The Prophecy of Eight

Chapter Four

Rising Winds

OoOoOoO James and Rose, Tribune, 30MAY2016. OoOoOoO

The trio appeared in the living room of a nice apartment. Neither of the twins had been in their mother's old place before, and they took a minute to look around. That their mother had decorated the apartment was obvious to the twins. It was done in a comfortable homey style, with one exception. In a corner of the living room was an old black chair that had seen better days, and better decades. Rose looked at the decrepit and battered chair, which didn't even come close to matching anything else in the room, then at her mother. "What's with the chair?" she asked, looking at it again.

Mary followed her gaze, and smiled. Her eyes were far away, as she answered absently. "Before I married your father, I was not the richest woman, and that was part of the furniture I had then."

James and Rose looked at their mother, and back at the chair. They sensed an evasion, and James continued the questioning. "I believe what Rose means, is why is it still here? You've got enough furniture to get rid of it, and it is kind of beat up."

"Brother mine, that chair passed 'kind of beat up' before we were born."

Mary smiled again as she answered them. "When your father and I were dating, we spent a great many hours curled up in that chair, reading and cuddling. It's still his favorite chair."

James was looking at the clock, not really interested in old romantic stuff. "If we're going to get any shopping done before the opening of Weasley's Wizard Wheezes, we have to go, Mom."

Mary grinned at her son. "How did you know about that?"

"Please, it's only been in the paper for a month, and we were going to ask to be here, but then Rose started with the nightmares and that was more important."

"Then we should be going." Mary led them out on to the street. This part of Tribune was mostly little stores, with apartments above them and about five blocks long. Under Mary's apartment was a bakery, and she felt a wave of nostalgia as she recalled many mornings sitting in front of the bakery discussing everything and anything with her friends, one of whom had introduced her to a tall green-eyed man some eighteen years ago. "We have to stop in the bakery for a minute."

Inside the bakery, Mary grinned at the twins and motioned them to silence. When she spoke, her voice had the tone of an old money snob. "Goodman, something low fat and without sugar." James and Rose watched the proprietor to see what he'd do. At first, it seemed that he had not heard her, and then they saw the red flush crawling up his neck. Without turning around from the tray of pastries he was working on, he placed a rock on the counter.

"That's the only thing in this store without sugar, Lady, and low fat too." He voice was low and raspy; as if he was growling the words he spoke.

When their mother spoke again, her voice was back to normal, and filled with affection and mirth. "Really, Kevil, are you ever going to make anything that doesn't make me fat?" At her first words, Kevil had stiffened, and by the time she finished, he had turned and was grinning an impossibly large grin.

"Penny child." He tried to look stern but the effect was ruined by the smile on his face. "So. You leave me for years, and come waltzing back in, probably wanting credit, and expect me to be happy about it?"

Mary's attempt to look pathetic was ruined for the same reason Kevil's stern act had been. "Well, I am just a little short this week." The baker reached out with an arm that looked as though it would reach the front door from where he stood, and dragged Mary into a hug.

James and Rose were examining him with interest. Kevil was only about five foot six inches tall, but he was nearly as wide as he was tall, and from what the twins could see, the rock was not the only low fat thing in the store. His face was broad and looked as if it had been carved from the rock on the counter. Mary was trying to return his hug, but where his arms were wrapped around her almost twice, Mary's arms wouldn't even touch behind him. Releasing her, the shopkeeper looked at the twins. "No need to ask who these two are, not with your face and those eyes."

"Kevil, this is James and Rose."

"How do you do, Sir?" two voices spoke as one.

Kevil looked around. "Sir? Who is this Sir? My name is Kevil."

Mary spoke again. "Kevil, I want my usual, and kids, what do you want?" While the twins inspected the myriad goods on display, Mary leaned close to Kevil. "Did you get Robert's owl?"

"Yes, and my response is on its way back." He examined the twins as thoroughly as they had done him earlier. "Are we sure about this?"

"Yes." Mary's answer was short and Kevil looked sharply at her, but let it pass for now.

"Which are they? The Seer and who?"

"Right this minute we're not even sure of the Seer." Mary looked sideways at him. "Is Constance still in the same shop?"

Kevil appraised her. "Testing for the healing gift?"

"Yes, and despite what you think of her, she's the best healer in the country." Kevil blushed suddenly, and muttered something Mary didn't quite catch. "What did you say?"

"I said she's not that bad." Kevil was avoiding her eyes, and his face was even redder than when she had been teasing him.

Mary stared at him, taking in the blushing and the way he was avoiding her eyes. Her jaw dropped and her eyes went round with astonishment. "Kevil? You and Constance? Or does she know?"

A new voice entered the conversation. "Does Constance know her fiancé is head to head with some man-stealing actress, you mean?" Two sets of blazing green eyes examined the short heavyset woman that had entered the store unnoticed. A split second of mutual thought, and James and Rose joined the three adults at the counter, with James passing close to the middle aged blonde woman, and Rose moving up closer to Kevil and Mary. The whole thing was done in less than ten seconds and they looked at their mother, who was laughing?

Mary was completely dumbfounded. "Excuse me," she finally got out through the giggles, "but weren't you the two that were asked to moved your shops at least five blocks apart, so you wouldn't argue in the streets anymore?"

Kevil's blush was deepening, but Constance brushed the comment aside. "That was in our younger days." She grinned, shooting Kevil a wicked look. "Since then we've found better things to spend our passions on." Kevil closed his eyes, and his face got even redder. He mumbled something about baking to check on, and fled into the rear of the shop. As the two women embraced and began talking about friends, the twins were regretting their sudden actions of a few minutes prior. Silently they decided to confess, and James moved up next to their mother. The two women looked at them.

