Ginny and crew present their lightsabers, Harry and Hermione get married, Rita gets her story, Dudley learns something, Dumbledore orders Amelia's murder, the Jedi face their first battle, Voldemo...
On the morning of the twenty eighth of April, Ginny led a group of proud students into Harry’s office.
Each of them placed their training lightsabers onto the desk and one by one, presented their newly made weapons. By unspoken consensus, Ginny was first. Her blade was a shimmering violet. The grip was another improvement to Harry’s basic design. While it held the same overall dimensions as Hermione’s, it seemed more…slender…elegant. It was light and speedy…perfectly suited to the girl who held it. As with most units now being produced, the coil assembly was inside a shroud. Ginny’s was unique in that forward of that shroud, it flared slightly and then tapered into a cone, until about an inch from the emitter end, where it straightened again. Inside he could see the emitter head and the wound coils of the-contra rotating field generators, but there was no wasted space. All three switches were located on the shield, and were of the ‘momentary on’ slide type that Hermione had pioneered.
The grip itself had deeper insets for, Harry presumed, a better hold in battle.
“Well done, Ginny!” He complemented the lithe redhead. “Very well done!”
Angelina, Alicia and Katie all preferred Hermione’s version, though each had personalized their units. Angelina’s blade was a golden color, as she’d used a deep brown topaz as her focusing crystal. Katie’s blade was sapphire, though not as deep a blue as Hermione’s, and Alicia preferred a deep emerald blade.
Orla, another slightly built girl, held a grip identical to Ginny’s, but her stone was peridot producing a golden green blade.
Padma opted for a copy of Tonks’ design, though in a pale blue, having a sapphire blade, saying she liked the organic feel of it. She allowed that Parvati was planning to use the same grip. From the blush on her face, Harry suspected there was another reason, but wisely decided to let that particular dragon alone.
Anika and Anna both stuck with basically the original design, though with several improvements that made Harry’s eyebrows lift with appreciation, such as a shrouded front end and a narrower gripping surface. Their smaller hands would have less difficulty in holding the weapons this way. He complemented each and every one of them on their choices, and where it was warranted, design modifications, before grinning evilly.
“All right! To save time, I’m going to ask a few of our friends to help test your blades.” With that, the door opened and in walked, Hermione, Remus, Neville, Mack, Dobby, Tonks and Luna…each wearing an equally evil grin.
On the first of May, Luna woke weeping. Her vision had returned. Her future self had spoken to her again telling her she would know great sorrow and great happiness. It would be soon.
Ron woke and asked her what was wrong. She passed it off as a bad dream and began to dress for their morning workout.
Later that day she would begin to make her preparations. Brewing the potion would take time and diligence. Fortunately, Twiggy was a capable elf. She would help when Luna couldn’t tend to the twenty-eight day brewing cycle.
Hermione woke up in the happiest mood she’d seen since the morning of her first trip to Hogwarts. Today, she was getting married!
After some discussion, they’d decided that Beltane would be the best time. It was, after all, a celebration of the renewal of life.
Unfortunately, that meant they’d had only two weeks to get ready. That had nearly given Judith a heart attack!
Harry had had to call in ‘The Ladies’ to arrange the bonding so quickly. Happily, they had friends in many places and they called in favors freely. A Druid priestess from Southern Wales agreed to perform the bonding and Amelia and Augusta were the official witnesses.
When Judith had recovered from her panic attack, the mundane details of the wedding were all tended to quite well. Hermione chose the simple white robes of tradition and Madam Malkin arrived an hour later to create the robes for the wedding party. Within days the details of location, ambiance and celebration were complete. Dobby and Winky turned to at full speed, to arrange food drink and accommodations should they become necessary. The castle was cleaned top bottom and more than one student was chided in those two weeks, for tracking in mud.
After breakfast, Harry flooed to Rita’s house. “Hello, Minuard.” Harry greeted the emotionless bodyguard. Rocheleau nodded his head in greeting, and poured out a second cup of tea for his guest. Rita was safely at work where the wards would alert Harry of any attack.
He sat and sipped the tea.
“Your time here is almost over. By the end of June this will be done with.”
Minuard sighed in relief. “Thank you, Lord Potter. I was beginning to desperately wish for a flyswatter.”
Harry chuckled. He’d felt the same way many times since Hermione’d discovered Rita’s secret.
“I know what you mean. Still, you’ve done a bang-up job keeping her in line.”
Rocheleau grinned and cracked his knuckles. “It’s a gift.”
Harry laughed outright.
“I reckon your commanding officer will be happy to have you back.”
“Yeah, but he understands that until this is over, I’m on detached duty.”
Even after all this time, Harry couldn’t pry the secret out of Carolyn. How had she managed to get one of the top operatives in the SBS to play bodyguard? He suspected she had an in with the Queen, but only a suspicion.
Changing the subject, he said: “I’d like to invite you to my wedding this afternoon.”
“Oh. Erm…Lord Potter…” Rocheleau actually seemed nervous. “I try to avoid weddings. Bad luck, y’know.”
“Oh yeah. Didn’t you know? If a bachelor attends a wedding, he’s doomed to be married within a year.” He smirked.
Harry caught it, but he pretended to be confused. “Oh.” He mused. “Didn’t know that. OK.”
Then, he shrugged. “I’m gonna need Rita there to spread the word, but I can arrange her security in the castle.” At Minuard’s lifted eyebrow, he added: “I’ll assign three of my best to her with instructions to slice off her wings should she get too…curious.”
Again, Rocheleau smiled his frightening smile.
Rita was sitting at her desk thinking of ways to further discredit her primary target, but Dumbledore hadn’t been seen since he was escorted, under guard, from Hogwarts. That had been a good day for her, a very good day indeed! Now her attention was diverted as her benefactor and least favorite person walked into her office.
“Hello, Rita.” Harry greeted the noisome reporter. “I have an assignment for you.” Rita looked at Harry, and was about to spread the cheer when he said: “I’m giving you a portkey to an unknown destination. You will remain in your human form for the entire time you are there. I will have three people guarding you with instructions to kill you if you even attempt to take your animagus form. Two of them will be female, so you will have no privacy when you visit the loo. I’d suggest you go before you take the portkey. You will report on the events there, but not a word on any of my students or guests or what they’re doing, is that clear?”
“What goes on there is too important to the effort. Either you agree, or I leave your sorry arse here and have Anita Scrivener do the story. Which will it be?”
Rita hated this. Anita was her primary competition at The Prophet. It would just kill her to give the other woman a story, but Harry had bound her hands with that thrice-bedamned contract, and she knew that the second he gave the word, Amelia Bones would have every Auror in Britain and on the continent, looking for her.
She sighed in surrender.
Harry grinned and handed her an envelope, saying: “Dress formal.” and left the room. A loud pop from outside told her he’d apparated away.
Swearing, she slit open the envelope…to find the mother-lode! It was an invitation to attend the wedding of the century!
YOU ARE CORDIALLY INVITED
TO ATTEND THE BONDING
LORD HARRISON JAMES POTTER, LORD GRYFFINDOR
LADY HERMIONE JANE GRANGER,
AT FOUR OF THE CLOCK POSTMERIDIAN
ON THURSDAY, THE FIRST OF MAY
IN THIS, THE YEAR ONE THOUSAND NINE HUNDRED NINETY SEVEN.
Rita almost wet herself thinking that she’d been invited to witness this particular marriage. She could resell this story a hundred times!
She rushed to Euwings’ office and told her editor the good news. He promised to make space available for the next morning’s edition.
