In this World and the Next

Not for Weasley fans, dark beginning and rating is for safety. A Re-do with payback on the menu H/Hr Complete

https://www.fanfiction.net/s/5627314/1/In-this-World-and-the-Next

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13. Chapter 13

Muriel had risen bright and early on Sunday morning, bursting with anticipation of the upcoming confrontation, she hadn't anticipated experiencing a confrontation before she set foot in the castle.

"It makes no difference if you told the headmaster you were coming today or not, until I receive conformation back from him then I can't allow you access to the castle."

Muriel was not about to be thwarted by a mere security guard, "If you were doing your job properly then I wouldn't need to be here, where was this wonderful security when my nephew went missing yesterday?" Her smug expression was soon wiped off her face by a voice coming from behind her.

"That wonderful security was foregoing his day off to accompany a bunch of students on a school trip. I believe two of your nephews and niece were also involved."

Muriel spun round to face this new threat, the fact that it had bright pink hair was enough to set her off. Totally ignoring the auror robes or the five other aurors with her, Muriel cut loose. "I can assure you none of my relations were on any school trip, they would have needed my permission which would most certainly not have been forthcoming. My niece doesn't even attend this school, it would appear they are letting absolutely anyone wear auror robes these days."

Remus found himself liking this harpy even less after the way she spoke to Tonks, he understood immediately that the twins must have forged this woman's signature and couldn't blame them in the slightest. To divert her attention away from that fact he concentrated on Ginny's presence at the theme park.

"Ginny was present as a guest of Lord and Lady Potter, she and her friend Luna have been spending the weekend with them. Miss Tonks was there as a ministry auror to assist with security, I can assure you we both take our jobs and responsibilities very seriously. Your Nephew did not leave the castle while I was in charge of security. The headmaster's answer should arrive any minute, until then you are not allowed access."

Just to upset Muriel more, the six aurors passed straight through. Tonks rubbed some salt in the festering wound by shouting back, "Remember I'll see you Wednesday for the lessons Remus, I'll clear it with McGonagall so I'm allowed entry."

She walked away laughing with the other aurors, leaving behind a furious Muriel and a werewolf who just had his day considerably brightened.

-oOoOo-

Draco Malfoy could be considered part seer as he'd made a far more accurate prediction than the resident professor of divination ever did, breakfast that morning was full of still hyper students telling anyone who would listen just how great their Saturday had been. Logo covered baseball hats, T-shirts, furry stuffed toys and a multitude of muggle photographs, automatically taken of the students on various rides, added an unusual yet welcome touch of spice to breakfast in the castle.

McGonagall was delighted the day had been such a success. At the staff table Charity was also laughingly showing her photograph of being strapped in next to Sirius Black and apparently screaming her head off. Knowing that rogue Sirius as she did, Minerva thought that was a perfectly understandable reaction.

She was glad these students didn't have any lessons today, they would hopefully have calmed before classes tomorrow.

McGonagall thought their reaction, or lack of one, to Percy Weasley's disappearance was also perfectly understandable. The boy hadn't been well liked without any close friends, the fact that it took his brother the entire day to notice he was missing told its own story. That family's run of bad luck was becoming ridiculous, it almost seemed as if someone had it in for the Weasleys. Minerva would have been deeply troubled to discover just how true that thought was.

Minerva also hoped the planned ministry trip would amount to more than a walk around the building before listening to Fudge talk, after yesterday's outstanding success the ministry now had the students' high expectations to live up to. They'd all seen what the muggle world had to offer and been very impressed, the ministry better get its act together because the children would inevitably judge one against the other. It wouldn't do for the magical world to be found wanting.

Several parents were sitting down to breakfast while reading the latest letters from their children, glowing with praise of the muggle world and sharing the same thoughts as Minerva.

-oOoOo-

Amelia didn't need to read between the lines to discover Susan not only had a wonderful day but was very impressed with what she experienced. The head of the DMLE decided there and then that her department would run some combat simulations or practice duels that the kids could observe. She would also speak to some other departmental heads about putting on something a bit more exciting for the students.

