Disclaimer: I own nothing of JK Rowling's world. The only characters that are mine are the Watkins family, the Garcías, and Emily Hughes.
SCRIMGEOUR SUCCEEDS FUDGE
Rufus Scrimgeour, previously Head of the Auror office in the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, has succeeded Cornelius Fudge as Minister of Magic. The appointment has largely been greeted with enthusiasm by the Wizarding community, though rumors of a rift between the new Minister and Albus Dumbledore, newly reinstated Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot, surfaced within hours of Scrimgeour taking office.
"Of course they did."
Sixteen-year-old Bryt Watkins looked up from where she was elbow-deep in soap suds and turned to look over her shoulder. She had been washing up the frying pans from breakfast while her best friend, bushy-haired Hermione Granger, sat at the table behind her and read from the Daily Prophet. She hadn't noticed, however, the tall, dark-skinned woman who had come into the kitchen.
"When'd you get here?" Bryt asked.
"What, no hi for your favorite Auror?" the woman asked, leaning against the doorframe with a smirk. Bryt rolled her eyes.
"Hello, Emily," Hermione greeted from the table.
"See, that's a proper way to greet someone," Emily Hughes said with a nod, "Not 'When'd you get here?'"
Bryt rolled her eyes again and turned back to the pan she was cleaning. Truthfully, she liked having Emily around. She was an Auror who tried to take time every day to stop by the Watkins household—and was also responsible for the protective spells that kept Bryt's family safe. More importantly, however, Bryt liked Emily so much because the woman was the reason her mother had finally become accepting of the wizarding world and no longer banned any mention of magic within the house.
"And I see neither of you are paying attention to Ministry pamphlets," Emily said in a mock-scolding tone, "Neither of you have asked me any security questions, after all."
"Did we even set up security questions?" Bryt asked, confused.
"Maybe we should," Hermione said, "Especially since we're going to be heading out quite a lot over the summer, Bryt."
"And what's to stop Death Eaters from torturing the information out of us before impersonating us?" Bryt replied.
"You could always come up with things that aren't seen as important," Emily pointed out, "At least, not to them. Like what you wore on a certain day or how you got a specific scar."
Instinctively, Bryt raised her hand to put it over her most recent scar—a thick gash along the upper-left half of her back, gained not even two weeks before—but stopped herself when she remembered how wet her arm was and she didn't feel like changing shirts. Instead, she turned and started searching for a rag to begin drying off the pans she just finished washing.
"Or the specific scent of what candle I got you on what year, Bryt," Hermione said, referring to the fact that Hermione got Bryt a different scented candle for Christmas every year.
"That works, too," Emily said, "Even if Death Eaters got information about the candles, they wouldn't know specifically what kinds. You should also set up trick questions, like Bryt. What'd we have for dinner when I visited last Saturday?"
Bryt gave Emily a confused look.
"You didn't stay for dinner," she said and Emily grinned at her.
"Exactly," she said, "A Death Eater in disguise might try to make something up from information they know, hoping to guess right. Trick questions are as useful as specific ones."
Bryt looked over to Hermione, who looked as if she were already trying to think up the best security questions.
"We're going to have a lot to talk about with Sofí and Julio," she said.
Hermione instantly sat up straighter, starting to grin at the mention of her long-time boyfriend, Julio García. Bryt couldn't blame her, though, considering that Julio was currently in the process of moving to a small home in the middle of London.
"When are they going to be here?" Hermione asked, as if she hadn't already memorized the date.
"Sometime tomorrow," Bryt replied, "They have to finish clearing things with the Department of International Magical Cooperation."
"They'll most likely have an easier time than most," Emily said, "Scrimgeour will probably pull strings since the Garcías are friends with 'The Chosen One' to get them through. Probably so he can call in a favor sometime down the line."
Bryt made a face at the nickname that had been given recently to one of her other friends, Harry Potter. Ever since the Daily Prophet had ran an article on what happened in the Department of Mysteries and brought up theories on the prophecy that had been smashed, the public opinion had become that Harry was 'destined' to stop Voldemort.
"They'd probably had been here already if they didn't stay in America for Julio to have one last July Fourth," Bryt said, though she couldn't blame him. Julio was in for a huge change, moving to a new country. And unlike Bryt, who moved here five years ago with her family, Julio was moving on his own. At least Sofí was going to spend the summer with him before heading back to the US for her final year at Salem, after which she'd most likely take up a job at her father's Quidditch and Quodpot supply store.
"Julio's already been accepted for training at St. Mungo's," Hermione said proudly, "He won't begin until next week, though. They wanted to give him ample time to settle into his new home."
"And it'll be nice to have Julio close by again. I've always liked that boy."
Bryt, who had just sat down across from Hermione and pulled over the Daily Prophet, looked up to see her mother had come into the room. Mrs. Watkins grinned briefly at Emily before coming over and sitting at the table.
"Julio's eighteen, Mom," Bryt said, "He's not exactly a 'boy' anymore."
"I watched him grow up for twelve years," Mrs. Watkins pointed out, "He'll always be that scrawny little boy to me. Just like you'll—"
"So, when will Dad be back with Mike and Drew?" Bryt cut in, not wanting to have her mother embarrass her in front of Hermione and Emily—the latter of which was smirking from behind Mrs. Watkins's back.
"I don't know," Mrs. Watkins sighed, "Your brothers still hadn't decided what movie they wanted to go see. I mean, at Hogwarts for the past nine months have left them out of contact for what's most recent."
