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

With You by My Side

Chapter 42- Non-Aligned Movement

The swanky Emerald green Rand Rover County LWB streaked towards Oxford, carrying two teenagers who were excited to be back among their family. It was a very different year for them at Hogwarts; Harry and Hermione felt that the school year could have gone a lot better in terms of their academic activities, but the respite from danger was very welcome.

Leaning back onto the seat, Harry began asking his godfather, who was sitting on the other side of Hermione and sharing the back seat with the teenagers, about the events he missed. "So, the no confidence motion against the Minister was defeated…" Harry broached the subject.

"Well…" Sirius dithered.

Hermione huffed and rolled her eyes before responding, "OK, we will not hurt your manly pride…" Everyone chuckled at that, Sirius including, "… I will only say that the no confidence motion was let go…"

"Thank you dear Lady" the Lord Black beamed, earning some eye rolls and even the characteristic gesture that was meant to say 'he lost his marbles', from Harry. Sirius continued, "We could have pushed for removing the Minister and would have won for sure, but we felt that doing that was more harm than good at the current time."

"I guess that decision was based on Amelia's condition rather than anything else…" Dan opined from the driving seat. Yes, they could have had a driver for Lord Potter's newest acquisition in non-magical but the elder Grangers wanted to be there to welcome the teenagers home, and Dan would not mind driving a brand new Range Rover to do that.

Everyone in the car knew that Amelia would have been in the spotlight regardless; their plan to eliminate the remaining inner circle death eaters would have meant exposing her to draw the public's eye and also the judiciary's attention away from Harry and Co. "Yes" Lord Black agreed easily. "Amelia is not only the perfect choice for the next Minister, she is also the logical choice."

"That made little sense…" Emma mused.

Sirius can understand the Granger's dilemma; unlike the non-magical way of electing their representatives, the magical world relies on people who are already in positions of power to elect the Minister of Magic. Moreover, it is only someone who is already a part of the Ministry or the Wizengamot, can be elevated to the highest position. That is the reason why people like Lucius Malfoy always found a way to control the outcome of such appointments.

"Amelia is well respected and being the head of the DMLE means she knows the ins and outs of the entire Ministry. Added to that, her job demands that she have an ear to the ground and know what is going on within the Ministry itself. Added to that the popularity she enjoys as an honest and straight forward witch and that makes her the logical and perfect choice."

"Her present condition was the only reason that you all were hesitant to push for the removal of Minister Fudge, I take it…" Dan eyed the Lord Black speculatively in the rear view mirror.

Sirius nodded his head in affirmative, "I am not ashamed to say that I thought only about the safety of my family…"

Hermione gave him a sideways hug while Dan and Emma commiserated with the sentiment. Sirius heaved a heavy sigh, "Amelia did not take it very well." His eyes became unfocussed as he concentrated on that day, "She was furious that I doubted her ability to take care of herself. She did not say it out loud but I think she was also angry that I was going to put my family first rather than her duty and doing the right thing."

Seeing the worried looks on the teenagers, he hastened to placate them, "Oh, don't think for one minute that she was also not worried about the child, she was, terrified in fact. Her insecurities and probably her own agreement to the situation, pushed her to the argument with me…"

Harry looked thoroughly confused, why would Amelia be angry at Sirius when she knew that he was only trying to protect her. Hermione must have sensed the confusion in him and barely suppressed a laugh at that, she patted his hand in sympathy, "…It's a parent thing Harry, they always want to appear strong even though all they want to do is to curl up in a corner and cry. The only other way to cope with that is having a strong husband by your side who can bear the mood swings."

"Must have been a hard time for her" Harry mused. "It makes me wonder how hard it must have been when she was all alone during the years that you were imprisoned."

Sirius knew how hard it was for her; they had their heart to heart talk during which the inner most secrets and their inner most fears were brought out into the open. While Sirius had a very tough time in Azkaban physically and mentally, he had the knowledge of his innocence to spur him on. Amelia did not have that luxury; she believed in her heart that Sirius was innocent but still could do nothing to get him free. The then head auror had only Susan for comfort and also as a distraction and so threw herself in her work with a zest that was unheard of.

"Thankfully, common sense prevailed" Sirius broke into their thoughts, "… not only was the world cup coming, but the heir to House Black too. Augusta was a big help too…"

"She is the other one that would make a good Minister" Hermione mused.

