It’s amazing, this feeling. I don’t know how to explain it. It feels as if the world somehow, overnight, turned over a new leaf and started over. Now I feel that all those years of fighting, the sleepless weeks, the grueling battles- finally mean something. It’s been eleven years…almost to the day. The day mum, dad, and the others died. I will never forget that day. No, not I- we swore we’d never forget that day.
We fought so hard to give Rose and little Arthur a semblance of what we had when we were growing up, as well all those orphans left behind through the years. They deserve this, they absolutely earned it, that’s for sure. We need to quell the fears, the horrors of the war. Thank Merlin for those brave enough to take some of the kids under their wing and teach magic, but those private schools popping up all over the world subconsciously reminded us that we had to hide, that we weren’t safe anymore to study at a recognized school. But those days are thankfully behind us. Dumbledore finally pulled through.
Hogwarts has officially been re-inaugurated as the premier School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and its doors will once again be opened to all students the day after tomorrow.
I can’t wait. The construction has been going on for nearly eight years. The renovations and additions are magnificent, and it had to be, now it needs to accommodate students from all over the world. I think its fitting though, that the oldest and most recognized school should be the first to be re-opened. The others are good, of course, but Hogwarts is special.
Out of the sixteen institutes of magic spread across the globe, Hogwarts was renowned to have produced the best magi of our times. Great Wizards: Marlin the Magnificent of the fifteenth century, Ostwald Bordon of the twelfth, Castellen Clearwater from the eighteenth, Ismalda Parkinson- one of the earliest healers, Minerva McGonagall, Randalf Ravenclaw, Nicolas Flannel, Albus Dumbledore, Tom Riddle -all from the nineteenth, and now - the two most recent names added to that exclusive list: Hermione Granger and Harry Potter.
With all that talent coming out of there, it’s no wonder why they went after it first, those bastards.
Malfoy knew what he was doing. With the Tragedy of St. Theresa’s wiping out most of the senior members of the Order, no one was able to stop him. The magical protection on the walls weren’t enough. Percy tried his best, but it was too much for him to handle so soon after his nomination as Minister. That day we lost Ferdinand and Jacobsen as well, and without those two, it was all over for the Auror squadrons. Out of the two battalions deployed to apprehend him, only seventeen wizards made it back alive.
Hogwarts had fallen, and the psychological impact that had on wizards and witches throughout the world was devastating. Percy did what he thought best, and immediately started to rebuild the military might of the Ministry using sleeper cells all over the country to train wizards in secret. I must say, he did a fantastic job, considering what Diggory had done to literally destroy the entire fleet from the inside out.
Since Mum and Dad passed, Percy had changed. He’s now hard as nails. Well, he had to be. Everyone was looking up to him to stop the Dark Sons of Magic.
With Potter and Malfoy at either ends of the seemingly never ending battle, the Ministry was bound to get sandwiched in between. It was always uphill, but we dug down, got the job done, and now, it’s all worth it. We have our school back.
I wouldn’t forget Rose’s face when we told her Hogwarts was reopening. She’d seen all the pictures, read Hogwarts: A History; almost three times already. She’s ecstatic, and I guess we are too. After nearly two decades of fighting with Voldemort, Malfoy and Lestrange, things are finally looking up. Soon, we’ll be back to normal, soon we’ll finally have peace.
“Jacques, come on, let’s get going.”
Jacques Potter grabbed his carry on case and entered the boarding gate at the JFK Airport in New York. He hated planes. He was on too many too count while growing up. Hopefully, he won’t have to go on another one once he reached Scotland.
Another country, another school- it was all the same. He was going to lose his few friends, going to lose his home, heck he even was going to lose his Playstation because the stupid thing won’t work across there. He grumbled under his breath as he gave his mother a scalding look at the back of her head. What was all the rush? Why were they leaving in the first place? And most importantly, why couldn’t he remember the trip back from Barbados?
Something was only bugging him. He didn’t know what, but he knew there was something …different about him now. His body felt sort of tingly, and his muscles ached sporadically at random moments. His senses were more perceptive, that he knew for sure, his eyes were now better than ever, his hearing somehow spiked whenever he wanted to really listen in on something, and his reflexes, whoo boy- he thought he was quick before, but now it was kind of, abnormal, he didn’t know another way to explain it. Like that day, at the baseball match, when Mom dropped her soda as the ball was hit directly at her in the stands. He caught it inches away from her face and with the other hand, caught the drink that fell from her fingers, not even spilling a drop. The expression on her face was freaky. And then came like her favourite words of all time, words he absolutely hated:
“Come on, Jacques, let’s get going.”