Done that, she dashed from the building and down the lane to Twillfit and Tattings for a suitable set of dress robes. Her hurry prompted Mister Tatting to ask why and that led to the revelation of the impending wedding of The Boy Who Lived.
Rita left the shop with her new robes, and within minutes of her departure, the word was out all up and down the alley.
Narcissa had been shopping in disguise when she heard the news. Quickly gathering her purchases, she left the shop and headed to the alley’s apparation point.
Ten minutes later she knelt before her master.
“My lord.” She stammered. “I heard in Diagon Alley that Harry Potter is getting married today!”
“Indeed?” Voldemort smiled a reptilian smile and drank from his little brown bottle. “Well, then, we must arrange for…entertainment!”
The Death Eaters arranged around them laughed darkly.
“Where, pray tell, will the blessed event take place?”
That brought Narcissa up short. She didn’t know. More, she’d brought incomplete information to her master. She grimaced and prepared for pain.
“I do not know, master. All I heard was that he was marrying the mudblood.”
Instantly Voldemort’s visage changed from mildly benign, to that of a wrathful god!
“You - do - not - know.” He mocked. “You don’t know, and yet you have disturbed my contemplation.”
“Crucio!” Narcissa fell shrieking to the parquet as Voldemort negligently held his wand, playing the sickly beam over her spasming form.
Draco wanted nothing more than to rescue his mother from the master’s temper, but he dared not move, for fear of attracting the dark lord’s attentions.
Lucius held onto his heir’s shoulder in a bone-breaking grip. He knew what was in his son’s mind and truth be told, he would have liked to assist, but in the grand scheme of things, she was only a woman, after all…and of little importance. If his wife died at the hands of the master, well, he could always buy another.
Minutes passed, until Voldemort grew bored. He lifted the curse and allowed Narcissa to slump to the floor.
“A lesson!” He barked. “I want complete information, not snippets.”
He paced for a minute before musing: “Speaking of snippets…Where is Severus?”
Returning to his unconscious victim, he tore open her sleeve, thought of his spy and pressed his wand to her dark mark. Even unconscious, Narcissa spasmed in agony.
Hundreds of miles away, Severus hissed in pain, as felt the burn in his mark. He stood and began to don the black robes of the Death Eaters.
Albus looked at his spy with angry eyes.
“The dark lord calls.” With that he left the small house and as soon as he was outside the wards, apparated to Little Hangleton.
Dumbledore turned to make himself some tea when an expensive envelope appeared in the air above the table. He whirled, wand in hand, at the slight noise it made as it fell.
Scanning the package, he found no traps, portkeys or curses.
He sat and sipped his tea before opening the envelope.
What he read made him so furious, he threw the cup against the wall. Unsatisfied, he followed the cup with the pot, the saucer, the plates, other cups and finally most of the breakables in the house.
In Little Hangleton, Snape donned his white mask and entered the manor’s wards. He felt the inquiry to his dark mark, and walked on. Had be been unmarked, he would have died on the spot.
The dark lord was not as trusting as the old muggle loving fool.
Severus knelt before his master.
“My lord, you have summoned me.”
“Yes, Severus. I have. It has recently come to my attention, that the Potter spawn was marrying today. Why, pray tell, have I not been informed before now?”
Snape knew he was in trouble. Potter was out of his control, but that was no matter to the dark lord. He would find fault even where none existed.
“Master, Potter has been gone from Hogwarts for the past year. His activities have been hidden since then and…”
When he let the curse fade, Voldemort was squatting before his spy. “I don’t want excuses. Find out where the boy is being married and we will kill him, and his supporters in one - fell - stroke!”
With that, he turned from his servants and left the room.
Behind him, Draco and Lucius lifted Narcissa and carried her to their quarters. Snape struggled to lift himself from the floor and when he’d succeeded, he stepped to Voldemort’s throne and deftly substituted the bottle there, for an identical bottle, filled with a potion powerful enough to knock the mutated bastard out of the night.
When Voldemort was asleep, he’d exchange the bottles once more.
Snape was staggering to the large double doors when Voldemort returned to the throne. The dark lord sat, and casually lifted the bottle to his lips.
Snape smirked as the tyrant drank. Within seconds, he was out the door and on his way back to Dumbledore.
He was astounded and intrigued to find shards of broken porcelain everywhere. Something must have happened to cause this! Absently he wafted his wand and muttered “Scourgify!”
The mess vanished.
At Dumbledore’s angry glare, Snape spoke. “The Dark lord summoned me. It appears that the misbegotten spawn of James Potter is…”
“Getting married. Yes. I know!” Dumbledore spoke for the first time since he’d been ousted from Hogwarts. The angry old man gestured to a parchment envelope and card on the table.
The card read:
I’M GETTING MARRIED.
YOU’RE NOT INVITED.
“Arrogant bastard! Just like his father!”
Snape vented his spleen for a good ten minutes extolling the ancestry, friends, study habits, native intelligence, hygiene, and likely sexual orientation, of one, Harry James Potter.
As entertaining as that was to the old manipulator, both master and spy were greatly concerned. How had Harry penetrated his wards?
Harry and Dobby appeared in Minerva’s office, to the headmistress’s surprise.
“Mister Potter! I might have been undressed!”
“Then I would have been granted a vision from heaven.” He shot back, causing Minerva to turn a fetching shade of pink. Before she could fire another volley, he announced: “I’m here to invite you to our wedding this afternoon.”
“Yes. It’s a ceremony where people get married.”
At her glare, he grinned innocently and then added: “Actually it’s our magical bonding. The wedding itself will be held after this is over. Sometime in July I think.”
“Why, Mister Potter are you bonding today? I thought you had planned to wait until this was all over.”
“We would have, but…” Harry explained the machinations the Malfoys had concocted, and how with unimpeachable witnesses and the proper press, they could derail the blood purist’s schemes.
Minerva laughed; delighted to know her favorite students were devious enough to beat the Malfoy’s at their own game.
Upon her nod of acceptance, he handed her four envelopes.
“These are for you, and for Professors Sprout and Flitwick, and Hagrid, of course. They’re all charmed as portkeys. The activation phrase is: “'n arddun chyfalle.” We’ll understand if any of you cannot attend. We’ve given you very little time, after all, but we do hope that you can all be there.”
“I shall arrange for someone to take care of the school in our absence. I for one would not miss it for all the heather in Scotland!”
Harry grinned and he and Dobby left the Castle.
Harry’s next stop was Number four.
Petunia answered the door with a glare. Harry could ‘feel’ Dudley at the top of the stairs. He simply announced: “I’m getting married this afternoon at four. You and Dudley are invited.”
“You’re getting married? Why?” Petunia sneered. “Did you get that girl pregnant?”
“Not yet.” Harry shot back with a lascivious grin.
Petunia jerked her head back, at what was not said. Recovering herself, she shakily asked: “And Vernon? Is he invited?”
“Can you really see him behaving himself amongst a bunch of magic-using Jedi Knights?”
At her speechless stare, he added: “I thought not.”
Dudley chose this moment to announce his presence. “Hey, Harry. Can I invite Marissa?”
“Sure. Better make it quick though. It’s this afternoon at four. You’ll be back by five if you want, or we can put you up in the castle…whichever you like.”
“I’ll call her straight away. How should we dress?”
“My students will be in uniform, the wedding party will be in traditional white robes and the other guests will wear whatever is comfortable.
“I’ve got a suit.” With Dudley’s dedication to attaining a more normal body weight, Harry knew his cousin would cut a rather dashing figure in a suit. Marissa might have her work cut out for her keeping the girls away from him.
