The Phoenix Syndrome – A Tale of Rebirth, Love, and Hate
a/n – The Healer General of the British Ministry of Magic has determined that the entirety of the Harry Potter universe derives from a single vector, namely the imagination of one JK Rowling, hereafter known as 'Author Zero'. Her rights to this universe is undisputed and has been shared with various and sundry corporate partners, including but not limited to the companies involved in the legal production and distribution of the various Harry Potter books and movies. Many thanks are given to Ms Rowling for her kind indulgences and no infringement of any kind is intended.
Mood rings were the invention of Josh Reynolds and Maris Ambats
Chapter Twenty Six – Hazardous Trips Down Memory Lane
11 am bst Tuesday 1 October, 2019 – Treatment Room C – Caer Sidi – off the coast of Wales
Shuffling through the files in her lap, Hilfa Thorfinsdatter felt like she was watching her old roommate's last chips disappear the night before they flew home from Monte Carlo last spring. The life of one Ginevra Molly Weasley was a bad hand of epic proportions.
Even without the horror of having been possessed by the soul fragments of not one but two different psychotic mass murderers, the girl's entire life had been manipulated and ordered by two individuals. Her mother and Albus Dumbledore had orchestrated this girl's life down to the smallest detail, it was no wonder she rebelled against the constraints they had imposed upon her.
Musing upon the vagaries of life, how a random assignment of bunks back during the Grendelwald War had led to a refugee healer who had escaped minutes ahead of Nazis and Grendelwald's psychotic Storm Mages and a wet behind the ears mediwitch from Scotland being assigned together supporting Commonwealth magical forces in the Middle East and North Africa ended up with her in a place so shrouded in secrecy that she'd had to swear oaths that would squib her great grand-daughter who was about to finish her residency at Saint Olaf's if she violated them to evaluate a patient in a case that might not ever exist, officially.
Hilfa wondered, and not for the first time, exactly how strange the life of Poppy Pomfrey really was if this was the type of referral she got. Chuckling, she rolled her eyes at how wrong the stereotype of a school mediwitch really was.
Checking once more to see that everything breakable was secured and all loose objects in the room were charmed so they couldn't be thrown or banished, Hilfa tapped the tip of her wand on the silver rune that was in front of her worked into the gleaming tabletop to notify her assistant and the aurors accompanying her next patient that it was time.
As soon as the door opened, the charms protecting the privacy of the room were released and the strident tones of her next patient were clearly audible.
"How many bloody times do I have to repeat myself? I'm Ginevra Potter, the Lady Potter and the wife of your boss. I demand that you inform my husband of the shameful way I'm being treated this instant."
Getting up from her seat, Hilfa strode across the cozy treatment room towards the door. Catching the eye of the auror who had opened the door, she pulled a potions vial from her pocket and nodded towards her patient, who was ranting at her assistant.
When the young witch held up two fingers, Hilfa mentally rolled her eyes and stepped through the door.
"What seems to be the trouble," she asked in a kindly tone as if she didn't have any idea about the circumstances.
As her patient whirled around to face her, Hilfa had to steel herself to not flinch at the intensity of the malevolence in the glare that the younger witch directed at her. Even after two calming potions, Ginevra Weasley was able to project enough emotion that she was almost radiating an aura around her.
Smiling warmly in spite of the anger and disdain she could see, Hilfa waited for her first face to face interaction with her patient.
"Are you in charge," Ginevra spat out. Without waiting for an answer, she launched herself into a repeat of her earlier tirade.
"I don't think it's too much to ask for you people to respect the fact that I'm the wife of Harry Potter and treat me accordingly," Ginny snarled. "When my husband hears how you've been treating me …"
"I'm sorry, Ginevra, but we treat all of our clients the same," Hilfa said smoothly as she gestured towards the waiting treatment room. "I really wouldn't be fair to treat someone differently; everyone who comes in here receives the same level of interest and care, regardless of whom she is."
Pausing for a moment, she added, "Or who her family is. Surely you wouldn't want any of your friends who were less fortunate than you to receive less care would you?"
While the ginger witch gave her a wary look, Hilfa was gratified to see that she reluctantly nodded in agreement with the concept.
She'd been half afraid that she wouldn't be able to identify with anyone else, but apparently that wasn't part of the problem. Escorting the younger witch into the treatment room, Hilfa watched her as she took in her surroundings.
Giving the room a once over and a sniff of disdain, Ginevra moved gracefully through the door and towards the pair of comfortable chairs arranged around the low table in front of the fireplace.
A fire was gently crackling, partially to add a homey feel to the room and partially to allow quicker access since the only place that this particular floo was connected to was the floo in the ready room for the Active Response Team on duty.
A privacy shield allowed for patient confidentiality, but the runic array that powered the shield was set to drop If Hilfa said a specific safe word or if any magic was detected that didn't have Hilfa's magical signature associated with it.
