JK Rowling Owns Harry Potter

FASA Owns the Earthdawn World Setting and Elianar Messias

In the last chapter, Death Eaters gained entry top Hogwarts when Theo Nott repaired a Vanishing Cabinet in the Room of Requirement. In the assault, Albus Dumbledore and Mad-Eye Moody were killed along with Hestia Jones and Cormac McLaggen. Harry, Bill, Remus, and Tonks fought Death Eaters at Hogwarts. Additionally, Severus Snape was the one who killed Dumbledore and he fled with the Death Eaters. This is where we pick up.

If you get a chance, check out my Holiday one shot - 'Unrepentant - Black Family Christmas Story'.

Special thanks to my Beta Reader, the 'Just William' for the excellent feedback and diligent work in making the story better.

DoD—

Chapter 46: Dances and Curses

July 3, 1997

Funeral of Albus Dumbledore

Harry pulled Ginny in close as the funeral of Albus Dumbledore wrapped up.

A man Harry now knew to be Albus' brother staggered forward. "Potter. Thank you for attending. I expect you two were extremely close, given how much time he's spent training you." His breath stank of fire whiskey.

Harry shrugged. "We never really saw eye to eye… But I hate that it all ended this way…" He then remembered his manners. "I'm sorry for your loss, Mr. Dumbledore."

Aberforth chuckled and shook his head. "You can't lose something you never had." He bitterly added, "I hate to say it, Potter… But you're better off with him gone. He was far too… interested in you."

Harry looked curiously at the man, "What do you mean, sir?" He didn't like the way the man was scowling. It was his brother's funeral…

"My brother… He was a manipulative son of a bitch. Always trying to find the right path… Greater Good my ass! He used to say that a lot, then Arianna paid the price." The man wiped his nose on his sleeve. Yeah, he was drunk. "He stopped preaching it, but he still manipulated everyone around him. Did you know he recruited your parents to his little group before they even graduated?" Aberforth took a sip from a hip flask he had tucked into his robes. "You're what, fourteen? Fifteen?"

"Sixteen…" He was shocked by Albus' brother. What a jack ass.

Aberforth sneered. "I bet he's got you doing his dirty work… Sixteen… He learned it from his dear old mother. She was a right foul old bitch. Well, now you're free. No more spider webs. Hell, they never really worked right anyway. Someone alllllllways paid the price. He got too wound up in second chances and gentle guidance bull shite. Damn fool. Manipulative, Greater Good son of a bitch." He then screamed for all to hear, "YOU'RE A SON OF A BITCH, ALBUS!"

Harry stared at the man in disbelief.

Aberforth looked at him accusingly, "So, are you now taking up the cause? Are you the new 'Leader of the Light? Greater Good for all and forgiveness for EVERYONE!"

Aberforth was clearly drunk and his mocking tone was over the top. The spit flying out of his mouth while he mocked Harry, causing him to recoil in disgust. That only resulted in Aberforth laughing all the harder.

Harry had had enough. Of all the days for this joker to show his arse! He threw the punch before he even realised he was planning to strike the old bastard.

Harry put all his weight behind it and punched the man right in the nose. It was a rock-solid punch and the nose was undoubtedly broken. It probably would have knocked the man out cold if it had struck his jaw. Aberforth's nose began bleeding profusely and was no longer straight. Somehow, the crookedness of his nose made Aberforth look a lot more like Albus. Harry stared at the man, daring him to make a move… yeah, go for it… everyone present became silent.

When it was clear Aberforth wasn't going to retaliate and give him a reason to beat on him some more, Harry attacked him verbally. "You old drunken goat! The last of your family is dead. People are scared and hurting… As far as Greater Good goes, it doesn't exist. There's simply good and excuses for not being good. You asked about forgiveness? I'll take justice every single time. If you have any doubt, just look in the mirror and ask your nose. This war is coming and I'm not fucking around with any stunners."

Aberforth stared at Harry for a good ten seconds. "I like you, Potter. I think, maybe, we've got a chance… When the shite hits the fan, I'm ready to fight." Aberforth then turned and staggered off.

Harry knew he'd just made a scene… Who fights at a funeral? Why did he always end up in these positions? Well, Andromeda may be mad, but Sirius would be laughing his arse off!

Harry turned and looked at the stunned crowd. "Does anyone else have anything to say?" He waited about three seconds, noting the overwhelmingly disapproving looks he was getting. "Good. So, let me say this… Albus Dumbledore could be a pain in the arse, but he at least tried to do the right thing… He mucked it up a hell of a lot more than most would expect, but he tried. I guess. He trained me all year to take the fight to that son of a bitch and that's what I plan to do!"

Harry then turned and faced the casket. He quietly whispered, "Did you hear me, Albus? I'm going to avenge you and every other person Voldemort, and his god damned followers have harmed. Rest in peace Albus, I suppose you earned it." Harry still harboured resentment for numerous actions and inactions, but he was glad that the two of them had found a measure of peace before it was too late.

