Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter as evident by the fact I do not randomly kill off characters who the readers love. I used direct verbiage from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix in this chapter. It was written by JK Rowling.


Chapter 48

July 24th 1995 Continued

"Sirius, Bill," Molly Weasley sighed in exasperation when the portrait of Walburga Black started up again at the yell Hermione had let out upon seeing the elf heads. "Do something about her please."

"I need to go," Emmeline Vance said, "so I'll be glad to help as well. Molly, as always it was a wonderful breakfast."

"Thank you," Molly replied as she started clearing away the dishes from the table. As she came to Ron's place she saw how much food was still on the plate. She turned to the twins. "Will one of you go and ask Ron if he plans to finish his breakfast?"

"We can answer that question without going anywhere mum," Fred replied.

"His answer is YES!" George added.

"Just go and ask," Molly retorted.

"If you insist," Fred said and both twins arose from their chairs, spun and disappeared with a crack.

"I wish they'd stop doing that," Molly complained.

"Boys will be boys Molly," Arthur said as he folded his newspaper and laid it down next to his plate. "Percy did the same thing remember."

"I know, it's just..." Molly sat down heavily next to her husband, "all that talk about a joke shop...I just wished they'd get their heads on straight and stop all the nonsense."

The two elder Weasleys launched into a conversation concerning the twins. A conversation that consisted mostly of Molly complaining and Arthur nodding ever so often.

When Bill and Sirius returned, Bill could hear who his parents were discussing. Not wishing to be dragged into the conversation concerning the twins or being held up as an example that his mother thought they should follow, he sat down in the chair next to Fleur and Gabrielle.

"Hello. Left alone?" He asked the two Veela witches, primarily focusing on Fleur.

"We are fine," Fleur replied with a polite smile.

"Arry will be back soon," Gabrielle added.

"I hope you don't mind me sitting here, I'd prefer to not be in that conversation," He nodded to his parents.

Fleur could hear the Weasley parents, especially Molly, and nodded. "I think I understand."

Bill struck up a conversation with Fleur about what happened in the graveyard and the upcoming award ceremony. Finally he could contain his curiosity on a certain subject. "I understand you…you're in some kind of relationship?" He asked. "Harry mentioned it right before the third task."

"Oui."

"Oh…" Bill hesitated only for a second and then continued. "I thought, well I thought I heard you were going to teach at Hogwarts this year?"

"Oui, I am. Dumbledore wishes me to do some semi-official remedial Defense training."

"But..." Bill started but then shook his head. "I just thought maybe something had happened since you were willing to come back for a whole year. I'm surprised you're willing to be away from... from the person you are in the relationship with so long after being apart all of last year as well?"

"Non, we are fine, but I understand your confusion."

Two cracks interrupted them as Fred and George reappeared. "Yes Mum, Ron does want his food and they'll be back down soon," George told his mother.

"You know I'm going to be teaching Defense at Hogwarts this year," Bill went on after the interruption trying to continue his conversation with the beautiful witch with the memorizing blue eyes.

"I 'eard. I guess zat means we will be working closely together."

"Yeah, I was thinking the same thing," Bill replied with a warm smile. "If you ever need anything, just let me know. I'll be glad to help anyway I can."

"Thank you," Fleur replied. "Any 'elp will definitely be appreciated."

"You're welcome," Bill moved his hand to cover Fleur's which was on the table.

Fleur pulled her hand back gently. "Bill, please. It is a serious relationship."

"I understand," Bill said respectfully as he pulled his own hand back as well. "I apologize, but if by some chance something happens, I mean not all relationships are permanent; I'd be interested in getting to know you better."

"Some relationships are very much permanent," Fleur replied honestly. She glanced down the table and saw the twins were smirking in their brother's direction. A slight shake of her head let them know not to say anything. Fleur was relieved when a few seconds later, Harry and Hermione along with Ron and Ginny came through the kitchen door.

"Harry, I never asked, did you have breakfast?" Mrs. Weasley asked. "I can have something ready in no time," She removed her wand from her apron pocket and started toward the stove.

"Thanks, but ate before we came," Harry replied. "We need to tell you something important though, but first Ron…do you have something to say?"

Ron face again reddened as he stared down at his plate of food. "Uh…I'm sorry," He muttered as he picked up his fork.

"Ronald Bilius Weasley," Mrs. Weasley exclaimed as she glared at her youngest son. "You can do better than that. You will say a proper apology to these young ladies."

The red that blanketed Ron's face moved to his ears and down his neck as he looked up at his mother. "I…I'm sorry that I…I said those things and caused problems for you," He glanced quickly at Gabrielle and then at Fleur before his eyes were back looking at his plate.

"Thank you," Fleur said. "I accept your apology."

"I do as well," Gabrielle added.

Harry smiled at his two Veela bondmates. He knew it really had been a poor apology, but from Ron it would have to suffice. He looked down the table and was glad to see Emmeline Vance had departed. Though their bond would be public very soon, he wanted to share it with the Weasleys away from everyone else first. "Now, as I said we do have something we need to tell you."

"What is it?" Arthur asked as he sat his cup of tea on the table and put away the newspaper he'd picked back up once his wife had left the chair beside him.

"Please Mrs. Weasley have a seat, this is a bit difficult to explain," Harry replied.

"But it's a grand tale," Fred chimed up. He and George had moved to be closer to their father and further away from Mrs. Weasley who had taken a seat closer to Harry.

"More of a fairy tale, but a true one," George added.

"You two know what's going on?" Arthur asked his twin sons.

"Most definitely," Fred replied. "But it is for Harry to tell the whale of a tale. Take it away Harry."

"Uh yeah thanks guys," Harry said. He looked over at Sirius who was grinning as well. "Well anyway…"

"Madam Weasley did you read ze book about Veela we gave to Ginny?" Fleur asked to start the information going.

"Yes…well after a while," Molly admitted.

"Did you read about ze bond a Veela can create with someone zey are in love with?"

"I did, but I didn't quite understand it," Molly replied.

"When a Veela loves someone, they can initiate a bond with that person; a bond created from their love," This was Hermione. "If the person accepts the bond, it links the two people for the rest of their lives."

"Mrs. Weasley, the reason I knew you were wrong and that Gabrielle loved me was because…."

"NO!" Mrs. Weasley exclaimed as she realized the connection to the bond and what Harry was about to say. She rose to her feet before continuing. "You…you didn't. Please Harry don't tell me you did this bond thing with...with her..."

"Yes I did," Harry replied in a firm voice as he rose to his feet as well. "Gabrielle and I ARE love-bonded."

"You're...you're too young for such a thing," Molly said. "Dumbledore, that's it. I'm sure he can undo it. Here, let me floo him..." She moved toward the fireplace at the end of the room.

