Dark Phoenix Rising


Story Summary:
Sequel to The Legend of the Phoenix Well. The Dark will rise once more... aided by the Storm and the almost-Leo... After the defeat of Lord Voldemort, the wizarding world thought it was safe. Insignificant dark wizards fought for the position of the dark lord in power, and so far, none have succeeded. None... except for one. Now the members of the Order of the Phoenix find themselves dealing with past mysteries and dangers perhaps more perilous than before. Post-Hogwarts.

Chapter 04

Chapter Summary:
Sequel to [URL=http://www.schnoogle.com/authors/amethystphoenix/LPW01.html[/URL].
Author's Note:
Hiya again!

Chapter Four: Aussies and Attacks

Ronald Weasley had not set foot in England, Scotland, or Wales for over eleven years. In fact, he hadn't even heard from anyone from the United Kingdom for eleven years, except for Jackie, his daughter, and sometimes Jack, his son. The reason was (according to Jackie) because his family was angry at him for leaving home, when he could have just stayed in England after the divorce. But Ron couldn't have been expected to stay near Hermione, could he? Besides, he liked Australia.

Or he tried to convince himself that he liked Australia. It was a nice place, really, but it wasn't home. For eleven years, he had been able to keep himself from buying a Muggle plane ticket to Heathrow International. But his long streak of being away from home was over, and Ron sighed as he drove his Muggle car to the small home in Surrey where Hermione and their children lived.

Ron hadn't received any news at all. His children only covered their family and a few other people in their letters, and even that was rather belated. For example, Ron hadn't found out about George and Alicia's marriage until two years after it had happened. It was quite depressing.

Letting out a breath, Ron got out of the car and walked to the front door, knocking hesitantly. What if Hermione didn't want to see him? What if his family was not only angry, but hated him? What if his mother had died, and Jackie hadn't mentioned it to him yet? Or what if Hermione had gotten remarried? Ron wouldn't be able to stand that.

The door was opened by none other than Draco Malfoy. "Weasley?" he said disbelievingly. "What are you doing here?"

"What are you doing here?" Ron countered. He suddenly had a very horrible thought. What if Icicle had died, or divorced Malfoy, or something, and he had married Hermione? The thought made Ron feel ill. "Er... Hermione's not Mrs. Malfoy, is she?" he said, turning a sickly green colour.

"Who's Mrs. Malfoy?" someone asked curiously from behind Draco. Icicle moved to the empty spot next to her husband. "What about me?" She looked at Ron, and began to stare in shock.

"Icicle!" Ron said in relief. "Thank God! Thank Merlin! Thank Allah! Thank Budda! Thank the sky! Thank the sun! Thank-"

"God, Weasley, if you were worried, about that, you shouldn't have. We'd be at Malfoy Manor, for one thing," Draco said sourly. "Besides, why would I want to have any physical contact with your former wife?"

Ron scowled, but was interrupted by a cheerful, curious voice saying, "Whose wife, Father? Whoever it is, I'll bet you would have contact if you got drunk on that Medical fire whisky stuff again. Did you know Mother got a picture of you trying to-" Draco's hand went behind him and covered the boy's mouth.

"That will be enough, Xavier," he gritted out. "Get Theo. We're leaving."

"Yes, Father," the boy behind Draco said. Ron heard someone run down the corridor, shouting for another boy.

"What was he trying to do?" Ron asked Icicle, who scowled.

"The Nutcracker suite," she said icily. Draco scowled at her.

"I was not," he said. "If Potterette hadn't kept Medical fire whisky in her car..."

"Well, Ginny, like all other Aurors, follows the regulations. Unlike someone we all know," Icicle said pointedly. Draco scowled again.

"Father," Xavier said from behind his father. "We're ready to leave." Draco moved aside, and a boy that looked remarkably like him at age eleven stepped out, followed by a boy with sandy hair and a splattering of freckles. They seemed to be arguing about whether Chasers should be allowed to cob or not.

"It hurts," the boy named Theo said.

"Yeah, but that's like Bludgers," Xavier argued.

"Let's go," Draco said, pointing to a fireplace in the corridor. He handed them bags of Floo Powder. "And this time, your mother and I will listen to you say 'Malfoy Manor'."

Scowling, the two boys threw their powder in and yelled out 'Malfoy Manor'. Draco and Icicle nodded curtly at Ron before going after the boys.

