A/N -I know I know, I have no excuse. Thank you for your patience and continued reviews. We hit 3000 on the last chapter! A fact I am still getting my head around.
Harry was shaken awake by George Weasley the following morning and blinked sleepily. What was George doing in his room? Remembrance flooded back in a rush. Today was the first day in the three day window they had created. Voldemort might attack today!
Harry felt his heart race as the adrenaline kicked in.
'Did he come!' he rasped as he sat up abruptly and George frowned in confusion before answering.
'No, hell no. Sorry Harry, I didn't mean to startle you. Everything's fine. Bill flooed this morning; he has sourced 13 ward stones and the goblins can deliver them this afternoon if you're ready?'
Harry stared blankly at him for a moment before his brain caught up with the words and he swung his legs over the edge of the bed. He was in Gryffindor tower, back in his dorm. The ward stones were ready. That was... unexpected.
'Er...I guess I am,' Harry answered slowly, his mind racing. '...but I haven't got my project signed off by Professor Vector yet and I haven't asked your Mum and Dad if they are OK with it.'
George nodded soberly. 'I realise you have exam marks hanging on this and I hate to rush you but...,' he grimaced and spread his hands helplessly. 'We could be attacked today and if The Burrow is secure, well it could make all the difference.'
Harry swore quietly and jumped up to start dressing. 'You're right, I should have thought of that. It's much more important than my exam.'
Within an hour the younger generation of Weasleys' and Harry were in the Great Hall with all of Harry's notes spread across the Gryffindor table.
Remus and Professor Vector checked through his calculations while he paced nervously. He had not expected this to happen so quickly and was really worried about Molly and Arthurs reactions to his gift.
Ron interrupted his musings with a tap on the shoulder as he shuffled awkwardly.
'Er, mate...I need you to...complete this witch bottle.'
Ron shoved a small clear glass bottle into his hands and Harry frowned at it confusion.
'I don't know what I'm meant to do with this,' Harry admitted and Ron blushed bright red. Harry was aware of the two Professors giving them an amused look.
Ginny plopped down on the bench beside them and took the bottle from Harry's hand before pointing at the red specs in the bottom.
'A witch bottle is an ancient way of protecting a property,' she explained softly. 'You fill it with things that represent a defence of some kind. People often use rusty nails or broken glass but we've used chilli flakes because Fred and George like the idea of someone's feet burning if they try and get past them.'
Harry snorted at that. 'So we are going to put these in the foundations under the stones?'
'Yep!' Ginny confirmed. 'Each of us has completed one. By putting something of yourself in it then you identify yourself as a resident of the property which will automatically allow you past any wards that we put up. You're family so...,' she trailed off with a shrug as Harry blushed.
'So what do I put in it?' Harry asked and Ron coughed and shuffled again.
'Oh honesty Ronnikins, you're such a prude,' Ginny scoffed as she turned to explain.
'It should be bodily fluid,' she stated calmly and Harry frowned.
'You mean blood?'
Ginny shrugged. 'Blood, urine, semen, whatever you like. Semen is the most powerful as it contains your family magic but if that's uncomfortable...,' Harry blushed furiously and glanced at his best mate who was busy staring at the table.
'Erm, OK then. I will think about that.' He took the tiny bottle back and shoved it in his pocket.
'Mr Potter.' Professor Vector's stern voice called him back to the end of the table where he hurried in relief.
She looked up as he approached and gave him a rare smile. 'This is truly excellent work. I'm very impressed with the earth based approach you have taken. If you don't mind, I would like to submit the theory to the Ministry once all this is over?'
Harry smiled, his cheeks burning as he took in her praise.
'Draco helped me quite a bit,' he admitted. 'He helped me adapt the equations to fit the model I was using.'
Professor Vector nodded thoughtfully. 'Perhaps the two of you could write a joint paper once he has recovered.'
'Yeah, that would be great,' Harry agreed, smiling as Severus appeared in the corner of his vision.
The Potion Masters hand settled on Harry's shoulder and gave a light squeeze.