"NO!" Harry exclaimed and the harshness of the word froze Molly in her tracks. "Even if it could be undone, I wouldn't want it. I LOVE her and she loves me and that's not..."

"Harry Potter," Molly cut Harry off as she turned to face him again. "You sit down and be quiet while we deal with this. This is for your own good," She started toward the fireplace muttering, "I knew he should have come here and not go off to France of all places. When will Dumbledore listen to me?"

"Molly," Sirius rose and cut her off. "Stop and listen for a change."

"Listen?" Molly sniffed as her eyes flashed as Sirius. "Listen to what? That you allowed a child to go and do something so foolish? Throw his life away? What were you doing over there? You were supposed to be taking care of him. Now get out of my way so I can floo Dumbledore."

"FOOLISH!" Harry temper was up now at the Weasley matriarch.

"Harry, please..." Arthur had now risen from his spot. "Let me," He turned to his wife. "Molly, As Sirius suggested, stop and listen to yourself; think about what you're saying."

"Whatever do you mean?" Molly asked her husband as she still tried to move past Sirius. "Can't you see what happened?"

Arthur's eyes met Harry's and then returned to his wife. "Yes, and I can also see you are about ten seconds away from driving Harry from our lives forever, do you realize that?"

"Nonsense, how can you say..."

"Enough Molly," Arthur replied sternly.

"He knows already," Sirius added. "Dumbledore knows about it."

That stopped Molly in her tracks as a look of dismay cross her face. "No...no," She said. "He...he'd have fixed it."

"It's NOT something to be FIXED!" Harry snarled. "Mrs. Weasley I CHOSE THIS."

Molly turned to Harry and was about retort but was taken aback by the look in his eyes. "But…but Harry you're only fourteen," She objected weakly as she lowered herself back into a chair. "You're just a child and...and Hermione said this was permanent."

"No…I am not a child," Harry replied. "And yes it is permanent. I LOVE her and she loves me. If you really can't accept that, then we won't bother you anymore. We'll leave right after the ceremony."

"I...I..." Molly tried but failed to make an argument.

The silence the kitchen fell into was interrupted by George piping up. "But that's not even the good part."

Molly gave her son a stern look but then turned back to Harry. "What else is there?"

Harry looked back at her and then to Arthur before finally his eyes found Fleur. He took a deep breath before he continued. "Well actually there were two ladies, two Veelas, who fell in love with me and wanted to bond."

All the eyes moved to Fleur at that time. "Oui," Fleur said as she rose from her chair and walked over and put her arm around Harry's waist. "Arry and I are bonded as well."

"But…but…" Molly was about to hyperventilate now as she sat stunned.

"Zis is my relationship Bill," Fleur continued to the oldest Weasley child. "I couldn't tell you before and neither could 'Arry because we were keeping it secret."

"Harry?" Bill also had a stunned look on his face but he finally broke into a smile. "Well I guess the better man won," He stood with his hand outstretched to Harry but Harry waved him down. "Thanks Bill, but…I have one other thing to say."

"Three times is a charm right?" Fred said. "Ouch…" He glared at his sister who had kicked him under the table.

"Ron…" Harry started. "I'm truly sorry, because what I'm going to say next is going to hurt you but…"

"What?" Ron asked with a sharp tone. "What else is there?"

Harry looked down the table and found every eye was upon him. "We…we had trouble bonding because of...well because of things in my past. A specialist had to be called in to help," He explained. "Hermione was asked to help because I trusted her. You see the bonding happens in your mind, but it seems like you're actually physically somewhere else. Basically in the bondimage, that's what it's called, the bondimage, you have to allow the Veelas to access your love. I was having trouble getting to my love because, as I said, things in my past," He paused for a second before taking the plunge. "The expert used Veela magic to…I guess push is a good word, push Hermione into the image to help us," He paused again for a second before he continued. "When we were in bondimage, we found out that we…I mean Hermione and I loved each other as well. Fleur and Gabrielle invited her to join the bond and..." He held out his hand and Hermione stood from her chair, walked over to her bondmate and took the offered hand. They stared at each other for two seconds before Harry turned back to the people around the table. "She accepted. That's our big secret, our news. I am love bonded to all three of them; Fleur, Gabrielle and Hermione."

"I'm sorry Ron," Hermione started but it was no use. Ron, face dark red, slammed his hand on the table and then with a glare to his former friends he stood up and stormed out of the kitchen. The crash of the door hitting the wall showed how he felt about the news.

"RONALD WEASLEY!" Shouted his mother. "YOU COME BACK HERE!" But even her shouts didn't stop his steps from pounding up the steps from the basement.

Harry sighed as he watched his old friend leave, but as he looked back at his bondmates, he knew there was no comparison. He loved each of them and what they gave him was far greater than his friendship with Ron ever had.

"Do your parents know about this Hermione?" Arthur asked quietly.

"Yes, we told them when it happened," Hermione replied.

Mr. Weasley looked at the twins. "And you boys knew about it?"

"Yep," They replied in unison.

"I knew as well," Ginny said. "But they asked me not to say anything because of mum."

Arthur nodded his understanding. "Well I guess we can only wish you four the best."

"But...but..." Molly was trying again to marshal arguments. "You can't...I mean..." It was no use, she kept looking from one of the teens to the other but her sputtering produced no real sentences.

"There is one last thing, but it's basically a natural next step in our relationship. Fleur, Hermione and Gabrielle aren't just my bondmates, we're also officially engaged," Harry smiled at the women he loved as each of them reached into their pockets for their engagement rings which they then slipped back onto their left ring fingers.

"Engaged?" That brought Molly to her senses. "You're engaged? You can't be engaged to three women. That's…that's ridiculous."

"Remember Molly," Arthur said. "Magical bonds supersede marriage laws in these regards. If...and obviously he is, Harry is magically bonded to them he can very well marry all three of them."

"But he can't...I mean three?" Molly replied. She again fell into silence as she stared at the bondmates.

"The bond will be announced in the next couple of days," Hermione said. "We'll be giving our story to Rita Skeeter tomorrow evening and it will appear in the next edition of the Quibbler. It will also appear in the French newspapers."

"That reminds me," Harry started. "Obviously since Ginny and the twins knew about the bonding it happened during the school year, but it's just simpler to let Skeeter and the rest of the world think it happened during the summer instead of explaining why we hid the information."

"You still should have come to us before you…you bonded," Molly insisted. "You were much too young to be doing this type of thing."

"Molly, what is done is done," Arthur said. "What we need to do now is give Harry and his fiancées our full support," His eyes lifted to meet Harry's. "Harry, I want you to know that you and your fiancées will always be welcome at the Burrow, isn't that right Molly?"

"Uh...of course," Mrs. Weasley replied weakly.

