Disclaimer: I do not, in any way, receive monetary or other compensation from these works nor do I profit from them in any way other than the enjoyment I personally derive from developing these stories. All characters, locations and situations existing within the universe of Harry Potter, not existing in the real world, are the properties of their respective copyright holders. I am just borrowing them from time to time and carefully leaving the keys in the basket by the door and the petrol tank topped off. I also carefully hang up Hermione's, Luna's, Lavender's, Padma's and Parvati's (and any other ladies') robes when they have been removed to keep them from wrinkling.
WARNING: Relationships may not be what they seem. If there is something unusual going on, you will know it from the notes at the beginning of a chapter. Fair warning though, if polyamorous relationships are a squick for you, these are not the droids you're looking for.
Author's note – For those of you who set alerts on this story early on, my sincerest apologies for getting your hopes up. I did not know alerts would be sent if I replaced chapters. I blame it on the murgphrumps. They keep me awake at night chewing on my wand's core. Regardless, since "irregardless" is not a word, I will do my utmost to not foul up subsequent chapter postings through reckless postings of incorrect or incomplete versions of chapters. For all other claims of guilt, I was not there, that was someone polyjuiced as my computer.
My chapters tend to be short, but I will post frequently. I generally won't do cliff-hangars as my intent is for the story to be written from a perspective of being complete with the next chapter being just a click away.
While I appreciate reviews, I am not going to hold the reader hostage; authors who refuse to post chapters until their reviews hit a certain number are suffering from delusions of adequacy.
The following section separations are used:
-oOoOo- denotes a scene change
-o-o- and multiples thereof denote a flashback or extended memory
-oooOOOooo- denotes an author error of epic proportion as these sections are not intended to be published and are my means of keeping notes and internal instructions. They may as well be -DOH!-
Potter family arms - Sable a fesse ermine between three cinquefoils argent
BBC World Service - 12:14 am UTC July 23, 2000
"This just in. A mild earthquake has been reported 17 miles southwest of Inverness by seismologists at the Ministry of Science. The earthquake is being reported as 6.2 on the Richter scale and occurred in a densely forested area. We are receiving word from people as far away as Liverpool that they felt the tremors and heard a loud rumbling. Its 15 minutes past the hour."
London Times, Early Edition - July 23, 2000 - "Massive Solar Storm causes Aurora Borealis to be seen in Southern Europe for the first time in 150 years"
Last night's "mysterious lights in the sky" as reported by BBC news was, according to scientists at the Oxford Observatory, nothing more than the result of a massive solar storm that caused the upper atmosphere to glow brightly. "While this normally occurs at the most northern areas of the Earth, during particularly spectacular solar storms, the sun is putting off so much energy that it can light up the entire night sky, much as it did last evening." said Professor Elizabeth Johnson Smith, senior professor of astronomy at Oxford. "While rare, I assure you this is a naturally occurring event. This is also likely the cause of the power fluctuation experienced during the same period of time. Solar storms consistently cause electrical system malfunctions," Dr. Smith explained, referring to the power distribution grid disruption occurring last evening and the apparent destruction of the television and radio satellite known as EutelSat 4. A spokesperson for the European Union Independent Utility System Authority (EUIUSA) indicated EUIUSA staff are still investigating the cause of the disruption to power services which affected more than 100,000 residences and businesses. A spokesperson for the European Telecommunications Satellite Organization (Eutelsat) indicated they are working with the BBC, Ministry of Defence, the British National Space Centre (BNSC) as well as NASA in the United States to determine the cause of the loss of the satellite. Indications that an accidental detonation of a nuclear device were dismissed by the Ministry of Defence as no residual radiation was measured anywhere near the affected areas.
Sethanion Keep, New Inverness Island, Polinia Archipelagos, 1292 nautical miles Northeast of Georgetown, Guyana; 3:03 am UTC June 12, 2000
Neville stood in the Northwest tower, as the wind raged past while the sea hurled at the rocks below as it had done for eons, a battle which neither the water nor the rocks ever won. Sleep would not come to him this night. There was something in the air. Some semblance of wrongness. Something the very earth murmured was wrong.
He trusted his feelings. When he was a child, they had saved him many a time, whether it be a cauldron exploding in Potions or falling from a broom during training. Some of his friends believed him to be an untrained seer due to the accuracy of his premonitions.
Never before, though, had they had such a strong undertone of death or destruction. Not even before the self-proclaimed Dark Lord fell on a blood-filled field did he sense such utter despair.