Sometimes it wasn’t the words alone, but how she said it. If he had a dollar for every time she said that, he’d be able to give snooty George McArthur a run for his money. Rich, stupid idiot and his showoff-ness. Hated him too. Well, that’s one person he wouldn’t miss. They boarded the plane and took their seats. Jacques immediately took out his hand held videogame and tucked the earpiece headphones in his ears, immediately shutting everything else out.
Hermione Granger looked sideways down at her son, her insides in turmoil. She couldn’t risk it anymore. He knew about Jacques. She mailed Albus the moment she got back home. The Professor reassured her that he was capable of looking after Jacques at Hogwarts, and she need not worry for his safety. She trusted Albus Dumbledore implicitly, and decided then and there that she was not going to keep up the charade anymore. And in her heart she knew she could not do that to her son.
As a muggleborn, she knew how special it was to be blessed with the opportunity to learn the ways of magic. How could she now turn hypocrite and deny such an obviously talented individual that very same right? It tore at her, wanting to keep her son away from that world. She also knew that by doing so it would be a gross disrespect to those who fought so hard and died to once again make Hogwarts a place wizards could learn the secret arts.
She owed it to those who had fallen, and she owed it to her son.
Difficult times lay ahead, and Jacques needed every advantage he could get.
“All right boys, remember what I told you, this isn’t like the muggle mall back home. That means: No Ingreasium incantations, No tripping hexes, No swip-swapping spells, no accio actions for the fun of it-” Rebecca frowned at Apollo’s and Marcus’ feigned ignorance “-that is to say: shoplifting, no confundus charms, tied-tongue tricks, farting phantasms, butterfly belly befuddlements. What else? Oh yes: No heckling hexes, engorgio enchantments and cuckoo curses, and this one for you especially Apollo-”.
“Me? What did I do mum?” he asked innocently, a playful smirk on his face.
“No Werewolf fangs! You have no idea how much trouble it was to modify all those memories of those people before they got out of the bookstore! One of them in particular was an Auror! He could have caused us some trouble if I didn’t do him first!”
“It was just a prank, mum. He wasn’t going to bite anyone!” Marcus came up to his brother’s defense.
“A prank? Your brother had what appeared to be blood dripping down his mouth, his fangs bared in front of a packed bookstore! Do you know the repercussions of seeing a teenaged werewolf in London?”
“Technically, I’m not a teenager, neither a werewolf,” Apollo countered, a smirk on his face.
“What? That’s not the point! To everyone else, you are! Or could have been! Or something!” Rebecca said hysterically.
Both boys just stood there, playful grins on their faces.
Rebecca sighed, a smile slowly spreading across her face. What was the point in arguing? Their mischief was contagious. Her boys were so handsome. Their fathers would be proud. She crouched down in front of them and tenderly placed a hand on their cheeks.
“Now I told you both that you two are a bit more …well...advanced than wizards your age, but remember what your father told you: You are not to reveal your true strengths! We did not teach you magic at such an early age so you can abuse it, understood? We must treat everyone with respect, no matter their wizarding heritage- or lack thereof, age, or magical ability.”
“Okay, okay we get it,” Apollo said in a defeated tone. “I won’t do the fangs thing again.”
“Yeah, I’ll behave.”
“Right, there would be a lot of people shopping today, but that makes it easier for us to blend in. I want you two on your best behaviour, or else I take you both back home and pick out your stuff for you. Now you won’t want that, now would we?” Rebecca drew her veil across her face and took each boy’s hand in hers as they entered Diagon Alley.
She was right. The two boys were instantly captivated by the throngs of people going to and from the various magical shops. Marcus’ green eyes sparkled as he took it in: all the banners, the floating mascots that invited shoppers to come in and buy, the dancing puppets that juggled cauldrons nearly three times their size. Apollo looked up and smirked.
“Hey, Ares, check it out-!” he pointed to the advertisement in the sky, brightly glowing neon words scrolling across the clouds.
Need to clear away the class for skiving? Teacher giving you a hard time? Behold: the latest Farting Phantasms! Now comes with programmable flatulence sound effects!
The Boomer! The Squelcher! And everyone’s favourite- The Ripper! Special Discount for First Years!
Come and Check us: Fred and George at Weasley’s Wizarding Wheezes!
“Hah! I knew this would have been a great idea! Mom-” Marcus turned to her.
“What do you mean ‘no’?”
“Just what it means, no,” she said, not even looking up at the ridiculous advertisement.
“You don’t even know what I was going to ask!” Marcus countered.
“I know. I’ve seen it. I said no. What animal would you like, boys?”
“Who said anything about animals?”
“Well we’re here at the pet shop-”
“You’re avoiding the topic again, mom…”
“And that would be?”
