Here you go, chapter one of my sequel! The posting will be slow, as I will try to post the chapters as soon as I finish them, instead of finishing the fic before posting them. Please leave a review at the door.
The now twenty-year old Harry Potter slowly closed the book Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and put it down as he sat alone in his flat, smoking his pipe. He had to admit, it was not at all the same without Neville around. It was good to have someone with him on whom he could rely to be there for him for anything, someone who would go up against the king of serpents with him, someone like Neville.
Speak of the Devil, and He shall appear, the saying goes, for just then, the door to Harry's flat opened, only to stop halfway as it connected with a large pile of books on the floor.
"Nice to see you've been keeping busy," came Neville's voice as Harry's all-time best friend poked his head in. "Hello, Harry."
"Neville!" Harry said as he shot out of his armchair, rushing over to shake Neville's hand as the boy, now man, squeezed into the room. The two shook hands with broad smiles on their faces. "How have you been, old boy?"
"Smashing, as usual," Neville said happily. "And yourself?"
Harry groaned. "The horrors of stagnation is upon me. I haven't had an interesting case for a week, and it's really starting to get to me..."
"Couple that with Sirius moving out... I pity you, Harry," Neville said sympathetically as he started unblocking the door, getting it open enough to roll a trunk into the room. "But never fear, Neville is here to save the day."
Harry's eyes widened. "You got your license, then?"
"Got it fifteen minutes ago," Neville said with a nod. "Went home, grabbed my packed trunk, and came here." Then, Neville took on an uncertain look. "I mean, if the offer to move in is still-"
"Don't speak nonsense, Neville!" Harry interrupted immediately. "There is a room empty and available right there!" he said, pointing to the second door from the front door. There were a total of five doors in that room, the front door, one leading into the kitchen, the next a door leading into what would become Neville's room, the bathroom, and finally Harry's room. "You are most welcome."
Neville gave a sigh of relief. "Thank you."
As soon as Neville had unpacked properly, Harry had settled into his armchair, considerably more happy now than he had been just a few minutes before, and when Neville came back, they had immediately launched into discussion, for old time's sake.
"My dear Neville," Harry said as they sat on either side of the fire, upon the mantelpiece of which they both had displayed their Orders of Merlin, First Class, "life is infinitely stranger than anything which the mind of man could invent. We would not dare to conceive the things which are really mere commonplaces of existence. If we could fly out of that window hand in hand, hover over this great city, gently remove the roofs, and peep in at the queer things which are going on, the strange coincidences, the plannings, the crosspurposes, the wonderful chains of events, working through generations, and leading to the most outre results, it would make all fiction with its conventionalities and foreseen conclusions stale and unprofitable."
"And yet I am not convinced of it," Neville answered, a smirk playing on his lips, showing that he had missed these talks just as much as Harry had. "The cases which come to light in the papers are, as a rule, bald enough, and vulgar enough. We have in our police reports realism pushed to its extreme limits, and yet the result is neither fascinating nor artistic."
"A certain selection and discretion must be used in producing a realistic effect," Harry remarked. "This is wanting in the Auror report, where more stress is laid, perhaps, upon the platitudes of the magistrate than upon the details, which to an observer contain the vital essence of the whole matter. Depend upon it, there is nothing so unnatural as the commonplace."
Neville smiled and shook his head. "I can quite understand your thinking so," he said. "Of course, in your position of unofficial adviser and helper to everybody who is absolutely puzzled, throughout three continents, you are brought in contact with all that is strange and bizarre. But here..."
Neville reached down and picked up an old copy of the Daily Prophet.
"Let's put it to a practical test. Here's the first heading I see: 'A husband's cruelty to his wife.' There is half a column of print, but I know without reading it that it is all perfectly familiar to me. There is, of course, the other woman, the drink, the push, the blow, the bruise, the sympathetic sister or landlady. The crudest of writers could invent nothing more crude."
