Harry Potter and Future's Past

Starts out the day after the Battle of Hogwarts. Harry and Hermione meet the Goddess of Love, and she offers to let them go back in time. Strictly Harry and Hermione. Minor - well maybe major Ginny, Ron and Dumbledore Bashing. Soul Bond - Time Travel

https://www.fanfiction.net/s/5664828/1/Harry-Potter-and-Future-s-Past

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23. Chapter 23 Attack

June 25th 1996

Hermione knew she'd only been asleep for a few hours when she awoke. It was still dark in her room as the only the light was from a nearby streetlamp that filtered through the blinds covering her second story bedroom windows. It had been a car starting up next door that had awoken her she knew. She could hear it changing gears and accelerating away. It was a very different noise than she'd experienced over the last year. "Someone is starting their day too early," She thought. Hermione sighed as she looked over at the red numbers on the digital clock that sat on her nightstand. Four eleven am. She rolled over and tried to go back to sleep, but it was no use. She was uncomfortable. Though this was her bed, in her room, in her house, it still was not HER bed. It would take time to readjust to the firmness of the mattress beneath her. As she fought a losing battle of trying to go back to sleep the numbers on the clock kept increasing. As she laid there trying not to toss and turn, her mind wandered to the same time the previous morning when she'd awoke from a nightmare. It wasn't the nightmare she thought of though; no, her thoughts were of her raven-haired husband. She could almost feel his arms around her, comforting her.

"I wished you were here," She mumbled to herself. As she looked over at the other side of her bed, she realized that she no longer slept in the middle as she had always done. She now slept on the left side of the bed as if acknowledging that Harry should be on the other side. His side. She could imagine him lying there, his bare chest rising and lowering with each breath he took. She'd only spent a couple of minutes with those thoughts before an idea came to mind. She quickly got up, grabbed a change of clothes and tossed them into a bag. She threw on her robe and slippers then made her way quietly down the steps and out into the garage. She ducked under the tarp and climbed into the cabinet. A second later she opened the door and stepped into Harry's room. She made sure the door was locked before she removed her robe and slippers and climbed under the covers next to her husband. Though she'd planned on just watching him sleep, it wasn't long before her eyes grew heavy and she laid her head on Harry's chest. A smile appeared on her lips as she inhaled the musky aroma of his body and soon she was fast asleep.

"Mione?" Harry's voice called softly. "Mione, wake up."

Hermione's eyes opened once again and this time she found herself looking into Harry's beautiful green eyes; a look of love and amusement sparkled in them. He was propped on his elbow and looking at her. "Good morning," She said.

"Good morning to you too," Harry said, still with a grin on his face. "Funny though, I don't remember you being here when I fell asleep last night."

Hermione gave him a small poke on his shoulder before admitting, "I woke up early and missed you."

Harry's grin changed to a warmer smile as he gently moved some of her hair behind her ear and followed that with a gentle caress of her cheek. "I missed you too," He said. Then he wrapped his arms around her and pulled her back against him as he laid back down. As his hand gently stroked her arm he asked. "Wonder what would happen if Molly decided to come in now?"

"I made sure the door was locked when I got here."

Harry kissed her on the forehead. "Of course you did," He murmured. "I should never have doubted my wife would not think of that," They laid together enjoying the moment when another thought came to Harry. "What's your father going to say if they wake up and you're not there?"

Hermione groaned. "Nothing good, I'm sure," She gave a sigh and climbed out of bed. She took the set of clothes from her bag and started changing. "I should go back and have breakfast with them," She said as she pulled her nightshirt over her head. As she caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror that sat on top of a dresser she realized she was comfortable with being nude in front of Harry, and from the way Harry's eyes followed her, she knew he didn't mind at all. She smiled when he groaned playfully as she put on her bra. He was able to keep eye contact now when her breast were exposed, but just barely. Finally she was dressed. She leaned over the bed and gave her husband a small kiss on the lips that lingered to just more than a peck. She then turned and opened the cabinet. She was surprised to see a note lying inside. She was sure it had not been there earlier. A quick glance told her it was her mother's writing. "Hermione, I am sure I know where you are. I've told your father you're sleeping late so if you come back before we leave, try not to be noticed coming in from the garage."

"Thank you mother," Hermione whispered then she showed the note to Harry.

"Your mother's okay with me?" Harry asked.

"More of the idea that I have a boyfriend," Hermione replied. "She doesn't really know you yet."

"That's what tonight's for right?"

"A start. Now I really need to get back."

"Take the cloak," Harry suggested. He quickly dug into his trunk for the Invisibility Cloak and handed it to her. "I don't want you in trouble with your father, not over me," He said.

She smiled and nodded as she took the cloak. "I'll be back as soon as they're gone," She said before she hopped into the cabinet. She ducked out from under the tarp into the garage a couple of seconds later. Noticing the car was still there, she quickly threw the cloak over herself. She breathed a sigh of relief when she found no one near the door when she opened it. She quietly made her way up the steps and into her bedroom. Once there she made a considerable amount of noise as she reopened her bedroom door and made her way to the bathroom.

"Awake dear?" Her mother asked with a raised eyebrow as she came out of the master bedroom. "I hope you slept well."

"I didn't sleep very well until about four am," Hermione replied. "Thanks for letting me sleep late."

"I just hope it's not going to happen every day," Jean replied knowingly. "We do like to see you in the mornings."

"Well there you are Hermione," Her father said coming out of the bedroom. His hair was still damp from his morning shower. He looked at his watch. "You must have been really tired to sleep this late. So what do you have planned for today?"

