You're my Density

Just Suppose Harry hadn't heeded his godfather's advice, and actually lost his temper at his trial? Time travel fic and title is 'Back to the Future' joke.


31. One Last Chance

Changes to Britain's magical society were normally introduced at a snail's pace, and then only if that introduction couldn't be sidetracked or possibly derailed altogether. The new classes at Hogwarts only affected students in first and second year, with the Christmas holidays being the first chance most parents of those students had to hear about how those changes affected them. Those changes however weren't receiving any attention from parents whatsoever, not when held up against what else was very publicly unfolding in their country.

Citizens who a mere week ago had been cloaked in respectability now had the masks they'd once worn exposed for everyone to see what lurked beneath. Some of the deeds they had performed whilst hiding their identities behind those masks started a public outcry for the death penalty to be their Ministry's final solution to the Death Eater problem, except in one special case.

The mountain of irrefutable evidence against Walden Macnair guaranteed the case against him was airtight, and no sane person anywhere in the country could argue against him receiving the death penalty - right up until the muggle government became heavily involved. They wanted to get their hands on this serial killer so badly that immense political pressure was immediately brought to bear on the ministry. Since a fair few of his victims had been muggle children, that was actually a response the Ministry of Magic certainly understood - though for legitimate security reasons couldn't fully support.

Having discovered by the administration of truth serum exactly how dangerous and deranged Macnair actually was, Amelia dug her heels in and wouldn't shift her position about handing him over to the muggle authorities. Even the slightest chance of this psychopath one day escaping was not something she could put her name to. Eventually a compromise was reached that suited everyone involved, Macnair's opinion not withstanding.

Macnair was sentenced to be kissed by a dementor, and then his soulless husk would be handed over to the muggle authorities. Their government's cover story would be Macnair had suffered an aneurysm in his brain. This aneurysm not only caused his present irreversible condition but lead directly to the discovery of his 'trophies' when the police and ambulance services supposedly arrived at his door. Amelia was satisfied a kissed Macnair would never hurt anyone again and the muggles had a prisoner to publicly pin all those now solved cases on. Everyone was happy with that result, again with the exception of Walden Macnair. He would never feel emotions again.

The Daily Prophet actually ran the story that had been printed in the muggle press about this case - banner headlines on front pages named Macnair as The Beast of Britain - to give their own readers some idea of just how wide and far reaching this wizard's depraved acts had been. Pictures of parents crying because their child's murderer had finally faced justice crossed the magical / muggle divide. Anyone who had a son or daughter couldn't help but feel their pain.

Headline after headline in their own press also couldn't help but emphasise their hidden and perpetually enduring world would simply never be the same again. As more and more details became publicly available about what these wizards and witches had done in the name of pureblood supremacy, people's attitudes became more and more accepting of the previously foreign concept that their world simply had to change.

No one wanted to live in a country where acts like this were allowed to happen, far less encouraged by a select and financially powerful section of their society. While there would always remain those witches and wizards who thought they were better than others, simply from their circumstances of birth, a clear line had rather graphically and forcefully been drawn regarding how far that bigotry could now be taken.

When you had a ministry who were prepared to sentence purebloods to life in Azkaban, a dementor's kiss or even the death penalty, few if any would ever cross that line again. Maintaining your freedom, soul or life was a massive incentive for rapid behavioural modification, and a hell off a deterrent to ensure a group like the Death Eaters would never put roots down in Britain again.


Luna was lying in bed considering some of those same headlines, and comparing them unfavourably against the story she was supposed to write for her father. Apart from the fact she was staying with Lord Black, and not in the muggle home of the Grangers, she wondered who would want to read a piece like that now. It certainly wouldn't be the scoop her father had been hoping for.

With muggle shopping trips, seeing a pantomime inside an actual theatre and spending all her time with her friends, Luna had easily been having the best holiday she could remember. The possibility of ending up with a story not worth printing, and seeing her father's disappointment at that, being the only cloud on her horizon.