“We should check out Forge’s-”
“I thought that topic is closed- Excuse me, so sorry!” Rebecca apologized to the brown haired witch she accidentally bumped into. Apparently the witch was in such a hurry she didn’t even recognize the apology. “How rude- And Marcus, no- we are not going to that prank shop. We have to get your books and some more robes for school for you two.”
“I thought we had to be sorted first-“
“Yes. I meant, everyday robes. You father said you are forbidden to wear street clothes in school.”
“Dad said that?”
“Yes,” Rebecca lied. She would not have them wearing muggle clothes at Hogwarts. It would be disrespectful to their deceased fathers. They were wizards, and should be proud to wear them.
While Rebecca and Marcus bickered about the Farting Phantasms and which were his favourite jeans and why we would wear them anyway, Apollo was staring hard at the witch Rebecca had bumped into on their way towards the pet shop. Like their mother, her face was hidden by a veil. But that wasn’t the reason she caught his attention. At her side was a dark haired boy, and he found it uncanny that his hair stuck up at all angles like Ares’. And why would a young wizard who knew better- have a pair of headphones on? Those things were useless here.
“Apollo, come on!” Marcus beckoned, nudging him to follow. “What are you staring at?” Apollo swore under his breath. He lost them with that distraction.
“Nothing, just thought I… nah, just my imagination,” said Apollo, shaking his head.
“Come on, I want to show you this cool snake! I think mom’ll get it for me-” Marcus said excitedly, pulling Apollo by the sleeve of his elbow. Apollo followed him reluctantly, trying to catch sight of them once again. It was futile, so he turned into the store to see what all the commotion was about.
“So you mean to tell me, that I’m going to a boarding school for wizards?” Jacques said as he was carried around from place to place. “As in magic? Abra Kedabra and Open sesame?”
“Abara Kedabara is the incantation for the procurement of a bouquet of perennial flowers actually,” Hermione responded tight lipped.
“Really? Okaay then…” Jacques said. “Pardon me if I think this is still hard to believe, mom. I mean, this place alone is fantastic, but a boarding school for magic? Is this another one of those “stories” you tell me to cover up the strange things that happen to me sometimes?”
“I don’t appreciate that tone, Jacques,” Hermione said, her nerves frayed. They just had a nine hour flight and as soon as they landed she booked the hotel, dropped their luggage then came directly here. She was exhausted. Jacques wasn’t even phased one bit, or physically tired one iota. That made her uneasy. Actually, the fact he was taking everything so calmly made her uneasy.
“I don’t appreciate being toted around the world like a piece of luggage, but I’m not complaining, am I?” Jacques shot back. Hermione remained quiet. She knew she could have handled this better. But those two weeks between the attack and now had her nerves on edge.
He was supposed to be dead.
Now, she and the headmaster were the only people who knew different, so now it was up to her to finish what she started almost twelve years ago. She needed to return to her research on the Counter for the Resuscitarius curse. To do that, she had find material hidden in the ruins of magical institutions all over the world. In the meantime, she needed Dumbledore to protect Jacques. They couldn’t allow these developments to be known, not even to the Order. It was imperative that his re-emergence was not leaked to the public at large. Jacques needed to be informed. It was either now or never.
“Let’s go and have an ice cream. I have something I want to tell you,” she said softly. They both sat at a table outside the ice cream shop under the shade of the striped canvas, eating their sundaes in relative quiet. People walked in and out of the store, most ignoring or only giving uninterested glances at the two of them as they sat there in quiet normalcy. Hermione’s heart raced, this was too sudden, too unexpected even for her. Usually she would have time to prepare, time to plan out all she wanted to say. There was no time for that now.
“Jacques- you need to understand that this may be a shock. You were very ill for almost a week after the trip back, that’s why you may have some...headaches now and then..”
“Serious? What do you mean?”
“I saw the nightmares that were running through your mind- it kept you back from regaining full consciousness. Don’t worry hon, I sorted it out, you’re fine now,” she smiled reassuringly. “And you’ll be going somewhere safe: Hogwarts was where I went to school as well. It’s a beautiful place, and you’ll love it there.”
“Somewhere safe implies that I’m in danger…doesn’t it?” Jacques asked. Hermione frowned. She would have to be careful what she said here.
“There was a hijack attempt on the Stargazer. A powerful witch tried to attack me, and in the process she sunk the boat. I have to find out what happened and who was behind the attack. You understand, honey? Jacques- I understand that this may be a shock to you. You were mentally incoherent for almost a week after this happened, so I had to modify your memory of it until you were feeling better, that’s why you feel as if you cannot remember the trip back, and for that, I’m sorry.”
“Modified my memory?” Jacques tensed, looking at her aghast. “You can do that?” She nodded reluctantly.
