, his flat, 06JAN2000. OoOoOoO
Draco sat and stared at nothing, something he'd been doing a lot recently. Harry Potter had ended any chance Draco had of being someone. Now, he was an object of ridicule and hatred, spit on and cursed at by everyone. It had not taken him long to figure out he couldn't do anything about whatever people did to him and he had become resigned to the fact that one day, someone was going to kill him.
Until Harry had admitted to protecting him. Draco couldn't understand that. Harry hated him as much as anybody else in the wizard world and Draco could understand that. He had cast the Imperious on Ginny Weasley and led her to Snape. He had set into motion the entire chain of events that led to her death and ultimately, the defeat of Voldemort.
He had considered the idea that Harry was only keeping him alive to torment him more, but he reluctantly gave up that idea. That simply wasn't Potter's way.
Draco was looking at a new idea. Harry had said two things at that damn dinner function that had started this chain of thought for Draco. He was protecting Draco while Draco was under Harry's curse and he didn't know exactly how he'd done it.
Draco had become an object of pity for Harry. That thought burned like acid on the young man's pride. He was a Malfoy. They were feared, loved, hated or viewed with terror, but never pitied.
He looked around at the one room flat that was all he could afford to rent with the money he made at the temporary and odd jobs that was all he could get. He didn't have a bed, just a pile of blankets he had salvaged from the stuff no one had wanted when he sold the contents of Malfoy manor to pay the insanely high bribes that it had cost him to stay out of Azkaban. His one table had only three legs and was stuck to the wall with a spell to keep it from tipping over. His chair was the most expensive thing he had, having saved it from the manor.
It had been charmed to always be the right size and shape for what was needed and had comfort charms on it as well. It had been in his room as long as he could remember and Draco had vague memories of his mother teaching him to read, curled up in that chair with Draco on her lap.
Draco couldn't afford new robes and the ones he had taken from his home were threadbare and far too large now. Harry's curse had made him lose twenty centimetres so far and showed no signs of stopping.
He had thought it was ironic that he was now dressed the same way Potter had come to school all those years, in clothing far too large for him, but he'd realized that Harry hadn't even noticed.
Draco sighed and stopped thinking about his things to face reality. After Harry had said he could stop this curse by changing, he'd tried. Merlin, how he'd tried. He had been so certain that he could become like everyone else, because he had never failed at anything important before.
This time, he had failed. Draco simply could not stop hating Potter and the others that had ruined Voldemort's plans for a better world. The truth was, he didn't really want to. Hate and belief in his superiority had defined Draco for as long as he could remember and he didn't want to believe that he was less than anyone.
And now, there was this new wave of terror. He'd spent half the day in the Ministry going over everything that he remembered about Snape. It hadn't taken much listening to understand that his father was once again doing things that would bring even more scorn and hate down on Draco. He was going to have to try and hide even more, and that would mean even less work. He snarled. His father was working right into Potter's hands. If this kept up, he'd have to take Potter up on the kennel boy's job at Malfoy manor. He snarled again. He'd rather starve.
Draco sat and thought long into the night. Finally, he came to his decision. He couldn't change and he couldn't continue like this. That left him just one option. He got up and went to his desk and opened the drawer. He took the small vial out of it, ignoring the drawer that fell on the floor.
He wouldn't need it again. He went to his chair and curled up in it as it shifted and became an large overstuffed chair, just right for lounging in. He looked at the vial for a long time. It had been his father's last resort, but Lucius had never had a chance to use it.
Draco stared at the poison and finally uncapped it. The sweet smell of figs filled the air and he downed the entire vial in one quick gulp. The poison was painless, sending the imbiber into a deep sleep from which they would never awaken.
Draco sighed. If it was going to hurt him, he could not have taken it, as Harry's curse prevented him from hurting even himself. Since this didn't hurt, the curse did nothing. Draco settled back to go to sleep, knowing that the poison wouldn't finish the job until he was asleep.
As he lay back, staring at the dingy ceiling, the thought crossed his mind that this would hurt Harry, who felt such pity for him.
