Potter World Tour '92 begins, with a side trip to the Ministry.
The fourth of July had come and nearly gone, and Harry was trying to read his History of Magic book, but he was sorely distracted. Even though he knew that 11:30 PM didn't actually occur until late at night, Harry had been looking out the window of his room every minute or so since before sunset, hoping that his ride had arrived. Ms. Bones hadn't said exactly who would be coming to pick him up, and he didn't know several of his wives' parents. He had packed his other goods hours ago, to be as ready as possible.
At ten-twenty, Petunia opened the door. She looked at Harry for about half a minute before saying anything. Finally, she seemed to gather her resolve.
"When you go, Harry..."
"Yes?" Harry had never known Petunia to speak to him so quietly.
"I'm leaving the door open. Don't make noise. We plan to sleep in tomorrow morning." With that, she left for her bedroom, leaving Harry to wonder if she was trying to say something else. By the time he decided to ask her, she had already entered her bedroom and closed the door behind her. Since Harry had caught one of his most serious beatings when he had entered the adult Dursleys' bedroom without permission, he let her be.
At 11:25, headlights began to bear down on Privet Drive, turning into the Dursleys' driveway. Figuring that these must be the people picking him up, Harry closed his book and quietly walked down the stairs and to the front door.
When he opened the door, he saw Susan coming up the walk. "Are you ready?" she inquired.
"I think so. I just have to bring the trunk down. I know I'm not supposed to use magic, but it's awfully heavy, so I haven't wanted to do it yet," Harry explained.
Susan went back to the car, a very well-maintained black Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow. She spoke to the driver, who turned off the enigne. The driver got out of the car, revealing herself to be Amelia Bones.
"Hello, Harry," Amelia said. "Let's go up to your room and get your broom and trunk."
"Vernon and Petunia don't want us to make noise," Harry told her. "That's why I didn't want to drag it down the stairs." With that, the three climbed the stairs to the littlest bedroom.
"That won't be a problem. Is everything packed?" Receiving a "yes" in response, Amelia cast Locomotor Trunk to levitate the trunk and get it moving toward the door.
"You have an awfully small room, Harry," Susan said.
"Actually, it's bigger than my old one."
"And where is that?" Amelia asked with some surprise.
"Down here," Harry said, leading the Boneses to the room under the stairs.
"Dear God! You lived in here!?" Amelia bumped her head on the entrance, and she wasn't a tall woman by any means. Harry stayed out in the hall because there wasn't room for the three of them to stand in the cupboard.
"For how long?"
"Ten years, I guess. Until I got my Hogwarts letter," Harry said slowly. He wasn't comfortable with the Boneses seeing his old cupboard.
"How did... why did... I'm going to be a busy woman in the next few weeks, I can tell you that! No one should have to live like this, Harry, and you won't from now on. Not if I have anything to say about it."
With that, Amelia finished levitating the trunk to her car, opening the trunk to store it. Once it was squared away, she let Harry into the front passenger seat and Susan climbed in after him; Harry was surprised that there was more than enough room for all three of them.
"The seat's been expanded. Technically, we're not supposed to do this, but getting permission isn't usually very hard for a department head. Anyway, we're off."
"Where do you live?" Harry inquired.
"We live in the City, not far from the Ministry," Susan replied.
"It costs a bit more, but it's more convenient, and that's important when you're in Law Enforcement. I'm often called into the office at odd hours when an emergency arises," Amelia stated. "It'll take us thirty minutes or so to get there. Once we arrive, it'll be time for us to get some sleep. You did have dinner, right?"
"Please, call me Amelia. After what you've been through, you have the right to call me by my name. Besides, I'm your mother-in-law, or will be eventually. We should be friends, don't you think?" Amelia sounded persuasive, almost pleading, and Harry couldn't help but say yes to her.
Once they arrived at an impressive-looking apartment building, Amelia helped Susan carry his trunk into the building and to the elevator, where they rode to the second floor. Once they got out, they walked to the end of the hallway to a door marked "Storage Closet." Amelia tapped the doorknob twice with her wand and opened the door.
Inside, the apartment was comfortably furnished, but not luxurious. Harry saw sofas, chairs, and a couple of coffee tables in the living room to one side, while Amelia levitated the trunk to an unused bedroom.
"This will be your bedroom while you're here. On the seventh, you'll be going to Devon to meet the Flamels, and then I believe the Bulstrodes have asked that you visit them for a week or so," Amelia explained. "Is that alright?"
"Yes, Ma... Amelia." Harry had his doubts, but he couldn't think of a way to tell Amelia about them. He yawned right after he finished; he was quite weary now.
"Good night, Harry. We'll see you in the morning. Is there anything you need tonight?"
"I don't think so. Good night, Amelia," said Harry as the door closed.