Ron gulped, and entered the house, shutting the door behind him. The house looked nearly the same after eleven years, except it wasn't littered with toys. There was conversation coming from the living room, so Ron avoided it until he wanted to see Hermione. Instead, he looked at the pictures on the wall, until someone cleared their throat behind him. "Percy, if you wanted to see us, you could have gone straight to the living room.

Ron was horrified. Percy? He thought, disgusted. He turned, and found himself looking at his younger sister. Ginny's jaw dropped, and she stared at him in shock. "Ginny?" Ron said tentatively. Ginny was only able to nod. "Er..." Ron said. "Do I really look like Percy from behind?" he managed to say.

Then Hermione came out. Ron stared at her. Hermione didn't see him, since she was looking at Ginny. "Ginny, what's wrong?" She followed Ginny's gaze, until her eyes landed on Ron. She jumped, and the two stood silently for a moment.

"You're... your glasses are nice," Ron said weakly. "Did... did you get them recently?" he added. "I-I-I just wanted to see everyone again, you know?" He was interrupted by Ginny happily hugging him. "Ah!" he yelled, before laughing and hugging his younger sister back.

"Why didn't you come earlier?" Ginny demanded as she let go of Ron. "Eleven years, Ron. It takes you eleven years!"

"Mother? Who's that?" asked a girl's voice.

Ginny turned. "Maia, come here," she said. "This is your Uncle Ron." Maia nodded politely, and Ginny added in an undertone, "She was raised by Grandmother."

"Oh," Ron said. Just then, a fifteen-year-old boy caught his attention. "Jack?" he said disbelievingly. "Is that you, Jack?"

Jack turned, and his jaw dropped. "Dad?" he said.

Ron looked at Hermione, who nodded, tears coming out of her eyes. Jack stepped up to Ron, who was shocked at how much Jack had grown. "Last time I saw you, you were less than three feet tall," Ron said.

"I know," Jack said.

Jackie came downstairs to see what the fuss was all about. "Dad? You finally came?" she said. Ron gave her a look that said, 'Why else would I be here?'

"Come inside," Ginny said. "I suppose we'll have to fill you in on all you missed, don't we?"


Emily Wood stood on a stool at Madam Malkin's, waiting for Madam Malkin to finish pinning up her robes. On the next stool, Maia Potter was standing perfectly still, waiting for one of the girls at the store to finish measuring her. Jackie Weasley was also being agreeable. However, Jack Granger (or Weasley at times), Pierre Weasley, Theo Finnigan, and Xavier Malfoy were all fooling around, causing the people measuring them to screech with impatience.

"You lot! Stop it!" When they didn't stop, Emily said desperately, "Look, if we finish quickly over here, we'll have more time to go to Quality Quidditch Supplies."

The four quieted, and Madam Malkin thanked her quietly. Emily nodded, and turned her attention to the small boy on the stool apart from the others. Colin met her gaze, and Emily turned away.

It was August, and a few days before the first of September. The children were all at Madam Malkins while the adults browsed for books at the bookshop Flourish and Blotts and bought all the other materials, except for the wand. Emily gazed longingly out the window, where all her friends and schoolmates her age were. Her thoughts were interrupted by Madam Malkin telling her she was finished pinning. She pulled out her wand, muttered a spell, and the robes were stitched together. Emily could see that Maia and Jackie were done as well, and Colin was nearly done. The other four, however, were still being pinned.

Emily and the others sighed, waiting fifteen more minutes as Pierre, then Xavier, then Theo, and finally Jack was done, and then they left the shop, headed for Ollivander's. "Emma!" called a voice. Emily turned, and saw a seventeen-year-old boy with brown hair and blue eyes make his way to her. He was getting many appreciative looks from some of the girls in Diagon Alley.

"Hello, Evan," Emily said. Evan Whitby was her best friend, and the younger brother of Emily's boyfriend, Kevin.

"Emma, I'm Head Boy!" Evan said, excited. He spotted Maia, and said in a friendly voice, "How are you, Maia? Off to Hogwarts?"

Maia nodded. "That's nice," Evan said. "And who are all the boys? Not Pierre and Jack. The rest of you." He scrutinised Xavier. "You must be a Malfoy," he said. Xavier nodded. Kevin looked at Colin and Theo. He stared for a long time, then finally sighed. "I can't guess who you two are."