"Harry and I have to go to the Ministry of Magic," Hermione replied. "The lady who called us away yesterday is the head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement. There are still questions about last week."

"I see," Richard Granger replied with a concerned look on his face. "Are you in need of a solicitor?"

"No," Hermione replied. "I'm sure that it's nothing of consequence, just finishing up the investigation and all."

"Well call if you need anything," Richard Granger said. "You still have the number to our office don't you?"

"I have it written down in my planner," Hermione replied.

"Will that take all day?"

"No after that we're supposed to go to Diagon Alley and then we'll probably spend some time at Harry's place," Hermione replied. "Later in the afternoon I want to bring him here and show him our house."

"You're bringing the..." Richard paused to reconsider his words before continuing, "the young man here?" he finished.

"Not twelve dad," Hermione reminded her father. "The Cabinet works both ways remember," Hermione softened her tone. "Dad, please trust me. Give him a chance."

"Richard," Jean said with a glance every husband knew. "I am positive we can trust our daughter to behave herself. Isn't that right Hermione?"

"Yes, of course," Hermione agreed.

"It's not our daughter I'm concerned about," Richard said, more to himself than anyone else. Finally he sighed. "Very well then, just...just.." He stopped and decided not to finish the sentence. "Shall we have breakfast?" He asked instead.

"What would you like Hermione," Jean asked. "It's your first day back and I'll make whatever you want."

"How about you get a taste of a Hogwart's breakfast?" Hermione asked.

"What do you mean?"

"Winky, Dobby?"

"Yes Missus?" the two elves asked as they appeared.

"Could you cook breakfast for us?" Hermione asked. "Oh wait..." She remembered Harry getting in trouble when Dobby used magic at the Dursleys. "If you use magic here will it get me in trouble," She looked at Dobby knowingly.

"No missus," Dobby replied as he looked down at the floor. "Dobby purposely did magic that could be detected when Dobby got Master Harry in trouble. Dobby was trying to help Harry Potter. Dobby hopes Master and Missus aren't mad at Dobby."

"Of course not Dobby," Hermione replied. "We know you were trying to help. I just wanted to make sure I'm not accused like he was."

"Dobby and Winky will be careful," Winky replied. "And when Winky finishes breakfast can Winky clean this house," She asked.

"Do either of you have any problems with the elves cleaning today?" Hermione asked her parents who were just standing there amazed.

"No of course not," Jean answered finally. "If...if that's what they really want to do, but...are you sure it's right?"

"Yes mum, it is," Hermione replied. "One day I might understand it enough to explain it to you, but it's what they want," She turned to the elves. "Go for it; cook us a nice breakfast and then you can clean."

Both elves looked excited as they disappeared.

"We don't have much time to wait for them to cook too large of breakfast," Richard Granger said as he looked at his watch again. "Go tell them to make something small this morning. Maybe they can cook something larger another day."

Hermione smiled knowingly. "Shall we go tell them together?"

By the time they made it to the dining room, the table was already filled with an assortment of things to eat. Eggs, bacon, sausages, toast and numerous other breakfast items were already there. Plates were set out and Winky was busy magically filling juice glasses. Jean and Richard stared at the table in wonder.

"But...but...It was just..." Richard tried but failed to continue.

"This is only what Winky and Dobby could make quickly," Winky said apologetically. "If there is something special Missus or Missus Family wants, Dobby will make it."

"But...but.." Richard was sputtering again as Hermione led him to the table. "It's magic dad. I might not be able to do it this summer, but now at least you can get a taste of it."

"Taste is right," Jean said as she forked a bite of eggs into her mouth. "Oh this is delicious," she said when she swallowed.

"This will be fine Winky," Hermione told the elf who was staring nervously at the family. "In fact everything is perfect. How about you and Dobby eat with us?"

"Good house-elves eat in the kitchen," Winky replied.

"But friends eat with their families," Hermione said. "Remember that Harry and I expect you to be..." She stopped. She had been about to say part of their family. She then quickly finished. "We expect you to be our friends as well."

Winky looked uncertain but finally called Dobby. They took seats and started eating nervously.

"This food is wonderful," Jean said to the house-elves. "I wished you could cook for us every morning."

"Winky and Dobby can do that!" Dobby said excitedly. "Winky and Dobby would love to cook for Missus' family every day," He suddenly looked apprehensive as he asked. "Can Dobby and Winky cook dinner too?"

Hermione looked at her parents questioningly.

"Is it really alright?" Jean asked. "It seems..."

"The reason I was so interested last year, but, yes it it's fine. It really is what they want to do."

"Well of course then. This food is wonderful, but we can't have this much food every time, it's wasteful."

"House-elves do not waste food," Dobby said forcefully and then his eyes widened and he looked nervous before explaining. "We have magic to keep it fresh and then we can serve it the next time we need it."

"Oh," Jean replied. "Then I guess we're perfectly fine with it."

"Just tell Winky or Dobby if you want something special," Winky said.

When the breakfast was concluded and her parents had finished up their toiletry business including brushing and flossing their teeth, Hermione walked them to the door to the garage. Mr. Granger gave the tarp covering the cabinet a look and was about to say something when his wife stopped him.

"Richard, our daughter is more than welcome to invite her boyfriend here," She then looked at her daughter. "Are we still going shopping tonight? I'm looking forward to getting to know the young man."

"Yes, Harry..." Hermione stopped remembering that her father didn't know she'd seen Harry that morning. "I'm sure he'll be excited to go."

