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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25. Final Chapter – Part One

Minerva McGonagall was renowned as a witch who was not easily impressed. Minerva McGonagall was currently calling on all her considerable experience of dealing with difficult parents and wayward students to stop her jaw hitting the floor and drool running down the side of her mouth. Astonishment, amazement and awe combined didn't come close to how she was feeling at the moment. For the first time in her life Minerva appreciated how parents of muggle borns felt upon hearing that magic was not only a reality but their child was a witch or wizard. Minerva was so far beyond what she considered normal that she had no frame of reference to compare it with. Thankfully for her state of mind, the shocks had built up until her present circumstances, this was the only reason the stern headmistress was able to project the appearance of coping with the situation.

Her eyebrows had first been raised when they left the Leaky Cauldron, the muggle coach was certainly eye opening. What was even more impressive though was how the children just accepted this as the norm, the few who hadn't been on the theme park outing were soon settled in as their friends looked after them. Watching while Charity used a device that allowed her to speak to everyone on the coach reinforced Minerva's belief that she'd made the correct decision by travelling with this group. She had no intention of becoming an unapproachable figure like Dumbledore and there was clearly much to be learned on this adventure. It was only old dogs that couldn't be taught new tricks, felines were a whole other matter.

Heathrow Airport was mind boggling. You could fit Hogwarts, the ministry and probably Diagon Alley too inside the massive building. Young Mr Thomas was something of an aviation buff and Minerva was hearing facts her mind was having trouble accepting. This was apparently only one of the terminal buildings the airport boasted and in excess of thirty million people passed through Heathrow annually. The organisation required transporting that many people and their belongings between destinations as far apart as Aberdeen and Adelaide was too much for the administrator in Minerva to comprehend. She knew how difficult it was to run Hogwarts, the enormous scale of this operation staggered her.

When Auror Tonks appeared with their documents, including completed tags for their luggage, Mr Thomas went into absolute raptures about some business class they would be taking. Minerva had never seen a child so excited about learning. Their luggage shortly disappeared into a hole in the wall and they were all led through to a very nice lounge, complete with free drinks and snacks as they awaited their departure time.

Minerva was currently relaxing on a very comfortable seat, a seat that could change positions at the push of a button, while a young lady served her tea and biscuits. There was no sensation of being over a mile high and travelling at a speed no broom could ever hope to match. There were moving pictures displayed with sound being accessed by placing small items in your ear, she had lighting and temperature controls at her fingertips and not one bit of magic had been used anywhere. Minerva was having the absolute folly of ignoring this world undeniably driven home, anyone who thought the magical world couldn't learn anything from muggles must be mistaking their beer for befuddlement draught.

Observing as her students coped admirably with these astonishing surroundings filled the headmistress with pride. Not so much at any achievement of hers, more how the children of muggle backgrounds all helped their friends enjoy the whole experience. Minerva's gaze was drawn to three girls sitting together with the things in their ears, heads swaying in time as they obviously listened to music. That this was Miss Greengrass, Miss Davis and Miss Parkinson, Slytherin purebloods all, was almost beyond comprehension.

Something about them listing to music triggered a long forgotten memory from her childhood, playing at her best friend's house. Morag's mother had a wind-up gramophone that they played all the time, one of the songs they used to listen to repeatedly now fired off in her mind. 'How ya gonna keep 'em down on the farm, after they've seen Paree' was nothing more than a catchy tune to the two little girls. For the adult Minerva McGonagall, this was the inspiration behind her epiphany that could actually change the magical community of Britain. She had later understood the lyrics were aimed at American soldiers who had fought against the Kaiser, hinting that after seeing the bright lights of Paris they wouldn't be content with returning to farming. Minerva had no problems drawing parallels with the current situation, she would bet her salary and pension those three girls weren't listening to Celestina Warbeck.

Her friend Filius was right, the Potters had shown them all the way forward. Expose the lies and explode the myths, leave the blood bigotry with no place to hide. The children on this plane were undeniable proof of what could be achieved when everyone worked together. As headmistress of Hogwarts, Minerva considered it as her job, if not her duty to prepare the children entrusted to her care for the challenges they would face in the real world. With Cornelius and Amelia making sweeping changes at the ministry, now was the time for Hogwarts to do the same.

