The valley of Hogsmeade stretched out like a postcard in the summer sun, but the crowd of boys on the hillside took no notice. They had important business: the "Great War: 50th Anniversary Special Edition" Chocolate Frogs had just come out.
"Woohoo! Ron Weasley!"
"I got another Tonks!"
"Trade you a Mad-Eye Moody for it?"
"What, you've already got a Tonks!"
"I have the Auror. This one's the WOW card." He held it up to prove his point. She was showing off the latest "World Of Werebeasts" T-shirt, with fluffy purple wolf ears poking from the top of her head.
"Who's still looking for a Hermione Granger?"
"Whoa, check it out! When you hold it this way, it's Sirius Black; tilt it a little and: Snuffles!"
"The Remus Lupin card's supposed to do that too. Hey, anybody got a Hagrid yet?"
There was a general negative murmur among the group, and the tearing of new wrappers. Crunching gravel announced the arrival of a smaller boy, panting from his dash up the hillside. "You guys! Come see this!"
The pack rumbled through the woods to a new vantage point. A crowd of grown-ups were gathered below, which was not particularly unusual in and of itself, but curiously, it comprised more heads of brilliant red hair than any of the boys had ever seen together.
"That's the Weasleys and Sons!" said the oldest, in awestruck tones. "My dad said they're building a huge new 'Wheezes' store here, even bigger than the one in London!" This news produced a hushed reverence.
"But why are they all milling around the Shrieking Shack?"
"Obviously, nitwit, that's where they're going to build the store. They're probably here to tear it down right now!"
"They can't tear it down! My mum says that used to be the most haunted building in England!"
"Used to be. Nothing's happened there in, like, a hundred years or something."
"Hey, Hay-Jay! Is that your granddad?"
Turmoil disrupted the ranks of boys as one elbowed his way from somewhere in the middle. "Give over!" He finally reached the front and scrutinized the adults carefully.
"Yeah, that's Papa, all right," said Harry Snape, Jr. "And he's in a right state! There's going to be a row, I bet, but they're lucky; he's been stomping about and growling all week so Nan hid his wand. She always does when he gets like that."
"Looks like he doesn't want them setting up shop."
"Hee hee! He knows he'll never have a minute's peace at Hogwarts again!"
"But what's the difference? They've already got the store in High Street. This one's further away, it'd be even harder to carry things up to the castle without getting caught."
The entire group pondered this mystery for a moment, as Papa (or "the Headmaster," as most of the boys knew him) continued to rail against two of the men, both bald on top with a frame of reddish hair, slightly dulled with gray. They seemed to be laughing at him, which won the respect of every boy on the hillside; only Hay-Jay's gran showed such blatant disregard for Professor Snape's authority in public.
The boys watched for a while, but grew bored as the argument went on and on without advancing either to blows or wands. They began to straggle back to their prior camp, to resume their decimation of the box of Frogs. Soon only the two oldest remained in the trees above the Shrieking Shack. They would be starting their first year at Hogwarts in a month, and therefore had a vested interest in the outcome below. One of them absently unwrapped a Chocolate Frog as he monitored the proceedings. He had eaten nearly the whole frog before it occurred to him to check the card. He gasped.
It was one of the "Limited Edition" Harry Potter cards, the one where he was playing Quidditch in the picture. It was already worth a fortune. The regular cards had a photo of an older wizard whose smile looked kind of sad, but this picture had been taken when Potter had won the World Cup for Scotland, just before he retired from the Hogsmeade Phoenixes and became a Healer. He was neck-and-neck with the opposing Seeker, diving at an insane speed, their robes snapping behind them. Then Potter threw himself into the famous roll, closing his half-hand on the Snitch, righting himself, and pulling his broom out of the dive, all in one fluid movement. Potter threw his head back and the wind whipped all of his wild hair behind him, revealing his face in an expression of pure joy, and on his forehead, the faintest hint of a lightning-bolt scar.
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Wow, I can't believe it's all posted. Thanks to everyone who reviewed along the way!
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