Chapter 30 – The Storm has Come
Ambassador Delacour sat in the office of the head of the chief auror of France. He was reading a report.
Nova flamed in the Chosen One.
Three aurors were in the office. One was wearing blue-black dragonhide pants, nearly the same color as his favorite boots, a stylish shirt, obviously new and expensive, and a vest matching the pants. A fortune in dragonhide as he well knew. He knew that auror. Harry stifled a sneer.
He and Bill had always gotten on before. Was he going to be down to one Weasley friend after this?
"Lord Potter! The magical shopping lane of Paris, Toussaint's was just attacked by death eaters. They appear to be tracking your lady wife. These aurors were the first on scene. As you can tell from their appearance, none of these people were on duty, but all acted in defense of the general public.
The witch was wearing a very short skirt and very high heels and a scowl. Unless she was undercover, Harry thought that yes, it was obvious that she was off-duty and wanted to be elsewhere.
Bill pulled out three stasis boxes.
Harry took a cleansing breath. Nova had refused to say much but he had the comfort of knowing that Hermione was safe before he got there.
"I would like someone to question these men that were captured at Fafner's Fashions." Bill said turning over the boxes to the head of the French aurors, as was proper procedure for any ICW auror that was not in Britain.
"Unless France has a better formula for truth serum than Britain, we should take them to the goblins for questioning." Harry explained about the 'spill your guts' version that the underground dwellers made.
"I would like to talk to Lady Potter before we agree to this, and see if she knows anything else!" The chief auror demanded.
"Nova, please bring Hermione here." Harry said aloud for the benefit of all.
"Fancy footwear, Potter."
"Yeah. They match your pants."
Bill could sense the tension, but not the reason for it.
Hermione was in a stylish robe, new handbag, hat, jewelry, all exquisite and tasteful and perfect for a highborn lady.
"M. Delacour. You asked to see me?"
"I did, Lady Potter. I wanted to ask you a few questions."
Hermione handed over a memory. "This is from just before we saw the death eaters to when my phoenix took me out of Toussaint's, monsieur."
The chief auror took out a display pensieve. Harry had to watch as the knight fought well and did indeed act to protect not just Hermione and Fleur, but since he captured a third, he clearly had gone out into the more open fighting as well. He was good.
The aurors were also impressed and the witch was now eyeing the man in dragonhide with a bit more than just respect.
"If you have more questions for me, I am a student of Beauxbatons. My grandmere, Nicole Dubois went there. I should have gone there for all of my schooling."
She gave Harry a cool look.
"Very good. You were born in Lyon? The records have a mistake as they say that you are barely thirteen madam."
"The records are correct. We were caught in a temporal flux. We spent four and a half years roughly while the calendar went forward four and a half months. There are consequences. Some of us still having problems with anger. I know that I am having issues. It is very easy to become angry. Especially when I am attacked."
Harry cleared his throat. "Ragnok and I have an agreement. If he allows me to use his potions, we can question suspects all day in Gringott's but at the end of the day, any prisoners are tried for goblin crimes. If they are guilty, they are put to death. I could bring you or M. Delacour with me, however. Alastor Moody usually does our interrogations."
"Death does not seem too harsh to me. As for questioning, I trust Mad-eye to be very thorough. He is a good man. A child was nearly cut in two with a blasting curse. If not for this witch's quick thinking, the child would be dead."
"I just hope that the department replaces my handbag. One hundred and fifty galleons down the drain! For a good cause, of course!" The witch held up the evidence that said designer handbag was indeed lost in defense of others.
Harry dug in his kit. Emergency gold. "There should be exactly five hundred it there, madam auror. Please, you saved a child. That is very impressive. And even if it isn't my fault, I still feel like this attack is."
She accepted the gold with thanks, brightening. Harry turned to his wife.
"Hermione, please. If we hadn't fought, you wouldn't even be here!"
"Fleur and I wanted to go shopping! Bill went with us as a friend. Does an enemy put himself between you and danger? Non! Bill did that. Bill is my friend. You have no reason to be jealous!"
Bill stood now. "Harry? What's going on? I never, I mean, Hermione and I? That's crazy!"
Harry ignored him and turned to his wife.
"Can we go home together? Make up? Please?" Harry asked.
Hermione met his eyes. All she saw was anger, rage. He frightened her right now. If he hit her with a blast of accidental magic like he had Etienne that one time, she could lose the baby. She thought of Madam Maxine's garden.
"Harry, I'm angry at you, and you are angry at me. You are so angry all of the time now. You frighten me. I will write you, but until you are calmer, I think I need to get back to school."
"M. Delacour, please give my regards to Fleur. Bill, thank you for protecting me. I'm sorry that our trip was ruined today. You were very brave. I need to go back now."
"Fleur had a lovely time before all this." Hermione confided.
Bill looked at M. Delacour. "And now I become the villain and am to endure the questions. Thank you so much. So kind." Bill had also endured French lessons, and he wasn't too bad. He spoke well for a non-native.
"Unless there is anything else? Au revoir." Hermione flamed out. Bill was scowling in general, and M. Delacour and Harry were scowling at Bill.
After getting the death eaters and Mad-eye to Gringott's, Harry made his way home too, leaving Bill to his fate.
Etienne read the missive with horror. Death Eaters in France! He had to work fast, get wards in place to protect his ancestral home.
All aurors were put on notice. Their department of mysteries would be working on a way to detect death eaters. Etienne hadn't known him for very many years, but always liked Remus Lupin and his quick mind. They had always worked well together, and he was one of the few of the knights who stayed his friend and talked to him during the dark days after the accident when he was just half a man.
Etienne knew that Remus had made a working dark mark detector. He wrote a note to his superior and gave him the contact information. Since he was the same man that was making the healing stones, there was no need to mention the knights at all. And he wrote a quick note to Remus warning him of incoming orders for his work. Including a request for one of those devices for himself, just as soon as possible.
That done, he needed to work to protect his ancestral home. Death eaters in France!
He paid a call to the gnome's shop. He did not spend much time at home. But when they heard his name it was all bowing and scraping and can we help you. They bowed to the money, not to him. Non, he had to put away the anger today, and concentrate. Two more weeks, and he would be free from a great burden.
