Hermione wanted to scratch her back, but she resisted the urge for the moment. She was surprised when Bill came back in a sweat and took her to London to get a tattoo. Immediately after the second half of it was complete she felt different. Before when she had started to try and understand what Harry had done she felt like she was being watched, whatever it was never in her sight. Now there was a feeling of being surrounded in a mist whenever she was alone, a barrier to both sight and touch to whatever she had watching her. Also whenever she asked Bill about it he claimed the spell was his, which she didn't believe. There was an elegance to the spell now on her back that his lacked. She wanted to pry deeper, but she wondered if she should speak to Harry first. She felt Ron hug her, the tattoo twinging suddenly.

'I'm sorry,' Ron said quickly.

'Just... a numbing charm, please,' Hermione asked. A moment later she felt the spell over that area and she sighed. 'Thank you.'

'Are you okay?' Ron asked, clearly worried about her. It was perhaps the first time she was glad he was not the most subtle person.

'I'm better than I've been,' Hermione said. She sat by Ron, listening to the carols on the wireless and she wondered what Harry and Ginny were doing.

'What do you think they're up to?' Ron asked.

'I don't know,' Hermione replied. 'But I think they're enjoying the chance to relax.'


Ginny enjoyed the reaction from Harry her bikini got. Right now she was sitting on his lap in the spa and she loved the temperature of the water. It wasn't too cold, but then it was cool enough that the heat of the day seemed to be trivial. She turned so she could kiss Harry, before sliding off his lap and floating in the bubbling water.

'You know what I need,' Ginny whispered, Harry's hands on her shoulders for the moment.

'I should do, I needed it as well,' Harry replied. They'd stayed home the last few days and did minor work on Harry's farm, repairing a fence which took them most of yesterday and the start of today, as well as checking on the dam and cleaning the filters for the rain water tanks. After that Ginny had her first driving lesson in an empty paddock, and while she didn't do that well, Harry seemed quietly confident in her abilities. He'd said she'd done better than he did when he first started as well, which was followed by her stalling the car.

The rest of the day was spent preparing for the get together they'd planned, in the end it had to be Christmas Eve rather than after Christmas. She wondered how Harry planned to cook enough for so many people, the carcass in the large freezer too large for any oven she'd seen. He'd also gathered a pile of rocks by the barbeque , wondering if that was a part of what he had in mind. She'd have to wait till tomorrow to see. She moved again, taking a seat by Harry when she heard Harry call out to his father. She dipped her face in the water, her hair tied back for the moment.

'Why the green Dad?' Harry asked.

'I've been asked to report in,' James said, Ginny wondering what type of uniform he was wearing. The pants and shirt were the same colour, but not knowing the muggle world like her father did, she couldn't make any comments on what it was. There was a name on the uniform and it was the last name she now had.

'I thought you'd resigned, and were off the reserves too,' Harry replied, confused. 'Mum can't be too happy...'

'She's okay with it, actually, after what she heard about what you've done up in Hogsmeade, she can see why they called me in, I'd just like to know who spilled the beans,' James said. 'I've said goodbye to everyone now, so I'll see you some time in the new year.'

'Bye Dad,' Harry said, Ginny adding her own voice to that.

'What's going on?' Ginny asked when James had disappeared.

'He served in the Army, that's the uniform if you were wondering,' Harry said distantly. 'I'm a little stunned they could still call him in.'

'Okay,' Ginny said after a few seconds. 'So what does that mean?'

'I don't know yet,' Harry said, his honesty obvious. 'I really don't.'

Ginny climbed out of the spa, wrapping the towel around herself she watched Harry get out, the water flowing down his body before he turned the jets off and covered the spa. She dried herself, now tying the towel around her hips before she walked inside, Harry heading for the kitchen to start their dinner. He also pulled a few bottles out of the smaller fridge, leaving them on the counter top.

'Going for a shower?' Harry asked again, Ginny not appearing to have heard him the first time.