Yes let the kids see the nuts and bolts of how the ministry worked but they had to remember they were dealing with kids. With a wry grin Amelia remembered asking Susan what part she liked best from her first ever visit of the ministry. Without any hesitation, the then eight year old replied, "The cafeteria, that cake we had was just brilliant!"

Amelia had made the classic mistake of forgetting her niece was a kid. To an eight year old, cake was way more important than a stuffy Wizengamot chambers or aurors in uniform.

Brian Davis was also beginning to think he'd made a classic mistake in judging Lord Potter by traditional pureblood behaviour. Reading Tracy's letter again it would appear he really did want nothing more than his daughter's friendship as payment for a life debt. He would reserve final judgement until he'd met Lord Potter for himself, he was honour bound to encourage Tracy to be friends with them now but it really was a duty he would happily perform.

-oOoOo-

Dumbledore's short letter from Remus made for much less pleasant reading, he was sorely tempted to deny the woman access to the castle. Albus racked his brains but couldn't come up with a decent enough reason for sending her home, with his position already precarious he didn't think he could get away with dismissing her out of hand. He sent a note back granting access to the dragon lady. Deciding this was one meeting he was going to have in his office, he asked Minerva to escort Muriel there.

-oOoOo-

Minerva was waiting at the front door for them, she invited Remus along in his role as security advisor. Knowing the temper Muriel had, he might be needed.

She barged into Dumbledore's office in no mood for any preliminaries or verbal sparring, she wanted to get straight to the meat of the matter. "So old man, employing one death eater while harbouring another not enough of a balls-up for you? You have to start losing students in your care now. Perhaps you'd care to explain how my nephew was misplaced, and why no one noticed until it was brought to your attention by his youngest brother?"

Albus was well aware the Weasley children were her grandnephews and nieces who she constantly and continually berated at every given opportunity. This manufactured display of affection from the hateful woman was fooling none of those present.

Dumbledore was beginning to get seriously miffed at everything in the world being his fault, it was time to show this bitch who she was dealing with. "Miss Prewitt, it would appear your grandnephew has run away and is currently listed as missing, though for the life of me I can't think why he'd do something like that." The sarcasm and piercing look the last line was delivered with almost had Minerva and Remus sniggering, the Miss barb hurting almost as much as the missing.

"The castle and grounds have been thoroughly searched by Hogwarts staff and this morning a group of aurors are continuing the search. I'm afraid that at the moment all any of us can do is wait and see what their investigation uncovers."

Muriel was about to explode, wait and see was not good enough in her book, she wanted so action. The fireworks were delayed though by the arrival of Tonks.

"Headmaster, we found the boy's journal hidden in his trunk and think this will answer a few of the questions concerning his disappearance. Let me read some of it out to you."

Got my prefect's badge today, phase one of my master plan completed. Now all I need is for some of those prefect rounds to be in the company of Penelope, she really should get to know me before I ask her to Hogsmead.

Have never been so humiliated in my life, McGonagall ruined my future in front of the entire school. I couldn't even bring myself to look in the direction of the Ravenclaw table. I could never hold my head up in Hogwarts again and definitely don't want to return there.

Wood just left to go on patrol with Penelope, can't write any more at the moment. Too angry to think straight!

All eyes were now glued to Tonks as this tale unfolded.

The Potters just invited Wood and Penelope to London on Saturday, I cannot allow that to happen. My whole life is crashing down around my ears, I need to do something- but what?

Almost did something really rash, don't want them to get away with this but require a well thought out plan. Need it fast though.

Trip is tomorrow and I need to do something, getting desperate.

They all thought this was Percy's gradual build-up to running away, Muriel now had another target to vent her vitriol on. "Who is this vixen Penelope that ensnared my nephew to the extent he would run away from his family?"

Minerva came right back at her, "The girl in question doesn't even know your nephew exists and has done nothing to encourage this fantasy he seems to have built for himself. His own brothers confirmed he hadn't even spoken to the girl. This is no star-crossed lover's scenario, instead a rather unhealthy obsession on Percy's part that quite frankly gives me the creeps."

Tonks butted in, not wanting to become embroiled in any pissing contest between these two formidable women. She wouldn't have minded a side bet on Minerva though. "With no sign of abduction or foul play, we are now treating this as a simple runaway case. We shall continue searching the castle and grounds today but don't expect to find anything else."