Today was Christmas Eve, with the Dursleys due to arrive in Grimmauld this afternoon. Tomorrow being Christmas, and also the Longbottom Ball, was then followed two days later by Sirius and Amelia's wedding. She was lying in bed awake because Luna's excitement levels were currently off any scale she had ever used to measure this rare emotion before. The knock at their bedroom door saw Luna sitting up, only to discover Susan had been awake too.

They opened the door to find Harry and Hermione standing there.

"I know it's early but we really needed to talk with you." Seeing the worried looks he was getting, Harry then tried to reassure both girls. "While it's obviously important, nothing is wrong."

As the girls sat on their beds, Hermione deliberately was sitting right beside Luna while Harry now had his arm around Susan's shoulders before telling them why they were here.

"You both saw Professor Dumbledore's ghost in the infirmary. On his deathbed, he gave me a means to contact him if we really needed his help. The same night he gave it to me, I wondered if this 'means' would allow me to contact others who had passed on - it did."

Luna immediately jumped a couple of steps ahead of Harry, having heard stories of what she suspected this 'means' was since being a little girl on her father's knee. "Dumbledore gave you the resurrection stone? Father always suspected the headmaster of having at least one of the Hallows."

Her arm tightened around the little blonde as Hermione spoke to their young friend. "Luna, that's not something we want known - outside our family. Certainly not by someone who publishes a newspaper."

"It's okay, Hermione, I would never tell my father about this. He's been obsessed by the Hallows since well before I was born. If he ever found out Harry had one, you wouldn't get a moment's peace..."

Hermione then let slip something they could all see, but no one had spoken of before now. "He's too busy obsessing over everything going on around him to pay attention to the most important thing in his life. If he did, he couldn't miss the wonderful witch his daughter is growing into."

An embarrassed Luna snuggled into Hermione while Susan moved the attention away from her by asking Harry a couple of questions.

"Resurrection Stone? Hallow? I'm perfectly willing to admit I'm not a morning person but I feel as if I'm still sleeping here. Is this one of those stupid dreams you get, just before you wake up?"

"You're awake and not dreaming, sis. It was Amelia who told us about this, mentioning a children's story about three brothers…"

Susan struggled to believe what Harry was saying. "That's real?"

"Most stories have an element of truth in them. When I was given the stone, you can probably guess who I summoned. It was wonderful, and also very painful. I wasn't prepared to see my mum and dad, far less ready to say goodbye to them again. It was so painful for everyone involved, we all agreed to make it no more than an annual event. I intend to call them tonight, and wanted to offer the both of you the chance to talk with the people closest to you that have been lost..."

A tearful Luna shot out of Hermione's grasp and was soon wrapped around Harry with the seeming intention of never letting go. She appeared incapable of speech so a smiling Hermione answered for her. "I think Luna is saying yes..."

Her head vigorously nodding in agreement saw their attention switching to a shocked Susan. After a few moments of silence, Susan voiced the dilemma she was facing.

"I understand Luna's reaction, and I'm so happy for her. I'm more like Harry though. I'm not even sure if the memories I have of my parents are real, or something I've built myself over years of listening to my Aunt Amelia talking about them. I really don't know what to do. What if they didn't like who I've grown up to be?"

Passing a still emotional Luna back to Hermione, Harry then took the girl who was becoming his sister into his arms. "They won't like you, Susan, they'll love you. As you can imagine I just jumped right into the situation, with no thoughts or preparations whatsoever. As I said, it was one of the worst and best experiences of my life. I can't really give you any advice, but I will say I am so looking forward to seeing them again tonight. I wanted to give both of you that chance, and also some time to prepare."

Taking another few moments to think, Susan could really only come up with one answer. "I actually don't know how I could refuse this offer, though I'm now excited and terrified at the same time."

Harry wiped the few tears that were now running down her cheeks and smiled. "You'll be surrounded by family tonight, a family that loves you. That's what got me through the experience of meeting my mum and dad, and we'll all be there for you and Luna tonight. Let's go and have some breakfast, you can think about what you're going to say to them during the day..."

