A/N: *pokes head from under rock* Heeeeeeeeey, so it's been awhile. This story is not dead, I just needed to find the motivation to type up the chapter...yeah, I know, compared to writing it that should be easier, but nah, not this time.
We're nearly at the trial! Please keep in mind, I'm currently in Japan and did not have enough room in my luggage to fit Order of the Phoenix (yes, that is lame, but I'm here for a year and I need things like clothes), so the trial is probably not only going to be altered by the crossover elements, but also by the fact that I don't have the book with me. ...Unless I buy it in Japanese...hmm...
Anyways, on with the fic!
Chapter 13: Research and Crack-ships
The group that returns to Number 12 Grimmauld Place is, on the whole, a much happier group than had originally exited the building.
"Did everything go well? You weren't spotted, were you?" Mrs. Weasley frets from the kitchen, voice low but threaded with worry.
"Nothing of the sort, dear! Hermione and Harry blended in wonderfully of course, and Bill was no slouch either! It was so impressive, though – the Muggles have this system set up, so you can borrow books, but they can also keep track of who borrows what without spells! It's very much like the Hogwarts's library, not quite as big, but still the sheer number of books Muggles have produced is phenomenal, since they don't have duplication spells. I found one book that detailed 'copiers' which helps explain the process, and Hermione got what they call a 'library card' – that's what they use to keep track of who uses which books, but don't worry, there aren't any tracking charms, Bill and I both checked – and used it to borrow some of the books they found to help figure out what made that carving."
"That's lovely. And where are the children? And where is Bill?"
Mr. Weasley chuckles, "Well you know Hermione and her books. She enlisted both Bill and Harry's help in putting them away in a proper order so she can continue her research as soon as possible. I'm quite sure they won't even need us adults helping with the way Hermione has things handled."
Mrs. Weasley laughs as well. "That does sounds like Hermione. But would you mind calling them to wash up for dinner? It should be ready in just a bit."
Harry, meanwhile, is trying and generally failing to direct Hurricane Hermione, while Ginny watches, deeply amused.
(Bill had been smart, and exited as soon as he'd deposited his load of books. Ron, however, was nowhere to be seen.)
"Hermione, just organize these by the country they're on, and then by the subject! It doesn't have to be alphabetical within each sub-category! You're making this more difficult to find than the bloody Dewy Decimal system for all of us who aren't you."
"No, Harry! I won't be able to find anything otherwise! This is the easiest way for me to cross-reference the books."
"Hermione. Do you want help? Because if you do, Ginny and I and maybe Ron need to be able to find things as well. Besides, it's not like you're writing a paper on all of this."
"That's an excellent idea, Harry! Do you think I have enough time to get a rough draft written before school begins? I know there are magazines that publish papers, and of course, journals in each respective field, but this is a bit broader than what I've gotten to see in those. Professor McGonagall would probably know, wouldn't she? Or if she's too busy, maybe Professor Flitwick? I can't be the only student who's thought to do something like this."
"Hermione…" Harry groans.
"Besides!" She turned back to him, from where she'd been muttering at the pile of books. "Half of these are for you, so you can start learning about other cultures for countries with which you might be able to ally in this bloody stupid war that's going on. And if not ally, then at least get some more perspectives on things like battle strategy and whatnot – Ron could probably look those over, too, since he's so interested in chess – and also give you a sense of other battle options like guns, and knives, and the like so we're not just – just one trick ponies or something!"
"Mmm, I'd like that," Ginny comments thoughtfully over Hermione's harsh breathing at the end of her rant. "But how much can we learn about physical pursuits from books? They're not going to be able to correct our technique if we do something wrong, not like the professors can do in class or Madame Hooch in practice, sometimes."
Hermione huffs. "Yes, that is the problem. I think that if we can get into basic physical fitness and then slowly work on copying things from the books, we might be able to get Professor Flitwick to help us out on things like knives or maybe the sword, since those are showcased on the dueling circuit. At the very least, he might have an idea of where we should start looking for instruction. The international crowd has a lot more variety in who uses what in combination with magic."
"Unlike most British Purebloods," Harry snorts, before adding, "But I think you're right. Besides, Flitwick is part Goblin, isn't he? He's probably wicked with a sharp object in addition to a wand."
"Knives, rapiers, long swords, axes, glaives, stiletto knives…oooh, Claymores, I wonder if I'd be able to use one of those…."
Harry looks at Ginny, whose face has taken a dreamy look, with both eyebrows raised.
"You realize you're about five centimeters taller than I am and that Claymores are huge and bloody heavy, right? Also, where would you put it?"
Ginny huffs. "Shrinking spells. And besides, there are spells to predict growth and such – they're basic healer spells, and they're done all the time when you go in for a check-up. I'm sure I could find a book at Hogwarts's with the spells in them, since I don't really remember what they said at my last one in December. Then I'd get you or Hermione to cast it on me, so I can see if I should put in the effort to learn to work with something so large and pointy."
"Oh," Harry says. "I wonder how tall I'll be?"
Ginny shakes her head and mutters, "Shrimp."
"Oi, you don't get to start! We're in the same boat with the Twins, you know, and I don't have to tell you if I see them sneaking things up the stairs into the girl's dorm and then having them end up in your shampoo."
"You know, I'm still not sure how they get around the staircase trap."
Harry shrugs. "Magic? Brooms? Accomplices? Magic? Take your pick."
They're interrupted from further argument and speculation by Mr. Weasley calling through the door, "Children, dinner's ready! Please wash up before you head downstairs."
