Decisions and Discussions
Disclaimer: don't own any of this, except maybe for the plot and a few minor details here and there.
My thanks to everyone who reviewed and to my wonderful beta Lady_Sunflower.The Prophesy of the Four
- Decisions and Discussions
He wasn't really sure what he'd expected. Maybe a cold, rainy day and a dark, desolate-looking ruin of what was once a lovely little house in the countryside. So perhaps it was therefore logical that the quiet stone pillar in the centre of a small, but colourful, flower garden came as a bit of a shock.
Harry Potter looked up at the sky, at the happy sun, the lazy clouds and a sky so blue he was sure no artist could ever capture its precise hue. Then he looked back over his shoulder at his two best friends. Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger smiled at him encouragingly. He smiled back, silently thanking them for their support.
He took a deep breath and walked up to the pillar.
It seemed to grow out of the flowerbed. Idly, Harry noticed there were several different varieties of lilies planted at its base. The pillar itself was perfectly round and made of a marble so white it shone in the sunlight and forced Harry to squint as he looked upon it. On its top stood a lion, jaws open wide in a silent roar.
At eye-level, there was an inscription engraved in gold: They fought and died
so the world would be safe.
So that Good may triumph over Evil.
Tales of their courage, honour, loyalty and sacrifice
the noble lion roars to the world,
telling their story and of the defeat of
October 31, 1981
In much smaller print, a long list of names followed the main inscription. The first two were Lily and James Potter. Harry didn't look any further. He didn't need to. He didn't want to.
He reached out a hand and traced the names with his fingers.
"Hi mum, dad," he whispered. He paused. "Wow, I've dreamed of this moment, of being here for so long. . . but now that I'm actually here, I can't think of anything to say." He raked a hand through his hair. "I guess I miss you. I-I miss not having known you. Everyone tells me you were wonderful people and I wish I could've met you at least once. I would have liked to have grown up with you. And Sirius. I don't think Sirius's name is on this thing, but it should be. He's dead, you know. But then he's probably with you, wherever you are. Which means you probably also know that Dumbledore's dead too. I can't believe he's gone. Do you think it's bad that I find it even more incredible than Sirius's death? He-he just seemed to be immortal, like nothing could touch him. But it did."
Harry wiped away the tears that were starting to blind him. He chuckled dryly.
"I've pictured coming here, to see this place so many times and I always thought I would fall apart and cry because you're gone. And here I am crying for others."
And so the words continued to flow as the champion of the Wizarding World rambled in front of the memorial that was his parent's grave. He mentioned school, his friends, his frustration at being called The Chosen One, and his annoyance at the ministry and Daily Prophet.
Finally, the words stopped and Harry just stood there, staring at the golden letters on white marble. Then he looked down at the flowers. They swayed slightly in the breeze.
Harry smiled and thought how appropriate the relatively simple memorial was. He wondered if Dumbledore had anything to do with it. Looking back to his parent's names, he brought the fingers of his right hand to his lips and kissed them. Then he traced the names one last time.
"I should go, my friends are waiting for me," he said. "I love you."
His hand dropped to his side and he walked away to where Ron and Hermione were waiting for him.
The two of them were sitting on a large rock and having a whispered conversation between themselves. Hermione was the first to see him. She jumped up with a smile.
"Harry, how'd it go?" she asked immediately.
Harry looked back at the pillar. The lion on top was much more visible from the distance. He smiled and then turned back to her.
"I think it went well," he said softly. "I'm glad I came."
"That's good mate," Ron said.
"So, what are you going to do now?" Hermione asked as the group turned to walk away to where their portkey was waiting for them.
"What do you mean what is he going to do now?!" Ron exclaimed. "Now he's going over to the Burrow so he can help us get ready for Bill's wedding!"
Hermione rolled her eyes.
"I mean apart from the wedding," she said. Harry chuckled.
"I'll have to talk to Professor McGonagall, but I think I'd like to go to Hogwarts for a while. . . to look through Professor Dumbledore's stuff," Harry said. "He's been doing research about Voldemort for years. Maybe he had other leads he didn't tell me about."
