A/N: New month, new chapter. Hope you enjoy, even if it's a little short...
When Lily returned from the Ministry, she had gone straight for the kitchen, taking the large mug of tea that Emily had been holding out without a word. It was only a couple minutes later, after Andromeda Tonks had returned herself, that she was able to speak.
"That bunch of dunderhead, inbred fools! People are dying, and they sit on their gold plated crap-pots and drone on about shit just to make themselves feel important!"
It had fallen to Harry to respond. "That good a meeting huh?"
"Well…" Amelia Bones had shrugged. "…we got my bill through. That's what counts."
Lily had snorted. "I'm actually starting to think that we ought to let Voldemort tear that… cesspit, apart. Save us the bother later."
The Tonks, Amelia, Lord Greengrass and Lily had then sat down to go over the meeting in detail; put together the trends, see who was pro-Voldemort, who was willing to take a stand against him and his ideology. There were, so far, depressingly few signs of the latter, and too many of the former. Harry sat with them, saying little but listening. He'd scowled a little when Lily had told him that some day he'd have to take his place in that body, but had heeded her advice and was paying attention.
From her seat off to the side, Hermione was watching him with a light frown on her face as she stroked Crookshanks gently. Watchers of Bond movies would have compared her pose to that of one of Bond's recurring villains, despite the obvious differences.
"What's on your mind Hermione?" Susan asked as she lifted her head from the back of a nearby chair. It was late, and they had all been busy during the day. McGonagall had visited and given all the teens an intense lesson in the practical applications of Transfiguration, with emphasis on its use in battle. Some of her examples had been… disturbing. Before she had left, Lily had thrown in ideas about how to use charms as well. They had spent most the afternoon and early evening practicing their spell work, trying to increase both the speed of casting and the rate. The goal was to reduce or remove the need for the complex wand motions with each spell, and to start casting non-verbally. So far none of them had achieved either.
"Just thinking…" Hermione murmured in response.
"When do you ever stop?" Daphne lightly teased.
Hermione just sighed. "It's just… I'm considering something Harry said yesterday morning."
"Ah…" Fleur drawled. "Was 'zhis before or aftez you 'played'?"
"Before. Not that 'that' matters…" Hermione turned to face the others, her serious expression causing them all to drop any sense of light banter.
"So what is it?" Tracy prompted, not as used to Hermione's ways as the others.
Sighing once more, Hermione decided to air her thoughts. "Harry's worried that he'll favour… well, me… over the rest of you."
"Perfectly natural." Daphne countered. "After all, you've got a history with him that we don't. We can't expect to be at the same level as you two are right away."
"But he's worried… and so am I, for that matter… that if he does favour me with his affections, you'll feel excluded, left out. And that's not fair." Hermione pressed on. "Without that contact, that chance to form your own bonds with him, you'd never reach the same level of… of… intimacy."
The other four considered this point for a moment. "True." Susan replied slowly. "There is so much more to him that what he appears."
"Oui. But 'ermione…" Fleur said softly. "No matter 'ow long it takes, I won't let 'im go." She looked into Hermione's eyes. "My… nature, won't allow him to slip away."
Daphne however was eyeing her carefully. "You've got an idea already, haven't you?"
Hermione blushed lightly. "Am I that obvious?"
"Not always." Susan smirked lightly. "But once one knows the signs…"
"Okay, I can accept that." Hermione breathed deeply. "We all agree that we all need equal time with him, to build our own relationships with him, right?" A round of nods answered her. "And we also need to build ones between ourselves too, correct?" More tentative nods answered, one or two sets of eyes glancing to the others, with several cheeks flushing a little.
"Right. Then I propose that we… take turns, in sharing his bad at night."
"Pardon?" Fleur asked quietly.
"We each spend one night a week with him each." Hermione explained. "During the day, we all show affection and care for him. If something happens, it happens." A blush suffused her face, but she ploughed on. "We also try to be more… intimate, with each other too. But on our nights with him, we each have uninterrupted time with Harry, with no others around."