"We brought you these," Fleur said as she pulled out a package and handed it to Mrs. Weasley. "We thought you might like them," It was copies of the photos that had been made of the bondmates the previous day. There were three showing Harry and each bondmate as well as a group photo. All of them had been taken in the gardens of the Delacour Estate. There had been others taken as well. Ones with Alain and Apolline in the pictures and others with Dobby and Winky, but those would not be shown just yet.

"Oh, they're beautiful," Mrs. Weasley said instinctively as she looked at each of them. She couldn't help but notice the happiness that radiated from Harry and the young women. Molly finally looked up and the first smile she'd had since hearing the news appeared on her face. "You look so happy in them."

"Mrs. Weasley I am very happy," Harry replied honestly. "Happier than I've ever been in my life. I love all of my bondmates and they love me. I am glad I'll be spending the rest of my life with them."

Molly looked back at the photos before replying in a wistful voice. "Don't take this wrong, but I had always hoped that maybe someday you and Ginny might hit it off. I've started to think of you as my son as well and hoped someday you might be."

"MUM!" Ginny exclaimed in embarrassment.

"That day he rescued you…" Molly continued as she turned to her daughter, "It was like a fairy tale. I wanted so much to believe that happiness could come from the horrors you and he had to go through in that chamber."

"MUM!" Ginny exclaimed again.

"The whole reason you learned to read so early was so you could read your Harry Potter books yourself," Mrs. Weasley continued. "You even told me you were going to marry your prince someday."

"I was what? Five?" Ginny asked as her cheeks burned red.

"I have no doubt that Ginny will find her prince when she's ready," Harry grinned at the red-headed girl who continued to blush.

"Not if we have anything to say about it," George chimed in.

"I mean have you seen those blokes who go to Hogwarts?" Fred added.

"I'll be there this year as well," Bill said.

"I still know my bat-bogey," Ginny said as she glared menacingly to her brothers. "The first one of you who thinks he can bully anyone I MIGHT be interested in will find that out very quickly."

"Well anyway," Molly continued as she ignored the bantering of her children. "So...Dumbledore really knows?"

"He knew from the very beginning," Harry said.

"I still don't…" Molly started before she stopped with a sigh. "I guess Arthur is right, what's done is done. Let's get you settled in. Gabrielle, I thought you could room with Ginny and the room next to hers will be Hermione's and…and…it's Fleur right?"

"Oui…eh…yes."

"May...may I ask how old you are?" Molly stammered.

"I will be eighteen next month," Fleur replied truthfully.

Molly glanced toward Harry before returning her gaze toward Fleur. "How…"

"Ow did I fall in love with 'Arry?" At the slight nod from Mrs. Weasley she continued. "First, you should never doubt zat I love 'im or zat Gabrielle or 'Ermione love 'im. Ze bond could not form unless we did. As for 'ow I come to fall for my bondmate," She paused to look over at Harry, "well 'e must 'ave 'ypnotized me with zose eyes of 'is," She again paused as she considered her words before she continued. "The first time I truly met 'im after being selected for ze Triwizard, I thought 'e was very young, obviously too young for me."

"She even called me a little boy," Harry added.

"Oui, I did," Fleur admitted. "But somewhere during ze year 'e grew up in my 'eart. I don't know when I started to love 'im; it might have been ze smile 'e gave me before I 'ad to face my dragon or 'is attempts at dancing at ze Yule Ball, but I know when I realized it. It was under ze water of ze lake at 'Ogwarts when 'e saved my life and zen later when 'e rescued Gabrielle and me again. My 'eart was 'is from zat moment on."

"But he is just a child and you're…you're a…a woman," Molly complained.

"Non, 'e is not a child," Fleur replied politely as she also tried to calm Harry down mentally. "Mrs. Weasley do you judge a person by 'ow many years zey 'ave been alive or by 'ow zey act or the experiences zey 'ave 'ad?"

"But…"

"You mentioned 'Arry saving Ginny," Fleur continued cutting Mrs. Weasley off. "I saw ze dead carcass of ze creature 'e fought to do it. It was twenty meters long. Shall I bring you one of its fangs? It is zis long," She held out her arms to show the length of the fang they had kept.

"I saw it too Molly," Sirius said. "Hell I wouldn't want to go up against it."

"E 'as already fought Voldemort.."

"Don't say that name," Molly said as she flinched.

"I will not fear a name, especially a silly made up one zat means flight from death. Ze man, if you can still call 'im zat, is evil, but fearing to speak 'is name does not 'elp defeat 'im," Fleur said defiantly. "As I was saying, 'Arry 'as beat Voldemort in ze graveyard and just a few days ago 'e did it again, so 'ow can you still think of 'im as a boy when 'e 'as done more zan most men do in zeir lives?"

"E also rescued me from zose people who were going to sell me into slavery," Gabrielle added.

"He shouldn't be fighting anyone," Molly replied in her own defiance.

"So if Ginny is in danger, I should ignore it?" Harry asked with an edge to his voice. "Or Voldemort attacks me again?"

"No, but..."

"Mrs. Weasley, we are arguing about nothing," Fleur said gently. "I love 'Arry, and to me 'e is everything I could ever 'ope for in a man."

"But..." Again Molly tried to protest.

"Let me ask you a question, what would you 'ave thought if Bill and I 'ad..." She looked at Molly's eldest son, "gotten together. Would zat 'ave been bad in your eyes?"

"Of course not, but..."

"But 'e is six or seven years older zan me," Fleur interrupted Molly's arguments. "Why would zat 'ave been okay, but not 'Arry and me when I am but three years older zan 'im?"

Molly let the air out of her lungs in a long sigh. "I guess," She looked again at the pictures, lifting the one of Fleur and Harry. The two of them were currently dancing in the gardens in the photo. She really could see the adoration Fleur had in her eyes for Harry and the love he had for her in his. It really was a beautiful sight, even as the photo Harry missed a step and almost pulled the two of them to the ground there was nothing but pure happiness.

"Thank you for these," Molly said as he indicated the photos.

"No need to thank us," Fleur replied. "I 'ope you always consider 'Arry a part of your family."

Molly smiled at those words. "Of course and you three as well."

"Well Arthur," Sirius said. "Now that the fireworks and excitement has passed, think you could you go with me to the French Embassy to grab the kids' trunks? We decided to send them separately so if anything happened, we could move faster without them."

"Actually, I need to head into work," Arthur replied as he looked at his watch. "The German Ministry is complaining about something that I have to deal with this morning. I can help this evening if you wish."

"We can go," Fred offered.

"I can give you a hand as well," Bill added.

"I'll take their help then," Sirius replied with a nod to the twins and Bill.