"Agreed…" Sirius and Harry voiced simultaneously and Sirius continued, "… In her own words, Lady Longbottom is unsuitable due to her age and her reluctance to put herself under the public eye. Moreover, we have gained momentum against the forces of evil and need to push. That is why we need Amelia, Augusta may look intimidating, but she does not have the battle tactics that are needed now."

"We may not be at war but we need tactics that would end the war…" Harry whispered deep in thought.

Here Sirius looked at Harry with a gleam in his eye and continued, "… and with everyone clamouring to be in the good books of the 'Boy-Who-Lived'…"

Harry groaned out loud enough to interrupt Sirius' monologue. However, instead of the sarcastic comment or of teasing words that were expected, Lord Black was in session, "There is a genuine understanding Harry." His tone garnered the attention of even Dan who was doing an admirable job of keeping his eyes on the road and on the conversation happening behind him too. "People, especially the pure-bloods who value traditions more than anything else, have begun to realize that the death eaters or their philosophy is actually causing damage to the age old traditions."

Sirius gazed out of the window collecting his thoughts and the others gave him the time needed, and he continued, "They are afraid that an unborn child may have to be the head of two very illustrious pure-blood houses."

"What do you mean?" Harry interrupted.

While at the same time Hermione asked, "Which houses do you mean?"

Sirius gave a wry grin, "Houses Black and Bones." Everyone knew that Susan was the head of House Bones and she was the only member of that house with Amelia becoming the Lady Black. Most of the Ancient and Noble houses were indeed in dire straits when it came to the numbers inhabiting them.

"Most of the old men now realize that the total number of pure-bloods has gone down dramatically. Many of the older houses have either one or two children at the most and with the death eaters beginning to get active again, they are worried that many of the Ancient and Noble Houses would be wiped out." Sirius sighed, "They may not believe that allowing more freedom to muggle-borns is the answer but they do acknowledge that allowing more freedom to Voldemort or his supporters is not the right thing to do."

"Oh!" Emma was surprised, "Do they believe that Voldemort can still return?"

"Dumbledore has been trumpeting the fact for so many years, they believe that it is given" Sirius retorted a little harshly. Anger at the aged wizard for his mistakes still rankled him and then realizing his heightened emotions, he offered an apologetic smile to the Granger matriarch and softened his words, "After Macnair, a lot of them approached us and we did our best to turn the tide of public opinion towards our side. They now understand that change is needed and it could still be achieved without sacrificing their cherished values. Instead, it may actually be a good thing to apprise the muggle-borns of the reasons why certain things are done the way they are being done by the pure-bloods; who knows there may be a few converts to their way of life."

"So we have the support of most of the community now …." Harry mused.

Hermione interjected with her own comment, "… and hopefully for the right reasons too."

Though Harry and Hermione detested the pure-blood way of demeaning the others to promote their own image, their support was indeed welcome. They would accept the support and take that as a way to try and instill values that are closer to their heart. The two teenagers hoped that what Sirius said about a genuine change in the thinking was true and the traditional pure-bloods were really looking forward to an alliance with the muggle-born lady of House Potter. Their behavior towards Hermione would give the couple a very good handle regarding her acceptance; and if the grumpy old pots still thought that they were better than his brilliant wife, then Harry would have a lot of work on his hands to bring about a change or simply blow them off as inconsequential and steam roll the wizarding world into submission. They had to bring about a change in the way the traditionalists fell about muggles and muggle-borns in general, otherwise the tentative alliance would not survive and Harry was unwilling to lose the chance to cut out the death eaters' support and bring about peace. He was ready to lay aside his own prejudices and take a chance.

During this time, the SUV entered the neighbourhood that Hermione grew up in and Harry came to love; he was surprised to see quite a few people either standing at the gate or peeking from inside their houses as their transportation went by. It reminded eerily of his aunt Petunia's tendency to strain her neck over the fence to look into the adjacent house.

Seeing the perplexed look on the young man's face, Emma turned to him and with a mischievous smile gave him a clear indication of what was causing the peculiar behavior of their neighbours, "Welcome home, Lord Potter!"

Harry's predictable groan of mortification was joined by hearty laughter of the others; though it could come out as cruel to laugh at someone's predicament, Harry knew that his family was only trying to get him out of his reticence when it came to his fame. Harry knew that his fame was a given in the magical world but he was also learning that the tag of a 'Lord' also brought its own notoriety in the non-magical world. He just had to grin and bear it. Hopefully, his discomfort would be a thing of the past with constant exposure; besides he had Hermione by his side and that would make anything bearable.