There was Qantas stationary available in a pouch at her seat so Minerva started to write down her ideas for change, ideas that would have been considered crazy even six months ago. Then again, if six months ago someone had told her she'd be writing these ideas while flying over the Himalayas at six hundred miles per hour without spilling her tea, Minerva would have assumed they'd been at the cooking sherry. If she wasn't surrounded by Hogwarts students, she might have requested something stronger than a cup of tea herself. A wee dram would certainly hit the spot right about now.

-oOoOo-

The Grangers were watching the multiple reunions taking place in the airport though, with the amount of noise being generated, they were far from the only ones paying attention. Luna had her arms locked around her father while Ginny was being repeatedly hoisted in the air by her twin brothers. Remus and Tonks were also making some noise as they greeted their friends and future family but the commotion around Harry and Hermione easily drowned the rest out. It was when three older girls were shrieking and making a large show of kissing Harry thank you on his cheeks that Emma appeared ready to intervene, she was only prevented from doing so by Minerva's quiet words in her ear.

"Mrs Granger, those three girls are Harry's team mates. They are only teasing him in an attempt to make him blush, both Harry and Hermione are well aware of this fact and either could stop this in an instant."

Minerva's words were born out as Hermione was now laughing rather loudly as the twins were jokingly trying to kiss him as well.

"The Gryffindor team is a really close unit this year, they are also very protective of the youngest quidditch seeker in over a century. This entire squad of children behaves more like a family than a group of friends and I can't thank your children enough for initiating it. They have been the catalysts for so much that is good this year, it breaks my heart to think they may not return because a crazy old man is after them." Minerva saw Dan and Emma about to strongly object so she headed them off, "Mr and Mrs Granger, I understand totally why you did what you did and agree with your decision one hundred percent. Doesn't mean I have to like it though."

Her smile disarmed the parents, both knew their children were of the same opinion. "I think you need to call us Dan and Emma, we are going to be staying in the same house for the next two weeks."

The finally got everyone loaded into the fleet of Toyotas they had hired and the convoy headed for home. It was now evening in Australia and they still had a two-hour drive ahead of them. Dobby would have food waiting for the group when they arrived. A quick tour of the accommodation and then it would be off to bed for some much needed sleep, the fun could begin tomorrow. Harry had come to an agreement with the little guy, Dobby would only provide one meal a day during the holidays. The Potters were well aware of the elf's willingness to work himself into a state of collapse and hoped this would prevent him overworking. Only the fact that he was still going to be cooking Christmas dinner and catering for the wedding had Dobby agreeing, it didn't sit well that someone else would be doing the cooking at other times but he had to admit that these two weeks were going to be very busy. Dobby had never been happier.

They party arrived home to be greeted by thousands of twinkling festive lights strung all over Camp Granger. As much as Sirius wanted to, the rest of the family had drawn the line at items like illuminated and animated Santa in a hot air balloon. One shop managed to go too far even for Sirius, the life-sized plastic figure of Santa with his trousers at his ankles while taking a dump down a chimney had the outraged marauder reaching for his wand. Only Hestia's quick actions had saved them from becoming embroiled in an incident that would have taken some explaining.

"But love, imagine a kid seeing that. Imagine our kid seeing that, that shopkeeper deserved to be hexed."

No one disagreed with the thought behind his objection, it was only the method Sirius chose to vent those objections that they had to curtail. Hestia was so pleased at the thought of 'our kid' that she raised no objections when her fiancé bought enough fake reindeer to start his own herd. They were placed tastefully in groups around the camp. Each hut also had its own Christmas tree for its occupants to trim, decorations would be purchased on their first shopping day.

Tomorrow was an acclimatisation day, they would lounge about while making use of the camps many facilities, giving them all a chance to recover from the long haul flight. The dozen friends of Tonks and Hestia were sharing three huts along with Charity and the aurors.