"How can you even think of food at a time like this?" With comic timing par excellence, Harry's stomach managed a loud growl to answer that question on its own. This had all three girls giggling, and also moving. Susan might not be able to eat anything but she certainly wanted to catch her Aunt Amelia before she headed off to the ministry. Tonight the number of Bones' in the country would, for however briefly, double. Then again, in that same time period, the number of Potters in Britain were going to treble.


Dudley never thought he'd be excited about going to school during the holidays. Then again, it wasn't thoughts of school that had him excited. Amanda's father was the school caretaker so had a house on the grounds. It was thoughts of visiting Amanda that were causing Dudley's excitement, an excitement that climbed as the Dursleys drew closer to their destination.

George Ketteridge invited the Dursleys into his home, Amanda had the tea ready while Dudley handled the introductions. Dudley had shown his mother a picture of Amanda but this get-together was the first time they'd met face-to-face, and Petunia was liking what she saw. In a matter of minutes she was able to deduce Amanda was lovely, had manners and was smitten with her Dudley.

Her father was a different matter, though Petunia figured any father of a girl as lovely as Amanda was always going to be protective. The man looked average - height, build, appearance. That was until you took a closer look at those icy blue eyes, eyes that missed nothing. Dudley had mentioned George was former military and you could see that even in the way he manoeuvred the conversation, it felt like a flanking movement.

"I understand you and Dudley had to go and visit your nephew's girlfriend, something about her being attacked? Is she all right now?"

"Oh yes, terrible business. She's fine now though, we're leaving from here to spend Christmas with her family and Harry."

With barely an eyebrow raised at that, George was instantly hunting for more information from Petunia. "Hermione, rather a strange name that. Can't imagine there would be too many of them going about."

"I have to admit I had never heard of it before…" Petunia was halted miid-sentence by George dropping a copy of the Daily Prophet onto the coffee table. It was from a few days ago with Harry and Hermione's picture on the front page as the headlines screamed Hermione had been attacked. While it couldn't have weighed a pound, that newspaper hitting the table was a shock needing the Richter Scale to measure its magnitude.

"The one thing I won't stand for is people lying to me, or to my family."

Seeing the affect this was having on Dudley, his boy was almost in tears, Vernon waded right in to rebut George's accusations.

"If you have access to that newspaper then you must also know the restrictions placed on those who can read it against those who can't. There were no lies told by any of my family. It clearly says there Hermione was attacked, Petunia and Dudley left for Scotland at once. You must also know the restrictions staying in the castle places on those trying to contact anyone supposedly unaware of its existence."

The more he thought about this, the more Vernon's temper climbed. 'You are the one standing there with knowledge we didn't know you possessed, yet you seemingly knew who we were. I want to know exactly what is going on here, before I call for some reinforcements to make sure we get those answers. Our family has already been attacked, we won't let it happen again."

That they were sitting around a comfortable living room and sipping tea seemed so at odds with the conversation they were having. George's eyes were practically twinkling with mischief as he looked over the rim of his cup, there was also a disarming smile on his lips as he then sat the cup down.

"Did Dudley tell you how he and my Amanda became close? No, I didn't think so. Any other lad would be crowing about it but your Dudley can add modesty to his many charms.."

This change of tact had floored Vernon and Petunia, just as George had intended it to. "My Amanda hasn't had it easy, losing her mother at a young age and then being raised in an all male environment. A couple of those Smelting males were trying to chat her up, and being rather insistent about it, when your Dudley intervened. He stood beside my Amanda and told the bigger and older boys to both leave her alone. They weren't inclined to do so and a fight ensued. He stood his ground, and my Amanda has been taught how to look after herself too. These two got enough licks in that the pair buggered off, though I made sure the school punished them for harassing Amanda. Both Amanda and I like your boy, we can see he's the right sort. It's this connection to the magical world that has us concerned, I swore my family would have nothing more to do with them."

Amanda came over and refilled her father's cup, standing behind his chair with her hand on his shoulder. George reached up and held his daughter's hand, knowing this next bit would be painful for both of them.

"I am a squib, born into a family of purebloods. They at least raised me until I was of age to join the army, then I was shown the door. I've never been back, Neither Amanda nor I would be welcome there. It was while I was in the army I met and married my Amanda, with this one here coming along two and a half years later. Life was very good for us, until my Amanda took ill."