'Molly and Arthur are here,' he said quietly. 'Perhaps now would be a good time to make your presentation?'
'Is it ready?' Harry asked the two Professors and they both nodded.
Harry swallowed nervously and gestured to Ron and Hermione to come down to his end of the table. A word from Ron had the rest of the Weasley clan coming to join them.
Bill and Charlie sat down on the bench facing their parents and Bill pulled Ginny onto his lap. Ron climbed up to sit on the table, with Hermione sliding in beside him and the twins perching themselves behind their older brothers. Only Percy was missing from the gang.
The three Professors stood to one side and watched as Harry turned nervously to face the two older Weasleys'.
'What's all this then?' Arthur asked jovially as he saw the expectant and excited looks on his children's faces.
'The brats have been scheming again,' Severus said dryly and Harry threw him a dirty look.
'We have not!' he said petulantly and the Potions Master chuckled.
'My, this looks busy!' The headmasters voice interrupted as he appeared seemingly from nowhere.
'Is this connected to your request for an outing to The Burrow today?' he asked of Remus who nodded.
'It is Headmaster; I believe Harry was about to explain.'
Harry swallowed as the Headmaster conjured an armchair and sat down expectantly. Molly and Arthur were looking a little worried so he launched into the tale a little breathlessly.
'Well you see, I had a special project for school about using magical energies at Sacred sites and after you told me about The Burrow and how the land drained all the magic I thought I would change it to look at Ward stones.' Harry stopped and took a deep breath, glancing over at the Weasley children for moral support.
Charlie rescued him, standing up and coming to stand next to him.
'Harry has worked out all the spells and calculations for a full set of Ward Stones for The Burrow,' he explained. 'and the rest of us thought we would like to make a gift of them to you.'
Arthur blushed red. 'That's very kind of you boys, but really unnecessary.'
Charlie interrupted. 'We want to do this Dad. Bill has managed to get some really awesome stones from the Goblins and he and I and the terror twins have split the cost between us.'
Ron jumped in. '...and Ginny and I have worked out the runes for the stones and made witch bottles; Hermione helped,' he added quickly.
Molly sniffed loudly reaching for a handkerchief as she took in her children's excited faces.
'It would be lovely not to have to cast the house spells every week, 'she admitted and Arthur frowned heavily.
'Boys, stones like this are really expensive.'
'We can manage it Dad,' Fred said soberly and the impact of two serious faced twins broke through much of Arthurs objections.
Arthur glanced at Harry's nervous face and smiled softly. 'This is very nice of all you,' he said quietly. 'You wanted to do this today?'
The teenagers all burst into chatter at once and the headmasters chuckle could be heard in the background.
'Marvellous,' he said spreading his hands wide and silencing the noise. 'After lunch then. I will set some monitoring spells so we are all recalled to the castle should we have any unexpected guests. ' He turned to Molly and Arthur. 'May I presume to help with the casting?'
Molly beamed in excitement. Having the most powerful wizard of their age casting the family ward stones would increase their standing in the wizarding world greatly.
'We'd be honoured,' Arthur said hoarsely and Dumbledore smiled serenely before walking away, humming to himself.
Harry practically sagged in relief, leaning into Severus's touch as the man rubbed his back briefly.
'You worry about the most ridiculous things,' Severus muttered and Harry shrugged.
'I'm a teenager, we're unpredictable.'
'Mm, that's one word for it,' the older man said, pulling the boy back towards the table. 'Tidy your notes up and make sure you have everything packed. We will need to leave promptly after lunch.'
Harry nodded and hurried back over to his friends. He was pretty excited about being involved in such a complicated bit of magic. The fact that it would keep his friends safe and make their lives better was an added bonus.
A few hours later found Harry and the rest of the Gryffindor students staring in awe as a group of Goblins manoeuvred the enormous stones into position. The head of the Goblin group had marched over to the teenagers on arrival and snatched the map Harry had created out of his hands. The Goblin had stared at it for a moment, given Harry an appraising look and then stalked away without another word.