DoD—

The funeral had ended an hour ago and Harry walked the now empty halls of Hogwarts. He had stormed off to cool down after his altercation with Aberforth. Not only had the man shown up drunk, but he had been insulting as well. It was like the guy was trying to stir him up. Well, mission accomplished.

He heard Bill call out, "Harry? Have you got a minute?" Turning, Harry saw Bill, Filius, and McGonagall. Everyone looked tense.

Harry walked back towards the group. "Sorry I lost it back there…" He ran his fingers through his hair. It was so much easier without thorns. Was he sorry? He didn't feel sorry…

Minerva twitched her head, "No need to apologise. It was well deserved…A true Warrior's Funeral."

Harry shook his head, "Albus Dumbledore may be a lot of things… including a tough as nails wizard, but he's never been a warrior. Battle mage, yeah…. But he was mostly a teacher. That's how I'll try to remember him. That doesn't change anything… I'm still going to kill Voldemort."

Filius gave a quick nod while McGonagall seemed to be at a loss for words.

Professor McGonagall managed to ask, "What are your plans now? Do you need assistance?"

Harry smirked, "The less you know, the better…" She'd just mess it all up. "I got all the training I need. Now I just have to see it through."

Filius gave him an intense stare. "We're counting on you, Harry." The meaning was clear, and the tone was steel-like. If Albus was a teacher who sometimes acted like a warrior, Filius was the opposite.

Harry looked at Bill. "You ready?"

Bill nodded grimly. "Tonks sent word, now's a good time…"

The others were looking at the pair oddly. They sensed something was up but knew better than to ask.

Bill looked at the others. "You'll have to excuse us, Professors… Harry and I have something to take care of." Filius simply nodded and Minerva looked conflicted… But neither said a word. They both knew whatever the pair had cooked up was not for the soft-hearted.

Harry and Bill walked in silence until they came to the Room of Requirement. After the door formed, they entered and walked directly up to the Vanishing Cabinet. Bill withdrew Mad-Eye Moody's artificial eye and looked over at Harry. Bill had a malicious gleam in his stare. The two of them had spent over twelve hours preparing the orb… it was payback time.

Harry watched Bill touch his wand to the eye, activating it. He then placed it in the cabinet and closed the door. After three seconds, he opened the door again, in case the eye was still there and needed to be 'deactivated'. The cabinet was empty. The two young men shared a look of satisfaction and left the cabinet door open, preventing it from being returned. The eye was a parting gift to whoever owned the other vanishing cabinet. The two walked away in silence, knowing they had just fired a massive salvo.

An hour ago, Tonks left the funeral and scouted Burgin and Burkes, knowing they had a Vanishing Cabinet in the store. The shop was full of Death Eaters and wannabe Death Eaters. The Vanishing Cabinet door had been reportedly propped open, but she had closed it and left immediately. Once clear, she sent Bill a Patronus giving him the green light.

Harry was glad that was done, but he took little satisfaction in the act. Too many had died, and Theo Nott had caused it all. Why the hell didn't Albus listen to him? Despite it all, he couldn't bring himself to hate Dumbledore. He had paid for his mistake… Harry now had other funerals to attend. Cormac McLaggen, - Alastor Moody, and Hestia Jones' funerals were all in the next three days.

As they left the Room of Requirement, Harry stopped and turned around. He sensed something… Then whatever it was disappeared. He turned and followed Bill out of the room and the doorway closed itself off and vanished.

DoD—

July 4, 1997

Daily Prophet

Explosion Rocks Knockturn Alley!

Burgin and Burkes Destroyed in freak explosion.

Numerous casualties reported.

None survived the blast.

Eyewitnesses testify that a quiet celebration was taking place when the store exploded in flames.

Why would anyone celebrate on such a solemn occasion as Albus Dumbledore's funeral?

At least a dozen was killed, including wanted Mass Murderer and Werewolf, Fenrir Greyback!

Why Greyback was at an establishment frequented by respected Wizards and Witches is a question no one seems able to answer.

DoD—

Harry's Dreamscape

July 5, 1997

Harry was deep in his dreamscape, sitting in front of the large tree that he associated with Oak Heart. In this contemplative position, he was focusing on shoring up his mental defences and contemplating the funerals he had attended. Oak Heart usually gave good feedback, but today, Oak Heart slept and only subconsciously guided Harry. Today was more empathic than telepathic… feelings of warmth and agreement contrasted with cool disapproval.

As he considered the funeral, Harry could sense the sadness in the ancient spirit. Both for what Harry had gone through and for the loss of a being Oak Heart seemed to hold in high esteem. Apparently, the Elder Elemental believed Dumbledore to be a force for peace and enlightenment. Harry grudgingly agreed but felt that peace and enlightenment would get too many people killed. He began reviewing his plans for the coming war.

Overall, Oak Heart seemed to agree with the war strategy. Harry felt a warmth as he reviewed the plans step by step. The only area lacking warmth was around finding the last Horcrux. Oak Heart apparently was as stumped as Harry was. The idea Oak Heart disagreed with was Harry's backup plan of simply wandering about and murdering known Death Eaters. That brought him waves of frigid disagreement.