Snorting at someone's sense of humor in picking a word that had no direct translation in Norwegian, Hilfa wondered exactly who decided on 'kumquat' as a safe word and what was running through that person's mind when they made that choice.
Seating herself across from her patient, Hilfa placed the folder that contained the dossiers and evaluations of her patient on the end table beside her chair and picked up an old fashioned mundane pad of ruled paper.
Something she had picked up while studying in North America, Hilfa still found that using a normal pencil to take notes on an old fashioned yellow legal pad allowed her to concentrate on her patients while giving the ones not familiar with anything outside the magical world something to focus on.
As soon as Ginevra saw it, she rolled her eyes and shook her head.
"Merlin on a crutch, not another one," she said with almost a fond look in her eyes as she stared at the pencil and pad on Hilfa's lap.
"My father, totally mad for muggle things. That bitch gave him one of those pads and that was the last time he used parchment to take notes around the house," she said in a conversational tone as she settled back into the comfortable chair.
Crossing her legs at the knee and settling the calf length skirt around her, Ginevra primly folded her hands in her lap and waited. Seeing that her patient was going to try to direct things, Hilfa simply touched a small rune on the arm of her chair to alert the staff that the interview was beginning.
A brief shimmer heralded the arrival of a tea service on the low table between them. Setting the tablet on the side table, and having the privacy shields shimmer into effect keeping her patient from seeing anything on it, Hilfa leaned forward and gestured towards the serving tray.
"Care for some tea," she asked with a smile. Seeing the suspicious eye her patient was giving the tea and biscuits, Hilfa just shrugged and picked up one of the mugs at random.
Pouring a goodly measure of the tea from the pot into the mug, she sat back and took a sip of the tea. Wishing that the English were civilized enough to provide coffee, she deftly placed the mug on spot on the arm of her chair that would keep it in place and warm and picked up her tablet, settling herself back in the chair to begin her session.
Looking over at the 'abstract' painting on the wall, Hilfa could see the patterns that the picture was picking up from the runes in the chair that her patient was sitting in.
Akin to the muggle 'mood rings' that were all the fashion back in the seventies, a couple of runic researchers at MIT&T, the Maryland Institute of Thaumaturgy and Technomancy, had taken a silly mundane craze and turned it into a diagnostic tool that had been part of the mind healer's standard practice since the early eighties.
Everywhere except for Britain, of course. While things had improved greatly since the nineties, there were still certain things that had never quite caught on here. Seeing that her patient's responses were settling in, she noted that the recording function was on so that it would link the changes in emotional and physical responses to a transcript of the interview.
"Who was it that introduced your father to using a legal pad," Hilfa asked in a cheery voice.
From her background information on the patient and her family, there really could only be one answer, but she decided that the conflict between talking about her father and having to think about Ms Granger should jumpstart the discussion of the issues that brought her to this point.
"My brother's worthless wife," Ginevra said in a frosty tone, glaring at Hilfa for daring to make her think about her nemesis. "Nothing was ever good enough for her; she had to corrupt everything she touched."
Pausing for a moment, she added, "Including my husband."
"Tell me about Harry Potter," Hilfa asked as she watched Ginevra carefully. Seeing the stress reactions, her pupils dilating and her muscles involuntarily tensing as her patient reacted to the verbal assault on her carefully crafted delusions was telling, even more so than her hand's movement that would have dropped her wand from the holster she had worn before her incarceration had begun.
"My husband," Ginevra began in a controlled voice, only to stop when Hilfa held up her hand.
"No, Harry Potter the boy. The young boy you first met the day he first left for Hogwarts."
Her eyes widening, Ginevra sat back in her chair and simply stared for a moment before she smiled. Unlike the intense emotions she had shown up until now, this one was shy and tentative.
"My mother had taken me along to London to get my brothers on the train," Ginevra began as she closed her eyes in an attempt to relive that long ago day.
"For some reason, Mum was quizzing me about the Platform number, which I thought was a bit odd."
"How so," Hilfa asked, with a gentle tone.
"First, we had come to the outside entrance," Ginny said as she continued to keep her eyes closed. "It was such a hassle, instead of just jumping into the floo; we had to make our way through London to get there.
"That was the first year they'd ever come that way, Bill always thought it was Daddy's fascination with doing it the muggle way started the year Ron started Hogwarts."
Pausing for a moment, she added, "Which is decidedly odd since Daddy rarely took them to King's Cross unless it was on a weekend."
"Why would your mother quiz you about the platform number," Hilfa asked as she looked down at her notes. "Platform 9 and ¾s should be easy enough to remember I would think."
"Mum was always doing stuff like that, asking me about things I would need to know later in life," Ginevra said with a sad smile.