His stepmother with her twisted politics! They disagreed about every single thing. In fact, it was only the fact that he knew that she was not his birth mother that kept him from total despair.
Her twisted morals! Taking the man that would be the next Minister of Magic to her bed when he was married! It was wrong! He was so embarrassed about it all to be associated with such people. His home!
This woman was nothing like his ancestors! And he had read about them extensively. Nothing!
She had lied to him! Pretended to be the woman who gave birth to him. Complained about the pain he had caused her. His father died when he was very young, so if Etienne had been told, he did not understand. Thank goodness that the trusts were ironclad and she only got her allowance. She couldn't even steal the artwork, or anything of value in any of the homes. Her oath and the elves were prevented that.
He never liked his father's second wife, but it was her own treatment of him that had led to this poor relationship. He was twenty. On his twenty first birthday, he inherited all. In two more weeks, just two more weeks, he could finally get her out of the chateaux. For the sake of his father and because he was a good person, he had made sure that she had a home to go to.
She had always gone rhapsodic over her childhood chateaux and its lovely grounds and its wonderful views, so he wanted to provide it for her if it wasn't too expensive. Perhaps prevent solicitor action in future.
Imagine his surprise when he found out the truth.
Deciding to purchase said home had to be influenced by his long term relationship with Remus Lupin though. The choice had to be inspired by a marauder. It was the six room home she had grown up in. With its postage stamp garden, and lower class surrounds.
He had found the house. It was in the south of France, in the city where she claimed to grow up. It had not been hard to purchase. Her brother still lived there. Etienne even offered him the deal of a lifetime. He was encouraged to stay there, rent free for the rest of his life. With his wife and their dogs, all seven of them. With the stipulation that he take his sister in without a fuss when she was evicted from her current home.
Etienne even put the house back into his name when he swore an oath that she would always be welcome there. And so all was arranged.
If she had tried to be kind, tried to be nice, she would have been showered in riches for the rest of her life.
But she had abused him, withheld food and love, hit him. Now he stood for truth and put his shield over innocents. The abuse of children was inexcusable to him, as was the abuse of spouse. Families were supposed to be about love. And for a short time in his life, he had it. He did. When he lived with Dan and Emma Granger. And that was long enough for him to have better idea of what he wanted for himself.
His poor father. The one thing he did remember about him was a phrase towards the end of his life.
"Your mother was the kindest sweetest person. And she loved me dearly. She loved me. She loved you. Oh, how she loved you. So full of love."
That statement had confused him as a child. It had touched his heart though, and he never forget it.
It wasn't until he found out that it was a stepmother and not birth mother in the chateaux that he understood those words.
The secret books of his family had nurtured him in those early days, helped him prepare. He was Chevalier. And one day, he would find the right witch and bring her to his castle, and he would treat her as a princess, even if she were a muggleborn without two knuts.
He had only one request. That she truly love him. He wanted to give love and be loved.
Death Eaters in France!
He would ask, carefully, and make sure that his queen was truly alright. If his gifted gold had been used to pay for this Bill Weasley he had better mind his manners. Etienne hadn't fought with him much, but he knew that he was a knight. Etienne didn't trust gossip, but he did trust Lady Potter's honor. And this man had better respect it.
Hermione was in her room at Beauxbatons wearing a silky robe of palest blue, nightwear that reminded her a bit of her new school robes.
She had fed Nova special treats, and thanked her for the swift rescue and all.
Nova was not happy with Harry. Deeply unhappy with him, and they needed to talk about it.
'He needs help, my bondmate! He is working, working, fighting all of the time. He is losing his ability to be nice to you! Either he needs to keep his distance from you until the final battle is done, or needs to put aside his anger. But he plays rough with you! He is a warrior, and you have a chick growing inside you. Which I haven't complained about! Why you didn't lay a nice egg, I don't know, but you are my companion and I won't say any more about that! But I don't like him right now.'
'Is it the time compression? I need to send a note to Xeno. And a note to Harry. You are right. He could hurt me, perhaps bad enough to lose the baby if he doesn't calm down. Until he is under control, I am keeping my distance.'
'Telling everyone that you are staying away may stop those wizards that eat death to leave you alone too.'
'Yes, that too.'
The Granger's did not need two elves to help in the shop. Abi and Tory were mates, so Harry was not going to separate them and Daisy, while wary of the phoenix wanted to stay with Master Harry Potter Sir if she could.
The Potter elves made a plan to rotate help as they all liked the Granger's and Harry instructed that any could go to them in an emergency. Dan and Emma both had useful prank wands, portkeys, and Grandmere Dubois stopping in from time to time to help. Among her other activities.
The death eaters captured in Paris had orders to bring Hermione Potter unharmed to the dark lord. They were not supposed to attack civilians, or cause mayhem, but one young wizard had aimed a stunner at a school girl who didn't look in the least like Hermione, and fighting broke out.
The French general populace didn't have a problem picking up a wand and firing back at death eaters. They might do it from upturned café tables or from behind a conjured half-wall, but those people fought back!
Gnomes were getting inundated with ward orders now from up and down France as word went out that death eaters were encroaching.
Hermione felt so guilty! She wrote a letter asking Alain Delacour if she should withdraw from school and stop being Fleur's friend. The tear-stained note said that she had never met anyone like his daughter, and she had been put into danger because of her friendship! She offered to pay for additional wards to his home and asked what she could do to make things better.
M. Delacour showed the letter to his friend who was the man running for Minister of Magic, Gerard Beauchamp.
"You have powerful allies Alain! This letter shows that Hermione Potter is a good witch, not just a healer or stuck up witch with power and gold. Write to her and reassure her that she is welcome in France, and if she is hunted here then we are willing to help her."
Alain fingered the precious memory that Luna had given him. It was Albus Dumbledore's plans for world domination, step by step. It did not include how he had extended his life, there were several strong wizards that were very long lived. They both knew that Beauxbatons would be a likely target with or without Hermione there.
"Madame Potter wants to do an interview, but asked me my opinion first. Here is her letter to me."
'Ever since I became involved with Harry Potter and his family, my life has been in danger. I am a healer! I would be happy to help French aurors too just as I have helped others. But I don't know if I can stay in the country of my birth as I bring danger to belle France just by being here!'
