Important! I have gone through this story making adjustments here and there, I doubt I got every spelling and grammar mistake corrected, but it should be an improvement over the previous model. The only significant alteration I can think of that I made is that the character Rebecca Clearwater is now called Ruth Clearwater.
Also I am removing the old ANs. Most of them will be replaced with nothing but there will be a few minor ones put in, such as dedications thanking those who answered my polls on Emma's Wand and whether Luna should be in Gryffindor or Ravenclaw.
I'm also going to try and cut down (cut out if possible) on AN's so when the chapter after this one is published, this AN will likely be removed.
I am also changing the Summary as it no longer, in my opinion represents the nature of this story.
By the way one of my reviewers suggested I clarify this. As you may have noticed I have named Demelza's little sister Eilidh. Eilidh is a Scottish name (hence the dodgy spelling). I explained it to them that the name is pronounce "Aylee" or if you prefer "Kaylee" only without the "K". It is a name I am very fond of, I have no idea why. Just in case any of you are in doubt Eilidh is a witch and this is going to be in the chapter.
Missed by the Ministry
"Uncle Vernon?" said Emma sweetly. "Harry and I have a small proposition for you."
Vernon turned to glare at the pair of them, asides from his general dislike of them they were interrupting his brandy with a newspaper time.
"Anyway." Said Emma "I take it you still want to have your sister round before the summer is out?"
"Are you saying you'll have this dratted curse lifted?" said Vernon.
"Of course not." Said Harry. "But if we left to stay at a friend's house, so long as you stayed out of our room, there will be nothing to set the curse off. Let's face it, none of you can last a day here without turning, and that's with Marge not around."
Vernon processed that thought. "What do the two of you get out of this?"
"At Hogwarts, there is a magical village that we can visit from our Third Year onwards." Said Harry "But we need a signature from a parent or guardian."
"And you want me to sign this?" Sneered Vernon.
"Or Petunia if you prefer." Said Emma.
Vernon seemed thoughtful.
"I tell you what." Said Harry "If you also sign a letter stating that Emma can go to the village from next year as well, we'll make whatever you want for dinner tonight and be gone before lunch tomorrow."
That clinched it, like Dudley, Vernon's weakest link was his stomach.
"Alright." He grumbled "Where do I sign?"
"I'll get the permission slip." Said Harry. "We'll write up a letter later."
"That was brilliant Emma." Said Harry.
"Not as brilliant as your idea to sign this letter. Now I don't have to worry about getting my form signed next year. I can just keep the letter in my trunk and hand it in when the time comes." Said Emma hugging her brother.
Harry and Emma spent the rest of the afternoon packing up their trunks.
"We are definitely going to have to buy some new trunks when we do our shopping." Said Harry.
"Yeah, even without the Lockhart books, this is pretty full." Said Emma "Besides I'm running out of Potions Books to read. I want more.
Harry laughed. "I'd tell you, you're obsessed but that would be a little hypocritical."
Emma smiled "Do you think you'll be teaching us like you did last year?"
"Don't know." Said Harry "We'll still have duelling sessions, but if we have a good Defence teacher this year then no I won't."
"That's reasonable." Agreed Emma.
"I want you all at the levels you're supposed to be." Said Harry. "Because of Quirrell and Lockhart, everyone is behind on their Defence performances, but I want you to end this year as if you've had two good teachers in the subject. We both know that one of them was no good but the guy we have this year might make up for that."
"True." Agreed Emma. "Also, you know what?"
"He might be a she."
"Right." Said Emma talking to Petunia "I've left instructions on how long to cook the stuff for and I've also marked the boxes on whether or not they can feed more than the three of you."
Petunia glared down at her niece.
"You're welcome." Said Emma, not even caring about the animosity between the Potters and the Dursleys anymore. She carried a plateful of toast to the table and split it with her brother.
In the meantime Vernon twitched on the brand new television that he'd bought after Dudley complained about the long trek between the fridge and the living room.
Welcome to the BBC News Breakfast Program. Our top story: the Prime Minister has issued a nationwide plea for information on an escaped mass-murderer. Sirius Black, convicted over ten years ago for the mass-murderer of thirteen innocent people, escaped from a high-security prison one week ago. The Public is warned that Black is armed and dangerous and that he should not be approached. A special hotline has been set up and the authorities urge members of the public who have any information that could lead to the arrest of this dangerous individual to please dial the number on screen.
"Before we go, do any of you have any questions for us?" said Harry.
The three Dursleys simply glared at him.
"Super." Said Emma. "Well we'll see you all in a year." And with that, both Potters went out the door. Unaware of the problems they were about to cause the magical world.
"Ah good you're both here." Said Mr Creevey.
Harry and Emma walked into the house and slipped off their shoes.
"Harry we have you sharing with Colin, Emma you're in the spare room with Demelza but I'm afraid you'll have to wait a little while." Said Mr Creevey.
Before he could clarify further, his wife came downstairs. "I think she'll be out most of the day. Harry, Emma you're here good. Emma can you just leave your trunk in the hall for now. Demelza is sound asleep."
"Is she alright?" said Emma.
"She'll be fine. But she hasn't slept on a proper bed in over a month, so it's best not to disturb her. Her brother is really very sweet to look after her like that, but that flat is not a place for twelve-year-old girl to live in." said Mrs Creevey.
While Harry and Emma settled in, Demelza slept past lunch and into the mid-afternoon. There wasn't much in the way of settling to be done, Harry and Emma had been round so often that it wasn't really an issue.
A few hours before dinner, the Potter and Creevey offspring were in the process of examining the book Hagrid had sent Harry for his birthday.
"The Monster Book of Monsters?" said Dennis. "How're you supposed to read it?"
"Well it's basically like a living creature." Said Harry "Theoretically I could just stun it but…"
"Can't do magic out of school." Said Emma.
"We could try electrocuting it." Said Colin.
"How?" said Harry.
The older Creevey looked taken aback by the question "Um… Actually I don't know how."
"In any case I have contributed enough to your parents energy bills as it is." Said Emma, thinking of the mana on the hob. "We could try beating it."
"That's essentially what I've been doing. It took that much just to get the belt around it." Said Harry.
"Maybe it needs a less violent approach." Said Emma. "Let's try tickling it."
Tickling the book did have an effect, it started growling louder and more it's struggling became more erratic, so they still didn't dare open it.
"We could always try drowning it." Said Colin.
"No. It's still a book, doing that might mess up the ink." Said Harry.
"So what do we do?" said Emma frustrated.
There was silence for a few moments, then "Mario Kart?" said Colin.
The others agreed, a little later Demelza wandered down and found them racing and inflicting pain on one another (in an artificial context of course).
"Hey Demelza, how're you feeling." Said Emma. Racing stopped as everyone turned to look at her. She looked distinctly better than she had since they left Hogwarts.
"Oh I just forgot what sleeping in a real bed felt like." Said Demelza, yawning.
"Do you want to take over?" said Dennis holding up a controller.
"No that's alright, let me wake up a bit more first." She yawned.
After a few minutes Mrs Creevey looked in on them. "Oh Demelza you're up, good. Let me take a look at you."
"What?" said Demelza in surprise.
But Mrs Creevey had gone into nurse mode (or perhaps mother mode) and was now handling and prodding her face.
"You seem much healthier than I've seen you so far." She said approvingly. "Tea won't be for a couple of hours, but I want you to eat a piece of fruit." She indicated the bowls on the living room coffee table.
"Uh… sure, thanks." Said Demelza.
"Emma?" said Demelza. It was now night time and the girls were each lying on a bed in the Creevey's spare room.
"You had to ask for help last year? When your relatives…"
"I don't know if you can say that." Said Emma. "Help sort of came to us. We were sprung unceremoniously out of Privet Drive and to the Burrow. We probably would never have said anything if the Weasleys hadn't coaxed it out of us."
"Katy said…" began Demelza "Katy said that it wasn't healthy for me to be staying in a one bedroom flat with my brother. But if things at home don't improve, she's offered to let me stay here."
"Do you think things will improve?" said Emma.
"I… I don't know." Said Demelza frustrated. "I thought that by last Christmas they would have grown to accept it, then after that I thought by this summer, now… I just don't know. What should I do?"
Emma looked thoughtful. "I'm not sure I can help. Harry and I rectified our relationship with our relatives by concluding that we can never get on with them and had additional magical protection erected to keep them from harming us. I don't think things have become that hopeless in your case."
"I wish I shared your optimism." Said Demelza. "I want things to be alright with my parents… but… but…"
"You can't. Not while they refuse to try and see things from your point of view." Said Emma.
"But what am I supposed to do?" said Demelza.
"Nothing." Said Emma. "The problem isn't you, all you did was choose a different school from theirs. From what you've told me of the place, no one can blame you for that. It sounds so Victorian. The only thing you can do at this stage is wait for them."
"To do what?" said Demelza.
"Reach out to you. You aren't the problem, they are. At this stage you've come home twice and you've had to leave early each time after your father hurt you. I suggest that until they reach out to you, you don't go home."
"Don't go home? But where…" began Demelza.
"You can stay at Hogwarts during the Christmas and Easter Holidays. Mrs Creevey said you could stay here, maybe you should take her offer up." Said Emma.
"Did the Weasleys ever offer to let you stay with them?" asked Demelza.
"They did. The only thing that keeps Harry and me at Privet Drive for some of the summer is Blood Wards. If it weren't for them, then we would probably have taken their offer up." Said Emma.
"I… I don't know. I mean I'm very grateful she's offering but…"
"You're not ready to run away from home." Said Emma. "Tell Katy that. She'll understand. Spend this Christmas and Easter at Hogwarts, with Harry and me."
"Should I still write to my parents?" said Demelza.
"Write them one single letter. Tell them that you're not coming home until they're willing to at least talk with you." Said Emma. "And I'm mean talk, not just say 'I am your father and you shall do what I say' kinda thing."
Demelza sighed "How do you know all this?"
