Azura moaned as she tried to sit up. It was dark, so she couldn’t tell where she landed.
She moved a tentative hand to her throbbing head-she must have hit it in her fall.
“Sister? Is that you?”
Panic swelled inside her. “Season? Where are you?”
“Right here, Zu.” Azura felt a clammy hand on hers. “Hermione and Ginny are here, too.”
“Professor?” Ginny’s voice squeaked. “It’s dark.” Ever since her run in with the Riddle journal, she’d been sucked back in her childhood fear of the shadows.
“I know, love.” Azura felt her back pocket and was relieved to feel the long stem of her wand.
Before Azura could pull it out, a bright light flashed, momentarily blinding the girls.
The light dimmed, and to their horrified shock, was face to face with Lord Voldemort.
Flanked next to him were ex-professor Umbridge, Peter Pettigrew and …Winky?
Hermione flicked her gaze around the room and noted they were back in the Ministry of Magic.
An evil, psychotic laugh echoed off the walls, causing Hermione to bring her gaze back to the Dark Lord.
“Well, well. We meet again…Miss Granger, Miss Weasley. And in the very spot we met last. How…ironic.”
Season and Azura quickly gauged their surroundings. They knew where they were. Their mother, after all, was an Unspeakable. A blue print of the entire ministry was forever stamped in their minds.
Both Ginny and Hermione scowled as the cage they were in disappeared and all four of them were placed in binding charms.
Then, to their surprised horror, levitate quite closely to the very veil that took Sirius’ life.
He did all of this without a wand.
Voldemort chuckled. “I do believe you are in quite a predicament.” Four sugary doughnuts appeared before them. “Treat for my treats?”
Nobody said a word, just either scowled or looked away.
“Now that’s just down right rude. Ah, well. Maybe you’re not hungry. Perhaps when your boys get here you’ll be feeling more sociable.”
Fear rushed in the girl’s eyes as Voldemort laughed and Peter Pettigrew apparated with a POP.
Harry jumped when he felt a hand on his shoulder.
Wood’s face had him sighing in relief.
“Sorry, mate, didn’t mean to scare you.” But Harry noticed his face was etched with worry as well.
Ethan appeared next to him as Ron, Malfoy and Aislinn stopped to listen. “We dunno, man. Can’t find the girls.”
Harry was certain he’d never heard nervousness in his voice before. “What do you mean?”
“Look, we were supposed to meet them both here for a drink at the Three Broomsticks an hour ago. They never showed up. It’s not like them at all.” Wood explained.
“Especially Azura. Girl’s always ahead of schedule for everything. Season’s usually late, but never disappears without telling me.”
“Hermione and my sister are gone, too.” Ron added in a small voice.
“Something’s wrong.” Harry repeated. “My scar burns and I don’t like it.”
Malfoy studied him through curious eyes. “That thing really does hurt when something’s not right, doesn’t it?”
He could only nod as Aislinn placed a cooling hand to his forehead.
Ron was going to comment, but a voice cut him off.
“I know where your friends are.”
The familiar voice had Harry’s blood boiling as they all faced a hooded figure.
“Hog’s Head. Five minutes.” And he was gone.
“Was…was th-" Ron stammered.
“Yes.” Harry answered through gritted teeth. He wasn’t sure how his wand ended up in his hand, but it pulsed with anger.
“Care to fill us in?” Ethan asked.
“On the way to Hog’s Head.”
As Harry told his tale, fear knotted in Malfoy’s throat.
If Pettigrew knew where the girls were, that meant the Dark Lord had them. Surely they’d be taken wherever they were being held… and knew he wouldn’t be pleased to see Malfoy hanging around Harry Potter.
Blood Traitor equaled death.
Hog’s Head didn’t have the jovial ambiance of the Three Broomsticks. It was dim, smoky, and felt unwelcome. A bizarre stench resembling a little of goat wafted through the air.
Aislinn instinctively latched onto Harry hands, partially in fear, partially to keep herself in check when she met the person responsible for her father’s imprisonment, and though indirectly, his death.
This is where she and Sirius were very much alike. Behind the cool and affable elegant manner was a ferocious, wild temper.
They spotted Peter in a booth at the far end of the pub. His back was to them and he was nervously sipping on what was probably Firewhisky.
