Author's Note: Ugh! Two "No Title" chapters in a row! That never happens! Some chapters just don't want to be titled, I suppose.
Amelia's eyes stung from the exhaust she was feeling. Not just from being tired, but she was emotionally spent. She couldn't show it however, no matter how much she wanted to rub her eyes. She was currently entertaining a reporter from the Daily Prophet about the details of the previous evening.
The newspaper, which had released the day's issue earlier that morning was less than extraordinary when it came to the events of the killing spree. Even though the front article was the big story, it had been a bad rush job, and very little information had gotten out. This made the reporter in front of Amelia very excited. So excited in fact, he had almost rushed past her security at the door. The security guards, thinking he was an attacker, had nearly Stunned the man before Amelia had put a stop to it.
They had spent the last fifteen minutes going over the details that Amelia was privy too, that could be released to the public. However, there were a few details they hadn't gotten too, such as Amelia's part in it.
"Was it pure luck that you weren't here at the Ministry when Scrimgeour was murdered?" the reporter, Jackson Gold, an up-and-coming journalist who seemed to be having his first big break with this story, "Or was that planned?"
"I was here early yesterday morning," Amelia said, "However, I hadn't slept in nearly thirty-six hours. I was at the Quidditch World Cup, and I wasn't able to get any sleep before the Death Eaters attacked the campgrounds. Then I was brought here for my own safety, and I had a job to do as Minister in a time of crisis."
"And yet you spent most of yesterday outside the Ministry," Jackson said, "Outside your office."
"Everyone needs their sleep, Mr. Gold," Amelia said, "Even someone as important as I."
Jackson nodded and looked down at his sheaf of parchment. "Minister, the Daily Prophet and myself want to give our condolences for your loss. We're also quite relieved your niece, Susan, made it out alive. How is she?"
"She's recovering from the shock of such an event," Amelia said, reciting the words from her notes she wrote earlier that morning, "She needs rest and the love of the only family she has left. For her safety, I won't go into any more details."
"O-of course," Jackson said, then cleared his throat. "Aside from Rufus Scrimgeour, another Ministry staff member lost their life. Your – uh – personal assistant – er -"
"Samantha," Amelia said, rather annoyed that the reporter couldn't remember the name even though they had discussed Samantha as one of the victims earlier.
"That is two positions you have to hire now, Minister," Jackson said. "The public might not care about who you hire as your assistant -"
To Amelia's right, there was a scoff. Amelia smiled privately as she looked at her new assistant, Keller, who at this moment was sitting in a chair off to the side looking through a sheaf of parchment. Obviously he was annoyed by such a jibe.
"However," Jackson continued, "It is the future appointment of Senior Undersecretary everyone will want to know about. Who do you have in mind?"
"That will be announced when the person is hired," Amelia said, "Not before."
"So nobody has taken the job yet?" Jackson asked.
"I've offered the job to someone," Amelia said, "They are making their choice whether to accept or not."
"So the second-most important office in the British Ministry of Magic is vacant right now?" Jackson asked. "If something unfortunate were to happen to you, our community would be without a Minister -"
"You hold your tongue, Mr. Gold!" Keller said, "Do remember who you're speaking to!"
Before either Amelia or the reporter could speak up, there was a knock on the office door. Amelia looked at the security guards and nodded. They opened the door, and Amelia was shocked to see Sirius rush into the room.
"Sirius?" Amelia asked. "What -"
"Henry Keller?" Sirius asked.
Amelia looked in Keller's direction, and a moment later, a red beam of light hit him in the chest. He collapsed onto the floor with a thud. Amelia looked back at Sirius and saw that he had his wand pointed in Keller's direction, and was glaring at him.
"What in Merlin's good name?!" Jackson exclaimed.
"Sirius?" Amelia said,
"Get this man out of here," Sirius said, nodding to Jackson.
"Now wait a second!" Jackson said, "I am a Daily Prophet reporter! I am having an interview with -"
"Interview's over," Sirius said. "Shacklebolt?"
"Yes, boss," Kingsley said, walking into office.
"Obliviate this reporter," Sirius said, "Make him forget everything that happened when I walked into the room. He can remember his interview. I don't want what is going on here to be known to the public."
Kingsley nodded and walked over to Jackson. He grabbed the reporter by the arm, and dragged him out of the room.
"Sirius?" Amelia said, "What is going on?"
Sirius walked over to Amelia and handed her a piece of parchment. Amelia took it and read it. Her eyes widened as she finished it, and looked over at Keller.
"Who sent this?" Amelia asked.
"We don't know," Sirius said.
