Paul Kemp overhears a conversation, Harry, Hermione and the sprogs go visit Gramama. If this were Star Trek, Paul would be wearing a red shirt. Sorry buddy. . .
To say Paul Kemp was startled by the arrival of the purple triple-deck bus would be a gross understatement. He nearly fell over when the Knight Bus appeared with a loud bang like the sound of an old car backfiring through a stadium amplifier. The strangest thing was that no one else on the busy pedestrian path seemed to notice.
"Bloody hell, will you look at that!" he said to no one in particular.
A sound like a shotgun firing both barrels and the bus was gone, but five people had appeared in front of the Weasley's flat, and again, no one seemed to notice.
"H-hello, Mrs. Weasley." He managed to stammer out.
"Oh, hello, Mr. Kemp, may I introduce Mr. Harry Potter, an old friend of the family and his sons, James and Albus."
The dark haired fellow looked to Kemp like an athlete, or perhaps a soldier, he was very fit and had a firm but not overbearing handshake.
"Pleasure, and where is Mr. Weasley today?"
Hermione looked down for a moment. Harry stepped forward and said, in low tones, "Mr. Weasley died just over two months ago."
"Oh. I am sorry, so very sorry, for your loss. He was always such a likable chap, I mean, never too busy for a kind word. I'm sorry, truly."
"Thank you, Mr. Kemp."
"I know we don't really know each other, I mean, we've been neighbors for years, but if there's anything I can do to help, please don't hesitate to call me, I'm right over there." He said, pointing to the door of his flat on the other side of the street.
"That's very kind, thank you again, Mr. Kemp."
"Paul, please, if you would, just Paul."
"And I'm Hermione."
"What a lovely and unusual name. Hermione it is then. Sorry, must be off, the old grindstone, y'know?"
"He seems a likable fellow, must work from home." Harry said as Paul crossed the street to his own door.
"Nice enough, we've just never seen much of each other, he works for an accounting firm, I believe.
"He's right, too, about not really knowing anyone here. I've lived in this flat for eight years and I don't know anyone other than the postman, the grocer and the librarian."
"What about other parents at the play park?"
"This is Kensington, parents don't take their children to the park - the au pairs do."
"Well, lets get you unpacked, then we can take our brood to the play park, after all that sun and surf and salt air, a proper English afternoon, complete with mist and chill, is just what the doctor ordered."
"Can't. We promised Arthur and Molly that we'd deliver their grands for tea."
"Even better, a chance to feed chickens and toss garden gnomes."
She started to pull her wheeled luggage but Harry deftly relieved her of the trunk, as well as her duffle and still managed to get the door open for her to enter.
As they entered a soft bell rang three times.
Hermione put a worried hand on Harry's arm, "That's the intruder alarm, Harry. Someone is or has been in our flat."
Harry opened the door and said, "Kids, why don't you go with Mummy to the play park? I'll be along in half a tic, then we can go to Gramama and Grampy's, okay?"
Hermione nodded and shooed the kids out the door, "Be careful, Harry."
He grinned, pulling his wand and affixing his brassard to the light jacket he wore. "Always."
Once Hermione and the children were well away from the flat, Harry began a standard scan for magical intruders.
Placing his holly and phoenix feather wand on the open palm of his left hand he intoned, "Azimuth, zero, ninety. Three-sixty."
A perfect half-sphere grew from his palm outward. Any magical being would show up as a bright spot within the hemisphere. He was careful to filter out his own magical signature.
He repeated the incantation, this time concentrating on anything with a heart, magical or mundane.
Nothing. Well, apparently there were small rodents, probably mice, in the walls.
"Damn." He said to the empty foyer,"I'll have to go room by room."
Fifteen minutes later he found Hermione on one end of the teeter-totter, while all three of their children were on the other.
"Anything?" she asked.
"Not a thing. Apparently, someone who'd had too much to drink entered by your garden door, sat at the kitchen table, and then went to sleep, on at least two separate occasions, perhaps more."
Hermione looked flabbergasted, "How did you deduce all that, Sherlock?"
"Elementary, my dear Miz Watson." He smiled at the thought, "Wouldn't it be great if your name were Watson? Then we could be the great detective and his faithful friend Watson, a team destined for greatness."
