Yeah, yeah I've not updated in months. I know. I've been busy. I'm not sure how much you all understand about my life right now so I'll give you the brief. I've been out of University since June last year and unemployed as well. Whilst job hunting, I discovered I really like children and have since focused on attaining a career in childcare. After my last update I got offered a voluntary placement in the most awesome nursery ever. Since then I've now gone back to college and am working towards a childcare qualification. I know you guys have been asking me (with varying degrees of desperation) to update and while you do give me mostly nice reviews, the children give me hugs and I also got a really nice thank you card as well.
Point is, I've been busy. I often encourage writers to make education a priority over Fanfiction and while I'm not giving this up, it is now a secondary concern.
Anyhow, hope you like it. I am telling you now I will not be able to get the next chapter up in much of a hurry. My course whilst brilliant is really time consuming and I have a large number of essays, projects and other things to do between now and Christmas. You have been warned.
By the way thank you to those of you who gave me Birthday wishes after the last update. Please enjoy the story.
Also please keep reviewing. I like reviews.
Luna looked out her bedroom window and surveyed the area around her. At first glance it looked no different from normal. But if once glanced carefully they could make out the pinkish purple shimmer of the protective wards.
She was well aware of what most wizards thought of the views held by her and her father. She was aware that many people looked down on them and thought they were no threat. But her father was a journalist and an editor with control over his own paper. Months ago one could joke that the Quibbler was not the Daily Prophet because it had no more than a few readers. But now, even the Quibbler was selling better than that paper so that joke was now invalid. Her father had printed an article detailing Voldemort's upbringing and blood heritage. In retaliation, a Death Eater had tried to blow up their house. But the article was not released until after the wards were upgraded.
Many people thought Lovegoods were stupid, they were wrong. The same misconceptions could be made about a certain Master Edvin Magnus, Director of the Norwegian Magical Research Institute in Vanaheim. He had an abnormal fixation on Blueberries and Crumple-Horned Snorkacks. Yet he was now standing in the garden with Luna's father setting up a Fidelius Charm.
When the Death Eater had materialized the other day, he fired an Explosion Curse. Thankfully another friend of the family had already set up some expert defensive wards and the curse backfired and the would-be arsonist was a little worse for wear. He survived with only minor burns, but that did him little good when her father placed him in a body-bind and called the Law Officers.
The Magical World was changing. Not just in terms of the war that was now on, but the society that had ignored its problems, its corruption and tried to play down its discrimination was now learning that it could no longer exist idly any longer. Pureblood Supremacy, or blood bigotry or whatever one wanted to call it was dying. At the beginning of the century, Purebloods were in the majority. But as the Muggle world began to change and reform itself, Muggleborns were less inclined to simply bend to the systematic discrimination against them. When they couldn't get good jobs despite getting good school marks, they moved back to the Muggle World. When they couldn't gain the respect they deserved, they moved back. The transfer back was not all that difficult. Muggleborns had the advantage of being familiar with their ancestral world and had magic to support them and help them make their way.
Luna's own Great Grandmother was a Muggleborn. She left the Wizarding World then made a relatively comfortable living selling knitting at a market stall. The fact that she could enchant several needles and wool to do it simultaneously made things so much easier. She wasn't alone and eventually the Ministry lessened the restrictions on those of Muggle heritage and over the next eighty years, as Muggle Britain became enthralled in the trauma of two World Wars and a series of cultural and political crises, Muggleborns tended to stay in the Magical World and by the time Luna was born most of the Wizarding World was made up of Halfbloods. Like herself.
Yet Purebloods still dominated the elites, but now with the war and the mass clampdown on corruption the feudalistic system was breaking down. There were of course those who would continue to fight for it, but they would lose. Even if Voldemort won his war, he was not a Pureblood, he was a Halfblood. In time, his supporters would realise he was no friend and one day there would be those who would turn on him. There were far more Non-Magicals than Magicals therefore seeking to wipe them out or force them into submission was doomed to fail. Voldemort, or Tom Riddle or whatever people called him would fall, whether by the decay of time or by a rebellion or by Harry Potter, he would not, as he preached live forever.
On the other end of the spectrum from Voldemort, was Harry Potter. A boy Luna now thought of as her friend. He had courage but more importantly he had the will to use it. Luna had met him briefly but she could tell he was a force to be reckoned with. He was strong, determined and clever. But he was still human. Harry was lonely and he realised that he needed his friends, not many people would have the courage to admit that they needed to see someone just for the sake of quelling that loneliness.
A few hours later, Luna met Dobby at the top of a hill near her house. They disapperated away and arrived inside a cubicle in a girl's toilet at a shopping centre in Carlisle.
Luna exited from the cubicle as Dobby materialized away. Outside the toilets, she found Harry leaning against the opposite wall waiting for her. She smiled at the sight of him and quickly took him in a hug.
"Hi Luna." Said Harry. It seemed a little odd for him to be this close to the girl considering he had only just met her the once. But Ginny trusted her and Luna as of yet had not told anyone what he'd done to get out of Hogwarts.
"Hello Harry Potter." She said as she let go and stood back from him. "I can see you're quite frustrated. Have you not been in contact with anyone?"
"Not a lot of people." Said Harry, gesturing in a particular direction. "Just my House-Elf and the people I met in Albania."
The two of them began walking through the shopping centre. It was rather like any shopping centre one could easily find in British city, filled with basic clothes shops that only really catered to women, the occasional bad looking noisy cafés with cheap food and drink and the odd shop that sold video games, films and/or music. But Harry didn't invite Luna round to go shopping.
They left the building and found a relatively quiet café that was still open despite it being a Sunday.
"Thank you for coming to see me." Said Harry.
"It's no trouble." Said Luna, "I must confess I don't often venture into the Muggle World.
"It may seem odd, but despite having grown up with them, I've never really gone out into the Muggle World that much either." Said Harry. "At least not before this summer, the Dursleys liked to keep me in a limited world."
"Did you ever go beyond…" Luna stopped as a waiter came over.
"What can I get you?" he asked.