"I think that's a good idea Harry," Hermione agreed. "Plus, access to the Hogwarts library will be very good to have when we need to do research of our own."
Harry stopped short.
"Well, of course 'we'," the bushy-haired girl didn't even bother to stop walking. Ron turned his head to look back at Harry.
"You thought we weren't serious when we told you we were coming with you?" he smirked over his shoulder as he continued walking with Hermione.
Harry grinned. He had been terrified of having to search for Horocruxes on his own. Truth be told, he hadn't even known where to start.
He ran to catch up with his friends.
"Thanks guys," he said.
"Well here it is," Hermione announced, picking up a half-deflated basketball. The boys put their hands on it and they waited for it to activate.
Dawn took another sip of her coke as she looked at her watch for the fifth time in the last 10 minutes. She groaned. Then her eyes once more swept around the now all-too-familiar ground floor of Heathrow Airport’s Terminal One. For a minute she considered going back and perusing the shops again, but the thought alone was enough to make her feel exhausted. There was a Cosmopolitan magazine sticking out of the corner of her large green purse, its corners twisted and bent back from being unceremoniously stuffed inside after Dawn finished reading it.
She remembered arriving in London last week and thinking how nice Heathrow looked. Nothing spectacular, but it was neat and clean. The shops had some interesting, if overpriced, items.
However, all airports lost their charms after you've sat in them for two hours.
Dawn sighed and looked up at the arrivals board. The plane was due to arrive in 10 minutes. She silently prayed the time didn't get changed again; twice was more than enough in her opinion. She glanced at the bench by the window, where Lori was sleeping soundly, feeling envious of the woman's ability to fall asleep wherever she happened to be.
Dawn wasn't quite sure how Giles had managed to dig up the woman, but after a week of research, she was glad he had. Lori Stravinsky was slightly older than Giles and, if it was possible, even more of a bookworm. Unlike Giles, her knowledge of demonology was somewhat limited, but she easily surpassed the Head of the Watcher's Council in mythology. And she actually did speak Mandarin. Neither of the watchers were particularly open about Lori's past, but from what Dawn had managed to piece together, Lori had trained as a watcher but then left the Council in her mid-twenties to get married and have children. She was now divorced, but the only thing Dawn knew about that, was that it was fairly recent. Which could explain why she was willing to leave her comfortable job as professor of mythology at some French university in order to help build a new Watcher's Council.
Dawn looked back at her watch. Five minutes to go. She walked over to Lori and gently shook her. Nothing happened. Then Lori began to stir and yawned loudly as she brought a hand to her face and rubbed her eyes.
"What is it Dawn?" she asked sleepily. She stretched, her back arching off the bench. "Is the plane here yet."
"Not quite, but almost," Dawn answered. "Unless they decide to change it again at the very last minute."
"How much time do we have left?"
"A couple of minutes."
"Oh, we're safe then." Lori stood up and straightened her denim jacket. "I'll just go get us a trolley, it'll help wake me up. You stay here and watch for Faith."
She watched Lori walk off towards the trolley stands, her shoulder-length blond hair swaying from side to side. Dawn shook her head and smiled. Sometimes it seemed like the woman had unlimited energy, which made her ability to sleep anywhere even more impressive. She was tall and skinny, but didn't look frail. On the contrary, her eyes shone with excitement even after spending hours digging through the dusty old tomes in the library. And she could swing a sword with the best of them.
Dawn remembered how two days ago she had described Lori in an e-mail to Buffy as a cross between a strict, university professor, a kind old lady and a kung fu fighter. Attention ladies and gentlement, British Airways flight D603 from New York, regular arrival time 14: 25, has just arrived at Gate E.
"About damn time," Dawn mumbled under her breath.
Lori arrived back with a trolley and the two of them anxiously watched the crowdsfor signs of the dark-haired slayer. Sure enough, about 20 minutes later they saw Faith weave her way through the crowd, a gorgeous Latino man with long hair and an elaborate crucifix around his neck watching her with hungry eyes as she flirted with him.