"I've known for a long time the Dursleys don't care about me or Harry. I never knew why they despised us so much. I could never blame Harry, he was my wonderful big brother this could never have been his fault. I sometimes blamed myself. But Harry must have sensed whenever I was unhappy. He always knew how to take care of me and he always did everything he could for me, even if it wasn't much. After Hagrid came to see Harry, I realised that neither my brother nor I were at fault. It was my aunt and uncle."
"What about your cousin?" said Demelza.
"He is a deplorable by-product of Vernon and Petunia, he is also their fault. Anyway, while Hagrid and Harry were out shopping, I made a decision not to care about the Dursleys, if the relationship between them and us was ever going to change, they would have to make the first move."
"Did you ever want you, Harry and them to be…" Demelza trailed off, but Emma knew what she was asking.
"I would like the first ten years of my life to never have happened." Admitted Emma. "I still don't like thinking about them, but that actually has more to do with what happened during those three hundred days than anything else. The secrets by that stage were out, Harry was off to Hogwarts and I was to follow him a year later but first I had to endure our time apart. It was horrible. The Dursleys did absolutely nothing but complain about my continued presence and my only regular source of comfort was Hedwig and the letters she brought from Harry. During that time they said some very hurtful and demeaning things to me and I don't think I'll ever forgive them."
"I never knew things were so bad for you." Said Demelza.
"I got over it eventually. First the three hundred days ended, then Ron and his twin brothers got us out of Surry and I got to meet Ginny. The Weasleys took us in and actually showed us that there were people who actually cared about us. Then I met Luna, then Colin, then you, then Natalie and Vicky, then Geoffrey and finally Neville. I'll never be able to tell any of you how good it felt to finally have that feeling of care." Said Emma.
Demelza sighed. "Emma, I really mean no offence but… I don't want to be estranged from my parents forever. What if they never want to speak to me again?"
"Then drop out of Hogwarts and attend this school in Wales." Said Emma.
"No way, I'm not going to become a Victorian housewife." Said Demelza indignantly.
"That's the only sure way to appease your parents." Said Emma.
"But I want to go to Hogwarts, I want to learn magic and use it in everyday life. It's part of who I am."
"Then you have to trust that one day your parents will understand. It may take time, and there may be some tears and sleepless nights ahead but you have to believe that they will understand one day. The day you give up, there shall be no hope for your relationship. Right now, my relatives suffer in the very presence of me or my brother. They do this because the alternative is for us to suffer. I don't feel the least bit sorry for them and that bothers me, that I am so vindictive. Right now you care that your parents' views are in contradiction with your own, the second you stop caring. There is nothing more you can do."
"But what if they never accept my decision?" said Demelza
"You have two choices: drop out of Hogwarts and go to this Welsh school or stay at Hogwarts, against their wishes, and risk permanently damaging your relationship with them beyond repair in the hope that you can eventually reconcile at some point. You've already expressed your dislike for Victorian 'we have nae boys' School, so my advice is to trust in the decision you've made and hope that your parents make the move. You have to believe."
"I have to believe." repeated Demelza sullenly.
"Demelza." said Emma.
"Just know that whatever happens you always still have us. After last year at Hogwarts, you're not getting rid of any of us that easily. You'll always have your Hogwarts family."
"Thanks." Said Demelza. "Can we try and forget my family trouble this summer. It hasn't been that much of a holiday so far, mainly just cleaning my brother's flat."
"Alright. But you still need to talk to Mrs Creevey in the morning." Said Emma.
"Yes Mum." Said Demelza.
Emma chuckled "I think we should sleep now. Night."
Now that none of them had to worry about making it home at the end of the day; Emma, Harry and Demelza starting to spend more time with Colin, and Dennis sometimes to, going out. The day after they arrived, Katy took them all back to York to buy, amongst other things, Swimsuits.
However when they got to the local pool in Hepton, Harry and Emma were immediately disadvantaged.
"You've never swam before?" said Demelza. "Well I suppose we'd best give you a crash course."
"Is it hard?" asked Harry looking at the water.
"Nah, you can stay above water mainly by moving your arms and legs about." Said Dennis.
While Harry and Emma were easily able to keep themselves from drowning, any attempts at actual swimming produced clumsy results.
"You'll get used to it eventually." Said Colin. "Though maybe you should try and get some lessons next summer."
"It's a shame there are no pools in Hogwarts." Said Emma "This feels nice."
"There might be one." Said Harry "We just need to find it."
"Wouldn't someone have found one by now if there was one?" said Emma.
"People said similar things about the Chamber of Secrets." Said Demelza. "And look how that turned out."
"Yeah but still." Said Emma.
"I hope there is something." Said Colin. "Then we can all go swimming, the others too."
As time passed, Harry and the others spent most of their time either going out swimming, congregating in either Hepton or York or else spending time indoors going over homework or playing video games on the Creevey's Nintendo.
Two weeks before it was time to go back to Hogwarts, Emma received a letter.
"It's from Luna." She said happily. "She's back in the country and wants to know if we've done our shopping yet?"
"Actually when are we going to do our shopping?" said Harry.
"Well since Colin and I need to go down and spend a night in London for the train anyway, I thought we'd head down and stay in London for a couple of days before the Express leaves." Said Mrs Creevey.
"Where would we stay over?" said Harry.
"Last time we were in a hotel near Kings Cross, but this time we'll probably need to stay in a hotel near this Diagon Alley." Said Mrs Creevey. "Last time, Mr Hagrid arranged train tickets and met us in London, but it was incredibly hectic and we didn't get much time to wander around."
"We could probably stay at the Leaky Cauldron." Said Harry. "I can write ahead and ask to reserve some rooms. We do our shopping, sleep over there and then take the Underground or a taxi over to Kings Cross."
Katy liked the idea. "That's not a bad plan Harry, would you mind doing that?"
"Not at all." Said Harry.
"Also Emma, ask Luna if she wants to join in our plans."
Emma sent her letter to Luna explaining what when they planned to do their shopping and invited her to join them.
"Can I please come?" said Dennis desperately.
"No." said Mrs Creevey. "I'm sorry, but I am not letting you miss school just so you can go to London."
"Come on Mum." Pleaded Colin on behalf of his brother.
"No. You'll get to Hogwarts soon enough. You'll also get to go shopping soon enough."
The day had finally arrived.
"By the way." Said Harry "Ron and Hermione are also staying at the Leaky tomorrow night. All the Weasleys are. Neville is apparently also going to be there later today, but he's not staying over."
"That's good." Said Emma, "We owe Neville a new wand."
"What about the others?" said Demelza "Are they coming too?"
"They all finished their shopping, but they might meet us anyway." Said Emma. "In fact, Natalie wrote a letter telling me that Geoffrey and Vicky did all theirs together… alone."
"Alone?" said Demelza. "You don't think?"
"Natalie thinks they're just being slightly more friendly than usual to each other at the moment. But later?" Said Emma.
"What are you two talking about?" said Harry.
"Oh nothing." Said Emma. "Just girl talk."
Harry sighed, but shrugged it off. One of the things he'd still not adjusted to in the last year was Emma acting girly. A year ago they were the centre of each other's universes, but, while that was still the case, their separate universes now had things in them that were more unique to their specific characters. He didn't understand the other gender's need to keep things to themselves. Maybe a talk with Hermione was in order?
"Right our train leaves at ten o'clock tomorrow, make sure you're all packed and ready to go." Said Mrs Creevey.
In Colin's room, where Harry was sleeping, the two boys discussed the anomaly of girls.
"I thought you'd understand more?" said Colin. "You actually have a sister."
"Yes. But so far I only understand more than most boys, or at least more than Ron." Said Harry. "Besides you have four best friends, none of them are boys."
"I've not known them that long." Justified Colin. "There are still certain… things I don't get. For example, why would my Mum care about the state of my Dormitory in Hogwarts?"
Harry looked thoughtful. "Did she?"
"She hasn't said a thing, but Em' told me that if I was to send a picture of my dorm home, I should mention that I cleaned the place up. Girls seem obsessed with keeping things tidy."
"Hmm." Said Harry. "I generally like to keep my stuff tidy, but that's habit after living with my relatives all these years."
Colin shrugged "I'm not sure why my Mum would care, I mean she's never at Hogwarts and Emma and the other girls are not allowed in the boys rooms. If they're never going to go there why do they care whether it's clean or not?"
"No idea." Said Harry. "Maybe they just like things clean and can't stand the thought of them being in any other condition. I'll ask Hermione, she's bound to know."
The following Morning, everyone started by saying goodbye to Dennis Creevey. Though Colin's younger brother would in fact be going to Hogwarts next year, today was his first day back at Primary School and he was dressed up in a badge incrusted school shirt with black trousers and black shoes.
"I definitely do not miss having to dress like that." Said Demelza looking at the uniform. "Sorry, but I like robes better."
"No it's fine." said Dennis. "Your school sounds way cooler than any other could be."
Demelza smiled and pulled the little boy into a hug, then Emma followed her example. Dennis was even shorter than Colin was so they had to bend their knees in order to complete the act. When Colin himself did so, he was still short enough not to have to.
"Bye Dennis, I'll see you at Christmas." Said Colin.
Harry did not hug Dennis, but when prompted he did give him a high five.
"See you next year." Said Harry.
"Yeah, see you next year." Said Emma.
"Bye." Said Demelza "It was nice to meet you."
Dennis left for school. A few minutes later, trunks Hedwig, Mopsus and various humans were all crammed into Alex Creevey's seven seat car. Because of lack of space, Harry sat with Hedwig and five trunks in the boot seats while Mopsus in a cat box was kept on Emma's lap. Unlike Hedwig, Mopsus was not used to staying locked up for long periods, also because it was a Muggle train they were going on and not the Hogwarts Express; Emma could not let him out until they reached the Leakey Cauldron.
Mr Creevey dropped them all off outside York train station and quick goodbyes were exchanged before Mrs Creevey ushered her four wards inside. As they had a cat (which is really a Kneazle) and an owl to tend to tend to, they were drawing some strange looks.
Most peculiarly a number of people muttered things about animal cruelty when they saw Hedwig, which was strange considering that she was probably the most happy and content living creature in the station at the time. For the most part she slept, but when more and more people began muttering rude insinuations about her master she woke up and glared at them, even screeching aggressively at one or two. This of course did nothing to divert people's attention away from the group.