"And the rest of us?" Tracy queried.
Hermione blushed. "I think we ought to use two of the private bedrooms for ourselves, two per room. Separate beds, for now, but later… maybe… share. If we want to."
They all considered this idea for a couple of minutes, each one looking at it from several angles, but finding no faults with at first look.
"So…" Daphne asked slowly. "How would this system work?"
"Well, say I spent Monday nights with Harry." Hermione started off. "Then, on Tuesday night you share his bed Daphne. Then Susan on Wednesday, Fleur Thursday, and Tracy Friday. As an example."
"What about ze weekend?" Fleur pressed.
"Well, I first thought that either Saturday or Sunday night could be a 'rest' night, where we all sleep separately." Hermione admitted. "Then I thought that it could also be a 'substitute' night. In case one of us, for one reason or another, misses out that week."
"That's one night in the weekend." Susan commented. "What of the other?" One red eyebrow rose questioningly.
"Ah… well…" Hermione's head tipped forwards a bit, her face beet red. "I was thinking… that we spend that night all together."
Silence was her answer for almost a minute.
"Wait. All six of us… in one bed?" Tracy asked in amazement.
"His bed's certainly big enough…" Daphne commented.
Susan chuckled. "Hoping for a weekly orgy Hermione?"
Hermione huffed. "Just say so if you wouldn't consider it."
"Oh, I wasn't saying that…" Susan said, her eyes meeting Fleur's as they both remembered how they had comforted Harry after Voldemort had struck back.
Tracy shifted uncomfortably. "I'm, uh… not sure I'm ready for that…"
Hermione smiled softly. "Don't worry. We'll not force you. I think the first few such nights will mainly be just us sleeping… just sleeping."
"Agreed. And I 'zhink 'zhat az she has not had a chance with him az yet, 'zhe next 'Lady Black' zhould be 'zhe first one, tonight." Fleur said knowingly as she looked at the younger woman. Tracy's eyes widened sharply.
"She's got a point Trace." Daphne said gently. "You will have to be intimate with him sooner or later."
"You don't have to do anything you don't want to." Hermione reassured the dark haired girl. "Harry will be a perfect gentleman."
Tracy looked between the four reassuring expressions around her before nodding nervously. "Okay…"
In one of the side rooms off the Grand Hall, two men sat back in the plush armchairs, tumblers of whiskey held in hand. Just to one side a large bowl, engraved with a multitude of runes on the side, rested on a low table. A shimmering glow came from within. Both men had looks of shock and horror etched into their faces, though the more muscular one was noticeably more shocked.
"I said it before and I'll say it again." Daniel Granger said softly. "Holy fuck! How the hell is that kid not a basket case by now?"
Remus sighed as he gulped down another shot of the whiskey. "I wish I knew. I know that he's resilient, and that he's gone though challenges and trials, but all that…" He waved his free hand towards the pensieve. "…I had no idea."
Daniel speared the care-worn man with a hard look. "That's something else that really bugs me. What the hell have the staff at that school of yours been doing all this time? Why did it fall to three pre-teens to save such a precious artefact? More to the point, how were those 'traps' supposed to stop a fully trained and experience wizard, when three kids with only a years teaching could breeze right through them? Are the staff idiots or just plain naïve?"
Remus had no ready answer for the former solider. Expressed like that, he had to agree that something was wrong. He frowned in thought. "I can tell you who laid which trap… and apart from Snape's potions riddle – which I hasten to add would have stumped nearly all magicals – and McGonagalls Chess set, those 'traps' were well below par for what the professors standard is. Though that Cerberus…" Remus shivered.
Daniel shivered too. "Yes… the giant three-headed bloodthirsty dog… that was only kept away from curious students by a locked door and a verbal warning! First rule when dealing with kids: Tell them not do something or go somewhere, and most will do it or go there, just to see why. How the hell is a school the most secure place in your world?"
