Chapter 1
A New Beginning


Post DH. Pre-Epilogue. Sequel to Harry Potter and the Return to Hogwarts. This story follows the relationships of Ron and Hermione, and Harry and Ginny. The Second War has finally come to an end. Ron and Hermione are engaged, but neither are sure they want to get married anytime soon. Harry and Ginny are trying to move on to the next stage of their relationship. Ginny moves into Harry's house and both try to cope with each other as well as their new careers. Shipping: Ron/Hermione; Harry/Ginny; others. Multi-PoV.

Author's Note: This is the sequel to Harry Potter and the Return to Hogwarts. If you have not read that story, I strongly suggest you do, or you may be confused about some of the content in this story. This will be in Harry's PoV.

Harry Potter was under attack. He was crouched on his knees, hiding behind a large stone wall. Two red beams shot over his head. Beads of sweat ran down his forehead and stung his eyes, half-blinding him. He wiped away the sweat with his free hand. In his other hand was his wand, and the best offensive spell he could think of was on the tip of his tongue.

"Psst!" a voice whispered to his right, "Harry!"

Harry turned his head. His best friend, Ron Weasley, was crouched on his knees just a few feet away. He held up two fingers. Harry knew he was using a form of sign language, which was used for occasions when they would need to use stealth.

Harry and Ron were Aurors-in-Training. They were only a few months into their training, but it was already intense.

The Ministry of Magic had offered Harry a position with the Aurors, informing him that he wouldn't even need to go through the Training. Harry had agreed at first, because he was needed for a special mission that, if successful, would end the Second War once and for all.

Harry, the Aurors, and the wizarding world itself, were victorious. The last remaining Death Eaters were either dead or in Azkaban prison, under the highest security the Ministry of Magic could give. There were very few Death Eaters alive and none of them were a large threat to the wizarding world anymore. The few that had not been killed in the final battle of the Second War had surrendered.

After the Second War had ended, Harry realized that he was not experienced enough to be an Auror without the proper training, so he enlisted into Auror training with his best friend in the world, Ron Weasley.

"Two enemies?" Harry whispered to Ron, asking for the confirmation.

Ron nodded.

"How far?" Harry asked.

Ron put up two fingers again then made a circle with his thumb and forefinger.

"Just tell me!" Harry whispered, trying to keep his voice to a minimum, "We are close enough."

"Harry," Ron whispered, "We need to know --"

"Ron," Harry interrupted him, "If we keep this up, they are going to find us. Those stunning spells were well-aimed."

"I don't think so," Ron said, "They might have been warning shots, or a trick of some sort. Perhaps they were trying to scare us into showing ourselves?"

"Perhaps," Harry said, "We can't be too sure. Where are they?"

"Twenty yards away," Ron whispered, "Maybe thirty."

"Maybe?" Harry asked, then shook his head, "Never mind. What should we do?"

"You're the leader here, mate," Ron said.

Harry sighed.

"Are they close together?" he asked.

Ron peered slightly over the wall, then ducked quickly.

"I don't see them anymore," he said.

"When you saw them," Harry said, "Were they close together?"

Ron shook his head. Harry nodded and thought for a moment. If he was the opposition, what would he do in this situation?

"They are trying to trap us," he finally said, "We need to split up."

Ron looked like he was about to argue, but stopped himself. He nodded.

"I'll go this way," Harry said, nodding behind him, "You go that way."

Ron nodded. Harry turned and crept against the wall, making sure he was hidden. When he got to the end of the wall, he peered around it. Ahead of him was a grove of trees. Inside the grove, it was so dark that he couldn't see much farther into it than the first row of trees. He looked for any sign of movement, and when he couldn't see any, he hid behind the wall.

"Harry?" Ron whispered with a hiss.

Harry looked at Ron, who pointed at his eyes, then pointed to Harry. Harry sighed. Ron was using sign language again. Harry guessed he would have to give in and use it as well, even though he wasn't an expert at reading it, especially when Ron was trying his feeble attempts at it. Harry knew Ron was asking him if he saw anything. Harry shook his head and pointed at Ron, who also shook his head. Ron pointed at himself then moved his fingers in a walking motion. He pointed at the grove of trees. Harry gave him the thumbs up. Ron disappeared behind the other side of the wall and Harry peered around his side of the wall. He watched Ron creep up slowly to the edge of the tree-line. A few moments later, Ron hid behind a large tree and peered around it. He then turned and looked at Harry and shook his head. Harry gave him the thumbs-up and sighed. It was his turn.