As soon as the vehicle came to a stop, the onlookers were granted the first glimpse of the young peer who graced their upscale yet not so popular community. All the young girls decided that he was dashing, even though he was dressed only in jeans and a simple shirt, obviously due to his travelling from school. The mothers of said girls saw the sparkle in their child's eyes and decided that he was very well suited for their girls.

Harry took only a second to stretch his legs and then turned back to lend a hand to Hermione, not that she needed but he was on display and so he wanted to show everyone in no uncertain terms that he was to be left alone. He could almost feel a thousand eyes boring into his back but he just shrugged off the feeling as he would do in the magical world. The young girls watching the scene could not suppress the sudden surge of jealousy as a young beautiful woman was assisted out of the SUV and tough there was no obvious display of affection, the connection between the two was tangible. It has to be, the mothers gave their grudging approval, and any girl who won the right to be with the young lord could not be anything but beautiful and very worthy of his regard.

Then just like that the features of the young woman registered in their minds and all the girls who fancied themselves to be the object of Lord Potter's affections, were stunned into immobility. Many jaws dropped in astonishment; they could never imagine 'that' bookworm with a lord, let alone be acknowledged as beautiful even in their dreams. But there she was, the mousy bookworm know-it-all Hermione Granger beaming and looking absolutely radiant on the arm of Lord Harry Potter. 'What has the world come to…?'

Minor Break

Just ten days into the summer holidays heralded the arrival of Canopus James Black. With serious consideration to protecting their privacy, especially Harry's, but at the same time to wring out even the last bit of mileage in solidifying the changing impressions of the majority of the neutral pure-blood population, Sirius set out to introduce his son by throwing a party.

In terms of the heir of House Black being the center of attraction, the party turned out to be a disaster. However, the attendance to the party was nothing to worry about; a lot of those uninvited came to the party riding on the coattails of those who were invited and claimed an acquaintance to. The more traditional and neutral houses saw the occasion as a brilliant opportunity to show their allegiance to Harry Potter.

All in all it was chaos personified. A party that was meant to entertain 25 people at the most was stretched to 100 people with not only the Heads of Houses present but their heirs' also clamouring for their share of spotlight. Harry and Hermione found that it was actually easier for them to interact with the next generation rather than their fathers. Most of the heirs were teenagers or were in their early twenties and though they were under strict regulation by their fathers, they could at least listen to Harry and Hermione's views without a preformed opinion. Minds were not changed overnight but the group felt that progress was made, and that was enough for now.

Sirius and Amelia were of the opinion that cutting off support to Voldemort was of essence while Harry and Hermione along with the Susan and Neville felt that active denouncement of Voldemort's policies was needed. Those who were neutral in the previous conflict against Voldemort were strictly neutral to both for and against the dark lord. Their stand actually made things difficult for the 'light' side as it gave an impetus to the death eaters to take their silence as support. For the forces led by Dumbledore though, active support was needed for eliminating the pure-blood philosophy and not just non-compliance to the death eaters' and Voldemort's dictates. This neutrality was actually considered to be a moral win to the pure-blood way of life and the death eater philosophy thus demoralized those fighting the good fight.

It was conveniently forgotten by the neutral faction that they may not be allowed to stay neutral if Lord Voldemort was able to overcome the resistance offered by the 'light' side against him and his death eaters. This argument, made with conviction and with examples from history of earlier wars, turned the tide very easily in favour of compliance with the wishes of the faction that, in every sense, was now led by Harry and Hermione.

With most of the Heads of the various Houses requesting the formalization of an alliance, Sirius was hard pressed to state his objections against such an alliance, "Our main intention is to prevent war…" that stopped any and all protests, "… making alliances and taking sides means that we are trying to wage a war. That, we do not want."

No one could protest that. The last war against Lord Voldemort was a very bitter experience with quite a lot of them losing family members. However, the talk of not forming an alliance did not sit well with them; they wanted a benefit by aligning themselves with the 'Boy-Who-Lived' and the resurrected and very much 'light' House Black. Most importantly, they wanted protection.

"Our goal is to make our society better…" Amelia continued where Sirius let off. She knew that the thoughts they were proposing were radical to those who were struck in the olden days, but it was to be done if they were to prevent anyone from taking the place of Voldemort. "Please take time off your daily hours to do good to the society. It could be a very simple thing as extending a friendly hand to the unfortunate in our society."