The next day, Harry woke up early, having had trouble sleeping even though he had been so tired the previous night.
"Good morning! I'm a bit surprised to see you so soon," Amelia said. "Did you sleep well?"
"Okay, I guess," Harry replied. He really didn't want Amelia to worry too much about him.
Amelia took harry gently by the shoulder and looked him in the eye. "Is there something I can help you with? I really do want to make you as comfortable as I can while you're here, Harry. I know you haven't encountered many adults that you can trust, but I'd like to be one of them," she said quietly. She was sure that Harry wasn't telling her something, but couldn't put her finger on what.
"No, really, I'm fine. I just needed to... adjust to a different bed," Harry responded warily.
"Well, if there's something you want to say, just tell me. I'll be home all day today, but I have to go to work tomorrow. I believe you and Susan are mature enough to take care of yourselves."
That day was spent mostly reading and listening to the Wizarding Wireless, which Harry had not seen before. There were a lot of stations with witches singing about how wonderful love was, a broadcast Quidditch match where the Harpies mauled the Cannons ("I bet that'll make Megan happy," Harry said after seeker Victoria Bailey captured the Snitch), and a couple of news broadcasts that seemed to say nothing at considerable length. The commercials for new brooms and spell ingredients were mostly forgettable, but the Quibbler ad, read by a nervous-sounding Xeno Lovegood, obviously new to commercials, was a bit more interesting.
"Why did you run against Fudge?" Harry asked over a generous dinner that evening. Amelia had prepared a honey-glazed ham with lots of bread and mashed potatoes for the three of them and, judging by the size of the portions, a couple of visitors who hadn't arrived yet.
Amelia put down her knife and fork and thought for a few seconds. Then she said, "I knew Fudge well when we were younger."
"Back in the Stone Age, Auntie?" needled Susan.
"Not quite that long ago, sweetheart. It was back in the 1950s. He was an up-and-comer in Magical Games and Sports, while I worked with the Council of Magical Law. I knew he would be a popular fellow. He was very outgoing, very smart, and very ambitious," Amelia reminisced. "He bounced around a lot, and was promoted rapidly. By the time the War got serious, he was with the Department of Magical Catastrophes, trying to keep the effects from becoming known to Muggles. He was good at that job, too, and made a lot of friends. Meanwhile, I was climbing the ranks in Law Enforcement, working with the Wizengamot, mostly."
"Then what happened?" Harry asked.
"Fudge and I both made friends among the wealthy and connected wizards and witches- I saw them at Wizengamot meetings and ceremonies, and he saw them in the course of his duties and at outside parties. When Susan came to me," she paused to choose her words carefully, "he got a bit of an advantage because I couldn't stay on the social circuit. He did a better job of buttering up Minister Bagnold, and she enorsed him when she decided to retire."
"So then, why did you run against him?" Harry repeated.
"Our departments were always competing for money from the budget, and I had to develop political skills or else I would go under. And I didn't like some of the things he said after becoming Minister. He seemed to have been... influenced by his rich and powerful friends. He called fewer Wizengamot meetings than Bagnold, and he seems to trust us less. He didn't do much to meet the needs of regular wizards until just before the election," Amelia concluded. "But I had allies, too, and they decided I would be the logical candidate against him. We thought we were going to win. I was sure of it!"
"Then what happened?" asked Susan.
"We may have been a little overconfident, and Dumbledore and the Prophet came in on Fudge's side. I can see the Prophet, because many of their contributors have worked for him and he still tells a good story. But I'm wondering why Dumbledore did- he didn't seem to have a high opinion of Fudge two years ago. Maybe Fudge won him over with all those owls he sent. Dumbledore likes to feel that he's important, like all of us, and having the Minster regularly ask you for advice is very flattering," Amelia concluded.
"Can I have seconds, Amelia?" Harry asked after a minute or so.
"Certainly, Harry. Eat as much as you want. I get the idea that you don't have to worry about overeating at Privet Drive, do you?"
"Not exactly," Harry conceded.
"Well, you won't have that problem tonight. We'll probably have some leftovers for tomorrow, and there is plenty of other food in the pantry and the cooler that you're welcome to," Amelia said.
After the three of them had eaten as much as they could hold, Amelia cleared the plates away; she explained that they went into the cooler or into the sink to wash themselves.
Amelia announced, "I may have to work late tomorrow; I'll let you know when I can come home. Good night, Harry. Just remember that if you need anything, we're here for you."
The sixth was a quiet day for Harry and Susan. Susan conifded that her parents had been among Voldemort's victims, not long after she was born, according to Amelia. Her mother had been a muggle, and the Death Eatera disapproved of that, lethally. She had lived with Amelia ever since, and by and large had been happy with her life. She had been tutored, and seemed about even with Harry in general knowledge, but her information about the Muggle world was a bit scanty; Harry was glad to answer her questions about movies and television, and she answered his about Wizarding customs as best she could. It was a pleasant conversation, on the whole.