“Good enough. Dobby will pick you up at quarter to four.”
“Ooh…ummm…” Dudley seemed unsure. “Should I wear that…?” He nodded his head to the second floor, where his medal lay in its box on his bureau. Harry understood.
“If you want. It’s traditional, but not necessary.”
At three thirty, Rita arrived in the entrance hall of Potter Castle via the portkey Harry had given her. Standing there with distinctly unfriendly glares, were two easily recognizable witches and an equally well-known wizard. Daphne Greengrass stepped forward and ordered: “Your portkey! It will be returned when you leave.”
Handing the pendant over with trembling hands, Rita stammered: “I…I was invited…”
“Yes, we know. Follow us outside. We need to give you a demonstration.” She turned to the door and the other two, Ginny Weasley and Neville Longbottom, formed into a guard behind her.
Outside, Rita found herself in the middle of a circle of more than fifty people each holding a copy of that magical sword Harry had used in the Wizengamot session.
Daphne held up a largish piece of rock.
“This is granite. It’s one of the densest materials on Earth. You will follow the rules you’ve agreed to exactly, or you will be subject to a…training exercise that we use!” With that, she tossed the hunk of rock into the air where Ginny became a whirl of energy. Her blade came to life and sliced four times through the stone, before allowing the parts to fall to the earth.
As one the rest of the students lit their blades, forming a circle of lethal energy around Rita.
She got the message.
The site for the bonding had been well chosen. It was a small half-circle that overlooked the lake, surrounded on three sides by the newly leafing trees of the small grove.
A simple stone altar had been set up two heavy slabs supporting another at waist height.
On top of that slab was a white muslin cloth, with a braiser of incense, a bowl of salt, and another of water, an athame and, thanks to Neville, living vines to serve as the binding cords.
Around the altar, was a large chalk circle had been laid out, with candles on shoulder-high wooden posts, at each of five distinct points, leaving sufficient room for Harry and Hermione to walk around.
All of the students, staff, house-elves, families, and guests had gathered, the students, wearing their brown cloaks over their uniforms. This was the first time they had all worn them and so, it was special. By unspoken consensus they’d left their lightsabers in their quarters.
As soon as she saw Sagacious Ollivander, the Druid priestess, Katholin Arwyn, gave him a deep bow, and offered her place as official. He smiled sadly and shook his head.
“The time of the Calaquendi is done. I am merely a guest today.”
Luna Lovegood played a soft tune on a Vulcan lytherette, with Fawkes humming along. Where she got it and how she learned to play it, neither Harry nor Hermione ever learned, but she would play it often in the years to come.
The circle of people opened on either side, and Harry, escorted by Arthur and Molly, and Hermione, with Mack and Judith, walked into the center, facing each other. The guests followed them in and formed into five groups between the points of the pentagon, each alternating so everybody could see.
Even Helen was there, keeping an eye on the two excited Jedi children. She’d rapidly became accustomed to the castle and with daily talks with Judith, Harry and Hermione, and a few with Lorelei, she’d begun to come to grips with both her newfound abilities and the trauma that had forced them to the surface. Her parents supported her fully and whenever they could portkeyed to the castle…if only to spend time with her.
All in all, she was pretty happy.
Katholin spoke in a deep alto: “Once the circle is cast and sealed, no one may enter or leave.”
The Druidess left her position and paced the perimeter of the circle in a clockwise direction, stopping at each of the five points, to seal it with incense, salt, and water, and then returned to the altar. Three house elves, including Florrie, had volunteered to carry the items she needed. When the last seal was in place, a thick wall of white light nine feet high, formed around the entire circle. Within seconds, it faded to clarity, but everyone there could tell the shield was still in place.
Katholin took her place behind the altar, with Amelia and Minerva on her right and Augusta and Pomona to her left. Each represented one of the elements while Katholin was the embodiment of magic. Filius stood in the audience, while Hagrid stood at the back directly opposite the altar, and looked over the rest.
Their participation would last only the ceremony, as they would have to rush back to Hogwarts immediately, as Minerva snarked: “To keep the students from burning the place down.”
“Greetings and welcome.” She sang to the crowd.
The Jedi students returned her greeting with quiet pleasure. Fawkes trilled from his position on Luna’s shoulder. Everybody smiled as his trilled reply lifted their spirits.
“This ceremony of bonding comes down from the time of the mists, changeless and yet ever-changing. So as it was in the beginning, so shall it be now.”
She held her hands out, palms down and Harry and Hermione knelt before her. The group of guests surrounded them in feelings of warmth and love. Each bowed their heads as the Druid priestess raised her hands to the sky, and intoned the blessing of the elements.
The aged priestess sang: “We call upon the elements of Earth, Air, Fire, Water, and Magick, which created our world, and which give us life. We ask you for your blessing upon this joining of man and maid.”
Arwyn again left the altar, and walking the perimeter of the circle, stopping with an invocation, at each of the five points. Touching the first candle, she intoned: “We call upon thee, the ancient and numinous element of earth, and ask ye to join us and bless this union.”
The candle burst into flame.
Moving to her right, she touched the second candle “We call upon thee, the ancient and spiritual element of air, and ask ye to join us and bless this union.”
The second candle ignited.
Reaching the third point, she touched the candle and sang: “We call upon thee, the ancient and sacred element of fire, and ask ye to join us and bless this union.”
Again the candle lit. Though a breezy day, the flame never wavered.
At her fourth stop she smiled as she touched the candle. “We call upon thee, the ancient and divine element of water, and ask ye to join us and bless this union.”
Once more, the candle burned.
Last, she returned to the altar and sang: “We call upon thee, the ancient and omnipresent element of magick, and ask ye to join us and bless this union.”
The final candle flamed. Arcs of golden light joined the candles, around and over the circle, forming a dome of golden tracery. Gasps of pleasure erupted from every throat present. Fawkes trilled happily, bringing tears of joy to everyone present.
Of those present, only Katholin and Sagacious…and Fawkes, of course, had ever seen the like before. Both smiled in recognition of the gift.
Arwyn turned and faced the kneeling couple.
“In the beginning a seed is planted. Nourished and cared for, the sapling grows and continues to grow, strengthening and maturing day by day, enduring and overcoming the hardships of life. When the time is right, it blossoms, bringing forth the next stage of life. This is not unlike the love between two people, for the love will grow and endure just as the seed. Given the nourishment and care that it needs, it will grow as strong as the mighty oak.”
“Who gives this man to this maid?” She asked.
Arthur stepped forward and said: “We do, Arthur and Molly Weasley, as his parents are no longer amongst us.”
She nodded and turned to Hermione’s parents.
“And who gives this maid to this man?”
Mack stepped forward. “We do, Mackenzie and Judith Granger, parents by birth and by blood.”
A second nod and both sets of parents backed away.
“Hermione Jane, Harrison James, you both stand within this circle, that represents all the world.
Hermione Jane, do ye present yourself to your intended of your own free will?
“Harrison James, do ye present yourself to your intended of your own free will?
“Proceed ye now, both, thrice ‘round the circle, the last steps you take in your solitary lives.”
Following the instructions they’d received the day before, Harry and Hermione turned from the altar and walked the edge of the circle, three times, Harry went left while Hermione headed to the right. Neither touched the other.
Once they had completed three turns, they returned to their places before the altar.
Arwyn spoke again. “You both, of your own free will, and with all that is your lives, stand before me side by side, within this circle of magick.