Harry internally scoffed at the mild look of distaste on the faces of the older men, however, he also noticed that the younger generation were warming up to the idea, "You need not embrace them…" Harry interjected, "Do your best to make their lives comfortable, by being free with your money or maybe employ the worthy."

"We are reaching out to werewolves…" Sirius continued. Everyone knew the good that the 'Lily Potter Foundation' was doing; and Sirius did not know but by bringing up the foundation at that moment, he greatly increased the contributions that would flow in. "… relations with the Goblins are becoming friendlier. With most of the obvious threats being neutralized, we should take care not to alienate our own members of the society."

Amelia delivered the final blow, "If everyone is happy, there can be no chance for any terrorists from rising. No more death eaters or dark lords…"

"If to achieve that, I have to expend more gold by employing people even if I have no need, I am willing to do that" Lord Greengrass added his voice of support to the idea.

Most of the old houses were blessed with enough income that they need not be stingy in their spending, and spend they do but in frivolities. Now that it looked as if hostilities with the death eaters were being taken care of, they need not worry about losing trade and thus income. If it would take allowing some muggle-borns into their employee for assuring a future where peace would last, there was no harm in that, was there? It was certainly a blow to their pride but they may actually save a lot of money by under paying them if needed. Besides, as Harry Potter said, they need not embrace them, just tolerate them and who knows they might even end up being called liberal masters. They would later realize that the muggle-borns brought new ideas with them and actually increased their profits.

"That's it?" Someone questioned, "Those who have committed crimes should be punished, they should not be left to roam free…"

"I agree" Amelia took the wind of his sails, "Not for revenge or for any other purpose than to prevent them from committing the crime again."

Murmurs of both assent and dissent continued for some time before they were stilled by Amelia's voice, "Violence always results in more violence. We think that we are doling out justice by waging a war, but to the others it would seem like oppression. War or conflict are never an answer to everlasting peace."

Looking at each one of the listeners in their eyes, Amelia continued, "Our main reason to avoid conflict is not because we are afraid to face the enemy but because we are afraid for our family. You are not looking at the damage it could cause to your own families, war and death does not discriminate between friend and foe. We do not want to lose our friends due to war."

Seeing that his wife was overcome with emotion, Sirius took up the speech, "We are only recovering from the last war, imagine how much damage it could do to the society if there was another war. Several ancient houses are under threat of extinction, we are trying to avoid that."

Harry spoke up with conviction, "Those who are in the wrong will be punished or they will be made to repent their sins. Never fear…"

Without naming anyone Sirius and Amelia talked about their success in converting a good number of low level death eaters to give up their evil ways and contribute to the society. They were now citizens who are out in the open and respected. Many of those present were even trading with them.

"Oh! That was you…" there were quite a few surprised exclamations following that declaration.

"Yes, the idea was hatched by my godson and his betrothed" Sirius could not help but beam in pride. "It was executed by my wife and I with help from a few of our friends…"

People like Nathaniel Issacs, Martin Brundle, and others who were captured through their dark mark, and converted forcefully resented the intrusion into their lives by those who wanted to rub their way of life onto them, initially. They tried to fight it, even when they knew that the oath bound them, they tried their best to defy the 'light' side but they were relentlessly reeled in. Now they were thankfully that they were given a chance to change their ways. Hearing the voices in the room, they were sure that if they were not under the protection of Lords Black and Potter, their life was forfeit. Now they could hold their heads high and say that they did not want anything to do with the dark lord and for that they were thankful.

Hearing about the continued contribution of Harry Potter to their peaceful living, quite a few of those in attendance wanted a deeper alliance with the 'Boy-Who-Lived'. Those with eligible daughters tried to push a much deeper alliance with Harry; even though everyone knew that Hermione was betrothed to the Lord Potter, some of the fathers did not give up hope. No one could interfere with a betrothal involving a Lord of an Ancient and Noble house, but they could always entice the young man with the beauty of their daughters and the dowry that they could bring.

Unfortunately, it was all for naught. Within a few minutes of being in the teenagers' presence, all aspiring father-in-laws came to know one pertinent fact; Hermione Granger could as well have been the Lady Potter. Only the lack of a wedding ring reminded everyone present that Harry and Hermione were not married, otherwise they behaved as in sync as an old married couple. Their chemistry was stronger than that of the Lord and Lady Black, something which was not lost upon all those present there.

Though initially angry at the way that many of the Heads of Houses were pushing for a marriage contract for their daughters at him, with time Harry was amused that the old guys were bending over backwards to get on the good side of Hermione. That almost all of them considered themselves to be superior than the muggle-born Lady Potter-to-be, was even more amusing to the Lord Potter. They may not acknowledge that Hermione Granger was superior or even equal to them, but they surely were going out of their way to accommodate her views.

