Disclaimer: Still don't own Harry Potter
Breakfast at the Grangers was an unusually happy affair, for normal Hermione had to be practically dragged out of bed and Dan didn't speak a word until well into his second cup of coffee. Today the kids were looking forward to their lesson on magic, followed by an afternoon of learning to ride so were understandably happy and excited.
Dan was actually trying to whistle what sounded like 'you were always on my mind' but it was hard to tell, the expansive grin that appeared permanently plastered on his face didn't particularly lend itself to tuneful whistling.
Emma was almost blushing every time Dan caught her eye so it was with some relief that they said cheerio to the kids as Hedwig flamed them over to the manor. Dan's arms immediately snaked around his wife as he started to kiss her neck, "You keep that up and we might not see work today," she moaned.
"Would that be such a bad thing?" he asked between kisses. "What's the point of being the boss if we can't bunk off for a day."
The idea was starting to sound more attractive to Emma the more Dan kissed her, she had to be strong. "You've never bunked off a day in your life!"
"True," he answered, "But I think the kids must be starting to affect us because I just don't want to let you out of my sight."
Emma giggled like a giddy schoolgirl, "Dan, we work in the same practice, I won't be out of your sight all day."
"Well we're giving our staff an extended lunch break and locking the doors. Tonight I plan on taking my beautiful wife out to dinner, followed by dancing and then to bed where you can make as much noise as you like since the house will be empty."
This declaration was followed by a lung-searing kiss that left both of them breathless as they reluctantly made their way out to the car, Emma wasn't sure if Dan was joking about lunchtime but suspected not, she would send the two girls off to lunch herself if it came to that.
Dumbledore's mood couldn't have provided a sharper contrast to that of the Granger household, he couldn't risk Harry having competent people around him and becoming Lord Potter at eleven. He needed to get control of the boy but, before he could even attempt that, he needed to find him first.
His plans for Harry to meet his tragic end in first year were all in place, he needed to be the boy's guardian by then or he wouldn't inherit the Potter fortune. All he needed to do was circumvent Black, his cousin Andromeda, Minerva and Amelia Bones in the next two years, shouldn't be too hard for a wizard of his potential.
The goblin's not speaking to him closed that avenue of approach, leaving the old wizard with only one road left to take. Xeno Lovegood was an experienced reporter though and to approach him directly might set of his alarm bells before Albus could get any information. If Xeno had acquired a scoop of that magnitude Albus reckoned his wife would have heard all about it, remembering that she worked from home, Dumbledore thought it was perhaps time to pay Maia Lovegood a little visit at that abomination they called a house.
Lucius felt unsettled, that was a very close call he'd had with Barty Crouch Jr. yesterday, and he was certain Longbottom and Bones would be trying to engineer any opportunity to question him under truth serum. As he well knew, Fudge could easily be manipulated and those two witches could have Cornelius signing his arrest warrant without the fool even realising it.
Getting his hands on Potter would secure his future, the imperious or one of Snape's more illegal potions would keep the brat toeing the line. A visit to the Quibbler was called for, Lucius was used to getting what he wanted and the only question was just how far he would be forced to go. The first phase was offering influence and gold for the information, moving swiftly to veiled threats straight into downright intimidation. After that it was time to draw his wand and get creative, this method had never failed him yet and he was confident it would stand him in good stead again today.
Xeno Lovegood was about to discover why Lucius was the Dark Lord's right hand man.
Maia had a warm glow of contentment as she prepared her lab for today's experiment; Xeno had been even more amorous than usual as they enjoyed having the house to themselves for the first time in many years. With the kids staying here tonight Maia was starting to think that these arrangements would work better than they thought possible, with the children clearly enjoying their new lives as well.
Her good mood evaporated when a voice shouted, 'anyone home?' Maia was left contemplating how this person had by-passed their wards and how she was going to get her hands on her wand. She was shocked when Albus Dumbledore came down the stairs into her lab, "Ah Maia, how good to see you again. Horace would be so pleased to see one of his favourite pupils using her skills to advance the art of potions."
It suddenly became clear to Maia why the old wizard was here so she used the excuse of her task not to look Dumbledore in the eye, "Good morning professor, please excuse me but I can't leave this at the moment. What brings you all the way down here?"
"Oh I was hoping to catch Xeno before he headed for the office, that was quite the story he published."
She was now certain he was looking for Harry, "Yes he was so excited one of his reporters got lucky, but you know Xeno, he's so protective of his staff and sources he probably doesn't tell himself half the things he knows."