The food and drink was laid out as a buffet and people helped themselves while milling around and discovering their home for the next fortnight. No one was disappointed that they would be staying in camp tomorrow, the news was actually greeted with enthusiasm. Oliver took it a step too far though when he called a Gryffindor Quidditch practice for the afternoon, thankfully Penelope was able to move from his side quickly enough to avoid the food thrown at her boyfriend. Although they vocally voiced their objection, the other six players were looking forward to doing some flying in the sunshine.

-oOoOo-

Dan and Ted were slaving over a massive hot grill and loving every minute of it. They had regiments of sausages, acres of bacon and eggs frying by the dozen. A large cauldron of beans was suspended over a camp fire and Sirius had even transfigured a tubular metal triangle for Dan to hit while shouting 'come and get it!' The fact that most people were already up and in the queue for food didn't lessen his enjoyment of the dingala..dingala..ding one iota. Sirius and Remus were on tea, coffee, fruit juice duty while Robert had bread rolls, butter and jams on every table. Before the party left from Hogwarts, the mercury had barely risen above zero degrees Celsius for a fortnight. Add in the wind chill factor and you got the usual weather report for the Scottish Highlands in December, bloody freezing.

Eating breakfast al fresco in the beautiful Australian sunshine was an instant hit amongst the very happy campers. Lunch would consist of a mountain of sandwiches that the ladies would prepare and of course there was fruit in abundance at every meal. This would allow Dobby time to make their evening meal.

Although the youngest, Ginny found herself showing the older bunch around. Fred and George had asked for a tour with their Quidditch team mates and Penelope tagging along. Luna was doing the same with her father, she'd missed him so much and planned on spending the entire day by his side.

The adults were all going over wedding plans while the aurors, minus Tonks of course, were checking the perimeter inside the wards to get a better understanding of the place .Harry and Hermione were catching up with their friends as they all walked down the path to the private beach, with the Quidditch practice this afternoon Harry wanted to spend the morning just hanging out and having a few laughs. Everyone was just in shorts and t-shirts, more concerned with getting their bearings than a tan at the moment.

Millie was watching the waves and reassessing her decision to give surfing a try, "Is surfing really hard to learn Harry?"

"Well that depends on whether the board you're using is jinxed or not Millie."

This led to multiple cries of 'what' while Hermione's complexion became more like a Scottish tomato than English rose. "How..when...why?"

Harry smiled at his wife. He'd been so happy that she'd actually attempted a prank, Harry had actually fell off his board a few times on purpose. "When the board started moving against the flow I soon figured it out, you seemed so happy to think you got away with a prank I didn't want to spoil it for you."

This earned Harry a loving kiss from his wife as Neville let out a theatrical sigh. "Ok, let me see if I've got this right. Hermione pranks Harry, Harry knows she's doing it but says nothing and plays along, this earns him a grade one snog? How in Merlin's name are we ever supposed to understand girls?"

Hermione had her head on Harry's chest while wrapped in his arms as she answered, "You're not supposed to understand us Neville, we don't understand ourselves half the time!"

Lavender pretended to be angry, "Hermione, you're not supposed to tell the boys our secrets."

Justin just laughed, "Don't worry Lavender, I didn't understand a word of that."

It was Dan who needed to be restrained that afternoon, watching Oliver shout encouragement to the twins firing cannonballs at his son was not the dentist's idea of fun.

It was his daughter's hand that gripped his arm, "Dad, it's part of the game. They train like this so those things don't get near him in a real match. Harry's the most natural flier I've ever seen so don't worry, those things won't touch him."

Dan and Emma had seen the kids on brooms before but this was oh so different. It was like comparing a commercial jet aircraft to a Mig fighter, both might fly in the air but there all similarities ended. The Granger parents watched in terror as Harry appeared to fall from the sky before pulling up with a glint of gold escaping from the fingers of his raised clenched fist.

Emma was the first to speak after the applause had died down, "Hermione, I don't think my heart could take watching Harry play Quidditch."

Hermione replied with real feeling. "Believe me mum, I know exactly how you feel."

Dan was now too engrossed with watching the girls pass a rugby ball to each other with a speed, skill and precision that took his breath away. If this was just the chaser drills, he couldn't wait to see a real match. Dan's first love was football but it would be a number of years before he could go to an English match and not know the score before kickoff, here was a sport Dan could really get into.

