I'M BACK! It's been way to long and I can not make any promises about how long it will be for the next chapter, but I'm feeling pretty good.
I would like to thank those who review and wish me well. These are difficult time we live in the United States and the World. With many people losing their lives, loved ones and jobs to Covid, it is heartbreaking to read the news. Throw in the racial tensions, political differences and everything else we can squabble over here in the US, including wearing a mask that's sole purpose is protect ourselves, our loved ones and the people of our community and…and…well I truly hope there is a time in the future where we can rebuild this country, reconnect with our friends and have disagreements instead of arguments. Divisiveness has been a political agenda for four years now, hopefully we can find unity.
As I get ready to publish this chapter, vaccines are likely on the horizon though still months out from being distributed widespread, but a light is at the end of the very long dark tunnel we've been going through. Even with that light, the tunnel seems to be getting darker as the days get shorter (for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere). We're now experiencing 150,000-200,000 and even more cases a day and deaths are skyrocketing here in the United States. Be smart people, socially distance, wear a mask and wash your hands… do you really want yourself or a loved to die this close to the end of this Pandemic if you can help it?
Sigh….had a Guest reviewer try to correct me about Hermione's OWLs from last chapter. I quoted the PUBLISHER! And yet they still think they need to correct me…sigh.
To help me move the story along, I'm going to start speeding through some of the summer. I want to get back to Hogwarts in the next chapter or two and then start to wind this story down. I know how it ends (though my muse my change a detail or two along the way) so hopefully we can get this finished by summertime.
%%%% July 15th %%%%
"For all the wrong Professor Snape does," Hermione said as she stirred the potion in front of her once clockwise after the seven counterclockwise stirs and watched it turn pale pink, "He does know his potions."
"Too bad he didn't write textbooks instead of teaching," Harry replied. They were finishing the Draught of Living Death per the 'Half-Blood Prince' instructions. "Wonder why the textbooks we use at school are so bad? I mean obviously these instructions are better than what's in our textbooks."
"Well there is an old saying," Hermione said as glanced up from her stirring. "Those that can, do, and those that can't teach. Somewhere along the line, I read a caveat to that saying that said 'Those can neither do nor teach, write textbooks.' "
"And instruction manuals, don't forget writing instruction manuals," Hermione's mother added as she overheard the last of the conversation as she walked into the garage where they had set up the potion brewing area. "Here are two of the Epipens we have at the office." She continued while handing over the devices. "And this is the practice one."
Harry took them from her and set them on their makeshift table. "Thank you. We'll feel better when you have something at your work that can give you some protection."
"Well Dobby and Winky are taking turns there today," Jean Granger replied. "I would never have known they're there, but it seems the office got a little cleaner during the day. And that is difficult to accomplish considering how clean a Dentist office is to start with. Our assistant hasn't run out screaming so I presume she didn't see them either."
"Make sure Dobby and Winky know that you are happy," Hermione said as she continued to concentrate on the potion.
"Oh, I will, but they are currently making dinner," Jean replied. "Of course, they don't have to deal with traffic to and from our office."
"I'm sure they would be willing to apparate you there every day," Harry suggested. "They are going there anyway."
"And no one see us come and go?" Jean asked. "It would get very suspicious very quickly."
"How much longer?" Jean asked. "I can let Dobby and Winky know."
"About…. twenty minutes," Hermione replied as she quickly glanced at her watch.
"There, perfect," Hermione said as the potion turned clear as water a short time later. "Now we need to find a way to load this in the epipen and then test it."
"Who do have in mind to test it on?" Harry asked.
"We should try it first on an animal," Hermione replied, "Though we do need to test it on a person."
"Try it out on me," Harry said.
"And if for some reason I have to take you to St. Mungos?" Hermione asked. "How long would it take for the word that we're working on brewing the Draught of Living Death to get back to ears that we don't want it going to?"
"Think Madam Bones can suggest someone? Maybe Tonks?" Harry asked.
"Actually, I have a better idea," Hermione replied. "What about one or both of the Twins? See how they like being an unknowing test subject?" She still nursed a grudge from the telescope that gave her a black eye at the Burrow. "No one would bat an eye if they needed medical assistance."