"I'm Colin Creevey," Colin piped up. "And he's Theo Finnigan," he added, pointing at Theo, who grinned. "We're going to Hogwarts this year too. I've got a wand already, but we need to get wands for Theo, Maia, and Xavier."

"Mind if I join you?" Evan asked Emily. Emily looked at him. Surely they weren't all going to fit inside the small, dusty shop. "Aw, Emma... please?" he said, making a pleading face. Emily giggled, and nodded. Evan flashed a grin in the others' direction. "I'm not going to make a good Head Boy, am I?" he said. "I'm supporting danger by following you lot into such a tiny place. Fire hazard, you know." He smirked.

A bell tinkled from somewhere in the shop as the large group entered the shop. Everyone but Theo, Maia, and Xavier made themselves as comfortable as they could in either a wicker chair or standing in a corner. A frail old man hobbled out of the back of the shop. No one knew how old Mr. Ollivander was, but some Hufflepuffs had bet that he was at least three-hundred. After all, he had been the one to sell a wand to Albus Dumbledore, one of the greatest Headmasters of Hogwarts history, who had been headmaster before Snape and McGonagall. Mr. Ollivander righted himself, and peered through thick spectacles at the two boys and Maia standing in front of the counter.

"I see a Malfoy and a Finnigan," Mr. Ollivander said, his voice hoarse and weak. "And of course, a Weasley-Potter." Emily shivered. The voice sounded like a dead person's. "Who would like to try first? How about you, Master Malfoy? What is your wand arm?"

"My right," Xavier replied. Mr. Ollivander pulled out a tape measure, which began to measure Xavier by itself. Mr. Ollivander watched it for a while, before hobbling off into the depths of his shop, and returning with a stack of wands. He waited as the tape measure dropped back to the floor with a clunk, and then picked up the box at the top of the stack, handing the wand inside to Xavier.

"Maple, Dragon Heartstring, as is with all Malfoys, twelve inches," Mr. Ollivander recited. Xavier nodded, and waved the wand. Nothing happened. Mr. Ollivander snatched it from him, and took out another wand. "Mahogany, Dragon Heartstring, eleven and a half inches," he said, handing another wand to Xavier. Xavier had barely touched it before it was taken away by Mr. Ollivander. Emily spotted him giving Theo an exasperated look before taking the wand that was being offered to him.

"Cherry, Dragon Heartstring, twelve and a half inches," Mr. Ollivander said as Xavier took it, waving it. Mr. Ollivander took it back, shaking his head and saying, "No... too long." He opened another box, and handed the wand to Xavier. "Ash, Dragon Heartstring, twelve inches." Xavier took it, and waved it. There was a flash, and green sparks erupted from his wand. "Ah, yes," Mr. Ollivander said. "Your father. His was Mahogany, Dragon Heartstring, eleven and a half inches. Well, I daresay you'll be a little taller than him when you're fully grown. Who's next?"

Maia stepped up, stated her wand arm (right) and Mr. Ollivander's tape measure began measuring her. "I am proud to say that I sold both of your parents' wands," he said, going to the back rooms. "Your mother's was... is Laurel, Unicorn Hair, ten and a half inches, good for charms. Your father's was Holly, Phoenix Feather, eleven and a half inches. Quite a curious combination." He came back with a stack of wands.

"Try this one. Maple, Unicorn Hair, ten inches," he said, handing Maia a wand. It was snatched away before she even moved. "No, you're going to be taller than that... try this: Pine, Phoenix Feather, eleven and a half inches." It was also snatched away quickly. "No, no, that won't do. Not that tall." He surveyed the wands. "Ah. An odd combination, especially for you, but I suppose it might work. Try this: Evergreen, Dragon Heartstring, eleven inches, very good for Charms." Maia took it, and waved it. A spray of clear water came out of it, and disappeared as soon as it hit the ground. Mr. Ollivander nodded. "You take after your father's mother. Hers was Unicorn Hair, but it was good for Charms as well. Next."