Dumbledore laughed as he tried to figure out whether she was deliberately avoiding eye contact or just dedicated to her task, "Where is young Luna? It won't be too long before we'll be seeing her at Hogwarts, I would lay odds she'll be a Ravenclaw like her parents."
"She stayed at a friend's last night, the girls seemed so happy playing together that we allowed her to stay over. She's got three more years to wait for the Hogwarts Express, the disadvantage of being born in the Autumn."
Albus was convinced she was avoiding his direct gaze and therefore had something to hide, her comment about Xeno playing things close to his chest just might be true though. He didn't want to show his hand without being guaranteed the information he was looking for. There was more than one way to get information though, Xeno was devoted to Maia and if something should happen to her, Albus offering comfort should be able to get anything he wanted from the distraught wizard.
"Yes I sometimes think the September first cut-off date is a bit harsh to those born just after it but there has to be a date and that one has stood the test of time for centuries. You are obviously very busy and don't need the ramblings of a doddering old wizard disturbing your work. I shall leave you in peace to continue and look up Xeno later today."
As Dumbledore left, Maia couldn't shake the deep feeling of apprehension that gripped her, the old wizard left much too easy for her liking. She began to carefully examine her lab and was horrified at what she discovered, the cooling charm on some of her most dangerous ingredients had been replaced with a heating charm. As the Erumpent fluid began to bubble Maia's knowledge told her it was too late, her body though was moving, diving behind the heavy lab bench as the jar exploded with the contents bursting into flames. As more and more of her stored ingredients were exploding or burning Maia just had time to give thanks that Luna wasn't in the house, the chain reaction soon went critical and escaped the containment of the lab.
Outside Albus was hidden awaiting the results of his meddling; he had stopped trying to justify his actions as being for 'the greater good', the only good he wanted at the moment was access to Potter. If a young witch had to die in a tragic accident for Albus to acquire the information he needed then he wasn't going to lose any sleep over the matter.
The results were beyond anything Albus could have envisioned; an explosion ripped through the lab's containment field and blasted the living area into smithereens. The resulting fire finished the job of leaving the two remaining Lovegoods homeless; perhaps he could offer them sanctuary. It was this thought that sparked Dumbledore's next idea, he needed people to think Britain was still a dangerous place with only Albus Dumbledore being able to stand against the darkness. This was just too good an opportunity to miss as Albus cast the terrifying mark that hadn't been seen for nearly seven years above the wreckage of what was no longer a family's home.
Prudence dictated he make a hasty exit so Albus apparated back to Hogwarts.
Xeno was wondering how Malfoy got into his office, he was not someone that the Quibbler's owner would have chosen to meet.
"Mr Lovegood I can't thank you enough for that wonderful story confirming our saviour is still alive, my family and I were so relieved by the news the child was safe. I can't help but wonder though if the advice he's receiving will properly prepare him for taking his rightful place in wizarding society. I personally feel the child would be better brought into the pureblood fold, the person responsible for assisting with this feat would undoubtedly find themselves suitably rewarded."
Xeno decided to nip this conversation in the bud, he didn't like the direction it was taking, "Lord Black, Madam Bones, Mrs Tonks and Professor McGonagall are all eminently capable of ensuring the lad knows his place in our society. They also have the advantage of having been named by his parents as people they trusted to be involved in the raising of their child. All have been in contact with me, stating their willingness to play any part in the boy's life but agreed the final decision is Harry Potter's."
Lucius was not used to being interrupted, far less so rudely put in his place. In pureblood society Lovegoods words, while polite, were the equivalent of being told to piss off and mind your own business. "I see you had a busy day yesterday Mr Lovegood, it must be difficult having been thrown into the spotlight like this. You must have safety concerns over your wife and young daughter, especially with Dumbledore alluding to the return of the dark lord; it would be a tragedy if the madness started again with the boy as the main target. I can't help but feel the child would be safer behind the ancient wards of a prominent pureblood family home."
The conversation was beginning to turn nasty but, at the moment, Xeno was more concerned with holding his temper and not giving information away involuntary, "My wife is more than capable of holding her own while Luna is protected like you wouldn't believe. If the madness should start again my family would once more be at the forefront of the light side, I hope to see you there." Xeno deliberately left the last bit vague, he was positive there was more chance of him facing Malfoy than fighting along side him. The mental image of Hedwig ripping the face of anyone trying to harm his Luna put a rye smile on the editor's face.