The children had each picked one of the thirteen positions and magically created the foundations the stones would rest in, adding their witch bottles. Harry had kept his in his pocket until the last moment and made sure no one was watching when he pushed it into the churned up soil.
It was silly to be embarrassed he realised, but he didn't want anyone to know which bodily fluid he had used. It was the first time he had used an old craft piece of magic and he realised once again how very much he still had to learn about the magical world.
The younger generation were now safely out of the way as the stones were lowered into place, supervised by Molly, Arthur, Remus, Severus and the Headmaster. Charlie and Bill had a restraining hold on their younger siblings shoulders as if they expected them to run into danger any second.
Once the stones were settled, the head Goblin walked over to the group, handed Harry back his notes and gave a sharp nod to Bill before walking back to his colleagues. The small group disappeared in the swirl of a portkey without even a goodbye.
'Friendly buggers aren't they?' Ron said dryly and the group laughed as they regarded the stones. They were huge and yet somehow fitted perfectly into the wild landscape that surrounded the burrow.
The group chatted amicably as they walked back towards the house and Harry found his excitement building. He heard the headmasters voice and looked up to see him walking towards them with a figure either side. The diminutive Professor Flitwick flanked one side whilst on the other...Harry unconsciously stopped dead causing Ron to career into the back of him.
'Watch it mate, what are you...,' Ron trailed off as he spotted the tall finger before him.
'Percy!' Fred hissed as George muttered 'Prat,' under his breath.
'Now boys,' Dumbledore encouraged softly as he reached the group. 'This is a powerful bit of family magic you are doing here and it is only fitting that all members of the family are present.'
Percy stood stiffly before his brothers and sister, his expression its normal haughty self.
Harry felt his irritation grow and was just about to stalk off and leave Percy at the mercy of his furious siblings when he noticed something the others hadn't.
Percy was shaking; his hands trembling against his sides and his knees knocking together. Harry deflated, feeling immediately ashamed at his anger. It must have taken a great deal of courage for Percy to come here and face his family, he realised. He glanced back at the other redheads who all looked ready to go for their wands and bit his lip nervously.
Maybe, if he was friendly to Percy, the others would follow suit? The truth was he didn't want to be nice to the idiot who had said and believed so many awful things about him. He glanced over the meadow to where Severus and Remus were watching the potential confrontation. Molly stood near the back door wringing her hands nervously, her husband behind her with his hands resting on her shoulders.
They both looked torn between running to greet their wayward son and allowing things to play out between the siblings.
Harry frowned heavily. What would Severus do in this situation, he wondered? He thought of his Master's reaction to Sirius and nearly snorted in amusement. Maybe not the best role model on this particular occasion then! Remus would just forgive him or pretend nothing had happened. Harry didn't think he could do that either.
Taking a breath, Harry stepped forward and crossing his arms over his chest stood before Percy with a glare.
'Now my boy...,' Dumbledore trailed off as Harry turned his glare abruptly to the headmaster before looking back at Percy who swallowed nervously.
'I would like an apology.' Harry said coldly, aware of Ron and Hermione coming to stand either side of him.
Percy swallowed as he looked at the sea of redheads glaring at him.
'I'm sorry Harry,' he said quietly.
Harry searched the man's face. 'For what?' he snapped, aware of the Headmaster moving to intervene.
'Now Harry...,' the man began before Harry cut him off.
'This doesn't concern you Sir,' he said, hearing an amused snort in the background that could only have come from the Potions Master.
Percy shuffled and clenched his hands into his robes. Harry forced himself not to react as he saw the man's shaking increase.
'I'm...I'm sorry that I didn't believe you about Vol...Voldemort's return.'
'And,' Harry snapped.
'I'm sorry for the things I said about you.' Percy said quietly.
'...and the letters?' Harry added, aware of the adults questioning looks. As Ron had destroyed all the poisonous scrolls the older boy had send, it was likely none of the older generation were aware of the full extent of his campaign against Harry.
'I'm truly sorry about the letters,' Percy said, the first hint of distress creeping into his voice and expression. 'I truly thought I was protecting my family. I'm sorry.'