Dawn rolled her eyes. Trust Faith to manage to hook up with someone on a cramped plane. Faith meanwhile flicked her hair back, briefly exposing the bare flesh of her neck. While the action may have looked accidental, Dawn knew it was anything but. It was calculated and completely intentional. Wearing tight black jeans and a low-cut dark blue tank top, Faith walked with an air of confidence that spoke of strength and danger.
Like she knew she was the sexiest thing walking off that plane.
"Let me guess, the one who looks like she came into town for a shag?" Lori whispered into Dawn's ear. Dawn's eyes widened before she grinned.
"Yup, that's our Faith," she said. Then she waved at Faith as the dark slayer made eye contact. Faith grinned widely and waved back. She gave the Latino guy a quick peck on the cheek and walked off towards Dawn and Lori without looking back.
"Yo D, good to see yah again," Faith said. She looked at Lori, then back at Dawn, eyebrow raised in question.
"Hey Faith," Dawn said and then gestured to the woman beside her. "This is Lori, she's our newest watcher. Lori, Faith."
"Hello Faith," Lori said, extending her hand. "I've heard a lot about you. You're quite the legend."
"Hey, I've stopped killing people, but if my rep stops people from messin' with me, then it's all good." She paused for a moment. "Well, except for the demons, 'cause yo, there's nothing better to blow off steam than sockin' it to a couple of nasties."
"I guess that's why you're a slayer," she said.
"So, do you have a lot of stuff?" Dawn asked.
"Nah, just one bag. I had to leave most of my stuff behind, what with this whole post 9/11 security shit. What's the world comin' to when a girl can't even take her favourite sword with her?"
"And by sword you mean personal arsenal, right?"
Faith's grinned at Dawn.
"Well, Rupert had mentioned something about the old Council owning several private jets. . ." Lori began thoughtfully.
"Private jets?" Dawn asked.
"I kinda like the sound of that."
"Ok, now about that luggage. . ."
A little while later, the three of them were making their way across the Heathrow parking lot towards the Council's Mercedes.
The car was a memory of the old Watcher's Council. As it turned out, Caleb had blown up the main building of the organization's headquarters, but the council had owned some smaller buildings all over London, mostly on the outskirts. Among the buildings that had survived were several warehouses, a small housing unit that included a hospital and detention area in the basement, and a garage. Not all of the cars were expensive luxury cars, however, in fact most of them were quite plain. And, surprisingly enough, the Mercedes was the only black car.
"Woah, if the council had money to blow on shit like this, then why was I living in a dingy motel room when I first came to Sunnydale?" Faith asked.
"Yeah, Giles says one of the most annoying and exciting things about putting the Watcher's Council back together is digging up all the resources the old one had," Dawn commented.
"Just wait 'till you see the new headquarters," Lori said happily. "Then you'll really wishing you could get your hands on Quentin Travers. Or more specifically Jonathan Edwards, who used to oversee the Council's finances."
Faith chuckled. At the moment, life was too good for her to worry about the idiots who had tried to have her killed more than once. She ran her hand over the smooth surface of the car, she'd never been inside a car that looked so clean and shiny before.
Lori unlocked the doors. Faith closed her eyes for a moment as a warm breeze blew through her hair. She frowned.
She opened her eyes and looked around. There was nothing out of the ordinary. In the distance she could see dark clouds littering the sky.
She looked around again, straining her slayer senses to take in every single detail of the scene before her. Of all people, Faith knew she wasn't at all well traveled and that most of her limited travel experience consisted of hitchhiking or hiding in the backs of trucks, but this just seemed wrong. Airports were supposed to be full of happy reunions between family or friends, excitement at arriving somewhere unknown and unexplored, or at the very least pleasure of finally being able to stretch your legs after being confined to a small space for several hours.
But she didn't see any of that here. People were hunched down, as if carrying an invisible burden on their shoulders. Their expressions held shadows and few smiles.
"Yeah, what?" Faith looked over to Dawn. The tall brunette looked slightly concerned.