“Yes. It’s not safe for the two of us to be together right now, and I want you to learn how to use magic to protect yourself. Albus Dumbledore is a great man, you can trust him. He’s the headmaster, and any time you have any kind of strange nightmares or ultra realistic daydreams, you go and talk to him, you hear me? Don’t wait a moment; it’s important that you tell him as soon as possible. Can you promise me that?”
Jacques nodded. “Okay, I guess. Mom- I need to ask you something.”
“Yes?” Jacques twisted in his chair, looking around at the crowds bustling from one shop to another.
“So…I am a wizard then. I can do magic, and this isn’t…well, this is for real.” he nodded at all the fantastic things going on all about him.
“I think you know the answer to that already,” she said solemnly. “But yes, this is ‘for real’.”
“I thought as much. I always believed I was different, even from a long time ago. I’m just making sure I’m not dreaming again or something...”
Hermione studied her son. He was the splitting image of his father, no mistake about that. However, he wasn’t as quick tempered, neither as impetuous as Harry.
That was a good thing. His maturity for his age was amazing.
“Come on, lets finish get your stuff and then head on home. We have to pack everything tonight; you have another long day tomorrow.”
“I still find it brilliant all our kids are around the same age. A great year for babies I must say!” Fred told his younger brother as they congregated at the junction between the ninth and tenth platforms at King’s Cross. George whistled in agreement.
“Feels like Christmas dinner all over again, you know, we really should get together more often, Ronald,” George added a touch of sorrow in his voice.
“Well, things are looking up, we’ll be able to do just that-” Ron said with a grim satisfaction. “Christmas is on me this year, right? Can’t wait. This’ll be their first term at Hogwarts.” His wife Cho was at the moment charming little Arthur’s clothes clean after he spilled some of his juice all down the front, Arthur’s eyes opening wide as he saw his hand knitted shirt magically become dry once again. Rose could barely be contained; she looked like she was just itching to run headfirst into that column dividing the two platforms and be whisked off on the magical red train. Randalf and Richard were going through their Chocolate Frog Cards, making sure they knew what they were missing before they began their hustle on board the train. They were slightly older than Rose who had just turned eleven, in a few months time the twins would twelve.
Jennifer and Jessica Weasley, George’s twins; were alert, scanning all the wizards and witches bustling along towards the entryway to platform 9 ¾ and to the Hogwarts express. Little Arthur stood out a bit from everyone else, he rich, dark brown hair instead of the customary cherry blond or flaming red of Rose, and the two sets of twins. He was a year younger than them, he would be ten in five months, and (much to his disappointment) would not be attending this year. Fred’s wife, Alicia was at her husband’s side watching her sons sentimentally, her eyes watering so that they glistened.
She was so happy to see her boys go off to school. It was rare for all of them to be together like this, and it touched her heart to see all of their kids at ease. They were all here, well everyone except Ginny and Percy.
“Jess, what’s wrong?” George asked the younger of his twin daughters. She shook her head, and as tears began to fall, their father took both of his girls in his arms. “I know, I know, I miss her too.”
All around them were children walking through the portal with both parents, their mother included. Four years ago, at the Battle of Cardiff that she died in the final campaign against Lestrange on the fields of his estate. She was a renowned Auror, and Ginny’s best friend.
Marianna Shacklebolt was a hero, and George missed her dearly up to this day. His heart had hardened over the years, and he knew how Percy felt. Losing his wife Penelope and his infant daughter in the first year of his Term was a crushing blow to him, and since then, he had taken on a disposition that was cold and calculating. Ruthless and decisive to almost a fault, Percy Weasley had restored the Ministry’s strength from the bottom up, assembling an army almost entirely in secret to strike the counteroffensive.
He had to give it to their sole older brother; he was a true Gryffindor and was not afraid to make the hard decisions when it really mattered. If it weren’t for him and their younger brother Ron, the reconstruction of Hogwarts never would have come to fruition. Cho had finished cleaning Arthur’s clothes and was now whispering something into Ron’s ear. Ron nodded, looking at his brother consoling the twins.
“Come on girls, pucker up, you’d be with your cousins at school, Randy and Rick would take good care of you, right lads?” George said in their general direction, a bright smile on his face.
“Oi, what’s that?” Richard asked, a twinkle in his eye. It clicked and he gave them a thumbs up. “Don’t fret it Jess, we’d stick around!”
“Yep, nothing to worry about, Dad let us swindle some stuff. We’re good to go!” Randy added. Fred eyes’ opened in alarm.
“You idiot!” Rick hissed. “Mom doesn’t know!” he whispered fiercely. Luckily, Alicia was too busy wiping the corner of her eye to hear that last comment. Digging into her bag, she procured an incredibly huge camera that looked like it had no business even fitting inside her neat purse.