'I want to do an interview and talk about the dangers to the common witch and wizard from these monsters! They will kill men, women and children for their ideals.'
'I need to warn them. They only want healing to go to the right people, and they have achieved that in Britain. They only want schooling for the right people, and they are working on that in Britain. They want to rule muggles and have them be their slaves. And most of the people in Britain do not see the horror of this.'
'I will leave if the people ask me to in order to keep peace, to preserve the safety of France. But if these people will come after me here, who will they be after next?'
'This country has dangerous neighbors. You need to be warned. En garde! Please, please! I will do as you ask, leave or stay, but you need to be warned. Let me know if you want me to keep these fears quiet for now. But I will act as you direct.'
"An interview? Would that be a good or bad thing for the campaign? Right now, let us ask her to wait and see before talking to the press. I want to create plans first, have a response ready for after she does. We play this right, we'll have a solid plan and solid answers while Pierre stands there and gapes 'Death eaters? What death eaters?' Yes! This could work well." Gerard beamed at his friend.
Alain smiled. He didn't like using allies for advancing politics, but this was different. France needed a plan, and he would ask Healer Potter to give him a little time.
"Gerard, wasn't your granddaughter born with a problem that the healers couldn't fix?"
"Yes, Marie is well over three now. Wait, you don't think?"
"Have a photographer for before and after. I doubt we can do so during. Willing to try?"
"I will contact Madame Maxine immediately!"
Alain was able to contact Bill who assembled several ICW aurors who had helped Hermione in the past.
Hermione was asked to come to the ambassador's office in the Ministry of Magic. Fleur came in person to the school with the note, so of course Hermione invited her along. Ekaterina wasn't about to go without letting Hans know first, so they did. Just one of the benefits of a phoenix companion.
There, sitting in a chair with long dark hair and violet eyes was a precious three and a half year old little witch holding a stuffed Pegasus. It was clear why the healer had been called here.
The girl's leg was malformed, and a full four inches shorter than the other.
Hermione looked around, and saw that she had a group of seasoned helpers. She watched as Bill noticed Fleur come in and they exchanged smiles. Fleur had a very good first impression of the man.
Hermione led the girl over to the man's leather couch, covering the cool surface with a soft blanket.
"I am Hermione. What is your name?"
"Marie. This is Max." She held up the toy.
"Marie, Max can stay near you but I need to scan all of you so can you please put him there? Thank you!"
A curse! Maybe when the mother was pregnant. Oh, the poor little girl! But she could fix this, she knew.
Cathan Edwards bundled in. The aurors that knew him started to bow. Hermione curtseyed.
"Who do we have here? Marie?" He redid the same scans.
"What would be the traditional treatment, apprentice?" he asked, ever the teacher.
"Give her a sugar-free lollypop and tell her that she is very beautiful and send her on her way."
"You are going to try to heal her?"
"Yes sir. I place the stones here." She directed her next comments to the assembled people "Think love and health. Chant Sanus Marie and point your wands at the stone."
Nova flew over to the girl's head, and the chanting began. Because there were other injuries that were not as visible, Hermione did the complete healing. Her heart that would have failed at eight or so, her liver, her kidneys. Everything scanned fine after they were done. Her legs were both even and perfect and they matched. Hermione had removed the girl's shoes, and now the right one did not fit. Her grandfather proudly did the transfiguration repair to make it right.
He had helped, and now with tears in his eyes held up his little granddaughter. He walked over to Hermione and drew her into a family hug.
Cathan scanned the little girl and agreed with Hermione. She would live to see Beauxbatons or whatever school the family sent her too baring death eaters of course.
Fleur had been standing very close to Bill during the procedure. He looked down at her, impressed with her strong magical aura, and the feeling of love associated with it. It was different, nice. It was not her first time helping but Hermione noticed the difference of her friend's special magic as part of the symphony. She was so sweet So full of love!
Bill took Fleur's hand and kissed it with panache. "I look forward to dinner this coming Saturday."
Hermione smiled. She hadn't heard about it. Fleur tried to then include her friend.
"She can't. Sorry. But Hermione has a previous engagement in Chicago with me. One that she has been putting off!" Cathan Edwards intoned.
"Thank you for the invitation though. I hope you have a nice time. Thank you all for your help. I need to go back to my room."
Hermione was pale. Nova begged her to eat something. Alain had seen it too and summoned a tray. Hermione sat and ate the food that Alain got for her. That little girl had needed a lot of help. The girl's mother had been kept in the next room in case it didn't work. She knew that her daughter did not have a long time to live. When Marie ran, ran to her mother, she wept tears of joy.
Photographers were on hand to take pictures of the little girl, Hermione in school robes and of course the wizard and witch helpers. Fleur was surprised when her father allowed her to be included. His comment that she was growing up and had helped, so of course she deserved to be in the picture.
When the journalist commented that he was surprised that Harry Potter was not there, Hermione frowned. "We are separated for a time until we can reconcile our differences."
"May I print this, Madame Potter?"
"Please do!" 'Maybe my husband's enemies will leave me be, let me do my healing. I am no threat to them' was not spoken. She was going to wait, as Alain asked.
Word of the death eater attack had not yet spread. Alain and Gerard needed to work fast.
In the meantime, the mother came up to Hermione and handed her a draft of ten thousand galleons.
"This is just a down payment, a token to let you know that we can and will pay you for this treatment. If it extends my child's life even a short time…"
Hermione looked at Cathan. "I accept this as payment in full madam. I was willing to do the work for free as a gesture of good faith for the people of France." Hermione noticed the quality clothes that the family was wearing, the magical toy from an exclusive shop. This would not impoverish them.
The warmth and love and good feelings here were the exact opposite that Harry endured as he went through another briefing, another intelligence gathering meeting where plans and strategies were talked to death but nothing was done.
Luna returned to school Monday morning happy and glowing.
"We went to the island to check on the progress of everything after Neville was done at headquarters. So beautiful!"
"We had a busy weekend ourselves. Let's get to choir, and we can chat on the way." Hermione suggested. Fleur nodded, and they went chattering away as though they had been apart a month.
Draco stopped Harry before going into breakfast. "You might want to eat in your rooms. The Daily Prophet reprinted an article from Le Monde with pictures."