With that she left, Remus grabbed the opportunity to accompany her out the door, and anywhere else she wanted to go.

Albus was actually relieved, this was the first time in weeks something had went the way he wanted it to, he decided to end this as quickly as possible. Listening to Muriel Prewitt was not his ideal way of how to spend a pleasant Sunday morning. "As you heard, the case now passes to the ministry. Can I ask if you will be contacting the boy's parents or will that be left for us to do?"

Muriel was raging, this was not how she expected this to play out. She wanted blood on the carpet, preferably not her own. "I am perfectly capable of informing them myself."

Albus just nodded and sat there quietly, that she'd been so shoddily and easily dismissed certainly didn't improve her mood as she stormed from the castle in a rage. She would soon let Molly know what that idiot son of hers had cost Muriel Prewitt, lovesick young fool who was letting his hormones do his thinking. He better hope the aurors found him first because she would bloody castrate him!

-oOoOo-

Hermione realised showing their friends around her home patch was a bad idea the moment she recognised some of the group walking toward them. Melissa, Shauna and Abigail were her chief tormentors all the way through primary school, and of course they had a couple of clueless boys following them around in the hope one of the girls might actually speak to them.

Hermione was having difficulty adjusting to the fact that it was only three weeks ago she left here to find a new life, it looked as if her old one was coming back to bite her on the arse. She wasn't in any way worried about her tormentors possessing the ability to hurt her, it was more Harry's reaction to them she was concerned about. He certainly wouldn't take too kindly if they started hurling abuse at his wife!

Luna and Ginny's reactions were also unknowns, the couple's story of having been friends since primary school wouldn't stand up to too much examination. This lot saying they'd never seen him before certainly wouldn't help, Luna and Ginny's first weekend in the muggle world was just about to become even more educational.

"Oh look, Granger's parents must have bought her some people to hang out with!"

"Well we all know they couldn't be her real friends."

"Yes, who'd want to be friends with that?"

The round of hollow laughter that followed the synchronised verbal assault was as phony as their hair colour. Their routine though was slick and well honed through many years of diligent practice, they just didn't know this was a totally different Hermione Granger they were dealing with.

Calmly Hermione answered her long time tormentors, "Oh, you would be surprised Melissa. Without bitches like you, Shauna and Abigail around, my life is actually quite pleasant now."

This was too much for Steve, no one spoke back to Melissa. Here was his chance to show the girl of his more pleasant dreams just what he was made of, he pushed his way forward to confront Hermione before a cold voice caused him to hesitate.

"I seriously wouldn't do that if I were you!"

Steve took one glance at the stature of the boy he was faced with and instantly dismissed Harry as any threat, "Why? What are you going to do about it?" He challenged.

"Oh nothing, I was just giving you a friendly word of warning. My Hermione is more than capable of taking care of herself."

The 'my Hermione' bit threw them for a second, and in that second the girl in question decided to act. Steve was standing with both feet planted and fists clenched, ready to hit Hermione for sullying the name of the beautiful and fair Melissa. Unfortunately for Steve, Hermione had no intention of fighting fair.

In a take-down almost identical to the technique first used by Mrs Potter on Ron Weasley, Steve found himself kissing the ground while his tackle sent messages of unbelievable pain to his brain and his nose coloured the pavement red.

Harry theatrically shook his head, "Some people just never listen to good advice. Because someone makes the choice not to fight back doesn't mean they can't. As a lady, Hermione also reserves the right to change her mind at any point that suits her." They were clearly listening to him though their eyes never left their fallen friend. "Oh and in case that demonstration wasn't enough and you need it explained further, any attacks on my Hermione will be met in the same manor. Swiftly and painfully, for you that is!"

Harry now stood shoulder to shoulder with his wife and both looked ready for trouble. "Would anyone else like to say or do anything to my girlfriend? No? Well if we're done here then kindly take him with you and consider yourselves lucky. I wouldn't have been nearly as forgiving as Hermione."

They walked away from the stunned group, their original intention was to have a nice walk and then stop off for a burger. Hermione wasn't feeling hungry anymore, whether from the confrontation or the look of absolute hero worship in Ginny's eyes was debatable.