"Sounds like the perfect subjects," Harry agreed. "If this goes well, then maybe it's something they can add into their list of items to sell to the Ministry for the Aurors. I mean stunners don't keep people down when they have partners, but the Draught will."
"True, but it might also take away our advantage by having this, not to mention similar usage for nefarious purposes," Hermione said.
"What do you mean?"
"Well almost any potion could be delivered in this manner," Hermione explained. "And no one in the wizarding world knows about these, so like having a knife that no one takes away, how about having a way to put someone down in a semi-permanent fashion that doesn't kill them."
"Good point, but first let's just make sure we can protect your parents."
It took them two days to figure out a way to replace the epinephrine with their potion. They first conjured a similar sized container and practiced the switching spell with colored water until they could do it with the precision necessary. Fortunately, they also learned that a simple 'Reparo' charm returned the medical device to its original construction.
In the meantime, they had shown Dobby and Winky how to use the training device.
"Since I do not know if it is different with magical potions, I'm going to presume it is the same as standard medication absorption." Hermione explained to the elves. "The human body has two locations which allows for the fastest absorption of injected medications. The upper arm," she indicated the spot, "and the lateral thigh muscle." Again, she indicated the spot along her upper leg. "With the thigh actually being the best spot for the fastest absorption. So, with your height, that is actually the perfect spot to try for going against a standing wizard." Hermione demonstrated by holding the epipen and bringing it to her thigh. "But try is the optimal word. If you can't get to their thigh, inject them wherever you can reach. It could possibly take longer for it to work but we are pretty sure they will still go down."
"Damn you Potter," Severus Snape yelled as another empty glass that had been filled with Firewhisky smashed into the stone fireplace at his residence at Spinner's End. It was followed by the empty bottle. "All your fault," He muttered drunkenly, "Yours and that bloody know-it-all mudblood".
Ever since the fiasco with the Dementors and Death Eater raid in central London, neither Voldemort nor Dumbledore were sharing information with Severus. Both of his 'Masters' were now using Severus as nothing more than a gopher boy. Dumbledore had even forbidden him from coming to the Order meetings while Voldemort had him brewing potions that could be bought at any apothecary.
"All Potter's fault," Muttered Snape again as he opened another bottle. "But you wait and see…they'll both see how much they need me and beg me for my help…just need to remind them both that I am irreplaceable."
%%%% July 18th %%%%
"Though this place in Switzerland is the very best place for Psychiatric care in the wizarding world according to the information Hermione was able to find and confirmed by the mind healers at St. Mungos," Harry said to Mr. and Mrs. Weasley, as he handed over parchment with a description and several photos of the buildings and surrounding area, "There is another place in New Zealand that is just as promising and much smaller. They only take a maximum of 7 patients at a time ensuring all aspects of the patient's care can be addressed." Again, he handed over the information and pictures. "Hermione and I believe the place in New Zealand would be best for Ginny. As they point out, the small number of patients they have at any given time would allow for the specialized care that Ginny needs. Hermione," Harry nodded to his wife, "has already reached out to the clinic. After she gave the specifics of the case, without giving any names of course, they are most eager to help. They also have small cabins on their premises for a family member or two to stay in while the patient is under their care. Though they stressed that would be imperative that you only interact with the patient under very strict guidelines."
"And it's far far away from Dumbledore," Hermione thought to her husband who gave her a slight wink in agreement.
"But…but…such a place would cost…" Mrs. Weasley started.
"The cost is not important," Harry said emphatically. "Ginny's mental health is. Not only because of what she means to you, but also because I need to know she will not be a threat to Hermione."
"Did they say how long it would take?" Arthur asked.
"They can't know for sure until they have had a chance to examine Ginny," Hermione answered this time. "They were, of course, dismayed that it happened over three years ago, but believe that it could take anywhere from nine to eighteen months to..."
"OVER A YEAR!" Mrs. Weasley exclaimed cutting Hermione off. "What about her education?"
"What about your daughter's life?" Hermione responded slightly heated. "Remember that she just tried to kill me. What kind of education would she get in prison?" Hermione sighed before continuing. "No one wants that. Neither Harry nor I want Ginny sent to Azkaban, but we'll not have her as a threat. Besides, what is a year in the life of a witch? Especially if it makes her mentally whole? Also, I will remind you that it might have been a lot less if she had been treated much earlier."
