The Next Morning, Lupin’s…
Xander groaned as daylight filtered through the window right onto his face. He knew three things at that moment. One, he needed to pee, really bad. Two, he was hungry. And three, he was laying on something or someone since it was both warm and a little harder than a mattress or couch.
Opening his brown eyes Xander saw a bit of female curvage right in front of him. “Wholly mother mary,” he got out hoarsely. He tried to get up but found he missed a few things. One – or in this case of still counting, four, he was staring at Buffy’s – things, since his head was resting on her stomach, and two, someone was laying on top of him. Luckily Buffy was clothed and he glanced to see that Willow was halfway on top of him, still clothed. And yay, he was still clothed! He wasn’t going to burn in hell for something bad. The three had just dogpiled asleep on a bed after their night at Stonehenge.
“Will,” he whispered. “I need to pee.” That apparently meant to Willow, snuggle in closer.
“Pretty,” Willow mumbled into his back with a smile on her face.
Xander made a face at that knowing that she was dreaming and didn’t mean he was pretty, pretty to girls meant girly pretty, he was not girly pretty – or at least he hoped not. “Yup, whoever it is – sure is pretty, need to move, Will,” he told her. It took a bit of doing, Willow was just clinging everywhere as he got out and with a grin wrapped her around Buffy who was still out of it before he hurried to the bathroom.
He remembered the night before as he did his business. His group at Stonehenge had seen Remus disappear with Jenny and Willow but they had to help get Giles clear of a wizard/demon battle before the four could leave. Luckily Tonks helped them out and they got hit by a stray burst of demon fire from some big nasty thing before Sirius got them out of there. Sirius had taken the brunt of the flames and when they landed on Remus’ group they were smoking.
Remus had been hit with a spell that hurt his back but he assured them he’d be alright. The three teenagers had been hyper from the action and spent the night in Willow and Buffy’s room chatting and that was where Xander had woken up.
He sniffed his clothing and, whew! He still smelled smoky and now a bit odory so he took a shower and headed for his room in a towel as he heard Willow mutter something else in her sleep as he passed the girls’ room and grinned when he heard Buffy say something and knew she was awake.
By the time Willow and Buffy were up and ready for the day Xander was on his fifth cinnamon roll, or as the Brits called them, a bun. But whatever.
“Hungry much?” Buffy asked as they sat down by him, Mrs. Lupin was there with her tea as Xander had a large dinner platter stacked with ‘buns’. Not like five or ten, more like twenty to thirty.
“Sparkle loves me,” Xander clarified happily.
Mrs. Lupin nodded. “She was very good with Remus when he was a child.”
Xander looked her way not sure if that was an insult or not, he was a young man, not a child. He decided not to bother with it; she was old and half off her rocker.
Willow took a bun and Sparkle appeared and added another to it. Every time anyone ate one she put a new one on. The two girls smiled at that as Buffy inhaled her tea. She was not awake yet and was grateful the Brits loved their national drink caffeinated. “So where is every-,” Buffy stopped as she took a bun and Sparkle popped another one back on. “-one?” she finished. Her slayer senses were not prepared for house elves this early.
Mrs. Lupin smiled. “Remus and Nymphadora have gone somewhere, I would hope in regards to something personal, but Merlin if they inform me,” she told them. “Young Sirius has gone with your guardians somewhere they have not divulged to me either,” she informed Buffy.
“So, what do we do then?” Xander asked. “Will’s got the witchy-fu going again. We could head on to Harry’s school on our own.”
“Giles and Jenny would kill us,” Willow told them with a shake of her head. “I haven’t really learned to teleport yet.”
“We are in countryville,” Buffy finished in agreement as she took another bun and another was put on top. Xander was up to six now, Buffy on her second and Willow was still working on her first. Mrs. Lupin’s cottage was a ways away from any city. “No place to really go.”
Mrs. Lupin smiled. “Nonsense, we shall make a day of it then, shall we?”
The three teens looked her way. “Doing what?” Buffy asked curiously. o.O.o.O.o.O.o.O.o.O.o Around the same time - #4 Privet Drive, Little Whinging, Surrey…
Petunia Dursley was up making breakfast for her family when she spotted a nice but mid range priced car pull up in front of her house. Vernon hadn’t left for work yet and Dudley was getting ready for school.
With eagle eyes she watched as a well dressed gentleman in a tailored suit and tie got out of the driver’s side, came around and opened the passenger door for a beautiful and also well dressed woman younger than the man to get out of the car. The woman had an armful of files and a clipboard while the man looked directly at her house and he didn’t look like he was here for a friendly visit, he looked like a government official.
“Vernon!” she called out as she kept watch.
“In a second!” Vernon called back. He was much more even tempered without her brat of a nephew there.
The man started up the walk as the woman read out of a file to him. He said something back to her and the woman just stared at him in shock for moment before following him. Petunia felt fear creeping up her spine, if he was that abrupt with his subordinates what was he going to be like with her husband? She was confident in Vernon’s abilities to handle anything, but this man, Petunia knew to the core of her being, was beyond Vernon’s league. “Now!” she called out again looking towards the stairs. “There’s someone at the door!”
Vernon came lumbering down the stairs. His size was formidable, and he wore a nice suit, but he looked like a walrus on his best day. This man outside ringing the bell, he was like a hawk, circling for prey.
Petunia stood in the kitchen doorway as Vernon answered the door. Her husband looked to the man and his suit and him in general and she sighed in relief as he understood now that this man was not to be trifled with. “Yes? May I help you?” Vernon asked. A few minutes earlier…
Sirius sat in the back seat of the nice car Giles had ‘borrowed’ from a parking lot for this part of their journey. They had Willow’s adoption papers ready to get through the Ministry with Tonks’ help. Now they needed to get Harry free from the Dursley’s. He had told Giles and Jenny all about the Dursley’s and their relation to his beloved godson. How on earth the two women could be so different and be blood related, he didn’t know.
Sirius disillusioned himself just before they rounded the corner. He nodded with a smile, while he didn’t want to give up his godson to someone else, after being around these two, he knew it would be fire and brimstone protecting James and Lily’s children, they were a force not to be trifled with and it made him smile. At the car…
Jenny looked out at just your average looking English home that Rupert had pulled in front of, the home of where Willow’s twin brother had grown up; apparently it had not been good. She knew what normal homes could hide. She glanced at Rupert while she got her ‘files’ in order.
“You do remember not to say anything,” Rupert reminded her as he straightened his tie. Her attempt at an English accent wasn’t bad, but when angry, it was a pure American with a dash of Romany swearing that came out. And if the Dursley’s were like Sirius, Dora and Remus had told them about, she would not be in character for this.
Jenny nodded as they heard Sirius snicker behind them. “Yes, I know,” she told Rupert looking his way and she smiled. He was incredibly hot looking, very polished, in an expensive and tailored suit and tie. He glanced her way and saw the look and gave her a small smile.
Giles’ eyes then went a cold bureaucrat and he got out of the car, came around and opened her door as any English gentleman should and she got out. Every inch of him radiated an Alpha male with authority which the others had informed them would make the larger male Dursley more agreeable, the man was a bully and stood up only to those weaker than himself. Jenny opened her files as he strode up the walk towards the door; they had both spotted a woman looking at them through one of the windows.
“Is it inappropriate right now for me to say that you are incredibly sexy like that?” she got out as she pretended to read the file to him.
“Not at all,” he said evenly. “Headmaster and school girl later on then?” he said in such an even tone that Jenny stared at him for a long moment as they made it to the front steps and he rang the bell. He clasped his hands behind him taking on the air of superiority and she smiled.
The door opened and Jenny blinked in surprise at the size of this man. He was ‘rotund’, for lack for a better word. Behind him was a skinny bird like woman watching nervously from a doorway.
“Yes? May I help you?” the man asked gruffly.
Rupert held up an ID wallet, bewitched to be very official looking credentials of a government administrator. “Yes you may,” he replied in a very clipped, very English, VERY high class voice. “I’m Dr. Quentin Windham-Price, head of the Surrey Department of Child Services.”
Jenny saw the man’s face go a little darker color at that news. “I assure you my son has done nothing-,” he started in a loud voice before the woman came up and put a hand of his arm stopping him from yelling at Rupert whose eyebrow had slowly gone up as Vernon’s voice got louder and the eyes colder, more judging.
“Why don’t you come in for tea,” the woman told them.
The large man nodded as they could see him try and calm himself down. “Of course,” he said grudgingly as he opened the door.
The living room was nice, your average middle class home. Jenny looked to the pictures noticing that they were all of the man, woman and a very ball shaped boy who varied in age from child to mid-teen; the older he got, the heavier he got. Like father like son apparently.
Rupert was seated on one of the high backed chairs in the room with a cup of tea as he looked around the room. “I’m Petunia Dursley,” the woman told them as she was ‘mother’ over the tea. Jenny waved off the tea as she continued to look around the room. “This is my husband Vernon and the boy in the picture is our son, Dudley.”
Jenny nodded as she took out a small camera and took a few pictures. The Dursley’s looked curiously at her.
Rupert set his cup down on his saucer. “I’m here about a file on a boy in your care.” He took up a file from Jenny. “A Harold James Potter.”
They watched as Mr. Dursley’s face turned purple. “That boy is a menace! What’s he done now?”
Rupert finished his tea and carefully set cup and saucer down on the coffee table before he looked to his folder again. “According to this, young Mr. Potter stopped regular schooling at age eleven and has not been back since.” He looked to them. “You are on file as his legal guardians, and as poor oversight to my staff he has come to my attention and if he is as you say, a menace, then the government will take over his care.” He looked to the two of them with sharp eyes. “Where is Mr. Potter?” he asked.
Vernon looked apoplectic while Petunia was as white as a ghost. Jenny took a picture of that shocking them both.
“Mum!” came a whiny warble from a teenage boy from up the stairs. “This don’t fit!”
“In a moment Dudders!” Petunia called out nervously.
“I have school, Mum!” the boy called back and the thump of heavy footsteps came down the stairs. A husky teen came into the room with his pants on but the waist undone, they were too small and his white school shirt was straining at the seams to hold him in. While not as large as his father, he was not skinny. He stopped when he saw the guests and his eyes went wide when Rupert looked his way. He did have a commanding presence.