Amanda now had her father's hand in both of hers. "The thing is, I knew the magical world had a cure for my wife. I went to St Mungo's pleading for their help, they eventually summoned aurors to remove me from the hospital. I was a squib, my wife was a muggle - we were less than nothing to them. Thanks to your nephew, their war was over but very little had changed. I buried my Amanda, opted out of the army on compassionate grounds and got this job here so I could raise my daughter. The army is no place for a three year old girl without a mother."

She bent down and kissed her father's cheek before returning to sit beside Dudley. George actually smiled at the young couple. "I still have friends in the army who keep in touch, and some of them are squibs too. I started reading about all the changes happening in the magical world in their letters, before picking a copy of the Prophet up for myself. It was hard to believe what I was reading, things like this just didn't happen in a society run by the purebloods. I walked into Gringotts and changed fifty quid into knuts. The witches and wizards in the queue building up behind me were all complaining, which just made the goblin count those coins slower. We now get the Prophet delivered daily. It wasn't hard to work out who Dudley's cousin Harry was, especially throwing in the name Hermione too. We now have to see where we go from here?"

Petunia thought she knew exactly how to answer that, so she did. "For many years I loathed everything about magic, including my nephew who was living with us. I blamed magic for taking my sister away from me, and Lily for letting it happen. Having visited Hogwarts, I now understand Lily didn't have a chance. We are implementing programmes though to put an end to families being torn apart when not all of them are magical. Had Amanda been a witch, you would have been able to visit Hogwarts on our open day and see for yourself how she was fitting into her new life. I say 'our' because I am now a part-time professor at Hogwarts. If that doesn't tell you how much things have changed, nothing will."

"Mr Ketteridge." After sitting quietly and listening, he felt it was time to say something here. All eyes were now fixed on Dudley.

"It was around this time last year I first met Hermione, we didn't hit it off then. During the summer when she stayed at our house with Harry I really got to know her. She and Harry changed my life. Hermione is now more than a friend, she's family. My heart was breaking watching her lying there dying, I don't know how Harry managed to stay sane. This was a deliberate attempt to murder her and Harry, with only a miracle saving us from losing Hermione. Me, my mum and dad will be siting down with the rest of the family over the holidays to figure out what we do next. Is it time for us to leave Britain? Time to let the witches and wizards all deal with their own mess?"

This had Amanda grabbing his arm. "You're leaving Smeltings? Leaving Britain?"

"I really don't know, but my vote would be to stay. If you get the Prophet delivered then you must know how the Ministry of Magic has responded to this attack. Harry and Hermione leaving now would see all those positive changes crumble. Hermione's parents and my mum are the three professors pushing the changes at Hogwarts, Neville's gran too…"

All could see Dudley just had an idea, they didn't have to wait long to find out what it was. "Sir, may I have your permission to show how much things have changed?"

"Just what are we talking about here, son?"

"I need to call a friend first, to check if this is actually possible. Dobby?"

Dudley could feel his hand being squeezed, confirming his friend had arrived but remained invisible. "Dobby, Amanda and her father know about magic. It's okay…"

The elf appeared and an excited Dudley couldn't wait to speak about the idea he'd just had. "Since Amanda knows about magic, could you ask Harry if she could go with us to Augusta's ball tomorrow night?"

As Dobby popped away to speak to Harry, Amanda had a question of her own.

"You were going to a ball tomorrow?" The young girl's tone told everyone the question she threw at Dudley was really 'you were going to a ball - without telling me?'. Amanda's question had Dudley floundering, leaving his mother to answer for him.

"He was originally missing Sirius and Amelia's wedding, because that's when he would be staying here, and that's one event I'm sure there will be no problem inviting you to."

Dudley quickly agreed with his mother. "I would much rather go with you, and I didn't know you knew anything about magic…"

At that, Dobby had returned. "Darla is at the Longbottoms asking for permission but Sirius invited Miss Amanda to his wedding. Hermione wondered if you had spoken to Miss Amanda about dresses, Harry fell about laughing at that…"

Darla appeared and confirmed Amanda would be welcome at the ball, allowing Dobby to offer Hermione's suggestion.

