Disclaimer: Not my characters, no money being made, etc., etc.
Chapter 34 – Down on the Farm
Friday, June 22, 6:00pm
Ottery St. Catchpole
Ginny Weasley considered it a ridiculously implausible situation.
A month ago she was well on her way to showing Harry Potter the insides of every broom closet in Hogwarts. And today….today, she and Harry were inside a muggle automobile. Which wouldn't have been so bad, had it not been for the fact that she was in the front passenger seat next to her brother, while Harry was snuggling up against her former friend in the backseat. The news that Ron not only could drive the car but owned it would have be shocking in its own right, had it not been revealed on the heels of Harry and Hermione's little surprise. She snorted as Ron struggled to push pedals and move the metal stick in between them to keep the automobile moving forward. It seemed that Harry had no trouble with Ron trying to learn to live as a muggle.
They were making the short trip from Luna's back to the Burrow, and the Golden Trio were kind enough to not act as if nothing had changed. Because everything had changed, and Ginny needed time to take it all in. She found herself thinking not so much about what went wrong with her and Harry, as what went wrong when Harry broke the news.
Ginny was rather disgusted with her own performance. She had almost known what was going to happen…how could she not have, given the dragon-sized hints that Ron and Luna had been dropping the past week or two. And still, when Harry told her that he was with Hermione she hadn't been strong…she'd gone mental. Near-catatonic. In a daze. Mumbling incoherently. All in all far too much like how Michael Corner and Dean Thomas had acted when she had broken up with them. And if that wasn't bad enough, Harry had gone on to explain why he couldn't be with Ginny with arguments that actually made sense.
It was a very bitter potion to swallow.
At least she'd recovered some of her dignity in the aftermath. He still wanted to be friends, which meant that she might have the chance to learn about "the real Harry" that she apparently new nothing about. And it was actually rather exciting to have had Harry ask her to do something that was not just important and potentially dangerous, but something that Hermione couldn't do.
A long-term approach to the problem was indicated. Harry would beat Voldemort…how could he not? The idea that he wouldn't be welcomed in the wizarding world after that was silly. And while Hermione certainly would have no problems living in the wizarding world with Harry, there were no guarantees that when that time came Hermione would be there for him, were there?
You didn't have to get an O on your divination O.W.L to see how the stars were lining up. They were fighting a war. People close to Harry were dying in that war, and the closer Harry got to killing Voldemort, the closer those dying were to Harry.
Two years ago it was Cedric Diggory, whom Harry had considered a friend. He'd been killed while Harry looked on helplessly in the Riddle graveyard. Last year it was Sirius Black, Harry's godfather, killed while Harry looked on helplessly at the Department of Mysteries. And last month it was Headmaster Dumbledore, Harry's mentor, who was killed as Harry looked on helplessly at the top of the Astronomy Tower.
Ginny looked over at her brother and sighed. "Merlin, I hope I'm reading things wrong," she thought. Because if the pattern held, the next person in Harry's life to die while he watched on helplessly would be either Ron or Hermione. Maybe both.
Not that she'd wish too much harm on her head, but what if it was Hermione…who'd be there to help Harry get through things then? The night Dumbledore was killed Ginny had been the one to comfort Harry, while Hermione was conveniently petrified and out of the picture.
Ginny looked out the rolled-down door window and smiled. She could bide her time, play nice and pretend to be happy for Harry and Hermione. She could also make sure that the next time he needed that kind of comfort…the next time someone dear to him was killed while he looked on helplessly…that she was in a position to provide it. And that the boyfriend-stealing bitch who used to be her friend was either once again out of the picture, or the one that was down on the ground.
A few minutes later, when they arrived at the Burrow ,Ron and Ginny found official-looking letters waiting for them on the kitchen table.
"Well go on, open them," Arthur said, as he joined the teens in the kitchen, "Let's see where they the powers that be decided to sort you."