"When the boys were all at school, she would drill me on the things that I should do to attract Harry's attention, things about his family that I shouldn't mention, things like that."
Pausing, Ginevra leaned forward and picked a mug and half filled it with tea. Pouring in a generous portion of milk, she sat back and took a sip before closing her eyes again.
"It was a good thing she did; Harry was totally lost trying to find his way onto the platform. That way he knew we weren't clueless muggles like his relatives and he asked about the platform."
"And that's when you fell in love with him," Hilfa asked as she watched her patient carefully.
Smiling wistfully, Ginevra kept her eyes closed as she waved her hand in dismissal. "Oh, I'd been in love with Harry for years by that point. Mum had Daddy get me all of those 'Boy-Who-Lived' books and she read them to me each night before I went to sleep.
"She'd known that I was going to be Lady Potter, even back then and she kept pointing out things in the books that I needed to remember for when I was Harry's wife."
"Did you tell him you loved him as soon as you saw him that day," Hilfa asked casually. Her long talk with Mr. Potter about his early interactions with the Weasley family had given her the answer to her question, but she was curious to see what Ginevra remembered of their first actual meeting.
A puzzled look crossed the red-haired witch's face before she frowned and faintly shook her head, all without opening her eyes.
"No, when he first came up and asked Mum about the platform, he looked nothing like himself," she said in a distant voice. "I'm not certain why he was disguising himself, but he must have decided that he needed to start his plan to stop Voldemort from the moment he arrived at King's Cross."
The more she talked about Harry, the breathier her voice became.
"I really never gave him a second glance, his disguise was so perfect," Ginevra said with a wry smile.
"He looked so pathetic, so … lost; he just couldn't have been Harry Potter. That was the only way he got by me, and if he could fool me he definitely fooled all of the ones looking to do him harm so that's why I forgave him for not acknowledging me when Mum explained it all to me."
"You forgave him," Hilfa asked, looking at the younger witch in disbelief.
"Of course, it would have been a horrible slight for him to not acknowledge me as the future Lady Potter if he hadn't been working so hard to fool everyone," she replied matter of factly.
"I could hardly hold that against him for very long, now could I?"
Before Hilfa could ask, Ginny launched into a completely fictionalized account of the following summer, with Harry breaking out of his relatives' house and making his way to Ottery St. Catchpole to be there so he could celebrate her eleventh birthday with her.
To hear her patient tell it, Harry had risked death and dismemberment just so he could be with her for her special day. Since she had gone over her notes regarding that summer, especially since it touched upon Ginevra's future problems, she was not really surprised that she had blown her first real contact with Harry totally out of context.
While it was difficult to decide whether or not some of the interactions were complete fabrications and which were simply innocent encounters between the two at the Weasley house that the young girl had remembered and embellished while Harry had either forgotten or not even noticed, things hit a rough patch when Hilfa asked about the trip to Diagon Alley to get school supplies.
"So, you first met 'Tom' in Diagon Alley," Hilfa questioned, having gotten the general story from Harry only after swearing some very serious oaths, far beyond the confidentiality oaths that were inherent in her working as a healer.
And after hearing some of the details that still weren't public regarding how the English Dark Lord had managed to survive , she was certain that the cautious attitude of her hosts were warranted.
Becoming a bit withdrawn, Ginevra hesitantly nodded her agreement to the question without answering verbally.
"He chose me," she replied in a very faint voice which sounded younger and much more uncertain than she had previously.
"He recognized my connection to Harry and he chose me so that he could help me prepare to be the consort of a wizard destined for greatness like Harry," Ginevra said quietly.
Seeing that the younger witch was physically drawing into herself, Hilfa resisted the urge to look over at the monitor and concentrated on her to try to garner any physical clues to what she was going through.
"Destined for greatness?"
"He defeated a Dark Lord when he was just a toddler," Ginevra snapped, color coming back into her face. "Everyone knew that he would eventually take his place as the greatest wizard since Merlin," she spat before adding, "that was until she got her claws into him," in a much softer but much more disdainful tone.
"Her," Ginny hissed. "That conniving, smiling … Muggleborn." Even though she hadn't used the term, Hilfa could hear 'mudblood' as her patient described Ms Granger.
"I take it we're discussing Ms Granger," Hilfa said neutrally.
"Of course we're discussing that … swot," Ginny hissed. Again, Hilfa felt that she wasn't hearing her patient's first word choice.
"What did Tom think of Ms Granger?"
"He ignored the little strumpet," Ginny sniffed with disdain. "Every time she tried to talk to him he simply waited until Harry was in control."
The shudder that passed through Ginny when she said that told Hilfa more about her patient's issues than her disparagement of her rival. Making a note of that, she decided to push that concept.
Having viewed extensive memories of the 'sessions' between Ginny and the person that she had polyjuiced into the form of her husband, Hilfa wondered if she could get Ginny to accept what seemed glaringly obvious to any observer.
