She cringed as Harry barrelled towards her and one of the Twins picked her up and lifted her out of his reach. He slid to a stop and…Fred (only Fred glared at him like that) hissed,

"Concussion. Keep it down, would you?"

Harry waited for his sister to be lowered back down and then hugged her very gently, rolling his eyes over her head at Fred.

"You alright?" He whispered, checking her over for injuries.

"Been better," Hermione muttered, which was true. There was blood matted in her hair and she was swaying slightly in his arms, but she appeared to have fared better than most. He suspected he had the Twins to thank for that. Susan was flitting around the Entrance Hall, trying to help where she could. Technically neither of them should have been there, but Harry and Susan were very difficult people to keep locked in.

Fred and Harry had a complicated conversation through the medium of eyebrow before the man nodded and strode off.

"Any idea what you agreed to?" Hermione asked, muffled by his shoulder.

"Not a clue."

She chuckled before pushing back and focusing on him with a grimace.


"I know." He stopped her with a shake of his head. "We could hear Bella from the Tower." He'd felt a bizarre kind of grief settle upon him. He hadn't known the man well, hadn't much liked what he did know, but that didn't mean he deserved to die. He didn't deserve a death at Bella's hands.

"There's nothing protecting Hogwarts anymore," Hermione was saying dispondantly. He shook his head.

"There's her," He muttered, turning her towards the large doors and the approaching sight of their step-mother.

Amelia was a welcome sight, as were the reinforcements and healers employed by the Arcane Army that came in her wake. They began swarming the casualties, the quicker ones doing triage and sorting the injured.

"Minerva," She found the older witch leaning heavily against a wall. Normally so well put together, she looked exhausted, her hair dishevelled and eyes swollen. Her expression was one of extreme sorrow and she pointedly looked anywhere other than the Dark Mark, still visible in the sky through the doors.

Amelia stood close, shielding her from the nearby soldiers. Most were her former pupils after all, and she knew the professor wouldn't be able to stand them seeing her cry.

"Minnie," She said quietly, as gently as she could. "I need you to call for the train."

That got the witch's attention and Minerva jerked.

"Whatever for?"

There were a few weeks left of term after all. But with the state of Hogwarts and no Headmaster…

"It's time everyone went home." Minerva stared at her before taking a deep breath and nodding decisively.

"It'll be here for tomorrow. I'd better start sending owls." She straightened herself, tidying her hair back into its normally impeccable bun, and scrubbing tears off her face. "Filius!" She snapped out, striding forwards. "Pomona! We need Slughorn. And an urgent staff meeting…!"

Amelia watched her go. Much like herself, Minerva didn't deal well with idleness. She needed something to do, something she could fix. There would be time for falling apart later.

Shaking herself from her thoughts, she began directing soldiers, hearing reports on the damage and casualties. The battle hadn't gone well, for all that they'd routed the Death Eaters. She had several injured, and Fenrir Grayback had taken a chunk out of Bill Weasley. No students had been injured thankfully, but the Ministry would be banging on the door soon enough, demanding the return of the castle. After issuing orders and making sure that things were proceeding, she finally had a moment to herself. She snapped out to the nearest Private.

"For love of Merlin will someone bring me my children? I know they're lurking around here somewhere!"

Amelia hugged them all tightly, even the Twins, which surprised them. She demanded immediate status updates and then hustled them into a spare classroom. Hermione tried to wave down Minerva but she was too busy directing teachers.

"Firstly, I'm glad you're all safe," Amelia started, striding in front of them, hands tucked in the small of her back. Susan frowned. This was Amelia's report stance which meant she was trying to tell them something unpleasant but was putting it off as long as possible. "I'd like to know exactly what happened, if you don't mind?"

Susan's frown deepened but she listened to George recount the evening's chaos. At some point Hermione took over, her voice strained as she filled in the blanks. She had avoided the healers so more urgent cases could be looked at.

"What happened to Draco?" Amelia was taking notes on her small notepad, ink flecks joining the blood on her forearms. Similar versions of that notepad had followed Amelia around for years. It was an Auror habit and one she was loath to give up.

"Gone," Hermione supplied. "With Nott,"

"Is he safe with Nott?"

Now that was a question, Susan thought and was surprised when both her siblings nodded, Harry looking resigned.

"From Nott, yes" Hermione murmured. "But as for where they're going…we're just going to have to trust him," Amelia grimaced at that but nodded.

"I'll let Cissa know. Now, what happened with Lestrange? I got some reports you spoke to her?"

"Not really," Hermione lied, badly.

Fred and George both looked down at her doubtfully, causing Amelia's eyes to narrow, monocle digging into her skin.

"What happened?" She demanded.

Hermione scrunched up her nose before answering in a forced casual tone.

"We spoke. Not much. She asked if I'd gotten the books she'd sent. Seemed very concerned that I was getting a good education about dark magic."

"And then she tried to blow you up," Fred added, looking irritated. Hermione shrugged as though that wasn't important.

"What's happening next?" Susan demanded, fed up with whatever it was her aunt was avoiding saying.

Said Aunt winced.

"Minerva is calling for the train. I'm summoning the Order of the Phoenix. Your parents will be here shortly, boys. We're closing the school and everyone is going home tomorrow. We're waiting to see what Voldemort's next move is." She folded her arms and drummed her fingers on her elbows.

"So back to …." Harry frowned as his tongue tied. "To… To…"

Amelia winced as all her children tried to recall the name of their childhood home.

"The rest of the family," She said, trying to be as non-specific as possible. "Are under the Fidelius charm. If you want to go stay with them, that's fine. They'll let you in on the secret but it means…" She sighed heavily. "It means staying there. We can't risk the secret being lost."

"How long have they been in hiding?" Susan began to frown, looking suspicious. Her Aunt hadn't mentioned anything like this when she'd last seen her. "Aren't you staying with them?"

"There's something you should all know." Amelia's expression was one of terrible shame. "They've been in hiding since I left the Ministry. I've not…" She pursed her lips for a second, tears welling before she forced them back ruthlessly. Susan hadn't seen her Aunt cry in a long time and was shocked to see them now. "I've not seen them since then. I can't…I won't until I've made everything safe for them. And…If I don't…then they've got the best chance I can give them."

Her children stared at her and she seemed to hold herself frozen, waiting for a response. She flinched when Harry moved suddenly, but relaxed when he wrapped his arms around her. He was now taller than her, Susan realised.

"I'm sorry, mum," Harry murmured.

"It's for the best," Hermione added, looking sad but resolved.

Amelia looked between them and the sight seemed to sooth her. She pushed Harry away but she smiled ruefully as she did.

"If you want to go home, I can't go with you. If you don't…it means staying away from your fathers and Hope until this is all over."

Susan frowned.

"And if we don't want to?" She asked.

Amelia sighed, dropping down to sit with them.

"You can either stay at one of the safe houses, or join me at Headquarters."

"And if we want to help?" Susan pressed. Her Aunt chuckled.

"Then we'd better start training you." Amelia seemed ready to explain this further when they were interrupted by a knock on the classroom door. Amelia barked out a demand for identification. Instead of answering, the door swung open and, pale and shaken, Neville Longbottom stumbled in.

He was cradling something to his chest and his eyes kept moving, never fixing on one point. As he stood there, Susan stepped up to him, taking his free hand gently. Instead of his usual flinch, he seemed to calm at her touch and took in a breath, finally looking at Amelia.

"Field Marshal," He held out the thing he'd been clutching at all evening, blood encrusted and dirty. "I'd like to report some information,"

Neville's tale was horrible but all too believable. Dumbledore had been trying to change the Prophecy. He'd wanted Neville to become the Chosen One, as Harry had refused to do.

He'd taken him to a cave, one known to Tom Riddle. One infested with inferi and home to a Horcrux that was guarded by a horrible potion. Forced to watch as his professor drank the cursed liquid, Neville had to hold off the undead. They had barely escaped and Dumbledore, in his weakened state, was no match for Bellatrix. He'd managed to hide Neville, and the boy watched his teacher be tortured and killed in front of him.

He told the Field Marshal everything. About the Horcruxes, the locket, the memories…without any hesitation. He'd been warned away from them by Dumbledore but what the wizard had failed to realise was Neville had spent six years living with the Black's. He told me recently that he'd felt so incredibly alone and scared and when he thought of family, he thought of the Blacks. Loyal, devoted and protective. He'd seen them solve all sorts of problems over the years by sticking together and he knew they'd help him. They'd helped Draco after all and he'd turned into a Death Eater.

The activity around the Castle had slowed to a quiet bustle while they'd met with Amelia. The Twins were still there, alternating between helping with repairs and trying to stop Hermione making her concussion worse. Both monumental tasks.

Harry, Hermione and Susan were out of uniform, and packing their trunks. This would have gone faster if they'd split up but they'd decided to stick together. The rest of the students were eating in the dormitories, the Great Hall out of commission until it could be repaired. The Heads of House were busy contacting all the parents. Several had come straight to the school, unwilling to wait for the train, and collected from there. They'd seen more than one family arrive, already packed and, collecting their children, announce they were leaving the country and would not be back. The atmosphere was…tense to say the least.

The Blacks, by contrast, were both, at once, very scared and quietly excited. Scared because….Well that was obvious. But excited because…

"Have you decided what you're going to do?" Harry asked, shoving books into his trunk, with no regard for paper or spine.

His sisters shrugged, but Fred, busy stashing what looked like Whoopee Cushions under Ron's bed, said,

"We're staying with the shop. And working on our…" He glanced around. "Other projects. Don't think the Army is for us."

That wasn't a great surprise, although Harry was a little alarmed that they were willing to let Hermione go off into danger without them. He hadn't asked, but he had no doubt about where she was going.

"Are you going to go home?" Hermione asked him. "You could meet her…"

He shook his head, smiling wistfully.

"I don't think so," He murmured, before trying to pick a happier topic. "Can she talk yet? Is that something they do quite quickly?"

Hermione and Susan turned to the Twins who had the most experience with babies. They had, at least, met one before, although they'd been four when Ginny was born.

"Not for a while yet," George tugged a book out of Hermione's hand and tucked her head back into his shoulder. "If you've got to see, look through me. You're making me nauseous."