“And this is?” Rupert asked.
“Our son,” Vernon spat out. “Dudley.”
“I see,” Rupert replied looking him over again and jotting something down in the file somewhere. “I assume you have the boy on a slimming regimen, that much weight is not good for him.”
“He’s a healthy young lad!” Vernon replied.
Rupert looked to him and Vernon swallowed as piercing eyes looked him before Rupert jotted something else in his files. “A matter for later discussion, where is Mr. Potter?” Rupert asked firmly looking to them. “I shan’t ask again.”
“That freak? Gone he is,” Dudley said.
“Gone,” Rupert replied as Jenny took more pictures. “He’s not here then?”
“He’s at a boarding school,” Petunia got out as she watched worriedly as Jenny wandered and took more pictures. Dudley watched her with somewhat of a leering scowl, Jenny was hot.
Rupert looked at his files. “No school is listed here. Yet I have reports from neighbors about a smallish child,” he glanced at Dudley again, “so not your own, in clothing fit for a beggar and looking as if he ate table scraps.” He looked to the two again.
“He gets enough to eat!” Vernon replied.
“Apparently not if you and your son are of any veracity to this,” Rupert’s voice snapped. “I want to see him--- now.” The last word came out as a command, not a request.
“He’s at school! He doesn’t live here except during summer months!” Petunia got out as Jenny continued to take photos of the place. She went to follow Jenny but Rupert cleared his throat as she moved, at the look he gave her Petunia stayed where she was.
“My assistant has every legal authority to take record of the entirety of your house, you are Mr. Potter’s guardians and are held accountable for his living conditions, his well being and his schooling until he is of age,” Rupert said sharply as his eyes went to Vernon who was turning purple but he held his tongue at the look in Rupert’s eyes. “If I find anything out of place here Mr. Dursley, you and your wife will find yourself held in police custody and young Mr. Dursley will be in our care until this is straightened out, am I clear?”
Petunia gripped her husband’s arm willing him to hold his tongue; the news of them in jail would ruin her socially, but to lose her son? The man was waiting for Vernon to explode at him and get them in more trouble. “Of course,” Vernon finally got out and Petunia relaxed a little.
“Then be seated and any questions we have you will answer,” he told them motioning Dudley to sit by them as he himself went to see the house.
Rupert came up to Jenny on the second floor who was staring at a door with several locks on the outside and a cat flap at the bottom with hard eyes. “Look in there,” she said pointing behind her with her thumb surprising him but he did. Rupert saw a large room with everything a spoiled brat could want. They knew it was Dudley’s room.
Rupert came back and opened the locked door to the other room and his heart clenched at the sight. It was a young man’s room, with a few posters, a twin bed, wardrobe, desk and chair but the glaring differences of this to the other teens room was outrageous. There was one window with bars over it and his face was strained at the ‘prison’ Harry’s room had turned out to be. “Take pictures, be calm, he won’t be coming back here,” he told her.
“Damn right! I’m going to kill that fat bastard,” Jenny fumed as she took pictures. She looked around and found a few things that looked personal to Harry and she held her tears in as she put them in her bag to give to him later.
“Check the cupboard like Sirius mentioned,” Rupert told her as he left.
He came down resuming his seat again, his eyes were hard. He took out a paper form from his file folder and put it on the table with a pen. “You will sign this giving up all rights to Mr. Potter,” he told them with a snap in his voice that he would brook no argument about it; they knew that he knew just what crappy guardians they were.
They signed it, if they hadn’t been so worried about their future they might have realized that the government could just take their rights away, no need for a form to be signed. Also, as they didn’t read it they didn’t realize that the forms were giving Jenny those rights. Rupert had them sign two more forms before he continued on. “I have photographs of Mr. Potter’s room and your son’s… a full investigation will start with the whereabouts of Mr. Potter since you are unable to produce him.”
“He’s at school!” Vernon yelled at him. “The bloody freak is away from us!”
He went to stand up but the end of the file in Rupert’s hand was pushed into his chest firmly enough to not let him get leverage to stand. “Do you hear yourself man?” Rupert growled at him. “You lock a boy in a room, you clothe him in rags and you starve him?” The three Dursley’s now looked very scared. Rupert calmed himself just a bit. “I must amend myself, you are no man, you are a vile thing to mistreat a child, yours or not, you and your wife will be remanded to county custody while I find Mr. Potter. Your son will be taken to a facility until you are deemed fit parents.”
Vernon was completely purple in face at this point. “See here!” he said.
“I warn you,” Rupert said darkly. “Another word, another action, anything, and you will spend the rest of your life in prison for the disappearance and most likely the murder of a juvenile.”
Vernon went from purple to white as he sat there realizing that they could actually do it; he couldn’t get Harry back to prove he was alive and well until school was over with! Rupert saw Jenny headed their way with fury in her eyes. Rupert intercepted her before she made it to the sofa by grabbing a hold of her upper arm leading her into the kitchen. “The cupboard!” she hissed to him. “My god Rupert, I will tear them apart!”
He cupped her face and kissed her. “Calm down,” he told her. “Do not do anything!”
Jenny moved away from him but stayed there as he went and looked under the stairs in the cupboard. His heart stilled seeing that while there were a few boxes stored in a space no child could stand or move much in there. Rupert thought that Sirius and Remus were mistaken until his eyes adjusted to the darkness of the hole he noticed there were a few crayon drawings on the walls from a child and the signs of wear and tear that areas had been rested against and worn the paint off as if someone had lived there. How in the hell was Harry even sane enough to be a somewhat normal child like Remus and Sirius talked about? When he stood up Rupert wasn’t there, he turned to see three pairs of eyes looking at him from the living room and they saw the man known as Ripper.
With long strides he came in and grabbed Vernon by the tie and with strength belying his lean stature lifted the man to stand up and force marched him over to the cupboard yanking him over to look inside as the man went purple, this time by lack of air from the tie choking him. “You sir, are filth!” Rupert hissed at him. “Dante’s ninth level could not hold someone like you!” He slammed the man’s head into the wall and knocked him out.
“Vernon!” Petunia said as Rupert looked her way. Dudley had gotten up to defend his father but seeing the fury of the man who just manhandled his father with ease he wet himself and hid behind his mother.
“Both of you monsters!” Rupert bit out at her. Jenny came out of the kitchen and kicked Vernon in the crotch waking the man to a semi conscious state to cry out with a moan.
“She’s mine,” Jenny told Rupert forebodingly. “And then the one who put him here is next.” -- Interlude, The End of the Dursleys -- Surrey Juvenile Detention Home, two days later…
Dudley Dursley looked out of the window of the old building almost in a trance like state. The police had come and before he knew it his parents were in one car and he in another. For the moment they didn’t know how long he was going to be there as there would be an investigation into the disappearance of Harry Potter. Dudley told the officer that Harry was fine and in a magic boarding school. He whined, complained, and had a tantrum over it all.
Unfortunately for Dudley, the police had enough evidence on him from his school and the neighborhood about his fighting and stealing that he had ended up here instead of foster care.
After the tantrum they put him on some prescription to calm him down. The kids laughed at him calling him a whale and they stole most of his food at mealtimes and beat him up. The clothes they had given him to wear were second hand from the goodwill which was bad enough, however, all that fit him were old men’s clothing that smelled like cabbage, urine and moth balls.
He wanted to see his Aunt Marge, she would take him in.
She did so, for which Dudley was grateful. He had been there two weeks when she started a list of things for him to do. And everything he did was wrong. He ran away when he turned sixteen.
He went to the police wanting to see his parents. Dudley was confused to find out they had been listed as dead trying to escape police custody six months previously, Harry Potter had been found and with a new guardian, but he had filed child abuse, the two had been headed to a few years sentence, too bad they tried to run.
Dejected, Dudley went back to Privet Drive to find a new family lived in his old home and everything had been sold in an estate sale, the funds directed to debts owed and their burial plots. The problem Dudley had now was because of his nasty nature no one came to console him or even offer to help him. His friends formed a new group without him and the new bully beat him soundly until Dudley moved on and found a job at a petrol station and a room in a hostel. No games, no big dinners made by his mum, no telly and crisps and just lazing about with nothing to do but beat on his freak of a cousin --- deep in Dudley’s mind he knew his crappy life was Harry’s fault. Somewhere deep in a cave somewhere on Earth…
“You listen to me!” Vernon Dursley yelled from where he was chained to a wall, he had bruises and his body and crotch hurt. There were others around but most of them were little creatures like something from the freak boy’s world. “I’m a human, I’m British and I demand my rights!”
He had woken up after the slam into the wall to the Child Services man and the freak boy’s godfather, the mass murderer - something Black, he couldn’t remember his name, standing over him. Petunia was huddled on the floor with a black eye and cradling her arm with the assistant woman near her. She looked just as vicious as the scary Child Services chap. Vernon admitted in his mind he had been a bully most of his life with his stature, but this man was a bigger fish than he.
“There’s a better way,” Black told the scary man.
“As long as they get their due,” scary man replied.
“And so they shall,” Black answered.
He remembered no more until he had woken up again in this hellhole place. It was underground with others, not all human, who were forced to work by digging with shovel and pickaxe. He was in his pants and shirt which were now filthy.
“You fat human, you work! You were sold to us, you and bird neck woman!” the little creature said.
“I’m a free man you ugly freak!” he told him as he picked up the shovel nearby and swung it at the creature. The creature grinned avoiding it easily and Vernon almost wet himself seeing sharp teeth.
“You were sold to us for a small price, work them, they say. You will work!” With that Vernon felt the lash of a whip on his back and he went to his knees from the pain. “Mr. Black said a belt would be best on you fat human.” He felt the lash again and again.
He learned over time to shut his mouth. As the months passed Vernon lost all of his excess weight and then some as he was enslaved there by what he learned were goblins. Unfortunately goblins didn’t feel the need to feed their slaves much. Eleven Years Later…
Vernon Dursley looked up from his cell, emaciated, tired, and looking like he was in his eighties rather than his fifties. He was surprised to see an old scarecrow looking woman put in his cell. He was never given a woman companion, the goblins couldn’t stand him. It took him a moment to realize it was Petunia, he hadn’t seen her since that day he was put here and she looked horrible. She went towards him with tears in her eyes, but they couldn’t reach each other with the chains about their necks so they sat on the ground as close as they could to each other when goblin guards and a well dressed human couple came down the cell corridor. They were motioned to the Dursley’s cell.
