I own nothing.
Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum
"I can't believe it," Sirius stated as he and Harry strolled down the main avenue of Hogsmeade side by side in the bright light of the week day sun, Albus having afforded Harry a day off to meet his new god father.
"I told you," Harry stated. "All I needed was the body of one dead rat."
"Too bad he isn't actually dead," Sirius commented. They walked together in silence for a moment. Peter's un-Godly fate was not a thing they wished to speak of. Death was a simple end. The destruction of a soul while leaving the body behind was a lingering fate as well as a whole different animal to the two who had dealt with Dementors before. "No, he deserved it."
"Did he?" Harry asked. He shook his head quickly. "Yeah, I guess he did." They both knew that neither agreed with Peter's fate, but both would pretend to accept it because they wished to assuage the other's guilt. A death would have been quickly forgotten. A lingering existence in a cell somewhere was less so.
"So!" Sirius announced, to distract them from their current topic. "What are your plans for this summer?"
"I plan to enjoy this summer," Harry said honestly.
"And I have a plan for that!"
"First, we need to get you a fake motorbike license!" the man continued.
"Then I'll teach you to ride a motorcycle," Sirius added. Harry pinched the bridge of his nose and squeezed his eyes shut. "After that, all we need is a bike for you and we're set."
"Sirius," Harry began warningly.
"I figure we can spend the summer cruising the French countryside," Sirius said. Harry's jaw dropped to argue, but slowly closed as he pondered the older man's words. "You know, we can check out museums and those places with art and all that other nerdy stuff you like. It'll be super cultural! Who knows, maybe we can meet up with a few cute French witches, maybe a pair of blonde sisters and they can show us around?"
"You better be thinking what I'm thinking or I'm telling Sophie," Harry said finally. Sirius put a hand on his shoulder and pulled him to a stop so they could face each other.
"Harry, when you have a woman as fine as Sophie, your eyes just don't roam," he stated. "That's true for many reasons, chief amongst them: she is so beautiful and so wonderful and I am so lucky to have her. . .and she would absolutely skin me alive. . .literally."
"Yup." They began to walk again.
"So. . ." Sirus wheedled. Harry let out a long, annoyed sigh.
"Fine" he grunted.
"Yes!" Sirius cheered.
"Isn't it weird that you just gained back your right to live here and you're already planning on fleeing?" Harry ventured as he pushed the door to the Hog's Head open and they stepped inside.
"Never was a fan of all the rain," Sirius admitted. "Food can be a bit bland as. . ." He let out a squeak of shock and spun around.
"Hey cutie," Sophie stated, her hand still out from where she had grabbed his ass. "Nice robes, they'd look nicer on the floor of my room."
"What?" Sirius sputtered.
"Though, I did lose my wand, can I use the one in your pants to unlock the door?" Sophie continued, one hand playing with Sirius's belt line. Harry took one look at them and walked over to join Victor at the bar.
"So that's Sirius?" Victor asked. Harry nodded. "Huh. He does exist. I really need to send an owl to HR and cancel those ethics complaints."
"What?" Sophie demanded.
"What?" Victor repeated.
"Whatever!" Sophie announced. "Victor, this is Sirius. I have never met him before because he was an escaped British felon and I am going to be ruining him back at the inn after this, so you should probably set up some noise cancelling charms. Also, this man that I have never met is proof that I have zero interest in Harry, no offense."
"None taken," Harry replied.
"It's just that I like my men a little softer," Sophie continued. "I am a feared and powerful woman, so I don't need some tough guy to protect me. . .also, he's about half my age."
"Hey," Sirius whined.
"If you'll excuse us," Sophie interrupted the man she had just thoroughly emasculated.
"You can ruin him after this," Harry stated. "I need to buy him his first drink as a freeman back in the United Kingdom." He held up a hand for the bartender's attention. "Can I get a round?"
"Can I get an ID?" the old, bearded man countered.
"Identification," the bartender replied.
"I'm Harry Potter," Harry said blankly.
"Oh? Last time I checked; Harry Potter wasn't eighteen." Harry stared at the man. Then he turned back to the group.
"Okay, yeah. Fuck this island. We're going to Monte Carlo to celebrate Sirius's return to the UK."