Slowly, Harry became aware of another presence outside his defences. He rose up and changed into his Owl form. Flying over the vast forest of his mindscape he began gaining clarity on the presence. He swiftly landed and transformed back into his human form while approaching the outer edge of his defences.

Standing there was a tall man with an astounding presence. The man had a perfectly symmetrical face… something that was only rarely seen in the real world. He had black hair and intense grey eyes. He was applying a light pressure on the defences to get attention and appeared to be waiting for Harry.

"Greetings, descendant. It has been an exceptionally long time since I received a summons from any of my line." The man then smiled and said, "You are far younger than I would have expected…"

Harry stared at the man. "Who are you?" No, he wasn't really a man… he was a spirit of some sort.

"I am Elianar Messias. The original Master of Nethermancy, often dubbed the Master of Death. You are my descendant and the next Master of Death." He then took an appraising look at Harry. "You are quite formidable… and you've obviously been trained in Wizardry and Elementalism… Illusion magic as well… I sense you have multiple incarnations. Why on earth would anyone have two incarnations…?"

Harry wasn't sure what to say. "They were my parents… Why are you here? Inside my head?"

"Parents… That would explain it. Still, it is exceedingly rare to have one… Two is unheard of. Why am I here? To instruct and train you in the Ancient art of Nethermancy. To teach you about the Horrors that desire entry to your realm and how to defeat them. If you are wondering why now?" Elianar smiled softly, "You called me, apprentice. I merely answered."

Harry remembered the ringing that sounded in the astral plane when Albus had presented him with the third Hallow. "Are you a Peverell?"

The man looked amused. "No, not directly. The Peverell line descended from my own. As I stated before, I am Elianar Messias, the founder of Thera and a descendant of an ancient blood line that stretches back many thousands of years. It was my research that allowed civilization to survive the last scourge. The burden of preventing another now falls upon you, the next Master of Death."

Harry wasn't sure what to make of the man. He felt a longing to listen to him… to trust him. But that made him even more suspicious.

Suspicion bubbled up. "How do I know you aren't lying?"

He seemed to consider this and stated, "You do not."

Harry then asked, "So why should I listen to you at all?"

Elianar seemed less amused now. "You are wasting both of our time… I am offering to train and imprint thousands of years of knowledge on you. To make you a Master of Nethermancy… The next master of Death. A man able to protect his loved ones and ensure the survival of the world." He glanced slightly away in irritation. "I suppose suspicion is warranted. Perhaps even healthy… We'll start tomorrow night."

Harry was ready with a nasty retort when he heard Oak Heart awaken. His voice was soft like the rustling of leaves… "Listen to him Acorn. He is one of those who once venerated to me. He will guide you…" Oak Heart sounded so certain… "This is a gift young one. Do not be so short-sighted as to pass it over." He felt Oak Heart's presence recede.

Elianar's eyes seem to peer through him with an unearthly chill. "You are bonded with Oak Heart… You are full of surprises, apprentice. I believe we will both enjoy your training. Until tomorrow…" The man slowly faded from view.

DoD—

Grimmauld Place

July 12, 1997

Ginny was in a terrible mood. Over the last week she had had multiple bone and tissue samples extracted and preserved. That meant she had been on a constant dosing of skele-gro and tissue regenerative draughts. Both of which taste horrible and are rather painful.

She glared at Harry as she lay in bed. "Tell me again why I have to go through this, Harry."

Harry hated this too. "To keep your family safe. And don't look at me, Bill came up with the plan… Your parents and Ron consented to memory alteration. They all know how important this is."

Ginny squirmed in pain. Her collarbone and half of her hip were re-growing, and she couldn't get comfortable. This was the third cycle of removal and regeneration. Andromeda was a respected healer, but there was no way to make this pain free.

Through gritted teeth she responded, "Fine! Well, take my mind off it. Tell me about your training…"

Harry reflected on the last few nights with the spirit of Elianar Messias, the original Master of Death. If talking through his instruction with Ginny helped take her mind off the pain… So be it.

"Well, so far I'm learning about the depths of the astral plane. It's similar to Elementalism, but in a non-material way. The Near Umbra rests over our current space… this is what most Wizards and Witches ae aware of. The spells we cast draw sustenance from this space and our material plane is reflected there. But what we see is always true, but more of an interpretation. Does that make sense?"

Ginny gave him a pained look and shook her head.

Harry went deeper. "So, when I gaze upon you in the Near Umbra… actually it's more like a footprint… Well, you are bright, and you flicker a bit, like a flame. You also have a taste like cinnamon. It's hard to describe. But that's how I perceive you and your magic. Places like Hogwarts are incredibly bright… There's just so much magic there. I frequently wonder if the material plane is the echo of the Near Umbra."

Ginny was still in pain but intrigued. "Does Hogwarts have a taste to it?"

Harry nodded, "It's kind of like pipe smoke. Maybe I just read too much Lord of the Rings, but that's what I smell."

"Do you smell it or taste it?"