"Indeed, your example is an unfortunate one for your argument," Harry said, taking the paper and glancing his eye down it. "This is the Dundas separation case, and, as it happens, I was engaged in clearing up some small points in connection with it. The husband was a teetotaler, there was no other woman, and the conduct complained of was that he had drifted into the habit of winding up every meal by taking out his false teeth and hurling them at his wife, which, you will allow, is not an action likely to occur to the imagination of the average story-teller. Have a cigar, Neville, and acknowledge that I have scored over you in your
He picked up a finely carved ebony box and opened it, revealing a large amount of thin cigars. Neville, who had gotten a taste for tobacco, took one with a sigh.
"Will I ever triumph, thank you," he said as he accepted a snipper from Harry, snipping the end of the cigar, "over you, Harry?" he finished asking, before lighting the cigar.
"You might. You mustn't doubt yourself, however, Neville," Harry said seriously. "It is when we doubt ourselves that our skills are at their worst. It is easier to trust your instincts and then admit that you are wrong, than to doubt yourself and fail miserably."
"I'll take that to heart," Neville said gratefully, puffing on his cigar. "So, do you have any cases on hand just now?" he asked with interest.
"Some ten or twelve," Harry admitted, but sighed, "but none which present any feature of interest. They're important, you see, without being interesting. Indeed, I've found that, outside Hogwarts, it's usually in unimportant matters that there's a field for the observation, and for the quick analysis for cause and effect which gives the charm to an investigation. The larger crimes are apt to be the simpler, because the bigger the crime, the more obvious, as a rule, is the motive."
"Which is why people come to you," Neville concluded. "Because they see the complete opposite."
"Most of them."
They sat in silence for a while. Then, Harry asked, "So, when did you decide to grow a mustache?"
An embarrassed grin appeared on Neville's face as he ran his hand over the chevron mustache on his face.
"Well, Hannah said I'd look good in it."
"Hannah?" Harry asked, raising an eyebrow. "How are things going between you two?"
"Pretty good," Neville said, nodding. "I think I might ask her to marry me soon."
Harry choked on his own spit.
"In... Indeed?" he asked in shock. "You..."
"Oh, I haven't decided yet," Neville said, shaking his head. "I have yet to find a suitable ring. If I find a ring that's perfect for her, then I'll decide to ask her to marry me. With my books selling so well, I can more than afford it."
"Well, deciding whether or not you should propose judging by if you find the right ring, I suppose is a better way to decide, rather than using Divination," Harry reasoned with a nod as he puffed on his pipe.
Neville hummed, and steered the conversation back to what they were talking about.
"Anyway, with Voldemort and at least Wormtail after you, how can you live so calmly?" he asked. "I mean, I didn't sense any wards around the building when I entered."
"Of course you didn't sense them, you meant me no harm," Harry said, chewing on his pipe. "But had you meant to harm me... Oh, you would have felt it. It always shocks Scrimgeour whenever he arrives, because in the back of his head, he wants to at least punch me."
"Oh, Neville!" Harry called, shaking Neville out of his thoughts as he stood outside a jeweler in Diagon Alley, staring through the window at the engagement rings there. Neville looked up to see his friend approaching, still dressed in the same manner as he did back in school, whereas Neville had switched to a brown check Harris Tweed high-revers lounge suit, single-breasted slip-on waxed overcoat, and a double stiff collar shirt with stud, though still sporting his high crown brown bowler.
"Harry," Neville greeted, nodding. "What's the hurry?"
"Oh, no hurry, old boy, no hurry at all," Harry said with a smile. "I merely got a new case, and could use some company. Would you mind coming with me?"
Neville reached into his pocket and fished out a pocket watch. "I have about an hour."
"That is more than enough," Harry said, abruptly grabbing Neville's arm, and a second later Neville felt himself in a side-along Apparition with Harry.
They appeared in front of the London Zoo. Two men in Auror robes stood outside the entrance, which had a sign that told visitors that they were closed, and Neville felt magic course through him as they approached, probably a Muggle-repelling ward. The two Aurors nodded to Harry as they made their way inside.
"So, a murder, then?" Neville asked, and Harry nodded.
"Indeed, a most peculiar murder. After reading Auror Shacklebolt's report, I found myself intrigued, and decided to come here myself to take a look."
They reached the lion pen, where a very tall and broad-shouldered black man stood. He had a very serious look on his face, and a large gold hoop in his left ear.
"Mr. Potter," the man greeted in a slow, deep voice.