"Monte Carlo?" Victor asked in confusion.
"Monte Carlo!" Sophie cheered.
"Ibiza!" Sirius corrected.
"I'm probably going to get in a lot of trouble for this," Harry grumbled. He pondered that for a moment. "Alright, I can probably sic the Inevitable on Sirius. Let's go.""
"What have you got Shack?" Amelia asked.
"Ten SPIE officers showed up plus the four others who never left," Kingsley stated. "That's actually more than I thought, but I don't know if that's enough for you."
"I've spent my career expecting nothing, so that certainly is more than enough," Amelia stated as she reached for the door. "Anything else?"
"I spoke with your man in the Minister's protection detail," Kingsley stated. "The Minister is becoming increasingly angry at Potter for dodging him. Fudge seems to think he is owed something for pardoning Black."
"Of course, the Minister would expect a favor for doing the right thing for both Black and himself," Amelia growled, her arm falling back to her side as she sensed a longer conversation. "Any idea what he wants?"
"I've got a theory," Kingsley admitted. "At least it's a theory until I'm proven right." As his theories always were.
"The Minister has announced that You Know Who hasn't returned," Kingsley stated. "Potter is the one who started this talk even if he didn't make that announcement in so many words."
"Fudge wants Potter to go on record stating that You Know Who isn't back," Amelia continued. "It would lend credence to the government's official story."
"Problem is, even if the Minister catches up with Potter, I don't think he's going to get the story he wants," Kingsley added. "Now, the part that scares me is, what is the Minister going to try to pull to get Potter on board?"
"You think he's going to try to force him?" Amelia asked.
"The man ordered a helpless prisoner kissed in a moment of panic at the thought of a disruption to his rule," Kingsley pointed out. "It was low hanging fruit. All he had to do was roll with the evidence, announce Potter as the hero he already was, play the role of the wise leader and he would have secured a legacy for himself even amongst his detractors. Hell, he probably would have skated through elections based on this alone. He went with option B, which is deny everything uncomfortable no matter what and force everyone to agree with him. Yeah, I think he's going to try to force a schoolboy to publicly agree with him."
"Good luck with that," Amelia grumbled. Her dealings with Potter had made her rather suspicious as to his ability to be intimidated. "Well, maybe if Fudge managed to get Professor McGonagall to go after him." That actually managed to get a laugh out of the large man.
"Sure, that'd work," he agreed. "You'd just have to find someone who could boss Professor McGonagall around." Amelia shuddered at that though. Sure, Albus was her boss, but she doubted that he exercised that type of authority. A flea like Fudge would probably be too terrified to even approach the woman.
"I wish him luck," she stated as she reached for the door again. She frowned as the taller man's hand caught her wrist.
"SPIE had a different culture," he said carefully.
"Chest pounding anti-authority machismo?" Amelia ventured. "Bordering on arrogance, perhaps?"
"Uh, well. . .that's not. . .untrue" Amelia removed his hand and pushed the door open. She took a moment to review the people inside and felt an eyebrow rise at the four wearing auror robes.
"Well, can't say I called that," she admitted aloud.
"Blending in is what we do Madame Bones," the senior auror of the group stated. "Well, some of us."
"I hope you will continue to maintain such a high level of discretion," Amelia stated as she walked down the aisle between the two banks of tables. Without pausing her step, she grabbed one of the other men's feet and shoved them off the desk in front of him so hard that he almost fell out of his chair. With the pecking order shakily established, she strode to the front of the room and turned.
"Nobody is back," a blonde woman clad in black leather stated.
"You are here, therefore you are back," Amelia stated. "If you didn't want to be back, you wouldn't be here. Now, you work for me." They shifted somewhat uneasily at that. "Well, I suppose you will be working for Kingsley, but he works for me." That settled them down.
"What's all this about then?" a tall, worn, dark-haired man in a long white coat asked.
"Well, I'm sure you have all heard about the Minister's new task force," Amelia stated. She paused and waited as a few of them nodded. "In response to his revelation that dark magic still exists; I have decided that I need a more experienced element myself to. . .assist him." They glanced at each other.
"What's the mission Madame Bones?" one of the four who were wearing auror robes finally asked.