Harry had to think about that… "Both, I guess. It's kind of hard to separate it. More of a sensation, really. You'll learn more about it in your seventh year, most likely. Not everyone can develop their Astral sense, but I can help you through it if you have difficulty. They used to call it the 'Third Eye'…" They both chuckled at that. It sounded like Trelawney.

Harry took a moment to adjust Ginny's pillow. When she settled back, he continued.

"What I'm learning about now is the Astral plane beyond the near Umbra. The High and the Low. Then there's the Deep Umbra. The High Umbra is focused on thought and ideals. It sounds amazing and I'm looking forward to learning more about it. But that'll wait until I've learned more about the Lower Umbra. The Lower Umbra is focused on the deceased and where souls go … this is where spirits and spectres frequent. The Lower Umbra is a place of secrets and shadows. It's not a place for those among the living. This is the realm of the Nethermancer and the first area I'll learn. The Deep Umbra is the most mysterious and a place mortals should rarely tread."

Ginny flinched from the pain of new bone growth. "Are you… learning any… new curses?"

Harry nodded, "A few. But they're mostly variants of what I already know. The worst curses come much later. Apparently, I'm far from ready for those…" Harry rolled his eyes. "So, I can cast 'spirit darts' and an 'Astral Spear'… The damage isn't physical, though. Same with an Astral weapon. Truly little difference between these curses and the one's I know already, but the effects are near invisible."

"Do magical shields work against them?"

"I think so… yeah, they should. Armour is less effective, though." Harry realised he wasn't selling his new abilities well. "Keep in mind, it's only been a week or so. Supposedly, the good stuff comes after studying the Deep Umbra."

"What about the Elemental planes? Where do they fit in?"

Harry knew how confusing this could all be. "They're on the edge of the Near Umbra, but not in contact with our plane directly." After considering the question a bit more, he added, "I guess it's between the Near and the High Umbra… maybe. Magic doesn't always make logical sense… We think in three dimensions, but this is four dimensional. Maybe more… I do struggle a bit integrating my Elemental magic with this Nether magic. They don't contradict each other, but the paradigm and the theorems are often vastly different."

Ginny squirmed about a bit. "Right. Illogical and painful… Let's talk Quidditch…"

Harry could see how uncomfortable she was. He hated putting her through this, but it was necessary. In a weeks' time it would all be over. Arthur and Molly and Ron would have their memories of the bone and tissue extraction voluntarily suppressed. Bill would lift the suppression when it was safe.

Harry ran his hand through his hair. "Well, the Harpies are looking strong, but the Wasps are the real break-out team this season. The Cannons are… awful." That got a chuckle from Ginny. "Puddlemere is solid… Did you know Oliver is a backup Keeper for them?"

Harry talked until she finally fell asleep. In two days, she'd repeat the process, but that'd be the end of it. Harry stayed with her another hour or so, then tiptoed downstairs. Kreacher would let him know if she awakened…

Coming to the main room, he was surprised to find Fritz waiting for him.

"Good evening, Harry. I hope you're doing well."

Harry was glad to see his Divination instructor. "As well as can be expected. Ginny's had it rough."

Fritz winced slightly. "Skele-gro… That's not a fun way to spend the evening. But the plan is sound." He waited a moment, then continued. "Can we go somewhere private to talk?"

Harry now knew this was a business trip. "Sure. Let's use the study. Hopefully, Hermione's not in there… It doubles as a library."

Harry led the way and fortunately, the room was open. He and Fritz made their way to a pair of chairs and a coffee table. Harry sat down and a pair of teacups appeared. The lemony scent had Earl Grey written all over it. Kreacher was taking care of them.

Fritz produced a folder and set in on the table. "Harry, in the folder you'll find a detailed listing of escape routes and hidden sites around Britain to serve as safe houses. The Ministry wards will overlook them when the Ministry falls, and you'll eventually want to use the escape routes." Fritz handed Harry a map. "They're good routes to France, but eventually the Ministry will find them. Don't use the same routes back-to-back. Keep one unused until you personally need it. Last resort."

Harry sipped his tea. "Fritz, I'm not sure what I'm supposed to do with this. I mean, we talked a bit a while ago, but nothing firm…"

Fritz looked a bit embarrassed. "Quite right… sorry. When the new Ministry cracks down, they'll target dissidents first, then muggle born. Attached is a list of dissidents… You'll need to get them out of Britain as soon as the Ministry falls. Then focus on the muggle born wizards and witches. Put them in the safe houses, then move them in groups of twenty to thirty along the escape routes. More than thirty is too risky. Less than twenty is wasteful."

Harry looked over the lists. They were quite long. "Fritz, is there even a chance the Ministry won't fall?"

Fritz shook his head. "No. Well, not enough of a chance to warrant hope… John Dawlish and Pious Thicknesse have been Imperiused… As have dozens of others in key positions. The Floo network is no longer safe and the Department of Mysteries has finished our preparations… No, Harry. The pieces are all in place now and there is no one able to counter them."

Harry began scanning the lists. "So, how am I supposed to find the last Horcrux if I'm helping refugees escape?"