Lucius was struggling to understand this situation, the man just point-blank refused to be intimidated. Perhaps it was because he wasn't wearing his death eater robes and mask, this procedure had never failed before. When he saw the smile on Xeno's face Malfoy lost it, pulled his wand from his cane and fired off an imperious curse at the grinning buffoon.
Xeno was a long time practitioner of Occlumency and the instant the curse hit he heard Maia's voice telling him to fight it, he threw it off mere seconds later, much to the horror of a now shocked Lucius Malfoy. The ward system in Xeno's office was custom built and tailored to his specific requirements, the use of an unforgivable curse set off alarms throughout the building.
"It's over Malfoy, the aurors will be here very shortly so I would suggest you lay down that wand and accept your punishment like a man."
With a reasonable person this request might have worked, with Malfoy there wasn't a hope in hell of him laying down his wand. Lucius heard the alarm, though to him it was his death knell, with only truth serum and a Dementors kiss waiting for him if he lowered his wand. The panicked death eater fired the killing curse at the editor and fled the office.
Xeno had a surprised expression on his face as the green beam hit him from a distance of about a meter, his dead body slumped to the office floor.
The alarm was heard by the two aurors that Amelia had stationed covertly outside the Quibbler office, they didn't know what it meant but figured it bore investigation. They had just entered the building when Lucius burst out the office as if being chased by an angry dragon, "Stop! Ministry Aurors!"
The auror's call was met by a barrage of curses as the now fleeing figure made off in the direction of the print room, trying to escape the building's wards so he could apparate home. The two aurors were hot on his heels though as they traded curses back and forth. Dodging between the heavy printing presses in a deadly game of hide and seek, Lucius spotted an exit door though his way would soon be blocked by the advancing aurors.
Making up his mind he sprinted for the door only to be clipped by an auror stunner. This had the effect of spinning the wizard round and throwing him against the press, of all the things that Lucius considered could lead to his downfall, vanity wouldn't have been high on his list. There was no time to contemplate this development though as his long blond hair became entangled in the rapidly moving mechanical mechanism, quickly pulling the rest of him in.
Lucius Malfoy was usually delighted when his face made the front cover of a publication but this was extreme, even for him. The powerful press had crushed his head like an egg, plastering his face all over page one with the headline 'Harry Potter Lives!' poetically stamped on the deceased death eater's forehead.
Health & Safety regulations had yet to reach the wizarding world so with no safety guards or automatic cut-off switches it wasn't until the aurors had finished unloading their breakfasts that the press was finally turned off. Thankfully the wizarding world did have silencing charms and the one permanently placed on the press had at least spared both aurors the soundtrack that would have accompanied the horrific sight before them.
Dan and Emma's flirting had continued unabated in the car as they drove along their familiar route to work, so much so that Dan was seriously considering pulling in to the nearest hotel and spending the day making love to his beautiful wife. These pleasant deliberations were at the forefront of his mind as he drove round a bend to find his windscreen full of truck.
Chelsea was furious, her daddy had paid a fortune for this truck. It had alloy wheels, steel bull bars and enough lights for her to hold her own disco but the shitty cassette player had just chewed her new George Michael tape. The eighteen year old was so focused on trying to remove her latest favourite cassette from the malfunctioning machine that she never even saw the fast approaching bend, far less the Granger's car. She was doing nearly fifty miles per hour when she ploughed headlong into them.
Steel bull bars were designed to protect the occupants of the vehicle when they collided with a kangaroo in the Australian outback, since there were relatively few kangaroos bouncing about the British countryside they had become nothing more than a lethal fashion accessory. The British police force were currently lobbying for legislation that would ban these from their roads as, in crashes involving steel bull bars, the serious injury and fatality figures increased by a factor of ten.
The Granger's once gleaming car was reduced to a pile of scrap metal with Dan dying instantly, Emma would join her husband by the time they had cut her out the car and got her to a hospital.
The children were all happily chatting to the Potters and Cas about their adventures at the Grangers, Harry brought up the subject that had been on his mind since last night. "Granddad, do you know a wizard called Sirius Black?"