"You mean you don't know?" Hermione asked, as the two tore into the envelopes.
Arthur Weasley replied with a thin smile, "Can't say that I'm currently in the loop when it comes to the Minister's office these days….Ron, care to share with us? Imagine the two letters are practically the same."
"Um, sure, dad," Ron replied:
June 22, 2006
In accord with Emergency Decree Number(EDN) 124, approved by the June 18, 2006 special session of the Wizengamot, you will report to the Goblin Liaison Office, Being Division, Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures at 8:00am Monday, July 1, 2006 to begin your internship position within the Ministry of Magic. Specific work hours, duties and expectations are provided on the attached parchment. You might be pleased to note that all required fees associated with your participation in this educational program have been waived by Minister Scrimgeour's Office.
As per EDN124, failure to appear at the appointed point in time, or to participate in this program, will result in a fine of 100 galleons per day and/or imprisonment on a two days per day missed basis.
We are certain that you will find this unpaid internship to be an enriching experience.
Percy Weasley, Assistant Director
Ministry Internship Program
Office of the Minister of Magic
Cc: Goblin Liaison Office
"Bloody Hell," swore Ron, "the git fancies himself an assistant director."
"Language, Ron," Ginny said in admonishment.
"Goblin Liaison Office, eh?" asked Bill. "Ginny, what's your's say?"
Ginny frowned. "Same thing, except I've been assigned to the Werewolf Registry Desk in the Beasts Division.
Ron snorted. "Are any new werewolfs bothering to register these days?"
Bill shook his head. "Nope…that position was vacant even before the Ministry purge…had to get somebody from Centaurs to sign off on my discharge papers from St. Mungo's."
"What's the point of forcing me to work in an office that doesn't have any work to do?" asked Ginny. "Seems like a big waste of time."
"Not much more to learn in the Goblin office," Ron added.
Harry frowned. "That's the point, I imagine."
Hermione nodded. "Rather ingenious, actually."
"How's that?" asked Ginny.
"The Ministry lost a lot a good part of their workforce when they were exposed as spies," Hermione replied. "Some of those people were assigned to key positions that really are important."
Arthur nodded. "So they fill the critical positions by transferring current Ministry personnel, then backfill their less critical posts with unpaid interns."
"But they're calling this an educational internship," Ginny whined. "Without work to do I won't learn a thing."
"Imagine that's the point," her father replied. "The Minster's office trusts you two about as much as me right now, so they want you out of the way."
Harry nodded. "Look on the bright side, Ginny, at least you'll have time to revise."
The auburn-haired witch scowled a bit. "Revise for what? Without O.W.L. results don't know what I'll be taking this fall even if Hogwarts opens."
Arthur shook his head. "Plenty of time to worry about things like that later," he said. "Why don't you two run up and visit your mother…she'll want to hear about your letters."
Harry raised an eyebrow. "She's awake? Might Hermione and I visit as well?"
Arthur looked appraisingly at Harry and shook his head. "She's still rather weak…better to limit the excitement." As if to punctuate that assessment, they heard wailing coming from upstairs about a lost son named Percy.
Arthur left the kitchen intent on settling his wife's frayed nerves, allowing Fleur to quietly ask if Harry and Hermione had broken the news to Ginny. The reply of "Yes and no" didn't make much sense, until the two swore Bill and Fleur to secrecy and quickly filled them in on their visit to the Lovegoods.
When the badges that Harry and Hermione wore inside their robes started to vibrate silently they reflexively shared a look of concern, before Hermione looked at her wristwatch and relaxed. Ron came down the stairs at a pace just under barreling, only to have Harry catch him with word that it was time to go.
Ron looked over at Bill and Fleur and asked Harry, "Should we do it from here, then?"
Harry looked at Hermione, and with her quick confirmatory nod asked Bill and Fleur, "So do you two want to add on to that oath of secrecy?"
Bill and Fleur both shrugged shoulders and nodded as the three teens pulled their robes open enough to expose their Order of Arthur badges.