The young man was in his mid twenties, he was handsome with a shock of unruly black hair and bright green eyes, glasses gone he looked like his father meaning he could only be Harry Potter. Petunia couldn’t help but stare at the young woman, the same age as Harry with long red hair that looked like Petunia’s sister Lily with a few variances.
“Hello Uncle Vernon, Aunt Petunia,” Harry said, his voice was deep and strong; he had grown up well and filled out. “This is my sister, Willow, my twin actually.”
Petunia could say nothing as she just started at Willow in shock. Willow looked concerned at the staring. “What do you want?” Vernon asked.
“In three months you will have endured the amount of time in here as I did living with you before I went to Hogwarts,” he told them. “To the country and the world, the Dursley’s died trying to escape custody from the police. Dudley ran away from living with Aunt Marge a few months after being with her and at the moment he works as a petrol attendant.”
“If you want, when the three months are up I will give you enough money, clothes and a place to stay for a month with new credentials and you can figure your lives out. Try to reclaim the Dursley name and you’ll find yourself in police custody,” Harry said.
“You ruined us boy,” Vernon told him.
“And you almost did to me,” Harry replied with an angry tone rising in his voice as Willow slid an arm about his waist, he was a bit taller than her and he calmed down. “Luckily I had people to get me free of you and those who wanted to control me.”
“And you,” Vernon said looking to Willow. “Are you one of them too?”
Willow smiled as she began to glow with pure magic. “Proudly. You should be glad Harry can be so kind,” she said and they noticed her accent was American with a bit of Irish brogue mixed in. “I saw the pictures of what he had to endure.” She hugged Harry tightly and he smiled and held her close. “I would have thrown away the key,” she informed them.
Harry kissed the top of her head. “No you wouldn’t.”
“Would so,” Willow said back in a huff.
Harry shook his head with a fond smile and looked to them. “The guards will come that day, you have the choice.”
They turned to leave when Petunia spoke up. “I’m sorry,” she got out. The two looked her way. “I---- I’m sorry.”
The two left and soon Petunia was taken to another place in the dungeons. Three months later Vernon saw her again. Time had come. Four guards along with an older gentleman came to their cell. They looked in fear to see the man claiming to be from Child Services there once again. They would never forget him. He looked a little older and had a scar on his face that only made him look more handsome, more deadly.
He cleaned his glasses as he looked to them. “As the damage was done to Mr. Potter, it was his choice if you should be freed. Personally, his mother and I disagree with him.” He put his glasses back on.
“His mother?” Petunia asked.
The man nodded. “The papers you signed eleven years ago were to the woman who soundly pummeled you and adopted him not much later to be the mother he needed. The other forms were breaking any legal ties between yourselves and Harry and Willow. Their parents were quite wealthy when they died.”
The cell door was opened. “I suggest you don’t mention your relation to Mr. Potter as his biography came out and anyone named Vernon and Petunia Dursley would be cursed on sight.” He handed over a folder of papers and money. “New clothes will be given to you after you shower. You will be left by a motel paid for up a month. Do not go looking for your son. Good riddance to you both and I hope your last thoughts are about how you should have treated your nephew well and how your lives would have been so much better.”
He was gone and it wasn’t much later for the first time in years Vernon was clean and in new clothes standing with Petunia outside a ratty looking motel. Their ID claimed them to be Mr. and Mrs. Cornelius and Dolores Crouch.
It took a year for them to get in shape enough to find Dudley. They watched their son, now in his late twenties, was severely overweight in a t-shirt and work shirt as he sat by a desk in the station office watching a small TV while eating a packet of crisps and not doing much of anything.
The two went into the small office area smiling at him. Dudley looked them over with a sneer. “What the fuck do you want?” he asked.
“Dudley,” Petunia said softly. “It’s mummy.”
Dudley looked them over with a scowl. “You got some kinda mental problem?” he asked standing up. “Fink it’s funny talkin’ like you me mum?” He was yelling now.
“Don’t you talk to her that way!” Vernon got out. “We spent eleven years in hell!”
“Well join the club, gramps!” he yelled back. “You ain’t my folks!”
“We gave you a computer for your fourteenth birthday, Dudders,” Petunia told him. “I made you lovely mince pies and chips for tea.”
“Took you to the zoo for your eleventh birthday with your freaky cousin,” Vernon replied.
“Harry Potter,” Dudley got out angrily.
There was a flash of light and two aurors apparated there to see them. “Obliviate!” one auror said pointing her wand at Dudley as the other auror apparated the other two out of the petrol station.
Dudley looked around for a moment as the other auror had left the same way wondering why he was standing there. “What the fuck,” he muttered as he went back to his chair while the bell for an attendant outside went ignored as usual.
Vernon and Petunia found themselves in a room with a table and chairs. It was all black and the walls were eerily smooth, there was a door but they had no chance to try it out as in came a pretty woman with plated brown hair and deep brown eyes. She held a file in her hands and she glanced over them a few times then sighed. “Better me than Harry I suppose,” she got out.
“You know him? Harry Potter?” Petunia asked.
“Where are we? What did you do with our son?” Vernon demanded.
“I do know him; you are in the Ministry of Magic in a holding room. Your son,” she answered them in order while looking to the file, “had all memory of you coming to him removed.”
“You can’t do this!” Vernon told her.
“You were released on the condition you didn’t contact your son or use your old names,” the woman replied. “It was in the papers you were given on release. I should know, I wrote them. I represent Mr. Harry Potter as his solicitor. You now have three choices before you,” she told them firmly and the Dursley’s were silent. They learned a little after eleven years of slavery. “One, you can return to the goblins for the remainder of your lives if you try to contact your son again. Two, you can be relocated somewhere else in the world on the compromise you will never contact your son again. Three, you can be obliviated as well and finish your lives with new identities.”
She looked to them as they watched her. “That means your memories removed. All of them, your entire lives,” she clarified for them.
“Just who do you think you are?” Vernon asked.
The woman smiled with a wicked gleam in her eye. “I’m Mrs. Harry Potter,” she replied. “I manage his and his sister Willow’s accounts and affairs as two of the wealthiest people in the wizarding and muggle world. Would you like to see pictures of our children?” she asked.
Cornelius Crouch woke up in Quebec, Canada feeling all of his sixty years. He looked to his wife Dolores of forty years still sleeping. She had been sick for years, sadly she had never been able to give them a family and she was too ill for them to adopt. He sighed as he got up, his had five years before retiring and he found his creaky old joints played havoc in the stormy weather there. He looked in the mirror. Was he getting fat? With a shake of his head he decided to go on a diet. -- End Interlude -- o.O.o.O.o.O.o.O.o.O.o Half an hour later, Diagon Alley…
The three teens were once again dazed as they followed behind Mrs. Lupin looking to the stores and shops so much older and ancient than the ones in California’s wizarding mall. She had shown them that most wizarding homes had a fireplace which meant a floo and soon enough, all four were in Diagon Alley. Willow wanted to floo to Hogwarts, but Mrs. Lupin told them that flooing there was highly restricted. So far the three teens had agreed privately that this private schooling was crap, it was like a prison in some ways. She fussed over Willow for a moment before they left the house magically changing her features to look more like Buffy and then they were off.
“I feel like I’m in Disneyland,” Willow whispered to her friends. “In a Charles Dickens kind of way, but with no rides.”
“Who’s Charles Dickens?” Xander asked and Willow shook her head.
They soon noticed that they were the only ones in muggle clothing and a few looked twice at the teens only to see they were with an elder witch in full witch robes and left them alone. They followed Mrs. Lupin until she stopped in front of a tea shop. Mrs. Lupin smiled as she handed them each a gold coin. “Don’t spend it all in one place and come back here in an hour,” she told them. She kissed their cheeks like a doting grandmother and headed inside.
They looked at the coins. “It’s that gallon stuff again,” Xander replied wiping grandma mouth off his face as he saw the wizard on one side and a dragon creature on the other of the coin. “How much is it worth?”
Willow and Buffy looked to each other and Buffy shrugged. “I guess we’ll find out.” She linked her arm in Willow’s and headed down one of the alleys with Xander following behind.
“You don’t think Jenny and Giles are going to kill us, do you?” Willow asked as they passed a place that sold things like rat tails and eel eyes it was called ‘Apothecary’, and the place looked creepy and old.
“Probably,” Buffy replied about the adults but grinned. “But godgrandma brought us, so not our fault.”
Xander nodded grinning as well. “And you have your powers with no big brother.”
Willow smiled at that. “Do we know it worked?” Buffy asked.
Willow nodded. “I feel – different.” She bit her bottom lip, looking to her friends. “Now that I’m thinking clearly, I think… I think it affected more than me.”
Buffy and Xander looked curiously her way and she fidgeted in their gaze. “Willow,” Buffy asked as she pulled them to the side of where shoppers passed by. “What else do you think this – affected?”
Willow shrugged looking anxious. “I’m not sure. Maybe-,” she started only to look away from them then glanced back. “Maybe Harry?”
“You’re not sure?” Buffy got out softly.
Willow gave a bigger shrug this time. “I’m not sure!” she exclaimed. “I-I – it just- just feels like it did!” Xander clapped his hand over his eyes. “And maybe someone else,” Willow admitted. Both friends looked concerned now.
“Willow,” Buffy whispered worriedly. “Who?”
Willow looked to anything but her friends. “I think- maybe my soulmate,” she murmured. The two looked her way and she shrugged softly as her face reddened. “Like Lorne said. I think it’s her.”
“Is she hot?” Xander asked and Buffy smacked his arm. “Ow, Buff!”
“So not the time right now! How would she know what she looks like anyway?” Buffy muttered to him. She focused on Willow. “Well, we can’t do anything about it. So we’ll just have to assume they’re with the good.”
The two surrounded Willow and with an arm each about her they headed further down the street. “I bet she’s hot,” Xander softly sang teasingly at Willow and both girls hit him that time. Muircross, Ireland…
It was mid-morning and the day was clear with soft clouds over the fields around the village. By the main house of Clan McClay, Tara rested her arms against the top of the stone wall behind it, watching the sheep and horses out in the fields. She had been home schooled for a while now and while it was nice that she was no longer around Professor Umbridge and many of the Slytherins, she missed Ginny and the other Hufflepuffs, even the older students, like Harry, Hermione and the twins.