After a while the train arrived and the group took their seats on the carriages. By this stage, Mopsus had been locked up for half an hour.
"Mew!" he whine pathetically.
"Sorry Mopsus, but we'll get in trouble if we let you out." Said Emma.
"Mew!" he whined again. "Mew, Mew Meow!"
"Oh don't be such a baby. It'll only be another three hours." said Emma.
"Meow!" said Mopsus in protest. Then his back on her and sulked.
"Is Mopsus still technically a kitten?" asked Harry.
"I think he's just stopped being one." Said Emma thoughtfully. "The guy last year said that Kneazles are kittens until just after their first birthday."
"Which is past." Said Harry.
"So Mopsus, you're not a baby anymore so stop acting like one." Scolded Emma in a mocking voice. Mopsus turned and glared at her for a short time before looking away in protest.
"Wow Hedwig, he's even more moody than you are." Said Harry.
"You two do realise you're talking to animals right?" said Demelza.
"Yeah." Said Emma. "You know this, I talked to Mopsus all the time at school."
"Yes I know, but we weren't on a crowded train where everyone could watch you." Said Demelza.
Harry and Emma looked around. People were indeed watching them with peculiar looks. The fact that Emma had a pet on board a train was unusual but the fact that Hedwig, an owl, was on board as well was considered very strange in the muggle, so talking to them probably wasn't going to make them seem less suspicious.
When the ticket inspector came by and asked "Are you allowed to transport and owl in a cage?"
It probably didn't help when Emma replied "She doesn't mind, do you girl?" and Hedwig blink and gave an affirmative hoot.
The ticket inspector gave them all funny looks as he moved along. Harry and Demelza glared at Emma while Colin and his Mum smiled at her and in the former's case giggled.
Eventually the train arrived at Kings Cross Station and they managed to find a taxi large enough to take all of them, their luggage and pets. After a cramped and stuffy ride, Harry began to appreciate Mr Weasley's car and the extension charms that he'd placed on it. The fact that Mopsus was still protesting his incarceration didn't help matters either.
After some time they arrived at the Leaky Cauldron pub on Charring Cross Road.
"Right now we just need to find this pub, it took me ages last time." Said Mrs Creevey.
"But it's right here." Said Demelza pointing at the establishment.
Mrs Creevey squinted where Demelza was pointing. "So it is, I wonder why it's so hard to see?"
"It must have Muggle-repelling charms." Said Harry.
"Oh?" said Mrs Creevey "I wonder if it's safe for me to stay then?"
But that worry quickly vanished. As soon as they passed through the door to the Leaky Cauldron, the effects of the charm wore off and when Harry talked to Tom the barman, he confirmed that it was safe enough for Muggles to stay.
Mopsus was very glad to be out of his cat box and even more happy to find a padded surface.
"Mopsus I think that's going to be Demelza's bed." Said Emma.
The Kneazle just glared at Emma, still not having forgiven her for keeping him locked up for three hours.
Demelza giggled, "Its fine, it's not like I will be using the bed for a few hours anyway. Besides, we both know he'll forgive you by the time we want to sleep."
Just then Mrs Creevey snuck her head round the door "Lunch is being served downstairs in ten minutes girls."
"Ok." Said Emma.
"Sure that's fine." said Demelza.
After lunch, they started with Gringotts. Harry and Emma went down to their trust vaults to restock on galleons. Once back upstairs they also traded for some more Muggle money, as it was useful. Meanwhile Mrs Creevey did the opposite, trading Sterling for Galleons and Demelza claimed her stipend from the Hogwarts Subsidy fund.
"Oh, I almost forgot." said Mrs Creevey "Demelza, Your brother sent me a postal order to help cover your expenses."
"What?" said Demelza in surprise. "That's ok, you take it you've looked after me for a month now."
"Don't be silly sweetie. Your brother sent this money for you and we chose to take you in, it was no trouble whatsoever."
Before Demelza could say anything, Mrs Creevey had the teller exchange more money for Galleons and forced the bag into Demelza's hands.
"Are you sure about this." Said Demelza, "I'm not going to use all of this, I can give you…"
"Sweetie it was our decision to invite you round, you will always have a place at our home. You don't have to worry about paying us anything. It's very sweet of you though." Said Mrs Creevey, She pulled Demelza into a hug. "So where should we start first?"
"Well Harry and I need trunks." Said Emma "If we get them, we'll have something to carry the rest of our stuff in."
So they started by getting much larger trunks for Harry and Emma.
"Great now Colin and I can stop carrying your books." Said Demelza, reflecting on the train ride down from York.
"I didn't carry any books." Said Colin "I carried the Nimbus."
"You let him carry your broomstick Harry?" said Demelza. "Harry?"
Harry had stopped in front of Quality Quidditch supplies alongside a small gathering crowd. It was soon obvious why. On display in the shop was perhaps the most magnificent broomstick ever to be introduced to the world of Quidditch.
"Harry." Said Emma "We're here to shop. You can ogle lumps of wood later."
Harry grumbled but with great reluctance moved away. No one noticed the look of longing that appeared on Demelza's face as she sighted the broomstick on display.
"Alright." said Harry. "What now? Robes?"
"Might as well get it over with." Said Emma. "I promise not to make you try anything else on this…"
"Mr Potter, thank goodness." Came a voice from further down the street.
Everyone turned and upon seeing the source of the voice in question was drew there wands.
"Wh… what are you doing." Said Cornelius Fudge. "Put those away."
Both his Auror bodyguards drew their wands in response to Harry, Emma, Demelza and Colin.
"Colin, Harry what's going on?" said Mrs Creevey.
"That's the bad man who tried to take Emma away last year." Said Colin worriedly.
"Now really there is no need to hold grudges." Said Fudge as he realised just how bad an impression he had on Harry a years ago. "Mr Potter, you and your sister need to come with me."
"I think we covered this last year." Said Harry "You don't have the right to arrest me or Emma."
"Mr Potter I am not here to arrest you… You and your sister need to be taken into protective custody."
"No we don't." said Emma "And again, you don't have the authority to take us."
"Why are you so interested in taking these two." Demanded Mrs Creevey. "They have been entrusted to my family for the duration of the summer holidays."
Fudge glared at her. "I have no need to explain myself to a Muggle."
"Actually you do Cornelius!" came a new voice. Everyone's attention was diverted to a tall domineering elderly woman with Neville Longbottom in tow.
"Mrs Longbottom?" said Fudge in shock.
"That's right. I know you don't have an ounce of common sense, but Minister or not you do not have the right to pull people off the street without a warrant, and even if you did have one it is the responsibility of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement to apprehend people."
"Now see here I will not stand here and have you…"
"Then where is your warrant. I can't imagine Amelia signing a one, or did you go to someone else?"
"I am not here to arrest…"
"Then you have no right to take Mr Potter into custody. Whether or not they choose to come with you is there decision." Said Mrs Longbottom.
Fudge looked pleadingly at Harry. "Mr Potter, Miss Potter. Please, you must come with me."
"Why?" said Harry.
"That is not important." Said Fudge.
"I'm not coming then." Said Harry.
"Neither am I." Said Emma.
"Well you have your answer Cornelius, now I suggest you scram before someone with a camera shows up." Said Mrs Longbottom.
Fudge glared at her then Harry, before wandering off.
"What was his problem?" said Mrs Creevey.
"There is no one problem with Fudge." Said Mrs Longbottom scathingly "But right now he's under stress because of Sirius Black."
"Sirius Black?" said Harry "He was on the Muggle news. Is he a wizard?"
Mrs Longbottom nodded. "Oh yes. I don't understand the details but during the war, he betrayed secrets to You-Know-Who."
"So he's a Death Eater?" said Emma.
"Yes." Said Neville. "And he escaped from Azkaban."
Harry and Emma looked at each other in shock.
"You're not serious?" said Emma. "I thought that was supposed to be escape proof."
"That would explain why he's on our news." Said Mrs Creevey. "It would also explain why we're told to call a hotline and not the police."
"I suppose so." Said Mrs Longbottom smiling. She then turned to her Grandson and barked "Neville, aren't you going to introduce me?"
If it wasn't for the fact Harry always felt awkwardly sorry for Neville and his nervous disposition he probably would have laughed.
"Uh… right." Said Neville "Um. This is Harry, Emma, Demelza, Colin and…"
"I'm Colin's Mum." Said Mrs Creevey drawing all attention away from Neville. "Katy Creevey." She held out her hand.
"Augusta Longbottom." Smiled Mrs Longbottom shaking her hand. "It's nice to meet some of Neville's friends. From the sounds of things you all had quite an adventure last year."
"You don't say." Said Mrs Creevey, looking over the five students in question. She had been somewhat aware of what the others had been up to while Colin was in the Hospital Wing, but she had not asked them searching questions.
Harry, Emma and the others looked awkward, especially as many of them had personally fought against the Basilisk.
"So are you here to shop for school as well?" said Augusta.
"Yes, we were just about to head to the robe shop for alterations, fancy coming along?" said Katy happily.
"Sure. We can compare stories." Said Augusta.
No one needed new robes, they just needed their current ones lengthened. Once that was quickly done they left and Harry remembered Neville's wand.
"Guys you really don't have to." Said Neville.
"Yes we do." Said Harry "You lost your old one trying to save my sister, this is the least I can do."
"Mr Potter." Said Augusta. "I will get Neville his own wand. I think that after what happened back then he's earned it."
Neville's eyes widened in surprise "G… Gran?"
"Your mother and father would have been very proud of you." Said Augusta. "What you did at school is a story worthy of their son."
Neville seemed highly flushed. Emma wondered what happened to Neville's parents. From the way things sounded they must have died in heroic circumstances.
After tests that didn't take all that long, Neville happily emerged from Ollivander's with a new wand: Cherry, thirteen inches, Unicorn Horn.
"How are you all off for Potions ingredients?" asked Mrs Longbottom.
"Fine." said Demelza
"Not fine at all." Said Emma.
Harry chuckled "I should probably restock my supplies."