Harry stormed in and terrified a third year 'Puff by taking his paper. He pulled a handful of coins, far more than the newspaper's worth and put them into the child's hand before stalking to his normal seat.
The Daily Prophet hadn't reprinted the article though. No note of healing. Just pictures of Bill, Fleur and Hermione hugging and the paper talking about how Hermione had found 'true love' in the arms of another.
The table at Ravenclaw exploded. This time, bits of wood went flying. Only children's natural magical shielding and reflexes prevented serious injury, but there were still going to be flesh wounds for Poppy to treat.
Harry knew the house where the greatest concentration of death eaters were. He called for his elf, and made his way to Gringott's.
He sent Tory to fetch a hundred thousand galleons from his Swiss account, the one set aside just for this. Ten million galleons were in that account, minus what he took now.
He was shown to the leader of the goblins with little fuss.
"Great one. I grow weary of sitting and waiting. I must needs act or be counted as less than a man."
"Rise warrior, and speak." Ragnok's encouraging smile would have most wizards looking for the loo.
"How would you like to start a war?"
The raid in Toussaint's hadn't gone right! The girl had dodged his stunner and he got knocked out! He was lucky, forgotten in that back alley in Paris. He activated his portkey home, head aching, and arrived to a battery of questions from his superior.
He didn't know that he had been questioned, tagged and released, the only death eater not found guilty of theft by the goblins. He didn't know that Harry had tracked him to the house, not much of a manor that housed hundreds of lesser death eaters.
Lightning started to pour down in accurate and powerful strikes. The thunder pounded the grounds and the house, shaking it to the foundation, shattering windows, and the fire and winds and lightning came down. The whirlwind and storm destroyed everything.
No need to try to overcome wards in a separate maneuver with this spell. No need for a dark mark to get in. Nothing could keep out the fury of the storm.
The distressed death eater didn't know that a very angry, overworked, sleep-deprived, stressed and time-compressed boy-who-lived was about to earn a new title.
The ladies were in Charms when Luna suddenly got a horrified look on her face and stifled a scream. She ran to the door, Hermione a pace behind.
"No! Oh No! Harry, what have you done?"
The elves had managed to save a few people, but six hundred and more souls were lost.
Ragnok and Harry returned to London Gringott's where Harry sat and drank goblin grog with Ragnok in victory celebration. Wonderful stuff! Good thing that he had his alibilili, his lulale, his lullaby already ready. He couldn't have spinned his turner time right now.
Harry pulled copies of books that he had of other death eaters, but was having trouble explaining how they worked to the head goblin. Maybe if he had a bit more grog. He took a long pull. There. That was gooooood.
Then a goblin came to the door and announced that Sirius Black and Remus Lupin were requesting to see Lord Potter. Ragnok, sensing the beginning of a great party, invited them in and sent for more grog. He invited them to sit at his own table, only the third and fourth humans to have that privilege.
"Hi Dad! Moony, though we can't really call you that anymore!" He hiccoughed a few times. "Have some of this grog! We need to buy some for the island Dad! Yo ho, yo ho." He sung the last in good voice.
Sirius and Remus knew the rules of hospitality there, and both took careful sips of the heady brew. Bleh!
They saw the maps and equipment out. Shouting at the chief goblin in his own home would likely cost him his head though, so Sirius remained quiet.
"Harry has something very important to do, and needs to come home now, my lord. Thank you for the grog. Harry, let's go."
"OK. It's probably time to milk the chickens, and gather eggs from the cow. Can't make her wait. She gets cranky. It was great Ragnok! Womderfluff! Boom! I just need a bit more of this. You're a great friend! Thank you!" He took another big drink, and went to take another, but his tankard was broken! Not a drop left. How did that happen? He looked at it for a leak, and saw none. He tried drinking again, but it was still broken. No grog.
His father got him to his feet, Harry waving a jaunty good-bye. Ragnok belched loudly, which Harry returned. Loudly. Cheers arose around them, even from the warriors on the floor. The group of humans made their way to the exit. They stepped over several goblins passed out on the floor. There seemed to be a vast quantity of grog, that worm dish and other assorted things on the ground. They stepped carefully to the main doors back to the bank, their escort all very sober and proper. They saluted as they got to the edge of the bank wards.
Harry gave them another very tispy wave and a huge belch that made them laugh and salute again.
The three got to the front steps of the bank before the aurors could make it to the base of the same stairs.
"Potter! You're under arrest!"
"Auror Emergency!" and the three were gone.
"Abi! Quick! Send the distress call. Olaf, Mad-eye, Frank, Alice and especially Neville. All of our people out of Britain, now! Tory, get to Xeno! Lenny, warn Amelia! Now! Go, go. Gather at headquarters. Daisy, warn Ekaterina and Hermione. We'll get extra security to the ladies."
Sirius looked at his happy son who was singing the chicken plucking song and staggering around the foyer of headquarters. He had seen the warning signs yesterday and had done nothing. Harry was bored, angry, tired, restless and powerful. A powder keg waiting to be lit. Neville brought the paper, and showed everyone the article that implied a very improper relationship between the three friends of Bill, Fleur, and Hermione. It had a repeat of Hermione's statement about being apart from Harry, only adding salacious comments about Bill's manliness and abilities. Most of which had nothing to do with fighting.
Hans motioned Sirius to take Harry to a nearby private parlor where they could at least shut the door. Hans gave him a dose of sober-up. The Chosen One was now more coherent but still quite drunk. He danced around the room, using his hands to describe the actions of earlier.
"You should have seen it Dad! Brilliant! The goblins can do miracles! Oh the dark magic of that place that we hit! Got out a couple dozen muggles first, then it was time for the Wrath of the Gods! I like that spell! Wish Brune could have been there! She was brilliant at it! Fiendfyre! The goblin have this, this, oh, what was I saying oh Frere Jacques, Frere Jacques, dormez-vous? Boom!"
Christine Black swept into the room and Harry immediately sat in a chair as though his strings had been cut. She gave the group at large her evil-eye. She pulled her wand.
"Mum! Please don't spank me in front of Uncle Remus!" Harry had his hands now firmly on his bum.
She shook her head and scanned him. She whirled to Hans and Ivan, but included Sirius and others in the rant.