Instantly, Draco was racked with pain, convulsing and shaking as pain roared through his system. He tried to call for help, anything to make the pain stop, but the large soft chair and the pain made it impossible for him to get up and his wand was on the desk.
Draco's apartment was silenced and warded, to prevent people that wanted to hurt him from finding it. Since the poison wouldn't kill him until he slept, and it was the poison that was causing the pain, Draco couldn't do anything.
The pain grew and grew, sending Draco into convulsions that twisted him until bones snapped and still he could nothing but scream.
Draco Malfoy spent seven very long days screaming his life away before the lack of sleep forced him into slumber, despite the pain.
His body would not be found until the land lord came looking for his rent on the first of the month.
OoOoOoO Harry, Various places, 09JAN2000. OoOoOoO
Harry frowned at the piles of things he was looking at in the Potter vaults before replacing them.
He had already been to the Black vault and hadn't found what he was looking for there either.
He cast an illusion over himself, and went into Diagon Alley. None of them were good enough.
By noon, Harry was getting very frustrated. Who knew it would be so hard to find a simple, beautiful but elegant, absolutely perfect engagement ring?
Harry had realized during their dinner date that he wanted to spend several centuries getting to know, love and simply be with Hermione and he was now looking for the first step on that path.
He wanted to do this right though, so he'd started looking for a ring that would show Hermione just how he felt without being so huge as to be gaudy. The Black rings were mostly in a medieval style, and far too baroque for Hermione.
The Potter rings were not as flashy, but almost all of them were purely wizard style rings with enchantments and spells on them. That was nice, but Hermione was regularly in the Muggle world and she needed something she could wear there as well, and a ring with magic holding it together just wouldn't place. The animated ones, with runes or letters crawling over them were out as well.
He wasn't even going to think of some of the ones that had little pictures inside the bands. Some of those moving pictures had made him blush.
He was walking through Diagon Alley when he remembered something from his seventh year at Hogwarts. A new business had opened in Hogsmeade, a jeweller that had a lot of the girls babbling about his skill and work.
Harry strode to the Apparation point and disappeared.
He reappeared on the path in front of the Shrieking Shack and started toward Hogsmeade. Harry was excited and happy, in a way he'd not been, well, ever. He was walking quickly down the path and smiling, thinking of what he had to do. Buy the ring, talk to Mr. Granger, (a thought that brought a short lived cloud to his face,) Ask Hermione the question. That thought made him smile again and as Harry entered Hogsmeade, he was the picture of a carefree man. He stopped a witch as he entered the main street.
"Pardon me, could you tell me where the jeweller is, please?"
The witch looked at the illusion Harry was wearing and smiled. "Of course. Looking for a special ring are you?"
Harry just smiled and the witch pointed him in the direction of the store.
Harry started off that way and was just passing Gladrags when there was a crack of thunder and five figures appeared from a crack that opened in the road.
Voldemort and his crew stood there. Harry stared at them for a second and then dropped his illusion and started toward them. He'd been having such a nice day. Someone was going to pay dearly for this.
He put one hand in his pocket and brought out his DA Galleon. He touched it with his wand and sent a quick message.
Voldemort looked around as people started to recover from the shock and run. He opened his mouth to say something but he never got the chance.
"Hello Tom. I've been hoping for a chance to kill you again." Harry's amplified comment brought everyone to a stop.
Voldemort and his crew turned to see Harry standing in the middle of the road, his wand in one hand and another, darker wand in the other. Harry held that wand up. "Recognize this, Riddle? I kept it as a trophy the last time I killed you. Care to try and take it back, or would you rather try and scare a few people who don't have the power we do?"
Lattimer Foster was swearing in the private room they'd rented from Rosemerta. "What is he doing here? It's a Saturday and he doesn't have the patrol today. He should be where ever he goes off to."
"Does it matter?" The one witch in the group hissed. "We have to leave, now."
"No! I didn't want to take him on yet, but if we run, the fear will be lessened. We have to kill him now." He thought for a second as he manipulated the illusion of Voldemort. "When I say so, I want everyone to cast a killing curse at him. Harry Potter is good, but I don't think he can block four killing curses at once. If he does, it will be because he uses that stone shield spell the Granger woman came up with. You all know what to do in that case."