"Me to." Said Neville.
"I'm fine, I still have plenty left over from last year." Said Colin.
A few minutes later everyone except Emma had picked up what they needed in the apothecary.
"Em' do you really need all this stuff?" said Harry.
"Are you planning to give up Quidditch?" said Emma.
"Then yes I do, because you're not going to voluntarily go to the Hospital Wing and no one else is going to heal up all your cuts and bruises in the Common Room. Also Madam Pomfrey said she'd help me experiment with a few recipes and I need certain ingredients that aren't in a Hogwarts student kit. Now where is the Star Grass?"
"Star Grass?" said Demelza "I have tons of that left over, you can just borrow from me."
"It won't be enough." Said Emma "I want to make some more mana again, lots more. I want to try a few things."
"Oh yeah that reminds me." Said Demelza. "My brother tested the mana you gave me to send to him on my sister. She's a witch."
"Your sister?" said Neville.
"Uh huh. Eilidh. She won't be Hogwarts age for a few years but yeah she'll be coming, in your last year and my second last."
"That's great." Said Neville happily.
"Ok I think that's everything." Said Emma, approaching the counter with an overfilling basket of ingredients. The shopkeeper looked as if Christmas had come early. Particularly when he rung up the price.
"Wait." Said Emma "Thought just occurred, do you have any bicorn horn? Not the Powdered stuff, an actual horn?"
"Y… Yes Miss but it'll cost another fifteen Galleons." He said.
"Cool, bung it in with the rest of this stuff, though preferably not on top. In fact just wrap it up, don't bother with a bag I'll shove it in my trunk."
Once they got out of the shop, Harry asked "Emma do you have enough Gold left?"
"Sure. I knew this stuff would cost a lot, but I took enough out." Said Emma.
"I take it you're going to buy some extra books as well?"
"Yup. You?" said Emma.
"Oh yes." Said Harry.
The next stop was Flourish and Blotts. Upon seeing the group of students entering the shopkeeper looked highly irritated.
"Hogwarts again is it?" he grumbled. "How many?" He demanded.
"I'm sorry?" said Mrs Longbottom, she did not like people who were anything other than respectful.
"These things?" he indicated a cage full of the Monster Book of Monsters.
"I've already got mine." Said Harry.
"I haven't." said Neville.
"The rest of us are too young." Said Demelza.
"So just the one." The owner seemed relieved somewhat, but not overly so. Harry could make out his hands were bandaged up.
"They bite." Said Harry.
"Yes they do." Grumbled the owner.
"Have you tried stunning them?" said Harry.
"What?" the owner turned to look at Harry.
"Stunning them? You know? Stupefy?"
The owner looked at him daftly, Harry in turn wondered if the state of Hogwarts Defence Professors had deteriorated so much that the man before them didn't know what a Stunning Charm was.
"Oh for goodness sake." Said Mrs Longbottom. She marched over, pulled the cage door open and silently fired a stunner at the nearest book. With another flick of her wand, the book flew out of the cage and into Neville's hands.
"You should tie that up with something." Said Emma.
"Incarcerous!" incanted Mrs Longbottom "That should do for now, I'll give you an old tie or something to do the trick when we get home."
The owner stood there "Why the heck didn't I ever think of doing that?" he said out loud.
"I can think of one or two reasons." Said Augusta impatiently "In the meantime, everyone else needs books."
"Ah right?" said the owner, somewhat embarrassed at being outdone like that by an elderly witch. "What else do you need?"
"Well we all need The Essential Defence Against the Dark Arts by Arsenius Jigger." Said Harry. "Neville and I need the Standard Book of Spells Grade 3. The others will need Grade 2. Do you guys need anything else?"
"Nope." Said Emma. Demelza and Colin also shook their heads.
The store owner looked out copies of the books Harry mentioned.
"Neville and I also need books for Ancient Runes and Arithmancy." Said Harry he looked at his own booklist and recited: "The Spellman's Syllabary, The Rune Dictionary, Ancient Runes Made Easy and Numerology and Grammatica."
After all the main course books were found, Harry and Emma looked around a bit more and extracted many more books on their subject of expertise.
"Are we going to be doing Defence Sessions again?" said Neville.
"That depends." Said Harry.
"On what?" said Neville.
"On whether we need to. We're getting a new teacher, he might be alright. If he or she is then there's no point in me teaching you. Either way we'll probably continue the Duelling Club, so long as enough of us want to." Said Harry.
"Enough of us do." Said Demelza.
"It's a shame you can't also teach us history." Said Neville, thinking of Binns.
Harry chuckled "I think I'll settle with these. Em' how're you doing?"
"I think these will do me fine." said Emma.
After shopping was completed those staying at the Leaky Cauldron dumped their possessions in their rooms and then stopped by the ice cream parlour to enjoy some nice sundaes.
"I really wish Dennis was here." Said Colin. "He'd absolutely love this."
"You and your brother have quite enough of a sweet tooth as it is." Said Mrs Creevey.
"It's one ice cream." Said Colin.
"Hmm." Said Katy. "Emma sweetie, could you make sure Colin doesn't overeat sweet stuff while at school?"
"Uh…" said Emma, not sure how to answer that question.
"My boys are as bad as their father. When I met him, he was constantly at chocolates and ice cream."
"Ah living the dream." Said Demelza happily.
"In any case, could you keep an eye on Colin's sweet tooth please?" said Mrs Creevey.
Emma felt herself going red with embarrassment.
"Relax Mum, I don't eat that much." Said Colin cheerfully. He wasn't all that bothered by her mothering as most boys his age would be. In truth he was more bothered that his friend seemed a little embarrassed.
Mrs Creevey seemed to lay of Emma a bit "So Neville will you be round tomorrow with everyone else?"
"I wouldn't want to trouble you." Said Augusta.
"It's no trouble." Said Katy "The Number of children to watch tomorrow is already going to triple."
"Triple?" said Mrs Longbottom.
"Oh yes. There's going to be… um… Colin who is there again?"
"Well Luna got back today, so she'll be around tomorrow. Geoffrey and Vicky will be around, Natalie just got back from Jamaica yesterday so I don't know if she's up to it but you never know."
"The Weasley's will be here." Said Harry "All the ones going to school anyway. Hermione too."
Mrs Longbottom looked a bit taken aback "So if Neville comes that will be…"
"About fifteen or so." Said Emma.
"Well if you don't mind. I'm busy tomorrow and I'd really rather not leave Neville at Algie's again." She said seeming to cringe at the thought.
Lunch the following day was something of a party in the Leaky Cauldron. Despite their recent international travels, Luna and Natalie both made it as did the rest of the group that had formed a year ago. Added to that the arrival of the Weasley family, and the pub was beginning to get overcrowded.
"Harry?" said Hermione happily as she came in with her trunk. She pulled him into a hug. "Hey Neville." She said as she gave the other boy a hug, the process was repeated a third time Ron when he came downstairs.
"Happy Birthday Emma." Said Ginny pulling her friend into a hug.
"Thanks." Said Emma as she reciprocated.
While all the new arrivals wished Emma happy birthday, Mr and Mrs Weasley came over to Harry.
"Did you get all your stuff?" said Mrs Weasley
"Yesterday." Said Harry, "We all did."
"We didn't know that you and Emma were at the Creeveys' place." Said Mr Weasley. It was probably Harry's imagination. But he seemed remarkably serious.
"Really? We told Ron and Ginny, didn't they tell you?" said Harry.
"You never asked me." Said Ron immediately on the defensive.
"Or me." Said Ginny.
"It's just when we talked to your relatives they seemed under the impression you were at a Wizarding household." Said Mrs Weasley.
"What?" said Harry confusedly, why did the Weasleys go see the Dursleys. "But we told them that we were going to Colin's… Ah!"
"Ah?" said Mrs Weasley.
"Ah!" said Emma realising. "Let me guess. There precise words were: some freakish place?"
"Yes." Said Mr Weasley. "Not altogether pleasant people I must admit."
"I suppose we never told them Colin's Muggleborn." Said Harry "Anyway, why did you want to see us?"
"Oh no reason. No one knew where you were." Said Mrs Weasley.
Harry was now thoroughly confused now.
"Ok I've got all your room keys." Came Tom's voice. "That's three rooms with two single beds and one room with a double. The double is number 8, they're all just upstairs."
After the Weasleys and Hermione took their luggage upstairs everyone went for a wander down Diagon Alley. The bookshop owner looked dearly depressed when Ron and Hermione asked for two copies of the Monster Book of Monsters. But he was now using Mrs Longbottom's technique to extract them, so he at least avoided injury. Ron and Hermione emerged from the shop with their books bound with spello-tape to keep them from attacking after the stunner wore off.
"Are we being followed?" said Demelza looking over her shoulder. There were two wizards, one of which had a ponytail, who seemed to be wandering in their direction.
Emma turned as well. "You mean those two who keep looking at their watches? Yeah I think they are following us."
"Why?" said Vicky.
"I do not know. Perhaps they think we're trying to smuggle Snorkack shells." suggested Luna.
"Well… maybe?" said Natalie. "I think it's more likely they're Potter enthusiast following Harry and Emma. Though the one with the ponytail looks sort of familiar."
"Oh God." Said Harry, "I don't want to meet any of them today."
"You know pretty much everyone here used to be a Potter enthusiast." Said Ron.
"Not me." Said Hermione.
"Hermione when you first met him you could quote every book Harry's been mentioned in." Said Neville.
Hermione blushed while everyone giggled.
"Can we try and loose them?" said Emma "They're adult men and they might not just be enthusiasts."
"I never thought of that." Said Geoffrey. "There are too many of us to lose them. But I have an idea. I'm just gonna look in a shop window. Keep walking."
Geoffrey went off to the side whilst the others kept on going. Once the two men walked past Geoffrey, he pulled something out of his bag and rolled it on the ground between them. The two men didn't notice it, nor did they see it silently burst into a powder that divided latched onto them. Geoffrey walked behind a fast trotting group of witches, so the stalkers wouldn't see him as he re-joined his friends.
"This should be entertaining." He said, once he caught up with them.