Remus winced. Daniel's tone had been cutting and pointed. "I think it's more to do with whom is there. Dumbledore is very well respected, revered even, in the magical world. He's known for being one of the most powerful spell casters, but also one of the wisest. He's rumoured to be the only other wizard Voldemort fears."
Daniel snorted. "Well excuse me, but bollocks to that! That whiskered old fools got his head shoved so far up his arse he can taste his food again right after swallowing it!" He shook his head in disgust. "No wonder your world is so messed up. If he's the head of the premier teaching establishment…" After taking another sip of his whiskey his eyes fell onto the pensieve once more. "I don't like the way he avoided Harry's questions afterwards. Just gave him a metaphorical pat on the head and sent him home. A home…" Daniel speared Remus with another sharp look. "…Where he'd been abused and mistreated his whole life at.
Remus slumped in his seat. "I know. I failed him so much…" The grief and despair hung over him like a cloud.
"You trusted him to do right by Harry." Daniel said as gently as he could, no trace of recrimination in his voice. "You're not at fault for that. Hell, you were one of his best teachers. You gave him the ability to save himself and Hermione from those dementor things…"
A small smile touched Remus' mouth at the memory of teaching Harry the Patronus Charm, but then another memory from that year came forward. "I nearly killed him too. Or worse, turned him. Hermione too…"
"Remus! Enough with the pity party!" Daniel snapped. "You didn't! Yes, you have a monster in you…" Daniels tone softened. "…As do I." When Remus' eyes snapped up to look at him, Daniel nodded slowly. "I was… am a soldier. I've been trained to kill, quickly and efficiently. Drilled to the point where it becomes instinct and reflex. In a combat situation, my training and instinct takes over. I don't, I can't allow myself to consider that those I kill are fellow human beings. Make the kill, move on. It's only after the battle that the faces come back." Daniel's eyes were looking off into the distance, clearly remembering a past event.
"One time, I had to take out a sentry for a terrorist camp. He wasn't paying attention, but would have raised the alarm quickly enough. The guy was sat down, weapon resting next to him, as I crawled up behind him. As I looked over his shoulder, I saw that he was looking at a photo. I think it was his family. One woman, pretty. Three kids. The boy was cute. Two adorable looking little girls. They were all smiling for the camera. For a second, I froze.
"Then I cut his throat.
"I'll always remember… the shocked look on his face. The horror as he realised he was about to die. The grief as that photo fell from his fingers. I held him as he died, to ensure he couldn't raise the alarm. I could feel the life fade out of his body Remus." Daniel's eyes flickered shut for a moment before he refocused on the shocked werewolf. It had been a shock, finding out that this softly spoken, care worn man with the manners of a professor was a werewolf. It had taken Daniel a couple of days to reconcile this with the stories of werewolves he'd grown up with.
"I have to live with what I've done for my country Remus. You're fortunate, as you've not actually done anything when you change. I know, in detail, what I've done."
"How do you cope?" Remus asked quietly.
Daniel sighed. "By knowing that what I did was for the right reason. That man I spoke of? He was part of an extremist terrorist group. They were planning to enact an attack on London. From what we gathered after assaulting the camp, they were going to board several trains bound for London stations, with bags and cases packed with explosives, take control of them, and crash them full speed into several of London's stations. Kings Cross, Euston, Paddington, Liverpool Street… almost a dozen different stations, each packed with people. The crashes, and the resulting detonations of the explosives they'd brought, would have totally destroyed the stations and killed thousands. Britain's infrastructure would have been ruined. The sentry had not only a timetable for Kings Cross, but a detailed instruction manual for the Intercity high-speed trains that run out of there. He would have been of the suicide drivers, sitting behind the controls as the train crashed into the station at full speed."
Daniel allowed Remus time to imagine the devastation such an attack would have caused. Remus shivered before taking another gulp of whiskey.