"You will be the first to chase down and investigate all leads concerning dark magic and report directly to me," Amelia stated. "I will then decide what is relevant and report that to the Minister for his task force to investigate."
"And if we get into a rough spot?" the white clad man asked.
"A rough spot?" Amelia repeated. "I was under the impression that you lot put people into rough spots." There was a low rumble of laughter from those gathered. "I expect you to comport yourselves as the specialists I have been led to believe you are. Or would you like me to oversee everything you do?"
"What about if the Minister starts asking questions?" the blonde woman asked, eagerly ignoring Amelia's question.
"He is the Minister," Amelia said. "You will, of course, answer his questions honestly in a manner that will make him happy." She saw a few feral grins in the crowd and had a feeling that the Minister would soon experience the joys of circular talking. It was almost a shame he was too stupid to understand what would be happening. "You are my specialists. I brought you here because of your experience, your abilities and your connections. Use those things and keep this island safe."
"Safe from who?" the dark-haired man asked cheekily.
"Safe from anyone who would harm it," Amelia stated. "Am I clear?"
"Yes, Madame Bones," they echoed. Amelia refused to smirk at that. It would send the wrong message, but still, it was progress.
"Right back to hunting Voldemort, huh?" the blonde woman asked.
"Voldemort is dead," Amelia replied. "The Death Eaters are no more. The Minister was quite clear on that and I expect no mention of either of them in any written reports." She paused for a moment, contemplating what she was about to say and the ramifications of it. "No mattery what a certain Boy Who Lived may say." Quite a few of the returned SPIE officers and even one of her own aurors shifted at that statement.
Amelia took a deep breath as she realized just how far that, self-proclaimed, schoolboy's reach extended and she acknowledged that she would be dealing with him professionally sooner rather than later.
It was only a question of which sides they would be on.
Personally, Amelia was really starting to hope that it would be the same side.
God only knew what that man was up to.
"One drink," Hermione growled as she stared at her prone friend. "They were supposed to be going to Hogsmeade for one drink."
"I'm not sure what we were actually expecting," Ron admitted. On the couch before them, Harry continued to snore fit to wake the dead, his sterling white tux jacket and emerald waistcoat thrown sloppily over the back of the piece of furniture. The redhead pried one eye open and examined its pupil. "Oh yeah. He's toast. I give him four hours before he can even open his eyes."
"I am going to kill Sirius," Hermione stated as she pinched the bridge of her nose. "Luna, no." The blond pouted and lowered the glass of water. "Actually, go for it. Keep it off the couch. That'd just be inconsiderate."
"Right!" She upended the glass and Harry made a few snorting sounds before rolling onto his side.
"Well, at least that took care of the snoring," Ron pointed out. They all watched as Harry rolled again and flopped off the couch face first. "So, howler?"
"Howler," Hermione agreed, "but who?" They both turned to Luna. "Mermish?"
"Mermish," Ron agreed.
"Mermish!" Luna cheered.
"And don't be shy," Hermione stated. "I want to hear you all the way from where ever the hell Sirius is staying."
"The Inevitable comes, dearies!" the Fat Lady called. The painted woman had, all too happily, inserted herself as their early warning detector the moment she began hearing murmurs of code names and other intrigues.
"Let her," Ron stated. "This is not our problem."
"It is the Longbottom Way," Hermione agreed.
"The way," Ron and Luna murmured. The painting swung open and Minerva stormed into the room. She paused as she took in the scene and scowled at them.
"What's going on here?" she demanded.
"What do you mean?" Ron asked innocently.
"I mean that!" Minerva snapped, pointing at Harry.
"Oh, that," Hermione agreed. "That looks like a big pile of not our problem." At that moment, Neville appeared from the dorms. He glanced around and nodded to himself.
"Good morning, Professor," he stated as he started to walk towards the entrance to the Gryffindor common room.
"And what do you have to say about this?" Minerva demanded.
"About what?" Neville asked.
"This!" Minerva snapped as she waved an arm at them. Neville glanced back at them and frowned, one eyebrow quirking in annoyance.
"I see nothing," he stated in a tone that challenged her to argue. "Now, if you'll excuse me, I am rather hungry." He walked out the door without another word.