"So these are your twins?" Constance said, and James and Rose were introduced again.

"Um, Mom, we've got something to tell you." James muttered.

Mary raised one eyebrow as she recognized his embarrassment. "What is it, James?"

James spoke in a rush. "Well, when she made that actress comment, Rose and I were upset and might have acted a bit hastily."

Mary figured out what he meant quickly. "Which one did you use?"

James grinned a bit sheepishly. "Actually, it's a new one Rose and I have been working on."

Constance was following the exchange and broke in. "Whatever are you talking about? Am I going to blow up or something?" She looked down at herself. "That would make an awful mess, you know."

Mary smiled at her. "No, the twins' pranks are more annoying than painful." She looked at James and Rose again. "So what exactly is going to happen?"

James grinned, and began explaining with the pride of an inventor. "It's an adaptation of the 'Speculum dorsum' spell that people use to see their own backs. I put an activator disk on Constance, and Rose put the other half on Kevil. The next time Kevil comes close to you, your image will be cast over him, and all you will see is you, as if you were looking in a mirror."

Constance thought about that. "That might be surprising the first time, but not really funny."

James grinned, and his eyes were alight with a twisted humor. "Well, we thought so also, so it has one more little twist. You are the only one that will see it. Imagine trying to explain to people that Kevil looks like you when none of them can see it, and casting a Finite Incantatem won't work either because the spell itself is not on the person, but on yourself."

Constance thought about that. "That could drive somebody crazy. I like it. Do you have another you can place on Kevil?" James grinned, and brought out a small pouch. Reaching inside, he pulled out a handful of small wooden disks about half an inch wide. Each disk was marked with a green rose on one side and various other markings on the other side. Checking the markings, he held up a disk.

Mary grinned at Constance. "I always told you your mouth would get you in trouble."

Constance was unrepentant. "What can I say? I was not expecting bodyguards at Kevil's shop, and certainly not from my friends."

Mary looked at her sharply. "How did you know I'd be here anyway? I only decided to come this morning."

Her friend merely rolled her eyes. "I'm not stupid, youngster. Robert sent the alert out, and from our correspondence of the last three years, figuring out you'd be bringing the kids to me for testing was a no brainer, and I don't think you can come within a hundred miles and not stop in here. Although two years is far too long between visits."

Mary nodded. "I think so. I mean, you and Kevil? I thought you and Johann were an item."

Constance made a face, as if something tasted bad. "That peacock fell for a dancer from the Floating Platform." As the two women sat at a table chatting about old friends and places, James and Rose moved to a table at the front of the store to watch the people passing by.

Kevil came back out, and took care of some customers that had come in. Seeing the women talking, he took them a tray of drinks and pastries, and brought another to the twins. He smiled at them. "Those two will be at least an hour, you might as well enjoy the wait." Rose thanked him for the tray, and the twins began eating as they used their nonverbal speech to talk. They finished deciding on a name for the new prank, and their talk turned to the prophecy. As they discussed it, the hot chocolate and pastries were forgotten, and Rose pulled her copy from her robes. Setting it on the table, they began going over it again, one line at a time.

Mary and Constance were watching them. "Will you test them for the gift?"

Constance just looked at her. "I don't have to, Penny, even you should be able to see they don't have even a touch of it just by looking at their aura."

Mary grimaced. "Auras never were my strongest point and I haven't even looked at one in ten years, I might have missed it."

Constance watched the flow of emotions over Mary's face and spoke sympathetically. "Mary, don't let your fears as a mother inhibit them. This is going to be hard enough on them without you holding them back."

"I know that, but it's so hard."

"I know. I lost my only child in the Voldemort war." Constance's eyes were far away and misty as she remembered a laughing boy, and the box he came home in for the last time. "No matter how we feel, if we do anything but support them, we will lose even more. Jeremy was my son, but more importantly, he was my friend. Being friends with your grown children is a large honor, and I can say he was mine."

Constance turned bitter for a minute. "Not that you could help them anyway, this war will be for the young. Swords and ducking spells are not for older people like us."

"Bullets either." Mary said grimly.

The older wizard was skeptical. "I still don't think that will work, most of the wizarding world is charmed to prevent those kinds of things from working."

Mary took a deep breath and let it out in a sigh. "That's just it. Robert and I have been testing those wards, and if you fire a bullet from outside, it will still hit its target. Plus," Mary lowered her voice even further. "Robert found an old charm that allows Muggle things to pass the wards."

Constance stared at her in shock. "How hard is it, and how many people know about it?"

"Not hard at all, and the basic theory is in at least two old books that are uncommon, but not rare," said Mary quietly.

"Any more good news for me?" asked Constance wryly.

"No, I think that covers it." Mary looked at her watch, and told Constance they had to be going. She stood up, and Rose caught the motion. Both of them looked at her and she inclined her head towards the door.

Kevil came over to say good-bye, and as he did, the disk that Rose had stuck to his sleeve put his image over Constance. Kevil jumped, and stared at her. Mary had to shake his arm to drag his attention to her.

They said their good-byes, and Mary had a request. "Kevil, you made a dinner for me a long time ago, that first dinner for two."

Kevil smiled. "I remember it, and as I recall, it was followed by the first breakfast for two."

Mary blushed and slapped his arm. "Your memory is entirely too good, but if you could deliver that dinner again, around seven?"

"For you Penny-child, I will do it." Kevil looked at her severely. "Although, if it takes you two years to come back and see us, we won't invite you to the wedding."

