January 5 – January 28, 1998

Ginny smiled as she arrived in the kitchen of the flat in Cambridge. After taking their NEWTs and training hard for two weeks, they were taking the day off. Dobby had volunteered to help in setting up some of the safe houses, leaving them on their own. Harry and Sirius were laughing at the stove as they prepared a late breakfast. She loved watching the relationship between the two of them. Sirius was so good for Harry, but Harry was also very good for Sirius.

A knock on the door made her jump slightly, but she hurried over to open the door after casting the appropriate security spells. She smiled when she saw Bill on the doorstep.

Letting him in, she greeted him with a hug which he returned in full measure.

"Where's Fleur?" she asked.

Bill made a face. "She had to go into work this morning. I was given half the day off to accompany Ron and Hermione to the train. I'm supposed to be there this afternoon."

"That's too bad," Ginny said as they arrived in the kitchen.

"The Hogwarts Express left without incident," Bill reported. "Both Tonks and Remus are riding the train to ensure nothing untoward happens."

"Did they set up the charms for detecting the Dark Mark?" Sirius asked as he brought a platter of sausage to the table.

"Yes, Kingsley was overseeing the Aurors. There were also some International Aurors to augment the British Aurors. I spoke to my father-in-law last night. He told me the French Ministry has pledged its support."

"Did they catch anyone?" Harry asked.

Bill nodded. "There were two parents discovered with the Dark Mark, but it seemed to me that a higher number of students than usual arrived on the platform without parents."

"Damn, they must have realized what was going on," Sirius commented.

"It's good that we are limiting the places they can go," Bill said. "Emma and her partner, Jack Whicher, were helping the Muggle-born students. They brought several students to the train station themselves. Mr and Mrs Granger were talking to the other Muggle parents – making sure they understood the dangers and that they have a safe place to go. Emma was amazed at platform nine and three-quarters. She said she was shocked at the blindness of her fellow Muggles. I don't think she quite believed me at first that you had to walk through a wall."

Harry laughed as he brought eggs and toast over to the table. "I don't blame her. If I hadn't seen the twins go through the wall my first year, I don't know if I'd have believed it either."

"Emma said they will be monitoring the train all day," Bill added. "Kingsley is on alert as well. He has some camouflaged Aurors flying over the train to monitor for any attacks. Minerva will let us know when the students arrive."

With a wave of her wand, Ginny Summoned the carafe of pumpkin juice while Sirius brought over a pot of tea. For several long minutes, conversation fell off as everyone ate breakfast.

After eating his first helping of eggs, Bill turned to his sister and brother-in-law. "Once again Minerva has pressed me into service as an owl."

Ginny squealed as he withdrew two letters from his cloak. With a shaking hand, she took the envelope with her name on it while Harry took his. He looked over at her and grinned. "On three?"

She nodded and they counted down. "One, two, three!"

Tearing open her envelope, she scanned the letter. After a moment, she took a deep breath and smiled. Looking over at Harry, he had a similar pleased expression on his face.

Reaching out, they exchanged letters while Bill and Sirius read over their shoulders.

Nastily Exhausting Wizarding Test Results

Pass Grades:

Outstanding (O)

Exceeds Expectations (E)

Acceptable (A)

Fail Grades:

Poor (P)

Dreadful (D)

Troll (T)

Harry James Potter has achieved:

Transfiguration O

Ancient Runes A

Charms O

Potions E

Defence Against the Dark Arts O

Muggle Studies O

History of Magic O

"Well done, kiddo!" Sirius exclaimed as he read Harry's results over Ginny's shoulder. He peered over Harry's shoulder to see Ginny's results.

Ginevra Molly Potter has achieved:

Transfiguration O

Ancient Runes O

Charms O

Potions E

Defence Against the Dark Arts O

Muggle Studies O

History of Magic O

"That is excellent," Bill said as he leaned down and kissed his sister on the cheek. "I always knew you were brilliant, but this is…to do so well under so much pressure. I am so proud of you!"

Blushing, she hugged her brother and father-in-law before being pulled into an embrace by her husband. Aware of the others around them, Ginny kept the kiss short, but sweet.

"Bill is right," Harry said proudly. "You are brilliant!"

Kissing him again, she laughed. "You didn't so badly yourself. An A on your Ancient Runes' NEWT after studying them for only a year?"

Sirius agreed. "I think you both did well!"

Standing up, Harry swung Ginny around before pulling her into an embrace. "I can't believe we are finished with school!"

Laughing at the pair of them, Sirius shook his head. "I asked Minerva to make sure the results are entered at the Ministry as soon as possible."

"Why?" Ginny asked.

"Several reasons actually, not only will everyone know you are a fully qualified witch and wizard, but they won't imagine you have any reason to be near Hogwarts. Hopefully, that will buy the school and the students a bit of safety," he explained. "It will also take away any claim the Ministry might have on you."

"I have to head off to work, but you have fun," Bill said.

Hugging his sister and Harry goodbye, Bill Apparated away. While Harry and Ginny made short work of the breakfast dishes they talked about what they wanted to do for the day.

Glancing out at the overcast day, Harry said, "I guess it's not a good day for flying."

She agreed. "It's too cold outside."

He nodded. "I always hated when Oliver would make us practice for hours in the cold."

"I was thinking of visiting Warwick Castle," Ginny said.

Harry raised an eyebrow. "Warwick Castle?"

She nodded. He shrugged. "Sure, that sounds like fun."

Looking over his shoulder, he called out, "Dad, do you want to come to Warwick Castle with us?"

Harry looked around curiously as they walked under the raised barbican at the northern gate into the central courtyard of the castle. Warwick Castle was quite different than Hogwarts. While the two castles were built in the tenth century they were built for very different purposes. Hogwarts was built as a school while Warwick was built for defence.

Warwick Castle had ramparts built around a central courtyard with the rooms along the eastern wall overlooking the River Avon. There were towers at each of the corners and two towers at the two entrances to the courtyard. Located south of the castle itself was a castle mound said to be part of the original Saxon fortification on the site used by Ethelfleda, daughter of Alfred the Great.

The three of them stopped in front of a man dressed as a medieval noble who was talking about the history of the castle. It was originally built as a motte and bailey type of castle which was basically a keep, or fortified tower, built on a mound enclosed in a courtyard. During the Middle Ages the original castle was replaced with thick stone walls or curtain walls topped a low wall or parapet to protect those defending the castle. Placed at regular intervals along the walkway were machicolations or openings through which stones could be dropped or boiling liquids could be poured onto attackers who'd managed to breach the walls. The noble warned them of the number of stairs that they would need to climb to reach the many towers.