Harry and Luna ordered basic café food and drinks, though Luna sized her coke up for about two minutes before taking a sip.
"What exactly is in this?" she asked.
"Sugar." Said Harry "Plus a bunch of other stuff, but mainly sugar."
"I see." Luna took another sip. "I think it can grow on me, though I worry for my teeth. Without my teeth there is nothing to keep the Blibbering Humdinger from crawling down my throat?"
Harry choked on his own coke. "It's just one glass, and it's probably no worse than Butterbeer."
"I suppose." Said Luna. "So Harry what have you been up to?"
"Besides sneaking off to Albania?" asked Harry.
Luna merely blinked her eyes in acknowledgement.
"I went to the Village where Voldemort's parents came from." Said Harry.
"Was it nice there?" asked Luna.
"It could look ideal to the right person but… the people there… let's just say the concept of innocent until proven guilty means absolutely nothing to a village full of gossipers."
Harry told Luna what he got from the villagers, about Frank Bryce, about how he was framed and how despite being dead for a year now people were still bad mouthing him.
"People can be cruel and too quick to judge." Said Luna. "But you already know this."
Harry nodded. "Everyone thought Sirius was guilty, that he betrayed my parents and murdered Pettigrew and those Muggles. It was all a lie, one big lie that only Sirius and Pettigrew knew about. Even I readily believed what was being said about Sirius because everyone else was saying it."
Luna nodded. "It is true that your Godfather also suffered something similar to what Frank Bryce suffered. But I was actually talking about you."
"Me?" questioned Harry.
"Your name was entered into the Goblet of Fire and, despite the fact you had no obvious knowledge of how to get it in there or convince the cup that there should not be a fourth champion, many believed you still rigged it to get yourself in the Tournament. Many also refused to believe that anyone else could have put your name in, including your own best friend."
Harry shook his head. "Ron never really believed it. Pretending he did just made it easier on him to be angry at me, not that he had any right to be angry with me but…"
"Against their better judgement, people like having someone to blame when they don't understand a situation." Said Luna. "The villagers in Little Hangleton wanted to believe Bryce was responsible for the death of Riddles because they didn't understand the full situation. They didn't care about the lack of proof to their theory because human nature tends to give people an overinflated opinion of their own Judgement."
"But they never stopped to consider Frank Bryce." Said Harry. "The man was lonely when the Riddles were murdered and he must have suffered dreadfully over the last fifty years."
"This is the side people don't like to think about." Agreed Luna. "When someone is wrongly accused of wrongdoing, it can be hurtful. That is the reason we have innocent until proven guilty, because the wrongfully accused has the right to not feel guilty for something he or she didn't do."
"Sirius never got that." Remarked Harry bitterly. "I didn't even know he never had a trial until he told me personally. Dumbledore, after Sirius' innocence, claimed to have presented evidence against him, proving that he was my parents Secret Keeper. Well his precise words were, 'I myself gave evidence' he never said who or what he gave the evidence to."
"You never got the opportunity to defend yourself either." Said Luna. "No one, except some of those closest to you were willing to believe that you could not have entered yourself. It's only really with Barty Crouch Junior's confession that most people now accept you did nothing wrong."
"Yet there are still those who would like to believe I did." Remarked Harry.
"There is no point in trying to convince an idiot." Said Luna. "That was one of the last lesson's my mother taught me, after I was teased because I believed what my Daddy believed."
"It wasn't Ron who teased you was it?" said Harry.
"No, it was his older brother Percy." said Luna. "Ronald likes to laugh at me and I am well aware of his opinion of my opinions but he kept those to himself. He is a better person that many give him credit for."
"Yeah." Said Harry. "I think if Dumbledore hadn't been breathing down his neck in the last week of term, I might have been able to get through to him. He was more willing to accept my reservations than Hermione."
"They do seem to be feeling bad about how they left things with you." Said Luna. "Ginny has been writing to me lots telling me about what she can."
"So she's not at the Burrow?" said Harry.
"No." said Luna "No one is. Percy was planning on moving out, but I think with the war starting, they want to keep their family under one set of wards. I occasionally see the eldest Brother Bill and some others walking in and out of the Burrow. They don't have the same access to ward specialists as my father does."
"You don't know where they are?"
"I think they're with your Godfather, or at least in regular contact with him. I suspect he and the Weasleys are as well as Hermione are somewhere under a Fidelius Charm. According to Ginny; Ron and Hermione have been really depressed since getting back from school."
Harry closed his eyes. "I hope they can forgive me. I thought I was doing the right thing, but now…"
"It is still the right thing." Said Luna. "In times of crisis, and war above all else, peoples' feelings can get the better of them. There are times when one can allow their feelings to run a little wild and see where it takes them, but War is not one of them."
"Even so, I was pretty harsh on them." said Harry. "I focused on all their flaws, a bit rich considering how many I have."
"But you are aware of your flaws and are trying to fix them." said Luna.
"I guess I am." Said Harry. "Still sometimes I wonder whether it would have been better…"
Harry didn't finish his sentence, but Luna was far more observant and for more understanding of human nature than most would give her credit for.
"Harry Potter, nothing would have been accomplished by you dying." Said Luna firmly, and one or two customers in the café turned to look at them cautiously.
Harry blinked. "How did… never mind."
"Do you want to talk about it?" said Luna.
"After Cedric and I got the cup, he was killed and my life was left to chance, there was a point…"
"Go on." Said Luna.
"There was a point when I considered what I was fighting for… well mainly what I was living for. For a time… I believed there was nothing."
As he was speaking, Harry's eyes were locked with Luna's. Her eyes were gradually turning more sorrowful.
"What changed your mind?" said Luna.
Harry paused, not sure what to say. What happened that night, in the Realm of Passing was incomprehensible. Yet. If there was one person other than Ginny who could understand, then Harry believed it was the girl with him today.
"I got really very close to dying." Said Harry.
"How close?" asked Luna.
"Close enough to talk." Harry trailed off, testing her trust him.
Luna's eyes widened. "What was it like?"