"Then how do you know it is legitimate?" Amelia asked.
"One way to find out," Sirius said, then turned and looked back at one of the guards at the door. "You," he said, pointing to the larger of the two, "Help me get this man into the chair and tie him up. You -" he pointed to the other. "Make sure nobody comes in here or hears what is going on. We don't need this getting out."
"Yes, sir," the smaller Auror said, and left the room.
Amelia watched the scene as Sirius and her guard put Keller in the chair he had been sitting in, and conjured ropes around him.
"Open his mouth," Sirius said.
The Auror did so, and Sirius produced from his robes a vial that appeared to have Veritaserum in it. He poured the contents into Keller's mouth and pointed his wand at Keller's mouth. Keller's throat constricted as he swallowed the liquid.
"Ennervate," Sirius said.
Keller blinked his eyes open and shook his head as if trying to get water out of his ears.
"What is your name?" Sirius asked.
"Henry Keller," Henry said.
"Are you a Death Eater?" Sirius asked.
"No," Henry said.
"We can check his arm, sir," the Auror said.
"There are plenty of unbranded Death Eaters out there," Sirius said. "Right now, given the circumstances, we must believe Keller is being honest. Keller, do you have any connection to Lucius Malfoy?"
"He kidnapped my family," Keller said, "My wife and two little girls. They're only three and five years old. He said he'd kill them if I didn't help him."
"How long ago did Malfoy contact you?" Sirius asked, "When did he kidnap your family?"
"Two weeks ago," Keller said.
"We received a letter that you were an ally of Voldemort," Sirius said, "And yet you say you aren't a Death Eater?"
"I'm not associated with V-Voldemort," Keller said, even under pain of truth, his fear making him stutter.
"The letter says Voldemort and his allies, Sirius," Amelia said, looking down at the parchment, "The writer might have meant Lucius."
"Who knows Malfoy has your family?" Sirius asked Keller.
"I don't know," Keller said.
"Were you here at the Ministry during Scrimgeour's murder?" Sirius asked.
"No," Keller said.
"He told me he was sick," Amelia said.
"I heard otherwise," Sirius said, "Were you here at all yesterday, Keller?"
"Yes," Keller said.
"How were you involved in Scrimgeour's murder?" Sirius asked.
"Lucius Malfoy told me when he was coming to the Ministry," Keller said, "He had plans to kill Scrimgeour and the Minister of Magic. When the time came for his arrival, I told Scrimgeour's guards to go get some lunch. When they left, so did I."
"So he was telling the truth," Amelia said, "He wasn't here during Scrimgeour's murder. He left before it."
"How are you in contact with Malfoy?" Sirius asked.
"Dead drops around London," Keller said. "Each contained a note and – and a picture of my family with the day's date on a newspaper to show me they were alive."
Sirius sighed and pointed his wand at Keller, who blinked rapidly and looked around the room. Then he looked back at Sirius and whimpered.
"Please!" Keller cried out, "He has my family! He made me do it!"
"You certainly weren't under the Imperius Curse," the Auror guard said. "You did it on your own."
"Enough," Amelia said, "He'll be held on trial in front of the Wizengamot."
"Just find my family!" Keller whimpered, "I don't care what happens to me."
Sirius nodded harshly to the office door. The Auror guard bound Keller's hands with magical binds, and unbound him from the chair, then dragged him out of the office.
"I can't believe this," Amelia said, falling back into her comfortable leather chair, "I hired him out of convenience. What would have happened if this note hadn't arrived?"
"Sounds like you're grateful for that note," Sirius said.
"Whoever sent it might have saved my life, Sirius!" Amelia said.
"Malfoy might have sent it!" Sirius said.
"Malfoy?" Amelia asked, with a laugh, "You think he wanted us to capture the man who could have killed me? It says after three letters, the author will tell you where he is. You really think Malfoy would give himself up like that?"
Sirius grunted. "I wish. It was just a theory."
"A bad one," Amelia said.
Sirius walked over to her chair, and went behind it, then began massaging her shoulders.
"I needed that," Amelia said, then sighed, "I don't get it. Keller could have cursed me at any time. When he saw you come in, he could have attacked me. Why –?"
"He knew it was hopeless," Sirius said, "If he attacked you, I'd have killed him instead of stunned him, and he never would have been able to see his family again. I think he would have surrendered if I hadn't been such a quick-draw. He just wants his family rescued."
"Thank you for being a quick-draw," Amelia said.
"Anytime, love," Sirius said. "Do you need anything?"
"Do you have time to check on Susan?" Amelia asked. "I'd go, but... I'm so busy. I need to find yet another assistant on top of everything else."