Mary grinned. "Oh, the horror, how could I miss that? Robert is never going to believe it unless we're there."

Constance was looking at Mary with an impish gleam in her eyes. "Mary, you're quite red over a dinner, you wouldn't be CKTing tonight would you?"

Mary turned a darker shade of red at the verbal slang they had used years ago for cuddling, kissing and touching. "Not exactly, Robert and I are just going to have a Family Business Meeting."

Constance smirked. "I remember that one."

As they talked, Constance caught Kevil staring at her again. She knew why he was staring, but pretended to be annoyed. "Kevil, what is your problem? We're saying good-bye, not dancing nude in the streets." Kevil mumbled something as the Evans left, and their last sight of the two was a confused Kevil trying to explain what he was seeing to a seemingly unbelieving Constance.

As they headed for the street where all the larger shops were, James asked Mary, "Neither of us have the Healing talent, do we Mom?"

Mary walked on a few steps before replying. "No, and that's all we say in public."

James tried to say something else, but Mary cut him off. "Not another word." James blinked at the firm tone and left it alone for now.

As they walked down the street, passing shops that sold everything from potions supplies to used books and even Muggle artifacts, James asked, "Mom, why do Kevil and Constance call you Penny?"

Mary was silent for a few minutes, and her eyes were far away. She shook her head and answered him quietly. "That's a long story, James, and this is not the time to go into it. I will tell you all about it soon, though."

James and Rose looked at each other, putting together a few facts and many guesses. "When you do, will it explain why we've never met any of your family, Mom?" Rose asked.

Mary looked at the twins sharply, and smiled wryly. "Yes, it will. But that too is a subject better left for home." At the next corner, they turned on to the main street of Tribune. Here there were no apartments, only the biggest businesses in the wizard world. Gringotts had a branch here, as well as Binklestocks, the bookstore that had a copy of every book ever written, and would make you a copy, if you had the money. As they came to Gringotts, Mary told the kids she had to stop in.

James grinned. "That's good, Rose and I have some business with them also."

Mary smiled at them. "Going to try to beat your father?"

"Not yet, but this is too good an opportunity to pass up, and Dad helped us with the strategy. We should be able to work something out, and if we do, we'll need that vault."

Mary shook her head. "My budding tycoons. I feel sorry for everyone that has to deal with you when you two are running Cumulus."

Cumulus was the name of the Evans family businesses, and it had many fingers stretching into all lifestyles, and even holdings in the Muggle world. While the Evans holdings were not as large as the Pendragon fortune, or the Merlin family money, they were listed among the top ten richest families in the wizard world.

James had been doing some quiet research, and suspected that if anyone but Robert actually knew everything Cumulus was into, they might be ranker higher than they were. In Gringotts, Mary went to the Evans vault while the twins opened an account in the name of the Green Flower business. By the time Mary returned, they were done, and they set off for the opening of the first North American branch of Weasley's Wizard Wheezes.

Along the way, the younger Evans were busy refining their plan to attract the attention of Fred and George Weasley. As they approached the crowd gathering, the twins were picking out targets for their disks. Rose turned to James. "Which one?"

James grinned. "Rainbow Friends. I'll get the wizard in the green and lilac robes."

"I'll get the witch in yellow over there, and meet you in front of the stage." The two split up, worming through the crowds as only young children can do, making sure to pass within arm's reach of their chosen victims. In front of the stage, their watched as Fred (Or maybe George) put the final changes on several displays. The other Weasley twin came out of the store, and joined his brother. George and Fred had remained youthful, with only a few lines and a sprinkling of gray hair to show the passing years.

George was looking over the crowd estimating how many were gawking and how many would buy when two small heads caught his eye. Something about them was familiar, but he couldn't put his finger on what, and he was about to say something to Fred when the boy looked up at the stage. The green eyes brought back a memory twenty years old, then the other head turned his way, and he got another shock. "Fred, look at this. Those two kids there by the Ginny Gems table."

Fred looked, and swore softly. "That looks like Harry that first year."

"Almost, but his hair was never that neat. Now, put red hair on the girl, and think about Harry's picture album."

Fred squinted at them again. "Looks a lot like what I remember of Lily, from the early pictures Hagrid gave him."

"I thought so too. I wonder if we'll get a chance to talk to them."

"I don't know about talking to them, but right now it's time to open." The two had the opening down to an art after opening a dozen branches in Europe, and as Fred gave a short humorous speech, George threw various small pranks into the group of children standing near the stage. As Fred finished his speech, there was a commotion in the back of the crowd.

From their vantage point on the stage, Fred and George looked out, and quickly spotted the problem. A number of wizards and witches standing there had suddenly turned colors. Not just any colors, but loud screaming neon colors not found in nature. Electric blues clashed with screaming yellows. After a few seconds, the colors switched places, jumping from person to person in a circle.

From their higher viewpoint, the Weasleys could see the circles were centered on two people, and they looked at each other. Fred was chuckling softly. "Not a bad prank, although it could use a few touches." As they watched the show, they didn't notice the sable haired pair they had seen earlier approaching the stage.

George grinned as the show ended. "That would be a good addition to our product line."

A young voice from the front of the stage spoke. "That sounds like our cue."

Fred and George looked down to see the two people they had been discussing earlier. "You see, my sister and I invented the Rainbow Friends." Fred and George looked at each other.

"Why doesn't that surprise me?" Fred murmured rhetorically.