Jonathan nodded, "He was your father's best friend and your godfather…"
Luna's tortured scream shattered the morning and demanded everyone's attention as she began pleading with Hedwig, "My mum girl, get my mum, please hurry"
Hedwig was gone but returned seconds later with a shaking Maia Lovegood, she soon found herself entangled by her distraught daughter. "Mum oh mum, that blond man just killed daddy with a green light and I couldn't do anything about it. I'm sorry mum, I'm so sorry." Luna was sobbing uncontrollably before screaming again and once more calling for Hedwig, "The Grangers girl, help the Grangers." The little girl fainted before Hedwig returned with a bleeding and barely breathing Emma, one glance at her mother caused Hermione's eyes to roll in her head as she joined Luna by fainting.
Harry had managed to catch Luna and lower her gently to the floor just it time to catch Hermione, he used Wingardium Leviosa to place the girls one at a time on the couch. Martha was watching Cas, Maia and Hedwig working on Emma but Jonathon had witnessed the feat of magic his grandson had performed, his power and control was awesome for a nine year old.
Maia was sure her time was up as the lab burned, one second she was glad Luna wasn't there and the next she was in her arms, Hedwig's appearance couldn't have been cut any finer. She was understandably elated to escape certain death but then felt her inside's crumble at the news her husband had been murdered, Luna was never wrong and her daughter had no idea the killing curse was green.
Even Luna screaming and fainting drew no reaction from the witch, it took the sight of her new friend lying seriously injured on the floor to pull her out of her grief stricken stupor. She had to put her husband to the back of her mind for now and try not to think of why Hedwig hadn't returned with Dan as well.
Emma was in a bad way, her face looked horrific but Maia's scans showed that was mostly superficial, it was her chest area that had her worried as her ribs were cracked and broken with internal injuries being detected as well. Her legs were a mess, both had shattered bones that were beyond her skill to repair, she hadn't realised she'd been talking out loud until Martha answered her. "With her legs that badly damaged perhaps it would be better to vanish the bones, repair the flesh and then use skele-gro to re-grow them.
Cas had conjured a low bed for Emma while Hedwig's tears were healing her chest, the elf opened Emma's mouth and Hedwig cried tears directly into it. Maia thought Martha's suggestion of vanishing the bones was a good one so cast the spell and began healing the wounds where bone had actually pierced through the skin. She saw Cas administering a blood replenishing potion and start to remove the bits of glass from Emma's face and head.
Turning round she spied Harry with an arm around each girl but his body was shaking and Maia heard him say "My fault, all my fault. He promised terrible things would happen if I told. "
Maia placed her hands either side of Harry's face to make sure she had his attention, "Listen to me Harry, there may be blame for today but none of it belongs to you. The man who told you that is dead and can't harm you any more. Xeno could have given that story to someone else but he was a reporter and you gave him the biggest story of his life, without Hedwig I wouldn't be here, without you Luna would have been in the house with me. Does Hedwig know what happened to the Grangers?"
"She says their car was hit by another and that Dan is dead."
"I though that when she didn't bring him here but think Harry, without that wonderful phoenix so would Emma be, without you Hermione would have been in the car as well. You didn't cause this Harry, you and Hedwig saved us all."
Harry could see what Maia was saying but didn't feel it was entirely true, "Luna saved everyone, she's such a special girl, so is Hermione."
Maia tried to smile but couldn't quite pull it off, "You're special too Harry, the girls are going to need you even more now." Harry held them both tighter as Maia brought them round.
Hermione tried to dive over to her mother but Harry held her tight, "Let Cas and Hedwig finish working on her then we'll all go over, she's going to be ok." Harry was trying to be reassuring but it came out more like a question for Maia.
"Emma's going to be ok, she's going to have to take a potion to re-grow the bones in her legs but she'll be good as new after that."
Hermione knew the answer but had to ask, "And my Dad?"
Harry held her tight as he answered, "Hedwig says it was a car crash and Dan didn't have a chance."
He now had two sobbing girls in his arms as they tried to take comfort from each other, there was nothing for Harry to do except hold them close and let them cry. Luna's speech was punctuated by sobs, "Mum our house and everything we own is gone. There is some kind of black mark floating above it. I saw the flames and sent Hedwig to you as soon as I could but didn't get any warning with dad or your parents Hermione. I'm so sorry."
The three children were all now fiercely holding on to one another, "Luna you saved my mum, there's nothing to be sorry for, thank you, thank you…"
Hermione was interrupted by Harry, "Luna you're saying here with your mum, we can go shopping for everything that we need when Auntie Em is better."
They heard Emma croak, "Hermione?" and a herd of wild horses couldn't have held Hermione back from seeing her mum.