While the Army finished setting defences around Hogwarts in the wee hours of the morning, the Order arrived. They'd already drunk a toast to Dumbledore. But now they sat in silence in an old classroom waiting for their summoner. Dumbledore had no second in command. Any who would have been suitable had left with Amelia Bones. Minerva and I had joined them for the toast, and it was obvious what a motley crew we had become. Once a proud resistance organisation ... Now more a collection of teachers, academics, old school friends and parents. Hardly a resistance cell.

There was the sound of footsteps outside the door, Molly got up to open it, only to step back in shock.

Amelia strode passed her into the room, glancing around it with mild curiosity and exhaustion.

With her was Mad-Eye Moody, and Hermione and the Twins. Hermione looked rather green and quickly leaned against a wall, closing her eyes. One of the Twins muttered something to his mother, and Molly suddenly sprang into action, rummaging in her enormous carpet bag.

"What are we doing here?" Arthur asked, looking wan and tired. The question lacked malice, just curious.

Amelia settled in a spare chair, in a heavy rustle of stained leather armour. Her hair was piled up on her head in disarray, there was a nasty scratch along one forearm and she seemed to have put on a significant amount of weight since I'd seen her last. She looked more solid. She took the time to meet the gaze of everyone around before letting out a deep sigh, seeming to shrink into herself with exhaustion as her shoulders rounded and hunched.

"Under the circumstances," She started, over the sound of rustling from Molly, "I wanted to check in on you, make sure you were all well." Diggle scoffed at that, which she ignored. "Dumbledore asked that you be called in the event of his death. Fawkes delivered a letter saying as much to myself, and," She held up a scroll. "Another was left for you all. I will leave in a moment and let you read it. Also…there is no sense in having enemies on both fronts. I may not have agreed with the methods, but we are working towards the same thing."

"And what is that?" Augusta demanded, thumping her umbrella off the floor.

"Defeating Voldemort," Amelia ignored the flinch. "Madam Longbottom, were you aware Dumbledore was taking Neville out of school to hunt down information on Voldemort?"

Augusta Longbottom seemed to swell. "He did no such thing and…."

" I saw him," Hermione broke in, eyes still shut. The brown iris showing on one of the Twins confirmed she was keeping an eye on the room. "Neville was with him when the Death Eaters found him. Dumbledore hid him from Lestrange."

There was a long silence.

"He's safe, only cuts and bruises. I have the name of someone Neville can talk to, if you'd like. He's in the Hospital Wing, sleeping." Amelia added, gently clasping Augusta's hand. The woman seemed beyond shocked.

"He's…just a boy." Augusta mumbled and then seemed to catch herself, brow furrowing. "Like your lad," She said to Amelia, who nodded sadly, seeming to take no pleasure in the thought that someone finally saw her point.

"We need to get out in front of this," Moody grumbled. "This can only be considered their first step. They didn't intend to stand their ground, only cause chaos and retreat. Their old tactics brought round again,"

Molly straightened, triumphantly brandishing a green potion in a small glass bottle. She broke the seal and brought it to Hermione, helping the young woman take hold of it.

"In a oner," She advised and Hermione, nose wrinkling, downed the concoction. Her colour slowly began to return and she cracked open one eye, squinted at Molly before opening the other one.

"Thanks," She whispered. "Bad concussion."

Molly very obviously swallowed down the words "Be more careful", "you're too young" and "shouldn't be fighting". Instead she took the vial back and said,

"Quite alright, dear. I'll write down the recipe for the boys. I'm sure you'll need it again."

With the rest of the group, Amelia was explaining the Arcane Army's next steps.

"...obviously we've got a delay in manpower. It takes about six weeks minimum to get someone patrol ready, so we're waiting on recruits finishing training. Our priorities are going to be the Ministry, Hogwarts and the larger enclaves: Diagon Alley, Crooked Close, the Gill…"

"What is Harry going to do now?" Diggle demanded, interrupting her. "He's our only hope…"

"Shut up," Amelia said mildly, spearing him with a cold stare. He stumbled into silence. "If you think for a second I am going to let the deciding figure in this war be a seventeen year old, you're madder than Dumbledore. What we are going to do next is plan, strategise and cement our position. Voldemort is coming for us. Sooner rather than later. It is my suspicion that there are a lot more sympathisers to his cause than we think."

Arthur nodded, looking very grey and tired.

"You hear things, sometimes, in the Ministry. The things people stop saying when I'm near." He smiled, "Quite nice to be known as someone who won't stand for that sort of thing."

The next day, for the first time in a hundred and seventeen years….Hogwarts closed. Harry, Hermione and Susan didn't take the train. They left with Amelia, and although they didn't know it then, none of them would return as students again. Hogwarts School officially became territory of the Arcane Army, something the Ministry raged against but could do nothing about. After all, it wasn't an occupation if the teacher's had let them in, was it?

Voldemort had left the country, but no one was under the illusion that he'd stay gone for long. The Death Eaters were building their forces on the continent. Reports came in from abroad that he'd reached out to more radical factions within Europe, offering them territory and power if they supported him. What was more concerning was the number of glaring absences that appeared in the following weeks. It was impossible to tell if an individual had fled with Voldemort, or from him. Suspicion ran rife, tempers were high and the patrolling Arcane Army were forced to break up more than one domestic squabble. People accused of being Death Eaters, or being muggle sympathisers, or being under the Imperius curse. Voldemort had left the seeds of chaos in his wake and they were growing rampant.

"...We are aware that Tom Riddle has temporarily moved his forces abroad, and suspect further attacks this summer. The Arcane Army is working on shoring up defences within the Magical enclaves and tracking down any remaining Death Eaters. We are also working with our European counterparts to gather intelligence from abroad. We are aware these are difficult times. We urge the magical population to remain calm. Spend time with friends and family. It is our communities which are our greatest strength…"

(From a statement given by Amelia Bones to the Wizarding Wireless Network. Transcribed from their archives)

The Arcane Army was based out of the Bones ancestral home. It was large enough for a small city of new buildings to be erected in its grounds. An army needed barracks and healing wards and armouries and potions labs…as well as training grounds for new recruits and the Menagerie.

Amelia had managed to recruit a significant force, large enough that the property couldn't be held under a Fidelius charm. Most of her Aurors had followed her, along with quite a few of the Auror's support staff, including healers, alchemists and potions masters. The Aurors made up the majority of the frontline and tactical soldiers, with the older, more experienced members taking on the role of strategy. The research and development squad were mostly from the Department of Mysteries. They were almost all muggleborn, the Department tended to attract them as no one else quite had the same curiosity about magic. They'd sealed their Department up after Dumbledore had died, refusing to allow its secrets to fall into the wrong hands. Interestingly, no one in the Ministry seemed to have noticed that the entire office of Unspeakables had stopped turning up to work.

There was a flying squad too, both the Hollyhead Harpies and Puddlemere United teams had signed up en masse, as well as a few other quidditch players, and they trained in reconnaissance, smuggling and airborne combat.

Charlie Weasley, with a few other dragon keepers, had been placed in charge of magical creatures. Both to identify them if the enemy deployed them, and also to work on training their own. Dragon Squads had been used in the last wizarding war afterall, and Shacklebolt was excited about their potential.

Gringotts had declared itself neutral, and uninterested in the squabbling of wizards. So the few curse breakers who'd enlisted, including Bill and Fleur, were taking "unpaid leave" while the war went on. They'd been vital already in dismantling the wards around several Death Eater estates prior to Dumbledore's death.

The Auxiliaries consisted of healers, herbalists, potion makers and cooks. Any piece of ground that wasn't covered in tents or training grounds had been ploughed up and planted. With herbs, magical plants and food crops. Wizards couldn't make food from nothing, but they could make it grow a lot faster.

Harry, Susan and Hermione arrived at a sea of tents, training recruits, distant dragon roars and aerial combat drills. The defences were being shored up, patrols were heading out in their grey military jackets and somehow Amelia had taken a hodgepodge of civilians and policemen and turned them into a functional army. Because unlike the Order of the Phoenix, every soldier had to be trained.

Even her own children.

"You're going to join up, aren't you?" Harry caught her by surprise, sitting alone on a bench in the grounds of Bones House. It was quite early, but he wasn't surprised to see her up. She hadn't been sleeping again. The rest of camp was still waking up, the night shift not returned yet, the day shift slowly getting moving. July had dawned warm and dry, leaving the countryside a tinderbox, ready to alight with a single spark.

"I think it's the only thing I can do," She pulled him down next to her, smiling as he shifted as close as he could, stealing her warmth in the cold dawn air. "The Twins aren't going to, but it would be good to use this Bond to make a difference."

Harry's nose wrinkled as he considered what he was about to say.

"Guess I'm going with you then," He said at last, ignoring the way she whipped around.

"But you don't have to!" Hermione cried. "You could go back to school…"

"And what? Wait out the war knowing my sisters and parents were fighting it for me?" His voice cracked. "Because of me? No. You're not the only powerful wizard in the family, and you'll need someone to watch your back."

"Are you sure?"

Honestly…no. But he was in this whether he wanted to be or not and if he had to be…he'd rather it was on his own terms. Hermione was always going to fight. He could have told you that from the first time he'd met her. He knew both his sister's saw him as more of an annoying brother than the supposed saviour. And, no doubt, Hermione would rather he stayed out of it, letting her face all the danger alone. But he was old enough to know his own mind and stubborn enough to stick to it. And too much of his parents' son.

He smiled at her sadly. "I'm sure. It's my fight too." Tears were welling in his eyes and he swiped them away. "I know where this is going, Hermione. I think you do too."

She froze.

Harry had known Hermione for all of his adolescent life, and it felt like longer. She was his sister, in everything bar blood. And in all that time, in everything they'd been through, he'd never seen her look afraid of him before. He didn't like it but she had promised.

"Where you go, I go." He whispered and she flinched. "To the end."

I've thought about this statement from Harry a lot. It seemed like simple words to myself, but when we reviewed the memory together Hermione seemed to grow tense at the phrase.

Whether he meant it as a platitude for a concerned sister, or as part of his own larger plans, Harry never clarified.

This is probably for the best as it speaks to a forward planning few could live with.

Draco kept his gaze fixed on Nott and did his best to ignore the screams from the next room. And his rising nausea.