“Okay darlings-” Rick and Randy immediately soured, “- picture time! Okay, boys in the back, girls in front, wait no, you girls are taller than Arthur and Rose, so go by height then- yes that’s it, okay! Everyone come in closer now!” Alicia ducked a bit, and fidgeted with the old fashioned dials and cranks on the camera, adjusting the flash for best lighting. “Okay everyone, say Butterbeer!”
There was a half hearted cheer from the kids and then a loud PHASH! and the picture was taken. Cho and Alicia began to gush over the cute faces in the picture while the men folk took the handles of their trunks and luggage as they began to tote it towards the column.
“All right, Rick, Randy, you go first,” Cho ordered.
“Go where?” Rick said, completely lost.
“Fred! I thought you told them last night,” Alicia said reprovingly.
“I forgot,” Fred chuckled. “Come on lads, just run through that wall there-” he pointed.
“That’s it? What if I knock myself out?” Randalf countered.
“Come on, Randy, stop being a chicken-” Rick grabbed his brother’s hand and the both of them ran right through the wall. Rose shifted weight anxiously, ready to spring, waiting for her turn. Fred and Alicia went next, taking their children’s luggage with them.
“Girls, you’re up,” Cho directed Jessica and Jennifer. Both of them nodded and walked through without much enthusiasm. George sighed and followed soon after. Cho smiled sadly, then turned to her son and daughter. “Come on kids, we’ll all go together, all right?”
“Yes!” Rose said excitedly. Cho took Arthur’s and Rose’s hand in each of hers and gave them a squeeze.
“Okay, on three; one, two...three!” All three of them ran into the entryway and vanished. Ron took a deep breath. The last time he was here, his father had told him never to sell himself short, and his mother had told him that she was so proud of him.
That was over twelve years ago. His father and mother had passed, but he never forgot what they said that day. It had given him strength, they had given him purpose.
Ronald Weasley chuckled under his breath. Awarded the Order of Merlin First class, currently leader of The Order of The Phoenix and division commander of the H.A.C.K. investigative Auror division- plus the one who finally defeated the Dark Lord Azrael. He had accomplished great deeds before the age of thirty three. As he walked through the barrier to platform 9 ¾ he smiled in satisfaction.
All of it still couldn’t compare to seeing his daughter smile like that, a truly genuine conveyance of her feelings. This is what they were all fighting for.
In front of him hundreds of kids were bustling about, parents and well wishers swarming about as they bade their loved ones farewell. The crowd was so thick he could actually feel the excitement in the air.
“Daddy! There it is! Just like you said!” Rose pointed at the blazing Red Hogwarts express. “It’s so pretty!” She grabbed her father around his waist, and Ron oomphed with her fierce hug.
“Yes honey, there it is, just like I said it would, eh?” he agreed. He stooped down to talk to her. “Daddy is very proud of you. Never sell yourself short, Rose. I love you.” He hugged her, and in that motion he spotted a young boy further down, his hair spiking in all directions. A pair of headphones was covering his ears, apparently he was having some problems getting his player to work. At his side was a witch with a veil covering her face, her bushy brown tresses unmistakable, even under her disguise.
“Oh my god!” he whispered. “Cho- it’s her.” He said in an incredulous whisper. “Guys!” he let go of his daughter, never losing sight of the two of them.
“What is it?” Alicia asked, looking in his direction. Her eyes widened as she also put two and two together. “Is that…Hermione?” she said, he jaw dropping.
“Yep, looks like it,” Fred agreed. “And I guess-” Fred laughed. “No way, he looks exactly like him.”
“Splitting image, except without the glasses. That’s Harry’s son, no doubt about it,” George commented.
“Come on, Let’s go talk to her,” said Ron.
There she is.
Harry Potter stood about fifteen metres away, a pair of large black shades covering his eyes, his long hair blocking a good look of the scar that ran down the left side of his face. He wore a nondescript robe, the boots on his feet made out of common leather. Pulling a heavily used low-brimmed hat on his head, he made his way forward. The potion’s effects were fading, he had to make his move soon. There were so many people here, the different sounds and smells assaulting his senses. Hunching his back a bit and putting a tremble unto his non-descript cane, the blind man tried his best to use his dampened Leglimens’ ability to navigate through the crowd.
A little under one hour.
Even his strongest experiments with the Magic Nullifying potion could give him only that. It had taken him nearly six years to complete the first draft which lasted barely a minute, but at this level, even if it was for only an hour, it was worth it. That was his son, and he wanted to meet him. There were nearly four dozen Aurors, magical wards, and Dark magic detectors were everywhere.