She swallowed as she felt something different in her. Last night she had a wild dream of fire and darkness and people fighting, even creatures from her school books and horror films she had seen when she was in the muggle world. When she woke up she was-, she felt both lighter and something of importance resting on her. Thing was, she didn’t know what.
An arm wrapped around her shoulders and her mother Kathleen kissed the top of her head. “What we thinkin’ about?” Kathleen asked her softly. Tara shrugged slightly and Kathleen rubbed her back. “Maybe you can go to Hogwarts next year.”
“If Umbridge isn’t there,” Tara said knowing that her mother and grandmother did not like the toady witch.
Kathleen nodded. “I feel she will not,” she told her as she kissed her head once more. “Rory will be by soon to take you to school, are you ready?”
Tara nodded. School there was nothing like Hogwarts. The McClay’s, Flynn’s, and Lyons’ clans joined together and it was families that taught their children. Rory McClay taught dueling and defense while his wife Amelia taught both wizard and muggle studies being a muggleborn witch herself. Tara enjoyed it, she was accepted and the adults taught them to be the best they could, no grades and if they were lacking they brought in more of the clan to help. Her stuttering was almost gone.
She had wondered to herself sometimes if Harry wouldn’t do better in a place like this. She knew Dumbledore made him go back to his blood tie, but they hated him. They knew, her and Harry, enough through glances that both had been hurt and abused by ones that were supposed to love them.
Kathleen looked to her daughter still in some kind of thought and with a hug left her there. Tara closed her eyes as one of the horses came her way and she smiled as it nipped at her cheeks and nose.
“Tara!” she could hear her cousin River call out to her from the front of the house. “Da’s waitin’!”
Tara had just a small smile on her lips as she headed inside to get her book bag wondering what the day would bring. Back at Diagon Alley…
The Sunnydalian trio moved on further to see a travel agency called ‘Terrortours’. “Live in a haunted Transylvanian Castle with a guaranteed vampire host,” Willow read out loud to her friends from the advertisement in the window.
“Sounds like a vacation to Sunnyhell,” Xander replied. “And you wouldn’t have to hunt, they live there with you Buff,” he said to his friend. “You could stake them after tea.”
“There is the zombie trail,” Willow said pointing to the next line down. “Meet the undead and everything. No money back if you die or get hurt though.”
Buffy shook her head. “We should start one in Sunnydale,” Xander told them as they continued on their tour of the Alley. They found an Owl Emporium. A black one was on display in the window sleeping with its head under its wing.
“Says this one is 50 G, so G is probably a galleon. So fifty galleons for – an owl,” Willow told them. “They’re nifty, but why would you want one?”
The two friends shrugged and they all continued their tour. “No owls for us anyway, unless they’ll take regular money,” Xander replied. He smiled at one sign. “There we go!” he said and headed on in. The sign read, ‘Gambol & Japes joke items’.
“I hope he doesn’t forget what happened to him last time he tried a practical joke,” Buffy muttered as she followed him in dragging Willow along with her.
The two watched as Xander looked at everything, sort of like a crazed lunatic, the two girls just watched in awe as he giggled over weird things. “Look at this!” Xander said pulling some box of something off a shelf. “It makes a person vomit, you put this stuff in their drink-,” he was grinning. “We could have done this to Snyder!” he said seriously.
“Who and or what-,” a male voice said from the next aisle.
“-is a Snyder?” another almost same sounding voice asked.
The three looked up to see two redheaded guys with the exact same faces that were around their age looking their way over the top of the shelves, both sets of eyes drawn to the girls. Before they knew it the two were flanking Willow and Buffy, both of them a quite tall and smiling roguishly at the two.
“Hello,” said one by Willow. “I’m Fred. And this ugly git would be my brother George.”
“Ugly? I happen to be the handsome one,” George told them as he smiled at Buffy. “By chance would the two of you be twins?” he asked.
Willow and Buffy looked to each other. Willow did look a lot like her friend from Mrs. Lupin’s spell. “No?” Fred asked when they didn’t answer. “Sisters even?” He motioned to Xander. “A dashing beau-.”
“- a brother,” George continued. “Hopefully?”
“Sisters actually,” Buffy said playing along as she put her arm about Willow. “And Xander is our brother.”
“Americans!” the twins said together happily before they manfully shook a hand each of Xander’s who was warily looking at them. “So lucky you are good sir-,” George told him.
“-to be related to two lovely women,” Fred finished.
Xander smiled. “So I am, and in a brotherly fashion will kill you if either of them are in anyway hurt,” he warned them.
They grinned together. “Understood,” they told him together.
“However, our lovely sister Will---hemina here,” Xander said changing Willow’s name on the fly remembering his friend was wanted in this world. “Is interested in the ladies.”
The twins looked to them and Willow slightly raised her hand to see which one he was talking about as both girls gave Xander a look at the name ‘Wilhemina’. The twins each took one of Willow’s hands and kissed it then looked to Buffy who shook her head. “I’m not available right now,” she told them.
“But you do fancy men, yes?” George said.
Buffy nodded and they grinned. “And your name fair maiden?” Fred asked taking her left hand as George took her right.
“Buffy,” Buffy told them finding it odd and slightly amusing at all of this as Willow sidled up to Xander.
“Buffy,” George said rolling her name around on his tongue. “It has possibilities.”
Buffy slid her hands away from them. “Not available.”
Xander came up to them as Buffy looked uncomfortable. It hadn’t been THAT long since Angel and sending him to hell. “Tell me my good lads,” he said as the two young men looked his way. “What in here, can I get for this?” Xander held up a galleon.
Fred and George looked at it, then him curiously. “In here, this and that,” George said putting his arm around Xander’s shoulder as Fred came to the other side as they looked around to see where the shop keep was before they leaned in.
“We happen to be in the process of opening our own shop,” Fred whispered.
“Much like this establishment,” George continued. “How would you like to try some of our products?” He winked at Buffy. “A mere token for the brother of such lovely ladies.”
“We-, we do have regular money,” Willow told them.
“Muggle money?” Fred said moving the group out of the store as the shop keep came their way. He saw the money she was carrying was unlike British muggle money, it was all green.
“You muggleborn then?” George asked quietly.
“Um, no?” Willow said sort of as a question and the two looked at them more closely.
“There’s Gringotts up at the top of the alley, just before the Leaky Cauldron,” Fred told them. “They will change muggle money for wizarding.”
“We can show you the way,” George replied looking Buffy’s way raising an eyebrow, Buffy shook her head firmly.
“No thanks,” she told them. “Top of the block, got it.”
“Just-,” George started as he stopped them from leaving, “don’t go around saying you’re muggleborn. Times are dangerous and we wouldn’t want anything-.”
“-to happen to any of you,” Fred finished with a bow to Buffy. “Especially you, Lady Buffy.”
George followed; the bows were very courtly, from two court jesters. Xander and Willow were grinning as Buffy almost smiled. “Thanks,” she said grabbing her friend’s hands and pulled them down the alley away from the two strange English boys that actually made her feel warm inside since, well, Angel.
“Muggleborn and lovely,” Fred said as they watched them leave. “A different kind of witch.”
George nodded. “The game for Lady Buffy is afoot.” The two grinned and headed off to meet with the estate agent for a shop.
The banter had been light between the Californians as they headed down the alley. Mostly the two teasing Buffy gently. “You could have two, Buffy,” Xander was telling her. “Like stereo.”
Buffy shook her head. “I’m not ready. Not that they weren’t cute, but no.”
Willow and Xander looked to each other worriedly about their friend as they continued on until they reached the biggest building in the shopping area. They hadn’t seen it as they had come through the floo. The three stood in front of the oddest building they’d ever seen. It was all lopsided but appeared to stay upright.
Xander’s head naturally tilted as he started at it. “How is it standing?” he asked.
“Oddly,” Buffy commented honestly and the two nodded in agreement. They made it to the front doors only to stop at seeing non-human creatures apparently running the place. The place was creepy old to start with like the rest of the Alley, but down the two rows of service counters there were creatures, short like the house elves, but they had pale human toned skin but looked a sight nastier. The three teens instantly were on their guard. Willow and Xander flanking Buffy who was in the lead.
“Well, they aren’t killing, eating or sacrificing anyone,” Xander muttered under his breath. The three watched and the creatures, all of them, watched them in return.
“An axe would be good right now,” Buffy said under her breath. She felt her slayer sense tingle. Not like it was bad, but that if things went ugly, she was going to be in for the fight of her life. “Anything sharp,” she got out.
Two of the creatures came forward from the side where there were doors, probably offices. At this all of the humans watched in surprise. There was a bit of talk amongst them as the two creatures bowed to the teenagers. “You must come with us,” one said pointing to Buffy.
“Not for killing or maiming, right?” Xander asked. The two looked his way and he slid a little behind Buffy. Tiny they were compared to him, but so were piranha and they had the same kind of feel.
“We’re here to exchange money,” Willow got out nervously. “Not any trouble.”
They looked her way this time and she clasped Buffy’s hand as the creature replied. “All may come as clients, but it is our policy to do business with a champion in private.”
The three blinked at this and Buffy shrugged, she was surprised as well. “Me, you mean me?” she asked in surprise pointing to herself. He nodded and turned to walk back the way he came and the three stepped in line and followed him. “How come every time I go into a place people know I’m the Slayer?” she whispered to her friends. “Do I have a sign?”
“You’re just special,” Xander told her with a smile. “And people notice special.” The girls rolled their eyes at that.
“This is a magic area, they probably have wards up about customers,” Willow informed them.
“Sure, be logical,” Xander said with a pouty frown. “I think you’re special,” he whispered to Buffy. The--- creatures all looked at them like they were insane which in turn made the teens smile.
Once through the back doors they were led down to an office where an older creature was sitting at a desk.
He stood and bowed. “Champion, we have not seen one in many years,” the creature said. “Gringotts is always pleased to have one enter our doors.”