After they finished talking to the Weasleys, James and Rose went looking for their mother, and found her just outside the store, talking to an older wizard. They slowed as they came close, noting two things. Judging by the cut and material of his robes, the haughty wizard was very well off at least, but far more important to the twins, their mother was quietly furious with him. They moved up on each side of her staring at the older man.

Mary was speaking in a tightly controlled voice. "No. You don't understand. Twenty years ago, he lost the right to order me around. I made an attempt at peace fifteen years ago, and again ten years ago and was snubbed both times. So you just run on back to the Patriarch and tell him that if he wants to talk to Robert and I, he can damn well come to us."

James and Rose blinked as they heard their mother swear for the first time. Mary put an arm around her children. "Now, if you will excuse us, my children and I have things to do." Something in the way she stressed the words 'my children' made the older man flinch.

As they started to turn away, he spoke again. "Don't you dare turn your back on me Marilyn P"

Mary twisted, cutting his sentence off as if she had used a knife. "Are you stupid, or merely so arrogant that a new thought can't penetrate your skull? My name is Mary Evans. I neither acknowledge nor answer to anything else."

As the silver haired wizard started to lose his regal bearing, James and Rose took a hand in the situation. They moved up next to him, and each of them gripped the sleeves of his robes, pulling him down to where they could speak quietly in his ear.

They used the back and forth speech that always made people stop and listen to them to be sure they heard correctly. "Sir, we don't know you--"

"But you're annoying our mother--"

"And we don't like that."

"So unless you want us to cause--"

"A very messy and very public--"

"Spectacle in the street--"

"You'll leave right now." They let him go and moved back to stand next to their mother, pulling a handful of disks from their pockets as they did so. The older wizard stared at them, flushing an angry red.

He looked around, at the people watching them, and spoke again, quietly. "You have not heard the end of this, Marilyn Elizabeth Pendragon."

With that parting comment, he Disapparated away, leaving the twins in shock. Mom was a Pendragon? The Pendragons were the oldest and largest family in the wizard world with the sole exception of the Merlins, and the two families had intermarried so many times over the years that they were practically one family.

They put the disks away, deep in the silent link they shared. Mary sighed, looking at them. "I think we'll be having that talk a little sooner than I had planned on." She took a deep breath, pushing her anger down as she started walking again. The twins trailed after, and after a few steps, began giggling. Mary looked at them, instantly recognizing the signs. "What did you do to him?"

Rose spoke first. "When we had his sleeves, I planted a 'Dirty Face' on his robes."

James attempted to look innocent, although the mischief in his eyes ruined the act. "It should go well with the 'Tattered Robes' one I planted on him." Mary burst out laughing at the thought of the regal wizard looking like a beggar.

When she stopped, she looked sideways at her children. "You do know that was the Merlin don't you? Senior member of the Merlin clan?" James and Rose lit up, and stopped. James pulled a small notebook from his robes and wrote something down.

He grinned at Rose. "That leaves just six more to go." Mary raised an eyebrow inquisitively.

Answering the unspoken question, Rose smiled at their mother. "We're trying to prank at least one member of every family in the North American Book of Gold before we go to school in the fall."

James was checking the book again. "We've got just six families left, and then possibly five more, where the person we pranked was only married into the family."

Mary shook her head. "The Book of Gold? You aim high, don't you?" The Book of Gold was a list of the fifty oldest and biggest wizard families in North America, and held such families as the Pendragon, Merlin, Penwall and more. The Evans family was listed third in the Book of Gold. Only the Pendragon and Merlin families were higher.

"You know what dad says, 'Always reach as high as you can,'" James and Rose chorused, "'you may not succeed, but you'll get somewhere at least.'"

As they reached a tailor's shop and Mary stopped to go in she smiled at her children again. "I believe he was talking about business when he said that."

The twins turned identical innocent looks on her. "But, Mom, pranks are our business." Mary laughed, and warned the twins that these people were old friends, and not to prank them. Flushing at the reminder of their misguided prank on Constance earlier, they agreed.

Inside the shop, Mary led them towards the back, waving at some of the people working. The smell of fabrics filled the air, and there were a goodly number of people being fitted for robes. In the back of the store, an old man was sewing a robe, and murmuring quietly while he did. James and Rose caught the flash of magic around his fingers and the needle as he sewed and looked at each other. Mary spoke to him, using the same pathetic tone she had tried to use on Kevil earlier. "Pardon me, but do you have a job for me?"

The old wizard's fingers kept sewing even as he looked up at Mary, smiling broadly. "For you? No, I don't think so. Last time I gave you a job, you were here barely three years, and you left to get married. Now you have children. Come see me when they're grown and gone."

Mary sighed theatrically. "Then who should I see about fittings?" she asked. The tailor looked at the twins, and sobered.

Without taking his eyes from them, he questioned Mary. "I suppose you'll be wanting the special robes?"

Mary was just as sober. "Of course. I could have gotten regular robes anywhere, and not come halfway across the country for them."

The old man nodded, finished with his inspection of the twins. "See Ronald then, and tell him what you want." Mary touched the elderly tailor, and thanked him. The affection was back as he shooed them off. "Go, child, you're interfering with my profit margin."

Mary was smiling, remembering her years of working in this shop, before she married Robert. She found Ronald, and they exchanged hugs before he started measuring the twins. As he worked, he and Mary kept up a constant stream of talk about people they knew. When the twins were done they moved to the front of the shop to watch the street as Mary was measured for robes.

After they were done, and the robes paid for, they headed to the Final Port to meet their father for lunch. Along the way, Mary cautioned them about the Inn. "Kids, this is a strange place, but two things will never change about it. Everyone in there is a good person, no matter what they look like, and you'll always be safe there." Despite their attempts, that was all Mary would say. By the time they reached the entrance, the twins were wildly curious.