"That's the third time I've called you, is something wrong?"
"I-I'm not sure, really. . . do you notice anything strange around here?"
Dawn's eyes widened.
"Strange, as in demonic strangeness?"
"I'm not really sure D, but there's somethin' odd about this place. I mean, everyone looks like they're chronically depressed or somethin'."
"Huh. Well, maybe it’s contagious, ‘cause Giles has been down in the dumps lately too. But that just might be him being British in his natural environment. A lot of the people I’ve talked to here have been grumpy and rude. I remember I got a headache after I got here, but Xander’s had no problem."
"Hm. It almost feels kinda familiar. Like. . . " Faith's eyes widened as she shot a glance to Dawn. ". . .like Sunnydale. But not. 'Cause people in Sunnydale looked more. . . normal, if that's possible." Faith frowned.
Dawn shook her head.
"No, it can't be like Sunnydale. There's no hellmouth here, Giles checked."
"Not to mention that the Watcher's Council has been here for over 500 years and they would've noticed if there was a hellmouth in this city," Lori interrupted them. "Now, if you two wouldn't mind getting in the car, I do believe we have a prophesy to research."
"Prophesy?" Faith asked. "Huh? When did this happen?"
"Last week," Dawn answered as they all got into the car. "I found it while I was going through a random book in the library."
"Yo, I thought you were here on vacation; what were you doin' looking through books?"
"I just-I. . . oh, nevermind. Anyway, it's really weird and not even Giles has had any luck figuring out what it means. Except that there's going to be a battle of some sort that could result in the end of the world."
"Great! I mean about the whole battle part, not the end of the world part."
Dawn rolled her eyes.
He watched the girl place the tray carefully on the table. Her dark, wavy hair was tied back in a pony-tail that ended just below her shoulders. She didn't look up as she poured out the tea into bone china cups. The whole set was one of many Malfoy family heirlooms; this particular one was gold-plated with small, green snakes slithering around on it. She poured a bit of cream into one of the cups and handed it to him.
Lucius accepted the cup and took a small sip. Perfect, just the right amount of cream. He was truly amazed at how well the girl had adapted to being a domestic servant and he really had no choice but to admit the Dark Lord could be absolutely brilliant sometimes. And yes, she was definitely nicer to look at than the house elves. Too bad she was a muggle. . .
Lucius smirked to himself. Maybe she wasn’t
He looked to his companion as the man took an offered cup of tea, no cream, no sugar. Severus Snape had only arrived at the manor with Draco last night. This was his first glimpse of the strange girl he had undoubtedly heard of from the others in the manor. His eyes were lowered and he appeared to be looking at his tea. Lucius, however, had known Severus for long enough to know his friend was actually watching the girl’s every move out of the corner of his eye.
"Is there anything else you wish, my Lord?" Angela asked with a slight bow. Her eyes were lowered in a gesture of subservience.
"No, that will be all for now," he dismissed her with a wave. She nodded and left the room, silently closing the door behind her.
Lucius turned his attention to Severus, who was looking at him with a raised eyebrow.
"So that was the mysterious Angela?" he finally asked. "She does not appear the least bit interesting."
"Aaah, but Severus, appearances can often be deceiving," Lucius drawled back. Severus's eyes narrowed, as if trying to interpret just how the comment had been meant.
"Indeed, they can be."
"Besides, the Dark Lord thinks she merits further observation."
"So I've heard. She could be a spy."
Lucius snorted. "If she is, then I don't know what use she'd be to anyone; she doesn't even know who she is. And if she is a spy, all the more reason to keep her, unravel her secrets. . ."
"You mean figure out how she can fight the cruciatis."
"Of course. If Dumbledore's people have figured that out, then we need to know. Not that I think they have. . . You know, I'm not sure she's from England at all. Her accent is all wrong."
"She looks a bit like your sister-in-law, only more sane."
Lucius sent Severus a glare, warning him not to continue that train of thought. At least not out loud.
"Speaking of my family, how's my son?"