He motioned to the seats in front of the desk and the teens slid into them, Buffy in the center seat. “I am Gorthok, director of client services here,” he told her as he sat behind his desk again. “How may I help you today?”
Buffy looked pleased and stumped at the same time. “Totally new to Diagonal Alley,” she told him.
“Diagon,” Willow instantly corrected.
“What are you?” Xander asked totally mystified by now, knowing they weren’t going to kill or eat him he was curious.
The goblin looked him over then to Buffy again. “You don’t know of us? The goblin race?” Gorthok asked.
The three shook their heads. “Never heard of you,” Buffy replied, relaxing a little. “Sorry.”
Gorthok wrote something down on paper. “What is your calling Champion?” he asked.
Buffy made a face, trying to decide if she trusted him or not if he didn’t know exactly who she was. “That depends on if you have any dealings with the Watcher’s Council,” she told him.
Gorthok nodded as he noted something else on his paper. “The Shadowmen, no, we do not, Slayer,” he told her. It was silent as he looked up from his notes. “Demon blood we may have, but we are more of Fey descent as the generations of goblins have gone by,” he told them. “The Shadowmen would have you kill us. If you desire no association with them, then the Goblins are content.”
“Shadowmen?” Buffy asked looking to Willow who was the closest Encyclopedia she had.
Willow shook her head. “No idea,” she whispered.
“There was talk over the past few months of a rebel slayer,” Gorthok told them. “But there is one guarding the current Hellmouth.”
Buffy’s eyes went sad but determined. “Kendra’s replacement.”
Willow held her hand as Gorthok nodded solemnly, apparently the goblin’s actually valued champions. “We have desired to be cordial with the Shadowmen, but to them we are a species they have told the Slayer to destroy,” Gorthok replied.
Xander shrugged a little. “Are you evil?”
“No more evil than any human,” Gorthok told him.
“Undead? Going to turn the human race into vampires, demons, zombies? Destroy and or take over the world?” Xander asked all of these quickly to the goblin.
Gorthok looked at him more carefully now, no human child would normally ask such a thing. This boy was more than met to the eye. “No. While we are a fighting species we see honor, wealth and the chance for battle.”
He watched as Buffy watched him back, the eyes of a Champion and a predator one at that whose sole purpose it was to kill evil seemed to look into his soul, she seemed to understand that while they were not a passive race, they were not evil either, just different. Finally she nodded with a look that if they ever changed their minds about any of Xander’s questions, she would take issue with the goblins. Then in a blink her eyes changed back to just your ordinary young woman and Gorthok was impressed, this Slayer was not to be trifled with.
“Good enough for me,” Buffy told him. “Personally speaking, I’d be more than happy to have friends like you.”
Gorthok nodded at this seeing the three were now content in his presence, strange little human children. “You befriend a witch, one with muggle upbringing,” he told Buffy as he nodded to Willow. “You are born of muggles, young witch?” he asked Willow.
Willow shrugged. “I’m not sure, I- I was adopted.”
Gorthok made a displeased noise at that. Goblins did no such thing. “Do you know your lineage?”
“She knows who her parents are, but it seems like there’s some war with some evil man, a Molden-a-va-mort, or something like that,” Buffy told him.
“I know of whom you speak. The Ministry does not believe Voldemort has returned,” Gorthok told them seriously.
“He has,” Willow replied looking a little pale, remembering having lived through Harry’s time with him in the graveyard last year. “I saw him.”
Gorthok looked at her more acutely now. “The only one to truly claim this is a Hogwarts student. Harry Potter.”
Willow nodded. “He’s my brother.”
There was tense silence in the room for a long moment until Gorthok made some motion with his hand and said a few words they didn’t understand and the illusion spell was broken to reveal Willow’s true form. The three were impressed.
“So you’re a wizard too?” Willow asked and the goblin smiled a little.
“You were not raised in the wizarding world if you say that,” he told her. “Wizards look down all who are not of their kind. Even then on those who were not born into a family with many generations of witch and wizard. Goblins have their own magic, as do the house elves.”
Willow looked disappointed that her ‘world’ as it were, were bigots. “Lovely,” she muttered.
Gorthok continued on. “If you were of adult age the spell about you would have broken once you came through the bank’s wards,” Gorthok told them. “As a child, goblins do believe in protecting the young, even humans.” He looked closely at Willow. “You claim to be the sister to Mr. Potter, yet it is known he is an only child.”
Willow shrugged. “Everyone always has secrets,” she said.
Gorthok nodded solemnly. “So they do young witch, your name then.”
“Willow Rosenberg,” she told him.
“Willow Potter if it is official for this bank,” he said as he pressed a button on his desk and a young goblin came in and they spoke in a language the teens didn’t understand and the young goblin left only to return a moment later with an ornate box around the size of a small square shoe box. Setting it on the desk he bowed to his superior and left.
Gorthok motioned them closer as he opened the box. Inside was a small dagger that was so finely made Buffy wanted a closer look at it. Below it was a pure white stone tablet with a rune carved in to the center inlaid with gold and various colored gems.
“What is it?” Xander asked, all three teens were looking at it curiously.
“A progeny stone,” Gorthok told him. “It will trace back your blood ancestors.”
He took up the blade and motioned for Willow’s hand. She gave it and he lanced her thumb lightly pressing it to the rune. Instantly sparks of glowing magic laced and danced around the stone making the gems glow and the gold light up as a golden beam shot up above the stone into the air above it forming lines as names wrote themselves out drawing Willow’s pedigree in front of them. Here and there bright ones lit up and upward and out going back so many generations that it went until they couldn’t see the names anymore. Most of them on one side were pure white; on the other many were green, a few orange or black.
“What does that mean?” Willow asked as she got her hand back and she sucked the little bit of blood welling there off her thumb. There just above her name of Willow Lily Potter were James Charles Potter and Lily Evans Potter. She sat down hard in her chair. “It’s really them,” she said faintly. “I’m- I’m really a Potter.”
Her friends sat by her as they looked to the names.
“Those in white are mages, or as they call themselves now wizards and witches,” Gorthok told him as he tapped on one and it enlarged. “This is Sir Geoffrey Titus Potter, Knight of the Round Table and one of the first to start the wizarding world so that they were no longer tormented or slain by muggles,” he told her. He tapped on a green one in her mother’s line. “This is Madga Thiera, Grecian and a powerful Earth Witch.”
“But not wizarding?” Willow asked.
Gorthok smirked. “Earth Magic is how those called Fey and their descendants use magic,” he told them. “The wizards now, believe they are the only ones. Your mother’s line comes closer to our own and with it the ability to use a wand.”
Buffy motioned to Willow’s name and Gorthok tapped it. There it flashed white, green and black. Gorthok looked her way. “There is more to you than it seems, Miss Potter.”
Xander nodded sagely. “She’s a girl,” he told the goblin totally missing the point.
The two girls glared his way and for the first time Gorthok laughed.
The meeting didn’t last much longer. It seemed something made Gorthok upset. With her now added to the House of Potter registry, documents could be made known. Most of them sealed until she was of age, which was a few months away or unless a parent or guardian came in to take care of it. No, what made him upset was that her parents will was still sealed.
“I don’t understand,” Willow said following the mad goblin down a hallway, “why is this bad?”
“It should have been opened upon your parents’ death,” he stopped at a doorway and motioned for them to stay there. They looked inside before the door closed to see it was a warehouse sized room with aisles of drawers and papers and so on.
Willow leaned against the wall rubbing her forehead in pain. “Anything wrong Will?” Buffy asked.
Willow shook her head. “Just a headache---, wow,” she murmured as she found a seat and rested for a moment. She was doing a little better as Gorthok returned shortly with a stack of files and headed off down the hallway again.
“Never a dull moment with you Will,” Xander said as they tried to keep up with the goblin while watching over Willow as they brought her along.
Soon they found themselves in another office with an even older looking goblin and Gorthok and the old goblin were looking through the files talking in their strange language again. Gorthok looked Willow’s way. “We need both you and Mr. Potter here for the reading,” he told her. “Apparently Mr. Potter would have been enough.”
“I thought he was like one year old when your parents died,” Xander replied to Willow.
“In that event one of the following had to be present,” Gorthok told him. “Mr. Sirius Black, Mr. Remus Lupin, Mr. Peter Pettigrew, Miss Patricia Fewthistle, Miss Minerva McGonagall or Miss Olivia Trenton.
“We know two of them,” Willow said blinking back the pain in her head.
“Three,” Buffy informed her.
Willow nodded as she frowned at one of the names. “We know of a third one, but we never met him,” she amended.
“And he’s evil,” Xander finished. The two girls nodded in agreement at that. They had bets out on who would get their hands around the neck of Peter Pettigrew first.
“Regardless, you will need to bring Mr. Potter in,” Gorthok told her. Willow nodded and they stood, nothing more could be done until one of those people were brought in.
“So… can we get some wizard gold for greenbacks?” Xander asked as he held up a twenty dollar bill. The original reason they came in.
Gorthok nodded. “Of course.”
They left the bank close to eleven in the morning with pockets of wizarding money only to see Tonks scouting about and once spotting them she headed in their direction looking relieved. “Merlin!” she said as she took off her cloak and wrapped it around Willow to hide her features as she looked around to see if anyone spotted her since she now looked herself instead of Buffy’s twin. “Remus and Jenny are having a fit!” she whispered. “How did you get here?”
The group shrugged trying to think of what to tell her as Remus came marching along looking furious with his mother in tow. He looked at them and then hugged Willow to him tightly pale at the thought of losing Willow again.
“Crap,” Xander muttered under his breath knowing this wasn’t good. Same Time at Hogwarts...
Harry was exhausted but just couldn’t sleep the night before and he had his last exam in History of Magic. After three hours of sleep his head felt like a block of cement and he tried to go over Hermione’s three and half feet of notes but as he sat in the classroom to take the test he mostly stared at Parvati’s hair where she sat in the row in front of him. Part of him wishing he could just see into her mind and get the answers.