Harry looked over at the men in question, they had begun scratching themselves. Subtly at first but then they started doing it with real urgency.
"Geoffrey what did you just do?" asked Emma.
"It's a very strong itching powder I got from Gamble and Japes. I probably also gave them an extra strong dosage, they'll be stuck like that for hours." he said.
"Geoffrey you could get into trouble for that?" said Hermione "If they think it's you…"
"Then they'll have to explain why they're following a group of twelve to thirteen-yar-olds. As soon as people know they were following a group of 'dear darling children' they'll be the ones deep in dragon poo." He justified himself.
"Have you been spending time with my twin brothers?" Ginny asked, with her eyes narrowed.
"A few minutes or so every so often at school." Admitted Geoffrey. "These two talk too much about makeup sometimes." He pointed at his two closet friends.
Vicky and Natalie rolled their eyes.
"You're the one who made us your best friends." Said Vicky.
"Hey you were just as keen as I was." Said Geoffrey. Suddenly both Geoffrey and Vicky looked embarrassed, Natalie looked amused, Demelza and Emma caught each other's' eyes and Luna chose to comment on the awkward moment.
"It is wonderful that we're all friends isn't it? Are you two going to going to start dating?" said the Blond haired girl.
"Hey those guys have apparated away." Said Ron. Looking back at the strange men.
"Good." Said Harry "Ice cream?"
Mercifully, those two comments diverted everyone's immediate attention from Geoffrey and Vicky.
After a while the group had to stop at Quidditch Shop so the enthusiasts could see the brand new broom on display.
"You could get that for your birthday." Said Ron to Hermione "If you did I would love you even more than Harry."
"Oi." Said Harry.
"I think I'll be getting an owl if I'm honest." Said Hermione.
"Don't bother." Said Harry "You can use Hedwig anytime you want."
"Yeah but you can't get a cat or a toad." Said Ron "Toads are lame and a cat would eat Scabbers. No offence Neville."
"None taken." Said Neville "Trevor was never my choice of pet."
"A cat would be lovely." Said Hermione.
"But…" began Ron.
"Ron, Mopsus didn't eat Scabbers." Said Emma.
"Mopsus is a Kneazle though." Said Natalie "They're cleverer than the average housecat."
"Maybe you should get a Kneazle then?" said Emma.
"Maybe." Said Hermione, "But I really want a kitten for when I have time to enjoy it growing up. Right now I don't have that, so I think I want an older cat."
"You're not busy?" Said Ron.
"I will be soon, I'm taking more subjects that you guys." Said Hermione.
"McGonagall said yes then?" said Harry.
"Well I assume everything is fine." said Hermione. "My booklist matched all of the subjects I signed up for."
"There's a pet shop round that way, shall we go take a look?" said Emma.
"Not just yet." Said Ron, his eyes still locked on the Firebolt.
"Boys." Grumbled Hermione.
"Speak for yourself." Said Demelza, who was also looking at the broom in awe.
"Traitor." muttered Emma.
"Oh come on it is a wonderful looking broom." Said Ginny.
"It is very finely painted." Conceded Luna, drawing some incredulous looks.
After a while Hermione managed to get Ron and Harry to come with her to the pet shop. Emma, Natalie, Neville and Luna; not all that interested in the broom came as well. Vicky wasn't very interested in the broom but opted on staying to look at it anyway, the fact that she was standing next to Geoffrey had nothing to do with it of course.
"I should also get Scabbers some rat tonic." Said Ron. "I don't think Egypt agreed with him." He held out the rat.
"I'm not sure tonic will help." Said Luna "He looks stressed to me."
"How can Scabbers be stressed? All he ever does is eat and sleep." Said Ron.
"Maybe he got some bad news." Joked Natalie.
"Perhaps." Said Luna "Maybe he was upset that there are no nargles in Egypt."
"Aren't their nargles in Egypt?" asked Emma.
"No, the climate is too hot. There are Heliopaths though, but there is a debate as to whether or not rats like Heliopaths for company." Said Luna.
The group found the pet shop and proceeded to enter. While Hermione went with Natalie and Emma to look at pets in the shop, Harry and Neville went with Ron to speak to the owner about Scabbers and Luna took interest in the large cage of rats on the counter.
The owner of the pet shop told Ron that Scabbers should not have lived as long as he had and that it might be a better idea to get a new one.
"Show offs." Said Ron, looking at the rats performing all sorts of tricks.
"Well if you want I can sell you this rat tonic, it should help." Said the storekeeper.
"Great. How much… YEOW!"
Ron suddenly felt something big landed on his shoulder and catapult towards Scabbers.
"Scabbers." Called Ron. The rat ran for the shop door only to be picked up off the ground by Ginny as she and the others entered the shop.
"Ron, you should keep a better hold of him." Said Ginny.
"My apologies for that." Said the owner. "I'm afraid that Crookshanks here…" she made to gesture at Crookshanks only to find that the orange menace had moved on.
"He seems rather fond of you Hermione." Said Luna. Sure enough, the cat Crookshanks was getting very friendly with Hermione's scratching hand.
"He is absolutely gorgeous." Said Hermione "I think I want to keep him."
"You can't get him, he nearly got Scabbers." Said Ron.
"Ron, cats eat rats." Said Ginny "Just put him in a cage like you did with Mopsus and he'll be fine."
Ron looked Grumpy. "Fine. But don't let that orange blob get near my rat."
Hermione turned to the owner "So how much for this gentleman?"
After the owner managed to get over the fact that a nuisance cat had assaulted and then been sold to those he assaulted, Ron and Hermione left with their purchases.
Back at the Inn, while Ron put Scabbers safely inside a cage, Harry and Emma greeted Percy and the twins.
"So you got made Head Boy then." Said Emma brightly, looking at Percy.
"Yes I have attained this great honour." He said smugly.
"Have you now." Said Fred.
"I hadn't noticed." Said George.
"Although now that you mention it." Said Fred "He did mention it once."
"When he got the letter that morning a month ago." Said George.
"But also every morning since then." Said Fred.
"And every afternoon and evening too." Said George.
Emma giggled and Harry fought hard to hold down a laugh.
"That's enough you two." Said Mrs Weasley, while Percy looked a bit embarrassed. "Our second Head Boy, I'm so very proud of you Percy."
"Thank you mother." Said Percy.
"And our last." Said Fred.
"Well I did notice neither of you two got prefect badges with your owls." Said Mrs Weasley scathingly.
"That's what we were counting on." Said George.
"Well there is still Ron and Ginny." Said Mrs Weasley.
"What about me?" asked Ron coming down the stairs.
"Mother is looking forward to the day you become a prefect." Said Fred.
"Yeah like that's going to happen." Said Ron.
"Don't you want to be a prefect Ron?" said Hermione
"Well maybe… but only two of us can become a prefect in Fifth Year. You're the obvious first choice, but if you were McGonagall, who would you choose? Me or Harry." Said Ron.
"Me?" said Harry.
"Yeah. I'm mean you're way better than anyone in Defence Against the Dark Arts and you're at least as good as me in everything else." Said Ron.
"Harry as a Prefect?" said George looking Harry over.
"Well then it's settled." Said Fred "We have two years to avert disaster."
"We need to get Harry involved in something that will..."
"You will do no such thing." Said Mrs Weasley sternly. "Harry and Emma are both in enough trouble as it is without you two making their lives worse."
"Trouble?" said Emma "Why are we in trouble."
"No dears that's not what I meant." Said Mrs Weasley suddenly in panic "Never mind forget I said anything."
Mrs Weasley suddenly turned back to talk to Mr Weasley and Mrs Creevey.
"That was odd?" said Harry.
"I'm afraid I must concur." Said Percy. "Mother and Father have been most anxious since we got back from Egypt and we learnt of that escaped murderer."
"Did they know him?" asked Hermione.
"Not that I know of." Said Percy. "But I was only five when the war ended, so it's possible."
"They got really funny after they got back from seeing your relatives." Said Ron "Maybe they were worried because they didn't know where you were?"
"I'm not so sure of that." Said Hermione "The Dursleys did say that you were both at a friend's house. I think they must have just been unsettled by your relatives' general rudeness. Besides why would they be worried that you were at a friend's house?"
"I guess." Said Harry "But I get the feeling they're not telling us something."
"If you need to know I'm sure they'll tell you." Said Percy. "I wouldn't worry about it. So would either of you like to be a prefect?"
"I honestly don't know." Said Harry "It really depends how exhausting the O. are. I mean, if I'm going to be spending time studying and doing prefect duties and Quidditch then I will be a little overworked."
"You could always drop Quidditch." Said Hermione.
"Really Hermione, we're having a serious conversation here, no need to tell a bad joke." Said Ron.
Hermione grumbled and muttered comments about boys being idiots.
"True, even if Oliver is gone by then, one must never give up their Quidditch." Said Fred.
"Indeed, after all what other reason is there to go to Hogwarts." Said George.
Hermione and Percy sighed.
Because it was Emma's birthday, all her friends which included the mass of Weasleys were present for a special birthday dinner that was taking up nearly half the restaurant portion of the pub. Mrs Creevey had made an exceptionally large birthday cake and, with assistance from Harry and Hedwig, sent it down to the Leakey Cauldron for this occasion. She may not have been Molly Weasley but she was still a mother of two boys each with a sweet tooth and everyone present absolutely loved her Chocolate Fudge cake.
"Ah just one more year until you can join us as teenagers." Said Fred.
"Until then though, Miss Potter you're the baby here." Said George.
People started giggling at that declaration.
"What are you laughing at Ginny, you're not three weeks older than I am?" said Emma.
"I'm still older." She smirked.
"I feel unloved." Complained Emma.
"Don't worry sis, I still love you." Said Harry
"Thank you brother." Said Emma.
"Everyone loves the baby." Said Harry.
Emma glared at her brother while he and everyone else laughed at her again. She soon forgave him though when he pulled her into a one-armed hug.
"Like I said, I love you." Said Harry.
Emma smiled and reciprocated the hug.
"You are after all my baby sister. Ow!" Harry massaged his head. "I deserved that."
"Good boy." Said Emma, patting the spot she whacked.