Bryt knew the feeling. Every year, she knew less and less about what was common in the Muggle world. Bryt didn't think too much on it—after all, she rarely kept up on the latest news before she found out she was a witch—but every summer, her brothers went out to see at least one recent movie in theaters at the time. Bryt would have gone with them this year, but she was still strictly under 'house arrest' by her parents after they had found out about her part in the events at the Department of Mysteries. It had been a miracle that she'd talked them into letting Hermione spend the summer with her—though she felt Emily had a part in convincing her parents. She had pointed out that there was a safety in numbers at a time like this and as long as Hermione was around, Bryt would never be able to go anywhere on her own. Besides Hermione staying, the only other exception to Bryt's grounding at the moment was that she would be allowed to visit Julio to help him settle into his new house—and then only because Bryt had promised to help her friend months beforehand. Though Bryt felt she whole-heartedly deserved her grounding, she was hoping that her parents would become more lax as time went on so that she'd be able to visit her other friends over the summer—mainly, Harry and her boyfriend, Ron Weasley.
"You have a new minister?" Mrs. Watkins asked, pointing to the moving picture of Rufus Scrimgeour that was on the cover of the Daily Prophet.
"Yeah, after everything with Fudge, it was only a matter of time," Bryt said, still feeling a bit awkward talking to her mother about events of the magical world. Her mother, who used to be so bitter about it, refusing to let magic even be mentioned around her, was suddenly trying to take more of an interest. She wasn't obsessively trying to find out everything possible, but she was occasionally asking questions about current events and skimming through Bryt's copies of the Daily Prophet.
"Fudge was practically run out of the office from what I heard," Emily said from the doorway—Bryt had a suspicion that her still standing there wasn't a mistake. Bryt knew from experience that position left a perfect view of both the house's front door up the hallway and the back door on the other side of the kitchen. Emily may be a family friend, but she was still an Auror and it was hard to forget part of why the woman was here was to make sure the Watkins family stayed safe.
"After everything from last year, it's not surprising," Mrs. Watkins said, "If I was a witch, I wouldn't want someone like Fudge in charge either."
Bryt opened her mouth to reply, but was distracted by something small and brown that had just flew in through the open kitchen window. Merlin—Drew's black-and-white cat that had been on the window ledge at the time—let out a hiss, taking off from the room while Crookshanks, Hermione large orange tabby, watched the flying object closely. Bryt sighed, knowing what it was, and stood up, having to climb into her chair to catch the tiny owl flying above their heads.
"Calm down, Pig," she said, trying not to grip too tightly to her boyfriend's tiny owl, "Be still for a second."
Bryt finally managed to get the letter from Pig, then let him go to fly around again. Mrs. Watkins stared at the owl, shaking her head. Though she was becoming more accepting of the wizarding world, there were still things that she wasn't used to. Mail coming in by owl was one of them.
Bryt sat back down, spreading out the letter Pig had delivered, feeling a little too eager for news from Ron—after all, it'd barely been more than a week since she last saw him at King's Cross.
I hope this letter reaches you before Saturday, but you never know with the Ministry monitoring all letters. (and Pig getting distracted on flights. At least he's a bit more reliable than Errol) I know you're still grounded, but can you and Hermione come up on Saturday? Just for the day. Your entire family can come, too, Mum would love to meet your brothers. Oh, and Sofi and Julio are invited as well. They'd be here by then, wouldn't they?
Hope you get to come!
"Mom?" Bryt looked up, holding out the letter, "What do you think? Can I go?"
"What part of 'grounded' don't you understand, Bryttanie?" Mrs. Watkins asked without even looking at the letter, "I'm already giving you far too much leeway with letting Hermione stay and letting you visit Julio and Sofí."
Bryt stared at her mother, knowing she was right, but knowing there was another reason she didn't want Bryt to go. Ron was Bryt's boyfriend, and they were sixteen. It was perfectly understandable that Mrs. Watkins would think there was some ulterior motive—even if she didn't have any reason to worry.
"But Ron's not just inviting me," Bryt said, pointing to the letter, "He's inviting Hermione, too. And he said you and Dad and Mike and Drew can come. Even Sofí and Julio. He's not just inviting me."
Mrs. Watkins frowned, staring down at the letter, reading over it this time.
"And how exactly will we get to Ron's home?" she asked.
"The Burrow," Bryt corrected the name, straightening up a little. Was her mom actually going to let her go?
"It's only a few hours away," Hermione spoke up, "I mean, it only took us about three hours or so to reach King's Cross from there when we stayed a couple of years ago."
"And I'm sure we can all fit in the van," Bryt said, trying to count out in her head, "And Sofí and Julio might just decide to Apparate instead, meeting us there."
Mrs. Watkins frowned, obviously trying to think it over. After all, Mr. Weasley had visited a few times and talked with Mr. Watkins often—ever since the two had stuck up a friendship through their curiosity of each other's worlds four years before—but the Watkins family—aside from Bryt—had never visited The Burrow. Bryt knew her father, at least, would love the chance to actually see a magical home and Bryt also had the feeling that Mrs. Watkins would get along well with Mrs. Weasley if they actually got a chance to sit and talk for a while.
Mrs. Watkins started to open her mouth, about to say something, but the doorbell rang. Emily's gaze went straight towards the front door, as if she could see through the wood to see who was on the other side.
"We'll talk about this later, Bryt," Mrs. Watkins said, putting down the letter and heading out of the room. Bryt sighed, staring out the door as she heard her mother open the door.
"Oh, hello Sofí. You're early."
Bryt tensed instantly, looking over at Hermione. Sofí was here a day early? And since Mrs. Watkins didn't greet Julio, it seemed Sofí was on her own. Both girls looked over at Emily. She hadn't moved from her spot, but she had gone tense herself, staring with a focused intent on the door and Bryt noticed her hand had slipped into her pocket, obviously gripping her wand.
Something wasn't right.