Don't look back in Anger

Can some angry words change everything?

https://www.fanfiction.net/s/10669760/1/Don-t-look-back-in-Anger

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14. Conclusions

A startled Draco and Severus were suddenly confronted by at least a dozen wands. They took no comfort from the fact that the people holding those wands were all wearing auror robes, this mob had just invaded Malfoy Manor with motives that were as yet unknown.

"I demand to know what's the meaning of this intrusion?"

Amelia Bones made her way to the front of her aurors to confront this challenger. "And I would like to know what you are doing here, Professor Snape?"

"I am visiting my godson. I wasn't aware ministerial permission was now required for that activity." Severus actually began to relax as Dumbledore made his presence known.

"Ah, Severus. Can you tell us if there is anyone else in the manor, apart from yourself and young Draco here."

"Not to our knowledge, Minister. That was why Draco contacted me, his mother has gone missing too. We were just discussing whether he should come and live with me before being so rudely interrupted."

Having his godfather stand up for him brought some of Draco's bravado back. "I noticed you didn't answer my godfather's question, Madam Bones. Just what is the ministry doing, rushing uninvited into my home?"

Acknowledging that was a legitimate question from the young wizard, Amelia answered it. "Your mother and father were both suspected of being Death Eaters, we're here to arrest your mother and search the manor. Lord Black gave his permission for us to enter, I assume you know he is in charge of all House Malfoy affairs now."

Draco had no answer for that, but Severus was trying to get a message across. "Minister, there's a room in the house that appears to have been used for a dark ritual. It is also where we suspect Mrs Malfoy disappeared from. I would suggest limiting the access to that room until it can be properly investigated."

This immediately had Dumbledore worried. "Amelia, Severus will lead me to this room. Please join us when you have your search teams dispersed."

As the pair made their way up the wide staircase, Albus was able to have a private word with Severus. "Voldemort sent his forces to Diagon Alley today - did you know anything about this?"

"No. After giving me the task of discovering how Potter survived the dementor's kiss, The Dark Lord dismissed me from the meeting. I can only assume it was a massacre…"

"Luckily, Harry and his party were in the Alley at the time. They were able to drive off the dementors."

This had Severus' eyebrows heading for his hairline. "How many dementors did the Dark Lord send?"

"By the accounts we've heard, and the pictures we've seen - all of them."

Severus clearly didn't believe that but Albus continued to shock his spy. "Harry, Miss Granger and Miss Lovegood actually managed to destroy four of the creatures, the dementors fled Diagon Alley in fear. When the Death Eaters then attacked, Harry himself ended Bellatrix and Rabastan Lestrange's days as Death Eaters, along with a couple of new recruits from Azkaban. Bellatrix murdered Xeno Lovegood by accident, she was attempting to kill Miss Granger. Harry's wrath was mighty, he took all of those Death Eaters down with a flame whip curse."

Knowing that was some serious magic, and those were two of the most dangerous Death Eaters, Severus couldn't quite mask the surprise in his voice as he asked Albus another question. "Who was stupid enough to teach the boy that curse? Wait - it had to be Black."

The old wizard couldn't resist a small smirk as he gave the last answer Severus was expecting. "I was there when Amelia Bones taught him that curse, none of us envisaged it being used to such a gruesome and deadly effect as it was today."

Just entering the room was enough for Albus to detect the taint of the darkest of magical residue, studying the floor for a few minutes was all it took to confirm his worst fears. "Voldemort must be slipping to leave this evidence behind, or was in a great hurry to get out of here."

"He knew Black now controlled the wards, and arranged to meet Narcissa that evening to discuss the situation. It doesn't look as if there was much of a discussion."

"If I'm right, and I'm sure I am, Voldemort murdered Narcissa to power the darkest of rituals. I wonder what he did with the body?"

"With Nagini here, that wouldn't be a problem. That was supposed to be Diggory's fate in the graveyard, before Potter stole his body away…"

A female cough had both wizards turning, turning to find Amelia and Draco standing in the doorway. "I didn't know where this room was, Draco kindly agreed to show me…"

She never got to say any more as Draco confirmed he'd heard what had just been said, he exploded with righteous anger. "That sick bastard murdered my mother and then fed her to his snake - in our own home?"

"We don't know that for certain…" Severus was taken back at the ferocity of his godson's reply.

"You may not know for certain but you both think that's what happened. My father and mother are now dead because of him - yet you stand there and support the Dark Lord."