"Take mine," Sirius said, "Karl Stephens. He's been through security check after security check, including Veritaserum. You won't have to worry about him."
"You don't need him?" Amelia asked.
"I'm better off doing everything myself," Sirius said.
"Everything?" Amelia asked.
"Well," Sirius said, shrugging, "At least when it comes to my job. Alright. I'll go tell Stephens about his promotion, then check on Susan."
Sirius kissed Amelia then headed out of the office. The guard he had sent out returned and stood at the door. Fifteen minutes later, Sirius' old assistant Stephens entered the room, and Amelia went over her schedule and plans with him. He thanked her for taking him in as her assistant, and walked back out of the office.
As the hours passed, Amelia's busy day only continued. She received many letters – all of which passed vigorous security checks – offering their condolences for her loss. Due to the events of the previous day, her important meetings were delayed. Though delay was something she couldn't afford. Important things were happening in the near future.
With the Triwizard Tournament beginning in the next couple of months, she had more meetings with Norwegian and French representatives, all of which were delayed. She spoke to Stephens once again and told him the meetings needed to be scheduled at the next possible opportunity. Unfortunately with the funerals coming that Amelia swore she would attend everyone, on top of other important meetings, her schedule was going to be filled for the rest of the week.
Sirius returned two hours after he left her office with news that Susan was once again sleeping under the influence of Dreamless Sleep Draught. He also informed her that she had eaten while he was there with her, and she was wondering where her Aunt was. Amelia teared up when Sirius said that he told Susan she was very busy. She vowed to find time in her busy schedule to spend more time with Susan. Susan needed her now, more than ever. Especially if there was any hope she would recover and be able to go back to Hogwarts at the beginning of next month.
In the late afternoon, Amelia's meeting that she had been waiting for all day had finally come. Arthur Weasley walked into her office and sat down.
"Have you made your decision?" Amelia asked.
"I have," Arthur said. "I spoke to Molly twice today about what I should do, the last time not an hour ago. I told her my decision, and it seems my children are all supporting it."
"And what decision is that, Arthur?" Amelia asked.
"I accept the role of Senior Undersecretary," Arthur said.
Amelia smiled in relief. She had feared he would decline, and she would have to search strenuously for someone else. She could have found someone else more qualified, but it wouldn't be someone she could completely trust.
"You don't know how happy I am to hear that," she said. "I'm sure one of the reasons it took you so long to decide was that you feared for your safety given recent events?"
"It was up there on the list," Arthur said, "But not just my own safety, but that of my family."
"I will do everything in my power to make sure your safety and that of your family is one-hundred percent guaranteed," Amelia said. "I can have a team of Aurors at the Burrow on all hours, and I think we both know someone very qualified to place some advanced wards around your house. If I remember correctly, your son Bill helped with the wards at Hogwarts."
"Yes," Arthur said, nodding.
"And of course we can trust that he'll make sure it is his best work on the wards around your own home," Amelia said.
"I think he'll be very happy to work on that," Arthur said.
Amelia smiled and glanced at the security guards at the door.
"You," she said to the smaller Auror, "Tell Stephens to inform Daily Prophet of the new appointment to the Senior Undersecretary role."
The Auror nodded and left the room.
"Now, do you have anyone in mind for your assistant?" Amelia asked.
"No, ma'am," Arthur said, "I'd pick Perkins, but he is teaching the new apprentice for my old job."
"I'll have someone appointed," Amelia said, "And you can bet they'll pass all security checks, or I'd put them in Azkaban myself."
Over the next hour, Amelia and Arthur went over the expectations of Senior Undersecretary, as well as what was going to happen in the near future. Then she gave him the rest of the day off, and he promised to come in early the next morning ready for his new job.
Amelia gave herself the rest of the day off as well. She needed to spend time with her niece.
Thursday August 11th, 1994
This is not how I saw myself celebrating the official return to my teenage years, Ginny said, sadly, as she and Harry sat down in a couple of chairs.
Technically your party is on Saturday at the Burrow, Harry said.
Doesn't change anything.
We'll go to Hogsmeade after this. We can have a date in the village, and we'll end it with dinner at Madam Puddifoot's.
Ginny smiled and took Harry's hand fondly. Sounds like a good birthday to me.
The Bond-mates were currently sitting in the second row of a large group of chairs. The location was a wizarding cemetery called Magic Oaks, located south of London. This cemetery was where most of the Bones family had been buried throughout the years. Rodger and Cynthia would be buried next to his brother, Edgar.