Out in the street, Voldemort sneered at Harry. "Killed me? You can't kill me, Potter. I am immortal and I will always be back. You, on the other hand, only need to die once."
Harry smirked. "I think you've tried to kill me more than thirty times, Tom. Of course, it might help if you or your help were even mildly competent, which hasn't happened yet."
Harry took a minute to look at the others. "I do have to thank you, Tom. I have often wanted to kill some of the people you had several times, and now I get the chance to kill you all, again. Lucius, do you remember the last time I saw you?"
The blonde with the cane sneered. "You were merely lucky, Potter."
"Lucky? Is that what you call it? I think I kicked your butt and left you to be torn in two by the suits of armour in the hallway. I understand you were in several pieces when they found you. Nice to see someone on your side can do a jigsaw puzzle."
Harry felt the DA Galleon in his pocket grow warm and knew that Neville and the DA squad that had been waiting for Harry's call was here.
Harry and Neville had set up plans for the next appearance of Voldemort the day after Harry and Hermione's dinner date. They would have the DA members that were available waiting at Neville's and ready to respond at a moment's notice. Their job was to find the rune set. Neville was in charge of that, since he was the only person that knew about it besides Harry.
All of Harry's talk was just a delaying tactic until the DA found the rune set and put Apparation wards around it, as well as other wards to prevent the escape of Foster and his people. Harry looked at the others.
"In fact, all of you look really good, considering the ways you died. Pettigrew, weren't you eaten by the spiders in the Forbidden Forest? Bella, I know Neville ripped your lungs out, bursting your chest like a grape."
Harry felt a shiver of anger as he looked at Snape's face. "You had your guts wrapped around your legs, the last time I saw you, Snivellus. Honestly, I was surprised you had guts. I always thought you were a spineless coward." He smiled at Snape. "I've been saving a very special spell for you, Snivellus. It's a nice spell, meant to render a beetle down for potion bits. It normally doesn't work on humans, but I think I have the power to make it work."
Voldemort sneered. "I don't think so, Potter. Kill him."
The other four raised their wands and cast in unison. "Avada Kedavra." Four green bolts shot toward Harry.
Harry had been expecting something like this though, and raised the stone shield spell that Hermione had invented or adapted three years ago. It took less power than simply creating a stone shield, and the ground trembled as a sixteen centimetre thick wall of stone exploded out of the ground and took the impact of the killing curses with a loud roar.
Even as Harry prepared to cast another spell, the four people with Voldemort put their wands away and held up their hands at chest level. They twisted one hand into a claw like form and clenched the other fist. Together, they all cast a second spell. "Gorrkash."
Harry's shield was hit with four spells and it exploded, sending masses of shrapnel back at Harry, who simply had no way to duck or dodge the sheer volume of stone flying at him.
When the dust from the destroyed stone wall cleared, everyone stared. Harry Potter lay in the street, half covered in rock, with bits of sharp edged stone sticking out of him in a dozen places. His right arm was broken in at least one place, and his legs were buried under larger chunks of stone. Blood was pooling around his left side, blood was splashed everywhere, and Harry didn't move at all.
Voldemort watched him for a second. "I knew having that goblin teach me their stone blasting spell would come in handy. I have won this time, Potter. Will you get back up to fight again? I think not."
The five of them disappeared with the roar of thunder, leaving a silent village to stare helplessly at Harry.
OoOoOoO The Author, Here and Now. OoOoOoO
Just so you know, do not expect to see many chapters of less than 10,000 words from me. I'm leaving this here for two reasons. First, it's been so long since I posted anything on this story that I wanted those of you who have been following it that I have a new computer again and will be back to my normal schedule of posting, such as it was.
Second... Did you really expect me to pass up a cliffie like this?
As a side note, all of you Draco fans can just deplore the fact that I killed him. Canon Draco is a worthless git with not one redeeming feature. He's snide, biased, hateful, arrogant, and doesn't even have the courage to do what he needs to do to be a serious menace. He can't even kill helpless people, for Merlin's sake. Committing suicide when faced with something he can't buy his way out of or live with is very much in character for that worthless bit of mindless fluff.