Fritz shook his head. "Delegate? Know when to move and when not to move?" He pulled out a small leather journal. "This journal is linked to the journal of a sympathiser. He'll send you information through the journal… but you can't always act on it. Pick your battles, Harry."

Harry took the journal. "Who's the sympathiser?"

Fritz closed his eyes a moment, "I can't say… Oaths have been taken. But you can trust him. He'll send information on Ministry movements and plans. Key raids as well. Anything he writes will come through in blue ink. If the journal falls into the wrong hands, the ink will be red. Discard the journal immediately if that happens."

Harry stared at the book. "I don't like it."

Fritz shrugged. "Nor do I… eventually, he'll be given false information. Don't always treat the information as accurate. Especially after the first three months. Always be cautious…"

Harry then asked, "Is Hogwarts prepared?"

Fritz gave a quick nod. "Filius, Minerva, and the rest of the staff will do what they can to protect the students… but it'll be a dark year. The Muggle-born students will especially have it rough… If they're even allowed to attend." Fritz then gave more instruction. "Focus on finding the unknown Horcrux… review the Memories Albus gave you! Also, get everything you need as soon as possible because the hammer is about to drop."

Harry nodded grimly. His stomach suddenly felt queasy. "Right. Any day now."

Fritz considered a moment and said, "Two to three weeks… They'll want the takeover to be seamless. Make sure you get that basilisk venom form your vault… you're going to need it. The ministry has taken the Sword of Gryffindor… so Basilisk Venom is your only option for destroying Horcruxes. Stock up on potions… food… medical needs… Whatever you need to have for a year or more."

Harry did a double take. "A Year?!"

Fritz looked especially serious. "If you haven't found the last Horcrux in a year, use the last escape route and begin preparing France. You can't really beat him until both the unknown Horcrux and the snake Horcrux are destroyed. The others have now been destroyed, but until those last two are gone, there is no decisive victory. Make sure he has the Death Stick before you engage. Every advantage helps…"

Harry nodded. He'd heard this before… That's why they buried the Elder Wand with Albus. What moron came up with the name 'Death Stick'?

Fritz continued, "Avoid using Voldemort's name. In his last rise, he managed to create a jinx, and he'll likely do it again. That's why no-one refers to him by name, it attracts the attention of his followers. The Death Eaters have a general idea of where Grimmauld Place is, so make sure you Apparate a good distance away before going out and about."

Harry grimly reflected how the witty and sarcastic man that had taught him so much over the last year was long gone. Fritz Oppenheimer was now dead serious and grim. This was a man on a mission and Harry found it hard to see him like this. Still, the message was clear. All in… for the win. Or in this case, the loss.

"Thank you, Fritz…"

Harry summoned Kreacher, Pipsey and Dobby and set them to the tasks required for preparing the home. A year… wow.

DoD—

Grimmauld Place

July 28, 1997

Harry was relaxing at Grimmauld place. Reflecting on their preparations. Overall, they felt ready. Ginny's last treatment had been a week ago, medical supplies were collected, but Andromeda focused as much on ingredients as she did potions and creams. The shelf life on potions was poor once brewed.

Harry had given up half of the attic gym for storage and potion brewing. They had containers stuffed everywhere… The House elves, the Malfoys and the Tonks families had collected enough food and consumable goods to last ten adults a year and a half.

Harry did a mental count… The Malfoys were two… The Tonks's were three… Hermione, Ginny and he made eight… Remus came in at number nine. Plus, three house elves… Kreacher, Dobby, and Pipsey. Hopefully, they wouldn't have to take on any more people. They'd be sleeping on the floor if that happened.

He was pulled out of his thoughts when Bill came walking in. "Harry… just the man I wanted to see."

Harry stood up a little confused. "Shouldn't you be out celebrating or something?"

"We need to recast the Fidelius over the house. Limit the people who know. Tomorrow we'll do the same with Shell cottage."

Harry knew that had been the plan, but there were so many objectives.

Bill set a shoulder bag on the table and opened it. "I'll be your Secret Keeper and you can be mine. The Fidelius only works when the Secret Keeper lives elsewhere. We can visit, but we can't move in. Trust is a key ingredient." He began unloading the key objects for the Fidelius Charm… candles, maps, crystals, Thestral hair…

Harry had cast the Charm before and knew you were supposed to use a Secret Keeper that was outside the dwelling. That's why his parents didn't just name Lily as the Secret Keeper, making the location impossible to trace. It made sense that there had to be a catch. There always was with magic. In this case, it was complete trust. Funny how it was called a charm when it was really more of a ritual.

Harry walked over and helped Bill unpack. "Thanks Bill. For always being there for me…"

Bill stopped unpacking and smiled at him. "That what family is for, Harry. Support."

DoD—

Grimmauld Place

July 31, 1997

~2AM

Harry was gazing far into Astral space while the world twisted and splintered into a multitude of fractals. There was no up or down… no side to side… The Astral plane went on into infinity. He was now seeing the lower Astral plane… the Lower Umbra… as it really was. A series of secrets and shadows… A dimension of obfuscation and echoes. Harry instinctively felt a connection here. Illusion magic was aligned, but so was Nether magic. It called to him and he instinctively answered.