"Come straight back here and do not let Fred and George near Diagon Alley," Molly instructed. "All we need is more prank stuff in this house."

"Come on," Ginny said to everyone else. "I'll show you the rooms."

"Once you get settled in, we need to start working on that drawing room," Molly said. "It's not going to clean itself."

"You're going to have Harry and everyone clean?" Ginny asked. "They just got here."

"We don't mind," Harry replied. "It'll be fun."

"Are you going to be alright in Ron's room?" Hermione asked as they left the kitchen and started back up the steps. "He seemed to be pretty upset. Maybe I should go talk to him?"

"Let me talk to him first," Harry said. "We didn't do anything wrong and if he can't see that, there's nothing we can really do."

"I would suggest a separate bedroom," Ginny said, "but we're pretty much booked up."

"I could sleep with Buckbeak," Harry grinned.

"You can sleep with me," Fleur offered.

"Or me," Hermione added.

"Non, Ginny won't mind if 'e sleeps with me, would you?" Gabrielle asked her friend.

"You...you're sleeping together?" Ginny asked as she stopped and looked at them in surprise. "Oh...sorry I shouldn't have asked. It's none of my business."

"It is fine and yes," Gabrielle replied. "We sleep in 'is bed, but we are not 'aving sex yet."

"Mum would have a full grown unicorn if she found you together in bed here," Ginny exclaimed as again she blushed.

"So?" Harry exclaimed. "This is Sirius' house right?"

"Arry," Fleur gently touched Harry's arm. "Let's not antagonize Mrs. Weasley. 'Er acceptance is still pretty fragile. She needs to see and understand our relationship before we push 'er...'er sense of what's right."

"She's right Harry," Hermione agreed. "It's only a week."

Harry sighed but nodded. "Fine, but I better get goodnight kisses."

"Oh I think we might manage zat," Fleur replied. Her arm snaked around Harry's neck and her lips found his. After a few seconds she finished the kiss. "Zere is ze start of it."

"For her anyway, here's my start," Hermione said as she took Fleur's place.

"See what I meant by ze tongue lashing zey give my boyfriend?" Gabrielle asked Ginny.

"You... this is what you meant?" Ginny asked.

"Oui, oh my turn," Gabrielle said and took Hermione's spot when her kiss was finished.

As Ginny watched her friend kiss the young man she had fancied, she gave a small sigh, but then she thought of the looks Michael Corner had given her and wondered what it would be like to kiss him.

Harry left his bondmates at the first level of the stairs and continued on up to the second level. He hesitated when he reached the door to Ron's room but then turned the knob and pushed the door open. Ron was lying on his bed staring up at the ceiling.

"Come to gloat?" Ron asked as he turned his head to see Harry standing in the doorway. "The great Harry Potter has a harem along with every other bloody thing."

"Harem? That's what you think it is?" Harry asked. "I dare you to say that to them."

Ron didn't reply as he moved his head back to look at the ceiling.

"What do you want me to do? Apologize that three women love me? Sorry but it's not going to happen. They are my family," Harry moved to sit on his bed. "Look if you don't want me in here, just say so. I can sleep on a couch or something. We'll see Alain tomorrow, that's Mr. Delacour, and we can arrange to go back home the day after."

"You could have told me," Ron muttered.

"Really? Did you see how you acted just by telling you Gabrielle was my girlfriend? What do you think you'd have said if I'd told you about all three of them? Or about the bond?" Harry replied in exasperation. After waiting for several seconds for a reply from Ron that never came, Harry continued. "Look, I told you many months ago that if you made me choose, you'd end up not liking it. You chose," Again Harry waited and again no reply came from the other bed. Finally he rose from the bed and started for the door. As his hand touched the knob he turned back. "You were right in your letter. Our friendship can never be what it was and if you can't accept me with my bondmates, well it can't be anything at all."

Harry had just started turning the knob when Ron finally spoke up. "What kind of broom do you think I should get?"

"What?" Harry asked as he turned back in total confusion.

"I was thinking the Cleansweep eleven. It can go from nought to seventy in ten seconds and is more steady in lateral movements than the comet two-sixty. The comet can only make sixty in ten seconds and that's with a decent tailwind. That's what Which Broomsticks says anyway. If I'm going to try to be a keeper, I'm going to need the lateral stability and the better acceleration."

Harry stared at Ron for several seconds before he finally realized the red-head was trying to ignore the issue of Harry and the bonding. "Are we okay then?" He asked. "You're not going to go storming out of the room when I kiss Hermione?"

"Better you than Krum I guess," Ron replied with a shrug. "Just don't tell her what I said about the girlfriend thing."

"I will not say," Harry emphasized the word 'say', "Anything to her, but she's really smart and might already know something's up. What do you have against Krum?"

"Nothing I guess," Ron muttered.

"Good, otherwise I'd have to write and tell him not to send it."

"Send what?"

"I asked him to send you a Quaffle signed by the entire Bulgarian team," Harry replied with a smirk. That had been the favor he'd asked the Bulgarian seeker the day after the third event.

"You did?" Ron's eyes lit up. "The entire team?"

"That's what I asked him for, but I don't know what he'll do."

"I'm sure he'll do it," Ron said as he sat up. "I mean he's not a bad guy."

Harry wanted to laugh at the abrupt change in Ron's attitude toward Viktor Krum. "Yeah, I'm sure he will. We better get moving. Your mum said something about cleaning the drawing room," As he followed Ron from the room, he knew he'd never have the same relationship with Ron he'd had before, but he also realized that Ron's plan hadn't been that bad of one. Maybe if his old friend had a girlfriend, it might ease the jealousy a great deal. "Maybe Hermione, Gabrielle or Ginny can figure out if anyone might be interested in him that way."

*** E E ***

The Drawing Room was a long room with high ceilings with a scattering of furniture including a sofa and a few glass-fronted cabinets. Filthy tapestries hung on olive green walls while long velvet curtains covered the windows. Thick grey dust coated everything; even the carpet puffed in clouds as each step was taken. Mrs. Weasley was already there with the girls when Harry and Ron entered. She had her copy of Gilderoy Lockhartʹs Guide to Household Pests open on a small table with several spray bottles of black liquid beside her. She looked up as the boys entered.

"I thought we'd start on those curtains," She said as she pointed to them. "I've never seen such an infestation of Doxys in my life."

"Dobby and Winky would go nuts in a place like this," Harry said to his bondmates.

"Are we going to tell the Weasleys about them?" Hermione asked as she glanced at Mrs. Weasley.

"Not yet. Let's see how Ron and Mrs. Weasley handle our relationship over time," Harry replied. "You know Ron will try to tease you about it and it will lead to an argument," Harry stopped for a second as he remembered what Ron had said earlier. "Wonder where that house-elf is that Ron said lived here."