"You, you, you people are the cause of this! You train him to be a killer, make him grow up too fast, knowing that he is going to be the center of attention in a media circus, and then you don't let him ever have enough time off to just swim or relax or unwind! He has to be ready to kill for you like a good dog, then you give him a mate and take her away! How much stress can one person deal with?!"
Christine went over and hugged and cuddled her son. He relaxed and put his arms around her.
"Hi Mum! You are soooo pretty! How's Dorea! Hey, I just remembered, I'm going to have a baby too. Hermione! My amazing Hermione!" He looked around. "Must be upstairs. She's a healer like you and she's been practicing! Having babies, healers do scary things Mum, I don't want to go back to school! They are mean to me! I just want to stay home, and bake biscuits with you and…" Harry hiccoughed again. "Boom! Boom and fire and lightinging! Boom!" He slurred.
"Come with me, Harry. Tory, get your boy upstairs and in bed. After that, let Inga know what is going on. Abi, bring Dorea here, please. Daisy, whatever you have to do, beg, plead, bribe, go to the headmistress of Beauxbatons and get Luna here just as soon as possible, please. Hermione too if she will come, though I doubt it. That girl! She's the one who needs to be spanked!"
"Careful Mum, don't hurt her! Baby Ambrose won't like it, wake him up and be scared and crying hey did you know that babies suck their thumbs before being born? I saw that baby, Ambrose I need him, I need, hey where's Hermione? I want my cuddle Hermione! Frere Jacques, je te plumerai."
And Tory popped him up to bed and held his hand until the healers moved in to help his sick master.
Elves are smart, and worked through the multiple requests. Boxer helped his mate going with her to Beauxbatons and requesting that Lady Luna and Mistress Lady Potter be allowed to leave with him. Daisy told her that death eaters might retaliate. Madame Maxine was not happy, but allowed both Luna and Hermione to leave, and sent missives to Alain and Gerard warning them.
Hermione was taken by to Harry's side. Ekaterina was left with Fleur for the time, just in case there was an attack forthcoming. She could be at Hermione's side in a moment, via phoenix. Nova was taking a fly over Beauxbatons just in case, and prepared to flame Fleur and Ekaterina elsewhere if needed.
Luna was happy to go too. She knew that something terrible had happened. But wasn't sure of what it was.
"My Lord! Potter has fled the castle! Now is the perfect time for the attack! We could take it with little effort. The Ministry is nearly ours as it is!"
"Attack now? The ground is frozen solid! I need those troops! No, the dementors aren't cooperating at all, and no one can find Bellatrix! It was a good plan to trade his French witch for my wonderful Bella, but those people don't fear us. People fighting back on the street! I heard that one was a streetwalker in short skirt and high heels that took down three of our wizards. Three! We will teach the wizards of France to fear us soon enough though. Our people are weak if common street trash can defeat them!"
The assembled lieutenants couldn't disagree. It was embarrassing. And there on his desk, in plain sight, were the Dolus Orbs on their stands. Potter's witch could have been tortured before being returned too. Ruined plans indeed.
"We need to recruit better, stronger people, we need more than second sons longing for their father's titles and gold! We need strength, we need wizards who believe in the goals! We need…"
But Lord Voldemort was interrupted. The man's pale face and trembling hands told the head death eater that the news was not good.
The messenger lived, to his everlasting shock, but gladly fled at his dismissal.
"Get me an auror. I want to report a murder."
Harry woke and was instantly feeling much better. He had woken earlier and debriefed a bit with Hans. Christine banished a second sobering potion earlier and now he had the hangover cure banished to his stomach too. She felt that it served no purpose to taste vile potions that couldn't be improved for flavor.
Hermione and Luna had been at a side table, quietly doing their studies. Harry was in the private side room, but had the door open to the main room. Both girls went to his bed. He looked at Hermione as though he hadn't seen her in ten years. He reached for her hand.
"I'm not sorry Hermione. It had to be done. They came after you. He has the Dolus Orbs. One of the men questioned had seen them. I'll find them, and destroy them. And you will be safe."
"Do you know where they are?" Luna asked.
"Yes, or at least, where they were yesterday. The death eater saw them yesterday." Harry said. His voice was quiet, serene. "Ragnok offered to help me."
Luna looked at him in confusion. He did not seem weighted down at all. If anything, he seemed at peace! How was this possible?"
"You aren't going back to school, are you?" Hermione asked.
"No. The battle started day before yesterday. You need to be aware of that. Those orbs are tomorrow's target. They were going to be today's but I had too much to drink with Ragnok. Sorry about that. No more drinking, I swear! I'm sorry. I'll tell Ragnok no more goblin grog after missions, even if it traditional. He'll understand that a promise to a mate is important."
"Morinth will be pleased about that. Her floors are a mess right now." Luna informed them.
"Luna! Men can't know that name! You can't talk about Ragnok's mate in public. I think we need to focus here. Harry, what do I do? We haven't been together, united, but I see the real you again. You! You aren't angry anymore."
"I am still very angry, but now, I can put that aside, like taking off armor. I want to go with you to our island. I want to sit in front of the fire with you. Hans has been by, and he apologized to me. Said it was his fault for not listening to Dad. I want to go with you to Chicago, and be your power source, and I want to design homes with Lily Belle for the muggles that are coming. I had an idea! We can get Trader Joe and some of his people to talk about the ideal village. What they would have if they could, and build those shops and buildings. Give the displaced muggleborns a place. Move your mum and dad. A lot of orders go by owl anyways. It doesn't matter where they have their store. I've missed you so much. I gave Xeno my time turner. Now, if I need it for a mission fine, but I have fallen into the trap of trying to make too many thirty six hour days without sleeping. Xeno said that I could have gone insane without sleep."
Luna leaned over and kissed Harry on the lips. A sweet sisterly kiss like Harry could have had with Lily Belle. "You scared me. I'm glad that you are alright."
"I'm not, but I am better. I need a bunch more sleep. Mum will let me go tomorrow and with you on Saturday, if the ICW isn't trying to arrest me. I sent a memory of me and my morning's activities to Mortimer Leech and a copy to the chief prosecutor of the ICW. I swore that the memory was true, had not been altered, and if she asks the headmistress, she would know that I had an appointment to go to Gringott's at that time. I also told them about last Saturday and how you had almost been kidnapped again."