Turn ye now to face each other.”
Harry turned to see his Hermione blushing prettily. He knew he wore a silly grin, but couldn’t bring himself to care.
Hermione gaze into the expressive green eyes of her beloved to find nothing but love for her in their depths. She blushed.
“Are ye prepared to join your lives, your blood, your souls and your magic?”
Both replied: “We are.”
Katholin picked up the athame and spilled a bit of the water across it’s blade, then made a small incision, first on Harry’s palm and then Hermione’s. She returned the knife to the altar and lifted the three vines. A gesture, and the vines left her hand and wrapped themselves, one by one, around the couple’s joined hands, and began to glow a silvery white.
“As your blood runs together, flowing and mixing, as your magic joins, bonding and embracing, so too do your lives become one.
Hermione Jane, repeat after me: “My blood to your blood, my heart to your heart, my magic to your magic, my soul to your soul, I come to you as your equal, and take your hand as my equal, my friend, my mate, and my lover. I give to you my life of my own free will.”
Hermione repeated the words, her eyes never once leaving Harry’s.
“Harrison James, repeat after me: “My blood to your blood, my heart to your heart, my magic to your magic, my soul to your soul, I come to you as your equal, and take your hand as my equal, my friend, my mate, and my lover. I give to you my life of my own free will.”
As had Hermione, Harry pledged himself to his wife, his eyes never leaving hers.
“With the binding of your hands, so too do I seal the bonds of your love. May the elements, of earth, air, fire, water, and magick, watch over you, this day, and forever more.
Do ye both give your oath before and upon your magick to forevermore keep your vows?”
“We do.” Both chimed.
It was at this point the surprise came. The glow of silver from their hands, grew to envelop the happy couple…a glow that swiftly became the purest of white. Those attending wanted to turn their heads, but dared not to, lest they miss this display.
Behind the altar, four luminescent figured appeared. Lily, James, Sirius, all smiling proudly, and, of all people, Yoda, who leaned upon his gimmer stick, a satisfied look upon his wrinkled face. The audience gasped aloud at the spectral images.
“Go ye now and be blessed by the elements of Earth, Air, Fire, Water, and Magick, the first steps of your journey into the future.”
The couple moved clockwise, still bound, stopping at each of the five points in the circle, to receive the blessings of each element, before returning to their place before Arwyn.
“With the giving of your oaths, one to the other, we welcome you into a new beginning in life. As the bond around your hands joins you physically, so now do your separate paths join to make one. Though your beings are separate, both with your own ideas, thoughts and will, together you become a whole, both working for the good of the union. May your journey bring you wisdom. May it strengthen your love for each other, and may the magick of the earth guide you, strengthen you, and shed upon you peace and light, and the courage to journey through life and eternity as one.”
Another gesture and the vines unwrapped themselves. Arwyn carefully coiled them into a loose circle and handed them to Hermione.
“You symbolize the circle eternal, with rings of gold. Please place these rings on the hand of the other and proclaim your vows.”
As Harry placed his ring on Hermione’s finger, he spoke softly. “Hermione, I have loved you from the moment we met. You have influenced my life, you have comforted me and you have guided me, and by knowing you, my life has been made the better. I love you and will forever.”
Hermione blushed prettily but took her turn. Sliding the gold band onto Harry’s finger she said: “Harry, I have loved you from the moment you threw aside your safety and jumped on the back of a mountain troll, to protect me. By knowing you, my life has been made better. I love you and will forever.”
“You may now seal your vows with a kiss.”
And they did.
Arwyn sprinkled a pinch of salt, and a few drops of water on to their joined heads then wafted the incense toward them. Placing a hand on each of their heads, she spoke again.
“These warriors who face battle and death, rejoice in the joining of one life to another. May the goddess bless and join you, and keep you safe as you go forth, this day and forever more, life renewed, joined together as husband and wife. Blessed be.”
The audience all chanted: “Blessed be.”
“Master Ollivander?” Her invitation was obvious. Bowing, Sagacious stepped forward and placing a hand on each of their heads, spoke a long phrase in a musical tongue. The house elves all answered in the same language. Arwyn smiled and bowed with the greatest of respect. Ollivander returned her bow with equal respect.
The newlyweds remained in place while Arwyn walked round the circle, stopping at each of the five points to release the charms.
At her first stop, she smiled upon Luna and Ron.
“We thank thee, the ancient and numinous earth for your presence and your blessings.”
When she reached the second point, she smiled upon Li and Megan.
“We thank thee, the ancient and spiritual air for your presence and your blessings.”
At the third stop it was Ginny and Seamus. And then, Neville, Susan and Hannah.
“We thank thee, the ancient and sacred fire for your presence and your blessings.”
At the fourth stop, she gave an odd kind of smile to Fred, George, Angelina, Alicia and Katie.
“We thank thee, the ancient and divine water for your presence and your blessings.”
Returning to the altar, she faced the last point and finished the ritual,
“We thank thee, the ancient and omnipresent magick for your presence and your blessings.”
Turning to her audience, she said: “The circle is now opened. May the joy found within be spread throughout the world. Blessed be.”
The audience all chanted: “Blessed be.”
As soon as Ollivander had escorted the Druid priestess from the circle, Harry turned his bride to the altar, showing them the shades he’d seen. James, Lily, and Sirius all smiled broadly as he introduced Hermione. They said they could only stay for a moment more, but Lily and James in particular, were proud of their little boy and agreed wholeheartedly with his choice of bride.
Yoda looked deeply into her eyes before nodding with a wheezy little grunt. Then they faded from view.
Hermione turned to her new husband and long-time lover with tears in her eyes. She smiled and leaned against his chest as an equally watery Harry held her close.
Minerva, Pomona, Filius and Hagrid all offered their congratulations, with warm hugs from all, kisses from the women, and lots of loud tears from Hagrid. Then begging forbearance, they departed for Hogwarts.
Rita also begged leave to depart. She had quite probably the most important story of her career to write. Harry cautioned her once more as to what not to print.
Dudley and Marissa were amongst the first to offer their congratulations. He was dressed in a good, but not overly expensive wool suit while Marissa wore a light lemon yellow sundress and white cardigan. Harry noted that Dudley had decided to forego his Order of Merlin. He smiled. His cousin was really coming along nicely.
Petunia in her plum dress, hung back a bit, but one could see tears in her eyes. Her son and his girlfriend announced their intention to stay overnight, so Dobby offered to return her to Privet drive before Vernon got home.
She nodded and they vanished.
As they left, Harry watched the place they’d departed from with shining eyes. At Hermione’s gentle nudge, he turned and whispered: “She didn’t say anything nasty. Who knows…maybe sometime in the future, she’ll be ready to accept all this. Not any time soon, mind you, but perhaps someday…”
When Dobby returned, he told Harry he’d taken the liberty of starting dinner for the Dursleys, so it would be ready when Vernon got home.
The party lasted well into the night. Due to the need for training on the following day, Harry limited the libants to various juices, butterbeer or light wines, and only two glasses of the latter to any one of the students.
Ron managed a credible toast.
“I first met Harry and Hermione on the Hogwarts express. He wasn’t what I expected at all. I was hoping to find someone about nine feet tall…well, actually I did, but that was later. Harry was skinny and raggedy with taped up trainers and broken glasses, and if Gred and Forge hadn’t told me he was ‘The Harry Potter’, I never would have guessed.
We kind’a got to know each other before a bushy haired, bossy-boots came in, asking if we’d seen a toad. This was Hermione, of course.