Luna spoke to Harry, "I'm beginning to understand your comment in the restaurant, it would seem neither of you has an easy childhood."

Harry had his arm around Hermione's waist and realised he needed to answer this, Luna was a very smart girl who he didn't want to lie to. "Hermione is a brilliant young lady, it's rather plain to see that crowd could easily be considered 'intellectually challenged'. I had a very large cousin who beat-up anyone who even spoke to me, far less try to befriend me. You can possibly understand why Hermione and I weren't seen together in public too often. Now that I no longer live with my relatives the need for hiding has passed and the gloves can come off. We won't stand for behaviour like that from anyone."

Harry knew this wasn't great but making things up on such short notice to save their arses was Hermione's forte, not his. Both Luna and Ginny accepted it though; it was close enough to the truth about their childhoods to be believable.

Hermione was quiet as they made their way back home, heading directly for their room the moment she entered the house. Harry excused himself from the two girls and followed his wife up the stairs. As he entered the bedroom, she was standing with her back to him and facing out the window.

Her voice was shaky as she spoke without turning around, "Harry, I don't know who I am anymore. What I just did is so out of character that I don't know what came over me!"

Harry had his arms comfortingly around her as she leaned back, resting her head on his chest. "Hermione love, I knew exactly what you were going to do today, remember I was there when you smacked Malfoy silly back in third year. You are the same Hermione who told Hagrid's giant brother off in sixth year. You my love are a formidable woman, unfortunately in the body of a twelve year old girl."

Harry could see that got her thinking so decided to speak about a subject that they'd danced around for three weeks. "Hermione, why didn't you tell me what that bastard had done to you that morning in Hogwarts?"

He felt her body immediately stiffen in his arms but continued to gently hold her, trying to express what he felt for her through his touch.

Eventually she answered, "Harry, I know exactly what you would have done and didn't want you to get into trouble."

"Hermione, it doesn't work like that! I love you and want to be there for you, that's one of the reasons why we're married. Even back then you were the most important person in my life. Would I have killed him, unquestionably! Him and anyone else who tried to stop me. Would there have been repercussions, again beyond a doubt but I still would have done it. Instead we ended up dealing with it six months later and got murdered by the ministry as way of thanks."

Hermione's shaky voice indicated just how troubled she was, "I understand where you're going with this Harry, we should deal with our problems before they can become worse. I mostly agree with that but there's a part of me screaming I don't have the right to make these decisions. I'm scared Harry, I'm scared of losing who I am by acting this way." She attempted to offer up an explanation, "The Ron we're planning to murder hasn't done anything to merit it yet, I look at the changes in Ginny and wonder if he doesn't deserve the same chance."

Harry had moved her hair and was now gently kissing her neck in between speaking softly to Hermione, "Can I ask you something? Do you think me or Neville would ever have done that to you?"

"NEVER!" was her immediate and loud reply.

Harry continued what he was doing, speaking softly to her. "There's your answer love, Ron came back for more and only me getting there in time stopped the bastard. Something like that has to come from within, as you so rightly said Neville or me could never do it. Ron accepted that as a pureblood you were his plaything, not something you can change or I will ever allow to happen."

He gently turned her around to face him, "For us it's only been three weeks since he broke into this house and took you away, anyone trying that now is in for a very nasty surprise courtesy of our goblin friends. Halloween is going to be brutal, why don't we head to Australia after it? Whether it's a holiday or something more permanent we can decide after we're there." He kissed away the tears that were running down her cheeks, "I didn't come back in time to save the world, I came back for you!"

Hermione responded by kissing him back, "Can we do that? What about everyone else?"

"We can do anything we like love, I have no intention of saving Britain if the cost is my wife suffering a breakdown. Let's do what we've got planned until Halloween and then leave. No one is more important to me than you. We've really only had that time in Australia with mum and dad to relax, and I now know you would have spent most of that berating yourself over what happened."

She held him tighter, amazed at how well Harry knew her. "If only we could get the diary away from Malfoy, then we wouldn't need to come back."

"I'm ready to take any chances that are offered, if the powers that be are listening we could use a little help with this one."

Hermione had a brainwave, "Why don't we talk to Sirius about it, he'll be upset that we're handing the recovery of the ring over to the goblins. This would allow him to help and you know there's no love lost between him and Lucius."