"So Big Brother," Ron said as he winked at Harry and Hermione, "You think the anti-apparition wards are strong enough around this house?"
"Of course," said Bill, a bit put off. "Did them myself…just as strong as any guarding any of the Ministry's buildings."
"Oh, okay," Ron said with a wide smile. "Just checking….I'll be back in a couple of hours to ask again." He then touched his badge, said a few quiet words, and disappeared with nary a pop.
Bill and Fleur both looked at where Ron should have been, then turned to face Harry and Hermione with a mixture of wonder and fear in their eyes.
"He doesn't even have an apparition license," Bill said.
Harry smiled. "Didn't need one," he explained. "He didn't apparate."
"Should I worry about the wards?" Bill asked.
Hermione shook her head. "Your wards are fine, Bill…they just don't work for what Ron just did…we'll explain later." And with a touch and spoken word Hermione disappeared too.
Fleur turned to Harry with a look of shock on her face and asked, "How did they do zat?"
Harry smiled and answered (rather cheekily), "Honorary house-elves?" just before he disappeared.
Harry had reason to hold that smile when he reappeared, for Ron had already found the buffet table.
"Something to drink, Harry?" Ron asked. He was balancing a full plate of sandwiches in the crook of his arm so that his two hands could hold open bottles of muggle ale.
"Thanks, mate," Harry said, as he took the offered bottle and took in his immediate surroundings.
They were standing in the middle of good-sized drawing room. The rear-projection television, electric lamps and wall-to-wall carpeting immediately betrayed the area's muggleness. The room was naturally lit from large windows set in three of the four walls, as well as a sliding glass door. A buffet table, set up against the fourth wall, held trays and chafing dishes filled with food. The furniture was informal and comfortable, adding to the rather rustic atmosphere. Hermione was standing to the side with her mum, huddled over a clipboard.
"Nice place they've found for us, ain't it?" Ron asked.
Harry turned to him and nodded. "It certainly is….are the others here yet?"
Ron shrugged his shoulders as he nodded towards the two Granger women. "Haven't had time to ask…barely had time to say hello to Hermione's mum before she arrived and started talking about schedules and meeting stuff."
Harry nodded as the patio door slid open and Mr. Granger, Wally and Steve entered the room with attractive-looking woman that appeared to be in her mid-thirties.
Steve said, "Allow me to introduce you three. Sir Harry, Dame Hermione, Ron, this is my mum, Helen Wall."
Harry and Ron both did doubletakes when Steve made his introduction, as the woman he identified as his mother looked far too young for the job. Hermione, however, had apparently already figured things out.
"Mrs. Wall, it's a pleasure to meet you," she said as she walked up to shake her hand. "We can't thank you enough for volunteering to help our cause."
"I'm the one that should be saying thanks," the woman replied with a smile. "Steve has always been far too tight-lipped about what he's done with his life. It's amazing what I've learned about him, just in the past couple of days."
Ron looked on with a screwed-up expression on his face. "Erm…somebody want to explain why Steve's mum looks more like his sister?"
"Oh Ron," Hermione scowled, "I'd have expected that from Harry, not you…she's a witch, remember?"
Harry snorted. "Of course," he said, "As a witch she ages much more slowly than her, erm…non-magical son."
"Oh, don't be afraid to call me a squib," Sir Harry. "No skin off my nose."
The Queen's Wizard shook his head. "I'd rather not…it's the pure-bloods that only see shame in normality."
"Who is calling my big oaf of a son normal?" Mrs. Wall asked with a smile. "Why the stories I could tell you about my little Stevie…"
"Yes, well, that won't be necessary right now, mum," Steve said, his ears getting a bit red. "Better to talk about why you're with us, eh?"
Mrs. Granger chimed in. "And it'd be better to tell that story once everyone is here."
Harry nodded. "Anything needing our attention before that happens?"