Six bodies uneasily made their way towards the booth as various eyes bore into their backs,
When they sat, both Harry and Aislinn scowled with simmering anger.
“Give me one reason why I shouldn’t hex you right now.”
Pettigrew’s speech, as always, was erratic and wavering. “I expect such animosity from you, Harry. And you, Miss Black. Yes, I know who you are.” He added, gesturing with his mason jar as she rose a brow in surprise. “But please, listen. Your friends are in danger.”
“So we gathered.” Wood spat. “Let’s have it.”
Pettigrew took a sip of his Firewhisky before he continued. “Last year, when you once again eluded him, the Dark Lord nearly went into another mental breakdown.
“He did, actually… He bakes… and does yoga.”
Malfoy lifted his brows. “Go on.”
“The house elf, Winky…you know of her?”
Harry, Ethan and Wood had a momentary image of a drunken Winky underneath Dobby and nodded.
“Naturally, in her distressed state, she was easy to control. So, he sent her to the Weasley’s and Miss Granger’s with a potion-"
“What sort of potion?” Ron demanded.
“A sort of…love potion. Its purpose is to bring unbridled feelings to the surface of whoever has consumed it. But it also makes the person have an abnormal attachment to their partner, say, if they happen to be married already, and so on. Plus, it causes them to have more confidence in…” he paused, blushed. “…that area.”
Ron’s eyes grew wide. So that explains why my parents and Ginny were acting strange! Hermione, too!
“It doesn’t make anyone fall in love. Just brings out their inner… adult. Problem is, a person can jump from one to another before finding that perfect emotional attachment.”
“What is the point in this?” Aislinn demanded.
Peter looked shocked. “Harry, of course. The Dark Lord knew both Weasley and Granger are close to Potter. One of them had to end up with him. So he recruited Delores Umbridge to keep an eye on him and use whoever he chose to lure Harry to him.”
“And when they both ended up with other boyfriends…” Harry trailed off.
“You were watched more closely. When it seemed you would not have another girl interest, he decided to kidnap them both, knowing it would still hurt you.”
“What about Azura and Season?” Ethan snapped.
“They taught him how to block the Dark Lord’s probes. They are to be punished. I’m to bring Harry to them all- alone.”
“The hell you will.” Malfoy softly threatened before anyone could retort.
Pettigrew gave what passed for a smile. “There’s a portkey inside the Shrieking Shack that takes you directly to the ministry, where your friends are. I’m sure you’ll catch him off guard when you all show up.”
Harry studied him apprehensively. “Are you…helping us?”
He gave a wobbly nod. “I won’t be returning with you. You weren’t to know any of this. Love is his motivation in this, lad. It’s what kept you alive. He wants it to be what kills you.”
“And where will you be?” Ron asked.
“I’ve my own agenda.”
Harry smiled thinly. “So do we.” And reached for his wand.
Warp speed. That’s what it felt like as they ran towards the Shrieking Shack.
Harry at least had the relief knowing Peter Pettigrew, currently in his anamagi rat form, was being delivered to Dumbledore in a glass cage with a note explaining the current situation.
He just hoped they wouldn’t get there too late.
The doughnuts were still in the air, dangling in front of the girls.
Season almost gave in and asked for one- she had missed breakfast. But she refrained.
Ginny wondered if she could shoot a loogie far enough to hit one, noting Fred and George would be proud if she accomplished her goal. But she also wanted to live.
Azura and Hermione shot laser beams from their eyes towards Voldemort, who found it amusing.
“Once Pettigrew returns, no doubt with all five boys, against my wishes, mind you, we’ll have one giant tea party!”
“You’re mad.” Hermione whispered.
“That’s what my therapist says.” He agreed. “Sanity is such a boring state of mind, agreed?”
“You wouldn’t.” he growled. “Mudblood. Maybe I’ll treat myself early and torture you first.”
Hermione’s eyes rounded as he lifted his wand.
“Don’t touch her.”
Voldemort paused, giggled like a school girl and turned around. “The Calvary has arrived.”
Pettigrew was right. He could see the insanity in his eyes.
Ron lowered his voice. “Is he wearing an apron?”
“Well…Draco Malfoy. Come to play with your future leader?”
Voldemort narrowed his eyes. “I knew you were a waste the moment you were born. No ambition, no sense of glory. Power. What a waste.” He all but spat the words.
