Title: Strings of Fate

Author: Knife Hand

Feedback: Constructive feedback appreciated, flames unappreciated

Spoilers: Nothing Specific, general for first few books.

Rating: R

Disclaimer: I do not own Hermione, or Luna, or Ginny, or Cho, or... I would buy them all but I am broke.

Summary: Being raised only by his Aunt, Harry comes to Hogwarts not only knowing about the Wizarding World, but with a kind of training no one at the school is expecting.

A/N: this chapter is a bit more R rated than the previous chapters.

The seven cloaked and hooded figures stood outside their target's residence in the gently falling snow. The residence had the downstairs lights on, illuminating the windows and casting light rectangles out onto the tiny front garden and the footpath.

"Why this one and not the other?" one of the figures asked with a gravelly voice.

"The other will be punished in another way." The lead figure replied. "There are plans for that one. This one's an example."

A moment later the seven figures moved into the residence, and a few seconds later the screaming started. By the time the screaming stopped, ten minutes later, the last voice had a wet and broken sound to it as if their vocal chords had ruptured. By that stage even the bravest of the neighbours, like the ones who had contacted the DMLE, were cowed into fearful inaction by the screams. Within seconds of the last scream stopping the seven figures were gone and moments later the Rapid Response Aurors of the DMLE arrived.

Kathryn Templeton was sitting at her desk in the Dispatch Office, just off to the side of her Floo connection. Across from her at his desk was Jonathan Sampson, who had been her 'partner' for the last five years. Dispatch Officers did not technically have partners but Kathryn and Jonathan had done the same shifts for five years and were now always mentioned together, as if a single entity, in scheduling and memos.

It had been a slow night when the first call came through to Kathryn's Floo, a second later another call came through to Jonathan's Floo. Shocked as they were at the reports, they were professional and, after checking that the reports were about the same event, they sent a joint report to the Rapid Response Auror Officer on Duty.

Auror Johansson was the Rapid Response Officer on Duty when the report came through. Reading the report, Johansson's first instinct was to reject the reports as bogus, either a joke by the Dispatch Officers (which was frowned upon but sometimes happened) or a drill by The Boss, until he read the names of the Dispatch Officers. Templeton and Sampson were the most honest and dedicated of the Dispatch Officers, and The Boss would never use them or their names for a drill.

A moment after reading the names Templeton and Sampson, Johansson realised how serious the reports were and hit the alarm. Four minutes later the Rapid Response Auror Team on duty was assembled and portkeyed to the location of the disturbance. Markson and Highgate went in first, followed by Johansson and the rest of the team. The downstairs were clear but there were clear signs of a disturbance. As the team's point pair, Markson and Highgate went upstairs first. A few moments later both Markson and Highgate came back down, both looking a bit green around the gills.

"Clear but… I can't describe it." Markson said, barely holding himself together.

Highgate made for the front door and emptied her stomach all over the small garden.

Johansson left the rest of the team downstairs and went upstairs. When he searched the Master Bedroom he realised what had shaken two of his best Aurors. He backed out of the blood-soaked room, swallowing hard to try and settle himself. There were chunks of meat, only vaguely identifiable as human body parts, scattered around the room and the eyeless heads of the Flint Family lined up along the bed. Mr and Mrs Flint's heads were bracketing their two children; the teenaged Marcus, who had been high on the list of owners of Contraband during The Boss' sweep at Hogwarts, and nine-year-old Jenny.

Johansson went back downstairs, gathered up his team, sealed the house for the Investigations Aurors to investigate and portkeyed back to the Auror Office. After emptying his own stomach in the men's toilets, he sat down to write up the report of the action.

Amelia flooed into her office at around ten am on the morning after the Ministry Party. She did so every morning after one of the big Ministry Parties for half an hour or so in order to deal with the inevitable politically motivated charges from rivals attending the party. Almost all of these 'charges' were thrown out but it was part of her job to be seen to be dealing with it.

The third piece of parchment in her inbox, after the traditional charge and counter charge between Crouch and Williamson from their end of party fight, was Johansson's report. After reading through the report, with the attached Dispatch Report from Templeton and Sampson, Amelia stood and went out to the Bullpen and the nearest Auror, as he secretary was not in.

"Simmons!" Amelia called. "I want Moody, Proudfoot, Scrimgeour, Johansson, Templeton and Sampson in my office in ten minutes."

"Boss, Proudfoot is still up in Hogwarts." Simmons reminded.

"Right, we need him there." Amelia mused. "Shacklebolt then."

"On it, Boss." Simmons said, running for the Dispatch office.

Six hours after she had gone in to the office for 'just half an hour', Amelia finally flooed home. Susan was waiting for her at home, but Harry, Dudley and Petunia had gone back to Privet Drive to prepare for Christmas Day when the Lovegoods were coming for lunch.

"What happened, Auntie?" Susan asked.

"Marcus Flint and his family were killed last night during the Party." Amelia announced.

"I'll owl Harry." Susan said, turning to head to fetch the Family Owl.

Amelia sat down on the couch and time passed her by until Petunia crouched down in front of her. Harry was standing off to the side with Susan.

"Nia?" Amelia said, slightly confused by Petunia's presence, not knowing how much time passed.

"Ami, what happened?" Petunia asked.

"The Flint Family were killed. Horribly." Amelia said. "Flint got named by Proudfoot to force the deal through with the Hogwarts Board. Did I get that Family killed, Nia?"

"No, Ami." Petunia replied. "This was a warning."

"We don't need a warning to know these monsters need to be stopped." Amelia snapped.

"It wasn't to you, Auntie Amelia." Harry replied. "It was to their own supporters."

"What, not to step out of line?" Amelia asked.

"No." Petunia replied. "Don't get publicly caught."