We actually didn’t really get on too well, and I reluctantly admit I was mostly at fault for that. Anyways, on Hallowe’en of that year I said something ugly, stupid and cruel, and sent Hermione into a bathroom to have a cry. If I’d known then what I know now, I never would have done. It took Harry grabbing me by the scruff to get me to come along on his very first rescue. Hermione has said he has a ‘saving people thing’. She should know. She was the first.
It took a twelve-foot tall mountain Troll to get me to tolerate her, and later, even like her. That she was scary brilliant didn’t help, as I can’t be called the brightest star in the sky, but we did eventually learn to get along.
After a few years I began to have feelings for her, but I was already too late. She’d made her choice and he’d made his, long before I was even involved.
Harry, Hermione, my best mates, I wish a thousand blessings upon you. May the road rise to your feet, may the wind be forever at your back, may the sun shine warm upon your face and may you find shelter when it storms, and may the gods hold you and keep you safe from harm.”
When Harry and Hermione finally left the celebration, they were escorted out with cheers, and bawdy comments a to what they were going to get up to that evening.
That night, Voldemort slept through the newlywed’s ‘private celebrations’. The near overdose he’d taken before did its job.
He slept well into the next day.
Dudley woke the next morning with Marissa’s arm over his chest. They were both wearing their pyjamas, and he knew he hadn’t done anything untoward, but still, he was both nervous at being in such a compromising position and rather content to be here in her embrace.
He dropped a kiss on her forehead as he left the bed. After visiting the loo, he returned to the bedroom, sat, and for a time, just watched his best friend as she slept.
Noise from outside attracted his attention, so he stepped onto the veranda, to see what was what. There in the distance, he saw his cousin and his bride racing up a nearly impossible obstacle course, with what seemed to be…ease. They were followed closely, by half a hundred tan clad students, some of which he’d met the previous evening.
Dudley knew that course would have killed him in nothing flat, and he was in pretty good condition! Quite frankly, he was jealous. Some of those students were only fourteen!
Marissa padded up behind him and wrapped her arms round his waist.
“What’s going on, Dudley?”
“Have you seen them?” He pointed out over the grounds. Marissa looked where he indicated and saw what he’d seen. She gaped in astonishment and then shook her head in bemusement.
“Only Harry Potter…”
Dudley turned to her in question. “What do you mean?”
At his odd question, Marissa frowned and then asked: “Dudley, how well do you know Harry Potter?”
“We’re cousins. He grew up with us.”
“No.” She amended. “How well do you know him? What do you know about him?”
“Erm…only that I used to be a real berk to him.”
“You didn’t know that Harry Potter is one of the most powerful wizards in the world? That he destroyed the dark Lord Voldemort when he was a baby? That he’s managed to keep the philosopher’s stone away from the disembodied spirit of that same dark lord, save the life of several of his friends, kill a sixty foot basilisk, out-fly a dragon and win a tournament he was never supposed to be in, in the first place?”
“Dudley, Harry was used as an ingredient in a reincarnation ritual of the vilest sort and yet, he still dueled Voldemort…Voldemort…the darkest lord in history, to a draw…twice! That’s something only Dumbledore can claim, and Dumbledore is more than a hundred years older than Harry. You never knew any of this?”
“None of it. You know how my parents are about magic. Dad calls it unnatural, and mum’s said Harry was a freak for all of his life. If someone even mentions the word magic in the house or they both go ‘round the twist.”
“And yet, your mum was here to watch as Hurry and Hermione were bonded…bonded in a magical ceremony.”
“Yeah, I still have trouble believing that!”
“I’ll tell you what. When we get back home, I’ll loan you my copy of ‘Great Wizarding Events of the Twentieth Century’. There’s a whole chapter devoted to Harry.”
The morning of the second, papers graced the tables throughout Magical Britain, proclaiming Harry Potter was permanently off the market.
The article was well written, factual and without mention of any Jedi, or lightsabers.
BOY WHO LIVED MARRIES.
Dear readers, writes Rita Skeeter, special correspondent to The Daily Prophet. This diligent and attractive seeker of the truth was privileged to witness the nuptials of Lord Harrison James Potter and Lady Hermione Jane Granger as they were bonded in the ancient traditions.
The revered Druid Priestess, Katholin Arwyn performed the bonding and both Minister for Magic, Amelia Bones and Head of the Wizengamot, Augusta Longbottom were present as participants and as witnesses.
No mere bonding was this. No indeed! Says this intrepid seeker of veracity. Lord Potter’s friends, a small army of them, gathered ‘round, to witness the nuptials and partake of the following celebratory feast.
The setting was nothing less than idyllic and for a brief time, the world was in complete accord as these two joined their lives, their magicks, and their souls.
An interesting, if unexpected occurrence, interrupted the proceedings as the bonding cords, which it was reported, were living vines, began to glow with a silvery light. Unusual as this is, it became more so, when upon their vows, the glow turned the purest of white and spread to envelop them both. The light was so bright this reporter had to turn away.
It was the first time this reporter has ever seen a bonding so blessed. If magic itself has blessed this pair, then let no man interfere…
Images from Rita’s memories graced the page, showing Harry and Hermione, the Druidess and official witnesses, and the flare of light from them both.
Throughout magical Britain, young witches wept.
“Severus…” He threw the paper to the floor. ~Married, are they? I’ll give them ‘married’!~
“Albus?” Severus saw the flash of fury in Dumbledore’s eyes, at the lack of his usual title: headmaster. Though he kept his features schooled, inwardly Severus was smirking nastily.
“I asked you some time ago to find a way to kill Amelia Bones. I want it done immediately!”
“As I indicated before, the dark lord has ordered her death thrice since last July and in all three cases, not only have the Death Eaters failed, they have returned to him with massive casualties. He was most displeased…”
“I don’t care!” Dumbledore spat. “I want her dead, and I want it done now! With her dead, I can arrange an accident for that bitch on the Wizengamot. Then they’ll beg me to return to the council, and I can place someone loyal to me in the Minister’s office. I can overturn Harry’s marriage and have his mudblood killed, and then he will be mine once more!”
Snape was momentarily taken aback by the old man’s vehemence. He tried to temporize: “Perhaps if there was a place she was not quite so well protected…”
Albus thought for a moment before his eyes lit.
“I understand that when she arrives at the Ministry she tends to hang about the atrium for a time. Her guard usually leaves her there, to begin their own day. During that time, she would be less that adequately protected. I shall provide you a portkey to penetrate the wards around the ministry building without disturbing the alarms. My former position on the Wizengamot allows me that. You will take some Death Eaters into the atrium and kill everyone there!”
“As you wish. I will of course have to request the required numbers from the Dark lord.”
“Then do so. I will give you a week.”
Severus understood the or else Dumbledore had left unsaid. There were any number of things the old manipulator could release that would have Severus incarcerated…if not killed. His activities as a Death Eater were the least among them.
“Master.” Snape offered. “I have a report for you.”
“Speak, Severus.” Voldemort smiled lazily from his throne. In his lap were Nagini…and a small bottle Snape recognized from an apothecary in Knockturn Alley. Inwardly, he swore. Now he’d have to find a way to cut the dark lord’s dosage if he wanted the plan to succeed. He knew from the intoxicated smile the man was wearing that any attempt to urge him to give the potions up would end in his being on the dangerous end of Voldemort’s wand…
An unenviable position to be in.
Best to let this lie until he could work out a way to reduce the hazard to himself and his fellow purebloods.
“Master the old muggle lover has ordered me to kill Bones.”
