A/N: The idea for the horcrux ritual and its effect on Harry was adapted from the story '30 minutes that changed everything' by Radaslab. I have written to the author for permission to use it in my fiction but have not received any communication back, hopefully he will allow me to us it. I recommend everyone to read that marvelous piece of fiction.

Declaration: I write for my own pleasure and not for profit. I do not own Harry Potter Universe.

With You by My Side

Chapter 26- Allied for a Cause

The last Saturday before the Christmas break saw Harry and Hermione leading an interesting group of people towards their 'den'. In addition to the two students, there was professor Flitwick of Goblin descent and three witches one of whom was another professor mentoring Harry and Hermione, professor McGonagall. These were common features of the school, but it was the other two that would have raised a few eyebrows if seen by the students. One of the two newcomers was a monocle wearing witch nearing forty years of age, with stern features that would cause any first year to wet himself, if the glare was directed towards them. This woman was Amelia Bones, the head of the Department of Law Enforcement in the Ministry of Magic responsible for keeping the peace.

The other woman was barely out of her teens in robes that distinguished her as a trainee auror accompanying her boss, with a kind face and a bubbly demeanor but what caused her to stand out was the spiky pink hair that the woman, Nymphadora Tonks was now sporting. Hermione was enthralled to meet a metamorphmagus and was now seen sporting a smile, not at the sight of the young auror's hair which was cycling through the colours of the rainbow, but at the sight of her boyfriend chatting excitedly away. It was rare to see Harry so excited at anything other than studies and their projects but meeting a 'many times removed' cousin for the first time counted in that. It was mostly in Hermione's company that Harry was his most relaxed self, and she always counted herself privileged for that trust and strength of their relationship.

Harry and Hermione approached professor McGonagall a few days earlier, with a request to meet someone of authority in the Ministry to discuss matters of utmost secrecy and of vital importance. If she was surprised by their request that that someone should be of integrity and unquestionable morals and one who was not afraid to make a hard decision, she did not say anything. It was not a hard pick for the Transfiguration professor as there were very few authority figures in the Ministry that met the above description and was also in a position to make a change.

Amelia Bones rose through the Ministry through sheer hard work, determination and a no nonsense attitude. It was very rare for women to be in positions of any authority inside the Ministry due to the racist views of some of the purebloods that still throw their money around. In a society that was loathe to change, a woman holding one of the top few positions was unheard of and probably was the first time for a woman being the head of DMLE and at such an young age too.

The head of the department during the late 1980s was a ruthless man by the name of Barty Crouch Sr. who felt that second chances should not be even contemplated. At the other extreme were the Chief Warlock, Albus Dumbledore and the then Minister for Magic Bagnold who believed that even a third chance was too less, even if that person was undeserving in every other person's view. The two extreme and opposing views between those in-charge of the British wizarding world meant that nothing of consequence was accomplished, so much so that Voldemort was free to wreak havoc. The guerilla tactics followed by the death eaters culled the once proud British auror force that was severely restrained due to the self-conceited attitude of Dumbledore and Bagnold.

The distinct lack of accountability for one's actions saw many of the death eaters getting away with crimes considered to be heinous in a civilized world. The first war against Lord Voldemort saw many of the old families that were aligned to fight the darkness whetted down to a very few remaining ancient and noble houses of which Amelia Bones was the only surviving adult along with her niece Susan Bones now attending Hogwarts in the same year as that of Harry and Hermione. The despair of losing a loved one along with righteousness turned the soft spoken, fun loving woman into a driven individual determined to ensure justice not only for her niece but to everyone deserving. Her displeasure against Dumbledore turned to outright distrust when despite her protests her fiancé was confined to Azkaban on hearsay rather than hard facts. That distrust only grew when the last will of James and Lily Potter was sealed on his orders and Harry removed from the wizarding world. Though she understood that Harry had a normal childhood albeit one that was less loving, Amelia was angry at Dumbledore as she was certain that she would have been one of the guardian's named in the will for little Harry. Amelia was not only James Potter's teammate in the auror force but she along with her fiancé was good friends with the Potters. She being only two years their senior at Hogwarts naturally took it upon herself to coach James through his trainee years in the auror force. That closeness was what led her to believe that Harry would have grown up with Susan and both children would have not been alone and if not siblings would definitely have been good friends.

Immediately after the defeat of Lord Voldemort during the Halloween night of 1981 under mysterious circumstances, the then head of DMLE Barty Crouch Sr. was forced to resign in disgrace after his son was arrested when he was caught torturing Frank and Alice Longbottom. Admittedly he was one of the better heads as all his replacements were interested only in either currying favour with the likes of Lucius Malfoy, a man who was suspected to be a death eater but was freed without a trial, or having their pockets filled. With Dumbledore at the helm, instead of laying a solid foundation to curb incompetence and corruption, nothing was done to make the auror force a deterrent.