Knowing his answer would be crucial, Severus told his godson the truth. "Years ago, the Dark Lord threatened and then killed someone who was very important to me. I've worked against him ever since, doing my best to bring an end to the monster's life. You will now be spending the summer with me because, if that fact got out I would soon be dead too. I will need to teach you how to hide your thoughts - while also keeping you out of the Dark Lord's company."

"What about my aunt, won't she claim me?"

Knowing the information would be all over Britain very shortly, Amelia broke the news to the young wizard. "There was a Death Eater attack on Diagon Alley today, and Bellatrix Lestrange died in the attack." Seeing the expression of relief Draco wore at that news, Amelia decided he could stand some more.

"It was Harry Potter who took her down. She had tried to murder Miss Granger, instead killing Mr Lovegood. We also spoke to Lord Black regarding your situation, though at the time we had no knowledge your mother was missing as well. Your tuition to Hogwarts is paid and there will be an allowance for you too. He wants nothing to do with the Malfoy fortune - his only stipulation being that Voldemort doesn't get his hands on it. To that end, he's threatened to give every knut to charity if Voldemort was still alive when you reached your maturity. Given the current circumstances, I dare say some other agreement could be reached."

This was better news than Draco could have hoped for. "That bastard Voldemort won't get near the Malfoy gold, and that's one I owe Potter. I would have slept on the cobbles of Knockturn Alley before I would have stayed with that crazy bitch, I would have been safer in Knockturn too."

Albus was pleased that at least some good had come from this, as it would appear young Draco was no longer on the path to the dark side. Albus also needed to destroy the evidence Voldemort had left behind. "Amelia, it seems he's made another - using Draco's mother's murder to power the creation. I'm going to destroy all the evidence though, we daren't risk even part of the method needed to do this vile thing falling into anyone else's hands. I will make this a Ministerial Decree if you insist?"

"The last thing we need is more wizards attempting this disgusting ritual. I entirely agree - obliterate it."

Draco really didn't want to stay in the house where his mother met such a gruesome end, and that house was also currently being torn apart by the ministry. He left with his godfather, this beginning what for the now orphaned Draco was basically a new life.

-oOoOo-

The special edition of the Prophet was affecting lives the length and breadth of magical Britain - and not just because of its iconic front page picture.

In Longbottom Manor, Augusta had Neville standing beside her. Both held a glass of whisky in their hand - though Neville's measure of the amber liquid was considerably smaller than his grandmother's.

"Your friend Harry did a great service to the Longbottoms today, Neville. Two of the people who harmed our family met grizzly ends under his wand - while another was kissed by a dementor at the end of that tournament. That only leaves one more, and Rodolphus Lestrange lost his wife and brother today. I hope he suffers for a while before meeting his end, like our family has already suffered at his hands. I propose a toast - Harry Potter, friend of our family."

If Harry could face up to those horrible dementor creatures, and then fight Death Eaters, Neville reckoned he should at least be able to drink down this fiery liquid without coughing his lungs out. He couldn't see how his grandmother could possibly like this stuff - he thought it was disgusting and would be sticking to pumpkin juice for the foreseeable future.

-oOoOo-

Ginny Weasley couldn't take her eyes of the picture, or rather the central figure in the picture. This Harry was way better than any children's book, a real life hero who had already been awarded the Order of Merlin, First Class, before his latest adventure and daring deeds.

Here was the proof she was right, and all her family were in the wrong. Quite frankly, Ginny compared every boy she knew to Harry - and they all came up way short. Harry Potter was simply the best, and simply the one for her - Ginny Weasley would accept no substitute.

She was conveniently ignoring the two girls in the picture, that was until Ron leaned in and whispered to her.

"Still think you can take Hermione? Luna stood on his other side too. I know Harry, and the one thing he really values is loyalty. Those two witches stood beside Harry when he needed them most, he would now go toe to toe with Voldemort himself to protect them."

Rather than getting angry, it was a tearful Ginny who turned to face her brother. "Why are you deliberately trying to upset me?"

"I'm not, I'm trying to save you getting hurt. The only way to get close to Harry is through those girls, and they won't stand back to allow whoever likes to try to get off with him. Harry himself won't stand for anything like that either - knowing it would hurt those girls."

"But Luna's just started hanging around with them…"

"They're both very close to Luna, and she's just lost her father. Since Harry is already considered an adult, I think she'll be Luna Potter before long."