Theo stepped up. "I'm left, sir," he said. Mr. Ollivander's tape measure began to measure him as Mr. Ollivander began to talk about his parents' wands, going to the back again. "Your mother had a nice wand. Dogwood, Unicorn Hair, Ten inches. Good for Charms. And your father had Oak, Dragon Heartstring, eleven and a half inches. Bendy, that one." He returned with yet another stack of wands. "Birch, Phoenix Feather, ten and half inches," he said. Theo took it, and waved it. Nothing happened. "Yew, Unicorn Hair, ten inches," Mr. Ollivander tried. Nothing. "White birch, Dragon Heartstring, ten inches," he said. Nothing.

Half an hour later, there was an enormous pile of wands behind Mr. Ollivander, all around the length of ten inches. Emily was starting to get bored, and Pierre had already fallen asleep in his chair. "Sir... perhaps if you tried other lengths," Emily said.

Mr. Ollivander nodded. "Yes." He went into the dustier parts of his shop, and pulled out a very dusty box, handing the wand inside to Theo. "Evergreen, Phoenix Feather, twelve inches."

"Oh, no, not that much longer," Emily said, but Theo had already waved the wand. A jet of fiery sparks came out of the tip of the wand.

Mr. Ollivander looked at Theo. "You are full of surprises, Master Finnigan. It seems like you will have a major growth spurt in the future. Your wand combination is rather curious. It would belong to Miss Potter's sibling, perhaps, but most likely not someone else. However, remember the wand chooses the wizard, Mr. Finnigan. As I said, most likely. There are exceptions to that."

Theo nodded uncertainly, and the three paid for their wands. The group made its way out of the shop, some yawning and stretching. Colin was frowning at his wand. Emily wondered why. It was eleven inches long, which meant he would not be short at all. Shrugging, she turned back to Kevin. "We'll split up now," she called to everyone. "I suppose we can meet at Florean Fortescue's in two hours."


Colin looked at his wand. For some reason, it reminded him of Ginny... his best friend, not the mother of one of his new friends. He remembered the day he had accidentally lit one of Ginny's notebooks on fire, the same one that held all her observations of Harry.

Ginny sat in the chair, sobbing and holding the charred remains of her notebook. Colin flitted around, worried that she was going to hold a grudge against him. After all, that notebook held observations known only to Harry himself, and maybe Ron, since he lived in the same dormitory as Harry. But Colin didn't need to worry. Ginny sniffed once, and said, "It's all right, Colin. Fred and George were teasing me about it anyway, and Percy disapproved of it. I don't mind."

Colin gulped, and sat back down across from Ginny. "Sorry about that. I just wanted to try turning it into a place mat, like McGonagall said we should try for Extra Credit."

"It's all right. Really. I... I just wish he would look my way just once," Ginny said miserably. "I know I'm always talking to you, Colin, about that, but he's just so nice. I'm not about to list anything," she added as Colin raised an eyebrow. "But don't you wish we could be friends with him?"

"I know what you mean, Ginny," Colin said, looking at his camera. He looked up at Ginny, and stared into her warm brown eyes. Something about those eyes had always caused Colin butterflies in his stomach. He fingered a little plastic ring he had found inside a box of crackers at home, and gulped. "Ginny?"

"Yes, Colin?" Ginny said, peering into Colin's eyes.

"Erm... in case you ever need someone when we're grown up... er... here," Colin said, handing Ginny the plastic ring. Ginny took it, looking puzzled. "It's in case you don't get Harry, well, then you'll have me, won't you?" Colin said nervously.

To his relief, Ginny smiled warmly. "Thanks," she said. "I'll keep it with me all the time. You're the best friend anyone can have, mate." She giggled. "I sound like Ron or Fred and George," she said. The two began laughing uproariously as Harry came in, muddy from Quidditch practice. He blinked at them once in confusion, then went to the table Ron was sitting at.

Colin sighed. He wondered if Ginny still had the ring, or if she had given it away or thrown it out. Most likely thrown it out. Theo came up to him, grinning. "Come and see the new prototype Whistler 3000!" he said excitedly, dragging Colin to the front window of Quality Quidditch Supplies. Theo joined Xavier at ogling the broom, while Colin joined Maia behind them.

"Didn't your dad play Quidditch?" Colin asked.

Maia looked at him. "Yes, Father did play Quidditch. So did Mother." She snickered a bit. "Mother even filled in for Father the year Father was kicked off the team by that Undersecretary, Ms. Umbridge. After that, she became Chaser. But Great-grandmother wouldn't let me within ten feet of a broom, never mind a Quidditch or racing broom." She sounded a bit bitter. "I bet if Mother was the one who brought me up, I'd be up there with those two."