"You my dear are a genius! We can discuss it with the family on Tuesday, I vote we take the entire day off school and check the new house as well. I wonder if our builder has any contacts down under, or would fancy a little working vacation."

Hermione wore a quizzical expression, so he gave her the answer she was looking for. "We've already designed the perfect house for us, let's have one in Australia and one in Devon. I have no intention of forgetting our friends so there will be a lot of visiting no matter what our final decision is."

Hermione proceeded to administer their most passionate kiss to date, it was a dazed but very happy Harry who asked his most important question yet. "What was that for? I'm only asking so I can be sure to do it again, with a reward scheme like that hopefully soon!"

"That was for just being you, the person who knows me best in the whole wide world. I have been driving myself crazy, over-thinking our choices and analysing the arse out of everything. I will probably feel guilty about it afterward but I do want him to pay. If we can get Lucius so much the better, him I won't feel anything but relieved that the bastard is finally gone. Molly has lost her home, any respect her family had for her and, eventually, two of her sons. If she stays out of our way I can live with that as a punishment."

Harry could see by the way she was looking at him that this was something she needed, it was almost like a confirmation that she wasn't going dark. The question he had to ask himself was could he trade Ron's death for Molly's life, whatever that life was now. When she looked at him like that, he could deny her nothing. "Ok love, I can live with that if you can."

A repeat of their earlier kiss told him she could, sometimes it was good to be Harry Potter.

Harry could see the determination back in her eyes and was greatly relieved, he would have hated to go behind her back to deal with Ron. He would still have done it though, that image of him standing over a bruised and battered Hermione was burned into his brain. Only Ron's death had any chance of allowing it to fade.

"Oh Harry, we've been such terrible hosts. Luna and Ginny must be wondering where we are?"

"Don't worry love, your mother was leading them away to watch the Little Mermaid. We better get some Gillyweed in for Australia!"

They happy couple walked hand in hand down the stairs to rejoin their friends.

-oOoOo-

Molly Weasley thought her new life sucked! She was irritable, sweating buckets from working in the intense heat and starting to get really pissed-off at the way the local men ogled her as if she was the tastiest thing on the menu. Molly would be the first to admit she had never been what traditionally could be considered beautiful, even as a teenager her most flattering description had been that 'pleasantly plump' girl. Unused to the attention, the stares of these men annoyed her even more, it was as if they were calculating how many camels she was worth. What really had her worried was that things were so bad between her and Arthur, the head of the Weasley family might accept if the offer was high enough.

Bill's contacts had led them to a bar in Cairo, a bar that the owner was considering selling. It had a three bedroom flat above the bar and plenty of room for an extension out the back. They had haggled for hours before reaching a compromise, they would run the bar for six weeks with the option to buy at the end of it.

Molly was now working wherever she was needed, be it in the kitchen or behind the bar. All three Weasleys could see this was a terrific opportunity to earn a living, with accommodation already available. Financially it would take all they had and require a massive effort from the entire family but here was their way back to being able to hold their heads up again. Owning your own business was not to be sneezed at, even if it was just a bar in downtown Cairo.

The owl that arrived from Muriel highlighted exactly how tenuous their position was.

"But Arthur, we have to go back or at least I do! How can we sleep at night not knowing what happened to our son?"

Arthur was not for moving, "Our son who chose to run away over a stupid badge and a girl he hadn't even spoken to! We're barely managing here with the three of us working flat out. When you take in the expense of a trip home and hiring someone to replace you then I have to say no."

Molly was now crying as Arthur further explained his decision, "The future of our whole family now rests on this venture. We need to save enough gold to bring them all here for the summer and pay their next year's tuition at Hogwarts, a year that will see Ginny joining the boys. I'm really sorry Molly but it has to be this way, I'll write to Charlie and see if he can get a couple of days off, he's much closer anyway."

Bill gave his opinion, it actually matched his father's, "If there was something we could do to help, you know this decision would be different. There's nothing we can do that the ministry and Dumbledore won't already be doing. Muriel's there and if Charlie can get over for a few days then that's the best we can accomplish for now. Percy acting like a love lost teen is certainly unexpected but it's always the quiet ones."