"No, Clan Chief," Emily replied.
"Please, Mrs. Granger," Harry asked, "this isn't a Clan function…no need for the formality."
"What should we call you then?" Ron asked. "Chief Mugwump of the Order of Arthur?"
Harry shook his head with small grin. "Just Harry is fine…we could all use last names, but with two Walls, three Grangers and three Weasleys that might get a bit confusing."
Wally nodded. "A pre-meeting tour of the grounds, then Harry?"
"No, we can do that as a group…unless there's a reason not to, let's get the rest here before dinner gets cold."
And with that decision the first meeting of the Order of Arthur in more than sixty years was begun. The Weasley twins, Tonks and Remus were called and arrived by badge (Sir Even remained at Windsor Castle as a rally point should the Queen come under magical attack). The group made its way past the buffet table, and as the clouds had decided to part for a spell they took their plates and drinks outside and dined out on the wood-planked porch.
Harry found the informality comforting. As he'd been rather nervous about his leadership role in the Order of Arthur, he was quite certain that Hermione and her mum had arranged to have this first meeting take place outside of the formality of Windsor Castle. It was almost like a small cocktail party, with clusters of two and three people forming and reforming as they got to know more about each other and their meeting locale.
They were eating on the front porch of a comfortable four-bedroom modern country home set upon thirty acres of land. "The Farm," (as it was soon dubbed by the group), had been available for purchase on the real estate market for some time (as the absentee owner refused to reduce the price beyond what he had overpaid for it). MI-5 3/4 had made arrangements for a holding company to obtain a short term lease, with an eye towards purchase if it ultimately met the needs of the Order of Arthur as a operational base.
The primary advantage of the property could be readily seen from the front porch. The homestead was set on a western hillside of a prominent slope, and enjoyed an expansive view of the countryside. And it wasn't just some random piece of English countryside, mind you…the River Otter meandered through the vista, and the quaint town of Ottery St. Catchpole hugged its banks in the foreground. The Farm was, in fact, a scant four miles away from The Burrow as the crow (or broom) flies. One couldn't quite see the Burrow, of course; it was located within a small wooded vale south of town.
The proximity of the Farm to the Burrow was quite intentional. There was every expectation that the Weasley residence was a Death Eater target, and Ron would be staying there during his "internship" at the Ministry. MI-5 3/4 wanted to watch over the Burrow as well as they could.
While Harry and Hermione made an effort to chat with everyone there, they focused in on the person they knew the least about. Helen Wall was a pureblood that married for love rather than honor an arranged marriage contract. Subsequently disowned and scorned within wizard society, she had nevertheless done quite nicely for herself and her family with a greenhouse business that operated in the grey zone of the mixed muggle/wizard economy. She had successfully raised two children (one magical and one not), and would have been quite happy to continue down the course she had plotted for herself had it not been for two events; the untimely death of her beloved husband Reggie, and a call to service from Her Majesty's Government.
When most of the dinner plates were clean (allowances being made for Ron's third helpings), the group returned inside for tea. Hermione levitated the buffet table over to one side of the room while Tonks and Remus conjured the few extra chairs needed for everyone to have a seat. Harry stood in front of the other twelve and rather nervously "called" his meeting to order.
"Erm, guess we'll begin," he said. "I should start by thanking Mrs. Granger and Wally for setting this whole thing up on the fly, and for arranging the location." Emily and Wally waved off the polite round of applause and motioned for Harry to continue.
"Before we get too far along I'd like to introduce Steve's mum…hope you all had the chance to meet during dinner…while Mrs. Wall isn't badged, she will be a very important part of how we go about our business."