"I don't know," Hermione replied. "But I am surprised a room this filthy would exist around a house-elf."

"Remember Ron thought this one was a bit crazy."

The look Hermione flicked over toward Ron said words about what she thought of his opinion on such cases.

"Now, you'll need to cover your nose and mouths," Mrs. Weasley was explaining as she read for her book. "I have several tea towels to use for that. We'll be using Doxycide," she indicated the bottles. "Now you must be careful. Doxy bites are poisonous. I have a bottle of antidote here," She took a bottle of blue liquid out of her pocket and placed it on the table. "But I'd prefer not to have to use it. Now everyone cover your mouths."

When the tea towels were in place, Mrs. Weasley handed each a bottle of black liquid and led them to the curtains. "We'll all start spraying at the same time. That'll get them riled up. When they come flying out, give them a good squirt. That should paralyze them. Once immobilized, throw them into the bucket over there," She indicated the container she was referring to.

They had been de-doxying the curtains for well over an hour before the door opened and Sirius walked in along with the twins.

"We got your trunks," Sirius said. "They're downstairs. Should I throw them in your rooms?"

"We'll grab them later," Harry said.

"Oh and Hermione..." Sirius started but didn't have a chance to finish as a blur of ginger rushed past his legs and launched himself at a Doxy that had just come out of a fold of the curtains and was headed for Hermione. The blur leapt and caught the doxy between its teeth.

"Crookshanks!"

"Just to let you know, your cat decided he wanted to come along," Sirius finished with a laugh.

Crookshanks dropped the doxy he had in his mouth into the bucket and moved over to Hermione.

"What a good boy you are," Hermione said as she stooped to pet the part kneazle.

Crookshanks' ginger tail swished in the air as he rubbed up against his mistress. Suddenly he whirled and was off after another Doxy.

"Hey can we help?" George said as he watched Gabrielle take down another one of the fairy-like creatures with sharp teeth that rushed out at her.

Mrs. Weasley gave her twin sons a suspicious look. "What makes you so helpful all of a sudden?"

"You hurt us mum," Fred replied. "We try to set a good example for our guests and you become all suspicious."

Molly eyed her sons some more before she shrugged. "Grab a couple of bottles and tea towels and get to work then."

Fred grinned at George as they both tied tea towels around their heads and grabbed bottles of the black liquid. It wasn't long before Harry saw Fred accidentally bump his mother and as she turned to look at him, he noticed George pocket a doxy he'd just sprayed. Curiosity got the best of him and he moved closer to George.

"What's going on?" Harry asked in a quiet voice and he squirted a pair of doxys headed straight for him. "What's with the Doxy in your pocket?"

"ʹWe want to experiment with Doxy venom for our Skiving Snackboxes," George explained under his breath.

"What's a skiving Snackbox?"

"Range of sweets to make you ill," George whispered, keeping a wary eye on his mother's back. "Not seriously ill, mind you, just ill enough to get you out of a class when you feel like it. Fred and I have been developing them this summer. They're double‐ended, colour‐coded chews. If you eat the orange half of the Puking Pastilles, you throw up. Moment you've been rushed out of the lesson for the hospital wing, you swallow the purple half ‐"

ʹʹ‐ which restores you to full fitness, enabling you to pursue the leisure activity of your own choice during an hour that would otherwise have been devoted to unprofitable boredom. That's what we're putting in the adverts, anyway," whispered Fred, who had edged out of Mrs Weasley's line of vision and was now sweeping a few stray Doxys from the floor and adding them to his pocket. "But they still need a bit of work. At the moment our testers are having a bit of trouble stopping themselves puking long enough to swallow the purple end."

"Who's testing them?" Harry asked curiously.

"At the moment, we are," George replied.

"And your mum doesn't notice?"

"She thinks we've been dueling," Fred replied with a wink.

"So joke shop is still on then?" Harry asked.

"We haven't got premises yet, but we're doing a good business by mail-order. We've put in advertisements in Broomstick Monthly and Witch Weekly."

"Doesn't your mother read Witch Weekly?" Harry asked as he gave a sharp glance over to Mrs. Weasley who had stopped spraying. "Aren't you afraid of her seeing the ad?"

"Nah, not anymore," Fred replied. "She cancelled it because of the Veela lies. Whatever was in that book Fleur gave Ginny, it sure changed mum's opinion."

"I'm glad of that," Harry said as he sprayed another doxy that had burst out of the curtains.

"It's all thanks to you mate," George said as he deftly caught the doxy in the air and slid it into his pocket with the rest.

"Those galleons of yours made the difference."

Before Harry could reply the door opened and everyone turned to look. An old house-elf with a filthy rag tied like a loincloth was edging through the barely opened door. He was bald like all house-elves but a copious amount of grey hair sprouted from his bat-like ears. His watery-grey eyes were bloodshot.

The elf took no notice of everyone in the room who was staring at him. He acted like he couldn't see them and they couldn't see him as he shuffled slowly to the other side of the room muttering under his breath as he moved.

"...there's that nasty blood traitor and with her brats messing up my mistress' home. Now there are more of them. I wonder what kind of vermin these brats are. I can see now, the two that look like sisters are half-breed creatures ... poor old kreacher, what is he to do?"

"Hello," Hermione said kindly. "How are you? I'm Hermione, Hermione Granger. Would you like to help us clean?"

The elf paid no attention to Hermione but continued to mutter. "...that name is no pureblood name. She has the stink of mudblood about her..."

"Don't call her that," Harry snapped at the elf. "Nor do you call Fleur and Gabrielle half-breeds."

"Harry..." Hermione started. "It's alright. He doesn't..." She stopped as the elf had continued muttering.

The elf had glanced at Harry when he spoke but then looked back down and continued "...that boy has the scar my mistress told me about. It must be Harry Potter. My mistress said he stopped the Dark Lord but Kreacher must wonder how he did it..."

"Kreacher," Sirius snapped."What are you up to?"

"Kreacher is cleaning Master," The elf said. "Kreacher lives to serve the Ancient and Noble House of Black," With that said he continued his shuffling toward the other side of the room while his muttering continued. "Master is the ungrateful swine who broke my mistress' heart."

"My mother didn't have a heart."

Kreacher turned and without looking up bowed again as he spoke. "Whatever Master says," The old elf turned back and the muttering could be heard once again in a much more furious tone. "Master is not fit to wipe slime from his motherʹs boots, oh, my poor mistress, what would she say if she saw Kreacher serving him, how she hated him, what a disappointment he was ‐"

"She didn't hate me nearly as much as I hated her," Sirius spat. "Now leave Kreacher."

The elf glanced at the other end of the room where he'd been headed but almost against his will, he turned and shuffled back out the door.