"What was your relationship with Tom?"
Blinking in surprise, the colour drained out of Ginny's face as she sat back in her chair and stared.
"With … Tom," she asked in a whisper.
"Yes, your relationship with Tom," Hilfa said. "Other than Harry, what sort of things did the two of you talk about?"
A brief shudder passed through the younger witch, and if Hilfa hadn't been carefully observing her she would have missed it, as she took a deep breath.
Releasing it slowly, Ginny shook her head a bit before beginning.
"Tom tried to help me become a suitable companion for a wizard of Harry's power and potential," she said slowly. Rather than the inflections of natural speech, Hilfa could hear the flat cadences that indicated that Ginny was reciting something from rote.
"A wizard like Harry should have a suitable companion, someone who can be what he needs and Tom tried to show me how to be that witch."
A change came over her features as her voice became harsher. Hilfa could see a change in how Ginny was holding herself as she sat in the chair across from her.
"But no, he never could take his rightful place, a place his power and abilities would carve out for him. She wouldn't let him become the wizard he could be. I tried to get him to …"
"You tried to what, Ginevra," Hilfa asked quietly.
"I tried to get him to take the place in the world his abilities and powers could carve for him. If he would have just started with me he could have ruled Britain within years of defeating Voldemort. Harry Potter, the 'Wizard Who Won' sitting on an iron throne and controlling everything he could see with me at his feet …"
Breathing heavily, her eyes now closed, Hilfa watched in fascination at the transformation that came over her patient. Her face was flushed as she was lost in whatever fantasy she had of a triumphant Harry Potter ruling over Britain, and apparently her, with complete control.
"He would never take what I offered, not in the way he should have," she said with a note of despair. "Tom showed me his memories of how he had come to rule the Slytherin Commons, how he bent the witches of his house and the others to his will while he established his control."
Eyes now open, and blazing with emotion but not seeing the scene before her, Hilfa watched as her patient was completely caught up in the memories of her time in thrall to the diary that had belonged to Tom Marvello Riddle before he had invested it with a sliver of his soul.
"Harry couldn't rule Britain and the rest of the world because he couldn't even rule me," she snarled. "That pathetic bitch weakened him, wrapped him around her will, made him unfit …"
Having come half out of her seat, and causing Hilfa to move her hand closer to the panic rune, Ginny suddenly collapsed back into her chair and slumped a bit, almost as if she had been a marionette whose strings had been cut.
Or a victim of possession who was cut off from the entity possessing her.
As a small shudder passed through her patient's body, Hilfa was surprised to see Ginevra's eyes pop open. Sitting back up, Ginny blinked a couple of times before looking at Hilfa with a questioning look in her eyes.
"You were asking about the summer before I started Hogwarts, correct?"
19 October, 2019 - The former Dumbledore Manor near Mould on Wold
Looking around the opulently appointed sitting room, Daturia Selwyn smiled as she took in the scene around her.
Sitting in small groups, the members of the various families that she trusted implicitly were quietly discussing the events of the last six weeks. All of the disparate pieces were coming together; everything would be ready when they unleashed de Soulis and Redcap upon an unsuspecting public.
And that was just the opening strike. Pushing Britain back on its heels with the onslaught of terror and bloodshed they would unleash, Daturia felt that within a matter of days could see the capitulation of the Ministry and the seizing of control of all of Britain under the aegis of a reconstituted Ministry.
A Ministry dedicated towards tearing down the Statutes that were holding the magical cultures in bondage. Holding them from taking their rightful places in leading the world forward into a future dominated by the magicals of the world.
A steady thumping sound drew Daturia's attention to the hallway leading towards the back of the manor. A grizzled figure in an archaic grey uniform entered the room, fixing the occupants with a dismissive glare.
A cross between the late and unlamented blood traitor Alastor Moody and the late Hogwarts professor Silvanus Kettleburn, Wolfgang Hanussen was one of the few surviving veterans of the Grindelwald War from the losing side.
Known as 'Grindelwald's Beastmaster', the young Hanussen faded into the shadows in the days following Grindelwald's downfall and the end of the Second World War, moving from patron to patron in Central and Eastern Europe until he had come to the attention of the pureblood supremacist movement in Britain.
Making his way across the room, the uniformed wizard looked every bit of his almost century of age. Walking with a marked limp, the empty uniform sleeve that was pinned up gave witness to the danger of his calling and the hardness of his life over the past eight decades since the end of the war.
"Gnädige Frau," Wolfgang Hanussen said with a slight inclination of his head towards the seated witch. His posture, even after three quarters of a century, was that of a soldier on the parade field. In spite of the ravages of time and his profession, he gave the impression of a predator waiting to strike.