Daniel nodded slowly, before moving on. "What concerns me is that despite the horrors that Harry has faced, there's been no real support from any adults in his life. I know… you were driven away for the forth year, and didn't know about his life before now, but I'm referring to the teachers. They are supposed to look after and protect the children in their care! Dumbledore had fifty years to figure out something that my niece did in a few months! And what did he do after the first spat of attacks? To my eyes, nothing! I can understand not wanting to take on an eighty-foot snake…" Daniel shivered as the image of that monstrous snake appeared in his mind once more. "… But he could have done something to ensure that it would never threaten the pupils again! Instead, it appears it was a case of 'out of sight, out of mind' with him." A frown marred his brow. "In fact, when you boil it down, the only real support Harry's had through the years has been Hermione."
Remus chuckled lightly. "I saw it when I was teaching. Those two were together, even then. They just didn't realise it."
Daniel smiled lightly. "The blindness of youth."
The moment of levity faded, and both men's expressions turned grim. "So what now?" Remus asked quietly.
"Now? We train their bodies, harden their minds." Daniel stated firmly. "Harry's remarkably well adjusted, but I fear he's putting up a front, likely without realising he's doing it. I'd want to have him talk to a shrink, someone who specialises in Post Traumatic Stress. But I doubt there's anyone qualified who knows about the magical world. He's going to need his head screwed on straight when he faces that Voldemort guy again."
Remus cringed slightly at the name, but agreed. "Considering his power and skill, Harry's going to need every advantage we can give him."
Daniel looked back at him. "Honestly? I feel that just having his family around him is what he really needed. A reason to fight. Dumbledore appears to have been moulding him to have reasons to die, and take Voldemort with him. Being willing to lay down one's life for a cause is noble, but it's far better to make the other guy lay down his life for his cause. If he's got something to come back to, a life with… Hermione… and the others, then he'll try that bit harder, force himself to keep going. He needs hope."
Remus smiled warmly, the first time he'd done so that evening. "I think that Hermione and the others are already on the case with that…"
Harry was just about to remove his glasses that night when there was a tentative knock on the bedroom door. Expecting Daphne or Hermione again, he was surprised when he saw it was Tracy. The dark haired witch was wearing a dark coloured dressing gown, highlighting the paleness of her face. "Uh, hi Tracy. Not to be blunt, but..."
"What am I doing here?" Tracy finished for him as she closed the door behind her. "Blame you're first wife to be." She frowned slightly. "And your pet veela."
"Hermione?" Harry asked, frowning lightly at her description of Fleur.
"Yes." Tracy sat on the edge of the bed. "This is her answer to your concern about favouring her with your affections."
As they sat for a moment, Harry saw that her expression was a mixture of apprehension and fear. It was a moment before he understood the root of these emotions. After her experiences in the Slytherin Dorms, it was understandable that she would be reluctant, even afraid, to be close with a boy alone.
"We don't have to... you know..."
Tracy smiled slightly, her features relaxing a little. "She said the same thing."
Harry smiled in reply as he leaned back against the headboard. "So Hermione's idea is for each of you to take turns?"
"More or less." Tracy said shrugging, deciding not to mention the second half of the idea just yet.
They sat like that for almost a minute, silent as they both thought on their situation. Tracy was understandably reluctant and nervous to proceed, to make that first step towards intimacy. Harry, for his part, was determined not to pressure her. He felt that the others had been forced, for one reason or another, to be with him.
Finally however, Tracy's discomfort over the situation overcame her nerves. "Oh to hell with it!" she muttered standing up.
For a moment Harry thought that she'd decided not to go through with it, but his thoughts stilled when she undid the sash to her gown. As it fell off her shoulders it revealed an expanse of pale skin. Her upper back was almost totally bare, only marred by the thin straps running over her shoulders. The back dropped to just about her waist. As she turned he vaguely noted that the lower half of the nightdress fell from her hips to her feet in straight folds, but most of his attention was on her torso. In contrast to the back half, the front was quite demure, with a modest neckline that covered any hint of cleavage. The material was dark, but slightly transparent, hinting at the curves underneath. One part of his mind noted that Tracy was not as well-endowed as the other women around him, yet the slimmer figure seemed to suit her better.