"Alright that's enough." Said Mrs Creevey. "It might be an idea for you all to check your things are together, we'll be leaving very early tomorrow and you don't want to leave anything behind."
"A good Idea." Agreed Mrs Weasley. "I suggest you all say your goodbyes now."
Those who were staying the night said goodbye to those who weren't. Hermione was staying in a room with Ginny, her parents having arranged things with the Weasleys in advance. As Geoffrey and Vicky left, Emma observed with mild excitement while the two of them gave each other looks when they thought the other half wasn't looking. There was definitely something going on there.
"Where is it." Came a loud and angry voice. Emma and Demelza looked at each other, the noise was coming from Percy and Ron's room. Emma went to investigate, her friend following close behind her.
Upon arrival they found both Percy and Ron were in the process of unpacking their trunks.
"I keep telling you I don't know where it is." Said Ron irritably "I can't find Scabbers rat tonic. I think I left it downstairs."
"You're not going anywhere until you find that badge." Said Percy sternly as Harry and Colin came along to see what the commotion was all about.
"Percy." Said Emma sternly "Couldn't you use magic to find it? You are of age now."
Percy looked taken aback, but took his wand out and silently performed a spell that caused the badge to fly in from the hall.
"Oi!" came Fred's voice as he and George fruitlessly chased after the badge.
"Um… we were going to give it back." Said George when Percy glared at the pair of them.
"Great I'll go and get my tonic now." Said Ron.
"I got it." Said Percy. Another wave of his wand the rat tonic zoomed from down the corridor. For good measure though Percy flicked his wand a few times and had the tonic bash his twin brothers on the head.
"Ow." Said Fred.
"When'd Percy get so violent." Said George.
"It must be Miss Potter's influence." Said Percy. One final flick and Ron took hold of his rat's tonic whilst still laughing at his twin brothers.
"We should get to bed." Said Harry. "We have to get up much earlier than you, we're getting the tube."
"Oh are you not coming with us?" said Ron "For some reason I thought we were giving you a lift."
"No." said Colin "Mum was just round our room two minutes ago reminding us that we're getting on the Underground tomorrow."
"Besides which I think she's just dropping us at nine-three-four then going back to Yorkshire on an early train." Said Demelza. "You guys will probably arrive after she leaves."
"Oh?" said Ron "Well I guess we'll see you guys on the Express then."
"Sorry I'm forcing you all to leave so soon." Said Mrs Creevey, as she escorted her four charges and their collective luggage and pets through to Leicester Square Tube Station. If Mopsus disliked trains he hated the tube. Not that Emma could blame him, the fact that the rush hour crowds were on board as well caused all sorts of grief as people bumped into each other and tested and contracted the limits of personal space. Poor Mopsus found his cat box being knocked from side to side as legs constantly collided with it.
Mrs Creevey had to get back to Yorkshire to start an afternoon shift at the hospital she worked in. To ensure she had enough time to get herself organized, she was leaving London early and as a result she and her collective were travelling alongside London's commuters.
With much trouble and toil, they made it to Kings Cross.
"I need to catch my train in the next ten minutes." Mrs Creevey said, a hint of stress in her voice.
She left them money to buy some food, after skipping breakfast at the Leakey, then said goodbye through a series of hugs.
"Remember, you're all welcome back any time." She said this particularly to Demelza whom she was in the process of hugging. "I really must be going. Have a good year."
After buying some hot rolls filled with bacon, eggs and/or sausage; the four of them charged the barrier between platforms 9 and 10. Unlike last year, the Potters didn't need magic to force their way inside. When they arrived they saw Neville in the process of a hurried goodbye with his grandmother.
"Mr Potter, Miss Potter." She greeted quite happily. "It's nice to see you again, but I'm afraid I have to run. That… Minister of ours, is once more seeking to make an ar… Well I must be going. I'll see you at Christmas Neville, assuming that idiot doesn't legislate against school holidays."
With that last word she apparated away.
"Is she alright?" said Demelza, "She looked a little tense."
"She was fine until an owl came from the ministry." Said Neville. "My Gran is on the Wizengamot, it's her only duty now that she's retired. But apparently there is some sort of emergency so she needs to get there as soon as possible. So I'm here early, there is hardly anyone here." Said Neville.
"Well the train doesn't leave for over two hours." said Emma. "Still at least we can find compartments before they're all gone."
They found two compartments right next to each other.
"Well assuming the train doesn't get attacked or anything, I'll see you in Hogsmeade dear brother." Said Emma smiling."
"See you Em'!" Said Harry. He and Neville settled into the compartment and made use of a set of Gobstones.
"They are coming aren't they?" said Neville looking at his watch, the train was due to leave in two minutes and Hermione and the Weasleys still had not arrived.
"Yeah, they're always late." Said Harry. "First Year they arrived after everyone else got compartments, not that I'm complaining because that's how Ron and I met, and last year Emma, Percy and I crossed the barrier in the sixty seconds before the train left."
"Well they have just over sixty… Oh there they are."
Harry looked out the window to see a highly harassed looking group of Weasleys and Hermione rush towards the train from the other side of the barrier.
Harry opened the window "Ron, Hermione in here." He called out. "Ginny, Emma and the others are just next door."
Ron and Hermione beamed at him and Ginny made a red faced "thank you". They all scrambled on board with trunks and pets.
"Sorry we're late." Said Ron and he and Hermione came through the compartment door.
Suddenly Mr and Mrs Weasley approached the window, both of them looked highly agitated and highly tense. Harry wondered whether there was something bothering them, other than the fact they'd barely made it to the platform.
"Harry." Said Mr Weasley "Could I perhaps have a wor…"
He was cut-off by the last warning whistle from the train guard. With a cluck, they felt the train begin to move.
"Goodbye." Said Hermione, "Thank you both for bringing me here."
"Bye Mum, bye Dad." Said Ron.
Harry and Neville also echoed their own goodbyes. Harry smiled. He was on his way to Hogwarts. Not that he hadn't enjoyed the summer at the Creeveys, he had. But it felt good to know that he was on his way to Hogwarts again.
"I'm going to let Crookshanks out now." Said Hermione.
"Just a second." Said Ron. He lifted Scabbers' cage up onto the luggage rack and placed it between his and Harry's trunks. As he did so the four of them got distracted by a whirling noise.
"What's that?" said Neville.
It was coming from Harry's trunk, so he reached in and found the source to be the Sneakoscope that Ron had bought him for his birthday.
"Why is that going off?" said Hermione.
"I don't know." Said Ron "Bill said that because it was a cheap one it might not work. It went off at the table while we were in Egypt, of course Bill didn't know that the twins were slipping beetles into his soup. But it also went off when I attached the thing to Errol."
"Were you doing anything you shouldn't at the time?" asked Hermione.
"Well I shouldn't have been using Errol I guess." Said Ron "He probably barely lasted the flight back here."
"Hey Ginny." Said Emma "Did you have a nice lie in?"
"Very nice thank you. Though Mum went a bit frantic when she couldn't find you or Harry. For some reason she thought you were coming with us." Said Ginny.
"I wonder why she thought that?" said Emma "We were with Colin and his Mum after all."
"Don't know." Said Ginny "Last year she practically adopted the pair of you though, maybe she just thought that she'd be your natural escort."
Emma felt a bit awkward at that declaration. In the year since she'd flown away from Privet Drive she was finding a whole load of adults who were making themselves available should she need someone: Mr and Mrs Weasley, Teachers, Madam Pomfrey and now Mrs Creevey. She also wondered if Hermione's parents, now that Harry had spent an extensive amount of time over there, had made themselves adults looking out for her and her brother.
Ginny sensed that she had bothered Emma a bit "So Luna what was Australia like?"
"Oh it was really interesting. Unfortunately the team couldn't find any Heliopaths, but Daddy and I met some really interesting people." Said Luna happily.
She reached reach around her neck, removed her necklace and held it up. It was a small flat stone with an imprint of a shell on it.
"Albert gave me this as a present. He says that it's a fossil of a baby crumple-horned snorkack."
Everyone got a good look at it, the fossil looked a bit like a sea shell.
"That was really nice of him Luna." Said Emma. "So is this Albert really nice?"
"Oh yes. He spent late nights talking about his adventures searching for the crumple-horned snorkack in Europe. He hasn't been able to go on many of them since he got his new job, so he was really happy to join us."
"Did you meet any hot Australian boys out there?" asked Demelza.
"Well we were in the desert so everyone was pretty hot." Said Luna.
"Um I think Demelza means attractive." Said Colin.
"Oh… Not really, I think I was the only person under the age of twenty. Well there was an researcher in her late teens but I'm not sure we would have been compatible."
"You went on holiday to Australia but never met any boys?" said Demelza "Didn't you go to the beach at all?"
"No. It wasn't a holiday, it was a research trip." Said Luna simply. "Would you have gone looking for boys?"
Demelza blushed. "That's not what I… never mind. I would have gone to the beach though."
"I would love to go to the beach one day." Said Emma.
"You've never been before?" said Colin incredulously. "Why didn't you say, we could have arranged a day trip while we were at my place."
Emma shrugged "It didn't occur to me at the time. Anyway we still had fun, we went swimming and we went to York."
"Yeah but we should have gone swimming in the sea. I used to go all the time back in Cornwall." Said Demelza. "What about you two?" she asked Ginny and Luna.
"There is a body of water near the Burrow." Said Ginny "Luna and I have swam in that, I've never swam anywhere else."
"I went swimming off a reef in Denmark with Mummy once." Said Luna. "There were merpeople there as well, it was absolutely wonderful."
"We should definitely go to the beach next year." Said Emma. "We did actually plan to go this summer though, why didn't we?"
"Too much else to do." Said Demelza "That and Ginny's family went on a surprise holiday to Egypt."
"Ok. Next year we can plan one big rendezvous on a beach somewhere." Said Emma "We'll invite the others too, it can be one big day out."
"A little eager aren't you?" said Ginny.
"Well yeah, this summer has to be the most fun I've ever had." Said Emma.
Then she suddenly remembered why, as did the others and there followed an uncomfortable silence.