Nott stared back at him, a faintly wry look about his face.

You chose this . He seemed to say.

Draco ignored that.

If it wasn't for Nott he would have felt completely alone and entirely vulnerable. But if it wasn't for Nott he wouldn't have been here at all.

Voldemort had settled his forces abroad, and no one had told either of them where. They were trusted, but they hadn't had an audience with the Dark Lord, which limited the secrets they got to know. But there were a select few left behind. Voldemort intended to return and he wanted things to be ready when he did.

Alecto Carrow had been their contact after Snape, and had called for them in the days following Dumbledore's death.

She'd set them to work, together thankfully. The Death Eaters hadn't questioned Draco's presence, to them it seemed only logical that Lucius' son would return to the fold. And their work at Hogwarts had left them in good standing, such good standing that Draco and Nott were encouraged to work together as much as possible.

Their current task?

Locating Veritas .

It was almost amusing that the one thing the Death Eaters were really worried about, wasn't his cousins, or the Arcane Army, or even muggleborns. No, it was a radio broadcast that continued to share their dirty secrets to all and sundry.

Draco and Nott never missed a broadcast, listening for some clue to their location or methods and keeping careful notes. They used location spells to try and find the broadcasting area, but it seemed to move around too fast for them to find. If he didn't know better, and he hoped he didn't, he would have suspected the Twins of running the show whilst flying brooms. It also seemed to move. Last week it had been roughly in the area of Scunthorpe. This week it seemed to be around Norwich but neither of them could confirm a fixed location.

" ...Tim Piddle is of course known for his use of Inferi, because above all, this Dark Lord believes in recycling ... Waste not, want not afterall…"

Nott's lips twitched ever so slightly and Draco glared at him. Laughing was not advised.

"Do we have any idea who Puck and Ariel are?" Nott asked, leafing through their notes. The screaming had stopped now. Draco couldn't tell if that was better or worse. He shrugged.

"The voices change pitch and tonation." He rummaged through until he found their transcripts. They'd been able to identify four "voices" all of which used Puck and Ariel's light tones. "There's a slight Manx accent on Voice Three."

"So that narrows it down to every wizard from Manchester?" Nott grumbled.

"Or witch."

Nott scowled and seemed ready to open his mouth and speak when the screaming started again.

They both hurriedly got back to work.

Dumbledore's funeral was a large affair, held in the first week of July. But I honestly remember very little of it. It was very hot. The speeches were very dry. The air was one of despondency and grief.

Dumbledore taught me when i was a young student at Hogwarts, he was the Headmaster who hired me to teach Charms. To lose him in such a way seemed…greatly unfair.

Training for the Arcane Army was hard. Mad-Eye had been placed in charge of recruits and had little sympathy for excuses, injuries or ability. You either completed the exercises or you didn't. For Harry and Hermione's part, they rose at six, shovelled in breakfast and began training a full hour before anyone else. They were intensely driven, so much so that when Minerva visited, she demanded to know where this work ethic had been from either of them during school.

They duelled anyone they could convince. Several older members made muttering comments about "Black and Potter" who had reportedly been so in tune as Aurors separating the two in a fight was near impossible. And woe beyond the dueller who didn't manage to get both Harry and Hermione down in quick succession because they would shortly find themselves facing a furious partner covering for the other. Hermione had spent the majority of her life working around two other people, so adapting to Harry was almost second nature for her. He was faster though, so he led and she covered and between the two of them they tore through the training regime.

Mad-Eye, of course, rewarded this determination with sudden attacks, brutal consequences and more than one trip to the Hospital Tent. But they kept getting up. Anyone who'd had any doubts about recruiting the so-called "Saviour" and his sister because they were Madam Bones' children, stopped voicing those doubts within a few weeks.

Amelia's command centre was in what had once been the Bones' family stable yard. No one in the family had shown any sign of equestrian talent for some time. The cobbled courtyard had had an enormous tent erected in the middle of it, and Amelia had filled it with desks, boards and maps. Each stall now housed intelligence reports, or Ministry movements. Amelia's desk sat in the very last stall, with doors that could be soundproofed and closed with magic.

"How did you get a smaller office as Field Marshal than you did as Head Auror?" Susan asked, glancing round in disbelief.

Her Aunt shrugged.

"I'm barely inside here as it is," She muttered. She'd summoned what Sirius would probably term as "Her inner circle". Her children, Kingsley and Robards. And Tonks, but only because she'd get it out of Kingsley one way or another, and this saved Shacklebolt from feeling guilty. Her chest ached as she looked at the gap where her husband and partner should have been. At least they were safe. "I've got news." That got the children's attention, Harry and Hermione had been slumped exhausted against each other on a bench. Alistor was working them too hard, but she didn't want to ask him to stop. They needed to be ready. "This," She lifted a tarnished locket from her desk. "Is what Dumbledore took Neville Longbottom to retrieve the night he died. He believed it was a Horcrux." Robards and Tonks flinched. Robards had worked in law enforcement for a long time and knew of Dark Magic. Tonks was just a Black descendant. "One of several made by the Dark Lord." She clicked it open revealing the empty shell. "He was wrong. This," She dropped it onto the table with a clunk. "Is a decoy."

"So he died for nothing?" Hermione scowled. "What happened to the original?"

Amelia retrieved the scrap of parchment from her desk drawer. She'd recognised the initials almost immediately, Regulus had been her brother-in-law after all. Sirius had believed he'd died a Death Eater. It seemed he was wrong.

"It was swapped out by Regulus Black," She offered them the parchment. "The only problem we have is…trying to work out where he hid the original."
"Do you think he destroyed it?" Harry asked, rubbing his scar.

"Would he have known how?" Susan asked, scanning the note. "It's not something you come across by accident."
"You said…more?" Robards, leaning forwards, rested his elbows on his knees. His brow was well furrowed, a small scar bisecting one eyebrow. "How many?"

"According to Longbottom, seven." Amelia sighed. "At least by Dumbledore's reckoning. If the old bastard hadn't kept it to himself we might know more. There are a few we've accounted for. One was destroyed several years ago, Dumbledore himself dealt with another. This would be the third."

Susan sighed.

"I never did get an answer out of Slughorn," She realised. "With all the commotion…"

Amelia nodded,

"That is problem number one. We need to know how many of these we're looking for." She noticed her son had gone rather pale and wished she could find a way to reassure him. "We have a rough idea that they might be items of importance to Riddel. His diary was one. An old family ring another. This," She nudged the locket. "Is supposedly Slytherin's Locket. I asked the researchers to take a look at it. They got very excited about it being one of the "Founder's Relics". They were most disappointed when they worked out it was a replica."

Tonks snorted.

"Only the best for old Voldetort's skanky soul bits," She joked, but wasn't smiling very much. Her hair was a serious shade of brown and had been for months now. "What are the other relics?"
"Hufflepuffs' Cup," Susan offered. They all blinked at her. "There's a painting of it in the dormitory, remember Tonks? It's been missing for years."

Amelia nodded grimly.

"The cup was last recorded, according to the researchers, to be in the ownership of the Smith family. It went missing after Hepzibah Smith was murdered by her House Elf."
"Zach's great Aunt," Susan added helpfully, for Hermione's benefit.

"She was also the last known owner of that locket." Amelia finished. "Our running theory now is that Riddle killed her and took the Relics. The question is whether he made enough Horcruxes to complete the set." She tried not to yawn. Running an army was exhausting and sleeping alone was difficult when you were used to the movements of two other people. "Gryffindor's Sword hasn't been seen for generations, but that may be because the Goblins' have stolen it or because someone knows how desperately they want it back and is keeping quiet about having it. The last one is Ravenclaw's Diadem."

Robards, who'd not been a Hogwarts student for decades but proved the rule that one never really left their school house behind, frowned.

"But no one has seen that for generations!"

Amelia nodded wearily.

"Hence our first priority is finding out exactly what Horace Slughorn knows about Horcruxes." She looked towards Harry and Hermione. "I trust I can leave that up to you two?" She waited for their nods before turning to Tonks. "They'll finish their training next week and report under your command, Lieutenant. " Tonks, who had barely ever followed orders as an Auror, snapped a sharp salute.

"Roger that, Field Marshal."

Hermione woke up feeling like her limbs were made of treacle. The Twins had broadcast late last night, so even though she'd gone to sleep as early as their training schedule allowed, their adrenaline had kept waking her up in the night. So it took her a few minutes of blinking to work out what was so wrong with her brother.

He looked almost the same as he had the day before. Still lanky from his last growth spurt, hair escaping the bun he'd put it in last night. Mouth open and drooling against the pillow of his camp bed in their shared tent.

"Oh," Hermione whispered, as her brain finally engaged. "I forgot."

Today was Harry's birthday. He was seventeen years old. And today was the day his genetic adoption potion wore off.

The potion that Sirius had used was designed to fade when the recipient came of age. If they so wished, a second potion could be taken to make it permanent. Harry had always intended to keep his genetic Black heritage, claiming he'd gotten used to it.

Hermione now understood why no one had thought he was James Potter's son.

James and Sirius had looked similar certainly. Same black hair, same tall build. But there the similarities stopped. Now Harry's hair was thicker, escaping in every direction. His face was more square, nose slightly narrower. She suspected he might be taller and lankier. His skin had lost its slight tan and was as pale as hers. Where Sirius had slightly delicate and aristocratic features, James' were longer and slightly crooked, like he'd been hit with a bludger a few times. It wasn't unpleasant, Hermione decided, with the detachment of a sibling, but it was very definitely not her brother.

"Urghhhh," Said brother announced, burrowing his head in his pillow. "Did you curse me in my sleep?" He demanded, slightly muffled.


"Then why do I hurt so much?" He pushed himself up onto his elbows and frowned, blinking rapidly. His head turned towards her and he squinted. "Why can't I see?" He demanded.

Hermione continued to stare.

"Because," She said eventually as Harry patted around for his wand. "Your dad wore glasses."

"No, he doesn't, because he's a vain git and…." Harry froze. "Oh, fuck. I forgot." He looked down at himself and scowled. "And I can't even see myself to see what I look like!"