"White." Said Harry. "Everything, except the people were completely white. It also looked exactly like the Burrow."
"People?" asked Luna calmly.
Harry nodded. He didn't need to say who.
"This is essentially where I learnt everything, at least the beginning of everything. Since going to Albania and Little Hangleton, not to mention the Hogwarts archives, I've learnt more, and I'm still not out of places to look just yet."
"What did you learn?" asked Luna.
"That I have more in this world worth fighting for than I realised. I also realised that if I wanted to fight this, I actually had to get out and do it myself." Said Harry. "So far I've toppled a government and saved and eight-year-old girl from a Dementor."
Luna smiled. "You have learnt what you need to do…"
"But I'm now back at the reason why I didn't want to do this at first." Said Harry. "I fight for my friends, even the one's I'm currently angry with. But I haven't been able to see my friends because my sanctuary is my strongest asset right now and I can't let Ron and Hermione in until I'm sure I can trust them. The other thing is, I'm also fighting for revenge. I'm worried that my anger is going to unleash itself in the wrong place. That I'll do something stupid."
"You are human." Said Luna. "We have all made mistakes. This morning, I put one of my socks on inside out."
"It's not the same." Said Harry. "If I screw up…"
"What's the worst that can happen?" said Luna.
"I'll die people I care about die…" said Harry.
"Harry. Voldemort may have an obsession with you. But this whole war cannot ride on your shoulders." Said Luna. "If you fail, then one day someone else will take your place. All you can do is what you can do."
"I guess you're right." Said Harry. "It's not really down to me alone is it?"
"Not in the slightest." Said Luna. "Ginny, Neville and I are with you. Others will follow in time, some already do."
"I guess." Said Harry. "I'm not being very cheerful am I?"
"If you were cheerful, then there would be no need for me to be here." Said Luna.
"How about we try a change of subject?" Suggested Luna.
"What do you propose?" Harry asked.
"Well I would be most interested to learn more about the girl you met in Albania." Suggested Luna.
"Elira?" said Harry alright. "Basically I needed to investigate this forest…"
After lunch was done, Harry offered to take Luna shopping. He wasn't really sure what else there was to do for fun. But Luna noticed the castle dominating the city view and asked if they could go there.
Carlisle Castle was built about 900 years before Harry and Luna first set foot inside. Given its proximity to the Scottish Border it had seen a great deal of conflict during its history, but none since the 18th century. However one of the more significant uses of the fort was as a prison.
"Well I'll say this for Azkaban, at least the chances of survival aren't as terrible." Said Harry. "Then again an island isn't going to have such a shortage of water is it?"
"But it's sea water." Said Luna "You can't drink sea water."
"Fair point." Agreed Harry. "Still at least people there don't have to suck moisture from the rocks."
"What about this Jacobite Rebellion?" said Luna. "Do you know of it?"
"A little." Said Harry. "We covered it a bit in Primary School. Basically the king fell out of favour in the 17th century and a cousin family came in to take the throne. But people in Ireland and Scotland didn't like the new monarch and tried to revive to old one. There were a number of rebellions and wars over the next hundred years, all of them put down. The last one was apparently really bloody."
"I had no idea the Muggle world could be so violent." Said Luna.
"In fairness, nothing like this has happened in Britain since then." Said Harry. "At least I don't think so, we've certainly had our fair share of wars with foreign countries and we haven't always acted respectufully, but there hasn't really been anything like a civil war since the last Jacobite rebellion."
"I suppose." Said Luna. "This conflict we are in, it is a civil war."
"Is it?" said Harry "I thought it was just a war against Voldemort."
Luna turned to look at him. "Voldemort was born here, he was educated here, he grew up here and so did his followers. They fight against the Ministry and those who oppose their opinions. This war can only be a civil war."
"I guess you're right… it's just…" Harry trailed off.
"You thought this was a war between good and evil?" said Luna.
"That is a rather simple way of looking at it." Admitted Luna.
"But there is more to it than that." Said Luna. "Much like these Jacobites, some join the Death Eaters because they are fighting for traditional values. Even though those values directly hurt others. Additionally men like Crouch used the situation in the First War to try and gain power, and people like Fudge and that woman that was extradited would have used the situation in this war to try and gain power."
"So there is good and evil on both sides?" said Harry.
"I would question the morals of anyone who willingly follows Voldemort. There are other better ways to uphold traditional values, ways that don't involve hurting others. There is no justification for discriminating against people because they were not born in certain families."
"So basically what you're trying to say is that the world is highly complicated?" Said Harry. "And people fight for their own reasons."
"Yes." Said Luna. "Death Eaters will largely be beyond reason. But other groups have supported Voldemort in the past. Werewolves, Giants, those who are discriminated against by the current Ministry. Madam Bones will have to find a way of ensuring these people that they should not side with Voldemort."
"We've not got it easy have we." Said Harry.
"No we don't." said Luna. "Which makes what you're trying to do more admirable. Death would have been an easy way out for you. The world's problems would never have gone away but you would have left them behind for others to deal with. You made the decision to come back and fight for those you care about and you recognised that in order for our world to overcome Voldemort, it would have to change."
"I guess." Said Harry.
"But you shouldn't have to do this alone, yet you are." Said Luna.
"I'm not." Argued Harry. "Madam Bones has done most of the hard work, leading the Ministry, wiping out corruption."
"But you are the one who is expected to take out Voldemort." Said Luna.
"That's kind of my fault, well he shares the blame for coming after me, but I made the decision to accept his challenges. Not to mention I stole this."
Harry fished the Yew Wand out of his pocket. "It's already proved useful, against the Dementors in Albania. But when I stop and consider all this wand has done, it was used to kill my own parents."
"Part of the problem, part of the solution." Said Luna. "So long as that wand is around, Voldemort believes he has a chance of getting it back. If you destroy it, he will be angry but he will get over the loss."
Harry nodded. "So I should use it and keep Voldemort off balance?"
"That decision is yours." Said Luna.