"Just call if you need anything," Richard said. "Have a good day and we'll see you after work," He bent a little and kissed the offered cheek of his daughter.

Once her parents had left, Hermione took a quick shower and redressed in her clothes. As she finished combing her hair, she studied herself in the mirror. She still didn't consider herself beautiful in comparison to girls like Cho Chang or Lavender Brown, but she knew Harry thought she was, and that was all that mattered.

"Of course he thinks you're beautiful dear," The familiar voice of the Goddess of Love appeared. "He is your soul mate. Wouldn't do much good to have two people made for each other who don't like the way the other looks now would it?"

"I guess not," Hermione agreed. She thought of her husband's messy locks of hair and smiled. She knew her husband would never be very tall or muscular, but that wasn't what she wanted anyway. Miranda was right. Harry was perfect for her as well. As she thought of Harry, an idea came to mind. She left the bathroom and walked into her parents' bedroom. On the dresser she saw what she needed. Sitting beside her mother's small jewelry box were two perfume bottles. Outside of the bottle of perfume Ron had given her (and she still wanted to analyze the contents of), she didn't own any perfume and very little beauty enhancing products. She'd never believed in such stuff before, but she wanted to do something special for Harry. She sniffed each of the bottles and made her choice. She dabbed a bit behind her ears and on her wrists before setting the bottle back down. After grabbing the invisibility cloak and her book bag from her room, she happily walked down the steps and out into the garage.

"Anyone there?"

"Only Sirius, come on over," Harry replied.

Harry assisted her out of the Cabinet this time and as he hugged her, he immediately inhaled the scent of her perfume. "Smelling nice for someone today?" He asked cockily.

"Maybe," She replied with a smile. "Do you like it?"

"Very much so," Harry replied as he pulled her close and placed several light kisses up her neck until his lips neared her ear where he inhaled again. "Very much indeed."

"Good," She murmured as the sensations of the kisses still radiated throughout her body. Finally she pulled away. "We should get moving. I thought I'd apparate under the cloak onto the doorstep like we did last ye...I mean well you know what I mean," When Harry nodded, she continued. "I'll walk up the street, remove the cloak and walk back. That way if anyone is looking out the window it will seem like I came on the Knight Bus."

"That'll work."

"How are we getting to the Ministry?" She asked. "Floo?"

"Dumbledore doesn't want Harry using the Floo if possible," Sirius said. "If someone in the Floo Network Authority is compromised they can intercept anyone using it. They can be forced out at any fireplace, and possibly into a trap. No, we are taking the Knight Bus. Arthur has held off going to work so he can go with us. I'm going as Padfoot so we break up the pattern of people walking around though."

"Tonks, Remus, Molly?"

"Not this time, Tonks is already at work and Remus left last night for an assignment from Dumbledore. We're only walking a couple of streets over so it shouldn't be an issue. Again Dumbledore doesn't want the Knight Bus being called to the same spot each time. Different number of people, different locations, nothing the same that people remember."

"We could just apparate you know," Harry said.

"I thought of that, and tried to convince Arthur to go on so we could," Sirius said. "Remember what I said about what I expect his and Molly's orders are from Dumbledore," He shrugged. "They'll be keeping an eye on you. So unless you want to advertise you're doing underage apparition, that's not happening today."

At Hermione's questioning glance, Harry silently filled her in on that part of the evening conversation. "As I told Sirius, it works out for the best."

"Just glad we have the cabinets," Hermione replied.

"Me too."

Hermione threw on the invisibility cloak and a small crack indicated she'd apparated away.

** E E **

Derwent Yaxley was a Death Eater. One of Voldemort's inner circle members, though one who had never garnered suspicion of being one. Fourteen years ago when the last wizarding war had ended he'd been a senior clerk in the Auror Administration Department. His job had been to process the reports and evidence as provided by the Aurors and Hit Wizards from the various cases. In that position it had been possible, though difficult sometimes, to make certain things happened to prevent fellow Death Eaters from being captured or if they were, prosecuted. It also provided Voldemort an excellent source of information. The Aurors and Hit Wizards never thought of administrative staff when they spoke of upcoming jobs or weaknesses in their cases and much of what he overheard was relayed directly to Voldemort. Since the downfall of his Master that Halloween night all of those years ago, Yaxley had kept to himself and risen to his current position. He was now in charge of the entire Administration Department of the Aurors. On a daily basis, massive amounts of sensitive information flowed across his desk and no one gave it a second thought because he was but the Manager of Administrative staff.

Yaxley, and that was the only name anyone called him, was currently on an assignment with Gregory Goyle. Voldemort wanted the area within walking distance north of King's Cross station to be closely watched for Harry Potter. The monitoring had started the previous night. Every two hours a pair of Death Eaters would start near King's Cross and walk north in the general direction that Goyle had reported Potter was headed. Each time a different route would be taken. That pattern would continue until their Master said otherwise. About forty minutes ago Yaxley and Goyle had started their walk. Yaxley didn't expect much at this time of day since the sheer number of people about made finding a single person difficult indeed, but since it was an order from the Dark Lord, he would do what he was told. He'd floo called his department and told them he'd be two hours late this morning and then joined his fellow Death Eater for their patrol.

