Prologue: Take a Chance on Beer
Mischievously Managed Brewery
by Mutt N. Feathers
I came through the Floo fireplace and trudged up the two flights of stairs from the basement to the first floor sitting room and slumped down on the newly purchased leather sofa. I had spent the day at the Ministry, listening to idiotic conversations regarding how the trials would be handled for the few remaining living Death Eaters. Minister Shacklebolt knew I wasn’t terribly interested in what happened next; but I was at the meeting as a favor to him. I just wanted to move forward, put the loss behind me and start living the life of a normal bloke. Today reminded me, again, I wasn’t ever going to be normal. I would always be Harry Potter, savior of the Wizarding world.
Ginny would be here shortly, which I was eagerly anticipating. This was the only part of my life which was relatively calm and predictable. We’d been inseparable since the end of the Battle of Hogwarts, which suited me just fine. Today was the longest we’d been apart, while awake, since that day. I didn’t feel the need to drag her with me and subject her to the horrors of bureaucracy. Instead, she and Hermione had taken a little day trip to France to visit Beauxbatons. They both wanted to complete their educations, but couldn’t imagine going back to Hogwarts castle. Neither Ron nor I blamed them, but we didn’t want to go to school either. Together, they were willing to consider the French academy. I highly expected them to return from the south of France this evening excited to spend their final year of school there.
“She’d just better stay away from those damned topless beaches,” I mumbled. I didn’t like the idea of my girlfriend running around without a complete swimming costume, especially if I wasn’t there to enjoy her stunning, perfectly shaped breasts for myself. I closed my eyes and let my imagination run wild. Unfortunately, my body reacted and I had to shift around from my ruminations.
“Kreacher,” I called the Black family house-elf. He came with the house, and while I was hesitant to use his services, today was a day I’d appreciate skivving off the cooking duties. The rather grotesque-looking elf was presently in front of me, an envelope in his hands.
“Master Harry,” he wheezed, “this came for you today through the owl post. It’s marked urgent.” He told me as he handed the parchment over. It was indeed marked urgent, with postmarks from somewhere called MMB and Gringotts. I set it in my lap when the elf began speaking again. “Is there anything I can get for you, sir?”
“Kreacher, would you make supper tonight for the four of us? Something simple, perhaps just some chicken pasties and a salad. Oh, and please make sure we’ve got pudding, Hermione will want it. Ice Cream, perhaps?”
“As you wish, Master,” he replied before Disapparated. After Hermione and Ron retrieved her parents from Australia, she’d tried to spend the summer with them, but found they simply didn’t understand what she’d been through, regardless of how diligently she attempted to explain. I’d offered her a room here, and she’d quickly agreed. Hermione and I did well as roommates, dividing up the chores without issue and generally enjoying each others company. Ron was here as much as Ginny, so it was as if the four of us lived here. After Ginny’s birthday next month, she was planning to move in permanently. Ron wanted to do the same and had already broached the subject with his father, who agreed, just asking him to remain home for a few more weeks to give their mum a chance to fully grieve Fred before her other children moved on with their lives. Ron was currently running the shop while George dealt with his grief.
I lifted the envelope again, and studied it. I wondered why it had gone through Gringotts, but then realized very few people knew where I was staying. Most of my post went to the Ministry where it was inspected and sorted. Quite a few had contained love-potions from amorous admirers and several were death threats from folks who had backed Voldemort during the war. Only the correspondences which were deemed important and safe were sent on to Mr. Weasley to bring to me. I was surprised this had come through the bank, but the goblins did indeed know how to contact me.
I took my wand from my back pocket, remembering old Mad-Eye’s warning about blowing off my buttocks and smiling at the memory, and cast a charm to reveal if any magic was used on the letter. Nothing was revealed, so I slid my finger under the wax seal -- which looked like it had crossed bottles on it -- and opened the letter. As soon as the seal was released, I was surprised to find a wizarding photograph slip out. Even more shocking was the subject: the Marauders with my Mum and three other girls, all in front of a sign saying “Mischievously Managed Brewery”. The eight seemed to be having fun. My Dad was next to Mum, pulling her close and kissing her over and over. Remus was standing next to a girl with curly hair and a wide smile. They were animatedly waving at the picture taker. Sirius was pulling on the ponytails of a short girl in front of him, while another girl would playfully slap him for picking on the first. Peter was watching Dad and Mum, not looking as happy as the rest.