"Look we're heading back to Hogwarts now let's talk about that." She said, forcing the conversation away from abusive relatives before it could start.
"You know Harry it occurs to me, that if you and Emma hadn't pulled that stunt in Private Drive, you might not have been able to go to Hogsmeade." Said Hermione.
"Yeah I know." Said Harry "My sister is a genius. She even got him to sign a letter saying that it would be ok for her to visit the village from next year."
"Just think of all the sweets we can buy." Said Ron "I can't wait to go to Honeydukes."
"I'm looking forward to the Three Broomsticks." Said Harry "I've only ever had Butterbeer twice and I want to have it a bit more often."
"Honestly do you two only think about food?" said Hermione.
"It will be nice to get out of the school once in a while." Said Neville "Other than that, I'm not particularly bothered by the trip."
"But there is so much history in Hogsmeade." Said Hermione.
"History sucks." Said Ron "I want to eat a hundred different types of chocolate."
Before Hermione could scold Ron the entire train ground to a stop.
"What the?" said Neville.
"Are we there already?" said Ron.
"Can't be." Said Hermione "There would have been an announcement."
Harry looked out the window and saw a sheer drop. "We're on that viaduct, we've got at least an hour of travelling left."
"Is it just me or is it getting colder." Said Neville.
Suddenly the train shook and the lights went out. Harry immediately went into action. He pulled out his wand and used it to light up the compartment.
"Let's get to the others, something is really wrong here." As Harry talked the air in front of him became visible. "The Temperature is dropping."
Harry rushed out of his compartment, the others following close behind, and went straight into Emma's next door.
"Emma, are you alright?" he said.
Emma was particularly happy that Harry had brought some light with him.
"I think so, but what is going on?" said Emma. Using Harry's light the five in the compartment found their wands and used their own lighting charms.
"I don't know. But it's getting colder." Said Harry
"There is something evil coming." Said Luna gravely. "It's coming to us…"
Harry wondered if Luna had a sixth sense because further down the corridor a floating creature wrapped in a cloak had boarded the train and was advancing towards them. Vicky, Natalie and Geoffrey emerged from their compartment, which was the other one next door to Harry's, after hearing his voice.
"Wh… what is that?" said Natalie in fear.
Harry raised his wand to it "Who are you? What do you want." But even as he lifted his wand arm, his whole body started to feel heavy and he had to lean on the wall to keep upright.
Emma was in a much worse shape. As the creature got closer, she felt herself shake uncontrollably and collapsed to her knees as she lost the ability to support her legs. At the back of her mind she could hear an evil laugh. A very familiar one at that. But how was it possible, he was gone. The laugh was getting louder.
Neville and Demelza also collapsed to their knees and Luna curled up in her seat crying.
Harry meanwhile was losing his balance. He pressed his free arm against the wall in order to keep himself upright. "What are you doing to us?" he demanded "Stop it. STOP IT!"
The creature merely seemed disinterested in Harry's protests and continued moving towards them.
Harry had a vague idea of what was going on. From his studies, he believed that this creature was a Dementor. All he knew about them was that they were exceptionally difficult to combat and that they fed off the fears of humans, however he was only now finding out the true extent of those definitions.
"Flipendo!" Harry incanted.
Sparks flew from his wand towards the Dementor but dissipated on contact. Despite the obvious ineffectiveness though, the creature seemed to anger in response to Harry's attack and advance directly at him.
Desperate Harry resorted to his most powerful spell.
A Jet of fire shot out of Harry's wand and impacted the creature. But while the intensive heat slowed it down, the creature's freezing influence extinguished the flamethrower rapidly and Harry found soon found himself conjuring steam. Then he felt the creatures influence directed upon himself. He managed to turn his head and see his sister and Demelza lying unconscious on the floor. As he passed out his eyes passed over most of his friends: Neville too was knocked out, Luna was crying hysterically and Ginny was not in a much better position.
Harry felt his body hit the ground as he lost consciousness and heard a very familiar and grave voice. One he had only remembered once before.
Harry and Emma's friends were in hysterics. As Emma and Demelza passed out, Harry had attempted to counter the creature only to become the focus of its attack. As it swooped on Harry, Neville succumbed to unconsciousness as well. Luna was in the throes of a complete panic attack and Ginny was barely able to register what was happing to the others.
Things did not look good, those who remained conscious looked on in horror as the cloaked being appeared to suck at Harry's face through an air channel.
Thankfully it had barely gotten started when a silver coloured owl collided with the creature and flung it off its victim.
"None of us are hiding Sirius Black. Be on your way!" came the voice of an adult male. Everyone awake turned to see a shabbily dressed man with his wand out controlling the owl. The creature seemed to try and go for Harry again but the owl swooped down on top of the unconscious teenager and hovered protectively over him.
The Dementor, despite lacking any form of visible face appeared to glare at the human who controlled the magically projected bird. But it retreated off the train, taking the cold feeling common to its race with it.
"Harry, Emma! Your mother loves you. Your father loves you. Harry James Potter. Emma Lily Potter. You are both so loved."
"Harry sweetie, protect your sister. Love her and protect her, you're all she's got now."
"Stand aside Girl!"
"No I won't let you harm my children."
"Foolish Mudblood! Stand aside and I will spare you and the little girl's life."
"Leave them please I beg you take me instead please."
Harry felt himself being roused by a pair of frantic hands, when he looked up he saw a pale-faced Hermione.
"Emma!" he said, remembering his sister.
He looked over and saw her unconscious form being looked after by Neville. Harry clumsily crawled over, his sister's predicament distracting him from his mother's words. For now.
"Harry calm down you fainted." Said Hermione.
But Harry ignored her.
All around one half of his friends were attending to the other half. Ron was being a model big brother and had Ginny's crying form leaning against him. Luna was being attended to by both Natalie and Vicky, when Harry got to Emma though Neville took over and seemed to have some success in calming the poor blond of her hysterics.
Harry held Emma's upper body in his arms and shook her ever so slightly. With a start, she woke and saw her brother then pulled him tightly into a hug.
"Harry… I heard him… Riddle… I heard his laugh… he's gone right?"
"It's alright Miss Potter." Said the man who cast the silver owl.
Everyone turned to see the shabbily dressed man.
"That was a Dementor, they have an unusual and heavily cruel ability to make us relive our worst memories and feed off our deepest fears. Whoever it is you fear, I assure you he is of no greater threat to you than he was ten minutes ago."
Emma took in what the man said and nodded, but she didn't stop crying.
The man reached into his pockets and pulled out several bars of chocolate. He broke them into pieces and divided them amongst those present. "Eat this, it helps deal with the aftereffects of a Dementor attack. Now if you'll all excuse me, I need to have a word with the driver."
The man left.
The compartments on the Hogwarts Express were designed to hold a maximum of six people, even then those six would feel rather cramped. Despite that though, mainly through sitting on the floor, all twelve members of Harry's Defence Group remained in the compartment that was originally just for Emma and her part of the group.
"Who was that?" asked Harry looking to the man. "I think Emma and I met him briefly at the end of last term."
"Um… we didn't get a name." said Hermione. "He saved you from the thing though, he used some form of silver coloured owl."
"The creature is called a Dementor. Why was one on the train though?"
"I don't know but that man told it that Sirius Black wasn't here, so…"
"D… Dementors guard Az… z… kaban." Stuttered Luna. Her voice was heavily shaken and it no longer held the calm or dreamy quality that they were all used to. Luna seemed heavily broken in a manner they were not quite familiar with.
"Dementors are the Azkaban guards?" said Harry "No wonder everyone says it's such a horrible place."
"We… should… eat the cho… chocolate." Said Luna. She began to munch on the portion she had been assigned.
Harry and Emma also did and found themselves feeling much better, but still incredibly shaken.
Luna seemed to be much better off. Tears were still leaking from her eyes but she seemed much calmer overall as Neville sat there comforting her.
The train lurched and began moving again.
"Did you remember the Chamber as well?" said Emma to her brother.
"N… no… I didn't." said Harry "I remembered… a promise…"
Emma's felt her heart stop for a second then hurriedly tightened her hug on him. "Oh Harry… Did you… did you hear…"
"Yeah… I heard up to… when she…" tears started forming in his eyes.
The others looked around in confusion. Even Luna could not see what was on the Harry and Emma's minds. They were brought out of their musings by the return of the man who cast out the Dementor.
"We'll be arriving at Hogwarts soon, I suggest you all change into your school robes."
"Ok." Said Harry "Thank you for helping us sir. Who are you?"
The man smiled down at Harry "I am Professor Remus Lupin. I shall be your new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher. Now from the look of things the two of you need more chocolate."
He took out another bar of Honeydukes finest and gave pieces to Harry and Emma, then left them all alone. Harry and Emma ate the chocolate but while it was tasty it was not helping them. They were not sure anything could.
"Do you guys wanna talk about it?" Colin asked Emma and Harry.
Harry didn't look at Colin nor did he release his sister from his arms as he spoke "I heard a promise. My mother's dying words."
That declaration brought a round of gasps. Emma moaned into her brother's shoulder at the confirmation. Any chance of conversation was killed after that, the now heavily grim students collected their robes and changed in the different compartments. Upon arrival at the station in Hogsmeade, the train was welcomed with the most torrential downpour of rain one could imagine. But Harry and Emma felt that it matched their mood pretty well.
Harry kept his sister close to himself as the group rushed through the rain to the carriages, not that she complained. That was a thoroughly horrible experience.
"Hey Potter!" called out Malfoy "Is it true you fainted?"
"Shove off Malfoy." Replied Ron.
"You faint to Weasley." Sneered Malfoy superiorly.
"Get stuffed Blondie." Said Geoffrey.
Their friends ushered both Potters onto the first carriage along with Luna and Neville, the former was still heavily upset and being comforted by the latter.
The carriage wandered to the gates of Hogwarts and they all felt it. The cold presence of more Dementors. Upon looking out Harry saw two of them floating on either side of the gates to the school. The others also got a glimpse of them.
"Why are they here?" moaned Emma. She began to shiver and she was not the only one. Harry kept an arm around her but she could tell his body was quivering in response to the very presence of the Dementors.