Hermione dived over to her mum but then stood back, she really wanted to hold her tight but was afraid she would hurt her, Cas helped Hermione out, "Just hold her hand for now Hermione, her injuries are still healing and we're waiting on Ziggy returning with some potions."
Hermione sat crying while holding her mum's hand as Maia explained what had happened to both their husbands, she felt a painful jolt in her chest and looked round to see Harry sitting on the sofa by himself. Both girls had felt it and went to grab him, brining the now crying boy into the group. Emma reached for his hand, "Harry in times of trouble family cling to one another for support, we're all family here son and we will get through this. Maia tells me I have to re-grow all the bones in my legs and I can't take anything for the pain as it might affect the potion, can you look after the girls for us?" Harry couldn't talk, only nod.
Maia spoke to Luna and Hermione, "You have to look after Harry, none of this is your fault. Be there for each other, be strong for each other, we will get through this as a family."
Ziggy had returned with the potions so Maia and Emma got three sets of hugs and kisses before the kids headed off to what was once Harry's room but was now theirs.
Both women were now openly weeping as the children had left and their grief surfaced, Cas made Emma as comfortable as she could as Maia administered the skele-gro. Maia then sat by her friend as they held hands and cried for their departed husbands.
Cas was seething inside, this was not an emotion that was becoming to a house elf but she didn't give a shit! Someone had attacked her family and she refused to stand idly by while it happened again. The pain of loosing Miss Lily had never truly left but seeing her son had given her life new purpose, Cas would break any traditions or laws to ensure the boy and his bonded survived.
The boy and his bonded were currently sitting in a circle with hands joined on their massive bed, all had tears streaming down their faces.
"I'm so sorry girls, I know it's my fault that your fathers are gone and I'll understand if we can no longer be friends."
Luna answered first, "Harry my father had a very dangerous job, saying something about the wrong somebody can get you killed in our world. Dad always believed in telling the truth and he was so happy he could let everyone know you were still alive. My gift is getting stronger but I had no way of seeing this, our parents and your grandparents didn't see this coming either so I'm sorry but you are not to blame for any of this."
Hermione went next, "Harry my dad drove that road twice a day for years and would still have been on it whether I had met you or not. The difference would have been that my mum would be dead also, and perhaps me as well, I have nothing to blame you for Harry, only thanks for what I have."
Luna couldn't even look at Harry as she asked, "We sat on this very bed and promised to be best friends forever, did you mean that promise Harry? I don't think I could handle losing you as well."
"Of course I did Luna," he leaned forward to give her a reassuring kiss on the cheek, just as Luna turned to face him and their lips met. As kisses go it was no more than a peck but both could feel the change instantly, the pain in Harry's chest lessened considerably to be replaced by a nice warm glow. As the kiss ended Harry looked directly into Luna's eyes and reaffirmed his promise, "Forever Luna." Her reply of "Forever Harry," started quite a light show.
He turned to Hermione and his raised eyebrow asked the question, her immediate small nod of acceptance saw Harry lean in for his first kiss that wasn't accidental. It may have lasted a few seconds longer but that was due to the revelation that kissing someone you liked wasn't bad at all, Harry's pain left him to be replaced by a feeling of peace and contentment that he'd never known before. Both reaffirmed their commitment and the resulting light show from the trio verged on the spectacular. Even though it was barely lunchtime, the still tearful trio lay down and were soon asleep. Both Mrs Potters held on tightly to their new husband as a sobbing elf stood unseen in the corner, it was time for Cas to get some answers.
Cas appeared at the crash scene in her human disguise, dressed in a business suit and clutching a briefcase, it was time to put all those lonely night's watching telly and Mistress Lily's training to use.
The emergency services were there in numbers and Dan's body had already been removed from the wreckage of what was once a very nice car. Fear gripped Cas's heart at this sight because, had Hermione also been in the car her life would have hung on what side she chose to sit on. Behind her father she would undoubtedly been killed with at least serious injuries being inflicted had she chosen the other seat. The thought of one of her family not only badly injured but orphaned just made Cas all the more determine to discover just what had happened.
It took less than two minutes for the facts to fall into place, she had intended introducing herself as a lawyer representing the Granger family and had conjured paperwork in her briefcase to support her identity but listening to the other driver speak was all the information Cas needed. Her use of 'Daddy' at least twice in every sentence was a common occurrence in the wizarding world where pampered princesses and princes had for decades been getting away with murder because of who their father was. This particular father had placed his daughter in what amounted to an armoured car, with no concern that anything she hit would probably die, only his daughter's life counted.