She stopped and looked around her. From the castle wall, where they had gotten to, they could see what little there was of the city and the green fields and housing settlements in the distance.
"This view is beautiful." Said Luna. "I cannot see this place being used as a fortress during a war or a battle."
"We live in a different world from those times." Said Harry. "That's why it's a museum now, no need for bricks, castle doors or cannons. Can you imagine what would happen if Hogwarts was used as a fortress in a battle?"
Luna looked sadly at Harry. "That would be terrible."
"Yeah." Said Harry. "During the last war, it was considered the only place that was safe. I don't know if it can stay out of this war though. If I does, I hope I at least get to see it again one more time before it happens."
"Do you not think you'll be coming back?" Asked Luna.
"I honestly don't know." Said Harry. "I need to learn more magic, and I can't legally do that in Cumberland. But so long as Dumbledore is in that castle, I don't think I'll be able to focus on what I must do. At least what I think I must do."
"It will be difficult to get support from your friends if they're at school and you're not." Said Luna.
"Difficult, but not impossible." Said Harry. "Dumbledore may be a powerful wizard but he will not control me. Not anymore."
"So what are you going to do now?" said Luna.
"I'm going to keep on tracing Voldemort's past. The secrets to how to defeat him, I don't know how, but they're there. I will find them and I will take him down." Said Harry.
"That is a dangerous path to take alone." Said Luna.
"With any luck, I will be able to get Ginny and Sirius out of Dumbledore's control… Remus to… Maybe even Ron and Hermione. In the meantime I've got Dobby and…"
Harry and Luna got distracted by a sudden screech.
"Hedwig?" Said Harry in pleasant surprise.
He had last sent his faithful companion out to deliver a letter to Elira. He held his arm out and the owl landed on it.
Harry removed the letter, once it was free from her grasp, she took off again.
"Oh, that's a shame." Said Luna. "Your owl is gorgeous. I would not have minded staying in her company a bit longer."
"We're the middle of a Muggle city, keeping her on my shoulder would draw a few odd stares." Said Harry.
"I guess." Said Luna.
"This is a letter from Elira. Want to read it with me?"
My Daddy grounded me the day after you left. He said that it was punishment for wandering into the forest.
Things have gotten back to normal now, kind of boring if you ask me. But a lot more English speaking people keep on showing up, and some of them seem to want to talk to me. I don't know why, but my Daddy has gotten very angry with some of them and refused to give them chocolate cake. One of them took a picture of me as they came out of the floo. But my Daddy hit his camera with a curse that made it shatter.
Daddy has said that he is going to start teaching me to talk like you. He calls it English. That will be great, then I can write you letters without my Daddy noticing. He's writing this the same way you write, in English he calls it.
Your owl is lovely. But she doesn't like chocolate cake for some reason, though she is quite fond of crisps though, and dried apricot.
My Daddy thought you might like this picture of us, he made more than one so I've got one too.
I wish you were still here and I miss you.
(Translated by Loran)
Enclosed in the envelope was the picture that Loran had taken of the two of them.
"I think that is what you are fighting for." Said Luna.
"Elira?" Said Harry. "She's on the other side of Europe from here, I don't think this war is going to affect her."
"But it has, even if only because you were there and the Dementors were after you. This war is going to have an effect on hundreds, thousands, maybe even millions of people. It has already affected many through the attacks. The Wireless this morning reported a group of Death Eaters tortured four Muggles in Shropshire with the Cruciatus Curse. They all survived, but two have become mentally insane and the other two are going to need extensive therapy before they can function without assistance. Each of those people have families, one of the permanently incapacitated has a baby son. Those who care for those victims are affected by this war, because without the war, they would never have had this hurt."
"This is what I'm fighting for." Said Harry. "So that others don't have to suffer."
"Yes." Said Luna. "But I do worry about you Harry Potter. You've been alone most of the time. You went to a foreign land, where no one speaks your language, all alone. Maybe it's time you got some company?"
Harry looked at Luna. "Are you offering to help?"
"I already have." Said Luna. "I told you. I would do what I can."
Harry felt his throat constrict. "Thanks Luna."
"It's ok Harry."
"You may not be able to do much though." Said Harry. "My sanctuary… only Ginny can let people into the house, and we're not in contact."
"Well if it helps I have a method to contact Ginny." Said Luna.
Harry's eyes widened so much, Luna made a comment.
"Be careful Harry, your eyes look like they're about to pop out. If that happens an Oculus Moblin might run by and snatch them."
Ginny, I have Harry here with me. Are you there?
For lack of anywhere else to go, Harry and Luna left the castle and found another café that was much quieter now that it wasn't lunch time.
Luna's method of communication was an enchanted sheet of parchment where written messages could be exchanged with another enchanted sheet, which Ginny owned.
A few minutes passed since Luna sent her message. Harry had just walked over from the counter with two hot chocolate mugs in one hand and a couple of plates on top of each other with a pair of German biscuits on top them when there was a reply.
What? Really? Where are you? What is he doing with you, he's supposed to be hiding?
A little unhelpfully Luna said "Awe she's worried about you. Maybe you shouldn't have kissed and left her at the end of term."
Harry blushed but picked up the quill and wrote:
Ginny its Harry. I'm fine I just wanted a little company. Can you tell Luna where my sanctuary is?
There was a few seconds gap.
Alright. The Sanctuary of Harry Potter is located at Potter Manor in Cumbria.
Luna read over the information several times before she tapped the quill on a black spot in the corner of the parchment causing the text to disappear. Harry then took the quill off of Luna and began writing.
Thanks Ginny. What's happening at your end? Dumbledore intercepted the package Sirius sent me and tried to pass himself off as Sirius using Polyjuice Potion or something. He tried telling me I have to go back to Privet Drive. I managed to catch him out though.
Ginny: Never mind all that. What the hell were you doing in Albania of all places? Some of the people here thought you had fled the country, Ron and Percy got into a fist fight over it, don't worry though they've made up. Percy has confirmed your back in the country, said you've been in contact with Madam Bones. I'd make a joke about how you haven't been in contact with me, but honestly I want to be a million miles from this hell hole.