The entrance to the Final Port was in an alley, and was a simple door, with no sign or anything to show what was inside. When Mary knocked on the door, a man opened it. It was possible that he was a short giant because the man that opened the door had to duck to stick his head out, and his shoulders were every bit as wide as the door. James was certain he could have taken the door's place quite easily. He looked at them, greeted Mary and then looked at the twins. For one brief second, they felt something, as if his eyes looked under their skin into their very souls. Eyes wide, they stared at him until he nodded slowly and moved aside to let them in.

Inside the door, James and Rose looked around, slightly disappointed. After the cryptic comments their mother had given, they were expecting a dim smoky hole in the wall, with strange beings and sneaky bearings. What they saw was a well lit and clean Inn with about fifteen tables, most of which had normal looking people at them.

Robert waved at them from one of the tables, and they joined him. Chatter about their morning took them through lunch, which was a savory stew with warm bread sticks and a tart cranberry juice to wash it down. Robert nearly choked on a bread stick when he heard they'd pranked the Merlin. "Pompous fool needs it," was all he would say about it, although there was an undercurrent of anger in his voice when he spoke of the Merlin.

As they were eating the strawberry pie that was dessert, James frowned. He had just seen a wizard appear from one of the three booths he could see from his seat. He caught Rose's eye and they spoke silently. Watching the booths, they soon realized there was some sort of spell on them. When a person went into the booth, you could not see them until they left it again. When James said something to his father about it, Robert just shrugged. "Not all of the clients want to be seen," was all he would say and then he changed the subject.

After lunch, they spent a pleasant couple of hours wandering through the smaller shops, looking at rare things, and many strange things. Robert bought Mary a magic back scratcher that sent the twins to whispering together. Their parents just shook their heads, knowing that a new prank was being born, based on the back scratcher somehow.

In a bookstore, James found a nearly unread copy of a book and bought it for Rose; telling her that if she was going to dream about it, she could read about it too. Rose looked at the cover. "'Hogwarts, a History'" she read, and flipped to the index. "Look at this, Lily and Harry Potter are mentioned in here." Mary and Robert had to drag them away from the book at that point.

The twins found a Muggle thing, and bought it after playing with it for a few minutes. They gave it to their father, saying it could replace his computer. After looking at the 'Magic eight ball' Robert laughed, and agreed it would work just as well for wizard business.

After a while, Mary gave the twins the Portkey, and they said good-bye, with hugs all around. As the twins Portkeyed home, Mary and Robert smiled at each other, and headed for Mary's old apartment, unaware of the bright red hearts on their backs, which read "We're in Love" every time they touched. Back at the house, James and Rose pulled out the little book and made a notation. "That gives us a Pendragon by birth, and an Evans."

The voice that came from the shadows was low, and very menacing. "And two dead children who don't pay attention to what's around them."

James and Rose jumped, spinning to face the large man in the corner of the room before the voice registered. They relaxed, and Rose was the first to speak. "Why the scare tactics, Uncle Alexander?"

Uncle Alexander Evans was a near copy of his younger brother Robert, but he had the muscles of a man that did hard physical activity for a living, and the ramrod straight posture that said military to anyone that knew.

As the oldest brother, Alexander would be the head of the Evans Clan, but Alexander was a squib. Born without any magical talent at all, he had gone on to an exemplary career in the American Muggle Army, and had long advocated closer ties between the two worlds. After his retirement from the army a couple of years back, he had opened a bookstore in Billings Montana that catered to both worlds.

"Robert has brought me up to date. That means that in a few years, you two are going to be front line troops in a war. Learning a little simple caution won't hurt you a bit." He grinned suddenly. "Or at least not much." Alexander swept the two into a hug. "I assume your father has gone over the prophecy with you, but I am going to lay a different view on it on you." Alexander smiled again. "I love Robert, but once he gets an idea in his head, it take a large stick to dislodge it. For example, he thinks we have eight or nine years before the war begins, and I disagree. I think we have less." James and Rose stared at him.

"How much less, and why?" asked James.

"Four or five years less. I think the Peace era began when we started pushing Voldemort back, and he was no longer attacking. After all, that is when most people 'Saw nothing frightening'." Recognizing the quote from the prophecy, James and Rose pulled their copies out and began looking at them again.

As they were sitting down, James made a small protest. "Wait a minute, if the war is going to start that soon, where are the Eight?"

"Read it again. It says they rise in the darkest hour, after the Patient Child strikes the first blow." As they began going over the Prophecy again, their uncle took a minute to look around the room.

The large fireplace was the focal point of the room with a large sectional and several easy chairs angled so that everyone could see each other and the fireplace. A number of lamps and lanterns were scattered around, and the room could be made ready to entertain Muggles or wizards in a very few minutes.

Alexander moved over with the twins and once again they went over the prophecy line by line, but this time, their uncle offered them all the different ways to interpret it. Long into the night, they spoke, with Uncle Alexander giving them advice and telling them where they were going from here.

The next morning he began showing them exercises to strengthen both mind and body. Books by authors from both worlds on strategy and tactics came out and he advised them to read them carefully. "Two things are more useful than anything else when you're preparing to fight. The first is discipline. I can't make you do the exercise, and I can't make you study those books, you have to do it on your own. That is called self-discipline, and it is the first step to victory. Proper preparation is the next most important thing. Know your equipment, know yourself, and what you can do with what you have, and the battle is half over before it starts." Alexander paused and looked at James. "You are going to have to control that temper too."