With most of the decorated aurors opting to retire rather than head the cesspool that was the force, Amelia was thrust into the limelight. With more integrity than any of the previous several heads and an attitude that was a judicious mix of caution and aggression, Ameila was determined to turn the tide of apathy and bring the force to its former glory. Even with the continued presence of Dumbledore as Chief Warlock and the new Minister of Magic, Cornelius Fudge who was more a puppet that played to the tune of Lucius Malfoy, Amelia was not prepared to bow down. If nothing else she wanted to settle a personal score for the unjust imprisonment of her fiancé. When Harry Potter, who might very well have been her ward, called for assistance who was she to resist and if she brought along a trainee auror as an escort who was also a cousin to the Boy-Who-Lived, who would raise an objection?

Amelia's instinct paid off very well when she saw the delight on Harry's face after learning about Tonks. During the walk to the room that was apparently commandeered by Harry and his girlfriend, she was able to dwell upon her career so far and also her sadness about her chained love, who if circumstances were different would have taken delight in watching the boy grow into a fine young man. She could not help but chuckle at the thought of another muggleborn witch joining the illustrious ranks of Lady Potter. What was with Potter men and their infatuation with smart, pretty and ambitious muggleborn witches? If the precedent held true then, Amelia mused, one fine day Hermione Granger would be a wonderful addition to the legacy of Lady Potter. If the joined hands of the two students were any indication, then she feared that it would be sooner rather than later and she would do her best to help that along but not too soon though, she did not want to face the wrath of Lily Potter when she would finally meet her again.

The small party reached the 'den' and piled inside after Hermione opened the door which was keyed to recognize the magical signature of the two professors along with Harry and herself. Taking their refreshments and resting their feet, Amelia broke the embargo on the reason she was asked to come to the castle on a Saturday.

"I have been patient enough, Minerva, what is this about?" Amelia questioned.

It was the charms professor that answered her, "Your guess is as good as ours Amelia, but if I were a betting man I would lay it on being a new invention that might revolutionize your force" he concluded with a wide smile to accompanied chuckles from McGonagall.

Those chuckles died a quick death when the gathered adults saw the somber faces of the two students.

"I wish it was different but it is about Voldemort" Harry answered the unasked question. To his immense pleasure there was no adverse reaction to the name from the DMLE personnel except for a widening of Tonks' eyes to the declaration.

"What about him? He is dead and buried isn't he?" Tonks blurted out and then seeing the stern glare of the department head directed at her gave a sheepish smile, "Sorry boss, it is something that I am trying to curb."

"Even though my auror was a tad preemptive, she did raise a valid point. He died when he attacked you that Halloween night, there is no reason to dig up old graves" Amelia's tone had a faint edge to it as if she was scolding a wayward child.

Her declaration however brought a cry of surprise from the two professors and they turned to look at the head of DMLE so fast that they spilled their hot tea. McGonagall was upset at her friend, a friend who she thought was a better person than one who was now accusing a child for telling the truth and was possibly sweeping the matter under the proverbial rug. "What do you mean Amelia? Don't tell me that you do not know about the events that happened during the last year" McGonagall cried.

This time it was Tonks' turn to shout out in surprise, "You mean to say all the rumors about Voldemort and his fight with Harry and Hermione were true?"

Amelia Bones was not used to be ignored and if there was something she hated more than being ignored was being ignorant. She was made the head of DMLE recently and the event that they were alluding to might not have happened when she was in office, but as the incumbent head she should have been informed of anything that was a threat to the public at large, even if the information was second hand by the outgoing head. This was a very serious situation and so it was not right to blow her top without knowing the reason that required her to blow her top. Taking a deep breath she asked in a restrained voice to the room in general, "Can someone tell me what happened last year that should have been brought to my attention? Then we can see why it was not brought to my attention."

The two professors began cursing under their breath unmindful of the two students, while the said two exchanged a glance that spoke volumes. It confirmed the sorting hat Goron and the Hogwarts castle's suspicions about Dumbledore's actions not being in the best interests of the wizarding world in general and the school in particular. Harry tightened his grip around Hermione's shoulder and pulled her into him for a tight hug. It was also for his own comfort as it was a comforting gesture for Hermione's sake.

Professor Flitwick ran a tired hand over his face, "This changes everything. The staff suggested to the headmaster that the incident should be reported to the DMLE and since you already took over as the head by that time, Minerva was delegated to the task. Albus overrode our decisions and assured us that he had taken care of the matter. I do not know how you knew it Harry, but now I can guess why you implied that the person we contact should not be enamoured by Dumbledore's fame and also should be brave enough to face him down if required." Turning to Harry he asked, "Do you want to tell the tale Harry?"