"Oh," Colin said. "Well, I suppose you'll be a better flier than me. The reason I'm not up there is because I couldn't even call up the broomstick the first time I tried. It was horrible. Everyone else was able to call up their brooms, but it took me fifteen minutes." Maia gave him a sympathetic look.

Theo and Xavier came back a little later, spouting off compliments for the Whistler 3000. "Mum and Dad wouldn't buy it for me back in Spain," Theo said with a mixture of wistfulness and sadness. "Neither of them liked to fly. Dad was a little afraid to fly... watching was all right, but actual flying..."

"Yeah," Xavier agreed. "Father said he didn't think any first years would need their own brooms. Especially because the letter says no broomsticks." He scowled. His scowl disappeared as he spotted something across the street. "Weasleys' Wizardly Wheezes," he said in awe. "I heard that was one of the best joke shops in the country."

Colin remembered that name. "Weasleys' Wizardly Wheezes?" he said. "As in the makers of Flying Folders?"

Xavier nodded. "The very same one. Theo, mate, it's time to show you a real joke shop. I bet nothing in Spain can even try to beat this one! I've been in it only once, but it was the best. Father wouldn't take me. He and the shop owners don't get along too well. Emily took me that time. But you have to see it! It's bloody brilliant!"

Maia frowned at the usage of language. Xavier noticed, and said, slinging an arm across her shoulder, "Maia, popkin, you must learn to loosen up and have some fun in a while. I'll tell you what. This school year, we'll make you as bad as we are." He grabbed one of her pigtails and yanked it. Maia scowled and sniffed, annoyed, crossing her arms. However, she followed the other three into the joke shop, albeit reluctantly.

The shop was full to the brim with Hogwarts students and their parents. A large, colourful display in the front of the shop displayed huge burlap bags, each marked 'Weasleys' Wizardly Wheezes: Starter Kit'. Colin noticed many students who looked like first years were buying these. Xavier and Theo rushed forward, and grabbed their own Starter Kits. Colin saw Maia roll her eyes at this. Colin remembered Hermione being the exact same way.

Theo and Xavier came back, grinning, lugging their burlap bags behind them. "We've found the Flying Folders, by the way," Theo informed Colin. "Over this way." Colin and Maia followed the other two to a shelf next to the right wall, where an enormous, luminous sign read 'Flying Folders'. It was stacked with multi-coloured folders in all the shades Colin had ever imagined: from a pretty lavender colour (destination: Florean Fortescue's Ice Cream Parlour) to a very ugly folder the same colour as a pile of sick (destination: Azkaban). Of course, it only led into Azkaban, not out of it. Also, behind a magical barrier was a pile of emerald green folders (destination: Hogwarts). A sign told any buyers to contact a shop owner.

Colin spotted the canary yellow folder that brought people to Knockturn Alley. It was high up on the shelves, with folders like ones going to the Ministry of Magic and the Hogshead Pub in Hogsmeade. He wondered why the robed figure who had dropped the folder had been in possession of one, but then decided it was for the transporting of goods to Knockturn Alley. It was the only logical explanation.

"Look at this one," Theo said, pointing to a mud brown folder marked with 'destination: Cave Past Dervish and Banges'. "I wonder why there's a folder to that place."

"Let's buy it," Xavier said. "After all, it makes whoever rides it invisible, so we can sneak out," he added. Theo readily agreed, and tucked it underneath his arm.

"Maia, what are you doing in here?" said a pompous voice from behind Maia. The four turned, and found themselves face to face with a red-headed man. Colin thought he also looked familiar. "I thought you were responsible. What are you doing inside a joke shop? In fact, why did your mother even allow you in here?"

"Hello, Uncle Percy," Maia said meekly. "I was just in here with a few friends, that's all..."

Percy looked around at the three boys. His eyes landed on Xavier, and his frown deepened while his eyes narrowed. "A Malfoy, Maia? Is this who you associate yourself with? A boy from one of the darkest families in the wizarding world?"

"What are you doing in here, Perce?" said a voice to the side. Another red-headed man came into the scene. Colin recognised him as one of the Weasley twins, and from what he had heard so far, it was Fred who stayed at the joke shop all day.

Percy, however, ignored his younger brother. He was looking at someone else, who had entered the shop, and was now standing behind Xavier. "Malfoy," he said acidly.