James started to say something, and his uncle just stared at him. "I was at the Junior Quidditch finals, remember? I know very well that you inherited your temper from your mother, and you cannot lose that temper in a fight. In fact, you cannot even lose that temper after you've been training for any amount of time. I am going to teach you to fight with your hands, a discipline called Aikido. If you use that on somebody in a temper, you can kill them." James and Rose looked at him wide-eyed. He raised an eyebrow, and spoke gently. "I know you're young to hear that, but if this war goes down the worst case path, and I think it will, lots of people are going to die. I am going to show you how to make sure it's not you."

The summer passed quickly with the new training. Rose was also reading the Evans Sight book, and trying to refine her Sight. It was still too vague to be of much use, but the book suggested that that would not always be the case. Between the martial arts classes and the gymnastics, the twins were beginning to build firm graceful bodies, and the mental exercises their Uncle had them do were shaping their awareness of the world around them.

Memorization was one of the key exercises. Alexander would lay out a number of items on a sheet, and have them look at them for a minute. Later that day, or the next day, He would ask them to write down what had been there and where it was in relation to everything else.

Something their Uncle called 'situational awareness' was also heavily trained. Uncle Alexander would have them walk through an area, and then quiz them on what had been in that area. Reaction drills, tactical drills and a host of other training techniques culled from a long career as a Muggle soldier insured that the twins were very busy over the summer.

This set the pattern for the summer, until the middle of August, when Robert announced that they were taking a week off for a trip. They would be leaving the next day, and he warned them to pack formal robes as well as daily robes. When the twins asked him where they were going, all he said was that patience was a virtue.

Early the next morning, the twins sent off the last of the pranks they had licensed to the Weasleys, and waited impatiently for their parents to be ready to go. The twins had packed the night before, and about 8:00 am, Robert Portkeyed them to the east coast, and then pulled a second Portkey out. A few seconds later, the family appeared in a small wizard village, and Robert smiled. "Welcome to Hogsmeade."

OoOoOoO Emma, Hangeld and Tiffany, The Burrow, Summer 2016. OoOoOoO

The three friends had a glorious summer, filled with all the things that make summer worthwhile. They enjoyed it, knowing that it was the last long summer they would have before starting Hogwarts.

Quidditch was played and Garden Gnomes were tossed. There was swimming and races, ice cream in the evenings and all the little things that children do without even noticing them. They were joined occasionally by the children of the other members of the Weasley family, as well as friends of Harry's from the war. Neville's two children came by fairly often, as the Longbottom estate was less than five miles away.

Hangeld spent almost the entire summer at the Burrow every year as his father worked with the Ministry and the Giants, refining and reforming the Human Giant treaties. Since the Border was a dangerous place, Hangeld stayed with Tiffany or Emma during the summer, going back to his home when Hagrid came back from the borders for the school year.

All in all, this was one of their finest summers, and not even the increased number of adult conferences and occasional worried looks affected their summer.

Until one night in the last week of August.

Tiffany, Emma and Hangeld were outside enjoying a summer evening and trying to catch fireflies with Daniel Creevy, who they had known for years, and a new friend. Melissa Xavier was a slim girl, taller than normal and with a serious demeanor. She had black hair and dark brown nearly black eyes that watched everything around her with quiet reserve.

They paused their games when Harry Potter called them. The group trouped up to the back door of the Burrow with laughter and plans for later, things that died quickly as they saw Harry's face. He was not smiling, a rare thing for Harry in the last decade.

"Come inside, kids. We want to show you something."

Harry led the five children into the living room and the five of them found seats. Harry Potter sat down next to Ginny Potter and the kids looked around, sensing that something important was about to happen. Besides the Potters, every one of their parents was sitting in the living room and they looked very serious. Emma's folks, Ron and Hermione, sat next to Victoria and Mitchell Xavier while Hagrid stood in the corner. Colin and Susan Creevey were sitting on the hearth of the fireplace with Susan leaning happily on her husband.

Harry sighed. "I'm not sure how to say this, so I'm going to be straight forward. "We have some information that you need to hear."

Harry took out a scroll and read the prophecy to the kids. He looked at them when he was finished. "There is a very good chance that some or all of you will be involved in this when you get to Hogwarts."

Emma, Hangeld and Tiffany looked at each other first. They had heard all the stories of the problems that Harry's prophecy had caused him during the second half of the Voldemort War and this could be a bad thing.

Daniel Creevy was frowning. "Why are there so many of us? Usually, prophecies have just two people." He thought about it some more. "And who are the others? You said there would be eight, and there are only five of us."

Hermione Granger-Weasley, Emma's mother, sighed. "We don't know why there are eight people, although there are a couple of theories. The first is that the Patient Child is building an organization, like Voldemort's Death Eaters, but more dangerous." She hesitated, and then continued. "Another theory is that this enemy has so much power, or will have so much power, that it will take eight normal people to contain him."

Daniel nodded. "OK, but who are the other three people?"

The adults looked at each other, and Daniel looked at them. "You do know who they are, right?"

Harry took a deep breath. "Yes. Two of them are Americans, distant relations of my mother. Their names are James and Rose Evans."

Tiffany looked at her father. She knew him the best of all the children and she knew he was avoiding something. "Who is the last one?"

Ginny and the Weasleys in the room frowned and Harry sighed. "Lisa Malfoy."

Lucius and Draco Malfoy had been Death Eaters during the Voldemort War, and they had been one of the reasons it had dragged on as long as it had. During the second phase of the Voldemort War (Which some people called the Potter phase, much to Harry's embarrassment,) Lucius and Draco Malfoy had given Voldemort the information that allowed him to enter the Ministry.