‘Think!’ he demanded of himself to do so he could get this done and not fail. His face buried in his hands as the sands of the exam hourglass trickled by and the scratch of quills on parchment filled his ears…
He walked along the corridors, dark and cool in the Department of Mysteries he found himself at the black door that opened for him and into the circular room with many doors… he found himself through the second door with the sounds of mechanical clicking – he had to hurry – running, jogging to the third door that swung open for him too. He was in the cathedral sized room with rows and rows of shelves all filled with glass spheres… he ran faster now, he had to get there – row ninety-seven he turned left and hurried down the aisle and there one glowed, and again another further down the aisle, he stopped to see a black shape crawling along the floor like a wounded animal in front of him.
“Take it,” Harry heard himself say, “and hand it to me… I cannot touch it, but you can.”
The sound of his voice chilled Harry, it was cold and void of any kindness. The black shape shifted and he saw a skeletal looking white hand on the end of his arm with a wand in his fingers. “Crucio!” he said and the figure writhed on the ground in intense pain. Harry felt himself laughing at this. “Lord Voldemort is waiting,” he told him and Harry realized just who’s eyes he was seeing this through.
The figure slowly stood up and Harry saw who it was for the first time. Sirius, his face was bloodstained and in pain. “You’ll have to kill me,” Sirius told him defiantly.
Harry felt himself smirk at this and behind Sirius Harry said saw a masked Death Eater pull a struggling Willow forward. He had memorized her face from before in his dreams. That and she was blurry looking like he just couldn’t see her clearly. But he was scared, did Voldemort really have her?
“You will fetch it for me Black, or she will suffer,” Harry told him. Willow already looked like she had been hurt many times and Black looked her way then back to Harry.
“Just leave her be and I’ll do it,” Sirius replied.
“Of course,” Harry told him. But they both knew that he wouldn’t. Harry felt a smirk again. He flicked his wand at Willow. “Crucio!”
Harry heard his sister scream as the spell hit her and somebody yelled and Harry awoke as he hit the ground holding his forehead, his scar on fire as the Great Hall erupted around him.
Harry woke up a bit later to find Hermione and Ron by him in the hospital wing.
“You gave us a fright, mate,” Ron told him.
Harry looked around to see that Madame Pomfrey wasn’t around right then. “It was Voldemort,” he said quietly. Ron winced at the name and Hermione made a face. “He has Sirius and Willow.”
Ron sat up at that while Hermione frowned. “How can you know that?” Hermione asked.
“I saw them!” he said angrily and Madame Pomfrey came out of her office and went about seeing to Harry and the pain, when she had left Harry saw that his two friends were looking thoughtful. Well, Hermione was, Ron looked confused.
“It could be a trap,” Hermione warned Harry. “V-Voldemort has manipulated things in the past.”
Harry frowned. “Not about this!” he told her. “I’m going to the Department before he can do anything else!”
Hermione shook her head. “At least get proof!”
“I don’t need it!” Harry told her glaring her way.
“Yes you do, if you go rushing in there like a fool and they aren’t there – it’s not smart Harry,” Hermione retorted back. He glared harder and she frowned. “You think I say this to make you mad?” she replied getting angry herself. “Think!”
Harry looked to Ron who shrugged. “I’d go after Ginny, you know it. But she’s got a point.” Hermione gave Ron a look of disbelief that he was siding with her and he blushed. “It’s just – how to find out,” Ron said. “Only place not watched around the clock is the Toad’s fireplace, and even then that’s a tricky one.”
Hermione and Harry were both looking at Ron in awe now. “What did you eat Ronald?” Hermione demanded to know. Ron squawked at that but Harry was looking curiously at him. They had tried a dozen things without Hermione knowing to get the knowledge for tests into their brains.
“Lee had this stuff – I think it was a little unicorn d-,” he started when Hermione held up her hand stopping him.
“Never mind!” she told him looking disgusted.
“Then we get to her fireplace and see if they’re there,” Harry told them. “If we can’t find them we go to the Department, agreed?”
Ron nodded and looked to Hermione who finally nodded, “Fine.”
Madame Pomfrey let Harry go and they made it to the Gryffindor common room where Harry had to find an explanation about it all but Neville and Ginny they were more honest with them.
“We’re going to need your help to get back into Umbridge’s office,” Harry told them after his news.
“How about around lunch time?” Neville said and Ron frowned at the thought of missing lunch.
Hermione nodded in approval. “She’ll be down there then, Luna can watch if she leaves and warn us with the DA medallion. Neville and Ginny can be lookouts.”
Harry thought about it an agreed. Same Time, Muircross, Ireland…
Tara McClay sat in class when her head started to throb a little. Jessa Lyons one of the girls her age motioned. “You okay?” she asked quietly.
Tara nodded as she winced. “Just a little ache,” she replied with a smile.
It was a few hours before she made it home and with a wave to her gran who was talking with a neighbor in the kitchen she made it to her room to drop onto her bed. It was then that she saw there was a note from Ginny on the Accordia that was companion to the one she had at home.
I know it’s the last part of school with tests and all, but today Harry has been off. The fifth year girls were telling me about Harry grabbing his head in pain before passing out.
He has visions as if he’s looking through you-know-who’s eyes. He saw his godfather and sister being tortured by them in the Department of Mysteries.
So, we’re going to find out at noon and see if Harry can get in touch with them. If not, we’re getting there- somehow – tonight probably.
I know, I was surprised to find out Harry has a sister, they kept it quiet, she’s the one who caused the stir up a while back, remember?
Tara sat back; her eyes went white as images flashed in front of her. A red headed girl with beautiful hazel eyes, in front of her was a glowing orb the size of a snitch, around them shelf upon shelf of glowing orbs. Tara reached out to touch it and so did the girl, their eyes caught each other and the girl smiled.
Tara blinked a few times then she smiled as she hurried to her wardrobe and pulled out warmer, nicer clothing and dressed. Tara knew deep down inside her that she needed to be with Ginny and Harry for this, every fiber of her being willed her to get ready only to look to her door when she was ready to leave and bit her lip worriedly. Her Gran and Mom would not let her go. Tara nodded to herself as she hurriedly wrote a note and put it on her bed before she climbed out her window and ran to the corrals and found her favorite horse, Eiowyn. She climbed on and the mare snorted at this as Tara threaded her fingers into the mare’s mane as the Aethonan spread her wings and galloped fast enough to lift off into the air.
“To Hogwarts,” Tara told her. “We have to help some friends.” She looked to the ocean between Ireland and Britain and held on tight, the Aethonan was very fast but it would still be a long flight. “And find a new one,” she finished. The girl with the flowing red hair in her vision led her on. Knockturn Alley…
A door opened at an inn for those keeping a low profile. An elderly man with wand at the ready looked the two waiting over.
“Don’t take no Were’s here,” he told them.
“We owled ahead,” a wizard told him, he was good looking and, if the voice was an indication, American.
The Were came into view and she looked pissed. “I’m from Wolfram and Hart,” she told him. “Call me a Were again and you’ll see the end of your pitiful life.”
The wizard swallowed. Most dark wizards who worked with the muggle world knew Wolfram and Hart. They were paying him a lot of money to ensure their privacy. The woman may be a muggle Were, which meant nothing to him, but that name opened doors. “Of course, Mrs.--,” he asked.
“MS.,” she growled out with loathing at the mistake. “Morgan.”
He nodded again and the two went in and the door closed. Lilah looked disgusted at the place as the wizard went to get them room keys, mostly to leave the two alone. “Any news on our little witch?” she asked the man.
He shook his head. “Disappeared into thin air. I’ll go to the Ministry and ask around when we’re done here.”
“And the Watcher’s Council? Any inquiries?” she asked as she removed her coat, she had a scarf around her neck hiding her scars.
“They’re still looking for the Slayer. As far as well can tell, they don’t know about the wizarding world,” he replied.
She smirked at that as her eyes glowed ferally. “Good,” she growled out. Watcher’s Council, London, England…
Quentin Travers looked to the four men who had the job of watching Rupert Giles after he was released from the building a few days ago, while they had a new Slayer by the name of Faith Lehane with her watcher now in Sunnydale. She was a bit rough around the edges, since she had not been found early on like Summers, but she wanted approval and love from an adult so she did as she was told.
Lehane had the fire and attitude of going rogue once she had the basic home, love and care. This Quentin would make sure that didn’t happen. Not after the problems with Summers and Rupert’s defection to stand with his Slayer and not the council. No, Lehane would have some heartaches in the near future just to keep her needy and pliable.
The Summers girl was a loose cannon, even from the start. She came from money, her parents loved her and she was raised and had the tenacity to think and do for herself. This Quentin did not like. Along with that her watcher was one who had the skill and darkness to have been the head of the Council’s wetworks division if his father hadn’t insisted on him being a proper watcher. The two of them were a danger to the council now. If the potentials, hell, if the younger Slayer knew of Summers’ rebellion to the council…
Quentin sighed as he leaned back in his chair, the four men watched him as they waited for orders. They had failed to keep Rupert in sight, and news had come in that Summers’ mother had packed a bag and left for England. Glancing at his calendar he knew she would be there today or tomorrow.
“Seeing as how you failed to keep Rupert in hand,” he finally spoke looking to the men. “The Slayer’s mother is due in to Heathrow where I assume she will meet with either Rupert or the Slayer or both.” He took up his gin and tonic for a sip. His eyebrows rose when he looked their way again. “Need I tell you what will happen if you fail to lose her or to find our rogue Slayer and Watcher?” he asked.
The four men shook their heads and left as he finished his drink in a large swallow and looked out the window into the forest of London buildings with the trailing of vehicles and humans alongside them. If only they knew what the Council did for them. If only one careless Slayer would just do her job and heed his orders. Summers was now one of the longest lived Slayers in the history of all Slayers. And from the looks of it, she would be the longest at the rate she was going and he’d be damned if she was while not under his thumb.
As much as he didn’t like it, she would be retrained or dead within the next month. He was eager to find out if another would be summoned if she did die and two Slayers would continue to exist. That would be a boon to his legacy as Head of the Council. He smiled slightly at that before turning to his paperwork. Lupin’s Cottage…
Sirius wandered out in the back woods behind the house in dog form after seeing the kids and adults off as they headed for Gringotts to see what the goblins were up to with his goddaughter, or niece, as Willow insisted he call her as it was easier. It was more like he had gained an extra two as Buffy and Xander called him Uncle Sirius. He snuffed at that. More like it was Uncle Siriusly. The three American teens teased him relentlessly and honestly, he had smiled and laughed more within the last few weeks then he had in the last fifteen years.