"Weasley, Weasley, my son Xavier, and his friends Maia, Colin, and Theo," Draco drawled. "I think we're all introduced now. Oh, and here comes another Weasley," he added as Ron Weasley strode in. Colin wasn't expecting Ron to come in. Ginny had told him that Ron had come home, but he hadn't expected him to be there the same day they were shopping. Ron stopped, looking at the hostile glares Draco and Percy were giving each other.

"Whoa, take it outside, you two," Fred said. The two nodded, and walked outside.

"Let's go, Xavier," Draco said imperiously. Xavier followed wordlessly. Theo gave Colin a look before following Ron, who was trying to stop Percy, out the door.


Theo looked at Draco and Percy uncertainly. He found Xavier next to his father, looking like a statue. People were stopping to watch, and a few shook their heads. "Percy, don't be an idiot!" Ron said, trying to stop his brother.

"So, Weasley, what's the agenda today? To put a few other businesses out of work, as an order from that bungler you call Minister? Or is it to spread a new Ordinance? Like, no breathing with your mouth since it irritates our dear Minister?" Draco drawled.

"Quiet, Malfoy. Just because you have a problem with my fam-"

"I have no problems with your family, Weasley. No, I have a problem with you. You're the only one who chooses to start things with my family," Draco said, all traces of unserious conduct gone from his voice.

Percy's eyes narrowed. "Do you know why Aurors end up with certain people as partners, Malfoy? Because they're alike. You and Potter, both of you... arrogant, lying, cheating little-"

He was interrupted by a wand at his throat. It wasn't Draco's. "Did Mum or Dad ever call you an arrogant, lying, cheating little you-know-what?" Ginny said, looking at the four eleven-year-olds. Theo rolled his eyes. They could handle swears. "No? Then you shouldn't be calling other people that. Because that's what you are."

Percy glared at Ginny. Theo stole a glance at Maia. Obviously, this kind of thing had never happened before, as her eyes were wide with shock. "You chose the wrong person, Ginny," Percy spat.

"Oh, and who was I supposed to choose? You?" Ginny said. Percy's eyes glinted, and he suddenly slapped her. Everyone froze in absolute shock. Theo couldn't believe it. Percy had slapped his own sister.

Draco and Ron were about to take out their wands when a calm voice said, "I am surprised, Undersecretary Weasley. Hardly a gentlemanly thing to do. I think your wife will be appalled."

Someone in the crowd screamed, and Theo found himself looking at the same black robed figure that had tried to capture him. How did he get there? He thought. Astiliris had appeared out of nowhere, silently. Percy was turning white rapidly, and Ron was looking confused. "Who are you?" he demanded. "Another one of those Dark Lord strivers?"

"Correction," Astiliris said. "I am Astiliris." With a wave of his wand, Ron, Draco, and Ginny were all disarmed. He hadn't even said anything. Screams erupted from the alley as more robed figures appeared. Jets of light began shooting around, many of them green.

Ron gulped, then said bravely, "You have some fancy little wand tricks, but I bet that if I flicked you, you would fall over."

"Ron, careful!" Ginny said, helping Draco shield Theo and the others.

Astiliris laughed. "Flick me, then."

Theo had an idea. "Hey, you!" he called. "Aren't you here for me, and not him?" Maia, Xavier, and Colin looked at him as if he had gone mad, and Ginny and Draco watched him wide eyed as Astiliris turned to look at Theo instead of Ron.

"Ah, yes," he said. "And how are you today?" he added.

"Great," Theo said. "You want me? Come and get me, then!"

"Theo, no!" Ginny said. She threw herself in front of Theo. "You'll have to get past me first," she spat. She grabbed the wands from Astiliris before he could stop her. Astiliris's hood faced her for a moment, as screams and wails erupted from around them, and then his own wand zoomed back into his hand.

"A little harder than you thought, eh?" he said. "As for getting past you..." he reached into his pocket, and pulled out a little plastic ring strung on a length of red string. He dropped it to the ground. "I found it off someone I defeated," he said. "He was a rather good match, though. He was better than anyone else I've ever duelled." Ginny seemed to stiffen. Astiliris laughed, and swept past her.