He moved into the open and quickly moved to the tree-line. He hid behind the nearest tree and peered around it, looking for any movement. He couldn't see anything, but as he was going to turn his head, he saw the slightest trace of movement out of the corner of his eye. It was only for a second, but he swore he saw a foot about twenty feet away. He hid behind the tree and looked at Ron, who was looking at him with a questioning gaze. He pointed to his eyes, then put one finger up then two and connected his thumb and forefinger to form a circle. Ron nodded. Harry put his free hand up, his fingers close together, and then moved his fingers in a walking motion: the instructions for "stay until you see something". He then pointed to himself then into the grove. Ron nodded.

Harry moved around the tree and ran quickly and quietly to the tree in front of him. Suddenly, he heard a "WHOOSH!" and the sound of a small boom, followed by the sound of a tree falling. Harry peered around the tree. Another tree, just a few feet ahead of him, had fallen to the ground. Parts of it had shattered. Harry knew it was the after-effects of a Reducto curse. He cursed silently. The enemy had seen him and had only missed Harry by feet. This meant the enemy knew where he was. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Ron moving to another tree.

Harry peered around the tree and looked for movement. He thought he saw a wand, but it might have been a stick on a tree. Suddenly, that stick moved, and Harry knew it was someone with a wand.

"Stupefy!" Harry whispered, pointing his wand at the target.

The red beam hit the tree, sending large splinters flying. Harry saw movement, and he knew his spell had scared the enemy. Harry ran to the fallen tree and dove behind it. He crawled on the grassy floor to the trunk of the tree, his wand straight ahead. He then saw a black boot about ten yards away. His enemy had revealed himself. Harry grinned and started to move when he heard a distant explosion. He turned, fearing that Ron had been hit. He gave a sigh of relief when he saw Ron crouched behind a tree. A few feet from him, another tree had fallen; pieces of it were everywhere. Harry could tell that Ron was breathing hard. He knew he had to end this soon. But first, he would need to get the enemy near him before he could help Ron.

He turned back around and looked for the black boot once again. It was nowhere to be seen. Harry swore, but continued toward the general direction he had seen the boot. He heard another "WHOOSH!" just in time and ducked as a red beam flew over his head, missing him by inches. His enemy had seen him once again. Harry inhaled and stood up.

"Stupefy!" he yelled, pointing his wand straight ahead.

Harry heard a thud, similar to that of a body hitting the ground. He crept along the trees until he discovered the stunned form of his enemy laying on the ground.

"One more," he whispered, and hid behind another tree.

He looked around for Ron, and found him creeping along the trees. He wondered if Ron had seen the other enemy. He crept along the trees until he got a few yards behind Ron.

"Psst!" Harry whispered.

Ron turned around and pointed his wand. He then sighed.

"I could have hit you!" he whispered.

"One enemy is down," Harry whispered, "Where is the other one?"

"Somewhere ahead of us," Ron whispered.

Harry nodded and looked around. He then saw what resembled a stick, but wasn't going to be fooled this time. He knew it was a wand.

"Cover me," he whispered to Ron.

Ron nodded and Harry walked ahead of him.

"Reducto!" Harry yelled, pointing his wand at the tree, where he saw the wand.

He saw the enemy dive to the ground to get away from the tree. The spell hit its mark, and the whole tree exploded, but Harry was only focused on his enemy. He hurried, not caring about stealth and found the enemy. His enemy saw him too and pointed his wand.

"Expelliarmus!" Harry yelled, before his enemy could say anything.

The wand flew away from the man's hand and Harry ran up to him, pointing his wand at him.

"I surrender!" the man said, raising his hands.

"Training exercise is over," a loud voice said somewhere above Harry, "Potter and Weasley are victorious."

Suddenly, the trees and grass vanished around Harry, and it was soon revealed he was standing in a large room. White floors and walls surrounded him. The only sound was applause. Harry looked up and saw a man hovering on a broomstick high above him. The man landed swiftly on the ground a few feet away from Harry.

This man's name was Rolph Shippe. He was one of the higher-ranked training officials of the Auror Division.

"Excellent session, Harry," Shippe said, "You too, Ron."

Harry looked over his shoulder and noticed Ron was walking over to him.

"Billingsly!" Shippe said, "Revive your teammate and hit the showers!"

"Yes, sir," Billingsly said, getting to his feet.

"Don't forget your wand," Shippe said.

Billingsly grumbled and walked over to his wand.

"What was that, Billingsly?" Shippe asked.

"Nothing sir," Billingsly said, his face going red, "Just congratulating Potter and Weasley."

"Apparently they couldn't hear you," Shippe said.

Billingsly cleared his throat and looked at Harry and Ron.

"Nice session," he said.

"Thanks mate," Harry said.

Billingsley nodded, picked up his wand and walked in the direction of his Stunned teammate.

"You two continue to impress me," Shippe said to Harry and Ron, "Though I have to say I did notice a few faults today."