While Ron was meaning Harry would take Luna into his family, the name Luna Potter had entirely different connotations for Ginny. Having her surname become Potter was something little Miss Weasley had dreamed about for many years - and now it seemed her childhood friend, Luna, was going to beat her to the grand prize. The newspaper was forgotten as Ginny rushed from the common room, heading toward what was during the summer holidays her now private Gryffindor dorm.

She was fighting back the tears, though these were tears of frustration and anger - why couldn't things just go the way she wanted them to. This was not the time to lose it however, little Ginny Weasley would need a cool head to plan the next move in her scheme to make Harry hers. Ginny Potter sounded so much better than Luna Potter, she wasn't even going to think about the possibility of Hermione some day having that coveted last name.

-oOoOo-

Somewhat ironically, Voldemort was in a similar position to the little witch his diary horcrux once possessed. He too was desperately trying not to let his frustration and anger take control, the Dark Lord also needed to plan what his next move should be. He was also desperate to get his hands on Harry Potter, though certainly not for the same reasons as Ginny wanted to.

His plans to conquer were now laying in tatters, and once more it was Harry Potter who had thwarted him. After having years with nothing to do but plot a successful strategy for taking his rightful place as the ruler of the country, and he would so enjoy lording it over everyone, his meticulous plans to do so were proceeding along at a steady pace. Yes, Potter escaping the graveyard was a blow but not a serious one. He had planned to lay low, building up his forces until reaching a position where no one could stop him taking over the country. Having the ministry publicly brand Potter a liar kept those plans well on track.

Potter's accurate account of his rebirth appearing in that newspaper was another blow, but again not a fatal one. After hearing of Potter's demise however, he really had to act on the situation that piece of good fortune presented. Overpowering Azkaban was the right thing to do in those circumstances, and the highlight of his return. Then things had started to go wrong.

On discovering Potter had survived, Voldemort had not one shred of doubt Dumbledore would then do anything to retain control of his golden boy. That would seem to explain the old wizard now becoming Minister of Magic - a post he'd previously refused on numerous occasions. With the two hawks that were Bones and Longbottom standing at each of his shoulders, the former dove, Dumbledore, had been forced to take severe and decisive action. Once those Death Eaters that Wormtail had fingered were questioned using truth serum, the death penalty really was the only punishment the Wizengamot could apply.

This had proved to be a triple blow to his ambitions. Not only did this eventually remove the majority of his most experienced followers, it also cost him the wealth they brought to his cause. On top of that, pictures of those captured and tried death Eaters awaiting execution blew apart any possibility of a recruitment drive to his cause.

The Dark Lord understood today's attack had been rushed at every stage, from planning to execution. Again though, circumstances outwith his control had forced the timetable and his actions. Although anticipating a few casualties amongst the trainees, he had still expected the mission to be an overwhelming success. What he hadn't expected was Potter to be in that Alley, nor could anyone have predicted what effect the boy being there would have on the attack.

Chasing off those dementors was a feat probably only Dumbledore could match. That as many of his Death Eaters were killed or captured as there were victims of the attack was another massive blow to his cause. The real damage though was Bella, or rather what Bella was carrying.

With hindsight, it was probably too much to expect Bella not to take part in a battle - he'd just never expected the battle to turn against his Death Eaters. Now Bella had presented the ministry with one of his most prized possessions, this after that arse Malfoy allowed the one he was supposed to be guarding to be destroyed. There was no way Dumbledore wouldn't realise what that cup was, not after being presented with the destroyed diary by Potter - and hearing the story that went along with it.

While the ministry were executing their latest batch of convicted Death Eaters at midnight tonight, he would make his way down to the Gaunt shack and reclaim the treasure he concealed there decades ago. After definitely losing one, and it was looking more and more like another could be destroyed too, he might actually be forced to remove the one from the inferi cave for safety.

When it came to power, wealth or anything else individuals found desirable - nothing was more important to Lord Voldemort than his soul anchors.

He did manage to control his temper to a degree, Rodolphus was only held under the cruciatus for a minute or so. The fact the Dark Lord was still building up his power from the horcrux ritual played a far bigger part in that relatively lax punishment than any concern for the fact the person screaming had just lost his wife and brother. If Lord Voldemort had more numerous and competent followers, the Lestange line would have ended under his wand today.

Rodolphus would have died slowly and screaming in pain for his wife's failure today, if the last Lestrange wasn't now the most senior and capable Death Eater Lord Voldemort had left alive.