It was obvious that Molly wanted to respond, but Arthur squeezing her hand stopped her before she could.
"As I was saying, nine to eighteen months to get Ginny fully healed." Hermione continued. "But the mind healers did warn that though her original personality should make it through unscathed it's possible a few memories might be lost. Again, they won't know for sure until they see how deep the problem lies. Now do you agree that this is the best solution? We can arrange for both of you to escort Ginny to the facility and speak to the healers there. If you are comfortable about the arrangements, then Mrs. Weasley, you can stay there with Ginny while Mr. Weasley can return. Or if you can take a leave of absence from work, both of you can stay. It's your choice."
Molly looked at her husband who gave a slight nod. She returned the nod. "Yes, for Ginny."
"We had hoped that would be the case and tentatively made some arrangements," Harry said. "Your international portkey will be leave in three days at 9pm. That means it will be a little after 8am when you get there." Harry and Hermione had pre-arranged the portkey because they did not want Mrs. Weasley talking herself out of getting Ginny help. "We will set up a small allowance for you to draw on while you are there. It should provide you with food and clothes as well as give you galleons you can use to enjoy times by yourself on days that the clinic will not allow you to interact with your daughter."
"What about Ron," Arthur asked. "If we both go, who will be watching him?"
"Bill can watch him for the next few days," Hermione responded. "If you decide to stay as well, then it's only a little over a month before he's back at Hogwarts." She glanced at Harry who gave a simple nod. "We feel he we can interact with him without trouble, though as you can imagine, we'll never be the friends we once were."
%%%% 22 July %%%%
"Sirius said you wanted to see us?" Fred asked as he and George walked into Harry's room.
"Said it was about a prank?" George added.
"It is very important," Hermione replied with a smile. "But first, did your parents and Ginny make it to New Zealand?"
"Yeah, we got a message that they had arrived and Ginny was already scheduled for her first appointment tomorrow morning, or guess that's tonight this time?"
"We're glad to hear it," Hermione replied.
"Have to say we're surprised that you went to all that trouble," Fred said.
"Especially for someone who tried to kill you," George added.
"If Ginny had gotten the help when she needed it," Hermione explained, "she wouldn't be this far gone. I don't even blame your parents," She continued. "They were listening to someone they respected."
"Still, she's our little sister, so we have to say thank you." Fred replied.
"If there is anything we can do," George said. "Just name it."
"Well, funny you should mention that," Harry said, "There is something you can do. If you could just stand on those X's?" He pointed to two marks that they had drawn on the floor." As expected, the twins, after glancing down, immediately backed away into a clearer area on the room while starting to look around for the trap they were expecting.
"No way, you're going trick….." Fred started but before he could finish his sentence two distinct clicks could be heard as disillusioned elves brought the autoinjectors against the twin's thighs.
"What was…." George started as he tried to reach for his thigh, but he did not even finish the words or motion before he and his brother collapsed.
Harry and Hermione had had their wands ready expecting this and each levitated a brother gently to the floor.
"Well it seems to have worked," Sirius said from the door. He had followed the twins up to see the muggle devices used.
"And very fast as well," Hermione added as the knelt beside one of the twins and started performing a medical diagnostic spell. "Similar to the reaction of the cow from yesterday and quite a bit faster than oral application of the potion." They had snuck onto a farm to test the solution on a cow the previous day under Harry's invisibility cloak. "He's fine." She said before performing the same spell on the other twin.
"A Death Eater wouldn't have been able to even utter a spell before being out of action." Harry said.
"And the other Death Eaters wouldn't have a clue to what happened since they didn't drink a potion," Hermione added. She pulled out a vial containing the antidote and dropped several drops in each of the twin's mouth. "It'll take them a few minutes to come around and another few minutes to get their bearing, but they'll be fine," She said confidently.
"Dobby…Winky," Harry said. "You two did excellent." The two elves beamed in pride. "Now let's get your things repaired, sterilized and refilled so you have something to protect Hermione's parents with."
It wasn't long before the twins started moaning and moving slightly, then an eye opened on one of them, then the other. It took another minute before both had opened their eyes though keeping them open seemed to be a challenge for them.