"Faults, sir?" Harry asked.

"Too much chatting," Shippe said, "You need to improve on your sign language techniques and your non-verbal spell work. You were lucky that Billingsly and Thorpe need to improve on their accuracy."

"You're telling me!" Ron exclaimed, "I was this close from being impaled by the debris from a tree."

"Nonsense," Shippe grinned, "The trees are illusions. They would have passed right through you. "

"Illusions?! " Ron asked, "Rubbish! Our spells hit them like they were solid!"

"Part of the illusion, Weasley, "Shippe said, "While we are on the subject, how did you like the landscape?"

"It looked pretty real to me," Harry said, "But I must ask, sir. Why did you pick a grove of trees? There are very few places like that around England, right?"

"You have to be ready for every possible situation, Potter," Shippe said, "While it is true that you will be fighting in buildings and on streets most of the time, there are a few occasions where you will be fighting in places like that grove."

"Yes, sir," Harry said.

"You will be happy to know you were the first Aurors-in-Training to use this room," Shippe said. "It is a new concept that the Ministry has decided to use, and it gives Aurors a hands-on experience. You can thank the Minister of Magic for that idea. Anyway, I think you two deserve a break. Hit the showers and you can start your weekend early. Your prize for winning the training session."

"Thanks, sir," Harry and Ron said.

Harry and Ron left the room and headed for the showers.

"New concept," Ron scoffed, "Right. It's a feeble imitation of the Room of Requirement if you ask me."

Harry grinned and nodded.


"So what do you say?" Ron asked, as he and Harry reached the Atrium of the Ministry, "A late lunch at the Leaky Cauldron?"

"Sure," Harry said.

Harry and Ron apparated and arrived at the Leaky Cauldron a few moments later. They walked over to a vacant table by the window and sat down.

"I suppose I'm buying, eh?" Harry asked, "As always?"

"Hey, I am trying to save up!" Ron said.

"Good afternoon, gentleman," Tom said, walking over to their table, "What will it be?"

Over Tom's shoulder, Harry noticed the blackboard near the bar. It read: "Friday Special: Fish and Chips and your choice of pie. Two Galleons."

"I'll have the special today," he said to Tom, "And a butterbeer."

"Same for me, Tom," Ron said.

"Coming up!" Tom said.

He walked away from the table.

"So I take it you are still trying to get that flat here in London?" Harry asked Ron.

"Of course," Ron said, "Hermione and I can't live at the Burrow for the rest of our lives, no matter how much Mum likes the concept. Besides, I want to be closer to the Ministry. I swear, if I keep up my almost-daily trips of using the Floo Network, I'll never get the lingering smell of soot away from me. Plus, Hermione is going to be working in the Ministry soon, and she wants to be close to the Ministry as well."

"She still has that interview on Monday, right?" Harry asked.

"Yep," Ron said.

"What is she going for, again?" Harry asked.

"Court Scribe, I think," Ron said, then scoffed, "She could have any job she wants, and she picks Court Scribe? I keep telling her that she could do much better, especially with the results she got on her NEWTs. Did I tell you she told me that if she doesn't get hired soon, she is going to try to start up S.P.E.W again?!"

Harry laughed, though knowing Hermione Granger as well as he did, he knew she was probably very serious about it.

"Speaking of leaving the Burrow," Ron said, "Have you talked to Ginny lately?"

"She sent me a letter a couple days ago," Harry said.

"So that is where Frederique went," Ron said, "Mum was trying to find him. She wanted to send a letter to Bill and Fleur. Probably wanting to know how Victoire is doing. I swear she wants to know how Victoire is every other day. I'm surprised Bill hasn't banned our owls from Shell Cottage. Anyway, what did Ginny want?"

"She's told me she's going to have that talk with your parents this weekend," Harry said.

"Really?" Ron asked with a sigh, "Guess I will have to be cautious this weekend. I don't want to be anywhere near Ginny or my parents when that discussion is going on."

"Relax, mate," Harry said, chuckling, "It won't be that bad!"

"We are talking about the same discussion, right?" Ron asked, eyebrows raised.

"If you mean the discussion," Harry said, "where Ginny wants to tell them she wants to move in with me, then yeah."

"I don't know why she had to wait until now," Ron said.

"Quidditch training starts next month," Harry said, shrugging.

"That is what I am talking about," Ron said, nodding, "She's cutting this pretty close."

Harry nodded. He had to agree.

Ginny wanted to move in with him in order to be closer to the Holyhead Harpies' training camp, which was taking place about twenty miles north of London in a secluded location. Harry knew that Ginny couldn't afford a place near the camp and that she would have to resort to traveling. The best way to do that which would be to apparate. Ginny didn't trust apparating very far, but she had told Harry she would be fine if she lived in London. Harry knew this was probably an excuse, albeit a good one, to live with him. He was happy to invite her into his home. It was very lonely living alone in his grandparents' old house, even if he had the usual twice-a-week visits by his neighbor: a nice, elderly Muggle woman who had been friends with Harry's grandparents and father.