“Ordered?” Suddenly the reptilian mutation was not so indolent. “He dares to give orders to my servants?”
Hoping to stave off another tantrum, Severus quickly added: “He’s asked me to gather a few of your servants and portkey into the ministry atrium just after she arrives. Her guards will have gone on to their daily routines and she tends to hang about there, hobnobbing with the drones, before attending her duties.”
“And how will my Death Eaters penetrate the ministry?” Voldemort hissed in a slightly calmer but no less deadly voice. “Since that debacle last year the ward scheme has been altered and the specifics hidden. My few remaining loyalists are unable to determine anything about them…no matter the…incentive.”
“He told me he would provide a portkey to pass through the wards at the ministry without disruption.”
“As the chief of the Wizengamot, he has the authority to make such a portkey. Since he was removed due to the audit the animals placed on his vaults, rather than by vote, that authority was never renounced.”
“So, Dumbledore is willing to step out of the shadows, is he?”
“Apparently so, my lord.”
“Very well. Gather twenty…no…thirty of my servants and prepare them. When he creates this portkey go there and kill everybody in the building!”
“As you wish, master.”
Go now, return when your men are ready.”
“Master.” Shape backed the requisite five paces bowed to his liege and turned to the right to depart.
As he was nearly to the door, Voldemort called: “Severus.”
Snape turned and bowed again. “”Master?”
“You have failed me far too often for my liking. See to it that this does not happen again.”
Snape returned to tell Dumbledore the dark lord had allowed the use of thirty of his lesser Death Eaters. Dumbledore was pleased.
“I shall make the portkey in three days. Have someone secure the floo system before the attack. By eight thirty, I expect to be called to the ministry to retake control of the government.”
On the sixth of May, a sleeping Harry was shocked awake by a powerful force vision. Madam Bones was in terrible danger! Beside him, Hermione was also awake. Springing from their bed, they hurriedly pulled on their uniforms and dashed to their door.
Instantly the elf was there, also dressed. Pounding from the door told them other Jedi had been awakened as well. A gesture and the portal opened. Neville, Luna, Susan, Remus, and Tonks all rushed in.
“What the hell is going on, Harry?”
“Madam Bones is in trouble. Dobby, can you take us all to her?”
“Dobby can do, but it will wear Dobby out. Better, to take half, and come back for the rest.
Winky popped in and said: “Winky will help!”
“All right. Me, Hermione, Remus, and Tonks with Dobby, Luna, Susan, Neville and Mack, if he’s here, with Winky.”
“I’m here, Harry.”
“OK, then. Mack you come with us. Dobby, can you bring us like that?”
“Let’s do it!”
They all linked their hands, and Dobby popped them into a war-zone. Beside them, the second group appeared.
Instantly lightsabers flared and curses came their way.
A second later, the place was a full-fledged melee.
Amelia Bones’ memories
Amelia and her entourage had just arrived at the ministry atrium when someone screamed. She turned and found herself facing dozens of Death Eaters…all of whom seemed to have ‘Kill Amelia’ on their tiny little minds.
Connie, Michael and Shack were instantly fighting, and Amelia was transfiguring a barricade while firing off blasting hexes. The rest of the people in the atrium found defensible positions and began to fire at the black robed pests.
The first killing curses flashed out toward her. Eric Munch, the inept security guard, leapt forward and shoved her to the floor as three lethal spells intersected the spot she’d been.
He’d lived as a failure.
He died as a hero.
She counted more than twenty of the white-masked terrorists, and wondered if help would arrive swoon enough to prevent any further loss of life.
The shouts of “Avada Kedavra!” told her ‘no’ as three more of her employees fell lifeless to the tiles. She personally snapped off reductors to the heads of two of those who’d murdered, with Connie and Shack jointly removing the head of the third. Unfortunately this refocused the attention of the intruders directly on them. The Death Eaters redoubled their efforts to eliminate her, most painfully.
To everyone’s surprise, nine dun-clad figures silently appeared. Nine blades of colored light surged to life, and nine people waded into the Death Eaters with grim determination. They closed with Voldemort’s minions and fell to a systematic and utterly ruthless attack.
Amelia sighed in relief. Bolstering her troops, she called for reinforcements, as lightsaber blades slashed in circles and arcs, reflecting curses and spells back at their casters. Even a few killing curses bounced off the energy blades. “Keep them contained!” She yelled. “And for the love of Merlin, do not shoot the people with the blades!”
It was an utter rout. Death Eaters were fanatical, but after nearly half had fallen, dead or horribly wounded, they lost their taste for blood. It didn’t help them a bit. The blades still swung. More Deez fell.
Within seconds, the entire Auror department had arrived. As soon as they had, they opened fire on the surviving Deez. Swirls of light appeared as the remaining terrorists fled. Remaining, were fifteen dead, and seven unconscious Death Eaters, wounded badly enough that they would never be a hazard again.
More than a few of the Auror’s spells bounced back before Amelia bellowed: “Hold your fire!”
Saluting Amelia, Harry and his group vanished as quietly as they’d come.
Unfortunately there were quite a few ministry workers around. Unlike under Fudge’s rule, these people were made of sterner stuff. Amelia couldn’t have been prouder. Rather than fleeing in terror when the Death Eaters had arrived, they had remained and fought them. She thought she saw Arthur Weasley in the background, but couldn’t be certain.
There were only the four casualties, though a few other people had been hurt. Dispatching the medics for those who could be helped, Amelia activated the ministry lockdown. The floos had died out just before the attack. She’d have to investigate that. In the meantime she had some damage control to attend to.
“All right!” she called out. “Listen up! I want everybody over here! Now!”
When the dazed ministry people had gathered, she began. “The people you just saw are part of special task force to eliminate the Death Eaters when they can. As you’ve seen, they are very effective, if a bit brutal in their methods. I don’t have a problem with that! The Death Eaters are murderers, rapists and torturers. I know the previous administration allowed them their freedom and the former minister in particular took bribes to keep them free of suspicion, but this is a new day. I have authorized the Auror department to use any means necessary to bring down these terrorists…”
She was interrupted by shouts of disbelief, mostly from those who’d seen Barty Crouch do the same thing. Those days had devolved into near anarchy simply because some of the Aurors hadn’t been as devoted to their calling as they should have been. Quite a few people had died because of those few, and those who remembered, didn’t want it to happen again.
Amelia threw up her hands for silence and began again.
“As long as they are willing to submit to questioning under Veritaserum afterwards! So far, we’ve eliminated several dozen of these animals, and the Auror department has not cast a single unforgivable.”
That garnered some few cheers for the Aurors.
“Still…” She went on. “What you have seen here today, cannot be allowed out of this room. It is far too sensitive. Should Voldemort get hold of this information before we are ready it would be disastrous. Now, all of you have sworn oaths of secrecy, but I don’t want you lot to fall over dead because you get drunk and blow off some steam, so I’m going to have some people from the Department of Mysteries come up here and remove the memories of the last few minutes from your minds. After all, you cannot divulge what you don’t remember.” She pointed to the shrouded bodies on the floor.
Surprisingly enough, nobody objected.
Harry’s group returned to the castle, where Susan promptly fell to her knees and threw up. Hermione took charge and ordered everyone out of the room. Seconds later, the office was clear. Even Harry had departed, though Hermione could feel his presence just outside the door.
Vanishing the sick and freshening the air, She knelt beside her friend and wrapped loving arms around the distraught girl.
“Shhh!” She rocked the weeping Susan in her arms. “It’s OK. It’ll be OK.”