Theo ran. All around him, curses and spells were being shouted, as jets of light sped over his head. He very nearly ran into Astiliris, who appeared right in front of him. Theo quickly turned, and ran past him, a jet of red light missing him by a hair's width. He wished he could do spells, but since he didn't know any, his wand was useless.

"Stupefy!" shouted a witch near him. A jet of red light flew out of her wand.

Right, thought Theo. That's a spell I can try to do. He pointed his wand at Astiliris, who had just appeared in front of him, and yelled, "Stupefy!" hoping it would work. It worked, but Astiliris dodged the light, making it slam into a wizard who had been fending off another robed figure. Theo was horrified as the wizard dropped to the ground. I killed someone, he thought disbelievingly. And it wasn't even a robed figure.

Theo stood there, frozen, as Astiliris came closer, until his arm was grabbed by someone. It was Hermione. "What are you doing, standing there?" she demanded. "Get to safety, Theo!"

"Ms. Granger... I think I killed that wizard," sobbed Theo hysterically. "El es muerte!" he said over and over in Spanish, not realising he was speaking another language. Finally, he said, "All I did was say 'Stupefy', and he dropped!"

"Don't worry, Theo, you didn't kill him," Hermione said with some relief.

"Touching," said Astiliris.

"Funny," Hermione said. "I didn't know you had a heart."

Astiliris seemed to consider this. "You're right," he said, pretending it was a new revelation to him. "I don't have a heart. Watch this." Before Hermione could stop him, he had pointed his wand at Theo, and said, "Crucio."

Theo writhed in pain, screaming. A few shops down, Maia Potter also began to scream as a horrible pain hit her.


"Thirty-eight people killed, one hundred fifteen injured," Icicle read grimly to others in the Ministry in the St. Mungo's conference room. "The incoming class of first years to Hogwarts has been reduced to fifteen," she added, gulping. "They will all fit in one House. Headmaster Snape has decided to put them all in Gryffindor Tower for housing, but they will still be sorted."

Ginny wasn't listening. He's gone. The ring proves it, she thought. There's no hope left. He's truly gone. She stared into space, pretending to listen. Next to her, Hermione looked confusedly at the plastic ring. Of course, no one alive but Ginny knew the significance of what Astiliris had done by saying the words he had said, and giving Ginny the ring. No, he would never willingly given it up...

Ginny sat by the fire, twisting her new engagement ring. Hermione sat across from her, grinning, as if to say 'I knew it would happen'. Ginny looked at her, and smiled. "I waited for eleven years for today," she said.

"Long time," said a voice from the door. "Back then, I thought today would be the day I won England its Quidditch Cup." Harry came in, followed by Ron. "And Ron was dreaming about being Headmaster of Hogwarts, or Minister of Magic."

"Was not," Ron said, scowling. "Actually, I was the captain of the English National Team. And I was surrounded by twelve blond veela..." His face showed pure bliss as Hermione scowled darkly. "Joking, Hermione. Besides, Fleur's married to Bill already. She's taken."

Hermione rolled her eyes and stood up to leave. "If you don't mind, Ron and I will be leaving. Jackie and Jack are probably driving poor Penny insane."

"Or Penny's driving them insane," Ron suggested as they made their way out into the Entrance Hall to Disapparate.

"All right," Harry said, squeezing himself onto the chair Ginny was already sitting on. "Get off. It's my chair you're sitting on, Gin-Gin."

"Don't call me Gin-Gin," Ginny said, not budging. She winced as Harry decided to sit down on her instead. "How much do you weigh?"

"I dunno," Harry said. "Oh, I think maybe five million tonnes..." he joked.

"Ha, ha," Ginny said dryly. "Get off, you big lump."

"Ooh, what's this?" Harry said playfully, looking at the little plastic ring hanging from a piece of string around Ginny's neck. "It seems like we all have little hidden objects around our necks. I've got a phoenix, and you've got a plastic ring... oh, and Icicle's got a little dragon, did you know that?"

"How do you know?" Ginny said.

"ISD," Harry said simply. "She was parading around in a bikini when we were on free time. Half the blokes there were drooling, and the other half looked like a bunch of tomatoes. Malfoy was chasing them all off, but you could see him imitating the others when he thought no one was watching."

"I didn't do that," Ginny said, "But look at these." She reached into a drawer, and pulled out a large stack of red and pink envelopes. "Love letters, Harry. It was a lot of work."