Now if only he could help Harry more he would be happy. He didn’t realize his mirror to Harry was left back at the house… Hogwarts…
Harry stared at the mirror in his bedroom as he waited for Sirius to answer. Ron, Hermione and Neville were watching as well. They were giving it one last try before resorting to going to Umbridge’s office.
“Maybe he doesn’t have it with him, mate,” Ron said quietly.
“Maybe Voldemort has him,” Harry replied restlessly. He looked to Hermione who honestly looked concerned before she nodded in agreement.
“We need to make sure, Harry,” she told him.
“All that’s left is calling through the floo,” Neville offered up looking at the time, it was almost lunchtime.
Hermione nodded at this. “Neville, you make sure Luna is in place then come as fast as you can,” she told him before looking to her two best friends. “Let’s do this then.”
They split up, Harry, Hermione, Ron and Ginny went to Umbridge’s office, with Ginny as lookout while Neville went to tell Luna then help Ginny out.
They made it there avoiding Filch and the inquisition squad. Hermione easily got the door open which made the others look her way curiously and she made a face at that and they went inside while Ginny found a spot to keep watch while not being suspicious.
Inside the three cringed at the colors and plates with cats on them. Harry went to the fireplace and threw some floo powder in. “Sirius Black!” he called out and put his head in. He saw a place that looked like an average wizarding English cottage home, not Grimmauld Place, that was for sure. What with it being all bright and sunny, and happy looking. He saw a house elf peer around a corner to look at him. The elves’ eyes went wide and disappeared. “Wait!” he called out. The eyes came back again, as if two ping pong balls were staring at him. “Where is Sirius Black? I need to find him!” he said.
“Not here!” the voice chimed back to him nervously. “Go away!”
Harry pulled his head out of the fireplace. “Who was that Harry?” Ron asked while keeping his eye on the creepy cat plates.
“House elf,” Harry replied as he looked to his friends. “Said he wasn’t there.”
“Ask if he’s been there in the last day,” Hermione replied.
Harry put his head back in since it was still green the elf eyes were gone. “Hello?” he called out. “When did he leave? Was he taken? Is it why no one’s here?” It was silent. “Please! He’s my godfather I need to see him!”
The eyes slowly came back. “Who is you?” the elf asked.
“Harry Potter,” Harry told the elf. “Please hurry, I can’t be caught here!”
The elf came out from hiding. “You be Harry?” the elf asked and when Harry nodded the elf smiled. “Mister Black left, all empty in house,” she said looking at him. “Cooking for children now. Mister Xander likes Sparkle’s cooking!” she said with a smile.
Harry nodded, he was sure he’d heard the name Xander but at the moment he was drawing a blank at it. “Did the Death Eaters take him?” he asked.
Sparkle went pale. “Take Master Xander?” she exclaimed with a horrified look on her face and popped out of sight.
“No! Wait!” he called out.
“I think you can wait a little longer,” came an unwanted voice from behind as he was pulled out of the fireplace to see Dolores Umbridge standing over him. “Now, who were you talking to?”
Harry grunted as he was roughly lifted up from his crouch on the floor by Filch. “No one,” he informed her as he saw Ron and Hermione being held captive by Malfoy and Crabbe, while Ginny and Neville were held by Parkinson and Zabini.
Bloody hell, could this get more messed up?
“You ain’t stickin’ your head in the floo to talk to no one,” Filch growled at him, shaking the teen a little by Harry’s shoulder.
“Quite,” Umbridge concluded. “Now tell me, or we’ll see how you do with a dose of veritaserum.”
“You can’t use that on a minor!” Hermione told her. “It’s illegal.”
Umbridge looked her way with a frown. “And you, mudblood that you are, we shall see who you’ve been cheating off of for your grades.”
Ron and Harry stilled as Hermione’s eyes flattened. “I haven’t needed to cheat,” she replied angrily. “Purebloods are too asinine to do well on tests.”
“Yes!” Ron said with a smile as Malfoy struggled with him. Hermione had talked back to a professor! He didn’t realize she was putting down his own blood status.
“You call me such things and yet you walk into my office where I’ve monitored any activity without thinking to look for it, not so smart,” Umbridge replied looking smug. “A cheat and a liar, I will expel you for this.”
Hermione shut up at that. To be kicked out of school was a fear of hers. “Now then Mr. Potter,” Umbridge said looking to the boy. “Let’s find out who is so important that you needed to break into my office to use the floo.”
Harry struggled in Filch’s grip as the man forced him towards a chair. “Just tell her Harry,” Hermione said as tears started to form in her eyes.
Umbridge’s smile got wider. “See now, just tell me and no harm will come to any of you.”
“I will not!” Harry replied glaring at Hermione as Ron looked to Hermione like she was insane. Ginny and Neville weren’t sure who to side with; Hermione’s emotions were jumping all over the place.
“You must!” Hermione said. “Tell her about Dumbledore!”
“Dumbledore?” Umbridge parroted as she stopped her hand in her desk drawer for something, most likely the potion to make Harry talk. Harry looked her way now.
“The Headmaster wanted Harry to come and meet him,” Hermione whined out sadly as she looked directly at Harry that he had seen many times ‘shut up and pay attention’.
It was then that Harry understood the brilliance of Hermione Granger even more. “Shut it, Hermione!” Harry retorted, playing along with his friend as the three others looked confused and a little shocked, Ron the most.
“No, no, now Miss Granger, you must know that Dumbledore is wanted by the Ministry,” Umbridge replied coming over to the girl motioning for Crabbe to release her.
“Dumbledore’s been planning an army of students to take over the Ministry,” Hermione told her looking fearfully at Harry. “It isn’t Harry’s fault, Headmistress.”
Harry shook his head looking angrily at Hermione. “You will ruin all of this Hermione! You traitor!”
Hermione’s eyes filled with tears. “It’s the Ministry, Harry! Dumbledore is mad!”
“Do you know where this meeting place is?” Umbridge asked looking very pleased. Hermione slowly nodded.
“I hate you Hermione!” Harry yelled at her thrashing away from Filch only to be caught by the man again before he could reach his friend.
“And you can take me there?” Umbridge asked.
“Not alone,” Hermione told her. “He wanted Harry to come.”
Umbridge nodded looking at the furious boy. “Then he will come and you will be my guide.” Back at Gringotts… again…
“If she had been anywhere but Gringotts I would be more worried,” Lupin told Jenny as they entered the bank an hour later after Tonks and Lupin had found them. He took his mother home and found Jenny after the children told them about their doings in the bank.
Jenny had an arm about Willow’s shoulders while Giles walked with Buffy and Xander as Tonks watched to make sure no one really noticed the group. The teens had informed them about Willow’s parents will.
“More importantly,” Remus said in a whisper. “They can help us with your papers you had signed this morning rather than having to deal with the ministry.”
Jenny look curiously at him as a surprised Gorthok was found again. He looked them over then showed them into his office once again. “You are the guardians?” he asked.
“I am,” Jenny told him. “Willow’s and now Harry’s, I want adoption papers to go through as quick as possible. I’m told you can help.”
He looked her way as Lupin cleared his throat. “I’ll sign what’s needed for this to happen,” Lupin told the goblin.
Gorthok now looked his way. “And you are?” he asked.
“Remus Lupin,” he replied. “I’m Willow’s godfather. Harry’s godfather has signed the forms for Miss Calendar to be his magical guardian as well. Harry will have to decide if he wants to be adopted by her.”
Gorthok glanced back at Jenny more curiously now. “And you are a witch?” he asked. Jenny shook her head and he shook his head in return. “You cannot be a magical guardian if you are not magical.”
“My birth name is Janna Kalderash,” she told him.
Gorthok looked at her more closely now. “A gypsy clan name.” She nodded slightly at this. He sighed and soon the young goblin was back with the progeny stone. “If we are to have you be the guardian and mother of two magical children then we must make sure no other in the wizarding world can claim you are not worthy of this.”
Jenny frowned. “Worthy?” she questioned.
“They’re bigots,” Willow informed her soon-to-be mother with a frown. “If you aren’t pureblood then you’re a nothing to them.”
Jenny frowned even more as Giles came forward. “Do you think it’s wise you stay in this world then, Willow?”
“We’ll take Harry with us then,” Willow replied. “I’m not leaving him.”
Tonks’ hair changed a shade. “Dumbledore wouldn’t be happy at that.”
“Just let him do the blood test,” Lupin told them quietly. They could see he wasn’t happy about any of this. Willow wrapped her arms about his neck as Gorthok lanced Jenny’s thumb and pressed it to the stone. It performed like it did for Willow but the names were mostly orange with greens and a few white or black names in the mix.
Gorthok nodded. “Very powerful. No one can question your magical heritage, Janna of Kalderash,” he told them as Jenny’s lineage was transposed onto a scroll. “You do realize that taking Miss Potter into your family she will be of the Kalderash line.”
Jenny sighed heavily at that. “But not beholden to them?”
Gorthok shook his head. “Not with the power seen in her or Mr. Potter, no.”
Jenny closed her eyes. “I’ll deal with it when it comes to that,” she said.
Willow looked worried. “Deal with what?” she asked.
Jenny glanced her way. “At the rate you’re growing in magical power – you’re most likely going to be the head of the Kalderash clan one day.”
Willow blinked at this. “I am?”
Jenny smiled. “Don’t worry about it. It’s my problem.”
Gorthok shook his head. “Would you like your full power restored?” he asked.
“Is she blocked?” Lupin asked looking content with his arm about Willow’s waist.
“Miss Potter? No,” Gorthok said. “She has yet to grow into her full abilities but she is not blocked. Janna of Kalderash, yes.”
Jenny sat up at that. “I’m what?” she got out.
Gorthok looked to the group then Jenny as he motioned for her to look at the progeny stone. “It did not fully power from your blood, which means you have some of your abilities blocked, most likely young enough that you never gained them.”
He smiled as Jenny swore in Romany for a minute or two impressed with her vicious language. The goblins enjoyed the Romany clans and their thirst for revenge. “Why would hers be blocked?” Willow asked.