This appeared to be purely an accident so Cas disappeared to the Quibbler building, as herself but invisible to all but other elves. The name 'Lucius Malfoy' was on everyone's lips, apparently he'd murdered Xeno and then been chased by aurors before being mangled by a machine. He obviously attempted to get information on Harry out of Xeno, it was also obvious he failed and had paid the ultimate price for it. Perhaps letting the world know her young master was still alive was not such a good idea after all.
The Lovegood home was no longer there, a pile of ashes was all that remained of the strange house. A family of red-heads were there, with the little girl laying a bouquet of flowers beside the site before running back to be comforted by her mother. It suddenly hit Cas that people thought Maia and Luna were dead, there would be serious discussions this time before alerting anyone to their status. The potion ingredients must have fuelled the fire to cause this amount of destruction, Maia hadn't said yet what happened but the dark mark made her one of the few to escape the death eaters. There was nothing to learn and certainly nothing salvageable here, Cas had one last stop before returning to her family.
Amelia and Augusta were two scary witches at the best of times, this was not the best of times so people were staying well clear of the two most powerful women in wizarding Britain. Their carefully laid plan was now up in smoke as the wizard who they wanted to question no longer had the information in his head, he no longer had anything in his head as the printing press had splattered the contents all over the room. Dumbledore was already making noises, signalling he was willing to return to the Wizengamot in their hour of need, she had already informed the Prophet that their 'hour of need' was brought about by the previous administration not doing their job properly in the first place. Pettigrew's capture and testimony, combined with Malfoy being caught in the act was hopefully going to give them the impetus to have some old cases re-opened. The scale of the 'mistakes' alone warranted re-trials and both would be leaning on Fudge to give his backing. With both Malfoy and Dumbledore out the picture, and two death eater attacks in the same day, there was a fair chance of success.
They also planned to claw at least half the Malfoy fortune to be given to the Lovegood descendants for the murder of Xeno and organising the attack on their home. The goblins would know the next in line but it was more important to deny Voldemort resources should he return.
Amelia had also learned from her contacts that Dumbledore was going to be losing his position of Supreme Mugwump when the ICW met tonight, unfortunately recent events would probably see him hold onto Hogwarts headmaster, with the death eater threat now a reality, board members would prefer him there for their children's safety.
They were about to head out for Pettigrew's trial when a piece of parchment appeared on Amelia's desk.
This morning I was paid a short visit by Albus Dumbledore, as he left I discovered that some of the safety charms on my ingredients had been reversed. I have no proof he carried this out and was exceedingly fortunate to escape with my life, for the safety of my daughter we think its best that this information remains between us for the moment. Luna's safety is also uppermost in my mind when we decided to remain hidden and let everyone think we are dead, had we made the same decision with Harry I would probably still have my husband and home. I would ask you to honour this decision as it was not taken lightly, my family is all I have left and I would do anything to protect them.
Augusta could understand the mother's point, they had no proof Dumbledore carried out the deed and he must have cast the dark mark himself to create panic and sow confusion. She would quite happily roast the old bastard on a spit over an open fire but even she had to admit the old bugger had style.
They would proceed with their plan, with the compensation now going quietly to Luna. Dumbledore would be left with only Hogwarts as his power base, with that situation closely monitored. They would root out these death eaters in their society, even if they had to get rid of Fudge to achieve it.
Sirius Black sat in the Three Broomsticks with a bottle of Firewhisky on the table in front of him, even the news that the rat was sentenced to the kiss couldn't brighten his mood. His only contact with Harry was well and truly gone and the young lad would understandably be suspicious of trusting anyone after this mornings events. The goblins too were shocked, his welcome there was nowhere near as cordial as it had been before, until this mess was sorted everyone was a suspect.
The years had not dimmed the pain when hearing of a mother and child being murdered by death eaters, that this was one of his godson's best friends would mean Harry would be devastated, Sirius only wished there was some way he could help.
"Is this a private party or can anyone join in?" the female voice asked.
Sirius looked at a vaguely familiar female before replying, "Sorry Miss, I'm probably not the best of company at the moment, you would be better speaking to someone else."
The woman sat across from him and leaned in so her voice wouldn't carry too far, "That's not what you said the last time we spoke Sirius, you spent nearly fifteen minutes giving me reasons why I should go out with you. If my memory serves me well it was only Mistress Lily threatening to castrate you that changed your mind, that and my true identity. I also seem to recall you offering Master James your motorbike if he didn't tell the other marauders what had happened."