It was pure luck he'd seen her he knew, but he'd never tell his Master that. They had turned onto a shabby street lined with run-down homes, many of which were boarded up or in need of serious repair. There were a few businesses as well but on this street there was hardly any foot traffic. Yaxley's eyes had been drawn to an attractive muggle girl of about fifteen or sixteen wearing a very short skirt. She was leaning against a building smoking a cigarette chatting with an equally attractive friend. He had paused to consider if he could slip away from Goyle long enough to Imperius her and possibly her friend for some morning fun since that was all muggle females were good for. Their purpose for existence was purely to be used by those of superior breeding and then discarded like the animals they were. It wouldn't have been the first time of course. Though he didn't do it often, it was simple enough to do. He'd take the girl into an alley and throw up some notice-me-nots. Afterwards he'd just obliviate the memories and the girl would still think she was a virgin, never knowing why she ached where she did or the drops of blood that existed in her underwear. Even if she did suspect something, what would she say? Yaxley had even seen the alley he could use for the activities.

That was when it had happened. As he glanced into the alley seeing a perfect spot, he'd noticed a movement. A person suddenly had appeared from nowhere as if she'd come from under an invisibility cloak. She was also female and about the same age as the girl he'd been considering. It made him look more closely and that was when he had recognized her. Her picture had been on the front page of the Daily Prophet. "It's that mudblood who was with Potter," Yaxley thought and quickly pointed her out to Goyle.

"Follow her," He said. "She might lead us to Potter."

And follow her they did. Goyle hung back since he wasn't sure if the girl had ever seen him at King's Cross, but Yaxley closed the distance. He was positive she didn't know him and even if she did, he was a highly placed member of the Ministry who could easily explain himself being there. He walked on the other side of the street than the mudblood, but kept her in sight. A van drove past and blocked his view for a second and when it had passed, the mudblood had disappeared. The sidewalk was not crowded, so he could only presume she'd turn onto a street further down. He increased his speed and made the turn and still she was not to be seen. He raced ahead, glancing down each alleyway as he passed. His frustration grew with every step because he knew his Master would be angry if he lost this possibility. Finally he stopped as he realized she was not ahead of him. He swore loudly at himself for his failure. He knew he'd have to tell his Master and he could already feel the torture curse that would be used to express the Dark Lord's displeasure. Slowly Yaxley turned and started back the way he'd come. He now could only hope he got lucky and found what he'd lost. He carefully examined each alleyway and window of each business but to no avail. He found Goyle soon enough. He was sitting on a bench wiping sweat from his fat face.

Yaxley and Goyle were almost back to the spot where he'd last seen the mudblood when he caught a glimpse of her again. This time she was with others. Exhilaration coursed through the Death Eater especially when he saw who she was with. For walking beside her, holding her hand was a black-haired boy and leading the way was one of Dumbledore's pets, Arthur Weasley. Yaxley ignored the black dog that was walking with them as he concentrated on the group. He was positive the boy was none other than Harry Potter. He glanced around looking for other Order members and not seeing any, a plan came to mind.

"Go find another Death Eater, anyone. Robes and Masks," He instructed Goyle. Yaxley glanced again to make sure he could still see Potter before he turned back to Goyle. "Apparate up ahead where that major street is in.." Yaxley looked at his watch, "five minutes. I'll delay them. When you get there take out Arthur and any other order members who show up."

"What are you going to do?"

"Me? I'm a trusted Ministry member, I'm going to pull Potter to safety of course," Yaxley replied with a wry smile. "When everyone is fighting you, I'll stun him and then apparate away. When I get back I'll need you to stun me as well, make it look like I failed to protect Harry Potter. Do you understand the plan?"

Goyle nodded and ducked into an alleyway. When Yaxley heard the crack of apparition he started to walk more swiftly after Potter.

"Arthur?" Yaxley said when he got close enough. "Weasley is that you?"

Arthur Weasley turned abruptly to see who was calling his name. He smiled in greeting as he recognized another senior member of the Ministry. "Yaxley, I didn't know you lived around here."

At the name, both Harry and Hermione whirled as well; both grasped their wands expecting to fight. Confusion raced between them as they watched Arthur hold out his hand and shake Yaxley's offered one. It then occurred to them that no one knew he was a Death Eater at this time.

"I don't, I'm visiting someone," Yaxley lied. "What are you doing around here? I thought you lived down south."

"Of course," Arthur replied. "Just up here taking care of a few things."

Yaxley's eyes moved over the two teenagers. "Merlin, could this be the infamous Harry Potter?"

"Yes," Arthur beamed. "But you shouldn't say anything about seeing him. I'm escorting him to the Ministry to help keep him safe. They're going to see Madam Bones in fact."

"Really, about the matter from last week?" Yaxley said as he stalled for time. He glanced at his watch and knew he had to keep them another minute or so. "I'm headed into the office as well. Mind if I join you?" He asked. "Another wand never hurts."

"Of course, of course. Definitely appreciate the help," Arthur replied. "We're just going to catch the Knight Bus up ahead," They had planned to walk over a couple of streets but they'd have no way to explain that necessity to Yaxley.

They started walking and with every step Yaxley tried to maneuver closer to Potter. He knew he'd need to be the closest person to him so it would seem he reacted instinctively in trying to save Potter.

Harry looked at Hermione, both trying to figure out what they could do to alert Sirius or Arthur. It was obvious neither considered Yaxley a threat.

"We can't just attack him or even blatantly accuse him unless we have evidence," Hermione said as she glanced out her peripheral vision at the Death Eater.

"I'm going to let Sirius know. He'll believe me. It's got to be a trap."