All boys, as well as Aislinn, had wands pointed.
He didn’t seem to notice. “And who’s this? Could this be Mr. Black’s pretty little offspring?” He moved languidly towards them. “And look, she’s attached to Potter. Looks like I was right.” Without warning, he turned to Umbridge. “Adava Kedavra!” then turned to Winky to do the same.
There was a loud shriek from various bodies as he killed the ex professor and the house elf. Winky’s head was so muddled, she didn’t even feel it.
Ethan was the only one brave enough to speak. “Hey, Moldy? Goldie? Voldy! Look, I know this is probably a bad time, but you have my chick over there and I kinda want her back. We, uh, you know, go together.”
Season rolled her eyes as Voldemort turned to her. “My knight in shining armor.”
“Your friend is either very brave or very stupid. I’m leaning towards stupid.”
“Did he just call me stupid? I know the bitch did not just call me stupid. "
“Ethan, zip it.” Ron pleaded.
“Yes, please.” Voldemort added and with a flick of his wrist, pointed his wand to Ethan’s chest.
As the killing curse crept from his mouth, Harry shoved him out of his way and aimed his own wand. “Expelliarmus!”
But Voldemort himself back sided and yet another battle of magic had begun.
Lights flashed, curses flew, narrowly missing a body every few seconds.
Death Eaters began to pop up out of nowhere, giving the girls an uneasy feeling of frustration in their bindings.
Aislinn flew across the room, stopping to hex a Death Eater before rushing to their aid. She said the reverse spell and they gratefully joined in the fight.
Both Season and Azura disarmed two Death Eaters and were currently using their fists to silence them.
Once knocked unconscious, they were bound Julius style and on to the next threat.
Ginny slammed her foot in the balls of another, then utilized an uppercut punch to his nose.
She heard the musical sound of cartilage breaking and watched him fall into a lifeless lump.
Ron had one levitated in mid air and was desperately trying to ward off another, when Malfoy showed up and hexed the second. He gave a grateful nod of his head, and Malfoy did the same in acknowledgement then continued fighting.
Ethan and Wood nearly missed a hex to the head, but received a thankful block from Hermione.
Harry rushed around like a madman with Aislinn close to his side as he fought his way to a retreating Voldemort. Where is Dumbledore?
He heard a menacing chuckle above him. A levitating Voldemort had his wand pointed at his neck. “It’s over, Potter.”
Harry’s eyes widened in shock and pushed Aislinn away as he saw his lips peel back to say the spell.
“That’s enough, Thomas.”
Voldemort’s head whipped up to see Dumbledore as well as a slew of Aurors, Unspeakables, professors and other ministry members surrounding him, wands pointed. Most of the Death Eaters were tied and bound, others still fighting desperately. And then he saw him: Sirius. In full flesh. If it were a different time he’d be on the floor in shock.
“I will kill him!” Voldemort shouted.
“You can try.” Dumbledore warned, deadly calm.
Voldemort howled then and turned to Harry, wand pointed.
He never got the chance to finish.
All remaining witches and wizards yelled various spells, curses and hexes all at once.
Bright, brilliant light filled the room, blinding Harry.
When the smoke drifted and the voices died, there was no sign of Lord Voldemort.
“Why does he always do that?!” cried a furious Harry.
If Voldemort was fed up with Harry slipping through his grasp again, the feeling was mutual.
“Why won’t he die!”
Dumbledore’s face was grim as various Death Eaters began to get round up and ready for Azkaban.
Harry saw movement in the corner of his eye and turned to see Aislinn walk towards Sirius, tears streaming down her face. “Da?”
Dumbledore placed a hand on Sirius’ shoulder. “Love, Sirius. Love brought you back.”
Harry didn’t care what it looked like, he ran to Sirius and clamped on tight with Aislinn.
Season jumped over a few bodies and jumped on Ethan, kissing him hard. Then hit him in the head.
“Ow! What the hell?”
“We don’t patronize power hungry lunatics.”
He grinned. “Sorry. I was hoping he would be reasonable.”
“You can’t reason with psychotics, love. He was wearing an apron.”
He seemed to ponder this. “He was, wasn’t he?”
Laughing, she gestured to Oliver and Azura, who were locked in an embrace. “That’s nice to see. Oh, see that tall lady in the Unspeakable uniform?”