Lifting his gaze to her face, he saw that her expression was nothing like what he'd seen of it at Hogwarts. There, she'd often sported one of mild disgust, if not contempt. It had been cold, hard-edged and dark. Here and now though, her feminine side was clearer. Her expression was nervous, even bashful. Dark eyes looked back at him, clearly seeking approval.
Smiling a little nervously Harry pulled back the corner of the cover, an open invitation for her.
Her features relaxed a little, before Tracy climbed in. The hem of her dress rose up a bit as she slid one leg under the covers, sliding up a lean but sleek calf. Flipping the duvet back Harry shifted across a little give her room to get settled. After a few moments wiggling and shifting, Tracy lay on her side facing him across the bed.
Silence fell again. "This is awkward." Tracy commented, prompting a small laugh from Harry.
"It is a big step for us isn't it?"
Tracy snorted. "Yeah." Harry was pleased to see her relax some more with his rather lame joke. Suddenly she laughed lightly. "You know, I would never have thought that you'd have a place like this Harry. You're so... meek, at school."
Harry flushed a bit. "Didn't know about here till this summer..." At her look of confusion, Harry started to talk softly about the summer so far.
For the next couple of hours the two talked quietly, speaking of their experiences both at home and at Hogwarts. Tracy provided another view into the activities within the Slytherin Dorm, as well as a wider view of the school itself. She was more of an observer, preferring to keep quiet and watch than be in the middle of things. Harry skimmed over his adventures, only focusing on points dear to him, such as Sirius' innocence in everything he had been accused with.
Harry was mildly surprised to find that he could talk about Sirius without the ache of his loss crippling him. It was still there, but the intensity was reduced. A tear still formed in his eye, but his voice didn't falter. Tracy, moved by the story of one man's dedication to right his mistake, felt for Harry, wishing she had had the chance to meet this man-child. Moving softly, she gently hugged him, offering comfort.
Tracy in return talked about her family. The strained relationship she had with her father, the distant one with her older half-brother Roger. While yes her father could be downright scary, even pigheaded, about certain subjects, she had always known, deep down, that he did love her.
Even if he had trouble showing it most of the time.
As they lay there, arms around each other, Tracy found that once she got past the initial feelings of unease she had when they first hugged, she found herself relaxing into his embrace. She felt so... safe, protected, within his arms. Tracy smiled as she felt his breathing deepen and slow, her own eyes closing inexorably.
She could very easily come to enjoy this.
Lily Potter smiled darkly as she set the phone down the next morning, well pleased. 'Vengeance is mine, so sayeth the lord...' She thought.
DCI Barstow had phoned just after Daniel had taken the youngsters out for their first morning run around the manor grounds. He'd called to update them on the Dursley case. All four were now behind bars, awaiting trial. In addition, every member of Dudley's gang were with them.
Marge and Vernon would never see freedom again, he predicted. Their charge sheets were as long as his arm... and each crime had multiple counts. Petunia's was only half as long, but her crimes were in some ways worse. Dudley's was nearly as long as his fathers and aunts, and still growing. It seemed that every single member of his gang thought they would get away without punishment by squealing on all the others, making out that they had been forced to go with them. None of them were aware how they were ratting each other out.
He did warn her however that while they were almost certain to get convictions on the abuse, neglect and assault charges, the fraud ones were less certain. He suspected their lawyer would argue that as no contract was signed, the Dursleys would be better classed as squatters in Privet Drive. And the current law stated that if squatters stayed in one place long enough, they were considered the owners of said location. The Dursleys had lived in Privet Drive more than long enough to do so. The payments for Harry's care and upkeep was also on shaky ground. Again, no signed contract, just an implied acceptance. As such, the funds could be considered gifts, and thus not fraud. Instead, the one who set up the payments would be the one liable. Of course, if they were convicted of their other crimes, then they would have to leave the house anyway, likely making the point moot.