"How.." Hermione started but Harry had already acted. He purposely stepped on one of his shoe laces, causing it to come untied. He stopped and knelt down to tie it, when Sirius came close he whispered softly. "Yaxley is a Death Eater. We fought him in the future."

A low growl from the dog made it clear that he'd gotten the message, but Harry had forgotten that Sirius was not a man to be patient. Padfoot immediately leapt toward the man with his teeth bared. At the same time two cracks were heard directly in front of them. Two large Death Eaters materialized in their path. One of them was overweight while the other was tall and thin.

Mr. Weasley was shocked into inactivity. Between Sirius attacking a fellow senior level Ministry employee for apparently no reason and the appearance of two Death Eaters almost simultaneously, his mind just couldn't react quick enough. The Death Eaters, seeing him as the only threat besides a dog, attacked. One hit Arthur with a stunner and as he collapsed the other one smashed his right arm with a bludgeoning hex.

Harry and Hermione had not been taken off guard though. From the moment they'd seen Yaxley they'd been ready. Their wands had been palmed the entire time. When they heard the apparition cracks they reacted. Though the street had seemed almost empty moments before, it now was filled with people screaming and running in various directions. The mayhem did not distract the soulmates. Their focus remained entirely on the two masked men. They knew they needed to get one of the Death Eaters out of play quickly to even the numbers.

"Left one," Harry said to Hermione who instantly knew they both should hit the tall thin Death Eater. Harry had noticed the large fat one had been much slower in attacking Mr. Weasley and presumed he'd be the lesser threat.

The Death Eater was not expecting an attack from two underaged kids even if one was Harry Potter. He'd turned and looked for any additional Order members that were sure to be around and didn't have a chance to defend himself. One of the bludgeoning hexes hit him in the ribs while the other crushed his shoulder. He collapsed in a heap as his wand rolled away.

Harry then turned to see if Sirius needed help while Hermione fought the remaining masked Death Eater. In the second it took to see that Sirius had Yaxley's wand arm in the vise grip of his mouth and was violently shaking it, Harry heard Hermione hit the remaining masked Death Eater with a cutting hex.

"You MUDBLOOD BITCH! You'll die for that," The Death Eater snarled as he felt the blood pouring down his side from the open wound. His wand arm came up and he started the all familiar curse, "AV..."

It had been a mistake for Gregory Goyle to take time to insult and threaten Hermione and it would be the last mistake he would ever make. Harry wasn't even thinking thoughts as he heard the beginning of the Killing Curse toward his wife; he only had visions of green light in his eyes and of Hermione being hit by Delahov's curse. His wand came up almost on its own as he yelled "DIFFINDO!" He had intended to hit the last Death Eater's wand arm, which he did, as well as a whole lot more. In Latin, 'Diffindo' means 'I divide'. In this case that was an accurate description of what happened to Goyle. Though Harry didn't know who was behind the mask, he could see the eyes widen in surprise during the last seconds of his life. The Death Eater watched his arm that held his wand separate at the elbow and fall to the ground while at the same time he felt movement and he knew in a moment of surprising clarity that he was already dead and his brain just hadn't figured it out yet. The cutting hex had also severed the man's body in a diagonal path that ran from the man's lower left hip area to the upper right torso, the two parts of the body slowly separated as the upper portion fell first hitting the sidewalk with a thud. Goyle was actually alive long enough to watch his lower torso fall upon him, his own crotch hitting him in the face.

Hermione had also heard the beginning of the killing curse. The experience she had garnered in the fights she'd been in the last year including the Final Battle took over. She dove to the ground, rolled and brought her own wand up with the first syllable of another bludgeoning hex started, but the word died on her lips as she watched in horror the last seconds of the Death Eater's life. The two body parts seemed to fall in slow motion as the adrenaline of the moment sped her senses to their maximum.

The danger was not over though and they had no time to consider what they had just seen. Harry and Hermione both turned to Yaxley who was still struggling against Padfoot, just as they had brought their wands up, the air was filled by the reverberation of multiple apparition cracks. Four blue cloaked Aurors materialized around them. All with their wands out. One of them, to Harry's relief, was Kingsley Shacklebolt.

"Drop your wands," A brown-haired Auror yelled at Harry and Hermione. This was someone Harry didn't recognize. He ignored the command as he walked the three steps to Hermione and helped her to her feet before pulling her into a hug. One he needed as much as she did.

"DROP YOUR WANDS!" The Auror repeated.

Harry and Hermione both turned to him with lowered wands, but they did not drop them. They both knew the Ministry was still rife with Voldemort supporters and they weren't letting their guard down.

"Kingsley, it's us," Harry said. "Sirius.."

"It's alright," The deep voice of Shacklebolt ranged out. "Stand down Williams," He said to the Auror, "it's Potter," He then turned his attention to the dog fighting the man on the ground. He couldn't tell who the man was, but he knew Sirius would be protecting Harry. "Stupefy," He said as the pointed his wand at the unknown man and Yaxley instantly ceased his struggles. "Padfoot, stay with Harry," He ordered. The large black dog immediately ran over and sat on his haunches next to Harry and Hermione. It was then Kingsley recognized the man. "What's going on here?" He asked, but then he looked around and shook his head at what he saw. Two garbed Death Eaters, one obviously dead in a gruesome manner, numerous muggles, some standing with their mouths open, others running away screaming, Arthur Weasley unconscious on the ground looking seriously injured and a senior Ministry person who had been fighting Sirius and who he himself had stunned. "Start containing the situation," He ordered the other Aurors. "Get the Obliviators down here," He then knelt beside Arthur and examined him. The red-headed man's breathing was ragged and his arm was badly damaged.