"What does the memory show?" Luna asked.
"It starts when I read the Daily Prophet article and blew up the Ravenclaw breakfast table. Not that I objected that strongly to porridge again, it was the lack of bacon that must have set me off! It shows me going into Gringott's right at seven thirty. I then had several business meetings with various goblins discussing Potter properties and portfolios and then a wizard runs up to me and tells me that death eaters disguised as aurors are coming to get me. Dad and Remus take me to the front steps, and here I am."
"And you ask that the memory not be used in court as it has sensitive financial information that if British wizards got a hold of, would use to steal from you as has been done in the past. Brilliant! Did Mortimer Leech suggest this alibi?"
"Luna! An officer of the court does not suggest alibis. This was Mum's idea for a different situation entirely. I just happened to like and use it."
"And Amelia Bones can swear that there are death eaters in the aurors that have tried the false arrest ploy in the past, so you aren't trying to evade a real arrest, just a death threat. And you say that I am smart. Christine is the clever one!" Hermione said with pride.
Harry looked down at her still flat tummy. "I missed you. Hermione. Please come back to me."
"I love you. I am sorry that I hurt your feelings. I'm sorry for going out with Bill in public, not that we did anything wrong. But I know how you feel about Weasleys in general, and I was just trying to find someone nice for Fleur, and I really like Charlie, but he's with Dora, and Fleur's nice. Really nice. I wasn't on a date with Bill – I chose him for Fleur!"
"I overreacted! You had to have an escort, and I hadn't had enough sleep. It was my fault, not yours."
"I love you."
Harry perked up at that. He opened his arms to her and they shared a deep and loving kiss.
Nova flashed into the room. 'You are better, Chosen One. You were sick in your mind for a time. I did not know how to heal you.'
"I talked to Death. And the goblins. And I acted. So, are we alright, love?"
"We are! I'll have Daisy take me to ICW headquarters and remind them that I will be in Chicago this coming weekend. Luna and I should get back to school. When do you want to meet at home? Oh, is someone watching the snakes?"
"Charlus loves them. I'm trying to teach him a few basic words, but it is much harder than French."
"Daisy! Please take Luna to school." Harry asked.
'I'll do it. He wants to mate with you again. She's already has a chick in her, are you trying for more?'
Harry choked on that and closed the door. "I want to kiss you and hold you close. I need you."
"And I you. I owe you some gold, but I will explain later. Oh, and I got you the coolest outfit. If you want to mate with me, wear just the pants and oh yes, I think that would be wonderful, and I got an O on my potions essay, she is such a stickler for French grammar and I got a solo coming up in choir! Oh, I'm talking too much, but I have missed you! Missed you!"
And as they kissed, they were reunited heart and mind. And there was joy.
Ike and DeSalle scanned the area. There were several houses that were burned in the area. No sign of anything but thunder and lightning. The bad winter storm, if it had snowed, would not have had lightning. Did wizards know that? They got a lot of snow where they lived in Switzerland. They did not have to deal with lightning.
Combined with the memory of his morning in Gringott's, DeSalle shook his head.
They were writing this up as natural causes. Stupid Brit wizards blaming everything under the sun on Harry Potter had influenced the neutral ICW aurors. They missed the signs that this time it really was Harry Potter.
The Daily Prophet had pictures of the storm swept house and tales of the pureblood lives lost. There were claims of innocent women and children killed as well, but every other newspaper in the world proved that their list of 'victims' had all died months previously of various causes, some of which were being murdered by death eaters themselves!
While the newspaper of Britain called for Harry Potter's head, the Salem Trials, and other papers around the world were running stories of muggleborn murders, and death eater raids and publishing the list of everyday citizens that were being slaughtered in Britain.
Subscriptions to the Salem paper were on the rise in the British Isles. The average wizard on a broom was starting to open his eyes and look around. Some people were starting to complain. And they weren't complaining about Harry Potter!
Christine looked at the note again. 'Please make sure that Harry stays there all evening, with lots of visitors if he is awake. Love Luna.'
Luna could be so very Luna which was why the entire family loved the girl, so Christine made sure that Ivan played a game of chess with him, and talked to Harry about seeing a concert in Chicago when he was there, and made a show of looking at his watch. What was going on?
Nova flamed in, coughed, and barked. She then left without the girl. Harry caught of whiff of disgust, it couldn't be at Luna!
Ivan had his wand out though. "Something very evil here, something. Oh, Oh!"
He opened the bag and inside were three Dolus Orbs.
"Father is coming. Harry, I love you. I'm sorry that Nova is mad at me, I tricked her into something."
As Luna was shivering and dripping, maybe she had managed to make the phoenix angry.
"Daisy, can you please help Luna, and Boxer! Bring one of the big stasis boxes. These can't be shrunk. I love you!" Harry told her gently, swinging her around the room and getting himself wet.
"Death eaters are having a bad week?" Ivan guessed.
"Yes sir. I need to get back to school quickly." Luna said.
Ivan just looked at Harry. "No one is going to believe this!"
Xeno showed up with Algernon. Luna and Harry were now dry thanks to Daisy.
"Promise me that these won't be used against my mum or my wife again!"
"I swear Harry. Now, I need to go. I was never here." Algernon told him.
Xeno looked at his watch. "What time to you need to get back?"
"I've been in the loo between classes. Potions next. Oh, it is so nice to make potions and not get fawned over! Madame Flaubert actually scowls at me sometimes!"
Ivan looked at her and blinked. "Yes, being liked is such a burden. Be well, Seer."
Ivan waited until the girl was gone. He looked at the board. His queen was scowling at him. He didn't like it in the least. He shook his head, and played.
Algernon and Cathan were at the edge of a volcano.
"The fakes are now sitting on his desk? Was that wise? He might have the power to make them work."
"Wise? Smart? A strategy. They are not obviously missing. Until a healer is in danger, they will continue to mislead."
"I don't like it! I want my apprentice to be safe! She is doing good work, making a difference. And she is a huge threat to the status quo in Britain due to her work. I want your promise that you will be monitoring the safety of healers in Britain!" Cathan demanded.
Algernon nodded, and had a thought. "What about offering her that healer-mage position?"
"No! I have a good reason." Cathan looked sad.
"Because of the baby. Few know! I know. But I know that you know."