Harry: Where are you? I was in Albania doing research on Voldemort, I told you I was investigating his past. He spent most of his exile out there. I've also found out he spent some time travelling their before the last war started. There is a ton of stuff to tell, but my hand will fall of long before I finish writing. What about you? Luna said you were doing a lot of cleaning or something?
Ginny: You'd better bloody explain, Mum's been an absolute nightmare, and this was before your Albanian adventure was revealed. We're in a location under Fidelius so I can't tell you where we are, but it's filled with Dumbledore's Anti-Death Eater resistance: Sirius, Professor Lupin, Professor Moody, my parents, Bill, Percy, several of the teachers including McGonagall. There are also a fair few people here you haven't met. Everyone who's Fred and George or Younger is kept out of the meetings so we don't really know many details about what they're up to, but we do know that Hagrid left with Madam Maxime at the end of term. We don't know where he's gone but Ron and Hermione think that they've gone to look for the giants. Oh yeah Hermione spent only a few days at home before she joined us here. She and Ron have been really glum, I think they feel really sorry for what's happened the three of you.
Harry: The Order of the Phoenix? Madam Bones told me it was likely that they would have reformed. I met one of their members at the Ministry last month. An Auror called Tonks.
Ginny: Oh you've met her have you? She's pretty cool, she's actually related to Sirius. His cousin's daughter or something. Oh I need to go, Mum's calling me… See you soon I hope.
After that, Luna joined Harry at his grandparents' house.
"No wonder you've been so lonely." Said Luna. "This is a rather big house to live in by yourself."
"I have Dobby and Hedwig." Said Harry. "Apparently Wizards like to live in big Manors, that's what the Goblins said anyway."
"Not alone though." Said Luna. "Most raise families."
Harry looked around. "This place is huge. I was thinking of making it my Headquarters, you know for the faction I'm supposed to build up. You and Ginny will get to meet here all the time with me."
Luna smiled. "That sounds nice."
"Do want to pick out a bedroom?" Said Harry. "There are literally tons of them, the entire First Floor is full of them."
The two of them went upstairs and Harry showed her the rooms. Most of them were either empty or in a complete mess, but Luna chose one and Dobby immediately set about clearing the room of dusty old furniture and sought to clean it before filling it with bedroom materials.
"Your Dad probably won't want you staying the night here, but feel free to come back any time you want." Said Harry.
"That's very kind of you Harry." Said Luna.
Luna ended up staying for tea, she was interested in the concept of a Chinese takeaway and even went with Harry to retrieve it. After dinner, while Dobby was taking care of the dishes, Harry showed her to the fireplace.
"Thank you Luna, I had a great day." Said Harry.
Luna pulled him into a nice warm hug. "You're welcome Harry. We can do this again if you want. On your next adventure, feel free to bring me along if you want some help."
Harry smiled "Thanks Luna. I keep in touch."
They broke their hug and Luna took some Floo Powder and left.
The following morning, Harry remembered Madam Bone's request that he contact her. So he stuck his head in the fireplace after breakfast.
"Mr Potter." Said Madam Bones. "I've been reviewing my new powers as Acting Minister and I would like to offer you a proposal."
"Oh?" Said Harry.
"Can you come into my office? I will open up the fireplace for travel for a few minutes."
Harry withdrew his head, grabbed his wand and his coat, then joined Madam Bones at the Ministry.
"Out of interest, are you planning on staying as Minister?" Said Harry. "Because if you could give your DMLE job to someone else it would cut down on your workload."
"I'd really rather not." Said Madam Bones, frowning at the personal question. "I believe I told you I'm apolitical. I'd rather just be DMLE head. But it looks like I'll have to be acting Minister for at least the duration of this war, or until I'm assassinated."
Harry's felt a bit off put by that last comment. "Aren't you overreacting?"
"No Mr Potter I'm not, I'm almost as unpopular as you are with certain people. The only difference is I have to come into the Ministry six days a week. Not to mention my house has been attacked five times since the start of this war."
"I'd recommend you talk to the Goblins." Said Harry. "They set up a Fidelius Charm for me, modified so the Secret Keeper can only give away the location with my consent."
Madam Bones looked interested at that development. "Who is your Secret Keeper?"
Harry raised an eyebrow.
"Never mind. I did not bring you here to discuss personal security, though I may take you up on your advice, it would be nice to know my sister in-law and my niece were safe under such wards. I do worry for them now. Have you any plans for today?"
"Just research." Said Harry. "But it's not progressing any further right now. Do you need my me for something important?"
"I need help from someone I can trust and with Dumbledore behaving the way he is and the extra enemies I've made since enacting the Corrupt Practices Act I'm a little short on those people. I have two out of three confidents and I need a third. I would like that to be you."
"Me?" Said Harry. "What do you want me to do?"
"I need to test you before I read you in. Would you agree to come with me?"
Harry was led through the DMLE offices by Madam Bones who kept on getting stopped by witches and wizards bringing her forms to sign.
"You know, even if you don't want to give up your job maybe you should get and assistant?" Said Harry.
"I have plenty of those." Snapped Bones.
"No I mean someone to run the DMLE while you're doing Minister stuff. You know like a co-head or vice head. Make it someone you can trust to run the department and that you can rely on in a tight spot. Also give them the authorization to make the decisions you have to make as head."
Bones looked thoughtful "You are full of ideas Mr Potter. You could become a great asset to the Ministry if you ever join."
"Well let's leave that for another time." Said Harry. "I just want to focus on getting through the Summer holidays right now, because let's face it I've created a bit of a mess."
"The mess was already there." Said Bones. "You're just helping me clear it up."
"Not everything is to do with the Ministry." Said Harry.
"Hmm. Well we're here."
Madam Bones showed Harry into a large empty room. The walls were reinforced with a really thick metal, however there were several sections with metal shutters that indicated storage.
"This is known as the assault room. It is used to test magic, particularly magic of a destructive nature. The reinforced walls are to keep us from making a mess when using really powerful magic. However the Patronus Charm is not that dangerous."