I stared as long as I could, attempting to imagine what they would have been like when they were my age. I flipped the photo over and found the date and the names: Friday, July 21, 1978 MMB 1 goes on-line. Peter Pettigrew, Eliza Houghton, Sibéal Cinnéidagh, Sirius Black, Remus Lupin, Seph MacPhearson, Lily Evans, James Potter, founders.
“Founders? What were my parents founders of?” I asked the air. I flipped the picture back over and looked at it until my curiosity got the best of me, and I needed to read the letter. I hoped it would contain information about whatever this “MMB 1” was.
Hello, please allow me to re-introduce myself. My name is Persephone MacPhearson, and I was a friend of your parents. I don’t know if you remember me, but we met several times through the Order when we were using Grimmauld Place as headquarters, although I would have been introduced to you as Perri Gwynn. That’s me in the picture standing next to Remus Lupin. I know the name change might have you confused, and I’m willing to explain the entire story to you someday, should you be interested in hearing it.
I looked up from the letter and back to the picture. I did remember this girl, woman, whatever, from the times we were here before Sirius died. She was funny and really smart. She seemed to be one of the only people who could help Remus with Sirius’s surliness. Remus had told me she was in the business of getting information in and out of Britain. I wondered if that activity was related to whatever my parents were ‘founders’ of. I went back to the letter.
I am quite certain you’re confused about what we are doing in the photograph, why you’re learning about this venture of ours now, rather than two years ago and why I’m even writing you. The end of the war has afforded me the safety to be honest with you. The picture is of the day the brewery we’d all invested in opened. Your dad had become interested in brewing beer the summer before our seventh year at Hogwarts. We eventually branched out to a second brewery, creating both magical and Muggle beer. Since their deaths, you have been part owner. Your proceeds have been directly deposited into your Gringotts account since. I can provide you will a full yearly accounting should you desire it.
I was shocked. I stared at those words: magical and Muggle beer. I couldn’t quite wrap my head around this. My parents had created beer. My Mum and Dad and their friends opened a brewery. My parents made beer. In my wildest imaginings of who Mum and Dad were, this was not something I’d contemplated. I ran my hand through my hair and took my glasses off to rub my face.
I was part owner in a brewery.
This was totally unexpected. I put the glasses back on so I could continue reading.
The picture is of the magical brewery, the Muggle one went on-line less than a month later. I have run the second establishment since its inception, which facilitated my hiding from the Wizarding world. The original building for the magical brewery was destroyed early in 1997, taking Sibéal Cinnéidigh’s life with it. It had been attacked by Death Eaters.
“Yet another person who had been in my life who was killed by those stupid arses,” I whispered. I shook my head at the insanity of it all, wanting to never hear of another who’d lost their life in this war.
Harry, I don’t know what your plans are for the future, but you’re part owner of these breweries, and should you want to become more involved, I’d welcome your collaboration. Your parents, and their exceptional magical skills, were instrumental in the creation of many of our brews. I suspect you carry those skills within as well.
I was deeply saddened to hear of Remus and Tonks’ deaths, they were very special to me, the true last tie to my childhood and time at Hogwarts. Know that Remus’s portion of the proceeds goes to his son now. Only one other of the original eight remains alive, Eliza Houghton, but she is unable to participate in the day to day activities of the factories. Even if you’re uninterested in taking an active role, know you will continue to reap the rewards of this successful venture. I would be happy to meet with you to share with you what memories I have of your parents as well.
Please consider this opportunity. Take a chance on beer, it’s proven to be a worthwhile career for me, and I’ve been fortunate enough to be allowed to fade from the public eye quite well. From the looks of the Daily Prophet of late, this may also be of interest to you.
Below you find the contact information for the Muggle brewery where my offices are. Should you want to meet, please contact the switchboard there, and it will be immediately forwarded to me.
Again, congratulations on your success of late. Having known you since before you were born, and having been close to your parents for so many years, I couldn’t be prouder of the man you’ve become.