"It is the Longbottom Way," Luna said. Then she dumped another glass of water on Harry's head. The unconscious man batted an arm about for a moment before attempting to stuff himself under the couch.
"The Way," Hermione and Ron agreed.
"I may put up with the rest of them playing this game," Minerva growled, "but I won't let you lot get away with it."
"We were in the castle all night long," Ron stated. "Really, the only people to blame for this are Harry, Sirius and the Headmaster for leaving them without adult supervision." Minerva stared at him in some shock.
"Wow," she said finally. "Right under the bus, huh?"
"Just the facts Professor," Ron stated, "and the facts don't involve us this time."
"One drink," Hermione growled. "It was supposed to be one drink in Hogsmeade. That's it."
"In Hogsmeade?" Minerva repeated.
"You know, Neville's right. I am starving," Ron stated as they all legged it for the door.
"What do you mean Hogsmeade!" Minerva howled, her wand coming up.
"Ask Harry!" Luna countered as they dove out of the room. The Fat Lady helpfully swung shut behind them. They caught Amalie coming towards them and turned her around without stopping.
"Did The Inevitable happen?" she asked.
"One drink," Hermione groaned. "How hard is it to have one drink? How hard is it to stay in one damned country for one night!"
Harry yawned and stretched. Well, he tried to until his arms, legs, chest and face brushed against something. He panicked for a moment before realizing that he was under something. He scooched himself out and glanced around.
He felt his stomach drop as he saw Minerva casually sitting in an armchair across from the couch he had been under.
"Good evening, Mister Potter," she stated as she sipped from the cup in her hand. "You missed your curfew."
Harry stared at her for a long moment.
"Blame Sirius." With that, he promptly shuffled himself back under the couch. "He's a responsible adult. I'm just a schoolboy. Can't blame me. Can blame him. He's a bad influence."
Draco smirked as he made his way into the Great Hall. This was finally their time. He took in the green and silver decoration adorning the large room. Then he frowned as he noticed that the Hufflepuffs and Gryffindors had crammed their tables together and were playing host to most of the foreign students. After a few minutes, everyone shuffled aside as Ravenclaw shoved their table over as well, to the loud cheers of the rest. He took his place at the lonely Slytherin table.
No one asked them to join and Slytherin would die before asking.
"The House Cup is ours," Gregory commented.
"The Cup is, but is victory?" Draco pondered as he glanced at the rambunctious lot beside them.
"We won, that's all that matters," Vincent grumbled.
"I suppose," Draco agreed noncommittally. It seemed like something his father would believe. Victory was victory, even as your defeated enemies sat laughing and making allegiances beside you. Did this count as a moral victor? It seemed somehow less than even that, despite the end of the Gryffindors' victory run.
Perhaps it would have helped if someone reminded Gryffindor that they had lost, or even that there was a competition to begin with.
The evening proceeded, Slytherin was declared the victor and their cheering was largely drowned out by the uncaring, polite applause of the other occupants of the hall.
Viktor was declared the winner of the Tri-Wizard Tournament and the schools responded with wild cheering, uncaring of affiliation as the man rose from the joint table where he sat with the other champions and Granger to receive his award.
It was after that that Draco began to notice the disappearances.
In twos and threes, the students filtered out. It wasn't against the rules to leave before the meal was over after all and it went uncommented on.
At least, it did until the entirety of Hufflepuff evacuated itself. McGonagall shot to her feet and chased after them.
Draco caught Daphne out of the corner of his eye as she tried to slip away. It was no secret she frequented Potter's parties with her Ravenclaw boyfriend.
"Yes?" the blonde woman asked,
"Can I ask where the party is?" Draco ventured. That caught the entire tables' attention.
"If you'd like to follow?" Daphne ventured as she turned. Draco nodded and followed her. The rest of Slytherin showed a rather disturbing lack of individuality as they all stood and followed along.
They made their way through several hallways until Daphne threw open a pair of double doors and led them into a ballroom that was about the same size as the Great Hall.
"Impressive," Draco admitted as he took in the vast party beyond him.
"Is that the Weird Sisters?" Gregory asked.
"I believe so," Draco stated. A familiar form staggered up to him. "Potter. You're looking very. . .medicated."
"Medicated!" the French witch on his arm squealed.