The memory of the most embarrassing night of his life shot to the front of his mind. Sirius was using all his best lines on the pretty girl but getting nowhere before Lily entered and went mental. It wasn't till the girl showed her true appearance and James was literally on the floor, laughing his arse off that he, Sirius Black, discovered he'd just spent the last quarter of an hour chatting up a house elf.
"Oh this is great news, Harry's with you?"
She nodded again.
"I have to see him Cas, I'm begging here. Please let me see my godson."
"Maia was in the house herself and managed to escape but both his bonded lost their fathers today. Our family has two beautiful but vulnerable women and three children whose lives just seem to be made up of one shock after the other. I will not let 'Black the tomcat' or 'Sirius the marauder' into their lives. Mistress Lily knew there was a caring and loving man inside you trying to get out, which is why she allowed you to be Harry's godfather. My family could use that man to help them get through this, I need Harry's permission to bring you to the Manor but I will contact you tomorrow no matter what."
Relief flooded through Sirius as he thanked the 'woman' in front of him, "Thank you Cas, I promise I won't let you or Harry down."
The look that Cas gave him back would have cracked granite, "Sirius you have to understand something, my love for my master and his bonded has changed me. Anyone hurting them is going to find themselves in a lot of pain. You know as a house elf I should not be able to do this but my master will be protected at all costs. Mistress Lily's child and his bonded will live to see their grandchildren if I have anything to do with it, let this be a warning of how much they means to me." Cas stood abruptly and shouted at Sirius, "How dare you sir, what kind of a girl do you think I am?" Her hand shot out and smacked Sirius with a force that made Minerva's slap of Albus appear like a love tap.
Sirius ended up on the floor, sitting on his arse, having been knocked right out of his chair. He rubbed his face as Cas made her way out the pub to much cheering and jeering but inside Sirius was smiling, if the pain in his jaw was any reflection on how much she loved his godson, then Harry was in very good hands. He'd tried to speak to James about the way Lily treated Cas, more like family than a servant, but he could now admit he was wrong. Sirius could see it in her eyes, Cas would kill to protect Harry and that was all right in his book. She repeatedly said Harry's bond mates indicting that his godson had bonded with two girls at age nine, this was something Sirius had to see. He swore a silent oath he would be the best wizard he could be because Harry deserved nothing but the best.
Fate had her book open at the page marked Luna Lovegood as the changes took place, her old life had Luna's mother dying and the child being raised by her father. Xeno's grief left him even less prepared to raise a daughter than Maia feared. He flung himself into work with his stories getting stranger by the issue while his daughter grew up lonely and confused. Hogwarts was a nightmare for the girl, considered strange and ridiculed for every little thing, it would be her fourth year before she met Harry and made any real friends. Her father's betrayal of Harry ended Luna's relationship with the man who later hanged himself, realizing he'd now lost the two most important things in the world to him.
Luna was now Mrs Potter and would grow up loved and cared for, her gift would be accepted by her bond mates as a wonderful thing, allowing her to blossom into the spectacular witch she would become.
The unexpected death of the Dursley boy allowed Fate some leeway and she'd used it to the max, Luna's gift and Hedwig's abilities had allowed Maia to be saved and play a major part in their upbringing.
Luna had lost ten years with her father but gained a husband and loving family, this may seem cruel but her father died at the height of his professional career and with the knowledge his wife and daughter loved him very much. His sacrifice ensured his daughter's future and Fate counted that as balanced, preferring to place Maia's miracle escape against another account.
The page headed Hermione Granger was also similar, she went through school friendless and only Harry saving her life changed that fact. Both were too emotionally stunted to see what was right in front of them and did nothing about it.
The magical world took over more and more of her life, letters home dropped to once a month and family holidays were abandoned to stay with her friends. When her parents were killed in an identical car accident in Australia they didn't even know they had a daughter, she'd wiped their memory to keep them safe. When Hermione went back to collect them and restore their memories, she broke down in the graveyard, finally realising what magic had cost her.
Hermione lost her drive to meet her potential, settling instead for marriage of convenience to a mediocre wizard and raising a few children, she would become a shadow of her former self, such was the fate of the smartest witch since Rowena Ravenclaw.
This time she would lose almost nine years with her father but be married to the man she truly loved. The man who, along with Luna would push and encourage her to realise that massive potential as a witch and mother. Again Dan's sacrifice ensured the two girls he loved futures, so Fate marked it balanced.