It was a cool, overcast day and the castle was not very crowded, but there were still families with young children, history buffs, and those looking for an entertaining day. After listening to the history of the castle, they stopped at the board that showed the events for the day, Harry said, "There is a Birds of Prey show in about fifteen minutes, that could be fun."

"I'd like to see the sword fighting," Sirius added as he studied the list.

The three of them followed the crowd and exited the western gate between the Bear and Clarence Gates so they could walk along the exterior walls and see the shows, both of which were outside the walls.

They joined the crowd standing around a roped off area of grass. Ginny managed to get a spot towards the front of the crowd so she could see better. Several of the children were sitting on the ground, but she didn't want to sit on the cold, wet ground.

The Falconer came out dressed in traditional garb with the addition of a microphone and a bag of meat to entice the birds to come closer. Inside the enclosure was a large log as well as several posts for the birds to land. As they watched the show, Harry stood behind her with his arms wrapped around her.

A vulture flew overhead causing the audience to gasp. The Falconer showed off the range and abilities of first the vulture, an eagle owl, and lastly a peregrine falcon. The birds would fly up to the tops of the towers and swoop down to the enclosure to be rewarded with meat.

"It would be fun to be a falcon," Harry murmured. "The way they dive looks like fun."

Ginny nodded in agreement. "They go so fast. It would be brilliant to be able to fly without a broom."

Sirius laughed at the two of them. "I think you're both a little nuts. I'm perfectly happy flying on a broom like a normal person."

"That's just because you can't fly as well as we can," Harry said loftily before cracking up in laughter.

Sirius turned away, ignoring him, but Harry could see him fighting a smile. Once the bird show was over, the three of them kept walking. There was an archery range that was set up for children. Men dressed as archers were helping the children hit the targets. Harry noticed a ghostly archer watching the children wistfully. When he saw Harry watching, he doffed his hat and nodded. Harry nodded in return.

"I want to look at the gardens," Ginny said.

The three followed the signs that led to the elaborate, formal gardens. Another living historian, this one dressed as an undergardener from the 1750s, told them that there were over sixty-four acres of landscaped gardens.

"I worked under the greatest landscaper in Britain," the undergardener told them. "Capability Brown was brilliant. He designed the most elaborate landscapes. This was one of his first commissions and he won great acclaim and went onto a brilliant career."

"Neville would love this place," Harry said quietly.

Ginny nodded. "He would. This is beautiful."

Leaving the undergardener behind, they walked to a large fountain set in front of a conservatory. There was a topiary garden with large peacock shaped bushes and a collection of over twenty peacocks and peahens roamed the gardens.

"Doesn't Malfoy keep peacocks?" Ginny asked as she watched one of the peacocks spread its tail.

Sirius nodded. "He does. I wonder if he has any connection to this castle."

"Aren't they supposed to be super purebloods?" Harry asked.

Sirius laughed. "They are supposed to be, but honestly I don't know that there are any actual purebloods anymore. As long as they can go back ten or more generations without a Muggle or Muggle-born, they can claim to be pureblood. Some, like my family didn't branch out far enough – my parents were first cousins, but the Malfoys made sure their spouses aren't too closely related. I know the Malfoys came across with William the Conqueror and we heard earlier that William I rewarded one of his nobles with this castle. It wouldn't be a huge stretch to think there may be a connection. At the very least they must have known each other."

They strolled back up to the keep and decided to explore. The rooms had been immaculately restored. The Great Hall was filled with suits of armour as well as a diverse collection of weapons from various time periods. At one end of the room, there were two large knights in armour atop armoured horses.

"Look," Ginny said. She pointed to a collection of weapons arranged on the wall. In the centre was a collection of wands. "I'll bet most people can't see them."

Light-hearted giggling made her turn. Two little girls in long grey plain gowns with white aprons were running around the Great Hall dashing in between the visitors. None of the other visitors noticed the little ghosts, but they waved at Ginny before dashing outside.

Harry liked the red drawing room best. It had bright red lacquered panelling on all four walls. There was also a private chapel, a cedar drawing room, a green drawing room, as well as a library. The upper floors contained bedrooms and another sitting rooms. The castle was run by Tussaud's Group, the company that ran Madam Tussauds, the famous wax museum, so there were wax figures placed throughout the exhibit. There was Henry VIII with his wives, a young Winston Churchill, the future King Edward VIII, as well as maids, workmen, and other castle inhabitants. The wax figures showed how the castle was used in different time periods.

After touring the rooms, they walked out onto the ramparts. They climbed the many steps to the towers. Starting with the Watergate tower, they walked along to the castle mound.

"What a view!" Ginny exclaimed as they looked over the walls to the Avon River. There was an island where jousting tournaments were sometimes held that they could see clearly from the top of the walls.

They circumnavigated the walls, climbing to the tops of Clarence and Bear towers. The Clarence Tower was named after the Duke of Clarence, brother of Richard III whilst it was believed the Bear Tower was so named because it was used to house bears for entertainment. Guy's Tower is a twelve-sided, five-storey tower. There was a hexagonal guard room on the top floor. This was the tower where Harry and Ginny had spent the night after escaping Malfoy Manor.

When they entered the guard room, Ginny broke out in a smile. Sir Greville, the first Baron Brooke, was standing at the edge of the room. "Sir Greville."

"Madam, it is lovely to see you again," the ghost said as he bent over her hand.

"Thank you, my Lord Greville, for all of your assistance to my wife when we were last here," Harry said sincerely.

"Mr Potter, it is an honour to meet you formally," the ghost said with a courtly bow.

"And you," Harry said. Gesturing to his father, he said, "Sir Greville, please allow me to introduce my father, Sirius Black."

Sirius bowed slightly. "My Lord, it is a pleasure to meet you. I would like to extend my thanks for caring for both Harry and Ginny when they were in need. I don't know what would have happened without your kindness."

"Of course, it was an honour to assist them," Sir Greville replied. "Would you care to join me?"

They followed the ghost through a shimmering wall into a tower not seen by the Muggles. The bypassed the room where Harry and Ginny had spent the night and continued down to a small sitting room.

Lady Anne Lawrence drifted in soon after they arrived. Ginny smiled, "Lady Anne, thank you for speaking to Lady Helena on our behalf."

"I am glad I could be of assistance," she murmured.

Harry smiled. "I remember your voice from that night, my Lady. My thanks for all of your assistance."

She nodded in acknowledgment and settled into a chair.

Sirius looked over at Sir Greville. "I was wondering if you know of any connection between this house and the Malfoy family."