-oOoOo-

Luna found herself cocooned as the group made their way through and then out of the Leaky Cauldron. Harry and Hermione were the first layer, one at either side of her. Dan was just in front, with Emma behind. The outer layer was composed of Sirius, Remus and their auror protection detail. With Hagrid on point to clear their way through the crowd, they made it out of the pub without Luna being bothered by anyone.

Dumbledore and Madam Bones were there too as the seven piled into Dan's Range Rover. It was with a sense of deep regret Albus uttered the words he never thought he would say. "I fear that this is the last we will see of that group, and our country will be the poorer because of that."

While not disagreeing, Amelia answered the Minister of Magic the only way she could. "All we can do is continue on the path we've set before us. If we can make our country a safer and better place for everyone to live in, then we will have done our best. Whether that leads to Mister Potter staying or returning is immaterial - we have to govern for everyone."

"I know, Amelia, but you can't refute those same 'everyone' would be far happier knowing Harry Potter was with us for each step of that journey."

The Minister was right, she couldn't refute that.

-oOoOo-

"Eh, Dan, you're going the wrong way?"

The driver acknowledged Sirius was correct, before contradicting his assumption. "I know exactly where I'm going." Driving into the same small and once more deserted car park they'd used after picking the girls up from King's Cross, Dan then motioned for Harry to call their little friend.

Dobby soon confirmed none of them, nor the Range Rover, were being tracked in any way. "The house is ready for everyone and Winky has dinner waiting on her family. Dobby and Winky is most sorry, Miss Luna. We's really liked your father."

This drew the beginnings of a smile from the blonde girl. "Thank you, Dobby. Daddy really liked you both too. He was very happy with me finding such good friends - such good family..."

The little elf bowed to the hurting girl. "Dobby and Winky be honoured to call Miss Luna family."

With that, the little guy popped off and Dan headed the car in the direction of Grimmauld Place. Sitting behind her dad, Hermione reached out and placed her hand on his cheek as they got closer to Sirius' house. This was purely a precautionary measure since Sirius had told all of them the address, Hermione was ensuring that the muggle repelling wards didn't have her father swerving at the last minute.

What was once a coach house had now been converted into a garage, with the elves already having the doors open so Dan could drive straight in. A spiral staircase then led the group up into the house proper. The old house was now spotless and the cream coloured walls that greeted them at every turn accounted for the new paint scent that seemed to permeate the building.

"Harry, those elves of yours are miracle workers. This house has never looked so good."

As Dobby took their cloaks, and they entered the kitchen, Sirius was again full of praise for the two smallest members of their family. It was of course spotless, though still managed to be warm and welcoming. The aroma of Winky's delicious cooking easily masking any lingering aroma indicating that the room had also so recently been decorated.

Luna sat between Harry and Hermione, doing her best to eat what was put in front of her. Since all three teens had been performing heavy duty magic earlier in the day, their bodies required the fuel to replace what they had burned off maintaining their patronuses against such overwhelming odds.

It wasn't long though before Luna was making her excuses and heading off to bed, Hermione immediately saying she was going too. Emma and the Harry kissed both girls goodnight before Dobby led them off to the room he had prepared for them.

After waiting until the girls were out of earshot, Harry then had a request for his godfather. "Sirius, can you handle any arrangements needed for Xeno's funeral? Luna said her mother is buried on a plot near their house, and she thinks her dad would want to rest beside his wife. I'll find out more when I share with her tonight and let you know anything else in the morning. I'm hoping doing things this way will help shield Luna from most of it. One thing I already know, this will be a quiet funeral - the last thing Luna needs is it becoming some sort of media circus."

Sirius quickly agreed with all of that, seemingly easing Harry's worries. His next sentence though told all four of them Harry was already thinking ahead.

"You know this changes everything, don't you?" Four nods of reply saw Harry rise to head to bed as well. He too received a hug and a kiss on the cheek from Emma before Dobby appeared to show him where he was going.

-oOoOo-

Another young wizard was contemplating his future in entirely new surroundings. Draco was lying in a muggle bedroom that was probably smaller than the room that stored his brooms back at Malfoy Manor, he was determined to embrace this new life though. His godfather's house at Spinner's End may be muggle and tiny, but it had a superbly equipped potions lab built into a magically expanded basement.

