The French wizard introduced to them as De la Salle lead them to a corridor with several rooms that were unmistakably holding cells. They hadn't gotten their wands back, but as Mr Delacour had had a mostly friendly expression they weren't too worried yet. "Monsieur Black, pleaze to be entering thiz room?" De la Salle opened one of the cells for Sirius.
"Do you mean to separate us?" Sirius looked worried... while nowhere near as bad as Azkaban, this did feel awfully close to those horrible years he spent there.
"Eet eez routine, monsieur. We will "ave to interrogate you one-at-ze-time to make sure your storiez match up." A worried look on his face, Sirius entered the cell and the door was closed on him.
"Monsieur Lupin, si'l vous plait?" Remus was shown the next cell.
"I will not be separated from my daughter," Emma argued.
"And I won't leave Harry," Hermione grabbed both her friend and her mother by the arm, a fierce look of protest on her face as she regarded De la Salle.
"Madame, Mademoiselle, eet eez only for a leetle time," De la Salle tried.
"The answer is no, or non if you prefer," Emma glared.
"Well, zey are children... bon. I will let zem stay with you, madame. Pleaze remember you are not to attempt to theenk of a story together unteel ze questioning?"
Emma nodded her consent, as did the teens, and they were put in the same holding cell for now. De la Salle went to the monitoring station, and started listening in on the five to make sure they did not break the rules. Meanwhile Jean Delacour had flooed to his superiors to see what they could do about getting Britain's most wanted wizard in the company of arguably the most well known teenager in the wizarding world on their soil asking for asylum.
In his house in England, Snape prepared the ritual circle and placed Black's old coin purse in the middle.
He cast the location spell, and a faint impression of the Cliffs of Dover past by him, then the rush of the waters of the English Channel, and finally the French coast of Calais. A sneer passed over his face, so Black had tried to run to the cowardly French? Well he wouldn't be safe there for long.
Snape put away the coin purse again, and went back up to his living room, passing by his Death Eater robes. While he liked the "uniform', his master had always impressed on them never to wear them outside of Britain as he could not afford a war with the rest of Europe until Britain was fully secured.
On the roof opposite him, the sniper tensed as he saw movement again. "Suspect is back in sight, over."
"Affirmative. Interception team should be arriving any moment now. If suspect makes attempts to leave, disable him. Over."
The sniper focused on the lower half of the shadow he could see through the drapes, hoping he would not have to take his shot.
Inside the house, Snape rummaged through a cabinet searching for some tools. Finally he found the magic dampening manacles and the silver dagger. The Wolf he would kill outright, but he wanted to keep the Dog alive to take back to England, and introduce him to Macnair's axe or some other kind of fun. The Dog and his friends had messed with him for all seven of his school years, and he was looking forward to taking care of every painful memory by torturing the Dog. Snape didn't worry about the brat or the Mudblood: a simple stunner would take them out, then he could just hand over the brat to Dumbledore, and deliver the Mudblood to the incestuous Carrow twins for them to have some fun.
Snape put the manacles and dagger in one of his expanded pockets, and moved to the back door to apparate out.
The sniper cursed as he lost sight of his target. "Control, target has moved to the back of the house. Do we have eyes on that side, over?"
"Interception team is almost ready. Keep watching the front and shoot to disable at the earliest opportunity, over."
Snape stepped into the decaying small garden at the back, and tried to focus his magic for the long apparition jump across water, but before he could focus enough energy his concentration was disturbed by a shout:
"Snape! Put down your weapons and raise your hands above your head!" At least five men clad in all-black clothes had Muggle firearms trained on him, and he was lit by the beams of their torches. And to make matters worse, he could hear one of those flying things – a helicopter he thought they were called – getting closer.
"Good evening gentlemen," he said with a sneer. "What brings you to my back garden?" Ever so slowly he tried to move his right hand to his side, to allow him to whip out his wand.
"Cut the crap Snape! Drop your weapon and surrender, we will not hesitate to shoot!"
"Very well gentlemen..." Snape slowly made as if to shrug off his bag, but instead whipped out his wand. At that moment several things happened at once: a bullet hit him in his lower stomach, shot by one of the Muggles as they saw him make a suspicious move, three others rushed towards him, and Snape himself apparated away with a loud crack, leaving splattered blood behind... as well as three of the fingers of his left hand as the bullet impact had broken his concentration at the last, critical moment.
"What the hell happened!?" The men rushed to the spot Snape had been standing a moment before, finding only blood, and the remains of three fingers that seemed somehow cut off.
"He... he disappeared! Impossible!" The confused strike team kept their guard up, even as the helicopter finally arrived, and they began to search the house.
Snape re-appeared not in Calais as he had intended, but instead was thrown several kilometres off course and slammed into the ground in the Belgian nature reserve near the village of De Panne, just across the French border. The combined shock of a bullet in his abdomen, the loss of three fingers due to splinching, and the too hard landing, caused him to pass out.