"Spies! How do you do it?" Cathan demanded.
"Carefully! Now, these scan as the real thing. Let's do this."
And they destroyed the last known Dolus Orbs in the world. The book on how they were created was never written, the process of how they could have been really used lost centuries before. And the danger to healers from the last three centuries was suddenly and irrevocably gone.
Hans stopped by the infirmary. Harry had been seen by not one but two mind healers and three healers. He had spent the week sleeping, mostly, and having meals with various mentors and playing a few games thrown in.
He was not acting like someone that just took a life. But he was obviously anxious about the Chicago trip.
"My mum and my wife are going to be exposed, out of warded areas for hours, and this has been announced! Healers from all over have been invited to this!"
"Which is why all of us, in full ICW auror uniforms mind you, are going!" Hans reassured him.
"No, we need to delay this a week. I'll explain why to Cathan. I just have a really bad feeling about this! Let's hire some Valkyries. Xandra and Ekaterina can help us there. They'll blend in better with a crowd that is going to have so many witches. You don't want to know what death eater entrance rituals now include. The only witches in that group are insane. Most death eaters are male."
"Good ideas, all."
"Plus, I want to try and work on the island this week and try and get it ready. I don't think that it's safe for me to go back to Hogwarts. Make Mad-eye stick to Neville like glue!"
"Agreed! What else, Seer Potter?"
"Madame Bones. I know that she has moved the Ossuary. Maybe she'll want to move it temporarily to the island. We're building a lot down there, but I would rather have an eighty percent vacancy rate that not have room and need it."
"What are you scared of, Harry?"
"I don't know. But I feel that something is about to happen elsewhere. Maybe Beauxbatons?"
"We'll warn them." The man gave him a wan smile. "Harry, I feel that I really let you down. Maybe I should turn over leadership to you. I have hesitated too much. Been too slow to act."
"You have been really nice to me about my actions, but I should have talked to you before going."
"You tried, and I didn't listen. You were right, and I was wrong not to. So I listen to you now."
"Thank you. I really don't want your job. I want to do mine. And I feel that the next time I have to act, I will be headed back to school. With Neville and Luna and all of our friends. Oh! I have an idea! All of the witches come in initially as Luna!"
"Ha! Great idea! Now, get ready. When you do show up in Chicago, make sure that you kiss your wife a lot in front of the cameras! No more of this being apart for the media."
"Sir, yes sir! My kind of order sir!"
"Take care, Harry. I'll talk to Madam Maxine. I hope that you are wrong. But I feel it too. The tentacles moving towards France."
The week at Beauxbatons was quiet, and Saturday came. A time for dinner with family and a new friend. Fleur was busy trying to decide what to wear when the brave knight showed up at the gate. His robes were clean but far too casual for the type of dinner that he was headed to, but he didn't realize that.
Bill was met at the gate not by an elf, but by M. Delacour himself.
"We have a protected garden. Let us take a walk." Alain led them through the garden, the auror nervous, but not overly so. The quiet dragged out. He didn't mind it.
"I have tried to find out more about you, Mr. Weasley. You are an ICW auror at large, and you work for Gringott's. I am very good friends with the goblins here. We magical creatures must stick together after all. They gave me one word about you. Do you know what they said?"
Bill thought about it. "Punctual?"
"Friend! Now, a wizard, in particular a British wizard does not gain that title easily. I know that you are not of a major house nor do you have a fortune. You know that my family is veela, and while there are male veela, the ratios are four to one. Four females to every one male. We expect to be part of a multiple marriage. I also know that your father was planning to have two wives and that you never objected to that. So, here are my questions for you. What is your interest in my daughter? When was the last time that you slept with a woman? What caused the breakup of your last relationship?
"Your daughter is very young sir, but extremely mature, and her magic, well, it's special. When we came under attack, she was willing to fight to protect her friend who is a healer, couldn't fight back! That takes bravery. She's special, much more than just the physical beauty, she has a sweetness that I find so appealing. Um. Women. Sir, I work for Gringott's, I get called for emergencies. I haven't had a steady girlfriend since school, and it's because I haven't wanted one. When I was younger I played the field. I'm not proud of that. Had a scare. I am very good at potions, and a witch claimed that I fathered a child. I stepped up, but I wanted to make sure that this baby was mine. It wasn't. Turns out she wasn't even pregnant, just trying to get me to choose her. It soured me on relationships."
"What is your relationship to Lady Potter?"
"Um, none, or not much. I am friends with her husband, and we've sung in group things. But other than play escort for her now and then when she's away from home…oh! The stupid paper! No, I can swear on my magic, or use truth serum or something, but there's nothing inappropriate between us! Her phoenix would eviscerate me if I tried anything. And honestly, she's not my type!"
"What is your type?"
"I like a witch, I don't know how to say it. Fleur's so feminine. My one longtime girl, Annie was so feminine. So sweet. We were supposed to get married someday. Then one day, a lord's heir proposes. She didn't want it, she wanted me. It's Britain. Her dad arranges it. I haven't seen her since."
"That is sad. We are veela. While my daughter is never going to have an arranged marriage, she knows that the family must approve of the suitor. You are rough around the edges, Bill. You do not have society manners. You have been eating stasis meals in a wizard's tent in Egypt, and sleeping in a cot, and facing death and worse for profit and making the world a better place. I'm not saying that this is good or bad, but this just is. My daughter has been raised in a palace, and educated in one. What do you know of music, art, poetry?
"My daughter is attracted to you because you are a healthy male, well built, strong and you put your life in danger to defend her. There is nothing more attractive to a woman than that.
"You have no experience with an adult woman. Veela can be vain, self-centered, and demanding. With no adult preparation, what do you plan to do for her?
"And losing a potential mate like that? No. I think that the girl lied to you about her feelings. And you did not fight for love. If you had fought for her, lost everything in trying to get her, then, then I would know that you know how to love. I'm sorry. You are a good man. I will happily pay you a reward for keeping my daughter safe last week. But I do not feel that you and she are a good match. Walk around the gardens Bill. Think about this. Tell me I am wrong."
Bill looked at his dragonhide boots. "You are not wrong. I don't know why I am here. Can you please give my regrets to Miss Delacour? I have duties abroad and must needs attend them immediately."