“That’s my mum.”
His face fell.
“Let’s go say hi!”
“I almost lost you again.” Oliver breathed as he gripped Azura almost too hard.
“I know. Bloody hell, that was scary.”
“Marry me, Azura.”
She looked up at him. “What?”
“Six years. Six years I had to wait for you. And you were almost taken from me. I don’t want that to happen again. Marry me. It doesn’t have to be right away, we can wait-"
He paused. “Huh?”
“I said okay. I’ll marry you, Oliver.”
He looked relieved. Then kissed her. “I think I’m going to faint.”
“Not yet you won’t.” She gestured to where her sister and a nervous looking Ethan stood. “We get to tell my mother first.”
Ron felt Hermione’s face for any damage. “Are you alright?”
“Yes, yes, I’m fine.” She assured him. “Better, now that it’s over. Again.”
“I know. That was almost too close. He’s crazy, ‘Mione. I saw it in his eyes.”
“Buggering psychotic. I’m afraid, Ron, that he won’t wait another year to attack Harry.”
Ron brought her into a hug. “Let’s try not to think about it right now.”
Draco held onto Ginny desperately. “I’m giving you a choice, Ginny. If you stay with me, your life is in more danger than it already is.”
“Are you calling me a coward, Malfoy?”
“Merlin, no. I just want you to know what you’re getting yourself into by being with me. Not just Voldemort, my mother-"
“My mistake. You’re the coward.”
“I’m sticking with you.” She kissed him. “Get used to it.”
He grinned. “Good.”
The sun felt warm on Harry and Sirius’ faces as they walked with Aislinn to her mother’s house.
“Are you ready?” she asked him.
He nodded, but looked pale. “Okay.”
He’d combed his hair, Harry noticed, and pulled it into a stubby pony tail. His goatee was trimmed on a still too thin face. He looked every bit the tragic war hero.
They didn’t knock. Sirius felt his stomach tie in knots as he heard Aphrodite’s voice call, “Aislinn? Is that you?”
Aphrodite was in the kitchen, levitating dishes in the sink. When she turned and saw Sirius, every one of them crashed to the floor.
“Merlin’s beard. Sirius? I..I thought you…”
“I was. I was.”
She ran to him, leapt on tight and kissed him hard, streams of tears streaming down her face.
Both of their hands were roaming, assuring themselves they weren’t dreaming.
“I still don’t understand.” She told him.
“I don’t either, not really. I followed Harry to Hog’s Head, learned about Voldemort’s new plan. I saw Aislinn there with him and both love for the pair of them and anger for Wormtail and Voldemort swelled up inside me and I just…became again. I don’t know how.
“I ended up in Dumbledore’s office and from there to the ministry.”
“Wait. You need to go back. What new plan?”
“I’ll explain later, as well as the trial for Wormtail. Let’s sit, Di, and catch up. I’ve missed you.”
Harry let them have their family time, though he wasn’t ready to go back to Hogwarts just yet.
So he sat in a grassy spot under a tree in their yard and closed his eyes.
An hour later, he heard footsteps and felt a body next to his.
When he didn’t open his eyes, light feminine fingers brushed his cheek.
He finally opened them and saw Aislinn about an inch from his face.
She grinned wickedly, and laughing, attacked his mouth with hers.
His body heated instantly and dove his fingers into her dark hair, taking more.
A moan escaped her lips as she situated herself in his lap and let his fingers explore the soft skin on her back.
He abruptly remembered they were in her mother’s backyard and told himself reluctantly to stop. “Well. Wow. That was quite a surprise.”
Aislinn flipped back her hair and nestled in his throat. “ I owe you a lot, Harry Potter. You reunited me with my father, fought for my life. And you helped put a light back into my mother’s eyes. I’m eternally grateful.”
His shoulders gave a modest shrug.
“And…I’m in love with you. I have been since…a while.”
“I know you have feelings for me. That’s why things have been awkward.” She looked up at him. “Right?”
Oh boy, he was doomed. “Yeah. Completely.” He kissed her then, soft and sweet. “I want you to know that by staying with me, you may lose me. There’s a war brewing, Aislinn, and I’m stuck in the middle.”
“I’m not afraid, Harry. Not at all.”
He had nothing to say to that, so kissed her again and thought of his future battle.
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