The group then spent a few minutes talking about Helen Wall's new mission. Mrs. Wall had been recruited as a MI-5 3/4 agent by her son, soon after he had been himself recruited. Since then, she'd provided the agency a good deal of valuable information from her business dealings with wizard apothecaries. Now she would be more on the operational side of things than intelligence gathering. Agent Wall would be the nominal resident of the "Farm;" under cover as a retiree that had a desire to dabble in her own greenhouse and "reconnect with the wizarding world." To that end, she had made application to have a floo connection established and registered the Farm as a magical household. While the backlog of floo service applications was at least a few months long, this would provide an explanation for any detection of magical use on the property.
Once they talked about what Steve's mum would be doing she excused herself from the meeting. Harry didn't want to ask her to leave, but relented after Steve talked about security clearances and plausible deniability. But before Harry could say too much more, Wally moved to the front of the small gathering and asked to speak a few words. Harry was more than happy to yield the floor.
"Three weeks ago today," Wally began, "Her Royal Majesty the Queen and Her Royal Majesty's government pledged to do whatever it could to help three teen-aged kids vanquish what is currently the greatest threat to British citizenry. And not just the wizarding part of it, either…you are all aware of just how successful this collaborative effort has been, as you have all, in various ways, been in the thick of the fight.
"And then some," Fred Weasley added.
Wally smiled. "This past week, Sir Harry was invested as the Queen's Wizard, and provided the opportunity to select those who would join them in the Most Royal Order of Arthur. Looking around, I'm very happy to see the results of that selection process. Happy because…well, Sir Harry will no doubt emphasize the Order's charge to save the Queen from all magical threats."
"Well," Harry interrupted, "that is why the Order was started, wasn't it?"
"True enough, Sir Harry," Wally replied, "But I have it on good authority that Her Royal Majesty considers her safety to be best ensured when the Order is helping Sir Harry do all that he can do in his battle against Voldemort. In fact, the Queen herself asked that I convey her hope that Sir Harry would consider members of the Order to be his own council, his support network, and the ones to rely upon whenever he is need."
"She didn't need to do that," Harry said with a bit of embarrassment.
"Perhaps not, but that is exactly what Her Royal Majesty did," Wally noted.
"Don't worry, Wally," Hermione said, "I think you'll find that Harry managed to reach that same conclusion on his own."
"Did he now?" asked Ron.
Hermione nodded and said, "Harry, why don't you show them your white board?"
Harry looked at Hermione a bit sheepishly, but did as he was told and pulled the shrunken board from his pocket. When he attached it to the wall Harry blanched, and quickly banished the diagramming before anyone could ask smart questions about the "House of Lord Gryffindor." He then took a dry-erase marker from his pocket and drew a line down the center of the board. He wrote "Wizarding" at the top of one side and "Muggle" on the other.
"Right then, the Order of Arthur was established centuries ago with a single goal in mind…to protect the Crown from magical threats. Today that means keeping Moldishorts away from the Queen." To illustrate this point he drew (on their respective sides) a happy face wearing a crown and a cartoonish skull sporting a forked tongue.
Harry's artwork drew a laugh as he erased the center portion of the dividing line and replaced it with a rectangular box labeled "Order of Arthur" with his name inside and at the top. He then noted,"The Queen and her muggle citizenry are at risk because Tom hasn't limited his terror to the wizarding world, and the Ministry of Magic hasn't been able to prevent him from killing innocent muggles who are unable to defend themselves from magical attacks. That's where we come in."
"Our little group will straddle the bright line between the Wizarding and Muggle worlds. We have muggles with knowledge of the wizarding world and wizards and witches who are comfortable on the muggle side. Each brings strengths and areas of expertise, and I'm hoping that we'll be able to use these strengths to help achieve our objectives. And while some of you may be involved in multiple overlapping areas, each will be asked to take a leadership role within the group."
Harry then started adding names to the box, linking each name to a new box located (as appropriate) within the wizarding or muggle world.
"Last week, Clan Potter came into existence in order to forge an alliance with the Goblin Nation. I couldn't get out of being Clan Chief, but for purposes of leading the Clan and managing its alliances I've asked Hermione Granger to take charge."