Arthur understood this was extremely hard for Molly, it was not an easy decision for him to make either. "By the time we got there, Percy could even have been found. If not, we know he's a resourceful young man who knows how to look after himself." With his first display of kindness since this situation blew up on them, Arthur placed his arm around his wife's shoulders.

"He's run away from home Molly, young men have been doing that since the beginning of time. Britain is a much safer place now and he knows how to use his wand. He'll be fine."

Molly could see their point of view, the mother in her didn't agree with it for a second but she could still see it. One of her babies was lost and she wouldn't be happy until she was crushing him in her arms again, closely followed by the rollicking of his life! She asked her husband for the only thing she knew that could bring her some comfort.

"Arthur, could we ask Muriel to ship my clock out to us. We can tinker with it and try to get it working properly again. I would feel much better if I could at least see their hands on the clock."

Arthur understood how much it was costing Molly not to be racing back to Britain, he had been quite hard on her recently and this was a perfectly reasonable request.

"Ok Molly, I'll write to Charlie first. If he's going to Britain, he could collect it from Muriel. It'll get here quicker if he ships it from Romania."

With a quick letter penned and sent to Charlie, the three Weasleys got back to work.

-oOoOo-

Dan and Emma didn't benefit from the kids using Hermione's new portkey to Hogwarts, they still had to drive Ginny and Luna to the Leaky Cauldron so the girls could floo home. They had just entered the bar when Ginny let out an ear-piercing scream before pouncing on a redheaded man, cries of 'Charlie' left no one in any doubt who this was.

Charlie was spinning Ginny around but his mind was spinning at a much higher rate of knots as he tried to get a fix on what the hell was going on. He'd heard from Xeno that both girls were spending the weekend with these people, then his baby sister walks in looking a million galleons and happier than he'd seen her. She also dropped a rucksack that was obviously new and appeared to be bursting at the seams.

He was dragged over by Ginny to be introduced, "You know Luna, This is Emma and Dan Granger. They're Hermione's parents and I suppose Harry's too."

Charlie didn't understand the situation but that was no excuse for displaying bad manners, "Hi Luna, Mr and Mrs Granger, I'm Charlie Weasley."

Dan shook the young man's hand without hesitation, "Are you the brother who Ginny tells us works with Dragons?"

Charlie instantly liked these people, anyone who could make his sister smile like that got a big thumbs up in his book. "Yes, on a dragon reserve in Romania. I'm in London to see this little one before heading up to Scotland and visiting Hogwarts. We're trying to discover what's happened to Percy."

Emma felt terrible and didn't know what to say, "Oh we haven't met him yet, Fred and George are a lot of fun though."

This had Charlie even more confused until Ginny began to tell him about her weekend. Dan smiled as he interrupted the bubbly girl, "We'll leave you two with Charlie and see you next Saturday."

Luna immediately hugged them both goodbye and Ginny quickly followed her best friend's example. Charlie's in-built manners took over again. "Thanks for taking the girls, it's easy to see they had a good time."

Emma beamed a smile at the girls, "Oh it was no trouble, it was a pleasure to have them. We'll be neighbours soon anyway and our door will always be open."

Charlie was left wondering just how far out of the loop he was as the couple left the pub, he intended to get some answers from Ginny before heading off to Hogwarts. He had thought the Potters were the bad guys here, if that was the case they had a hell of a way of showing it.

-oOoOo-

It was with an air of trepidation that the Potters entered the great hall on Monday morning, part of them was waiting on someone screaming 'murderers' at them. Instead what they got was a warmer reception than Harry remembered from winning Quidditch matches. The fact that it came from all four houses made it that bit more special, it left them thinking that perhaps things could be changed for the better.

As Hermione sat down at the Gryffindor table, Harry headed for the staff one. He handed McGonagall a letter, "Professor, we will require to be out of school tomorrow on legal business. This is our notification in writing."

Dumbledore almost choked on his food, obviously he was listening to every word. "Nothing too serious I hope?" Minerva asked.

Harry smiled at her, as much fun as it would be to bait Dumbledore some more, he decided the truth could work just as well here. "Well professor, if things go the way our lawyers expect them to, I'll have new parents by tomorrow evening."