In response Harry only tightened his hold on Hermione and shook his head in the negative.

The diminutive professor then began the tale of Harry and Hermione's scuffle with professor Quirrell who was harbouring Lord Voldemort's spirit. He spoke about the Philosopher's Stone being brought into the school despite everyone's objections and spoke of his suspicions about it being a trap for Voldemort rather than a serious effort to safe guard the artifact. The incident with the troll during the Halloween feast also got a mention with occasional inputs from the two students and McGonagall while Tonks provided the information about the prevailing rumors.

It was fun to watch the various emotions that passed on the face of the seasoned auror, outrage fought for dominance with disbelief but it was anger that finally won hands down. "So let me see if I got everything correct, Voldemort possessed a teacher who was in the castle for more than ten months and no one caught him? No offence to Harry but it was lucky that the curse rebounded back to Voldemort. Why was this never brought to the notice of the DMLE, at least the violent death of an individual should have been, as it is the jurisdiction of my department to investigate such matters" Amelia finished barely managing to control her temper.

No one had an answer to her rant, not that any was expected as that was mostly a rhetorical question.

Hermione did take offence to the point about luck and Harry though, "I am sorry Madam Bones, but how do you explain the fact that luck played a part in Harry's survival against Voldemort twice, that too in similar ways with a curse rebounding after hitting Harry?"

Amelia conceded the point, "Well it may not have been luck but do you have a better explanation to explain the point?"

Harry came to her rescue, "Not at this point, we only have conjecture and no hard facts to support our view. We are looking for an explanation that would fit all the facts, but cannot say for sure when and if at all we can find an explanation."

A few moments of silence followed that argument, though it was not oppressive. Madam Bones broke it with an all important question, "Do you know for sure that Voldemort did not get the stone? You only have Albus' opinion that Voldemort would have used the stone immediately and announced his return in some dramatic fashion, but what if he was wrong and Voldemort began gathering his forces even as we speak?"

While the two professors mulled things over, Harry and Hermione shared a guilty look which was called upon immediately as they did nothing to hide it. Harry let out a heavy sigh; "We, that is Hermione and I, kind of stole it" he finished with a sheepish smile that was reflected by his girlfriend too.

That statement raised a few eyebrows before Hermione decided to elaborate, "We went down the trapdoor after putting Fluffy to sleep using a trick that Hagrid let slip and then passed all the traps and got the Philosopher's Stone."

The silence was total before Harry blurted out, "In our defense we thought that it was some sort of a year-end test for extra credit or such."

Bowing to demands of a detailed explanation, Harry and Hermione told the tale of their adventure under the bowels of Hogwarts. Putting emphasis on how they passed each test, or how easily they passed each test; they told a riveting tale to an eager audience.

"Now that I've heard how easily they passed each obstacle, I feel foolish about the idea to safeguard such a priceless article behind a bunch of traps" McGonagall finished letting out a huff of frustration. Beside her Flitwick beamed about their quick reflexes in not only dodging the chessmen but rendering them harmless with minimal injury and to think that this was before they started to train with him in the art of dueling! But he had to ask, "What about the monitoring ward that was placed under the trapdoor?"

Hermione took the onus and answered with a question of her own, "Monitoring ward? We had no idea about that, we just decided on a time when professor Dumbledore was not present in the castle."

"….. and Albus never shares such important things as the receiver for the alarm tied to the ward with us" McGonagall interjected in a harsh tone.

Harry finished the explanation telling them about meeting Nicolas Flamel and returning the stone back to him. "Oh! We got a letter from him recently after he found a nice bolt hole hiding from the rest of the world." He did not mention to them that he got the coordinates and directions to reconfigure their emergency portkeys to the new location. It was after all for Hermione's family and his own safety and it was foolish to give out a secret even to the director of the DMLE.

Hermione meanwhile rummaged in Harry's 'mokeskin' pouch and pulled out the said letter and began reading the relevant passage from it, "… I talked to Albus about the article that I gave him for safe keeping. You can imagine my surprise (interject a sarcastic smile here) when he squirmed about for a few seconds before telling me that it was destroyed while preventing an unscrupulous professor from stealing it. No mention was made that it was Lord Voldemort that made the attempt during Halloween but of course he did not know that I have to thank two brilliant young minds for giving me my artifact back. Naturally I was angry at him and refused any further contact….."

After a moment's silence, everyone tried to think why they were assembled in the first place, the director of DMLE did not disappoint, "So what do you want to tell us about Voldemort? I am sure that it was not for a cup of tea and a fascinating tale that you asked us to meet you two."