"The Patronus Charm?" Said Harry. "I know how to do one of those."
"I know. I want to test your competency at it." She said.
"You what…" Said Harry in confusion, as the door behind them opened. A small witch with greying hair dressed in a brown dress suite entered followed by a balding old man with greying hair.
"Ah Mafalda, Cuthbert. Good of you to join us. This is Harry Potter. Mr Potter, this is Mafalda Hopkirk, of the Improper Use of Magic Office and Cuthbert Green, a legal advisor with my Department. Mafalda do you have the necessary forms."
"Yes Mam." Said Hopkirk, handing over a clipboard with a few sheets of Parchment.
Madam Bones flicked through them for a few seconds.
"Good you brought both of them." Said the Acting Minister. "Mr Potter. This first form is an authorization for temporary exemption from the Reasonable Restriction for Underage Sorcery. If you sign it, it will grant you that exemption for 72 hours."
"You want me to sign it, so I can demonstrate my Patronus?" Said Harry.
Harry wasn't stupid. He took the form and looked it over. He read it over several times, despite the fact that the other three people were getting impatient. But he could see no noticeable flaw, not that he was that skilled in spotting such things, but he did check anyway before signing.
"Alright so do you just want me to cast it now?" Said Harry.
"In a moment." Said Madam Bones.
She waved her wand and one of the shutters opened up. Another wave and an apparatus was wheeled out on a trolley. The apparatus consisted of a sheet of parchment connect by a piece of string to four tripod stands each of which wielded what looked like a cross between a TV satellite dish and a squashed colander.
"This device takes readings of magic that is cast." Said Bones. Another wave of her wand and the four tripods floated out onto the floor with the dishes facing inwards as they took positions similar to the four corners of a square. "Mr Potter, if you could cast you Patronus and guide it between the antennae please?"
Harry, not sure what was going on, raised his wand and put thoughts on his day with Luna in yesterday in his mind. "Expecto Patronum!"
The Silver Stag leapt out of his wand and into the area surrounded by the apparatus. When the Patronus was in line with all four dishes, a quill began writing out information on the sheet of parchment. Madam Bones looked over the sheet and then nodded.
"That seems to be the right kind of Patronus." Said Madam Bones. "Would you now consent to a brief medical exam?"
Harry's eyes narrowed. "Alright, but it really better be brief."
Harry allowed the in office Healer-medic person to cast a series of medical diagnostic charms on him.
"He seems fit enough for what you're asking, he should be given the potions though." Said the Healer.
Harry was getting irritated, he was still not sure what Madam Bones was asking of him, but he got enough of this treatment from Madam Pomfrey at Hogwarts.
"Alright Mr Potter, if you will come with me back to my office I will explain what is going on?"
"Official Secrets (Ministry of Magic) Act 1990." Recited Harry. "Is there Magical equivalent for every piece of legislation passed in the Muggle World?"
"I wouldn't know, you'd need an expert in Muggle Studies to tell you that." Said Madam Bones, not recognising Harry's sense of humour. "If you sign that and agree to abide by the terms, I will tell you what this is all about."
Shrugging, Harry signed the document.
Madam Bones then lifted up the clipboard that Hopkirk gave her earlier. "You signed the first of the forms I gave you, meaning you have the right to perform magic for the next 72 hours without breaching the Underage Restriction laws."
Harry nodded. He wondered what the second form was.
"I am about to conduct a top secret operation that I want as few people knowing about as possible until it is too late to interfere. As far as most of my Hit Wizards are concerned, they are about to undergo a long term security operation. Which they are, but they are not yet aware of what the details of this operation are. I am about to remove the Dementors from Azkaban."
Harry felt his excitement build, removing the Dementors was definitely something he would whole-heartedly support.
"I see you approve." Said Bones. "In order to remove the Dementors from the prison all the way to the Starvation Ground in Russia, they will need to be forced from the prison all the way to Siberia."
Harry raised an eyebrow. "How on Earth are you going to do that?"
"How are we. I was hoping you'd provide assistance." Said Bones. She picked up the Prophet from last week that showed Harry guiding the two Dementors into Yormgen. "When I saw this, I realised that you might have a Tier 2 Corporeal Patronus."
"Patroni are measured in tiers?" Said Harry.
"Yes." Said Bones. "At the lowest end you have Patronus smoke or mist, then the next level up is a shield. Then there is a Tier 1 Patronus and finally a Tier 2. Bot Tiers 1 and 2 are corporeal, but inexplicably a handful of wizards have a Tier 2, which is far more powerful than all the others."
"Why?" Said Harry.
"I just said, it's inexplicable." Said Bones. "It takes a skilled Witch or Wizard to cast a Corporeal Patronus. There are more Tier 1s out their than Tier 2s which is rather a shame, we have no idea how a witch or wizard's Patronus becomes one or the other, those with Tier 2s have varying degrees of knowledge and skills."
"So you want me to help the Ministry move the Dementors?" said Harry "I'm all for it, but surely there are others better suited for this role than me?"
"There may be." Said Bones. "But as I said, between Dumbledore's meddling, Voldemort's desire to befriend the Dementors and Ministry personnel unhappy with me, I am short on people to trust."
"You barely know me though." Said Harry. "Are you sure you want to place this much trust in me, you have my every assurance to help you get this done but still…"
"I know enough about you Harry that I know you will do what is required." Said Madam Bones smiling. "Your actions since the graveyard have proven that you and I have the same desires when it comes to Voldemort, justice and Dementors. I do not believe that Dumbledore would do anything other than help with the Dementors, but because of his current behaviour I cannot trust him. Who knows if I do something like this without him even getting the slightest hint at what I'm up to, it might actually make him start seeing sense. But that is another matter. I do not expect you to do this for nothing."
"I don't want money for just getting rid of Dementors." Said Harry.
"You will receive a check from the Ministry, whether you choose to cash it is of course your decision. But I wasn't talking about money. This second form…" She indicated her clipboard. "Is like the first, only it is a permanent exclusion from the Degree for the Reasonable Restriction for Underage Sorcery. If you agree to help me get rid of the Dementors, then I shall sign it and grant you the permanent right to cast magic outside Hogwarts."