With Harry no longer on the marriage mart, the next target was Neville Longbottom who was in attendance representing the alliance that existed and continued to exist between Houses Potter and Longbottom. Neville did the only thing he could do and hid behind the skirts of the absent Padma Patil. Lady Augusta Longbottom was surprised at that declaration; she knew that her grandson was good friends with the Patil heir, but hearing that the friendship turned into adoration and affection, was a soothing balm to the old lady. She was afraid that the Longbottom heir would turn into a meek and pliable individual, but the friendship of Lord Potter and the closely knit group brought Neville out of the self-imposed shell. The fact that Neville's feelings for the Patil heir may have played a larger role in the transformation of the shy young man was not lost on Augusta and before the night was out, she was determined to talk to Samith Patil to get a betrothal contract for her grandson and Padma. Yes, some might say that she was forming an alliance that was beneath their status as one of the Ancient and Noble house, but for her, the happiness of Neville was of essence and she was not foolish enough to deny him that with Padma Patil, if she was truly the one that her grandson wanted. Then again, there was a great chance that by the end of dinner, most of the neutrals and traditional pure-bloods may themselves be aligning with the Ancient and Noble houses of Black, Bones, Longbottom, and Potter, if not a formal alliance, at least in principle. There may not be a dissident voice left in the near future against any action that the four houses may take.

With the two young men out of the reckoning for a marriage alliance, the focus turned to the other eligible young lady apart from Hermione, Susan Bones, the Head of House Bones. She was good looking, with a voluptuous figure belying her young age; her fiery red hair framing a face that was more apt to laugh than frown made her even more attractive. To top it all, she had a genuinely good sense and a caring nature. All plus points in her favour and the biggest being her position as the Head of House to an Ancient and Noble house. Being close friends with the man who was more or less going to change the face of the wizarding world, Harry Potter, was not too shabby either.

Susan was mortified to learn that she was now the target of matchmaking. She knew that she had to marry in order to preserve their family name, but never thought that she would have to choose this early or in this way, in front of a whole crowd of people. Finally she learnt that the decision was pretty much taken out of her hand. Her father apparently wished her to marry a son of his old friend, Lord Wyeth. It was not the last wish of the late Lord Bones, but it was his fondest wish and Susan was reluctant to deny it immediately without due cause.

Jason Wyeth, the second son of the late Lord Wyeth was everything that you could expect of a man who was raised to think himself superior to others. However, one redeeming factor in favour of the young man was his willingness to stand for his principles. This had the unique consequence of alienating him from both the 'light' side as well as the death eaters and their sympathizers. Currently he was adamant for preserving the pure-blood culture but Susan and her family hoped that he could be converted to strive for the general good of the wizarding world. His general reserve developed due to failed friendships also meant that he did not have many friends, let alone a girlfriend. He found his barriers breaking that night where he was forced to acknowledge that the muggle-born, Lady Potter-to-be was far superior to himself, not because of her birth or consequence but just by her behaviour. It was this realization that humbled him and with most of the party comprising of people who were either equal to him or in some cases superior, Jason had no choice but to try and be agreeable.

What brought on this realization? It could be construed as an innocuous comment by Jason; he was not really trying to defend the death eaters but his comment of people like Lucius Malfoy being under the 'imperius curse' rubbed a lot of people the wrong way, especially Harry Potter and Hermione Granger.

"Controlling a person's will is not an easy task, even with magic" Harry interjected during Jason's passionate defense of the Head of House Malfoy. "Your innate magic rebels at every attempt by an outside influence to control you."

By now quite a few people began drifting towards their group wishing to either know the truth of the saga or just out of curiosity about the topic of discussion. Jason however looked as if he did not understand anything that Harry was talking about. Originally, Harry simply wanted to brush him off, Jason's superiority complex completely put him off any friendship with the young man. However, the thought that Susan may very well have to spend a lifetime with him and the inclination that Jason was innately a good guy but without a clear understanding of the world in general, stilled him.

"When someone is casting an 'imperius curse', they are basically using their magic to infuse your mind and take control over certain actions…" Harry was interrupted by someone in the crowd of eavesdroppers determined to know how two teenagers could know about one of the unforgivable curses. It was almost as if they were insinuating that they might very well have been dabbling in the dark arts.