"Got it," Ginny calls back, and rolls her eyes, as they both grab Hermione's shoulders and drag her away from the books to the bathroom down the hall. Harry does have to block her from a feeble attempt at getting back to the room, but Hermione's gotten much better about trying to escape Ron and his clutches as they try to get her to eat without reading a book, and Ginny herself is often a part of those attempts to corral Hermione.
They somehow manage to be the first ones down to the kitchen.
"Oh, good, you lot are here. Do you know where Ron and the twins have gone off to? They disappeared as soon as I'd let them go from cleaning the upper hallway that had some odd infestation of slugs in the wall."
"No, Mum, but I can go –."
A sudden sharp crack followed by a loud crash in the kitchen doorway cuts Ginny off.
"Sorry about that –"
"Ron's stomach rumbled –"
"So we thought –"
"We'd be smashing older brothers –"
"And give Ron –"
"A lift!" They finish in unison.
Ron pulls himself off the floor, looking green.
"Ugh. Never again," he says, shaking his head, "I am never, ever, Apparating with you two every again."
"Not even for dinner, Ron?" Fred asks.
"Yeah, we can't let you starve, now can we?" George adds.
"What poor role models we'd be for Ginny and him if we did, Gred!"
"Precisely, Forge! It's almost a new year at the magnificent Hogwarts."
"Our last –"
"Sadly our final –"
"Change to prove we're ready for life beyond Hogwarts's hallowed walls –"
"To make a name for ourselves and be successful, talented –"
Ginny is in the middle of suffocating from laughter, along with Harry and Ron, while Hermione rolls her eyes at the display and Mrs. Weasley makes a visible effort to restrain her tirade about Fred and George's career paths in an attempt to make one of the last dinner's they'll have together comfortable.
"Right, you lot," Bill says from the doorway, having just caught the tail end of the Twin's production, "let's eat."
No one notices that a slice of Treacle Tart goes missing that night.
The days leading up to Harry's trial (or farce of a trail, as Hermione likes to say), pass in a flurry of library books, notes, and an additional email, read on a return trip to the library, highlighting some things that should be asked, even if a lawyer is hired, and also hinting at a back-up plan should things go awry.
(Harry can't say that it isn't a small comfort to have family be worried about him, although an email promising to 'break him out of British Wizard jail' is not exactly what he was hoping for as a back-up plan. Hermione, unsurprisingly, agrees, although Ginny is all for it, so much so that she starts preparing to practice her Patronus Charm and get it down as soon as possible should the worst come about. Ron slinks in and out, borrowing the battle strategy books with a determined look on his face, although Harry notes that the books always seem to be flipped to the sections on spies, infiltration, information dissemination, and guerilla tactics.)
Still, with each passing day, Harry loses another sliver of hope that anyone will respond to the owl he'd sent, and with the current political climate, Harry can't blame the lawyers or law wizards and witches from taking his case.
(Except, he can, and so do Hermione and Ginny.)
When Ron isn't holed up in their room reading, he's somewhere with the Twins, spending more time with them, than with his best mate whose fate is about to be decided by a bunch of old codgers in Malfoy and Fudge's pockets. Still, Harry would be more bothered, but he's also neck deep (literally, when he's sitting down) in books and notes, scribbling frantically in an attempt to determine the extradition policies of Singapore.
(It actually looks pretty good, if Harry can consider himself a political figure, which, at this point, he kinda feels like he is, even if he's not sure anyone else would see him that way – or he could get another group to take his case, although that's tricky, because of the Statue of Secrecy, and if he's willing to cut off his access to magic until such a time as he can figure out what that community's rules are on foreigners, which complicates his other way of not getting extradited from Singapore. Also, Harry's a minor. He's not quite sure how that would affect things.)
It's still looking easier to move to a cabin in the middle of nowhere in Canada and cover it in wards – Bill might help, Hermione definitely would – or to go to Ireland and see how they want to deal with the Wizengamot.
(Unless, of course, Ireland is part of Wizarding Britain? Seamus and a few others go to Hogwarts, of course, and the castle is in Scotland, but Wizarding geography was never actually explained to Harry so he's really not sure what's going on, on that front.)
When he's not further ruining his eyesight and posture by reading increasingly tiny print, and taking copious amounts of notes alongside Hermione and Ginny, Mrs. Weasley has them, with Fred, George, and Ron, cleaning up Grimmauld Place as best they can without magic.
They have their work cut out for them, especially since Kreature, the house itself, and possibly some mysterious force of magic, are all trying to prevent or otherwise undo their work.
This is made clear when, a week or so after the mask scene, the prankster/force of magic discovered some home-made explosives and set them off at random times throughout the day. Nothing was badly burned, and miraculously, no one was injured by the explosives themselves, but the explosions always went off when people were alone in a room or as a signal to go to bed. (It took several hours for the adults to realize that, as they keep setting off more and more explosions as they tried to find the culprit, before they gave up – much to the teens' relief – and went to bed, at which point the explosions stopped for the night.)
Another time, a strange umbrella-like image was burned into each of the door frames, coupled with other symbols beneath the initial image, though separated by the umbrella shaft. None of the symbols really repeated, and though Hermione and Bill could narrow down the symbols to those used in East Asia, they couldn't figure out what they meant.
(Needless to say, Shiro had far too much fun listing all the most unlikely couples he could think of and then burning them into the wood with his reiatsu focused on one clawed finger nail. His favorite was Kenpachi and Sakikabe, which was a stroke of genius he'd had at four in the morning).
Bored Shiro is the best Shiro lbr.
Next chapter is the trial (which...will hopefully just be one very long chapter? Fingers crossed)!
(Shameless self-promotion: If you've read my FFVII fic, And One Flew, do you mind letting me know if you want a podfic of it read or not? Because I made one, but I'm not going to bother posting it unless people actually want it.)