The gathered adults were treated to a display of non-verbal communication the likes of which they never witnessed. After a couple of minutes they finally reached an agreement, while Harry began pulling out a couple of glass boxes onto the tea table in front of them, Hermione dropped a proverbial bomb onto the listeners, "We know how Voldemort managed to evade death when his killing curse rebounded from baby Harry."

"These trinkets are the key?" Amelia asked in what seemed to be a patronizing tone, barely covering Flitwick's gasp of surprise, "Is that the fabled diadem of Rowena Ravenclaw?"

"In that order, yes these trinkets are the key Madam Bones and professor yes it is, but it is almost lost to us" Harry replied with amusement in his voice. They were also surprised by the diadem but it was not at all amusing for them when they found the object, Hermione and he almost lost their very lives during the encounter.

Amelia raised her eyebrow, "Almost?" she questioned.

Hermione took over, "These are soul containers." Her explanation was cut brutally short by loud swearing coming from the director of DMLE, who disregarded the presence of two children of impressionable age and was unleashing a tirade that would put a sailor to shame.

A bemused McGonagall spoke up during the intervening time that Amelia used to catch her breath, "As colourful as your message was Amelia, care to enlighten us what they really are?"

Amelia Bones gave a stern glare to the two students, "I presume you know what they represent?" she got a nod in response "and you believe that they are of Voldemort's making?" again another nod. "Merlin help us all!" she exclaimed.

Harry and Hermione ignored all the questioning looks aimed at them with only a nod of their head towards the director of Law Enforcement, left to her discretion as to what she would reveal.

"OK! I want a vow of silence from you three, since these two are underage but still wisely held their counsel; I cannot ask them for a similar vow but hope that you will only disclose this information only when needed?" Amelia brooked no argument when in her officer mode and the two professors and a trainee auror complied post haste.

"Soul containers as they are called are very old and very dark magic. I suppose that you two might have heard their modern name professors, they are also called as Horcruxes." Even that name got a blank look from the two Hogwarts professors. Amelia did not know what to think of that, a good thing that such dark magic was unknown or bad that they had no knowledge of the dark magic and so do not know its counter. Anyway that was a thought for another day. "A soul container contains a piece of the wizard's soul and unless it is destroyed, the owner of the horcrux is in a sense immortal."

It was almost funny for Harry and Hermione to see the reactions of all those present, the two professors gazed at the items displayed in shock but Tonks recoiled in horror and almost tried to move as far away from the abominations as possible. Finally her training kicked in and she only managed to gasp out in shock, "You mean to say that there is a piece of Voldemort away from his body and that he split his soul more than once?"

Amelia looked to the two students for an explanation and Harry obliged, "We think that he might have split his soul in seven pieces, six horcruxes and the seventh in his body or whatever goes as a body in a wraith form."

If they were shocked before this declaration surpassed all emotion. In a surprisingly calm voice Amelia mused, "I can understand the importance of Arithmancy and seven is a very powerful number, but splitting the soul so many times may lead to an unstable body which might also explain the loss of Voldemort's body to the killing curse when it rebounded off a baby Harry. Why not three, it is a powerful number albeit less than seven but would have been safer when it comes to the host?"

Hermione shared a grimace with Harry and took up the explanation as it was still painful to Harry to even think about it, let alone talk about it, "We already have two in front of us and suspect another one, since we do not have a complete understanding of the process of creation, we were not so sure about the third. All the clues we have gathered so far do indicate a third one and if that was the case then it rules out three parts leaving us to conclude that Voldemort made six horcruxes."

After that rather crypic explanation and before any more questions could be asked, Amelia volunteered to explain about the process of creating a horcrux, "I am no authority in the subject, but my mentor Alastor 'Mad-Eye' Moody was paranoid and in one of his searches he came across the reference to a horcrux. It was apparently developed by a Chinese wizard for the first emperor but after five hundred years of living, the emperor was so frustrated with living that he ordered the destruction of his own horcrux. There are a few ways to destroy the object that carries the soul piece and with it the soul piece too."

Here Hermione interrupted the narrative, "So what you mean to say is that in order to destroy the soul piece we will have to destroy the container?"

"Yes, there is no other way as far as I know" Amelia answered. From the corner of her eyes she saw Hermione giving Harry a comforting hug and paused momentarily in contemplation about the meaning of that gesture. It did not take her long to suss out the terrible truth. She gave a sympathetic smile to the two students before continuing with her explanation.