McGonagall actually returned his smile, "I'm really pleased to hear that Mr Potter, I was against you being left with those relatives from the very beginning."

Harry was onto that comment in a flash, "Would you mind telling our lawyers that professor? They're determined to get to the bottom of why I was abandoned on that doorstep. Every little scrap of information helps them build their case."

Dumbledore's face now bore the look of someone being told the waiter had taken a piss in their half-eaten lasagne, it certainly curtailed his appetite!

"That would be no problem Mr Potter, what time would suit them?"

"Professor, for what I'm paying them they will come when you say it's convenient." Harry handed her their lawyer's card before turning to find Hermione gossiping with Lavender and Parvati, wonders will never cease!

With the amount of blushing Neville was doing, Harry figured he must be featuring somewhere in the gossip.

Wood stopped him before he had time to sit down, informing Harry there was Quidditch practice on Mondays and Thursdays. Thanks to Hermione's portkey, they would be able to return home after the practice to get ready for tomorrow's hearing.

Harry didn't feel too guilty that his chances of being here when the first match was due to be played were very slim. If things worked out the way they hoped, missing Quidditch wouldn't make his list of things to be concerned about.

It was after all only a game, played in a school competition. After what he had seen and done, it wasn't worth getting upset over. He sat next to Neville, hoping to discover why his face was so red before they had to leave for Herbology.

-oOoOo-

Charlie read Percy's journal and reached the same conclusion as everyone else, his younger brother had done a runner! Minerva gave him the journal to forward to his parents, perhaps they could draw some comfort from it while the search for their son continued.

The former student and his head of house spent so long chatting, McGonagall invited him to stay for lunch, this would also give him the opportunity to talk with his three brothers. Ginny had provided so much information that Charlie was having difficulty believing it all. The Potters had bought the Burrow but had paid a very fair price for it and then apologised to both Weasleys who lost their jobs. There was so much contradictory information concerning the Potters that Charlie would actually like to meet them, he headed toward the great hall beside his favourite professor.

It seemed to the dragon handler that this was his day to be shocked, the Gryffindor Quidditch captain was sitting at the Ravenclaw table chatting to an attractive girl. There were Slytherins, Puffs and Claws sitting at the Gryffindor table while the youngest Weasley male sat beside a Malfoy at the Slytherin table. That last one was the biggest shock of all for Charlie.

Minerva couldn't help but notice Charlie's shock as his eyes scanned the hall, she also couldn't help but smile at the positive changes slowly creeping into Hogwarts. She was a great believer in a student's house being their family but that didn't mean they couldn't be friends with people outside their family. There was even a rumour that one of her young cubs was dating a Slytherin. Apparently Minerva was as surprised at the news as young Mister Longbottom, Miss Bulstrode though looked quite at home sitting right next to him at the Gryffindor table as she ate her lunch.

Charlie found the twins' stories matched Ginny's while Ron's outlandish claims that the blame for everything bar the Cannon's usual run of form lay at the Potters' door. Charlie's raised eyebrow toward the other two had George defending the Potters quite vociferously.

"Both Ron and Percy have some problem accepting the Potters, we don't! They were in the company of at least one Weasley since leaving Hogwarts after their last class on Friday."

Fred took over seamlessly from his twin, "Ginny and Luna met them in the Leaky Cauldron, they then went shopping with Emma while Harry was buying Hermione her birthday gift. They were all out together on Friday evening to a fancy restaurant and we spent all Saturday with them."

George gave Charlie his thoughts, "Percy had this whole ideal life planned for himself, it wasn't much of a plan if losing your prefect's badge ruined it. Ron here is also building his own little fantasy world, have you seen who he hangs about with? His group insults the Potters and their friends every chance they get, so much so that the five of them are practically ostracised by the rest of their year group."

Fred agreed with his twin, "Ron sees Harry's money, fame, youngest seeker in over a hundred years and instantly becomes a jealous arsehole. Harry and Hermione are great and our Ginny thinks the world of them, only Ron here and Malfoy think badly of the couple. Brilliant company to be in there little brother!"