"Okay, yeah. I'm keeping that one," Harry stated with a bright, glassy grin. "What are you doing here?"
"Well, we did just win the House Cup," Draco pointed out, "and I thought that deserved a proper celebration and party."
"Oh, yeah!" Harry said. "Hey!" The music came to an abrupt halt. "To Slytherin! Congratulations for winning the House Cup!"
"Fuck yeah Slytherin!" someone at the back of the crowd yelled and the three schools present all cheered.
"Yeah!" Harry cheered as he turned.
"Potter?" Draco interrupted, causing the man to look back. "What are you wearing?" Harry glanced down at the brilliant white and emerald green muggle clothes he was clad in.
"A tux!" he announced before stumbling off. Draco made note of the word. Perhaps he had been a bit too quick to judge muggles. Especially if they could make a barbarian like Potter look good.
"What are we doing here Malfoy?" a seventh year Slytherin demanded.
"We?" Draco mused. He turned to the crowd of his housemates. "Pansy? Would you like to dance?"
"What?" the young woman sputtered in shock.
"Would you like to dance?" Draco repeated as he held out his hand.
"Yes!" she gasped as she took his hand.
"Well then, I plan to dance the night away and celebrate dominating our enemies by over three hundred points," Draco told the rest of the Slytherins. "You lot can do whatever you want."
"This has been a good year."
"Yeah," Ron agreed. Together the lot of them, minus their French friends, lounged on the stairs leading up to Hogwarts' main doors. They had abandoned the rest of the students to their fates in the overly crowded Main Hall as they awaited the carriages to the Hogwarts Express. "We were barely in the hospital wing. . .as patients anyway."
"You got kidnapped by the Dark Lord!" Cedric snapped. "Hell, I got kidnapped by the Dark Lord. We all got kidnapped by the Dark Lord! Mostly!"
"That was a reverse kidnapping at best," Harry said with a dismissive wave of his hand. "Nobody even got hurt. . .although, one of us managed to get himself stunned. . .in an ambush we all knew was coming. Aren't you a seeker? Do your reflexes only work on a broom?"
"Didn't you torture Pettigrew and then burn You Know Who alive?" Cedric demanded, completely ignoring Harry's other comment.
"Nobody that mattered was hurt," Harry corrected, "and I didn't torture Peter. He paid penance for his sins and I, very kindly mind you, forgave him."
"That still sounds worse," Viktor commented.
"Eh," Hermione grunted. "They had it coming."
"That they did," Ron agreed. Cedric just leaned back against the stairs and blew out a breath of annoyance. Harry was about to take a victory sip from his flask until a body slammed into his own and shoved him, rather painfully, back into the steps. He glanced down at the head of blonde hair nuzzling him.
"Hey Gabby. I still can't believe how easy I am to sneak up on from the front.
"That's what happens when you spend too much time watching your back," Viktor pointed out sagely. Harry glanced down to the bottom of the stairs where another pair of French blondes were making their way towards them.
"God," Fleur moaned. "You would not believe the shit we had to pull in order to get away from Madame Maxime." Harry glanced over at the Beauxbatons carriage. Muddy red smoke was pouring out of all of its windows.
"Actually, knowing Amalie, I probably would," he admitted.
"You are too kind," Amalie stated happily as she sat next to him. They all sat in happy silence for a moment before Fleur cleared her throat. They all turned on her and she glared at Amalie. "What?"
"Amalie has something to tell you," Fleur said finally. "Well, she better, or I'm going to tell you something and she isn't getting you back." Harry turned to the other woman and frowned as he noticed her face rapidly turning red.
"Amalie? Are you. . ." He was cut off as her lips crashed into his. His mind swiftly rebooted and he responded to the unexpected stimuli in the only way he knew how, aggressively. In another moment, Amalie pulled back. She gave a weak giggle.
"See you this summer?" Then she was gone, charging full speed down the stairs.
"Not bad," Fleur stated as she stroked her chin contemplatively. "Rather amateurish, but the passion was there and that's the important part."
"What. . .but. . .what. . .why?"
"You two are dating," Ron stated. "You've been dating for, what, two months?"
"Three and a half," Hermione corrected. "Pay attention Harry, you need to know things like that."