His eyes alone would trigger any sort of security measures against lethal or cursed objects, but he needed to get in contact with him. The problem was, right now he was virtually defenseless, no magic, he was almost completely blind- and he had to find a way to get them alone. With all the security -if it came down to a fight, the only chance he had was being able to fight fully armed wizards barehanded for the next ten minutes.
He’s faced worse odds before. He’d find a way if it came down to that.
He approached carefully, blind wizards were a rarity, and he could not attract too much attention or it was all over. A slight smile tugged on his face.
If these people only knew who was stalking through them at this very moment…
As he came within earshot distance, a wave of joyous emotion flooded in from the left, approaching where the woman and his son stood. A particualr magical aura stood out amongst the four, wait, no- three men and two women approaching. He recognized that person as a very gifted wizard. Gifted in the Ravenclaw sense, to be precise. In his wake were some young ones, he could not identify the numbers distinctively. Slowing down, he leaned against a column, looking around in slight curiosity, as if waiting for someone.
He chuckled at his own little charade. ‘Looking around for someone’- It still amused him how a blind man at a train station was hoping to ‘see’ someone he’s never met before.
Harry, Harry…you may have some of your past back, but you’re still a nutcase. Resting his weight comfortably against the support pillar, he focused whatever little magic he had to listen in on the conversation.
“Hello, stranger,” Ron said as they approached. The lady turned, and her eyes widened in familiarity.
“Ron!” she said from underneath her veil. At first she was hesitant, but then she walked over and gave him a hug of all hugs. Ron took her in a bone crushing embrace, this day could very well be one of the most memorable days of his life. Actually, no- it was one of the most memorable days of his life. He laughed out loud.
“It’s been twelve long years, Granger! Do you have any idea how much we’ve missed you!?” he said sternly, a huge grin on his face. “Come on, off with that thing, let me see you!” he said tugging her veil playfully.
“That right, Hermione,” George added. “You’ve been a stranger far too long. Let’s do away with the secrets.”
Hermione smiled, and slowly she took off the veil protecting her face.
“WAY!” came the alternative exclamations from Richard and Randalf. “It can’t be- you’re on the cards!”
“Cards?” Ron asked his nephews.
“I thought- wow- this is unreal-” Randy said, pulling out the chocolate frog card marked ‘Hermione Jane Granger-‘
Ron took it, and then looked up at Hermione. It was her. “Wow, Hermione, you’re on the cards.”
“Didn’t I just say that?” Randy said in exasperation.
“Well, it says here she saved countless lives- even the legendary hero, Harry “The Boy Who Lived” Potter ….” Richard added.
Jacques looked up questioningly at his mother.
Hermione’s face dropped for a moment at her son’s accusing glare then she changed the topic. “Okay, I think it’s time for some introductions. Ron, is that Rose and Arthur? This is Jacques. He’ll be joining all of you in first year as well. Isn’t that great?” she said to Ron’s kids, her smile a tad more forced than necessary. So much for her attempt at subterfuge. The Chocolate Card makers were making it very difficult for her to remain incognito, and if she planned to stay here longer, more and more people would recognize her.
A few feet behind them, a lone man shuffled on his feet. Ron… he remembered that name. That was the man he dueled with almost five years ago. Frowning, he dipped his head and continued on his eavesdropping.
“Jacques, I’ve been waiting a long time to meet you,” Ron took the young boy’s hand. Shaking it, he was not surprised when the boy returned it with a strong grip. “It’s a pleasure.”
“Nice to meet you, sir,” Jacques said politely.
Randy and Rick snickered at the boy’s half American, half English accent. Fred gave their boys a warning glare and continued the introductions of the Weasley family. “Richard- Randalf- Arthur, then its Jessica, Jennifer, and Rose, you know Alicia, and I’m the infamous Fred Weasley,” he shook her hand enthusiastically. “Right dandy it is to meet such a charming young lass such as yourself, Ms Granger,” he took her hand and gave her a grand bow.
“Jacques, these are old school friends of mine- well Ronald is my best friend, and that’s his wife, and those two gentlemen are his twin older brothers, Fred and George,” Hermione paused. “Where’s Ginny?”
“Working. Actually, If I am correct she should be here on duty,” Ron explained.
“Oh,” Hermione nodded. “She’s still in the Elite right?”
“Yep. Dennis and Colin are here as well… So is Corner…”
“Not much for them to do these days I hope,” Hermione said, even though to her own ears it sounded like such a falsehood she couldn’t even comprehend how she could have even let that slip.
Ginny..Ginny…could they mean the red haired witch? I admired her. She was talented…not a match for me though…but she was persistent...