"Malfoys?" the courtly ghost thought it over. "I believe I have heard that name."

Taking his leave, he slid through the castle walls. Several minutes later he returned with pleasant looking woman who appeared to be from an even earlier time than the Baron. She was wearing an embroidered long dress with a short train. Her brown hair was covered with a blue and white snood.

"Mr Black. Mr and Mrs Potter, may I present Lady Lettice Malfoy née de Beauchamp. Lady Malfoy is the youngest daughter of Thomas de Beauchamp the eleventh Earl of Warwick and the wife of Viscount Garrick Malfoy. Lady Malfoy is my great aunt – with several other greats. She was born here at Warwick in the mid-thirteen hundreds."

Harry and Sirius rose automatically to nod to her. Ginny stood and gave a courteous nod. Lady Malfoy gave them a shy smile and a curtsey. She greeted them, but unfortunately none of them could understand her. Sir Greville spoke up, "Lady Malfoy speaks French – Norman French at that."

With a wave of his wand, Sirius cast a translation spell. "Lady Malfoy, thank you for agreeing to see us."

"I don't know that I can help you," she said sadly as she sat down. "My descendants have become…evil. I've watched them as they have embraced Dark magic. I haven't been to our home in centuries. I prefer to visit my childhood home or Shouldham Priory, the convent where two of my sisters lived as nuns. My family supported the priory for many years and many women in my family ended up there."

Sirius nodded in understanding. "My Lady, are you aware what is going on in the wizarding world?"

"I know of Mr Potter's importance and I know of the evil in our world," she replied.

"My Lady, we believe that Lord Voldemort is staying at Malfoy Manor," Harry said.

She visibly recoiled at the thought of such evil in her family's home. "I did not realize they had fallen so far."

"My Lady, have you been in the current manor?" Ginny asked.

"Aye, it is built on the spot of our family keep," she explained. "The current house was built…I am not certain, but I believe in the seventeenth century. Some portions of the walls and even the manor house date back to my time, but not much."

Sirius' face fell. "I was hoping you might know about any defences."

Lady Malfoy looked over the group. "I would be willing to go speak to one of my descendants. My great, great-granddaughter, Kezia, never married and she still visits the house. Not that those living there now have much to do with her, but she will be able to tell me of any updated defences."

Harry's face lit up. "That would be brilliant! We would very much appreciate it."

Nodding at them all, Lady Malfoy left the room. Ginny beamed at Sir Greville. "Thank you again, Sir Greville."

"I am happy to help, my Lady."

As the Potters and Sirius stood to leave the tower, the ghost of a young teen from centuries past flew into the room. "Red Caps! Red Caps!"

"Where?" Sirius demanded with his wand drawn.

"The base of the Caesar Tower," the ghost said. "There not be any other Muggles around."

The three Apparated to the spot indicated by the ghost. There were four Red Caps circling two girls of about ten or eleven who were sobbing and holding hands. One of the girls was bleeding from long scratches on her arm.

Sirius and Ginny immediately started casting spells at the Red Caps whilst Harry protected the girls. It didn't take long to subdue the Red Caps who usually only attacked lone Muggles.

"What was that?" one of the girls wailed.

"It was a gnome," Ginny said soothingly.

Discretely, Sirius sent a Patronus to Kingsley explaining the situation. Less than five minutes later, Kingsley and Williamson were both there. The Red Caps were removed and the girls were healed and their memories modified. They now remembered a statue falling on them and they were quickly reunited with their family.

Once the girls were taken away, Sirius looked at Kingsley. "Any word about the train?"

"All is well," he said as he looked at his watch. "It should be arriving in about an hour or so. Good job with the Red Caps. They are becoming more and more bold. There was an attack at the Tower of London just before Christmas."

As the sun was already starting to set, the three of them headed back to Sirius' Lake District home. Dobby was waiting for them with a roasted chicken dinner.

Justin and Jemima looked up as Hermione hurried into the classroom in which they were working. Her bushy hair was flying all over the place as she set the books she was carrying down on the table.

"I was talking to Professor Babbling," Hermione said. "Don't worry, I told her I was looking into different uses of warding runes throughout history. She suggested this book."

It was a slim volume simply called 'Runes for Warding.' Justin leaned over and looked at it. "I think I saw this, but I dismissed it as too simple."

Hermione nodded. "I looked at the beginning. It doesn't have a table of contents so I gave it up as not useful, but I had another look and I think it might help."

"I looked into the records for Malfoy Manor," Jemima said. At the expression on Hermione's face, the Ministry Runes expert reassured her. "I also pulled ten other historical homes records. Of course they don't document everything that was done, but I believe it will help us counteract the combination rune. Of the eleven houses I pulled, six of them used that combination of Isa, the blocking rune and Algiz, the more traditional protection rune. I wondered why they used that combination and I believe it is because they were worried about the Muggles."

"Muggles? Why would they be worried about Muggles?" Justin asked.

"If I am not mistaken, this was in the mid-seventeenth century, which is when this country was involved in a civil war," Jemima explained.

Both Justin and Hermione nodded. "Yes," Hermione said. "There were three civil wars between 1642-1651. Oliver Cromwell led a group of Parliamentarians against the supporters of King Charles I."

"There was no Ministry of Magic at that point in time either," Jemima reminded them. "Most wizarding families were involved in the Muggles around them, the International Statute of Wizarding Secrecy had not yet been passed. Some of the Dark wizarding families took advantage of the fighting and attacked wizarding homes, knowing the wizard was not at home. The combination attempted to protect the home from attack and block an attack. The use of a ward stone to attack intruders when the defences were breached was very common. Unfortunately, I haven't discovered how to bypass it yet, but I am not worried. We will find it."

Several hours later, Hermione climbed back into the common room. Ron was next to her almost immediately. "How did it go?"

"We are making progress," she said. "The subject of house warding is fascinating."

As they walked over to the fireplace, Ron listened as she told him exactly what was so fascinating about it. After several long minutes, she came to a stop. Looking up at him, she blushed. "You probably weren't very interested in all of that."

He shrugged. "I don't understand all of it. That's okay, I'm sure you're not interested in all of the Quidditch talk you've heard over the years."

"Did you and Neville have a chance to practice?"

"Yes, Professor Green announced he was starting a duelling club," Ron explained referring to the Defence Against the Dark Arts professor. "He's set up a room near his classroom. It's all set up kind of like Harry would have the Room of Requirement. There are books on defence, cushioned walls and floors, and several duelling rings."