With Hermione's help, Harry made his way through the camp towards his mother's office. Everything felt wrong, like he was wearing shoes that were too big for him. None of his clothes sat quite right and his hair refused to flatten itself. When Sirius had told him this would happen, the plan had been for him to wake Harry up with the right potion and for him to take it instantly. But that plan had been made ten years ago and neither of them had expected a war to break out. Now he was stuck unable to see and a father who was in hiding and couldn't be contacted.

"It's so weird." Hermione muttered. She was holding onto his elbow and directing him round blurry shapes he assumed were tents.

"Try being me," Harry grumbled. "I'm supposed to see Luna at the wedding tomorrow."

"She won't care."

"No," Harry snapped. "I care that I won't be able to see her , because my father was ruddy blind!"

Hermione made the irritated sound that meant she was considering kicking him and he swerved away from her, but promptly tripped over a guyline and fell flat on his face. He felt her magic settle around him as she gently levitated him upright.

"Finished complaining?" She asked, taking his arm again and steering him hopefully away from any further hazards.

Harry resisted the urge to scowl. How he felt was… complicated. On the one hand, he now looked like James Potter's son, a right that had been taken away from him when Sirius had adopted him. He'd been three or four when it had gone ahead. Not old enough to remember what he'd looked like. Or really understand what he'd been giving up. Not that he blamed his father. Sirius had been doing the best he could, and his best had bought Harry a childhood out of the limelight, as the not-so-interesting cousin of Harry Potter. And now he had a face he didn't know and a body he couldn't see. And it was the one he was meant to have had all along. Hermione seemed to sense his thoughts, because they walked in silence until he felt grass give way to cobblestones and heard the scratching of quills and the smell of chocolate. Amelia had, in Remus' absence, picked up his favourite habit.

"'Mione, what's…" Amelia stumbled to a stop. "Ah bugger. I forgot."

Once some glasses had been obtained and Harry had had a look at himself, he returned to his training. Without Sirius there was no way to replicate the potion and even Harry admitted this wasn't important enough to bring him out of hiding. He was just going to have to get used to it.

The end of July also brought the wedding of Bill and Fleur. And come dark wizards, curses or even Bill's recent brush with lycanthropy, it was going ahead even if Molly had to duel Voldemort to make it happen. It reminded me greatly of the weddings we'd had in the first war. I was invited, but Hogwarts professors generally are invited to weddings. When most couples meet at Hogwarts they are keen to invite their favourite professors. I was invited to all Ravenclaw weddings and usually invited to any of my N.E.W.T Charms students ceremonies as well, like Bill Weasley. Minerva was invited as Gryffindor Head of House. She attended all the Weasley weddings, bar two and is, to this day, infuriated at being unable to complete the set.

Amelia had very nearly not gone to the wedding. In fact, if she'd had her way, the wedding would have been held in a top secret location under armed guard and with as few people in attendance as possible. But even she had to fold under the combined weight of Mrs Weasley, Mrs Delecroix and their wedding plans.

So here she was, feeling a tad naked without her armour, wearing a dress her husband had once told her made her look like she should be the figurehead on a ship. She'd never been certain if that was a good thing or not. The ceremony had gone well, the last security check in had highlighted no problems and she was now pretending to drink her wine while she kept an eye on her children. Hermione was wearing a dark dress and tucked next to one of the twins, she wasn't sure which. Susan was settled in a corner speaking quietly with Neville Longbottom. He looked better than he had when she'd last seen him, but did appear to be eyeing Susan warily. Her son, in some slightly ill fitting robes, was crouched down petting a…

"Oh for the love of Merlin!" Amelia snarled to herself.

Harry hadn't believed his eyes when a damp nose had poked itself from under a tablecloth and nudged his leg. Investigating revealed the shaggy, dark figure of Snuffles. The dog winked at him, stepping out from under the cloth enough to let Harry pet his head.

"Dad!" Harry whispered, feeling thrilled. He'd honestly been afraid that he'd never see his father again. "What are you doing here?"
Snuffles suddenly flattened himself to the floor and began whining. Harry felt a presence over his shoulder and looked up to see the towering figure of his mother, who looked furious.

"That," She hissed quietly. "Is exactly what I'd like to know."

Several minutes later Harry was leaning against a wall in one of the Weasley's bedrooms, Percy's he suspected and listening to his parents argue in hushed voices.

"...I promised him!" Sirius snapped, "I always said, I'd have it ready for him if he wanted it but…"

"Wait," Harry broke in, cutting across Amelia's no doubt vicious response. "You've got the potion?"

Sirius sighed, pushing his hair back from his face. He looked tired and a little grayer, but he smiled at Harry although he couldn't quite seem to look at him directly.

"Yeah, Prongslet, I do. If you want it." He glanced at Harry for a second before looking away again. "I won't pressure you one way or the other."

"Dad," Harry murmured, frowning. "Dad, look at me."

Sirius' face twisted into a grimace.
"I'd rather not," He admitted.

"Do I look that bad?" Harry tried for a joke but it fell flat. There were tears swimming in Sirius' eyes. Amelia had fallen silent completely, letting Sirius lean on her. She gave Harry a sympathetic look as Sirius addressed the floor.

"No, kid. You just…" He sighed and finally met Harry's eyes. "You look just like him. And…" His voice faltered. "...and…"

Harry had briefly thought, knowing he was unable to contact Sirius, about keeping his new appearance. It wasn't unpleasant, although the glasses were irritating. But it wasn't him. And he didn't want his father to spend the rest of his life looking at him with such agonising grief. Harry realised that he was only a few years younger than James had been when he'd died. And if he looked as much like James as he had like Sirius….

"Dad…" He held out his hand. "Give me the potion."

Fred hadn't seen his soulmate in nearly a month. If any of the trio thought that Hermione leaving school and being able to apparate would mean they could spend more time together, none of them had accounted for the impact a war has upon your schedule.

"Has my brother mentioned how gorgeous you look?"

Hermione glanced up at Fred and smirked.

"No. Why? Planning to steal his thunder?"

"Georgie's?" Fred scoffed. "Never. But you do, by the way, look lovely."

Hermione blushed and cursed under her breath, hands nervously straightening her bridesmaid dress. Fleur had, thankfully, been talked out of pink. Much to Ginny's relief, they wore dark blue instead.

I'm glad we got this," She whispered, looking around the elegant tent, eyes snagging on Bill and Fleur. They were dancing, and looked entranced with each other. "It's just nice to…"

"Relax?" Fred offered. "Be normal?" Hermione glanced down at their exposed bond marks, visible in her dress and his rolled up sleeves and he laughed. "As normal as we get anyway,"

"Remember the Yule Ball?" Hermione ignored the way he winced and linked their hands together, enjoying the way the patterns of their marks interlinked. "We never did get a dance, did we?"

George watched Fred drag his girlfriend out onto the dancefloor, smiling to himself. Hermione was, for a change, feeling calm and content, and it was like settling near a fireplace, warming his bones. They'd not seen much of her recently. Since she and Harry had enlisted they'd been busy with training. He and Fred had been busy themselves. Between Veritas and the shop they could barely find time to breathe.

"Come by the office when you're ready," an old reedy voice said, from near his elbow, startling him out of his thoughts.

He glanced down at the small ministry official who'd performed the bonding. He couldn't remember the man's name, but he'd seemed a deft hand at casting wedding vows.

"Er.. ready for what?"

The wizard scoffed, face wrinkling like a prune. He had to be well over a hundred, not unusual for a wizard, and he showed every day of it. Wizards tended to wear thin as they got older, and he had the soft papery look of someone who'd been folded a lot.

"To have your Bond written up. It's not an automatic process, you know." the man scolded.

George blinked at him.

"I have no idea what you're talking about." He admitted.

"Your soul bond, boy." He jabbed at George's hand. "Magically married and doesn't know it, honestly the state of young wizards these days…"

"What?" He gaped, weakly.

The wizard squinted at him, and looked exasperated.

"That," He jabbed the mark again, "Is a complete romantic bond. It's more binding than the ceremony I performed today! If you come by the Ministry and sign the licence we can get your marriage certificates filed."

George glanced frantically at the dancing couples and was relieved to see Fred and Hermione still busy. And well out of earshot.

"I will pay you," He rummaged in his pocket and seized whatever he could find. "Thirty Galleons to never mention that again and especially not to my bondmate." He held out the coins desperately.

The wizard sniffed, scowled, and took the money.

Harry and Luna weren't dancing. No, they were tucked in a corner of the tent, leaning against each other and whispering the sort of promises only teenagers can make. The potion would take effect until he fell asleep, which unfortunately meant he was still wearing the glasses.

They watched the bride and groom dance, entranced with one another, Hermione dancing with the Twins, the limping black dog that was now making a round of the party, stealing canapés. Amelia scowling from the sidelines.

Sirius had changed back after Harry had taken the potion, mostly to stop Amelia from yelling at him. Amelia didn't like yelling at a dog. He just kept looking sad.

"He's going to upset his stomach," Harry muttered idly, watching his father nick a piece of cheese off an unguarded plate. "Snuffles doesn't get on well with dairy."

"It's good to see him." Luna's gaze was focused and clear, fixed on something he couldn't see. "I won't for a long time."

Harry froze with indecision before deciding he would ask.

"What about me?" He whispered. "Will you see me? Before…" His voice faltered.

Luna gripped his forearm tightly, blue eyes practically blazing.

"When the tempest lands upon the snakes, I will see you again, Harry Black." She blinked and smiled suddenly. "This isn't goodbye," She promised.

Not yet, Harry thought, but didn't say, instead leading his girlfriend onto the dance floor.

July had passed in a state of caution and paranoia. No one knew where Riddle was or what he was doing. The Ministry was desperately trying to do something to help, but nothing seemed to work. The Arcane Army were strengthening defences across the country and training new recruits. They deployed patrols and raided several locations. They also offered escort services for those who wanted to leave the country. Everyone was waiting for the next wave to hit as August swung into motion.

"Professor Slughorn," Hermione called, watching the portly wizard leaning over his cauldron. He stiffened and she spotted one hand going to his wand. She approved of the paranoia. "Amelia Bones sent us to talk to you."

Slughorn straightened and turned. He seemed surprised when he spotted them, but that might have been the new uniforms they were wearing. Private Granger and Private Black were officially out of training. They had been assigned to Lieutenant Tonks' squadron, the appropriately named "Siege Breakers". Amelia had decided to play to Tonks' strengths when assigning roles, which meant Tonks' troops moved fast, hit heavy and hit very very loud . Something Harry and Hermione excelled at.