"Cornelius? Thank Merlin you are finally answering your floo!" Amelia Bones sounded out of breath still. For the past few minutes she had been attempting to get through to the Minister, but his various secretaries had kept stalling and would not allow the floo to connect directly to the Minister's Office.
"Amelia, what the hell do you think you are doing?" Fudge angrily bit back at her. "Do you have any idea how much trouble you are in right now? Step through already!"
The DMLE head frowned, then stepped through Dumbledore's floo, and arrived in the Minister's Office... to be faced by Fudge, a smirking Malfoy... and Dumbledore, looking smug as ever.
"Cornelius! Quick, call up the guards, I have placed Dumbledore under arrest!"
"Amelia, it is clear you've lost your mind," Fudge countered. "Hand over your badge, you are on suspension for now."
"But..." the witch was momentarily lost for words, then took a deep breath. "Cornelius, I don't know what that man has been telling you, but I assure you I have good reasons to arrest him, he –"
"It is as I told you Cornelius, her grudge against Snape has caused her to forget her position," Dumbledore interjected.
"Amelia, your badge, now. Or do I need to call in the guards and have you removed from the Ministry by force?" Cornelius demanded of her.
"Don't think this is over," Amelia answered with clipped tones, as she reluctantly handed her badge to the smirking Fudge.
"Thank you. You can come in now, Rufus," Fudge called to the door. Through stepped Amelia Bones' second, Rufus Scrimgeour, head of the Auror Office. "Madam Bones is dismissed from her position for now, and I'll have to ask you to take over for now. Please escort Madam Bones to the floo so she can go home, then recall your Aurors from their illegal incursion in Hogwarts Rufus."
"Yes Minister," Scrimgeour nodded, and waited for Amelia to leave the office. "I apologize Amelia, orders are orders you'll understand," he said in a neutral tone as he guided his boss to the elevators.
"Rufus, I understand your position but you know as well as I do that something is seriously wrong here. At least let Proudfoot continue the investigation?" She was fuming, blast that fried chicken Fawkes! Dumbledore had obviously immediately gone to Fudge, and had managed to convince the fool to take actions against her.
"I will see what can be done. Amelia, you understand I cannot allow you to have any contact with the Department while you are suspended?"
"Oh I understand Rufus," Amelia snorted. "I'll be back before you know it though... if Fudge and Dumbledore think they can shut me up like this they have another thing coming. Just wait for the next Wizengamot session!"
Rufus watched Amelia floo away, finally letting a smile appear on his face. While part of him was unhappy with seeing Amelia taken out like this, he was now acting Department Head, and thus one step closer to power.
In a holding cell in Calais, Emma Granger had fallen asleep on the bed, the emotional turmoil getting to her. They had no idea how long they had been there, only that first Sirius, and a while later Remus as well, had been taken from their cells to another place presumably to be interrogated. But no-one had come for the Muggle woman or the two teens just yet. The two teens in question were sitting on the floor a bit away, whispering.
"What do you think will happen to us now?" Hermione asked.
"Dunno. I hope they'll let Sirius walk, he is innocent after all, and will let us stay at his French home for now," Harry shrugged.
"And then? Not that I am complaining for getting away from Hogwarts, with Dumbledore, Ronald, and that murdering bastard..." Hermione felt tears coming back as she thought of Snape and how he had murdered her father.
"Hush..." Harry wrapped his arms around her, "it'll be all right Hermione. Hopefully the French will be able to help us. And even if they won't... we're still together, and safe for now. And I will never let anything bad happen to you."
"Oh Harry!" Hermione turned her head, and kissed him deeply on the lips. Harry responded to this, and where Hermione had been close to crying only a moment before, now they both seemed to be more interested in other matters.
Amelia Bones paced through her study at Bones Manor. Dumbledore, Fudge, and Scrimgeour thought he could get away with discarding her like that? Well then they had seriously underestimated this particular witch... she picked up the Muggle telephone that she had had installed only a few months ago... just in case.
"Tony Blair speaking. Who is this, and how did you get this number?"
"Tony? It's Amelia... remember me from back in Durham?"
"Amelia? Wow this is a blast from the past, I haven't heard from you in years, ever since you left for that school of yours. How did you ever track me down?"
"I have my ways Tony... I always kept track of you."
"Should I be worried?" A laugh followed over the phone. "Wow Amelia, we have to meet up some time. We used to walk to school together, you to the DHS and I to Chorister..."
"I remember Tony. I hear your political career is going well."
"You can say that again, I am now the leader of the Labour Party!"
"Yes I heard... that's actually sort of why I contacted you."
"Oh you need some help Amelia? Well I can definitely try. What is the problem?"
"It is perhaps... no definitely best if we talk in person. Do you have time for a face to face meeting any time soon?"
"Well I'm free now, but you'd have to get down to London of course. You know where our offices are based?"
"Thank you. I'll be there momentarily."
Amelia hung up the phone, and concentrated on a street she knew nearby, then walked to the political party's office. The guards affirmed her identity – Amelia always carried Muggle identification since she had to interact with the Muggle police from time to time – and let her in to see the party leader.