When the elf was gone Sirius shook his head at Harry. "That was Kreacher, my family's house-elf. When we first got here, he kept taking things and hiding them."

"He still is," Molly said.

"He was probably wanting the Tapestry then," Sirius sad nodding at the large covering on the wall. "Seven centuries worth of the Black family. He'd consider it a treasure."

"What's wrong with him?" Hermione asked. "Can't something be done?"

Sirius shook his head. "All the years being locked in this house with only my mother's portrait? He was always a foul little monster, but it's much worse now."

"But..." Hermione started. "Surely there is something. Maybe setting him free..."

"Can't; he knows way too much about the Order by now, besides you saw how devoted to my mother he is. Try to get him to leave this house and it'd kill him," Sirius glanced around the room with a look of disgust. "Personally, I hate this house. If Dumbledore didn't need a place for the Order, I'd never have stepped foot in it again."

"What was Kreacher doing in here?" Hermione asked. "You said he likes to take thinks and hide them."

"He doesn't like us throwing my dear old mother's previous heirlooms out," Sirius replied. "He keeps taking things and hiding them."

"Can't we let him have some of them?" Hermione persisted. "Wouldn't that make it better for him?"

"You have a great heart Hermione," Sirius said. "But you'll never fix what's wrong with that elf," He walked over to the tapestry on the wall and stared at it.

"What is it and why would the elf want it?" Harry asked as he moved to join his godfather, but instantly his question was answered. The tapestry was immensely old and faded. Some spots showed where Doxys had gnawed on it, but the golden thread with which it was embroidered still glinted brightly enough to show a sprawling family tree. It seemed to date all the way back to the middle ages. Large words at the very top of the tapestry read:

The Noble and Most Ancient House of Black Toujours pur

"Where are you?" Harry asked as he scanned the lines.

"I used to be right there," Sirius smirked as he pointed to a small burnt hole. "My dear old mother blasted me off after I ran away from home."

Harry stared at the spot and then noticed a name beside it. "You have a brother?"

"Had one," Sirius corrected Harry. "Regulus," Sirius stared at his brother's name for several seconds before he continued. "Idiot he was. Like the rest of my family, he believed the whole pure-blood crap. In other words he was a much better son than I ever was."

"What happened to him?" Hermione asked. There was a date of death under his name that was from fifteen years previous.

"Fell in with Voldemort, became a Death Eater."

"Were your parents Death Eaters too?"

"No, but they sure thought Voldemort had the right idea though. See there?" He pointed at the words at the top of the Tapestry. "Always Pure. They were all for purifying the blood of Wizards, getting rid of Muggleborns and the like. It was only after Voldemort showed the extent he'd go to get power that they had second thoughts. I'm sure though, that Regulus was a right hero to them at first."

"What happened to him?" Hermione asked. "Did he get killed by an Auror?"

"No," Sirius replied. "He was killed by Voldemort, or more likely by his orders. I doubt my brother would have been important enough for Voldemort to do it himself."

"Why?" Harry asked.

"From what I found out later, Regulus had gotten himself in over his head. He panicked when he was asked to do something he didn't want to do and tried to back out. Voldemort doesn't take resignations. It's a lifetime service or death."

"Sirius, don't you think you've said enough?" Molly asked. "Harry doesn't need to hear all of that."

"He needs to hear that and a lot more," Sirius argued.

"I really don't think it's a good idea..."

"Molly, I appreciate what you are trying to do, but as it was said earlier in the kitchen, Harry is not a child. Besides, I am Harry's guardian now and I'll decide what is appropriate for him and what is not."

"Well..." Molly replied as she swelled up.

Harry knew what was coming and decided it wasn't worth it. "It's alright Sirius. We can drop it. Hey," He tried to change the subject. "Tonks is suppose to be your cousin, where is she?"

"She'd have been right here," He pointed below another hole in the tapestry. "Her mother Andromeda was my favorite cousin, but she went and married a muggle-born, Ted Tonks..."

Harry had stopped listening because he was staring at the two names on either side of the hole Sirius was pointing at. One was Bellatrix who was married to Rudophus Lestrange and beside her was the name Narcissa. From Narcissa ran another gold line which connected to Lucius Malfoy and below their names was the name Draco.

"You're related to the Malfoys?" Harry exclaimed.

"All of the pure-blood families are all interrelated," explained Sirius with a shrug. "If you're only going to let your sons and daughters marry pure-bloods, then your choices are very limited; there are hardly any of us left. Molly and I are cousins by marriage and Arthur's something like my second cousin once removed. But there's no point looking for either of them on here. If ever a family was a bunch of blood traitors, it's the Weasleys," He pointed at a name. "Even a Potter is on here."

Harry could see a Dorea Black (Potter) listed, born 1920 and died in 1977. She'd been married to Charlus Potter. "Do you know if she's my..."

"No, they weren't your grandparents, but I think he'd have been your great uncle or something like that. I remember James mentioning his cousin being killed leaving him as the last Potter." (1) Sirius said gently. "We would definitely be related though; I just never paid that much attention to all of this crap to know."

"How about some lunch?" Molly offered as she gave Sirius a look that conveyed she still wasn't comfortable with him discussing these matters with Harry. "We can then start working on those," she nodded toward some glass fronted cabinets.

Harry glanced to where she had nodded and saw the cabinets were packed with an assortment of items, each covered in thick dust. As he looked closer he could distinguish daggers, tarnished silver boxes, a coil of what looked like a snakeskin and and an ornate crystal bottle filled with a dark red liquid that look a lot like blood.

After lunch they were all back in the Drawing room emptying the cabinet.

"Eet bit me," Fleur said as she pulled her hand back from a silver snuff box that she'd reached for. Almost instantly her hand started crusting over.

"That must be filled with Wartcap powder," Sirius said. "Here Fleur let me help you," He pulled out her wand and reached for her hand.

"Non, eet's not necessary," Fleur replied. As they watched, the crusty covering started to change and fade as her skin returned to normal.

"Wow, that's impressive," Sirius said. "How'd you do that?"

"Veela magic," Fleur answered with a smile. "Anything zat would prevent me from being beautiful is 'ealed. Ze more serious ze damage, ze longer it takes of course. You mean Bernadette 'asn't told you?"

"You do that too?" Ginny asked Gabrielle.

"Oui, 'Ermione as well now," Gabrielle replied and all eyes turned to Hermione.

"That's stupid," Ron exclaimed. "Hermione's not Veela, of course she can't do it."

"For you information RONALD," Hermione said with her eyes flashing. "I do not appreciate you calling my bondsister stupid. She's a lot smarter than you. Remember that I AM in a veela bond and yes I have some veela powers. How do you think my hair is like this?"

"Huh?" Ron answered in total bewilderment.