"The ritual for the preparation of a horcrux is very exacting and lengthy, beginning at sunset on the day of the new moon and continues for twelve hours a day, every day until the full moon reaches its zenith. That is the reason why making more than one is not usually attempted. The ritual drains the magic of the object that is being used to store the soul piece and that is why a living being is not chosen to be one. The final ritual which takes about six hours is then initiated within twenty four hours of sacrificing an innocent human, the act of cold-blooded killing is enough to render the soul into pieces but the ritual is needed to extract the soul piece out of the body and place it into the container." The means to create a horcrux was gruesome and left the listeners with a foul taste in their mouths. Amelia thought that her explanation about the un-usability of a living host would put the smiles back on the young faces, but did nothing to change their resigned looks. There was definitely something more, something she was not privy to and whatever that was, was serious enough and that thought did nothing to quell her apprehension over the safety of her friend's son.

"I can sense Voldemort's presence or the presence of his soul pieces. My scar flares up in pain whenever they are near me, that is the reason we think that my scar is not just a scar" Harry's tone was flat, monotonic and totally devoid of any emotion. He was thankful for his skill in occlumency for not breaking down in hysterics and of course Hermione's constant and unwavering support helped him immensely too.

There were shouts of protests over that declaration and the three women in the room were near tears thinking about the savior of the wizarding world being a container for a piece of the dark lord's soul. The usually cheerful professor Flitwick also looked to be on the verge of a breakdown but saw a glimmer of hope due to Amelia's explanation but before he could deny Harry and Hermione's theory, the director of DMLE squashed any protests.

"If we go by the theory that Voldemort had already made more than five horcruxes on the day he went to Godric's Hollow to kill the Potters, then we have to take into account the extreme instability of his soul. Splitting the soul so many times would have made his soul so fragile, the act of casting the curse with the intent of killing a toddler would have fractured the soul and added to that, losing his body would have freed his soul piece. The soul latched onto the nearest source of magic which was Harry and his open wound."

"You did say that living beings cannot make containers for soul pieces?" Tonks managed to question through her tears.

Amelia sighed deeply, "This is just conjecture but the fact that Harry can sense Voldemort especially that his scar flares up in pain says otherwise. A living host has its own soul and so another's soul cannot survive and flourish. We can be sure that Voldemort came that day with the intention of making a horcrux. The ritual would have driven the piece of Voldemort's soul to do whatever it could to survive outside the original host. So, it would have entrenched itself and began feeding off Harry's magic to survive and maybe create its own defenses. When it saw a counterpart nearby it tried to flee the otherwise uninhabitable living host, but since the soul piece was established inside the body and feeding off on Harry's magic, whenever it tried to join the nearby soul piece it caused intense pain to Harry. Since it has been living off Harry's magic for so long, it just could not leave even if it tried to."

"So even though harry was not an intentional one, Voldemort's greed to make more than the acceptable number fractured his soul to such a point, that the soul piece latched onto an uninhabitable container?" Hermione summarized and after getting a nod of agreement from Amelia, expressed the opinion of everyone present succinctly, "Shit!" No one even thought to reprimand about her use of profanity though.

The mood inside the 'den' turned somber after that discussion and they decided to take a break and move onto lighter topics. Hermione ordered some more tea for all and they reflected on what they all heard in the room. Whatever Amelia thought was the reason for her meeting Harry, this was not it and in her opinion this was only the beginning of the mess they found themselves in. She could however draw comfort from the news that they had an idea of what the problem was but that certainly did not make their task any easier.

"So where did you find Ravenclaw's diadem?" Flitwick wanted to know; he was saddened to know that a priceless artifact was used in such a way and that along with the need to protect Harry, increased his determination to find a way to destroy the soul piece without harming the container.

Harry and Hermione gave each other a big smile, it was time for their sales pitch to the head of the DMLE, pointing to the tiara in the glass box in front of them Harry spoke, "This was actually the first we found and that too purely by accident. We were testing our 'Aura Probe' in a room full of enchanted objects and our probe picked an object that projected an aura of extreme harmful intent. We investigated only to find my scar exploding in pain; so we quickly contained this tiara and sealed it in this box."

"What is this 'Aura Probe' you are talking about, I've never heard about that before and what are these glass boxes?" enquired Tonks a little earlier than her boss could voice the same questions.

'BINGO!' thought the two students. Hermione launched into a well-researched and well-rehearsed description of the gadget that they invented and were hoping to disseminate among the professional law enforcers and curse breakers. Harry meanwhile took out two of their own personal probes and displayed them for their benefit. Judging by the reactions on the faces of the two aurors, they were impressed.

"Oh Wow! You made these?" Tonks exclaimed holding the probe that was at the end of a leather rope, while her boss was critically examining the one which was mounted on the staff.

Hermione was modest now, "We had help from the professors" she gestured towards them.

Professor Flitwick however refused to share the spotlight, "Oh no young lady! All I did was to teach you the spells, which you could have found in any book. Amelia, we were only looking from the outside; the idea, its execution and construction was all theirs."