"Amelia, wow... err you look different than I remember," Tony Blair greeted her as he was led into his office.
"No need to watch your words Tony, I know I aged quickly... it's been a rough few decades," Amelia admitted with self-deprecating humour. She was no older than the Muggle politician, but an active Auror career had cost her most of the vision in one eye, which was why she wore a monocle, and she had turned prematurely grey after her brother Edgar and his entire family had been killed, except for young Susan who had been staying with her friend Hannah Abbott at the time.
"Well take a seat, take a seat. Now why did you come to see me?"
"Tony... what I am about to tell you could be considered a state secret. I assure you Her Majesty the Queen is aware, as is Prime Minister Major and a few members of his staff."
"Sounds serious," Tony said after a slight pause. "Are you sure you should be telling me this?"
"Tony... I have no-one else to turn to," Amelia sighed. "I need to speak with PM Major at the earliest opportunity, perhaps even with Her Majesty herself... it is a matter of national security."
"Why don't you start at the beginning then? I promise I will keep an open mind."
"Very well then... Tony... back when I left for that special school, it was not just a private school. You see, I have special talents... oh Merlin I'll just say it... Tony, I'm a witch."
The politician blinked slowly, "I beg your pardon, I am sure I misunderstood."
Amelia whipped out her wand, and waved it, saying "Avis'. A flock of bluebirds appeared, and as the astonished Tony Blair looked on, Amelia began telling him about the Wizarding World.
"Wow Mooney, do you think they are even aware her mother is sitting right there watching them?"
"Probably not Padfoot, or their hands would still be above their clothes," Remus answered his friend in an equally jovial tone.
The two teens rushed to move away from each other, Harry's hands leaving Hermione's lower back and stomach, and Hermione's slipping out from under Harry's shirt where they had been inspecting his respectable abdominal muscles, Quidditch tended to be a hell of a workout and during the summer Harry kept in shape with gardening. The teens had blushes that were even redder than Harry's new hair colour, as they saw Emma, Sirius, Remus, and the Frenchman Delacour looking at them, smiles and promises of teasing on their faces.
"Well, now that I have the attention of everyone," Jean Delacour started, a smile on his face as he looked at the two heavily blushing teens, "I have good news. Monsieur Black was willing to testify under Veritaserum, and has convinced us he is indeed innocent. Monsieur Lupin confirmed his story, as well as the reason why you all had to leave so sudden."
"Wow that is great!" Harry got to his feet, a happy look on his face. "So we can leave now for Sirius' home!"
"Non, I am afraid not just yet," Jean stopped him. "You see while La France is quite willing to give Monsieur Black asylum pending an official court case, and Monsieur Lupin is only guilty of abandoning his post at Hogwarts and is thus free to go as he pleases, the two of you give us a problem."
"How... how do you mean sir?" Hermione asked. She was still a bit flushed from the make out session, internally chiding herself for forgetting where they were – and she just knew her mother would give her a stern talking to once they were in private.
"You are both still under compulsory education, at least until you have your O.W.L.s. While we are willing to allow you to remain in France and will protect you from... unsavoury elements in the British government, you will have to continue your education at Beauxbatons."
"But... but I don't speak French!" Harry complained.
"Neither do I," Hermione admitted.
"There are ways around that. However the bigger issue is that we cannot simply enrol a British student that was expelled –"
"What?!" Hermione squeaked.
"– let alone the famous Boy-who-Lived," Jean Delacour continued as if Hermione had kept silent, "not only will this allow Dumbledore to demand we return his students, it will also possibly paint a target at Beauxbatons for any of your other enemies."
"Can we get to the point already? Hermione there looks like she's about to explode... either that or Harry has pushed the right buttons she is about to explode in a different way," Sirius joked. The end of the sentence earned him a smack on the head from Remus, as well as an angry glare by both Granger women.
"Ah, amour de jeunesse," Jean said with a smile on his face. "Very well. Hermione, you can easily be disguised as you are not so famous... a hair cut and a colour change, and no-one should recognise you I think. Hmm... perhaps a spell to reduce those rather prominent front teeth as well," he added, either not noticing or ignoring Hermione's flinch. "As for you Harry, Mr Black and Mr Lupin both told me you are a metamorphmagus and can easily hold two other forms. Is this true?"
"Yes..." Harry didn't like where this seemed to be going.
"Excellent. And these are your current, base form, the look that Mr Black describes as "a clone of James Potter", and a female form, yes?"
"Oh no, don't tell me you –"
"Bon. Then as soon as we Monsieur Black, Monsieur Lupin, and Madame Granger settled, Beauxbatons will accept two new female students."
"Hope Hermione's into girls eh Harry?" Sirius added, earning him another smack on the head from Remus, and another by Emma for good measure.
A/N: Thanks for reading and following, favouriting, or reviewing. I don't reply to all reviews, but I do read them all. Some interesting discussions through PM :)