Lily however, knew that Gringott's would view things a mite differently. Honour was most important to the Goblins, and the Dursley's actions smacked of dishonour. As did Dumbledore's, who'd been the one to set everything up.
No, they would not get away with what they did to her son.
Still smiling, she stepped out the front door, Emily behind carrying a tray with glasses of chilled water. The scene before them made her smile turn indulgent, while Emily's smile was mischievous.
The runners were gathered on the grass in the centre of the drive area, but that was all the linked them. Daniel Granger was the only one stood upright, slightly apart from the others. Also unlike them he wasn't panting for breath. In fact the only sign that he'd been jogging around the manor grounds several times was the light sheen of sweat across his bare arms, which only helped define the muscles in them.
In contrast, Remus sat on the grass, panting heavily, elbows on his knees. Tonks was sprawled out besides him, gasping for breath. With her metamorphic abilities, she was able to take vast gulps of air.
Of the teens, only Susan was still on her feet, and even then just barely. Her hands were pressed against her knees as she gasped for breath, her hair hanging limply around her head in sweaty clumps. The others were sprawled out on the grass, panting heavily, their sweat soaked clothes clinging to their bodies. Hermione looked like she'd almost passed out.
As Emily started to hand out the glasses, Lily stepped up next to Daniel. "How much did you do?"
"Three times around... just under two miles." He replied casually. "Easy warm up."
"EASY?" Daphne gasped from the ground. "You... call that... easy?"
Daniel fixed a hard look on her. "Yes, it was easy. I had to do twenty mile runs while training... and that was while carrying sixty pounds worth of combat gear." His expression turned to one of contemplation. "Then afterwards, several hours of combat training."
"Okay, we get. You're super fit." Tracy snapped back. "You're going easy on us. But give us a break here!"
Daniel looked coldly back. "Would those Death Eater scum go easy on you?"
Silence was his answer.
Having made his point, Daniel turned back to face Lily. "I'll leave them in your care for the rest of the morning Mrs Potter. Now, if you'll excuse me…" As he turned she saw his eyes drifted and linger somewhere behind her for a moment before he completed his turn and started a brisk job. Frowning lightly, Lily looked over her shoulder… to see Narcissa Black stood on the top step, her eyes following the ex-solider.
'Narcissa and a muggle? Who could have predicted that?'
Deciding to not interfere, she turned to face the teens again, who were mostly sat up now, though they all still looked exhausted. After taking a swig from his glass, Harry looked up at her. "So what's the lesson today mum?" he asked, a small frown as he took in her dress. Instead of her usual smart-casual trousers and blouses, Lily had a worn pair of jeans, along with a simple t-shirt. Both had a few frayed edges, and had dark stains here and there…
Lily smiled. "I thought we'd do something fun today, before the nastiness we expect this evening." They all knew they were referring to the Order Meeting that was to happen later, which Lily, Harry and Hermione would attend. They also intended to bring several of the others with them into the meeting, such as Neville, Susan and Daphne. Fleur was already a member, while Tracy would tag along to tour the Black Family home. Both Harry and Hermione had warned her about the place, but admired her determination to see for herself.
"Oh, what do intend?" That one of the twins: Harry had lost track which was which… again.
"I vote for a water fight Forge." The other spoke up.
The first brightened. "Great idea brother of mine!"
"We all cool down…"
"…Have some fun…"
"…And be right perverts!" Susan cut in, looking sharply at the pair. They looked back at her with wounded expressions.
"Really, fair Miss Bones, you wound us."
"We're just thinking about…"
"…what's best for everyone."