Harry continued to glare for a few moments before deliberately relaxing his stance.
'I don't like you,' he said candidly. 'I think you're stuck up, judgement and often bloody cruel. You really don't appreciate the amazing family you have. I would prefer to never see you again.'
Harry stood firm, ignoring the disapproving look he was receiving from the headmaster and the flush of shame that had flooded Percy's face.
'I love your family more than I thought possible,' Harry continued with a quieter voice. 'I would do anything to keep them safe and for that reason I'm glad you're here. I accept your apology. It was really brave of you to come,' he admitted before taking a step forward and holding out his hand.
Percy released an explosive breath in relief and after a moment's pause took Harry's hand in his. The two shook firmly and then Harry walked away, leaving Percy with his brothers and sister. Hermione followed him and he smiled as she squeezed his arm in support.
Harry moved to where his two guardians were stood, blushing at the approval he saw in Severus's face. It was funny how he was starting to be able to read the man.
'What's this about letters Harry?' Remus asked quietly and Harry shook his head.
'It doesn't matter,' he answered. 'It's over and done with now. Just another thing that made the last few years pretty crap.'
Remus frowned, his expression sad as he regarded his charge and Severus laid a hand on his shoulder.
'We will be starting in a few minutes,' the Potions Master intoned softly. 'Do you need a few moments to calm down?
Harry shook his head. 'No, I'm O.K. I wasn't as mad as I pretended. I just don't want to be a doormat for anyone anymore. He had to know he had hurt me.'
Severus squeezed his shoulder and nodded to the headmaster who was beckoning them both over.
Harry pulled his notes from his pocket and smoothed them out before going over to the older man.
'Harry,' he said warmly. 'I know you were going to stand over one of the stones but I wondered if you would like to do the casting with me instead?'
Harry's eyes widened. 'I don't think I'm strong enough,' he admitted. 'I've never done anything like that before.'
Dumbledore and Severus exchanged amused looks at that.
'I don't think magical strength is a problem,' Severus said dryly and the headmaster chuckled.
'I will hold the magic Harry. What I would like you to do it speak the incantation. As your family, Severus can hold the stone where you placed your witch bottle.'
Harry couldn't help the smile that formed at that. His family! Today was a day all about family.
Harry nodded nervously and in response the headmaster held out a hand in a familiar position. Harry exchanged a nervous glance with each of his guardians and Hermione before laying his hand over the headmaster.
A swirl of air later and they were both perched on the roof of the burrow. Harry gasped at the view. From here the stones looked magnificent.
'Take a seat Harry,' the headmaster encouraged, conjuring a fluffy purple cushion for Harry to perch on. 'Take a few moments to attune to the land and the stones. You will find it helpful if you can see the currents of the spell.
Harry settled onto the cushion, pulling his backpack off his shoulders and tucking it beside him. He focused on his breathing, watching as the Weasleys' spread out and each stood before one of the stones. They covered nine of them, with Remus, Severus, Hermione and Professor Flitwick covering the other four.
It only took a few minutes for the energy around the stones to become clear to Harry and the glow seemed to light up the whole area. Harry nodded gently at the headmaster and the older man held out a hand to help Harry back to his feet.
Seeing the movement, the others all drew their wands and turned their attention to the two on the roof.
Harry pulled his own wand, realising belatedly that he had picked up the Elder Wand instead of his Holly one. The wand buzzed happily in his hand, a sense of anticipation radiating from the white wood.
'When you're ready, my boy,' the headmaster said softly and Harry took a shaky breath before quietly reading out the first incantation on his sheet.
A small spark of magic ignited before him and formed in a swirling ball, which the headmaster instantly caught with his wand, directing it up to hover above them.
The second line formed a small staff like line of power beneath the ball, connecting it to The Burrow's roof.
Dumbledore smiled at Harry and nodded that he should continue. Realising that only he and the headmaster could see the line and colours of the spell, Harry glanced back at Ron and gave him a thumbs up to indicate all was well.