'Oh, yes, sorry, I was just thinking about something,' Ginny replied. She walked to Harry side, a quick kiss before she headed towards the master bedroom. She wondered if she could ever go back to England after her time spent with Harry, not because of Harry, but because she loved the life he had here. In some ways it was like she knew from the Burrow, but here there was always work to be done, and there was a sense of friendship, she'd spoken to Jen when they were working on the fence, and found a quick friend in the young woman, despite her having her twentieth birthday last month. On top of that her letters to Alex had started out very formal, but now were very informal, a sister she'd never had in more ways than one. She wasn't one to make friends quickly in Hogwarts, everyone either looking down on her for being a Weasley, or looking to her brothers before her because she was a Weasley. In comparison here they took the time to do things, and have a chat before making their mind up, there was no sense of urgency and because she was a close friend of Harry's, then they'd make a shot at being her friend as well.

By the time she was out of the shower and dressed she saw Harry had pulled on a light shirt and was busy flipping something in a pan. She looked at his back, a damp patch in his shirt turning it see-through before she smiled. She could definitely get used to living here.


James could see the crowns on his shoulder board reflected in the mirror. He resigned as a captain, not a bad rank for the SASR, but this was something he didn't expect. He was told the paper work had another month on it, before it was valid, but he knew that was a lie. The briefing implied that they needed someone with magic, and as Australian citizen was involved they'd like one of their own over with the aurors and British SASR. It was with a rather odd expression he walked into the briefing room at Swanbourne, finding the Colonel and Auror Commander sitting side by side, drinking coffee and talking to each other. What made it worse was the fact they grew up together, and went to the same school, till the chief auror went to his local magic school. That left him with a portkey to Hereford, meeting up with the team he would be leading, that group currently in a Chinook heading towards Hogwarts.

He tried to listen to the chatter, the squibs and muggleborn troopers quietly talking about Hogwarts, some of the muggleborns who'd been talking the castle up, which to be fair, it deserved. James wondered how the teachers would react to him being in Hogwarts again, armed with a Styer rather than a wand. He looked out the window, resisting the temptation to touch the crowns again. His final thought before the Chinook started to slow, the angle of the helicopter changing slightly left a smile on his face, and he unbuckled his belts.

'Weclome to Hogwarts gentlemen, let's make this place hell for the Death Eaters,' he said, the first to the door and out.


Minerva wondered what the noise outside of Hogwarts meant and was moving to Great Hall to cut them off. As she arrived she found out it was too late, the Headmaster being held by two men, one of them holding his wand.

'Well, fuck,' one muttered. 'Mike is going to kill me, I'm holding the Elder Wand.'

'Hey, I got my camera here,' the other said, taking a picture. Again the Headmaster moved, but was stopped as two guns, Minerva guessed, were pointed at him.

'Let him go and return his wand,' Minerva started, her tone the one she would use on wayward students. She stopped when she heard something click behind her, another one of the guns pointed at her chest, and if she could trace the line, her heart. She looked at the man behind the gun, the empty expression scaring her more than anything had before. A thought appeared for a moment, that if these were supposed to be the 'good guys' the Ministry was offering to help, then she didn't want to know about the opponents they faced.

'Stand down, but hold that wand,' James Potter order, the guns pointed. 'At least, till it's verified as.'

'Major,' the two troopers said.

'James Potter you will listen to me, the Headmaster is in charge...' Minerva started, yet James did not turn to face her. He continued to speak with another trooper, this one carrying two weapons. He passed James the larger rifle, if Minerva remembered the word correctly, James checking the bolt. 'James Potter!'

'I'm sorry, until I declare this castle secure, it's Major Potter, and I'd advise you to turn your wand over to my squad,' James said, the same look that Minerva saw of the man aiming at her heart in James's eyes. 'Password to the portrait?'

Minerva answered mechanically, passing her wand to a trooper holding a bag, he gave her a strip of paper with a number on it, but she stood dumbstruck as a dozen more troopers like the first few she saw entered the castle, everyone soon appearing in the Great Hall. Severus looked battered, and Draco Malfoy was in little better condition. He must have pulled a wand on the troopers, which they didn't take kindly too.

A scream echoed in the halls, someone Minerva couldn't identify running into the Great Hall, and into three of the troopers, he was dead before he struck the ground, nearly half a dozen rounds from each soldier in his chest and head, the slowly spreading pool of blood and smell of death far more pervasive than Minerva and the others could have guessed. When she saw the face she was stunned, it was one of her students, graduating not more than four years ago. The Dark Mark danced gleefully on his arm, as if to torment her.

'No-one leaves the Great Hall, patrol in pairs,' James ordered.

'Not enough men?' one trooper asked James.

'Nowhere near enough Sar Major,' James replied quickly.