There were beings in the Lower Umbra that defied description. This was a realm of dreams and nightmares. If the Upper Umbra was the realm of reason and rational thought, the Lower Umbra was the realm of intuition and emotion. It was exactly like the Seelie and the Unseelie. And completely, one hundred percent, different. They were nothing alike, but unerringly the same… It would drive Hermione to spare… but he understood it by not trying to understand… By just accepting it.

Dimly, Harry heard a voice guiding and instructing him. "Yes, Harry… let yourself feel the emptiness of the Astral plane… Then rejoice in how full it is… This is the way of the Nethermancer. Align yourself to the vastness…" The words made perfect sense and no sense whatsoever. An infinite period of time passed all within a millisecond, "Now, follow my voice, Harry. Slowly return… Contract back into the purview of the mortal mind."

Harry did just that. He slowly began closing off his perceptions… accepting the limits his rational mind was imposing. This continued until he was back in his mindscape. At a table… The incarnation of his parents was on either side of him. Directly opposite of him was Elianar Messias. His parents Incarnations looked nervous, but Elianar seemed proud.

The ancient spirit praised him. "Very good Harry… You are adapting and aligning quite well. Intuitive magic seems to come easily to you."

Harry slowly came to terms with his position. "That was… so vast. So deep."

Elianar smiled. "Yes. Once you have a better feel for the Lower Umbra, we'll look into the Upper Umbra."

Lily's incarnation looked at James briefly. "Is this safe? You're moving so fast…"

Elianar spoke, but never flinched or even blinked. "This is quite safe. Harry, you are not really learning new material. I already transferred all my knowledge to you. You are simply… remembering all I know, and all the knowledge collected by the previous Masters of Death. This is your birth right."

James' incarnation asked, "How did you get your knowledge transferred?" He tried not to show his nervousness. James couldn't help but wonder of this was a possession of some sort.

Elianar heard James but focused on Harry. "Acquiring the loyalty of the three Hallows signalled the knowledge transfer. I completed the transfer when we met. It is not dissimilar to how decades of knowledge in Wizarding, illusion, and elemental mastery were transferred so quickly from your parent's incarnation to you… But I am not an incarnation. I am the spirit of your ancestor and I vowed to train and develop my descendants." With a sigh, Elianar rose up. "I believe you've learned enough tonight. Spend time with your parent's incarnations. Dream of happy thoughts and I'll return soon enough for your next lesson."

Harry barely had time to stand up and thank his new teacher before he had faded away.

Lily shook her head slightly. "Let's put all that out of mind and watch a few memories on the tele. James, tonight is your turn…"

James walked over to the television and rested his hand on it. "Tonight, we watch… Our wedding. This time through my eyes. Prepare to see Sirius in rare form…"

Harry chuckled… "Is the Bachelor party included?" James smirked and looked away.

Lily answered before James even registered the question. "NO!"

DoD—

The Burrow

July 31, 1997

Harry and his family attended a small party at the Burrow for his birthday. There were lots of people there, but Bill and Fleur were getting married the next day, so it was a calm affair. In truth, Harry preferred that over a lot of fanfare and attention.

Due to the Fidelius on the Burrow, the wedding was going to be held at the Prewett Manor. Their Aunt Muriel had agreed to host the wedding as she always had a soft spot for Bill. That meant the Burrow was rather empty after Harry had been given his cake and gifts. Given that he was of age, the gifts were the kind you would give an adult. They were mostly small but thoughtful gifts.

Albus had given him a pocket watch that called out the time in his parent's voices two years ago. Seeing how pocket watches weren't the most practical, Arthur and Molly gave him a wristwatch that had belonged to Fabian Prewett, one of Molly's brothers. Harry thought it was brilliant. Instead of hands, it had stars that circled the face. Hermione gave him a set of fancy quills that were self-inking and had sterling refinements. Ginny's gift was a set of cufflinks with the Potter crest on them. And so on… These were the gifts you would give a young adult.

The greatest gift was time spent with Ginny. His Familiar had elected to stay at Grimmauld place and harry was relieved not to have to referee the constant fighting and sniping with Ginny. He loved the girls, but their possessiveness was hard to take at times. Or maybe they just didn't like Ginny…

He and Ginny managed to sneak off in the confusion of the wedding preparations and spend a few hours together alone. They professed their devotion for one another and celebrated his birthday as a young couple very much in love. It was at this point that Harry knew he wanted to spend the rest of his life with Ginny. Eventually, Ginny went to Prewett Manor and attended the rehearsal and Harry wore a glamour and attended the rehearsal dinner as her date.

This was, without a doubt, the best birthday ever.

DoD—

Prewett Manor

August 1, 1997

Bill and Fleur's Wedding

The next day, Harry went to Prewett manor and watched the hustle and bustle of activity. He hid under the same simple glamour as the night before so no one would recognize him. Given the frantic chaos of the hours before the wedding, it probably wasn't necessary. Aunt Muriel was beaming with pride and Molly seemed a bit subdued around her great aunt.

