A/N: So, let's start this off with something shocking. This is not a one-shot. It's a chapter story and a long one. I fully expect this to run around twenty chapters--seven of which are completed at this moment. I can't tell you how fast this will update, but I'm posting it so that, hopefully, I will finally finish this thing. I've been staring at the current stopping point for a while now, and I need the motivation to move forward. So, what exactly is this? It's a post-Hogwarts story that is not Epilogue compliant. It's not even really DH-compliant, though I do pull some things from DH. But I play with time-lines, and essentially I create a world in which all of the characters I want to be alive are alive, and where the pairings are whatever I say they are. Oh, how I love fanfiction. Anyway, this is a story centering around Harry, Ginny, their children, and the Weasleys. I'll warn you right now that I utilize the oh-so cliche Harry-Goes-To-Azkaban plot, but there is a twist. It is, hopefully, clever enough to be worth reading. So welcome to the first chapter of Renaissance, and enjoy!
Disclaimer: Anything that you recognize belongs to that genius across the Atlantic Ocean. Anything that you don't recognize--such as Emma and JJ--belong to me, but trust me, I'm not gettin' paid.
He had a bad feeling.
It wasn't as though he had gained mystical precognitive powers during the war; rather he had achieved a mastery of looking around and noticing things that others might have missed, of putting together the pieces of the puzzle. He was no master strategist—that was Ron's area of expertise—but he had a certain sense for perceiving possible futures.
And he didn't like what he saw.
He saw fear in the eyes of the public, as if nothing had changed since the war. This time, however, the fear was not directed towards Voldemort and the incomprehensible, distant enemy, but towards the Ministry. They were growing powerful, and, as the well-known saying goes: absolute power corrupts absolutely. In the aftermath of a war that destroyed so much, trying to fit the pieces back together only created more of a mess.
The Ministry seemed to sense the seeds of rebellion amidst the masses, and they were reacting in the simplest of ways: searching for a scapegoat. If the war had taught them anything it was that when provided with a common enemy, unity under leadership suddenly became a much more viable source of comfort and control. People flocked like sheep when frightened, and the Ministry was the Shepherd pulling them along.
He had a bad feeling.
There had been rumors, slippery little shadowed whispers that fluttered from mouth to ear, and always skittered away whenever he came near. He was starting to feel paranoid, the way a person does when walking into a room filled with conversation, only to find that all conversations have ceased upon their entrance. It was paranoid nature to assume that the conversations were about him, that the rumors were about him.
But paranoia had kept him alive more than once.
There were whispers and there were looks, directed towards him; the feeling of being under suspicion, of being studied like a slide under a microscope, was familiar and entirely unwanted. It was like the days of the Chamber of Secrets, being thought of as the Heir of Slytherin and a murderer; it was like the Triwizard Tournament when most of the school had turned on him; it was like his fifth year, when his sanity and his dedication to the light was brought into question.
It was a feeling he hadn't felt in a while. He'd been the Savior, the grand War Hero, in the aftermath of Voldemort's defeat nearly ten years before; later he had become the rising Auror, combater of the darkness.
Taking a pinch of floo-powder, which he still hated but was the fastest and easiest mode of transportation from work to home, he stepped into the fire. "Griffin's Nest!" There was a familiar whirling and he shut his eyes tightly rather than seeing the swirling flames around him. In a moment he found himself being dumped out of the fireplace; he careened forwards, keeping his balance but only just barely.
"I'm home!" He called, brushing soot from himself. There was a brief silence and the scuffling sound of feet. He braced himself for the impact as a dark-haired girl came bursting in from the next room and slammed into him. He stumbled back a little and wrapped his arms around the girl. "'Ello, Emmy." He barely had time to prepare as another child, this one with flaming red hair, came dashing in, slamming into him in the same place that Emmy had just vacated.
He ruffled the boy's hair. "Hey JJ."
"Nice work, you little fiends." A woman said, entering the room. She grinned at him. "Are you bruised yet, hon?"
"Just a little banged up. At least I stayed on my feet this time." He said, crossing the room and kissing her on the cheek.
The children booed.
Grinning he spun around. "All right, you two." He said, advancing on them, his face mock-serious. They exchanged looks, their eyes sparkling, and then backed away, drawing closer together. "You are in so much trouble." He growled. JJ clapped his hands over his mouth to muffle a giggle. Their backs hit the wall and he bore down upon them, leaping forwards and tickling them mercilessly.
Giggles erupted and they squirmed. "Daddy!"
He focused on JJ and Emmy jumped on his back, her small fingers prodding for the ticklish spots on his side. He looked over his shoulder. "Ginny! I need reinforcements!"
The red-haired woman grinned and leaned against the wall. "I think you're doing well enough on your own there, Harry." The two children giggled again and completely turned the tables on him, tickling him as mercilessly as he had tickled them. He curled into a fetal position for a moment and then uncurled, grabbing JJ with one arm and Emmy with the other, immobilizing them.
"Fiends, both of you!"
"I've been saying that since they were born." Ginny said, moving from the wall.
"Like mother, like daughter." He said, nodding his head to Emmy. "She gets it from you."
"Like father, like son." She taunted back, pointing to JJ. "That imp is just as troublesome as you ever were!"
He made his eyes wide and schooled his expression to one of innocence. "Me? Troublesome? Never!"
Ginny propped her hands on her hips. "You keep telling yourself that, Harry James Potter."
He released the children, who ran from the room, most likely to cause some form of mayhem. He moved to stand next to his wife, wrapping his arms around her. She grinned and laid her head on his chest. Now that there weren't any romance-opposed observers he took the opportunity to give her a real 'hello'.
From the next room there was a crash and the sound of fleeing feet.
Breaking off the kiss the two broke into laughter. "This is what happens when you have two monsters running around."
He grinned. "But they're our monsters."
She poked him in the chest. "They're yours. They've been mine since I got home. It's your turn."
Shoving his hands into his pockets he strolled out of the room. "Oy! Fiends! What'd you break and which one of you did it?" He yelled.
"It was Emmy!"
"JJ did it!" Came the simultaneous replies. He grinned. Here, in the safety of his home, with his family, the world seemed a little brighter, and the bad feelings and suspicions seemed to slip away.
Am I off to a good start? That little blue/purple button is just calling your name!