"Draco is doing just fine, for the moment. He is nervous, of course, but seems to have calmed down considerably since the events at the school. Narcissa is with him at the moment, I believe."
Lucius scowled and set his empty teacup on the mahogany side table next to his armchair.
"Yes, events at the school. . . I've heard about that particular disaster. That disgusting fleabag Greyback was quite vocal about it."
"Disaster? Draco accomplished his mission, I'd hardly call that a-"
"He was supposed to kill Dumbledore! But then he let his nerves and emotions get the better of him. You had to kill the old man for him!" Lucius's left hand was clenched in a tight fist.
"He did manage to get the death eaters into Hogwarts and many thought that would be an impossible task."
"He should not have needed the death eaters! He was supposed to have taken care of it himself!"
Severus Snape said nothing. He merely finished his tea and set the cup down on the table next to Lucius's discarded one. Then he sat back in the black, leather armchair, folding his arms across his chest and watched Lucius for a moment.
A few moments later, his deep baritone reverberated in the room.
"Perhaps, the boy has inherited much more from Narcissa than we previously thought," he said.
Lucius shot him a venomous glare.
Two flights up and in the opposite wing of the castle, in a bedroom that was at least twice the size of most people's living room, a boy and his mother sat on top of a large, oak canopy bed. At the moment, they were talking; the tearful, happy reunion full of tight embraces and gentle, reassuring touches had long passed. Their words were nothing important, the tale of events at Hogwarts had already been told.
They were talking about quidditch. Lady Malfoy loved the game, it was her enthusiasm for the game and not her husband's that had kindled Draco's passion for it. Being on the run for a month, meant that Draco had missed several games of the World Quidditch Cup. Narcissa was in the middle of a particularly engaging retelling of the game between Bulgaria and France.
". . . then Krum zooms right past the French keeper, which of course breaks his concentration and at the exact same moment, Slezsky zooms in with the quaffle and scores!" Narcissa said, her son hanging on every word.
"Wow, what a brilliant move!" Draco said in awe. Narcissa nodded with a smile.
"Anyway, then France's seeker sees the snitch. . ."
Both jumped as the bedroom door banged open. A figure in black robes walked into the room, red eyes immediately finding the two figures sitting on top of green silk sheets. Behind him, two death eaters loomed menacingly.
Narcissa was the first of the two to react. With the fluid grace of a true lady, the fair-skinned woman got off the bed and took a few steps away from it. Using her left hand to slightly lift up part of her robes, she curtsied, her head bowed.
"My Lord," she said.
Draco's eyes widened slightly at the sight of the Dark Lord. He followed his mother's example and hopped off the bed, getting down on one knee as he knelt before the most powerful dark wizard in the world.
"My Lord," he said, sounding much calmer than he felt.
"Young Mister Malfoy, I had heard you were back," the Dark Lord said in a low voice that washed Draco in a tide of dread. He couldn't quite mask the shiver that ran through his body when he heard it. He didn't dare look up.
"Please escort Lady Malfoy to the sitting room where her husband is having tea."
Draco's eyes snapped at the order and watched as the two death eaters walked up to his mother. She looked over at her son and gave him an encouraging half-smile. Unfortunately, it didn't quite hide the alarm in her eyes.
During the time it took her to straighten up to her full height, the concerned mother was gone and Lady Malfoy had taken her place. She shot both masked men a hard look, as if daring them to touch her. Then she led the way out of the room.
Draco watched her go, barely restraining himself from jumping up and running after them.
"Oh don't worry, she won't be harmed," the Dark Lord chuckled. "If I had wanted to hurt her I would've done so here, where you could watch."
A sense of relief washed over Draco, even as he shivered at the Dark Lord's statement.
"Thank you, my Lord," he whispered.
"Rise, Draco Malfoy."
Slowly, Draco got to his feet, his eyes looking steadfastly at the floor. He took a deep breath and brought himself proudly to full height. With the mantra "I am a Malfoy" running through his head, he looked the Dark Lord in the eye without flinching.
The red-eyed wizard chuckled, but there was very little amusement in his eyes. He took a few steps towards Draco.