"What? But. . .Amalie!" The woman had reached the bottom of the stairs, but she did turn. "Are we dating?"
"Well. . ." she began, her hands fidgeting with her robes. Fleur threw up her hands in exasperation and then slung an arm around Harry. "Yes! We are dating and that means you can't get all handsy with other women!" With that, she turned and began running again.
"Finally," Fleur groaned, letting her arm drop. "God, it was the blind dating the blind around here, which was cute. . .for about a week. Then it was just annoying."
"Wait!" Harry said suddenly, turning on his friends. "You said we've been dating for months."
"Yup," Ron agreed.
"We've never even been on a date!" Harry insisted.
"You two go on dates all the time," Hermione said. "Your last one was the. . ."
"Jardin Exotique," Luna supplied. Harry's mind raced back to the day he and Amalie had decided to walk around the fabulous garden in Monte Carlo.
"We invited all of you!" he stated.
"We didn't want to get in the way of your date," Ron replied. Harry's mind kept spinning in circles. They had spent a lot of time with each other, hadn't they? Mostly alone?
"We went out with Hermione and Viktor all the time," he argued.
"Those were fantastic double dates," Hermione stated.
"We had a great time," Viktor added, putting one arm around the witch's shoulders. "You were both excellent company." Harry sat down, vaguely aware that Gabrielle was still clinging to him.
"I have a girlfriend," he said finally.
"For now," Gabrielle stated. "Who knows what the future may hold. You might decide that a younger woman would be. . ." That earned her a flick to the forehead from her older sister.
"That is so weird," Harry commented.
"That's weird?" Cedric finally exploded. "That's weird? You having a girlfriend is weird? Harry, most of the boys who go through Hogwarts end up with a girlfriend at some point! That's normal!"
"Not for me," Harry countered. He had some thinking to do. At least he did until a great shape fell from the sky and slammed into the ground at the bottom of the staircase.
"Father!" Dudders cried in a surprisingly melodious tenor. "This is the end. I will no longer live in fear of you!"
"I couldn't have said it better myself!" Harry snarled as he brushed aside Gabrielle and summoned his armor to him. The scuttling monstrosity turned and managed a fair facsimile of a bow.
"Mother," he began, "other Father. Please stay out of this. What is happening is between me and that monster that helped raise me!"
"Agreed!" Harry howled as he drew the Sword of Gryffindor and began to storm down the steps.
"Sure thing," Hermione replied.
"You two have fun," Ron added. Harry slammed his faceplate down in order to hide a sigh of relief. He was back on familiar ground.
Something was trying to kill Harry and all was right with the world.
After all, this was Hogwarts and things tended to happen here. Usually to Harry Potter.
-Author's drunken ramblings. Guys! Guys! Neville said the thing! Not gonna lie, kind of surprised how many times Schultz was mentioned in reviews. Didn't think there were still so many Hogan's Heroes fans out there.
Whew, that was a fair bit of a chapter. I thought about splitting it, but I really couldn't see a good place to do it. I even had an extra month to work on it and I couldn't find a thing to do. Though I do like ending the story on the fifth anniversary of the first chapter.
Also, sorry about the miss. Holidays. You know how it is. Then I hit a fucking deer on my way to work. In doing so, I have lost a lot of respect for deer hunters. Look, I love Bambi meat and have no moral arguments against hunting, but those things are fucking dumb! That son of a bitch sat in the bushes on a straight road and watched my headlights get closer and closer and suddenly decided to make a break for it. Froze like a deer in the headlights my ass. It wanted harakiri by car. And no, it was not just running through the woods. There was a eight foot fence behind it. Also that eight-pointed dick head ran a slant rout! A fucking slant! No, just crossing the road wasn't good enough. It wanted to take its time doing it.
Which wasn't bad I guess since I was turning and we came together at an angle. That's what probably saved me from totaling my car and saved him from dying to a couple of 9mm hollow points while he flopped around on the road. Yep, he made it back to the tree line. Therefore, he is nature's problem again and not mine.
Also, holy shit is that like a weirdly startling topic to bring up for some folks. It kind of seems that half the people I told this story to had no idea of the possibility that they might someday find themselves in a position where euthanizing an animal that they hit is the kindest and most responsible thing to do. I think I saw a few people have an existential crisis.