"If your mum and dad drop you and Miss Amanda at the Leaky Cauldron, the gang will be waiting to take you both shopping. Dobby will bring Miss Amanda home, from today's shopping and the ball."

Turning his attention to a gobsmacked George, Dudley was once more confident in himself as he asked an important question. "Sir, may I have your permission to take your daughter to the Longbottom Family Ball tomorrow evening? Lord Black's wedding to Madam Amelia Bones is the twenty seventh of December, we can of course wait until after the ball to make arrangements for that."

While easily seeing his daughter was desperate for him to say yes, George had a lifetime of experiences telling him this was not a good idea. He had trouble believing that the daughter of a squib and a muggle would be made welcome at an event that would see the cream of Britain's magical society attending. "Are you sure Amanda will be okay?"

Dudley couldn't hold his laugh at that, leaving his mother once more having to answer for her son. "This will be a formal occasion, so Amanda's gown - like mine and Emma Granger's - will have the crests of the Potter and Black house on them. My nephew and his intended will also have to wear their Orders of Merlin, First Class. Your daughter will be treated with the utmost respect by everyone at both events. To do otherwise would invite the ire of not only our host, herself a formidable lady, but two powerful houses as well."

George nodding his agreement saw Amanda hug Dudley and then jump into her father's arms. "Thank you so much, Daddy."

"I'll need to go to the bank…" George found himself being interrupted by the most unlikely source. He'd never seen a house elf who acted like this before.

"Dobby is to tell sir that Lord Potter will be meeting all expenses for these events. Miss Amanda is a guest of his family, allowing her to wear those house crests. Everyone is really looking forward to meeting her."

Amanda baulked a bit at that until Dudley took her hand. "They are very nice people who will love you. They may be magical, have titles and medals, but they don't act any different to you or me."

Surprisingly enough, it was actually Vernon who supported his son's point of view. "I can honestly say they are a smashing bunch of kids, and our Dudley has certainly benefited from their friendship. You still wouldn't get me behind Harry on a broom though…"

This had the other two Dursleys laughing, until Dudley explained they had both flown with Harry at Hogwarts. Dudley was also sure Amanda could be added to their group, next time they visited Hogwarts to watch Harry play quidditch. Amanda was still holding Dudley's hand while her father held her other arm, meaning she couldn't pinch herself. It turned out there wasn't time as she now had to head off to be fitted with a dress for a ball. She practically floated out the room and into the Dursleys' car, Dobby once more reiterating his promise to George that he would bring her home when they had finished shopping.

George wasn't sure how today's meeting with Dudley and his family would go. This had worried him since a blind man could see his Amanda was sweet on the lad, a lad he himself liked. Never in his wildest dreams though did he envisage the outcome he'd just witnessed. Time would tell who was right but he had to concede the other people in his house today were more up to date on the current state of British wizarding society than he was. Considering those other people were three muggles, that in itself told a story he was struggling to believe.


Stealth was simply not an option for Severus. The hard frost covering everything for as far as the eye could see meant that every step he took was accompanied by a crunch of frozen fallen leaves or brittle blades of grass crumbling below his boots. The frozen forest actually looked beautiful in the weak December sunshine, the clear skies ensuring that the mercury had slipped well below freezing last night. Severus had no time to stand and admire the beauty that surrounded him however, he only had about six hours of daylight in which to search for his master. The frost also brought an advantage to Severus too, the underfoot conditions making it a lot harder for anyone else to sneak up on him.

In the crystal clear air, the smell of woodsmoke was clearly discernible. This was forcing Severus to make a choice. Did he approach whoever had built the fire, or avoid them at all costs? Knowing his master's affinity with snakes, and that any snake would need to either hibernate or find a source of heat in this cold snap, he decided to have a look at this fire.

Severus could hear a couple of voices as he approached, the noise they were making allowing him to get close enough to see without his presence being detected. There was a person lying on the ground, Severus suspected they may be injured but was far more interested in pinpointing the source of the other voice he could clearly hear.