Neville joined them as they sat down in front of the fireplace. "Professor Flitwick has volunteered to do some one-on-one training. Ron and I have already signed up for slots. We signed you up in case you wanted training as well."

"Of course!" Hermione said. "Professor Flitwick was a duelling champion. It would be an honour to learn from him."

"Hannah has been working with Madam Pomfrey," Neville said blushing slightly. "They have started a 'club' interested in the healing."

Ron sighed. "I wish we didn't have to sneak around and make up reasons for meeting together."

"We don't want anyone reporting back to You-Know-Who what we are doing," Hermione said severely.

Rolling his eyes, Ron said, "I understand that, Hermione. I was just saying I wish we didn't have to sneak around. It feels like everything is coming to a head soon. I wish we could just concentrate on what we need to do to help defeat You-Know-Who and deal with school later."

"Our schooling is still very important," Hermione said.

"Yes, but it could wait until after the war," Ron replied.

Huffing, Hermione stood up and walked over to her favourite table. "I have revising to do. You two may not care how well you do on your NEWTs, but I do."

Biting back an angry response, Ron watched as she sat down and started pulling books out of her bag. He looked over at Neville who had a shocked look on his face.

"Where did that come from?" Neville asked.

"I don't know," Ron sighed. "I never seem to say the right thing around her."

Neville shook his head. "I'm with you, mate. I want this over with."

"They are trying to discover something about warding. I heard Granger talking about house warding with the other Mudblood, Finch-Fletchley. They claim they are in a club, but it is only the two of them and a blood-traitor from the Ministry. I believe they are working on something for the Order of the Phoenix."

Snape watched proudly as one of his unmarked assets told the Dark Lord about the activities at Hogwarts. He'd spent three years cultivating this asset and now his hard work was paying off.

"Something must have happened over the holidays. Both the students and the staff are more hopeful, morale is very high. There seem to be more clubs than usual, and when I've had students sympathetic to us inquire, they are invited to join so I am unsure of what to think. Originally, I thought the clubs were a cover of some kind, but perhaps not. I've instructed one of the Slytherin girls to attempt to infiltrate one of the clubs. Flitwick is hosting a dueling club which is open to anyone."

"Any other news? Any sign of Potter?"

"No, my Lord," the spy said regretfully. "I believe several people have seen him, but they aren't talking."

"Severus, do you have any insight into this project?"

"The most logical assumption would be they wish to attack one of our bases of operation," Severus said.

Malfoy smirked. "I believe they are in for a major surprise if they attempt to attack this house."

"They better be."

Malfoy dropped his gaze. "Of course, my Lord."

After the meeting ended, Malfoy pulled Nott and Snape into his study. Together the three of them reviewed the defences of the manor and made plans to strengthen them in places.

Harry and Ginny watched the enchanted model of Malfoy Manor as Bill attempted to disarm the ward stone once again. He held his breath and watched as the attackers once again were vaporized.


Bill stood up and glared at the model. "I tried to modifications that the Ancient Runes group sent, but it doesn't make much of a difference."

"I have something that might help."

Sirius was standing in the doorway. Entering the room, he held out a sheet of parchment. "I was visited by Lady Kezia Malfoy. She's been visiting Malfoy Manor for the past few days and she overheard a strategy meeting between Malfoy, Nott, and Snape. They reviewed the defences and the changes they planned to make."

Bill took the proffered parchment and read over the list of defences. He frowned slightly. "Most of these we knew about, but the ward stone still seems to be the stopping point. As soon as the wards come down, it will obliterate anyone on the grounds without permission from Malfoy. Not to mention the fact that we can't get past the front gate."

"I've been thinking," Harry said. "We've been using some Muggle technology to detect magic, I wonder if it could be used to defeat some magic."

"How do you mean?" Bill asked curiously.

"Remember when you were talking about removing Mrs Black's portrait from Grimmauld Place? Someone joked about removing the wall? What if we did that to the ward stone? It might work on the gates for that matter."

"What do you have in mind?" Sirius asked.

"When I was at the gym the other night, there was a documentary on the telly about tanks and other armoured vehicles. What if we could use a tank to blow up the ward stone? Or even take out the gate? It doesn't sound like they've prepared for that. They've prepared for just about every imaginable magical attack, but I bet a tank could get through some of these defences.

"I'm sure they would be able to destroy it eventually, but none of them would know what it was. We would have the element of surprise on our side. I bet it could take down the gate and the ward stone at the very least."

"What does a tank look like?" Bill asked.

Picking up a sheet of parchment, Harry made a rough sketch of the tanks he'd seen on the telly. "Some of them are simply armoured vehicles – along the lines of a Land Rover with a canon."

Sirius looked over Harry's shoulder at the sketch. "If we could get our hands on one of these, we could reinforce the armour. It wouldn't hold out indefinitely, but it might be able to take out the gate and the ward stone."

"Do you think Emma could find us one?" Ginny asked.

"I don't know," Harry said. "They are made for the military, but there might be places where you can buy them."

"If we did, we would need to practice," Bill pointed out.

Sirius nodded and looked over at Harry. "Remember when I was telling you that there were ruins at your great-grandparents' estate?" Harry nodded and Sirius continued, "We would ward some of the walls that are left and see if this tank would demolish them."

"That might work," Bill nodded.

Harry checked the address one more time before he pulled into an industrial complex in south-east London. Following Emma's directions, he made his way to the back of the complex. Taking up one entire building was the private military contractor, Sloane Services.

Parking, Harry walked into the lobby and to his relief found Emma talking to a fit older man in military clothes. She waved him over when she saw him. "Harry, this is Henry Davis. Henry, this is Harry Potter."

Harry extended his hand and noted the way the man's eyes automatically went to his forehead. "Mr Davis."

"Harry Potter, it is quite an honour to meet you." Henry led the way into a small conference room. "My younger brother is a wizard and I've heard about you."

Once they were all settled around the table, Henry said, "I was very surprised when Emma explained her interest in our company. From what I understand, the wizarding world keeps itself very separate from our world."

Harry nodded. "That is true, but we've been working with a group of people who know about the wizarding world. The threat Voldemort poses is to all of us, not just the wizarding world. We've established safe houses for some of the parents and other family members at risk. I'm hoping that by using a mixture of magic and technology, we can defeat Voldemort."

Before Henry could respond, there was a knock on the door. When Henry bade them to enter, a younger fit man in military gear entered. Henry stood and Harry followed suite.

"Harry, this is William Parks. His younger sister, Sarah, just graduated from Hogwarts last year."