Amelia turned to Harry and Hermione, "Can I take these two with me and let my department test them out? If they work as you say and to our satisfaction, then we may be in a position to order more. How are you going to distribute these though? I am not sure if you could do it personally and especially from Hogwarts."

They were hoping to keep the two probes for their personal use, but they were not going to refuse such an opportunity, they could make another two for their own use later and so readily agreed to that request. "We were in the process of finishing the application process for a permit to start a company that specializes in innovation, enchanting and warding. We have already contracted Remus Lupin to initiate negotiations with different suppliers for the casing and the stone in the center of our probe."

Harry was interrupted in his explanation by Professor McGonagall, "You may have to look for another person, it seems that the headmaster had asked Mr. Lupin to take the vacant Defense position and he had agreed to talk to his employers and get back to him."

Harry exchanged a look with Hermione, "Well…., as far as I know he had almost finished all his discussions and there is nothing left for him to do till we get the permit for the company through. If he wanted to continue into the next year then we could get a new 'Duty Manager'. Right now we need a lawyer to look through the papers and then file them for us" Harry sighed.

Hearing that Tonks perked up, "Uh Cousin….." Harry gave her a brilliant smile at that endearment, "My parents are lawyers. My mother is a personal lawyer but my father deals with corporate law; I could get him to talk to you during the coming holidays if you want. I am sure he could do it without any payment as a favour to you."

Hermione flashed a smile at that and whispered to Harry about the need for a personal lawyer too. Harry nodded his head at that and so Hermione took up the explanation, "Well, we have a bigger plan for 'Harmonian Magiks', that is the name of our company with a 'k', and it is not something that we wanted to do on a whim. It would be our main source of income in the future so we need a lawyer far more than just to file the permits."

"We also need a lawyer to look at our personal interests. I need someone to take some action regarding the 'Boy-Who-Lived' propaganda; I mean I heard that there are a lot of people making profit using that name; books, clothes, toys, and collectables. I…., I am not really keen to make profit out of my parents' sacrifice…" Hermione chimed in, "… and neither should the merchants." Harry gave her a grateful smile and continued, "But when I broached the idea of shutting them down completely I was vehemently overruled, so instead of that I could give my share of the money back to the society. I know that Hogwarts is in desperate need of modernization, St. Mungos' could use a hand and don't let me start on orphanages, maybe I could start a 'Lily and James Potter foundation' for the orphans or even better start my own orphanage and school for then in either world or both." By the end of his speech, Harry's chest was heaving in effort to keep his emotions from running away; everyone present there could see the passion in his eyes and in his posture and they were proud of the young man. The 'Boy-Who-Lived' persona might have taken a much more popularity boost and in their eyes, this was a worthy cause for popularity.

There was a palpable positive energy in the air, almost as if Harry's little speech had energized the very air that they were breathing. Breaking the pregnant pause Hermione brought the conversation back to the matter at hand. "These boxes are more than mere display cases. While being used to show the object to the world, we designed them to hold dangerous objects. The glass panes are totally impervious to magic both from the outside and inside, the object cannot be affected by outside magic and anyone handling the boxes cannot be affected by the magic of the object inside the box."

"Wow! That's really useful to contain cursed objects" commented Professor McGonagall.

"Yes that was our idea" agreed Harry. "The glass panes themselves are made resistant to magic and are impervious to water, fire and magic. We toughened the panes before spelling them to be magical resistant and so are high nigh indestructible. There is always a chance that an overpowered blasting hex from a very powerful wizard could totally powder the glass, then the object inside would also end up destroyed thus ending any danger from the object itself. Still as I mentioned before, we took care to make the boxes impervious to magic too."

Professor Flitwick did not have any eyebrows due to his Goblin descent but the others' just disappeared into their hairline. "How did you do that" Professor Flitwick blurted out.

Hermione was back to her lecture mode, "The panes were first hardened and then spelled to be resistant to all the elements before being made resistant to all magic as you taught us last year sir." The professor acknowledged that point. "We found out that making them resistant to magic let them hold the properties that were given to the glass beforehand even if it was done by magical ways. That was a big bonus to us."

"Why don't you publish your experiments and the results you obtained? We could send it to a charms journal and I could sponsor that" the tiny professor suggested which was very quickly accepted. They had all the results documented and they could get it ready by the start of the next term.

"Any way, the box is made up of six panes that are attached by flexible plastic that was also spelled in the same way. In its normal state, the panes are all spread out; four panes attached by their longer faces and two panes attached to the second pane by their smaller sides like a 't'." Harry took out an unassembled box from his ever present pouch.