"The Ministry must think that Sirius Black is coming here." Said Luna morosely "There is no other reason I can think of."
"Why would he come here?" said Neville "There has to be more magical people here than in any other part of the country. Except maybe London."
"The Ministry doesn't exactly make a lot of sense." Said Harry. "Maybe Dumbledore will explain inside."
The four of them rushed inside the castle and waited for their other friends to arrive. As other students passed by, it was obvious the four of them were not the only ones who felt the effects of the Dementors. There was hardly a face that wasn't grim, sour or otherwise disturbed. More than one person seemed to be physically shivering in revulsion.
The others all showed up, but before they could all make it to the Great Hall, Professor McGonagall got to them.
"Could the Following students come with me: Mr and Miss Potter, Mr and Miss Weasley, Messrs Longbottom, Hooper, Creevey and Messes Frobisher, Fairbourne, Lovegood, Robins and Granger."
Harry's silently admired Professor McGonagall for being able to call forth his entire Defence Group in such a manner. They all followed the Professor to her classroom. Despite there being more than enough seats for everyone, Harry pulled Emma onto his lap and held her close.
"Professor Lupin sent an owl on ahead stating that some of you were adversely affected by the presence of a Dementor on the train." She said.
"We were." Harry confirmed rubbing his sister's back.
Not for the first time in the last year, McGonagall found herself heavily moved by the brother and sister connection in front of her. She along with everyone else was brought back to reality by the door opening and Madam Pomfrey entering the classroom.
"Oh really what have you all done this time?" she demanded.
"It was a Dementor. Some of them reacted rather adversely to it." Said Professor McGonagall.
Pomfrey took that in but went straight for Potter number 1 and Potter number 2 then about examining the pair of them.
"It seems you two received a bit of a shock. Did you pass out?"
"We did." Said Harry.
"Me." Said Neville "I'm fine though."
"I… I did too." Said Demelza.
"Luna didn't pass out but…" trailed of Neville looking at her. She was still unusually gloomy.
Pomfrey looked to Luna and walked up to her "Did you relive a nasty memory dear?"
"What would you prescribe Poppy? A night in the Hospital Wing?"
"Well, have any of you had any chocolate?"
"Yes mam." Said Emma. "Professor Lupin gave us some. Even gave Harry and me extra."
"Well it's good to know we have a Defence professor who knows what he's doing." Said Madam Pomfrey. "But I think Miss Lovegood here might benefit from a calming drought."
She pulled out a phial and had Luna swallow it whole.
"As for the rest of you, you're a bit shaken but otherwise fine. I would advise you to try and put whatever you went through from your minds. My door is always open should you need to talk about it, but I don't think any of you need to spend the night in my domain."
"Thank you Poppy. Could you escort the Second Years downstairs. I have something else I wish to talk to the others about."
Emma reluctantly got off her brother and walked with the others downstairs. Luna seemed much better after downing the phial. Emma wondered what trauma the Dementors made her relive.
"I need to join the Ravenclaw table." Said Luna.
"Are you sure you don't wish to stay with us?" asked Ginny, still worried for her friend.
"I would very much like to." Said Luna "But unfortunately I need to be there to welcome the new members of my House."
"Oh." Said Ginny "Well Breakfast then?"
"I need to stay at my table then as well, so Professor Flitwick can give me my timetable." Said Luna regretfully. "I can make Lunch though."
Emma pulled her blond-hair friend into a quick hug. "Please come find us if you need to talk."
"Thank you Emma. But it's just a bad memory, I can put it behind me."
Luna left her friends and joined her housemates. Emma and the others went to sit down and waited for Harry and the others.
By this stage the sorting was well underway and all but a half dozen new First Years had been sorted. Professor Flitwick was conducting the Sorting, using his wand to levitate the hat on and off the 11-year-olds.
The four Third Years wandered into the hall with Professor McGonagall, just as the Sorting finished.
"What was that about?" said Emma.
"Hermione's extra-large timetable." Said Harry "I'll tell you later. Luna not with us?"
"She's not allowed, we have to be at our house tables for the ceremony and for getting our timetables tomorrow." Said Emma.
"Will she be alright?" said Hermione looking over to the Ravenclaw table, trying to find her.
"She seems to think so." Said Emma. "All we can do is wait and see how she is in the morning."
Harry nodded. He and everyone stopped talking as Professor Dumbledore stood up to give his start of term announcement.
"Welcome to yet another year of Hogwarts. Before we all fill our bellies with what I hope to be a grand and scrumptious feast, I have a few things I wish to say. One of which is very serious and will be dealt with now.
As you are no doubt aware, a Dementor boarded the train that brought you here. It was searching for a prisoner who escaped from Azkaban Prison over the summer. Until further notice or a time when this fugitive is apprehended our school will be playing host to the Dementors of Azkaban. They are stationed at every entrance to the school and surround the boundaries around Hogwarts. While they are with us I must make it absolutely clear that no one is to leave the school grounds without permission. Dementors by their nature are very dangerous and they have no concept of mercy or compassion. Should you come afoul of them, they will not hesitate because you are sorry or because you plead for forgiveness, which is why I must urge you not to challenge them or interfere with them. For the duration of this stay, they are not allowed to enter the school boundaries. Dementors also do not perceive the world in the same way we do; they will not be fooled by disguises, tricks or invisibility cloaks."
Harry and Emma felt that last comment was directed specifically at them, for obvious reasons.
"I therefore look to our prefects, as well as our new Head Boy and Girl to make sure no student inadvertently or otherwise antagonise the Dementors."
Percy seemed to hold himself up proud when the Headmaster made that announcement.
"On a happier note, I would like to welcome two new teachers to our ranks this year. Firstly taking up the position for Defence Against the Dark Arts is Professor Remus Lupin."
There was a polite applause and mixed with Harry, Emma and friends offering distinctly more enthusiasm.
"Secondly. Our Care of Magical Creatures teacher, Professor Kettleburn, has chosen to retire in order to take care of what remains of his limbs. In his place we are delighted to welcome our Gamekeeper who has agreed to take on this role in addition to his other duties."
Harry, Ron, Hermione and Neville stared at each other in amazement, quickly before they all joined the hall in rapturous applause. Care of Magical Creatures was the only elective subject that they were all taking. It now made sense why they had to get a biting book, only Hagrid would ask them to get something like that.
"Now, it gives me great pleasure to let the feast begin." Said Dumbledore happily. With two claps of his hands food materialized on the table.
Harry and Emma found the shock of the Dementor attack wore off as they filled themselves with hot food and pumpkin juice. Despite that though, it felt strange to be back at the Gryffindor table but not to have Luna with them. There were a number of times the previous year everyone had just forgot that she was a Ravenclaw. Of course when the restrictions were put up and they were all confined to the Common Rooms it wasn't so easy to forget. But when the Chamber of Secrets issues were resolved, Harry and Emma soon forgot about the different House. They and the others had not really spent an extensive amount of time in the Gryffindor Common Room. The unused classroom outside Gryffindor Tower had become a substitute space that served the same purpose. With that thought in mind, Harry wondered if maybe he should decorate it. But he then discarded that thought on the grounds that spell-fire would quickly ruin any attempt at decoration.
When the feast ended, the Defence group all rushed over to congratulate Hagrid.
"It's great, I always want'd te be a teacher." He said happily. "Yer gonna be me first class tomorrow. I 'ope ye'll like it."
"I'm sure we will." Said Harry.
"Right of ye go the lot of ye." Said Hagrid, "Ye'll need to be nice an' rested fer yer classes. Specially you Hermione." He ushered them away.
"Why does Hermione particularly need to sleep?" said Demelza.
"We'll tell you later tomorrow. McGonagall doesn't want his getting out." Said Ron.
Harry meanwhile looked to Luna. She was much better after the calming drought but she still looked gloomy like Emma and Demelza did.
"Luna are you going to be ok?" said Neville before Harry could.
"I believe so." Said Luna in response to Neville's question. "I will admit I didn't expect to ever hear her voice again but I shall be fine."
Neville acting with uncharacteristic courage pulled Luna into a hug. "Are you sure you'll be alright?"
"Yes Neville, you don't need to worry. I'll be fine." said Luna.
Neville released her from the hug, "We'll talk at brake tomorrow, ok?"
Luna nodded and left with the other Ravenclaws.
Neville turned to see the rest of his Gryffindor friends looking at him. "What?" he said.
"Nothing." Said Emma smiling. Neville had been helping both Colin and Luna out with their Herbology homework last year. With Colin in hospital he still kept on helping Luna, it seemed that the two of them must have gotten closer during that time.
The Gryffindors made their way up to the portrait hole only to realise that none of them knew the password. Thankfully Percy and the upper years showed up.
"The Password is Fortuna Major." He called out to those assembled at the entrance.
Once inside the Common Room everyone made their way up to the Dormitories. Emma found Mopsus unhappily waiting in his cat box, so she immediately let him out.
"Mew!" he whined.
"I'm sorry." She said "But you're a cat, a Kneazle granted, but you still need to travel like this. I'll try not to make a habit of it but you are going to have to get used to a cat box."
"Emma?" said Demelza.
"Yeah?" smiled Emma looking up.
"Are you going to be alright?"
"Yeah I'll be fine. What about you?"
"I'll be ok I just reheard… Dobby…"
"Oh." Said Emma "I heard Riddle laughing at me. I was left down there with only him for a long time… A lot of the time he was…"
"I'm sorry." Said Ginny looking guilty.
"Hey you're not allowed to be sorry." Said Natalie "It wasn't your fault."
"What she said." Said Vicky "Don't let it get to you, from the sounds of things these Dementors like playing on bad memories. This doesn't change anything."
"It doesn't make me feel much better though." Said Emma. "But Natalie's right Ginny, don't blame yourself for that. It wasn't your fault last year and it isn't your fault this year."
The girls stayed up talking for a little while longer before they all climbed into bed. Emma found the feeling of the warm sheets wrapped around her very comforting and she found the Mopsus sized blob on her thigh a little awkward but never the less welcome. It was good to be back.
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