Despite Ron's protestations, the elder Weasley was convinced. He glanced over at the two kids who were surrounded by their friends and could see why Ron was jealous, the Malfoy boy was sitting being ignored by everyone and looking seriously miffed about it. Why Ron had aligned himself with that hated family was a mystery to him.

It was time to head back to London and check on any progress the ministry may have made in their investigation. Xeno had offered him a bed for the night which he gladly accepted, not only would he get to spend more time with Ginny but could put off seeing Muriel until tomorrow. That was a win-win scenario as far as Charlie Weasley was concerned.

-oOoOo-

Harry had forgotten how much he loved playing Quidditch, or how much of a taskmaster Oliver was. Feelings of guilt about almost certainly not being available for the match were quickly quashed by the image of another Hogwarts Quidditch captain lying dead in a cemetery. Cedric's life and Hermione's health were way more important. When he had originally accepted the position they had intended to be here, for Harry to withdraw now would immediately lead to questions being asked. These were questions that they certainly didn't want to answer so he was forced to continue as normal.

The practice ended and Harry flew down to the waiting Hermione, riding his new Nimbus two thousand Sirius bought him after hearing Harry made the Quidditch team. Hermione surprised him by jumping on the back and wrapping her arms tightly around his waist.

"What? We still need to get outside the wards and this sure beats walking. Home James!"

Harry couldn't help but laugh at her chauffeur comment, he answered 'Yes Ma'am' before flying off toward the edge of the wards. They waved to Remus on the way past before landing to use the portkey.

-oOoOo-

The three occupants of the house heard the laughter the moment they arrived in the bedroom, the couple walking down the stairs was quite the sight.

Seeing his godson in Gryffindor Quidditch robes, his racing broom in one hand and his girl on the other arm warmed the marauder's heart. "Merlin Harry, you've never looked more like your father than you do at this moment. You know we'll all becoming to see you play, against Slytherin too, I can't wait."

Harry hated doing what he was about to do as he hadn't seen Sirius this excited ever. "Em Sirius, you might have to wait. That game is scheduled for November the ninth, we hope to be in Australia by then."

As much as Sirius was deflated, Dan and Emma were over the moon, "What made you change your minds?" Emma asked.

"If we can pull off what we're attempting I want to take Hermione away from here, whether it's a holiday or becomes something a bit more permanent is something we should decide as a family once everything has settled down a bit." Harry could see the disappointment written all over his godfather's face so decided to throw the old dog a juicy bone.

"Sirius, we have a vitally important task that we would like your help with. It's safe to say the entire outcome will depend on it."

Sirius was now very interested, feeling like a spare wheel was not something he enjoyed.

Hermione sealed the deal when she showed concern over his health and abilities, "Sirius this could be very dangerous, if you don't feel ready for this task then you honestly have to tell us."

The big kid just rolled his eyes, "Guys I'm ready for anything! What do you need me to do?"

Harry laid it out for him, "Lucius Malfoy has something we need very badly, whatever it takes is worth it providing you don't end up back in Azkaban. He's an evil, lying, conniving bastard so you need to be careful and not dick around with this!" Harry had told him how his cousin got the better of him while Sirius was trying to be too clever, Lucius had to be taken very seriously.

"All our plans require that diary to be in the hands of the goblins. If it can be accomplished before Halloween I'll even get 'Padfoot is the greatest!' tattooed on my bum."

"That will be right next to 'Hermione is better' dear?"

Harry gave a very audible gulp in pretence he was scared of his wife, "I was planning on having that on my chest, right over my heart dear."

Dan couldn't hold his laugh, "Oh good save there Harry."

Sirius wasn't laughing, the thought of taking on Lucius Malfoy had focused his mind like nothing before. The plans currently racing through his head were getting wilder and more outlandish but still they weren't quite right. Nothing less than total humiliation was good enough for the head of the Malfoy family.

His grin was feral as Hermione added on another task, "Sirius, if you could free our friend Dobby at the same time I might just have to get matching tattoos with my husband."

The wicked glint in his eyes boded ill for the blond death eater, "I'll do better than that, consider it a late wedding present."

All four could see the vitality almost flow back into the marauder. Not only was he able to be useful again, they were trusting him with something of vital importance. Sirius Black was back in the game and Lucius Malfoy's days were numbered.

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