The miracle of Emma's escape and recovery would again be marked against another account, Fate was about to turn the page when Emma's name glowed. It would appear the healing tears of the phoenix had also healed her reproductive system, their recent bouts of lovemaking would indeed produce the offspring they had both wished for. Fate could only shake her head, she was aware that she was pushing the benefits to the max but how did this one sneak past her. Perhaps she was the first to realise that nothing could be discounted when dealing with the three Potters.
Turning the page to Harry Potter actually made her angry, it was enough of a burden having a prophesy hanging over your head without some old coot interfering.
He'd lost his parents and then spent over seven yeas in hell, he'd now lost the uncle, nephew and his aunt would die within the year, having lost the will to live.
Here she was able to add Hedwig, Maia, Emma and still didn't think it evened out. With Luna and Hermione at his side he now had a chance of, not only fulfilling the prophecy but also effecting change that would prevent the succession of a new dark lord for centuries to come.
Fate considered her tinkering a success, two good men had to lose years from their lifespan but both daughters would prosper and their wives lifespan's extended to include become grandmothers many times over, faced with the alternative Fate believed both Dan and Xeno would have agreed to that deal. She, on the other hand was dealing with the fate of the world here, Dumbledore, like Riddle was a minor annoyance and would be dealt with when the time was right. These three children would grow to become the greatest leaders of the light since Merlin himself and start a dynasty that would prosper for millennia. Fate intended to sit back with some popcorn and enjoy the show.
Peter White sat reading the article that had just claimed tomorrow's front page, Rita was going from strength to strength with her reporting.
Would You Return to This?
It was only Sunday when the Quibbler broke the most important story since Halloween 1981, the Boy Who Lived was Alive!
Like everyone else I celebrated the fall of the dark wizard but I think I celebrated more with the news our saviour was still amongst us. This apparently was not a view shared by everyone.
The evidence for that statement is that Monday morning saw Xeno Lovegood, the Quibbler's owner and editor murdered by death eater Lucius Malfoy in the newspaper's own office.
The fact that death eaters live amongst us, posing as respected members of our community, was further confirmed by the recently captured Peter Pettigrew. Under the influence of truth serum he admitted all his crimes but also revealed that Lucius Malfoy was he-who-must-not-be-named's chief lieutenant. Malfoy was also responsible for recruiting Peter to the death eater ranks, a feat that led directly to the Potter's murder.
At the same time as Xeno was losing his life, the Lovegood residence was burned to the ground with the dark mark making a re-appearance for the first time since Harry vanquished its creator. Maia Lovegood was a potions mistress who worked from home and it is suspected that both she and her eight-year-old daughter Luna were present when their home burned to the ground. The fire was so intense not even evidence survived the inferno.
In his interview Harry alluded to having two best friends and speculation is rife that one of them was young Luna, if that is the case then I fear we may never see our saviour again. Which brings me back to the title of my story, if this was your life and, in addition to all that has gone before, death eaters had just murdered your best friend, would you return to a world in such a state as ours?
Death eaters claim they represent blood purity but have just murdered a family of pure bloods.
There is already a movement to return Dumbledore to the Wizengamot but he's had his chance, we've just tried two supposed deceased death eaters that escaped punishment on his watch, one of them was even awarded the Order of Merlin!
Its time to reopen all the old 'I was under the Imperius curse' cases and try the people involved using truth serum, like it should have been done in the first place. People who were under this curse have nothing to fear as our laws rightly gives protection to those used by this vile unforgivable. Let's remove any shadow of doubt from the fine, upstanding victims of this curse and clear their names once and for all.
I fear only by setting our world in order will we ever see our saviour again but this reporter is not for giving up, I refuse to let mask wearing cowards frighten me or prevent my reporting from stating the truth. I publicly offer to met with Harry at the venue / time of his choice and give my magical oath I will die rather than betray his trust.
Harry Potter rid us of the dark lord but we couldn't even deal with his minions, for the continued security of our world this has to change. I for one am ready to do my part, are you?
A/N Thanks for reading
From the very first paragraph it was always my intention to end the story here, as a Pre-Hogwarts tale. I'm considering writing their school years as a FG - part 2, though I need to get the storyline in my head before beginning.
Note: Steel Bull Bars were eventually made illegal in the UK due to the high number of casualties and fatalities they produced when involved in accidents.
UPDATE: FG2 - The Trio Hit Hogwarts now posted