Dobby had continued the camping theme for dinner, massive cauldrons filled with delicious soups and stews suspended over camp fires were all around the camp. The little elf could have used the same stasis charms he had placed on the breads, fruit, vegetables and many deserts he had laid out on a long table but thought this fitted the camping theme better. Even Minerva enjoyed waiting in line to fill her plate with this wonderful food, the climate and company making it taste even better.

Ted soon had the big screen assembled outside, he may have a mugle background but was a wizard after all, while Dan set up the projector. Ted had also been a great help in choosing what films to show and they decided to make movie nights part educational as well as entertaining. They were starting the whole movie experience with some real classics, Laurel and Hardy, Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton. The films would be progressively more up to date until they were ready to proceed to a cinema and experience the latest offerings. Loud laughter rolled over the camp as these masters of comedy enthralled a totally new audience. Minerva McGonagall had something else worth adding to her list of things she wanted to introduce to Hogwarts, just as soon as she stopped shaking and the tears of laughter allowed her to write again. Dan hadn't the heart to tell her that all these films were at least half a century old. He was really looking forward to seeing their faces when they watched one of his favourite movies. In Dan's opinion, there was no better way to let your Christmas dinner digest than by sitting down for a few hours with your family and watching the Wizard of Oz.

-oOoOo-

The cruise ship had also reached Oz but this had unleashed a new set of problems for the Dursleys. Petunia currently couldn't take her eyes off the new gown she'd bought, she'd also been sweating buckets while she'd waited for the credit card transaction to clear. They had began to max out their cards but it was imperative she had something new to wear for the Christmas Eve Ball held on board the ship. Their new friends still suspected nothing and they needed to keep it that way, a new ball gown became a necessity. Dudley would just have to survive with fewer presents this Christmas, Marge could deal with the fall-out back in Britain.

A knock on their cabin door had Vernon moving to answer. They suspected it was some of their friends but they were very wrong. In the doorway stood the ship's chief purser, accompanied by two uniformed Australian police officers.

The trio entered their cabin before the chief purser spoke. "Mr and Mrs Dursley, if that is your real names, your little scheme has been discovered."

At the back of his mind, Vernon had been wondering when the kick in the stones would be administered. Things had been going a shade too well for the Dursleys and the usual downturn had been overdue. Petunia though was clueless and wondering why the police were here. "Excuse me sir, there seems to be some mistake here."

It was one of the policemen who answered, "Yes, and you made it. One thing we Australian's hate is con artists. Did you really think you could get away with it?"

While Vernon felt the feeling of dread begin to overtake his body, Petunia answered in all honesty. "I'm sorry but I have no idea what you're talking about. We won this cruise fairly and squarely."

It was the chief purser who answered. "We never disclose the circumstances that led to our guests being on board, it's entirely up to them if they wish to share it with the other passengers. You took that to the most extreme case it has been my misfortune to witness. It has come to our notice that the company you supposedly won your holiday from is nothing more than an elaborate hoax. Perpetrated no doubt by yourselves."

Vernon was now half expecting something like this to be the case since the police were involved but Petunia exploded with righteous indignation. "Why the hell would we want to do something like that?"

The other policeman now looked at the couple in disbelief, "You expect us to believe someone went to all this trouble to play a prank on you? If you weren't in on this then someone must really have it in for you two."

Vernon and Petunia shared a quick glance, they instantly suspected the freaks were behind this. If that little girl could turn their table into a living, moving pig, forging a few documents should be child's play.

It was the chief purser who informed them just how deeply in the shit they were. "This cruise package for this grade of cabin costs thirty thousand pounds."

Vernon knew at once they were screwed, no wonder their friends had money to splash about if they could afford to spend that on a holiday. Their annual trip to Brighton hadn't really prepared them for this experiance.

There was worse to come, "While all food is included in that price, drinks from our bars isn't. Your bogus holiday scam had your bar bill covered and you have been very generous in ordering drinks for your friends. Since we left Southampton, you have managed to amass a bill of over ten thousand pounds." This figure surprised everyone in the room. Both policemen knew they couldn't afford something like this cabin, far less being able to spend ten grand at the bar. It began to look as if these two here couldn't afford it either and had scammed their way onto the ship. They would be experiencing a severe downgrading in accommodation and catering very shortly.