"And what exactly," George Weasley asked with a smile, "is Hermione's position within the Clan?"
"You would ask, wouldn't you Fool?" Hermione replied with a smile. "If anyone doesn't know, I'm Harry's girlfriend and Clan Chief Consort."
"Erm, moving right along," Harry said quickly, "Besides being Clan Champion, Ron Weasley is going to take the lead in our efforts to organize purebloods at the Ministry into our Peanut Butter Brigade"
"Peanut Butter Brigade? Asked Wally. "Care to say anything more?"
Harry, Hermione and Ron took a few minutes to elaborate. More than half of the members of the DA had been raised in pureblood families, and were therefore subject to the Ministry's forced internship program. The plan was for Ron to establish a network of these students and like-minded others, collecting information and forming a coherent cadre with those Ministry officials already sympathetic to Harry's cause. Ron would be working closely with Luna Lovegood, Neville Longbottom and his sister Ginny.
"What's little sister going to be doing?" asked Fred.
"Well, we'll have to wait and see," Harry replied cryptically. "She's going to try and get an internship working for her brother in the Minister's office."
"What are the odds they'd let your ex-girlfriend anywhere near Scrimgeour?" asked Tonks.
Harry smiled. "Depends on how convincing an actress she can be."
"No worries there, then," said George. "Ginny's nothing if not the little drama queen."
Hermione nodded. "We let Bill and Fleur in on it, but it wouldn't hurt to have you two reassuring your parents when Ginny appears to abandon the family and pull a Percy."
"Right-o, Clan Chief."
Harry shook his head with a bit of exasperation. "Moving right along, Hermione's parents, Roger and Emily Granger….Roger is managing my business empire and looking for creative ways to wage economic warfare against the enemy."
Harry snorted. "Voldemort, you Fool, although anything that could make Umbitch's life more difficult would be welcomed as well. Roger is also arranging the muggle-side of our training this summer…physical training, swords and other weapons. Anyone that wants to join us in our early morning runs inside Windsor Park is more than welcome."
"Emily Granger has the lead role in organizing all of the muggle-born students and their families into a support group and making sure that they have all of the information they need as things progress. She's done a fabulous job already, and with the Ministry pulling the bigot card we really need to make sure that the communication lines are kept open.
"And we can't forget," Harry added with a smirk, "that Mrs. Granger has already flown a combat mission on the back of a broomstick."
Hermione sighed at this comment…it was hard for her to imagine anyone describing her parents without using the word "dentist." How quickly things had changed.
"Say Harry," Fred asked, "what's the nickname for the muggleborns that you're organizing?"
"Yeah," replied George. "Like the Peanut Butter Brigade."
"Erm…hadn't thought about that," Harry admitted. "Wally?"
"Yes, Sir Harry?"
"You muggles are the smart ones when it comes to acronyms…work your magic will you?"
Wally nodded, and began playing with words with pen and paper.
Harry continued on to the other Order members and their roles. The Weasley twins were the suppliers of magical equipment and devices, with a particular emphasis on ways for muggles to protect themselves from magical attacks. Their shop would also serve as a rally point as the quickest way for anyone in the Order to get to Diagon Alley. Similarly, Tonks would anchor the Ministry of Magic, and Remus Lupin the anchor for Hogwarts. Both would also be the contact for what was left of the Order of the Phoenix.
"Hey Harry," Ron asked, "shouldn't we find a way to distinguish between the other Order and this one?"
"Yeah, might be a good idea," Harry said. "Anyone?"
After a few minutes thought Emily Granger suggested that the Order of Arthur could be informally known as "The Art Club." Everyone liked that idea.
"The Art Club it is, then," Harry proclaimed.
Remus then shook his head and said, "I still don't understand how I'll be an anchor for Hogwarts…it's not like I have a position there."
"Not just yet," Harry replied with a twinkle in his eye, "but I'm working on that."