They then demonstrated the assembly by using Harry's wand as a target, "Before everything else, the box is attuned to the user's magic. You place your finger on the identification rune on the pane that forms the top of the box so that the rune could now identify you by your magic. Then you place the object on the base and then bring the panes together as a box and hold them in place, for the sticking runes etched on the edges to activate. This will assemble the box making it almost impervious to all magic but the weak spots of the box are the edges after assembly. Due to the runes etched on them, they are devoid of magical protection and so to compensate for that we used a warding scheme that overlaps the edges." The assembled box was now about twelve inches all around and was quite heavy due to the toughened glass.

It was her idea and so Harry prompted Hermione to take up the explanation, "You see these ward runes on the front and the back faces, they project the ward to the anchor runes on the other faces. So basically we have two umbrellas that cover all the twelve edges and the only spot they do not cover is the identification rune on the top. The ward is the normal magic nullifying ward used in places like the Wizengamot chambers or Azkaban prison and as you know the ward rune powers itself from ambient magic. There is absolutely no way that the ward would fail except if kept in a shielded room for more than a day. The beauty of the construction is that only the one authorized to put the object inside could take it out."

Ignoring everyone else, Harry and Hermione turned to the head of the DMLE who would be the major user along with curse breakers or Tomb raiders, for the 'Evidence Box'. Amelia Bones was deep in thought, in a matter of less than two years the two students made rapid ingress into the world of innovations that no one thought before. That the devices they made first were aimed at the safety of people was also not lost upon her, aurors in the field are faced with many dangers especially from cursed and booby trapped objects. These boxes would go a long way in their protection, yes risks are accepted in their line of work and the usual way was to hope that they do not get killed during their duty and get treatment if subjected to any curses. But as the saying goes, prevention is better than cure and both the 'Aura Probe' and the evidence boxes would go a long way in preventing such disasters in the field. She could probably haggle for a discount on a bulk order. She repressed a snort; all they had to display any evidence was a plastic bag and hope that the objects displayed did not carry any dangerous curses.

Seeing the looks of expectation directed towards her, Amelia asked to take a couple of samples with her and Harry simply levitated out a package containing three such unassembled boxes from his 'mokeskin pouch' and passed them to the head of DMLE.

"So do you plan to make them in different sizes or stick to one size?" Amelia asked.

"Well! We plan on bulk production so we want to stick to one size. If someone wants a different size, then we could custom build it. You have to remember though, the bigger the box, the heavier it would get, you could not even levitate the box" Harry responded.

Amelia grinned at him, "We could always wrap it up in parchment or put it a conjured wooden box and then levitate it just as you did now."

Harry and Hermione looked a little sheepish at that suggestion, but they did not voice their objection. Making a single size was easy as they could bulk order from non-magical suppliers and with automation, the supplier could easily handle large numbers even in thousands. Besides, what reference do they have for a size; they could not go on making boxes that differ by a centimeter each way.

Tonks could see the conflict on their faces and came to their rescue, "….. Or we could simply shrink the target object to fit into the box."

Harry and Hermione gave her a grateful smile and even Amelia did not contest the point. They could always test their theories out before approaching the students with any problem they might have faced.

"I can assure you that the boxes work like a, well pardon the pun, but like a charm. I was very much affected by the presence of these 'soul containers' but now I can handle them without any discomfort." Harry emphasized his point by taking the box with the diary and putting it on his head.

Professor McGonagall was impressed at the ingenuity of her cubs. She was certain that if they could churn out more innovations like that currently on display, they could make a name for themselves. "So what about the diary? Who did it belong to?" she asked.

Harry and Hermione argued on this point a few times before. They did not want to disclose the fact that Ginny brought the diary into the castle but finally the benefits of a full disclosure convinced them to provide them with all the facts but argue on Ginny's behalf, and that it was not her fault. "Professor, this diary was the reason for Mrs. Norris being petrified and more seriously this opened the chamber of secrets."

Bedlam erupted after their declaration. They could only hear words like, "Chamber of secrets, petrification, and student safety" from the group who were making their best efforts to be heard over the others.

Harry and Hermione raised their hands to placate the professors and the aurors which allowed Hermione to try and answer their questions, "We pilfered this diary from Ginny Weasley who was possessed by the soul piece. We think and Goron agreed that Voldemort forced her to open the Chamber of Secrets and let out a Basilisk that somehow petrified Mrs. Norris."

Cries of outrage were mixed with questions of which "Goron? and Basilisk?" were the prominent ones.