"Watson was my mother's maiden name. Granger-Weasley will do for now, and you're evading the question."
"Footprints and scuff marks in the garden and on the lino of your kitchen floor. And the smell of spirits on your kitchen table where your intruder drooled as he slept - the drool was in two locations one smelled of gin, the other of whiskey.
"Nothing appears to have been stolen; it may have been someone who just had too much to drink and got confused, twice. I'd check with the other neighbors who share your garden to see if they saw anything, or I can do that later, if you like?"
"No, I'll just charm the door with a colloportus, that'll keep the strays out."
They both knew Harry wouldn't trust her security to a door-locking spell, but, for convenience sake, they both pretended otherwise.
"Well, then, to tea?"
"Come along, Potter-Granger-Weaslies!"
Harry checked the street left and right, then raised his wand and, with a bang, the Knight Bus appeared again.
"Ottery St. Catchpole, Ernie, and don't spare the horses."
Paul heard the double-shotgun blast sound and looked out his window just in time to see Hermione and her friend and the children board the same precarious-looking, purple triple-decker. A few seconds later, a screech, followed by another bang and the bus jumped out of existence.
With trembling hands, he poured agenerous portion of scotch, some of which actually landed in the glass, and put the drink to his lips.
"N-no!" he managed to stutter, "Bloody meds. This'll make me even crazier with the prescriptions I'm on."
Paul put the glass down and picked up his phone, then punched the number that he'd written down the week before.
"Yes, Doctor Prince, please."
"Thank you for seeing me on such short notice, Doctor, but I've just had an episode, and I need to talk to you."
"Tell me what happened today."
Paul described his morning, how he'd blacked out again, then found himself on the footpath outside his flat and seen the apparition, the odd, purple bus, not once but twice.
"Perhaps I've had a reaction to the haloperidol?"
Doctor Prince looked deep in thought, "Will you wait here for just a few minutes, Mr. Kemp? I need to confer with acolleague."
The doctor left his clipboard on his stool and exited in what Paul thought was a bit of a rush, not even closing the door all the way.
He stood to stretch his legs and saw the notes Dr. Prince had been making.
Muggle, no previous experience with magic.
Saw the Knight Bus appear and disappear - twice.
The words "Knight Bus" were underlined; the word twice was underscored twice.
Kemp heard two voices that sounded like an argument. He stuck his head out of the examining room and, seeing it empty, followed the sound of the voices.
He came to a stop in front of the door that indicated Dr. Herman Prince.
The voices inside were practically shouting. So he didn't even need to put his ear up to the door.
"But if he sees the Knight Bus, he has to be magical."
"Or he's been touched by magic, a hex or a curse, perhaps."
"Tell him everything, worse comes to worse, we can always obliviate him."
Kemp was down the hall and out the door like a shot.
Someone had just said they were going to obliterate him.
Harry and Hermione led their children off the Knight Bus in the middle of Ottery St. Catchpole and decided to take astroll through town before floo-calling Arthur and Molly.
"Hungry at all?" Harry asked.
Hermione smiled, "Famished."
"You know, of course, Gramama Weasley will have food on the stove when we get there."
"True, but she won't have chips."
"How about you lot?" she asked the children.
"Chips!" they all sang, bouncing on the balls of their feet.
"Chips it is!"
They found the comfortable pub that every British village is required to maintain and managed a table near the window.
"Lost, mate?" an older patron asked as Harry sat.
"Sorry?" Harry asked.
"Well, anytime we see folk here that we don't know we just assume they're traveling and got lost."
Harry laughed, "No, we're here on purpose, the Weasleys, Arthur and Molly, are our in-laws."
"Oh, yus, the "Ginger League," as we calls em'. Nice folk, keep to themselves, but nice folk. Names McCartney, John McCartney, and b'fore you ask, no. No relation. Folks round here call me Old John, cause Young John, over there runs the bar."
Harry extended his hand, "Harry Potter, and this is Hermione Weasley, and these are our children, James, Albus and Rose."
The old man looked at Jimmy and Rosie, "I can see the Weasley hair, there, eh?"
Both Harry and Hermione smiled and nodded.
Old John's bright expression fell, "Oh, I'm sorry, you must be the young husband and wife, oh, I didn't remember, the whole village attended the memorial service, I should a remembered. . ."