He would spend the rest of the summer practicing his potions skills while working on how to occlude his mind. He had asked Madam Bones if she could lock down Malfoy Manor after they were finished searching it, Draco would return to the Malfoys' ancestral home only after his mother's murder had been avenged.

While the special edition of the Prophet had rightly lauded Potter's actions against the Dark Lord, Draco's own steps toward revenge would be much more Slytherin - less brash Gryffindor. While Draco would have to acknowledge he couldn't do what Potter had achieved in Diagon Alley, that didn't mean he was without skills his Gryffindor rival lacked.

Draco Malfoy was a pureblood through and through, the exact type of wizard the Dark Lord supposedly championed. Draco had learned the hard way though that there was only one wizard the Dark Lord championed - himself. He preached preservation of the old ways yet blatantly disregards or shatters them whenever it suited his needs.

One of the oldest magical traditions was that of hospitality - being an invited guest in another pureblood's home invoked a strict code of conduct that stretched back for centuries. Torturing your host in front of other guests was a serious breach of the old ways that should see someone shunned in proper company, murdering your hostess should have the rest of the pureblood community demanding the Dark Lord's head on a pike.

He was Lord Voldemort however, meaning his behaviour wouldn't be questioned. Draco certainly wasn't stupid enough to tackle the Dark Lord head on, he would leave those type of actions to the likes of Dumbledore, Bones and Potter. What he could do though was start eroding the Dark Lord's support amongst his peers at Hogwarts. With all the Death Eaters the Ministry had prosecuted and passed through the veil, there would be a load of angry teens in Slytherin and Ravenclaw houses. His task would be to redirect that anger where it belonged - straight at the Dark Lord. It wasn't the ministry who killed his parents, rather someone they trusted and invited to be a guest in their home.

Draco had learned enough from his father to know that the Dark Lord would now be hurting financially, his new mission would be to turn those who would one day inherit this currently lost wealth away from a cause that could see them murdered in their own homes. It might not be as direct as the methods Potter used to fight the Dark Lord but Draco was under no illusions his new chosen path was any less dangerous than that of the Gryffindor golden boy. He was just going to show everyone why the sorting hat couldn't really have placed him anywhere else but Slytherin.

-oOoOo-

The cold hand of fear had a grip of Lord Voldemort's gonads, and that grip was tightening by the minute. He was in total shock - how was this possible?

After visiting his mother's old shack, he couldn't believe that his ring horcrux was gone. He'd immediately dissapparated to the coast, taking some comfort from the fact it appeared no one had gone through his stone door since he had sealed it. That grain of comfort was now crushed under the weight of the reality currently facing him. Just looking in the basin was enough for Voldemort to determine this necklace was not his horcrux, it also didn't call to him as it should - it was clearly a fake!

The conclusions he was drawing here were leaving him more frightened than at any time since he left that orphanage as an eleven year old wizard - off to start a new life at Hogwarts. If whoever was searching for his horcruxes, realistically it could only be Dumbledore, had found his ring and locket, he would have to assume the diadem hidden inside Hogwarts would have been discovered too.

The seriousness of his mistake in using Nagini to house what would now appear to be his only remaining horcrux was beginning to dawn on Voldemort as well. The option of hiding Nagini away somewhere no one could find her didn't really exist, not without then having to assigning someone to care for his familiar. Since the ministry were now effectively hunting him and his followers, Nagini staying by his side could see her caught up in a battle. Any battle between his forces and Dumbledore's ministry would certainly see the air thick with lethal spells, this could easily see his beloved familiar struck down.

Apart from then rendering him mortal, his last horcrux being destroyed might affect him during the battle - just as he became vulnerable too. His debilitating fear of dying had been controlled and rendered immaterial by the safeguards his horcruxes provided, also helped greatly by the creation of his Lord Voldemort persona. Now this once conquered fear had just returned with a vengeance, and was leaving a scared Tom unable to decide what to do next.

He was no longer Tom though, and Lord Voldemort was still the most powerful wizard in Britain - he still had loyal followers too. What he didn't have was any idea on how to take this fight forward. The attacks on the Bones and Weasley homes had been aided by the fact his contacts inside the ministry were able to deactivate their floos. Since those contacts were no longer in place, attacking someone's home would simply see them use their fireplace to quickly reach safety.