Steve was then recognized as the rally point for the Queen as a member of her security detail, and Wally was linked on the whiteboard to a box labeled "Muggle Gov't."
"Excuse me, Sir Harry, but I've got something," said Wally.
"The acronym for muggle-borns…might I suggest 'COMB'? It would be short for 'Coalition of Muggle-Borns'?"
"Hmmm," said Harry, "not quite as cheeky as MI-5 3/4, but…"
"Sorry, but that 'MB' letter combination is tough." Wally explained. "Didn't think you'd want TOMB…Give me some time and I might work out something else out."
"Fair enough," said Harry with a grin. He then drew a cartoon castle on the muggle side of the board similar to the one labeled "Hogwarts" and linked it to Sir Evan's name with the explanation that he would be the anchor for the Round Tower and Windsor Castle.
With the group all finally introduced, Harry opened the floor up for any bits of information that anyone wanted to share. That led to updates on the medical conditions of Brian Willox (still in a coma) and Molly Weasley (recovering, but still in bed). Wally stated that the four Death Eater prisoners were all conscious and still at Privet Drive, thanks to the anti-apparition leg-bands that had been anonymously provided from the Auror Department (thank you, Tonks). There was a brief debate about what to do with the prisoners…they were low-level recruits that wouldn't have much information to provide, and Harry really didn't want to tie up resources guarding them. It was therefore decided to turn the prisoners over to the Aurors (once their memories had been suitably modified). The mark that all four bore on their forearm was evidence enough to have them confined.
With Ron scheduled to work another graveyard shift at Midnight and planning still to be done for the next day's muggle-born get-together the meeting broke up a little after 9:30. Hermione told everyone to plan on meeting at the Farm until wards were up and running at Windsor, and everyone agreed to keep in touch with their badge communicators.
Wally brought a seven-passenger Land Rover around the front of the house to take the three Weasleys, Tonks and Lupin back to the Burrow. While there was nothing physically keeping people from apparating out, it was thought best not to show too much magic flashing about the Farm until some proper warding was established. Steve volunteered to take first watch on the Farm (providing him with some quality time with his mum), leaving Harry, Hermione and her parents to watch the high-summer sun set from side-by-side porch swings.
"Well that could have gone better," Harry said with a sigh.
"What do you mean, Harry," Emily replied, as she passed glasses of wine all around and took a sip. "I thought you did a great job."
"But we barely did more than introduce ourselves….wasn't any planning or collaboration or trap setting…"
"Going to be a bit of a problem if you use the battle planning with Head Auror Robards as your standard for meeting accomplishments," Roger pointed out.
"Harry this was the very first meeting," replied Roger. "Can't expect to do much until everyone gets used to the idea of working together…give it some time."
Harry shook his head. "I just worry over whether we have that time available."
Hermione scooted over closer to Harry and wrapped her arm around his shoulder. "Hey…remember three days ago? All of those Death Eaters that were splattered on Privet Drive or uncovered at the Ministry? Can't see Voldemort recovering too quickly from that kind of pantsing, do you?"
"Dunno," Harry replied.
"Has been quiet since then, hasn't it son?" Roger asked.
Emily walked behind the swing that Harry and Hermione were sitting on and gave his shoulders a good squeeze. "But nothing, Harry. You've done some great things over the past three weeks, and I think you don't just deserve a bit of rest, you absolutely need some rest. So take it, or else."
Harry raised an eyebrow. "Or else what, Mrs. Granger?"
"Or else we'll force you to explain a rather curious comment you made over the radio during the heat of battle the other day," threatened Roger with a smile.
Harry looked at Roger with mock shock (as he wasn't all that upset over the possibility of discussing the idea of in-laws right then). "Oh…no, anything but that!" he exclaimed.
"Well then, sit there and watch the sunset, son."
Harry raised his hands in surrender and released some of the tension in his shoulders. As Hermione leaned her head against his, he wondered if he would ever get used to this kind of love and attention.
He fervently hoped not.