"Oh, for Merlin's sake," Hermione exclaimed in exasperation. "Watch!" She concentrated and her hair shifted to her old bushy style. "Well?" She asked her old friend.

"But you're not Veela," Ron repeated himself.

"In some way I am now," Hermione replied in a very determined voice.

"Are you alright Hermione?" Molly asked. "Have you been to a Healer?"

"We are working with an expert in Veela bonds," Hermione said. "But it isn't something that needs to be healed. I am proud to share this with my bondsisters."

"And Ron, I highly advise you not to call her a Veela chick," Harry told his old friend.

Ron's face turned red but he didn't say anything as the discussion moved into a different area.

A little later, a gold locket was taken out of the cabinet by Fleur. "Wonder who zis belonged to?" She asked.

"Careful," Sirius said. "No telling what might be inside."

"It won't open," Fleur said as she carefully thumbed the catch.

"Here let me try," Sirius said as he reached for it. "It might require a Black to open it," He also tried to open it with no success. "Well that's not it," He said.

"Let me try," Hermione requested.

"Sure, but again be careful," Sirius cautioned as he handed over the locket.

Hermione took the gold locket and studied it carefully. It was heavy and obviously made of gold. It had a serpentine S on the front of it. She tried to push on various places and move the parts of the S but still the locket would not open. Finally giving up she started to set it aside.

"Can I try?" Gabrielle asked.

Hermione handed the locket to the young Veela who tried everything she could think of but it still failed to open.

It took until almost dinnertime to clean out the cabinets.

"What about that desk?" Hermione asked pointing to a small desk that was shaking slightly.

"I think there is something in there," Sirius said. "Most likely a Boggart."

"We can take care of that," Harry replied pulling out his wand from the wandring.

"You can't do magic now Harry," Hermione reminded him.

"Hey what's that?" Ron asked. "Where'd your wand come from?"

Harry started explaining the device to Ron as each of the bondmates showed theirs to the people in the room.

"Those are cool," George whispered to Harry as Fleur was showing how the wand went into hers. "I don't know anyplace that sells those around here. Might make a great line for our store."

"I think we need to have Mad-eye take a look to make sure Molly," Sirius said when the subject of the desk came back up. "When it comes to my family, it's better to be safe than sorry."

*** E E ***

Narcissa Malfoy set the invitation from the Ministry aside in disgust as she buttered the toast she was trying to eat. The weeks since the death of her husband had taken its toll on her. Several pounds had been lost off of her already lean body and now her skin seemed to have sunken in upon itself. It was only now that she'd started recovering her appetite. She was still bitter toward her previous friends who still had not taken an opportunity to pay a social visit to see how she was doing. The Parkinsons had stopped by and pretended to offer support, but Narcissa had seen right through the ploy when they had hinted that since Lucius was dead, maybe their investment firm should look after the Malfoy fortune. She'd politely told them she'd think it over and then shown them the door. Isabella Zabini had floo'd to offer her cold comfort and told her how she had got back on her feet after the death of all seven of her previous husbands. "Get out and find yourself another man," She'd insisted, "preferably another wealthy one. One can never have enough gold."

As Narcissa took a bite of her toast, she thought of the life she'd led; a life that had disappeared with her husband's death. She remembered the benefits and balls she'd attended, the parties hosted and invited. Several times a week she'd put on her best gowns and robes and made her appearance where people always held her in great esteem. "No..." She muttered to herself, "They held my money in great esteem."

As she swallowed another bite of toast, the golden edges of the invitation caught her eye. She picked it up again and read.

The Minister of Magic

Cornelius Fudge

Invites you to attend an official award ceremony on the twenty-fifth of this month at eight-thirty in the evening. Join us as we officially recognize the heroic achievements of Harry James Potter and Fleur Isabelle Delacour in the battle against the darkness that threatens our society. They are to be presented with the Order of Merlin Second Class for their actions against You-Know-Who in the Graveyard of Little Hangleton.

The next two paragraphs described the battle and of Harry surviving the Killing Curse. Narcissa, having already read it once skimmed to the bottom of the invitation.

It will be only the second time in British Wizarding history that a foreign witch or wizard is presented with one of our country's highest honors. So please join us in the Atrium of the Ministry of Magic to see this historic event. Due to security measures, unless you are on the gold or platinum invitee list (see accompanying flyer) you need to be in your seats one hour before the event is to start.

Narcissa looked at the second page that had accompanied the invitation. She'd seen many such offers in the past. It basically said that for a hundred galleon donation to the Minister of Magic's re-election campaign, their names could be added to the gold invitee list. Being on the list gave preferential seating (second and third row) and allowed for security measures to be done quickly and privately. For only another fifty galleons, one hundred and fifty in all, the patron could be added to the platinum list. Platinum list invitees would get first row seating and an invite to the post-ceremony reception where the donator would be personally introduced to Harry Potter and Fleur Delacour.

Again Narcissa started to lay the invitation down but then she reconsidered. "I am Narcissa Malfoy," She proclaimed to herself. "I will show everyone that I AM capable of being my own person," She looked across the table where her son was busy with eggs and ham. "Draco, we'll be going to the Ministry tomorrow evening. Be ready to go by eight."

The confidence in his mother's voice brought an abrupt halt to the bite Draco was about to put into his mouth. It was different than she'd sounded for the past few weeks; weeks where the relationship between mother and son had deteriorated to almost nothing. Where Narcissa had struggled to cope with depression, Draco had channeled his own grief into anger. Even now as he eyed his mother, the fork started moving again as he continued his breakfast.

"Draco, did you hear me?" Narcissa said. "You will be ready in your formal robes tomorrow evening at eight pm."

"What's going on at the Ministry?" Draco asked in a lazy drawl once he'd drained his glass of pumpkin juice.

"Award Ceremony. Fudge is giving the Order of Merlin to Potter and that young Delacour woman."

"No," Draco replied sharply. "I won't be attending."

"And I say you will," Narcissa said forcefully as her depression started to lift. "I am your mother young man."

"Are you?" Draco asked with a sneer in his voice. "Would my mother be speaking of selling our home and moving away? Of leaving the very home where my father is buried? Would the wife of my father think she can drag me off to see Potter and some Veela half-breed awarded?" Draco got up from his seat. "You might want to go fraternize with that kind of trash, but I still believe in what my FATHER believed in," With a final glare at his mother, Draco turned and walked out of the room.

Narcissa stared at the doorway her son had disappeared out of for several seconds before regaining her senses. As tears welled in her eyes she realized she'd lost not only her husband, but her son as well. She could already see the path he was headed down and it terrified her. It wasn't a very long stretch of imagination to substitute the mental image of her husband's dead body with that of her son's. Her hands started to crumple the invitation up but then she paused.