Percy Weasley had died there, fighting a rear guard action while the Ministry evacuated. Bill Weasley had died breaking the wards the Death Eaters had set around the building when the Ministry counterattacked. The actions of Lucius and Draco had cost the light side more than twenty wizards and witches, and only a base act of betrayal had kept Draco out of Azkaban.

Late in the War, when everyone knew how it would end, if not when, Draco had turned his father in as a Death Eater. He had made a deal with the Ministry. In return for the location of Voldemort's hideout and a diagram of the buildings and caves there, Draco served just three years in Azkaban, with no other penalties. Harry had been talked into letting him be by the Ministry and Harry had agreed not to kill him on sight, which was all Draco had wanted.

No other official penalties, anyway. Ginny Potter had seen him in the streets of Diagon Alley soon after he'd been released from Azkaban, and beaten him severely with a conjured whip. It had taken the healers at St. Mungo's two days to repair the damage she'd done, and he would forever bear some of the scars. Since Ginny had promised to do the same thing every time she saw him, Draco rarely came out in public these days.

Rumour had it that Draco had a couple of physical problems these days as well. It was said that he had a constant case of nausea and diarrhea, one that had not gone away in twelve years, despite everything he tried. Most people suspected the twins of doing whatever had happened to Draco, but they denied it. Ginny had long ago figured out why Harry and Hermione just smiled and changed the subject when Draco came up, but not many others had.

Today, the Malfoy name was one of the most hated names in the Wizarding world. People used it as an insult, meaning a base vile and cowardly traitor. In the homes of those that had actually fought against the Death Eaters, such as the Longbottoms, Creeveys, Potters and Weasleys, Draco was a bitter reminder that some of the scum had not been removed during the clean up after the war. Only the Riddle name was held to more contempt.

The kids looked at each other. "We're supposed to trust a Malfoy?" Emma asked incredulously.

Harry frowned. "Sirius Black came from a Dark family," he reminded her, "and he is not a bad man, is he?"

Emma frowned at Harry, touching her hair. "That depends on what he's done to your hair recently."

Harry hid his smile. Since the end of the War, Sirius had been working with the twins, making and perfecting more and more pranks and jokes. A couple of weeks ago he had tested a new one on Emma, without her permission or even her knowledge. She had gone to bed as normal, with her hair the red of every Weasley. Her was remarkable in a gathering of Weasleys only because she also had the bushy frizz of her mother. Emma's hair stuck out like a banner.

Until Sirius tested his potion on her at dinner. Emma had woken up in the morning and walked into the bathroom. A few seconds later everyone in the house was awake as she shrieked. As people poured out of the rooms, wands out and searching for danger, Emma had come out of the bathroom.

Her hair had been changed into a Medusa's locks, and dozens of small green snakes writhed where her hair had been.

Sirius had been Flooed, but he'd spent the night with Elizabeth Greengrass somewhere and it had taken nearly five hours to track him down and have Emma's hair fixed. Emma was still trying to find a way to pay him back, but Sirius had been pranking people for more than thirty years and her attempts at revenge had failed so far.

While Harry thought about what Emma had said, everyone else was thinking about the oldest Malfoy child. Ron was frowning. "Do we know which of the eight she is?"

Harry shook his head. "We only know a couple of them. Miss Xavier is the Healer, Miss Evans appears to be the Seer, Hangeld is the Half Human, but the rest are up for grabs."

Hermione was examining the prophecy again. "Two born a world apart would assume the Evans boy and one of ours. Tiffany is the only one over here related to them, correct?" People nodded. "Emma is the Fireheart I would guess, given her willingness to try anything." Hermione Granger-Weasley smiled at Emma as she blushed. Emma tendencies to poke her nose into anything that caught her attention was fast becoming a family legend, much like Fred and George's pranks.

"That only leaves two more, the Artist and the Mental Wizard," Hermione continued. "but without knowing anything about Malfoy, we can't be certain."

"Actually, we're not certain about the Two. Robert Evans has a different interpretation of the prophecy that does have some merit." He went through the reasoning Robert had given Mary, about medieval England and modern America being worlds apart and how there were a couple of families involved in this that had Seers in the family history.

The adults pondered that while the children sat huddled together, discussing the oldest Malfoy child. Emma was the one that looked at Harry. "Who is the oldest Malfoy, anyway? The only one I've ever seen is Draco jr, and he seems a bit young for this."

Harry rolled his eyes. "You're all a bit young for this. The oldest Malfoy child is a girl, Lisa Malfoy. She'll be starting Hogwarts with you this year."

Daniel frowned. "How are we going to meet the Americans? There has never been an American in Hogwarts."

Mitchell Xavier snickered. "Not until now, no. Robert Evans is a determined man though, and one with a great many contacts and money. As I understand it, the official story will be that he paid their tution up front, in gold for all seven years, with no refunds of any part of it, even if they don't finish school."

Hermione looked up. "You said the official story. Now tell us the rest of the story."

Mitchell smirked. "Hogwarts has a new fund this year, under the control of the Headmaster, and someone donated two million Galleons to it. No name was attached to the donation. Along with that, Cumulus Inc. will be supplying all of Hogwarts' needs at cost while they are in school." He grinned at the expressions of the adults. "Is anyone really surprised to know that Mr. Evans controls that company?"

Harry sighed. "Robert is a very pragmatic man. I'm still not certain if he would have been a Ravenclaw or a Slytherin if he'd gone to Hogwarts."