Persephone G. MacPhearson
Mischievously Managed Brewery
Contact information for both breweries was on the letterhead. I looked at the addresses, and quickly stood up to find the London map which I’d seen in the desk. I hadn’t truly cleaned out this room yet, except to get rid of the decrepit furniture and replace it with some things which reflect my taste more than that of Mrs. Black. As I rummaged through the centre drawer, I was able to put my hands on the old map, printed in the late nineteen fifties, according to the date on the front.
The magical brewery was being rebuilt in Rickmansworth in Northwest London; the Muggle one was in Northern London, in the Stamford Hill area. I was surprised how close it was to the house I was living in. I folded the map and put it back where it came from and returned to my seat.
Of all the things I could do, this had to be one of the most ridiculous, and yet it was appealing. It would be a way to connect with my parents, do the same thing they did, at the same age; I would finally have a sense of belonging I’d been searching for my whole life. It would also let me ensure little Teddy would have a future without want. A secure income for him and Andromeda would be something I could provide. It was what a good godfather did. It’s what Sirius wanted to do for me. The longer I thought about it, the more I wanted it.
I flipped the parchment the letter was written on over, and used my wand to transfigure myself a quill and ink and began making a list of the pros and cons of getting involved with the brewery on a day to day basis.
On the pro side, I listed the connection with my parents, Sirius and Remus. I listed the financial benefits for Teddy and Andromeda. I wrote down the word ‘Freedom’, thinking of how it would be to do something I wanted, rather than being used as a pawn in the rebuilding process. Excitement was bubbling up within me, and it was wonderful. Except for the time I spent with Ginny, I hadn’t been excited about anything in so long.
I wrote down Ginny, partly because I hoped she’d support me and partly because I fully expected her to be in France for the next year. It would give me something to do when she’d flown the coop to complete her education. I stopped and contemplated more.
I scribbled down the idea of being innovative. My Mum and Dad had been brilliant in their magic. Mum’s potions and Dad’s transfigurations were legendary -- at least to me they were. This was my chance to follow in those footsteps, to create things of my own.
Finally, it hit me and I wrote down one more word. Happy. Just thinking about this made me happy. My true moments of happiness had been so few and so fleeting for the majority of my life. Sudden glimmers while at primary school, mostly when new items for me had mysteriously appeared in my cubby or when I was gifted with new supplies or books. The only Christmas gifts I’d ever received before I went to Hogwarts were the hand knitted mittens which appeared every year on the final day of school before the holiday.
Once I knew what I was, and, was away from the Dursleys, my life became better. Ron and Hermione certainly helped with making me feel happy and loved. Mrs. Weasley, heck the whole family, accepted and included me. However, the days of joy were always overshadowed by the knowledge of what was to come for me. I was only fifteen when I started to lose those I loved the most. The modern procession of dearly departed began with Sirius and ended with Remus. I never really overcame the death of my parents, nor should I have. I deserved to be happy. I was owed some happiness in my life.
I started on the cons list. People will think I’m barmy! I hastily wrote down, then considering if I truly cared about what others thought. It wasn’t the first time in my life when the widely held opinion was how Harry Potter was nuttier than a squirrel’s nest. Didn’t let it stop me then, I certainly wouldn’t let it stop me now. I decided not to dwell on it.
I wouldn’t be helping with the reconstruction, I reluctantly added. While I certainly had no desire to be a cog in the Ministry’s wheel, there were people who I cared about who were very invested in it. I wondered what they would think of my skiving off my supposed responsibility.
There was one last thing I needed to consider. Long term career aspirations. For the last few years I had concentrated on the requirements necessary to become an Auror. There wasn’t anything which could be done about this in the next year -- the Auror Academy had been shut down by Minister Fudge in my fifth year and the building was destroyed when Voldemort took over the Ministry last year -- was it still my long term life goal? It would reopen in a year, at least it was part of the master rebuilding plan. Did I still want a career investigating dark wizards and witches? This was the only item on my list which made me unsure.
Noise from the first floor interrupted my contemplations, but I hastily forgave it when I heard the sweet voice of my girl. I couldn’t wait to discuss this with her. I wanted her to be in agreement if I did this, and I wanted to know how things had gone for both her and Hermione in France. I stood hastily and ran to the landing, excited to tell her about everything. One of the last lines of Persephone’s letter ran through my head as I awaited her. I was just about ready to take a chance on beer.