Look, I know not everyone likes guns, but if you like to be a prepared, responsible adult, having a single shot .410 or 20 gauge and a box of slugs bouncing around in your trunk is not the worst thing to do and I don't think that would offend most peoples' sensibilities. I think even the anti-gunners agree that a single shot shotgun is a tool and not a weapon of mass genocide, even though a lot of people have been killed with one. A lot.
And hey, maybe in the process of learning to safely use said gun, you might find out that shooting is fun! Maybe in a safety class at a gun range you see guys shooting skeet and decide to give it a try, or maybe just tearing a target in half with a few shells of birdshot is fun enough. You never know.
Yep, still trying to get new shooters.
Also, also, I've had to borrow my dad's pickem up truck. I will never not be confused by the amount of people I know that watch me role up in a truck and all agree that that makes sense. Other than being a white guy with a beard, I don't know what makes a truck more suitable for me. Especially since trucks are much harder to carry offensive weaponry in. I mean, what? Do you want me to just let my Scorpion bounce around in the bed?
I much prefer driving my little grey Kia.
Almost like Grey Man is a concept that exists purely to draw zero attention.
My dad's truck also has "My Son is a Marine" stickers and I am totally not prepared for the amount of people telling me to thank my son for his service.
Seriously, any and all children claiming a Cynical legacy are liars and, more importantly, none of them are old enough to enlist.
So, with that off my chest, chapter notes! Wizengamot. Yup. Missed that one. To be fair, I think they were mentioned all of twice in seven books. Also, the idea that one body is playing the role of supreme court, senate and house of representative sounds kind of ridiculous. Especially since the Wizengamot is apparently a part time thing since Dumbledore is the chief while also running a school. Unless you're having the top guy be ceremonial, which is also problematic.
Sorry to anyone who isn't American, but that's what I understand. Actually, foreigners probably understand the American government better than most Americans. You know, the type who attacked the Capitol, thinking that it was the White House.
Onto end of story notes! Wow. This was a good one. I will shit you not and say this without arrogance, I think this is a good story. I've been doing this a long time and this is the first story I've written where I really can reread the whole thing and not cringe. Actually, I can read the Shinji vs stories too, but you should not be thinking much of anything while reading those. If you read those and find yourself stopping to ask a question, you're doing it wrong. They are dumb in the best ways possible.
About the only thing I'm iffy on in this story is the main four. I wish they were a little more individual and less interchangeable, other than Luna being the "say something quirky" one, but even that works out in a way. Harry, Ron and Hermione have been through hell for years. Luna is newer, but I would say, with the training they've been through, she's suffered just as much. Similar experiences breed similar ways of thinking and shared goals, such as keeping Harry alive, do the same thing. Their hivemind actually does make sense in my head.
And as always, most of you guys seemed to have a blast. I definitely got called out on some of my bullshit, Room of Requirement, but that was definitely on me. I refuse to count Daphne's sister. I feel dumber for reading into that. Anyway, that is also what the reviews are for. I love people cheering me on as much as the next guy, but I do need people to point out my shortcomings if I want to keep improving, which I actually do. Twenty years is a long ass hobby, but it wouldn't be half as fun if I wasn't always getting better.
Admittedly, cheering reviews also keep it fun. Just have to strike the right balance.
As always, there were the reviews where I had to go back and reread a chapter and still couldn't figure out what the fuck they were talking about. I can tell you that at least one of us read that chapter to the end, and I have a sneaking suspicion that it was only me. Seriously though, the review button is as the bottom of the page for a reason. That reason is that the chapter is supposed to be read through before it gets commented on.
Not going to lie, I did kind of agonize over the ending. It was between a longer, crazier this and a slightly more serious ending and I'll probably add the serious one as an omake at some point. I went back and forth for a while. It was like, did I really want to go full crack, or keep it just that bit more serious. In hindsight, as with most things, I ended up compromising with a little more serious crack end.
In corona news, my father's patellarectomies have been cancelled. Turns out debilitating chronic pain and quality of life improvement surgeries are still elective and the hospitals are too packed with fuck sticks packed full of the rona. Yeah! My choice, my body, it doesn't affect anybody else!