Harry was obligated to introduce himself to 'Aunt Muriel' since she was the hostess. He found her to be loud, gossipy, and obnoxious. While she didn't approve of the Glamour he was forced to wear, she agreed it may be for the best. It was so strange seeing Molly Weasley act mild and deferential to the older woman. Harry mentally played the music to the Twilight Zone in his head.

After an hour of mingling, everyone took their seats and waited while the wedding procession started. Arthur was Best Man and the five Weasley brothers were all Groomsmen. Bill had wanted Harry to be a Groomsmen with the other Weasley's, but it was decided that was too risky. So, he sat with Molly and watched the ceremony. Ginny and Gabby were both Bridesmaids and Gabby was constantly smiling and fluttering her eyes at him… She was almost three years older than when he'd last seen her and she no longer looked… like a child. There's a big difference between a ten- or eleven-year-old Veela and one who is thirteen or fourteen years old. She was a little taller than Ginny now. Ginny looked ready to kill the younger girl. Harry tried not to look at either of them. How did Gabby even know it was him under the Glamour?

Fleur was a vision of beauty and grace as she walked down the aisle to stand beside Bill. The Minister was the same older man that had officiated Albus' funeral. Harry wondered if he was a family friend or if there just weren't many Wizarding ministers. Was he even a real minister?

The reception after the wedding was remarkably interesting. Apparently, a new book had come out about Albus Dumbledore and the older attendees were all talking about it. Avoiding the gossip, Harry met up with Hermione, who looked stunning in her dress. Remus and Tonks showed up closer than Harry had ever seen them before. Luna was there with her father, both dressed rather eccentrically in bright yellow. Krum also showed up as Fleur's guest and Ron seemed to be irritated with his presence.

Harry decided he was going to focus on one person only: Ginny. He went through the line and congratulated Bill and Fleur, then he took Ginny to the dance floor and stayed with her. Two other Wizards tried to cut in, but Harry refused. Etiquette can go to hell as far as he was concerned. He was staying with Ginny.

Eventually, he was obligated to switch partners with Ron and danced with Hermione…

Harry could tell she looked irritated. "Hermione, what's wrong?"

She huffed, the whispered, "Ron is trying to keep me from Victor. He's being a jealous GIT and passing me to his brothers. And now you… I only want to discuss international views and how our issues in Great Britain are viewed by the rest of the Wizarding World." Her cheeks were flushed in anger.

Harry slowly realised he was doing the same thing to Ginny that Ron was doing to Hermione. "Well, maybe he's just… insecure?" Shite! Was that what Ginny thought of him?

Hermione thought about it for a minute or two. "Maybe. But that doesn't make it alright, Harry. I want to see my friends too and… Arrrggg." She finally just said, "Ronald!"

When the song ended, Harry turned to find Ginny and saw she was dancing with Krum! What the hell? He planned to use Hermione to switch back, but when he turned, she was off with Ron again. She looked over and Harry could tell she had the same idea he had. Ron was too fast…

Harry was considering his options when he felt a soft hand lightly grasp his own. Turning, he saw it was Gabby. Her eyes were so bright and happy, he didn't really want to dance but he couldn't disappoint her. She looked adorable in her dress. Maybe adorable was the wrong word… She looked radiant.

She looked up at him and said, "Danseras-tu avec moi?" Harry had learned French long ago, she was asking if he'd dance with her.

Harry couldn't refuse that… Especially not after realising he was being as big a GIT to Ginny as Ron was to Hermione. He and Gabby were friends and Fleur was like a sister…

He smiled and asked, "Voulez-vous me faire l'honneur d'une danse?" Which translated to 'Will you do me the honour of a dance?' It probably wasn't completely correct, but he was trying.

She laughed musically, saying, "Oui!" Taking his hand, she led him out to centre of the dance floor.

Harry realised the music was a different pace than before. It was unbelievably soft and slow… Harry was a little embarrassed that they were dancing to one of the slower sets… Poor Gabby must be so embarrassed to have approached him during a romantic tune. Looking at her, Harry realised she was not embarrassed in the slightest. She then put her head on his shoulder while they danced. Did she know how this looked?

Suddenly Gabby was pulled off him and Harry was staring at a red-faced Ginny Weasley. She was glaring at Gabby and if looks could kill, the younger girl would be dust and ashes. In turn, Gabby was looking innocent and… amused? Krum was standing to the side looking confused as well. A few other dancers were glancing their way.

What the hell was going on here?

Just then, a large silver light dropped into the middle of the dance floor. Everyone turned in shock and Harry realized this was a silver Patronus of a Lynx. The Patronus then began speaking in a loud and deep voice that Harry recognised as belonging to Kingsley Shacklebolt.

"The Ministry has fallen. Scrimgeour is dead. They are coming."

Harry looked at Gabby, "Run to your parents! Get away as fast as you can!" Gabby turned and fled to her parents and they apparated away. Other guests were also Apparating to safety as the protective charms over Prewett Manor were falling.