"Ah," He screwed up his face. "I knew this was coming."

"Good," Harry grinned. "Because I didn't want to have to set my sister on you."

With the lingering cloud of Dumbledore's death as a reminder, a decent shot of Firewhiskey for his nerves and Hermione's hard stare as motivation, Horace Slughorn finally spilled his secrets. The memory he gave them, one he was clearly deeply ashamed of, confirmed their worst fears.

Voldemort had potentially made more Horcruxes. Possibly up to seven, if he'd been successful.

And they had no idea where any of them were.

When the tide finally rolled in, in early August, it started with the sudden disappearance of Rufus Scrimgeor. It ended in bloodshed.

The warning Amelia had been counting on from foreign shores never came. And instead of the slow subtle creep the Arcane Army had been expecting, the Death Eaters struck with a coordinated and ambitious assault. Amelia's troops were trained and ready but they had expected some warning.

The Death Eaters gave none.

When the Marauders left Hogwarts they'd purchased a small two bedroom flat together on Diagon Alley. Well, together was a little misleading. Sirius had been cut off from his family by then and Remus had never had two Galleons to rub together. Peter has been needed at home so wasn't moving in, although he visited often. So more accurately James' father Charlus bought it, with the understanding that the boys would repay him in time.

Which they did.

Peter came round less and less, which no one found too strange. He'd been increasingly distant since leaving Hogwarts. Lily joined them for a while but convinced James they needed to move out after the wedding.

Eventually it was just Remus and Sirius, although the two were more ships passing in the night rather than housemates or lovers. Then it was just Sirius, bitter, drunk and scared. And then it sat empty for many years.

Through sheer coincidence the little attic flat with its bay window that looked across Diagon Alley was only four doors down from Weasley's Wizard Wheezes.

When Remus used to stand there drinking tea all he could see was the plant shop that used to occupy that corner.

Now it offered an excellent view of the roaring inferno that was everything Fred and George had worked towards. They stood there, singed and sooty, unseen by the four Death Eaters burning their shop. Every so often a firework or potion would catch, causing sparks.

"Recognise anyone?" Fred asked softly.

There wasn't any need to be quiet, the flames saw to that. Both Twins just seemed to be in shock. They'd thought their wards were secure. And they were. Against magic.

"McNair, I think."

They felt numb as they watched an errant firework spell " bum " out in large pink letters above the shop. It would be funny, years later. Right now it was too much for either Twin to process.

That was okay. Someone else was feeling enough for all three of them.

Hermione arrived in a crackle of magic, smelling like burnt ozone. She was seething, her anger as raw and untamed as the fire below. She also appeared winded and her uniform was scorched in places. She'd clearly been in the middle of something.

"How. Dare. They?"

She paused and drew in a shuddering breath, looking them both over.

"Did you get hurt?"

Fred knew that if they had, she would have known instantly, but fear wasn't rational.

"We're fine," he promised her. "We woke up in time. Apparently your parent's doodad wasn't affected by the wards. Who knew?"

She nodded without looking away from the window. She, at least, was better dressed than the Twins, having not been asleep. They'd slung their leather jackets over their pyjamas before fleeing the smoke to their safe house, too disorientated to apparate any further.

"I don't think they know we were in there." George's eyes were red and irritated. His voice was hoarse, his room had been closer to the smoke. "Is it…"
Hermione shook her head.

"It's not just you," She admitted. "They're hitting the Ministry, Hogwarts…It's chaos out there."

"Why are you here?" Fred whispered, still watching his life's work burn.

"Because I couldn't be anywhere else," Hermione replied, taking his hand. "I'm going to go down there. Do you want to join me? You don't have to."

Both men were quiet for a long time before they scowled. One of the Death Eaters had started peeing on the building.

"Yes, we do." They said,

Their third hummed, before handing them each some cloth.

"I finished the spell work before we got called out." She shook out the soft fabric and began tying it around the lower half of her face. "Might as well test them."

They donned their own, feeling the familiar brush of Hermione's charms work across their skin.

"Do they…." Work had been what Fred would have asked. He'd turned away from the fire at last to find a cold but handsome looking boy staring back at him. The boy quirked an eyebrow and Fred realised they'd met before. Years ago, in the Chamber of Secrets. He was even still wearing a Slytherin uniform and Prefect badge.

"When you said it was a surprise…." He asked the teenage Tom Riddle. "This wasn't what I thought you meant."

Riddle smirked.

"Please," He said in Hermione's voice. "We know he's a legilimens. What's more infuriating than realising he's been thwarted by himself?" Hermione pulled the mask down and the illusion faded. "It's just a glamour so it won't stand up to close inspection, but we don't need it to." She looked them over, pulling the mask back up. "You're identical now."

He caught the reflection in the glass. Three identical pubescent Dark Lords.

"Love," George murmured. "Are you meant to do illicit Death Eater fighting?"

"Amelia said no patrols until I finished training." Hermione replied calmly. "She said nothing about happening across Death Eaters randomly."

It took a while to understand how the blaze had started. The wards around the shop, particularly the flat, were practically impenetrable to magic. The Death Eaters, in an unusual show of intelligence, hadn't used magic. Instead, when the shop opened in the day, they'd snuck in with customers and left a small vial of liquid fire, sealed with a heavy stopper. As any potion master will tell you, if enough heat builds up there will eventually be an explosion. And the store went up almost instantly. Death Eaters building bombs. Who'd ever heard of such a thing?

The Ministry was another story. Several were killed and captured when Ministry employees turned on the Army and ambushed them. By the time someone managed to raise the alarm, it was too late and the Death Eaters had control of the building.

Hogwarts repelled its attack, as none of the teachers had been swayed to Voldemort's side. The wards, reinforced as they were, and ancient as they had always been, held strong. But the Death Eaters settled in to lay siege to the castle, trapping the residents and stationed forces inside. I awoke to the sound of explosions, glancing out of my window to see swirling dark clouds, illuminated by the sparks of the wards as they rebuffed attacks. Minerva summoned all of us to the Great Hall to lay out our options.

We could wait for reinforcements, we could repel the attackers ourselves, or we could let them in. All bar one of the staff were pureblooded (three, if you didn't count goblins or centaurs) and Charity Burbage, who had refused to leave her post despite urging, looked pale but unafraid. She was a lovely witch, kind and generous and completely undeserving of the reputation her subject garnered. I wish I had told her to go. I wish I had told her to run.

The siege of Hogwarts went on for several days. The reinforcements Amelia wanted to send couldn't be spared. As dawn broke following the fall of the Ministry, Voldemort's forces attacked Bones Manor.

They found it harder than they had expected.

Amelia Bones had been planning for months. She'd known their chances of holding the Ministry without its cooperation were very slim. Hogwarts was equally difficult to hold and she'd been prepared for the Death Eaters to make a full frontal assault on the Bones' property.

She'd designed the army to fracture and shatter like a mirror, splitting up so ruggedly it'd be impossible to tell if you'd got all the pieces. They'd gotten enough warning to begin evacuation as the Ministry fell. The Auxiliaries had gone first, with healers and potion makers removing themselves to the Black Sisters. The grounds made approaching through the wards very difficult, as the more aggressive plants objected to Death Eaters targeting their beloved caretakers. As they were slowed by the plants the Flying Squad took up position, casting from the sky and completing bombing runs. There were a few casualties on both sides, and the Death Eaters were forced to a standstill when a furious Charlie Weasley unleashed Mildred, his favourite Welsh Green on them. With the Death Eaters delayed by the grounds, the rest of the Army decamped in under twenty minutes.

Amelia tried not to look as tired as she felt. She suspected she wasn't being successful. Selwyn hadn't defected when the Arcane Army was formed and she missed his input dearly.

One of the Twins was nearby with a muggle recording device so bastardised with runes it barely made sense anymore, to capture this speech.

Why had she chosen to become the figurehead for a rebellion? She'd known there would be public speaking.

"This broadcast," She started, looking at the assembled soldiers, several of whom nodded encouragingly. She was in Tonks' Headquarters, an abandoned muggle warehouse shed apparently once gone to party in. She'd needed the Twins for this. And the only way to reach them was through Hermione. "..addresses all members of the Magical world. Not just wizards and witches but those without wands, with their own unique cultures and histories, all those who find themselves under Ministry Dominion. I bring you sad tidings.

News has reached us that on Sunday night, at approximately several thirty pm, Rufus Scrimgeor was attacked and killed by Tom Riddle, when members of his government willingly let Death Eaters into the Ministry of Magic. He was doing his duty as a member of public office and his sacrifice and bravery shall not be forgotten.

Unfortunately sacrifice and bravery may be called upon far more in the coming months.

The Ministry is going to tell you there is no war. That Britain is at peace and that we are merely a small group of malcontents and terrorists.

Take note of what they do.

As they control how you speak and to whom.

What magic you use and who you use it for.

Where your children go and what they learn.

When we draw lines between us and them, we make it easier and easier to find differences.

There is a muggle poem about this, and I think the final line is worth repeating here:

" When they came for me, there was no one left to speak for me"

It will start with the muggleborns and then the squibs. The magical creatures that are too close to human to make them comfortable. When they have dealt with them it will be the halfbloods…but what is a half-blood? Anyone with a muggle parent? A muggle grandparent? Do you need to have pure lineage back to the line of Merlin to be safe? There are none of us who can claim such a bloodline. Not even Tom Riddle.

They will spout lies that seem reasonable because they don't apply to you, but I promise you, there will come a day when the lies do.

These are dark days. I will not lie to you. We will only speak the truth, even when it is painful.

The Arcane Army is working to remove this tyranny from our lands but this is a problem for all. If you need to run, run. If you want to fight, we welcome you, but do not put your head in the sand and say "This does not affect me". It does. And it will.

We are speaking up for you now. Are you listening?"

Amelia became a wandering leader, moving from camp to camp. Captains Robards and Kingsley each had five Lieutenants. They each had a set of safe locations and evacuation procedures.