Hermione looked at Harry. "Pragmatic is one way to put it. I would say he's rather driven, and that rules don't mean that much to him." Hermione was still the one that worried about the rules and respected authority, a fact that had not changed since the Trio's first year. Harry and Ron grinned at her, and she huffed at them while the rest of the adults watched the byplay with smiles.

The kids had been discussing Lisa Malfoy and had come to an agreement. They knew what her family was like and they would watch her. If it looked like she was getting ideas, they'd figure out what to do then.

The meeting broke up a bit later and the children went on with their summer. The prophecy, being about events that were five or six years away, didn't have much impact on them now, and they could push it out of their minds fairly easily. Emma didn't worry about it at all. There were dozens of Weasleys after all, and she couldn't conceive of anything they couldn't handle together.

Tiffany was far more worried about something else. Ginny Potter was replacing Madame Pomfrey as the school nurse next year, and would be working with her this year, to learn the routines of the Infirmary. Worse still, Professor Hooch was retiring this year, and her father was going to be the Flying Instructor, as well as helping Alan Moody, son of Alastor "Mad-Eye" Moody, teach the NEWT level DADA classes.

That meant that both of her parents would be at Hogwarts and that would not be good for a few of the things she had wanted to do. Fred and George had remade the Marauder's Map with Sirius' help after it was destroyed during the Battle of Hogwarts, and they had gifted it to Tiffany. Along with it, she had Harry's first Invisibility Cloak, which he had told her to keep a secret. The twins and Sirius had also been showing her a few things that were not on the market yet, and wanted her to try them out at school. No, Tiffany was not happy about her parents being at school. Harry and Ginny had spent far too much time sneaking around the school and breaking the very same rules she was going to be breaking not to be able to figure out what she was doing.

Hangeld thought about it more than the others, but his only concern was that his friends not get hurt. Hangeld knew he was bigger and stronger than any of his friends,with some abilities and defences they didn't have and that meant he could shield them.

Melissa had an advantage over the others. She was the direct descendent of Debra Xavier, the Witch that had treated Elric Evans eight hundred years ago, and their family had kept their copy of the prophecy. They had seen the signs of the prophecy time coming as soon as Robert had and Melissa had been told that it was coming as soon as Professor Dumbledore had contacted them. That was why the Xaviers had started coming to the Burrow in the first place.

Melissa's concerns were different. She knew what she would be doing and her worries were about what kind of injuries they would receive, and how she would deal with them. She threw herself into her studies with the fervor of an obsession.

Daniel Creevey wanted to do more than his father had in the Voldemort War. Colin had fought, but most of his fame from the war came as the Quibbler's photographer and Daniel was young enough to think true glory came from fighting and being a great fighter.

By the time the Hogwarts letters were sent out, only one of the ones thought to be involved in the prophecy had no idea what was going on. No one had yet figured out how to talk to Lisa Malfoy,who rarely left the Malfoy estate. No one wanted to tell Draco Malfoy what was going on, but without doing that, they could only talk to Lisa when she was off the estate, and that hadn't happened this summer.

OoOoOoO Adam Brooks, London, 01AUG1991. OoOoOoO

Adam looked at the sketches he'd drawn after the visit to Diagon Alley. The short man that had visited the day after he received a very strange letter had been shocking enough to the Brooks family, but the trip to the Wizard world had settled most of their doubts. He looked over at the stack of robes and books that waited for this new school and only the warning Professor Flitwick had given him kept him from taking the wand out and trying to make something happen.

He looked again at the pictures of Wizards in robes and the stranger things he'd seen in the Alley. His eyes flickered to some of his favorite drawings and paintings. The Buckingham Guards, with the medieval castle behind them, and a dozen more, all with elements of fantasy in them.

Apparently life was more fantastic than even his imagination had known.

OoOoOoO The Guardians, Somewhere. OoOoOoO

"Who is this person that comes?"

"I don't know. I cannot touch her." The female presence was silent for an instant that in this place could have been an hour or a week. "Here, Greeneyes. Look here, in the dim past."

"That's impossible. She's a myth."

"Look forward, and see where she crosses our charges."

"She might hurt them. Should we do something to prevent this?"

"What can we do? She is not of our Prophecy. We cannot touch her, especially with that mark on her."

The male presence seemed to frown as he observed the hole in the world that was coming closer to the Eight of their prophecy. "A dream, or other warning to the Seer?"

"And what if that is the thing that makes her try to hurt them, being greeted with mistrust and dislike?" She soothed the man she had been bound to for more than Eight hundred years. "We must let them do some things on their own, Greeneyes. Like parents, we learn to let go and let them live."

The man sighed. ""Most parents don't have to wait this long to let go," he groused in a dry tone.

The other light had a sense of laughter in her tone. "I seem to recall that you thought our children grew up too fast the first time."

The male presence responded in kind. "Couldn't we find a middle ground between seventeen years and eight hundred?"

OoOoOoO Raven, Somewhere, 12AUG2007. OoOoOoO

Well, the old Prophecy story will start to change in the next chapter, which will be the chapter the Sorting is in, and the first meeting of Lisa. Those of you that have read Prophecy will understand that nothing has really changed yet, I've just expanded on some things that I left out before.

This goes off to the Betas today, (All Hail the Mighty Betas!) without which, this would be an poorer story, filled with errors and far too many commas.

Right after I send this off, I'm starting on SoG11.

30AUG07

I'm sorry this took so long, but between a lengthy Beta internet problem and my trip to the mountains... it just did. SoG11 is at roughly 10,000 words and should be going to the Betas this weekend.

Raven