"The talismans were exactly where I had placed them in a crypt hidden in the Wildtalwald. One container was destroyed by a cave-in, but I still have twelve for die jäger, they should be sufficient to bring the cattle to their knees."
Nodding, Daturia rose from her chair and motioned for Hanussen to lead the way. Looking around the room, she shook her head briefly when several of the others made to stand, but she motioned for her sister Belladonna to join them as she accompanied the grey uniformed wizard from the room.
"Ironic, no, that the Dumbledore legacy will play such a major part of our victory," Belladonna said quietly as they made their way through the hallways towards the back stairwell.
Nodding amicably to the various members that they encountered, the trio quickly reached what had originally been the ground floor entrance to one of the two servants' stairwells in the manor.
As they descended the stairs, the quickly passed the sealed doors the led to the three levels of cellars below the old manor house. As soon as they passed through the archway that marked the boundary of the areas permitted to the general staff, the stairwell shifted into a ramp that lead downwards at a gentle slope.
"Gnädige Frau," Wolfgang said as the light began to brighten as they neared the final door before they entered the observation deck, "I must renew my insistence that you consider my recommendation that you move the cauldron containing der Meisterzauber und der Alp out of the cavern containing die jäger. They've been … unpredictable since you retrieved it."
"Herr Hanussen," Belladonna said smoothly, "we have full faith in your abilities to care for your charges. I know it's an inconvenience …"
"Frau Parkinson," Wolfgang replied stiffly, "even with the talismans there were problems during the war achieving consistent results."
Shaking his head, he turned his attention to Daturia. "And those were Schwarzwälder, unlike these pale inselwyrm whom you have asked me to train."
As they passed through the final door, the lights in the observation deck dimmed as they looked out over the large cavern the opened through three large openings to the cliff that had been hidden by magic by the Dumbledore family centuries ago.
Looking down they could see the large cauldron sitting in the middle of the open area. But surrounding it were the pens holding the eighteen wyverns that were the remnants of the once numerous flocks that were the staple of the economic power of the Dumbledore family over a century past.
Even from where they were, all three could see the agitation of the eighteen winged predators. All twelve of the males were screaming their defiance at the cauldron while the females were hissing their discomfort as they crouched over their clutches of eggs.
Imagining what would happen if the controls keeping the massive beasts in their pens were to fail, Daturia shook her head.
"Very well, Herr Hanussen, I will have the cauldron moved up to the wine cellar this evening. We will perform the ceremony there to release de Soulis and Red Cap there and your flock can join them as they visit our vengeance upon the cattle."
1400 gmt 24 October, 2019 – Chief Auror's Office, DMLE, Ministry of Magic, London
Just as Harry was looking at the schedules that his team leaders were submitting regarding plans that the Department was formulating to attempt to track down the pureblood bigots who had gone to ground after the incident along the Borders last month, the floo in his office roared to life.
The shade of green indicated that the floocall was coming from outside the Ministry building, and since the list of people who could directly floo him was short, Harry wasn't too surprised when he looked up and saw his cousin's wife, Chastity Dursley, on the other end of the call.
What did surprise him was the look of panic on the veteran healer's face.
"Harry, we need you here, as soon as possible." Pausing for a moment, she added, "It's not good."
Panic gripped his heart, and his mind immediately flashed through the list of active auror operations that were going on, wondering which of his aurors had been injured.
Rising, he looked up at the door into his office where Horace Smithers was standing and nodded towards him. Turning his attention back to Chastity, he simply asked, "Which team?"
Shaking her head, Chastity smiled nervously. "It's not an auror issue, it's … personal."
"One of the children," Harry asked, now furiously trying to figure out how St. Mungo's found out about something before Hogwarts would have notified him. Minerva wasn't Dumbledore; she took great pains to keep parents in the loop.
"It's Hermione," Chastity said, emphasizing her name to clue Harry in that it was Hermione personally and not Director Granger who was the subject of the conversation.
"She came in because she hasn't been feeling well and she's taking a couple of aspects of what we found out."
"Chastity?" Looking at the usually unflappable witch who was the consummate professional, he could see that she was both amused and embarrassed.
Turning his attention to Horace, he was about to brief him when he stopped as he could see that the usually reserved auror commander was grinning and waving him towards the floo.
"Cara said that she'd been a bit under the weather this past week or so, you'd better go and face the music boss." Shaking his head, Horace just held up his hand and smirked. "I'll let Staci know that you'll be out the rest of the day and have her direct all calls to the Duty Desk."
Thanking the day that he'd hired Staci Churchill, who Minerva had said had been 'the most consummate Slytherin to ever slither her way into Hufflepuff', Harry just gave Horace a look as he moved towards the floo.
"Tell Staci that I shouldn't be too long, but let the Duty Officer know that they've got things until they hear from me."
Stepping over to the floo, Harry reached up as Chastity withdrew her head from the flames and grabbed a pinch of floo powder from the container on the mantel.