Since he was overseeing the harvesting of the annual shedding of the bowtruckle fur, he was not close enough to home and its familiar magic to know for whom this feeling was directed. He would need to wait until the harvest here was complete, three more weeks, more or less. He knew, once he was surrounded by the familiarity of his home estate and surrounded by his family magic, the feeling would coalesce into a more solid answer.
He extinguished his pipe, descended from the tower and entered his office in the center of the keep. After writing his impressions and feelings in his Visions journal, he closed the book and carried the lamp upstairs.
He entered their bedroom, disrobed, climbed into bed and curled up between Ginny and Luna. He kissed Ginny softly on the forehead and in her sleep she cuddled closer.
Luna had been awake and turned to him. "There is nothing to worry about. All will be as it must be. You will only be able to help heal afterwards. Do not worry this night," she whispered to him softly.
He kissed her reverently. "I know I should not worry, Love. Sleep, Little Star," he said and also kissed her softly on the forehead.
Luna curled up against him, sighed, and was quickly asleep again.
No matter which relaxation technique he tried, however, Neville was unable to find restful sleep this night.
Somewhere in the vicinity of The Centaurs' Refuge, Forbidden Forest, 65 miles west of Inverness, Scotland; 10:23 pm UTC June 12, 2000
Run through the forest, he says. It'll be easy, he says. Run in, grab it and run out. It's not like they can do magic or anything. He clearly didn't have a clue! Draco mused. He had been running at full tilt, turning, dodging and speeding along the path that was no path.
He rested, breathing slowly – as quietly as he could. He had finally lost his centaur pursuers and had no intention of giving away his position, even now. He heard a twig snap. Too close. He ducked just as a crossbow bolt entered the tree behind where his head had been.
He was on his feet and running again, silently. Thank Merlin for these princely gifts! His boots and cloak had been given to him on the anniversary of 'The Great Battle' as it was known. They had been spelled permanently silent by the high elves, a race not seen in all of recorded history. This time he did not stop running until he saw the lights of Hogsmeade.
He walked into The Three Broomsticks, changing the color of his cloak from deep forest green to a bright green with silver trim as he crossed the threshold. Madam Rosmerta greeted him warmly and directed him to his usual table.
A steaming butterbeer and a shot of Isleshire were delivered shortly. He slammed the shot, swished it in his mouth and swallowed. It cleansed his mouth and felt as if it had coated his throat with heat for a moment before it became a gentle glow of warmth in his stomach. He then sipped his butterbeer while watching the room to see if anyone was paying too much or too little attention to his presence. As he could sense no one looking for him, he quietly finished his drink and had ordered a second.
He was halfway through the second butterbeer when his vassals, Vincent and Gregory, arrived, much to his relief. He nodded to them, at which point they became even more hyper-vigilant, a change only he noticed. They greeted Madam Rosmerta and went to his table. He stood to greet them.
"There is something going on. All of the packages were delivered late," Crabbe said, by this Vincent meant, "The Death Eaters have all managed to elude their watchers somehow."
"All of them?" Draco asked calmly, while inside he was practically shrieking, "What in the Seven Forms is going on? This is NOT a good time! Not with us getting so close to our goal."
"Yes. All of them. And the owls haven't returned either," Goyle said. The watchers are missing.
"Hopefully they will come back when they get hungry?"Draco mused outwardly. On the inside, Draco was having a panic attack. "Oh, Merlin's Broken Wand! This is bad!"
Crabbe responded, "I doubt it. At least a few were found nesting elsewhere." No, we found a few bodies. They're all likely dead.
"Do I have time to finish my drink?" What is the sense of urgency?
Goyle shook his head. "We should go. Your father is worried. You should go to him." It is not safe for you, your father or your family here any longer. We have been instructed to get you all out now.
"You're right. We should be off. At least this will set Father's mind to rest, not to mention seeing my little ones." At least my mission tonight for Father was successful.
"We need to get back to the compound. Let's go outside so as not to appear rude," said Crabbe. The three walked outside. Once outside, Crabbe held out the portkey, Draco and Goyle took hold of it and all three disappeared.
"He has escaped us and taken it with him."
"It will not stay hidden long. He will keep it. He will be tempted to use it. When that happens, it will be as if the heavens shouted his name across the stars. In that moment, we shall hunt him until not one of his is left upon this plane."
"How can you dare to claim such a thing when..."
"Do not dare question my ability, colt, or your pelt shall adorn The Great One's lair."
This quieted all of them. The elder stallion continued to stare at the spot formerly occupied by the three wizards.
"Come. They shall meet their doom soon enough." With that, the elder stallion turned and walked back into the forest. The other 5 centaurs followed him deeper into the forest, not entirely understanding, but following their leader nevertheless.