Except for all the people who need hospital beds or want to go back to normal life. But those people don't count because they aren't you, right?
Also, apparently the courts have decided, again, that corona patients can dictate their own treatments and the hospitals have to give them dewormers.
You know what the hospitals don't have to do? They don't have to accept plague rats and I wish more hospitals would yeet those things to the curb the moment they can't pull out a vac card.
Look, I'm sorry your friend/family member/fellow cultist/you is dying of the rona, but that hospital bed could be better used by a responsible member of society.
Fucking my body, my choice, it doesn't affect anybody. Yet, these are largely the same fuck sticks fighting abortion rights. You know, if Texas wants to play that game, in a fair world, every Texan should be forced to get the shots. After all, the government is allowed to control individuals, right? And they can force people to do things because of the beliefs of a bunch of over interested pricks, right?
Yet we all know that literally can't happen. After all, pointing out flaming hypocrisy is such an intellectual elite, communist thing to do.
Yeah, me, the state warehouse worker with an associates is part of the intellectual elite.
On that topic, this is also the story where I really cut loose in the drunken ramblings. I've always been a rambler, drunken more often than not, but I really started to interject my views into this one. The scary ones. The aggressive ones. The ones the self-proclaimed moderates get nervous about.
Though, I guess the events of the last six years have kind of dragged it out of me. I'm not much of a panicker, but, yeah, this has been a fucked up time to be alive. Take a twenty-year war that I signed up for fifteen-ish years ago, the cultification of my political party and my ideological leanings by people who understand neither, backwards steps in fucking human rights, an attempted coup by a group of whiney assholes, the global rise of fascist leaning dick heads, a fucking true pandemic, the US government making excuses for another government butchering a fucking reporter and the death of any sort of critical thinking where any kind of learning is considered witchcraft. Well, I guess they call it communist now instead of witchcraft.
God damn. That might mean something if the people accusing everyone else of being communists weren't constantly siding with communist-ish governments over, you know, demo-fucking-cratic governments.
With all that and the constant recessions, what did my generation do to deserve this?
Hey, to the people telling me to dial it back. . .well, this is me dialing it back. You have yet to see the kind of rage I can unleash.
Like I said, I spent six years in the Marine Corps where public humiliation and group punishment were not just possible, they were expected.
You think I shit talk now? Dear sweet child, I have made Marines cry. I know how to hurt and humiliate, probably better than even most Drill Instructors.
After all, the only thing they can do is scream. I can guilt trip.
Yeah! Here we go. Where? I have no idea!
Actually, I do! Omake, or maybe stinger. This could fit both ways. No. Definitely stinger. This is cannon.
Si Vis Pacem Parabellum: The True Ending
Harry groaned as he managed to roll himself onto his back. Near him, Dudders continued to try to drag himself forward with his front two legs. The trembling limbs finally collapsed under the beast's bulk.
"This is it," Dudders stated, his mouth parts working rapidly.
"Yes," Harry agreed as he tried to raise either the Sword of Gryffindor or his wand. Neither of his arms seemed capable of responding to his orders. After a desperate surge of adrenaline, he mange to point the tip of his wand at Dudders.
"Do it Father, I have nothing left to give," the monstrosity stated, its remaining, many eyes closing in acceptance. Instead, Harry's arm flopped to the ground. He just didn't have the strength. "Father?"
"No," Harry grunted. Dudder's eyes opened. "No," he repeated. "Go now. Go and never darken my path again." The creature's maw dropped in surprise. "You are everything I feared you would be and you are now strong enough to survive. Go."
"I will always honor you," Dudder stated. He managed to shuffle himself a little to the side. "Farewell, Father!" In a burst of flame, the creature shot off into the sky.
This giant monster escaped from its fight to the death to the Los Angeles underground. Today, still feared by Harry Potter, he survives as a soldier of fortune. If you have a problem, if no one else can help and if you aren't afraid of possibly being eaten. . .maybe you can hire. . .Dudders.
DUH DA DUH DUH!
Remember, you didn't see nothing.
The last five years were light from Venus being refracted through swamp gas.
This is the Longbottom Way.
See you in the sequel Space Cowboys.
I need a drink.