"Kingsley," Harry greeted with a nod. "Neville, I'd like you to meet Auror Kingsley Shacklebolt. Kingsley, this is Neville Longbottom, my good friend and chronicler."
"Nice to meet you, Mr. Longbottom," Shacklebolt said, shaking Neville's hand with a strong grip.
"Likewise, Mr. Shacklebolt."
"Please, call me Kingsley. Everyone does."
"So, you believe it was a Killing Curse?" Harry asked as he made his way over to the fence to stare into the lion pen, Neville following. The lion male and three females hadn't been removed from the pen yet, and in the very center of it, on top of a rock that the lion male was pacing restlessly around, was the body of a man, his eyes closed with an expression on his face as if he was sleeping. Neville recognized him, but couldn't quite remember who it was.
"What do you think, Neville?" Harry asked as he took out his wand. He gave it a wave, and the fence split open. Another fence rose from the ground, creating a path over to and around the rock upon which the body lay, and the two made their way over to it. "Killing Curse?"
"The lions haven't eaten the body yet," Neville commented, knowing this was a test. "Although they generally don't like eating meat they haven't taken down themselves, it is usual for them to completely avoid meat when it's available to them. Poison?"
"Very good, Neville."
Neville took out his wand as they reached the body, and cast a Diagnostic Charm. The results told him that, indeed, this man had been poisoned.
"By his expression, I'd say the poison took effect while he slept," Neville guessed, and Harry nodded approvingly. "And judging by how far throughout his body the poison has spread, the time of death occurred approximately two nights ago."
"This is Dedalus Diggle," Kingsley told them, having come up behind them. "The zookeeper came to check on the lions and found him like this just this morning."
"The third..." Harry mumbled to himself, making both Neville and Kingsley lean closer curiously. "This is the third member of the original Order of the Phoenix who has been killed within a single month," he explained, to which they both went wide-eyed. "First Sturgis Podmore, then Emmeline Vance, and now Dedalus Diggle..."
Harry went through the usual motions of poking, prodding, unbuttoning and looking over the body, then the surrounding area. Then, he took out his wand and gave it a wave.
"Everything suggests the use of the Kiss of Death," Neville said, having finished his own inspection. "However, it's an excruciatingly painful poison... How can he look so peaceful?"
"And how could he be asleep in his daywear?" Harry asked, giving off an "Aha!" as he found a quill inside Diggle's coat. "Here we have the Portkey that brought Diggle to his furry little friends. This is a sign, Neville."
Neville blinked in confusion. "The quill?"
"The symbol, the lions!" Harry said impatiently. "Vance was found murdered in her lion-carved bed, Podmore was found next to a lion statue in Edinburgh, and now Diggle in a lion pen. None of them killed there, but brought there. Coincidence? I think not."
"What do you think, then?"
"It's merely a theory," Harry whispered, making sure Kingsley didn't hear them, "but I suspect that the Heir of Slytherin has returned..."
"All day the wind had screamed and the rain had beaten against the windows, so that even here in the heart of great, hand-made London we were forced to raise our minds for the instant from the routine of life, and to recognize the presence of those great elemental forces which shriek at mankind through the bars of his civilization, like untamed beasts in a cage. Does that sound good?"
"The Five Orange Pips," Harry said immediately, sitting by the window in 221B Diagon Alley, staring down at the streets below.
"Pardon?" Neville asked.
"You channeled Sir Conan Doyle there," Harry clarified. "That's exactly what he wrote in The Five Orange Pips when he described the weather. I'm amazed you think exactly like him when it comes to writing. Very good, Neville," he said, then turned his gaze back to the window. "Look at that, Neville... Calm... quiet... peaceful... Don't you just hate it?"
Neville looked up from his writing, thinking. "Not really, no. But, then again, my brain is normal."
"That's it," Harry said, rising from his chair and walking toward his room. "I'm going to cross-index my crime records."
When Harry came out of his room, he had a large pile of folders in his hands. Neville sighed as Harry slumped into the armchair next to him in front of the fire.
"Is this all there is to adult life?" Neville asked with a tired sigh. "Doing what we decided to do with our lives, then just sitting at home, waiting to do it?"