"He was hit before he knew anything was happening," Harry explained. "Yaxley there..."

"Wait.." Shacklebolt said. "Padfoot, go get Molly and have someone floo Dumbledore. I'll contact Headquarters and St. Mungos."

Sirius gave Kingsley a look and a growl that basically said 'you let anything happen to Harry and I'll rip your throat out' before he turned and ran back down the street as fast as his animagus form's four legs would travel.

"Is that other one alive?" Shacklebolt asked nodding to the Death Eater that was not in two (three if you counted the arm) pieces.

"I don't know," Harry replied. "And don't care."

"I know, but I have to check," Kingsley said. He walked over and saw the other one was breathing. He sent one of his Aurors to St. Mungos to bring medical help before turning back to Harry. "Okay, what happened?"

"Yaxley..." Hermione spoke for the first time. "We...we know he's a Death Eater."

"WHAT? A DEATH EATER?" Boomed Shacklebolt. He reached over to the unconscious man and yanked up his left sleeve. The Dark Mark blazed red against the man's skin. "Damn..." Shacklebolt said as he stared at the skull and snake design. "Damn, we never suspected...how...no never mind. Tell me the rest," He ordered.

"He came up and started talking to Arthur," Harry explained. "When Arthur told him we were headed for the Ministry..." He was interrupted when a dozen wizards that Harry realized must be Obliviators materialized all around. They quickly spread out and started immobilizing the muggles. Several of them started entering homes and businesses that looked out into the street.

"Anyway..." Harry again started, "as Hermione said we knew he was..." This time it was four healers apparating in. Two of them knelt over Arthur Weasley while the other two looked around and with a look of disgust made their way to the breathing Death Eater.

Harry had only opened his mouth to speak again when the next interruption came.

"HARRY!" Molly cried as she came rushing up the sidewalk. Sirius, as himself, not Padfoot was right behind her. "Are you alright?" She went to hug him but then saw her husband lying on the ground being worked on by two Healers. "Arthur! Is...is he?"

"He's going to be fine ma'am," One of the Healers said. "We'll take him to St. Mungos. Give us at least fifteen minutes before you come. We'll need to do some work on that arm."

"What happened?" A very anxious Molly Weasley asked anyone who might answer.

"Still trying to piece that together myself Molly," Kingsley replied. "Harry did you say you were going to the Ministry anyway?"

"Yes sir, actually to see Madam Bones."

"Do you mind if we just do the questioning there?" Shacklebolt asked. "I need to tell her about Yaxley anyway and it's obvious we're not going to get any privacy around here for a while."

Harry looked at Hermione who shrugged. "Fine."

"Who did that?" Shacklebolt asked nodding at the two halves of the Death Eater.

"I did," Harry admitted. "He was about to attack Hermione with the killing curse and...well I had to stop him."

"I'll need your wand then," Shacklebolt said. "Better get both of yours," He held out his hand and Harry and Hermione, who still had a firm grip on their wands, put them in the Auror's hand.

"Thank you. What'd you hit him with?" Kingsley asked trying to figure out what spell a fifth year Hogwart's student might know to do that to a man.

"Cutting spell," Harry replied. "You know 'diffindo'. As I said, he was about to curse Hermione and I...well I was just aiming for his wand arm."

"Cutting?" Kingsley asked as he looked again at the Death Eater where one part lying on top of the other, a pool of blood still growing around him. Then he looked back at Harry Potter and shook his head. "Damn..." He muttered.

*** E E ***

Security had been alerted and Harry and Hermione found themselves with an escort of Aurors as Shacklebolt led them to the Magical Law Department. Sirius followed behind, but he was requested to remain in the waiting area outside of Madam Bones' office. He was about to object when Harry waved him back.

"We'll be fine," Harry said. "We'll call for you if the questioning turns to something more unpleasant."

"I'll be here then," Sirius replied. "If not, I'll tell her," He nodded to the receptionist, "where I am."

"Thanks," Harry replied.

"Enter," The voice of Madam Bones said from behind the door when Shacklebolt knocked. Harry and Hermione were surprised to find Neville and Luna sitting in the office they entered.

"What's going on Shack," Amelia asked the Auror. The other Aurors had not joined them in the Director's office.

"Potter was attacked Director," Kingsley reported.

Her eyes widened and she looked at the two teens. Seeing neither of them appeared to be injured she asked. "Anyone hurt?"

"Arthur Weasley is at St. Mungos but he'll be fine. We have one Death Eater dead, one also at St. Mungos badly hurt and..." He hesitated, "Ma'am the last person was Yaxley. He's a confirmed Death Eater."

"Yaxley?" Amelia Bones asked in astonishment. "Are you positive?"

"I personally saw the mark ma'am. He didn't have time to mask it."

"He needs to be questioned immediately," Bones said as she stood up from her desk. "He would know...well he'd know just about everything wouldn't he?"

"Yes ma'am," Shacklebolt replied. "It explains a lot doesn't it?"

"Yes it does," Bones agreed. "I'll come for the questioning. We'll need Scrimgeour as well," She turned to the four friends. "I'll be back as soon as I can, make yourselves comfortable. If you need anything, ask the receptionist outside. If you need to leave this office, have her call an escort...no.." she turned to Shacklebolt, "If Yaxley is a Death Eater, no telling who else might be. Who can we trust?"

"Definitely Nymphadora Tonks," Kingsley replied. "There are several others I would have trusted twenty minutes ago, but..." He shrugged. "Sirius Black is outside as well."