"I heard the mission was accomplished," he began. "I have also heard it was not accomplished by you."
For the first time in his life, Draco knew the meaning of the phrase "his blood ran cold". He could feel himself begin to sweat.
"My Lord, I-I. . "
"Silence! I do care about your excuses." Draco's mouth snapped shut. The Dark Lord smirked. "You had the old man defenceless and at your mercy, yet Severus Snape had to kill him for you. That is unacceptable!"
He paused. Draco had never realized how loud complete silence could be. He wished he could stop trembling. Finally, the Dark Lord continued.
"However, I would be lying if I said your method for getting my death eaters into Hogwarts was anything short of ingenious." Draco breathed a sigh of relief. Then he heard a dry chuckle. "Yes, you should be relieved. Your brilliant scheme is the only reason I've decided to keep you alive."
Another pause. Draco's eyes widened when he noticed a wand suddenly appear in the Dark Lord's hand.
"Next time, be sure to follow my instructions to the letter. Crucio."
Harry didn't think he'd ever seen anything more beautiful than Ginny in bridesmaid's robes. Dark teal fabric swirling around her ankles as the breeze lifted it up went beautifully with her fair skin and long, red hair that was held up with little, pink rosebuds and teal ribbon. And then she looked at him and smiled such a sweet smile, that he almost missed the sadness in her eyes. Almost.
Bill and Fleur got married at the Burrow. In the same space usually used for impromptu quidditch matches, sat several rows of wooden chairs, divided in half by an aisle wide enough for two people to walk through. Gold-coloured bowls filled with flowers were suspended above their heads, like the candles in the Great Hall during a Sorting ceremony. On the left hand side of the area were two long tables side by side. A four-tiered wedding cake stood surrounded by red roses in the middle of the one closest to the altar.
Harry had never been to a wedding before, but he found the whole experience magical. Bill clasped Fleur's hand and looked deeply into her eyes. Fleur smiled up at him. They didn't seem to notice the people they stood in front of, lost in the world they saw in each other's eyes. Silence surrounded them, until Bill finally spoke.
"Fleur Delacour, you are the most wonderful creature I have ever met. You are the sunshine of my days and the star of my night. I, William Arthur Weasley, pledge to love and honour you for the rest of my natural life."
"Bill Weasley, I knew you were special from the moment I saw you at the Triwizard Tournament. But only in my dreams did I ever think you would actually be the man to steal my heart. I, Fleur Delacour, pledge to love and honour you for the rest of my natural life."
There was a slight pause and then Bill looked up and nodded to his brother, Charlie, who was standing to the side. Charlie smiled and took his wand out, moving towards the couple. He placed the tip of his wand on their entwined hands.
"I, Charles Alexander Weasley, hereby witness your pledges and wish you love and happiness for the rest of your natural lives. May you prove faithful to your bond."
Then Charlie whispered an incantation Harry didn't catch. Almost instantly a brilliant white ribbon of light emerged from the tip of his wand and wound itself around Bill and Fleur's clasped hands. It encased their hands in a cocoon of light, which was almost blinding even in the daylight. Slowly, the light seemed to dim as it merged with their bodies. Fleur and Bill closed their eyes, identically content smiles gracing their features.
Then the light was gone and the newly weds opened their eyes and looked at each other once again. Charlie removed his wand and stepped back. Bill brought his other hand up to caress Fleur's cheek before leaning in to kiss her.
The silence was shattered by applause, a few wolf whistles and shouting. Instantly, the couple was surrounded by their families. Harry didn't join them, but thoughtfully watched Ginny from afar as she hugged Bill as if her life depended on it and then somewhat reluctantly hugged her new sister-in-law.
The wedding reception was anything but a quiet, subdued affair. In fact boisterous would be a rather accurate description. Not many people showed up, fear keeping most of them at home where they felt slightly safer. But everyone who attended was immediately caught up in the Weasley-style celebrations. Soon they found themselves talking animatedly, dancing, or laughing as the person next to them at the buffet happened to bite into a canary cream and then spent the next 10 minutes trying to spy the Weasley Twins from the air.