"Remind me to kill this Vladmir Polikoff," Harry muttered. "How many letters is he going to send?"

"I don't know. Here, I'll make it up to you," Ginny said, slipping the string with the plastic ring on it over Harry's head. "Consider it an early wedding gift."

Harry raised an eyebrow. "Right," he said. He became serious. "I'll keep it, Gin," he said.

"I know," Ginny said.

"I'll keep it, Gin," Harry's voice echoed through her mind. Ginny sighed. You did, Harry, she thought. It was over. There was no chance. Astiliris had admitted it. A tear ran down Ginny's cheek.

"Are you all right?" Hermione whispered. "Ginny?"

Ginny couldn't hold it in. It was over. She wailed in despair, and many heads turned to face her. "Ginny?" Arthur Weasley said worriedly. Bill and Ron, who were present, both stood up. Icicle stopped talking, and exchanged a look with Draco. Only Percy remained nonchalant. He sat in his chair, staring into his cup of tea.

Hermione led Ginny away. A Healer came to the door, stopping when she saw Ginny. "Your daughter is awake," she said. "She's fine now. The boy, though, remains unconscious." Behind her, Maia stepped out uncertainly. Ginny kneeled down, hugging her, clutching her as if she was her last thread of life.

"Mother?" Maia said, surprised. She hugged her tentatively back, and then said softly, as if unsure, "Mum..." The word seemed foreign to her. She looked up at Hermione, looking unsure of what to do. "Mummy... let's go visit Grandmother," she said. "Maybe that will make you feel better."

Ginny nodded, and she allowed herself to be led to the wing where Mrs. Weasley was. Mrs. Weasley herself was sitting at a table, drinking a cup of tea, and looking at Mrs. Longbottom. "Neville," Hermione said in greeting. Neville turned. He smiled at Hermione, but looked worried as he looked at Ginny.

"What's wrong?" he asked. When Hermione shook her head, Neville looked once more at Ginny, then turned back to talking to his mother.

"Oh, hello," Mrs. Weasley said, looking at Hermione, Maia, and Ginny. "Are you here to visit me? I haven't had any visitors for a while... my children are all at Hogwarts now, you know, and three are grown-up. My twins are about to leave," she said. "My youngest is in her fourth year."

"Hello, Mrs. Weasley," Hermione said, sitting in the seat across from her.

"You must be Mrs. Granger," Mrs. Weasley said. "Hermione looks so much like you, you know."

"Yes," Hermione said sadly. "She does look quite like me, doesn't she? Although she does get into some dangerous adventures at that school."

Mrs. Weasley nodded. "I told Sirius, that would be Harry's godfather, to not tell them anything. No doubt they're doing something new. Ron sent me a letter. That Umbridge woman... did you know she's kicked half the Gryffindor Quidditch team off the team?"

"Yes," Hermione said. Upon seeing Ginny starting to gulp again, she changed the subject. "I've been stressing with Hermione about the importance of those exams she has to take at the end of this year."

"O.W.L.s?" Mrs. Weasley said. "Yes, I've been telling Ron to study as well. But he just won't listen. And Sirius... he's not telling Harry to do..."

There was a dry sob from Ginny. Mrs. Weasley turned to look at her. "Do I know you, dear?" she asked kindly.

Ginny began to sob again. "Oh, dear," Mrs. Weasley said. "I do know you, don't I?"

A Healer sprinted into the room. "Miss Weasley, Miss Granger, Healer Longbottom is requesting that you follow me!" she said hurriedly. Ginny stopped sobbing, and looked up, alarmed. "It's the boy," the Healer said.

Ginny and Hermione sprinted out of the ward, after the Healer, to a small room. "She says she wants you two in there, and only you two," the Healer said, looking worried. She nodded, and left. Ginny and Hermione burst into the room. Luna was on the left side of the bed.

Luna cut her off. She looked at Theo, who was lying on the bed, pale and sickly-looking. "He's dying," she said sadly. "Look... the charm's coming off..." She looked at Ginny, who nodded grimly. "It might be easier for him if we take it off him..."

"Finite Incantatem," Hermione said, doing a special motion with her wand. Ginny and Luna watched silently. Theo's hair darkened, until it was black, but oddly, neat, and he grew a little taller. His freckles disappeared.

"He... he..." Ginny said. Suddenly, Theo's eyes sprang open.