After shaking hands all around, William joined them at the table. At a nod from Henry, William said, "I've heard quite a bit about this war, Voldemort, and even you from my sister. When my parents contacted me, I was happy to help. I was in the army for seven years and I specialized in mechanized infantry. Henry and I have been talking about the possibilities. Can you tell us what you are hoping to achieve?"

Harry explained the issue with the gates and the ward stone. "We also have to assume that the statuary in the garden is part of the manor's defence."

"What?" William was surprised. "The statues will come to life?"

Harry nodded. "I was talking to one of the professors at Hogwarts and she told me that the suits of armour all over the school can be animated to defend the school. Some of the more exotic defences include magical animals – dragons, chimeras and the like. Luckily Malfoy doesn't have any of those – he has snakes, but no other creatures."

"Dragons?" William shook his head. "I'd love to see a dragon."

He reviewed the plans that Emma had brought with her. "I believe we can help, but I understand the problem is you don't know if a tank will work against spells."

"Basically," Harry said.

"We have a new shipment of Challenger Twos," Henry explained. "Those are state of the art, the newest in tank technology. Luckily, we have a very close relationship with the government and they are willing to let us use this even before it has been shipped out to the troops. I believe someone from your government may have had a word with ours. We would be willing to lease you both the tank and the services of Mr Parks. He is a very experienced tank commander and might spot things that you would not."

After considering the matter, Harry nodded. He and Henry discussed the financial arrangements while Emma and William discussed where and when they wanted the tank.

"It's empty," Hermione announced as she checked one of the unused classrooms that had been used for rendezvous recently.

Ron nodded. "There's one more broom cupboard on this floor."

The pair travelled in relative silence. While they had made up from their most recent spat, there was a touch of odd formality to their relationship. Ron didn't want to say anything that might set her off while Hermione was feeling guilty for lashing out. The unresolved tension between the pair made for uncomfortable rounds.

As they turned the corner, Hermione shrieked and Ron swore loudly. On the wall, in front of them was the Dark Mark. It was emblazoned on the wall of the main stairwell so most of the students would past by it at some point during the day.

Drawing his wand, Ron sent his Patronus running towards the headmistress' office. He looked around the stairwell, but didn't see anyone.

Hermione was still shaking when Professor McGonagall arrived, followed quickly by Professor Flitwick. Once the professors arrived, Ron stood next to Hermione. He wanted to put his arm around her to comfort her, but he wasn't sure what her reaction might be. In the end, he simply stood next to her trying to comfort her with his presence.

"Miss Granger, Mr Weasley, did you see anyone in the stairwell earlier this evening?" Professor McGonagall asked.

"No," they both replied. Ron continued, "We passed by here less than thirty minutes ago."

Professor Flitwick, who had been examining the wall, spoke up, "This was caused by a charm. Possibly the same one used by the Death Eaters. The Dark Mark is genuine."

"What does that mean?" Hermione asked. Curiosity shook her out of her fear.

"To put this mark on the wall, there are several options," Professor Flitwick explained. "It could have been painted on the wall, it could have been copied from somewhere and placed on the wall, or it could be charmed onto the wall. The image is perfect so I don't believe it is painted or copied. It is charmed into the wall and it will take some doing to remove it."

"Why would they do this?" Hermione murmured.

"To spread terror," Professor McGonagall said. She looked at her head boy and girl. "Since we returned from the holiday break, I've noticed a substantial increase in morale and hopefulness. I imagine I'm not the only one who noticed. Whoever put this here wants to break our spirit and divide us."

"Does this mean there is a Death Eater here at the school?" Ron asked.

"Unfortunately," she replied.

"But…you've taken so many precautions," Hermione protested.

Footsteps sounded in the corridor and Hermione held her breath until Kingsley and Tonks rounded the corner. Professor McGonagall stepped forward and spoke to them in a low voice.

Glancing over at Hermione, Ron said, "Are you okay?"

She nodded. "I just…I didn't expect to see this here. I hoped we could keep the war away from the school. I don't understand how a Death Eater could sneak in here."

"I doubt they snuck in," Ron replied.

"What do you mean? Of course, they did – they must have."

Professor Flitwick spoke up, "No, I agree with Mr Weasley. You-Know-Who must have left some of his followers unmarked so they could easily move among us."

Moving up closer to the wall, Kingsley overheard the comment. "Unfortunately, that appears to be the case."

"Minerva, may I?" Professor Flitwick asked.

At her nod, the small professor conjured a tapestry that depicted the seal of Hogwarts. It neatly covered the unsightly mark. At the headmistress' request all of them accompanied her, but instead of going to her office she stopped in front of a door Hermione had never noticed before. There was a small tapestry of a rampant lion with a laurel wreath on its head next to the door.

"Victory," Professor McGonagall said.

As the entered the room, the stern Scott said, "This is not to be spoken of to anyone."

Nervously, Hermione nodded and Ron also agreed. The room had a large conference table. There were monitoring quills waiting over sheets of parchment. Affixed to the wall was a large-scale version of the Marauders' Map. A house-elf popped into the room and after a quiet conversation with Professor McGonagall, the elf left the room and returned with a tea tray. Professor McGonagall pressed one into Hermione's hand as the others survey's the room.

Kingsley whistled at the sight of the map. "Where did you get this?"

"Sirius and Remus created it for me," Professor McGonagall said. "It has several advantages over the original. It has a search mode so you can find one particular person. Unfortunately, they weren't able to develop a way to look back and who had been to a particular place or corridor."

"Perhaps we need someone to monitor the map," Kingsley said.

"That might help in this situation, but during the day when the corridors are full of students it would be less useful." Professor Flitwick commented.

Professor McGonagall nodded. "We could have someone watch overnight. I will work out a schedule with the house-elves."

It was a mark of how unsettled she was that Hermione didn't comment on the use of house-elves. Professor McGonagall gestured for them to all sit at the conference table. With a wave of her wand, she recreated a map of the floor on which they'd discovered the Dark Mark as well as the floors directly above and below.

"Miss Granger, can you retrace your movements."

Nodding, Hermione, with input from Ron, showed their movements over the past hour. Professor McGonagall had an elf retrieve the prefects' reports from the other teams patrolling that night. Soon they had a fairly good idea of who had been out and about that evening, but it was possible the person had avoided the patrols or wore an Invisibility Cloak.

"I wouldn't think any of these students would be allied with the Death Eaters," Professor McGonagall sighed as she looked at the names of the students who had been caught out after curfew.

There was a seventh-year couple from Hufflepuff, three first year Ravenclaws who were late in leaving the library, two Gryffindors who were returning from detention with Professor Slughorn, and a sixth year Slytherin couple who were caught returning from the Astronomy Tower. It was also noted that Madam Pince had left the library and returned to her quarters and Professor Roberts, the new Transfiguration professor, had been seen returning to her quarters from the kitchen.