“This is the problem with my clan,” Jenny told Willow, “And the reason I don’t want you beholden to them. You toe the line, do as you’re told and keep revenge and curses alive!” She swore again pacing around a little before she turned to the group. “I didn’t, I went off on my own when I was younger and my family made sure I wasn’t going to do anything too powerful.”
“Your family did this?” Tonks asked.
Jenny nodded. “Not all bigotry is held by wizards Dora,” she told her friend while looking to Gorthok and she took out her talisman. “This is what I use to do anything.”
Gorthok took it up and nodded to her as he felt the power. Surprisingly he held it out to Willow. “You have been trained in the ways of the fey?” he asked the young woman.
“Wiccan?” Willow asked taking the talisman. “Some, but---.” She touched it and her hands lit up a bright green, the clear purity of earth magic. “Wow,” she whispered.
Jenny watched with a small smile as Lupin and Tonks looked shocked at the power in Willow. Willow looked up to Jenny, her eyes were white. “I can see it,” she told her guardian. She reached out and touched Jenny with her fingertip and Jenny felt power rush into her. Gorthok took up the small dagger for the progeny stone and cut Willow’s hand lightly then Jenny’s and put the older woman’s hand on the talisman with Willow, the power in the room heightened to where everyone but Jenny and Willow had to look away, even Buffy.
Jenny gasped when she saw the ghostly visage a woman around her age, maybe a few years younger that looked quite a bit like Willow smile fondly at her and she knew, she knew in her soul this was Willow’s mother. Tears came to her eyes and she nodded. She would take Willow and Harry in since Lily Potter could not. With that the ghost was gone.
The spell broke and Jenny took Willow into her arms and Gorthok nodded. “The Wizengamot cannot break that.”
“With one of the guardians listed here would you like the will of your parents read?” Gorthok asked after Jenny and Willow collected themselves.
Willow shook her head. “Harry should be here too.”
It wasn’t long before they were headed for an apparition point where they could leave privately. “Is it me, or is it totally weird the bank can do all that?” Xander asked. “Why go through the ministry at all?”
“The goblins are separate from the Ministry, but they have financial power,” Tonks told him.
“Wizards may think they’re in charge,” Lupin told them, “but if Gringotts were to close up, the wizarding world would go into chaos. Do realize that the goblins took a hefty fee for doing all of that.”
“You got an older goblin,” Tonks told them when they made it to Lupin’s cottage, it was well after lunch time by then. “I’m still not sure why.”
“That would be Buffy’s doing,” Xander said as he was given food first by Sparkle and Sirius was able to hear what happened.
The adults looked to Buffy. “I’m called a Champion to them. They like us in hopes that we like them and no killing is involved.”
“It helped, a teller could do nothing as Gorthok did for you,” Remus replied.
“They called the Watchers Shadowmen,” Willow told them from where she sat by Jenny she felt a little awed that Jenny was now her adopted mother, Jenny looked a little overwhelmed but happy at the same time.
They looked to Giles who shrugged. “I’ve never heard of it before, I’m sorry to say.”
“Well, Willow has a new in-attendance mom, I have new dangerous demony looking friends, which is a nice change by the way, and Xander has lunch,” Buffy said looking to the adults as she settled back with drink in hand at the table. “What have you been up to?”
The adults all looked to each other. Forbidden Forest, a few hours later…
“As grateful as I am Hermione,” Harry muttered under his breath to his friend as they walked on a forced march through the forest. It had taken Umbridge some time to get the other three Gryffindors quiet, cancel classes and seclude everyone in their dorms, then make their way down to the edge of the forest. Umbridge was not giving anyone the opportunity to warn Dumbledore away.
“Quiet!” Umbridge called out from behind them. “Where are we going? Where is he?”
“Deeper in, he didn’t want to be spotted,” Hermione told her.
“Where are we going?” Harry whispered.
Hermione gave him a worried look and he realized this was a diversion to stall Umbridge. Hermione was going off of luck on this. However, the forest was not the safest place for anyone to be. They stumbled through the forest for a few more minutes, and Harry started to get worried. Umbridge’s wand was stuck in his back as the woman questioned Hermione non-stop. What were they going to do?
They made it into a small clearing; it was near where Hagrid had taken them to see Grawp. Heavens knew what the giant was up to, the three hadn’t been able to get away to see him after Hagrid was fired. Not like Hermione wanted to, just saying ‘Grawp’ made the brunette shudder.
“Where is he?” Umbridge demanded pushing Harry forward as she looked angrily at Hermione. “If this is a trick you will dearly wish it wasn’t!”
“He’s coming,” Hermione got out; the woman was scaring her a little. “It should be soon.”
“Two younglings and who is this?” a male voice said.
Umbridge turned to the sound of the voice with her wand raised to see three centaurs come out of the dark of the forest. She looked disgusted at them as Harry dragged Hermione out of the way when they saw six more centaurs come up behind them, one of them, the dreaded Bane. The centaurs let them pass and the two scrambled to hide in the trees and watch.
“Should we help?” Hermione whispered.
“Them or her?” Harry asked back. “We don’t have our wands, Hermione.”
Hermione sat back by him as they watched Umbridge actually make demands to the centaurs.
“By order of the Ministry, you will leave now!” she told them. “Filthy beasts that you are, leave or I will have your kind cast from the forest!”
“The Ministry,” one centaur said flatly as they circled her.
“I am Undersecretary to the Minister and I will have my orders obeyed!” she warned them.
Hermione and Harry looked up when they saw a few trees in the distance waver. Just a few. Hermione held onto Harry’s shirt as she moved back into the tiny copse of trees. “Harry,” Hermione whispered. Harry nodded, he had seen it.
Bane spoke up towards Umbridge now. “This is our forest, humans aren’t welcome here,” he growled at the woman.
Umbridge turned to look at him. “Human? I am no mere human, I am a witch!” she yelled at him. A few more trees closer to the argument swayed and there was a small tremor to the ground. The others didn’t notice as they were focused on their standoff, but Hermione was behind Harry now. “I’m here for Dumbledore and I will get rid of all of your kind from this forest!” Umbridge screamed as she looked around. “Where did those brats go?” she hissed out.
More trees moved and the head of Grawp could be seen at the tree tops. Hermione held onto Harry from behind him, her arms latched about him as she buried her head in his back but her intense brown eyes continued to watch the disaster forming. Scared as she was, Hermione was not a coward.
“Hagger?” Grawp got out and the group in the clearing saw him. The centaurs backed off knocking arrows in bows as the giant came out.
“What is the meaning of this?” Umbridge got out looking at him, her eyes wide in shock, hand to her chest but her wand pointed at the giant. “What kind of beast is living here now? Are you Ministry sanctioned?” she demanded to Grawp. “I think not as I would know!”
Grawp looked her way. “Hermy?” he asked as he reached for the only pink dressed thing there. Surprisingly Umbridge was faster than they thought and she dropped to the ground avoiding the hand.
Nine arrows went into the giant and he grunted at this as Umbridge stood up. “Reducto!” she said casting a spell at the giant. Grawp cried out as part of his left arm was torn into and he reached for her again. “Crucio!” Umbridge got out as she was bumped by a centaur. Her spell missed hitting one of the centaurs who went down screaming.
Umbridge wasn’t sure what happened after that as rearing hooves and grasping hands caught at her. Her wand was knocked from her hand but it was Grawp that caught her, lifting her up he looked at her. “Bad!” he said as he shook her a little and Umbridge looked ill at the violent movement. He looked down as the centaurs shot at him again, one of the arrows hit into Umbridge’s back and she cried out.
Harry and Hermione watched as a wounded Dolores Umbridge was carried off into the woods by Grawp. “We need to tell someone,” Hermione literally whispered into Harry’s ear from where she held onto him, watching from their hiding spot as the giant swatted at a few more centaurs as Umbridge screamed and then the two were alone.
“Who are we going to tell and not get blamed for it, Hermione?” Harry asked exhausted. “She sees you on the same level as them. Good riddance.” Hermione looked shocked and he sighed. “We need to find Sirius and Willow,” he told her. “I’m more concerned about them than her.”
Hermione looked back to the forest; the top range of Umbridge’s scream was all that could be heard now. “Do you think they’ll kill her?” she asked.
“Probably,” Harry replied as he stood both of them up. Hermione reluctantly let him go. They were covered in dirt, leaves and twigs.
Hermione’s brow was furrowed as she stood up by him. “How can you not care?” she asked softly.
“She’s made life a bloody nightmare,” Harry replied as he headed for the way out. He saw Hermione just stand there watching him even more confused. He grabbed her wrist and pulled her to join him, he didn’t want them stuck there when the centaurs came back looking for them. “We can be questioned for days in some Ministry room being accused of anything and everything for a woman that’s tortured me over the year, wants muggleborns out of the wizarding world, and hates Remus for who he is,” he looked her way as he said it. “And we both know it would be horrible. Or I can go and save my sister and my godfather.”
Hermione followed along behind him as she thought about it while he figured out how to get them out of the forest. When they came to the edge of the tree line Hermione came up alongside him. “We’re going to need a way to London,” she told him in her no-nonsense voice, she had decided, family was more important. “Filch and the Slytherins aren’t going to let us near Umbridge’s office to floo.”
Tears came to Harry’s eyes; brilliant, intense and a little scary Hermione was still at his side, he realized she always had been no matter how much they argued over something but right now, he was so tired, he wanted to sleep, yet he had a sister and godfather to save. “I’m sure we’ll find a way,” he replied.
She nodded at that as they hurried up the hillside to the school to see a beautiful white colored winged horse fly over the quidditch field to land nearby as Ron, Ginny, Neville and Luna came running from the castle towards them.
“Tara!” Ginny said happily as the blonde dismounted from her horse. The foursome looked like they had been in a fight and Harry and Hermione looked as if they’d been dragged through the dirt.
Ron handed the two back their wands. “Got them off of Malfoy, Nev got in a good hit.”
“Did I miss something?” Tara asked.
“Not yet,” Harry said coming forward as Hermione hugged Tara after Luna did. “We need to get to London.”
“You’ll all not fit on Eiowyn,” Tara told them stroking her Aethonan’s mane.
“How did you know to come?” Hermione asked.
“Ginny left me a note about school and Harry’s godfather and sister,” Tara replied. She looked to Harry. “You have a choice, Harry. Either way, something bad is going to happen.” To Be Continued…