The third line of the spell was the one that was meant to connect the energy to the first stone and Harry watched in fascination as the line of purple energy stretched out in an arch through the air to where Arthur stood. When it connected with the Weasley partiach's wand, the man jumped and changed position, holding his shaking wand tightly.
Arthur carefully guided his wand down to the stone and everyone gasped as the stone appeared to light up from within and the arch became visible. One by one, they cast the magic out from the central ball to each of the stones, until all thirteen were pulsing with magic.
Harry paused and looked back at Dumbledore who was now shaking with the effort of holding the 'anchor' to such powerful magic.
There was one bit of the spell left, which would complete the wards and set them permanently in place. This was the bit that needed conscious intent to set. Harry closed his eyes and concentrated on his desire to keep the Weasley family safe. He remembered the many happy meals he had shared here, all of the laughter and chaos and joy. He thought about all of the cracks in the building and furniture and everything that needed magical repair.
The Elder Wand seemed to warm in his hand and Harry became aware of the stone throbbing against his neck. He bent down and opened his rucksack, pulling the invisibility cloak from its depths and threw it around his shoulders.
Straightening up, he saw the headmaster watching him, his eyes bright and alert and he blushed under the scrutiny. Harry put his free hand to his throat and pulled the leather cover from the stone, allowing it to settle against his skin and then with a deep breath said the last line of the spell.
Power blazed from the elder wand, hitting the large ball of swirling magic in a shower of sparks. Dumbledore staggered a moment and Harry grabbed his arm to support, feeling as his and the headmasters magic combined with the conjured ball.
The magic shot out along the arcs to the stones and Albus released the anchor with a sigh of relief. They both watched in awe as the power pulsed down towards the stones and then started to form in smaller lines between the existing ones.
Like a spiders web, the ward formed one line at a time until there was a beautiful multi coloured dome covering the whole meadow. Looking down Harry could see a glow coming from the soil and realised the net extended down several feet into the foundations and ran under the entire property.
'Ah, I seem to have forgotten one small detail,' The headmaster admitted sheepishly.
Harry threw the man a questioning look and he chuckled.
'We have woven anti-apparition elements into the wards and we are on the roof,' the older man said with a smile and Harry rolled his eyes.
A movement caught their attention and Harry turned to find Severus gliding towards them on a broom, with two of the Weasley boys Cleansweep's tucked under his arm. He handed them over with a smirk and Harry sighed.
Once they were safely on the ground, the rest of the group joined them, all bouncing in excitement.
'It is beautiful!'
'Harry, that was amazing.'
'It's really high; we can still play Quidditch!'
Harry laughed at the last one. Trust Ron to be thinking about Quidditch even now.
'How long will it glow like that?' Remus asked quietly and the Headmaster answered with a smile. 'I expect it will last a few days. Once the wards are settled then they are pretty much invisible. They are however now fully active.' He turned back to face Harry.
'Very well done Harry.'
The whole group wandered back towards the house, chattering loudly and Harry grinned happily.
They entered the houses kitchen to find that every surface was glowing almost as brightly as the wards outside were. Remus picked up a glowing teacup curiously.
'Harry did you think about the building itself when you cast the final incantation?' the older man asked gently and Harry nodded.
'I thought about all of the household and repair charms and them not degrading over time.'
'My goodness,' Molly exclaimed excitably as she examined her shiny, new looking pots and pans. 'This is wonderful!'
She thundered over and pulled Harry into a big hug.
'Thank you Harry, thank you so much.' She squeezed him tightly before letting him go and allowing Arthur to draw her into his side.
Arthur smiled tearfully at his extended family and friends. 'Thank you all of you. It's a beautiful thing you have done for us.'
The chime on the floo interrupted the moment and Charlie moved away to answer it. He came back quickly, his face pale and the group quietened.
'That was Minerva,' he said quietly. 'One of the alarms in the forbidden forest has been activated.' There was a moment's pause before Dumbledore spoke soberly.
'We must return to Hogwarts. It has begun.'