There was absolutely no question what his choice would be.
Harry spent the rest of the day at the Ministry going over strategies and briefings with Bones and other people in the department. Unfortunately, Dumbledore must have learnt from one of his informants that Harry was in the Ministry because he came into the offices.
"Harry." He called.
Thankfully for Harry his timing was a little poor. The meetings had finished and it was time to go home for a rest.
In a matter of seconds, the House-Elf materialized and then took Harry back to his Sanctuary.
Time was of the essence, Voldemort would soon seam a very appealing person to the Dementors, if he wasn't already, so the operation was scheduled to begin first thing in the morning. Harry was taking his brand new Nimbus 2000, because he didn't want to risk the Firebolt on such a long journey. In any case, the brooms' speed would not exceed100 MPH because any faster would make coordinating the Dementors out of Azkaban very risky.
Madam Bones herself was taking part in this operation. In order to do this, six Tier 2 Patroni were needed to surround the Dementors. The wizards at the Starvation Ground were providing 2 of them, Madam Bones herself was one, Harry was another and two others, one a Gringotts Curse-Breaker Bones knew from her schooldays and one a senior Auror with Twenty Years' experience. There would also be 100 other witches and wizards, including 30 from Siberia, involved in the relocation with all of them able to cast Tier 1 Patroni. The other 70 were handpicked by Amelia herself. They mainly consisted of Hit Wizards and Law Officers, but there were also a few Aurors and personnel from the Department for Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures.
Harry went with Dobby, who was flying alongside him during this mission, to the DMLE Offices where he met up with the group of Law Officers he'd been 'put in charge of'. In reality Madam Bones had hand-selected her most trusted personnel and told them to look after him and make sure there were no attempts to harm, kill and/or kidnap him.
The task that they had to perform was not easy. Even if the group moved at 100 MPH constantly, it was likely they were not going to be able to reach Siberia before evening the following day. The Law Officers provided him with a pair of flasks explaining that one contained a food-replacement drink and one contained a stimulus potion. The latter potion was something Harry was familiar with, the Albanians had fed it to him whilst he was guarding those Dementors.
"Alright everyone." Called Madam Bones. "You've now all been briefed. Keep calm and keep your thoughts happy. The Changing of the Guard will begin in five minutes. So I suggest we get going. Keep with your navigators and don't break formation."
Harry kept on wondering if the Muggle-Repelling charms on his broom were really there. He hoped so, otherwise the Royal Air Force would probably send something to find out what the hell a hundred plus brooms were doing in the skies above London. There was a passage that led from the DMLE to the surface just outside London that was dedicated for brooms to enter and re-enter the Law Enforcement facilities at the Ministry.
So now a large aerial taskforce was headed for the North Sea.
Harry followed his section of the taskforce down to mere meters above sea level. They had taken their position, which was about two miles to the North of the prison and were waiting for the signal before moving in.
But even at this distance he could see the huge triangular shaped prison was shrouded in fog and he could make out little dots that were the Dementors. Britain had over a thousand of them, one of the largest collections in the world. An operation this size had never been undertaken before, it was normal policy for the Dementor Guards to send one wizard for every Dementor that had to be escorted. But that simply wasn't an option. They had spared every wand they could without compromising the security in Siberia or the war effort in Britain. Though in all honesty if these wands were gone longer than two days then it was likely the balance of power would move in Voldemort's favour.
"They are sending the signal, aren't they?" Asked one Law Officer nervously.
"I would assume so." Said Harry. "But it's not time yet."
"How do you know?" Challenged the Officer.
Harry held up his watch, indicating there were a few minutes yet and those around him laughed at the Officer.
"Smart Ass." He grumbled.
"Heads up!" Said Harry.
The others looked ahead. There were flashes of light in the prison as Dementors began pouring out of the access points. There were also Patronus shockwaves emanating from the building.
Harry knew that must mean, the veteran Auror was inside with the security team that was taking over control of the prison.
"Man I hope they don't come this way." Said One Officer.
"They won't." Said Harry "Dementors are obsessed with their food source, and where do you keep you food?"
"At home?" Said the officer.
Harry turned to him, nodded and then focused back on the prison.
"Is anyone else bothered that a fifteen-year-old is being the source of calm and wisdom here?" Said someone.
"Let's just see how bothered you are later on." Said Harry. He was under no illusions how important he was to the success of this operation, or how much those with him depended upon his Patronus.
"That's the signal." Said a black haired officer. Harry was keeping an eye on him because he was their navigator and had responsibility guiding him and the others to the Starvation Ground.
The signal in question was a blue flash at the top of the prison followed by a green flash several miles above.
"Let's go." Said Harry.
It was hard to believe that he was leading a group of about ten adults, but his role in this was dependent upon its success.
Harry shot in broom forward at 100 miles an hour. It was a bit odd not pushing it faster than that, given his training as a Seeker, but he had to make sure the others kept up.
"Three thousand meters." Called the navigator.
Harry and the others kept on going.
Closer and closer they got, Harry could make out the Dementors trying and failing to re-enter the prison. The Auror's Patronus was keeping them back.
"Two Thousand!" Called the Navigator.
Harry could see the Eastern and Western groups approaching from their positions. Everyone was more or less the distance they needed to be, they would all get to their next positions at about the same time.
The other officers formed up alongside Harry but slightly behind him. They all had their wands out, ready to act early if needed.
Harry took his own wand out, then allowed his happiest memories to flow through him. Quidditch victories, House cup celebrations, when he got Hedwig for the first time, when he learned he was a wizard, he also thought of his friends – both new, old and Elira. He used them all. There was no doubt that he was ready.
Harry slowed his broom right down and incanted "Expecto Patronum!"
He wasn't the only one to roar the incantation. All around him the taskforce screamed the words.