"Send Sirius in," Bones replied. She turned back to the teenagers. "I'll have Auror Tonks join you shortly. Do you have your wands?"

"No," Harry replied. "Kingsley does, mine and Hermione's."

Amelia looked at Kingsley who explained. "It was Harry who killed the Death Eater. I was just following procedures."

"An Unforgivable?" Amelia asked.

"No, but..." Shacklebolt replied. "He says it was just a cutting curse," He emphasized the word 'says'.

"And?" Amelia asked, "I've seen men killed by cutting curses to the throat."

"He...I mean the Death Eater was cut in two...all the way," He made a hand gesture to indicate the path of the cut.

Madam Bones' eyebrows rose at that. "Hold out his wand," she commanded. When Shacklebolt did so, she performed the spell that showed the last spells cast. The then did the same to Hermione's wand. When the results clearly showed only cutting and bludgeoning hexes, she looked at Harry for a second before turning to her senior Auror. "Give them their wands; I can't fault self-defense no matter what the results were. Remind me when this is all over to straighten it out with Mafalda though. She'll be having fits about now. We don't need another fiasco like last year."

"Yes ma'am," Shacklebolt said as he handed the wands back before following Madam Bones out of the room.

"What happened?" Neville asked immediately after the door closed. "You were attacked?"

"Yeah, we knew about a Death Eater that no one else did at this time," Hermione explained. "He, of course didn't think we knew him either. When he started talking to Mr. Weasley, Harry alerted Sirius who attacked him in his animagus form. About the same time two masked Death Eaters showed up," She quickly detailed the battle that happened.

"How'd they find you?"

Harry didn't get a chance to answer because Sirius walked into the room.

"We're just trying to figure out how they knew we'd be there," Harry told Sirius. He turned back to Neville and Luna. "I don't know how," Harry admitted. "But you know I'm in hiding right?"

"Of course," Luna replied. "You said you'd have Dumbledore tell us, but he never did."

"I…I forgot to ask," Harry admitted. "I'm sure we'll see him today and I'll make sure it happens."

"That's fine," Luna replied. "Neville came over to my house this morning to floo over together and you said you knew where my house is. Maybe you can come there? Daddy would love to meet you."

Harry looked at Hermione, both remembering the last time they'd seen Xenophilius at his home before replying. "We'd love to," with every effort to convey a smile.

"So what about being hidden?" Neville asked.

"Oh, yeah...like I said the place is hidden but there is someone who knows where it is that is close to Voldemort."

"Snape?" Neville asked.

"Yes, he wouldn't be able to tell Voldemort, but it would've been easy enough for Riddle to have him followed. When Snape vanishes you know the general area where the place is," Harry explained his thoughts.

"You really think it might be Snivellus?" Sirius asked.

"Got a better explanation for three Death Eaters being around there?"

Sirius couldn't answer because Tonks entered the room at that time.

"Exciting morning Harry?" Tonks asked.

"You could say that," Harry replied.

"I should have waited there and walked with you, but I was needed..." Tonks started to apologize.

"No one could have anticipated what happened Tonks," Hermione said. "We're fine; we can take care of ourselves."

"So I heard. Shack said you two took down the two Death Eaters," Tonks said.

"There were three, but Sirius handled the third," Harry said nodding over at his godfather. "Yaxley was the..."

"Yaxley?" Tonks exclaimed. "As in..."

"Yeah that one," Sirius said. "That's why you're here. If he's a Death Eater then this whole department is going to have to be scrutinized before people are trusted. Hell I remember him when I was an Auror. Just a clerk then."

"This might be a stupid question," Harry started, "but why not just have everyone roll up their sleeves? If they have the mark then they're Death Eaters."

"Not that simple," Sirius explained. "Wished it was though. We got lucky with Yaxley, he didn't have time to mask his mark," Seeing the confusion on Harry and Hermione's face he continued. "They, I mean the Death Eaters have a spell, unfortunately undetectable, that can mask their mark. That's why we never knew about Peter. Most of them wear the mark with pride and don't like to mask it unless they have to."

"Then why do what you did at the press conference," Hermione asked. "Bare your arm I mean?"

"Because most people don't know about masking. If they see a bare arm they presume the person's not a Death Eater," Sirius replied. "It was an easy way to get people in the mindset that I am innocent. Notice that Amelia didn't just take my bare arm as proof did she?"

"True."

"Moody told me that You-Know-Who also marked innocents," Tonks said.

"He did, well not real marks but impossible to tell the difference. Caused all kinds of confusion in the last war," Sirius replied. "People would find themselves wandering around with no memories of anything happening, but they'd have Dark Mark on their arms. It became hard to tell the innocents from the Death Eaters. Still a lot of people out there who aren't Death Eaters but carry what appears to be the mark."

"How did Shack know Yaxley didn't have one of those?" Hermione asked.

"All Ministry employees who were marked like that had to be registered," Sirius explained. "Yaxley would never have been promoted if he had one."

An hour passed before the door opened, but it was not Madam Bones. Albus Dumbledore stood in the doorway looking at six wands pointed at him.

"Well Harry," The Headmaster started. "I hope you can now see why I took the measures I did to protect you. It is not too late for you to return to your Aunt's home."

"Over my dead body Albus," Sirius replied. "How did those Death Eaters know where to be?"

"I'm only thinking of Harry's well-being Sirius," Dumbledore replied. "As for how, I do not know. I hope Severus might be able to shed light on that."