As the flames flared, he clearly announced, "Healer Dursley's office" as he stepped into the flames.
Twirling and twisting as he passed the various grates in the Ministry and then between the Ministry building and St. Mungo's, his mind flashed back to his first floo trip when he ended up at Knockturn Alley instead of Diagon Alley when he was twelve, Harry made an almost graceful exit from the floo in Chastity's office.
"What's wrong with her," Harry asked as he was moving towards the door to the outer office. "She's not been feeling well, but she said it was just her stomach being temperamental with all of the stress this past two months."
As they exited through the outer office and into the corridor, Harry started to get worried when Chastity didn't immediately start talking. Looking at her out of the corner of his eye, he simply asked, "How bad is it?"
"She's fit to be tied, and you've got some explaining to do," Chastity said as they navigated the corridor to the lifts.
Rolling her eyes, Chastity decided that while it seemed impossible Harry was this slow, that had to be the answer since there was no reason she could see that he would be faking not understanding what was going on.
Especially since he'd gone through this three times with that witch.
As they stepped into the lifts, Chastity gave a glare to the three mediwitch trainees that were already in the carriage. Since the only thing faster than a patronus for sending information was the gossip mill at St. Mungo's , there was no doubt in Chastity's mind that someone would have 'mentioned' that the DMLE Director had been given a consult to Healer Shacklebolt's and the word would have spread around the hospital.
And if Hermione's temper were running true to form, then anyone within earshot of Padma's office would have a good idea of what was going on, so the only decent thing to do was get Harry there as quick as possible so he'd hear the news from the source.
That, and Chastity wouldn't miss seeing the look on his face when he finally realized what was happening for all the vaults in Gringotts.
As she pushed the button for the fourth floor, she could see that Harry was still in the dark since her office was on the fifth floor.
"I had to write her a consult," Chastity began cautiously. Before Harry could go into panic mode, she attempted to change the subject and start him thinking about something that would need discussing once the initial shock was over.
"Are you guys still planning for sometime between Yule and Hogmanay?"
Blinking in surprise at the abrupt skid the conversation took, Harry stared suspiciously at Chastity who was pulling a decidedly innocent face as the lift took off on its rounds.
"That's pretty much the plan," Harry replied cautiously. "Any earlier and we'd have problems having the children involved in the ceremony what with them all being in Hogwarts."
Pausing for a moment, he added, "Except for Teddy and Victoire, of course."
As the lift slowed for a stop on three, the trainees who had already been in the car moved towards the doors. The tallest of the three, Chastity recognized her as Lizbeth Mackenzie-Kirkness, the daughter of a coworker who was one of Poppy's protégés, looked as if she was about to say something to Harry.
Waving her off with a subtle shake of her head, Chastity smirked at the surprised look on the younger witch's face as the doors to the lift opened and all three hurriedly exited the lift.
As the doors rattled closed, Harry rolled his eyes and simply said, "I don't suppose you're going to tell me what all of that was about, Chas?"
"I really don't have the foggiest what you're referring to," Chastity said as the lift slowed to a stop on four. As the doors opened, two things were readily apparent from where they were standing as they exited the car.
The first was that the mediwitch's station opposite the lifts was totally deserted, not a mediwitch or healer in sight.
The second was that there was a crowd of gawkers in the passageway down towards the right, blocking the corridor and all of them were craning their necks to look around the corner towards whatever the spectacle was that had captured the attention of everyone on the floor.
"For the love of …" Chastity hissed in exasperation as she stared in disbelief at the gaggle of lookie-loos in the corridor.
Taking her wand, Chastity fired a mild stinging hex at the posterior of the mediwitch at the rear of the pack, whom she recognized as being one Constance Stamford who had been a couple of years behind her in Hufflepuff.
When the irate ginger witch turned to see who had so rudely interrupted her, she paled when she recognized a senior healer scowling at her and the Chief Auror with a totally bewildered look on his face.
Hurriedly turning, she began furiously whispering, and suddenly the crowd in the corridor disappeared faster the pastries at a Monday morning staff meeting.
Except for one familiar blonde who was avidly watching the show playing out around corner in the one of the office suites while munching on what appeared to be popcorn in a white and red striped paper cone, she was peering intently at whatever had captured everyone's attention.
Clearing her throat noisily, Chastity tried without success to tear Luna's attention from whatever it was she was watching, and considering whose office was just around that corner there was very little doubt in Chastity's mind exactly what and whom Luna was watching.
Holding up her hand, Luna shook her head without taking her attention away from the spectacle she was watching. "Just a tic, she's getting to the good parts."
"Deputy Headmistress, this really isn't apropos,"
"Oh poo." Shaking her head, Luna looked over her shoulder at Chastity. Seeing Harry, however, her eyes lit up with an almost unholy glee.