Prongs the silver stag was joined in his spearhead by a puffin on his left and guinea pig on his right. There were all sorts of animals ready to meet the Dementors. In the distance Harry recognised Amelia's Patronus, a grizzly bear, from the West group and he also recognised the Curse-Breaker's, a Hippogriff of all things, from the East group.
The Patronus in the prison forced the Dementors out and the Patroni outside forced them back into that direction. But there was a twist. The outdoor Patroni were at sea level. So the Dementors were able to escape upwards… right into the trap.
High above in the sky above the prison was one of the specialists sent from Russia. Neither of the specialists were actually Russian, they were in fact both Kenyan by nationality. One was in charge of the South group and the other was in charge of the top. The Patroni at sea level forced the soul-sucking wraiths into the sky above the prison. Once they'd all reached a certain height, the specialist high in the sky activated his Patronus. Very quickly the creatures became trapped by Patroni on all sides. Harry, one of the specialist from Russia, Madam Bones and her Curse-Breaker friend held them hemmed in at the sides, the other specialist held them from the top and the Auror, who had now taken off on his own broom, held them from the bottom. The rest of the taskforce flew in and joined the efforts from within Azkaban and from their positions further out to sea.
"Right Potter." Said the Navigator. "Follow me and keep you Patronus level with everyone. Smashing job so far."
The taskforce then all began using their Patroni to force the Dementors on a journey to Russia.
Twelve hours into the flight, Harry was beginning to miss dry land and his bed back in Cumberland. He had taken several swigs of his food replacement drink. Needless to say it was disgusting. On the scale of things it was worse than drinking Skele-Gro, but not quite as bad as drinking Goyle-based Polyjuice Potion. Because they were flying east, it had of course gotten dark quite quickly. But one of the few thought of benefits of a Patronus Charm was that the Patroni themselves were essentially a source of light that allowed the taskforce the ability to see both their captives and their comrades.
"Better give yourself a pick-me-up now Potter." Called the Navigator. "Don't want your Patronus failing on us now, we're just above Finland, don't want to let these things loose on the sods down there."
Harry took a swig of his stimulus potion. For the next half-an-hour he imagined all the delicious foods he could ask Dobby to make for him when he got back. Madam Bones had explained to him if his Patronus failed, the others would be able to hold the Dementors back for a time. But the act of defending oneself against Dementors was entirely different to forcibly marching them to their deaths, which was the equivalent of what they were doing. Dementors did not take to offensive attacks very well at all. If Harry's Patronus failed, then the others would be able to hold them off the doubtlessly vicious attacks for a time, but not very long.
Harry was now grateful for the guard duty Dosti and Mala had forced upon him at the Militia Headquarters. Simply the knowledge that he could hold a Patronus that long made him feel much better.
Traveling above Russia was the longest stretch of the journey. From limited geography lessons in primary school, Harry didn't think of Russia far beyond the section of it near Europe. It was only now dawning on him how vast the country was, particularly Siberia. Out of all the places in Russia he could name the capital, Moscow, and St Petersburg and of course he knew that Siberia was the Asian part, but he could not name any city of town in that part of the country.
On reflection, Harry realised how little of the world he knew. Going to Albania had been one great experience for him, but it was now only dawning on him how small his country was and how much of the world there was to see. Maybe one day, when Voldemort was no more, he would be able to travel abroad and see the world some more.
After 36 hours in the air, there was not a single witch or wizard who wasn't in some way fed up. But it was finally over. In Britain it was now eleven at night, but because they'd been flying so far to the east, the morning sun was now rising.
"Up ahead." Called the Navigator.
Harry glanced into the distance and saw about fifty figures on broomsticks. He also recognised the uniforms from the specialists he'd travelled with and the one's he'd met in Yormgen.
The taskforce stopped mid-air before the specialists and waited for instructions. Through some coordination, a passage was opened up between the boundary of the Starvation Ground and the taskforce.
The site of the Starvation Ground was a site to behold.
Thousands, maybe tens of thousands of Dementors were trapped in the centre, besieged by hundreds of silver lights in the distance. Those lights were Patroni, many of them too small to determine. Harry could make out birds, fish, mammals, reptiles, and the odd magical creature. The silver guardians besieged the Dementors in a sort of dome. Where they were kept from ever escaping.
"Who be the Tier 2?" Asked a specialist who'd flown over to Harry's group.
"Me!" Called out Harry.
The man, who was of Asian origin, looked Harry over in surprise. But seeing the stag doing its part he seemed to withhold his judgement on Harry's age.
"We're opening up a gap in the Boundary. On my signal, force them inside. You understand?"
"Good. I am so glad a nation like Britain is making this decision. With luck, more will take from your examples." Said the man.
Harry nodded awkwardly, he had no idea what Britain was like in comparison to every other magical nation.
He was given the signal and he Prongs send a series of shockwaves that forced dozens of Dementors into the Starvation Ground at a time. When they had finished, there was no doubt that the concentration of black clocked wraiths was much, much denser.
Harry and Madam Bones, as well as several other officials got the first Port-Key back to Britain.
"Alright Mr Potter we're all tired and want to call it a day. So here." Said Madam Bones handing over a certificate. "You will be stricken from the trace records first thing in the morning."
"Cheers." Thanked Harry rather bluntly, he was rather tired.
"Ah Scrimgeour." Said Madam Bones, seeing her Head Auror coming over. "Anything important I should know about?"
"Yes Mam." Said Scrimgeour.
"Anything that can't wait until morning?"
Harry turned away from the amusing sign of the older man looking thoroughly intimidated by the acting Minister. Bones was right, it was time to call it a day. He summoned Dobby to take him home and was in bed asleep within 2 minutes of arriving back.
The visit to Carlisle Castle is based partially on my visit last year. I don't know how much non-Scottish people know about the Jacobites, but they are an important part of our history and were featured in the museum in the castle.
The apparatus is a more sophisticated version of an item I conceived in my story: My Brother which is called an "Arithmatic Spell Analyser" but it's not as important to this story so I've not gone into great detail.
Hope you enjoyed the update, sorry it took so long but I've been busy as I say.