"I can see that the boredom is getting a grip of you as well," Harry said with a hum, loading his pipe and lighting it. Then, he blinked. "We have a visitor."
As Harry said, they soon heard footsteps outside the door, and a soft knocking came upon it.
"Come in!" Harry called.
The door opened, to reveal Cornelius Fudge, again wearing that horrible green suit and pinstriped cloak, fiddling with his bowler hat.
"Harry, my boy," he said, putting on a happy smile, but Harry saw right through it. The man was nervous, and looked like he was a bit angry as well. "How good to see you, good to see you..."
"Good afternoon, Minister," Harry said with a nod as he and Neville rose from their chairs. He whipped out his wand, and the chairs spun so that they were facing the settee behind them. "Please, have a seat."
"Oh, thank you, my boy," Fudge said as he sat down in the settee, while Harry and Neville took their usual seats. "Harry... Dumbledore visited me in my office yesterday, and told me something disturbing... He told me that you believe that You-Know-Who has returned to full power... Naturally, I shot it down immediately. Even you wouldn't-"
"It's a theory," Harry interrupted, seeing Fudge grow paler. "Although it's a theory I have yet to prove. I merely think that it would be best to be on our guard, just in case. No need to broadcast it, however. If he really is back, and believes that no one knows about it, then he won't do anything to attract attention to himself."
"You believe that he is back, then?"
"I do, without a doubt," Harry said firmly with a nod. "However, I'm not so foolish so as to try to convince you without concrete evidence to support it."
Fudge gave an audible sigh of relief.
"Thank you, my boy. You have eased many of my concerns, I must say. For a moment there, I thought that Dumbledore might be trying to spread mass-panic."
"I wouldn't rely too much on the headmaster, Minister," Harry said, getting a confused look from Fudge. "With all due respect to Dumbledore, he has a very... odd way of looking at things. He has the firm belief that what he thinks should be done is the only thing that should be done. I don't think he has taken into consideration just, as you said, how the people would panic if you suddenly announced the return of the Dark Lord Voldemort."
Fudge flinched at the name, and Neville took Harry's cigar case, offering Fudge one, which he took gratefully, along with a snipper.
"So, you believe I should put up my guard, but not enough to rouse suspicion?"
"We wait, is what I think," Harry said. "We are dealing with a mastermind, Minister. The greatest schemer of all time, the organizer of every deviltry, the controlling brain of the underworld, a brain which might have made or marred the destiny of nations. He is not one to be trifled with. We wait for him to make the first move. When he does, then you may raise the alarm. But should Dumbledore start announcing the return of Lord Voldemort, then do not outright deny it. Merely say that there are theories that say that he may have returned. Then you won't look like a complete liar if Voldemort reveals himself."
Fudge seemed to be processing this while he puffed on his cigar. The smoke from the various tobaccos mingled in the room, a scent that Harry found to smell quite good.
"Thank you again, Harry," Fudge said as he rose from his seat. He shook hands with both Harry and Neville, and with a friendly "Good-bye!" he left the flat.
The headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix may be found at number twelve, Grummauld Place, London.
"This is the place?" Neville asked as he and Harry stood on a patch of unkempt grass in the middle of a small square. The grimy fronts of the surrounding houses were not welcoming. Some of them had broken windows, glimmering dully in the light from the streetlamps, paint was pealing from many of the doors, and heaps of rubbish lay outside several sets of front steps.
"Looks like it," Harry said with a nod, moving from the patch of grass, across the road, and onto the pavement.
The muffled pounding of a stereo was coming from an upper window in the nearest house. A pungent smell of rotting rubbish came from the pile of bulging bin-bags just inside the broken gate.
"Number eleven..." Harry muttered, pointing at one of the houses with his walking stick, then to the one next to it. "And thirteen..."
Harry nodded and took out his wand, setting the note on fire. They both took a step back in surprise when a battered door suddenly emerged out of nowhere between numbers eleven and thirteen, followed swiftly by dirty walls and grimy windows. It was as though an extra house had inflated, pushing those on either side out of the way. Neville gaped, and looking to Harry he saw a large smile on his friend's face. He never seemed to cease being surprised at just what magic could do.