"Minerva, how sure are you about your new staff?" Kingsley asked.

She sighed. "I'd like to say I was certain, but I have seen too many turn who I never thought would. Professor Slughorn was a favourite professor of Tom Riddle's. I don't believe he believes in pureblood superiority, but he does love collecting famous students. He was a bit too surprised to discover that I'm a half-blood. Professor Ambrose fought against Voldemort in the first war and I don't believe his allegiance has changed. Professor Roberts is Muggle-born so I would presume he's against Voldemort, but of course that is no guarantee that he is against Voldemort."

"No one who is an obvious target for Death Eaters to recruit," Kingsley commented. "I'd be more inclined to look at some of the sixth or seventh year students – most likely not Slytherin."

"Not Slytherin?" Ron questioned.

Kingsley shook his head. "We are already more suspicious of Slytherins. I believe that Voldemort might not mark a member of one of the other houses to allow them to blend in with their housemates. After all, Peter Pettigrew did more damage than many Death Eaters and he was Gryffindor."

"We were less suspicious of him because of his house and his friendships," Professor McGonagall agreed.

Hermione and Ron returned to the Gryffindor common room, both a little shaken by the appearance of the Dark Mark in the castle.

Ginny reached out and took Harry's hand as he drove up the long drive. Nature had long taken over the grounds, but there was still a formal gate guarded by marble lions as befitted a house of Gryffindors. The drive was not in the best condition, but it was still drivable.

Turning the corner, the ruins dominated the landscape. Ginny gasped. The manor must have been huge. Glancing over at Harry, she found it difficult to tell what he was thinking. He pulled Sirius' Range Rover to a stop in front of what probably used to be the front steps.

As they exited the vehicle, he reached for her hand. The house had probably been two stories at some point, but only a small portion of the walls went that high. Three chimneys of varying heights stood out in various parts of the ruins. The east wing appeared to have been decimated and only a bare outline of the walls remained. Nature had reasserted its hold on the spot and trees grew through what had once been rooms. The west wing had more walls intact and the outline of some rooms was visible. In the centre, the walls of the Great Hall were primarily intact.

"Do you want to explore a bit?" she asked him gently.

He nodded. Cautiously, they walked around the west wing. Some of the flooring was unbroken, but much of it had been destroyed. Clearing his throat, he said, "You can see some of the bomb damaged. Dad said that there was at least one bombing mission that targeted Godric's Hollow itself and it destroyed a lot of the east wing."

"Some of this seems to be spell damage," she remarked as she squatted down next to a half wall.

"There was some fighting with Grindelwald's supporters," Harry explained. "Dad said that once my great-grandparents died, my grandparents moved closer to town. My parents thought about rebuilding, but…well, obviously, they never had the time."

"It's beautiful land," she said as she squeezed his hand.

"There's quite a bit of land with the house," Harry said. "My dad…I mean, my dad James, wanted to build a Quidditch pitch."

They had walked through the house and could see what used to be the back garden. Two paths led into a thick wooded area. Weeds were growing up among the bricks that were laid out leading to the gardens. There was a small dome-shaped building off to one side.

"What is that?" Ginny asked.

He shrugged. "Let's go see."

When they reached the building, he tentatively touched the outside. "It seems sturdy."

There were several large openings near the top and one door. Pushing on the door, they discovered the building was an owlery. "They must have had a lot of owls," Harry commented. "I don't think Hedwig would like to stay out here by herself."

"I wonder if they had a fountain or a pond," Ginny said as they wondered around.

The sound of another car caught their attention. Harry led the way and they picked their way around the plants that had grown through the floor in the Great Hall.

Sirius and Emma had pulled up in Emma's bright red Ford Fiesta. A loud mechanized sound caused them to watch the drive as Sirius and Emma joined them. Ginny gasped when the Challenger Two came into view.

"What is that?" she asked.

"It's a tank," Harry explained. The tank's tracks had no problem with the torn-up drive as it rumbled towards them. Once it came to a stop, William popped out of the top and clambered down. Henry followed him. To Harry and Ginny's surprise, Dr Granger clambered out next.

He had a big grin on his face. "This is great! I was in the army years ago, but I haven't had a chance to do something this exciting in years."

The last person to exit the machine was Lee Jordan. "They wanted at least one witch or wizard on this team."

Stepping forward, Lee hugged both Harry and Ginny. "It is great to see both of you."

William nodded. "It takes at least four people to operate the tank, so we needed four people with knowledge of the wizarding world."

Nearing the large machine, Ginny said, "I still don't understand what this is."

Patting the side, William explained, "This is armoured so it can protect the soldiers from being shot or injured. The treads make it easy to roll over different obstacles."

Walking around the machine, Ginny nodded. "I can see that."

Pointing to the long gun, he explained, "This is a 120-millimetre and 55-callibre gun. It can shoot different projectiles, particularly amour piercing rounds. I've heard that it can even use depleted uranium shells, but I have some AFPSDS L23 as well as the HESH rounds. The turret has a nine second rotation time. In addition to the cannon there are two machine guns."

At the blank looks on everyone's face he laughed. "Sorry, I get a bit carried away. This cannon can shoot armour piercing shells and the HESH which are better against buildings, so I thought they would be better. The HESH rounds can be fired eight kilometres further than the armour piercing shells. The tank itself is very well armoured, although I have no idea how it would stand up against spells. The downside is it takes four people to operate, but we were able to put together a good team."

"Professor McGonagall was able to provide all of them with Portkeys," Lee explained. "Oliver wanted to ride around in the tank, but he's needed for the flying wing. My job is to essentially make sure everyone gets out of here safely."

Holding his hand out to Ginny, William asked, "Would you like to look inside?"

Hesitantly, she took his hand and clambered up on top of the tank. She peered down into the two portals out of which the men had emerged. There were screens and lot of buttons and levers. "It looks confusing."

"It's not too bad, once you've had the training," William explained.

"Will our magic interfere with the electronics?" Ginny asked.

"I've spoken to Professor McGonagall and Professor Flitwick, given that only one wizard will be in the tank and the shields we plan to put on it, they didn't think it would be an issue. Regular cars work around us so this should as well," Sirius said.

Sirius walked around the tank. Pulling his wand, he said to William, "I'm going to add some shielding and warding charms."

"Of course."

For the next several minutes, Lee quietly explained to the others what Sirius, Harry, and Ginny were doing. Stepping back, Sirius lowered his wand. "I think that will do, especially for a test. I will talk to Bill and Fleur to make sure there is nothing else that needs to be added."