The person was lying alongside a fallen tree, with a small fire in front of him. A pack containing supplies was also close, leaving Severus to wonder just how long this dirty and disheveled person had been in this position. Listening to the voices bickering like children reinforced his initial impression that this was no bounty hunter, rather just someone severely down on his luck. Whilst not being able to spot where the second voice was coming from, Severus didn't get any sense that this situation was dangerous to him. He still approached with caution, and his wand was already in his hand.

The person lying there finally heard his approach.

"Hello? Is anyone there? We need help here?"

"Who's there? Are you shouting at shadows again?"

"Shadows don't make a noise and I clearly heard someone approaching. Hello?"

Severus stepped into view. "Hello, who are you - and where is your friend?"

"Oh am I glad to see you, see anyone…"

"At least you can see, I spend all day staring at this bloody fallen tree. Turn around and let me look too."

"We tried giving you a shot at the front. The fire almost went out and we don't have any matches left."

"It's not my fault, your arms are on backward…"

The man on the ground turned as much as his injury would permit him, allowing Severus a glimpse of the face growing out the back of his head. A glimpse was more than enough for Severus to recognise who it was, and immediately drop to his knees. "Master, what happened to you?"

"See, I have a name. Master is so much better than that Hubert you were calling me."

"You sounded like a Hubert to me."

"What does a Hubert sound like?"


"Yet you think you're a Troy? How did that come about?"

"Could someone please tell me what happened here?" Severus found himself having to use his professor voice. This entire situation was surreal, it was like dealing with a couple of squabbling first years.

"I don't really know. I woke up here and it was getting dark, I don't like the dark."

"Terrified of it, more like."

"Then I met Hubert here..."


"...and invited him to keep me company. I don't know what happened after that but we ended up like this."

Almost growling now, Severus asked again. "Who are you, and how did you come to be lying in this forest?"

"I told you, we don't know. We don't know who we are or how we got here. Can you help us, please?"

From kneeling, Severus was now sitting back on his haunches with his head in his hands. Through his fingers he spotted the burnt end of a wand at the edge of their fire. This offered a glimmer of hope, at least this imbecile must be a wizard. Severus using his wand to scan for injuries had this wizard almost crawling under the fallen tree, much to his passenger's indignation.

"What are you doing?"

"What the hell are you doing? I just got a face full of bark."

"Quiet, both of you. I'm trying to help."

That at least shut them up, though what his wand was telling him left Severus even more confused. 'Troy' had been bitten by something that had injected venom into his leg. While that leg was dead and nothing could be done with it, how the poison didn't kill this person was a mystery. He could only surmise the dark lord's affinity to snakes had inadvertently staved off that outcome, his joining with this host however wasn't nearly enough to save the leg. The fallen tree had provided the pair with some shelter from any wind or rain. The longish branch used to draw firewood to them had not only kept them alive, it had wiped out any signs and hope of Severus discovering what might have happened here.

One thing was sure though, whatever happened had happened very close to where they lay. No one would be able to travel far on that leg. It would also appear both had been obliviated to the point where they couldn't even remember their own names. Severus had never seen the spell used to such a powerful degree, and on the dark lord too.

From their mannerisms and tone as they answered his questions, Severus suspected some of the food or drink they had been consuming could be tainted with truth serum. Since veritaserium was colourless, tasteless and odourless, he had no way of checking whether their responses were chemically or environmentally produced. They were strangely calm considering their current dire situation. Lying here, seriously injured in the cold, was certainly no Sunday picnic.

While picking up pieces of wood from outwith their reach to build up the meagre fire, Severus was also trying to gather his thoughts. Since the dark lord who had previously terrorised countries, and was supposed to be Severus' protector, couldn't remember his own name, a part of him thought to build the fire up and just sit back waiting to be captured. The current weather conditions were conjuring an apt analogy for Severus. He was stranded on thin ice, with cracks now reaching toward him.

What kept running through his mind though was one particularly disturbing thought, it wouldn't give him any peace. If he hadn't attacked Potter and his mudblood, Severus Snape would now be a free wizard. Dumbledore was dead and the dark lord no more than a mindless scab on the back of this moron's head.