Susan turned tear filled eyes to her friend. “I…I…I kil…killed some…someone!”
“Yeah.” Hermione replied softly. “So did I. And so did Harry and Daddy and Neville and Luna and Remus and Tonks and Dobby. We all knew this would involve killing, but…”
“But…it…it never seemed to be…real.”
“Yeah. Susan, I’m used to it. Harry and Daddy and Tonks and Remus are all used to it. Hell, even Neville has had to kill. None of us likes it, none of us wants to, but we’ve all had to do it. Sooner or later we will all have to kill. That’s part and parcel of war. Your turn simply came sooner than we expected. This is your first time, so it hurts the most. It won’t make it any better, any easier, but this is something that must be done.”
Dobby appeared for a moment with a tea tray and then vanished. Hermione gently lifted the weeping girl to the settee and poured. She added a splash of brandy to Susan’s cup. Once Susan had the tea in her hands, she pulled the strawberry blond in close and wrapped her arms around her.
“Susan…drink.” She ordered, and when Susan had, grimacing at the sharp, alcohol flavour, she began again. “Drink it all.” Again, Susan sipped, and upon seeing the stern glare Hermione sent her way, drained her cup. Hermione refilled it with hot tea…this time without the brandy.
“This won’t make it any easier, but it will help you to understand why. Who do you think they were after?”
“Auntie.” Susan’s reply was nearly inaudible.
“Mmmhmm. They would have killed Amelia, and most likely everybody in the building. That’s how they work. Death Eaters are bullies, pure and simple. They strike with overwhelming numbers, and using unforgivables curses. That frightens everybody and they take advantage of that fact. The Death Eaters have never had an enemy they couldn’t frighten. Now, they do.”
Susan wasn’t speaking, but she wasn’t shaking anymore either. “Simply by being there, we saved many lives, your auntie’s especially. By being there, we prevented most of those monsters from ever hurting anyone ever again.”
“I feel terrible! I killed him! He was a bastard but I killed him!” Susan almost returned to the weeping of a moment before. Hermione interrupted her.
Susan looked her in the eye and nodded.
“Find Neville and shag his brains out!”
Susan was scandalized! At her shocked gape, Hermione grinned. “It helps…really. It lets you know you’re still alive. We’re setting up some various therapies for those people who go on the mission, but it’s not really in place just yet. Making love is a stop-gap measure. It works, but it’s not everything that’s needed. We’ll develop more as time passes. In the meantime, go find your lover and fuck him blind.”
In the corridor, Harry had taken Neville aside and explained what Susan was going through just then. Neville had seen death before, and was just as determined to eliminate the Death Eaters as Harry was. Still, with his girlfriend in such distress, he was at a loss.
He made the same recommendation. His presence…and Hannah’s would do more to ease Susan’s heart that anything he could think of. If she needed it, he would schedule a few visits to Mack, Judith or Lorelei.
Neville nodded and as the door opened, he wrapped Susan in a warm and loving hug, before leading her down the corridor.
Watching them go, Harry said: “We need to find a way to help the troops when this is over!”
Snape watched from Voldemort’s side as the remnants of the strike force returned to Riddle Manor, beaten and bloody. The dark lord had ordered him to remain behind, and wait, as a good general never risks himself in combat.
When the bloodied Death Eaters returned, Voldemort understood that by keeping Snape at his side, he had condemned his servants to failure.
Needless to say, he was not happy. He could not blame himself, of course, so he turned to his closest target.
“No! NO! NONONONONO! CRUCIO!” Severus fell, screaming, to the parquet. Voldemort ranted as he cast the curse. “How did you fail? How could you have failed? A simple assassination and you failed? Bellatrix would be ashamed of you! You are worthless. Fifteen dead Death Eaters! Fifteen. And another seven captured! I sent thirty of you fools out to kill one woman…one woman, and only a quarter returned! Imbeciles! Morons! Idiots!”
“Master! They were ready for…” one of the defeated Death Eaters pleaded. He was too new to understand that Voldemort was not in the mood to be generous.
“AVADA KEDAVRA!” was his reward. A streak of viridian light and the moron fell lifeless to the floor.
“If they were ready, then we have been betrayed! One of my chosen has betrayed me to the enemy! Any ideas…Severus?”
“Master…” Snape gasped weakly on the floor, as he shuddered from the curse. “There were no…no leaks. I told…no one. The only…people…people…who…knew of…this were…me, yourself and…Dumbledore!”
“Dumbledore! It has to have been Dumbledore! Crucio! You fool! You fell right into his trap! He gave you information and you brought it to me! He knew you would, and he set up an ambush!”
Snape barely kept his mind that day, for the dark lord was in a fiery rage. He retained only enough of his sanity to ensure his only potion’s master…survived, with his wits intact.
An hour later, in her office, Amelia was spitting and snarling like a lion who’s cubs had been stolen.
“I want to now how they managed to penetrate the wards! The new scheme should have made that impossible!”
“The survivors told us it was a portkey. Some of them say Snape provided it, but no one knows who created it.
A knock on the door and Augusta walked in.
“Amelia…” She spoke up. “I have the authority to create such a portkey. Every chief of the Wizengamot does.”
That got the attention of everybody there.
“Do you think he…” Amelia was horrified that Dumbledore would do something like that…and yet, it filled in all the blanks.
“While there is no direct evidence, it does seem likely.”
For days afterward, Snape shuddered in lingering torment. It would be almost two weeks before he was able to return to Dumbledore to report his failure.
Unfortunately, The Daily Prophet beat him to it. The article was short and to the point.
DEATH EATERS ATTEMPT TO KILL THE MINISTER!
By Aloysius Euwings.
At eight AM on the 12th, thirty or more Death Eaters portkeyed into the ministry atrium intending to kill Minister of Magic, Amelia Bones, and perhaps everyone else there. It was reported that only four were killed and six wounded, though none seriously, while through the efforts of our minister, our brave Aurors and the Ministerial employees caught in the atrium at the time, twenty-two Death Eaters were killed or captured.
Chief amongst the casualties were Eric Munch, and Auror Jason Tyler who both acquitted themselves with distinction and conspicuous valor. Munch, long known as the friendly man at the wand-weigh station, bravely flung himself between Minister Bones and not one, but three killing curses. He is to be awarded the Order of Merlin, first class, posthumously. Tyler, who managed to disable three of the assailants before being struck down, is also to be awarded the Order of Merlin, first class, which will be presented to his widow.
The other fatalities were Aloysius Sharpten of the department of maintenance and repair and Smedley Wailbourne, former seeker of the Chudley Cannons, who was at the ministry that morning on personal business. Sharpten and Wailbourne are both slated to receive the Order of Merlin second class. The six other persons injured, were treated on the spot, and later transferred to St. Mungo’s Hospital for Magical Maladies, they have recovered.
Says Minister Bones: “This attack only underscores the terrorist nature of the Death Eaters. They do not like the reforms I am pushing, and so they think to stop me by killing me. This will not happen! While the previous administration gave a free pass to these monsters in human form, this one will not. We will fight the Death Eaters with every weapon we have. No longer will magical Britain live in fear of these savage animals!”
“Dobby?” Harry called quietly.
Instantly the Jedi-elf appeared.
“You has called for Dobby?”
“Yes, Dobby. I would like your assistance.” He explained. “Voldemort has a pet or familiar named Nagini. I want to talk to her.”
“What I’m asking you to do is extremely dangerous. Nagini is a hideously poisonous snake, about fifteen feet long. I think she’s been magically enhanced. Voldemort can control her, somehow. That’s how she went after Mr. Weasley last year.”