But the Army was too scattered to provide aid to Hogwards, and needed time to regroup before they went back on the offensive. They were also forced to abandon Azkaban, no longer able to hold it - but snapped the wands of all the prisoners, effectively slowing how quickly they could rejoin the Death Eaters ranks. Any Death Eater who didn't want to return to Voldemort, and there were a few, fled with the officers.

The Army went from civil defence to freedom fighters within the space of a day.

Amelia sent a patronus to Minerva, full of apology and sorrow, and a wish from her daughter to be safe.

So a decision was made at Hogwarts, and although it went against the Arcane Army's advice, it was respected.

Minerva and the rest of the staff had made a decision. Much of the surrounding land had been burned in the seige and clouds of smoke billowed across the grounds. The wards didn't include the Forbidden Forest and the agonised screams coming from its residents had been haunting us. Firenze spent his time anxiously pacing the grounds, trying to assuage his guilt.

While it was tempting to flee the castle and leave it to the Death Eaters, none of us wanted to. We dreaded to think what a school purely controlled by the likes of Bellatrix Lestrange would be like and none of us could turn our backs on our students. So we would be staying and dropping the wards. But not before we were ready.

We spent several days wincing as the wards cracked and creaked, but held while we went about our business. With the help of the stationed soldiers, we began rigging the castle. The dormitories were warded to prevent access to anyone under the age of nineteen. This unfortunately included ourselves, but meant that the students would have a safe haven. We appointed Minerva as Headmistress although we expected her to be replaced. We placed radios in every common room.

The magical registers were destroyed, burned in Fiendfyre, an act I regret, as recreating them took me nearly four years, but was necessary at the time. This way no one would know who was supposed to be where or which children were missing. This also meant that, for the first time, no Hogwarts letters were sent out. We had to publish the book requirements and the exam results in the Prophet. No muggleborn students started that year, as they were not inducted into the magical world.

We stripped the Restricted Section bare and moved most of the non-academic collection to The-Room-Of-Hidden-Things, to the horror of Madam Pince. Madam Pomfrey recruited several of the stationed soldiers as healer's assistants and tucked them away in the Hospital Wing. We hoped they would not be needed.

The biggest change we made, with Slughorn's approval, was to move Slytherin Dormitory. This took the longest and caused most of the delay but was, Minerva stressed, vitally important. Having the Slytherin's tucked away, and in such a dark dungeon, was only highlighting the view that they were all dark wizards. Instead Slytherin House was moved, at the surprising suggestion of the Bloody Baron who'd used to throw people off it, to the Squat Tower, which was renamed to Slytherin Tower. It was situated on the same floor as Gryffindor and Ravenclaw, and with some charm work, was easily adapted to suit the needs of the students. Much of the original spellwork we used is still in place today, although it has been shored up over the years to replace the hasty charms. We decorated it with the usual green and silver, but made sure there were wide windows, lots of light and it was warm and welcoming. A far cry from the previous common room.

(The temperature of the old dormitory has never made sense to me, as snakes are coldblooded and prefer warm places.)

We flooded the Slytherin Dungeon, surprisingly easy as it looked directly into the loch. The Merpeople quickly got the idea, although no one spoke mer anymore, and moved in. The entire dormitory became unusable. We integrated all of the class lists, so no class was ever taught to a single House. And we rearranged the entire Great Hall, rearranging the large House tables, so students were forced to eat with their peers.

Every step we took was for the protection of our students.

When we were ready we opened the wards and let the Death Eaters in.

Draco couldn't tell if he was terrified or excited. Nott, seated next to him, looked like he'd been carved from stone, he hardly even seemed to breathe. Their gazes were fixed firmly on the gaggle of figures standing nervously or in anticipation in the centre of the room. They were all waiting to be debriefed. It was a matter of discovering whether or not what they had been arrested for was considered an act of sacrifice or an act of stupidity. There seemed to be no connection between who was rewarded and who was punished beyond the Dark Lord's whim.

There were several who weren't missing. Draco suspected they had vanished and would be doing that best to sit out the rest of this war. Those that had remained were almost all familiar to him. His father had met his gaze almost immediately and to his credit looked relieved to see Draco alice and well. The same could not be said for Thorus Nott, who had scowled at his son and then refused to acknowledge him. There was another familiar figure, but they were keeping to the back, trying to vanish into the shadows. He hadn't expected to see his godfather again. He had honestly thought the Army would have taken him with them when they'd retreated from Azkaban. It wasn't like the Betrayer of Lily Evans was a popular figure in Death Eater society.

He had to admit that his tactic for distracting himself was only partly successful.

The Dark Lord had a presence, one of seeping despair and malice which crept over your shoulder and settled on your soul like a weight. Focusing on his father was the only thing keeping his mind off of it.

Thorus, who'd been declared a hero for attempting to kill Harry Potter in the Department of Mysteries, stepped to one side. He jerked his head at Theo, clearly summoning him to his side.

Theo didn't move.

"You and me?" He whispered, taking Draco's hand.

Draco didn't respond, but squeezed his fingers, doing his best to ignore the furious stare Thorus was sending their way.

"Ah, yes….Lucius." Draco stiffened as his father stepped forward. Lucius Malfoy was thinner, his hair in disarray and his Azkaban robes dirty and ripped. He stood tall though. As tall as he could manage anyway. The Dark Lord tipped his terrible head to one side, surveying him. His lip curled. Lucius' hands, behind his back, began to shake. "It is a wonder your son managed to find his way back to us with such an example. Your son has done very well, despite his traitorous mother." Bellatrix Lestrange, sitting behind the Dark Lord, made a strange, twitching movement. Draco wasn't certain what his Aunt felt about her sister, but she didn't seem to approve of his father at all. "The House of Malfoy was once a proud one," Lucius flushed in embarrassment. "Let us hope your son can restore it to such heights." He waved a hand, and turned his attention to the next Death Eater in line. Lucious bowed and retreated, heading straight for Draco. As he got closer Draco could see him looking him over intently. He realised it was the first time his father had seen him since he'd attempted to visit him at Hogwarts, well over a year ago.

"Draco," Lucius whispered, clearly conscious of the proceedings going on behind him. He reached for Draco and found his path blocked. Nott moved quickly when he wanted to, although Draco wasn't certain why he had wanted to. He kept the two of them separate, glaring down at the older man.

"Do you wish to make him a target of the Dark Lord's ire as well?" Nott hissed, almost silently.

Lucius stiffened, before drawing his hands back, and straightening his spine so he stood tall and as refined as he could manage given his attire. Draco and Theo did the same, the three of them presenting an impassive front as the trials went on.

"Are you well?" Lucius breathed from next to him. Draco nodded carefully. "Narcissa?" Lucius added, sounding… Draco had thought his father would have hated his mother for what she had done. But he sounded almost longing.

"On the run," He whispered. "As far as I know."

Lucius nodded and might have said more, had not the last Death Eater in line stepped up.

Severus Snape looked awful.

His prison robes were ill fitting, his hair had grown long enough to curl round his ears, but not long enough to cover his expressions, which seemed haunted and hollow. Unlike Lucius he hadn't been at Azkaban when the Dementors were, but he seemed to have lost his soul anyway.

"My truest follower," Voldemort crooned, and Severus went very, very still. "Are you finally ready to come back into the fold? To return to your rightful place?"

Draco had never known which side Severus really fought for. His father's stories had painted him in a cunning and vicious light, but the revelations about Evans and his ongoing role spying for Dumbledore had made him doubt his godfather's true intentions. Looking at him now, Draco had no idea what the wizard was thinking. But what he wondered was how, if you knew the being in front of you was responsible for the death of the woman you claimed to love, how on earth could you bend the knee to him?

"Of course, my Lord." Snape murmured, and bowed.

"Here's what you need to know," Lieutenant Tonks announced to the assembled witches and wizards. She looked tense and serious, no more mischief lingering in her eyes. "Our main objective as a unit is the destruction of certain targets and to provide front line infantry, siege breaking and demolitions. We've been given a list of targets, that we'll be scoping out and preparing invasion plans for. On top of that we'll be performing raids, based on information we're receiving from the "Scouts" under Lieutenant Gibson. These will provide intelligence, provisions and supplies for the rest of the Army. As an added measure of security, and to prevent the Death Eaters getting a proper idea of our numbers, you'll all wear disguises provided by Private Granger."

Hermione, settled at the back of the room next to her brother, waved a hand lazily.

"There are bunks and supplies here. Avoid going home, or returning to your families. We don't know who is being watched or who can be trusted." Hermione tuned her out. Because of how high profile she and her brother were, Tonks thought it was safer if they stayed elsewhere. Made it harder to sell them out. So they were staying in the Broch when off duty. Which, from the sounds of Tonks' briefing, wouldn't be often. She turned back to Tonks when Harry nudged her leg.

"...Orwell and Savage, code name: Drought…" Tonks had eight working pairs under her command. She had, apparently, named each of them after a kind of natural disaster. When asked why, she'd claimed it was because they were impossible to stop and incredibly disruptive, which was exactly what her unit was aiming for. "...Pertinger, Oakwood, you're Mudslide. Black and Granger, Tempest…" Harry jerked suddenly next to her, and gasped. Tonks made a face at them but kept talking.

"What?" Hermione asked, in a whisper.

"It's nothing." Harry murmured, looking very pale indeed.

Agatha Horne wasn't much liked.

Her office was sat three doors down from the Minister for Magic. As Senior Clark she needed to be on hand for drafting legislation, approving Ministry policy and providing administrative support to the Minister himself. A job that provided her with no small amount of influence, but very few friends. This might have been because in the wake of the Ministry's previously more liberal policies, Agatha's opinions were considered…out of fashion.

She strongly suspected that would change.

Her hand shook slightly as she surveyed herself in the mirror set into the back of her office door. Appearances were important, after all. Her brown hair was neatly set into pin curls. Much of her face was obscured behind enormous brown glasses, a colour which clashed with her schoolgirl pink lipstick. Her robes hid almost all of her figure and she'd recently taken to wearing squat heels to make herself seem slightly taller. She wore pearl earrings and a string of pearls around her neck, both were gifts, she suspected, from her late husband. He'd been dead for several years now and although the loss was rather old, she'd recently decided to get a Kneazle to keep her company. The brown tabby was sitting on a green velvet pillow and washing a paw. Agatha had named her Fides.