As the conversation elapsed, he could feel his time slipping away. Quickly, he thought up a plan to get Jacques alone…
Concentrating, he began to focus on the young man standing next to the Granger witch. Getting inside his head, he ‘nudged’ the nerve centre that controlled his waste functions and then exited as quickly as he entered.
“And well work is getting a bit tedious, but that’s good…” Ron broke off seeing that something was bothering Hermione’s son. “Jacques?” he asked, concerned. “Everything okay?”
Jacques blinked once or twice as he felt a slight headache come on. “Yeah, I’m okay, just a little headache.”
“You sure?” Hermione asked nervously. “Want to go and wash your face?” she asked.
“Yeah, I need to go take a leak,” he agreed, suddenly feeling the urge to pee.
“Okay,” Hermione said. “Come with me.”
Smiling, the stranger followed at a distance as the both of them headed to the toilets.
Ginny Weasley could not believe her eyes. At first, she did not even think it was possible, but she was not mistaken.
That man in the hat was the Dark Lord Azrael himself. She could not create a panic, neither could she raise an alarm. She had to handle this quietly, and quickly. Signaling her specialist unit into action, she gave the signal that she had spotted a possible threat. Without another word, she commanded them to converge towards the toilets along the eastern walls. As they drew closer, she recognized the woman entering the corridor.
Hermione was here?! And who was that? Is that her son? She raised her hand and closed her fist. All the members of her elite stopped, each giving her brief glances in her direction.
“Caucasian woman with brown hair and the dark haired boy entering the toilets...see them?” she whispered into her headpiece. “They are possible hostages. Proceed with extreme caution. Neutralize the man with the black hat for questioning as soon as he is out of sight of the crowds. Please enchant the silencer on your weapons. We cannot have a panic in these conditions, understood?”
“All right...you tell us when.” Michael radioed back.
“I have a visual on both the target and non hostiles. At this angle, I should be able to intercept and prevent further escalation of the situation. Do I have the green light?” Colin Creevy responded.
“No. We need to get in close. We can’t let him slip away. If you miss, that may be the sole chance we get.”
“Understood- I’m ready when you are.”
“Dennis, use the Omosius to walk through the wall and get in from the northern corner, Colin and I’ll enter from the doorway. Michael, you make sure no one enters after us, stand watch at the door,” Ginny commanded as they approached the toilets. Colin and Ginny took positions at the doorway to the corridor leading down to the toilets. He knew there were two doors on the left, one for male and one for female, and on the right was probably a service closet for cleaning equipment. He could not see down the entire length of the narrow hall without actually poking his head around the corner, but from what he could see, it was empty.
Ginny issued the command for Dennis to enchant the wall. Drawing an outline with the tip of his wand, Dennis charmed the solid wall so that he could pass right through it at the other end. She then gave another nod, and the three specialists entered the corridor, Colin and Ginny taking either side of the four foot wide hallway while Dennis appeared lower down.
Harry’s muscles were screaming with the effort as he pressed against the narrow walls high above their heads. Sweat was beading down his nose, but he had to hold on for a bit longer. Luckily the low-hanging light fixtures created a shadowed effect on the ceiling, giving him enough cover to camouflage with his dark robes. He waited as the two Aurors approached from the entryway, his arms and legs trembling with tension. Just as Dennis put his hand on the doorway to the male bathroom further down the hall, there was the rustle of robes and he fell from his perch, landing right on top of Colin, instantly knocking him out with a dull thud.
Ginny didn’t hesitate as she drew her wand. Quick as she thought she was, the stranger was much faster. He spun inside of her wrist and grabbed her right hand, wringing her arm counter clockwise as he stepped behind her. Taking a firm grip on her her collar he yanked hard on her neck while forcing her off balance using his right thigh. Her body weight worked against her as he kicked away her right ankle, and during her unbalanced tumble he extended her arm so that her wand pointed at Dennis. Releasing the choke hold he had on her, her spell was finished and a red bolt seared down the hall.
The Stupefy spell connected with the younger Creevy brother, catching him by surprise and instantaneously knocking him out. With a flick of his wrist, a sharp pain ran up her forearm, effectively disarming her. Forcing her back up against him, he effectively locked her left leg with his and wrapped his forearm around her neck, cutting off her air supply. His right hand came up and blocked her mouth, preventing any attempt to scream. She struggled, but the stranger simply put some pressure on the leg lock and on her neck at the same time and her struggles put more strain on her throat instead of effectively getting herself free.
“I did not come here to attack any of you,” said a soft whisper at her ear.
It was nearly thirteen years since she heard Harry’s voice. It was deeper, more composed, yet it was his voice none the less. A shiver ran down her spine as she realized that she was now helpless, caught in the grip of the Ministry’s finest weapon. The three of them, the Ministry’s supposed ‘Elite’ were taken out without even making a sound. Michael was probably still at the exit, keeping watch, oblivious to what was going inside the passageway. It was so quick, she now understood why many of the veterans defected, swearing loyalty to Lord Azrael instead of keeping their jobs at the Ministry.