The jovial, seemingly carefree atmosphere was due entirely to Molly Weasley, who was determined that her first-born's wedding would not be ruined by "some daft war". At some point in time during the party, Harry came across Remus accusing her of putting a cheering potion in the punch. Mrs. Weasley never got the chance to answer him, because just then Tonks grabbed the werewolf and with a quick apology, spirited him away to the dance floor.
Most of the key members of the Order of the Phoenix had shown up, along with Fleur's family (who were vastly outnumbered by Bill's family) and a few old schoolmates of both.
It was well past midnight, when Harry excused himself from his friends to search for Professor McGonagall. He found her sitting on the Weasley's back porch, looking up at the stars.
"Professor McGonagall?" he asked as way of announcing himself. The new headmistress turned her head slightly to take a look at him.
"Mr. Potter, what brings you out here?" she asked.
"I was looking for you, Professor."
"It would seem that you have successfully found me. Now what?" There was a hint of amusement in the headmistress's voice.
"Um.. . well, I was rather. . . uh. . . wondering if it would be possible for myself, Ron and Hermione to spend the rest of the summer at Hogwarts. Before Professor Dumbledore d-before he fell, h-he thought he had figured out a way to defeat Voldemort. Or at least had an idea of how to go about it. But well, I don't really know where to start and I was thinking that maybe if I could take a look through his stuff I might find something."
"Does this "idea" have anything to do with why the two of you were out that night?"
"Er, well, yes it does."
"Are you going to tell me what it is?"
A pregnant pause followed her question during which Harry tried to figure out just how to say what he had to in the most polite way possible. In the end he settled for the direct approach.
"I'm sorry, professor, but Professor Dumbledore didn't want me to tell the Order and, although I don't quite understand why, I'm sure he had his reasons for it. Perhaps when I've had a chance to look at his notes, I'll understand why."
"Yes, Albus always did have his own little schemes going on that he refused to tell anyone about. Little wonder he always got along so well with Alastor Moody."
Harry held his breath as he waited for her response. A cool breeze ruffled his hair, blowing strands into his face. He brushed it back with a sweaty hand. Then his former head of house stood up and walked down the steps to where he was standing.
"Very well Harry, " she said. "You and your friends may stay at Hogwarts during the summer holidays." Harry grinned widely. "Under three conditions: one, members of the Order will check in on you at regular intervals, two, you will respect school property even though your teachers are not present and three, you promise not to do anything daft such as running off to face You-Know-Who on your own."
Harry nodded and refrained from mentioning how it was usually Voldemort who found him and not the other way around.
"Yes professor, I promise."
The Transfigurations professor smiled at him fondly.
"Regardless of what Dumbledore told you, do remember that we're on your side. If you need help with anything, if you get in over your heads, owl us. You aren't the only one fighting this war you know."
Harry returned her smile. "Yes, I know professor. Thank you, we will keep that in mind."
"Good. We'll discuss the particulars with Molly in the- Misters Weasley! What do you think you're doing to that punch?!!"
Harry turned and looked to the buffet table, where Fred and George were frozen over the punchbowl, looking like a pair of innocent deer caught in very bright headlights. Unfortunately for them, the unstopped vial one of them was holding above the punchbowl took away any semblance of innocence.
It took exactly 30 seconds for Molly Weasley to assess the situation, become red in the face, somehow appear behind them and grab both hooligans by the ear.
Everyone who had spent part of the wedding reception as a canary rubbed their hands with glee.
Please let me know what you thought of that! All comments are appreciated.
Oh, and before anyone asks (although I know someone will anyway, lol), Lori is an OC. I will introducing a few of those throughout this fic. Some will be more important, some less. Each of them has a purpose to the storyline, even if it's mundane and can't be removed without damaging what I'm trying to create here. However, having said that, none of them are the focus of the story. Just thought I'd mention all this, 'cause apparently a few people got a bit scared with the amount of focus Angela got in the last chapter. Lol.