She turned away from the mirror and began gathering up her supplies for the day.

The reason Agatha had her job, despite not being well liked, was because Agatha was incredibly good at it. She kept meticulous records, produced peerless transcripts and notations and had never, in forty years of Ministry service, missed a deadline. She had been without scandal (with the exception of her many attempts to gain custody of her niece) and, unlike others, had never been successfully bribed. That was the reason why she was one of the first to be included in the collection of new acts the Ministry was unveiling. These laws would criminalise magic theft, allow the Ministry to remove holdings and positions from those who did not deserve them, and invoked mandatory attendance at Hogwarts. Her job next week was to oversee the curriculum at Hogwarts and ensure it was appropriate. Apparently no one had bothered to finish the work dear Delores had started several years ago. She would produce a report for the Minister who could make decisions based on her findings. All being well, the staff at Hogwarts would have taken steps to remove anything inflammatory before she started.

Her gaze caught on her reflection again and her nose scrunched. There was just the barest hint of a gold chain above her collar. She adjusted it so it was hidden from view, bade goodbye to her cat, and stepped out. There was work to do.

Our changes to Hogwarts were not well received, but many of them were too permanent to change. Minerva was promptly removed from Headmistress and, following an intense and often repeated interrogation on the location of her daughter, was allowed to resume her post as Transfiguration Teacher and Head of Gryffindor. As Poppy and her new "assistants" healed her, Minerva remarked that the only reason she'd been allowed to return to her post was because no Death Eater had ever passed a NEWT in transfiguration and Voldemort might be evil, but he did know the value of education. I myself was detained several times, wizards have always been suspicious of those of goblin descent, regardless of how much my parents loved each other, but was eventually freed, after I was able to prove a long pureblooded heritage. My mother wasn't a British witch, she came from an Austrian House, but the lineage was enough. Firenze, Charity and Hagrid were not so lucky. Hagrid was stripped of his teaching position, and the keys to the castle. Following Dumbledore's death he'd fallen into a deep depression and, after the loss of his job, and the entire Care of Magical Creatures course, returned to caring for the grounds, and was often lost in the Forbidden Forest for days at a time.

Firenze was chased from the castle in a haze of spellfire, vanishing in the Forest. What his brethren did upon receiving him, I do not know. I have never seen him again.

Charity…They snapped her wand immediately and removed her from the castle. I can tell you we fought against them, Minerva and Pomona were nearly killed in the ensuing scuffle, but that sounds like an excuse. And there can be no excuses. Not for what happened to her.

"…following on from the new educational decree, the Ministry today released the following statements regarding the so-called "Arcane Army".

Any witch or wizard found to be a member of, or associating with, the Arcane Army will be arrested and put to trial, pending a sentence in Azkaban. Information that leads to the capture or arrest of any individuals will be rewarded.

The Ministry is particularly interested in information regarding the whereabouts of the following individuals:

Undesirable No.1 - Amelia Gwendolyn Bones

Wanted for treason, sedition, murder and destruction of property.

Understand No.2 - Harry James Potter

Wanted for treason.

Undesirable No.3 - Hermione Jean Granger

Wanted for destruction of property, inheritance fraud, magic theft, murder and treason…"

(Article donated from the scrapbooks of Susan Bones)

Harry and Hermione stared down at the Prophet.

"I know this is very serious," Harry started scratching his scar. Hermione batted his hand away automatically. "But how come you've got more charges than me? I'm the Chosen One!"

"I'm just more annoying, I suppose." She scowled. "Couldn't they have chosen a better photo? I look like Bella in that one!"

"What is magic theft anyway?" Harry demanded. "That's not a real thing! They can't just make stuff up!"

"They're a mad dictatorship, making stuff up is literally all they do!"

Amelia had decided to give it a month, although she'd looked like every single day was costing her, before launching their counter offensive. A month to gather intelligence, let the Death Eaters relax and give them time to plan their own attacks. Harry and Hermione had settled in at the Broch in north Scotland and, as the closest operatives, were assigned to watching the Hogwarts Express arrive in Hogsmeade on the first of September.

They were both huddled under Harry's invisibility cloak on a nearby hillside, grimly writing notes and watching through binoculars. It was raining and the drizzle was steadily soaking them to the bone.

"I spot Hagrid," Hermione murmured, "Looks alive. He's still leading the first years."

"How many?"

Hermione counted. And then counted again.

"I thought they made it mandatory," She muttered. Harry took the binoculars and, after a brief look, snorted.

"They did." He admitted. "Guess this is what the wizarding population looks like without any muggleborns or blood traitors."

They both watch the very short line follow Hagrid towards the boats. The rest of the black cloaked crowd shuffled unhappily towards the carriages and Hermione spotted Ginny Weasley's red hair and then felt Harry jerk next to her.

"Don't!" She hissed, seizing his arm.

But he didn't move, just stared longingly at the white blonde hair of Luna Lovegood. The witch paused and, with unerring accuracy, looked towards the hillock they were lying on. Hermione checked the cloak was covering them. It was. She stared up at them for a long time before Ginny darted back and grabbed her arm, tugging her along.

Fred and George were on the run. They had been for over a month now.

Their recording and broadcasting setup couldn't stay in one place too long. The signals were too easy to track, which meant they, and Angelina and Lee, had to be ready to move at any moment.

It was exhausting.

Currently they were ensconced on a narrowboat just outside of Oxford. It wasn't an ideal set up by any means, but it wouldn't be for long. Nothing ever was these days.

George had a dim sense of concentration from Hermione. She wasn't nearby and whatever she was doing had her full focus. He didn't try to find out. If any of them got captured, the less information they had, the better.

He trusted her to come back and he trusted Harry to stop her from doing anything particularly stupid. Although if he was being honest, Harry was as bad as his sister.

Lee shuffled in, distributing coffee mugs to everyone. Angelina gave a small, very tired cheer.

"Nearly finished the script for tonight," He announced as they all drank.

"We going live or…?"

George shook his head.

"Not for this one. Fred will set it going and then we'll move on to the next safehouse. Lee's pick isn't it?"

"...This broadcast goes out to the students of Hogwarts. We've heard that you've got some new staff looking after you. We know some of you must be scared or worried. We know that things seem strange right now. Alecto Carrow isn't exactly out first pick for Headmistress. So for those who might be struggling to get to sleep…"

"...might be missing home…"

"...missing friends…"

"...we thought we'd tell you a story."

"...It's a long one…"

"...It's going to take a while…"

"..This is the story of the Dark Lord's Death…"

"Once upon a time…"

(Transcribed from the archives of Lee Jordan)

I recognised the author of "The Dark Lord's Death" almost instantly. Angelina Johnson, aside from being a remarkable chaser, had a very clear voice in her written work, and a particular talent for tall tales and prose. The Dark Lord's Death, the first of her fairy tale series to be published, tells of a Dark Lord who had taken over the land and was ruling through shadow and darkness. He could only be stopped by the actions of a brave hero, who with her sword and a glowing lantern, began to fight back against the darkness. An instalment broadcast every Monday evening, for eight weeks until the incident.

Amelia's message, passed along on via Veritas , had been encoded, but simple.

I need to see you .

She and Sirius had set up meeting locations and safety strategies before the start of the conflict, and although she hated to draw him out of hiding, this was important.

The meeting point was a muggle beach not far from Falmouth, where they'd had their first official date. They'd been together for several years by that point, but scheduling things around small children and full time work was difficult. The date had been something of a disaster. They'd ended up sheltering under a pier from a torrential rainstorm, neither of them willing to admit defeat and go home.

It was raining now, a light drizzle that was mostly obscured by the wooden pier. She'd apparated here, not directly from headquarters in case she was being tracked, and landed with her wand drawn.

Scanning the beach she saw no other figures, except for a lone dog, playing with a stick. He'd rag it from side to side before letting it go, to fly through the air, and then bounding after it on three legs.

She watched him, smiling faintly, trying to ignore the tears welling in her eyes. She had missed him.

Amelia wasn't an overly emotional woman, but she hadn't realised just how much of her life Sirius filled. Admittedly he usually filled it with noise, and arguments and chaos, but they had a full life together. She wished he could be with her. Wished she could come home to him and Remus.

She whistled sharply and the dog paused, cocking its head to the side, before it seized the stick and took off, galloping towards her. He skidded to a stop in front of her, and then spat the stick out at her feet.

Amelia blinked. "No," She said.

The dog whined and nosed the stick a bit closer.

It was a sandy stick, she noticed, and had rotting seaweed stuck to one end of it. Not for the first time, Amelia wondered why she'd chosen to marry this wizard in particular.

She threw the stick.

The dog caught it in mid air, gave it a few victorious crunches and then dropped it. The dog shook itself, dislodging water droplets, sand and other detritus, and as it did so, grew larger and taller until she was faced with the damp and sandy form of her husband, grinning devilishly from the floor. Amelia rolled her eyes.

"Have you got fleas?" She asked, cautiously helping him to his feet.

"No!" Sirius sounded insulted, before adding. "I had a bath last week!"

Amelia began to chuckle, which grew into full on belly laughter as the stress and worry and fear began to lift from her. Sirius just held her, pressing kisses to her hair as he waited for her to calm down.

"So," he asked, when she subsided to the occasional giggle. "What brings the most wanted witch in Britain to see me?"

He knew her so well, she thought, to prioritise work over family updates.

Amelia lifted the locket, and the note from her pocket and handed them over, supporting his weight as he looked.

"Damn," He muttered, brushing away a tear. "Stupid Reg. Didn't know what was…I would have helped him!"

"I know," She murmured, although she personally doubted it. At that time…Sirius may well have struck Regulus down himself.

"So you're looking for the original?" Sirius scratched his ear. "I'll be honest, a dark locket does sound familiar."
She gaped at him. Surely it couldn't be that easy?

"It does?"

He shrugged. "We asked the elves to clear Grimmauld of Dark Artefacts before the Order moved in. They gave me a list of what they found. As far as I know they'd stored all of it in the attic. Filly!" The elf arrived with a snapping sound and let out a squeal of delight when she saw Amelia. Filly was wearing her usual outfit, but held a set of knitting needles in her hands. It looked like she was making baby clothes and Amelia felt such a visceral stab of grief that she gasped. Filly met her gaze and knitting vanished.