Harry smiled kindly, "It's alright, John, as you say, you just forgot."
Hermione smiled wistfully.
"Join me in a pint?" Old John asked.
"Just one, we're off to the Grandmum's after this."
"None for me, thank you." Hermione reminded Harry.
"Rosie, Jimmy, Albie, what would you like?"
Hermione winced at the mention of the sugary fizzy drink but grudgingly allowed it.
Two pints, a cuppa, and three flask like bottles of Orangina arrived a few minutes later and they all toasted, "Missing friends, never gone from our hearts, never, never to be forgotten!"
Then a large crock of chips became the communal serving for the Granger-Weasley-Potters and their new friend, Old John.
The blended family decided it was a nice enough day to walk to the Burrow, and, as a bonus, it would give them a chance to walk off the sugar and starch.
Rose rode on Harry's shoulders, making her the "tallerist" person in the group, Albus alternated between walking on his own and begging a 'carry' from Mummy Mynee when his little legs got tired.
The three children had fun, each trying to out-do the other belching the fizzy out of their systems.
"That's not polite to do in front of alady." Hermione chided James, who had just scored a spectacular belch for afour-year-old.
Four disbelieving heads snapped to see little Rosie, her fingertips on her lips, daintily say, "S'cuse me."
Laughter was their walking companion all the way to the Burrow.
Molly looked better than she had in months, the color had returned to her cheeks and she'd put on a little weight, not too much, just a bit of 'padding for comfort'. Arthur was tinkering in the broom shed, something about 'tram-sisters' or what all.
He came out when he heard the commotion of three grand-kids and Molly's "Whoop!"
"What is it, dear?" Arthur said, catching his breath, having run to the house.
Tears streaming down both cheeks, Molly happily announced, "Our daughter is expecting!"
"That is good news!"
Hermione beamed, "I'm just past four months, and showing already. Remember what I was like with Rosie? I'll be big as a house in two more months."
"Do we know if it's a little witch or wizard?"
"Yes. I did the revealo myself, she's a little witch."
Arthur beamed, "Rosie Posie will have alittle sister, then. Thought of a name?"
"Well, I wanted to ask you if you thought "Emma Ginevra" would be okay? Emma for my mother and Ginevra for. . ."
Both Harry and Hermione waited for the reaction - each expected Molly to burst into tears.
She simply smiled a happy little smile and said, "Oh! That sounds lovely, dear."
Paul ran home in a panic, his brain working furiously through possibilities, each less likely than the last, is it paranoia if someone actually is out to get you? The NHS had his home address, perhaps he could call on his friends from work? No, they'd be watched too, even Lisa. Were they all part of the conspiracy?
Magic? Magic must be a code word for some over the top secret ministry of defense something or other.
Were his meds responsible for this seeming-crazy paranoia? Now there was a double edged sword.
If the meds were making him see and hear crazy things, then the doctors were making him crazy, but if he stopped taking the meds it could get worse.
God I need a drink.
Can't have a drink, not with the meds.
He'd heard his doctor, clearly, well not exactly clearly, he'd said "Obliverate, obliviate, obliterate?"
Whatever he said, it didn't sound like something he wanted to have done to him.
He got home in time to see someone at his door, the postman. Paul approached the oft-seen civil servant suspiciously - was he in on the plot as well?
"Hullo Mister Kemp, glad I caught you; you need to sign for this."
Paul mumbled his thanks and scribbled his signature on the plasma pad.
"Here you go, Mister Kemp, g'day to you now."
"Uh, same to you, Mister, um," he checked the postman's name tag, "Barrowman, same to you."
The distraught man ran to his bedroom, and started throwing essentials into a large case.
As he reached up into the top shelf of his closet a thick red ribbon fell on his arm, entangling it. Paul tried to untangle it but found it wound tighter than he'd thought.
"Bloody hell, I don't even know where I'm going and now I'm wound in a bleedin' Yule wrapping?"
He pulled hard and the ribbon wound tighter, then began to sting, then burn.
Paul could only watch, horrified as more ribbons dropped from the ceiling of his closet to capture his other arm.
His panic faded, he became giddy, then laughed out loud.
I hated doing that to Paul, he wasn't abad guy, but his death will provide the essential clue to solving the mystery. Any guesses as to who's behind the attack of the killer brains?