Harry then looked at Ginny and gave a small nod. It was show time.

Fleur kissed Bill and Apparated away. She knew he'd be distracted with her safety. Additionally, the Death Eaters may take too much of an interest in her. Within five seconds, half the guests had left, and the wards fell. Harry felt an anti-Apparition charm go up, then fall apart. Death Eaters were suddenly everywhere. Harry dropped his glamour and began stunning Death Eaters as fast as they appeared. The scene was complete chaos.

Move… 'Stupefy'… Move… 'Stupefy'…. Over and over. He so wanted to fire off lethal curses, but he knew the Weasley's and the Prewett's would pay the price if he did. So much for his 'no stunner' policy… No, he had to make this a show. He quickly became the main target and a few curses almost impacted him.

Then he managed to manoeuvre himself into position.

A Death Eater stood directly between Ginny and himself. Harry dodged two curses and sent a largest, flashiest bolt of energy at the Death Eater. He telegraphed the attack so much a first year could have dodged it. It was all show… Light and illusion…

The Death Eater leaped out of the way and the bolt twisted and flashed past him and into Ginny. There was a brilliant flash followed by an explosion that knocked everyone within twenty feet of Ginny to the ground. As the dust cleared, there was only a smoking crater with a few scraps of clothing and bone fragments where Ginny had been standing.

Harry parried two curses and dodged a third, screaming, "Nooooooo!"

Ron then screamed in shock, "You bastard!" and began firing curses at Harry. That was unexpected.

The curses were fuelled with so much emotion, Harry actually had to reinforce the shield he'd raised. "This was unplanned, but perfect. Ron just kept firing over and over until Harry managed to counter and hit him with a stunner.

At that point, Hermione grabbed Harry's arm and they disappeared, narrowing escaping before an anti-Apparition ward was raised.

From the moment the wards fell to Harry's escape, it had been no more than ninety seconds. Probably less.

DoD—

Grimmauld Place

August 3, 1997

Andromeda and Ted were trying to calm the teens down. It had been two days, and everyone was worried. Harry was pacing and fidgeting while Ginny was sitting and staring off. Hermione was trying to calm them both down, but they were too keyed up.

Harry rubbed his forehead. "I can't believe they would interrupt a wedding… Well, yeah… I guess I can. I had planned to do the disappearing act in Diagon Ally, not at a Wedding reception." He was worried the explosion Ginny had triggered may have hurt someone.

Ginny began crying again. "Mum and Dad… I hope they're alright. The others too. Poor Bill… his wedding was ruined…"

Draco and Narcissa watched quietly. Not really knowing what to say.

Bill soon entered the home. He looked tired, but alright. Remus and Tonks were behind him.

Ginny ran over and hugged him. "Is everyone alright?"

Bill held her and rubbed her back. "Everyone's fine, Ginny. Tired, but fine."

She let go of him and asked, "Why did they attack? Why now?"

Tonks spoke up, "They knew Harry would be at the Wedding. The entire take over was designed to capture Harry and the Ministry in one swoop. They didn't count on Harry killing the youngest Weasley in his escape."

Remus put his arm around her and looked at Harry. "The first anti- Apparition charm failed… Apparently the Prewett wards had built in redundancy programs. It took a minute for them to raise a ward to replace it." He looked over at Bill. "Nice work."

Harry asked, "So, everyone is alright? No one was hurt?"

Bill shook his head, "Not in a permanent way. Bumps and bruises. A broken arm or two. We all had to go through interrogations, but even under Veritaserum no one could name your location. Ron bought into the accidental killing in a big way. He was seething that you would be so reckless. Honestly, after your overacting, it didn't hurt to have Ron so enraged."

Harry knew he laid it on thick. "Yeah, he was firing some pretty nasty curses at me."

Bill added, "The whole family is under observation and they'll have to keep their heads down. At least for now, everything is alright. We had to remove the Fidelius on the Burrow and it was searched top to bottom…"

Harry could only say, "I'm so sorry, Bill."

Bill put his hand on Harry's shoulder. "It's alright, Harry. Everyone is fine. The Delacour's are back in France and the assumption is that Fleur is with them. The Floo network has been disconnected from all of our houses, but Apparition works. Stay in touch and stay safe." Harry gave him a small nod. "I'm going to join Fleur… Her family got away safely, but she's still worried. I need to be with her."

Harry hated that everyone thought he had killed Ginny. "When will you remove the memory blocks?"

Bill looked sad and guilty. "After the Funeral." Looking at Ginny, he added, "I'm sorry Ginny."

Ginny gave a little nod. She knew what would happen if the Death Eaters got a hold of Harry Potter's girlfriend.

Bill departed while Remus and Tonks settled in. Tonks knew she'd be apprehended on the spot if she went into work… So, it was the ten of them.

The war was over, and the rebellion was beginning.

DoD—

This chapter took longer than expected to write, but that's becoming a common theme. It is the last of the planned 'transitional' chapters and the next four chapters will focus on action and events. I am still planning to wrap this story up by chapter 50.

Thank you all and let's hope 2021 is calmer than 2020.