The dementors hadn't returned to be under his command either, the terror at some of their brethren being destroyed saw them scatter to the four winds. He doubted if they would ever obey him again. The Dark Lord could only offer them the promise of souls to feed on - Potter had just demonstrated he held the power to extinguish their very existence. Voldemort actually doubted if the dementors would attack anyone again - now knowing the price they could pay for doing so. If they played it smart, small groups of them could easily sustain themselves by patrolling around some densely populated muggle areas. Providing the dementors weren't killing anyone, the ministry would be likely to ignore them while concentrating their efforts capturing his followers.

Lord Voldemort didn't have the option of doing nothing, nor could he afford to slink away and hide. He had to respond - and be seen to be responding if he was to remain a credible threat in the minds of the wizarding population of Britain. He would attack a muggle city, cause murder, mayhem and destruction, before retreating with his victory and leaving the ministry to try and clean up the mess he'd just made.

That plan was only for the short term though, he needed more information before committing to anything else. There was Potter for a start, no wizard that age should be able to do the things he could. His first thoughts were that the brat's mother had invoked some form of old magic by deliberately sacrificing herself to save her son, now Voldemort wasn't so sure. He had felt the boy's power in the graveyard when their wands locked, then Potter had done the impossible again by surviving a dementor's kiss - before destroying some of the same dark creatures in Diagon Alley.

The Dark Lord needed information, on Potter, Dumbledore and especially this thrice dammed prophecy - he really couldn't continue without knowing exactly what he was up against. Severus would be his best bet to get that information. He would give him some time before applying the pressure of a set time scale. One way or another though, the Dark Lord would acquire what he needed - or Severus' brewing days were over. He would shred his mind to discover anything the slippery Slytherin was hiding, leaving Severus with an intelligence that could probably be matched by that of a flobber worm.

Having the outlines of a way forward saw him regaining some of his lost control, the Dark Lord returned to the little boat. He needed to leave the cavern, and the attached cave before being able to apparate back to Riddle Manor. There was work to do.

-oOoOo-

There was absolutely no ambiguity surrounding the death of Xenophilius Lovegood. His murder had been witnessed by two aurors, as had the takedown of the person who murdered him. This allowed Xeno's body to be swiftly released to his family for burial, leading to the group standing in an Ottery St Catchpole that was bathed in summer sunshine. For the task they were here to take part in today, the weather really didn't mirror their mood - which was dull and depressing.

Sirius had made all the arrangements, as per Luna's wishes - passed on through Harry, so the only other people here today were the Lovegoods' closest neighbours, the Weasley family.

The setting was a beautiful little glade, the Lovegood house visible through the trees. No one was looking in that direction though, all eyes were on the coffin that was resting on trellises beside the deep hole in the ground.

If it wasn't for the task they were here to do today, Hermione thought this could be a beautiful spot to have a picnic and spend a quiet afternoon snuggling with Harry and Luna. The fact that she and Harry currently had their arms wrapped around a crying Luna destroyed that pleasant dream of what could have been.

Ron was sitting on Hermione's other side, with her parents, Sirius and Remus in the row of seats behind. The rest of the Weasley family were seated in another couple of rows to the back of those, and it was from here Arthur stepped forward to say a few words.

"It doesn't seem so long ago I stood here and spoke about Mia, while Xeno sat there with his beloved daughter in his arms. I don't have the words to express how sorry I am to be back here again, though I take some comfort from seeing Luna wrapped in the arms of those she loves. I'm told that Xeno spent his last moments proudly watching Luna and her friends save dozens of lives as the dementors attacked Diagon Alley. No one is really sure whether Xeno saw the curse that took him from us but I don't think that matters. Knowing him as I did, Xeno would have made the choice to save a young witch who is regarded as family to all of us here today. That Luna will be cared for while he rests besides the witch who was the love of his life means that Xeno's rest will be a peaceful one."

The three teens were in bits at Arthur's words, Ron's hand resting supportively on Hermione's shoulder. All were surprised when Dan was next to stand beside the coffin to say a few words.

"As a father, there is simply not enough words in any language to express my gratitude to the man who saved my daughter's life. It's as a father though that I make this promise beside the final resting place of Xeno and Mia. Your daughter was rapidly becoming someone we considered as family, an option my family would be more than happy to make official - if that's what Luna wants. Whether or not she choses that option, I promise she will always be welcome in any home the Grangers own. Emma and I will love her like a daughter, regardless of what she choses her last name to be."