The two stood in silence for a while, apprehensive. Then, Harry cleared his throat.
"Well, shall we?"
Together, they approached the door, and Harry raised his hand, grabbing the serpent-shaped silver door knocker and knocking twice.
Immediately, the two jumped in surprise when screams erupted from the inside. Neville clutched at his heart, wondering what kind of horrors were taking place inside to create such a noise. Within moments, however, the screaming stopped, and loud, metallic clicks were heard from the door, along with what sounded like the clatter of a chair. Then, the door creaked open, revealing the smiling figure of Sirius Orion Black.
"Harry, Neville!" he whispered in delight, bringing both men in for a one-armed hug. "So good to see you! Come on into the devil's lair, but be quiet."
"The devil's lair?" Harry asked quietly, raising an eyebrow as they both stepped inside.
"It was my mother's," Sirius clarified, to which Harry gave an "Ah" of understanding.
The devil's lair was, in Neville's opinion, an apt description for the house. He could smell damp, dust, and a sweetish, rotting smell, and the place had the feel of a derelict building. Old-fashioned gas lamps were lining the walls, casting a flickering insubstantial light over the peeling wallpaper and threadbare carpet of a long, gloomy hallway, where a cobwebbed chandelier glimmered overhead and age-blackened portraits hung crooked on the walls.
"What was that screaming?" Neville whispered, and Sirius pointed to the portraits, all of which were covered by black curtains.
"Any loud noise, and the old bat goes off," Sirius whispered, clicking his tongue. "We've been trying to get her down since we got here, but we think she put a Permanent Sticking Charm on the back of the canvas. Let's get downstairs, quick, before they all wake up again," Sirius said as he led them through a door from the hall and down a flight of narrow stone steps. They followed him down to the bottom of the stairs and through a door leading into the basement kitchen.
It was scarcely less gloomy than the hall above, a cavernous room with rough stone walls. Most of the light was coming from a large fire at the far end of the room. A haze of pipe smoke hung in the air like battle fumes, through which loomed the menacing shapes of heavy iron pots and pans hanging from the dark ceiling. Many chairs had been crammed into the room as if for a meeting and a long wooden table stood in the middle of the room, littered with rolls of parchment, goblets, empty wine bottles, and a heap of what appeared to be rags. Two redheads, one of whom Neville recognized as the Weasley patriarch, were talking quietly with their heads together at the end of the table. At the other end of the table sat none other than Albus Dumbledore.
"Ah, Harry, Neville!" Dumbledore greeted happily when he saw them. "How are you, boys?"
"Doing well, Professor," Harry said, nodding in greeting.
"Likewise," Neville said, tipping his hat toward the headmaster, who waved them off.
"Oh, come now, you are no longer in school, and are free to call me Albus."
Harry chuckled warmly, but Neville detected a bit of deceit in his chuckle.
"I'm sorry, but I don't think I'm neither old or experienced enough to call you that."
"Dumbledore, then?" Dumbledore suggested, and the two nodded.
"I can try, but I think you'll always be Professor Dumbledore to me," Neville said apologetically.
"So, this is the famous Order of the Phoenix?" Harry asked, clicking his tongue. "I have to admit, your first impression is horrible."
"I admit that we do not look too impressive at the moment, but I assure you that we have many members," he said.
"They won't do it, Albus," Sirius said, shaking his head. "Like I said earlier, they won't."
"Won't what?" Neville asked.
"Join the Order of the Phoenix, of course," Harry said, and Dumbledore nodded, which made Neville's eyes widen. His parents had been part of the Order, and so had his gran. "But I won't join," Harry continued.
"No?" Dumbledore asked, peering at Harry over the rim of his half-moon glasses.
"No," Harry said, then looked to Neville, who felt a little exposed at being stared at by both Harry and Dumbledore.
"Well, I just started my private practice, so I don't know if I'll have the time for it," Neville said carefully, "so I'll have to decline as well."
"I am sorry to hear that," Dumbledore said sadly. "However, boys, it is an open invitation, so if you change your minds, you know where to find us."
"We'll keep that in mind, thank you," Harry said with a nod.
Neville didn't know why, but on the way out, Harry made sure to slam the door extra hard, which made the screaming start inside again.
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