"Did it ever occur to you that Snape might have tipped them off?" Harry asked. "He is in the Order and that is the Order Headquarters and he would know I'm there. He might not be able to tell them exactly where, but he could sure as hell tell them the neighborhood."

"Harry, you must see past your differences with Professor Snape. He has my utmost confidence."

"Well Snivellus doesn't have mine," Harry replied coldly.

"Harry please, this isn't like you," Dumbledore said.

"It is very much like me sir, I care for those I love," Harry replied. "You can tell your Potions Master that if I ever find out he was the one who almost got Hermione killed, Voldemort won't be the only one to die by my hand."

Dumbledore's eyes widened for the briefest of time before he regained himself. Then what appeared to be a look of understanding appeared on his face as he gazed at Harry. He turned to the others in the room. "Would it be possible for me to have a word with these two alone?" He asked motioning to Harry and Hermione.

"No way Albus," Sirius replied.

"I was told to protect them sir," Tonks said hesitantly.

"I understand, but you can wait just outside," Dumbledore explained. "You don't think any harm will come to them while they are in my protection do you?"

Harry was curious to what Dumbledore wanted to tell them and nodded to Sirius, Neville and Luna.

"Fine, but just so you know, if Harry suddenly decides going to the Dursleys is a good idea or something else that I know he is against, I won't rest..." Sirius didn't finish the rest of the threat. "You already know that I don't necessarily trust you."

"What? Wait, why?" Tonks asked.

"Not important cousin," Sirius replied. "Well Albus?"

"I truly only want to speak to them," Dumbledore replied.

It was only a matter of seconds before everyone except Harry, Hermione and Dumbledore had left the room.

"So?" Harry asked. "What's so important?"

"The prophecy," Dumbledore replied. "We never discussed exactly what the power he knows not is did we?"

"In a different timeline we did," Harry said as he and Hermione tried to replay the conversation they'd had with the Headmaster the previous week. Finally Harry answered. "No sir. I think the conversation went a bit off of that."

"That it did," Dumbledore agreed.

"So what is this power I suppose to have?" Harry asked.

"I have watched you closely, more closely than you can imagine from the first day you arrived at Hogwarts," Dumbledore said.

"And yet I still ended up being almost killed every year," Harry interrupted the Headmaster. "Makes me wonder about your powers of observation."

"That as it may be," Dumbledore said, "I have watched you and I came to believe the power you have that Riddle knows not is love."

"Love?" Harry asked trying to act surprised. He then decided to toy with the Headmaster. "So you're saying to defeat Voldemort I have to what? Kiss him? Take him on dates? I absolutely refuse to marry him."

"Harry, this isn't something to take lightly," Dumbledore sighed. "I have been concerned about you recently though, the way you discarded your friend so easily and then your disregard for the deaths you were responsible for last week and now this morning I find out there has been another death, this one entirely on your hands."

"And why would that concern you sir?" Harry asked, "They were threatening us."

"I was concerned that Tom still had an influence on you; leading you down a path that should not be traveled."

"Was?" Hermione asked. "You said was, you no longer believe that?"

"No, I don't think so," Dumbledore replied shaking his head. "You see, a few minutes ago Harry threatened Professor Snape, another thing that seemed wrong until I realized what he'd said."

"And what was that sir?" Hermione asked.

"That if he found out it was he who caused YOU to almost be killed," Dumbledore explained. "I also remembered you saying the reason for your separation from young Mr. Weasley was because of your relationship."

"So?"

"This morning, may I ask exactly what caused you to kill the man as you did?" Dumbledore asked Harry. "Molly described a most gruesome scene."

"So it is Molly running to Dumbledore about everything," Harry said to Hermione. "Sirius was right," He sighed before answering Dumbledore. "I wasn't actually trying to kill him, but he was about to use the killing curse on Hermione. I was just aiming at his arm but..." Harry shrugged.

"Yes and two years ago when you stood on the other side of the lake, were you more concerned with saving Sirius or yourself from the Dementors?"

"Sirius of course," Harry replied instantly. "They were sucking his soul out," Harry then realized what he was saying, he was back in the final battle and Voldemort was about to kill Molly Weasley...the shield charm he'd cast then had been greater, more powerful than he'd ever cast before.

"You see it don't you?" Dumbledore asked. "The pattern? You protect those you love. Willing to sacrifice yourself for those people. You derive a certain, power shall we say, from your love. The power he knows not. Voldemort will never understand that attacking those who you love will only bring about his ultimate demise."

Harry stared at the Headmaster, trying to figure out if the Headmaster was again trying to make events fit his view of the world. Last time he explained his powers because he'd prevented Voldemort from possessing him.

"Don't listen to him Harry," Hermione said urgently. "Yes emotions play a large part of magic and it very well might be love allows you to do more, but did you hear the words he used...sacrifice, willing to sacrifice. He is preparing you to sacrifice yourself."

"Of course," Harry replied. "But if he thinks I believe him, we will know the path he trying to lead me down," He sighed finally as if accepting what Dumbledore said. "I...I don't know what to say sir."

"I understand," Dumbledore replied in his grandfatherly tone. "We'll discuss this another time. Now let me take you back to Grimmauld Place where it's safe. I'm sure Madam Bones will understand it's for the best."

"Madam Bones will most certainly not," The voice of the Head of the DMLE said from the door. "Albus you might have been reappointed to the Chief Warlock position of the Wizengamot, but you have no business telling my Auror to abandon her post nor interfere with an investigation."

 
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