Harry explained that he being the heir of Godric Gryffindor was able to communicate with the Castle and the sorting hat. He then explained about the Basilisk and how they think that the gaze was reflected by the water on that flooded floor that day petrified Mrs. Norris and not kill her outright. He went on to assure the adults that Hermione and he layered as many protections as they could including a ward that would only collapse with a password spoken in parseltongue. He acceded to the demands of both Professor Flitwick and Amelia Bones to be taken to the entrance so that they could layer their own magical signature based protection wards. This would ensure that, if needed, the chamber could only be opened by Harry, Hermione, Professor Flitwick, and Amelia together.

McGonagall confirmed that Ginny Weasley took Harry and Hermione's advice and talked to Madam Pomfrey. Since everyone present in the 'den' took an oath of secrecy, she disclosed that Madam Pomfrey found signs of possession and some brain damage but Ginny would make a full recovery before Christmas. Amelia Bones wanted to start an official investigation but agreed to drop the matter as it inadvertently involved a minor and the threat was apparently negated, but she squeezed out a promise from the professors to be notified immediately if there was another incident.

Harry and Hermione let out a relieved cry of "Thank goodness" at the good fortune of their newest friend.

To break the dreary atmosphere Tonks asked about the name Harry and Hermione chose for their company. "Well it is a combination of our names, and also includes harmony, which we are trying to achieve through the use of magic from various cultures" Hermione answered with a shrug of her shoulders. The thought that went into choosing the name brought looks of admiration from the small audience.

They tossed ideas for destroying the horcruxes but though Harry and Hermione told them about the ideas given by Goron, they also voiced their reluctance to destroy the founder's relics. Professor Flitwick promised that he would start researching ideas for that. The idea of involving the unspeakables from the Department of Mysteries was shot down by the two Ministry employees. "They will try to take the relics away in the name of research rather than looking for ways to destroy the soul pieces. I seriously doubt that we would even be able to know their fate after that" was Tonks disgusted comment.

Harry added the castle's opinion on the horcrux in him, "The castle thinks that Dumbledore knows about the horcruxes and the possibility of my scar being one, but she does not think that he would be forthcoming with the knowledge. Goron told me that the castle would protect me and Hermione from all threats inside the castle and outside the grounds we already have emergency portkeys to a secure location." He did not reveal that the location was the new safe house that belonged to the Flamels.

Since it was now getting late, they decided to meet again later to exchange ideas and any new information. McGonagall promised to dig up all records pertaining to T. M. Riddle while Amelia promised to dig up his history after Hogwarts and maybe confirm his identity as Lord Voldemort. She immediately assigned that job to Tonks, taking her out of the field force and placing her on the personal staff of the DMLE head. Though Tonks was talented and adept as an auror, she was clumsy due to her being a metamorphmagus and so prone to make mistakes in the field. Amelia pondered if she could talk to Harry and Hermione in confidence and persuade them to offer Tonks a job in their company, that would also ensure that a trained auror would be near them to provide protection if needed; but that was a matter for another day.

During their walk to the girl's bathroom on the second floor, Harry expressed the suspicion on Lucius Malfoy being the one that put the diary into Ginny's possessions. He recounted the amusing tale that Ginny recited about the events in the book shop when they went to buy their school supplies.

Amelia Bones was worried, "This gives a new meaning to the support that Lucius Malfoy provided during the election campaign for the Minister of Magic, Cornelius Fudge. I mean can you imagine the epitome of sophistication brawling like a common thug; that had to be a ruse to get the diary into Hogwarts which also means that Malfoy might know about horcruxes. Based on his advice, the minister cut the budget for the DMLE, probably to assist his Lord. If there were not enough aurors to tackle any attacks by the death eaters, then Lord Voldemort would have an easier way to take over the Ministry upon his return."

Professor Flitwick told the two students that he would step up their training and advised them to get some protective clothing like Dragon hide cloaks or vests. Tonks offered to talk to her parents and see if they could try and get the Potter's will opened up and maybe try to get Harry access to Potter manor and its protective wards.

Though they did not object, Harry and Hermione also did not state their elaborate plans to develop a fool proof ward scheme that would make their houses nearly impenetrable. They were working on that idea whenever they had time and were close to test their theories during the Christmas holidays.

Scene Break

In the privacy of her quarters that night, the deputy headmistress of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry gave went to her pent up emptions. She cried her heart out against the injustice heaped upon Harry Potter. Lily and James Potter were not only her favourite students, but they were two of her very small circle of close friends. She was very happy to celebrate the day Harry was born and behind her stern façade, she had a soft spot for Harry and Hermione, two fine young people whom she was rapidly growing fond of. She began to consider them as the grandchildren she never had, and that night she made a solemn vow to do her best to protect them even if she had to go against the 'leader of light' and her boss, Albus Dumbledore. 'At least the lad found love at a young age and it is of added comfort that Hermione was brave and capable enough to help out Harry during danger' was her last thought before falling asleep.