“Where is Nagini?”
“She’s most likely at Riddle Manor in Little Hangleton, but you’re going to have to wait until Voldemort is asleep and she’s hunting. I can’t see into his head anymore, so I have no way of knowing when that’s going to happen.”
“How is Dobby to do this?”
“If you can arrange for some of the house elves to maintain a watch over Riddle Manor, in rotating shifts, when one of them spots her, you can snatch her. If you pop to the sentry’s location and positively identify her, you can pop directly over her, grab her by the back of the head, and pop her back here to one of the dungeons. Now, I remember when I was in the hospital wing during my second year at Hogwarts, you popped away while I was holding on to you, so once you’re here, you let her go and pop out. That way she can’t bite you, no matter how fast she is.”
Dobby nodded, thinking of the difficulty of transporting a magical…and most likely extremely upset…viper, seven times his size.
After a bit more discussion, he assigned nine elves on a rotating basis, to watch over Riddle Manor for however long it took to capture the snake. They could also use the time to gather information on the place, as that intelligence would be critical in the near future.
The kidnapping of Nagini only took five days.
On the morning of the fourteenth, as soon as Pippy reported the serpent’s presence, Dobby popped to her location, and as instructed, waited with her until he located his target. She was hunting. When they had positively identified her, from Harry’s memories, he popped through the wards. Silent and invisible, he appeared just behind her head and grabbed her, popping away immediately. At the castle, he appeared, released the great snake and was gone before she hit the floor.
Furious, Nagini flailed all around, seeking her enemy.
After more than a half hour, she slumped to the floor, exhausted.
She was hungry.
A few small rats appeared before her. Instinct took over and before they got more than a few feet, she’d snatched up the first. It wasn’t anything close to enough, but it did take the edge off her temper.
§§ Are you finished? §§ Nagini whipped her head around in shock to see one of her master’s kind standing behind her. How had the two-legg managed to sneak up on her? She struck like lightning…to no avail. She found herself held gently, but without harm. It was like a heavy blanket surrounded her, preventing her movement.
Actually, she found it rather comfortable.
§§ Are you finished, or would you like to throw another tantrum? §§ The two-legg repeated himself. For the first time Nagini noticed he was speaking to her in the noble tongue as a proper snake. If a snake could gasp in shock, Nagini would have.
§§ A speaker! §§
§§ Mmmhmmm. §§
§§ How is this possible? §§
§§ When your master struck at me as a nestling, he was torn from the here and sent into the mists. It is thought that through the magicks that sent him away, he granted me the gift of speech. §§
The two-legg waited for a response, but when none was forthcoming, he went on.
§§ Would you like to free of him…forever? §§
§§ And have a new master as bad as him? No, I think not! §§
§§ There will be no new master, Nagini. I will send you to a place where you will be protected until you die of very old age. You will be fed and tended, and will want for nothing, but you will never leave that place. §§
§§ A prison. §§
§§ Better than death. §§
§§ And if I crave freedom? §§
§§ Nagini, you are not from this place. You were born in much warmer climes. If you remain, you will die. As it is, your simply being here for this long, has already halved your life. §§
§§ Truly? §§
§§ I speak the truth. §§
§§ And in return? Life demands a balance. §§
§§ I won’t lie to you. I intend to destroy that abomination. He has caused so much harm to me and mine that he must be destroyed. He has killed nestlings. He has slaughtered whole clutches. He does not eat his kills but instead leaves them to rot. §§
§§ He has grown…unpredictable. §§
§§ He has lost his touch with this reality. If he is allowed to continue, he will slaughter the whole worlds population, like a fire, until only he remains. We cannot allow this. He has become a rotted tree. For the health of the forest, he must die. §§
§§ He says much the same about you. §§
§§ Nagini… §§ Harry answered seriously. §§ I’m going to give you a choice. A choice he would not. Work with me and survive. Stand by him and be destroyed. It’s that easy. Either way I will destroy him. Even if I must leave my mate and venture into the mists alone, I will destroy him. §§
The magical serpent was quiet for so long, Harry thought she was going to refuse. In that event, he would confine her until after the meeting with Voldemort and then, if he could, he’d place her in a zoo. If not, if she proved to be too unstable, he’d kill her himself. She deserved no less.
§§ What is it I must do? §§ She inquired. Harry sighed. He had no way of knowing that she would not betray him, but the force was telling him to trust her.
§§ I intend to allow his servants to capture me. What I want you to do is caution him against a trap. §§
§§ Why? §§
§§ He believes he is omniscient. §§
§§ Om…” §§
§§ He believes he knows all. §§
§§ I have seen this. §§
§§ If you tell him it is most likely a trap he will believe otherwise. He believes he is too smart to be caught in a trap. §§
§§ I understand. §§
§§ I shall return you to your hunt…unless you’d prefer some easy prey? §§
§§ Easy? §§
§§ There are some rabbits near the manor. But beware. If I find you have killed the humans in the nearby village, I will kill you myself. §§
§§ The two-leggs are already dead. The master ordered them slaughtered when he returned. §§
§§ All of them? §§ Harry was horrified.
§§ To the least hatchling. §§ This was unexpected, though Harry supposed it shouldn’t have been. He’d known Voldemort was capable of such an atrocity, but had hoped…
He’d have to report that to Amelia as soon as possible.
§§ Thank you. I shall return you now. §§
Harry bid the snake good-bye and asked Dobby to return her to the wood near Riddle Manor.
When he did, instead of immediately returning to the hunt, Nagini coiled herself up and began to think long and hard. If she did as the speaker asked, she would find herself living a life of ease. If she remained with her master, she would have to tolerate his caress. She knew he was something not of this earth.
Did she really want to remain by his side…remain, as madness overtook him, as she knew it would. Even now, he stank once more of the fouled waters the poisoner created for him. No, madness was sure to follow…and soon.
She stiffened as her master called her to him.
Harry made a short floo-call to Amelia telling her of the reported murders. When she offered to investigate, his eyes grew hard and he said: “No. Keep your people away. It’s too close. I have no reason to believe Nagini is lying, but any Auror presence in Little Hangleton would definitely be noticed. I hate the idea of those people being unmarked, but if we are to succeed, he can’t catch even the slightest breath of this.”
“I understand.” She sighed. And she did.
'n arddun chyfalle. Welsh for ‘Beautiful union’
I used (and slightly modified) a Druid bonding ceremony I found online. If it’s not the right one, I should tell you I found over a dozen and chose the shortest one.
Back in the late 70’s, I made a lytherette, of mahogany and walnut, which I promptly gave to a friend. Basically it was a thirty stringed electric lap-harp with three concealed Humbuckers. The strings were a bitch to figure out until I decided to tune them individually, along the arch, rather than at the tension adjust knob (as labeled in the drawing.) It actually played pretty well (for something I’d worked up without the slightest idea of what the hell I was doing!).
I can easily see Luna playing one.
Katholin Arwyn is a creation of David Gerrold, from his Star Trek novel: ‘The Galactic Whirlpool’ He’s been involved with Star trek since the beginning, writing several novellas for the ST ‘verse, as well as the major novel: ‘When H.A.R.L.I.E. Was One’, an exceptional story (if a bit difficult to read at times).
Katholin asks Hermione first, as the druids were generally a matriarchal society.
Leaving the dead unmarked personally grates on me, but with the timing of Harry’s plan and the possibility, however slight, that Voldemort would catch wind of it, makes their burial of less import than destroying him. They can be buried when the storm is over.