"Geor?" Fred finally whispered in a slurred voice.
"Ye Fre..," George replied in the same voice.
"Hav ny idere wat happn'd?" Fred slurred.
George's eyes moved slowly around until they came to rest on the smiling Harry, Hermione and Sirius. "I thin we gt prak'd."
It was a few more minutes before the twins finally was able to think and speak clearly. Finally, Harry and Hermione explained what they done and showed them the autoinjectors. "And as you saw, or should say demonstrated, the potion actually works much faster than if it was ingested," Hermione finished.
"Any chance we can sell something like this?" Fred asked. "Madam Bones would go insane."
"We thought of that," Hermione replied, "but we'd like to keep it to ourselves right now. At least until Voldemort has been dealt with."
"The unknown of this is our best defense," Harry continued. "If Aurors had these, then no matter what secrecy you swear them to, the word will get out."
"But if you want to get ahead of the game and reverse engineer one of them," Hermione started.
"Reverse Eng…near?" Fred asked.
"Take it apart to see how it works," Hermione explained. "Find a better way to do something like you two always seem to do."
"We can definitely do that," George exclaimed.
"We need these, but we will get you one that you can take apart and play with," Harry said.
%%%% 23rd July %%%%
"And a Bishop moves…which is the bishop again…" Pansy Parkinson muttered to herself as she referenced a Wizard's Chess study guide, "Ah…these pieces beside the king and queen," she again referenced the guide, "they move diagonally? At least the knights are on or represented by horses…that will be easy to remember and they moved…." She read the words and looked at the picture and sigh. "Who in the bloody hell decided on that?" Pansy finally set the book down and glanced around the room. It was filled with books on Quidditch as she tried to familiarize herself with the intricacies of the sport. She knew Ronald Weasley was fanatic about two things and they were Wizard's chess and Quidditch. She had decided on the best approach to engaging with him was an argument about Quidditch, especially his favorite team, the Chudley Cannons. She was sure he could manipulate the argument into other interests and bring up Chess. Unfortunately it had never been something she was interested in but she was determined to make her plan work to save her family's fortunes and if that meant she had to learn to play chess, well she would learn.
"Pain reliever? Blood replenishing?" Snape grumbled for the hundredth time as he stirred a cauldron. "Any dunderhead 6th year student can make these." By Voldemort requesting these, he knew that the Dark Lord was planning something and possibly something big, but Voldemort had made it quite clear that Snape was dismissed from his presence before any discussions were started. "And when I went to see Albus, he was quite dismissive as well." Severus had been wracking his brains for a way to get back into the graces of at least one, but preferably both of his 'Masters'.
"Draco should have been the key," Snape muttered. He knew that Dumbledore wanted to know about young Malfoy, but after he had told Dumbledore the Dark Lord's words about the young man would return before the school year started, the Headmaster had only said, "Well we shall have to wait to see what can be done for poor Draco when the time comes." And that had been it.
Snape shifted his gaze to a different cauldron and gave it three turns and reduced the flames. "What next," He muttered, "Going have me start making sweets and candies? Maybe some Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans or Acid pops?" Snape grumbled, "Or Toothflossing String….." Snape stopped as the word 'toothflossing' had given him an idea. An idea that not only would get him in the good graces of the Dark Lord, but would bring Dumbledore begging for his help. The cherry-on-top would be that it would destroy Potter's Know-It-All Mudblood which would hurt Potter while not going against his oath to protect Potter. When he had thought of the Toothflossing Candy, It had triggered a thought of Potter's wife growing tusks when the toothgrowing spell had hit her and that had reminded him that her parents were dentists…and dentists can't hide behind wards when they are working.
"All I have to do is kidnap her parents and present them to the Dark Lord," Snape said to himself. "The Dark Lord will have hostages to attempt to lure Potter while at the same time Dumbledore will be beside himself trying to determine away to get them back or risk losing Potter."
It was a much happier Severus Snape who finished up the simple potions he had been required to brew for he knew it was not for too much longer. "It should be fairly simple to locate them," Snape said. "Unlike the rest of the Death Eaters, I know how to look them up in a telephone directory." He would locate them, then spend a couple of days scouting their location and routine.