Early that evening, Amelia Bones called Tonks into her office.
"What can I do for you?" inquired the metamorph.
"Unfortunately, Fudge just called the Department Heads into a meeting. God only knows how long it will be. I need you to tell Susan and Harry that I won't be coming home until late," groused Amelia.
"Harry's staying with you?"
"Just until tomorrow. After that, he'll be going somewhere else with me," Amelia said.
"I thought he had to stay at Privet Drive for some reason," Tonks mused.
"He did, but that's done with."
"Do you want me to go over there?" Tonks inquired.
"I don't think that will be necessary, but I think I can arrange it," Amelia said slowly.
"Could you please? Anything would be better than another evening with the Medical Department," Tonks groused.
"Miss Tonks," Amelia said more formally, "you have considerable potential as an Auror, but you failed your Stealth and Tracking class resoundingly. You really cannot go any further until you pass that class, and that requires figuring out what is wrong with your..."
"Don't say it..." Tonks pleaded.
"Proprioception," Amelia finished. "And they've come up with another idea on how to fix it."
"That's become my second least favorite word," Tonks grumbled.
Proprioception is the body's sense of where various body parts are, relative to each other. It's a necessary part of moving with any kind of coordination, speed, or stealth.
Unfortunately, probably due to her metamorphing abilities, Tonks had no such sense. For example, on an obstacle course designed to test her ability to stay low and move quickly, she started crawling along until she came up witht he idea of running in a crouch. To make this easier, she shortened her legs so that her back wasn't hurting as much- and found herself tripping over her feet because her legs were only half their previous length. She had developed a tendency to make her body parts fit the situation rather than move them as required, and the results were poor coordination and body shapes that didn't look like any Muggle.
The Medical Department had tried several things to try to fix the problem. Their latest idea seemed really batty to Tonks. Since alcohol is known to damage proprioception (that is the principle behind field sobriety tests), the mediwizards had decided to try giving her Sobriety Sips to see if that could lead to further improvement from her usual level. Sobriety Sips tasted really vile, and so far she hadn't seen any change.
"There's got to be some other way," Tonks urged.
"Until we find it, you can't get any further with the training. But that's a matter for another day," Amelia concluded. "After you give them this message, you can go home."
A whoosh from the fireplace got the attention of Harry and Susan. When they ran over to the fire, Susan drew her wand as Tonks' face appeared, but then she put it away when she recognized the face in the fire.
"Amelia says that she won't be home until late. You can have anything that you want to eat, and she will be taking you to the Minstry tomorrow. Then you'll be going to Devon to meet the Flamels. I'll be joining you since I arrived with the Aurors that night," she said, shivering a bit at the memory. "I could come over there in an hour or so, if you like."
"If you want to," Harry said. "I'm always glad to see you."
"Such a charming young man! I'd say you'll be a heart-breaker down the road, but your wives might not be happy with that," she teased.
Tonks indeed arrived sixty minutes later, stumbling out of the fire. She said something about "lousy floo connections" that Harry didn't catch. They caught up with each other over dinner, a mix of leftovers and sandwiches, during which Tonks told them about Auror training (but not so much about her Stealth problems). After that, they retired to the living room until Susan got tired and went to the bedroom.
"Do you know anything about the Flamels?" Harry queried a few minutes later.
"Not really," said Tonks. "I'm looking forward to seeing them; I'm curious about the people who could have made the Philosopher's Stone."
"Me too," Harry muttered.
Tonks considered probing further, but decided against it, figuring he probably didn't need anyone else bothering him.
The next morning, Harry came down from the spare bedroom, looking as tired as the previous two nights. Amelia gathered them together, along with Harry's trunk, a bag for Susan, and both of their brooms. Amelia poured a bit of shiny powder into the fireplace.
"This is called Floo Powder, Harry. We use it to go from one fireplace to another. We cannot go directly to the Flamels' house, because they don't have a connection to the network as a security measure. We'll be meeting the others at the Devon Regional Floo Center, then taking the brooms over to their estate," Susan explained. "The whole process should take about two hours, and we're invited for lunch at noon."
As she spoke, the fire turned green. Amelia said, "Ministry of Magic," walked into the flames, and vanished. Susan and Harry quickly followed suit.
They all landed on their feet in a dimly lit hallway, with many fireplaces sending people in and out. A knot of girls and women was standing near the end of the hall, close to an atrium filled with bright bluish light.
"There they are," yelled Lisa. "Come on, you're the last ones here!"
The three new arrivals joined Harry's other wives, Tonks, Sinistra, and Trelawney, crossed over to another small reception area, waited for a few minutes until the destination sign flipped to "Devon," and disappeared one by one into the fireplace.