"It's showtime," Motioning Harry forward, Luna snickered at the confused look on Harry's face. Turning her attention back to Chastity, she smiled and said, "I wondered if you'd be considerate enough not to clue him in and you were."
As Harry moved forward, glaring at Luna as she started snickering, his surroundings started to look vaguely familiar. Remembering coming here, just after being named as Chief Auror that December with Ginevra for an appointment with …
"Healer Shacklebolt's office is right where you remember it Harry," Chastity said as she put her hand on Harry's back to keep him moving forward. As soon as they stepped in front of the door into Padma's office, they could hear Hermione ranting.
"I can't believe he would do that. When I get my hands on Harry Bloody Potter …"
Harry froze in the middle of the doorway as Hermione looked up from where she was pacing back and forth. Padma was perched on the edge of her desk where she had been listening to her patient and friend with a steaming mug of something that she was vainly trying to hand to the brunette whirlwind who was nervously pacing in her office.
As soon as Hermione cut off, Padma looked toward the door and spotting Harry sighed noisily as Hermione erupted.
"Harry, how could you do that? I can't believe you would do such a tactless thing," Hermione snarled as she turned towards Harry. Taking a couple of steps towards him, she planted her hands on her hips and glared.
"Do you have anything to say for yourself?"
Staring at her in disbelief, Harry's thoughts were racing around in very small circles as he tried to figure out exactly what was going on. The fact that Chastity gave Hermione a consult to Padma would indicate that they were pregnant.
Regardless of how clueless he might appear, he hadn't fallen off the turnip wagon last night and he had gone through this three times before with Ginevra so he was able to figure that much out himself. Mentally kicking himself for not having seen the signs since he had survived all three of Ginevra's rant laden pregnancies and had been around during both of Hermione's so the signs should have been obvious.
Except for that little fact that they had been careful, including that first night, that might have given him an apparently false sense of security.
The fact that Hermione seemed to be irate over the fact she was pregnant shocked him since they had talked around the subject, preferring to leave it until after the wedding when they could take a breath and see how the kids felt about having another sibling or two.
They had both heartily agreed that there were going nowhere near Trelawney's barmy prediction of a dozen but one or two children together was within the realm of possibility.
"Hermione, while I agree that the timing might not be the best, I seem to remember we were both very enthusiastically involved whenever this happened," Harry said carefully as he watched her trying to decipher exactly why she was so upset.
Ginevra's violent mood swings hadn't started until well into the pregnancy and he never remembered Hermione being overly emotional during her pregnancies with either Rose or Hugo.
Blinking in shock, Hermione rolled her eyes. "You can't possibly be this dense, Harry. Even Bilius could figure out what he'd done wrong in this situation."
Before Harry could take offense, Padma slapped her hand on the rune on her desk that activated the standard Healers' control runes for her office. Since people tended to take bad health related news badly, and with witches and wizards routinely carrying their wand, most treatment and office areas in St. Mungo's had runic arrays that allowed healers and mediwitches to put anyone not wearing a hospital ID into 'timeout'.
"Hermione, Harry doesn't know the little fact that set you off. All he's sussed out is that the two of you are pregnant and he thinks that you're very upset about that. Now before he gets the idea that you aren't happy about having a … baby with him, you need to catch him up on the bit that's got your knickers in a twist."
Hitting the rune again to release them, Hermione's face was suddenly very remorseful and she rushed forward and engulfed Harry in a fierce hug.
"Heavens, Harry," she whispered as she held him. "Of course I'm happy that we're going to have a child together." Feeling him relax and put his arms around her, she blinked a couple of times and hugged him tight.
"It was a shock, especially since we'd though we were being careful, but Padma explained that part. It was just when I realized …"
Breaking off, she loosened her grip on him and held him at arm's length. "But I still can't believe you did that. I can't believe you went home that night and slept with her."
Confused, Harry shook his head in disbelief. "Wait, what? Who did I supposedly sleep with?"
"Why Ginevra. I realize she was your wife but that was a bit shocking to realize you went home after we'd had dinner and slept with her."
"What?" Looking over at Padma who was trying not to laugh, Harry implored, "Can you explain what makes her think I slept with Ginevra?"
"Oh you did, Harry," Padma said. "In fact you knocked her up." Pausing with a wicked smile, she added, "Twelve years ago."
"Wait. What?" Staring in disbelief at both Padma, who was snickering and Hermione who was glaring at him, Harry blinked in surprise. "This is about Lily?"
Seeing that Hermione was still indignant, Padma stopped snickering and simply nodded. "Harry, the two of you are expecting a witchling and from the tests I did today, your likely due date is on or around the 12th of June of next year."
Processing that, Harry turned to Hermione. "We're having a girl?"