"Hello, Field Marshal," The elf looked at her critically. "You is not eating enough." Amelia strongly suspected that was the mildest version of what the elf wanted to say. Filly had a lot of opinions about how well Amelia looked after herself.

"Filly," Sirius broke in. "Do you remember this?" He dangled the locket from its chain. The elf took it, her eyes narrowing with disgust. "I think we had another version of this in Grimmauld Place."

"We did," The elf admitted grimly. "We moves it to the attic when the Order came."

Sirius' eyes narrowed.

"We did?" He questioned. "Did you destroy it?"

Filly shook her head, ears flapping. "It was not wanting to be destroyed. We had stored it with the rest of the Black's property. But when we went to close up the house…"

Sirius growled, baring his teeth. "Fucking Fletcher!" He snapped and Amelia felt her stomach sink. She remembered now.

When the Order had been removed from Grimmauld Place they'd discovered the attic and a lot of the cupboards, drawers and stores had been raided. As what was stolen was mostly historic Black property, and neither Sirius nor Hermione had intended to ever use it, the family hadn't been terribly upset at the loss. But Amelia took exception to crimes occurring under own roof and had dispatched some junior Aurors to arrest him.

Which they had.
And which was why Mundungus Fletcher had been in Azkaban when the Death Eaters had attacked, and had been released with the other non-Death Eater prisoners. And hadn't been seen since.

"Thank you, Filly." Amelia gave the elf a smile. "And thank you for looking after her for me."

Filly waved her off.

"I missed looking after babies!" She announced and vanished with another pop.

The two stood in silence under the pier, the rain falling softly around them.

"Sorry I couldn't be more help," Sirius muttered, a little sullenly. Amelia waved him off.

"You helped plenty, I know what I'm looking for now. Makes life much easier." She wound her arms around him, "I missed you."

He snorted.

"You'd better have," He scowled at her. "I'm stuck all on my own with just Moony for company," Amelia arched one eyebrow at him.

"Oh yeah, I'm sure you two are having a terrible time," She teased. He snorted. "Sirius, love…" Her voice caught in her throat. He held her just a fraction tighter. "...How is she?"

He passed a hand over her hair, letting her bury her head in his neck. She bore his weight in return, letting him lean on her to save his leg.

"Growing and alive." He promised. "She's a big starer, loves looking at things. Not like Harry who was always trying to put shit in his mouth." He paused, thinking. "She's rolling over and beginning to sleep through the night now. There was a while where Hops and Moony were nocturnal but…."

Amelia wrenched her head back, fixing him with a stare.

"What did you just call her?"

Sirius froze.

"Bugger," he muttered.

"We said," Amelia hissed, jabbing him in the chest with a finger. "We discussed this! No Marauder nicknames! Prongslet was bad enough."

"Well… in our defence," he hedged, "She did earn the name." Amelia stared at him flatly. "You remember how Harry had to be carried everywhere for months after…" He grimaced. "Well turns out, Hops doesn't like being alone either. And if we leave her to play in another room…she sort of hops into our arms. One moment nothing, the next you've gotta catch a very wriggly baby who's appeared from nowhere!"

Amelia burst into tears.

"She's doing magic?" She managed to get out, through her sobs. "She's…"

Sirius, holding her tightly, hummed in confirmation.

"Not on purpose," he admitted. "But accidentally…yes. Youngest accidental magic in the family. Beat Susan out by a whole two weeks." Susan's first bout of accidental magic had involved setting off clocks whenever she was hungry. Which admittedly was more effective than crying. "She's doing so well. Her eyes finally settled. Gone your hazel rather than Moony's blue. Think she's going to have your scowl too." Amelia chuckled wetly, swiping away tears. "We tell her about you, you know. About her brave mother making the world a safe place for her. About how much her mother loves her…"

"I do," Amelia promised.

"I know. We tell her about her siblings. How Hermione is going to be wrapped around her finger. How Susan loves her so much. About how much Harry wants to teach her to ride a broom." He sighed. "How are my erstwhile children anyway?"

Amelia shrugged as best she could.

"Alive," She admitted, wishing she could be more specific. "Harry and Hermione signed up together. Susie is working in admin and strategy. People keep comparing Harry and Hermione to you and James." Sirius frowned and she smacked his chest. "Not like that! They're a good team. They've grown up a lot."

"Bet they'd think Hops was a good name," Sirius muttered quietly.

Amelia suspected he was probably right.

Hermione sat on the floor in Tonks' cramped bunkroom. She was watching her Lieutenant and cousin cast the same spell over and over again.

Hermione knew what the spell was. Every witch who passed through Poppy Pomfrey's care learned a cadre of spells to help them as they progressed through life. There were two that were on Hermione's mind as she sat there. The one Tonks was casting. And the one, sometime earlier, she'd clearly forgotten.

"Tonks," She said gently, trying to calm the distraught witch. "Put your wand down."

There were tears in Tonks' eyes and her voice was thick with panic. Her hair had gone completely white and she looked unnervingly like her Aunt Narcissa.

"It's…The charm must be wrong. It's…I can't be!" Tonks let Hermione take her wand. She set it on the floor and then pulled the older witch into her arms. "I need to…"

Hermione hummed as comfortingly as she could while Tonks cried herself out. Once she had she drew in a deep, shuddering breath.

"What the fuck do I do, kid?" She asked, wiping tears off her face.

"You go see your mum," Hermione suggested. "And we track down Kings."

Tonks glanced down at her, clearly checking to see if Hermione was joking.

"He's gonna be terrified," She muttered. "How the hell do I get word to him? He's Infiltration. I can't send him a patronus or an owl!"

"Easy," Hermione murmured and closed her eyes.

Somewhere in the Welsh countryside George's eyes snapped open.

"Really?" He complained to the room at large as he staggered out of bed. "Better be important, love."

Hermione sent him a wave of gratitude and returned her focus to Tonks.

"Any moment now…" She promised.

They sat in silence for a few minutes.

The radio crackled into life and the familiar voice of Ariel, sounding rather sleepy called out:

"... Radio. Two for Three. Walking Owl…"

Hermione's primary school had spent a lot of class time of World War Two, including a visit to Bletchley Park, the home of cryptography. The codes weren't particularly fool proof, but they contained limited enough information to be of use, even if cracked. The first word refers to the type of message. Radio was a message request. The numbers referred to the units involved. Owl meant news, and walking meant in person. The units that didn't have Hermione in them had enchanted parchments that linked to the Veritas message book, although they didn't normally send them quite so late. If Kingsley didn't hear it himself, someone in his team would and would tell him. Tonks needed to talk to him.

The three of them hovered over Diagon Alley, brooms held tightly as they hoped the dark sky would hide them.

This was a risk, a massive one, but one they were prepared to take. Hermione wasn't here as a soldier, but as the silent third party of Veritas . And as the lynchpin between their bonds.

"First date in weeks and you take me here," She muttered, grinning at the pair of them. Fred smirked back, even as George rolled his eyes.

"Aren't you meant to be busy anyway?" He retorted.

"Amelia said this was more important," Hermione admitted. "If we can get it to work that is."

"Everything is about to change." George murmured, reaching out to catch her hand, kissing her fingers absently.

She didn't point out that everything already had.

"From tomorrow, we go on the offensive." She glanced down at the quiet street far below them. "No more running."

Fred grinned.

"You ready to make some noise?" He taunted, and they began to cast.

They'd needed a symbol. Something to unite under. Something that could be left like the Dark Mark.

The first suggestion had been the Phoenix, but they were all wary of something with such clear ties to Dumbledore. Fred had suggested the hedgehog as they were known to eat snake eggs, but no one had taken him seriously. In the end they had settled on a lantern, like the one in Angelina's story.

A lone light flickering in the darkness.

A reminder that there was always hope.

Whereas the Dark Mark was Dark Magic, this was its antithesis. The sigil shone like the sun, and its light had a similar effect. Warming the soul, calming the mind, cheering the heart. Built on the years of experience they had had trying to cast the patronus charm, it drew on the love that they shared with each other, their families and friends. If you'll excuse a charms professor for his enthusiasm, I've not seen its like before or since. I don't teach spell creation at Hogwarts. Even the NEWT students don't touch on it. It's a tricky subject, mastered by very few.

Severus was good at spellcraft, as were the Marauders. But in many ways its more of an art than a science. Which was probably why it came naturally to the Twins. They were capable of shaping their magic to their will and turning instinctual magic into honed and practised spells. Not even their bondmate has anywhere near their gift at spellcraft.

It was a beautiful piece of magic and frankly, in my mind, the greatest bit of spell creation seen in this generation.

It was also, like all of the Twins' magic, almost impossible to get rid of. The symbol hung over Diagon Alley for nearly a fortnight before it burned out. They repeated it whenever they could.

Agatha Horne was not spoken to much in the Ministry. She didn't have many friends and had little to offer in the way of companionship.

But what she did have was a near constant supply of extremely expensive, and delicious, elvish biscuits in her desk drawer.

And a colleague or coworker who wanted to receive these treats would have to provide her with some decent gossip. Which was why Agatha was almost always the first to know absolutely everything. The gossip was an excuse to bring tea and Agatha would of course provide the accompanying biscuits. It was a transaction that suited everyone.

Which was why Agatha Horne was one of the first to hear the news.

Ursula Brandith appeared in her doorway holding two teacups.

"Tea, Agatha?" She offered, almost vibrating with excitement. Clearly, Agatha thought, she'd heard something good.

"Certainly," She waited until the witch had sat down before opening the drawer and setting the box on the desk. Using a set of sugar tongs, she carefully deposited one biscuit on the side of each saucer, pausing momentarily to admire the way they glittered and shimmered.

"Word is," Agatha watched the other witch carefully, noting how thrilled she seemed. "They've finally caught them!"

"Caught who, dear?"

"That trio thing. You know Arthur Weasley's boys and mudblood Black girl." Ursula took a delicate bite of her biscuits, and Agatha resisted the urge to curse the woman to chew faster. "I've heard," She continued, finally swallowing. "That they'll be dealt with by the end of the day! No more bother from them, and one less magic thief to boot!"

Agatha ignored the way her hand was trembling and took a restorative sip of tea.

"Well…Isn't that just wonderful?"