"I can't let Draco know he influenced me to change my mind," She thought as she smoothed the parchment back out. "I must go now whether he comes or not," She took the invitation to her desk and penned the information required on the donation slip, platinum, of course, and as she fastened the reply to her personal owl and sent it on it's way she had another thought. "If Draco continues on the path his father chose, he'll run afoul of the Ministry eventually. Hopefully by then I can be back in the good graces of the Minister and can influence him."

*** E E **

"Here comes another one dad," Dudley Dursley said of the black-cloaked greasy-haired man who was walking up the walk. Dudley was hiding behind the hydrangea bush to the left of the front door while his father was behind the bush on the other side of the door.

"We'll show these freaks they can't mess with us," Vernon whispered back to his son. He hefted the cricket bat in his hand and saw his son do the same.

The black-cloaked stranger moved closer and closer but when he got within five paces of the front step, he paused. After a second of contemplation the man reached into his cloak pocket while at the same time he continued walking.

"GET HIM!" Vernon roared as he jumped out in front of the man. He raised the bat to strike the freak but as he started to swing it from its height above his head, the bat seemed to freeze. Vernon then realized his hand was stuck to the bat that was stuck in the air. It was only then he realized he couldn't move any part of his body except his eyes. He looked over and saw his son was in the exact same predicament.

"Do you really think you can hurt a wizard, muggle?" Severus Snape lifted his wand slightly and with a flick, the bat in Vernon's hand started moving up and down.

Vernon wanted to cry out in shock and pain as the cricket bat in his hand started rapping him in the head every couple of seconds. He tried to speak, to yell but nothing came out of his open mouth. As the bat struck him again and again in the head his eyes moved to see who might come to his aid.

"Looking for help?" Snape asked in an oily voice. "Didn't they tell you? As soon as a witch or wizard crosses onto your property, Muggle repelling wards arise as well as notice-me-nots. None of your neighbors can see you, no one can protect you. I can kill you where you stand and no one would even notice your body until well after I'm gone."

Vernon now felt the same fear he'd felt the night that french wizard had been there and maybe even more. He remembered the pictures he'd been shown. Now, as he looked at the black eyes of the wizard in front of him, as he felt the cricket bat strike his head again and again, he remembered what the French wizard had said about Potter being there protected him. He suddenly wished he'd not driven the boy away.

The front door flew open at that moment and Petunia Dursley stood there. "Are you here for the tou..." She started but then her eyes grew wide as she recognized the man who had destroyed her relationship with her sister. "YOU!"

"Hello..." Snape paused as he lifted a lip in a sneer, "Tuney."

"Don't you dare call me that you...you..." Petunia exclaimed.

"Stand aside," Snape said ignoring the long necked woman. "Or do you wish to end up like your husband."

Snape made the mistake of turning his gaze toward Vernon as he said the last words and didn't see Petunia's hand. Years of hatred of the man in front of her poured into Petunia as she swung her hand with all of her might. The force of the slap turned Snape's face and left a large red hand print across his left cheek.

Snape's eyes were instantly filled with pure hatred. "How dare you strike me muggle filth? You'll regret doing that for a long long time," He lifted his wand and pointed it directly at Petunia. "CRU..."

"STOP!" A deep voice exclaimed from directly behind Snape as he found the point of a wand at his neck. "Stop it Severus," Kingsley Shacklebolt commanded. "You will not harm her. You know what Dumbledore said. Besides, you finish that curse and you'll spend the rest of your life in Azkaban."

Snape's hand trembled as if he had to fight with himself but finally the wand came down. "Step aside," He said to Petunia in a voice barely containing the rage he felt.

"Let him in Mrs. Dursley," Kingsley said. "It's for your own protection."

"Who are you?" Petunia asked as she stepped to one side and Snape pushed roughly past her.

"Kingsley, Kingsley Shacklebolt," The large black man said. "We're keeping an eye on your house while Harry's back from France."

"Harry's back?"

"Yes."

"Will he be coming back here?"

"No, we have a safer place for him," Kingsley explained. "But it's always possible the bad guys might think he's back here."

"Oh, but I thought he'd went off to France for the entire summer?"

"He did, but he's back for a while. He's getting an award tomorrow evening at the Ministry for battling You-Know-Who," Shacklebolt explained.

"What's he doing?" Petunia asked as she nodded inside her house where Snape had disappeared.

"I can't say, but trust me that it's for your own good," Kingsley replied. "I'll stay here until he's gone though," It was then he realized the bat was still striking Vernon in the head every couple of seconds. "Sorry, I should have stopped this earlier," He flicked his wand and the bat ceased its motions.

As Petunia stood there she realized how peculiar her life had become. Here she stood chatting with a wizard while another was in her house. Her husband and son stood like statues with cricket bats raised in their hands and for some reason she didn't feel a bit of distress. "You said your kind were watching our house?"

"Yes ma'am."

"If I wanted to send a letter to my nephew, would they be able to do deliver it?"

"Of course."

*** E E ***

Ginny returned to the bedroom she shared with Gabrielle after her shower that evening. She found the youngest veela sitting on her bed seemingly deep in thought.

"What are you thinking about?" Ginny asked.

"Non, just wishing 'Arry a goodnight," Gabrielle replied as she looked up at her friend. "E's not looking forward to sleeping alone in 'is bed. 'E says your brother snores."

"He definitely does," Ginny agreed with a smile. "At the Burrow it sometimes echos all the way down to my room. This place, as creepy as it is, at least is a lot quieter."

"It is very dark in magic," Gabrielle replied. "Ow do you stand it?"

"Mum and dad are here because of the Order so I have to be also."

"Maybe when we go back 'ome, you can come with us?" Gabrielle suggested. "Zere is plenty of room. We are going to ask Luna and Neville to come."

"I'm not sure mum will let me, but I guess we can ask," Ginny replied. She then noticed Gabrielle was messing with something in her hand. "What is that?"

"Oh just ze locket we found earlier. I want to find out 'ow it opens," Gabrielle replied as she held up the gold object.

"Better be careful. You saw what happened to Fleur and that snuffbox."

"I will, but I always 'ave 'Arry 'ere," Gabrielle said as she tapped her head. "E'll come save me if something 'appens."

"I hope so," Ginny replied. "Shall I turn out the light?"

"Oui," Gabrielle replied as she put the locket on the table beside her bed. "It's not zat important, but I do want to figure it out."


A/N:

(1) According to the Lexicon, JKR said James' mother died at a very advanced age 'even by wizarding standards'. Dorea died at age 57 so unless JKR was just confused again, Dorea could not have been Harry's grandmother. So if Dorea and Charlus had a son, he'd have to be related to James and a Potter. Since Harry had no other relatives alive, that Potter must have died along the way.