"Yes, Harry, we're having a girl and if she's on time she'll be here on the 12th of June. This means we got lucky that first night. Even you can't miss what's wrong with that."
"Other than the fact we'll embarrass the poor girl terribly if I ever mention that she's your birthday present?"
"Harry!" Stamping her foot in frustration, Hermione rolled her eyes. "When is Lily Luna's birthday?"
"12 June …" Trailing off, Harry shrugged. "You're mad because of a coincidence?"
"No, you idiot. I'm annoyed because that year you and I went out for dinner for my birthday because Bilius was away and Ginevra was working that night. We had a lovely dinner at Greengrass' and then you went home and slept with your wife on my birthday."
Blushing, Hermione shook her head. "I'm sorry, it sounds ridiculous I know but I was really hurt when Padma made that 'birthday present' joke and I realized that it meant you went home and slept with Ginevra that night after we had dinner while I was home alone."
Stunned, Harry stared at her in disbelief. While Hermione was truly embarrassed to admit how she felt, he could also see the hurt in her eyes.
Thinking back to that night, and he remembered the night clearly because he had spent it celebrating her twenty-eighth birthday which he had commemorated by giving her a lunar pendant and a first edition manuscript of Wenlock's research into the arithmantic properties of the number seven published in 1243.
"Ginevra wasn't home when I got back to Potter Hall that night, I remember waking up the next morning on the davenport in my study and complaining about my stiff back that day during our staff meeting so whenever Lily was conceived, it wasn't on your birthday."
Ignoring the whistle of surprise from Chastity, the snicker from Luna and the "Damn he's good" from Padma, Harry looked deep into her eyes.
"You know these dates aren't that totally precise and what happened back then doesn't matter now. We have seven children and this June we'll add an eighth to the circus we call home. Lily will get over having to share a birthday with her youngest sister if that happens."
Shaking his head, he looked over at Padma and smirked. "Besides, the first time you ran the test on Ginevra, you told us we were expecting twins, so you're only twelve years off."
Turning his attention back to Hermione, Harry smiled and wrapped an arm around her as he turned her towards the door.
"My suggestion is that we go back to the Ministry, sign out for the day, and then go home and decide if we need to move the wedding up."
Looking around, Harry nodded to each of the three witches. "I know there's no way this is going to stay a secret long, but if you could put a lid on it until we have a chance to call her parents and Petunia, we'll consider it a win."
"Should I expect an appearance tonight after dinner in the Great Hall," Luna asked with a twinkle in her eyes that rivaled anything Dumbledore could have done back in his heyday.
"We probably should, but that'll mean I'll have to suffer through a thorough exam by Poppy."
Hurriedly looking over her shoulder, Hermione smiled. "Sorry Pad, but you know how she is."
Waving her off with a smile, Padma looked at Chastity and shared a knowing look. "Poppy still remembers all of us as 'ickle firsties', I think."
As Harry led the much calmer Hermione out of the office, after a promise that she would floo Padma's mediwitch later to set up a series of appointments, Luna shut the door and started snickering at what had just happened.
Which set the other two off and all three laughed until they could barely stand.
Wiping her eyes, Padma looked at Chastity with a puzzled look in her eyes.
"Until Harry mentioned that thing with Ginevra's test, I'd forgotten all about that."
Shaking her head in disbelief, she said, "The strange thing is the same thing happened today. The first time I ran the test on Hermione, the results were for twins. But when I checked it for gender, the test showed only a single witchling."
Seeing the knowing look on Luna's face, Padma grimaced. "It's never good when you've got that look in your eyes, Lu."
Smiling mysteriously, Luna innocently asked, "Did you run the standard line tests on Lily?"
An indignant Padma replied, "Of course. Not that I would have doubted it at the time, though there were always rumors about her and some of the quidditch players she palled around with, but it's a Ministry requirement to do a lineage test for any children of the Ancient and Honorables."
Pausing for a moment, she shivered a bit. "The consequences are quite severe if you try to add a child to the family register that's not part of the line. Harry was definitely the father of all three children."
Thinking for a second, Padma smiled knowingly. "I know what you're thinking, but what happened with Ginevra happened because unless it's requested we don't do the thorough tests on anyone other than the Ancients."
Smiling mysteriously, Luna simply asked, "So, you never test to see who the mother is?"
a/n2 – German terms and phrases from the middle section
Gnädige Frau – Mistress or Good Lady
die jäger- the hunters
der Meisterzauber und der Alp - The Master Sorcerer and the Elf
Schwarzwälder - from the Black Forest
Inselwyrm - Island Wurms (referring to their English origins)
a/n3 - originally posted on 5/6. updated on 5/6 for a spelling correction to Gnädige Frau thanks to texan-muggle for the catch!
and updated a second time to fix my ever present problem with possessives. Apparently I'm a closet Socialist. Thanks to alix33 for the assist!