Seated on either side of them were the rest of the Weasley family, including Charlie who had come in for the funeral and would be staying for Ginny's party. In the front row ahead of them, Amelia and Susan sat alongside Sirius, Remus, Tonks, Kingsley and a few Ministry officials. Scattered around the seats were old friends of the Bones, many of whom had been in attendance at Edgar's funeral. Even some of the Hogwarts Professors were in attendance, including Dumbledore who would be once again leading the funeral, as he did with Daphne Greengrass. There were also several of Susan's classmates there in support of her.
Susan was directly in front of Harry. He noticed that she was staring at the magnificent wooden caskets a few feet in front of her which held her parents. She was clutching the nearest hand of her Aunt's, but otherwise, she was completely still and quiet. Before she had come to the funeral, she had still been at St. Mungo's. The Healers had said they were afraid she might lash out in anger, and might not have been aware she was doing it. It was due to possible post-traumatic stress. Currently a dose of Calming Potion was running through her so she would be able to attend the funeral without any complications.
This was not the first funeral Harry and Ginny had attended that week. They had attended Samantha and Katrina's funeral the day before. The couple had been buried beside each other, as they would have wanted, even though Katrina's grandparents who had gone before her were buried many miles away.
The former Minister was buried on Tuesday, and though he had many critics in life, he also had many mourners attend his funeral. Rufus Scrimgeour would be buried the following day, and it was said over five-hundred mourners may attend.
Professor Dumbledore stood from his seat and stood in between the two caskets.
"Thirteen years ago," he began, "I stood in this very same spot leading the funeral of a very dear friend to me, who was put to rest along with some of those he thought most dearly of. Rodger and Cynthia Bones were sitting in front of me, listening to my eulogy. Young Susan was curled up in her mother's arms, asleep and peaceful, comforted by a loving embrace."
Dumbledore smiled softly down at Susan.
"I am a very old man," he continued, "and I find it tragic that I am still here to witness a scene where that young girl had to once again attend a funeral of those so dear to her. I remind you, Susan, that you are still being comforted by that loving embrace. Not only by your aunt, or the friends around you, but by your parents. They are still with you, as long as you never forget them. They watch over you as they did in their final moments when all they wanted was to make sure you were safe and alive."
He smiled at Susan, then returned his attention to the rest of the mourners.
"We sit here in such Dark times, and it is hard to see the light which shines just down that road. But there is a light. There is a light living on in young Susan, who was saved by the heroics of her parents. There's a light in everyone here who remembers the lives of Rodger and Cynthia. That light will never go out as long as someone is there to hold the flame."
He continued for another few minutes, before he asked for volunteers to stand. Amelia went first, and Susan stood with her though she didn't say anything. Amelia reminisced of her life with her big brothers, both Rodger and Edgar. She closed with saying she was proud that Rodger had been there to walk her down the aisle on her wedding day, and how she would look after Susan for as long as she could.
Several others including Sirius and Remus, both who know Rodger as long as they knew Amelia, spoke as well, as did a few Hogwarts Professors.
The funeral ended with the mourners throwing roses on the caskets as they descended. Amelia and Susan remained graveside for a few moments to mourn in private. It was then that Susan, who had been quiet through the entire service, broke down in tears against her Aunt, who held her.
Standing a few yards away to give them privacy were Harry, Ginny and Sirius.
"We're going to take Susan back to the Manor," Sirius said, "She doesn't need to spent the hours after she buried her parents in the hospital. We spoke to the Healers when we picked Susan up, and they supported this decision."
"I think that is a good idea," Harry said, "She needs to spend time with her family. And that is us now – all of us. However, Ginny and I have plans for this evening. We're going to Hogsmeade to spend her birthday together, just the two of us."
"Alright," Sirius said, "Amelia and I can entertain Susan. Anything to make this day a better one for her."
"It'll be good for her," Ginny said, and Harry nodded in agreement.
An hour later, Harry and Ginny arrived at the Three Broomsticks via Floo Powder. They had just left a rather memorable scene in the sitting room of Potter Manor. Donder and Blitzen had evidently noticed Susan's sadness, and had chosen to entertain her their own little way. Harry thought he had caught a smile on Susan's face as she talked with the twin house-elves.
It was a little past six-o-clock when they made their way out of the restaurant and into the village. They walked around the different shops for a while, purchasing a few items, but mostly just roaming and spending time together.
As dusk set over the tiny village, they walked down the cobblestone path toward their destination. In the distance, they could see Hogwarts rising majestically. The numerous windows were glowing with light, illuminating the castle as the dark of night began to surround it.
They walked into Madam Puddifoot's Tea Shop, and sat down in a corner table. Madam Puddifoot walked over to the table and set down a couple of menus.