Looking around at the ruins, he said, "Harry, will you help me strengthen some of the spells on the west wing?"

Nodding, the two men walked over to the appropriate area and after assessing the wards already present, they started casting spells. Sirius had purchased some sentry statues similar to those at Malfoy Manor and placed them at intervals in the ruins.

"What destroyed the house?" William asked.

"It was hit with bombs during…World War II," Ginny said. She grinned. "Sorry, for a minute I forgot what the Muggles called it."

"Do you have a different name for it?" he asked.

"For us, it is Grindelwald's war. He was a powerful Dark Wizard who was working with some of the Muggle leaders," she explained.

"I understand that he actually worked with Hitler and Mussolini," Dr Granger put in. "It shocked me to realize that there were actually two wars being waged at the same time."

"Where exactly are we?" Henry asked. "Sirius told us we were in an area that was populated by both wizards and normal people – somewhere in the West Country?"

"This is Godric's Hollow, isn't it?" Lee said.

Ginny nodded. Gesturing with a sweeping arm, she said, "This land was in the Potter family for generations, but it was damaged during Grindelwald's war. Harry's grandparents, at that time, didn't have any children and they just moved closer to town. Harry was just telling me that his parents thought about moving up here before they were killed."

"So, this land belongs to Harry?" Henry asked.

"Yes, the land is still in his name," Ginny explained.

Sirius returned to the group. "I've tried to recreate the ward stone that we discovered at the Malfoy's. We also added a door to see what the tank will do. The goblins have added plenty of wards to the fence that runs the perimeter of the property, so we can try that as well. We don't really have any way of recreating the Dark Mark."

William grinned as they climbed back into the tank. "Let's see what this can do! You'll want to go two or three hundred metres back. There will probably be debris flying from the wall. Some of this stone looks heavy so we don't want to get hit." He started to climb down, but popped his head back up to say, "It will be very loud."

As he climbed down, Harry and Emma moved their cars before joining Sirius and Ginny a safe distance away. Harry, Ginny and Sirius drew their wands in case they needed to cast a shield. Emma pulled several sets of ear plugs from her pocket and handed a pair to everyone. Once they were in position, the tank began to move.

Ginny reached out for Harry's hand at the noise. He grinned. Leaning down, he said, "This is going to be brilliant!"

The tank moved up toward the house and fired point blank at the door. Ginny couldn't help but scream when the door exploded. Luckily, Harry and Sirius were fast with their shield charms and the wooden pieces bounced harmlessly off their shields.

As they watched, the turret turned and fired at the ward stone. It shattered completely. Once the cannon fell silent, the right-handed machine gun took down two of the statues. After several minutes, it was apparent that the tank would be able to destroy the walls and statues with both the cannon and machine guns.

When it came time to attack the perimeter, they rode to a location in the back of the property. The tank clearly targeted a portion of the stone wall and fired. This time the explosion was absorbed by the goblin shielding.

"Damn!" Sirius swore. "I thought it was a bit too easy. I verified that this is the same shielding the Malfoys have."

After a second try, the tank broke off the attack on the wall. William opened the top. "I don't know how it is managing to do that."

"Those are protected by goblin magic. Obviously, they have a different sort of protection," Sirius said. "We'll need to find another way onto the grounds."

William and the others climbed out of the tank. Both Dr Granger and Lee had huge smiles on their faces.

"That was brilliant!" Lee exclaimed.

Dr Granger nodded. "I'd forgotten how exciting it could be."

Once all the Muggles were a safe distance away with Lee and Ginny protecting them, Harry and Sirius attacked the tank. They used a combination of cutting and blasting curses in testing the tank's armour plus the spells they'd cast upon it. One cutting curse made it to the tank, but didn't penetrate the armour.

Smiling, Sirius turned to the other. "I think this plan just might work."

Diagon Alley was dreary and the light rain didn't help the atmosphere. Patrons hurried to their destinations, but the street was rather busy. It was mid-week and the shops were busy.

Bill left Gringotts in a hurry. His afternoon meeting had run late and he was supposed to be at Grimmauld Place. Turning off of Diagon Alley, he hurried down the smaller alley to cut through to Muggle London. A noise behind him caught his attention and in that instant he realized he'd isolated himself. His instincts earned in the tombs of Egypt saved his life as he dove under the spell that hurtled towards him. The heat of the spell singed his cheek. It exploded into the wall. He swore as the stone shattered above him. Some of the stone pieces tore into his cheek, but he ignored the pain. The rain soaked pavement slowed him down as he rolled and turning, he came up firing.

"Stupefy! Stupefy!"

His second Stunning Spell hit one of his attackers who slumped to the ground. Bill couldn't waste any time wondering about him. Both attackers were wearing black cloaks with their faces hidden in the depths of their hoods, but not Death Eater masks.


While his opponent moved out of the way, the blasting spell hit the ground in front of him knocking him off his feet.


When the second attacker fell, Bill quickly Summoned both of their wands and bound the pair. After thinking it over, he attempted to Summon any Portkeys. The first attacker had one, but not the second. Pushing back their hoods he discovered Draco Malfoy and another man Bill vaguely remembered as being on the Slytherin Quidditch team when he was in school. Leaving the older man in the Alley, he grabbed Draco and Apparated to Grimmauld Place.

He levitated his burden into the headquarters and dropped him unceremoniously on the dining room floor. George and Tonks were the only two there at the moment. They both jumped, startled by his appearance.


"Damn, what happened?" George asked. Looking over his older brother and seeing the blood on his cheek, he asked, "Are you hurt?"

"I'm good. Malfoy here," he said kicking the unconscious body, "and a pal decided to jump me when I left Gringotts. I don't know if they targeted me in particular or if they just wanted to cause some mayhem."

Pulling a handkerchief out of his pocket, he held it to his cheek. Pulling it away, he was surprised at the amount of blood. "Damn, I guess the little shite did get me." Holding pressure on his face, he grinned at his brother. "Contact Sirius. We need him here as soon as possible. I have an idea."

Sirius grinned as he listened to Bill's idea. He looked over at Harry who was also grinning. "That's a great idea."

"We have him in one of the upper rooms," Bill explained. "I thought it would be better to have him see only you."

Sirius nodded. "It's too bad we can't give him Veritaserum, but I do think this will work better. Have you talked to Flitwick?"

"He should be here any moment," Bill replied.

"I am here," Professor Flitwick announced as he entered Sirius' study. He was carrying a worn leather bound book which was marked with a book mark. "This is the most descriptive information I have found on the curse."