Fleur snorted. "You are zhinking only of getting us all zoaking wet." She glanced down at her body. The lightweight top she'd picked out was clinging to her skin, outlining her figure very well. The other girls were in a similar situation, the wet clothing becoming figure hugging.
After a moment, during which the twins grinned salaciously – though Lily was able to tell that they were deliberately overdoing it, making a joke of it – Daphne smirked. "Well, we know the answer to that now, don't we girls?"
Hermione nodded. "A blast of ice cold water right to the crotch." At the twins cringe, she smirked. "Or would you rather a foot?"
Harry winced as the twins blanched, and Neville whimpered. Hannah, seeing his reaction, snuggled against his side to whisper into his ear. "I wouldn't if you only looked at me." Neville wasn't sure how to react after that.
Chuckling, Lily shook her head. "Now lets all simmer down. You can all play later. Besides, I had other plans." Turning she briskly walked over to the garage, allowing the keys to drop to the ends of her fingers as she did. The teens all staggered up right, Harry offering a hand to each of his future wives, before they followed her.
Opening the door again, Lily sighed as she looked over the Stag within. Pushing the nostalgia back, she pulled her wand from her back pocket before giving it a flick towards the car. Slowly, almost reluctantly, it rose into the air. Focusing, Lily slowly stepped backwards, the car following as if tethered to her wand. Emily, having followed with the tray which had refilled each glass of water, quickly set the tray down before moving to the rear of the garage. She came back out with a pair of axle supports. Harry, seeing them, quickly copied her actions, bringing out a second set.
A tiny bead of sweat ran down Lily's brow as she focused on keeping her car raised up, in the middle of a clear space, as Emily opened up each support and positioned it under the car, just inside each wheel. At her nod Lily lowered the car down onto them, Emily adjusting the position of the supports slightly as the car settled a foot off the ground. Ending the spell Lily breathed deeply. Turning to face the kids she saw the looks of bewilderment on some of their faces. "It's not widely accepted by society, but the power needed to use the hovering charm on objects is proportional to their weight. Most everyday objects are negligible, but particularly heavy objects…" She waved her hand at the Triumph that now rested on the axle supports. "…are very draining."
"How heavy is it?" Tracy asked curiously.
Lily smiled. "Just under one and a half tons." The twins leaped back from where they had been crouching down besides the car, peering up at the underneath. Their reaction brought laughter from them all. "Oh don't worry. Those axle supports can take twice as much weight no problem."
Harry had a look of realisation on his face. "Are you going to show us what Dad did to this?" He asked eagerly.
Lily laughed. "Right in one Harry. It's a perfect example of practical rune based charms and conjuration…"
The next four hours were spent happily, as Lily showed them all the runes curved into the bodywork and parts of the car, just like James had shown her all those years ago. Some of the runic work had been done by her, in collaboration with Remus and even Sirius during their last year at Hogwarts. At the time the Marauders had been using the work on Sirius' motorcycle. In the years after, the three of them had refined the work and applied it to the car, for her. He'd felt that as she'd put so much of the initial work into the creation of these runic systems, she deserved to reap the rewards.
Hermione was in awe at the way the runes had been used to enchant the car. The brakes had runes to improve their performance, cooling charms were bound into the engine itself, while all the electrical cables were wrapped in a layer of dragon hide. It was hard to see one, but Lily assured them that each body panel had strengthening runes carved into the inner faces, making the car much more resilient to damage. Not that wasn't a tank to begin with. Much of the weight came from the bracing needed with the open topped design. Even a non-enhanced car would have been tough, robust. The most shocking enchantment done however was in the rear. The exhausts had banishing runes engraved deep within, virtually eliminating all the exhaust fumes. This car was cleaner than the most recent designs! But what really took the cake were the runes that were, according to Lily, were engraved into the upper surface of the fuel tanks interior. Conjuration charms were bound into the arrays, creating the fuel needed for the car's thirsty V8 engine. Hermione didn't know that petrol could be conjured! Why, with those charms the Stage before her would never need refuelling!