Any physical or spell damage to a person's memory was usually irreversible, Potter being a recent case in point. With practically all of those memories which make us who we are apparently lost to both residents of this body, the chances of Lord Voldemort ever returning were for all intents and purposes nil.

When two wizards used a wand as firewood, rather than a means of summoning wood and setting it alight, what hope was there left? Even killing this body and dragging it back to Britain wouldn't do him any favours. The best he could hope for when dealing with Bones would be spending the rest of his life in Azkaban.

Severus had diligently done his homework and mapped out a ritual to return his master to the dark lord's former glory. Even his master's current host's interference in those plans could be discounted. Severus was always going to have to find a host to get his master's spirit back to Britain, and he couldn't see any way 'Troy' would have the strength of will to influence the dark ritual in any way whatsoever.

Sitting staring into the flickering flames, while tuning out the constant drivel coming from the forest's diametric version of Laurel and Hardy, Severus gradually distilled his future down to two possible choices. He could spend whatever was left of his short life running and hiding, or he could go for the long shot gamble of hoping the dark ritual would repair his master's mind while supplying a new body.

Since Severus knew he would eventually be caught, there were fifty thousand golden reasons why the hunters would never stop their pursuit, he was now clutching at the flimsiest excuse to lean toward the other option. No wizard had ever cheated death before, surely his master could overcome this small setback? His mind finally deluded into thinking this ritual was a sure thing, Severus now had to figure out a method of smuggling a two-headed one-legged man from here to Britain.

Casting a stunning spell at the unsuspecting 'Troy', Severus welcomed the silence. That leg would have to come off and, just in case his master did regain his memories, he thought it prudent to cast a stunner before the severing charm.

He would have to move quickly, and not just while amputating this leg. He was hoping the holidays would see a degree of laxness seeping into the people they had to sneak past. Severus hoped they would be so full of good cheer, hangover potions would be required the following day.


George had to concede the little elf was as good as his word, bringing home a wide-eyed and hyper excited Amanda. His daughter was talking a mile a minute, describing what she had seen and the people she'd met.

"Oh daddy, they couldn't have been any nicer. Hermione, Susan and Luna were really friendly to me, and I'll meet more of their friends at the ball. Wait until you see my gown, it's beautiful!"

Seeing his little girl standing there holding an exquisite gown in front of her actually had tears welling in the corner of the old soldier's eyes. "It's not just the gown that's beautiful, my little girl is growing up so fast..."

Sitting her gown down on the sofa, Amanda sprang into her father's arms. "Daddy, thank you so much - for everything. I understand why you left that world behind but you should have seen it. Everyone knew who Harry and Hermione were. Just by being in their company the rest of us were instantly accepted. They were being treated almost like royalty yet both are as down to earth as we are. I was certainly being stared at, but it was more like the people doing the staring wanted to join us - not throw us out of there."

"The Dursleys seem like nice people, and you know I like Dudley. That was why I agreed to you attending the ball. I think your mother's necklace would look good with that gown..."

"The one your mother gave you?"

"It was meant to be worn on occasions like this, and your mother would certainly approve of you wearing it to your first ball." George felt his daughter's arms tighten around him as his heart swelled with how much he loved this girl. He loved her so much George was prepared to do something he swore he never would, give Britain's magical society one last chance.


Luna knew there were wrapped presents nestling below the large Christmas Tree with her name on them but nothing could ever compare to this gift. Emma's arms were wrapped around her as she tried to speak through the tears to her mother.

The woman Luna adored thanking her daughter for making those last few moments of her life as pleasant as they could possibly be released a pain she'd been carrying around ever since the accident. Luna knew there were other conversations going on around the room but all her attention was focused on the spirit in front of her.

There were also lots of tears being shed all around but she hoped her friends were experiencing the same positive feelings as her. These were cleansing tears Luna was crying - right up until her mother said it was time for her to leave. Luna now understood exactly what Harry had meant, this was both the most wonderful and yet painful experience of her life. She would certainly do it again, though just not for a while.

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