At that, Dan was joined by Remus. His wand soon lowering the coffin into the prepared hole. Sirius and Emma helped the four teens forward to pay their last respects, Sirius actually provided single roses for them to throw down onto the coffin. This proved to be Luna's breaking point, resulting in Harry and Ron leading both girls away. They didn't think either Luna or Hermione would want to see Remus and Sirius using their wands to fill the hole with the mound of earth sitting under a disillusionment charm.

Molly hugged all of them, then Fred and George offered their condolences too. Harry thanked Ron for being a great help today before calling Dobby to take the three of them home to Grimmauld Place. Remus and Sirius would be right behind them, bringing Dan and Emma along too. The horrible task the group had been faced with had gone about as well as could be expected, funerals were about enduring the event as best one could.

Ginny had been stuck at her mother's side, and not by her choice. Ginny had been allowed to attend on the condition she went nowhere near Harry today. When it was her father setting those limitations, Ginny had no other option than to accept them. That didn't mean she had to like the situation though, and she didn't. Ginny just didn't know how to change it.

-oOoOo-

The papers were full of Voldemort's attack, both magical and muggle versions. Then again, when you cause tens of millions of pounds worth of damage to one of the biggest gothic cathedrals in Europe, a few obliviates is never going to cover that up. The eighty nine men, woman and children who were murdered when the Dark Lord led his Death Eaters on a rampage in York also meant the story was never going to be contained by the magical community. The story had gone global, with pictures and even some video of these strangely dressed terrorists appearing all over the media. The British Ministry of Magic now had its hands full trying to deal with the situation, meaning their eyes weren't looking elsewhere.

This had helped them with their timetable, the decision already having been made. It was another piece of paper Sirius held in his hand that was causing his emotions to be all over the place though, and leaving him wondering if fate really did like having a laugh at his expense.

On Harry's return visit to the opticians, Sirius thought the optician herself was even more beautiful than he remembered from last week - she also seemed a lot more responsive to his flirting. Now knowing her name was Claire, and she was single, left Sirius taking a gentle ribbing from Remus and Dan while the aforementioned Claire was busy retesting Harry's eyes.

Both returned with smiles on their faces as Claire headed straight for Sirius. "Whatever that accident was, it seems to have affected Harry's vision in a positive manner. His vision isn't quite perfect yet but I think it would be a crime to hide those beautiful green eyes behind glasses. Have him tested again in about six months to see how his vision settles down."

She then passed Harry's prescription over, blushing as she did so. "You can bring him back here to be tested, but you don't have to wait six months if you want to give me a call. I've attached my number to his prescription, my personal number..."

Claire was clearly waiting on a response and Sirius was left not knowing what to say. Eventually he just blurted out the truth, well enough of it anyway.

"We're actually getting on the ferry when we leave here, and don't know when we'll be back in Britain - or if we're coming back."

The disappointment was clear on Claire's face, as well as some anger but all she said was 'oh'. It took Emma stepping in and explaining the situation somewhat before Claire realised she wasn't being brushed off here. She didn't look the type who would regularly hand her phone number out to strangers and Sirius was certainly interested in the beautiful optician. Emma also loved playing matchmaker.

"We really are leaving today on a bit of an adventure but that doesn't mean Sirius can't keep in touch until we get settled somewhere in Europe. If you two hit it off, Sirius can easily pop back to Britain for a day or so..."

Sirius knew what Emma meant by 'pop back' but Claire didn't. "You would travel that distance, just to see me?"

"I would travel as far as I had to..." The words were out before Sirius could even think about what he said. Since Claire was now smiling again, he didn't mind that cheesy line. Promising to get himself a mobile phone and give her the number, Sirius left the opticians with a spring in his step - and trying to ignore the smirks of the three teens.

It was a happy crew who drove onto the ferry in the Range Rover. As the ferry then headed for Dieppe, Harry, Hermione and Luna were standing on the deck, looking back at the country they were leaving. Hermione asked the question they were all wondering about. "Do you think we'll ever come back?"

With Harry standing in the middle, Luna leaned into him and gave her opinion. "Everyone I care about is on this boat. As long as we're together, that's all that matters to me."

Harry gave a more considered answer. "I need to keep those close to me safe, that's just not possible in Britain at the moment. One day I hope we can return, even if only to see our friends."

"I think Sirius will certainly be returning to Newhaven, he was making eyes at your optician..."

Hermione's 'joke' drew more groans than laughter, though all three would be delighted if Sirius found a bit of happiness in his life. He certainly seemed happier that a beautiful woman appeared interested in him, and who knew what the future would hold - for any of them.

End of Part 1

 
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