The man then bowed, and Alain nodded. Bill took a minute to look in the father's eyes. He didn't see anger or hatred or anything he was expecting. He saw pain.
"Are you alright, monsieur?"
"I'm fine. Most men in your position would have said hateful things, or tried to hit me. The fact that you did not proves to me that you have earned your title of friend with the goblins. I wish you well Mr. Weasley."
Alain offered his hand, and after a brief handshake, walked the young man back to the gate.
Bill returned to the knight's headquarters extremely relieved. That was her house? Her servants had better houses than he owned!
She needed a prince or earl or something. Like Harry had said to Charlie, he was just a commoner. Whew! He did not belong there at all!
"Hermione, I had an idea of what we could do this weekend." Harry said. He was supposed to be resting and relaxing. He had several new books, large paperback books with him.
"What love?" She was curious. New books? Harry saw her nose twitch just a little as she caught the scent.
"Well, now that we have the first part of the project started, I thought we might want to work on some furniture for the baby. I have some books of different styles. I want to get your parents under wards, so I am going to ask your father to help me build the furniture ourselves. And your mum, we have to find out if there is anything that she likes to do for inside a house. Whatever it is, get her involved too. You see? Give them something to do away from unreliable wards for a time."
"But Harry. We have money, we could just buy…"
Hermione watched his face fall. Oh, he wanted to make it, himself. A cradle or bassinette for the baby. What was wrong with that idea?
She smiled at him. "My grandmother likes to sew. Maybe we can do the frilly white cover thing or something. Make this a family project."
He smiled at her. "I have some books for plans and ideas."
"I see a comfy rug, and fireplace right there that looks like a cozy for this planning. I'll make us some snacks, and be right back."
"Wait! Food and reading?"
"Sweetheart, if these are books that are going to be used to make things, a bit of 7-Up or snacks will be nothing compared to sawdust or whatnot. Besides, muggle softback books, very inexpensive. These are not handwritten parchment one-of-a-kind grimoires. Very different."
"Have I ever told you that I love you?"
"Yes, my husband, once or twice."
"Well, just in case I forget later, I love you, my beloved wife. Thank you for understanding."
She wouldn't call it understanding exactly. Just a realization that he needed to do this, and if it helped him right now, who was she to deny him that peace?
Peace was a very precious commodity, and they needed to hold onto it as much as they could.
The weekend was all too short.
After class, it was practice time. Hermione was in one room, Fleur with her, but Luna wanted to practice a different piece, so was next door.
And Ekaterina was lurking nearby watching for outsiders. The threat of death eaters was real, and subtle threats were being made in the British press against the school governors for their actions. It was all slander and gossip, but it made the family nervous, as the Longbottom's were mentioned frequently in that gossip.
Luna was in the music room, practicing, when a boy came in. She was instantly on edge. He shut the door. She couldn't place the year, but he wore student's robes, and looked like a student.
"You are very pretty. I thought that maybe you and I could have a little fun."
"I'm married, and I don't like that you haven't even introduced yourself. Now, move away from the door." Luna called for help. This boy was no boy!
"I don't think so, you come…"
Nova flew in and picked up the boy and dropped him into the small pond outside Madam Maxine's office. The private garden was accessed by her door, and the door through the service gate. No students could get there, not easily.
Not that falling thirty feet, landing on ice, breaking it, and falling into the very cold water would be called easy access.
A note of explanation soon followed.
Madam Maxine was not happy. She ran a very tight ship. If the phoenix were at fault, how would she punish it?
She levitated the student-cicle to the infirmary swearing under her breath.
This was no student.
Hermione watched the crackling fire. "How did you know, love?"
"Luna kissed me. She must have transferred her powers of premonition."
He removed his arm. "Not funny, Dad, taking polyjuice and making me think that you're Hermione."
"Stop it! Actually, don't. You seem so calm now! That person was dumb. Luna now wants to leave school and go to the island. She's not a healer, but she's connected to…"
"Me, I know. And maybe she's right. Maybe after Saturday, we should just all move to Patrice Key, and wait." Harry finished. "Except the fighters."
"Maybe I shouldn't have become a healer."
Nova made a noise at that.
"Sorry Nova, right. More of a calling than profession. Too late now. But this is getting bad."
"Hans is really mad. Beauxbatons has a lot of innocents. Far fewer fighters than most. Look at your defense for non-combatants class! Your normal death eater from Dumstrang or even Hogwarts is going to be able to…" Harry stopped talking.
Hermione stood up. She wasn't showing yet, Ambrose was still very little, but she knew that she had a responsibility to the family.
"You're right. I just get angry at these people. Ekaterina was willing to rip him apart with her bare hands. She'll be watching over Luna at school, too."
"No, Xandra and Katya will be rotating. Hans' orders. Just Luna, though Katya wishes that she were watching over you."
"Really? I thought that she likes Luna."
"What? Oh, yeah, she does. Katya's worried about being distracted because Luna can be, well. You know. Luna."
Hermione held out her hand, but Harry rose on his own. "I know. Luna is very Luna. It is time for me to go to bed. I thought that you had turned in the time-turner?"
"I did. I'm just tired. And I have to talk to them about security for Saturday in Chicago. This is a nightmare!"
Hermione checked on the books, had helpers arranged, the place, everything. Cathan was upset that they didn't come the previous week but they were coming tomorrow.
She hoped that at least one of the volunteers would understand the process well enough to try it and do it. That would be very exciting.
She thought about Valentine's Day and her special card she had made. Two more weeks for that. She needed to get to bed and get some sleep. They were going to the island afterwards the healing seminar. Christine was coming with her own security.
No word on who or why Luna had a visitor. Hermione doubted that he wanted a singing lesson. The girls did nothing alone for the rest of the week. That was certain.
Luna held Neville close. "My love, do you trust me?"
He kissed her gently. "Of course! What is it? What did you see?"
"You and Remus and Frank and Alice and Evangeline and Algernon and I need to be at Rose Hill tomorrow, or your grandmother will die. We can't tell anyone though! We need to have everyone think that we are all going to the Big Lake thing."
"Great Lake, love. All right. I should at least tell Harry so he knows where we are and why."
"How can it be a great lake if it doesn't have that many magical creatures in it?" Luna asked solemnly.