Before Harry could counter it, Susan piped up, "They are Harry Potter and Hermione Granger, and nothing is hidden from them if they are truly determined to know."

Laughter erupted from those of the party that were close to the two teens, though the others could not share the amusement, they at least had to acknowledge to themselves that Harry Potter and Hermione Granger do indeed get what they want.

Hermione was quite willing to let her betrothed take the center stage, and so it was Harry who offered the rebuttal, "Arithmancy is a very fascinating subject; we dissected the spell formula into its components and came to the conclusion that the caster will have to keep on imposing his magic onto the victim for the curse to be maintained."

"You mean to say that the caster of the curse will have to keep on casting the curse?" Amelia questioned.

"In a nutshell, Yes" Harry agreed, but then amended his statement, "There is no need to actually keep casting the curse, but you will have to use keep on using your magic to enforce your will on the victim."

Lord Greengrass was contemplative, "That would be a very big drain on one's magic…"

Harry agreed with a nod of his head and continued the explanation, "There is no turning on or off switch. The victim is under the curse throughout the period that the caster wants. Unlike popular belief, you cannot get the victim to do certain acts by issuing a command; the will of the caster has to be maintained always."

Hermione interjected this time to give Harry some respite, "The victim also has to at least want to do the task that the caster of the curse commanded to do. If you are strictly against it, your magic will fight the curse; the caster will have to use a lot of power to counter your own magic."

Harry continued with a sly grin, "So, if someone tells you that they were under the mind control curse, you can very well say that they were weak willed."

Quite a few of the listeners fidgeted at the thought of how really strong willed were they? Would they also succumb to the curse easily if someone was to come and get their help to increase the influence of the traditionalists in the magical world, using the 'imperius curse'? They naturally wanted greater influence over the muggle-borns, and so would they also be very easy to control? A lot of them did not like the answers that they were forced to confront; no one wanted to be controlled by another, but it seemed that their own perceived superiority over the others may itself be detrimental to their own lives. Would they also be a cause for anarchy if another dark lord was to come up to them and offer them supremacy over the muggles and muggle-borns? The possible answer to that was not palatable to almost all of those that were congregated under the roof of House Black. That thought more than anything else made up the minds of the listeners; they would take the words of Harry Potter from earlier in the night to heed. There may not be any alliance, but there will be a collective effort to make their world a better place to live in.

If Harry and Hermione were privy to the fact that they were changing the outlook of most of the Heads of Houses that came to bless Canopus James Black, they would have been gratified that the effort they put in was worth it. However, that was not the case and so Harry concluded his lecture with, "I hope you now understand the enormous difficulty of maintaining someone under the mind control curse for any extended periods of time. I seriously doubt that even Merlin himself would have had the enormous magical power to do that. Not to mention the extreme control needed to give twenty different tasks to twenty different wizards with reasonable magic power themselves. If you think that the dark lord had that power, then you are delusional."

Harry hated not being able to call the enemy of the wizarding world by his actual name, but even he was able to recognize the need to let go of at least some of his pride if it brought bigger dividends. The result of his passionate speech was a dramatic drop in sympathy for those who made up the inner circle of Voldemort's death eaters. Moreover, there was a polar shift in the stand of the houses who were known to be the most orthodox and demanded strict adherence to the traditions of the magical world. They would not turn into muggle lovers overnight but there would be a palpable drop in their hostility against the muggle-borns entering the wizarding world, but more importantly they would recognize the death eaters for what they truly were.

The night turned out to be a success to a few members of their family too. Everyone agreed that Jason Wyeth was a pompous prat, but he was slowly redeeming himself in their eyes. After a furious discussion with her aunt, Susan finally agreed that she would give their betrothal a chance as Jason was willing to change his attitude. Besides, he was a good guy and Susan found out that he could be quite a romantic when the mood was right.

Augusta Longbottom could not wipe the smile off her face since the time she learnt about the deeper feelings her grandson had towards the exotic Indian beauty, Padma. She would rush to meet the Head of House Patil the next day itself and before the end of the month, both Susan and Neville would be announcing their betrothals.

A/N: Canopus is the second brightest star after Sirius in the night time sky. It is also called as the star of the old man in Chinese. I felt that it was fitting, Canopus is certainly the star of Sirius' eye.

This was not meant to be a chapter by itself but I was unable to stop the flow of the narration and so had to make it as one. This was meant only to show that Harry and Hermione were planning ahead to stop a war at all costs. They had to have some perks for being so intelligent. Hope it was not too boring.