"It is a rare sight to see students here during the summer months!" Madam Puddifoot said, "And two students so young as you! What is the occasion?"
"My thirteenth birthday," Ginny said.
"Wonderful," Madam Puddifoot said, "Happy birthday, miss. What can I get you to drink to begin with?"
Harry and Ginny both ordered hot butterbeer. Madam Puddifoot waved her wand a few times toward the kitchens, and two large glasses of the frothy golden-brown liquid. They ordered their meals, then she left them to be alone. Harry cast a Muffliato charm toward the rest of the room so they could talk out loud without being overheard.
"You know, it just hit me," Ginny said, glancing around the restaurant, as she once again relaxed against Harry.
"What?" Harry asked.
"Everything we discussed that day we first came back," Ginny said, "In less than a year it will hopefully all be finished."
"Hopefully," Harry said. "Ginny... you know there's a chance something could go wrong."
"I know... but I have faith," Ginny said; then she raised her head from his shoulder and peered at him with one raised eyebrow. "You're worried, aren't you?"
"I'd be crazy not to be," Harry said. "So many things have already changed. This next year is crucial. If the timeline doesn't follow like it should, it may get unpredictable."
"Harry," Ginny said, "Don't worry about that right now. If a roadblock comes, we'll find our way around it. Today's already been tough. I just want to spend the rest of my birthday happy. I don't want to discuss the unpredictability of the future, I don't want to discuss 'what-if'. I don't want to hear it tonight.
Harry smiled and nodded. "Alright."
"Thank you," Ginny said.
Ginny kissed him softly, and he returned the kiss. Their kiss lingered so long that when they backed away, Madam Puddifoot was walking over to them with two trays of food levitated in front of her. Harry dropped the Muffliato Charm just as Madam Puddifoot arrived. She set the trays in front of them, and Harry paid for the meal.
"Dessert is on the house for the birthday girl and her guest," Madam Puddifoot said, "Just inform me when you are ready. Special is Apple cobbler."
Harry and Ginny thanked her, and she walked away. Harry then reapplied the charm.
"So," he said, as he started on his meal, "What should we discuss."
Ginny shrugged and took a bite of her chicken breast. "I don't know. The weather?"
Harry raised an eyebrow, and Ginny swallowed and giggled.
"Pretty pathetic, I suppose," she said, with a grin, "Here we are celebrating my birthday with a dinner just between the two of us, and the only subject on our minds is the future."
"Which, according to you, we can't discuss," Harry said, with a grin.
"I suppose we could discuss our wedding," Ginny said.
Harry winced. "Not right now."
"Then when, Harry?" Ginny asked, "We have exactly one year. We both agreed -"
Harry shrugged and bit into his steak. Ginny narrowed her eyes as she looked at him.
"Don't you dare say it, Harry," Ginny said.
"I might not be here a year from now," Harry said.
"Impossible," Ginny said, "We can't die unless we both die at the same time, remember? I have no plans on dying, Harry!"
"I have to die in order for this stupid thing inside me to go away, Ginny!" Harry retorted, "Remember that? If it doesn't go away, Voldemort can't die."
Ginny opened her mouth to say something, then changed her mind. Harry winced when he noticed her eyes began to mist over.
"Ginny, I'm sorry," Harry said. "You were right. This is exactly why we shouldn't discuss this today. It's your birthday and -"
"How long were you holding that one in, Harry?" Ginny asked. "It was quite hidden in there. I couldn't even reach that thought of yours."
"I don't know, Ginny," Harry said. "Maybe it has always been there."
"We didn't come back in time just to fail," Ginny said, "That isn't my fate, and it isn't yours either. Okay?"
Harry shrugged, then winced when he noticed Ginny glare at him.
"Okay," he said.
"Good," Ginny said.
She pecked him on the lips and returned to her meal.
"Happy Birthday, Ginny," Harry said.
Ginny smiled. As Harry sat there, slowly eating his meal, he only hoped it wouldn't be the last time they celebrated her birthday.
Technically, it isn't, Harry! There's still Ginny's party!
I hate when my mind goes blank when I write chapters. It is what leads to writer's block. In fact Ginny's "pretty pathetic" line, is a nod to what I was thinking while writing this last scene. All I could think about them discussing is the future, but I wanted them to discuss something else, anything else! So yeah, that line was how I was feeling!
Next chapter: Ginny's party, and then a minor time-skip to Diagon Alley to buy supplies for the school year at Hogwarts. I just want to get to Hogwarts! I spend way too long writing summer scenes!
Hope you liked this chapter!