A moment later, Tom walked over to the table, a tray floating alongside him.

"Two Specials with Butterbeer," he said, handing Harry and Ron their plates, "Give me the heads-up when you are finished and desert will follow."

"Thanks, Tom," Harry said.

"Before I forget," Tom said, "Ron, have you spoken to George lately?"

"Not since he and Angelina got back from their honeymoon," Ron said, shaking his head, "Why?"

"Customers of mine keep wondering when his shop will re-open," Tom said.

Weasley Wizard Wheezes in Diagon Alley had been destroyed at the beginning of the year by Death Eaters. The attack had been the result of the Death Eaters trying to steal products that George had been creating. It had been reduced to rubble and had been blocked off by Ministry workers. The store in Hogsmeade, which had replaced Zonko's the previous year, was the temporary headquarters at the moment.

"Last time I heard," Ron said, "The place was close to being rebuilt."

"It's one of the greatest sources of income for Diagon Alley," Tom said, "I know a lot of people who would like to see it reopen."

"If I talk to George," Ron said, "I will pass that message on to him."

"Good," Tom said, "Enjoy your lunch, boys."

Harry and Ron smiled, and Tom walked off.

"I've been wondering, Harry," Ron said, "Have you thought about getting a new owl? You don't have any way of sending letters now unless it is a response. I'm not trying to offend the memory of Hedwig, but --"

"I know, Ron," Harry said, "Yes, I've been thinking about it. I guess I could get a new one after we get through here."

"I think it would be a good idea," Ron said, "Especially if Ginny is going to move in with you soon."

Harry nodded. After lunch, Harry and Ron went to the Owl Emporium in Diagon Alley. Harry looked around at the owls.

"Have one in mind?" Ron asked.

"I don't know," Harry said.

"What about an eagle owl?" Ron asked, "Oh, wait, that's what Malfoy has, never mind. Oh, damn! I forgot. Harry, I need to go get some more Floo Powder. We're almost out at the Burrow. I will do that now while you are getting an owl. See you back at the Leaky Cauldron."

Harry nodded. He continued to look around. A few minutes later, he saw a black and grey owl staring at him.

"How about you?" Harry said quietly to the owl.

The owl hooted.

"I see you have your eye on Ares," the clerk behind the desk said.

"Err… Ares?" Harry said, his attention still on the owl.

"He once belonged to a friend of mine," the clerk said, "My friend died during the Second War."

"Oh, I'm sorry," Harry said.

"Ares found his way here last September," the clerk said, "I knew who he was, and wondered why he had gone so far from his home. Well, a few hours later, I was told of his owner's death. Some people are afraid of Ares. They say he is unlucky. But I say it's rubbish. Ares is a wonderful owl."

"Well, if he was your friend's owl," Harry said, "I'd hate for you to lose him."

"You look like a good wizard," the clerk said, "I think my friend would have been happy to know that Ares has found a good home. He is a trustworthy owl."

"Well, if you insist," Harry said, "I think I'll take him."

The clerk smiled and Harry took the cage. He paid for Ares, then walked back to the Leaky Cauldron. He spotted Ron at the bar when he arrived.

"Nice choice, Harry," Ron said, looking at the owl, "He looks a bit -- well, scary."

Ares poked his head forward and clapped his beak.

"I think you hurt Ares' feelings," Harry said.

Ron scoffed.

"Well, I guess you probably want to take him home," he said, "I should get back to the Burrow anyway. See you Monday?"

"If not before then," Harry said.

"Oh, I almost forgot!" Ron said, "Mum wants you to come over for your birthday. I know it isn't for a couple of weeks, but she wanted me to tell you. I think she is planning a party."

"Of course she is," Harry grinned, "Tell her I will be there."

"She'll be happy to hear it," Ron said, "See you, mate!"

He walked over to the fireplace and stepped in it. A moment later, he disappeared up in flames.

"Beautiful owl, Harry," Tom said.

"Thanks, Tom," Harry said, "His name is Ares."

"After the Greek God of War," Tom said, "Interesting. Hope it isn't a sign of things to come, eh? Guess we're lucky we got Aurors like you in the wizarding world."

"Auror-in-Training," Harry corrected him.

"Of course," Tom said.

Harry magically transported Ares and his cage to the house, then apparated.


Well, this is only the start of the story. I hope you like it.

I have a couple ideas for the next few chapters, but I will need more before I continue this story much farther.

Feedback would be welcomed!