Even though they were enemies, she had to commend Harry on his skill.
“You nearly had me, Ginevra, but you have much to learn yet,” he said artfully. “Seeing as I can’t hold you like this forever….”
He brought her down with a simple hip toss. On her way down there was a sharp blow to the back of her neck and blackness took over. Ginny slumped to the floor and he gently let her fall so she didn't make any more noise than necessary. Making sure the watch did not expect foul play, he dragged her towards the service door. Opening it, he propped her up inside, then went to retrieve her two fallen comrades. Closing them inside the tiny room, Harry wiped his face with the sleeve of his cloak. It was a long time he had broken out in a sweat.
Taking a deep breath, he knocked on the door to the male bathroom stalls. A female voice answered.
Harry Potter walked in the door, Hermione paying him little mind as he entered the middle of the three stalls. There was unmistakable sound of someone taking a leak in the one adjacent to him. Sitting down on the lid, he whispered through the flimsy partition.
“Hey, Jacques…it’s me…Harry.”
Harry could sense Jacques’ mind going into overdrive at the mention of his name.
“Take it easy, I just want to talk,” he said in a soft tone, trying to keep Jacques calm.
“My mom said never to talk to strangers, and you are supposed to be dead,” Jacques said conversationally, even though his heart was racing.
“Well, I’m here, aren’t I?’ he chuckled. “Don’t let your mom hear us though,” Harry said secretly.
“What do you want?” Jacques whispered. He didn’t seem all that bad.
“I’d like to arrange a time when we could meet again. Take this-” Harry laid a broken half of a mirror on the ground next to Jacques latest Nike sneaker. “If you want to contact me, say my name into the mirror when no one is around to hear you, okay? I have the other half. Remember, only when you are alone.” Harry could feel the potion’s effects were wearing off, and sooner or later, his eyes would trigger the curse detectors. “I have to go now. Goodbye, Jacques.”
Unlatching the stall lock, Harry flushed the unused toilet as he exited. He crossed the span of the washroom towards the faucets and began to wash his hands. Hermione only now began to take notice of the stranger, something about him was familiar…but she couldn’t put her finger on it.
For a moment, her heart skipped and she instinctively called out a name. “Harry?”
There was no response, the man kept rinsing his hands. Not totally convinced, she stretched out with her Occlumens ability. She touched his mind, and found only a tiny portion of magical ability there. Definitely was not him. He was probably just another parent wishing their son or daughter goodbye. Without another word, the man opened the door and exited, gone as silently as he came.
“Jeez, this train is packed!” Apollo said as they navigated through the crowded walkways. “The guy there told me that there are some compartments reserved for first years, maybe we should head there.”
“Seeing as we don’t have much of a choice, yeah, I guess that’s what we have to do,” Ares responded. They made their way to the allocated compartments and found an empty one. They seized the opportunity and settled. “Hey, this isn’t so bad after all.”
“Yeah well, I can’t wait for the sorting,” Apollo remarked, giving Ares a look. He already had his pet snake twirling about his fingers, whispering unintelligible words to it. If Apollo didn’t know his adoptive brother well, it would have freaked him out a bit. The moment he was putting away his pet in his cage, a red haired girl alongside two red haired boys poked their head in.
“Hey,” Rose said, signaling the others. “This one is pretty empty…come on guys!”
Apollo frowned. He should be the decider fo that, not the one who wanted to enter. Rose crossed the threshold, a bright smile on her face.
“Hi! I’m Rose. These are my cousins.” Next came Richard, then Randy, then Jessica, then Jennifer. The rest of them stood there a bit awkwardly, trying to find room for their stuff.
“Whoa! Is this the Hogwarts version of the Flaming Icicles?” Apollo asked, comparing them to the well-known red haired punk group. Just when they were about to reply yet another person squeezed his way in. “And now who is this?- Holy shit…” Apollo nudged his brother. “Check this out- little brother…”
“Would you stop calling me that?” Ares looked up from putting away his snake box in the compartments below. He was a bit alarmed to see so many red haired kids inside here once but the latest addition to their unannounced travel mates made his jaw drop in disbelief. His eyes narrowed at the familiar visage.
“Who are you?”
“I was just going to ask you the same thing…” the other said, also just as stunned.
Ares and Jacques Potter stared at each other, their confounded expressions painting a thousand words. The Weasley troupe also stared at Ares. Randalf laughed.
“Well, it looks like we’ve got yet another set of twins at Hogwarts…or something very freaking close to it…”
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