Not all the changes were hidden away. The interior had been redone with various dragon hides, again with runes on the inner surfaces to increase the durability of the hides. Controllable heating charms were bound into the seats. The three Marauders had gone over every inch of the car and improved nearly every function… an impressive feat, given that all three had been at least half-blooded with very little interaction with the muggle world growing up.
When Fred – or had it been George? – had compared the Stag with their dad's Ford Anglia, Lily had smiled before telling them that while Arthur's car had been able to do something the Stag couldn't, fly, her car had its own array of tricks. James had been inspired by James Bond's DB9 after seeing it at a movie she had dragged him to see, and had tried to create their own version. The strengthening charms helped the car's skin resist spell fire, while a powerful, layered shield charm protected the occupants within. Lastly, the Stag had an invisibility mode, which also triggered a silencing ward that contained the car. It had been perfect for staking out an area during their war, though he and Lily had only had a chance to do so twice before they had been forced to go into hiding.
As well as learning about the spell and charm work that had gone into the car, the teens also learned about the regular maintenance and general operation of the, at first look by some of them, fiendishly complicated machine. Harry understood the stains on his mums clothing then… especially when her hands came away with oil on them after explaining one part of the engine and she'd wiped it off against her jeans.
When they went back in for lunch, the teens were dirty and sweaty, with grease and oil marks on them, but they all knew that their world had been expanded and enriched. They had seen just how the two worlds, magical and muggle, could be combined to create something greater.
Hermione sat down gently next to Harry. "You okay?"
Harry breathed deeply. "Honestly? No, not really." He sighed once more. "But I have to do this."
"Just remember Harry…" Susan said softly as she and the other young witches gathered around the seated couple. "…We're all here for you."
Harry looked up into the circle of faces, each and every one of them showing their concern – and love – for him. While the rolling in his gut was still there, it was muted, softened. He nodded, summoning a small smile, as Remus emerged from a side room. Moving up he held out an old hula hoop. Quickly other hands clasped it, ready and waiting.
Nearly everyone was going on this trip. Remus and Tonks had to go anyway, and Fleur was also be there as an Order member too. Harry owned the house, while Hermione, Susan and Daphne would not leave his side. Lily had been a former member, while Tracy was to be the Lady Black. She was determined to inspect her future abode. Harry and Hermione had warned her several times about the place, but she was undaunted. Both of them were pleased at her courage.
The last three hands were Fred, Georges and Daniels. The twins were determined to join the order, as they were of age and ready to be involved. Daniel Granger however was coming along because he wanted to have a 'few words' with a certain long-bearded Headmaster.
"All set?" Remus asked. At the round of nods, he tapped his wand to the hoop. In a flash of colour they vanished with the portkey.
Lily barely remembered the trick to landing right, and stumbled a bit when she arrived. Remus and Tonks landed simply, while the twins staggered badly, only prevented from falling over by the fact they had latched onto each other. Fleur seemed to almost glide down, settling down with grace. Susan and Daphne almost stayed upright, but Harry and Hermione caught them both as they fell, bringing all four down into a heap. Tracy landed heavily to one, while Daniel Granger didn't even try to land on his feet, instead allowing his body to tumble, turning it into a roll before standing fluidly, eyes sweeping the area around them instinctively.
Once Harry was free of the others, he too looked around. The square was as dirty and run down as he remembered. While the sun was still high, the ground was still shadow from the buildings.
"Rough looking area…" Daniel murmured.
"Reflects the 'traditional' Black Family." Tonks threw back.
"One, I hope, will remain in the past." Harry said as he looked at Tracy knowingly. She blushed lightly but stuck her tongue out in response. Smiling, he reached into a pocket and drew out the note from the Headmaster. Unfolding it, he held it up.
As before, the house seemed to force its neighbours aside as it formed. Harry felt his gut lurch once more as he looked upon the building.
Number 12 Grimmuald Place.