The chief purser continued. "It was only the size of the bar bill that led to us performing further checks which uncovered the fraud. Had you just quietly went about your business, you would probably have pulled it off." After giving this a few seconds to sink in, he had to cover himself in the very slight chance they had made a mistake here. "If you can pay the forty thousand pounds you now owe us, these gentlemen can leave and no one aboard ship need be made any the wiser. If not, the company will press charges of fraud and these gentlemen here will arrest you."

Neither the purser nor the police had any doubt to where this pair would be spending Christmas. Petunia was desperately searching through her folder for the documents from the company they won the holiday from. Unfortunately, it was now full of illustrated menus telling her where to get the best kebab's in Little Whinning. Vernon knew they were done for, he couldn't pay a tenth of that at the moment. A police conviction for fraud would cost him his job, the house would have to be sold anyway to pay off their debt to the cruise company and their credit card bills. Anything left over from the house sale would disappear into the hands of the lawyers. Vernon so wanted to rant and rave he could almost taste it but these weren't British police, their Australian counterparts had guns instead of truncheons. His only wish now was to avoid significant jail time.

The Dursleys were led off the ship in handcuffs as all their new friends watched. When several of the ladies raced back to their own cabins, loudly proclaiming they were going to ensure none of their jewellery was missing since the Dursleys had been in there, Petunia began to cry.

These were not the kind of memories she had hoped to brag about at her bridge club. Then again, with the house gone, so would her club be. It would probably be a council estate for them now and she doubted many of them played bridge. A stay in jail would soon help Petunia Dursley set her priorities right, there were more important things in life she should have been worrying about. Both Dursleys were so lost in their own thoughts they never even noticed the small press contingent that was waiting at the bottom of the gangway. The photographer's flash added another level to their pain.

-oOoOo-

Christmas Eve had been a massive shopping trip that included lunch and dinner, Minerva had to buy more stationary as her list of things that needed changed at Hogwarts grew with her experiences. How she was going to explain pizza to the castle elves was just one of the challenges facing her when they returned to Scotland. It was a weary but happy bunch of shoppers who returned in the Toyotas to the camp. Dobby had gallons of delicious hot chocolate waiting on them, and they were soon revived and ready for the tree trimming competition.

Sirius had found a really spectacular star, the sequence of its glittering coloured lights made it appear almost organic. That it played Christmas Carols when someone walked passed was an added bonus to the marauder. The winning hut would have the star displayed on their outer wall, proclaiming their superior tree trimming skills to the entire camp. With Xeno and Minerva acting as the judges, dressed as Mr and Mrs Claus of course, the tiredness was soon shed as the fun continued.

Sitting around camp fires, toasting marshmallows while singing Christmas carols might have seemed a bit strange. After the experiences they'd had since leaving Hogwarts, even McGonagall, still dressed as Mrs Clause, conducting 'Hark the Herald Angels Sing' with her toasting fork didn't rate a mention.

Harry had a surprise planned for his fiends tomorrow before dad showed the big movie, he would wait until after dinner to reveal it. Dan was also delighted with how well things were going. With Boxing Day being all about the double wedding, the kids were then going to spend the following day on the pirate ship. This should give the newly married couples the house to themselves for the day. Emma was beside him with her head on his shoulder, as the first few bars of 'Silent Night' came from one of the young auror's guitar, both looked toward their children. Seeing them sitting there, safe, happy and surrounded by their friends was all a parent could ever wish for. Who knew what the future would bring, the other magical timeline was so altered as to be useless as a guide from now on. They could only enjoy what they had and face anything that came their way as a family. 'Silent Night, Holy Night, All is calm, All is bright.' As they sang the words, Dan was left wondering 'but for how much longer?'

-oOoOo-

Dumbledore had spent hours staring at the clock before deciding it was time for action. Not knowing what part of Australia they were in meant his local time of arrival calculations were always going to be at best a guess. He used his wand to activate the portkey and could feel it struggling to overcome what must be very powerful wards. His elation spiked as it forced its way through and he vanished, Albus Dumbledore had left the building!

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