"Will it work?" Sirius asked. "We are first cousins once removed. Is the relationship too distant?"

"I don't believe so," the tiny professor replied. "This spell works on blood magic. You are the head of his mother's house and your house has more…prestige than the House of Malfoy. As an Ancient and Noble house, your house outranks the Malfoys."

Sirius laughed. "For once I'm actually glad of my family line."

"As you have officially claimed the title of head of the house, you should be able to cast the spell on Draco. He is a fairly accomplished Occlumens – at least for his age, but I believe the spell will help shelter his mind. It did with Ms Tonks."

"Good," Sirius said. "Voldemort is a very accomplished Legilimens. I don't know how often he checks out his minions, but I'm certain he does from time to time."

Flitwick nodded. "It is too bad that Mr Malfoy followed his father's path. He showed some promise when he arrived at Hogwarts. He actually faced the same dilemma that you did. Obviously, he doesn't have your morals or strength of mind."

"Lucius did manage to ruin that boy," Sirius agreed. He took a few minutes to read over the spell. "This is fairly straight forward. Is there any way to test that it worked?"

"You could implant a phrase for him to say once you complete the spell," he suggested.

Sirius laughed. "I have the perfect phrase in mind."

After taking some time to centre himself, he headed upstairs. Tonks was standing outside the door. She smirked when she saw him. "What are you going to do with the little ponce?"

"Bill didn't tell you?"

She shook her head. He grinned. "I'm using the same spell on him that Bellatrix used on you."

Her eyes widened and she gasped before she started laughing. "It serves them right! What are you going to make him do?"

He leaned in and whispered his plan into her ear. She smiled. "That is brilliant!"

Entering the room, he surveyed his young cousin. With a wave of his wand he untied him and checked for a Portkey. There wasn't one so he turned his attention back to Draco. He seated the boy in a chair across from him and retied him. With a wave of his wand, he woke him up.

"Hello, Draco."

Draco's already pale face, paled even more and he struggled against his binding. "What the hell, Black?"

"It seems you and one of your Death Eater pals decided to jump a friend of mine." Sirius laughed. "You didn't do a very good job. It appears he Stunned you before you could do much of anything."

"What do you care if we jump a few Mudbloods? My mother will be disappointed to hear how far the House of Black has fallen."

Sirius laughed as he shook his head. "How far has the House of Malfoy fallen? You can't even tell the difference between a Muggle-born and a Pure-blood. Of course, there isn't really any difference, but I'm sure your father has taught you differently."

Uncertainty flashed through Draco's eyes before a mask of indifference settled over his face. "Mudblood or blood traitor – it doesn't make a difference. They will all fall to the Dark Lord."

"Please, you are worse than Bellatrix. I would remind you that one so-called blood traitor handily defeated you and your pal without breaking a sweat, but don't worry. I hear the Dark Lord is very understanding about such things."

Sweat broke out on Draco's face as he paled further, probably recalling what the Dark Lord did to those who didn't properly carry out his orders. Sirius drew his wand and cast the spell. "Pero Prosapia!"

Sirius watched as the Order gathered in the Drawing Room of Grimmauld Place. Dobby had set out sandwiches and snacks for the members. Harry and Ginny were standing nearby, visiting with Ron and Hermione. Professor McGonagall had brought them with her from Hogwarts.

"Do you really think this is it?" Emma asked.

"I think so," Sirius said confidently. "This was the piece we were missing."

Kingsley arrived from the Ministry with Arthur. "I believe we are the last two."

"Thank you," Sirius said. The group quieted instantly. "The time is now and we need to strike as soon."

"What has happened?" Professor McGonagall asked.

Sirius quickly explained Bill's capture of Draco Malfoy. He watched as Ron's eyes lit up with delight at the thought of his older brother so easily capturing his nemesis. "Bill had a brilliant idea. I used the same spell on him that Bellatrix used on Tonks. For those of you who don't know, it is a variant of the Imperius Curse, but it only works if the person who cast it is related to the person on whom the spell is cast. He will behave normally until certain conditions are met."

"What are those circumstances?" Kingsley asked.

"Our attack," Sirius explained. "Dobby has agreed to take Draco a message. We have determined through other means that the house-elves are not acknowledged. He believes he can give Draco the message and return."

"That's too dangerous!" Hermione objected.

"This entire attack is going to be dangerous," Sirius countered. "I did not order him to participate, he volunteered. Are you going to tell him he isn't allowed to do his part?"

Looking unhappy, she subsided.

"Once Dobby returns, Draco will make his way down to the gate and open it for us."

"Won't he be killed?"

Sirius didn't see who asked, but he answered anyway. "He might be. That isn't my concern. He chose his side. He's attacked Harry, Ginny, Ron, and Bill. He's a Marked Death Eater and he is legally an adult. I honestly don't care if he's killed on the spot as long as he opens the gate for us."

"Is your relationship close enough to allow the spell to take?" another member asked.

"I believe it is," Professor Flitwick spoke up. He looked over at Sirius. "Did he repeat your sentence?"

Sirius, Harry and Ginny started laughing. Sirius nodded. "He proudly proclaimed that Harry Potter is a much better wizard than he."

Ron and some of the others joined in the laughter. When the laughing died down, Sirius said, "Are there any other questions?"

"Has the problem of the ward stone been addressed?" Hestia asked.

Harry grinned. "It has. We are using an army tank." At the blank looks, he waved his wand and displayed a picture on the wall. "It is an armoured machine it has one cannon and two machine guns. We've tested it against magic very similar to the ward stones and it worked very well."

"How did you find one?" Arthur asked as he inspected the picture closely.

"Emma found it for us, along with the men to man it," Harry said with a proud smile. "Dr Granger and Lee Jordan will be rounding out the crew. They will have Portkeys as will all non-wizarding combatants."

Although Hermione had already heard of her father's involvement, her unhappiness showed on her face. Ron put his arm around her and whispered softly to her.

With a wave of his wand, Sirius brought up the plans for Malfoy Manor. "We have some planning to do."

A/N: Thank you so much to Arnel for her beta skills and Mark for his Brit picking and British Army expertise. All of the information about Warwick Castle is accurate except for the ghosts and Malfoys. The Challenger 2 tank was just being produced in 1998, but I wanted to use it. I know I haven't updated in forever, so if you have questions about everything - Ginny was first at Warwick Castle in Chapter 9 - Rescue Me. The spell on Tonks is discussed in Chapter 12 - The Importance of Family. Thank you so much for your patience! I hope you enjoy this chapter.